Tuesday, February 28, 2012

27 before 27 Update: 3 months to go


Here we are again at the 28th of the month... time is flying by!  Here is my updated list.  I've got to blog about some of the individual things, but I think I've made progress this month. 


27 Things To Do Before I Turn 27

  1. Get a handle on the paper clutter in my house. - No more progress. 
  2. Make all As and Bs in my classes for the Spring 2012 semester. - A little tougher than I thought... currently feeling very overwhelmed. 
  3. Make at least $500 profit from selling Tupperware. - I've had 2 Tupperware parties.  Total profit is right over $200 right now.
  4. Actually make or do 10 things that I have pinned on Pinterest. (Half Done)
    1. Felt Flower Wreath
    2. Cupcake Stands
    3. Basket Weave Cake Decorating
    4. Bear Hugs Valentines
    5. Wiffle Ball Rose Balls
  5. Go through my closet and throw away/donate/sell things that I no longer need or wear. - Not started. 
  6. Set up Home Office/Craft Room. - Hopefully making progress on this over Spring Break next week. 
  7. Read 10 books. - I've read 5 so far.  (Half Done)
    1. Belle Weather
    2. More
    3. Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun
    4. Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride
    5. The Single Woman's Sassy Survival Guide: Letting Go and Moving On
  8. Try 10 new recipes. 
    1. Snickerdoodle Cake
    2. Pepperoni Roll Ups
    3. Southern Biscuits
  9. Watch the entire Sex and the City series in order.  (Including both movies.) - I've started on Season 1. 
  10. Take a winery tour. - Right now, the plan is to go next week during Spring Break. 
  11. Put money into savings every paycheck. - I've had 4 pay checks, and I've put money into savings every time. 
  12. Throw my Daddy a 50th Birthday Party. - Party scheduled for March 11.  Invites are out... pulling last minute details together. 
  13. Lose (at least) 20 pounds. - I'm down 7.8 pounds as of Saturday. 
  14. Quit smoking… for real this time. - No progress. 
  15. Go on a first date. - No progress
  16. Wear a dress everyday for a week. - I haven't decided what week this will be yet. 
  17. Finish my Alphabet Blog Series.  - I have some posts in drafts, but haven't completed any of them. 
  18. Turn in a school assignment a whole day before it is due. - Done.  Actually more than one.  I've taken several quizzes in my online class days before they were due. 
  19. Blog at least twice a week, every week. - Still on track.  I've officially blogged more in the first two months of 2012 than I did the whole year of 2011. 
  20. Have a picnic. - Not yet. 
  21. Have people over for dinner. - I need to clean my house first. 
  22. Go a week without Twitter or Facebook. - Not yet. 
  23. Drink 70 gallons of water.  (8 cups of water per day for 140 days) - Still sticking to this... I need to count up how many gallons I'm at. But I've only missed a few days of making 8 cups. I'm gonna have to double up some days to make it, I think. 
  24. Send 5 people Birthday cards through the mail. - Not yet. I keep forgetting about this one... I need to get on it. 
  25. Cook dinner for my whole family, including dessert. -Done.  I just realized that I need to blog about this.  
  26. Finish the photo album for my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary party.  (It was almost 5 years ago!) - Not yet. 
  27. Blog about my progress on this list.  - So far, so good! 
So, I have 2 things completely done, with good progress on a lot more of them. By next month's update, a lot more of them will be finished. 


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Teaching Thursday: Learning Spot Lessons by Carson-Dellosa and a Giveaway!

I am so excited about this week's Teaching Thursday post!  A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to sit in on a blogger's preview of the new Learning Spot Lessons by Carson-Dellosa Publishing. These are brand new units for Interactive White Boards!  Each unit contains 3-5 interactive lessons, as well as lesson plans, printables and various extension activities. 

I have long been a fan of Carson-Dellosa.  When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in teacher supply stores oohing and ahhing over all of the things that I wanted in my classroom when I became a teacher.  Many of the things that I dreamed of having were from Carson-Dellosa.  They are known for their bright, colorful clip art and bulletin board sets, their wonderful teaching resources such as workbooks and games and various other classroom supplies.

Last semester during my practicum, my clinical teacher got a SMART Board in her classroom.  I fell in love!  I loved that it was interactive and that there were so many things that you could do with it.  I quickly adapted most of my lesson plans so that we could use the new technology.  It is no secret that I love technology, and any way that I can incorporate it into the classroom is great. However, it was a little time consuming coming up with interactive lessons that we could use with the SMART Board. 

