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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DIY Chalkboards {Summertime Fun!}

Posted by on May 9, 2012 | 5 comments


I want this summer of 2012 to be one my kids remember.  I want it to be fun.  I also want to be able to say to them, “Go Play Outside!” as often as possible.  I have lots of memories of being sent outside to play when I was growing up.  There’s just nothing like summer when you’re a kid.

For a long time this area of our house has been off limits.  It was full of mud, gopher holes, and sharp, dangerous tools.  This fall we’ll have been here three years.  And thankfully, this is the first summer where I think we really NEED this space for our family, and it’s ready!  I’ll be showing you more later, but for now, we’ll stick to these home-made chalkboards I made for the kids.  They’ve been a big hit, and were very straightforward to make.  I saw this idea on several blogs a few years ago, and of course now I can’t remember any of them.  I knew I could buy a chalkboard somewhere, but I wanted them to be small so the kids or I could move them easily, and I didn’t want to feel bad if they get banged up, as I’m sure they will.

I went to Home Depot one day to get something completely unrelated and came home with all the fixings to make these.  I grabbed three square pieces of wood (I could wander in the lumber part of Home Depot all day just to smell the wood).  I believe they are 2 ft. x 2 ft. I also grabbed 2 cans of this primer by Rustoleum:

And 2 cans of this Chalk Board Paint, also by Rustoleum.

Making these was very simple, but a bit time-consuming in order to let the primer and paint dry.  I just followed the directions on the can.  I’d throw on my painting clothes in the morning and slap a coat on.  Then in the afternoon I’d do another.

I did three coats of primer and three coats of chalkboard paint.  I think it took 3-4 days to complete.

The thing that was most helpful was using extra pavers to elevate the boards.  See this picture below?  This is how I started; do not start this way.  Find something thick and even that you don’t care about and stick it under the boards so you can’t see it.  Then you can paint the entire surface of the board AND the edges, and it is easy peasy.

We already had quite a collection of sidewalk chalk.  I was thinking about buying regular chalk until I saw how much sidewalk chalk we have.  We can wait.

I bought this handy carrying case at Target.  The bottom compartment still needs something- haven’t decided what we’ll put in there.

We use some planters I got in the dangerous dollar section at Target to hold water for dunking our chalk.  It makes the colors so vibrant.

The day we started using these, Anna was in heaven.  I drew a picture on the middle board to show her how to do the water, and she was ready to go.  This little girl is a creative type, just like her mommy. :)

Jack just has fun making a mess and asking me to draw things for him.  Helicopters are the most popular.

What fun things do your kids like to do outside?

And by the way- do my pictures not look SO much better?!  Hooray for new cameras!

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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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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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Anna’s Mail Slot

Posted by on Feb 8, 2012 | Comments Off on Anna’s Mail Slot

My daughter, Anna, loves two things:  art and mail.  She’s a very creative little soul, and she likes nothing more than the thought of sending one of her creations to someone far away, whether it’s a friend in town or her cousin, Paul, in Kansas.

We were getting to the point where I needed to have a system for her because she would give me a piece of paper and tell me it needed to be mailed to (insert name here).  I’d set it down, and then days later she’d ask if I sent the paper, and I’d have no idea which one she meant.  So I whipped up this little mail slot and stuck it on the side of her art station, which I’ll talk about more later.  I love it because it works AND it doesn’t take up a lot of space.  Would a little mailbox be cuter?  Yes.  Would it get lost, in the way, trampled and tripped on, too?  Yes.

Now, when she has something to send, she gets to stick it in her mail slot, and I can ask her who it’s supposed to go to when I get mail ready to send.  You’ll see in the photo on the right she’s stuck in a special drawing for someone. :)

I’d like to say this is a tutorial, but I came up with it so fast that I didn’t take totally detailed pictures.  The light is very wonky, too- it was too hot to have the kitchen shades up (in January!) so the light is very yellow.  Better to have weird lighting than no lighting at all…

You will need:

  • three sheets of 12×12 scrapbook paper (ignore my four sheets there- I had one extra).  I went with traditional red, white, and blue to mimic our postal service, but you could make them whatever color you like.  (I really wanted to find some air mail paper but had no luck.)
  • You could easily do this with glue or a glue stick, but I found zips adhesive strips to be super fast and less messy in this case.
  • I also used adhesive squares.
  • Some decorative letters are also nice, but not necessary.

Take the paper that you are going to use as the front of the slot and cut it in half diagonally as shown below.  I used a ruler to eyeball it because it won’t fit in my paper cutter.  Do NOT paste them together yet.

With your trim color, cut yourself five (not four as shown below- see?  Horrible tutorial!) 1-inch strips, and fold them in half.  Crease them so that they are folded very precisely.

If you’re using a glue stick you’ll take the diagonal edge of one of your triangles- the edge that will go where the mail will enter the slot.  This will be the covered-up edge, so you don’t need to cover the whole edge.  I would probably apply the glue to the white strip (nice and thick) and then press down. Let dry, flip it over, and glue the other side of the white strip down.

For the zips, you can see I cut a length just a bit shorter than the white and then pressed it down.  Turn over, repeat.

Either way, trim the extra off after it’s set.

This is what you end up with:

Now you can adhere the blue/front pieces together at the bottom.

Put your red/back piece behind the blue/front pieces that are now glued together.  Use your remaining white strips to trim the bottom and sides.  You will have to trim here and there to make it all flush at the corners.  This is where the zips came in super handy, but if you don’t have them, I’m sure glue will work fine.  Just be sure to use a heavy-duty glue in case your kid wants to send lots of mail. :)

Stick some letters on if you want/have them,  and you’re done!  Anna loves having this, and it has taken one more thing off the counter.

Do you want some fun mail?  I have about a bazillion pieces of art I could send you….


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