Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pinterest Inspired

I'm slightly addicted to Pinterest.

Over the summer, I didn't spend much time on it, and you can tell, since I haven't blogged about any crafty projects lately. However, recently, I upgraded to a fancy new Droid, and now I can "pin" on the go from my phone.

Last week, I came across this project:

I thought it looked like an easy project to crank out in a day, and I had all of the supplies on hand, so I set out to replicate it. There weren't clear directions with the pin, so I made them up as I went.

First, I found an almost-empty box in the pantry. It turns out this box was the perfect size for the finished product.


Then, I created a template on construction paper to give the sides a little jazz.  I traced it onto the box and used an Exacto knife to cut it.


Next, I traced the template onto white cardstock to cover the box, and then I traced it onto scrapbook paper. I cut the scrapbook paper slightly smaller than the cardstock, so the cardstock would leave a white boarder. I also traced the sides of the box onto the paper.


After gluing the paper onto the box (I used a hot glue gun for the cardstock and a glue stick for the scrapbook paper), this is what I had:


I fiddled around making a tab pattern. I'm not crazy about how the tabs turned out, so I would probably do something different the next time. I gathered up my greeting cards that I had on hand, and filed them away into the finished product.


Any suggestions on how to do the tabs differently? What crafty projects have you been working on?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Our front door

One of my goals for this year is to keep something on our front door all the time. I think it makes our house feel more welcoming. Plus, it gives me a project to do every month and a half or so when I change out the door hanging. 


The best of today's project was it's cost. It was CHEAP. Here are the materials I bought, all from Wal-mart.


1 grapevine wreath: $2.50
1 bunch of silk hydrangea: $3
1 bunch of silk roses: $.94
1 bunch of silk honeysuckle: $.94


Total cost: $7.38


(I also used a glue gun and a stick, which I already had on hand. Also, I didn't use all of the flowers, so I saved them for another project.)


The second best part of today's project was the time it took to complete. Literally, in three minutes it was hanging on my door!


Here's the finished project:




Happy crafting!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The easiest donuts you'll ever make

Yesterday kicked off my spring break. I celebrated by getting up at the same time I normally do and making some donuts.


I saw the idea on Pinterest, and I thought, "Heck, I can do that."


So I did.


Ingredients
1 tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Vegetable oil
4 tbs butter
Cinnamon sugar
















Directions

  1. Remove the biscuits from the tube and cut out the center using a cookie cutter or other round object. (I improvised and used a shot glass.) Save the middles, because they make the perfect bite-sized donuts. 
  2. Fill a large skillet with about half of an inch of vegetable oil. Heat until it is nearly boiling. Place the donuts carefully into the oil using tongs. 
  3. Use the tongs to check the undersides of the donuts. After a few minutes, they will turn golden brown. At this point, carefully flip each of the donuts over. 
  4. After the bottom is golden brown, remove the donuts from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Allow the oil to drip off. When they are cool to the touch, brush them with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Be sure to sprinkle the top and bottom of the donuts.
  5. Voila! Enjoy. Store the leftovers in an airtight container, and they'll keep for a few days. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Bucket List

Before the movie The Bucket List ever hit the big screen, my good friend Deb encouraged me to make a list of things I wanted to do before I died. My list has grown and evolved since my pre-college days. It's even underwent a name change to become my official "Bucket List" instead of "50 Things To Do Before I Die" list. (Someone once asked me what I happened when I achieved all 50 things. Would I just stop trying new things? I decided to change the name so I didn't limit myself.)

Here are some items from my Bucket List. Some have been accomplished; some are a work in progress.
  • Visit all 7 continents (I've been to four.)
  • Run a 5k (I did three last summer. Excited to do more this year.)
  • Sew a quilt (See "The sewing machine is not to be feared." This one may take a while.)
  • Lie in the street and watch a traffic light turn (You know, like they do in The Notebook? I'm fairly certain my college roommates thought I went off the deep in when I laid in the middle of Neal Avenue in college, but they all joined me. It's actually pretty fascinating. I recommend it.)
  • Swim with manatees (What can I say? I love manatees.)
Anyway, my list goes on. I love the thrill of trying something new and having a list to guide me. I'm a list maker, I guess. One item has eluded me to this point, but it's perhaps one of the greatest items on my list. Sit down. Brace yourself. This is perhaps my greatest endeavor. 

Become a contestant on Jeopardy.

My motives are selfish. I think Alex Trebek is hot.


Haha. Just kidding. Alex has nothing to do with it. In fact, I much prefer Will Ferrell as Alex in the Saturday Night Live Jeopardy spoof instead.

