Thursday, 31 March 2016

How to make Autism Awareness Month and International Day of Pink Count

How to make Autism Awareness Month and The International Day of Pink Count

I usually associate the month of April with the Easter holiday but Easter came early this year and April is coming tomorrow. As an occasional teacher I try and stay on top of the days that we are called to action, to show outright that we support our students. April is Autism Awareness Month and April 13th is The International Day of Pink to take a stand against bullying, homophobia, and transphobia.

You are probably thinking, "Those are great causes and as a teacher you are probably psyched about it!" Except, that it isn't actually what I feel. Last year on The International Day of Pink I saw students wearing the pink t-shirts and bullying other students thus, telling me that the students are not getting the point. Don't get me wrong, I love the story behind The International Day of Pink (I was in grade 12 for the first one ever) but I do think there are steps that can be taken by teachers and parents to make the day more successful.

Now you are thinking, "Well you are probably going to be decked out in blue on April 2, 2016 for Light it Up Blue, right?" Yes but I won't be supporting Autism Speaks. The Outnumbered Mama does a good job of explaining why she doesn't want people to wear blue for her autistic son (note, she prefers identity language when referring to her son) and why she does not like Autism Speaks. As a teacher, I disagree with SOME of her thoughts on autism awareness and Light it Up Blue day. I see students who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) being left out of so many opportunities with their classmates, I notice school faculty being burnt out on the lack of resources available to help their students with autism, and I see many classmates still not understanding what autism is. So when there is a month dedicated to raising awareness we should embrace this month and fill school halls with support for students with autism. Does that mean the rest of the year we can forget our students with ASD? Absolutely not but we can use April to advocate more strongly for Autism awareness so that people (including politicians who give funding) who don't work with children can learn and be more informed.

Now that I just stated the issues with these days, I do think that there is definitely a need for awareness days in our schools but instead of just wearing a t-shirt, we can actually do things all year long to support these causes:

  • Bullying awareness should be an ongoing practice in every school and classroom. By praising the students who stand up against bullying and dealing with the students who do bully proactively.
  • Creating a community of learners where students feel comfortable and welcome in the classroom environment there will be less bullying.
  • Creating an inclusive environment is huge in helping students feel welcome in the classroom but are your extracurricular programs inclusive? Do you dim the lights in the gym and forgo your whistle so that students with autism can go play floor hockey with their classmates at recess? Do you encourage your students with autism to join in extra-curriculars?
  • Sharing stories throughout the year of students from varying backgrounds, abilities, and of children who challenge gender norms can help teach students that just because people are different does not mean they should be treated differently. 
  • Create activities that are inclusive out on the yard at recess so that students with ASD are able to play with their classmates.
  • Have stories in your classroom library that include children with ASD or children who challenge gender norms.
  • On Pink Day, discuss with your class the different incidences of positive things and bullying they have witnessed throughout the school and how it made them feel. By saying it aloud it will show the class how their peers like to be treated and how they don't like to be treated. 

Can you add to this list on how to make Autism Awareness Month and The International Day of Pink more successful? Leave a suggestion in the comments. Let me know if you will be participating in these awareness days and how you are going to make it more successful! If you like this post and want to see more posts like it, follow me on bloglovin' and you won't miss a post!

Xo. Tara Berries

Tuesday, 29 March 2016


Easter weekend has passed and I am feeling bloated! We had our dinner on the Monday of the long weekend as everyone had it off in my family. My sister and brother-in-law make a delicious meal every year and I enjoyed it immensely this time around. However, I also enjoyed a roast beef dinner and some chocolate and baked goods on the Saturday and Sunday of the long weekend. Naturally, I am feeling bloated and mad at myself for making such terrible food choices over the long weekend.

Here are some steps I am taking after a the Long Weekend Binge.

1. Drink lots of water and some tea. Drinking water helps me to feel less bloated so it is an obvious essential when recovering from a weekend of eating unhealthy foods. I also like to drink a little bit of herbal tea (non-caffeinated). I know it isn't Christmas but my favourite tea from David's Tea is Sleigh Ride. I make it up and sip on it while reading blog posts.

