Sunday, April 28, 2013

Preschool Graduation Day

I can hardly believe it but my little monkey is graduating from preschool in just a few short weeks.  We just got her official "cap and gown" photo and it is so darn cute.  I love it!

We have been brainstorming how to make this event extra special for her and her friends, and my mom told me about a cute autograph book she had seen in a store for $10.  The problem was, though, how was she going to get all of her friends to sign it?  I was going to have to ask her teacher if we could spend a few minutes passing it around, and that wasn't fair to the other kids who didn't have one.

So, we started thinking how cute it would be if they could have a preschool signing party, kind of like we used to have in high school when the yearbooks came out.  For the preschoolers, they could write their names and maybe draw a picture for each other.  Something that in 20 years I am sure each of them would love to look back and remember their "first" day of school or their "first" field trip.

I came up with a little design that I think is just right for this special event.  There's a little questionnaire in the front cover where each of the kids can answer about what their school year meant to them and a spot in the back to put a class photo.  We put 20 pages on the inside for plenty of space to right and draw little notes to each other.  I asked the preschool director if I supplied the books, if it would be okay to have a time where they all got to sign each other's books.  She was excited about the idea, so we put some together.

They turned out so cute, that I have to share them with everyone else.  If you want a set for your child's class, then click on the picture.  I think these would be perfect for Kindergarten too, and even Early Elementary.  Take a look.

I can't wait to pass them out!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have an awesome idea, you find all the stuff you need to do it with, you make it and it turns out better than you expected? I hadn't either, until now. Valentine's Day is approaching and I was thinking hard about a cute valentine my son could make. He is in First grade and does not like candy very much, so I wanted to do something he would really enjoy. There are tons of cute ideas floating around online and I had pinned several of them, but none of them were just right. He is obsessed with helicopters (really anything that flies, but mostly helicopters). That is where my brilliant inspiration began. My first thought was to find some toy helicopters and attach them somehow, but after a few searches I could not find any the size or price I wanted. Then I found this:

They are called "Whirl A Copters" and you can get them at Party City for .35 each!

I rushed out and got a dozen, came home and measured and came up with this design.

I designed it to fit a 4 x 6 size, so I uploaded it to Sam's Photo (I just joined Sam's, so with a new photo account registration I got 25 prints for free!) and went and picked them up an hour later.  Perfect!
Then I punched a hole at the top of the helicopter and at the bottom of the card and slid the Whirl-a-copter in.  When I showed it to my son, he gave me a look like, "you are the best mom ever."  I never get tired of that look : )  What made this extra special for us is he calls helicopters "whirly-birds" because we heard it on a video about helicopters one time and it just stuck.  So a "Whirly" good Valentine's Day was right up his alley.

Here is what the finished product looks like:

It's awesome, because there is just enough clearance at the top of the card to spin the copter around and it looks like the helicopter is really flying.  I can just see all the kids playing with it.  They will love it.  The teacher on the other hand, may not feel the same.  Sorry.

If you would like to give it a whirl (he, he), here is both a JPEG you could use for photo prints like I did, or a PDF to just print out on your own.  Happy Valentine's!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Yet another teacher gift

The M & M teacher treats I made last month for a teacher appreciation gift were so cute that I wasn't sure what else I could could come up with  for the end of the year.  Then, inspiration struck!  I saw the most adorable tutorial for making a canvas tote bag look like notebook paper.  (You can see that one here).  It was adorable, but I had to do multiple bags and I could not really see myself sitting with a ruler and a sharpie trying to make all the lines straight.  Plus, the original tutorial was really too large because all I wanted to put in mine was a thank you card with a gift card tucked inside.

The extra small canvas tote bags that you can get at Walmart or a craft store in a bundle of 5 were the perfect size (not to mention, I needed to make five gifts!).  Given that I didn't want to draw all those lines, I decided the easiest way to do multiples was with an iron on transfer.  I made the finished image 5" x 5" and it turned out to be the perfect size. My son has CP, so handwriting is difficult and I knew he would not be able to sign his name on each bag.  The best solution was to have him write it once, then scan it and make it part of the iron-on transfer.  It worked beautifully!

The only slight problem I had was my iron didn't get the transfer hot enough at the top near the seam of the bag so it was peeling off just a little.  I fixed that by hot gluing a strip of ribbon over it and a little bow.  It solved the problem and gave the whole thing a little more flare.

Somewhere along the way I decided that a thank you note was not enough, and I ended up in the candy aisle trying to make a clever saying out of something that was on sale.  The best I could work in were Hershey's Hugs and Kisses and Extra gum: "Hugs and Kisses for a teacher who went the Extra mile this year."  I also decided later this afternoon that a cuter slogan probably would have been: "Hugs and Kisses for a teacher who gave a little Extra this year."  Here's what it looks like:

Below you'll find a link to PDFs of both the regular orientation and a mirror-image versions of both of the sayings.  Use the original if you'd rather just make a card or something like that.  If you want to do an iron-on, you need to use the mirror so it will read correctly when it is finished (follow the directions from the iron-on transfer paper you use).  I've got it 2-up because chances are you are using a full-sheet of paper and why waste the space?  Hope you like it!