This is why I am so very excited about Learning Spot Lessons from Carson-Dellosa! These are units designed for use with Interactive White Boards.  However, if you aren't lucky enough to have one in your classroom, they also work with PCs and Macs.  You can project them from your laptop or classroom computer.  The units were designed and tested by real classroom teachers.  Their pilot program had about 200 teachers from all across the country participate and give feedback on the units. 

Carson-Dellosa really designed these units with teachers in mind.  They are Common Core aligned!  You can enter your state and it will give you the objectives that correlate to the lessons.  The units also give you ideas and suggestions on how to differentiate instruction for the students in your classroom.  Have ELL students in your classroom?  No problem... they thought of that too!  The student activities have multilingual audio directions in English, Spanish and French! 

As part of the blogger's preview, Carson-Dellosa provided me with 2 free units to try out and test so that I could really get a feel for them.  I chose a unit on Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives and another on States of Matter. I love that they are colorful, interactive and fun!  I can see a lot of uses for these units in the classroom.  You can use them with the whole group, small groups, or for individuals.  I like that the units include printables that can be used as independent practice or for homework.  These units are so much more than just Interactive White Board lessons.  I can't wait to actually use one in a classroom setting.  I know the students will enjoy them.  

Right now, if you download the Learning Spot Library (the software that runs the lessons) you will also get a FREE unit! You simply go to www.cdlearningspot.com and it will walk you through the steps to download and get your free unit.  Right now, Carson-Dellosa has 35 units available for K-2.  They are introducing new units every month, and will soon have 3-5 units available! Check out all of the units available here.

Carson-Dellosa Learning Spot Lessons Giveaway
Not only did they provide me with free units, but Carson-Dellosa is giving one of my lucky readers 2 free units as well!  This is in addition to the unit that you get for downloading the software!  So... you could have 3 free units to get you started! 

Giveaway begins Thursday, February 23.  All entries must be received by 10 pm EST on Wednesday, February 29.  Winner will be selected at random, and announced on Thursday, March 1.  Each comment (not including replies) counts as an entry.  You must leave separate comments for each entry.  Please include an email address in your comments. 

Required
  • (1) Entry: Leave a comment telling me what grade you teach and which unit you are most interested in. 
Optional (Additional Entries):
  • (1) Entry: Like Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company on Facebook, and leave a comment telling me that you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Follow me (@crystal_dunn) on Twitter and leave a comment telling me that you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Follow Carson-Dellosa (@CDPub) on Twitter and leave a comment telling me that you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Follow Carson-Dellosa on Pinterest and leave a comment telling me that you did. (You will not be sorry-- their Pinterest boards are an awesome collection of teaching resources!)
  • (1) Entry: Tweet the following: "Enter @crystal_dunn's Giveaway of 2 Learning Spot Units from @CDPub: bit.ly/xkUWIE" and comment telling me you did. 
You can have a total of 6 entries!  Good Luck!  I can't wait to see how you like Learning Spot Lessons from Carson-Dellosa! 



Disclaimer: Carson-Dellosa provided me with 2 free units to review for this blog post.  They also provided me with 2 free units to give away to a reader.  All thoughts and opinions about the units are my own.  No other compensation was given for this review. 




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tupperware Tuesday: Microwave Pasta Maker


Before, we get to today's featured product, I need to announce the winner of my first ever blog giveaway from last week!  I'll admit, I was hoping for a larger response, but I'm thankful that anyone took the time to comment!  Since there were only comments from 5 different people, I decided to just chose a random winner from the 5.  Here is the number that random.org chose.

So, if you look at the comments in order from oldest to newest, the winner is... Katie! Congrats Katie!  We will be in touch about your prize!  Be on the lookout for more giveaways soon! 

Today's featured product is the Microwave Pasta Maker.  I LOVE Pasta.  I eat a lot of it, because it is quick and cheap.  I was so excited when Tupperware released the Microwave Pasta Maker.  This makes cooking pasta even easier!  It is so simple to use, and I love that you can cook, strain and serve in the same dish.  At my Tupperware party last week, I demoed this, and we actually cooked spaghetti during the party in only 12 minutes! So simple.  I love that I can have pasta quickly and not even have to turn on my stove. 

