My goodness, it seems that for the past few months, read-alongs just haven’t worked out! Because of how awful August was when my mom passed (which still doesn’t feel real, I still haven’t come to terms with my loss), I didn’t read very much. Reading is something I enjoy, and a great distraction because of how absorbing it can be, so I’m trying to get back into my reading habits! So! A new September book! For this month, I have selected…Continue reading “September Book Club”
It’s back to school time at last! For a lot of parents this is a time of bittersweet feelings: regret over having to send your sweet little one away, and maybe a little bit of relief to have some more time to yourself (don’t worry, parents, no one is judging you).
Education is one of my hot button issues. It has always been very important to me, and since I became a parent it’s a big focus of mine more than ever. My little one is still a toddler, but I love teaching her colors, shapes, animals – whatever we’re doing, I like to take the time to try to inject a little learning. Kids are learning all the time! It’s amazing how much they pick up just from interacting with the world around them. Brain development happens the most rapidly during those precious early years, so it’s important to nurture that.
I’m also a big supporter of learning incorporated into play. After all, children have a right to play! It seems that so much focus is put on results and metrics, and a lot can get lost in that approach. Let’s keep learning fun! I firmly believe you can make education and learning a priority in your home for your kids without crossing into “work.” So today, for any parents interested in keeping kids engaged and ready for school, I’m partnering with Education.com to bring you some fun activity sheets!
What’s more fun than animals! Let’s match words and animals in this fun Matching with Image Animal activity. Check out Education.com for more exciting word recognition activities like this one!
For kids who can read, they can do the work on their own! Or, a parent can read the name of the animal and the child can point to the right picture! Download the worksheet and answer key below:
If you’re interested, Education.com has free printable worksheets, online games, and even lesson plans from preschool to 5th grade. It’s a great resource for parents and educators!
Hello, dear readers. I’m writing today to explain my brief absence, as well as offer an explanation for why you might not see so much of me for the next little while. There’s not really a way to put this delicately or to dance around it, so:
My mother passed away.
I’m devastated. This was unexpected and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. I can’t stop hurting. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do from here.
So please understand that I’m dealing with a tragedy. I’m going to try to act like everything’s okay for the most part here, so I’ll still try to keep a cheery tone in my posts. Just know that behind that tone I may be struggling. Thanks, everyone.
A lot of people are intimidated by a sewing machine, or even the thought of sewing, but as someone who is basically self-taught, I can tell you that it really is easier than it seems! The fancy, more complicated machines might have something of a learning curve, but for very simple projects with just straight stitches on a nice woven fabric, I think just about anyone can pick it up! If you’re looking for an easy project, here’s a really fun, really quick tutorial for a practical little lunch wrap! Note: This is a beginner project, but it does assume some very basic knowledge of sewing/your sewing machine. You’ll need to be able to thread the machine as well as stitch with it. I’ll cover the very basics in another blog post soon!Continue reading “DIY Lunch Wrap”
This has been a hard week for me. Not only has there been a lot of heart-wrenching news lately (which deserves more time and attention that I’m able to give here), but I’ve had several personal setbacks, as well. I’ve been feeling run down, tired, and just a bit like a useless lump. It feels – for me, at least – that sometimes as a mom you have to be “on” for your children all the time. Even my little one, who is only a year old and can’t really understand what I’m saying, still makes me want to be as bright and happy as possible. But it’s hard! Parenthood is so hard in general, and when you’re feeling tired it just makes it that much harder. It’s a tough cycle to get stuck in, and unfortunately that’s where I’ve been! I’m looking forward to a chance to recharge.
Here are a few tips that might help if you, like me, are stuck that same rut and want to climb out and start feeling like a person again.
1. Get Enough Sleep
I know, I can already hear you laughing at me. Lack of sleep is probably part of the problem! Stress makes sleeping well more difficult! Trust me, I know – I’m there, too. But taking care of yourself means getting enough sleep, even though often it’s one of the first things that many of us sacrifice to make room for everything else in our busy lives. (And sometimes, of course, that sacrifice isn’t voluntary!) However, being well-rested can make a huge difference in how you feel. If you can, go to bed a little earlier. Start a bedtime ritual. We do it for our fussy little babies, why not try it for ourselves? Make bedtime fun, if you can. Be very intentional about it. Wear your comfiest pajamas (or whatever you like to sleep in), give your pillows an extra fluff, get cozy blankets, play relaxing music – pamper yourself a little! If your sleep is very disordered, of course, you may need to see your doctor, but here are a few tips that might help you sleep.
