October 2014Occasionally Crafty: October 2014

Friday, October 31

What a Mom of Older Children Needs You to Know

Hey mom friends!  I know you’re busy with carpool, soccer practice, and working on homework with your kids.  I am too.  But I need to tell you something.

 My children aren’t perfect.

I try to present them as perfect.  We spend hours on behavior, dress and grooming, studying for school, developing talents, etc.  because I want you to see them at their very best.  Even when you don’t, I might blame it on a late night, a coming cold, or a stressful day.

What you don’t see is that my daughter is overly sensitive, lashes out at everyone when she’s frustrated, and has a terrible habit of picking the skin off her hands.  You don’t see that she struggles with math and that I worry about her constantly.


You don’t see that my middle child, my son, still lays down on the floor and whines like a toddler when I tell him to clean his room.  Every.  Night.

You don’t know that my youngest was not fully potty-trained until 4 ½.  That’s right—4 ½.  That number two just wasn’t happening for him until he felt like doing it properly.  I finally stopped talking about it to you when commiseration turned into judgment, when I was told it was my fault that he wouldn’t go. 

Remember the days when we were  young mothers, and everyone was dying to share their stories and wisdom with each other, even when those stories were struggles?  (Your child is the last one to walk?  Don’t worry, someone else’s child was even older!)  (Your child won’t sleep?  That’s okay, it will pass, my child wouldn’t sleep until he was two and now we can’t wake him up!)

We don’t talk like that anymore.  What happened?

I noticed right around preschool that this friendliness, this sense of “we’re in it together” started to fade away.  Attitudes started to shift.  Conversations started to change.  We stopped talking to each other about the problems our children were going through and started oversharing their success.  Sure, we might commiserate over a difficult teacher or a tough assignment.  But if you went much deeper, we only heard silence. 

Mom friends?  I still need to know you’re there with me.
I need to know that your children aren't perfect either.
I need to know how you handle your struggles, how you’re overcoming your children’s problems.
I especially need to know if you’re lost, if you don’t know what to do.
I don’t want to feel like I’m the only one struggling to stay afloat in this sea of ever-shifting challenges.

I don’t want you to hide your children’s problems, and I especially don’t want to feel like I have to hide mine.  Can’t we be each other’s support again, like we were in those sleepless early days of motherhood?

Ask me how my child is doing, really doing.  Don’t judge me; just be there.  Show me that our friendship matters to you, and you care about my children even if they are failing math, are behind in reading, or keep getting detention at school.   If I ask, tell me the truth.  Let me be your support.  Let’s help each other through these difficult years.  Let’s share our problems and celebrate our successes!

I haven’t even touched on more serious problems families face, such as illness, mental or physical diagnoses that affect their lives, drug or alcohol abuse, etc.  We’re not there yet, but maybe someone else in our group is.  Wouldn't it be awesome if we could let down our carefully-placed walls just a little and lift each other’s burdens, even for just a few moments?

I want you to know I’m still your friend, even though our kids have switched from diapers to jeggings, from pacis to Playstations.  And I want you to know that I still need you.

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Wednesday, October 29

Kid's Gift For the Holidays: Petz Beach Review

Do you like to shop for Christmas or other holidays early?  I do.  I'd rather spread the cost out over several months instead of waiting until the last minute.  Plus this way, I have plenty of time to look for the best prices!

If you have kids ages 7 and up that have a Nintendo DS, I can confidently recommend to you a brand new game that just launched in stores this month: Petz Beach!

This game is perfect for the child who loves taking care of electronic pets, completing adventures with their online friends, and connecting with other Petz owners.
I knew my 9 year old daughter would love this game, so she happily tested it out for me.  She was so enthralled I could barely get her to look up and tell me about the game.  

We did chat later, though, and I thought I'd share with you what my 9-year old loved about Petz Beach.
  • There are lots of animals to choose from (over 50 including everything from dogs and cats to dolphins and whales!)
  • The game always changes!  As you explore the "town" and meet new "neighbors", the game expands and grows.  There's always something new to do.
  • She's learning things along the way.  (Okay, that might be my favorite thing!)  But really, since it is partnered with Encyclopedia Brittanica, the kids learn as they complete missions, learning facts about animals, insects, and plants.

A sister game also launched this month, titled Petz Countryside, which is basically the same type of game in a completely new environment.

As I said, I knew my daughter would love the game, but my 7 year old son also really enjoyed playing it!  We actually have to have a schedule for whose turn it is to play Petz Beach.  I know this game will be fun for your children too, whether you have boys or girls.  

You can purchase the game here and put it away for a birthday or holiday.  We also love to give out a new game for a road trip, so if you're traveling this season that might be a great time to present your children with Petz Beach.

