Monday, December 30, 2013

A New Year & Holiday Cards

Happy (almost) New Year! Today I'm sharing the holiday cards I sent out a couple weeks ago.  I usually design my own holiday cards in Photoshop but this year I didn't have the time.  I still wanted to send out something that was personalized, however, and decided to use a card designed by Shutterfly, a site that offers a wide variety of cards and other products to choose from, most of which can be personalized with photos and fonts!

Since I don't have a hubby/kids/pets to feature on the card I decided to go through the pictures in my Instagram & Facebook accounts (Shutterfly actually allows you to easily import photos from these social media accounts directly into their card designer) and find pictures that reflect happy times from the past year! I chose a card design that would allow space for multiple photos and would fit with my 'happy memories' theme!

In case you are wondering what the pictures on the card are about, here's a recap of some of my fun memories from 2013:

-I ran my fastest 5k yet...27 minutes (and then had a stress fracture in my foot which kept me from running all!)

-I went on a SUPER fun trip to Vegas and also got to visit the Hoover Dam

-Donuts are my all time FAVORITE food and I bought the largest one possible at the Fryeburg Fair this past October

-Spent the 4th of July at Old Orchard Beach with some good friends...the beach is my 'happy place'!

-My favorite historical costume yet...a suffragette! 

The design I chose allowed for another picture to be featured on the back of the card so I put a picture of my house blanketed in snow and added a personalized message that says 'Sending lots of love from my home to yours'! There was also space on the back to write a this case it was to my grandparents who live in Quebec (my mother is from Montreal) hence the french!

I'm hoping you have a WONDERFUL NEW YEAR! I'm going to a 'stocking stuffer' New Year's Eve party where everyone going brings a stocking along with several 'stocking stuffers' to place in other people's stockings. At the end of the night, each person leaves with their stocking full of little surprises! It's quite fun! What will you be up to this New Year's Eve?

*Shutterfly offered me a discount code to use on any product of my choosing in exchange for writing about said product. All words, thoughts, and opinions, however, are entirely my own!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Candy Cane Sleigh Tutorial

Back with another gift-giving idea!  Today it's an adorable 'sleigh' made out of candy canes and chocolate!  I found the idea on this blog and decided to do a more detailed video for anyone who is all about the details (like me!).

Cand Cane Chocolate Sleigh Tutorial

What you'll need:
2 candy canes
1 Kit Kat bar
10 mini chocolate bars
40 inch piece of ribbon
Willpower (so you don't eat all the chocolate)

Here's the tutorial...enjoy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Winter Photos

This past weekend I took some family photos for a few of my friends and while we were together I asked one of them to snap some pictures of me as well! I'm turning 33 on Friday and it has been a while since I had some decent photos taken. So, we braved the 10 degree, frigid Maine weather and headed out into my back yard...

For my outfit I wanted to wear something with pattern (the black and white plaid shirt from Old Navy) paired with a pop of color...I thought the red cardigan from GAP outlet would contrast nicely with the white snow and is quite festive for the season!

I believe the necklace was from Old Navy as well. The red belt is from Forever 21!

The black skinny jeans are actually from WalMart if you can believe it! I love the fit so much I actually purchased three colors! They were only $14 each!!!

Although one of my boots is kind of 'wonky' in the picture above so you can't really get a good look, they are faux shearling lined quilted tall boots from LL Bean. I bought them last winter because I was looking for a pair of tall, waterproof, lined boots that I could slip on when traveling between the house, the car, and school! I've been very happy with them!

I'm linking up with Lindsay at The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Magnetic Matchbox Advent Calendar

Since December 1st is just around the corner, I'm re-posting one of my most popular holiday projects! This year I'm trading advent calendars with my friend Katie who has two kids.  I'm going to fill up their boxes and she's going to fill mine!  Everyday will be such a surprise!

I'm so excited to share this project!  After vainly searching for a cute, functional, and price perfect advent calendar, I decided to create my own out of matchboxes. In total, it cost me less than $10 to make!

DIY Magnetic Matchbox Advent Calendar

Each box has a magnet on the back making the refrigerator the perfect spot for my countdown to Christmas!  I also placed a magnet on a small shiny star as the topper for my advent tree!

Here's what you'll need to make your own Matchbox Advent Calendar:
-25 matchboxes (I purchased a package of 10 for $1 at the Dollar Store)
-Scrapbook papers of your choosing
-26 small self-stick magnets (one for each box and one for your star...purchased from the craft store)
-Small star ornament for the top, if you choose!
-Glue stick, scissors and/or paper cutter

For the numbers:
-1 inch paper punch
-Printable sticker paper (I purchased mine at Staples)

Cut your strips of paper slightly larger than the width your matchbox, then wrap around and glue the ends on the back.  Make sure to crease the edges as you fold the paper around the box for a crisp look. Next, peel and stick a small magnet on the back of each box. 

