Friday, December 14, 2012

A Day of Sorrow.

Today, in my home town a tragedy occurred.  As all of you know, Newtown, Connecticut was devastated today when a gunman opened fire and took the lives of numerous people, many of them children.

I grew up in Newtown, CT.  It has been my home since I was 6 months old. I attended Sandy Hook Elementary as a Kindergartner.  It is a place where I could walk down the street as a child and feel safe.  It is the place I plan on raising my own kids.  It is a community I know and love. And today someone walked in and destroyed that within minutes.

In this time of sorrow, there are no words that can take away our pain and hurt.  However, Newtown is a place where everyone supports one another.  We know and love each other.  And while these horrific events have torn us apart today, we will come together as a community, as we always do, and we will recover.  We will walk together, hand in hand, as we begin to heal.  We will hold up the parents and loved ones of the victims when they are not able to stand.

We will pull together and we will heal.

One day, we will live in a world where our children can go to school safely and where our loved ones are not torn away from us by acts of violence.

Love you Newtown <3

"So our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children, and for the families of the adults who were lost.
Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors, as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children's innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain." - President Barack Obama

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thriftable Thursday!

My Thriftable Thursday this week is an awesome find! Let me tell you the story behind this before I get to the actual purchase itself.

For quite some time I've wanted a pair of cowboy boots. They are super cute and honestly, when I go line dancing, I just feel a little ridiculous in my converse.  My problem was how much it would cost me to purchase a pair of cowboy boots.  Seriously, do you know how much they cost?  Who can spend that much on a pair of boots?  Certainly not this frugal girl.

I searched and searched for a pair of cheap boots that were still high quality and I had no luck at all.  So I finally broke down and just asked for a pair for Christmas and Santa spent a small fortune buying me this awesome pair of slouch leather cowboy boots.  I won't deny it, they're pretty freaking amazing.  They are super comfortable, they have a nice low heal so I'm not towering over my husband (who is the same height as me) and I can wear them for hours and hours of dancing when I want to.  But again, this came at a significant cost to poor old Santa.

You know that find what you're looking for when you stop looking?  It's true. I went about my life with my new best friends on my feet and just five short months later I came across these at a Goodwill.

They were a size 6, sturdy, REAL cowboys boots and wouldn't you know it, they were 18 bucks!  I stood there debating whether or not I should buy them because I already had a perfectly good pair, but really they were mine the minute I picked those babies up off the shelf.

I rationalized it by telling myself that it's worth it as long as I get use out of both pairs.  And I do. Even though they are both brown they're quite different from each other in the way they are built so I'm able to pair them with different outfits.  

I find boots to be one of my favorite thriftable items because in stores they are usually expensive.  It's hard to get a good deal on a pair of boots unless you luck out and find a pair on clearance.  So I always check the shoe section of a thrift store just to make sure there's nothing I can't live without!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Those Wedding Leftovers! Part I

Happy 12/12/12! Now that you know a little bit about Thanksmas, I'd like to show off some of the new things we tried out this year including place settings and some fun DIY (and recycled!) holiday decorations.

After having my roommates wedding last year and our wedding this year we had quite a bit of stuff leftover.  Things like extra centerpiece vases, small votive candles, votive holders..stuff like that.  There's really only two things you can do when you have wedding leftovers - give them away or reuse them.  Being the thrifty people that we are we, of course, chose to reuse them.

One of the things we knew we wanted to use was our leftover centerpiece vases since we each had a few of them.  And because they are vases they are a pretty easy thing to reuse as, well, just plain old vases.  But where's the fun in that? So in the holiday spirit we made them into these fantastic holiday decorations and centerpieces for our Thanksmas dinner.

The best part about these is that they look great, they were inexpensive (since we already had the vases) and they were easy to make.

We started by buying a giant bin of ornaments from Stop & Shop for $8. You can probably get them cheaper at The Christmas Tree Shop or even the Dollar Store but we were on a schedule. For our tall skinny vases we chose a nice pattern of red, green and gold ornaments and made both of them the same.  These became decorations at our holiday bar.

For the fatter vases we just did red and gold because we used them as centerpieces on top of a  green tablecloth.  To make them we just piled the ornaments in there, dispersing the gold among the red as evenly as possible.

5 minutes - Done.  We have beautiful holiday decor and centerpieces and they cost us no more than $8.  This is a great project for leftovers!

If you want to try this out but you don't have leftover vases I would suggest checking out the dollar store.  I know they had some similar vases to this when I was looking for wedding centerpieces.  I also suggest, as always, checking out your local thrift store.  You'd be amazed what you might find!

Keep an eye out for posts on some of the other fun stuff we tried out at Thanksmas this year!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Every year in my house we have a little dinner party with all of our friends.  This dinner party has come to be known as Thanksmas.  This being because we have it right in between Thanksgiving and Christmas and we have a huge Thanksgiving-like dinner. This year we had 15 people at our house and let me tell you, it was quite the challenge.

