As I’ve mentioned before, I really love to decorate with Ball jars. Last Christmas I came up with yet another fun use for them: I made “Christmas in a Jar” favors to give as gifts. They were really fun and actually very easy to assemble. First I got a bunch of Ball jars, obviously. Then I collected all kinds of “stuff” that reminded me of Christmas. I actually took a jar around Target to make sure none of the items were too big to fit inside the jar. I got old fashioned icicles to hang on trees, various Christmas candies, candy canes, tiny ornaments, tiny cookie cutters, and packets of hot chocolate – all the fun nostalgic things that make me think of Christmas. Then I went home and stuffed the jars with a little bit of everything.
More Christmas in a Jar
To go with the nostalgic theme, I also found some “retro” looking Christmas paper from Stampin’ Up and punched scalloped circles from it to glue to the lids of the jars. Finally, I tied a tag on each jar that labeled them as “Christmas in a Jar” so that people would understand what they were getting. They were really fun gifts to put together, and people seemed to get a kick out of getting them. They also made cute table decorations at our Christmas party last year. If you need a last minute gift or favor, you still have plenty of time to put together your own “Christmas in a Jar!” Merry Christmas!
I just finished and mailed this year’s Christmas card this weekend. So now that that task is done, I can take a moment to share one of our past cards with you. I came up with the idea for a house themed card a couple years ago when we were in the process of building a new house. My big plan was to combine our Christmas card with a change of address card. It would have worked perfectly except the building process got started a little more slowly than we anticipated, and we thought it might be putting the cart before the horse to announce we were moving before they had even broken ground on our new house. Besides, we didn’t know our new address by the time we had to mail our Christmas cards. However, the house cards were still cute so we went with them anyway.
House Christmas Card
I used a light blue card stock for the background. I cut it to 5.5″ X 8.5″ and folded it in half. On the front I glued a white mound of snow made out of white card stock. I got a set of house stamps and a matching cutting tool from Stampin’ Up and stamped and cut out a house on light brown card stock for the front of each card. I colored the houses with markers and attached them to the cards on top of the snow mounds with pop up dots. I also punched out a tiny tree for each card to go next to the house and attached those with pop up dots as well.
Inside House Christmas Card
For the inside of the cards I stamped words on brown card stock to match the house and added little red card stock hearts to the words with more pop up dots. I also added strips of paper with Christmas houses from Stampin’ Up to the bottoms of the insides of the cards. I especially loved this paper because it reminded me of my grandparents’ Christmas village that I loved to play with when I was little and that now gets set up at our house each year. Very special!
I always like to have our daughter make one special project to hang on the fridge each month. While the handprint turkey is a perennial favorite for November, I saw the idea for leaf turkeys on Pinterest and decided that we had to make our own this year. Our daughter loved making them and was quick to point out that they reminded her of a stuffed turkey decoration we have had for years because they both have leaves in place of feathers. I thought she made a pretty good connection!
I cut out large circles out of light brown construction paper and smaller circles out of dark brown construction paper. I cut out yellow beaks and red wattles. I also happened to have some artificial leaves on hand that worked perfectly, although I think it would be really fun to go on a fall nature walk looking for leaves and then have kids use the leaves they found to make the turkeys. I also had googly eyes ready for the turkeys’ faces. Start by gluing the leaves on the tops of the bigger circles. It takes a fair amount of glue to get them to stick. We used Elmer’s School Glue, but I think Tacky Glue might be a better choice. Once the leaves are in place, just leave them alone to dry. They won’t stick well if you keep lifting them up to check if they are stuck yet (soooo hard for kids to understand)! Then glue the smaller circles below the leaves. Glue on the eyes, beaks, and wattles. You will end up with super cute turkeys!
