Friday, November 10, 2017

Five on Friday | 11.10

Happy Friday everyone! I hope those of you in the upper Midwest are staying nice and toasty today. We have the day off from school in observance of Veterans' Day tomorrow. So Lew and I went to the farm to spend time with some friends and get ready for hunting.

I'm linking up with Christina this week for another round of Five on Friday and this week's edition is featuring the last five books I've finished. Surprise!

one | Everything, Everything
from goodreads
my review here 

two | Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 by J.K. Rowling
from goodreads
my review here

three | Level Up

from goodreads
my review here
four | American Born Chinese

from goodreads
my review here 

five | Stitches

from goodreads
my review here 

Apparently I've been on a graphic novel kick lately. Take a look at most of these books and I can't wait to hear what you think about them.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Mid Week Book Talks | 02

I'm coming at you this week with another Book Talk. For whatever reason, I've been flying through books. A little background before I dive into this week's book.

In years prior, I've set goals for myself to read two books a month. 24 books. That's not unmanageable. Yeah, right. So, this year I set my goal even lower. 12 books. 1 per month. I expect my students to read at least 1 every six weeks, so 1 every four weeks should work.

And then book recommendations started flying my direction.
And then we started focusing on reading in class.
And then I remembered advice from my Education classes--MODEL READING.
And then I started reading while my students were reading.
And then I finished a book.
And then another.

And before I knew it, I was 12 books into the year and going strong.

So, here's a short book talk on book number 20.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Written in a screenplay format, this story was an astoundingly quick read. I picked it up because I love the original series.

 photo from goodreads
buy book here 

While I'm a big HP fan, I was not a fan of the most recent installment. For nostalgia's sake, I loved seeing Harry, Hermione, and Ron back together after all this time. But, the story was greatly lacking. 

We see Albus on his first trip to Hogwarts and he becomes friends with Scorpius, the only son of Draco Malfoy. Albus gets sorted into Slytherin and from there the story derails for me.

Yes, there was the adventure and the mischief that a true HP installment should have. But where all of the other novels really dug into characters, development, their adventures, and lessons, this merely scratched the surface of Albus and Scorpius'  friendship and trials. It really fell flat.

I'm hopefully optimistic that had I watched the play instead of reading it, I would've been transported back to that magical world.

Even with that hope, I still only consider this a 2 or 3 star book as it was a huge letdown. 

What did you think? Yay? Nay? Or somewhere in between?

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Meals | 02

It's Monday and I'm thinking about our meal prep for this week again. We just came back from a weekend at the farm and we don't have a long week at home again. So, it's going to be pretty sparse around here.

But that doesn't mean that I can't share some meals with you. The first is a family favorite. What's more "home cooking" than potatoes and gravy? If you said, "not much", then you are correct.

Potato Klub

Klub is a Norwegian dumpling with pork and gravy. Many people make it into balls and the meat is in the center. Then they fry it in butter.

We don't make it in balls. It's more of a log. Super appetizing I know.

Here's the recipe:
5 lbs potatoes shredded/chopped
2-3 c flour
salt & pepper to taste
chopped pork

1/4 c butter
1/2 c flour
2-3 c milk/cream
salt & pepper to taste
garlic (if desired)

Mix together and place into a steamers bag and boil until done (approx 15-20 min)

While the dumplings are boiling, make a roux with the butter and flour. Add milk all at once and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir continuously until thickened to desired consistency.

Serve dumplings hot with gravy or melted butter on top.

Baked Oatmeal
We love the baked oatmeal recipe from Joy the Baker. We usually double the recipe and cut the sugar in half. 

I also add raisins, craisins, coconut, and any other dried fruits/nuts we have on hand.

Bake and serve warm with milk.

Mac & Cheese (from the box*)
*because we're classy*

Tonight Lewis had generic mac and cheese, while Kyle and I had Cracker Barrel cheddar/Havarti. And it's one of our favorites.

Since this week is a short week, we didn't have to buy any groceries. I have parent/teacher conferences again tomorrow and it'll be a late night at work for me. So this is our exciting menu for the week. Hah.

