Posts tagged ‘Erin’

January 22, 2013

My Favorite Things: Christmas Edition

Yes I know this is almost a month late, but I’ve been wanting to post about some of the fun and interesting things I got this year for Christmas. This isn’t everything, but it includes some of my favorites.

Nail Polish Gifts

My mom, now super happy that I share her love of nail polish, got me all four of the colors I requested on my wish list. From left to right, I received Beyond Cozy and Leading Lady by Essie, and Casino Royale and Goldeneye from OPI’s James Bond Line. Both of the glitter polishes are really thick- you could probably cover your nail in glitter in one coat (two at the most). I had to really thin out the polish on the brush to make it into a thin shimmer layer over a solid color. Here is what I was able to get to with the Casino Royale on all my nails and Goldeneye just barely streaked over my highlight nail (keep in mind this was several days after initial application).

Casino Royale and Goldeneye

I tried Beyond Cozy later with a purple nail polish called Marrow from Butter London, and also found myself trying to thin it down to create a toned-down shimmer. I think this thickness makes the glitter polishes more versatile because you can thin it out or use it alone as a color. Casino Royale is also nice because it is a dark berry color that can work with a variety of outfits and settings (bright colors can be a little much at work for an elementary school teacher). I love my two owl nail files, too. Thanks mom!

Owl Painting

My dad, knowing my love for owls, bought me a painting from one of the guys he works with. I don’t have a lot of decor in my apartment, especially in my bedroom. I’m thinking I’ll hang this up over my bed, but I’m trying to decide whether to risk putting a nail in the wall (I am HORRIBLE with tools) or risk it falling on my head if I use two thumbtacks. Thoughts?

AJ checking out the Russian Candy

AJ checking out the Russian Candy

Polina, my Russian exchange student from when I was in 4th grade, got me TWO awesome gifts. I usually get little decorative Russian things, but since I took the time to go to Russia, she got some other ideas. I was very excited to open my first gift which was two bags of the candy I like there (certain colors were better flavors and yellow and blue were always the best!). As soon as I opened it and rediscovered my love for this candy, I felt sad that the tea I loved there wasn’t included. BUT WAIT. There’s a second package!

Tea from Russia

Yes, this canister is FULL of Kenyan Sunrise, a delicious black tea that got me hooked on tea to begin with. I found something similar to it here, but nothing can quite beat the original. I’m so excited to have so much of it, too, because now I don’t feel so pressured to ration it (it’s not available in the US).

Owl Listography Book

My friend Erin knows I love writing and making organized lists, so she took a page from the Listography books and created a book for me with topics to fill in, including my favorites, things I wish for, and experiences I’ve had. What made this book especially fun was that she filled in the beginning of some herself so that it is fun to read, too. Here’s an example (and yes- I may go beyond one page).

Page from Owl Book

Finally, since I have not yet outgrown being a kid, I did ask for and receive this from my sister and Dan:

lego lord of the rings wii

Oh Lego games…how I love thee. I am definitely not one to play video games by myself often, so I like the co-op feature of this game (a second player can drop in and out at any point as one of your partners). I also love that Lego games are not that hard. They are long enough that you feel like you accomplished something by the end, but they are not impossible or require a high level of patience. Since Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite movies, it seemed appropriate to snatch this one up. So far it has been pretty good. The cut scenes are a little weird because they use actual dialogue from the film (most of the Lego games just do a lot of miming to convey the story), and I’ve been a little confused at how some of the easy parts of the story are hard (I got stuck for like 30 minutes trying to jump a ledge to open Moria) and some of the complicated story parts (like defeating the Balrog) take little to no effort, time, or thought. I’ve only finished the Fellowship part, though, so we’ll see how the rest goes.

Thanks to everyone for the gifts listed above. You guys rock! If you want to see the gifts I gave my closest friends and family, you can check out my own DIY Gifts post.

Advertisements
January 3, 2013

Tales of a Gift Giver: DIY Gifts for Any Occasion

Being a teacher isn’t the best way to save money on gifts, so I decided to get a little more creative this year and put a homemade aspect into a lot of my family’s gifts. Here is a rundown of my DIY gifts, and how to make them in case you get inspired ; )

For my mom….

Owl Piggy Bank

When my sister came to visit me in Tulsa, we visited Color Me Mine in Tulsa. This is a “paint your own ceramic thing” kind of place, and of course, I chose the owl. It’s actually a piggy bank, and I instructed my mom to use it to save up money for her next trip to come see me. We always end up going shopping, so I figured every time she is feeling stressed out from daily life, she can look at the equally stressed out owl and deposit change in it to save up for something fun later : )

For my sister….

book of awesome

Last Christmas, my sister gave me this book called “The Book of Awesome.” It contains short passages about the small things in life we should appreciate like driving around to see Christmas lights, finally remembering where we’ve seen someone before after staring at them forever, and playing Robin Hood with batteries in your remotes around your house (steal from the rich and give to the poor!). She not only bought the book, but also had marked it up commenting on various things, drawing illustrations, and coming up with her own Awesome things unique to us. I would randomly read it all year, and was absolutely *delighted* to find out they had released a sequel to it. I bought it, and also the holiday edition, and spent hours and hours marking each passage up and thinking up new awesome things. I was actually afraid she would buy the same thing for me, so I tried to add as much as possible and bought that holiday edition as a back up bonus gift, haha. Luckily, she got me Lego Lord of the Rings instead, so I was safe ; ) Taking a coffee table book and personalizing it for a friend or family member is quite awesome on its own, and it is an easy gift to put together.

