Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School, back to school...

So for the past week or so I've been doing something at least every day to prepare for school.  Some days I worked longer (and harder!) than others, but at the end of the week I think I can easily say that I'm prepared (maybe not ready!) to go back.  I've even changed some things around in my room thanks to various ideas I collected over the summer either from books or Pinterest.  What would I do without Pinterest?  I've gotten tons of 8x10 printed poster ideas from there, and with Kyle's handy knowledge of Photoshop, I've also got homemade pictures that he made me from coloring pages!

Here are some pictures of the more decorated sections of my classroom:

Remember this project?  Here's the final result using the screws already in place.

Some of these are encouragement, some just fact!

I loved these two so much I framed them!

Had to have Michael Scott somewhere in my room.

Here's a close-up of some of my new favorites:

This one's from last year (still my favorite), but I had it laminated, so that's new?

Kyle just made this one for me last night.

The one I don't have sitting out.  I've laminated it and blew it up and will put it on the board when the kids are taking a test.

How could this one not be in my classroom?

This is too funny.  I'm also making one for one of my math teacher friends.

I have to say, overall there is a lot more color in the room!  Elementary teachers seem to have rooms that have specific themes (my sister's is some sort of nature or bird theme or a mix between the two), but in high school, I've found that the more colorful, the more inviting.  The more inviting, the more awake your kids will be.  Plus, the color makes me happier to be in the room.  And since I live in the room for upwards of 35 hours a week, I think it's important that I like it, too.

I've also added an alarm clock to my room (you can see it on the shelf next to Michael Scott).  It's the one I picked up from Goodwill that I didn't know what to do with!  But I'm going to see if I can use it to keep time for SSR (Silent Sustained Reading).  I haven't played with it too much yet, but it's a cool clock, so I definitely want to use it!

I also bought four bright-green pillowcases and brought in four old bed pillows from home to put back by my reading bookcase.  The plan is that the kids can use them during SSR time.  But don't worry; there are pillow rules.  And classes can also lose pillow privileges.  I think these will also be the pillows Kyle uses when he's subbing at the high school and has the same preps I do.  He likes to lay down for a nap every now and then :)

I use an outside board to show what kids will need during class so that if they've forgotten anything, they can go get it right away.  The problem is that my kids (and kids from other classes), drag their fingers through the lists in effort to be funny.  This annoys me to no end.  I'm not sure if I'll use it this year, but on the first day I do make sure to write my name on the outside so the kids know they're in the right place.  Kyle wanted to do it this year, and here's what he surprised me with:

There have been a few kids stop by various classrooms back in my area and almost all have commented in awed whispers on Batman.  He's also still intact after two days of students.  Maybe we've found something that will garner enough respect to stay whole on my outside board for awhile.  If not, Kyle can draw him in under a minute flat, so he could very easily be put back on the board.

I've been planning, creating, copying, and decorating all week!  All I have left to do is put my kids' names in my attendance book and make some seating charts.  Although I can't be too specific on here, I've noticed quite a few things about my classes just by looking at the rosters.  Besides the typical last names I've always seen and siblings of students I've had previously, I have six students who are children of colleagues.  And almost all are in the same class!  Weird....!  I have one student who has the name of a famous actor, one with the same name as a superhero, and one who's got the same unique name as a character on a reality show.  I might have to have some fun with this! 

I hope the kiddos are as prepared as I am!  We'll see Monday morning...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Goodwill Shopping Spree Take Two (I spent HOW much?!)

Last year my mom and sister and I started a Goodwill shopping tradition.  Before school starts, we make sure to find a day that works for all of us to go shopping at the Indy Goodwills.  The nearest Goodwill to my mom and sister is in Celina, OH and we don't care for the Muncie one too much, so this is a chance to get some good shopping done for SUPER CHEAP.  If you don't remember last year's excursion, check it out here.

