Tag Archives: teaching

Thumbs and Such

Helloooo!  Happy Monday!  I hope you have had a marvelous start to your week! 🙂

I spent today doing some reading and research for work. This summer I am working with a small team of teachers to develop lessons and resources for other teachers within the county to help them implement a writing workshop with their students.


Writing Workshop just so happens to be one of my favorite things to teach and it is one of the main reasons why I started this blog.

For fuel this morning, I had a rather unusual, though tasty, breakfast.

Kashi Vanilla Harvest Cereal with Bananas, Almond Milk and Peanut Butter


It’s probably rather unorthodox to put peanut butter in your cold cereal, but I couldn’t resist.  As a sweet snack I sometimes dip these wheat squares in peanut butter, and I thought, hey, why not add some to my cereal bowl! 

I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up!

After doing a couple hours of work, I decided to take a girly movie break.  My wonderful husband put a few chick flicks at the top of our Netflix queue for me to watch this week while I was home. 

Today I watched 500 Days of Summer.

500-days-of-summer-01.jpg image by huisin05

They are not lying when they say that this is not a love story.  It was actually a pretty depressing story and I give it just one thumb up…  or maybe half a thumb???

Larry and I are off to lift legs at the gym.  I will more than likely not be able to walk tomorrow.  Lifting legs with Larry can get pretty intense. 

If you are a teacher, and you have any ideas, lesson suggestions, or resources for writing workshops, please send them to JenSanders52 at comcast dot net. 

Have a fantastic evening!!! 


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!



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Books and BBQ

Oh, boy!  Am I tired! 

Last night I went to my first ever book club.  Yes, I am a certified reading specialist and have  never been book club member.  It’s a shame, I know.

I must say it was the most fun I have had in a while.  I met some really awesome ladies, ate some incredible food, and had wonderful and somewhat unexpected conversations. ;) 

We discussed The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

The Help[Source]

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I love reading southern books with strong female heroines.  If you have not read this, I highly recommend adding it to your summer to read list.

Because this story takes place in the south, the girls decided to do a southern themed dinner.  There are a few vegetarians in the group, so I decided to make a dish I saw several months ago on Peas and Thank You for BBQ tofu.


I really didn’t know how this dish was going to go, and I know it’s a bad idea to try out a new recipe for strangers, but I just couldn’t resist.  I chopped a red pepper, half a Vidalia onion, and two blocks of extra firm tofu.  I pulled out the slow cooker and combined all of the ingredients with half a bottle of Annie’s All Natural Organic BBQ sauce.  I then set the cooker to low and went to work.

Annie's Original BBQ Sauce - Organic package photo[Source]

I couldn’t wait to get home from work yesterday to see how the BBQ turned out.  The first thing I did when I walked in the door was tear off the lid, grab a spoon, and taste a little bite sized piece of tofu.  The first bite was a little bland, so I added more BBQ sauce and a little sea salt.  I also drained some of the fluid that had collected in the bottom of the slow cooker.  I think the key to this recipe is to press all of the water out of the tofu before cooking it. 

It didn’t turn out too, too bad, but I may make some adjustments next time.  I’ll definitely press the tofu longer, and I’m thinking I’ll probably use Trader Joe’s BBQ sauce instead.  I just enjoy the taste of TJ’s a lot more than Annie’s.

I got home pretty late and fell asleep quickly.  However, around 3:30 AM I woke up and could not go back to sleep.  It was the worst!  My mind just wouldn’t shut down!!!

Tomorrow is the last day of school, so my to-do list is pretty long.  My best friend is also getting married Saturday.  The rehearsal dinner is tomorrow night out in the mountains, so I have a LOT to get done by tomorrow afternoon. 

Hopefully tonight my exhaustion will overpower my overactive brain, and I’ll get a full night’s sleep.  I’m even hoping to fall asleep extra early, so I can get up and do a quick run before the day begins.

I hope you are all having a fantastic week!  Happy almost Friday!!!


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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A Little Low Down on Queen MIA

So, I’ve MIA for a while.  Here’s a little update.

Aleksandr graduated from high school.

Go Class of 2010!


He ate KFC Double Down, which completely enthralled me. 


And we had a rained out graduation party for him.

DSC03176 DSC03177

There’s nothing like dancing in the rain. 😉

I made roasted red pepper hummus,


which I turned it into a vegan pizza using leftover greens

Simply scrumptious!


And I had a Martin’s Salad for a quick dinner last night.


My students made a beautiful quilt for me that brought me to tears,


and I found out a few of my students’ parents are HH, HM readers!  Amazing!

