Self-portrait Saturday

Joining up with some pretty cool bloggers to take part in Self-portrait Saturday.  The idea is pretty self-explanatory.  Anyone who wants to join the sweet par-tay, should head over to the blog of Ilene, Dana or Rebecca to grab the pin.

I did a little spin off of Ilene's (hers is in the side view mirror of a car) and decided to take a photo of me in  something.  Originally, I took one that used the reflection of my car, but the dirt was a little too obvious and embarrassing.

So here's my self-portrait Saturday picture, taken while thrifting in Crookston, Minnesota.  Got a bunch of cool things that I'll share in a different post, so, for now, enjoy three of me.


With tests and final projects all looming due in the near future, I've found myself the physical need to craft and thrift (procrastination is my mistress).  This will be the first weekend in quite some time where I do not work and have no obligations, so I'm planning on finishing my history class and visiting the local thrift stores.

Wednesday was the first day of this month's four-day sale at Junk with Spunk.  I usually fall in love with about 500 things, but limit myself due to limitations of funds or storage space.  This month, I picked up this cute little guy.

Now you may find yourself wondering what he is after you stop admiring his sleek design.  Obviously, he's a dachshund.  I'm sure you've noticed the head in his hole, and perhaps, if you have eagle eyes, noticed the hole in his butt.  If you aren't sure what the springs are for in his torso, have no fear.  I have another picture.

The holes, much to my delight, are for pens!  Now, I would never put one in his head, as it makes it took as though he were maimed.  But the butt pen?  It looks like a tail...or at least that's what it's supposed to make you think.  The springs in his middle are for letters.  I originally thought of putting pictures in them, but when I tried it out, you couldn't really enjoy the pictures, so I just took some of my favorite letters out of a box and slide them into place.

Hopefully this weekend will result in a ton of more goodies to share, either thrifted or created.  Happy Friday!

Gnocchi-o and Skill-i-et

I love me some Pinterest.  I waste way too much time finding recipes, things for school, and craft projects.  Last night I decided to try my hand at this healthy dish that promised to be filled with delicious goodness. I made Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans and did my best to document the steps, what I used, and any adaptions I made.

color coordinated- item and measurement
package of Gnocchi- found at Target next to pasta
 package of diced onion (because I hate cutting it up as recommended in the original recipe)
one fresh tomato (as opposed to canned tomato with Italian Seasoning, I added basil and oregano to my fresh tomato)
small can of spinach
15 oz can of white beans
half package of mushrooms (not in the original, but I love mushrooms and will add them to anything)
Minced garlic (as opposed to cloves which are mentioned in the original recipe...this was not an intentional substitution, but rather a case of trying to remember the recipe while at the store and forgetting a few things, enough to taste)
Olive oil (tbsp and tsp, divided)
Pepper (I just used regular pepper instead of freshly ground, 1/4 tsp)
Mozzarella cheese (used about quarter cup)
Parmesan cheese (used about half of a quarter cup)
Water (1/3 cup)

Steps to go with pictures above, working left to right, row by row:
1.  Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet heated on medium
2. Add gnocchi and cook until starting to brown, took roughly 7 minutes, stir often
3. I diced the tomatoes while the gnocchi was cooking
4. Place gnocchi in bowl.  Then add 1 teaspoon olive oil and onion into pan until it starts to soften
5. Add garlic (I sprinkled very liberally) and 1/3 cup water (this is less than they recommend, feel free to use the 1/2 cup they recommend, but I thought it was almost too liquidy and had to let it sit longer than I liked...I even tried to strain some out)
6. Toss in delicious mushrooms and chop up with your stirring tool
7. Add spinach and stir, allow a minute or two
8. Add tomato and white beans
9. Stir together, add pepper, bring to simmer

10. Add gnocchi
11. Add mozzarella and Parmesan, stir
12. Cover and cook until cheese is melted and dish is bubbling. Time will depend on heat, roughly 2-3 minutes.

Blowing on the finished dish and taking my first bite.  It was delicious despite the funny look on my face in the second picture.  What you see there is some apprehension.  This took little time and is definitely something I would make again since it was so easy.  I also liked that it was vegetarian because once upon a time I counted myself amongst those awesome people.

Thoughts or questions?  Feel free to comment!

