Monday, September 28, 2015

The 4th Annual Great Pumpkin Swap!

Were you worried?

Did you think it wasn't happening this year?

I have sort of not been very active here lately, so I can't blame you if you did.

BUT it's here!

Swaps are so much fun, and I've loved participating in (and hosting) this one for the last three years!  Kristin (from Stuff & Things) and I thought it would be fun to save the swap until fall was really getting under way this year.

If you haven't done a swap before, you don't HAVE to have a blog.  Your partner can share what they're sending on her (or his) blog when it's reveal time.  You can also share your goodies on other social media!  A swap is also a great way to make new friends across the country (or world).  Thanks to this swap, I have met and continue to follow Casey from Everyday Adventures, Rachel from The Ross Family, and last year, Micah from Unabashedly Me.

So here's how things will go this year:

1. Fill out the form to sign up for the swap! Sign-ups end on Friday, October 9th at 11:59pm.
2. By Monday, October 12th, you will get an e-mail from one of us with your swap partner.
3. Once you know your partner, please make contact within 48 hours (by Wednesday, October 14th) to get to know a bit more about each other.
4. Spend $15-$20 (excluding shipping) to put together a fun package for your partner.
5. Mail your package on or before Tuesday, October 27th.
6. Link up with us on Friday, November 6th to share your swap goodies!

It's that easy!  I can't tell you how fun it is to get your swap goodies in the mail.  I am obsessed with getting mail and packages are so much better!  

So fill out the form below to join us!

And for your enjoyment, feel free to go back and see what kind of great goodies I've gotten over the years! :)  (I switched blogs after the first swap, so I don't have my post from my swap with Casey!)

2nd Annual Swap
3rd Annual Swap

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Stuff & Things: Things I Love

Stuff, Things, etc.

I've got a bunch of stuff that I'm loving lately, and I thought that it would be a perfect time to crank out a blog post, link up with Kristin, and share it with all of you!

  • Fall!  As much as I enjoy and look forward to my summer vacation, there's something about fall that I just love so much!  Sure, I have to get up early and go to work, but truthfully, I do love my job, and I function so much better with a routine in my life.  It's not feeling very fall-like yet here in Pennsylvania, and I'm getting a little anxious.  And around here, it's just so gorgeous in the fall.  It's breathtaking! 
  • Boots.  I have a problem.  Tall boots, booties, high heels, wedge heels, flats, I don't discriminate!  One of the reasons I want the weather to cool down is because I want to wear boots, and I know that somehow people wear them all year long or wear them in warmer climates, but no.  If it's hot, I don't want that much of my leg covered up.  

  • I also apparently love plaid.  I was browsing my "Things I Want to Wear" board on Pinterest the other day, and discovered that not only have a pinned mostly cold weather outfits, but many of them involve plaid.  Or leggings.  Or both.  I just ordered a new plaid shirt from Old Navy the other day.  I like the colors.  Still not sure that it fits me the way it's "supposed" to.  I like how the ones fit the girl in the picture.....
So all of that pretty much goes along with fall.  I guess I'm feeling a bit impatient.  Once school starts, I'm just done with summer and summer weather.  I get impatient to move on and get to the next season.  Now, winter on the other hand, I'm not a fan of at all.  I wish fall lasted longer!  That's probably why I like to just get to it.  I think I my mind, I figure if fall gets here sooner rather than later, it will stick around longer.  Doesn't seem to work that way, but a girl can dream, right?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stuff & Things 9/10: Education Edition

Stuff, Things, etc.

Hi everyone!

I've been scarce around these parts lately, so I thought I'd take a moment to link up with Kristin this week!

  • A new school year is under way, and it's off to a good start.  So far, this is a nice group of kiddos!  Some of them even brought me cards and gifts for my birthday even though I really didn't mention it or make a big deal of it.
  • Speaking of school, for the first time, I had a group choose to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as one of their novels this year!  I'm super excited to be giving this brand-new unit a try! 
    I covertly took this picture while the students were working in their groups.  If we're friends on Instagram, you might have seen this with the caption: "Happiness is: Students reading Harry Potter in class!! #hpforever"
  • Tonight is our Open House.  I'm stuck here at work until 7:30 tonight.  On the bright side, I get to have dinner with my bestie after work!
  • I have decided to take a class.  As per some big wigs in education somewhere, we now only need to have a formal observation in PA every 3 years.  The other two years, we need to do some sort of project.  Last year, I completed a portfolio based on a math strategy I was implementing after attending a conference.  This year, I decided I was in the mood to take a class, and I figured that I would kill two birds with one stone by completing a self-directed research project.  I found a class about working with gifted students in the regular ed classroom through Learners Edge.  One area in which we are lacking at my school is growing and enriching our gifted/advanced learners.  We are focused on our struggling students because that is our largest population, and advanced students get lost in the shuffle because they'll "be fine" no matter what!
With all of that being said, it's time for me to check back in with my reading groups!

