Feel Like You Have the Flu? These Two Remedies are the Best Kept Secrets!

 My family has been very fortunate over the last few years. My husband and I both teach school, so you can imagine how many germs we come into contact with on a daily basis. My oldest child is at the high school, my middle child in elementary school, and my youngest is in preschool…so, we are collecting germs from a variety of environments every single day and bringing them into our home. 

For one reason or another, many students come to school sick. Students who are eligible for exemption in classes based on their attendance do not want to miss a day if they do not have to, so we end up with a lot of sick students walking around our campus and in our classrooms during peak flu season. I’m going to share with you today some of my tips that have worked to help my family stay well.

Let me begin by stating the obvious…hand washing is essential. There has been a trend toward the use of hand sanitizers over the last few years. I do love my Germ-X for a quick fix, but hand sanitizers are no replacement for washing hands with soap and water. I think of it like this…do I want to simply kill the germs on my hands, or do I actually want to wash them off? I prefer to know that they are gone, so I try to use soap and water as often as possible.

I also use disinfectant sprays in the classroom. Each time a student sneezes or complains of not feeling well, I make sure to disinfect his or her seat when class ends. If the student is using a computer, I get disinfecting wipes and wipe down the keyboards and desktops. Occasionally, though, we pick up germs anyway. There is no way to avoid germs in the hallways at school, so getting them is inevitable.

I have learned to watch for the signs of impending illness, though. I have learned that if I can catch an illness at the very beginning, I can usually stop it in its tracks. At the first sign of a cold (coughing, sneezing, sore throat, runny nose), I use Sambucol Cold and Flu Relief Tablets, Black Elderberry, 30 Count. The main ingredient is Elderberry. I heard about these a couple of years ago, and I have used them each time we have felt a cold coming on since then. I love these because they are safe even for young children. They come in a very small tablet and dissolve quickly in your mouth. They even taste pleasant, so my children do not mind taking them. I rarely have to take more than one or two before my symptoms are gone.

My second line of defense is for the more serious illnesses. Any time one of us develops a fever along with cold symptoms, I immediately turn to my old standby Boiron Oscillococcinum for Flu-like Symptoms Pellets, 30 Count/0.04 Oz each. These are specifically targeted at flu symptoms such as fever, body aches, and chills. My kids know these as “mouth sprinkles” because they come in these tiny tubes and look like teensy white balls. You pour these magic “sprinkles” into your mouth, and they dissolve. They are really fun to take, so my kids never complain about them. My son began taking them when he was two years old, so they even work for young children who are sometimes hard to convince to take their medicine. Here is what the box looks like:

 

We have had flu-like symptoms and fevers many times over the years since I discovered this product, but so far since using this, none of us have developed the flu. I recommend that everyone keep a box of these on hand and take them at the very first sign of any flu-like symptoms. I am not saying to replace anything else you take (read the label for yourself but this homeopathic remedy does not appear to affect any other medicines), but I would definitely add this to my arsenal of defenses if I were you.

Do you have any other remedies that have worked well for you? Have any of you ever tried either of these? I would love to hear if they worked well for your family, too. Good luck throughout the remainder of flu season. I wish you all health and happiness!

 

30 Day Clutter Challenge- Day 2 Closet, Part 1

This post contains an affiliate link.

Well, how did you do with yesterday’s challenge? How much clutter did you remove from your pantry? I actually didn’t have as much as usual. I got rid of a few boxes of cereal that were open and stale, one jar of rice wine vinegar that was almost empty but expired (vinegar expires?!), some instant oatmeal that my kids chose and thought they would eat but actually don’t like, a half-eaten bag of stale chips…not too bad. I still have A LOT of food in there, but I am making an effort over the next few weeks to use those items and leave some empty space. How did you do?
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Okay, now….on to today’s mission: your closet. You can see one end of my closet above. If you’re willing to give up just a little bit of control for the sake of less work, you can enlist your kids’ help here, too. They can work in their closets at the same time (assuming they are old enough). I have broken the closet down into two parts to keep it at 15 minutes per day. I mean, come on…it’s Wednesday for heaven’s sake. We don’t have time for an entire closet overhaul on a Wednesday!

