White Trash Tuna Noodle Cassarole

This post is not meant to be offensive, but rather, humorous. My mom used to make this for me as a kid and lovingly called it the same thing. All jokes aside, this is one of my guilty pleasures. I LOVE this meal for dinner after a long day at work. It's quick, it's easy, and it's delicious. What more could you possibly want?

The Basics

You'll also need the ingredients used for the macaroni, according to the box.

Seriously, the easiest dinner ever. Talk about a one pot meal!

The Plan

Start process according to package directions. After the water starts to boil, add the macaroni AND the frozen broccoli. Once the macaroni is cooked, again, according to package directions, complete the box's instructions. After you add and mix the cheesy goodness to the pot, add your canned tuna (completely drained) directly to the pot. "Chop" up the tuna, using your wooden spoon or whatever you're using to mix it, to disperse it evenly. Make sure everything in the pot is mixed thoroughly and serve warm.

I usually eat this as the main dish, sometimes with an additional side of veggies. You could omit the tuna (but why would you?) and serve this along side another dish, such as meatloaf or hot dogs. You can also use other veggies instead of frozen broccoli like peas, or edamame. Depending on the veggies, you may need to cook them beforehand, to ensure they are cooked through. I've found, with most frozen veggies, 7-10 minutes in boiling water with the macaroni is more than enough time to cook.

What's so great about this meal is that I almost always have all the ingredients on hand. So when I run out of dinner options, am too lazy too cook anything elaborate, or need something unfussy, this is my go-to. If you try this recipe, I'd love to know your thoughts!

What are you last minute dinner recipes? Any "white trash" favorites of your own? Share below!


Rist Roller: The Little Foam Roller with a BIG Impact

When Jessika from RistRoller reached out to me, I hadn't yet heard of them. I'm a HUGE fan of foam rollers of any kind, though, so I was super excited to learn more about their company and product.

According to their website, this mini foam roller is designed for targeted in the muscles in your forearm. This is a genius idea, especially for people who type on the computer all day. Aside from your wrist, you can utilize this little tool for other difficult areas of the body. Keep reading for a list of ways I like to use the RistRoller.

Once I received the little package (I'm talking like 6-inches-by-6-inches-little), I ripped open the packaging to find three perfectly packed mini foam rollers.

And look at these cute little bracelets!

Obviously, I tried the roller on my wrist, which helped relieve some tension, particularly on my dominant arm.

The RistRollers I received are very compact and firm. There are different degrees of firmness available as well as different diameters (all still mini). 

The pups were very intrigued when I was laying on the floor, allowing the RistRoller to work through my calf muscles. So much so that Addy wanted to join in the fun!

To give you an idea of the size, I stood a RistRoller with my other foam rollers. Each one of my foam rollers (RistRoller included) is used for a specific ailment or purpose. So cool :)

How Can You Use the RistRoller?

Some body parts I've used the RistRoller:
  • Wrists (duh)
  • Palms
  • Forearms
  • Elbows and Upper Arms (particularly after a bicep/tricep workout)
  • Neck
  • Shoulder
  • Calves
  • Feet (feels great!)
You could use the RistRoller pretty much anywhere that you are experiencing some muscle tightness. While it's size is small, it packs a powerful punch!

I found the RistRoller to be the firmness I generally need. Additionally, its size allows you to work through muscles you wouldn't otherwise be able to roll. If you are interested in checking out this great tool, check out the RistRoller Shop! I recommend this product to add to your health and fitness toolbox!

And now, how about a GIVEAWAY! RistRoller was kind enough to offer a black Rist Rollers to 3 lucky winners! Enter below using the Rafflecopter and I will announce the winner next Wednesday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post was sponsored by RistRoller, however all opinions are my own.


