As we all know 2020 has been a very interesting year. I say interesting because so many things have happened in my bubble and in the global bubble. There have been positive and not so positive things that have occurred and I feel like I want to make sure I try to tip the scale at the end of this rollercoaster year in a positive direction.
My mini me and I made a fun and festive holiday treat for our neighbors. Being at home alot more these days has its ups and downs. We have seen and done more driveway chats with our neighbors than we have done in years! With this being said we have plenty of time on our hands, on the weekends, to be creative and productive, so we thought making treats for our neighbors would be a nice way to spend our Sunday afternoon.
We didn’t want to bake, because we assumed people will do that for themselves. Instagram and Facebook have surely displayed all of the banana bread, cookies and soups people have been whipping up over the last several months, so we decided on something sweet, salty and crunchy.
I think this has many names if you look up recipes on Pinterest.
- Grinch mix
- White trash
- White Christmas Mix
- White Out Mix
We did not follow a specific recipe. We used what we saw for a gluten free inspiration. Everything but the pretzels were normally gluten free. I personally like the gluten free pretzle sticks, but and shape will work.
We loaded our ingredients in the bowl. No real measuring. We sort of eyeballed the dry ingredients. This is very simple and fun for kids.
I melted the white chocolate. My mini me still isn’t ready for the stove, so while she scooped I melted the white chocolate wafers down to creamy deliciousness. I use a glass bowl that fits perfectly over a sauce pan, creating a double boiler.
I didn’t take a picture of the mixing process, but once the chocolate was ready I poured it onto the crunchy mixture and gently folded everything together. My goal was to evenly coat the dry ingredients. This is was an easy step and where our treat making story has two results.
With the first batch we added the candy and sprinkles on top…after we spread it out onto a pan lined with parchment paper.
This version looked prettier, but when packaging it up….the candy didn’t stick completely. I had to collect the mm’s and add them to the containers.
With this batch we added the candies into the mix and coated them at the same time. We added the sprinkles on after we spread it out . This way the sprinkles didn’t melt and turn the chocolate pink.
Next, we allowed the batches to cool and harden. This took about an hour. While this was happening we gathered what we needed to get things ready to package and send to the neighbors.
We put our tasty treat into disposable tin pans. I already had them and they are something that can be recycled when the treat is gone. No need to return a dish or container. In the past I have used cute, printed metal tins. I don’t know about you, but I can only store so many of my own, so I don’t want to burned someone else with storing a seasonal tin.
We added tags and bows. Nothing crazy or fancy. I wrote a holiday message on the back side and a quick note of ingredients. I have no idea about allergies, but I know that if we received this I probably wouldn’t eat it because I would be scared of gluten.
My mini popped on her elf hat and hit the sidewalk delivering our delectable delight with a dash of holiday cheer. Mission accomplished!
Gluten Free Merry Munch Mix
- Gluten Free Pretzles
- Kix cereal
- Crispix cereal
- Mini MM’s
- White chocolate melting wafers or white chocolate chips
This is what we used, but you can honestly add whatever you want…coat it in chocolate and it will be delicious! I am hoping to create a another medley next week. I will post and share.
Wishing you a fun and festive holiday season-whatever you celebrate. I hope you can take time to enjoy, rest, and spread some holiday cheer!
This is for sure the strangest Halloween I have ever had. Instead of thinking about all the things that aren’t or won’t….I am wishing you a spooktacular weekend!!
I hope you find ways to celebrate- if that is your thing. I wish you a batty good time. Throw on a scary movie, eat some candy and sip some cider.
I put a costume together for my mini me. I am usually making a scary something, but this year she wanted a game character. She plays a game called Among Us. I have no clue, but momma tries to deliver. I made a mask that she can wear with the costume…which is a cyan hoodie and pants. Pure comfort for a covid Halloween at school.
There is no way she can survive a day with this mask, but in spurts she can character up. She will supplement with a typical mask. We are just trying to make the most of things.
I am still loving my yoga skeletons. These will totally be put away in a few days, but they are totally fun. I think I need to find some yoga Santas or reindeer.
So thankful Halloween is on a Saturday. This is every teacher or parents dream. Last year I remember dragging myself and child to school. Sunday will be filled with football and naps!
We are ready to hand out some candy….at a proper distance and watch the jack-o-lanterns glow under a full moon. 2020 has been proven to be very tricky, hopefully we coast into November with only leftover treats!
I don’t know about you, but I have been looking forward to this long weekend. The start of school has had so many mixed emotions. I am so glad to be back, but I have needed some family time and fall foliage. Fall is my favorite season and we definitely enjoyed what nature had to offer.
Normally we take the October weekend and go somewhere, but with things being less than normal we decided a short car trip was manageable. The drive was a cornucopia of colors. We took a drive out to a museum and Colonial/Victorian village. We are a bit nerdy, so we like a little bit of history and since my mini me has never been we thought- why not!
It was incredibly therapeutic to be out and about enjoying some beautiful fall finds. We still had to be masked at points, but in moderation. It is sort of strange to think about how much has changed in a year.
I was looking back at pics in my phone this week and I almost gave into the covid crankies. It started with looking for a cute fall pic for my work desktop. I wanted to fire up my computer and see something uplifting. I found many great pics and it got me thinking how this Columbus Day weekend was doing to be lack luster if I or we didn’t think of something to do. Something relaxing, new and manageable.
Luckily we settled on visiting the museum and had a very blessed day. Blessed with good weather. Blessed with low crowds. Blessed with beautiful scenery.
We loved walking the lanes of the village. I think in better times there is more to be seen and more to do, but it was satisfying to explore something new as a family. We didn’t look at everything because we want to go back and we didn’t feel the pressure to see it all…like we do when we explore farther from home.
The gardens were so picturesque. I can see why this is a popular wedding destination. It was very peaceful and there are multiple vignettes for a beautiful background.
The staff was incredibly friendly. My hope is when we visit again there will be more staff to learn from and watch “living life” in the past.
