Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day!

Today marks my district's fifth snow day this school year. I don't know about you, but I start to feel pretty anxious if I'm not productive on days off. I thought I'd kick off today by waking up early and cooking an indulgent breakfast just for me! Obviously if you need to, I guess you can share with your family members since it makes 12 servings.

The recipe is from Alexandra's Kitchen and you can find it here!
I already had almost all of the ingredients already. And believe me, I'm not one of those cooks who has a fully-stocked pantry- this is just a really simple recipe. I just had to go out and grab 2 cups of blueberries before I could start baking away.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 7/8 cup* + 1 tablespoon sugar**
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (set aside 1/4 cup of this to toss with the blueberries)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk***

    * 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons

    ** This 1 tablespoon is for sprinkling on top

    *** To make homemade buttermilk, place 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup. Fill cup with milk until it reaches the 1-cup line. Let stand for five minutes. Use only 1/2 cup of the prepared mixture for the recipe.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and 7/8 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

The recipe says to bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees, but I baked it for 45 minutes and could have probably baked it for another 5 or 10 minutes to get that perfect golden brown, but I was too impatient to eat it!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Favorite Fourth Grade Read Aloud Book!

I ordered "The Day the Crayons Quit" from Scholastic Book Order after hearing so many teachers and parents rave about it. I was unsure about how it would go over with the upper elementary crowd but decided it would be a fun read aloud on our first day back to school after winter break.

Oh man, I have never had so many laughs at a read loud. My fourth graders LOVED it. They wanted to see it afterwards to read it over and over again!

It's a story about a little boy's box of crayons who write letters to him one day expressing their outrage toward him in some way or  another. Some crayons are upset that he uses them too much, some crayons are upset that he uses them too little. The author, Drew Daywalt, is incredibly humorous.

This book is a perfect model for letter-writing or personification! After we finished the read aloud, I asked my students to pick a school supply in their desks and write a letter to themselves from the perspective of that school supply. They had a blast with this activity because it really let their imaginations soar!

If you'd like to purchase the book for your classroom or your own children, I can't recommend that you do so enough! I even read it aloud to my coworkers because it was so funny! Find it on amazon here: 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Currently January 2015

I can't believe it's going to be 2015. Doesn't that feel like such a futuristic year? Maybe it's just me but I remember when it was New Years Eve 1999 and being so excited for the year 2000. I can't believe that was 15 years ago!

Listening- We've been binging on Netflix since we got home yesterday. My husband is watching "Crimes of the Century" right now while I'm reading "The Devil in the White City."

Loving- Our house is clean. I spent all week before we left (two weeks ago) making the house spotless so when we came home we would have one less thing to do and could relax. And now I've got my scentsy on with Christmas Cottage inside- best. smell. ever.

Thinking- about jury duty. We got home after 2 weeks of travelling all over the country (four Christmases) to a fun jury summons letter. Man, they don't give you much time to prepare! I'll have to take off a full week the second week we return to school. I am NOT looking forward to writing a week's worth of sub plans.

Wanting- I am going over to a friend's new house tonight for a party with lots of snacks, fun and games! Really looking forward to it and wishing it was 7:00 already!

Needing- More days off- I know. I'm greedy. I haven't relaxed at all yet though.

Yes to running- always my resolution!
Maybe to being open to opportunities.. more on that later in the month!
And I'm always wishing for a lifetime of happiness for my family and friends.
Happiness to me would be lots of travelling and memories in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

December BarkBox + 10% off

My favorite day of the month is when the BarkBox arrives! We were out of town for the holidays so we just got to open the December BarkBox today! Sometimes I think I'm more excited than my pup...

This is our dog- Brooklyn! She's a 3-year old miniature schnauzer. We had her annual vet visit today so it was a great day for a BarkBox after a bit of poking and prodding.

I love the cute wintery paper that wrapped up all the goodies in this month's box!

Two toys and a bandana in this month's box! 
The christmas bulb toy is by Orbee, one of our favorite dog toy companies! It has a strong minty scent to it so makes your dog's breath smell great when they play with it and it's made of thick, durable, bouncy material. 
The Penguin's belly is filled with crinkly plastic, which our dog LOVES.

Two edible treats in this month's box!
The bag of treats is HUGE. They're lamb biscuits from Superior Farms and the best part is that they're gluten-free!
The other treat is a Yeti Dog Chew- also in the largest size available. Brooklyn has had a Himalayan dog chew before and really enjoyed it. I like that they don't stain your furniture/blanket/carpet or wherever your dog decides to chow down on the treat.

