Monday, December 29, 2014

Back to square one, again. a {Mom}-day post

Monday, December 29, 2014
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Full of magic and family and love.  That's the ideal, right?  No chaos, changed plans or tragedy.  No, we want Hallmark and Norman Rockwell and "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  It's Christmas after all.

But life, even at Christmas, is still messy and chaotic and crazy.  And with all 5 kids home for two weeks straight, it has become apparent that things here need to change.

I have tried many, many, many chore charts.  Lists, sticks, charts, jars, fuzzies-  sometimes they worked for a while, sometimes they were a bust from the beginning.  The closest we have come to a working system is the one we use right now.  I create a list for the kids on Monday, it has a list of jobs they must complete before the end of the week.  If all jobs are done on time and according to my expectations, they earn tickets that can then be used for video games, computer time, outings with friends and other privileges.  They like the flexibility of doing the jobs on their own timeline.  I like that I don't have to harass them all the time.

However, just like anything else, the system is only as good as the effort you put into maintaining it.  And I have to admit to putting less than the necessary amount of energy into it. 

So, here we are, back to square one, again.  Time to roll up our sleeves, dig deep and get ready to make some things happen.  One against 5 are terrible odds, especially when it comes to maintaining a home.  So, we're going to stem the tide, turn the tables and any other powerful metaphor you can think of.  We're going to get things moving up in here.

How am I doing to accomplish this Incredible feat?  I honestly have no idea.  And really, my expectations are fairly low- I know it's not in a kids' nature to willingly clean and be mindful of their home.  And that's okay.  My goal is to help them on the road- to make sure they know the rules and have the tools to maintain a home one day.  The willingness part probably won't come until they are forking over the money for the mortgage, but if they know how to do it- well, my job is done.

Some goals to focus on:

1. Ownership of your own stuff.  The kids are always complaining, "But it's not MY stuff!"  Well, actually, often it is.  Backpacks, shoes, coats etc.  We are going to go with a zero tolerance policy for a while.  Leave your stuff out and mom finds it?  Lose 1 ticket- immediately. 

2. Do it right the first time.  One child in particular likes to see if he can get away with minimal effort, and sometimes he does, because I'm too busy or lazy to check.  But those days are gone.  Checking will be done and major tickets will be lost if things aren't done correctly the first time.  If they don't understand my expectations, they can come ask me, but at this point I've gone over the requirements multiple times, I even have laminated checklists for all the jobs I am asking them to do.  Time to dust them off and get serious.  Lose 2 tickets the first time I ask a job to be redone, 4 tickets if you still didn't do it right.  Laziness step aside- mama's on a roll!

3. Dinner jobs.  Each of the older kids has a job they are expected to do after dinner.  Picking up the main floor, vacuuming a room as well as helping put dinner away and clean it up are all covered.  But, often execution is lacking- Mom and Dad have to nag and hound and harass.  Well, I'm over it and so is Dad.  After dinner is going to become a no- nag zone.  If you get your jobs done immediately after dinner- bonus tickets!  If you head off somewhere and put if off until later- Lose a ticket.  If you go to bed and jobs aren't done??  Lose 5 tickets!!  There might not be much video game playing going on at our house after a week of this rule.

I think that's a good place to start.  I'm already exhausted thinking about it. ;)  But this is important work going on right here- it's about much more than a clean house- it's about responsibility, being part of a team, knowing how to manage a home and care for all the parts of it and it's about mom's sanity- which we all know is the biggest reason of all.

So happy Monday!  I have a week to pull it together before all this goes live and I'd love any tips or suggestions you might have about jobs, teaching kids responsibility or staying sane.

see you soon!
xoxo,
Amy

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Deer Head Art

Friday, December 5, 2014
*I was given a stencil from Royal Design Studios to complete this project and will receive compensation in the form of credit to their store for this post.  I hope that the fact that I am working for more stuff from Royal Design Studios shows how much I like their products. ;)  The ideas and opinions are all my own.


You know when you see something and you just really have to try to make it for yourself?  I have been feeling this way about this darling sign from Peabody and Sassafrass.  Did you click over?  Isn't it gorgeous?  The whole look they create is just fabulous.
When I was contacted by Royal Design Studios about creating a holiday project I was excited for a reason to create some new art inspired by their gorgeous creation.  And when I went to Pinners Conference and saw this deer head from The Wood Connection- I knew exactly what I was going to do.
Here's how it came together.
I started off with a piece of wood.  This one is 15 1/2" square. It actually part of another project that I never put together so it was already cut with the holes drilled in before I started.  I started with a coat of dark gray paint.  Once it was dry, I used this Photo Texture Cream from Poppy Seed Projects and layered on a thick coat that was full of strokes and peaks.  This will make sanding in some texture at the end much easier.  Allow to dry thoroughly.  I let it dry overnight because I really did lay it on thick.

