Cooking · Fitness · Teaching

The more you read, the more things you’ll know, The more you learn, the more places you’ll go!

Since I am a teacher, I couldn’t help starting this post with a Dr. Seuss quote! I absolutely loved reading when I was younger. In fact, my sisters and I loved it so much that was often how we got in trouble. “No reading for the rest of the day,” or “The next time we’re at the library, you’re not going to be allowed to get any library books” were common phrases heard in our house growing up. I know that’s probably a little unheard of- teachers are usually ecstatic if students just read for the required 20 minutes every night, let alone choose to read on a daily basis for fun. I am blessed to have a mother that fostered a love of reading in my sisters and I at such an early age. During my high school and college years, my reading revolved around academic textbooks, and I rarely had time to read anything just because. These past few months, I’ve started to read again (one of my new years resolutions is to read more!) Reading gives me a chance to sit down and relax; my personality is one where I always feel like I have to be doing the next thing or working on something, so it’s been good for me to stop and reflect more often. Here are some of the things I’ve been reading lately:

Food Babe

I just found this healthy living blogger’s website and am loving it. Check it out here! I started reading it when I woke up on this snow day at 5:30 and couldn’t stop! She has so many interesting, yet controversial, topics on her blog. She doesn’t mess around- she tells you exactly what is in the food that we’re eating. According to her website, she provides information on “how it (food) is grown, what chemicals are used in its production, and what eating food does or doesn’t do for the body.” She’s reviewed many famous food chains and restaurants, even convincing several businesses to change their ingredients to provide healthier options. She convinced Chipotle to post their ingredients online, successfully met with executives at Chick-Fil-A and got the company to reduce the sodium content in their soup, remove the artificial colors from multiple sauces, and agree to become antibiotic-free within the next 5 years. I’ve made her Healthy Holiday Granola recipe several times so far and loved it! Next on my list to try: drinking warm Lemon water with cayenne pepper in the mornings. Apparently I will have clearer skin, more energy, a faster metabolism, and get sick less. What’s not to love about that?! I’m not sure how that will taste, but I’ll keep you posted!

Peanut Butter Fingers

It’s no secret this blog is one of my all-time favorites; I’ve linked to her recipes and posts several times before. I’ve been following her blog for over a year now and look forward to reading her new posts each day! Peanut Butter Fingers is also a healthy living blog; she shares workouts, recipes, and her life through pictures. She is such an inspiration to me- several times I have tried different things or products just because she wrote about them! I’ve read her blog for so long, I feel like I know her! Too bad she lives in Florida, or I’m sure we’d be best friends Smile

Oh She Glows

Oh She Glows is another one of my favorites! She posts vegan and/or vegetarian recipes; many are gluten-free or nut-free as well. I actually just made one of her recipes today- a snow day is the perfect time to bake. Enter Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies here. So good!

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I also made another one of her recipes later in the day. Black Bean and Butternut Squash Burritos for dinner! Brown rice, black beans, red pepper, and butternut squash combine to form a flavor-packed, healthy dish. Kick things up a notch with a little cayenne pepper and cumin. Bold, nutritious, filling. Boom. What else could you want? 3-18-14 026

The Top 10 Challenges of Special Education Teachers Article

Just read this article yesterday and loved it!! So often misconceptions exist about Special Education, and this article served as a great reminder to me that my job is just as important as that of Regular Education teachers. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say that teacher’s jobs are so easy, or they have things so easy because they get summers off. This article pointed out several aspects of Special Education that are extremely true and help to understand what Special Educators do on a day-to-day basis. Yes, I have worked on an 80 page IEP before. Isn’t that how you would like to spend your night after work? Yes, I have sent e-mails every day for 2 weeks at the beginning of school and manipulated 75 post-it notes around on the wall, trying to come up with a schedule. A schedule that would meet the needs of all of my students while coordinating with those of General Education teachers, OT, PT, O&M, Guidance, and Speech providers. Yes, I have collected behavioral data on students at 15-minute intervals, modified materials, collaborated with other teachers, and held IEP meetings. But yes, I love what I do!! The rewards far outweigh the challenges. One of my students even made me cry today because he was so sweet! Special Education does not exist without challenges, but I love what I do, and can’t say that enough. Today one of my students told me, “Miss Nelson, whenever I start to get upset, I just think about your kind words and how much you love me. We are just best friends, aren’t we?” Absolutely made my day <3


I’m about halfway through this book, but I’ve really enjoyed reading it so far.


Unstoppable, by Nick Vujicic, tells the story of a man born without arms or legs. He shares the difficulty he experienced growing up, but more importantly, how he was able to overcome that. He travels around the world speaking at conferences on a frequent basis, inspiring others with his faith, persistence, and positive outlook on life. Nick refused to let the challenges he faced determine the course of his life. He instead chose to grow from those difficult times, finding value and meaning in his life. If you need a little encouragement in your life, this is the book for you! I can’t help but feel motivated and inspired every time I read it. It’s so easy to lose perspective sometimes, but taking a step back and reading someone else’s story helps me realize that there are always people on both sides of the spectrum- those who have things easier than you, and those who have things more difficult. He recounts his story and shares how he found purpose in the midst of his hardships. He encourages his readers to identify “whatever it is (in your life) that fulfills you and engages all your gifts and energy.” He also quotes, “Your passion leads you to your purpose, and both are activated when you put your faith in your gifts and share them with the world.” It is the best feeling in the world to read those words, and be able to say that I am doing that at this point in my life. I feel energized, engaged, and fulfilled when I am able to spend time with the children that I have come to know and love. My hope is that if you take time to read his story, you will find that same passion in your life.



I read the book Bittersweet, by Shauna Niequist, over Christmas break. I love the message she offers- “bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet; bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful.” This book goes along perfectly with everything about my job this year. The triumphs, the trials. The sorrows, the successes. The happiness, the hardships. In every situation I have dealt with so far this year, I have grown and learned something from the challenges. If those challenges didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have learned what I have, and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I did. I’ve learned more about who I am this year, and who I want to become. It’s kind of like running- whenever I have a hard run, it makes me appreciate the great runs all the more. Whenever I have a hard run and push through it, I am all the more stronger. I love the ideas she presents and completely agree! We really do need both the bitter and the sweet in life to make life meaningful. Celebrate the successes, and learn and grow from the failures and challenges. She shares how life is bitter and sweet through her personal experiences; writing about her life in short journal entries makes her story easily relatable to my own life. I appreciate the honesty she has; she shares openly from her heart how times in her life have shaped her and how change is not always wanted,  but beneficial if we choose to make it so. I highly recommend this book! I don’t know about you, but I can always use a little motivation in my life. She also has written two other books: Cold Tangerines, and Bread and Wine. I’m definitely adding these to my to-do list soon!

Question of the Day

  • If you are a reader, what have you read lately??

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