crafting a meaningful little project at a time

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Upcycled Notebook Tutorial

Find yourself snowed in? Why not upcycle a notebook and craft something beautiful and functional? Here’s how…
       1.       Find a new or used composition notebook… the 99 cent Wal-Mart kind.
       2.       Spread a thick layer of adhesive on front cover. Adhere scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, fabric, etc. Repeat with back cover.
       3.       Fold cover material at corners and adhere to inside of front and back covers (pretend you’re wrapping a gift).
       4.       Adhere ribbon, decorative tape, paper, etc. along spines- wrap to inside cover.
       5.       Adhere scraps of ribbon or paper to inside pages to create sections or tabs.
       6.       Spread a thick layer of adhesive on inside covers- decorate with paper, fabric, etc.
Now you have a personalized upcycled notebook! Make it as simple or as detailed as you want. I added a picture of the book I’m using for an upcoming Bible study. I plan to use this notebook to record my study notes and questions, reading assignments, and scripture work.
What will you use YOURS for?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

3 Ways to Make Facebook Work for YOU This Christmas Season

Here we are, almost halfway through the month of December, a couple weeks into Advent, and so close to Christmas you can almost count the days on two hands…how are you feeling? At peace, at rest, and prepared to celebrate the true reason for the season? Or do you find yourself overwhelmed, overstressed, and overloaded? Do you log onto Facebook each day and find yourself deflated, demoralized, and just asking yourself how everyone in your newsfeed seems to have more than you and do more than you…and you log off feeling bummed out? Don’t do it! I invite you to revisit the way you are using Facebook this Christmas season…or the way it’s using you! Here are three tips to help make Facebook work for YOU this Christmas season!

1.       Clean Up Your Newsfeed


Are certain “friends” blowing up your newsfeed with drama? Do you find yourself obsessing over one person’s constant updates about her great cooking skills, extravagant vacations, and general together-ness? Do you feel depressed, inadequate, and ineffective as a human being after viewing certain people’s status updates? Why are you torturing yourself? For Pete’s sake, just hide their updates from your newsfeed! If you feel like bumming yourself out someday, go ahead and look them up. But save your sanity and get that negativity out of your face. Flip this around. Are there certain Facebook friends who always seem to inspire you, brighten your day, or make you laugh? Be sure to like their posts often; this will make them show up regularly in your newsfeed.


2.       Be the Good You Wish to See on Facebook


You know those people who drive you crazy on Facebook? The ones who post 10 duck-face selfies a day…the ones who vague-book about something mysterious going on, waiting for someone- anyone- to ask what’s wrong…the ones whose posts make them sound absolutely perfect in every way…Don’t be that guy! Take a moment to scroll back down through your own wall posts over the course of the last month, and apply the preschool think-before-you-speak test to your posts. On the whole, do most of your posts meet the following five criteria:


T-      Is it true?

H-     Is it helpful?

I-        Is it inspiring?

N-   Is it necessary?

K-      Is it kind?


Ok, unless you’re really into image crafting and you’re trying to make yourself over into a nicey-nicey fake version of yourself, you’ll find that there are times you just want to vent a little bit and be snarky on your Facebook wall. But this idea still sticks- are you spewing hate and rage all over your wall, or are you looking for a little camaraderie and laughter from some folks with common issues? Give an honest look at what you’re putting out there, and if you don’t like what you see on your own wall, make a change.


3.       Add God to Your Newsfeed


This is the best strategy I can offer to bring you peace and perspective via social media this Christmas season: if you are looking for a way to put God at the center of your life this Christmas, get to Him on Facebook! He doesn’t have His own page, but there are plenty of faith-based pages out there that can point you to Him every time you pop onto Facebook.


