Splash Bash – Last Day of School Water Party

Hello Summer!

Well, almost summer here.  The kids still have one more week left of school but the countdown has certainly begun and I’m nearly as excited for the change in routine as the kids are.  Oh how great to get a later start on the mornings, and to not have to wait until the kids are out the door in order to get a chance to take a shower!  (someone remind me of this feeling on one of those long summer afternoons when the kids are “bored” or constantly bickering!)

This past weekend the kids and I sat down to work on our Summer Bucket List – which has become one of our yearly traditions.  (you can see last year’s list HERE and I will post this year’s soon!)  As we were talking I noticed a theme emerging from their suggestions – fun time with friends.  I wondered for a second if my kids have been feeling…socially deprived…?  (and if so, do I lose Mom Points for that? 😉  ) but quickly realized it was just a manifestation of their fun-loving, outgoing sides which I would like to help them nurture.  Being a bit of an introvert myself, I admire that side of their personalities while at the same time I have to subvert my own desire for calm and quiet in order to give them the chance to explore that.  So we made a list of things they wanted to do with friends and party ideas and I agreed to let them host something on a regular basis.

Splash Bash Fun and Easy Summer party or end of the school year party Alaynas CreationsFirst up on their list – a party for the last day of school!  This is something we did a few times in our old neighorhood but didn’t follow through with last year and Kaitlyn, in particular, was very excited about hosting something.  She quickly decided on a water theme (after seeing an idea on Pinterest for SlipNSlide baseball a few days before) and in less than 30 minutes we not only had a plan and menu ideas, but had created and printed out the invitations too.

Summer Water Party Splash into Summer End of the School Year party invitation AlaynasCreations

I found the Splash clip art on the internet then simply added the wording over the top and printed everything onto cardstock (4 to a page).  The back side of the invitation holds all the details:  time, date, location, etc.

Splash Bash Summer Water Party Invitation Easy DIY invite for a fun and inexpensive summer party AlaynasCreations

We checked the weather forecast and so far it looks like we will have sunshine and decent temperatures – yay!  That means we can go ahead with our ideas for SlipNSlide kickball, water gun target shooting and Splash Ball lacrosse.  (actually we don’t know how to play lacrosse but we do have a couple of sticks and they can play catch)  Kaitlyn helped me pick up supplies and snacks last night so we’re all set to party.  Bring on the last day of school and bring on SUMMER!

I’ll be sure to post party details after the event – check back soon!  Or check out some of our other Last Day of School Traditions, End of the Year gifts for teachers and kids (Buckets of Fun idea or Teacher Gifts in a Cup ideas) or Summer Fun Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.

Linking to:  Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party,

Bucket Full of Summer Fun

Thanks for helping me have a great year Last Day of School Thank You Gift for Teacher AlaynasCreations

Hello Wednesday!  Has anyone checked their calendars lately?  And did you do a double-take (as I did) when you realized just how quickly the last day of school is approaching?!?  T-minus 15 (school) days and counting, according to my little guy on Monday, which translates to just over two weeks until school is out for the summer.  That’s a bit late for our typical school year and I know a lot of schools are finishing up even sooner than that.  So in the interest of being on the ball, ahead of the game, and all of those other clichés that help keep me from feeling stressed, I wanted to put together a fun little end of the year gift for the teachers – and do it now rather than later.

Bucket List Last Day of School Teacher Thank You Gift Idea AlaynasCreations

The first place I always turn for inspiration is my Pinterest Boards and it wasn’t long before I ran across this great printable Bucket List tag.  So cute – and half the work is already done for me!  So I printed it out and took a quick trip to the dollar store.

Last Day of School Bucket List Teacher Gift Idea AlaynasCreaions

Don’t you just love the dollar store?  I never leave there with just the items on my list, but I sure do have fun while I wander – and my kids or husband usually get some fun treat out of the deal.  For this project I simply let myself wander, repeating the thoughts “summer…bucket list…summer” as the kids and I wandered through the store.  In the end my collection included a fun pair of sunglasses, sunscreen, Sunny-D (catching the theme here, aren’t we?), a bag of gummy bears (Tyler’s pick for his teacher when I told him we needed a treat to add to the bucket), and some small buckets.
*the dollar store is my absolute favorite place to find inexpensive containers for gift baskets.


