Easy DIY Felt Board with a Free Template

Liv loves letters and numbers, but especially letters! She frequently points to a word and says, “what’s this?”, so I thought it was time to give her something to play with and encourage a love she already has. I’m all about creating a learning lifestyle and this felt board has definitely been tried, tested and passed the test with flying colors. Liv is a new 2, so it could very easily keep a younger child busy (especially the shapes) or be used for preschoolers or even kindergarteners who are learning to read and spell simple words. Recently Liv learned how to spell “fox” – “F-O-X!” It was a personal victory for me, but mostly because of my love for You’ve Got Mail. Goodness, I love me some Tom Hanks & Meg Ryan. Perfect chemistry! Yuck, chemistry. There’s no chemistry involved in this felt board!

The Modern Locket // Easy DIY Felt Board with a Free Template // Great for moms, preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers!

The Modern Locket // Easy DIY Felt Board with a Free Template // Great for moms, preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers!

The felt board is pretty cheap to make and super easy! If you can trace & cut, then you can make it. And, bonus!, this felt board is a crowd pleaser! Kids seem to flock to it and stay entertained for quite a while! I didn’t make this with the intention of putting it up on the blog, but it has been so great that I wanted to share! I think it would be great for moms, preschool/kindergarten teachers and homeschoolers alike!

What you’ll need:
1 standard foam core poster board (I got mine at Target)
1 yard of felt for the background
12 9×12 craft felt sheets for the letters
5 9×12 craft felt sheets for the numbers
a few extra felt sheets or scraps in various colors for the shapes
spray adhesive
water soluble fabric marking pen
Optional: Command Damage-Free Hanging Strips
This FREE TEMPLATE for your letters, numbers, and basic shapes.

Directions for the Board:
Step 1 – Lay your yard of background felt on the floor with your foam core board on top of it. Cut the felt around the board giving it about 2 inches extra so you can fold it over the back of the board easily.
Step 2 – In a well-ventilated area, give your board a good spray with the adhesive, then gently and evenly lay the board adhesive side down on your felt. Carefully turn it over press to remove wrinkles and ensure a good stick. I gave mine a little time to dry before I folded the edges over the back, but you certainly don’t have to.
Step 3 – Cut some slits in the 4 corners of your felt and give a good spray of adhesive along the short sides and fold in your edges – give it a good press! I found that waiting just a minute after I sprayed to fold in my sides allowed the adhesive to get a little tackier and hold the felt down better. Next, do the same to the top and bottom sides. Let it rest in a safe-from-kids area to fully adhere. Hip! Hip! You have created your felt board!!

The Modern Locket // Easy DIY Felt Board with a Free Template // Great for moms, preschool teachers and kindergarten teachers!

Directions for the Template:
Step 1 – Print and cut out every letter, number and shape. I spaced all this work out for a week during nap time. Mama’s got to watch her stories & craft it up sometimes! (Plus, it’s for the education of our children…no guilt there!)
Step 2 – Using your fabric marking pen, trace your letters, numbers and shapes on the felt colors you’ve chosen for each. I found that with the letters and numbers, you can fit 2 of each on each sheet of felt. I actually used felt scraps for my shapes and used a different color for each in order to reinforce color recognition.
Step 3 – Cut those suckers out!! If you’re a perfectionist, but also not so much of a perfectionist that you cut perfectly inside the lines, then you can use a damp cloth to blot away the lines that may still remain from tracing.

Optional Hanging:
I used the Command Strips on the back corners of my board to hang it at toddler height in Liv’s room, but, the great thing about the picture hanging strips is that I can remove it from the wall and set it in a family area so she can feel like she’s part of the crew.

You’re done! Now, get to experiencing the wonder and magic of felt sticking to felt!

A couple side-notes…The template only has upper case letters. So far, I haven’t had the time to put that junk together. When I do, I’ll update it and make a note here. I’m also working on a weather kit that will allow us to explore the weather of the day and add it to the board. Think: sun, clouds, little swirly things that indicate wind, angry storm clouds, rain drops, etc. I’ll probably created a supplementary post for that and link to it here when I get around to it.

