Faithful Friends

stone fox

Over on my collaborative teacher blog, I have a list up with books that all have a dog character. It is similar to the animal book list I created about a year ago, but this new list only lists books with dogs as pets as opposed to any type of animal. I have a student this year who will read anything I recommend as long as there is a dog in it. I think there are many young readers who have the same criteria (Miss Priss is one of them).

The list has books like Because of Winn Dixie, A Dog Called Homeless, and The Incredible Journey. Click Here to view all of the recommendations.

dog book list

In other news, one of my faithful blogging friends nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. It is a way of giving a small shout out to blogs you enjoy. Thank you so much to Cricketmuse for including me! It is always nice to to get a pat on the back.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog in your post (see above).
  2. List the rules and display the award logo.
  3. Include seven facts about yourself (see below).
  4. Nominate ten others and let them know you’ve nominated them (see further below).

7 Facts

  1. I need lots of projects going at all times, or I drive TheRoomDad crazy.
  2. I love mini things.
  3. I typically order my family Christmas cards by Halloween.
  4. A white t-shirt is the base to almost all of my outfit choices.
  5. I hope Alfonso Ribeiro wins Dancing With the Stars.
  6. I love spreadsheets and table (and checklists).
  7. I dislike the grocery store and shop for food only when absolutely necessary.

10 Blogs

  1. An Education in Books
  2. Food Like Cake
  3. Reading with Rhythm
  4. Shoes on the Wrong Feet
  5. This Kid Reviews Books
  6. Raising 5 Kids with Disabilities and Remaining Sane
  7. Cafe Casey
  8. The Deployment Diatribes
  9. Sew Lindsay, Sew!
  10. The Pensive Sloth

Teacher Birthdays and Coffee Cake

sour cream coffee cake center slice

My school has a birthday buddy system among the teachers and staff. It is basically a birthday version of Secret Santa. People who want to participate secretly draw a name from a hat. On the birthday buddy’s big day, the assigned person anonymously brings a small gift (not to exceed $10) and usually a food treat too that can be shared with the faculty.

In honor of my buddy’s birthday this week, I got her a small personal gift and baked a coffee cake that I left in the staff kitchen. The birthday buddy had the first slice honors and then kindly e-mailed everyone to let them know that a treat was available in the kitchen. When I arrived on the scene at 9:47, there were two slices left. Teachers are always hunting around for a little snack mid morning and/or need a bite to tide them over if they have forgotten to pack a lunch. Teachers love having a group snack appear in the staff room or faculty kitchen.

sour cream coffee cake on cake plate

Ingredients

  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 c. sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 2 c. sour cream
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 T. cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream butter and 2 c. sugar. Add eggs then sour cream and vanilla.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
  • Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

sour cream coffee cake batter

  • In a third bowl, combine remaining 3/4 c. sugar, chopped nuts, and cinnamon.
  • Spray bundt pan with Pam. Spoon half of the batter into the pan and spread gently with a spatula to level the batter. Sprinkle 3/4 of the nut mixture on the batter.

sour cream coffee cake center nut mixture

  • Pour the remaining batter over the nut mixture and gently smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining nut mixture on top.

sour cream coffee cake baked

  • Bake for 1 hour. Let sit for ~20 minutes and then invert the bundt pan onto a plate.

Notes

  • Speaking from experience, the baking powder ingredient is important. It is NOT baking soda. There is a difference!
  • Make sure the bundt pan is greased well or the cake will not come away from the pan cleanly.

sour cream coffee cake slice

 

Cookie Decorating Party

cookie party pipe and flow

Last summer, we visited a newly opened cookie and cake decorating shop in St. Louis while visiting Sewing Sister. Sweetology had a wall of sprinkle choices, an entire counter for mixing icing colors, and shelves full of tools and cutters for creating shapes to decorate pre-baked cookies, cupcakes, and cakes. It was dessert decorating heaven.

Sweetology Cookies and Cupcakes

Sweetology Cookies and Cupcakes

Miss Priss wanted a cooking birthday party of some kind– preferably a party with lots of icing and sprinkles. I briefly toyed with the idea of hosting at home but then began scouting cupcake and cooking locations. I started by calling our local cupcake shops who offer party packages, but I learned that the party’s primary activity is mixing the batter and baking cupcakes. We wanted to spend more time actually decorating.