One of my favorite things is that BarkBox includes a card in each box describing each toy and treat so that you know what you're giving your dog and also so that you can reorder if you need to in the future! All the toys and treats are made in the USA or Canada and BarkBox doesn't send sample sizes- it's all the regular size products from companies that you'll find featured monthly in each box. 

If you'd like to get in on the fun, click HERE to order. By clicking through that link, you'll automatically get 10% off your order! Then your pup can be just as happy as ours on a monthly basis!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

High-Interest Books for new, struggling or reluctant readers

I have a lot of students in my class that are English Language Learners (ELL). As fourth graders, they're drawn to books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Bone, Harry Potter and Dear Dumb Diary. Don't get me wrong, Harry Potter is my favorite book of all time, but I need my kids to be reading on their reading level and the vast majority of my students (22 out of 24, actually) are reading below-grade level.

For the past four years of my teaching career, I have consistently struggled to find high-interest books that intrigue intermediate readers but are also written at a lower lexile level for my ELL students.

SO!!! I would like to share with you this month's most popular high-interest book written for lower-level readers that was a hit in my classroom! My students were dying to have their turn reading this book, I even ordered more copies from Amazon tonight.

The Candy Corn Contest by Patricia Reilly Giff!

The book is called The Candy Corn Contest and it's appealing to all my fourth graders but is written at a 20 DRA level (Grade level 3.2; Guided Reading Level L). The book is a chapter book, is a good length (82 pages) and the text-size looks like a fourth grade-level book. I know that's a lot of details, but if a book looks too "baby-ish" to my kids, they often aren't interested in reading it. And it is, of course, perfect for October because it's about candy corn, but the book takes place in November after Halloween.

Here is the summary from Amazon: 
"It's almost Thanksgiving and Richard Best can't stop thinking about Ms. Rooney's Candy Corn contest. Whoever can guess the exact number of yellow-and-orange candies in the jar on ms. Rooneys' desk gets to keep them all. The only problem is Richard has to read a page in a library book for each guess. Smelly Matthew, who sits in front of him, knows they'll never win. "We're the worst readers in the class," he says. But Richard won't give up. He can already taste those candy corns."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Giveaway Alert!

Be sure to enter Melissa's 1000 Follower Giveaway at Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late! Today is only day 1 and already it's packed with prizes. In today's two giveaways, you can win prizes from 8 different TPT teacher sellers including a $5 Winner's Choice prize from my shop!

You can also enter to win the quietest pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies!

Hop on over {here} to congratulate Melissa on 1000 followers and enter these giveaways! Don't forget to check back tomorrow for more!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently September!!

Ok so here's what's currently going on!

Listening: My hubby and dog can fall asleep so quickly. I'm much more of a night owl so that explains why I'm awake at this hour. I am pretty much nocturnal over the summer when there's no alarm set.

Loving: I am loving this 3 day weekend. We were able to go up to Pittsburgh to visit my husband's grandma. We went to Ribfest at Heinz Field and hung out with my in-laws and nephew. We've been travelling a ton lately and it's nice to see them so often. We'll see them again in 2 weeks!

Thinking: Of course my mind is on Tuesday- it's our first day of school! Yep, that's right, we still haven't started school yet.

Wanting: Lots of fall clothes! I just signed up for Stitch Fix and spent the night on Pinterest making my perfect stitch fix pinterest board. If you'd like to check out Stitch Fix click {here}. It's like Netflix but for clothes from a personal stylist. They get your measurements and you create a personal style quiz. Then you can create a pinterest board for them to look at while they're styling a box of 5 items for you!

Needing: I have been DYING of allergies. I'm not sure if they're indoor or outdoor allergies.. I've never had allergies like this before. My eyes are swollen shut and I could barely breathe on Friday. I've been taking Allegra and medicated eye drops and I guess I'll just have to make a doctor's appointment next.

3 Trips: I've been to Italy but it has so many different cities, I'd love to go back. I also flew through Germany once and was amazed and so want to go back, but I wanted to choose places that were really diverse for this! So I chose Ireland, Bora Bora and Budapest. Ireland is my family's homeland so that's pretty self-explanatory. Oh and plus irish accents? Swoon!! The Hilton at Bora Bora is just too picturesque to resist. And then Budapest has always intrigued me. But if I could add a fourth it would be Greece because I love Greek food. Clearly I just need to backpack around the world.