Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pre-K Week 21: Insects and Bugs

During week 21, we talked ago out insects with Mr. I in the letter people. We talked about how insects have three body parts ( a head,thorax, and abdomen), and 6 legs.  Each day we talked about a different insect, or if they didn't have 6 legs and 3 body parts we just called them a bug. 

On Monday, we started with ants since an ant is one of the most basic insects and it follows our body part rule. The kids made these adorable egg carton ants and were able to show the three body parts and 6 legs. The idea for these came from We put them together by cutting out 3 blocks of a cardboard egg carton and painting the black, brown, or red (this was a great way to expand upon having different color ants and wanting to stay away from red ants).  We the added the legs by poking 3 pipe cleaners through the sides of the carton, making 6 legs. Finally, we added googly eyes.
The ants look adorable up on our bulletin boarding we got lots of compliments :)

The kids also practiced drawing or gluing an ant with 3 body parts and 6 legs.

On Tuesday, we talked about crickets and read the book, "The Quiet Cricket" by Eric Carle. The school librarian had a copy if the book that made chirping sounds when you turned the last page, and the kids absolutely loved it.

On Wednesday we talked about spiders. The Letter People Curriculum had a great way to introduce spiders even though they aren't insects...we had Ms. I bring in her favorite insect, which was a spider [ beanie baby]. We then talked about whether a spider was an insect by counting its body parts and legs. When we saw that it had 2 body parts and 8 legs, we could see that was DIFFERENT than an insect, but we still had fun learning about them. 

We did this Itsy Bitsy Spider poem and art sheet from We did the kids hand prints the day before and let them dry. On Wednesday morning the kids added the rain by fingerprinting, then when it was dry the glued on the handprint spider with eyes, the sun, and the poem. I love how cute these turned out!!!!

On Thursday we talked about bumblebees, and the kids made these cute toilet paper roll bumblebees from 

Finally, on Friday, we did The Hungry Caterpillar. We read the book and watched the movie in the morning, and made Hungry Caterpillar Hats from The kids also did a hungry caterpillar cut and paste activity from In the afternoon, we decorated cupcakes with green icing, and when I added my special cupcake that I had decorated the night before, the kids were so excited to see that they had made Hungry Caterpillar Cupcakes (from!!!!  We used cut up tootsie rolls for the feet, and starburst for the eyes and nose. We also added sprinkles to the top of the cupcake to make the hairs on his back.

Then, of course, the kids got to eat the cupcakes right before they went home for the weekend, and it was a great way to end the week!!!!

This is our insect bulletin board that I might just keep up the rest of the year :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

[Future In-Law Gifts] Reinbeers, baking supplies, golf kit, grill kit, ladder golf.

This Christmas was the first one fiance and I spent together, and we were at his family's house with all the siblings and boyfriends there as well. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed coming up with gifts to make for each person.

For the sisters' boyfriends, I wanted to do a small, but still thoughtful gift that they would enjoy. 
I really liked these Reinbeers from Life of a Modern Mom and I thought that would be a great gift since the boys all love getting together and grunting over beer... or something like that. Fiance gave me suggestions on beers to buy them that he knew they liked, but they had a make-your-own-6pack and Publix and I ended up choosing blindly. I know nothing about beer. 

To make the Reinbeer, I just added brown pipe cleaners to the top, two googly eyes and a red pom pom for the nose. I used hot glue. 

Then, for a little added touch I covered the packs they came in in scrapbook paper to make them a little more Christmas-y. The boys were so cute drinking their beers... they made sure to leave the antlers on while they were drinking them. I'd love to see the recycling man's face the next morning!



For future-sister-in-law #1, I chose to go with her love of the Gators/ baking theme.
I made this Personalized Cake Carrier inspired by Purdy Personalized with the help of my lovely roomie and her Cricut. It was actually really easy to make... we just cut out circles and letters of various (Gators) colors onto vinyl and stuck them on. I then had to add a ribbon to pull it all together, of course. I got the cake carrier at Wal-Mart.

Also for FSIL1, I made an apron using fabric found at Michael's (YES! Michael's now sells 1- and 2- yard rolls of fabric!).  I used my basic pattern that I used to make this apron in 2011 and this one in 2012 in order to make this Cute and Colorful Apron. It didn't turn out as well as the others, but I love the colors!

Finally, SIL#1 and her boyfriend are living in different states right now, so it was a perfect time to make the
Near and Far Mugs
that I made last year for my friend in England (see that post here).

For future-sister-in-law #2, I went with a golf theme since she has been picking up golf.
I had a really hard time finding personalized golf gifts out there, but I did find this monogram-embroidered golf towel from Tina's Pumpkin Patch on Etsy. She was great!

I also made these Hand-Painted Animal Print Golf Balls inspired by pinterest. I recently reopened my etsy shop and put these in there if you would like a set!

