Saturday, August 25, 2012

Her Stop by and Say "HI!", 8/25/2012

It's Saturday which means it's time for another "Stop by and Say "HI!" moment with Melinda at Does This Scale Make Me Look Fat?. Today's question is about one of my favorite things!

Her question: What is your favorite fair or festival food?

The Virginia State Fair is coming up - it begins at the end of September. I cannot wait!! Sean, my parents, and I went last year and I have so many fond memories. I rode a Ferris Wheel for the first time, I rode the Tilt-a-Whirl (my fave carnival ride), we played some games and I won!, and we ate some amazing food.

The stand where we bought the Fried Oreos
Sean and Daddy had a corn dog which they loved but I am not a big fan of corn dogs. We had lunch at the Virginia Tech barbecue stand which made my brother-in-law, a Clemson alum and major fan, none too happy. :) The barbecue was delish though! 

But I would have to say that the favorite thing we ate all day, and I am looking forward to having again, are Fried Oreos. Yum! Yum! Yum! The Oreos get soft and the outside is crispy...they are warm and chocolately....Yum! Yum! Yum!

Elephant Ear goodness!!
Honorable Mention goes to the Elephant Ears. We got one to share last year and it was tasty! I'm looking forward to that too. 

What are your favorite fair or carnival foods?


Connected Note: This is my favorite picture from the fair last year. Sean took it of my parents competing in one of the games. They look so happy and like they are having so much fun - I just love this photo!

Friday, August 24, 2012

His and Her Top 5 for Friday, 8/24/2012

Hey all! I (Amanda) have read a few other bloggers who do a top 5 events from the week on Fridays. It seemed like a fun idea so we are stealing borrowing the idea. :) Here goes...

1. Four bags!! 
I (Amanda) am so excited that last Sunday I was able to purge my closet of clothes that are too big and get ready for all the new clothes I will be buying this weekend!

2. Room ready!! 
I (Amanda) love that my parents and Sean came out this week to help me set up my room. I really appreciate that they are willing to give up their time to help me.

3. Origami Owl!! 
I (Amanda) went to an Origami Owl party on Tuesday night and I cannot wait to get my new locket. Pics will be posted so you can see the charms I chose. Seriously, I cannot wait!!!!!

4. Delish dinner!! I (Sean) had an amazing dinner of fish and chips with creme brulee for dessert at an Irish Pub last Saturday night. The fact that Amanda and her parents were there to share in great conversation just made the dinner better.

5. Donation!! I (Sean) always feel good when I am able to donate platelets because I know it helps those in need. You should consider signing up to donate too. Check out there information here.

So those are our top five moments of the week. What would make your top 5 of the week list?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

His: Giving Back to the Community

   (This isn't technically a hobby but this activity takes up a  decent amount of my free time so I am posting about it. Plus it is something I feel strongly about.)

             One of things I have always tried to do is give back to the community. I know I can't save the world alone but if I can do a little, it's better than sitting back and doing nothing. Amanda and I donate money to support the local community along with our two World Vision children but this post is about something else that money can not buy and something that could potential save someone's life - donating blood.

          I have been a blood donor for approx 17 years now. It all started when I was in 10th or 11th grade. The school asked for volunteers to donate blood and that all students that went would miss the last class of the day. I looked at my schedule and realized that was maths class so I was already interested. Then they announced you got free milkshakes and that they are some of the best milkshakes Tamworth has to offer. I believe at that point I was off my chair and running to get a consent form as I am a sucker for a good milkshake. I was a little nervous but it didn't hurt too much and a short while later I had completed my first donation. When I lived in Australia the ladies would schedule my next appointment so I wouldn't forget to show up. In my current city I don't live close enough to a blood bank so my donations are a little more sporadic and dependent on nearby blood drives.

