Sunday, September 29, 2013

Liane's Famous Beef Stroganoff

My mother-in-law, the Barefoot Contessa, has been visiting us for the past week or so, and we've been enjoying some of her cooking. It's been really nice because this is our busiest time of the year, with the beginning of school and both girls in soccer, etc. Let's just say that I'm getting really tired of fast food.

Last week the Contessa made her famous Beef Stroganoff for us, and Zoe Bug especially was in Heaven. I'm glad I have at least one kid who likes mushrooms because not even Peanut Head will touch them.

This recipe is one that the family has been begging the Contessa to write down for ages. You know how some people are about their recipes. "Oh you know, a little of this, a little of that. I don't really know what all the measurements are. I just throw it all together. Anyone can do it. It's nothing really."

And then, Heaven forbid they take the recipe with them to the grave. It's a crime.

My great grandmother, Nano, made this unbelievable coffee cake when I was growing up, and when she died there was no recipe. It makes me sad to think about it. I remember Nano wearing her faded apron, dusted with flour, carefully forming the dough into a round loaf. I even remember the way the dough tasted when I snuck little pinches of dough off it, before it went into the oven, and I can still smell it. When the coffee cake came out of the oven, Nano would let the kids have a cup of coffee to dip it in. It was awesome.

Hey, it was the 70s. People didn't wear seat belts. Kids smoked candy cigarettes. We drank lots of Kool-Aid. We lived dangerously.

Well, we're not going to let the Contessa take this recipe to the other side with her, hopefully sometime in the very distant future. When the Contessa caved to our demands to make her Stroganoff this week, I insisted that she let Zoe Bug write down all the steps and ingredients so we could finally get it down on a recipe card.

And now here I am, spreading it all over the internet for her. You're welcome, Contessa.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Classroom Tour 2013

I'm just warning you right now that there are a LOT of pictures in this post. Glitter Man took pictures for me and he was very thorough.

First up is my teacher desk area. I moved my desk from the front of the room to the back of the room because it was taking up valuable space in front of the projector, where I need my students to focus their attention. Now I have student desks up in the area where my desk used to be.

This table is off to the side of my desk and it's been nice to have an extra surface to put my piles on. I try to tidy everything up at the end of the day before I go home, but some days it's a challenge.

Here's a pulled back view. I've since taken the outdated recycling sign off my purple trash can. It has my old room number on it from the year before last. Sometimes it takes me awhile to right things.

Peanut Head gave me that sign on my filing cabinet. It says "Sweat dries. Blood clots. Bones heal. SUCK IT UP PRINCESS. He's such a Jar Head.

I like it though, and it reminds me not to whine too much. And if my students read it and the shoe fits . . .

I'm still loving my contact papered filing cabinet, although every time I look at it is a reminder of the fact that perhaps I'm not as sane as I'd like to think I am.

Right behind my desk I have my Target cubbies and that's where I keep all my curriculum binders. I'm a big binder girl.

I'm enjoying having the use of this magnet board, although I haven't found a use for the chalkboard part of it yet. I could tidy it up a bit, but I won't have time until our first teacher work day in November.

I have a student note on the board that makes me laugh. One of my students wrote it to me at the end of last year, telling me how awesome I was, and then she ended it with "I think you're beautiful even though people have said you're not."

I know it sounds bad, but really I'm not offended by it because I don't think she meant it to be an insult couched in a compliment. She really thought she was giving me a compliment and so that makes it funny to me.

Besides, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right?

I super big, pink puffy heart love my fridge. My classroom is a mile away from the faculty lounge and the bathroom, and I need my ice.

Plus I think it's cute.

I bought this teeny tiny little computer desk at IKEA because I wanted to get my computer off my desk.  I think I've decided that I liked my computer on my desk. Oh well, there's no time to move furniture during the school year. Maybe next year.

Just another angle of my desk area, looking toward the front of the room where my desk used to be.

I totally stole this idea off Pinterest. It really does work, although the erasers can get jammed easily. Plus, if a student really wants an eraser, they just have to pull that top piece off. I don't really care though, because erasers are cheap. As long as they aren't destroying them and throwing them at each other.

I found my gumball machine at Toys R Us.

This is the view from my desk.

My agenda white board is in the back of the room and right next to my desk. I love having four big whiteboards because I use a lot of space when I write. It probably seems weird to have the agenda in the back of the room, but my projector is an interactive projector and it takes up most of one of my front of the room white boards.

By the end of the day my white boards are looking pretty messy. Thankfully my gallon of Expo Cleaner is still holding up well.

I am liking the grid set-up agenda, but I've found that I don't have to fill the whole week out in advance, but as I go instead. That takes a little of the pressure off of me to do it all Monday morning. Plus, plans change.

Dirty little secret time. I'm totally ratting myself out here because my school secretary might see this and waggle her finger at me, but I lifted those two-student desks under the cover of night.

Someone set them in the hallway with a Post-It note that said "Send to Storage."

I'm storage.

I promise if someone needs them back, I'll come clean, but I hope it doesn't come to that because I heart them.

I am fortunate enough to have two student aids this semester, and I've been keeping them hopping at this hexagon table group.

I super big, pink puffy heart love my student aids.

