December 29, 2010

I finally took the time to sign up for Amazon Mom. Then I did the Subscribe and Save for my Huggies Diapers that I usually get at Costco. Just getting a Amazon Prime for 3 months free was amazing, but then saving 30% off on my Diapers when I subscribe to save?! AWESOME!

Of course, then you add the Amazon employee discount (We didn't have much left this year after our Christmas Shopping). Could it get any better?

Yup, I had a 20% off Diapers Coupon (for one unit) from Parents Magazine. (I subscribed to it on Tanga for $4.99 for 3 years.)

$.128 per diaper! For Huggies! A total savings of 46% for one box!
I pay $.208 per Diaper at Costco for Huggies.

Want the breakdown?

Huggies Size 4 (140 ct)

Item(s) Subtotal:$33.59
Shipping & Handling:$0.00
30% Subscribe and Save Promotion Applied:-$10.08
(What was left of) Employee Discount:-$0.39
 20% Parents Magazine Promotion Applied:-$6.72
-----
Total Before Tax:$16.40
Estimated Tax To Be Collected:$1.56
-----
Grand Total:$17.96

Have I convinced you yet? Click the button below, head on over and Subscribe to save on your Diapers!!! (P.S. You don't have to be a Mom to sign up.)

December 23, 2010

Today I went shopping. Just for the sake of it. I had no last minute Christmas Shopping to do, no stress, no rush in the store. You see, my Christmas shopping is all done, my crafts are all made, and half of my presents are wrapped. Anyhow, I went shopping for myself, bought myself a nice rain coat with a removable lining. I really like it.

Then I came home and decided to make something for my Young Women that I love. I teach the Mia Maids and I love to tease them that they're "My Maids". Of course, I love them way too much to force them to do my dirty work. I saw this really cool saying over on Sensationally Chic Boutique and I just had to make it. (She has an SVG file available for download.) I decided to make it into an 8x10 poster instead though. Here it is below. I'm going to put it in a white frame for them.

The "Inn" Crowd Christmas Artwork
(To Download the 8x10 size - click on the image to access it on Flickr, then click on "Download the Original Size of this photo")

Of course, after making the poster, I had to cut the words in black for the extra glass block I've had sitting around forever. Yes, that means that I'm going to share the image with all of you! You can download it here!

Silhouette Inn Crowd Free File

*Update: You will need to have these fonts installed on your computer in order to have this exact look:
XMasTerpiece Swashes available on dafont.com for "Inn" and "Stable"
Birch Std for the rest of the words. This is an Adobe font which you can purchase here or use Latinia from dafont.com for a very similar look.

As with all my free shared files, these are for Personal Use Only. Please share photos of your projects made from these files in my Flickr Pool Maggie Muggins Designs In Action.

I have so many things to share with you that I've made. Of course, I can't post a lot of it because I have family that reads this! I won't be posting again for a while - it's Christmas, I'm going to spend time with my family making memories. So Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

December 20, 2010

Over a month ago I cleared out my closet of clothes I haven't worn in a long time or I was just bored with. A large bag went to our Value Village, but some of it stayed here, in another bag. It's yet another stash of fabric for me to have fun with. Only, this is more fun because I feel like it's free fabric so if I mess up it doesn't really matter.

The first thing to come out of the pile was this brown sweater. I was looking through the bag just looking for ideas and this one just seemed perfect for a Gingerbread man. I found some images, played around and created a pattern. Then I got to work cutting and sewing.

Gingerbread Boy

Wouldn't this be a perfect to wrap up with a book about The Gingerbread Man? My oldest son just about freaked when he saw his. His Gingerbread Man is currently running away from the Mean Witch (his cross between The Gingerbread Man and Hansel and Gretel).

Unlike a wool sweater that can be felted to make a cute stuffed animal, this one was machine washable, and had been shrunk already. It had a lot of stretch so in order to make it work, and look cute, I cut out a light-weight fusible interfacing and ironed it on the back. This will hold the fabric so it looks like a nice sweater and isn't stretched by the stuffing. You would probably want to do the same for any stretchy material.

I cut four gingerbread men from one sweater. I made two boys and two girls. The girls I made to match the outfits I'm giving my husband's nieces. The boys are for my sons.

Of course, I couldn't post this in the month of December and not share the pattern with you. Fresh off the press - you can get your own PDF copy of the pattern here: Gingerbread Man Pattern, Gingerbread Girl Pattern (Or you can download the pattern images below from Flickr.)

