The purpose of this blog is to share ideas for creating a classroom that is inspired but uses little cash. Obviously teachers don’t go into the profession because they have a desire to earn tons of money. That’s why I think it is so helpful to share ideas about classrooms and how to live a life that fully utilizes the income we do earn. Sshare ideas too. You can call me Mrs. Prudent Classroom
In order to growing food frugally, it’s important to think about how much the inputs are costing you versus the benefits you are receiving. For me, the cost/benefit ratio of buying organic food in a supermarket has never been high enough to justify doing so.
Among the investments I’m making this year to the edible landscaping are old fashioned roses that have the added benefit of producing hips. Rose hips were used in England during world war II as a source of vitamin C. Oranges and lemons were difficult to find or afford during the war years. I’ve read that boy scouts were asked by the government to collected rose hips to be made into a syrup which was bottled and used medicinally.
The current recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C for men is 90 mg per day and for women: 75 mg per day. Your body can’t store vitamin C so it’s important to ingest some every day. According to the NYTimes, this important vitamin is needed :
… to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
I’m looking at ordering “Dortmund” or “Hansa” roses to scramble up my trellis and shade my house in the summer. Their rose hips, with between 1700 to 2000 mgs.of vitamin C, outpace citrus fruits in terms of vitamin C production. Hips also contain vitamins A, D and E, anti-oxidents and flavinoids.
Here is some further information from the American Rose Society regarding the healthful hips:
“Fresh hips from R. canina were used as a diuretic, as a coolant, and a mild astringent. Both leaves and hips were used for infusions or tea. The hips from R. pomifera were made into preserves and also into a drink. It was very popular in certain areas of Austria and Bavaria. R. roxburghii hips were used by the Chinese to aid against indigestion and the Ainu in Japan ate the hips of R. rugosa.”
My plan is to use the hips in tea in the winter to give us a boost in vitamin C—thus keeping us healthier and keeping us warmer while we set our thermostat lower.
If you try this at home: please remember to check that harmful sprays were not used on the roses. Since I garden organically, this is not a problem.
In sum, I hope to have most of our nutritional needs provided for on the property before we retire. That’s my little bit of insurance and reassurance come what may. One of the best ways to be frugal is to be healthy.
· If you are paying for extra cable channels AND a service like Netflicks, perhaps you are paying twice for the same enjoyment. Consider getting rid of one (or more if you are really indulgent). If it were up to me, I’d ditch cable altogether and watch things on youtube and hulu.com. I find enough to keep me busy at the latter which is an ad-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, FOX and many other networks and studios.
· One frugal thing I do is buy clothes that can be washed by me—I hate paying money to a dry cleaners. I handwash delicates and have even washed my husband’s suits and pressed them myself –although I DO generally pay for suits and coats to be cleaned. I do know I’ve saved tons over the years on this one item
· Speaking of clothes, I am terrible about staining the front (ok, sides, back, sleeves) of my clothes. I keep a lot of white and beige tops that go with anything in my mix and match wardrobe, but It’s hard to find these. When I see white or beige tops on sale I buy four.
· I bought small fancy flavored coffee grounds for holiday gifts and saved back a few for me. I add a couple tablespoons to my sale coffee and spread the luxury a little.
· The FDIC has a nice publication called Practical Advice for Everyone on How to Save and Manage Money
· Gardenweb has many great forums, but my favorite is the frugal gardening forum. Here is a link to what these folks think are their best frugal gardening tips.
· I’ve had good experiences buying contact lenses online with http://www.1800contacts.com/ While my eye doctor’s office has rebates, they are a hassle and nowhere near the savings I get online. The online service beats *mart prices even.
· One of the ways that I have saved money over the years is to have a homesteading mindset. You can do this in the middle of the city and on a little acreage. I could say more but there are some nice explanations and links here:
· Even if you live in a first floor apartment with a patio you can have a garden.
You should have guessed by now that I’m the kind of person who picks up every penny I see on the ground. And from the last post, you should know that I accept any and all things people are getting rid of. If I can’t use it, I find someone who can or donate it to goodwill where the donation keeps on giving.
The other day I’d found a dime on the floor while running to the office during my planning period. I held it up to the Janitor (a fellow frugalist) and he said, Big deal! I pick up all kinds of money all day long in these hallways. Kids are notorious for not paying attention to what falls out of their pockets.