Bucket List Last Day of School Teacher Thank You Gift AlaynasCreations.jpg

It looks pretty good all put together doesn’t it?  Hopefully the teachers will like it and if not, they’ll still appreciate the sentiment.

Last Day of School Bucket of Fun for Summer gift idea for the kids AlaynasCreations

I had purchased the buckets in a set of three so I had one leftover after putting together the two teacher gifts.  I decided it would be great to use for a little Bucket of Fun for my kids on the last day of school.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted in the bucket so I took a look at what I’ve done over the past few years (I wrote a blog post about some of our traditions last year.  You can find it HERE)…then decided that wasn’t really helpful since my kids already had those items. 😛  So plan B was to just let things jump out at me and it worked great.  One day at the grocery store I ran across those Milk Magic flavoring straws – Cotton Candy flavored!  That’s something I knew my kids would love to try, so I picked them up.  Another day Tyler was with me at the store and spotted the Slushies on the shelf.  I told him we didn’t need them that day, then when he turned around I snuck them into the cart under the vegetables.  And this past Sunday the bubble wands caught my daughter’s eye while we were looking for a birthday gift for a girl in Tyler’s class.  12 years old and she still thinks bubble wands are fun – great!  So I let her grab the 5 pack, gave two to the kids to use that afternoon, put one in the birthday gift, and kept the other 2 for the bucket.  Perfect.

Last Day of School Summer Bucket Quick and inexpensive gift basket idea for the kids or teachers at the end of the school year AlaynasCreations

Bring on the last day of school because we are now ready for it!  Are you??  Maybe not, but just think of all those days we might be able to sleep in a bit instead of rushing out the door to school, and no homework and… 😉

For more Last Day of School (or teacher appreciation) gift ideas or End of School traditions with the kiddos feel free to check out:
End of the Year Teacher Gifts in a Cup (my most Pinned blog post on Pinterest for the past month!)
Super Powered Teacher Gift
Crazy Cool Teacher Gift (this one was for Valentine’s Day but I think a “stay cool” spin on this idea would be awesome)
-my Last Day of School Traditions over the past few years


Linking to:  R&R Wednesdays, Home Matters Linky Party,

Favorite Things – Deployment Care Package #2

Military Cart Package Idea Brown Paper Packages Tied up with String Filled with a Few of Your Favorite Things AlaynasCreations

One of my goals for this month:  finish posting photos of all the deployment care packages I have sent out to this point.  We are more than three months into this deployment and I have sent out a care package approximately every two weeks, yet I have only posted about one?!  Unheard of for a blogger 😉  So I’ll keep this short and simple in the interest of actually getting it done instead of putting off a post for yet another day.

I decided the theme for my second care package would be “Favorite Things.”  I’ve always be attracted to the favorite things collections for gifts and even put together a Favorite Things party with friends just for fun (years ago).  And what an easy idea this one was – it came together in no time and the only effort required to make it look all cute was wrapping each gift in brown paper, tieing each with string, and adding the saying “Brown paper packages tied up with strings, filled with a few of your favorite things” (just in case he needed a little help figuring out the theme of the care package).  No extra decorations needed – yay!

