Masthead header

Back to School: Homemade Pizza (and a yummy dessert)

back to school pizza night dinnerWith school back in session, meals that can be whipped up quickly and still taste delicious are always needed.  My favorite is homemade pizza, but since I seem to be in a back to school mood, and I needed a party-ish thing for our middle child’s birthday, I made it into a back to school pizza night – with a dessert treat just for the birthday guy.:)

Here are all the details:

For the placemats, I cut a large black foam board (from Hobby Lobby) into fourths.

chalkboard placemat  1Then I covered each with chalk.
chalkboard placemat 2With a paper towel, I smeared the chalk all over it.
chalkboard placemat 3

Then I wrote in my best second grade student handwriting:)on each placemat.  One read I will not push in line.  One read I will not throw paper airplanes. Another had I will not talk in class, and the final one said, I will remember to raise my hand.

back to school centerpieceFor the centerpiece, I used a potted mum wrapped in three paper napkins that were printed with the alphabet and then tied with red grosgrain ribbon.  School supplies (books, chalk, eraser, and pencils) were added to the table for a few more school details.

back to school dinner tableI had some paper rulers, and they made great napkin rings.
back to school placemat

For this simple meal, we just had our homemade pizza and Caesar salad.  I had planned to make some garlic knots to have with it, but we had our Open House at school tonight, so the bread got cut from the menu.:(back to school dinnerThe pizza was super easy to make.  Spray a large cast iron skillet with vegetable oil.  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons corn meal mix in the bottom of the pan.  Then line the pan with refrigerated pizza dough.   pizza crust in panBrown 1 pound ground beef in a skillet with 1/2 t. garlic salt, 2 t. parsley, 1/2 t. ground oregano, and 2 t. basil.  Drain.  Spread 1/2 c. tomato basil pasta sauce  on the dough.  Top with the browned ground beef. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Put 2 c. grated mozzarella on top of the beef, and then top that with pepperoni slices.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 ready for oven

Fresh from the oven.

homemade pizza Talk of the House

homemade pizza recipe Talk of the House

Since we were celebrating middle child’s birthday (belatedly) and he is a true lover of peanut butter, I thought a peanut butter pie(complete with oreo cookie crust) would be better than a cake.  (Plus we have had quite a few birthday cakes this month!)
peanut butter pie

Here is the recipe (but I forgot to add that I drizzled a little bit of chocolate sauce on it before serving.)

frozen peanut butter pie recipe Talk of the House

And that was our simple pizza night with peanut butter pie for dessert.

peanut butter pie Talk of the House

 I hope you will enjoy a pizza night one evening soon – perhaps on this Labor Day weekend!:) We are hanging out here for the holiday just trying to finish up all the packing for our sons’ move. Do you have big plans as we bid farewell to Summer?

We’d love to hear!

a signature

Louvina - August 28, 2014 - 11:49 pm

What a neat BD supper/back to school theme! Seems like you are always in some transitional phase with your family. But in all the hustle and bustle, you still find so many ways to make it special and a time to remember. How are you dealing with all these changes and full time teaching? We are off to the beach for our first “mini” vaca away! Right in the midst of remodeling bathroom (oh my) and my class reunion trip ( 50 years! Oh my) Trying to handle all the to do lists so I won’t forget anything!! No stress, mind you— but really enjoying everything! Really ready to bid summer weather farewell– especially this terrible hot weather. So looking forward to my favorite season– Autumn– where are you?! :)

L J - August 29, 2014 - 12:21 am

Kelly, you do amaze me with all you manage to get done! Whew, do you sleep? lol The place mats are just the right touch–cute too. I do remember being disciplined and required to write 100x “I will not talk in class”…and at that more than on one occasion.
Birthdays–my son requests mint chocolate chip ice cream pie with chocolate cookie crumb crust for his birthday desert; his day is Aug 22. I’m sure your son and the entire family enjoyed the peanut butter pie–sounds yummy. Is a going-away or movin’ out party in the offing for you/your son?