Teacher Little Extra Paper Teacher Little Extra Paper Mirror Teacher Thank You Paper Teacher Thank You Paper Mirror Image

Friday, April 20, 2012

Repair Your Reusable Shopping Bags

It's almost Earth Day, so here's an eco-friendly tip I learned from a friendly bagger at Publix.  I had come through the line with my sad little reusable shopping bags.  They were floppy and flimsy because the little plastic pieces that sit in the bottoms had broken and/or fallen out; they had been pretty neglected and we were kind of embarrassed to keep using them.  If this has happened to you too, don't panic.  There is a simple, free solution.  Find an old cardboard box, cut a side off, measured to the dimensions of the bottom of the bag and slide it in.  You'll be back to proudly carrying your groceries again in style.  So easy, so earth-friendly and so economical!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Frozen Strawberry Muffins

Who doesn't love chocolate covered strawberries?  They are delicious, but they can't be stored very well.  Here's an easy, delicious variation of a chocolate dipped strawberry that can be frozen and saved for later.

All you need is some strawberries, almond bark (chocolate or white chocolate) and a mini-muffin tin.  For a 24-cup mini-muffin tin, you'll use about a pint of strawberries and about 18-20 oz of almond bark.

First, rinse the strawberries and cut off the tops.  Then, chop them into smaller pieces.  You can quarter them, or cut them smaller, depending on what you like better.  Blot them dry with a towel, or just let them air dry.

Next, melt the almond bark in a double boiler.   
(Just fill a larger pot with water about 1/3 - 1/2 full, then put a smaller pot inside of it.  When the water in the bottom pan boils, it melts the chocolate in the top pan slowly so it heats up evenly).
You can melt it in the microwave, but the double boiler is easier to work with.  Stir up the blocks of bark as they melt and when they get to a creamy consistency pour it into the muffin tins.  I put cooking spray on my tin, because I thought it might be easier to remove them in the end.  Not sure if it is necessary though.

Once the tin is filled with chocolate, just place the strawberry pieces inside of the bark.  It's best if you push them in and make sure they are covered really good by the bark.  Stuff in as many strawberries in as you can.  Then, just stick the muffin tin into the freezer.  After a few hours, take them out of the freezer and try to pop them out.  The best way is to take the tip of a knife and use it to push them out.  If they don't come out easy then let the pan sit out for a minute or two so the almond bark gets a little softer.

Voila!  You can serve them immediately, or put them in a freezer-tight container and save them for 3 or 4 days.  If you use frozen strawberries instead of fresh ones, you can probably save it even longer.  I'll probably try experimenting with different fruits next like oranges or raspberries.  Anything tastes good when it's covered with chocolate, right?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teacher Treats

It was my turn to bring the teacher appreciation treats to school, and I found this awesome idea for a "Marvelous and Magnificent" teacher.  I found the original idea here.  I loved it, but had to make 15 of these so the larger plastic paint cans were out of the budget.  Luckily, I found these cute mason jars at Michael's that were only $1.29, and a 20% off entire purchase coupon!  My other stroke of luck, a BOGO on M&Ms at Publix.  Just fill up the jars, pick out a cute polka-dot ribbon and tie the poem to the side.  It was so easy, that the hardest part was not eating any of the M&Ms.

I'm a graphic designer by trade, so I thought the poem card could use some sprucing up.  I also thought it would be nice to share it with everyone else, so if you like the design you can print it at the end of this post.  This is such a cute idea that could work for so many different situations.  With a few tweaks to the poem, you could celebrate an "M&M" mom or dad, a volunteer or even a good friend.  

Lollipop Garden

I found a new Easter tradition!  I either read or dreamed someone writing about jellybean seeds and lollipop flowers and I thought, what a great idea!  On Easter eve, I told the kids that we were going to plant a special garden, and we put some paper shreds in the bottom of two little buckets.  Emily got a handful of jellybeans and Travis, who only eats goldfish, got a handful of goldfish to "plant" in the buckets.  Then we talked about how the Easter bunny would hop over to them and make something grow in the morning.  Here's what they were excited to find:

Goldfish carrots and lollipop flowers!  They loved it!

For the carrots, just put a handful of goldfish in a plastic icing decorator bag and tie it off with some green ribbon.  For the lollipops, I just cut out some random flower shapes, punched a whole and taped the lollipop in place.  It was so much fun and I think the kids actually liked these better than their baskets.