April 2014Occasionally Crafty: April 2014

Tuesday, April 29

Free Ballet Printable for your Ballerina!

My daughter is a girly girl.  She loves everything pink.  She loves lip gloss and jewelry.  She wants to wear cute dresses and play with dolls and Barbies. 
And she loves dance.  She's been dancing since she was almost four years old (she just turned nine!)
This is one of last year's portraits!

Her favorite is Ballet.  Her teacher calls her "my little dance dictionary" because she is so good at remembering all those French words and what they mean.  

Last year, I redid her room and made it a Pink Ballerina Bedroom.  One of the things I did was create this gorgeous printable for her to display on her dresser.

I do want to disclose that I was inspired by a print from this Etsy shop.  If you want a professionally-printed, large poster for her room- definitely check her out!

If you have a girl who loves Ballet, or maybe you're having a ballerina-themed party, you can download this printable by clicking here:   (or you can just open this image in a new tab and save it to your computer to print).


See what other printables I'm pinning on my Pinterest board here:
Follow Occasionally Crafty (Valerie)'s board Printables on Pinterest.

Connect with us! You can find us here:
Image Map

Thursday, April 24

Giveaway: Custom Personalized Mother's Day Tee

Mother's Day Giveaway

Because it is never TOO early to start celebrating the mother of all holidays (pun intended), I have teamed up with a bunch of my favorite bloggers to bring you a very special mother's day giveaway! My friend Ellie, who blogs over at Creative Geekery,  is also a graphic designer.  In her words: " A few years back I came up with the idea of creating personalized tees for moms, grammies, great-grammies, aunties and great-aunties that incorporates the names of all of the special kiddos in their lives! "

We will be giving away ONE personalized mom's day tee with whatever nickname you choose (mom, mommy, mama, yaya, grammie, auntie, ANYTHING!) and the names of all of the kids, nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand babies! Don't worry if there are a lot of names- Ellie can get creative!

The tee shirts are a relaxed fit standard weight t-shirt for women from Gildan, 100% pre-shrunk cotton (50%cotton/50%polyester for deep heather color). They come in NINE colors and 5 sizes (S-XXL) and you can choose from 14 ink colors including metallic silver and gold (fancy!). 

Here's how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you just CANNOT wait to order a tee, go ahead an enter the contest anyway. If you win, you will be refunded the cost of the tee ($25) plus your shipping (standard domestic shipping only)! Plus, if you order your tee before April 29th, you can save 15% with the coupon code HEYMAMA. Please send an email to creativegeekeryblog@gmail.com and Ellie will get the ball rolling on your design! In the meantime, enter to win! Good luck!

Connect with us! You can find us here:
Image Map

Tuesday, April 22

Spring Stenciled Canvas Sign

Does it feel like spring where you live?  Here in Phoenix, it's dry, very dry, and already hot!  (It was 97 degrees yesterday!)  Still, I like to remember the days of spring rains, fragrant flowers, and mild temperatures.  I've got just the perfect project to bring spring inside!

Supplies needed:
Vinyl and Transfer Tape (I use clear contact paper)
11x14 Canvas or Canvas Plaque  (heck, you could even use a wood plaque if you prefer)
Painting Supplies
Fabric Scrap
Fusible Interfacing
Paper Scraps
Here we go:
1.  Cut your vinyl design and adhere it to your canvas.  I even have the shape I designed just for you FREE if you want it!  You can download the file for Silhouette Studio  here.  (Inspiration found here.)

Sometimes putting vinyl on canvas is a little tricky.  If you're having trouble getting the vinyl to stick, try "painting" a thin coat of matte Mod Podge on the canvas first.  Be sure to let it dry completely, then try again!
2.  Paint over your vinyl and let it dry completely.  I needed two coats of paint.

See the difference?  

3.  Use tweezers or something similar to pull your letters off.  Don't freak out of some of the paint bled through.  Just use a teeny tiny brush and paint over it with white.  
4.  Now it's time to embellish your design.  Cut an umbrella shape out of fabric however you like to cut fabric.  Just make sure to use interfacing or some sort of backing, or the fabric will fray over time.
5.  Adhere to the canvas using spray adhesive or other craft glue, smoothing carefully to avoid bumps.
6.  Cut some cute flower shapes out of cardstock or patterned paper, and glue to your canvas.  Add buttons.  I played around with this forever, but in the end decided to keep it simple.
That's it!  Now you can display it on a stand or hang it on the wall with a ribbon.