Without making you wait any longer - here are my instructions and photos:

Gingerbread Man Pattern


Gingerbread Girl Pattern

*The pattern is made for 8.5"x11" print but you can shrink it or enlarge it as much as desired.

1. Cut the pattern out of the fabric. Cut interfacing for both sides if the material is stretchy. (If you don't have interfacing you could also use a light-weight cotton fabric.)

Cutting out Gingerbread Man

2. Iron on the interfacing.

Interfacing on Gingerbread Man


3. Pin right sides together. At this point, I pinned on the inner part of the pattern (dotted lines) to be my guide. It made it easier to sew and the final product looks a lot better. You could also trace the sewing guide onto one side.

Sewing the Gingerbread Man

4. Following the sewing guide, sew around the outside leaving about a 1.5 inch opening at the bottom to pull the Gingerbread Man through.

Opening left on Gingerbread Man

5. Clip the parts in between the neck and head close to the seam, trim excess fabric - then pull the right side of the Gingerbread Man out through the opening.

BEFORE
Finished Stitching inside Gingerbread Man

AFTER
Clip Seams on Gingerbread Man

6. Stuff the Gingerbread Man and sew the opening closed.

Stuff the Gingerbread Man

Hand-stitch Gingerbread Man closed

6. Sew on the details using your imagination. I've given you a guide on the pattern, but don't let that limit you. Buttons for eyes, ric-rac around the arms and legs for that "frosted" look, red yarn for the mouth to look like licorice, bright buttons and a bow tie, ruffle trim and a hair bow for a girl, whatever your heart desires.

The girls ruffles were about 3/4-1" wide. I cut the entire width of the fabric and then cut that into 4 even pieces. I gathered the ruffles as I stitched the fabric on. It was really easy. The fabric is a non-fray nylon chiffon I purchased here.

Gingerbread Girl

The Gingerbread Girls are for my husband's nieces. They are also getting cute little brown and pink tops that I found and skirts that I'm making. So I decided to use some of the fabric from the skirt and put ruffles on the girls. Adorable, no? I wish I could be there when they are opened.

Gingerbread Girls with Ruffles

Here are all the ones I made:

All Gingerbread Men

Linking up to these parties:
BWS tips button

Creations by Kara
I've been meaning to share these tips with you for a few weeks. I just had someone email me to ask if I'd found a solution to vinyl shifting. (Thanks Meadowlark!) I'm posting my reply to her in order to help others out there who have this same problem.

{Silhouette Carrier Sheet Img Src}

My Silhouette would work to cut vinyl on a carrier sheet but not when I cut it without the sheet. I have wasted a ton of vinyl and messed up a lot in the year I've had my machine. Unfortunately all the reading I did on the Silhouette site didn't provide an answer. But I did my research and here is what I discovered:

PROBLEM 1 (An obvious, but easy mistake)
The vinyl is not being loaded straight and by the end of a long cut the sheet is on an angle in the carrier. This is usually caused by the vinyl sheet not being square.

Vinyl not Square


SOLUTION: Cut the vinyl sheet so it's square. Make sure you load the sheet in perpendicular to the cutting strip. Feed it all the way to the end of the cutting strip when loaded and make sure it's flush. If you're worried still - manually roll the vinyl sheet the entire length of the cut through the machine and back. Watch that the vinyl sheet doesn't come out from under the pinch rollers at all.

Squaring the Vinyl Sheet

PROBLEM 2 (#1 issue for me)
The cut vinyl lifts and catches on the roller, the knife, or the metal bar behind the cutting strip and then, because it's stuck, shifts the whole sheet as it moves.


SOLUTION: I do one of four things to prevent the vinyl from lifting and catching:
  1. Adjust the thickness of the cut down one at a time.
  2. Adjust the speed of the cut down. Sometimes all the way to three. Then I watch as I cut and push down any little pieces that pop up if possible. It's a little work, but it's saved me vinyl.
    Silhouette Adjust Speed Thickness
  3. Adjust the size of the image being cut so that it is slightly larger. This is especially helpful for detailed images or script style fonts. (Of course, when the size is restricted, this option isn't possible.)
    Silhouette Resize Image
  4. Make sure there are no bubbles in the vinyl. This will sometimes cause it to pick up.

PROBLEM 3 (#2 issue issue for me)
The vinyl sheet itself gets caught on something, this may be because it has been rolled up and isn't completely flat or it gets caught on the table. I never really know for sure.


