Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gratitude Cards

A few years ago I designed a set of gratitude cards that I use with my students in the days leading up to Thanksgiving break. I ask them each to take a moment to stop and reflect on all they have for which to be grateful...

They always surprise me with how thoughtful and reflective they can be! I tell them not to sign the cards (they tend to be more genuine when the cards are anonymous) and then I create a 'gratitude wall' in the hallway outside of my classroom. Passersby can stop and read all of the lovely sentiments!
If you'd like to print your own gratitude cards, I've created a set of six on a page which can be downloaded here! Use them with your own students or at your Thanksgiving celebration!

I'm grateful for...

-The fact that I've been able to accomplish many of my life goals thus far
-My lovely little home...a dream come true
-My extremely generous family
-Parks and Recreation...laughter really is the best medicine
-Lifelong friends who know the 'real' me
-A career in which I get to make a real difference in people's lives

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Craft Club Magnetic Matchbox Advent Calendars

I'm so excited about starting a new club at school for students who share my love of crafting!! We had our first get-together this week and our craft project was making magnetic matchbox advent calendars for them to hang in their lockers and countdown to holiday vacation! A tutorial for making the advent calendar can be found here. It's a super easy, fun, and inexpensive project!

Magnetic Advent Calendar

I made some cute little signs to put up around the school advertising the club times and the project we would be making. I got a lot of positive feedback about starting the club from administration, staff, and students! 

Basic supplies are a ton of matchboxes (the people at the Dollar Store must have thought I was crazy for buying so many), scrapbook papers, magnet strips, and jingle bells for the top of the calendar. Glue sticks, rulers, and scissors are needed to put it all together.

I had 12 students and one teacher come to the first get-together, which turned out to be just the right amount of people so that I could easily walk around and assist if needed!

Because I wanted the students to be able to hang their calendars in their lockers at school, we designed the calendars with only 19 boxes as a way for them to 'countdown to holiday vacation' instead of counting down the days until Christmas.  We are a public high school, after all, so counting down to Christmas isn't exactly PC! Ha! They will fill the boxes with notes from friends, family, and teachers so each day they are greeted with a fun message!

DIY Advent Calendar Tutorial

They turned out SO CUTE!! And the kids had so much fun making them...we chatted, crafted, snacked, and listened to awesome '80s throwback jams!

The students have already asked when the next Craft Club meeting will be so my head is already turning with lots of ideas for projects we can make! My heart is also filled with happiness from spreading crafting joy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

10 Outfit & Style Ideas for Teachers

If you follow me on Instagram you've probably seen my 'teacher outfit of the day' pictures, but if not, this post is for you! Although my school is pretty laid back when it comes to enforcing a staff dress code, most days my outfits are on the dressier side. Even on days I dress more casually, I try to ensure I look well put together when heading to work!

The places I tend to shop most frequently include Forever 21, Old Navy, H&M, Target, GAP outlet, and Banana Republic outlet. I do tend to find some great accessories and items at WalMart, too! I don't have a big budget (shocking...I'm a teacher so you would think I'd be rolling in the dough) but have found that creativity can really stretch ones wardrobe! The pictures to follow were all taken with my iPhone so the quality isn't the best, but hopefully you'll find some inspiration for your work attire nonetheless!

Outfit #1: Bold Color & Pattern
teacher style
The classic navy pencil skirt was only $12 at Forever 21 (I recently purchased it in gray also)! The navy belt came with a dress I purchased at WalMart but have repurposed here. The hot pink cardigan is from Banana outlet as is the lime green & white hounds tooth bow top! I went bold with the colors and think they play well off one another...don't be shy...go bold!

Outfit #2: Casual Friday
 My students said 'Miss Rush, your outfit looks like something I would wear' which I took as a compliment! Ha! I think the soft fall colors work well together here. The sweater is from H&M, the burnt orange tank was only $4 at Forever 21 (necklace is from Forever 21 as well...they have tons of fun and inexpensive accessories), boots were a splurge from my local Nine West outlet. Jeans are from Delias, a store for teens, but they have pant lengths for short people such as myself so I shop there for that reason!

Outfit #3: Feminine Neutrals
teacher outfit ideas
This is a really simple outfit but I love the soft colors and the bow detail of the neckline on the sweater. The top is from H&M, skirt is from Target, pumps are from Nine West outlet. I also have the shoes in black patent and really love how they look and feel (not too uncomfortable to be in all day). Purchasing classic pieces like the khaki pencil skirt & the nude pumps, really make it possible to mix and match my wardrobe.

Outfit #4: Fall Comfort
I LOVE this outfit because it's cute but so very comfortable! In this case, the plaid LL Bean scarf acts as a piece that ties the rest of the outfit together.  It's paired with a simple GAP outlet navy cardigan worn over a simple $13 heather purple dress from Forever 21. Navy tights and boots from Kohls finish off the look!

