Thursday, February 13, 2014

7 Days of Valentine's: Family Date Night

My Vet and I waited a long time to be blessed with a family. We had plenty of Valentine's Days as just us, so we've made it a tradition to celebrate as a family.
February 14th falling on a Friday has made it possible for us to change it up this year. That's right we are all going out!
Older photo of us at the movies!

I am absurdly excited for Pizza and a Movie. I'm reminded of an earlier Friday Valentine's Day when we didn't make reservations and had to go to pizza in order to have any chance of making it to a movie. A feel good movie about relationships, and finding the laughter and love amongst our quirks, and the trials of life. Pretty good message I would say. It's not about the activity, enjoy each other whatever the circumstance. Smile, laugh, and most importantly love.

Are you planning an evening with or without the kids?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

7 Day's of Valentine's Day: Show Me Some Love

My hair (4 inches shorter)
I don't always put me first. Sure I make sure I have my daily God time, and I have my daily coffee, but I don't spend much time on my appearance. I've needed a hair cut for at least 4 months, but other things have taken financial priority.

This week of love has encouraged me to show some love to me. I don't color my hair since I know how bad the roots would get since I wait so long between visits to the salon. So it could look worse, I know ringing endorsement. Since it's what's inside that counts I don't think my friends have minded too much.

It was also nice to have an hour to myself. I enjoyed chatting with the ladies and sharing some great savings tips using SwagbucksEbates and ExpoTV.

Are you always in fashion or do you need help like I do? Do you neglect your needs in favor of your families'? What do you need to do for you?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7 Day's of Valentine's: A Beautiful Day For a Neighbor

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,
A neighborly day for a beauty.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?...

I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So, let's make the most of this beautiful day.
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please,
Won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?
-Fred Rogers
I grew up knowing my neighbors, and even my grandparents neighbors. It was common to share when you baked something. A piece of freshly baked pie, a couple of cookies, serving of soup, etc. Nothing huge, the most important part of this sharing was the human contact.

Cooking up a batch of brownies.
I feel it's important for my children to learn the importance of caring about those around you, and what better way to learn that, than neighborly visits?

All Bundled up and ready to share.

Monday, February 10, 2014

7 Day's of Valentine's: Teacher Gift

As the daughter of a Teacher/Principle I have a little insight into teacher gifts. I try to stick with consumable items. (I have ton's of mugs that I don't know what to do with and I don't have 25 kids giving me various gifts throughout the year.)

Thanks to the Internet there is lots of information on what teachers actually want/need. The number one thing mentioned was not gift cards, or bottles of wine, or even cash... It was hand-written notes from kids or parents about what the teacher had meant to the student. Nearly every teacher mentioned that these notes and letters were the thing that they kept, looked at again and again years later, the things that really meant something to them.

So however you decide to show your appreciation make sure your child writes a note sometime during the school year.

Next to a handwritten note, a gift card to a favorite place, a coffee shop near the school or a store where the teacher may spend their own money on classroom stuff is always welcome. Some teachers warned us to be thoughtful where the gift cards were for, as they may not get used. For example, buying a gift card for a mani/pedi at a place that's inconvenient or for a store that the teacher maybe can't afford (like a $10 card for a high end department store where nothing costs $10).

Teachers also mentioned a lot that they didn't care how much you spend. It's easy to do nothing because you can't afford an amount that is truly representative of your appreciation. Get over yourself and just do something! (Yes I'm talking to me.)

I used a great free printable cards from Chicabug to jazz it up. I downloaded the file and printed it. I didn't have card stock so I printed on regular copy paper. And folded it carefully in half.

You will notice that the color of my card is perfect for Valentine's Day and isn't one of the options at Chicabug. I achieved that "custom" color by using an ink cartridge that was low on ink and needing replacement. (Yep, being a cheapskate and lazy can have it's rewards.)

Once again this week I grabbed my old scrapbooking supplies, and used my Crop-A-Dial to add grommets to the corners.

Some double stick tape secured the gift card to the paper.

Then my daughter signed the bottom. Cute, usable, and less effort than the Valentine's we made for classmates.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

7 Days of Valentine's: The Box

I've always loved Valentine's Boxes. I remember spending hours making sure mine were perfect, They never really came out how my kid brain envisioned them, but I loved them. As an adult I get to help my kids visions become reality. (Confession time: I like them so much I've even made extra "test" boxes.)

You can see from last year's that we employ a variety of techniques. We start by scouring Internet photos for inspiration based a predetermined idea. I really liked how the owl turned out last year, and an oatmeal container really makes a perfect Valentine's Box. Since we eat lots of oatmeal, it was easy to save a few for this project.