Lunchtime Inspiration: How to Wrap a Wrap

I love me a good wrap. From the soft, pillowy bread to the delicious contents within, a wrap just makes my lunch. I don't, however, love when my wrap falls apart; read: when I make it. I could never understand what I was doing wrong. Why were mine just unwrapping, cracking apart, or the contents slipping out of the ends? I decided to test out a few different ways to wrap a wrap, and found the best way to keep the mess off your plate, and save it for your tummy.

1. Start by laying out your wrap. I heated mine up for about 10 seconds in the microwave to prevent breakage. Note: The next day at lunch I did not microwave the wrap first. It did, in fact, crack when I "wrapped" it. However, despite this, my wrap still remained entact 

2. Layer your veggies in the center of the wrap. This seems counterintuitive to me, as I'm wrapping from the edges, but trust me. If you are using a traditional wrap (in a traditional wrap size) you will have more than enough room on both sides of the wrap to reach each other.

3. Layer your protein. I made a tuna wrap for this demonstration so, after layering the veggies, I placed a dollop of tuna in the center of the veggies, and spread it out. Depending on how tightly you wrap your wrap, you may consider leaving more space than I did at the edge, to reduce spillage, but I haven't found this to be an issue.

4. Begin to "wrap". Start at one edge and fold over your contents. Using your wrapping hand, tuck the edge of the wrap with your fingers, under the contents. (See second photo below)

5. Complete wrap. Continue rolling the bread until the other edge rests on the middle of the wrap. Place the exposed edge face down to encourage it to stay in place. (Wraps like gentle encouragement)

6. Enjoy! With everything layered on each other in the center of the wrap, you get all of your contents together in one bite! No more eating a bite of plain lettuce, followed by a bite of straight chicken salad (or worse, mayo). 
Notice how clean the plate is. No spillage!

Hope this quick little How-To was helpful! I'd love to know what you pack for your lunches? Any other lunch tips for busy professionals? Comment below!


Celebrating Our Pups with Pooch-a-Palooza!

Our Labor Day weekend was filled with lots of dog-centered fun. On Saturday, my MIL and I went to the annual Pooch-A-Palooza with her new pup, Maggie, and my favorite companion, Lucy. Pooch-A-Palooza is a festival dedicated to celebrating all breeds of dogs while promoting healthy, happy relationships (I'm paraphrasing from their mission statement). 

The entire festival is centered around the health and wellbeing of our favorite fluffs, so I wasn't surprised to find tents devoted to "doggy massages", a "Pooch Spa", and a plethora of grain-free/organic/holistic treats. 

There were other vendors there hoping to reach new clientele for their non-dog related products, but they came prepared with water bowls and free samples as well. Most of the tents offered freebies for humans and dogs (mostly dogs) such as samples of dog foods, bandanas, and toys. Saturday was quite warm but Pooch-A-Palooza had us covered, with large tents for sitting and relaxing (and eating if you tried any of the delicious food trucks that were there), doggy pools, smoothie stands (for humans), a "misting station" (see below), and lots and LOTS of water bowls. There were also adoption stands set up, and volunteers were walking around with adoptable dogs, designated with an "Adopt Me!" vest.

My MIL and I went last year and we had a blast and this year was no different. I love seeing all of the loving families celebrating their love for their dog and will continue to go each year it is offered! Check out more pictures of this great event below.

Looks like the day was a success!

Do you have a fun way to celebrate your dog? Have you ever been to an event like this before? Comment below!


#TBT: Proud Teacher Moment

Today's throwback post is a shoutout to one of my proudest teacher moments (and not just because it has to do with cats, my fave). Check it out below and let me know your favorite teacher moment!
Original Post: July 16, 2013

Being out of the teaching scene has really kept me out of the loop. Each time I sign into blogger and read my fellow bloggies posts, I can't help but feel almost left out. Not your fault by any means...but as an unemployed educator who is trying to find her niche in the world, it's near depressing. I find myself instead, finding activities to help me improve as a person, and find out who I really am.

