Thank You Gifts for Teachers

Wait, what? Another school year has gone by already?! I remember being in school and the years took F O R E V E R.... Like, I think I was a 5th grader for 3 years, I swear. (I wasn't; #honorroll4life) Now with kids in school, it's as if I run on a really fast treadmill in heals while signing permission slips, passing out book fair money, baking buying birthday cupcakes, spiking hair for picture day (when I remember that it's picture day), making flash cards for spelling tests, dressing kids like a cowboy or in pajamas for that one weird week of school, driving to and from soccer practice, packing the lunches, and buying last minute name-that-crappy-holiday-where-they-pump-my-kid-full-of-candy cards. And then, all of a sudden, I'm scrambling for summer camps and it's over, like that.

Seriously time.  Slow.  Down.  It is obvious my age-defying makeup can't keep this pace.

So since the blur that was this year is hurling its way toward summer, it's time to say thanks to that teacher that's been along for the ride all the while. These "Thirst for Knowledge" cups are so easy, so quick, and so useful! We whipped up 6 of them (multiple pre-k teachers) in 5 minutes. 

All you need are some plastic tumblers with lids and straws and goodies to fill them with. You could do all drink mixes to really stick with the theme but I like to trow in some snacks, gum, nail polish, and chap sticks too. If you really wanted to go big, you could slip a gift card in there too.

Then just print out or draw and write some little flags for the straws. I cut the slits for the straw with an X-acto knife.

And that's it. Like I said, really easy and really fast and sure to impress. Now stop browsing the internet and go pack a lunch or two, check homework, and throw a load of laundry in while you're at it.


How to Make a Suitcase Table

Holy moly, I finally got a DIY project done! I've been busy doing some good so doing some DIY had to wait a while. I made a vintage suitcase table out of, you guessed it, a vintage suitcase and an old crappy end table we never got rid of for my little dude's room. And it turned out ah-may-zing. (angels singing AHHHHHH here).

When the little man was about two and a half, we ditched his crib (it's still in the garage waiting for me to awesomely DIY something out of it... husband is thrilled about moving it each time he needs the lawnmower. #wifesablogger #sorryhun) and scored him some awesome Craig's List bunk beds. The lower bed is really low to the ground since it's supposed to be under the upper bed. However, we don't have it under the upper bed because he can't feel the ceiling fan under there and well, we live in Florida and it's hot. ALL. THE. TIME. :)  So, having it off to the side leaves room for an end table for a book and a night light and other super important things like rock collections (they're really just chunks of cement from parking lots, but we go with it). 

But here's the problem. Regular height nightstands/end tables are too high. They're at perfect smack-your-head-on-me-every-night height with his ultra lowrider bed. No bueno.
On top of that, the only end table we had when he got these bunk beds was a really junky one that we've had forever that has almost made its way to the curb numerous times. But he really wanted a table so there ya have it. Time to DIY.

I really love the look of vintage suitcases being repurposed into decor and I thought this would be a great use of one in my house. It makes for a large flat table surface, and a place to hide all of his super secret preschool treasures.

To make a table like mine, you will need:
  • Small vintage suitcase (I got mine at an antique market for $10)
  • Old end table you don't mind cutting up
  • Saw (I used a small hand saw and a table saw... the table saw is not necessary if you get the guys at the hardware store to cut your piece of wood for you)
  • Drill
  • Wood Glue
  • Ruler
  • Hardware (a few screws and some small L brackets)
  • Primer
  • Paint

Junky table: check.

Step 1:
Figure out how tall you want your new suitcase table to be.
I measured the height of the bed. Then I measured the height of the suitcase and determined how tall my legs needed to be.  I wanted the table close to even with the height of the bed.

Step 2:
Measure and cut your legs to the right height.
I could have used the table saw for this part too, but I really didn't want to get it out of its spot in the garage. You know, the crib is in the way and all. Haha  A hand saw worked just fine and I got a little arm workout.

Note, the cuts were not 100% straight so I sanded them a bit to flatten everything out.

Step 3:
Cut a base for the suitcase to sit on.
I used a scrap piece of 1/4" plywood leftover from the Toy Box Makeover but you might be able to use the existing top of the table you're taring apart.  Mine was too thick for the look I was going for, plus I had the scrap wood in my garage. If you're using a piece of wood, the hardware store can cut it for you if you don't have a table saw. Cut it slightly smaller than the suitcase.

I cut mine a tiny bit too big and had to trim a little. Also, since the corners of the suitcase are rounded, I rounded the edges of the plywood with a sander.  You can avoid doing this by just cutting the base small enough.

Now this part really isn't a step since not everyone will have a shelf to deal with, but my table was actually a little too deep. If you look in the pic above, you can see the table legs sticking out past the front of the suitcase a little. The shelf was making the base a little to large for the top.