Have you had any of these? Let me know!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Five on Friday | 11.3

I'm back with another Five on Friday with April.

one | Halloween

Lewis was the cutest dragon ever!

two | snow

The snow is here to stay. And it was absolutely beautiful yesterday!

three | teething

Lew is teething and it's a pain. I feel so bad for him and there's not much that can be done for him. :( Send some prayers & good vibes our way if you remember.

four | conferences

Teachers, how do you manage parent/teacher conferences and missing your kiddos? We had conferences last night and I barely saw Lew. It made my heart so sad.

five | oven roasted veggies

I'm not usually a fan of beets, but this new recipe from Wednesday was a hit! Find it here. Also, we nixed the feta. As the cook, I get to make those decisions. :)

We're off to the farm for the weekend to spend time with family during Deer Hunting Opening weekend. Wish the guys luck! I'll be back with a new recipe next week.

Happy Friday!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Five on Friday | 10.27

Linking up with April for another round of Five on Friday!

one | snow

We had our first snow yesterday. I saw a handful of my friends who were excited about it. I, on the other hand, was not excited. Fall is my time. I love it. And as nice as it is to layer up and not be sweaty all of the time (summer is the worst), it's SO nice to have a decent fall. Plus, Halloween with a toddler will be chilly. But, such is life when you live in the Upper Midwest.

two | macaroni tot dish

I was perusing my IG stories last night and I found a recipe for mac and cheese tater tot hotdish (WHAT?!). My sentiments exactly. I was stoked. PLUS it was a recipe that was adapted from Molly Yeh's recipe from #mollyontherange. I love this cookbook and you will too. Order it on Amazon here.

When I saw this recipe on IG, I did a Kimmy Schmidt and was all "What in the ham sandwich?!". For reals. How have I never thought to put tots on top of my baked mac & cheese?! That being said, it's on our menu for next week. Here's a screenshot from Sara at Cake over Steak that I took so I could remember the recipe. Hah. And now that I've found her, I plan to continue reading her blog. #love 
I mean, c'mon. How cute is that?!

three | workouts

I've decided that on the nights where Kyle works until 8, I'm going to work out. Yeah, I know. So. Much. Fun. And last night I really wasn't feeling it. But I knew that I'd feel better if I did. So, off to the basement to get a short workout in.

I dug up this oldie from the annals of YouTube. Which reminded me of my freshman year of college. There were MANY nights where Alyssa, Mishawn, and Charissa would do these workouts in our room. I may have joined in a time or two. But, man. Look at the quality.

I was able to get in 8 min abs, 8 min arms, and half of 8 min buns. #workoutchamp #yeahright

four | Halloween

Halloween is coming up and Lewis is going to be a dragon. Kyle suggested that I not post any pics until Halloween and even though I have a SUPER cute/hilarious pic of him in his costume, we'll wait to show him off until next week. But let's just say, he's going to be a super cute dragon.

And I was able to score his costume at one of my favorite stores, TJ Maxx. And for only $20, it's a costume that will hold up for more than one kid! #momjoys

Here's our little Charlie Brown from last Halloween to tide you over until next week.

five | what fall means

October is almost over and that means that deer hunting is nearly upon us. My family has hunted for my entire life and I'm soooo excited that Kyle has joined in on the tradition. So for the next three weekends, we will be traveling home to hopefully score some deer to put in our freezer over the long, chilly winter. Send your happy vibes our way! And I can't wait to put Lewis in more blaze orange and Carhart. #hearteyesallday

And with that, it's Friday again and I can't wait to spend time with my sister tonight. I hope you all have a safe and fun weekend. See you next week!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mid Week Book Talks | 01

I think I'm going to start a new series. It won't be a weekly thing, but when it happens it's always going to be on a Wednesday. How's that for a refreshing idea? L to the O to the L.

Many of you probably already know this, but I teach English to rambunctious high schoolers. And what many of you probably don't know, is that this year is different for me because my class and curriculum heavily focus on literacy. While I know that technological literacy is important, it's not included in the literacy in my classroom.

We focus on reading books.
We focus on reading quotes.
We focus on reading.

 This year has been HUGE for reading growth for all of us, myself included. (more on that another time)

Instead of giving you the saga of a background, I'll be giving you a book talk similar to the book talks we have in class. The only difference? You have to read it instead of listening to it. Sorry, I'm not up for doing a vlog series...yet.

I'm not a big fan of graphic novels, but this one stuck out to me.  It was the summary in conjunction with the cover that drew me in.
Image result for stitches david small
photo from Goodreads
Buy the book here
David is a young boy of a dad who is a radiologist who gives him "treatments" for his asthma issues and an angry mother. At age eleven it's discovered that he has a growth on his neck and he needs surgery to remove it. Following the second (surprise) surgery, David discovers that he is unable to talk; half of his vocal cords were removed in the surgery. 