Using last year's experience as a base, we made some changes to our shopping plan to ensure optimal efficiency.  Last year it took 10 hours to shop at 3 stores.  This year we decided to find a hotel in Carmel and shop over 2 days instead of 1, so my mom and sister booked one for us.  After seeing my shopping pile from the second day, I'm glad we did this!  My sister compiled a list of the Goodwills we wanted to go to in the order that we wanted to hit them and brought a map just in case we got out of order (we did).  She did a good thing this year and brought her GPS, too (she didn't last time and we couldn't find one of the Carmel Goodwills). 

I wanted to be sure to maximize our savings this year, and because I knew that the first Saturday of every month is 50% off storewide, I made sure that the first Saturday in August was one of the days we were down there.  I took out a Goodwill Rewards Card a few months ago when I happened to be shopping at the Muncie store in preparation for this spree.  The Rewards Program doesn't cost a cent and you save 10% off your purchase if you spend over $20 (plus you get "surprise" discounts at the register sometimes when you check out, as well as a birthday discount).  Since the card doesn't accumulate points or anything, I made sure to lend my extra cards to my mom and sister for the trip.  Added perk:  the 10% comes off IN ADDITION TO the 50% off storewide and any coupons you might have.  

Goodwill's Facebook page allows you to sign up for Friday coupons to be sent to you every week.  I happened upon these totally by accident, but found them early enough to sign up and received a 20% off purchase of $20 or more to be used on Friday (our first day).  I printed about 15 of these coupons, since you could use them one per customer per store.  Add that to the Rewards 10%, and we made a sweep on Friday, too!

So, here are some pictures that I took to "document" our experience:

It's like printing money!  I myself saved about $75 the first day just from the coupons alone!

Betsy carefully planning our strategy of attack.

Getting us there safely.

The list.
In case you're wondering about all the stores on the list, these are all the stores on the northeast side of Indy (and the address for the Anderson one in case we wanted to go on the way back).  We had the addresses to put into the GPS in case one of our first choices was a bust.  But no worries, none of them were!  In case you're wondering which ones we chose, here are the ones we found to a larger quantity of better-quality items (in the order we visited them):


Fishers Store
12727 Parkside Drive
(317) 842-1086

Noblesville Store
585 Noble Creek Drive
(317) 773-6945

Carey Road Store
17404 Carey Road
(317) 867-1516

Carmel Store
1122 Keystone Way
(317) 587-0281 


Westfield Store
1617 E. 151st St.
(317) 844-1021

Allisonville Store
7440 Fishers Station Dr.
Fishers, IN 46038
(317) 845-9264 

I spent over $20 at each store, but my absolute favorite store this trip was the Westfield one.  We spoke to several other shoppers who were there that morning and they all agreed that for the area, the Westfield store is considered the best one to shop at.  I spent $80 there!  Since it was Saturday, my original bill was $180, reduced to $90 with the half-off, and then reduced again to about $80 with my 10% off!  I got tons of housewares there and lots of jeans and teaching pants...several still had original store tags or were never taken out of the box!  I even got a Vera Bradley purse (you know I love them!) that had the original tags on it!  I also usually have really good luck at the Noblesville store, but this time I didn't spend as much.  The last 3-4 times I've been there, though, I've always found exactly what I'm looking for.  It didn't disappoint! 

Some pictures of our hotel stay:

The remainder of my sister's food baby after we ate dinner at Fazoli's.
How precious.
All said and done, it was a very fun trip!  The best part though is what I brought home!  Here's my haul (I took a few close-ups of my favorite things):

First table full of items!  Got the majority of this stuff at Westfield...lots of things to decorate upstairs!

My mom and sister kept asking about whether I was sure I wanted the they could steal it!  I'm really liking these blue, green, and red colors together for our upstairs remodel.

You can't tell too much but the clock has a blue-ish center to match some of the other things I got!  Original sticker on the front!

I scored a ton of VHS movies on Saturday.  I found the My Little Pony and CareBears movies I watched when my sister and I were little!  I haven't seen the My Little Pony movies around since I was about four, so I snatched this up for old times' sake for about 50 cents.