Do you have kids or nieces/nephews/grandkids who would like this game?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Tuesday, October 21

Halloween HOME Letters!

A few months ago Valerie shared her HOME interchangeable letters from fingersnapper.com. If you're just starting out you can buy an H, an M, and an E, and then you change the O for different seasons of the year!
I've gone a little crazy with Halloween this year, and I decided try these letters out too! They come unfinished and you get to decorate it which ever way you want! (I was brave enough to do some straight cuts with my jigsaw, but nothing like this on my own yet!)
The perfect place for my letters is on the banister right near the front door. Now when my piano students and guests come in the house, this is the first thing they see!
I painted the H, M and E a neutral ivory color and gave it a little sparkle. Hopefully this will work well with most holidays and other O's. 
I painted my Halloween "O" black and covered it with some spider web and of course, a spider.
This is my last Halloween craft for this season! I've loved adding to my collection, though now I might need a bigger box to store everything in...

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Monday, October 20

Easy Weeknight Dinner: Cheesy Buns

I pretty much can't stand making dinner.

I don't know why.  I don't mind cooking.  I just never feel all that excited about what I'm making.  I'm pretty busy once school gets out, with carpool, after-school activities, teaching piano lessons, and helping with homework.  Often it hits 5:30 or 6:00 and I have NO CLUE what's for dinner.

That's when I make bad choices.  Mac n Cheese.  Pizza.  Hop in the car and hit the drive-through.

So I am thrilled for today's blog hop, hosted by Sarah at Becoming Martha, which is all about Easy Weeknight Meals.  I hope it gives me (and you) some great new ideas!

I'm sharing a staple for my house of three picky kids (and two busy parents).  This is based off an old Taste of Home recipe for Cheeseburger Buns, but the dough is simplified for time's sake.

All you need is ground beef (or turkey if you'd like), a little seasoning, cheese slices (or you can use shredded cheese), tomato sauce, and canned biscuits.  If you don't like using canned stuff, you can make your own yeast or biscuit dough too.

To start off, brown your ground meat with some minced onion, salt, and pepper.  Add a can of tomato sauce and stir until meat is well coated.

Roll out each biscuit until it is flat and round.  Place two small squares of cheese in the center, then pile your meat sauce on top of the cheese.

Carefully stretch the dough around the filling and pinch closed.  Place dough ball seam side down on a cooking sheet lined with a silicone liner or something similar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

These are simple to make, kid-friendly, and easy to customize!  We've done ours with taco meat and cheese, mozzerella cheese and pizza sauce, or even added in some veggies.

Easy Cheesy Buns

   Click here for printable recipe
2 cans 8-ct. Buttermilk Biscuits (Pillsbury Grands work the best)
1 lb. ground beef
2 tsp. minced onion
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
8 slices American or Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sprinkle ground beef with minced onion and a dash of salt and pepper.  Brown ground beef, 
then drain off any extra grease.
Stir tomato sauce into ground beef until well combined.  
Open biscuit cans and remove biscuits.  Use a rolling pin to flatten each biscuit into a thin circle.  
Remove cheese slices from packaging.  Break or cut each slice into four small squares.  Place two 
small squares in the center of each biscuit.
Next, place about 2 tbsp. of ground beef filling on top of cheese.
Gather edges of each biscuit circle into the center over filling and pinch closed.  Place filled biscuit 
seam side down onto a baking sheet lined with silicone baking sheet or sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake in oven for 8-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove and let cool for a few moments 
before serving.

Makes 16 cheesy buns.  Our family of five (including picky preschooler) eats about 10 of these 
for dinner.  They make awesome leftovers!

Hop around to my blog friends for some more awesome ideas for a quick and easy weeknight meal!

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Wednesday, October 15

BOO Blocks!

Last year I was over at a friend's house when I noticed a really cute Halloween decoration. I snapped a picture on my phone and kept it prisoner there for almost a year before I decided to recreate it for our house!
I really had to get up the nerve to do this because I'm not very good with wood crafting yet. Luckily we had some wood in our garage, and it turns out we had a jigsaw that just needed a blade! So I put my big girl pants on and used power tools! I have to admit, it was pretty empowering to do it myself and not have anyone  make the cuts for me.
I didn't measure my friend's blocks, so I just had guess-timate! After a few straight cuts I was ready to sand and paint! 
I cut the letters out of black glitter cardstock on my Silhouette and adhered them with some adhesive spray.
Thanks to my friend Amy for inspiring me to make an awesome Halloween decoration all by myself!
**Edited to add the link to the Yarn-Wrapped Candy Corn also seen as part of this display!**
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Monday, October 13

Fall Harvest Blog Hop: Fall Flower Crate

Today I'm sharing my Fall Flower Crate Centerpiece.  Even though I live in Phoenix (where fall happens when it drops below 100!), the inside of my house is filled with all things fall.  That means my kitchen table needed a little change in decor from its usual black and red.  So, with a few {cheap} supplies, some gorgeous flowers, and just a little bit of time, I had a new centerpiece!

