Thursday, November 29, 2012

DIY Button Magnets

I was shopping for magnets to use as a teaching aid.  They were rather plain, so I decided to give them some button bling!  This simple craft can be completed in about 10 minutes.  I love buttons and magnets.  I am addicted to these little Button Magnets.  My students really like them too.

Supplies Needed

The supplies are available at Walmart as an in-store item.  They are not available through Walmart's website.  The craft buttons package contains assorted sizes and colors.  The magnets have peel and stick adhesive on one side.  Choose the button sizes and colors that you like best on the magnets, then peel off the paper and stick the button onto the adhesive side of the magnet.  Voila, you are done!

Button Magnets are handy for the classroom, the fridge, or anywhere you need them really.  These are just as cute as a button!

Since I can't keep my teaching supplies in the classroom, I use an empty pill bottle for magnet storage.  This bottle holds about two dozen Button Magnets.

This post is shared at:

Chic on a Shoestring Flaunt It Friday #129  

All Things With Purpose: Thursday Link Party #7 

Memories by the Mile: Tuesday Trivia PENNSYLVANIA and Link Party

Click over and see the wonderful things shared there. Have fun making your button magnets.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Gift of the Magi - free eBook and mp3 audio book

A timeless story of love, the most precious gift, is one of my very favorite Christmas classics.  Whenever I think of Christmas presents, it is good to remind myself of what matters most.  





ONE dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas. 

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. 

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad. 

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.” 

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good. 

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling—something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim. 

There was a pier glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. 

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. 

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy. 

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. 

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street. 

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”
Down rippled the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation—as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain. 

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. “If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do—oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?” 

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops. Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying a little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.” 

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. 

Della wriggled off the table and went for him. “Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again—you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.” 

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor. “Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?” Jim looked about the room curiously. 

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy. “You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. 

Eight dollars a week or a million a year—what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on. 

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.” 

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. 

For there lay The Combs—the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims—just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. 

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”
And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit. 

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.” Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. 

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.” 

The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi. 

The Gift of the Magi free mp3 audio recording via Mama Lisa's World

The Gift of the Magi Song by Squirrel Nut Zippers via Spotify

The Gift of the Magi free eBook via The Project Gutenberg

Thursday, November 15, 2012 - Donate a Bike to a Child and Change the World

Have a lot to be thankful for this year?  Perhaps you're wealthy in dollars and blessings, or wealthy in dollars but poor in blessings.  Maybe you're not so wealthy in dollars, but you are richly blessed in other ways.  There are lots of places where you can get involved and make a difference.  Charities are great, but most of them are not equipped to connect you directly to the people you're helping so that you can personally see the impact of your gift.  What if you could directly help a child, and the child that you help could see a photo of you... and he or she understands that you were the person who cared enough to help?  What if you got to see a photo of them with the gift?  Read on, and learn about something that will just melt your heart.

Connecting recipients with donors -

I'd like to introduce you to a different kind of charity: . Check out their website and get to know them a little better.  You'll see what I mean when I say 'different.'  I personally worked in the non-profit world for 8 years, and have served in various positions in my church and community groups for over 20 years.  I know a little bit about charities and how things work, so I feel qualified to tell you that this group is unique.  In fact, I've never seen anything quite like .  Everyone like to learn things in different ways, so I'll give you three options here:  audio, video, and print media.  Since I first discovered them for myself on the radio, let's start out with a podcast from that particular episode of the NPR program Travel with Rick Steves.  Next, for those who prefer print media,  they were the 2009 Thanksgiving feature on Inhabitots.  Finally, for those of you who'd rather watch the video, check out this  March 2010 story from CBS Evening News Weekend Journal:


Got a lot to be thankful for this year?  Here is simple, incredible way to share your blessings - donate to and they will provide a child who truly needs it with a new bike.  This is one of their new 2012 bike projects for kids: PROJECT ASHA

This text is from Project Asha website

“ The bicycle helps me feel equal to men,”said several girls living at a remote ashram in Bihar, India. These girls are survivors of sexual slavery. They are sheltered by our partner NGO Free the Slaves for several months before reintegrating back into their communities. One girl, “Asha”, was sold into slavery by a neighbor in her village, escaped after a week, then found her way to the Bihar Ashram to recover. After six months in the ashram she reintegrated back into the same community from which she was sold, a striking example of courage and resiliency.

In 2010, 88bikes volunteers endowed bicycles to every girl at the ashram, including Asha (her name has been changed to honor her privacy) and led each in painting the most beautiful mural. Bright and optimistic, the mural reflects the girls’ resilience, courage and indomitable spirit. Asha means “hope” in Sanskrit.
The 88bikes community was deeply touched by the gratitude and courage of these heroic souls in India and other survivors in Nepal and Ghana. And we recognize recent studies (as well as common sense) that investing resources in girls helps build equality in diverse communities.

