Sunday, November 24, 2013

Elf On The Shelf

This year, we decided to start the Elf On The Shelf tradition in our home. Even though Graysen is only a little over 18 months, he understands so much and it will be fun for him to find his elf each morning. We adopted our elf on Saturday and named him Jingle McKringleberry. {My husband named him! It is fun to say, though!} He will make his appearance at our house the day after Thanksgiving. We want to do our Elf tradition a little different than the original Elf On The Shelf tradition. In the story that comes with the elf, it says that the children are not able to touch their elf or the Christmas Magic may run out. At our house, we #1. want to avoid as many tantrums as possible from wanting to touch him and not being able to #2. make it more about the Christmas Spirit, grace and forgiveness and #3. we want him to love his elf, hug him, talk to him and not be afraid of him. We also don't want to necessarily describe Santa as an old man that wears a red suit {he was a real man once, who wore a green suit}, but more of a spirit or presence that lives inside us all. We want to focus more on the true meaning of Christmas and the joy that it brings to others. When he asks about the man in the red suit, we will assure him that yes, there is a Santa, but like God, some people have a hard time believing in something they can't see, so they made up a character to fill that void. I as a child, did not believe in the Santa who rode in the sleigh for very long, but I still to this day believe in the Spirit of Christmas and it's my favorite time of year! I could live in the snow globe of a Christmas Village, with carols being played on the streets, all year long! 
With that being said, we will be introducing Jingle on Friday and like we explained in the letter, he will be here until Christmas Eve watching over Graysen. We explained that Graysen will have to help teach Jingle manners, because elves tend to be mischievous, just like him. But...Santa, just like Jesus and Mommy and Daddy, forgive him, because everyone, including Santa makes mistakes. Here is a picture of Jingle. I cannot wait to post the fun antics that he gets into. Also below is the letter that he will be bringing with snow covered donuts on Friday. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Patch

Last weekend, we ventured out to the pumpkin patch on what was, I'm afraid, the LAST nice day of the season. It turned out to be a gorgeous fall day, thankfully! We have an amazing pumpkin patch near our house that is also a greenhouse, landscaping company and bakery. Their cupcakes are to die for! Don't even get me started on the "Down on the Farm" cupcakes! {vanilla cupcakes with maple buttercream and candied bacon on top} They were out of those when we were there, but we can't leave without one or TWELVE of them! YES...12!!! I was planning on just getting a mix six of them, but Tim didn't think he would like any of the ones I chose, so he got his own mix six! Needless to say, there are only 2 left a week later! 

They had a fabulous Corn Box. Graysen threw a huge shit fit when we had to get out. It's so awesome. I am seriously trying to figure out how to make one at our house. It is so much better than sand! There is no mess! The only thing we'd have to worry about is keeping squirrels and mice out. I think a cover would do the trick! He had so much fun scooping it and dumping it on his legs to bury them. 

 We went with a good friend of ours and her son, who is 6 weeks older than Graysen. It was so fun this year, because the boys could actually do the activities there and really enjoy it!  They have animals that you can feed and watch, {The boys really liked the chickens.}, a ginormous jumping pillow {They are still a little too small for that.}, pumpkin chucking, a huge corn maze, hay rides, "musical" pots to bang on, kettle corn, tricycle races, tires to climb on...the list goes on!

How sweet is this photo??

 They also have slides made out of jumbo, corrugated tubes. All of the kids were wizzing down to the runway landing at the bottom. Graysen wanted to go, so Tim took him to the top and let him go...
He just sat there. His pants were wet from dumping his water out into his lap in the car so he was stuck in the tunnel. It literally took him over 2 minutes to inch his way down the tube. It was quite comical. When he got to the bottom, he was ready to go again! Needless to say, we went on to something else so that they other kids could actually have a turn this season! 

 This is the best we could do for a family photo this year. Graysen was not going to sit still for anything! There were too many pumpkins to chuck, animals to feed and corn to shovel!
What a fabulous weekend it was though! It was the last nice day of the season I'm afraid! It was 32* and sleeting this morning! I'm so not ready for winter!

