February 2015Occasionally Crafty: February 2015

Thursday, February 26

Making My Own: Round-up!

For some of our readers that have been with us for awhile, you'll remember that I did a series of things that I made myself, like laundry soap, jiffy corn mix, and so forth. These all helped save money and keep us healthier!

I thought today I'd update you with the ones that I still frequently use and couldn't live without! Click on the titles for the full original posts!
1. Granola

I've tried a few granola recipes and this is still my favorite. Great by itself, great in yogurt, just great!
2. Lipton Onion Packets

I bet you already have most of this on hand when you think you need to run to the store!
3. Cream of Mushroom/Chicken Soup

I really hate canned soup, blech. This takes a little more time/preparation but it's so good!
4. Bisquick

Easy to make, easy to use!

5. Taco Seasoning

Look at these ingredients. Do you already have all these in your cupboard? Then you've already got taco seasoning ready to go!

6. Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

Jiffy may be cheap, but this is still cheaper!
7. Maple Syrup

Just a few ingredients make this household staple!

8. Laundry Detergent

Been using this for well over a year. Lots of money saved here!!

9. Pizza Crust

I've got some dough getting ready for pizza tonight! We make this almost every week!

10. Kettle Corn

Can't forget a little something sweet. This recipe is super simple and SOOO good!

I hope you find something new to try!

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Monday, February 23

Printable Planning Sheet: Daily Blogging Tasks

I'm curious-- how many of you are bloggers?

I consider myself a hobby blogger because I like to share projects, I like for people to see them, but I also like having plenty of time for my family life and other things I enjoy.

I've realized though that I am more of a serious blogger than I thought I was.  I've been blogging for several years.  I know how to work with HTML (to a point).  I care about my stats.  I am active on social media.  I even occasionally get paid ;).

While blogging will mostly likely not be a full-time job for me, my little hobby has grown into more than that- thanks to you readers!

I know not all of you are bloggers, but if you are, you might find this helpful as you try to organize your life and balance the time-suck that is social media.

This Daily Blogging Tasks Planning Sheet will help you know what to focus your time on each day.  Ideally, you will have time to do all of these each day (with the help of some scheduling tools).  But if not, that's okay too- I have a blank one for you to write your own blogging tasks!

Mine is laminated, and I'm keeping it on a clipboard near my computer.

Download a completed one with the tasks I've chosen here.

Download a blank one to complete yourself here.

Note-- Thanks to Leelou Blogs for the cute header!

How do you organize your time?

I'm linking this up to some of these parties: 

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Friday, February 20

Gender Neutral Baby Card!

I'm super excited, because next weekend I was invited to a mass card-making party! The ladies in my water aerobics class (hello!!!) are super crafty and felt I was worthy enough to join them this time around!
We each picked a theme and are getting enough supplies to make 35 of the same card. We'll get together, put them all together, and go home with an awesome set of homemade cards to last throughout all the occasions this year!
I picked the theme of baby cards. It seems like I go through these more than anything. Not long ago I made a slew of baby onesie cards, and it turns out all my friend who had babies, had girls. So now I have a bunch of boy ones waiting to be used. That made me think that having some gender neutral baby cards on hand wouldn't be such a bad idea!
I tried to keep it clean and simple so that making 35 of these wouldn't be a chore. What do you think? I even got to use my new embosser to make the giraffe pop a little more!
Now to go cut 35 of everything.... wish me luck! I'll update with the other cards I'll be making. I can't wait to see what everyone else has come up with!
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Wednesday, February 18

When Baby Needs You: 6 Tips To Entertain Siblings While You're Taking Care of the Baby

This is my sweet "baby" Drew.

He's 5 years old.  He is adorably sweet, hilariously funny, a copycat to the extreme, and the biggest flirt I've ever met.  I love chasing him around the house as he laughs hysterically, holding him when he wants to snuggle, and sitting with him as he sounds out the new words he's learned.