Care Package Idea a Collection of Favorite Things AlaynasCreations

Inside the box was a collection of his favorite candies and snacks along with a few things to keep him busy as we know that a lot of deployments are spent just marking time, especially on their days “off” when the only things available to do for entertainment are laundry and working out.  My husband isn’t a big reader, but I’ve found that he will enjoy books that are based on things he likes to watch and Longmire is one of his current favorite TV series, so I got him a book with that theme.  I also included a set of stationary, figuring it was something he should have near the beginning of the deployment in order to send plenty of letters home, and it fit with the theme in the sense that everyone’s favorite thing when away from home is receiving letters from loved ones.  And did you spot the cheese slicer in the photo?  The husband commented on that one in particular as being such a great idea for me to think to include along with the self-stable cheese.  You never know what they do/don’t have access to at any given time.
The list of contents in the box include:  stationary set, book to read, small book of Sudoku puzzles, drink mixes for flavoring bottled water (I’m told that Orange Cream flavored Mio is a really good one), tiny bottles of Tabasco, cheese and crackers (and the cheese slicer!), Whoppers and Milky Way candy bars (some of his standbys along with a couple of unique flavor twists for variety), chewing gum, jerky, and a bar of gourmet chocolate with bacon (what guy doesn’t love bacon?!).
Other items you may want to include would be movies, card games, a Spotify playlist preloaded with favorite songs.  This last one was something my daughter was on board with but somehow we never found the time to pull it off but I’m keeping it in mind for some future care package.

A Few of Your Favorite Things Care Package Idea

With Father’s Day coming up, even if your guy isn’t off on deployment or living long distance, wouldn’t this make a fun Father’s Day gift basket idea?
What are some of your favorite things?  Any ideas you would add to the list?
As always, if you are looking for more care package ideas I’m constantly adding my favorites to my Care Package Pinterest Board or check out some of my other blog posts:
Deployment Survival Kit (Care Package #1)

Sharing with:  R&R Wednesdays, Home Matters Linky Party,

May the 4th – Mini Care Package

May the 4th!  Happy Star Wars Day! 😉

I just realized what day it was when the husband sent me a text saying he likes the “4th notes” I sent in his last care package.  Bonus points to me for thinking ahead, but do I lose points if I forget about it in real life? (ha!)  This week has so many things packed into it, I guess this one didn’t officially make it onto my calendar.  Not a big deal either way, but my husband has started to turn the kids into Star Wars fans and I’m sure they would have loved a little something special too.  At the very least I could have save the rest of the Star Wars Fruit Snacks instead of letting the little guy tear into them right away.  Or I could pull together something before they get home from school today if I really felt like it, but currently I am in my paint clothes with a bathroom vanity half-way repainted.  So maybe next year.

But before I forget again, here’s a peak at what I included in the Star Wars Mini Care Package I sent to the husband.

May the 4th Mini Care Package Idea Star Wars Themed small care package idea May the Force Be With You AlaynasCreations

Included in the package:  Star Wars Themed Fruit Snacks, a tiny tin container filled with Q-tips (they were at the Dollar Tree for anyone that wants to grab one before they’re gone), and these adorable Star Wars note cards (intended for Project Life-type scrapbooking, I’m sure.  Printable found HERE) on which the kids and I each wrote a quick note.

There you have it – easy peasy and a great way to let the Star Wars fan in my life know I was thinking about him.  Now back to my regularly scheduled paint session.  *sigh*
And May the Force Be With You Today 😉
*Want more care package ideas?  Check out my first care package idea for this deployment, take a peek at my Care Package Pinterest Board, or check back in soon as I will be posting many more ideas as soon as I get the chance!

April Showers Bring May Flowers – Spring Tulip Wreath Tutorial


That cliché about April Showers?  Yeah – totally true to form this year.  We have had a very wet April and just come off more than a week straight of rain and snow (sometimes both in the same day!) and today’s wonderful sunny weather has been such a welcome change.  Hello May.

Spring is my favorite season from the slightly warmer weather and everything starting to turn green and grow to that uncontrollable urge to freshen things up.  Around here Spring Fever has turned into what I am now officially terming Spring DIY Fever.  Forget the Spring Cleaning, over the last few weeks I have been systematically giving my parents’ house an update.  Painting walls, patching holes, even minor electrical fixes – all by my little self!  As of last week I have completely repainted all of the rooms in the basement and have moved on to the upstairs bathroom this week.  (Tons and tons of blog post fodder there – bet you can’t wait!)

