DIY Felt Quiet Books

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I am always looking for quiet toys for my kids to bring to church each week. There are a lot of cute quiet books online that are just too expensive. I actually bought two pretty basic ones that were decently priced but my kids don’t really like them much. This is why I decided to make my own.

I have known that you can make fun things with felt, but have never been a super talented crafter. Projects that I complete have to be pretty simple and not super artsy. I only recently bought a hot glue gun(I know sad right?). Prior to this, I didn’t realize how valuable a hot glue gun is in the crafting world (I was totally clueless!). I have used mine a lot since buying it! It is super handy. It was very helpful with this quiet book.

Supplies

These are the supplies I used: Hot glue gun, fabric marker, scissors, circular cutter(optional), felt, string, beads, complementary fabric(optional), cardstock(for making templates), stencils, felt sticker letters(super easy!).

Do you need craft supplies? Use my links below!

Directions

Okay, so as I have mentioned I am not an expert crafter. I have found a lot of other tutorials that are much more detailed and provide templates. Here is one that I got some of my ideas from powerful mothering. This is a great tutorial! So many cute pages. My felt book is small and much more simple though. I tried to do things that I knew my kids would like. Here are the pages that I made: felt quiet books

Cutting felt and binding book

This is where the circular cutter came in handy. I used my cutting mat and a ruler to cut my felt in half. You could easily just use fabric scissors though.

I chose to sew my book in order to bind it. But I also thought about using pipe cleaners or string though too. I hand sewed the binding, but you could also probably use a sewing machine.

Cover

I happened to have a few different fabric squares sitting on my craft table as I was beginning to work on these felt books. I noticed that they matched my blue felt and remembered that I had some letter stencils that I had bought a while ago. So, using a pencil to trace the letter onto the fabric and then using my fabric scissors to cut around them, I had myself some cute little letters. I used my hot glue gun to attach the letters.

felt quiet book

Numbers page

I didn’t have any number stencils or I might have used them to make the numbers. Instead, I just wrote some block numbers on the felt as best I could and cut them out. The theme of this felt book is that it doesn’t have to be perfect! Your kids won’t care if things aren’t perfect.

Next, I cut some string to the length of the book. I also cut out some little circles of felt to attach the string to the other side. I had a container of plastic beads of various sizes that worked perfectly for adding onto the string.

Then, hot glue it all on. This is actually somewhat hard. I burned myself a couple of times because believe it or not, hot glue is hot! Haha.

Shapes and Person page

For these two pages, I drew out some templates on card-stock. As I mentioned before these were not perfect. My kids love these pages the most. They don’t care at all that they aren’t perfectly drawn. I used the card stock templates to make the shapes themselves and also traced them onto the felt book page. I used my little card-stock person as a guide to draw out some clothing items and hair. Again, not perfect, but the kids love it!

Letters and Racetrack page

I bought some stick-on felt letters at the craft store, not really sure ahead of time what I would do with them. I decided to keep it simple and just stick them on in order. My daughter is still learning her letters so I thought it might be helpful.

For the race track page, I laid the piece of felt on the open felt book page and drew an outline that fit on the page and then cut it out and glued it on. It was pretty simple and again, not perfect. My son loves driving his cars on it though!

Back Cover

I used the back cover to attach a pocket to store the extra pieces of felt. Originally was going to sew on some felt or fabric, but to make it easier I used my hot glue gun. It works great, but sewing might be better for long-term use.

The End

That’s it for this DIY project. Stay tuned for more easy DIY projects. I hope to show how anyone can do DIY stuff, even if you are not super crafty! This project was also very cheap. Each piece of felt cost 50 cents I think. There are often sales on felt as well for even cheaper. If you already have some on hand then it is basically free! This is another reason why I love DIY! Thanks for reading!

 

 

7 Tips to Help You Save Money and Live More Frugally

I am not an expert in the area of budgeting and saving money. But I am someone who lives frugally and manages to save money despite a fairly meager income. I offer the following tips as strategies that have worked for me. I will also link to other sources that agree with these strategies, and who may be considered “experts”.

1. Set up a monthly budget

I’m sure many of you already keep a monthly budget. I know some people’s budget is so tight that if they did not keep a budget they may overdraw their accounts. Our goal has always been to have extra money in our checking so that we don’t have to worry so much about our day to day purchases. This has meant that I have not always kept a budget. By not keeping a budget it has caused us to spend extra money sometimes.

I recently started adding up all of our purchases in a month. It was a bit of a shock how much money we were spending on things that were not necessities. It was crazy to think how much money we could save each month if we simply cut out all of these extra things we didn’t absolutely need.

