5.14.2015

End of the Year Teacher Gifts: DIY Mason Jar Koozie Sleeve Tutorial

The madness has to stop.

The ideas I see on Pinterest for teacher gifts make me want to die a thousand deaths. The vast majority are pun-based, classroom-themed, or useless--some even manage to achieve all of the above. Y'all, 7 red gummi fish in a baggie with You're the Swedish teacher I could have asked for! printed in crayon font is NOT showing appreciation. It's a cop out not even worth the thank you note she now has to write you.

Both my parents were teachers their entire professional lives. My dad received more educator-themed neckties that you can shake a #2 pencil at (what color belt even matches school busses and apples?!?!). They did not want or need paraphernalia to remind them of their careers. 

Hell, I love the Excel spreadsheets I do at my job (seriously), but I don't need a hoodie that says "Keep Calm and Pivot Table On."  Okay, fair enough, I would totally wear that.

Most years I take the easy way out and just get the kids' teachers gift cards. I know they will be appreciated, used, and worst-case can be happily regifted (unlike the clay dachshund brooch my mom once received for a job well done WUT). But with 6 teachers between them, we are never able to give each one an amount that truly shows our love and appreciation for putting up with and surviving pouring into our kids so lovingly the entire year.

This year I promised myself I would use my sewing skills to make something that is genuinely useful and beautiful--and would want myself--to give each of the teachers, without spending an eternity or fortune. I am low on funds and hours but high on teacher love and appreciation!

I managed to do it for $5 per gift! Join me, won't you?



Teacher gifts should only suck if it involves a straw.

I love drinking out of a mason jar. I daily drink 4 or 5 rounds of water in mine, sometimes will do iced coffee, and have been known to naughty friends who tote a festive gin & tonic+lime inside. The one thing I hate about my jar is the condensation/sweating. I don't like wet hands or puddles on my table/desk.

So I whipped up a little koozie for myself this summer and it made all the difference. I find myself feeling actual sadness when I leave mine at home and have to drink out of a cup (or even a naked mason jar) at work. I figured this was enough love to warrant gifting the teachers with one of their own.

You can get the jars for a dollar and change each at craft stores with a coupon, or just buy a bunch at a time from Amazon and never leave home--like a good little hermit introvert/me. I like the 24oz tall, wide mouth Ball jars because they fit in my cars' cupholders as well as in my hand and they hold plenty (that's three liquid cups per fill-up, sports fans!), but this tutorial will work for any size. I got my colorful, resuable BPA free straws and lids here  at very reasonable prices (but I think craft stores sell them as well).

* I don't sell these in my Etsy shop, but there are sellers who make very similar versions. I recommend this shop if you'd prefer to buy your koozies.*


TUTORIAL:


SUPPLIES:

- 2- 2 inch pieces of half-inch wide elastic
- 8 x 10" rectangle of fabric 
- 4 x 10" rectangle of batting, (I like insulbrite because it's thermal and keeps cold in-you can get enough for 10 koozies for like $2 at Joann)

***If using a different size jar, simply adjust your measurements. Whatever the circumference of your jar is, that will be the long side of your fabric (my jar is 10" around). However wide you want your finished koozie to be: add a half inch to that and double it for the fabric rectangle width (my koozie is 3.5" finished, therefore the 8" width of my fabric). The batting will be the same length as fabric and half the width.Use same elastic measurements.  EASY!***

PICKING FABRICS: Let your kids help pick the fabrics for each teacher to give them some ownership of the process and the gift. Ask why each choice makes them think of that particular teacher so they can tell her themselves when they give it.  MOST IMPORTANTLY: resist the urge to find a fabric with multicultural skin-toned children holding hands.

1. Fold your fabric along the long edge, putting right sides together. Lay this on top of the batting. In between the 2 fabric layers, place your two elastic pieces--about 3/4 inch away from the top and bottom corners:
  

2. Pin in place, being sure to catch the elastic pieces. (also: be dazzled by my glittery ironing board cover):


3. Sew around edges, leaving 3" opening on the short end without elastic, and front/backstitching at start and stop points.:


Clip corners and trim seam allowance:

Email me for my manicure tips!

