Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Before FIAR Story Map & Story Discs

If you’re interested in using a Story Map for Before Five in a Row and Story Discs, you've come to the right place! 

I can't wait to do this once we start volume 1, but since we aren't there yet I knew I wanted some kind of soft start to geography, map reading, and even determining the setting of a story. Using the clues in the text and pictures you and your child can determine the best place to put your story discs on the Story Map. 

There are a few options in going about printing your map: 

1. Print it as an engineering print. You can print color or black and white, HOWEVER, Staples may or may not do it in color (I was denied at 2 different ones, but others I know had no problem at all - it’s worth a try if they will as it’s only about $3 for a 18”x24”). 
2. Print as a poster print for about $15 at Staples or another office store in matte or semi-gloss. 
3. The cheapest option is to print yourself spread over 6-8 sheets of paper, cut and tape it together, then just get it laminated for $1-2 depending on size. This is what I did and you can barely see the lines! (Instructions to do it this way will be below the link for the PDF file you will need to use. Use the Jpeg image for sending off to get a print from a printing company or poster sized prints from Staples.) 

Dropbox links to download each file for FREE!! - - 

**To print this on several sheets of paper and cut and tape together you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader updated. These instructions are for that (I’m sure there are other ways, this is the only one that I’m familiar with though): Open the PDF file, go to file and then down to print. Click poster, change the title scale to 225% and keep the overlap at 0.005 in. Check off the box that says ‘cut marks’ just to update and see the changes, and then uncheck the cut marks box (you will need to do this if you make any other additional changes). Make sure the orientation is in portrait mode and then print! These ratios are for about 18 x 23.5” and a really great sized map that fits all the story discs nicely! You can of course play around with the title scale ratio to see different sizes as well. Then just laminate! Cheap option and works great! 

 Once you have all this printed, consider laminating the discs and map. Then you can use either sticky putty or velcro dots to adhere to your map.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

My 5 Fat Files

I was reading one of my books by Elizabeth George (either A Woman After God's Own Heart, or A Woman's High Calling - can't remember which one), and she noted a really interested idea.

The idea was to create 5 fat files on topics you want to study by using the bible - God's word, through prayer, church, sermons, podcasts, books...or whatever. You basically try to learn and study everything you can on these 5 topics so that you almost become an expert in these areas with enough information to fill a book!

So I decided to pray about what my 5 fat files would be, and this is what I'm come up with so far:

1. Being a Godly Woman, Wife, and Mother
2. Parenting and Raising Godly Children
3. Healing & Faith
4. Anxiety
5. ??? TBD...

It's interesting how much more fascinating your quiet time digging into God's word can be when you are able to focus in with a purpose, instead of just reading to read. 

I feel like so often I hear people talk about their reading plan so that they can read the bible in a year, and yet we forget that we really should be studying God's word, not just reading it. It's so much more fulfilling, and almost as if a whole other world is being opened to us when you truly seek after Him with our whole hearts. 

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." ~James 1:5

So, what would you want your 5 fat files to be?

Gluten Free Blueberry Crumb Muffins

One of the biggest things that bummed me out about eating gluten free was not being able to bake my favorite recipes anymore. You hear so many horror stories of baking gluten free, from the texture being 'off' or it just plain tasting bad. There are gluten free flour blends on the market that some people swear by, but even they don't always give the best results.

Until now, that is...

I have discovered the amazing GF flour blend - Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour! No, I have not been asked to promote this, nor am I getting paid. I am just so over the moon about this flour that I've been practically shouting it from the rooftops! You literally do just what the the title says - you substitute cup for cup in your recipes when it calls for flour. Let me tell you though, that this is the ONLY GF flour blend that I have found that makes your baked goods taste exactly like the version with real flour. Some of my favorite recipes I use it for is Banana Bread, the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (yum!), pancakes, and now this divine Blueberry Crumb Muffin. It's not available everywhere, however. If you have a Wegmans that is local, they carry it, but otherwise you would need to check their website (here) to see what other local places have it. And of course you can always order online through Amazon.

So without further ado...so you can enjoy this little piece of heaven, here goes!