Being out in the sunshine, no schedule, with my favorite people…perfect way to spend a October Saturday. We stopped in a house and in the kitchen was a woman dressed in period clothing baking. We found out that they make the bake good in the confectionery. Of course we had to get something. I am not going to be able to sample it, but the maple bread looked delicious. I think it is cool that they aren’t just acting the part, the staff that is dressed in garb circa 1800 something, they are really doing functional jobs that sustain the museum.
Trying to be normal is some days harder than others. I am very thankful for this simple day. Being in nature with my favorite people checked the box for a fun holiday weekend.
This village visit also inspired a family movie night. We watched M. Night Shymalan’s The Village. It’s October, gotta get a spooky movie or two in!
Today while I was at Barnes and Noble, enjoying a Sunday browse with my mini me, I saw a book that caught my eye and really inspired this post. I am sure this book could be incredibly helpful for some parents, but I honestly didn’t crack the cover. I sort of said to myself “thank God I don’t need this, but it has been hours since I was in the store and I am coming back to this title.
We have always been very thankful our daughter has always loved books. We have never forced her or even had to mildly encourage her to turn some pages. As a teacher I am aware that many children do not love to read. Maybe they have legitimate difficulties. Maybe they just don’t find joy on the page.
As a reader myself I can not relate to people, children or students that do not enjoy reading for pleasure. I myself was a rabid reader. The kid with a flashlight under the covers. I now have that child. I lovingly kid that if we allowed her to get every book she wanted we would live in a shack. She tells us it would be a shack made of books. Maybe we could be the fourth Little Pig house…do you think a house made of books would withstand the Big Bad Wolf???
I started to think what did we do to foster her love of reading?
We started reading to her when she was a baby. We started with cute little board books. She enjoyed books that were interactive and tactile.
We had books in the bathroom, in the car and in her tote bag. We made books more accessible than toys at times. This was not intentional. We are readers and we find value in books. We now share our fabulous finds. She manages our lending library.
We made trips to the book store and library very common. She must have showed everyone in our family her library card. For her birthday she is always pumped to get a Barnes and Noble gift card. She is also very blessed to have a great aunt, a former librarian, send her books.
Reading is a family affair.
We read to her at night. This seems like something most parents do. However we also made up stories and she in turn made up her own stories. They could have been totally original or variations on stories we had read.
We have always been positive and sort of braggy that she is a reader. Maybe that makes us annoying or obnoxious, but I’ll take a bit of criticism, because we don’t have to nag her to get summer reading completed.
We have made being a reader part of her identity. She is confident and proud that she is a reader. This confidence with reading has naturally helped school work and she has become confident with public speaking. Being able to confidently read aloud built up her self esteem and when asked to read to a crowd at an assembly or church, she has done a spectacular job.
We have allowed her to explore genres. Fairytales and books about families were popular when she was three. Then she moved on to popular characters like Pig and Pete the cat. Once she started school and grabbed on to simple chapter books she really took off as an independent reader.
We now encourage her to explore new authors and titles. She loves fantasy and mystery, but I also like her to dabble in stories about feelings, growing up, and classics. Getting her to branch out is getting easier….thankfully. We have a solid selection of magic and mystery.
We also watch “the movie”. We will watch popular titles that have gone from the page to the big screen. I love how she will comment and critique the two mediums. She loves to find the differences and share her opinions. She is finding the book is usually better than the movie.
She recently was out of her own books and was desperate, so she tried to read off my shelves. If you follow me, you know there aren’t many titles on my shelves a tween could read, so it was a stretch. She dipped her toe into the Twilight pond. Well, she was hooked. She read the entire series. She has asked for Midnight Sun to be put on her Christmas list.
We are incredibly lucky to have a child that finds joy from all sorts of books. I am sure that the book I saw today is well written and helpful. I am just very thankful that we are readers and have parented a reader. I hope she never loses her love of reading. I know when I was in college I did for a bit. When something becomes a chore or just an overwhelming necessity it is hard to find the joy, but thankfully once I was done reading textbooks and required readings, I found happiness in characters and plots again.
Here’s to a lifetime of reading for pleasure and entertainment. May our bank account always be able to support her healthy habit!
Since the passing of RGB I have been feeling like I needed to post about books out there that can educate and inspire young girls to dream big. I know in recent years there have been more titles published to share the stories of bravery, courage and innovation women have contributed to the world. As I was looking for titles related to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I came across these ideas and thought I would share.
I love that people have put collections together. I looked up some these titles on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It makes my heart happy that there are titles for girls of differing ages and interests.
Since there has been such a push for women and girls in science these looked like great choices. I think is fabulous learning about smart and science minded women.
I was really happy to find a few books that were not just about inventing or science. I personally am not science minded, so if I was a young girl in would be looking for titles about women who made different contributions.
Our young people need to read and see titles showing the struggles, challenges and accomplishments of women, to know they too can do amazing things. Future men need to have these books in their heads too. Everyone needs to learn how women have had instrumental and necessary actions that have shaped all our lives for the better.
We are living in turbulent and unsettling times. There are so many things on the news everyday that make me stop and think about what I need to do to make the world a better place for my students and my own daughter. I feel like exposure to texts that are positive and explore the real life successes of women is a simple way to uplift and instill messages of confidence.
My daughter asked who was RBG? My response is you need to read about her. What I know is not enough, I know I too can learn more about her, so I preordered a book.
We have many My Little Golden Books. I thought this would be a wonderful addition to our collection. There are other titles that are currently available for use to read about the accomplishments of Ruth Bader Ginsburg until this becomes available, in December.
I love anthologies. One book that can give options. A buffet for the eyes and brain. This one caught my eye because the cover art is fun and the subtitle is what I want girls to think about….how can they dare to be different, even if they are just an ordinary person. How can they be brave to just be themselves and by being themselves contribute to society. I think everyday choices and actions have a profound impact on the greater good. Being mankind and thoughtful person is an accomplishment in today’s world.
