Learning to be a “yes mom”.

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Those of you who know me will know how true this next statement really is. I am a bit controlling and OCD. I worry incessantly and think constantly. I am always planning or preparing for things in my head. I exhaust myself with it. This is one of those things I’ve been trying to work on within myself because it has a negative effect on my parenting skills. I have a tendency to be a “no mom” more often than I am a “yes mom”. I acknowledge that and I am working on changing it because how will our kids ever gain experiences if I constantly tell them no? This mentality I have doesn’t just effect me as a mom but my life in general.

The other day I had an epiphany. I was in the laundry room mentally listing all of the things I would much rather be doing at that exact moment than folding the laundry. Writing a new blog post, working on a Halloween costume, finishing a customer’s order, etc etc) I continued with my task though, folding and sorting the clothes into obsessive little organized piles, as I normally do, one for each household member. Once the folding was done I moved on to the hanging clothes, leaving the huge pile of socks for last. After I hung the last shirt, I turned to the socks and the thought struck me, life is too short to match socks. I mean, I’ve heard that saying before but it was really standing out in my head. What do I care if my kids wear two different socks to school tomorrow? Is that going to effect their learning? No. Is it some how going to make them into crazy, misbehaving, ill-mannered hoodrat kids? No it isn’t. So why should I waste countless minutes matching socks? It’s good enough to get them into the right piles and let them just pick out two socks to put on their feet. I mean at least they wear socks right? They’re just going to cover them up with shoes anyway! I let go of the control and the OCD and I just tossed the socks into their owner’s piles and I just walked away. I let go. That’s not something that comes easily for me. This may seem meaningless to most of you but it was a big deal, a pivotal moment for me. In doing that, I let myself be more open to other ways that I could release the control. I’m not sure when or why I developed that need to control every single thing in life but learning to unlearn it is hard but not matching those socks felt great.

You know what else feels great? Having cereal for dinner. We did it last night, don’t judge – the kids loved it. It’s also great to sometimes eat dessert before dinner, we’ve done that before too. When you’re so used to immediately saying no, saying yes is hard to do. I’ve been trying to condition myself into just saying yes. When I do it, the kids are shocked and surprised and knowing that gives me mixed emotions. I am happy that by my saying yes it made them happy but it saddens me to know that they feel surprised by it because they’re used to hearing no. I’m working on being a yes person instead.

I feel happier when I say yes. “No” most often has a negative connotation, “yes” is more positive, it feels better to say yes! Now, don’t go thinking that this new positive thinking is causing me to be some air brained crazy person who will say yes to everything. There is a thought process involved here – are you surprised? When a question is posed I think to myself, will it hurt to say yes? Will it some how cause damage physically or mentally? If I can say no to that, then I can say yes to the question! You should try it some time – liberate yourself.

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DIY Mini Witch Hat Tutorial

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DIY Mini Witch Hat LogoI wanted to make some mini witch hats last year for Halloween but it never happened for one reason or another. Partly because I had too many DIY Halloween projects going on at once but also because I just couldn’t find a tutorial that I liked well enough to get me through it. After completing my DIY Mini Top Hat, which I posted yesterday, I had the motivation to just “wing it” and create my own DIY Mini Witch Hat using similar methods used in the top hat tutorial.

As you read through this, if it doesn’t seem clear, you may want to reference the video I linked in my mini top hat post. Of course the video is for making a top hat not a witch hat but I did mimic a lot of the steps for this tutorial.

Materials

  • card stock
  • cardboard
  • scissors
  • compass
  • marker or pencil
  • hot glue gun & glue
  • tape
  • fabric
  • hair clip
  • embellishments (tulle, rhinestones, ribbon)

Step 1: I just happen to own a compass. Quite luckily actually since I needed it for this project. I know there is some seriously complicated math algorithm that would give me the answer to this problem but since I am pretty close to remedial math level, I used my compass as a cheater method. I wasn’t sure exactly how big my “cone” needed to be so I just opened up my compass all the way and drew a pie shape semi circle on my sheet of card stock. This turned out to be bigger than I wanted so when I make more of these for my daughters, I’ll do it about half this size. I placed my compass point in the corner of the paper and drew my pie outward. Once I had the pencil mark down, I cut it out.

My mini compass opened up all the way.

My mini compass opened up all the way.

My traced semi circle pie shape.

My traced semi circle pie shape.

Step 2: After I cut out my pie shape, I rolled it into a cone. I did this a few times before gluing it together to kind of loosen the stiffness of the card stock. I wanted to make sure I got a good rounded cone and didn’t end up with any creases or lines where it curved. Then I hot glued the edges together overlapping them just a little bit. Once the glue dried, I added tape to the seam on both the inside and outside for added security.

My cone piece after it has been glued and taped.

My cone piece after it has been glued and taped.

Step 3: Once I had my cone glued together, I created my brim using a piece of cardboard. I used a roll of painters tape as a guide for creating a perfect circle. It turned out to be a good size for this hat but when I make the smaller version, I’ll have to find something different to trace. I cut out my circle using my scissors but you could use an exacto knife or something similar.

I used a roll of painters tape to trace my circle for the brim of my hat

I used a roll of painters tape to trace my circle for the brim of my hat

This is my brim piece once I cut it out.

This is my brim piece once I cut it out.

