Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bag Book Reports-Updated

It is Thursday again, and now I have some photos for you that have to do with one of my previous posts on making Bag Book Reports.

First, I want to share with you a website I found. . .of course, AFTER putting together my project for my students. But for those of you who don't like to re-invent the wheel, here is another site for you to glean ideas from about "Paper Bag Reports."

So. . .here are some of the results of the bag book reports that my students made. Right now they are sitting in the display case at school. (I had two blessing help me put it all together--an amazing HS helper and a very creative mom!) Just to give you some inspiration if you ever try this kind of thing. . . .

In addition, the students gave oral presentations in which they were able to give a summary of the book, explain how each of the items related to the novel they read, talk about their box/artwork, and answer questions the class might have had. I was VERY impressed!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

10 Things I Love About God

In school right now I am teaching the novel study Because of Winn-Dixie. And like every good teacher I have a unit to follow. And like every good teacher, I’m trying to make that unit a little more exciting, a little bit more relevant, and a little bit more applicable to the lives of my students.
There is a part in the book (Chapter 4, I believe) when India Opal asks her father to tell her a few things about her mother. She wanted to know ten things because she was ten years old. Then she went back to her room to memorize these “truths” so she would never forget them and so she would recognize her mom if she ever came back.
I was searching the web and found some activities that had the students making a top ten lists about the characters or top ten lists about themselves. These were great idea, but I wanted something a little bit more creative and unique. Then, this idea came to me in the middle of the night (as most of my teaching ideas do—kinda inconvenient when I’d rather be sleeping). I thought about combining this “top ten” idea with a reflective devotional about who God is to each of my students. So my job for them is to write ten things about God or ten things they love about God.
And to see how that would go, I did one of my own—right then. So this is the result of waking up in the middle of the night and thinking about what I love about God at 3:36 in the morning! Then, when my daughter was napping and my son was having some “quiet time” (which generally entails of him bugging me every 5 minutes anyway! He is currently biking with a broom in hand to destroy spider webs he may encounter), I decided to look for “promise verses” in the Bible to go along with my top ten list to serve as an encouragement for my readers. (Therefore making it a devotional activity!) This is a list of "truths" that I know and can go back to whenever I need!
So here it is:

10 Things I Love About God
(*Note: Verses are taken from the NIV)
1. He loves me!
* “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
* “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. . .and so we rely on the love God has for us.” 1 John 4:10, 16

2. He is faithful.
* “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvellous things, things planned long ago.” Isaiah 25:1
* “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10
* “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.” Psalm 119:89-90

3. He is good.
* “. . . and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, `He is good; his love endures forever.’” 2 Chronicles 7:3b
* “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all that he has made.” Psalm 145:9

4. He is the creator of this universe.
* “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
* “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” Colossians 1:16

5. He is full of grace.
* “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait on him.” Isaiah 30:18
* “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good home, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16

6. He is always there.
* “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3
* “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and tomorrow.” Hebrews 13:8
* “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

7. He is in control.
* “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how God controls the clouds?” Job 37:15
* "You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed." Psalm 119:4

8. He listens to me.
* “He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.” 1 Chronicles 5:21b
* “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

9. He makes all things new.
* “They [his compassions] are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23
* “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you.” 1 Peter 1:3-4

10. He forgives.
* “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.” Psalm 65:3
* “When you were dead in your sins . . . God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins. . .” Colossians 2:13

Monday, April 27, 2009


I have to share a website with you. . .all you who are teachers, home-schoolers, over-achieving parents, eco-friendly nuts. . .or really anyone who cares to read this post. I might just suck you in-- for interest's sake! I happened to stumble upon it and feel it is worthy of great mention! So, read on!

The website is called Think! and her caption is "A program designed to encourage kids to think outside of the box."
(See photo).
Yes, that caught the educational facet of my brain!
Pretty much, this incredible website gives weekly challenges to kids (well, younger kids would probably need some assistance from their parents, but older kids could do it on their own!) to create "something." That "something" often involves using things you can just find around the house, recycled materials or recycle-able materials. (Pretty much, the "go-bug-your-mom-or-dad-for-that-kind-of-stuff" kind of stuff.) That "something" can range from making structures to making edible art.
After you have given the weekly challenge a try, you have a few options. You can send in your photo of it, you can visit the help links the blog gives you, or you can use some of the helpful links to learn more about what you have been challenged to do. There is also one on-going challenge on the sidebar, educational links, contests, recommended books. . .tonnes of great stuff!!! I highly recommend for you to go visit the site and go participate.

Menu Plan Monday

Monday again. . . if you try nothing else this week, try the crock pot one! This Chicken Curry recipe is the best! I don't make it quite as spicy (for the kids) and add an extra apple to the mixture (I just always have them around, I have no idea why!) Leftovers turn kinda soup-y. . .but it's good!

As for last week. . .didn't stick to the menu plan at all. I hate to admit it, but one night it was grilled cheese (with ham!!!), another was mac 'n cheese. Don't look down upon me. . .we all do it once in a while! (And out kids love us for it!) So I will have to try that week over again . . .once. . .

