Perpetual Birthday Calendar

I really enjoy watching Dollar Tree DIY videos on YouTube, and Kelly Barlow Creations is one of my favorite channels. I was watching one of her videos recently, and the idea of a sign displaying all of the birthdays in the family seemed really cute. I knew it wasn’t something we would display, but I wanted to make it anyway. So I decided to make it to give to my grandmother-in-law. I went to the Dollar Tree to get the supplies, and my local store was out of some of the supplies Kelly had used, so I found alternatives. Also, she used a Cricut for her sign, and since I don’t have one of those I had to improvise on some of the other pieces too. Here is how I made my sign.

I started with two of the Dollar Tree signs that have the shape that looks kind of like offset boards. The way those signs are built, they don’t line up to perfectly when you try to put two of them together (I wanted to keep the up-down pattern intact), so I had Ballet Boy help me saw one of the planks off one sign. Then, with a little bit of puzzle solving, the signs lines up the way I wanted them to. I used the piece we cut off, as well as some popsicle sticks, to hold the two signs together (I hot glued the pieces onto the signs, going across the seam). With my sign built, I was ready to decorate!

I started by painting the sign white using Apple Barrel gloss acrylic paint. When the paint dried, I used a Sharpie to draw lines where the “planks” shifted because I wanted a fence-look. With the lines drawn, I used the dry brush technique to add another coat of white paint in order to soften the black lines. 

I added the words Family Birthdays next. “Family” is a metal word cutout from the Dollar Tree, which I painted with Apple Barrel Cool Blue. I used hot glue to attach it to the sign. I mixed my own purple using blue, red, and white paint to add the word Birthdays to the sign. Using a Sharpie I wrote the names of the months across the bottom of the sign, one month per plank. Then I painted the entire sign (including the metal word) with Mod Podge to seal the paint. Finally, I added a bit of ribbon to the two short sides to hide the rough edges.

I drafted Ballet Boy to  help me again at this point. He drilled one hole into the bottom of each of the planks with a month, and a larger one up near the top so I could install the pinwheel. 

I gathered up all the birthdays from the extended family, and took some decorative cardstock (from the scrapbook paper open stock at JoAnn). Using the planks on my sign as a template of sorts, I cut small rectangles from the paper and added each person’s name and day of birth (not the month) to one rectangle. I laminated all the rectangles using DT packing tape, and then organized them by month. I used a small hole punch to add holes to the top and bottom of each rectangle, then using embroidery thread I attached the papers to the bottom of the sign under the correct month (in order within the month). I added a bit of hot glue to the back of each rectangle to help keep the thread in place, and added a tassel to the last rectangle of each month. 

The last thing I did was to take some brown Kraft paper and cover up the ugly back. It used to be the fronts of the two signs, but now it was terrible looking because of those popsicle sticks holding the two boards together. I used a bit of hot glue to hold the paper on. Then I used cotton yarn (ch 13, slip stitch in 2nd ch from hook and in each ch across) to create two hangers for the back. Using copious amounts of hot glue for stability, I attached the hangers to the back of the sign. 

If you’re still here after all this, thank you for reading!

Blessings,

Crochet Wallet

Grasshopper (8) recently came into some money, and he didn’t have a good place to keep it. He asked his brothers to make him a duct tape wallet, but all we had was Dollar Tree box tape (which is really thin) so they told him no. He was pretty upset, so I got to thinking about how I could help him. My main skills are in yarn, so I realized it would be pretty easy to crochet a wallet. 

I started out with a double crochet stitch using a small hook so the fabric would be tightly woven, but I didn’t love the way that was turning out so I ripped it out and tried again. For my second attempt, I used fewer stitches (the first one was way too wide) and the half double crochet. I utilized a variation of the “third loop” method of the stitch (though not in a way I’ve ever seen done before), giving the wallet an interesting texture – and that extra solidity I was looking for in the beginning. This wallet would be great for any kid, and maybe even a woman who keeps it in a purse. If you’re a “wallet in the pocket” person, it’s probably a bit too thick (although, you could perhaps make it with thinner yarn to combat that 🤔).

Crochet Wallet

Yarn: any worsted weight yarn (I used JoAnn Big Twist in Varsity Green and Bubblegum ) in one or two colors

Hook: H

Panel (make 2):

Chain 36.

Row 1: HDC in 3rd ch from hook and every ch across (35)

Rows 2-12: ch 2 (counts as HDC). Sk 1st st; HDC in the “front V” of each remaining st across. (See photos for clarification.) HDC in top of ch 2 from previous row.

