Archive for April 2012

Monday, April 30, 2012

coupon codes for free and discounted mother's day cards! {affiliate offer}

I just found out about Treat, a brand new greeting card company that has great stuff! Am I the last to know? Have you seen it yet? 
They have a great sale going on through Mother’s Day for first time customers (can you believe it's time for Mother's Day already?). If you go to the Treat web site and use the promo code FREETREAT, you can get any one card for free. If you use the code AFFTREAT, you can get unlimited cards for only $0.99 each.
If you've already used these codes, Treat gave me some good news today, they are opening up a new sale, but you won’t find it on their site.
If you use the code TREAT199, you can get 33% off unlimited cards, just in time for Mother’s Day. This code is only good for a week, through May 7.
Here is how it works:
·         You choose your card from their thousands of designs.
·         Personalize it with photos, nicknames, inside jokes, whatever you want to add. This is your chance to make it YOUR card. Be creative.
·         If you are a first time customer, when you checkout, get unlimited cards for $0.99 each. Use the code AFFTREAT to get this special deal. You can also choose to get just one card for free. Use code FREETREAT for that. If this is your second order with Treat, use the code TREAT199 to get 33% off unlimited cards this week.
They have cards for all kinds of occasions:
Do not procrastinate sending your Mother's Day cards! Your mom/mother-in-law/grandmas deserve at least a card! But it's okay to save money while you're at it--check out Treat today and take advantage of any of these three awesome promotions.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

PolkaDaisy giveaway

We are so excited to be featuring a PolkaDaisy giveaway on our site today! PolkaDaisy was started by a girl named Michelle Smith.  She received an uppercase and lowercase font set for Christmas, and a hobby turned into a business! It was easy turning this fun hobby into a business because Michelle has always been a bit of a romantic thinker (but now always in the sense of chocolates and snuggling!).  She carries her life experiences with her wherever she goes because she believes that it shapes us into who we are today.

PolkaDaisy has such beautiful hand stamped jewelry. I love the Key To Happiness necklace...

 Also, the Beauty Squared necklace...
The Dessert First bracelet sure suits me...
These pieces would make fabulous Mother's Day gifts! Today, PolkaDaisy is being so generous and offering a Two Tags necklace to one of our readers! 
This necklace and is great and you can stamp anything you want to on those little tags! (up to 12 characters each) You can also pick 2 crystals or pearls to go with it!

All you need to do to enter to win one of these beautiful necklaces is visit the PolkaDaisy site and find your favorite item and then come back and leave us a comment saying what it is. For a second entry, you can subscribe to the PolkaDaisy Newsletter and for a third entry you can like PolkaDaisy on Facebook. Good Luck! This giveaway will end on Wednesday, May 2nd at 11:59pm PT.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

make it sew modern {giveaway winner}

Thanks to everyone who entered our giveaway for Vanessa of V. and Co.'s new sewing book, Make It Sew Modern! If you're not our winner, you should definitely get yourself a copy of this book. All the projects are darling and the instructions are super clear and easy to follow. Thanks, V! You are a doll.

Our lucky winner of the signed copy (she even wrote a cute note!) of Make It Sew Modern is. . .

Veronica of sewVery!

Congrats! We've sent you an e-mail with details about your prize. Thanks again for entering!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

framed dresses centerpiece {tutorial}

Last month I was put in charge of centerpieces and other decor for a celebration of our church's women's organization's (Relief Society) 170th birthday. We used a popular theme that has been passed around during the last couple of years. It was based on the children's book The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, which teaches love, acceptance, and forgiveness.
We also set a goal to collect 100 dresses to donate to the local women's shelter for women entering the workforce. You can find some great ideas here if you want to plan a similar activity for your group. And here are some fun centerpiece ideas that would work for this theme or for a bridal shower, tea party, or little girl's birthday party! These would even be cute in a little girl's room (something I would know nothing about).

I cut this dress out of several patterned papers using my Silhouette machine, then mounted them on a book page (to go with the literary theme). Then I framed them in various frames to use on the tables (this one was on the buffet table).

 I made about 30 frames, and I had to do it on the cheap. Enter the $1 Walmart frame.