Last year, Tupperware held a contest for Consultants to enter a video about the Pasta Maker.  I entered, and while I didn't win, it was such a fun experience!  Here is my video: 


I don't think that I will be going into infomercials any time soon!  I've used this product to cook a variety of pastas... spaghetti, penne, cavitappi. macaroni... and they all work well!  

What is your favorite pasta dish? 


Monday, February 20, 2012

Music Monday: PS 22 Chorus



I'm not sure what rock I've been hiding under... I don't think that I'd heard about the PS 22 Chorus until last week... but now that I have, I've been listening to them a lot! These kids are awesome.  They do wonderful covers of songs, current and older songs too... Their director seems like an amazing person.  The amount of talent that these kids have is unreal.

For your listening pleasure, here are some of my favorite videos from them.

Tribute to Whitney Houston - The Greatest Love of All

Adele - Rolling In the Deep

Denise, the soloist in this video, was actually featured in a Target commercial during the Grammy's. 

Paul Simon - Bridge Over Troubled Water


I can't wait to see what some of these kids end up doing.  The Chorus has been around since 2000.  The impact that this choral director is having on these kids is outstanding.  If anyone can watch this and still make an argument for cutting the arts out of schools, they don't have a heart. 


Friday, February 17, 2012

Pinterest 5/10: Rose Balls

Last weekend, I decorated for and directed a wedding.  For the centerpieces, the bride wanted balls of roses on top of vases.  The logical way to make these would be to use styrofoam balls and stick the flowers in there, but I had seen a different way on Pinterest, and since we were using silk flowers, it would work well. The idea was to use wiffle balls to glue the flowers in the holes.

Inspiration Pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/6051780719154256/

My creation:





It worked very well!  It was a lot cheaper too.  A pack of 2 styrofoam balls is about $5.  I got a pack of 8 wiffle balls from Walmart for $5.  Just pulled the flowers off the stem and hot glued them in the holes.  Very clever idea! 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Teaching Thursday: My Teaching Philosophy

Teaching is a big part of my life.  For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a teacher.  There was a time when I thought I had changed my mind, but I realized that teaching is my passion, and it is what I was "called" to do.  Since I am in school now to finish my teaching degree, I am finding lots and lots of ideas and methods to use in my classroom one day.  Teaching Thursday will be a place that I can share those thoughts and ideas with you, and so that I can have them in one place for future use as well. 

I had planned to do another post today, but was asked to hold off on that one until next week, because it was about a brand new product that is coming out for teachers, and the company pushed the release date back.  So, I had to start thinking of something else to post for today.  I decided that it would be good to start this whole Teaching Thursday blog series with my own Teaching Philosophy.  We had to write it in one of my classes last semester, and I really enjoyed putting into words what I believe about teaching and learning.  This document will always be a work in progress, but as of right now, this is my Teaching Philosophy. 

            I believe that all children are unique and possess the capabilities to learn and to contribute to society.  My job as a teacher is to ignite a child’s passion for learning, so that their enthusiasm for education and growth continues for a lifetime.  I will help shape children into becoming an educated contributor to the world around them.  Although each child is different, they all deserve the same respect, encouragement and guidance.  In my classroom, I will provide my students with a safe and stimulating environment that will focus on creating a community of learners.  In our classroom community, we will support each other to be the best version of ourselves.
            When a student enters my classroom, they will know that they are coming to a place where they are wanted and appreciated.  School should not be a place where children dread going.  It should be a place where students want to spend time with people that value them as the exceptional individual that they are.  It should be a place where students feel respected and encouraged.  In our classroom community, we will embrace individuality and promote togetherness.
It is important that I act as a role model for my students and show them that I am excited about my job, so that they will be excited about theirs.  I will strive to demonstrate to my students that as their teacher, I will always have their best interest at heart. As the student, the children should show me that they are ready to learn and accept the challenges that are given to them daily.  In our classroom community, everyone will know their role and what is expected of them.
            In order to accommodate many types of students, I will differentiate my instructional practices.  I know that students learn in different ways, and it is important to find what works best for the students in your classroom.  If a student does not understand a concept that is being taught, it is my hope that they will feel comfortable in sharing that with me so that I can teach it to them in a different way.  In our classroom community, we will be open and honest with each other about our thoughts and feelings.
            All communities must have rules and order to be successful.  I will provide my students with a clear set of rules so that they always know my expectations.  The students must also know that if they do not follow the rules that there will be consequences.  Molding children into responsible adults is not only about teaching content, but about teaching life lessons as well.  In our classroom community, we will have orderly conduct to create an atmosphere that is conducive to learning.
            If everyone gives it their all, we can be successful.  As the teacher, I must pour all of myself into providing my students with the best education possible.  The students must always do their best in order to gain the most out of the lessons being taught.  With a common goal of learning in mind, and continued support and encouragement, I will be a successful teacher, and my students will be successful learners.  In our classroom community, we will always give 100%.

