Thursday, December 5, 2013

Spreading Christmas Cheer with Kindness

I've written before about 1,000 gifts and learning to be thankful for the little things. I truly believe that little things become the big things over time. If you work in any sort of business capacity, you should read The Little Big Things.  Practice them, and I promise your employees will be happier and more dedicated to their work. I tried it with my counselors this summer, and our camp was a much happier place. 

Anyway... I want to tell y'all about one of the little things from today.... In the passing of my boss and mentor this fall, there was one science class left without a teacher.  Our principal has been unable to fill the postion, and one of our assistant coaches has stepped in to teach that class. I didn't realize it, but this man has been really struggling to find ways to teach the kids, and to figure out what they most need to learn. We talked about some things earlier this week, and yesterday, he came and observed my class for a period to see what I was doing and if he could duplicate it.  

I did something really simple after school- I went through my extra copies of labs, student notes, and other assorted science things we have covered in my class recently. I found some appropriate leveled activities that are high interest and made sure he had copies for the number of students, left instructions, and put them on his desk after school. It really only took me about 15 minutes. 

This morning, the coach stopped me in the hallway and thanked me in front of my kiddos, then told me he owed me a favor. Of course, the copy machine ran all of my copies for today as blanks.... So I immediately cashed in the favor and asked him to run a new set on the other copier becuase I needed to take my students to class. The copies came back with a cold diet coke (my favorite!) and some pepper mints.  100% worth it. 

What are you doing to help out others this season?  Feel free to link up your "little big things."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Productive Classroom Dialogue- Bounce Cards


I have a noisy classroom.  We often do group work, we discuss all the time, we do demonstrations that get the kids excited and talking, we play review games, have competitions, etc. 

We learn new strategies every month or so, implement them in our classrooms, and subsequently gather data. Our most recent strategy has been bounce cards. They are designed to facilitate the growth and development of productive dialogue in our classrooms. In other words, we know that kids are often talking about the topic, but we want to help their conversations be more than just "ooh- that's really cool." We want them to learn and question from their peers (and from us)!

This is what they look like.  They're from a book titled Total Participation Techniques: Making Every student an active learner.   

They are so cool. The first time I modeled and introduced the topic, we only used the "bounce" portion of the card. This allowed us to focus on staying on topic. We practiced it that way for a week, then introduced the "sum it up" portion. Finally, we have moved into the "inquire" segment. We have categorized our data into types of responses (from both whole group wand small group conversations).

It's really easy to work this strategy into review time, and great for opinions and justifying them with textual evidence. I can use it whole class or in small groups, though you're more aware of their gains when you know that they're all hearing the same conversation. On the flip side, they get a more  individualized and personal interest when they are in small groups and have more control over the path the conversation will take. 

Has anybody used these or other similar strategies? How do you use them? Whar kind of results do you typically get?

Give Thanks!

I have lots to give thanks for this year, as do many of my coworkers and students. 

I've been saving my thanks for one big reminder of all the reasons I have to give thanks and praise on a day that I needed it-- that day is today. 

1. Halloween with these sweet kiddos
 

2. The opportunity to be a science Olympiad coach and learn new material as well as learn from my team. 

3. An extra hour of sleep. 

4. Guest speakers who share their expertise in my classes and make it fun!

5. Coworkers who calm me when I am frenzied planning for multiple days of substitutes

6. The opportunity to travel to a national conference and learn how to be better at my job

7. Learning new things in my curriculum



8. Beautiful skylines


9. Early birthday celebrations with my love (and country music concerts)



10. A sweet small group at church

11. The ability to take a sick day when I really, really need it. 

12. Getting to teach pull-out classes of gifted and talented kids


13. Our academic team that I am lucky enough to help coach and take to competitions (photo at Oglethorpe)

14. Cluster meetings to teach me new strategies- like bounce cards- to facilitate productive dialogue in my classroom

15. My first rodeo


16. Birthday parties for friends

17. Coming from a musical background and having the chance to watch friends and family perform their theses

18. Strong female friends

19. This guy's birthday week

20. Supportive parents that come to conferences when needed

21. Diet coke and peanut butter m&ms

22. Birthday celebrations with my boyfriend

23. Celebrating my best Friend's engagement to her perfect guy


24. My boyfriend loving science and coming with me to experience new things- like the world's biggest aquarium and an exhibit about the human body. 