And so 88bikes launches its sixth and most ambitious project: 88bikes Asha, which will endow thousands of bicycles to girls, especially those having endured and transcended slavery and abuse, in regions from Eastern Europe to Southeast Asia. We honor their heroism and hope that, like the girls at the Bihar Ashram, the bikes will be catalysts for healing, health and, of course, happiness.

88 Bikes Asha 2012
Photo from Project Asha

What will you spend 88 dollars on this year?  A full tank of gas?  Dinner for 4?  A new pair of shoes?   Stocking stuffers? How about a gift that has real impact and meaning for a child?  Donate 88 dollars to this worthy cause.  It's the right thing to do, and chances are the kid you help will remember you for the rest of their life as someone who really made a difference for them.   Give a little and get so much more in return!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY Tinkerbell Tee Shirt Dress

Guess who TINKERBELL's favorite storybook character is? The name gives it away, TINKERBELL! Looking at these Tee Shirt Dress and Onesie Dress tutorials on Pinterest inspired me to make her a new Tinkerbell theme dress.  Actually, the inspiration came from the tutorials plus the Tinkerbell movies that we watched together, over and over again.

The fabrics, trim, and tee shirt came from Hobby Lobby. I used purple cotton Tinkerbell print for the skirt and trimmed it with the plush purple minky dot fabric and ribbon.

Her Mommy says that TINKERBELL really loves her new dress.  I talked to her on the phone about it and told her that she looked pretty.  She knows that she looks pretty, and she told me so!  

This post is shared at Chic on a Shoestring Flaunt It Friday #127.  You are invited to browse through the lovely posts shared there.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Button Bracelet Tutorial - Sweet and Simple Gifts

These single strand crochet button bracelets were gifts made for our Primary students.  They are simple and versatile, and can be worn as a bracelet or used as a bookmark.

It took about an hour to make ten bracelets.  The total cost was pennies per bracelet.  The students get a reward each week if they complete their reading assignment or talk about a part of the lesson with their family.  Most of the time the treats are edible.   Fast Sunday requires a little more imagination.  The kids seemed to enjoy receiving them.

I liked them so much that I even wore one myself.  Then I decided they were too youthful looking for my taste, so I made something that I could wear myself or use as a bookmark.

The process is the same as the single strand chain stitch bracelets, but three strands of are used in one bracelet and braided together.


Large craft button
Large Eye Needle
Crochet hook (optional)


1. Loosely chain stitch yarn to a length long enough to wrap around the wrist.  Leave a long tail of yarn at each end of the chain and tie off the end.  I am not that skilled with a crochet hook, so I did the chain by hand. 

2. For single strand bracelet, go to step 5.  For triple strand bracelet, repeat step 1 instructions two more times.

3. Tie three strands together where the chain meets the tail on one end and loosely braid together.

4. Braid entire length and tie at the bottom end just like the top.

5. Thread longest tail of yarn through needle.  Insert needle into button eye from back to front and then front to back again.  Remove yarn from needle.  Tie a double knot in the tail on the back side of the button, snugging the knot up next to the button to secure it.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial.  If you make one for yourself or as a gift, please let me know.  I'd love to hear about it. 

Sharing is fun.  The Button Bookmark Bracelet Tutorial is shared at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Messenger Bag Tutorials - DIY Messenger Bag Collection

 Messenger Bags:  I love them, but can never seem to find the right one in the right color and material in the right price range.  Messenger Bags are wonderful accessories.  Their demographic spectrum spans the full range from seniors to young adults to the kiddos.  I'm sharing my personal favorites in this collection. 

The Weekend Designer is incredible.  This is a blogger that knows fashion and shares his knowledge with those of us fortunate enough to find his site.

Ecolution Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Push The Envelope - Messenger Bag by Weekend Designer

 Zaaberry posts some really cute bags.  Try this one if you're looking for a special bag to make for your special child.

Kids Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest


Kids Messenger Bag by Zaaberry

I fell in love with the braided belt strap when I first saw this Messenger Bag on Pinterest.

Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Braided Belt Messenger Bag by Cold Hands Warm Heart

I had to share this Messenger Bag, Lunch Bag, and Backpack collection of bags by Me Sew Crazy.  As I said in the Kids Backpack Tutorials - Adorable DIY Backpack Collection post, she is one of my favorite bloggers and designers.

Circle Backpack, Messenger Bag, and Lunch Bag Tutorials on Pinterest

Circle Bags: Backpack, Messenger Bag, and Lunch Bag by Me Sew Crazy

What could be easier than a Messenger Bag made from a pillowcase?  I think this would be a great bag for a beginning seamstress.