My quest to become a Jeopardy contestant started in junior high. I would grab a piece of scratch paper and play along with the contestants, keeping track of my score as I went. Of course, I would always wager everything in Final Jeopardy, because let's be honest, I had nothing to lose. Does this make me a nerd? Absolutely. Do I lose any sleep at night? Hell no. We all have our things. Mine happens to be being a geek. I'm ok with it.

From time to time, I've even gotten serious enough about my Jeopardy odyssey to take the online contestant test. The test is a series of 50 questions, which you have 15 seconds each to answer. You do not have to answer in question form. At the end of the test, you have no idea how you did. You must score at least 50% to be considered. If you score that high, then your name is put into a bank of names for one year, and if the stars align in your favor, then you are contacted to audition for the show.

A few weeks ago, I registered again for the online test. I spent some time conditioning... you know, reading random Wikipedia articles, playing along with Jeopardy, normal stuff like that.

Imagine my dismay when I realized that the online test was scheduled for 9pm on the same night as a Young Farmers meeting when I would be at school. (Don't let the name fool you; "Young Farmers" are in fact not "young." They are middle-aged men who meet in my ag room twice a month during the winter and have educational programs. They line up their speakers, but I also attend as one of my job responsibilities.)

The irony in this is that the Young Farmers are not exactly a group one would consider to be intellectual, Jeopardy-like material.

I was at a moral crossroads. Shaking hands with Alex Trebek is a dream. How could I take the test and also be engaged in the meeting? I didn't know what to do.

Earlier the day I was scheduled to take the test, I mentioned to a couple of my students that my life could be changing forever that day. I expected to be mocked and laughed at, as high school students typically do. (Side note, do not pity me. I lash right back at them with a strong dose of sarcasm.) Instead, they thought my goal was the most awesome thing they'd heard all month. They became interested in helping me achieve it. And so, a plan was devised.

Four of the students attended the meeting that night. I sat in the back of the room with them as the Young Farmers moved through their business meeting. Exactly 15 minutes before I needed to log on to take the test, one of them discreetly handed me a laptop. I nonchalantly logged on and waited for the timer to tick down, signaling the beginning of the test. Things were moving in my favor. The meeting was wrapped up. At 8:50, it adjourned, and the Young Farmers started clearing out of my classroom. It was just me and my students.

At exactly 9pm, the test began. It was intense. I pounded my foot on the ground, as I thought of answers, and they cheered me on. There was yelling, there was screaming, there were groans at questions missed.

At the end of the test, everyone let out a collective sigh of relief.

We talk about goals a lot in class. I encourage them to set goals for FFA, for college, for life. We discuss how they can reach those goals and who can help them reach them. While trying to reach my Bucket List goal of becoming a Jeopardy contestant, I realized an important lesson firsthand: if we don't verbalize our goals to others, they are just wishes. My students helped me work toward one of my goals. Their encouragement was priceless.

Now, I wait for the results. What are the odds of becoming a Jeopardy contestant? Probably just a tad better than winning the Mega Millions. What will I do in the meantime? Continue adding to my Bucket List.

Friday, February 24, 2012

FFA Week

This week is National FFA Week. FFA is an organization that changes lives. I know, because it changed mine.


It was this time of year 11 years ago when I zipped up the blue and gold jacket for the first time. My ag teacher, like I'm sure he had done many times before and many times since, had talked me into participating in the FFA Creed Contest. I thought it was just a speaking contest, but I've realized since that it was a public testimony of my commitment to an incredible organization and a kick-start to a passion of America's most important industry: agriculture. Five simple paragraphs would change my life forever. 




As I zipped up that stiff corduroy jacket, straight from the shipping box, I had no idea what would lie ahead of me. Even if I would have, I probably wouldn't have believed it. Over the next four years, I gained a wealth of knowledge about the world around me, but more importantly, about myself. I entered FFA as a shy, young girl, unsure of who she was or where she was going. I left with self-confidence that I carry with me today and an understanding of who I am, what I stand for, and what I want to accomplish in life. Not every club can offer you that, but FFA is more than a club; it's a family who cares for you, encourages you, supports you, and pushes you to be your best. 


Every day, I have the opportunity to give back to an organization that gave me so much, including an opportunity to meet my husband (but that's a story for another time), by teaching amazing young men and women and pushing them to succeed personally and professionally through their involvement in FFA. As FFA Week comes to a close, I am humbled to be a part of something so much bigger than you or me.


Happy FFA Week.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Simple Welcome Plaque

I've been seeing all of these cute Valentine's wreaths on Pinterest, but I haven't being feeling all that motivated to try one. Nonetheless, I have been thinking our front door needs a little somethin', somethin'. I was cleaning the garage the other day, when I found these 1/8in plywood pieces I had cut down for another project. I had a pinkish colored spray paint, so I figured I could do something with them. I was right!