What's up with you lately??

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

August Books

I really enjoy writing these monthly book reviews.  It helps motivate me to keep reading, and it's WAY better than writing a post for each book I read.  I've been reading as much as I can this summer, and I'm sure everyone I would get annoyed with a separate post for each book.  Now that school has started up again, I'll probably be reading less, but my Audible subscription is back again (I suspended my account for the summer), so at least I'll get to listen to books on my commute!

SpelledSpelled by Betsy Schow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book! It's one of the books that I read very quickly this summer!

While I did find myself trying to fit the story to the original Wizard of Oz tale, I found that it doesn't work! It's just a completely new story. There are Wizard of Oz elements thrown in with many other fairy tale references, characters, and creatures. I enjoyed following Dorthea through the story and how she changed and grew. Definitely a fun read!  I actually decided to put this one in my classroom library.  It's still pretty new, so it's not listed as an AR (Accelerated Reader) book yet, but I'm hoping that my students who just love to read will enjoy it as much as I did.  Plus, I did use my Barnes & Noble Educator's card to get a discount when I bought it, so I felt like I should at least put one of the books I bought in my classroom......

These next three books came in a set that I purchased with my bonus points from Scholastic!  It almost feels like cheating to call them three separate books....THEY ARE three separate books....but they were short, quick, and easy reads.  I read them all easily in a couple of hours.

The Tales of Beedle the BardThe Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The version I have of this book contains additional notes by Professor Albus Dumbledore and J.K. Rowling which takes it to a whole new level. I love that Rowling took time to create actual books that were mentioned in the Harry Potter series. It just takes everything to another level! The tales themselves were much like Muggle fairy tales, but for me, what put this over the top is reading Dumbledore's thoughts about them.  Albus Dumbledore's "notes" were included after each story in the book.

Quidditch Through the AgesQuidditch Through the Ages by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I am admittedly fascinated that J.K. Rowling wrote these books discussed in the Harry Potter series, this one was definitely not my favorite. It was interesting to read a little bit about the history of Quidditch. But it just didn't strike me the way that "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" or "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" did.

No matter, this is definitely a must-read for Harry Potter fans!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find ThemFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was actually surprised that I liked this one so much! Obviously, a replicated text book from Hogwarts, it didn't sound truly thrilling. BUT it was fun to read about the many different magical creatures, their locations, and their danger classifications. What put this book over the top for me are the handwritten comments and drawings by Harry & Ron.

Definitely a fun and easy read!

Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied ParisAvenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was my most recent Blogging for Books pick.  So I did write a separate post for that one.  You can see my full review here.

Dancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and ConvictionDancing Through Life: Steps of Courage and Conviction by Candace Cameron Bure

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Candace Cameron Bure! I really do! I listened to this book via Audible, and I didn't want to stop.

Though I've never seen Dancing with the Stars (I want to watch a season now!), I loved hearing about Candace's journey as a contestant on the show. It was inspiring how she shares her journey and how she managed to be a shining example of the Christian Faith as she performed. Throughout the process, Candace maintained her integrity and convictions as a Christian woman, and she was not afraid to share the times where she was falling short! She gives great reminders and ideas (backed up with scripture) for ways to stand your ground when the world is against you.

So glad I chose this book for my monthly credit. It was wonderful that she narrated the book as well. Who better to tell your own story than yourself!?

If you're a fan on Candace's, Full House, Dancing with the Stars, or are a woman of faith, this book is for you!

The King's Curse (The Cousins' War, #6)The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Philippa Gregory does it again! Her stories always draw me in. I very much respect that her books come from in-depth research and attention to detail, while creatively filling in the blanks of what is unknown about her heroines.

This is the 6th book in The Cousins' War series, and is told from Margaret Pole's point-of-view. It was especially interesting because this book begins during the reign of Henry VII, with Margaret, cousin to Henry's wife, Elizabeth being at the heart of court. The book spans through to Henry VIII taking Kitty Howard as a wife. I've read about all of the other exploits of Henry VIII in Gregory's other novels. I always enjoy hearing the stories again from another character's perspective.

It was fascinating to read more about Margaret Pole, her life, her family, and her role in English history.
And there you have the month of August!  I set a goal to read 30 books this year on  I am only 3 books away from reaching my goal, as I have read 27 books so far this year!  I am 8 books ahead of schedule, and I am pretty sure that I will surpass my goal for 2015!

Have you read any good books lately?

How are you doing with your reading goals??

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