November 27, 2015

Christmas Wish List

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we can post Christmas lists, right?  Are you shopping today? I'm not because it's cold out and there's no need for dealing with crowds.  A day off of work should be spent in absolute relaxation, away from tons of people, in my opinion.  I've been accomplishing chores and checking tasks off my to-do list all week.  This is Christmas tree day.

I don't see an issue with decorating before Thanksgiving and I do shop well before Thanksgiving because I have to get our gifts ready to mail home to Pennsylvania.  However, I take issue with running out at 3pm (shame on you, JCPenney) on Thanksgiving to buy crap you don't need.  Like, what do you need that badly? If it's not a food item, it can wait until Friday (afternoon). You, again, don't need to leave the house at 3am for fleece blankets and kitchen gadgets you'll never use.

However, if you're looking for ideas for what to get me for Christmas...

*There are NO affiliate links here, so click away :)*

Socks.  I honest to goodness need socks.  I like these from Target. And super warm socks, like hunting socks ...only for me to wear while I watch t.v., not while I hunt (obviously). Scott is getting tired of me stealing his.

These boots from Madden Girl.  I love them a lot. And if you're buying them for me, let me know. I have a coupon and will use it ASAP, otherwise.

Mukluk boots.  My current Bear Paw ones are from 2010 and kind of starting to fall apart.

Combat boots.  I'm into shoes and socks right now I guess.

One of these J.Crew (Factory) vests.  They're lovely.

An Athleta gift card. 

A Nordstrom gift card. For all those purses I always want to buy.

New living room pillows.  Blankets are always good too.

I also lovelovelove getting books for Christmas.

And my birthday is in January, so save this post as a bookmark (mom)...

What do you want for Christmas???

November 26, 2015

Stuffings (Stuff and Things Thanksgiving Edition)

Stuff, Things, etc.

+This post doesn't have much to do with Thanksgiving, but "Stuffings" is too cute to waste.

+If I would've been prepared, there'd be a giveaway like last year.  It snuck up on me this year.

+I'm on Thanksgiving break this week. Hallelujah.

+Are you shopping tomorrow?  I do 99% of my shopping online because leaving the house is sometimes overrated.  I usually try to find gifts with meaning and connection.

Speaking of shopping, I need a new phone. My camera has a weird black speck on the lens (note my hair) and I don't know how to fix that. I've poked and prodded at it for a year now.

Angi from The Urban North sent me this headband as a gift last week and I love it.  I ordered one for my friend too and a hat for her baby.  I've worn these headbands for years, before they were mainstream, and I bought my first two from a small business in Alaska.  They're still going strong. If you're into Small Business Saturday, check out some Etsy shops.

+Speaking of small business, I went to the Holiday Bazaar on base last weekend.  The annual Holiday Bazaar that happens on every single military base is my favorite part of the military.  (I wish I were kidding.) I spent a lot on gifts for others, but I feel kinda good about it.

+As a holiday special, I'm giving away a free gift (or two!) to anyone who signs up as a Preferred Customer with Rodan+Fields between now and Christmas.

There is also a Holiday Lip Promotion AND a Beyond the Shave regimen for the men in your life. Both will be delivered already packaged as gift boxes. Very convenient.

...NOW is totally the time to get the skin you want :)

Also, if you sign up as a Preferred Customer on or before November 30th, you'll be entered to win this REDEFINE MACRO Exfoliator.

+And Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm thankful for all of you, coming back to read these thoughts/things of mine day after day. You're very appreciated and bring me a lot of joy.

If you need a last-minute dessert to take to a gathering today or this weekend, here's some Last-Minute Thanksgiving Ideas.

November 24, 2015

November 23, 2015

Two Things That Bother Me the Most as a Teacher

Are you surprised there's only two things that bother me the most?  I kind of am too.  As I read through the drivel of a list that I wrote about in this post, I realized that none of those so-called teacher problems bother me.  When I think about the national policies that are strangling schools, the curriculums that not truly effective, the rating systems and busywork (paperwork) that are pushing good teachers out of the profession, the low pay, the low-parent involvement, and the low funds given to schools in poverty...there's a lot of things that bother me.  But that's all out of my control and I certainly don't complain about getting too many mugs as gifts.


As an actual teacher, I have a couple of complaints.  Only two.  These are quite possibly my two biggest pet peeves in education just because they lead to a slew of other problems. I've seen these problems in schools across the country.  My overarching theory about education is that kids are kids everywhere.

