Platters Bistro and Wine Bar

Ok so the owner of this place is a friend. But that fact doesn’t make my review biaised. Not when it’s Jimmy Chok helming the kitchen and he’s undisputedly talented. I missed the soft opening of Platters, but after hearing everyone else rave about the food, I knew I had to get my (growing) ass there asap. So I gathered a group of 8 makan kakis and made a reservation last Friday.

NOTE: Jimmy Chok’s only going to be there for a limited period (they rotate chefs so the menu’s always different!) so hurry!

Conveniently located at Club Street, the bistro was nicely done up with cozy and casual chic vibes. It’s not a big place, seats maybe around 30 pax max. a bit of a Mediterranean feel to the whole place. Our large group got a whole private corner to ourselves – nice!

True to its name, this bistro serves a variety of platters with nice interesting names. They come in half and full boards. For the record, we ended the night with 5 full boards and a mixed cheese platter. Burp.

My personal favorite was the “Bare Naked Ladies” – hokkaido scallop carpacio served with soy, tuna bean coat (omg this was so good), cheese wrapped with smoked salmon and a nice heap of avocado (yum). Definitely a must-order, the platter itself (see above) looked like a work of art.

B and the guys attacked the “Carnivore”platter with gusto – braised beef ribs with horseradish sauce, roasted honey lamb ribs with pommery mustard and poached pork belly with sweet mustard. I wasn’t in a meaty mood to begin with but those short ribs! They tasted so delicious with the sauce. “Order one more?” B turned to ask. No prizes for guessing what my answer was.

Seafood lovers will love the “Out of the shell” platter – a medley of crayfish with mango salsa, sautéed tiger prawn with garlic parsley, crab meat mayo and (yay) more avocado. The crusty bread served with all these platters were super addictive, I found myself wiping the platter clean of crab mayo sauce (oops).

The last platter we tried was “The farmer’s craft” – Mozzarella, parma ham, truffle mayo, melted gruyere paprika served with gherkins, ricotta and watermelon. To be honest I wasn’t too excited by this platter. Or maybe I was just too stuffed from the earlier platters.

Naturally, we also had tons of wines. I gotta say, the wine prices here are pretty reasonable. Amongst the wines we tried was a Spanish red, 2008 Bodegas Ochoa 8a Mil Gracias Graciano from Navarraand a French white Thierry Germain Domaine des Roches Neuves l'Insolite Saumur Blanc. Both were excellent recommendations (thanks to the Bar manager Flo) and went well with the food.

Damage for 5 full boards, a cheese board and 5 bottles of wine came up to about $100 per person – I don’t know about you but I thought this was good value. Really enjoyable dinner. Thanks for the lovely company, makan kakis!

Who’s keen to join me for my next trip (soon)

Classroom Library Linky Party!

I love peeking inside other classroom libraries!  I pin them constantly on Pinterest and check out rooms every time I'm in another building.  One of my new favorite blogs is having a linky party about classroom libraries.  Come check it out!

Every teacher I talk with has different resources available and varying amount of books.  I try not to get discouraged or too envious about HUGE libraries :)  When I moved to first grade, I did inherit a lot of books and many were purchased by me.  Books are ALWAYS on my wish list!  I have also had help from

Here are my photos.... I do not have a "set library", but rather they are spread out around the room.  I have a small room, so I keep the front half of the room open for large group instruction on the floor and if students want to do their work there.

My "Look Books" (picture books- not leveled).

Portion of leveled readers.

Leveled books, organized by character series.

Non-fiction, not leveled.


Social Studies
I want to see your library, too!  Link up and let me know that you stopped by!  Only a few more hours until Spring Break... hurray!


You would think from the level of excitement i had in my last post that i would have given you answer to the " find out or not ? " question by now. Yes, you would think that. However, the scan that i had been jumping out of my skin excited about didnt go all that well, and my enthusiasm to do an update post completely waned. To fill you in:

I went down Wednesday morning with a full bladder and an over-active, excited mind. I got called in by a sonographer who explained that she was only training in obstetrics, and that she would do the first 20 mins of the scan and a qualified sonographer(QS) would be in to do the rest. That was fine - i dont begrudge anyone the chance to learn so i had no problem with a trainee assisting. She was pretty good - she got the pictures she needed of the babies extremities and told me what she was photographing as she went along, and then she called the QS in. Thats where things kind of went down hill. For the next 45 mins i was poked and prodded ( to the point of hurting in some places ), and treated much like a lab rat: that is, the QS spoke directly to her trainee in technical terms, explaining the best way to get a good picture, how many she should take, different views etc.... but hardly spoke to me. When she did it was once to tell me that my baby has two kidneys ( hooray for that! ) and more than half a dozen times to tell me how difficult/unco-operative/stubborn my baby was being. She didnt bother to explain any of the technical jargon to me, and even when i outrightly asked a question, i didnt get much of an answer. Eventually i just shut down and lie there, like an experimental guinea pig.