Debra - August 29, 2014 - 7:37 am

Oh my gosh woman! Cute enough for a Pottery Barn Kids catalog photo, I swear!! Though this is a simple meal, it still took enough time to put together. I loved those placemats. Your family is blessed. I will have to try your version of homemade pizza. Your frozen pie sounds yummy too. Not sure what our weekend will bring yet, though every Labor Day brings a birthday on September 1st, for our third daughter. Yes, I labored on Labor day! Birthday celebrations here too. Smiles… :)

Jill - August 29, 2014 - 7:47 am

I love your table….especially the placemats. So cute! I never thought of making pizza in my cast iron skillet. Great idea! I bet it gives the crust a nice crisp. This weekend we are going to make homemade personal pizzas using pita bread for the crust. It makes a good, easy crust and the kids enjoy picking out what to put on their own little pizza.

Arlene@Nanaland - August 29, 2014 - 8:11 am

Two new recipes!! Yippee! The writing on the placemats reminds me of the NO DAVID books that all of my grandchildren have enjoyed! I received my giveaway package in the mail yesterday Kelly….Your calligraphy made the package so pretty and special. I was truly blessed to be chosen as the winner!!

Garden, Home and Party - August 29, 2014 - 8:18 am

The table turned out so well. I love the idea of the black(?) foam core board and then chalked words. Your pizza looks delicious and I am definitely going to try that sometime this weekend. I’ve never thought of putting it in a cast iron skillet but I can see the benefit…nice crust and sides to hold all of the yummy goodness.
Happy birthday to your son.
Enjoy your long weekend.

Jackie Caruso - August 29, 2014 - 10:19 am

You are just too clever!!! I love everything about this back to school themed celebration. I have four adult children, one of which is a school teacher, and six grandchildren and we try to get together the weekend before school starts to mourn the end of summer. Your table decorations and settings would sure help to cheer us up.

Shannon - August 29, 2014 - 11:53 am


Julia - August 29, 2014 - 1:09 pm

I love the pizza in a cast iron skillet! I will be trying this soon. Also, very clever back to school themed party. Happy belated birthday to your middle child!

Bonnie Bryant - August 29, 2014 - 7:35 pm

Had my Labor Day fun earlier this week. Just got back from the Cashiers Decorator Showhouse, spurred in that direction by your visit last year. General consensus from everyone was that it was not as good as last year’s, but I did enjoy it. What I enjoyed most was the shopping in both Cashiers and Ashville. Came home through the lovely little town of Landrum, S.C. Just went to one antique mall there, but the town is definitely calling me back for a longer visit!

Paula B. - August 30, 2014 - 4:10 pm

Loved the tablescape, I don’t know when you have the time to think up and execute all your decorating ideas. AND, manage a home, a family, and a teaching career. Phew! This pizza recipe is one I will definitely be making for “the girls” – it looks so easy and delicious. Had hoped to get to the Cape for a few days, but I am getting ready for the first of my knee surgeries and not getting around so well. However, I am managing to bake a few chocolate treats for our weekend, what with a cookout and a few game nights planned. We are having fabulous “September” weather with warm sunshine, a breeze, and temps in the high seventies (and nights going into the fifties). I know that sounds delightful, but it is a tad cool for swimming! Hope you have some fun amid the straightening up and enjoy the long weekend. Yep, we finally head back to school this coming week!

phyllis - August 30, 2014 - 7:12 pm

Genius! I love the placemats :)
I make pizza often due to a picky 15 y.o. …you know how that goes…I love Caesar salad and haven’t thought about it in forever (thank you).

Dawn - August 31, 2014 - 10:45 am


I love the back to school themed birthday party idea. Thanks for sharing your homemade pizza recipe. I will have to make that one night soon. This weekend we are at the lake house relaxing with the family.

Nan, Odessa, DE - September 1, 2014 - 8:11 am

Thanks for sharing!
Enjoyed your celebration.
Tell me about the red plaid drapes (where to buy, name of fabric) and you do get good mileage using your red napkins.
Where can I purchase them. The red just makes what you write and show so enjoyable. I am a big fan of yours and the color RED!

