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.)
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.
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!
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!
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
Well, it’s the end of summer, which means I’ve been busy checking off all the great end of summer traditions.
Going to the State Fair. Didn’t happen. Too hot. Too stormy. Maybe next year.
Seeing the first school supplies in the store and feeling my heart start to race in a combination of excitement for a new school year and dread that summer is ending. Check.
Shopping for fall clothes. Almost check. Seems like they arrive in the stores later and later. Note to stores – the summer stuff on clearance still hasn’t sold. Give up. The stuff left is left because no one wants it. It won’t ever sell. We are tired of it. Bring on the sweaters!
Neglecting to water the flowers I lovingly cared for all summer and secretly hoping they just go ahead and die already because I’m antsy to put out fall mums. Check.
Waking up in a cold sweat after the first back to school stress dream of the season. (If you aren’t a teacher, you may not be familiar with the phenomenon of these dreams that generally start like clockwork for teachers in late July. They usually involve some sort of disaster like a missing class list or an undecorated bulletin board or realizing you have no lesson plans 5 minutes before the kids come rushing in on the first day of school.) Check. Although in all honesty this year, for the first time in my life, my back to school dream was a happy dream instead of a nightmare! That may be due to the fact that I get to work with fabulous co-teachers this year as I embark on new adventures in new classrooms. Or perhaps it’s due to the fact that I had a really wonderful summer.
Which brings me to the last great end of summer tradition: the “What I Did On My Summer Vacation” story. This summer I was able to do lots of stuff I haven’t gotten to do for years. I went out to lunch with several friends. I got to read several books. I got to do lots of baking projects from Pinterest, mostly involving lemon and s’mores related recipes because those scream summer to me. I got to see “Bad Moms,” my first actual movie in an actual theater since “The Lego Movie,” because much like Kristen Bell’s character in the movie, I don’t get out much. (By the way, did anyone else find it ironic that Kristen Bell’s stay at home mom character in the movie most likely spends a good deal of her time watching “Frozen,” starring none other than… Kristen Bell over and over again? Well I did. But then perhaps I related a little TOO much to her character in “Bad Mom’s” and was reading too much into it!) And best of all, I got to spend lots and lots of time with our precious daughter this summer. Even though playing her version of “Cinderella” (in which the stepsisters give Cinderella chores and Cinderella says, “No, I’m taking a nap instead.”) got a bit tiring day after day after day, I know I’ll miss having all the free time available just for playing. Goodbye summer 2016. Here’s hoping this fall is as wonderful as this summer was!
When I was little, the last hurrah of summer was always a trip to the State Fair. My dad had an exhibit there, so we HAD to go so he could take his turn to clean the exhibit. Such a burden. It was always one of my favorite events of the year. Even though I have always hated getting dirty, there was something very satisfying about spending a hot, sticky evening at the fair walking around looking at (and unfortunately smelling) hot, sticky animals and eating hot, sticky food like cotton candy and elephant ears then coming home to take the most refreshing bath of the entire year and going to bed feeling refreshed and ready to say farewell to summer and start a new school year on a high note.
I have not actually been to the fair for years, partly because school starts sooo early now – before the fair even starts – and partly because it turns out it’s actually really expensive to go to the fair when you’re a grown up and have to pay for your own hot, sticky food and don’t get free tickets anymore. But still every year when August rolls around, this city girl can’t help but think of the one time of year I feel like a country girl at heart hanging out at the State Fair with all the smelly farm animals.
All that inspires me to make pig cupcakes this time of year. I found the idea on Pinterest and added some of my own touches. I used a strawberry cake mix to make pink cupcakes. I frosted them with strawberry frosting. The ears were pieces of strawberry wafer cookies, the noses were slices of marshmallows, and the eyes were chocolate chips. To make them more “State Fair-ish” I added Rice Krispies Treats bales of hay and wrapped them with Twizzlers Pull and Peel strips. I placed everything on a bed of Rice Krispies to look like hay.
They are fun and tasty and just right for August. I even made these last year to take to a friend’s pig roast. They are perfect for reminiscing about the State Fair without the hot, sticky parts – and they are not nearly as smelly as the real pigs there!
The Olympics are here! I love the Olympics. We had fun at our house getting ready for them this week with the help of lots of neat ideas I found on Pinterest.
First, our daughter made a torch picture complete with Olympic rings and medals. We used foil and tissue paper for the torch itself, traced her hand and arm on construction paper, and wrapped the paper fingers around the torch. She glued on rings I had punched out of construction paper. I thought we were done, but then she added medal stickers she found in my old box of Olympics “teacher stuff.”
Olympic Torch Craft
But we didn’t stop there! Along with out regular cookout food for dinner last night we had Cheetos in ice cream cones to look like torches. How simple – yet cute – is that??
Olympic Torch Cheetos
And for dessert we had still more torches. We made cupcakes in ice cream cones and topped them with yellow and orange frosting. Admittedly not my most beautiful culinary creations ever, but still very fun.
Olympic Torch Cupcake
As I said, I really love the Olympics. You might even go so far as to say that I carry a torch for the Olympics! Ha ha. Go USA!
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???
Hydrangeas are the flowers that I think of in the early summer, so I like to decorate with them around this time of year.
Hydrangeas are really fun and quite simple to make. Just get a styrofoam ball and lots of pins with pearl heads. Then get several shades of papers to use for your hydrangea. (It’s hard to see, but he hydrangea in the picture below has light purple and light blue paper.) If you are making a blue hydrangea, get several shades of blue. If you are making a pink hydrangea, get several shades of pink. You get the idea! I think a variety of shades looks much better than just one, although you could certainly use just one color if you prefer. Punch lots of small flowers using a punch. I actually have a hydrangea punch from Martha Stewart that I got years ago at Michael’s, but I’m sure any small flower shape would work. Then punch a tiny hole in the center of each flower. Pin each paper flower to the styrofoam ball with the pins. Be sure to mix up the different shades of paper as you fill in the ball. Add leaves or ribbon, and you’re all done!
My mom recently redid her bathroom with hydrangea towels and accessories, and I loved making some hydrangea pictures for her.
For the pictures, I had my dad cut the styrofoam balls so that they would be flat on the backs and still fit inside the frames.
These hydrangeas are a fun and easy project that look great everywhere. And they are perfect for summer!
October’s poem of the month is a special kind of poem that illustrates the transition from one thing to another – in this case summer to fall, perfect for October as signs of fall become more and more obvious each day. It is a “diamante” poem because it has a diamond shape to the lines. It has a very specific format which is good for kids who might get overwhelmed trying to write a whole poem from scratch. With this poem, little poets just have to think of one individual word at a time and build their poems from there – and they end up sounding like “real” poetry! It’s also good for teaching and practicing different parts of speech. I have seen a few variations on the instructions in various teacher activity books, but after trying a few different versions this what worked best for my students:
Line 1: “Summer”
Line 2: Two adjectives that describe summer
Line 3: Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the summer
Line 4: Here’s where the transition starts – Two summer nouns followed by two fall nouns
Line 5: Three “ING” words (gerunds) that you would do in the fall
Line 6: Two adjectives that describe fall
Line 7: “Fall”
This poem was written years ago by one of my third graders:
Summer to Fall Poem
After the kids made their final copies, I had them cut them out, glue them onto orange, red, yellow, or brown backgrounds and decorate them with fall stickers. I would display them as always on my “Poem of the Month” bulletin board.