 Once the texture cream was dry it was time to start adding the colors for the final project.  I started out adding the cream.  I used Antique White from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because I had some on hand and it was the perfect color, feel free to use any kind of paint you want.  For the red, I wanted a color that would match a project I am still working on, so I ended up mixing up my own color, but I simply used acrylic paint so find whatever color you love.  This is where the Royal Design Studios stencil came in.  I wanted something that would add some interest and dimension to the project and finally decided on this Herringbone Pattern Christmas Stencil.  I absolutely love the look it gave my project.  They have so many fabulous options it was hard to choose, but this one was a simple, classic design that was exactly what I was looking for.  Because there was so much texture on my board, it was hard getting the lines exactly perfect, but I was hoping for a bit of a handmade/ distressed look, so I wasn't worried about it.  When you purchase a stencil from Royal Design Studios they send you directions on how to stencil if you don't know already.  I found these tips really helpful because I am definitely no expert.
While my paint was drying I prepped my deer head.  I traced the shape onto the paper I wanted to use, cut it out and mod podged the paper to the head.  Then I let it dry.  Once it was dry I sanded the edges of the deer to get rid of any extra paper that might hang over the edges.
The final step before assembling is to distress our board.  I used a fresh piece of sand paper and sanded over the whole thing.  You will see that the raised parts exposed the gray underneath.
Once I decided where to place my deer head I realized that the brown head wasn't standing out as much as I would like, so before I glued it down I went around the edges with some charcoal ink and it was exactly the touch it needed.

 As I said in the beginning, I was loving the look of the Peabody and Sassafrass piece and the thing that really sent their piece over the top was the felt flowers on the bottom.  So I pulled out my bucket of felt and went to work.
 I started out with my go to pom pom flowers using strips of felt that were about 6" long and only 2" wide.
The next flowers I made were these pinched posies.  I cut out small irregularly shaped circles and put a dab of glue in the centers and pinched them up.  I used about 6 circles per flower.  Once the glue dried I glued all the pieces together.  The last flowers are just strips of irregularly cut felt rolled up into a flower, super simple.  I cut out some holly leaves and ran a line of glue along the center then pinched it in half.  Once the glue cooled I opened it back up and it it had this great ridge in the center.
 
 Of course the last step is the ribbon.  I'm not sure if I'm going to keep this on it forever, but for now I love how simple and understated it is and that it lets the deer head and flowers take center stage.


Let me know if you have any questions.  Do you change your holiday decor every year?  I like to add a few new pieces each year, and I try to retire others too, just so I don't have a gazillion boxes to store from year to year.
Have a fabulous Friday!
xoxo,
Amy

Friday, November 28, 2014

Cricut Explore Black Friday Deals

Friday, November 28, 2014
*This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

Just popping in this holiday weekend to share with you some amazing deals on the new Cricut Explore.  In my last post I shared 10 reasons I love my Explore and because I love it, and you, I thought it only fair of me to let you know about the awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals to be had.

You can find deals on great bundles, including the exclusive to Design Space Frozen bundle, and great starter bundles that include the scoring stylus and pens and other great deals.  Plus, I have a couple other coupons you can add that will make your deal even better.

During the month of November you get free shipping on all orders using code FREESHIPNOV.   Plus, you can get an additional $5 off an order of $50 or more with the code CRICUTBF5.  And the code EXPLOREBFBLOG will get you another $10 off your Explore bundle.  If you add it all up, you can get a bundle for as low as $214!!

Skip the lines at Walmart and shop online for the best Cricut deal.  And with Free Shipping you don't even have to get dressed. ;)

I promise no more selling posts for a while, I just thought it would be mean of me not to save you money. lol

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
xoxo,
Amy


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

10 reasons I love my Cricut Explore

Tuesday, November 25, 2014
*This is a compensated post, as well as a post that contains affiliate links.

I want to start by saying that I almost never write posts like this.  I have nothing against bloggers who write sponsored posts, but I struggle with having to write something that doesn't feel authentic to me.  It's not my job to sell you on things and my opinion might not be the same as yours.  But, once in a while the opportunity to get paid to write a post I would write anyway comes along and I have to jump on board.