Counting on Katherine is a great title and I feel like this can be applied to all of us. You may not be a math genius getting astronauts to the moon, but each one of us has a role and I am counting on each person to to their best and try to lead the most positive and powerful life they can lead. This is a message I am teaching to my students and my child. I try to remember that I still have lessons to learn as well.
Books have meaning and can be powerful. I hope that you find some inspiration from these titles. Maybe add one or two to your classroom library, buy one for the school library or for your home library. Sometimes the truest messages are found in the pages of a beautifully illustrated children’s book.
Trying to decompress can be tricky for me. My mind is always going. This is why I try to be present when I am doing yoga. I also try to be less thinking and more feeling when I spend time on my back patio.
It was a beautiful day. The temperature was perfect, there was a breeze and all the forest creatures were out in full force. I didn’t capture all of God’s creatures that made an afternoon visit, like all the birds and squirrels, but did capture a few.
These visitors were a lovely distraction from thinking about the upstart of school. We have enjoyed the outdoors more than ever this summer. I hear that from friends and family too. I think being cooped up really effected people and once we had better weather people made the mose of their outdoor spaces.
I purchased a gas fire pit for my hubs, for Father’s Day. This is easy and smell free for a cozy night. No post fire shower required. I can not sleep on fire scented hair, so this is the perfect alternative for my prissy self. Also, it is easy to get going for those of us that were never a girl scout.
We still do a wood fire on nights were we need a s’mores pick me up. We have tried smores with the gas fire, but we love the taste of a wood fire, toasted marshmallow better. I love spending family time toasting and eating marshmallows, but I do not love the smelly, post fire hair. So we have a balance of woodsy fire and clean, easy fire pit nights.
If the bugs creep you, just cover up all of your fireside treats. I love using these silicone bowl covers. I have had this for years. I have two smaller ones as well. They were a gift and the have been fabulous.
Backyard afternoons and nights seem to be our jam this summer. We added an awning to our patio and this had made our outside time so much more enjoyable. I have loved morning coffee, yoga and just doing nothing.
We have really used this space. It is perfect for dinner or summer homework. Sometimes just being in a different space can change something tremendously. It has been easy to loose track of time and stop thinking about the world outside our door. A friend was over for a visit and said it felt like a wonderland. I’m glad she found a moment to take in the simplicity of the situation. I think we don’t realize how wrapped up we get in the hustle and bustle.
Afternoons reading and just sitting out looking at the squirrels prep for winter have been perfect this summer. Summer is winding down, but I think this will still be a family hangout as the temperatures drop and the leaves change. Anything that helps decompress and unwind is a good thing, so I definitely feel patio sweater weather will be a thing!
This has been a busy week prepping for a party. It was a very socially distant and sort of differently planned party, which required alot of thought and physical labor. Thankfully I have a fabulous hubs who made our yard look fresh and pretty. I am also an excellent online shopper, so party planning was just a few clicks. Thankfully our guests seem to have had a good time and respected the new dynamic of getting together, so I am calling that a win for this emotionally drained teacher/mom.
I am still waiting to see what is going to happen with school, so I feel like I can only focus on what is in front of me. Which happens to be my family and house! Taking this summer day by day.
I know I am not alone with feeling anxious and conflicted about the upcoming, new school year. I have had ideas of what I want to write about and tips to share, but without knowing what I will be doing come September, I can’t write about something that isn’t authentic, so I hope you can just scroll and enjoy some pictures from a great week, where the focus was on things one can control and make nice.
Summer is here and enjoying the season is a priority. Winter seems incredibly long-with spring feeling like a blip on the calendar, so getting out into sunshine that does not have an icy glare is at the top of my summer to do list. Making the most of summers off is always important to me. Finding ways to recharge before September is vital for me and my students.
Being outside in the heat and humidity can be overwhelming, but being cooped up for months during a pandemic has proved to be more overwhelming and I am trying to embrace all summer has to offer. One way I like to chill out is basic gardening. I plant flowers and veggies every summer, this summer is no different. That actually feels good to write-up considering nothing about the last quarter of school felt normal! My semi green thumb is exactly like it was last summer and all the summers before.
I say semi green because I love the look and feel a garden brings, but I am not willing to weed and roast for it. We keep a garden that is easy and comes back every year. I like low maintenance plants the older and busier I get. Before our daughter I had more time to putter and fuss, but in the last few years her summer schedule has kept me busy, so easy peasy plants are right up my alley. I am not running around for camps and playdates, but that seemed to be validate my rational even more for a peaceful, zen like summer.
I look forward to my perennials. They are consistent and I love those first signs of spring/summer when they start to pop out of the soil. This year many of my hostas have been night time snacks for the deer….possibly other critters as well. I think we need to invest in some sort of repellent next summer and take pics before there is nothing but stems!
We planted a few new things in late May. We are hoping all of the new plant babies will flourish and provide a colorful border between us and our neighbors.
I always get potted flowers for pops of color. I know many people plant annuals, but I stopped doing that a handful of years ago. It looks pretty, but with a busy schedule and summer trips it is difficult to maintain….especially water, so I just do pots and hope for the best.
This summer we decided to keep veggies to a minimum. We are only growing tomatoes. I can always snag some herbs if I want, but as for other veggies we decided to just not. We have grown beans, peas, onions and peppers in the past. It is fun to watch everything progress, but we are keeping it super simple this summer.
Tomato plants are very low maintenance and we plant ours in containers, so there is zero weeding. I can’t wait until these little babies are full grown and ready to be picked. We sort of went a little tomato plant crazy, so I think our neighbors will be getting a homegrown taste of summer.
My summer garden is a wonderful, visual way to decompress through the summer months. Taking the time to plant, weed (a little) and water gives me a clam purpose before I start running and following the school schedules in September. Also having a low maintenance garden gives me time to do other things that I consider summer fun.
