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Saturday, June 29, 2013

EARLY July Currently!

I'm super-pumped that Farley is putting out her CURRENTLY for July a little early! 
Like her, I've got some seriously fun plans going on for the 4th so this is perfect timing, especially because it's a yucky Saturday morning in my little corner of the world!


Listening:
I am in LOVE with the Netflix-only season of Arrested Development. I was a fan of that show when it was on TV and was bummed when they cancelled. I've been binge-watching all morning! 

Loving:
My morning walks in our local cemetery are something I'm looking forward to more and more. 
The city does a FANTASTIC job of keeping the grounds very well kept. This morning it was cool to see the rising sun burn off the fog. I love to listen to the birds and just THINK quietly. Sometimes I listen to a podcast, which is also pretty cool. I just keep walk/running until it's over. I find that it's better not to look at the time or the distance, at least for me.

Thinking:
Aaaah, Saturday. I have NO idea what I'll get into today.
I just love that!

Wanting:
I almost put this under NEEDING because I really feel as though I NEED to see the ocean! It's therapeutic for the soul. Really! I'm hoping to sink my toes in the sand in just a couple of weeks. Bliss!

Needing:
As much as I'm trying to deny it, I have a TON of work to do to get ready for next year. I'm also helping my new teaching partner prepare for her first year in the classroom. I'm (kind of) excited to start.

Tips, Tricks, or Hints:
While I feel as though I've just dipped a couple of toes in the waters of TPT and Blogging, there are a few things I know to be true:
Keep on keepin' on! When I look back at some of my first products and posts I cringe! I'm glad to see that the work I'm producing now is of better quality/substance. Keep learning! When you don't know something- ASK! Chances are, a bunch of other people are wondering the same thing!
When you get in a rut, I find that buying a new set of clip art is just what I need to get me in the creative mode again. I often get ideas for projects from looking through Etsy or TPT stores for stuff!

That's it! Better get a move on my day!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Some Throwback Thursday Action and my What's That? Wednesday Reveal

Good Morning!

I've got 2 things going on here today: first, I'm linking up with sweet Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade for her Throwback Thursday link up. LOVE this idea! Linking up an old post. As I look back through my earlier blog posts I sometimes think "Ugh. What was I thinking?" Hahaha. Such is the case with practically EVERYTHING I look back on (hairstyles, fashion, makeup (dark lipliner, nude lips, ack!)


I'll also be revealing my WHAT'S THAT? WEDNESDAY objects. 
You guys had some good guesses!

Let's get in the way-back machine, first!

Today's throwback post is from last fall.
I was eager to experience all that autumn had to offer.
Right now I can't even THINK about that kind of stuff!

September 30, 2012
It's Fall Y'all!

“Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile.”
-William Cullen Bryant

Last weekend we celebrated the first official week of fall with a Sunday afternoon hike at Salt Fork State Park. It was a beautiful afternoon and despite not feeling 100%, my husband decided to go, too. We also brought our 4-legged pal, Casey along for the hike. He's a bit hyper and can use all the tire-ing out we can give him!




We decided to hike the Stone House trail which runs beside the lake and eventually leads you to the Kennedy Stone House: a restored home in the park from the 1840's.

Salt Fork was built in the 1960's. Before that time, many families and farms resided on the land. When the park was built, many people's homes and properties were torn down or flooded to make room for the construction of Salt Fork lake. For a long time, the Kennedy house stood in serious disrepair. Fortunately, a local citizen began a coalition to revive and restore this home and it's now a popular tourist destination within the park. You can walk to the Stone House or drive. This time of year is great for walking the trail since the bugs are at a minimum and the lake views with the changing tree leaves are pretty fantastic.





While I was there I also got a tour of the inside of the home from the sweet docents working that afternoon.  It was so interesting to hear the stories and see the pictures of how the land used to look before the creation of the park. An old root cellar is still intact on the property, too.



A beautiful patchwork quilt.


The Kennedy family originally raised Merino sheep for their wool.


As we hiked I also got some neat panoramic shots with my iPhone. The new iOS update gave my phone's camera the option to take panoramic photos. I'm pretty impressed with my first attempts.