I had originally planned on having several people loan me frames to use, but I later decided I wanted them to match. In addition to a couple of thrift store finds, I found a couple of sizes of plain black wood frames at Walmart for a buck. But they looked like they cost a buck. Bring on the sand paper and spray paint! 

I left some frames plain black and just sanded the edges for a distressed look. I was surprised at how much cuter they looked with just a little distressing!

My colors were aqua, pink, and black. So I sprayed some of the frames aqua and let them dry. Then I took my sandpaper to them as well. I loved how the black showed through a little.

I didn't have a chance to take pictures at the dinner, so use your imagination. We had white tablecloths and each table had a vase of my coffee filter flowers surrounded by 3 of the framed dresses.

In the area where we were collecting dress donations, we hung this cute dress bunting (which I also used as part of my Easter mantel display.

I just hung the leftover dresses from the framing project on a piece of jute with cute mini clothes pins.

And in between dresses I folded a paper doily in half and glued it together. Probably the quickest bunting/banner I've ever put together!

This was such a sweet activity, reminding us of our responsibility as daughters of God to reach out and include others in our circle of friends, not to judge others by appearance or circumstance, to forgive others when they do not show the same kindness, and to show God's love through service. I love that I got to help my sisters in the gospel enjoy a wonderful night together with a few $1 frames and some doilies! Hopefully these simple decorations will inspire you for your next girly get-together!

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Fun with Veggies {free cookbook!}

This post is sponsored by Country Crock. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

I don't know about you, but I am always looking for creative ways to get my boys to eat more veggies. They love certain veggies, but sometimes to get them to eat other varieties is such a pain! I have found that if I can get creative in my presentation, they are much more likely to delve into a pile of veggies. I also love to add some Country Crock to the veggies for added flavor and my kids love it that way.

I recently downloaded the Clare Crespo Cookbook which is full of fun, whimsical, step-by-step recipes that families are sure to love. It has really fun ideas to get creative with veggies. I made the Peas & Thank You Recipe and my boys loved it! It couldn't get more simple than this!

                                                            (photo credit: Country Crock)

Peas & Thank You Recipe
7 carrots, peeled
2 Tbsp. Country Crock® Spread
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup water
1 pound frozen green peas, thawed
(or about 3 cups fresh peas)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
or mint
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Using a small paring knife cut a small “v” shaped wedge out of the length of carrot. Trim the lower two sides of the carrot to make a point (this will be the bottom of the heart). Slice carrot into pieces. Repeat these steps with remaining carrots. Heat Country Crock® Spread in a large frying pan over
medium heat. Add shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add water and carrots and continue to cook until carrots are tender, about 8 minutes. Add peas and cook until heated through, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in parsley or mint and black pepper.

The cookbook offers so many other fun recipes like zucchini boats, corn rocket ships, potato mice, veggie stoplights, and so many other creative ideas to make fun veggies that your kids will love to eat!

Are you looking for quick and simple tips and recipes to make serving veggies more fun? Download the free Clare Crespo Cookbook here for fun and whimsical recipes your family is sure to love!

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

my new favorite sewing book {giveaway}

I've mentioned a couple of times that we're renting a furnished house for a year. We didn't bring a stick of furniture or any home decor items. Needless to say I got busy really quickly adding some fun accents to make the place feel a little more like our home. I bought fabric to make a bunch of throw pillows for the sectional, and I finished a couple, but until last month still had a pile of fabric and pillow inserts sitting in my craft room.

I visited my friend Vanessa of V. and Co. the last time I was up her way (she's another recent Iowa transplant) and she was sweet enough to give me a copy of her new book, Make It Sew Modern. Lucky me! It is amazing. I love every project and all her little sewing tips and tricks. She is such a pro (check out her newest venture--online sewing classes!). I love the little bits of texture she uses in her projects, and the book was just the inspiration I need to finish my pillows. . .

 . . .like these cute rosettes! I knew I wanted this design, but I didn't know exactly how to sew them on as I went. She had a similar project that showed it step-by-step. Yahoo!

And her perfect pleating tutorial helped me with this one. She did it waaay better than the way I was going to do it.