April Showers Bring May Flowers Tutorial for Spring Tulip Wreath
In among all of that I have missed working on some smaller craft projects so I took some time out from the DIY and whipped up a knock of version of the Spring Tulip Wreath my mom has been eyeing at Pier 1.  Or does that count as DIY too?  Either way, I did it and am happy to share not only the wreath but also a quick tutorial for the wreath to – just for you!  And did I mention it costs less than $20?

Make your own spring tulip wreath similar to Pier 1 for under $20 AlaynasCreations

First item of business was of course, to acquire copious amount of tulips in shades of pink and white.  The cost for silk flowers can add up really quickly so I hit up the dollar store.  They actually have pretty decent flowers for $1 a bunch, but selection can vary quite a bit.  The store only had 2-3 bunches of tulips so I picked up the most tulip-looking bunches of roses I could find too.  The cashier thought he should point out that Valentines Day was long over – guess he doesn’t run into crafty wreath makers like us often enough 😉

Materials needed:  1 grapevine wreath frame from the craft storeand 10-15 bunches of flowers.  At $4 for the grapevine wreath base and $1 per bunch of flowers that puts your total cost under $20 – as promised!

Spring Tulip Wreath altered dollar store silk flowers alaynascreations

Once I sat down to work with the flowers I decided the roses could use a little tweaking to look even more tulip-like so I removed some of the interior petals, cut off that spiky green stuff around the base of the flower and removed the leaves.  Not bad for a quick fix, eh?

Tutorial How to Make a Spring Tulip Wreath like Pier One for Under $20
Step two:  grab a grapevine wreath form, heat up your glue gun and start layering the flowers onto the wreath form.  I just picked a place to start and worked my way around the circle, making sure to vary the colors and flowers for a random effect.  I removed the leaves from the tulips, but I do like the look of the greenery in among the flowers so I kept the rest of the leaves on the tulips and added in some grassy pieces that had been in some of the flower bunches.

Pretty soon the wreath looked like this:
Making your own Spring Tulip Wreath is easy and inexpensive using this tutorial AlaynasCreations

Spring Tulip Wreath Tutorial is quick and easy and inexpensive AlaynasCreations

Pretty.  I might have to make one for myself next year.  I just might…

Oh and in case you haven’t thought about it – this would make a wonderful Mother’s Day gift, wouldn’t it?  That’s coming up in less than a week – can you believe it?!

As always, if you create your own wreath I would love to hear about it and see photos.  Comments always welcome 😉


Super Powered Teacher – Teacher Appreciation Gift Basket

Teacher Appreciation Gift Basket Super Teacher Super Powered Teacher End of the School Year Gift

You know what next week is, right?  Teacher appreciation.  And Mother’s Day and my daughter has a band concert and our own personal Paint Night that weekend (three sessions of which I somehow ended up being in charge of setting up and playing hostess for – more on that later if I don’t take another unplanned two month blog break).  Busy week, and that means it’s time to look ahead and do as much prep work as I can now.

Super Teacher Teacher Appreciation Gift Tag AlaynasCreations

Luckily, I got all enthused about the idea I found for Teacher Appreciation gifts this year and I already have them put together and they are all set to deliver.  I’ve run across the saying “I teach, what’s your Super Power?” a few times in the last couple of years and recently it just clicked.  Then I ran across THIS adorable printable tag (while browsing my existing Pinterest Board haha) and that clinched it.  A quick brainstorming session and a spin through the grocery store and I had everything I needed for a cute gift basket.

Super Powered Teacher Teacher Appreciation Gift Basket Teacher End of School Year Gift

Inside the basket:  Powerade, Super Hero themed microwave popcorn, Super Hero themed travel tissues, and a pack of teacher reward stickers with plenty of “super” stickers.  You could use anything that had the word Super, Power, or anything Super Hero themed (and with all the new movie releases for Avengers, Batman/Superman and so on there are a lot of options out there).
*Quick tip:  check your local dollar store for cute and affordable baskets and containers.

