Tag Archives: seasons

Gobble!

Happy November!  I don’t know about you, but our November is off to a perfect, November-y start.  While I always prefer sunny weather, there’s something wonderful about a gloomy, rainy November day.  That’s just what we’ve had today – a lovely cozy Sunday cooped up indoors away from the soggy weather outside.  It’s been wonderful and relaxing, and now I feel totally ready for Thanksgiving!  I’ve been learning to love Thanksgiving more and more over the past few years, and I feel kind of bad for it as the overlooked holiday of the year.  It’s always a bit frustrating to me that it’s very hard to find clothes and decorations for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some of my own.  I had so much fun making my Trick or Treat merchandise on Zazzle, so I made some Thanksgiving items as well.  These designs all feature my drawing of the word “Gobble,” complete with a turkey for the o.

Gobble Pillow

There are shirts, mugs, paper plates, pillows… Go check them out at our online store!  I (along with the neglected holiday of Thanksgiving) appreciate it!

End of Summer S’mores

It’s been a very busy few weeks.  I meant to share these fun s’mores ideas earlier as a late summer idea, but I’m just now getting around to it a few days before fall starts.  Just under the wire!  S’mores are fun in the fall too though, right?

A couple of weeks ago we had a s’more themed party for our family.  I loved how the decorations came together so quickly and easily – and they looked so cute!  First I made a chalkboard sign for our kitchen featuring s’mores for late summer.  (Please note – I’m still working on my sign making skills.  In fact we just took a class about hand lettering last weekend.  It was very fun, and I’m getting better!  Practice makes perfect.)

S’mores Chalkboard

I also had our daughter make a picture for our fridge using brown rectangles, her handprint and glitter glue to make a campfire; chalk lines for smoke; a brown pipe cleaner for a stick; and a cotton ball for a marshmallow.  She smudged brown paint on the cotton ball so that the marshmallow would look toasted.

S’mores Handprint Picture

The centerpiece for the s’mores party was my favorite.  I found a s’more tote on Amazon and filled it with marshmallows on sticks.  I also filled Ball Jars with all of the things you need for s’mores – graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, and of course a campfire.  The campfire jar was filled with orange and yellow tissue paper.

S’mores Centerpiece

For an extra special effect, I put a battery operated tea light inside the tissue in the “campfire” jar to make it look like it was actually glowing!

S’mores Table with Light

I used brown and white plates and napkins for the party.  I absolutely loved how the table looked!  In fact, I loved it so much I saved the centerpiece and used it a second time at our daughter’s Girl Scout meeting.  This time I made it more of a picnic theme with red and white checkered plates.  To make easy s’mores, we served graham crackers that the kids could dip in chocolate frosting and marshmallow fluff.  It was a bit sticky but very easy, and the kids loved it.

S’mores Girl Scout Snack

So there you go – fun and easy s’mores party ideas you can use to try and prolong summer for a few “s’more” days!

Mourning August

Almost two years ago to the day I wrote a blog post singing the praises of August, a newly discovered month for me.  I talked about how in my past life as an elementary teacher August was so stressful and hectic with the start of school but that in the world of preschool where school doesn’t start until after Labor Day, August seemed like a whole new undiscovered month of free time. And now as soon as I had found and grown to love the lost month of August deeply, it’s gone again, just like that.  My family is leaving the world of preschool and reentering the world of elementary school this month.  As excited as I am for all of the adventures that await us, I am also very sad to lose this wonderful bonus summer month.  Before I had written about August being the month of nothing, as in there was nothing pressing to do or get done except for enjoying the last bits of summer.  Now it’s suddenly back to feeling like limbo between the sunny summer relaxation of July and fall apple picking activities of September.  So I guess August is still the month of nothing, but just because it’s kind of in no man’s land.  It’s the start of school without all the warm fuzzy feelings about going back to school that naturally come with the month of September.  Poor August.  And poor me!  Even though my love affair with August was fleeting, I’ll miss it terribly.    R.I.P. August.  I barely knew you!

