Wednesday, October 22, 2014

quick dinners

I wanted to write about some of the dinners we've been munching on lately, but I don't have a lot of free time these days.  So, the theme for today's post is the same for my life at the moment: fast and furious.

Pita Pizza

I think I've written about this dinner before.  It's simple, quick, and delicious.  Perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

Lettuce Wraps

These taste very similar to P.F. Chang-a-langs.  Perfect when paired with some crunchy snow peas.

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

How pretty is this?  If you've never had orzo before, this is a good dish to start with.  It's also a winner if you're a fan of shrimp, lemon, and fresh herbs.

Mexican Pizzas

Another quick dish for busy week nights.  The perfect thing to satisfy Austin's "Mexican tooth"!

Crock Pot Maple Dijon Pork Chops

I think you are supposed to use bigger chops for this, but oh well.  It still turned out yummy.  Great flavor, and who doesn't love a good crockin' recipe?

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

The Pioneer Woman is such a gem.  This pasta she makes is di-vine.  I obviously added some chicken to the mix since I live with a man who needs his meat.

Orange Peel Shrimp

If I had to choose a least favorite from the bunch, this would be it.  The shrimp was good, but I think it would've been better if I worked in a Chinese restaurant.

Friday, September 19, 2014

classroom tour

Normally teachers post "classroom tours" right around the first day of school.  I wasn't able to do that this year, though, because my school was renovated over the summer!  Our school looks great now, but getting everything set up was pretty hectic.  So now that we're 4 weeks into the year, my room is totally done and I'd like to do my (better late than never) classroom tour.  

Because of all the construction that was going on, we weren't able to get into our rooms to start working until a week and three days before the start of school.  Here's what my room looked like when I walked in on that fateful Friday:


I'm not going to lie- it was a hot mess in C103.  As you can see, there were desks along the walls and a mountain of boxes (all my stuff) in the center of the room.  I definitely had my work cut out for me.  After a LOT of work and many, many trips to various teacher supply stores, I'm in business!


Let's take a full-circle tour...

This is the wall right by my door.  I have my discipline hierarchy on the wall; a table for classroom logs, library and bathroom passes, a turn in tray, and tissues; and my bookshelf where we keep workbooks and folders for each of my three classes.

Next to the bookshelf, we have my desk!  The wall behind it is where I will post any information (bell schedules, school mission, tutoring days, etc.).  The folders underneath are for detention slips, homework club forms, and testing lab forms.

Here's my desk from another angle.  I spy cute pictures of Austie!

This is the front of the room.  I have a lovely SMARTBoard (that started working a few days ago) and a nice sized whiteboard.  You can also see my media computer on the far right.  This is how I display things on my SMARTBoard.

Closer up on my grid calendar:

The side of my room has a built-in cabinet and book shelf.  The shelves were the last things to go in our rooms, and I love the way they turned out.  So much space!  I use them to store our textbooks, dictionaries, and my classroom library.  The "bookworms" wall is a space where I post any books that my students finish during the year.

The back of my room has my big bulletin boards and a reading corner (blue chair and lamp).  The "Say What?!" wall is where I put all of our vocabulary words throughout the year, the "Great Work" wall is where I display student work, and my calendar wall is obviously where I put our calendar. 

I also have to mention our new desks.  Do you notice how there is not a bar on either side, so kids can get in their seats from the right or the left?  Very nifty!

Like I said, the first weeks back at school were c-r-a-z-y, but I think I'm finally settling in and finding my groove.  I like the way my room turned out, and I hope my kids like it too!

Have a great weekend!  BTHO SMU!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

our wedding video!

Austin and I got some very good news recently: our wedding "highlight video" is here!

After doing the happiest of happy dances, we watched it and were even happier!  Our videographer, Daniel Routh, is so awesome, and we love love love the way that he captured our day.  If anyone is looking for a videographer for their special day, we would highly recommend Daniel!  Here he is with his second shooter in the photo booth at our reception.  

(That's Daniel on the right, wearing a sombrero) 

One of the things we loved about working with Daniel (and Amanda too) is that they both got great footage of our day without being "in the way".  I've been to weddings before where it feels like the freaking paparazzi are there.  That's fine if that's what the bride and groom want, but it definitely wasn't what Austin and I were looking for.

Anyway, we are thrilled to share our highlight video with everyone.  I hope y'all like it because I think it's perfect!

Friday, September 5, 2014

10 things no one tells you about planning a wedding

1) You will spend an ungodly amount of money on stamps.

Save the dates, invitations, thank you notes, oh my.  Stamps get expensive, yo!  Especially for your actual invitations.  If you're doing traditional invites, those things are probably going to need a few stamps each.  It ended up costing us about $1.50 per invitation, and we sent out about 120 total.  I hope e-vites are socially acceptable by the time my kids get hitched.

2) Even if your parents are footing the bill, you will still spend money on wedding stuff.  Like, a lot of money.