Back to School: Homework Stations

girls room desk Talk of the HouseWe have looked at classrooms and back-to-school parties in our last few posts.  Now let’s take a look at some very pretty spaces for getting the dreaded homework done.  When I was a young student, I seem to remember doing my homework at the kitchen table, but now there are entire rooms devoted to that chore.  I like how the desk spaces are back to back in the room below.

bhg homework

The beadboard ceiling and  wall treatment add so much texture and detail in the next one.  Be sure you also note how the cubbies are labelled – small chalkboards!

birmingham homework

A good homework place should have great lighting. Each desk below has its own light, and there are sconces by the window seat (not to mention all the wonderful natural light pouring in from the window there.)

colorful homework

And a homework space should have plenty of storage.  (You know I couldn’t resist that map with the gingham continents!:))

homework area with gingham

Even the youngest of children can appreciate a table and chair for their work.

red and gray homework

There is a lot to love in this one…the bright colors, the bookshelves with contrasting back,  and that cute striped rug.

Trevor Tondro

The next one can easily accomodate three people. Don’t you like the bookshelves built in there and those glass doors?

homework station for several

Storage baskets help to keep things organized.

kid cave homework

How about a closet turned into a homework space?

closet homework

All the homework supplies – from crayons to markers to scissors – are smartly stored in cans at the clever desk below.

homework station with

The lamp in the next one is beautiful! Wish I could find one like that for myself.:)

homework station with double

I like the idea of the homework area being separate from but close by the kitchen like in the one shown here.

homework station off

Now let’s take a look at a few commericial ones.

rhbaby and child homework area with

pbkids homework

pbteen homework

I loved this bedroom with its soothing neutral color scheme.

childrens bedroom study space in

If our children had been seated side by side when doing their homework, it would have never gotten finished.  It would have been too easy to just talk, play, and generally be distracted by the other siblings.  So this separated work station unit would have certainly helped.

homework area with divided

Without some kind of separation, I am sure our house would have been like this!


Do you have a favorite from all of these cute and clever spaces? (Mine was the one with the tan plaid and the black and white photography.:))

I’ll have more back to school eye candy for you soon.

Hope you are having a great week!

a signature

Martha - August 27, 2014 - 7:17 am

These are all great. I like them, but wonder how many get used. Like you, I did my homework at the kitchen table and so did my children. The nice study areas we created in their rooms were rarely used to study. My middle child had the best desk, it was a built in 6 feet long, with lots of storage and book shelves that he kept a huge mess all the time. When he was about 13 and had ignored repeated warnings to clean it I had a “Mommy Dearest” moment and shoved it all on the floor. That was 25 years ago and my kids still talk about it. I was not a neat freak, but enough is enough…….
Anyway, sorry to inject a bit of realism in an otherwise lovely post about beautiful study areas.We can all dream…have a great day!

Kathy - August 27, 2014 - 7:57 am

I like the room with the Tomy clock. (Isn’t that what they are called?) But I love the chairs/stools in the Restoration Hardware ad. I like a little of that industrial look. Will you tell Martha (comment above) that we are forgiven for those “PMS Mommy moments”. I had a similar one with spilled glitter that my kids still talk about. I miss the time when my children were young but I don’t miss homework time.

Arlene@Nanaland - August 27, 2014 - 8:55 am

I love all those homework spaces but it did bring to mind my own homework space in our small country house! It was on the sofa and as I worked on my homework i had one eye out for Gilligan’s Island as it played on the tv! My mom could never understand how I could do homework and watch tv at the same time but it worked for…

Louvina - August 27, 2014 - 8:59 am

I enjoyed looking at all the study areas but to be honest I truly like your daughter’s the best! My kids had desk areas but always liked the dining table to do their HW. I remember I got a metal desk and chair as a child and I loved it AND used it! Later I received a portable typewriter and it was the best thing ever. We lived in a really small place so I was delighted to have my own special area to really study. I am so amazed how far technology has brought us! How did we ever make it without computers!!? My greatest wish was to have a set of World Books–my parents couldn’t afford them– so my very first job -that was the first thing I bought my children– just donated them to the after school ” Gramma’s House” at church. It really pulled my heart strings to part with them– even though I allowed my granddaughter to cut out pictures and maps for reports. Oh how I loved those books! Remember Child Craft? Sweet memories for book lovers!