You, too, can have more space. All you have to be willing to do is live with less stuff. That’s it….a simple equation that you don’t have to be a math nerd to appreciate.

LESS STUFF = MORE SPACE

Today, we will only focus on the simple…stained/torn items and those that you have not worn in at least a year. First, the stained and torn. This should be a given, but you might be surprised at how many of these items you hang onto.

We hate to waste money, and it seems to us that if we are getting rid of these items, we are throwing away the money we spent on them. Here’s the thing, though…the money has already been spent. You are not getting any of that money back unless you are able to sell the items (and in this case, I don’t think many people will want to buy your torn or stained items). Keeping these items in your closet is taking up valuable space. You have enough space to fit everything, though, so why clear the space?

Have you ever scrolled through Pinterest and looked at closets that you’d love to have? What do they all have in common? Let me take a guess here…MORE SPACE. You, too, can have more space. All you have to be willing to do is live with less stuff. That’s it….a simple equation that you don’t have to be a math nerd to appreciate.

LESS STUFF = MORE SPACE

The next step is to get rid of things you have not worn in at least a year. If you’re thinking, how will I know if it has been a year? Here’s a simple solution: if you cannot remember the last time you wore the item (not the exact date- I just mean that you cannot picture yourself in the item), let it go. The only exceptions are specific items that you only wear once in a blue moon (a suit for an interview, a formal that you will actually wear again,…). The same rules apply here as above. You cannot reclaim the money you spent by hanging onto items you do not use. And….if you only wear the item occasionally just so that you don’t feel guilty about keeping  it – not because you actually like it (be honest with yourself here!), get rid of it.

There are a few of options here for getting rid of the items. If they are expensive brands and are still in style, consider selling them. Facebook is actually a great source for selling items such as this. Just post them on your page, or join a local sales group page and post there. If the items are in great condition and still in style, but you couldn’t get much in return for selling them, donate them.

Otherwise, if they are clothes that no one would want (again, be honest), get rid of them. (If any of you have good ideas about specific things that can be done with these items, please let me know!)

*If you absolutely can’t let these items go right away, box or bag them up, write the date on the outside, and put them in your storage room/garage/basement. Check back in 6 months and get rid of what is still there!

Although you can’t see it in this picture, I have a set of these hanging shelves on the left of my built-in shelves. I use these to organize my folding clothes. The only clothes I do not hang up are underclothes and shorts. Yes, I even hang my t-shirts. I have this thing about folding clothes… I hate it. Anyway, Amazon has these for a great price right now if you are interested in adding them to your closet. They are really handy for organizing clothes for the week.  Whitmor 6536-300-GREY Hanging Accessory Shelves, 10.75 x 10 x 35

Don’t forget to keep up with your results and take before and after pics! I’d love for you to share them in the comments with me or on social media using the hashtag #mysimpleclutterchallenge and let us know how much clutter you cleared!

Come back tomorrow for the next mission. Two days already down…28 to go to. We can do this, and we will be so glad we did. Thanks so much for joining me for this challenge!

 

30 Day Clutter Challenge – Day 1 Pantry

Are you ready? Let’s do this! If you read my post yesterday, you know that today we are embarking upon a life-changing (well, at least home-changing) challenge. We are going to spend 15 minutes per day over the next 30 days and clear the clutter from our homes and our lives. I solemnly promise that if you complete this challenge with me, you will have a lighter load of clutter and a more peaceful home. I’m not saying it is going to be easy, I am saying that it is going to be worth it. So, in the words of Jerry Maguire…”Who’s coming with me?”