Pillowcase Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Pillowcover To Messenger Bag by living with punks

Make it and love it hit a home run with this convertible Messenger Bag.  The perfect blend of fashion and function for moms with little ones.

 New Green Mama posted an excellent tutorial with lots of details and photos.  She makes this bag look easy.  I love the fact that it is reversible.

Reversible Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest


DSC_4452-edited 2


Reversible Messenger Bag by New Green Mama

Stash Books has a wonderful Messenger Bag designed especially for traveling with kids.  They offer a great tutorial, free pattern, and different versions of the bag to fit different ages and sizes of kids.

Travel Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Travel  Messenger Bag by Stash Books

 A very detailed tutorial with step by step photos is given for this Messenger Bag by BLUEBIRDBABY.  Using a solid color with an accent trim, you could make several in different colors to match different outfits.

Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

New messenger bag tutorial!!

Messenger Bag by BLUEBIRDBABY

The Basic Messenger Bag by mmmcrafts is simple and straightforward.  She doesn't give the tutorial for the design on the flap.  However, if you're not a beginning seamstress, I bet you could come up with several ideas based on looking at these designs.

Basic Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Basic Messenger Bag by mmmcrafts

Did somebody say Decoupage?  Decoupage on a Messenger Bag?  I'm in!!  I love this one by Honestly..., and it is a NO - SEW version!

Decoupage Floral Bag Tutorial on Pinterest

Decoupage Floral Bag by Honestly...

I had to include one more Messenger Bag for the mommies and the babies.  This Messenger Bag is designed to be a diaper bag!

 Messenger Diaper Bag Tutorial on Pinterest


Messenger Diaper Bag by Gluesticks 

I pinned this upcycle Messenger Bag on Pinterest long ago.  It is made from a pair of cargo pants!

Messenger Bag Tutorial on Pinterest


Messenger Bag From Cargo Pants by Wonderwoman Creations

I hope you enjoy this collection. I truly admire the creative genius behind these designs.  Please let me know if you decide to make one!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mess Kit Tutorial - Dollar Store DIY

Ever thought about making a simple Mess Kit to use for camping?  I made this one for YW Camp.  I learned to make them years ago as a teenager.  They work great.  I wanted to share a quick tutorial so you could make one, too.  FYI this is a great project for a beginning seamstress.  It is very simple.

DIY Mess Kit

All the materials for constructing and filling the Mess Kit are available at Dollar Tree.  


  • Plastic Mug with snap-on lid
  • Two Dish Towels
  • Pie Plate
  • Fork, Knife, and Spoon
  • Shoestring
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine and thread (for machine sewing) or Needle and Thread (for hand sewing) 

Mess Kit contents


1. Cut one dishtowel in half so that you have two squares instead of one rectangle.  Stitch across cut edges to prevent them from unraveling.

2. Fold over, wrong sides together, one and one fourth inch across the long edge of the other dishtowel and stitch to create a one inch casing for your drawstring.

3. Fold dishtowel in half, right sides together, matching seam casings, and stitch around two sides, leaving casing side open.  Do not stitch through the casing.

4. Turn dishtowel right side out.

5. Pin a safety pin to the end of your shoestring.  Insert the safety pin into the casing.  Pull the safety pin and shoestring through the casing until you have shoestring extending from both sides.

6. Remove safety pin.

7. Even out the shoestring so there is an equal amount extending from each side.  Stitch the shoestring to the casing near the center of the shoestring.

8. Tie one or two knots near the end of the shoestring.  This will make it easy to hang up on a tree or a hook.  

Mess Kit contents

Usage Instructions

Use one of the matching two square dishtowels as a napkin.  The other can be used as a placemat.  After using the Mess Kit, wash the dishes using one of them as a dishrag to help clean your dishes.  Then place the dishes and the dry dishrag inside the mess kit and hang from a tree or post to dry.  Hang wet dishrag separately and return to Mess Kit when dry.

Pie plate, mug, utensils, napkin and placemat/dishrag easily fit in bag.

I already had the sewing machine, scissors, and shoestring.  The other supplies cost about five dollars at Dollar Tree.

Mess Kit with all contents inside.

Everything fits neatly inside.  It is just a little difficult to make photos when you have a big puppy dog that wants some attention.  Bruno is the alpha male amongst our dogs.  He is not easily dissuaded.

Bruno just wanted to play.

I hope you have fun making your own Mess Kit.  Please let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial.

This tutorial is shared at:

Cutesy Crafts: An Oldie but a Goodie #13 

Diana Rambles Pin Me Linky Party #25 

Gunny Sack Link Party #60 

Craft-O-Maniac Monday 

Skip to my Lou Made by You Monday 

Sew Can Do Craftastic Monday Link Party 

You are invited to visit the link parties and see all the wonderful posts.