I’ve highlighted the parts of the HDC in blue. The V at the top is where you normally would insert your hook to create the next stitch. For this pattern, you want to use the bottom loop (the line below) and the “traditional front loop” of the V to make your stitch into. Treat those two loops together as if they were the normal V.

 

 

 

 

See here the position of the hook at the beginning of the HDC.

Fasten off; weave in ends.

When both panels are made,  you can add an appliqué (Jayda in Stitches on YouTube has lots of tutorials) or surface stitch a design to one or both, but this is completely optional. I added my son’s first initial. 

Stack the two panels together. Push your hook through one corner of both panels. Attach contrasting yarn (or the same color, for a calmer look) with a slip stitch. Single crochet through both panels together on 3 sides (one long and two short). As you turn the last corner, now start single crocheting on just one of the panels. When you get back to the starting point, SC into the seam between the panels, and then continue around on the other top. When you finish the second top (SC into the other seam too), join to the top of the first SC in the opposite side. Fasten off and weave in ends. 

If you make this wallet, tag me on Instagram (@ladybugdaydreams) or Twitter (@ladybugdaydream) – I’d love to see!

Blessings,

DIY Dollar Tree Photo Trivet

I have a super easy project for you today! I had seen trivets and plates like this on YouTube and wanted to try making one, and now I’m sharing it here. 

Supplies:

Glass trivet (I got mine at the Dollar Tree)

Printer and access to a favorite photograph (or a printed one from the store)

Dishwasher safe Mod Podge (available at Walmart and other craft stores – I got mine for about $8 at Michael’s)

1. Measure your trivet and open some sort of photo editing program on your computer. Size your picture up so that it takes up as close to the full trivet size as possible. OPTIONAL: Add some sort of background to the photograph. I found a background design on Pixabay and put my photo over the top of it using Photoshop, and then printed. 

2. Cut the image out to just a bit smaller than the trivet. 

3. Paint Mod Podge over the back of the trivet. Lay your image out on top of the glue (face down) and carefully smooth it out. Paint another coat of Mod Podge over it. 

4. Wait an hour, then paint another coat of glue over your image. 

5. Repeat step 4.

6. Wait 28 days (yes, you read that right) for the glue to cure and become dishwasher safe. 

I hope you make one of these and enjoy using yours as much as I have loved mine. 

Blessings,

Moon Stairs

My mom recently gave me a decor piece that she’s had for as long as I can remember – a wood cutout of a crescent moon with stairs and banisters, and three stars to match. She told me that her grandfather made it, and I’m really glad to have it in my own home now (even though it’ll be weird going to her house and not seeing it anymore). Even though I never met her grandfather (that I can remember), it feels like a piece of my own history to have this, and I’m really glad that she gave it to me.

But… I’ve been watching a lot of Dollar Tree DIY videos on YouTube lately, and they inspired me to take this family heirloom piece and give it a bit of a makeover. As much as I loved the piece before, I really like it a lot more now. Here’s what I did.

I started with a coat of white paint. I just used Apple Barrel White gloss finish paint because that’s what I had on hand. I really like the feeling of the gloss finish paint, and it’s not so glossy that it’s shiny. It just gives a very smooth finish to your work. I didn’t trust myself to be able to put the piece back together if I took it apart, so I did my best to just paint into the nooks and crannies of the entire piece. The stars were a lot easier because they’re flat. I didn’t bother painting the backs of any of the elements. I like knowing that they’re still the original color wood – it’s another reminder of my ancestry and the man who created the piece.

I chose to put the phrase “When you wish upon a star” onto the stars, and I knew I wanted the word WISH to be on its own star, and I wanted that one to have gold glitter. Other than that, I didn’t have a super specific design in mind. So I got onto the computer and found a font I liked (I used Garamond in all caps for WISH and Princess Sofia for the rest of the words), then typed the phrase into Word and printed it out. I used the same transfer method as on my most recent welcome sign to add the words to the stars, then painted them with Apple Barrel paint in the color Cool Blue. When the paint dried, I added a bit of gold glitter glue to the WISH star and spread it out with my finger to cover the entire star.

My mom never put anything on the stairs that I can remember, but I wanted to utilize that space for something pretty. I picked up a package of 3 mini terra cotta pots from the Dollar Tree, as well as a roll of ribbon, some Spanish moss, and “vase filler,” which was basically some miniature gold painted pinecones and other random bits of stuff that matched. I used hot glue to attach the ribbon to the tops of the pots, right where the rim is. Then I filled the pots with the moss (hot glued in place for security), then hot glued some pieces from the vase filler on top. Each one is a little different. (There are only 2 in the picture because I wasn’t sure I wanted to use all three, but decided later that I absolutely did want that.) Finally, I hot glued the pots onto the stairs. I did this so that I wouldn’t have to worry about them falling off, but also so that in a pinch, they would be removable.

