Sunday, November 8, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

I've recently been experimenting with essential oils in the kitchen.  My friends and I stumbled across this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe years and years ago, and we make it ALL FALL LONG.  This year, I have 3 small kids in my house, and I didn't feel comfortable giving them cookies... so instead I made muffins, you know, because that's different ;).  Anyway, last week, we were out of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I'd already mixed the ingredients together, and I had a 2 year old just dying to have some muffins... so I improvised.  I have an ever growing collection of essential oils, and last month I'd ordered cinnamon bark and nutmeg.  So I figured I'd give it a shot... turns out, they were delicious and tasted EXACTLY the same as if we'd used ground spices... or even a bit better because the flavors were a little stronger.  I only used 1 drop of each oil - which, if you're new to oils, I know doesn't seem like enough.  But trust me... they're STRONG.  1 drop is plenty.

I use Young Living Essential oils in my cooking and in my life because I love how they're pure and therapeutic grade.  If you're interested in making this recipe (or any of the others I'll be posting as I continue to experiment with them in the kitchen), contact me here (learningbymrshart@gmail.com), and I can help you get your own!



PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 package chocolate chips
1 drop Cinnamon Bark Essential Oil
1 drop Nutmeg Essential oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer.  Add the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla.
2. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add the essential oils to the creamed butter and sugar mixture.
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients.
5. Once all mixed together, add in the bag of chocolate chips and allow to mix for another minute or so.
6. Scoop into muffin tins, and bake at 350* for 15 minutes.  I used mini muffin tins (better for little hands!), and I cooked them for 15 minutes.  If you use larger muffin tins, you may need longer... check after 15 minutes to see!



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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Overdue Update

Well my faithful followers (I think there might be 2 of you!) I'm back.  I haven't blogged in a LONG long time.  At first I accidentally took a break from blogging because I was so busy with school, my family and some other things going on.  Then things in my life changed drastically and I intentionally didn't update - I'm no longer teaching (I'll get to that!) and since this is a TEACHING blog, I felt silly writing it.  But I do enjoy blogging, when I have time, so I'm trying to find a way to incorporate it back into my life.  Not so much for my readers but for myself to look back at in the future.  I laugh looking at my old posts on here already, so I think it will be fun to try to keep it up.  So... that being said, let me update you on what's happened since last November, which was my last post.

#1 - I had twin girls.  Of course, I knew I was pregnant when I blogged last, but was still early enough on in my pregnancy that I didn't want to talk about it publicly.  I had a fairly easy pregnancy until the last month when the babies settled on my sciatic nerve and I basically couldn't walk without pain.  I had a very uneventful c-section at 37 weeks, and after one of my girls spent a week in the NICU for some growing and feeding, we all came home!  Almost 8 months later they're crawling, babbling little ladies who are starting to terrorize their older brother... and I'm loving (almost) every second of it.

#2 - We bought and renovated our first home.  As if having twins wasn't enough, during my 6th month of pregnancy, we realized we needed to be closer to our families.  So in a period of 4 weeks, we looked at a few houses, put in an offer on one, and closed on it.  Then we spent the next 6 weeks (until the day I started my maternity leave) renovating it.  We replaced the bathroom and kitchen, redid the floors, painted everything, updated the electrical and plumbing, insulated attics and basements... and then packed and moved everything... if you've read my blog before you know that we had JUST moved the summer before... which we'd done to be closer to work so we'd have more time as a family after school was over.  In a funny twist of fate, 3 weeks after we moved, we found out I was pregnant.  With twins.  After a few weeks of freaking out, we thought we'd figured out a plan on how we'd make it work while staying where we were.  But as I got further along in my pregnancy, we started to realize we were going to need some major help.  We were going to have 3 kids under 3 years old... so by Thanksgiving, we'd make the decision to move!

#3 - I quit teaching. I went out on maternity leave in early February, returned for the last 3 weeks of school in May, and left for good once that was over.  While I may return to teaching one day, the reality of 3 kids in daycare was absurd.  When we really thought about it, the idea of working to pay for day care, and basically nothing else, just didn't make sense.  So we decided I'd stay home with our kids.  While we've definitely had days that have been hard (and I know there will be MANY MANY more to come), I've been really loving it.  As the babies have gotten older, certain things are easier, and certain things are harder.  They're finally *mostly* sleeping through the night, so at least we're starting to get back some sense of rest!  But truly I've loved being able to see them every day - seeing what they're learning and doing and not missing a minute.  I'm very lucky, and very blessed.  I don't take that for granted.

#4 - I've slowed WAY down on my TpT stuff, but have been still creating occasionally.  I'm turning my focus, for now, to guided reading comprehension type questions.  I have lots of them created on my computer from my 10 years of teaching, so I'm just now trying to find the time to post them.  To help my family out at bit, I am still doing some after school tutoring, so I may also be writing some things up for that which I'll post as well... but my focus has certainly changed since November.  I may post some things occasionally (all of which are classroom tested... just backlogged on my computer from years ago!) but my family is my focus these days.

