Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pretty Poppy

Not only did I find keys at the Powell Street Market, but I also found a piece of art that I loved.  A local artist had a little tent with some great, colorful pieces.  Laurie and I walked by soon after arriving and loved what we saw.  We wanted to see what else there was to offer, so we didn't get anything at first.

Throughout the day, Laurie had decided that she really wanted one of the pieces for above her couch.  So the last stop we made was back to Susie's tent.  I was looking at all of the pieces again and kept saying how much I loved them.  Laurie was still a little nervous about the price since her piece was pretty big.  Finally I said, "I'll buy this one if you buy that one".  She said "OK" but then was still swaying.  Susie said to me, "I'll give you $5 off" and I was sold.  That five somehow translated to $10 when it came time to pay.  I'm not complaining!

So I came home with a great painting, from a local artist, and purchased at a reasonable price.  Yeah... I had no idea where I was going to put it.  I just knew I liked it.  That's not generally how I work, but apparently last Saturday I was struck by a little whimsy and a sudden case to impulsively buy art.

I don't tend to be someone who is "moved" by art, but for whatever reason I loved this piece.

It's very hard to see in the picture, but it's a mix of paper (tissue paper maybe?) and paints and has LOTS of texture to it.

Luckily, I got it home and my husband liked it too! :)  (Phew!)
It just makes me happy.  And after trying out a few places, I found the perfect place to hang it.

It now has a home above the bookcase at the top of the stairs.


Ok, there are clean clothes hanging over the banister.  Whatever... just keeping it real! :)
So now every day I get to walk past it.  It just makes me happy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Workbooks for Kiddos

That's right.  I AM a teacher and I did use the "w" word.  *gasp*  Ok, now that we're all over that... let's move on to my fun post!  I am all about using the multiple intelligences when teaching/learning.  I am all about using hands on experiences and manipulatives.  I am all about differentiated instruction and meeting the kid where he or she is at.  I am all about exploring, seeing, hearing, and doing while learning.  However, we live in a pencil and paper kind of world.  While all those things are great (and if you know what I'm talking about by all that teacher-ese, then you also know from this blog that I do those things), sometimes you just have to use worksheets and workbooks.  It's how kids have to show what they've learned in the classroom.  Even though there is a huge swing to try to get rid of or use less pen and paper activities, it is still there.  Plus, it's the real world too.  Think how many adult jobs have to show what they know by "writing a report" or doing some sort of pen and paper work.  I think people (ok, probably teachers), sometimes get on their high horse about workbooks and worksheets and forget the reality of the situation.  (Now, mind you, I don't think using only worksheets is a good idea either.  I'm just saying you can't throw them out the window completely!  Balance! They are not evil.)

All that to say... Little Man and I do workbooks as one way to learn and reach our goals.  Lucky for me, he L-O-V-E-S them!!  We don't do them every day.  Actually, we don't even necessarily do them every other day.  We do them very randomly, but I try to do them at least once a week.

Ok.  Sorry.  I thought I was off my preaching and ready to show you a book, but I have my own soap box I need to stand on for a minute.  It drives me cuh-razy that parents out there don't know and realize they have to work with their kids.  It's utterly confusing to me how someone can think, "I send my kid to preschool.  They'll teach them everything they need to know."  Really?  Really?  You have no idea how many kids I have tutored simply because mom and dad did nothing with them at home.  Yes, preschool will teach them things.  Yes, they will learn in Kindergarten.  Yes, that is what school is for, but you also have to put some work in here people!!!  ((kindly steps off soap box))

Back to the point of this (all over the place) post...
I thought I'd share with you some workbooks that we use and that I, as a teacher, think are good.  The following is one of those books.

I started teaching Little Man how to use and hold a scissors correctly soon after he turned 3.  I wanted him going into preschool with at least a basic knowledge of what was going on.  It is one of his favorite things to do now.  And honestly, sometimes he cuts better as a 3 (now 4) year old than some of my first graders did.  I started with just a piece a paper and worked on actually getting it cut.  This is much harder than you think.  Then I drew a line on on a piece of construction paper and had him try to cut along the line.  K eventually bought us this book.  It's awesome.  If you have a 3 year old, I recommend it.  (or a 4 year old.  or a 5 year old that still has problems cutting.)  It's great for fine motor skills and it progresses along nicely.