We are going to begin this challenge with something simple. I am not asking you to make any gut-wrenching decisions today…you will not be parting with any sentimental items (unless you really, really love your food in a somewhat awkward way). The first challenge will be to tackle the pantry (or kitchen cabinets if you do not have a pantry). We are specifically looking at all the food items in your home that are not refrigerated with the exception of spices (for some of us, that is a whole challenge within itself, so we will save that for later).

I am very fortunate to have a huge walk-in pantry. When we designed our home, three things were of the highest importance to me – an open kitchen/family room, a large closet, and a walk-in pantry. You see, I like to have a lot of food on hand. Having a pantry full of foods provides a sort of security blanket. I know that if we get snowed in, my family will always have food to eat. In the days before I discovered eMeals, I needed a variety of pantry staples on hand so that I could throw a meal together without prior planning. This sounds good until you peek into my pantry and see the mess. EEK!


I normally would not let people see this, but we are all friends here, right? You won’t judge me….will you? I am okay with showing you this because I know it will not look this way for long. I am about to tackle the food clutter!

Believe it or not, I have done this many times in the past, and I am always amazed at how much I have to throw away. And not amazed in a good way. It really is an eye opener to see how much food is wasted. I am going to make an effort to use the food items in my pantry and quit trying to keep so many extras going forward.

Okay, enough talking…let’s get started. Take a look at every item and check its expiration date. If it is expired, throw it away. No exceptions here. Packaged items last a lonnnng time. Even if it technically was okay to eat, if it is expired, you have had it for a very long time already bid you haven’t eaten it by now, you aren’t going to. Trash it. Now.

Next, be honest with yourself for a minute and get rid of all the items that you are not going to eat. If they are still in date an unopened, donate them to a local food drive or shelter. If they are opened and still good but you know you aren’t going to eat them (you wanted to be healthy and love that new granola brand but realized the first time you ate it that it tastes like cardboard….you want your kids to eat the healthy brand of cereal but if you are being honest with yourself, you know they will only eat Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs….your spouse accidentally bought sugar free syrup and you didn’t want to waste money by throwing it away but you know you’ll never eat it), get rid of these things now! The money has already been spent. Holding the item in your pantry or cabinet is not going to get the money back, and it is continuing to cost you more by robbing you of space. 

Whew! You did it. That wasn’t so bad, was it? BONUS: Once you have gotten rid of these things, you can organize by grouping like items together. To do this, I am going to purchase another set of these awesome containers that I have bought in the past from Amazon. There are two different sizes, and I have used them for everything from packing foods for lunch, storing leftovers, to food storage. Purchasing something in the midst of clearing clutter seems a little contradictory, but having my foods organized and grouped together will help me know exactly what I have on hand and (hopefully) prevent me from buying more of something I already have. If you are interested in the containers I use, I am including a link below. I like the 16 ounce ones for storage, and the 8 ounce ones for packing in lunches.
Reditainer Deli Food Storage Containers with Lid, 16-Ounce, 36-Pack
Reditainer Deli Food Storage Containers with Lids, 8-Ounce, 40-Pack

I would love to hear how many items you have gotten rid of! Share your stories in the comments for this article. Pictures are even better! Post your before and after pics. Tag them with the hashtag #mysimpleclutterchallenge and come back tomorrow for my recap and the next mission. I’ve got to go get busy now…

See you tomorrow!

30 Day Clutter Challenge – Get Rid of the Clutter in Just 15 Minutes a Day


If you’ve been following this blog since the beginning, you know that I have worked in the past toward having a clutter-free home. Let me be the first to admit that I have failed. Don’t get me wrong…it isn’t due to a lack of effort. I have tried. However, when I look around my home, I realize that I still have a lot to do.

I eliminated a ton of things from my home last year, using the Konmari method from the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Slowly, but surely, the things have crept their way back into my home, though.

