Friday, December 20, 2013

Classroom Christmas Party

This year I am “homeroom” Mom for my son’s Kindergarten class. I think I’m having way too much fun planning the various holiday parties. Here’s what we did for Christmas this year.
I cut strips of paper to fit over the label and used a bingo dabber to make a red nose, drew on eyes and taped the label on the bottle. Then I used a brown pipe cleaner to wrap around the top for antlers.
My older kids had so much fun helping with all the tasks and we used the activity to talk about the industrial revolution and the use of assemble lines.
We glued paper hats to the top of cheese sticks tied a ribbon around them and used a Sharpie to draw on faces, buttons and a carrot nose.
I used a circle punch to make red nosed and a dot of glue to stick them to paper bags. Drew on eyes then filled the bags with popcorn. Mini clothes pin were used to look like tiny antlers.


We made candy canes with red and white beads. I cut pipe cleaners in half before the party. I also printed out cards with the story of the candy cane to go home with them.

Legend of the Candy Cane
Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me.
White is for my Savior
Who is sinless and pure!
“J’ is for Jesus
my Lord, that’s for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see 
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for ME!
We also made a baby in a manger.
I used cupcake papers for the manger and filled them with shredded paper (gift bag filler). I pre glued the “straw” in the cupcake papers to save mess and glue drying time during the party.

The baby was made from old fashioned clothes pins that my husband cut in half to make them smaller. The kids wrapped little pieces of felt around the baby and tied it on with a piece of cord.
Then they glued the baby on the straw. Some of the kids drew faces on their baby. It was fun to hear their story of “the baby is sleeping“ or “the bay is crying because it’s hungry”. I love the glimpse into their little minds.

I printed out a Snow Globe game here.

Between actives and when there was any down time the kids went to the back of the room to play a snowball toss game. 
I used a pop up laundry bin from the dollar store and decorated him with cardstock to look like a snowman. We tossed plastic baseballs as the “snowballs”.

The other game played was a Snowman Team Relay Race.

This game was a huge hit!

With two teams, you will need; 2 half used rolls of TP
2 hats
2 scarves
2 sets of sticks for arms (4 total)
Cut out buttons (3 for each snowman)
And 2 carrot noses.
I made small cones from cardstock and attached a piece of elastic to go around their heads.

Each team has one person to become the snowman.
Then first person up has to wrap their teammate with the TP.
Then each of the following people add one item; hat, scarf, arms, tape on buttons and then finally the nose.
So many of the parents have told me that the kid want to re-create the game at home to play with family.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Repurposed Keys

I think I’ve always had a slight fascination with keys.

Old or new they make me wonder where they go, what they open. Will it lead me to a mystery or to a treasure?

I have a few skeleton keys hanging on my wall for decoration. Several years ago, I started turning them into jewelry.

At one of the craft/vendor shows I participated in this past Fall, another vendor became very intrigued with my key necklaces.

She had been holding onto a key from her late Mother’s home. It was a memento that she kept, that held memories of her Mom.

I was so honored when she asked me to turn that key into jewelry for her. Her request was that I make it pink, her Mother’s favorite color.

Follow this tutorial and see how I change keys into something special.

I collect keys for re-sale shops. The process to transform them is not difficult but it is a little time consuming. I like to do several at a time for a few reasons. One, it makes me feel like I am getting more out of my time, And two, the final step requires that I mix a resin and I need to use all of what is mixed so there is no waste.

You need:

Scrapbook paper
Disposable paintbrushes
Sand paper
Utility knife
Flat backed Swarovski crystals
2 part Epoxy resin (cups, Popsicle stick, tooth pick, tweezers & gloves)

 First, gather your keys and decide what size and shape you want to use and which side of the key you want to cover. I usually cover the side that has any writing or an imprint on it. I also check to see which side of the shaft has the best surface to hold the gems.


Next find scrapbook paper that has the colors and patterns that you like.


You’ll be using such a tiny piece so look closely at the designs. Check to see what will fit on your key and what section of paper will show the best part of the pattern. Cut that down smaller and then trace you key as close as possible.

Cut the paper just inside the pen mark you made tracing the key.

Use your decoupage to glue the paper onto the key. Allow this to dry.

Now, use your utility knife to cut the hole out of the key.

Use sand paper (I like to use an emery board) to sand the edges. You need to make sure that there is no paper that will catch or peel up later. I also like to try and bevel the edge or taper the cut ends of the paper. (Some scrapbook papers are thick and if the edge is tapered it will help make a better seal when you are finished).