The best part of this project is that I had everything I needed on hand. After spray painting the plywood, I picked out a lighter pink sheet of scrapbook paper and some white cardstock. I freehanded the biggest heart, and then I traced it on the white paper and trimmed it smaller. I repeated the process with the third heart. I glued the three together and onto the plywood with a glue stick. I pulled out the white letters from my scrapbook goodies, and I glued them to the plywood with a glue stick also. I put a couple layers of Modge Podge over the whole thing. The white ribbon was in my scrap drawer, and I put it on the back with my trusty glue gun. I also glued a strip of scrap felt on the back at the bottom, so when the wind blew, the plywood didn't knock on the door.


Up went a wreath hanger on the door. On went the plaque. Project finished!

What I've Been Up To

I've been super-busy at school the last two weeks. 'Tis the season for contests, award evaluations, and community service projects. These are the things that teachers outside of the ag and FFA world don't understand, but they're things I love about my job.


My week started out with some cool topics in class. I said I love all the other stuff, but the classroom is pretty cool too. Fresh out of college, one of my biggest mentors told me, "There is absolutely no substitute for good classroom instruction." I'll be honest, some days I slack more than I should, but I try to follow his advice and be prepared for my classes each day. 


The first period of the day is Environmental Systems Management. Right now, we are exploring soil conservation. For my non-ag friends, there are four main factors that affect how fast soil erodes: climatic influences (rain, wind, etc.), slope and terrain of the soil, vegetative cover (grass, plants, shrubs, trees), and soil types. The students broke into groups and designed their own experiments to test one of the factors. We started by walking through the scientific method, and the rest of the week has been spent conducting trials. In my own opinion, students learn so much better when they're in control. It's fun watching them grasp the concepts and see how it can play out in real life.


After the juniors leave, I get a bunch of sophomores for Animal Science and Technology. With 16 kids, it's my biggest class of the day. Last week, we learned about different types of animal feeds. On Tuesday, thanks to my wonderful husband who collected feed samples from the farm for me while I was at a FFA contest, we did a "what the heck is it" feed challenge. We passed around 18 different feedstuffs, feeds, and minerals, and the kids made observations about them and tried to identify them. Not all of them smelled pretty, like the distiller's grain, which is a by-product of beer production, so it was fun to see some of their reactions. Nutrition is one of my favorite units to teach. 


Next up are my fun seniors. I like each grade level, because they're all different. I enjoy the seniors, because they're almost adults ready to go out in the world, but they're still looking for guidance. We tend to get off task more than my other classes, but we have a lot of great conversations about life. The senior class is Ag Business Management. We're studying personal finance now, like banking accounts and paychecks. They ask some great questions. Most of these kids have jobs on their family farms, so they never see a pay stub. When discussing taxes today, they were floored that so much of their earnings go straight out in taxes. Yep, welcome to the real world.


11 squirrelly freshmen hit the door next. The first-level course I teach is Ag, Food, and Natural Resources, which is a survey of all sorts of topics in agriculture. Most of these kids don't live on a farm, which makes conversations interesting. We've been investigating basic principles of animal science, such as gender terminology. This week, as I held up a very obvious picture of a bull (an intact, male in the cattle species), I nearly lost it when a student said, "Wow! Check out the uterus on that cow!" I very delicately tried to explain that a uterus is actually internal, so you wouldn't be able to see it in a picture, and that wasn't really a female. The uterus he was referring to was a large, noticeable set of testicles. I maintained my composure to the best of my ability while suggesting that he go home and have a conversation with his parents. I'm glad he's in health class this quarter.


My students frustrate the heck out of me some times, annoy me to wits end other times, but at the end of the day, they're a good group of young men and women, and I'm glad the classroom is fun for me and hopefully for them.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yarn Covered Bottles... TBD

I'm calling this post "TBD," because my opinion of this latest project is to be determined. Actually, I pretty much like it, but it's just so different than anything else I have in my house, so it will take me a little while to get used to it. Here's what I'm talking about:


These babies cost me a whopping $6.17 to make. That includes three spools of yarn, which still have a bunch left on them. I had a glue gun and glue sticks, so I'm not counting that as an expense, and I just hacked the twigs off of a tree in our woods.


The project was actually pretty simple. I saw the idea on Pinterest, but I couldn't find a tutorial, so I made it up as I went. First, I started with some empty, clean beer bottles. (Disclaimer, we are not alcoholics. We just rarely empty our recycling.)




Next, I hot glued the end of the yarn to the bottom of the bottle. I did the first few this way, and they took me about 20 minutes a piece. Then, I switched to starting at the top of the bottle, and I cut my time to 10 minutes a piece. It is definitely much easier to start at the top. 




