August 23, 2010

I'm excited to let you know that I'll soon be doing a review for CSN stores. Until I was contacted by them I had only read about the site, but never actually visited it. Of course, immediately after they invited me to do a review I took the time to look over their site. They have all sorts of stores like Dining Room Tables in their furniture section, Wall Art in their home decor section, and Flooring in their home improvement section.  With over 200 stores to shop at and more than 1 million items it was easy for me to find a few items I'll be adding to my wishlists.


The store that first caught my attention was Toys and Games. I appreciate their different categories: Baby & Toddler, Outdoor, Doll & Doll Houses, and especially the Toddler Development Toys in their Baby & Toddler section.

(Screen shot of the Toddler Development section.)

As a Mom with little time I appreciate things like their search functions that make it way easier for me to narrow down a search based on price, type, price range, and even Shipping Speed (for those last minute items)! I'm excited for you to see the product I review and how I will be using it in my home. So watch out soon for a post about a fun new product! Any guesses what it will be?!

August 20, 2010

Eep! A few weeks ago I received a comment on this photo in my Flickr Pool:


Vancouver LDS Temple

It read: 

"Great photo!
We invite you to join others who are sharing their talents to build a photo library for the Church and Church members to use.
You can share it in the group Official LDS Church Call for Photos
If you decide to participate and share this photo in the group, you will receive Flickrmail instructions on submitting the original photo directly to the Church."
I was surprised. Me? The church wants to use my photo? Wow! I'm not a pro by any stretch of the imagination so I honestly was in shock for a few minutes. Don't worry, it hasn't got to my head or anything. It was just really nice.
So last week I joined the group and linked up the photo. Then this week I received a Flickrmail saying that my photo had been selected and explaining to me how to send it. I'm so excited for the chance to help my church increase their photo library!
Over 3 years ago as I planned the nursery for my first little guy I really wanted to make him a blanket. I found the Zanzibar Crib Bedding at a store and wished I had the money to buy it. Well, we actually could afford it, but being frugal was more important at the time. So I looked into making my own. Of course, I wanted the cute appliqu├ęd or embroidered look of the packaged quilts, but without doing all that work.


(This is not my nursery, it's a stock photo to show you the bedding set I wanted. I'll be posting about my whole nursery soon and then we'll talk about why I think this room above is awful.)

I went home and dreamed about the baby, the bedding, and his cute nursery. Finally I went back to the store and bought the valance from the set for $20. I had a brilliant idea. I then went to the fabric store and spent about $30 on fabric and went home. That night I carefully picked apart the valance. Then I measured and designed a quilt on paper. Over that week I cut and pieced together the top of a soft, cute quilt. It was perfect!

My First Quilt

But then I stopped. I didn't have the slightest clue how to quilt. The top came together easily, but how did I do the rest? This was my first quilt ever. Then life got busy, I had my son, and caved and bought the bedding set.

Finally, last month I finished the quilt. My son is almost 3 1/2 years old! I've had the opportunity to learn more about quilting, and gained a little experience. When I pulled out the top I was a little surprised at how well things lined up for my first quilt ever. My second quilt did not go as well.

My First Quilt

Anyhow, I had planned to use the extra pieces from the valance to make a bumper and then use co-ordinating fabric for a crib skirt. Although I quit under pressure, I think this could have worked well. I actually like the home-made quilt better. It's a little bit lighter weight and wraps around my baby better.

My First Quilt

For those of you who feel overwhelmed by applique and embroidery this is definitely the way to go!

August 16, 2010

A while back when my nephew visited, we made a quick Freezer Paper T-Shirt. I love how easy this is to do. I Am Momma Hear Me Roar has a great tutorial for Freezer Paper Stencils. I make it easier for myself and cut the Freezer Paper with my Silhouette.

We used two colors so we had to iron on the freezer paper, stencil, let it dry, and repeat. My nephew described what he wanted, then we searched for images, chose a cool font and had a lot of fun making this.

I've been following The CSI Project since it began. It's a link party challenge. Each week they have a different theme and you link up projects that go along with it. Last week was Kids Crafts and I linked up two of my projects. The Chalk Mat and the Tool Box. The Chalk Mat made it to the Top 10! I just had to share!

August 14, 2010

The last few weeks have been long. We had two sick children - the baby was just more clingy than normal but didn't have too many symptoms, so I didn't really realize how sick he was. He demanded our shoulder, lap, or our bed to sleep on. We thought we should start sleep training - which ended up making the matter worse. It was a long week for the baby. Not only was he sick, he cut two teeth. One Thursday, one Friday. Poor boy.


