Mason Jar Cookie Mixes

M&M Mason Jar Cookie Mix

My fourth grade students sold Mason jar cookie mixes as a class fundraiser. It is a great project for integrating skills from a bunch of different academic areas. It is also a great project for creating a lot of extra work for the teacher. My teammate and I are exhausted and are not feeling nearly as charitable as we were at the beginning of this business project. However, it is a project that works well for groups of children. If you need a service project for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or your classroom, this might be something to consider. Like the soup mixes I am giving as teacher gifts, these are also something you can make at home with your kids to give to teachers, neighbors and friends over the holidays.

mason jar cookie mixes

The students kicked off the project by voting on a variety of recipes (oatmeal was out but after testing cookie samples, they approved the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe). Once we selected two recipes, we priced ingredients and estimated sales. We limited production to ~200 jars, and the students calculated the ingredient amounts for that number of mixes. I recommend limiting sales to a specific number you think is possible for your group, so you do not over commit.

cookie assembly line

The adults have to gather many supplies, and quality control needs to be monitored closely. Most of the stations need funnels, which we made by loosely rolling a piece of copy paper. The baking soda station needs a dedicated adult! With 34 students on 5 assembly lines, we had all of the mixes assembled in about 1 1/2 hours. We spent another half day tying labels and delivering.

mason jar cookie mix labels

If you can buy the ingredients in bulk, it costs between $4 and $5 to make one jar of cookie mix, and we sold our mixes for $8.50. The biggest cost is the chocolate chips and M&Ms. One warning– during the holidays, Mason jars are hard to find. We needed 17 dozen 1-quart jars. If you are buying jars in the Charleston area, stores are sold out (so I have heard). If we decide to repeat this project next year, we will be purchasing our jars in August! Click here for the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe, and click here for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe.

200 mason jar cookie mixes

Personalized Christmas Gifts

I kicked off the holiday shopping season with the personalized rubber stamps for Miss Priss’ and Mr. Star Wars’ teachers. Personalized seems to be the theme for me this year. I usually keep a list going all year (yes, I am that OCD) and jot down ideas as people mention things. When holiday shopping season officially starts, I review the list and try to come up with ideas that might apply to several people, so I can order more than one of the same thing. I have a brother and two sisters who all have kids plus TheRoomDad’s family. We try to do a little something for each family group, so the list gets pretty long.

Here are some gift ideas on my “to buy” list this year, and most of them are personalized in some way. That usually means a longer ship time, so I better get on the stick!

Monogrammed Jewelry: I know my tween nieces would love necklaces like this because they keep pinning these types of things. I also think they are great gifts for my mom, sisters, and sisters-in law.

gold-small-discs-double-layer  moon_lola_script_monogram_in_orange_large   4-letter-necklace_20

Monogrammed Scarves: I love all of the color choices for these scarves. I would also do something like this with a pashmina. Find pashminas at a local store and take them to a monogrammer. FYI– This would make a great teacher gift. Classroom temperatures can be difficult to regulate!

monogram-scarf-scarves

Personalized Wrapping Paper: One thing I like about this gift is that it is consumable, so it does not have to be stored for very long.

wrapping paper initials wrapping paper recipe wrapping paper

Mini Photo Books: These books are set up like board books. I think they make great personalized gifts for little people and grandparents to share when visiting.

mini board bookspinhole-press-mini-book-names-faces-photo-baby-toddler

Custom Ornament: My parents have a collection of paintings of all of the houses where they have lived. We moved a lot, so the collection is large. These ornaments reminded me of the paintings. It would be fun to order ornaments with a different house every year.

custom ornament

Fort Kit: This one is not a personalized gift but a DIY gift. Fill a drawstring bag with supplies to build a fort like plain sheets and clothespins. I think this is so clever.

for kit

Anyone else have a successful shopping strategy or great ideas that will work for several people? You could also return to last year’s gift list for a little inspiration.