Once all your sanding is done you need to coat the paper with decoupage to seal the paper. I usually do two coats to be sure I have good coverage. Allow to dry between coats. If the paper is not sealed when you put the resin on, it will bleed into the paper and give it a spotted wet look. So, be sure that you are getting all the edges very well.

While you are waiting for the glue to dry, start lining up your crystals. You need flat back gems. I like Swarovski because they have a deeper shine and an overall better appearance. You can use rhinestones too if you want. You will need either a 3mm or a 4mm size crystal. It will depend on that size and how big your key is on how many you will need to fill the shaft of the key. It could be anywhere between 4 or 9 individual pieces.

Before you mix the resin, be sure to have all your supplies lined up and ready. You want all your keys or any other project that is getting a coat of resin, ready to go. For the resin, you will need disposable cups, a Popsicle stick or something to stir, a disposable paintbrush (there is no washing that stuff out), I have a safety pin and a tooth pick out in case I need to move something or pop a bubble. I use jeweler’s tweezers to place the gems on the key. (they are just long and thin) Oh, and gloves, you hands will feel greasy and stick for a few days if it gets on your skin.

Mix equal parts of resin following the package instructions. You have a little time to work before it starts to harden. Begin paining the resin on and placing the jewels. I gently push each one down to make sure it is set into the resin. As you move on to the next item, keep and eye out that none of you crystals are shifting. They may move some before the resin is hardening. Use your toothpick to reposition as needed. If you have bubbles, you can pop with a pin or if you have a small desk lamp, the heat will help them disappear.

I do these projects on a clipboard that is covered in plastic. Then, I can move them out of my way while I wait for the resin to fully cure. This will take at least 3 days. I cover them with an empty bin to keep dust off them and little fingers from investigating but be sure it is vented.

Once the resin is fully cured, add a jump ring and a cord or a chain and you’re good to go!

I think they make such a fun piece of jewelry. They are great for layering with other necklaces.

I love that my friend can wear her Mother’s key close to heart.

Friday, February 1, 2013

100th Day Shirt

To celebrate the one hundredth day of this school year my little guy needed to wear a shirt with 100 of something on it or bring 100 items into school. (100 safety pins on a shirt or a bag with 100 pennies or something of that nature.) I thought it would be fun if he had a shirt with something creative, to display 100 of something…but what??? Thanks to Pinterest, I found a few cute ideas.

I decided to paint a monster on his shirt and give him 100 eyes.

I was able to use supplies that I already had at home. I took a plain T-shirt with nothing on the front, out of his closest.

I have plenty of fabric paint from other shirts we make at home and I use some left over spongy beads (from a different craft project) to use as a stamp for the eyes. (You could also use erasers or a bottle cap from a 2 litter bottle to make the circle shape.)

First give your monster a fun furry outline, some squiggly legs and antennae. After you give him a mouth, you can start filling him up with eyes. Using the soft foamy beads, I put a short piece of wire through them to make it a little easier to hold.

I made two big eyes near the middle of his face then several medium sized eyes and then I filled in the rest of the space with smaller eyes.

Once I felt I was close to 100 I counted, then counted and then counted and THEN made a few really tiny eyes to get 100!


Once the white paint was dry (about an hour) I went back in and used a pencil eraser to make the colored part. The shirt dried fully over night and now he’s ready to go.

Now I have 2 happy monsters!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recipe and Review

As part of my annual fresh start to the year, I’ve been trying new recipes and attempting to eat healthier. Not an easy task I might add. I’m a junk food junkie, this time of year hubby feels tubby and starts his rant about eating fewer carbs (while I could live on pasta alone) and three kids = at least one picky eater per meal.

Fipping through my “Light” Recipes cookbook I found a stuffed shell recipe that I thought I could pass by my critical crew.

Here’s the recipe…

You’ll need

1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms

½ cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 T margarine (I used butter)
16 oz. fat-free cottage cheese
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach thawed and drained
½ egg beaters (I used 1 egg)
24 jumbo pasta shells cooked and drained
1 jar spaghetti sauce

Sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic, season and remove from heat.

In a bowl, mix cottage cheese, spinach and sautéed ’shrooms n onion mixture then pour beaten egg over the mixture and blend together.

Now spoon the mixture into shells. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with sauce then fill with stuffed shells and cover with the remaining sauce. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until hot.

Here’s the review…

Easy enough to make. About 30 minutes to prep the dish and the 30 to 40 for it to bake.