Step 4: After I had both of my hat pieces cut out, I covered them with black felt. You can use whatever fabric you want for this or you could even use patterned card stock or specialty paper and not cover them at all. I used felt because it is what I already had on hand. If you’re an avid reader of this blog you know that I almost never purchase supplies, I improvise and use what I’ve got. Obviously that isn’t always the case because I had to acquire these supplies somehow!

Anyway, I glued the corner of my cone piece to the corner of my piece of felt. After that dried, I glued down one edge of the felt and wrapped the piece around, pulling tight as I went. Then I glued down the other side creating a seam down the back of the hat right over the seam that was there from when I glued the card stock together. Then I trimmed off the excess fabric but I left a few inches at the bottom opening of the cone. Do this so you can tuck it inside the bottom of the cone and glue it down. I cut slits in the excess fabric at the bottom to make it easier to tuck it in. I made sure to pull each piece tight and glue it down with a lot of glue that way my hat had a nice smooth look, no buckling or ripples.

This is what my cone looked like after I glued down the felt and before I glued the end pieces down.

This is what my cone looked like after I glued down the felt and before I glued the end pieces down.

DIY Mini Witch Hat

This is what it looked like after I cut slits in the excess fabric and glued down the pieces.

Step 5: After I covered my cone piece, I covered my brim. I used a similar method and just added a little glue and pulled tight and glued as I went around the circle. I cut off the excess fabric to try and keep it from being too bulky. Make sure you pull it tight so the top side of your brim is smooth. Once the top side is covered, cut a circle out of the fabric and cover the underside where all your tucked and glued fabric is. I just used the same painters tape roll as a guide and then trimmed it down just a bit so the felt circle was a little smaller than the brim piece. Then I applied a crap ton of glue to the felt and pressed it down on the brim.

This is the underside of the brim once it was covered with the felt.

This is the underside of the brim once it was covered with the felt.

DIY Mini Witch Hat

I trimmed a second circle to be slightly smaller than the brim and glued it down to cover all the tucked and glued fabric.

DIY Mini Witch Hat

This is what the underside of the brim piece looked like once I glued down the felt circle piece.

Step 6: Once you have both pieces covered, you can put them together. I didn’t do that right away though because I knew I wanted to add an alligator clip to the hat so I did that before I assembled my hat just because I thought it might be easier to do it that way. I cut a small piece of felt out, clipped my alligator clip to it, then applied glue all over the underside of the felt piece and clip. I then pressed that down to the underside of the brim piece and made sure all the lose edges and corners were glued down too. I don’t want my clip to come off the hat so I used a lot of glue.

Glue down your clip if you're using one. I did this before assembling my two hat pieces.

Glue down your clip if you’re using one. I did this before assembling my two hat pieces.

Step 7: After my clip was secured in place, I glued my two hat pieces together. I applied hot glue all round the open edge of my cone and pressed it onto my brim piece making sure it was centered. Once it dried, I added a second layer of glue around the edge where the cone and brim meet up. I knew I was going to cover that up with ribbon anyway so I didn’t really care that it would be noticeable. If you don’t plan to put a ribbon trim piece you could use liquid stitch or something similar that dries clear.

hooray assembled hat!

hooray assembled hat!

Step 8: After I had my hat pieces put together, I started decorating and embellishing. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this which is why I didn’t take pictures. For me, it is a creative process that involves a lot of frustration, burned fingers, tears, and cursing. For you maybe it isn’t so dramatic! Either way, I glued orange ribbon around the seam which I mentioned in step 7. Then I added a cute shabby candy corn piece that I got last year with the intention of making headbands for our girls (never happened btw). I used a pumpkin rhinestone which was also bought last year for those non existent headbands, as a kind of center piece between a “tulle fluff” and the candy corn. I used black, purple, and orange tulle scraps to make the little fluff piece and I also added some tulle along the underside of my brim.

tah-dah!

tah-dah!

IMG_3022

I’m pleased with the end result especially since I didn’t really have a tutorial to guide me but as I mentioned in the beginning, this turned out to be larger than I wanted. I intended for our daughters to wear one of these as a hair bow to school on Halloween but it is much too big for that so it looks like I’ll be wearing it instead and will be attempting to make a smaller version in the near future!

Plan on making one? Share your version with us!

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DIY Mini Top Hat

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It’s been far too long since I’ve written a diy blog post. This time last year, I was blogging almost daily with various Halloween themed diy projects. I know, I’m lacking this year and for that I apologize. Hopefully this DIY Mini Top Hat will redeem me.

So last year for Halloween, our oldest girls went as Mario & Luigi. This year we’re getting to reuse one of those tutus for a sugar skull costume. We have already pieced together the outfit, the only thing missing is some head gear. Which brings me to today’s post for the DIY Mini Top Hat.DIY Mini Top Hat

I used this video as inspiration and if you’re like me, you do better to watch a tutorial rather than read one so I wanted to be sure to include it in this post to help you out and also to give credit where credit is due. No one likes a thief! Let’s get started!

Materials:

  • Cardstock
  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Tape
  • Sharpie
  • Fabric
  • Ribbon
  • Felt
  • Hair clips
  • Embellishments  (feathers, rhinestones, tulle, lace)

I almost never gather all my supplies ahead of time because I usually don’t follow a tutorial step by step, I just kinda wing it. This time was no different, I just gathered things as I thought I needed them. Luckily for you guys I made a list as I used things so you’d know what I actually did use for my version of this project.