Sparklers, fireworks and bbq. The 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays to celebrate with friends and family. 2020 has proved to me a most interesting year and because of social distancing this holiday is not our typical event, but we are embracing the new normal with all the red, white & blue we can muster.
This snack mix has been on my summer to do list. I needed a sweet treat with a splash of red, white & blue. I looked to Pinterest for some ideas and I found a few different versions of this mix. My version is gluten free, of course!
- Rice Chex
- Corn Chex
- Mini marshmallows
- Gluten free pretzels
- Frosted Cheerios
- White chocolate wafers
Super simple to toss together. I didn’t measure. I just poured what I wanted in a large bowl, added melted wafers, tossed and spread out on wax paper lined pans. I left it to firm up for about an hour. I first put it into a container, but then I remembered we are living in covid times, so I decided to bag it into individual portions. The bags I used are super easy to use and affordable on Amazon. They self seal and are food safe, bakery bags. Here’s to patriotic calories!
Thankfully we could go out and get our annual schools out/holiday pedicure. Typically we select a more Americana look, but we were feeling the bright colors and a bit of nail art. It was super nice to get out and have some self care, even if we were wearing masks. Anything a little normal is a mood lifter these days.
A day at the lake is always a nice invite. We had a great time taking in the sunshine and lake breeze. A day of taking it easy and enjoying the company of family and friends can almost make a person forget how stressful things have been.
We decided to take an afternoon walk…to enjoy our surroundings and tire our four legged princess out a bit. While we walked I spotted this adorable gnome situation. We have a little gnome garden, but this was so cute and a great way to embellish a tree stump. Our gnomes need an upgraded location! This little scene made my day.
There Will Be Fireworks
The typical fireworks displays that we normally attend were not happening this year, so we luckily saw many home displays on our drive back from the lake. People really put on good shows. All of the home shows inspired us to dig out some fireworks we had…that were sort of old, but they did not disappoint.
Even though we had a modified, socially distant celebration it was surprisingly festive. This was our first big holiday embracing the new normal with modifications and positive attitude. Star spangled fun was had by all….looking forward to what the rest of summer will bring.
Our little lady is bringing joy to the streets. Taking our daily walk has turned into a totally different experience. We are loving this change.
Walking fast and easy is a temporary thing of the past. Our pint size princess needs leash training. She walks and stops to smell everything she can! This exploration if the neighborhood is cute, but not burning the quarantine calories. As you can see below she has a deep love of sticks, so finding the perfect one is essential. If she can carry it….she will.
The next thing I have noticed is we have a little celebrity. Because of the current situation more neighbors are outside walking and in their front yard. So many people are moving family fun from the back yard to the front yard and because of this social shift we have seen more of our neighbors in three months than we have seen in three years! We have always said hello or made pleasant eye contact, but now there is 6 feet of leash, social distancing conversation happening.
There is no denying she is adorable, but once we answer puppy questions we are talking about more….actually getting to know eachother. We have some very lovely neighbors who seem to be doing their best getting through this unprecedented time. From the outside, the only thing we are allowed to see, yards look beautiful, cars are getting washed, and celebrations are happening, but because we are stopping to chat we are learning more about them and their experiences.
It is totally great how Little Miss Maisel has spiraled into so much more. We are definitely taking this time to care and train her, but I love how such joy and happiness can be felt and seen from such a tiny creature. I feel more at home now, in my neighborhood, than I ever expected. The hustle and bustle of our old normal lives never really gave us time to do more than a power walk….no time gotta race to the next scheduled thing.
With slowing down, staying in and adding to our family we have grown so much. I love how happy our newest member makes us, but I think it is priceless how much happiness has been spread by four tiny paws. Seeing the smiles on peoples faces during a sort of scary, crappy and bleak time has made me rethink about this time and why we are going through this period of isolation.
If this wasn’t happening, being at home, I do not know if I would have felt confident in adding to our family. I am glad I listened to my gut. This whole experience just reaffirms my belief that everything happens for a reason and good things come in small packages!
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During everything that has been happening…or better yet not been happening, we decided to add a new level of happiness to our family. We were ready to move forward and let the pint sized chaos begin.
There has been a lot of conversation going on for the last couple of months. Do we? Don’t we? Are we ready? How will this change us?
That was Then
We used to have dogs. After last spring and the passing of our second dog we were in no rush to get a new dog. There was no replacing him. It was very hard watching our 13 almost 14 year old pet pass- it was life changing. We needed a bit of time to ourselves, to just be pet free for a while. If you have a dog you know it is almost like having a child and there is a level of responsibility that is your normal.
We needed to embrace a bit of emotional freedom-get a new normal. In the end he was a little aging grandpa and he took up alot of mental space, but with time we mourned and moved into a level of freedom we hadn’t had in a decade plus. We went on vacation without a dog sitter plan. We just became people with fish.
While we have been home and taking daily walks it became apparently obvious that we were ready. We were missing something….four paws. So, with a bit of reaching out to friends and online looking we found a little girl(from a litter that was living a home) that seemed to be a perfect fit for our family, especially now with plenty of time to train.
This is Now
This tiny little girl has completely adjusted our daily routine in a blink of an eye. We are puppy people! We are doing all of the things…..it’s almost like having an infant. We maybe sleep deprived, but it will all be worth it once she is house trained and acclimated to our family.
We are embracing this new normal with gusto and coffee. I will definitely be sharing more of our journey and plenty of pics! This is our unofficial kick off to a summer of puppy love.
Since things are a bit different now, I wanted to write a quick post today about our most recent visit to Star Wars Galaxies Edge in Disney World. It was a fun experience-as usual and we are very blessed that we visit Disney annually. Not sure how a 2021 trip will look like if any, but is was fun to do a little look back this morning and how perfect on May 4th.
I love how this calendar day is now connected to a little bit of fun and fantasy. I have been a lover of Star Wars since I was a wee person. I am not an over the top fan, but it is enjoyable and I have good memories watching the movies with my brother. I even had those blue star wars sheets as a kid. Not exactly sure where they are now….my Mom’s linen closet or long gone, funny how that works.
