Teacher Appreciation Week

Posted by on May 16, 2012 | 5 comments

I love a good Teacher Appreciation Week.  When I was a teacher this week couldn’t come at a better time; it was usually during a crazy, hectic spring-is-insane kind of week, and the parents at our school always did an amazing job of making us feel loved and valued.  I learned a lot of great ideas as a teacher, and now that I am a parent with kids in preschool (and soon-to-be kindergarten) I was excited to shower the teachers at our preschool with some TLC.  Hopefully my ideas will give you some inspiration, too.

My kids go to a local preschool that has a very laid-back feel.  I love it.  There isn’t a lot of fuss about anything- the kids are there to be loved and to learn to love school.  The teachers love what they do.  Can’t ask for much more than that!

In years past, I’ve done a “Thank You Party” for the teachers that taught my kids.  It was really fun, but the longer they are at this school, the more teachers they come into contact with, and hosting an entire staff at my house… well, I do love a good party, but I’m not quite ready for that.  So this year, now that I’m not pregnant or teaching, I decided this is the year to do a real Teacher Appreciation Week.  Here’s what I did to prepare and put it into action!



I emailed our preschool director to get the message out, and she forwarded my email to all of the parents at our school.  I requested that all of the parents let me know if they wanted to help out, contribute money, or whatever was easiest.  I also let everyone know that participation was not required, as I didn’t want to pressure anyone into doing something when they had already planned their own thing.  Very quickly we had a plan, which you’ll see below.

Then I gave a questionnaire to all of the teachers to find out what they like to eat, do, etc.  I thought this would help the parent get to know the teachers and also get everyone excited about the week.  When the teachers filled these out, I compiled them into a simple Word document and emailed it out to the parents to help them with ideas for personal gifts, etc.  Here’s the questionnaire- feel free to download it!  Just click and “save as.”

I also put out sign-up sheets for parents to bring in treats on two days.  One day is for healthy snacks and the other is sweet treats- a little bit of both sides of the spectrum.  To help with costs for decorations and gifts for the directors and cook at the school, I also put out a collection envelope.  This was very helpful- it gave me a budget to work with, and any remaining money can be put towards a gift card to a book store or a place like Lakeshore Learning.  This also allowed super-busy families to contribute and help out without stressing out.


The Thursday before Teacher Appreciation Week I passed out this sheet to all of the teachers so that they could know what they had to look forward to for the week.  It’s always fun to know what’s going on and be informed, right?!



Once the plan is in place everything sort of takes care of itself.   The only really involved thing was this past Monday.  Everyone brought in flowers when they dropped off their kids, and we needed to get them into vases so that each room had fresh flowers to enjoy for the week.

I had help from two lovely moms, and another decorated vases for us- they are perfect!  I showed up with an empty bucket and some trimmers for trimming stems.  It took us about an hour to get the flowers removed from their wrappers, separated into 10 bouquets, and trimmed to fit the vases.  I was very thankful for the help- doing it by myself would have taken a few hours.  I also downloaded this adorable bunting from Urban Bliss- I think it was intended to be used as flash cards, but I wanted something cute to hang, so I just punched holes and used some ribbon.  It looks super cute.  I also sewed together some streamers thanks to the amazing Dana.  I made these for Jack’s Party and they will become a staple in our house, for sure.



Parents bring in treats.  I was planning on setting them out, but my son, Jack, was sick, so an awesome mom pitched in and set stuff out for me so I didn’t contaminate the food. :)  Thanks, Jessica!


I called our local Jamba Juice and got a great deal on 20 smoothies.  They even gave us a nice discount since we were a) ordering a boat-load of smoothies, and b) it was for amazing teachers.  Score!


Parents bring in treats.  Easy!


I pick up bagels and cream cheese to bring in, and parents bring in their own gifts.  I also bring in gifts for the director and cook of the school.  Hooray for Teacher Appreciation Week!