I plan on getting a few pre-made sets of felt characters to encourage imagination play and story-telling. Amazon has lots!

Any questions? Great! Ask away…

Mile Markers: Remembering God’s Hand During the Tough Times

in the midst of all the Crazy (something I’m exploring in this series) that has invaded our family’s life over the past few months (and years), I found myself reminiscing about the many ways I fell in love with Dave. there are lots of love stories being written in other people’s lives every day, but ours is my favorite. I kept thinking about what happens when two people decide that the person standing beside them is the one they want to wade through all the crap with for the rest of their lives. it’s magical.

mile markers in the dark: recognizing God's hand when you're in the midst of crap // the modern locket

today is the anniversary of the day Dave proposed. it was the coldest, COLDEST night, nearly midnight, and Dave decided we should go walk around the harbor. I argued reason. ‘it’s freezing. it will be so windy. WHY?! it’s SO COOOOOOLD. why do you not recognize this?’ but, because I loved him, I decided I would indulge his idealistic nature (one I recognize in myself) and take a walk in the biting, freezing wind ‘because there will be Christmas decorations and it’s cold like it should be.’

as I told him that I’d go because I love him, my mind turned to the first time we said those three words to one another. the exchange went like this:

me: I heart you.

Dave: (with a twinkle in his eye) don’t say that. say what you really mean.

me: (now even more in heart with him) I love you.

Dave: I love you, too. (first ‘I love you’ kiss – you know the kind. *winky face*)

we made it to the harbor, but not without a last ditch effort on my part to illustrate just how cold it was going to be, and got out of the car in a completely deserted parking lot. I used this to my advantage, explaining how smart those people were to stay home for fear of frostbite. we walked to the giant fountain that feeds into the lake. it was frozen. the streams of water down the tiers of pools were now perfectly delicate icicles. I remarked on how beautiful it was, but immediately used the illustration to draw a parallel to how freaking cold it was.

the only two people there, we walked along the harbor admiring the twinkly lights and Christmas decor. we happened by the bench where we shared our first kiss and Dave reminisced aloud his thoughts leading up to it and then after when he couldn’t believe I let him kiss me. Dave wanted to sit. I said, ‘that bench is metal. I bet it’s freezing cold.’ but I recognized the romantic gravity and sat. we chatted & shared a kiss of remembrance even though I couldn’t feel my face. as we walked the length to the lighthouse he continued to remark on how special this place was to us. it was the location of many chatty strolls, our go-to date spot & our first kiss.

then it hit me.

this is it.

he’s going to ask me to marry him! he’s been so romantic, despite my suspicion that I had snot frozen to my face. but what you can’t feel, you don’t sweat. am I right? (please say yes)

it sank in further – I was actively trying to sabotage a beautiful story all because of the fear of being cold and then the displeasure of actually being cold. if I’d known what was coming, would I have acted this way? most definitely not!

taken a year after we were married in front of the lighthouse where Dave proposed.

taken a year after we were married in front of the lighthouse where Dave proposed.

we made it to the lighthouse and he proposed. he was so excited that there wasn’t a speech. it was direct. exactly what he meant and exactly what I needed to hear. exactly who Dave is down to the core. after I said ‘yes. dammit! yes!’ he shivered and said, ‘I’m freezing! let’s go!’

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen.
He named it Ebenezer (which means ‘the stone of help’),
saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
1 Samuel 7:12

remembering the mile markers in our relationship I’m reminded, not just of a lovely event in our romantic history, but of a beautiful truth that pushes on my soul every day. Jesus walks with us through the cold, through the dark, through the uncertain. he gives us exactly what we need, not flowers to make us feel better about ourselves, but truly what we need because what we need is him. all of him. in the dark, when we are shivering and complaining because we can’t see the reasoning behind the journey, he guides us & understands that we are limited. reminding us along the path all the ways in which he has provided for us with ebenezer stones planted purposefully along the way to remind us that he has helped us this far.