Future mother-in-law is a great cook, so I made her these
Dip Mix Ornaments 
from bubblynaturecreations. I really liked the idea of putting usable things in these clear ornaments and the recipes sounded delicious :) I included Fiesta mix, Italian dip mix, dill dip mix, and bacon dip mix.

I also made her an
Etched Casserole Dish Set
with the help of lovely roommate and her cricut :)


I went with a grill theme for future-father-in-law.

I made these
Homemade Grill Rubs
from a post on  I put them in clear containers so  you could see the pretty layers :)

I also made these 
Appliqued Grill Towels
inspired by SillyPearl.
And included a Florida Gators Spatula.


Finally, the gift I made for the fiance was a 
Gator Ladder Golf Set
because he'd been asking for ladder golf forever.
To make this, I followed the pattern on justbuildstuff and painted it with Krylon Fusion for Plastic. I was going to make the Bola balls too, but found them for sale at Wal-Mart and found that option far more appealing. It was really easy, and we had a blast playing it over the break!
I gave it to him in a mini golf bag, and I left it unglued so we could store it easily.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Candy Bowl, CHOMP Gators Sign, Drinking Jenga (White Elephant Gifts)

This Christmas, I was lucky enough to be a part of THREE white elephant gift exchanges. I have to say, this can be a very exciting game and I admit it is one of my favorites, though I always feel awkward having the gift that never gets traded.

For our school White Elephant Exchange, I made one of my previously-made (shock! horror!) candy dishes. This time, to make it more Christmas-y, I made a 
Christmas Candy Dish 
by painting the candy dish red and tying a green ribbon (removable) around it. That way, they could take of the green ribbon and just have a red candy dish that can last all year.
To see how I made this Candy Dish the first time, view my post from May 2012.
These are really easy to make and I think they're so cute!

Ok... now to the part where I admit my selfish reasons for choosing to do this gift.
You see... I'm getting married soon.
Well, like in a year. 
And I enjoy crafting.
So, you can imagine, I'm finding all these ADORABLE crafts to do for my wedding.
The problem is, right now we're planning on 120 guests.
Which means some of the crafts I'm doing, like the favors, require me to do the same craft 120 TIMES!
So for the favors, I need altoid tins.
Well, it wasn't until I needed these that I realized the following:
1. Nobody eats altoids.
2. If anyone DOES eat altoids, they rarely finish the whole box.
3. Altoids aren't that easy to find (Wal-Mart doesn't sell them!)
4. Altoids aren't that cheap.
5. Buying empty Altoid boxes on Ebay is more expensive than buying them with the Altoids in them!

So, my plan for the project was to fill the candy bowl with Altoids and add a punny saying (I've realized that coming up with puns is a pre-requisite to being a teacher).
I chose 'Hope your holiday season is full of merri-MINT!' (that way it wasn't too specific to a holiday, depending on who received the gift).
I then filled it with almost 6 tins of Altoids!!! And there we go, a gift for them and a gift for me!


The next white elephant gift exchange we had was between friends. I may have suggested this. This was also the party where I made all that yummy food I talked about a few posts back.
So we had a friendly pot-luck white elephant gift exchange Christmas party.
I was going to add in ugly sweater in there, but I thought it was too much.
One of my friends told me I was like Pepper, the annoying friend on Modern Family who throws ridiculously themed parties.

Anyways, our constraints for this gift exchange were that it had to be under $20.
Are you ready for this??? I ACTUALLY BOUGHT A GIFT!
This was at the point where I had been crafting for weeks and I was, well, over it.
Drained out.
Void of creativity.
I found a puzzle of the Gator Stadium at Target for like $12. Many of the friends like the Gators, so this was perfect. With $8 left to spend I looked and I looked.
Finally, I found an off-brand Jenga set for $7 called 'Tumbling blocks'.

I knew JUST what to do, and the creativity struck.

Now I have to say this was not originally my idea... there is a game out there that is drinking jenga, but it wasn't at Target and I can guarantee it was NOT $7.
So, I bought the blank Jenga set, and wrote my own drinking rules on there.
The way to play is that every time you take out a piece, you have to do what the piece says.
A lot of the pieces were based on the rules of 'Ring of Fire', where it's like 'Take one drink' 'Give one drink' 'Girls drink' 'Guys drink' 'Make a rule', but some of them got really fun. My favorite was one where one person had to sit on another person's lap for a turn.
When I ran out of my own ideas, I found this list online of all kinds of drinking jenga rules.

We played the game later that night and it was super fun!

