July Goals

I have decided to create monthly goals for myself. I feel that sharing my goals on my blog will hold me accountable for reaching them. I will post the results at the end of each month.

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1. Blog More
I love blogging, and I really want to continue writing more posts weekly. 

2. Use my Erin Condren Life Planner Daily
Clint splurged and bought me a EC Life Planner as an early birthday present. I want to use it to keep track of everything. 

3. Make something for myself
I’m constantly making things for other people or my classroom. However, I want to find something to make just for me. 

4. Celebrate Independence Day
We do not have plans just yet, but I’m sure we will find something to do.

5. Enjoy my 25th Birthday 
My birthday is on a Saturday this year, and I’m looking forward to spending the whole day with my husband, family, and friends.

6. Try a new recipe
I’m tired of eating the same meals over and over. I’m ready to whip up something new in the kitchen.

7. Go on a date with my husband 
Clint and I spend a lot of time together, but I want to go on a real date. I want to do something that we don’t typically do on a weekend. The weekly trip to the grocery store is not a date, so it doesn’t count.

8. Finish watching a Netflix TV series
I still have to enjoy and relax the last few week of summer, so I thought this might be an easy goal to accomplish.

9. Read a book
I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I miss getting lost in a book. I want to find the time to read a good book. Any recommendations?

10. Have a successful pre-planning and open house
It’s crazy to think that I return to work the last week of July. However, I am very excited to get back to doing what I love.

Wish me luck!
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10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

Last summer, I was over the moon excited about starting my first {official} year of teaching. I had a million ideas running through my head, but I had no idea where to start. I knew I was going to be teaching third grade, so I did have an idea of what types of materials to start preparing. I did a few things before pre-planning, and I felt good about what I accomplished. Although, there was so much more I could have done. Here are my…

10 Tips to Prepare for Your First Year Teaching

1. Print your standards. 
I printed all of my grade level standards and read through them. After reading the standards, I had a better idea of what I was expected to teach.

2. Visit your classroom.
I highly recommend visiting your classroom before pre-planning. However, you will need to check with your principal first! I was very fortunate to get to start working in my classroom two weeks before pre-planning. Your principal may not let you begin “working” in your room, but he or she might let you peek at it. Visiting your classroom will give you an idea of what materials you do or do not have. I highly recommend taking pictures too!

3. Meet your grade level or department. 
I met with two of my team members for lunch last summer. It was great! They were able to answer most of my questions, and it gave us the opportunity to start a lifelong friendship. We also had a grade level meeting with our whole team before pre-planning started. It was nice to know all of my team members before pre-planning.

4. Decide on a room theme.
You don’t have to have a room theme, but it makes it easier when you start looking for decorations. I had a Hollywood themed classroom this year. I’m undecided if I want to use it again or switch it up.

5. Start printing wall and bulletin board decor.
I highly recommend printing and preparing your classroom decorations as soon as possible. Most classrooms have an alphabet, so I decided to print it first. Since I teach third grade, the students begin learning how to write in cursive. I decided to go with a cursive alphabet that had pictures. My school participates in the Daily 5/Cafe reading model, so I prepared my Daily 5 signs and Cafe Menu board.

6. Create your behavior management system.
There are so many different behavior management systems. I highly recommend speaking with your grade level to see what they are currently using.

7. Start downloading free resources from TeachersPayTeachers.
One of my favorite things to do is browse through the third grade materials on TpT. I always start looking at the FREE items. If I do not find what I’m looking for, then I search through the paid materials.

8. Prepare centers and games.
Depending on what subject area(s) you will teach, I highly recommend to start preparing centers and games. You will discover throughout your first year there are so many things you have to do. I cannot tell you how many weekends I spent preparing centers or math games. If you’re unsure of what types of games to prepare…look at your standards! I would start with making games for math. They are easier to find, and they will most likely be used the most. My students played math games every day after their work was finished.

9. Decide on your lesson plan and gradebook template. 
Ask your teammates about how they organize their lesson plans and gradebooks. Your school may have a particular format that they require you to use. My first quarter of teaching was the most stressful. Why? I was so worried about finding the perfect lesson plan and gradebook format, and I didn’t have time to figure it out. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a paper gradebook or an electronic one.