 Happy Fall!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Cheap Entertainment: Household Items Turned Toys

I don't know why we buy any toys! Actually, it's others that buy us the toys...but either son only wants to play with household items like remotes, bottles etc. I thought I'd post a mini series called "Cheap Entertainment" to show some of the creative ways we entertain our one and a half year old. Right after school got out last year, we redid our guest room/craft room {Junk Room} and turned it into an amazing toy room! Graysen does love it, but the toys in there do not get played with as much as some other random things we find around the house. Here are some examples of the things we've done lately to entertain Graysen. 

Fine motor is extremely important for little ones' development. I kept telling Tim that we need to get some lacing cards for Graysen and then it hit me...make my own! Duh! I cut Cookie Monster out of a cereal box so that it was sturdyish cardboard and then just punched holes around his head. I took an old shoelace out of a shoe that Tim never wears and Voila! Lacing Card!

 While getting supper ready one night, all Graysen wanted to do what pull everything out of the cupboard. I saw the empty spaghetti holder sitting on the counter, so I grabbed a handful of skinny straws that we had in the cupboard. (We always have a MILLION straws at our house.) There are two different sized holes in the top of the spaghetti holder to measure one serving or two, so he had a blast sticking the straws in and then shaking them out. 

 Another game that turned into being absolutely pure genius, was a game that involved paper cups (we happened to have a sleeve of Sesame Street ones in the cupboard), a muffin tin and the umpteen hundred tennis balls we have around the house. First, the game started by me stacking cups for Graysen to knock over. He then stacked them, unstacked them, etc. The dog brought one of his mini balls over to play and Graysen stuck it under a cup. Shadow hit all the cups over until he found the ball. A new game was born that stimulated both of their minds! I then brought out a muffin tin and we put the cups and balls in the holes. We tried to throw the mini balls into the cups, hid treats under the balls for Shadow and had a blast mixing and matching the items in the cups. These simple things entertained him for SO LONG! I should have been productive during that time, but it was too much fun to watch him learn and explore!

Game On!

Learning Through Movement: Sight Word Hop Scotch

I saw a post on Pinterest, where someone had taped sight words to the floor in a hop scotch pattern. I instantly remembered how I used dry erase crayons to number the tile floor where they should line up last year. Instead of taping pieces of paper to the floor, I used dry erase crayons to drew a hop scotch pattern and then filled it with sight words and decodable words for my First Grade Tile 1 students. The Second and Third graders were jealous and wanted to do it too. I think I'll be making a second one with their sight words and possibly math facts! The kids love seeing if they can do it faster than they did yesterday. (fluency builder) The crayon comes right off with a little bit of rubbing and a tennis ball on the end of a broom handle takes it off really fast! 

Happy Hopping!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Painting Class

Yesterday my friend and I took an incredibly fun furniture painting class. We learned three different techniques. Distressed, Color Wash and Two Tone. I love distressing so I did it to all three sample boards. This picture is before the distressing. I chose a minty teal as my color to work with and Cassie chose coral.

We each brought a picture frame to paint as a mini project. My frame was black to start with and had goldenrod stars on it. (super country) I did nothing to it before painting it because it didn't really have a finish. I like how the black came out when I distressed it. I used my mint as a base then some emerald and coral accents. I love how it turned out! I can't wait to paint everything in our house! What an amazing DIY day that started with a painting class and ended with an auction. Check out the awesome accent moldings I scored. Those will be made over soon! 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Easy DIY Crate Seats

Today I finally got around to putting my crate seats together for my classroom. They were even easier than I had anticipated. They are all over Pinterest right now and so they should be! They are super easy, super cute, super functional seating for your classroom, playroom or any kid space! 

Here's what you'll need: 

Crates - I used these from Target. 
I made 8 of them for my classroom @ $3 = $24
Fabric  - I used this fabric as well as other patterns from Hobby Lobby
I bought 5 yards because I wanted to use it for something else too. I probably used a little over 2 yards total @ $6.99  $4.99 a yard on sale = $10
Foam - I used a roll of upholstery foam, but a cheap foam mattress topper would work just fine, especially if you are making a lot. My foam roll was just enough to make 8 seats = $12
Wood - Lowes has PlyWood anywhere from $10-$40 for a 4' x 8' sheet and they cut it for FREE!
My board was $16 and I only used 1/2 of it, which actually got my 12 pieces = $8
Duct Tape - Lowes had colored Duct Tape for like $2 a roll and I barely used any. 

