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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Three Ways to Make Reading Part of Your Family's Holidays


As I unpacked the holiday decor this year, I ran across some of my family's holiday books and it inspired me to share with you some ways to make reading part of your family's holiday traditions.


  1. Read aloud count down-Growing up my father would start reading "A Christmas Carol" sometime around Thanksgiving and finishing by Christmas eve.  It became such a favorite that most of  us, were able to quote the opening paragraph.  You can see our well loved copy taped together above.
  2. Make the old new-My mother-in-law found this advent calendar and bought it for my boys when they were young.  I loved having a new way to share my family tradition with the boys and my young sons were obsessed with this every year.  We enjoyed a portion of the story every night just as I did with an interactive book they could take out and hold and then put a way.  
  3. Start a new tradition and have your own Jolabokaflod!  Give everyone a new book on Christmas eve to read.  My children nag every Christmas eve to open just one item under the tree.  This year, they will each be allowed to open a book to read before bed. When my boys were young, I started a tradition of only giving my boys three gifts (as baby Jesus got three) and there was always something from Santa.  Now I can keep the presents to a minimum and still share a love for reading!
By making reading part of your families holiday tradition, you show the value of reading and make it part of their fond holiday memories.  It's also a wonderful way to bond and de-stress during the craziness of the holidays!  Remember, "Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."  Emilie Buchwold.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Toadstool Box for #mybookfair


Last year, I took a position as a grade school librarian.  I also get to host our Scholastic book fairs.  I love the decorating and craft portions of the fair and this year, I wanted a fairy garden to use for decoration and promoting the event in our teachers lounge.  So, I found a toadstool box at fluerettebloom.com.  I found several on the Internet, but I needed a more simple box so I can make more decorations! 

I did not cut an overlay, but used a printed paper instead.  I also do not have an embossing machine, so I just used a Close to my Heart Shimmer pen on a dry embossed paper.  The center of my flowers are The Robin's Nest White Seeds.  I used a door and window from Cricut Design space. butal the rest is Fleurettebloom.com.

I have to give a shout out to Fleurette, who helped my through my user error with the download of this file.  I did not know how to unzip a file and she was very patient with me and made sure that there was nothing wrong with the file first.  Thank you Fleurette!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

K-Cup Teacher Appreciation Gift


I thought it would be nice to let the teachers know how much I appreciate them at the start of the year.   The Cricut Design Space has the cutest apple rosettes in the Scoring Wheel Rosettes cartridge.  I didn't want to make the box because it would take too much paper and I wanted to keep the cost down.  So I used the smaller apple in the cut and created a little tag that says you are awesome to the core.  I also created the wrap as a rectangle with score marks.  You can find the file here.



I loved using the scoring wheel for this project, but found my older computer did not do well with the score marks unless I had ONLY the design space open.  So, if you are like me and want to multitask while your Cricut Maker is scoring and cutting, use your phone for checking email or Facebook.


I was so impressed with how well the Cricut Maker cuts copy paper!  This will save me money on projects like this where I need a print and cut label.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

My First Cricut Maker Sewing Project


I recently purchased the Cricut Maker when HSN had the machine with knife blade and scoring wheels for the same price as the Cricut Maker alone.  I saw a challenge giveaway on the Face Book CricutMaker SewSpecial Group for some Riley Blake Fabric and decided it was time to pull it out of the box.  But what to make first?  

My niece recently turned 3 and one of her presents was her first doll.  She was so excited to play with the doll and wanted to change her clothes.  The first thing she asked for was pajamas.  Hey, I want to get into my PJ's first thing too!  So I got it!  I used a Simplicity pattern on the Cricut site and found the price reasonable.  Here is the doll dress on an American Girl Doll, Kit.



Setting up the machine was easy and quick.  Swapping blades was simple and quick too!  I loved how it cut and found some great articles on mat care everyone should read.  Forget everything you know about your other Cricut mats and your quilting self healing mats and read the article at Hey Let's Create Stuff here.  Here's the summary:

  • Don't scrape the mat clean!  You will remove the adhesive.
  • Thread on the mat is ok.
  • Pick up your fabric off the mat with tweezers instead of your spatula or scrapper.
  • Keep your hands off the mat because oils and dirt will lessen it's holding power.
I was so excited to get started that I couldn't wait to get a 12 x 24 pink mat.  I used the 12 x 12 pink mat that came with the machine for the collar, but needed the longer mat for the dress front and back pieces.  So, I tried a green mat and it worked.  You can use the green mat if you have no pink fabric mat, but paper fiber on your older mats will dull your blade, so ONLY use a new green mat if you have one or just make the trip to the store.  I could not find any information about why else you want to use the pink mat vs. the green mat.




I made a few changes to the Simplicity pattern instructions.  I added interfacing to the collar.  It wasn't needed and became a bit bulky because I fused before I cut, so both top and bottom layers had interfacing.  I also, can't find my manual with buttonhole instructions for my 1990's sewing machine and decided to just use velcro.



I had trouble viewing every page of my Simplicity pdf sewing instructions, but quitting Cricut Design Space and reopening the pdf resolved the problem.  I called the help desk and they told me to clear my cache and cookies but I got disconnected and wasn't sure how to do so.  Thankfully, closing and reopening resolved the problem quickly.  I like that I can just view the pdf on my computer and not print out the pattern and waste paper.  And I don't have to store patterns I want to reuse.  This makes me very happy too!