It starts off just having you follow a path with a pencil or crayon.
There are a few pages like this.

Then it moves on to tracing lines.  Again, there are a few pages like this and each page gets progressively harder.

From there you move on to tracing and coloring shapes.

Then comes the cutting.  This book is made for classroom use as well, so there are activities back to back.  I copied all of the pages that needed cutting, as to not cut the back side at the same time.  This also allowed me to copy it multiple times if there was a page that Little Man was struggling with.

Cutting getting a little harder...

Moving on to cutting shapes.  You also have to color each shape a different color, which is another good skill to be practicing.

I cut the directions out and taped them on a piece of construction paper, and then taped the shapes on to the construction paper and dated it.  That way, if K wanted to save it she could, but also she could see how he did as well.

Lastly, you had to use all the skills together--trace, color, cut out a shape and then glue.

It has 48 reproducible, easy to tear out pages and can be purchased for $7 on Amazon, or $5.50 here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Keys, Keys, Keys

Go on a little journey with me for a minute...

Almost a year ago exactly I went to a local street market with my friend Laurie.  It was so fun.  There were crafts, antiques, jewelry, food, and some junk.  I bought a few things that day.  One of the things I bought was a skeleton key.  I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I knew I liked it and wanted to start collecting similar keys to make some sort of display.

Side note... going to that street market and buying items to refurbish (which I've yet to do), things to decorate with, and unique little finds actually is what prompted me to start the blog in the first place.  I was inspired and ready to share all my craftiness.  Aren't you glad I went? :)

Shortly after I found that key is when the Pottery Barn keys went on sale.  I fell in love and wanted them!
You may remember that they were on my Christmas wish list.  Well, my dear cousin Erica bought them for me!  Isn't she sweet!  They make me oh so happy.

The only problem was, that I thought we were going to be moving.  Our house was on the market at the time and I was envisioning them in some office with a framed map that Michael loves.  Or maybe in some pseudo library.  Then... we took the house off the market... and the keys sat, waiting patiently for their day to shine.

Well, the day has come my friends.... the day has come!  (and no, we didn't move into a house with an office or library).

Remember from the "house tour" posts that I didn't really like those flower paintings above my entertainment center?
I sat on the couch one day thinking about what I could do up there instead.  I was trying to imagine what kind of painting or art piece would work.  I was racking my brain and then all of the sudden it hit me... THE KEYS!!!!!  In my mind I was thinking of an office or whatever, but then I thought--we are going to be here for a while longer.  I am sick of them sitting in storage waiting on "someday".  The space is as good a spot as any, so that's what I did.

The problem that I ran into was that the Pottery Barn set had seven keys.  I had one (smaller) key from the street market.  That made 8.  I started buying frames and laying  it out on my living room floor and decided I definitely needed 9 keys.  I searched high and low for a key.  I looked at craft stores, home stores, Amazon, etsy, and ebay.  I even bought one off ebay that ended up being waaaaay too small.  I was getting a little worried.  Here I had nine frames laying on my living room floor for weeks and I couldn't find a key.  I didn't want to hang them up without the key because I wanted to make sure they were laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way (i.e. colors and shapes varied).  I knew I would be going to the same local street market this year and was holding out hope that I might find one there.  Guess what?!?!  I DID!  OH HAPPY DAY!  Not only did I find one, but I found two.  So I ended up not even using the first key I bought, but that's ok.

Here's how it turned out.
(I forgot to take a picture of it all laid out on my living room floor.  Sorry.  That was step one.)

I started with the bottom middle first and worked my way up from there.
Yes, the frames are a little crooked.  I kept knocking them every time I went to hang another frame, so I just left them until the end.  They are all only hanging on one nail, so they move easily.

Then I did the two long ones on the side.
This was a little tricky, because the frames are noticeably not the same size.  I'm OK with that.  I wanted a variety of frames, and I didn't want it to look all uniform and perfect.  It does throw off the eye a little though when it gets to the big picture.  Again, that was sort of the idea-to have it be a modge podge turned art piece.  It's all the in the eye of the beholder I guess. 

