Sunday, October 12, 2014

Favorite Fall Recipes

Most of the leaves have fallen and the air is starting to turn crisp here in Maine! Autumn is arguably my favorite time of year. Between the beautiful colors, cozy warm sweaters, and pumpkin flavored goodies, it really cannot be beat! And, usually there's no snow to shovel, which is always a plus!
I have two 'go to' dishes that I serve or bring to parties. They are ALWAYS crowd-pleasers and are SO SIMPLE to make! I whipped up two dishes to share at my last get-together...
The pumpkin dip is a recipe that my friend Teal shared with me...it was a hit at her party and so I made it for mine. It did not disappoint! Everyone loved it and, again, it's SO simple to make. It's also pretty healthy considering it's a sweet dip!


 Pumpkin Dip Recipe:
-1 15oz can of pureed pumpkin
-1 box of vanilla flavored instant pudding
-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-1 8 oz. tub of whipped topping
-1 box of ginger snaps

Directions:
-Mix the pumpkin, packet of instant pudding, and pumpkin pie spice together with a whisk until combined. Stir in the thawed tub of whipped topping then refrigerate for one hour before serving. Use the ginger snaps to pair with the dip!

Optional:
I hollowed out a small pumpkin (again, thanks to my friend Teal for the idea) in which to serve the dip! Fun and festive...and the dip is sooooo good paired with the ginger snaps!



The second recipe has become my staple for any Fall/holiday party. I've served it at my family's Christmas gathering the past few years (as well as for Fall game nights) and people CANNOT get enough of my mulled cider! It's also very easy to make and tastes so sweet and spicy! The original recipe can be found here, although I've slightly adapted it as follows...

Spiced Mulled Cider Recipe
-1 gallon of real apple cider
-3 cinnamon sticks
-1 teaspoon whole cloves
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (optional)

Directions:
-Wrap the cinnamon sticks and cloves in cheese cloth and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add the brown sugar.

-Pour the apple cider into the slow cooker (you probably won't be able to fit the whole gallon so just fit as much in as you can) and stir to dissolve the brown sugar.

-Heat the mixture on high until it bubbles, then turn the heat down to warm. This process usually takes a couple hours, so make sure you are preparing in advance!

-Serve with or without some spiced rum! I leave the rum next to the slow cooker and let people add it to their individual mugs as they please!


I'm telling you...people CANNOT get enough of the mulled cider or the pumpkin dip! 
Serve them at your next party and make your people happy! :)


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Classroom Tour: Decorations & Organization

I'm FINALLY posting a tour of my classroom! I actually snapped these pictures (with my iPhone) back in August when I was putting together my classroom. But, then school started and, well, time just slipped away! This is my blank slate...all the furniture was out in the hall so the floors could be waxed! Let's start to the right of the door and work our way around the room...


Next to the door I have a little shelf with supplies for the students to use (that shelf was free on the side of the road and I gave it a little makeover). I also have a bulletin board with some personal pictures, at which the students love to look!

To the left of the supply shelf I have a little table on which is my 'absent work' bin. Under the table are the recycling & returnable bottle bins. On the wall is my homemade 'Awesome' poster. You can see a tutorial for a similar sign, here!


This room has a serious lack of bulletin boards so I decided that I could use some Command strips to secure three inexpensive poster frames (picked up at WalMart) to the wall. This way I can easily swap out displays throughout the year in or on the poster frames.

 
 On the front wall I have a white board and one of two small bulletin boards...


I used my Silhouette Portrait cutting machine to cut out the letters for my bulletin boards and used inexpensive blue fabric from WalMart instead of paper for the background. I find that fabric is more durable than paper and is often far less expensive! The 'Work Hard' poster can be found here!


I made the pennant flags banner by cutting triangles out of fabric and sewing a simple straight stitch to string them together...


 In front I also keep my little personalized yard sale stool...

In the corner near the window is my desk area...I brought a shelf from home for storage and added a bulletin board, secured to the wall with more Command strips and covered in wrapping paper! I designed that poster and had it printed at Staples on foam board for $10!



 There is room for a little sitting area in front of my desk and the window so I added a comfy chair from Ikea (I also found a small inexpensive lime green rug from WalMart and added it to this area but didn't take a picture). I often stay late at school grading papers and wanted a comfy chair...as you can imagine, this chair is also very popular with my students!


In the other back corner of the room is a little table and library area. I bought the table for $1 at Goodwill and painted it before bringing it to school. The paper lanterns are from Christmas Tree Shops. They are a fun addition to this area...for some reason the boys LOVE to spin the lowest lantern!

I used painters tape to add a jumbo poster...damage free and easily removed! I ran out of tape part way through and am embarrassed to report that, four weeks later, the poster still looks like this! Ha!

 I bought the bookshelf from Target and it was originally in my living room. But, this room also suffers from a serious lack of shelving so I brought it to school to hold my collection of social studies related books and resources.