 On our hike back I saw a little trail that headed down through a little meadow and down by the water. Curiously, I followed the trail and found the NEATEST things!







Check out the bend in that little tree :)

Check out those weird pine tree roots! Why are they like that? I really want to know!

My thought is that they are usually under water. Maybe the roots, while underwater, grow towards the sun? 
C'mon science-y, nature-y pals! I need Bill Nye or Mr. Wizard to help me out with this!

Sometimes I forget that fun adventures can be had without straying too far from home. I'm excited to get out in the park this afternoon to see how the leaves have changed. Fortunately, there are more hiking trails to explore & today we'll take a different route. 

What are YOU doing to celebrate the season? It's my favorite time of the year!

*******Like I said, I can't even THINK about fall yet!*******

Now for my WHAT'S THAT? WEDNESDAY REVEAL:

I started my first WTW linky yesterday and it was a lot of fun!

The plan is to post a picture or two (or three, or four) of something interesting and people guess what it is.
Just a little summer fun and as Ashley from First Grade Brain pointed out, 
IT'S FREE ENTERTAINMENT!
That's not always easy to come by nowadays.

So, here are my mystery objects!


This batter (which was an egg mixture with cake flour sifted on top) turned out to be:
CREPES!

I've never made them before- they were delicious! I had fresh blueberries and made a quick sauce with some water and sugar (just boil & reduce a little bit). My husband, meanwhile, recited every line he could remember from Sasha Baron Cohen's role in Talladega Nights (the french guy). 
He cracks me up.

Next is this one. Many of you got this one correct:

It's a blanket! I got this fun, yellow chevron-striped throw blanket at T.J. Maxx this winter and it's my favorite thing to wrap up in with a good book (or show) on the couch. My dog, Casey, loves it, too!

This one was not too hard. I noticed it on my walk in the cemetery yesterday.

It's tree lichen! 

This last one was tricky! 
Sequins? Glitter? What could it be?

If you're in my family you know exactly what this is!
This is the "award" that we give out on Christmas to the best/most original gift idea.
Since we've become adults, the cousins in my family have done a name exchange at Christmas and have been given a money limit to spend. We try to find the most funny, original, ridiculous gifts and then we vote to see who had the best ideas.
This is the "trophy" you get to keep for a year if you win!
My husband actually snagged this one for us.
Atta' boy!


The linky is still open if you want in on the fun this week! 

As soon as it stops raining I'm heading out for my walk.
What are you doing today?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

It's WHAT'S THAT? WEDNESDAY!

It's HERE! I'm so excited! 

Without further ado....It's....

This idea started last week when I was making cookies. While in the kitchen, I snapped a photo of my bowl of batter and posted it to Instagram asking people to make a guess as to WHAT I was posting. 
Which made me think...
Hmmm, I wonder if this idea could ever take off for a linky?

After conferring with my best friend (Hi, Cass!) who is not a blogger, she said she'd be interested to do it on Instagram (Follow me @ first_grade_fo). FUN! 
And while we're at it, if you tweet, post it on Twitter, too! (Follow me @ 1stgradefollie)
Hashtag #whatsthatwednesday

Soooo, if you're interested in joining in on the fun (which I hope that you are!) then post a picture or two of something interesting and LINK UP with us! 
The link is open until the following Tuesday so don't feel rushed! 
Include your WTW photos in another post for the week if you'd like!

I'll show you what I've got for you today:

Hmmm, looks like I'm cooking again...or am I baking?
What will it be?

What's this?

What could this be?

Well, that's interesting!
Any guesses as to what this stuff IS? 

I'll schedule a post for later to reveal my objects!
I hope you'll join in on the fun, too!

Link is at the bottom of THIS POST!

Also, I wanted to share a couple of pictures I took of the SUPERMOON this weekend.
My husband is SUCH a champ!
I drug him out on Sunday night at 9:00 to our local state park, Salt Fork, to go on a 
SUPERMOON NIGHT HIKE.


I don't think the naturalist expected to have this many people show up!
He gave a short presentation about nocturnal animals (my firsties would have LOVED that!) and some facts about the moon, owls, and fireflies.
Here's what I learned:
That male fireflies "glow" in a J formation.
The females wait in the grass for their mate!

