Easy Peasy Butternut Squash Soup!

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A few years ago, a friend hosted a soup swap, where a bunch of us met and swapped quarts of soup. It was an impressive affair, with soups ranging from oxtail soup to clam chowder to Tom Ka Gai.

I was relatively new to cooking and had never really made soup before, so it took me a while to figure out what I could manage. I decided to go with butternut squash soup. I actually thought I was going fancy, because for me, peeling and cutting up all that squash seemed so labor-intensive! I packaged my soup with some “homemade Acme baguette croutons” on the side, hoping that it would convince people to PICK MINE!! :)

The event was pretty fun, and I came home with a nice variety of soups to sample. I did, however, decide that butternut squash soup was too much work to make, so I didn’t really consider making it again… untilllll…

I DISCOVERED PRE-PEELED AND CUBED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AT COSTCO!
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The Apprenticeship Model of Learning

The Apprenticeship Model of Learning

I can’t wait to teach my children stuff. Anything. Even teaching my baby to stick out her tongue has been super exciting the last couple of weeks, so you can imagine how much more I look forward to teaching her about reading and writing and math and art and science and Jesus and music and sports and baking and being kind and EVERYTHING! I can’t wait!!!

I know I’m not the only one. Most of you are parents or teachers, and you know there’s nothing that satisfies like seeing a child learn something you taught. They may be proud of their new skill, but you are equally pleased that you were able to teach them effectively! Today, I want to share one of the most effective methods of teaching/learning I know: The Apprenticeship Model of Learning. I think the term hearkens back to the days when a blacksmith would take on an apprentice and train him up through a process of showing, guiding, and eventually working on his own.

There are a lot of ways to teach, and the method you employ at any given time depends both on who you’re teaching and what you’re teaching. Sometimes it is appropriate to let students fumble through something and learn on their own. Sometimes it’s better to let them observe their peers and gradually catch on. Other times, though, it’s best to teach with direct instruction, offering a straightforward and clear model of how it should be done, then coaching them to independence.

The five steps

I find that when I’m teaching a new skill or strategy, I often use the last approach. Continue reading

The Kouign Amann

The Kouign Amann

I feel it is my duty to introduce you to my latest pastry fav: The Kouign Amann (queen ah-MAHN “queen-yah-manh”). Imagine a croissant, but instead of thin sheets of dough layered with butter, it’s layered with butter and sugar. Together, they bake up into a delightful pastry with golden layers of caramelized goodness crisping and flaking in your mouth. MmmmmMmm!

My favorite is the chocolate kouign amann. Just imagine the one above with some chocolate in the middle. I have no good pictures because I keep polishing them off before remembering that I wanted to snap a picture for you. Oops =P.

I tried my first kouign amann two years ago after one of my BFFs (and fellow dessert-lover) emailed me: i want to take you to get a kouign amman (have you had one yet??)  from a neighborhood store!

Truth be told, I wasn’t all that excited about it. I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce the words in my head or out loud, which somehow made it less exciting to me. But do you see those two question marks? That was her subtle way of saying “Have you had one yet? Because if you haven’t YOU REALLY SHOULD! YOU WOULD LOVE IT!!!” I know this because we’ve been BFF-ing it for over 15 years. Yup.

And she was totally right. She took me to get one the next day, and I LOVED IT:

yummmmmmmmmmmm the toasted chocolate kouign amman was SO yummy! we toasted it and ben devoured almost the whole thing. he loves it. you’re right, it develops such a nice crunchy crust! i told him i’d ask you to bring one down with you next weekend… and he asked me to ask for two haha :). Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Best Ever Banana Bread

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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