Thursday, October 23

CRAFT | Mini Monster Milk Jars + Cricut Explore®

DISCLOSURE: This project is being considered for a prize from Cricut.

Are these not the cutest Mini Monster Milkshakes you've ever seen?
I'm in love with them!! The adorable bottles from The TomKat Studio are the perfect backdrop for creating these Mini Monster Milk Jars using your Cricut Explore® - or a pair of scissorsif you have the patience for the intricacies of the "Frankenstein" faces. *wink*

Yep! You guessed it. It's time for another Cricut Design Space Star Challenge.
My team and I chose a "Black and White" theme for our projects to go along with the pre-determined Cricut topic: Holiday Home Decor + Gift Ideas.

I thought these mini milk jars were perfect to share as they not only add some fun decor to your Halloween celebrations…but they'd make super cute favor jars filled with colored Sixlets® as well!! (these jars come with lids too - yes…yes they do!! - 4th picture from the bottom of the post).

What's surprising is that although all of these faces are unique…they were created from only two simple facial designs…a ghost face and a frankenstein face. I just mixed up the different elements (eyes, mouths) and even changed the size on a couple to create some real "monsterpieces". Ha! (I'm such a dork).

I think the Frankies are my faves!!

The bottles are filled with milkshakes…vanilla for the Ghosts and mint chocolate chip for the "Frankies". A little ice cream + splash of milk…blend it up and pour it in. You could also do healthy green smoothies for the Frankies too!!  And of course…don't forget to add a cute party straw. (cut a normal straw in two).

Before I get started on the "How-To" for creating the monster faces…please know that you can make them using black vinyl OR white card stock. I made mine using black vinyl…BUT I wanted to experiment with the brand-new "Print the Cut" feature on the Cricut Explore® - which allows you to print an image onto your home printer first and then feed it into your Cricut Explore® for cutting! Yeah. Pretty freaking amazing.

So…the images you see here were cut from black vinyl but you could totally do it with card stock too. The card stock isn't moisture-resistant like the vinyl but would work just fine if the jars were filled with candies!

So…enough with the ghoulishness…let's get on with the how-to for making these fun Halloween treats.

1 set of printable Mini Monster Milk Jar Bottle Faces - Pen N' Paper Flowers
1 set of 12 Mini Glass Jars - The TomKat Studio
1 Cricut Explore® Cutting Machine
12x12 Standard Cutting Mat
White Card Stock or Black Cricut® Vinyl

Upload saved image to Cricut Design Space

Use the "Select & Delete" option to erase the white background of the image.
Just click anywhere on the white background and it will disappear

Use the "Erase" tool to erase the black text on the image - push "Continue" when done.
Leave behind only the portions you want the machine to cut.

I figured out later I could've probably used the "Crop" feature (upper right) to select the images I wanted to cut instead of the "Erase" feature but hey…I'm still learning the ins and outs of the machine! *wink*

Save the image after naming it and adding tags in the boxes over to the right.

I made sure mine was about 8" wide (see below)

In the layers box, click on the tiny printer icon. 
This opens the pop-out window to the left showing the "print" feature.
***Skip this step if you are cutting from black vinyl and will not be printing***
Vinyl users can just push the "Go" button and load black vinyl into machine for cutting.

After you've printed your image using your personal printer, place your paper on your Cricut® Cutting Mat and follow the onscreen directions to load and cut your image. I used white card stock.

See those 3 L-shaped marks on the paper I printed? Those are a really important part of the Cricut Explore® "Print then Cut" feature. They are what the machine reads to ensure proper alignment before the cutting process begins. It's pretty cool…and amazing! See more photos below.

If you are using the new Print & Cut feature for the first time you will have to calibrate your Cricut Explore® machine first - the software walks you through the steps to do that. 
If you have ANY issues at all you can call Customer Support at 877-7CRICUT 

See that little beam of light shining onto the paper from underneath the cutting carriage? 
That's the machine reading the crop marks…prepping for cutting. It starts with the crop mark on the top left, moves over to the top right crop mark and scrolls down to the bottom left one. 
It's so cool to watch it in action!!

And now it's cutting…look at how precise the cuts are? 
Maybe you can't even tell what parts have already been cut because the cutting detail is amazing?

Here it is…all finished cutting. 
I peeled up the white card stock and left the black images stuck to the mat.

Mix and match the assortment of eyes and mouths to create a variety of faces.
Just by angling/tilting them a little differently makes a big difference in their appearances too!

For those of you who don't have a Cricut Explore® you can still print the FREE printable Mini Monster Milk Jar Bottle Faces onto a piece of card stock and then use a pair of handy scissors to cut them out. Use your favorite adhesive to stick them on.

Hope you love the project, friends!!
I'll be sharing the rest of the fun, creative things Team 14 came up with….soon!!