2. Eat Breakfast. I know it can seem like a bad idea to eat breakfast the day after a long weekend of eating a lot but by not eating breakfast I could mess up my metabolism and I am more likely to eat more at other points in the day. So a breakfast that includes fruit and a poached egg is what I ate this morning.

3. Go for a walk. Walking takes away the stress I might feel from overeating but it also helps me to feel less bloated. I went for a walk to my local park and it felt great to be outside in the sunshine and when I came back I felt better than when I woke up in the morning.

4. Plan healthy meals for the rest of the week. I know when I take action to be healthier I already feel like I am making the right choices. By planning out my meals I feel excited about the week to come and it takes my mind off of the bad choices I made over the weekend.

5. Be kind to yourself. Everyone is human and Easter is a great weekend to be with family and enjoy oneself. I know I enjoyed myself this weekend and that is what matters. As long as I am eating healthy most of the time I am allowed these weekends of indulgence.

What are some ways you take care of yourself after a long weekend of binge eating? I hope everyone had a Happy Easter Weekend!

Xo. Tara Berries

Saturday, 26 March 2016


Have you been hit by the Pinterest design bug? I know I have. Although I do not own a home yet, I do like to help decorate my room and my mom's house. At Christmas time I got a FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera and knew I would need something to do with the pictures I took.

 I remember seeing this post on Pinterest and knew I had to find a frame with clothes pegs. At first I thought I would have to get twine and staple it onto an old picture frame. However, while I was at Home Sense I found a picture frame that had a corkboard base and wire and clothespins attached so it was the perfect frame I was looking for. I just hung it up over my bed and now when I have fun events with friends and family, I can add the polaroid photos to this cool frame! I love the rustic look of the frame and think it is so neat and unique to have in my bedroom. 

Do you own a FujiFilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera? If so, are there any projects that you use with the polaroids you take? I would like to know some more DIY projects I can do with my Polaroids. If you want more posts like this, follow me on bloglovin'. 
Xo. Tara Berries

Friday, 25 March 2016

Five Reasons Why You Should Start a Journal

5 Reasons Why You Should Start a Journal

1. Journaling is a great way to document important life events. I consider myself to be a very nostalgic person so having important events in my life recorded gives me that nostalgic feeling when reading my journal. For instance, I wrote in my journal the day I had to put my cat down in university and whenever I remember my cat I am able to go back and read about her in that journal entry.

2. Journaling allows you to be creative. When I was in school I always had ways to be creative whether it was writing creatively or creating a cool project. Now that I am older and I work with kids I do get to be creative but it isn't always personal. With journaling, it gives me time out of my day to be creative. If you are looking for inspiration, the journaling junkie has a monthly journal challenge to get you writing about all sorts of things! 

3. Journaling holds me accountable. If I write in my journal about plans in the future I feel I have to at least attempt them. I do not want to be forty-years-old and reading a journal from when I was in my twenties about all of these unfulfilled plans I had. If I write about something I am more likely to commit to doing it.

4. Journals give me a place to rant. We have all encountered that uncomfortable Facebook rant by someone complaining of a failed friendship or relationship. Social media outlets are often not the place to post personal rants but sometimes I can be so upset at a friend and have no place to vent to. This is where my journal comes in, I write the problem down and what bothered me about it. I try and come up with a solution and usually by the time I have written the entry, I feel much better about the problem and am already putting it behind me. 

5. Journaling is fun. There is no right or wrong way to journal. Bullet journals are popular but I almost consider them to be a planner like journal and not so much a creative writing tool. Bullet journals can be a creative outlet too though, just not for writing prompts.. I highly suggest you give journaling a try if you have never done so and if you have put journaling aside since you were a child, try it again. 

Do you have a journal? Let me know why you like to journal so much. You can also leave any creative journal prompts in the comments below! 

Xo. Tara Berries

Monday, 21 March 2016


What are Charmed Aroma Candles?