As if that wasnt enough, we get to the end of an hour and the QS finally says " You're all done! "... this is despite me having mentioned four times that we would like to find out the gender. So i asked if there was any indication and she sighed, put the probe back on my stomach and said " I'm very sorry but bubby is lying with the cord between its legs, i cant see anything so i wouldnt like to hazard a guess " and then proceeded to hand me some paper towel and telling me i could clean myself up when i was ready. I near about burst into tears right there on the bed - after all the poking and prodding, all the second and third and fourth attempts to get the pictures they needed, she wouldnt even try to get a look at something i was interested in. I felt like she was telling me that what i cared about wasnt important - which of course translates to " You're not important ".

Now i know the important thing is that bub is healthy - and as far as i could tell from the tech speak and lack of telling me otherwise, Little Jelly is going great. Truth be told i would have still been disappointed if we couldnt find out, even if the rest of the scan had been great. But i just felt like i had been dismissed as a mum who has concerns of her own, and really the only point to me being there was so they had a test subject to learn on. I cried all the way back to my mums, and i couldnt stop crying for at least an hour after that ( to the point where my mum wouldnt let me take Flynn home, she just told me to " go rest ". Instead, i made an appointment with my GP for that afternoon and had a chat to her about how i was made to feel ( and how i've been feeling increasingly down in general ). She was great and gave me a referral to have the scan again, at a different radiologists. I have to pay for this one this time but because my GP is great and noted on the referral that i had already had a scan at the "competitors ", the new place is giving me a discount.

So 10 more days until we can try again. Hopefully this time the sonographer i end up with has a bit of compassion for an anxious mum, and Mr or Miss Jelly in there is a bit more happy to flash his/her bits!

Readers Workshop Lab Update & Ideas

On Monday, we had our last Readers Workshop Teacher Lab of the Year.  During this lab, we get together with teachers from the same grade and observe another teacher in our district.  We discuss ways to make RW more effective and bump up our teaching techniques for workshop.  You can read about other lab days by searching under the Readers Workshop tag.  Jamie at What's the Buzz in First? and Andrea at Stepping into First Grade have also posted about these lab days.  Check them out too because we were in different groups!

Most of our morning was a discussion on partnerships and what it looks like when they are effective in the classroom.  We thought about what a rubric might look like if we were to grade ourselves.  Here are some of our thoughts....

Stage 1: Getting Started
  • Struggling with scheduling/conflicts with pull-out programs
  • Experimenting with ways to pair partners
  • Planning mini-lessons to build routine
  • Fitting it in when it's planned (sometimes gets skipped when running behind)
  • Experimenting with book clubs
Stage 2: Implimenting
  • Ability-based partners (winthin a level of eachother)
  • Teacher is goal-setting
  • Meets 4 times per week together
  • Teacher confers with groups 2-3 times per week
  • Students know the expectations and are on task (intentinal about work)
  • Reading together
  • Teachers regulates behavior
  • Assesses partnership skills only
  • Promotes talk
Stage 3: Embedded
  • Students are goal-setting
  • Teacher is maximizing conferring opportunities
  • Ability-based with flexibility (may divert into interest groups)
  • Meaningful conversations
  • Students montitor behavior, self-regulated
  • Assess skills of the conversation and the quality of thinking & speaking
  • Partners push eachothers' thinking
  • Meets 5 times per week together
In the afternoon, we discussed how we can used anchor texts to enhance our conferring with students (same ideas as mentor texts for writing).  We looked at some of the things we often teach during conferring (mostly the mini-lessons that the child hasn't applied yet or a tip to help "grow them up" to the next level).  We used tabs to mark some books that we can easily carry with us to refer to while conferring.  Here's what they look like (I'm just getting started, more books/concepts will be added for other units):

By using the anchor texts, we can model for our students using our own book or even have them practice the skill with a different book than their own ("Notice how you will need this tip for other books, too?")