I don’t know what he does with his change, but mine gets added to my own money and plowed back into my classroom. Last week, for instance, I bought the strategy-based computer game called “Age of Empires” for use in my classroom (more about that later….); and bought fortune cookies for our discussion of Confucianism and Ancient China.
What got me thinking of “found coins” was this wonderful blog post by the nonconsumeradvocate. I’ve read it before and it makes me smile each time.
Along these lines, I have a teacher friend with a large family. Because she is one of seven siblings herself, she knows the value of a dollar! As soon as her children were the age to play sports, I asked if she would like some athletic equipment and shoes my kids had grown out of. “Boy, would I!” came her enthusiastic response. That expanded to passing down clothing and it has had the unexpected benefit of my reliving many enjoyable memories with my own children when I see them wearing a certain dress (worn to a special occasion while carrying a blankie and sucking a thumb) or outfit (worn to a family trip to the mountains where we rode horses up and down nearly vertical terrain in the mud—yikes!)
Since it’s my blog, I’m allowed to ramble and tell stories here. This same lady is also a teacher. Her own children complain that they have no TV. I should explain: they do not choose to pay for cable or satellite TV and we live in a rural, mountainous area with zero TV reception. As a result, her kids, who I teach, complain that their mother only allows them to watch math videos. I know she is previewing them for her classes and she is a great multitasker. It makes me smile to think of what’s going on. I should mention, however, that her kids are VERY well-read, artistic and are scarey-smart! Since she teaches MY children, I get to hear about these math videos twice.:)
So, to review: look for pennies and free things—they add up and turn into things you never imagined.
After Christmas, I try to eat out of the freezer and pantry so we have very little grocery expense. It makes it easy to pay off credit cards that we used to buy holiday gifts. We keep a budget and do all our shopping with credit cards that we pay off each month so we incur no interest expense. (see previous post about “loan” being our f-word).
Another reason to do this is to make room for filling the freezer and pantry again with homegrown items. It ensures that we are not wasting food by throwing away items that are past their due.
Some of the things we have eaten this week include sesame chicken noodles made with frozen whole wheat noodles, one large frozen grilled chicken breast and a splash of peanut sauce. I’ll try to post my frugal version of this recipe later. Since I live in outer Podunk, I have to make due with terribly mundane grocery products so I will post a recipe for this using what I can get locally.
Sesame Chicken Noodles
I save the last couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in the jar for making this dish. I almost always have cooked noodles and chicken on hand in the freezer for quick meals. To the jar of peanut butter I add 1/4 cup of soy sauce, a tablespoon of sugar, a little hot sauce (I like Tiger Brand) and a little water. I microwave this on defrost (so the plastic doesn’t melt and just enough for the peanut butter to unstick to the sides of the jar) and shake the jar like mad. Pour this over the leftover noodles, add diced, cooked chicken. If you have planted onion tops in the garden, go looking for them now and add them to your dish! Wa La!
I’ve been enjoying some free roasted herb turnips from the garden. I peel and cook the turnips they aren’t hard anymore, then toss with a little olive oil, paprika, salt pepper, garlic powder and basil and roast under the broiler until they are a little browned. Yum!
Since I noticed that there are several packages of veggies that were at the back of the freezer from year’s past I cooked them up in a stir fry. To the frozen broccoli and greenbeans, I added sliced onions and carrots leftover steak. I mix up homemade teriyaki sauce and keep it in the fridge so I can quickly make stir fry anytime I want. I’ll try to post that later…
Related to my last post “Be Your Own Bank,” is Dave Ramsey’s concept of “ debt snowballing.” The idea is to pay off a small debt balance, then roll that money that would be going to that debt to the next largest debt. In our case, we went after the highest interest debt we had and continued from there…
This way of living has had tremendous benefits. From Amy Dacyczyn’s The Complete Tightwad Gazette, I learned to apply savings to areas that would create greater savings. This is deliberate living that requires you to be financially self-aware at all times.
I guess this last concept is more like a “savings snowball.” In the past, I started by having a yardsale that gave me the money to spend on garden tools and seeds. The money saved by growing our own food (we included the cost of gas and wear and tear on our vehicles to to to the grocery store) was then invested in canning equipment and dehydrators.
Each year at this time, we make a list of what we are going to put our savings into. Some of what we will do this year are invest in more chicks (for eggs and meat). While feed has increased, we have started freeranging our hens and realized some savings there. Even though we pay for feed, we get a lot of garden vegetables from the compost made from the deep litter we use in the coop (for another post–we compost all paper products, junk mail, etc…) But I digress….