Monday-Greek Marinade on beef skewers, Harvest potatoes, corn
Tuesday- Fajitas
Wednesday- Tomato Basil Soup with Cheese Bread
Thursday (Crock pot Day)- Chicken Curry, rice
Friday-Hamburgers (either at home or out!), french fries
Saturday's Snack-Spinach and Artichoke Dip (see below)
Sunday (Breakfast for Supper)- Plain old pancakes and bacon

The snack. . . we (here at our house) could pretty much live off of this. . . another recipe from my SIL, Ann! (So of course it is good!)

King Spinach Artichoke Dip
(makes 3 cups)

8 bacon strips (make 12 b/c your hubby will eat half of them b/f they get into the dip!)
1 c. finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1- 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sour cream
1 bunch fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
optional: milk, mozza cheese, hot pepper sauce

Saute bacon, onion, garlic in frying pan until bacon is done and onion is soft. Add artichoke hearts. Saute 1 minute more. Beat cream cheese and sour cream in bowl until smooth. Add bacon mixture. Stir. Mix in spinach and Worcestershire sauce. Thin with milk if desired.

Serve with bread chunks, crackers or Melba toasts.

(Note: I saute my spinach until just softened, add a little mozza to make it more "stringy," and serve it with tortillas.Yum).
*Also, I'm on again! #377!

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Grr. . .I had all these great photos and links to add to past Teaching/Tutoring Tips posts. . .and then my computer "wigged" out on me (oh my hubby would be proud of me for using such language!) and they are gone. Grr. . .
Until another time. . .

But I figured I should post anyway.
Because it is Thursday.
And just because I am annoyed, why should you suffer, right?

So I will chat about homework.
(I can tell we are all leaping with joy over this topic!)
I may change my perspective on this when I am working with my own kids on their endless hours of homework, but I have to say at this point, I'm kind of a fan of it. Not loads of it, but some of it. Not the careless practice 20 math questions that won't even be graded or looked at except to say that you did homework. But I am a fan of taking what you learned in school and then applying it in a different setting. That is how you know you've really learned it. (How many of us have gone to workshops, or classes, or even church, and then when we have to talk about what we learned, or even what happened, the brain starts spinning, and spinning and spinning. . .and what did we learn about again?)
And I'm a fan of practicing skills that grow with us, like reading. That is something that we all need to do in life no matter what age or place we are in, so. . .practice it! (and try to enjoy it in the mean time!)

I've taught and I've tutored and I've helped kids do homework, so I get the frustration that goes along with it all too. As a teacher, I feel that I have the responsibility to make homework directions clear. Easy to understand. Easy for event hose not in class today to understand. But as a parent, guardian or that chosen lucky person who gets to help a child do homework, there is also the responsibility to help with the homework. (Notice I said help, not do it with them or for them. Us teachers find out about that--kids love to talk--and doing it for them isn't helping). Helping may be limited to establishing homework routines or positive work spaces, or even be offering strategies or alternative methods of learning. Helping ALWAYS entails being involved.

Carol Meek wrote a wonderful article (in my humble opinion) in the Winter 2009 Christian Home and School magazine (a publication of CSI) with the title, ABC's of Homework Helper Hints. I think all parents, grandparents or anyone who supervises children doing homework should read this and keep these fine tips handy as a reminder of a few of the simple and great ways to help make homework time a success. Carol Meek is a teacher, parent and grandparent who does help with homework and she offers a few tips. I'll quote A, B, and C for you:

A-Always make sure your child has the necessary supplies for the homework (i.e.sharpened pencils, paper, dictionary, ruler)
B-Believe in your child's ability to do the work.
C-Care about your child's homework and care about him or her.

She goes on to give a short, simple, but very valuable tip for every letter of the alphabet. Me, being a teacher, decided to see what words i could come up with for school-friendly word choices. for example: KIDS.

K- Kindness

I'd love to give you all the "descriptors" she followed each letter with, but I might get in trouble for reproducing a published work. So, please, check this article out! It's very short, easy to read, and practical.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

Trusting God in Muddy Waters

This morning I read a devotional to my students about Naaman. (We are learning about the prophets, Elijah and Elisha). The point of the devotional I read to them had to do with falling into temptation as Elisha’s servant had. However, I got caught on a few details before that, when healing happens in the muddy waters.

So here we have in 2 Kings 5 a servant girl in the home of Naaman, the commander of the Aramean army and a man who was very valuable to the king of Aram. The Arameans were known for their raids on Israel, and this servant girl was probably a captive of one of those raids.

For some crazy reason (or perhaps out of sheer desperation) Naaman goes to his master, the king, and asks for permission to visit this man of God. “By all means!” was the king’s reply (perhaps desperate, too?) and he sends a letter to Israel’s king to cure Naaman. The king of Israel is outraged by this request. What can he do about Naaman’s leprosy?

But Elisha hears about the king’s distress and invites this Aramean commander to come to him and be cured. The king agrees, and Naaman goes.