A quick note from the kiddos completed the basket.

I am a teacher What is your Super Power Tag AlaynasCreations

Teacher Appreciation Gift Basket Super Power Teacher

The teachers will love it, right?  Or at least they’ll appreciate the effort 😉

For more Teacher Appreciation or End of the School Year gift ideas check out some of my past ideas:
Teacher Gifts In a Cup
End of the Year Countdown Blocks
More Teacher Appreciation Ideas
Bucket of Summer Fun Gift Idea for last day of school for teachers and children

Or check out my Back To School Pinterest Board where I am constantly adding any fun ideas I run across.

Deployment Care Package #1


I won’t say that deployment is enjoyable – in fact, you all know it is far from that.  However, in my typical optimistic get-it-done fashion (when I’m not feeling sick or tired, that is) I choose to make the best of the situation and for me that usually means creating something.  So bring on the care packages.  Sending my husband a box of goodies not only makes me feel like I’m “doing something” but helps give my energies and focus a creative outlet, while at the same time being one of the few ways in which I can send a little fun and joy to the husband overseas.

As with all my endeavors, I started out by looking for a few ideas on Pinterest to get me started (see my Care Package Pinterest Board HERE) and quickly had more than enough ideas to get me through the next few months and well beyond.  I realized I could quickly spin out of control (and spend a lot of money) if I didn’t develope a bit of a system so I am reining myself in and only sending one Flat Rate package every two weeks.  I knew I wanted to specifically include a few things like some Open When Envelopes and a Long Distance Date Night idea at least once a month (more on both of those soon) along with treats and snacks, that I wanted to make it upbeat and comical as much as possible, and that I wanted to include some involvement from the kids every time.  And as an unique signature, I am including a couple oversized Kisses in each package.  (I’m not sure if he’s noticed – he hasn’t commented on them so far)

Giant Hershey's Kiss for Care Package Deployment gift ideas AlaynasCreations

The first care package I put together was a bit random.  I had considered doing some sort of Deployment Survival Kit, but in the end we went with kind of an eclectic selection of items for the first box.  My husband’s first request was for drink mixes as they almost exclusively only have access to bottled water so I made sure to include a selection of those (and will continue to add a few to every package from here on out) as well as a couple of fun treats.

Deployment Care Package Ideas First Care Package with Open When Envelopes treats and Date Night ideas AlaynasCreations

Open When Envelopes for Deployment Care Packages and Long Distance Relationships AlaynasCreations

If you have spent even a little time online looking at care package ideas, I’m sure you’ve run across the concept of the “open when” envelopes.  I think this is a great idea and knew I wanted to include a small set of these in the first care package we sent off.  Half a dozen envelopes seemed like a good goal so I picked my top six favorite themes for the envelopes (I will post detail photos of what I put in each one soon!).
My topics included:
Open when – you’re missing me, you’re missing the kids, you’re feeling stressed, you’re feeling sick, you’re having a good day, and when you need to laugh.

Open When Envelopes for Deployment Care Package Ideas AlaynasCreations

Next up was an Open When envelope for Valentines Day, since we sent out this package around the end of January.
Open When It's Valentine's Day Open When Envelopes for Care Package Long distance Valentines gift idea AlaynasCreations
We included hand-made Valentines from the kids, a couple of printable funny Valentines cards from me, a small box of chocolates (a must for V-day), a cute little stuffed animal and a DIY Balloon Bouquet.

Care Package Idea send him or her a cuddly stuffed animal that has been spritzed with perfume or cologne for your loved one to cuddle when they miss you

Kaitlyn made the cute little tag and I made sure he was drenched in perfume 😉

Care Package Idea Balloon Bouquet for Valentines or Birthday or other special occasion Blow up balloons and write message on them then uninflate and send in envelope

For the balloon bouquet, we inflated each balloon and wrote a note or something fun on each one then let the air out so we could ship them without taking up much room.  The husband can then inflate them to read the messages.

