November 29, 2013

Giveaway Reminder

I hope your hearts and bellies were just as full as mine yesterday. We were fortunate to be able to celebrate the holiday with both our families again. This year, though, it was extra exciting to have our niece, Aniya, with us for her very first Thanksgiving. The novelty of having a baby around was not lost on my family who took turns snuggling her all day. OK... to be honest, it was more like we hijacked opportunities to smuggle her away from the others. At one point, my sister brought her to me for a new diaper, and I swear, before I could even get her little jeggings back on both legs, my mom stole her out from under me! haha

Don't forget to enter my 40-page novel study Giveaway. If you or anyone you know teaches A Christmas Carol, this is a great resource that basically takes all of the guess work out of how to tackle the novel. It's ready-to-use activities will be a hit with your students!

Joel and I are going to hit up a couple stores to see if there are any Black Friday Deals left after the crazies are back home and in bed. He's hoping for a toolbox he saw at Home Depot. I hope there's one left so I can stop hearing about it!

However you spend your day, I hope you enjoy your much-deserved break from school. Relax... you deserve it!

November 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Thanksgiving Edition

Happy Thanksgiving! I've really developed a deeper appreciation for this holiday this year. I love that we take time out of the daily grind to appreciate all the blessings we've been given. I love that we spend a day celebrating just being together, with the only gifts exchanged being time and companionship.

Here is my Ultimate Thanksgiving List...
  1. Togetherness. There's nothing I love more than spending quality time with friends and family. I love that Joel's family joins mine for the holidays, and that we can just hang out. Both of our families are pretty laid back, so there's no pressure to impress anyone, which I also love.
  2. A boyfriend who supports and loves me unconditionally. Joel allows me to be myself completely and make choices that I want. Even when he doesn't agree, he stands by my decisions. Also, I couldn't tell you the last time I had to fill my own gas tank... that's a love language I can appreciate! :)
  3. Music. I love that there's always a song that fits my ever-changing (not in a bi-polar way... you know what I mean) mood. And I love hearing old songs that can instantly transform me to a previous time and place. Specifically, there are a few newer stations here in Chicago that play all the music from the 80s, 90s and 2000s, and I pretty much always have a smile plastered across my face when I listen. I often text my BFF, Ashley, telling her what I'm currently singing along to because I know she'll automatically be experiencing the same flashbacks. It's pretty awesome to be able to share that with someone. 
  4. Teacher Pay Teachers. What a fantastic resource this website has become. I love being able to find products created by those who are in the trenches every day. It's been a huge time-saver and source of inspiration. I'm also optimistic about being able to share more of my products in hopes of helping others and supplementing my income. It's such a great opportunity!
  5. Each and every one of you. I cannot count the ways you have taught, guided, inspired, encouraged, and supported me. Whether we've become bloggy friends, you're a regular or sporadic reader and commenter, or I'm just one of your stalkers, you've been a part of this journey for me. I know I'm a better teacher because of blogging, and I am so grateful that I'm part of this community. 

November 27, 2013

40-Page A Christmas Carol Novel Study Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I blogged about my favorite novel study, A Christmas Carol, and how I teach it in my classroom. With the help and support of a great friend (thanks again, Erin), I am suuuuuper excited to announce that I have finally posted my (very first) entire novel study unit to my TPT store!

I feel like I just birthed a child. For real. I literally spent an entire weekend, from early morning until midnight working on this packet and ignoring the world (while Joel whined the whole time). I kept promising that it will be worth it when they start selling... and I hope I'm right! haha!

If you teach this novel, you can click here to read about how I tackle this unit, which explains how the contents of my novel study packet are used. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to leave a comment below or shoot me an email so I can respond.

