Easy Customized Hostess Gifts - Monogrammed Tea Towels

I am a gift "hoarder" - meaning I will find inexpensive gift ideas throughout the year and hoard them in my closet until I find the perfect occasion/person for it. Thanks to my Cricut Explore Air I can customize almost anything in just a few minutes - and these clearance tea towels from Jo-Ann were no exception!

A few tips about monograms:

Single letter monograms take just a few minutes (literally!) - the hardest part is deciding on your font!

Monograms are also a great way to use your scraps...I used scraps of Cricut Iron-on Lite in Pink and Glitter Iron-on in Kelly for my monograms.

I was able to use the same mat for both monogram cuts because you can move items on your mat prior to cutting in Design Space (see below - I moved my "K" all the way to the right side of the mat in Design Space before I hit continue to cut). I didn't have to look for a second mat or remove the first monogram before I cut the second one. Time saver!

Last but not least - when using iron-on DO NOT forget to click the "mirror" tab on the left side of the screen before cutting!

And voila! In just a few minutes you've got fun custom gifts that would be perfect for any occasion.

Easy Patterned Paper Wreath

With just a few sheets of patterned paper and those "leftover" embellishments we never know what to do with you can create a fun and easy wreath that is perfect for any season!

SUPPLIES:
styrofoam wreath
Xyron Creative Station with Permanent Refill
3-4 sheets coordinating patterned paper (I used the Jillibean Soup Chit Chat Chowder collection)
coordinating embellishments
trimmer (I tried this Swingline Guillotine Trimmer - see below)
scissors
assorted adhesive

{FTC Disclaimer - this project and these opinions are mine all mine! I received some items used in this post free of charge, and this post does contain affiliate links...so I may make a few pennies if you buy something.}

Cut patterned paper in to 22-24 1.5”x12” strips. *As you may know, Xyron was recently purchased by Acco Brands, which owns a bunch of office supply companies - including Swingline. They sent me a guillotine trimmer which was perfect for this project because I was able to cut three sheets of patterned paper at a time! Gotta love a time saver!*

Run multiple strips side by side through the Creative Station (note: the pattern you want to see on the wreath is the pattern that should be facing up when you put it through the machine).

One at a time, remove the strips from the backing and loosely loop around the foam wreath.  Line up the ends and press them together BEFORE pressing the rest of the strip to itself.  The adhesive will hold the strip to the wreath.

Repeat with remaining strips, slightly overlapping each strip at the base (the part that touches the wreath). 

Once the wreath is completely covered, trim the edges of each strip at a "V" - aka banner cut, fishtail, dovetail, notch, etc. TIP: cut up the middle of the paper, then cut in at each side to make the V cut.

Embellish as desired!

This is a great project for a girls' night - let your friends go through your stash of paper and embellishments to create a wreath they love!

American Crafts Patterned Paper! Who Knew?

If you follow me on Facebook you know I came home from a work trip earlier this week to a WONDERFUL surprise from my friends at American Crafts...a HUGE pile of patterned paper!

I have sort of been "out" of the patterned paper game for the last few years (since I mostly do home decor and kids crafts and such) and I have always thought of American Crafts as a "big box store" company, so I was BLOWN AWAY by all the gorgeous collections they've got out on the market these days. I shared a few of my favorites in this quick video (please note - the contest was hosted on IG and Facebook but if you follow me there I have great giveaways pretty often!)...

- and THEN I found all of the papers (and the MOST stinkin' cute embellishments ever) on scrapbook.com! And so...I give you my weekly dose of crafty enabling - cute projects and all! :) Find something you like? Click on the photo and it will take you to the entire collection on scrapbook.com. Wahoo! {FTC disclaimer - these are affiliate links so I may make a few pennies if you buy something!}

Introducing the Cricut BrightPad!

Meet the newest member of the Cricut family! The new Cricut BrightPad will change the way you create. Do you hate weeding? Resist doing more complicated projects because it is too hard/time consuming to weed? Wait until you see what the Cricut BrightPad can do! I created a Facebook Live video to show you first hand how easy it is to use and what a difference it makes!

Head on over to the Cricut Blog for a tutorial on how I created the mirror and a link to the project in Design Space!