The total of this project was right around $55 for 8 seats. 

1. Lay the wood piece on top of the foam and cut the foam the same size or slightly smaller than the board.

2. Lay the fabric out on the floor wrong side up. (Be sure that your pattern is going in the direction you want it to when you lay your foam and wood on top.)

3. Lay foam down and then the board on top of that. 

4. Cut your fabric about 3 inches larger on all sides so that you have some to wrap around. 

5. Wrap the fabric, pulling tight, but not too taught so that it distorts the pattern and tape it to the back of the wood like you would when wrapping a package. I did the two long sides first and then the ends so that it made nice corners. 

6. I don't have this yet, but I plan on adding a ribbon, or possibly loop made out of the fabric, to each one so they pull out of the crate easily. 

It would have probably taken me right around an hour to put all 8 together, but I had a small "helper" at school with me today. I'm pretty sure my room was a son of a MESS when he got done! He basically took everything off the shelves and threw them all over the room! Here's a picture of Graysen's "productive" day as well! Needless to say, he passed out in the car on the way home, refused to lay in his crib when we got home, slept on me for a little while on the couch and refused to wake up for anything, which left him wearing ginormous crabby pants! 
His shirt fits today I guess, "Back off! I'm crabby!"

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013 Classroom Preview I know July is not over yet, but I have Summer School starting on Monday and my classroom had to be transformed from a Kindergarten Room to a Title 1 Resource Room. For the last five years, I have taught Kindergarten and am now embarking a new and exciting journey of being a Title 1 Teacher. I will have small groups of 1-4 students off and on all day as well as other testing, grant writing and paperwork duties and such. I wanted to do a total overhaul on my classroom since it will need to suit 1st graders, 2nd graders and 3rd graders. Our school colors at black, silver and teal, but I wanted it a little more fun than just school colors, so I decided to add a punch of lime! My classroom is not quite finished, but I thought I'd give you a sneak peak as to what has been going on in the chaos that is my classroom right now...

These are the fabrics that first inspired me! 
I fell in love in the Fabric Section of Hobby Lobby! I plan on making them into padded seats for a bunch of crates that I have. 

A quick {never cheap} trip to the school supply store left me with this wonderful loot! I get excited just looking at it! That jar has these really cool class rocks that have one flat side (floral section with the other glass jewels) that I'm going to be turning into coordinating magnets for my white board with heave duty magnets (also found at Hobby Lobby) and E6000 Glue. 

Here is my helper supervisor for one of my work days! Needless to say...I didn't get very much work done that day! Good thing Mommy has a lot of manipulatives to keep little hands busy! That monster border was fun for a few years and the Kindergartners loved it, but it's time for something fresh and new!

That flower is also going to be turned into a magnet. I have a pair of the them that I found at Hobby Lobby as well and they match the fabric I bought! LOVE! One of my other favorite things is that bamboo print in the middle. It's fadeless paper with a bamboo pattern on it. I got that at the ABC Toy Zone. It was the perfect backdrop for my Boggle Board!

Here is a picture of the Boggle/Reading Corner and the crates that I'm going to be making seats for. The monster border is now gone and the bottom half of the black is covered with the bamboo paper. (I use black plastic for bulletin board backgrounds because it doesn't fade and holds up pretty well.) Those shelves in the bottom left picture hold our small group reading games and the Add It Up board has been revamped. That small black table will also be a small group activity center for summer school and possibly during the school year as well. 

Here's a picture of the little bit of help I got while Graysen came to work with me!

This is a close up of each section on my giant bulletin board wall. (It's a "fake" partition wall that could be opened up to make one big classroom with the room next door, but we just use it as a big bulletin board.) Check out my post here to see how I made that ribbon border out of butcher paper. 