Just as I mentioned in my previous post, this 40 page packet is full of activities to help your students master characterization and symbolism through this fantastic novel. Check out this Table of Contents for all the goodies that are included:

And now the fun part. This is going to be a QUICK giveaway because I want the winner to have this in hand by the end of the weekend for immediate use. If you're interested in this bundle, please enter my Rafflecopter giveaway below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 25, 2013

A Controversial Read: Crank

I know I told you last week that I'm making my way through a specific list of books being made into movies, but one of the strategic reading teachers at school handed me a book this week and told me I needed to read it. I had seen students read it before but never picked it up myself, but I devoured it in two afternoons.

The book is Crank by Ellen Hopkins. While it doesn't feel right to say that I "liked" this book, I did find it to be a powerful and honest portrayal of the downward spiral of drug addiction. On her website, Ellen Hopkins wrote that this book was loosely based on the the story of her eldest daughter, which makes it even more heart-breaking. The entire time I read the book, I was astounded at how quickly and completely Kristina's entire world was overtaken by the drug.

The SR teacher and I were debating for whom and if this book is appropriate for any of our students. The subject matter is definitely mature, but I also think it would be naive of us to think that none of our students will be faced with such temptations. I wasn't one a teen who experimented in much of anything at all, and a large part of that influence was knowing the negative impact of drugs and alcohol on members of my extended family. With that in mind, I feel like this book could be an effective "Don't even try drugs!" warning.

I would love to get my hands on the rest of this series and find out what happens to Kristina.

Finally, for those that are not familiar, here's the excerpt from Good reads:
In Crank, Ellen Hopkins chronicles the turbulent and often disturbing relationship between Kristina, a character based on her own daughter, and the "monster," the highly addictive drug crystal meth, or "crank." Kristina is introduced to the drug while visiting her largely absent and ne'er-do-well father. While under the influence of the monster, Kristina discovers her sexy alter-ego, Bree: "there is no perfect daughter, / no gifted high school junior, / no Kristina Georgia Snow. / There is only Bree." Bree will do all the things good girl Kristina won't, including attracting the attention of dangerous boys who can provide her with a steady flow of crank.

November 21, 2013

Thankful Thursday, Week 3

Happy Thursday, my bloggy friends!

If you didn't get a chance to link up last week, I hope you'll join us today for my Thankful Thursday linky. This party happens each Thursday in November with the intent to remind each other about all the things in our lives for which we should be grateful.

If you don't get a chance to link up today, don't worry because I'll keep this open all week!

Here are 5 things I'm thankful for this week...
  1. My fabulous sister, Amy, who is celebrating her 29th birthday this weekend. I love that we're now the same age and that next year, she will behold the title of eldest sibling. ;) In all seriousness, though, my sister is definitely one of my best friends. She's always a good time, looks out for my best interest, has a heart of gold, and makes me laugh until I nearly pee myself! We've gotten closer and closer over the years, and for this, I am truly thankful. I can't wait to celebrate with her this weekend!
  2. After Sunday's devastating tornadoes ripped through Illinois, I have to count my blessings that my friends and family were spared. Too many others were not as lucky.
  3. This is going to sound silly, but I'm thankful for dry shampoo. My baby-fine hair looks super greasy if I don't wash it every single day, but sometimes, I just don't have the time or want to put in the effort. I love that this little product can give me an extra day... particularly after I've taken the time to straighten it. 
  4. After a particularly tough morning with one of my SPED babies (which required her mother being called into the school to help get her off the floor where she was lying in a fetal position for 90 minutes), I was humbled during out 9th period art class. Students were asked to draw something they love, and she, without hesitation, drew a picture of me. She helps remind me that our tough moments are fleeting, but the relationships we build are everlasting.
  5. Finally, I'm grateful for fabulous co-workers, with whom I can commiserate and be reminded to laugh over such tough moments because they "get it." I have a great team!

November 19, 2013

Study Tips Freebie

Last week, my Tuesday Teacher Tip was to teach your students how to study. In that post, I shared an example of how I teach my students to study flashcards. This week's post is a follow-up, wherein I have been asked to share additional methods for teaching students how to study.