5. Turn right side out, making sure you are turning the batting layer to the inside and the fabrics to the outside. If your batting ends up outside, go back and try again:


6. Press:


7. Trim back the batting around the open section of your rectangle and then press the raw edge under to match the seam allowance:



8. Topstitch around your koozie 1/8" from edge back/front stitching at your opening (just like before). DO NOT  TOPSTITCH THE OPENING. (sorry, no photo of this step.

9. Put your koozie around your jar (icewater already inside optional), and hold the elastic in place where it naturally falls and then stretch it a little bit since we will want a secure fit) and then mark where the end of the koozie hits the elastic when stretched. (*I got my steps mixed up when I was shooting this so mine isnt topstitched below, but yours will be!)


 10. tuck elastic end inside the pressed opening--just far enough so that it meets up with the mark you just made:


11. Pin in place. STOP HERE IF YOU HATE YOUR KIDS TEACHER because this little contraption would be very painful and mean.


12. Finagle the pinned portion under your needle (it's kinda tricky because of the small circumference) and complete the topstitching to finish and close the open part, as well as trap the elastic inside. I start back farther than necessary and overlap my previous topstitching to make sure the line in continuous.  Make sure you are keeping the opposite side of the kooze out from under your needle (it may be easier to do steps 11 & 12 one at a time for each piece of elastic):



13. Snip your threads and slide her on. It may seem too snug at first, but when your sleeve starts absorbing the condensation, I've found it stretched a bit, so too tight is better than too loose.



Selfishly keep this one for yourself and then make a bunch more for anyone you need to show some love to:



Just in case they might hate the jar, play it safe with a giftcard inside too!



I couldn't resist trying to redeem the level of wordplay in teacher gifts, by adding these tags:

Right?  Because it's a drinking glass? And because my kids can drive you to alcohol? And because of the Starbucks card? See, it's a choose your own adventure triple entendre, free of charge.

"Cheers to a great year!" is boring but less potentially offensive if you wanna go that direction.

The kids can decorate the bags (block lettering isnt my life's calling, I guess).

Cost breakdown per gift:

$.2.00 - Jar: ($17.99 for 9 pack)
$3.51 - Straw with matching grommet lid:  ($35.10 shipped for 10 sets)
$.50 - Cost of Insulbrite and fabric (I actually had these on hand, but seriously it's pennies for the amount needed)
$0 - 3 episodes of Bob's Burgers on Netflix while I sew.
MY HEART PIECES - because teachers are saints

$5.51 each before the giftcard, for a gift that I would love to receive, and therefore am glad to do unto others. Or you could do what one student of my parents did, and get them this:

Not Kidding, the actually got this. (I found this picture on eBay because the one my parents were given was regifted away in a White Elephant game long ago).

What's the best/worst teacher gift you've ever witnessed?


4.30.2015

Partial30

There's just no sugar-coating it (pun): we quit our Whole30 early. 

I promised myself I would not be a last-week-quitter when we undertook this endeavor, and felt a tad like a loser that I couldn't follow all the way through.

So what did it? An errant bite of sharp cheddar? One illicit lick of an ice cream cone? An irresistible cocktail?

No, it was my house.

I am in no way suggesting that I am off the hook for quitting, but I am proud that I didn't quit by giving in to a craving. 

On Monday the 20th we found out that the photographer would be coming Tuesday and again on Wednesday to shoot the house for our listing. This meant that we started OCD cleaning everything that night. 

Whole30 requires a lot of two things: planning and cooking. With our brains suddenly (we had no idea in March that we would even be contemplating moving any time soon) plunged into homeselling mode, there was no room left over for meal plans. And with the kitchen on DEFCON ULTRA levels of cleanliness ("LAYLA IS THAT A CORNER OF A CHEEZ-IT ON THE FLOOR?! DISOWN!"), cooking hearty skillets of sizzling, spattering meat n' veg was not happening even if we'd had our brains together enough to try it. With no energy and an inability to cook, we were barely limping along with packaged stuff that was compliant.

Cleaning the gutters blows (see what I did there?)

Wednesday the 22nd after he had slaved making our tropical rainforest of a backyard look so prime, Jesse decided to throw in the towel. His reasoning was pretty right on: " I don't think the point of Whole30 is to eat nothing but Larabars for two straight days, and that's what I have done. I am not getting healthier like this."

