Ticket Bowl {with Mod Podge}

An easy, functional craft and oh, so cheerful.  I happen to have a ticket roll sitting around, so I finally put it to use.  I looked online and you can buy ticket rolls (in adorable colors) for around $3-4 a roll.  Check carnival supply websites and ebay.

I followed Amy's tutorial at Mod Podge Rocks minus the glitter.  After six coats of Mod (three on the inside, three on the outside), our family's ticket bowl was ready for...holding paint swatches?  What can I say?  We have quite a collection.

Enjoy the upcoming long weekend!


Discount Textbook Options


Instead, ask your instructor a few questions about the textbook for your course.  Then, if the textbook is needed, use one of the sites below to purchase the text or consider purchasing the e-book version (if you regularly use a smartphone, tablet or laptop).

  1. Is the textbook necessary for this course?  
  2. If the answer is yes, how will we be using the textbook for this course?
  3. How will you hold me accountable for reading the textbook for this course?  Will there be quizzes, activities, test questions, textbook discussions, etc.?
  4. Could I find the same information online?  If yes, could that take the place of the textbook?
If your instructor really, truly, cruelly (I couldn't find another good word that rhymed), wants you to purchase the textbook, then, by all means DO NOT PAY FULL PRICE.

Here are my favorite discount buying sites:
  • Chegg.com
  • Half.com (part of Ebay) - what until you see the savings below!
  • Abebooks.com (part of Amazon)
  • Bookrenter.com 
  • Textbooks.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Skyo.com - which I just checked to see if they carry the Educational Psychology book that my class uses and they do!  You can rent the latest edition for $22 or buy it used for $61.  This textbook new is over $140.  The rental option is great for students who plan to only use the textbook that semester - not longer.

Now check out, Half.com.  You can rent the same textbook for the same amount of time for $14.53.  You save $7.  That's two lattes, right?  Yay, for Half.com.  Even better!

Of course, many textbooks can be "rented" via the e-book option.  This, too, is great for students who do not plan to use the textbook past the semester AND for students who regularly are plugged into their smartphones, tablets or laptops.  If your only computer is a desktop one at home; this is not a good fit. You want your e-book to be mobile - that's the cool part about e-books.

Now, I have one last tip and you must adhere to this one:  PAY THE EXTRA SHIPPING COST TO EXPRESS MAIL OR OVERNIGHT YOUR TEXTBOOK TO YOU.  Don't cheap out on this one.  It is worth the extra money.  Why, you ask?  Because most textbook companies save on shipping by shipping books fourth class mail.  Yes, it is appropriate because fourth class mail is reserved for books and media, but wow, is it sloooooow.  By the time you get your textbook via fourth class mail, it will be the end of the semester.  PAY THE EXTRA SHIPPING COST TO GET YOUR TEXTBOOK FASTER.  Or, plan at least 4-6 weeks ahead before the semester begins.

If you've already purchased your textbook at full price, every college bookstore has a refund policy.  For example, my college allows returns up to 10 days after the semester starts.  To do so, you just need your receipt and ID and voila, you can return your over-priced handsomely-priced textbook. 

Go forth and save, fine college student.  If you have other discount textbook websites or textbook buying tips, please leave them in the comments section below.  My next post about textbooks will be about FREE textbooks, yes, you heard me.  F. R. E. E.

That's my favorite price ;)


Why I Dislike the First Day of School

Today marks the first day of school for all the public schoolers in our neighborhood.  Tomorrow, I meet my college students face-to-face.  This might come as a surprise, but I hate dislike the first day of school.  Yep, I'm a teacher and I just admitted it.  Here's why.

I teach because I like connecting with students.  Building a bond.  Building a relationship with students - the easy ones and the hard ones.  You know the hard ones.  The ones who don't trust you until one week before the semester ends.  The ones who never smile in your class even though you know that story you just told was funny.  The ones that make you realize the best things in life are worth your time and effort.