To that end, I have created a PowerPoint, suitable for presentation or as a handout for students, that offers 6 suggestions for how to study for an assessment. The PowerPoint is available as a freebie on my TPT store, so grab yourself a copy today!

November 18, 2013

Books to Read Before the Movies Debut

It's Monday, which means it's time for me to share what I'm currently reading.

Over the summer, I saw this list on Buzzfeed of books that are currently being made into movies. I made it a mission to read as many of them as possible because I have this rule about reading books before I allow myself to watch movies because the books are always infinitely better!

The irony is that I probably won't see any of the movies until they're on TV because I haven't been to a movie theater since last Christmas when my whole family went to see Jack Reacher. It's not that we don't like movies, but for some reason, it's just not how we spend our time these days.

Anyway, as I'm making my way through the list, I am currently reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Here's the summary from Book List:

*Starred Review* At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love. Both kids are preternaturally intelligent, and Hazel is fascinated with a novel about cancer called An Imperial Affliction. Most particularly, she longs to know what happened to its characters after an ambiguous ending. To find out, the enterprising Augustus makes it possible for them to travel to Amsterdam, where Imperial’s author, an expatriate American, lives. What happens when they meet him must be left to readers to discover. Suffice it to say, it is significant. Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. Grades 9-12. --Michael Cart

I am completely in love with the characters and the writing in this book. I've been listening to it on Audible and finding myself disappointed when I reach my destination and have to turn it off. I will definitely be watching this movie with the hope that it will be half as good as the book!

November 15, 2013

Five Things About My Friday

So many things happened today that I just had to share...

1. I received a sweet gift from a student today: a rainbow loom bracelet (are your students obsessed with these like mine?). This sweet gesture was even more thoughtful because he made it orange and blue for my beloved Bears. Also... this kid is a HUGE trouble-maker with a soft-spot for me. Winning!

2. I fell UP the stairs today at school. In front of my whole class. Don't worry, though, it was only mildly embarrassing.

3. We thought our sixth graders accidentally ruined one of the 7th grade roller coaster projects in the back of the room and spent about 10 minutes lecturing them about respecting other peoples' property. After, when I went to tell the 7th grade teacher who shares the classroom, she told us that it was already like that. Oops!  Kudos to my sweet students who felt super guilty and even tried to come up with plausible explanations of how they may have knocked it down.

4. We got to listen to one of the original Jock Jams CDs in PE this week while my group was working out in the fitness center (cardio machines and circuit training). I am not ashamed to admit that I was singing and dancing along to every song, starting with Coolio's "1,2,3,4..."My students looked at me like I was crazy, but I couldn't resist. Best PE class ever!! Anyone else with me on that?!

5. I asked student to help one of my SPED babies find the right page in our science book for our read aloud. Not only did he direct her to the correct place, but he used his finger to guide her through the reading for the ENTIRE class. And then he volunteered to put up her chair for her at the end of the day. Holy sweetness!

November 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday Week 2

If you didn't get a chance to link up last week, I hope you'll join us today for my Thankful Thursday linky. This party happens each Thursday in November with the intention to remind each other about all the things in our lives for which we should be grateful.

If you don't get a chance to link up today, don't worry because I'll keep this open all week!

Ok... here are 5 things I'm thankful for this week...