The BrightPad is $79.99 and comes in four colors - Mint, Pink, Blue and Lilac. No charcoal - even though you can see it in the photo - ha! The Mint BrightPad is currently available on  (with FREE shipping - enter code CHRISTMASINJULY at checkout), and the Pink, Blue and Lilac colors will be available during 24 Hour Craft Day on HSN on July 11th. Hope you'll join me to see it live in action!

Custom Gift Wrap with Michaels Story Sticky Notes

With just a few supplies and these DARLING Story Sticky Notes from Michaels (you get 100+ notes per pack for only $3.00!) you can create customized gift wrap in no time. {FTC Disclaimer: this post contains some affiliate links so I may make a few pennies if you buy something!}

SUPPLIES:
Michaels Story Sticky Notes (they have a ton of fun assorted styles!)
Xyron Sticker Makers (I used the 1.5" and the 3")
wrapping paper
anything else you've got laying around! I used a uni-ball signo white pen and some alphabet stickers

Check out this quick tutorial and then get out your gift wrap and start decorating! This is also a great project to do with the kiddos!

Looking for more great custom gift wrapping ideas? Check out these fun projects!

IKEA Hack - Ten Creative Ways to Use A Tolsby Frame

Ten creative ways to use IKEA Tolsby frames! Kingston Crafts

I didn't realize how obsessed I was with IKEA until I didn't live near one. I grew up near one of the originals (shout out to Potomac Mills!) and then as a military spouse who moves every two years I relied on it for cheap-but-cute home decor and supplies. I absolutely took it for granted, until we moved to Kentucky where the closest one is ALMOST THREE HOURS AWAY. Yeeeaaaaaaaah. So after my first visit in over two years where I bought WAY too many paper napkins and enough reusable grocery bags to power our entire town I give you my homage to one of the cheapest and most versatile IKEA items in all the land - the .99 Tolsby Frame. 

Don't live near an IKEA either? Amazon has started selling some IKEA items online. The Tolsby frame isn't .99 - but four for $10-ish is still a great deal!

{FCC disclaimer - this blost post contains affiliate links - so I may make a few pennies if you buy something!}

Add a little spray paint and you've got custom table numbers/menu signs/etc for your wedding! From ruffledblog.

Add a little spray paint and you've got custom table numbers/menu signs/etc for your wedding! From ruffledblog.

Create a mini calendar with your favorite photos! From lovelymade.

Create a mini calendar with your favorite photos! From lovelymade.

Use washi tape to add a little color! From washitapecrafts.

Use washi tape to add a little color! From washitapecrafts.

Create a desktop mini album! From heidiswapp.

Create a desktop mini album! From heidiswapp.

Create an entire photo gallery! From brooklynlimestone.

Create an entire photo gallery! From brooklynlimestone.

Feature your favorite small project as a work of art. From kesi-art.

Feature your favorite small project as a work of art. From kesi-art.

Fun AND functional? Flip cards! From swellchel.

Fun AND functional? Flip cards! From swellchel.

How about a Christmas countdown calendar? From goldiecardsigns.

Greatest party craft/favor ever! Star Wars! From attagirlsays.

Greatest party craft/favor ever! Star Wars! From attagirlsays.

What a cool way to display pressed flowers and leaves! From munchkinsandmoms.

What a cool way to display pressed flowers and leaves! From munchkinsandmoms.

Ten creative ways to use IKEA Tolsby frames! Kingston Crafts

Customized Wedding Gift Topper with Mod Podge!

We're celebrating all sorts of things this weekend...Don and I are headed to a wedding with our extended family, and Mod Podge is turning 50! I combined both festivities in to one project because, let's face it, when you are "crafty" you have to make sure that your present is the coolest looking one of the gift table! :) This wedding topper was SO easy to make - start with a wood or chipboard base, then customize to your heart's desire with FolkArt paint, Mod Podge and a little glitter (ok - a lot) to add that special sparkle. I used gold paint and sheer giltter to coordinate with my giftwrap and ribbon. Let's do this! {FTC Disclaimer: I received free product in exchange for this blog post - but the opinions and ideas are mine all mine! This post also contains affiliate links so if you buy something I might make a few pennies.}

SUPPLIES:
chipboard or wood phrase or shape (mine is from Hobby Lobby)
Mod Podge Gloss
FolkArt Brushed Metal Acrylic Paint in Brushed Antique Gold
glitter
two (2) plastic cups or paper plates
foam brush
q-tip
disposable work surface (I used white butcher paper) - not pictured

Paint surface of chipboard/wood shape. Be sure to paint the edges but don't worry TOO much about getting full coverage. Nobody is going to be looking that close! :)

Apply thin layer of Mod Podge, then quickly add glitter. I did my phrase in "sections" - I added Mod Podge to a few letters, then added glitter, then moved on to the next few letters, added glitter, etc.

