Sunday, May 6, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

Thank You Teacher!

It's Teacher Appreciation week around these here parts, and I have a few project ideas to share with you that are sure to delight your child's teacher.  This year, because I'm not on the PTA Board at our school for the first time in a long time, I have more attention to devote to appreciating those wonderful beings that spread love and devotion to our children year round.  So here's a project for each day of this wonderful week... enjoy!

Monday... Word Art

So I found this neat little program called Wordle where you can enter all kinds of words and make a word collage.  I used their advanced feature to tell it which words I wanted larger than others (follow the example you'll see on their advanced page).  You can then alter the font, layout, and colors as you wish until you get the desired outcome.  Note:  if you see a design you like, print it before you alter it again because once you change the layout or anything else and click on it, you can't go back to the previous layout.  

I then framed it, and picked up some scrapbook silk flowers and glued them onto the frame.   I was going to make crepe flowers myself out of a regular party garland but I ran out of time.  You will find a fun tutorial HERE and a video HERE on making those if you are interested.  They are very pretty and simple to make.  I wrapped a 2" ribbon around the masterpiece and came up with wording for the cutest little tag ever.  Here's the free printable file.  

I think she'll be pleased with the result :)  

Tuesday... I'm So Fortunate to Have You as My Teacher

I found this project on Skip To My Lou (posted by According to Kelly), and at Eigheen25 and again at Creative Outlet (just a few of many fabulous blogs I love) and knew I had to do it.  I would have really liked to do the lighter spring color theme but I didn't find the boxes in the lighter colors.  I did, however, find these gorgeous glitter boxes in red... aren't they just perfect?  

You'll need:
  • Fortune cookies (in the Ethnic isle at your grocery store).  It took 8 to fill up each one of these boxes.
  • Chocolate chips (if you opt to cover the cookies in chocolate... double yummm!)
  • Chinese Take Out Containers (or you can pick some up at your local craft store)
  • Ribbon in desired color (I used navy blue as I didn't have black)
  • A cute little tag.  You can download free printables from either of the blog links above.  I'm also sharing the Spanish version of Kelly's printable in Spanish since we had Spanish and French teachers to gift as well :)  Thank you Kelly for sharing your font secrets with me :)  

  1. Coat the cookies.  That's SUPER easy to do.  You melt the chocolate chips over a double boiler,  dip the cookies, and refrigerate them for at least an hour.  The trickiest part of this was keeping my 3 kids AWAY from the cookies.  
  2. Print the tags and hot glue them onto the containers.
  3. Make the bows and attach to container handles.
  4. Place cookies in container and make one teacher very very happy :)

Wednesday... Blessed Beyond Measure

I picked up these little apple measuring spoons at Marshalls.  I wish I had found a few more of them because aside from being GORGEOUS, they inspired me to create the cutest little tag to go with them.  I uploaded a free printable of the tag you can use.  You'll need a 3" circle punch.  

You can purchase these exact ones for $12.99 on eBay.  Message me for the link :)  I also found a similar set at Ice House Crafts for $11.19 which is slightly less than I paid for mine.  They also have the cutest measuring cups.  Had I found these sooner, I would have ordered a few for all our teachers.  This is one of my favorite gifts for the week so far.  

Thursday... A Spot of Tea

I ran across a lovely teabag tag at Vintage Pie with the sentiment "You are Tea-rrific".  I decided to pair it up with a teacup and saucer set that I had left over from my daughter's tea party themed birthday (originally purchased at Marshalls).   Along with the teabag, I added some chocolate Biscotti (I used Noni brand).  I then picked up some tulle in a pretty taupe color to go along with the vintage look of the tag, and tied a matching ribbon to it.  This one can easily be gifted to a middle or high school teacher.  The instructions for making the tag, along with a free printable, can be found HERE.

Friday... Crayon Wreath

Another Pinterest inspired project... as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to do it for our teacher.  It looks easy, but I will compare it to making one of those 30-minute meals with Rachel Ray (which actually takes me 2 1/2 hours).  It was difficult to get all the crayons on the wreath in the exact angle but after gluing and un-gluing a half dozen or so time (ugh!), I finally got the hang of it.  In the end, I lined up the bottom part of the crayons with the smaller embroidery hoop and kept my eye on them from the bottom before gluing the next one.  That helped to keep them at the same angle and in line with each other.  One little change in the angle can throw off the whole thing so it's a matter of being VERY careful.  My daughter painted the embroidery hoops and laced the small orange ribbon around the crayons, and we had fun doing that part.  