This Blueberry Crumb Muffin recipe has been taken from Allrecipies.com, here, and has been altered to be gluten free, as well as a slight change to the topping similar to how my Mom makes hers for Apple Crisp. Yum!

Gluten Free Blueberry Crumb Muffins


1 1/2 Cups of Cup 4 Cup Gluten Free Flour blend
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil (or vegetable)
1/2 cup milk (approx - see instructions below)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen. If frozen, make sure to thaw first and drain any blueberry juice)

Topping Ingredients:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter softened
dash cinnamon
1/2 cup GF old fashioned oats -


~Preheat oven to 400 degrees
~Line 12 cup muffin pan with muffin liners and spray the top of the muffin pan to reduce sticking if the muffins spill over at all
~Combine 1 1/2 cup GF flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 2 tsp baking powder in a mixing bowl
~Place 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the 1 cup measuring cup. Fill an additional 1/4 cup milk and mix all into the dry ingredient mixture (do NOT overmix!) - and it's ok that the batter is super thick.
~Fold in the 1 cup of blueberries and fill the muffin cups evenly with the muffin batter - about 2/3 full.
~Mix together the topping ingredients, using a fork and/or fingers, and sprinkle over the muffin batter in the cups - use a good amount to cover the top - but not too much, as this could cause it to sink in the middle (3/4 of this mixture is about how much I use, so you could cut down on the amount on top of each one to avoid it spilling over)
~Bake for between 15 and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Times may vary depending on oven, so make sure to check.

And enjoy! Super easy and super yummy!!!

What is your favorite GF baked good?

Friday, February 14, 2014

DIY Touch and Feel Photo Book for Baby

 My son loves touch and feel books, almost as much as he loves photo books of his family. I knew I had to create a touch and feel photo book especially tailored just for him, and there had to be DIY instructions out there. Well I found a bunch, and probably by way of mish-mash, just kind of fashioned one up. 

So let me tell you how YOU can make one for your little one! 

First you need to gather your materials:

*Cardstock (computer paper or construction paper may work fine too)
*scotch tape
*exacto knife and an old magazine to cut on
*duct tape (don't use metal tape like I did above! I had to redo one of my books because the pages eventually tore and then cut my son! I thought it was just shiny tape and he would love it...but not, it was metal tape. Sheesh. So yes, use duct tape, it works best and is the strongest for the job. Plus you can get real creative with all the different colors and designs out there.)

*Touch and feel materials - use whatever you have laying around your house: old sock, plastic bag, tin foil, saran wrap, wrapping paper, curling ribbon, sandpaper, felt, fabric, old stocking, ribbon, cotton balls....etc.


1. Cut your cardstock paper. You will need to cut these slightly larger than the photo size that you have. I had 4x6" photos printed at the one-hour photo and just cut the paper maybe 3/4" larger on each side (roughly pieces that were 5.5"x7.5")

2. Cut the photos. Take your exacto knife and start cutting on your photos where you want to put your different materials. Cut out little blocks, squares, whatever, making sure to cut on top of an old magazine.

3. Tape the material to the back of the photo. Make sure the material is facing the correct way, and then tape the material using scotch tape (or duct tape if it's difficult to do with scotch) just to keep the piece in place. 

4. Place a couple piece of scotch tape to the back of the photo and put in the center of your cardstock. The scotch just keeps it in place until you can duct tape it.

5. Flip the cardstock over and do the same with another picture on the other side.

6. Duct Tape the edges. Your duct tape is likely around 2" in width. You want to cut off a strip (doesn't need to be exact measurement) and start taping around one edge of the photo, then wrapping the excess duct tape around to the other side taping the edge of the 2nd photo on the other side. One piece of tape should be taping TWO edges of TWO different photos to each side of the cardstock. You will need to repeat this step around the other 3 edges. 

7. Repeat steps 2-6 for all of your pages.

8. Assemble your book. Once you have all of your pages, put them in the order that you want. Then open to the first 2 pages side by side, leaving a tiny gap between them, and put a strip of duct tape holding those two pages together - allowing that little gap to be there (this will make it possible for the book to close. If the pages are touching when you tape them together, you may have difficulty opening and closing the book). Do this to all the pages. Once you have each page taped to the next, close the book and place one last piece of duct tape along the edge to provide as the binding for the book. 

