Welcome to the end of week 26! This week’s highlights include: School Spirit Homeroom Teams, DVD Project, Foreign Language Week, Weekend Cooking Marathon, and Fat Tuesday!
1. Homeroom Teams – The 7th grade Homerooms at our school have decided to create teams and mascots. Each Homeroom has decorated their door as well as created locker ‘swag’ for students to proudly display their Homeroom loyalty. It is so colorful and cheerful and it just makes me smile when I walk past a 7th grade door. So much school spirit and fun!
2. DVD Project – We are wrapping up our work on the DVD Project. I have to say, they are looking pretty great, and I am very proud of my students for taking risks and trying new concepts. Regarding the DVDs on display above – the left side are student projects, and the right side are professional DVDs. Sometimes, I honestly can’t tell the difference. We were comparing the two sets and looking for common features such as large, bolded titles, textured backgrounds, and color schemes. They have definitely learned a lot! I love that graphic design fits so well into Language Arts as we discuss multimedia and making meaning with visuals. Turns out my BA in Art History wasn’t a total waste, after all!
3. Foreign Language Week – Did you know it is National Foreign Language Week? Our French and Spanish teachers have been doing an absolutely amazing job celebrating language this week at our school. They have had their students decorate their lockers with flags and fun facts. Each morning, a new student comes on the loud speaker and reads the announcements in either French of Spanish. In the picture above, I am wearing this year’s student-designed Foreign Language Week T-shirt. Yeah, a student drew that!
4. Weekend Cooking Marathon – I had another successful weekend of cooking. I do all of my cooking for the week on Saturdays and Sundays, which includes making breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for me and my husband. It saves us a lot of time and money. The menu this week includes: 1) Chocolate cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting (a practice cake for an upcoming birthday party) 2) Char Siu Spare Ribs 3) Barbecue and Sweet Potato Chips 4)Tortilla Chicken Soup 5) Blueberry Waffles and Egg Muffins. All of the items above are Paleo (grain and dairy free) except for the cake.
5. Fat Tuesday – After living in Milwaukee for the past 7 years, I can’t believe I finally got a taste of Paczki. It was so delicious and rich (and soooo not part of my Paleo plan!) that I only had a few bites and shared the rest. A sweet coworker got up extra early to stand in line and bring them in to work to share. What a neat treat!
I hope you had a wonderful week! Remember that this Sunday is Daylight Savings Time, and Spring begins on March 20, only 2 weeks away! Enjoy the lengthening daylight!
Did you eat a Paczki? Have you even heard of Paczki? I got to enjoy one this morning from the one and only National Bakery in Milwaukee. I mean, people line up early and wait outside in the cold for a loooong time to get their hands on these! Just read this and you’ll see what I mean.
According to the National Bakery, they sell about 36,000 Paczki on Fat Tuesday.
“People may not agree on how to pronounce them, but all are gathering to gobble up PACZKI on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Emigrates of Poland pronounce them “Pooch-key” or “Punch-key” or even “Poonch-key”, all are correct.
These Polish pastries were served up annually on the day before Lent, a period of abstinence observed by some Christians. Originally, PACZKI were made to use up the lard and eggs which were prohibited during lent. Now, they’re more of a last-minute indulgence of sweets before lent begins. Whatever your past, all enjoy the tasty treat of PACZKI, which means “little package” in Polish.
The new world version, like the old, is a rich dough deep fried, just like a donut. National Bakery offers a rich regular dough and an extra rich butter dough. The Paczki are filled with raspberry, or the traditional prune. Raisin Paczki have the raisins mixed into the dough. Toppings include a smooth sugar glaze, granulated sugar, or icing. It’s 100% quality or it’s not PACZKI!
PACZKI on PACZKI DAY are becoming what chocolate is to St. Valentine’s Day and what pumpkin pie is to Thanksgiving, as many people share them with friends, families, and co-workers. In previous years, bakeries claimed Halloween as the traditional season that sold the most donut treats, now areas of the country show that “PACZKI” slaes surpass even their #1 bakery holiday of Christmas.”