  1. A glorious 4-day weekend, which allowed me to spend TWO days at my bff's house helping her with her beautiful twins. I don't get to see any of them enough, and I love that I can hang out with them on my days off and give her mom a little break.
  2. Joel and I were house and dog-sitting this week for a friend, which felt like a little vacation for us. Her house is also really close to my school, so I was thankful for the short commute! 
  3. We went back to the city on Friday night to hang out with some friends from college, some of whom I have not seen in nearly a decade (When did I get so old?!). We had a yummy potluck dinner, reminisced about times past, and played some games. I don't know about you, but I love catching up with old friends!
  4. This week, I was reminded about another benefit of my current position: I don't have to attend conferences. I certainly can't complain when I get an extra day off school or when I have the luxury of going home twice while my co-workers are stuck in meetings until 8:30 PM. 
  5. On that same note, I love that I have time to read for pleasure during the school year. Now that I'm not grading papers or planning lessons, I can do whatever I want after school. For the first time in a long time, I've been reading books without having to analyze whether or not they'd be appropriate for a novel study. And I've been reading real adult books (I'm constantly harassed for only reading YA novels)... my mom should be so proud! This year, when a student asks me what I'm reading, I have to ask myself, "Is this appropriate for them?" haha!

November 13, 2013

My Favorite Novel Study

First, I just want to throw out a quick reminder to link up tomorrow Thankful Thursday. Tis the season to acknowledge all the things for which we are grateful, and I know my list is long. I was a little late asking people to participate last week, so I wanted to make sure I gave more notice for those who like to schedule their blogs in advance like I know many of you do! :)

I'm also very excited today that I get to link up with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday. I love this linky but often feel I don't currently have anything to contribute. This week, though, we're being asked to share our favorite novel study.

The novel I most look forward to teaching is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

To be completely honest, when I first announce this novel study, I get a lot of groans and whines from my students. It's no secret that a Dickens text is challenging for our students. BUT... by the end of the unit, my students LOVE it and are so proud of themselves for being able to comprehend the text.

Because the language is challenging (and, truthfully, because it sounds SO much better when read with an accent), we listen to this novel on audio. If you do this with your students, please, please, please do yourself a favor and listen to the version narrated by Jim Dale. It's the best!

Before we read, my students do some non-fiction reading on the following topics to help them gather the necessary background knowledge for understanding the text:
Scholastic usually sells these for $1!

  1. The life of Charles Dickens
  2. Life in Victorian England
  3. Victorian schools

As we read, my students look for two things:

  1. How Dickens uses characterization to show how Scrooge changes throughout the story. We focus on the WALTER methods of Characterization (Words, Actions, Looks, Thoughts, Emotions, Reactions of Others) and find text examples of each from Stave I, Stave II-IV, and Stave V. We annotate the text when we find evidence, and our best examples are recorded on our Faces of Scrooge packet.
  2. How and why Dickens includes symbolism in his writing. Specifically, we look at the symbols used for the four ghosts (don't forget Marley) and record them in a Ghost Brochure. Every single year that I teach this novel, students pick up on different symbols and can offer different explanations of said symbols. This is one of the things that makes teaching this novel so fun!
Of course, we also do some fun activities. We have a great time learning to dance as Scrooge relives it with the Ghost of Christmas Past at Fezziwig's party, and we play some of the games Scrooge watches at Fred's party with the Ghost of Christmas Present. 

After we read, we do a book/move comparison using the Patrick Stewart version (1999), which I find to be truest to the original text. I'm always proud when my students declare that the book is so much better than the movie. (Side note: When the Disney version came out, my students were outraged at the inaccuracies in the movie. It was hilarious!)

Then, students write an essay about Dickens' use of characterization/symbolism in his writing (they get to choose). Honestly, after all the annotating and activities above, these are some of the best essays I read all year. Even my lowest students do a great job with my essay organizer as a guide.  

With some classes, I also do a Socratic seminar over this text with students where they analyze the theme and applicability to their own lives. Again, this is a place where students can really wow me!

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out my A Christmas Carol Novel Study Guide on TPT!

November 12, 2013

Teacher Tip: Teach them How To Study

I've been a huge slacker when it comes to sharing Teacher Tips. I have no one to blame but myself. I think that I don't give myself enough credit sometimes, and I start thinking things like I'm a teaching assistant... what tips do I have to share? But

One of the things I hear over and over in the middle school is teachers complaining that their students just don't study. I hear you say that you provided them with interactive notes and maybe even a study guide. You told them to write "study for the test" in their assignment notebooks.