If you are a young adult female who uses social media you will have likely encountered a picture, video, or advertisement of a candle that comes with a ring in it. These candles are made by Charmed Aroma. Charmed Aroma makes soy based candles which means they are better for your home than brands like Yankee Candle or Bath & Body Works.  You burn the candle and somewhere in the candle is a ring wrapped in tin foil. When you see the tin foil, use tweezers to take out the ring and clean it off to open it and find your ring. 

Are Charmed Aroma Candles Worth It?

I ordered two Charmed Aroma Candles, the Velvet Peach and Vanilla Crepe scents. Both candles were $26.99 CAN and I searched for a 10% off discount code on Google and found one on I received the candles a lot sooner than the company predicted which was also a bonus. Soy candles burn longer than regular candles and I loved how the scent was in the air but it wasn't overwhelming. I find with Yankee Candles their scent when burned is almost nonexistent and Bath & Body Works candles are too strong so Charmed Aroma was the perfect in between the two extremes. The price for the candles was around what I would spend on a Yankee Candle so definitely an affordable gift or a treat for yourself. The best part about the candle is the ring inside. 

The ring can be appraised anywhere from $10-$5000 and they have released a $6000 ring you can win as well.  Even if you receive a $10 ring, you still received a beautiful candle and a ring to wear for the same price as a candle that isn't soy based and you wouldn't have received a ring. I will definitely repurchase Charmed Aroma Candles because they are a nice candle and a fun concept. I love my solitaire ring and I can't wait to start collecting more. 

If you have ordered from Charmed Aroma, let me know what your thoughts are on the candles in the comments. Also, if you have any questions about my Charmed Aroma experience, leave it in the comments and I will answer them! Also, if you would like more reviews like this follow me on bloglovin'

xo. Tara Berries

Sunday, 20 March 2016

March Break Madness | Tara Berries

March Break this year was very busy as I worked in the pre-school room all week and our programming was on point! Almost every March Break, whether I have it off or not, I usually make plans with my best friend Dale. Dale lives in Toronto and I live East of Toronto so visiting him is fairly easy. One year we went to Snakes and Lattes, a game cafe, another year we saw Chicago the Musical, last year we went to Casa Loma, and this year we chilled out and tried some different restaurants/bars.

Friday I was able to leave early from work (a lot of our children's parents are teachers and they kept their kids home or went on vacation for the week) so I was able to get on the Go Train at a decent time. I met up with Dale and we headed to his apartment to drop off my overnight bag.

I have heard a lot of people talk about eating Ramen, a Japanese soup with ramen noodles and I had suggested trying it out. Dale took me to Sansotei on Dundas Street. We met up with Dale's friend Isaac for this part of the night and it was delicious!

I thought the flavours blended together in the bowl really well and surprisingly the boiled egg was good. I loved the bean sprouts in the soup and I would definitely go back here again. While eating dinner we were deciding what to do afterwards. We were going to go to The Lockhart but I didn't want to wait in a lineup which I assumed there would be one on a Friday night. Isaac brought up the idea of going to a small bar with a live band and I was all for it! We picked a bar in the village called Statlers and as soon as we walked in Dale said, "the guy on the piano is amazing!" There was a girl singing, a guy on the piano, and another guy playing guitar and they asked us if we had any requests. Dale asked if they could do a musical song and they ended up asking multiple people what their favourite musical was and they created a medley of each of our favourite musicals. Such a great night!

The next day was Saturday so we were able to sleep in and relax a little. Dale loves breakfast and one of my favourite things he does when I come down is to take me out to a different breakfast place. This time Dale took me to Fran's, a diner with an old-fashioned feel. I ordered the corn beef hash which was amazing! After that, we did some shopping and I got to check out H&M Home which was pretty neat. 

Saturday was also Earth Hour so we wanted to go to the One Eighty around 8:30 for drinks. The One Eighty is a restaurant on the top of the Manulife Financial building and is surrounded by windows and has a balcony. We could see most of the city including the CN Tower so we could view the buildings that turned off their lights.

 We ordered fancy cocktails and shared some fish tacos. The whole experience was really nice and I enjoyed myself so much. After we left The One Eighty I headed home by catching the Go Train. 

