Saturday, October 24, 2015

Recipe Review - Oatmeal Banana Pumpkin Muffins

Happy Saturday, friends!

Since Luis proposed, I can't think of the last Saturday we didn't have something major to do or somewhere important to be.  Today is the first day in over a year that I am doing nothing with no apologies!  Plus, my back has been killing me since sand volleyball, so I decided to meander through a few loads of laundry and try a new muffin recipe I've been eyeballing on my Kitchen 526 board for a long time.  The recpie in question?  PUMPKIN. BANANA. OATMEAL. MUFFINS.  YES PLEASE!

Fall is basically code for PUMPKIN in my kitchen.  So here's how Mom Endeavors' recipe turned out for me in my little northern Illinois apartment :-)

Here's a look at the dry ingredients:  oatmeal "flour", cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, and I added about 1/4 cup of dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of walnuts that I had on hand.

After mixing that up real good, I added my wet ingredients:  eggs, pumpkin puree (YUMMM!!), two ripe bananas (OHH YEAH!!!), some oil (I didn't have applesauce), and vanilla.  Are you drooling yet?

I greased up my pan and popped these babies into a hot oven.  They made my house smell amazing, by the way.

And presto!  Here's now they came out 20 minutes later!

My rating?  The muffins were reeeeally good!  They were a delicious blend of sweet and savory and just the most wonderful fall treat.  If you've got these ingredients tucked in your cabinets, go for it and give this great recipe a try.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Apocalypse is Approaching: A Lesson for Writer's Workshop

Download the free lesson on my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Whenever Halloween time rolls around, I always find our Creative Writing club and classes looking for themed writing.  I, personally, cringe at the cliched themes for this time of year, but this time, I think we came across something pretty interesting...the apocalypse.

So a little bit about our club first.  My colleague Tara and I run The Ink (creative writing club).  We are a club that meets twice a month - once for a writing workshop lesson and a second time for an open mic night.  The club has been through several other formats and configurations, and we have found that this one works best for us.

So I thought I'd share with you, my loyal, faithful readers, the lesson plan we designed for our writing workshop this coming Thursday.  I've created a nice, clean, and FREE lesson plan with all docs that you can grab on my TpT Store - Mud and Ink..

Part 1 - The Mindmap Jigsaw Apocalypse

  • Divide your students into several groups.  Each group will receive a different "type" of apocalypse to brainstorm about. 
  • Distribute materials to the appropriate groups.  Instruct students to skim through the images, videos, and articles looking for language and images that spark their interest and might make its way into a piece of writing.  "Types" of apocalypse scenarios we brainstormed include:
    • Nuclear
    • Environmental/natural disaster
    • Personal (the "end" of my life as I know it - a breakup, graduating high school, etc.)
    • Zombie
    • Political
    • Biblical
    • Doomsday prophecies
  • Students should record their ideas in a mindmap format (or whatever other format you like)
Part 2 - Whole Group Mindmap:  Bringing the Jigsaw together
  • Bring your crew back together.
  • You, or a student leader, can direct a discussion where each group shares the type of apocalypse they studied.  
  • Take notes on the discussion in a giant mind map combining the ideas, language, and images presented by each group.
Part 3 - The Mentor Text
  • In creative writing, Tara and I have found it fundamental to start every writing task with a writing mentor (thank you Jeff Anderson!)
  • Distribute copies of a mentor text that you like.  The mentor can be thematically connected or stylistically connected to your lesson - whichever applies to what you want to teach!
  • We found this super cool poem from Scott Hightower called Apocalypse Soliloquy.  
  • Read and discuss the poem with your kiddos!
Part 4 - Writing Time
  • Using all of the brainstorming from the mindmaps and the mentor text, turn the kids loose.  Give them about 8-10 minutes to write on an idea or image that they feel strongly about from the day's worth of discussions.  If you're working with a group or reluctant writers (my group are all in a club for writing...they're my amazing word nerds, so there's no pulling teeth here!), send me a note and we can brainstorm some more specific directions! ;-)
  • SHARE!  Always ask your students to share.  We give snaps for lines we love when the students are reading.
  • Keep writing.  Keep writing.  Keep writing

I hope you give it a try!  Shoot me a tweet @misscordes324 or an email at and let me know how it goes!

Keep truckin, friends!


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Meals: Planning, Pinning, Cooking, Shopping,...Who Does What?!

I can hardly believe Luis and I are embarking on week four of married life already...time really does
fly!  It's crazy!

I wanted to share with you all a great system that we've worked out together for meal planning and prepping; this system could work with roommates or a much bigger family, too!

When it comes to planning and preparing meals for the week, there are a few decisions to be made.  Who does the shopping?  What's the weekly budget?  Who does the prepping?  The cooking?  The planning and selecting of meals?  Who cleans up?  There's a lot to think about, and we've spend the past three months in trial-and-error-mode.  Here's what we found out:

  1. It turns out (as I suspected), that I LOVE to grocery shop, but I REALLY LOVE to grocery shop ALONE!! Ha!  I spent several years on my own as a single lady building systems and routines that worked for me, and when it comes to grocery shopping, it's so much better for my family if I do that by myself.  It's actually such a relaxing time for me.  I like to go early on Saturday or Sunday mornings, coffee in hand, iPhone grocery list in the other.
  2. Luis is a picky eater.  He won't admit it, but his pallate is extremely narrow.  For the most part, he likes things plain and mild.  I, on the other hand, enjoy savory, super spicy, and experimental kinds of dishes from all over the world.  Luis would be happy on a diet of Panda Express and Popeyes for life.  So, after I told him no more fast food, I put him in charge of a shared Pinterest board (did I forget to mention that he might actually love Pinterest more than me?  He posted all kinds of cool things on our wedding board when we were planning, too!).  It is Luis' job to find the recipes that he thinks look tasty, put them on the board, and I choose meals from the pins he's shared.  He's waaaay more open minded to food when HE finds it on Pinterest rather than me!  We've had some seriously good meals, meals that we've already repeated, using this system.  Hooray!!  
  3. I also love to cook AND prep.  Luis?  Eh...he respects the work, but it doesn't call him unless it's meat on the smoker or on the grill.  So, I cook.  I prep on Sundays.  And I feel accomplished.  And I need to do these things to feel good for the week, so they're my job.   And it's great!
  4. Luis and I both like to go to bed with a clean kitchen.   When we finish eating, we share in the cleaning/putting away food duties to make sure everything is done before we go to bed. 
All in all, I still do most of the work, but it's not because I feel obligated to, it's because I genuinely enjoy it.  Getting your hubby or family in on the Pinterest pinning part of the planning is sooooo highly recommended!  That part, which I also love, can be the most overwhelming part sometimes, so it's nice to just have 10 to pick through already narrowed down.  Try it and let me know how it works out for ya!

Here are a few from previous weeks that Luis found, we've tested, and we've had multiple times since!  

Have a wonderful fall weekend!