Here is a shot of the back wall almost complete. The rest of the room is not quite done, but as soon as I finish, I will post final pictures of the room complete. 


DIY Bulletin Board Ribbon Border

Sorry I have been MIA lately. I have been frantically busy getting my classroom ready. Summer School starts Monday! I decided to totally overhaul my classroom since I was switching it from the Kindergarten Room it has been for the last 5 years into a Title 1 Resource Room. The room had to fit students who range in age from 1st grade to 3rd grade this year and I decided on a teal and lime theme. (Our school colors are Black, Silver and Teal) I am LOVING it! Here's one quick and easy way I updated my bulletin boards. I cannot tell you how easy this is and how amazing it looks! 

First, I took a long piece of butcher paper (we have big rolls of it in several colors) and loosely folded rolled it up so I didn't have to cut long strips, I could make a short cut and it cut the whole length at once. (A major time saver)
I used a random piece of boarder that I had laying around so that I could make each strip the same size. 
Once you have your strips, bunch them, scrunch, them and make them very wrinkly. The wrinklier, the better! (Is wrinklier a word???) 
I then bunched and scrunched it on the board and stapled it in several places. Fluff it up and you're done! 
I have a huge "fake" wall on one side of my room that is actually a divider between my room and the room next door. Technically, you could open the divider and have one huge room, but we just use it as a big bulletin board. I have it sectioned off, so that is why you see two boarders with the paper ribbon.  Excuse the crooked photo. I took it with my phone. I have black plastic as the background instead of paper. It doesn't fade and holds up great fairly well...if you don't have a bunch of 5 year olds picking at it during Daily 5 Read to Self! :)
I will be posting an update on how the classroom makeover is coming soon!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tomorrow is a new day!


Anne Shirley said it best when she said that. I think too many times, we worry about the past and forget that we get to start over every single morning. My goal for myself lately has been to not worry so much and let things go. I've never been one to hold a grudge, but I am very over-analytical! I'm hard on myself and I need to remember that yes, tomorrow is a new day and I can shake it off and start fresh! 
What will your tomorrow bring?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

$10 Dollars + 10 Minutes = 3 Freezer Meals for the Grill

I've mentioned before how much Wildtree Products can save you time and money in the kitchen., our grocery store was having a huge sale on meat. {SCORE} Most people choose to pass on meat that needs to be used in a day or two, but when you put it in a freezer doesn't matter. You get the best deals this way! 
So...for less than $10, I bought 4 center-cut loin pork chops and 2 ribeye steaks!
 As soon as I got home, I got out a couple Wildtree ingredients from the cupboard, a couple gallon sized freezer bags and went to work. 10 minutes later, I had three meals {I'll have leftovers for sure.} ready to go in the freezer to marinate so we can just throw them on the grill later. 
{Freezer meals have saved my life! I cannot tell you how fabulous it is to have a freezer full of meals ready to go at all time!}

Here's what I made!

2 Center Cut Loin Chops
Gallon Freezer Bag

I use the dump, squish, mush, freeze method of Freezer Meal making!
Dump all of the ingredients in the bag.
Mush and smush it all around to make sure that everything is coated well.
Squeeze all of the air out and freeze! 
When you are ready to eat, you just take it out the night before and thaw in the fridge. 
You can thaw in the microwave if you forget to take it out. {Like I usually do!}
I {try} to take out about 3 meals on Sundays and stick them in the fridge to thaw for the week. We always have leftovers and so 3 meals gets us at least 5 meals for the week and we can still eat out once and have something like frozen pizza one night as well. 

Here are the other two meals for the week!

2 Center Cut Pork Chops
Gallon Freezer Bag

w/Blue Cheese Crowns
{Hubby's Favorite}
Gallon Freezer Bag

Make sure that you don't use too much Rancher or it will be very salty later. 
I try to make sure a little is all over but it's not coated. 
While you have the steaks on the grill, you can mix together the {crowns}.
You can do this before hand and freeze them, or just mix it up quick when grilling. 

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 Blue Cheese Crumbles
3Tbs Melted Butter
Mix all of this together in a bowl to form a paste. 
(Measurements are approx.)
Make the paste into small patties and place on the steak for the last couple minutes of grilling so that the cheese starts to melt and bread crumbs get crispy. 