This summer, after the hustle and bustle of the wedding and the serene relaxation of the honeymoon, I decided to take the rest of my 2 months off to really focus on me. (As if my wedding and my honeymoon weren't already about me...). Even on my honeymoon I started this journey. I began writing again.

Writing as always been a passion of mine, since I was old enough to spell. I loved writing memoirs and essays when I was a child (though I didn't know what they were called then...all writings are called "stories" when you are 7), and I always had a passion for the truth. I even used to imagine living my life as an author. I wrote nearly everyday - preferring it to listening to or reading stories. I continued writing into my young adulthood and into college. I found a passion for poetry, both reading and writing. When I became a teacher, my passion for writing extended beyond myself and into the lives of my students. Reading, writing, and analyzing literature became "my thing". My students would soon poke fun at my love for all things lit: my infinite number of literary quotes I would spout off, my humongous library of children's literature, my children's adaptations of the classics. Even though I taught special education, my literary jokes and vocabulary lessons were not lost on my students. That's what true passion does: it allows all students, regardless of their abilities to access it. My passion was accessible for everyone around me.

One of the proudest moment in my teaching career to date was when a student of mine, a self-proclaimed hater of all things written, began reading the Bad Kitty series on his own after hearing a Bad Kitty read aloud in our class. He became so enthralled with the story, the characters, and Nick Bruel's captivating and kid-friendly writing style. I chose to read Bad Kitty for President as a read aloud during elections time, because, though it was not (obviously) entirely accurate without electoral system in the United States, it was an engaging and humorous way to introduce politics to young children. Further, Bruel provides rich, meaty vocabulary in his works, which provides me as an educator with wonderful mini-lessons and opportunities for literature practice. Additionally, his style of writing, and the format of his works is, up until just a few years ago, unparalleled to any other authors today (however, a movement for this engaging style is taking off, and I promise you will see more and more of this enchanting children's literature in the future). Around the same time, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series was also published. This series, while similar book format to Nick Bruel's series (very engaging, delightfully humorous illustrations, interactive, kind-friendly, intriguing point-of-view, the list goes on...), was not the appropriate age for my kiddos. This series is better suited for middle school-aged students. The situations in the series were too advanced and unfamiliar to my students (thankfully).

Due to my wonderful collection of books (most of them donated when I became head teacher years ago), I continued my search for the perfect read aloud. That was when I found my bin of Bad Kitty books. While I myself had never read the series, I was familiar with the format and the high-interest level of the series. I decided to give it a try. After reading a few of the books myself, I decided that I had to introduce the series to my students. I just knew that they would love them! As a cat-lover myself, I had accidentally trained my kiddos to adore the feline as well. As a sort of calling card, I add pictures of cats to everything. I created a cat-centric collage to the back of my classroom door, printed pictures of my own cats and taped them to the back of the computers in the class, and drew pictures of cats on my students' point sheets at the end of the day. Due to my own passion, I inadvertently shaped my students into cat-lover's themselves! (see what I mean about passion...). So, I just knew Bad Kitty would be the perfect read aloud for an introduction to chapter books.

After reading Bad Kitty for President, my students were hooked, but little did I know my little guy "N" would be so intrigued by the book. It was a life-changer, literally! He began checking out the series, one book at a time from our classroom library. I would find him, during free time (!), reading each book to himself, giggling and muttering about how ridiculous Kitty was. It didn't matter to me that he wasn't pronouncing each name correctly, nor that he was omitting some unimportant transition words. He was reading. And he was enjoying it. He had found the magical door to the world of literature, just a little bit ajar, and he paraded right on through.

To this day, by little buddy "N" continues to read for pleasure. Yes, mostly these are those graphic-esque-type novels, or books about cats, but I don't care. As he continues on his self-paved literary journey, he will find his love of literature, as I did.

I too, am continuing on my self-paved journey. This summer is about finding what I am missing in my life. I know I will be an educator for my entire life. I just need to find an environment as passionate and supportive as I feel.