25. Short weeks at school

26. Loving all of my students and having a chance to let them know in individual notes why I am thankful for each of them before Thanksgiving break. 

27. Diary of a Quilter's blog- she is a lifesaver with her tutorials 

28. Thanksgiving and extended family

29. Fun times with my parents

30. Rivalry football and a romantic boyfriend who makes date nights memorable















Friday, November 15, 2013

Pirates of the Carribean

Ms. Green, If I am downloading music illegally in Jamaica, does that make me a pirate of the Carribean?

Hah! I've got the next Johnny Depp in my class. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Deer hunting

You know you teach in a rural area when..... Okay, too many indicators! Here's today's: 

12 year old Boy: Ms. G, would you say you're a good deer hunter?

Me: I wouldn't exactly say that. I've never been. 

Boy: so you've never shot a deer?

Me: nope.

Boy: *deflated* oh. 

Me: are you a good hunter?

Boy: yes ma'am. I went out by myself yesterday and got an 8 point. 

My students are awesome!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Next Steps

Disclaimer: This post is largely for my own accountability. If you aren't interested, stop reading now. 

At our small group last week, we were discussing  our "next steps"- namely, what we need to do next to share God's love and strive to make ourselves beacons of his grace and love to the world around us. What is the next step in our walk with Him?

 I shared that I am struggling with the 7 year old, who has so much anger at the world around him and who's father is not prioritizing him and is trying to turn him against his mother. I am often frustrated with his behavior and cries for attention and struggle to spend time with him in a positive fashion. My next step is to reach out to him more and to spend more time, and tie of quality, with him, talking with him, and asking and answering questions. 

The next night, I was keeping him and we needed to do his nightly reading. We grabbed a book off his bookshelf- it just so happened that it was a devotional book for kids. We opened to the beginning, but decided to find the page for that day. God was speaking to me with exactly what I needed and affirming my next steps- through the voice of a child's devotional book. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lizard Twerking

Ms. G, Ms. G, The bearded dragon is Twerking!!!!!

Yeah, look!



Oh.... It's not Twerking......it's pooping!

Class: ewww


Monday, October 7, 2013

Connecting With Hard-to-reach Students

I'm pretty sure every teacher has a kid now and then that they just really struggle to connect with. Mine this year is a boy whose mama is buried in his front yard, and whose daddy is in jail. This boy would do just about anything for attention and I would praise him for everything I could think of to get him some positive attention. I had him be my special helper, called on him extra, did interest inventories, incorporated student interests into my lessons, etc but I could not get him on my page. One day, after interrupting me while I modeled our assignment 4 times, I had him step into the hallway to talk. He told me he felt like I didn't care. It didn't matter that I had been telling him for weeks that I'd love I hear his stories, just not in the middle of me explaining something or out loud in front of the whole class during a test. It didn't matter that I offered to listen to his stories during class change or at lunch, or on the way to the school bus in the afternoon. This boy didn't feel that he mattered to me. I didn't know what else to do, so I called home. 

Meanwhile, my fabulous boyfriend had gifted me an orchid in my favorite color. I chose to bring it to school and display it there. That day, this boy walked into my room and straight to the orchid. He didn't speak to anyone or even put his book bag down. He was mesmerized. He stared and stared, and turned it so he could see at all angles. When someone attempted to start a conversation, he replied "shhh. I'm looking at this plant. It's the most beautiful flower in all the world. I can't remember what it's called but it start with an O."



We used the beginning of class to talk about orchids and I asked this boy if he could be in charge of reminding me to water it. He replied with a "Yes, ma'am, and I could even water it for you if that would help." I was shocked! This boy loves my orchid. Since then, he has been my student of the week, passed a quiz and a test, and hasn't been in major trouble in my room. (He also is solely responsible for the care of the orchid, and it is doing quite well.)