I have been participating in the Cricut Design Space challenge and have made it into the top 10 a couple of times.  In order to participate, Cricut sent me a new Explore machine.  I have been a cricut owner for years and purchased my previous machines.  I was super excited to get to try out this new machine.  I had heard such great things about it and I have to say, I was not disappointed.

So, here they are- my Top 10 reasons for loving my Cricut Explore:

#10- The new I-pad app.  This app is in Beta testing and will be released in January, but I was able to participate in a webinar that showed how this app will work and I have to say I'm super impressed.  I don't even own an i-pad, but I might need to fix that. ;)  The reason this is in my top 10 is not necessarily because of the app, but because it is a reflection of the responsiveness that Cricut has developed to its customers.  People asked for an app, the ability to design remotely and one that would work on the i-pad- and Cricut listened.  They are listening to the Facebook groups and what their customers are saying and I think that's amazing.  I believe they truly care what their customers think, and I couldn't always say that.  They are making huge strides to turn things around in this area.  They are also working tirelessly to bring new features and tools that people want.  So, if a specific feature isn't available yet- wait a bit and I'm sure it will be.

#9- The machine itself.  It's light, easy to pull out and put away.  I don't have a space where I can leave it out and hooked up all the time, so it's nice that it has it's own storage area to keep extra tools and blades right in the machine.  It even comes with a carrying bag.  And it's quiet!  It's nice that I can still hear my music while it's working. :)

#8-   All of the Cricut images.  I have quite a few cartridges from over the years and have always loved the options they provide me for my crafting, but now, you don't have to purchase the entire cartridge, you can just purchase single images if that's all you need.  And this leads me to ...

#7- Print then Cut.  All of the Cricut images are available to be turned into printables- with a simple click of the mouse. 

#6- Creating your own images.  I'll admit that the ability of the Silhouette to manipulate the images you are cutting, and to upload your own images was something I envied for a long time.  I am so thrilled that first with Craft room, and now with Design Space, Cricut allows you the versatility to take your projects to even greater heights.  :) From welding letters to create one cut image, to slicing off bits and pieces, to arranging them on the mat for projects using vinyl and heat transfer, you have so many more options now.



I used the weld feature to create the cherish word art in this project.
#5- uploading your own files is free.  You can purchase external .svg, .jpeg or other cut files, or create your own in other software, such as Adobe Illustrator and upload them to Design Space at no cost.  It's exactly the feature I used in my Scalloped Advent Banner.

#4-  Write, Cut and Score- I love all of these features.  I have not used the pens much- YET.  But, I have some great plans ahead for those.  I do love the score tool and the cuts, well they are awesome.

#3- If you've wondered about how the Explore cuts- it is after all a digital cutting machine- wonder no longer.  And independent lab took the Explore and the Silhouette and tested them side by side.  You can read all about the results and find out how the Cricut vs. Silhouette contest turned out.  Long story short- the Cricut won. :)

#2- The materials the new machine can cut.  In addition to how precise it is, this machine can cut everything from leather to balsa wood.  It's pretty impressive.  I even took a piece of laminated cotton and threw it on a mat to see if it would cut- it worked like a dream.  I have much more playing to do with this feature, but I have been super impressed so far.

#1- Ease of use.  This is far and away my favorite feature.  Most of the bloggers I talk to think this is a downside, but honestly, I don't always have time to build a project from scratch.  Sometimes I just want to load a project and get cutting.  The software, machine and app are all intuitive and are built to be user friendly and simple to understand.  I love that when I have a specific project in mind I can create it myself, or if I just want to create- I can jump on Design Space and get going. 

So there you have it, my reasons for loving the Cricut Explore.  There will probably be more along the way. :)  I'm sorry if you're seeing a lot of posts like this in your feed right now, as you can imagine, there is a huge push before Black Friday to generate a buzz, but if you've read this long, then hopefully that means you value my opinion.  I really do love my Explore.  I've been a huge Cricut fan for years and I'm so grateful for the opportunities I have had to create great projects and participate in the Design Space star contest.  If you have any other questions about the Explore, feel free to ask in the comments or e-mail me.

