I’ve recently received several messages from people asking about the chocolate favor tags that were used during my boys’ Star Wars birthday party. I don’t know why I didn’t include that as a free download in my original post, so here it is!
I’ve removed the names of the chocolate truffles that I made for the party so the tags are more generic and can be used for any type of chocolate. Just click on the link to download the PDF. Enjoy!
February is fast-approaching, and for me, that means absolute chaos! All 3 of my children were born in February, within ONE DAY of each other. Although two of them are twins, so there’s that… 😉 On top of that, Valentine’s Day crafts for elementary school classrooms are no joke! Last year, we had to make V-Day card boxes for the boys, and by “we,” I mean “I” and prepare cards/treats for all their classmates. Plus, the 100th day of school falls in February, so that means more crafts…
So if your Februarys are anything like mine, then to make life a little easier, enter to win a $20 credit at my delightfuledesigns Etsy shop! If you’re not familiar with the shop, it’s a little graphic design shop for all of life’s celebrations–birthdays, anniversary, love, graduations, holidays. Currently, everything I offer is digital downloads to either print at home or have printed at a local print shop or Kinko’s, Costco, Office Depot, etc. As my family gets settled at the new house, I plan to offer printed cards as well since I no longer have to use the Military Post Office system, which prohibits you from mailing ANYTHING for business purposes.
Just follow the instructions after logging in with Facebook or with your email. There are lots of different ways to enter!
Winner will be announced/contacted on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. Winner will receive a coupon code to use in the delightfuledesign Etsy shop. No minimum purchase required, but unused funds cannot be redeemed for cash. Coupon code must be used by December 31, 2016. Coupon code cannot be used for custom orders.
I’ve spent the past several weeks working diligently on things for my delightfuledesigns shop on Etsy. With my big boys headed off to school in just a few short days, my mind has definitely been on teachers and the classroom.
So here’s a little peek at what I’ve stocked my shop with lately:
But I’ve also been teetering on the brink of insanity while my kids bounce off the walls and have become The. Neediest. Children. EVAR. as we get closer to the end of summer break. All I can say is WINE. Yep. Wine.
So as my children drive me to drink and the first day of school draws near… THANK YOU, TEACHERS!!! 😉 For all the moms out there who would also like to thank a teacher, or two, or ten… Here’s a free printable for thank you cards with a beautiful quote about teachers from Albert Einstein. Just click on the image to access a high resolution JPEG file with 2 thank you cards on an 8.5×11 inch/letter sized sheet of paper. Select “letter borderless” for printing, and make sure that the image is set at 100% scale. Print on card stock, cut, and fold! The cards fit perfectly in A2 envelopes.
And if you’re looking for something to gift to the special teacher who will be caring for and shaping your darling child(ren)’s little heart(s), the delightfuledesigns Etsy shop has a 50% off coupon code–good until August 31st! Just enter ONEYEAR at checkout to get 50% off any purchase, including personalized items.
Enjoy the free printable, the coupon code, and THE FACT THAT KIDS ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL!!! I’m looking forward to it not being so ungodly hot and sticky that I can pull out my yarn and start knitting and crocheting again. Yay for cooler weather and hopefully, some new knit/crochet patterns in the coming months!
With 3 kids between the ages of 3 and 6, keeping up with chores is a MAJOR chore for me. Over the past several years, I’ve actually come to hate chores. Not the act of doing them myself, but the whole trying to keep with with my kids getting chores done and keeping track of it part. I’ve tried different types of charts, and they ultimately end up shoved into the junk drawer in the kitchen–abandoned… Because it was simply too much work for me to keep up with it! And it’s not like my kids don’t love doing chores. They’re still at the age where they LOVE to help, so I really should capitalize on that, right? I should take full advantage of the fact that I have a tiny army of helpers… Plus, there’s the whole teaching kids the value of hard work part too! Haha!
So, in my attempts to basically simplify the chores and chores chart process to a point where the kids and I can keep up with things without feeling overwhelmed by chores, I created a single chart for all 3 kids with ONE CHORE PER DAY because honestly, between school and martial arts classes, homework and the very valuable play time and family time, my kids don’t have a whole lot of time to devote to chores. Nor do I want to work them to the point where they hate doing chores.
