Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gifts for the Teachers

TJ is, ummmmm, well let's just say that his energy tank is rarely on low.  Containing him is near impossible.  He is a typical 8 year old boy with a little (okay a lot) of extra oomph.  He loves to talk, even if it's to himself when nobody is around.  I swear he loves the sound of his own voice.  He also is constantly on the move.  Rarely ever sitting in the same position, much less the same place, for more than a few moments.  With all of this being said, his teachers and after school leaders are very important factors in his success at school.  It takes patience & determination to be not just a teacher, but a teacher that can deal with extremely active kids.  Kids that are very smart but don't always follow directions.  Kids that are witty but also think they already know most everything.  Kids that are super, sticky sweet but sneaky when you turn your back.  Kids like TJ Geer.  And there are a lot of them out there.  To my knowledge, TJ has never given his teachers gifts for Christmas so this year I decided that he (we) needed to do something to show his (our) appreciation.  I got this idea from the Echoes of Laughter blog and I loved it from the moment I read the post.  The first step was getting TJ's help.  I was just going to make 1 clipboard for his teacher but he insisted that we make one for both his current teacher and the teacher who's class he had just moved from (he was in a 2nd/3rd combo class that they dissolved).  Then he asked if we could make one for the after school teachers because he had been with them all since kindergarten.  Ummm, seriously?  That was 6 more...  So I made 8 clipboards!  I required him to write all of the teachers names down in his planner and take it to school.  He was to find out their 2 favorite colors.  At this point, he had no idea what the project was so he couldn't ruin the surprise because he didn't even really know why he was asking.  He did his job and brought the paper back to me.  Then I went to Michael's to load up on supplies.

Required Materials: clipboard, mod podge in matte, brush,
scrapbook paper, scissors, decorative accessories

Using regular paper, I cut out a template of the shape of the clipboard (more specifically the clamp) so that I could cut out my scrapbook paper.
Then I traced my template on to the sheet of scrapbook paper that would be at the top of the clipboard.  I then cut out the 2nd sheet of paper that would lay at the bottom of the clipboard.  I used the tape to hold them together until I glued them down.
Once my template was complete it was time to glue.  I coated the clipboard with the Mod Podge, being careful to not use too much.  It dries pretty clear but just like regular glue, if you use too much it can cause the paper to warp.  Glue down the top sheet first, followed by the lower piece.
Next, I used either a scrapbook "border" or just scraps of other paper I had bought to bring the two different designs together.
Finally I embellished each clipboard with a sticker displaying the first letter of the teacher's first name.  I finished by adding ribbon to the clamps.
These are the final products for the 2 classroom teachers.
The following 6 are for the after school teachers.  The red & green is for a guy and I didn't think he would like the ribbon too much so I left it off.  I tried to find some "non-girly" scrapbook paper.  Not sure how successful I was at that, lol!
TJ wrote his name on the back of each clipboard with permanent marker and put the year 2010.  Then he helped me stuff them in to gift bags.
Deuce thought he would take a break from playing in the mirror to help too.
The bags all ready to deliver!
Guilford Co had school Monday & Tuesday of this week so TJ took his gifts to school yesterday.  He reported back to me that everyone loved their clipboards!  I just love these because they don't have to be used as regular clipboards.  They can be hung on the wall with a picture attached as an alternative to a traditional frame, say in a classroom!  Or even in the kitchen.  Anyway, enjoy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Precious Moments

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you're gonna miss this
-Trace Adkins

As we approach Deuce's first Christmas, I am doing my very best to soak in all of the moments.  Each one precious and special.  Each one I'll never get back.  I am doing my best to make sure that my camera is within an arms reach of him at all times. 
One of my favorite things to do is look at old pictures from when I was little.  The way fashion trends have changed.  The way camera technology has changed.  The ways my hair has changed.  The family that I am still very close to and the family that I rarely ever see.  Those pictures are so special to me. 
My maternal grandparents had both passed away by the time I was 7 and all of Ed's grandparents had passed away by the time he was a toddler.  Pictures are the only memories that exist.  I have to capture as many moments as I can so that one day Deuce can feel like he truly "remembers" every step of his life.
This past Sunday I took Deuce to the nursery during church for the first time.  He is starting to talk a lot now and he is very likely to shout "DADA" at the most inappropriate times, like when Pastor Diggs has paused for a serious moment.  The sermon is broadcast in to the nursery so that parents can still get the lesson while the kids play.  As I was sitting on the floor with Deuce I whipped out my camera and starting snapping away. 
Another parent said, "Do you always do that?"  Uh-Oh I thought, I'M CAUGHT - I wasn't listening to the sermon.  SHOOT!  So I questioned her, "You mean, take pictures?"  She nodded. I politely told her I always have my camera because I don't want to miss a moment.  And I often leave it in the diaper bag so that if I am not with him, the camera is.  She smiled and said, "Man, I wish I had been like that."  Whew... so I continued to snap away (while I multi-tasked as any good momma can do and listened to the lesson).

So many precious moments gone by...
... yet so many precious moments to come.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Vintage Gliders

I am going to use this post to brag about my super crafty momma.  As far back as I can remember she has always loved to craft.  Refurbish.  Restore.  Renovate.  Revamp.  She loves it!  Every summer when we would attend camp in the Georgia mountains on Lake Burton, mom came to work as the Arts & Crafts Director. (Yes, mom came to camp with us, it was super expensive and she worked for free so that we could attend because we loved it so much.  What teacher spends her summers working with other people's kids - for FREE!)  She used to gift gourds after she had stained them and used an exacto knife to carve designs in them or painted poinsettias on them.  They were beautiful and people loved receiving them.  It seems like one Christmas everyone received a gourd from us.
This isn't one of her creations.  Apparently it's by Nedra Denison - photo cred.  I'm sure mom has pictures somewhere but definitely not digital.  Her designs were very similar to this though.