during advent and the joy we share in remembering the birth of our savior, I remember that God knows our life can be dark, freezing cold and lonely sometimes. the difference is, he knows the story and where it’s headed: glorification. a beautiful realization of the whole redemption story that our limited selves have only experienced in bits and pieces. I lean wholeheartedly on that in this season of the unknown. He has helped me. not for my sake, but for His, and that benefits me eternally greater than anything I could dream up on my own.

doesn’t it bring peace to know that, even during the crap, we are *not* what it’s all about? what “stones of remembrance” can you or have you recognized in your life recently? I’d love to hear about them!

PCOS: infertility, loss & hope (part 1)

when I started this blog I sat down and wrote out some rules to follow in order to respect the boundaries and privacy of my marriage, family, and friends to be sure that I never shared anything that violated trust that is so hard to build, yet incredibly easy to lose. I knew, however, that I wanted to share a certain part of my life that has been particularly hard. I also knew that I needed to share it because, when I was in the thick of it, I found so much encouragement and information on blogs written by incredibly honest women. plus, it seems as if the hard times are never over, not until we meet Jesus face-to-face anyway, so we might as well encourage one another because it’s never not needed. (sometimes double negatives are the only way to go)

the debate: do I start at the beginning or do I start with the last three months and backtrack?

I guess the beginning is a good place to start. I’ll break this story up into a few posts because, dang, it is fully involved. I’ll try to include all my resources, but because I didn’t know I would need them for sharing purposes I didn’t keep all of them for reference. the info just ended up in my head. I’ll do my best to find them though as I know they’re important!

Infertility, Loss & Hope (part 1) // The Modern Locket

part 1 – I hate birth control & it hates me just as much

about three months before Dave & I got married I started birth control pills. they were not kind to me. before taking them my cycle was super predictable, and though it wasn’t fun, it never failed me. I believe every woman’s body has its own natural hormonal balance, but some seem to be a little more flexible than others. as far as flexibility, mine seems to be about as pliable as a reinforced steel rod. it affected nearly everything about me and it was obvious that it pained Dave to see me this way. during the 8 months I was on birth control pills I suffered 8-10 migraines a month and found myself slipping further and further inside my own head. it was as if I could hear my own emotional responses to things in my head and was totally aware that they were nutso.  I was thinking in ways I never had before and I knew it. and I knew something had to change.

I went to my OBGYN who referred me to a neurologist. they determined that the migraines were estrogen induced and I should stop taking the pills. so I did! yippee! at last I could be normal! within a few days of stopping the birth control I felt completely normal. no more weird thoughts that felt like a tiny Scrooge was living in my head and no more migraines! I’d never had one before the birth control and was very glad that they didn’t stick around!

since birth control wasn’t a factor anymore we knew kids were now a very real possibility. after all, I was on the cusp of 30 (that’s when you’re supposed to talk about that stuff, right?), and while I’d married a younger man (whoop! whoop!) he was clearly a family man whose eyes sparkled at the thought of a baby of his own to cuddle, kiss, and watch Ohio State games with. at first I was a hard sell, but boy, oh, boy did the Lord awaken a desire in me to have a family that I had squashed for so long. when you’re single past the point where most of your friends are married you gotta do what you gotta do to work with what you’ve got. anything else makes you bitter. i pray for my single lady friends daily, and, Dave can tell you, I also vocally lament their struggles. you are on my mind, ladies.

but i digress.

as I write this I’m in a fair bit of pain, emotionally and physically, from the newest round of crazy that the doctor calls an “anomaly.” but at this early stage I had no idea how much I would need to sit at Jesus’ feet and be reminded of his sovereignty. the following year off birth control was mostly ignorant bliss. I knew it could take a while to get my cycle on track, though in order to get it on track I would have to have a period. it never happened. instead, I steadily gained weight for, what seemed like, no reason at all.