Step 1: cut your card stock so that it is 3 inches tall and 11 inches long. Once you have your strip of card stock, hot glue the ends together to make a cylinder. After I glued my ends together, I added some tape on the inside and the outside to make sure it was secure.

3in x 11in cardstock strip glued together3in x 11in card stock strip glued together.

Step 2: Cut a circle out of your cardboard that is slightly larger than the cylinder. I used a roll of painters tape as a guide to create a perfect circle. I traced it using sharpie and then used my scissors to cut it out.

Trace and cut a circle out of cardboard.

Trace and cut a circle out of cardboard.

Step 3: Add a lot of hot glue around the edge of your cylinder and adhere the two pieces together. Once you have the cylinder and the cardboard circle attached, add another ring of hot glue around the outside edge of the cylinder to make sure it is secure.

Glue your cylinder and your circle together with two layers of glue

Glue your cylinder and your circle together with two layers of glue

Step 4: Once you have the base for the top of your hat, you need to cover it with your fabric. I did exactly what the youtube video suggested and glue along the edge of my cardboard circle and went with the natural roll pattern. I glued a small section, then rolled it onto the fabric and continue this process all the way around. Once the base was covered, I trimmed off the excess fabric from the sides and glued along the edge to make sure it was secure. Then I trimmed the excess fabric along the cardboard circle edge, trim that pretty close to the edge. Lastly, trim the fabric from the open end of the hat but leave a few inches. You end up tucking the excess inside the hat so don’t cut it too short.

Follow the natural roll pattern of the base as you glue the fabric down.

Follow the natural roll pattern of the base as you glue the fabric down.

Step 5: Cut slits in the fabric along the open end of the hat. You do this to make it easier to tuck it inside. I cut mine about 5 times, you end up with something resembling a flower. Once you have those cuts made, glue the ends down inside your hat cylinder. Make sure as you are gluing that you pull the fabric tight so that it is nice and smooth on the outside. Once your sides are covered, cut a circle out of the fabric to glue to the top of your hat. Try to get it as close to the same size as possible. After you do this your top and sides should all be covered leaving only the opening at the bottom exposed.

Cut slits in the fabric to create a flower. Then glue these strips down inside the cylinder.

Cut slits in the fabric to create a flower. Then glue these strips down inside the cylinder.

 

This is what your cylinder will look like once it is covered in fabric.

This is what your cylinder will look like once it is covered in fabric.

Step 6: Now you need to make the brim of your hat. The inspiration video uses wire for this step but since I didn’t have any, I used cardboard instead. I used a glass bowl that was a little larger than my cylinder as a tracing guide. Once I had my circle drawn on the cardboard, I used my scissors to cut it out.

Cut the brim of your hat out of cardboard. Make sure it is larger than your previous cardboard circle.

Step 7: Now that you have your brim cut out you have to cover it with fabric. I left the pieces a little long and trimmed them after I glued the edge down. Make sure you pull your fabric tight and tuck it as you glue that way the top side is nice and smooth. Once you have the top side finished, flip your circle and cut out a piece of fabric that fits just a little inside the outer edge and glue that down. This will be the underside of your hat so don’t worry if it looks a little messy.

Cover both sides of your larger circle, make sure your top side fabric is smooth.

Cover both sides of your larger circle, make sure your top side fabric is smooth.

Step 8: Now on this next step, I improvised and wasn’t really all that happy with the results. The inspiration video uses bias tape to trim the edges of the larger cardboard circle and the edge of the top of the hat. I didn’t have any bias tape so I used 7/8in ribbon instead. I felt like my edging looked sloppy so I recommend using the video method instead or maybe you’re better at gluing ribbon on a circular object than I am and yours will look great anyway. Either way, cover both the edge of your brim circle as well as the top edge of your hat in either bias tape or ribbon, whichever you choose.

Use ribbon or bias tape to trim your top edge of the hat.

Use ribbon or bias tape to trim your top edge of the hat.

 

Use ribbon or bias tape to trim the edge of your brim piece.

Use ribbon or bias tape to trim the edge of your brim piece. As you can see my edging looked terrible which is why I decided to cover it up in the next step.

Step 9: Once you have the two pieces of the hat covered and edged, you’re ready to put them together. Now since my edging looked terrible, I decided to cover the brim edge with tulle to try and hide the sloppiness. I also added a huge feather cluster to the top of the hat to hide the edging there as well. If your edging looks good you can skip this step.

I used tulle to cover my terrible edging skills.

I used tulle to cover my terrible edging skills.

Step 10: In the video, she uses a long piece of lace and ties the hat on her head. Since this is for my 10 year old who will no doubt be wired to the gills with sugar, I decided to use two alligator clips instead. I cut a piece of felt and glued it to the underside of my brim piece and then glued the alligator clips down using a second piece of felt to sandwich between the clips and the bottom felt piece.

Glue down a large piece of felt to use as the base for your clips

Glue down a large piece of felt to use as the base for your clips

Glue down the clips using a second piece of smaller felt to sandwich between the clips and the larger felt piece.

Glue down the clips using a second piece of smaller felt to sandwich between the clips and the larger felt piece.

