Most teachers I’ve met are born planners and organizers. That is exactly how I would describe myself as well. This past summer, I dove head first into the world of Whole30 (an anti-inflammatory way of eating that centers on healthy, lean meats, vegetables, fruit, and some nuts and healthy fats – basically, no dairy or grain). I LOVED how it made me feel: strong and healthy. More than that, I loved how I DIDN’T feel anymore – no more bloating, GI discomfort, headaches, feeling sluggish. Even mosquito bites didn’t bother me as much any more, as if to say my body was healing and better able to fight.
I wanted to be able to continue eating Whole30 (W30) throughout the school year. However, as you know, time is a precious commodity, and W30 does require a lot of cooking. Armed with my favorite kitchen appliance – my Instant Pot – I spent a good amount of time this summer batch cooking and freezing for the fall. When I made dinner for the family, I’d double it and freeze half. By the end of the summer, you can see below what I amassed. These recipes include W30 as well as paleo items, as I am now in W30 maintenance and slowly adding in items that are permitted in paleo (i.e. honey) but not in W30.
In this picture you see:
4 sweet potatoes slightly cooked, peeled, and diced to be added to hash – W30
My first stop to prepare for this endeavor was Costco. There I was able to purchase bulk meat at a discount. Next, I treated myself to a jar of minced garlic to save me a step. I purchased a giant bag of almond meal from Amazon for the paleo recipes.
Not pictured here are the things I will make weekly, including:
Keto overnight oats
W30 Egg breakfast
A dozen hard boiled eggs
In addition, I have purchased a lot of snacks to keep in my desk, listed below:
Dried apple rings
Roasted Plantain chips
Rx Bars (Chocolate Sea Salt and Blueberry are my faves!)
Fruit and veggie pouches
Unsalted Mixed Nuts
In the fall, I plan to warm up these items fairly quickly either by thawing them in the fridge the night before, or throwing them directly in the Instant Pot to sauté and warm up.
If you enjoy following my food journey, you can find me on Instagram! I am MightyKeka
Did you do any food prep this summer? I’d love any tips or tricks you can share!
::spooky voice:: OOoOOoOoooH, Friday the 13th! ::knockonwood:: nothing goes wrong today! I don’t really believe in superstitions, though. I hope the students are well-behaved today! Here are 5 highlights from this week:
1. Author Visit – First, my best news – we are honored to have a visit from Trudy Krisher! She will be visiting our school in just 10 days. We are so excited! I can’t believe how lucky we are! More to come on that later!
2. Would you? Our students are doing their own self-designed Science Experiments, which is a fantastic, student-centered, inquiry-based lesson. So a student came up to me and handed me 2 cups of water, asking, “Would you please take a sip from both of these and tell me which one is tap water and which one is bottled water?” I can’t believe it, but I did it. I had so many questions (Are these new cups? How did you get the tap water? Did you DO anything to this water?!?), but I took a leap of faith and gave it a shot. Turns out, I was wrong! I thought the more metallic tasting water would have been tap water, but it was actually the bottled water. Hmm!
3. Coloring Book – I’m working on my next coloring book on – you guessed it – dinosaurs! It will be a gift for all of my little nieces and nephews as well as a new product up on TpT. If you are interested in any of my other coloring books, they are Zoo Animals, Rainforest Animals, and My Animal Coloring Book.
4. Cooking – I got back into cooking this weekend. I had really fallen off the wagon this winter, eating lots of soups, fried eggs, and pasta, because I had been hit with one virus after another and I went for the easy/quick fix foods. Well I had forgotten how meditative, relaxing, and fulfilling it is to make your own foods from scratch. This weekend I made Bacon-Topped Spinach Meatloaf and Broccoli Egg Bake, two of my favorites. Lots of protein and vegetables for the win!
5. Stir Crazy – Okay, we are all going a little nuts around here. Me, my students, even my dogs. Winters are HARD! I feel so bad for this toy monkey, but then I realize he is pretty much a metaphor for my life. We are in the heart of winter and in for at least another 2 and a half weeks of freezing temperatures. I miss sun! At least I have little dogs who can get a lot of exercise just playing inside. For my students, on the other hand, indoor recess isn’t cutting it. We need an outlet for all our energy! Maybe a roller skating field trip?
