Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Teacher Gift Ideas

Christmas has been stressing me out a little bit.  I've been doing my best to plan ahead for who I need to shop for and possible things I want to give to or make for them, but I can't seem to get my thoughts organized enough or any of the details hammered out.  I've decided that I'm just destined to be one of those people that gets everything done at the last minute.  Finishing up presents at 2am, here I come! 

One thing I have started thinking about in advance is a present for my son's teacher.  He is in preschool and he has a teacher that he just adores.  Since I work full-time, I have only met her on a couple of occasions but I can see that the kids really love her and the munchkin is always sharing new things that he has learned in class.  So, I can definitely tell that she is making a difference and I want to show my gratitude for the impact she has on Chris' life.

I started my search for the perfect present online with sites such as Etsy to get some ideas and came across cute mugs, personalized key chains, and apple-themed gifts.  All seemed like great options but after checking out some sites that had comments from teachers about gifts they actually liked to receive, I realized that although parents think these types of presents are cute, teachers don't actually need 20 mugs that say #1 Teacher.  Though what they do often defines them, they are real people that enjoy useful gifts (not necessarily related to their job). 

So, if you are in the same boat as I am, struggling to find the perfect gift that expresses your gratitude to a teacher that is helping to shape your child's life, I've come up with some ideas for you.

Gift Cards

It's not a very personal gift, but from what I've read, teachers really enjoy getting them.  Target, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon would be safe bets but if you know they love coffee or really enjoy watching movies, then Starbucks or Fandango would likely be appreciated.  Since I don't know my son's teacher very well, I am planning to opt for a gift card to Target (probably in the $10-15 range). 
Burt's Bees Head to Toe Kit

Beauty Products

Most women enjoy receiving beauty or spa products such as lotions or lip balms, as long as they are quality products.  If you are going this route, I highly recommend skipping the dollar store and Big Lots.  There are some great brands that won't cost you an arm and a leg and if you're able to shop around a little, you can probably find a great deal.  All natural products are really popular and Burt's Bees has quality goods at drugstore prices.  This cute little gift set (pictured above) is only $9.99 and it comes with some great essentials like body lotion, body wash and a lip balm.  It's a great sampler for someone who isn't familiar with their products as well.  Bath and Bodyworks is another great source for favorite bath products. 
Mossimo Neck Warmer

Trendy Winter Accessories

Scarves always make a lovely gift and from what other women have told me, you can never have too many.  Infinity scarves and neckwarmers are really in this year, so you can find them in a wide range of colors and prices at just about any retailer that sells clothing.  Or, if you can crocher or knit, an even better idea would be to make one yourself.  I'm planning to grab my 40% off coupon and head on over to JoAnn's or Michaels to find the perfect soft and cozy yarn to make a stylish infinity scarf.  It will be perfect for those chilly days on the playground.

I also want to include a small gift that will serve as a momento of my son, so I'm planning to include a little handmade bookmark with his name (and possibly a picture).  It will hardly take up any space and what teacher wouldn't find a bookmark handy?  This will be a fun, easy and quick craft to do with the kiddo and I'll definitely share pictures when it's complete.

Hope this short list of gift ideas for teachers helps you with some of your shopping.  If you have any ideas, I would love to hear about them.  The upcoming festivities will be keeping me pretty busy but I'm hoping to post more gift ideas and crafts that will get you in the holiday spirit!

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone had a great Halloween. I was a bit worried that all the rainy weather we've been having in the Pacific Northwest would put a damper on ours but we got lucky with on a few sprinkles while the kids were out trick-or-treating.
Playing with remote control car before trick-or-treating

This was only Chris' second time trick-or-treating and we thought it might be more fun for him to go with other kids. So we went to a friend's house that have two boys close to his age. He enjoyed it but started to get tired towards the end. The bucket was getting too heavy, so I had to carry that for him when he wasn't running up to the door to get his candy and then his head got too hot, so I had to carry his helmet for a while too.  Trick-or-treating is apparently some hard work!  He of course got a huge amount of candy that we'll have to parse out over the next couple weeks.
Look how well the reflectors work!

As you can see, he went as a fireman this year.  He said he also wanted to be a garbage man and a train engineer but I told him he could only be one thing.  There's always next year.  Hope your Halloween had more treats than tricks!