There you have it! 
$10, 10 minutes and 3 meals ready to throw on the grill to stick in the freezer. 

Happy Grilling!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wildtree Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs

Since we had a bunch of sauce left over from last night's Grilled Pizza, I decided to use it on spaghetti tonight and make some meatballs with the Herb Grilling Marinade
For those of you that missed last night's post, here's the quick and easy recipe for homemade spaghetti or pizza sauce using Wildtree's Hearty Spaghetti Blend .  

Mix 2 Tablespoons of the Hearty Spaghetti Blend seasoning into a can of tomato sauce and Voila! 
Healthy, homemade spaghetti sauce for around $1.00!

For the meatballs, I used: 
1lb 97% lean ground beef
1 egg
1 Cup of Breadcrumbs
(I used the Secret Breading from Dockside Fish Market in Grand Marais, MN.)
2-4 Tablespoons of the Herb Grilling Marinade

Preheat the oven to 350*
Mix all of the ingredients together well in a medium sized bowl with your hands.
Shape the meat into small ping pong ball sized meatballs.
Bake on a baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Serve sauce and meatballs over your favorite pasta.
Top with Italian Cheese and a side of garlic bread!

It must have been a great meal because Graysen looked like he thoroughly enjoyed himself!

Happy Eating!

Monday Morning Meeting

Monday morning is here and while I need to go into school to get my classroom ready for Summer School, which is starting in a couple weeks, I had an early morning meeting to attend first. I know, I know...Monday morning meetings SUCK right? Well...when your meeting involves chocolate combined with coffee on the front porch with the sun coming up, I won't complain!

After dropping Graysen off at daycare this morning, (I luckily get to walk him two blocks down the street.) I took a few minutes to myself with one of my loves (COFFEE) on the front porch, watching the world wake up!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wildtree Homemade Grilled Pizza

Tonight for supper, Tim and I made homemade grilled pizzas with the Wildtree products that I sell. They were fabulous and here's how you can make them too!
It only takes a few ingredients plus whatever toppings you choose to put on it.
(You can purchase any of the products used by either emailing me or ordering from my website linked above.)

For the dough, you will need:
Wildtree Pizza Dough
Wildtree Grapeseed Oil in your choice of flavor 
(I chose to use Roasted Garlic)
1/2 Cup warm water

For the sauce, you will need: 
Wildtree Hearty Spaghetti Blend Seasoning
Tomato Sauce

To make the sauce: 
Mix 2 Tablespoons of Wildtree Spaghetti Blend into the tomato sauce and Voila!

To make the dough and pizzas:
1: Whisk Wildtree dry ingredients, 2T GSO (grapeseed oil) and water together
2. Whisk until a ball forms
3. Knead dough for two minutes on a slightly floured surface until its stretchy and smooth. 
Let dough sit on counter for 10 minutes to rest.
4. Press dough into either one 12-14in crust, or two 6-7in crusts.
5. Dough will look rustic...just the way you want it to!
6. Brush a small amount of GSO onto the crust and put oil side down on a hot grill.
7. After grilling for a couple minutes, take crusts off and top grilled side with sauce and toppings.
8. Make sure that you don't load up on toppings, or it will be soggy. 
9. Put it back on the grill for a couple minutes to grill the other side of crust and cook the toppings. 



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Easy Breezy DIY House Numbers

So...our house numbers were really cheap and pretty ugly looking to start with. They were there when we moved in and right in the middle of a random pole on our front porch. We took them down when we painted the porch from an extremely awful periwinkle blue, to white and we never put them back up. We  I had been debating on what to use instead. I saw this post on Pinterest and was inspired to make my own version. 
The numbers are from Menards and the wooden blocks were around $.50 each at Michaels. I already had the acrylic paint (Martha Stewart Brand from Michaels) and the foam brush. All together, this project cost right around $5.00 to make. 

I used my trusty E6000 glue to glue them to the bottom post of the front steps leading up to the porch. 

I really like the way they turned out and they go great with our green shutters.