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What To Do When You Wish You Had a Maid, But Can’t Afford One

What To Do When You Wish You Had a Maid, But Can’t Afford One

Update: After a year and 1/2 after trying these products for the first time I still use and love them! They really do work for the long run and are absolutely worth the investment, so I wanted to re-post this ūüôā If you could be […]

24 TV Shows You Can Feel Good Letting Your Young Kids Watch

24 TV Shows You Can Feel Good Letting Your Young Kids Watch

Alright, first off can we all just promise to be honest with one another for a few minutes here? School is about to be out. And if your kiddos are young enough to not be in school, you’re right about to hit the Dog Days […]

How To Be An Amazing and Well Paid Blogger Right Off The Bat

How To Be An Amazing and Well Paid Blogger Right Off The Bat

My personal video training series to help you know all the ins and outs of being an amazing, well-paid blogger right off the bat!

As my long-time readers know, I’ve been at this blogging gig for over 8 years now (wow!!) If you want a blast from the past you can go read my very first post here (if it can even be called that…it was more of a Facebook status update, haha)! I’ve come a looonngg way since the days of a copy/paste blog design and the horridly unoriginal name of “Ramblings By Nicole”.

If you’d like to get the full story of how I started working from home and how this blog went from a “my mom only reads it” to a job, you can check out that whole progress in the post How Anyone Can Successfully Work From Home.

Because I jumped in during the “early days” I did absolutely everything the long, wrong way at first. I’m hoping to help save you learning things the hard way, so I put together these blogger-to-blogger training videos for my contributors and also for anyone else looking to pursue their dream of blogging and making an income from it!

If you have anything else feel free to request my So You Want To Be A Blogger Facebook Group, I use it to throw out all the random pieces of goodness whenever I find them!

So You Want To Be a Blogger: Getting Started

Links Referenced in Video:

Correction note from my web guy ūüėČ : Note: WordPress.org is the self-hosted platform, WordPress.com is where they don’t support ads and there are some issues when trying to make money from the site. It’s technically possible to make money through your site/ads on wordpress.com but it’s not clear and you have a lot of limitations when it comes to customization. WordPress.org is where you would get the install files to host the full version of WordPress for yourself

How Do You Make Money Blogging

Links referenced:

How To Write a Great Review Post

Links referenced in video:

How To Get Sponsored Posts

How To Write a Great Tutorial Blog Post

How To Write a Great Recipe Post

How To Use Google Calendar To Organize Your Life & Business

How To Schedule Out Posts On Facebook

How To Share Blog Posts Effectively Using Social Media

Links Referenced:

  • https://bitly.com/

How To Promote Your Social Media Shares

Essential Blogging Tools You’re Going To Need

Essential Blogging Tools You’re Going To Need

Today I wanted to share some of my very favorite “Must Use” blogging tools and resources. I’ve had to learn everything the hard way, which is why I love to share my knowledge with everyone else so they don’t have to battle through it all!

How to Clean Practically Everything in Your House Using Only Natural Ingredients

How to Clean Practically Everything in Your House Using Only Natural Ingredients

Are you looking to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful chemicals but don’t know where or how¬†to start?¬† Here is an incredibly simple guide to replacing toxic household cleaners with safe, natural alternatives, many of which you probably already have on hand.¬† You’ll find out […]

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns To Listen

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns To Listen

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen

This post has always been one of my most popular on Pinterest, and it’s too perfect for the¬† summer season not to share again. If you have a little one in PreK or Kindergarten, or if you’re a teacher of young children of any kind you’ll want to own this book! I will say, though, that even my 8 year old still enjoys reading the Howard Series 4 years after we added him into our home library, this lovable little bunny is just a lot of fun!

Here is my original post:

I find that as a parent I try to make sure that most of the shows that my children watch and the books that they reads (or that I read to them) are not only entertaining and wholesome, but also have some type of lesson or learning aspect about them. Fun, silly, “just because” shows definitely have their place–but I want to make sure that we use every opportunity to teach them valuable life skills in a way they don’t even realize that they’re learning!

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen couldn’t have come at a better time as Amber has been having a few problems with learning to listen. You know, REALLY listen and obey right away.

In¬†Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen Howard is having a little problems with listening, to any and everyone including parents, friends, and teachers. Not because he’s purposefully being bad, there is just so much to be distracted by! This book is great because it shows the cause and effect of not listening, such as punishments from teachers, hurting friends or himself, and losing privileges, which are all shown in an engaging writing style. This book is great because it also shows the good things and rewards that good “really listening” bring!

We both loved the fun pictures and the discussion questions at the end of the book too.

