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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Falling In Love With Fall

For the next 3 weeks our over-all theme is Fall.  The first week was "Leaves and Trees", and the letter was "Tt".
Right away I wanted to make a snack in the shape of leaves, because, well, that sounds awesome!
So, I thought of Jello.  Everyone loves Jello.  I bought red (cherry), orange (orange) and green (lime).  



I followed the directions for jigglers, but I think the pans I used were too large, and the jello ended up being too thin and wouldn't cut.  So, I got enough out for every kid to have one, and then they got just regular jello.

The leaves.

The Jello.

Okay, so remember how I said that everyone loves Jello?  Well, apparently my kids don't.
So, to sum up, the Jello wasn't the greatest hit.
On the craft/art side, I had the kids write a giant "T", and then glue leaves on it.  Also, we made family "T"rees.  They drew a trunk, then ripped up little pieces of brown, red, yellow and green construction paper as leaves.  Then, they glued their family pictures on it, which they loved!  Kids love to talk about their home lives.

The second week was "Squirrels and Acorns"  I found a really cute recipe for "acorns" on pinterest.  It was made with Mini Nilla Wafers, Hershey's Chocolate Kisses and peanut butter.  (It actually called for  chocolate frosting, but peanut butter is healthier, I already had it, and none of my kids are allergic.)


These are seriously the easiest snacks EVER!!!  They're also very yummy!  Much bigger hit than the Jello.

I put the peanut butter in a ziplock, and snipped off the end.  I put about a pea-size on the flat side of the kiss, stuck the mini nilla wafer on it, and put a little drop of peanut butter on top of that for the stem.
And, voila...



These little acorns were a huge hit!  The teachers loved them, the kids loved them, and the parents came in the next day going, "They said they ate acorns yesterday...?"  I would absolutely make these again, and highly recommend them for any function from a kids' party, after school snack, Thanksgiving or Fall/Harvest party.  They are simply adorable!

That same day, we had a Literacy Parade, in which the kids dressed up as their favorite book characters, and brought the books in, to share with the other kids.  For me it was a no-brainer.  Amelia Bedelia.  I have loved and identified with her since I was a little girl.

So, I went to Goodwill and bought a simple, black, long-sleeved dress for $6, and a black hat for $3.  One of Dan's dress shirts had gotten ruined a few months back (and I kept it to make something out of), so I cut the collar off that, and just wore that with the dress.  I didn't have any luck finding a black apron, until I asked the wonderful lady who cooks at the preschool.  She had some made out of garbage-bag-type plastic, which was perfect.  After that I made some flowers out of pink construction paper, and this is what I looked like:

Pretty close to the real thing, if you ask me! :)  (Even though about 70% of people didn't know who she was.)

So, this has been our Fall Theme.  I've thoroughly enjoyed what we've done, and hope you find some of my ideas, tips and slight failures (namely, Jello) helpful.

I would love to hear any type of feedback from you, please let me know if you have any ideas for our next theme - COMMUNITY HELPERS.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mrs. Blair's Pig Pen

So, last week was Pet Week, and the next week was... Farm Week!
I wanted to come up with a fun craft/art for the kids to do, that would tie in with the theme, but be something that we could hang on the wall and show off to their parents.  I remembered this craft we made one time (in church or school, or with my mom- who knows!) where we made animals with clothespin legs.  I wanted the kids to cut out the pieces, because we're learning shapes, and practicing fine motor skills, like cutting.  
I used the bottom of a hand sanitizer bottle (or germy, if you're 4) for the body, which made a perfect oval shape.  Then the paper clip holder was the perfect size for the head.  I traced these on pink paper, for the kids to then cut out.  Then, I had this awesome construction paper that was different skin tone colors.  I took the caucasian color out.  I traced a smaller circle for the snout, and two triangles for the ears.  Then I had clothespins, googley eyes and pink pipe cleaners (or chenilles) for the tails.
They all named and cut out the shapes, and glued them together.  Then, they drew on two nostrils, and glued on the googley eyes.  They colored the clothespins pink (a pink highlighter worked really well).  I helped them twist the pipe cleaner on a thin marker and attach it to the pig's bottom.

