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!

Skinny Chicken Spaghetti

I've tried this recipe once before and really liked it. It is a nice light meal that is quick and simple but tasty. It is filling enough, but not overly so. I love, love, love, tomatoes and I had leftover chicken from earlier this week so it was perfect for tonight's dinner.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Coconut Chicken

Tonight I decided to make myself some coconut chicken for dinner. I'd previously made this recipe that I found on Pinterest. HOWEVER, I tend to be a distracted cook at times and I was not very good at getting the chicken to cook all the way through in the pan without burning the coconut. Really, really, bad. So I googled other coconut chicken receipes to find one that was oven-baked. I don't even remember which one I found because all I was looking for was a general idea for the oven temp. and time. I found one that said 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. So that's what I tried, using this recipe. They turned out PERFECT! Cooked through, but not too dry. And the coconut was toasted, but not burnt. I'm not big on sauces most of the time, so I didn't make one, I just ate it as is. Yummy!


I've watched my mom and grandmother knit (or maybe it's crochet? I don't even know the difference- is that bad?) plenty of times. Neither of them are experts, but do a little project from time to time. My mom is a nurse midwife and will make hats for newborn babies. My grandmother loves to add some yarn to the top of kitchen towels so they can be hung on oven handles in the kitchen and give them as gifts (I only have about 10 that she's made me. To match my kitchen "theme". For each of the seasons. For Christmas. For the 4th of July. In case I want to throw a Mexican Fiesta.) I've always been interested in learning, but never had the time or strong enough desire to go about teaching myself. Then I came across this finger-knitting how-to on Pinterest. I was definitely intrigued and figured if her young children could figure it out, I could, too!

Just before my school's Spring Break I was in the craft section at WalMart and remembered my pin. I decided to go ahead and buy just one ball of yarn to try it out and see how it went. I decided on pink because, well, it's my favorite color! Besides, I'm at that age that it seems like everyone I know is having or will have a baby at some point in the near future so pink is a good color to use for something for a baby girl, right?

Once I got started, it was easy to get the hang of. I finger-knitted while watching a tv show or just laying in bed. I find it to be very relaxing to finger-knit and let my mind wander. My husband says I'm turnng into an old lady already with my "knitting".

I now have several strands that are each about 7-8 feet long. I'm probably 1/3 of the way through my yarn ball and plan on continuing. Now I just need to decide what I'm going to use it for.

Cheesy Ritz Chicken

My husband and I both love chicken, but tend to find one or two recipes that we like and repeat them over. And over. And over. So Pinterest has been a great way to change up how we prepare our chicken. Or just find new recipes to repeat until we are sick of them!

I've made this Cheesy Ritz Chicken several times now and I love, love, love it! I wasn't too sure about the sauce at first, but it's definitely what makes this dish. This isn't the best picture (taken in low light with my camera phone), but here's how mine turned out:

Crate Seats

These crate seats were one of the first things I pinned on Pinterest. I filed them away to do "some day" but little did I know "some day" would come very soon! Not long after pinning, I came across the file crates on clearance at WalMart....FOR ONLY $1 EACH!!!! I couldn't pass up a deal like that! So I bought the crates right away. I bought two red, two blue, and two pink.

I went to Home Depot to buy the plywood and took a crate in with me. They were able to cut it to the exact size I needed. The guy that cut it messed up on a few and had to re-do them, so they didn't charge me extra for the extra cuts. Even if they had, it would have only been 50 cents per cut after the first three, I think it was.

I found the fabric on sale at JoAnn Fabric. I bought 3 yards of one fabric (for the blue and red crates) and 2 yards of another fabric (for the pink crates). I used a 50% off coupon at A.C. Moore to get the stuffing. Later I found out that fabric "quarters" are the perfect size. It actually would have been a little cheaper because WalMart also had them for $1.

A few fabric cuts and nails from a nail gun later, I was finished!

Here's the first one I finished (I was so excited I had to take a picture to send to friends and post on Facebook right away!)

This is the same fabric I used for the red crates. The fabric I used for the pink crates is the same pattern but white with orange and different shades of pink for the dots.

I used the crates for seating at one of my small group tables in my 2nd grade classroom. Since then I've gotten rid of my desks so that table had to become a regular seating table with their chairs with backs. I'm still looking for a replacement table so my crate seats can be used once again! Until then, they're still used for storage and are available if a student would like to sit somewhere to read other than their table.