Barred Owls, when they hoot, sound like they're vaguely saying:
"Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?"

Last summer, some severe storms wrecked the spots where the owls at Salt Fork were roosting. 
They made new roosts, right near where we were!

I also learned how to FOX WALK!
Did you know such a thing existed?
It's for when you're walking outside, in the dark, and you're feeling your way with your feet.
Nice and quiet, not stomping around.


It was a clear weekend, overall, but some clouds moved in that evening that made it kind of tricky. We had to wait for awhile for the moon to rise above those clouds so we could see. We waited patiently and listened to a catbird, yearned for a cool breeze, and chatted with some "locals" who came in from town for the event.

Because there were so many people there (probably close to 60!) , our "hike" consisted of walking down the road a ways, out from the lights of the campground until it was dark enough, and clear enough, to get a good glimpse of that big moon! It was gorgeous! We were bathed in moonlight! 

The naturalist then took us back to the amphitheater where he had binoculars and a telescope available for moon-viewing. He was also going to try and call in some owls. Cool!
I'd brought my "good" camera with me and wanted to get some moon shots so we headed down to the beach where I could get a good shot of the moon and the lake.

Check out what I got!
(Disclaimer: I didn't use a tripod! Ack! I hate fuzzy pictures! These are kind of cool though, so I'm letting it go because, LOOK AT ALL THAT MOONLIGHT!)




I could have stayed out there ALL NIGHT! Next time I'm bringing my tripod (and Cassie!)

I can't WAIT for you to link up with me! Happy What's That? Wednesday!



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

C'mon over to Bloglovin'!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/6349079/?claim=xuhcxfrj35z">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I think I already did this? Oh well, for good measure I'll post it again.

Friday, June 21, 2013

A First Day of Summer Five for Friday!


One cool thing about TODAY is that:
LAST Friday it was SPRING and
TODAY IT'S FINALLY, OFFICIALLY, SUMMER!

So, before you read this...
Before you do ANYTHING...
Crank UP your sound, PLAY this video, and CELEBRATE!
(This song takes me RIGHT BACK to middle school/junior high)
Classic!



I've got a hodge-podge of stuff today:



1. A recipe! I'm liking this new tradition of making a recipe part of my Five for Friday post. It gives me motivation to try new things and so far, they've all been really good!
This week I'm bringing you Lemon-blueberry cookies with lemon glaze.
(I'm calling them Jackson Pollock cookies because they're colorful & splattered)
I basically followed Baker Bettie's recipe but added a glaze.

Jackson Pollock Lemon-Blueberry Cookies with a Lemon Glaze

1 c. butter- softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp.vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 1/4 c. CAKE flour (I didn't even know about cake flour until this recipe. The box says it's finer and lighter than regular flour. That must be why these cookies are so fluffy & light)
1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
Add eggs one at a time until combined.
Add vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
Add cake flour, by the cup, until batter is combined.
Gently fold in blueberries and TRY not to break them. I did BIG, SOFT mixing strokes and was fine.
This recipe can also be made with the paddle attachment in a stand-up mixer, but you'll want to hand-fold in the blueberries or they'll break.
If you DO break berries, I don't think the taste will be affected.
Chill out, break or don't break your berries.
Just make these tasty cookies!
Refrigerate the batter for anywhere from 1 hour to overnight.
The cookies are really buttery and need to be cold when placed on cookie sheets.

No broken blueberries! Woot!
I'm sure these would look good if scooped with one of those mini ice-cream scoop things (I think they're for cookie-making) but if you use a tablespoon-spoon they will be okay, too. The batter will be nice & cold and you WILL break blueberries as you scoop.
It's okay! That's supposed to happen!
 I always use parchment paper for baking. My oven is temperamental and the parchment is like having insurance against burnt cookies (yuck).

No fancy scoops necessary!

Bake for 11-14 minutes. The edges should not brown too much.
They are so light and pillowy!

