Sunday, December 25, 2011

My own ideas, for you to steal

Decorating for Christmas growing up was always a big deal. I loved it all, but my favorite was the Christmas lights. This year, my challenge was decorating a small space. We've recently downsized so I got rid of almost all of my decorations. While the boys' room doesn't have room for a Christmas tree (which would be my preference) I still wanted them to have Christmas lights. So instead of looping them haphazardly on the bookshelves, or around the window, I decided to put them in spiral above my son's bed. I normally use only white lights, but the colored lights looked great with the grays, oranges, greens, and blues in the comforter.
All you need to do this project is a string of christmas lights, small Command Decorating Clips, and a measuring tape. First I plugged in the lights to the lamps (I bought these lamps at Walmart and they have an outlet on the base....we use them for night lights, perfect!) then I placed the first clip level with the night stand so it is to the far right of the back of the bed. I then ran the light up toward the ceiling and put another clip about a foot down from the ceiling. As you can see from the photo, the room has knotty pine boards, so I didn't have to worry about the lights being hung plumb--I just followed the lines of the boards. If you are trying this, you may want to use a level to make sure they are straight up and down, or take a measurement from a nearby wall. When placing the clips on the wall, I always put the open side of the clip facing the outside of the spiral so that the tension keeps the lights from falling out of the clip. The next clip to go up was the top, left corner; the same distance from the ceiling as the previous hook. Once the hook was in place, I gently tugged on the lights, and placed them over the hook.

I know Command suggest waiting after placing their product on the wall, but because the lights weigh so little, as soon as the hook was up, I hung the lights. The lower-left corner hook was level with the first hook I put on the right side, but when placing lights on the inside spiral I measured 7 inches in. I continued this all the way to the center. When I got to the center, I still had Christmas lights left over, so I just wrapped them back around again.

This sounds much more complicated than it really is. It only took me about 10 minutes to do the entire wall. Best part is, that the Command strips allow me to take down the lights after the holidays without any damage to the walls. But we like it so much, the lights may stay up well into the new year!

Ideas Implemented from Pintrest

I'm a new convert to the website Pintrest. I love it! I'm naturally visual anyway, so to organize my favorite sites by the photos is perfect for me. I'm enjoyed finding sites that have activities to do with my preschooler! So for my first post in over a year, I'm going to highlight some of these! Enjoy.

From The Crafting Chicks I found how to make Angry Bird Cupcakes. I made these for my hubby's 40th Birthday back in November. Its weird how something can look so simple, can end up being harder than you thought to make. I decided to make 2 sheet cakes, and put the birds on one with the the green pigs on the other. It worked out nicely. I made my own colored sugar by putting sugar in a mason jar, with a couple drops of food coloring, and giving it a good shake! Much cheaper and it looks great. It adds a bit of shimmer too!

Another recipe I used was the one that used the new peppermint kisses from Baked Perfection. We put our kisses on too soon after coming out of the oven and they melted. We then had to wait for them to cool again before we could stack the cookies in a tin. But they tasted great, even if they didn't look like the pintrest photo!
I put walmart gift cards inside homemade snowglobes for a creative way to give money! My 4 year old helped put the glitter in, which is why there is so much! This idea came from creativemama website.
With my 8 month old, I try to feed him all natural ingredients, whole grains, and now homemade yogurt. I got wonderful directions from the website, how to make yogurt. Its really easy, but you have to be around to monitor it. I used the electric heating pad, like they suggested, and to thicken it to be more like the Greek yogurt, I added some powdered milk at the same time I added the freeze-dried yogurt starter. Talk about being Pro-prokaryote! (For you non-biologists out there, that just means pro-bacteria!)

Here is our gift to Dad this year. Its a penguin family made from our footprints. This idea came from Funhandprintart. I didn't trust everyone not to mess up the original 12x12 sheet, so I had everyone in the family make their print on 8 1/2 x 11. sheet, then I cut them out and put them on the scrapbook sheet how I wanted. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

I have more ideas borrowed from pintrest, but I'll have to add them another day! What fun!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

NSTA Seattle Area Conference

Big STEM Student Research Handbook Poster

So, I'm in Seattle at the NSTA Area Conference, and I have to say, the coffee is great everywhere here in the upper north-west. Its been quite a thrill for me to be here as a first-time author. When I dropped by the NSTA Press bookstore with my family Wednesday night, this is the poster that greeted me! The cover of my book, almost as big as me! So this is a photo of me and my two boys. The youngest is 8 months old, with whom I was pregnant during most of the writing of this book. My presentation on Thursday was for The Mind Project, where I introduced teachers to various FREE online virtual labs. Today I had my session related to my book, in efforts to help teachers organize student researchers.

NSTA Press Author (Me) Signing Books

Then this afternoon, I also had my first official book signing. I'd be lying if I told you it wasn't a thrill. I enjoy meeting teachers, curriculum directors and administrators who are interested in having students perform research projects as a way to DO science. There are so many ways to implement research as part of the student experience. Some do it as after school clubs, some as part of existing courses, some as summer school courses, or even semester, or year-long courses that are dedicated to student research. What ever the case, its great to talk with those who are doing this with students! I love NSTA conferences.