So those are the big things that have happened here in the last year!  While I am no longer teaching, I do hope to go back one day... so I believe I'll be keeping the name of the blog the same.  Eventually I'm going to redesign it to take off the school aspects... because the focus will be different - it'll be more about my family life and how we're surviving over here being together all day every day.  Feel free to follow along and keep up with us!
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Oh Dear!

It's been a VERY long time since I blogged!  Summer got away from me, and then school started - and as I'm sure it is for all of you, it was hectic and crazy for me!  With our move this summer, I thought I'd have all this time in the afternoon - forgetting that now I have a very active (nearly) 2 year old who needs and wants constant entertainment - and who I want to entertain every day!  So my blog  took a backseat... but now that the fall is WELL underway (those of us in Boston may even agree that fall is over and we're into winter...) I have a bit of a routine and hope to find a little more time to blog.

But, in other news, just because I haven't been blogging, doesn't mean I haven't been creating!  This fall I've been focusing on my reading program - I've always done small guided reading groups in my class, but always find myself struggling with activities to go with each story.  So this fall, I have been working to get myself organized.  A bunch of years ago I ordered a bunch of holiday books in multiple sets.  I've always used them, but each year the "follow up" activities have varied based on how far in advance I've planned.  So this year I put together a bunch of comprehension questions for each book - they're designed to be used as packets - one page per chapter (usually 3 or 4 questions per chapter) and after we read, I have my students work on answering them before moving on to other reading activities.  I've been using them all year and they're a great way for my reading groups to reflect on what they read with me, while also working alone (or with their group).  Plus it gives me another "grade" or way of checking understanding besides just answering questions in our group.  I have my students write their answers in complete sentences - or in just plain answers for students who need a modification.

I am working to put them together into bundles based on seasons - with a great price discount - if you happen to have all the same books as me.  But if not, I posted them separately so you can just get what you need!

Check them out!  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Mrs-Hart/Category/Guided-Reading

I'm going to try to be better about blogging now - I've been off Instagram and blogs in general and I've missed it!  

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

August Currently!

It's that time again!  I'm so surprised that it's August already - I just don't know how that happened!


Listening: to the baby monitor.  My little guy was so tired tonight, he ASKED to go to bed!  So now I'm listening to the white noise of the monitor in the background.

Loving: fresh blueberry donuts - we went blueberry picking today and OF COURSE had to pick up 6 blueberry donuts to take home... which we then ate before leaving, so we had to buy 6 more.  :)

Thinking: I can't believe summer went so quickly - no explanation needed here.

Wanting: new printer ink!  I have all these great things in my TpT cart that I want to buy, but until I have new ink, I'm afraid to... If I can't print them immediately, I worry I'll forget about them.

Needing: ice  for my back.  I'm still in a lot of pain, despite my chiropractor visits!

1st Day: September 4th.  I go back a few days before then, but I can't remember the date... and I don't really count it because it's very casual and I always enjoy those first few days seeing all my friends!  



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Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made It: Food

I'm linking up for Monday Made It again!!!  I did something to my back last week, which has made moving around practically impossible.  So, rather than a detailed craft, this week I made ice cream.  Standing up hurts my back less than sitting down, so this was a good choice for this week!  I still have 4 weeks left to go before heading back to school, so I'm going to try to wait 2 more weeks before starting any school crafts and projects.  



My sisters gave me the ice cream attachment for my FAVORITE piece of kitchen equipment (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer!) for Christmas a couple years ago.  It was a drizzly day, and I had all the ingredients, so I decided to make some!  I'd put my ice cream bowl into the freezer when we moved in, so it was all set to use.


My sisters also gave me the Ben and Jerry's recipe book - so after some debating, my husband and I agreed on Oreo... I'd always prefer chocolate - it's my FAVORITE flavor for anything, but my husband doesn't really love it.  So we "compromised".

I'll put the recipe at the end of this post, and I will post the pictures I took - I seriously felt like I should be on a Food Network show while taking these pictures.  I was trying to be all artsy (see the whisking picture below!) and kept laughing at the whole thing! My husband was in the living room and I was trying to get this whole thing done without him seeing me - I can only imagine the grief he'd give me if he caught me trying to "style" our food!  :)




How cute are these measuring spoons BTW?  I think they're Martha Stewart - they're magnetic so the whole set stays together, and they have two ends - one that's oval shaped to fit into the narrow necks of spice bottles.  GENIUS!


My son kept walking into the kitchen while I was working on this.  My stand mixer is very quiet, but it was still a noise he wasn't use to.  I kept catching him standing on his tiptoes trying to peek.  It was adorable!


The recipe claims to make 1 quart - but I ended up with almost 2 full quarts.  So we'll be all set for ice cream for a while!!  (And by a while, I mean a day or two...)



The ice cream was still pretty soft when it was done churning, so we froze it for a while.  After dinner, we broke into it... and it was YUMMY.  I highly recommend it!

Oreo Ice Cream 

Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup Oreos crushed up

Directions
Whisk eggs in a bowl for a minute or two until frothy and light yellow
Add sugar slowly and whisk another minute
Mix vanilla into the milk
Mix the cream and milk into the eggs
Add the mixture to the ice cream machine 
Follow your machine's specifications (mine was 25 minutes).
2 minutes before it's done churning, add in the chopped Oreos slowly...
Then freeze an hour or two!

