Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The end of another year

Without a doubt, this has been the hardest year of school I have had to date.  Now I realize that its only my 5th year of teaching, but being able to qualify my 5th year as harder than my first is really saying something.  I have been running on E this year for a good majority of the time.  This was my first year of grad school and trying to find a balance between the two and to do a good job at each came with its challenges.  School itself presented some challenges this year that I had not yet encountered as a teacher.
But all of that being said, we made it through, my kids and I all grew tremendously from the beginning of the year and as ready as I am for a break, this will be the toughest group of kids for me to pass along yet.
I am beyond thankful for the lessons that I have learned this year, the ways that I have grown as a teacher, the ways that I have learned to meet my students needs and the ways that God has strengthened me throughout these past 10 months.

Next year will bring 2 new things: 
I am saying goodbye to kindergarten and am moving to second grade to teach and I will be (hopefully) finishing up my graduate degree in May.
This summer I am praying for rest of mind, body and spirit, preparation for a new grade level and renewal for the school year to come. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Office Organization

Our desk had become a place that gathered clutter.  Unfortunately I needed the desk for homework.  Part of the problem was that the desk did not have any storage and the book shelf that was in there did not hold too much.  After looking for a new desk and not finding one that we really liked, we opted to change out the storage in the office instead.  Pinterest helped me find the Ikea Expedit Shelf
I also picked up the green storage boxes at Ikea.  Our books are organized a little better and I weeded through some so that I will not become a hoarder.  I reorganized these drawers and used scrapbook paper on the front to make the drawers a little bit more presentable.
I reorganized my books at school and had some left over magazine files (also from ikea) but did not want their plain white selves in my shelf.  I read on Pinterest (oh my I am betting you are tired of hearing that) that you could recover magazine files with fabric.  Can you guess what kind of fabric I had extra of at my house?  Burlap, of course.  I used fabric glue to adhere the burlap to the magazine file and hot glue to attach it to the inside and bottom.  I used hot glue to attach ribbon to the files, so now I have a place for my grad school notes and loose papers.
I also won a gift certificate from Eighteen25 for Kari Machal Designs on etsy.  I ended up getting a lot of prints, but the two that worked with this shelf were the Deer Silhouettes.  I placed them in fairly girly white frames and love them!
I like the right side of shelf top but need to either rerrange or add something to better balance out the left side.  Any suggestions?
We now have a much more functional office!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I love books and I love reading, which is quite important when you consider the fact that I teach reading.  I love the feel of the pages and have used this as my hold out on not getting an e-reader for so long.  Well my dad passed along his Kindle and I accepted somewhat reluctantly, but I LOVE it!  Its super convenient, small and I have so many books literally at my fingertips.  I'm officially pro e-reader.
Any book suggestions?

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Patriotic Wreath

I found this wreath on Pinterest a while back and decided it would be good to make for July 4th. 
You need a straw wreath (leave the plastic wrapping on to keep it a little less bumpy), red white and blue yarn, scissors, pins to secure the yarn on the back and hot glue to attach the buttons.
I already had a wreath, so I picked up some yarn and searched for some white buttons.
 I started with the blue yarn and wrapped it around a little over 1/4 of the wreath.  I did not have too much luck making it lay flat side by side.  You might have to go back and recover any area where the wreath still shows through.
Or if you happen to have left the yarn out on the ground, you might have to clean up if two puppies find the yarn and realize that as it rolls it unravels...

I used a tape measure to the remaining portion of the wreath and divided the number of inches by 10.  I used a sharpie to mark it.  I alternated red and white sections making sure to not leave any straw part of the wreath showing.
I glued the buttons onto the blue part of the wreath and added a loop of triple stranded red yarn so that it was ready to hang.
Easy wreath! Its a great task if you're one of those people who cannot sit still through a movie....not that I would know about that kind of person.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


There is a restaurant at the entrance to our neighborhood called Clementines

For some reason in the 3+ years that we have lived here, we had never visited the restaurant (I mean we just don't eat out that much).  In fact, the very idea that we had not yet visited Clementines became an on going joke between us and several members of our family.  Well low and behold a Groupon came up a few weeks ago and I seized the opportunity for us to have a dinner out. 
Cody and I walked up to Clementine's last night for dinner and were pleasantly surprised with the food.  Their menu had a good variety, but we both ended up with Italian. 
Cody ordered the chicken parmesan and I got the lasagna.  We also may have gotten bread pudding too...and it might've been really good.  We will definitely be visiting again! A good restaurant within walking distance is a winner!

On a different note, Ellie is super obedient, like beyond what you would expect from a dog.  However, tonight when they rode with me to pick up some CFA nuggets and some diet lemonade (oh my word, how have I not tried the diet lemonade before, its magical) she snuck up to the passenger seat from the back of the car then refused to sit in the back. 
I call that being disobedient...but I'm a bad puppy mom and let her stay there.  The teacher in me is groaning....developing bad habits : )

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

On a kind of last minute decision, Cody and I decided to head up to Longview this weekend to spend Mother's Day with our families (novel idea right...).  We were in need of a relaxing weekend, so we stayed out at the barndominium. 
On Saturday morning, I prepared a breakfast for our moms and my sis-in-law (who is mom to our precious niece and nephew).  We had granola, fruit, yogurt, baked donuts, oatmeal banana muffins and eggs baked in avocados (all recipes are the bottom).

We relaxed and visited for the rest of the morning.
The kids enjoyed riding the (alli)gator and exploring the land.

