Traveling and Catching Up

Well hey there! Miss me the past two days? I bet! 🙂

I missed Thursday and Friday for really good reasons, I swear…

Thursday was my last day home with my family and I went to Heini’s Cheese Chalet in Amish Country with my aunt and uncle and then spent the night having family time. Sorry Pinterest Post, you’ve been trumped by family time…I’m sure you can all understand!

Friday was filled with travels from OH to FL and lots and LOTS of traffic! What should have been a 13 hour drive turned into a 16 hour drive! Now I understand traffic if there is construction or an accident, but there was none of the above. I have never once been in traffic that put me 3 hours behind for NO REASON! Ugh! Ok, complaining aside, I did spend my 3 hours of passenger time (yes, I drove the other 13 hours!) checking out inspiring stories on Nerd Fitness for motivation since I knew I wasn’t going to be able to fit in a workout this Friday.

As for today’s “What’s on My Mind” post, I’m totally into the needs of my 5 month old puppy, Atlas! See, here he is!

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So cute, right?! Proud puppy mommy right here! Such a nerd for saying that too? Totally!

One thing I’d really like to try this week (maybe tomorrow?!) is making Atlas natural puppy treats. His little tummy is super-sensitive and can’t handle corn or wheat products. This puts me between a rock and a hard place to either make my own or fork over extra cash for the more expensive natural treats. I found this recipe on Pinterest (see I technically didn’t miss it!) and I’m hoping they turn out!


Here’s the recipe from Simmer till Done:

Cleo’s Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour *
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth. Stir in dry milk, sea salt, and dried parsley (if using, optional). Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough. Turn out onto lightly floured surface (can use the brown rice flour) and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ – depending on your dog’s chew preferences, ask first – and use biscuit or other shape cutter to punch shapes, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go. Place shapes on cookie sheet, no greasing or paper necessary. If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely on rack before feeding to dog.

* Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch and promotes better dog digestion. Many dogs have touchy stomachs or allergies, and do not, like many people I know, tolerate wheat.

Makes up to 75 small (1″) biscuits or 50 medium biscuits


Kitchen Cabinet Organization

If you’re anything like me, you have every gadget available for purchase at Bed, Bath, and Beyond in your kitchen! I love the little do-dads that make cooking easier, but they take up so much space! When I finally get settled out in Cali this summer, I am bound and determined to organize my kitchen from top to bottom so it works for me, not so I have to work to use it. Here are a couple things that I plan on doing:


Inexpensive towel bars make great additions to the inside of cabinet doors to hold pot lids. Not only are they organized, but easily accessable when you need one! Genious!


Staying with the “mounting inside cabinets” theme, L-bracketing a magazine rack to the inside of your cabinet door makes an awesome cutting board holder.


For a “no-hardware-necessary” job, installing a tension rod to the cleaning supply cabinet underneath your kitchen sink gives you the option to hang all of those spray bottle cleaners (think: Windex, 409, Resolve, Febreeze, etc.)


Using all of the space available in a tiny kitchen (especially our small apartment kitchen!) is an absolute MUST, so Jeff will be using his carpentry talents to build me one of these bad boys this summer! Imagine all of the space you could save in your pantry if you could store non-parishable cans and jars in that small unused space between the wall and the fridge!

I hope these few ideas help you get organized in the kitchen so that way you can try out a few of my Recipe of the Week recipes 🙂

Photo Credits:
Towel Bars – Martha Stewart
Magazine Rack Holder – artlovefashion
Under the Sink Rod – Little Bit Funky
Skinny Food Storage Shelf – IHeart Organizing

Classroom Twitter and Sriracha Shrimp Update

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

If you read Sunday’s post, you’ll see that I didn’t have a chance to make the Sriracha Shrimp & Pesto Bruschetta (as I’m now calling it). I made it tonight, however, and it got RAVE reviews from my family! I think they’re a little biased, but they are usually brutally honest if they don’t like something, so I’ll count it as a win! Check it out, now with pictures: Recipe of the Week: Pesto, Sriracha Shrimp, & Basil

Now onto today’s post: Classroom Twitter!


Yes, I have a classroom Twitter. #followme @MrsVanCuren 😉 (was that in kid speak well enough?!) I use both my actual teaching Twitter account as well as a dry-erase version that’s posted on my storage closet door in my classroom. I use both for everything from exit slips to class discussions. The kids really like being able to take out their phones in class to tweet me responses and get excited when I tweet them back. As a teacher with a Master’s in Educational Technology, I understand that you can use social media in an educational setting, if and only if you set strict ground rules. My kids know that if they are going to tweet me, either on Twitter or on my door, that the responses need to be well thought out, school appropriate, and educationally-based. If they do not follow these rules, they will earn a zero for that grade and get a referral. So far, I have yet to have a problem!