On our trip my hubs and I had fun looking at all of the details and what Disney Imaginers create. This isn’t a Disney review, so I won’t overshare what we saw. You can see from out pics that is was well done, fun and crowed. We enjoy Star Wars, but our little lady tolerates it….or so she says. I think she secretly loves it, but it is fun being oppositional sometimes. Jedi mind tricks for sure.
Just needed to add some whimsy to this day as I work from home and attempt to do some 5th grade math!
I feel a family movie night in our future! In these quarantined times I am glad we have eachother.
May the 4th Be With You…..and all of us!
As a teacher I know that I am never expecting a gift, but I do love to receive something from my students…something that they put thought into. Some of my most treasured gifts have been made from paper, crayons, stickers and kindness. I think most teachers feel the same way.
I know as a parent I look at teacher gifts from a totally different perspective. I want to make sure I find something personal, budget friendly and useful. I also encourage my mini me to take an active role in the shopping process. I want my child’s teachers to know we see and value their hard work and commitment.
One thing I do in September is look around the teachers room during open house. My mini keeps her eyes and ears open too throughout the first few months. This way we can even make a gift card more personal. Knowing something as simple as a favorite color can be so helpful.
This leads me to the ideas.
So I know most people love a gift card, but I have a love/awkward feeling about them. They are quick, easy, and practical…so people love to give and get.
They are quick, easy and practical…so that’s why I don’t always love to give. I feel like it says I don’t know you or had no time to shop for you, so I picked up a gift card.
This is where, for a teacher gift, I have to calm down and just do it…most people love them. I try to add something cute to the gift card that is personal and I try to select a gift card that is not just Starbucks-unless the teacher is seen with a cup daily.
Here are some of my past selections:
- Favorite Restaurant
- Favorite Store
- TJ Maxx
Depending on a teachers situation sometimes they need things for the room that they can’t or shouldn’t pay for. Teachers spend a lot out of pocket to make their room a great place for their students. Picking up their favorite pens is the least I can do.
- Flair Pens
- Dry Erase Markers
- Electric Pencil Sharpener
- Inspirational Stationary
- Personalized Stationary
Mugs and Water Bottles
- Personalized cups and mugs
- Themed cups and mugs
- Inspirational messages on cups. mugs and water bottles
I think these are useful and can be refreshed. I personally enjoy a new water bottle or cup, especially because I forget about them(which means they get gross) or loose them in my travels.
- Lotion and hand cream
- Lip balms/gloss
- Nail polish and cozy socks
- Massage certificate
I try to keep these unscented or neutral. Scent can be very personal and powerful. I choose neutral or classic colors as well.
- Edible arrangements
- Favorite snacks
- Hot chocolate
One observation I have made over my many years of teaching is teachers love a treat, but not ones from a home kitchen. You may make the best fudge ever, but during cold and flu season most teachers will pass. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy holiday break, not one filled with chicken soup and tissues. So, I always purchase a yummy treat.
With all of these ideas my ultimate goal is to get something useful, personal and something that isn’t cluttering up a shelf or desk. No teacher needs a dozen Best Teacher mugs! And no teacher wants to feel guilty not using the multiple mugs.
Whatever you a purchasing this holiday season I hope you enjoy the process. If you can’t think of anything unique…get the gift card. I know I am taking the pressure off of myself this year.
And if you don’t have the budget for a gift consider:
- A hand written note or card
- A kind email
- Have your child write or draw something
- Have your child create something
- A heartfelt “Merry Christmas” at pick up or drop off
I think the key is expressing appreciation. Who doesn’t like to feel respected and appreciated?!
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This zoo and aquarium was a workout. Pittsburgh is a bit hilly and the zoo was too. We got a little cardio in and saw all the furry friends.
I am always a bit conflicted with zoos. When I see animals behind fences and glass I often feel a bit sad, but I try to think of the conservative aspect. There are zoo programs that are trying to save certain species. My deepest hope is everything living and breathing is well taken care of.
I do love seeing an animal that I haven’t seen before. This little red panda was very cute and I don’t remember seeing one in person before.
The rhino was sort of hard to view, but that was ok. It does make me happy to know that people are trying to save these beautiful animals. They often make me think of baby dinosaurs.
These beauties are my mini’s favorite animal. She loves them and could stand there all day watching them eat, bathe and interact with eachother.
The leopard was very lovely to see. I have seen a snow leopard before and this guy was just as impressive.
As you can see I took some inspiration from this gorgeous creature. These are fun little canvas sneakers I picked up. Cruelty free of course! I had to wear these.
We definitely got our steps in. There were a couple of areas we didn’t explore….always leaving something for a future return.
The aquarium was our last stop before we ended our afternoon. It was nice to have it attached to the zoo. It wasn’t very large, so it was perfectly incorporated.
The seals were very playful and a bit vocal. I wish I could add in the video I took of theses “singers”. It made for a very amusing and interesting visit.
I think if you are ever in the Pittsburgh area and you have a few hours to kill and want to get in your steps, this is a fun and relaxing way to do both. We had a wonderful family time and made new memories.
There is one more post I am going to share about this long weekend…keep your eyes peeled if you are interested. I really love the Fall and just love it when we can get out and make memories.
After we finished touring the submarine and science center we decided to leave the car in the lot and walk along the river to lunch.
The weather was perfect and it was nice to take advantage. Soon we will be looking at snow…not my favorite, so I am living up these fabulous fall days.
My hubs picked some restaurant owned or named after a Pittsburgh Steeler. I am not a football aficionado, so the name ment nothing to me, but he was curious. We aren’t Steelers fans, but it was a Sunday and there were TVs everywhere with multiple games. He was happy.
I was ecstatic when I asked for a gluten free menu. The very sweet server brought me the menu and then proceeded to explain that my meal would be prepared in a back kitchen and come out on a circular plate. They bring out all allergy meals on a round plate and the rest of the meals are served on square plates.