As for numbers, you could use glitter glue to write each number or if you have a fancy electronic paper/vinyl cutter machine, cut out your numbers with that! I designed a circle dot template with numbers in Photoshop and printed the design onto sticker paper.  You could use any word processing program to print out numbers on sticker paper, too!  I then used a 1 inch paper punch to cut out my numbers. FYI, the number '20' is a different color in the picture above because my birthday is on December 20th!

Finally, the fun part...filling each box! I've decided to ask 25 friends, family members, and coworkers to each write a message or Christmas wish for me on a slip of paper and put one in each box.  Then each morning I'll get to open a box and read a special message!

Other ideas for filling the tiny boxes include small candies, riddles or jokes, $1 dollar bills, scratch lottery tickets, pieces to a small puzzle (one piece per box),  or Christmas trivia.

Here's a great idea for how to use all those matches...
could be a nice gift from someone with a fireplace!

 Once your boxes are covered and filled, arrange them into a tree formation on your fridge!  You could also stick them in a frame backed with cork and use push-pins inside each box to secure if you want to forgo the magnets.  This would also make a great gift!

 I can't wait for December to begin!

I'm linking up to the following parties:
UndertheTableandDreaming The DIY Show OffThe Girl Creative Visit

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dress Up Box: Post Halloween Sale Goodies

This might be the most unoriginal idea out there but consider this your reminder to hit up all of those post-Halloween sales to score some great deals on dress-up goodies! Perhaps you are thinking ahead to next Halloween, but all of those accessories can also be used to put together a 'dress up box' and given as a fun, inexpensive, birthday or Christmas gift for a little one in your life!

 As a history teacher, I also find myself using accessories in my classroom to portray various historical figures or people from different time periods! I scored that sweet top hat (which is very Lincoln-esque) at Goodwill for $1! My students have fun with it, even though they give me the 'she's lost it' look whenever I walk in with my tri-cornered hat and powdered wig! 

What about you? 
Any other fun uses for all those post-Halloween sales items?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Historical Halloween Costume

I'd say I've done a nice job with my Halloween costumes in past years, and I totally love my 'Modern-Day Snow White' costume, so I had to rack my brain for something new and clever for this year...

I decided to dress as my hero, Alice Paul, a suffragette!

-A long skirt (I purchased mine at Goodwill)

-A blouse with ruffles or 'poofy' sleeves (not really a technical term but you get the idea).  I already had the blouse on hand (bought it at WalMart a few years ago)

-Black pointed boots

-A bun! Women of the 1900s era always wore their hair up...and then the chopped it into a bob during the '20s!

 -If you've got a hat, you could add one, too!

-A 'votes for women' sash!

-I made my sash out of 1 1/2 yards of cotton fabric (I would maybe get 1.75 yards if you are taller than me...which you probably are since I'm only 5 feet tall)! 

-My finished sash was about 4 inches wide and I sewed pointed ends (instead of square ends) to make it a little more stylish. I overlapped the two ends and tacked them together with my sewing machine.

-For the letters, you will need a sheet of white felt and some fabric glue

-I printed 2 inch tall VOTES FOR WOMEN letters onto regular paper and used the letters as templates for cutting out the felt. Fabric glue was used to secure the letters.

If the sewing route seems too complicated or time consuming, the easier route would be to purchase satin ribbon instead! You could even buy pre-cut letters (although I don't think they are usually 2 inches tall) and simply stick them onto the ribbon!  

This costume may not be 'sexy' in terms of the Halloween costume options sold in store, but I can't think of anything sexier than a strong, smart woman fighting for equality! :) 

(Yes, this history teacher has lost her mind!)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Free Poster Printable

I promised a free classroom poster printable at the start of this school year so this is long overdue! The good news is, this poster printable is good for all you non-teacher folk out there, too! I created a poster based on a quote by Oscar Wilde that is pretty much my personal mantra: You can never be overdressed or over educated.  I wanted something fun and brightly colored to place on the wall behind my desk at school...

Free Inpirational Quote Poster Printable for the Classroom

I took my file via flash drive to Staples and had them print the poster on foam board (they are offering a special $10 'large border' glossy print on foam board at my local Staples here in Maine). The file is sized for a 16x20 print but you can certainly print a smaller size at home, too! Download your copy here and enjoy this fabulous print!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday

Last week we had parent-teacher conferences on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon/evening so it was a really hectic, long week. The beauty of having a 4-minute commute since switching schools last year (my previous commute was 30 minutes) is that I can drive home and eat a quick dinner between school and my evening set of conferences!