OH MY GOODNESS!!!
Cutest things ever!




Once the kids made theirs, I had to make one of my own!

I took pictures of all the kids with their pigs, and gave them to their parents.

Then, I made a "Pig Pen", and attached all the piggies to it, so my kids could show them off to everyone who walked by our room.

So broken down, here is what you need for one pig:
1 oval shape for body
1 large circle for head
1 small circle for snout
2 triangles for ears
2 googley eyes
2 clothes pins
1 pipe cleaner, wrapped around a pencil
Pink highlighter
Black marker
Glue stick

For a snack that week, I bought them Milk Straws from "got milk?".  (Because milk comes from cows, and cows live on farms.)  They were a big hit!

We also had animal crackers.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was Farm Week in our K4 class!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My New Life as a K4 Teacher

For those of you who may not know, Dan and I moved to Florida 2 months ago, for a job he got as a youth pastor at a wonderful church in Jacksonville.  

For me, this meant that I was back on the job hunt.  I am very blessed, because I found two great jobs right away.  The first, is teaching ballet and jazz ballet to 3-4 and 5-7 year olds.  This is SO much fun, and I'm really enjoying the fact that I've found my way back to my childhood love like this.

My second, and "real" job is as a K4 VPK teacher.  I work at a wonderful Christian Private school, called Seacoast Christian Academy.  (The VPK program is public though.)  It's also such a blessing, the school is only a 20 minute walk away from our apartment.  This is very convenient, because right now we only have one car (oh yeah, and because I don't have my license yet - shut up!)
 This position incorporates EVERYTHING that I love to do.  Most importantly teaching.  Not to mention that it's my favorite age group!  I also am constantly needing to be creative, coming up with fun new activities and art projects.  We also have Bible time, which is straight up my alley, as well as music and movement.  Did I mention that I was made for this job!!???
Also, you know I'm coming up with cute, topic-related snacks!

So, this blog is going to take a slight new direction.  I will still be posting about my latest baking/crafting/cooking/pinterest conquests, however most of the time they will have to do with things we're doing in class.

Two weeks ago was pet week.  Oh my, don't even get me started!!!  Give me a topic, and watch me go crazy!

First, I painted a paw print on my big toe.
I used a paw shaped puncher on painter's tape, stuck that on my toe, painted over it and, voila - paw print toes!!!

Because of my love of scrapbooking, and my love for my doggie, Bella, I have a giant paw print stamp.
At the end of the day, all my kids got to go home with "paws for hands".
They were crazy about them!  I loved it, because the parents got to see exactly what our topic was, the kids loved them, and I got to be the cool teacher. :)

Now, on Fridays I've been trying to have a special snack, one that ties in with the topic.  In Ohio I learned about "puppy chow".  It involves peanut butter, so I wasn't sure I'd be a fan, but it was surprisingly good.   I found a recipe on momswhothink.com.  This snack is so simple, so cute, and very yummy!

It calls for:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
9 cups Chex cereal (any flavor)
3 cups powdered sugar

You melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together.  Then, you pour it over the 9 cups of Chex cereal, and make sure it all get coated really well.  Next, you put (portions of) it in a ziplock bag, pour some powdered sugar in it, seal the bag, and shake it- shake it like a polaroid picture.  Once you've gotten powdered sugar on all of it, put it in a bowl, and serve it up!

It was so adorable, and thankfully I knew none of my kids were allergic to peanut butter, so I didn't have to modify the recipe.  I was so excited to have brought in such a cool and different snack!
That same day we made cat and dog ears (they had to cut out either triangles for the cats or ovals for the dogs), and they wore them while they had their "puppy chow".

SO, that was pet week!  The next week was farm week.  Wait till you see what they made... I'll give you a hint!  They're pink and go "oink"!

We're Floridians!!!

For those of you who may not know, Dan and I moved to Florida 2 months ago, for a job he got as a youth pastor at a wonderful church in Jacksonville called First Coast Christian Center.  