Supplies needed:
Crate, unfinished (I found mine at Michael's for about $4)
Wood stain or paint
Tin buckets (mine are from IKEA but I've also seen similar ones at the Target Dollar Spot)
Hydrangeas or other silk flowers
Wire cutters
Floral Foam
Hot Glue
Let's get started!

First- stain your crate.  I had this "mahogony" stain that was a little to orange-y for me, so after I applied the stain, I did a wash with some black paint.  (A wash is when you combine a little paint with a lot of water.  Brush it all over the project, then wipe off with a rag.)  It darkened it just enough and even made it look a little more aged.

Making the flower buckets is pretty easy.  Cut your floral foam in half with a heated knife or serrated knife.  Shove it down into the bucket and hot glue a bunch of moss to cover the top.
Trim your flower stems down so they fit nicely in the bucket.  Use wire cutters to trim the stems down.  Then, carefully push the stems into the floral foam.   Repeat for each bucket.

Then simply line your buckets up in the crate!

I chose slightly off-white hydrangeas because a) I LOVE hydrangeas, and b) my kitchen fall decor is pretty neutral, so the color went with all the natural textures and fabrics really well.

I've teamed up with a group of 75 bloggers to share tons of Fall Harvest Ideas with you! From crafts, to recipes, to home decor and more...we have you covered for Fall inspiration!
75 Fall Harvest Ideas

Check the gallery below and visit some of my blogging friends to see their awesome ideas!!

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Friday, October 10

All Things Fall Y'All Blog Hop and $1000 Giveaway!

Hey everyone!  Just in case our fabulous Halloween Decor giveaway wasn't awesome enough, we're participating in this huge blog hop and giveaway with some of our favorite bloggy friends!
 Along with fabulous Fall DIY crafts, decor and recipes, we are excited to bring you the chance to win one of four CASH PRIZES totaling over $1,000!
(You might recognize one of our recent Halloween projects below!)

All Things Fall Y'all Blog Hop & Giveaway 4 prizes



2nd PRIZE: $300

3rd PRIZE: $200

4th PRIZE: $13 - Lucky number 13! Buy yourself a few pumpkin lattes!



Click on the photos to discover wonderful Fall and Halloween crafts and recipes!

Giveaway Rules: The prize has been sponsored by the hosts of All Things Fall Y'all. No purchase necessary. Giveaway ends at 11:59 PM ET on October 20, 2014. All entrants must provide a valid e-mail address and be 18 years old. The giveaway is open worldwide. Four lucky winners will be randomly chosen from among the entrants and notified via e-mail. The amount of the prize will be given in the order that the winners are selected. The grand prize is $575, 2nd prize is $300, 3rd prize is $200 and the 4th prize is $13. The winners have 48 hours to respond via e-mail to claim the prize or another winner will be selected. The winners will have a choice between an Amazon eCard or PayPal cash that will be issued via e-mail by Katie at View from the Fridge. Winners will also be responsible for any fees associated with accepting Paypal cash as well as all applicable local and federal taxes. The hosts and their immediate family members are not eligible to win. Odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Please read the complete terms and conditions on the Rafflecopter form. If you have any questions, please contact Ariean at the krieger chick (at) gmail (dot) com before entering the giveaway. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

All things fall y'all giveaway

WARNING: Facebook limits the number of pages you can "like" at a time. If you like too many pages in quick succession, Facebook will remove your "likes" and negate your entry. We suggest you like only 12-13 at a time and come back to like more later in the day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you love most about Fall?

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Thursday, October 9

Candy Free Halloween Treat Idea: Wendy's® Jr. Frosty Coupons

I live in a state where children are in crisis.  Things are so bad that the governor dissolved our Child Protective Services and is rebuilding a new division to help these children.  Thousands of children are in need of a safe place to live.  Of the over 15,000 children in our state that are in foster care, only about 2700 have a case plan for adoption.

Now I know many of those children and families hope to be reunited.  But tens of thousands more nationwide have no hope for reunification.  Their best hope is adoption, and unfortunately in our country, children languishing in foster care are often the last ones adopted.

Why am I writing about this on a craft blog?  I know that you care about children and families.  Many of you are moms yourself, and I know some of you are foster moms, adoptive moms, or maybe even adoptees yourself! 