David was a quiet boy before the surgery and afterward, he's silent.

The book leads up to the surgeries and illustrate the struggles he had with family and how he dealt with his anger afterward.

It's a darkly told version of a sad story. If you're looking for something out of your comfort zone and a quick read, this is a great one to try. Give yourself 2 hours and if nothing else, you'll have another book notch in your belt.

Let me know if you read it and what you think of it! I even give it 4 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What Lewis Wore | Henry + Claire

One of my new favorite children's online boutiques is Henry + Claire. Months ago, I won a giveaway on H+C's IG page. I wasn't entirely sure what to use my shop credit on, but then I saw the rompers. And O.M.G. They are so cute.

Lewis' first H+C romper is so cute and I loved it so much that he wore it for his one year pics.

And then, just a few weeks ago, H+C had a mystery grab bag sale on TWO mystery rompers. I jumped on that quick. Here they are:

Les Petit Monstres

I love them both. They're both sooo soft and I just want to snuggle Lew all day long when he's wearing them. The mustard is SO cute and Lewis wore it to the pumpkin patch this weekend, but the top was covered by a sweatshirt since it was so chilly.

Henry + Claire is one of my new favorite online boutiques and I can't wait to save up some more $$ to order more. This is not a sponsored post, I just love these rompers.

Head on over to their site and there's a promotion for 15% off your first purchase! Happy shopping!

Oh, and Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Monday Meals | 01

Well, it's another Monday and the week is off to a busy start. I always have staff meetings on Mondays and when they're in the am, the day seems to fly by so much faster. Today is one of those days. But, I'm not here to give you a play-by-play of how fast or slow my day goes. Today I'm going to share three quick meals that you can use in a bind.

I chose three, because that just so happens to be what I had planned for this week's Monday. So why not give you some ideas for the upcoming week?!

It's a short school week for me with it being fall break, but quick and easy are our go-tos lately. Lewis has to eat between 5:30 and 6 or else he's a monster. Here they are!

Egg Roll in a Bowl

This is one of Kyle's new favorites. I first heard about it from April over at Smidge of This. It was also one of her Monday Meals a while ago. Here's how it goes when I make it: 

1 pound ground pork 
1 1/2  – 16-ounce bag coleslaw mix (shredded carrots and cabbage) 
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon ginger, minced or grated
⅓ cup low sodium soy sauce 
2 tablespoons sesame flavoring oil 
Green onions, for garnish (optional) 
*and if you like a little kick, add 1-2 T Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce*

Here's the thing...the sauce goes a LONG way. The original recipe calls for 1 bag of slaw mix, but it gets too soggy for my taste, so 1 1/2 it is. 

Also, I add chow mein noodles to the top of my bowl for a little extra crunch.  

The longest part of the process is browning the pork. It takes approx 5 min to prep and should be on your table in less than 20 min.

serves: approx 6

Hoisin Chicken and Veggies
This is also a new one for us. I wanted a one pan meal and it kind of worked. It was easier for me to roast the veggies in one pan and the chicken in another. 
Here's our version with modifications:


2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4-5 small/med red potatoes, halved or quartered
2 large carrots, sliced
1/2 head broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1/2 head cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste 
1/3 onion, in chunks
For the sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated or minced ginger
1/2 tablespoon corn starch

Toss veggies with olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast at 400 or 450 for 15 min, turn over, drizzle 1/2 sauce over top and cook until tender enough.
Bake chicken breasts at 400 or 450 until done. Cover with remaining sauce when almost done.

Serve alone or over rice/quinoa
Serves: approx 6
Prep Time: 15-20
Total Time: 60 min

Spaghetti w/Homemade Tomato Sauce

6-8 roma tomaotes, quartered
1/2 white onion
2-4 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 c red wine
2-3 T evoo

1 lb ground beef
1/2 box spaghetti

The night before, coat tomatoes, onlion, and garlic in olive oil, add red wine and roast for 30-40 min at 400 deg. Let cool for 10 min, then puree and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 year.

The next day, brown your hamburger, heat up your spaghetti sauce, and cook pasta according to preference. 

Serves: approx 4-6
Prep Time: 15 min
Total Time (including roasting): 60 min

This is just a glimpse into our menu this week. The rest of the week consists of pumpkin pancakes, chicken in the smoker w/quinoa or rice, homemade pizza, and at least 2 batches of scrambled eggs. 

