May 27, 2014

Classroom Teacher Gift

It's that time of year again!  Time to celebrate our teachers and let them know how much we appreciate them and what they have done for our kiddos this year.  I saw this idea on a blog where the mom sent out an email to the class parents and had the kids secretly answer questions about their teacher.  Then she put the answers together in a book and presented it to the teacher along with some money she collected from the class as well.

Our school does not allow us to collect money from the parents for anything, but we can collect answers so I did just that.  Last year I did this for G's Kindergarden teacher and it of course made her cry.  This year, I did it again.  It's such a great idea!!  EVERYONE can participate.  It doesn't cost the students or parents anything to do and is always well received by the teacher.  Plus, G's First Grade teacher is leaving the school (and the city) this year, so it makes a great keepsake of her time at this school.  I can't wait to give it to her on Friday!

So here's a picture of the finished product!

All this is is an index card binder that I purchased from Office Max and a package of pastel cardstock that I cut to fit.  Each sheet of cardstock made 4 "pages" so the one package gave me more than enough pages to complete both this year's project and next year's too! Each of the answer pages are 4" x 5.5".  I punched 2 holes to the cardstock so that it would fit in the binder and would be easy to flip between pages.

For the Title Pages I just cut the cardstock a little bigger.  About 4.25 x 5.5 instead of just 4 x 5.5.

I covered the binder with some pretty scrapbook paper and then used a coordinating paper to line the inside of the binder so that the ugly folds were covered.  I printed directly onto the pages for all the kids answers but for the title pages I wanted them to stand out, so I printed onto velum and then taped them onto the cardstock.  I used some fancy scissors to cut around the titles and then drew around the edges with markers to create a "frame" for the title words.

To get all the answers I sent out this letter:
I sent them to school in envelopes with stickers on the back to "seal" them.  On the front of the envelope I wrote "Please return to Gabe's Mom."  I asked the teacher if I could come to school and hand out something for an end of the year thing.  I told her that they would be sending the envelopes back to school and if they came back just to make sure that my G brought them home.  It worked really well because since G is in the Functional Classroom a lot of the time it made it seam like a secret for him and she was very excited to help the kids help Gabe. :)  When I handed them out I made a big deal about the fact that it was a secret and they weren't supposed to talk about it at school or anywhere else, but could read it when they got home to their parents.  Then of course the teacher added that they shouldn't tell Gabe because he doesn't know about it and it just sealed the deal.  I also sent out this letter in an email to all the parents that I had emails for and in the letter I asked them to send me answers via email if they could.

It really worked out well because it just so happened that every time I went up to either pick up the envelopes or hand them out, G was in his other classroom, so it REALLY added to the whole idea that it was a surprise for him. :) (NOTE: later I found out that a little boy spilled the beans that it was a surprise for Ms. P, but who knows if she believed him or not)

I also went to have lunch with G during school hours so that I could add the BEST part of the book...their signatures!

Even if I didn't get answers from all the kids (which I didn't) I wanted all of them have had a part of the book somehow, so every child signed the book.  I brought up some of the smaller cards with me to lunch and walked around with a pen and had each child sign.  It worked out to 4 pages with 5 signatures each.   I then came home and added them to the book behind this title page:

I absolutely LOVE getting these answers back! Some of them were really heartfelt (This year Ms P taught me...) -

And then some were just completely hilarious! (What is Ms P's favorite color?) -

It is a great book.  I really enjoy putting it together each year.  After it's done I always send a list of all the answers to the parents so that they can see what all the kids said also.  It's just too good not to share.  I do invite them all to come when give it to her.  I always wait until the last day when they are not doing anything anyway. 

May 12, 2014

College Survival Kit

It's that time of year!  Time to celebrate all the hard work of your favorite High School or College Graduate.

I happen to know a Grad or two and needed a gift to give them to commemorate their achievement.  I didn't want to spend a lot on the gift, but wanted something that was both fun and useful.  So I came up with this:

A College Survival Kit!  It cost me all of $11 to put together!! EVERYTHING came from the Dollar Tree!!!