What I want I know is how you reach those difficult to reach kids in your classroom. How do y'all do it??


Thursday, October 3, 2013

You might be a blonde if....

Your boyfriend has to send you instructions for opening the Tupperware he packed your lunch in. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Middle School "Allergies"



Middle schoolers are infamously known for their "allergies."  I hear excuses couched as allergies all the time. Most recently, "I'm allergic to the front of the room." 

On Friday, a student who has previously borrowed pencils and paper from me on a routine basis asked to borrow a pencil. I responded with my usual, "Sure. What will you trade me?" He insisted that he wouldn't trade me anything. In our classroom, students trade me a belonging for a pencil. When I get my pencil back, the students receive their notebook, textbook, etc. I don't argue with them, but if they don't trade, they have to find their own pencil. 

He came back a short while later and was willing to trade. I handed him a pencil (good old number two variety) and he said he couldn't use it. I'm used to this, as many of my kiddos want mechanical pencils. I asked why, and he told me that he is now allergic to wood. Mind you, the rest of the class is testing and can hear every word this child is saying to me. I asked if he was really allergic and why he didn't mention it previously when he's borrowed pencils from me.

Best allergy excuse ever. Oh, and I did check with the nurse- he's not allergic to wood. Busted. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On skinny jeans

Breakfast conversation in my classroom:

Boy to girl in skinny jeans: Those pants look really tight. What would you do if you broke your ankle? 

Girl: You can pull them up. See? (Demonstrates and the jeans only pull up to the top of her ankle bone)

Boy: I don't think that would work. You'd have to wear them jeans for like 6 weeks!

Girl: oh my gawww!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teacher Gifts

Y'all, teacher gifts are one of those things that most of my teacher friends and I both love and dread.

Dread:  For instance, the Zynga games giftcard so that I could play Farmville on Facebook last year..... not something I wanted, needed, or could find anything worthwhile to do with in my classroom.  The monogrammed napkins with the phrase "World's best teacher"?  At least those can be used at lunchtime and for cleaning up classroom spills.

Really, who needs another 10 things of scented hand lotions and antibacterial hand sanitizer from Bath and Body works?

This year, I have some absolutely precious students.  Many of them really enjoy learning, and are picking up on some of my favorite things already.  I've had kids bring in a variety of bugs to 'show and tell' and study.  I've had kids bring in full fossil displays- dated in geologic time periods!  I've gotten full turtle shells with backbones, sea shells, etc.  They are gifts not necessarily for me, but for my classroom, and they're beautiful and useful and COOL!

bigger than my hand

 



 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Making the Most


I think my personal motto this school year is going to be "making the most of it." Don't get me wrong- I love my school and my kiddos! 

I'm finding myself making the most of every. Single. Minute. Of all my days. Good ole common core has arrived in our school, and I am spending tons of time working, even more than usual at the beginning of a school year. 

I'm making the most of this "get to know you" time with my students- trying to establish a sense of rapport with them. Im especially focused on the ones that I know were in trouble the most last year, because I want to prevent rather than react. 

There is tons of white cinderblock just waiting to be filled. I'm making the most of it. We don't have bulletin boards in my wing, so I made my own. 

Common core standards that relate to science. 

My partner teacher retired, and is just here substituting until her replacement is available to start teaching. I'm making the most of my last days with such a wonderful colleague and mentor. 

My plan is to make the most of this school year in every aspect, both personally and professionally. I'm definitely making the most of opportunities and exposing my students to as much of the outside world as I can.   What are y'all making the most of?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Patience is a Virtue

The saying "patience is a virtue" is something I've heard all my life because, well, I'm not the most patient person around. I typically respond with something along the lines of "yes, it is. Unfortunately, it's not one of my God given gifts."  

Patience is something that I have to practice and pray for every. Single. Day. 

