Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Because we love our teachers. And MOST of our neighbors.

...just not the ones with the killer pit bull that attacked my mom...

Let's kick this off right, with a good ole' roundup!  If you're stumped when it comes to teachers or neighbors, this is the place for you.  From the family that just moved in, to Christmas for your pals next door... from a token of appreciation for your child's teacher, to sending that teacher off to summer with a bang - THIS is your one stop shop.

I combined teachers and neighbors.  Because 1) I found a lot of these gifts to be interchangeable.  (not ALL) and 2) 30 sounded better than 15.  
Christmas, welcome, thank you, cheer up, happy summer - it's all right here!
1. Box of Sunshine - Katherine Maries (You know how I feel about yellow.  How would your neighbors feel finding this on their stoop?  Awesome.  That's how.)
2. Hot Cocoa Kit - bhg (I'm a fan of hot cocoa kits of all types.  This one is super cute)
3. Framed Post-Its - Paper Wings (Seriously easiest gift ever.  And really cute.  Can't go wrong.)
4. Milk and Cookies - JackOLyn Murphy (I've shared it before and I'll probably share it again.  Um, hello?  Look at the straw!)
5. Extra Dough - Let the Games Begin (This is just darn funny.)
6. Welcome Home Gift - Two Shades of Pink (She always makes the prettiest, heartwarming things!)
7. Bread in a Can - Chasing Fireflies (and I don't just like it for its yellow ribbon, though that helps)
8. Pie in a Jar - Tidy Mom (Um, pretty and delicious!)
9. Snowman Kit ("Just Add Snow") - the fickle pickle (Ack!  Forget neighbors, I'm making this for my family!)
10. Martha Stewart Copycat Housewarming Gift - Just Make Stuff (This has got to be the number one most REPINNED pin I have on pinterest.  Like thousands of repins and counting.)
11. Pocket Sized Town Tour - Brown Paper Packages (Cute AND practical - you LDS people out there, it would be perfect to someone moving into your ward!)
12. Wrapping up a Year - Buzzzzzzzz (Not only adorably packaged, but just plain awesome)
13. Stay Cool Tub - eighteen25 (Everyone loves Otterpops!)
14. Blowing Christmas Wishes - I Never Grew Up (How cute are those Christmas colored gumballs?)
15. Lemon Loaf - The Twinery (I would learn how to make a lemon loaf just to make it this pretty.)

1. Alphabet Vase - One Charming Party (Easy to make, and cute to boot)
2. Plastic Bottle Apples - Creative Jewish Mom (Yea for recycling!)
3. Fortunate to Have You Gift - 71 Toes (If I were a teacher I'd love this!)
4. Pencil Flower Bouquet - The Happy Scraps (That's just cute, you have to admit)
5. Apple Stamp Tote - ko-ko-ko kids (we love apple stamping!  I've never thought to do it on fabric for some reason...)
6. Relaxing Summer Gift - Rachel Berry (looks like no better way to send your teachers to summer vacay!)
7. Cabochon Bookmarks - eighteen25 (technically, I'd say these are perfect for anyone)
8. Sharpie Plates - Brooklyn Limestone (imagine these with a quote about learning or teaching with cookies piled on top!)
9. Gardening Teacher Gift - Kari from UCreate for Skip To My Lou (I love the quote on the bag)
10. Pencil Monograms - Caro (frugal and adorable)
11. A is for Apple (with Caramel Dip) - Event Trender (an apple for teacher is pretty standard... but add the caramel dip and it's WOW!)
12. Crayon Wreath - a bushel and a peck  (this makes me wish I was a teacher)
13. Mousetrap Memo Pad - Pretty Handy Girl (I might make this for my mom)
14. Joy Jar - Nothing But Country (a new twist on the "memory jar" you'd make for your family members)
15. Ice Cream Sundae Kit ("Just Add Ice Cream") - Family Bites (Perfect summer treat!)

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you have no excuse now.

For more gift ideas for teachers and neighbors, check out my "Gifts for all Occasions" Pinterest Board!