The last white elephant gift exchange was with Fiance's family on New Year's Eve. The whole family was there, including both sisters and their boyfriends. Again, the majority of this group were Gator fans, so I had a chance to make this AWESOME 
Gator Chomp Sign
 I'd been wanting to make forever.  It's inspired by this picture on tumbler, so I had to figure out how to do it myself.
Not too hard.
I found the letters for $4 each at Michaels, so right there I already hit the $20 mark for the gift.
I also bought blue and orange acrylic paint and a hand saw (I don't know what kind... it's the shape of a U with a saw across the top), as well as the orange ribbon.
I already had laquer, white dot paint, and a staple-gun on hand.

The problem was, I wanted to do this all without fiance seeing because he was a part of the exchange.

First, I had to saw the bite mark out of the P. Wow... Sawing is hard work! I purchased the saw, but didn't have a clamp or anything, so I was using my hand as a clamp while holding it down on the kitchen counter, my roommate sitting by in agony saying 'This does NOT seem like a good idea...'.

But, I successfully sawed out the P, and I still have all my fingers.

Next, I spray painted the letters blue and orange with leftover spray paint I had in the garage. I knew I didn't have enough to completely cover them, but I figured it would give them a nice base coat and would use up the little bit of spray paint I had left in the cans.

After that, I hand painted the letters with acrylic paint and let them dry. I think they needed 2 or 3 coats each. I then sprayed them with laquer. I finish everything with laquer... I love it.

Then, in the middle of the night with everyone asleep upstairs, I used a staple gun to staple the letters together. I kept most of my staples on the back, but I did have to put a few on the front to keep it together. I definitely needed a lot more staples than I used, but I was trying to keep it cute.
To hide the staples, I just put a little bit of orange or blue paint over the staple.

I also stapled on the ribbon to the back.

The last thing I did was add little white dots around the letters with white puffy paint.

I think I was way more excited about this gift than any other, and fiance's parents ended up getting it, which was pretty perfect as UF alums and Gator fans.

Beer Cap Shadowbox and Jameson Soap Dispenser (My brother's birthday gifts)

My brother's birthday is right before Christmas, so I am always hard at work at the beginning of December.  This year, I decided to make my brother drinking-related gifts. I feel like there's only so many years before it's no longer appropriate to give him alcohol gifts, so I have to get them out there now!

The first gift I chose to make was this Beer Cap Shadowbox inspired by CraftBeerHound (on sale on their website for $60!).  This was my first time using etching cream (you can buy it at any craft store, about $10 for a small bottle but lasts awhile), but luckily I had my awesome experienced roommate walking me through the process.  For the beer glass, we tried to use the Cricut, but didn't have any beer glasses on the cartridges available, so I had to free-hand it.  I drew on contact paper then cut it out with a craft knife and stuck it on the glass.

  I then gooped the etching cream on the stencil, making sure it was nice and thick. I used a painting sponge I had laying around.

I waited 5-10 minutes, washed it off a few times, and ta-da!

Fiance helped me out with this by drilling the hole at the top. We really needed a saw (which I bought a few days later for another project), but made do with what we had.


The other gift I made for my brother was this Jameson Soap Dispenser inspired by CurlyBirds.  For this, I was mis-led in thinking I could just buy a bottle of Jameson, buy any old soap bottle, and the lid would screw right on (thanks Pinterest comments with no reliability)... but it was indeed much more difficult than that.
I chose Jameson because the only other liquor that I know my brother loves is SoCo Lime and that bottle was large and plastic. I remembered that they toured the Jameson factory when they went to Ireland on their honeymoon, so I landed on that. The only bottle of Jameson they had out in the store was way too big, but they had the perfect size behind the counter.
Next I just bought a regular plastic bottle of Suave soap from Target that had a nice looking top (even though it was plastic).
I went home and emptied out the Jameson, washed out the bottle, and put a layer of mod-podge and laquer over the label to make it more water-proof.

Next I attempted the lid transfer. Uh oh...
1. The lid didn't fit.
2. The plastic tube that reaches down into the soap didn't hit the end of the bottle.

Problem number 2 was an easy fix - I just got another soap bottle from around the house that had a longer tube and cut it to the right length, then inserted it into the soap lid I already chose.

Problem number 1 was much more difficult. I tried using corks, I thought about gluing it on (which means it would be a one-time-use bottle), and I got very frustrated. Eventually, I realized that I could just use the actual lid that came with the bottle of Jameson, poke a hole in the top, and insert the soap dispenser in that.

The problem with this was that I had to disassemble the soap dispenser to take off the large plastic ring that I was going to replace with the Jameson lid.  It was easy enough, just a few rough pulls, but when I assembled it all back together the dispenser no longer worked!

My solution was to unscrew another soap dispenser in the house and see how it all fits together. So I did, and it still didn't work. Now I have 3 broken dispensers in the house. Just so you know, this went on for hours and over a few days. I bought more dispensers. I dis-assemled and re-assembled probably 20 times. Every dispenser in the house, whether it be lotion or soap or hand sanitizer is no lid-less.