I think I kept these in the freezer for a week before I was able to actually photograph them!
You'd never even know!! Ha!!


Wednesday, October 22

STYLING | Favorite Fall Decor

I just ADORE this little tray of pretty Fall things I've got sitting on my kitchen island right now. It's really pretty simple - which makes it perfect.

Remember when I shared the pitcher and flowers just after I purchased them?
Well that adorable handmade fabric pumpkin is something that just arrived this week…and I thought it was perfect to add to the tray!  I was so excited to get it from my friend Tammy at Cloth and Patina. Remember Tammy? She's the one that supplied me with the pretty things for the "Unlock the Spirit of the Holiday Season" dessert table I did a few years ago. I adore her stuff and recently found her on Instagram! Yay! You can find Cloth and Patina on Facebook too - she's got a very loyal following of fans and shares the most beautiful creamy white home interiors and home decor photos - other people's photos as well as her own!

Hope this inspires you to get decorating for Fall…just in case you haven't started!

List of Sources
Dried Star Flowers - Hobby Lobby
White Pitcher - HomeGoods
Wooden Tray - JoAnn's (from a couple years ago)
Handcrafted Fabric Pumpkin - Cloth and Patina 
Pinecones - find these sold in bags at your local craft store…OR if you are lucky enough to have smaller ones like this around your home go out and collect some with your littles. (just make sure there aren't any bugs in them - *wink*)

I've been going from one project deadline to the next - things seem like a whirlwind around here.
I'm happy to say the "Friendsgiving" I've been dreaming about is officially on the calendar! Yay!
Not sure the fire pit aspect will actually happen…like I'm pretty sure it WON'T happen at all. Boo!

Oh!! And after 5 years of blogging I've finally got an official "ABOUT" page coming soon - stay tuned I'm pretty sure you'll be surprised by some of the things you may have never known… (oh the suspense…ha)!


Monday, October 20

BEHIND THE SCENES | Field of Dreams

Clara, Ella and Emalyn - October 2014

I shot some pretty photos of my girls over the weekend and thought I'd share a peek with you!!

Isn't this field just AWESOME!?  It's the same field I used to shoot Ella's Wildflowers photos and was the perfect spot once again for the sort of dreamy photos I was hoping for. I think I'm going to have to give it an official nickname:  Field of Dreams (or field of dreamy photos at least)

I love the candidness of this particular photo because as a mom…I can see right through the image and see the personalities of each of these VERY different girls.

CLARA has most likely just tripped over something and is laughing at her clumsiness and will probably not even like this photo because her dress was blowing which will make her feel she looks like she's with child. (which she is not…just to be clear). *wink*

ELLA is staring off at the next patch of flowers she can't wait to pick and is happiest surrounded by her sisters...and holding Ema's hand.

EMA is irritated and hates having her photo taken but is trying to make the most of it. She always lightens up though when Clara laughs so I managed to capture a little smirk she probably didn't even know I got.

I love candids vs. posed photographs when it comes to capturing people.
They tell so much about a subject…when the subject doesn't even realize the camera is rolling.

Which leads me to something I probably should've shared years ago...
I actually had a person tell me one time that they don't like how I take photos of people facing away from the camera or where the subject's face is a little obscured. I was a little caught off guard and responded by saying, "Well that's just my photography style…those are the types of photos I prefer." The person's response? "Well you need to change your photography style."

What the what?
Who says stuff like that?
The person was directly attacking my creativity…and ME as a person.
I could NOT believe it.

I think I was in shock and it was almost 5 years ago and it still gets under my skin. But bottom line is this…

I'm not taking photos for THAT person. I'm taking photos for ME…for my home…for MY family, documenting MY life the way I see it and the way I hope to remember it. Were my feelings hurt? Absolutely. Did I change my photography style? A big freaking "Heck No!" But that exuberant "Heck No!" didn't come immediately…to be honest. I second-guessed myself for awhile and sort of got lost in the disapproval of someone that really had no credibility on the subject to begin with.

There WILL be people out there who will find pleasure in attacking you…just because.
Turn away from it. Consider the source. And do everything you can to let it go.

I'm telling you…if someone has ever offended YOU for the way you dress, fix your hair, draw, create, design, write, cook, bake, blog, paint, interpret, decorate, or photograph your subjects...PLEASE don't succumb to the criticism. Differences make the world go around and I prefer to celebrate my unique perspective on things, whatever it is, as opposed to becoming something someone else would have me be or someone I think other people want me to be. I have DONE it. I am 100% guilty of falling into that trap; Probably because I'm a pleaser and want/need the approval of others. (like so many of us do). But I'm telling you…DO NOT give into it. It's NOT a place you want to be. You won't be happy there…I promise you. I know all too well.