Naaman doesn’t just go, he GOES! He takes along his entourage: his horses and chariots, the gold and silver and clothing. Instead of meeting him at the door, providing this esteemed man with a healing ceremony, or even giving him medicine or medical advice, Elisha sends his servant to the door with a message: “Go wash in the Jordan River seven times and you will be healed.”

I can just imagine how Naaman is feeling right now! I bet you can, too. We have all been there. “And you think you can treat me like that?” Or maybe this one: “Don’t you know who I am?” Or how about: “You are asking me to do what? There? For who again?” Oh, I can just picture it! Those servants of Naaman are doing all they can to get him to go along with it. I mean, what can he lose? At this point, with all that leprosy over his body, he has a lot to loose—everything! He’ll become an outcast! Maybe it will work. Maybe this man of God knows what he is talking about. Maybe his God has more power than we think. An, who knows, maybe no one will recognize a man of such stature going down into that muddy cesspool. Right?

Somehow they manage to convince him, and there he goes. He is washing. . . one. . .two. . .three. . . And finally on wash number seven. . . yep, the man of God was right! Clean again! And such young and vibrant skin! Truly a miracle!

So Naaman goes back to offer all of his gifts to Elisha. Who refuses them. Many false prophets in Elisha’s day accepted gifts for their services. Maybe that was Elisha’s way of conveying to Naaman that it wasn’t him who healed Naaman, but the Lord. Maybe that was Elisha saying, “All to the glory of God.” Maybe Elisha was after the big proclamation of belief that resulted from this “dirty” encounter: that Naaman now recognized that there was no God in the world except for the God of the Israelites. And that his heart had changed in such a way that he would no longer burn offerings to another god but only the Lord.

Maybe I have to learn just like Naaman did. Maybe I need to humble myself to trusting in God even when I don’t want to or when I feel I deserve to be treated better. After all, it is God who can heal. It is God who can bring salvation in the most unexpected ways. It is God who can bring restoration. It is me who can be a vessel for Him and His plan of restoration for the world. It is me who can proclaim God as the Lord to those who surround me. And it is me who can just trust Him and His goodness. Even if that means doing the dirty work or not receiving the respect I think I deserve. If it brings glory to the one true God, well then, I guess you can just bring on the Jordan River!

Coffee anyone???

Anyone want to go for coffee today?

Starbucks anyone???

My treat. . .

Well, not really.
Starbucks' treat!

If you want, bring your travel mug to Starbucks TODAY only and they will provide you with coffee at no cost. (Can you resist all the other goodies there though?!?!?!) Just because they want to be earth-friendly today!

And if you need anything for your garden. . .coffee grounds anyone?
Oh. . .the trend towards being eco-friendly.
(photo from tree services. . .click on the photo for a link)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Here we go again!

Monday- Spaghetti Pie, garlic bread
Tuesday- Ham Steaks, Potato Salad, corn
Wednesday- Breaded Halibut, Rice, Salad
Thursday (Crock Pot Day)- Moroccan Chicken (do I dare try this???)
Friday- Pizza Buns
Saturday's Snack- Monkey Bread (see below)
Sunday- Breakfast for Supper: Homemade Egg McMuffins

Saturday's Snack. . .an any-time-kind-of-snack. My friend, Sue, made this for us on a Survivor night. . .and we liked it a lot. :)
Monkey Bread
from the Lynden Christian Cookbook p. 131
4 cans Pillsbury biscuits
1 c. sugar
1 tsp.cinnamon
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. margarine

Cut each biscuit into quarters. Roll each piece in 1 c. sugar mixed with the cinnamon. Place in buttered bundt pan. Melt margarine with remaining sugars and heat until boiling. Pour this mixture over the biscuit pieces. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes and turn out onto a large plate.

*Note: I never claimed they were a nutritious snack, but a very good one!
*Also, visit for mor menu plans mondays

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter Pictures

I'm not actually so good with remembering to take the camera along everywhere, so this is the extent of Easter that I was able to capture. Auntie Jenny & Uncle Jim and the gang had us all over for dinner, followed by an egg hunt for the kids. Here is the results of that:

Mmm. . .chocolate!
Little Jillian dressed and ready in her ears!
Later we all went outside to enjoy some bubbles. Pictured here is Eli, Ally and the competition for the chocolate eggs--I mean, a few of their cousins/relatives.
Later in the day we took a cold walk (notice the snow in the previous pictures) to the park to burn off some sugar!