Since my March Break was super busy with work and going to Toronto, I took my nephews to Purple Woods on the last Sunday morning before March Break was over. Purple Woods is a conservation area in Durham Region and they were hosting their Maple Syrup Festival. There was so many neat activities to educate my nephews on how maple syrup is made. We finished the morning by eating pancakes of course!

That was my great weekend which ended my March Break! Let me know if you have been to any of the places I visited and what you thought!

xo. Tara

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


Teaching is my career passion and I love every moment of it. Currently I find myself in a competitive job market where supply teaching is a great way to get experience. I actually quite enjoy supplying in different schools and classes and will be doing it for the foreseeable future. When you are a supply teacher there is a level of last minute rushing around and not a whole lot of planning time so being prepared for anything to be thrown your way is very important. Having a prepared bag with all of the things you might need for a last minute phone call will help you greatly. Another supply teacher friend of mine jokes that we are like bag ladies with all the bags we have to carry: purse, supply teaching bag, and lunch tote.

What's in my Supply Teacher Bag?

  • A Binder with pre-made lesson plans geared toward the different grades I am able to teach
  • A whistle for physical education, DPA, and sometimes recess time. I would like to invest in a "sqwhistle" for next year.
  • A pencil case which carries pens, pencils, whiteboard markers, and permanent markers.
  • Stickers
  • A goodies bag for students who are caught being good.
  • Post-it notes to put on activity sheets that are handed in.
  • A notepad to leave a note for the teacher
  • A reusable water bottle that I fill each morning because I do a lot of talking throughout the day.
  • One or two unique stories (ones you won't likely find the teacher's library) that you can read to the class when there is a moment of spare time you need to fill.

What's in my Supply Teaching Binder?

My supply teaching binder is rarely used as most teachers have the day planned for you but it is always good to be prepared for those calls where the teacher does not have plans for you. Having a binder with some lesson plans that can be given based on division (primary, junior, intermediate) will be a major help. Also, I sometimes use a notepad for a little note to the teacher but lately I have been using this printable sheet by teachingrocks. The form is concise and allows me to put the main things I need to write to the teacher. I always leave my e-mail address for the teacher to message me if they have any questions or concerns.

That is what is in my Supply Teaching Bag. If you would like me to go into what activities I have up my sleeve in case of emergencies, let me know in the comments. I can also go into more detail of what a supply teaching day looks like for me. Let me know what is in your supply teaching bag in the comments below! If you are interested in more Supply Teaching blog posts, follow me on bloglovin'

Xo. Tara Berries.

Saturday, 12 March 2016



What are Jamberry Nail Wraps?
Jamberry nail wraps are a unique alternative to spending money and time on manicures. These wraps are heat and pressure activated and can be applied using either a blow dryer or a Jamberry Mini-Heater. I purchased the Mini-Heater as I find that blow dryers can use too much hot air and the Mini-Heater is just right. There are over 300 different designs to choose from, all of which are on the website

How do I purchase Jamberry Nail Wraps?

You can order the Jamberry nail wraps directly online or through a Jamberry Consultant which is the route I chose. My Jamberry consultant is a co-worker of mine and showed me everything I needed to know about Jamberry nail wraps and even showed me how to put a wrap on myself. I highly recommend going through this route if there are consultants in your area or who you know as they have the answers to most of your questions.

How do I put Jamberry Wraps on?

You may be looking at the nail wraps and thinking, "This looks complicated and not for me." Trust me, Jamberry nail wraps are EASY to apply when given the proper amount of time and patience. The first time I did my Jamberry nail wraps it took me a half hour which is a lot shorter than getting my nails done or doing it myself. There is no drying time to Jamberry Nail Wraps. Instructions can be found on the web-site or on the nail wrap package when you receive your order. 

  • First wash your hands with soap and water and be sure to dry them afterwards.
  • Push back cuticles with an orange stick.
  • Match the finger nail to the nail wrap that best fits the nail (best to leave a bit of space between wrap and skin). 
  • Cut out the nail wrap and cut it in half. 
  • Peel the the half nail wrap off and stick it onto an orange stick, then hold up to a Mini-Heater/blow dryer for 2-3 seconds.
  • Then stick the nail wrap (curved side down) onto your nail and press firmly. 
  • Trim the nail wrap using scissors and file any extra nail wrap off.
  • Apply heat one last time for 2-3 seconds and move onto the next nail. 
Why are Jamberry Nail Wraps better than getting a manicure or using nail polish at home?