Grandma's 80th

This past weekend was my Grandma's 80th birthday so my mom, sister and I decided to drive to where she lives (roughly 3 1/2 hours away) and surprise her.  When we got to her house, we put on hats and prepared our noisemakers and sneaked into her house.  We found her sleeping in a chair, so the three of us surrounded her and started blowing our noisemakers and shouting Happy Birthday.  She woke up, look a little confused, and asked what we were doing.  When we told her that we were there for her birthday, she told us that her birthday wasn't until the following day (Saturday).  My mom just kind of looked at her and said that we knew, but wanted to be here for the entire day so we came early.

While my grandma was sleeping, my sister and I (mostly me because she came into the room late) blew up 80 balloons and tried to stash them in the closet of the room where my mom and I were sleeping and behind one of the beds.  Our plan was to put out the 80 balloons, the 80 cards that my mom's students and mine made the week before, the banner, and the birthday balloon while she took her morning bath.

Normally she gets up, we all eat breakfast, and then she will take the bath.  Much to our chagrin, my mom and I woke up around 7am so the sound of the tub running.  We looked at each other and, in the fastest, quietest way possible, grabbed the balloons from their hiding place and brought them to the kitchen, grabbed the cards and put them all over her kitchen table, and hung the what I'm sure was record time.

We were in the living room getting ready to sneak back to bed, everything finally in place, when we heard the bathroom door open.  We decided to just wait and see her reaction and I, being the kind granddaughter that I am, decided to have my camera ready to capture her reaction.

Yep.  Grandma has some pretty awesome pajamas.  I like the mixed look of surprise and slight annoyance on her face.

Her response upon seeing the floor covered in balloons was, "How is this going to work?"  Leave it to Grandma to be worried about how she was going to prepare breakfast for us and see the balloons as an inconvenience.  It took us about 40 minutes to blow them up and less than 5 minutes to deflate all of them.

Grandma loved all of our cards and read each and every one, commenting on how beautiful they were.

As we were getting ready to leave on Sunday, she commented that she had never had a birthday quite like this one.  Mission accomplished.

5 Senses Project

Below is a slideshow that I made of a 5 Senses Project I created for a science class that I have some kids in. They all were working so well and quietly on their pamphlets and I was sitting around trying to find something to do, so I decided to jazz up the project. Enjoy and feel free to comment with any questions you might have if you want to recreate the project.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Anchor Boards

Working in a middle school, sometimes I feel like I'm stuck in that awkward time between being a kid and becoming an adult. Now I obviously don't mean in the puberty sort of way, but more in the educational sense. In my mind, elementary school is that super fun time when you're a little kid and there is an art project to go along with every unit, colorful posters and sayings on the wall, and an almost unnatural love of learning. High school is much different. The classes are more structured and tailored to individual interests, a good or bad grade could affect the college you'd like to go to, and the thing you're most excited for isn't to see your teacher, but to see your friends.

Middle school is different. We still have some fun teachers and some kids still love learning, but for the most part, they're growing up, trying to decide who they are and who they can be. Because of this, as educators, we get to deal with the mood swings, the attitudes, and the weird body issues.

Now middle school is a weird place for me to be as an adult. I, like those elementary school-aged kiddos have an almost unnatural love of learning. I love bright colors and posters. I think you should transform your room as your unit changes. In short, I'm one of those annoying, over-the-top people. Luckily for most of my co-workers, they haven't had to deal with it because I'm a para and therefore do not have my own room to deck out or throngs of children to infect with my particular brand of craziness/excitement.

I do however, work with a couple of kids who are self-contained, so they have their own little workspace. Given the individual needs of the child, I will pop out an anchor board every so often and hang it in their space. I also have an amazing supervisor who lets me go crazy and change her bulletin boards and do projects with her math class. I've been pretty fortunate that I'm surrounded by people who let me throw my excitement onto bulletin boards.

Speaking of anchor boards...I love them. Anchor boards are these awesome things that you make to help illustrate a concept. You place it in your/their room in a visible spot so the student can refer to them if they're struggling and need some help.

Anchor boards, more commonly referred to as "anchor charts" can be for any subject. They're designed to work with your lesson because, more times than not, you are the one designing them. Some teachers make them with the students as they are teaching while others make them ahead of time or after the lesson. I'm one of those control freak type of people, and the kiddo I most often make them for is not interested in helping in the slightest, so I make mine at home and bring them in.

Here is an anchor board I designed for improper fractions. It has the definition, verbal explanation, and pictorial explanation. I also tried to color-coordinate the words with the part it corresponds with in the picture.