Later, Carol, mom and I headed into town to Pure Nail Bar for some wonderful pedis before doing a little shopping. 
We also go to enjoy Mexican food at Posados and Bodacious for our favorite barbecue.  Yes, we live in Houston and yes there are a million restaurants here, but I have not found a hot sauce I love as much as Posados or bbq that we enjoy as much as Bodacious.
I was able to relax this weekend (I didn't even run y'all..I just needed to get that off my chest..I was feeling a little guilt), catch up on some much needed rest and just really enjoy time with our families!

The granola is my go to recipe from this post, the rest of the recipes are listed below. Enjoy!
Egg Baked Avocados
1.Preheat oven to 450.
2. Slice in half avocados and scoop out pit.
3. Break egg into the avocado half making sure that yolk ends up in the hole left by the pit.  (More than likely a good bit of the egg white will spill over out of the avocado.  Make sure that you have the pan lined with foil for easy clean up).
4.  Place eggs into the oven just until yolk has set.
5.  Top with salt and pepper and a little mozarella to serve.

Baked Cinnamon Donuts
from RasperberiCupcakes
1 cup full cream or reduced-fat milk
15g unsalted butter, melted (approximately 1 tbs)
400g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
1/4 cup (22g) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For cinnamon doughnuts:
35g melted butter (approximately 2 1/3 tbs)
1/2 cup (44g) caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Place milk in a heatproof, microwave-safe jug. Microwave on medium-high (75%) for 30 to 40 seconds or until heated through (do not allow to boil). Stir in melted butter and set aside.

Sift flour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in yeast, sugar and cinnamon. Make a well in the centre. Add milk mixture. Mix to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic (or if you are lucky enough to have a mixer with dough hooks like me, beat using dough hooks on high for 5-7 mins).

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Using your fist, punch dough down. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth. Roll dough out until 2cm thick. Using a 6.5cm cutter, cut 12 rounds from dough. Using a 3cm cutter, cut circles from the centre of each round. Place doughnuts (and doughnut holes), 5cm apart, on prepared tray. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C (350 degrees F). Cook doughnuts for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. For cinnamon doughnuts combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Brush doughnuts with remaining butter. Dip in sugar mixture, shaking off excess.
*These were much better fresh when I made them on Thursday, but when we heated them up completely on Saturday, they regained the soft donutish texture)

Banana Oat Muffins 
from Allrecipes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas
1. Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
3. Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Weekend of Birthdays

Two of my closest friends celebrated their birthdays within the past week. 
We started Carolina's birthday celebration (Carolina de Mayo) on Thursday night with dinner at El Tiempo (woohoo for getting one like 5 minutes away).  I usually do not get fried food, but I loved my Canonnball (chicken stuffed fried avocado).
Afterwards we headed to Vino Artino to paint Dogwoods in Bloom.  We had a blast and although I'm pretty sure that my painting doesn't look too much like the original, I still like it.
BTW, I have found something else to paint with chalkboard paint (love!).  Last weekend when we were at brunch after out 10k, they had a wine bottle painted with chalkboard paint with some teeny white flowers in them, so I copied : )
Carolina de Mayo continued!  On Friday, we headed to the Boneyard with our pups to let them play and let us chat.  The pups did not get a picture, we did not get a picture of the guys, but you better believe that we got a picture.  Obviously the first picture was simply we decided to take another.

On Saturday I finished up the grad school semester with my Stats final.   After turning it in WHOOP! Cody and I headed to the outlets for a bit (amazing) before heading into town to celebrate Hannah's birthday.  Hannah is one of my sweet Baylor Zeta friends.  We both moved to Houston (sic 'em) and have been able to journey through our post grad life together.  For her bday cleebration, we had dinner at Branchwater Tavern.  I had an amazing Kobe beef burger!  Then we headed to The Fleming apt for RJ Goody's cake! Yum!
( I somehow ended up with no pictures of this night though)

We ended up having a very productive Sunday after church getting yard work done, the house cleaned and a few little projects finished.  I used a big stick to get one of the girls' toys out of a tree (weird, I know...) and then Ellie revered it as her greatest stick find ever. 
I am beyond thankful to be finished with my first school year of grad school and am so grateful for the next 3 weeks of a break before the summer sessions begin!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rawfully Organic

Rawfully Organic is a produce co-op in Houston.  We bought our first share from them this past week and the half box was a whole lot of produce.
I love the variety of produce that we got.  A lot of it I wouldn't have bought from the grocery store unless I needed it for a specific recipe.  Instead, we've had a lot of fresh fruit and some wonderful salads!

I also got a little eager at breakfast the other day and put some veggies into our eggs : )  I called it an egg mash, Cody told me there were a lot of veggies in it...
Since we did end up with a lot of lettuce, I followed my m-i-l's advice and vacuum sealed some of it

I'm looking forward to seeing what's in our next box!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

We have had stuffed peppers before but they were lacking somewhat in the flavor department.  These were wonderful!

Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
from Simply Love Food

  • Olive Oil ( I used Tahitian lime olive oil)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground turkey breast cooked
  • 1 cup chopped onions sauteed
  • 1 heaping tbsp of homemade taco seasoning (or you can use the packaged type if you like)
  • 2 cups of cooked rice (any type you like – I like brown)
  • 3-4 organic bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed
  • ½ cup of organic frozen corn
  • 1 (15 -16 ounce) jar of salsa (my favorite is mango peach)
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Toppings:
  • fresh cilantro
  • sour cream
  • sliced avocado
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish about 20-25 minutes just until cooked thru. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.
In a bowl add the taco seasoning, cooked ground turkey, chopped onions, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.
Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way thru. Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese. Place back into the oven just until the cheese has melted.
Remove from the oven and top with fresh cilantro, avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving.

We each had a pepper and a half (which I was not able to finish that even) and we had enough filling left over to make lots of tacos!