10. Invest in a laminator.
Most schools have a laminator, but I wouldn’t always count on using it. Schools manage the laminating machines differently, so you might have a limit on how much you can use it. Our laminating machines at school are great! Except, the machine takes FOREVER to heat up. I invested in my own personal laminator in college, and I use it for every thing. The smaller laminators do not take as long to heat up, and the film is more durable. I bought mine at Wal-Mart for $20. You can also purchase them at Staples, Joann’s, Target, and more. 

Do you have any tips you would like to add? I would love to hear from you.

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Homemade Chicken Salad Recipe

Since Clint and I got married, we started cooking all the time. We both {really} LOVE to cook. So for Clint’s birthday, I bought him an electric smoker. He loves it! He is researching different ways to smoke meat, and he is enjoying making his own concoctions.

On Sunday, Clint wanted to smoke a whole chicken. The chicken was full of flavor, and it was very juicy. I told Clint that I wanted to make homemade chicken salad with the leftovers. Chicken salad is one of my favorite summertime foods. It is perfect to eat on those HOT summer days. So, I thought I would share my take on homemade chicken salad. 

Ingredients and supplies needed:

  • Chicken
  • Mayonnaise
  • Onion
  • Almond Slivers
  • Black Pepper
  • Grapes
  • Mixing bowl with lid
  • Mini food chopper (optional)
  • Spoon
  • Fork

There are so many different ways to make chicken salad. My version is very simple, yet it is still tasty. You probably have the ingredients sitting in your pantry and fridge already. I did not include measurements for the ingredients. I did this because not everybody will want to make the same amount. Also, everyone’s taste buds are different. Everyone may not want the same amount of mayonnaise, black pepper, onions, etc.

Follow the steps below to make your own savory chicken salad.

  1. I start out by shredding the cooked chicken with a fork.
    {It is completely up to you on how you would like to season and cook the chicken.}
  2. Place shredded chicken in large mixing bowl and add mayonnaise.
    {I start with a small amount of mayonnaise. I do not like a lot of it, and I can always add more later if there is not enough.}
  3. Chop onion and add to mix.
    {I used a yellow onion, but you can use any kind. I chop my onion using a mini food chopper because I like onions chopped very fine. However, if you like larger pieces of onion use a knife.}
    Here is a picture of my mini food chopper. You can find them in the appliance section of most department stores.Mini Food Chopper
  4. Chop almond slivers and add to mix.
    {I LOVE almonds! I use the mini food chopper to cut the almond slivers even smaller. I like having a taste of almond in every bite.}
  5. Add whole grapes or sliced grapes to mix.
    {I use red grapes in my chicken salad. It gives it a sweeter taste. I slice my grapes in half, but you could leave them whole.}
  6. Add black pepper to mix.
    {I love black pepper, but its flavor can sometimes be overpowering. I only add a little black pepper to my mix. However, you can add as much as you would like.}
  7. Stir the mix until all ingredients are combined. Serve immediately or let it chill in the fridge until it is time to serve.

Chicken salad can be served in many different ways. I think that is why it is so well liked. My favorite is to eat chicken salad on a croissant roll, but toasted bread is a good alternative too. Here is picture of my chicken salad sandwich.

Chicken Salad Sandwich

There is so much more you can add to chicken salad, but I like to keep it simple. Celery is usually found in chicken salad, but I leave it out completely. I have also heard of people adding apple slices, pecans, boiled eggs, and more.

How do you like to enjoy your chicken salad? I would love to hear from you!

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Home Sweet Engagement

It’s time for a little “way back Wednesday” story.

Clint and I have known for a long time that we were going to spend the rest of our lives together. It was just a matter of “when” it was going to happen. After landing my dream job as a third grade teacher, Clint and I decided to begin house hunting. I never thought we would find our dream house as quickly as we did. I thought we would look for several weeks or even months. After finding the house of our dreams, we immediately placed a contract on it. The house was under contract as of September 16, 2014. Almost two months later, it was a done deal! We closed on our house on November 14, 2014. I didn’t think the day could get any better, but it did!