All in all it’s been a very busy, but beautiful couple of weeks!

I will be back tomorrow with more details, plus how I handled my first 5:30 AM run!  😉


Little Miss MIA 😉

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Weather, Work and Politics

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody!

The weather looks a whole lot better than what they were calling for today. 


I’m starting to think that being a meteorologist is the way to go.  You get paid to guess at the weather, and you don’t even have to be right! ;)  Thursday they were calling for it to be 73 degrees with scattered showers.  Last night they were saying it would be cloudy and raining on and off all day.  Now:



Hopefully it will stay this way and Larry and I can go to our new pool for the first time!  ;)  We went running by it the other day and watched the swim team practice.  I can’t wait!

I want to take a minute to explain why I haven’t been posting every day the past few weeks.  At first I wanted to apologize, but then I realized that a simple explanation might do

I love to write this blog.  It has brought me so much happiness.  I have a more positive outlook in life and feel less stressed (most of the time!).  It  has been therapeutic for me.

This being said, there are some days, after a long day of work and daily to-dos, that posting would just be stretching myself too thin. On those days, I have to make a choice.  Some of those days I choose to write, and I feel myself relax, and I’m happy I did it.  However, on others, I choose to relax with Larry and take a day off.  That feels pretty good, too!

This week was SOL testing week, and work was pretty crazy.  Have you ever tried to keep a class of 22 eight  year olds silent for 3 hours, five days a week???  Talk about exhausting! 

Thank goodness testing is over now, and we can go back to a somewhat normal routine.  My goal is to get the kids outside as much as possible.  We are going to do a lot of Project Learning Tree lessons.  These kids need to be outside in nature, moving and being active.  Not stuck in a classroom, being silent, and filling in tiny little bubbles for hours on end.  I could go on and on about the demise of public education in America, but I won’t bore you with politics today 😉

Today I plan on going for a 5 mile run, followed by a thorough house cleaning, Target trip, and possibly a little Memorial Day sale perusing at the mall.  When Larry gets home we are going to the pool and then out to get some sushi :) 

Anyone know of any great sales happening this weekend? 

Happy Saturday!  Drink Responsibly and Wear Sunscreen!!! 


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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Waning Wednesdays

Hello!  Happy Hump Day!  How is your week going???

Lately I have found myself really dragging right after lunch.  My energy levels plummet and it takes so much will power to stay motivated.

It’s the worst. 

My students get insanely goofy and hyper after lunch. 

All I want to do is take a nap.


I try hard to pack lunches that contain complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein, but even still, I find myself exhausted

Around lunch time I start to realize that even though I have been going strong for five straight hours, I still have another full day ahead of me.  I still have to finish teaching, plan lessons, run errands, clean my house, do laundry, cook dinner, workout, and relax.  Too much to do in only a few hours.  Just thinking about it makes me tired. 

Today, on my way to work at 7 AM, I decided to turn the radio off, and really think about what I needed to do to stay motivated once the kids left, so that I could try to be more productive outside of the classroom. 

I decided that if I truly want to get things done in the evenings, I need to leave work earlier.  I often stay long after the kids have left for meetings, to grade papers, plan lessons, and get organized.  However, no matter how long I stay in the evenings, the work never fades.  The next day there are still papers to grade, parents to e-mail, and meetings to attend.

Today I left at 3:30 and it was a wonderful decision.

When I got home I swept and mopped and dusted.  I also started my laundry…  I know, hard to believe, right?!?!?!?

Then I did this AWESOME workout from Shape Magazine.

Celebrity Workouts [Source]

It was the perfect combination of cardio and strength training.  I used a kettle bell, a band tied on the ends, and different sized dumbbells.  For the cardio, I did jumping jacks, kickboxing, ran up and down the stairs, and danced my little heart out.  After about an hour, I was a sweaty mess!

There were no groceries to be found in the kitchen, so Larry and I went out for fast food.


No, we didn’t go through the drive-thru at Mickey D’s.  We went to Martin’s and got salads from the salad bar.  It was fast, and it was food, but fattening fast food it was not

I’m definitely going to try and leave work earlier more often.  I need to find ways to be more productive during the day, so I can leave without feeling guilt.  The work will be there tomorrow.  I must learn to value my personal life as much as my professional life.

How do you balance work and life outside of the office/classroom/workplace??? 


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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Peaceful Planting

We have survived yet another Monday!  Woot woot! 

As usual, this  Monday was h-e-c-t-i-c.  The kiddies were all wound up from their weekend trips to Kings Dominion, Washington, DC, the beach and elsewhere.  They were tired from playing all weekend, and I was tired, too. 

