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“One Last Time”

I’ve been very lucky to have had the time to do a lot of craft projects lately – I would say I’ve done more crafts in the last three months than I’ve been able to do in the last five years!  While I’ve been doing those crafts I’ve also had time to listen to music – again, I’ve listened to more music in the last three months than I’ve been able to listen to in the last five years.  A good chunk of that music has been the Hamilton soundtrack.  Over and over and over again.  Yes, I’m in a rut, but it’s such good music!  One of my favorite songs from Hamilton is “One Last Time,” in which (spoiler alert?) George Washington surprises Alexander Hamilton by telling him he is not going to run for President again.  While it’s not nearly as monumental as George Washington deciding to return to Mount Vernon to live as a private citizen, all the time I’ve had to do crafts and listen to music has made me decide the time has come to write for my blog “one last time.”

I don’t want to jinx anything, but I must say that after years of more stress than I ever imagined working as an elementary and preschool teacher, I’m so happy now.  I’m loving all of my daily activities so much – subbing and volunteering at school, being a room mother, leading a Daisy Scout troop… I have plenty to keep me busy!  I even have a bit of free time every now and then!  I first started this blog when I left my job teaching at an elementary school.  I was worried that without writing daily lesson plans that I would stagnate and lose my creativity, so my goal for this blog was to give me a weekly task to challenge myself and be creative… and, of course, to become the next Martha Stewart and make millions of dollars in the process.  Well, it’s been a lot of fun, but the millions of dollars never happened.  And, unexpectedly, my job designing a curriculum and teaching Jr. Kindergarteners with the best co-teacher anyone could ever imagine ended up being the most challenging (in a good way), creative, and rewarding experience of my professional life.  So it turns out I didn’t need to worry about having the blog for a creative outlet.  Now that I have the actual free time for which I’ve always longed, it turns out that actually doing the craft projects I love so much is more exciting than writing about them.  My blog will still be around until April, and I will still be putting items on our Zazzle Store, so you can check out what I’m up to there if you’re curious.

However, now that I’ve entered this wonderful new chapter in my life, I’m going to take time to be myself and relax just in time for Thanksgiving.  I’m thankful I have gotten to share this blog with you for the last several years, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it and gotten some fun ideas.  Thanks for indulging me and reading it.  I’m also thankful that I’m finally so content and ready to enjoy all the “The Most Wonderful Times of the Year” with my family.

Crayon Halloween Costume

Our daughter has a long history of strong opinions about her Halloween costumes.  When she was a baby, she was a farmer.  Easy enough.  The next year I made a Trick-or-Treat bag costume for her that I absolutely loved and she tolerated.  She has always loved to dance, so the year after that we planned for her to be a ballerina thinking that she could play with the costume after Halloween.  We got ballerina dolls as gifts for her that year and everything.  And then on the way out the door to Trunk-or-Treat she totally vetoed the ballerina costume and opted to wear a too small IU cheerleader outfit she had in the back of her closet instead.  We learned our lesson.  From then on, we let her pick the costumes.  It’s made Halloween much easier and more fun.  She loves ancient Egypt, so last year she dressed as Nefertiti and carried a mummy pumpkin.  And, oh my goodness, have we gotten our money’s worth out of that costume – it’s been worn countless times since Halloween 2016.  This year she has chosen to be a puppy, and seems very enthusiastic about the idea, so fingers crossed that this year will go well again.

Her most creative Halloween costume request to date though was the year she declared, “I want to be a white crayon that draws on black paper.”  At first I panicked – how in the world was I going to make that costume??  But after a few searches on Amazon, it turned out to be the easiest costume ever.  We found her this white crayon shirt on Amazon.

White Crayon Shirt

We added white jeans (that was the hardest part of the costume actually – trying to find white pants in the stores leftover from summer in October – thank you Target!!) and a white winter hat with a pompom on top.  Voila!  A white crayon.  For the drawing on black paper part, we got my husband a black t-shirt and we all painted white designs on it to make it look like a white crayon had been coloring on it.

Black Paper Shirt

And then for the the icing on the cake, a couple days before Halloween I remembered that I had a very old crayon sweater tucked away in a drawer.

Crayon Sweater

I got it in the 90s when they were making all these sweaters with name brands on it.  I loved it at the time, and then thought that as a future teacher I should save it forever because I might have a need for a crayon sweater someday.  I just never thought it would be to coordinate with my daughter’s Halloween costume!