See, he's my baby.  There's not going to be another one.  I have some fairly serious health issues that make having children difficult.  I have RA, which you can read about here.  Basically, all my joints swell and stiffen, making movement painful and difficult.  Luckily, I have found a combination of treatments that keep my disease controlled.  Most days I can handle life just fine.  But to have a baby, I have to stop some of these treatments, and that means the RA Monster that lurks below the surface rears its ugly head.  I hobble around like an old lady, and even uncrossing my legs or unfolding my arms can bring excruciating pain.  The pain was especially bad when I was pregnant with Drew.   Every day was a struggle, and I spent a lot of time in tears, in bed, or both.  With three children to take care of, I just don't think we can go through that experience again.

So, with sadness, but with excitement for the next phase of life, I treasure every moment I have with my "baby".

This post isn't really about me and my troubles, though.  See, when Drew was a baby, he was a certified GRUMP.  From the moment he was born, screaming his head off, to the time some magic switch went off in his 2nd year, he was quick to scream (and I mean SCREAM) and very slow to sleep.  

Look at that grumpy face!

For quite a stretch of time he only slept in 20-minute chunks.    He also had digestion problems that caused him a lot of pain, which of course, made him cry even more!  Now, he wasn't colicky.  I've never had to deal with round-the-clock crying and pacing, or some of the more serious issues many mommies deal with.  But that doesn't mean my frustration and sleep-deprivation were any less real or valid.  One thing I've learned after three kids is that we all have our struggles and challenges, and comparing them to others is a waste of time and energy.  If it's hard for you, it's okay to feel like it's hard, no matter how hard someone else has had it!

Anyway, I feel uniquely qualified to offer some tips for those of you with young children who need to be entertained when baby needs you.  My baby needed constant attention, either by being held or trying to get him to nap.  At the time, I had a 2 1/2 year old, and a 4 1/2 year old.  All three of them were home with me all day.  This could've been a recipe for disaster.  Here are some things I've found to help when you don't want to use the electronic babysitter (aka TV):

1.  Have a basket of toys/books that ONLY comes out during nursing/feeding time.  My 2 1/2 year old wanted to be near me all the time, so when I was feeding Drew, I pulled out the toys and he sat next to me and played.  Some kids might like a baby doll of their own to "feed".

2.  Help them be part of the process.  If baby needs a change, let them observe and help at their age-appropriate level (bring you a diaper or wipes, give baby a toy to hold).  If baby needs feeding, let them help you prepare the bottle, or bring you burpcloths.  When baby is older, they can help you prepare the food, bring utensils, or even help feed!  It keeps them involved, and provides some much-needed help to you!

3.  If baby is fussing or crying, don't always shoo the older ones away. This crying is a major reason older siblings say they don't like their baby brother/sister.  My oldest was worried about the baby.  She didn't understand why he cried so much.  Help them understand.  Explain to them why baby is crying and ask them what they think would help baby.  Ask them to sing a song to baby or bring him a blanket or lovey.  Of course, there are times you do need to be alone with baby, such as for naps.  This leads us to....

4.  When you need the older ones to be quiet, tell them clearly and firmly that it's time to be quiet.  I set my older kids up in a room as far away from the baby's room as possible.  I had specific toys and games for quiet times- coloring books, soft toys, puzzles, etc.  Once they were busy, then I took baby in, locked the door so no one would barge in, and put baby to sleep.  If you're worried, keep a monitor on (very low) so you can hear them if there's trouble.  But....

5.  Don't try to make your house silent.  Babies will get used to the noise of their siblings.  It's okay to let them be kids.  Just teach them limits and boundaries instead of trying to enforce silence.  You'll be a lot less stressed, and everyone will be happier.

6.  When baby is awake and happy, make sure you spend time with your other kids.  Snuggle with them, play with them, tell them how much you love them and what a good big brother/sister they are!  Let them play with baby (supervised, of course, or your baby will end up like this!).

