Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Spicy Sweet Potato Hash

   This is one of my favorite Whole30 breakfasts! It's easy prep, and loaded with spicy, smoky, flavor!

I usually make a big pan of this on Sunday morning and Wednesday night and divide it out for breakfasts for the week. 

3 to 4 Sweet Potatoes (depending on size) - diced
3 pieces of Whole30 compliant bacon - chopped
1 jalapeño - chopped
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder 
Chipotle Seasoning 

Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees. 

Dice up the sweet potatoes and drop them into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle potatoes with a tiny bit of EVOO. (The bacon will also add grease to the pan as it cooks, so just a pinch of oil will do). 

Then add in a dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and a pinch of chipotle.  ( I didn't add exact amounts for the spices because you can add as much or as little as you'd like depending on your taste. Remember that a little chipotle goes a long way and added heat will also come from the jalapeño.) 

Toss the potatoes and seasoning together. 

After the potatoes are slightly oiled and seasoned, add in the chopped bacon and jalapeños. I toss everything around one more time and then dump it out on to a foil-lined cookie sheet. 

After 20 minutes I pull the pan out and flip everyone around, and then stick it back in for another 20 minutes. 

(I like my bacon extra crispy so I flip one more time and put it back in for 5-10 minutes) 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Sight Word Fun

      Holy cow, I have no idea where the past two weeks have gone!?! Between snow/cold days, the 100th day, Valentines day and personal days, the weeks have gone by in a blur!

      If you follow me on Instagram, you know I was out of school last Thursday and Friday to take Elli to an allergy appointment. Her allergist is 6 hours away in Wisconsin, so we decided to turn the trip into a mini family vacay and stay at an indoor water park. So. FUN!

      This week we were in school for two days and then got hit with extreme cold, so we've been out of school for the past two days. (Michigan is no stranger to snow and cold, but this kind of cold, -32, is crazy!!)  So needless to say, my kiddos were a bit on the squirrely side when we finally got back together today after delayed start this morning.

       My friend Elizabeth at Kickin' It In Kindergarten has inspired me create some worksheet free activities that get my kiddos moving and engaged. I knew today would be a perfect day to pull one out, and help me assess my students sight word knowledge in the process.

      I gave each students a washable scented marker, and then shouted out sight words that I wanted them to write out on the tables around the room. They scurried around and wrote each word four times. (** We did a lot of talking ahead of time about how this was a "special activity" and they could write on the tables for this activity only. I have a few little graffiti artists who like to draw on the tables.)

      When we were done the tables looked like this. It was a great way to see who could write out the sight words, who still needed help with letter formation, and who was following the directions.

      The kiddos then returned to their tables and we put on our "eraser fingers" (aka wipes over our fingers). They took turns going around the table and reading words and erasing them off.

      Not only was I able to do some quick assessments on my kiddos, but they were engaged and having fun. . . . and as an added bonus my tables are now squeaky clean :)

Friday, February 6, 2015

Whole30 ** Meal Plan Included

         Once Elli was born, and I was in the clear to diet and excercise again, I knew I wanted to do something that would stick. A true change that really would be a change for good, not just a change for a week. I started researching to find a program that would not only work for my personal needs, but also be something that I could easily adapt to fit the needs of my family. Ain't nobody got time to be a short order cook when you are chasing after a three year old and caring for a newborn.

Here I am with Elli at two weeks old. 
          Let me back up here and give you a brief history of my weight loss struggles. I've  been over weight for years and have done everything from Atkins, to Weight Watchers to Paleo. I would start  a diet, make little gains and then fall right back into my old habits. I was unhappy with how I looked and my relationship with food (hello stress eating). My self-esteem was low! I was looking for a quick fix, and was disappointed in myself when I didn't see immediate results. 

      Here I was now with two little girls I needed to be a role model for. I needed to show them how to be healthy and happy with who they were, and I needed to do that by being happy with who I was. I made it my mission to take care of myself and find something that was going to work! I knew this process would take time. I needed to find something that would transform not only my physical self, but my emotional self as well, and it had to be something that would work for the long haul. I didn't know what this magic "something" was going to be, but I was determined to find it. 

          I truly believe that God puts answers in front of us when we need them. All of the sudden this Whole30 thing kept popping up. A blurb in an article, a mention on Facebook or Instagram, an interview on a morning program. It seemed like everywhere I turned Whole30 was there. I starting looking more into what exactly it was and how it worked. And. . . . it really made sense! I began to read It Starts With Food and it was like everything fell into place. I knew that THIS was my answer. 

          I started my first round of Whole30 at the end of August right before school started. I began to notice how in control I felt of my eating and my cravings.  I was sleeping better at night, my skin was clear, I felt calm and in control of my emotions. For the first time in my teaching career I was coming home during those first few exhausting weeks of school with engery!?! I could play with my girls, make dinner and not be asleep on the couch at 6:00. The cherry on top was the inches and weight that I lost during the 30 days. 

          I'm now starting my fourth round and I have a whole group of coworkers who are starting this round with me. Many of them noticed my energy level, weight loss and as they put it "overall healthy look". They wanted to know what I was doing, and they wanted to do it too. 

             I'm certainly not a Whole30 professional, and each time I complete a 30 day cycle I learn more about the program, my own habits and how food effects my body.

         One of the best tips I can give for people just starting out, is to plan. Plan, plan and plan some more. I plan out my breakfasts and dinners for the 30 days. (I always have leftovers for lunch.) I prep snacks for the week and try and do as much meal prep as possible on the weekends. 

           To help my coworkers out I created a 30 day meal plan for breakfasts and dinners.  All of the recipes for these meals can be found on my Whole30 Pintrest board along with some other products, tips and sites that I've found helpful. 