We have completed our first week of the new school year and I have been constantly forced to remind myself to be patient, not to snap or yell, and to take deep breaths. My kids this year aren't annoying or rude or anything else that would generally try my nerves. In fact, they're sweet, mature for their age, respectful of me, and generally great kids in classes that are generally great classes. Why then, do I need patience?

I almost exclusively teach kids at both ends of the ability spectrum and in my district, they are grouped by performance level. My hard working kiddos who struggle more with school test my patience in the need for things to move slowly, to be broken down into smaller chunks than I ever have before, and for me to absolutely never yell or lose my patience because that causes immediate shut down for them. I don't want to ruin their academic goals because I get frustrated one day and the result is that some of those kids may not think they're capable. I believe that every single one of them is capable of graduating from high school-- and I've told them this. I can't afford to lose my patience with them. It wouldn't be fair. 

My kiddos on the other end of the spectrum are trying my patience in other ways. I know lots of highly intelligent people who struggle with common sense tasks (like my Dad). A handful of these students make Sheldon Cooper look like he has all the common sense in the world. 

As usual, my students are teaching me at least as much as I believe I'm teaching them. I love it. One week down, year 4! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Testing boys

Some of the students I form the closest bonds with are boys. I love all my "children" but I have a soft spot in my heart for those boys that are "wild" or rambunctious or just try people's nerves.

As we've been taking standardized tests for the bulk of each day this week, I've had ample time to observe and reflect on "my" boys. The class for which I administer tests has 18 boys in it....and 6 girls.

Every last boy in the class has a phenomenal sense of humor. They're so stinkin' funny, AND they understand my sarcasm. :)

However, they're boys. I have more than a few diagnosed ADD or ADHD and they love to play. We play games all the time, throw balls to answer questions, move around, stand at our seats, and use stress balls to keep us quiet and focused during direct instruction.

Know how many of those things are permissible during standardized testing? None. Nada. Zilch. The vast majority of my boys have worked their tails off this week to do their absolute best on these tests and make their teachers proud. The problem is that, as wonderful as their behavior is while they're testing, most of my boys have had to continue to sit silently in their seats for two hours or more each day after they've finished testing- often while our entire room is done but we're waiting for students in other wings of the school to finish testing. This is when they get into trouble- after they've worked so hard. I'm worried that we penalize them just for being boys ad for not being girls. Their attention spans are shorter than those of some of the girls in my class, who can read for hours without so much as shifting positions. They're not disrespectful. They're not violent. They're not in any way being "bad". They're just boys. And it is like. Pulling. Teeth. To get them to do what the powers that create standardized tests expect of them.

As if God knew exactly what I needed, a friend shared today that she's reading a new book titled "Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys." I downloaded it and have read the introduction. I can already tell I'm going to enjoy reading and annotating this book. And perhaps, it will serve as a guide for me to use in my classrooms, whether they have four walls or are bound only by the ocean and the sky.

Anybody else experience this when testing boys? (Or being tested by boys)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Heartwarming

Y'all, sometimes my kids make my heart want to burst with pride and happiness. I received a picture as a gift from one of our Sped students. It's sweet- a rainbow that reads "to my Ms." I hung it on the board and its received a lot of attention.

Then, during my science Olympiad practice, we were discussing competition etiquette and the importance of being polite not just in the event rooms, but in the hallways, bathrooms, and all areas of the competition. I let my "veteran" 8th graders talk to my 6 and 7 graders about what a competition with people from all 50 states looks like, the cultural and social differences (not to mention that their southern accents will most certainly draw attention), sportsmanship, and other things. I have rarely been so proud. They discussed how to properly greet a judge, reviewed handshakes, eye contact, you name it.

For some of these kids, a trip to the northern US is a first. For some of them, even traveling more than 60 mile from home is a first. We live in an ocean-front state and many of my kids have never been to the beach. So this is a really, really big deal. It's exciting and terrifying.