On the back wall I have another white board...on the top I put a fancier version of a fabric banner...this one has bias tape on top and double-sided pennants! 

 

I had a really large blank space on this wall so I used a $3 vinyl tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops and secured it to the wall with painters tape (over which I taped bulletin board trim). I think I'll turn it into an 'AWESOME' wall where the kids can put things that are...well...awesome!
Classroom decoration ideas

We've come full circle around the room! I think the key to making the room look cohesive is to pick a few main colors to work with. In my room, lime green, hot pink, and teal blue are the colors of choice! Outside of my classroom I went a little off kilter with the colors by adding this homemade 'Hello Sunshine' sign...


I wanted people to walk by my room and be greeted with a little bit of happiness! Subsequently, one of my fellow teachers stops and yells 'Hello Sunshine' every time he passes my room! It's pretty awesome!  So, there you have it, my home away from home! To follow along with my daily shenanigans, come visit me on Instagram!

Classroom decor ideas






Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Dollar Store Fall Decorations

It's Thursday so I'm 'throwing it back' to a popular past post! This post has been 'pinned' on Pinterest nearly 20,000 times! Can you believe it?! Check back next Thursday for another peek into 'The Best of Crafty Teacher Lady'! Follow along with my daily life via Instagram! I'd love to hear from you!

I'm so excited to decorate for fall! Although on a pretty tight budget, I've found creative and inexpensive ways to add touches of fall around my house, mainly by shopping at the Dollar Store, WalMart, and other bargain outlets.



Two projects I'd like to share are a candy corn votive display and a moss candle centerpiece, both have elements found at the dollar store!

Candy Corn Votive Display
Each of the three glass candle holders are from the Dollar Store as are the votive candles and the candy corn!  Simply fill each glass half way with candy, then place the votives on top. I chose to place all three glasses in a long dish, then filled the bottom with candy corn.

Moss Candle Centerpiece
 I placed a large 'apple cider' scented candle from WalMart in the center of a glass cake stand.  Around the candle I placed moss from the Dollar Store as well as pumpkins, berries, leaves, and pine cones found at Christmas Tree Shops (one bag full for $4.99).  I did find bags of faux leaves at the Dollar Store, too! In the pictures above, you can also see the pretty table runner found at Marshall's for $10!  Next up, making a wreath for the front door...stay tuned!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

DIY Closet Shelf Makeover

My office closet was an OUT OF CONTROL mess...


When my house was built three years ago I asked the contractor NOT to build shelves because I thought maybe I'd try one of those 'closets turned desk' nooks I've seen all over Pinterest as the closet is pretty deep! Alas, that never happened and the mess just grew and grew for lack of proper shelving. One of my goals on summer vacation was to fix this problem and DIY some shelves!

Building closet shelves

I loosely followed a tutorial from House of Hepworths to figure out how to start, then went to Home Depot with my measurements and purchased two sheets of partical board. A nice gentlemen who works at HD made all the cuts for me (even the small 'bracket' pieces on which the shelves are set). I then lugged all the boards home to my basement where they received two coats of white semi-gloss paint. Because these shelves are in a closet, I don't mind the sort of 'rough' edges and look of the partical board. If I wanted a more polished look I would have chosen pine. But, the semi-gloss paint did help 'fancy' them up a bit!


To install the support pieces, I borrowed my friend's nail gun and marked all my measurements on the wall, being sure to nail into the studs wherever possible.  I have to say, it felt incredibly empowering using that gun and building these shelves ALL BY MYSELF (all whilst wearing a pink running skirt)!! Once the supports were in place, I placed the shelves on top and stood back to admire my handiwork...


I've since filled the shelves with all of my craft supplies, printer, and other office-related items! It's so nice to be able to walk into the closet and clearly see where everything is! Plus, it gives me a sense of accomplishment!  More pictures of my entire office space can be found here!

Tell me, what projects have you completed that have made you proud of yourself??

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Classroom Organization: Lesson Planning for High School

After having over 24,000 views on my first post about classroom organization strategies I've decided to write follow up posts about some other strategies I use to keep my busy high school classroom organized! I've just entered into my 11th year as a high school social studies teacher and have found that lesson planning can be complicated due to the nature of teaching multiple sections of various courses. Hopefully I can shed some light on how I keep my lessons straight for each class!

High School lesson planning ideas

Every high school has a different bell schedule and set up for when and how often teachers see students in any given week. Last year my school went to a hybrid schedule of sorts where we have 8 blocks total, but only see 6 of the 8 blocks in any given day for 54 minute classes, except on Wednesdays where we see only four classes for 80 minutes (and the Wednesdays rotate 'Odd' classes on one Wednesday, then 'Even' classes on the next). Confused yet??