I have learned that you have to continue to de-clutter. It is not a one-time event that lasts for years. Until my entire mindset shifts toward less consumerism, I will have to regularly evaluate the items in my home. This is the reason I came up with this challenge. My home needs this. I feel so much happier with less stuff cluttering my home, and I don’t have to spend nearly as much time cleaning. Those of you who know me well known that cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do. 😉

So, I hope you will join me for the next 30 days. You shouldn’t have to spend more than 15 minutes per day. If you don’t have an extra 15 minutes (really?), then set your alarm 15 minutes earlier. I promise you won’t miss the minutes, and you will be so thankful for the peace that a de-cluttered home will bring.

Follow my blog to join the fun. You will receive emails each time a new blog is posted. You can also follow me on social media for daily updates. Go ahead and reserve 15 minutes tomorrow to begin clearing the clutter from your home. See you tomorrow!

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Restaurant Quality Wings That You Can Make at Home. Yes, You!

 I have always been a little afraid of cooking chicken wings. Sounds silly coming from someone who is known for being able to cook almost anything, right? I’m not sure what it was that seemed intimidating, but I have conquered my fears.

If you like eating wings and haven’t been making them at home, prepare to be amazed. Not only are these easy (a little time consuming, but nothing tricky), but they are soooo good. I’m talking about meat pulling cleanly off the bone, perfectly spiced wings.

Here goes…go to the freezer section of your local grocery store and grab a bag or two of frozen wings. Stick them in the refrigerator and let them thaw for a day (or defrost in the microwave if you can’t wait). Once the are completely thawed, use paper towels to pat them dry. No pictures of this step because, well, raw chicken is not very photogenic. 

Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or enameled iron pot over medium high heat. In a gallon sized ziplock bag or a brown paper sack, combine a cup of flour with a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of pepper, and half a teaspoon of paprika. Shake to combine and add wings a few pieces at a time, shaking to coat. Remove and place on a plate until you get a plateful.


Using tongs (unless you have hands that can withstand extreme heat like this person I saw on Outrageous Acts of Science the other day), add the wings to the pan one at a time until you get a full layer. Cook them for approximately ten minutes. They should be a light golden brown. If they aren’t, let them stay in the oil a few more minutes. They should look similar to this:


In the meantime, melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add a bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce. You could add a different type here, but if you like the Buffalo flavor, I really recommend this brand. At least give it a try once. It has the traditional Buffalo wing flavor without too much heat. Make sure you get this exact sauce, though, because they usually sell a couple of varieties of this brand beside it, and it is easy to get confused.


Once they are coated in this sauce/butter mixture, place them on a cookie sheet that you have lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick coating. Do not forget the spray or you’ll lose your delicious crispy coating (not that I would know this from experience😉). Bake for 20-30 minutes at 450 degrees, turning them over occasionally. Finish the remaining wings the same way.

These wings were the most tender, delicious things. The sauce baked into the coating perfectly, leaving a slightly crisp exterior, and the meat pulled completely from the bone as I ate them without falling apart from being overcooked. I spared you the pictures of the clean bones that were left. Check out this tender meat, though. 

Just a warning…if you and your family have big appetites like mine, you might want to get two of the three pound bags. The five of us (one is a five-year-old) ate over four pounds! As a bonus, you can serve these with homemade ranch dipping sauce (made with a package of ranch dressing/dip mix, some mayo, and a little milk to thin it to sauce consistency. 

Give this recipe a try and let me know how it turns out!

Best Buffalo Chicken Wings Ever

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds thawed chicken wings, patted dry
  • 1 bottle Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Canola oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour 1 1/2 inches of oil into an iron Dutch oven and heat between medium and medium high heat. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a gallon sized ziplock bag.

Add a few wings at a time to the bag, shake to coat, and place on a plate. When the plate is full, add the wings to the hot oil. Cook for 10 minutes. They should be golden brown. If they are not, continue cooking a few minutes.

As the wings cook, melt the butter and combine with the buffalo sauce. As you remove the browned wings from the bowl, add them to the sauce, turning to coat. Place the coated wings on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with nonstick coating.

