Saturday, March 31, 2012

bluebonnet bonanza.

I'm currently reading Anne of Green Gables as part of a workshop to update my talented and gifted hours, and one of Anne's favorite terms for anything slightly unfortunate is "tragical". I think Anne would have no problem describing this little piece of art as "tragical". And I would have to agree with her.

We were given / stole this gloriously Texan bluebonnet print, and I was so anxious to put it up on the wall, that it lived in this pre-made, un-matted, generic frame for over a year. Talk about tragical. When I saw that Michael's Craft Store was offering 70% off custom framing orders, I thought it would be the perfect time to take our little bluebonnet beauty from tragical to terrific. So, I marched myself right on up to Michael's and the sales associate JOYFULLY gave me a bid for $475, INCLUDING the 70% discount. What the WHAT?! Tragical.

But then Lady Wisdom waltzed in, and suggested I mount the print on a canvas, thus eliminating the need for me to sell a kidney so that I might be able to have our print custom framed. Tragically brilliant! Feeling heartened once more, I returned to the dreaded Michael's, with my 40% off coupon in tow, and purchased a canvas, spray adhesive, and a texturing medium (we'll get to the medium later).

Simple mathematical understanding lead me to deduce that $50 < $475, so I was a happy camper. I bought a canvas that was 2" smaller on each side than my print, with 1" sides. This would allow me to "wrap" my print around the canvas, making the print look like it had been on the canvas since Day 1.

I began by centering the canvas on the print and tracing the border of the canvas onto the print.

I wanted the corners of the print to be folded nicely and neatly onto the canvas, so I created "tabs" on the corners of the print.

The "tab" would be folded underneath one side of the print...

...thus creating a flush corner.

I then applied a very thin layer of spray adhesive to the back of the print, and used a ruler to smooth the print so that the glue did not bubble or wrinkle the print.

After several hours of drying, we were looking pretty good!

But, the print still looked like a print stuck on canvas - it was too polished for a canvas. I wanted to give the print some texture so that it would look a bit more like a painting on canvas, rather than a print glued on canvas. Know what I mean?

So, at Michael's, I grabbed a clear medium that would hold the texture of paintbrush strokes.

I applied the medium with a wide paintbrush in thin, even coats. After about 3 thin coats, the print now had some texture!

It doesn't really look like a print just stuck on a canvas anymore! What's tragical now, Anne?!

  • I didn't have to spend a fortune to give this print an updated, cleaner look.
  • All of the supplies can be found at a craft supply store - no need for specialty buys!
  • If I decide later on to add even more pizazz, I might add a frame to the canvas like Jenny did over at Little Green Notebook:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a little car clean-up.

Can we just talk about the amount of paperwork that accumulates in a car? I mean, seriously. There are maintenance receipts, insurance cards, sales information, tire checklists, inspection reports, and countless other documents all fighting tooth and nail for a happy home in the glove box. Miserable. However, since the mayhem is concealed behind a lovely closed door, I was completely guilty of just throwing any papers into the glove box before I got a chance to really see how terrible it was. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Not when you open up your glove box and see this:

How am I even supposed to FIND anything in there?! God forbid I hear the words, "License and registration, please". I would have to ask Officer Buckle for a good 15 minutes to find even my insurance card. Ridiculous.

Needing some inspiration, I headed to any girl's favorite inspiration mecca, Le Target. Whilst perusing the fantastical dollar aisle, I stumbled upon this butte.

It's an expandable file that is about 5" by 9". A perfect fit for important documents and for the glove box.
108 pennies later, it was mine.

I began the organization process by seeing what documents I had in my glove box, and then sorting those papers into like-categories. After grouping the documents, I then placed them behind their respective files.

Since the tabs were not large enough for me to write a title for the contents directly on the tabs, I decided to number the tabs and then have a "table of contents" velcroed onto the front of the file for easy reference.

For my table of contents, I used the "Wish I Were Taller" font from as well as a perfectly polka dot border from Karen Cox's TPT Store. If you haven't downloaded her free polka dot labels, you MUST! Now. I'll wait.