One final note, there will be some great deals on the Cricut Explore come Black Friday.  I can't spill the beans just yet, but stay tuned. :)

xoxo,
Amy

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Scalloped Advent Banner

Thursday, November 13, 2014
 
 
*Disclaimer- this project is participating in the Cricut Design Space Star Contest and is eligible for prizes.  All ideas and opinions are my own.  This post also contains affiliate links.  I truly do love my Cricut Explore and  if you think you might want one, clicking through the links to purchase will result in a small cash compensation for me.  That is all- on to the project. :)

Can one have too many advent calendars?  I don't think so.  We have a few at our house.  I have five kids, so I'm thinking if I have 5 advent calendars they'll all be happy and there won't be any fighting about who's turn it is that day.  I can dream anyway.   One of my favorite ways to count down to Christmas is to have simple daily activities that bring us together as a family for some fun, reflection or service.  This scalloped advent banner is perfect for that.

The tags inside the bunting are the perfect place to write that day's activities.  Some of our favorite things to include in our countdown are:
make gingerbread houses
read a Christmas story
watch a movie
play a game
make cookies
take a treat to someone
shop for presents
take a drive to see holiday lights
enjoy a treat
write a note to someone
wrap presents
have hot chocolate
visit family
have cinnamon rolls
play in the snow
do a craft

Sometimes we do an activity more than once, for instance read a Christmas story is one that we do at least once a week since we have so many favorite stories.  My main goal with this is to make sure we are taking time every day to stop the craziness and just be together.  But, with that being said- life gets crazy- especially during the holidays- so I really don't want to add one more thing that makes things even more hectic.  I edit the activities and make sure they are simple and reasonable for that day.  For instance, I won't plan the drive to see holiday lights on the same night as a work party- it wouldn't get done and we would all be disappointed and stressed.

This banner was pretty simple to put together with the Cricut Explore.  I uploaded the pocket file and cut out 12 pockets out of a pearl white cardstock.  I find that when I'm using textured cardstock- especially one with a sheen- I need to use the posterboard setting to get it to cut cleanly.  Then I uploaded the cutout file I created that created smaller accent pieces that wouldn't distort the scallops and cut it out once of six different patterned papers.  My team decided that our theme for this round would be Dreamy White Holidays- so I tried to keep the palette pretty muted and focused on white tone on tone paper with just a few hits of green and red.  I cut out tags and labels from the same left over papers and numbers as well.  It took some arranging to find combinations that worked, but I'm thrilled with the final result.  

To assemble the banner fold the pockets on the score lines and crease well.  Then I ran them through my sewing machine to close up the sides.  You could also use glue or double sided tape, but it might make the pocket opening a little narrower and you may need to adjust the size of the tags.  Glue or tape on your patterned pieces, labels and numbers.  I used 3D glue dots to lift the labels off the flag a bit.  Then just run some ribbon through the holes at the top of the banner.  I tied extra ribbon between each of the flags for some extra texture and color.  Add ribbon to the tops of the tags and write your activities on them.  Place them in the right pocket and enjoy your holiday season.

If my project wins this round all the project files will be available in Cricut Design Space.  I'll keep you posted. :)

XOXO,
Amy

Monday, November 3, 2014

Renewal

Monday, November 3, 2014
Here I sit on a Monday morning.  The list of things I could do is a mile long.  Instead I am choosing to sit here and write.  Because, well, I miss this little spot of mine.

 This weekend I received a copy of Where Women Create magazine in the mail.  It's a gorgeous magazine full of beautiful pictures and amazing photography and inspiring women.  Women who have pushed their boundaries, reached for their dreams and achieved incredible things.  Women I greatly admire.

And while I am not ready yet to fully flutter my creative wings and let my dreams go out on a wild flight, it certainly fanned the flames of desire to continue to strengthen and enlarge them in preparation for just such an adventure.

The last month or so has been a crazy ride.  Both my DIY word art and my Black and White Christmas Shadow box projects were selected as the top 10 final projects in the Cricut contest I am participating in.  My word art actually came in second.  It was such an honor.  And, because the winner of that round was already a finalist, I get to compete in the final round for the contest in December.  So much fun!

I had nearly decided to quit blogging.  I am SO tired of all the extra stuff that seems to have to go with it.  I had forgotten why I even started in the first place.  I blog because I love to create.  It makes me happy and fills my life with beauty.  I hope my blog will be a place for others to come to be inspired.  I hope it is a place where other mothers and other women who struggle with the stress of life will come to realize they are not alone in those struggles, because sometimes just knowing you're not alone makes things seem easier to bear.

And these last few weeks have helped me remember these things.  I love making stuff.  And, honestly, I feel like I make good stuff (mostly).  I love sharing stuff.  I love helping others make stuff.  So, hopefully, this marks the beginning of a new era in my blogging life.  And hopefully the community that is already built around this blog will grow and we will create a wonderful place full of joy and light.