I went back to the OBGYN to hear what I already knew: it could take a while (the average is 1-4 months), but they did an ultrasound just in case and discovered I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I knew very little about it, but when I was shown the photos of my ovaries I knew instinctively they weren’t supposed to look like a swollen gremlin covered in bumpy spots. I’ll spare you the explanation of all that PCOS is, but if you like you can read the info here. from various tests we learned that I didn’t have some of the symptoms related to PCOS, but there was no denying the look of my ovaries and the main factors were there. there wasn’t a single piece of real estate on either one that wasn’t completely covered. my skin crawled when I saw it. it still does when I think about it. my heart sank as I wondered what this meant for the future of our family and there was a twinge of sorrow as I felt that I’d let Dave down. he’s an amazing man, though. more amazing than I ever, ever deserved. the Lord knew more about me than I did when he matched us together. he’s a rock and quickly dispelled any of the doubt in my mind. pray for the men who love women who are suffering the burden of infertility. they are on the front line and helpless to fix the problems of the one they love.

as always, I welcome all questions. if you’ve never experienced anything like this and know someone who has or is, or if you are in the thick of the weeds, no matter your “issue,” I hope you’ll stay with me and share a bit of your struggle. I learned a lot from the comment sections of the blogs I visited because it showed a greater slice of the population and I read things that benefited me either emotionally or physically.

a polka dot picnic {plus a mini gift bag tutorial!}

a few weeks ago we celebrated livi’s 1st birthday with a polka dot picnic themed birthday party at the park. it was a perfect fall day, and as our guests pointed out oh so many times, i was not wearing my polka dots as the invitation suggested everyone should. hostess fail. everything was so crazy that morning that i completely forgot to throw on my polka dot scarf!

See Spot Run - A Polka Dot Picnic 1st Birthday! // The Modern Locket

before we get to the party, here are some of livi’s favorite things at the moment and some stats. i swear our daughter isn’t a cat. i swear! she does really love yarn though…

1st bday livi statslivis favorites

like, a lot. she loves yarn A LOT. she wrastles it like it’s fightin’ back.

yarn 1yarn 2

back to the party. i made a felt banner to hang for a little extra festive-ness. i plan on doing a step-by-step tutorial, complete with a pattern, later on this month. i left out “birth” intentionally so that it’s perfect to use for many occasions – plus, it’s a really gross word. 😉 my favorite part of the party tablescape is the shadow box. i gave up my scrapbooking days long ago for the more streamlined photo book that can be customized and purchased online. i can’t turn my back on some technology based streamlining and efficiency, but i’m so glad i made this. it makes my heart happy to see it every day on a shelf in livi’s room and thought it would be the perfect addition to the table. maybe i’ll post something about how i made this shadowbox. it’s really easy, but there are definitely some things to use in order to make the process go a bit more smoothly.

mini-tutorial! first birthday picnic gift bags for boys and girls // the modern locket

{A Picnic Gift Bag Mini-Tutorial}
what’s  better for a gift bag at a picnic than the good old brown paper sack? they’re super cheap at $1 for a 100ct package of traditional brown at target, but they have a few colors available, too. i used a pair of edger scissors from my stash to cut the tops off the bags, punch holes for the baker’s twine and modified this template from The Pretty Blog  for the thank you tags. i wanted to be able to immediately know whether or not the bag was meant for a boy or a girl and also tie in the theme of the party somehow. i thought about making a potato stamp, but decided i wanted a more unfinished look. lo & behold, wouldn’t you know? wrapping a tissue around your finger to “stamp” the page willy nilly with some overlap before it’s printed on is a wonderful effect! cut out your tags, loop some pretty bakers twine through punched holes and you’ve got a cute gift bag that’s not going to break your party bank.