I also shared what my school has begun using to help support readers in the moment (without advance warning of what the student is working on as a read).  My co-workers compiles some skills that need to be taught at each level in order to move up in difficulty.  The teaching points were all based on one of my go-to books:

Product Details

Another edition comes in a K-8 format.  The PreK-2 book above goes up to a F&P readinging level N (I think... the book is at school!).  The team created labels for word work and reading skills.  I put the labels in a 4X6 binder on index cards.  Some teachers put them on a page in their reading notes or assessment binder.

I will also add some of my own notes as I work with it more.  I've been using this during conferring for a few months and it is a LIFE SAVER when you draw a blank for a teaching point (not that YOU ever do!).  Unfortunately, I can't share because it was created by my school (really F&P) and I don't want a law suit on my hands.  I've got other things to do right now : )

In addition to my anchor books and my cheater support tool for teaching points, I always carry my clipboard that has my notes for readers and writers workshop.  I write down every conference.  I have a TERRIBLE memory, so I want to keep myself accountable and make sure I am effective for my students.

Sure, this is awesome and everything but..... I ordered a cute new bag to carry it in, along with pens, sticky notes, and other "readerly" things.  I love me some bags!

This product is not available in the Fall 2012 Catalog, but you can check out other cute bag options HERE.

Happy conferring, friends!

Math Station Meyhem!

Yowza!  My math station organization was in some serious need of help!  Sure, I like to project the image of matching bins and decor, all neatly organized- however, under all the matching light blue and green, I had a dark secret my friends.  Not only do I have a "Monica's Closet" (obscure reference to an episode of Friend's which I may discuss at another time- like when I get around to cleaning it!), my growing Math Station games and activities were taking over and perhaps breeding little math games.

Because I switched grades this year, I gifted a kinder teacher many of my math games.  The stack of 1st grade games and activities were limited at the start of the year.  As I taught the new standards, I began purchasing (thanks to the creative teachers from TPT) and making the new activities.  Without tons of direction or thought involved, I've been tossing them in a small drawer that gives the illusion of organization.

 As you can see, I've out grown the drawers and something needed to be done.  Just about the time I was ready to tackle this project, I was in my my teaching partner (Health Nut)'s room.  We have been making games and talking a lot about the practice aspect of math and interventions.  Right there, on her counter, was my answer/ inspiration!  She has been slowly purchasing these awesome, plastic folders as she created games.  They hold 9X12 items and have a snap closure.  I got mine from Target (5 for around $3.75).  They kind of look like this:

I used my label maker to label them.  It seems to work better than making labels on the computer.  I didn't need them too fancy, since I'm the only one who will see them. 

Once I had these done, I needed the PERFECT container to keep them all in and divide them out by curriculum strand.  I keep these in my tall cupboards.

On a side note, I don't keep all of the activities out at once.  I find that they get to involved in the choosing and will either waste time or pick the least challenging one available!  As I change the stations, I keep the child-accessible ones in these bins (clear ones inside the cabinet):

They pick their assigned activity up at the back of the room and get started.  You can read more about my Math Stations in previous posts and get the labels HERE.

Happy organizing!

I'm So Excited....!

One more sleep, one more sleep....!

Ok, I'm a little bit excited - because tomorrow i get to go for my 18-20week morphology scan. The fact that i get to see Little Jelly wiggling, and kicking and possibly sucking their thumb or waving is exciting enough, but the possibility of finding out the gender is really whats got me impatient.

God help me if i have one like Bart....

With Flynn, Mick was pretty adamant that he wanted to find out the sex but i was a bit iffy - maybe i wanted a suprise? Maybe knowing would make things easier? But a suprise would be fun, right? You know that back-and-forth kind of agonising that you get with big decisions. Even waiting at the radiologists, bladder completely full and trying desperately not to pee, i still hadnt made up my mind. But, as soon as we were in with the sonographer and she asked " Would you like to know the sex? " i was the first one to blurt out " Yes! ". It kind of suprised me how easy the " yes " slipped out, and i know it suprised Mick.

This time around though we are both definately on the same page - we're busting to find out! I'm hoping bubby wont be too shy and will happily flash its bits to all and sundry at the ultrasound tomorrow. At the 12 week scan Little Jelly kept his/her legs crossed tightly enough that the sonographer couldnt get a good pic of the leg bones, so i'm hoping his/her inhibitions have disappeared since then! I'll be honest and say that my gut feeling, definately for the last few weeks anyway, is that its a girl but i'll be a happy mama no matter what we get.

What about you other ladies? Of those who already have kids, did you find out the gender ahead of time? And those yet to have bubbas, which side of the fence do you think you'd be on - find out or not?

