Smoked Salmon and Egg Salad Tartines

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This one is lookin’ mighty good for an Easter brunch. We’ve actually never had one, since we’re always at a long church service that morning… but if we did, this would be on the menu! Mm-mm. This is GOOD STUFF.

My husband is a lover of all things salmon, and all things egg, so this is right up his alley. He also loves appetizers, so it pretty much makes his day when this is served up! The egg salad is just perfect– slightly creamy, with a hit of mustard and dill, which complements the smoked salmon so nicely. Whether you’re having a brunch or a bridal shower (smoked salmon won’t do for pregnant mommas at a baby shower though), this is a beautiful, perfect little finger food to serve up! Continue reading

How to Gain Two More Weeks of School (Without Working a Single Extra Day!)

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I got to teach two extra weeks’ worth of material to my students without working a single extra day. Here’s my secret!

One morning I walked out to bring my students into the classroom. They were chatting away in line as usual, some with their backs to me, others clumped in groups. Most standing placidly, not thinking about anything in particular. On a whim, I suddenly called out in a commanding voice, “Soldierrrrr straight!” while slapping my arms against my sides, standing tall and proud. I said it with the sing song call and response tone that made everyone impulsively repeat it in the same manner, copying my words and my actions. Suddenly, I had 29 still, silent, serious, and focused students.

I looked at the students, pleasantly surprised, and they stifled smiles, trying to look serious as they stood erect and at attention.

I sly smile crept across my face and I ducked my head down as if to tell a secret and whispered loudly, “AWEEESOMMMEEE. NOW LET’S SEE IF WE CAN GO IN THE CLASSROOM LIKE WE’RE SOLDIERS– QUIETLY AND IN FORMATION!” Continue reading

The Best Pizza. Ever.

IMG_6383This is not a recipe. This is a technique. One you should skim, try, and then thank me for later. Trust me, there’s no turning back once you’ve tried it! It makes even the least exciting slice of pizza better, and elevates good pizza to a whole new level. It makes freshly delivered pizza even more mouthwatering and transforms leftover pizza into better-than-fresh-from-the-pizza-oven. Seriously!

I’m all about the crispy crust and hot, gooey cheese and toppings. Give me a limp crust and I give you a sad face. When I was a kid, I microwaved my pizza leftovers, resulting in melted cheese with a crust that was too hard and chewy at the edges, and too limp and soggy toward the middle. No good. When I was older, I reheated it in the toaster oven. The top would have nice, bubbly cheese, but the crust was still inevitably soggy… especially with thin crust pizzas.

Now that I am all grown up, I only reheat on the pan, with a simple piece of foil on top: Continue reading

Keep ‘Em on Their Toes

Helping Kids Pay AttentionStudents learn best when they are paying attention. Imagine how much your students would learn if all of your students always paid attention to all of your lessons! Inattention is a pervasive problem in schools, so finding a way to reign that in is key to helping your students learn the most.

One key ingredient to getting students to pay attention is to teach well. Have amazing, well-planned, fascinating lessons for every single subject and every single lesson you have to teach. Boom. Done.

What? You already do that, and some kids still don’t seem to catch on? I hate it when that happens. I mean, I was always on my A-game and had multi-sensory, hands-on, multi-media, technology-involved, exciting and engaging lessons that connected with students’ interests and background… complete with realia and uh… unicorns. Yup. Every time. And yet… I still had kids who weren’t paying attention. Ridiculous, I tell you! Continue reading

Fried Smashed Potatoes Recipe

Mashed potatoes are delicious. Fried food is delicious.

Which explains why smashed, fried potatoes are AMAZING.

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Amazing.

If you share in my love for savory, crispy things, Continue reading

Let Them Struggle

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It was just another morning at Gymboree when my daughter got her chunky little leg caught between two dowels in the small wooden boat. No big deal. I stood off to the side and let her struggle to free her leg while offering encouraging comments, “Almost! Ooh good try. You’ve got it! Keep trying!”

She didn’t cry out or complain– she just tried to pull her leg out this way and that. I watched her reposition herself as she tried to maneuver her way out. She nearly had it a few times, and I had to resist the urge to nudge her foot juuuust a little to help her out.