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gift it.

I have an announcement to make.  And due to lack of wittiness (which I blame on being in the backwoods for a week... my wit has been dulled) I'm just going to come out with it.  Forget the pre-banter.

I hereby declare August Homemade Gift Month.  Here's the dealio.  The 411.  The flim flam.  (Actually, I have no idea what that means.  I've decided to make up slang words when none present themselves forthwith into my  mind.)  So here's the higgidy piggidy:

I was looking through a few of my "to post" ideas and realized that I had quite a lot of homemade gifts I hadn't yet shown you.  This led me to the realization that I'd been doing pretty well with my goal to only handmake the items I gave as gifts this year.  And THAT led me to the realization that if I wanted to stick to my OTHER goal of not procrastinating Christmas present making, I should really get on that no later than September.

In the midst of all this deep pondering, I was struck by the brilliant notion that perhaps YOU, my lovely readers, would also be making gifts for certain people on your list.  And then came the epiphany.

Aren't handmade gifts the bomb?  The thought?  The effort?  The time spent to make something perfect?  The personalization?  The ideal pairing of item to recipient?  Making sure it is cute or manly or well thought out or funny - whatever will fit their personality?  Really, aren't handmade gifts - simply put - the best?!
I think so.  I also think that there's a lot of intimidation surrounding handmade gifts.  I know there is for me.  I think to myself, "I can make something for my sister, but if I make something for my brother he'll think it's lame." Or, "How can you handmake for a 16 year old boy?  My nephew will hate it!"  Or "It's a wedding, not a barbeque.  I have to get something from the registry!"  There seem to be certain occasions or persons for which I just cannot bring myself to create for.  Do you feel the same?

Even if you don't - even if you are a handmaking queen... a connoisseur of handmade git goodness - we could all use some gift inspiration now and then, right?

So what do I do when epiphany strikes?  I put together a series, of course!  And this one's going to be good.


(Now, before I go any further, I'd like to address the offense that some of you have no doubt taken with the song I chose to base my series title on.  Before you get all tense and huffy about it, I would like to point out that this classic 80's song by DEVO has a whole lot of hype and total misunderstanding surrounding it's origins and meaning.  You know what I'm talking about, I know you do, or you wouldn't be all up in arms, so I won't go into details about the assumptions people have made and continue to make, but I will refer you to songfacts to get your facts straight.  Even the band admits that the lyrics have been misrepresented and the common understanding is simply "a myth."  Short story, this song is about getting off your duff and DOING something - anything.  It's about moving past the laziness and "whipping it" into shape.  Plain and simple.  And you know what?  I think that's  pretty appropriate for this series.  Get off your duff.  Make some presents.  Overcome the insecurities.  Just do it!  Ok, I'm done.)

The gist of it is this: you can make handmade.  YOU.  Can make handmade.  This is a series that will prove to you that no matter the occasion, no matter the skill level, you can make some stellar gifts that will be treasured and NOT trashed.

So what can you expect from August?  Posts like crazy from your favorite bloggers and mine... oooh, you should see the line up!   All about handmade presents.  Presents for babies.  For showers and birthdays.  Christmas and Mother's Day and Bar Mitzvah?  We've got you covered.  Neighbor gifts, teacher gifts, mailman gifts, best friend gifts... by the end of August you will be confident in your handmade gift giving prowess.  Trust me.

The party starts tomorrow.  Be here or be... uh... squeere???  Whatever.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I've been scavenging!

We're back!  A little sleep deprived, extremely bug-bitten, and very grateful for a decent shower with decent soap... but we're back!  This trip only solidified my "vacation = catastrophe" theory where Justin and I are concerned, but I'll have more on that later.  

For now, I thought I'd finally, after many, many moons, join in Ashley's Scavenger Hunt Sunday!  So exciting. 

I'm using photos from last week's vacation to northern Wisconsin... though you'll obviously see more of this trip later on as well.

Right before we left, the kids and I painted rocks.  You'll see more of this project later on.