What do you do during this week for your kids’ teachers?  There’s tons of inspiration on Pinterest, but I’d love to hear what you have done, too!

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Mother’s Day Project & San Diego MNO!

Posted by on Apr 24, 2012 | 15 comments

Are you ready to clean up your Pinterest Boards?  Thursday is Clean Up Your Pinterest Boards Day!  Join us and make sure your pins are legit!  Can’t wait!

Are you ready for Mother’s Day?  I am!  I love having a day to celebrate the fact that I’m a MOM!  I can’t believe I’m 36 and have three beautiful kids.  Before I get into the details of my post, I want to share an event I’ll be attending and am SO EXCITED about!    I’m also on the committee promoting it because I am so thrilled that this group exists for the sole purpose of giving MOMS a NIGHT OFF!  Woot!

If you are a San Diego mom, you should come to San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event!  Don’t worry, it’s not on the “real” Mother’s Day- it’s Thursday, May 10th.   National Mom’s Nite Out is the first nationally organized celebration of motherhood intended to bring together today’s moms, physically and virtually.  National Mom’s Nite Out unites hundreds of social media groups, companies, local playgroups, mommy bloggers and mother social networks in giving moms a well deserved night off. National Mom’s Night Out consists of local events held across the country including ours!

San Diego Mom’s Night Out Mother’s Day Event is going to be at Bliss 101 in Encinitas.  I live in El Cajon, and let me tell you- the drive will be worth it!  Just a few of the fun things planned: wine, food, skinny shots, massages, and swag bags!  Need I say more?  Go get your ticket, gals!   For reals- it’s going to be so nice!

Now, onto my tutorial- I am so pleased with how these turned out!

First things first:  CREDIT.  I first saw this project on Pinterest, which sent me to Mandy Douglass’ blog, It Will Change Your Life. At the bottom of this post I saw the cutest thing I’ve ever seen for Mother’s Day, and thought to myself, “I HAVE to make this!”  I emailed Mandy, and she so graciously agreed to let me post this tutorial.  Thank you, Mandy!

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Jack’s Party: Scavenger Hunt!

Posted by on Mar 29, 2012 | 5 comments

I wanted something easy for the kids to do during the party, and since I was hopeful that it wouldn’t rain and we have a pretty big yard, I wanted to keep them outside for at least part of the time.  I started by searching on Pinterest for “boy parties” and such, and happened across a scavenger hunt.  The only problem was that it wasn’t suited for our environment- I think it was a beach hunt.  After a bit more searching I realized I just needed to spend some time in Photoshop.  It really didn’t take long to make.

Each bag had a little magnifying glass tied to the handle (purchased from Oriental Trading), and I also stuck a pencil in each bag.  Then they could use their pencil to mark things off (or their parent could), they could collect a lemon from our lemon tree, and whatever else they wanted to keep.  Recognize the wagon? :)

When they were done, I let them choose between one of these or these as a prize.  I didn’t “enforce” too much- but lots of them were so proud of finding everything on the page.  It was super cute!

Some tips if you decide to do a scavenger hunt:

  • Don’t get too specific if your crowd is younger- keep it simple.
  • Don’t hand out the bags until AFTER you give directions- otherwise they will likely just take the bags and run off without really knowing what to do.
  • Expect it to take just about 20 minutes or so, maybe a bit longer.
  • Advise guests to wear appropriate footwear- we put it on the back of our invitation.  Our yard is not one for flip flops at this time of year.


Here’s my birthday boy and his daddy during the hunt.  My two men. (Note the gopher holes in the foreground.)

As an aside, the other thing we had that ended up not working as well was the Giga Ball.  (It cost way less wherever I got it, but can’t remember where.)  I love this thing!  It’s the best money I’ve spent for parties and gatherings/play dates.  We intended for everyone to do it as they arrived (before food consumption).  Unfortunately on this day it was so damp outside that everyone (including my husband) started getting too wet and muddy, so we had to put it aside.  Later it came out again after the sun burned off some moisture.  Some kids like being rolled down the hill.  Others…not so much.  Either way- it sure is a fun thing to have around!