PKNA #34 - Nothing Personal

Just for the record, I love this issue even more.

PKNA#34 - Nothing Personal

A Wanted Man

So - the most wanted man in the nation has finally been captured. Malcolm Naden, suspected in the disappearance of one woman, wanted for the murder of another, been witnessed shooting a police officer, and perpetrator of numerous break-and-enters during his 7 year son the run, is finally in police custody. I am both proud of our police and SAS officers for not having given up the chase, and ashamed to admit that this alleged monster is from my hometown.

For the past 7 years, our local newspaper has regular stories in regards to Naden - his string of alleged offences, articles on his history, pleas by family members of the missing/deceased or simple reports on police progress. Though everyone in this country is considered innocent til proven guilty, i find hard to believe that someone who had NOT committed any offence would run and hide. And would go to great lengths to stay hidden for 7 years. It is even harder for me to believe that, despite all the anecdotal evidence to the contrary, there are still members of our local community who believe him to be innocent. Who protest it, and some who bandy about conspiracy theories as to who may be behind his apparent " set up ".

My fingers are crossed now that he is brought before the courts as quickly as possible, without ample jail time to sit and wait for the conspiracy theories to grow bigger and crazier, and without the chance to sell his side of the story ( though i'm sure there are plenty amongst us who would love to know exactly how he managed to evade capture for all that time ). I'm also hoping that, whatever the outcome of his trial, that the families of his alleged victims are brought some kind of closure, some kind of peace, and that they may finally be left to mourn and to miss their daughters without the glare of the media spotlight upon them....

PKNA #33 - The Day that Will Come

Just for the record, I love this issue.

PKNA#33 - The Day that Will Come

Oh, and by the way: FORUM!

I've been Professionally Developed...

It was a strange sort of day.... most of the building was a various meetings in the morning, but the first grade team randomly had no where we needed to go (this NEVER happens).  So we decided to set our own goal, sort of- Mrs. Principal was on board with it.  I'll try not to ramble, but I used up A LOT of brain power today.

As we've been traveling through the RTi maze and figuring out what will work for our school, we seem to add one thing and five more issues/challenges are presented.  I really think we are on the right track.  One portion that we are working on is the grade-level piece.  My old team in kindergarten used to trade students and had an elaborate system for targeting instruction for those who were struggling or came in at a deficit.  Other grades who have been together a while were similar.

As a newly formed first grade team, we are still finding our way.  I'm on our Student Support Team (helps teachers decide what interventions will help students as they move through the tiers or help decide if a special education referral is needed).  Nature Girl (teaching partner's alias- see old posts) is on our Navigation Team (researches ways to boost student learning and reviews whole-school data, looking for areas to improve upon).   Health Nut (my new pet name for my other teaching partner)  is on the School Improvement Team, which is in charge of a bunch of things that I cannot be trusted with- like the budget!  Between all three of us, we found ourselves with a large group of students who needed interventions (many of them multiple!).  We found that our students were "intervention hopping" because the adults in charge were panicking and switching them too fast (not waiting 10-12 weeks for the data to show growth or not).  We learned our lesson and worked even harder for them. 

Anyway, Nature Girl had the idea of making a flow chart for our first grade interventions.  I did some checking on blogs, cruised Pinterest, Googled it, checked Pinterest some more..... more Pinterest because I saw some cute things for the house....  I did eventually focus and find a model that we could start from and make our own.  We tend to take things and make them better (and usually more complicated and fancy).  Here is what we ended up with:

We started on the white board, but I like to fix and fancy.

I'm a visual learner, so the chart really helps me and I tend to put things in that form.  Here is what it ended up like when we were done (about 2 1/2 hours of discussion).

I don't have time to stitch photos together... maybe someday I'll fix it :)

Anyway, it's been a long day.... but I wanted to share.  Let me know if you have any questions! 

Have a pleasant evening, friends,

Alkaff Mansion

So it’s Restaurant Week and I had to restrain myself from making too many reservations. “Keep-to-2” was the rule and trust me, it wasn’t easy eliminating and finally settling on the two places I most wanted to check out – Alkafff Mansion and the new Bistro Du Vin on Zion Road.

I have not been to the “old” Alkaff Mansion but my oh my, the restored premises was simple lovely! So grand and chi-chi- I especially love the wood-paneled 1920s second level setting and the outdoor bar – I wanna hold an event here!

Service was fantastic the moment we stepped in. Warm and friendly, the service staff made us feel at home straight away. Maybe it was them, or more likely it was the romantic setting – B ordered a bottle of prosecco (*swoon*).