After that I just added the four corners and here's the result
Do you like?  I love!

I rearranged the entire entertainment center too.

(More on some of the projects on the entertainment center later.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Seed Crafts

I love our metro parks.  I haven't done a "list 'o fun" post about them yet, but I will.  There are so many great and FREE programs to choose from--and they go YEAR ROUND.  I especially like the ones in the summer because they include things like tram rides and "creeking" (which Little Man loves).  We just went to one on seeds last week.  It was great.  They talked about where seeds come from, how they are distributed (by animals, wind, etc.), and what they need to grow.  There was a little class of sorts and then an area set up with some crafts and activities.  I took pictures of a few of the things we did.  They were simple, quick, and fun.  If you are looking for something to do with your little one that doesn't take much effort or planning, here you go...

A simple sunflower
This was made with a yellow paper plate cut into the shape of a flower.  Then the kids glued on sunflower seeds to the middle.  The people working the event taped the popsicle stick on the back.  It bothers me that they made it look so short, but what can you do? :)

A watermelon
This was made from half of a green paper plate and half of a pink paper plate.  Again, the seeds were glued on to the plate to resemble a watermelon slice.  Cute enough.

Yep... that's right.  I called it Grassman.  The kids got to decorate the little container to resemble a face.  Apparently Little Man thought it was a good idea to give him two different sized eyes... oh, and different colors too!  Ha!  Anyway, then he got to fill it with dirt 3/4 of the way full and the lady put some grass seeds in it.  Then they put a little more dirt on it.  The grass is suppose to grow in a week or so and that's the hair.  Sorta corny, but he's 4.  He thought it was cool.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guess Whaaaaat??

We got a second laptop!  Michael's very generous mom gave us some money recently, and we took some of it and bought a new laptop.  I'm very pleased to be a two laptop household again.  We haven't had very many issues with needing to share, but it's still nice not to have to worry about blogging and doing homework at the same time. :)  You should be excited too!  It means blogs for you! :)

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!

Did you miss me?  I took a little impromptu bloggy vacation.  I had no idea it was going to cause such an uproar!  I got phone calls, emails, text messages, comments... all asking if I was OK and what happened to me.  I even sent my dear friend Laurie into a brief panic.  She was on vacation and signed in and saw that I hadn't posted for a few days and thought something was terribly wrong.  Oops.  Sorry for the scare people.  I am perfectly fine.

What happened was, it came Monday night and I had absolutely nothing to write for Tuesday's blog.  I was actually a little anxious about it.  I've been trying to do a post a day until I at least got to the one year mark.  I racked my brain  to try to come up with something.  I went through my pictures to see if there was something I hadn't written about.  There really was nothing I had to share.  It's sad, but true.  So I decided I was just going to skip a day.  I was still worried about it Tuesday morning, but figured it would just have to be.  By Tuesday night I still had nothing to say and the idea of skipping another day was much easier. :) So one day led to another and I just decided in my mind I was going to take a whole week off.  I had been in somewhat of a creative funk and just needed a break.  So, that's what I did.  I took a break.

But I'm back (I think).  Thanks for being faithful readers!  Love you all!

P.S.  A big HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY to my dear friend (and college roommate) Amanda!!  You are an amazing person and friend and I am blessed to have you in my life.  I hope you have a fabulous day.  Wish I could be there to celebrate it with you!  I love you bestie!

Monday, July 19, 2010

List o' fun--Splash Pad

The Splash Pad (found in Powell next to the amphitheater where the Lollipops concerts are) is a great FREE thing to do on a hot day.  We went last week after soccer camp, and it was the perfect way to cool off.  There are a few picnic tables there, but I like to bring a lawn chair.  We did pack a lunch and eat there, which worked out great.  It can get crowded, but the kids love it!

The buckets fill up and dump randomly, which is fun for all!

crazy tunnel that sprays water

There are two "guns" that shoot water.  Obviously a BIG hit!!

Little Man's turn

There are also holes in the ground that spray water up.

Lots of fun!

