Sunday, March 3, 2013

Out of My Mind

Eleven year old Melody has cerebral palsy. She can't walk, talk, feed herself, chase her dog, play with her sister, talk on the phone with a friend, or do anything else most of us take for granted. Despite all of her limitations, Melody is brilliant. She has a photographic memory and is by far the most intelligent student in her school but no one knows it. My class is currently reading this as a read aloud and we are loving it! Melody is a character like none other: she makes us laugh, she makes us think, and most importantly she makes us feel incredibly grateful for being blessed with bodies that allow us to move and share our thoughts and desires.

Recipe to Read By: Vanilla Milkshake
One of the most memorable scenes in Out of My Mind was when Melody had a hankering for a vanilla shake from McDonald's but was unable to describe to her dad what she wanted.
Here is an easy vanilla shake recipe that you don't even have to leave home for!

4 cups of good quality vanilla ice cream
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
8 tablespoons of sugar
2 cups of milk (add less for a thicker shake)

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
*For extra pizazz, add a handful of Oreo cookies, a glob of peanut butter, or a smattering of your favorite candy bar chopped up.

Pour into an icy cold class, top with whipped cream and a cherry, and add a bendy straw. Enjoy!

*Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

All About Roald

It's no secret that my favorite author is Roald Dahl. I adore his clever characters, his dry sarcasm, and his uncanny ability to write stories that appeal to both children and adults on multiple levels. When I spotted Who Was Roald Dahl?at our Scholastic Book Fair, I knew I had to have it for my classroom library. Although I proclaim myself as somewhat of a Dahl expert, I was amazed to find discover some facts that I was previously unaware of!

Here's my favorite Dahl Dirt:
  • Roald was sent to boarding school when he was nine. He wanted to go home so badly that he faked having appendicitis!
  • Roald went to school in the town where Cadbury chocolates were made. He and his friends got to taste test the chocolates! That is where his idea for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came about.
  • When he was 21, he had most of his teeth pulled out and replaced with false ones because he thought that real teeth were too much trouble.
  • He was a pilot in the British Royal Air Force. On a mission to North Africa, he crashed his plane and had to spend five months in a hospital in Egypt!
  • He could speak fluent Swahili and Norwegian.
  • He played poker with Harry Truman, boxed with Ernest Hemingway, and hung out with Ian Fleming (the author of the James Bond books).
  • One of Roald's most famous stories for adults was called Lambs to Slaughter. In it, a woman kills her husband by hitting him with a frozen leg of lamb. Then she serves the lamb to the policemen who are looking for the murder weapon. Talk about creepy!
  • Dahl loved dogs! He had a black lab named Jelly that he claimed wrote his stories for him. He also had a Jack Russell Terrier named Chopper that he fed oysters, caviar, and candy.
  • Roald did not want Gene Wilder to play Willy Wonka in the first movie adaptation.
  • On his writing desk, he kept a piece of his own hip that had been removed during surgery. Eww!
  • Quentin Blake (Roald's illustrator) drew the giant in the BFG to look just like Roald.
Recipe to Read By: Chocolate Truffles
Since Roald was a lover of all things chocolate (his family even buried him with chocolates!) it is only appropriate to include a recipe for something even Willy Wonka would approve of.

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
3 cups of powdered sugar
12 squares of BAKER's semi-sweet chocolate, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

Suggested coatings:
powdered sugar
cocoa powder
chopped peanuts
mini chocolate chips
crushed pretzels

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar, mixing until well blended.
Add melted chocolate and vanilla; mix well.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until chilled.
Shape into 1-inch balls.
Roll in suggested coating or pop into your mouth plain!

*Make sure you store these in the refrigerator or they will melt into chocolate goo before you can say Oompa Loompa.

Recipe courtesy of KRAFT.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cosmically Comical

      "Mom? Dad? Um, you know how I said we were going to the Lake District for a field trip?
Well...we are actually hurtling through space a zillion miles away from Earth. Please don't be  mad."                                                                                              
       12-year-old Liam Digby is extremely tall for his age. He spends the majority of his middle school years being mistaken as an adult and soon realizes that being tall has its perks. He can ride roller coasters when the rest of his class cannot. He can pose as a teacher and drink coffee in the teachers' lounge. He can even test drive a Porsche! Well, he can almost test drive a Porsche. He and his friend Florida, a celebrity-obsessed fashion junkie (love her!),  break away from their weekly drama class and peruse the shopping mall posing as a father-daughter duo. Liam, a World of Warcraft addict, believes that he is gaining "skills" to prepare him for the next Level. The action really starts heating up when Liam enters a contest to visit the World's Most Awesome Theme Park. The only catch is that the contest is for dads and kids. Guess who enters it as a father and daughter pair and wins? You betcha: Liam and Florida. What ensues is a Dahl-like competition that tests the bravery, intelligence, and most of all "dadliness" of our hilarious main character.
As Liam would say, it is "absolutely cosmic!"

