Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Cookies in a Jar

I'm not very good at this blogging thing, but here it goes...again. I'm using Pinterest ideas for several of my Christmas gifts this year, so maybe I'll be better at it...for a few weeks anyway!

Tonight I made Christmas cookies in a jar, from this pin. It comes from Bakerella's blog on Cowgirl Cookies. I just swapped the pink M&Ms for Christmas ones and there you go!

Here are a couple of tips if you attempt layered jar cookies or any other type of jar recipes.

I found that the easiest way to do the bottom layer (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt) was to roll up a paper towel to act as a funnel. If I just dumped stuff in, a lot of the flour stuck to the side of the jars and it wasn't nearly as "neat" as using the paper towel. I still managed to make quite a mess, as you can see! I also used the paper towel for the oats layer, but it isn't as necessary then. I did one layer at a time in all of the jars before moving on to the next layer.

When Bakerella says that you need to pack the layers in, she means you need to PACK the layers in. I used a tall spice shaker and it worked pretty well. When I got to the brown sugar layer near the top, I also used a spoon to smooth down the edges and make it look neater. I didn't use quite all the M&Ms or chocolate chips the recipe called for, but still had to really pack everything in to get it to fit.

 I put the fabric between the parts of the lid to hold it down. I also typed up directions for how to bake the cookies and will be putting a hole punch in the corner and tying them around the jars.

I made a total of 15 jars. Three of them are dark chocolate, three are peanut butter, and the rest are milk chocolate. Since most people that make these are probably doing them in bulk like I did, I'm including the amounts of each ingredient I had to buy to make 15 jars.

Flour- 2 bags (5 lb. each)
Sugar- 1 bag (5 lb.)
Brown sugar- 1 1/2 bags (2 lb. each)
M&Ms- 5 bags (1 bag for every 3 jars- a little more than that if you use the full 3/4 cup)
Chocolate chips- 5 bags (same as M&Ms)
Oats- a little over 1 (42 oz.) container

Total time: About 1 1/2- 2 hours from start to finish.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Crock pot Italian chicken spaghetti

I made this one tonight! It's a crock pot recipe, so it's super easy to throw together before work and have dinner (almost) ready when you get home. Here's my pin to the recipe. The recipe says to put the chicken, Italian dressing, and butter in first, then add the rest of the ingredients later. I didn't think just the butter was going to be enough liquid to properly cook the chicken, so I added the cream of chicken soup and chicken broth in at the beginning and just added the cream cheese for the last hour. I didn't use onion (I'm not a fan) or garlic (didn't have any), but I think it had plenty of flavor without them because of the Italian seasoning. It was definitely very yummy and easy! I used fettucine noodles instead of spaghetti noodles, which is what it looks like was used in the picture. Here's my finished product:

Bubble Up Enchilladas

Here's a really quick, easy AND yummy dinner: Bubble Up Enchilladas, here is my pin to the recipe. By the time I have the ground turkey cooked, the oven is warmed up- just throw all of the ingredients in the pan and throw it in the oven.

The "professional" picture looks much better than mine, but that's to be expected :-)

Here's my finished product before digging in:

If you use reduced fat biscuits and reduced fat cheese, it's even a Weight Watcher's recipe! This is definitely one of my favorites.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Laurie's Maternity Pictures

I'm not sure if I should publish this here or on my photography blog, but I might just have to do it both places! This morning I took maternity pictures for a former coworker of mine that is due in a month. Here are a few that were Pinterest-inspired poses:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

School Supply Cake

This year I had a student teacher for the first time ever. I really enjoyed having her in my class, so to show my appreciation for all of her work, I made a school supply cake. My inspiration came from several pins on Pinterest like this one, this one, and this one. Of course I modified them to fit what I had and what I thought would be most useful to a first year teacher. Every piece of it is reusable and it can be taken apart very easily. I ended up using:

*1 box of tissues
*1 container of disinfecting wipes
*1 container of misc. office supplies (paper clips, binder clips, and push pins)
*2 packs of pencils (24 count)
*11 packs of 8-count crayons (you could always use 24 count)
*1 pack of 10 markers
*3 sharpie markers
*1 pack of Expo markers (4)
*1 small post-it cube
*1 rubber band ball
*1 package small binder clips
*1 small stapler (also came with staple remover)
*1 hole punch
*4 glue sticks
*1 ink pad with 2 stamps
*1 package of 4 small sticker rolls
*1 wooden apple pointer
*1 pack bulletin board boarder
*2" red ribbon
*1" ABC ribbon

I started with these as my bases:

Around the tissue box, I put the packs of crayons. To get them to stick, I wrapped a piece of packing tape around the box with the sticky side facing out.