If you try these and modify, have suggestions, or love as is--please comment below!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Writer's Block

Here's the thing. For the last two years, I've had built-in, monthly posts for you all. I was either pregnant or had a new baby. So now that Lewis is one and I'm not pregnant now, so I'm stuck on what to write about. I currently have five, yes five, started, but not completed posts.

FTM favs
Camping at McCarthy Beach State Park
Lew at 10 & 11 months
Why I love my Chiro
and a post on worth

What do you think? Do any of those sound awesome? Are they all terrible?

Like I said, I'm stuck. Sure, I'm a mom and a teacher, but I don't want everything I write to bombard you with teaching and mothering. I'm also not a fashionista. So, please don't request OOTDs (I hate that I even wrote that)...or make-up tips (when was the last time I wore make-up?).

Help a girl out. Thoughts? Suggestions? Affirmations? Criticisms?

And here's what our house has been busy with this early Christmas present from Great Grandpa and Gigi.

Oh, and Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

I'm still here. Quick Updates.

I'm just now realizing that I've not been good at all about writing lately. We've been so crazy busy with the getting into the swing of things with work and daycare and new jobs, that I've not even thought about sitting down to write.

But alas, here I am. And we're still around and we're still thriving. Here are 5 updates on our lives.

1. Kyle got a new job. He's no longer in the teaching career. It was a great 5 year run, but he's moved on to sales. Cars, to be exact. So if you're ever in the area or you're needing a new (or new to you) vehicle, call him up. Word on the street is that they can ship you a car too. Who knew?

2. I'm in the midst of the beginning of year 4 at my current school and our first semester is almost over already. Plus I just celebrated my birthday, so I'm starting to feel a little nervous about the big 3-0 in not so many years. I know, I know. Inevitable.

3. Lew is growing like crazy and he FINALLY cut his third, yes, THIRD, tooth yesterday. It's been a long 4 months. And he's started walking...just a little. But it's walking nonetheless.


4. Karli has taken to retrieving these days....diapers from the garbage can...and hoarding them in her kennel. *gag me* And she still pees on the floor when she's scared or excited. *yay*

5. Gus is getting huge and he now has his big dog teeth (yay no more puppy teeth!) and he likes to chew on my shoe laces. *Thanks Merrell for sending me a replacement pair!*

We are doing well and trying to stay sane with two puppies and a toddler, but if you think of it, pray for our sanity anyway.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

He's ONE!

Wasn't it just yesterday that I looked like this...

40 weeks

 41 weeks + 1 day (induction day)

And then you were here! Granted, it was a little more work than that. And if you've not read Lew's birth story, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

But he's here and has been for an entire year. How is that possible?? He's our favorite little boy and we are so thankful to have him in our family.

Lewis still loves to eat...anything and everything. Including dog food. He loves his Papa (my dad) the most. He is a champion sleeper...taking two 2 hour naps per day AND sleeping 10-12 hours per night.

He only has two teeth and pictures don't do it justice, but he really does have hair. It's just super blond.

He's still a peanut, but there's a lot of personality, adventure, and spunk in that little boy. We love you so much and are SO excited for year two.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

9 Months: Lewis

On Tuesday, May 2, Lewis was 9 months old! Wow! I'm sorry that you really only get updates once a month...but I promise, I'll try to get better.

He weighed in at a whopping 15lbs 10oz (first percentile) and measured 71cm (approx 28"--33rd percentile).

He loves crawling (or scooting) around and will sometimes bear crawl...Mom is worried that he's going to decide to walk out of the blue one day.

Other loves: food, any and everything...(bananas, kiwi, prunes, apples, squash, peas, spaghetti, green and red peppers, oranges, grilled chicken, fruit popsicles, ice cream, yogurt, Cherrios, veggie straws, oatmeal [baked and the regular], coconut, peanut butter, eggs [most days], sausage, hamburger, avocado...the list could go on), baths, walks in the stroller, drinking water from his Camelbak, letting the puppy chew on his fingers and toes, and I could keep going.

Things he hates: waking up from naps, taking baths when he's tired, being able to hear Mom but not seeing or being held by her,'s the funniest thing ever, the puppy when he is tired, and I'm sure there are a few more, but he's really a pretty easy going baby.

As always, I'll end on a thankful note. We are so thankful for Lewis and the addition he's been to our family. I love watching him grow and even moreso, I love being his Mama.

And finally, what sorts of things should Lewis be asking for for his birthday? It's right around the corner. OMG(osh).

Happy 9 Months, bud!

And Happy Thursday, all!

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