So why don't they do it?

Why do they still fail?

Because they don't know how to study.

My teaching tip today is that we, as teachers, have to remember that our students are not atomically going to know what we mean when we tell them to study. If we want them to do it, we need to teach them how!

What does it look like?

What does it sound like?

How long should it take?

How soon should they start?

This stuff seems like common sense to us (because we're all skilled at this whole education game), but it's not so for our students. I have learned that it's necessary to take instructional time to show my students how to study effectively.

Let me give you an example. I've already mentioned how I introduce my students to vocabulary using an Own-A-Word (OAW) method. As students gather definitions from the presentations, they record the information on index cards. We then use these index cards for review games (which I will disclose in a future post) and for studying.

Honestly, I was in my high school German class before I knew an effective way to study vocabulary. During each round of study, the goal is for the guesser to collect all the flashcards by correctly identifying the word or definition (depending on the round). If the answer is incorrect, the flashcard goes back on the bottom of the pile to try again. Once all cards are collected, the partners switch roles. Here's the sequence we use:

Round 1: Partner A says & shows the word, definition, and word again. Partner B repeats the definition.
Round 2: Partner A says and shows only the word. Partner B recalls the definition.
Round 3: Partner A says & shows the definition, word, and definition again. Partner B repeats the vocabulary word.
Round 4: Partner A says and shows the definition. Partner B recalls the vocabulary word.

After I teach students how to do each round, they can practice on their own during centers with a poster as a guide. It helps a lot of my students to hear and see the words & definitions multiple times, and they love to coach each other when they hear a wrong answer.

Just remember that just because they know how to study for one type of assessment, it doesn't mean that they know how to study for them all.

November 11, 2013

Monday Book Log

It's Monday! And I actually have a few books to blog about this week. Partially this is because we finally finished some read-alouds that we started back in August (This is the things I hate about read alouds as opposed to novel studies... they take forever to finish when you only read 10 minutes a day.) My new car gets credit for the other book, which I finally had time to finish listening to (I love my Audible app) during my commute now that I have an auxiliary jack in my car. It's the small things, people!

The first read-aloud that we finished was James Patterson's Middle School, The Worst Years of my Life.

My students really enjoyed this book. They couldn't wait to hear about Rafe's antics each day and they really enjoyed the illustrations in the book. When we first started the series, I didn't realize that it's a series, which is always a bonus in my eyes because it's a great way to get kids hooked on reading. Once they read the first book, students often want to continue a series to see how the characters and plots continue

This book will appeal to your reluctant readers, especially your rebellious ones, because they will enjoy reading about how Rafe breaks so many rules, earning "points" for each encounter. This game is like his Middle School survival guide, but it also threatens to be the very thing that makes his life miserable. I highly recommend this book for your classroom library!

The second read-aloud we finished was Scorpions by Walter Dean-Meyers, who happens to be one of my favorite young adult authors. I love, love, love, the way he tackles issue like poverty, drugs, violence, and gangs. He is an author I've been able to turn to many times to invest my reluctant readers in a book. His stories are sadly relatable for too many kids, but I know my students appreciate being able to read about their reality.

When Jamal's older brother, Randy, gets locked up for murder, the pressure is on him to join (and become leader of) his gang, the Scorpions. Jamal knows that joining the gang will give him the means to get (although illegally) his brother out of jail, but he's apprehensive to take on this world of crime because he's seen the consequences first-hand.

I can honestly say that this is one of those read-alouds that will hook your whole class. Our most disruptive student, who does nothing in any of his classes, was fully engrossed in this story. He couldn't wait to provide the summary of yesterday's reading each day... I'd call that success!

The last book I finished this week was Divergent by Veronica Roth. This series is being touted as the new Hunger Games, which I loved beyond words (well... the first two books anyway). Please don't hate me for saying this out loud, but I didn't really love Divergent like I expected.