Things that bother me as a teacher...

1.  Parents who write their kid's name on the kid's homework.
Strange, right?  My advice to parents is this: If you don't want your kid living in your basement in twenty years, stop writing their name on their paper.  Your child is capable and smart.  You tell me so every time we talk. They learned how to write their name when they were 4 years old.  They know how.
You enabling this behavior of them not putting their name on their paper ASAP is exactly why my "No Name" pile overfloweth.  You are keeping that purple bin in business.  If you put their name on their homework at night, they will not see the need to write their name on their math quiz the next day. They will get a zero because there is no math quiz grade attached to their name. You will be angry about the zero (and tell me so). You will glare at your child when we discover he/she did not write their name on their quiz.  They will take their homework home that night and you will write their name on their paper.  The cycle beginith again.
My rule for the first semester is that no-name papers go in the No Name pile.  Second semester? I throw them away.

2.  Parents who carry their kid's stuff. 
I spend a lot of time repeating myself.  For example, if I were talking to Sally: This is Sally's homework that Sally forgot. It's not mom's homework. It's Sally's responsibility to bring Sally's homework back to school.  Mom doesn't have to sit here and take the test, unprepared. Mom doesn't have to miss recess. This is Sally's job, not mom's job. 
I always give the example of What if I didn't do something the principal wanted me to do? because we all have jobs.
This speech would come after Sally told me that her mom took her homework out of her backpack and didn't put it back in and that's why Sally forgot her homework.
This happens, with at least one student, every single day. It's always My mom took it out and I don't know where she put it. ALWAYS.
And it's totally a cycle because everyone this happens to is a repeat offender and it probably starts when mom carries the kid's backpack to the car after school. The kid, not being forced to stow their own belongings, is absolved of ALL responsibility and then is greeted at home with lots of snacks and playtime and extracurriculars. All while the backpack probably stays in the car or sits on the floor of the foyer, unopened.
Though, if you ask the child why their homework isn't done (on any given day), the answer is always I went home. I got a bath. Then I had to go to bed.  ALWAYS.  There's no mention of dinner, playtime, tv, friends, etc. It always involves a bath and straight to bed.
So when I see a ten or eleven-year old pass off their backpack to their parent the second they leave my classroom door, I get kind of agitated.  I'm certainly not giving them enough materials to take home on a daily basis that they can't physically carry it.  They're not trying to make a connection at an airport.  There's no suitcase involved.  They don't even take any textbooks home.  The physical weight of the backpack isn't the issue; the metaphorical weight of what passing off that bag represents is very telling.  Fair warning: If your kid is in my class, the first thing I'll notice is who is carrying the backpack.
Carrying a project to school is different.  I'm talking about the day-to-day backpack. The one that holds 2-3 pieces of paper and a folder and a planner.

And I do work as hard as I expect my students to. This is my pile of stuff to accomplish over Thanksgiving break.

Teachers, thoughts?

Parents, am I awful? 

November 22, 2015

Recipe Recap (thus far) and My Grandma's Banana Bread

I'm three weeks behind on this self-imposed challenge and I kind of hate myself for doing it in the first place, but that's life.  And, truth be told, there's many things here I make regularly, so I've been uninspired to develop new stuff.  Practical and useful is more important to me in a recipe than innovative. I've also spent the better part of this year living by myself, so I tend to stick to the same foods. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Baked Crab Dip
2. Mint Oreo Ice Cream Cake
3. 30 Minute Leek and Potato Soup
4. Company Chili
5. Cookie Dough Ice Cream
6. Scott's Salmon
7. Homemade Marinara Sauce
8. Homemade Naan Pizza
9. Crockpot Chicken Curry
10.  Steak Fries
11. Sort of Homemade Chicken Stock
12. Carrot Cake Blondies
13. Crockpot BBQ Pulled Pork
14. Mint Oreo Rice Krispy Treats
15. Basil-Oregano Pesto
16. Italian Couscous
17. Limeaide Margaritas
18. Burrito Bowls
19. Sausage Breakfast Bake
20. Maple Donut Muffins
21. Pumpkin Pupcakes
22. Maple Scones
23. Fajita Quinoa
24. Pineapple-Ginger Smoothie
25. Blender Guacamole
26. Caramel Rice Krispy Treats
27. Birthday Cake S'mores
28. S'mores Popcorn
29. Roasted Garlic
30. Peach Crisp
31. Lemon-Lime Bars
32. Honey-Sunbutter
33. 3-Ingredient Mango Salsa
34. (a link to) Mexican Stuffed Shells
35. Jalapeno Popper Dip
36. Grilled Zucchini
37. Pizza Lasagna
38. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
39. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
40. Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
41. Peanut Butter Frosting
42. Hershey's Kiss Cookies
43. Beef Vegetable Soup
44. Grandma's Banana Bread

