what i learned from a week of teaching kindergarten

Happy Friday, friends! Today I’m delighted to share a guest post with you that I wrote for Candace Bisram’s wonderful blog Pocketful of Smiles. It’s about some lessons I learned from my week of teaching kindergarten a few summers back. Hope you enjoy!


What I Learned From a Week of Teaching Kindergarten

Home from work, I flopped onto my bed without even taking off my shoes. “Oh my gosh!” I sighed into the phone to my parents. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so exhausted.”

It was summer, and I was teaching a weeklong writing and public speaking class through the local Parks & Recreation Department. When I signed up to teach the class, I didn’t know what age group I would be assigned. And then, when I learned my assignment, I wasn’t worried.

Kindergarten. How hard could it be? We would read picture books, sing songs, draw some pictures. Golden.

The first day, I realized the extent of my misconception…


You can read the rest of the piece published on Pocketful of Smiles here!


That’s all for today! Hope you have a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend. 🙂

Guest Post: The Surprising Benefits of Reality Television

Hi everyone! Oh my goodness, T-minus two weeks until my wedding day and I am a jumble of excitement, nerves, gratitude, stress… mostly excitement! 🙂

I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to post nearly as much as I would like this summer. Wedding-planning combined with teaching summer camps, tutoring my regular clients, travel plans and trying to squeeze in some writing projects has kept me busy “on all burners” as a friend of mine says. Anyway, I want to thank you for your patience during this super busy season of my life! I have a few posts in the pipeline that I am working on finishing up for you sometime soon. In the meantime, one of my blog readers reached out with an idea for a guest post, and I am delighted to present it to you today!

I must admit, when I first read the title of this post, I wasn’t sure I would agree with the writer’s views… I am not much of a TV watcher myself, and I think of “reality TV” squarely in the “guilty pleasures” realm! However, after reading it, my views have broadened. I think this guest blogger makes excellent points and definitely leaves you with some food for thought. Enjoy!

reality tv

The Surprising Benefits of Reality Television

Looking across the television channels, from lifestyle and cooking to educational, reality shows are clearly monopolizing the televised entertainment landscape. Despite the wide range of subcategories, the genre is often regarded as trash TV, offering very little to educate or improve our daily lives and leading most people to focus on the negative aspects of reality television. Contrary to popular belief, plenty of good can come from a daily dose of this guilty pleasure, more than you would think.

On the surface, the only apparent positive effect of reality television is its power to help you unwind from a busy day. One of the keys to letting yourself relax, according to Psych Central, is by figuring out what works best for you, and while MasterChef may not have the same meditative effects as simple breathing exercises or a yoga workout, reality TV gives a sense of escape that allows us to disconnect from our daily stresses. For a moment, the only thing that you focus on is whether or not your favorite contestant is going to make it through to the next round.

But there’s more to game shows and other reality series than just its relaxation benefits. Positive influences have actually stemmed from this TV category. One of the finer examples that prove that TV can be very useful to viewers includes the show Hoarders, as How Stuff Works say that it has increased public awareness on a behavior that many don’t realize is a mental health issue. These documented cases of real people and real problems has made us socially aware and accepting of others, and even supplied us with the tools to make changes in our own lives and help others in need.

On the less serious side of things, talent contests such as The X Factor, which is now at the peak of its popularity with The X Factor Games and other related ventures, expose us to a world of unique and extraordinary abilities that inspire us to explore our own faculties, as well as support the contestants that hope to make a better life for themselves and their families. Weight loss competitions supply us with the guidance to lead a healthier lifestyle without the risks of extreme dieting. Segments that highlight teen pregnancy have encouraged the public to be more cautious with reproductive health, as Benefits of explains that teen pregnancy rates have declined since the premiere of shows like Teen Mom.

They say that television is only good in small doses, but it all depends on the content. Reality TV as a whole may not have the same educational caliber as the likes of National Geographic, though the average Joe and Jane stories are circumstances that we can all relate to, motivating us to become the best version of ourselves.

Questions to think about:

  • Do you watch any reality television? If so, what shows are your favorites?
  • Do you feel motivated by reality TV shows?

guest post at Parent Grapevine

Hi, friends! Happy Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post, but for today I wanted to let you know about a guest post I wrote for the terrific blog Parent Grapevine:

Help Your Child Become a Better Writer: 3 Easy, Fun Prompts to Try!

