Making a Felt Busy Book / Quiet Book for Our Toddler

Last year I started a fun craft project for Leo’s birthday in July: a home-made busy book (a.k.a. quiet book)! Between life, travel, moming, and work I wound up completing it just in time for Christmas. Actually photo finish. I think I finished binding the busy book on Christmas Eve! I had no idea how to make a busy book (and barely remembered how to sew on a button, let alone any other stitches) but thanks to Pinterest and YouTube it worked out quite well.

We try to avoid screen time and the thought is that we can whip out his busy book when we go to restaurants or appointments and he gets bored. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure we’ll crack and let him watch / play with our phones or an iPad but we always prefer to keep him happy without screens. As Leo gets older he can practice skills like opening and closing zippers and buckles. Perfect to satisfy that nagging feeling of having to provide educational activities. 😉

So now I have Leo has this hand-made treasure that has a lot of love and sweat from Mom in it. The plan is to make him a new page or two for his birthdays and Christmas. Heck maybe even Easter if I’m feeling crafty. I have so many (in my mind) adorable ideas written down and Pinterest has boatloads of fun designs that are perfect for older toddlers. Here’s to hoping this book is a project that I’ll stick with and that grows with Leo. Honestly, it’s really fun seeing a page come together while the Gilmore Girls are on Netflix. 😀

Some of the page designs are VERY inspired by some of the creative people on Pinterest and Etsy (for example, there are a million pages with dogs and collars out there – hard to give credit unfortunately) but I couldn’t use their pattern because of the size their pages were. So I drew the page in Illustrator, printed it, traced the shapes on felt and sewed everything together.

Other than the pressure to complete the book by Christmas, I had so much fun making Leo’s busy book. I can’t even tell you what part I enjoyed most. Deciding what kind of page to make, designing the pattern for that busy book page, putting it all together…? Most definitely the moment when I gave the book to Leo.

As always when I put in a ton of work creating something (hello weekly planner) I like to share it with the world. Yeah, of course for that nice pat on the back, but more so because designing and making the busy book pages was work. Enough work to be kind of sad about it only having served myself once. So if you’re trying to figure out how to make a busy book and are looking for free busy book page designs I’ll be all too happy to share what I did with you. Your child/niece/nephew/friend’s kid… is going to love and cherish any hand-made treasure – I know I would have as a child so take the time to craft a busy book for them!

How to make a busy book. Super easy!

How to Sew A Busy Book by Hand

Before digging in, let me share the pages that really helped me remember how to sew. It would have been nice to have a sewing machine but hand-sewing everything wasn’t the end of the world and worked out just fine. So fear not if you haven’t sewn in a while – aside from putting lost buttons back on I also hadn’t picked up a needle in decades (since middle school textile class actually, where I made a crooked pillow case, trapezoid shaped pot holders, and a half finished bag).

Sewing a busy book by hand. Free patterns!

These are the types of stitches I used to create Leo’s quiet book:

Baste Stitch

Blanket Stitch

Back Stitch

Here’s one piece of basic advice for starting with either stitching method: Fold your embroidery floss (yarn) in half and thread it through the needle in a way that the two open strands are near the needle loop. Then, stitch from the back side of the felt to the front but don’t pull the thread all the way through. When the needle is on the back side again, pull it through the remaining loop to secure it without a knot. Then continue with your regular stitches.

YouTube is your friend if you’re still unsure about baste, blanket or back stitches (yep, done that).

How to Easily Bind Busy Book Pages with Grommets / Eyelets (sharing soon, get your pages ready!)

Busy Book Supplies

Shopping for craft projects is almost an entirely separate hobby for me (as my enormous stash of beads and gems will testify – sorry Honey!). I just love walking through craft stores to see what fun things I may discover. Amazon, Michaels, and JoAnn’s were where I got most of my loot for the busy book but I always keep my eyes open for fun items. The Target dollar spot is a marvelous source of reasonably priced trinkets and stationary. Always fun. Anyway, here is more about all the things I have used to make Leo’s busy book.

Busy Book Supplies I Used (sharing soon)

I am currently in the process of writing this series! Please subscribe to receive email notifications when I add a new post! Subscribe on the right on desktop, below on mobile. Seriously, the system only sends out an email then, no spammy crap.