Have you ever taken a piece from your past and given it new life?

Blessings,

Dollar Tree Welcome Sign

I created a new welcome sign for my front door this year and thought I’d share it here, including how I made it.

I started with one of the standard Dollar Tree rectangular signs. The one I picked up said “Easter Joy,” with the O being a foam chick hot glued on. I started by removing the chick from the front of the sign and setting it aside, as well as taking off the ribbon hanger. Then I flipped the sign over to the back and painted it with Apple Barrel (acrylic paint) in the color Nutmeg. When that dried, I went over it with white paint, allowing a bit of the brown to show through.

I also found a cute wood flower cutout from Dollar Tree and some pretty pink fabric. I removed the twine hanger from the flower and saved it for later. Then I used some Mod Podge glue to attach the fabric to the flower. When it had fully dried, I used an Exacto knife to trim around the edges of the flower. This works much, much better than trying to get close enough with scissors.

With both pieces (the painted and the decoupaged) done, I went to work with the words. I got on the computer and printed out the letters W E L C M and E for Welcome in a font that I liked. I made it pretty big (around 200 point, if I remember correctly). I had the idea to use the chick for the O, but that didn’t work out in the end (the sizing was all wrong). Then, using a technique I’d seen from Krafts by Katelyn on YouTube, I scribbled over the letters on the back of the paper, then placed it right side up on my sign and traced the outline of the letters. This left a very pale outline of the letters from the pencil scribbles on the back of the paper, which allowed me to paint over them very easily, with my painted letters looking just like the font I’d chosen. I painted the letters using the same Nutmeg brown that I used for the base coat on my sign.

I got back on the computer and found another font that I liked and typed out “to our home.” I printed that out and then very carefully cut it out with scissors. I used the Exacto knife to cut out the little bits from the insides of the letters as needed. I also jumped onto Pixabay.com (a free picture site) and found a pretty yellow background. I printed that out too, and then found a little bowl in my kitchen that was a good size to fit inside the flower. I cut out the yellow texture and glued that onto the flower using Mod Podge, and while the top coat was still wet I attached my “to our home” words and added another coat of glue on top of those also. I let the flower dry completely.

With my main pieces now done, I used a bit of hot glue to attach the flower to the bottom center of the rectangle. I considered putting the flower off to one side, but then I realized that it wouldn’t hang straight if I did, so I put it in the middle. I added the little chicken that I’d pulled off the front of the sign as well as the twine from the flower for hanging, and I was done… I thought.

I hung my sign up for a few days, and while I liked it, I didn’t think it was quite ready. It was too plain. So I brought it back inside and grabbed a Sharpie marker, which I used to add “stitches” to the edges of all the main pieces – the rectangle, the flower, and the center of the flower. That helped a lot, but it still needed something else. So I found some faux flowers I’ve had for a while (a freebie from JoAnn’s months and months ago). I cut of the stems of those using wire cutters and superglued them to the top (I was out of hot glue by this point). Now it’s done, and I’m really happy with how it looks!

Blessings,

The Crafty Classroom (review)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Kindergarten is such a fun age! Kids are excited to learn, and the learning they do is so laid back that it’s just a great time to be a parent. To enhance Dragonfly’s kindergarten experience, we have had the pleasure of reviewing the Tracing Bundle from The Crafty Classroom. Dragonfly loves to trace stuff, so this was a great fit for him. The Tracing Bundle comes with two files: Editable Name Tracing Pack and Tracing Bundle C. I want to talk about the latter first.

Tracing Bundle

This file is a 297-page printable PDF with loads and loads of things for your child to trace. Dragonfly and I looked over it together and he picked a few pages he wanted to trace. I also chose a couple that I wanted him to work on to help him in his early penmanship. Then I printed them all out and stuck them in a folder to distribute to him slowly. Each day we worked on these (about 3x a week), I gave him one of “his” pages and one of “my” pages. His were mostly shapes and pictures; mine were mostly words and numbers.

The Tracing Bundle includes things like the uppercase and lowercase alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, and sight words. Then there are images – dogs with bones, seashells and waves, and more. As you move through the pack, the emphasis changes to drawing the shapes in the right order – for your square, starting in the upper left corner, going straight down, then to the right, then up, and back to the left. This guidance is helpful for “pre-writing,” encouraging children to do things in the right order. That way, when they’re ready to write letters, they understand the concept of doing things in the right order.