So there you have it... my Teaching Philosophy.  Maybe that will give you a little more understanding about where I am coming from.  I think that its a good way to begin this blogging series.  This series will probably change a lot over the next few months, as I continue in school, and eventually becoming a teacher.  


PS: Don't forget to enter the Tupperware Eco Water Bottle Giveaway! 



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tupperware Tuesday: Large Eco Water Bottle and a Giveaway!


So, I'm starting a new little feature here on the blog (a lot more of these coming soon...) called Tupperware Tuesday.  Sometimes I will feature a product that I love and use or talk about specials and promotions.  It gives me a little time to devote to the business and to let you know a little more about our products.  So, to kick off this new (hopefully) weekly feature, I'm doing a Giveaway!  Details below... But first, today's featured product. 

Since I've been drinking a lot more water lately as part of my 27 by 27 List, my Large Eco Water Bottle has become my best friend. Tupperware offers this water bottle in 3 sizes, but I use the large one the most.  It holds  1 Liter, so I drink 2 of them full of water a day, and I have met my water intake goal.  I take my water bottle with me everywhere... it pretty much stays in my bag, and sits on my desk all day at work... see? 

I've used it so much, that its started to get a little beat up... but I have more! I love that it is contoured, so its easy to hold.  One of its other great features is that is has a large mouth so it is easy to fill and easy to drink from. The smaller sizes are great for kids.  I also like that these are very affordable.  You can purchase a set of 3 Large for only $33, so that is $11 each.  I know some people are worried about drinking out of plastic, but this product, and everything that Tupperware sells now is BPA Free. 

Since I love this product so much, one lucky reader will get one of their own... I'm doing my first blog Giveaway! 

Tupperware Large Eco Bottle Giveaway: CLOSED
Giveaway begins Tuesday, February 14, 2012 and all entries must be received by 10pm EST on Monday, February 20, 2011. Each comment counts as 1 entry.  You must comment multiple times for multiple entries. All comments must include an email address. 

Required
  • (1) Entry: Follow my blog using Google Friend Connect, and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Go to my website and take a look around.  Comment with your favorite Tupperware Product. 
Optional (Additional Entries)
  • (1) Entry: Like my Tupperware Facebook Page, and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Follow @CrystalClearTW on Twitter, and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Post this as your Facebook status (tag my page) "Tupperware by Crystal Dunn (Independent Consultant) is giving away a Large Eco Water Bottle on her blog!  Check it out at http://bit.ly/128XQR" and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Tweet this: "Enter the Tupperware Large Eco Water Bottle Giveaway on @crystal_dunn's blog: http://bit.ly/128XQR" and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (1) Entry: Sign up for my Tupperware email newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/dbly2 and comment to tell me you did. 
  • (5) Entries: Place an order on my website.  Leave 5 separate comments if you did. 
Lots of chances to enter!  Tell your friends... I'm excited for my first Giveaway...and there's more coming! 


Pinterest 4/10: Bear Hugs Valentines

I told my sister that I would help with my nephew Parker's Valentines for his preschool class.  Because I can't do anything simple and store bought, I turned to Pinterest for inspiration for something cute.  Judging by the posts from my Facebook friends, so did everyone else and their mama... most of them are doing the picture of the kid holding a sucker.  Well, Parker isn't quite old enough to force  persuade to pose like that, and I didn't really want to do candy.  Kids get enough candy on Vday.

So here is my inspiration pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/6051780719146721/

We decided to give the kids Teddy Grahams and make cute little "Bear Hugs."  Here is what we ended up with.