She continued to quietly work away at it, focused and concentrated. I continued to stand off to the side and watch. A few moments later, the Gymboree teacher was passing by, saw her predicament, and immediately leaned down to scoop her up, “Oh, you got stuck! Let me help you out–”

“Oh, no!” I cut in, from my perch on the side, “It’s okay, please don’t help her out. I want her to keep trying on her own. Thanks!” Continue reading

3-Ingredient Banana Nutella Croissant Recipe

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I got on the Nutella bandwagon in high school, when my German teacher served it to us on slices of sourdough baguette. Is it just me, or does food taste about 100x better when your teacher hands it to you in class? Doesn’t matter if it’s goldfish in third grade or chocolate spread on bread in high school– it’s such a treat! As odd as the combination might have seemed in any other context, it was like magic that chilly morning in third period. Chocolate spread on bread?! That’s allowed?! I thought. That seriously might be the most lasting thing I took from that class (my teacher was great, but honestly, I’ve never used my German since).

Since then, loads of people have fallen in love with the stuff, and for good reason. Here is one of my favorite applications of Nutella: Banana Nutella Croissants. Guys, these are SO GOOD. I want them ALL THE TIME. Continue reading

Teaching Kids When to Tell on Someone (and When NOT to!)

When to tell on someoneIt all started with the new student– we’ll call him John. He was not only new to our school, but new to the country. He would sit each day in class, silent and expressionless until dismissal, then saunter off toward his uncle without even a good-bye or smile. The kids tried to be friendly at first, but when their attempts were met with a wall of silence and blank stares, they soon lost interest. The students were generally kind to him, but one quiet morning, I saw his look of annoyance as a messy classmate’s papers began to crowd over and onto his desk.

John wasn’t able to communicate his annoyance, and also chose not to push the papers back over. Instead, he simply shifted his seat over to work on a smaller section of his desk. He avoided the problem. That’s one way to deal with it, I thought. I observed as the classmate continued to take over John’s personal space, and before long, John sat, frustrated with just a tiny corner of his desk space left. Finally, he turned and glowered at “Luke,” the offending space invader, with a, “Get your stuff off my desk” look. Luke just looked at him challengingly, then said, “What?” and then continued working. Continue reading

Happy Birthday, Blog! :)

Congrats to the winners of the Cuppacocoa shirt giveaway:
Wendy H., Hazell P., Dakota N., Irma O., Michelle P., and Sydney A.!

I’m HONORED that you would wear my shirt. Even if it is to sleep. :D.

In other news, today, my blog turns ONE! =D Exactly one year ago, I hit the “publish” button on my first post, and a week later, I had a grand total of eight readers, including myself, four family members and three friends. That was cool.

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If you’re actually counting, one of my bff’s is also now a family member (SO COOL, RIGHT?! (She married my brother! (I set them up!))).

You can imagine how delighted I was when more people decided to join! Hooray! Welcome, and thank you for reading my stuff each week! I am honored that you’ve stayed on, and I will continue to try to publish more interesting and useful content!

more people decided to join!

For cuppacocoa’s first birthday, I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned from blogging this year. I’m no expert, and there are definitely millions of way more experienced bloggers… but it’s the start of a new year, so I figured it was a good time to reflect back and look forward! Continue reading

Cuppacocoa’s American Apparel T-Shirt Giveaway

This Saturday is Cuppacocoa’s ONE YEAR BLOGGY BIRTHDAY!!!! Wooooooo!!

Cuppacocoa's 1 Year Birthday!I wanted to do something cool to celebrate. My original thought was to revamp the look and feel of my blog– something lovely and white and clean. And maybe finally throw in a photo of myself somewhere. Well, 2/28 is fast approaching and I have made exactly zero progress on that front, so instead, I’ve decided to commemorate the occasion with a special Cuppacocoa t-shirt giveaway! I’ll be giving away 6 of these shirts:

American Apparel T-Shirt GiveawayAnd, friends, these aren’t just any old shirts–they are super comfy soft and shmumpfy Women’s American Apparel Poly-Cotton Scoop Neck T-shirts, valued at $34.95 each. Only the best for my readers! Seriously, even if you’re not into stick-figure fashion, this makes for an AMAZING lounging/pajama shirt! It is as soft and comfy as it looks. Continue reading