So it turned out that our daughter’s funny idea for a Halloween costume ended up being a fun and easy idea for a whole set of family costumes!

4th Blogiversary

Another year, another blog.  In fact I’ve been writing this little blog for 4 years now!  Last year I said a lot had changed over the years, and this year there are more big changes.  I’m no longer working at my dream job teaching preschoolers.  Instead I will be a substitute teacher.  It is a very bittersweet change.  I was so sad to leave the preschool, but I’m so happy I will still get the opportunity to be in classrooms with children while simultaneously having a more flexible schedule now for my actual dream job – being a mommy to our precious daughter.  I also hope to have more time to relax and actually get to do and enjoy the craft projects and celebrations described in this blog.  I also hope to be able to post blog entires about them more often.

In fact I’ve already found time this summer to write more blog posts and work on some projects I’ve had waiting in the wings for years. One project is learning to do hand lettering so that I can make better seasonal signs, chalkboard designs, cards, you name it.  I’m planning on taking a class in the fall, and I’ve already been experimenting with some practice books at home like The Hand Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt.  This book is so much fun that our daughter decided to join in and practice her letters as well…

Handwriting Practice

… and also draw some elephants.  Because every handwriting book needs an elephant or two, right?

There’s An Elephant in the Handwriting Book…

Besides learning to write fancy letters, I am also looking forward to hopefully being a room mother in our daughter’s classroom this year.  When I was growing up, my mother was room mother extraordinaire – the mother of all room mothers you could say.  On the first day of school kids were always thrilled to find out I was in their class because they knew that meant my mom would be bringing fabulous parties for even the smallest of holidays all year.  I was always so proud of her, and I’m eager to follow in her footsteps.  I’m already strategizing (and stressing) about how to make a beeline at back to school night to find the sign up sheet for room mother to make sure I make it on the list before it is all filled up.

So hopefully I’ll have lots to share on my blog this year.  Even though my blog STILL hasn’t made me my millions yet, I’m looking forward to having more time for it.  I’ll see how this year goes and decide whether or not to keep doing it in the future.  It’s fun to share ideas, and I hope you enjoy reading them.  Thanks for reading!

“Teacher Stuff” Storage

Back last July, I promised to share the ingenious plan I had come up with for storing my massive amounts of “teacher stuff” in our art room – especially the bulletin board sets and borders.  So finally, over a year later, just in time for back to school time, it’s complete.  And let me just say, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

Hanging Bulletin Boards

Hanging Bulletin Boards

First of all, I thought to hang all my pocket charts and the bulletin board sets I use the most often from pants hangers in the closet in the bedroom we use as our art room.  It makes them so easy to find and keeps them from getting crumpled or creased or  ruined.  The only trick I learned the hard way is that when hanging heavier bulletin board sets, be sure to put them in bags with handles so that you can loop the handles around the hangers for added support.  Otherwise they may all end up on the floor over time!

Teacher Closet

Teacher Closet

Now for my favorite part – my hanging borders.  We installed Elfa Utility Tracks from the Container Store on the front wall of the closet and put several Elfa Utility Accessory Hooks on them.  Then I took Stainless Steel Wire Clothespins also from the Container Store (after a lot of searching, these were the only clips I could find that were both strong enough to hold the borders and also big enough to fit over the hooks) and clipped them to the ends of the borders.  I can’t even begin to tell you how much easier this makes finding the borders when I need them each month!

Border Hangers

Border Hangers

The bulletin boards and borders that didn’t fit in the closet and don’t get used as often ended up inside a beautiful window seat my dad built.  They are out of sight but still easily accessible.

Art Room Valance and Window Seat

Art Room Valance and Window Seat

And while we are on the subject of the window seat, did you happen to notice the darling pillows and scrap valence my mom made for our art room?  I found the idea for the scrap valence on Pinterest and absolutely love it in our art room.  I also made a matching scrap lamp (another Pinterest idea) and scrap picture frame hangers to go with it .

Art Room

Art Room

And as long as I’m showing off stuff in our art room, I’ll share my other latest creation: a crayon lamp.  The fillable lamp (and the crayons for that matter) are from Target.  It’s the perfect lamp for a room all about art!

