Category Archives: Recipes

Eagle Pose – Many Ways

Last weekend, I went to the Doylestown Farmer’s Market for the first time this year.  It was a generally unpleasant experience, with a winery owner offending me about my age, a pickle man who tried to hide that he sweetens with Spelnda, and a bakery owner who acted offended when I suggested they make granola.  Sigh.  But I did buy a nice yellow squash from a smiling farmer!

(See my mom’s face reflected in the countertop?  Hahah!)

For dinner the other night, I sliced it into thin discs and sauteed it in olive oil and S&P until it was almost translucent.  I added it to some Uncle Ben’s whole-grain medley and festooned it with lemon juice.

It was a lovely yellowy light meal before my mom and I went to the movies and ate our real dinner: popcorn 😉 [PS: Today I topped a veggie burger with some of the sauteed squash–great summer meal!]

We saw The Help and I LOVED it.  I like to pretend that I read the book before it went “mainstream” and it’s absolutely positively the best book I’ve ever read (well, aside from Harry Potter, but that’s in a league of its own ;)).  Naturally, I was nervous about seeing the movie for fear of blasphemy, but I thought they did a really great job with it!  Totally did it justice.  It’s been over a year since I read the book, so I may have forgotten vital details that got lost from print to screen (like how Rachel was biracial), but I really liked some of the things they changed.  For example, Hilly’s mom.  What a freakin’ hoot.  That character wouldn’t have worked in the book, but she was a gem in the movie!

And now for my favorite yoga pose of the moment!

Eagle pose. Garudasana.  By twisting squeezing your arms and legs together, holding and balancing, then releasing, you get a rush of fresh blood throughout your limbs.  It feels like a sigh of relief for your extremities!

Photo borrowed from Yoga Journal's website 🙂

  • Be sure to cross opposites, meaning right arm on top of left arm/left left leg on top of right leg.  Then, work on shifting your torso so that the elbows and knees line up. This is where the balance challenge comes into play.
  • It’s really important to keep your weight over your heel so you don’t hurt your knee or ankle. Bend as low as you can to build up strength and press the legs tighter!
  • It’s also best if you can bring your elbows parallel to your shoulders and try to make a right angle with your forearms.  This gives a great stretch to your shoulders and upper back.

But eagle pose doesn’t always have to be done standing up.  I love doing eagle legs while I am in headstand or shoulderstand, or just randomly doing the arms to give my shoulders a wringout.  Or, like Ghia, I like to do it when I’m laying down.

I lay on my back, bring my arms and legs up above me, eagle-ify them, then do a twist (legs to one side, arms to the other side).  I should say that I used to do that, because I just tried it and I’m way too tight!  I can’t wait to get back into my real practice (attending classes at Yoga Vermont 6 days a week) and get my yoga body back!

Good thing I only have to wait a couple more days!  This is my last week at home for the summer, so I’ve been trying to get in some quality time with all my lovies.  My sister Sam and I went to Chipotle for lunch the other day, and it might be my favorite vegan fast-food spot!  I got a “Vegetarian Bowl” with everything but sour cream and cheese.

It was HUGE! I at half for lunch and the other half for dinner.  If you’ve never ordered this, safely but speedily get to your nearest Chipotle.  The rice was one of my favorite parts: cilantro-lime AND you can choose brown rice!  Don’t be tempted by the pinto beans, they have bacon in them, which the kind lady helping me pointed out.  But that’s OK because you get black beans!!!  Then, of course, sauteed onions and peppers.  I chose all of the salsas AND guacamole.  Dominique heard a rumor that they don’t charge extra for guac in the vegetarian orders, but sometimes she makes things up.  Plus we got some chips on the side, which I happily used as a vessel for eating my bowl.  No side of salsa or guac necessary!