2. Take Time to Really Enjoy Something
Have a book you haven’t gotten to read yet? What about a new artist that you’ve really wanted to listen to? Maybe there’s a favorite movie that always makes you feel better when you watch it. Take some time to engage with something that you really, truly enjoy. This can be something as simple as calling a friend, going shopping, reading a book, or going for a walk. Anything that you enjoy, as long as you do it with the intention of really letting yourself lean into that enjoyment. Luxuriate in that little moment of pleasure. The best part is you don’t need a large chunk of time to do this. Give yourself the length of a song if that’s all the time you have. If you’re a working parent with a commute like me (or anyone who spends time in a car), download an exciting new podcast to listen to! I really like The Slowdown, which is always only five minutes long. Sometimes those stolen moments of pleasure, even if only a few moments, can really rejuvenate you.
3. Treat Yourself
Everyone likes a little present now and again. If you have the time and budget, maybe splurge on a night out with friends or your significant other (maybe kid free, if you’re a parent). Get yourself a new outfit, or something you’ve wanted for awhile. If money is an issue, this can be something as simple as a candy bar. Maybe just a food or drink you like that you haven’t had in awhile. The point is to be generous to yourself, and give yourself something out of the ordinary. If you’re like me and in a place where the thought of spending money on anything other than necessities makes you itch, you can still treat yourself! I have “special” shirts that I don’t wear everyday. I have a really nice make-up palette that I rarely use. It’s time to break out those for-a-rainy-day things you’ve got tucked away! Break out a bottle of wine you’ve been saving. Watch a show that you want instead of giving in to your spouse (maybe speaking from personal experience there…). The point is to tell yourself that you’re worth it, that you deserve something special.
4. Get a Little Exercise
I’ll bet after the sleep tip, you all saw this one coming! It’s true, though, that exercise has some amazing benefits. Everyone has different preferences and capabilities so I won’t suggest how you get your exercise, but it really can be a big mood booster. If you’re able, maybe go to a gym. Sometimes getting out and going somewhere different can be a refreshing change of pace, and it might help motivate you. If you have to – or honestly just prefer to – stay at home, try looking up a fun exercise routine on YouTube. There are tons and tons of different options, and many of them are only a few minutes long, so you can adjust your work-out to the amount of time you have. There are a lot of exercises you can do seated, as well, or while at work. Even if you don’t have a lot of time or space, there are options out there for everyone! If you have any trouble finding something, drop me a comment and I’ll try to help you find what you’re looking for.
5. Write or Journal
This might seem like something only relevant to someone (like me, for instance) who already really enjoys writing, but that’s not the case at all! Writing can be very therapeutic. Don’t think about this as having to create something like a poem or a story. While that is a good de-stress tool for some people (like me! I love creating), it’s by no means the only way you can use writing. Sometimes getting your thoughts out on paper can help clarify your mind and get you re-focused. Make a list of things you’re grateful for. Make a list of things bothering you, give yourself permission to think about it and worry as much as you need while writing the list, and then throw the list away! Maybe you’re the planning type, and you want to make a plan of attack to conquer all those things stressing you out. Do it! Even just taking some time – judgement free time – to do a little journalling can help unburden you. Talk about your feelings, or write a letter to an old friend, or plan out what you might say if you ever met your favorite celebrity! I blog, and write fiction, but I also keep a personal journal that’s just for me that I don’t show to anyone else, and writing always helps me keep things in perspective and clear my head.
If you take a relaxing weekend (or afternoon or even just a few minutes) to try any of these tips let me know! Do you have any other tips to share? Let’s help each other try to relax – I know that I, for one, really need it!
I was going to write a long post about what’s been going on, and why I’ve been gone for so long, but I’ve honestly been stressed enough and I don’t think rehashing it is going to do me any good! Luckily my blog is still new enough that it’s not really going to affect any loyal readers because… I don’t have any loyal readers yet? I’m definitely looking forward to interacting with any visitors for this book club, though, so drop a comment if you’d like to read along!
