August 2013Occasionally Crafty: August 2013

Thursday, August 29

Three Things Thursday #3

Don't forget to enter the Polaroid 300 camera giveaway here!

Three Recipes I Pinned that I Actually Tried!

I actually have a board called "I Tried It and I Liked It".  Thanks Yo Gabba Gabba for the name.  "Try it- you'll like it!  Try it- you'll like it!"
It needs updating, but when I try a recipe I've pinned I move it over there.  
Here are three I've tried that are GOOD
1. Sunday Waffles from Jennifer at Tasty Kitchen.
Most of the time I pop Eggos in the toaster for my kids, but this is a delicious and easy homemade waffle recipe for when I have a little more time.  They are light and fluffy, and I LOVE the hint of cinnamon.  This is my new go-to waffle recipe.
2.  Baked Tortellini from Reini Days.  
I usually just toss my tortellini in a Ragu sauce and serve it with bread.  But this time I wanted something a little better, so I went searching for recipes.  This one was perfect-- I had everything on hand and it was quick and easy!  I've never made my own alfredo sauce before, but it could not have been easier.  My family scarfed this one down!
3.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars from Bake at 350.
This is an older recipe that I pinned a long time ago, and I've made it often.  I usually make these for guests or potlucks, and they disappear so fast I rarely get any for myself.  Seriously- you HAVE to try this one.

Have you had success with the recipes you've pinned on Pinterest?  What's been your favorite?  (Links appreciated- I'd love to pin and try them myself!)
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Tuesday, August 27

DIY Ruler Growth Chart

I'm sure most of us have seen the gigantic wood ruler growth charts out there. I've been meaning to have a growth chart in my home for a long time (my boys are 5 and 7, oops!), so I went online to buy one. 
Whoa! Those things are like $80 a pop! I was feeling like I wanted to buy instead of make one, but the sticker shock changed my mind. I knew I could make my own for much less.

First I started with a piece of wood. The neighborhood that we live in is still in its growth period, so there are lots of wood scraps to be had for free. I chose a good sturdy piece of wood and trimmed it to 6 1/2 feet. It's probably about 6 inches across. I just wanted to have room for my vinyl measurings, and also to write in the boys' measurements.


Next we weathered and stained the wood. I say we because my husband was a huge helper in all this! We are in the process of staining our fence so we used the same stain for the growth chart.  We weathered it by smacking the board with a bag full of screws and taking a hammer to the wood. Once it was stained the effects looked pretty awesome!

Next we attached it to the wall using 3 screws and anchors. Then it was time for vinyl. I went to the Silhouette Online Store and found a design by Amy Robison that worked well. I wanted to cut the hash tags AND the numbers out, so I used her design for the hashtags, and just found a font with numbers I liked and cut them out too. I cut them out, weeded out the excess and applied with transfer tape. MEASURE CAREFULLY! 

Now I can measure my boys on their first and last day of school to see how much they grow!

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Monday, August 26

Sassy Steals GIVEAWAY!

Just in case you need another awesome daily deal site to get addicted to, today I'd like to introduce you to Sassy Steals.

Sassy Seals offers daily online deals on womens jewelry, womens trendy clothing and other handmade crafts. 
Here are some examples of recent deals they've had:

I love these initial  necklaces!

They have cute clothing deals, like tunic tank:

And they even have home decor deals, like these sweet chevron table runners.

Visit for women's fashion deals and weekly giveaways!  Use code sassy15 at checkout for 15% off your first purchase!

Today Sassy Steals is giving one of you the chance to win this fun Polaroid 300 camera and film, in your choice of purple, blue or black- a $90 value!

This camera is a novelty in this day when we take hundreds of photos, but rarely print them.  The Polaroid 300 prints instant, business-card size photos with all the nostalgia of the "old days" but a heightened quality and sharpness.  It has Auto flash in low light, an auto-adujst electronic shutter to 1/60 second, manual exposure compensation, and four scene settings to capture the perfect photo in any light.

This is a fun, highly-rated camera that makes a great gift or a fun tool for a party, wedding or other event where you want to capture the moment and send someone off with a photo.  

