what gift to get the teacher when an apple simply won't do.

got school-aged children? then at some point during the year, you will be scratching your head trying to determine the perfect gift for your children's teacher. if this never happens to you, then you are probably part of the reason that the profession is oft considered a "thankless job."

back to the awesome parent who is stuck in the muddle of trying to show their appreciation. surely you have heard the idiom, "it is the thought that counts." seriously, this is true, so STOP stressing. thank you cards written by you and your child are awesome. if you can afford to do more, of course the teachers will be thrilled, but please do not put yourself into financial stress buying teach a gift. handmade gifts are amazeballs, so capitalize on your creativity. why am i telling you all of this? because i am a teacher. and mrs. nipper knapp asked. and if you google "best gifts for teachers" there are gads of lists that are hogwash, so i am going to put you on the path towards awesome gift-giving. full disclosure, i work in an inner-city school, so gifts are the exception, not the norm. i guess that is why i have a wish list....a girl can dream.

as you already know, it is a challenge to buy a gift for this person who is sort of a stranger and simultaneously is practically a member of the family. after all, they spend seven or eight hours a day with your child. teaching, mentoring, guiding, soothing, molding, and loving your baby. the best advice i can give is to buy or make something that YOU would like. why's that? well, your child's teacher is just like you and me. we teachers have a life outside of teaching and most likely, we like lots of things that you like. but first, you need to do a little reconnaissance. check out the teacher's style. focus on accessories, because these are easy to purchase and affordable. ask your child about their teacher - i think you would be surprised how observant your kids are...don't forget, most children looooove their teacher and notice everything about them. and teachers loooooove to talk, so they have probably told their class everything you need to know, i.e. favorite color, hobbies, etc.

but let us get to the advice part of this post. i am a lass, so these suggestions are focused on female teachers, but of course some ideas can be adapted to men. beyond that i cannot help you with the gents. male teachers are just as mysterious as every other man i know. i have no idea what gifts to give my husband, brother, and dad; i certainly do not know what to get a male teacher. if you have this figured out, please enlighten the rest of us.

dead. horse.

first of all, things to avoid.
  1. kitsch and knick-knacks. there are only so many random bits of teachery nonsense we can fit on our desks, windowsills, and bookshelves.
  2. little plastic organizers with paperclips, push pins, staples, and officey junk. we already have one. or five. 
  3. anything with the word "teacher." i.e. world's best teacher mugs, #1 teacher picture frames, etc. 
  4. apple and/or bookworm themed gifts. i have no idea why apples are associated with teachers, but seriously, unless it is an electronic apple (see cartoon above), do not beat that dead horse.
  5. classroom supplies. i know, i know, teachers spend lots of money on school supplies and you want to help them out, but dudes, donate supplies to the classroom, do not give them as a GIFT to the teacher. that is like someone giving your baby diapers for YOUR birthday. practical, NOT dreamy.

the best gifts are thoughtful and personalized. if you can make any of these things yourself, DO IT! if you can get your kids involved, even better.

  1. accessories. does the teacher wear scarves? get her a scarf. does she wear little silver earrings/long-beaded necklaces/bracelets/sparkly hair clips? get her little silver earrings/long-beaded necklaces/bracelets/sparkly hair clips. you see where this is going? observe the teacher - everyone wears accessories...what is her niche?
  2. fun and fabulous lunch bags. lunch breaks are short and teachers are not rolling in money, so we tend to bring our lunches. you know that super cute pink polka-dotted one you saw at the store? yup, teach would love that.
  3. tote bags. teachers cart the world to school every day, so a good strong tote bag is always handy. and if it is cute, well then it might just become the go-to bag.
  4. sturdy and good travel mug. does she have a mug of coffee/tea every day? she probably sips on it throughout the morning and would love it if her beverage was still warm at 10am. but chances are, she is not going to splurge to buy herself that awesome double-insulated mug that will keep her drink warm for hours.
  5. non-traveling mugs. that are cute. would you want the mug in your cupboard? then it could be a winner. avoid messages, cheesy pictures, and jokes. look for pretty. or cute. or fun. want to get your kid involved? head to one of those places where you paint your own pottery and have your child paint a mug or any other practical item. but please, guide them through this process, especially if they are young. scribbles are cute, but make sure the scribble is not something that only a parent will love.
  6. throw blanket. this can be bought, sewn, knit, or crocheted. worried it will not fit with the color scheme of her house? who cares?! we all have throw blankets that have nothing to do with our house decor...does that stop us from using them? nope. live in a warm climate? who cares?! everyone curls up on the couch with a blanket. even in miami. our air conditioners sometimes run a little cold.
  7. beauty supplies. nail polish. body sprays. fragrant lotions. this one requires surveillance. are her nails always painted? get her the good stuff in the latest colors. body sprays and smelly lotion - everyone likes to play with these yummies. avoid makeup, unless you either a) know exactly what she loves and/or b) are super confident that the makeup is something everyone would love and can wear (mrs. n.k., think stila's smitten kitten).
  8. find out her interests. if you are a good investigator, you can probably dig up some dirt. does she like to cook? get her a fun ruffly apron. or those gorgeous melamine mixing bowls you have been ogling. is she a baker? muffin pans. or cookie sheets. is she an artist? new sketchbook and colored pencils.