It has everything need to get a High School Grad off to a great start in college!  Here are the supplies:
Large Basket
Laundry Detergent
Fabric Softener
Dryer Sheets
Laundry Bag
Eye Mask
Index Cards
Mini Stapler/Staples
Ramen Noodles
...and of course...Chocolate!

I even made a tag with a list for my grad so they would know exactly what was in it. :)
 To decorate it I wove a cute ribbon in and out of the basket, tied a bow and added a silk flower. You can find these items at the Dollar Tree also, but I just happened to have them around the house.

Put all your items in the basket where they fit and look nice and Voila!  A perfect gift for your grad!! :)

This can be done for either a boy or a girl and is the perfect gift!  Plus, it only cost $11!!!!  

May 4, 2014

DIY - Shallow Cabinet for your Vitamins/Meds/Oils

Okay, I have a confession to make.  I forget to take my vitamins.  I forget to take my allergy pill.  In fact, it's probably a good thing that I don't have to take any life saving medication because I'd probably forget that too.  Don't get me wrong...I usually remember my children's items.  I make sure my husband has all the appropriate dosages...I just forget about me.  It's the total "out of sight, out of mind" situation.  I don't see my vitamins, so I don't take them.  And then I usually will remember them when I'm in the kitchen with all the appropriate cups of water, but no medications.  Then, when I start to walk to my master bath I see a toy on the floor, or pick up a laundry basket, or get into my room and figure out I must be there for some important reason, but have forgotten what that is...therefore again, no vitamins.

I started leaving them on the kitchen counter along with my other frequent meds (Advil...etc.), but my husband gently informed me that he didn't want them out because we have very curious children.  Children who do know how to move kitchen chairs and get onto counters where all of this beautiful poison (if taken in large doses) is waiting and looks like candy.  I know I'm not the only woman with this problem, BUT...I've come up with a solution!!  Why not build a medicine cabinet IN the kitchen?!

I know most of you probably have a shelf or two devoted to your meds in the kitchen.  I know because I've seen it!  My parents have one too, however, we just don't have enough cabinet space.  That's not entirely true...we have 1 empty shelf in our "pantry" cabinet that is literally near the ceiling.  Not helping with the forgetting thing...not to mention I'm a little vertically challenged.  Anyway...I searched Pinterest for a good tute on how to build one of these babies and couldn't really find one.  Plus, I really didn't want it to look like a dwarfed box on the side of my beautiful to-the-ceiling cabinets.  I wanted it to look as if it always belonged whomever designed my cabinets thought about this ever-so-popular problem and built a cabinet for this purpose.  So off to Lowe's I went in hopes of figuring this out myself....

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT experienced in cabinet making or woodwork! In fact my first experience with power tools (besides a drill/screwdriver) was just a month ago when I renovated our Formal Rooms! Also, I've had several people ask for these instructions, so even though the project is not complete...I wanted to get these instructions out so we can all do it together!!

Here's my BEFORE:

 Beautiful glazed the ceiling I might add with PLENTY of room for a solution!! We moved into this house with these cabinets already done, so finding the appropriate paint color is going to be challenging. Anyway...I digress....

And my current AFTER....
 Like I said, it's a work in progress...but here's how I did it!

You are going to need Pine (or Oak or any type of wood for that matter) in the dimensions you need them.  My cabinets are 42.5" tall and I have a 6" clearance from the end of my current kitchen cabinets and the door frame.  The cabinets are about 11 7/8" deep, so that gives me my length for my cabinets.  There is a current lip and some decorative trim around my cabinets so I decided it was easiest to leave that there and install my cabinets over both to give a little extra depth to my medicine cabinet.  I DID NOT MAKE A BACK TO MY CABINET.  I don't need one.  The side of my other cabinet works just great! Here are the dimensions of the wood that I got...All Pine...