Recipe to Read By: Out of This World Moon Pies
Moon pies traditionally combine marshmallows, cookies, and chocolate, but you can always add a smear of peanut butter or Nutella for a cosmic flavor combination.


1 box Devil's food cake mix
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray two cookie sheets.
2. To Make Chocolate Cookies: Mix together cake mix and baking powder. Stir in eggs and oil.
3. Drop the dough onto cookie sheet by rounded tablespoonfuls. Leave at least 3 inches in between each one; dough will spread as it bakes.

4. Bake in preheated oven for about 11 minutes. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before filling.

5. To Make Cosmic Marshmallow Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, blend together 1/2 cup butter or margarine, confectioners' sugar, flavored extract, and Marshmallow Fluff. Mix until smooth. Stick your finger in and bask in the glory that is Marshmallow Fluff Filling.

Assemble pies by spreading 1 to 2 tablespoonfuls of filling on flat side of a cookie crust, then covering filling with flat side of another cookie crust.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Turtle in Paradise

The year is 1935. Our country is in the middle of the Great Depression. This means that many people were out of work and did not have much money. Turtle's mom gets a job as a housekeeper to an uptight women who doesn't allow children in her home. As a result, Turtle gets sent to live with her Aunt Minnie and menagerie of cousins in Key West, Florida. When she arrives she discovers things are wildly different than she has expected. Besides the fact that nobody wears shoes, she unearths a supposedly dead grandmother and uncovers a long buried pirate treasure. Throw in some hilarious scenes, memorable characters, and a serious adventure and you've got the makings of one terrific novel.

Here are the top three things I absolutely LOVE about this book:
1.) The Character Names.
     Beans, Kermit, Pork Chop, Slow Poke, and Too Bad, to name a few.
2.)  The Diaper Gang
Turtle's entrepreneur cousins belong to the very exclusive Diaper Gang. Yes, they change diapers and swaddle fussy babies in exchange for candy. Hey, times were tough. Candy was a hot commodity.
3.) The History.
You learn a heap about what life was like in Key West in 1935. I was intrigued by all of the references to Little Orphan Annie and Terry and the Pirates. Turtle even meets Key West's most famous writer (Ernest Hemingway, perhaps?) and advises him to write for the funny pages.
4.) Alligator Pears.
You'll have to read to find out what they are!

Little Orphan Annie

Terry and the Pirates

Recipe to Read By:
A True Key West Cut Up
Key West Cut

Here's a picture of the Key West Cut-Up we made in my class. A little sour, a little sweet, a LOT delicious!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Kneebone Boy

Meet the Hardscrabble children.
Otto: lover of all things odd and curious, wears a mysterious scarf around his neck, and speaks entirely with his hands. 
Lucia: adventure enthusiast, self-proclaimed leader, fearful of heights.
Max: a clever boy who can often be found thinking "deeply and importantly"

According to Lucia, nothing exciting ever happens in the small town of Little Tunks. That is until they find themselves in London running from a deranged tattooed man, riding a hearse into the forest with a taxidermist, staying in a real castle folly (complete with tiny carousel and secret passageway!), adopting a five-legged cat, and searching for a mysterious boy with a dark past. Sounds pretty intense, huh? Did I mention that their mother, who cryptically disappeared years ago, may be their Great Aunt Haddie? 

If you enjoy books about dark family secrets, forbidding castles, and all things strange and mystical I recommend unearthing a copy of this deeply entertaining tale before the secret is out. 

Recipe to Read By: Chocolate Fluffernutter No Bake Bars
The British Hardscrabbles are appalled at the "disgusting mess" of American foods Great Aunt Haddie serves them, marshmallow fluff being one of them. 

Even self-proclaimed Fluff Snobs such as Lucia, Otto, and Max will enjoy these sticky, chocolatey, peanut-buttery treats. Who wouldn't?

1 jar of marshmallow fluff 
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup chopped roasted peanuts (or M&Ms)
3 cups Cheerios cereal
1 12 oz. package of chocolate chips

Grease a 9x9 inch baking pan and set aside.
While you're at it, set a big spoonful of fluff aside to enjoy later when no one is watching.
Place marshmallow fluff and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Stir and microwave on high one minute more.
Stir in peanut butter and microwave on high one minute more. At this point everything should be an incredible looking gooey mess.
Combine Cheerios, peanuts, and half of chocolate chips in a large bowl.
Dump in peanut butter-fluff mixture and mix so that all the pieces are coated with the sticky goodness.
Flop everything into the prepared bowl.
Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap and press firmly into pan.
Melt remaining chocolate chips and spread on top of bars. 
Wait for bars to cool. Or don't. Why not live dangerously once in a while?

For more recipes using fluff, click HERE.