DIY Wreath

Where did I find this idea you ask?  Well PINTEREST of course!  I could, and have, spent hours days on Pinterest.

The idea originated from Teach. Craft. Love and Miss Lovie Creations.  I followed Miss Lovie Creations instructions, except that I tried to use floral wire to hold the flowers and picks in (with the intention that I can always reuse the wreath).  Don’t do that unless you’re crazy like me.  I probably will never take them off, and it was a PAIN to do that way 🙂  It worked ok for the big flowers, but the little ones were way tricky – just hot glue them.

Don’t make this now, wait for the supplies to go on sale!  I made my wreath for about $20.  It would have been double that had I not gotten all my supplies 50% off (or used a coupon) at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and Joann’s.   If you’re a teacher, check out how to get the biggest bang for your buck here.

Click the photo to go to the tutorial or to pin her Welcome Fall Wreath

Teacher Discounts at Craft Stores!

I LOVE my teacher discounts.  My town has a Joann’s, Michael’s, and a Hobby Lobby.  Here is how the teacher discounts work!

Joann’s Fabrics

The deal:

  • Free discount card for 15% off every purchase – Excludes remnants, patterns, gift cards, and previous purchases.
  • Bonus coupon for 20% off any one total purchase when you enroll or re-enroll in the program.
  • There is no requirement that it be something for your classroom.  They know we get paid way less than we deserve!
How to get it:
You can Register Online or in store.  In store, you need teacher identification (my store made me have something with a year on it.  I believe I used a pay stub) and state-issued photo ID.

The deal:

  • 15% off every purchase when you show your teacher ID *Not valid on clearance (may be other exclusions)
Here’s how I use these deals:

I try to only buy things on 50% off or more.  You can stack a sale or clearance (only at Joann’s) AND the 15% off teacher discount!  So, for example, I bought an ironing board cover for $14.99.  It was 50%, $7.49.  Then, I used my 15% off teacher discount and got it for $6.36.  I love finding the 75% off deals!

Cupcake Basics: Filling Cupcakes

Here is my trick that works AMAZINGLY well!  But, you need a juice extractor.  I tried to find one online, and they are hard to find 😦  But, my mom had two, so I just permanently borrowed one.

If you DON’T have one, Annie’s Eats (one of my favorite food bloggers) has a good post on other ways to fill cupcakes.  You can also use an apple corer like My Baking Addiction.

With no further ado, here is my trick!

Put the juice extractor in, pull it out, and out comes the cupcake!  I push the cupcake center out of the juice extractor and then can either pop it in my mouth, OR rip/cut off the bottom half, pop that in your mouth, and save the tops to go back on the cupcakes after you fill them!

I use a piping bag with a small coupler or with a injector tip or something to fill them

Then, you can frost them or top and frost them!

Super easy, if you have the right tool 🙂

Cupcake Basics: Baking Cupcakes


Glorious Treats
has some great tips on baking cupcakes!  Why reinvent the wheel?

I have also found an interesting tidbit….  Most of the times, you fill your cake papers 2/3 full and bake at 350 for about 22 minutes.  Apparently, the most rounded cupcakes (without your cupcake spilling over the edge) can be achieved by following this method:

Heat the oven to 350.  Fill 2/3 – 3/4 of the way.  Turn down to 325 when you put your cupcakes in the oven.  Bake for 23-25 minutes.   It seemed to work pretty well!  If you try it, and get different results, let me know!

Baby Shower Cupcakes

It all started with an e-mail from my co-worker… “So, I just volunteered us, and by us I really mean you to bring cupcakes for [insert Preggo’s name here] baby shower.  Please let me know what we (you) will need and I will get it to you.”  HA – I love her.

So, of course, I went to Pinterest.  I found these baby-face cupcakes and these adorable cupcake toppers.

I started off by making the Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Filling.

Then, I decorated!

For the baby-face cupcakes: I made Vanilla Buttercream, and colored it with a TINY bit of Wilton copper icing color (found at Joann’s) to make it Caucasian colored.

