This fall has been absolutely crazy! The weeks are flying by and I can’t believe that it is already the middle of November.

With 29 students this year, a lot of my time has been focused on school and all the needs in my classroom. It’s hard to feel like a good teacher when you don’t feel like you can get to every student every day…but I power through and try to at least talk to every kid each day.

Luckily the kids love to talk to me…which makes for great stories.

One day after recess, one of my little boys came in and headed straight for me. Now this little boy is new to Canada, his English is broken, but we do our best to understand each other and communicate as clearly as possible.

“Mrs. Skinner” he said, “Someone pooped in the field!”

As a teacher, it would not surprise me if some ACTUALLY pooped in the field, but I was pretty sure that was not the case.

“I think it may have been a dog.” I said matter-of-factly, praying that he really hadn’t seen someone poop in the field.

He considered this theory for a moment and gave me this look.


He promptly went up to my student teacher and said

“Miss. Koopmans, did you know A DOG pooped in the field?”

Never a dull moment.

Last weekend my sister was in town and we¬†decided to make a meal that my Oma used to make us often when we were growing up. It is not a particularly healthy or even visually appealing meal, but we love it and it is a meal full of memories…even if it is not full of many nutrients!


I remember going to my Oma’s on a Saturday to have Klosse- boiled potato dumplings filled with dry, sweetened cottage cheese and smothered in bacon and onions. As children, my sister and I didn’t like the cheese filling, so my Oma used to just make the plain dumplings for us to eat. It was a treat we always enjoyed, but I had no idea how much time and effort went in to making them for us.

Now when my sister makes Klosse, she MAKES KLOSSE. Not 5 or 6 dumplings…but 40. Yes, you read that right…40. Forty-five pounds of potatoes…

You start by washing, peeling and cooking half of your potatoes.

With the cooked half, you rice them so that they have a very soft, pliable, lump-free texture.


With the uncooked potatoes we use a food processor to grate them finely.


Once that is done, you need to squeeze out every last bit of water from the potatoes.


Now this was enough work using the food processor and having two of us working on it, but my Oma used to grate all the potatoes BY HAND using a box grater. I can’t imagine how many hours she spent making these things.

Once the raw potatoes are ready, you mix it together with the cooked, riced potatoes and make a dough of sorts.


Then you move on to the cheesy filling. We use a meat grinder to grind up the cottage cheese to a nice texture and add to it some sugar and eggs.


Now you are ready to make the Klosse! (potato cannonballs as I like to refer to them)

You form a hand size round patty of potato in your hand and fill it with a dollup of the cheese mixture. Then you top it with another potato patty and seal the seams and smooth it out to make a ball. You need to make sure there are no cracks, or that you have not filled it too full of cheese or they will break apart in the water, spilling out all the delicious cheese filling.


As you can see, my sister and I have different sized hands, so our Klosse came out a little differently.


Next step it to boil these bad boys. 45 minutes in boiling water until they a nice grey color and kind of the consistency of wall paper paste (yummy!)


My sister uses a very sophisticated way of keeping track of the time.


During that 45 minutes, you have just enough time to cut up 3 packages of bacon and some onions and fry it up to serve over top!


The verdict- I know it looks weird, and for someone who did not grow up eating this, I am sure it tastes a bit weird…but this is my childhood on a plate.


I can only eat one because they sit like a cannonball in your stomach, but that is what they were meant to do. Fill you up when you didn’t have a lot of money or resources to do so. This was war-time food that my Oma and Opa used to eat, and that they brought here with them when they moved to Canada. When I eat it I think of them, and that makes me happy.



How to Successfully Shop at Goodwill

I love a good deal…groceries, clothing…anything really. If it’s a good deal, I am over the moon.

I get that from my mom. She, too, loves a good deal. And from a young age we made regular trips to Value Village to sort through the racks and find some hidden treasures. That treasure-hunting mentality has stuck with me and I go often to Goodwill to see what I can find.

Now what about Value Village you might ask? As much as I loved going when I was younger, I prefer Goodwill to Value Village now…and it is for one simple reason: price. At Value Village, everything is individually priced, so the better stuff is more expensive. Goodwill has set prices for all the clothing. Pants are $8…whether they are from Walmart or J Crew. And that is where the deals can really be found!