If you are hesitant to actually use a Twitter account to reach your secondary students, however, I find that my students love my dry-erase version just as much! It’s an easy way to keep track of their daily learning in a clear, concise manner. All I did was draw the shapes for the response tiles in Word and print them out. I got each tile laminated at School Aides, the local teacher supply store, where the entire board cost me about $3.00 to laminate! Cha-Ching! If your school offers free laminating, then definitely go for that for a super low cost board!!

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If any of you out there are interested in using this in your classroom, leave me a comment below and I can send you the templates I created! Just change the picture and name on the Teacher Tile and you’re good to go!

Pencil Skirts Galore!

As a young professional, I find myself struggling with the want to dress my age, but still be taken seriously in my fashion choices. Since it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression, I want to make sure that I am leaving a positive one when I dress for work, meetings and/or interviews. My secret to looking professional at 25? Pencil Skirts! I have about 12 in my closet currently, and you can bet that when I hit the outlets or a good sale at the mall, I will leave with a new pencil skirt to add to my collection. I love how easy pencil skirts turn a drab outfit into one that is polished and classy. Here are a few examples:

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I love that by tucking in comfortable tee or button down shirt, I can have a comfortable look that’s flattering too! Throw on a skinny belt and a statement necklace and you’ve got a full blown outfit!

Even when I’m not a work, I love the look for special occasion events! I sported the look for both my wedding shower last year (right) and my sister’s this year (left), as well!

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Shopping List (top 6 photos):
Gray Skirt –  LOFT (~ $20)
Black + Tan Lace Scalloped Skirt – LOFT (~ $20)
Dark Gray Lace Skirt – LOFT (~ $20)
Black + White Graphic Skirt – LOFT (~ $20)
Belts – Target ($8-15 each)
Green Gingham Button Down – J. Crew Outlet ($30)
Black Tank + White Tank – Target ($7-9 each)
Khaki Blazer + Black Blazer – Express ($90 each – SPLURGE!)
Black Tee – Banana Republic ($10)
Chambray Button Down – LOFT ($15)
White Button Down – NY&Co ($15)
Blue Statement Necklace – LOFT ($24)
Coral Beaded Necklace – Charming Charlie ($10)
Black Rope Necklace – Target ($10)
Coral Bubble Necklace – J.Crew ($35 – SALE)
Clear Gem + Pearl Necklace – GAP ($14)

Recipe of the Week: Pesto, Sriracha Shrimp, & Basil

I must admit that I wasn’t able to cook my recipe of the week. I know, I know…big time slacker right here. To my defense we had our family Easter dinner today since I will be heading back to Florida on Friday. Since we had a HUGE dinner consisting of honey glazed ham, turkey breast, stuffing, cheesy potatoes, green beans, and hawaiian rolls, I decided that I will post about my recipe of the week today, but make it later this week and post pictures of my creation then! I hope you all won’t be too disappointed 🙂

This week’s recipe is a quick and easy appetizer. There is no recipe attached to it, since the original source is a photo from Instagram by dgavazzi. I assume that this Instagrammer had a delicious bite at a trendy restaurant and posted food pics like I do so often! Since there is no recipe, I am making up my own and I will let you know how it turns out the moment I make them!

sriracha shrimp

Here’s the recipe:


  • 1/2 lb deveined, tail-off uncooked shrimp
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 loaf crusty french baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 jar prepared pesto (or use your favorite homemade recipe!)
  • fresh basil, torn – for garnish


  1. In a gallon sized zip-top bag, combine shrimp with Sriracha, honey, and lime juice. Shake to mix ingredients. Marinate for 15-20 minutes in the fridge.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add in 1 Tbsp. butter and stir until melted.
  3. Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil. Place bread oil-side down into buttered pan and cook just until bread is crispy. Continue crisping bread until all slices are toasted, adding more butter to pan as necessary.
  4. Top each slice of bread with 1-2 Tbsp. prepared pesto.
  5. In the same pan that you toasted the bread, lightly oil the bottom of the pan and cook shrimp (in remaining marinade) until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Top each bruschetta with a cooked Sriracha shrimp and a small drizzle of sauce. Place a piece of torn basil on top or side of bruschetta and plate!