Managed to snap a quick pick of my outfit (because I LOOOVE this dress) 
so I can link up with the Pleated Poppy:

Photo was taken with my phone so the quality is lacking...however, props shall be given for even having time to take said photo!  I love dresses because they are need to find things that match...just throw the dress on with a pair of heels and you're out the door! 

Snagged this lovely wrap dress on sale at Banana Republic Outlet the end of the summer.
The nude pumps are from Nine West Outlet (apparently I like outlets). I'm finding they are my go-to shoes since they pretty much match with any color (particularly the ever-so quizzical navy). 

Anyway, another busy week...but I'll be back on Saturday morning with a FREE poster printable that teachers and fashionistas alike will love! See you then!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

What I Wore Wednesday: Apple Picking Day

It's been MONTHS since I've linked up with Lindsay at The Pleated Poppy for What I Wore Wednesday!  Without further ado, here's an outfit I wore while apple picking this past weekend:

Modern Snow White Inspired Outfit Idea
I'm loving the pops of red against the royal blue cardigan from Banana Republic outlet that I picked up on sale this summer. I just purchased the striped navy and white ruffle tee last week on clearance for $6 at Old Navy (I bought a couple of colors because they are great for layering). The citron colored belt is from Forever 21 and the jeans are from American Eagle. Look closely and you can see my Alex and Ani bracelets...

I bought myself a back to school present...the 'apple of abundance' bangle which represents 'insight, wisdom, and teacher'! It was also the perfect accessory for this gorgeous day spent apple picking! 

I posted the picture on Facebook of me eating the apple (top right picture above) and got several 'Snow White' comments...must be the dark hair paired with the royal blue cardi...what do you think? Modern day Snow White?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fall Family Photo Shoot Outfit Ideas

Fall has arrived! I LOVE crisp weather, apples, pumpkins, and the beautiful changing leaves. Fall is also the perfect time to have family photos taken! As you may know, I have a Senior Portrait photography business that I run on the side, mostly in the late summer, early fall. I do take on the occasional family portrait session, however, and always get the question 'what should we wear'? Gone are the days of everyone wearing khaki bottoms and white my humble opinion, that type of 'matching' look is dated. To this end, I've created two design boards that showcase how a family or group can dress to coordinate without matching.

A good rule of thumb is to pick a couple main colors and an accent color, then mix up the patterns and textures.  In the first board, I've used a combination of blacks and grays with teal as an accent color. A nice floral or plaid print in the same color family would look great, too!

In the board below, khaki and brown are the main colors, with green as the accent. 
All of the outfits are from Old Navy or GAP (a few years ago) so they are affordable. Take items that you already have, then go buy a couple fun accessories or patterned pieces to tie everything together. 

Fall Family Photo Shoot Outfit Ideas

A variety of pattern and texture, while in the same color scheme, adds a sense of casualness that I think many people are hoping for in their family or group photos. If nothing else, choose pieces that you and your family love and feel comfortable in. Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cell Phone 'Prison' Jar

I'm not sure if you are aware of this but teenagers are pretty much obsessed with their cell phones. While it's true that I do have the occasional student who does not have a cell phone, I'd say 99% do and are glued to those little devices. It's a constant battle to teach them cell phone etiquette and convince them that there is a time and place for electronics, but class time isn't it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against technology and I do actively seek out ways to incorporate new apps, websites, and tech ideas into my teaching. I LOVE Remind 101 and so do my students, for example. However, cell phones can be HUGE distractions in the classroom setting.


I originally saw this idea on Pinterest (of course) and tried to find the original source but the link led nowhere (don't you just hate that?). So, I created my own version using a large glass cookie jar and black electrical tape for the 'bars'. The words were printed out on white paper, then cut and glued to the jar.

The jar sits on top of a file cabinet in my classroom where it is easily in view. This students actually think it's pretty funny and have said things like 'I better tell my phone to be good so it doesn't end up in prison'. Some have even voluntarily sequestered their own phones when they think they can't control themselves!

This would work well in many other social situations, too, as I know many adults who seem to have a problem putting their phones away when they should be engaging with others who are in the same room as them. My grandmother even wants me to bring the jar to our family's Christmas gathering!

What do you think? Where would you use one of these jars?

Linking Up To:

Skip To My Lou

Friday, September 6, 2013

Pretty Fabric Bunting

Inspired by Lindsay's 'scrappy bunting' at The Pleated Poppy, I thought I'd try making my own version to add some whimsy and color to my classroom decor. 