SOLUTION: I leave the vinyl on the roll when I cut it. I never would have thought of this idea, but I got the idea from the Silhouette blog itself. I saw the idea in this post. I wondered if it would help or not. It did, I've had so much more success cutting this way. The vinyl roll just rolls back and forth easily and actually works so well.

Keep Vinyl on the Roll to Cut


PROBLEM 4
The vinyl isn't flat on the sheet (ie. it has bubbles in it) and that causes the vinyl to shift (not the sheet, but the actual vinyl) as it's being cut and mess up the image.

Bubbles in Vinyl

SOLUTION: Look at the entire sheet and make sure there aren't bubbles or spots where it doesn't lay flat. Especially if it's older vinyl, or vinyl that hasn't been stored nicely on a roll like the Silhouette has. What actually happens is the vinyl itself shifts on the sheet, and part of the image gets shifted. This can also be the cause for problem #1 because the vinyl lifts easier.


PROBLEM 5
The pinch rollers aren't tight enough so the vinyl isn't being gripped tight enough to not shift. This is more likely on an older or well used machine.

Silhouette Parts

SOLUTION: To test how secure the rollers are, feed a vinyl sheet into the machine and then grab on the end and pull at it on an angle. (If you pull it straight the roll It should be quite difficult to shift at all. If it shifts easily you will have to contact Silhouette for support on repairs.

Test Pinch Rollers

Hopefully this will answer a few of your questions and help you to be able to cut long sheets of vinyl.

This is a cut I made today. A 33" long sheet. The "r" in thrill got caught on the knife - so I patiently waited until I was able to grab it off. I cut a new "r" and lined it up with the words as best I could. The points on the star lifted when cut, but I was able to push them down and they didn't cause me any problems!

A Thrill of Hope...

December 6, 2010

Last Christmas our son got a play kitchen. It was a simple, cheap one. We gave him some toy food and other baking supplies too. Of course, every little chef needs a hat so I had to make him one. This is a really simple gift to make, and the kids have so much fun with it!

I used this free pattern for the Chef's Hat and it turned out adorable. The pattern is really basic and was not difficult to follow.

Play Chef Hat

I also made some play Oven Mitts. I can't find the free pattern that I used, but here is a pattern for a similar one. Instead of quilting this like some patterns make you do, I just used fusible fleece on the back of the outer fabric and didn't do a second layer. These were for play and the fleece is nice and soft!

Play Oven Mitts

This blogger has a great idea for making play Oven Mitts from Dollar store ones. You could use the pattern above, or just trace your child's hand to get a good pattern.

The complete set:

Play Oven Mitts and Chef Hat

Wouldn't this make a great Christmas gift?! If I have time I might whip some up to go with the aprons my nieces are getting!

December 1, 2010

For a recent ward Super Saturday I cut the vinyl for these cute blocks. This was the girls sample that I took a picture of so I actually used different fonts.

Families are Forever Vinyl Blocks

Seeing as it's December and Christmas is coming I'm in a giving mood and can't give my Christmas gifts until much later this month. So instead - I'm sharing with everyone out there. You can go HERE to download my Silhouette file. (It is set up for two sets per 13 inches.)

*This file is for personal use only. Feel free to link to this post directly, but this file is not to be shared or distributed in any other way.*

The letters for "Forever" are mixed up for sizing, which doesn't matter anyways because you're applying them separately.

*I've finally posted the blog sizes for you to make this. You can find that post HERE.

Basic Directions:
  1. Sand and clean blocks, then paint them. Allow to dry.
  2. Cut paper for each block, mod podge on to the front and allow to dry.
  3. Apply the vinyl lettering.
  4. Add any other desired embellishments.

November 29, 2010

Several months ago CSN Stores contacted me asking me to do a review on my blog. I was hesitant. I didn't want my blog to become grand central station for advertising - which has happened to many blogs I like. But I confess, I did like the idea of getting something courtesy of CSN.

I went online and checked out their products. They have millions of products in their 100's of stores. I found a few products that I was interested in and felt worked for my blog. I narrowed that list down to one really awesome product I wanted to try out.

After receiving my code to place my order I noticed that the product was out of stock. I was disappointed, but I decided to wait. Nearly a month went by and the re-stock date was pushed back twice. Finally, I decided to spend more time searching on the site for something else. But I really wanted the original product. So I waited another month, and saw the date pushed back a few more times. Finally, I purchased something else. The Golla Lynne Camera Bag. I really needed a good camera bag and this one seemed like it would be the right size.

