Thursday, July 31, 2014

Field Notes: July 2014

Inspired by a Hannah Brencher post, we want these field notes to be a place where we can share our favorite awesome posts, music, videos, ideas, sites, and general miscellany that we've come across during the month.

Always thought that crowns braids were too difficult for me to try, but I can actually do this crown braid bun. Yay for youtube hair tutorials!

While we're on youtube...I thought I was over these videos, but then I saw the #HappyMS version of Pharrell's "Happy."

I've made this baked macaroni and cheese so many times this summer.

Finally watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Light-hearted, classic movie.

For a newer movie, try The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You'll immediately be inspired to go out and do something incredible as soon as it finishes.

Have you heard of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls? It's definitely a movement worth getting behind.

Here's a thoughtful article about How to Encourage Without Comparing.

Learning a new language is fun, but it's hard to remember to practice consistently. I've been using duolingo to brush up on French.
My laptop's desktop is now pretty and function thanks to this desktop organizer. For those who always have to be organized.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Journaling Tips

Jennifer suggested I do a post on writing letters, but since I've written about letters before (this post a while ago), I thought I'd post about keeping a journal instead.

I love the idea of keeping thoughts, lists, memories, reflections, and inspiration in a journal, but my journal writing has always been sporadic. I'd write for a couple days only to forget to write again for months. However, I've finally managed to write consistently for the past year. Here are some tips for those of you who are interested in keeping a journal, too.
First, here's what your journal doesn't have to be. 
  • Boring
  • Perfect
  • Time consuming
 If you're worried about any of these problems, you shouldn't be. Your journal just needs to work for you. It may or may not look like mine or anyone else's.

Things to Consider Before Starting
  • What materials do you want to use? Are you a paper and pen/pencil writer? Or do you prefer a computer format? I personally like to use an unlined sketchbook and sharpie pens. My writing is a complete mess on the page, but no one sees it except for me. If you're artistic (unlike me), you can choose from a variety of mediums.
  •  When do you want to journal? First thing in the morning? Right before bed? During lunch? Making time to journal a part of your routine means you're more likely to remember to do it.
  • What do you want to include in your journal? Simply writing "I did this. Then, I did this." can be boring. While I do like to write about my day, I've also been using a set of prompts to keep things interesting. I look forward to writing about something new each day. Another idea is to choose a closing for each entry - like listing three good things about your day. It's your journal, so you can put anything - travel lists, quotes, even countdowns - in there.
Keeping a journal is a great way to get your thoughts out of your head, to relax, and to think.

If you've never kept a journal before,
start simple. Then, experiment.

If you keep a journal, 
are there any tips you'd like to share in the comments?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Brie and Fig Jam Toast

Sometimes you need a savory, sweet, and simple snack. Here's one of my favorites.

You will need:

A slice of your favorite whole grain bread
Fig and Orange Spread
Brie (room temperature)

First, toast your bread. While it's in the toaster, cut the rind off your brie. I use about two cuts of brie, but you can use as little or as much as you like.

Once the bread is toasted, spread a little fig jam on the bread. Because figs are so sweet I don't recommend spreading the jam in a thick layer. Next, place your brie on the bread. And just like that you're finished and you have yourself a satisfying snack! Enjoy!

Tell us what you think. What are your favorite toast combinations?

Book Review: Zero Waste Home

A few years ago, through the media I heard about a family who threw away only a quart of garbage per year. I had forgotten all about the story until I saw Bea Johnson's Zero Waste Home at the bookstore. I thought I might find a few tips on how to live a more environmentally friendly or green lifestyle, but the book turned out to be even better than I had expected.

Johnson reminds readers that having stuff does not equal happiness. She stresses that simplicity creates a "fuller and more meaningful life." She refutes the notion that the zero waste lifestyle is expensive by stating that her family spent 40% less on annual household costs during the first year that they made changes. In addition to the personal benefits of reducing consumption and waste, Johnson points out that the actions each person takes every day affect the world. In places like the United States, we may not see firsthand the effect that our junk has, but that doesn't mean someone else isn't having to deal with the problems.

I recommend this book specifically for the following reasons:
  • Johnson focuses on the 5 Rs - Refusing, Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Rotting (composting) as a way to prevent waste from reaching landfills.
  • She gives specific examples of changes to make rather than general tips. For example, instead of simply telling readers to use reusable bags at the grocery store, Johnson describes specifically what she takes and how she limits waste when grocery shopping.
  • The resources mentioned throughout the book and at the end are more than enough for anyone who is interested in finding ways to reduce their impact on the environment. Instead of spending hours looking for these resources, you can find them in one place.
  • Johnson categorizes areas and specific items that most people can eliminate from their lives. While individual needs may differ, her suggestions help the readers think about what they truly need rather than racing to fill their homes with stuff just because everyone else has it.
I'd recommend this book for anyone who is interested in making a change to a simpler lifestyle. While you may not be able to throw away only a quart of garbage per year, even smaller changes can be beneficial.  There are plenty of ideas for simple changes that save money, reduce stress, and improve your health. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Souvenir Coaster DIY

For those of you who missed my DIY guest post at Sweet Pea Sylvia's a while back, I'll be sharing it with you today. Here's how to make souvenir coasters out of all those postcards you buy while traveling.

