Day 73 – Parent Teacher Conference Sheets

Today is Halloween, and I didn’t want to be all non-Halloweenie, but when you don’t have kids, and you live in the middle of nowhere, Halloween is kind of just another night. So in honor of having a non-Halloween post, here are some riddles to tickle your funny bone…

What do you get when you cross a vampire with a snowman? Frostbite

What’s a vampire’s favorite holiday? Fangs-giving

How do you fix a broken jack-o-lantern? With a pumpkin patch

Where do ghosts mail their letters? At the ghost office


I thought about doing a Halloween activity today, but most things would involve making a decoration or something, and it is about time to clean up all things Halloween, not make more. So I decided to get ready for Parent Teacher Conferences.

I pretty much hate conference day. By the time the day is over, it feels refreshing to just have a regular conversation with a non-parent human. There is this persona that I put on so that I can make it through the day. I am overly friendly and smiley and have to word things so carefully as to not offend parents of problem children. It is physically exhausting. Usually I make a little note sheet of some positives and negatives to touch on in the conference so that I have a talking point, which usually works pretty well.

Then I saw this conference slip that included a lot more information that my little + – note did not. Forms are hard for teachers to just download and use because different schools do things in many different ways. I like this form because it allows me to fill out the things applicable to our school and classroom.

One thing that will be different this year is to be co-conferencing with my co-teachers. That should be a little relieving because we can share the pressure. It will be nice to have these sheets because sometimes (I hate to admit) the kids all run together and I am not so good at thinking on the spot about how well they are doing. I have some kids for reading group and others for math group and since both things happen at the same table and we do a lot of switching, I, for the life of me, cannot get a handle on who I have in my groups without looking at my notes. This little lifesaver should fix that.

I am also going to send home these little reminder notes because I think they are pretty cute and useful.

Total cost

$0 (but lots of time filling out these lovely things.)

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Day 72 – Peanut Butter Reece’s Pieces Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night in the crazy wind we decided to turn our heat on so our pilot light did not blow out. A few years ago it blew out when a storm blew through, and it was a pretty big pain to get it lit again. We couldn’t find it when we tried to light it on our own so we had to call the gas company for someone to come do it. It was chilly enough last night, so we decided to break down and turn it on in October, even though we usually try to wait until November. I suppose a monster hybrid hurricane nor’easter is a valid reason to turn the heat on a little early. It was nice and toasty last night and things were going well…

Until I woke up this morning to a FREEZING cold house. According to my alarm clock, it was 56 degrees in here. I heard the heat going, but since we have a programmable thermostat, I figured it was on one of the colder cycles for the daytime when we are usually at work. I felt cool air blowing out, which seemed a little weird to me, so I manually bumped the temperature up a few notches. I waited a while and it was still blowing cold air.

This can’t be good news.

We turned it off and waited a bit and turned it back on again…and it was still blowing cold air. I guess that means Sandy blew our pilot light out sometime last night while we were sleeping. No problem…I will just call the gas company and someone should be able to pop over and get it started again for us.


I guess they decided to close for the hurricane because no one answered the phone and when we drove by, all the lights were out.

Lucky for us, we have a cute little space heater. We don’t really remember why we have this or when we bought it, but it usually lives in the back of our closet–the closet I cleaned out yesterday, so I knew right where it was.  I have spent the rest of the day with the heater wherever I am.

I also decided that since my house is pretty chilly, it would be a perfect day to bake some cookies. As we were wandering around town today to check out the damage (in our car of course), we made our way to the new Wal-Mart (I can’t say that without a southern accent like I am from West Virginia) and got the ingredients for these peanut butter chocolate chip Reece’s Pieces cookies.

I found it interesting that the recipe called for vanilla pudding to go in with the flour and baking soda mixture. I suppose it is to make them extra-moist, which is a great idea. I just wonder about that with cookies because usually cakes are supposed to be moist, while cookies are soft or crisp (I prefer soft). I will be interested to see how these cookies are when they completely cool, but I will say that the warm ones I had were AMAZING. I could see myself eating so many of these that I get a stomachache. I am trying really hard to not do that at this point, but it is not even 6:00 yet, so there are plenty of hours left for that to happen.

The recipe calls for Reece’s Pieces, milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. Since I am on a budget and I feel like three mix-ins are a bit excessive, I omitted the peanut butter chips. I do not think that these are lacking anything at all by not having them. It would probably be good with them, but they are still perfect without them. I highly recommend this recipe!

Total cost:

Reece’s Pieces: $1.98

Milk Chocolate Chips: $1.98

Peanut Butter: $2.48

I had all of the other ingredients already. I only used about half of each of these, but since I bought them specifically for this project, I feel it would only be fair to count their full price as the total cost.