I was almost in shock that this was their level of service. I ate stress free and felt relaxed when ordering. I didn’t have to explain myself or apologize for all the menu questions.
Because I had NONE!!!!!
If you are gluten free and in the Pittsburgh area I highly recommend stopping in for a snack, happy hour, or a meal.
On our second day of our long weekend we started our day in Pittsburgh with a quick drive to the Carnegie Science Center. It was easy to find and park. Two things I always like in a new city.
On arrival we noticed there was a special exhibit showing mummies. This was our first stop. We were instructed that there would be no pictures or video inside, so I sadly have only the photo below.
The experience was very interesting. I always loved egyptology as a child, so I thought for sure I would love this exhibit. Umm well. Not so much. My eyes and stomach really didn’t enjoy seeing real mummies. I think in the future I will stick to sarcophagus art and artifacts.
However, if you have a stronger stomach then I recommend this exhibit.
Onto looking at things that were never living!
Robots and mechanical things were a alot of fun to look and and interact with.
Of course these two were cute to see.
In this same area there were alot of robots that were doing things:
- Playing basketball
- Sorting medications
- Air hockey
- Moving balls
My hubs was super happy that he “beat” the robot. He really did, but I think the robot was not working right….hahaha!!!
Of course I had to manipulate this robotic hand. I had a great time trying to create ASL hand shapes. In the above picture I made the sign for I Love You. Then I decided to get a tiny bit sassy…in the picture below…please do not be offended.
Fear not. I did not leave this. I set the hand to a neutral position. I just couldn’t resist.
There was alot to learn about Space. My mini likes science and she loves things about space, so she was engrossed in many hands on activities.
There was a whole floor on the body. It was very fun and interactive for kids….adults too. I didn’t take any photos because there were a lot of little children around enjoying themselves and I didn’t want to worry about it. Living in the moment was also a priority. I need to be better about that.
I also was ready to get outside and tour the submarine.
This is the deck of a WWII submarine. We toured the inside and found out this particular sub never launched a torpedo in the war. It was decommissioned without ever firing.
I was surprised how roomy some of the areas were. I wanted to photograph more, but there were other people touring and it wasn’t my lucky day. Also, the smell of paint or fuel was so intense I didn’t linger inside very long. Chemical smells make me a bit nauseous.
After the tour of the sub we took a nice stroll along the water. It was really nice to explore a new city in beautiful weather with my people. Everyone and everything seemed to be enjoying the autumn sunshine!
I highly recommend this museum if you have children and want to be able to interact with the exhibits. We had a lovely morning learning and exploring!
In my next post I will share where we went to lunch. Gluten free happiness!!!
If ever in Pittsburgh this is a totally eclectic museum. There is a little bit of everything for family fun. We totally enjoyed all six floors. Each floor had 2 or more areas of interest.
I love that this building used to be an ice house. I really enjoy seeing old things repurposed for the good. The building itself is a treasure. The brick and wood beams feel old and industrial, but very cozy and charming. As we were leaving we saw that the first floor was bring transformed for a wedding.
Making new history!!!
Pittsburgh should be proud of this museum. It really highlights the city’s history and showcases the people who have made contributions to Pittsburgh and beyond.
If you love sports there is a lot to see and do. There are many interactive experiences in the sports area.
There is a rich history of industry and invention. My take aways were the city produced alot of steel, glass and pickles!! I know the city had and has so much more to offer, but those were the highlights.
If you love trolleys or transportation, there is a trolley museum in the city as well. We did not visit, but maybe in the future.
My favorite part was Mr. Rogers. I enjoyed watching his show as a child and as an adult it is hard not to love the message he was spreading.
If you didn’t know Heinz originated in Pittsburgh. They are proud of their 57 varieties and rightly so.
There was one floor where there was a collection of things that were cultural or just a blast from the past.
There was a good amount of hands on activities for children and adults. I really tried to be in the moment with my family, so I don’t have a lot of pictures of us playing, but there were science minded, art and sports activities. We played a football table game, bubble hockey, threw footballs, and tried to get materials to float.
We always take fun pictures, but the one below is just nonsense. The museum has an area that takes visitors back in time…apparently no one in my family wants to go back and do the hard chores.
We very much enjoyed out long weekend in Pittsburgh. Stay tuned for a couple of more posts about our weekend away.
We recently went apple picking and it was a delicious day. The sun was out, the field was dry and the apples were easy picking. Getting out for a couple of hours in mother nature’s glory was just what was needed. Back to school can be so hectic.
We picked four kinds of apples:
- Golden Surprise
After we were done we typically love to linger and get a snack. It was a bit to crowded. Beautiful weather brought people out in droves, so we just headed home. My people were also a little sweaty and a tiny bit cranky. What would we have done in the pioneer days? Hahaha!
The following day I was motivated to do something with our haul. I decided on apple sauce. I don’t have a recipe for this. I just figure it is a basic concept. I am sure there are amazing recipes online, but I just wing it.
- Crockpot-on low
- Apples-all four varieties
- Cinnamon-as much as you like
- Splash of water
I peel, cut and load the crockpot. As I fill the pot with apple chunks I sprinkle some cinnamon on each layer. Nothing measured…nothing fancy. The lid goes on top and after a few hours I give it a stir. I check to see if they are breaking down. After about 4 or 5 hours I see if the apples are soft enough for me to start mushing.
Then it simmers and cooks down a bit longer. I take the crock out when I think it is smooth enough…..applesaucy. We like ours with chunks too, so I do not puree it. Like I said I am not fancy when making applesauce.
I love eating it warm!
I have plans to make more applesauce and probably some gluten free apple desserts. I will add anything new I bake or create to the post. So check back for updates to this post if you are curious.
Fall is my favorite season and so far this one is starting out with good family fun. I am hoping you have a beautiful harvest season too!!!
Sometimes just a sprinkle of sunshine can make for an uplifting and beautiful day. We went to a local sunflower field to take some pictures and soak up the last days of summer vacation.
