all HALE the goose girl!

‘the goose girl’ by shannon hale is a must read for every girl out there!   when i read it the first time i’d just finished a fast-paced mystery, so i thought goose girl was a little slow.  i told people it read like a sweet fairytale that you would read to someone after you tucked them into bed at night.  a story that could be told a little at a time but was still very enjoyable.

the second time i read it, i couldn’t put it down!   i was consumed with this fantasy and the characters in it.   the story is completely fast paced if you become the character.  (so channel your inner princesses!)

based on the original brother’s grimm fairytale, it shares the story of a princess and the challenges she goes through rightfully earn her crown.   thrown into a foreign world, her identity stolen from her she is forced to endless days of hard labor, long hours and little comfort.  not an ideal lifestyle for a princess.

there are 4 books in the set that share the story of several different characters in the kingdom.   with book fair around the corner this is one book i think everyone should buy.

moms! this is a great read for you and your daughters.   this story offers up several ‘conversation starters’ on finding out who you are and how to handle adversity.  i love the message of believing in yourself and your strengths.

torn from a castle and treated like a commoner this book has everything a fairytale should have.    rich characters,  sweet romance, devoted friends and ……..talking animals!  (ok, so the animals aren’t like disney talking animals that sing and dance, but the main character can speak with them)

give goose girl a chance and i guarantee you will sneak off to bed early, just so you can read!

shannon hale has written several other books as well.   one of her most famous books at our school is ‘princess academy’

for all you colin firth fans out there that loved pride and prejudice……check out austenland!  just the dedication alone will bring you joy.

back to the goose girl, i’d recommend this book for 4th grade and up.  once mom has read the book she could re-tell the story before bedtime.   death, betrayal, frustration and hard knocks are weaved throughout the pages,  but it’s brothers grimm so don’t you expect that?   shannon has added some depth to the original fairytale which brings joy, laughter and a bit more character development.

if you are looking for a sweet, safe series for your daughter to read……all HALE the goose girl series!


Holy Frijolas Crock Pot Tortillas!

once again no photo.  (camera is still in a coma)  sniff, sniff

this one is so easy, you don’t even need a photo to see the final product.   it’s breesy cheesy crock pot easy!

holy frijolas crock pot tortillas-i make this in one of the oval shaped crock pots so 5 chicken breasts fit easily.

5 chicken breasts in crock pot -fresh or frozen work.   just lay them in the crockpot.

15oz. can black beans, drained

12oz. or 15oz. can corn, drained  (didn’t write down the size, but it’s soup canned size)

1 little can diced green chiles

1 cup favorite salsa   (if you haven’t tried the costo organic, it’s muy bien!)

***1 (8oz) cream cheese, cubed   (save until the end, do not put in crock pot in the morning)

***shredded cheddar cheese  (not for the crockpot, just to sprinkle on your tortilla before eating)

just dump the stuff on top, no need to stir.

turn the crock pot on low, put the lid on and let it cook for 8-9hrs.    just put it in before you start your day and let it cook on low all day long.  sooooo easy!

about 1/2 hour before you are ready to eat dinner drop in

1 (8oz) cream cheese, (cut into cubes)   put lid back on and let it melt into a creamy perfect topping.

when you are ready to eat, get your hand mixer and just drop it around a few times in the crockpot to shred the chicken.  don’t keep it going all over the place or you will mash the black beans and corn.  just drop it here and there quickly to shred the chicken quickly without mashing the other ingredients.  you want shredded chicken and mixed stuff without turning it into a soup.

this is the best with the tortillas from costco.  (the ones you cook at home)

grab a hot tortilla, put some shredded chicken down the center, sprinkle with cheddar cheese, roll up and enjoy!

you are welcome to enjoy these with olives, green onions, guacamole, etc.   but they are great just as is.   the shredded chicken is also great over nachos!


Listen To The Wind (Three Cups of Tea)

with all the devastation we’re seeing in the news lately i figured this would be the perfect book for this week.  “listen to the wind”  by greg mortenson is the true account of one man’s journey to change the world……one child at a time.

there are several versions of this book.  the adult and teen versions are titled “three cups of tea”.  a childrens picture book was released “listen to the wind” and uses fabrics, colors and collages to show one man’s dedication to an entire country of children.

in 1993, dr. greg mortenson was hiking in the mtns of pakistan and got lost.  he came to a small village where the locals helped him recover from his ordeal. while there, he noticed that the students had no building and did all of their schooling out of doors.  (with no school supplies, they wrote in the dirt with sticks) Motivated to repay the kindness he had received, he vowed to return to the village and help build a school. thus began his real life’s journey. mortenson’s story recounts the troubles he faced in the U.S. trying to raise the money and then in Pakistan, trying to get the actual supplies to a remote mountain location.  (carrying supplies in by hand) his eventual success led to another, and yet another, until he established a foundation and built a string of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

with everything going on in our world today, we are blessed to live in a country with so many comforts.  today is the perfect time to share this story with our students and let them realize one person CAN make a difference……even if you have to climb a mountain or two in the process 😉