I don't know if you're aware, but Wisco has got to be the greenest state in the country.  Did you know that 60% of Wisconsin is considered heavily wooded?  That's a lot of woods.  I had a hard time choosing a photo for green, so here's a triptych of a hike through the woods...

And here's bug sitting on a tree stump.  Gotta love this kid.

And bug again... because his eyelashes go on forever, and I love them all drippy droppy when he's been swimming.

How about circles?  Lillypads have always looked very geometric to me.  They were all around the beach at the island.

Just a snippet of the view... Pretty incredible.

I wanted to show you something new I learned, too!  I saw this over on Delia Creates.  It's a focal zoom technique... up until I saw her mention it, I thought that was just something you did in the editing process.  But apparently, if you've got some good lighting you can just slow your shutter speed down a lot, pull your zoom all the way out, focus on one point, then hold down the shutter button at the same time you are turning your zoom to zoom in the whole way.  I found I got the best results when I put my camera on continuous shot mode, so it would keep taking the picture as I kept zooming.  Then I had a lot of shots to choose from.  I think it would have been better had I used a tripod, but I didn't take mine on the trip.
Pretty cool looking though, right??  It almost gives you vertigo...

And because this post seems sadly lacking in mini shots, here's another to round it out:
He's telling her an amazingly funny knock knock joke to coax this smile.  It goes like this:

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Ezra who?"
"Ezra silly bologna pants kid!"

Which is remarkably similar to the first knock knock joke I ever invented which, according to my parents, went like this:
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Banana bologna!"
And then I would laugh hysterically.  Apparently bologna is really funny.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Friday, July 27, 2012

I like to pretend it was my grandma.

I admit this is a bit of a departure from my usual post.

But I couldn't help posting about this adorable dress.

You may have seen it first on my tea table and stools post (an upcycled project we really love!)

I wish I knew more about this adorable crocheted dress.  I found it at a thrift store and bought it for 50 cents.  Yep.  50 cents.  Who gives away a hand crocheted dress in this lovely shade of cool minty green for only 50 cents??  Not that I was complaining.  I actually bought it when I was pregnant with mini - which violates every thrifting rule, namely don't buy ahead - if they can't use it now, don't get it.  But I couldn't resist.

This dress has a story.  Somebody lovingly crocheted each stitch.  Then they wove the perfect white ribbon through the neck and waistline.  They may have gently folded and placed it in a box before wrapping it in special paper.  Then they presented it to one very special and lucky little cutie pie.
Somewhere along the line, the story was lost and the dress was donated without a second thought.  But I like to think that somehow mini is helping the legacy of this handmade item live on. 

We pair it with a turquoise and purple sundress underneath and I love the way the ruffle pokes out the bottom.

I like to pretend my own cute little grandma made it.  Just as she made me countless pair of crocheted house shoes when she was alive.

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cute little cabachons

I've got a cute and easy project today!  

If you've signed up for Mindy Mae's Market or Pick Your Plum (and if you haven't, why not??) you have a TON of these little cabochons lying around.  Don't deny it.  I know it's true.

I decided to use some of them for my sister IL's birthday.  She doesn't where a ton of jewelry.  No rings except for her wedding ring.  No earrings except for super hypoallergenic pure gold for her crazy ears.  BUT one thing she wears a lot of are bracelets.  

I started with this pendant bracelet I got at Hobby Lobby.  It came with all the pendants put together and the clasp already attached - that's my kind of jewelry making.

I took some E6000.

And attached one cabochon in each square.

That's it!  Easy Shmeezy!  Done!  I used pastel, subdued colors.

I decided to make some earrings anyway.  Just in case she decided to give them a try.  Just E6000'd them to some posts.  
I made a coordinating ring as well, to really round out the gift.  Then I went cray-zay and made a million more.  I am totally keeping that hot pink one.

And I attached the gift to paint chips.  Voila!

The photo quality is super bad.  Sorry about that.  Does the ease and cuteness of this project make up for that?