Let dry for about 10 minutes, tap off excess glitter (I collected it in one of the plastic cups and reused it throughout the project) and repeat layers of Mod Podge and glitter until you reach the desired look, then top off with a final layer of Mod Podge.  I did three layers of glitter total - but I think I would have been totally fine with just two!

Don't forget to join the fun over on the Plaid Crafts Facebook Page all day long for project ideas, new techniques, prizes and more. Scroll down for a few other great Mod Podge projects from some of my fabulous friends - Happy National Mod Podge Day everybody!

And for even MORE ideas using Plaid Crafts products check out these fun projects!

Pinterest Pantry - Second Edition

I'm visiting my folks this week - so have spent the last few days eating all of my favorite comfort foods. Which means I won't be able to fit in to my pants next week. ;)  So in the second edition of Pinterest Pantry I'm sharing a few recipes that still have that cozy warm comfort food vibe but are a lot better for you! And...two things that were a failure. Hey. They can't all be green chicken enchilada cauliflower casserole!

GREEN CHICKEN ENCHILADA CAULIFLOWER CASSEROLE

Sweet Mother of relatively healthy comfort food!! We made this casserole from I Breathe I'm Hungry because we had a bunch of frozen cauliflower in the freezer and all the other ingredients already - all I needed was a rotisserie chicken (because I was too lazy to cook a couple of chicken breasts) and HELLO!!!!! I plan to make this 769 times in the next month because it is AMAZING and surprisingly healthy! SUCH a great substitution for those rich pasta or rice casseroles...I promise you won't miss a thing.

GRADE: A+++
HOW HEALTHY: At first glance it doesn't seem super healthy - but is only 311 calories per serving and is low carb and gluten free.
DIFFICULTY: VERY easy and took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used rotisserie chicken out of sheer laziness, and the only thing we did different from the recipe was we chopped the cauliflower up a bit after we microwaved it so it would be in smaller pieces.
 

SLOW COOKER KIELBASA AND WHITE BEAN CASSOULET

Another winner! I first found this recipe from Real Simple in their magazine. We make this at least twice a month because it is easy, doesn't require a bunch of special ingredients and it is perfect for leftovers for lunch. 

GRADE: A+
HOW HEALTHY: We think it is relatively healthy...it is dairy free, gluten free, no added oils/butter, and we used turkey kielbasa to cut back on the calories. See our recipe changes - we skipped the bread altogether and didn't miss it one bit!
DIFFICULTY: SUPER easy - just cut up the kielbasa, dump everything in to the slow cooker and come home to a delicious meal (and a great smelling house)!
RECIPE CHANGES:  We skipped the bread - cut back on the carbs, made the meal a bit healthier, and was one less step to get the meal on the table. We also used minced garlic and dried thyme to make it even easier!
 

WALNUT AND ROSEMARY OVEN FRIED CHICKEN

We haven't had fried chicken in a hundred years, and we are pretty leery of recipes that claim that oven baked is just as good...but this one from The Recipe Critic was pretty darn close! The toasted panko and crushed nuts make a nice crispy crust with tons of taste.

GRADE: A
HOW HEALTHY: Another one that doesn't seem super healthy at first glance - but it is under 300 calories per serving so if you combine it with a simple salad it is a nice light healthy meal and has tons of protein!
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the hardest part was making sure the panko didn't burn when we cooked it on the stove. :) We put our chicken on a rack, so if you do that trust us when we say to ALSO line the pan with foil or parchment paper prior to cooking - otherwise clean up is a pain!
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used dried rosemary instead of fresh.

BRAISED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH MUSTARD AND THYME

First of all...am I the only person in the world who did not know the correct name for this vegetable is brussels sprouts - not brussel sprouts? Clearly I need to get out more. Secondly - Don and I like our brussels sprouts roasted and a little "drier", this recipe from Cooking Light was too mushy for our taste. If you love mushier vegetables you might love this one!