Place wings in the over for 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove and serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing and celery.

How to Save Money on Groceries AND Always Know What’s for Dinner…the Easy Way

   
I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled a little with planning my meals. I know that the less trips you make to the grocery store, the more money you save, but….with my lack of proper planning, it seemed that almost every time I got ready to prepare a meal, I realized that I had forgotten an ingredient I needed. This resulted in my swinging by the grocery store on my way home which led to my buying a few extra things I saw and thought I needed. The end result was that I spent entirely too much each month on groceries and ended up with a pantry/refrigerator/freezer filled with random items that didn’t get used. 

It really hit me when a student of mine who worked at the grocery store joked with me one day that I was in the store every day. I had to admit that he was right, and I decided to make a change (or at least try). 

In the past, I have attempted meal planning a number of times. Coming up with ideas for a week of meals is no problem for me. Where I have always failed is in getting the list of ingredients together. I always seemed to forget a few things that I needed because I didn’t feel like taking the time to look up the recipe and list ever single thing I needed (and then actually make it into the store with my list). 

This all began to change when I discovered eMeals. Let me begin by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I simply love this service and wanted to share it in case it would help you, too. 

  
Here is how it works… You subscribe to the service. If you pay for a year’s subscription to the dinner plan, it costs $58 which is less than $5 per month. I know you’re thinking that it is contradictory that I presented this as a way to save money and now I am telling you to spend money, but I promise that if you go to the grocery store as often as I did, this will save you way more than $5 per month. 

You have a variety of meal plan types from which to choose. Some examples are Slow Cooker, Budget Friendly, Kid Friendly, Paleo, Clean Eating… There is truly something for almost everyone, and they continue to add more. Take a look at the current dinner plan types:

   
   
Each Wednesday, a new week’s worth of menus are uploaded. If you don’t see what you like, you can even change to a different type to access different recipes. Here is an example:

  

You choose the recipes you want to add to your plan, and a grocery list is automatically generated. Here is an example of a meal plan I created:

  
The grocery list is categorized and has little boxes you can click as you get each item. The items are then added to a completed section below so that you can still access them. You can also add other items that you need that are not part of your meal plan by clicking the plus sign in the top right corner. 

  
You can always go back to all previous meal plans, and you can even save your favorites to your Recipe Box so that you can easily access them anytime you’d like to add them to a Meal Plan. EMeals also offers Lunch, Breakfast, Dessert, and Special Occasions plans that you can add for an additional charge. 

If you think you might be interested, they offer a 14-day free trial. If you decide to subscribe, I can earn free months through the Refer-a-Friend program. I would love to earn free months, so comment with your email address, and I will send you an invitation. 

If you have ever struggled with meal planning and wished for an easier way, this is it. Do any of you subscribe to eMeals? Are you already a successful meal planner without the need for this service? If so, I admire you! I wish I could say that I am that organized. I hope that by sharing this information I will make someone’s life just a bit easier. Happy meal planning!

  

35 Things You Could Be Doing Instead of Watching TV

  
Okay, it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of television. I would be perfectly fine with disconnecting our satellite for good. I actually talked my husband into it once. It was off for about six months, and guess what? We survived. We ended up turning it back on, though, and it has remained on. 

Don’t get me wrong…I do watch a few things. I love college football, and I am now watching the final season of American Idol. If my husband came in this evening and said he was ready to disconnect the satellite again, though, I would call right away. I just feel like there are so many things I would rather spend my time doing. Seriously, how many times do you think back and say, “Wow, that day I spent watching hours of tv was the best day ever!”? 