And that's it - you're all done!! 

You can adapt these steps however you need to! Don't worry about making it perfect, mine certainly isn't. My book is nowhere near perfect or pretty, but my son ADORES this book and lights up every time he sees and plays with it. Kids love to see pictures of themselves, other babies, animals, and the family that they know. 

So tell me, what unique ideas have you seen or created for your kids that they enjoy?

Happy Valentine's Day!!!

I am so blessed, it takes my breath away.

Thank you Lord for my amazing husband, father, and best friend. 

You have blessed me beyond belief and I treasure every moment with this man you have created just for me.

Rustic Nautical Corner Cabinet Re-Do

You should have seen this corner cabinet when I got it. Y.U.C.K.Y! But of course you can't see it because once again I forgot to take the before picture. *sigh* 

But alas, you can imagine it! 

Think...knotty orange pine, broken decorative top, gross dirt build-up everywhere...and get this....BIRD POOP. Yes, bird poop was so nicely laden all over this cabinet. How that happens? Beyond me...I have no clue. But after a nice tough cleaning and scrubbing and a coat of shellac to seal it, we were on our way to achieve my vision for it.

I wanted this rustic corner cabinet to have a nautical theme - all centered around these amazing knobs. Though I knew white sells better, I really wanted to mix my Annie Sloan paints to get this awesome navy blue to match the compass rose painted knobs. In fact those knobs were the biggest investment of the whole project! 

After a few coats of the navy and white were in place, I clear waxed and followed it with the dark wax - which came out much better than I expected. 

I really love the outcome of this one! The picture doesn't do it justice, but I'm really excited to see if she sells! (If not...I would be ok keeping her too!!)

So...what are you working on this week?

(This post is linked up on www.craftsalamode.com and missmustardseed.com)

Friday, November 15, 2013

DIY Sensory Board for Baby

My 10 month old son is such a boy. He's obsessed with hardware, shiny things, buttons he can push, toys he can spin, remotes, and cell phones. Basically if he can't have it, he wants it. And if he gets it, without fail it will make its way into his mouth.

Cue: Sensory Boards. All about discovery!

Except, I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for someone to make me a sensory board that is likely to be both small, and not personalized to my son's tastes. And... well, if you have a handy husband like I do, then all you have to do is oversee the operation and it's a win win! Hubby gets to play with tools, you design, and your child LOVES their new toy!! But if someone in your family isn't all that handy, rest easy because this is so easy YOU can do it! You just may be using hot glue or a stapler instead of nails! :)

So first things first. You have to gather your materials. Best place to do this is the DOLLAR STORE and a hardware store like Lowes or Home Depot. Or, just look around your house - you'd be surprised the kinds of things you can gather and put on the board that would be fun for your child! Think of things that the child can move, spin, push, pull, or play with. Then add some texture pieces such as: fur, sandpaper, leather, fabric, tin foil...etc. The only limit to materials is your own mind! For the board, we found that an MDF board works best for us. I liked that I didn't have to worry about splinters or having to paint a wooden board. But basically, whatever you have on hand will likely work. Just make sure to cut holes in the board for anything that may require batteries so that you can easily replace them if you need to.

Now arrange them on your board, making sure to think through where each piece should go that makes sense for your child. Meaning, don't put a mirror on the bottom of your board! Use nails, a staple gun, hot glue, or crazy glue to adhere all of the objects. Then clean all the objects to ensure safety for when (and yes I mean when) your child decides to taste the mirror or door hinge. Check to ensure all is safe, no loose or small pieces that could come apart - and you are good to go! Make sure that wherever you place the board is a safe place. Nail it to a wall, secure it to a wall somehow, or lay it on the ground. You don't want that thing to topple on your child!

And lastly - HAVE FUN!

The expression on my son's face was absolutely priceless. I have NEVER seen him so excited since he's been born!!

(Shared on the following linky parties: www.craftsalamode.com)