Here's what you will need to make one:
2 wooden embroidery hoops (12" and 8")
Paint (for the hoops) in your desired color.  We used red acrylic paint.
3 boxes of 24 count Crayola crayons.
Hot glue gun with plenty of glue sticks.
2" or thicker ribbon
1/4" ribbon in desired color (we used orange)
2" or thicker matching ribbon (we used a wired orange ribbon with white polka dots)
Wood cut out in the shape of an apple
Paint for the apple (I used the same red that I used for the hoops, and a brown and green acrylic)
Paint pen in desired color (My handwriting skills being what they are, I enlisted the help of a friend (also a teacher :) ) to writer my daughter's teacher's name on it for me and she had a yellow paint pen on-hand... it worked out beautifully... thank you Cristy!)
  1. Paint the embroidery hoops and apple cutout and let dry.
  2. Lay the embroidery hoops out on a work surface and center the smaller hoop inside the larger hoop.
  3. Lay out your crayons on a towel (so they don't slip off) in the order that you are going to glue them.  All three boxes should follow the same color order (i.e. yellow, pink, blue, yellow, pink, blue, yellow, you get the message).  
  4. Glue your crayons one by one so that their bottoms all meet side by side at the bottom on the smaller hoop. It's best to lay out all your crayons on the hoops before you glue them down so that you don't lose the spacing.  I didn't do this and I paid for it with having to glue and unglue a few of the crayons.  You then lift each crayon as you are ready to glue it, put a SMALL dab of glue on each of the hoops, and glue it down, and follow this through until you've reached the last crayon.  
  5. Lace the thin 1/4" ribbon through the bottom part of the crayons, and then lace another piece of ribbon through the top as you see on my wreath.  NOTE:  You lace every other crayon but you if you lace the bottom of one crayon, that's the one you skip when you are lacing the top; that way every crayon has ribbon on it at either the bottom or top).
  6. Decide where the top of your wreath is and lace the thicker ribbon around the top to crayons and make a bow.  Lace another piece of ribbon around the large embroidery hoop for hanging.
  7. Write your teacher's name on the apple cutout.
  8. Hot glue the wooden apple cut out to the wreath.

Voila!  Your teacher will be thrilled as can be to see this gorgeous wreath hanging in her classroom.  Warn her that this is a delicate wreath that should be handled with great care, and probably best NOT to hang it on a door.  Our teacher received one of these earlier this year and it fell and shattered to pieces.  

For many more teacher appreciation ideas, check out these sources:
Skip To My Lou
or Pinterest.  Some of the ideas can even be used for the end of the school year gifts...  21 days away for us... now that's worth a serious celebration around these here parts... YIPPPEE!!! 

No matter what you do, honor your teachers this week in whatever way you can.  They do so much with so little (particularly in these budget conscious times), and our children are the beneficiaries of their hard work and dedication all year round.   Happy Gifting!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

World's Best (Super Healthy and Easy To Make) Hummus

OK, so it's no secret that I (and a few innocent bystanders in our house who shall remain nameless) have been living in the world of Jillian Michaels for the past month or so.  One of the culinary highlights while on this new adventure is the hummus we have as a snack between lunch and dinner.  Here is an easy to make, healthy, inexpensive and DELICIOUS hummus recipe.  Thank you Jillian Michaels!

Yields 2 very generous servings

1 18 oz can chickpeas
1/4 cup lemon juice (approx 1 1/2 lemons), or more to taste
3 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt

1.  Drain the chickpeas and reserve 1/4 cup of the liquid it came in.  

2.  Place all ingredients except chickpeas and reserved liquid in a mini chopper bowl and grind for a few seconds.  

3.  Add the chickpeas and the reserved liquid to the mixture and mix again for 30 seconds or until desired consistency.

Serve with celery, carrots and/or mini whole wheat pita bread pockets or whole wheat pita chips.

Having a party?  Double up on the ingredients and serve on a platter as pictured here.  I do this in two batches as my mini chopper runneth over when I double up but if you have a food processor, you can do it all at once.  

By the way, Jillian (we're on a first name basis now that we are sweating together) suggests that after mixing all together, you pour 2 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle with a spice called sumac.  However, I haven't found the sumac locally and frankly we eat it without these two ingredients and it is truly delicious.   