I’m so embarrassed that it has taken me so long to put up this post! I have been very excited to share with you all of this year’s homemade Christmas presents. I start working on them right away in January/February because it means so much to me to be able to give from the heart. It’s a trait I’m sure I inherited from my grandmother, who loved to make things to give to others. As each of her 5 children went off to college, she knitted us a special afghan that I treasure (and can’t even bring myself to take out of the drawer!).
This past year, I began working on my sister’s Christmas present just a few days after last year’s Christmas. It took a looooong time, but it is totally worth it to have a family treasure that can be passed down and enjoyed for many years. I made this advent calendar by combining ideas from several different blogs (like here and here) as well as etsy (like this). Jenn just LOVED it! I made one for myself at the same time 🙂
Another project I finished over the summer was a book of my grandmother’s recipes. When she passed away, I asked for her recipe box and books. I spent countless hours pouring over the recipes, cherry-picking her favorites, separating them into categories, and typing them up. I spent the rest of the summer cooking many of the favorites to have pictures to include in the book. I also wrote a forward that attempts to capture what made her, and her cooking, so special. The final product was printed for brothers and sisters, each of her children, and grandchildren. I wrapped each book with love and hand delivered them on Christmas, and there were many, many tears.
It wouldn’t be Christmas if it weren’t for our lovingly handmade treats, as well. My mother, sister, and I spent an afternoon making Krumkake. The plate of cookies below were made by yours truly, including chocolate-dipped shortbread, chocolate cakeballs, and peanut-butter cup cookies (are you sensing that I LOVE chocolate?). The final result is the gorgeous display of our family’s cookie haul. YUM!
Last, but not least, I got a wonderful handmade surprise from my aunt on Christmas. She had found the pattern for my grandmother’s famous House Slippers. When you visited Grandma’s house, she always wanted to make sure you were warm enough. She insisted that you put on a pair of hand-knitted house slippers. I used to fight her on this and think they were big, clunky, and hideous. Then, over time, I grew to love them. I’d remind her if she forgot to have me put them on. When she passed away and we cleaned out her home, we all imagined we’d find a pair hidden in every nook and cranny of the house. Unfortunately, for unexplained reasons, we couldn’t find a single pair in the house. Had they walked off on their own? Well my aunt surprised us (all grand- and great-grand children) all by knitting us a personalized pair for Christmas – over 9 pair in total. More tears, for certain.
I’m already hard at work on Christmas presents for next year. No, I will not give away my secrets and tell you what I’m up to! I guess you’ll just have to wait….
I know, I know – It’s supposed to be “High Five for Friday,” but our last day of 2014 this year is on a Tuesday! We go right up to the 23rd. Hey, some people complain, but I like it for several reasons. It gets us out earlier in the summer, it keeps us busy, it forces me to be more prepared and organized for the holidays, and I know some kiddos are getting the warmth and food they need as close to the holidays as possible. So I don’t mind a bit!
Here are some highlights from our last week(s) of school:
1. Reading Turning Into Fun!– One of my 8 intervention students decided to make this game – ALL BY HERSELF! She asked if we could play it during our intervention class. I got everyone a game piece and one die for the group. Then, we read a Newsela article. After we finished each section, I asked the students a reading comprehension question (ranging from simple recall to inference and analysis). They enjoyed this, and I will definitely bring it out again.
2. Grammar Posters – I just made up a few random sentences and hung them on my bulletin board. We’ll see if they help!
3. Paper Wig Fashion Show – In art class, my students made a series of paper wigs. They look phenomenal, in my opinion! They asked the teachers to each model a wig and do a ‘runway fashion show’ for the school. I had such a blast! I really wish I could keep the wig, too – it’s really neat!
4. Krumkake – My mother, sister, and I got together for an afternoon to make Norwegian Krumkake. They are made on a hot press and then rolled onto a wooden dowel until they cool into this conical shape. You can eat them as is, or fill them with whipped cream. YUM.