And, finally, stories from Auntie Helen before bed!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Dinosaur Day

This past weekend we went to the zoo. . .the Calgary Zoo! Uncle Chad and auntie Helen gave the kids a Christmas present to go to the zoo when we came out to visit, so that is exactly what we did! We went on the day before Easter, so we go caught in the Easter Egg-travaganza . . . which means we got some chocolate eggs and SWARMED by all the other zoo-goers who wanted to take advantage of the finally-warm-weather and the Easter celebration.
We loved it all, but Eli, well, he was looking forward to the Dinosaur or Prehistoric Park. He had been entertaining himself with the a dinosaur identification book during part of our 10+ hour drive there, and Opa had prepared him to go look for the dinosaurs in the "mountains," so he was READY!!! Don't remember the name for this one. . .a Euoplocephalus maybe?
The triceratops. "Everyone knows this one, mommy!"
Um. . .the Seismosaurus? I think?
Another dinosaur, and Eli looking happy as ever!
This was the first dinosaur we saw. Eli was actually kinda scared for a minute because he actually thought the dinosaurs might be real. Lucky for all of us they weren't!The one and only Tyrannosaurus!
A Quetzalcoatlus? Or Pterodactyl?
This is a picture I had to take for his friend Kendra, because "This is her favourite dinosaur, so you HAVE to take a picture! She likes the Stegosaurus the best."

Can ya understand why he might have been kinda scared, if he thought they might be real? These things were huge!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paper Bag or Box Book Reports

Being new to teaching the intermediate grades this year, I was pretty excited about the reading part. . .and the projects that go along with the reading that the students complete. More so, I wanted to find real projects that teach the basic skills that go along with reading a book, but also projects that allow the students to get away from the typical “writing” a traditional book report.

So, I did a little searching around in my college box for notes and projects I had done back then, and then did a little updating from the internet. (Boy, am I a big fan of the internet!)

So here is the latest project in my classroom. Again, this is a project that can be used at ANY grade level. It just needs to be modified slightly. I’m doing one with grade four now, but I’ve done one with grade one students in the past (based on a Theme/Book Week of The Wizard of Oz), and my college project was based on a preschool book. Here is what it is all about:

My Book Bag Project
After selecting and reading a book independently (or as a class at younger grade levels), students get to create a book bag. The book bag will be filled with objects that relate to the book they have read. Each object must relate to the book in some way AND allow the students to talk about the book. This is an easy way to prepare for and give an oral presentation. The bag will be decorated to represent the book as well. This is an easy way to interest the artistic side of your students.

Materials needed: paper bag (lunch size or grocery size, depending on grade level and/or objects) or gift bag or shoe box, items relating to your book, “stuff” for decorating you bag

1. Students read a book. (For us this was an animal novel that we used for a theme-based Literature Circle study.)
2. Students make a list of 5-10 items that relate to the character, plot, theme, setting and so forth. Then go home and collect these items. I have had the students make a list consisting of three sections. First, the students list the item. In the next column, students should write a brief (one sentence) description of how the item relates to the story. In the third column, the students should write which book concept the item relates to (plot, setting, etc). Then, go home and collect the items!
3. When the items came to school, I asked my students to write a small paragraph for each item. The paragraphs were 3-5 sentences long, telling me how the item related to the book (with details—answer the question “why?”) and how the item related to the plot, setting, theme, or characters (with details—answer the question “why?”)
4. Students should edit their paragraphs. You can try partner-editing, self-editing, or teacher-editing. Whatever works for your project.
5. Good copies! These can be written out or typed during a computer period.
6. The next step is making the presentation for the bag and paragraphs. I required my students to decorate their bag so that one side looked like a title page for the book (making sure they included the title, author, illustrator, picture, and their own name). Again, this part is up to you depending on your project.
7. All the items get put in the bag, students practice their presentation.
8. Students present their projects to the class. First, students should introduce their book, talk about he outside of their bag and then explain each item inside the bag.

A rubric will be provided for the students to score their work and presentation.
(When I learn how to add document downloads to this site, I’ll post the rubric taht I made.)

What is great about this idea: Students take so much ownership because the book and the work that goes along with it becomes their project. It no longer is a teacher-directed lesson, but student-directed and student-centred. It is a natural way to teach the various parts of a story, and also a natural way to integrate reading, writing, art. . .with lots of creativity!

Another great thing about this idea: I’ve used a teacher-created book bag at the younger grade levels to pull out items while reading a story, just to give the kids who need the extra sensory stimulation a 3D object to touch in addition to the pictures from the book.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Words for Wednesday (Devotional)

Taking Care of Details

Something struck me as I heard the “Easter Story” again this year. It wasn’t the sacrifice Jesus made for me, yet that still leaves me speechless. It wasn’t the pain Jesus suffered on the cross, yet the thought of His anguish still make me cringe. It wasn’t even the deep love He showed, yet that still leaves me in awe of His gift of grace. This year, it was the details. All those little details.

First, it was in Jesus’ birth. God knew Jesus would be born on that particular day. He could’ve opened up a room in the inn. He could’ve let His only Son rest comfortably in Mary’s womb for a few days longer. Or how about entering the world a few days earlier? But, no. He chose to have the Saviour of the world enter into the world in a dingy stable, with lowly shepherds and noisy animals to honour his arrival. And soon after was the vision to Joseph . . . danger was at hand and God spoke. So they chose a different route home.

Nearer to Christ’s final hours, God continued to take care of the little details. Jesus had been preparing His disciples during His whole ministry. Preparing them for His final glory, but they didn’t get it. Not yet, anyway. But in his final hours. . .God allows things to just kind of happen. He allows the crowds to read about just who this Man hanging on the cross really was. In three languages, so everyone would know. And when the chief priests questioned it, there were no arguments going to be made.