The older boy was hospitalized for croup. His breathing was so bad. I was afraid he was going to get Pneumonia. I had it around his age. He's so much better now, but still tired and whiny.






In one last effort to have a decent night sleep I went out and bought a Cradle n Swing by Fisher Price a week and a half ago. I finally could put the baby down. His naps in there last for hours. Not just a brief half-hour or small spurt. He'll sleep with people talking around him, brother playing, and even the TV on. Ah, sweetness. Worth Every Penny! Trust me!


My only regret? Not buying a swing a long time ago. Maybe once teething is over he'll sleep better in his crib, but for now - I'm loving the swing.
This week I had a baby shower to get ready for. Of course with so much to do in preparation for the shower, I didn't finish the actual gift. So I quickly whipped up a Pink Hedgehog. Of course, I didn't have a Pink Car Wash Mitt for making Girl Hedgehogs, so I was lucky to find a Chenille Shag Pillow at Burlington Coat Factory. My husband was very sad to see me rip that soft, plush pillow apart. It was a very comfy pillow. I've since searched online and found a replacement for them in a color that will fit in more in our house. I'm pretty sure I'll get Sage:


I'm going to work on new covers for the existing pillows on our couch soon using some fabric from Joel Dewberry's Ginseng line:


Isn't his fabric gorgeous? I am looking forward to seeing it on my couch!

Back to the Chenille Shag Fabric. You'll be surprised where you can find it. Just the other day at my friends house I saw it on her bath mat. The shag (aka fingers) are a little longer than on the mitt, but it's still super cute! The only problem would be matching fabric for the head.

August 11, 2010

When I hear the word stash my mind immediately goes to the large piles of fabric hidden away in my craft closet. Ahh, sweet love. I'm addicted to fabric.

But lately, when I hear stash my mind has been jumping to another version of the word. The STACHE. I'd say it's because of Detective Stark from The Good Guys. But it's so not. Although he had me laughing while saying things like "smarty-phones" and "CSI stuff is like black magic." NO, he's not the reason I'm thinking of the Stache.

This post is. I've been reading Cheri's I am Momma Hear Me Roar for some time now. I've even used one of her great ideas before. But this, this is too cute. A Little Man Tea Party is one of her latest awesome ideas she used as an entry in So You Think You're Crafty. I saw this post and just new I had to have this party. And I'm already planning it.


In the mall the other day I found Finger Staches. So I picked up them and some other adhesive ones in preparation. I've already got invitation designs in mind. I can't wait to share the pictures with you and tell you all about it!


Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a mother of boys? It's awesome!

August 10, 2010

I've been busy working on several things. I'm editing photos from some recent photo shoots, I finished a new diaper bag, and I'm assisting in planning a shower.

Today I wanted to show you some fun I've been having in Photoshop. I bought some actions a while back from Totally Rad Actions. I really like their color variations and had to try them out. The other day I was playing around with the image below and was amazed by the difference an action can make on a photo. Next time I will remember names of the actions I use (aka Recipe).


Original

Rings in Bouquet

More Vibrant

Rings in Bouquet

Vintage Look

Rings in Bouquet

Black and White

Rings in Bouquet

This last one is my absolute favorite. I think it's stunning in Black and White. I love that it took only one click of a button to do all that work for me too. Actions are awesome!
I've briefly mentioned my Silhouette Digital Craft Cutter in some recent blog posts. I have owned my machine for just about a year. I can't begin to tell you how much I love this machine. Lately, thanks to many blog giveaways the Silhouette has been getting a lot of well deserved publicity. Many bloggers have shown you their projects and told you all about their love of the machine. While I wish I had a Silhouette to give away, I don't. But I'm still going to tell you why I like the Silhouette. Of course, I will be comparing it the Cricut - a good machine in it's own right, but just not as good. So here are the reasons I love my machine:

1. DESIGN SOFTWARE INCLUDED
The Silhouette comes with the easy-to-use software to cut Silhouette images exactly how you want to. You can resize them to precise measurements, edit them, weld two images together or just choose the exact location you want to cut. So while the Silhouette might seem to cost a little bit more initially ($202.11 today on Amazon.com) - you don't have to pay extra for the Design Software.