Now, rather than fighting for a space, like siblings on a 14 hour road trip, all of my car's paperwork is filed away and living happily ever after on top of my owner's manual!

  • This project makes maintaining car records effortless and hassle-free, plus it makes your glove box look bright and happy (a status it might have never achieved otherwise)!
  • The expandable file cost a whole $1.08. More than ramen, yes, but this little project isn't going to break the bank.
How do y'all organize your car's paperwork? Does your glove box look as sad as mine did yesterday?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

stupid chapstick.

It was a beautiful, bright, sunny Saturday. The birds were chirping, the pool was sparkling, the squirrels were frolicking. I could practically hear Sleeping Beauty serenading nature in its prime. I was happy as a little lark getting all of my weekly cleaning tasks done and getting Mr. Spouse and me reset for the week. I was just pulling out my final load of laundry from the dryer when I started seeing this.

Little grease spots EVERYWHERE.

I mean everywhere. All over my shirts, Mr. Spouse's business shirts and khakis, EV-ER-Y-WHERE. As I fluffed out each new shirt only to find more grease spots, the culprit rolled on out...

You little bugger. 

I immediately launched into the five stages of grief.
  1. Denial: It's not really that bad, you can't really see the spots. (Response: it IS really that bad - me and Mr. Spouse are going to look like we are spontaneously sweating through random pores in our bodies)
  2. Anger: How in the free world did I not see a tube of chapstick sneaking into the dryer?! (Response: much gnashing of teeth)
  3. Bargaining: Maybe this is a sign that we need to donate these clothes and enjoy the added space in our closets. (Response: I am not going to donate some clothes just because they have a stain on them.)
  4. Depression: All of our clothes are RUINED! I might as well throw out our entire wardrobe and start over. (Response: Mr. Spouse telling me to save my drama for my mama.)
  5. Acceptance: There HAS to be a way to get this stuff out. This can't be a problem that only we have. (Response: Google.)
I could practically kiss the creators of Google. No less than 42 million results were collected in response to my query. The most beneficial tutorial I found (complete with video) was this one. The overwhelmingly popular solution? Baking soda. Done and done.

So here's what I did. I laid out the shirt on my kitchen counter (you will want to be near a sink or even outside) and sprinkled a small pile of baking soda on each spot.

Using a toothbrush (or a larger cleaning brush for bigger spots), I rubbed in the baking soda to each spot. The baking soda absorbs the grease from the chapstick. As it absorbs the grease, it will start to ball-up. 

Once most of the baking soda has combined together into small balls, sweep the baking soda off of the garment into the sink.

For a second time, pour another small pile of baking soda onto each spot...

...and repeat the process of rubbing in the soda and dusting off the shirt. You want to repeat this process until the baking soda no longer balls-up. This means that the soda has absorbed all of the grease from the garment.

Next, use your normal laundry stain remover to treat the spots.

Allow the stain remover to soak for about 15 minutes and then run the garment through the laundry again.

After treating the entire load of marred laundry, the kitchen was a bit of a war zone.

After washing and drying the clothes, they came out looking pretty good!

While the spots are still there, they faded SIGNIFICANTLY. They are really only noticeable in certain lights. I am sure that if I did another round of treatment, they would be gone, but I just didn't have it in me. I'll see how I feel wearing them and then go from there.

  • I was able to use supplies I already had around the house to treat the stains.
  • I now have a solution to a problem that I'm sure will pop up again. 
  • With a little bit of elbow grease and patience, the spots really do look much better!
Have y'all ever had this problem? How did you treat the stains? Did you find something that works really well?

I hope you're proud of yourself.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

genres galore.

Some kids have Bieber fever. Other kids think if it's not made out of Lego's, the construction can't be sound. My muffins? Genres are the bee's knees. For serious. In August, our librarian happened to mention the words "realistic fiction" in passing, and they were HOOKED. These kids find almighty joy in deciding on a story's genre. Unreal.

Our first grade standards don't require a very in-depth study of genre - we introduce elements of each genre, but we don't go as deep as second and third grade - so I wasn't exactly planning on some superb genre-lovin' during our time together. But with my kids' unexpected passion, I knew I had to do something! 