Like the following pages:


·         Proverbs 31 Ministries

·         Ann Voskamp

·         KLOVE Radio

·         Good Morning Girls

·         Time-Warp Wife

·         Amanda Lynne Designs
·         Biblical Homemaking
Once you add these to your “Like” list, you’ll find that every few posts in your newsfeed are suddenly sprinkled with scripture, inspiring quotes, printable verses, and POSITIVE Christian messaging. Even if your newsfeed still has the kinds of posts that make you wonder, "What am I doing wrong that I can't be more like THIS guy?" At least those thoughts will be tempered by thoughts of "What can I do to be more like THIS Guy?"  :)

Now click back over to your Facebook page, and get to work: make Facebook work for YOU this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Treasure Hunt Scripture Advent Calendar

Can kids find more than candy in their advent calendar this year? Is it possible to spend advent turning them away from the world, and steering them toward the Word?
I came across this awesome, creative scripture-based advent calendar DIY on Pinterest, and would love to share it with you, along with a twist to make it even more interactive for the littles in your life!
This idea came from Sweeter Than Sweets in 2011- here is the link

I followed most of her directions to make the calendar itself, but I took it a step further to make it into a daily “treasure hunt” for the kids. Here’s what I did…

I bought a decorate-your-own paper mache advent box from Hobby Lobby with a 50% coupon, which means I paid about $8 for it. I used scrapbook paper from my own stash to cover the box fronts, and printed off the numbers using Microsoft Word.

I downloaded the scripture document she included for free on her site, and cut each verse apart. I made or collected the items she suggested from my own craft supplies, and I hit up Hobby Lobby and Michael’s for some of the more random things I didn't have on hand (tiny plastic babies from the baby shower aisle, for example). I customized this awesome idea a bit to fit more with my kids’ interest level and needs at this point.

Each day I place an envelope at the kids’ places at the breakfast table. One envelope contains the slip of paper with the day’s scripture printed on it- that child is responsible for getting the Bible and helping me look up and read the verses. The other envelope contains a clue to help that child find the object of the day. For example, the scripture the author of Sweeter Than Sweet included for Day 1 was Luke 1:26-28, 31...

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you… You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.’”

The object she suggested for use to represent this scripture reference was a craft store pair of angel’s wings. So I took my set of angel wings and taped them behind the kids’ toothbrush holder in their bathroom. The clue I left for my son that day said:

“Joey, God sent an angel to tell Mary she would have a baby…check for a sign where we make our smiles shine…”

So then his job was to go find the object, and both kids placed their stuff in the Day 1 box to look at again later. There are other great ideas for hands-on advent calendar activities that get kids away from the Santa and candy obsession and into the Word…in ways that don’t seem corny or forced. Check Pinterest- my Christmas board has a few I found, but there are tons of ideas out there…I’d love for you to share what you’re doing this season to get your kids’ (and YOUR) eyes fixed on Jesus in the midst of the wish lists and elf frenzies!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Make Your Mornings WORK!

The top two options for what to do when Mom’s taking a shower and getting ready for the day?

1.       Watch TV.

2.       Hang out with Mom in the bathroom.

No…and double no thanks!

But at four and five-and-a-half years old, giving my kids the freedom to roam the house and “find something to do while Mommy gets ready” is not a good plan. Huge messes get made, bickering sets in, it either gets really loud or really quiet- either of which is always a sign of trouble- and they just run amok.

Do you have this same trouble in the mornings?

To avoid these undesirable starts to the day, this summer I started setting out Morning Work the night before. I wondered how self-directed they would really be able to be, but they surprised me! After the first two days they caught on to the fact that their Morning Work would be sitting at their breakfast spots next to their cereal in the morning, and they started rushing out to the kitchen first thing to see what was waiting for them! Yes! I’d love to share with you what we’ve done so far…

The first week I printed off some Kindergarten readinessmixed practice pages from A Teeny Tiny Teacher just to see how they would go over. Little Lady raced right through, though she did get some good handwriting practice in. (I have a hard time working with the little lefty as far as penmanship goes.) Even though a lot of the skill practice was not challenging enough for Little Lady, much of it was above Little Man’s head. Since he wants to do everything Big Sis does, he dug in and powered through on his own, which I loved! She was happy to play teacher and explain the directions to him, and helped him give himself a star for his best-looking letters. She was a little hard on him about holding his pencil “the PreK way” (as in not grasped in his fist), but we’re working on that one!

