5 Techy Things I Like

Me on the Internet

More ways to keep this up.

This one is simple: it’s Internet stuff I want to tell all my friends about.

There’s a lot of Internet stuff I like– Pinterest, Facebook, www.cuppacocoa.com, Amazon, Yelp, www.DavidLebovitz.com, Twitter, Wikipedia. If a friend had never heard of Pinterest, I’d be happy to give them the scoop on it. Same for my favorite blogs and stuff. I’m sure you’d do the same, right? (See what I did there? ;)).

Here are some lesser known techy things that I think you’ll like, too!

1. The Skimm: Two people who are passionate about the news read it and summarize it for me every weekday. I get the briefing every morning in my inbox. They break it down in an understandable and oftentimes humorous way. I have never been good at keeping up with recent/world events until now! Thanks for the tip, MerryRobin!

2. Camelcamelcamel.com: Enter in the URL of the amazon product you are considering buying, and get a chart showing the price history! Informs your decision, especially when you’re on the fence about buying now or later.


3. Bing.com: It’s like searching on www.google.com, except it’s Microsoft’s version, called www.bing.com. I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s worth a second mention. Why switch? Because you can do all the Internet searching you normally do, but get free gift cards from places like Amazon while you’re at it. Also, my mom showed me that you can just click on the pictures of suggested news items along the bottom of the www.bing.com homepage and get easy points that way. Plus, they have really gorgeous homepage images that inspire some serious wanderlust. I can almost hear the leaves rustling in the breeze…

4. Google shopping express: Same-day delivery from my favorite stores (Target, Costco, groceries)! I’m a fan! I’m past my trial period, but so far, they’re still delivering for free! This service is a godsend for new parents, especially when you need diapers the next day. Or rash-reducing Desitin. Or anything, because honestly, errands are already tedious, but they can be downright annoying when you have to truck your baby around. BTW, they now deliver fresh-baked Acme bread from Costco! (Sorry, this one only applies to certain metropolitan areas in CA and NY for now.)

5. Break the Ice QuestionsandBible Verse A DayThese are two free iPhone apps my good friend Lily (of High Five Panda LLC) created. The first is a handy app that generates icebreaker questions: What was a childhood nickname? Who is your best friend? These and other conversation-stimulating ideas at your fingertips! Handy for small group meetings or for the next time you’re stuck in a car with someone for a few hours. The second app sends you Bible verses every day; get your mornings started right, with peaceful pictures to boot! They’re both free from the Apple store.

So now it’s your turn to tell me: Were any of these new to you? Do any of them look interesting? What lesser-known tech things would you recommend? Please share in the comments below!

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Best Ever Banana Bread


I love the way the whole house feels when I make this banana bread loaf cake. Every room is infused with this amazingly warm, spicy aroma that makes you feel all cozy and homey and delicious and wonderful when this is in the oven. Sometimes I make it a point to bake it before Ben gets home from work so that I can look forward to him walking into the house, inhaling deeply, and saying, “Mmmm smells gooood in here! …Banana bread?!?!”

Smells good in here! Best Ever Banana Bread Recipe

If that’s not the very picture of domestic bliss, I don’t know what is. Continue reading

Think Out Loud!

Teach by Thinking Out Loud! Simple but effective.

One of the best ways to learn from someone else is to get inside their head. One of my favorite blogs is www.younghouselove.com, a blog by a couple that does a lot of DIY with their house and shares about their lives while they’re at it.

There are many reasons I like the blog, but a big one is that I actually learn stuff and gain confidence from them. For example, there was this one post where they shared the new gallery wall above their master bed. First of all, I could never do that, because we live in the land of earthquakes and that’s just asking for trouble. But I read it anyway, because I wanted to learn something from them.

Now, home stuff and DIY and artsy craftsy is not my forte… but that’s why I like this blog. Since I don’t know much about it, and I don’t know what factors to consider when I’m looking at our house, I love getting in their head and seeing what they thought of when they worked on theirs. Continue reading

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

Chia Seed Pudding Recipe
I’ve been eating this for breakfast for the last couple of weeks. Getting my probiotics in… some fruit, some protein, chia seeds… good stuff! I guess “pudding” makes it sound more like a dessert, but I definitely think of it as a yogurt. It’s made with healthful ingredients: almond milk, yogurt, and chia seeds!