Outfit #5: MadMen
 I love this H&M sheath dress because you put on one item, and you're done! I felt like Joan from MadMen in this dress...classic and stands the test of time! I decided to pair the dress with a leopard print belt from Forever 21 to add a little bit of detail. Nude pumps keep the legs looking long...easy peasy! 

Outfit #6: Field Trip
 Dressing for a field trip in New England, in the rain, in November is not an easy task! It was cold and really windy and we had to walk outside around Salem all day. So, I paired my warmest blue wool sweater (purchased 10+ years ago at Old Navy) with my all time favorite Target purchase, this navy blue polka dot rain coat! Jeans are Delias and the Sperry wellies were purchased at Marshalls last year. They are warm, waterproof, and comfortable!

Outfit #7: Classic Teacher
When I think 'teacher style' I think of this outfit...a classic cardigan (Banana outlet) paired with a whimsical printed pencil skirt (Target) over a ruffle neckline button up shirt (Target). I wore this outfit for parent-teacher conferences and received lots of compliments!

Outfit #8: All About the Accessories
Here I've paired a pencil skirt from GAP outlet with classic white collared shirt topped with a navy blue Old Navy pullover. Without the accessories, the look would be a bit plain for my taste so I added a patent blue belt (Forever 21) and a gold bauble necklace from WalMart.

Outfit #9: Boho Chic
Another super easy outfit...dresses are the best! This bohemian-inspired paisley print dress from Forever 21 is paired with a belt, to cinch in my waist, and tan boots from Nine West (purchased in September). Really easy to put together but also very comfortable!

Outfit #10: Monochromatic with a Pop
And finally, a mono-chromatic look with a pop of red at the waist! This navy shirt dress from Old Navy is paired with navy tights and navy 'booties/shoeties'. I wasn't sure if I could pull off the bootie look as I'm pretty short and thought they would chop up my visual leg line. But, I think keeping the whole look mono-chromatic worked well.  This is an example of me going out of my comfort zone, albeit cautiously, to try something trendy...and isn't that what fashion is all about? Trying new things and having fun while doing it? My goal with work attire is to look put-together, conservative, and trendy all at the same time, while maintaining a strict budget!

Tell me, what are some of your favorite looks and places to shop on a budget?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Favorite Fall Recipes

Most of the leaves have fallen and the air is starting to turn crisp here in Maine! Autumn is arguably my favorite time of year. Between the beautiful colors, cozy warm sweaters, and pumpkin flavored goodies, it really cannot be beat! And, usually there's no snow to shovel, which is always a plus!
I have two 'go to' dishes that I serve or bring to parties. They are ALWAYS crowd-pleasers and are SO SIMPLE to make! I whipped up two dishes to share at my last get-together...
The pumpkin dip is a recipe that my friend Teal shared with was a hit at her party and so I made it for mine. It did not disappoint! Everyone loved it and, again, it's SO simple to make. It's also pretty healthy considering it's a sweet dip!

 Pumpkin Dip Recipe:
-1 15oz can of pureed pumpkin
-1 box of vanilla flavored instant pudding
-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-1 8 oz. tub of whipped topping
-1 box of ginger snaps

-Mix the pumpkin, packet of instant pudding, and pumpkin pie spice together with a whisk until combined. Stir in the thawed tub of whipped topping then refrigerate for one hour before serving. Use the ginger snaps to pair with the dip!

I hollowed out a small pumpkin (again, thanks to my friend Teal for the idea) in which to serve the dip! Fun and festive...and the dip is sooooo good paired with the ginger snaps!

The second recipe has become my staple for any Fall/holiday party. I've served it at my family's Christmas gathering the past few years (as well as for Fall game nights) and people CANNOT get enough of my mulled cider! It's also very easy to make and tastes so sweet and spicy! The original recipe can be found here, although I've slightly adapted it as follows...

Spiced Mulled Cider Recipe
-1 gallon of real apple cider
-3 cinnamon sticks
-1 teaspoon whole cloves
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (optional)

-Wrap the cinnamon sticks and cloves in cheese cloth and place in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add the brown sugar.

-Pour the apple cider into the slow cooker (you probably won't be able to fit the whole gallon so just fit as much in as you can) and stir to dissolve the brown sugar.

-Heat the mixture on high until it bubbles, then turn the heat down to warm. This process usually takes a couple hours, so make sure you are preparing in advance!

-Serve with or without some spiced rum! I leave the rum next to the slow cooker and let people add it to their individual mugs as they please!