This machine is used to collect
platelets and then returns the rest
of the blood to the donor.
           About 6 weeks ago the local chapter of the American Red Cross called me and told me that I was an excellent candidate to donate platelets and wondered if I would be interested in coming in to donate. I had heard about this process but never  looked into it. Basically they hook you up to a machine which takes out about a 1/4 pint(62ml) of blood at a time and processes it, removing the platelets and then returning the rest of the blood along with some saline solution to you before repeating the process. The neat thing is that they only need to use one needle and it is smaller than the one they use for regular (whole) blood donations. It does take a while longer (about 2 hours for the donation) but they have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand plus a personal TV/DVD player and a good selection of movies to watch so the time goes quickly enough. You can donate platelets every week if you want but for right now I am donating every other week.

        So why do I donate blood and platelets? Mostly because it's something I can do to help out those in need. I donate blood because I would never want someone to be in an accident or surgery and not be able to get the blood they need to survive or get through surgery. There is no synthetic blood or substitute so if not enough donors step up there is a real possibility that there will be no blood when someone needs it. I donate platelets because they use them primarily for cancer patients and both my mum and mum-in-law have been affected by cancer and I would like to help out others who are affected by this terrible illness.

     If you have thought about donating blood or platelets and haven't done it yet I encourage you to make an appointment or go to a blood drive. If you haven't donated in a while, why not find a blood drive near you? Here's some links to help you out:

American Red Cross  Info about donating blood. This should answer a lot of your questions that you may have.  Easy way to find a blood bank or blood drive near you. More information about platelet donation.

Australian Red Cross Information about donating blood to the Australian Red Cross Make an appointment online for blood, plasma or platelet donations. Information about plasma or platelet donations.

Check out the links above and consider making a donation soon. It costs nothing and the reward is the chance to save one life or even more with a single donation. Remember only about 3% of eligible adults make regular donations and many of us will need a blood transfusion at some point in our lives.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Her Summer Vacation Wrap-Up

Earlier this summer I posted about all the things I wanted to accomplish over summer vacation (you can find the post here). Since I am going back to work (officially, because I have already been twice this week) tomorrow, I thought I would check out how I did. Here goes...

What was done...
1 - Catch up on laundry and housework
         Thank goodness!! I hope to not fall that behind again.
4 - Plan our vacation 
         Our vacation was fully planned - but the washing machine had other ideas. The first day of our "stay-cation" with more on that story is here.
7 - Go to Busch Gardens
          Went several times and, I must say, Verbolten is my new favorite roller coaster.
8 - Go to Water Country
          Went several times and hoping to go again before they close for the season.
10 - Participate in a book study (The Daily 5 and The CAFE)
           I got a lot of great ideas from the two books I read.  Trying to figure out how to best implement them in my classroom
12 - Cook
           I found some great recipes and enjoyed being able to give Sean a break from his chef duties.
13 - Work on school stuff
            My school to-do list was lengthy, but I am happy that it is (mostly) done.
14 - Paint kitchen
            I could not take that hideous border anymore - yay for it being gone!!

What was sortof done...
2 - Go to the gym
            I said "sortof" for this one because, though I went to the gym, it was not as regularly as I wanted.
3 - Lose 15 pounds 
            I lost a pound which is sortof losing 15 pounds, right??
5 - Read 30 books
            I read 25 books so I was close. I blame the Olympics. A lot of my reading time was spent watching the events.
9 - Hang out with friends
            We had a great time with many friends this summer - just wish we had more time to spend with them.
11 - Travel
             We visited friends in the mountains but we didn't make it down to see my sis. Darn!

What was not done...
6 - Go to the movies 
               I did not go to a single movie this summer. Weird!
15 - Pinterest ideas
               I got a lot of items from my "School Stuff" board completed, but not the "For the Home" board. Feeling some weekend projects coming on.
16 - Go to baseball games
               No Tides games. :( Maybe before the season ends.

Going forward...
I am hoping to finish off my school to-do list and get ready for the kids first day on the 4th. I have some ideas on Pinterest for the house that I want to work on. I need to go to the gym and train for that 8K in December and get back on the WW program wholeheartedly. I would like to schedule more time with friends in the area and travel to those who are away. Fall is shaping up to be a great season!

Did you get any of your summer to-do list items checked off?