Being something other than who you are is NOT authentic. I hope you will celebrate your uniqueness and always follow your heart and your gut…no matter the whispers or occasionally the loud, rude shouts by the crowd.

I will be sharing more photos soon…
so if you happen to agree with the person mentioned above…
and you don't prefer candid photographs either…
that's completely okay with me.
I respect your opinion.
You're allowed to dislike my photography style.
Just be sure to cover your eyes when you visit my blog…
and please don't request that I change it for you.  *wink*

For those who are wondering:
Clara's Dress - American Eagle
Ella's Dress - The Secret Garden
Ema's Floral Tank - Kohl's & Hollister

Hope you've had a great Monday!
Mine has been…weird.
Sort of productive but not nearly as productive as I would've liked. (story of my life)

I'm getting better and better at letting go of the little things…especially the things I can't control.
I will always be a work in progress though.


Tuesday, October 14

FREE | Monthly Blog Hop Printables :: Give Thanks

Soooo excited to share with you some really cute FREE "Give Thanks" printables as part of of the FUN monthly round-up I've been doing with some fabulous bloggers. We started the "FREE Monthly printables" in January and I have to say I think the collection this month is my favorite so far because our color schemes coordinate beautifully this month and makes for a really pretty collage! Don't you think? It's all about presentation for me anyway…so of course I'm going to love the collage!! 

The printables are just as cute and there's a wide range of things including candy bar wraps, Thanksgiving table conversation starters, art prints and more!! You're going to love them all!!

Be sure to "blog hop" by using the provided links above each image below to find your way to each of the free printables!! If you download a printable I'd love for you to "Give Thanks" and leave some love (a comment) for these fabulous ladies who take their time to create fun things to help make your holidays more fun and fabulous!

by Kori Clark
A beautiful way to have Thanksgiving dinner guests record what they are grateful for

by Nest of Posies
What a cute way to commence your Thanksgiving Feast

by Catch My Party
Perfect for all of your holiday baking and gift giving

by Living Locurto
These would be great as part of your place settings, as teacher gifts or even classroom treats

by No Biggie
Adorable little cards, place settings, or gift tags

by Skip to My Lou
A fun way to get the conversation started at your Thanksgiving dinner

by Hostess with the Mostess HWTM
Everything you need to set a mod Thanksgiving dinner table

by Pen N' Paper Flowers
A cute, gentle reminder to look for the good and have an attitude of gratitude

Don't you LOVE the fun variety of things we came up with this month? I love it all!!

Don't forget about the FREE Halloween printables we shared in September!!

If you've missed the FREE PRINTABLES from previous months you can find the posts below
January - Valentine's
February - St. Patty's Day
March - Spring
April - Mother's Day
May - Patriotic
June - Happy Birthday
July - Summer
August - Back-to-School
September - Halloween

Stay tuned for free Holiday and New Year's printables as we finish out the year…

Much better day. No car troubles…kind of.
Apparently the work they did yesterday to fix everything 100% is causing an annoying temporary "jackhammer-like" vibration. J says it'll go away in a couple of days…but of course that's easy for him to say when he's not the one driving around town. Ha!! Think I'll be staying close to home for the next couple of days anyway. *wink*

Here's my Instagram post from earlier today…and that's my outlook on today!!

Whether yesterday was fabulous or a complete brings a new opportunity to DO better...BE better...or BUILD ON the "awesome" you've already started. #keepgoing #keepbelieving #keepfabulous


Monday, October 13

HALLOWEEN | Fun Printables + Cute Halloween Party Ideas

Cute Halloween ideas and FREE printables in the haunted house!
I got together with some of my very favorite Party Blogger friends and I think we came up with some pretty FUN things you can put together easily for that Halloween Party you've got coming up - or even some fun things to use for classroom party favors. I think I'll be using the Trick or Treat Boxes by Bird's Party (shown above) for Ella's classroom friends. *wink*

I'll stop talking and let you start scrolling...

by Giggles Galore
Perfect for party favors, teacher gifts or even for Phantom Pumpkin Treats

by Catch My Party
So cute for school lunches too!!

by Kori Clark
And those white pumpkin cupcakes - too cute!!

by The Cake Blog
Hello most adorable Halloween cake ever!!!

by The Celebration Shoppe
Mix + Match how you please!!

by Celebrations At Home
The kids could even have fun helping to make these!!!

by Pen N' Paper Flowers
Can't get any easier than hotdogs and french fries…am I right?

I just love the fun, easy ideas we came up with to share with you!
Hope you'll be inspired to try one (or all of them out)!!

Looking for MORE Halloween Inspiration?
Check out my "Spooky" board on Pinterest!!

Monday was trying to kick my butt again for the 2nd week in a row.
But I'm NOT giving in. See the details in my Instagram feed.