Bottoms Up

teacher gift iced tea kit

In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, I am sharing some insider information about the teacher world. Teachers have limited access to water or other beverages during the day. There are water fountains, faucets, and other drink sources at the school, but teachers just can’t get to them. Here is what happens. During the school day, teachers can’t leave the students unattended. Ever. One year, I taught in the 10th row of trailers at a growing high school and needed a 15 minute window to make it into the building and back for access to water.

iced tea kit contents

With that in mind, I picked up some double insulated cups with lids and straws I happened to see at the Dollar Store. I filled the cup with ingredients for a fruit iced tea mix and a $5 Starbucks gift card then tied Citrus Tea Labels to the cup with the recipe for the iced tea. The tea contents will probably be tossed, but the Starbucks card and insulated cup will be enjoyed. Every teacher I know needs/wants/uses a water bottle of some kind. The double insulated Tervis tumbler style are the best because they don’t sweat all over the papers on the teacher’s desk and keep drinks colder longer.

iced tea kit contents close

If you are working on an end of year teacher gift or a teacher appreciation gift of some kind, the cup is low cost and teacher approved. If you happen to know that your child’s teacher is addicted to Diet Coke or Dunkin Donuts coffee, those are good appreciation beverage gifts too.

I know you might be tempted by cutesy notes attached to 2-liter bottles of A&W Root Beer or Mountain Dew that you may have seen on Pinterest but do not give in to the dark side. A 2-liter bottle is impractical and goes flat before a teacher could drink it. And besides, A&W root beer or Mountain Dew?? Who drinks that? Unless you have heard straight from the source that these are soft drinks of choice, DO NOT purchase.

The Best Baby Gifts

As with most things in my life, I have rigid guidelines I follow faithfully for choosing baby gifts.

  1. I refuse to shop from a baby gift registry (but always shop from a wedding gift registry).
  2. I never buy baby gifts that contain brown, black, or orange.
  3. I do not like anything that an adult would wear but has been reduced to infant size. These clothes are easy to identify because they usually have pockets. The last time I checked, a baby is not carrying loose change or car keys.

A baby gift is an opportunity to buy something sweet that the mom would not buy herself. Hey, I know that new mom will get a carseat. She has to have that to leave the hospital. Why should I get the practical gift when there are so many cute and tiny things available? Before I had kids of my own, I had a variety of baby gifts I liked to give.

bunnykins bowl

  • Royal Doulton Bunnykins baby dishes (do a Google search for sources). I really like their bowl with the wide base to avoid tipping and the two handled toddler cup.

kissy kissy

  • The brand Kissy Kissy makes unbelievably soft footie outfits with tiny little motifs embroidered on them. I love the little embroidery because it is the right proportion for a baby. They have some brighter colors, but most of the clothes are in soft pale baby colors that are RoomMom approved.

auruluz daygown

  • Auraluz daygowns were another favorite. For those of you who do not know, a daygown is an A-lined “dress” that stays open at the bottom (no snaps or anything), so it is easy to get to the diaper. And as I told my husband many times, yes, boys can wear daygowns too.

baby booties

  • I even went through a brief phase where I knitted baby booties. I could knit pink or blue if I knew the sex of the baby ahead of time. If it was going to be a surprise, I would give white booties and include a set of pink and blue ribbons to be added at the birth.

hooded towel

Since having children, I have honed my baby gift giving skills, lowered my gift budget, and settled on a present that combines sweet and practical. I always give a large hooded baby towel that is accompanied by a gift certificate to have the towel monogrammed. Since I like kits so much, I also add Aquaphor ointment (diaper rash, dry skin, cuts, scrapes, chapped lips), Baby Magic lotion, and Baby Magic baby wash. Finally, the gift includes directions for achieving The Perfect Newborn Baby Smell.