If you don't own this book yet, it's your lucky day! Vanessa gave me a second copy of Make It Sew Modern to giveaway to one of our darling readers! Check out Vanessa's blog (as if you haven't already), and leave us a comment with your favorite V. and Co. project and you'll be entered to win. Yea! Do it by Wednesday, April 18, 2012 or you'll be too late!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

how (and why) to block crochet and knit projects {tutorial}

Until recently, I had never taken the time to block a crochet project. Why? Because I didn't have a fancy blocking board (and didn't want to spend the money on one). But then I finished a beautiful infinity scarf for a friend (found the free pattern here), and it just didn't look as good as the picture! It didn't lay flat and it was hard to see how pretty the pattern stitch was. I was totally disappointed and ready to find a new birthday gift for my friend. But instead of letting all that work go to waste, I decided to try blocking it. Wow. I was so amazed at the difference! My scarf was saved.

Blocking a crochet or knit piece gives it shape and sets the stitches in that shape. It can also help smooth out wrinkles or crooked rows in a project. It's pretty easy and doesn't take long to do, and it's soooo worth it! Here's my easy method (there are lots out there, I'm sure) that doesn't require a blocking board. Just some pins, a spray bottle, a tape measure, and some plastic wrap! This method works best for square or rectangular projects (blankets, scarves), but you could also use it for clothing items.

Here's my latest crochet project before (remember this looks-like-knit crochet baby blanket pattern from the other day?). . .

And the after. Better, right? I honestly could not smooth out the wrinkles in the first picture. Now the afghan lays flat.

How to Block a Crochet or Knit Project

*Finished fiber project
*Bare mattress
*Spray bottle full of water
*Pearl head pins
*Plastic wrap or plastic garbage sack larger than your project

1. Remove linens from your mattress. Lay out plastic wrap in sheets, overlapping a little, until you have an area larger than your project covered in plastic wrap. You could also use a plastic garbage bag if you have one bigger than your piece.

2. Lay your project on top of the plastic wrap. Smooth it out the best you can. Using a sewing measuring tape, find the longest and widest points (for square or rectangular projects). Mine were 35". Place a pin in the ends of the longest and widest edges.

3.  Begin placing pins about 1 inch apart along one edge.
 Use a ruler to help you keep it straight if you need to.

4. Using your tape measure, pin the opposite side, being sure you don't stretch it to longer than your longest length. So for this project, I measured 35" from the first pinned side and pinned the opposite side to that measurement all the way across.

Repeat until the entire project is shaped and pinned down. 

5. Spray the piece with water. You want it pretty wet--it needs to soak into the fibers. Allow to stay in place until completely dry. This yarn dried within a few hours, but other types of yarn may take longer to dry, so you might need to find another place to sleep! 

Once it's dry, it's blocked and you can remove the pins. No more waves or wrinkles! Yea!

You can also try this on a plush carpet if you don't want to use your bed. As long as the pins will stay in place it will work. Even though blocking takes some extra time, it is well worth the effort!

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custom vases {tutorial}

Wedding season is almost upon us, which means right now is bridal shower season! Most of my friends are married already, but that doesn't mean I don't like to set a pretty table once in a while. I just shared a tutorial for these quick and easy (and extremely cheap!) custom vases for wedding, shower, or holiday centerpieces over at Make and Takes. The best part is you can use the same vases over and over for all these different celebrations, or even just for everyday use! Check out the full tutorial at Make and Takes. . .

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

blueming deals giveaway winner

Congrats to the winner of our BlueMing Deals giveaway who is lucky enough to receive a $50 Amazon gift card! That lucky lady is....

Katlyn Larson

Enjoy your Amazon Shopping! We have passed your email address onto the sponsor so they should be emailing you to give you your prize.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

faux knit crochet baby blanket {free pattern}

When we put most of our stuff in storage for a year, I was already pregnant, which means I knew I would need the white baby blanket I crocheted for my other boys' blessings. So why did I put it in a box that is now in the depths of our storage unit 1800 miles away? I blame pregnant brain--it's a real thing. Who's with me? Oh well, it just gave me an excuse to crochet a new and improved blessing day afghan for my newest baby boy. It's so warm and cozy I have a hard time not using it for myself! Here you'll find the pattern for a super quick and easy baby afghan that is great for boys or girls. Even better, it's a great way to practice the "looks like knit" crochet stitch, which can take some time to perfect (it's all in the tension, baby). 