Just So Ya Know…..

here are a few things i think ya outta know about:

FUNDRAISER: YES! you may turn in your order tomorrow WED JAN. 20th!  our cookie and pizza dough fundraiser ends today, but we will accept the orders tomorrow morning as well.  the cookie dough is so de-lish and they even have valentine cookie kits that are perfect for class parties!   this is our only pta fundraiser this year, so we’d love your support!

the order forms were sent home in monday folders on jan. 4th.  if you need another one, they have some at the school.  thanks to everyone who supports this fundraiser.  it helps pay for so many “magical” programs at manila!


as most of you know we are celebrating the disney way this year at manila.  it’s been pretty magical so far and when i heard about disney’s give a day, get a day promotion i was all over it!  i’ve been trying to work out a deal since last october on getting every student and family member a free pass to disneyland through a huge voluntEAR day where we all join in the fun together, but unfortunately it can’t be done on a large scale as one group.

it’s still possible for every person to earn a free ticket to disneyland but you are required to sign up your own family and pick your choice of voluntEAR hours.  they have tons of different companies that need volunteers or donated items (food, house hold goods, blankets, etc)   so i’m sure you can all find something that works for your family and age groups.

volunteer hrs average 4hrs of work per person or donate a certain number of items per person.  i love the idea of so many manila families making a difference in the community AND getting rewarded with a free disneyland ticket.

once again, there are lots of charities to help, but here is an example of what the habitat for humanity options are to earn your disney ticket voucher:

All kit items need to be gathered (bought or donated) by volunteers. Please make sure these items are new, and not used.

Move in Kits: collect cleaning supplies, paper towels, tissue paper, detergents, and other house hold items together in kits that will be given to Habitat families who will be moving into their new homes.

Landscape Kits: kits need to contain shovel, rake, garden hose, bag of grass seed, and hand garden tools.

Cupboard kits: 25 cans of non perishable/non expired canned foods per kit

Recycling cans and paper: Once cans and paper have been collected, you will need to drop them off at the Habitat ReStore which is located at 340 South Orem Blvd between Monday and Friday from 9am-5pm.  On the north side of the building there is a large green paper container that has “Green Fiber” printed on it, that is where the paper needs to be dumped.  There is also a small can house, where you can drop the cans.  When you come to drop off the cans and paper, please come into the office to fill out a slip describing what you have recycled, this is how your hours are verified.  Please keep in mind, this volunteer opportunity is for youth 14 and under only.  There are other volunteer opportunities that adults can get involved with to receive their ticket vouchers.

ReStore scavenger hunt: Spread flyers through your own neighborhood to collect any unused building materials, furniture, paint, or appliances.  Bring items to ReStore at 340 South Orem Blvd.  Donations are tax deductable.

i hope everyone knows about this program because it’s a brilliant way to spread happiness around the world!  thanks disney!

HAPPY HELPING!  hope to see you all at DISNEYLAND!!!!!

Sticky Chicken

i don’t think recipes come much simpler than this.   obviously the best side dish for sticky chicken is……….sticky rice!  enjoy!

(sorry no photo this time, my camera is still in a coma!)

Sticky Chicken

4-6 chicken breasts cut in large pieces

8oz Russian or Catalina salad dressing

1 env lipton onion soup mix

1 cup  apricot preserves

Mix together and pour over chicken in 9×13 pan. Cover with foil and bake 1hour at 350.

Beautiful Creatures

i can’t wait to tell you about this weeks read!   if you’ve talked to me at all since christmas break i’m sure i’ve already told you about beautiful creatures my new favorite book!

big thanks to kami garcia and margaret stohl for writing such a wonderful piece of magic.

this book is from the teen section but i think there are a lot of 6th graders that would dive into the pages and never want to come out! i am sharing this on the manila blog because as a 6th grader i would have loved this book and i know we have some great readers at manila that are the same way.  it’s not for every 6th grader.  if your child devours every book they come across and can handle lots of characters, several different storylines and love mystery and magic they will be ready for this.   it’s darker than the harry potter series but if they blew through those in younger grades i think beautiful creatures would be a good step up.

the book is almost 600 pages but don’t let that scare you (or your kids)     it has such a great story full of mystery and magic that you really wish it was 1200 pages so you could keep reading.   the second book is being edited now. yea!

here is a short description of the story:  “Ethan Wate is struggling to hide his apathy for his high school “in” crowd in small town Gatlin, South Carolina, until he meets the determinedly “out” Lena Duchannes, the girl of his dreams (literally–she has been in his nightmares for months). What follows is a smart, modern fantasy–a tale of star-crossed lovers and a dark, dangerous secret. Beautiful Creatures is a delicious southern Gothic that charms you from the first page, drawing you into a dark world of magic and mystery until you emerge gasping and blinking, wondering what happened to the last few hours (and how many more you’re willing to give up). To tell too much of the plot would spoil the thrill of discovery, and believe me, you will want to uncover the secrets of this richly imagined dark fantasy on your own.”