I realize that I am probably in the minority here. Most people feel like they would miss their tv shows so much, and even more seem to think that they wouldn’t have anything to do if they didn’t have tv to watch. If you decide to give it a try sometime, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of watching tv…

  1. Read a book.
  2. Try a new recipe.
  3. Play Legos with your children (or by yourself – they are actually a great practice in creativity).
  4. Play solitaire (either with an actual deck of cards or on your phone or computer). 
  5. Play a card game with your spouse or children.
  6. Play a board game (you know, those boxes that are probably collecting dust in a closet).
  7. Make homemade play dough (it isn’t hard at all, and if you make the gingerbread kind that you can find on Pinterest, it smells great!).
  8. Clean out a closet.
  9. Organize a drawer.
  10. Start a blog.
  11. Collect some wildflowers or other items from your yard and use them as decorations. 
  12. Learn to arm knit a scarf. It only takes about 15 minutes to complete one. Bonus: new accessory!
  13. Doodle in a notebook (you know, channel your high school self and pretend you are supposed to be taking notes in class).
  14. Start a list of quotes you love.
  15. Write the stories your kids love to hear over and over. Who knows…you might eventually get a whole collection written. 
  16. Try out some simple origami. You can find directions on Pinterest with a search on Google. 
  17. Make homemade cookies (or slice and bake ones – I won’t judge you!).
  18. Download a couple of photo apps and pretend to be a photographer in your house. Practice taking great photos. 
  19. Paint an abstract picture. You might be surprised at what you can create!
  20. Pair up all the random socks you’ve collected from the laundry.
  21. Rearrange the furniture in your family room.
  22. Find one of the lists of questions online, ask your kids their answers, and record them so you can go back and read them in a few years. The younger your kids the better. This is hilarious. 
  23. Play charades. This is seriously funny stuff. 
  24. Roast marshmallows in your fireplace (or over a candle if you don’t have a fireplace). 
  25. Have a singing competition with your family. Can’t sing? Even better- it will be funny!
  26. Make a list of things you are thankful for. 
  27. Look through your coins for rare ones. You can find lists of rare coins online. 
  28. Teach your pet a new trick. 
  29. Try out a new hairstyle (on yourself or your kids). 
  30. Go for a walk (or run). 
  31. Go through your t-shirts and throw away any that are stained, have holes, do not fit, or you just no longer like. 
  32. Collect all your spare change (see #27), and count it. You might be surprised at how much you have. 
  33. Plant a few seeds and watch them grow. Did you know that you can keep the root ends of green onions, place them in a small bit of water, and they will re-grow the green parts? This is so easy that even I have done it several times. Bonus: free green onions!
  34. Make a batch of chocolate bark. All you need is chocolate chips and whatever toppings you love. I really like semisweet chips with almonds and dried cranberries. Just melt the chips, spread them on foil that has been sprayed with nonstick coating, sprinkle your toppings on top, and wait for it to cool. Break into pieces and enjoy. 
  35. Make your own list of things to do instead of watch tv (then share them in the comments below)!

7 Reasons Being a Teacher is Actually a Good Thing

To me teaching is a calling, second only to the ministry in point of service. –Sarah Quinn (my grandmother, a retired elementary school teacher)

My grandmother retired from a long teaching career before I was born, but throughout my childhood, I cannot count the number of people who told me that she had taught them. They each had a story to tell about having had her as a teacher. I heard how strict she was, but I also heard quite often that she was a great teacher. My grandmother did not live long enough to see me become a teacher, but I’d like to think that it would’ve made her proud.

This past summer, as I was going through some of her old belongings, I uncovered a treasure…a handwritten essay titled, “Why I Was a Dedicated Teacher.” As I read her words, I was struck by how many of her sentiments still ring true today.  You can read them for yourself…

  
  
A once honored profession, the teaching profession often gets a bad rap these days. When I tell people that I am a high school teacher, I get a mixture of responses. Most people tell me that they could never be a high school teacher because they couldn’t deal with students’ attitudes. Some people ask me why I changed careers to become a teacher (I was a lawyer once upon a time). Others just look at me sympathetically, and few actually ever make positive comments. Teaching has so much to offer, though!