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Travels to Ohio and Missed Posts

So all I can say is “I told you so!”

As I assumed, I’ve missed a couple posts during my traveling day (Friday) and my sister’s wedding shower day (Saturday). So here’s what you missed:

Fitness Friday: HiitBody workout Day 1: Fitness Challenge
Lisa at is not only a super-fit gorgeous inspiration for anyone looking to get fit, but is realistic in her quest to help others start a healthy lifestyle. She motivates me through the days when I feel like I don’t have the time or motivation to work out since all of her workouts are 12 minutes or less. Lately, her personal videos on Facebook have helped me push past my wanting for junk food so I can stay on track with my fitness goals. I love her!!

Saturday – What’s on my Mind? Wedding Shower Galore!!
I was tasked with the mission to plan my sister’s wedding shower in Ohio….from Florida…
All she gave me for direction was that she wanted “muted neutrals” as her color theme. I ended up designing her invites and centered her theme around “country vintage” and used burlap as my main inspiration. She chose ivory, sage, and lilac as her shower colors. Here’s what some of the details looked like:

  photo image

Shower Invite 1

I will be posting my regular Sunday Recipe of the Week tonight so be on the lookout! Thanks for keeping up with me! I keep getting emails about new followers and I cannot thank you guys enough for encouraging me!! You all ROCK!

Pinterest Post: “Dating” in marriage

Jeff and I have been married almost 10 months. Since he’s been in training for a few months, we haven’t had an issue with our time together, but normally I find that our “dates” involve dinner and a movie.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dinner and a movie every now and then, but we do the same thing all. the. time! It gets old after a while! If we’re supposed to spend the next 70+ years together, we better start getting creative with our date nights!

I found this list of unusual date ideas on Pinterest and I cannot wait for Jeff and I to be together in Cali and complete some of these!

Here are my top 5:

  1. Number 4: Create photo evidence suggesting that you went on an adventure that didn’t really happen
  2. Number 7: Try and visit as many people s you can in one night, and turn as many things in their apartment upside down as you can without them noticing
  3. Number 8: Go to the airport, get the cheapest, soonest departing flight to anywhere when you show up, and stay there for a weekend
  4. Number 12: In the middle of the night, drive to the beach so you arrive just as the sun is rising. Have a breakfast picnic, then fall asleep together. Bring a sun umbrella
  5. Number 13: Drive somewhere unknown and have dinner in a city you’ve never been to.

Sound like fun? Let me know which one you want to try first or give me a new idea to add to my list!


Reclaimed Wood Obsession

Happy Wednesday! Just one more day until my sister comes down to Florida to help me drive back up to Ohio with the pup for Spring Break! Apologies ahead of time for any missed blog posts next week as I will be hosting my sister’s bridal shower and trying to see mine and Jeff’s families all in one short week!

Anywho…It’s Wednesday, which means that we are going to be talking about my obsession with all things home-related! Every time that I post on Wednesdays, it makes me itch to get into our apartment in Cali and start organizing and decorating!

I have been pinning quite a bit lately in relation to my (non-existant) future home and i find myself being attracted to everything reclaimed wood. I love the vintage, country vibe that has such a modern feel to it, too. From a shelf put behind a couch for extra surface space…

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To a bathroom wall re-do…

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And a mason jar “chandelier”…

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My obsession is taking over my Around the House board! It’s a really good thing I married a guy who is a Construction Management major, and is so handy and loves wood-working huh?! I see lots of reclaimed wood in our eventual-first-home future!

Photo credits:
sadie + stella
Mandy Jean Chic
The Life of CK and Nate

Toss Up! Learning Game

I am always on a mission to find fun ways to help my students learn. A coworker of mine was telling me about a game she was developing that sounded like a fun, interactive, engaging game to get kids interested in learning new content. I decided to modify and DIY her idea and came up with my new classroom game, Toss Up!

toss up!

Toss Up! is based off of the fishbowl games you see at the local fair where all of the fishbowls are lined up next to each other and you throw ping pong balls at the glasses with the aim of making one in to win a goldfish.

The best part about Toss Up! is that it works with any grade and any subject. I use this in my Culinary classes, but it can work with spelling, history, math, English, Foreign Language, or any other subject. Since the teacher makes the questions, it can work for every age and content area!

There are quite a few rules involved in Toss Up! If the teacher gives adequate time to explain the rules the first time it’s played, they will set the class up for success every time they play in the future.

