Chicken & dumplings (recipe)

November 25, 2013

A friend was asking for dinner ideas and when I said “chicken & dumplings” she said she always messed them up, so I wrote this for her:

Dumplings (the way we make them in Vermont, anyhow, not the noodley ones they make in some other places) are easy! 2 cups bisquick or jiffy mix (I use the Aldi brand) plus one cup quick oats and 1 cup milk and drop that biscuity mix onto gently boiling broth-y stuff. Yesterday I only put one chicken breast, cut up, with lots of fresh & frozen veggies (cook/saute (cut up) 3 stalks of celery, 3 carrots, 1 zucchini, some corn & peas), some basil & italian seasonings, garlic & pepper, with 1 of those boxes of chicken broth. Make it in a WIDE lowish pan so you can fit all the dumplings across the top. Drop by spoonfuls, cover, turn down to simmer for 12 minutes.


Katniss-inspired cowl-sweater-thing from “Catching Fire”

November 25, 2013

I went to see “Catching Fire” with my kids (after, of course, having read the books) and in the very first scene, Katniss is wearing this very cool cowl-thing in the woods with Gale.  As soon as I saw it I wanted one.  This is one of the problems with being a knitter, crocheter, spinner, sew-er.  I get distracted in movies by their cool clothing and accessories sometimes!  (Nanny McPhee, Harry Potter, etc)


In the morning I started looking online and discovered that the ACTUAL thing is handwoven, but that did not deter me.  I found LollyKnits version, but I decided I would rather crochet it, because, honestly, I was in a big hurry.  So I kept looking and found Cogaroo’s crochet version.  Yay!

Of course I changed it.  I always change everything.  And I posted on Ravelry, which is shocking, because I am normally extremely lazy about that, too. 
If you aren’t on Ravelry, I’ll copy most of my comments right here:

Thanks so much to Cogaroo for this! I used 45 stitches chained, joined, sc for the cowl, 8 rounds then 2 rounds dc. {I used a bigger hook on mine than she used, so it went quite fast–I got the whole thing done in one day, with other things in my day, too, but working fairly obsessively for at least a few hours}

For the body, I started doing the herringbone hdc but I was too lazy, so I used a hdc with the hhdc2tog decreases. My triangles were 37 stitches on the long/starting edge.

I went back around the armhole with sc edging at the end.

I used parts of 5 different skeins of yarn (Wool Ease Thick & Quick–two skeins of oatmeal, part of a skein of a brown heathery one; parts of skeins of LB Hometown in cream, brown with flecks and cream with flecks). I meant to weigh the finished piece to get a better idea of exactly how much yarn I used, but didn’t yet.

Cogaroo has a fun little drawing on her site that made this easier to understand and to assemble. The long cross-body cream colored side of the triangle is the cast-on/chain edge, and then you decrease on each end of each row until you get to the point. For the front piece and the back piece.

I actually made the cowl part first, then the body parts, but if you are nervous about running out of yarn, I would do the cowl last, because you could have a shorter or longer cowl, but it would be dumb if you ran out of yarn in the middle of a triangle. ;p


Ordering with Scholastic Book Clubs

October 16, 2013

Ordering with Scholastic Book Clubs

Shop Online:

One-Time Class Activation Code: GKGBT


Dear Families,


Encouraging reading is one of the most important things we can do to help your child succeed. It can be tough finding the right books to keep them interested, which is why I am so excited that our library will be participating in Scholastic Reading Club this school year.


With Scholastic Reading Club:

  • Every book you buy earns FREE Books for our  library
  • You can choose from handpicked, grade- and reading-level-specific books for your child
  • You’ll find the best values on a variety of formats, including eBooks

Each month, your child will find Reading Club flyers in the library. Together you can choose from books hand-selected by teachers and experts, and then order online or by returning your order form and payment to me.



Thank you for your support,


April Diamond/ Library Media Specialist


If This Is Your First Time Ordering Online:

  •  REGISTER at
  •  ENTER the Class Activation Code at the top of this letter
  •  CHOOSE from thousands of print titles, value packs, and Storia eBooks
  •  SUBMIT the order to me by the due date listed on the website

 EARN FREE Books for our library too!

