Super Cute DIY End of Year Teacher Gift

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This post is on a simple DIY end of year teacher gift.

I actually made the arrangement above for Teacher Appreciation Week and one of my friends Julie commented on Facebook on how it could be given as an end of the year teacher gift as well.

They are so easy to grow and once you make a few arrangements at home, you can take clippings to make new arrangements that will continue to bloom.

To get started, purchase a variety of mini succulents like these at your local Home Depot. Most of the little ones range from $1.75-$3.00 each. I think it is good to mix and match different colors and textures. You will also want to purchase palm & cactus soil to plant them in.

For the teacher gift, you can pick any container you like. I found the metal plant pot above from IKEA. Using your special potting soil, you will then clip and “plant” your arrangement to your liking.

I located the adorable free printable that says, “Thank you for helping me grow this year!” on Living Locurto.

I glued the printable sign to a popsicle stick and stuck it into the arrangement, and voila, one totally darling DIY end of teacher gift!


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How to get in shape (quick) after baby

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This guest post on how to get in shape quick after baby is by my friend and Tiny Oranges Sponsor, Erica Ziel of Knocked-Up Fitness.

Last month we posted on our Facebook page to see what moms wanted to know from Erica about pre or postnatal fitness (her expertise) and it  was no surprise many moms tips on how to get back into shape quickly after baby.

Here is her expert advice. Stay tuned for a follow up post next week with a few of her favorite exercises. You will also want to check out her at home After Baby 2 DVD Workout Set.

How to Get in Shape Quick After Baby

by Erica Ziel, Knocked-Up Fitness

I love the inspiration moms have for getting into shape quickly after baby but there are so many factors that can greatly affect how long it takes for you to accomplish this.

First, stop comparing yourself to the celebrities out there who are back “in shape” within the first 3 weeks!

If you had a personal chef to cook for you and a trainer who made you workout 2 hours a day then maybe just maybe you could do that quickly….BUT…time for a reality check.

As a new mom your body is going through so much! Did you notice that it took you 9 full months to take on your beautiful pregnant body? I hate to break it too you but it’s not coming off in 3 weeks.

Plus after each pregnancy it usually takes your body longer to recover. Your body needs to heal from delivery. Take this time to enjoy those first weeks with your baby and getting the hang of nursing if you are. Here are a couple things you can start doing right away…

After Giving Birth

KEGELS.  So important! Start doing them within the first 24 hours of delivery (even if you had a c-section.) Then, start walking, slowly.

Walking is a great time to bond with your baby, by baby wearing. Find a wrap or baby carrier to strap your baby to you and walk. I loved my Moby wraps for all 3 of mine, and you can place newborns in them, just be sure you have them positioned correctly.

From there, you really need to wait until your doctor has cleared you to do more. When that time comes follow my tips below to help speed up the process.

7 Tips for Getting in Shape Quick After Baby

1. Start where you left off working out in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy.

2. Avoid crunches in the beginning. Wait until you know your abdominal connection is back. This usually takes longer with each pregnancy. A bellyband can really help you re-connect with your abs after you’re back to working out. Use it to help you focus on your abs working and reconnecting rather then as a support.

3. Focus on full body exercises rather then smaller areas of your body. You just need to get moving and working your entire body. Plus you’ll burn more calories with full body exercises in a shorter amount of time.

4. Squeeze in shorter workouts during your day, this really is an effective way to boost up your metabolism. Every time you exert energy, even 10 minutes, you’ve revved up your metabolism.

5. Be sure you are eating healthy, especially when nursing, your baby really is eating what you are. Use that as extra motivation to clean up your eating even more.

6. Avoid sugar as much as possible, I’m not saying completely. Breast milk is really sweet so you do need carbohydrates to really support your breast milk production. Notice I said “carbohydrates” and not “sugar”. Do the best you can to consume the majority of your carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, rather then breads and sugars.

7. Drink lots and lots of water. This in important for everyone. Most don’t drink enough, so to help with this try keeping a water bottle with you all the time. If you’re nursing be sure you drink at least 1-2 cups every time you sit down to feed your little one.

Thanks Erica!

I will do a post next week with a few of Erica’s favorite exercises.
Make sure to check out her newly released After Baby 2 DVD workout videos. They are amazing – and exercises range from beginner to intermediate so you can do them at your own pace.

[Disclosure: Knocked-Up Fitness is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor]

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you. create. change.

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I am so in love with this new company I can’t even stand it.

VeryMeri is a website inspiring children to express themselves through art while helping kids who are less fortunate at the same time.