Lesson planning with this sort of schedule can be very complicated, particularly when trying to keep multiple sections of the same course relatively aligned. This semester I teach two sections of Honors Senior Personal Finance & Citizenship and three sections of Academic Sophomore Modern World History (for a total of 5 sections). I plan my daily lessons in two week blocks and always ensure that all sections of one course are at the same place in terms of lessons by the end of week two (sometimes I have to build in an extra lesson or activity with one section to have this work out).


Because a standard planner wouldn't work, I took our bell schedule and created an individualized version in Word, graying out my prep and duty periods so that I can easily visualize which blocks need lessons. I put the date at the top of each day and whether it's Week #1 or Week #2 in my two-week lesson plan scheme.  Often times I'm teaching two or three different lessons on the same day because sections of the same course are at different places (all due to our lovely complicated schedule) so mapping things out on paper helps me keep things in order.


On my lesson planner sheets I write only the lesson number and a brief note indicating the topic of the lesson. Then, I use the Stickies app on my laptop to write out the more specific details of my lesson plans for each day. I find having my lessons right there on my computer desktop only a click away is very convenient and allows me to make notes and changes very easily. I will often add notes to myself about what to change for next year using italicized fonts on the same Sticky. At the end of every unit, I copy and paste the information in the Stickies to a Word document and save it so I can open it again next year and have a running list of my exact lesson plans.

Classroom Organization lesson planning

The lesson plans for each unit, as well as all digital copies, links, and resources for the unit, are kept in a digital folder on my desktop. Then the unit folders are 'nested' into a larger course folder. Everything is easily accessed and at my finger tips! I've used the 'Sticky' app for keeping track of daily lessons for the better part of 8 years (ever since being provided with school-issued MacBooks) and it has proved very convenient and easily updated! My next post in the classroom organization series will addressed an issue that plagues every secondary teacher's classroom...ATTENDANCE!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Back to School Thrift Shopping

I spent today doing some 'back to school' shopping with a friend, hitting up Goodwill and a high-end second-hand store. I love looking through the racks at Goodwill, which does take some patience, but usually produces at least one or two steals in the form of high-end brands for less. It was my first time at Forget Me Nots, a local second-hand store.  I found some awesome deals at both places!

Steal #1: Cole Haan Sandals
These sandals retail for $100+ and I found them at Goodwill for $29!! I love the patent leather and pop of color! The warm weather we've been having lately will allow me to wear them a bit before it gets too cold!

Steal #2: Abercromie & Fitch Shirt
I don't normally shop at Abercrombie & Fitch as I find them to be overpriced and they cater to a younger crowd, but I really liked the colors of this plaid as well as the fun floral detail on the underside of the cuff. It was $9.99 at Goodwill so I bought it! It'll be fun to layer with some colorful fall sweaters.

Steal #3: LL Bean Tank
I saw this tank at the LL Bean retail store for $35 dollars but I was able to pick it up at Goodwill for $4.99! I love the pattern and can layer it with a cardi for work or pair it with shorts during the summer!

Steal #4: J. Crew Skirt
I LOOOOVE the mod pattern and colors in this skirt!! At $24.99 it wasn't the least expensive skirt but I would expect to pay $65+ for it at a retail J.Crew store. I found it at Forget-Me-Nots, an upscale second-hand store. It was far too cute to pass up!

Steal #5: Old Navy Dress
This dress was $12 at the second-hand store! The colorful pattern and fun ruffle detail are fun and flattering! The hot pink Cole Haan sandals just happen to match, too! 

BONUS STEAL: WalMart Accessories
Have you checked out the jewelry section at WalMart lately? They have so many cute necklaces, most of which are only $5-$10!! Such fun statement pieces for a steal!  

What awesome deals have you found lately??


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What I Wore Wednesday: Nautical Preppy Style

School is back in full swing which means playing lots of dress up! I've been posting lots of outfit ideas as well as back-to-school projects and home decor ideas on my Instagram feed! I tend to post there more often then creating new blog posts so join me there between posts!

Gone is my summer wardrobe of tanks and shorts and back are dresses, cardigans, and lots of fun jewelry! I'm linking up today's outfit with Lindsay over at The Pleated Poppy! It's one of my favorites because it combines navy with a pop of glittery gold...
nautical preppy style
teacher style outfits

The top (and underlying tank) is from Forever 21...it's such a pretty navy color with a delicate lacy detail!


The white skinny jeans are from GAP...I'm short and pretty curvy so it's difficult to find skinny jeans that fit just right. These have just enough stretch and are a thick material so they aren't see-through!


The gold braided wedges are from Sperry (I picked them up on sale at the outlet last summer but just saw them again recently) and the watch is from Francesca's.


I picked up the fun hammered gold chain at Forever 21 as well! They have such inexpensive, albeit cheap, jewelry pieces! Fun to spice up my wardrobe without breaking the bank! I'm off to school! We started last week but this is really the first week where I'm actually teaching lessons! Stressful but fun to be back with my kiddos!