As I continue on my own journey, I ask you - where are you headed? 

Comment below about your favorite teacher moment! I'd love to hear about your successes in the classroom!


#TBT: Teachers Love Technology

Happy Throwback Thursday! Today's throwback is from March 25, 2013, and is all about using technology in the classroom! As with anything "tech-related" this post can seem a little dated - which is why I chose it!

How much have we changed in the techy classroom department? Check out the post and comment below to let me know your thoughts!


Happy Monday!

I hope your weekend and first day back at work went well today (unless of course you are on Spring Break, in which case, I hope your first day of break went well...but I'm sure it did!). I'm counting the days until our half day on Friday as it gives me something to look forward to! We were supposed to have Friday off, but since our school district has had so many snow days this season, the district decided to attend school this Friday, instead of our new projected last day on Monday June 24. Oh well... at least it's a half day?

Think back to your days in the classroom. Do you visualize computers, laptops, tablets, and/or interactive SmartBoards? Of course not! Not that long ago, the terms "school" and "classroom" conjured up images of chalk boards (maaaaaybe a white board if you were lucky), dusty textbooks, and hand-cranked wall pencil sharpeners. But now, the integration of technology is seamless and adequate for our ever-changing technological society. It is now easier than ever to incorporate all types of technology into the classroom, with increased options and feasibility. As you will find out below, tech-teaching is the way of the future, and you will understand, if you don't already, why teachers love it!

I was recently contacted by a woman named Allison, via email, to view an Infographic she helped create on technology and its role in teaching. I was immediately drawn to the sincere and personal email I received from Allison. She mentioned a specific blog post I had written regarding my future goals of incorporating technology in the classoom, and seemed genuinely interested in my feedback on the graphic. After close review of the Infographic, I would love to share it with you!

What do we Know Infographic

I was surprised by the statistic of the number of classrooms with Smartboards, or similar interactive whiteboards. I am unfortunately in the 4 of 10 without this resource in my room. That is my number one resource on my wish list for the upcoming school year - although it is really out of my hands. 60% seems so high to me, but that is great! I'm so glad to see that percentage!

I was also pleasantly surprised at the statistic of tablets in the classroom. Did I read that correctly - over 1/3 of teachers reported having a tablet or ereader in their classroom! Again, my classroom is lacking this :(

It was no surprise to me to read that many teachers find the integration of technology in the classroom to be beneficial to their teaching and students' learning. It really inspired me to push for more technological resources in my classroom, and to think more creatively to allow more access to the technology I do have in the classroom.

If you are interested in reading the full article accompanying this Infographic, you can find it here.

I would love to know your thoughts about how you incorporate technology in the classroom. Any advice for a newbie tech-teacher? Do think a lot has changed in the 2 years this was first published? Leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts!


The Busy Bee's Guide: Fitting in Exercise

You are swamped at work. You've been eating a Cracker Jack's for lunch every day this week because you haven't had time to go grocery shopping. The kids are hungry/grumpy/cold/needy in some other way. You haven't peed in 17 hours. How the hell are you going to find time to work out?!

I get it. Life is hectic. Always. You know how important your health is, but how can you justify a 30 minute run when you haven't had time to cook anything other than TV dinners. I'm here to give you a few ways to fit exercise in to your busy life, no matter how busy you are! Some of the tips help you to find the motivation to commit, while other little tips to sprinkle in throughout the day to increase overall health. Pick and choose which tips work for you, or do them all!