National Breast Cancer Awareness


October is national breast cancer awareness month and it is a very meaningful cause to me because my mother-in-law has battled and won breast cancer twice now.  She is one of the bravest people I know and we are so proud of her for overcoming this terrible disease.  Having to go through the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation is not only physically hard on you, but it can really cause a financial strain as well. 
My mother-in-law was fortunate enough to get some help from the pharmaceutical companies to offset the costs of the expensive medications that she needed and I pitched in with donations from jewelry sales.  While I feel that donations to cancer research are important so that we can one day find a cure, I think it is equally important to support the people that are currently fighting the battle of their lives.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Easy Pumpkin Muffins

This fall I've really fallen in love with pumpkin when it comes to baking.  Up until recently, the only time I've eaten pumpkin was in the form of pumpkin pie, which I've never really been a fan of because store bought pumpkin pie can't really compete against apple pie (especially homemade apple pie) and those two pies are traditionally enjoyed around Thanksgiving.  I've really enjoyed getting back into baking - it's so satisfying to create something from scratch and have it turn out so delicious and it's fun to share the end result with friends and family.  Since so many others were raving about pumpkin recipes, I decided I should add it to my repertoire too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rice Box Fun

Now that fall is upon us and the weather is cooling down, are you struggling to find indoor activities for your kids?  One simple way I have found to keep my little guy entertained while we're trying to cook or do dishes is a rice box.  I fondly remember these from when I was in kindergarten.  The one at school was large enough to fit several kids around it, but since this one is just for Chris, I found an old plastic storage bin we're no longer using and rounded up all of our nearly empty bags of rice that had been sitting around for who knows how long. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Cozy Crocheted Cowl

It's been a few weeks, a whole month in fact, since I posted about my work in progress but I've finally finished it.  It didn't take me a whole month to complete - I've just been a bit lazy about taking a picture of it.  The nice thing about crochet projects is that you can stop anywhere in the process and pick it right back up whenever you have time.  I probably never sat and continuously worked on this project for more than 20 minutes at a time.

I think my work in progress picture showed you what it looked like when it was about a third of the way done and as promised, this is what the completed cowl looks like and I'll explain how it was made.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall for Handmade Fashion

Pun intended.  Now that autumn is here, I can definitely feel a crisp chill in the air as we're heading out the door in the mornings.  While I am quite sad to see the warm weather go, I am pretty excited about all the fun accessories that fall brings.  If your closet could use some accessory freshening (and whose couldn't?) then a great place to start looking is Etsy.  I could spend hours looking at all the amazing handmade items that sellers have to offer!

There are a few fall/winter accessories that I really want to add to my collection and I found some shops that carry items that are totally fashionable and completely cozy for the coming months.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fun Fall Fashion

Now that fall has officially arrived, I have an overwhelming desire to buy some cozy accessories and snuggly sweaters. I didn't pay too much attention to what was trending in the summer months but for some reason, I've caught the fall fashion bug. I'm completely addicted to the fashion section on Pinterest with all their chunky infinity scarves, skinny jeans, and stylish boots. If you asked me a month ago what I thought of skinny jeans, I would have said they're awful and hardly anyone can pull them off but ask me now and I say paired with some riding boots, you've got the makings of a great ensemble.

I found this great site called Polyvore where you can see what fashions are currently trending as well as create your own collage of fabulous clothes.  They supply you with a huge selection of items to choose from and you put together the perfect ensemble.  I tried it for the first time and this is what I came up with:

Casual Fall

Ralph lauren blue label
$505 - harrods.com

Via spiga shoes

Debenhams leather shoulder bag
$47 - debenhams.com

Pretty simple and laid back but definitely better than my usual weekend uniform of a t-shirt and jeans.  Give it a try and show me what you think makes an awesome outfit. And if you want to see what other styles I'm loving you can find me at CBTMichelle.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Single Serving Brownie in the Microwave

These recipes have been floating around the web for a while but I just came upon it the other day and I can't tell you how excited I was at the prospect of not only making a single serving of brownie, but making it in less than five minutes!  You read that right - a delicious chocolately treat in under five minutes! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Love is Spoken Here Printable

Although we've been in our house for over 7 years now, my walls are still pretty bare.  So, I've been trying to find great quotes and pictures that I could use to decorate all this white space.  I've seen the Love is Spoken Here quote all around the web and I really like it because it represents the kind of home that we're creating for our family.  Everyday we are showing each other how we care for the other and we say "I love you" at least once a day.  Affection is generally not scarce in this household.