If you are willing to put in the time, you can find a lot of great stuff and save a lot of money. I buy almost all my clothes at Goodwill and I think I dress fairly well…and I didn’t have to spend a lot of money doing it.

Let me give you a little example:


These are all the goodies I got the last time I went…now the game I like to play with myself is “How much WOULD I have spent vs how much DID I spend?”

Here is how it breaks down:

Item:Original Retail Cost:Goodwill Cost:
Point Zero T-shirt$45$6
Joe Tank$19$5
Smart Set Tank$20$5
Revolution T-shirt$20$3
Twik T-shirt$15$3
RW & Co Tank$25$5
Mossimo Shorts$23$2.50
Old Navy Shorts$30$5
AE Shorts$58$5
Areopostale Dress$35$6
Coach Sandals$90$10

How can you not shop at Goodwill?

Here are my tips for a successful trip.

Purge Your Closet Before You Go

I like to go through my closet and get rid of anything I don’t wear anymore before I go to Goodwill. It also gives me a chance to evaluate what, specifically, I am looking for when I go. Goodwill is a HUGE store, with lots of stuff, so you want to have an idea of what you are going in to find.

Also, by taking a bag of clothes, shoes, or housewares you are a) promoting a company that supports Albertans with disabilities and b) you are making room in your closet for more fun stuff!

Choose Your Time and Day Carefully

I like to go to early in the morning…it is a little less crowded and you can get a first look at the new stuff they have put out. Going on a Monday or Tuesday is great too, especially in the summer, because people drop off their garage sale leftovers after their weekend sales end.

You also need to give yourself a good chunk of time when you go to Goodwill. My friend Viv and I can easily spend 2 hours looking around and trying on clothes. To really make it worthwhile, block out some time and dive in.


Avoid a Few Parts of the Store

There are a few parts of Goodwill that I either never go in, or rarely go to unless I am looking for something specific. This helps cut down on the time you are in there…and you can spend A LOT of time in there…

  1. Housewares- unless you need something specific, don’t waste your time here.
  2. Bedding/towels/fabric
  3. Electronics/furniture/books- though we did find a flash that we could use on our digital camera for $5 (including batteries) I don’t spend much time in this area unless I have a specific project I am working on, need books for school or have extra time to wander around.

Know Your Size and Shop There

Pants, tops, sweaters and workout clothes are all sorted by size. So know what size you are, and when you go in, shop your size and the size below and above (since the workers at Goodwill are not always exact with where they put the sizes)

Put in the Time in a Few Key Areas

Dresses, shorts, jackets, skirts and shoes are not sorted by size. They sort these items by color (weird I know). It is worth it to put in the extra time and go through the entire rack to see what is there. Since you saved time on pants, tops, sweaters and workout clothes, you can spare a few extra minutes.

If it Remotely Interests You, Put it in the Cart

Get a cart and fill it up. The more you try on, the more likely you are to walk out with some great pieces. Plus as you shop, you are going to see brands you have never seen before and may never see again. If it interests you, give a try…what harm is there in that?

Put it in the cart

Take a Friend Along

I asked what harm is there in trying lots on…well sometimes you walk out with something you think is amazing…and in the cold light of your closet you realize you made a terrible mistake. It helps to take a friend along who is brutally honest with you. Some stuff at Goodwill is there for a reason…it’s just a little weird. You’ll put it on, look at yourself in the mirror and wonder “Is this weird, or super awesome cutting edge?”

You need someone who will tell you to slowly back away from the strange dress with the cute buttons.

Yes. No.

Look for the Deals

Goodwill already has great deals on clothes, but every month they put one of their “tags” (colored hang tags) on for 50% off. So sometimes you can get pants for $4 instead of $8! If you want to really challenge yourself, try to ONLY shop the sale tag and walk out with even more for even less!


Like any shopping excursion, sometimes you leave with arm loads and sometimes you leave empty handed. But if you like the hunt and love a deal, Goodwill might be the place for you. Just stay out of my sizes ok? I’m not sure I am ready to share yet…