Second table full of stuff :)

Ties for Kyle.

I thought this alarm clock was kinda neat!  And since it was only $2, I figured I could find SOMETHING to do with it.

Lampshades!  You can't tell, but the green has a neat texture to it that I loved.  Not sure about keeping the white just like that, but I'm sure Pinterest could help me come up with something neat to do with it.  Only about $1.50 per shade.

I'm in dire need of more Fourth of July decorations, so I bought these cuties in Carmel.

Don't mind if I do!

The movies Mom and Dad would never buy for me when I was a kid.  Ha!

New clothes!  My favorites were my teaching pants (about 7 new pairs) and jeans (about 5 new pairs).  I also scored 5 cute new skirts!  Since washing these, I had to go through my closet AGAIN.  Thank goodness Kyle doesn't mind my wardrobe updates as long as I get rid of some old stuff while I'm at it.
I love these little containers!  They're beverage containers for outdoor parties (or at least that's what the Target tags say!), but I might find something else to do with them.  I wish I'd been a little bit quicker...there were four but I only managed to get my hands on two to put in the cart and when I turned back for the other two, they were gone :(  You gotta be quick like that on the half-off Saturdays!

My favorite slippers of all time!  I've worn these beauties to bed twice since I've brought them home!  They're so comfy and warm and were BRAND NEW.  Scored a new pair of flats and a pair of high heels that were barely worn.

 And of course, the cats had to get in on the action and help me out with my stuff:

Max nibbling on my new candle-holder to see what it is.

Keebler liked to play with the empty bags and hide in them  At this point I was shooing him away so I could find all the receipts.
Speaking of receipts....

All my receipts from the trip.
Most savings in one store!

Once I sat down with my receipts and calculated my savings, I was very pleased.  Overall, I spent $245.  I saved $205 between the 50% off sale, my rewards card, and coupon-clipping.  I can't even IMAGINE how much all of this stuff would have cost regular-price outside of Goodwill...I think my five new pairs of jeans alone would have cost $150 new...and my Vera Bradley bag with tags is going for $47.95 right now on eBay...

...I seriously can't wait until next year.  If you've not considered a Goodwill shopping trip, you should.  You really, really, REALLY should!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Making Our Own Bread

My mom gave me her bread machine that she bought a couple of years back.  She didn't use it very much, but I really wanted to try to start making some bread on my own.

If you've never used a bread machine before, it's super easy:  all you have to do is have the right amount of ingredients, pour them into the machine pan in order that the recipe list calls for them, and press a button to indicate what type of bread you're making (therefore enabling a bread-making process specific to whole wheat, French, etc.).  I've tried a couple of different loaves so far but hope to do a few more so I can figure out which one we like best.  Whole wheat was extremely heavy, so I'm not sure that I'll do that one in the machine again.  White was good, but still (in my opinion), pretty heavy.  

I think next time I'll try French and we'll see how it turns out.  In an ideal situation, we would find the bread we like the best and I'd make a loaf or so every week to use for sandwiches.  Bread is just getting too expensive at the store and we just don't make it down to the outlet shop very often.  Plus, this is still healthier than eating the bread with all the preservatives.  We don't eat a lot of sandwiches or toast anyway, so I'm thinking this might work out okay.  If we can find something we like.

I have a few friends who use bread machines/make bread for their families' sandwich needs.  Which type do you think is best?  How much do you make a week?  

Someone that I know (who makes bread the old-fashioned way in the oven) told me that at first making your own bread instead of buying it at the store can be sort of a burden.  She decided to make two loaves for herself every Saturday night and that's all she needed for the week.  After about a month of doing it weekly, it just becomes habit.  She's been doing it for years and doesn't mind anymore.  


Oh...and as an added bonus, you can see what everyone else in my house did while I made bread both times:

Good thing they're all so stinkin' cute.