Don’t get me wrong…you will sometimes hear me complaining about the constant changes, the excessive testing of our students, the overuse of data analysis, and the lack of time allotted to actual teaching these days. Because those complaints sometimes creep into my mind, I wrote this list as a reminder to myself of some of the reasons I chose to become a teacher. In case you are wondering why anyone would choose this profession, OR if you have chosen the profession for yourself and need a reminder of some of the things it has to offer, here you go…

  1. You get to keep up with the latest fashion trends (unless your students wear uniforms). I mean, come on…why spend your time scouring Pinterest and InStyle magazine when you can see all the latest trends while walking down the hallways of your school? Added bonus: you know the image these fashion trends portray in your students, so you can choose your styles accordingly. (In case you are wondering, I didn’t actually make my career choice because of this one 😄)
  2. It is never boring. (unless you are) This is not an accounting job where you sit behind a desk and do the same thing every day. Things change from one day to the next, and not just as a result of moving forward though the curriculum. Students bring in a variety of attitudes and stories each class period. Sometimes these present a challenge and sometimes they provide entertainment, but they always keep things interesting.
  3. You get to start over every year (or possibly every semester depending on what you teach). Another great upside to teaching is that even if you have a really challenging year, you know that things will change at the end of the year/semester. This group of students (most of them, at least) will move on, and a new group will arrive. Administrators come and go, and requirements that come with the profession will change, so you are never stuck in a rut for a very long period of time. You can always remind yourself that May will be here before you know it.
  4. The schedule is hard to beat. Don’t get me wrong…a teacher works A LOT more hours than just 7:00-3:00 each day. Many nights, weekends and holidays are spent planning, coaching, working at extracurricular activities, chaperoning field trips, grading, counseling, etc., BUT those of us who have children do get to spend a lot of time off with them during the summer months, spring break, and holidays.
  5. You have opportunities almost daily to learn from your peers. A lot of professions keep you somewhat secluded from those with whom you work. Having the opportunity to observe successful co-workers is an invaluable tool for professional improvement. In the teaching profession, we are surrounded by others who exemplify greatness in differing skills. By working next door or down the hall or even in the same department as those outstanding teachers, we are able to draw from the knowledge and skills of others and improve ourselves and our own teaching styles. I mean, seriously…who better to ask for help in an area of weakness than a teacher?
  6. You develop relationships with people you likely would not otherwise know. A public school consists of every subset within a community. Those who work in a business setting likely spend the majority of their time interacting only with others who are in the same socioeconomic class. Those people miss out on the variety of cultures that exists within our communities. Exposure to these different cultures provides a wealth of knowledge that it would be a shame to miss out on.
  7. You have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. I saved this one for last because it is the most meaningful reason there is. As teachers, we have the possibility every single day of doing or saying something that makes a difference in a student’s life. We never know what comment we make or action we take might inspire a student. Sometimes we are even lucky enough to have a student come back and tell us that we made a difference in their lives. Having a student tell you that something you did or said changed his or her life for the better is the equivalent of winning a Grammy. It is the single most important thing we can ever hope to accomplish professionally.

So, whether you are contemplating a career change from another profession, or you have been teaching for twenty-five years, I hope you’ll take a moment to think about this list. If you ever had a teacher who made a positive impact on your life and you still know how to get in touch with him or her, you should send a note telling them so. That simple statement would make him or her feel like a rock star. 🙂

 

Easy Breakfast Ideas to Get You Out the Door Quickly in the Mornings

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that I am not the only mom out there who struggles with finding quick, healthy breakfast ideas for the kids and myself. I sometimes feel as if I have tried it all. Smoothies seem like an excellent idea, don’t they? I thought so, too. I tested a few out and got positive reviews, so I bought all the ingredients, prepped them, froze them into individual serving bags that I could pop straight into the blender each morning, patted myself on the back, and fell asleep thinking that I had finally found the solution. Well,…..it turns out that my kids only sort of like the smoothies and really don’t care for them for breakfast. 😁

