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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’ll 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 🙂

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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 […]

Best Tips and Tricks to Put Your Baby Back to Sleep

Best Tips and Tricks to Put Your Baby Back to Sleep

As the time approaches for your baby to come into your life, your enthusiasm grows, but so do the worries and the questions. You ask yourself if you’ll be able to keep up with the new tasks, especially if it’s your firstborn. In fact – […]

Should You Buy Your Mattress Online?

Should You Buy Your Mattress Online?

Here’s a question you never thought you would ask yourself five years ago: Should I buy my mattress online? The answer would most probably have been no.

But why?

The answer is simple. You spend about one-third of your life in bed and what you sleep on is a very personal and important part of your life. Another thing is that you can’t test the mattress when you order online. There’s simply not enough incentive to do it.

Wrong – firstly, buying a mattress at a bricks-and-mortar store is a hassle. You have to drive out there, avoid irritating salespeople and when you do find a suitable mattress, you have to wait for it to be delivered. And many people have picked up on that and have decided to try out the online option and surprisingly there are many happy customers out there.

But for our purposes, let’s have a look at the pros and cons and ultimately you can decide after having read this article if you are willing to give it a go.

Pros

You will know what you are looking for

Now, you may think that this is a bizarre thing to include in the positives. Strangely enough, it isn’t because customers that bought online are far more knowledgeable on the subject matter than those people that went to a store. The latter group relies one hundred percent on the salesperson for information. The former will have gone to a website like mattressmatchers.com/ to do their research.

It’s no hassle whatsoever

You’ve done your homework and know what type of sleeping surface you want and where you want to buy it. All you need to do now is click the purchase icon and enter your payment details, and you’re done. As promised, the following day your mattress is delivered.

Phew – You didn’t have to drive, haggle with a salesperson and navigate your way around a cavernous store and still you are sleeping like a baby.

E-tailers offer great discounts

You can sometimes save up to 20 to 30 percent if you buy online.

Great customer service

Online retailers go out of their way to make you happy. Not only are their websites easy to navigate and the buying experience is simple, but also the aftersales customer support is excellent. Companies like Rest Right Mattress are known to have amazing customer service. Let’s put it another way; they really don’t want a one-star rating so if you don’t like your mattress, they will do their utmost to get you a replacement.

You get nice long trial periods

While most traditional sales channels offer 30-day trial periods, you will get a whopping 100 days if you shop online.

Cons

What do you do with the old one?

If you purchase the old-fashioned way, the chances are far larger that you will be able to get rid of your old mattress when the delivery team arrives with the new one. E-tailers do not have this service.

No touchy feely

Sure, you got the 100-day trial period online but had you bought in-store, you could’ve tested a whole bunch of mattresses beforehand.

There’s more DIY

The bricks-and-mortar option includes a team that builds everything up. Ordering via the internet means that you have to do all of the work yourself. Remember those fun moments assembling an Ikea cupboard with your loved one? He or she is mostly probably still growling at you when you both stare at the offending item you built together.

Buying in-store has the whole shebang

Usually, the store will have everything from the bed frame to the pillows and duvets. It’s just easier as an all-in-one option. However, many e-tailers like Caspar are starting to offer accessories.

Summing up, all there is to say is that it is up to you. Both avenues have their advantages and disadvantages. Your mattress is the most used piece of furniture in the house, so make sure you are comfortable with the way you bought it.

By James

Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

Why I Decided a Pet Was Worth the Trouble…Again

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MorrisKnowsBest #CollectiveBias If you ask my son about his siblings, he’ll tell you he has two sisters and two brothers. The sisters are both regular human girls, but the […]

The Shadow Magic Series Review From a Tween

The Shadow Magic Series Review From a Tween

Our family has a deep and abiding love of all things Fantasy. My kids, especially, caught the bug. My one true genre love has always been Historical Fiction. Amber, however, somehow inherited her aunt’s passion for all-things-fantasy. As a result, I have been scrambling to […]

How To Give Yourself a Makeover This Spring for $50

How To Give Yourself a Makeover This Spring for $50

This shop has been compensated by Schwarzkopf. #FashionColorExpert #sponsored

*Dramatic Announcers Voice*

It’s time to play everyone’s favorite game….Guess What Color Nicole’s Hair is Now!!!