Fast food was definitely the worst category for us. It is crazy how expensive fast food is and yet it often isn’t even that great or you are still hungry afterward. After realizing what bad habits we were in, we decided to make a change. You can read another post here about how we started meal planning and stopped buying fast food so often.

If you need an easy way to keep track of your budget there are a lot of great apps out there. I recently started using one called “clarity money”. I had to connect my bank account and it pretty much keeps track of what I’m spending. I sometimes have to move an expense to a different category if it puts it in the wrong one. But other than that it is working great. It is an easy way to see how much I’m spending. It also lets you save things as “recurrent expenses” which is very helpful.

2. Live within your means

This means trying to limit your debt or things that you don’t absolutely need. Food is a necessity but there is a limit on how much you really need. Clothing is a necessity but again, there is a limit on how much you really need. The same goes for furniture and other household items. We still have mostly hand me down furniture. Having nice furniture is not a necessity, cheap furniture works just as good as nice stuff.

Keep your debts to a minimum.

Only go into to debt for things that are absolutely necessary. While it is tempting to use a line of credit for other things it is easy to get in over your head. Just because you have a line of credit does not mean you should use it. There are payment programs and other lines of credit for just about anything these days. While it can be tempting to use one of these and possibly helpful if you have no other means to acquire the item, it is usually a trap! Interest is usually high and continues to accrue as you are paying it off.

We are currently trying hard to save money and pay off our debt. The only debts that we have come from necessities(Home, Car, School). While there are about a million other things I wish I could buy, I know I can’t actually afford them. While we do have a little extra income each month that we could spend on the “wants”, it is better for us right now to focus on saving and trying to pay off the debts that we still have.

For more on this topic from an expert, see these 2 posts from daveramsey.com

The Truth about Credit Card Debt

Do I Need to Keep a Credit Card?

Already have debt?

If you already have a lot of debt you might consider consolidating it somehow. You can also re-finance your credit card which could be potentially helpful for you. I don’t have much experience in this area. But if you want more information in this area you should head over to Lendedu.com. They have a lot of helpful stuff! Here is one post that talks about Credit Card Refinancing vs Debt Consolidation that may be helpful for you.

3. Limit your shopping

I could easily become a shopaholic. Shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. I love finding good sales. Bringing home new things is so exciting.

Since I know my tendencies, I know that I need to stay away from stores for the most part. Whenever I go to the store for a specific item, I end up coming home with extra things that I may or may not need.

This is why I try to limit how often I go shopping. If I am not in a store I won’t be as tempted to buy extra things. This is why I do a lot of online shopping too. Shopping online is a little easier because there are fewer distractions from what you really need to buy.

4. Only shop in the clearance section or thrift store

When I do go shopping I limit myself to the clearance section. Even at bargain stores like Ross. Looking at normal prices makes me overwhelmed. I can’t stand to pay more than $5 dollars for an item and definitely no more than $10. This may sound crazy, but it helps me not spend too much money when I or the kids are in need of clothes.

I also love thrift stores. You can often find items that are nearly new there. I like buying things for the kids at a thrift store since they outgrow things so quickly.

5. Consider buying a house

One way we are saving a lot of money is by owning a “cheap” home. Our “cheap” 2 bedroom home with a decent sized yard is cheaper per month for us than renting an apartment or home would be. No, it is not our dream home. It is already too small for our family. But it is manageable.

Lately, we have thought about selling this house so that we would have enough money to upgrade to a slightly larger home. This has been super tempting but we have realized that if we really want to save money each month remaining in this home is one of the best ways. We won’t have to stay here forever, but the time here will help us save money so that we can upgrade when the time is right.

Here is what Dave Ramsey has to say about homeownership though: He says you should only consider purchasing a home if you meet the following criteria:

  • You’re out of debt.
  • You have 3–6 months of expenses in your emergency fund, plus enough cash for a 10–20% down payment on a 15-year fixed mortgage.
  • You’re paying cash up front, or your mortgage payment is no more than 25% of your monthly take-home pay

While we are not completely out of debt, we do have an emergency fund and our mortgage is well below the 25% of our take-home pay. For more on Renting vs Buying see this post from Daveramsey.com

6. Drive “older” cars

Up until a year ago, we only had “hand me down” vehicles that we did not pay a dime for. When we did buy a car last year, it wasn’t brand new. But it was still quite an upgrade for us. I always felt so frumpy driving our old ugly cars, but I knew it was worth it.