I'm telling you...people CANNOT get enough of the mulled cider or the pumpkin dip! 
Serve them at your next party and make your people happy! :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Classroom Tour: Decorations & Organization

I'm FINALLY posting a tour of my classroom! I actually snapped these pictures (with my iPhone) back in August when I was putting together my classroom. But, then school started and, well, time just slipped away! This is my blank slate...all the furniture was out in the hall so the floors could be waxed! Let's start to the right of the door and work our way around the room...

Next to the door I have a little shelf with supplies for the students to use (that shelf was free on the side of the road and I gave it a little makeover). I also have a bulletin board with some personal pictures, at which the students love to look!

To the left of the supply shelf I have a little table on which is my 'absent work' bin. Under the table are the recycling & returnable bottle bins. On the wall is my homemade 'Awesome' poster. You can see a tutorial for a similar sign, here!

This room has a serious lack of bulletin boards so I decided that I could use some Command strips to secure three inexpensive poster frames (picked up at WalMart) to the wall. This way I can easily swap out displays throughout the year in or on the poster frames.

 On the front wall I have a white board and one of two small bulletin boards...

I used my Silhouette Portrait cutting machine to cut out the letters for my bulletin boards and used inexpensive blue fabric from WalMart instead of paper for the background. I find that fabric is more durable than paper and is often far less expensive! The 'Work Hard' poster can be found here!

I made the pennant flags banner by cutting triangles out of fabric and sewing a simple straight stitch to string them together...

 In front I also keep my little personalized yard sale stool...

In the corner near the window is my desk area...I brought a shelf from home for storage and added a bulletin board, secured to the wall with more Command strips and covered in wrapping paper! I designed that poster and had it printed at Staples on foam board for $10!

 There is room for a little sitting area in front of my desk and the window so I added a comfy chair from Ikea (I also found a small inexpensive lime green rug from WalMart and added it to this area but didn't take a picture). I often stay late at school grading papers and wanted a comfy you can imagine, this chair is also very popular with my students!

In the other back corner of the room is a little table and library area. I bought the table for $1 at Goodwill and painted it before bringing it to school. The paper lanterns are from Christmas Tree Shops. They are a fun addition to this area...for some reason the boys LOVE to spin the lowest lantern!

I used painters tape to add a jumbo poster...damage free and easily removed! I ran out of tape part way through and am embarrassed to report that, four weeks later, the poster still looks like this! Ha!

 I bought the bookshelf from Target and it was originally in my living room. But, this room also suffers from a serious lack of shelving so I brought it to school to hold my collection of social studies related books and resources.

On the back wall I have another white board...on the top I put a fancier version of a fabric banner...this one has bias tape on top and double-sided pennants! 


I had a really large blank space on this wall so I used a $3 vinyl tablecloth from Christmas Tree Shops and secured it to the wall with painters tape (over which I taped bulletin board trim). I think I'll turn it into an 'AWESOME' wall where the kids can put things that are...well...awesome!
Classroom decoration ideas

We've come full circle around the room! I think the key to making the room look cohesive is to pick a few main colors to work with. In my room, lime green, hot pink, and teal blue are the colors of choice! Outside of my classroom I went a little off kilter with the colors by adding this homemade 'Hello Sunshine' sign...

I wanted people to walk by my room and be greeted with a little bit of happiness! Subsequently, one of my fellow teachers stops and yells 'Hello Sunshine' every time he passes my room! It's pretty awesome!  So, there you have it, my home away from home! To follow along with my daily shenanigans, come visit me on Instagram!

Classroom decor ideas

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Dollar Store Fall Decorations

It's Thursday so I'm 'throwing it back' to a popular past post! This post has been 'pinned' on Pinterest nearly 20,000 times! Can you believe it?! Check back next Thursday for another peek into 'The Best of Crafty Teacher Lady'! Follow along with my daily life via Instagram! I'd love to hear from you!

I'm so excited to decorate for fall! Although on a pretty tight budget, I've found creative and inexpensive ways to add touches of fall around my house, mainly by shopping at the Dollar Store, WalMart, and other bargain outlets.

Two projects I'd like to share are a candy corn votive display and a moss candle centerpiece, both have elements found at the dollar store!

Candy Corn Votive Display
Each of the three glass candle holders are from the Dollar Store as are the votive candles and the candy corn!  Simply fill each glass half way with candy, then place the votives on top. I chose to place all three glasses in a long dish, then filled the bottom with candy corn.

Moss Candle Centerpiece
 I placed a large 'apple cider' scented candle from WalMart in the center of a glass cake stand.  Around the candle I placed moss from the Dollar Store as well as pumpkins, berries, leaves, and pine cones found at Christmas Tree Shops (one bag full for $4.99).  I did find bags of faux leaves at the Dollar Store, too! In the pictures above, you can also see the pretty table runner found at Marshall's for $10!  Next up, making a wreath for the front door...stay tuned!