Editable Name Tracing Pack

This one was really cool! The very first page of this PDF is the instructions on how to edit it properly. (The main thing is that it has to be opened in Adobe Acrobat, not a web browser or other program.) Then you scroll through until you get to this page:

As you can see, there are three choices here. Each one is attached to a theme. Pick the one you want, and type in your child’s name(s), and the PDF will pop those names into the appropriate pages for printing

This gives you the same types of tracing pages, but all entirely personalized. This is fantastic for kids from around 3-4 and up who are learning to write their names. I wish I’d had this for my older kids! You can bet I’ll be using it next year with Bumblebee, though, as well as working with Dragonfly sooner with it. What a fantastic resource for helping kids to write their name!

Final Thoughts

I am super glad we got to review the Tracing Bundle. It has been really great to have something simple for Dragonfly to work on while I’m doing more intense work with the bigger kids. He adores writing and drawing, as I mentioned before, so he’s been happy as a clam with these pages, and I’m happy to print out as many of them as he can work through.

The Crafty Classroom has offered a variety of different products to the Homeschool Review Crew members, so make sure to check out more reviews by clicking through.

Blessings,

Excellence in Literature (review)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

My oldest son has been working on writing a novel with his girlfriend, so I thought he might benefit from the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education. The PDF e-book is over 400 pages long and has tons of valuable information for writers from middle school on up.

From Ballet Boy:

The part of the book that I used was Pointers and Tips on how to write what’s considered a “good” essay from a logical perspective. It included information on how to structure sound arguments, and thus how to fulfill the purpose of an essay. It touched on the fact that an essay is not meant to deliver facts so much as it to convey a convincing point of view, or to sell an idea.

The author discusses the weakness of starting your essay with something that is a trivial or obvious claim. For example, if your essay is about Hamlet and your opening sentence says “Hamlet was the Prince of Denmark and he dies at the end of the play,” that neither conveys new information to the reader nor takes a stand about anything. Another weak sentence starter it gives as an example is “The French Revolution, which started in 1789, brought about many changes.” This, too, is a fact that can be checked by any reputable source and therefore can’t be the topic of an essay. It’s only something that can guide you toward a sound and logical argument.

This is not to say that an essay shouldn’t have the facts in it. But the mistake people often make in writing essays is that they get hung up on the facts, myself included. Then their essay becomes the answer sheet to a trivia game instead of someone trying to convince you of a point or position. This renders the essay redundant.

Moving over to the novel I’m writing, I have started using some of these same principles to create a more engaging story, one that is less concerned about delivering facts and descriptions (talking about the time of day and how the wind blows) and is more about invoking concern, emotion, and feeling in myself and my future readers.

Recently I was writing a scene where my two main characters are interacting with each other, and one of them is injured, lying on a couch. Instead of having a description of the room that they’re talking in, I have different characters interact with their surroundings. For example, instead of describing that the couch has lots of pillows on it, I have one of my characters grab a pillow and move it slightly to better support his head. And instead of describing how the room has a soft rug (or carpet), I instead talk about how their feet sink into the soft ground whenever they take a step.

All in all, I’d say this is a very good resource that I would recommend to a beginner or someone who intends to write anything of importance, whether a thesis statement in grad school or a fantasy novel for teenagers.

Make sure to read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew!

Blessings,

Tomato Plus Soup (recipe)

We’ve been eating a lot of soup for lunch recently, and I wanted tomato soup one day. Problem was, I didn’t have any canned tomato soup. I did, however, have lots of canned tomato products and boxes of broth, plus some veggies in the fridge. So I came up with this recipe.

I’ve made tomato soup in the past, but only blended recipes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t careful enough that day and ended up covered in hot soup. Not fun, and not something I wanted to repeat, so I left the vegetables intact – and in fact embraced that aspect by including diced tomatoes as well as the sauces. This aspect is where the soup got its name. When I served it, my husband said, “It’s like tomato soup, plus.”

I hope if you try it, you like it. 

80692887-0FD5-418C-BAEE-71E19677CF59

Tomato Plus Soup 

1 medium onion, chopped 

2 carrots, peeled and sliced 

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste 

1 box (32 oz) vegetable broth 

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2-3 teaspoons sugar, to taste (this keeps it from tasting like spaghetti sauce)

Saute the veggies in a bit of oil until the onion begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Let soup cook 15 minutes or more to give the herbs time to soften. Serve with your favorite grilled cheese sandwich!