For me, this meant that I was back on the job hunt.  I am very blessed, because I found two great jobs right away.  The first, is teaching ballet and jazz ballet to 3-4 and 5-7 year olds.  This is SO much fun, and I'm really enjoying the fact that I've found my way back to my childhood love like this.

My second, and "real" job is as a K4 VPK teacher.  I work at a wonderful Christian Private school, called Seacoast Christian Academy.  (The VPK program is public though.)  This position incorporates EVERYTHING that I love to do.  

But first, let's back up to the move.
We arrived on August 5th, after a two day trip in a moving van, with Bella sitting between Dan and I in the front seat.
Shhh... we gave her baby Benadril so she would sleep for most of the trip- she was the best behaved dog in the world!
We moved into our apartment, which we love very much.  There's a lake on the property, around which we take Bella for a walk every day.  Even though we live on a busy streat, our apartment building is so far back, we can't even hear street noise, which is great!  (I strongly dislike my itty-bitty kitchen, in which Dan and I bump butts while we're cooking, but hey!)
Best part is- we're 20 minutes away from the beach.  At first, Bella hated the beach, but she's really become quite the beach dog! 

This was Bella's first time with sand and water (besides baths).  She wasn't quite sure what to think...

Dan is so happy to be so close to the beach!  He could go every day!  And that first week- we nearly did!

I really love this picture of Bella and I.  We're loving the beach life!

My little beach baby.

On a date that ended with a walk on the beach - not too shabby!
So, this is our new life.  A new church family, new jobs, our pet baby (who we love and spoil too much), a new apartment and the beach. 


For your entertainment:
video

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Home-made Peanut Butter Dog Treats

These home-made peanut butter dog treats are super easy, cute and your puppy will love them!  I found the recipe on all-natural-dog-treat.com, but I changed some of the measurements.


Here's what you need:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup water
2 tbs oil

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Combine all ingredients.  Kneed dough into a ball, then roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness.  I used a small (1 inch) bone shaped cookie cutter to cut out the treats.  Made about 40.  I placed them on a silicone baking mat, put them in the oven, and baked them for 20 minutes.  I let them cool, and gave 2 to each of my sweet puppies.  They loved them!

My sweeties.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Inside-out Cheesecake


I'm always looking for new dessert ideas, and I love ones that look more complicated than they were.  Again, on pinterest.com I found a perfect example of this.  Cheesecake filled raspberries, which I lovingly call "inside-out cheesecake".  I had the perfect opportunity to make these too.  Dan and I, with friends, got lawn tickets to the Cleveland Orchestra's 4th of July concert at the Blossom Center in Cuyahoga Falls.  That meant a picnic, YAY! And of course a red white and blue dessert.  

So, what you need for this dessert:
- Raspberries and/or blueberries
- Cheesecake (pre-made or your own- a recipe that doesn't have raw egg)
- Graham crackers
- Frosting bags (ziplocks would probably work too)

First you wash the raspberries, crush up the graham crackers, and fill your frosting bag with the cheesecake (I used Philadelphia's pre-made stuff simply because I can't get enough of the stuff).

Then, you put the froster nozzle in the raspberry and fill it up...

'Til it's just a little over the top.

Then you dunk them in the graham cracker crumbs.

AND THAT'S IT!

So simple, so yummy.

They're great, because you get the satisfaction and taste of the cheesecake, but you're getting so many less calories, and full raspberries.

Next, for the raspberries.

I put as much cheesecake in top as I could.