Finally, just when I was about to give up, I found the problem. There's this tiny little ball that goes in the plastic tube of the dispenser. The tiny little ball was in the wrong place. That's it!

So, at last I had a working soap dispenser!!!! The funniest part was when I gave it to my brother and my mom said, "Hey! Can you do that for one of my co-workers???"

Anyways, I put these two gifts together with a 12-pack of Sam Adams (his favorite from his time in Boston) and I had myself a birthday gift!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Recent Recipes - Brunch Pizza, Chicken and Dumplings, Banana Bread, Pasta Salad, Guac, Chicken Parm, Corn Pudding, Corn Bread, Pot Roast, WHEW!

I didn't realize how many recipes I've done recently until I just tried to list them all in the subject heading! I apologize that I don't have pictures for all of these... I've gotten really bad about making food recently and then just getting too excited and eating it all without taking a picture.

Recipe #152 - Cinnamon Cream Cheese Banana Bread from FromValsKitchen: This bread was REALLY good! I love banana bread, and the cream cheese and cinnamon on top of it made it extra yummy. Ready for the hilarious cooking disaster story that is assumed with the majority of my 'experiments'? So... the fiance is tall, and I don't really think about how life can be different up there. I was running out the door, and asked him to take the banana bread out of the oven when the timer went off. No problem, right? I even called to make sure he did it. Yup! I got home an hour later, and saw a loaf of banana bread on the counter.
A loaf. One.
Now, I do understand that I only said 'take the banana bread out' and did not specify how many loaves were in there. I also understand that as someone who has made bread before most batters fill two loafs. I do understand the situation.
I find it very hard to understand that someone can be so tall HE COULDN'T SEE THE SECOND LOAF IN THE OVEN! It was like two inches back!
Well, he doesn't understand why I need to climb on counters to reach things, so I guess fair is fair. The good thing is he turned the oven off when the timer went off, so the bread wasn't horribly burnt, just a little hard. 
The other loaf was delicious and I brought it to my family for Thanksgiving!

Recipe #153 - Chicken and Dumplings from myrecipes: I have to say, I wasn't too impressed with this recipe. It might have been because I dumped a little too much salt in when the box was open, but I just thought it tasted a little TOO much like the frozen pot pies I used to eat all the time my freshman year in college. Also, putting the biscuits on top of everything didn't really pull it together, it just was biscuits on top of veggies. 

Recipe #154 - Quick Brunch Pizza from BettyCrocker: Once again, a recipe I wasn't too thrilled with. It just tasted like scrambled eggs.
Recipe #155 - Tortellini and Pepperoni Pasta Salad from SimpleDeliciousSouthernFood: This recipe was really good! I love pasta salad anyways, especially if it has pepperonis in it. The only thing bad about this was I only got one serving before it was devoured by everyone else :(

Recipe #156 - Guacamole from laylita: Okay, this may only be a simple guacamole recipe, but neither of us had made guacamole from scratch before. My first attempt was a fail because I let the avacado ripe a little too long and it became moldy. The second attempt (this one) was AMAZING and it made SO MUCH guacamole. I used one of those huge avacadoes instead of those little Haas ones (or whatever). Ok, don't judge, but fiance, roommate and I just sat there for an hour eating like two pounds of guacamole. 
For rizzaile. 

Recipe #157 - Tennessee Honey Corn Pudding from Twirl and Taste: This corn pudding was good, but I would have to attempt it again because it was a little liquidy.

Recipe #158 - Boston Market Cornbread from The Sisters Dish: This was an eye-opening experience. This recipe involves mixing cornbread mix with yellow cake mix. It tastes JUST LIKE Boston Market, and it made me re-think every single delicious piece of corn bread I've ever eaten in my life. I made it for a pot luck we had for Christmas, and everyone loved it so much. I just couldn't bring myself to tell them my secret though.

Recipe #159 - Paula Deen's Pot Roast from the Food Network: I made this pot roast for the main dish of our Christmas pot luck. About 10 minutes into making it, I realized this was extremely risky as everyone's meal was depending on my success (and I don't have the best track record, let's be real). Fiance didn't have much faith in me... he kept expecting it to fall apart and shred, and it never did. I'm not sure if it was supposed to, but I just took it out and cut it and it was delicious! Especially with the gravy on top (which I soaked up with the cornbread). The way I saw it... the Grinch cut the Roast Beast in The Grinch, so our pot roast was supposed to be cut too, right?

Recipe #160 - Grinch Punch from MakeandTake: This Grinch punch was a perfect addition to our Christmas Pot Luck, and wasn't too shabby with a little vodka too :)

Recipe #161 - Chicken Parmesan Crescents from SixSistersStuff: THIS WAS THE BEST RECIPE!!!! I'm so excited to share it with you and I want to make it again and again. It's so simple, doesn't take too long, delicious, and seemed even better as leftovers. GO MAKE THIS NOW!