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Day 71 – Papillon Scarf

I saved today’s project to do in case we lost power from Hurricane Sandy, but when I woke up to electricity this morning, it still seemed like a good crocheting day.

Some people I know like to make fun of me for crocheting. They actually try to insult me by calling me “Mom-Mom K.” Then they get their 8-year-old kid to also call me Mom-Mom while I am trying to just relax by the poolside. Whatever. I can take it. Some other people I know actually think that crocheting is a valuable pastime…and no-they are not grandmas. They are my age thank-you-very-much!

I found this scarf and I thought that it looked very pretty. I decided to take a look at it to see if I could decipher the pattern. Usually I do not have much luck with reading crocheting patterns because they are abbreviated and there are a lot of things I don’t know. I pretty much know how to do 3 different stitches. Lucky for me, this pattern used only stitches that I already knew.

I started this a few days ago, thinking it would go pretty quickly. It doesn’t take a really long time to crochet a scarf, but I was disappointed to find that I could not do it in just 1 or 2 sittings. I made a couple of spiral scarves last winter, and I was able to finish them pretty quickly. This one is a little slower, but pretty easy once you get started. One tiny problem I had was deciding on an appropriate length. Sometimes I like to wear scarves that just drape over my neck, and sometimes I like to wrap them around in a circle like in the picture of the example. There are also a lot of other ways to wear a scarf, but I wanted to make sure it would be appropriate for different situations. I think that it is a pretty good length. The great thing about it is that if I hate its length, I can always add on or take some off later. (but I doubt that will be necessary)


Total cost:


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Update 2

Day 35: The Goodie Day dry erase picture frames seemed to go well. People actually wrote their food name on them and I don’t even think I heard any grumbles about it. : )

Day 36: Key holder picture frame.

After a while of it hanging in a temporary location, we moved it to its permanent home. It is very cute where it is in our kitchen, and it is a very practical place to put our keys. The only problem is that my keys weigh it down too much so when they are the only keys on there, it severely tilts. Oh well. It is still a cute decoration!

Day 39: Classroom Ruzzle

The kids love this. They don’t quite play it as a competition, but they really try hard to find as many words as they can. Some kids have found more than 70 words. I have spot-checked a few of them and they are legitimate words that could earn you points in the real game. It’s about time that I change the letters so they get excited about it again.

Day 41: Swirl Painted Nails

This was the first nail painting that I really liked. I could see myself wearing this for a while. I wore it all the next day and that evening I was washing some dishes and a big chunk fell off of my thumb. I guess since the paint was so thick, it was easy to peel off. I tried to let it go, but then a little while later I noticed some more was coming off of a different finger. At least it lasted 24 hours.

Day 43: Nameplates for Alyssa and Nick

It is hit or miss sometimes when you give kids gifts that are not toys. I was not sure how these nameplates would be received, but I liked them, so they were going to get them. I was shocked to see how excited they both were to get them. Nick, especially, was super excited. He loved that some of the letters had monsters on them. He noted that some had stars. Then he pulled me upstairs to his room so he could pick out where he wanted to hang it. Alyssa was also excited and definitely liked hers too.

Day 50: Spider garland

I have to admit…I never really finished making the garland. I just recently put what I have into my bag to take to school to hang somewhere, but it is not enough to go around my smart board. There is no school Monday and Tuesday, so putting it up for just Wednesday might be kind of silly, but I probably will (unless I forget, which is quite possible too).

Day 51: The Writing Process Tracker

I. Love. This.

Day 52: Jolie in Glasses and a Scarf

I made this picture the background on my computer. It cracks me up every time I look at it. It also gets a chuckle out of some kids when they see it on my computer screen too.

Day 60: When You Reach Me Download

You definitely should read this book. It is a children’s novel, which is my favorite genre. I really enjoyed it. I tried really hard to buy the books for my students to read in one of my small groups, but they are so expensive.

Day 61: Random Act of Kindness

I got a nice little thank you note, so I think my recipient really enjoyed her gift.

Day 62: Spelling Rocket iPad Download

Alyssa played this today right before she had to leave and she seemed to really like it. It is a perfect level for her…Maybe even a little too easy. I am thinking that it will get tougher as she moves through the levels. I love watching this girl read.

Day 70 – Ghost Pancakes

Since I am the only one in my household who likes breakfast for dinner (except Jolie, but we don’t let her have people food), I took it upon myself to make these ghost pancakes tonight. It was a little more difficult to make a ghost shape than I thought it would be, but these turned out ok. The chocolate chip eyes are what makes them appear ghostly, but I have come to the conclusion that I would prefer my pancakes sans chocolate chips. I cut them off of some of them so I did not get that chocolatey surprise in random bites. This would be a fun Halloween morning idea for people with kids.