Welcome to the end of February and the end of week 25. Boy, I can’t for the temperatures to catch up with the week number! Here are the highlights from the past 7 days:
1. The Feedback Oreo – We recently began the Show Me Creative Writing Unit in Language Arts class. Students learn to write short, detailed, language-rich descriptions with specific word choice, sensory details, and metaphor. An integral component of this unit is the feedback or critique process. We begin by doing this as a class to model appropriate language and feedback. My students were doing a phenomenal job with this, so I brought in real Oreos as a treat. The Feedback Oreo = detailed compliment, detailed critique, detailed compliment. Each student walks away with specific ideas of how to improve their piece as well as a confidence boost.
2. Weekly Cooking – The best decision I ever made was to do all of my cooking for the week on Sundays. I make a couple of entrees for me and my husband – we split these up into individual portions for lunch and dinners. I often double the recipes and freeze half. Above, you will see a Vegetable Stir Fry, Egg Muffins, Thai Pad See Ew, Korean Beef Noodle Bowls, and a Chocolate Pie! Not having to worry about meals during the hectic week is a major stress reliever for me and helps me to continue eating healthfully.
3. Pizza Party – To celebrate the winners of the PBIS Video contest, we threw a pizza party last Friday. All of the 8th grade staff helped chip in with desserts, soda, and other treats. It’s great to stop and celebrate with the students – it’s a great time to build relationships and reinforce positive behaviors.
4. Celebrating – On Saturday night, my husband took me out to celebrate turning in Chapter 4 of my dissertation. We went to my favorite sushi restaurant, then to Gigi’s Cupcakes for dessert. I love spending time with my husband – yay date night! – and I have no idea what is better than sushi and cupcakes!
5. Money Challenge – Have you seen this on Pinterest? It’s a weekly plan to put away money with the goal of saving up $1,378 by the end of the year. Since I’d like to buy a nice DSLR camera, I thought this would be a great idea. I’ve been putting away the suggested weekly deposit, but I’ve also been putting away some of the larger deposits for the end of the year. I guess I figured it would be easier to make these more difficult deposits when I have the extra cash. Have you ever done a money challenge? I’m wondering how well people stick with it. Seems like a great idea!
BONUS 6. Cuteness – The boys got their hairs cut. LOVE them!
I hope you had a fabulous week! I’d love you to send me a link or tell me about it below!
It is definitely my favorite holiday of the year. FOOD FOOD FOOD!
Between my husband and myself, we have 3 families to visit on Thanksgiving. Since my mother had to work on Thanksgiving for early Black Friday Sales (ARG!!), we only visited my husband’s 2 families this year. We will celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom on New Years when the holiday sales and craziness are over.
I did really well keeping with the Paleo diet – Thanksgiving is kind of a perfect holiday for that! I stuck with the meats and vegetables. I also started the day out with an amazing Paleo breakfast. You can find the recipe for the Paleo Waffles here. I made a full batch on Thursday, and I’ve been warming them up the leftovers for breakfast.
Pancakes are a weekend thing, right? There’s honestly no better way to spend an early Saturday or Sunday morning than sitting at the kitchen table with my husband (and the dog sitting ON my feet – he has attachment issues), reading the news, eating pancakes, and planning the rest of the day. How often do I get to do this? Almost never. Who wants to go through all the trouble and make all that mess?
WELL! I tried out another great idea I found on Pinterest. I made the pancake batter and spooned it into a plastic bag. I got the griddle nice and hot, cut off the corner of the bag, and squeezed the batter into perfectly shaped silver dollar pancakes. AWESOME!
The clean-up was almost nonexistent. I just threw away the bag! No drips all over the counter/stove to clean up. I am in love with pancakes all over again! Next weekend, I am going to try fun shapes. I mean, why not?