Part of the problem for me, I will admit, was that I listened to this book and, therefore, had a hard time keeping track of the different factions. Some were easier to remember than others, but I always found myself going through a mental list, whenever they mentioned a faction, trying to figure out which qualities that group possessed. I'm a visual learner, so I know this would have been easier for me if I had the book handy because I'm told it included a guide.

I think I was around chapter 27 before this book got good for me. Until that time, I was mostly annoyed with the writing (and her over-use of similes) and unattached to the characters. Things got better for me once the relationship was established, which helped my investment, but overall, I'd say this book was just okay. I'm not convinced I'll even try the rest of the series. Please don't throw stones!

November 7, 2013

Thankful Thursday Week 1

Yikes! I meant to get this posted earlier, but the afternoon escaped me.

Still, I would like to extend an invitation for you to link up for my Thankful Thursday linky. I plan to do this for each Thursday in November so we can remind each other about all the things in our lives for which we should be grateful. 

If you don't get a chance to link up tonight, don't worry because I'll keep this open all week!

Ok... here are five things I'm thankful for this week...
That turkey is my very first piece of clipart!
  1. My sweet bloggy friend, Erin at I'm Lovin Lit, who surprised me with two Seller Kits to encourage me in my TPT endeavors. (I used her chevron background and bunting to make this linky image. Cute, huh?) Erin has been a great friend, mentor, inspiration, coach, and cheerleader to me since day one. 
  2. My friend (since grad school) and co-worker, Caitlin, bought and brought me a chai tea latte from Starbucks today during first period. It was a totally unnecessary but appreciated just-because gift. 
  3. As I was walking a student to her bus this afternoon, we were discussing our plans for this 4-day weekend when she exclaimed, "I'm sure gonna miss you!" and gave me a hug. 
  4. I reconnected with a former student this week from my first year teaching. It was fun to reminisce about our class, and I loved hearing about all the promising adventures in her life!
  5. I'm thankful for my parents and Joel for supporting me in my decision to be a teaching assistant this year. I literally wouldn't be able to do this without them. 

November 6, 2013

The Importance of TPT Feedback

When I first started my TPT store, I was literally just giving everything away. In real life, I've always been happy to give any of my lessons to co-workers and friends. This comes from my mentality that none of us get where we are alone. I was gifted with a plethora of teaching resources from my teammates during student teaching and in my first year teaching.

I almost never take something at teach it verbatim. No, that would be the easy way. Instead, I always have to tweak things to make them work for me. And honestly, that's how a lot of my products were created. 

And I will admit freely that I grab images from all sorts of places to use as clipart since I don't know how to make my own (and use pop culture references to relate to my students). This isn't a problem in my own classroom, but unfortunately, this means I can't share a lot of my work on TPT. At least not until I learn how to make my own images.

Recently, I analyzed my product statistics and saw that I had some products with many downloads and great feedback. In an effort to actually start generating some money on my site (so I can buy other peoples' products), I decided to start selling some of these items for a couple bucks.

I can't tell you how excited I was when my first few sales started to trickle in!

And then this weekend, I was notified that a buyer had left me feedback on one of my most-downloaded items (when it was free). At first, I will admit, I was defensive when the buyer gave me a less-than-stellar review.

But then I started thinking about her feedback. And even though this buyer clearly didn't understand my original intention, she was right. There were things I could change to make my product better. So, first thing this morning, that's what I did.

So, anyone who has downloaded my protagonist/antagonist/foil activity, there are now pretty task cards included with the set to use for whole-group, small group, and scoot activities I know you all love so much! Make sure you download the newest version!!

I would advise any seller on TPT to truly consider the feedback of your buyers. You many not always agree with everything they say (in this case, I didn't), but it also may help you find ways to reach a broader audience.