The package arrived and I was so excited!

Camera Bag - In the Box

Camera Bag - Arrived

The reason I liked this bag online was for the colors and the pretty design. Seeing it in person did not disappoint. It is so cute.

Camera Bag - Outside

The bag closes with a magnetic clasp. While I did like this, my husband the tech geek did mention that magnets are not good for the memory cards that most cameras need now, so I will be careful not to store my cards in the front near the magnets.

Camera Bag - Magnetic Clasp

There is a side strap to hold the flap down. It's nice when I'm walking and shifting the bag a lot.

Camera Bag - Side Strap

The front pocket is good to store cleaning supplies, UV filters, and I have my battery charger in there.

Camera Bag - Front Pocket

The inside has two padded adjustable inner walls to store and protect extra lenses, the flash, or whatever else you might want. Honestly, once I get my flash, and extra lens in there and the camera it's already starting to get tight. I am going to play with the arrangement. But when I'm doing shoots I usually only need two lenses, so it's a great size.

The inner fabric is really soft and smooth!

Camera Bag - Inside

I used the bag on my last shoot and just wore it over my shoulder the whole time. The strap is non-slip so as I moved around the bag didn't shift or get in my way. It was really nice.

I love the bag and would purchase it again given the choice. It works really well for my style and was really comfortable, not to mention it is one that actually looks good.

As for CSN I liked several things about the site:
  1. They have a lot of help for searching their stores. You can narrow the search down to the specific price you're willing to pay, choose your favorite brands, size, or colors - even shipping time! It depends on what you are looking at what search options you have.
  2. They have hundreds of products and stores to search through.
Now here's where I get completely honest - despite the fact that they sponsored this review. There were some things that really did not impress me about CSN:
  1. Their stores. For me, it made the entire site more confusing. For example: AllModern.com is just another CSN Store. Their stores are like trumped up departments in my mind. But once you get into a store there's not an easy way to search all of the stores. You have to go back to the main site, or go to a different store. I think for me it just complicates things more. I understand the division but some way of unifying it all makes more sense to me.
  2. I was disappointed that the product I wanted took over two months to be back in stock. (On a side note, they did send me a 10% off my next purchase as an apology just because I was on the email list for it.)
  3. For me, the companies biggest downfall is their prices. I'm a bargain shopper and always search for the best deal. I liked a lot of their products, but even with a credit to purchase from their store, I still couldn't justify a product that I could get $20 cheaper on another site. (I'm talking the exact same thing too, not some cheaper version.) The Golla Camera Bag was the first product that I found after hours of searching that was not cheaper somewhere else.
So while I love my new Camera Bag and am grateful to CSN Stores for their generosity, I confess I was not overly impressed with CSN. It was too overwhelming and too costly for me. I'll be sticking with Amazon.com.
My son is in love with trains. As is evidenced by the constant jungle of tracks running across his bedroom floor. Maybe someday we'll get a train table. For now I can often be found building contraptions like this:

Thomas Train Layout

Yes, he has a ton of track, and no it was not all purchased new. Thank Heaven for Craigslist! What cost us $150 would have been nearly $1,000 if purchased new.

A while back I wanted to make my train lover a special blanket to snuggle up with - when reading books, watching TV, or for naps. I had been making a lot of projects for other people and he asked me to make him something. (More like begged, hoping each new project was something for him.)

While at Walmart one day I found this pre-quilted panel. It's about the size of a baby quilt, but it was trains so I bought it and some extra fabric that matched perfectly.

I love that it was pre-quilted and I had very little work to do!

Pre-Quilted Train Quilt

I originally had plans to make it much larger, doing several rows of squares around the edge, but I decided to keep it simple. I did a 3 inch border of the back fabric on the front and a bright green minkee on the back. Then I just finished that with some bias tape. My one regret is not using a blue thread for the top-stitching. I think it would have looked better.

It was so easy and I think it looks so cute. Most importantly - my son loves it and loves that I made something especially for him.