         Someday I'll share pictures of my transformation, but for now, it's still a work in progress. Imperfect progress for sure, but progress none the less. 

          To download this plan just click on the picture below. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. . .

Here's a quick catch-up session on what has been happening in my little life for the past year or so.

  • We had baby #2! Meet Eliza (Elli) Piper! She's a 9 month old bundle of energy, who's into everything and keeps us on our toes! 


         When Elli was 4 months old we found out that she is allergic to nuts, dairy, eggs, and wheat. I've been busy experimenting with all sorts of recipes, and hope to share some of my finds. She's just eating fruits and veggies right now, but I wanted to be prepared for when she moves on to other solids. 
  • Edy turned 3 and became the sweetest big sister! She loves puppies, bows and Doc McStuffins. She can't wait to go to her little playgroup twice a week, and loves any opportunity to help in the kitchen. 

  • We've been blessed with lots of opportunities to visit and spend time with our families. We're loving this season of our life. It is amazing to see and experiencing things through our girls' eyes! I love to share family traditions with them and see them creating their own little memories. 


  • After several years as a part time, college head baseball coach, this handsome guy left coaching to spend more time with us!! We're so happy to have him home with us more! With two kiddos now, it's so nice to have him home at night to help with dinner and bedtime routines instead of heading out the door to run practice. 


  •  One of my focuses this year is taking better care of myself so that I can be a better Mommy, wife, teacher and friend. I am giving myself more grace to make mistakes, try new things and find the beauty in imperfection and progress. I've completed two rounds (and am almost done with my third) of Whole30. This program and book have been life changing!! (More on this to come) 


So, there ya have it, all the happenings from our house!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Starting Over

          I love the idea of blogging, and have several blogs that I read on a daily basis. These bloggers are amazing, and each time I sit down to read their blogs I feel like I'm catching up with an old friend. I love reading their posts, peeking into their daily lives, and finding inspiration for teaching, decorating, parenting and more. I admire and respect these women!!!

          About a two years ago, when I started this blog, I'd decided I was going to become the next great teacher blogging super star. I was going to have the greatest, most mind blowing ideas. People where going to flock to my page, seek my advice and want to buy any and all products that I created. I pumped myself up to become this great, new and improved version of myself, based on someone else.

         **In full disclosure: I also thought I would some how become so much more trendy, have a picture ready home at all hours of the day and have kids who were always perfectly clean and looked like they stepped out of a baby gap ad. Now, I knew perfectly well, that my favorite bloggers don't live like this all the time, and that there blogs were snapshots of the good days. Yet, somewhere in my subconscious I began to put pressure on myself to fit this mold I had created. 

            Turns out. . .  I. Couldn't. Do. It! It just wasn't me.

         I  found myself, pushing my family and students aside to create a perfect post, to complete x number of posts a week, to network and try to build readers. I was spread too thin and not giving any part of my life 100%. So, I stopped. I stopped blogging, stopped the pressure and refocused on what was important at that moment in my life. 

             Fast forward to today. This blog has popped into my mind often over the past year or so. I did love  having my own little spot to keep and call my own, but the way I had been going about it was all wrong.

           So, here I am now, ready to give this a shot once again, but on my own terms. I will blog when the mood strikes, and I will blog for me. If other people choose to follow along, great! The more the merrier!! 

         The Cozy Classroom will be about my adventures in the classroom of Life. Life as a mom, wife, teacher, semi-foodie, wanna be interior decorator, coffee drinking, imperfectly perfect, hot mess! 

         So, if you want to join me in my crazy little circus, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a seat.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Oh My Tiredness!

First of all, thank you so very much for your sweet emails after my last post. I am happy to report that after two weeks, we are into the full routine and happily chugging along. 

But, man o man am I tired!! This poor little blog has taken a back seat to family time, and a 9 o'clock bedtime! I am not even kidding. . . 9 rolls around and I am out for the count. Phew! 

We have been so busy these past two weeks though, it is no surprise that I am wiped out at the end of the day. 

My little crew this year is adorable!! They are the sweetest little group, and I am totally in love! 

We have spent the last two weeks working on all sorts of procedures; everything from lining up, to using scissors and glue, to how we wash our hands for lunch,  and we have been practicing them all over and over again. 

We have also been using Cara Carroll's sweet Say My Name pack to practice recognizing and writing our names as well as the names of our friends. The kiddos looooved using Scrabble Cheeze-Its to sort out letters that are or are not in their names. Who doesn't love an activity that involves food :) 

We have also been working lots on letter recognition, and knowing the difference between capital and lowercase letters. 

When I was in Chicago I was able to attend several workshops that talked about whole brain learning, and the effects that it has on how well a student learns/retains information. We have been ending our little morning meetings with "Choose your ABCs". I found twelve different alphabet clips, that all show the letters as they sing through the alphabet song. Each clip sings the song to a slightly different tune, some rap it, one is a disco version, and they all involve some type of movement. The leader for the day gets to choose which version we watch and sing. 

The kids really seem to love it, and we will see if there is an improvement in their letter recognition. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Excited with a side of heartache

I'm feeling a bit torn today. 

The teacher side of me is super excited for the first day of school!! There is no doubt in my mind that I was born to teach! It is a job I love! I can't wait to meet my new little Kinders this morning, to start a new year and to see all of my teacher friends again. 

But my heart is in two different places. . . 

The Mommy side of me is feeling a bit heart broken. The idea of leaving Edy makes my heart ache bit. I know she will be just fine, and will love spending her days here with Grandma (I also know how super blessed I am to have a mother-in-law who comes to my house to take care of her each day!!), but I will be missing her, our little routines and our summer days together. 

Give me a week or two, and we will be right back into the swing of things, but for now this is where I am at. . . Excited with a side of heartache.