Found this super neat, and easy, tutorial over at A Beautiful Mess Blog. Her painting is super cute, here's a pic of her finished product:
So here is my attempt, from start to finish. Not nearly as cute, or good, or detailed as hers, but I'm a beginner.
1. The picture I picked up for $3 at a thrift store in town. I was thrilled to find it because it was big, cheap, and framed.
2. The supplies I used for the project. Everything was purchased at Michaels. I only ended up using two of the Helvetica stickers (2in) and one bottle of paint.
3. I cut the letters out to see where to place them. After this, I stuck them down. Then...disaster struck.
4. I misplaced a letter, so I pulled it off to readjust when I realized the stickers were pulling up the color/paper. My brain went into overdrive and I almost threw the idea and project out the window.

5. I ended up Modge Podge-ing the crap out of the picture. I think I did four layers to be safe.
6. I relayed the letters to make sure they wouldn't overlap much with where the paint had been peeled up.
7. This is the stickers on the picture.
8. Swirling the paint on the picture.
9. Spreading the paint out onto the painting.
10. Covering all the parts of the painting.
11. After I peeled the stickers off.
12. Putting one layer of Modge Podge on top of the painting to seal it.
13. Final product hanging in my room.

Reflection thoughts: I wish that I'd just Modge Podged at the beginning to save a little bit of stress and panic. I'd also maybe chose a picture with a greater variation in color. The girl at "A Beautiful Mess Blog" says she'd rather use spray paint because her letters bled a little (and so did mine). I, however, liked the way the paint looks being thicker in some areas and thinner in others, so I'd stick with paint.

This was a pretty easy and fairly cheap craft.
Picture- $3
Paint- $1
Brushes- $4 (roughly)
Letters- $6 (each)
Total- $20 (roughly)
That's the full price estimate. I had a coupon for Michaels for 20% off all regular and sale items, so my project probably cost me about $17. Not too bad for a giant picture for my wall.

Techy Chick

So I just spent twenty minutes figuring out how to add a "Pin It" button to my blog. It was supposed to be the simplest one out there, but I can be quite dense at times. Anyway, I figured it out thanks to this tutorial over at Kelsey Creates. Anyone who has a blogger and wants to add this button, should definitely head on over :)

I also decided it's about time to get a banner. Now, it's not the prettiest banner, but I made it by myself and feel that because I now have a basic understanding of what I'm doing, I'll be able to make a nicer one in the future. A special thanks to the tutorial over at Cozy Little House for teaching me how to do it.

Hunger Games

So I saw these awesome Hunger Games shoes on Etsy, but they were eighty bones and I couldn't find it in myself to dish out that kind of dough for Toms with a little bit of decoration on them.

I decided to try my hand at creating a pair for myself. I went to Target and found a pair of black fabric-covered flats on sale for about thirteen bucks. Next I went to my mecca, also known as Michaels, and bought a giant pack of fabric pens with a 40% off coupon (love Michaels' coupons). I decided that it was worth buying the kit of fifteen colors because, with the coupon, it ended up being the same price as buying the three fabric pens that I thought I needed.

I have zero artistic ability, that should be shared right away. I tend to take on artistic challenges that are above my talent level, but I generally fare well because I have patience, take my time, and plan my project out.

Now, should I get cheesy and say what the books and movie and these themed craft projects mean to me? Okay, internet, I'll share. Hunger Games...I don't even remember when I started reading them, but I remember it was three books over the course of roughly three days (the last one found, perhaps illegally, online). The books touched me in a weirdly personal and private way. When I read the books, not every one was doing it, and it was one of the first things I had done for just myself and by myself in awhile.

I saw the movie the day after it came out with the seventh grade team  that I work with. It was probably the best group to see it with, as my taste in books, and maturity level, generally match their age group.

The second time I went with one of my guy friends who is reading the books, so it was fun to have a fellow grown up's opinion on the movie and someone to help dissect the cinematography.

I haven't done anything remotely crafty in a couple of months, but when I saw those shoes, I knew I was about to get out of my funk.

They aren't perfect, but they were made by me and I love them!

I didn't use stencils or anything, but I did use a pencil to map out where the words and mockingjay would go. I guess that's my piece of advice for anyone who wants to try and create their own, use a pencil, or better yet, chalk, to plan the placement of everything on the shoes. I probably drew and erased the words about four or five times.

Anyway, here is the picture. Feel free to ooh and aww in the comments :)