Speaking of Dominique, I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with her, too.  This is what we did yesterday:

  1. Went to Starbucks
  2. Got a mani-pedi
  3. Went on a long walk around the neighborhood
  4. Watched Sex and the City way past our bedtime

We sort of sound like bimbos! Lol!  Do we look like bimbos?

iced coffee with soymilk

iced green tea latte with soymilk

I got a nice bloody red color on my nails, because I love vampires.

Know of any other good vegan fast-food joints?




Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, Recipes, Yoga

Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Recipes

I’ve been doing a lot of cooking the past few days!  And I would like to share a few of the vegan recipes that I created – my whole family enjoyed them!

First,  I have stuffed peppers.  This is really just a Spanish rice recipe stuffed into some green bell peppers 😉

  • First, get some brown rice cooking.
  • Then, chop off the tops and remove the seeds from some bell peppers.  Dice up the pepper caps along with some stewed tomatoes.  Cook up about 3/4 pound mock meat crumbles, like Morningstar brand, in a frying pan.  Add the peppers, tomatoes, and some corn to the pan.  Stir in 1/2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp pepper to the mix.
  • Add the rice to the veggie mix, stuff the peppers and bake until the pepper is softened.

We had these for dinner the other night, and my whole family loved them!! They used ground chicken and added some cheese into their peppers, but they were easily transformed into a full vegan meal.  Just one pepper was so filling, and I especially loved how spicy there were 🙂

The other day I discovered a great vegan Spinach and Artichoke dip!  It’s actually just Sabra spinach and artichoke hummus warmed up in the microwave for a few seconds!  Tastes just like the real, creamy, cheesy thang!

Then, last night I made dinner so that my mom would have time to go to pilates with me!   I served:

Summertime Succotash from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone  (the only change I made: edamame instead of lima beans)

Seared Portobellos from Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan  by Dreena Burton (I added some sliced onions to the pan, too)

Emma’s Garlic Bread My creation!  I lined a baking sheet with foil, sliced Italian sesame bread, and arranged it on the pan.  I drizzled olive oil on one side, then flipped them over.  I minced two cloves of garlic and mixed it with some olive oil, then painted the mixture on the other side of the bread with a pastry brush.  (I also drizzled some Parmesan cheese on a few for the cheese-eaters.)  I popped them in the oven on 450* for 10 minutes.  So crunchy and delicious!

All those these recipes were ridiculously delicious and tasty, but I loved them most because my family loved them too!  I hate to be an inconvenience to my family when I eat vegan, but I get such a high off the feeling that my family understands and appreciates the food I like to eat, too!

Are your vegan recipes a hit with the whole family?


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Filed under Food, Life, Recipes

Legs Up on the Wall

Before we left for Trivia Monday night, I was hit by intense hunger!  So I ate some Big Cheez-Its, which are obviously better than the regular kind, and I also tried some dark chocolate-covered prunes, which are actually really good!

At dinner, my mom and I ended up splitting the vegetarian nachos after some buttered rolls as an appetizer.  Then, we each got a pear salad with walnuts and goat cheese, which is really good!  My favorite thing on the menu; every pub should have it.  My friend Nicole and I went crazy and ordered the warm brownie with ice cream for dessert, which was simply heavenly!  It had whipped cream with chocolate AND vanilla ice cream.  Plus, it was sprinkled with espresso powder.  I told you it was heavenly! Should have photographed it…

As for trivia, we came in third place.  Respectable.

Yesterday, after a very filling breakfast

(of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and some banana slices) I did a yoga session from Yoga Today.  This week’s free class is a beginner’s class, but I really enjoyed it!  Since I’ve been doing a lot of strength training and intense cardio lately, I am leaning on my yoga practice as more of restoration and meditation than anything.

After yoga, I hit up the Y for a pilates class and a good hard run on the treadmill.  It was actually one of my best runs, ever!  For someone like me who does not own a Garmin watch, I like treadmill runs so that I can really see what I am accomplishing.  Yesterday, I did 3 miles in under 30 minutes, which I have only been able to do a few times!  Yay!

Once back from the gym, I made a wrap with roasted garlic hummus and a little egg frittata with peppers and tomatoes.  Corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob on the side!