4 - 1"x4"x4 ft pieces
2 - 1/2"x2"x4 ft pieces
1 - 1/2"x2"x2 ft piece
1 pkg of Hanging Hardware (Keyhole Fasteners)

1 - 3/4"x10"x40.5" piece of MDF (I had the guy at Lowe's cut this to these dimensions for me for FREE)
1 - 8 ft piece of moulding to match the trim on my doors
3 Hinges

You will also need...
Saw (Power is faster and easier!!)
Nail Gun & Nails
Wood Glue
Power Drill/Screwdriver
3 - 2" Wood Screws
Measuring Tape
Something that is a right angle (I used a picture frame b/c we don't have an official right angle thingy)
Primer & Paint/Glaze

First you need to saw your wood pieces into the correct dimensions you need. If you have a power saw, great! If not, this actually can be done with a common miter saw, but take my word for is an exhausting process! It takes a lot of muscles and be prepared to be sore the next day....not that I'd know or anything. :)  I cut 2 of my 4"x4' pine strips to 42.5" to be the sides of my cabinet.  Then cut your "shelves."  Since I had to have a shelf to reach the ceiling I decided I wanted 6 total shelves so I needed 7 pieces (top included).  I cut the other 4"x4' strips to smaller 10" each pieces.  Then cut your 1/2" strips into the same dimensions.  2 long pieces, 2 small pieces.  You will want to miter the corners of these pieces since they will actually be seen in the front of your cabinet.

Then, once all your wood is cut, it's time to put it together!  Take 1 of your long 4" pieces and lay it down on your workspace.  Glue one side of your smaller pieces and place it in the spot you want your shelf, make sure it is a square 90 degree angle with your frame or fancy square tool thingy, then nail it in place (I recommend going bottom to top).  Repeat until all shelves are attached.
You will notice that my top and bottom are not flush to the edge of the long piece.  This is because your trim is going to overlap.  You will want to measure your trim on the edge of your long piece and then attach your bottom shelf to the "top edge" of your trim.  In my case I needed the top edge of my shelf to be at 2" from the bottom of my long piece.

You might also want to measure whatever it is that you will be storing on your shelves to make sure that your shelves are at the right height.  My shelves are in these dimensions -

8 ish" space_
__6" space__
__4" space__
 _6" space__
__4" space__
__7" space__

Then, take your second long piece, glue all the other sides of the shelves with the wood glue and attach.  Then make sure of course all your angles are square before you nail in place.
Next step is your trim part.  Make sure the edges are flush with one another with the trim overlapping to the inside of your cabinet.  Also, just like before, put wood glue on the wood first, then nail in place.
Be careful to make sure all corners are as close as you can get to flush!
Okay, here you can see that my bottom shelf didn't quite end up flush with my trim, but oh well...better on top then below. :)  Again, NOT a cabinet maker!

Here it is all put together!!

Okay, don't judge my shelves.  They might be square, but apparently they are not perfectly level...or maybe my table isn't level...not sure, but nothing is rolling around inside this cabinet at least.  Also, the photo is crooked...YEAH! That's it!! :) Again...NOT a cabinet maker.

Okay, now on to the door...
Make sure you cut these trim pieces when you cut your other wood, again, mitering the corners.  You won't want to go back.  Take really good measurements, since your door will most likely be smaller than your cabinet (mine is).  Take your piece of wood or MDF and glue your trim pieces and attach with a nail gun like before.
Again, try to get the corners really good...don't worry, if you have gaps. We will fill them soon.

Now to hang your cabinet! This was really tough for me and took me a really long time to figure out, so hopefully my thoughts will make your process shorter...

Get these hanger things:
 They come 2 to a pack. I bought 2 pkgs but only needed one.  You will want to install them onto the back of your cabinet.  Install them horizontally, where the big hole is on the SAME SIDE of your wall when your cabinet is placed in the final position (my wall is on the RIGHT so my big hole is on the RIGHT).  That means you will have the raised portion to the inside of your kitchen (again, my kitchen is on my LEFT, so my small hole is on the LEFT).  Sorry I didn't get any pictures of this...I was really trying to figure it all out and was so excited it worked (after several trials) I forgot to snap the pic.  Place one fastener on both sides of your BOTTOM shelf, just like hanging a curtain, one on the right, one on the left.