Balloon Bouquet for Care Package is a great idea for Valentines Birthday or other special occasion

As I mentioned, it is also my intention to include some sort of “date night” once a month.  I went with an easy one for this first box – watching one of our latest TV obsessions.  We recently discovered the Arrow series on Netflix and it has been our custom to put the kids to bed, grab a treat we don’t want to share with the kids, and watch something on TV we wouldn’t necessarily want the kids to watch with us.  So I figured why not recreate that in a care package friendly form?  I know my husband has access to Netflix and Hulu, so it was a simple matter to find a few funny Arrow memes and put them in an envelope with a snack bag of popcorn and some hot chocolate mix (mint flavored since the packaging is green).

Date Night Envelope Watch the Arrow together long distance date in a box logo

In previous deployments I don’t remember spending much time on decorating the box, but it seems to be the trend right now to add some decorations to the inside of the box – and I’m always up for adding a little more cute-ness and fun, right?  So decorate the inside we did.  I used THIS TUTORIAL for attaching gift wrap to the inside of the box – which is pretty much just taking apart the box and adhering the wrapping paper, then putting the box back together.  Easy.
Care Package Ideas How to Decorate the inside of the box AlaynasCreations

Obviously my wrapping skills need a tiny bit more practice, but I thought message in the bottom of the box is a nice touch, don’t you?

Care Package Idea for Deployment or Long Distance Relationship Get the kids involved AlaynasCreations

And there is the final product.  It felt a bit like playing Tetris but I was able to fit everything inside the box, perfectly.  Not bad for a first attempt.  I’m sure there will many more to come in the next few months.  Any guesses on what my next theme will be?

Gender Reveal Pennant Banner

Pennant Banner for New Baby Pregnancy Gender Reveal a fun and simple way to announce your pregnancy or the arrival of your brand new little one

Nope, I’m not pregnant!  Thought I’d get that out of the way right off the bat since that is my little guy modeling the banner 😉
However, the pregnancy epidemic continues all around me and in the last couple of weeks even more friends and acquaintences have announced pregnancies.  I’m always very excited for them (and secretly glad it’s not me.  I really truly love my kids at their slightly older, more independant ages right now) and if I know them well enough I immediately start thinking of something fun to send them.

Pregnancy Countdown Blocks are a great gift for expecting parents that help make the countdown to the new baby's arrival fun and are also a great photo prop

My go-to gift for pregnant friends and family is usually a set of Pregnancy Countdown Blocks, either by themselves or in a gift basket (like this Pregnancy Survival Kit or this SuperMom themed gift basket), however, when I heard the good news a week or so ago from a very close friend I decided to change it up a bit.  That very afternoon I was rooting around in some of the boxes we are storing in the workshop and ran across a stack of beadboard triangles left over from my banner-making phase (love them!  I have beadboard pennant banners that I use every year for the kids’ birthdays like Rainbow Dance party, the Horse slumber party, or Cupcake Wars party as well as some for holidays) and inspiration struck.

It wasn’t long before I had whipped up an It’s a Girl!/It’s a Boy! double-sided beadboard pennant banner and sent it to the Mommy-To-Be.

It's a boy It's a girl photo prop for gender reveal or new baby announcement makes a great baby shower gift

It's a girl It's a boy double sided pennant banner for gender announcment photo prop

Not only is the banner a fun gift, but I figured it would be a great photo prop for a maternity gender reveal photo shoot, for a simple pregnancy announcement, for photos with the new baby, or even front porch decorations when the baby is born.  Oh – and wouldn’t it be a great addition to my Newborn Photo Prop gift basket?!…

A few details if you want to make your own:
I used scrap bead board, cut into triangles approximately 7″ high.  I drilled holes in two of the corners (a time-saving trick for this is stacking them all together and clamping them in place.  Then you can drill through all 5 at once) then sanded the edges and painted them white on both sides.
The lettering was done with vinyl using my handy dandy Silhouette machine and it was a simple matter to tie them together with some thin jute rope.  For a touch of color, I added pink and blue ribbons to the ends.  These could easily be changed out or added to when my friend finds out if she is having a boy or a girl.