I’d really like to take some snowball savings and invest in some miniature milk goats that I could use for (at least) cheese and maybe milk and yogurt. So far, I haven’t convinced anyone else that this is a good idea. I’ll let you know….
Every year, we take some of our savings and invest in more edible landscaping. By retirement, we should have enough fruit and nut trees and bushes to support ourselves without needing to use a grocery store. In my mind, the ability to feed yourself is insurance. It’s one thing to be poor, it’s entirely another to be poor and hungry. No one need be hungry, even in the city (but more on that in later post…)
In the meantime, I’d love to hear some of the reader’s lists for what to invest their savings snowball in to help them save MORE money….
I really enjoy reading blogs of other teachers. There is never enough time to watch our fellow teachers hone their craft. Even the brief time in the lunchroom (and I do mean brief, once you deal with Bobby who lost his lunch money or Shakira who is checking out early) is only spent with the five or so teachers who have the same lunch time as you do.
That is why I am looking forward to seeing the list of best educator blogs after they are published. I hope someday to be on this list, but that is just a goal at this point.
I must read educator blogs at home with a cup of coffee because our school district’s firewall screens out blogs. That’s unfortunate, because I get SO many excellent ideas for my own classroom from these fine teachers.
I’m going to make it a point to steer some of my readers to the best ideas I’m seeing in other blogs. I’ll try to do a roundup of good posts I read.
At the beginning of the year, several elementary teachers I know take their students to the computer lab to type their spelling list. This accomplishes two things at the same time (maybe more). First, they learn their spelling words. Next, they learn to type and become familiar with the keyboard.
They begin to learn Microsoft Word by highlighting their list and numbering. They learn how to insert a word they forgot. This is a natural way to begin word processing which will later be used for typing reports. In our area, the majority of students do not own computers at home and there is little time in the day to teach typing.
I like it.
We do a lot of writing in my classes. At this level, we are hammering how to organize their essays: topic sentence, detail sentences (or paragraphs) and conclusion sentences (or paragraphs).
It’s not enough to TELL them that they must do those things, you must show that their grade is related to whether or not they have met those goals.
Here’s the rub: it’s hardly worth my time to seriously mark up the final version. If they haven’t followed the lesson, haven’t taken my “walking around the room” advice, haven’t followed the mark-ups on the edited version, why spend the time to rehash? They just aren’t going to do it!
I have to agree with the following from the Prone to Laughter blog :”A current grading technique (and I don’t know why it took me years to come up with this) is to underline everything important. The thesis, a key piece of analysis, a topic sentence that clearly states the heart of the paragraph. The advantage here is that it creates a strong impression that I’ve read and commented upon the paper, without actually requiring much effort from me. Though I don’t know why I scribble on final essays anyhow. Circling typos is also useful for this.”
It takes a lot of time to grade writing, but good teachers give a lot of writing work and grade it anyway! My inspiration this year has been the honors English teacher of my own children who goes above and beyond in her teaching of writing.
When I’m ready to give up, I think of her. I really should mention this to her, but I’ll wait until they no longer have her as a teacher so it doesn’t look like I’m brown-nosing.
Here’s the bottom line (putting on teacher hat for wrap-up here): before they turn in the paper, I have the student underline their topic sentence, conclusion sentence. That saves me some effort and time on my part to go hunting for these things. I can quickly scan whether they have mentioned what the body of their essay will cover. In addition, it holds them accountable for what they were told to do.
- The Two Writing Teachers blog talks about their take on NCTE sesson related to designing effective writing assignments.
- Need some good handwriting worksheets or explanations for why it’s important? Look no further:
- Have you heard of “speed dating?” How about sparking interest in reading by doing something similar with passing books after a few minutes? Here’s how at teaching tips machine blog.
- Alan Haskvitz talks about how B is the new C in his article entitled, “The End of the D and F Grade: Welcome to Lake Wobegon” at teachersnet Gazette. Sad but true!
- What a wonderful quote about NCLB by Doug Noon of Borderlands : “If we’d have used an NCLB-style approach to the Apollo moon mission, President Kennedy would have simply ordered NASA to fly conventional airplanes higher and higher until they fell out of the sky, and then blamed the pilots for lacking the will and the know-how to get the job done. ” Check out his take on how the new administration should approach assessment.