This book is absolutely perfect for any pre-k – kindergartner or above who is having a little bit of difficulty in this area! (and don’t they all from time to time??)

Be sure to check out their website We Do Listen Foundation for free lesson plans, read alouds, and more!

If you love this book be sure to check out our reviews of the other Howard B. Wigglebottom books as well!

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Monkey On His Back (a book about lying)

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Courage

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5 Brilliant Ways To Save Money This Summer

5 Brilliant Ways To Save Money This Summer

Today was the last day of school for the Elliott’s and we are officially happy dancing our way into summer! Summer for most people brings with it a lot of fun, but that can also mean a lot of extra expenses. Those vacations, road trips, […]

Wedding Makeup Trends for 2018

Wedding Makeup Trends for 2018

While weddings are one of the happiest moment a couple can have together, they can also be extremely stressful, especially for the bride. As the bride, you want to look elegant and beautiful. To achieve that bridal look, you‚Äôll have to keep up with the […]

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 2

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 2

Version 2

Hopefully you’ve seen the first part of this tutorial and are already obsessively working on your own quiet book! If not, go check it out here. ¬†There are some tips and suggestions you might want to read before getting started. As promised, here are instructions for the rest of the pages in my book, as well as a cover. ¬†Feel free to get as creative as you want and come up with your own page ideas, too! ¬†I don’t have templates because I free-handed everything, so it’s all far from perfect, but that’s part of the charm ūüôā

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For the Happy Spring page, you will need:

  • 2 9×9 pieces of background fabric
  • Felt or fabric for the water, branch, leaf, caterpillar, and cloud (make them whatever colors you prefer)
  • Three pieces of string or ribbon, each approx. 6 inches long
  • Beads to use as raindrops (make sure they will fit on the string or ribbon you are using)
  • 5 Velcro dots (or velcro that can be cut to fit the caterpillar pieces)

Start by cutting the fabric you’re using for the water¬†so that it makes a pond that fits on the bottom section of your background piece. ¬†Zig-zag stitch the top of the pond down (the rest of it will be sewn on when you put all your pages together.) ¬†Lay the three strings onto your page at the angle you want them, making sure the spaces between them are equal. ¬†Sew the top of each string to the background fabric, going over each one several times so the seams are strong enough to withstand a toddler’s mightiest yank. ¬†Thread 3 (or more) beads onto each string and then sew the bottom ends to the pond, keeping the strands parallel to each other. ¬†Cut out a cloud and stitch it directly onto the tops of the strings, leaving the bottom so that it can flap open.

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Now, cut out a branch that will fit on the bottom of the next page.  Sew it on just as you did with the pond piece.  Cut a leaf out of 2 contrasting colors (it should be about 4 inches long) and sew the smaller piece onto the larger one.  Stitch only the bottom section onto the branch so it makes a pocket, which will hold the pieces of the caterpillar.

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Trace something small and circular (such as a magnet, the end of a small flashlight, or even the cap¬†of a hand sanitizer bottle) onto the felt that will be used for the caterpillar 6 times, using as many different colors of felt as you want. ¬†The circles should be about 1″ in diameter. ¬†Make a face (I used marker) on your caterpillar’s head and zig-zag stitch it onto your page about 2 inches from the left edge. ¬†Sew the sticky side of your velcro dots onto the rest of the circles, and the other sides of the dots onto the background page in a staggered row behind the caterpillar’s head. And you’re done! The pieces of the caterpillar can now stick on the velcro dots or be placed in the leaf pocket.

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For the How Does Your Garden Grow? page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 pieces of background fabric or felt
  • Brown felt for soil, tree trunk, and basket
  • Green felt for the leaves
  • Felt for carrots, potatoes, apples, pears, a wheelbarrow, cloud, and gate
  • Velcro for the fruit (if you want it to really stick to the tree)¬†IMG_2655

This is probably my favorite page, and my 8-year-old daughter designed and made the fruit tree side by herself!  Start by cutting a tree trunk about 7 inches tall.  Pin it in the middle of the page with the bottom of the trunk even with the bottom edge of your background, and be sure to leave space for leaves at the end of each branch.  Stitch the trunk on with a few vertical seams so it resembles bark.

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Cut out and sew on leaves, and if you have space add a cloud. ¬†Cut out whatever fruits you want to have (apples, pears, peaches, oranges, lemons, plums, etc.) and sew a small piece of velcro (the sticky side!) onto the back of each fruit. ¬†You won’t need velcro on the tree if it’s made of felt, but if you used another type of fabric be sure to sew some pieces on (non-sticky side) so the fruit will have a place to “hang.” ¬†Cut out a basket big enough to hold your fruit and sew it on to the background, leaving at least 1 inch below and beside it for seam allowances. ¬†Leave the top edge of the basket open for holding fruit. ¬†Cut out a gate about 7 1/2 inches long and sew only the left edge onto the background about 1 inch from the left of the background piece.