Sunday, August 19, 2012

His and Her Weekend Recap, 8/19/2012

Another weekend of fun, family, and food. Here's what we got up to...

Sean's recap of Saturday...
   Our plans changed a little due to the weather but it was still a good day. We hoped to go to one of our favourite eateries in Norfolk but the weather was supposed to get bad so we skipped it and went straight to our only errand for the day. Our errand was to visit the tailor and have them take in some of Amanda's pants. Sadly for the pants, but not for Amanda because she has lost so much weight, they were far too big to be able to be tailored properly. So that means Amanda gets to go shopping for new pants and the local Goodwill store has some nice gently worn clothing items.
    Then it was onto Amanda's parents house. Since her dad is still recovering from eye surgery I mowed the lawns for them. It didn't take very long and now the lawns are nice and short. If only I could say the same about the yard at our house. Then we hung out for a while with them (aka the blokes took a nap) and then we headed out to a favourite place to eat dinner.
    Dinner was at Finn McCools which is an Irish pub in Virginia Beach. We all ordered their fish and chips. We also got gravy to go with our chips (Fries) which is foreign to most Americans but is a big hit in Australia. If you haven't tried gravy with your chips/fries then you haven't lived and need to give it a try. You won't be disappointed! We also got dessert which was a custard style dessert for me (I can't spell the real name of it) and Bread Pudding for everyone else. After dinner we hung out for a while and headed home. All in all it was a pretty good day!

Amanda's recap of Sunday...
We were planning to drive to Newport News today (about 45 minutes away) to use a coupon I have for a mani/pedi but it began to storm so we decided to stay closer to home. We grocery shopped for the week and found some really great deals.  Yay!
At home I decided it was time to clean out my closet. I didn't want to go back to school clothes shopping without knowing what clothes fit and what didn't. I ended up with four bags of clothes and three outfits on hangers to donate to our local thrift store. There are some great items that I am almost sorry to give up - almost! Giving them up means they are too big for me now and I am determined to not feel bad about having to give something away because it is too big. 
As a reward, I decided to make Peanut Butter Cup Blondies from a new favorite blogger - "Point-less" Meals. They are cooling now but if they taste half as good as they smell we have a winner. 
Sean went to pick up dinner - Chinese food - and I am ready to cozy up with Big Brother on CBS and The Great Food Truck Race on FoodNetwork later tonight.

Tomorrow Sean has lovingly and graciously decided to take the day off to help me in my classroom. I am hoping we will get the posters hung, bulletin boards covered and set-up, and furniture in place. Lofty expectations but my parents are also coming out for a few hours so I am hopeful we can get all that accomplished. 

What did you get up to this weekend?


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Her "Stop by and Say Hi!", 8/18/2012

Hey guys! It's Saturday which means it's time for a Stop by and Say HI! moment from Melinda at Does this scale make me look fat?

Her question: Where do you find new recipes to try?

That's an easy one for me because I posted earlier this week about my favorite Weight Watcher blogs. Rather than retype everything, here is a link to that post

I can't wait to find some more recipe sites through this linky party! Thanks Melinda!

Happy Saturday everyone!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Her First Day Plans Linky Party

Hello all! I am linking up with one of my favorite bloggers, Raye @ The Caffeinated Teacher, for a linky party. I cannot believe summer is basically over (I go back to school next Thursday for inservice days) and it's time to start thinking about the first day of school with the kids.

I honestly do not think I have done the same thing in my classroom on the first day of school for any of my 11 years. I always hate what I do on the first day - not that I can articulate what I don't like about it but I remember each year that I didn't like what I did the previous year. Thankfully I think that has changed! This is how I think my schedule will go and it is very similar to last year - Yay!!! (I teach 8th grade so that means 70 minute classes - I will have a Civics schedule and an English schedule since I teach both subjects.)

5 minutes: Attendance - Ask each student to introduce himself/herself by saying their first and last name and answering the card they chose as they walked in the door. I got the cards on Teachers Pay Teachers - you can find them here.