For my dad….

IMG_3034

Confession Time: I watch a lot of “beauty gurus” on YouTube. I think I follow like 20 now??? It’s a bit ridiculous, but led to a great Christmas gift idea this year. Rachhloves posted a video a long time ago about DIY gifts, and one of them was a jar of notes. Essentially, you decorate a jar and write a bunch of notes with quotes, sayings, memories, etc. for the person to read throughout the year. Well, I am more fond of boxes so I went straight to my local Michaels and bought this basic black wooden box and some scrabble-like tiles (yes, I had the scrabble idea and assumed the store would have it- luckily it did). I spent about an hour arranging the tiles into the perfect way to state the purpose of the box and take up most of the lid. I did this while Inception was on TV, so I feel like I deserve extra points for processing the movie and putting together this gift. After the box was decorated, I just wrote all the notes- most of which are fond memories I share of growing up with my dad. I had bought a bag of randomly sized, colored paper from Michaels, too, which made the notes look a little more fancy and also had been cut down to size. I ended up making 52 so my dad can open one a week. Warning: This can be extremely fun to make and you may want to keep it for yourself by the end.

For my best friend Erin….

IMG_3035

I made Erin the same present as my dad except her box was very different. I bought a white cardboard one for her, and then spent forever cutting out quotes, cute pictures, and inspirational words to decorate the entire outside and inside walls of the box. The longest part of this project was arranging everything just so on each side of the box, especially on the top (because that has the biggest real estate and will be seen the most). I probably went through about 5 different layouts before deciding on one. This was done during the movie Elf, though, so my mind was a little more freed up than when I made my dad’s gift. Once I laid out all the magazine clippings, I painted Mod Podge ALL over the box to glue it down and create a finishing effect. It looked pretty awesome in the end. I used the same note paper to write Erin’s notes, and once again wrote 52 to make it last all year (though I did tease her that she wouldn’t be able to wait and I’d find her laying in a sea of opened notes, kind of like Monica opening all her wedding presents on Friends).

For my grandfather….

IMG_3140

My grandfather is extremely hard to shop for, so I had to enlist the help of 26 4th graders to put his gift together. We just finished reading Dear Mr. Henshaw the last week before break, and as a “final project,” each student wrote a letter to him telling about themselves and an aspect of the class. I took a picture of each student holding a “Hi Mr. Barr!” sign, too, so my grandfather could see all the cute kids who wrote the letters. I didn’t have time to do practically any editing, so the quotes from some of these letters are hilarious. For example:

“I’m ten years old. I bet you’re really old.”

“My name is Ethan. Do you like my handwriting?”

“Ms. Schrumpf teaches us a little bit too much social studies.”

“My brothers make fun of me. They tease me a lot, but life goes on.”

This was actually really easy to put together. I used a spare binder and some page protectors, had the kids paste their pictures on paper and decorate them like frames, and then stuck all the letters and pictures in the book side by side. And BAM. Present. I think if you’re a teacher, getting your class in on making a gift can be great- but only if you can tie it into a teaching objective (letter writing!). It’s a great way to share what you do with someone else!

For my brother-in-law….

grab and go popcorn

Dan is SO EASY to shop for because I can basically throw Dunkin Donuts gift cards at him and he’s ecstatic. However, Dan’s birthday is December 25th, so I run into the dreaded TWO PRESENT CONUNDRUM. Luckily, Dan and I share a love of fantasy movies, especially Lord of the Rings, that Katie isn’t really as into (and by not really into I mean doesn’t care at all). So, I made a homemade coupon in Dan’s Christmas card offering to take him to go see The Hobbit in any format (there are three ways to see it- basic, 3D, and 3D High Frame Rate) and a $10 snack budget. We went on New Year’s Day and saw the fancy 3D High Frame Rate one at the new and improved Downtown Disney Theater (I hadn’t been to the NOT Fork and Screen side in a long time and was very impressed with its multiple fancy snack bar choices and grab and go popcorn- as seen above). We’ve done movie outings together before (again-usually to the one’s Katie doesn’t care about). I know we saw Tron in IMAX 3D and some of the Harry Potter films, and it’s fun. Homemade coupons may be cheesy, but when a free movie outing is involved, they are golden.

So yes- gift giving this year was pretty awesome. I definitely had to step it up a notch to make up for the fact that I am poor, but it turned out to be really fun to put everyone’s gifts together (and go see The Hobbit!). Hope this gives you some DIY ideas for upcoming birthdays, mother’s and father’s days and the occasional anniversary : )

PS- For each of the kids in my class, I wrote a hand written card. I do this every year because I remember LOVING when a teacher wrote a heartfelt message that was unique to me. This takes me about four hours, but watching each kid read their fairly long message of encouragement, appreciation, and care is totally worth it. Plus, I always get a couple of cute notes back and I gain the trust of some of those hard to reach kids ; )