mini-tutorial! first birthday picnic gift bags for boys and girls // the modern locketshadow box display at 1st birthday

dave & friends swooped around expertly hanging lanterns in the middle of the pavilion and covered tables. dave even came up with a quick centerpiece for the tables by stacking & taping some extra tissue fans. my man constantly amazes me. 🙂

lanternstabledecor on the fly

a special shout-out to jenny, a family friend that’s more like family, who made livi’s super cute tutu & headband!  she’s so talented! we enjoyed a picnic lunch and the kids all played at the playground right next to us. livi really enjoyed her caramel apple cupcake with cream cheese icing filling! and i really enjoyed having our friends and family there to celebrate. i almost didn’t have a party for her because i thought, “she’s only 1 and she’ll never remember it!” but with photos she will. and she will know that she was loved by a village. 🙂

cupcakeccuteness // the modern locket

a world with octobers

i’ve always loved Anne of Green Gables. i must’ve read those books 100 times! i have a quote journal that i used to keep back when i had the brain cells to do such frivolously wonderful things (read: before livi) that had quotes from the Bible, books, songs, notable experts and people i knew. it had quite a few pages dedicated to books i read as a youth and one of my favorite quotes has recently surfaced in pinterest pop culture

Octobers Print from The Dear Friend shop on Etsy.com

Octobers Print from the Dear Friend Shop on Etsy.com

there are roughly a million creations centered around this quote, but this one from the Dear Friend Shop is my fave. october kicks off my favorite time of the year – full of fun and festivities galore.

to celebrate all things fall we went with livi’s Nana to Hill Ridge Farms last weekend to pick out pumpkins and harass some very well-fed animals. the great pumpkin welcomes you…

the great pumpkin at hill ridge farms // the modern locketThe Pumpkin Giver // the modern locket

livi was lifting pumpkins and punching holes in rotten ones like you wouldn’t believe. she basically has super powers. and that  sock monkey hat from our friend Cindy got more ooooo’s, ahhhh’s and, “oh my how adorable”s than i was prepared for.

horseme & the bug // the modern locket

i can’t wait until livi is old enough for the pony rides – she loved the horses! she did not, so much, enjoy having her picture taken with her mother. i’m afraid #disapprovingbaby will very quickly turn into #disapprovingteenager. just a teensy glimpse into my instgramming future. but you give her daddy on a hay ride and this is what happens…

cuddles with daddy // the modern locket

*sigh. oh well, you win some and you lose a lot. that’s my motto. 😉 as i type this, the duo is watching a dancing pumpkin video and the bug is entranced. dancing pumpkin head-1, mom-0.

comfy ducksbunnyville

hill ridge has so many goats, sheep, chickens, turkey, geese, ducks, rabbits and horses that are clearly living the good life. they’re fed well and have room to roam. i’m so glad they finally put a church in Bunnyville. i was starting to assume the worse about their poor bunny souls.

hill ridge farms slide // the modern locketcorn play // the modern locket

dave & livi slid down the giant slide and watched older kids play in the germ infested glee hole they call the corn pit playroom.

last night we trick-or-treated with a rather large group of friends & kids and accosted a friendly neighborhood. livi had two costumes: a snow white dress that i picked up last year during an after-halloween sale at Babie-r-Us for $4.99 (originally $34.99) and a Carter’s ladybug costume that dear friends (who are basically family) gave livi for her birthday. my heart burst from the cuteness!

show white bug // the modern locketthe ladybug bug // the modern locket

i mean. come on.

snow white // the modern locket

bugsy wore the princess dress to see dave at work during their halloween party where kids of employees trick-or-treated at everyone’s desks. it’s basically an adorable parade. she wore the ladybug costume outside for trick-or-treating when it was a bit cooler.

livi at work // the modern locket

i should probably hit up the after-halloween sales again this year! any suggestions?

surviving baby’s first night away

this weekend livi spent her first night away from us and, I have to say, it was unexpectedly hard. for me, not for dave. he slept like a baby.