 Let's grow our creative wings together, because, flying on the breeze of inspiration is such a wonderful, exhilarating ride!  Won't you come along with me?

 XOXO,
Amy

Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween mantel and word art

Friday, October 24, 2014
 So, technically, this isn't a mantel, but it's as close as I can get in this house.  I'm still loving my turquoise dresser and it makes me happy every time I walk in the door.  Last year I purged quite a bunch of my holiday decorations, so I wasn't sure how this year's decorating would look, but I'm pretty happy with it, at least this little spot anyway. 

I promised when I posted the Love Word Art a few weeks ago that I would post a Halloween version, well, it took me a bit longer than I intended, but better late than never, right?  And, if you're looking for something to craft up this weekend, this is a quick project that you can finish in just a couple hours, including drying time.  The instructions for creating the word art are the same as in the previous post.  Cut out three layers of letters from cereal boxes and one set from scrapbook paper.  Use a thin layer of glue to hold them together, make sure to get the edges well.  I like to let them sit under some books for a while to press all the layers together well (after gluing all 4 layers together), just place them in between sheets of wax paper and make sure you don't have huge amounts of glue hanging out of the edges.  While the letters are drying you can paint your stir sticks and stands.  For the orange stand I used a wood candlestick.  The black stand is a bunch of wooden pieces glued together.  I have no idea where you could get them, perhaps Hobby Lobby?  My Mother-in-Law had a whole bucket of turned wood pieces and I found them in there.
To finish off the "Spooky" art, I glued different sized googly eyes to the two letter "O"s.  I used hot glue on the bigger eyes and a glue pen for the small ones. (I didn't want to burn my fingers) ;)  One thing to note is that I did not glue the stir sticks to the stands.  I wanted it to be easier to store them, and especially with the black stand, I might use it again for other holidays so I wanted to keep it available.  I glued the eyes on the letters before I glued the letters to the stir stick.
This "Creepy" word art might be my favorite.  These little plastic spiders I found at my dollar store were just perfect.  Originally I was going to just have the spiders on the letters, but it was making the letters look too busy and a little hard to read.  That's when I had the idea to create a swarm coming up the bottom of the word, and oh, my!  The effect is perfect!  I did glue the letters onto the stir stick before I added the spiders in this case, I wanted to be able to have some of the spiders climbing onto the letters so they needed to be attached.
I had the opportunity to be on a local TV station sharing this craft.  If you want to know what I sound/ look like in person, or see this craft come together in action, click over. :)  The other project in this clip is another simple project, the spider specimen art can be found here.
I hope you're having a wonderful autumn.  Ours could not be more perfect.  The weather has been warm and dry- all month long.  October sure knows how to treat us right, this year anyway. :)
love you all,
xoxo,
Amy

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Black and White Christmas Shadow Box

Thursday, October 23, 2014
It's time for another Cricut Design Space Star contest post.  :)  This one is pretty simple, but I really love the impact it makes.
To create this project I simply cut lots of shapes using a single sheet of black cardstock and arranged them in the shape of present on another sheet of glittery white cardstock.  You can find the file with the Christmas shapes here.  The bow is the TomKat bow in the Cricut files.  I used a glue pen for the fine detailed pieces that I wanted flat against the background, then I used foam adhesive to pop some of the shapes off the back.
I put the whole thing in a shadow box.  Super simple.

I wanted some simple decorations to stage the shot of the shadow box, and came up with a second, super simple project.  I cut out these trees at 3 different sizes, 6, 9 and 11.5 inches high.  This file has the tree and the mirror image of the tree so it is the same on the back and front.  Just make sure if you use it and change the size to change it on both trees.  Sew around the sides of each tree leaving the bottom open.  I used bamboo skewers and these wooden discs with a small hole drilled in the center as the base.  I think they would be cute with spools as a base too.
And there you  have it, two simple but stunning Christmas decorations to freshen up your holiday display.

xoxo,
Amy

If you are interested in a Cricut of your own- you can find my affiliate link here. (an affiliate link just means that if you purchase a machine after clicking my link I will receive a small payment- your cost will not change)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Ribbon and Burlap Table Runner

Thursday, October 2, 2014
I know everyone is probably already decorated for Halloween, so you have time to pull this simple but festive runner together for your Thanksgiving celebrations, or just to tide you over on decorations until you're ready to get Christmas going in your house. :)  And, if you're like me and still don't have Halloween decorations out, well, you can pretend this one is a Halloween decoration.  I'm still trying to convince the kids.

