The Best Lemon Bars Ever: Secret Ingredient!


These lemon bars are by far the most requested item I make. My friends love the buttery-tart combination and recently, I was asked to make a whole bunch of them for a wedding! Since I had to mass-produce these guys, I decided to go with… bottled lemon juice, something I hadn’t done for nearly a decade. However, in so doing, I discovered that bottled lemon juice is the key to making these lemon bars consistently tart and perfect in consistency! Continue reading

Be Less to Be More

Be less to be more

Do your best.

It was a mantra repeated to me again and again throughout my upbringing. Before piano recitals and exams (and I had many), my mom would smile encouragingly and say, “Just do your best!”

I remember asking my mom one time, “What would happen if I got a B on my report card?” I peered over at her with wide eyes, trying to gauge her reaction.

“As long as you did your best, that’s fine,” she said matter of factly.

“Really?! What if I got… a C?!”

“As long as you did your best, that’s fine.”

“So, if I came home with a D, you wouldn’t be mad?” I pushed.

“If you really did your best, then no. But I also know what you’re capable of and it’s usually better than a D, so if that happened then maybe you didn’t do your best.”

I sat, pondering this silently.

I can’t say I’ve always lived it out. By high school, I was the do-what-you-need-to-get-the-A student, and that oftentimes took a lot less than my best. When it came to things I really cared about, though–a basketball game, preparing a presentation in front of peers, leading a club–I gave it my all, my 100%. It was like I didn’t know how to slack off or tone it down when it came to these things, and I often pushed myself long and hard into the night to make sure everything was done in excellence. Continue reading

Bonjour de Paris!

Thanks for letting me go on vacation for a week :). (And thanks for not unsubscribing! :D) Here’s one more photo of what I’m enjoying today here in Paris!

imageG. Detou, a foodie’s dream shop full of nuts, honey, jam, mustards, baking chips, and a lot of other things I couldn’t read in French. So fun!  Continue reading

On Vacayyyyyy!

‘ello mate! Cheers from the UK! This week I’ll be taking a break from the usual posts so I can more fully enjoy my time abroad :]. We’ll be back to our regular topics next week!

Here’s a peek at what I was up to today, at the lovely Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason!


So delicious! Continue reading

Let Them Play

Let them Play

This is a simple and useful tip I picked up from my mentor teacher while I was student teaching.

She was starting them on a new math unit that required the use of math manipulatives. Noisy stuff. Each student was given a pile of shapes– green triangles, orange square, red trapezoids, blue rhombuses– you know the type. And then she said, “Go ahead and play with them for a few minutes, and then we’ll get started.”

She came back to where I saw on the back table and said, “Whenever you give them manipulatives or anything they can touch and feel, give them a few minutes to play and explore with it. It’ll get it out of their system so when you actually start your lesson, they’re more ready to focus on what you’re teaching rather than to just keep trying to play with them!” We sat back there and watched them have at it. Continue reading

Ocean Themed Baby Shower!

late night diapers2

Last weekend, my friends and I threw a super fun ocean themed baby shower for my friend Kim (and Dan)! Even though I helped to coordinate the event, I actually had to miss it because I came down with the flu  :*(. SO SAD. But I am still so proud of how things turned out, and wanted to share some of my favorite ideas from the party! Continue reading

ABC Book Template for Baby Shower

Baby ABC Book Template (1)

We threw a fantastic ocean-themed baby shower for my friend Kim recently– here’s a sneak peek!

Ocean themed shower sneak peek

I actually had to miss the party since I caught the flu, but I am pleased with how everything turned out, and most of all with how happy it made Kim! I’ll share more details on the shower soon, but I wanted to share a fun and flexible baby shower activity idea with you: Baby’s First Alphabet Book!

Baby ABC Book Template (5)

I first saw this at my friend Wendy’s baby shower, and quickly made a template to use for another shower I hosted. Isn’t it cute? I like this idea because you can easily adapt it to any shower theme. Continue reading

Effective Attention Getting Signals

Attention Getters

The whole class is chatting or busy in activity, but you need your quickly grab your students’ attention. What do you do? Every teacher has got some sort of attention getting signal up their sleeve. I remember one of my teachers had a wooden frog that croaked when she stroked a dowel across it’s bumpy back. Another used xylophones. Another would hit a gong, and we’d sit there and quiet down as the vibrations faded away. The sounds certainly caught my attention, but I’ve never quite taken to these quieting tools, probably because I am a very efficient person. Are you going to lug the frog with you on a field trip? Can you take the gong with you outside? Do you really want to wait 18 seconds to get your class quiet every time you need to say something? For me, the answer is no.

Here are the three attention-getting signals I used the most, and I’ll explain why I found them to work best for me. Continue reading

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup

Roasted Cauliflower and Aged White Cheddar Soup

I’ve made this soup twice in the last couple weeks since I came across it, and I can’t wait to make it again! Alton Brown tell me cauliflower is quite healthy for you, so even though I enjoy it roasted, it’s exciting to find a new way to savor it. The flavors in this soup are AMAZING: complex, a little smokey, unexpected and so delicious. Perfect for a cool day like we’re experiencing today! Husband loves it. Toddler loves it. Friends love it. It’s simple and heart warmingly delicious! Try it out!

Saute Onions Continue reading

Dakota Midnyght Art Giveaway!

4/24/15 Update: Congrats to Dawn W. and Leila C., the two winners of the Dakota Midnyght Art Giveaway!
Thank you all for participating, and I hope you enjoy the 20% off code CuppaCocoa2015, valid until 5/1/15, at her store here on Etsy!
Robot with Heart Balloon

May is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to celebrate two people who are very near and dear to our children: mothers and teachers! Mother’s Day is on May 10th, and Teacher Appreciation Week is May 4-8 this year. I shared some ideas last year on gifts that teachers would appreciate. This year, I’m topping that off with a giveaway!

I am thrilled to introduce to you one of my favorite artists in the world: Dakota Midnyght! Continue reading