Below is the hunt.    The tree with the question mark is for “Which tree is the tallest?”.  The “???” is for if they find something that’s not on the page. “Take one of each” is for our citrus trees- we have three (lemon, orange, and grapefruit) but we ended up only having them pick lemons because the other two have lots of bees right now.  The grasshopper was just an example of a bug.  You’re welcome to download it. I’d appreciate some pins or comments if you download it.  Thanks!

Up tomorrow:  Food and Wrap-Up!


Also a big thanks to my friend, Tonya, again for her lovely photos that add so much to these posts!

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Pinterest Projects: Butterfly Window

Posted by on Mar 23, 2012 | Comments Off on Pinterest Projects: Butterfly Window

Maybe I should call this “Butterfly Week”?

{For my fellow Pinterest Pals:  Please do NOT pin this post!  Please go the the original post, linked below, and pin her original content. I want to blog and pin with integrity, and I am not the original person who thought of this- she deserves the credit.  Thanks!}

I saw this post, pinned it on my Pinterest board, and wanted to tackle it immediately.  As in, “We-must-drink-all-the-milk-so-I-can-prep-this-project” immediately.  Alas, I had to gather a few of the supplies, so it was not that quick.  It was most excellent to have a valid excuse to buy a huge pack of Sharpies in lots of colors.  Who doesn’t love Sharpies, right?

I was so happy that I did this with Anna.  Truth be told, she only did the coloring, and she wore out much sooner than I did, but still- she did a few and it was fun.  And she loves them. Every once in a while she will say, “Mommy!  Look!  There are real, live butterflies in our window!”  I’ll say, “No way, really?!”  And she’ll say, “No, silly, they’re just pretend.”  I’m going to miss four.  Four really is fun.

The only thing I will add to the excellent directions on the original post, is that putting these in the window has caused most of the colors to fade. The yellow faded within a few days.  The magenta color hardly budged, though- must be something in the pigment.  It was easy to take them down and touch them up, though.  I love them for this time of year.  So fun.  Make some.  Make them right  now- you can thank me later.

Happy Weekend- my son turns three today, so there will be party posts forthcoming!

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IKEA Office Drawer Makeover {Mod Podge}

Posted by on Mar 7, 2012 | 16 comments

It’s time to get craftin’ around here a bit more.  I have been spending the last few weeks really cleaning out my craft room and getting it organized.  It’s getting to be pretty awesome.  Now all that remains is plowing through some projects so that I can clear off the bed, since the room is also technically a guest room.

I’ve had this little drawer organizer for over 10 years.  It’s one of the first things I ever bought from IKEA, and it’s one of the only things I’ve bought from there that did not require assembly.  I LOVE assembling IKEA furniture.  I’m weird like that.

I decided that since we are going to be in this house until our kids are grown and in college, it’s time to commit to spiffing this thing up.  I also organized all of my office stuff, and purged a lot, so it’s much more feasible to use this in a logical way.  The little orange tabs you see above are what I used to temporarily label the drawers while I pondered what to do with this thing.

You may or may not have seen my sewing & crafting organizers, but this is the same fabric.  Here’s my before and after; below you’ll see a bit about my process.  Doesn’t it look soooo much cooler?!

To prepare the fabric, I measured the width of the drawers. I know that fabric tends to stretch a bit when you use it with Mod Podge, but I also wanted a wrap around on the drawers, so I added about 1/2 inch to the measurement.  I pressed my fabric in the middle of the pattern- you can see the crease below.  Then I measured the height of the drawers and cut very precisely.  I actually had to do this twice because I messed up and Mod Podged a piece on upside down.  Whoops.  Note:  once you put the fabric on, it’s never going to be the same, so if you mess up, you mess up.  It’s best to have extra fabric for this project, unless you are perfect in every way.  Ha.