5. Ready for Christmas! Here is Ruffy (one of my two dogs) in his Christmas best! Such a sweetie. We have all our gifts purchased, wrapped, packed, and ready to go! I just love Christmas 🙂
How were your last few days of school before Winter Break? I hope they were filled with good memories to last you until the New Year!
Happy Week 7 and High Five For Friday! I had a great week, and I hope you did, too!
1. Sonday – I spent 2 days this week being trained in the Sonday System. I am so glad that we have decided to adopt this system at our school. We currently run two interventions for reading skills and strategies – Leveled Literacy Instruction and Read180 – but we needed a program that would address gaps in foundational reading skills like decoding and fluency. You wouldn’t expect to have students at the middle school level who don’t know all of the sight words or who are unable to decode words, but our need for this program has been growing over the years. I love the touch-spell approach, and I knew I was hooked when the instructor showed us the ‘b’ and ‘d’ cards. In the Sonday system, students are taught for the letter ‘b’ that “the bat comes before the ball.” Notice the number one starts at the top, making a bat (stick), and then a ball (circle)? Now compare this to the ‘d.’ Students are taught “c comes before d,” just as the letters appear in the alphabet. See how the ‘d’ starts by making a ‘c’ first, then the stick? This is brilliant! For our students who confuse these letters, such as students with dyslexia, this is a perfect way to differentiate between the sounds and to cement them into muscle memory. As with all elements of the Sonday system, everything has a visual component (look at the letter), kinesthetic component (trace the bumpy letter with two fingers), and an auditory component (“bat before ball” or “c before d”) to encourage multi-sensory learning. I am very excited that we have adopted this system and I just know it is going to be a major game-changer for so many students!
2. The Shot Heard ‘Round the World – In Social Studies, we are wrapping up our unit on Colonial America in preparation for learning about the American Revolution. We rounded out the chapter by studying the Battles of Lexington & Concord, then watching the famous Schoolhouse Rock video to review for the exam tomorrow. Doesn’t it just blow your mind that students are still watching, enjoying, and learning from these videos after so many decades? I just love Schoolhouse Rock!
3. Tachistoscope – Do you use highlighting strips in your classroom? I have a handful of middle schoolers who really benefit from using these. They use them as bookmarks, then turn them on their side to help them stay on track when reading their book. This helps with focus and eye-tracking. I learned this week that the technical name for these highlight strips is ‘tachistoscope.’ So there – enjoy that million-dollar word! I purchased these on Amazon, link here.
4. Pumpkin Farm – I took my niece and nephew to the pumpkin farm last weekend. Such fun! My ambitious nephew first picked out a pumpkin that weighed about 30-40 pounds. It was huge and lovely, and he wanted it so bad! I told him he could have it if he could carry it to the car. He opted for the one in his lap instead 🙂 And my little niece, how sweet is she? I absolutely adore these children.
5.Food! – I tried to keep things simple this week. I made some zoodles with my spiralizer, which I topped with tomato sauce (sugar and additive free) and shrimp for lunches. For breakfast, we had Egg Muffins, and for dessert, I slightly modified the Chocolate Hazelnut Energy Bars from foodie teen (I eliminated the maple syrup and chocolate, and I reduced the amount of coconut oil to 1/4 cup. Then I rolled the mixture into balls instead of bars for quick/easy snacking). I also got a great idea from a friend to put quick oatmeal, a pinch of salt, and freeze-dried fruits in a mason jar. All I have to do is add a cup of hot water and let it sit for a few minutes and voila – oatmeal to go! I know oatmeal is not strict paleo, but I have no problems with it and have chosen to incorporate it back into my diet now after a year off of it.
I hope you have had a wonderful week and that you are getting ready for a fun and spooooky Halloween soon! I’ll be making costumes this week and next to get ready. I’d love to hear about your week in the comments below!
Happy Week 2! These first few weeks back to school are always the longest and most challenging, and I feel completely wiped out this week. We had open house on Wednesday, and I met a lot of wonderful parents. I can’t wait until tomorrow morning so I can sleep in and finally catch up on my overflowing inbox! Here are the highlights from week 2:
1. Guess the Reader– I’m working on a fun new bulletin board! Check back next week to see the final product.
2. Identity Pie Graph Activity – As an opening activity for our unit on Identity, my students created pie graphs to represent the various elements that impact their own identities. This is a great activity to learn more about your students and to get them talking!