Austin and I were so lucky that my parents could foot the bill for our entire wedding (thanks again, Jimbo and Sherbo!!).  However, we still had to buy other stuff that was wedding related.  New clothes and hair/make-up for the engagement pictures, the presents you buy for each other, "thank you" presents for shower hostesses, clothes and swim suits for the honeymoon, the actual honeymoon, a new dress/outfit for every party, shower, and the rehearsal dinner, and a million other random things.  

3) One (or more) of your vendors that you originally book (or something else) will probably change before your actual wedding day.

Everyone tells you that "something will go wrong" or that you "might have a little hiccup" before or on the big day.  It's my opinion that something will most likely change over the course of your wedding planning.  This may be something you choose to change, or it may be something that's beyond your control.  For example, the lady that was supposed to do my hair and make up had a family emergency two days before our wedding and had to cancel.  Luckily, she was very professional about it and arranged for one of her friends to replace her.  It was definitely stressful, but it all turned out ok!

4) No matter how early you start planning things, you will still be scrambling at the end to get it all done.

Austin and I were engaged for almost 2 years.  However, I was still working on the seating chart the morning before our wedding.  As much as I tried to do things early and stay on top of everything, there is just SO much that has to get done right at the end.

5) People who RSVP as a "yes" won't come.

My wedding coordinator mentioned something about this, but I really didn't think it would happen.  Sure enough, people didn't show up for one reason or another even though they said they would be there.  The seating charts had already been printed, and their food and drinks had already been paid for, but oh well.  You just have to realize that things come up and try not to stress out about it!

6) There is a tax for EVERYTHING, and it's expensive.

Don't budget based on the original numbers you are given.  Always estimate more for that damned tax.

7) Your apartment/house will look like a wedding shop and a UPS store had a baby and then that baby blew up all over the place.

If you're lucky enough to live in a house, devote a guest room or large hall closet to house all of the "wedding stuff".  If you live in a one bedroom apartment like me, just be prepared for chaos.  Between all of the wedding junk (pictures, sparklers, invitations, gifts for the wedding party, the guest book, programs, the seating chart, random doo dads) and the gifts people send, you'll be out of room quick!

8) It's kind of awkward to be the center of attention at your shower(s).

Your wedding shower is really fun, but it's pretty awkward to be in the hot seat while everyone is watching you open presents.  I felt kind of like some weird museum exhibit that could only be viewed by women in uncomfortable shoes, sipping mimosas and filling out their bridal bingo cards.

9) You will have to go to the stores where you registered a LOT to return stuff and fix the registry.

I'm not sure why, but we got a lot of repeat gifts, and our online registry was never a true reflection of what we actually had and still needed.  (I hear that's pretty common.)  I'm definitely not complaining about people buying us stuff (thanks again, everyone!), but I may or may not be on a first name basis with a few of the cashiers at Pottery Barn.  I tried to return things as we went along so our registries would stay as accurate as possible, but nothing was ever perfect, and that's ok!  

10) Once your wedding day actually arrives, it's best to just let everything go and enjoy your day!

Okay, I'm sure you've heard this before, but it's really true.  I was SO stressed and anxious for a good two weeks before our wedding.  I wasn't nervous about the whole "being tied to one man for the rest of my life" thing; Austin is my main squeeze, and I couldn't wait to be his wife.  Instead, I would find myself constantly checking things off in my head or wondering if I should email the groomsmen a schedule and packing list reminder just one more time.  Once our ceremony started, though, I just pulled an Elsa and let it go.  It was out of my hands, and guess what?  Everything went just fine!  It went incredibly, actually.  Austin and I had a blast, and I think our guests enjoyed themselves too.  It was the perfect day, and I'm not just saying that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

chicken and broccoli lemon pasta

I think it's about time for a recipe post!  I made this pasta a little while ago, and Austin and I both really enjoyed it.  It's healthy as can be and tastes great.  That's a win-win if I've ever heard one!

Chicken and Broccoli Lemon Pasta

2 chicken breasts
salt & pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 lb of spaghetti (or whatever pasta you want)
1 TBS butter
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 head of broccoli, chopped up into little florets
2 lemons, one cut in half and the other sliced in wedges
1 1/2 TBS chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 


1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and set aside.

2) Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high and add in the olive oil to get it hot.  Once the oil is ready, brown the chicken.  You're not trying to cook it through, just get some color on those bad boys.  It should take a few minutes per side.

3) Throw the browned chicken onto a sheet pan and stick it in the oven to let it finish cooking.  This should take about 25-30 minutes depending on the size of your chicken breasts.  Once the chicks are done, take them out and let them cool off for a little while (10 minutes or so) and then cube them up.

4) While all of that chicken stuff is happening, get going on your pasta.  Cook it according to package directions, drain, and then set it aside.