As a little lunch “dessert” I had the rest of my banana from breakfast…but with some nutella!

After lunch, I ran many, many errands.  My car does not have working air conditioning so it is very the “h” word.  My cars radio has also recently become posessed by the devil, so it is going a bit haywire.  Result: I was going a bit haywire.

So once I got home, I had another slice of pound cake as a snack 🙂

Then, I made a really easy, delicious, and exciting dinner!!  I made naan pizzas, and all you need is onions,



BBQ sauce,

and whole wheat naan!

These naan pizzas were inspired by this recipe from Eat, Live, Run.  She even baked the dough, but I just topped the naan with some BBQ sauce, shredded gouda, caramelized onions, and some chickpeas.  Then I just popped them in the oven for 8 minutes at 450*!

They were a hit 🙂

After dinner, Dominique and I went to her house for dessert.  We had some digestive biscuits they brought back from Scotland, plus I had a lolly pop we brought back from NZ.  They are called “Starburst Sucks”


Then, Dominique and I proceeded to do even more errands, during which we ate a box of Hello Panda.  Have you ever had them?  They are awesome and currently on sale at Target for a dollar.


When we came back, she made us a smoothie from frozen berries, almond milk, and protein powder while we watched America’s Got Talent.  Turns out, America doesn’t really have that much talent.

This morning, I played it safe and just went to a yoga class after having a similar breakfast to Monday’s.  It was actually a really great class!  It was relatively challenging while still opening my muscles gently.  This class has an extra half hour of restorative postures at the end, which I LOVE these days.  Everyone should try this today: it’s called “Legs Up on the Wall”

You can even do it in the dorms! He we are before bed at Pitt.

All you do it lay down, scoot your butt against a wall, and straighten your legs up above you.  If your hamstrings are super tight, you can put a pillow or blanket under your bum.  I like to use a strap to pull down your feet for an extra stretch, or you can simple lay your arms comfortably out at a T.  Hold it for at least ten minutes, then do a forward fold afterwards to make sure everything lines back up right.  It’s awesomeness!  It’s great for opening your legs, back, and even your chest!  All in a very gentle, restorative way.  I try to do it every night because you can do it lying on a bed against a wall, too!

After yoga, I made some cinnamon toasted chickpeas!

I pasically sprayed some chickpeas with cooking spray, drizzled them with cinnamon sugar and nutmeg, and then put them in the toaster oven for 10 minutes.  They were a great little snack, but I also had to have one of these Special K bars to curb my hunger.

I love them because they are only 90 calories and they taste like a rice krispy treat, but I also hate them becuase they are highly processed.  I should have just had another serving of the chickpeas!  But I eventually did get that extra serving of chickpeas…on some leftover pizza for lunch!  And of course…corn-on-the-cob-off-the-cob.

Try the “Legs Up on the Wall” pose and let me know how you like it!


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Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, Recipes, Yoga

Healthier Blueberry-Lemon Pound Cake

Thank you so much for all the kind responses to yesterday’s post!  I do want to clarify that I do not think that I need to lose weight, I just wanted to share why I hate the scale: it makes me feel fat if it shows a larger number than I have previously seen.  Even when I am in great shape and loving how I look! xoxo

Today was a fantastic Sunday!  It’s my big brother’s 23rd birthday.  Happy Birthday, Dave!

He got an iPhone. He is happy.

This morning, I joined my parents on their Sunday morning coffee date.  This creature came along, to:


I got a nonfat capuccino (with cinnamon!) and had a few bites of a blueberry scone while enjoying some quality time with my parents on the porch of Starbucks.  After two p’nut butt- stuffed dates, I hit the gym for 30 minutes of gettin’ schweaty on the elliptical, followed by a very restorative, cooling yoga class.