Our house is not very big and it seems even smaller when you cram 2 tables, 15 chairs, 15 people, 2 dogs and a Christmas tree into it.  But we made it work, it was awesome and everyone had a great time!

So, today I wanted to share some photos from this awesome event and also give you a little update on my Ice Cream Sandwich Cake, which you can find my recipe for, here. This cake was fan-freaking-tastic.  Everyone loved it.  Here's some photos of how it came out.

My wonderful hubby serving it up!

This cake was so easy to make and it looks really beautiful when it's all done (please ignore my ugly throw away tray.  All of our other good dishes were being used for dinner.  Plus using a throw away meant no cleanup!)

When it's all sliced up it looks just as pretty!

As you can see by Ms. M scraping the tray clean, it was quite the hit.  Super easy, delicious and it looks store bought?  How can you lose?

Here are few little updates for the recipe I posted the other day.
  • I got 24 ice cream sandwiches and used about 14 for my 10 X 10 container.  
  • I also got 2 of the small (16 oz.) containers of Cool Whip to use and it was the perfect amount.  
  • And did you know that in the baking section of the grocery store they have bags of crushed Heath Bar specifically for this kind of stuff?  My husband found it on the search for Heath Bars (because they can be quite hard to find) and I was able to use it instead of crushing them all myself!  I call that a win.

So, if you're planning on trying this recipe take those amounts into consideration and adjust accordingly for whatever size cake you are making.  And now, here are some of my favorite photos from this years Thanksmas!

Beautiful Holiday Garland

The table ready for everyone to eat!

More Garland - This may be my favorite holiday decoration

Stockings hung by the chimney with care

Place settings!

Ready to Party.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Walkin' In a Winter Wonderland.

I love the holidays.  I love snow. I love hot cocoa and snow days and icicles....I LOVE winter and everything about it.  So I wanted to share a bulletin board I just put up for the month of December.

This is a great lesson that can be adjusted based on the level of the students.  I do this with all my 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and I'm able to differentiate it enough to fit all of them. So here's how it came out:

Unfortunately the picture doesn't really do it justice so I've thrown in some close ups too.  The individual snowflakes turn out super cute!  The base lesson I use with all of my students is about nouns, proper nouns, adjectives and verbs.

For my third graders, I strictly stick to nouns and adjectives. We start by brainstorming winter words that are nouns.  Then they pick their favorite winter noun off our brainstorm and they think of four adjectives to describe that noun.  I have them cut out a snowflake and write their winter noun in the center.  Then they write all the adjectives they came up with on the arms of the snowflake.  We throw some glitter on it and there you have it!  A beautiful, nouny and descriptive snowflake!

I make it a little different for my fourth graders by making them identify whether the words are verbs, nouns or proper nouns as we brainstorm.  They also have to think of more words to describe the noun they choose for their snowflake.

My fifth graders do the entire brainstorm and then choose two winter words to work with.  Those become main topics for them in a writing piece about winter.  They write about why they like those things and what they can do with them.  It's a pretty great lesson overall because we're talking about parts of the English language, the seasons and doing some writing.  All things that my students need constant reminders for!  And you get a pretty bulletin board out of it. Love it!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Favorites Four Friday.

It's Friday again and that means I've been working towards meeting my goal of trying one new thing per week.  Here are my Favorites Four Friday this week!

Numero Uno

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake.  Need I say more? I thought not.  Here's what you do...

You'll need...
Ice cream sandwiches
Cool Whip
Heath bars - crushed
Caramel and chocolate drizzle (the kind in the squeeze bottle)

Using a deep Pyrex dish (or any deep dish that can go in the freezer) lay down a layer of ice cream sandwiches.  Spread a thick layer of cool whip on top of the ice cream sandwiches.  Drizzle the caramel and chocolate and then sprinkle the crushed Heath bar on top.  Repeat the entire process and place it in the freezer overnight. When the entire cake is frozen it's ready to serve.  It looks beautiful when it's all cut up because of all the layers! And it's delicious!

Numero Dos

Our wedding photos are in! Our photographer did a fantastic job, which is no surprise because she's super talented.  It's part of the reason we picked her.  Here's one of my favorites...(I can't really choose just one favorite!)

Numero Tres

In the spirit of the holidays, my favorite Christmas song this week is Jingle Bells by Michael Buble.  I love the fact that it sounds like an old 40's song and it's a ton of fun. In fact, his whole Christmas album is pretty awesome and I'm not a particularly big fan of him in general. Check it out if you haven't given it a listen!

Numero Quatro

I'm gonna go ahead and say that my favorite person in the whole wide world this week is my husband.  Although, this is true every week so it's not really saying much but I just felt like I needed to give him an extra shout out.  He always knows how to make me smile :)

Happy Weekending!