Okay, no big deal. I decided to make the lovely breakfast sandwiches that I saw on Pinterest. You know, the ones with English muffins with deli ham, cheddar, and an egg that you cook – get this…in muffin tins in the oven! I churned out twelve of these bad boys at a time while I sat and drank my coffee thinking I was a genius. The kids even said they loved them the first day. I alternated with another breakfast so they wouldn’t get tired of them. The second time, I was greeted with a bit less enthusiasm but no complaints. (By the way, I love these things! They taste like egg McMuffins to me, and though I can’t handle much from McDonald’s, I do love egg McMuffins The eggs cooked in the muffin tins turn out just like the ones they use. If you are a fan of those like I am, I recommend trying these.) By round three of the breakfast sandwiches, however, my kids were eating less and less of the sandwiches, so…..back to the drawing board. 

I sometimes mix waffle batter and keep it in the refrigerator to make waffles. This idea isn’t too bad. The kids like waffles – especially with some chocolate chips thrown in – but, they rarely get themselves ready in time to sit down and eat the waffles with syrup, so this one often fails. We end up folding them in half with no syrup and eating them on the run. 

I have tried sausage and biscuits, but my oldest doesn’t love sausage. Bacon makes too much of a mess (and, yes, I cook it in the oven with foil in the pan, but it still makes a mess that I don’t want to clean). They don’t like most frozen breakfast items (which end up being very costly anyway). Oatmeal brings the same challenge as waffles…not enough time to sit and eat it. 

Yogurt with granola…overnight oatmeal…granola bars (store bought and homemade)…I have tried them all. So, this morning we tried yet another idea. I hope this one will be a keeper. It is a recipe from eMeals (I am a subscriber and absolutely love this meal planning service) and was listed as a dessert, so surely it will be a popular breakfast, right?

The recipe is called Peanut Butter-Chocolate Crispy Rice Treats and you can find it here: eMeals Recipe Link. I know that some of you out there are judging me right now… I mean, dessert for breakfast? 

Just look at it…

  
Hear me out though… It’s made with cereal – cereal that has vitamins and minerals, and peanut butter – hello, protein! Admittedly, the marshmallows and chocolate (which is optional, by the way) are not the healthiest, but it can’t be any worse than the store-bought cereal bars or chocolate cereal, and all three of my children actually ate it. 

  
Slightly sugary food is better than no food at all in the mornings in my humble opinion, so, for now I’m going to call this one a keeper. They even asked for it again tomorrow! I would love to hear your ideas and thoughts. What quick and healthy breakfast ideas do you use?

  

Hello Again!

Well, first off, it has been a while. I have been devoting most of my free time lately to rebuilding my Etsy shop. I have had the shop for a couple of years, but I didn’t keep items in it for very long because, well….life got a little too busy, and I didn’t have time to keep up with it. 

Just before Christmas, I had a few spare minutes one day, though, so I pulled out a few of my jewelry-making supplies and decided to create a few gifts. I whipped out a little aluminum rose bangle (see below), and I was hooked again. Since then, I have been making jewelry and frames during all my extra time, so I decided to reopen my Etsy shop and see if I can sell a few things online. 

  
During spare moments while dinner is in the oven, or during halftime in a game, my dining room table is converted into a work bench and looks a little like this…

  
I’m going to make an effort to keep up with my blog posts, too, though. This will be a great way to chronicle my creative adventures and to share the stories behind my jewelry and frames with you. Don’t worry, though. I’m not going to turn this completely into craft central. You’ll still get to hear stories of my parenting adventures and my cooking creations. I hope you will forgive me for my long hiatus and that you’ll follow along on the ride that is my life!

P.S. I’d love to see you on Instagram and Twitter @blueirisarts and if you want to check out my Etsy shop, you can find it at BlueIrisArts