If you're looking for Thanksgiving-friendly foods, I recommend #1, the Baked Crab Dip and #39 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I'm hoping to have our turkey recipe up next week (because we have to make it, of course) and you can always file it away for Christmas.  Growing up, we had turkey on Christmas too.  So, to me, Thanksgiving smells like Christmas without the presents.

Moving on...

Recipe challenge, week forty-four.

Today, I want to share a post I first wrote 5 years ago.  It was, I think, the second recipe I ever posted.  My grandma had a banana bread recipe that used Bisquick and it probably just came off of the Bisquick box. But it was written in her own handwriting and still sits in my mom's recipe binder, so I'm calling it a family recipe. I've never actually found it on a Bisquick box if that makes a difference.  This is one of my go-to recipes.  I make it multiple times a year and it's a quick and easy way to use up ripe bananas.
Practical and useful for sure.

Make sure you top it off with vanilla frosting or cheese cheese frosting or peanut butter frosting. You really can't go wrong with this recipe. 
^If you're looking for a dessert recipe, scroll through the Frosting tag.  Yum.

November 20, 2015

Anoraks and Lace

I took this picture in the morning at 6:30am on my way out the door.  You can't really see the lace on the dress, so I lightened it up to make the pattern visible. 

Coat: Target // Dress: Gap (old) // Boots: Madden Girl

I used to wear this dress without leggings, but it shrunk after a wash and now I need to wear leggings. Of course, it was like 40 degrees out so I need to wear leggings on a day such as this anyway.  

Also, this is a $13 haircut from Great Clips.  I like going to Great Clips because when I say Cut 3 inches off, they actually cut 3 inches off. When I went to Veda, the fancy salon, I'd say to cut a few inches off and they'd talk me out of it and I'd pay $40 for a trim.  

What's your limit for a haircut? I've found that the cheaper the haircut, the more I like it. 

November 19, 2015

Stuff and Things 11/19

Stuff, Things, etc.

+The Girls on the Run season is officially over, and I must say I'm relieved that I don't have to stay after school anymore.  It was a good experience and I'm glad I got to know some of the other teachers/coaches better since I'm new to the school.  And I got to establish positive relationships with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls.

My only real issue with the whole thing is the cost.  Coaches are volunteers.  It's a non-profit organization, which is great, but it's $150 per girl for a 10-12 week season.  For schools with a free and reduced lunch count between 30-60%, it's $75 a girl.  For schools with a free and reduced lunch count above 60%, it's $10 a girl.  The cost pays for shirts, race registrations, materials, etc.  If your school can get a sponsor, the cost goes way down. Almost everything else is sponsored by businesses, national and local, though.  It's just one of those of those things where you'll only get a certain subset of the population joining the teams, so the girls who need the coaching and guidance in life (and in running) won't always be able to join.  While several of the girls I worked with were super sweet and gained a lot from the program, they didn't necessarily need the coaches to be positive role models in their lives because they had moms and dads who were willing to pay $75 for Girls on the Run in the first place.  Make sense?  I still believe in the program and will probably coach again in the future.

+I saw this on Facebook and had to click.  50 Reasons Why You the Military Wife Deserve a Standing Ovation.  #20, #21, #39, #40 especially, and then #50.  However, a lot of them are cliched and the same old, same old.  And I think "wife" should be changed to "spouse" in the title because there's just as many husbands out there sacrificing. But really, #40: The only way through is through. I've gotten to be really good at this.

+It did lead me to another post: 6 Things to Say that Won't Encourage Military Wives.  All of those are VERY true and I really get #1: The only time I'll ask for help is when I'm desperate.  Otherwise, I (like many others) just hunker down and deal with the inconveniences.

+Concerning Rodan and would make a great Christmas gift!  For you, a family member, a friend...I will say that I'm sending a few products as gifts this year (and I did buy them myself) just because they are life-changing and I'd love to give someone the opportunity to try them out.
If you're not into a full regimen, there's several mini-regimens you can put together.  Mixing and matching is always an option!