My youngest loves her pink sock monkey hat that she got for her birthday, so that was our inspiration for her box. We found lots of images all over the Internet, and settled on a pretty simple design using white and pink paper with just a smidgen of red and black. I used the canister lid to create a proportional oval shape for mouth. See how I traced less than half, moved it and traced the other side? Going all the way around would have given me a circle.

The ears are just circle's folded and glued. This design was so simple that the hardest part was cutting little red X's for the center of the eyes.

I added a small stitching detail with a pink colored pencil.

After seeing the Monkey, my oldest was determined to have a bunny. (Even though a note a from the teacher indicated boxes weren't necessary.) So back to the Internet for inspiration. Once again we went with simple shapes. Circles, ovals and hearts can make for a simple yet cute design.
After drawing out and cutting the shapes in white, pink and black. We used red liquid chalk to "burnish" the edges and add dimension around all of the white shapes.

Assembling only consisted of gluing the various shapes to the canister.

A pen was used to add freckles with the whiskers.

Here is another peak at the finished products.

Friday, February 7, 2014

7 Days of Valentine's: Kids Cards

There are so many fantastic ways to present your Valentine's Day cards. I went to Pinterest for inspiration and found this gem.
We are one of those household that has to throw candy away. So if I can find a cute way to inexpensively gift small toys instead of loads of candy, we go that route. As you can guess I was thrilled with this idea.
I started by ordering bouncing balls on Amazon. You can probably find them lots of other places, I just needed to increase my order so I could get free shipping without being a Prime member. I also had gift certificate money waiting for me to use, so they were actually free!
I really liked the inspiration bouncing balls, but my kid really liked the glow in the dark ones, and since planets glow as stars I figured it would be OK.
We made enough for the entire class, and a few extras for friends. Cutting them out was tedious, and I wish I had a heart die cut, but it was still a good activity to do with the kids.
We traced a cookie cutter for the heart shape, getting 6 per paper
A lid from a tube of frosting was a perfect fit for the bouncing balls.
The hardest part was writing on the black. I purchased a white paint pen just for this project. It didn't work, the paper soaked up the paint as fast as I could write. Not wanting to go back out in the cold, I tried an old silver pen from my scrapbooking supplies.

Not exactly the stark contrast I was hoping for, but the price tag was right!
Oops just noticed I spelled word instead of world! 
Good thing they haven't gone out yet.
Now that all of the kinks are worked out, it's time for the girls to get to work making them.
What are your plans for Valentine's Day treats this year? (Or send some photo's of years' past.)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

So Over the Rainbow

When we started the update for the girls room all they could ask for is a rainbow. I knew they didn't want an actual rainbow. Just lots of color. My goal was to add lots of color in ways that could be easily removed to neutralize the d├ęcor if we ever needed to list and sell the home. I did 1 major splash of color and then brought in lots of accessories.

As an interpretation of the rainbow, I decided to paint all of the existing black photo frames. I picked up 7 colors of craft paint and on Christmas Eve the girls and I sat at the table and painted the frames. It took a couple of coats per frame, but We are all happy with the rainbow effect.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Puppet Theater Plans

During the Christmas crunch time, I had one gift left to give. I knew what I wanted to make for months, but I procrastinated for months. It only took me a couple of hours to create this fun little theater.

Materials List
Full Flat sheet
1/4 yard black fabric
1/4 yard contrasting fabric
1/2 inch width wooden dowel
Tension rod

I like to keep things pretty simple, so I started by measuring the width of the doorway = 30 inches. Since I was using a sheet I determined height by the width of the sheet. Cutting 31 1/2 inches off the bottom gave me enough to hem the one side that wasn't already hemmed.

I cut the sheet into 5 pieces to create the theater window. Then it's time to hem again. The top of the bottom panel needs to be folded and stitched to create a pocket just large enough for a dowel rod. (1 1/4 inch pocket worked for me.)

Hem the inside edges of the curtain creating a hemmed L and reverse L.

Now it's time to  stitch the outside edges to the "walls". Do this by laying right sides together. Before stitching place a length of ribbon 2 inches from the bottom. The black background fabric needs to be hemmed on the bottom and 2 sides. (leave the top edge raw)

Attach the background, walls, and curtains to the top. Layering right sides together so that curtains will turn out in front of the background.

Attach the bottom of the walls to the top of the bottom panel. Be careful not to attach the bottom edge of the curtain.

Feed the dowel into the lower pocket and the tension rod in the top pocket. Tie back the curtains with the ribbons, and hang up for the kids to enjoy!