A few years ago when hubby was still in school, one of his favorite professors was switching to a new school. The electrical engineering program at UT Tyler was small and had a very family type atmosphere. Because of that, the professor invited his students to his house for a farewell shindig. At the party we ran into one of hubby’s fellow students. I’d met him just twice before, about a year earlier. We’d gone out to eat together, and once he came over to our place for a BBQ.  At the party, though, he didn’t even say hello. Then as the night went on he started acting rather cold towards me, which I thought was very strange.

Towards the end of the evening, all of a sudden he bursts out laughing and comes over dying. “Oh, my…..” He gasps. “You’re NICOLE!!!”

“Ummm….yes????” I, Nicole, am very confused.

He continues, “You look NOTHING like yourself. The last time I saw you, you had short black hair. When I saw Bob walk in with a long haired blonde and start flirting with her I was so upset. I didn’t know if he was cheating on his wife or if you had split up. I was thinking that no one had told me anything, and you guys had seemed so happy together.”

We all died laughing!! I continue to joke with Bob about “cheating on me, with me” every time I make a radical change to my hair.

After that point I decided one of my life motto’s must be “Life is Short, Have Fun Hair”

Spring is the *perfect* time to give yourself a makeover! This is usually a crazy time of year for everyone, and freshening up and looking beautiful is a great way to reset and refocus! This week I gave myself a makeover for $50! Here’s what I got (prepare to be impressed!)

Hair Color: $18.58 (my hair is so long and thick I had to purchase 2 boxes–if you only need one you’ll save even more!)

Hair Cut: $20

New Dress: $9.99

Total: $49.57

Here’s the breakdown of what I got, and how you can re-create it in your own style!

You can find all the Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® colors in the Hair Color aisle of Walmart. While I was in the store, I also browsed the clothing section and found a gorgeous and oh-so-comfy sundress for $9.97 for my photo shoot!! You wouldn’t believe how many cute clothes I’ve purchased for me and the kiddos at Walmart over the years.

You’ll remember that last fall I dyed my hair a beautiful purpley black using the Schwarzkopf brand. In between then and now I decided my next fun color was going to be RED! So I picked up the box mix to make that happen. Recently, my roots were growing out and the shade I picked last time was more orangey than I wanted this time, so it was time to refresh and tweak slightly!

This time I picked up Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® in Ruby Red. The Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® is the most fashionable & vibrant hair color that defies fading for up to 9 weeks of color shine. (Vibrant, long-lasting color is a must for a busy gal like me!) It also delivers a “True to box” color result which is always great. Another bonus is the shine and feel of the hair after coloring even after weeks! My hair is thick, on the coarse side, and since I change it out so often and style it with #alltheheat it goes through a lot! I love using dyes that help repair my hair instead of hurting it more!

In my last hair blog post I walked you step-by-step through how to dye your hair at home. This time I thought it would be fun to do a time-lapse instead! Watch my 40 minutes of work in 40 seconds!

Ta-Da!

I also desperately needed a new cut! It had been almost a year since I’d cut my hair, and my poor scraggly ends were begging to be cut off. I found a local place that accepted walk-ins that had excellent reviews and photos and went in! When you do the color at home you can get a nice salon cut for around $20-$30 depending on where you live. If you want to save even more or are in a pinch for time, just have them do the cut and not the shampoo/style.

I absolutely love my new look! It was just the makeover I needed. My hair feels silkier, softer, lighter, and it has such a pretty color and shine!

The after conditioning treatment in the Schwarzkopf color ULTÎME® is wonderful and really made my hair feel and look amazing. I’m in love with the color too. As you can see in these photos it looks one way in the shade/inside….

And then it takes on fun new dimensions and tones in the sunlight/outside.

There you go! For under $50 you can give yourself a fun makeover this spring that’s as unique and fashionable as you are!

Want even more Beautiful Hair Inspiration? Check out all the great posts here!

Tricks For Training Your New Puppy

Tricks For Training Your New Puppy

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #NutrishRealMeatTreats #NutrishPets #CollectiveBias The title of this blog post should be “That One Time We Went To Rent a Movie….and Ended Up with a Puppy” A few weekends […]