3. Sea World Controversy / Practicing Argumentation – In Social Studies this week, we read various articles and watched youtube videos both in support of Sea World as well as condemning. We practiced writing claims and finding supporting evidence as well as working in groups and initiating collaborative discussions. In my opinion, this is a perfect controversial issue to use in your classroom because there are strong points on both sides of the argument. Sea World does a lot of critically important work in protection, education, and preservation. We watched the trailer to Blackfish as part of our investigation, and I have to tell you – the room was completely silent. After the clip ended, there was an audible “gasp” in the room, and I know my students were emotionally impacted. I watch it and feel like I got punched in the gut. The next day, several students told me they went straight home and watched the entire movie. This topic clearly got their attention.
4. Dissertation Bound – I completed my doctorate in June, but it takes several months to get your dissertation professionally bound. I got the call and went to pick it up from my university library. It is HUGE! Glad I brought my husband along to help me carry it!
5. Paleo Foods this Week – I received my copy of Meals Made Simple in the mail, and I’m in LOVE! I’ve been cooking exclusively from this cookbook this week, and I’m absolutely loving everything. Here we have Mexican Chicken Soup, Cumin-Garlic Summer Squash, Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.0, Pumpkin Bread, Chicken and Rice Casserole and – my own recipe – frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bites (a great summer treat).
During the school year, these egg muffins are my staple go-to breakfast. I make a couple dozen on the weekend so they are ready to grab-and-go each morning. I’ve been asked to share the recipe more times than I can count, so I figured it was time for a blog post (with pictures!!!).
The muffins are Paleo, which means dairy-free and grain-free. If you’re not into the Paleo scene, you can modify the recipe as you see fit (i.e. replace coconut milk with cow’s milk, or coconut flour with traditional flour). The beauty of this recipe is that it is very flexible, and I change it up regularly for variety.
Ingredients (makes 12):
* 8 eggs
* 2 Tbsp coconut flour
* 1/3 cup coconut or unsweetened almond milk
* juice of half a lemon + zest
* pepper to taste
* 2 large slices of ham or turkey, or 3 slices of cooked bacon
* 2 cups of sautéed vegetables (I love spinach, mushrooms, shoe string carrots, peppers, kale, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, anything really!)
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2: Dice and sauté your vegetables. I sometimes add the meat in this step as well (or save the meat for a topping)
Step 3: Beat together the eggs, milk, lemon juice and zest, pepper, and flour. Then add in the sauteed vegetables.
Step 4: Pour 1/4 cup of the mixture into greased muffin tins. Pictured below are silicone muffin cups (non-stick).
Step 5: (Optional) Sprinkle with diced pieces of bacon
Step 6: Bake for 22 – 25 minutes
My husband enjoys adding hot sauce or tabasco, which is a fun flavor kick in the morning. If you are not strict Paleo, I imagine cheese would be another delicious topping. I grab 2 every morning, microwave at work, and enjoy for a very filling and tasty breakfast that lasts much longer than a bowl of cereal. I hope you enjoy this Team Dembro favorite recipe!
We’ve made it through Week 34! (Only 5 to go!). Time for highlights!
1. Testing – My poor students endured 2 rounds of testing this week. To help give them an extra boost, I brought in donuts. I blinked, and the box was empty. Teenagers are huuuuuungry!
2. School Flower Garden – This week our school’s art teacher organized an after school event for tending to our school flower garden. I think the tulips are just such a cheerful greeting at the front of our school. I’ve enjoyed watching them grow every day.
3. Cameras – As part of our Spite Fences unit, I got to teach my students about cameras and how they function. The thing is, they THINK they know everything about cameras. But each year, I am astounded at how silent the class grows when I start taking the camera apart and explaining how the film, shutter, aperture, advance film, and other features actually work. They have no clue. You can almost see the gears in their heads turning as they are soaking up the new knowledge. I look forward to that day every year! What’s neat is that my husband and I have a pretty extensive collection of antique cameras, so I can bring in our old cameras from home like the HOLGA above.