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Friday, July 25, 2014

5 for Friday!

It's Friday again!  Time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching!!



1.  Corn Fields

When I was little, I secretly always wanted to be a pioneer girl.  Seriously - there was something so charming to me about simpler times - and come on, who didn't read Sarah Plain and Tall or Little House on the Prairie when they were growing up and maybe want to live that life? (It's this secret side of me that gets super excited each fall to go apple picking and preserve things!)  Anyway, I'm sure I would have long forgotten this dream, except my parents live in as rural of an area as you can get in Boston - and each time I go to visit, I drive through this corn field and laugh.  It's honestly one of my favorite sights of summer - tall corn stalks blowing in the wind.  If I ever had the courage, I'd pack up my family and move west.  But for now, these trips through the corn will have to do!




2.  Yogurt Treats

I recently discovered this yummy combination.  Sometimes I have it for breakfast, sometimes for a dessert - I only use a tablespoon of chocolate chips (so I can tell myself it's healthy!) and this coffee flavored yogurt is one of the only Greek yogurts I've found that I like.  



3.  Play Dough

While on a walk with my son yesterday (keeping up with my #StepItUp goals!) we stopped at CVS.  The summer stuff is ALL ON SALE (which I hate because it's still summer!!!) and on one of the shelves I found these little packages of Play Dough.  I have only just introduced play dough to my little one, and although most of it ends up in his hair/mouth/eyes/on the floor, I figure he'll get better with practice.  And these seemed pretty PERFECT to take with us to restaurants or other places (side note: I never worked in the restaurant industry, but my sister did.  I always try to have something to distract my little guy while we're out, and I am careful to help clean up any extra mess he makes.  So if the play dough were to end up on the floor - we wouldn't leave until I'd picked it up.)  I'm not even ashamed to say that I bought their whole supply - they were on sale, so were less than $1.00 a piece.  Now I have a drawer full of them... 





4.  Bedding

If you've read my blog before, you know I'm having so much trouble deciding on bedding for our new bed!  Right now we're using our old duvet and quilt - which are queen sized - too small for our king bed.  We end up fighting over them in the middle of the night, and have resorted to having "private blanket parties" (my husband's term).  I'm trying to fix this problem QUICKLY!  I want our room finished and I'm tired of fighting over blankets in the middle of the night.  :)  The most recent duvets I've found came today from Target.  I really want something mostly grey and white... Here they are:


The one on the right is black and white, not grey and white, and the one with the red in it also has a light sea foam green in some of the flowers as well.  Anyone have any input???  Should I keep looking, or are these good?

5.  Lunch

I'm having lunch today with a sweet teaching friend of mine who I haven't seen since school got out almost a month and a half ago.  We live less than 2 miles from each other but have just been so busy we haven't had a chance to catch up!  I'm really excited to see her!!!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

#SLANTbox

I'm linking up with Jameson at Lessons for Coffee to share my SLANTbox!  For those of you who don't know what a SLANTbox is, head over to Lessons with Coffee to learn all about it.  I didn't know what it was just 3 weeks ago, and here I am, already opening my first box!  


My box came from Amber at Creative Upper Grades.  I know I've mentioned her before, but seriously you guys, I was SO lucky to get such a perfect match.  We had so much in common, and during our emails, I found myself telling (and asking!) things I normally may not have to a near stranger.  Seriously Amber, how much fun was this month?  I'm sad it's over so we don't have a reason to email anymore... not that'll stop me BTW.  :)

Here's what was in the box!  It was all wrapped in perfectly SUNSHINEY yellow tissue paper and each part had a sweet note attached.  Side note: how great is that pen???


This collection of things are PERFECT for school, and went straight into my "bring to school when you go there" drawer.  I was running out of notepad pages at school in the spring and intended to buy more this summer - but now I don't have to!  That note pad is perfect for reminder notes, quick notes home, and even grocery lists!  There are also some really cool smelly markers - they were ALL THE RAGE in my class this year, so I know they'll make me extra popular in the fall.  :)



Amber also sent this great roll of duct tape and these highlighters.  We never even talked about how much I like highlighting things - my plan book is a hot mess of post its and highlighter - I love how it looks when I open it when it's all colorful.  Clearly she just gets me.  :)



The note on these two things said "something only a teacher could love" which was SO right!  These clothespins are AWESOME.  They're bedazzled (I love being fancy!) and I'll use them to hang my class rules on my board!  I had been thinking about what to hang them up with, and now that problem is solved! And I never have enough Clorox wipes.  I'm not sure any teacher does!  My school provides some, but I'm always adding them to my grocery list...



She even sent something for my little guy!  How sweet is this construction hat and tools?  I've got to try to get a picture of him in it to send to Amber.  


I'm sending a box this week to Courtney at Ramona Recommends.  I've been getting it all together, and am so glad to see what was in Amber's box - helps me to know I am on the right track with what I've come up with!

THANK YOU so much Amber!!!
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