Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ellis Family Recap 2010

Wordle: Ellis 2010 Recap

Last year I created a wordle and loved how easy it was to express all the highlights of the year without the usual long letter that I end up writing. I decided that for 2010 I would do the same thing. So here is the recap of the Ellis Family in 2010. To create your own Wordle click this link. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Themed Birthday Party

A Cinema Sign

My daughter celebrated her 5th birthday in September! I threw her a movie themed birthday. I borrowed a large projector screen and projector, which we connected to our own surround sound DVD player. The featured movie was the newest Tinkerbell Movie.
 We set up the basement with maroon curtains borrowed from my mom's house. This helped with the theme and darkened the room.
 I set up a table with rope lights for the kids to purchase candy, popcorn, drinks, and bags of licorice with chocolate covered raisins.
 Each item they purchased had a price in tickets. The ticket price was written in both number form and visually displayed with the tickets themselves. This helped for the really little kids that couldn't read the price. 

 The popcorn bags were just paper lunch sacks cut with pinking shears, my mom's idea. Then I found these popcorn coasters in the 50 cent Michaels store bin. I glued them on the bags ahead of time.
 When the guests arrived, their movie ticket and the tickets they used to buy the food and drink items were in an envelope. The envelopes were in alphabetical order for my kids to hand out to the guests at the Will Call counter.
 Once it was time to start the movie showing, I had the kids purchase their movie snacks and line up in the stairwell until the ticket taker was ready. My friend, Nicole, loaned me the dark black curtains at the bottom of the stairs so that the kids couldn't see the theater until it was time. They entered through the curtain, handed off their movie ticket and then found a seat in the theater.
 I purchased large posters of different movies. I had Staples print these for me in black and white. They were quite large and only cost me $1.99 each poster. The picture frame on the left was purchased at Micheals. I created scrapbook like letters of my daughter's name and slid them into the frame.

 The kids had such a great time. My favorite part was when the kids continually said, "this is the best party I've ever been too". That was icing on the cake. My son now wants to know what movie we will be showing for his party. I haven't told him that I don't throw the same party twice. We might have to use Family Fun's movie night as a drive-in them for him.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back To School...already

With back to school coming before we know it, the kids and I decided to get started and get organized.
To start the school year off right, we put together little gift baskets for the teachers. I found most all the items at Target in their dollar isle. Some items I did get at Staples. Little things, like stamps, sticky notes, highlighters, etc, will be a great gift to kick start the school year. I know I'd love something this thoughtful from one of my students. The kids are thrilled to show and share their enthusiasm through these gifts. They still think we should add some candy of some kind too. So sweet!

We've been gradually gathering school supply items as we find them on sale. As we bought the items we needed somewhere to keep track of them until school starts. So, I photocopies their school supply lists so that we'd have one to take to the store with us and stapled the other to a paper grocery sack. As we buy the items we check them off and add them to their individual bags. This is working out great and the kids feel so organized and are beginning to get excited for school. Now for the sales: Staples has huge savings. I signed up to get their weekly ads, which come via email a day or two prior to when they hit the Sunday newspaper shelves. This is awesome, because then I know what penny sales will be available on Sunday morning. One week, the kids got packs of 8 pencils for a penny a pack and packs of 4 glue sticks for a penny. They each were able to get two of each, which went into their paper sacks. Now the new penny sale deal at Staples usually have to be bought with other items that total $5, but so far I just look for other supplies that are a great buy to reach to that price.
You can see inside the bag that we've started to collect our supplies. I think it would be neat to add the price next to the item to see how great a shopper I am when all the supplies are purchased. I might start competing with myself year after year to get a better deal.

FYI: As a teacher, Staples will allow 25 items to be purchased. This is a great way for teachers to stock up their classrooms with supplies for pennies, literally. I always keep certain things on hand and then when a student asks for something, I don't think twice to hand over something that may have cost so little. I love great deals!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Teacher Appreciation-Movie Night

Thanks to many of the ideas found online for teacher appreciation week, I selected the movie night option for my kids to give to their teachers. Secrets of a Super Mommy had this idea and it was fantastic! The teachers loved it so much. My son's teacher mentioned that he carried it around to show to all the other teachers. As a teacher myself, I would have loved getting this gift myself.
I found the popcorn containers at the local Goodwill, but I also saw them at Michaels craft store. Inside the red envelope I used a regular card and copied the saying from Secrets of a Super Mommy and inserted a dollar bill.The kids put mini candy bars, licorice, and popcorn inside the containers. Check out the other ideas here that I debated on using. I realized that I will probably save those other ideas for next year. Maybe even do two gifts during that special week. This same blog has some great last day of school party ideas. I can't wait to plan one for this year. Thanks for the great inspiration Secrets of a Super Mommy!