The Joy of a New Planner

I know I have shared about my love of school supplies in the past.  This year was the first year our daughter had a substantial school supply list, and I was so excited to share my love of school supply shopping with her (and to be honest simultaneously get my school supply fix for myself).  And then we got the school supply kit order form from the school.  Apparently now teachers now get to select supplies they want in a kit and parents can order it.  It’s faster, more convenient, easier, less expensive, better for the teachers because they are guaranteed to get exactly the specific supplies they need… and utterly depressing for school supply lovers like me.  There was one item, some dot stickers, not included in the kit.  Believe me – I made an event out of buying those dot stickers.  There was a special outing and a photo op and everything.  But it just wasn’t the same.

So I came home and drowned my sorrows in my shiny new planner I had gotten a few weeks earlier.  Of course I know that phones have calendars on them now.  However, I just use my phone’s calendar as a backup to my written planner.  I have always done this – ever since high school when one of the school supplies I was always excited to get was my brand new assignment notebook for the year.  For several years, calendar books and planners were hard to find or quite boring when I was able to find one I assume because of the calendars on the phones.  Just about five years ago, I was afraid they were going to stop making calendar books and planners entirely because they were so hard to find.  I finally found a student planner reminiscent of my old high school assignment notebooks at Vera Bradley a few years ago.  I really liked it even though it was meant for high school or college kids.  And I must not be alone in my love affair with planners and calendar books because then suddenly they have apparently become cool again.  There started to be more and more cute options.  This year when I went to Paper Source to find a calendar book, there were so many choices!  (I, of course, went with the pink and sparkly option.)

My Planner

And there are so many stickers and accessories to go with the planners now!  I’ve heard that there are entire Etsy stores that sell nothing but stickers for calendars.  I have yet to check out these sites, but I am intrigued by the possibilities.  I had a lovely time filling in important dates, holiday traditions, reminders, and notes in my beautiful new planner.  In fact my new planner is so complete that I was able to transfer several ongoing lists of projects I want to do into it.  So instead of 3 notebooks plus my calendar book, I now have just one planner full of everything.  I don’t know why I find this to be so satisfying, but I do.  Perhaps it’s because it combines holidays and organizing – 2 of my favorite things.  So even if my new planner was my only opportunity to play with shiny new school supplies this year, at least I enjoyed it completely!  In a world where school supplies now come in convenient yet depressing kits, I hope that the fancy planner trend is one that lasts for years to come.

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!

Ode to the Staycation

I am a homebody.  I’m perfectly content puttering around the house, and I don’t like to travel.  I’m afraid of flying, and I get antsy in the car for long trips.  Most of all, I much prefer my nice clean house – especially the nice clean bathrooms in my nice clean house – over the questionable at best cleanliness in even the nicest hotels.  You may think that is all weird, but it’s me.  That’s why I was so excited about our recent summer staycation – and it was fabulous.  Let me take a moment to sing the praises of the staycation:

  1.  The weather – it was perfect.  Sunny and cool at the end of June.  I know that was just dumb luck on our part, but it was wonderful.  And the nice thing about a staycation is that had the weather not been perfect on any given day, we could have easily rearranged our plans rather than being tied down to a tight schedule the way we would have been if we would have been far from home.
  2. Flexibility – again, no tight schedule.  We woke up when we wanted, headed out to each day’s activity when we were ready, stayed as long as we wanted each place… it was great.
  3. Relaxation – at the end of each day, we got to come home and just hang out, again in our nice clean house.  And we got to just veg.  When I was growing up, my dad – aka the Energizer Bunny –  always packed our family vacations so full of activities each day that it left little time for relaxation.  My favorite vacation memory was the time my mom told my dad that he could go sight seeing on his own one afternoon because we were just too hot and tired to do any more that day.  My mom and I went back to the hotel, split an apple juice and a bag of Cheetos from the vending machine, and watched a movie in the hotel room.  It was heavenly.
  4. Less expensive – each place we visited we already had memberships or we had already purchased discount tickets months earlier when we had the opportunity.  So it felt like everything was free because we had already paid for everything.  And we were able to eat at home each evening instead of having to eat out.  Unless we decided wanted to go out for a nice dinner for fun – again with the flexibility and relaxation.
  5. No recovery – there was no unpacking, no mounds of laundry to do at the end of the week.  Aside from putting away a few new random gift shop purchases everything was back to normal right away.