Friday Letters.

It's time for Friday letters, which is awesome because it means, obviously, that it's FRIDAY!!! This week I've been thinking it's Friday everyday since Tuesday.  Needless to say, I'm pretty happy it's actually here.  I've been MIA a little this week but I do have some really awesome things to post about as a result. So be on the look out! Ok, without furhter ado, here's my Friday Letters.

Dear Winter, It's your friend Stacy. I'd like to point out that I am one of the few people who doesn't mind you.  In fact, I quite enjoy you.  With that, I'd like to request that you please make a decision as to whether or not you're here to stay. It would be much appreciated.  Dear Mother Nature, I know you're very old at this point but you signed up for the job.  Figure it out.  Dear Nurse That Did my Blood Work Yesterday, you have a job that requires you to work closely with other human beings, so I might suggest that you take a class in communication or being warm and fuzzy.  I'm sure they offer that, right? Dear Students, I may have gotten married but it does not mean I will be having a baby anytime soon.  Please stop asking. Dear Wedding Photographer, thank you, thank you, thank you!  Your pictures are awesome.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thriftable Thursday!

It's Thursday and that means two things are happening.

Tomorrow is Friday!! Woo!

It's Thriftable Thursday. Woo Hoo!!

Today I'm highlighting something I'm very proud of and it's ever-growing.  I'm constantly adding to this thriftable whenever I can. I'm not the only one who benefits from it either.  My students love this thriftable and other teachers in my school often ask to borrow it.  So? Have you guessed what it is yet?

It's my classroom library! I've built my classroom library slowly but surely over the last 4 years.  When I got out of college I knew I wanted a big library available to my students, so I started buying books from book fairs, Barnes and Noble and Borders.  Needless to say I was spending a small fortune and I wanted to find a way to buy lots of books and not go broke.

My home town has a huge book sale every year where everyone in town donates their unwanted books and the library organizes it like a book tag sale.  One year I was looking through all the books and it hit me - buy used books!  Duh!

I started looking everywhere for good deals on books.  I researched paper back exchanges in my area (who knew there were so many in existence!), I hit up every town book sale I could find and I found stores that sell the good books for cheap.  For example, The Christmas Tree Shop sells Magic Tree House and Junie B. Jones for 2 bucks each!  Big thrift stores like Goodwill and Savers are really good too. 

I've added and added over time and I have close to 400 books in my collection. I let my kids check them out by signing them out of my lending library binder.  Here's a look at my sign out form:

The kids are responsible for signing out with the title of the book, their name and the date.  Then when they bring it back they write the sign in date and I check it off.

And because my kids know they are my books and I'm letting them borrow them, they are super careful with them.  They take extra care to make sure they come back and are still in good condition.  In four years, I've only had a few books get lost. Which I think is a pretty good record.

If you decide you want to build up your classroom library and want to check out some of these resources my favorites are the thrift stores and the book sales.  At book sales I find a lot of groups of books because so many people are donating and they all tend to have the same books.  Popular books like Magic Tree House have tons of copies available, which is awesome because I can get enough copies to use them with a reading group.  But beware....the popular ones go really fast so get there early!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Desk Declutterization (it's definitely a word).

I'm always, and I mean ALWAYS trying to find new and better ways to organize my classroom. I think most teachers are.  So today I wanted to share something little that I do to keep my classroom organized.

One of my pet peeves in the classroom is a cluttered desk.  If you're a teacher, you know it doesn't take long for a desk to get that way.  Just a day or two of papers piling up can become a nightmare.  So the other day, as I was on the hunt for a new organizational solution, I had an idea.  My desk gets cluttered mainly because of extra copies or worksheets I never get to.  Usually, I file these things in the filing cabinet under their appropriate heading but sometimes it takes a while until I have a minute to put everything away.

So, I made a folder for each of the grade levels I work with and the two main subjects I see them for, Language Arts and Math.  I color coded them and everything!

Then, I simply stuck them to the wall behind my desk with some Elmer's Tac N' Stik and BAM! I have folders to organize all my worksheets until I have a minute to file them.  Such a simple solution!  It took me less than 20 minutes to assemble and I used oaktag to make these make-shift folders rather than use my good ones or spend money on new ones.

Here's a shot of my desk before and after:

Before                                    After 
One of the best things about this method is sometimes I don't get to a worksheet with one of my groups and usually it would just end up sitting on my desk until I got to it.  Now, I can put it in the corresponding folder until my group is ready to do it, I know exactly where it is when I'm ready for it and I've got a nice clean desk in the meantime! Also, because I posted them on the wall behind my desk and under my chalkboard they don't take up any physical space in my room. It just takes away some wall space and clearly, it wasn't wall space that I was using.

Just thought I would share this epiphany incase anyone is looking for a desk de-cluttering solution! Happy Organizing!