It turns out that we are SO good at celebrating holidays that sometimes we even celebrate them by accident! Earlier this spring I bought an ice cream ball from Crate and Barrel. It’s a ball that you fill with ice cream ingredients on one side and ice and salt on the other side. Then you kick it and roll it and shake it for about 20 minutes until you get ice cream. I first used it at school back in May. It was hard work to shake it enough to make the ice cream (It rained that day so we couldn’t kick it around outside, so the kids got tired of rolling it inside after a few minutes and I had to finish the job myself – boy were my arms tired!), but it was still a lot of fun and MUCH better than using the always leaky double baggie method to make ice cream in the classroom. After having fun with it at school, I couldn’t wait to try it at home with my own family. Last week, I decided that today would be the day to try it – it was supposed to be nice out, and we had some free time today before an insanely busy week coming up so why not? Our daughter loved pouring in the ingredients (a pint of cream, sugar, and some vanilla)
Ice Cream Ball Ingredients
and kicking it around the yard. Sure enough, we got ice cream! Now for the funny part though – after we had put it in the freezer and cleaned up from making the ice cream, my husband looked and Twitter and announced that he saw that today just happened to be National Ice Cream Day. We had no idea, and yet we celebrated in grand style by kicking our ice cream ball around and making our very own ice cream in honor of the day. Are we good or what???
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!
Happy April Fool’s Day! Even though it’s kind of a tiny holiday, it’s always been one of my favorites. When I was little, elephants were my April Fool’s Day joke of choice: there’s an elephant on your head, there’s an elephant behind you, etc. You get the idea. Comic gold, right?!? So elephants have become the symbol of April Fool’s Day for me. I still text my family pictures of elephants and put elephant toys here and there on April Fool’s Day.
The elephants have even become a big part of some of our most important life events which have coincidentally happened on April Fool’s Day. April 1st is our wedding anniversary (and yes, 10 years later we are still “fools in love!”). Much to our wedding coordinator’s dismay, I got some elephants and wedding outfits at Build A Bear and had them all dressed up and waiting as a surprise at my parents’ seats in the sanctuary at our wedding.
April Fool Wedding Elephants
Last year, our first big inspection of our new still under construction house was on April 1st. My husband was sure to take some pictures with a strategically placed toy elephant to commemorate the occasion.
April Fool Elephant at Our New House
Such happy and special memories on such an absurd holiday! So have some fun today – whether or not elephants are part of your celebration.
I have two things on my mind today: Leap Day, which we only get to celebrate once every 4 years, and Oscar Night, which to me feels like something I celebrated in a past life. Both of them happening just a day apart makes me think about having extra time and how to use it best.
I used to be a movie buff. I made sure I saw every Oscar nominated movie before Oscar Night. I studied the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards and read movie magazines and made signs to cheer for my favorite movies and made elaborate charts about who I wanted to win and who I thought would actually win. And, not to toot my own horn, but I was pretty good at it. I had a high rate of accuracy on my “think will win” list – even in the more obscure categories like “Sound Editing” and “Art Direction” (which I see is not even called “Art Direction” anymore). That all seems like a lifetime ago. I have not seen (not do I have any desire to see) any of the Oscar nominated movies this year. In fact, the last 2 movies I saw were Les Mis and The Lego Move. And they were both fantastic, by the way – I will be rooting for both of them to win an Oscar tonight, as futile as that may be… A moot point anyway though because odds are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Sid the Science Kid or Handy Manny will most likely be playing in our house as the awards are announced.
Remembering when I used to have free time to see movies leads me to think of Leap Day. A whole extra day!! What to do with all that extra time?? Sadly, extra time is not necessarily free time. And if it were free, I seriously doubt I would spend it in a movie theater. I would want to spend it doing things with my little family because I constantly feel I don’t have enough time with them as it is.
Which lead me to my blog. I started this blog when I left my teaching job at “real school” because I was worried I would get bored with all of my new found free time and that I wouldn’t have enough opportunities to be creative without teaching in a public school. Luckily, I have found that my job teaching preschoolers gives me plenty of creative opportunities – even more than “real school” actually! However, the “new found free time” has still not been found. So I am going to start doing my blog posts a little less often. Rather than once a week, I may just post whenever I have a fun seasonal idea to share. I must admit I feel guilty – even though it was a self imposed “assignment” to do a blog post each week, I feel like I am letting myself down by scaling back. But then again, what good are all the seasonal activities I share if I’m too busy to actually enjoy them with my family? So with that, happy Leap Day and happy Oscar Night… or as it is shaping up to be in our house, happy cuddling on the couch while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse night.