She also loves to discover antique furniture that she can refinish.  She spends countless hours reading design magazines and recreating the images she has seen.  I love this about her.  She can turn almost any junk piece into a priceless work of art.  Several years ago she bought a furniture set from an old antique store that came with a bed, a dresser and an armoire.  She refinished the bed & dresser with a beautiful dark cherry stain and added new hardware.  It is the furniture that my sister uses in her bedroom.  But the armoire was special to me for some reason.  I loved the piece.  It was really worn down, the drawers didn't close right and the cabinets didn't stay shut but there was something that told me to beg my mom to save it.  She hadn't done too much with it, just added some paint over the years and they weren't using it but I pleaded with her not to get rid of it.  Thank goodness they had some room to store it although as she reads this she's probably thinking about all the space it took up during those years.  When I got pregnant & we were talking about the nursery, I asked her if I could have the armoire and would she be willing to fix it up for me.  Once we picked out the crib bedding she went to work.  I LOVE this piece...
Feel lucky that i showed this picture.  There are not too many preggo pictures of me for good reason!  This was at my shower - 4 days before Deuce was born!

She has also recently fixed up several vintage gliders.  You know, the porch gliders that everyone's grandparents had rusted outside and you didn't want to sit in it because it left stains on your clothes or hurt your hands to hold on to... Yeah, those.  It is amazing how much these things go for now!  At the Mule Wagon Antiques & Collectibles site, an unfinished 3-seater sells for $499!! At Vintage Glider, an unfinished glider chair costs $225!!  My super talented, awesome mom is selling her FINISHED chairs for $75!!! A STEAL!  These things are not easy to find anymore.
Here is her 3-seater in the sun room and I'm not sure she's willing to part with it.
PLUG for mom duke's: Hit me up if you or anyone you know is interested!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

From the Kitchen of Rachel Geer

So Ed sends me an email Monday at work that says, "Wednesday is our holiday luncheon and I have to bring something."  That means, I am giving you two days notice to cook something for all of my coworkers to eat. (Two days is plenty of time.  I thanked him for that.  Once he "forgot" and told me the night before.  Not the day before but the night before.)  Then he proceeds to tell me later, "I told everyone at work you were a good cook."  He works with all women.  No pressure or anything...

So here is what I made.

Ed's request: Crab Stuffed Deviled Eggs
I have made these before and he liked them so I obliged.

The required ingredients
First you have to boil 12 eggs for approximately 10-12 minutes.  I have this great egg timer that my Aunt Diana gave me and it tells me when the eggs are soft, medium & hard.  It's great.  After the eggs are cooked, place them in cool water for about 10 minutes so they will be easier to peel.  Peel the egg shells and discard.  Slice the eggs length wise and place the cooked yolks in a bowl.  Set aside the egg whites.
For the filling: add Old Bay, mayonnaise, mustard, water, chives, lemon juice, oregano, onion powder, worcerstershire, garlic powder, salt & pepper to egg yolks and mash with a fork.

Fold in crab meat
Taste filling and adjust seasoning as necessary
Fill egg white shells with mixture.  I used a plastic sandwich bag with a small corner cut out to pipe the mixture in but you can use a spoon or anything you want.

Top eggs with sprinkling of paprika.
Yummy!  Ed said they were a hit and were devoured pretty quickly!

Then I got brave and thought I would try a new recipe for Oreo Balls.  I've never made them before and Ed told me the eggs were enough but I just got this desire to make them so I did.

The required ingredients
Using a blender or a hand-held mixer, mix the Oreos and cream cheese together.  I don't have a mixer (I have since asked for one for Christmas) so I used a blender.  I discovered that it is easier to blend a few oreos at one time and empty them in to a bowl.
Next mix in the cream cheese.  I imagine this would be much easier with a mixer...
You should end up with a dough of Oreos
Roll the "dough" in to walnut sized balls, place on wax paper and chill for an hour.
Melt either 3/4 package of white chocolate or milk chocolate chips in a bowl.  Insert a toothpick into each Oreo ball.
Using the toothpick, coat each ball in the chocolate and place back on the wax paper.  Allow to harden.  I put them back in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. 
Then melt some more chocolate chips of your choice (about 1/4 package) and add to piping bag.  Again, I used a sandwich bag.  Once balls have hardend decorate with the piping.  Use food coloring with white chocolate if you wish.
So I didn't get to try one of these bad boys out before Ed took them to work because I wanted him to have as many as possible.  Plus I made 24 and I didn't want him to take an odd number to the party.  (Yes, weirdo.  I know.)  So I was nervous about how they would taste but he sent me a text that said they were "incredible" and tasted like oreo fudge.  So he saved me one and brought it home.  Seriously delish!  I will be making these again!

Deviled Egg Ingredients:1 doz eggs, 8 oz cooked crab meat, 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning, 3 tblsp mayonnaise, 2 tblsp Dijon mustard, 1 tblsp yellow mustard, 2 tblsp cold water, 1 tsp finely diced chives, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp worcestershire, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste, paprika for display

Oreo Balls Ingredients:
1 package of regular sized Oreos crushed, 1 8oz pkg of cream cheese, 1 pkg white chocolate morsels, 1 pkg milk chocolate morsels, toothpicks, cupcake holders, food coloring (optional)

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