Dunked, and done!
One of the easiest, yummiest, most impressive desserts I've made or seen.  Let me know what you think, and believe me, you won't regret making these!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pinterest Inspired II

So, my sweet, loving, considerate husband used up all my glue gun glue last time, I finally got to finish my Pinterest Day.  Here are the (not to toot my own horn, but- toot-toot!) ADORABLE new creations I have sitting on my dresser, because I keep wanting to look at them

The first thing is this pin cushion/sewing kit.  I saw it at pinterest.com, and followed the pin to www.momtastic.com, where I found instructions.  Like the blog says, this calls for: 

- 1 mason jar (any size will do, depends on how much you need it to fit)
- any piece of fabric, preferably one you don't mind looking at from time to time
- Glue gun (and glue!!!)
- Stuffing
- Stuff to fill it with it

Trace a large enough circle to comfortably glue around inner lid.  Cut out.  Start gluing to lid, leaving an open space, fill with stuffing, finish gluing.  Then, put glue on the inside of the outer lid, put inner lid in, and put pressure on it until dry.  (Now, here is where mine didn't quite work.  If I got it nice and poofy, once I had it glued in, it would screw back on the jar.  So, it's not as poofy as I'd like, but I'm still happy with it.  I made one for my mom, and instead of the inner lid I used the same sized cardboard  circle, and it got a little poofier, but I still had the same problem.  It closes, but not as snug as I'd like.)  I added a circle of fabric to the inside to give it a finished look (honestly, because I knew my mom would show her quilting friends, and you do NOT want to get criticisms from those ladies!).  Then, I filled it with thread, small scissors, extra needles, safety pins and that nifty thing that helps you thread.  I also stuck some pins and needles in it.  

Ta-Da!!!
Now these flower pins are just too cute.  I made matching ones for Bella (our puppy) and I for our family pictures, and then just went a little crazy.  They are so fun to make.  This blogger has really good instructions on how to make them www.gomakeme.com.  It took a little trial and error, but I figured out, that you put them on there in a staggered way, and the way of folding them wasn't explained that well (or I'm dense- either of which is totally possible).  So, here's what you need:

- 6 x 2 1/2 inch circles of fabric (I've been making mine just a little bigger, I like the size a little better)
- 2 x 1 1/4 inch circles of felt
- Beads/buttons
- Safety pin
- Needle and thread

So, you take the fabric circles, fold them in half, then push in the sides, to where it (kinda) resembles a flat 8.  Then sew (or hot glue gun) the "petals" on one felt circle in a staggering manner.  Basically, the next petal starts in the middle of the next one.  Then add beads, sew a safety pin on the other piece of felt, and sew the two pieces of felt together.



Once you get the hang of these you'll be wanting to add these to everything.  Even the Eiffel Tower could do with a little decorating.

Now, I have wanted to learn to make rosettes for a long time, but for some reason it has always felt a little daunting.  Not today!  www.craftaholicsanonymous.net has a great tutorial on them.  Again, like the earlier flowers, you're going to want to add them to everything.  What you'll need:

- Strip of fabric (honestly, any size will do, but the blog recommends 3" x 22")
- Hot glue gun
- Scissors
- Beads (the blog doesn't mention these, but I thought it added a nice touch)

So, you start off by making a knot at one end of the strip of fabric, then you start rolling and gluing the fabric onto itself, twisting it each time, then when you get to the end, tuck the last bit under and glue.  Then I put a little hot glue on top, and dipped it in beads.

I made 3 complementary ones, and glued them together.  I love how they turned out!  Not to find an outfit to match it.
So, happy pinning, experimenting and crafting.  Let me know if you've tried any pinterest ideas and how they turned out!

ps: I'm sorry if the instructions aren't too detailed, the original blogs really are very helpful, and if you go to them, they'll be very helpful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Wine Cork" Cork Board

Dan and I love and miss Europe, so to make ourselves feel a little closer to "home", our bathroom is French themed, and we're making our kitchen more and more Italian themed.  Wine is a huge part of Italian cuisine, and we're always looking for a place to pin important things, and Dan has a wonderful wife who pins amazing ideas on pinterest... so we found this very creative idea to reuse old wine corks. Dan's Aunt and Uncle enjoy a nice wine, and so they've been collecting corks for us, and mom cooks with wine sometimes, so she's been setting aside some Hungarian corks for us.  
We found an old frame at a neighbor's garage sale, and got some ply wood from our pastor and a glue gun.  First Dan nailed the ply wood to the back of the frame, placed all the corks in the pattern he wanted, then picked them up one at a time, and glued them to the back.  He also nailed two frame hooks on the back.  And there you have it!  I love it, and think it looks great!  Can't wait to hang it up.