So for my 6-year olds, their weekly chores include swiffering the floors, putting away laundry, cleaning their playroom, watering plants, taking out the recycling (only because we have to walk down 3 flights of stairs and our regular trash bags tend to be pretty heavy), washing dishes–with supervision!–and wiping down bathroom surfaces. For my 3 year old, I had to keep things simpler. She can help with putting away laundry and cleaning the playroom with the boys, and since toys seem to migrate from the playroom to the rest of the house, her job is to make sure those toys go back into the playroom. I can also entrust her with dusting the windowsills and wiping down doorhandles!
At the end of each week, the kids receive a SMALL reward for completing their weekly chores. I do want to give them some incentive for being responsible, but I don’t want them to think that they should be rewarded for doing things around the house that they should be doing anyway. At the end of 5 weeks, if they successfully complete all of their chores, my husband and I treat them to something special, but their rewards are family-oriented rather than individually-oriented. For example, a new family board game, ice cream at Baskin Robbins, lunch with Daddy during the work-week.
There are three different versions of this chart available for download:
Version 1 is the same chart I used, but the individual chores have been left blank for you to fill in yourself. Version 2 has a colored grid rather than lines, and Version 3 has no lines or grid.
These charts can easily be used for a number of other things–not just chores! You can track your child’s summer reading progress, homework throughout the school year, your own work-out schedule, etc. And the blank space at the end of each week is a great place to write down an incentive for getting things done throughout the week!
Just click on the links below to download the PDF files and print as many as you need. Please feel free to share on your own blogs, but provide a link back to jkwdesigns.com if you do. Teachers and educators, you’re welcome to use the chart however you’d like!
I can’t believe nearly 3 months have passed since my last blog post. It has definitely been a crazy time at the jkwdesigns household. But let’s be honest–when is it not??? I went on an amazing trip to Cambodia with my husband in March, then to my 14 year college reunion in April (my VERY first solo trip since having children–7 glorious kid-free, husband-free days to relive my youth–hahaha!), then my husband was gone for the entire month of May for a work trip, which really sucked, by the way… And why are the weeks leading up to the end of the school year so absolutely chaotic?
And it’s not like my kids truly understand the meaning of “summer break” since this was their first year of school. In fact, they told me that they didn’t want kindergarten to end. They just wanted to keep going to school. On the work front, I had the honor of designing the graduation program and the baccalaureate service program for Seoul American High School, and there have been so many baby showers lately! I’ve also been working on a new bridal/wedding stationary line for my delightful. Etsy shop, AAANNNDDDD… On top of that, TEACHER APPRECIATION GIFTS!!!
My boys have 8 teachers, so it really needed to be something that I could make relatively quickly and that wouldn’t break the bank. For their homeroom teacher, the amazing woman who spends 6.5 hours with my children, 5 days a week, we did something extra special, because, really… How do you thank someone for loving and guiding and teaching your children while also creating a wonderful and safe environment that is fun and exciting and filled with laughter? I don’t think it’s possible to express the depth of my gratitude.
***But you can try with this FREE PRINTABLE! Just click on the image to view it in full size and download. It’s an 8×10, so you can either print it on 8×10 photo paper or on letter sized card stock and trim the edges, frame and give it as a gift to your favorite teacher(s)!***
So with that impossible task in mind, I scoured Pinterest for gift ideas. I didn’t want to clutter teachers’ lives with more cute and nice, but useless junk or junk food or baked goods… I read several blog posts and articles written by teachers that talked about gifts they didn’t need and gifts that they would actually love. On several lists were the PERFECT thing for me as a crafter–personalized stationary. I sat down at my trusty computer and got started.
Some of the designs were easy because over the school year, I’ve gotten to know several of the teachers since I feel that as someone who doesn’t get paid to be there, I spend an inordinate amount of time at my kids’ school. Others were a little more challenging because despite wanting to capture both their style and their profession, I don’t know anything about their personal style. Still… I think they turned out nicely, and hopefully, the recipients enjoy them! I love writing handwritten notes, so I’d like to think that I’m doing my part to bring back the art of handwritten correspondence. 😉
February is a short, crazy month in the jkwdesigns household. Now that my big boys are in school, I have Valentine’s Day crafts, 100th day of school crafts, and the birthdays of all 3 of my children to celebrate. All within a week of each other. 🙁 I feel like I’m juggling 30 crystal wine glasses while doing the river dance.
