Our Trim Healthy Mama for the First Week in November


It’s the first week in November. Wow, the time has flown this year!  While I was diligently working on yesterday’s blog post, my husband was sweet and choose our dinners this week.  Many more sticky-note and tags now mark my Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook as he found a variety of recipes he wants to now try. To see our full menu with breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and shopping list, click here .

His choices for this week are:

  • Pot-Sticker or Salisbury Steak with Green Fries-page 175 (s)
  • Salmon Patties-page 177 (s)
  • Grand Green Salad with Swiss Bread -page 183-196 (S/FP)
  • Sausage balls-page 159 (s)
  • Low Carb Perfect Pizza (s)
  • Tuscan Sausage Egg Bake-page 152 (s)
  • Cheeseburger Pie-page 149 (s)

Since he only selected S (Satisfying meals) for dinner, I had to squeeze my E meals into breakfasts or lunches.  With choices like egg white burrito, overnight oatmeals and french toast, E breakfasts I’m happy with my menu.

This week I’m excited to bring back a couple of favorite recipes. From the Blog of Satisfyingeats.com, I’ll be cooking up these delicious biscuits (minus the garlic for me). Quick, easy and delicious, these Just Like Red Lobster Biscuits pair nicely with Just Like Tomato Soup from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.

Cranberry Chia Preserves is a recipe I created a couple years ago adapted from a Facebook post. This recipe is delicious, so very easy and done is less than 15 minutes!! Tart but sweet, this fall recipe can be used on top of bread, turkey or just a spoon full of yum.

  • 1 (12 oz.) bag of fresh cranberries
  • 2TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup xylitol
  • 1 TBSP Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • orange zest or 1 drop of orange essential oil, (optional)
  • a dash of crushed red pepper (optional)

Bring all ingredients to boil, simmer for 10-12 minutes. Store in mason jars. This recipe made approx. 1 1/2 pints. Refrigerate.

Feeling Creative try some of these other additions to the preserves:

  • A cup of frozen raspberries
  • A cup of frozen strawberries
  • A cup of frozen rhubarb


6 Steps to Successful Planning


Now what? You’ve generated ideas and you’re ready to write. Organization is the key, it’s time to plan! Within this post, I will explain how to successfully teach organization to ensure engagement and put the enjoyment back into writing!

Step 1: Attitude

Attitude is everything!  Create a positive environment that cultivates the love of writing. Have you told yourself that you hate to write?  Perhaps mentioned to others that you are a terrible writer or *gasp* writing is boring?!  Stop now!  Change your attitude! It’s time to get real with yourself and others.  You can write! Everyone is capable of unique and creative writing. Now, embrace the process.


Excitement is contagious, I am mindful of my energy whenever I teach a writing lesson. As positivity starts to flow, the ideas and creativity build.  Was I always like this, is this a natural gift just for positive minded people?  No, I, like many others had to cultivate and grow a confident quality.  Now, this upbeat method I have for writing is contagious.  Start by believing in yourself and your young learners. Get ready to unleash the creativity not only in your child’s mind but yours as well.  The power of positivity is infectious, and partnered with creativity is unstoppable!

Step 2: Model

Model the work you want from your students.  Get out a large tablet, a writing journal or a white board (I prefer large paper so I can revisit my work later). Get ready to practice the art of writing directly in front of your learners.  Seeing you embrace the process of writing will give them the notion that they too are ready to try.  Your work doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact the more you draft in the moment, the more kids will see how writing is a process. From cultivating ideas, organizing my thoughts, formulating sentences to editing my work, every step of the writing process is modeled in front of my kids. Seeing you write is just as important as seeing you read.  Modeling any behavior is a gift for learners as they emulate your actions.

Step 3 Primary Age

For kids age 5-7, I organize with a primary journal. In a this journal, the top is an open block for pictures while the lower half has large primary lines perfect for the beginning writer.  If you don’t have a primary journal, no problem, just draw a horizontal line on the middle of the page. Next, I have them place the acronym DTAP on the top left of their page. Starting off with DTAP (Date, Topic, Audience and Purpose) gives the writer a direction and reason for writing.