The second week’s morning work brought these little MyPrinting Practice Books from United Art and Education - I think I picked them up for something like $2 apiece. These could have easily been made on the computer, but my ink and time-to-commit to projects was running low, so I splurged! These were a big hit too because each kid got to personalize his or her own book, but they were kind of dry and redundant (in my opinion).

I had to spice things up on Wednesday of that week with these memory practice necklaces I put together! Each necklace includes a set of sight word cards, our home phone number, our address, Mommy’s full name, Daddy’s full name, each child’s birthday, the name of the kids’ school, our family’s favorite memory verse, and the scripture verse theme for the new school year. I printed the sight word cards, which included the blank cards to customize, from Tip Junkie. I shrunk the cards down to half size, laminated and hole-punched them, and strung them on necklaces with beads to show which one belonged to which kid. The kids thought these were AWESOME- we’ve kept one in the car and one in the kitchen to practice, and they think they’re hot stuff when they get the “right” answers!

This week we are trying something new: a combination of self-guided drawing lessons and sight word/printing practice. The littles were asking how to draw this and that all last week, from Lego men to dogs to houses to broccoli, which warms this artist-momma’s soul:  I LOVE working on drawings with them! Little Lady especially gets frustrated with stick people because they don’t look “real.” If I could toss aside what I was working on and do drawing lessons with them on a whim, I would be one happy momma…but I too often find myself putting them off or redirecting them when I’m engaged in other, oh, I don’t know, work! I don’t want to let the passion for drawing fade, though, so I found these simple how-to-draw templates on a site designed to support children with special needs called Do2Learn.
I would recommend this site for any and all children, regardless of where their needs lie: this site is chock-full of any kind of developmental, academic, or skill practice printables and activities I could think of- what an amazing resource!  So I took their how-to-draw examples and kicked them up a notch: I pasted the drawing tutorials into Microsoft Word documents, added a spot for them to write their names at the top, and used a teacher dotted font to write sight word traceable sentences  at the bottom of each page. I made a page for each of the weekdays around the theme of castles, because we have been singing nothing but Kingdom Rock songs from VBS for the last three weeks! We have a castle, princess, prince, dragon, and wizard to work on this week. The first day, the day of drawing the castle, the kids had slept in a bit, so I was able to take a few peeks at their work as I was getting things ready in the kitchen. Loved, loved, LOVED the industrious work and conversation I got to eavesdrop upon! The Little Lady really took off with the page, adding Rapunzel’s tower, a pathway, and other scenery, chatting the whole time about what she was adding and why. Yes! The Little Man worked hard on his castle, tongue poked out through pursed lips, until he came to the windows. He decided he’d rather have circular windows, and once he drew those in, they looked so much like eyes that his picture quickly turned into a Transformer with arms and legs- perfect! I can’t wait to see what the next day’s drawings will look like!

Morning Work has revolutionized our mornings- the kids are not only out of the bathroom while I’m getting ready (yay rah!) and they’re not melting into puddles of ooze in front of the TV first thing after they wake up, but they are excited about finding out what cool new learning activities are waiting for them each morning! My routine has been to troll Pinterest here and there throughout the week to gather ideas, and I spend the last half hour or so before I go to bed on Sundays getting five days-worth of activities printed and set on the breakfast bar, along with any materials they need to do the work. That way everything’s there the night before, ready to set out with the breakfast supplies. The few minutes it takes to gather ideas & supplies and to plan ahead have made our mornings so much more peaceful and productive…just another great way to craft every day!