This is one of my favorite decorations!  Let me know if you make it, kay?  Happy Spring!

P.S.  I will be linking up at the Link Party Palooza and some of these parties

Image Map

Friday, April 18

Deliberate Motherhood: The Power of Individuality

Welcome to the Deliberate Motherhood series!  If this is your first post, you can see
the rest of them here.  There are 12 Powers that help bring peace, order, and joy
to mothering.  We're focusing on one each month.  You don't need a book to join the discussion-
I'd love to hear your thoughts on each issue.  But if you want one, you can order it here.
When I got married, my mom gave me a book- one of those fill-in-the-blank books where she told me all about her, my dad, how they met, what she learned in the early years of marriage and motherhood, and so on.

One of the pieces of advice that stuck out to me was when she said "Be yourself- and don't lose your identity.  Don't lose Valerie!"

Thirteen years later, I think about that- particularly as it pertains to motherhood.  I've had many roles in my adult life, and one of my favorites is being "Mommy".  But as all mothers know, being "Mommy" means sacrifice, in many different forms.

The big question is: does it have to?  Are we sacrificing things, not because we really need to, but because we somehow feel like we should?  Do we have to give up pursuing our talents, demonstrating our passions, spending time with our friends, eating before our food gets cold, going to the bathroom alone?

More often than we would think, the answer is a resounding "no"!  As April Perry so vividly reminds us, "Mommy is a person too!" 

Certainly there are stages and seasons of life where some things do have to fall lower on the priority list.  We gladly give up sleep (though it isn't necessarily enjoyable) to soothe our newborns.  Needy toddlers can't wait to be served as well as older children can.We spend time tutoring our children so they can succeed at math instead of watching our favorite TV shows.

But let's admit it- your husband can hold the baby while you shower (or a bouncy seat can do the job as well!) A babysitter you trust can give you time away.  You can teach your family to let you eat before plying you with requests.  

Even better,  our children would benefit from seeing their mom as a person with actual interests, hearing about the subjects and topics that excite and interest us, and learning from our example that women can pursue education, talents, and careers while being wonderful mothers!

I am a musician.  I started playing the piano in kindergarten, the flute in fifth grade, and have never really looked back.  I majored in music education in college, was in the marching band, and was a high school band teacher for five years.  

When I had my first child, I left my teaching days behind for two reasons: first, I had always wanted to be home with my babies, and second, because I knew there was no way I could be the mother I wanted to be, and be the committed band director my students needed.  I left behind 12-16 hour days so that someone else could give them what they needed without being distracted by a longing for home and family.  

Somehow, along the way, my pursuit of music also fell by the wayside.  It was too difficult to play the piano with sleeping babies and toddlers, and when they were awake I would be frustrated with their "helpful" banging of the keys as I attempted to play.  As for my flute?  The high sounds caused crying or startled my babies, and as they became toddlers they would try to grab something that was delicate and expensive!  My musical talent was relegated to occasionally playing the piano at church, and once or twice a year being asked to perform on the flute.

As with most talents, in playing an instrument, it's use-it-or-lose-it.  My low point came a while ago when I performed for my church group on my flute, and had so little muscle control that I couldn't play a note that would have been cake at my flute-playing height!  I went home and cried and cried.  What was the point of all those years, all those hundreds of hours of practice, if I could barely play a simple church song?

Then I realized: my children are older.  There is no reason I can't pull out my music and practice- just for fun. Maybe my children would like to hear me play!  Maybe it would inspire one of them to play a musical instrument!  Being a flutist is truly a part of me, one that I don't want to give up.  Because of my husband's responsibilities at church (he's a bishop) I don't have a lot of time to play outside of my home, but I know when the time is right, I can join that orchestra or flute choir.  My children will survive without me for a few hours, and I will feel better about myself.

Happy mom, happy home!

This month's goal:  identify the areas where you are needlessly sacrificing YOU.  What is something you can do to celebrate your individuality as a person and as a mother?  How can you share your passions and interests with your children?