And they cast lots for his clothing. Jesus had been treated like a criminal, robbed of all value, but suddenly his clothing became valuable. Did those who decided to cast lots know the prophecy? Did they have any idea that such an act was actually helping people to believe that this man hanging on the cross was actually “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”?

And the men on the cross? The one guy mocks him; the other asks to be remembered, because he believes Jesus and believes Jesus is the innocent one being punished here. And Jesus saves Him. Just like that.

And there stands Jesus’ mother, along with some other women. And in all of His pain and agony, He remembers His earthly mother, who was, according to Luke 1:42 “blessed among women.” And while she is watching her son, the Promised Messiah’s life come to an end, He took care of her, giving John the task of taking responsibility for her.

And then, because it is the Passover Sabbath the next day, the soldiers came along, broke the bones of the others being crucified, but pierces Jesus who was already dead. Protocol was ignored, brutality prevailed, and scriptures were fulfilled . . . again.

And then Jesus’ body was taken to a new tomb: “Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby” (John 19:42) Quickly, Jesus’ body has to be moved to a new tomb, with a stone rolled in front. And the guarded to prevent robbery. When searching for Jesus, the linens he had been wrapped in are folded, a sign it couldn’t have been robbery. And the sealed stone is moved, even though heavily guarded. All discovered by Jesus’ mother and some devoted women and disciples who had come to bring spices as an act of love and devotion at the first possible minute they could!

All to discover that Jesus is alive! Jesus is risen!

I am struck by the details, because God so carefully takes care of ALL the little details. Each of them working towards His plan of redemption for you and me, each one of them giving us more of a reason to believe in the Christ, the Son of God, each one of them convicting the lost to turn to Him for salvation, each one of them showing an unending love for a sinner like me, each one of them bringing Him the highest glory.

And each one of them reminding me that He is still a God who is control of all the small details today. Even in my life. Even in yours. He is a God who is continuing to work out His plan of salvation and redemption for you and me.

“Is not life more important than food and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds . . .and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable them they?” (Matthew 6:25b-26)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Menu Plan Monday. . .just a little late!

I'm back! And I just had the best visit with my sister, bro-in-law, and niece. I'll post about some of the highlights later on, but thought i would just catch up on my Monday routine.

Monday- Salmon Strudel (see below for recipe), veggies
Tuesday- travelling day--please don't ask what we all ate!!!
Wednesday- mini-meat loaves, baked potatoes, corn
Thursday (Crock-Pot Day)-Spicy Cranberry Chicken Drummettes
Friday- Tuna Melts
Saturday- (snack) yeah, haven't gotten that far yet. . .
White Chocolate Mousse Tarts (see recipe below)
Sunday- Crepes (oh, wait 'til I blog about this adventure!)

So, here is a recipe for you. . .in very bad format. Helen and I made these, I think they come from the Canadian Living cookbook. I have to tell you, if I came across this recipe in a cookbook, I probably would have just flipped on by. the ingredient list looks odd as all combined together. but PLEASE make these!!!! they were SO good. I couldn't eat for the rest of the night cuz i was so full from it. . .because i loved them so much! I even took a picture of it! (Haven't downloaded photos yet, so. . .stay tuned!

And here is a photo. . .not bad, eh???
Salmon Strudels
2 pkg fresh spinach1tsp lemon juice pinch nutmeg1 salmon fillet (11/2 lb/750g)8 sheets phyllo pastry1/3 cup butter, melted wine butter sauce (see below)

Rice:2 tsp butter1 onion, chopped3/4 cup sliced mushrooms3/4 cup vegetable stock2/3 cup water1/4 tsp salt pinch pepper1/4 cup wild rice1/3 cup long-grain rice

Rice: In saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; cook onion and mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add stock, water, salt, pepper; bring to boil. Add wild rice; return to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Stir in long- grain rice; simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or just until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Let cool.
Trim and rinse spinach; shake off excess water. In large saucepan, cook spinach, covered and with just the water clinging to leaves, over medium heat for 8 minutes or until wilted. Drain in sieve, pressing out moisture. Chop and toss with lemon juice and nutmeg. Set aside.
Cut salmon crosswise in 4 pieces; slide knife between skin and flesh to remove skin. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on work surface, keeping remaining phyllo covered with damp cloth to prevent drying out. Brush with about 2 tsp of the butter. Place second sheet on top; brush with butter. About 1 inch from one long side of pastry, spoon 1/2 cup rice mixture lengthwise in 3 inch wide strip. Arrange one-quarter of the spinach over rice. Top with 1 piece of salmon. Fold 1-inch border over filling; fold each side over and roll up. Place strudels, seam side down, on greased baking sheet. Brush with butter. Repeat with remaining ingredients to form 4 packages. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Serve with Wine Butter Sauce (if using). Makes 4 servings.