Jamberry Nail Wraps are said to last up to two weeks on your nails, that is longer than any manicure I have had. They also don't damage your nails when applied correctly and are a faster alternative as they can be done at home and don't have the drying time that nail polish does. Also, there are no harsh fumes when using Jamberry nail wraps which is an added bonus.

How to Remove Jamberry Nail Wraps:

Using the Jamberry Mini-Heater or a blow dryer, blow dry your nails for 15 seconds. Then break the seal using an orange stick and and slowly peel the wrap off of your nail. You can also soak each hand with nail polish remover and cotton pads. The longer you soak your nails the easier the wrap will come off. 

If you have any more questions about Jamberry Nail Wraps, leave a comment below.

Xoxo, Tara

Thursday, 10 March 2016


Rustic Blueberry Baked Oatmeal:

Oatmeal has always been a comfort food. Whenever I eat it I am reminded of the early mornings when my mom would wake me up and make me a bowl of oatmeal before dropping me off at daycare. The taste of brown sugar or maple syrup on my oatmeal makes me think of eating oatmeal at restaurants and my mom and I just being in heaven. Now I try to make my oatmeal a little more healthier and only add in a tiny amount of brown sugar or maple syrup (everything is good in moderation, right?). So when I found my old ramekin (a single serving bowl that can be baked in the oven) I knew I had to try baking my oatmeal because normally I have only boiled it.


The result of baking my oatmeal turned out to be delicious. All the flavours added into the recipe made it the most delicious and healthy breakfast I have had in awhile (I've been eating a lot of toast lately). The only way I can describe the taste is by comparing it to dipping an already very soft oatmeal cookie into a cup of milk and then eating it. This recipe is definitely being added to my morning go-to. If you want you can make this ahead of time and then bake it when you are ready.

Try this recipe out and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Happy baking,

Monday, 7 March 2016


Book Title: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) 
Author: Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Mulholland Books

Pages: 497
Rating: 5/5 Stars *****


I am a huge Harry Potter fan so when Jo Rowling wrote a murder mystery series under a pseudonym, I knew I would be instantly hooked. I have read all three of the Cormoran Strike novels and loved them all. The series focuses on a private detective named, you guessed it, Cormoran Strike. After serving in the line of duty in Afghanistan, Cormoran starts his own private detective business and hires a temporary secretary named Robyn who ends up being his partner when it comes to solving cases.

In Career of Evil Cormoran's past history in the military, his mother's history of being a groupie for lousy bands, and his label as a famous amputee all come into play as body parts are sent to his office anonymously. Using Cormoran's knowledge of past acquaintances, Robyn and Cormoran start to unravel the mystery of who is sending the body parts.

A murder mystery alone would just be too simple, Galbraith brings in two main characters who are destined to be star-crossed lovers. Robyn's detective work still seems to be a source of contention to her fiance, Matthew. As Robyn plans her wedding she struggles with whether marrying Matthew is the right thing while obviously contemplating every move Cormoran makes. 

As the reader of the murder mystery I was constantly enthralled in the thick of it. The book kept me guessing and on my toes throughout the whole read. The London city life narrative is one I find so interesting and appealing to read and so is the changing point of views. Robyn is a very strong and independent character and she goes through a lot in this novel and I am constantly routing for a happy ending in her case. 

I greatly missed Cormoran's visits with his sister in this novel. I feel like his sister annoys him a lot and that bothers me as she is one of few people who care for his well-being. I also think reading about his sister makes Cormoran seem more relatable.

Overall, Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith was a thrilling read that kept me interested all the way through and added to the characters I so greatly love. I rate the novel 5/5 stars as it was well written, interesting throughout, and left me wanting more. 

If you have ready any or all of the Cormoran Strike novels, leave a comment letting me know what you thought!