I’ve been a writing teacher for the past eight years, working with a range of ages: kindergarten through senior citizens. I’ve led writing workshops for public schools, private schools, home-schooling groups, community centers, and more! I also taught undergraduate writing courses at Purdue University for three years.

When I talk to parents and teachers, two questions come up again and again:
1. How can we make writing FUN for kids and teenagers?
2. How can we help our kids become better writers?

The answers to these two questions are tied together: like anything, people become better writers with practice. The best way to help your child become a better writer is to encourage him or her to write, write, write! Well, how do you do that? By making writing a fun activity.

Head on over to Parent Grapevine to read the rest of my post, including three popular writing prompts I use often in my work with young writers.

Hope you’re having a marvelous Monday!

guest post: banana monkey bread muffins

Today I’m excited to share a guest post from my foodie pen-pal Becca, blogger at BeeSweetSurrender. She always features amazingly delicious recipes, and I asked her if she would mind sharing a guest post recipe with us. Here is her drool-worthy recipe for banana monkey bread muffins! {You can see the original post on her blog here.}


banana monkey bread muffins

for the dough:
– 3 cups flour
– 3 tbsp sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 package Red Star Active Dry Yeast
– 1/2 cup water
– 1/4 cup whole milk
– 2 and 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
– 1 large egg
– 2 ripe bananas

cinnamon-sugar topping:
– 1/2 cup butter, melted
– 1 cup sugar
– 1  1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon (you can also use less if you aren’t that big on cinnamon)

vanilla glaze:
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 2 tbsp milk
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl place 2 and 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast and mix together.

2. In the microwave melt together the water, milk and butter until the butter is melted and it is too hot to touch. Add this to the flour mixture and stir together. Add the egg and mix well. Lastly add the bananas– it will create a very wet dough. This is when you’ll need to add more flour, I needed the full 1/2 cup of flour. Your dough will be ready when it springs back from your touch and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will be slightly wet which is ok, but you don’t want it to be too sticky!

3. Flour a clean surface and turn out the dough, kneading well for a few minutes. Add flour by tablespoons if it is still too sticky. Lightly butter (or use a non-stick spray) a bowl and place the dough in, let rest for 10-20 minutes. Place cupcake liners into your cupcake tin.

4. In a medium sized bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon. In another bowl melt the butter completely. Taking the dough, roll it into small balls, about 1/2- 1 inch in diameter. Dip the ball into your bowl of butter and then transfer it to the bowl with cinnamon sugar, and roll it around (we all like sugar right?!) so it’s well coated. Place 3-5 in each liner until the dough is all used up. I purposefully made only 12 but depending on how large you would like your muffins you could make 12-18. Set aside for 30-45 minutes to let the dough rise a bit more.

5. Preheat the oven while the muffins are rising to 400. Bake for 20-23 minutes and let cool. While they are cooling make the icing. Remove the muffins from the tins and pour the icing generously on each and… Enjoy!

banana monkey bread muffins

Thanks so much for sharing this recipe with us, Becca!

Check out Becca’s blog at http://beesweetsurrender.wordpress.com/


This post is also linked up to Menu-Plan Monday!

year of kindness challenge: week 23

year of kindness button

Hi, everyone! How is your week shaping up?

I had a really nice weekend with lots of friend & family time! Girls night out, a backyard pizza-making party, baking, eating, reading, wine, a long-awaited phone date with a wonderful friend, a new buddy at church, running errands with my mama … and on Sunday night my family all went out to a local winery for a concert featuring the very talented daughter of my mom’s coworker. SO much fun! Cassi Vaniotis, you were terrific!!

I also tried out a few new recipes I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys soon! Stay tuned!

So, last week’s kindness challenge was to do an act of patience. I think the best thing about this challenge was that it changed my mindset. I tried to approach these acts of patience with an open heart and thoughts of kindness, and what once seemed like a chore — waiting in the office for my eye doctor appointment, sitting in traffic, running errands — didn’t seem so bad. I let someone go in front of me in line at the store. I waved cars ahead of me when merging on the freeway. When I was put on hold on the phone, I sat and daydreamed rather than absently surfing the Internet while I waited.

