August 12, 2014

Lunch Art for Back-to-School

My boys love to eat. I guess they get it from me. Most days, I'm just working as quickly as possible to keep their hunger at bay, and keep them from attacking me. But sometimes, I like to give them a little surprise on their plates. If you're working with less-than-ravenous appetites, this might be a strategy to get your littles to eat a little more, and try a few new foods.

Here are my simple ideas. Your kids may need different portion sizes, but it's some inspiration to start!

Using cookie cutters and a cup, cut a sandwich into a circle, and cheese into stars. Add some sun rays in the form of sliced bell peppers, and top it all off with a banana moon.

Bug Life
Cut your sandwich in half diagonally and line up the two corners for butterfly wings. Wedge a little piece of celery in between for the body. For the antennae, we used more bell pepper. And lastly, with little toothpicks holding together grapes, we added some cute little caterpillars.

Taste the Rainbow
Think outside of the plate, and serve lunch in cupcake liners. Using rainbow colored liners, I found healthy foods from all the colors of the rainbow to match. Yum!

Think about how you can engage your kids--their minds, and their other senses. What are they learning? Practicing? Incorporate it into their food. Cut up deli meat into triangles, make cucumber and cheese stacks, and add a stack of crackers. Then ask your little one to identify the shapes before they dig in. Can they see other examples of the shapes around the kitchen?

(I meant to have five lunches, but at the last minute I showed my husband my final example and he said it looked a little inappropriate. hahaha! It only took me a second to realize how right he was. Always proof and edit, people! And an extra set of eyes is always helpful.) 

Anyway, hope this gave you a little inspiration for your child's lunchbox, or your little ones' plates at home! Loving this time of year!

August 7, 2014

Teacher Gift

If you know how to fold a paper airplane, then you are all set to make this fun teacher gift. If you aren't sure, look it up online. They're easy!

You'll need paper, pencils, scissors, wire, and glue dots. Step 1: fold your paper in half eight times (these have to be tiny). Step 2: Cut all those little rectangles along the folded lines and fold your little airplanes. Step 3: Using a couple glue dots, secure a piece of wire in the fold of the paper airplane. Then wrap it around your pencil.

I think a jar of these would look super cute on a teacher's desk. AND . .  . if you want to see another teacher's gift I came up with, head over to See Vanessa Craft where I'm a contributor. My DIY Apple Jars are up today!

August 6, 2014

How to Throw Together a Back-to-School Celebration

Welcome back! The countdown is officially on around here, and we're down to DAYS until the first day of school! If you want to make the first day a special occasion, you CAN with just a few easy steps!

I'm keeping things super simple this year, with decor straight from the school supply aisle. Paper airplanes out of notebook paper serve as one of the decorative garlands, and I taped another one onto a globe for a little added school flavor. 

I like to turn mealtime into a celebration. You can serve a special feast the night before, a breakfast the morning of, whatever works best! I think it would be super cute to serve a simple school-lunch style dinner. Make lunch box foods, and serve them on a school lunch tray or in a brown paper bag. Bonus! It's super easy and you don't have to cook! I served this "lunch" on a composition notebook place mat. Folding and gluing another sheet of notebook paper, I put together a silverware pocket. And lastly, I made simple name cards by sticking a pencil into an apple, and gluing another piece of notebook paper.

Besides a little fun decor, and a special meal, there are a few other little fun things you can do at your back-to-school celebration.

What's more fun about back-to-school than fresh supplies?? It's one of my favorite things. Even if your child was with you when you bought it all, it's kind of fun to have them wait until the night before to give it to them and let them pack their backpack.

Teachers spend days going over routines they'll be using throughout the year, so why shouldn't parents? It's a great time to go over with your children when and where to give you important papers, what they should do with all their gear when they get home, the new bedtime and wake up schedule, lunch money, etc. 

Back-to-school is also a wonderful time for setting goals. You could choose a theme for your celebration and for the school year. You could base it on a verse of scripture, a quote, etc. Use this to formulate a couple goals together. If your kids are still little, you can tell them one or two things that you hope they will learn this year, and ask them to come up with one. This is also a great time to give your children a special vote of confidence, remind them of their strengths, and give them some special advice.

Lastly, you could make or prepare a small gift for your child to give to his or her teacher. This is totally extra, but I think it sends a positive message to your little student that teachers are important, and they are lucky to have theirs. Let them help make it or write their name on the card, etc. If you want the diy on these paper airplane pencils, come back tomorrow!

Thanks for reading, and good luck getting everything together for a great start of the year!

August 4, 2014

Back to School Celebration!

It's that time again! One of my favorite seasons of the year. If summer has to ever end, at least we have the fun and festive back-to-school season to look forward to. Even though my oldest is still only in preschool, I think it's so fun to celebrate the start of a new school year, and hopefully get him enthused for what's to come.