When my boys asked begged me for a bowling party, I have to admit that I was a little sad. As a party planner, I had grand plans for a Jedi Academy themed party, complete with Jedi robes, lightsabers, training course and certificates of completion. Two minutes later, I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief because I wouldn’t have to worry about prepping all the activities and planning the menu. Feeling about 10 lbs lighter, I vowed to throw all my efforts into the invitations and party favors and got started.
And here’s what happened!
Inspired by other lightsaber invitations I saw on Pinterest, but absolutely unwilling to cut out individual lightsaber pieces and construct, I decided to go with a more realistic approach. Plus, hunting down card stock in various colors here in Seoul seemed like a waste of time. (I really, really miss Michael’s and AC Moore!) I did some research on lightsaber hilts and found that Yoda’s lightsaber would work best. It’s fairly uniform in width from top to bottom, so it would provide the width I needed to be able to slide a blue or green ray of light/paper in and out of the hilt. Using an image of Yoda’s lightsaber hilt, I adjusted the size to widen it without making it look disproportionate.
The lightsaber hilts are approximately 2 inches across, which leaves about 1.5 inches to work with on the inside once the pockets are constructed.
You can download the PDF file containing the adjusted lightsaber hilts (3 per page) here: Lightsaber Invitation
Print on card stock and cut the lightsabers out. You will also need to create a stencil of the cut piece in order to create the “pocket.” If you’re handy with the Silhouette cutter, then you could easily import the image and have your Silhouette do all the cutting for you.
The most tedious part of the invitation is creating the pockets for the blade. I used Sookwang tape or Scor-Tape, which is an amazing double-sided adhesive. I placed the adhesive along the edges of the lightsaber hilt (approx. 1/8 inch) and cut the excess adhesive off. This allowed me to make the pocket as wide as possible since I had very little room to work with.
For the blade portion of the invitation, I designed a long, narrow invitation strip and printed half in blue and half in green (because I have twins who insist). And the result was an absolute hit. The kids–mine and the recipients–were thrilled with the invitations, and many of them went so far as to bring their lightsaber invitations to the party.
Our local bowling alley is all set up for parties; however, as part of the party package, the only food that you’re allowed to bring in is a birthday cake. Everything else must be purchased from the bowling alley. And the options are very limited. As in what toppings would you like on your pizza limited. So pizza and fruit punch it is.
The rental is for a 2 hour party: one hour of bowling followed by one hour of food and cake. We’d been to enough parties at the bowling alley to be familiar with the set-up, and the bowling portion of the party is enough to kids occupied, so there really was no need for planning any other activities.
I did, however, create an activity placemat for the tables, just so it wouldn’t be so bare. It contains a blueprint-type coloring page of the Millennium Falcon and a personalized word search that includes my boys’ names. There are some great word search generators online–here’s one of my favorites from The Teachers Corner.
It’s no secret that I like simple, bold design, and since this party was for MY kids and not for a client, I was able to go with my very own personal style. Luckily, my boys don’t really have opinions on this sort of thing, and they were just so excited that everything was Star Wars-related that I received no complaints. 😉
So as my design style goes, I stuck with black, white and gray with a splash of yellow. Since I couldn’t bring in my own food, it limited my party styling. I kept the cake table pretty clear because I definitely wanted the cake itself to be the center of attention. The cake was made by an incredibly talented friend of mine who will be in Seoul for the next few months, so if you’re looking for a cake designer, let me know and I’ll pass along her information!
Almost all of my decorations were made with the help of my trusty Silhouette Cameo. I cut Jedi Order symbol stickers (in white) and applied them to black paper cups. I cut white star stickers and applied them to a black plastic tablecloth which was hung on the wall for the backdrop. I cut additional Jedi Order and Rebel Alliance symbols from black poster board and placed them on the yellow napkins on tables. The “Welcome Young Jedi” sign was also made from sticker letters cut with the Silhouette. Seriously, I love my Silhouette.
The only other decor item that I designed for the party is the birthday banner, which you can download here for free! This includes the Jedi Order symbols. Just print on card stock, cut, punch holes and string together!