See – easy enough anyone can do it!  And if you do make one, feel free to share!  I love to read comments and see photos of my ideas being put to use.  (doesn’t everyone?!)

Happy Wednesday and Happy Crafting!


Linking to:  Lou Lou Girls, Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party, BFF Open House,

Crazy Cool Valentine

Crazy Kool Valentines  Cool gift ideas for classmates and teachers

Don’t you just love it when you get inspired and then things fall together quickly, easily, and well ahead of schedule?!  After more than a month of scrambling to stay on top of things or just going with the flow and “playing” practically non-stop I have to admit that a part of me has been very happy to settle into our more regular routine this week and even better, I’ve found myself with some time to not only catch up but get ahead of a lot of things.  In the past few days I have worked on a lot of gifts, which I can’t share here (yet) but I can show off the Valentines I put together for the kids’ teachers and classmates.  A whole month before they are needed – that’s like a blogger timeline, which I am almost never ahead of the curve enough to follow 😉

With my oldest is in middle school, I only needed one set of classroom Valentines which is great because my son has a rather large class of 27 this year and that felt like plenty.  For classmate gifts, I often try to do something a little unique and with the added bonus of using something lower in sugar if possible (not that I’m one of those moms – and no offense if you are.  I just have a lot of other priorities and worrying if my kids get a little too much sugar now and then isn’t one of them).  So I was doing my usual pre-hoilday browsing through my Pinterest boards and ran across this great printable (found here) and knew that was what I wanted to do this year.  I’m all for quick and easy projects, and if someone has done the adorable prep work ahead of time, I’m all for it.

I think you're crazy kool Valentine Great non-sugar Valentines gift idea for classmates with silly straw and individual packets of Kool-Aid

It was a pretty simple matter to add the “love, Tyler” sentiment (in Paint) and print the tags out, 9 to a page. I cut a couple of slits in the tag to slide the straw through and stapled the Kool-aid packets to the back of the tag.  The whole process took under 30 minutes, most of which was done while watching Arrow with the husband (our new Go To show when we have the chance to watch TV together.  Gotta love Netflix).

Great non candy Valentine idea for classmates A silly straw and Kool-aid I think you're crazy kool Valentine

With the classmate Valentines complete, I figured I would eventually run across a great idea for the teachers – and I did!  I was in TJ Maxx the other day checking out the kitchen section since my daughter has requested some divided containers for her lunchbox.  In the past I have put together quite a few great teacher gifts using cups, mugs, or water bottles (see those fun ideas here and here and here), but having just done something like that for the current set of teachers for Christmas (see this idea) I hit the container aisle before the glass/bottle aisle and discovered these fantastic lunchbox containers with the ice packs in their lids.  And it hit me – these are quite literally “cool” and fit in perfectly with the theme I already had going on with the classmate Valentines – how perfect is that?!  Not only could I use the same tags, but I felt like the lunchbox containers were something the teachers would actually have a use for and not something they would typically be given as a gift.  So I grabbed a set and split it in half for the two teachers.

Lunchbox containers with ice pack in the lid are a great gift idea for teachers I think you're crazy cool Valentine

Again, a quick change to the tags I already had – changing the “kool” to “cool”  (the font is called Jokerman, in case you are wondering) and tied them together with ribbon.  Easy peasy!  And totally adorable, right?

Lunchbox containers with ice pack in the lid are a great gift idea for teachers I think you're crazy cool Valentine

I can now sit back and wait for Valentine’s Day without worrying about scrambling for an idea at the last minute – and you can too!  I’d love to hear about it (and see photos!) if you use this idea, or if you have a great idea I can use for next year 😉

Next up on the list of things to plan and create – my very first care package for this deployment.  Oh boy…
Linking to: Tip Me Tuesday, Made By You Monday, Lou Lou Girls, Home Matters Party, Pretty Pintastic Party, BFF Open House,

Hello 2016

hELLO 2016 Snow and sun flair behind the trees AlaynasCreations

Hello 2016.