Most special to me of all though were the lessons on how to treat people with compassion. Mental and physical disabilities and deformities were discussed with a sensitivity I couldn't have expected. After a long day, this heartwarming practice and sunshiny picture were just what a teacher needs.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Happy, Healthy, Safe

Very nearly a year ago, I was discovering that my childhood prayer ending wasn't working out so well for me.  My brothers and I had always added this tidbit to the end of our prayers,

"And God bless (insert names), our family names, and keep us happy, healthy, and safe. Amen."

I was safe, sure.  I was supported by some extremely wonderful friends.  I still don't know how my karma allowed me to have multiple people in my life that are there every. single. time. I was loved and encouraged by my family.  I still didn't have a church home.  I was definitely not happy.  And I'd gained something like 65 pounds in nearly two miserable years of teaching and eating my feelings.  So, er, not particularly healthy, though I did exercise regularly.

I felt like dirt, y'all.  I felt like dirt every single day, and my doctors had told me that I could expect to feel like dirt every single day for the rest of my life.  I'd come to accept it- that I'd be taking hardcore acid reflux medications 3x a day for eternity, that I'd have persistent headaches and migraines, that I'd still need to supplement with other meds to get me through, and that my immune system was and always would be unable to fight infection the way a normal person's would.

As I was surfing through Pinterest and the blog-o-sphere, I stumbled across this idea that what you eat could improve your reflux symptoms.  Well, duh! The doctors told me to avoid certain things (like anything with tomatoes, or soda).  I could pretty much guarantee that I'd either yak or be miserable for hours after eating something with marinara sauce...   But this was on a whole new level.  I hated my body, and I hated feeling sick all the time, so I took the gamble.  I did lots and lots .... and lots of research, and decided that it didn't look like anything that could hurt me long-term if I just tried it out for a little while.

I started making little changes.  I moved over the summer and joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) for myself, instead of just mooching Mom's veggies when I was home.  I tried to avoid eating frozen meals from the grocery store (like lunches and dinners).  That was about it for the first few months.  Over the summer, there weren't a lot of external changes to my body.

I started to get a little happier.  I tried cooking lots of new, different things, and found that I really enjoy cooking.  It doesn't stress me out, and I like the adventure and the challenge of a new recipe.  My hair got soo shiny.  I was able to wean off of one of my 3x/ day reflux doses, and I was no longer feeling like yakking.  These changes were enough to prompt me to continue my research, my studying, and my determination of what was best FOR ME.  I lost a few pounds, but not many, in those first months as I was learning.

And so began the CLEAN EATING CHRONICLES.  I want to share with y'all this 'diet' that I'm on, what I've done, how it's possible, practical, economical, time-savvy, and how I absolutely am not dieting, eat whatever I want whenever I want it, and have learned to keep my family happier and healthier.  As time goes on, I'd love to continue to share this with y'all, and I'd love for you to ask me questions and share your successes and failures with me.

Lord, please keep us happy and healthy and safe.  Amen.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I'm Alive...and Green

Happy St. Paddy's Day! I'm mostly Swedish, and in touch with all of the family over there, but I look Irish.

Blogging hiatus- maybe over?  Quick synopsis: 

December- got my thesis approved, graduated with my Masters', and the realization that for the first time ever, I wasn't working towards some major goal- I'd accomplished everything I hoped to at this point in my life.  Cue beginnings of adjustment crisis.

January- Science Olympiad and Academic Bowl Competitions begin- meaning 6 days and 5 nights of work a week, minimum.  Mid-January my little brother (aka other half) moved to Morocco with the Peace Corps and lots of unknowns.   I realize that for the first time in about 3 years, I don't have a group of close friends from college living within a mile radius and feel like a 'true adult,' on my own.

February- craziness at school continues, life crisis begins to mellow out.... sleep deprivation, baby brother's arts school performances and competitions for science olympiad and academic bowl have me on the road more days than I'm home.

March- Spring!!!! (And I've officially lost 50 pounds) :) Yay for clean eating and a healthy lifestyle, happiness, and faith.