I have a monogram store near my house that sells large white hooded towels for $20 (monogramming included). At the time of purchase, they write up a gift card for me, so the mom-to-be can return to the store and have the monogram added. If the baby has been born or the parents know the sex/baby name ahead of time, I have the towel finished before giving the gift. I found this website that seems to have a white hooded baby towel that is similar to the one I like.

Do you have any favorite baby gifts you like to give? Do you prefer practical or pretty?

Christmas Gift Status Report

Key Jabba figure lost head within 24 hours of Santa delivering gift.

Jabba head lost within 24 hours of Santa delivering gift.

December 25

2:30 am: Miss Priss arrives in our room and announces, “It’s Christmas!”

2:32 am: The Room Mom replies, “It won’t be Christmas for 3 more hours.” Miss Priss climbs into bed and repeats that she can’t sleep every 30 minutes until 4:30 am, then falls asleep until 6:40 am.

6:40 am: It is officially Christmas. Santa brings Jabba’s Lego palace with unique Jabba figure to my son, Mr. Star Wars. Santa brings a new American Girl doll with table, chairs, and the beautiful Depression glass birthday set to Miss Priss.

7:40 am: Christmas finished.

1:20 pm: First Christmas casualty– American Girl vase breaks. Tears.

1:30 pm: The Room Mom glues vase back together.

2:00 pm: The Room Mom naps.

american girl broken vase

December 26

11:00 am: Trip to Michael’s Crafts so work on American Girl doll food can begin.

2:00 pm: Mr. Star Wars wants to show his new Jabba Lego figure to the neighbors. This one-of-a-kind figure can only be purchased with the complete palace ($119.99). The Room Mom barely listens as Mr. Star Wars heads out the door because she is so engrossed in American Girl doll food.

3:00 pm: Jabba’s head discovered missing (oxymoron?) somewhere between the neighbor’s front door and our driveway. Assets– It is a big Lego piece. Liabilities– Jabba’s head is brown and green, the exact color of the lawn. Search begins.

4:30 pm: Search for Jabba’s head ends for the day due to lack of light.

7:00 pm: New Darth Vader Lego mini figure discovered missing.

8:00 pm: The Room Mom makes a margarita and tries not to think of the damaged toy sets that were new and perfect mere hours ago.

December 27

9:00 am: Mr. Star Wars continues the search for Jabba’s head. It rained during the night but is now sunny, so we hope Jabba will be easy to spot. Mr. Star Wars wears a new pair of Christmas pants and very carefully searches our yard and the neighbor’s yard on hands and knees in the wet grass.

chewed slide whistle

10:00 am: Dog eats wooden slide whistle Santa left in Miss Priss’ stocking. Work on the Playmobil Future Planet set begins. The Room Mom starts a load of laundry.

10:30 am: Dog chews Future Planet Playmobil man. The Room Mom saves man, but plastic Playmobil goggles lost. Dog’s reaction to the “Drop!” command improving.

Playmobil Future Planet Figure

December 28:

11:28: Kids head outside to ride EZ Rollers. The Room Mom stands at the edge of the driveway and notices a puddle of water sitting in a green plastic cup. Jabba’s head recovered!

Jabba the Hut Lego Head

1:00 pm: All boxes broken down and ready for garbage pick up. The Room Mom considers possible loose toy pieces in garbage pile.

December 29

11:30 am: Damage Assessment

  • One broken vase– repaired
  • One important Lego piece lost– recovered
  • One new pair of pants covered in dirt– laundered
  • One Darth Vader Mini Figure MIA– still unaccounted for
  • One wooden slide whistle eaten– thrown away **bonus** very noisy toy
  • One Playmobil man chewed– saved with minimal bite marks
  • Dog response to “Drop!” command– improving

Overall, minimal casualties and maximum gift enjoyment.

12:30 pm: The Room Mom begins working on a blog post to assure herself that she is not the only one who goes crazy over the missing and damaged tiny pieces of her children’s toys. The children, by the way, bypass the missing and damaged pieces and instantly create other ways to continue playing with the toys.