Crayon Lamp

Crayon Lamp

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this tour of our art room and maybe gotten some ideas of your own!  And hopefully you aren’t too horrified by the huge amounts of “stuff” (aka valuable educational materials) teachers accumulate over the years.  (I won’t even mention all the boxes of “stuff” not in use this school year currently packed away in our garage storage area…)

3rd Blogiversary!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been doing this blog for 3 years now!  A lot has happened in that 3 years: I left public school and started my dream job teaching preschoolers, moved twice, watched our baby grow from a baby to a toddler to a self proclaimed “big kid,” and am about to embark on an exciting new adventure in a new preschool classroom.  Phew!  That’s a lot for 3 years!  In my never ending quest for the elusive thing I’ve been told is called “free time,” I have scaled back the blog a bit – writing entries less often (when I feel like it or have something fun to share rather than every single week) – but I still enjoy getting the chance to write and be creative and share fun seasonal activities with the world.  Besides, even if some of these holiday traditions and activities seem trivial, I think the world needs a little happiness right about now and some reminders that it CAN always be the most wonderful time of the year if we try to look for ways to have fun together – no matter how trivial they may be.  So I plan to keep going with my little blog again this year.  Thanks for reading!

Blog 2nd Anniversary

It’s my blog’s anniversary!  Is blogiversary a word?  I’ve been writing weekly blog posts about seasonal events, crafts, cards, traditions, activities, etc. for 2 years now.  I have fun writing them – just a way for me to try to keep being creative.  And of course hopefully become the next Martha Stewart one day and make my millions, you know without the insider trading part.  Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read my blog posts.

I plan to keep sharing fun ideas this coming year too.  I will continue sharing a card for each month, and I also plan to share a poem of the month each month this year.  One of my best classes in college had a fabulous unit about poetry for children, and I’ve loved the idea of children writing poetry ever since.  When I taught kids in “big school” I always used to have my kids write a poem each month to display on a bulletin board.  It was a great way to get kids writing and simultaneously sneak in the fun seasonal activities frowned upon by the school administration.  And, for the record, the kids often produced some of their very best writing for these monthly poems.  So stay tuned for those and other nifty seasonal topics.

Thanks again for indulging me and reading my blog!

Happy Birthday Blog!

This week my blog turns one!  It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this once a week for a whole year already.  I decided to start this blog because I had left my full time teaching job to have more time (and by more time I mean any time at all!) with our daughter, and I wanted a fun new weekly project to fill up all my newly available “free time.”  I also, of course, wanted to become the next Martha Stewart and make millions.  A year later, I’m cherishing my time with our amazing little girl, loving my part time teaching job as a Jr. Kindergarten teacher where I get to be creative and watch kids make discoveries every day, frantically hunting for all that free time I expected to find but that hasn’t shown up as of yet, and still waiting for Martha to give me a call with my million dollar book deal.  But I have managed to do a blog entry each week, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to share the fun things my family and I do all year long.  I’m excited to keep it up for another year.

If you ask me, the everyone needs some cheering up these days.  The way I see it, the world is a pretty gloomy place at the moment.  Violence and crime are out of control.  All of the joy (and learning for that matter) has been meticulously removed from public schools for both kids and teachers.  Everyone seems frustrated with the state of politics and is very busy hating the side opposite from their own with all their might.  And for lack of a better way to say it, people are just acting mean about all of the above instead of trying to do anything to help improve any of it.  So this blog is my small attempt to make the world a better place by sharing how we celebrate the joy in life all year long and hopefully spreading some festive cheer along the way.

Acorn Donut Holes

A couple years ago I discovered the amazing-ness that is Nutella when I made these darling little acorns for the first time.  I can’t imagine how I had missed it up until then, but after making these fall treats, I was hooked!  These little goodies are so quick and easy and are the perfect way to spruce up your run of the mill cider and donuts party.

I first found these on Pinterest.  All you need is donut holes, Nutella, toffee bits, and pretzel sticks.

Acorn Ingredients

Acorn Ingredients

Start by spreading Nutella on the top of a donut hole.  Then dip it in the toffee bits.  Finish by sticking part of a pretzel stick in the top for a stem.  That’s it!

Acorn Donut Holes

Acorn Donut Holes

Short, sweet, and delicious.  The Nutella and donut hole combination is unbelievably tasty.  A fall treat to make any squirrel envious!

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.