Soon to come: Fun teaching adventures, how I lost the weight and am keeping it off, and silly stories from my students. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Loving the Life I Live

I've been a little MIA...I've been busy.  I feel like this time of year is always really busy for teachers, but I wasn't able to explain why  to a friend the other day.  It's not report card time, exams time, IEP time, but it's just BUSY.  Of course, this week is crazy because my academic bowl team competes to qualify for state and regional competitions AND my science olympiad team is going to our state competition, hopefully to qualify for Nationals.

Here's what you've missed:

~The first 6 weeks of no longer being a full time student and full time teacher....I had absolutely no idea what to do with all of my "free time."

~My students have been hysterical.  More on that to come later, now that you know I'm still alive.  We've started our chemistry unit, and we're having a blast....literally!

~My little brother moved to Morocco for 27 months to join the Peace Corps.  (I became a hot mess.  I love my brother and will miss him terribly.  We even love each other so much, we went to the same college. :p)
What you can't see is that just before
this he was being a monkey
 and was trying to check my hair for bugs to eat.... 
Me and my "little" brothers
This about sums it up...
 ~My new boy Clint has become a true part of the family.
Mom's hunk of love- new family member
~I found a new church family that has quickly become a 'family' for me.  They introduced me to this: 

~I cancelled my cable tv and used that money to join the local Y, which has a pool.  I managed to find the 'me' that I love the most within minutes in the pool.  I also had my first pool workout in about two years.  It's amazing how much I missed it and had no idea until I got back in the pool and felt more complete and more objective in my perspective.

~I've had time to think and analyze, and study and pray, and have found myself loving the life I'm living right now.  God has given me a small dose of the patience I so frequently need to be content to live in this moment, and to do the best I can as a teacher, as a friend, and as a family member.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lessons for Teacher- Not Matter

I've been learning a lot lately.

Sometimes, it's ridiculous vocabulary.  For instance, my crimebusters team went into competition and asked me the scientific name for taking a fingerprint.  Knowing that 'fingerprinting' wasn't what the judges were looking for, I googled it.  Turns out, the correct way to say that you're studying fingerprints is to say that you're looking at someone's dermatoglyphics.  If you break the word down, it makes perfect sense...it's just not part of our daily vocabulary.

I've been working with kids that are similarly or less affluent than my current population for the past 3 years, and I'm still routinely surprised at their lack of experiential knowledge.  It's not their fault- they simply haven't had the opportunities and exposure that make learning so much easier when you are able to leave the county you were born into or you're exposed to the news.  Regardless, watching their "whoa" faces as you explain something like their home state (South Carolina) bordering the Atlantic Ocean and describe what the ocean looks like, what a beach looks and feels and smells like, because they have no concept....it's sad.

As someone who's not a writing teacher (even though we write in Science and Social Studies regularly), my writing topics are not geared toward student opinions.  I get less time with my kids individually than I'd like- I get around to all the tables during their group or individual work, but there's very little time to talk to my kiddos about anything other than the task at hand.  Even our class changes are so short, there's time for a kid to start telling me something but rarely time to finish it.  I miss that more connectedness that I had in my smaller school.

During my after school tutoring time, we were working on matter versus not matter- what we'd been working on in class the day before.  One of my girls and I worked together on our lists, and eventually I had her write so that all the ideas on it were 100% hers and not a combination of our ideas.

Here's her list:

We discussed that feelings are a great example of something that is 'not matter,' but her feelings really tug at your heart strings.  I wonder how many of those feelings would be echoed by the rest of my kids.  This one really made me step back and think Friday afternoon.





Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy Monday

Last year, I had a student file my lesson plans for me.  I had them grouped by weeks and had her put them all into a large binder.... as I was flipping through last years' plans, I found this hidden note. :)  Sweet girl had lunch detention and was still this thoughtful!!


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cream of Mushroom Soup

I've written a few times about my food journey in the past year or so.  I used to think that reduced fat and fat free and lean cuisine, etc. were good options to help prevent weight gain.  I quickly ruled out freezer meals- they're so full of sodium, they don't fill you up OR keep you full, and if you look at the ingredients list, I'm not a good enough reader to pronounce the names of all the ingredients.  Unless it's some sort of ethnic food, I operate under the assumption that if I can't say it, I shouldn't eat it.