10 minutes: A ten question true/false quiz. Students will answer true/false for ten questions about me, my classroom, and my classroom procedures. (The questions are something like "T/F: Mrs. Ironmonger throws away papers with no name." This is false and when I go over the answers I explain the "No Name" board to the students.)  Right/wrong answers do not matter.

20 minutes: Answers to the questions are revealed. While discussing the answers, the classroom procedures and expectations will be laid out for the students.

25 minutes: "Find Someone Who..." worksheet. This worksheet gives the students ten questions, like "Find someone who knows the name of the current President of the United States?" and students must find a classmate who knows the answer. They don't write "Barrack Obama" on the worksheet, they write their classmate's name. The students love this activity because they don't have to know all about U.S. government to complete the worksheet. They just have to find a classmate who knows the answer. It takes the pressure off immediately.

10 minutes: Discussion of the answers to the questions. This helps me learn the names of the students as well as discuss some of the major topics we will be covering over the course of the year.

5 minutes: Attendance - Ask each student to introduce himself/herself by saying their first and last name and answering the card they chose as they walked in the door. I got the cards on Teachers Pay Teachers - you can find them here.

10 minutes: A ten question true/false quiz. Students will answer true/false for ten questions about me, my classroom, and my classroom procedures. (The questions are something like "T/F: Mrs. Ironmonger throws away papers with no name." This is false and when I go over the answers I explain the "No Name" board to the students.) Right/wrong answers do not matter.

20 minutes: Answers to the questions are revealed. While discussing the answers, the classroom procedures and expectations will be laid out for the students.

30 minutes: We will discuss what a bio poem is and I will show my example (this is also good because it helps the students learn more about me). I have a worksheet to help the students structure their own bio poem. As they write, I can assist as needed and ask questions about what they are writing to help learn more about each student. When finished, I will give each a sheet of construction paper so they can neatly write their poem on the paper and then illustrate it. With the students' permission, I want to hang the poems in the hallway. I found the template for this idea on Teachers Pay Teachers - you can find it here.

5 minutes: Finish class by collecting poems and reminding students about the forms that need to be returned and supplies that will be needed.

This year I will have a class of students that I teach for two periods - once for Civics, then again later in the day for English. Since that class will have already heard my expectations/procedures speil in Civics I will need an additional activity for their English class to fill those 30 minutes. Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated! :)

Hope you all enjoy your first day with your students. TTYL,
PS - I texted my husband while I was writing this post to tell him I was doing a linky party about the first day of school. My stupid auto-correct changed linky to kinky and now my husband cannot stop laughing. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Her Favorite WW Recipe Blogs

It is hard losing weight. Just yesterday I found a poster on Pinterest that said...
This is the original link for that poster.

That is so true! Losing weight is hard - you have to monitor what you are eating more then before, you have to force (or trick in my case) your body and mind to want to get up and move, and you have to try to stay positive or you will slip-slide back up to where you were before.

Staying overweight is harder though. It's harder on your body psychically - I could spend hours just listing the problems I have had and do have from being so overweight for so long. It is hard mentally as well. Dealing with the looks, comments, and inner feelings of not being good enough because of the weight is taxing and draining on a person.

Thankfully I have found four women who have made it their mission to help those of us who are trying to lose weight to eat fun, delicious, and easy meals and who have decided that we should not give up the foods we love just to lose weight. I wish I could thank each one of them personally for making the process a little simpler and a lot more delicious.

First is...
I have talked about some of her recipes on the blog before but she is a genius when it comes to taking food that we all know and love and transforming them into healthier options. I make a SkinnyTaste dish probably once a week for Sean and I. When I need a new recipe, this is the first place I stop. If you haven't been by to see her ideas, I really recommend that you do so. :) Amazing!

Second is...
This blog is a relatively new find for me but I am in love already. I found the "desserts" category of her site pinned on Pinterest and checked it out. She has some amazing desserts from cookies to bread pudding to a Mexican Chocolate Cake that she just pinned this week that I know I will be making soon. Her savory dishes are equally impressive.

Third is...
This blog I found through the Weight Watchers site. I love her recipes and have tried many. They have all been easy and delicious! 