Wine Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar1/4 cup white wine2 tbsp finely minced shallots of onion1/4 tsp each salt and pepper2/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I might add some garlic too, if I were making it on my own again)

In saucepan, bring vinegar, wine, shallots, salt and pepper to boil; boil for 5 minutes or until reduced to 2 tbsp. Reduce heat to low; vigorously whisk in butter, a few cubes at a time, until thickened and smooth. Stir in parsley. Makes 3/4 cup, enough for 4 servings.

Okay. . .here is your Snack for Saturday

I have to admit that this is one of the desserts we brought to Auntie Jenny's for Easter dinner (along with that trifle from orgjunkie). So I really already made it. Last week. But these are yum. . .and it doesn't look so bad either!

White Chocolate Mousse Tarts
from Ann

2 (4oz) Ready Crust Graham Single Serve (24 tartlets--i used)
1 (6 oz) box white chocolate baking squares (1/3 cup chips =2 squares/ 2 oz)
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk (only a 10oz can--i used)
1/2 tsp almond extract (white chocolate syrup--I used)
2 cups whipping cream, stiffly whipped

In a saucepan (or microwave)over low heat, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk. Stir in extract. Cool to room temperature. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into crusts. Chill 4 hours or until set. Serve with fresh fruit. Makes 12 These are great with milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate too. I have also substituted mint and raspberry extract for the almond.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Words from Wednesday (Devotional)

A Grandparent's Advice

At school, we are getting ready for Grandparent’s Day. So, today I was thinking a little bit about my grandparents. I never lived near my grandparents, but tried to keep in contact with them through letters. I did this ever since I was young. It was fun to get letters back. My Oma was a very good letter-writer. She wrote about everything! She not only wrote letters, but also kept diaries and journals filled with details of all sorts (from life experiences to the littlest detail of the exact temperature outside as she was writing!)

The piece of writing she gave to me that left the biggest impression was a card she passed on to my husband and I just weeks before we got married. We had come to visit her as my Opa was in the hospital, preparing to live with His Lord. She sat by his side all day. They obviously were not coming to our wedding, but offered us a small card with some big advice. She simply wrote some of the words from the following song.

"My Hope is Built on Nothing Less"
by Edward Mote, 1797-1874
1. My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
2. When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
3. His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
4. When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
And her simple advice was this: That our marriage would be strong if we followed these words.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

She underlined with squiggles the last twp lines. That was her way of adding emphasis in her writing. I think she had it right on. And that is exactly how I remember that she lived. Both Opa and Oma lived life very simply. (Maybe even too simply at times!) But they never swerved from that simple truth. Keep God as number one; fix your hope on nothing else; walk in His light, on His solid path.

A few weeks later my husband and I got married. A few days later, a “whelming flood.” My Opa went to meet God. And my Oma continued to live her simple life, standing firm in Christ, her solid Rock.*

Especially now during this Easter season, the words of that song hold so much truth and significance. Jesus’ face was veiled in darkness—He went to the darkness and stayed there with the weight of MY sins on his shoulders. And because of that, because of his blood and righteousness, I get to rest in his unchanging grace. Though I deserved the darkness and death He experienced, His grace gives me opportunity to live eternally with Him.
No sinking sand for me. Just My Solid Rock.

(A video again, with clips from The Passion)

*(By her life and message to us, I also find reassurance from the truth in the words from Psalm 103: 17-18: “From everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”)
*And just another little side note: And as encouragement to any of our grandparents out there: Proverbs 16:31 reminds us that “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life.”

Menu Plan Monday, continued. . .

How cool is this? I'm so convincing that I got my sister (who I am going to go visit) to menu plan for the days that I didn't!!! Hee-hee! And I think I am going to be spoiled by her! She's good. She makes yummy food. That is why I am visiting--for the cute niece and the food. ;)

Friday night: order pizza?? or Salmon strudels with tossed salad
Saturday morning: Spiced Pear French Toast (from Ann), ham and
sausages (breakfast for breakfast!)
Saturday night: Chicken with Corn-and-Pepper Salsa, Auntie's Golden
Fluffy Corn Bread (from Cooking on Purpose from Ann, p.115)
Sunday: Easter dinner...we have to bring desserts: Strawberry Banana Trifle (from 's Easter dinner) and something else, like a key lime deal??? Hint, hint?
Monday: need some time to Monday??
* Ann is our sister-in-law. Now, she is good at cooking and baking and showing food off. . .and everything! And she sent us a great cookbook for Christmas, featuring some of her recipes!

So, not only some menu planning items, but also. . . recipes!
Here are some recipes:

Chicken with Corn-and-Pepper Salsa
*from Canadian Living’s best Weekend Pleasures

½ cup oil-and-vinegar salad dressing (1:1 ratio oil to vinegar)
1 tbsp grated lime rind
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

In glass bowl, combine salad dressing, lime rind and juice, chili powder, salt pepper and garlic; add chicken, turning to coat. Cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours, turning once.

Reserving marinade, place chicken on greased grill over medium-high heat, or on top rack of broiler; cook, turning twice and brushing with marinade, for 10 to 15 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Serve with Corn-and-Pepper Salsa. Makes 6 servings.