After the gym, I went to Village Bagel Co. for lunch with my siblings David and Sam.  I ordered a Harvest Wheat bagel toasted with Spinach and Artichoke cream cheese.  I was so excited to see that flavor because I’ve been craving S&A dip!  We came home to eat the bagels, but we had some of my dad’s fantastic home fries on the side, too.

I also tried some of the egg whites my mom cooked up with leftover asparagus and peppers.

And some yummy peach slices, too!  Juicy and schweet and good.

After David opened presents (he was thrilled to receive a shower curtain from his loving sister ;)) I quickly got ready to see Harry Potter with Dominique and Andy.  My Aunt Paula came along, too!  I saw it last week while I was in Vermont, but I needed to see it with Dominique, too, since our mutual obsession of the series is a huge part of our friendship.  We loved it.  We always do.  I don’t feel comfortable to make any other “concluding” comments because I refuse to believe that it could “conclude!”  I will say that I always think of the movies as more of an interpretation of the books than a depiction, but I really enjoy watching the scenes come to life.

After the movie, the family headed to Ooka Japanese restaurant for David’s birthday dinner.  Edamame, shumai, and sushi rolls were shared by all.  I love going out for sushi since I can’t make it at home.  It’s just plain fun!  I also love how light everything is–I always feel full, but not in a sluggish way.

Gram L. is 86 and it was her first time trying sushi!!! And she LOVED it!  But it wasn’t her first time drinking.

That’s a joke, she just had water 😉

At home, we had cake and ice cream! Well, technically it was chocolate chip cookie dough frozen yogurt, yet equally awesome.  I had mine in a barbie cup.

Quirk about me: I like to stir up my ice cream so that it turns into soft-serve lol

DISCLAIMER: I WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO BEN AND JERRY’S.  Ben and Jerry’s is perfect just the way it is ❤

My mom, Sam and I made the cake yesterday.  Isn’t it beautiful?  I was the one to break it a little bit while taking it out of the pan.  My bad!  I’m not the best baker 😉

I wanted to share the recipe because it’s a lower-calorie, lower-fat twist on pound cake from Cooking Light Magazine (the July/August 1998 issue).  And you would never know the difference!  Its so moist, dense, and full of flavor.  We used freshly-picked blueberries, which helps too 🙂  You must try it.


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light butter
  • ½ 8-oz block 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-oz carton lemon low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350*
  2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes).  Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well.  Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes; remove from pan.  Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in small bowl, drizzle over warm cake.  [Note from David: Double the glaze ;)]  Cut with a serrated knife.

Yield 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice); Calories 287 (19% from fat); Fat 6.1g (sat 3.4g, mono 1.8g, poly 0.4g); Protien 5.7g; Carb 53.9g; Fiber 1.5g; Chol 57mg; Iron 1.3 mg; Sodium 227mg; Calc 50mg

Do you have any easy substitutions to healthify your baking?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, Recipes

My First Body Pump Class

I have been desperate to incorporate strength training into my healthy living routine since it’s so good for your bones, gives you a hot bod, and burns fat like mad.  But, my aversion to weight machines and my infidelity with free weight exercises have made it difficult for me to find a way to commit to strength training and really see results!  Previously, I have considered yoga to be my strength workout (specifically Ashtanga) but even though there are tons of strengthening poses, we all know that it isn’t quite to the same caliber of lifting weights!

Since she came home for the summer, my best friend Dominique has been attending Body Pump.  I’m proud to say that Body Pump is yet another amazing thing to come out of New Zealand!  Basically, Body Pump is a strength training class where you lift weights to pop music with synchronized movements.  Dominique raves about how empowering it is and how she has seen results!  It didn’t take too much convincing for me to join Dominique at a Body Pump class, but I won’t lie, I was nervous!  Nervous that I wouldn’t know what to do or that it would be way to hard for me.