- The weather was perfect.
- The bees were busy.
- The flowers were in full bloom.
- The company was perfect.
What is it about sunflowers?
Don’t they just make you smile!?
We probably spent about an hour or two walking the field, sipping lemonade and taking it all in. There was a small craft show. I love looking at things people crafted with love and passion.
This was a splendid, suntastic family day!
I am holding onto the last days of summer vacation…before school starts. This time of year is always a mix of emotions, but standing in the middle of a field of sunshine and busy bees…it was nothing but happiness.
It was sort of awesome to see all the bees hard at work. One would think standing in a buzzing field might be scary or concerning, but they wanted nothing to do with us. I’ve never been stung, so I am always mindful, but these busy bees were working overtime.
The bees were busy, but we were all about the funshine!
I suggested our mini adventure, but then almost changed my mind and thought I would work on some back to school projects. I’m so glad I didn’t. The projects will get done, eventually, but the memories made and time we spent as a family is irreplaceable.
Doing small things can be so huge for the soul.
If you regularly read my blog posts you know I try to listen to my inner voice…go with my gut. Today it said sunshine and sunflowers. I’m glad I listened.
Wander…..with the ones you love.
Explore your own “backyard”.
What are long weekends made for??? In my life-family time. That can mean a lot of things. Typically I love a getaway, but we stayed home this Memorial Day Weekend. This holiday weekend was so great because it was a four day weekend. Yes, that’s right four glorious days off that were lightly planned.
My hubs had to work, but my mini me and I had off. She slept in and I started my day in quiet with coffee. So good. I knew we had to make these treats for the charity walk on Sunday, so while it was still early and calm I prepped what we needed.
This was fairly simple, but very robotic. Once all of this was done and she had breakfast it was time to assemble. These are super simple to make. I feel like they are a great combination of sweet and salty….gluten free too.
Preheat oven to 275°
Bake for 2-3 minutes
Once out of the oven gently press a candy into the melted kiss
This was a great baking project to do with my mini. Sort of relaxing and she could do everything except use the oven. We have built-ins and they are too high to risk injury.
Once they were cooled we were ready to package them up. She decided we should put 2 of each kind into these really cute and easy clear, baking bags I found on Amazon. This whole project was calm, easy and a perfect way for her to help give back.
The rest of our Friday was super fun. We went to see Aladdin with friends. We thoroughly enjoyed this film. It was funny, kept to the animated story, but had a few new elements and was a perfect way to kick off our family time. Of course we got popcorn…the big bucket and I packed the rest of the peanut mm’s in my bag. One of my favorite things to get at the movies is a Coke ICEE. Totally unhealthy, but I love it. I used to calorie splurge on hot pretzels and cheese, but since going gluten free, I have decided to sugar myself up with a cup of slushie magic. If and when the machine is out, or not working-total let down, but the long weekend gods were on my side and I happily sucked up those empty calories.
This day started like many Saturdays of recent. I got up by myself and sat in peace and quiet with my coffee and phone. I checked out the online world while I rocked and sipped. Then it was time for me to head off to yoga. This new routine has become a great way to start a typical weekend. I have really come to enjoy what yoga has opened me up to. My class was great-totally challenged me, but my instructor informed us at the end that she was no longer going to be teaching this class. She is moving on to her MORE in life. I was totally devastated. I am thrilled for her of course, but I finally feel like I have found my jam. There is something about the way she teaches, pushes me and her energy…. that’s what got me out of the house when I’ve had a long and tiring day or it is a wet, gloomy morning ….when staying in seems like a much better idea, but I get ready and go. No workout has ever done that. I am not easily motivated to work out. I have tried many things….our gadget filled basement is proof of my quest for the right exercise for me. So, I am not sure what is going to happen with my Thursday and Saturday hour and fifteen minutes of me time. I am sure her position with be filled, but never replaced.
Enough with the pity party…..so the rest of my day was spent with nature and my peeps. We found a park online. I swear Facebook is listening or invisible aliens report to Facebook what you are going to be looking for, because I mentioned the hubs we needed to get out and do something with nature. We all needed some vitamin D. Winter was long and painful. It is time to embrace the good weather, for as long as we can. So, I hopped on my phone to send a text and then wandered over to FB. What pops up….yes an article link for a park about an hour away from us. I click, look at the pics and he googled the directions. This is when I love technology and spontaneity.
Thirty minutes later we were in the car, off on a new family adventure. The park was really nice and just at my level. I am no woman of the woods. My spastic, unrealistic fears of things that live in the woods or that scurry in the night restrict me from full on hiking, but this park provided us with enough visual food for the soul, as well as manicured and maintained paths for the spastic.
We hiked the trails and watched our daughter shoe away the “bugs”. It is sort of laughable at times and then sometimes annoying, but I have no room to judge, considering there are multiple things that, live and breathe, I am afraid of.
We needed this time together. It was so nice to walk, talk and take in mother nature. Winter really does seem too long-caging us inside. We are not snow bunnies, so the arrival of early summer is a blessing.
I get teased by my hubby, but I love to take pictures. He jokes we only vacation so I can Shutterfly. So not true, but I do love making photo books too. I took pictures this day, but I tried to look more with my eyes and be present; not running my to do list in my head, not thinking of what comes next.
On our drive home I spotted another waterfall. How awesome is that?!! Two waterfalls in one day. No one got out except me. I needed a picture of course. It was small, but cool. At the top I could see a home was next to it. I thought it very relaxing. Could you imagine living next to that beautiful white noise?!
We wrapped our day in our neighborhood at a local diner we frequent. This is often a typical Saturday night. My hubs likes to eat this chicken dinner they serve. We lovingly call it his Saturday Night Special. It is nothing mind blowing, but sometimes the simplest of things are the yummiest. I have to say because he orders it so often it makes me question my chicken cooking skills. Hmmm????