After our closing, our wonderful real estate agent treated us to a congratulatory lunch. After lunch, Clint and I went back to his parents house for him to get a few things before we headed to OUR house. {We were going to our house to change all the locks. After changing the locks, Clint was planning to go hunting for the weekend and I was going to stay and clean.} Clint collected his hunting gear and tools, and we were headed to our home.

Home Sweet Home

As soon as we arrived, we walked around and just talked about our ideas for our home. Clint started to change the locks on all the doors, and I started cleaning. After replacing each lock, Clint would ask me to go outside with my key and unlock the door to make sure they were working properly. We did this four times! We had one more door to go…the front door. He changed the lock and he called for me to go outside and unlock it. At this point it was starting to get late, and I was extremely tired from our busy day. I went outside to unlock the door, but it wouldn’t open. I thought Clint was trying to be funny by locking me out. I would try to unlock it, and he would lock it back. I started to get a little frustrated. I unlocked the door one more time, and he actually let me open it. When I opened the door, Clint was down on one knee, holding the most beautiful ring in the entire world. I was speechless and completely shocked. It was the most memorable day of my entire life.

We're ENGAGED!

Home Sweet Engagement

With love,
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Hello? Is anybody out there?

I’m hoping to dust the cobwebs off of this old blog for good. It has {almost} been a year since the last time a post was published. We have a lot of catching up to do! (Assuming I still have followers.)

The last 12 months have been crazy! I’ll give a quick summary of what has happened.

July 2014:
Clint and I had a wonderful, fun, and HOT vacation. We spent five days in Dayton Beach, FL. We laid out by the pool and the beach the majority of the time. We played two rounds of putt-putt. Clint was determined to beat me after I dominated him in round 1. GO ME!!

Our favorite memory of the entire trip…DEEP SEA FISHING! It was amazing! Here are a few pictures from our fishing trip:

Sunrise on the way out into the ocean.

Sunrise on the way out into the ocean.

Clint reeling in his biggest catch of the day.

Clint reeling in his biggest catch of the day.

Clint and his Goliath Grouper aka JewFish

Clint and his Goliath Grouper aka JewFish

Clint and I cruising on the boat.

Clint and I cruising on the boat.

Apart from enjoying the Salt Life, I started preparing for my first {official} year of teaching!

MY FIRST CLASSROOM

MY FIRST CLASSROOM

August 2014 – October 2014:
These three months felt like a blur because they flew by so quickly. I spent the majority of my time trying to stay organized with all my school stuff. I never realized how busy and stressful the beginning of the school year could be.

November 2014:
This was a HUGE month for me. Clint and I purchased our first house on November 14th, and he proposed to me that evening! I will tell you the story in a later post!

We're ENGAGED!

We’re ENGAGED!

December 2014:
We ELOPED! Clint and I couldn’t wait any longer, so we decided to get married. We got married on December 31st. :)

January 2015:
We moved into our new house on New Year’s Day.

February 2015:
We had our “I Do” celebration (aka wedding reception) with friends and family. My mom planned most of it by herself. She did an amazing job.

March 2015 – May 2015:
Again…these three months were a blur. It is amazing how busy the end of the school year can get. I had a successful first year of teaching, and I cannot wait to see my students walking through the hall next year.

June 2015:
Clint’s birthday was June 6th. We had his family over for a cookout, and it was a lot of fun! I also made him a special birthday cake that I plan to write a post about soon. You will not want to miss that.

There you go! I hope to never go another year without blogging. I have a few ideas of how to stay connected with my readers. However, I would like to connect with other bloggers. Any suggestions on how to get that started? I would LOVE to hear about it.

With love,
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Tasty Tuesday {Baked Tacos Recipe}

Hey y’all!
I found this amazing recipe (thanks to Pinterest) and I just had to share!
I’ve pinned hundreds of recipes, yet I have only tried a handful of them. {I’m sure there are people who can relate!} However, I plan on changing that!

On Sunday, Clint and I were talking about finding and trying new recipes. OF COURSE, the first place I searched was my “Yummy in my Tummy” Pinterest Board. I pinned a recipe for baked tacos many months ago, and decided it was time to try it. You can find the original post HERE.
It did NOT disappoint!

I loved this recipe because it was EASY, QUICK, and DELICIOUS!
What more could you ask for?