While you're waiting for your first batch to cool, and the second batch to bake, you can make your glaze.
I happened upon this because the Hubster and I both agreed that these cookies needed a little SOMETHING more. This glaze is sweet & lemony.
PLUS, lemons were 2/$1 at the store so I had another one to use.

Lemony-Glaze

1/2-3/4 c. powdered sugar.
It may have been more, I didn't measure any of this stuff, really.
It's glaze. You can't mess it up!
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest

Mix it up! If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Too thick? Taste it? Want it milder, add more milk.
Want it lemony-er? Add more juice.

When your cookies have cooled, use a fork and drip, splatter, and if you need to,
SLAP the icing on these bad boys!
Let the icing harden, oh, who am I kidding?
We definitely ate some warm
and they were AMAZEBALLS :)
I'll definitely be making these again before summer is over!


2. The creation of those cookies above actually inspired me in another way.
Special little cookies that they are.
While baking, I Instagrammed the photo of the batter-bowl photo with a caption about GUESSING what in the world that batter was going to be?
I hashtagged the photo with the first thing to come to my mind #whatsthatwednesday.
Hmmm, that's a fun idea...
Pictures of random thing, close-up things, or crazy things with the caption of
What's THAT? Wednesday
And a new linky idea was born!


Here's my plan:
whether it's through a blog post or on Instagram or Twitter, snap a photo of something (I'm sure I'll have more than one) intriguing, interesting, weird, or cool.
Even the most ordinary things, when photographed from a certain angle, or close-up (or far away) can be get people wondering:
What's THAT?


The other night, once I finished my cookies, I posted a photo of them with that #whatsthatwednesday hashtag. I could have made a picstitch side-by-side, too.
OR, if it's in a blog post, I will schedule a short, "reveal" post for later in the day to show WHAT my "thing" really is. Post comments of your guesses to photos and/or blog posts.
Is all this making sense?
Does it sound like a good idea?
 This could be interesting...
And hopefully lots of FUN!

This linky will be replacing my Wild & Wonderful Wednesday link up & I'm excited to take my ideas in a new direction. I'd love for you to link up with me too! 
Look for it NEXT Wednesday.

3. I picked up a new book in the Kindle store this week and I'm really excited about it!


Do you know about Whole Brain Teaching?
I know some of you JUST attended the conference! Lucky!
I'm excited to hear how it was!
I incorporated many WBT techniques last year and it really started my year off in a good way.
My firsties LOVED the classroom rules and wanted to show ANYONE who came in our room what we were all about!
Class-Yes was wonderful!
It saved me from raising my voice and got everyone's attention quickly.

To me, so many of the principals and foundations of this program 
JUST MAKE SENSE.
Check out these videos on WBT to see it "in-action"!

Kindergarten:


First Grade:

Second Grade:

Third Grade:

You can also find out more about the WBT movement by checking out
The WBT Website

Pretty amazing stuff, huh?
There's also a book-study of this book going on right now, too.
Check it out!

4. Here's a little Pinterest tip that I love:

Did you know that hot white vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap make the BEST shower cleaner?
Put it in a spray bottle and spray your shower down.
Then hightail it out of the bathroom because it smells like vinegar (not for long, though).
Come back anywhere from 15 minutes to HOURS later and wipe it down.
I use a magic-eraser and it makes my shower SPARKLE!
Seriously. Like it's BRAND NEW!
I even know people who put that solution in one of those dishwasher-wands and keep it in the shower for daily cleaning. SMART!

5.
 Finally, I want to share a small victory in my quest for fitness.
I've been out running this week.
This is kind of a big deal for me because I am NOT a runner.
Oh, I dream of running.
It's one of my favorite recurring dreams.
I can run and run without side cramps, shin splints, or feeling-like-I'm-going-to-die breathlessness.
It's wonderful. It's what makes me want to get good at it FOR REAL.