A Mad Hatter Tea Party

Every year, I host a special tea party or a brunch for local alumnae and active members of my sorority. This year I chose the theme of a Mad Hatter Tea Party.
Here is the invitation:

I designed the invite to look like a card from a deck and had them printed on white card stock. They turned out so cute!

Centerpieces were cupcakes made by a local senior in High School as part of her senior project. She hand made roses white and sprayed them red to look like they were painted red. Some cupcakes had a small heart card in them. I also made fruit kabobs to go with the cupcake centerpieces. Since this was a tea party theme, I also put tea pots and tea cups out. I made tags that said, "eat me" and "drink me" for the tables and tea cups. With the bright pink table linens it looked so festive.
I used hot pink and lime green as accent colors too. I love all the bright color!
Of course, festive hats were needed too. This is a picture of me and the hat I purchased at the local Herbergers store. Being that the Kentucky Derby was that same weekend, hats were easy to find and on sale. What a great party it turned out to be!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Money Management

It is that time in all of our lives, I know, that we tighten our financial belts. Well, if not in your household, it is for sure in mine. After another struggle to make ends meet this winter and the trials of financial burden continuing this spring, my husband and I decided to step out in our faith and be vigilant in tightening our financial expenses and to learn how to use a budget. It isn't like we've never learned how to budget, it is just a task difficult to accomplish when only one of our incomes stays the same on a monthly basis. My husband owns his own business and with the construction world in our state taking a hit, we decided there really is no better time to be better with our finances.

So, our first step today really involved sitting down and taking an honest look at our finances. We wrote down all the bills that I take care of out of our personal account and then we did the same for our business. This gave us a good idea of a couple things. First, we now have a better understanding of what we have to bring in to cover our everyday expenses. Secondly, it helped us see what areas we could maybe cut back.

Since I've been using Quickbooks for a few years for personal and business balancing, I looked back and averaged some of our expenses like food, eating out, entertainment, fuel, etc. for 2008, 2009 and then for the last three months. I used these monthly averages to figure out how much would be reasonable for us in the expenses categories. Now comes the hard part for us...living within our budgeted means.

I started to research on the web how to really attack my finances. Thanks to Money Saving Mom's website and the 31 Days to a Better Budget she ran in March, I got a ton of ideas and some great links.

If you are interested in checking out some of the links that I find useful here they are:
Crown Money Map ~ This link is really great for a step by step process through managing your finances and working towards financial freedom, including electronic forms to fill out. Plus percentages of your income to guide spending in specific categories. Love it!
Oprah Debt Management  ~ Oprah is known for great ideas. This site has great stuff to help eliminate debt. Great forms to fill out too!

I hope this might help you in your finances. I'll continue to post my success!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paper Eggs

I came across a project that I thought I'd try with the kids. Thanks for the inspiration, This Is The Year blog! I love the end result. I will say, that my daughter had more fun cutting the strips of paper for me than gluing them on. This blog site has all the details if you want to try them! Another twist on this idea comes from Creative Attempts. Check out that blog to see how she did the same project, but with tissue paper. Super cute!

Paper Cutter Extraordinaire

Seasonal Decor Blocks

I continually eye these decorative blocks when out shopping. I have no need for restraint now. I made my own. Thanks to Whimsi Kel and the great lists of letters and words, this project really was quite simple.