And each of these sets would last more than 60 days.  The microdermabrasion paste, honestly, lasted me an entire YEAR, using it 2-4 times a week. 

And, also, my friend posted this on Facebook a few days ago and it's SO true.  I often shy away from trying to "sell" the product and usually just wait for others to come to me with interest. The reason why is because many people see it as expensive.  I saw it as expensive (um, still do sometimes), but good skin is priceless and sometimes a graphic like this will put it into perspective.

Also, this one.  When you break it down by product/day, it's not any more than you'd be spending in on drugstore or department store products. This is Redefine, for wrinkles/lines/smoothing:

Any stuff or things to share?

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November 18, 2015

A list of stuff teachers supposedly don't like

This article was on Facebook.  It's one of those "things teachers don't tell you" lists or something.  It barely makes sense to me.

This is supposedly a list of stuff that teachers don't like.

1.  Too many mugs for back to school gifts.  The article mentions that teachers are complaining about getting too many mugs as back-to-school gifts. Is that a thing?  I've only gotten a handful of mugs in the last 6 years anyway, and one I still use because it's from a favorite student my very first year. When I have a too-many-mugs-for-back-to-school-gifts problem, it's time to move to a less affluent school I suppose.
I don't think I've ever gotten a back-to-school gift and I also don't think I ever expected one.

2. Parents who ignore information from the school.  I don't think this is specific to parents and school.  A lot of us ignore stuff we're supposed to know about (how many times have I paid bills late?)  And this also implies that I have all day to update the class website or something.  I don't.  I use an app to update parents on stuff they immediately need to know and if they don't read it, they don't read it. I can't do anything about that. The motto I've been taught is that we do what we can with the 7 hours we have the students and the rest is out of our control.

3. Parents who refuse to put away their cell phone when picking up/dropping off.  Again, not specific to parents and students.  And maybe we could mention how it's unsafe to be holding your phone with one hand as you're navigating a complicated pick-up/drop-off line.  That's what bothers me, because there's kids running everywhere. The author doesn't even mention it.

4. Parents who send their child with supplies that aren't on the list.  Sure, this can be bothersome, but I just tell the kid to take them home or hold onto the supplies until whenever...there is no law that says the student must be allowed to use their individual electric pencil sharpener at their seat just because their parents decided they should have one.
Again, my problem is usually kids who don't have supplies, not kids with fancy, distracting ones.  #mustmovetoricherschools

5. Parents who blame other kids when their child does something wrong.  This is so dumb.  It's Teaching 101.  Of course kids and parents look to make it known that there were other kids involved in whatever incident it was, BUT I've never had a parent outright blame it on someone else.  Most things kids do go two ways anyway: there's always someone's other side of the story.

I feel like this author watched a movie about "how to teach" from the 1970s and then wrote an article...

6.  Parents who assume teachers don't like their child when they earn a failing grade.  See above.
I've had questions about how I arrive at grades, and a few times I was questioned over how my grading system works...but I've never been told I have it out for a particular child (eh, maybe once).  Plus, the parents who ask these questions *usually* have good kids and they just want to know how to make their child more successful.

7.  Parents who refuse to let their child take ownership of their actions.  Duh. Of course it bothers teachers, but it's such a broad topic.  And this is a generic list.

8.  Parents who ignore recommendations and push their child too hard.
I've never encountered this.  Again, #mustmovetorichschools.

9.  Parents who refuse to set aside their family differences for the benefit of their child.
First of all, family dynamics are none of my business.  I like to understand who/what/where/when will be taking care of your child and who I can contact, but I would never judge someone the way this author implies her sources are judging families.
Plus, I've often done more than one conference per student for different sets of parents because that's just how it works. Being accommodating will get you far.

Anyway.  This list is dumb.  It grazes the surface of what maybe the public perceives teachers' mindsets to be and I would be shocked to find out if it was written by an actual teacher.  I feel like it was compiled by a columnist who pulled generic information from other places.

I'd look into it right now but I have to go teach.

November 17, 2015

Beef Vegetable Soup

NOTE: Today is a snow day.  I started this last night but apparently have no follow-through.