We already had the Valentine's Day Bags, so I just printed off a cute header, personalized with each child's name (there were 30 of them) and stapled them to the bag.  The Teddy Grahams are hard to see because of the hearts, but they are there.  Can't wait for him to pass them out this afternoon at his school party.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Music Monday: "Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston


Since Whitney Houston's untimely passing this weekend, her song "Greatest Love of All" has been on my mind.    I remember learning to sing this song in 5th grade chorus for our 'graduation.'  Of course, our rendition of the song paled in comparison to the powerhouse voice of Whitney Houston. 

Over the years, the lyrics have stuck with me.  I have seen several teaching philosophy statements based off of the lyrics to this song. The first verse is how I view teaching... children are our future, and we must teach them well. 

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

Rest in Peace Whitney Houston.  Thank you for sharing your talents with us. 




Saturday, February 11, 2012

Recipe 3/10: Southern Biscuits

I've been wanting to make homemade buttermilk biscuits for a while.  I remember when I was younger watching my Grandma make biscuits, and I haven't had any in a long time.  Making biscuits is a skill that I definitely want to master... I've tried before, but they just didn't come out right.  Last weekend, I cooked dinner for my family, and decided that I would give it a(nother) try.  This time, I wanted to use a recipe.  Last time, my mom just said some of this and some of that... so I went looking for a recipe.

I decided to use Alton Brown's Southern Biscuit recipe.  It had good reviews on Food Network's website, and it looked easy enough.  I will admit, my biscuits did not turn out perfect this time, but I will be trying them again.  I need to get a cutter, because when I have to pat out the biscuits, I over worked the dough, so they weren't light and fluffy like they should be.  I also left them in the oven just a bit too long, so they were harder than they should have been.  Overall, they were pretty good... all of them were eaten! I'll try some more to perfect my biscuit making abilities...

Pinterest 3/10: Basket Weave Cake Decorating

I've dabbled a little bit in cake decorating.  I'm not a pro by any means, but it is something that I'm interested in.  I love watching shows like Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes, and I love watching our Pastry Chef at work do cakes.  My office is literally 5 feet away from the bakery, so I'm always going over there to watch.  Anyway, I've been wanting to learn some new techniques, so I went to Pinterest to look for ideas.  I saw a video on how to do basket weave, so I decided to give it a try.

Inspiration Pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/6051780719121292/

My creation:

 Birthday cake for my Mom and my Aunt.  (More details about the cake in a later post.) I think for my first attempt at basket weave, it turned out pretty good.  It was super easy, so, I will be trying it again.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Books 3 & 4 of 10

I've been reading more lately, especially at night.  I finished 2 more books since I did my last post of Recent Reads.

"Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun" by Lois Winston
I have a running inside joke about Glue Guns with some of my Twitter friends... so I first came across this title it  piqued my interest, but I forgot all about it.  Then, I saw it again when I was going through the Kindle Freebies, so I downloaded it.  Overall, it was a very good book.  I finished it in a few nights.  A woman with a seemingly normal life has her life turned upside down when her husband dies unexpectedly.  That was just the beginning. Imagine finding a woman glue gunned to death in your office chair.  As absurd as it sounds, it makes a good story, and a good murder mystery involving crafts.  The book is the first in a series of books, so I might pick up the the next one, when it comes out.

"Always the Wedding Planner, Never the Bride" by Sandra Bricker
Last year, I read a book called "Always the Baker, Never the Bride," about a diabetic wedding cake baker.  It was a very good read, and I really enjoyed it.  I found out that was the first in a series of books, so I went looking for the second one.  I found it, and started reading it, and this time, it was about the Wedding Planner.  The title of this book made me laugh, because it was something that I can really relate to.  Of course, the books seem to always turn out to have a happy ending, but the hopeless romantic in me believes that I will have one too.  I really enjoyed this book, and I will definitely be picking up the next 2 once they come out.

Without a Laptop...

The other day, I noticed that my laptop was doing some weird stuff, like shutting down and locking without me telling it to.  I decided that I better go ahead and have it looked at, so that I could get it fixed asap.  It is so weird being without it. (Addicted much?)  I just realize how much I use it, and that I'm practically online ALL the time when I'm at home.  I've been at my mom's this weekend, so I'm able to use her desktop,so at least I have computer access.  It's still not the same though... I'm used to all of my personalized settings and where all of my files are located (even though I need to do some major organizing).  I might stay here until I get it back from the shop, so that I can get school work done... its going to be a challenge, but hopefully, I will have it back soon!

This post was just a ramble... guess I'm kinda back to my old blogging habits, lol.

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