While a larger car payment might fit in our budget, it would take away from the amount of money we are able to save each month. This is why we have decided to drive “older cars”

7. Set up automatic savings transfers

We have set up our bank account to transfer $100 dollars to savings each month automatically. This means that without even thinking about it we will save $1200 dollars in a year. We could increase or decrease this amount depending on our budget or make one time transfers when possible, but knowing that we will save a little over $1000 in a year is very encouraging.

save money

Hope these tips are helpful. Doing these things has helped us make it through very hard financial times. Continuing to live this way even though we are more financially stable has helped us save and work towards paying off our debt. I know that they can help you do the same as well!

4 Ways to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

I often catch myself comparing myself to others. Or getting discouraged because someone else is better at something than me. It makes me feel bad. Like I should give up. Even though I know I shouldn’t

This is always a huge hit to my self-esteem too! We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. I came up with 4 ways to stop comparing yourself to others.

You are YOU

While we may have similarities to other people. We are ALL unique. We each have something unique to contribute to the world. How can we contribute to the world if we can’t stop comparing our progress to someone else?

I love the quote above from Dr. Suess. Whenever I am feeling discouraged. I think about this quote. No one else is youer than you! Yes maybe someone else is better at a particular thing, but no one has our exact abilities and gifts that make us who we are.  Our own unique struggles and triumphs make us who we are and everyone has a different set of these.

Be better than YOU were yesterday(not someone else today)

Just because we are not good at something now doesn’t mean that this will always be true. We have to keep trying, keep improving, keep trying new things.

If we are comparing progress we make to someone else who is already way better at something then it is easy to get discouraged. But when we compare our progress to yesterday or last week, last month, or last year, we can begin to see that we are improving. So all that matters is that we are a little better today than we were yesterday.

BLOOM

We will bloom much faster if we stop comparing ourselves to others. We all have something unique to offer the world. It is hard to find what that is if we are always thinking that someone is better than us.

Sometimes when we are super discouraged it is really hard to think about what we are good at. At these times we should think about what makes us us. Maybe you are funny and able to make people laugh? Maybe you are a talented writer? Or crafter? Maybe you like to encourage others? Or you are a good teacher?

Everyone has something they are good at or maybe you want to be good at something? Start there and work every day on becoming better at whatever that is. This is why I started this blog. I wasn’t sure if I could be a good writer or if I could really write things to help people. But I wanted to. Every day I try to spend time writing or thinking about what I could write that can help my readers.

Focus on the good that you have accomplished

Maybe you ate breakfast for the first time in a while or drank more water. For me, I count it as an accomplishment if I talk to someone I don’t know. I simply say what comes to mind at the time. We never know when simple comments can brighten someone’s day. It doesn’t have to be a big thing.

I have started keeping a gratitude journal where I write at least one thing each day that I am grateful for. There are some days where there isn’t much to be grateful for. But taking the time to think about my day and focus on the good helps me be more positive and in turn less hard on myself. Here is another post about stopping our negative thoughts.

I am working on a post specifically about gratitude journals so look for that coming soon!

Just keep going!

As we continue to go forward worrying only about our own progress we will become better! I know that this is true. Remember these few things when you find yourself comparing yourself to others. You are unique and you only need to be better today than you were yesterday. So just keep going!

 

What is General Conference?

Tomorrow is the first day of the bi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! If you have friends who belong to the “Mormon” church, you may have heard of it. But do you know what is all about? That’s what I want to tell you!

What is General Conference?

Each April and October we have a chance to hear from our church leaders. We believe that there are prophets today, just like there where in the old testament. A prophet is someone who speaks for God. Just like when Jesus Christ was on the earth, we also have 12 Apostles and lots of other “auxiliary” leaders for the women’s organization, young men/young women, and Sunday School. There are even “seventies” over the geographical regions of the church. We get to hear from many of them during general conference.

General conference is pretty long but full of lots of uplifting content. There are five 2 hours sessions with lots of “talks” and musical numbers.

What is talked about?

Each leader who is chosen to speak chooses whatever topic that they feel inspired to talk about. Lots of prayer and thought go into each “talk”. There are lots of different topics but the general theme of all talks is to council and inspire the church members. It is a time that we look forward to every 6 months as a time to receive personal revelation or guidance on important life decisions.

Is it just for Mormons?

General conference isn’t just for people who belong to our church. It is for everyone. You can choose whether or not you believe that we really have a prophet who speaks for God. Either way, the things said in general conference are very uplifting and helpful! Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from previous conferences.

general conference

If you want to learn more about general conference or any other part of the church, I invite you to visit mormon.org

You can watch general conference here Sessions are at 10am and 2pm(mountain time) on Saturday and Sunday.