Through the website, kids’ ideas, designs and artwork are shared with their online community, voted on, with winners made into one-of-a-kind lifestyle products and apparel for children and adults.

The Junior Designers will receive a portion of the net sales and have the opportunity to select a children’s charity of their choice to support.

There are several reasons why I am obsessed with VeryMeri:

I love a company that inspires young entrepreneurs, I love creative opportunities for kids, I love kids helping kids, and I love this t-shirt.

Don’t you already feel inspired just looking at it?

Click here to buy for your world changers. Yes, we can sisters!

Visit for more information on their design challenges, how to submit your children’s work and to shop. LOVE. Please share.

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Singing Praises for Fancy Nancy the Musical Songs

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Oh Fancy Nancy, how I adore thee. Your fancy words, your spunky personality, your fun way of teaching my kiddos new vocabulary….and now your songs on our favorite new Fancy Nancy the Musical CD we were recently sent for review. The CD features the original Off-Broadway cast recording and I was pleasantly surprised to find that even I sang along and enjoyed it.

So yes, I am singing praises for Fancy Nancy the Musical songs and anyone with their own little Fancy Nancy will say, “Oh la la!” to this collection too.

My daughter is just beginning to read this adorable series, created and written by Jane O’Connor, about a girl named Nancy who makes it her mission to make everything fancy. And, my little girl LOVES being fancy (see above picture for proof).

Boas, sparkles, tutus, tea parties, and of course, practicing the use of “fancy” words are her cup of tea.

In this super cute collection of tunes, it tells the story of Nancy and her best friend Bree, who want to be fancy mermaids in their upcoming dance recital…and Nancy ends up being cast as a…wait for it…a TREE.

Nancy bemoans…what is fancy about a TREE?  And thus, the musical comes alive and takes you on a sweet little storyline of how Nancy and Bree cope with being cast as “ordinary” parts (that’s a fancy word for simple!), versus fancy, glamorous stars.

The songs are upbeat, catchy, and pretty darn cute. Even my three-year-old son doesn’t seem to mind listening. (You can check out a preview of the songs on YouTube, and see for yourself how entertaining they are).

Each morning, my little princess asks me to put on Fancy Nancy in the car.  When I asked her why she likes it, this is what she said, “I like the under the sea music.  It makes me happy.  Oh, and I like her [Nancy’s] crown and fancy stuff.”  Well, folks…enough said!

And if Fancy Nancy the Musical ever visits Southern California, my little girl and I are going to have a girl date…starting with a fancy tea party, of course.

Disclosure:  I was given this CD to listen to by Danny Abosch (Composer, Arranger, Music Educator), which features his music…and I am SO excited that my little girl and I can finally sing along to Fancy Nancy songs, as well as read her books! Merci Danny!

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Crystal Cove Tide Pools

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A couple months back we experienced amazing Orange County tide pools down at Crystal Cove. It is a fabulous place to take your kids tidepooling (is that a word?!) in OC.

During our tidepooling adventure we spotted THIRTEEN starfish! My 6-year-old daughter was so fired up she exclaimed, “The is the best day of my life!” No joke.

Gotta love the enthusiasm something as simple as a visit to tide pools can evoke.

I highly recommend taking your kids down to visit the Crystal Cove tide pools and here are some tidepooling tips if you go!

Getting There

Crystal Cove State Park can be reached by parking in the public lot off Los Trancos and Pacific Coast Highway.  Be prepared, it is pricey, like $15 to park for the day when attendants are present.  If you happen to eat at the Beachcomber restaurant while visiting, they will validate your parking with a purchase of $15 or more.

Here are great directions on how to get to Crystal Cove Beach.

Check the Tides Before You Go

Most important thing to do when taking your kids to Orange County tide pools is to check the time of low tide.

This is a great Orange County tide chart I searched for Crystal Cove high and low tides.

Remember Your Shoes

The best places we found to spot starfish were out towards the water where there were large rocks, which entailed walking over bumpy surfaces to get there.  They were mostly tucked on the underside of  large rocks. Not good for barefeet!  I suggest a good shoe that can get wet. Flip flops are OK for adults, just be careful, but for kids, shoes like a Crocs would be ideal.

Check Out What You Can See First

When we were there volunteers were passing out brochures on the type of sealife we could spot in the tide pools.  It might be fun to check out this gallery on what you can see at the Crystal Cove tide pools before you go so you know what to keep your eye out for.

Have fun and happy tide pooling! Do you have any tips to share?

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