To encourage the nuggets' love of genres without smothering them, I decided to create a "genre board" where I would post covers of books we read as a class in categories.

Obviously, the last thing we educators need is one more "to-do" bullet on our list. Even though this bulletin board requires consistent updates, it requires very little additional time. Here's how I manage keeping our board up to date:

When planning for the upcoming week's lessons, I also pull any read-aloud books I will be using.

After selecting the next week's books, I quickly Google each title, and print off an image of each book's cover. I then paperclip the printed image to either the cover (for paperback books) or the title page (for hardback books).

This way, as soon as we finish reading the story, we can discuss the story's genre and I can post the book cover right away.

Clearly, if I posted the cover for every single book we have ever read, our genre board would be bursting! I really try to post the covers for those books we share that really embody the characteristics of each genre. 

  • Our genre board encourages my kids' passion for genres without overwhelming them with the intricacies of each category - they simply get to have fun with them!
  • By using bright, enticing colors, our board screams "LOOK AT ME!" The kids love coming over to the board and admiring all the books we have read together!
  • Keeping our board updated and growing takes almost no additional time for me. Victory!
Do y'alls kids love genres as much as mine? How do you celebrate genres?

Monday, March 19, 2012

multi-tasking months.

Today's post will probably go completely against the organizational mold, and may even cause a couple "surely not's!" to be uttered, but here goes. When it comes to storage, multi-tasking bins are not the way to go. One tub that houses your hair dryer, freshly cut watermelon, and craft supplies is probably not the best way to contain your clutter. It's more efficient to work in categories. Have one bin that houses all of your electrical cords or all of your paint brushes, etc.  Doy.

But when we start to move away from storage and move into tools and supplies, I love me a good multi-tasking scheme. In our classroom, we are so very very lucky to have an entire wall of windows! They grant us fabulous natural lighting, a lovely view of the neighborhood, and an open, cheery feeling in our room. But without that fourth wall, our bulletin board space is a bit limited. Rather than being Mrs. Grouch about that darn sunlight joyfully filtering into my room, I just got creative with our board space!

In an effort to conserve space, I felt it might be prudent to condense our birthday board, months of the year board, and calendar supplies into one space!

I wanted this wall post to serve many purposes:
  • I needed a space to display each student's birthday.
  • I needed a place to display the months of the year in chronological order for an easy reference for the kids.
  • I wanted to use calendar supplies I already have rather than having 2 complete sets of months (one for our calendar wall and one for our birthday wall).

Here was my solution. I decided to place all of our months of the year in chronological order on one wall post.

I applied velcro (reinforced with hot glue for longevity) to the month card and the wall.

This would allow the months of the year to be posted throughout the year, like these...

...and then I could just remove the current month to post on our calendar wall.

When a month is on the calendar wall, I cover the velcro on the post with a little ladybug placeholder.

After velcroing all of the months to the wall, I then placed a cupcake with each child's name and birthdate under their respective birth month.

So let's see if this wall met my expectations:
  • I needed a space to display each student's birthday. {check}
  • I needed a place to display the months of the year in chronological order for an easy reference for the kids. {check}
  • I wanted to use calendar supplies I already have rather than having 2 complete sets of months (one for our calendar wall and one for our birthday wall). {check for cheap!}
I really love our little system. I love that the month cards serve three purposes {chronological order, birthdays, and calendar} on a single wall post.

I do plan to make one change next year, however. Within my little group this year, we had eleven {count 'em} ELEVEN birthdays within the little month of February. What are the odds?! You can imagine the time I had fitting 11 oversized cupcakes under the February card. With that in mind, I love this idea I found on Pinterest (I can't find the original source!) of putting a picture of each month's birthday kids under the birthday cards.

What a fabulous way to save space while still giving each muffin their moment in the spotlight!

  • I didn't have to buy two calendar sets to meet my needs - I am able to use one set of calendar cards to accomplish three tasks.
  • A very small space was transformed into a multi-tasking superstar!
How do y'all post your birthdays? What do your calendar boards look like?