i didn’t have a single inkling of anxiety about livi staying the night with her grandparents. in fact, i was a little giddy. because livi nursed for a year, we were never apart for more than 5 hours and that only happened a handful of times. she basically turned 1, started walking, said tata to nursing (see what I did there??) and then decided she was big enough to sleep away. *sigh

tips for surviving baby's first night away // the modern locket
the evening started out wonderfully relaxed with a Scream marathon and pinning to my heart’s content. sure i missed her, but it was nighttime & she’d be in bed anyway, right? but, when i got in bed, it hit me. livi was sooooo far away. (all of 10 minutes) i couldn’t hear her sound machine over the baby monitor, and i didn’t get to sneak in and check on her like i have every single day dice she was born. i melted. quickly. even my body seemed to know that she was gone. every 30 minutes it jerked me awake to listen for my baby that wasn’t there. it was then, in the wee hours, that i began praying for the women i know whose arms are currently perpetually empty either from loss or a not-yet-fulfilled desire to have a little one. i counted myself lucky to know that livi was just a short 10 minute drive away, soundly tucked in & greatly loved.

there’s a certain amount of Stockholm syndrome that sets in during those first few months of cocooning to survive the sleeplessness. the sweet bundle of mess holds you captive (almost literally) and pretty soon you can’t even think of what life was like before they came along. the physical cord has been cut, but those heart strings grow stronger every day.

hopefully any babies we have after livi won’t catch me quite so off guard during these milestones. i put together a five tips that might help you survive the first night away better than i did!

1: make sure you have white noise to replace the sound of the monitor. i love the app Ambiance and the sound Rolling Thunder in the Rain category.

2: leave your baby with someone you trust who already knows his/her schedule and routines well. livi stayed with dave’s parents who watch her often and she’s really comfortable with them. this gave me the most peace of mind!

3: give yourself plenty of time to prepare emotionally and mentally and, if you think your overnight sitter might need it, a list of any info you think is vital to success and safety.

4: if you have the means, get away for the whole night at a hotel or go out on a special date! i feel like if i’d done this i would’ve had a better chance at sleeping. all night i fought the urge to wedge myself in livi’s crib!

5: change up your own bedtime routine. maybe pamper yourself with a facial steam & a mask. I love the Clear Improvement charcoal mask from Origins. or have a beer & a bath with a good book that’s not about parenting! (a mistake I made!!)

when did you first leave your sweet baby with someone else? what was your reaction?

Sweet & Spicy Roasted Pecans (a trader joe’s hack)

since livi’s first birthday party is tomorrow, I’m going to make this a quick & easy recipe post. being elbow deep in birthday crafting and cupcake making didn’t lend itself to having a whole bunch of time, but i can tell you that these sweet & spicy roasted pecans are SO worth the 20 min it takes to make them…. ok, well worth the 5 min of hands on time it takes. 😉

I fell head over heels hard for the sweet & spicy pecans at Trader Joe’s. they are good on so many things, but at $3.99 per 5oz pop it was starting to seem like it might not be worth it with the amount I was buying. (gulp.) that’s just far too much money on (essentially) decorative nuts! plus, i feel better knowing exactly what’s going into my food. tj’s has a decent reputation for good ingredients, but their sweet & spicy nuts are made with canola oil – something i’m trying to stay away from if i can help it. i figured it was time to make them myself. they couldn’t be that hard to emulate, right? I was sooooo right. and these are even better. i mean, as long as you’re into food that has a buttery, toasty yumminess that puts its store-bought friend to shame.

The Modern Locket // Sweet & Spicy Pecans (a trader joes hack)

sweet & spicy pecans

preheat oven to 325

in a small mixing bowl, combine:
2T white granulated sugar
2T brown sugar
1/2t cayenne pepper
1/4t fresh ground black pepper
1/4t sea salt

on the stove top, toss on medium/low heat:
8oz raw pecan halves (ironically, tj’s has the best price i’ve found for these)
2 Tbsp of butter
(just until butter is melted & pecans are warmed)

toss the pecans in the sweet & spicy mix. give it a good mix-around. then, spread the pecans on a lined baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes. halfway through the baking time, stir the pecans & get a waft of the toasty goodness.

store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 6-8 weeks to top your salads, baked potatoes, and even put in your chicken salad in place of almonds. so many uses!

i dare you to resist the temptation to burn your tongue on one straight out of the oven.