Now, cut¬†a piece of brown felt so that it fits over¬†the bottom half of your other background piece, with a slight curve at the top.¬† Snip two rows of holes in the brown piece (about 1 cm. each) for “planting” the vegetables. ¬†Stitch this piece on by sewing along the top edge and then make separate seams¬†about 1/2 inch below each row of holes. ¬†This is important so that your vegetables don’t slip down into the “dirt” and get stuck. ¬† The other edges will be sewn when putting all the pages together. ¬†Cut out a wheelbarrow and sew on, leaving the top open. ¬†Add handles and a wheel.

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Cut out your carrots and potatoes now.  For the carrots, cut out two layers of orange and place a small stem between the layers.  Sew together with two or three small horizontal seams to make them look more realistic, making sure the stem is secure.

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For the potatoes cut out two layers of light brown felt and stitch together in the same way using darker brown thread. ¬†“Plant” your veggies and let your little one do the harvesting!

For the Starry Campground page you will need:

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  • Two 9×9 background pieces (one felt, the other anything resembling a night sky)
  • Fabric for a tent (approx 8×8)
  • One 6 inch. zipper in a coordinating color
  • Felt for stars, campfire, sticks, marshmallows, bush, snake, moose, and sleeping bag

First, cut your tent fabric into a triangle that is 6 1/2 inches tall and approx. 6 inches wide. Fold the outer edges of the tent under about 1/4 inch and iron the folds flat. Cut this triangle vertically from the center of the bottom edge to almost the top corner, leaving about 1 inch at the top connected.¬†¬†Fold each side of this opening under about 1/4 inch and iron the folds. ¬†Hem the bottom edges of the tent along the folds. ¬†Pin your zipper just under each of the opening folds and sew, making sure it can open and close from the bottom up. ¬†Now top-stitch the two sides of the tent onto the background, leaving plenty of space on all sides. ¬†If you want it to be a teepee, cut brown felt into sticks and stitch on at the top corner (I did this mainly because the top of my tent didn’t look very good and needed to be hidden a little.)

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Making the moose took a lot of trial and error, but I free-handed it (like everything else) and it turned out okay.  You could make a person or another animal instead and it would still be adorable.  So, cut out whatever critter you want inside the tent, making sure it will fit with space to spare.  Cut out a sleeping bag that just covers it (or him or her.)  Stitch these on and breathe a sigh of relief.  The hardest part of this page is done!

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The next part of this page was done almost exclusively by my daughter, and I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out.¬†Cut out a felt basket about 2-3 inches wide and sew onto the starry background leaving the top open. ¬†Cut some sticks out of felt and make some marshmallows to sew onto the ends. Place these inside the basket. ¬†Cut out logs and contrasting colors of fire and sew these on as well.

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Cut out a bush and sew on only the bottom edge.  Cut out a snake (or bunny or skunk or whatever) and sew it on behind the bush.

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Cut out a few stars and stitch them around the sky.

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Now your toddler can “roast” marshmallows over a campfire and peek in on the creatures hiding at the campground.

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For the Wallet/Button Up page you will need:

  • 2 9×9 background pages (the one you plan to put on the right should be felt or something sturdy)
  • Brown felt for making a wallet (or and old wallet if you happen to have one)
  • Various pieces of felt and fabric for making shapes
  • Buttons in coordinating colors
  • Expired membership cards, empty gift cards, laminated photos, etc. to put into the wallet

This page is the undisputed favorite of my 2-year-old. ¬†While it was still at our house, she took just the wallet part of the book everywhere for weeks. ¬†It was also the least labor-intensive to make, so if you don’t plan to make all of these pages, this is one you will probably want to include for sure. ¬†If you have a wallet, all you have to do is sew the back panel to the middle of your background fabric and it’s ready to go. ¬†Add some old cards and photos, or even a dollar bill or two, and your little one might stay busy long enough for you to make the next half of this page!

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If you’re making a felt wallet, start with a 9×11 sheet of felt (preferably gray, brown, or black so it resembles a real wallet). ¬†Lay the sheet down and fold the bottom edge up about 2 inches and pin right in the middle of this folded section (see photos.)

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Sew up the middle from the bottom edge to the top of the fold.  Now cut across the felt about 1 inch above the pockets you just created.  Lay the stitched piece on top of the other felt piece and cut across the top so you have one flat piece under the piece that was folded.