Then, I used a medium cookie scoop to put a dollop on top of the cupcakes.  I have a small offset spatula that I used to spread the frosting across the top.  Once the frosting is evenly distributed, use the spatula edge to smooth it over the top and around the sides.

I stuck the pacifier in the cupcake and frosting first, and then took mini-chocolate chips and carefully stuck them (upside-down) as eyes!

Now for the Cupcake Toppers!

Here is the Sure Cuts A Lot (SCUT2) file that I used to make these!  (It’s a file that I just uploaded to Dropbox.  I’ve never had ANY problems sharing files with Dropbox.  I use it all the time.)

I used my Cricut to cut these out, glued them together, hot glued toothpicks to the back, and voila!

Here’s the recipe!

Vanilla Cupcakes

Yield: 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Bake Time: 20 to 24 minutes

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin/cupcake tin with paper or foil liners.

2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sour cream, egg and egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain. DO NOT OVERMIX.

3. Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. [I preheated to 350; I lowered it to 325 when I put the cupcakes in to get a rounder top. I baked for 23 min.]  Remove the cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Yield: Enough to frost 24 cupcakes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

2 cups (16 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

1. Using the wire whisk attachment of your stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.

2. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. [I whipped WAY longer than 2 minutes]

You can store any unused buttercream on the counter in an airtight container; if you store in the refrigerator: let it come to room temperature and then give it a quick whip in the mixer before using.

(Cupcake recipe doubled from Brown Eyed Baker – originally adapted from Cook’s Illustrated; Frosting recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker)

Strawberry or Raspberry Filling

Here’s my secret… I use Junket Danish Dessert as a filling.  You can mix it up following the pie filling microwave directions, with about 1/2-1 cup of extra water, depending on how thin you want the filling.  Then, I use your favorite method to fill the cupcakes (You can use a pastry bag with a thin straight tip and inject the cupcakes if desired.)

Jungle Classroom

One thing I miss not having a classroom is decorating it.  Here was my jungle themed classroom!

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Dragonfly Work Display!
I used di-cut clothespin friends and hot glue to make clips on my wall to hold my students’ word to display!

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Word Waterfall Word Wall
I love the teacher center! If I did this again, I’d put these on cards or something – they were a pain to laminate!

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Jungle caterpillar number line!
Odds are yellow, evens are orange, fives are white. Love it!
Also, note the vines in the corner, I used beanie babies to decorate them around the room!

Calendar Time!

This has NOTHING to do with jungles.  BUT, I thought it was adorable 🙂

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Red Ribbon Week / Halloween Decoration!

My bathroom “passes.” Got these cute boy and girl robots at Michael’s. If a student wanted to use the restroom, they move down the robot. Then when the inevitable (12) student(s) asked to use the restroom, I would just point to the sign 🙂

Girls’ Crafting Day: Coasters

Here are the coaster my girlfriends and I made today! (excuse the shower curtain liner – it’s my floor liner!)

Super cheap!  The coasters were $.10 each (at Lowes)!  I bought a set of sticky felt dots for about $3.  We didn’t use much paint or mod-podge.  And I had TONS of paper (although it was an excuse to buy more…)  So it cost about $10 to make 4 sets!!! AND they are custom and ADORABLE!

Aren’t they CUTE! 🙂

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UPDATE 6/28/2012:

I made birthday gifts for my dad using photos of my family.  I cut the photos slightly smaller than the tile, put plenty of mod podge on top, and sprayed them.  Just like I did for above!

Here’s some of the tutorials I looked at:

Scrapbook Paper coasters!  This is the one I ended up following.

A few notes:

I had a hard time finding the correct spray.  I ended up buying Indoor/Outdoor clear sealant.  We’ll see how it holds up!

If using paper, don’t forget the step of mod-podge-ing on top before painting it.  The edges can curl up! (was ok on the ones I pressed down well).

Stamped Coasters – She stamped directly on the tiles.  You could do this on solid paper and then follow the tutorial above!

Lace Painted coasters