4. Classroom Countdown – Only 23 days left! EEeeekkkK!
Week 33 is O-V-E-R! I lived to tell the tale and share some highlights:
1. Spite Fences – Just before Spring Break, we began reading Spite Fences, our final unit and novel of the year (Here is a link to our novel study unit). It is about a 14-year-old girl named Maggie living in Georgia during the Civil Rights movement. She is given a camera as a gift, and she begins to see the world around her with new eyes. I love teaching this unit every year, and I know my students learn a lot and enjoy reading it. We’re up to Chapter 7 as of today.
2. Audio books – I am so thankful for our iPads every single day. We are such a lucky district! The iPads have allowed us to share the audiobook version of Spite Fences with some students who really benefit from this extra level of support. I’m seeing so much more engagement and higher levels of comprehension this year with that modification in place. (Note: Only 8 of my 90 students receive this modification)
3. Countdown – With Spring Break behind us, it’s officially time to start the end-of-the-year countdown (29 days left, but who’s counting?!) Some teachers would caution against this. They would say that it encourages students to start slacking too soon as they dream about summer. On the contrary, I use it as a motivational tool. I have already planned all of our lessons through the end of the year, and I’ve shared every single assignment with my students via email already. They know exactly what they have to do before June 12th – and it’s a lot. Each day as we remove a ring, I remind them that we have X days left to finish our work, to cultivate good habits, and to end the year on a high note. We have grit, we have stamina, and we work right up until the bitter end. We don’t coast to the finish line!
4. Doggy Bath– Would you please look at these pathetic dogs. Just look! Don’t feel sorry for them. Their lives are filled with walks and belly rubs and treats and snuggles. Such ninnies.
It’s been 2 months, and that’s a great time to check in on the ole’ New Years Resolutions. How are yours going? By March, many people I talk to can’t even remember the resolutions they made. That is why I am so glad I wrote mine down! Either this will help me to stay accountable and on track, or make for certain embarrassment when there is tangible proof that I failed!
This weekend, I was able to check 2 things off my list (You can view my full list here):
11. Use our wedding china
14. Cook an entire dinner for my family
These were important goals for me because a) We’ve had our wedding china for 4.5 years and they still have stickers on them! b) I have never cooked a complete meal from start to finish. Might as well practice on my family, right? And since I’ve been doing so much cooking lately to educate myself, I figured this would be a true test of my skills.
Well I am happy to report that it went perfectly. It was a LOT of planning and preparing ahead of time, but I learned a lot, too. For starters, I washed all of the china, crystal, silver, (and yep, removed the stickers!) and practiced setting the table:
Doesn’t my house look like Downton Abbey? It made me happy 🙂
Then I had to clean my entire house from top to bottom. And I mean I cleaned thoroughly – up to Mom’s standards!
I remember at one point, my husband says, “This is so much work to entertain people! Next time, let’s just go to their house” Haha!
I also did all of the grocery shopping and food prep. The meal I planned to make couldn’t be cooked ahead of time, but I did wash, cut, measure, and set out all of the ingredients.
* Cheese plate – bacon cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese with crackers
* Fruit plate – strawberries and blackberries
* Veggies – green peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots
* Stuffed mushrooms – recipe here, but I substituted sausage in for crab
* Baked Sweet Potato Chips – sliced with a mandolin, then shake in a bag with olive oil and sea salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then leave them in the oven while it cools so they crisp up.
* Dipping sauces – chipotle dip, balsamic ketchup, and spinach dip
* Mixed nuts
* Veggie Salad – spinach, avocado, red onion, tomato
* Thai Pad See Ew – chicken, broccoli, carrot, egg, and coconut aminos
* Rice & Bread to pass
* 2-layer Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream frosting
* Ice cream
March is definitely a big birthday month in our family, so we celebrated my brother’s 24th birthday, my birthday, and my late grandmother’s birthday. It is also birthday month for my brother-in-law and mother-in-law!
We had a very good time, and I would be happy to do it again. I love my family, and I’ll make any excuse to hang out with them!