They do close the splash pad for bad weather, so check on the City of Powell home page before you go.
There is a park right next to it, which is a good place to play and let the kiddos dry off.
Beware, you might get wet too!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

LUNA Protein Bars

As much as I would love to eat only "clean" food, it's just not going to happen at this point in my life.  I eat relatively healthy.  I love fruits and vegetables!  Let's be honest though, sometimes we all find ourselves in the position where we just need to grab something quick.  For me, this tends to be mid mornings when I am running Little Man all over the place.  Not only do I want something quick, but I wants something that is going to hold me until lunch time.  I have tried many go to bars (healthy and non healthy alike), and have finally found one that works.  It's the LUNA Protein Bars.

LUNA bars have been around for a while, but the protein bars are relatively new.  Luna Bars are the sister company of CLIF bars and are meant for women.

These bars are 180 calories (190 for the peanut butter one), which is similar or less than most bars out there.  However, they have 3 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein.  They are considered a "healthy" bar, so they aren't going to be as good as a candy bar, but I still like them.  My favorite is the chocolate cherry almond one and then the cookie dough one next.  Check them out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Five for Friday

I apologize ahead of time, but there will be no pictures for this post.  Mostly because I feel like being lazy.  Sorry! :)  It might bore you too.  Double sorry!  Happy Friday! :)
Remember on Saturday when I told you I got 9 teacher related magazines last week?  I've gotten 4 more in the past three days.  Will the madness ever end?

We use to have two laptops. 
One died. 
School has started for Michael. 
It's time to buy a second laptop. 
Tax write off, right? ;)

 I was given a rice cooker and a Senseo coffee pot by my boss this week.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love my bosses?  Because I love them!  I have the best job EVER!!!

I've decided to use those Pottery Barn keys I got for Christmas.  I'm in the process of doing a little switch-a-roo in the living room, but I need one more key.  I've been looking high and low, but can't seem to find what I want/need.  Anyone have an suggestions on where I could find one?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An "Air" Plant

My sister and I went shopping last weekend and stumbled upon an interesting find.  There is a new store in our mall called SHINE.  It's a mix of old or "vintage" things, along with some new or crafty type stuff.

One thing that caught our eye(s) was this interesting looking plant that was all over the store.  My sister picked one up to examine it and the lady said, "Oh, those are 'air' plants", which intrigued us even more.

It's this little ball of a thing

and you don't plant it!
You can just set it anywhere.  They had them all over the store--in bowls, on plates, in baskets, on the counter... everywhere!

We liked them so much, we both got one.
The instructions we got were to water them once a week.  You stick it under your faucet and let the water run on it.  Then you turn it over and sprinkle the water off.  Done.  It's the perfect plant for me! :)

It's slow growing, but will eventually get bigger.  Ours are only a couple of years old, but they had one in the store that was 13 years old and it was double the size of mine.  Also, it apparently blooms once a year.
I like how the ends get curly!

It's technical name (as told by the lady at the store) is xerographica... in case you wanted to try to find one. :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Biggest Loser Pizza Burgers

It's no secret, I love reality TV.  One of the shows I enjoy watching is The Biggest Loser.  It's motivating, it has a little drama, it has dramatic before and afters, and has a gaming element that is fun.

Of course, I love cooking too, and I'm trying to be healthier.  So because I have a cookbook addiction of those reasons, I have a few of the cookbooks.  Everything I've made out of them has been really good too.

One recipe that I've made quite a bit are the Pizza Burgers.  They are pretty simple and super tasty.

This recipe can be found in The Biggest Loser Family Cookbook

First, you preheat a grill to high heat.  We don't have a grill, nor do we have a place to put a grill, so I just use the George Foreman.  It works out just fine.

The line up

In a large bowl, mix 1 pound (96% lean) ground beef, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste), and 1/4 tsp salt.  

Combine well and form into four patties.
The book says to grill the burgers for about 2 minutes per side for medium rare.  Do not smash the burgers with a spatula.  I do them for about 6 to 7 minutes on the George Foreman.

A minute before they are done, put the cheese on top and let melt.

Meanwhile, spoon some (low fat, lower sodium, low sugar) marinara sauce into a microwave safe dish and microwave about 30 seconds, or until hot.  Again, the book says to place the bun halves, cut side down, on the upper grill rack for about 20 seconds.  I use the toaster! :)
Place a patty on the bun 

and then spoon about 2 tablespoons of sauce on top