I didn’t intend to take a three week break from blogging – it just kind of happened and I suppose it was a natural break.  Once again we are in a transition phase, kind of closing up a chapter of our lives and starting in on a new one and it works out nicely that it coincides with the new year.  My husband will be leaving on a military deployment SOON so I will be shifting into “single parent” mode and all that goes along with it (as well as putting together some AWESOME care package ideas so stay tuned!).  Since the husband was my carpenter for the laundry drying racks we are also putting the Etsy shop into hibernation.  I’m not sure yet if that is temporary or permanent, but I do know that it is a relief to be able to put my concentration and energies more fully into everything else right now.  In November we did a massive build with the rest of our supplies and I am happy to report that as of last night the last lonely drying rack in our inventory is SOLD.

My husband was out of town for training most of December so when he got home a couple of days before Christmas we enthusiastically jumped into Family Time mode and have been having a blast.  If we had a Winter Bucket List we probably would have checked off most of it in the last few weeks.  We did all the Christmas festivities and parties, took the kids snowmobiling, had sledding parties, ice skating, tubing, enjoyed many cups of hot cocoa and learned the importance of wearing ski masks in subzero weather, saw the much-anticipated new Star Wars movie, have had more than our share of yummy meals out, shopping, date nights, and even ran away for a night for some extended one on one time with the husband. It’s been fun and wonderful and…exhausting.  We have another four day weekend coming up (geesh, already?!) and I have no idea what’s left on the list of family fun and entertainment ideas but I suppose we will figure something out.  Then I’m pretty sure I will willingly and happily jump into our “new normal” routine.

In among all of that I really have been putting a lot of thought into shifting gears and doing some of my typical end of the year introspection.  I realized I had hit the end of my 101 in 1001 List time frame (wow time flies!), and will be posting a new list soon.  And, of course, I have chosen my Word for 2016 and signed up for another round of Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop (the One Little Word concept is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years now.  For those of you not familiar with it, as opposed to setting goals or resolutions, it is simply selecting a word for the year that resonates with you and using that to focus and explore in your life) and have put a lot of thought into where I am heading this year.  I know 2016 is going to be a big one for personal endurance with Sam being deployed for at least the first half of the year and really wanting to get the approvals for the new house going (all by myself).  I foresee plenty of work, plenty of frustrations, and I want to be able to stay centered and calm – and happy and peaceful despite anything I may be dealing with.  The giant list of To Dos will get done (mostly) and the time will pass, but I want my efforts to be not on making it to some sort of finish line but on my state of mind.  To not spend my time wishing for something different.  To not be overwhelmed with the big picture but to know that I only have to take it one step at a time and I can handle that. I also know that I really want to focus on the people in my life.  To give them more of what they may be needing – love, kindness, attention, time.

The word I have chosen for this year is


I want to give love, give kindness, give joy, to actively decide that whatever I am doing with my time and energy at any particular moment is something I am giving freely, willingly, and happily.

I love that the word give can be used in so many ways – give it all you’ve got, give it a chance, give yourself a break – and that all of them are positive.  I also love that it can be applied to the physical as in actually giving gifts (and I have oh-so-many ideas for that already from Rand Acts of Kindess to big guestures) and to the less tangible things like time and acceptance.  It’s a big concept and I’m looking forward to exploring it this year.

What’s even more fun is that my 12 year old is really into the concept this year too.  She has chosen her own word and already made a magnet for the fridge as well as led a conversation with the rest of the family and insisted they all choose words.  It’s fun to see her take some initiative an to see her enthusiasm, no matter how much or how little time she spends exploring her word later on.

Do you have a word for this year?  A goal or list of goals?  I would love to hear more about it – please share!  And feel free to check out the Pinterest board where I will be saving all my quotes and ideas for Giving this year.  (Who doesn’t love Pinterest right?!)

And as always, have a Happy Wednesday! 😉

Linking to:  Lou Lou Girls,