This is a new find for me as well and I have not perused this site as much as the others. She has some great ideas though that I am sure Sean and I will be trying soon.

Each site has a "Search" option and an index. If you are looking for a new dinner or a way to lighten up an old favorite, I would absolutely encourage you to check out these sites. I'm sure you will love them and come to rely on them as much as I do.

Do you have any other sites where you get great WW or low-fat recipes? Please share if you do! :)


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Her Weigh In, 8/14/2012

I need more accountability - so I'm going to try using the blog and our followers as my accountability partners. What do you say - do you think you guys are up for it?

Weigh in days are Tuesdays and over the course of the summer I have gone to exactly one Weight Watchers meeting to weigh in. All the other weeks I have been weighing in at home using the Wii Fit. I'm certain that it is not as accurate as the scales at the WW meeting but at least it is giving me some idea.

I am not proud to say that last week I was over my points by close to 70 and I did not earn any activity points. :( So ashamed of myself! I have some excuses - it was my birthday week, we went to dinner, there was cake and ice cream - but really I did not budget well and stopped caring that I was over points. I didn't stop tracking, which is a plus, but I did stop caring about what I was eating/tracking which is a minus.

I got on the "scale" this morning expecting a gain and hoping it would be less than 5 pounds. I was shocked when it said I hadn't gained anything. I stayed the same weight as last week. I took that as a victory and even did a little victory dance. haha I vowed that this week will be different!
Click here for more information

Moving on from here - Busch Gardens Williamsburg decorates for Christmas in a big way and I love it! They also have an 8K walk/run through the park on the first weekend of December. My husband ran last year and I have decided to walk this year. I started training today - I know it seems like a long way away (16 weeks) but six miles is a lot for me and I need structure and a reason to work out. Tying things to the 8K should *fingers crossed* provide some much needed motiviation. I made a schedule modifying a half marathon training schedule I found here. I love that the program has plans for walking a certain number of minutes during the week and then for a certain number of miles on Sundays. I am hopeful that this way I will be able to keep it up once school starts next week. Also, I like that Mondays are "rest" days because I never want to go to the gym on Mondays. Is that just me?

If you need some inspiration or information, you can check out and follow my "Changing Life" Pinterest board here. Do you have any races coming up that you are training for? How do you keep yourself motivated to earn those activity points?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Her 33rd Birthday

A birthday message from Sean 
Today is my birthday! :) My mom and dad always made a big deal of birthdays when I was growing up. They would wake me singing and make a point to say "Happy Birthday" at multiple times during the day. My grandparents would call and sing happy birthday as well and my aunt would call but not necessarily sing. I usually had two parties - one for my friends at a pool or bowling alley and one at home for my family. Some of my best memories growing up are of my birthday parties and feeling so special.

During the day today I watched the Olympics - not such a good day for some USA teams (I felt horrible for the men's volleyball and men's water polo teams). I absolutely love seeing the teams compete and hearing the stories of the athletes as they try their best and show the pride they have for their homeland. Did you see the story today about the female runner from Saudi Arabia? This is the first year women have competed for that country; she came in last in her heat but I'm pretty sure she, and thousands of women from Saudi Arabia, did not care one bit. 

My present from Sean is at my parents' house to stop me from finding it while he was at work - I am not a snooper but he was worried I would start cleaning and stumble across it. He brought me home a present to enjoy until he can get my gift from their house.

Yum! Yum!

He also brought home something I ordered from Very Jane. This is like Groupon for Etsy/handmade products. It is a crocheted flower ring with a faux pearl center. It is on an adjustable band and I love it! I got a white one too. I have ordered a few things through Very Jane over the last few weeks. They have such cute items! You should check them out here

We decided to go out for my birthday dinner. Sean and I both like going to Japanese Steakhouses and we have a great one nearby. We didn't take any photos but the cook did the flaming volcano and he flipped the egg on the spatula. It was very impressive - and tasty!