So thank you, staycation, for a wonderful week.  I hope to do it again next year!  My husband is a homebody like me, so I know he’d be up for it.  I’m not sure how long we can keep our daughter convinced that staying home is the way to go though… She recently convinced our neighbors that we are taking a trip to Egypt soon (To clarify, we have no plans to visit Egypt, but she does.  She is actually planning a trip there.  She loves everything about ancient Egypt, so she’s bound and determined that she is going – whether or not we choose to accompany her!), and when we were at Pottery Barn Kids picking out her new backpack for school she was more interested in trying out suitcases and luggage she’ll need for her trip to Egypt.  Our staycation days may be numbered if she has anything to say about it!  I’ll just enjoy staying home at “our happy place” for now.

Handprint Ice Cream Cones

It’s summer!  And what goes more perfectly with summer than ice cream?  I found the idea for these cute handprint ice cream cones on Pinterest and decided to make them with our daughter.  They turned out so cute that we also made them at preschool with our class on Ice Cream Day.  Besides, I love making projects with hand prints or traced hands.  I think it’s so fun to have projects that preserve how big kids’ cute little hands are at different stages – especially at the end of a school year.

The ice cream cones are are very simple and quick to make.  First I cut some triangles out of light brown construction paper for the cones.  I had the kids draw lines on them with brown crayons or markers to make them look more like ice cream cones.  Then we glued them onto a light blue background.  Then I had several sheets of “ice cream colored” construction paper – pink, white, brown, lime green, yellow…  The kids picked their favorite ice cream “flavors” for their papers.  You can make one, two, three or even more “scoops!”  I traced their hands and cut them out.  Older kids would of course be able to cut them out themselves, but for little ones it’s hard to cut out hand shapes with all the ups and downs between the fingers without accidentally chopping off a paper finger here and there!  We glued the hand “scoops” on top of the ice cream cones in whatever order the kids chose.  Then they got to glue a cotton ball on the top scoop for whipped cream.  The final touch was a little round circle punched out of red construction paper to be the cherry on top!  All the kids, our own daughter included, enjoyed making their ice cream cones.  All that was left to do was hang the ice cream project on the fridge and start enjoying summer!

Kindergarten: You Had Me at “Seasonal Crafts”

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post, and I’ve been meaning to write this one for quite awhile because it is very near and dear to my heart.  However, it’s been a very busy time at our house and this is the first chance I’ve had to actually sit down and do it.  One of the things that has kept us so busy is preparation for kindergarten.  Yes, it’s spring not fall – but we’ve had a few orientation events looking ahead to when our little one heads to school.  I expected these events to be very bittersweet.  On one hand, as a teacher I love school.  On the other hand, as a mommy I hate to send our little one out into the world.  I know that kindergarten these days is often not allowed to be what it used to be, or frankly what it should be.  Even in kindergarten, the focus is more and more on worksheets and academic skills instead of learning how to learn and love school.

However, after attending the preliminary orientation meetings, I must say that the sweet has totally overtaken the bitter.  The staff at the school addressed every one of my concerns with what are, in my opinion, the “right” answers.  The teachers explained that they would start the year working on routines and getting along with others and how to be good citizens, and I began to smile.

The teachers said the children would be doing a lot of coloring and explained the importance of coloring for writing development and building hand and finger strength, and I began to grin.  (I was also reminded of one of the saddest stories I’ve ever heard.  A few years ago, one of my friends told me about how her daughters’ first grade class had earned a party.  They could choose any activity they wanted as a special reward… watch a movie, play a game, have a treat, anything.  With all those choices, the class voted to… wait for it… color.  The six and seven year old children in the class felt that they didn’t get any time to color and thought it would be the most special activity they could imagine.  Heartbreaking.)