Simple Ribbon and Burlap Banner

To get started you will need a piece of burlap and some ribbon.  I purchased this printed burlap from Joann Fabric, but you can find it many places, even Walmart.  You will want to purchase just a bit more burlap than you think you need so you will have room to trim the edges and account for fraying.  I used a variety of ribbons, using different widths and types, but you can use whatever you want.  The only other things you will need are scissors and a sewing machine (optional).

When you lay out your burlap you will probably notice that it is fraying and uneven on the cut side.  In this picture you will note that the right side is the cut side.  We want to make sure our runner is even and we also want to reduce the fraying and loose threads that are so common with burlap.

To do this, you are going to decide how wide you want your piece of burlap.  (again, add just a bit extra because it will still fray just a bit in the next steps)  At the determined width, you are going to select one strand of fiber and begin to pull on it.  The burlap piece will begin to gather.  You will gently continue to pull this fiber, sliding the rest of the fabric down and loosening the gathers until you have removed the entire piece.  If the fiber breaks, just track down the end of it that is still in the fabric and use a pin or other pointy tool to weave it out of the fabric until you have a piece large enough to pull again.
When you are finished, you will have a channel in the fabric that looks like this.  You will take your scissors and cut along this line.  Repeat for any other sides of your runner that need to be squared up.
Now we are ready to add some color and interest to our runner with ribbon.  Decide where you want your first ribbon to be on the runner and lay it across the burlap fabric.  Pull a fiber on either side of your ribbon, this will create the beginning and ending marks for your channel.  Pull all the fibers between the beginning and ending marks.
Weave your ribbon through the fibers in the channel.  You can choose how many fibers remain on top of the ribbon and how many go underneath.  I adjust the numbers for each ribbon, but if you want a more uniform look, you can keep it the same for all of them.  Once you have all the ribbons in place on one side, start  on the second.  To determine where the first ribbon goes, you can either count how many fibers from the end the ribbon starts and count up on the second side, or you can fold over the runner as I did and get a close estimate and just go from there.  This runner is meant to be casual so I'm not too worried about precision, but if you are making a more formal runner, you may want to actually count or measure this part.  Add your remaining ribbons.
As you are adding  your ribbons, you may inadvertently pull a few fibers from the edge of your piece.  This is why we added a bit of extra width, so we would end up with the size runner we wanted.  In order to keep this from continuing to happen, I like to take my runner and sew a zig zag stitch all the way around the runner to hold the ribbons and fibers in place.  Then I trim the edges of the runner so they are even.  If you want a frayed edge to your runner, pull the fibers you want before you do this final step, as it locks the fibers and makes them much more difficult to fray.
In this runner, I left just a bit of the edges frayed and trimmed the rest off.  Now, you can sit back and enjoy your runner.
And for more fall inspired goodies, you can check out my Batty Felt Pillow here.
And if you're really loving burlap, I have a fun place mat tutorial here.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Enter to win a CRICUT EXPLORE!

Monday, September 29, 2014
I have some BIG news to share!  I made it into the top 10 finalists for the Cricut Design Space Star contest with my DIY Custom Word Art!  I can hardly believe it!   Voting opened up this afternoon and you can vote once daily through Friday.  I would love to have your vote, but there are plenty of fabulous projects, so just go pick your favorite! :)

Head on over to the Official Cricut Page to vote!

*disclaimer- we were given a Cricut Explore to give away as part of our participation in this contest.  Voting is in no way associated with the give away.  All opinions and projects are my own.

Enter to Win a Cricut Explore - Ends 10/3/14  

 I have some more exciting news- and this time it's for you!!  We have the opportunity to GIVE AWAY a new Cricut Explore to one lucky person.  As part of the contest, I have been put in a fabulous team.  It has been such a pleasure to get to know these ladies, some of whom I have admired for years, and others who are new to me.  They have all blown me away with their talent and I hope you'll enjoy getting to know them too.  We even have our own hashtag- #rockthatcricut that you can use to see all of our projects on social media.

To get you even more excited about winning a new Cricut Explore- they just released a new Print then Cut feature for this amazing machine.  If you want more information about this cool new feature you can check out this link here.  I've seen it in action, and let me tell you, this is one awesome feature.  I can't wait to play more with it myself!  

So, good luck!!  I hope one of you wins!! :)


On a mobile device or having issues seeing the form, click here to enter!