Sean told me earlier today that he wanted to take me to see my "favorite amphibian" after dinner. It took me a minute to realize what he meant. I was not going to turn it down so after dinner we went to Sweet Frogs for my favorite combination - cookies and cream froyo, brownies, chocolate sprinkles, and chocolate syrup. Yum yum! (Yes I do know how many points it is and surprisingly it is not that bad. Worth it definitely!)

So I am 33 now. I am happy, healthy, and making lifestyle changes that are making me happier and healthier each day. I have an amazing family, awesome friends, and a job that I love that fills me with pride and joy. I'd say life is good...nope, life is great!


Monday, August 6, 2012

His - Time for a Round of Disc Golf

       One of my new hobbies is playing disc golf. I played regular (ball) golf as a kid but gave it up around 10 years ago as I outgrew my clubs and the cost to play in the United States is far more than I am willing to play. Besides I used to spend a small fortune in golf balls since they always landed in foot high grass, never to be seen again.
This is an example of a basket that you are
aiming for. This is about as close as I have
gotten to a hole in one.
     I had heard about disc golf but had never played prior to this spring. My brother-in-law, Andy, took me out for a round at the local course at Clemson, SC and I enjoyed it a lot. I was not brilliant at it but it was a lot of fun and it was a lot easier to find a 10 inch bright disc in the long grass than a golf ball was. That was a definite plus! So after playing at Clemson and realizing there were several courses near our home in Virginia, I was hooked and decided to pick up a few discs at the local store to take home.

   So what is it about disc golf that appeals to me? First of all, just about anyone is able to play. For about $15 you can pick up a disc and start playing. There are different types of discs, some that curve to the left or right, putting discs, and driving discs that allow you to throw it much further. But a beginner can pick up a single mid range disc, go out to the local course, throw the disc around and play. Secondly many courses are free to play and the ones that do charge are still inexpensive (normally $2-4 per person). It's also good exercise as you have to walk, no golf carts here, and it's good friendly competition between friends and family.

So how do you play? Like golf you start at a designate tee area and aim towards the pin, which is a big metal basket. The lower number of throws the better. Each hole has a par value and if you can get into the basket within par you are doing pretty good. Although it is possible to get a hole in one, I have not been that lucky yet; however, I have come close a couple of time with the disc landing just a few feet from the basket.

Andy found his disc that went in the water after searching
for it for about 10 minutes. Sadly this was not the last
time we went into the water looking for someone's disc
that day!
     Each course is a little different. Some are in open parkland which is good for beginners and some are very wooded with lots of trees which requires a little more skill to ensure you don't hit every tree down the length of the hole. There are even some courses that have water hazards. Sadly, the discs do not float, so if it goes in, you will have to either abandon it or go in and try and find it on the bottom of the lake, river etc. 

     Back in May, my brother-in-law Andy, my father in law and I went to a local course to play. We learned that it is almost impossible to find a jet black disc in the heavy brush and that it is even harder to find them in the water (so buy a bright orange or yellow disc). A total of 3 discs went into the water and lucky for us, we were able to locate and retrieve them all. If we go back to this course I think we will take river shoes so its easier to go in after the discs. That or teach those two how to keep their discs out of the water.

   I don't play every week but every so often I will head out and play a round and have fun, even when I play poorly. It really is a lot of fun and worth giving it a try, so why not plan a day out at the local disc golf course? If you need help finding one give this website a try

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Her "Stop By and Say 'HI'!", 8/4/2012

Melinda is back with another "Stop By and Say HI!" moment. I am really starting to look forward to these each week. :)

This week's question is: what sports do you enjoy outside of the Olympics?

I watch more sports during the Olympics than I do in the years in between - combined! I really enjoy the country pride and hearing all the human interest stories about athletes from all the countries who have conquered amazing challenges to make it to the Olympics.

Apart from the Olympics, I am a big baseball fan - though I prefer to go to a game than watch one on TV. The games on TV are missing that basic excitement level that you get when you are at a stadium with a crowd cheering on your favorite team. I also like hockey but again, I much prefer to go to an arena and watch the game. It seems much easier to follow the puck in person than on TV. 

So those are my favorite sports. What about you?


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