My love for this quote and my eagerness to create something of my own to hang on my wall led me to make a printable.  And since love only grows when you share it, I am making this available to anyone else who would like a lovely quote to adorn their walls as a sweet reminder of the importance of caring words.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Trip in Pictures

My little family and I are savoring the last bits of summer and last weekend we took a much needed break from the usual weekend chores by going on our last trip of the summer to Portland.  The weather was beautiful with highs in the eighties but mornings and evenings were feeling cool and crisp - a sure sign that fall is on the way.  We had a lot of fun, exploring new things like the TriMet Max Light Rail and a beautiful park located near our hotel.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Day of School

Yesterday was a big milestone day for my little guy – his first day of preschool!  I can’t believe how quickly this day has come and I think I’m still in a bit of denial that I’m the mother of a preschooler.  But, nonetheless, we’re very excited.  The hubby and I have been trying to get the munchkin prepared and excited about the idea of starting school.  I think he’s really looking forward to it but he’s not easily excitable, kind of like my husband. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

104 Days Until Christmas

Every year I promise myself that I'm going to be more prepared for the holidays.  This time I won't be stressed out.  This year I won't have nights where I'm staying up until 2:00 in the morning trying to finish up a last minute present. 

The problem is that I never start thinking about the holidays early enough.  It's still summertime but a recent walk through the holiday aisle at Costco made me think, hey, I need to start thinking about getting ready for Christmas.  It drives my husband crazy that retailers pressure us into thinking about holidays two seasons in advance.  "Halloween isn't even here and they've got the Christmas decorations out already?!" he said to me. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sugar Spot Banana Muffins

Lately, weekend mornings where it is just me and Chris at home has found me in the kitchen baking.  It's something I haven't done for the past few years because chasing after an active toddler has kept me too busy, but now that the munchkin can play independently and happens to enjoy helping out in the kitchen, I'm having a good time trying out some new recipes.  This time, Matt was going for an early morning hike to enjoy our wonderful summer weather before it succumbs to the chilly fall days.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Work in Progress: Crocheted Cowl

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend.  I certainly did but these three day weekends always have a way of flying by, don't they?  We capped ours off with a picnic lunch at the lake and a barbecued dinner.  Thankfully we are still enjoying some summer weather here in the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Industrial Chic Necklace DIY

This is a statement necklace that is actually Anthro-inspired and you can see their version here.  This is a bold accessory that incorporates silver chain with stainless steel washers.  I've been wanting to try making some hardware store jewelry and when I got the inspiration for this piece, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  It was very different from any other necklaces I've made in the past but it ended up being very fun and inexpensive. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Bedroom Makeover

This past weekend was really busy but very exciting at the same time because Christopher got a bedroom makeover.  It's still a work in progress, but it is dramatically different than it was before and there's a lot of fun things in store for this little boy's room.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

10 Things You Should Know About Me

If we're going to be online friends, or even if we're already friends in real life, there's some random and yes, kind of weird, facts you should know about me.  I'm not normal, this I know and the list below is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that make me, me.  But, if you don't know me or want to know me better, it's a good starting point.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Maple-Walnut Apple Crisp the Healthy Way

I am, and always have been, a dessert kind of girl.  Sugary snacks are a big weakness, but right now, the hubby and I are committed to losing weight and packing on some muscle, so sweet treats are pretty much off limits for us.  I'll admit it, it's kind of a downer.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Handmade Card and Gift Card Holder

Nothing tells someone you care about them like giving them a handmade card, unless of course, it is accompanied by a handmade gift.  Papercrafting can be a lot of fun, but with all the different tools, machines, and embellishments out there, it's sometimes difficult to know where to begin.  I sometimes get overwhelmed by all the products that are made for card making and scrapbooking!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roundup: Free Printables