Step 11: After I added my clips, I adhered my two pieces of the hat together. I put a ring of glue along the inside of the opening at the bottom of my cylinder. Once I had the glue in place, I pressed it down onto my brim piece. Make sure before you glue that you have the top of your brim piece facing up. Once the two pieces are together, add another ring of glue for extra security. I ended up covering the second ring of glue with tulle but you could use ribbon or lace like what is shown in the video. I forgot to take a picture of this step apparently but hopefully you’ll be able to figure it out.

Step 12: Now that you’ve got all the practical parts put together you can embellish the heck out of it. That’s what I did anyway. I added layers upon layers of tulle around the edges and also the underside to hide the clips. I added three feathers and a jewel to the front of the hat. I also added that large feather cluster I mentioned earlier. Then I made some little tulle puffs, for lack of a better word, to cover the seam in the back and side.

Here's my hat after I've glued the pieces together and started embellishing.

Here’s my hat after I’ve glued the pieces together and started embellishing.

Here's the finished product on my lovely fake head.

Here’s the finished product on my lovely fake head.

I have to say that I am pleased with the end result. I was very discouraged by the tacky edging job but once I committed to making it better, it worked out for the best. Stay tuned for pictures of the complete sugar skull costume after Halloween!

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Crafting with Vinyl: Understanding the Different Types of Vinyl

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Vinyl crafts are hugely popular right now. After owning a Silhouette Portrait and actually crafting with vinyl, I can see why. It is totally addictive! Over the past few months, I’ve used vinyl for numerous different projects and I’ve learned a few things along the way that I thought I’d share with you. Now, I am by far no vinyl expert but I have collected some useful tips and tricks through my projects that may be of use to you guys. Let’s get into it!

Self-Adhesive Vinyl – This type of vinyl is great for indoor projects and will adhere to many different surfaces. I’ve used adhesive vinyl for nail decals, art projects, and indoor signage. You can use this on both large and small scale projects. I’ve purchased my vinyl online as well as at the craft store. If I know that I need a large amount, I find that it is better to order it online because most places will discount the price when you buy larger quantities. Depending on the type of cutting machine you have, you may or may not have to cut your vinyl’s width before feeding it into your machine. My Silhouette Portrait only supports a width of 9 inches and since the vinyl comes in a 12 inch width, I have to cut it down before using it. I can however cut a continuous length which is great for wall art or signage. Another perk to ordering online is that you can find a broader color choice than if you purchase the vinyl in stores.

Most of the vinyl has guidelines on the back side to assist in cutting. I highly recommend using those so that you maintain straight lines. This is important when you transfer the vinyl from it’s backing onto the transfer tape. If you use the grid lines, your project should be symmetrical and level. I have used scrap pieces of vinyl that didn’t have straight grid lines and it made it more difficult to keep my project straight and level. Make it easier on yourself and use those lines! Speaking of making it easier on yourself, use your tools! I have the Silhouette hook tool and I forget to use it all the time. I’ll spend so much time fighting to peel the edges of my negative space when I could just hook it and peel it so much faster. Trust me, if you don’t have a hook tool you need to invest in one. It saves you so much time and will help you keep your sanity!

This is the artwork I made for my cousin's baby shower. I made this to match her nursery bedding.

I used self adhesive vinyl on parts of this project. It is adhered to a wood canvas.

I’ve never had any trouble with my vinyl not adhering to a surface. It is recommended that you clean your surface before adhering the vinyl, I almost never do this because I’m lazy. As long as the surface you are applying to is the appropriate type of material for the vinyl, you shouldn’t have any trouble. As I mentioned before, this vinyl will adhere to most surfaces with the exception of fabric, there is a special vinyl for that and I’ll discuss that in the next section.

Heat Transfer Vinyl – This type of vinyl is specifically made for fabric. Do not try to use any other type of vinyl on a fabric surface because you will be disappointed with the results. I know this from experience. Adhesive vinyl will adhere to fabric but it will not last as it is not made to be washed, dried, and exposed to the elements outside. You can purchase heat transfer vinyl online and you can get discounts for larger quantities. This type of vinyl is a little more expensive than adhesive vinyl and is sold by the yard. You can find a large variety of colors and styles such as neon, metallic, glossy, and glitter.

As I mentioned above, my machine only supports a width of 9 inches. The heat transfer vinyl I’ve worked with comes standard at 15 inches so I have to cut mine down a lot before feeding it into the machine. Again, I can cut a continuous length though which is great for outdoor signage. This vinyl didn’t have the cutting guidelines on the back so I had to take more care in measuring and trimming to insure that I had straight lines. I’m not sure if all heat transfer vinyl comes without the grid lines but if you have a choice then choose a vinyl with the lines.

There is a major difference between the heat transfer vinyl cutting process and the cutting process of adhesive vinyl. When you’re using adhesive vinyl, you cut your design or text exactly as it would appear on your project but with heat transfer vinyl, you have to mirror the image. This is because of the application process. The adhesive vinyl is applied with a transfer tape which allows you to apply the tape to the nonadhesive side of the vinyl and then press the adhesive side to your surface. Once you’ve adhered the vinyl, you just pull off the tape and you’re done. Heat transfer vinyl has to be mirrored because you do not remove the vinyl from it’s backing before applying it. You actually use it’s backing in the transfer process. You have to pay extra close attention to which direction you feed your vinyl into the machine and which direction your image or text is facing. The shiny side of this vinyl goes face down into the machine and your image has to be mirrored. Just remember those two things and you should be fine.