Since I had decided early on that I was going to put all my efforts into party favors, I knew that I wanted to make personalized t-shirts for my boys’ guests. However, I knew that many of them would be coming with younger siblings. Then, I got to thinking about the people I really wanted to thank for coming, and that was PARENTS! So here’s what went into the party favors:
For the Jedi Masters:
Each of the guests received a personalized t-shirt, which was created using heat transfer paper. I’ve worked with heat transfer paper before in the past, and I don’t love it. The finished product doesn’t typically hold up very well in the wash. The image cracks, and the colors fade. However, on the bright side, if you’re going for a vintage look, it’s perfect! 😉
Younger siblings received a glow stick/lightsaber favor, which actually ended up being super popular with ALL OF THE KIDS. Luckily, I had so many glow sticks left over from our Valentine’s Day project that I’d made extras so there were enough glow sticks for everyone.
Last, but certainly not least, I made gourmet chocolates for the parents! I had so much fun with this, and I’d actually been preparing to make these for quite some time, experimenting with recipes (particularly the raspberry ganache recipe) until I came up with one I liked. My husband and I ate A LOT of chocolate during the experimenting process. A LOT. But I think the end results were well worth it! And of course, the Darth Vader and Stormtrooper molds were perfect for the dark and white chocolates. The molds are available on Amazon.
**EDIT 1/28/2016 – The Star Wars chocolate favor tags are available for free here**
May the Force be with you!
Disclosure: This post contains links to products on amazon.com. These are products that I purchased and used for my own projects with no compensation. However, if you click on the link and purchase the product, I will receive a small fee from Amazon.com.
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jkwdesigns.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Life has been (as usual) a bit crazy and hectic at the jkwdesigns household. My husband was away on a business trip for two weeks, and again, as usual, the timing couldn’t have been better. :-p With all 3 kids’ birthdays in February as well as Valentine’s Day and all the crafting that (obviously) has to happen… Thankfully, today wraps up the Valentine’s crafting, so now I just have to make it through the next 4 days to bid farewell to this year’s birthday festivities. Then I can breathe. I can’t wait to share photos and some free printables from the boys’ Star Wars (surprised??) themed birthday party.
Until then… Here’s a little (free) love to hold you over. 😉
Happy New Year from Seoul, South Korea! I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post–the past month has been an absolute whirlwind of activity. As a mother of kindergarteners, I have experienced my very first Winter Break, and let me tell you… It wasn’t pretty. My boys were BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS and craved the daily activities, the friends, and the stimulation of school. In the meantime, I was running around like a crazy person trying to make sure that everything was PERFECT for Christmas, mostly because I know that we only have a precious few Christmases before my kids stop believing in the MAGIC of the holidays (see previous post).
So basically, this control-freak, Type-A mom was desperately trying to make sure that EVERY. LITTLE. THING. was in perfect order. By the end of their two-week reprieve from school, I was just about ready to kick them out the door and return to the (relative) calm of our day-to-day routine. Except we had friends come for a 12-day long visit with their incredibly adorable 9 month old baby, which made me even crazier because I was basically smacked in the face with baby fever and the slightly depressing (but also exhilarating) realization that I would never again have a sweet little baby to snuggle and nurse and make completely ridiculous noises and faces at–just for a perfect gummy, toothless grin. My husband commented several times within the first hour of our houseguests’ arrival that I was acting like a crazy person. He only stopped teasing me when he realized what a lunatic he looked like every time he got a hold of the baby. After a few hours of baby time, both the husband and I agreed–thank goodness we’ve both been “fixed” or we’d TOTALLY be talking about having another baby! My youngest would beg to differ though. She was not terribly pleased with mommy’s attention being diverted to the new baby in the house. 😉
Anyway, with all the excitement in the house and the fact that I was pretty much blinded by the baby cuteness, I completely forgot that the boys’ first week back in school was MY WEEK TO PREPARE CLASS SNACKS! I remembered as the kids were leaving for school Monday morning, and since the commissary is closed on Mondays, my options were limited. I sent my husband to the shoppette/liquor store and literally told him, “I don’t care what kind of junk it is. We have to send SOMETHING!” Feeling my crazy-mom panic, he assured me that all would be fine, and he wouldn’t let on to Mrs. S, the boys’ teacher, that I had forgotten.