Anyway, the past year has been a time when I've finally started to learn how to cook beyond "survival mode."  You know, the college age kid that just cooks the same few staples- spaghetti, grilled chicken, family meal deals from Bi-Lo, veggies from a can or bag, etc.  It's been a lot of fun for me.  It's gotten increasingly more fun as I learn more about what I'm actually putting into my body, what the nutrients are, different ways to prepare the same staple ingredients, and striving to eat real food.  For those of you that don't have to listen to me talk about food on a regular basis, "real food" is non-processed, non-GMO, organic when possible, and local if at all possible food.  I could go into all sorts of explanations about why I chose this lifestyle, but basically, I've done a lot of research, tried a lot of things, and this is what works best for me- for my health and the way I feel.

I'm totally not a "cream of ____ soup" person, but with the holidays lately, I've done the green bean casserole and a few other dishes that require "cream of" soups.  In reading the ingredients, I decided it was time to see if there's a suitable, taste-comprable substitute out there.  I found some powdered substitutes where you add water when you're ready to use them, but most of them had more processed/ sketchy ingredients than the canned soup has.

So, from the Campbell's website, this is their cream of mushroom soup.  I'd really like to know what "flavorings" are.

At my inexpensive grocery store, a 10.75 oz can of cream of mushroom runs 2/$3 pretty regularly, and occasionally, you can get it 10/$10 at CVS.  So, at best, about a dollar for the 10.75 oz can.

Today, I made 5 pints.  My ingredients were:

~a handful of diced organic mushrooms (mega clearance, the whole carton was only 99 cents) so, maybe 45 cents of mushrooms
~4 cups of organic milk ($2.69/gallon) = 67 cents
~3/4 cup butter ($2.29/ 2 c.) = 86 cents
~1 cup of unbleached, whole wheat flour  = roughly 50 cents
~2 cups of homemade chicken stock)= negligible cost of 2 cups water, and give it electricity for about an hour- time to make the stock and then the soup.

Even if you budget electricity and water at 1.00, the total cost is still about 3.48.  It literally involved less than 5 total minutes of prep, one minute of stirring, and about 15 minutes of waiting for the soup to thicken.  So easy, and cheap.

Oh, and I made 5 pints worth, or almost 7.5 cans of store bought soup.  One's missing because I used it to make dinner. :)  At best price, you'd pay 7.50 for this amount of soup in the grocery store, so this is at least 50% savings.    I highly recommend it- one dish only, not time or labor intensive, and so much healthier for you and yours.

PS- You can freeze it!




Friday, January 4, 2013

52 Week Money Challenge

Anybody with a facebook has probably already seen this floating around in cyberspace, but I'm determined to try this challenge.  Basically, all it involves is setting aside the same number of dollars as the week it is in the calendar year. Example- this week, $1 because it's the first week of the year.  Next week, $2 because it's the second week of the year.  I'm modifying the plan because I'm a teacher and that's what we do.... or because if I alternate from the front and the back of the calendar year, it will be a balanced amount to pull out of my account every month.  I've already started a new savings account, nicknamed "52 Week Challenge" and all of my deposits for January are complete.  I only get paid once a month (at the end), so it's honestly easiest for me to deposit as soon as I'm paid.  The bummer of this modification is that it takes the thrill out of making a deposit every week.  This is truly going to be a challenge for me because it will be much more of my income than people generally tithe going into this savings account.

Which reminds me... I need to get back to reading The Peaceful Mom's blog.  You can read about the beginnings of her family of 6's journey to live on $28,000 a year on this link.

Here's an image of the 52 week challenge:

Again, I'm pulling weeks from the front and back.  For the month of January, I've done Week 1, Week 52, Week 2, Week 51.  I'm also crossing them off on a printed copy of this that's in my planner, but I'm attached to my planner and you may not be.  Regardless, I think this is a great, fun, and disciplined way to save myself a nice hunk of change. :)