Friday, September 19, 2014

DIY Custom Word Art

Friday, September 19, 2014

I am so excited to share this project with you today!  I have been working on it forever, so it's nice to finally let it see the light of day. :)

*Disclaimer, this project is being considered for prizes in the Cricut Design Space Star contest.  I was given a Cricut Explore as part of my participation in this contest.  All opinions and ideas are my own.

The theme for the Design Space Star contest is Weddings/ Celebrations.  Our team decided on a Woodland/ Floral theme with a focus on the colors of blush and mint.  I created these custom word art pieces.  I think they would be perfect on the display of engagement photos at a wedding, or perhaps by the guest sign in book?  The great thing about this project, is that you can completely customize the words and fonts you use so this project could apply to anything- birthdays, parties, holidays or just every day home decor.

DIY Custom Word Art Tutorial

The first thing we need to do is create our base letters.  I used CEREAL boxes to do this.  Now, you could probably purchase chipboard to do this, but I would guess you would want the deep cut blade, which I didn't have at the time, and I really didn't want to spend money, so recycling to the rescue.

Once you have cut off the front and back of the cereal box, you will need to select your font and letter size.  You can find the fonts and sizes for the art I created here: Cherish, Love, Adore.

When you go to cut out the letters the Cricut will ask you to select the material, you can see from the first picture that I put the dial on the mark just past Poster Board.  This will double cut the letters and I found it worked perfectly.  You will want to cut out three sets of letters from the cereal boxes.

Once your letters are cut I used mod podge to glue them together.  You can also use hot glue or any other kind of glue really.  I wanted mine really sturdy and thick so I opted for mod podge.  My biggest tip with mod podge is to use wax paper on your work surface, especially when you leave the letters to dry.  The glue won't stick to the wax paper and you don't have to worry about tearing your letters.  So, put a thin, even coat of glue on your first letter.  Place the second letter on top.  Repeat for the third letter.  Cover with a second piece of wax paper, place a book and/or other flat heavy object on top to help the letters dry flat and stick all the layers together as it dries.  Do this for all your letters.  Once your letters are dry, you can decorate them however you want.

I chose to cover one word with moss.  I used reindeer moss I found at the dollar store.  I cut the pieces of moss up finely with scissors so that the pieces were small enough to allow the detail of the letters to show.  I put the moss in a shallow plastic box.  I cut out a set of letters from some green paper that closely matched the moss, just in case there were some holes once the moss was applied and trimmed.  I used mod podge to glue the paper to the letter.
Once the letter was ready I took my first letter, put a thick layer of mod podge on it and then placed it face/glue side down in the moss, press gently.  When I pulled the letter out, I found a couple spots that still had glue exposed.  I used my hands to pick up some moss and pressed it into those spots.  Then I set aside the letter to dry overnight.  When I came back, the letter wasn't very recognizable, so I turned it over and took some short, sharp scissors and cut around the edges.  I tried to keep the scissors perpendicular to the letter and it trimmed up nicely.

For the LOVE letters I wanted to add dimension and lots of texture.  I decided to use a small rolled flower.  You can find the cricut file here.  Again I prepped the letters by cutting out a set of letters in the color of paper (cream in this case) that I was using for the flowers and glued it to the letters.
Once you have your flower spiral cut, you simply start rolling at the outer edge.  Try to keep the bottom, or straight edge, of the flower even.  Once it's all the way rolled, I released the flower to let it relax a bit.  I took some of my blush colored paint and added it to the center and edges of the petals.  While you have the paint out, use your brush to add a bit to the edges of your letters also.  After the paint dried, I put a bit of hot glue on the flat center part of the flower and pressed it to the bottom of the flower.  *tip: on some of my flowers, I re-rolled them so they would be tighter.  Hold the flower rolled with one hand while you add the glue so it doesn't get too relaxed.  Be careful, the glue is hot. ;)  Once all my flowers were glued, I positioned them on my letters how I wanted then glued them down.

For my last letter set, I merged the letters so it was all one word.  To do this, add text to your file in Cricut Design Space and then decrease the spacing between the letters in the Edit window until the letters are touching, then select them all and use the Weld option.  This will keep the letters straight on the bottom.  I cut the word out of blush paper and glued it to the word.  The last step was to put glue on the top half of the word and add glitter.  Pretty simple.

Now that our words are ready, lets's make art!  

For the base of my word art, I used 5 gallon paint stir sticks.  I'm all about cost effective on this one. :)  I cut my sticks to 16, 14 and 12 inches, sanded and then painted them.  When dry, lay the letters on top of the base so you know how to space them.  Then, I like to run some hot glue on the base where the letter will be resting and place the letter into the glue, holding it perpendicular (straight up and down) to the base while it cools and hardens.  If you need more glue for stability, I add more to the back.  *tip:  I have found it works better to put the glue on the base and not the letter, it just goes up the sides of the letters a bit better.