Entries to win are simple- just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  This giveaway is for the US only.  I'll announce a winner next Monday on Facebook and via email- so make sure you are checking your spam folders and that you've liked our page!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, August 23

Back to School Chore Charts

Chores. Jobs.  Daily Tasks.  Whatever you call them, your kids have them.   I don't know about your kids, but mine have a lot to keep track of.  
During the summer, it's making their beds, cleaning their rooms, reading, practicing the piano, and doing chores around the house.
But once school starts, it's kind of hard to make sure everything is getting done.  Mommy The kids need some help to remember what needs to be done each day.  So I looked online for some great printable chore charts and made our own little Command Center.
I decided to use these charts by Pinch a Little, Save a Lot. The best thing about them is you can edit them in Adobe before you print them out.  So the work is pretty much done for you!
I downloaded one boy chart and one girl chart, and got them all customized with my kids' daily responsibilities.  But we can't just hang them on the wall.  Oh no, that's not "cute" enough.
I spruced up some clipboards,
hung them on the walls, laminated the chore charts and added them to the clipboards.

A dry erase marker hung from a string helps them check off their chores each day.
Now I make sure my kids are doing their daily reading and math facts, and the kids know they can't get away with "forgetting" to do something.
Now, we don't tie allowances to chores, but I know some people give rewards for checking off all their chores each day or week.  If they have a good week, I might take them out for ice cream or something as a thank you for being so responsible.  But I EXPECT them to do their jobs each day- it's part of being in school and being a member of our family.  I hope I'm helping them develop this so over time it becomes part of their character.
Do you do chore charts with your kids?  How do you help them keep organized?
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Thursday, August 22

Three Things Thursday

Three Things I love about Colorado Springs

  1. The Scenery- Let's face it, the mountains are gorgeous and close. Whenever we are outdoors we have a spectacular view. Pikes Peak is the most prominent mountain in our area and it often appears to be purple, which is where we get the 'purple mountain's majesty' phrase from America the Beautiful. The clouds roll over the mountains and create fascinating storms and cloud patterns. There's never a dull moment. We love hiking, camping and just being out and about in these great outdoors!
  2. Being closer to family- We were stationed in Korea before living here, so even just being in America is closer to family, but being in the West puts us within a day's drive from most people, and a good stopping point when people are on their way to somewhere else. Family is important and we love seeing more of them.
  3. Having a home- I know we could accomplish this in any location, but it is our first home! Home ownership has been a lot of work, but very satisfying. I've loved slowly altering the rooms to fit our taste and style. Tuesday was our one year mark in our home, and we are looking forward to our future here. We don't know how long we'll be stationed here, but we plan to rent out the home and come back.
Three Things that drive me crazy about Colorado Springs
  1. The layout- We all have things that drive us crazy about our town. The first thing I noticed was how weird some of the road designs and parking lots are. I've been in plenty of cities to know that it is possible to make a usable parking lot, or to have roads that go over train tracks so you don't have to back track a few miles to get to a main road. Lots of things don't connect, names of streets change to a new name, and then back to the old one. It's kind of annoying.
  2. The food- After the plentiful amount of amazing ethnic food that was at our disposal in Korea, we've become food snobs. We don't want chili's or applebee's, we want the good local mexican restaurant, the good thai place, even indian food. We have yet to find something that we love. We've visited family and friends in the past year and enjoyed their local cuisine, but still not much here. Kind of a bummer.
  3. Our ward boundaries- The LDS church sets boundaries in a city so you know which congregation you are a part of and to help keep some wards from being tiny and others being huge. Well, our boundaries include the whole of Ft. Carson, and a skinny West-East line of homes. Well, we don't live on post and live closer to two other church buildings than the one we are assigned to. There are folks in our ward who can see the church building and have to drive clear east to the Broadmoor area to attend church. Our ward uses that building, but the building is not even in our stake. It takes 15-20 minutes to get to. We've driven that far for church, but not when passing two other churches.... kind of a pain. Love the people in our ward, but hate driving that far, especially in winter.
Well now you know a little more about where I live! I should also mention that the Hobby Lobby is like 20 minutes north of my home too, lol! :)
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Monday, August 19

Personalized Backpack Hooks

When my kids get home from school, they do the following things:
1.  Take off their shoes and dump playground sand all over my carpet.
2.  Drop their backpacks on the floor right in front of the door.
3.  Give me a hug and ask for a snack.
I love #3, but 1 and 2 drive me crazy!  So this year I'm going to do something about it!