Since Day 1 consisted of Cheez Its and Rice Krispie Treats (the pre-packaged variety that I will assume absolutely no responsibility for thanks to my husband’s self-sacrifice in the name of marital bliss), I had to step up my game and make up for my failure to deliver fun and nutritious snacks for my children and their classmates because this is the type of thing that only a crazy lady would worry about. Tuesday, I was able to deliver fruit from our local produce market (bananas, apple slices and clementines). Monday is really The Worst Day for the commissary to be closed. 🙁
Since I was (finally) able to get to the store on Tuesday, Wednesday, was more fun for me to put together, and much more fun for the kids to eat! When my boys came home from school, they were super excited to tell me about what a big hit the snacks were and what they built with their grapes, pretzels and cheese sticks! Small cubes of cheese would have worked well too as well as crackers of various sizes and other fruit (blueberries, strawberries, banana slices, oranges, etc.). So here’s a simple little printable to throw in the baggie along with edible “building” supplies!
For Day 4 of my frantic snack-making, I decided on my boys’ all-time favorite treat–S’mores. But without the fire and melted marshmallows, which seasoned s’mores-lovers may balk at, but thankfully, my audience consisted of a bunch of 5 year olds, so no one complained about the lack of dangerous, hot, burning embers in the classroom.
Delicious make-it-yourself mini s’mores can be made with Teddy Grahams, mini marshmallows and chocolate chip morsels. As my boys would say, “Easy peasy!”
Click here to download the mini s’mores printable: Mini Smores
And finally, to round out my week of snack-making hell fun, I made cheese and veggie muffins. I had originally planned to make these delicious and nutritious muffins for Thursday and give the kiddos the mini s’mores as a Friday/End of Week treat, but I failed to remember (until after the groceries were purchased) that my miserably small Korean oven can only handle one muffin pan at a time, so I needed the extra time to bake 4 dozen muffins. And please excuse my lack of a photo of the muffins. I was too busy taking photos of a certain adorable 9 month old. 😉 But you can take my word for it–they’re pretty and colorful!
Cheese and Veggie Muffins
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 diced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen corn (defrosted)
1 cup frozen chopped spinach (defrosted)
6 slices of white bread (cut into small cubes)
salt and pepper to taste
Makes approx. 1 dozen regular-sized muffins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin/cupcake pan with non-stick spray. Do not use paper cupcake wrappers. The paper will stick to the muffins and will not come off easily.
2. Thoroughly combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
4. Bake for approximately 20 minutes (or until tops of muffins are golden brown).
Easy peasy! 😉
I actually have no idea how well these muffins went over with the kids. My children will eat anything and everything, including spinach and red bell peppers. However, the cheesiness of the muffins mask the taste of the (healthy) veggies, so I’d say there’s a decent chance that non-veggie lovers would be willing to give it a try. When I make these muffins for my family, I also add BACON because… well, bacon. Just chop up some cooked (but not crispy) bacon and add to the mix.
Now that my houseguests have gone home and my week of snack responsibilities have ended… I can return to the lunacy of the everyday that is my life with three kids. 😉
My husband has always been impossible to shop for. Several years ago, I forced him to put together an Amazon Wish List, so whenever a birthday or holiday rolls around, I go to his wish list and buy him a few things from the list. Not terribly fun or romantic. This year, his wish list is sparse. Only 2 items! One of which is a really expensive computer/network/high-tech item (I don’t even know what it does) that he specifically told me not to buy because he’s not ready to set it all up yet. :-/ Gee… Thanks! So in a sad attempt to make sure that he has SOMETHING under the tree to unwrap Christmas morning, I bought him some socks and underwear.
After some thought though… I decided to make him something fun. Something that I know he’ll get a kick out of. Something unexpected! And since so many of my friends have been talking about how hard it is to shop for their husbands, I’m sharing! 🙂
Presenting The Naughty and Nice Coupon Book! It’s pretty self-explanatory. 😉
The free printable is a 2-page PDF that includes the two pages pictured above. Just print it out, write in things you’re willing to do for the special person in your life, cut them out, punch holes, tie with a ribbon and VOILA! You’ve got a fun-for-the-both-of-you gift!