Guess what else you can do in that Software?
Cut any font on your computer or one of the 100's of FREE ones available online.
Cut your own images, photos, or one that you download for FREE online.




2. CUT DIRECTLY FROM ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR OR COREL DRAW
For some of you this may mean nothing. For those of you with these programs you know what that means. Any vector image you have can now be played around with and cut. Silhouette does not actually provide the plug-in for this, but CraftRobo, the maker of the Silhouette machine does. You can download the plug-in here: Cutting Master 2 ROBO. It's super easy to use once you install it.


3. NO CARTRIDGES
Silhouette has 100's of amazing images available to purchase online. They have a fabulous design team that seems to be constantly growing. And you don't need a cartridge to cut. You don't even need the SD card that the machine takes, unless you are away from your computer. I think the cartridges are what frustrated me the most about the Cricut. I know of few people that buy a cartridge for all or the images on it. So while the cost per image ($0.99) might not seem that much less than a Cricut Cartridge, the benefit of only purchasing images I WANT and WILL USE far outweighs the cost every time. Then consider these benefits:
  • No trips to the store for new images - they're all available online!
  • Your friends are more likely to buy the images they want you to cut for them.
  • It is WAY easier to justify $1 to your husband for something you will use. My husband would agree with that too.
  • They have a free image on their site every week!

4.THE VERSATILITY
It never ceases to amaze me what I can do with my Silhouette. I've cut paper, cardstock, vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, freezer paper (for stencils on fabric) and heat 'n bond for appliques. I'm sure I've cut other stuff, I just can't think of it right now. That's not all you can do though. Silhouette has images called Sketches that "draw" using pens in the machine instead of cutting. Then there's the Rhinestone templates that make applying the perfect rhinestone image a breeze. And there's also the Print and Cut images where you can print it on cardstock, or heat transfer paper then cut it to use in your layout, on fabric, or pretty much any other way you want. Go here to see what else it can do.

5. SIZE AND WEIGHT
Not only is the Silhouette a smaller machine overall but I love the fact that it weights 4.5lbs. The Cricut weighs 9.5lbs and the Cricut Expression weighs 20lbs. Mine sits on my desk for the most part, but I could easily pop it in one of the drawers it's that small!


If you can't already tell: I love this machine. One friend of mine actually returned her recently purchased Cricut and bought a Silhouette instead. She agrees that it's just so much better. If you're looking for a more technical comparison, this chart might provide you with some insight.

BTW - Check out this awesome blinkie they have. Just in case your husband needs a little convincing:


*This post is purely my non-professional, yet experienced opinion. I am not being compensated in any way for my review of this product.

August 3, 2010

After we were told that our son was allergic to dairy I started to learn to make things from scratch and how to use substitutes. Many waffles I tried just didn't work with Soy Milk substituted in. This one, however, tasted fantastic. Since we learned that the allergy wasn't dairy I generally cheat and feed my son Eggo Waffles. A few weeks ago I pulled this recipe out and tried it again. This time with real milk. They were so delicious. Light, crispy waffle goodness. We went out for breakfast later that same week and the waffles I ordered were nothing in comparison.

Best Waffles I Ever Made

I haven't ever completely followed this recipe, so I can't say if it's better with the buttermilk called for. I just use regular 1% milk.

Light, Crisp Waffles


3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon Salt0
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 cup Buttermilk
1/4 cup Milk
6 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I use Olive Oil)
1 Egg Yolk
1 Egg White
1 Tablespoon White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F (95 degrees C). Preheat your waffle iron.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the Flour, Cornstarch, Salt, Baking Powder and Baking Soda. In a separate bowl combine the Milk, Buttermilk and Oil. Separate the Egg White from the Egg Yolk! Whisk in the egg yolk with a fork and set aside. In a small bowl, beat egg white with an electric mixer until almost soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle with sugar, while continuing to whip until thick and glossy. Stir in vanilla.
3. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, and whisk just until blended. Fold in the egg white using a spatula.
4. Our batter onto the hot waffle iron in the recommended amount for your iron. I just fill my iron to right below the edge then close it. Cook until golden brown. A good indication that it's close is that steam will stop coming out of the iron. Keep finished waffles in the warm oven directly on the rack. Stacking them will make them soggy.

FREEZING: Yes, you read that right. I freeze the left-overs in a freezer ziploc. I pull them out one at a time and toast them. My son loves it when he gets "Mommy's" waffles two or three days in a row!

Recipe source