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lovely in Pink

Ok, so the desk came out Be-U-tiful!  To say that I am enamored with the final product is a complete understatement. Not only that, but a few days after I had found the desk, I drove by a garage sale just one  block away from our house and found (among a bizillion other yummy things which I will share in future posts) this LOVELY chair:

The chairs I had seen up to that point were fairly dull and had no shape at all.  From the curb I could see this chair had the curves I wanted, scrolly back and all.  The kids whined and complained about getting off the car but I knew it was a now or never sorta situation, and guess what... I got it for $10 !  Not only that, I got to meet one of the nicest couples ever.  As it turns out the husband is an auctioneer and he invited us to come up and participate in his next auction.  I HAVE to take him up on it.  What a nice guy!  

Anywhoo, here's a close-up of the seat "cushion" (well, it really wasn't a cushion at all; it was very hard and I wondered if in the old days everyone was extremely thin or just plain uncomfortable).  The print on the cover was lovely though and once removed, I washed the cover by hand and have saved it awaiting inspiration to use it in another neat project.   Perhaps I'll frame it.  Any thoughts?

I had never recovered a chair but I looked it up on YouTube and frankly, it looked like something I could do.   I headed to Joann's Fabrics where I purchased some foam (high density is the best for these type projects), batting and the loveliest French print fabric you have ever seen.  I loaded my brand new staple gun, and I was   armed, dangerous and ready for battle.

This is what batting looks like off the baseball field :)  
No you don't have to get this giant roll... you purchase it by the yard.  I purchased 3/4 yard but could have likely gotten away with 1/2 yard.  Batting goes between the foam and the fabric... I am told it makes your seat cushion fluffy and wrinkle free and mine is so it must have worked!  

At first, I wasn't sure whether to paint the chair almond like the rest of AC's bedroom, or pink like the desk but this fabric clenched the pink for me and I am glad because the end result is divine.

So without further ado... here is the final product... 
the desk AND the chair (nice and cushiony now and oh so beautiful).

If you look closely you will notice that not only did I paint these pieces, but I also glazed them.  Glazing is that black stuff you see in the crevices that gives the pieces an antique-y aged look.   I was scared at first because the paint looked so crisp and beautiful without it, but it makes a really big difference and was definitely the way to go.  If you are interested in learning the technique, there is an excellent tutorial on glazing here.

I couldn't be happier with it.  I find myself going into AC's room just to stare at it; 
and you-know-who is absolutely THRILLED with her new pink desk and chair.

I can't wait to start on the next project!  
Did I mention the GORGEOUS headboard I found at the same garage sale as the chair?  
You're going to love it!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

The little desk that could

I'm so excited that I could barely stand the wait to post this.  Life delayed me a little bit but I dusted off and I'm here to report that I FOUND it!  What do you mean what?  The desk of course; the vein of my existence since having to have the one I saw on Pinterest. So, before I show it to you, let me remind you that this is the GLORIOUS desk that inspired me (I know, I know it's FABULOUS).  It's from
and here is the one I found:  

I think I can hear what you are thinking from here... work with me people!  Repeat after me I-M-A-G-I-N-A-T-I-O-N !

Let me first say that it was two cities over but the guy who was selling it offered to deliver it for FREE if I waited a couple of HOURS (thank you, Jimmy!)  as he had to come down this way to make another delivery... woo hoo!   I couldn't believe my luck.  Although pricier than I had anticipated (it turns out antique desks run quite a bit higher than dressers not to mention I haven't found one since so they are a rare find), two hours later, I met my new love... no, not Jimmy, the desk for Pete's sake!  The top was a different finish and glossier than the rest of it and I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to paint it but hey, what were the chances that God would put this amazing piece of furniture in my life only to have it not turn out the way I wanted?!  Don't answer that!   

Yeeyh, it's almost EXACTLY like the one I had seen in the pic... like almost to the tee... don't you think?  I know, I know, you likely can't see it yet.  But trust me, it is.  I wish its curves were more like the inspiration piece but still I love it.  

So, here's what I've done so far:
1.  Brushed it down with soap and water (it reaked at first) and let dry.  With our sunny weather, it took no time at all.
2.  Sanded it with 220 sandpaper square.
3.  Wiped it with a damp cloth, and again let dry.
4.  Primed it with Kilz Spray.
5.  Sanded it again, and wiped it with a tack cloth.