I got a few eye rolls and a little grumbling as the kids sat down at the table. Once they got past the first bite it was all good. 2 out of 3 gobbled it up, the oldest is not a fan of sauce or of mushrooms. Hubby came home with sushi (here’s why) so He didn’t want any shells (Until he saw the “I worked at a meal and you’re not going to eat it!?!?!?” look on my face).

Overall, everyone gave me the approval to make it again. Next time, I would use fewer mushrooms and chop them smaller. It was a nice filler to the mixture but the texture was a little distracting.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Organization...Is it real?

It’s the start of a year so I’m still going strong XXXXX. (Insert the sound of screeching brakes here)

No, I’m desperately trying to hold on to what motivation I can find so I can accomplish my goals.

As usual organizing is on the list. I look at my office and I think Huh, this has been on my “to-do list for two years now. I’ve tried a few times but the size of the job is so overwhelming that I become frozen. I have no idea where to start or more appropriately, how to get the job done. I even took “before” photos last year so I could write a blog post and show you all, the wonderful job I did. That went well. Not sure I can find the before pictures which is ok ‘cause the office is in disarray again…. (still).

I’m feeling the need to have a major, post holiday, purge.

I know how to organize. I’m actually very good at organizing. The root of my problem is a space issue. Or as my Grandfather would say, “It’s like trying to put ten pounds of sh** in a five pound bag.” He had such a way with words, don’t ya think??

So since I’m not getting more space added to my house, I better look at what can let go of.

When I thought about listing what needs done, I realized it ALL needs done. The kids closets/dressers, My clothing, Hubbies clothing, the toy bins in the living room, the play room, the pantry, the bathrooms, even the basement storage and laundry room need purged. Every little nook and cranny has “extras” shoved into what space can be found. Closets, drawers and cabinets are all busting at the seams.

I envy the people who claim to live a minimalist lifestyle. (To a point anyway). As I think of organizing, I think of what product, container or bin I should get to help sort my stuff. So not only is it a need to keep or hold onto everything. It is also a desire to be a consumer.

I need to take a step back, stop myself from running away from the job (shopping for more stuff) and find a way to get my home in order.

I’m going on a journey to find elbow room in my house. A few basic rules I’ll need for survival:

When something comes into my house, something must go.

Don’t over stock pantry. Donate old clothes when new ones are purchased. (Gasp) Don’t start a new decorating or jewelry project until some pending projects are complete! (Ouch, that’s going to be a hard one.)

One piece of paper is the beginning of a stack.

Look at the paper, form, note or mail and then categorize its placement right away, not later, not tomorrow. Now. File it with papers to keep, place it in the bill folder, copy the pertinent info down to a calendar and pitch it!!!!

Create moments of success with small accomplishments.

Loosing motivation can be crippling for me. Then I tend to go in a downward spiral. I need to break things down into small jobs that I can finish in a short time to keep a hold on my motivation. Stop looking at pinterst for organizing ideas and just GO DO IT!!!!

Wish me luck on my quest.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year Everyone!

I’m sure you’re shocked to even see a post from me. I wanted to get off to a good start this year but I’m not making any promises of maintaining a blog schedule. I will say that I am going to try to make several changes in several areas of my life this year. So with that said, Blogging is on the “to do” list.

I know I was a bit lax this past year with a decreased number of post in each month and even missed a few months altogether. I think I feel I should keep my mouth shut when I have negative feelings. Not sure if that’s good or bad.

So as we say good buy to one year and hello to another year it’s always a good time to take a look around and reassess things. I look back at a year and think about what I did and how I feel about myself and the events in my life. 2012…Not a bad year. BUT… not a great one either. I struggled some, through the year but mostly the last quarter or so of the year. I think I can put my finger on most of the root causes and from there I know where to go to make improvements.

I have my list of goals to work on and hopefully that will keep me in check better this year. I know I didn’t really set any goals last year and that was a big part of the problem.

They are all in the standard goal categories; cook healthy/eat right, work on home projects/clean the house better, resolve/improve relationships and career goals.

Each of those has sub-categories that may prove to be quit challenging. So as a rule I re-examine goals regularly and make sure they are realistic and achievable.

The overall theme I’ll be focusing on this year is to be more “glass half full”. I really try to be that way, but the big problem is when I see that glass half empty, I dwell and spiral in that direction. Then I feel guilty about that and end up feeling even more negative about myself.

So here’s to the right foot forward and all things positive. One of my friends made a statement that really made sense to me. Rather than “Resolutions”, she is planning a year of “Intentions”. So for today at least I will be intentional!!!

I hope you all have the best 2013 you can!