  1. Schedule It! Seems simple enough, but if you pencil pen it into your day, you may be more likely to commit to it, like you would a doctor's appointment or important meeting. Even better, sign up for a class ahead of time, at a certain time, so that you are even MORE motivated to go (either because it seems that much more of an appointment, or because you already paid and don't want to lose your $20).
  2. Walk It Off. Depending on your job, you may be eating lunch at your desk. Why don't you take time during your lunch break to walk, or otherwise exercise. If you have a 60 minute lunch break, taking 30 minutes to jog around the neighborhood (or even your Office Park) will help you meet your goal for daily exercise. Jogging not your thing? Maybe you get too sweaty during cardio exercises and find it difficult to head back to the office after a sweat-sesh. It doesn't have to be anything strenuous - it can be a walk or some light yoga. Anything that gets your otherwise stationary body moving is great for your overall health.
  3. Healthy Commute. Drive to work? Park your car in a spot a little further than usual. May seem small, but every step counts (literally). Maybe you have the luxury of biking or even walking to work on days where it is nice out. Do that! Do you take the subway or bus to work? Get off a stop or two (or more) before your regular stop to get some extra walking in. In the same vein, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Incorporate any and all opportunities for an increase of movement - you'll be glad you did.
  4. Get Up, Stand Up. Stand up for your health. (see what I did there?)Wake up a little bit earlier each morning to incorporate some exercise. Start slow. Maybe you wake up only 15 minutes early in the beginning. Maybe you only are able to stand doing stretches at first. That's okay. You are building a habit that will increase your exercise overall, and your tolerance to that early morning light.
  5. Play Out! Instead of looking at exercise as a "work out" look at it as a "play out." Have fun with it and incorporate the kids! Head to the park and play tag. Go for a bike ride with the family. If you aren't self-conscious, while your kiddos climb the structure, you can be doing squats near the bench, wall push-ups along the fence, or crunches on the grass. You don't have to compromise exercise when you get the whole family involved.
  6. Turn It Up with HIIT. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, are exercises that keep your heart rate up with quick bursts of exercise, followed by short active recovery, that burns more calories and fat in less time. People who are strained on time like incorporating HIIT exercises because they can still get the benefits of exercise (weight loss, increased stamina, heart health, etc.) without spending hours at the gym. Click here for more on HIIT workouts.
  7. Be a Goal Setter. Set a goal that you can stick to. Be specific and realistic. Don't set an arbitrary goal like "lose weight" or "exercise more". Choose a measurable goal such as "Exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week" or "Go to Spin class every Friday for a month." That way, you'll know exactly if you met your goal, when you met your goal. What will make this even more motivating? See #8.
  8. Take Data! As a former teacher and current behavior analyst, I love me some data. I love taking data on my client's progress with meeting their behavioral goals, but I also love to do this for my own personal goals. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as checking off days on a calendar to show which days you made it to the gym. It could be graphing your weight loss. Anything that is visual and keeps you objective and on track is so helpful in making meaningful changes. Don't forget the rewards for reaching your goals! (Just maybe not like, German Chocolate Cake...)
  9. Make a Date! One of the most helpful things for me when I'm trying to get back into an exercise routine is to make an exercise date with someone. If someone is counting on me to meet them at Zumba, you best believe I'll be there. How embarrassing will it be if I bail?! Recently, a friend and I have been texting each other in the mornings before work to motivate the other to get up early and exercise. Having a partner to help support you is unlike any other motivator for me.
  10. Do What You Love. This is the biggest tip I can give you. If you hate doing the elliptical, you probably aren't going to do it, especially if you are just starting to exercise now. To get yourself into the routine of exercising regularly, do something you can't wait to do. My favorite activity? Soccer! I am lucky to have multiple leagues in my area to join, and am currently on 3 different teams. That's three different games a week. Three days with exercise already added to it. I NEVER want to skip soccer (which can be a blessing and a curse - especially if I'm injured) so it's so easy for me to get my active minutes in when that's on the horizon. Find something you love. Maybe a class at the gym, a team sport in your area, or even yoga at home. Check your local YMCAs or fitness centers for gym classes, workshops or sport's leagues. Once you find an activity that keeps you move that you love, you'll never choose the couch again.

I hope these tips were helpful! Do you have any more tips to add to help out fellow Busy Bees? Leave your best tips below!

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