generic gifts for the times when you are just totally stuck.
  1. gift card to starbucks. unless the teacher is anti-establishment or does not drink coffee or tea. then you will want to move on to #2.
  2. candy and/or chocolate. teachers are human and just like you, we love to indulge.
  3. flowers. or a potted plant. you could have your kid paint the pot - that would be super fun.
holy banarama, this post is waaaay longer than i intended, but, i love people who want to do something special for their child's teacher and if i can help simplify that process, well then...i will. good luck and happy shopping/creating.

note: all images are from the internets.


when all else fails...plan.

20 piles of color planning.
i missed the president's state of the union address. oops. total fail. i could watch a recording of the speech, but i think i will opt for getting the NPR recap and reading the relevant new york times articles. my apologies mr. president. it is not that i do not care, it is just that i can barely find time to feed myself, so there is little chance of me having 1.5 hours to listen to and/or watch your speech.

planning the quilt blocks.


the good news is that in the midst of completely and totally forgetting to change the channel to the state of the union, i was busy working on my quilt. making progress people, making progress.


this past weekend i dug through all of my scrap and fabric boxes and pulled out bits of every lovely fabric i own. each chunk was meticulously starched, ironed, and then sliced and diced into 2.5" squares. about three hundred squares. yes, you read that correctly. thank goodness for rotary cutters. seriously, i cannot comprehend how people created multiple quilts without these heavenly slicers. just thinking about it is enough to send my brain into a tailspin.


eye candy.

anyhow, after hours of sorting, ironing, and cutting, i had to do some color planning. the result is twenty quilt blocks arranged and readied for sewing. i sewed one just to see how the blocks will look. scrumptious, eh?

the first finished quilt block.

now i just have to sew 19 more. good golly, miss molly. and just in case the quilt was not enough, i also had to make a birthday present for one of big-E's buddies. i made what i have dubbed a super blankie. suitable for sleeping, picnicking, superhero capes, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

super blankie.


scrap me silly.

oh my, where does the time go? the looooong pauses between posts are unintentional, but it seems that they are here to stay. luckily for all of us, keri is determined that this is not the year our blogs will die, so here we are. so happy together.

this little fella sucks up all of my time.

the days are all running together, so it seems like just yesterday that mrs. nipper knapp and i decided that we should make quilts for ourselves. just for fun. just because we are awesome. just because. yup, that is it. we have no other reason. but considering that my scrap box is now three boxes, yes three, it seemed like a good idea. of course i do not undertake projects like this without a plan, so i started pondering what pattern i would use. i wandered through internet land. lots of scrap quilts. and then i jumped onto pinterest. whoa nelly, loads of scrappy quilts. and now i am completely overwhelmed. while i have dithered back and forth between patterns, the missus n.p. has been sewing and sewing and sewing. and trying her hardest to get me motivated to jump in while the quilting is warm.

the problem, of course, is that i have about as much time for sewing as i do for everything else. ummm, none. oh and my sewing machine lives in the bedroom. where big-E sleeps. but, i dragged my machine into the living room and mrs. n.p. gave me another kick in the pants and now i am seriously determined to start before the end of this week. so i picked a pattern. i think. oh my god, there are sooo many. and they are so lovely. and i want to make them all. but i think i have made my decision. final answer? yes. i think. 

granny squares from blue elephant stitches.

i am ridiculously enamored of quilts that have bits of color in a sea of white. this pattern definitely fits that bill. but then i started thinking that it is not going to relieve me of my humongous stack of scraps. plus, i am still struggling to settle on just one pattern. sooooo... i am going to make a double-sided quilt. i mean, why not? it is a quilt for me. so i can do whatever i want. might as well make it so complicated that i can work on it until big-E is twenty-three. wheeeeeeeee!!

string quilt by leesa. oooh la la.

the back (or is it the front) will be a string quilt, which is sort of a patternless pattern. delectable. so with no further ado, here goes nothing. uhh, i mean, here goes the quilting.