this book is actually written from the BOYS point of view.  seems most romance books are written from the gushy, mushy girls point of view and the guys wouldn’t enjoy it.   beautiful creatures has a romantic feel to the read but it doesn’t ever cross the line.  it’s a very clean, sweet and innocent read when it comes to the relationship side. they spend more time trying to protect one another from the world around them so the authors don’t spend time on kissing scenes.  the magic and mystery of a small town with it’s gothic history and strange creatures is what you really need to worry about.

it does have dark magic, good vs. evil type haunting storyline that’s a real page turner.    i stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because i HAD to finish it.  i was too scared not too!   i haven’t read a book in a long time that i gave up sleep for! (i really like my sleep) 🙂

so bottom line:  yes, this is a teen book, BUT…..if you have a 6th grader that can handle a big thick book with lots of rich characters, crossing storylines and a bit of scaaaaaary magic, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is the book for them.   it just came out in december so it’s only available in hard cover, but on amazon it’s only 11.00.   gotta love amazon!

happy reading!

Playing Catch Up!

whew! i hope everyone survived the holidays!  i’m still playing catch up.  over the holidays i made wonderful treats,  had fun activities and photographed it all to share on the blog for your family to join in the fun!  then…………..long story short:  my camera battery died and i can’t find the charger.  so i have all these fun photos i can’t get off my camera!  happy new year! 😉

my HATS OFF TO:   radio disney for our december MOOOOve It assembly!   it was so much fun!  they had the entire school off their seat, moving to the beat and stompin their feet!   boy was it neat!    ok, i’ll stop,   but my hats off to the disney team for starting off our holiday season with such a ‘rockin’ assembly!    boy our teachers can moooove!!!!!!

UPCOMING EVENTS:   this wed.   jan. 13th 9:30am  pta party (mtg) in the south trailer.   hey room moms…….we’ll share valentines party ideas you’ll FALL IN LOVE with and we’re looking for voluntEARS for a magic morning breakfast for the teachers and helpers with  teacher appreciation week.   hope to see you there!

we are in the middle of our cookie/pizza dough pta “fun”draiser!  this is the only pta fundraiser of the year, so “dough”n’t ya want to support us? 🙂     this money will help pay for bare books, family fun events and teacher appreciation!

last but not least, seeing as the blog has been on hiatus over the holidays (due to the death of my camera, sniff, sniff.)  i figured i better start the year off with a bang!

whenever i want to make a treat that will DAZZLE the guests i pull out the SPARKLY FRUIT!  it looks like a fancy martha stewart recipe but it’s marsha brady easy.  (not sure what that really means but the brady’s didn’t seem like fancy cooks so that’s the name that came to me, alright?!!)

Caramelized Brie and Wintered Pears (see?  doesn’t the name just sound fancy?)


– wheel o’brie(buy at costco, in a yellow and white circle box that costs around $7.00)  el presidente or something like that.

– pears (i prefer the bartlet pears from costco, they come in a box)

– grapes (looks better with red and green grapes)

– brown sugar

– sugar in the raw (by the brown sugar, comes in a bag.  looks like sugar crystals)

– butter

– chopped pecans (optional)

spray the fruit with pam, then roll it in sugar in the raw.  set fruit carefully on the platter and don’t mess with it much.  otherwise the sugar rubs off.

brie – take it out of the cardboard box, then take it out of the white plastic wrap it’s in.  now you should be holding a wheel of cheese in a white paper-feeling wrap.  the paper wrap is edible but cut the top layer off so you can see the cheese.  leave the sides and bottom on to help hold the cheese’s shape while it cooks.
place the cheese on a cookie sheet with the paper on bottom and the cheese facing up.   bake at 400 degrees for about 18-20min.  you don’t want the cheese hard, but you don’t want it turned into soup either.  you want it very soft without being runny.  you’ll find out what works best for your oven.  i just keep checking it.  if you have large bubbles and it’s running all over the place, you are over done and need to get it out!
i’ve never officially measured the brown sugar and butter, but i’m guessing it’s 1 cube butter and 2 cups brown sugar.  melt butter in saucepan, then stir in brown sugar.  you don’t want any dry sugar, but you don’t want it runny with butter either.  if it’s a thick sugary paste, it’s perfect!

right before the brie is ready to take out of the oven, i pour the sugar over the brie and let it cook in the oven for a bit.  then you carefully transfer it to a platter to serve and place the fruit around it.  sometimes i’ll just put the brie on the platter, then pour the sugar mix over it and call it good.  if you pour it over the brie in the oven, then you have more slop to clean up.  it’s fine both ways.

for presentation purposes, i use an apple slicer and slice several of the pears, place them around the edge of the platter and leave a few pears whole.  it just makes everything look beautiful.  if you want the nuts, just add them to the sugar mix before pouring them over the brie.

voila! martha stewart looking recipe that was very easy to make!  to serve, you can have people put the brie on their plate or just have them dip a slice of pear right into the brie wheel.  soooo dee-lish!