I cut a variety of rectangles that were about 1.5" by 2.5" from four different fabrics to make a small bunting. I cut a small triangle out of each piece (rather than cutting the bottoms into different shapes) because I prefer the look of uniformity. You could cut your rectangles into a variety of shapes, if that's the look you prefer!

Using a straight stitch, I started with a long 'tail' of thread and then ran each piece under the needle of my sewing machine, leaving about an inch between each rectangle. Pretty simple, really!

I've hit the ground running this year...we have a new bell schedule that's throwing everyone for a loop and requires a degree in quantum physics to figure out! :) But, it's only been a week and a half so I'm sure we'll all adjust! Hope to be back soon with more crafty ideas!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thrifting for Classroom Furniture

Guess what? I'm THRILLED to say that after being on a cart last year (and teaching in five places around the school) I've moved into a permanent room (well, permanent for this year at least)!  This means I can NEST...woo hoo! So this summer I kept my eyes peeled for some inexpensive furniture that I could use in my new digs, particularly a stool, a small round table, and some shelves. Happy to report I found all three items, and then some!

Thriftstore Budget Classroom Furniture
With a serious lack of storage in this room I wanted to find at least one shelving unit to put by the door to house the pencil sharpener, hole punch, paper, etc. I was randomly driving down a side street a couple weeks ago and passed a house with a bunch of FREE furniture on the lawn and found the perfect piece:

It was in great shape and just needed to be cleaned up.  I decided to paint over the dirty blue with my signature gray to freshen it up a bit.  Now here she sits near the entrance of the room:

Classroom Bookshelf Decor
Did I mention the shelves were FREE?!?! Can't beat that! The bulletin board on top was found for $2 at Goodwill and I used wrapping paper from Marshall's to cover the cork and add some bright color!

In the next town over we have a Goodwill bulk/pay-by-the-pound store where items from area Goodwill stores that don't sell are sent. The prices at this place are dirt cheap (and it is kind of grimy in there so 'dirt' cheap is really a good description). Around the perimeter of the store is all sorts of furniture that they are practically giving away. I was able to walk away with a small round wood table, a wooden stool, and a rectangular folding card table for a total of $1.75!!
That's right, all three pieces for a TOTAL of $1.75! I was pretty thrilled!

Here's the table and stool before I gave them a fresh coat of paint
(actually, you can see one leg of the table had been painted):

I used my favorite gray spray paint on the legs but had it color matched in a quart of satin paint at Home Depot and used a large foam roller to paint the top. I don't have very good luck trying to spray paint large surfaces so I find using a roller and 'regular' paint instead works much better!

The table came with the top and the legs but was missing the hardware to attach said legs. I purchased four washers and nuts from Home Depot for $2 and since I spent $.75 on the table, I was OK with that! It fits perfectly in one corner of my classroom which I envision
will be a place for collaborative work and creativity. 

Finally, the stool from Goodwill was in rough shape but since it was only $.25, I figured even if it fell apart down the road, it's practically free so why not buy it? I spray painted it 'watermelon' hot pink and will use it to sit in front of the class and impart my wisdom upon those little teenagers of mine! :)

I plan to post again with a full classroom tour since I've put up lots of other pretty things in my room since taking these photos! I think I'm going a bit over board since I'm so giddy to be in one space this year! But, I spend so much time at school (it's my home away from home) that it's important for me to have a space that's pretty, organized, and happy! 

And I'll be back with another FREE CLASSROOM POSTER printable, too!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Finally, A Deck!

It's been two years since moving into my newly constructed house (July 9th is my 'houseiversary') and I decided it was FINALLY time to add a deck to the backyard. My builder added a basic set of stairs upon completion of the house, which have been functional but certainly didn't allow me to fully enjoy my backyard. The deck has been a wonderful addition!
Having dealt with painting/staining my front porch, I went with composite decking for the floor boards and railings, which won't have to be maintained nearly as much as pressure-treated lumber. Next summer I will paint the sides white (where we did use pressure treated wood) and add some lattice to hide the underside of the deck.
 My friend and colleague builds decks during summer vacation and he graciously offered to lend his building expertise! I helped where I could (learned how to use a nail gun!) but he really did 98% of the labor!

I was able to score a patio set I had been eying at Target since early Spring for 50% off by waiting until mid-July to buy it (the 'Edinburgh' set by Smith & Hawken)! Apparently they had to make way for all of their 'back to school' stuff so what they had in the store for outdoor furniture was marked down. I LOOOOVE the color of pillows and umbrella!

Splurged on a grill, too, to complete my outdoor living space! I've never actually used a grill before and was really nervous about the whole propane situation...I'm happy to report that I made my first grilled meal without burning or blowing up anything! 

Now, to sit back and savor these last days of summer...