True dat. And what did he choose to break his Whole30 with? A bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and a fistful of the aforementioned cheez-its. Not quite the delicacies we had been fantasizing about for three weeks, but home-prep had brought him low.

I decided to try to carry on. I was still doing the pharisaical, legalistic Whole30 where I was "technically" following the rules but not the spirit of the program (aka larabars and plantain chips and chicken meatballs). But who cares, I AM A WINNER and would drag myself across the finish line, come hell or high fiber. 

We stayed at Jesse's parents house on Thursday night and had planned to stay there all weekend to let our house show as much as possible. By Friday we knew the house was going to sell and we could go home that evening. 

I had made it! I survived! I was back in my own home with all my Whole30 vittles laid by and ready to finish strong--bathed in glory and ghee!

On Friday we accepted our buyer's offer. This was what broke me. We had worked our butts off the past week (and the past 8.5 years) making our house shine and we finally sold it! Somehow arugula with oil and lemon juice just wasn't the celebration meal I had envisioned. So my fall from W30 grace went like this:

"I sold my house in one day. Eff it, I'm having a bowl of rice."

"Oh this is so good. But man I am a naughty naughty bad girl. Who cares these complex carbs are so sexy right now! But think of the carb spike QUIET YOU NOMMMMMMM!"
It was just a wholesome serving of wild rice, so even in that I think I am pretty amazing.

And then I ordered a pizza. Whatever. Shut up.

The feelings and thoughts that went along with chowing down on THAT little buddy have been censored as they are too adult for this blog.

So I guess I failed the test of emotional eating. I wanted to celebrate with food and convinced myself I "deserved" something not healthy to do so with. I am at peace with this because I transacted a 6-figure real estate deal in 24 hours (delusions of grandeur are part of my rationalization, leave me these).

Never in a million years would we have chosen to try a Whole 30 while selling and buying a house AND going about our normal full time jobs and parenting three kids. NEV-AH! 

What we learned: 

1. You can technically "do" a Whole30 but not really get into the spirit of eating healthier. WHEN we do another one, it will be much more about jam-packing our diets with positives instead of just avoiding the no-nos.

2. Dairy makes my nose itch to high heaven. After I ate the pizza, the entire next day I had to resist the urge to drag my nose all over the carpet to assuage the ever-present itch. I am even now only eating dairy when it's super-duper worth it.

3. Drinkable coffee (aka with cream and sugar) is a certain sign of God's grace. It's a potion of no equal (or splenda...pun) that tastes like Eden and makes me feel like Samson. Woe to ye who shall separate me from its loving embrace.

4. Even with only 24 days completed, I feel like my food-thinking was re-oriented (if not completely reprogrammed). It took a good ten minutes in the grocery store on Sunday to realize that I could actually buy anything I wanted (I love having those brakes aplied to my shopping/eating process), and I was even more surprised to find that I actually didn't want a lot of it anyway.

5. Water (tap and LaCroix) is a perfectly satisfying beverage 99% of the time. I did miss having a cocktail on a date night pretty badly though, and think that I would have aged less in the process of homeselling had I been able to turn to drink a bit. 

6. The cravings really didn't own me. MUCH more challenging was the planning/patience aspect of not being able to just have my belly filled in 5 minutes. So learning to listen to my appetite and respect it (that sounds so hippie-foodie lame) was a great lesson.


There you have it. 80% completion. I scored a B-minus. I am trying not to feel like a failure and to live under grace and be happy with what we accomplished (food and real-estate wise).  I learned a lot, but the most important thing--that we all need to keep in mind--is that I beat Jesse. BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE.

Off to our home inspection! Sugar-stained smooches to you all.






4.25.2015

MOVING!

So much more to say, but the gist is:  We sold our house and bought another one yesterday.

Home Sweet New Home...(pending closing and all that scary jazz!)

The timeline of this is hilariously insane and so US and I will write it out later. 

We are moving! 3 miles up the road in Senoia. To a neighborhood (with a pool! and cousins!) and a house that is 2.5 times larger, and 23 years newer than our current one. 

My heart explodes with gratitude and my pinterest explodes with new ideas for the next house.