Free Busy Book Page Designs

Busy Book Title Page with Taggie Sun and Cloud (sharing soon)

Busy Book Vehicle Puzzle Page (sharing soon)

Busy Book Traffic Light Buttoning Page (sharing soon)

Busy Book Lady Bug and Flower Pages (sharing soon)

Busy Book Dog Page (sharing soon)

Busy Book Teeth Brushing Page (Haven’t sewn that one yet but I have the design. Hoping to have it done for Easter! Yay!)

Keep in mind, these are for PERSONAL USE ONLY. If you’d like to sell your sewn pages using my designs, please leave me a comment for a license. You are welcome to link back to this post but please don’t steal and repost on your own site!

 

Happy crafting y’all!

Sannipanni

 

 

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Free Printable 2018 Monthly and Weekly Planner

The most amazing free printable planner for 2018 includes weekly and monthly spreads, goal setting sheets, meal planning and cleaning and self-care charts!

Well guys, since this year’s free printable planner was super unexpectedly and overwhelmingly popular I just had to make another one for 2018. Everyone left such sweet comments and some ladies were so grateful and wrote how the planner really helped them get on top of keeping track of habits like meals – I was really touched! So while there are a wealth of planners sold in stores, how could I not create a new one after those comments?!

After lots and lots of coffee, I am excited to share my 2018 weekly and monthly planner with you! Squeal! After a year of pastels I was craving bolder colors and I hope you’ll enjoy this year’s color scheme as much as I do. What do you think of that tropical twist? Good news – since you’ll print it yourself you can always print it in black and white if you prefer.

New Planner Features

Year in Pixels

The new Sannipanni Planner has a few additions that I’m really stoked about like this year in pixels page that’s inspired by the bullet journal community. Pick 5 different colors and fill in the squares. I’ve seen pixel labels along the lines of “amazing, good, alright, bad, and horrific days” or “elated, happy, neutral, sad, and angry moods”.

Free 2018 printable planner with year in pixels and cleaning check list

Cleaning List

The Home Disaster Avoidance Masterplan got a little facelift! I added a daily routine list that’s the bare minimum in my book. The focus zones got a companion list with focus zone tasks. So throughout the year I can easily transpose those that apply into that month’s spread.

Last year I had a disaster preparedness list but when we were preparing for a potential Hurricane Irma thread here in Charlotte this year I didn’t even look at it and just referenced the official FEMA list. So I deleted that list. You can always print your own list and add it to your planner.

Word of The Year

Just today I participated in this really inspiring Word of The Year conversation in one of my Facebook groups. Pick a word that is highly meaningful for you as you think about the year ahead. My planner buddies’ wonderful suggestions included: thrive, grow, breathe, adventure, heal, joy, fun, grit and so many more. I’ll share my personal word of the year with y’all in a future blog post.

Make self-care a priority in 2018 with the printable, free Sannipanni planner!

Self-Care

One thing I really need to get better about next year is to take care of myself so I don’t burn out. Funny, as a freelance at home mom and pilot wife I feel much more drained than when I had a busy desk job! Obviously as a mom you give and give and give so much super selflessly but man, it is a draining 24/7 job! So in 2018 I definitely want to plan for some self-care TLC for my mind, body and soul. Ya know, mani/pedis, listening to a good podcast, work-out, call a girlfriend and so forth. Loads of great ideas if you google. My planner has space to write down my favorite self-care ideas so when I have a minute or 30 I have ideas at my fingertips and won’t have to waste time.

I also added this wire-modelesque blossom that I’m planning to shade in every time I do something for me. With all the demands of today’s busy world I’m really looking forward to seeing my self-care flower become colorful with bloom.

Meal Planning

Meal planning section of the free 2018 printable Sannipanni Planner

I designed little meal plan magnets earlier this year and included the graphic in the planner, too. On the facing page you’ve got meal idea categories that you can fill with your go-to dishes. Then when it comes to picking meals for the week, just pick a meal from each category. Or like me, fill in the gaps between left-overs and restaurant food with a few of them.

Weekly Layout

Weekly layout in the free 2018 printable Sannipanni planner.

Not too many changes here. You still have three areas per day: blank area (I use that for appointments, birthdays, etc.), personal to-do list and boss life to-do list. That layout has been working great for me to keep my freelance work and all other areas of life organized. Yay!

