Friday, July 22, 2016

When Life Hands You Tomatoes....

My dad brought us an incredible amount of tomatoes. 

Let me rephrase that, my dad brought us a ton of big 'ol tomatoes. I was bound and determined to move beyond my classic B.L.T. (heard of it?) and tackle these tomatoes head on in the most delicious ways. 

Big 'Ol Maters
Our tomato journey started on Sunday evening and as of Friday morning, we only have two tomatoes remaining. I call that a success! 

For most of the recipes, I snagged them from my fav-o-rite website, Skinnytaste. Gina (we are definitely on a first name basis at this point) always has the tastiest recipes. 

Here's what we've been eating all week!

On Sunday, we had Pesto-Parmesan Tomatoes to compliment our grilled steak. 


Over the weekend, my sister-in-law made a delicious batch of Pico de Gallo and I was hooked. One of our tomatoes this week was donated to the Pico de-cause and we have been snacking on Pico all week!

Pico de Gallo via Food Network, The Pioneer Woman

This dish was quite possibly my favorite! We have started incorporating more fish into our meal routine (BREAKING NEWS: I'm a salmon fan now!). On Monday, we had tilapia with a tomato and caper sauce. 


 We don't always have soup in the summer but when we do.... it's full of tomatoes! ;) On Tuesday, we had Tomato Bisque. My husband added some red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning to give it a little more zing! 
Tomato Bisque via Skinnytaste

It's summer time, so lunch looks a little different for me these days. Yesterday, I enjoyed a lump crab salad and avocado. 

It's truly been a delicious week. (There was one recipe that was a big 'ol flop, but I'll save that for another day!)
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Just when I thought I had run out of ideas for my tomato stash, a friend sent me this link from The Gracious Wife with 88 recipes for fresh tomatoes. Now... I need a few more tomatoes!
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What are your favorite tomato-based recipes? Share with me! 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Silobrating with the Best!

Like every other HGTV-loving American, I love Fixer Upper.  Truth be told, my husband and I started thinking differently about house hunting when we started watching Chip and JoJo. While we knew our skill set was a bit different than the Gaines dynamic duo... it made us approach houses differently and through a different set of lenses. Now, our house is not a "fixer-upper", however I like to think of parts of house being a blast from the past. The 90's are still alive and well in many areas of our sweet little home. 

This brings us to Waco, TX....My best friend just happens to live in Dallas, Texas. In the fall, we were planning a little visit at the end of October and it just so happened that the Silobration would be happening in Waco the same weekend we would be visiting The Lone Star State in October! 

This, my friends, was a no brainer. We packed up the car and made the trek down to Waco. We arrived incredibly early (we couldn't help ourselves), so we had a bite to eat at Twisted Root Burger Co.  We made sure to leave room for the food trucks later, of course. 


We're the four best friends anyone could ever have........ 
 We browsed the Magnolia Market with hundreds of other gawking fans and snagged a few keepsakes to take home. I couldn't leave without a t-shirt (I am my father's daughter!), candle, and one of Jimmy Don's metal signs

We listened to Johnnyswim sing, Chip and Joanna share their story (it's possible I may have cried...), and snacked on pizza from food trucks. 

It was an amazing trip and even better because it was spent with people I love the most!


Next on the list? I'm bound and determined to stay in that cute little B&B or I'll settle for Joanna flying to Missouri and being my best friend. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tying the Knot: Love is Sweet


Mike Cassimatis Photography



Mike Cassimatis Photography

At the end of our reception, guests were invited to take home a jar of honey. Now, this was not just your ordinary jar of honey. No... No... No! This was honey made in California, Missouri by my husband's parents. Let me repeat that for you: These little jars of Moniteau Honey came straight from California, Missouri and my in-laws house. 

It really doesn't get much sweeter than that. :)


Mike Cassimatis Photography
Filling these jars was a breeze thanks to my father-in-law's genius idea to use ketchup bottles filled with honey for easy filling. Plus, we had a cute flower girl/assistant helping to tighten the lids and fill boxes. :)

Behind the Scenes

Mike Cassimatis Photography

My friend Maggie  (you may remember her from this post, too!) was kind enough to make labels for the honey jars saying, Love is Sweet. Thanks For Making our Day Complete and thanking guests for being part of our special day. I called on my good friend Abby to decorate our chalkboards. Check out Abby's blog and learn how to fake calligraphy like the pro's!

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A year ago this month we became husband and wife! Read more about our favorite day in June here.




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Was it the great Sir Mix-a-Lot that once said, "I like big books and I cannot lie"? I think those are the lyrics, right?

When I walked out of school last Wednesday, I brought home a huge crate of goodies from my classroom. I had to pack an additional bag just to carry all of the books I brought home to read over the summer.  


First on the list this summer was, "Absolutely Almost" by Lisa Graff. This is an incredibly sweet story about a little boy named Albie finding his path through a very confusing school year. While reading, you'll laugh with Albie and be heartbroken as well. I found myself having similar emotions as to when I read "Wonder" for the first time. I was Team Auggie and Team Albie all the way!


I look forward to sharing this book with my students and having conversations about the way we treat others and what it really means to be, "cool".  


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

My "Why?" on Blogging

My blogging journey began while I was studying abroad. A blog was the perfect way to share my experiences in London with family members back in Missouri. Since then, my blog has experienced a bit of growth and evolved with my life as I've grown up. Believe or it not... my life has changed a bit since the summer of 2008. :)

I'm always encouraging others to blog and jump in on the blogging community because there are so many benefits to being part of this inter-web network.  In almost every conversation I have with a friend about blogging, I (almost) always get the response, "No one will want to read what I have to say!" or "I don't have anything to blog about!".  My response is..... you're looking at it all wrong! 