I’m someone whose natural inclination is to jam-pack every minute of my day with “productive” activity. I like to feel go-go-go, crossing off tasks on my to-do list. But I realized that I was tying my self-worth to this sense of “busyness” … and that isn’t a good thing. I was often feeling like I didn’t “accomplish enough” in a day, no matter how much multitasking I did. And I wasn’t fully savoring the rich details and spontaneous joyful moments of life!

murray patience grasshopper

So I’ve been on a mission to slow down, breathe, and focus on one thing at a time. Embrace whatever life is presenting to me in that moment. The funny thing is, now that I’m approaching my day with a more patient, slowed-down mindset, I feel like I have more time than ever!

I came across a quote this week about patience and kindness that struck me, and I wanted to share it with you: “Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in the one ahead.” -Bill McGlashen, poet & author

What would your life look like with more patience?

The Week 23 Kindness Challenge comes from my wonderful blogger friend Lindsay at The Lean Green Beanand it is to call at least 3 friends and/or family members that you miss on the phone, let them know, and actually talk to them…instead of just texting or emailing!

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!


year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
week 22 challenge: practice a little patience

guest post on AndreaDekker.com!

Hi everyone! I’m excited to share that my guest post “A Random Acts of Kindness Challenge” is being featured on one of my favorite blogs, AndreaDekker.com! In the post I share five easy, inexpensive kind acts that you can do today to brighten the lives of others.


Read it here: http://andreadekker.com/random-acts-of-kindness-challenge/

Happy Friday! Hope you have a lovely day and enjoy the long weekend!

vegan healthier toffee bars

I’m so excited to share a guest recipe post today! This delicious recipe comes from Lisa of Lisa’s Lentils, who I was matched with for March Foodie Pen Pals. {Tune in Monday for a post about the delicious treats she sent me!} Lisa was kind enough to share this recipe with us today. It was originally published on her blog here.


{vegan} healthier toffee bars

  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance spread
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 flax egg {1 tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp warm water}
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup unsifted oat flour
  • 1 dark chocolate bar, crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts {optional}

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place parchment paper in a 9×12 pan.

2. Cream the Earth Balance spread and coconut sugar.

3. Add the flax egg, vanilla, and oat flour and mix well.

4. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan.  Make sure it’s very thin.

5. Bake for 20 minutes.

6. Remove from pan and immediately cover with the chocolate pieces and walnuts.

7. Cut into squares.

8. {Optional} Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Yum, doesn’t that toffee look delicious?? I can’t wait to make this recipe myself this weekend. Thank you Lisa for taking the time to share with us today! And make sure to swing by Lisa’s blog, Lisa’s Lentils, for more healthy and satisfying recipes.

*Are you interested in writing a guest post for Day-by-Day Masterpiece? Feel free to email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com and maybe we can set something up!

marvelous monday guest post: energy-packed peanut-butter breakfast cookies

Just like a calm, organized and productive morning can set a great tone for the rest of your day, a marvelous Monday helps set the tone for a marvelous week! Personally, the more “together” I feel on Monday, the more prepared I feel to tackle all the projects I want to get done over the week. And what better way to start your Monday off on a marvelous note than with a yummy, healthy and energizing breakfast? I’ve got a recipe for you today that I promise will do just that!

I am so excited to share a guest post with you today: a recipe from my wonderful cousin Julie! I tried making these over the weekend and I’m looking forward to eating them for breakfast all week. YUM! ❤

Here’s what Julie has to say about this delicious and healthy recipe:

“I’ve tried many variations on these cookies — by substituting different nuts and dried fruits, adding some shredded coconut, swapping a teaspoon of honey for some of the sugar, etc. — and they always come out delicious! These make a good hearty breakfast, but if you don’t like too much sweetness early in the morning, they are also great as an afternoon snack or a healthy dessert.”

peanut-butter breakfast cookies

{makes one dozen cookies}
– 1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 egg
-1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk
-1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit
-chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and oatmeal to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Beat egg into sugar. Add peanut butter, powdered milk, raisins, and chocolate chips/nuts/oatmeal.

3. Spoon onto greased cookie sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.

You can make the dough ahead of time, keep it refrigerated, and make up as many or as few as you want at one time. {Making the dough the night before and popping a few in the toaster oven in the morning makes for a quick and tasty breakfast!}

Hope you enjoy! And thanks again Julie for sharing this recipe with us today!

Time: 20 minutes {including bake time}

Cost: less than $5.00