So, will I use my Cricut Maker in future sewing projects?  Yes, I would love to try a quilt and see how I like it for cutting blocks.  And I make sewing patterns, so the idea of using Design Space to make and sew things really appeals to me too!  And if this doll nightgown is a hit, there will be a bunch of Christmas sewing going on.  

I have already started working on my next Cricut Maker Project and I can't wait to use my knife blade for an Advent Calendar project.  I want to make a back to school teacher's good box with the scoring wheels...oh, if I could only find the time for all my ideas!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Christmas in July Challenge


I still have Christmas card photos to scrapbook, so I was so excited to see that Bitten by the Bug 2 had a Christmas in July Challenge!  I pulled out my Anna Griffin paper, for the background and my Anna Griffin Cricut Cartridges for the cuts, a few extra embellishments left over from Anna's Christmas card kit and the page is done!  Thanks BBTB2 and Anna Griffin!

I used antique gold embossing powder along the edges.  Cartridges are Anna's Christmas Card and Embellishments for the red swirls, and Anna's Winter Wonderland for the Believe.  Just 2 hours left in the challenge, and a page is done.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Making the Most of Audio Books for Your Grade School and Middle School Children


If you have been following my blog for any length of time you may have noticed that I have been missing for a while.  I started a new job this year as a half time Grade School Librarian half time Para Educator.  I love it but had no idea how busy being a librarian could be! 

I really enjoyed sharing the importance of reading and encouraging parents to raise readers.  So, today I am covering a reading topic that I thought parents might want to know more about:  Audio Books and how to make the most of them as a reading tool for your grade school and middle school children.


  1. They are free or affordable. Many local libraries offer Audio books, so check out your audio book choices on both their website and the libraries digital reading site using reading application they suggest.  Many schools use sites like Tumble Books for their students and you can continue to use this site over the summer.  Libraries and school subscriptions offer free options.  You can also look for free trials through sites like Amazon.  Or, you can get a paid subscription that the whole family can use too, making this option affordable for some.
  2. They foster more reading.  This is a fabulous way to engage the first time chapter book child, or the tween who has begun to consider video gaming and friends more fun than reading.  For my boys, I would get the first book in a series on audio and the second book from our local library. Once they heard a few chapters,  they were hooked and read the rest of the series themselves.  Audio books can be the perfect way to engage your child in a summer reading program too.
  3. Easy Access.  When life gets busy with activities, sports, travel and more, you can download an audio book any place you have wifi or use your data at any time of day.  My local library Sycamore Public library uses the app OverDrive and Online Media of Northern Illinois Libraries.  You can also listen directly from your computer for devise by visiting their website and clicking on the e-audio book link (see photo at the top for example).  So, use this tool when your library is closed to prep for the next days reading!
  4. Provide Comfort and Sooth.  These are great for the overnight in a strange place, or to quite a child!  This was one of my go to's with a wound up toddler and vacation bedtime.
  5. Size Doesn't Matter:  well to your child anyway.  If you have a child who shies away from large or long books like "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince," audio books are a great tool. I can say that some audio book files downloaded from your library are downloaded in sections because they can be big, but in your child's perception this is not a "long" book.
  6. Productive:  audio books can help them get books read for school projects or reading groups. Our local school district has a Battle of the Book competition that requires student to read the Blue Stem award books.  This year that list includes 20 books.  So, audio books for road trips can help a child get through a large number of books without feeling overwhelmed by the number! Which brings up my next point...
  7. Portable:  Audio books take up less space for vacations.  These are perfect for road trips when your child can't read in a car without getting nauseous.  I love how this results in great discussions about the book we listen to, and books that we have read we all might like!
  8. They're Fun!  The actors and authors add a depth that will have your child loving books and wanting more!
So, audio books are like many other tools and can be used for good or bad.  Make choices that foster more reading, and life long reading habits in your child.   


Monday, May 28, 2018

Just a Mom and Her Gadgets Making Invitations


You can make professional invitations for your high school seniors open graduation open house!  I made mine and even took my own portrait with my iPhone!

Since I am not a professional photographer, I researched how to take a portrait on line.  I also saved a few poses and took photos of them with me on phone.  I waited for an over cast day and out we went.



I took more than I needed in the hopes that something would appeal to both my husband and I.  In the end we had three we both liked.  I used just two on the card.



Once I had the photos, I uploaded them to Walgreens and designed a card using their templates.  I chose to use card stock so, I could use both sides of the card, one for the portrait with name, and the invite on the back with a second photo.  Printing these with envelopes cost me  $1.05 each.


Because I am such a avid paper crafter and Cricut fan, you know I had to add a little embellishment!  So, I made a card sleeve with the school mascot for his high school and grade school in his high school colors. I cut the black paper with some card stock from Michaels bought with a coupon and some glitter card stock I won from Anna Griffin's blog.  I am a bit Anna Griffin obsessed and like to put a little Anna in all my paper projects.  Her gold glitter card stock cut like butter in my Cricut.  Thanks so much Anna Griffin, for letting me have a touch of AG and me in such a masculine project!  So, I only spent another $3.83 (for 40 cards) to add sleeves for all my cards.

It was a fun project that made me happy!  I feel the results are so professional and look expensive!  So, if you need some great party invites, give your own a try with a Cricut, an iPhone, and Walgreens! My total came to under $46.00.  The procrastinator in me was also so happy to be able to order the invitations and have them delivered the same day.  I cut all my sleeves and assembled in one day.  I had them in the mail three days after starting this project! 


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