Using bulk chain to make a necklace. A tutorial on how I made a cancer mom necklace

This weekend is Paula's Pillowcase Project weekend.
One Saturday a year for the past six years, I have joined Paula in sewing pillowcases for kids at Seattle Children's hospital that have been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing treatment.

Last year I had a sew along so that you could join me in helping provide a soft homemade pillowcase for kids that are spending their days and nights away from home laying on oftentimes scratchy hospital pillows with their cute bald heads.
If you are interested in sewing along, it isn't too late!
Check this post for up to date information.

This year, Paula asked if I would be willing to craft something 
for the moms of kids with cancer that come during the event.

Something that they could wear {that wasn't overly obnoxious}
but that would distinguish them as a mom of a kid with cancer.

There are usually about a dozen moms that come to volunteer their time making pillowcases for other kids, usually because they were touched by the pillowcase their child received when they were first admitted.
Sewing along side kids with cancer or working with kids in remission and talking with moms whose kids are in the fight for their lives is one of my favorite parts of the event. 

 So of course, I didn't hesitate to jump on board and help.
I immediately thought necklace.
Like a pink ribbon is the color for breast cancer, gold is the color for childhood cancer.
I wanted something the moms could wear again and also something I could easily make multiples of.
This is what I came up with.

I am not a jewelry maker.
In fact, walking down the jewelry aisle at the craft store makes me a little nervous.
It seems foreign to me.
I didn't know what jump rings were or how you can cut chain to make a necklace,
but I took a little crash course and now I want to share with you what I learned.

While I made a childhood cancer necklace, the same rules apply to any necklace you would want to make with a charm pendant or two.

You will need:
charms {I used these gold ribbons}
jump rings and clasps {I got mine in a package together}
 bulk chain {I used 72"}
jewelry making tools {round nose, flat nose and cutting pliers are a must!}

 I honestly had no idea you could make your own necklace using chain.
I spent far longer than I would like to admit wandering up and down the jewelry aisle at not one but three different craft stores looking for pre-made necklace chains.

Come to find out, you can make it.
Who knew?
If you knew, please don't laugh at me or I will punch you in the face.

You can use this image as a guide for cutting the perfect length.

I cut my chain with my cutting pliers to 18".

Next, I used a jump ring to add a loop on to my bead charms.
My gold ribbon charms already had a jump ring.

You simply use your flat nose pliers to open up your jump ring, then hold it in place.
Slip your charm through the opening in your jump ring and
use your round nose pliers to help close your jump ring.

Before you put your clasps on, slip your charms on your chain.
It's easier and will save you time, trust me!

On one end of your chain put your jump ring using the same method that you did for your charm.

On the other end of your chain you will open up the small circle jump ring that is attached to your clasp and slide the end of your chain on.
Use your round pliers to close up your jump ring.

There you have it, a homemade necklace chain!
Notice how I didn't put my charms on it yet.
Yep, this is where I learned that it was easier to do that first before putting my clasp ends on.

Here is the finished necklace.
I really like how it turned out and think that the moms will like it too!

I'm thinking next time I walk down the jewelry making aisle I will be a little less nervous.
I hope you will be too!

The Olympics are over. Now what? Ways to encourage teamwork and help inspire the whole family!

I spent a lot of hours with my kids watching the winter Olympics this year.
My oldest son loved watching snowboarding, my younger son loved watching the freestyle skiing and my daughter was a big fan of the Olympics ice dancing.
It was amazing to watch the athletes be able to compete at such a high level after years and years of training and practice. As a sports mom, I can only imagine the pride that those parents must have watching their children perform at the Olympic level. It's so many children's dreams!
There were lots of lessons to be learned from the Olympics this year.
Were you as touched as I was by the Canadian ski coach jumping in to provide a new ski for the Russian cross country skier so that he could finish the race after one of his skis broke?  This act of kindness allowed the athlete the opportunity to finish the race with dignity.
Or what about the Canadian skier who dedicated his win to his brother with cerebral palsy?
The embrace after his win was a hug heard 'round the world.
(USA TODAY Sports Images)
The thing I love about the Olympics is that while there are lots of individuals, each with their own strengths and ambitions, they all come together as a team.
In our house, we are a family of five.
We have to work together as a team to accomplish even some of the smallest tasks.
I should hope that as my children launch into this world that they have learned the skills to be team players in life.
Having conversations about inspiration and teamwork don't have to stop happening just because the Olympics are over though.

My friends at Netflix have put together 15 movies and TV shows that your family can stream that will keep the Olympic spirit alive!