WVDE Accountability

September 11, 2013

Check out “My Schools Performance” from the WV Department of Education to see how our schools rank under the new accountability system.

Cabell schools’ scores mixed in state test

September 04, 2013 @ 11:00 PM


The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Two of Cabell County’s 26 schools achieved the highest ranking, Success, in West Virginia’s new accountability system based on student results on the WESTEST 2.

Fourteen others received the second-highest designation, Transition, meaning they met one of two overall standards in the plan put forth by state education officials after receiving a waiver from the federal government on the No Child Left Behind regulations.

The data released Wednesday by the West Virginia Department of Education revealed that 435 schools in the state were in one those two categories, while 217 others — including 10 in Cabell County — need additional support on both the local and state level.

Those schools fall into one of three categories — Focus, Support or Priority schools — all of which signify a school has work to do and, in some cases, means state education officials make a diagnostic visit and assist with an improvement plan.

State officials said that is what the new system was created for — to better identify which schools and students need the most help. According to a news release from the state Department of Education, the new accountability system “more effectively identifies struggling schools, provides individual student growth data, better directs resources to struggling schools and recognizes schools that are doing well.”

“We truly believe it gives more accurate information about students,” spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said. “It’s no longer just pass or fail like it was under No Child Left Behind.”

Under the new accountability system, schools and students receive a score for factors such as whether students are meeting grade level expectations, how much a school has closed its achievement gap between groups of students, and how much students are improving academically no matter their current level of performance.

The 184 Success schools — including Ona and Nichols elementary schools in Cabell County and 23 others in Wayne, Lincoln, Putnam and Mason counties — earned that distinction because a majority of their students met annual academic goals in math and English/language arts while also reaching goals in attendance or graduation rates, student academic growth, student success on the WESTEST 2 and learning gaps between student groups.

A Transition school is one that meets either the academic goals in math and English/language arts or all of the latter standards.

Cordeiro said the new system significantly improves upon the “adequate yearly progress” benchmark system under No Child Left Behind because subgroups, if not large enough, could perform poorly at a school. But if there were enough students who reached the pre-set proficiency marks, the school was still rewarded with a “met AYP” designation.

“So, a school making AYP might have a whole student group that hasn’t shown growth or proficiency,” she said. “It was like that group of kids got lost in the shuffle.”

She said the new system and the data it provides allow teachers and principals to create targeted improvement plans. In addition, poorly performing schools will receive help from the state department, Cordeiro said.

In Cabell County, that means the 14 Transition schools will complete a targeted strategic plan and be monitored occasionally for progress. The school system can also partner with the Regional Education Service Agency and others to provide professional development, technical assistance and intervention. Schools also must show progress in student achievement each year to maintain or improve the designation.

The two schools that were pegged as Success schools — Nichols and Ona elementary schools — must continue to make progress to maintain the designation.

“We are encouraged by it,” said Cabell County Assistant Superintendent Jeff Smith on the number of Success and Transition schools. “We have a plan to work with all our schools to develop strategic plans in the coming year.”

Cabell County’s four Focus schools include Southside Elementary, Barboursville Middle, Huntington Middle and Cabell Midland High School. That designation means learning gaps based on academic progress between student groups were too large. In high schools, it means the graduation gap was too large.

Those schools will receive help from a Focus Assistance Support Team made up of staff with school-level expertise related to each student group, with members from the local, regional and state level.

These schools also will implement the West Virginia School Improvement Framework, which includes a diagnostic visit and report and improvement plan.

Cabell County also has four Support schools, which include Highlawn, Spring Hill and Central City elementary schools and Huntington High School.

Support designation means a majority of student groups have not met the annual academic goals in math and English/language arts and also have not reached goals in attendance or graduation rates, student academic growth, student success on WESTEST 2, and learning gaps between student groups. The school will receive additional support, mainly from the local school district.

Cabell’s Priority schools include Peyton Elementary and Enslow Middle. Enslow no longer exists because it consolidated with Beverly Hills to create Huntington East Middle. But the new student body will still be closely monitored.