Total cost:

$0 (Obviously it cost something, but I don’t know how much pancake mix costs…maybe like $3 but I only used a tiny fraction of the mix; same thing with the chocolate chips. Since I already had the stuff and I did not use any of it up, I would say that it is $0)

Day 69 – Gourd Carving, Ranch Dressing, Mummy Nails

Today’s Pinterest brings you three projects and I have come to three conclusions with these projects. 1. Things that say “A healthy version that tastes just like the real thing!” don’t. 2. I actually can do something cute with nails! 3. Putting plastic fangs into a gourd is such a cute idea.

Let’s start with the gourd thing. The original pin showed it in a mini pumpkin gourd. Since we FINALLY got a Wal-Mart nearby, I decided to go there with all of the other crazies on opening day to do my shopping for the weekend (and for the Frankenstorm that is headed our way). I thought Wal-Mart would surely have some gourds to choose from. I realized that they must not have much Halloween stuff there since they are just opening and most stores are probably trying to get rid of their Halloween stuff. They seemed to have jumped straight to Christmas, which is exciting, but not at all helpful for someone who needed Halloween things. I found a selection of gourds on top of the produce shelves so I picked the perfect one and proceeded to the check-out line. It turns out the pumpkin did not have a price tag or a code to enter, so the manager had to be called. I wasn’t particularly in a hurry, but I just wanted to get home at this point. He called for a produce manager on his walkie-talkie, but no one answered. He asked where I got it, and I told him that it was on top of the produce shelves. His response was that it must have been part of a display that was not for sale. I (invisibly) rolled my eyes at that response because there is no chance that Wal-Mart is displaying something as common as gourds that are not for sale. I patiently waited for a little while, and then I said that it was ok…I was not going to need to buy that gourd. Sadly, I left the store without one of the main things that I had gone there to get.

Lucky for me, my mom is a member of a CSA where she gets a lot of random produce. She gave me these two squashes that looked like they would do what I needed, so I cut one of them up and stuck these fangs into it. Then I placed a few google eyes on there, and what do you know…this squash man is perfect. And it cost me only $1 for the fangs. (I had to buy 8 for $1, but that cost was totally worth it for seeing those cute kids wearing them around my house today and pretend biting things and trying to talk and eat with them. They are funny)


This is where I will throw in the Greek Yogurt Ranch thing. Some people liked it and most people hated it. I hated it. I will (probably) not be trying any more things that say “Healthy version of…” because the chances of it actually tasting good are pretty slim.

The other project that I have been planning to do for a while was painting my friend Tracie’s nails like mummies. A while ago at Michael’s, we saw these fingernails for kids that were decorated for Halloween with google eyes and everything. I jokingly told her that I would paint her nails like that for Halloween since those were just for kids. Obviously I am not a genius when it comes to nail painting, based on some of my past posts, so I was sure that I could not even come close to that level of expertise.

Then I saw this Pin where you can paint white lines on nails, then dots of black and then dots of white for the eyes. I adapted my version a bit from this picture, but I would say they turned out very cute. For once, there are nails that I am proud of and I don’t even get to have them on me to show off to people. They probably turned out well because I wasn’t trying to do it for myself. *Lesson learned*
This Just In: Tracie went to a store and the worker said “nice nails!” Hooray for people noticing the small things!

Total cost:


(which is great if you ask me, since I did three projects today)

Day 68 – Pretzel Bones

I am having a few people over to my house tomorrow, and since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought these pretzel bones would be a pretty cute snack. My internet has been very slow recently, and when I was ready to make these pretzels, the website would not open quickly enough for me. The pin comments did not tell much, but I could imagine that you put mini marshmallows on the end of the pretzels and cover them with white chocolate.  At Christmas I usually make that mix where you put pretzels and Chex and some other delicious treats in a bowl with melted white chocolate and mix it up. I took the same approach with these bones, and it worked pretty well. The only problem was that it did not fully cover the pretzels. I decided that this was something that I was willing to overlook and they are mostly white. (it seems like a lot of these projects that I have been trying don’t turn out quite as nice as the originals…I need to become more skilled at food crafting I think). I am sure they will be delicious though, so that is all that really matters.

I had a lot of white chocolate melted already, so I decided to dump some pretzels into it and have some non-bone pretzels. They look very delicious too.