I swear I want to blog.  I have dozens of half-written posts.  Ideas for more than that. Lots I could share. But something happens on the weekend...I've been treating my weekends like to-do lists and I've really been stressing myself out (that's one of those half-written posts you may never see). If I don't have blog posts written and ready by noon on Sunday...there will be no blog posts.  So, as I type, it's 6:51pm on Monday, and I'm contemplating a shower, 15 minutes of Pilates, and bed by 7:45. IS Monday, which means Jane the Virgin. And I do still have to watch OUAT from Sunday.  And I do have tests to grade.  But I'm hoping for a snow day tomorrow. 

Jane will be on the DVR for tomorrow evening (or, better yet, during my snow day).  I introduced my teammate at school to the show.  After we discussed for awhile (while we were supposed to be planning or something), I asked: Team Michael or Team Rafael? She said Team Michael.  I'm Team Rafael.  I don't think she and I can be friends anymore. 

Recipe challenge, week forty-three (but really there's going to be more than one recipe per week sometimes because I'm counting recipes more than I'm counting weeks at this point because I'm running out of time).

(Who am I kidding...there will be a solid week of just recipes at the end of December just so I can get them done with and posted.)

(Carry on.)

Believe it or not, I started this recipe months ago and thought that I wrote it down and then I realized I didn't and then I realized I lost the recipe my mom gave me years ago and then I needed to start over again so I've been putting it off.

Crockpot Beef Stew
use a 6 quart crockpot

Beef stew meat, 1 pound (It can be frozen, but should be cut into 1 inch chunks if you haven't bought it that way. Trimming the fat is also a good idea.)
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
4 cups cold water

Put all of those ingredients in the crockpot for about 2 hours on high.

Then add:

2 cans beef broth or stock
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1 can corn, or 1 cup frozen corn
1 can green beans, or 1 cup frozen green beans
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 T. tomato paste
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery

Turn the crockpot to low and let it slow-cook all day, 6-8 hours. You could let it go for much longer too if you need to. This batch cooked for about 10 hours total.

If you are freezing this soup, let it cool first, skim any fat off the top, and then divide into Ziploc freezer bags and lay flat to freeze.  I got 3 bagfuls of this, so that's 3 separate meals.

November 13, 2015

Comfort T.V.

Should there be a picture in every post? I don't have a picture that doesn't require an explanation. And taking time to explain a picture would take away from the high-quality writing that is about to ensue....


Last week, I finished Jane the Virgin and I didn't know what to do with the rest of my life. That's a little overdramatic because there are new episodes on Mondays, but who wants to wait a week between episodes? And I felt the same way when I finished Grimm.  There's new episodes on Fridays but, again, that's a whole week between them.  And you know there will be some kind of 6 week hiatus over Christmas for all these network shows.  This is what I don't generally watch network T.V. They screw around too much.

I've not been keeping up with Homeland, TWD, The Affair, or The Leftovers.  Scott likes those shows so I figure we can catch up together over Christmas break. I am still watching OUAT every week because Scott does not, I repeat does not, like that show.

So this led me to the question of What do I watch? I have shows that I go to when I want nothing but familiarity and that way I can go about my business with cleaning, cooking, school work, laying around, etc...with my good friends interacting on a screen in the background.

Right now, my show of choice is Weeds.  I have such good memories attached to watching all eight seasons of this show.  We watched it on a projector in our loft in Alaska, eating ice cream and passing the time to get through an Alaskan winter.

Friday Night Lights and Gossip Girl have also been a drug of choice, because there's nothing like Tim Riggins and Chuck Bass to keep you company (has anyone watched Wicked City, by the way?).  The character development on those two shows will also never fail to impress me.

When I went through my just-finished-a-show withdrawal last week, I attempted several other shows to pull me out of the funk.  Nothing worked.

I tried Revenge again because I never finished the last season.  No.
I attempted Chasing Life because, hey, you never know.  No. Boring and predictable and I didn't care about the characters.  And there was something about it that bothered me. It seemed very behind-the-times. Like it was filmed 5 years ago and just now aired or something.  Confusing.
Better Off Ted.  One episode.  I didn't buy in.
Drop Dead Diva. Per Joey's recommendation.  One episode and I didn't hate it.  I didn't feel like going further right now though.
Reign. Per another friend's recommendation. While I'm a fan of European history, these period pieces (The Tudors, etc.) aren't my cup of tea. Maybe I should give it more than one episode.

Alright, I'll give in. Here's a picture that relates well to the post.

What are you watching these days?