The restaurant week lunch was at $36++. We looked at the normal menu and noticed that the normal executive set lunch was similarly priced and had the same courses too. No matter, what a wonderful (and, can I repeat, romantic) lunch!

For starters, both B and I ordered the tuna tartar served with avocado and passion fruit dressing. Doesn't it look gorgeous? I really liked the freshness of the tuna and the tanginess from the passion fruit. This dish really opened up our tastebuds for the main courses.

First up, my lobster ravioli in its own bisque. I absolutely love (who doesn’t) lobsters so this dish really hit the spot for me. The ravioli was well made and the bisque was robust yet not too over-powering. I could have had a second serving of this haha.

B had the beef short ribs in porto wine sauce and it looked delish too. I thought the serving size was a bit small for him so it was very kind of him to offer me a sliver to try – yums! Very tasty and well-marinated. We saw some people ordering the cod fish and that looked good too.

For desserts, we both had the blueberry cheese cake. Although not mind-blowing, it was the perfect ending to an elegant (romantic!) lunch.

I’m glad I decided to check out Alkaff Mansion for restaurant week. Watch this space for my review on the new Bistro Du Vin!

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

A friend of mine has a theory that if a women starts having crazy wackydoo dreams, just seemingly out of the blue, it means she's pregnant, or very soon will be. She has applied this theory to me twice, and has only been right once ( back in December, when i would have only just conceived ). So, i guess, as theories go, it could use a bit of work. What i find interesting though, and no doubt can be scientifically proven somehow, is that once a lady is well and truely into a pregnancy - say 6 weeks along or more - she does start having more vivid dreams. Or, at the very least, this lady does.

I've been having completely wacked out, trippy dreams for at least 2 months now. Not every night, but at least once or twice a week, and i have to say that some of them have left me completely baffled.

The one where i was going the full pash with Joseph Gordon Levitt ( " 100 Days of Summer " Levitt, not " 3rd Rock From the Sun " Levitt ) in a school hallway wasnt too nutty, but the one where i was going the full.... lets say " Monty " .... with Red Foo from LMFAO was a head scratcher. And its not the sexual dreams either - i've been in an internment camp with the Muppets and escaping from a vaguley school-like prison with Chris Hemsworth from " Thor " ( also not too bad of a kisser, apparently ). And those are just the few i can actually remember!

So is it just me or are vivid, and somewhat crazy, dreams standard for most pregnant ladies? Or am i on my own with this?

Spring has have the kids!

Whoa.  Seriously.  Whoa.  It's 75 degrees in Michigan today- not that I'm complaining, but we will probably get snow in a few weeks.  That's just how we roll around here.  My kiddos all seem to think that school is almost over.  Dude- I must have missed that memo!  It's been building over the last week, along with the temperatures.  They are getting slow and dare I say- lazy in our crisp little routine.  We actually practiced walking down the hall and lining up multiple times because they were so loud, I was embarressed.  One teacher even shut her door, smiling of course.  You know that it is as good as a slap in the face in a school.
I had to leave work at lunch on Friday (sick little guy had to be picked up from school).  They totally took advantage of the guest teacher and trashed the room on the way out the door.  She must have missed that part completely because I started out my early Monday cleaning for almost 45 minutes.  Grrrr......

Up until now, the students would read when they first came in in the morning, after making lunch choices and putting away their things.  Last week, they started milling around the room, not even pretending to read.  Like the books never left the bag!  Hey- who are these kids?  My class knows what to do in the morning and is responsible learners.  Not so much lately.  I did give them several reminders throughout the week about our morning routine and the expectations.  Apparently, the spring weather made their brains sprout a "whatever plant" (read with attitude).

This morning, they arrived to a smiling teacher (who was annoyed beyond belief on the inside) and an addition and subtraction review page.  You would have though I had stolen Christmas!  They were dejected (and completely silent) for 15 minutes.  Weird.  Creepy even.  They passed them in as they completed them, sheepishly.

They got the point, but still got multiple reminders about paying attention and being respectful while someone is speaking.  One kid got up to get a drink in the middle of my writer's workshop mini-lesson.  Wa-wa-what?  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Here's wishing you all a longer winter! :)


Now THIS is awesome! Two newly translated issues, one of which has never been seen ANYWHERE outside of Italy. Excuse me while I drool at the idea of finally getting to read some PKNA that I've never read before.

Banker is great. It's true!

PKNA Special 1999 - The End of the World
PKNA #32 - Underground