Disclaimer:  My children are in elementary school, and they only bring home folders with worksheets, lunchboxes, and the occasionally workbook.  Therefore, I use Command Hooks.  They WILL NOT WORK with heavier backpacks. Use real hooks! :)

I hit up the store for some hooks that matched our little entryway decor.  Then I followed the instructions on the command hooks to align and attach them to the wall.  I made one for my youngest too even though he is two. whole. years. away from going to school.

After that, I cut a simple frame and monogram from vinyl, using my Silhouette Cameo.  I haven't used it much this summer and I missed it!

That's it!  Since school has started my kids have been awesome about hanging up their backpacks.  It's so much better, and I'm not nagging them to put those backpacks away, or tripping over them anymore!

Totally unrelated:  but since it made it in the picture:  I love this little shelf!  We put pictures of each of our kids when they were newborns.  It always makes me smile as I'm going in or coming out of the house.
Stay tuned for how I'm keeping my KIDS organized for school later this week!
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Thursday, August 15

Three Things Thursday

Three Things I'm pinning this week
1) We desperately need a new mailbox!  It's so bad it will require its own post when I redo it.  But for now, I'm pinning inspiration.  What do you think- would you use any of these makeover ideas?
Marvelous Mailbox Makeovers
Link here.
Pin it here
2) I LOVE Navajo Tacos!  Our young women's group made these for a fundraiser dinner once, and they were SO yummy!  

Link here
Pin it here

3) I totally want to do this in my house.  But I don't have a skinny wall :(   Maybe in my tiny toilet room?  Does anyone else have a bathroom where the sink and shower are together and the toilet is in its own little room?  I find it strange- but it works!

Sunshine photo wall-1
Link here.
Pin it here.
Three Songs I Can't Get Enough Of Right Now

1) Gone, Gone Gone by Phillip Phillips.  Guys, I am so torn about this guy.  I initally tagged him as a cheap Dave Matthews copycat, down to the funky dancing and everything.  But  what can I say?  I'm loving his music!  
2) When I Was Your Man by Bruno Mars.  I don't know if I actually like Bruno Mars the person, but I adore his voice.  You can just hear the passion in it when he sings.  Plus, he is so fun to watch on stage!
3) I Will See You Again by Carrie Underwood.  Love. This. Song.  No blasphemy to Carrie, but the first time I heard it I thought of Glee.  It just sounds like a song Glee would cover.  I'm calling it now- this will be in the Cory Monteith/Finn memorial episode.  Can't you just see Lea Michele singing this with the Glee kids backing her?  Are you listening Ryan Murphy?
What are you listening to right now?  I'd love to take a listen!

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Monday, August 12

Back to School Family Dinner

That's right folks- we're back in school!  It's hard to believe it, but we've already been back in school for several days!

I was so inspired when I saw this Back to School Dinner.  I knew it would be a great new tradition for our family.  I went on Google and Pinterest to find some ideas that were perfect for our family.  Thanks to Our Family Blog and eighteen25 for the additional inspiration!  Here's what we ended up doing.

I made these place settings.  Usually we have a very mismatched table with kids mats and plates, so it was a special treat to have matching place settings!  

I have seen this with black cardstock for the "place mat", but I figured that wouldn't work on our black table.  Chalkboards are sometimes green, right? ;)

Here's my little centerpiece.

We had a family favorite-- spaghetti with meat sauce.  As we ate, I had each of the kids choose a pencil with a phrase.

Each of these phrases were things we think are important for our kids to remember to have a great school year.  We took time to discuss each phrase and how they could implement it at school.