Earlier I said I never clean my surfaces before applying the vinyl, well fabric is the exception. You should always wash your fabric before you apply your vinyl. The vinyl I worked with came with application instructions and recommended using heat of 330 degrees for 45-60 seconds. I started out using a standard iron and it was a lot of work. I was working with a very large surface so it was extremely time consuming. If you have a heat press machine or a press iron I recommend using that instead. Luckily my grandmother has one so I borrowed hers to finish my project.

Use a heat press iron, it will save you so much time!

This is my grandmother’s heat press iron I borrowed. It was a huge lifesaver! I was working on outdoor banner flags.

Be sure to always place a piece of thin fabric between your iron and your vinyl so that you don’t melt the plastic backing. I used a pillowcase and that worked out great. As I mentioned before, this type of vinyl is made to be washed and will withstand the weather but I recommend reading the care instructions before you purchase your vinyl to be sure you’re purchasing the correct kind for your project especially if you’re working on something that will be outdoors.

Outdoor Vinyl – This type of vinyl is the same as adhesive vinyl except that it is made for outdoor projects. It has a stronger adhesive which makes it perfect for outdoor signage, car decals, and window clings. You can use regular adhesive vinyl for outdoor projects but over time the weather will wear down the adhesive. Outdoor vinyl is made to last longer when exposed to the elements.

Hopefully I’ve managed to answer some questions that you may have had about the different types of vinyl and how they should be used. If there are questions I didn’t answer, please ask! Happy crafting y’all!

After a 5 1/2 month hiatus…I’m back.

Well, it’s been about 5 1/2 months since my last blog. Pretty sad huh? I can list about 10 million different reasons why it has taken me so long to get back into the swing of things but I won’t bore you with excuses. I will say though, that lots of things have changed over the last several months and those changes have, in some way or another, contributed to my lack of blogging. Here’s what you’ve missed while I’ve been blog slacking:

Our youngest celebrated his 1st birthday. Hard to believe he’s already a year old when it seems like just yesterday we were bringing him home for the first time. He’s quite a character but of course he’d have to be, there’s a lot of competition in this house.

Cullen's first birthday!

Cullen’s first birthday!

Speaking of houses, we purchased our first home a few months back. We’ve spent about 3 months painting, organizing, upgrading, packing, moving, and unpacking and we’re still not completely settled in. Even living out of boxes, it still feels like home. As much as I’ve enjoyed making this house more our style, I will be glad when all of the painting and changes have been made so we can get to just enjoying living here.

Our move into the new house brought another change, new city. Well, not new for me but new for the family. We moved to my hometown. I love being back with family but I have to admit it has been different living in a small town after having lived in some of Texas’ major cities. Since moving back home I’ve been able to reconnect with some friends from school and it has been so great getting to spend time with them and their families. Funny how 12 years or more has gone by but with some people you can just pick up where you left off and it’s like nothing ever changed. Part of what I love most about being home is our Sunday dinner tradition. You guys may remember a post I shared several months back about my Granny and our family tradition. I’m happy to say that we still get together in the same house every Sunday for lunch together. Now it is my grandmother who prepares food for everyone and it has become our own little tradition that she and I cook together. I go over every Sunday morning to help her and I take one of my children with me. Each week the kids rotate who gets to go help prepare lunch. I love being able to teach them about our culture and instill this sense of pride and tradition in them. In fact, I think this is my favorite part of being back home; being able to do that every Sunday morning.

In April, I got the most amazing gift (Silhouette Portrait) for my birthday and I’ve definitely put it to use over the past few months. I have to admit that I am a little disappointed with myself for not blogging about my craft projects because there have been tons. Lately I’ve used it to cut vinyl decals for my toe nails. Maybe I’ll put together a blog solely for those because I have to admit, I’ve really enjoyed the way they’ve turned out. Other than nail decals, I’ve created some signs and logos for my mom’s new business, a few phone decals for a friend of mine, and a baby shower gift for my newest little cousin. Other than using my Portrait, I’ve been continuing to sell my invitations and digital artwork on Etsy. I just finished updating my logos for both Tantalizing Trends and for the blog. I’m pretty happy with the result. I guess I am always happiest when I’m creating things.

This is the artwork I made for my cousin's baby shower. I made this to match her nursery bedding.

This is the artwork I made for my cousin’s baby shower. I made this to match her nursery bedding.

Previously I wrote about setting and achieving goals which stemmed from some traits I had noticed growing within our children that I was less than pleased with. This summer has brought a lot of changes to our family. Some have been easy, some have been difficult, some have yet to come to pass but I believe that all of these changes are just pieces to a greater and bigger puzzle. Change is inevitable and without it we don’t grow. I’m embracing these changes and trying to remember that everything happens for a reason even if we don’t understand what the reason is at the time. I plan to blog more about these things as they fall into place.

This is just some of what has occurred during my time away from blogland. I do intend to get back to writing more often. It may take a while for it to become a daily thing but I do know that it won’t be another 5 1/2 months before I blog again.

Until next time!

 

DIY Mardi Gras Wreath

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DIY Mardi Gras WreathIt’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s been even longer since I did a craft/diy post so I figured it was time. You guys know I love making wreaths and now that I’ve made this Mardi Gras wreath, I’ve got one for almost every season or holiday.

I think of all of the ones I’ve made, this is my new favorite. I’m a little sad that it will only get to hang on the door for about two weeks but there is always next year. This one wasn’t very difficult to make and probably only took me about an hour to do.