These things will go a long way towards overcoming "baby envy" and letting them know they're still your "baby" too!

And yeah, you're still going to have times where your toddler throws open baby's door just after you've FINALLY gotten him to sleep.  You'll probably yell once or twice (or more!)  And it will be a lot easier to just do it all yourself without a really S-L-O-W preschooler bringing you those wipes you need NOW!  But I hope some of my ideas will work for you, and help you take care of that precious baby!

Tell us, how do you entertain your young children when baby needs you?  Share in the comments below!
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Monday, February 16

LDS Activity Days Handout- I Am Temple Worthy

We were so excited that the new Phoenix LDS temple opened only a few miles from our house last November.

Phoenix LDS Temple

For us and other members of our church, our temples are the most sacred buildings we have.  We believe they are truly God's houses here on Earth, and that when we are worshipping inside, we can feel His Spirit.  They are beautiful, pure and clean, as we aspire to be.  (You can learn more about our temples here)

My husband is the bishop of our ward (congregation), and he wanted something to give the kids who aren't ready to enter the temple yet because of age, or maybe because their parents haven't let them be baptized yet.  It's difficult for those kids to not be able to go when all their friends can.

I am Temple Worthy LDS Handout

So, I made up these temple recommend place-holders.  They can put them in their wallet or on their mirror, and it will remind them to live the gospel standards even if they're not quite ready to go inside the temple yet.

I am Temple Worthy LDS Handout

I think this would be great to use for an Activity Days activity or a lesson on temples.  Please feel free to download a set and print them out- I have some for girls and boys on the same sheet.

I'd love to know how you will use these in your ward!  Also, check out our other LDS-themed projects here, and see what I've been pinning on my LDS Finds Pinterest board!

Follow Occasionally Crafty's board LDS Finds on Pinterest.

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Thursday, February 12

Last Minute Valentine Ideas: Minecraft and Puppies!

I wonder if any other craft bloggers will relate to what happened when I showed my boys the cute marshmallow valentines I created. They were, um, less than enthused to give them to their classmates and suddenly spouted out ideas of their own. 
I could have gotten upset and insisted they use what I made, but instead I decided to use it as a chance to craft with my kids. I mean, they see me do it all the time, why not let them help? 
So despite all the fun printables and cute ideas out there, here's what we came up with to hand out at their class parties on Friday. I think they fit their personalities perfectly and they've loved helping!
My oldest is obsessed with Minecraft. Have a kid like that? He has read all the books and whenever he gets into a conversation with friends about it, he always teaches them something new. So a Minecraft Valentine was just what he wanted to give his friends. 
I cut out lots of green hearts on my Silhouette and he colored in a creeper face, signed his name and taped on a Blow Pop. (apparently Blow Pops are THE best candy since it lasts the longest, sucker and gum!) What an easy Valentine!

My youngest is obsessed with puppies and bugs. Since the bugs are 'hibernating' right now, he wanted a cute puppy valentine. We browsed Pinterest for awhile, but surprisingly there aren't a lot of puppy valentines that aren't super old-fashioned looking! We finally stumbled across a greeting card that we turned into a cute valentine.

I cut out tan and brown hearts for the puppy's face, turn them upside down.

Then get ready to cut out the same amount of hearts for your ears, and either use the Cut tool on the Silhouette software to slice them in half, or cut out whole hearts and cut them in half for each ear piece. Glue all ear pieces on top of the upside down heart. (he had so much fun putting these together!)

Lastly add face details. I didn't have enough googly eyes for his whole class so we just drew them on. We used those little sticky rhinestones for noses and then signed his name and added some Twix on the back. They really are so dog-gone cute!

So we're all ready for the Valentine's madness on Friday, are you? 

We're also having an AWESOME giveaway for Valentine's Day. How does $550 sound? Click here to go and enter, we'd love one of our readers to win!!

Hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day!
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Monday, February 9

Valentine's Day $550 Giveaway!

Valentine's Day Hearts and Hugs $550 Giveaway

Well, while we've been experiencing near-record heat here in Phoenix, with the weather that most of the country has been having, it seems like this Valentine's Day will be perfect for cuddling up with someone you love, watching your favorite romantic movie and sharing a giant size box of chocolates.

Perhaps you have something a little more grand in mind. A getaway for you and your significant other to a posh hotel or dinner at a 5 star restaurant. Well, we've teamed up with a group of amazing bloggers for a $550 Giveaway to show our readers a little love and to try and help one lucky winner make their Valentine's Day wishes come true!!

We've provided lots of different ways to earn entries into our Hearts and Hugs $550 Giveaway. The more ways you enter the better your chances of being the BIG giveaway winner. Plus, along the way, you'll also be delighted to discover amazing posts about all things Valentine's Day from this group of talented bloggers. Did you see our Cherry Chip Cookie recipe?  There's also some fun  crafts to make, romantic date ideas on a budget, valentine's decor and even a few gift suggestions.

Also, make sure to follow my Valentine's Day Pinterest Board for even more great ideas!

Follow Valerie (Occasionally Crafty)'s board Love day on Pinterest.

Alright, so what are you waiting for?! Go enter now to win $500 Cash and start thinking about how you could play cupid with all that cash !!! Good luck and Happy Valentine's Day!

Here are the Participating Blogs:

Sunshine and Hurricanes

Sports Mom Survival Guide

Unexpected Elegance

Creative Savings

The Taylor House

Occasionally Crafty

Moritz Fine Designs

Today's Frugal Mom

Baking with Mom

Managing Your Blessings

Town-N-Country Living

Mothering From Scratch

Be sure to stop by the blogs often this week as there will be so many great posts you won't want to miss. Plus, the more times you enter the better your chances of winning the $550 Cash Giveaway!!!

Friday, February 6

Valentine's Coupon Book- Giveaway & Printables from Cardstore.com!

Are you keeping your Valentine's Day simple this year? Or do you need the perfect little card to accompany that gift? The Cardstore.com blog has been showcasing so many different ways to spruce up your gift and make it part of #ourlovestory, including these great printable coupons!
They contacted us and gave us the challenge to show you how we would present these coupons to our significant other! I decided to turn the coupons into a little book using these small brown paper bags I found at the craft store.

I printed out the coupons (love the colors!), and filled in the blank one with something I know my hubby would love-- to pick his own movie. 

Next I cut and placed the rest of the coupons into their own bags and taped them together with washi tape. I used a gold oil marker to put some 'hugs and kisses' on each bag!

Now my coupon book is ready to give to my husband on Valentine's Day! We are keeping it simple this year with a nice dinner out and treats! This will add a nice touch :)

You can find your printable coupons here!

And now for the giveaway! Cardstore.com is offering 10 *FREE* cards, including shipping and postage to one of our readers! I've worked with Cardstore.com and they have wonderful products and services, so hurry and enter to win!

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Thursday, February 5

Printable School Valentines (Sisters' Challenge): You're Dino-Mite!

It's my turn to share my project for our monthly "Sisters' Challenge".  As you know, yesterday Laura shared these super cute printables for a bag of heart-shaped marshmallows.
Last week I brought you these cute Sticker Valentines to use for your upcoming Valentine's parties. 
 Today I was at the store and saw these fun dinosaur packs.  Instantly I knew I could throw another one together really quick.
So, here are my printable "Dino-mite" Valentines!  You can click here for a printable version (4 to a sheet).

Just use a glue dot to attach a cute little plastic dinosaur (6 for 98 cents at Walmart!), and you're good to go!
If you want some other great ideas, check out my Valentine's Day Pinterest Board!  Happy Valentine's Day!  
Follow Valerie (Occasionally Crafty)'s board Love day on Pinterest.
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