And without further ado, the July pick is…Continue reading “July Book Club”
So for my little logo for this site I have:
I made this myself using free resources I found online. The gold letters I made using GIMP. It’s really, really easy to do, and not only is it a way to get comfortable using GIMP so you can up your skills for creating, blogging, etc. but it can really be a great way to make graphics pop.
GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and it’s totally free and open source. It’s a good alternative to programs like PhotoShop, which I know for some can be prohibitively expensive, especially if you’re a really casual user. I’ve used both, and while I like the interface and options for PhotoShop, for my needs GIMP works really, really well. If you don’t already have it, you can download it here, and the site also has more tutorials and tips and hints if you need them.
So now you need to decide what you want your text to look like! Do you want a gold foil look? Maybe silver? Pretty much any picture you can find you can convert to a pattern. It’s very important to remember, however, that some images are copyrighted. How are you going to be using your text? Is it just for a personal project, or is it for a commercial use? Make sure that you have permission to use whatever image you use! There are lots and lots of free images you can use online, though, so it shouldn’t be hard to find something you like. And don’t forget – you can always take a photo yourself! For this tutorial, I found an image on Pixabay, which has a lot of free stock photos you can use. I used this gold texture, which is free for commercial use with no attribution required.
This is where you’ll actually need to fire up GIMP! If you’ve never used it before, it can seem a little intimidating. I personally don’t care for the interface, and if you’ve never used a graphics program it might be a bit overwhelming at first. Don’t be afraid to play around! You can figure out how to do a lot just by trial and error. To put the gold texture onto your text, you’ll need to make it into a pattern. First, open the photo of your gold foil/whichever texture you’ve chosen. Then go to Select > All. Then Edit > Copy. Then, all you need to do is go to Edit > Paste as… > New Pattern. Name your pattern something descriptive like “gold” and then save! You’re done! It’s really that easy. And you can do this for pretty much any image.
*NOTE: for big projects, you want a repeating pattern. This method I’ve shown here is good for small projects where it doesn’t matter if the edges line up or not. If you’re going to be filling a large canvas with a pattern, you want it to be seamless.
Write Your Word!
Now, decide what you’d like to make gold! For this tutorial, I did the word “hello.” And as you can see in the post banner, I did “easy” as well! So in GIMP, start a new project by going to File > New. You can make the canvas whatever size you want. 800×600 is a nice, large workspace. IMPORTANT: click on Advanced Options and use the dropdown menu to set Fill With: Transparency. It’s very, very important to have a transparent background.
Select the Text Tool (large black “A”) and choose the font you want. Just like different textures, there are a ton of really beautiful fonts available online. Again, make sure that whichever you choose, you have permission to use it! Many fonts are available for personal use, but not all are free for commercial use, so just double check. If you’d like a tutorial on how to install and use new fonts, leave a comment and I’ll try to make one! For this, however, I used one of the pre-installed fonts called “Amarillo.”
Once you’ve got your font selected, click anywhere on your canvas, and then type the word you’d like to make gold. I used the word “hello.” If you’re using a big canvas – like 800×600 like I did – you may want to increase the size, as well. I set mine to 160.
Go to Select > By color and click anywhere on your word. That will select only the word. Go to the patterns dialog (also Shift+Ctrl+P) and select the pattern you just made. Then go to Edit > Fill with Pattern. And now your text is gold!
Save and Use!
Click Select > None to de-select your text. Now you can save it! I recommend cropping your canvas so that you don’t have all that empty space. Click the Crop Tool, which looks like a little x-acto knife or scalpel, then draw a box around your word. Hit “Enter.”
To save, go to File > Export As. Name the file whatever you’d like, but make sure that the file extension is .png. Save as a PNG! This keeps the transparent background. You want it to be transparent so that when you insert your new pretty word into a project, it’s only the word and not a white background.
And there you go! Ready to use! Just insert the picture file into whatever project you’re working on. You can use this same technique with pretty much any pattern, as well.
If you have any questions or if something was unclear, leave a comment and I’ll try to clarify for you! I’m not an expert by any means, I just know how to do a few little things like this, and for other creative parent-types out there, I thought it might to fun to share! And if you make something, feel free to share a pic or a link so I can check it out!