Things I used:

1/2 yard green sequin fabric

1/2 yard purple sequin fabric

wreath form

gold sequin mask

mardi gras beads

mardi gras coins

2 peacock style feather floral stems

Glue gun, glue sticks, scissors

Step 1: I wanted to alternate the green and purple so I cut the fabric into strips that were about 2-3 inches wide. I wrapped the strips around the wreath form, gluing as I wrapped. I bought 1/2 yard of each color at Hobby Lobby but I probably only used 1/4 of what I bought. Better to have too much than not enough though right?

Mardi Gras Wreath Step 1

This is what it will look like once you cover the form with the fabric

This is what it will look like once you cover the form with the fabric

Step 2: After the form is completely covered, I glued down my two peacock stems and my mask. Originally I wanted a feathered mask but I didn’t find one that I really liked so I went with the plain gold one from the Dollar Tree and got the peacock stems from Hobby Lobby. I glued down the peacock stems first and then glued the mask on top.

Mardi Gras Wreath Step 2

Step 3: I knew I wanted to hang the necklaces in the center portion of the wreath. I picked these up at Dollar Tree. They had different types of mask beads instead of just plain round beads on them which I thought was pretty cute. I cut them in increasingly longer lengths to create a kind of cascade look and glued them down on the back side of the wreath.

Mardi Gras Wreath Step 4

Step 4: I picked up some coins at the Dollar Tree and a second package of beads. I glued one coin of each color into a kind of triangle stack. I made four of these stacks and then glued two of them together creating two sets of 6 coins all glued together. I glued down the first of these to the upper right corner in the area where the cascading beads were glued down. The second set I put in the lower right corner across from the mask. The second package of beads had large crown pendants attached to them. I pulled those off and glued them in with the stacks of coins.

This is a close up of the coin stack and crowns

This is a close up of the coin stack and crowns

Step 5: The last thing I did was glue two of the left over necklace strands to the front of the mask. Originally the mask had silk ribbon ties but I liked the way the necklaces looked better so I cut those off and used the necklaces instead. I have a wreath hanger on our front door that I used to hang our wreaths so I didn’t feel the need to create a ribbon hanger or any other type for this one.

This is what it looked like when I was completely finished.

This is what it looked like when I was completely finished.

Like I said before, this one was pretty easy to make and I am really happy with the way it turned out!

 

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How to Set and Achieve Your Goals

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How to set and achieve your goals

The other day I wrote this post about how observing the children’s behavior has led me to a kind of self-exploration and realization. I knew I had goals I wanted to set for myself. I don’t want to halfheartedly set goals I actually want to achieve them. That led me to a ton of internet reading and research. I love that the internet has a wealth of knowledge for us to explore but at the same time, it can be extremely overwhelming. It is particularly difficult to read articles effectively while balancing a wiggly 6 month old on one knee while he slaps and punches the keyboard of your laptop. I thought I’d help out all of my fellow multi-taskers and share with you what I’ve learned about setting and accomplishing goals through my countless hours of reading. Hopefully this will save you some time and also spare your eyesight.

 

SMART Method:

Many of the articles and posts I read mention the Smart method. Smart is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time related.

Specific: The goals you set should be as specific as possible. For example “Lose weight” isn’t specific but “Lose 20 pounds” is.

Measurable: Set goals that are measurable. Meaning use units of measurement such as pounds, minutes, days, weeks, etc. The example above uses a unit of measurement, pounds. Read 3 books each month is measurable whereas “read more” is not.

Achievable: Finding the balance between a goal that is too easy and a goal that is too difficult is key. If you set a goal for yourself that is too easy then it isn’t going to motivate you. On the other hand, setting a goal that is too difficult will discourage you. Find the “in between”. Visualize yourself accomplishing the goal and if you can see yourself doing it and you feel motivated to try then you’ve found the balance. If you are discouraged or confused by the goal and feel like you can never reach it then you need to reevaluate.

Realistic: Are you prepared to reach the goal? Meaning are you educated enough on the topic or do you have the proper skills necessary to achieve the goal you set for yourself. If you want to learn a new language but you don’t know what language or what resources you should use then perhaps your goal should be to gather the information you need first and then work towards learning the new language.

Time: Create a deadline for yourself. This puts the right amount of pressure and urgency on you so that you will continue to work towards the goal. Your timeline though, should be realistic. Be sure it is physically possible to accomplish your goal within the amount of time you’ve set for yourself. This is especially important if your goal involves weight loss. Losing too much weight too quickly is unhealthy.

In addition to using the Smart method, when setting goals for yourself, you should also write them down. After reading the benefits of writing down your goals, I wanted to download a goal sheet for myself, something that would help direct me in goal writing. I downloaded this form. I haven’t used it yet but I hope it will help me. Anyway, here are some key benefits to writing down your goals.

  1. Writing out your goals makes them tangible and real. It forces you to clearly define what your goals are.
  2. Once you’ve written down your goals, you can stop thinking about them. Many of us are consumed with thousands of thoughts and things we’re trying to remember. Write it down so you can forget about it. I don’t mean forget about it as in never do it but forget thinking about it. It’s been written down, the paper serves as your reminder so your brain isn’t forced to keep remembering what goals you’ve set for yourself. Give your brain a rest people, it works hard for you.
  3. When you write your goals down and put them in plain sight, that serves as your reminder that you’ve set a goal for yourself. Look over it, read it daily. This will keep you motivated and focused and will help you remember that you’re working towards something.
  4. Writing down your goals will help you prioritize your life and your time. Start evaluating the things that are taking up your time and attention. Are they things that help you work towards your goals? If not, maybe you should reevaluate your priorities. If the activity isn’t going to help you achieve your goal, then it isn’t a high priority.
  5. Research shows that people who write down their goals are more successful in achieving them than people who do not write their goals down.

Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? I hope not. I know after all the reading I did I was feeling exhausted but as I’m writing this and reviewing the information I am feeling more encouraged than confused. In addition to using the Smart method and writing down your goals, I’ve found a few more tips to be helpful.

  • Set at least one goal that is relevant to every area of interest in your life and for every role you have. So for instance I am a blogger, a spouse, a mother, an artist, and many other things so I am planning to set goals for each of those roles and also for my areas of interest.
  • Your goals should be directly related to your passions and your life’s purpose. Do you have a mission statement for you life? I don’t but I see that many people have family mission statements. Writing a mission statement will help direct your goal setting.
  • Share your goals with people who are close to you such as your friends, family, and spouse. Sharing them and speaking them out loud gives your goals life, makes them real. You also gain motivation and encouragement from those people you share your goals with and you might just inspire someone in the process.
  • Take action every day. You don’t have to work every day at every goal. Just focus on one for today but be sure to make at least one step towards accomplishing that specific goal today. Tomorrow take action towards another goal or keep working on the same goal. Just be sure that every day you’re taking one step towards achieving your goals.
  • Clear out the negativity. Stay focused and positive and don’t let others distract you from your goals with their negativity or nay saying. Believe in yourself.
  • Hold yourself accountable and make a plan of action. That may sound difficult but it really isn’t. Once you’ve clearly defined your goals, you have to start taking action in order to achieve them. Start planning to make it happen. I found this form online to help you stay on track.

I hope that this post will inspire you guys to set goals for yourself and I hope it helps you achieve the goals you set. I am a planner by nature so I’ve spent the past few days planning to set goals. I have printed the forms I linked in this post so I hope to start working on writing out my goals and creating a plan of action for each of them in the next few days. I’ll be sharing my goals and progress with you guys in hopes of holding myself accountable and maybe I’ll inspire someone who knows. I hope you’ll share your successes with me if you decide to do this too.

What Kind of Child are You Raising?

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wrong way right way

If you ever want to know what kind of parent you are, look at the kind of child you are raising. Over the course of the past few months, I’ve become painfully aware of my shortcomings as a mother. The reason I am realizing my mistakes is because I am seeing traits in my children that do not make me proud but ashamed and embarrassed. I’ve always known that as a parent, we are our children’s first example and role model. They pick up on everything we say, do, the way we act and react. I shouldn’t be surprised then, when I see things in them that mirror myself. Some of those things are great to see but a lot of the traits I am noticing disappoint me. I’m not disappointed in them though, I’m disappointed with myself for setting a bad example.

I can’t say how much of a child’s behavior is personality and how much of it is learned but I feel like a significant amount of behavior is learned. Is patience something that is learned or bred in us? I’m not really sure but how will my children learn to be patient when I am constantly rushing them? This is something that has become apparent to me this week. I spend so much time telling them to hurry up, move faster, get busy, finish up. It’s no wonder they expect instant gratification and satisfaction. They are learning that impatience from me because I am impatient with them. Patience is something I have always struggled with, even as a child. I can’t say that it is because my mom was impatient with me because I really don’t remember her being that way but I feel that my children are becoming impatient because of me. I see how they become easily frustrated with one another when they don’t get a response quickly enough. This “not being able to wait” mentality leads to frustration which leads to a loss of temper – something else they’re learning from me.

I know I am not the only parent in the world who has become so completely overwhelmed and frustrated with their children that they lose their temper. I live in a chaotic environment full of many different personality types and each and every one of the kids like to push buttons, pick on each other, do things completely out of spite and for a reaction, and all of these things lead up to the inevitable blow up. As hard as I try to remain calm and defuse these situations without raising my voice or becoming frustrated and angry, inevitably it happens anyway. I am definitely not proud of these moments, I’m horribly ashamed and regret yelling at them the very second after it happens. I can’t be surprised when they do this to each other right? I mean they see me do it so they think it is ok to yell at each other when they get upset. We preach to them about talking out their problems but it’s some what hypocritical of us because we don’t talk it through with them we just yell at them. Not always, I mean usually we start out talking calmly but after you’ve repeated yourself 1,000 times you stop being calm and composed and you start yelling because talking about it isn’t working. What we need to realize though is that when we yell at them they shut down, they hear nothing we’re saying and it’s scarring them. I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who screams at them. I want to be that mom that speaks with love and kindness because I want them to be loving and kind. Again, they’re living by example and I am not setting a good one.

I’m not sure if they’re learning spitefulness from me. I don’t see myself as a spiteful person and I can’t think of an example or a time where I exhibited that trait in front of them or towards them but it is something I am seeing in them. I see them do things to each other out of pure meanness. I’ve been told that brothers and sisters argue and fight and that it is normal behavior but I don’t feel that this type of behavior is just sibling fighting. I don’t really know how to correct this behavior so if any of you guys have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I don’t believe that we have bad children. I’ve seen bad kids and I want to believe that mine don’t fall into that category. I can admit though that they have traits and tendencies that I am not proud of and again it all befalls on us, as parents, to set the example. This is why I am taking the time to make note of all the things I see in them that make me feel sad and disappointed and then evaluating myself. If they are learning it from me, I have to reteach them by setting a better example. I know I am not perfect and I never will be but I know I can be better as a person and as a mother. Being a better parent starts with being a better “me”.