Corn-and-Pepper Salsa:
1 can(10oz/284 mL) corn kernels, drained; or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 jar(12oz /340g) roasted sweet red peppers, drained and coarsely chopped
¼ cup oil-and-vinegar salad dressing
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander or parsley
1 tbsp grated lime rind
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp finely chopped jalapeƱo pepper

In bowl, combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate until chilled or for up to 3 hours.

Spiced Pear French Toast
*from Ann

French Toast:
1 medium loaf cinnamon raisin bread
6 large eggs
½ cup sugar
2½ cup milk
1½ tsp vanilla

Spray sides and bottom of a 9x13 pan. Tear bread into small pieces and scatter in pan evenly. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until light. Add milk and vanilla and whisk well. Pour over bread evenly and press down with spoon to make sure all the bread is submerged. Cover with foil, gently pressing down the foil is right on the surface of the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, keeping the foil on the pan, slide pan into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 350°F. After 25 minutes, remove the foil. Continue baking until toast is puffed and golden (about 20 minutes).

Spiced Pears:
2 tbsp butter
2 firm, ripe Anjou pears, cored and cut into chunks
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
dash nutmeg
¼ cup maple syrup, plus some for serving

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat, then add pears. Stir until pears are well coated with butter, then sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Continue to cook until pears begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Pour in ¼ cup of maple syrup and cook until bubbly. Remove from the heat.

To serve: Cut French toast into 6-8 pieces and top with pears. Serve with additional syrup, if desired.

So. . .enjoy! Compliments of Helen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

All Creatures Great and Small

So, like everyone else who experienced GREAT weather this past weekend, we went outside and did some work in our gardens (changing things around. . .all the on-going mess of having a yard and a warm day). But it was also kinda neat to see all the "creatures" that the kids discovered and were SO fascinated by.
Ladybugs. . .
Snails. . .

Slugs. . .
And all the other fun that comes with "playing" outside. . .
like the rides. . .

And the mess. . . :)
UPDATE (May 2009):
*Check out "All Creatures Great and Small,
Part 2"
for more info on these great little creatures! Go to the link HERE.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Late again. . .I just couldn't resist the sunshine today (chalk drawings, biking, pulling weeds, staring at the endless tasks to do. . .). . .and working, and going to the doctor with my little one, yah. Time just escaped me again!

A note on last week. Don't try the Crockpot peach deal. It didn't have a good review. In my case, I realized that I didn't have peaches after all and only apricots, so i tried a CrockPot Apricot Chicken recipe (with some modifications: I added onions, garlic, dried apricots and red peppers to make a kinda salsa-chutney to go with it). I loved it. . .served it with rice pilaf, some bread. . .my husband even loved it. However, my kids hated it. And I have learned, you never (okay, well, not never, really, but in this case, NEVER!) make a recipe your kids hate. . .especially when you are having a week of doing dinners on your own with them. And they are kinda sick. And everyone has cabin fever.
Anyway. . .here is this week:

Monday- Pork Skewers, Lemon Dill Potatoes (from the LCS cookbook, p.64), salad

Wednesday- Tacos with the fixings

Thursday- leftovers (and anything else that might possibly get stinky in my fridge that no one will think to check over the next few days. . .)

Friday-next Tuesday. . .adios amigos!!! Off to visit my cute little niece!!! (well, and a few other pretty important people) So. . .i robbed you of a few days (but as if you don't have plans for an Easter deal anyway! We're coming your way, Auntie Jenny! Gonna bring the kids to give your grandkids some competition with that egg hunt!) On the flip side, EVERY day had a link. . .and there is a picture this time!!! Doesn't that just make you want to eat tacos this week???
I'm posted (along with a bazillion others) at I'm an Organization Junkie again.

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Quilts" Around our House

I asked my son what I should write about (on the computer) today and he said his blanket. He must have been having a "cuddly" day. So, here are a few of the blankets/quilts in our house. This blanket/comforter is the one I made before my son was born. We didn't know the gender of our baby, so i needed one that worked for a boy or a girl. . .and one that matched a few of the sheets I had already purchased. I made ties on it to make sure it stayed secure to the crib, rather than being able to cover the baby in its sleep. Oh the things that are important to you when you are a few months from having your first!
This was a quilt made by one of our aunts for my son after he was born. It is one of those shaggy ones (I know there is a name for it, but I just can't think of it now--sorry!). It is made out of the greatest and softest flannel. He LOVED it! Now we hang it in his room.
This the quilt my daughter received from the MSA Hospital (made by the Abbotsford Quilter's Guild) after spending some time in the NICU when she was born. After 10 days of being in the NICU, the little babies who stay there all receive a quilt. We have displayed it in her room since she was born. This is a blanket that was made by one of my grade one students before my daughter was born. She worked on it all year with a little help from her mom. She told me that she had picked out the yarn and everything (its that beautiful soft kind!) and chose these colours because she did not know the gender of the baby. What a wonderful gift to be given for my baby! (And what talent!!!)
This is our latest blanket. Obviously from the Abbotsford Fire Rescue. . .my husband got it this week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Double Entry Journals

I recently read a book called Grand Conversations, Thoughtful Responses: A Unique Approach to Literature Circles by Faye Brownlie. (The copy I read was published by Portage & Main Press,Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2005.) Being new to teaching grade four, I was looking for some Literature Circle ideas that did not involve a tonne of planning or a tonne of work for me as a teacher. This book was recommended to me as a “different” approach to the traditional Literature Circles. I wanted to encourage meaningful conversations about the books being read and a meaningful type of response to the reading. What caught my eye when reviewing her book was this quote: “Frameworks for response writing should always be elegantly simple! And the types I present here are all elegantly simple” (Brownline, 2005, p. 27).