Peyton already has received a site visit from the state and an improvement plan is being developed. In addition, a school improvement coordinator will be assigned to the school.

Statewide, the data showed:

From 2012 to 2013, the number of students who met the proficiency mark on the WESTEST 2 decreased.

Data indicate that West Virginia students are not closing the gap fast enough to meet national expectations.

Of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in math, 73 percent showed no academic improvement.

Of the students who did not meet proficiency rates in reading, 68 percent showed no academic improvement.

“It is important for our schools to understand that the new accountability system is not about comparing one school to another,” state Superintendent James Phares said. “The system is about keeping your eye on the finishing line despite where a student starts and moving that individual student forward to proficiency.”

Individual school information is available at

The information includes scores for each school based on the number of students at grade level expectations (proficiency), how much the school has closed its achievement gap between groups of students (achievement gaps closed), how much students are improving no matter where they start (observed growth), how close students are from reaching their grade level expectations (adequate growth) and attendance rates.

9-7-13 Cross Country kudos

September 11, 2013

Congratulations to both our Cross Country teams this Saturday morning (9/-7-13)!!! Girls came in 3rd and boys came in 5th. This is a big accomplishment for us. Thank you parents for the tents, signs, snacks, Gatorade, rides and everything else. Go eagles!!!

Fall 2013 Scholastic Book Fair

September 11, 2013

The Scholastic Book Fair is coming to Huntington Middle School the week of September 16th – 20th. Please let me know if you can volunteer a few hours of your time during the school day to help. Get in touch with Lisa Ketchum if you can work/volunteer, especially Thursday from 11:30-3 pm

Afterschool tutoring & late bus

September 11, 2013

If you have students who would come to an after school tutor, please make Mr Brison aware of the need/viability. There is a posting to get one right now (afterschool/recovery tutor) several days a week. If there is enough demand, we might get more than one. There are plans to perhaps get a late bus (4:05) for kids who stay for tutoring, activities, etc.

Really.  Call or email him and let him know if your child would take advantage of these things!

Oct 8, 2013 next HMS PTA meeting

September 11, 2013

Next HMS PTA meeting will be Tuesday Oct 8 from 6-7 pm

Caught Being Good (9/3/13)

September 11, 2013

Last week Zadokite Wood was drawn to get a little prize for “Caught Being Good”! Yay! Also nominated were Christie Robbins and Ali Weidenhammer (sp?). Good job girls! It Does Matter how you act, what you say…

Banana-sweetened oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (recipe)

February 22, 2013

ALWAYS want cookies but have been listening to programs on NPR about the dangers of sugar. Ack! (Dr. Robert Lustig on Diane Rehm Show)

The sugar is apparently not so bad for you when it is “packaged” with the fiber and stuff it came with in the fruit, so bananas seemed like a good substitute.  When I looked up recipes online for cookies without added sugar and cookies with bananas, many of them have other “weird” things in them that I don’t have easy access to (without ordering ingredients from the internet) or other substitutes that I don’t want to use (agave syrup, which another article says is bad for you, sheesh;  or splenda, which nobody really knows about yet).  Anyhow, tried these and they were pretty darned good.  Yay!  I am sure that they would be healthier if I left out the chocolate chips, which have more sugar in them, but that would make me want to cry…!

This is my adaptation of my FAVORITE cookies. The recipe is the one from the 1970’s era box of Quaker Oats, with some changes.  I often put dried cranberries in the “original” cookies, but I haven’t tried that with the mashed banana yet.



1 stick melted butter

1/4 c canola oil

3 mashed ripe bananas (this replaces 1 c brown sugar and 1/2 c white sugar in the original recipe)

2 eggs (this replaces 1 egg plus 1/4 c water)

1/4 t. nutmeg

1-2 t. cinnamon

1 t. vanilla

3 cup oatmeal (I used quick oats)

1 c flour

1 t. salt

1/2 t. baking soda

Mix up in the order given.  Add 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Mix and scoop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree preheated oven about 12-15 minutes. About 3 dozen cookies.