Here are the rules:


  • Set game board in the center of the classroom with tables towards outer edges of the room.
  • Make four lines with colored tape on the ground four feet away from each side of the board.
  • Place a line of chairs behind the line, starting with the first chair’s feet on the colored tape with the others being place behind it in a straight line

Before Game Begins

  • Students will be split into four equal teams (per color)
  • Each team will be given a ping pong ball
  • Team members will rotate chairs after the first person takes their turn tossing their ping pong ball towards the game board.
  • Teacher should make up a list of review questions related to their content:

– 46 general review questions (numbered 1-46)
– 12 “Ladybug” review question spots (numbered L1-L12)  –  these
should be hard review questions
– 12 “stinger” spots (numbered S1-S12) – consequences/chance
opportunities (explained below)

How it Works

Each team will have a chance to toss one ping pong ball at the board.

  • Numbered cup = review question asked.
    • Correct answer = +10 pts for their team
    • Incorrect answer = No points added or taken away
  • Ladybug = bonus spot question; check number on ladybug.
    • Correct answer = award related to that number (hard questions on these spots make it more interesting!)
      • Examples: Piece of candy, more points awarded, extra freebie, extra hint, etc.
  • Bee/ “Stinger” = consequence/chance spot; check number on bee.
    • No question asked, consequence/chance related to that number given to team
      • Examples: lose all points, trade one player; lose 20 points; lose one life line; etc.

Each team will get three life lines to use. These life lines cannot be reused once gone.

  • Phone a friend – ask another player on their team (has to choose which team member)
  • Hint – player can ask the teacher a question related to the question
    • Cannot ask “What is the correct answer?” type questions.
  • Freebie – answer given to student, points still awarded –OR – avoid a “Stinger” consequence

Answering Questions

  • If the current team answers correctly, they get throw another ping pong ball, but must rotate players.
  • If the current team answered incorrectly, the answer is not given and a ball is tossed by the next team.
  • If current team lands on a “stinger,” the consequence is applied and the next team tosses.
  • If the player misses the board or ball sits on top of cups, team loses a turn and the play goes to the next team.

Teams continue play until time runs out. Team with the most points wins!

  • Ideas: bonus points on next test, candy, extra time on a project, etc.

To make yourself a board, you will need:

  • One sheet of thick poster board
  • 70 clear plastic 6 oz. cups
  • Hot glue gun
  • Colored paper
  • Ladybug & Bee stamp (or two other stamps to represent the “ladybugs” and “stingers”)

I strongly urge that you make yourself a board. My high schoolers LOVE this game and ask to play it constantly! It’s fun and challenging (since I make it harder to match their ability level) and they learn a bunch each time they play!

One Shirt, Three Ways

I love shopping.


I love it!

There’s nothing better than pulling a new shirt, skirt, or necklace out of your closet and knowing that you’ve never worn it before. It’s reminiscent of Christmas morning!

Now I’m not a credit-card-addicted, crazy shop-a-holic or anything, but I do appreciate new clothing. Being a teacher in a high school, and previously a middle school, I understand the need for a change in my closet. My students notice what I wear on a daily basis and will straight up call me out if I *gasp* wear the same outfit the week after I wore it originally! Oh the horror!

I’m sure there will be people that say that my profession does not dictate my need for new clothing, but I bet there’s a study out there that says that kids pay better attention to a well-dressed teacher than a teacher who wears the same thing week after week.

I shop for my “teacher clothes” mainly at Ann Taylor LOFT, Banana Republic, J. Crew outlet, and Target because of their reasonable prices and “professional, but still young” look.

I bought this blouse from LOFT about 6 months ago on sale. It is one of the most versatile pieces in my closet because it can be mixed and matched with many of my bottoms and cardigans to create a whole new outfit. For instance, I can pair it with my black polka dot skirt for a simple, but fun outfit at the beginning of the month. (note: don’t mind the slippers and boots behind me…)

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And then transition it at mid month by switching out my black skirt for my gray one and adding a leopard belt and flats to add some character…

shirt 3

And it works for after-school activities too (say, drinks with the hubs) if I change into my favorite skinnies!


Shopping List:
Red Blouse – LOFT – $20, sale
Polka Dot Skirt – Banana Republic – $35
Gray Skirt – LOFT outlet – $20
Skinny Jeans – GAP – $35, sale
Leopard Belt – Target – $8
Leopard Flats – Target – $15