I teach because I want my students to know I care.  I genuinely want them to succeed and grow. John Maxwell's quote sums this up, "Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  I care completely.  Most times too much.

So, tomorrow, college students, when I meet you for the first time, please know that behind my cup of Earl Grey tea, I am really excited to meet you.  I just prefer the second week of school.  You know.  When we know each other a touch more.  When we are more connected.

Deep breath.  Happy school year.


Back-to-school Party

My very talented cousin, Cheryl, has a Back-to-School series on her blog right now.  Check out her posts on throwing a back-to-school party (photo above), fun (and inexpensive) teacher gifts here and here, and if you adore chalkboard paint, see Cheryl's post on throwing a chalkboard party, too.  Did you know Joann's sells chalkboard fabric?!  I need some.....


Oh Happy Fruit

(Image from Oh Happy Day)

Since Mr. UpCyclist, Lil O and I all bring a packed lunch to school/work daily, I might need to try this cute sticker idea during the school year.

Thanks, Oh Happy Day, for sharing it!


Thank you, Breck

Dear Summer in Breckenridge, CO,

Thank you for providing cool temperatures, tons of interesting activities, welcoming our sweet puppy, Jedi, and making all four of us smile from the inside out.

We so enjoyed our two months with you.

With love & gratitude,


PS - The photos below are from our last day there.  

Mountain biking as a family......

The riders - Mr. UpCyclist, Jedi and Lil O.  Jen on camera balancing on a log to take this shot.....

Mountain biking in Breckenridge

Celebratory slurpees with another new straw!  You remember how cute the last straw is, right?  Dinner in town and Jedi joined us on the restaurant's deck. Breckenridge, no one does flowers like you do.  Please thank the gardeners and watering cart gals who keep the town looking so delightful.

Finally, a "couples" photo.  Lil O just loved playing in the river and jumping off rocks.  Actually, we all loved playing in the river and jumping (or sitting) on rocks.

Oh, how I love these people photographed above and that furry hound in that special town.  Now, time to unfreeze my mind and meld back into Merryland - typo, completely intentional.

Unfreeze Your Mind

My last few days in Colorado and I'm attempting to wean myself back to reality.  I'm working more, preparing for fall classes, and brainstorming how I can slip back into my Maryland life with a positive attitude.  I just adore Colorado and Breckenridge - its cool weather, healthy lifestyle, dog-friendly everything, and the convenience of walking everywhere.  Hmmm...what's a girl to do?
As I was preparing for an upcoming workshop I'm giving, I stumbled upon Kurt Lewin's change model.  It is exactly what I need to embrace in order to leave Colorado and slip back into my Maryland life, happily.

Phase One:  Unfreeze your mind.  Yes, you heard me.  Unfreeze it.  Let that mind of yours thaw.  In this phase you prepare for change and decide a change in behavior, attitude, thought, or feeling is necessary to succeed.  This phase reminds me of having an open mind.  I can do that.  I like open minds.  Hello mind, time to unfreeze, k?

Phase Two:  Change.  In this phase you actually do the changing.  You embrace that new behavior, attitude, thought or feeling and let it emerge and be.  Of course, this part of the model is the scariest especially if you are like me and tend to resist change.  I imagine good friends and family would be very helpful during this phase.  Did you hear me Maryland friends and family?  I need your help.  Help me find all the good in Maryland and my life there.  PS - Students, I bet you could help me, too. You always make me smile.  And laugh.  And push me to be the best I can be.  And laugh some more.

Phase Three:  Refreeze your mind.  This step is important Lewin's says because if you don't refreeze your mind, there is a chance you could slip back into your old ways.  Whatever your new behavior,  attitude, thought, or feeling is needs to be your new norm.  Which means I need to embrace that I can have a great life in Colorado and in Maryland.

Where am I in all this?  I'm still in Phase One.  My mind is unfreezing and I know change is on the horizon.