Join the conversation- what are some ways we can regain our sense of selves when we are still busy moms? What works for you?  Or, what do you struggle with? 
Connect with us! You can find us here:
Image Map

Wednesday, April 16

Personalized Sippy Cups AND Applying Vinyl to Curved Surfaces

A good friend recently asked me to make her some personalized sippy cups as a baby shower gifts! I don't know why I had never thought of doing this before! It's super easy, something that will get used, and when it's personalized it's always a great gift!
The only tricky thing is applying vinyl to a curved surface. If you haven't done it before you might find yourself creating wrinkles or bubbles in places you don't want. Let me share a few tips to help it go on smoothly!
After you have cut your design and removed excess vinyl, apply your transfer tape/contact paper.

Now cut around all the edges so you have as little material as possible to apply to your surface. Be sure not to cut through your vinyl design! Eliminating all this excess material helps it go on smoothly.

Now for the most important part. Find the center of your design and remove a section of the backing. I did this using an exacto knife and folded away the backing from the center. This allows you not only to center your design without fully placing it, but this will help apply on a curved surface.

Slowly work from the center outwards, pressing your vinyl onto your surface and pushing the backing off the design. Do this on both sides until the design is fully applied. You may have some bubbles in your transfer tape, but none should be left on your actual vinyl design. Voila!

I've seen people do this on mugs for teachers, decals for helmets, even Christmas ornaments! The possibilities are yours to explore! Now I know what to do the next time any of my friends has a baby!

Side note: some vinyl is perfectly good for dishwasher use or handwashing! Be sure to read the criteria of your vinyl before applying.
Connect with us! You can find us here:
Image Map

Tuesday, April 8

Easy Mother's Day Gift (Motherhood Realized)

*** Disclosure:  I was given a copy of Motherhood Realized to review.  I was not compensated
in any other way.  All opinions expressed here are my own.  


Motherhood is hard.  It's thankless, it's messy, it's monotonous, and it's often derided as unimportant.  Deliberate mothers know better.  We know that being a mother is one of the most important jobs we can do, and brings us joy and peace (yes, peace!) in a way nothing else can.  Still, we all face stress, challenges, and moments where we just want to throw our hands up in the air, walk out the door, and never look back (at least not until we've had a few hours away!)  What do you do in those moments?

If you've been reading my blog this year, you know I've been singing the praises of Deliberate Motherhood,   a book that changed the way I view parenting and made me want to be a better mother.  I've even started a series focusing on one of its 12 "powers" each month.  

The online community behind Deliberate Motherhood has released a new book called Motherhood Realized.  It is a series of essays, questions, and challenges to help you feel even more empowered and enabled to be a mother, appreciate your mother, or look forward to being a mother.


You may have seen some of these essays floating around Facebook or Pinterest.  I know many of my friends shared the article "Your Children Want You" in their news feeds.  Mothers everywhere were thrilled to hear this message.   Many of you were also emotionally touched by this account of one author and her cancer-stricken mother, entitled "Worth Fighting For."   I was so happy to see these essays included in Motherhood Realized.

Maybe you clicked over to these articles and got caught up in their message, as I did, and as many others have.  This book is full of essays just like this.  Each one has its own touching, strengthening, and thought-provoking message that speaks to mothers in all stages of life.  
Motherhood Realized is broken down into four sections, each with essays grouped by a specific theme.  
- Becoming Our Best Selves
-Getting Through The Hard Times
- Shifting Our Perspectives
- Savoring Moments

Paraphrasing the book's introduction, this is the kind of book you can enjoy an essay, a chapter at a time, or read in chunks as you're searching for help and inspiration for your phase of mothering. The mothers in this book are real, and are in all stages of life.  This is a book to buy and savor, with essays you will turn back to again and again.


One of my favorite things about the book is that it gives you something to act on after you've read an essay.  It asks you a thought-provoking question or two, then gives you a challenge to apply what you've read to your own life.  I just might take this on as my next blog project after I finish my Deliberate Motherhood series!

Ladies, mothers, we are not alone.  We have each other.  We are a great sisterhood of mothers who can strengthen and lift each other.  This book doesn't replace the mom network you hopefully have in your real life, but it does give gentle reminders, sage advice, and needed encouragement in those moments where you might not have someone to turn to.  It is truly sisterhood in book form!