 I decided to use house paint as my block colors so that they would match my house during all seasons. I started with a base color of Sherwin Williams: Aqua Sphere. I painted five sides and when they were dry I painted the sixth sides. I then watered down some Weathered Shingle (tan color) from Sherwin Williams and brushed it on and wiped it off after a few seconds to get the antiqued look. Once this coat was dry, I cut letters out with my Cricut and used Modge Podge matte finish to secure them to the blocks. I had two extra blocks that I had painted and decided I'd cut out shapes to stick on them. Overall, I am thrilled with the turn out! I can't wait to use them all year round! Thanks Whimsi Kel for this great idea!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Rocket Launcher

I continually find that I am surrounded by so many people that bless my life. My dad is one of those people. He drove down to surprise us all and hang out for a bit. Of course hanging out turned into project time. I always have something that I want to work on. This particular project seemed a bit more overwhelming, so I was happy to have my dad jump right in on making the rocket launcher. My inspiration came from my summer 2009 trip to Houston, TX. More specifically, Johnson Space Center (NASA). After a week long educators only workshop on how to include Math and Science activities, NASA style, into my teaching I came home with more ideas than I could implement. As this school year seems to be zooming past and my aviation/NASA unit coming up, I figured what better time than the present to get this project underway. So here are the details.

The Parts:

The Parts Expert:

The Supervisor:

The Finished Rocket Launcher:

$32.67 for Home Depot Rocket Launcher Parts
20 minutes of quality time with my dad and my son putting the parts together
2 trials with no major injuries (launching over 30 feet in the air!)
hours of future entertainment: PRICELESS!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Quick Quilted Pillows

I decided to try my hand at recovering a few pillows. The original pillows had a zipper so I just stitched the quilted pillow so that the zipper could continue to be used. It worked and so I went with it! I love fleur de lis prints and had bought so much of it. I am just so happy that I found another great use for it!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Recipe Box

I have tried many times to organize my recipes. I have bought the books that the cards can fit in, but ran out of room to add plastic protectors. I have the three-ring binder with clippings and printed favorites. I often run from one to the next and then to all the cookbooks I have for the one I'm looking for and can't remember which book or binder it is in. I decided that I want to put all my recipes in one place, so I made this box. It will take me some time to get the recipes that aren't on cards yet ready for the box, but I know in the end I'll be happy to have one place to go looking for those recipes. I used the idea from Sister's Stuff to get me started. Great inspiration!
I added the conversion chart to a card in the back of the box so I could have a quick reference. Just another way to keep organized in 2010.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wild Wild West Party

My son wanted a western themed birthday party so of course I did my best to pull that theme together. In the picture, is my kids with grandma Dee testing out the saddle.

I visited a few websites first. Family Fun and Radmacher blog had some cute ideas.
HP had a ton of free printable ideas with the western theme in mind:
Western printable kit  (includes customizable boot invites, signs, games, and more)
Western scrapabook kit (borders, backgrounds, journal blocks, and tags)

Wild West Party set 1 (mustache stickers, wanted posters, stage coach invites, and more)
Wild West Party set 2 (iron on, badges, invites, and more)

HP has other themed party, decorations, tags, etc. Here is the link I found to be filled with amazing printables!
HP Creative Studio   Enjoy!

Now back to the party I put together.I found sheriff badges, gold coins, and mini decks of cards to put in the gift bags. Thanks to my mom for putting all these together and having the idea for the napkin rings. Most of my decor items came from her too. Thanks mom!

The napkins were bandannas with small western hats glued to hair ties for napkin rings.

Centerpieces were straw cowboy hats, red bandannas, candles with ripped bandannas tied around them, along with horseshoes. Here's my birthday cowboy next to one of them.

Under my welcome sign, I hung the buckaroos sign, which I made with my cricut. In doorways, we hung strings with boots, badges, cactus', etc. These we found at the local Party America store.

Outside, we set up a cowboy fire pit, saddle, and roping station. To our luck it snowed during the party so we came in and out a lot, but I did have extra gloves handy and hats too. The steer head on the hay bale was a fun game while kids sat on the saddle.

You can see in the background some rope with strips of bandannas strung across the front of the house. This was an easy way to make garland. I had extra strips so I hung a few on the wreath that was still on my front door and added a few horse shoes too.

Here's the homemade stand with the saddle. Thanks to my father-in-law for doing so much of the outdoor work. He brought the hay bales too.I couldn't have thrown the party together without all the help.

The menu:
Cowboy cocoa, root beer, hot dogs, buns, chili, cheese, calico beans, ribs, chips, and veggies.
For dessert, we made smores over the fire pit outside instead of cake! It was a huge hit because the kids could make them.

It was a successful 6th birthday party and a ton of fun for me to put together. Good thing my daughter's next party isn't until September.  This will give me some planning time.