Monthly Archives: July 2013

Back(pack) to School!

It’s time to think about Back to School!  Already!  Around here, lots of schools start up again this week.  As a teacher and a student before that, shopping for school supplies has always been one of my most favorite yearly activities.  There is something magical about crisp new folders, pointy new crayons, and shiny new scissors.  My heart still skips a beat when I see the school supply displays appear in stores for the first time at the end of summer each year.

This year marks the start of a new adventure for me.  I am stepping away from my elementary school classroom to have more time with our daughter.  As thrilled as I am to be doing this, I admit that I have worried a bit though – would I go through school supply withdrawal when those back to school supply displays started popping up in stores?  Luckily, just in time, my church announced that it was going to start collecting school supplies and filling backpacks for kids who couldn’t afford to buy them on their own.

In my classroom, I always liked to build a “Successful Studying” bulletin board with the kids.

Successful Studying Bulletin Board

Successful Studying Bulletin Board

On the first or second day of school, we would brainstorm a list of supplies we would need to be successful in class, and the students would take turns putting pictures of those supplies up on the board.  I would keep the bulletin board up all year as a reminder to come to class prepared and keep their supplies organized.  However, so many kids just can’t get the supplies they need in order to be successful in school.  This fill a backpack program at my church was the perfect way to ensure that as many kids as possible could have the chance to start the school year out right the supplies they would need.

I was so excited to get the supply list from my church and go shopping with my husband and daughter.  As soon as those first few items hit the cart, the familiar thrill of shopping for school supplies returned!

The start of school supply shopping

The start of school supply shopping

Be warned – this is not an inexpensive activity.  By the time the cart was full with all the supplies from the list, the total came to about $85.  But it was money VERY well spent.  We were able to have a fun shopping trip together as a family (our one year old daughter even tried to help push the cart) and help a child have a a great start to the school year!

A few tips so that you could do this yourself:

  • It seems as though there are more and more churches and organizations doing school supply drives.  Look around to see if you can find one in your neighborhood!
  • If you can’t find an organization doing a school supply drive, many stores have displays with supply lists for neighborhood schools.  Pick up a list, buy a set of supplies, and drop them off at the school.  I have no doubt the school would be grateful!
  • Another option would be to just buy an additional set of supplies based on your own child’s supply list.  Take the supplies in and give them to the teacher a day or two before school starts.  Even if there is not a child in the class who would need the supplies, the teacher would be more than happy to have an extra set of supplies to give to use to replenish lost crayons and pencils throughout the year or give to a new student who might come in unexpectedly in the middle of the year.
  • As I said, this is an expensive undertaking.  Perhaps it would be fun to organize an outing with another family and go shopping together.  You could split the cost, and it would be a fun last hurrah playdate for the kids at the end of summer.
  • Another way to help pay for the supplies would be to have your own children raise some money with a lemonade stand or a similar activity.  Your kids will probably be even more excited to go buy the supplies knowing that they helped to earn the money for them.

I definitely plan to make this a new yearly family tradition.  What a great way to wrap up summer, look forward to fall, and help our little one get excited about giving and sharing all throughout the year.

Burgers of the World

Nothing says summer like burgers, so this week’s post is all about burgers.  Not just any burgers though… I proudly present to you: BURGERS OF THE WORLD!!!

A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to grill out more and decided  it would be a fun summer project to come up with a variety of internationally themed burgers.  We usually start with a regular hamburger patty then add toppings.  Sometimes we use ground beef, sometimes veggie burgers, sometimes ground turkey.  So you can just pick your favorite type of burger and go from there!  We are still trying to refine and come up with new concoctions, but we have compiled a pretty good list – if you ask us.

Our favorite is our Italian Burger.  We use toasted Italian bread instead of a bun, mozzarella, basil leaves, and marinara sauce.

Italian Burger Ingredients

Italian Burger Ingredients

We put the burger on the bread, top it with marinara, put a slice of mozzarella on top of that, and finish it off with a few basil leaves.

Italian Burger

Italian Burger

Here is a list of some of the other “worldly” burgers we have come up with:

Mexican:  Use a tortilla instead of a bun and top with salsa, sour cream, cilantro, and shredded cheese.

Greek:  Use a pita instead of a bun and top with olives, tomatoes, and feta.  To be extra fancy, try using lamb instead of beef for the burger.

German:  Use a pretzel roll for the bun and top with sauerkraut.  Have some German potato salad on the side!

French:  Use a croissant instead of a bun and top with thin slices of ham and some Gruyere cheese and a bit of dijon mustard.

Hawaiian:  Use a sweet Hawaiian bun, switch out the burger with Spam, and top with pineapple.

Making “Burgers of the World” is a tasty way to be creative during the summer.  The possibilities are endless!  Enjoy, and please be sure to reply with international burger ideas of your own!

 

A Very Hungry Birthday!

Caterpillars, butterflies, fresh fruit – all perfect for summer, right?  We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday with a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party.  We had waited a very long time for our daughter to arrive.  I found Very Hungry Caterpillar plates and napkins probably 3 or 4 years ago.  I went ahead and got them at the time in hopes that we would have a baby, and that baby would need a first birthday party someday!  It couldn’t have been more perfect that our daughter ended up having a summertime birthday just made for a The Very Hungry Caterpillar themed party!

This party was so much fun to prepare.  Eric Carle’s book provides so many great possibilities!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

A lot of my ideas for the party came from Pinterest.  Check out my Pinterest page to see my inspirations! http://pinterest.com/alwayswonderful

One of my favorite projects was making a caterpillar with pictures to show how our daughter had grown each month throughout her first year.

Month by Month Caterpillar

Month by Month Caterpillar

For the food, I chose foods from the book like apples, oranges, strawberries, watermelon, swiss cheese, and salami as well as butterfly shaped crackers and brownies.  (By the way, this would work for more than just a party – gathering up food for a Very Hungry Caterpillar picnic would be a fun activity for any summer day!)

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

Very Hungry Caterpillar Food

The cake was a lot of fun to make: individual cupcakes decorated to look like the caterpillar and fruit from the story.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Very Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes

Finally, I filled the goody bags with rainbow lollipops, m&m caterpillars (I filled a long skinny plastic bag with red and green m&ms), and fruit snack butterflies (I filled a small bag with fruit snacks, pinched it in the middle, and twisted a pipe cleaner around it).  I could also see making these as part of a The Very Hungry Caterpillar lesson at school.

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

Very Hungry Caterpillar Favors

It was a very special day.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer or our precious baby!

 

 

 

It’s ALWAYS the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Hello out there!  My name is Sally.  I am a mommy, a wife, and a teacher.  I am also a lover of holidays.  I love holiday decorations, I love holiday treats, I love dressing up for holidays, I love doing special activities for holidays, I love holiday traditions… I just love holidays!  Big, small, serious, silly… I love them all!  They make me happy.  I try to integrate holiday celebrations into our life as a family and into my classroom at school.  I believe seasonal and holiday activities add bright spots to life all throughout the year.  There is always something new to look forward to on the calendar!  With this blog, I hope to share my excitement for celebrating holidays and seasons with you through recipes, crafts, lesson plans, activities, traditions, decorations… and more!  Check back each week for fun new ideas.  Regardless of what holiday or season is coming up next, it always can be the most wonderful time of the year.