I realize it’s a bit late in the game for 2016 to be posting a poem of the month for February. It’s just that February is such a short month and so packed with holidays: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, even Ash Wednesday and Leap Day this year… it was hard to squeeze the poem in before now. At least you could use it next year if you’d like. And the coolest thing about this poem is that it actually manages to combine 2 of the holidays: Valentine’s Day and President’s Day.
This is one of the few poems I use that actually rhymes. I learned in college that children (and adults) are often intimidated by writing poetry because figuring out how to make it rhyme can be difficult, so I generally don’t have children write rhyming poetry. However, Valentine’s Day just lends itself to simplistic rhyming poetry (roses are red, violets are blue… you get the idea). In fact, to introduce this activity I usually have the children write a rhyming “Roses are Red” poem as a class. Then I have them choose some words to describe America and list words that rhyme with those words. Finally they put the words together into 4 line patriotic poems. This is a poem written by one of my third graders years ago:
What did you say
Hip hip hooray
Not very intimidating at all, and perfect for celebrating both Valentine’s Day and President’s Day. Just have the kids copy their poems on red hearts and decorate them with red, white, and blue stickers and put them on display.
So obviously this is a little late in the game for this year, but I wanted to share my Valentine’s Day marquees anyway. If you want to make some, you could always plan ahead for next year, or if you aren’t unexpectedly snowed in like we are at the moment you could make a quick trip to Michael’s and make an impromptu Valentine’s Day decoration. On a side note, speaking of impromptu, seriously – what’s with this snow? Come on weather people! Get it together! This morning they said we would be expecting one inch of snow starting at about 2:00 pm. I checked again when the snow started in earnest at about 12:30pm and suddenly they were saying we will get 3-5 inches instead. That seems like a big change, right?? Also, I don’t understand how the county south of us has a “Winter Weather Advisory” and is supposed to get only 1-3 inches of snow but we don’t have any sort of advisories. Sigh. I guess I’m still bitter after the dusting of snow we were supposed to get 2 years ago on Valentine’s Day turned into something like 9 inches.
But back to the marquees. As with my other marquee decorations, I got arrow and heart shapes from the Heidi Swapp Marquee Love brand at Michael’s. I painted the outsides metallic silver and cut red glitter paper using the templates provided for the insides. Then I put the light covers and lights in and that was it.
Short and sweet – but now it’s time for me to start working on our family Valentine’s Day celebration. We always stay in for dinner on Valentine’s Day – a tradition we started due in part to the fact that there is usually some sort of snowy weather that makes going out a miserable option. My friend Sara is right – there always seems to be snow on Valentine’s Day – whether or not the weather forecast knows it.
February’s card of the month is, of course, a Valentine’s Day card. I love this banner valentine from years past that I found in my card file box.
I used red card stock cut to 8 1/2″ by 5 1/2″ and folded in half for the background. I got an assortment of Valentine’s Day papers from Stampin’ Up and punched out a heart from one of the printed papers. I attached it to the lower right side of the front of the card using pop up dots. I stamped “Happy Valentine’s Day” in red ink on ivory card stock, punched it out, and attached it on top of the heart with more pop up dots. For the banner at the top of the card, I used a punch to make assorted little “flag” shapes from the various valentine papers. I put a pop up dot on the back of each one and stuck red and white bakers’ twine to the backs before sticking the whole little banner to the top of the front of the card. I also added a sparkly heart sticker to one of the little flag pieces for fun.
Inside Banner Valentine
For the inside of the card, I used an old Stampin’ Up “xoxo” stamp and stamped it in red ink on ivory card stock. Then I punched it out with a heart punch and used pop up dots to attach it to the upper left corner. I also added a little heart punched out of one of the valentine papers and one more sparkly heart sticker.
Happy Valentine’s Day!