I used glue sticks on the ends because the box wasn't quite wide enough for two packs on each side. This fit pretty well. I also ended up putting three more boxes of crayons laying flat across the top of the box.

For the next layer I again used tape sticky side facing out, but this time I used two strips, one across the top and one across the bottom. I taped the pencils going all the way around- I ended up with two extra pencils out of the two packs.

For the next layer, I did the same thing around the office supply set, using markers. I added the rubber band ball and the post-it note cube on top of that. I secured the layers together with a packing tape "pillow". Around the bottom of each layer, I wrapped the boarder. I didn't cut it, just overlapped it, and used binder clips to seure it so it can still be used. 

I added some extra supplies around the cake, like the hole punch:

...the pointer with the rolls of stickers slid on it...

...the stapler, ink pad, and stamps...

...and finally the staple remover and the binder clips (going all the way around the border).

To finish it off I added ribbon across the middle of the pencils...ta da!

I think it's super cute and I'm excited to give it to my student teacher tomorrow. Next time I do one I'll have to make sure the pencils are a little straighter (it kind bothers me that they're crooked, but not enough to redo them!) and maybe come up with a middle layer that is wider or a top layer that is skinnier so there is more diffeence between the pencls and the markers. Overall, I think it was pretty successful for my first attempt!

Friday, April 20, 2012

No-Sew Pillowcase Chair Pockets

This is not something I got from Pinterest, but since I'm going to pin it when I'm finished writing this, it belongs in my Pinterest diaries. :-)

I have to admit that the idea for this came from a coworker of mine. She gathered pillowcases and had a grandparent of one of her students sew them to create seat back pockets for her. Since I am definitely not a seamstress and my mother, who loves to quilt, lives sixteen hours away, I filed her idea away that "to-do-at-some-point" part of my brain. Recently I came across one of those hand stitchers and thought that I'd be willing to spend the $11 it cost to try to make them. I found a few pillowcases at thirft stores and bought the rest from the dollar store. Not the best quality, but workable for now.

Unfortunatley, things did not go as planned. After struggling with the gadget for about 15 minutes, I gave up. As I was looking at my pile of pillowcases, I knew I couldn't just leave it. It suddenly dawned on me that I could just use safety pins to make them. So, $6 for 150 safety pins later, I almost have chair pockets for all of my students. I need to get a few more safety pins to finish the last few pockets. Once I got a few done, I was really glad I used the pins instead of sewing. They're much easier to adjust if they're just off, or if I end up with bigger or smaller chairs, or if they get stretched out after being used for awhile.

Once I go the hang of it, these took less than 5 minutes each to do. It seems like a lot of steps, but it was actually pretty easy and the kids are loving them so far!

Here's the final product:

Start with a standard pillowcase:

Turn it inside out and place it over the back of the chair you are using:

From the bottom, fold the pillowcase up to meet the top of the chair:

Take the pillowcase stright off the chair, flip the whole thing inside out, keeping it folded, and place it back over the chair:

Pull the fabric tight across the back of the chair and using large safety pins, pin each side of the pillowcase, about 1/2"-1" away from the side of the chair. If you pin too close, it will not fit back over the chair when you are finished:

Only pin the top two pins on each side (there will be four on each side total):

Take the pillowcase off the chair and lay it on a flat surface. Pin two more safety pins down each side:

My chairs get slightly wider near the seat, so I found that pinning the bottom pin a little further out toward the edge helped make it fit better:

After all the pins are in place, flip it right side out:

It is now ready to be placed back over the chair:

Great way to store library books, binders, etc. My students say that leaning against thier binder or books is actually more comfortable than leaning against the hard back of their chair:

Ta Da! A chair pocket solution that is not only cheaper than buying comercial versions (free except for the safety pins if you ask your students to send in old pillowcases!)  but also doesn't require any sewing expertise!

Fraction Kites

Fractions are one of my favorite things to teach. I found these fraction kites a few years ago and have used them each year since then. I came across them again on Pinterest and pinned them to remind myself to use them again this year. This year I decided to change it up a little bit. Instead of using the cloud to write the fraction of each color, I made bows out of two parallelograms taped together (cut out using our school's Ellison machine). On one side of the bow the students wrote the color and on the other side they wrote the fraction. I love my fraction kites!