I did flip the meal planning and to buy list with the trackers and doodle space. Writing at the inside edge of the planner was kind of a pain this year but I’m hoping filling in trackers will be easy enough to do with the binding right there.

Printing

In 2017 I printed my planner on 5x7in paper, which fit perfectly into a mini binder. But for next year I’d like to go a little bigger but not all the way to 8.5x11in. The planner is designed to be printed on letter sized paper but you can easily scale it down when you print it out of the Adobe Reader. So I’ve played around with different sizes and will print my planner on 7×8.5in, which is half legal size. My plan is to buy legal sized paper and cut it during a Netflix binge session. Printed at 80%, the weekly boxes are 1.5in wide (on my printer anyway), which is the same width as they are in the Erin Condren’s Life Planner. I’m excited to use some of my old stickers! Woot!

Oh, you’ll need the file! Here it is:

2018-Sannipanni-Free-Printable-Weekly-Planner-final

Right click on the link and save the file on your computer’s hard drive. Open it in Adobe Reader instead of your browser for better printing. Also choose printing on both sides to create nice spreads.

Binding

If 8.5in x 11in or 5.5in x 8.5in (you’ll have some space at the top and bottom of the pages) is your preferred size (and it’s so easy because you won’t have to do any trimming!), you can just use binders like this letter sized and this smaller one. You’ll also need an adjustable hole-punch for the smaller format.

I searched hi and lo for a binder to work with 7in x 8.5in but couldn’t find one. They seem to all be for narrower 5.5in wide pages and too short for what I want. Luckily, I eventually stumbled across the arc binding system. Hoorah! All I’ll need is a hole-punch and basic arc rings, that I can reuse again next year. There are some fancier metallic ones out there but the reviews don’t sound as promising. So we shall see! Since I won’t have a binder I’ll laminate the front and back covers at FedEx Office.

Useful Supplies

Finding the right supplies to print the planner took a little bit so I’m going to share my findings with you in case you don’t want to shell out a ton of money to have the planner printed and bound at your local copy shop. The planner still looks neat in black and white so that may be a reasonably priced option if you don’t want to print it at home.

Please note, the duplication of this file or any of its parts is strictly prohibited. My planner is free for personal use only. If you’d like to share it, link to this post and not the actual file to make sure you always have access to the latest version of it. Thanks and I hope you’ll love this planner! Can’t wait to hear some of your feedback and suggestions for my 2019 planner! Show me your planner with hashtag #SannipanniPlanner

When Does The 2019 Planner Launch?

If you’d like to be notified when I add new content like an updated planner to this site, make sure you sign up for email notifications on the right (if you’re on a desktop computer) or below (if you’re on a mobile device)!

Some of y’all have asked if you can do anything for me in return. Totally not necessary but I’d love you forever if you make your supply purchases through one of the product links in this post. Doesn’t change the price for you at all but I get a tiny kick-back to help with the hosting costs of the planner and this site. Yay! Thanks so much!!

The most amazing free printable planner for 2018 includes weekly and monthly spreads, goal setting sheets, meal planning and cleaning and self-care charts! #planner #bujo #TN #happyplanner #erincondren

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Meal Planning Made Easy [Free Printable]

Taking the stress out of meal planning with these free printables

Well folks, the struggle is real, since our toddler now demands real food, our days of grabbing a frozen meal or ordering take-out / going out have dwindled down. Too much salt for the little one. And let’s be honest, going out with a toddler can be a tiny bit stressful.

Gone are the days that I’d go meet a friend out for sushi, then have a date at whatever restaurant, and then maybe eat something at happy hour at a bar. All that was left to do was fill the other nights with something edible, be it cereal or some delicious meal, for which I had all the time in the world to cook and eat. Now there’d better be food on the table at 6pm or Leo turns into an ankle biter. He’s in a phase right now where most things are just disgusting to him and he winds up eating a slice of toast but we continue to offer everything we eat. Then, every few days he’ll surprise me and mow down whatever we’re eating. It’s super random.

Meal Planning for Our Family

So I’ve been doing the grown-up thing and been making an effort to plan out what we’re going to eat each week. I can only handle so many days with a sudden panic attack at 5:30pm, no clue what to cook and no ingredients on hand. Mom-ing is tough enough as is.