  • D: Date
  • T: Topic
  • A:Audience
  • P:Purpose

Pick a topic.  As you model, choose from the list of ideas created or, if you are feeling confident, choose the first idea that comes to mind. Now, don’t cheat, no planning ahead, do all of your modeling right in front of your learners. Choose an idea on the spot and go for it.  Talk out loud through each step as you begin to formulate your ideas.  Draw 3-5 pictures or use words on the top part of the page.  Don’t write on the bottom half yet, save this for the next lesson, when you write your story.  Talk through each illustration as you go. After drawing some quick pictures label them 1st, 2nd, 3rd. Each number will correspond for a sentence you will write. Here is an example.

That’s it, you have just demonstrated the art of expository organization for primary kids. Now, they are ready to write.  Guide them through their journal, give them praise and confidence as they begin their writing journey.

Step 4 Procedural/ Expository Writing 

Ages 7 and up will enjoy the spaghetti and meatball, stoplight or color coded plan. The name of the plan changes for different themes I write. For instance, with my travel writing, I used airplanes and suitcases to prompt and engage learners.  But, for now I will stick with spaghetti and meatballs to explain the process.  “The topic sentence at the top is the plate (green). The noodles (yellow) the reason, details or facts. Meatballs (red) are to explain or give examples of each detail.(Auman, 2003)” Typically I ask my student not to stress over the outline. In fact model quickly to get your ideas down on paper. Otherwise when too many details are added, it’s a challenge to rewrite. Get the gist or essence of the topic for your procedural writing project. Even spelling is not something I worry about at this time.  I am more concerned with gathering and sharing their ideas in this step.


To begin this model, start with DTAP on the top left corner of the page (Date, Topic, Audience and Purpose). This gives you a clear goal for writing. Now demonstrate, choosing a topic.  Again this is best done right in front of your students.  Show them how to draft their organization.  Start with your topic sentence then add at least three ideas. Follow with two-three examples under each main thought. Finish with a concluding sentence that revisits your topic.  The writing demonstration should take no longer then 5-10 mins as you talk it through. In some cases, it could take even less time once your students get the idea of planning.  Here is an example of spaghetti and meatball planning.

That’s it, folks!  Now, that your kids have seen you plan, let them explore the process.  Perhaps give them a time limit to draft a procedural plan.  For added motivation, let them choose their own topic.  Remember you are trying to encourage them to write. There is plenty of time to teach children to write on topic when they become confident. But, for now get them to love the process of writing.

Step 5 Narrative Writing

The art of storytelling is captured within this plan. Building ideas with a flow chart allows students to grasp the rhythm and pattern of a traditional story. Start by building the scene with setting and characters.  Then map out the story with a first event, followed by a problem.  Identify the second event and explain the solution.  Conclude the story by sharing a feeling or remembering a character.  Yes, this plan can be a longer and more in depth but it will help frame a narrative story.  Drafting a story is best, used with a prompt to organize their work.  Here are a couple examples available on my Etsy site.


Again, in the top left corner I place DTAP (Date, Title, Audience and Purpose) to focus your writing. Choosing a topic is again done right in front of my learners.  As I begin to plan out my story, I think out loud, demonstrating how ideas can be quickly gleaned. The entire prompt is completed before they start their own adventure.  Doing so allows them to see how I have also completed the task I am requesting from them.

Step 6 Meaningful Sentences and Transition Words

Developing a clear topic and concluding sentence is of the utmost importance. During my next writing blog I will clearly identify different styles of topic and concluding sentence.  For now, have your child identify the main point of their writing (topic sentence) and wrap it up with a concise sentence that restates the topic (concluding sentence).  Also consider placing transitional words in the plan to help their paper flow. As they start to write, this will blend the sentences together. Transitional words are traditionally different from procedural to narrative as I will cover more in the next blog.  For now, try  using these words for procedural and narrative writing:


  • First
  • Next
  • And Then
  • Finally


  • At First
  • Suddenly
  • Soon
  • A Short Time Later
  • Afterward

There are many other methods and unique elements to to add in your writing repertoire.  These are just a few ideas to get you started writing.  Once you and get your student excited and eager to write, introducing a variety of different planning methods becomes an inventive game. Stay mindful! Remember to motivate your students with positivity and excitement. Cultivate writing as fun and creative. Give one of my methods a try and see what spark of excitement you ignite in your blooming writers. Consider sharing some of your work, I would sure love to see it!