Thanks to Bella, the right bottom corner is a little more "worn" than originally. :)
So, here's what you need:
One frame
1 piece of ply wood, sized to fit the back
Different kinds of wine corks
Hot glue/glue gun
Frame hooks

Have fun creating, let me know your crafting turns out!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pinterest Inspired

So, I'm sure most of you have heard about/use pinterest.  Lots of people complain that though it makes you feel artistic, crafty and creative, all you're doing is sitting at a computer looking at pictures.  While that sums up a lot of it, I actually have used some recipes I found on there, as well as some general household tips, and over the weekend I (we) finally made a couple of the items on my "DIY Ideas" board.  My husband and I had ourselves a Pinterest day!  I'll be posting his creation in another post.  My main item was a jewelry display.  I have a lot, and I mean A LOT of jewelry, and am always looking for ways to store/display it.  Also, with the addition of a poppy to our family, I need them to be in a place she can't get to them.  So, I saw this idea on thelook.today.msnbc.msn.com that I liked a lot.  This lady used drift wood, which I liked the look of, but didn't know where I was going to get from.  And she used... knobs.  I LOVE KNOBS!!!  There's a whole isle dedicated to them at most Hobby Lobbies, and I have a really hard time deciding where to start shopping; there, or in the scrappbooking section.  My mom bought me my knobs on vacation together.  If you're a garage saler, I'm sure you can find fun ones that way.  But, I got mine at Hobby Lobby.  Their price ranged from anywhere between $3.99 to $5.99.  So, I got 5 that complemented each other (I went with grays, whites and blacks, so it would go with any room's color scheme)
Our senior pastor makes things out of wood, so I got a piece of distressed looking wood from him.  Then, for extra display space, I got ceiling hooks and frame hooks at ACE (the helpful place).  I measured out where the holes should be, then drilled the holes (with some help from the hubby), and voila...!




So, just to recap, here's what you need:
1 Piece of wood
5 (or however many) knobs
Ceiling (or cup) hooks
Frame hooks
Drill 


So, have fun pinning as well as creating, and let me know if you have any suggestions, or pinterest inspired crafts you think I should try out!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ready To POP

One of the ladies at our church is having a baby in June, and so we wanted to throw her a baby shower.  I love planning events, so even though I'd never even been to a baby shower- let alone hosted one, I decided this was something I wanted to do.
We went with the theme "Ready to POP".  This left for a lot of creativity when it came to the food.  We had cake pops, pop corn cake, pink pop and poppable cucumber sandwiches.

A sweet friend of mine gave me the chocolate melter from babycakes.  While it did a good job keeping the chocolate warm, I had to actually melt the chocolate in the microwave.  But I very much appreciated it.

I bought marked down Easter sprinkles from Aldi- perfect baby shower colors

Pink vanilla flavored Candy Wafers from  Hobby Lobby.

Mmmmmm

Baby colors sprinkles
I used strawberry Pilsberry cake mix.  If you would like to see my post on making cake pops, please visit cake-obsession-continues-cake-pops.html.

THEN, through pinterest I found this recipe for pop corn cake.  It's made just like a rice crispy bar.  I also found these new dark chocolate raspberry (pink) M&Ms, pretzels and Market Pantry microwave pop corn.


First, you pop 2 bags of pop corn,  then you add 2 cups of M&Ms and  1 1/2 cup broken pretzels.

Then I melted one (10.5 oz) bag of mini marshmallows with 1 cup of butter.

It said to wait a minute or two, so it wouldn't melt the chocolate, which I did, but it still melted. :(  So maybe wait a little more.  Then poor over dry ingredients, stir together, and press into bunts pan.

Let sit for an hour, take out and... VOILA!!!

M-m-m!!!

And these are the yummy strawberry cake pops.

How cute is that!? :)