In addition, I want to encourage buyers to leave constructive feedback for our sellers. It doesn't always have to be done in a public manner (especially in a way that negatively impacts their rating), but I think I speak for many when I say that we genuinely want to create products that will help other teachers.

Help us help you!

November 5, 2013

Tried it Tuesday - Pumpkin Soup

In the spirit of togetherness, our social committee at school organizes what we call "Grazing Day" about once a month. Everyone signs up to bring something related to the theme, which changes each month. It's the one day each month you can pretty much guarantee everyone will eat in the lounge, which really promotes a sense of belonging for our staff.

For October, our theme was Soup & Chili, and it was the perfect lunch on a cool, autumn day. Crock pots lined the back wall of our staff lounge, and the heavenly aromas wafted through the hallways. Sixth grade has latest lunch period, and I'm telling you it felt like torture to wait all day... but it was so worth it!!

My favorite soup was a pumpkin-apple soup, which I made on Sunday for my family to test their reactions. We've decided to add it to our Thanksgiving menu, and I'm thrilled to have another yummy pumpkin recipe to add to my repertoire!

The recipe comes from the October 2013 Food Network Magazine, which featured 10 Things to Make with Canned Pumpkin:

1. Simmer one 15-ounce can of pumpkin, 2 cups of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of cream, and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, whisking for about 5 minutes.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
3. Cook 1 cubed apple (I did about 3) in butter until soft. 
4. Top the soup with apple and crumbled cooked bacon (optional).

I'm not a huge bacon fan (I know... I know... don't shoot me!), so I eat this without, and it is delicious! I also went ahead a dumped the apples right in the soup and they held up nicely. I used some green and yellow apples we got from a friend's tree, which added some extra sweetness. I think the red apples, which were used in the original recipe, almost tasted like potatoes in the soup. 

The soup will be a creamy texture with just the perfect ratio of sweet and savory. I served it with some fresh multigrain bread from the bakery, which was delicious.  

November 3, 2013

Currently November

Okay, you know it's been a crazy week when you completely forget that it's a new month, which means a new Currently link up with Farley. Oops!! I'm pretty sure this is the latest I've ever been to the party!

My pumpkin cake squares are ALWAYS a hit. I swear they don't last two full days in my house. And stay tuned for another yummy recipe I've got scheduled to debut on Tuesday!

My New Baby

I can't believe it's been more than a week since I last posted... and I'm even more shocked to admit that it's been a couple days since I've even read any of your lovely posts. This week has just been crazy, but have no fear... I'm back in action!

I promise I wasn't just anticipating off-the-wall behavior from my sixth graders when I took Halloween off from work. I came down with a cold Wednesday evening that hit me like a ton of bricks. I never take sick days but I knew I would be miserable when I woke up Thursday morning unable to swallow. I'm pleased to report that after an entire day sleeping in bed (Again... very unlike me. I slept until 3:08 waking only once to sip on some soup and hot tea.), my throat felt much better. Now, if I could just turn off the faucet in my sinuses (you should see my poor, raw nose) and accompanying cough that will likely linger for a few weeks. :-/

As if being sick on a holiday doesn't add enough excitement to a week, I also couldn't leave work on Wednesday because my battery was dead. A co-worker graciously offered to jump it for me to no avail (leaving me dreading a more expensive prognosis), but Joel managed to jump it with his truck. Thankfully, the battery was under warranty, so we were able to get it replaced right away. Unfortunately, this is a sign that there are some bigger, undetected problems that need fixing, and I just can't justify putting more money into that car.

So... after a decade of driving my Civic, I am very excited to be driving this beauty!

My new Jeep Compass!

I had never heard of a Compass before yesterday, but Joel and I both fell in love with it when we saw it at the dealership. I knew I wanted a small SUV, and this vehicle offered the best package (heated, leather seats; touch screen dashboard; bluetooth technology; etc.) for the price. She's a great fit for me!