Works Sited:

*Auman, Maureen E. 2003. Step-Up to Writing. Longmont, Colorado. Sopris West.

Ready, Set…Write


7 Idea Generators

Motivating children to write and enjoy the process, over several blog posts, I will share my secrets. Put the love of writing back into the hands of young learners.

Finding a topic, how many of us struggle with this essential step in the writing process? Do you have a child that does not enjoy writing or struggles to find the right topic?  I can help. Some days ideas and creativity may flow while others we need a little nudge.  On those particular days, what can you do to help?  Take a look at these 7 idea generators.


Fish Bowl

  • Have your child dream up a few of their favorite topics.  Type or write each idea onto a slip of paper. Keep those brainstorms in a bowl or paper bag.  When you see them struggling with a topic, have them “Go Fish” for one of their favorite themes.



  • We have all experienced moments of brilliance when our creativity generates an idea.  How many times have we neglected to write that thought down? Later, when we try to recall the notion, we can’t remember!  Have them take the opportunity to write the idea in a small notebook or a page, in their writing journal, dedicated to new topics. (My oldest daughter keeps her ideas tucked within this old phone.) These ideas, however small, will spark their imagination for writing.


Theme Pull

  • Working around a theme or project?  Generate a variety of words or phrases about that topic.  Type or write down those ideas and glue to craft sticks. For added fun, place into decorative container.  Have children “draw straws” to spark a creative idea or writing prompt.

Utilize Pinterest (for older children)

  • Set up a Pinterest writing board.  Ether you or your older student can Pin items of interest or phrases that trigger their creative thinking.  Use these visuals as a way to prompt their writing and generate interest in a writing theme.  Possible ideas for writing could include: designing recipes, drafting DIY building projects, writing  clear directions, formal procedural writing and fantastical stories.

Nature Walk

  • Use their learning style to tap into their creativity. Take your children on a nature walk around the neighborhood, local park or just in your backyard. Have them research sounds, critters they see, objects they feel and explore using all their senses.  Consider listing ideas within a set time for a game like approach.  Ideas can be drawn, photographed or written in their notebook.

Scholastic Story Scrambler

  • Children will love using this scholastic webpage for fun writing prompts.   Choose adventure, fantasy, sci-fi or scramble, enter your name and age then hit enter. These age appropriate idea generators are fun, interactive and creative.


Make your own comic strip at ReadWriteThink.Org!


  • Everyone struggles with the writing process.  So, whenever teaching writing, I demonstrate how to problem solve a mini dilemma before my students write.  Depending on the issue, in this case generating ideas, I pretend to be preplexed on choosing a topic.  How do I structure this lesson?  I sit down with a blank sheet of paper and walk through the process of generating ideas.  I literally talk them through how I pull ideas into my writing by using one of the methods above.

Ready, Set… Write!


Haunted Halloween Menu


What to do when your a week away from Halloween and you need to make your Family Menu (link attached), make it goolish, of course!  Each family member got to choose two dinners this week. To make it fun, I had them write their food choice on a slip of paper with a spooky twist.  The 3 year old and I created two together while the other three delighted in designing their creative menu items. Items include:

  • Mongolian Death Worms in Basilisk Blood (Spaghetti with dream field pasta) E
  • Mommy Dogs S
  • Slimy Pickles with Squiggly Mac Salad S
  • Devilish Delight (Chili and Bean Soup) E
  • Monster Eye Low Carb Pizza c/o
  • Pumpkin Taco Tarts S
  • Haunted Halloween Tea with Eye balls (deviled eggs) and Grizzly Gorp (Cheese and Wasa crackers) S
  • Armadillo Eggs S

This week in place of my Good Girl Moonshine page 397 of the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook, I have mastered my Good Goon Moonshine drink.