This week I'm going to share my thoughts on how to put together a special, but super simple back-to-school celebratory breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Check back for my tips!

July 7, 2014

My Writing Process / Blog Tour

Hey everyone! Lots of silence around this here blog lately, but I'm planning to get back into motion. To get things kicking again, I thought I would participate in this fun Writing Process Blog Tour my friend, Lyndsey at The Stationery Place invited me to be a part of.

Lyndsey is not only one of my favorite personal friends, but she's a great gal to know in the blogging and social media world, as well. She is a PR expert, and I recently enjoyed hosting a workshop she spoke at. As I mentioned, she blogs at The Stationery Place. You can find her Writing Process post here. As her blog name suggests, Lyndsey writes about fab stationery and paper products. Some of my favorite posts of hers are ones where she features beautiful wedding and baby announcement finds. She also posts fun paper projects to do with kids, and her enthusiasm for snail mail and the handwritten is contagious. Paper is so pretty and fun--of course there should be a blog to highlight all the best. And that's what Lyndsey does.

Anyway, on to my leg of the tour:

1. What am I working on?
I wish I could say I was working on more projects, but I've got two little boys and a baby girl on the way, so I've been pretty busy keeping up there.

I'm also a contributor for the blog, See Vanessa Craft. You can catch my recipe for Frozen Blackberry Lemonade over there sometime this month.

And as far as upcoming work around The Elephant of Surprise . . . I'm hoping to post photos of master bedroom and nursery projects in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My posts are definitely creative-centered, but other than that, I can't seem to limit myself to anything too specific. I like my posts and photos to have a clean and crisp look, but I like my writing to be a little more casual feeling. I want my blog to be a polished reflection of what I'm doing in real life. I do a lot of diy, craft, and decor projects, and my blog is where I share it.

3. Why do I write what I do?
As I mentioned, I write about what I would be doing even if I didn't have a blog. Before I blogged, and even during my multiple hiatuses, I always find myself working on a project, using my hands to create, recreate, or beautify something. I figure I might as well document it, share it, and give an occasional tutorial to help someone who might want to try it out themselves.

4. How does my writing process work?
I usually try to plan my posts out for the month. I think of projects I want to do around my home, things I want to do with my kids, or things I'm already in the middle of doing. I try to get a couple posts out of one thing, and I try to keep things related within the span of a few days. I also think about holidays, seasons, what's current and plan from there. When a project is ready to be photographed, I usually take the finished product photos first and then deconstruct and take the process photos after. I am terrible about taking good photos when I am really in the process. I like to just get it done, see it finished, and then recreate the steps. If it's something big, or super involved, I will force myself to photograph during the actual process. After I have all my photos taken and edited, I upload those into my post, and add my text around.

Thanks for stopping by today! Hopefully it was kind of fun to get a little look into what goes into these little posts.

May 19, 2014

PR 101 for Bloggers

Hey Everybody! I have been pretty MIA around here lately, but not for no reason, I assure you. I have a few projects I'm working on, and I'm excited to announce one of them today! If you are a blogger in Utah or can swing a quick trip down, come to this fun and informative event!

This is going to be so much fun, and so useful! My genius friend is teaching, and we're pulling it all together at the Bake it Pretty warehouse thanks to my other super-talented friend, Brittany. Head over to the Eventbrite page to purchase your tickets. Right now we have an early-bird special price--only $35! Don't miss this great opportunity!

May 15, 2014

Party In a Jar Book Tour

I'm so excited to share this fun and beautiful book with you all today! My sweet blogging friend, Vanessa from See Vanessa Craft has this fabulous new book out--Party In a Jar that you and your kids alike are going to absolutely LOVE! 

A little about Party in a Jar: Party in a Jar features sixteen kid-friendly craft projects that not only provide entertainment for pint-sized partygoers but also function as takehome party favors! From edible dino terrariums to holiday-themed gifts and centerpieces, these upcycled jar crafts are earth-friendly and sure to be the hit of your next get-together. Learn more at

A little about Vanessa: Vanessa Rodriguez Coppola spreads her love of glitter and hot glue through her blog,, and is passionate about upcycling through crafting. Vanessa lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, Rich, and their two children. She has a master’s degree in Clinical Social Work and has experienced the therapeutic value of creativity firsthand.

If you love party books or just love crafting up fun and simple projects with your kids, you will want to add this book to your collection! Head to Amazon or to Gibbs Smith to purchase.

And just to give you another peek into the genius ideas in this book, check out this cutie. This is the one my son wanted to do immediately!

 Want a signed copy? Vanessa will be sending out signed (super cute mason jar) bookplates to stick inside the books by request. To request a bookplate, email with the subject line BOOKPLATE. She’ll need proof of purchase (Amazon order screen shot, photo of receipt, etc.) and a shipping address.

 Photos by Jen Roberts Photography - Party Styling by Vanessa Rodriguez Coppola

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