As you go, wrap the yard around the bottle. Keep the yarn pulled tight, and you'll only need glue at the top and at the bottom. I used a couple of different methods. One of them was to hold the yard in place and spin the bottle around it. As I got more efficient, I started wrapping the yarn around the bottle three or four times, and then pushing it toward the yarn that was already wrapped, instead of going one row at a time. 




Voila! Here are some of the finished products. These were my first few. I got better as I went. 




I placed them on the top of our entertainment center and cut some twigs from a tree in our woods. I experimented with spray painting the twigs, but I liked them like this better. I may throw some polyurethane on them to make them glossy. 




Most of my living room is cream and burgundy, so I'd like to tie some red into the bottles, but I haven't quite decided how yet. Perhaps some flowers.


So, there you have it. Bottles. Yarn. Hot glue. Life is good.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hello, cute magnets.

I didn’t even need Pinterest for inspiration on this one! (Though I’m sure it’s on there somewhere!) These magnets took 20 minutes top from the time I started until they were hanging on the fridge with dry Modge Podge.
 
Spray paint clothespins any color you’d like.

Place magnetic strip on the back. (I used the kind that already has adhesive, but I put a couple of drops of hot glue for extra durability.)


Place the magnet on the backside of scrapbook or other cute paper and trace. I used scraps, because it takes so little paper. Cut out the traced shape.

Cover the side of the clothespin that does not have the magnet with Modge Podge, and place your paper on it. Cover the front paper with more Modge Podge. Pardon my sausage fingers. 

Allow to dry.

Marvel in their simplistic beauty and functionality.






Making a house a home... part 2

Earlier this week, I blogged about making a house a home. I talked about my desire to have everything perfectly decorated and cozy.


And then I cleaned.


What a difference sprucing up the house with some elbow grease makes! I like to keep a clean house anyway, but there's nothing like the smell and feel of pristine floors and a scrubbed shower. I make an effort to spot clean every other day or so, but a good deep clean does wonders.


This week I tried some new recipes for supper, too.


It's not rocket science, but good, wholesome food is almost comforting. I love that Greg and I sit down for supper almost every night. We set the table, we have a meal (even if it's leftovers), we pray, and we talk about our day. It's just plain nice.


So, maybe having a "home" doesn't need to cost a fortune. Why not start with the simple stuff?

Three Classroom Tools That Make My Life Easier

I posted these pictures on my Facebook page at the beginning of the school year, but I thought I'd add them here, too. As we start the second semester, I'm reminded how much easier these make my life!


Each student has a popsicle stick with his or her name on it. The back has a magnet, so it sticks to the dry erase board. All students are "absent" until they move their sticks to the "present" section. Craft sticks: $2.48. Button magnets: $3.97. Making my life and a sub's life easier when it comes to attendance: priceless.


Weekly objectives and homework assignments.
 Behold the power of electrical tape and a dry erase board.


Happy teaching!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Making a house a home

I did a quick Google search for "making a house a home." Lately, I've been almost restless. I have this innate desire to have a perfect, Leave it to Beaver type house. Of course, my current addiction to Pinterest does little to help. 




We've lived in our home for a year and a half now. I'm really proud of how Greg and I have worked together to fix little things here and there and make it just what we want it to be. Yet, I feel like I should be doing more. 


As I Googled, blog after blog of Do-It-Yourself and home improvements came up. However, it was the fifth website that caught my attention, from www.bible.org. It was an article titled, the Influential Woman: Making a House a Home


While I didn't completely agree with every aspect of the article, I did agree with the timeless passage from Proverbs 31:10-12:


A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.


Perhaps making a house a home isn't about having it decorated to a t, immaculately cleaned, or perfectly presented. At the end of the day, a house filled with love is a home. This year, I'm going to attempt to be more like the Proverbs 31 woman. 

But, I'm still not giving up Pinterest. :) 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year... Time to Reflect

The family gatherings have come and gone. The Christmas tree has been taken down. I'm mentally preparing myself to return to school tomorrow. Yes, the holidays have passed. Now, it's time to look ahead. 


I love the start of a new year. There's so much potential. Anything can happen. We're all granted a fresh start. 


I usually make resolutions, only to forget about them. I remembered earlier today that I blogged about my New Year's resolutions in 2011. I looked back at them and was pleasantly surprised to see that I'd kept most of them. Nonetheless, I decided this year to keep it simple.


Our message at church yesterday was based around three simple principles: forgive, forget, and forge ahead. (You can watch the message at www.crossroadswired.com) If I am to live a better life, I must remember this concept. 


Forgive others, forget about the past, and forge ahead.


It's going to be a great year.