*Be sure to check the right sidebar for all the fun parties I link to!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Getting the Blues" Hunt - and STRIPES!

At the beginning of the month I was a super lucky guest post-er for Color Your Summer on Delia's blog.  My color was blue and although I tossed around a good many ideas for this post (one of which you'll see later) I finally went with this one because it really got the kids involved.  Here it is in case you missed it!

Summer is all about time with family, right?  Kids are home from school, the sun stays up well into the evening, it's warm and bright... it's the perfect atmosphere for fun with kids!  So let me give you just one more summer boredom buster.

We'll begin with our craft.  Let's shnazzy up a little notebook, shall we?

You can buy these cutey patootie tiny memo books at Walmart for around 30 cents.  Can't go wrong there.  But they're a little bland.  All you need to dress them up is:

Now, let me preface this by saying that you can, obviously, just put the washi tape on the notebook and - Ta-da! - you're done!  BUT, if you're like me and know that boring black notebook showing through the tape will bother you TO NO END, then here's an easy solution.
1. Place two pieces of plain white paper under your mini notebook.  Cut across so that the paper is the same height as the notebook.
2. Fold the two pieces around the notebook, so the ends are tucked inside the front and back covers.
3. Make sure you don't fold the paper around the notebook with the notebook OPEN, like this.  If you do, the notebook won't shut.
4. Slip the notebook out of the paper.  It will look like this.

5.  Take your washi tape and measure it out to the length of the SPINE FOLD to the EDGE of the paper.  Cut the piece this long and lay it out on a notebook cover (or other surface it will easily pull away from).
6. Now, measure out 6 more pieces of washi tape to the same length.
7. Place the first piece at the top of the paper, from spine out to the edge.
8. Be sure the tape overlaps the top of the paper.  Fold this down over the back of the paper and smooth out the tape on the front.
9. Do this with the rest of your tape pieces, making sure to line up the stripes so they look like one continuous stripe down the cover.
Note: Do this on both sides of the spine and leave the spine tape free.  It's easier to work with shorter pieces of tape.

10. When you're finished with the "covers", place two pieces of tape that are just longer than the height of the notebook down the spine.  Overlap them and tuck the ends to the back of the paper.

11.  Lay your paper face down.
12. Spray the entire back with spray adhesive.
13.  Line up the spine on your notebook with the spine in the paper.
14.  Lay the back cover down, fold the flap over and press down firmly.  Do the same with the front.

Voila!  Your very own handy dandy notebook.  At least that's what my son calls it.

So, what are we going to do with our handy dandy notebook?  Well, we're going to have a handy dandy scavenger hunt, of course!

The theme?  "Getting the Blues".

1. First, think of a bunch of blue things.  Be creative!  Find pictures on the internet and print them out on plain paper.
2. Help your child cut out the pictures and
3. tape them into their notebooks!

Then you can write what each item is underneath the picture.  We had 5 general categories of items:
Everyday Things
I also threw in a few "abstract" ideas:

The pictures are taped into the notebook with washi tape.  There is one blank page after each picture page to use later.
Now you just need to go on your "Getting the Blues" hunt!  Take a walk.  Bring your notebook to the store or library.  Take some time.  Remember, everything you find has to be blue!
When you find something blue, just check it off with your marker!

And then, take a picture.  Later on, you can print your pictures out and tape them onto the blank page after the corresponding item.

There are so many things I loved about this activity.  Of course, your kids will be learning on a very basic level... what is blue - in all of its shades and hues?

What is a rectangle?  A circle?  Spots?  Plaid?

It also teaches less concrete but still important concepts.  
How to look at things in different ways and think outside the box:
Do you see a blue circle or just the letter "o"?

How to be more aware of your surroundings.  How to observe and pay close attention.

And the kids?  Well, just thought it was all kinds of fun!
They even begged grandma to come along, and pointed out that the sky was a particularly nice shade of blue that day.

Your kids will also love looking through all the photos you took while on the hunt.  What a great reminder of some fun things you did together during the summer!

We have big plans for red, yellow and green now.

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