Garden, Home and Party - August 27, 2014 - 9:05 am

I would love more than one of these spaces for myself! Both of our sons had desks in their rooms and actually used them most of the time. They never looked as orderly as these unless mom tidied up for visitors. :-)
The little white desk with the monogrammed lamp shade is particularly charming. Oh, and my desk, which I rarely use, is in a converted closet in our study. Mr. B. uses the built-in desk along the wall opposite the closet desk set up.
Your daughters desk (the image on top was your daughters, wasn’t it?) is so pretty and I love the bulletin board.
Fun images.

Jayne - August 27, 2014 - 10:09 am

I also noticed all the red! We also did homework at the kitchen table. When they got older, they did homework in their rooms. One thing did stay consistent, though. Homework was done as soon as they got home from school. They started this habit themselves when the twins were in second grade. Whew ‘Cause it never would have happened had I set that rule.
I think my favorite was the second one. I love the twister floor! Back to back keeps their eyes off of each other and their attention a little more focused.

Becky in 'Bama - August 27, 2014 - 1:44 pm

I’ve commented before that currently my daughter and SIL are between churches, and living close to my home – where my daughter homeschools the FIVE children…yes five. Needless to say I covet (sorry) any these spaces that could be used by the grands. One of my upstairs bedrooms is the school room and to say it is a bit of a mess would be laughable. There is a desk in the room which the oldest uses, with the others at a card table and a child’s table. Though they are beautiful to look at, I scratch my head at all the “white” furniture in these pics because my experience is that ALL my grands will write on a surface in a New York minute (particularly the 3 year old). The commercial setup would be the only reasonable one in my situation. Yes as a child we did homework at the kitchen table, but as a teen I progressed to a small desk in my bedroom which I loved – because I could shut the door to my three rowdy brothers. ~grins~

Vicki - August 27, 2014 - 3:29 pm

I like your top image the best, with the lamp inside the cabinet. Very quiet and cozy space to work- reminds me a little of a library study carrel. The jar of drinks probably also helps keep a student motivated! My daughter has a desk in her room, but ends up doing homework wherever the spirit moves her- the noisier the spot, the better. Go figure.

Debra - August 27, 2014 - 9:36 pm

Ok, I have to say my favorites in your post are first the cute closet work station. I have seen that picture before. How convenient and cool is it that you would only have to just close the doors to hide the messy desk. My second is the tan plaid that you favor as well. I think though, it is a bit bland. How about a pop of color to spice it up? Maybe like our favorite red or green?? Well, I have to say, though we have desks in the kids bedrooms, I have too often caught them with their computers on their laps sitting on their beds. How’s that for a comfortable work station! :) Something about lap tops, I am sitting in my chair by the French door right now. Eek! Oh, work stations…. P. S. I really love your little kitchen work station, chalkboard and all! :)


Dawn - August 28, 2014 - 5:28 pm


I really like these homework stations. The first one is my favorite and I think it might be in your daughters room? My second favorite is the separated stations by It would work nicely in any home and could even transition for work/office space for grown kids or adults. The mix of cabinetry, hard woods and counter tops is what draws me in.