Postcard Coaster Finished Text

Postcard Coaster Supplies
For supplies you'll need: Modpodge, postcards, old coasters, a pencil, a paintbrush, scissors and a clear enamel spray (not pictured)

Postcard Coaster Trace
Step One: Trace the outline of your coasters on the front of the postcard.

Postcard Coaster Cut
Step Two: Cut the postcard along the lines you traced.

Postcard Coaster First Coat
Step Three: Apply a layer of modpodge directly on the coaster.  Then place the postcard cut-out over the coaster.

Postcard Coaster Second Coat
Step Four:  Apply a topcoat of modpodge over the coaster.  Don't worry, it will dry clear.

Postcard Coaster Dry
Step Five:  Allow the coasters to dry, and then, seal with a clear enamel topcoat.  Once dry, your coasters are ready to use.

Monday, June 23, 2014

5 Gift Ideas for New Teachers

While it might be the middle of the summer, chances are you probably know some recent college graduates (or others) who are going to be new teachers in the fall. Mixed in with relaxing and enjoying the summer, these new teachers are busy getting ready for their classes. Teaching is challenging, but the first year is especially challenging because there are so many things happening at once.

I finished my first year of teaching a few weeks ago, and I've put together a list of suggestions for gift ideas for new teachers based my experience. If you are looking for a gift to give to a friend who's a first year teacher, keep reading.

1. Pencils/Pens - Teachers can never have enough pencils and pens. These things disappear like crazy. Every teacher needs a back up stash of pencils for students. As far as pens go, it's probably best not to buy fancy pens for a teacher because pens walk off too often. These Paper Mate pens are my favorite inexpensive pens. Another great idea is making DIY flower pens. They're pretty, but also practical because the teacher can easily see where all the borrowed pens are.

2. Personalized Clipboard - Clipboards are perfect for taking notes during meetings. Some days last year, it seemed like I spent more time in meetings than anything else. Meeting with departments, grade-level teams, administration, parents, textbook suppliers, and so on. I always kept a clipboard so that I had paper to write on without having to search. There are lots of DIY clipboards like this teacher's clipboard from A Diamond in the Stuff. You can search pinterest for more ideas or take a look at etsy if you're not so crafty.

3. Stamp Set - A challenge that teachers face is finding a way to provide positive feedback on work. In younger grades, stickers are a fun way to do this, but as the kids gets older, they don't like to admit that they like things like stickers (even though they still do). When I saw these stamps from the etsy shop fishcakesohboy, I realized that they would be perfect. Stamps with monsters that say "super duper!" are fun, but seem less childish to those middle schoolers who are just too cool for everything. And for English teachers, a monster throwing its hands in the air and saying "proofread" explains the way most English teachers feel all the time. I haven't gotten any of these for myself yet, but I will buy several before the summer ends.

4. Freezable Lunch Bag - I didn't know that these existed until the beginning of the summer, but I wish that I had had one last year. Most teachers I know prefer to bring their lunch with them, so most of us have lunch bags. Because there were so many lunch bags, there wasn't always room in the fridge in the teachers' lounge. Other days, I didn't have time to grab my food before lunch. Having a freezable lunch bag that I could have had in my room would have been a better solution. Jennifer got this freezable lunch bagfor herself. A similar lunch bag would make a great gift that a new teacher could use for years.

5. Books - Of course, you know that books are an important part of any classroom. For new teachers who haven't had years to build their classroom libraries, getting books can be pricy and time consuming. If you know the subject and grade-level for new teachers, you can gift a book to help get them started. Some of my favorites are Library Lion for an elementary librarian, The Lorax for science, some of The Magic School Bus Books for science, A Wrinkle in Time for Language Arts/English, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!for elementary in general. I'd love to hear more suggestions about books in the comments!

All of these gifts would be helpful for a teacher who's just getting started, and more experienced teachers would always appreciate these as well. Feel free to share suggestions in the comments especially if you are a teacher yourself. I'd love to know what makes teaching just a little bit easier for you.

Hope that this has helped for all of you searching for a gift for a teacher!

Friday, January 24, 2014

DIY Doctor Who Sweatshirt

The DIY we're sharing with you today will probably only make sense if you're a Doctor Who fan or if you know someone who is.  If you're not familiar with Doctor Who, it's easiest just to say that it's a sci-fi show on BBC.  Actually describing the show would be almost impossible.

Although our love of the show isn't as full-fledged as some (we're still behind on the season and have yet to see the 50th anniversary special), we catch it whenever we can.

This DIY sweatshirt is great as a subtle, fun piece for Doctor Who fans.  It's a cute sweatshirt that's easy to make and involves little time.  This DIY is almost too simple to need instructions.

For this DIY, you'll need:
- a sweatshirt (we used a Hanes sweatshirt)
- iron-on letters
- two heart patches

Step One:  Following the instructions on the iron-on letters, remove your letters from the package and arrange on the sweatshirt.  Make sure to leave space for the two hearts.  Once you are satisfied with the placement, follow the instructions with your iron-on letters to adhere them to the sweatshirt.

Step Two:  Decide how you would like to attach the two hearts to the sweatshirt.  You'll either want to sew the hearts on or iron them on depending on what type of patch you are using.

Step Three:  Enjoy your sweatshirt while catching up on the 50th Anniversary episode.

This sweatshirt would also make a great gift for someone who likes Doctor Who.


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