I like the texture of the chia seeds once they’ve absorbed some of the liquid. It reminds me of small tapioca pearls I enjoy in desserts. The hint of maple syrup is just right, and this is a nice alternative if you’re trying to avoid refined sugars. The original recipe calls for Greek yogurt, so I’m sure that works well, but I’ve been using plain whole milk yogurt. It’s a bit runny when I first stir everything up, but thickens up nicely by the morning. Continue reading

Hong Kong Milk Tea Recipe

Yummy HK Style Milk TeaI LOVE MILK TEA! :)

I love cold Taiwan style milk tea AND hot Hong Kong style milk tea. As long as there is a strong tea flavor and it’s not too sweet, I love it. A few months ago, I found a Taiwan style milk tea recipe I love, but had yet to nail the HK-style one.

It’s not for lack of trying. I have tried a number of “silk-stocking” milk teas using condensed milk, evaporated milk, Lipton tea, Ceylon teas, and other blends of teas, based on various recipes I found online. None were to my satisfaction. My biggest problem was that I couldn’t hit the right tea flavor, so I gave up. Various people had told me the secret was to use Lipton tea, but um… there are several varieties of Lipton tea, so without a specific TYPE of tea, I was still pretty lost. Continue reading

Rewards in a Classroom

Three Ways to Use Rewards in a Classroom

This one is for you teachers. Someone asked me to share more about how I used class points in my classroom, so here’s a post covering all the details on the various rewards systems I had going on in my class! It’s going to sound a little complicated, but I actually had three different reward systems in place to shape student behavior: raffle tickets, team points, and class points. They each served different functions and helped keep me (and the kids) happy. They also added an element of excitement and fun to our daily life!

One important thing is that I found ways to minimize the effort and cost for me while maximizing behavioral outcomes for my students. If rewarding my students became expensive and/or troublesome, it would not be sustainable. So even if you already have systems in place, hopefully this gives you some ideas on how to make it easier for yourself throughout the year! Continue reading

Creamy Zucchini and Garlic Soup Recipe (contains no cream!)

First of all, thank you for your responses in my last post. I felt like I just made a bunch of new friends, and now I want to visit y’all in Australia and the UK and throughout the U.S.! I really do appreciate that you’ve joined me here on this blog and I hope you continue to benefit from what I share here. :D – JoEllenZucchini garlic soupThis recipe is DELISH and I had to share it with ya while the zucchinis are still big and ripe and ready to go this season! I made it this week and brought some to our friends who just had their second child (NEWBORNS ARE SO FRESH AND SWEET AND CUTE TO HOLD!) and received this adorable feedback from their two year old son:

We thoroughly enjoyed your meal!  Isaac kept saying “Joellen did not cook the soup.  No no the chef cooked it.”  I kept telling him auntie Jo cooked it but he kept insisting it was a chef.  lol.  he really loved it.

See? Kid-approved. And simple to make. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Maybe it’s just me, but zucchini in soup form tastes nothing like sauteed zucchini. I like it both ways, but I would have never guessed that the soup version would taste the way it does! It’s bright and creamy and smooth and even a little sweet. Continue reading

Hi Readers! I Have Questions.

Hello Dear Readers!

Three things!

1) Ack! I spent a long time working on my latest post about reading, scheduled it to post, and then… my website went down for several hours. :(. Just wanted to let you know that it’s back up, and the post is ready for you!!

2) You can now follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest!

3) And while we’re at it… I don’t know if this is allowed in blogger world, but I have burning questions for you!!! The main one is this: WHO ARE YOU? I’d LOVE it if you could take a moment to leave a comment and tell me something–ANYTHING– about yourself! Which country and/or state do you live in? What’s your blog/website URL? What do you do? Why do you read my blog (food? teacher? parent? you’re my friend?)?


Why Your Child Hates Reading (and How to Change That)

Why Your Child Hates Reading (and How to Change That)Reading is always a hot topic during parent-teacher conferences, and for good reason. In elementary school, students learn to read, so that for the rest of their lives, they can read to learn. If a student falls back here, almost every other subject will lag behind as they approach the upper grades. They will struggle with writing, labor over word problems in math, loathe their Science and Social Studies textbooks, and likely experience lower academic self-confidence.

One of my goals as a teacher is to help kids fall in love with reading… or at least not hate it. Every year, I have a couple of parents who insist that their child hates reading. I can see the defeat in their eyes, even as the school year is just beginning. It doesn’t have to be that way! I will share some basic beliefs I have about teaching reading as well as ways to help make reading time more enjoyable and productive time for your child. Continue reading