All-in-one Letter/Envelope printable by Just Something I Made (link below)

I've been a little obsessed with printables lately, so I've been scouring the web to find the best free printables around.  There are a ton of fabulous ones out there but I've narrowed my list to cards that would be great for different occasions. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Healthy Banana Bread Baked with the Kiddo

Looking for ways to spend quality time with your kids?  Why not start in the kitchen?  There are ways that kids can help in the kitchen, even as toddlers.  My son is now 4, so I'm not sure if he still qualifies as a toddler, but he's been helping his dad cook for at least the past year.  He has his own step stool that we bring out so he can reach the countertops to help crack eggs, mix the batter, or sprinkle on the spices. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blueberry Picking and a Camp Fire

Summer has definitely hit the Northwest as it was over 90 degrees on Saturday with not a cloud in the sky.  While it's been nice, we've been trying to get outdoors as much as possible and find fun activities to do with the munchkin.  This was the first weekend within the past month that we didn't have any real plans, so we decided to visit a local farm to do some berry picking - blueberry picking that is.  It sure seems like we've been going to a lot of farms this summer, like the time we went here and then here.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Handmade Autumn Wreath

I still feel like summer is just starting - maybe because the nice weather always arrives late here in the Pacific Northwest.  However, I have noticed that the craft stores are starting to get their fall decorations on the shelves so I thought I'd share an autumn craft for those already looking ahead.

When my mother-in-law Cathie came to visit last October, she brought some arts and crafts to do with Chris along with some project ideas that tied into the season.  Her crafting with our son was actually the start of other craft projects that we've found to do with Christopher.  Cathie lives in sunny Southern California (which is where hubby is originally from) and unfortunately she isn't able to visit as often as we'd like, so whenever she's here, we really cherish the time together.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Polymer Clay Pendant

My favorite craft, by far, is jewelry making because the sky is the limit as far as what you can make.  You can do something as simple as looping a single bead on a chain and you end up with a beautiful necklace or you can weave hundreds of beads together to be make a really intricate piece.  I tend to lean towards more simplistic beauty when it comes to jewelry and I love necklaces with a cute little pendant. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Farm Campout

This past weekend, we took the munchkin for his first camping trip at a local farm.  I know it sounds kind of weird that we were camping at a farm, but it was an organized event that was part of the Great American Backyard Campout.  For those that don't know about it, it is a sponsored event where families can come to roast hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire pit, play games and enjoy a night under the stars for a small fee.  All we had to do was bring our tent and sleeping gear and they provided everything that was needed for the activities and dinner.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lemon Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Welcome to my first DIY!  It's a very simple one to help ease me into creating tutorials but I hope you like it. 

I love the idea of handmade bath products because you can customize them to your liking, you know exactly what is going into them, and you can often save a lot of money compared to store bought products.  Handmade sugar scrubs are a great spa product that I think of as being kind of luxurious because its definitely not a part of my daily routine (or even my weekly routine for that matter) and I think most of us consider it to be kind of a pampering item. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weekend Getaway to Portland

My husband and I don't have any big vacations planned for this summer, but we definitely feel the need to get away sometimes, so we've planned a few little weekend trips to Portland, Oregon.  We stayed overnight there a couple of weekends ago and the weather was absolutely gorgeous!  We had a great time with the munchkin, eating at delicious dining spots and exploring all the splendor that the area has to offer. 

We love taking trips to the Portland area because it's only a two and a half hour drive away and we've found a lot of family friendly activities to do there.  And who can pass up the tax-free shopping?  It's like there's a sale everywhere you go!  We always do some advance planning for certain stores that we want to hit up while we're down there.  Though we did buy a few things during this trip, the main events were a trip to the Oregon Zoo and berry picking at a local farm.

Monday, July 16, 2012


This is the start of something that I hope will be a space for me to share my creative adventures, my fun and sometimes crazy family life, and the joys and challenges of being a mom.  As a full-time working mother, it's often hard to balance time with family and pursuing my hobbies.  But I think it's important to nurture my creative side and I want my son to experience the satisfaction of making things with his own two hands as he grows up.  I'm always trying to come up with ways that we can craft together and any successes I have, I will definitely share.