Friday, October 10

ART PRINT | Put on your Grateful Glasses

Put on your "Grateful Glasses"…
don't you just LOVE that!?

I was reading my "Daily Truth" email from Brave Girls Club and was inspired to create this FREE 5x7 Art Print for my contribution to the "Give Thanks" themed Blog Hop this month.

The email went something like this…

When you wake up every day you have a choice as to which pair of glasses you're going to reach for and wear for the day. Will it be the glasses of optimism or the "glasses of fear, pessimism, anger, resentment, and dread…"

"It is amazing how this very important decision changes everything, and deciding to put on the glasses of truth, optimism, goodness and gratitude will make everything more beautiful, more bearable and ever more fun….  Remember that you can also choose to put down the yucky glasses and put on the good ones at any point in the day…"   I love that!!  And I love this new art print too! I hope you're inspired!!

Print one for yourself and one for a friend too!!
It's such a great, simple and fun reminder that no matter what, we DO have a choice as to how we will deal with whatever life throws at us. It sounds too simple…but it really is THAT simple.

Stay tuned next week for the round up of more "Give Thanks" FREE printables from the rest of my girly blogger friends!!

Have a fantastic weekend you guys!!!

I personally needed this reminder after a bit of a really trying week.
Because of this little ole art print, I officially took off my "crappy" glasses and have put on my "grateful glasses" instead. *wink*


Thursday, October 9

FREE | Cute Halloween Food Idea for Kids

I don't know about you all but I like to do a fun dinner for my girls either on Halloween night OR on the one night during October that we do the Phantom Pumpkin. My festive Halloween dinners are never elaborate and they usually involve quick foods since we are trying to head out the door.

I came up with a super cute AND SUPER EASY "Frankenstein" themed dinner I'll be doing this year. Hotdogs and french fries never looked so cute…am I right?  Especially served up on these mini sheet pans. (see bottom of post for details about ordering these).

I lined my tray with a piece of custom printed "Boo" tissue paper, printed my black and white striped french fry holder and filled it with Ore Ida's Extra Crispy Fast Food fries aka "French Fried Franken Fingers", stuck a boiled hotdog in a bun and added a "Franken-furter" food pick, and I included a small cup of "spider web ketchup/mustard" for dipping...and dinner is done! Yay!!

I've created a FREE printable for you to easily recreate this for your littles too. 
And hey…even my teen girls appreciate this!

To print the tissue, I cut a piece of white tissue paper down to 8.5 x 11 and gently taped it to a piece of white card stock. (I used a piece of washi tape this time but transparent tape works too -  just a small piece of tape at the top and one on the side - you want it to hold the tissue in place as it's fed into your printer so it won't get jammed - but you want to be able to remove the tape easily when you are finished printing).

I cut the sheet of 8.5 x 11 tissue in half after printing so I would have two separate pieces to complete two trays.

Now we all know a meal just isn't complete without something sweet to finish it off…right? (or maybe that's just me but I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not the only one out there).

In any case... how cute is this mini monster shake…or in keeping with our Frankenstein themed Halloween dinner…a "Frozen Franken Freeze"!

It's super easy to make and I'll be sharing more information all about that cute little detail VERY soon!

I hope you're inspired!!
Do it for the kids!!! They'll LOVE it!! Pinky promise!!

Stay tuned…

This post is part of of a round up of FREE Halloween printables I'm doing with some fabulous blogging friends - this is NOT the same group I've been doing the monthly free printables.

We each took an element of a Halloween party and created a free printable using a black and orange color scheme. (I stuck with black and white and added a piece of orange washi tape - that counts, right?) Anyway, I'll be sharing the round up of all of our ideas next week…STAY TUNED for cuteness overload!!

French Fry Holder + Food Labels - Pen N' Paper Flowers
Boo Tissue Paper Template - Pen N' Paper Flowers
Mini Sheet Pans -  I just HAD to have these awhile back when Sarah Hearts mentioned them. (you can find them on Amazon BUT I scored mine for a SUPER affordable price at Webstaurant and ordered a dozen of them over the Summer - I foresee using these for picnics and for around the campfire too!! Sooo excited about that!! 

It's been an incredibly busy + unproductive week for me.
It's amazing, (+ disheartening), how sick kiddos can really throw a wrench into your plans and programs. This post was supposed to be finished and ready to go up with the rest of my blogging friends on Tuesday. *blushing*
I haven't even posted to Instagram once this week…which is highly unusual for me…seeing as how I usually share an inspirational quote everyday. I typically don't wish the days away…and I'm still not going to…but I'll be grateful when the disappointment from this week is behind me and I'm able to full-focus on the deadlines facing me over the next few days. Sure hope you all had a great week though!!





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