My trusted planner has a section for weekly meal planning, which takes away that panicky moment (so long as I actually went grocery shopping!) but that still leaves the question, what the heck should we eat this week?! I consider myself a foodie so eating the same 10 or so rotating meals is really unsatisfying for me.

Meal planning is a breathe with Sannipanni's Planner and the cute printable from this blog post.

Alas, I’ve come up with this little system that seems to work well for us. I pick meals based on these categories: salad, pasta, something made on the grill, seafood, breakfast for dinner, something made in the crock-pot, and global cuisine. Since I don’t feel like cooking every day (because it’s ridiculously hard to do that when your toddler wants to hug your legs and I’m lazy by nature), my meal plan for the week always includes leftovers. You bet. I also shuffle the meals around as the week goes by or say, screw it, and we go out or pick something up. But the list helps. Tremendously!

Shutterfly had a promo for free magnets and that motivated me to turn this informal list of meal categories into a magnet for my fridge. I designed these graphics (yay, your choice of color!) and thought I’d share in case someone else struggles with meal ideas, too. They truly are pretty good inspiration for me when it comes to picking meals for the week.

A dish will often immediately come to my mind when I think about grilling or Asian or Tex-Mex food (“global cuisine”). If I still struggle, I grab my magazine recipe collection or search on Pinterest. Checking what’s on sale that week helps, too.

So here they are, my little meal planning helpers! Download (right click and “Save Image” or hold down long on your iphone and save to your camera roll) and print or turn them into a magnet. Happy cooking and I hope they’ll keep your family from going hangry!

Easy meal planning: Every day pick one of the categories to spark your meal inspiration!

Easy meal planning: Every day pick one of the categories to spark your meal inspiration!

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Free Cards for Adding Video to Project Life

Free templates to add videos and QR codes to your Project Life scrapbook photo albums.

I’ve been working on creating Leo’s baby photo album with the Project Life App (it’s like scrapbooking for people that don’t have time to scrapbook). As you can imagine we have tons of super cute baby videos on our iPhones and I’d love to add them to his physical photo album.

So I asked on my Facebook group and tons of people told me to go ahead and use a QR code for that. I was scared of them becoming obsolete and I want to be able to watch these videos until my eyesight is gone but they assured me that it’s binary code and will be around for a long time. Uhhh let’s hope so!! On top of that I’m adding the video’s URL so I can manually type it into a browser, too, and I’ll add a DVD and maybe a USB stick at the end of the photo album. I thought I’d share how to add videos to Project Life cards as well as the cards I created.

Template to create video cards for Project Life

With this .png template that I designed I created this page to document some of my third trimester of pregnancy with Leo. Wait, don’t download that image; the high-res versions are further down. I’ve got a few more pages to go but can’t wait to have my pregnancy documented and work on the rest of his book!

A Project Life page from our son's baby albumwith video

How to Add Video to Project Life Cards

  1. Upload your video to YouTube or another video storage site of your choice like Dropbox, Flickr, Amazon, … I use YouTube and make the video unlisted so I can access it without logging in but you won’t find it unless I share the link with you.
  2. Grab the link to your video and create a QR code. I really like goqr.me. Save the image to your computer or phone.
  3. Take and save a screen shot of your video.
  4. Open the screen shot in a photo layering app like Over or PicsArt
  5. Add the appropriate template card, then add the QR code image.
  6. If desired, add text to the image. I like a description and the date on the clapperboard and the URL at the bottom – just in case I can’t get the QR reader to work in a few years. Call me paranoid but better safe than sorry. 😉

Free Video Cards for Project Life

Seeing that I’ll be using these throughout Leo’s baby Project Life album, I thought I’d create templates so that I have a uniform look and can now quickly and easily add video to his photo album. Here are all the formats you can download in .png form at the end of this post:

4×6 cards with one and two videos

6×4 card with video

3×4 cards for landscape and portrait videos

Square 4×4 card for video

Free templates to add videos and QR codes to your Project Life scrapbook photo albums.

Here is the link to download the card templates. Do not share these templates on your own website but link back to this blog post! I made these cards and they are for personal use only!

 

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