In my dreams I glide through the air as though I'm being propelled by springs (I may be, it is a dream, afterall). My hair is flowing behind me, I'm smiling and possibly wearing an olympic jersey. (Like I said, it's a dream, the details are fuzzy).
In reality, I'm awkwardly plodding along trying to remember to lean forward from the ankles, breathe in and out, not trip, all the while trying to look like I know what I'm doing.
THAT'S exhausting!
Needless to say, I've been taking my talents to Southbeach the local cemetery where the audience is sparse and the beautifully manicured lawns provide a good mixture of sun, shade, and the occasional old person taking a stroll.
It's not pretty but I'm doing it and I don't want to quit.
I'm using the Couch to 5K program (C25K) and have it as an app on my phone.
It lets me play my playlist behind it and reminds me when to jog and when to walk.
I'm pleasantly surprised at how quickly I recover after my "jogs". The program gently increases the jogging and I should be 5K ready in about 9 weeks.
9 hotter-than-a-habanero weeks.
My legs are that good-kind-of-sore. I love that.
I'm planning on entering some late-summer/early-fall races.
I'm excited to see where this road takes me, both literally and figuratively :)
I know lots of you out there are runners.
What's your best tip for newbies like me?

Whew! My fingers are tired! It's supposed to be a hot one today.
Getting ready to head to the pool for fun in the sun!
Happy Friday!



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Get In the Way-Back Machine for Throwback Thursday!


Well, not THAT far back.
I'm linking up with Cara Carroll from The First Grade Parade for her Throwback Thursday linky
She's got a great idea: link back to an old post. I love that idea! 
My post is from last summer- (Thursday, May 24, 2012) Memorial Day weekend, to be exact.
It's not really a school-y post, because it highlights a garden project I did.
I created an herb garden wall that I used for the majority of the summer until it got REALLY HOT out and everything kind of died. 
Hahaha. 

Here's the original post:

A few months ago I went "junking" in my Grandma's garage and came up with a bunch of old mason jars my Grandpa used to collect. I knew that I could find something on Pinterest to do with them, and I did!



I searched for "mason jars" and found a bunch of cute ideas, but one that stuck with me was making an herb garden in individual jars. You needed some jars, a few scraps of old wood (which I had), some broken pottery to absorb moisture, some hose clamps, some cable staples, and some herbs.

As if I haven't been to the greenhouse enough this year :) I lured Billy out with the promise of lunch if he would go with me. We drove out to McDaniels's and picked out a flat of assorted herbs. While we were in Rix Mills, we also stopped at Terra Cotta Vineyards (where we were married) for a couple of bottles of wine & to take in the amazing view! It was a gorgeous day!


I live in a part of Ohio once-famous for it's pottery. We have a couple of pottery retailers pretty close. I knew I needed some pieces of pottery for the bottom of my jars to absorb excess moisture since there's no drainage. I had intended to find some "seconds" pots and bash them up. When I told the cashier my intentions she informed me that I could buy a 10 pound box of pottery shards for 5 bucks! Deal!

Inside were some of the neatest things!

A nearly perfect, plain, crock




Broken Fiestaware!


and my favorite: a broken garden gnome that looks astonishingly like George W. Bush!



I began the project by staining my wood pieces. 

Before:


...and after:


Then I used  wire staples to affix the hose clamps on the wood pieces. I put my jars on the wood to see where I needed the clamp to go. Either around the top, or in the middle.


There very well may be a better gadget to use for securing the clamps to the wood, but I found that even though these were a little bulky, they allowed for me to adjust the clamp, which came in handy!

I used a hammer and broke up some of the pottery pieces to go in the bottom of the jars.





I put a nice layer of potting soil in the jar ( I used Miracle-Gro Moisture Control) and potted a plant! I found a nice assortment at the greenhouse and they were buy 4- get 1 free! :)












I topped them off with a little more soil & tightened the hose-clamps. Voila!

Beware! You CAN overtighten... at least, I think that's what happened. It was the first one I did! I was planting some other plants & heard a POP! The top just popped off! Whoops.



I used all the wood I had and made about 5 boards & jars. I hung them on an east-facing wall outside & can't wait to start snipping! I'm envisioning caprese salads with fresh basil, mojitos with fresh mint, and new recipes with marjoram- an herb I'm not very familiar with.




That's it! It was a fairly easy, cheap, and fun project! Jane, my Mother-In-Law brought me 10 new plants on Tuesday night- so it's back to Grandma's for more jars!

Happy almost-Memorial day weekend!

-Alisha