Another food prep activity that I am doing before Back-To-School is dehydrating fruit. This makes a great, hassle-free snack at a reasonable price, and without any chemicals or preservatives (NO sulfates!!!)! You can also preserve some of your favorite seasonal items that are about to disappear for a while (sniff, sniff… goodbye cherries!!!)
I’ve got to warn you – once you start, you will become obsessed! I have since moved on to vegetables… dun, dun, duuuun! I guess once I get my electric bill, it may curb my enthusiasm a bit…
In the pictures below, you can see my first batch.
1 Gala apple
1/2 large carton of strawberries
1/3 of a pineapple (not pictured) <— my FAVORITE!!
So as you can tell, it’s not as much fruit as it looks like. I dehydrated the fruit for about 6-7 hours. I probably could have gone longer on the pineapple. I did not do any pre-treatment of the fruit, but I have heard that a dash of cinnamon on the apples is delicious, as well as a lemon/lime spritz over everything for added zest.
Of course I make sure to cut the fruits as thinly as possible. I really like the crisp edges 🙂 For Christmas, I’d love to get a slicer to make the job go faster. I think this mandoline by Pampered Chef would be great, and this slicer by Paderno World Cuisine has nice reviews on Amazon.
Some other fruits/veggies I would like to try:
Right now, we are dehydrating fools as we prepare for my husband’s 9-day camping trip to the Boundary Waters. I am dehydrating a bunch of jalapeños, which will then be crushed into powder and used as a spice in various meals. We’ve also done a pound of carrots, and 4 red peppers. The house is really getting warm, but it smells delicious!
Do you have any recommendations or tips for food dehydrating?
In preparation for … (holding my breath)…. Back… To….(gulp) School….. (there, I said it), I am beginning to get things in order around the house. One of those tasks includes grocery shopping and preparing meals. Bless the Teacher-Mothers who are able to come home and cook dinner for their families; I just can’t seem to manage that, and I’m not even a mother! I decided to try frozen Slow-Cooker meals as a new option for my husband and me. I found some excellent recipes from Six Sisters’ Stuff – they really know their stuff! Very easy recipes without crazy ingredients, affordable, and delicious.
Though they have dozens of recipes, I picked 4 to begin: Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chicken Broccoli Alfredo, Hearty Beef Stew, and Chicken Cacciatori.
I began at the grocery store, where the above ingredients cost me only $51.63!!! Since I am making 8 Bags (16 meals), that’s only $3.22 a meal! I was very pleased with this, and I know I could have done better with coupons (new goal for next round).
The preparation took approximately 1 hour, just like the Six Sisters promise. I have a few recommendations if you are going to give this a try:
1. Begin by getting out a Sharpie and labeling all of your freezer bags. The Six Sisters recommend using freezer gallon bags. I did this, but I split each of the recipes into *2* gallon bags. They say the recipes are for approximately 5-6 meals, and it’s just my husband and myself, so I figured why not make it even easier by dividing in half.
2. Prepare all of the meat first. I hate this part and I like to get it over with. I clean and trim all of the meat and separate it into the appropriate bags. Then I can clean my countertops and not worry about cross-contamination.
3. Flip out the zippers of the bag. This makes the bags stand up nicely, and they are open for dumping in ingredients. You probably knew this already 😉
4. Use this as an opportunity to clean out your fridge/freezer! I love vegetables, so I added WAY more than the recipes called for. I cleaned out my veggie drawer and any little bags of frozen veggies I had left over from other meals.
5. Save the frozen ingredients for last.
Here are the final products – 8 frozen meals for 2-3. The directions are right on the bag: they’re ‘Husband-Proof’!
And here they are all stacked up, waiting to go in the freezer. They take up about a third of my freezer space.
A tip I have heard is to use Slow-Cooker liners to speed up the clean-up process. I don’t feel good about cooking my food in plastic bags, so I will not be doing this.
I hope these meals will last us through the crazy first month of September. The investment (financial and time) are definitely worth it!