I finally called the Southern Season cooking school near our home, and they worked with me to organize a party with pre-baked cookies and lots of decorating. The staff at our party showed us a pipe and flow technique, so everyone got to use piping bags (so fun) and they offered a variety of decorating materials to top the icing too.

cookie party invitation

The Invitation: I like paper invitations. I am about the only mom who still sends invitations via USPS, but choosing an invitation is one of my favorite parts of planning a party. I found lots of cute invitation options with a cooking or cupcake theme, but it was harder to find an invite with a cookie design. I finally found This Invitation on ArtFire.com. The owner e-mails a proof and then prints the paper invitations and mails them the day after the sample is approved. It is a home business, and it took over a week (8 days) to receive the proof (her store site states she will send a proof in 3 business days). The owner replied to my e-mail inquiries, but the turnaround was too long for my OCD tastes.

cookie party icing supplies

The Cookies: The cooking school had a long table covered in white paper. They had various bright colored icing in piping bags and “looser” icing in plastic containers. They provided small plastic spoons and toothpicks to help with the icing distribution. There were 5 pre-baked sugar cookies in fun fall shapes at each place. The girls received a short demo about how to pipe a design using the piping bags and “tighter” icing.

cookie party icing cookies

They needed to wait a few minutes for the piped icing to set. Then, the guests spooned small amounts of the loose icing into the open spaces on the cookie and spread it gently into the nooks and crannies. As a final touch, the kids could add sprinkles. I forgot to ask what type of icing we used, but I think it was probably royal icing since it hardened pretty quickly.

cookie party thank you favor

The Party Favors: The cookie school had clear plastic boxes to transport any uneaten cookies home. I printed business card sized Cookie Party Favor Card Inserts on card stock and put them in small reclosable bead storage bags (3″ x 5″) I purchased at Michael’s Crafts. Miss Priss added 1 t. of jimmie sprinkles and 1 t. of nonpareil sprinkles to the baggies. It looked like edible confetti! We added one little baggie of sprinkles to each box of cookies. The cooking school distributed a copy of the sugar cookie recipe too.

cookie party thank you favor finished

The Time: We booked the party for 2 hours, but 90 minutes would have been perfect. The girls decorated every cookie Southern Season had, and we still had 30 minutes left before parents arrived. I ended up siting on the floor with our group and playing games like Telephone and the Grocery Store Memory game because a dozen 2nd grade girls who have just eaten boatloads of sugar and have nothing to do is a deadly combination. I actually had to tell several of them to stop licking the table.

cookie party cookie box

The best part of the party was the clean-up. None for me! If you plan a cooking party of some kind, do not try this at home. Outsourcing this party was the best decision I made. If your child would like a cooking birthday, start with the cupcake stores in your area. Almost all of the cupcake shops near me had private event options. Have you hosted (or attended) a cooking party of some kind? What worked well and what did not?

cookie party finished cookies

Fortune Tellers

fortuner teller vocab

If you tell an elementary student to study for a test, he stares at a page of notes for a few minutes and then declares that he is finished. In my 4th grade classroom, if I want my students to do more than passively glance over a review sheet and regurgitate a few definitions without really seeing a bigger picture, I have to strategically provide study options for them. Foldables are always a good idea because students love to work on anything that is a distant relative of a paper airplane, and many foldables provide a study tool that is interactive.

This year, I have been using fortune tellers as one way to prepare for tests and quizzes. The original fortune tellers I made as a child had numbers on the different flaps and after flipping the sides back and forth a few times, you would lift a flap to reveal a fortune. I adapted that idea into a study tool.

I give students pieces of copy paper cut into 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ squares, and we fold. The students write different related concepts on the flaps, so they will be reminded to review the information in a variety of ways. The fortune tellers have the added benefit of a student being able to quiz himself or use it with a friend, parent, babysitter, or other study partner.