Don't forget to be awesome,


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Fit Girls Guide 28 Day Jumpstart Review | Taraberries

Like most people, I made it my goal for 2016 to get healthier. I am in a wedding this summer and one fall of 2017 and I want to feel my absolute best. I have found it daunting but I will say that I have completed the Fit Girls Guide 28 Day Jumpstart and I am here to review it for you!

What is the Fit Girls Guide 28 Day Jump Start?

The Fit Girls Guide 28 Day Day Jumpstart was created by Fit Girls Guide which is a website company that has 3 fitness guides and one detox guide as well as a cookbook. The beginner's level guide is the Fit Girls 28 Day Jumpstart, the intermediate guide is the Fit Girls Fitkini Body Challenge, and the advanced guide is the Fit Girls Boot Camp. This blog post is focusing on the 28 Day Jumpstart as that is the only one I have participated in.

There is a fee to purchase the books for each fitness challenge online and they are compatible for the iPhone and Android system. The 28 Day Jumpstart comes with a meal plan that focuses on clean eating and a workout plan that focuses on 30 minute workouts you can do at home with no equipment.
What is the Meal Plan Like?

The meal plan is delicious and you can totally make it work for you. They have vegetarian and gluten free options as well other options for if you just don't like the meal they want you to cook. The way the meal plan works is that they have weekly lists of breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices that when you meal prep, you can cut down on time. They also give you lots of healthy snack choices as well. I never felt hungry and all of the meals were delicious. One of the meals were lasagna rolls but they wanted you to add canned pumpkin and I was just not having it. Instead I used light ricotta cheese and a lot of spinach and they were delicious! If you look at the meal plan and see a lot of meals you probably won't eat, they have a Fit Girls Cook Book as well. Any of the meals in the cook book can be swapped with a meal in the 28 Day Jumpstart. The 28 Day Jumpstart encourages you to drink 8 glasses of water a day which is something I struggle with.

Get Fun and Fancy on Instagram

The best part of the Fit Girls Guide 28 Day Jumpstart is the awesome Instagram community you will have at your fingertips. Each month a new challenge starts where you are beginning with a bunch of other girls who are starting or doing the challenge again and they all encourage each other. There are photo challenges (do you like my Valentine's Day inspired Doughettes?), style challenges, and even reading challenges. Fit Girls Guide encourages you to have a separate Firgirl account (add me: fitgirltaralee) and if you want to participate in the challenges in order to be eligible for fun prizes you need a public account (mine is not due to career purposes) but you don't have to participate in the monthly challenges or have a public account on instagram to still have fun with Fir Girls Guide.

What are the Workouts Like?

The 28 Day Jumpstart challenge is really just that, a guide to jumpstarting your fitness so if you are already a gym rat or a daily runner you might want to try the Fitkini Body Challenge or the Fit Girls Guide Boot Camp challenge (fun fact, the Fitkini Body Challenge is also a 28 Day challenge and you can participate in the same monthly challenges when doing either the 28 Day Jump Start or the Fitkini Challenge). For the 28 Day Jumpstart they give you a printable workout sheet where each day there is a strength training workout for you to do (along with a warm-up and stretching) and one day of cardio. If you don't reach the 30 minutes of working out by doing the strength training workouts the guide encourages you to dance around to music, go for a walk etc...until you have met the 30 minute mark. The best part about the 28 Day Challenge is that you literally need NO equipment (if you don't have a yoga mat, use a towel).

Overall Thoughts:

I have completed one challenge and sadly failed my second challenge (I was injured and sick). I am definitely going to join the March 14th challenge and try, try again. I love how Fit Girls Guide makes the 28 days so much fun and really, the food is delicious. When we live in such a convenient world, it is nice to create clean healthy meals for yourself each and everyday. I also am very body positive and I was a little worried when I saw they have a Fitkini Body Challenge but Fit Girls Guide states that if you want a bikini body, put a bikini on your body. They are very body positive and so is the community. So if you are looking at changing your eating habits or starting a workout routine, I highly recommend the Fir Girls Guide 28 Day Jumpstart.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments!
xo. Tara