For your big kids:

1. The Short Game
2. The Kid
3. The Pistol
4. A Mile in His Shoes
5. Winning Favor
6. The Mighty Macs
7. Like Mike 2: Streetball
8. Air Bud: World Pup
9. Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch
10. Air Bud Spikes Back 

For the little guys:

I'm a big fan of documentary's.
I'm anxious to stream the Netflix exclusive The Fabulous Ice Age
the never before told history of figure skating.
The Fabulous Ice Age
If you are having Olympic withdraws like our family is,
these are a few options to help your family come together and inspire your children to be their best.
ps-this is a sponsored post written by me as part of the Netflix stream team.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Best lunch ever! Tabouleh wheat grass salad recipe

My dear friend and old neighbor introduced this Taboule wheat salad to me a few years ago,
and lately, I haven't been able to get enough!

I make it once a week for lunch
{each box provides three days worth of meals for me}
and wanted to share one of my favorite recipes with you.
It's a great healthy meal and it's quick to throw together.

{Just so you know I'm not crazy, there are a few ways that Near East spells this product}

These are the things you will need:
Near East Tabouleh wheat salad mix
crumbled feta {about 1/4 cup}
cucumber {you will use half}
green olives 

Follow the directions on the package for your wheat salad.
You simply add boiling water, stir, cover and refrigerate for a half an hour.
No cooking required.

 Chop your cucumber and tomato and add them to your chilled wheat salad

sprinkle your feta cheese on top and add as many olives as you would like.
I love green olives so I add a lot!
You can add a few tablespoons of olive oil, but instead, I like to add a few tablespoons of olive juice.
Cut your lemon in half and squeeze the juice over your salad.

Mix all of that goodness together and enjoy!
You can serve your tabouleh salad on top of a bed of romaine if you would like.

I think you will love it as much as I do!

Saving money on contact lenses-shop around and save hundreds of dollars! Not a sponsored post!

This is not a sponsored post.

I wanted to start out by saying that this is not a sponsored post.
I just want to help you save money and I want to share my experience.
I've been a contact lens wearer for over 20 years.
I love wearing contacts and couldn't imagine a return to wearing glasses exclusively.
My 15 year old son has crappy eyes and now wears contacts too.
Our insurance covers corrective eye wear {glasses or contacts} 
up to $200 for each member that needs them, every two years.
I'm not complaining, but once you start pricing out corrective lenses {contacts or glasses} you will know that that $200 doesn't go very far.
Which is why I have shopped around.
My son had an eye exam last week and while I love his optometrist, 
they are located inside a sales trap.
You know, a glasses shop filled with overpriced eye glasses and sun glasses just waiting for you with new prescription in hand to not feel like you have any other option than to buy from them.
The optometrist handed the optician the new prescription for my son, and walked to the front receptionist to ask what our benefits on insurance were.  I heard the receptionist tell her that we had a $200 benefit and the optician turned to me and said that I was in luck!  A years supply for my son's lenses would only be $199!  
Now I'm not saying that the optician somehow manipulated the contact lens price to nearly the exact same amount of our benefits.  That seems like that would be illegal or something.
I'm just saying that while these very sweet and kind opticians want to do nothing but help you find the right lens {this goes for glasses too}, I'm telling you that
it's totally o.k. to shop around.

While my son's prescription changed in strength, he can still wear the same brand of contacts that he had been wearing.  If I didn't know better, I would have been so thankful to the optician for telling me that my son's year supply of contacts would cost me exactly what my benefits would cover
  {mind you the benefits renew every two years, so if I used them all up this year, they won't cover anything next year}.

But hark, I had done my homework!
Last year I was able to do a quick and easy Google shopping search for the brand of contacts that my son was wearing and was comfortable in.
I do the same thing for my lenses.
I found a year supply of his contact lenses for $93 
{$98 with shipping}.

Knowing this information allowed me to say thanks but no thanks
 to the helpful optician and with a few keystrokes, 
I was able to order new contacts for my son at more than half price!

I'm not going to tell you to shop one on-line contact lens store over another. 
Quite honestly, I don't remain loyal myself.
I go to where the best price is.
Sometimes it's the same place year after year 
{keep your eyes peeled for discount loyalty codes, you could save more when it's time to reorder}
oftentimes, it's a different place every year.
Here is how you do it.
Go to your Google search and type in the brand of lenses that you wear.
Click on the tab that says shopping to compare prices
You can then click on each item to find out more about the price.
For example, this lens has free shipping and no tax and when comparing, a relatively cheap price in comparison.
This one is a dollar cheaper but look closely...
Shipping is $11.50!
Once you compare prices and find the best price on a few items 
{keeping in mind shipping and tax}
you can then click through to the website.
Often times sites will offer discounts if you buy multiple boxes.
I was purchasing a years supply, so I needed 4 boxes.
On one site, the more boxes you buy, the more discount you receive.
There are also rebates for certain lenses.
Last year, I purchased a year supply of my lenses and got a $50 rebate.
Keep those discounts and rebates in mind when you are calculating your totals.
Once you find the company you want to order from,
input your information.
It's easiest if you have a box of your old lenses handy.
You will need things like your BC and DIA as well as the power.
The BC and DIA rarely change but your power is likely to change and will be noted on your new RX.
I submitted my order and printed my invoice.
Easy as that!
If you have benefits that you would like to use, follow these directions:

Go to your insurance website and print off the medical reimbursement form.
It took me less than 3 minutes to find it and fill it out.
You will send a copy of your invoice and your reimbursement form to the insurance company and within a few weeks, you will receive a check in the amount of the total that you paid.
It really is that easy to save hundreds on your contact lenses every year!
A few things to remember:
Eye health is important. You only get two eyeballs.  Take care of them!
Get an updated prescription with your eye exam.
And the biggest tip to remember:
 don't be afraid to shop around.
Did this help you?

Embossed wood grain journal

All this week I have been talking about a new product from Plaid and Mod Podge Rocks.
I am in love with the new Mod Podge Rocks peel and stick stencils.

On Wednesday I showed you my winter wood grain canvases,
today I am sharing with you an embossed wood grain journal.

This project is perfect for the glitter averse!
If you have never used embossing powder, I will walk you through the steps.

I started with two plain journals that I picked up at my favorite local craft store for $1 each.

I gathered my mod podge and my embossing powder and was ready to work!

Start by taking your stencil and applying it to your surface.
Use a pouncer to apply your mod podge.

Once you have applied your mod podge, remove your stencil.
Look at those clean lines!

Because I wanted the whole front of the journal to have the wood grain, I reapplied my stencil.

I sprinkled my red embossing powder on to the wet mod podge and shook off the excess.

Embossing powder is like magic!
When you heat it with an embossing tool the powder melts and seals in your design.
It's not glittery, doesn't flake off or leave a mess.

Because I was busy photographing and not working, my mod podge dried and left an open spot on the front of one of my journals.
I put mod podge in a heart shape and fixed it with glitter.
Anything can be fixed with glitter!

It's the perfect journal for my tween daughter!

 I love that embossing powder works with mod podge.
I had no idea if it would work and I love the end result.

To get more information on how to use the Mod Podge Rocks peel and stick stencils, visit this link.
I really think you guys are going to love these stencils. 
There are so many possibilities to amp up your next project.

Winter wood grain canvas Using Mod Podge Stencil

Winter wood grain canvas Using Mod Podge Stencil 

On Monday I shared with you the coolest new mod podge product.
Peel and stick mod podge stencils are amazing and I am over the moon in love with the wood grain stencil.

I created these winter wood grain canvases and am excited to show you how to make your own!

Last summer, I picked up these sort of crazy looking clown canvases for a quarter a piece.
Clowns are kind of known for being a little creepy, so I knew I was going to paint over the image and re purpose them.

It took two coats of white paint, but now there are no more clowns and the canvases only cost me fifty cents!

I did two different techniques to make my canvases.
The first was creating wood grain glitter paper.
You will need card stock, mod podge, your stencil, glitter and a pouncer to apply the glue.

Peel your stencil off of the backing and apply it to your paper.
Use your pouncer to apply the mod podge to your stencil.

Peel up your stencil and move it to the next spot.
Pounce more mod podge and continue until you paper is covered.

Sprinkle your glitter on the wet mod podge and shake off the excess.
Now set you paper aside and let it dry.

While you are waiting for your paper to dry, you can move on to the stencil application that will go directly on to your wooden canvas.
The clowns are gone, the paint is dry and I am left with a blank slate!

Use your stencil and pouncer to apply mod podge to your canvas.
I wanted to create a tree trunk so I used the stencil side by side to create my trunk.

Apply your glitter and shake off the excess.
Now set that aside and let it dry.

By now, your glitter paper is probably dry.
I found a buck silhouette image through Google images and printed it off.
I taped my buck to the back of the glitter paper and cut it out.
I applied mod podge to the back of my cut out silhouette image and glued it to my wood canvas.

My new master bedroom closet has some pretty awesome places for mini vignettes.
I put my winter wood grain canvases in one of them.

I had envisioned a heart cut out with my husband and my initials in the tree trunk.
 I love all things woodland right now, especially bucks.

I really think these canvases are a huge improvement from their 70's clown start.

Stay tuned for Friday for another mod podge peel and stick wood grain project.
It's pretty awesome.
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