My Classroom Makeover

8.27.2011

This was the first week of school, and I am pooped. The sheer fact that this post made it up is a miracle.  Fall is the craziest time of year for elementary teachers. Endless to-do lists and twelve-hour work days can make you question your sanity for ever getting into the profession. By October things slow down, and I can breath again.  Hats off to my teacher friends with real children of their own; I don't know how you do it.

My post-school routine for the first week goes a little something like this: Trudge through the door. Drop everything I'm carrying the second I cross the threshhold. Mumble "hi" to husband.  Put on pajamas. Open a pint of ice cream. (A blur that involves spoon and mouth.) Sit in catatonic state staring at empty ice cream carton.

Thankfully my husband knows this about the beginning of the school year, lovingly stocks the freezer with Ben & Jerry's, and fends for himself where dinner is concerned.
BUT, my favorite part of a new year is getting my classroom ready for a set of fresh faces. I have a disability when it comes to teaching...If my classroom doesn't look good, I can't function. I picked out several fabrics as my inspiration, and built the the room's look around those colors.

Even though the cabinet is in the back of the room, I wanted to make it a fun spot for the kids. After I painted the wooden cabinet doors blue, I used an overhead projector to draw the US map in pencil.  I then traced the outline using a chalk paint pen. My original plan was to draw each state...that plan fell to the wayside quickly, and Missouri ended up being the only one that made it. (Though very tempted, I resisted the urge to trace Texas.)

This name tag cost me nothing to make. Yes, these are just Scrabble pieces! I used wood glue to attach to stands, and then glued the letters in place. (You better believe I added that apostrophe in...Sharpie to the rescue.)

Since my last name is Freeman, my class is nicknamed "The 5th Grade Freebeez". I found inspiration on Pinterest and ended up making a "bee hive" lantern in my classroom. I'm not thrilled with the results and almost left this pic out. (I figured if I show you everything I'm proud of, I should show you my flops too!)  I'm thinking I should have started with a yellow paper lantern and added several more layers of tissue paper. Martha Stewart may not be impressed, but 10-year olds seems to like it alright.

Our principal let us use chalk paint on our classroom doors this year. This is great and serves as kind of a management spot in the room.
Remember the "toad stools"? They found a home. My double decker hamburger used to show the steps of the writing process is on its third year. Crossing my fingers it lasts a couple more.Here's to a new school year, freshly sharpened pencils, and lots of "aha moments" for both the littles and their teachers.

DIY: Electrical Spool Stools

8.22.2011

As an elementary teacher,  I'm always spending money on my classroom in the fall. Anything I can do to save money is a must. When a friend and I walked by a pile of electrical spools sitting outside our newly rewired building, we started racking our brains for how we could use them. We came up with a plan to turn them into stools for our classroom reading nooks. Buying bean bags every couple years can get expensive, so I was definitely up for a cheaper option.  

DIY Spool Stool Instructions
1. Spray paint stool.
2. Cut circles from foam pad in varying sizes.
3. Cut fabric in circles that measure at least 4 inches bigger than the largest foam circle.
4. Stretch fabric over foam and staple to the stool. (If using a clock face as a reference, staple at 12, 3, 6, and 9 first. Then fill in staples.)
5. Trim any extra fabric with scissors. Glue decorative ribbon or trim onto fabric.
TOTAL COST: $24
                         [$8 fabric + $2 ribbon + $4 spray paint + $10 foam mattress pad]

I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. They ended up reminding me a bit of Luigi's toad stool. (Think old school Nintendo circa 1989.) I just hope they hold up to twenty-something 5th graders fighting over them (sweating on them, throwing them, licking them...This list could go on and on.) Click HERE to check out my entire classroom makeover!

Weeknight Quiche

8.17.2011

 

One of my favorite "breakfast for dinner's" is quiche. The great thing about this dish is that you usually have ingredients on hand to make one of its many variations. My husband refuses to admit he likes quiche. I secretly think he does and just wants to keep his man card, at least that's what I tell myself to explain why he's never as excited as I am about it. Tonight, I was cooking for one and had no guilt. I started with a homemade crust (which is not nearly as fancy as it sounds.) I do use a good store bought pie crust when I need to save time. Either way, quiche is an easy comfort food that's great with a light salad or soup for a weeknight dinner at home.

Antique Wingbacks Get a Modern Makeover

8.15.2011

These wingback chairs were some of the first pieces of furniture that we acquired when we moved into our house over a year ago, and they definitely set the tone for our formal living room. I had done some reupholstering myself before, but knew this was a job that called for a professional. I didn't want to have any part in ruining these chairs that had been so well preserved since the 1930's! Finding fabric and the right upholstery shop were my big tasks.
Found at a garage sale for $8. They were owned by one family since the 1930's. What a S-T-E-A-L!!
After many hours debating fabric options and shopping for the cheapest rupholstery shop around
 
I went back and forth whether the citrine chevron was too much. I decided to pair it with a more neutral wood grain/paisley fabric and white piping.  I realize that for some people the pattern is too much. (Some days shortly after the makeover I was one of those people.) Looking back, I'm so glad I bit the bullet and went for the bold fabric choice. My style tends to merge traditional elements with a modern twist. The lines of the chair are so classic, but the fabric lends a playfulness that keeps our formal living room feeling fresh. You can read more details about this project on Design*Sponge HERE.

The "Heirloom" Rug

8.09.2011

Searching for rugs, large or small, never seems to be a simple task for me. I feel like I could more easily commit to buying a new car than a new rug. (I realize this probably isn't something I should admit so freely...) After searching for weeks, I couldn't find a small rug for my kitchen. I wanted something with bold color and a low pile, but wasn't willing to delve into savings to purchase the one I really liked. After finding several rugs in budget that were just "ok", I gave up the hunt.

It turns out that the "perfect new rug" wasn't new at all.


A few months ago, a package came in the mail from my aunt. It was full of textiles and nic naks that belonged to my grandma. My sweet "Mawmaw" passed away this fall leaving behind a wealth of memories and indelible impressions on anyone who knew her, especially her grand kids. Her stories were as colorful as her personality.

Three DIY Art Ideas

8.03.2011

One of the first things I wanted to do when we bought our house was to cover our blank walls with unique art and decor. I didn't realize that most of the art I loved was way out of my budget. I didn't want the same prints from Target or Bed Bath and Beyond that I'd seen a hundred times, as much as I love other things from both those stores. Thankfully, Etsy provides us with a plethora of options these days. But sometimes even a $30 print from Etsy feels like too much. I've found a few thrifty ways to imitate the look I want for less.

1. Print something you find online on your favorite wrapping or srcapbook paper.
I knew I wanted silhouettes and just couldn't seem to create my own, no matter how hard I tried. I searched online and found two free images that I loved. I scrounged around the house and found some of my favorite wrapping paper left over from Christmas. Ridiculous as it may sound, I was actually excited that I'd get to see this paper all year. If I was a wrapping paper, I'd hope to look like this one. When you love the print of paper that much, you should just find a way to use it in decor, right?
I used card stock as my guide and cut the wrapping paper to a standard sheet size. Feeding it through the printer can be tricky. Just keep trying, and eventually it works.
 

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