You can do something simple this Halloween to help support adoption.  
    Visit your local Wendy’s® to purchase a Jr. Frosty™ Halloween Coupon Book* for $1, which benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®!
    *Coupon book may contain coupons for 5 or 10 free Jr. Frosty™ treats. Prices and participation may vary. Ninety cents to every $1 coupon booklet sold between 9/15/14 and 10/31/14 will benefit the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®. Coupons valid from 11/1/14 through 2/1/15. ©2014 Oldemark LLC
Support the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption by purchasing a $1 Halloween Coupon Book

I already eat at Wendy's® often.  I'm proud to support a company that supports their community.
    Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's®, established The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption® as a non-profit public charity with one primary goal: to help every child in foster care find a loving, permanent family.  For 22 years, Wendy’s® has supported foster care adoption
    Thanks to Wendy’s® consumers and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption®, 4,000+ children have found adoptive families.   But we can do MORE.  Go buy a coupon book.  Buy a bunch!  It's a great deal!

    Here's a cute way to use those coupons for a fun Halloween treat.  My son has a Halloween party at his preschool, and there are 13 children in his class.  So, I bought three coupon books, and we're giving each child a free Jr. Frosty instead of candy this year.

    Candy Free Halloween Treat Idea: Free Frosty Coupon!

    Supplies needed:
    Wendy's Coupon Book
    Clear plastic lollipop covers (I got mine at Michael's)
    Printable Cupcake toppers, stickers, or labels
    Adhesive (I used double-sided tape)
    Skinny Ribbon

    No tutorial needed:  simply slide your coupon into the lollipop cover and fold over the top.  Tape it closed and apply a cute sticker or label.  I printed out these cupcake toppers from the Silhouette store and used my 1 3/4 inch punch to cut them out.  Finish off with a little bow to "cute" it up.  My goal was to use what I had so this was "free" to me. 

    Candy Free Halloween Treat Idea: Free Frosty Coupon!

    Kids and parents will love these, and you will be doing something to help your community.  With your help, Wendy's can reach its goal of raising $10 million dollars for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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    Wednesday, October 8

    Delightfully Wicked Blog Hop: Halloween Door Post Figures

    Today's hop is all about Halloween!  It's so much fun creating with other bloggers and seeing what everyone comes up with!  Today I'm sharing my Halloween Door Post Creatures!

    I found these sad looking guys at the thrift store.  I bet some kids had a blast making these once upon a time!  But now they aren't in great shape.  I knew I could work with my kids to make some fun Halloween characters to display with our other Halloween decor.

    First, I removed the old buttons and glue.   Then I had my son help me paint the door posts.  Yes they are old and full of cracks, but that doesn't really matter to me.  Gives 'em character, right?

    We decided to make a witch and her little black cat, so of course we painted them green and black.

    Next, I cut out some fun faces in vinyl with my Silhouette, and applied them.

    I decided the witch needed some hair ,so I just painted it on.  I'm not sure if I like it better or not.....

    Finally, I picked up this little hat from Michaels for the witch, and made some cute little ears for the cat out of cardstock.

    This is a fun little project that looks perfect next to my Salem Broom Shop Sign :)

    Check out the entire Delightfully Wicked Halloween Hop below:

    Delightfully Noted

    Itsy Bitsy Paper 

    Life is a Lullaby

    Michelle Paige

    My Own Home Blog

    Our Pinteresting Family

    Occasionally Crafty

    Uncommon Designs

    Also, we have a FUN Halloween giveaway from  BlocksPaperPaint!  The Winner can choose any Halloween block/sign from this adorable shop!  Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below (and make sure to read the full rules/regulations!)  Good luck, and enjoy the hop!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Tuesday, October 7

    DIY Halloween Mickey Mouse Ears

    Shhh... don't tell my kids, but we are headed to Disneyland in less than two weeks! They have a full week off of school in the middle of October and we decided to jump at the chance and head to California for a much needed family vacation.

    Last year when Valerie and her family went to Disneyland for Christmas I made them some Christmas Mickey & Minnie mouse ears.

    Now it's our turn to go and it's Halloween time! I used the same tutorial from The Suburban Mom but changed it around to fit the color scheme of Halloween.

    I don't have any girls so I didn't make Minnie ears, but I bet some orange ribbon with black polka dots would be perfect for Minnie's bow! 

     I hope the boys love them! We'll be handing them the mickey ears as part of the surprise moment!

    Are you headed to Disneyland this year?  We love booking through Get Away Today and can't recommend them enough!  They usually have some sort of sale on tickets (which is really hard to find), and our trips have been smooth sailing every time!  Use code OCRAFTY when booking for an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package (hotel and 2 ticket minimum).
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