Here is a picture of the ingredients needed:

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Shredded cheese not pictured. It was chilling in the fridge. :)

*I made this recipe my own! I did not completely copy the original recipe, so there is a slight variation.*

My ingredients included:
1 lb. of Ground Beef
Onion (Optional)
Taco Seasoning of your choice
Small can of Tomato Sauce
Taco Sauce
Refried Beans
Hard Taco Shells (Stand and Stuff/Flat Bottom Recommended)
Old El Paso (60 Second) Mexican Rice
2 Cups of Shredded Cheese (Mexican Blend) *Not pictured.

If you visited the original post, you read that she made her own hard taco shells. I’m all about convenience, and I didn’t see a reason to reinvent the wheel. Therefore, I used the Old El Paso Stand and Stuff Taco Shells. I HIGHLY recommend using the Stand and Stuff Shells, you will see why shortly!

Preheat oven to 400°F
First: Cook ground beef and drain.
Then add chopped onion (optional) and taco seasoning packet (or homemade seasoning).
{Note: I did not add water to my meat as directed on seasoning packet. I’m not sure if it makes a difference or not with this particular recipe.}
*While the meat was cooking, I cooked my 60 Second Mexican Rice.
Clint and I love Mexican rice, so we added it to our mix. However, this is completely optional as well.

Next: Add tomato sauce, refried beans, and rice. Mix well!

Then: Place taco shells in glass pan. Using the Stand and Stuff Shells helps them stand very nicely. :)

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Next: Fill the taco shells with the meat mixture.

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After I filled the taco shells, I added taco sauce on top of them.
{This was something else I added to satisfy my taste buds.}

Then: Cover the tacos with the shredded cheese.

Baked Tacos 4

After that: Bake tacos at 400°F for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven.

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Finally: Top with your favorite taco toppings and enjoy!

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If you love tacos or mexican food, you will LOVE this recipe!

Do you know of any easy, quick, and delicious recipes? If so, I would love to hear them!

Enjoy the rest of your week!
With love,
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Quilting Event Update

If you read my previous post, you should already know that I have finished the custom quilt I was working on!
In case you missed it, you can check out my latest post, HERE.

Here is a picture of the final product again! I cannot stop looking at it!

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First, I need to apologize for my unintentional break from blogging. I never realized how busy the end of the school year was for teachers. Oh. My. Goodness. is all I can say about that. However, it was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute of it. I would come home and not want to do anything. Therefore, the quilt was put on the back burner.

After my first full week of summer vacation, I decided it was time to start working on the quilt again. I just thought it would be easy for me to jump right back into quilting.
WRONG!

Rule #1 of returning to a quilt: Check all of your sewing machine settings.
Somehow, my tension got completely messed up. I have no clue how this happened. I thought I was just having an “off” quilting day. {When this happens, I normally walk away from the quilt and come back another day.} I tried many times, and ripped seams out every few stitches. After an hour and a half, I decided to stop.

The next day, I was determined to make progress on it. I threaded my sewing machine again and changed by bobbin. While changing my bobbin, I noticed there was a loose part. PROBLEM SOLVED! That is why I was having the most difficult time with my bobbin.

I quilted a few hours every day, and voilà…quilting was finished! It was the greatest feeling knowing that I successfully quilted my FIRST OFFICIAL quilt, and it just happened to be a QUEEN size! I say go big or go home! :)

Next, it was time to sew the binding! It’s not perfect, but I was satisfied with the outcome!

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After sewing the binding, it was finished and ready to wash! I have heard horrible things about washing quilts, even after the fabric was washed previously. I pre-washed ALL of my fabric. After all the hard work that was put into making it, I did not want any surprises. So, I made sure I washed the quilt with Shout Color Catchers.

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Image from Google Search

I have never used these before, but I couldn’t imagine what the quilt would have looked like without them. After removing the quilt from the washer, I couldn’t believe what I saw. The color catcher sheets were 100% BLUE! I’m giving the quilt purchaser several of these to use the first few times he washes it. I’m not sure if he will see the same result as I did, but it definitely will not hurt to use them! :)

I’m not sure how soon I will make another quilt, but I cannot wait to try something new! Do you have an easy quilt that you recommend for a beginning quilter like myself? I would love to hear about it!

With love,
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