GRADE: C
HOW HEALTHY: Pretty damn healthy. You only add 1T butter for the entire recipe.
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the whole thing only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  None.

BACON AND EGG BREAKFAST CHILI

It is funny - I forgot that this recipe from health-bent.com is called bacon and egg chili because 95% of the time we skip the bacon and eggs and just eat the chili plain! This is our go-to recipe for weekday breakfasts. We cook up a batch (it makes a TON) on Sunday afternoons and then eat it throughout the week - it is hearty, healthy, and easy to make! If you DO add the bacon, egg and avocado it ratchets this up to an A++ - it is SOOOOOOO good!

GRADE: A
HOW HEALTHY: VERY - it is paleo, gluten free, dairy free, and you can use ground turkey or turkey sausage if you prefer.
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy - the whole thing only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish.
RECIPE CHANGES:  As I mentioned - 95% of the time we skip the bacon, egg and avocado, just to save time. Be sure you dice the sweet potatoes VERY small, and be ready to let the chili simmer for an hour or so. Those sweet potatoes take a while to get soft!

CREAMY CARROT AND CAULIFLOWER SOUP

I LOVE soup - and I am forever on the search for a rich creamy soup that is still good for you. This recipe from Cooking with Curls is VERY healthy, and if I was on a very strict diet I would eat it (it tastes fine), but otherwise it isn't a recipe we'll make again.

GRADE: C
HOW HEALTHY: VERY. Dairy free, gluten free, low calorie, chock full of veggies.
DIFFICULTY: VERY easy - hardest part is chopping all of the vegetables.
RECIPE CHANGES:  We used minced garlic.

If you've got a relatively healthy Pinterest recipe that you make over and over again - I'd love to see it! We are always on the lookout for easy, healthy, delicious food! Looking for more recipes that we've put in to our bellies? The first edition of Pinterest Pantry has some favorites!

Wall Art Wood Wreath: Pinterest Fail Gone Right!

Ever have one of those projects that just doesn't turn out right? I took a total failure (too much paint, too much wine, not enough following directions) and turned it in to a fun home decor piece perfect for our mantel!

Back in January when I was in Phoenix for Creativation 2017 I was lucky enough to spend the evening at Pinspiration (you MUST go there if you ever find yourself in the area!) with the gang from DecoArt. Our plan was to create gorgeous projects to take home, but then we started chatting, and drinking, and snacking, and visiting with the other patrons, and not following directions. And then this happened.

See the GIANT paint smudges? See the K outlined in pencil in the middle that was supposed to be string art but I didn't even get that far? Yup. I craft for a living. Can't you tell?

I PROMISED them that I would fix it. I told them I could make it right. And you know what? With a few flowers and my glue gun I did just that!

So I guess the moral of this story is "when all else fails...embellish"! OR - pay better attention when you are making a craft project. Whichever. ;)

Here are a few more wreath projects to tickle your fancy!

PAPER WREATHS

PAPER WREATHS

BOW-TIFUL WREATH

BOW-TIFUL WREATH

Customizing Wood Easter Eggs from Michaels

The time right before any holiday is very dangerous for me...because the craft stores discount all of the holiday stuff and I must buy ALL of it and frantically make a bajillion projects!!! Last night it was a bunny wreath for my front door, today it is these wooden eggs from Michaels that will look perfect on our mantle!

SUPPLIES:
Cricut Explore Air and Design Space
Light Grip Mat
Basics Tools Set
Cricut Vinyl - Linen
Transfer Tape
Plaid FolkArt acrylic paint - Titanium White
foam brush
washi tape
Michaels wooden egg easels

Remove the stickers from the wooden eggs and wrap the edges with washi tape.

Paint the edges of each egg and let dry, then repeat with a second coat.

In Design Space, type "easter egg" in the search bar and you will find TONS of options! I just picked my three favorites - one for each egg.

Resize the egg images to fit the eggs, then "attach" the images (they will turn the same color) so you can cut them all on one piece of vinyl.

Cut the images and weed out the excess vinyl. Apply the transfer tape to the images, then the images to each egg. And voila!