But, I was pleasantly surprised!  First, we collected our equipment, which was the most stressful part of the entire class.  After Dominique helped me, it was really quite simple!  You need to grab a bar and collect the weights you need to make a lighter set of weights and a heavier set of weights.  The instructor will indicate to you when to use your heavier weights or your lighter weights.  Since it was my first class, I stuck with two each of the smallest weight and the middle weight.  The moves were not complicated at all, the class was really easy to follow, and it was actually a lot less intense than I had expected.  But boy was I sore the next day!  It was exactly what I was looking for! It really was fun to lift weights to music – the synchronicity of the moves to the beat is really exciting!  And it’s great having an instructor to remind me of good form and to keep me motivated.  I’m hooked!

So what else has been going on in my life?  Last weekend I went to my Grandfather’s lake house to finally spend time with my family.  Did you know that I have 12 cousins?  I got to see 11 of them, but I was SO happy to meet my new baby cousin, Reese!

She turned three months old on the 4th of July.  What a little angel!  It was a rough weekend for me since it was the first time I had been with the whole family since my Nanny passed, but at the same time in spite of that/because of that, I had never been so happy to see everyone!

At home, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking!  Last night I made stuffed portabella pizzas from Oh She Glows.

They were really simple and really delicious!

I have been feeling a little bit under the weather with migraines and severe sleepiness, but last night I slept for over 10 hours, so hopefully I’m all set.   But to feel better while I’ve stayed at home the past few days, trying to relax, I’ve been watching my newest guilty pleasure: The Bachelorette:

It’s awesome.  I knew that as soon as I started watching it, I would become addicted, and I was right!  I can’t get enough!!  Some of the guys are so cute, the elaborate dates are so pretty to watch, and I am positively beside myself as I watch all the mistakes she makes.  HAHAHAHAHA!

While I spend my afternoons taking advantage of my free month of Hulu Plus, I spend my mornings at the gym!  Today I went to yoga, then did some cardio on the treadmill and elliptical, and finished off my morning at a pilates class.  I was really looking forward to my morning at the gym today because last night I got my first birthday present…

New Asic running shoes!

They are way more cushioned than my old pair New Balance running shoes that I got at Marshall’s 😉

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but my favorite feature is that the laces are off-center, placed where your foot naturally moves!  How cool is that!  I broke them in today and I’m excited to see where we go together!

In other news, it’s almost my birthday and apparently the celebrations begin today!  Dominique is picking me up today at 5:30 for some secret location.  I can’t wait!  I’m going to go curl my hair…

Have you ever tried Body Pump?


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, Recipes, Running, Yoga

Tomato Carrot Risotto

I woke up bright and early this morning to run, and guess what??? Run, I did! I was gone for about 40 minutes and though I had to walk a lot (it’s amazing how quickly I fall out-of-shape) I think I ran for at least 15 minutes of it.  My muscles were tired, but there was absolutely no joint pain.  I’ll take it!  I would also like to share that I was very hot and sweaty.

I know, family, that I just warned you about how cold and rainy it would be when you arrive. I guess just be prepared for the unexpected!

Since my run was successful and I was feeling pretty on-to-of-the-world, I cracked down and chugged out my final reflection paper on my practicum.  I’ve copied it below, in case you are interested 😉   Then, continuing the productive-ness, I went to the library to print out my Maths assignment, which occurred without a hitch (well, on my part.  Hannah had some difficulties.  There’s always something at that place!)  Now I am that much closer to being on summer vacation!  I just need to study for and take my Maori culture final on Friday….

It’s 10:30am at this point and it hits me: I had not had my coffee OR oatmeal yet!!! I guess my early AM dates gave me all the nourishment and power I needed…up until then lol.  Not one to skip I meal, I whipped up a simple bowl of apple oatmeal…without peanut butter!!! Shocking, I know.  Our tub is dwindling and frankly, I didn’t need it.  It was deliciously simple.  I might even try oatmeal without any fruit soon!  But that seems just a little too carb-y.  I feel like I’ll need fruity nutrients?  Rambling.  Sorry.