But not in a creepy way.

This is the view looking out into the room from this corner.

I'm not even going to say anything about my bulletin boards because I'm still mad at them for popping my staples.

 I may never recover.

The crates sitting on the counter are my mailboxes for students. When I have graded papers to be returned, my aids file them into the mailboxes. There is one for each class, and instead of having my students' names on the hanging files, I have their number. I number my students in each class from 1 to 30, and this way I don't have to relabel everything each year.

It works well.

The only walls that got painted lime green are right here, this little section by the door. I think if it were more than that, it might have been too shocking. Like I would know, right?

The red dot on the door is a dry erase circle, and when students leave the room for any reason they have to write their name and the time they left. That way I always know who is out of the room. In case of emergency or whatever.

This is just a pull-back view to the door.

And this is from the door, looking in.

This is just inside the door. This is the only picture where you can sort of see my Christopher Robin quote. I had a little problem after I painted my room because it wasn't the right blue and looked weird against my newly painted walls. In an effort to make it pop a little, I created a fake bulletin board backdrop with some butcher paper and bulletin board borders.

It still wasn't enough, so I topped that off by hot glueing some fluffy pink fringe around the edges of the canvas. I love the fringe.

This is a view of my Bright Links Projector which makes my white board an interactive white board. I love it too.

Heading over to my favorite, colorful part of the room.

These pictures were taken before school started, but they are full of composition books now and being used. So far they are working out well, and students don't waste a lot of time hunting for their notebooks. This was a big splurge for me, and one I'm not regretting.

I'm also liking that I put all my supplies in the front of the room so they are easily accessible and not forgotten.

This is the last picture. Are you on Sensory Overload yet?

Another thing that I'm happy I did was to line my cheapo Walmart shelves with contact paper. They look so much better now.

I'm sorry that this post is late, but I hope it was worth the wait. A big thank you goes out to Glitter Man for taking the pictures. They wouldn't have looked half as good if I had done them.

Have a great week!

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's Going to be a Good Year

FREE printable signs can be found here

I can feel it. This year started out like no other. It was my first first day in which I experienced zero intestinal distress due to nerves. I know, TMI, but for reals, this is the life of a teacher.

I think it's because I have my third first year under my belt. I know that sounds bizarre, but for teachers, whenever you change subjects or grades, or even curriculum and textbooks, it's like being a first year teacher all over again. It's exhausting, overwhelming, stressful, and ugly-cry filled territory. Last year was my first year teaching seventh and eighth grade, and just math, with textbooks I'd never used before, so I had a lot of new going on.

I started this year with the knowledge that I survived one year already so I got this. There's still lots of room for improvement, but I have a base to build on now, so it's just going to keep getting better.

Enough about me. Isn't my little (gigantic) Zoe Bug sweet? This is her first year in middle school and I have her with me, under my nose, where I am sure to deepen the scar tissue of her youth.

And my little Stinky Dink is in fifth grade now, at the elementary school without her big sister to look up to, and she has a new independence. I shudder to think of the trouble she might be causing without her sister to tattle on her. Perhaps it's best that I don't know.

I did something out of the ordinary this year, and I took the girls school clothes shopping before school started. I know, doesn't everyone do that? Well, as a parent I sometimes suck, so it was kind of a big deal for me.

Anyway, it was the coolest thing how we shopped for clothes this year. I had $40 in Kohl's cash to spend, so that's where we went. We walked in and we each got a little cart. I sent the girls off with instructions to 1) stay together, 2) find and try on pants, long sleeved shirts, and only one short sleeved shirt for the 96 degree first day of school, and 3) come find me when they were ready to pass inspection.

While they were busy, I was busy shopping by myself, unhindered by children farting around in clothing racks and forcing me to use my angry eyebrows and Secret Mommy Triceps Pinch. It was awesome. Everyone was happy.

Once they had filled their carts with options that worked for them, we all traipsed back to the dressing room so that they could try everything on again and get my approval/disapproval. For the most part, they did great. I said no to a few things and traded some things out for different sizes, and in the end we all left the store pretty happy campers.

And we earned $80 more in Kohl's cash. It's a vicious cycle.

I'm dying here, I can't stop laughing. Stinkerbell's fall soccer team has the prettiest pink uniforms. I'm in love with them. Stinkerbell dry heaves every time she has to put it on. I gush over her and snap pictures, telling her how pretty she looks in pink. She glares at me as if she is willing my head to explode, thereby making her uniform a more palatable color.

Is it wrong that this makes me smile?

And aren't these the coolest pencils on the planet?

I mean in a really creepy sort of way. I had them engraved for my classroom loaner pencils, in hopes that students wouldn't walk out of the room with them, not wanting to be caught dead with one. It would be like Social Death.

I have to say, having used them for two weeks now, they're pretty effective. If a student tells me that they haven't a pencil to use, I squeal excitedly "Would you like to use one of my Justin Bie-e-e-e-ber pencils?!!!!"

I don't know why they aren't as excited about them as I am. What happened to Bieber Fever, man?

So, here's the deal. I promised you a classroom tour in pictures, and I do have that for you, but I don't want to kill you with picture overload so I'm going to put that one up on Sunday. Watch for it if you're interested. See you then!