The teachers explained that they would have discovery time each day for science experiments and social studies activities, and I found myself drawing little hearts and smiley faces all over the presentation handouts.

And then – be still my heart – the teachers said that they would do many seasonal crafts, and I almost started crying happy tears.  It was all I could do not to jump to my feet and cheer.  Clearly, as the title of this blog indicates, I do love seasonal crafts.  However, it wasn’t just my love of all things seasonal that made me so happy to hear this.  I was under the impression that seasonal crafts were no longer allowed in any elementary school anywhere.  Think back to your days in elementary school – I’m willing to bet that several of your happiest memorable activities revolve around various holiday projects and parties.  At least mine do.  Of course being able to make a hand turkey or a bouquet of spring flowers out of tissue paper won’t ever be tested on a standardized test, but I believe the benefits of doing seasonal crafts are much more far reaching than any skill and drill worksheet could ever be.  They help children follow multiple step directions.  They help develop hand-eye coordination.  They help children learn to take pride in the way their work looks and always do their best.  They help children express their creativity by putting individual touches on each project.  And most important of all, they are fun.  They make children happy, and they help them realize that school is a fun place to be.  No real learning can take place until children feel happy to be at school.

Thanks to the wonderful fist experiences at our daughter’s new school, we can tell she already does feel happy about it.  A few days after our first orientation visit, she wrote a book about how to get ready for kindergarten.  She drew smiling children riding on the school bus, and she drew rooms in a school full of more smiling children and bustling activity – just the way school should be.

Happy School

I’m so grateful to know that schools like this one still exist.

Fall Sign

This blog is all about how it’s “always the most wonderful time of the year.”  And I really DO believe that’s true – each part of the year does have something fun and special to offer.  However, I must admit that if I HAD to pick a favorite season, fall would get my vote.  I feel a bit sheepish saying so – liking fall and all it’s pumpkin spiceness has become a bit of a punchline or cliche.  But I guess cliches are rooted in truth somewhere.  In my opinion, fall is just the best – cozy sweaters, colorful leaves, tasty apple cinnamon treats, crisp cool weather, trips to the orchards and pumpkin patches…  Cliche or not, I really do love it; and I love decorating our house with all the wonderful fall colors.

Fall Sign

Fall Sign

Last year I made this fall sign to decorate for my favorite season.  I found a similar idea on Pinterest.  I think I completed the whole project in under an hour, including time for the paint to dry.  I got a wooden plaque from Michael’s and painted it a copper color.  I cut the letters F L L out of brown stick on vinyl with my Cricut.  I stuck the letter F to the plaque then chose a pretty red artificial leaf to stand in for the letter A.  Then I stuck on the letter L and the other letter L to make the plaque say FALL.  I put the whole thing on an easel and put it on display to welcome in fall and all its cozy, sweater-y, cinnamon-y, pumpkin spicy glory.

Apple Bags

It’s been a busy month – can’t believe it’s almost over already!  So I’m just now getting around to sharing an idea I had intended to share much earlier in September, the month of all things apple.  But perhaps it’s appropriate that I’m finally sharing it today, on Johnny Appleseed’s birthday of all days!

I found these darling apple treat bags on Pinterest.  Just get red and green bags (or red or green and white striped or checkered or polka dotted or zigzagged, etc…. so many possibilities).  Fill them up with a treat (I used them for a back to school get together with some of our daughter’s classmates and filled them with a box of crayons).  Then fold over the tops, punch holes in the folded parts, and tie them closed with red and white bakers’ twine.  Cut out stems and leaves (or punch them out if you have punches that will work to make stems and leaves) and attach them to the tops of the bags with pop up dots.  That’s all – how do you like them apples?

Apple Bag Favors

Apple Bag Favors