Very soon after my fundamentalist bowl of oatmeal, I had lunch because, well, it was lunchtime!  And I was hungry!  Running makes me hungry 🙂  I quickly sauteed some of the leftover chopped veggies (mushrooms, peppers, and onions) from last night, which I plopped on top of a piece of toast with sundried tomato hummus.

That hummus is to DIE for.  Seriously, the taste is out-of-this-world.  I can’t right now, but I’ll snap a photo of the package tomorrow so y’all can go buy it.  Of course, and of it was all on top of some lettuce!

Scrumptious!  After lunch, I had my last education class, during which we talked about Montessori schools (a type of schooling system that, at least for maths, uses solely tactile materials to teach concepts).  Several unbelievable things happened during class today.

  1. We had a guest speaker talking to us about the Montessori schools, and at times she would ask us to gather around a table to watch a demonstration.  Well, some of the NZ biddies just stayed in their seats, chatting and dicking (language–sorry but I am disgruntled) around on their laptops.
  2. I was watching a demonstration from my chair, and one of them stood DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF ME.  Literally, his ass (again, pardon my French) was in my face.
  3. We had to read a handout and then discuss with out groupmates what we thought were the most important things.  Well, as my group started discussing, one of the biddiest of the NZ biddies shushed me!!!!

Unbelievable on so many levels.  What did I do?  Continued to be the good student and respectful classmate that I am.  And felt very righteous for it.

On the bus home, my friends Rose and Becca told Hannah and I about this awesome pancake place they discovered, right by the bus stop.  I didn’t need much convincing to tag along for a post-class snack 😉

For just nz$3 a pancake, Hannah and I decided to split a chocolate one.

There they are, sliding about in the oil!

Rose, Me, Hannah, and Becca

Hot + ready = excited girls! 😉

Imma eat-chooo!!!

Two words: yum and wow.  It sort of tasted like funnel cake-meet-chocolate chip pancake.  I can only pray that this doesn’t become a habit.  Thanks for introducing me, Rose and Becca!

When I got home, I did some logistical work on my computer, then promptly started cooking.  Dreading another night of stir-fry, I convinced my self that I could make tomato risotto with brown rice and the (ghastly) tomato paste still in the fridge.  I started by sauteeing two cloves of garlic with as much of the Italian Herb Paste as I could squeeze out (running on empty!).  Then, I added the tomato paste and some soymilk.  There was WAY too much garlic!  I never thought I’d see the day.  Hannah had the great idea of adding some veggies, so she shredded half a carrot as I added more and more soymilk.  We just kept adding and tasting until finally, we nailed it!

With the rice, it made an nearly perfect combination!  For a few minutes there, I thought the meal was a destined failure, but with a little teamwork, we made it happen!

What was your latest triumphant kitchen experiment?


Here is my final reflection on my NZ school placement, in case you are interested.  It’s a sorta formal write-up for my professor back at UVM, so it focuses mostly on the technical teacher stuff. 

I have learned a lot from my placement here in New Zealand, but there are two things that will leave a lasting impression: grouping by ability and Guided Reading.  The entire numeracy and literacy programs in my class have essentially been set up with ability groups and small-group instruction.  There are rarely mixed-ability groups, which at first I thought would create a stigma of the “lowest” or “best” group, but the instructional benefits outweigh those issues.  It is much easier to create lessons that are geared toward individuals, it is easier to track progress, and it provides developmentally appropriate instruction.  All of which benefits their learning.  In literacy, the teacher-guided small ability-group lessons are called “Guided Reading” sessions.  Guided reading is a great way to teach literacy by ability because you can read a book together at the students’ level and take the time to go over the bits you want to focus on.  Plus, in the small group, students will feel secure enough to take risks and ask questions.