One idea I gleaned from her book was her “Double-Entry Journals.” She says that this is the most common journal framework, but has many variations. This is an idea I remember learning about in college a while back. Once I started using it in the classroom, I realized how useful a tool it was, and how it can span so easily across the curriculum.

The basic idea is this:
1. Take a loose-leaf paper.
2. Fold it in half.
3. Write the title “What Happened” (or “Events”) on the left side and “My Thinking” (or “Text Response”) on the right side.
4. Start with the “What Happened” side. At the younger grade levels, students can write a summary of the book or story. (At even younger grades, students can draw pictures or make symbols about what the story was about.) At the older grade levels, students can choose 2-3 key events that took place.
5. Then write a personal response on the “My Thinking” side.

This is how I used this idea in my classroom: I gave the students reading time. When the time was up, we prepared our Double-Entry Journal on loose-leaf paper. They summarized what they read about in the “What Happened” side and then gave a personal response on the “My Thinking” side. I encouraged them to think of all main actions they read to use in their summary, and use some of the reading strategies we have learned about (making connections, making inferences, etc) in the response side. We also recorded the book title and how many pages we read to monitor our progress in our books. The beauty of this wonderful idea recorded by Brownlie is that it can be used at all grade levels (Brownlie discusses its use for instruction from grades 2-8, and she gives some wonderful examples of expected outcomes). Another thing—it can be used in response to listening (oohh, I can test listening skills!!!) or student reading (group or individual). The other beautiful thing . . .it can be used in ANY subject. For example, I used this same idea in Bible. After reading a selection from the Bible, we followed the same format. We have also done the same thing in discussing biblical concepts. On one side we talked about “What is Hope” (where students wrote their definitions of the word hope based on the Bible story we read) and then wrote “My Thinking” (where students wrote about what they thought of the concept and how it played itself out in the Bible story). Use this idea in a similar fashion in Theme, Social Studies, Science . . . whatever!

And. . .this is an idea that can be used outside of the classroom. Tutors, parents and teacher alike can use this strategy. Because of the ease of writing about something the child or student is an “expert” on, the piece of writing can then be naturally used for editing and correcting purposes, like correct punctuation, grammar, sentence fluency, and so forth.

Feel free to leave a comment on how you have used this strategy or where you find something like this useful!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Words From Wednesday (Devotional)

Happy April Fool’s Day! Today was a teaching day for me. I really hate to admit it, but I got fooled. Yep, I have to brush up on my skills to detect some of this before I get caught in the middle of a classroom full of kids laughing at me.

One kid even got his dad in on it. I received a note asking for this particular student to be excused because of his grandmother’s funeral. So, like a good teacher, I was all sympathetic and started asking a few questions. How long ago did she pass away? Were you very close to her? How are your parents doing? And just as I began to wonder about this (because the student wasn’t seeming very affected by the whole ordeal and only had vague answers), out came the “April Fools!!!” So much for being the kind and caring teacher this time around!

Among a few other attempts to trick me (yes, there were whoopee cushions!), I couldn't help but sit back and smile at these kids. Amazing how they try so hard to have a good time with it. How they try to work out all these details to make it work. How they are watching for the right moments, choosing the right words, delegating the right people. I even heard one kid say, “No, we might get in trouble for doing that . . . but it could be worth it.”

I wonder what God thinks about when He sits back and watches us. I wonder what God thinks about when He sits back and watches me. Hmmm. “Oh there she goes trying to work it all out by herself. I wish she would just trust me; trust my goodness” Or, “Oh, she is in just too big of a rush to notice all the blessings I had lined up for her today.” Or maybe even, “Oh how I wish she would just pour her heart out to me instead of bottling it up inside again.”

Psalm 121 is a great little psalm to reflect on. It begins with a confession of our trust in the Lord. (A confession I often have to remind myself of—my help does not come from myself or my own strength or anything else that has to do with me. It is found only in Him). And to help me believe my confession, the psalm goes on to remind me how carefully the Lord IS watching over me. He’s not going to let me slip. He’s not going to let harm come to me. He is going to watch over my life. He is going to watch over my comings and goings. And He is going to do all that forever. Maybe it is time I look a little bit more to God, the King of all creation. Maybe its time I put more unfaltering trust in my Faithful Guardian.

Here is a great YouTube link for you. (One day I will figure out how to just post it right here. For now, it's a little too late to be thinking too much about it.)