After a day of hiking and sunshine we were kind of wiped out. So we had an early night of watching Harry Potter on TV. Everyone was off to bed to get their beauty sleep for Sunday. So, all in all great day!
This was our day we were going to help our closest friends kick off a new passion project. They put together a walk to raise money for a cancer research hospital in our area. She said this idea came to her on the treadmill. Well it was a winner. They raised a surprising amount of money, for a first time event, and created a fun day for families to get out & support their community. It was so awesome to see so many young families taking time out of their holiday weekend and showing their kids a way to open their hearts and support others in need.
The walk was very manageable-two miles on a path in their neighborhood. This walk is by no means a challenge, but a lot of the kiddos that were feeling it. We let our daughter scooter. She was happy and we heard zero complaining. Some parents we carrying their kids. My back is too old for that! The weather was beautiful. It was the perfect temperature, clear skies and a breeze. My friend watched the weather all week. She was so nervous it would ran. Not a drop!
The walk finished at their home with a bake sale and basket auction. This was a very successful sale. There were so many gluten filled treats I longed for. My friend and her mom baked all day Friday, her in-laws must have baked for days and there were the few contributions we made. This cause really effects so many and brings out the best in people. For whatever reason people came out…it was awesome they did and they brought their wallets. That might not be the thing to say, but it is true. Our friends raised $7000!!!!
There was a bounce house set up for the kids. I don’t think I need to explain how this is a gift that keeps on giving. Parents are happy, kids are happy. I think it was funny how so many were tired walking, but could bounce for days.
My friends also set out corn hole. I am not usually into playing, but the hubs and I played for a bit, after I was done selling basket auction tickets. It was fun. If you have read a previous post -I posted about a month ago- you might know he does not like to loose, especially to me. I was the mini golf champion but he beat me by two throws this day. I am sooooo okay with it. I am not competitive by nature…some people pout over it (hahahha), which requires the occasional winner (me) to rub it in…just a bit! I could have asked for a rematch, but it was time to clean up.
Once everyone had left and the tents went down we had a very relaxing dinner. It was nice to just sit and chat. Our friends parents put it together and it was delicious. I love seeing the care and effort people put into a simple meal. I think the act of making sure people are well fed is an amazing quality. I didn’t take a picture….kicking myself, but I was living in the moment. Kept my phone in my belt bag. Yep a belt bag…the chic way of saying fanny pack! I will explore this new found love in a future post.
When they day was done we drove home full….full bellies and hearts full of friendship. Giving back and supporting friends fills my bucket.
I can’t really explain it, but it does a soul good.
So I typically blog and post on Sunday. Long weekends don’t really work with the schedule, so Monday it is. I made my coffee and got to work early, because I wanted to be able to enjoy the day with my family. We planned on going to the Memorial day parade. Before the parade I wanted to get a few things made for dinner. I put together a gluten free tuna mac salad and something we call green fluffy. Both are super simple and require me tossing things together.
Then it was time to shower and head out to the parade. We have made it an annual tradition to go to the local Memorial Day Parade. For the past couple of years we meet up with school friends. It is nice. This year we were a tiny bit late. My hubbie read online that it started at 12….I thought maybe 11, but I wasn’t in the mood to question it. So, we intended to be early and sit in our favorite spot, but we ended up being 20 minutes late and missing some of the parade. No matter our friends were set up on time and we squeezed in the shade. We watched the last half. The bag pipes are my favorite. It was nice to catch up with friends we haven’t seen in a bit. Thank goodness for texting, but it is always better to chat face to face.
After the parade it was a quick stop for lunch and then home. Time to get in back to school/work mode. All of the Sunday things were happening: dinner prep, laundry, blogging, TV watching, picking up all the little things, planning and sending out texts to keep up with all the people in my tribe I needed to catch up with.
I hope you had a fun filled long weekend! Feel free to comment, drop a question or follow me.
This is teacher appreciation week. I being a teacher know how a small thank you can go far. I put these together tonight. These are for all of the special area teachers: art, music, lessons, library, tech, religion, PE and anyone else my mini me wants to appreciate.
This has been a weird school year for us. She switched schools. Sometimes a smaller, more peaceful environment is needed. I really can’t say more than that. It wasn’t a crazy dramatic reason. She just needed it-so it happened and all the staff at our new school have been beyond accepting, supportive and KIND.
So, this is just a tiny thank you to express how much we LOVE who they are. Teachers are in or have been in all of our lives and I know that most everyone can tell a story about one teacher that was not so bright and shiny, but for all of the teachers that showed up and show up everyday…maybe remember to thank them this week or at the end of the year.
And not just the teachers…how about bus drivers, cafeteria staff, front office staff, guidance counselors….all of the amazing people who work behind the scenes to make a child’s day a success. Most people like a small thank you, kind word or acknowledgment that they are doing a good job. I have been very blessed to travel to alot of schools and meet awesome people. As you might have read in a recent post I say thank you to my peers every June. I want to teach my child whatever you can do….do it. Say Thank You, Show Gratitude.
If this post doesn’t apply to you-maybe think about doing a tiny thank you for someone who is making your life easier, better…more positive. How about just to lift them up and make a Monday feel like Friday!
These were super easy and fast to pop together. I designed the tag (it is in my tpt store), bought the KIND bars from Target, dollar tree bags and about 30 minutes, with Alexa spinning some tunes in the background.
I printed and laminated….excuse the glare. I cut and punched the hole. Next, I put treats in each bag.
I used one of each. My hope is they like!
You could do this. I know you can. I didnt even use fancy ribbon. I usually do, but I was keeping it simple! Put anything yummy or practical in the bag. I just loved this fruity heart clip art. I think the artist who designed it is going to be my new obsession….might add to the Buffet! So pretty. I can’t even!!! These were fun and spoke to me.
So my little will be delivering these to her new tribe!!! I just wanted to share. I had fun putting it together. Zero stress. I love to give back in whatever way I can.
Let’s all spread a tiny kindness this week.