Who doesn’t love a hint of green to their drink?!

Our Mommy Dogs will be encased in the “dough” from the Everything Bagel Dogs found on The Primitive Palate Website.  This delicious breading is easy, quick and carb friendly.

One of favorite meals, Armadillo Eggs is back on our menu this week. Also Low Carb and delicious, this recipe along with it’s fun name is a crowd favorite. Get ready for a explosion of flavor with these yummy bites.

Another batch of Pumpkin Fluff will be available for my coffee!  Easy, delicious and sugar-free, I’ve enjoyed this treat in my coffee all week as a substitute for creamer.


I’m sure enjoying my cups from A2Z creations.  My Good Girl Moonshine and Water have a fun sipper!

November Home Reading


Spread the word, home reading for the month of November is here!  Yay!!  Fun for all elementary learners, there are three calendars in this set.  Pre-k & Kindergarten, enjoy filling in parts of the turkey for each day you read.  1st and 2nd grades, gobble up a good book and complete 20 activities then color the turkey!  Grades 3-5 enjoy a calendar filled with fun activities from art to athletic and simple to engaging, complete 20 tasks for 20 days read.  Have fun and share your work.  Come on over to my Etsy page to download a copy of November’s Home Reading Calendar.

Adventure Writing


Who doesn’t love a good adventure story?  Teaching a child to write is one of my favorite elements of being an educator.  Watching their creativity bloom through a fictional story to understanding transitions in procedural writing, every step of the writing process excites me.  In future posts, I will outline my writing lessons from primary to upper grades, however for now, I wanted to share my adventure writing prompts created for my little learners.


Primary Writing

My little L was only in VPK (Voluntary Preschool Program) this last year so most of her writing revolved around pictures and beginning sounds.  So, in addition to the travel journals I created, I invited L to write her own books.  Often I coach a child to read through their own writing, however, since we were traveling I wanted create something special.  Not only did this prompt get her to read and write but it also created ownership and pride as family dutifully sat and listened to her stories.

From Target I found small blank books in the dollar section. On each page I wrote a small emergent sentence and she drew a picture to match, thereby helping her to visualize the word as she read. For a prompt, I also created this book, “In My Suitcase”.  On each page was a suitcase for her to draw one item with the short sentence, “A ___ is in my suitcase”.  Before we left, I had given the girls each a packing list to help them pack.  Using that tool, I helped her create the story.  My sweet L enjoyed drawing and drafting her little book.  Click here for this adventure writing prompt on my Etsy page. 

For my then 1st Grader, S, I came up with different stories to do each week.  Her first writing activity had her creating a similar packing story to L but in a procedural format.  The title, “In my Suitcase” again used the packing list as a reference.  Providing her with the mail idea and concluding sentence, I had her choose three categories: clothes, toys and school materials.  Under each category, I had her write three matching items. For instance, under clothing she choose, swim suit, shorts and shirts.  After planning the story, the first day,  I had her write a first draft the second. Editing and writing the final draft happened the third and forth day. Click here for my procedural Writing Prompt. 


The second week, I had S write an adventure story.  Using a different prompt, I created, she filled in the “boxes ” with the different story elements such as, setting, characters, events, problem and the solution.  With the first day reserved for planning, the next few days were for drafting, editing and a final copy.  Using the blank books I purchased from Target, S created a fun fictional story called “On The Island of Hawaii” complete with illustrations.  The final copy took a bit longer to write and I had to stretch it out a couple of days to finish, especially the illustrations. Click here to access my Etsy Page and my Writing Plans.The girls and I sure had fun with our adventure writing!

Heading out an a vacation and need a fun prompt? Consider checking out my adventure writing prompt or I can create something unique for your little writers.

Travel Journals


Headed out on vacation?  Want to teach your children the art of journaling?  Get ready for adventure with my travel logs.  With three different levels of journaling from primary to intermediate, these journals will help children embrace the art of writing in a fun and interactive way.