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

Blazers Blanket

I recently finished up a blanket showcasing the logo of my favorite NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers.



48D4CB1B-DE3E-4853-AE82-12E2A8885769

For this blanket, I looked in Google images for a pixel graph, then I stitched it up using the corner-to-corner method. I set it aside for a while then to work on other projects (including the Mickey Mouse blanket and some of the sampler squares). One of my sampler squares caught my attention as a wonderful design – so easy and somehow outrageously satisfying – and knew that I wanted to use it for the border of the blanket. It was a simple half double crochet, chain 1 repeat. Perfect for TV or audiobook time!

B133BC95-C3E7-4112-A118-31BB387A2CA5As a bonus, once I finished the blanket and posted a picture on Instagram, an old friend contacted me and commissioned a blanket for her son. It will be a similar design, but with his favorite team. 

Have you ever stitched anything in honor of someone else?

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy

SchoolhouseTeachers.com review (2021)

Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew

ST.com review 2021

Once again, I am taking part in the Homeschool Review Crew in 2021. The year is starting now, with a review of the Ultimate PreK-12 Annual Membership from SchoolhouseTeachers.com!

In case you’re unaware of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, it is the homeschooling curriculum home of The Old Schoolhouse magazine, and it is awesome! There is way more on there than I could ever write about in a single post, so I’m going to go over just a little bit of what we’ve been using.

history of hanukkahSince it was the beginning of December when we first got started with this year’s review, I started by doing the History of Hanukkah study with my younger kids (Grasshopper, 8, and Dragonfly, 5). Hanukkah ran from December 11-18 last year, so we did the history study in the week leading up to it. The unit study included an 18-minute video, a 65-slide ebook/powerpoint presentation, a 2-page student comprehension worksheet, and a printable dreidel game. I took a couple of days to read the ebook to the kids and we discussed the content as we went. When we’d finished, they watched the video, and we felt they were ready to celebrate Hanukkah!

Moving forward, I’m super excited to explore the School Boxes for my kids. These are full curricula, designed like the “box sets” you can get from other companies, except they are entirely digital. I’ve never had the ease of a full curriculum for any of my kids (except when we reviewed one last year, but we stopped using it for a variety of reasons), and I really love the idea of not having to piece-meal a curriculum. SchoolhouseTeachers.com has school boxes for all grades, Kindergarten through 12th, and when I say it’s a full curriculum, I really mean it! Check out the topics available:

K school box

K English sample pageAnd that’s just for Kindergarten! Each of those topics has a downloadable teacher’s guide. The guide tells you everything you need in order to teach the subject, from a list of the supplies to a weekly curriculum guide to keep you on track to the specific links for the lessons on the main site that you need to teach the lessons. It really is all-inclusive!

I didn’t look at all of the school boxes, just the ones I needed for my kids (K, 3rd, 9th, and 11th grades), and they are all just as amazing. The 3rd grade box is the same as the Kindergarten box, but it also has “History-classical” as an option. The 9th grade box includes math, literature, writing, spelling, science, traditional and classical history, and art. The 11th grade box includes the same subjects as 9th grade plus geography.

My teens are largely self-sufficient in their schooling when given the proper assignments, so I will be sending these PDFs to their emails (along with my login information so they can access the website) and keeping track of what they’re doing through regular checking in. I am so grateful to have access to these complete curriculum resources!!

But what if you don’t need a full box curriculum? That’s okay too! SchoolhouseTeachers.com is a fantastic place for “filling in the gaps,” which is how we’ve used it in the past. They have hundreds of classes for students of every age, in every subject imaginable. Even if you just want something for a short-term unit study, they have it! You really can’t go wrong with a membership.

SchoolhouseTeachers.com is also a fantastic place for printable planners. The main planner available this year is the Smart Mama planner, which includes a interactive budget to help you track household expenses and is otherwise completely customizable. It has the ability to help you make transcripts for your older kids complete with including your digital signature in case you need to send those transcripts off to someone.

Other members-only benefits include the option to get a FREE tote bag (just pay S&H) as well as a free print subscription to The Old Schoolhouse magazine (as long as your membership stays active).

If you sign up by the end of the month (Jan. 31, 2021), you can get access to every single thing on the site for $139 a year, $16 a month, or $24.95 a quarter (automatically renewing in all cases). It’s normally $224.97 for the annual subscription, so it’s a substantial savings this month.

For more information on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog where you can read an introductory post as well as over 100 reviews (some blogs, some Facebook reviews, and some video reviews).

Blessings,

ladybug-signature-3 copy