Simon Sinek says, "People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it." 
Perhaps my "whys" will give you the little push you need to jump on in and start a blog:

First.... I look at my blog as as a reflective journal of my teaching practices, journal of our home renovating experiences, and an opportunity to share life experiences.  Sure, it's great when people read my blog and interact with me via comments or conversation, but it's also great having an online journal that has collected many memories over several years. 

Secondly... The connections!! Through blogging, I have had the opportunity to connect with teachers around the country. Kudos to my friend Abby for making this neat graphic illustrating connections made with my blog. I've swapped many emails with teachers in Missouri and other states about teaching ideas and my life is richer because of it. 




Next... The tone, style, and flow of my blog is completely up to me. Perhaps I've written one too many college papers where I've been criticized for not writing "professionally".  (Fact! This has happened!) I like to use my blog as an opportunity to write like I speak to others. I want readers to feel like they're having a conversation with me instead of reading my term paper. 

Most importantly... My blog is an opportunity to lead by example. I choose to use my blog as a source of optimism, positivity, and a breath of fresh air. Of course my life is not always sunshine and roses... we all have our bad days. However, I choose to share what makes me happy in an effort to spread good vibes to others. The internet is filled with so much negativity, trolls, and hate... why not use my voice for a positive purpose?
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I would love to hear you WHY! Why do you choose to blog and share your journey online? 

In the meantime.... you should check out my super talented and creative friends and their blogs:

Mary @ Full and Merry 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Bringing our Writing to Life!

The end of the year in room 52 has looked different for the past five years. May rolls around and I think, "Yep! Trying something new again..." This May was no different. 

This year, my students are filled to the brim with creative juices and I wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase their creative skills to wrap up the year. As you can see from this post about science movies, we are really good at being in front of the camera. 

This year, I challenged students to write an original fictional story and then turn it into an iMovie. The catch? They wouldn't be starring in it... They were to make all props and characters using materials around the school.  I must include that my classroom has been a disaster for three weeks and I'm totally-okay-with-it-sometimes

To get our wheels  spinning, students swiped through iMovie Trailers to get an idea for the theme and mood of their story. After they decided on a tone for their story, they had to complete a graphic organizer mapping out the beginning, middle, and end. This part was vital to the project being successful. We tend to have REALLY long "middle" parts of the story and then we, "fall off a cliff" (as a good friend calls it) and don't wrap up our story.  I even encouraged them to include a theme at the end of the story. 

I've kind of been flying by the seat of pants from day one, but I think it's working out! Here's the rundown of how the project went AFTER they completed a graphic organizer:
  • Students had to write and edit an original story in their writer's notebooks with partners. 
  • Students had to create all props. Students had to make (no more) than two backdrops and characters on popsicle sticks. This is where the project took a mind of its own... We have horses, Lego characters, Pizza Steve, and balloon men floating around the room!
  • Partners worked to create an iMovie trailer to show on YouTube to get the public ready for their movie!
  • The final piece... create an iMovie sharing your original story. 
Behind the Scenes  -- Creating Props

Behind the Scenes  -- Filming 

Right now, students are tying up lose ends and getting ready to submit movies tomorrow. In the mean time, you can check out our trailers on YouTube! 

Reflecting back on the last few weeks.... I have to admit, I've been on a bit of a roller coaster of decision making. At times, I've panicked and thought, "HOLY COW! We won't ever finish!" Then I'm flying high and thinking, "These kids are amazing."  I realized it was important to set daily goals with my students so they had a focus for each class period. It was also important, for me, to give up a bit of control and let the kids be creative! It was loud, noisy, messy, and kids were all over the place.... but they were creating incredible products! 

You can check out all of the trailers for the movies (coming to a theater NEAR YOU!) right here.




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Curb Appeal

When we bought our house last March, we inherited a pretty ridiculous jungle of overgrown plants lava rocks, and weeds. We gave ourselves the summer to you know... get married... and then we started on the front yard in the fall. 

Up until this point, I had never paid any attention to landscaping. I knew the basics...
"Oh, those are pretty flowers!"
and
"Wow, they should cut their grass."

Those two statements could sum up my knowledge on the subject matter of landscaping. 

The first order of business was to rip out the existing plants. Once spring rolled around, we started to research more about plants and landscaping. Boy, oh boy. My head kind of exploded. My Pinterest board is a great example of how my brain was bouncing around in the subject of gardening. 


We decided to plant a row of Hostas along the house and use Boxwoods under our front windows. I must point out... This decision came after many conversations with other people. 

When we had the old plants ripped out, we were fortunate to find lava rocks hiding beneath (sigh).  In addition to the lava rocks, Mother Nature and Planet Earth left many rocks for us to find as well. However, we made lemonade out of lemons and used the rocks to help us line a path to our backyard. 
We also felt pretty tough after all that diggin'. 


Our trusty 'ol Menards bucket made several trips to the woods with rocks filled to the brim.  (P.S. I did not carry the rocks, my strong husband took care of the part for me!)



The final piece to our landscaping masterpiece (I can call it that, right?) was mulch.  My husband and I were definitely not agreeing on the right number of bags of mulch. This was our conversation:

"I want to buy ten bags of mulch." - Scott
"WHAT! No way." - Me
"Okay... six." -Scott
"Five." - Me
...... Later at the store, I got distracted looking at plants and we rolled out of Home Depot with eight bags. Very sneaky, Scott. Very sneaky.

However, I should have listened because we need more mulch. :)

Moral of the story
: Buy all the mulch. You'll need a ton. Also, admit to your husband when you're very wrong on calculating the amount of mulch needed. 



Before... During... After

Viola! What should I plant next....

Read more about our house projects here

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