Here's my progress so far:  

Doesn't it look TONS better already?  I bet you're excited to see the final product.  {tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies...}

What's next you ask (you did ask, right?)?  Two coats of Krylon WATERMELON paint... which I found at our local (well kinda far really but well worth the trip if you ask me) Walmart.  That's right.  I am spray painting this baby.  It's so much easier than the brush method and turns out great!

I should have the finished product pics to you by the next post, and trust me, I'll be spending many sleepless nights until I see it to completion.  I'm so looking forward to it.  Aren't you?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My New Career

So, I came upon this GORGEOUS desk on Pinterest, and it was love at first sight!  I knew I HAD to have it for AC.  I tracked it back to All Things Thrifty and just my luck, also found a post there on how to refinish furniture (quite the discovery as I had never done it and had no clue where to begin).  The search was ON!  I immediately combed Craig's List and didn't really find a desk but I did run into these pieces:

I had been looking for a dresser for AC.  She has outgrown her toddler set with very small drawers, and I was certain this was a sign.  In the above Craig's List photo, the set looks honey-colored but when I got to the house of the girl that was selling it, I realized it was what I now call "ladder yellow"... no joke... just look at the pic:

Apparently ladder yellow was a very popular color a really long time ago before contacts were invented!  Aside from being ladder yellow, the tops of the dressers and drawers were quite stained, and the cute little tables you see in the pic were destroyed (I thought I took a close-up shot of that but I can't seem to find it; mental note:  if you are going to blog about something, you must take detailed pics); one was a little better than the other but it needed major TLC.  The price was definitely right though, and at this point, I realized I'd be refinishing more than just a desk.

So I brought the furniture home and began to follow the refinishing tutorial on All Things Thrifty.  I have to say, it is VERY very good.  The only thing I might add is that you really need to sand the furniture down after you've washed it, and you need to sand it a lot after the primer, and lightly in between coats.  Sanding I found is key as the paint may not adhere otherwise.  If you skip this step, you may find once you think you are done that the minute anything brushes up against the piece, the paint will chip and all your work will go out the window.  Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way and I was disheartened half way through the project.  No matter.  The experience was invaluable and AC is thrilled with her new furniture.  Also, it helped when I researched its origin and learned that it is a solid set made in the 1920's out of ash wood... this is pass me down furniture if I've ever seen it.  Yeeeyh!

One piece of advice before you begin your new refinishing career (it takes more than one afternoon!)... be patient, all good things take time, and realize this is going to take some HARD work on your part but in the end very satisfying; and honestly, the cost of the whole thing, including paint, primer, sanding paper, glaze, etc was barely $300.  I couldn't buy a set like this if I wanted to.  I'd likely find a non wood set and you can bet I'd pay a ton more for a lot less quality.  So, drum roll please.... here's how it turned out:

Isn't it GORGEOUS?!   It is quite the transformation (note:  I'm patting myself on the back as you read this).  I seriously LOVE the little tables!  AC's room is a French theme and this couldn't be more perfect.   I used Krylon paint in color Almond (the pics were taken at different times of the day hence the color difference but the little table pic is truer to the actual color).  What a difference a couple of coats of paint made!  When the room is finished, I will post a pic of it in her room.  But now back to finding that desk...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Everything is better in pink!

My baby girl loves pink.  She swears by it.  It makes her heart skip a beat... hot pink especially.  I, on the other hand, prefer red.  I'm a Leo, born in July, and it's a fire sign.  So it's no accident that red, yellow and orange are my favorite colors.  

A couple of days ago, on the way to my daughter's acting class (which she will tell you she's not teaching herself so as not to make the teacher feel bad) we had a favorite colors conversation:
AC:  "Everything is better in pink!"  
Me:  "Pink is a gorgeous color"
AC:  "Momma, why is red your favorite color?"
Me:  "Well, red makes me feel strong and beautiful all at once."
AC:  "...but pink is so happy!"  "Besides, there are LOTS of shades of pink.  Red only has one color."
Me:  "You have a good point and I really love that you know what you like.  It's not that I don't like pink; I do.  It's just that red has always been my favorite."
AC:  "OK momma, close your eyes and think of red, ready?".  
Me:  "Ready!"
AC:  "Now, think of red with pink all over.   You see momma?  EVERYTHING is better with pink!"
I love that she didn't give up.  I love that she believes in HER color.  I love that she is trying to persuade me to love pink too.  But most of all, I love that we get to have these conversations, and I love this life of pink and red!