I knew that I’d be working on this in spurts, so I labeled the pieces of fabric with the corresponding drawer and also an arrow to remind me which was way up.  To do this, I used tailor’s chalk so it just brushed off before I Mod Podged. I didn’t want to leave anything to chance- that’s dangerous for me.

To attach the pieces, I applied a layer of MP to half of the drawer face, pressed the fabric down, and gave it a good rub down.  Then I did the other side.  Before the MP dried, I also poked a hole where the drawer pulls would go back in later.  I just used a sharp pair of scissors.  On the right, below, you can see the little bit of fabric that wrapped around the edge.  These were stubborn- I had to hold them down for about 30 seconds while the MP did it’s work.  I coated the top of the fabric with two coats of MP.

For the top, I measure the fabric and cut to size.  There’s a metal trim, and the fabric stretched over it, so after it dried completely I used an exacto knife and trimmed it off.  I coated the top with Hard Coat Mod Podge, and then sprayed acrylic sealer on it (just one coat) so that it wouldn’t be tacky on the top where I am putting some often-used supplies.

The drawers I labeled with vellum so that the pattern of the fabric wouldn’t be interrupted.  I just love it.

Click here to see all of my Mod Podge projects!

Here’s the before and after again:

Also, you may have noticed my sewing machine cords back there on the left.  I stuck two 3M Command Strips to the wall and I hang my sewing machine cords on them.  That way, when I’m not using my machine and it’s covered up, the cords aren’t under the table getting in the way.  Genius, right?!  :)





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Operation Organization: Art Station

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 | Comments Off on Operation Organization: Art Station

I realize that this is not rocket science.  It’s a simple plastic bin with labels.  But I LOVE to see how other people organize their crap, so I thought I’d share what I did in this situation.

I was going absolutely bonkers.  For reals.

As I mentioned in my recent post about Anna’s mail slot, she is a very creative little girl.  She comes up with crazy Tinker-Toy creations, she builds amazing things with blocks (engineer, architect perhaps?), and loves, loves, loves to draw.  She loves art so much that I have to throw things away on the sly, lest our house become a fire hazard of paper.   I’m still working on a system to determine what stays and what goes, but what was more pressing was how to contain her supplies and her completed work.

I mention in my “About Nat” page that I am a practical crafter.  While I LOVE looking at DIY art stations with cute, color coordinated tubs, repurposed antique holders and such, that is not me.  If I put a lot of energy into something that is likely to get used, abused and tired, it will make me mad/frustrated/annoyed if it doesn’t hold up, stay perfect and pristine.  So with something like this, I like to go with easy, plastic bins from Wal-Mart.

I think this thing cost about $17.  I may get another when Jack gets more into art, but right now I’m lucky if I can keep up with the sticker trail he leaves all over our house.  He has one coloring book right now.  That’s all he needs.

What I like about this thing is it can only hold so much, so every once in a while I go through and downsize to prevent further insanity.

I started with simple labels on the drawers.  From top to bottom they read:

  • All done!
  • Not done & Blank Paper
  • Coloring Books & Stickers
  • Art Supplies
  • Activity Books

The labels however, did not stick to the plastic bins- they kept curling up.  So I sliced up a scrap of paper and stuck them to the paper.  Then I used some adhesive squares to stick them to the drawers, and now they stay nice and flat.

The art supply drawer is great:

The kids can pull out a tub (Target $1 section- they always have these) of crayons or markers, take them to the table, and then put them away easily (in theory).  Or, in reality, when it’s time for dinner, it doesn’t take me forever to get their crap out of the way. 😉

I’m sure there are cuter ways to do this- if you have one, please do show me.  If I see something too cute to resist I may do something different, but for now, plastic bins rule this particular roost.



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