The Front:

Train Quilt Front

Train Quilt Front Border

The Back:

Train Quilt Back

Train Quilt Back Border

November 27, 2010

It's not even December yet, and I am so excited to announce that I have 3 gifts left to purchase and a few more stocking stuffers. I have a few simple things left to make, but most gifts are finished. I hope to be finished by the end of next week! How did I do it? I have to admit, while I can take credit for the shopping I can not take full credit for being so organized. You see, I have a super organized husband. Every year after Christmas he creates a new spreadsheet for Christmas next year. Here's what it looks like (of course, this is not the complete list and it's edited to ):

Our Christmas List
Family Individual Giver      Gifts/Ideas Cost Purchase/Make Received/Finished Wrapped Delivered
Reno Monkey1 Mom and Dad PJ's $5 P R X
Monkey1 Santa Mac Truck Race Track $20 P
Monkey2 Mom and Dad Warm Buddy $25 P R X
Monkey2 Monkey1 Zhu Zhu Pet $4 P R
Reno Grandma All of us Yeah Right N/A M R X

I hope that makes sense for all of you.

Now, it's not just that he creates this list to help us stay organized, but he has it stored in Google Docs and shared with me. It's an awesome way for us to keep it truly up-to-date and on hand at all times. He can even access it from his phone when we're out shopping! ( No forgetting we already got something.)

Anyhow, I love that with 100's of days left until Christmas (well, more like 364) we already are writing down ideas for next year. That and when we think of something - we pull up the doc and enter it. Now, some of those ideas are scratched when we find great deals on something awesome, or when the idea just doesn't seem right anymore, but it's awesome to see the list slowly come together, things get ordered, purchased, and projects finished.

Another bonus is when I can look over the list while wrapping and shipping and make sure everything that needs to be in the package is there! If you haven't already sat down and made yourself a list - do it.

The fact that I can look over my list, see all of the things I have to make, and start getting ready early is awesome. (I am a procrastinator at heart, but I refuse to let that habit ruin our Christmas.) That means two things:
  1. I usually have way too much to make and get stressed. Of course looking at the list I can tell when it's too much so I eliminate some of those things by watching for deals.This year our PJ's were purchased. The boys were $5 each and ours to coordinate were about $14.
  2. There were some things I just really wanted to make so I started watching early for good deals. I can't wait to show you some of the gifts I have made.
Honestly though, the best part of all is how much money I save this way. I always watch for sales on specific items and when I'm reading my coupon blogs, check back to my list when an item catches my eye that is amazing. This year I got four gifts for free and only paid for shipping. These would have cost over $200, and while there's no way I would have got that gift at it's regular price I still saved about $20 per gift when I consider the other item I would have got them.

November 25, 2010

We just had a wonderful Thanksgiving at home. This was our first time with just us and the kids and I loved it. I am so thankful for my wonderful family. My husband, who never ceases to be wonderful, helped so much with much needed organizing today. We finally cleared away junk from our bedroom. Our boys were so much fun. They played, danced, sang, and laughed most of the day away. They love having their Dad home. Although the food was fantastic, delicious, and perfect, it was not my favorite part of the day.

I hope you all had a special day with ones you love. Now to finish my last few Christmas gifts. I have very little left to do, and it feels great! Good luck with your black Friday Shopping. I will probably be staying in the comforts of my own home shopping on Amazon.com. So much easier!


November 22, 2010

I love shopping to craft stores and fabric stores for inspiration. But when it comes to my card designs there are few stores to shop at for inspiration. Hence, it is common for me to be caught browsing through designs of several print media sites. One of my favorite go-to sites is Shutterfly.com. It's jam-pack full of eye candy for the designer to get inspiration. I often go there first before heading to some digital scrapbook store to look for fun papers or kits. Have you seen their beautiful cards yet? Well then, I must share a few:



Aren't they beautiful?

This Holiday Season, as I prepare for a simple Thanksgiving, and our first Christmas at home with the kids I'm trying to keep as many things easy as possible. That's why, for the first time, I'm going to use a Holiday Card that someone else designed!

I love that Shutterfly has Christmas Photo Cards of so many varying styles. Of course, it can make choosing one specific one hard. There are young and playful, modern, chic, elegant and classy. I have to admit though, this year I'm really finding myself attracted to some very simplistic styles.

I really like the cards that are mostly photo with a simple, yet striking, embellishment. Like these ones:





Of course, I like ones where the message and photo are more separated too:




I also really like the idea of having a group of photos on the card, like this one:


Which ones do you like?

I'm so excited with all the options I have to choose from. Of course, now that I've chosen my favorites, I have  to see how it will look with our recent family photos. It's so much fun to browse the pages and get ideas.


Disclosure Statement:

This post is a review for Shutterfly as part of their Holiday Card Promotion. For participating I will be compensated with 50 free cards from their Holiday Collection. If you have any size blog or website and would like to participate you can go here to sign up.