Back to School: The Parties

back to school partiesHappy Weekend! In all my back-to-school perusing on the web, I have run across a zillion cute cute parties that I want to share with you today.  I stole the photo above from our school themed Valentine’s dinner because all the decorations fit these celebrations so well.  If you didn’t see it back in February, you can check it out here.  Our daughter’s graduation party a couple of years ago, also fits with it nicely.  You can see it here.

school theme centerpiecesource

And here are some that I have run across this week that you might like.  Enjoy!

back to school party with apple

back to school party with school

(Here is the school supply favor table for the party above.)

back to school party with school supplies favor

back to school party and printables

back to school party with Lauren Haddox

back to school party with crayon box

Junie B. party would work for a back to school party

back to school party with tree decoration

back to school with cake

back to school party with yellow

Back to school

back to school party

If you need a few ideas for food for a back to school dinner, how about these?

food for party

 foods for

And if you are doing the back to school theme for older kids, here are an couple of centerpieces more fitting for them.

back to school

back to school theme decor

Hope these photos have given you a few ideas for your own back to school celebration (or maybe just some fun eye candy for your weekend!:))  Our Saturday is cuh-razy today with a yard sale for my mom, our oldest coming in from training in Dallas and packing to move to Seattle, our middle son coming in either tonight or tomorrow from finishing his summer job in Atlanta and packing to move to Seattle with brother, daughter home to attend a bridal shower with me for the fiance of my nephew…and somewhere in there we need to fit in a belated birthday party for middle child.  I will need to remember this hectic weekend in a couple of weeks when the house is super duper silent.

apple table

Our internet provider is doing some MAJOR upgrading this weekend, so I will be without internet service here until Sunday evening (and no, I do not have a smartphone.)  I hope to be back with either details on a back to school dinner here or some home decorating soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time…

a signature

Judy - August 23, 2014 - 6:30 pm

all of these have some great take away ideas kelly….you should have added to this list a photo of your classroom door from a couple of years back that you featured….you do/did an outstanding job of welcoming your students to school!

sounds like you have an overflowing plate this weekend…i hope you find a few minutes of time for yourself and a good book!

L J - August 23, 2014 - 6:34 pm

Hi Kelly
Love the ideas especially the display with the sunflowers. I’m on faculty at a local community college and I’m thinking I’m going to “borrow” that idea and use it in the lobby near my office.
I’m an empty-nester and I agree it is important to treasure those times when everyone was home. Enjoy the family time!

Louvina - August 23, 2014 - 8:04 pm

Enjoyed it so much! Love the lunch box ideas and your tablescapes are right up there with the best of them –for me!! My goodness girl how do you catch your breath on weekends like this?! But sounds like so much fun!! My gang is off to Disney for the weekend and I was invited but in this heat, I declined. But when I saw the Wilderness Lodge Hotel lobby pictures — what was I thinking! I could have had a great time there hanging out!! Will be watching for the next update.

Debra - August 23, 2014 - 8:06 pm

Love…Love those DIY apple party plates. So cute. I have those red polka dot napkins and white dot paper. Hmm, that would be fun for a casual fall dinner after going apple picking, maybe? Fall will be here sooner than we think. The end of August and early September are always hot for the kids at school. Never fails. These temps lately of 90′s with heavy humidity, can leave please. Still love those number plates. Wish they were current. Boo hoo. Well, enjoy your busy, busy weekend with your children. Birthday wishes to your son. Ok, now I have to go back and check out a few of the links Kelly, as I am sure there is more eye candy to enjoy. :) Thanks.

Katrina - August 23, 2014 - 8:07 pm

Oops…. you got another post out before I had time to comment on the last one!
I love,love,loved all the pictures of your classroom and the doors on your hall! I am with Kathy…. It ALMOST made me miss teaching with the key word being “almost”….LOL! I would be so excited if I was a student and walked onto a hallway with all that cuteness!
My granddaughter’s 4th birthday party was today. The theme was pinwheels! My daughter’s due date is in 16 days so she was happy it was a success and can be marked off her list!
A friend and I are thinking about going to the Cashier’s Designer house next weekend. You aren’t going, are you?
Loved this post too… You know I always love all of them!

Dawn - August 23, 2014 - 8:07 pm


This is all too cute! I love the back to school party idea. Thanks for sharing it all with us. Good luck with your internet.