I originally thought to use wooden candlesticks for the bases of these, but as I was thinking about how to make them more "woodsy" I came up with the idea to use branches and sticks instead.  Luckily my sister had the perfect branch in her back yard that was already falling out of her tree and we just gathered a handful of sticks from the ground.  The base for the word LOVE was really just trial and error, I tied the sticks together and just moved them around until it created a sort of tri-pod that I just wedged the letters into.  Then I cut the branches to the sizes I needed for the look I wanted with the other two words.  I used a couple of left over sticks and flowers to add an accent to the other side.

I already have plans for more of these fun words, look for some Halloween inspired word art next week!  What words would you like to make?

xoxo,
Amy

And finally, I just want to let you know about a new contest Cricut has going on:


Enter the Cricut-I Made It! Contest 
Because It’s Time to Make It Big


It’s time your creativity pays off so you can really make it.  Cricut has just announced the second phase of the Cricut - I Made It! contest and this time they’re awarding one winner their own Make it Now project line to be sold in Cricut Design Space™!

To help create your line, Cricut will fly you to their headquarters in Salt Lake City to work side-by-side with their design team.  Then you and a guest will enjoy an all-expense paid stay at the Grand America Hotel – a luxury resort in Salt Lake City, home to the best skiing in the world.

The winner will be featured on Cricut.com and every time a Cricut user purchases your project, you’ll earn money.  Cha-ching! Cricut will even help with your publicity.

Cricut is upping the fame game even more…camera, lights, action….

Cricut has partnered with the The Design Network - a premier online design channel – to showcase the Cricut- I Made It! winner this fall. You’ll get a spotlight feature on a network dedicated to celebrating great designers and their creative star power.

Cricut’s judges, including DIY Diva Alison Deyette and two creative directors from Cricut, will pick 50 finalists from the best project entries based on creativity, use of materials and technique.  Who will pick the ultimate winner? You, the public, will vote online in October.

To enter the Cricut - I Made It! contest, all you need is a photo of an original project. You can upload up to five photos (which can be five individual projects or multiple photos of one project).
You have until September 30th to enter.  What are you waiting for? It’s time you Made It big! Head to cricut.com to enter today.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Leather Headband

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fashion isn't normally my thing.  So when I was given the opportunity to participate in Cricut's Design Space Star challenge, I was a little wary.  But, pushing myself is one thing I love to do, and I have been dying to play with the new Explore for a while, so I went for it.
What I came up with were these fun leather headbands.  I used my Explore, thin leather, colored elastic and some fabric scraps to create this colorful accessory.

 I had so much fun, I made two different versions.  If you have a Cricut Explore you can find the file for the chevron headband here, and the file for the triangle headband is here.  I'm sure there were more sophisticated ways to create the headbands than what I did, but that's what I love about this new Design Space software- you can do what works for you.  You can upload your own files, use the files purchased from Cricut- or a combination of the two.  With so many options, the possibilities are endless!
Because the leather I used was so thin, and because my mat was brand new, I didn't purchase anything new for this project.  However, if your mat isn't super sticky anymore, or your leather is softer or thicker- you will probably want to purchase the super sticky mat, and a deep cut blade.
Once you cut out your headband,  you will simply glue a scrap of fabric to the back to cover the openings.

The last step is to tie elastic to the ends.  Super easy.  I purchased the leather and the elastic from Hobby Lobby.  The leather was a remnant bag so it's hit and miss what you'll find in it, but it was pretty inexpensive, especially when I used my coupon.  The elastic was over by the ribbons and trims in the fabric department.  They had a couple of widths and lots of colors.  I like the thicker 1/4" elastic better because it seems to hold better on my head, but the 1/8" worked too.
You'll want to figure out the length of elastic to tie on based on who is going to be wearing it.  You don't want the elastic too tight or it will slide off, but you don't want it too loose either.  I'd shoot for a bit longer than you think, because it's easier to tie it tighter than to make it longer.


And that's it.  A simple project, but one that makes a BIG statement.

So, my question for you is, are you big into fashion or are you like me and avoid it at all costs? ;)

xoxo,
Amy
**Disclosure:  I was given a Cricut Explore so that I could participate in the Design Star contest.  I am not compensated for the posts, but could be eligible for cash prizes.  The opinions and projects are all mine.
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