Dominion Road Primary school had a very effective and well-developed behavior management system that I learned a lot from.  The vice principal, Brenda, taught me everything in our interview.  They use antecedent strategies to prevent behaviors, which I think is key to preventing bad behaviors from happening.  By making the behavior expectations clear and setting up a positive, supportive environment, then students won’t need to act out.  Behavior problems will always occur, and I have learned two strategies for dealing with them.  For menial misbehavior, it is good to ask the students if they are making a good choice.  This gives them the power to change their own behavior and show you that they know what is good behavior.  A major conflict can be solved by debriefing the situation with the student(s) involved.  A fair, supportive conversation about a management issue is the most diplomatic way to address problems and it gives students tools to use those same strategies to solve their own problems in the future.  In addition, I learned the importance of balancing the lesson and school day with individual work, group work, whole-class instruction, and free time so that students stay on-task.  Even better, I did not find any discrepancies in my research and Responsive Classroom readings about American styles of behavior management.  Kids are kids, anywhere in the world.

Though my mentor teacher has given me a lot of praise, I still would like to work on a few things before student teaching.  For example, I want to make sure that I am continually planning what my next steps will be.  It is not only important to assess how the students did with a certain lesson, but it’s even more important to know what to do next to help them move on or get more instruction on something they don’t understand.  I also think that I can always be working on understanding the standards and keeping my lessons aligned.  It is so difficult with a diverse class, but it’s important to stick to the objectives and make sure that you are teaching the students the appropriate skills and/or content.

Pre-planning my lessons has really helped me feel more confident as a teacher.  It helps me to keep the learning objectives in mind as I am teaching, and it gives me an opportunity to plan for my behavior management.  When I have prepared the strategies I want to use, it prevents behavior disruptions from getting in the way of my class’s learning.  I also think that I need to do a lot of background research when I am planning a lesson.  I need to be prepared for the types of questions that my class might ask me about a certain topic we are reading about.  I want to make sure that I have enough background knowledge to contribute to their learning and inspire their curiosity.  I would also like to work on planning what to do if a lesson takes a completely different turn.  For example, if the students are completely lost or over-confident during the warm up, I would want to plan some alternative activities to do in case I feel like the lesson would not be worthwhile.

It has been really exciting to notice my role as a teacher change throughout the beginning of this semester.  I am doing more full-block teaching than I ever thought I would be allowed to do at this stage.  At first, I just lead parts of a lesson or a transition into a break.  Now I am doing all of that and more!  Its been really helpful to feel that independence, and the corresponding responsibility, because now I have much more of an idea of what it will be like to have the class for the entire day.  I have also become much more of a legitimate assessor.  I used to think that I could just observe assessment because I wasn’t qualified enough to actually conduct them and have the results count for something; but now, after the TGMI and all of my running records, I feel like I am equipped with the knowledge to make comprehensive assessments on students.

When I think about the past semester, I feel really good about my overall style of teaching.  I think that my priorities really shined through.  My number one goal to being a good teacher is to get to know each of my students as a person, and I feel like I really did that with my class.  It certainly helped my instruction to be more individualized since I knew their interests, weaknesses, and gifts.  My teacher gave me a lot of feedback about how my caring, compassionate nature and positivity created a non-threatening environment where students felt comfortable and even excited to learn.  That was my main goal, so I’m glad that I accomplished it!

My next steps in my process of becoming a teacher is to really look at inquiry learning and how to integrate it into my numeracy and literacy programs.  I want to do more research about science and social studies that I can easily incorporate into my literacy programs (with things such as magazines) and my numeracy program (with things such as science experiments).  My school in New Zealand focused a lot on fitness, music, and art, but the core curriculum was rarely tied into it.  I’m excited to discover ways to make for more wholesome, realistic learning experiences.  I also think it would be helpful to get to know the US standards like the back of my hand, since, compared to the New Zealand standards, they are really logical and essential for driving instruction.

Honestly, the most important thing that I will take away from this experience is my class.  I will never forget my little class full of Kiwi children.  I will never forget their little accents and how they “corrected” my pronunciation and spelling.  I will never forget about how eager they were to learn more about America and to teach me about New Zealand.  I will never forget how sweetly nurturing they were when they learned that I lost my grandmother.  I will never forget the relationships I made with them, and it makes me sad that in a few weeks, I will be half a world away from them.  But, as they remind me with song, we all live on “Just One Earth” and we will always be connected.


Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, Running, School, Student Teaching, Travel

How to Use Rice Paper

Happy Birthday, Queen!  sorry the party’s so lame.

It’s officially been the most stressful day of the semester.  I spent the entirety of it trying to finish my Maths project.  Please tell me: how am I supposed to describe and justify 40 different maths activities, ensuring that they all are aligned to the learner’s level, using literature support, and IN ONLY 2000 WORDS!?  It’s simply not possible. That equates to an average of 50 words per activity.

My Maths Week's Outlined Plans

Yep, it is simply not possible.  To do at what I consider sufficiently detailed.  So, I do what apparently “level six” students are supposed to do to prove their academia: cut corners.  It was SO painful to delete all of my creative activities in lieu of brief description.  At least now I can proudly say that I am DONE!

Just under the absolute max: 2200

As long as the library printers don’t condemn me in the morning……please pray for me :-/

I couldn’t print it out today because it is the Queen’s Birthday (not actually Elizabeth II’s bday) and though it is “finals” time, the library was inevitably closed.  I also did not have Reading class because of the jolly good holiday, and my yoga studios were closed, too.  Thank god your highness because apparently I needed every moment of today to produce and acceptable finished product.

I did get a nice break in the morning to chat with the family and discuss our Scheduled Fun for their upcoming visit.  I won’t spoil the details, but here are a few highlights:

  • Rugby
  • Kapa Haka
  • Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Devonport
  • Sky Tower
  • Rangitoto
  • Auckland Museum

I can’t wait!!!!

Last night’s dinner was–you guessed it!–stir-fry!  With rice this time.  And soy sauce, onions, carrots, bok choy, and green bell peppers.

And sesame seeds!!! Exotic, I know.  But I what really made things exciting, was that I divided mine into a few rice papers.

And wrapped ’em up!

Asian burritos ❤

I bought a package of small round rice papers for nz$5 from an Asian market a few months ago, and its a great way to add variety.  You just need to soak them in water for a few minutes before you can use them, add a large spoonful in the middle, and wrap it up like a burrito.  They are great fresh, like I had last night, but I’ve also baked them and fried them 🙂

Today my banana oatmeal was a little bit special because I decided on a whim to add a spoonful of mixed fruit jam.

Doesn’t that picture look slimy and gross?! That’s why I made it small 😉

For lunch, I had a PB&J in the midst of my stress.  It was quick, easy, comforting, and filling!  It even held me over until dinner, which actually was pretty different!  I tried to make omelets for Hannah and I, which promptly fell apart, but they were still delicious.  I beat 3 eggs with a splash of soymilk and mixed in onions, mushroom, and green peppers.  I was obviously very spaced out from my day because I forgot to take pictures!  ososorry!!  We also ate salad on the side.

I’m about to go do some yoga to calm my mind.  I didn’t have enough time or energy today for a proper practice, which I had planned on, but I was not expecting today to be quite to torturous.  So just some gentle, restorative stuff tonight! I’m looking forward to it!

Last night I finished “Something Blue” by Emily Giffin.  It did insult my intelligence (you needed NO inferencing skills to comprehend this book, #teachernerd) but I certainly enjoyed it.  It was so quick and easy to read, plus the ending was so delicious!  It was exactly what I needed: something light, something sappy, something uplifting.  Tonight I’m starting “Say You’re One of Them” by Uwem Akpan.

It’s a compilation of short stories about various issues in Africa: hunger, slavery, religious conflict.  I have a huge interest in hunger, so I am excited to learn more about it.  Education is KEY!  And I think I’m emotionally stable enough these days to handle it 😉  The weird thing is that I found this in the fiction section…is it fiction?  I feel like they are true stories?  I shall find out.

Have you ever worked with rice paper?



Filed under Fitness, Food, Life, New Zealand, Recipes, School, Travel, Yoga