So, I had to trim the shelf down about an inch and drill new holes for these thingies to stick in. No biggie! Just figure it out as you go.

Ta da. Table base!

Step 4:
Secure the top you just cut to the legs. 
I used some wood glue and nails, but you could screw this together too.

Step 5:
Prep for paint.
I sanded the whole base and gave it a light coat of primer (well, my kid did the primer).

Step 5:
I chose a matte-finish spray paint for this table but you could do whatever you wanted. If you're spray painting, do several light coats and let it dry completely in between to avoid a sticky finish.

Step 6:
Add hardware.
I wanted to do the nail head look on this table but since I never plan ahead and no where within 5 miles sells nail heads, I went with thumb tacks. They worked great! 

I'll blame the fact that line of them on the front is a bit wiggly on the 4 year old applying them. I can do that, right? ;)

I also picked up a few gold L brackets from the hardware store. They are really cheap (like $2 a pack) and screwed a few in here and there as a decorative element. I think a couple of them are holding the shelf on a bit.

Step 7
Screw the suitcase in place.
I just screwed the suitcase to the legs from the inside and I was done.

I love that he calls it his "secret hiding spot". I think he feels like a spy. Only the most secret stuff goes inside.

So what do you think? Depending on the amount of modification you have to do to the old table, I think this project could be done in an afternoon. My "nail heads" might be wiggly, but I hardly think the little boy who now has a super secret spy table cares.

I think I have an end table makeover problem. Here's a few more if you're interested.


Hop It Forward

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of World Market.

For several years now, my husband and I have discussed different ways we would be able to teach our children about helping others. In November we took them to the Central Florida Children's Home to meet the 15 foster kids that live there and show them the office remodel project we helped complete for Share The Joy (you can read about that here). They asked tons of questions about why the kids were there and why we were helping. It was a great teaching experience. We regularly go through their clothes and toys and donate ones they've outgrown to kids who might not have any. They frequently ask, "can I get a garbage bag and fill it up to donate?" Their motivation might be making room for new toys for themselves, but I think we're making progress. :) And, when they're old enough, we'd love to take them to serve a Thanksgiving dinner at a local shelter and teach them that not everyone can just grab a snack out of the fridge whenever they're tummy grumbles. We're trying our best be make them aware of people and organizations in need, and that no matter how small they think they are, they are capable of helping and should.

This week I was thrilled to have the opportunity, thanks to Hop It Forward from World Market, to help another group in need; Nemours Children's Hospital. 
Nemour's mission is
"To provide leadership, institutions, and services to restore and improve the health of children through care and programs not readily available, with one high standard of quality and distinction, regardless of the recipient's financial status."
Such a great hospital doing such great things for sick kids. My idea was simple. Shop at World Market for adorable Easter baskets, books, toys, and a little candy and deliver them to kids who won't get to be home for Easter. And that's exactly how I explained it to my kids. "Not everyone is well enough to be home for the Easter Bunny like you guys, so we're going to make some baskets and bring them to the kids at the hospital." They were all about it!

First we shopped til we dropped. I'm not going to lie. World Market isn't the easiest place to shop with a 6-year-old and 4-year-old, but I prepped them before entering the store and gave them each a mission. "You're going to find 4 girl baskets and toys and you're going to find 4 boy baskets and toys". (I also bribed them with cookies and gave them a few mom stares... hey, whatever works).

They each picked out these adorable felt baskets from the Easter section. I love the duck one!

Then they we chose a different Golden Book to go in each one. Did you know World Market sells Golden Books? I remember my dad reading The Poky Little Puppy to me and my siblings so many times when we were little that he would try to skip pages to make it shorter. But since we had the story memorized we'd make him start over. haha!

We rounded out the baskets with a few small toys, fans, and candy. Then we came home and began assembling.

I'd love to say that they were 100% thrilled with giving everything away to the Nemours kids, but they are 4 and 6. Let's be honest, they wanted some of the chocolate for themselves. It took some reminding that the Easter Bunny was coming to our house in a couple weeks and they would get some of their own candy and toys. 

They eventually got into it. Toy airplane: check!

And in just a few minutes the baskets were ready.

On Friday morning I dropped them off to a very happy hospital coordinator who let me know they would be giving these out to the kids at the Easter party they had planned. A party that was taking place thanks to donations like mine. While I wasn't allowed to take any pictures of the kids (totally understandable) we did load the baskets up in one of their many lobby wagons and I got a shot of that in their outdoor garden.

If just one kid spending Easter here is a little happier thanks to our baskets, our mission was successful. :) Happy Easter kiddos!

So now comes the time when I challenge you to spread some random acts of "hoppiness". What can you do? Head over to World Market's Hop It Forward Sweepstakes here. Each day they'll share their favorite Random Acts of Hoppiness with you and you can enter for a chance to win a $2,000 World Market gift card and a year’s supply of Divine Chocolates.