Make the pledge to support Deliberate Mothers everywhere by purchasing this book, either for yourself or a special woman in your life who could use it.  If you purchase the book, click here to fill out the form to receive this awesome gift package (valued at $40)

- a digital copy of Deliberate Motherhood (so you can play along with me in our series!)
- access to a 1- hour "Love Languages" training to help you develop relationships with your children
- Half price on a Lifetime "Learning Circles" membership at Powerofmoms.com

While you're there, become a member of the Power of Moms community.  You'll be glad you did :)

What's the hardest part of being a mom for you?  What brings you the greatest joy?  
Connect with us! You can find us here:
Image Map

Monday, April 7

Free Easter Printable + A HoneyBaked Easter Dinner

**  This post is sponsored by HoneyBaked Ham.  I was given a gift card to purchase food items and compensation for writing this post.  However, I was not paid to give a positive review.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.**

Easter is family, gathered around the table to enjoy time with each other. Easter is friendship, extending love and care for each other on a special day and all days.

Easter is new clothes, new dresses, and new ties! (Weren't we adorable?)
Easter is eggs, bunnies, chocolate, and jellybeans.

Easter is joy at the glorious news of the Savior's resurrection.  It's taking time to remember that He overcame death, and because of that, so will we!

I'd say all of this is cause for a delicious dinner and celebration.

How do you celebrate Easter?

We start with an Easter Egg hunt when the kids wake up, followed by the devouring of jellybeans and chocolate bunny ears.

We have a delicious  breakfast, then get ready for church.  We dress in our Sunday best and worship in song and speech.  I get to sing in the choir, and my children perform a special children's number.

Then we gather around the table with friends for a delicious Easter dinner.  I rarely take the time to make our table look special, but Easter is one of those few special times!

This year I made this simple Easter centerpiece with items from around my house.  I used cute patterned tissue paper as a base.  Is that weird?  I love it!

I included this printable  (yours to download at the end of the post) with a line from my favorite Easter hymn.  

If your day is anything like mine, your Easter day is C-R-AZY!  Holidays are exhausting!  Having RA makes it worse- baking, cooking, decorating, and cleaning wears out my poor joints.  By the end of a holiday I am usually in bed with ice or heat on my joints, barely able to move.  It sure would be nice to have some help to get that meal cooked and ready!  This is where HoneyBaked Ham comes in!

I made a quick visit to my local store, which is located in Glendale AZ.  I have to admit, though I've eaten HoneyBaked Ham before, I've never set foot in a store!  The manager, Kate, was very helpful in walking me through the process of choosing the perfect ham and sides for my group.  Since my family lives far away, it's just my little family of five and a few friends eating together.  A quarter ham was the perfect size.

The ham comes fully cooked, though I let it come to room temperature  for our dinner.  It's also pre-sliced, which my joints LOVE!  I love the spices and that crunchy crust.  We all loved the ham!

I chose the Sweet Potato Souffle, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and the Macaroni and Cheese for our sides.  One of my children will only eat mac 'n' cheese, or he'll also eat pizza, which is not on the menu!  
I know you're curious: we loved the Mac 'n' Cheese- even the adults!  It was creamy and cheesy, and the large noodles made it feel a little more "grown-up". 
The Sweet Potato Souffle was a close second.  I usually don't like Sweet Potatoes, but I felt like I was eating dessert, this was so yummy!
The Garlic Mashed Potatoes sure looked delicious!  But, honestly, they were a bit dry and could've used more flavor.
The thing I love about all the sides is that they cook either in the microwave or the oven, so they are a huge timesaver!  And I'm pretty sure my friends would never know I didn't make them from scratch!

I also picked up some King's Hawaiian rolls (we chose the honey-wheat)
and a cheesecake sampler for dessert.  

You can view your local store's menu here:  (use the store locator, then click on your store for the menu)

I didn't have to spend hours in the kitchen to have a delicious meal with my friends.  It was completely affordable as well- I doubt I would have spent less on all the ingredients at the store!  
What did my kids think?
If you'd like to try out HoneyBaked Ham for your Easter meal, here's some specials you can use with your order.

If you'd like the Easter printable, you can right click on the image (open in a new tab for full size)  and save to your computer, or you can simply click here.

And finally, there's an awesome giveaway going on!  20 people will win a $50 HoneyBaked Gift Card to help pay for your meal!  Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below (giveaway ends 4/13)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have a wonderful Easter!

P.S.  I am linking up to the Link Party Palooza and other parties this week!  Come check them out!
Connect with us! You can find us here:

Image Map