Total cost:

Somewhere less than $4

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Day 67 – Frankenstein Marshmallows

I have heard about a Pinterest blog where someone tries all these projects to see how easy they are to do and shows how they are not really as easy to do as they seem. I don’t exactly know what this blog is, but I am interested to find it. I felt like that girl today while I was making these super-cute Frankenstein marshmallows. The first problem I encountered was that there were no directions, just a picture. I was hoping there would be some perfect tip that would show me how to get everything to be beautiful, but there was nothing like that. That meant I had to wing it. The original picture showed the marshmallows on sticks, but I chose to skip that unnecessary step. I melted the green chocolate disks in a mug so that it was deep enough to completely surround the marshmallow in chocolate. The problem I noticed was that it was very messy looking and not smooth at all. So then I tried spreading some chocolate on a plate and rolling the marshmallows in it. That worked pretty well, but my fingers kept bumping into the wet chocolate. So after a few of those, I decided to spread it on with a knife. That was what I ultimately liked the best, but I was annoyed that there was no perfect way to make it. I still had smear marks and finger bumps, but they are passable. I put those in the fridge to harden and did some other things for a while. Then I melted a Hershey bar and dipped the tops into it for Frank’s hair and put those in the fridge for a bit. I was not really interested in waiting a while for that to harden, so I probably took them out too soon to put the face on. When I touched the hair, it seemed to melt pretty easily. I don’t know if it will harden in the future, or if that is just how it is going to be.

The next step was to put the faces on. My beautiful mom bought me a tube of premade black decorator icing a few weeks ago. When she gave it to me in a bag of assorted goodies, I was wondering what in the world I was going to do with that, but I gladly accepted it and stuck it in my cabinet. Moms are really smart people. They are good at planning ahead even when you don’t realize that you are planning ahead. That black icing worked perfectly for the faces on these little marshmallows. It saved me from needing to make icing. I seriously don’t know what else I would have done without this stuff. I am sure I would have figured something out, but this was just perfect. Thanks Mom!

Chris and I taste-tested some of the messy first-round marshmallows. I did not have high expectations for these tasting delicious, but they surprised me. I had to stop myself from eating more than one. It is a very interesting combination.


Total Cost:

$2 – Green white chocolate

$1 – Marshmallows

$0.67 – Chocolate

$3.67 – Total

Day 66 – Main Idea Graphic Organizer

After teaching for eight full years, I have learned a lot about teaching children. The greatest lesson I have learned is that everything these kids need to learn is mundane and boring, but it is pretty easy to trick children into thinking that what they are doing is more fun than usual by changing things up just a tiny bit. One time I created this entire lesson where students had to come to me for a problem-solving question, solve it, and get a sticker. They needed to put the sticker on their “treasure map,” and then move on to get another question. After they got 5 stickers (which meant they answered 5 questions), they got 1 last question that was shaped like a treasure chest. All they were really doing was answering question after question, but since I turned it into a pirate themed activity, they were tricked into thinking it was more fun than usual.

That is why when I saw this idea for a main idea graphic organizer using a hand, I jumped at the opportunity to use it. Usually, main idea is a boring skill where kids need to tell the main idea and 3 details. Boooorrrrrriinnnngggg. But now that they can trace their hands and put the information in their fingers, it somehow translated into a semi-fun activity. It is of course, nowhere near the level of fun that the pirate math activity was, but it changes up the monotony of the day and makes things just slightly more interesting. I am always on the lookout for ideas that change up the daily routine.

Total cost:


Day 65 – Halloween Chocolate Bar Cards

Of all of the holidays we celebrate in America, Halloween is low on my list. I mean, I like it and all. It’s just that Christmas and Thanksgiving are much higher on my list. I think I even like President’s Day more because I get a day off. When I was a kid I am sure that I liked Halloween just fine…who wouldn’t like a holiday full of getting candy for being cute? Now that I am a boring grown-up, I could give or take it. I like seeing kids dressed up and I wouldn’t mind giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, but we live in the middle of nowhere so that doesn’t happen for us. The one thing that I like best about Halloween is that it gives the opportunity to make really cute Pinterest projects.

Tonight I made these super cute and very easy chocolate bar cards for Alyssa and Nick. I printed a template for the bat and ghost and cut them out. I traced the bat onto black paper, glued on some eyes and then glued the chocolate bar in the center. It was so easy, and they really turned out so cute.

Total cost:


(I bought the chocolate bars when I made the s’mores brownies back on Day 44. Then the other day my father-in-law informed me he saw them in our fridge while he was helping us let Jolie out while we were not home. I think that was a perfect thanks-for-taking-care-of-my-dog gift since we really didn’t have much other stuff to eat, but he knew I probably had a use for them so he rushed out to the store to buy more to replenish the stock. Knowing where he got them, he could have easily paid $1.35 each for them, but my bottom line cost never changed.)

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