Last January, the kids and I joined our family in Hawaii for two weeks.  Each day my girls filled out a journal entry. To this day, they love to read through their adventure.  From start to finish, the day is detailed and easy to follow.  My travel journals don’t just invite children to write, they also prompt their cognitive learning through a variety of creative questions.  Find my travel journals on Venture2Learn’s Etsy page!



Weekly Menu October 17-23


Fall is in full swing and our menu is ready for another busy week. Planning around two fall festivals and my husband’s work schedule, our menu has quick healthy options or hardy delicious crockpots.  Last week we experimented cooking spaghetti in a crockpot. Not only was it delicious but easy.  With two cups of water, we threw the whole squash then let it roast for the day.  With acorn squash on the menu and a hectic work week, crockpot again to the rescue.


Monster Claws is the Halloween treat this week. Made with Trim Healthy Mama Chicken Fingers and bell peppers, this delightful meal is sure to entertain.

My feature recipe this week if from a favorite bloggerA Home With Purpose. With a tang of pumpkin and sweet sugar-free chocolate chips Pumpkin Cookies  are bound to be a favorite. As an easy but healthy options for our kids lunches this week, I’m excited to try these cookies.

Check out my awesome cups designed by A2Z Creations!  Not only are my cups gorgeous but they were quickly designed and crafted!  The cost was affordable and I will be contacting her again soon. My oldest already has plans for her own design. img_2593


Creative Ways to Pratice Spelling

Pratice, pratice, pratice… in a meaningful way. Spelling, as a little girl was difficult for me, I didn’t understand the rules and dreaded weekly spelling tests. It wasn’t until I stated teaching that the English language begin to make sense.  With programs such as Linda Mood Bell and Words Their Way I discovered the joy and fun of decoding words.  No longer was it a frustration to spell, but I clearly understood the how and why.  Teaching spelling (working with words) and writing became fun as I created unique and interesting tools for a variety of leaners.

Daily my classroom would practice a quick mini lesson on the patterns of language which we would then apply to our guided reading.  What sorts of activities would I do with my classroom? From Working with Words word building, developing my own word ladders, to creating  interactive games and exercising, I would tap into the variety of learning styles. So, how do I apply this method at home?  Now that my own children have spelling lists, I  work with them on spelling patterns. I also create fun and interactive ways to rehearse and practice their words.

Looking for fun 5 creative ways to practice spelling at home?  Try using one of these examples or click here to see my 7 Spooktacular Spelling Ideas for October.


1. Dust off your old Scrabble and Boggle Games- Take turns and try to connect as many spelling words as you can with your child. Honestly, I had to strategize a few moves before my daughter to in order to make the connections.  We flipped over the letters and concentrated on building our scrabble puzzle rather then playing a “real” game of scrabble. Another method is to split the words in half and add up the number tiles for each word. Whoever gets the most points total is the winner.

2. Pre box the words to each spelling word.  Tall boxes go with tall letters such as t, f, l, and b. Boxes that dip go with letters such as p, y, j and g. The rest are straight across.  See the example below of how I drew my boxes. Your child will then have to use their spacial reasoning to figure out where each word goes and spell them, as you read the words aloud. Have them identify the vowel in a different color.


3. Create your own word ladders giving clues for letters that will change and hints about the word. An example is shown below that I did with my daughter.  To much of a challenge?  Check the word ladder book. It goes by theme so what ever skill your child is working on, locate and try. The words won’t be the same but, the skill will be similar.

4.Do pushups, sit ups, mountain climbers or pretend to shoot hoops, swing or kick as you spell each word.   This is a favorite activity in which all my kids participate.

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5. Write a story using each spelling word.  Or, go on a word hunt within a book to find the words.  Having a difficult time finding the words in print, use old newspapers or magazines to cut out letters to recreate the words.

In a couple weeks, I will switch up the spelling practice ideas and give you another selection of fun spelling activities.  But, for now, here is our 7 day spelling Spooktacular Spelling Practice.