I spent this weekend hanging out with my mom and dad.  Saturday we planted her flower garden, and yesterday we (as in my mom and I) went for manicures and pedicures.  Papa Bush is not down with pretty pampering 😉


After a long and hectic Monday, I decided to plant the flowers I bought while out this weekend with the madre.  I found the whole planting process to be rather peaceful and relaxing.  I enjoyed myself and felt less stressed after an hour of gardening. 


I was not surprised to find this claim in an article about the health benefits of gardening. 

“The benefits of gardening are not all in the body; they’re also in the mind. Tending your garden is a real stress buster, helping relieve feelings of anxiety and providing a break from the general rush of life. Because the work involved is mainly physical, gardeners have a chance to think about their concerns, meditate, or just spend a few hours daydreaming. They can also feel a sense of accomplishment in a job well done.” [Source]

I also had a lot of fun unwinding while I took these pictures with my very tiny, very unprofessional Sony Cyber-Shot :








Not too shabby for a gardening newbie, huh?  Now to see how long they live 😉

Here’s a very interesting article about Gardening Your Way to Peace

And another from CBS Money Watch on the Grace of Gardening.  This one is especially beautifully written.

I’m feeling pretty Zen right now, so I think I’ll forego the heart pumping, bone pounding adrenaline rush of a run and do some yoga instead.

Namaste 🙂


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!


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100th Post!!!!

At this very moment, you are reading Happy Heart, Happy Mind’s 100th post!  Can you believe it?  It seems like only yesterday I was contemplating sharing my words with the public.  I had no idea how to blog, or exactly what a blog was.  I didn’t know what I’d write about, or if people would even want to read anything I had to say.

youre_reading_the_100th_post_life[1] [Source]

The past five months has been a wonderful journey.  I have learned so much, and have gained a sense of happiness and well being that far exceeds any of my initial expectations.

I woke up this morning wondering what I should write about today.  A 100th post is monumental, right? 

Well, I’ve never worked well under that kind of pressure, so I decided to simply reflect on the ways that writing 100 posts of Happy Heart, Happy Mind has  impacted my life.

Writing every day has helped me to become a better teacher of writing.

One of the major reasons I began this blog was to become a better model for my students.  I make them write every day, and I do not allow them to say, “I don’t have anything to write about.”

We all have something to say.  Even I do. 

By writing every day, I have been able to share the strategies, triumphs and struggles of my own authorship.  I think more like a writer and I am able to share this with them.

I also think they are a bit impressed that their teacher actually writes something other than homework assignments and report card comments! 😉

I have become a major goal setter.

Writing every day about eating healthy, exercising, and keeping a happy mind has required me to constantly think about the next step.  I don’t want to write about the same thing every day, just like you don’t want to read about the same thing every day.

Since beginning this blog I have set goals for getting more sleep, running farther distances, saving money, lifting weights, staying positive, and being more creative  to name just a few.

It’s like my very own self-improvement project 🙂

I’ve helped a few people along the way.

Although I started this blog for somewhat personal reasons, I’ve found that my experiences have actually helped others to make healthier choices.  I’ll never forget the first time a co-worker told me that she had lost weight because the blog inspired her to eat “cleaner” and to get more exercise.  What an amazing feeling!

I’m a bit calmer.

I have been known by some to be quite the spaz.  I tend to get nervous and anxious when stress gets to be too much.  However, I’ve noticed that taking the time to focus on writing about my day, my thoughts, my feelings, and my experiences causes me to spaz out just a little less.  ;

I don’t worry as much.  I fall asleep faster at night, and I have less negative internal chatter

I take more pictures.

Before beginning HH, HM, I always forgot my camera.  The framed pictures in my house almost never changed, because I simply did not have any pictures to replace them with. 

My favorite blogs have beautiful pictures and are so eye catching.  The flow of pictures and words makes them easy and enjoyable to read.  I knew that I wanted to emulate this style of blogging. 

Now I take my camera everywhere in hopes of catching a just right shot for my next post. 




Who knows?  Maybe I’ll get around to changing out a few framed photos soon 😉

I could probably go on and on forever about what a wonderful and fulfilling experience this has been, but in truth, it is knowing I have readers that makes this all worth while.  So, thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts, ideas, and anecdotes. 

Here’s to the next 100 posts!  🙂


Do you have any requests for future posts?  I would LOVE to do a reader’s request post.  Please send me your questions and ideas by leaving a comment below or emailing me at JenSanders52 at comcast dot net! 


magnolia Remember, Be Happy, Be Healthy, Be You!!!

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