NOTE: If you have a lip and/or moulding on your cabinets you will want to move these fasteners about 2 inches inward on your bottom shelf.  This will allow your cabinet to eventually be flush to your current cabinet.

Then CAREFULLY measure the distance and hole locations of your fasteners and drill 2 wood screws into the side of your currently mounted cabinet so that they line up with the raised portion of your fastener.  DO NOT DRILL THE SCREW FLUSH TO THE CABINET!!  Leave about a quarter inch or so of the head out from your cabinet so that your fastener has something to grab.  Make sure you drill this into your bottom shelf so you don't have a random screw in your cabinet.  This should all line up since both bottom shelves are raised about an inch or 2 from the bottom of your "trim." This will also help to reinforce the weight of the cabinet and make it really strong.

Okay, now here is where you will need a friend/mom or husband to help you out.  You need to align
your big holes to the screw heads and then shove it (with force) to the wall to lock it in place.  If you are able to, put the fasteners on both the top and bottom of your cabinet, however, if you are like me with a ceiling and extra trim in the way, the bottom only will work just fine.

Next take your last wood screw and drill a hole into the side of your cabinet near the top (or middle if you have fasteners on both the top and bottom) and screw the side of the cabinet to the wall.  Since you are not storing dishes or anything really heavy in this cabinet, this is all the support you will need.  This works really well if you have a stud right there! I did and the screw is right into the stud.  Perfect!!

And this is what you are left with!!

See! Flush!! And I still have an inch or so for the door!! Looking good!!!

Next take your hinges and again, carefully measure where you want them and attach your door! I had a small hiccup with my hinges, so my door is not yet attached.  A door is not completely necessary, but I don't want to tempt the children with just a higher goal to reach for the "candy" and I also don't want to advertise to all our guests what EXACT medications we are using.

I did decide that I wanted my door to open away from the inside of my kitchen.  So my door hinges will go on the same side as my wall.  I'll install the matching hardware to the left side of my door and it will all match perfectly!

Now to make the cabinet look like it was always there.  You need to take your Spackle and fill in all your nail holes and gaps from your not-so-perfect mitered corners.
 Then you will want to sand all the rough edges and sand all the Spackle until it is completely smooth. Use the caulk to caulk the seam between your existing cabinet and your new cabinet.  You can also caulk the seam between your new cabinet and your wall.  Then Prime and Paint with your color of choice!

I'm still searching for the correct color of these cabinets, so I'm not exactly done with this project exactly yet...however I couldn't wait to use it so here it is right now in my kitchen!!

There's that crooked photo again. ;)  Well, I'm off to the paint store to find out what color my cabinets are!  I tried to convince my husband that we needed to remodel the kitchen NOW instead of later...then I wouldn't need to match this color, but could go ahead and paint them the perfect shade of slate grey, but that is a project we have not budgeted for yet (granite counters, new paint and decor for the walls, etc.) and he was very happy to veto that thought before it even finished coming out of my mouth. :)

I also need to go get some of the decorative moulding that is edging the top of my cabinets and run that along the top of my new cabinet so that it truly does match and look like it was always there.

Let me know if you plan on doing this in your kitchen...or what you will use your shallow cabinet for! I've also heard of storing Essential Oils in something like this!! :)  I do love my cabinet and am so excited that I did it all by myself!  No written plans or anything!! :) 

Oh, in case you were wondering, it only cost me $38 (including tax) with fancy (expensive invisible) hinges, Pine wood and 2 pkgs of fasteners!!  Again, if your cabinets are smaller, your cost will be cheaper by far!  You can't even buy a bathroom medicine cabinet for that cost!! I looked. :)

Happy Building!! Leave your comments below please!