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Now, pin and sew together along the bottom and both sides, leaving the top open.

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To attach the wallet to the background, pin and sew it on along the right edge, right half of the bottom edge, and only the bottom layer of the middle line of the wallet. ¬†I’ve marked all these places with yellow pins in the photo below.

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And your wallet is finished!

For the other side of this page, cut out three shapes from different fabrics and then cut a piece of felt to go on the back of each.  Pin the two pieces of each with the wrong sides together and sew, leaving a hole big enough to turn it right side out.  Turn each shape right side out and sew the small hole closed.  IMG_2631

Choose the buttons you will use and snip a hole in each shape the right size for your buttons. ¬†Using the buttonhole setting, stitch around each buttonhole. ¬†(Or if you know a better way, please share it with me! ¬†This was my first time making buttonholes so you probably know how to do this much better than I do, and if you look closely you’ll see that my stitches are not very pretty.) ¬†Lay the shapes on your background piece, making sure to leave at least 1 1/2 inches on each side for a seam allowance. ¬†Mark where your buttons will go and then sew them onto the background. Button the shapes into place, and your last page is finished!!!

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For the cover, you will need:

  • 2 matching 9×9 pieces of fabric, plus two 2×5 pieces of the same fabric
  • One snap or button
  • Felt for cutting out a name, pictures, or any other designs you want to add to the cover
  • Large eyelets (enough to put 2 on each completed page)
  • Large eyelet tool and hammer
  • Large rings
  • Single hole puncher (optional)

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Start by choosing a design for the cover and cutting it out.  I wanted to keep it simple so I just put the name on the front, but you can be as detailed and creative as you want.  Just make sure, as always, to leave a seam allowance around all the edges.  Pin and sew your design on the front.

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Now is a good time to look through all your pages and make sure they’re in the right order. ¬†Then pin the front cover to the first activity page (if you’re following this tutorial exactly that will be the one with a boy or girl and his/her bed)¬†right sides together and sew around the edges, leaving about 2-3 inches open on the side that will be on the left when the book is closed. ¬†Flip right side out and stitch closed. ¬† This photo shows the eyelets already in but you will add them later.

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And your front cover is done.

To make the closure, lay your 2 x 5 pieces right sides together and sew around the two long edges and one short edge.  Turn right side out.  It should look something like this.

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Now, lay your back cover page face up, then place the closure you just made on the left edge of the cover piece with the open end sticking out about 1 inch.  Then place the last activity page face down over the cover piece so the right sides are together.  Pin and sew all the way around, leaving about 2-3 inches open on the right (which will be the side with the eyelets later.)

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Turn right side out and stitch closed like you did for the front. ¬†You should have a back cover with a flap sticking¬†out of the right side now. ¬† Being careful to keep all your pages in the right order, pin and sew each page to one that will be on the other side of it in just the same way so that you end up with finished edges on every front/back combination. ¬†For example, the dresser page will be sewn onto the clothesline page, the washing machine will be sewn to the sled page, etc. ¬†The most important things to remember for this part are to keep them in the right order, and to make sure they’re all positioned correctly (you don’t want anything to end up upside down!)

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Once that’s finished, it’s time to add your eyelets so you can hook all the pages together. ¬†Start by measuring two inches up from the bottom of the front cover about 1/2 inch from the left side. ¬†Lay an eyelet directly above the measuring tape and trace inside the eyelet to mark where your hole will go.

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Do the same two inches from the top.

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Now cut out the holes you marked.  I found the easiest way to do this was with a hole puncher, but you can also try scissors or an X-acto knife.

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Follow the package instructions for inserting your eyelets.  Here is the way mine worked.  Insert the bottom part of the eyelet in the hole and place the top part on the other side of the hole.  Place the anchor piece below the top part and place the tall part of the tool on the bottom.  Hammer the tool gently 2 or 3 times until the eyelet is secure.

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To make sure all the holes line up, lay the cover over the next page and trace through the eyelet holes.  Then do the same thing for inserting eyelets in each page.

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When all eyelets are inserted, hook the pages together with the rings.

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The final step is to sew a snap onto the closure so the book will stay closed. ¬†Fold the flap over the front cover and mark where you will place each piece of the snap. ¬†Stitch on with strong thread, and you’re done!!!

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Now share your photos with the rest of us so we can all celebrate your huge accomplishment!

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Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

Quiet Book Tutorial-Part 1

My cousin ,who is really more like a sister, recently had her first baby and she wanted someone to make a quiet book for him. ¬†So, my 8-year-old daughter and I decided to take on the challenge. ¬†After months of working on it little by […]