Tagxedo Character Traits Activity

I saw a great idea today posted by Becky Lynn Perkins on Pinterest (http://blperkins.blogspot.ca/).  It really inspired me to have my students upload their own images when using Tagxedo instead of using the provided templates.  Tagxedo is one of the choices my students can use for “Book Bingo.”Wonder Tagxedo      They can choose to use it for a story’s setting or for a character’s traits.  But…none of them has ever used their own image.  After seeing Becky’s students projects, I decided I had to figure out how to do it!

Tagxedo doesn’t give much direction.  But once I figured it out, it was easy!

  •  Start by going to the website  http://www.tagxedo.com/
  • You will need an image and the words you want to include.
  • Caution!  This program doesn’t work with Chrome.  They tell you which browser to use.  I just used Explorer.
  • Click the “Start Now’ link.  This will take you to Tagxedo-Creator.
  • Click Load…
  • It gives the option of uploading a document with the words or using a website.  I just typed the words I wanted to use in the box where it says “Enter Text.”
  • It will put your words into a generic shape.  You can play with the colors and fonts.
  • Click “Shape” to upload your image.  I just used Snag-it and captured mine online.  Make sure your image is saved as a .jpg or .png.
  • Now, just “Add Image.”  The program will put your words into the image!
  • Your done and  can print it if you like.  I snagged mine and pasted it into a document.  Then snagged the title from the web and added it to my document as an image.  I tjust yped in the author’s name.
  • This way I can save it as a document!
  • Easy peasy:)

Best Blueberry Pancakes

My family loves blueberry pancakes.  My mother made them when I was a kid using Bisquick and buttermilk.  She would mix the blueberries in with the batter creating a blue batter.   While the were delicious, the blue batter didn’t look very appetizingblueberry pancakesg.   As a young mother, I made them the same way my mother did.  My two older boys didn’t care what they looked like.  The always ate them all without complaint.  By the time my oldest daughter was old enough to voice her disgust with the color, I had been questioning the nutritional content of bisquick and corn syrup.  So I decided to revamp the old recipe to make it better looking and better for us.

I tried making them from scratch with whole wheat flour using an old recipe I dug up somewhere.  The kids enjoyed sifting the flour and helping mix the batter.  They tasted ok, but they were way too much work and created a huge mess.  I need quick and easy in the morning.

I went back to the Bisquick, but I threw in some wheat germ or ground flax seeds to make me feel better.  These were pretty good, but still required eggs and buttermilk and mixing bowls.

Then I found Kodiak Cakes Flapjack mix.  This is made from whole grains and the only thing I need to add is water.  Now, I mix up a big batch in the blender, use what I need for breakfast, and store the blender in the fridge for the next morning’s breakfast.

  • IMG_0943To mix up the batter in the blender, put the water in first.  Then add the powdered mix.  I like mine a little thinner, so I just add a little more water.
  • Make sure your griddle is good and hot!  You don’t want to pour batter on the griddle before it is hot or you will end up with cream colored flapjacks.
  • Getting rid of the icky blue color was an accident.  I forgot to put in the blueberries, and #1 was really irritated.  He grabbed a few and dropped them onto the pancakes I had just IMG_0946poured onto the griddle.  The cooked perfectly and burst open when we cut into the pancakes.  This is the only way we make them now. This method also works well with frozen blueberries!
  • Let them cook until the bubbles on the pancakes pop and the edges get a little dry.
  • Flip them!
  • You know they are cooked through when the start to steam.
  • The tops of the pancakes hide the berries, which makes for a very lovely pancake;)
  • These also freeze well.  Just space them out on a microwave safe plate and cook for about one minute.

Three Visits to Prague

I’ve been to Prague three times now, and each time was very different. The first time I went with a group of college girls and stayed in a hostel. This was a short trip, two nights, tacked on to our study abroad experience in Berlin. The location was perfect! We were steps from the St. Charles Bridge and a short walk from Old Town. There were six of us sharing a room with three bunk beds and one bathroom, but the price was right. Of course, we spent little time in the room so the lack of space wasn’t a big deal. The important thing was the location! We came in late the first day and left early on the third day, so basically we were only there for a single day. Definitely not enough time to see this wonderful city. I was determined to come back when I had more time.

The next year I brought my husband. We rented an apartment in Mala Strana, the “Little Quarter.” Our apartment was at the base of the steep steps leading up to Prague Castle. It was build before Columbus arrived in America! It’s hard for those of us from the USA to wrap our heads around how old the cities in Europe are. It was a beautiful building with plaster walls, windows covered with ancient wooden shutters, a cobbled courtyard and window boxes. But even though it was more than 500 years old, it was warm and cozy and had wifi, a washer/dryer and a terrific bathroom.  Across the street was a medieval bar with period music, servers, and food. It had been open continuously for more than 500 years! We stayed for three days and had a lot more time for exploring this wonderful city. We found the people in Mala Strana, Old Town, and the Prague Castle area to be friendly and helpful. We could almost always find someone that spoke English and had no problem communicating or getting around.

This year I went for four days with my daughter (#3).  I couldn’t find an apartment for our dates in Mala Strana or Old Town, so I rented one in Vinohrady.  It was close to transportation and didn’t seem far from where I had stayed before on the map. But  after arriving I discovered it was a world away! Of course, the apartment itself was very nice, but it was located in a neighborhood made up of old Soviet era building filled with elderly tenants. Stores were close, but almost no one spoke English.  I never came across anyone in the local stores that I could communicate from.  I didn’t realize how difficult it was to communicate.  This hadn’t bee a problem at all during my previous visits.  It was terrible just trying to get around!

I’ve found that countries in western Europe are relatively easy to navigate because the names of streets and buildings can be pronounced or at least visually make sense to someone that speaks English. Czech words are totally unfamiliar and streets are winding, hilly, and narrow. Pařížská, Vodičkova, Křížovnická are just a few of the street names. Many buses don’t have screens so the driver either expects you know where to get off (when you’re coming from the older former Soviet residential areas), or pronounces the names in such a way that it’s hard to even catch what they say.  Streets often don’t have signs, and they don’t run in a grid.  So we would wander a lot.  We muddled through, but wasted hours everyday hunting for places we wanted to visit.

While Prague is a wonderful place to visit, it is important to stay in the tourist area unless you speak Czech!