Rocking Your Baby to Sleep

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Remember a few months ago when I posted this post about Cullen becoming a bionic baby with super powers at nap time? Well he is now almost 6 months old, in fact he will be 6 months old in 2 days, and this sleep fighting mode he gets into has only gotten worse. I saw this image on Pinterest and I thought, how fitting!

how-to-get-your-baby-to-sleep

 

On television they make it look so sweet and peaceful. The mother is holding her adorable, sleeping child while rocking back and forth, such a serene moment. This, my friends, is a complete and utter lie! That shit doesn’t happen in real life, at least not in my house. Let me paint you a picture of sleep/nap time with Cullen, the super bionic octopus baby.

Now that Cullen is almost 6 months old, he stays awake for longer periods of time. His awake time is spent eating, playing, watching his shows, rolling in the floor, laughing, and babbling at his siblings. This lasts for about 2 hours. Once we pass that 2 hour mark, he becomes possessed by a whining, grumpy demon. His eyes turn red, he starts growling and wailing quite loudly. This is my sign; this is how I know it is time to put him to down for a nap. I do what any other loving mother does. I pick him up, hold him close, give him his pacifier, and sit down with him so that I can coax him to sleep. The simple motion of sitting down on the couch unleashes the second demon. The one that gives Cullen body convulsions. He begins to flutter kick both legs at full force, his back arches, head bends backwards, and he pushes with all of his strength against me with his arms to break free out of my arms.

This isn’t much different from what he started doing at 3 months old except that now he’s taken to gagging himself with his pacifier, crying while his eyes are actually closed, whimpering when he’s almost asleep, and randomly kickboxing whoever is holding him when he realizes that he’s almost given in to sleep. The swaddle strait jacket method is no longer effective because these anti sleep demons that possess him make him too strong, he breaks free of the blanket and the simple act of wrapping him sets him into a siren screaming frenzy. I’m constantly amazed that this tiny human is stronger than I am. After about 10-15 minutes of wrestling possessed sleepy Cullen, he gives in and falls asleep. Thankfully because after all that, I have bruises, dead arms, and a headache.

I think putting anti sleep demon possessed babies to sleep should be an Olympic sport. I could totally take home the gold medal. Speaking of the little monster, he’s awake! Until next time….

Homemade Laundry Detergent

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I’ve been trying to hold off on posting this until I had a more accurate account of how long this homemade laundry soap is going to last our family but honestly I just can’t resist anymore. As you probably all know by now, if you’ve been following the blog, we are a family of 7 and have recently become a 1 income family. We are always looking for ways to spend less on necessities. You can imagine that we wash a lot of laundry around here so obviously saving money on laundry detergent was something we were looking to do.  We have tried a few variations of homemade laundry soap but this one is our favorite and we have to say thank you to my friend Charity for sharing the recipe with us.

homemade laundry soap

What you’ll need:

  • 1 box of Borax (4 lb 12 ox)
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3 lb 7 oz)
  • 1 container of OxyClean (3 lb) – this item is optional but is highly recommended
  • 2 bars of Zote Soap (14.1 oz)
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lb)
  • 1-2 bottles of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener – this item is also optional but recommended (save the bottle to put detergent in)
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • cheese grater

Directions:

  1. Grate the bars of zote soap. We got lucky enough to borrow an electric grater for this process and it made it go by really quickly.
  2. Mix all ingredients into a 5 gallon bucket.
  3. Save the Purex Crystals bottle and fill it with the mixed detergent for easy storage and use. Store remaining detergent in the 5 gallon bucket with a lid on it (bucket will be about half way full)

That’s it! This is not a difficult project at all. We made our batch on January 4th which was 10 days ago and I’ve done 19 loads of laundry since we made it. We have two of the Purex bottles filled with the laundry soap and I’ve just barely used half of one bottle on those 19 loads. We use the cap from the bottle to measure our soap. The total cost after tax on this detergent was about $29. The upfront cost is obviously much higher than our old detergent but we haven’t even begun to put a dent in the detergent so the price per load is going to be far less than with our old detergent. It is estimated that this will last a family of 4 about 6 months. We are keeping a tally sheet to see exactly how many loads and how long this detergent lasts our family of 7.

We really wanted to know how much money we’re saving by using it considering our old detergent lasted about 3 weeks and cost us between $8-$10. That’s the biggest reason I was waiting to post this, I wanted to really “wow” you guys with the savings but I just couldn’t help myself. We have high efficiency machines and this detergent is safe to use and the laundry actually smells clean when we pull it out of the drawer. That’s something our old detergent didn’t do. The clothes were clean, stains would come out but once we put the clothes away, the smell was gone. We washed our bedding in the new detergent and for about a week they still smelled clean. The staying power of the smell is mostly because of the Purex Crystals. These are optional but if you really want the clothes to smell fresh and clean for a long period of time, don’t omit the Crystals.

Once we finally use all of our detergent, I’ll edit this to let you know exactly how many loads we got out of it and how long it lasted. If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it!