Making the Fortune Teller

  • Fold the paper in half diagonally matching one corner of the paper to the opposite corner. Press the fold to make a sharp crease. Open the paper and repeat the other direction. Place the unfolded paper on a flat surface, and you will have a page that looks a little like a kite with two creases.

fortune teller fold 1

  • Fold each corner carefully into the center, which will result in a smaller sized square.

fortune teller fold 2

  • Turn the paper over, so the flaps are facing down. Then, fold each corner into the center of the paper again resulting in an even smaller square.

fortune teller fold 3

  • Fold the paper in half making a rectangle.

fortune teller fold 4

  • At this point, gently place your fingers under the loose flaps and wiggle the fortune teller open, so you have diamond shaped flaps and a foldable that kind of resembles an umbrella shape.

fortune teller fold 5

A Spelling Fortune Teller

  • On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 spelling words. Use words that relate to one central spelling rule or pattern.
  • On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write a variation of the original spelling word. For example, add a suffix to the original spelling word (play on the top and plays on the interior).

fortune teller spelling

  • On the underside of the interior flap, write an explanation of the rule you used when adding a suffix to the original spelling word. In my example, students were practicing the drop the Y rule. The underside of the flap listed what was happening with the letter Y when a suffix was added. In the case of the word play, it ends with the vowel, A, followed by the letter Y. When a word ends with a vowel then the letter Y, the Y stays when adding a suffix. When a word ends with a consonant followed by a Y, the Y goes away and is replaced with an I (cry to cries) When you add ING to a word that ends with Y, the Y remains no matter how a word is spelled at the end (say to saying or dry to drying).

fortune teller spelling rules

  • Students say aloud all of the different pieces of information on the fortune teller. They may look at the flaps to confirm if they are remembering the words and information correctly.

A Vocabulary Fortune Teller

  • On the top of the fortune teller, you have space for 8 vocabulary words. Write words that relate to 1 or 2 roots or prefixes or another central topic you might be reviewing (electricity, geography terms…).
  • On the related triangle in the center of the fortune teller, write the definition of the vocabulary word, the definition of the root or prefix, or the explanation of the key ideas from your unit of study. For example, if you are reviewing the root, numer, write the definition number on the interior triangle.

fortune teller vocab definition

  • On the underside of the interior flap, write a situation or example where the word might be used. With a word like numerical, an example could be numerical order in a book series.
  • On my flaps that listed the root by itself, I wrote additional words that use the root. On the flap for mot, which means to move or to do, I have words like motor, motion, and motel on the underside space.

fortune teller vocab samples

The goal of the study tool is to have students think about information in more than one way. Rather than memorizing a word and its definition, we want children thinking of ways to apply the word. Unless students have knowledge of topics from several different angles, they may not fully grasp a concept. These fortune tellers are a great way for students to review material, but it should not be the only way they study. What are additional study tool ideas? I would love to hear about your favorite review method.

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

roasted red pepper dip

Our infamous event planner neighbor, Ms. Jackie, went above and beyond for her latest party. She hosted an 80s prom night last night in her backyard oasis, Possum Grove. She even rented a dance floor and had a balloon arch photo area. In honor of this big event, I cooked up a new party dip to share with guests rather than making one of my old reliables. This hot and cheesy roasted red pepper dip was better than I expected. I think throwing the bacon bits on the top before baking really elevated the flavor satisfaction levels.

The cream cheese base in this dish reminds me of the Hot Artichoke Dip and the Charleston Cheese Dip, which have always been favorites of mine. If you need appetizer ideas for football watching this fall or are cooking for a cocktail party with friends, I recommend this roasted red pepper dip recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 T. finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-5 sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped (~4 oz)
  • 1/3 c. chopped roasted sweet red peppers
  • 1 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 3 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • Ritz and/or Club crackers for serving

Directions

  • In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise, onion, and garlic until blended.

roasted red pepper dip base

  • Stir in tomatoes, red peppers, mozzarella cheese, Italian cheese blend, and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese.

roasted red pepper ingredients

  • Spread mixture in a greased baking dish. I used an oval baking dish, but a 9-inch pie pan would work too. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese and bacon bits.

roasted red pepper pre baked

  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until edges are bubbly and lightly browned.
  • Serve warm with crackers.

Notes

  • Can be doubled.

roasted red pepper dip bite