5) If you're feeling frisky, you can also start on the broccoli while the pasta is cooking and the chicken is in the oven.  If that's too much going on at once though, you can wait.  Either way, you'll want to use that chicken pan with all of the lovely brown chicken bits to heat up the butter at medium-high.  Once the butter is hot, add the garlic and stir it around for about 30 seconds.  Once the garlic is fragrant, throw in the broccoli.  Stir that around until it's tender and then squeeze in the juice of a lemon and add in the parsley.

6) Once the broccoli is ready, stir in the pasta, and then add in the chicken.  If the pasta looks too dry, you can add in some more olive oil and/or lemon juice.

7) Serve the pasta with chopped parsley on top and a lemon wedge.  Enjoy!      

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

dinners lately

One thing I love about summer is that I have lots of time to try out new recipes.  I went a little crazy on pinterest a few weeks ago and have made it my mission to test as many of the new dinner ideas that I pinned as I can.  

The first thing I want to talk about isn't a new recipe, but I wanted to show y'all anyway because it's easy and delicious.  

There isn't really a "recipe" for this...I just browned some turkey meat and then seasoned it with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne.  I also heated up some beans and grated two types of cheese (pepper jack and cheddar).  Once everything was prepped, I just spread the beans on some tortilla chips, topped that with some of the turkey, and then sprinkled on the cheese.  You can either melt the cheese in the microwave or in the oven (broil for a few minutes).  The result is deeeee-lish.

Baked Fish Sticks

I saw this fish on eatliverun one morning, and I made it the same night.  The panko gives it a nice crunch, and the fish had great flavor.  It's also very simple to make and tastes fab with a side of green beans and a crusty roll.  Jenna recommends using cod or flounder, but I used halibut because that's all they had at Central Market.  I'm sure any white fish would be fine.

BBQ Chicken Thighs

I wish all the time that we could have a grill at our apartment, so when I saw this baked version of BBQ chicken on The Pioneer Woman's website, I knew I had to give it a shot.  The chicken ended up getting a really nice glaze and was super moist.  Mashed taters and a giant cob of corn were the perfect sides.

Buffalo Chicken Fingers

These are basically a big kid version of chicken nuggets.  That's why I served them with Ninja Turtle mac n cheese.  Austin and I both really liked them though!  Also, the leftover chicken made for a delicious quesadilla the next day for lunch.

The final thing I wanted to share today is this peach ice cream.  The last time Austin and I went to Houston we stopped to get peaches on the way home.  I decided that I'd make this since I had fresh peaches coming out of my ears.

Peach Ice Cream

It was SO yummy and the perfect thing to have on a hot day.  I just love my ice cream maker!  If you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, it is definitely worth it to invest in the ice cream maker attachment.

Hopefully this post made you hungry!  Have a happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 4, 2014

bachelor bagz

About a month before our wedding, Austin and some of his guy pals took a little trip to the beach.  In other words, they had a bachelor par-tay!  

Luckily, my guys didn't get as crazy as these fools...

I was terrified excited for them to go on their trip, so I wanted to send something along for the boys to have fun with.  Off to Party City, Walmart, and Spec's I went!  I found lots of great supplies that I thought would be fitting for their beach getaway, and I think these little bachelor bagz are a good idea for any bride-to-be.  It's a sweet way to show your almost hubby (and his friends) some love.  Here's how I put them together:

First, think about your theme.  I went for "crazy beach party", but other ideas could be Vegas, Mardi Gras, Sports, etc.  Since it's a bachelor party, you'll want to make sure you include things like alcohol, snacks, funny accessories, and anything you know your man and his pals would enjoy.  For example, Austin loves a good fake mustache, so those were a must.  Once you have everything, lay it out in piles to make bag stuffing easier.

I ended up getting each guy a snack bag of cheez-its, tiny bottles of Crown and Fireball, a crazy straw, a fake mustache, a water gun, a pair of sunglasses, a few poppers, a lei, a kazoo, and some glow sticks.  It also worked out because Party City had everything in matching colors, so each guy's bag was color coordinated! (I know the boys really appreciated that!)    

One Bachelor Bag, Please!

Walmart sells colored paper sacks for mucho cheapo, so that was the perfect package for the bagz.  I just did a little assembly line using my piles, and everything came together pretty quick.

In the end, Austin and his amigos got a kick out of their party favors (unless they lied to me), so I was glad I made them!  

Other good ideas would be to bake cookies or some other snacks for the trip, make muffins or scones (do boys eat scones?) so they have something for breakfast, or create a personalized cup for each dude to drink out of during the party.  The possibilities are endless; you just have to think about the guests and make sure it's something they would love and appreciate!  

**NOTE: If you want to do this for your man, make sure you keep in mind how much extra space the guys will have as they travel.  I asked one of the drivers (shoutout, Stephen!) if he wouldn't mind hauling the loot for me, and he happily obliged.  This shouldn't be a problem for most boy trips since they don't pack as much as girls. :)  If the men are flying somewhere and don't have room for bagz though, think about getting a small gift for your groom to use during the trip.  A set of nice dominos, a shirt for when they go out, a bottle of his favorite liquor, or whatever else you think he might love!