The phrases I chose were "Work Hard", "Be Kind", "Choose Good Friends", "Help Others", "Stand Up For The Right", "Follow the Rules", "Be Tough", "Be a Good Example", and "Be Happy".

After dinner, my husband gave them a father's blessing-- a special prayer to help them through their school year.  That is a wonderful experience and something I'm grateful my children have to help guide them each year.

We finished up with a big slice of "Back to School Cake".  I didn't take pictures because it was UGLY.  But it tasted good :)

Summer sure went quickly this year.  I love having my kids home, even when they fight (and they do FIGHT!)  I could've used a few more weeks.  But, time marches on...

Are your kids back in school yet?  What traditions does your family have for back to school?  

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Thursday, August 8

Summer's Over and We're Back to Blogging!

Aaand, we’re back!

I’m hoping we still have people ready and waiting to read our blog.  We know it’s been awhile since we’ve posted, and we’re grateful to those of you who are checking back in to find us.

Our summer has been amazing!  Taking time off blogging meant we were able to be fully present with our children as they were off from school, and to take vacations without having to worry about having posts ready to go.  That did wonders for us personally as well as for our families.  It really was exactly what we needed.

This summer, I (Valerie) spent a whole lot of time staying cool in the pool.
There were lots of water park visits, summer movies, and just down time at home.

We got to go to Oregon to visit family, watch my hubby run his first half marathon (woo-hoo!) and visit the Oregon Coast (a first for me!)

My little Phoenicians were freezing in the 60-ish degree weather.

Then I had the amazing opportunity to go to our church’s Girls Camp as the camp director.  We had a ball- and even though I tried to act like I was 16 again, my body sure couldn’t keep up with those energetic girls! Can you find me?  My mom says I look like one of the girls.  She's just being nice :)

Laura spent her summer exploring the great campsites of Colorado.

There was lots of pool time for her family, too.

And there was a HUGE family reunion in Monticello, Utah at the end of the summer.  What a blast!

Both of us were  glad to have some time to focus on our brother, who underwent brain surgery.  His doctors found a tumor that needed to be removed, but it was an answer to our prayers that it turned on to be benign (non-cancerous).  Now he’s got a great Darth-Vader style scar to show off!  I was going to show it to you but my daughter thinks it is too gross. (Sorry, Kev!)

And now, school has started, life is returning to its school-year routine, and we want to get back on this blogging train.  You’re going to (hopefully) notice a different feel here at Occasionally Crafty.  While we both missed crafting and blogging, we knew we were at a point where we either had to make some changes or give it up entirely.  We came away with a whole new vision for our blog, and we’re really excited to share it with you!

Gone are the days of a set schedule.  You’re not going to find us posting religiously on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We want to stay true to our tagline- “Living Life and Crafting When We Can”.  So you’re going to see a bit more of our lives and personality, in addition to our fun crafty projects.
We’ll be bringing back “Three Things Thursday” (for you old-timers who may remember when I used to do that).  But instead of featuring three different blogs, we’ll be talking about three things that are important to us that week.  They may be silly and fun.  They may be craft-related.  They may be serious.  Laura and I are going to take turns, so you’ll definitely get to learn a bit more about each of us and what makes us the crafters we are.

 Don’t worry- we’ll still be crafting and sharing our creations with you!  However, we are opting out of the race to see who can post seasonal projects first, and instead post whatever we've done, whenever we've done it.  It may be a party we've put together, a gift we made, a handout we made for church, or a home d├ęcor project we created.  We want to make things we really want and use- not just create in order to have something to blog about.

Another change: you aren't going to see too many sponsored posts.  We've decided that making money from this blog isn't our goal.  It's a hobby for us- not a business.  If we share a product with you, it’s because we really love it and would or do use it ourselves.  Ditto with advertisers in our sidebar.  If they’re there, it’s because we think YOU would love them.

We want blogging to be fun for us, and we want you to enjoy visiting with us.  We want you to know us more as friends and people who are just like you.  If you’re here just for the crafts, we understand.  But we hope you’ll take time to read our thoughts, learn a little about our lives, and share yours with us too. 

Thanks for taking this ride with us- we’ve missed you!  
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