Here are some other faith-related posts

An answer to all the hope that is within

Free to choose: How our choices determine our destiny

Worries and Hopes of a Special Needs Mom

I am a special needs mom. Every day I worry about my child. I also have a lot of hopes for her and her world. I often feel outspoken and misunderstood as a special needs mom. This is why I wanted to write this post. To hopefully shed some light on what it is like.

We are often faced with challenges in life. Sometimes they are things that we thought would never happen to us. Or that we thought we could never handle. This has been true for me as I have become a special needs parent. In nursing school, I learned about autism and other developmental disabilities. I secretly hoped I would never have to raise a child with these difficulties. It sounded SO hard. How do parents do it? Why do these things have to exist?

I know now that we do it because we have to. We do it because we love our kids no matter what. No matter what happens I just try to meet my daughter where she is at. This is all that we can do.

I think all parents feel inadequate at times. Maybe all the time. To say I feel inadequate is an understatement. I really have no idea what I am doing. There is always this little voice in my head thinking “did I cause these problems by not doing…” I have often wondered “why me?” As I fumble to describe her problems to friends, family, and acquaintances. Despite all of this I have managed to keep moving forward, making the most of my experience.

Here is a list of worries and hopes that I have every day as special needs mom.

I worry about my child being included in school

Because of her attention and learning difficulties, my daughter doesn’t interact well with kids her age. She has odd behavior that kids her age don’t understand. Luckily, for now, she is in a self-contained special needs class. She will hopefully integrate into a normal class someday though. I worry about her being bullied for being different. Or that she won’t have any real friends.

I worry that my child won’t be able to do normal kid stuff

By normal kid stuff I mean, sports, dance, riding a bike, etc. We had her in dance class for a while but once she started kindergarten it was too much for her. She would just lay on the floor most the time and not follow directions at all. She still needs one on one guidance or she could easily wander off and get lost or hurt. This is another huge worry.

I worry about what people think of my kid when we are in public

As I have mentioned, my daughter has some odd behavior. She often won’t talk, instead, she makes funny sounds. She still throws tantrums. I often have to carry her out of a place because she doesn’t want to leave. While on the outside she may appear completely normal, she doesn’t behave like a normal kid her age. She is just now learning how to tell someone her name. I am always hoping that the people around me can tell she’s got some disabilities or that they don’t mind her odd behaviors.

We celebrate even the tiniest accomplishment

We get so excited anytime that she does something that she couldn’t do before. For the longest time, we were unable to teach her how to do a basic puzzle. Then one day, she came home and started putting doing all of her puzzles! It was so exciting!

Her biggest accomplishments lately have been talking better and better.  We still struggle to have “normal” conversations, we are better able to communicate with her though which is also super exciting.

We hope that she will continue to learn and grow

She is continuing to learn and grow, but much slower than she needs to. At this point, it is very likely that she will always need help with basic activities. She still needs help getting dressed, isn’t potty trained, and needs guidance throughout her day.

We still have hope that she will catch up. We are even trying a special diet that we hope might help her focus better. And we are seeking more help from her doctors about what we can do to help her.

We hope that people will try to understand us better

It is very hard to explain my daughters struggles to friends and family. I am getting better at articulating what she can and cannot do. People often tell me that she seems normal to them, or they think she will be fine. While I appreciate these people’s optimism, it’s not super helpful. I think that special needs are greatly misunderstood in general. Nobody knows how to react to kids that are different. I know that before I realized that my daughter had special needs, I didn’t know how to react either.

Each special needs kid is so different as well. While some may have the same diagnosis, they do not all have the same attributes. And there are many, many different diseases that can cause special needs. The best way that you can understand us better is to ask us about our kiddo. Or offer to help in some way. We usually can use it!

We hope that she will make friends and that others will watch out for her.

It is exhausting worrying about my daughter all the time. It is so nice when someone offers to help. Knowing that other adults and kids understand my kiddo and are willing to help her is SO helpful. I appreciate Eden’s teachers and aids at school so much. When I first started sending her to school, I would worry about her all the time. Without all of these peoples help, my daughter would easily wander off or get hurt.

No, we wouldn’t change a thing about her

Despite all of this, I wouldn’t change a thing about our daughter. Sure, sometimes I wish she could do things that other kids her age can. But at the same time, I marvel at her innocence. She is oblivious to all of the terrible things of this world. She is so happy. In many ways, her disability protects her from all the bad things in the world. Despite many daily struggles and frustrations, I love my daughter so much and am so glad that I get to enjoy her sweet spirit.