Arlene@Nanaland - August 23, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Love all those cute party ideas Kelly. I will be thinking of you as you adjust to all those life changes with the children moving away from home. At least you will have a new place to visit!!

Kathy - August 23, 2014 - 10:24 pm

I just had to get rid of my teaching materials. I don’t know why I was hanging onto them…but our hardware store building (where they were stored) sold and I had to decide whether to toss or keep and with all of that is going on, I had to toss. Now, I am seeing your cute ideas and thinking….I could have used that for…Oh, well! (I did try to give my materials to younger teachers but I guess they wanted their own new stuff.)
I hope you are planning trips to Seattle. I think it looks like a fun place to visit…all of the antique markets, etc.
If you can, look at Katrina’s facebook page. She has the cutest photos of her granddaughter’s pinwheel party.
This post reminds me of the first day of kindergarten for our daughter. I had a Barbie cake made for her. (The doll was actually in the cake and her dress was the cake.) I see the influence of scrapbooking in the decorating above and in your previous post. Take it easy, Kelly!

Martha - August 24, 2014 - 8:35 am

You always come up with the best table decorations. I have laughed at the back to school parties….I think they would have to be for moms, not kids. Although as happy as I was for school to start, about a month later when we were bogged down with homework and after school activities, I longed for the long days of summer.

I hope you don’t have withdrawal pains with your internet down. I just got mine back this morning after 24 hours and I feel like a junkie with a fix. I hate I am addicted to it and I’m like you, no smart phone (yet).

Paula B. - August 24, 2014 - 9:03 am

Such cute ideas, very festive. I was thinking, though, of all my teacher pals and how sad they are to see summer coming to an end. However, most are eagerly decorating their rooms and getting set to get into a routine as Fall comes our way. I still (six years out) feel the nostalgic pull of the school bell as each September rolls around. Hope you have tons of fun this weekend despite the hectic pace. Good luck to daughter returning to college and to the boys heading out to Seattle. Yay for new adventures!

Amanda @ Dixie Delights - August 24, 2014 - 9:11 am

very cute ideas!! I love every single one you chose!!!

DiAnne - August 24, 2014 - 10:50 am

Love these school decorating posts. Like others mentioned, these posts make me ALMOST miss school. You must be a fabulous teacher.
I hope you visit Seattle. It is beautiful. Our daughter has been there the past three years on business and each time she discovers something new. I hear there is a train ride up the Pacific. Coast from Seattle that is breathtakingly beautiful and reasonable in price.
Take care,

Barbara (WA) - August 24, 2014 - 11:11 am

I see trips to Seattle in your future! I grew up in Renton (south Seattle) but now live across Elliot Bay from downtown. When it is beautiful here, it is gorgeous! Just curious if your sons are attending college here or working. My son works at Microsoft.

Garden, Home and Party - August 25, 2014 - 9:38 am

There are some cute ideas. By far my favorite tables and clever accessories are those you created! I’d want to hire you as a party planner every time. :-) I really like the sunflower table too.
I’m thrilled for the new adventure your sons are about to embark on…as a blog friend and “MOM” I’d give you a hug and invite you to lunch to help with the transition. These transitions are always a little difficult for us parents.

Design Chic - August 25, 2014 - 3:24 pm

You are one busy lady – don’t know how you keep the comings and goings straight. Love the idea of a back to school party and so many cute ideas. Your daughter’s graduation party was amazing – wonderful attention to detail!!

Jayne - August 26, 2014 - 9:30 am

All of these are super cute ideas! How easy to incorporate into the classroom as well. Like the one from Instead of the food, the teacher could put out some school supplies. (Found for cheap of course! Or maybe even donated from stores, churches.)There are always those parents who struggle buy even the basic supplies. I see labels for supplies and cabinets, bulletin board ideas, door decorations. Almost makes me wish I were back in the classroom. Almost! Thanks for the inspiration! Hope you have your best year yet!

S u b s c r i b e   b y   E m a i l