P.S. This makes a great photo prop for baby photographers!

"Faux Knit" Baby Afghan Pattern
*Approx. 430 yards Super Bulky yarn - I used 5 skeins of Bernat's Baby Blanket yarn in White (I found it at Walmart for less than $3 a skein!)
*Size P/10mm crochet hook (these are usually plastic--mine is made by Boye)

Stitches used: Chain (ch), single crochet (sc), slip stitch (sl st) in back loops only (blo) (watch my video tutorial for this stitch.)


Ch 71.

Row 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hk and in each ch across. Ch 1, turn.

Rows 2 - 70: Sl st in blo in 1st ch from hk and in each st across. Ch 1, turn.

Row 71: Sc in blo in 1st ch from hk and in each st across. Fasten off.

Notes: Be sure to keep stitches loose and even. The pattern stitch is easily worked too tight. Be sure to block your blanket for best results. (Blocking tutorial here!) Approximate size is 35" x 35". Easily make it bigger by adding more chains in the beginning and adding rows until it looks square.

I think he likes it!

This post sponsored by

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

free easter subway art printable {download}

Yay! My friend Lori of Sister Secrets was willing to share another darling subway art with us for Easter!

I thought the cute spring words (with polka dots and fun fonts!) would make a fabulous backdrop for my decoupaged Easter eggs. The colors are perfect!

So I put it inside my open frame and added it to my Easter / Spring mantel display. Love it!

Download this free Easter subway art printable now while it's still free! After this week you can find it for sale in her Etsy shop. Thanks Lori--love you!

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

decoupage easter egg decor {tutorial}

I know, Easter is this week, but I haven't been able to find a second to put this tutorial together! These fun decoupage Easter eggs have been up on my mantel for a couple of weeks, but in between making and photographing them, my husband and I have been traveling (job interviews--we're in the home stretch!), attending school music programs and scouting banquets, trying to sneak in workouts outside on the trail while the weather is heavenly, and oh yeah, using up at least a couple of hours a day just staring at my little guy! Now that he is constantly smiling, giggling, and carrying on the sweetest conversations, I am getting even less done while the big boys are at school. But I am not going to apologize for that, even if I am not getting as much done as I should. It's the best part of my day, and I know how quickly this baby stage passes.

Luckily, these eggs are quick and easy to put together, so you still have time. I'm going to make up a few more for my Easter dinner table centerpiece!

Decoupage Easter Egg Tutorial

*Styrofoam eggs (I found these at JoAnn)
*Patterned papers (or fabric would work)
*Mod Podge or other decoupage medium (I used matte finish)
*Foam brush
*Ribbon, trim, buttons, pearl-head pins, etc.

I started this project similar to the way I did my decoupage bunny last week, but I ran into some problems with both the patterned paper and the Styrofoam eggs and had to tweak my technique. In order to preserve the paper and help it adhere more quickly to the Styrofoam egg, I brushed the Mod Podge directly onto the paper instead of onto the egg.

1. Tear strips of patterned paper about 1" wide. Cover the back of a strip with Mod Podge.

2. Place the strip on the egg and press down for a few seconds.

3. Flatten the paper by creating small wrinkles. Add another strip, slightly overlapping previous strip. Continue until entire egg is covered with paper.

4. Cover entire egg with a layer of Mod Podge. Smooth out paper and make sure it is completely adhered. Allow to dry.

5. Once your egg is dry, you're ready to decorate it with your trims, buttons, and other bling. I took a piece of ruffled ribbon (see tutorial here) and pressed a piece of double-sided craft tape down the middle. 

Remove the tape's backing and press ribbon around the center of the egg.

For this egg I added a button in the middle of the ribbon.

This egg is decorated with a piece of ric rac held in place by pearl-head pins, pressed into the egg. 
These eggs would be darling in a bowl as part of a centerpiece or on a wreath, but I wanted to hang them from my frame (that I also used for my Christmas and Valentine's decor!).

6. To hang eggs, cut a length of ribbon and align one end with the top center of an egg. Press a pin into it to secure. That's it!

I hung three eggs in the center of my open frame and added it to my spring mantel decor in my kitchen. I love how bright and cheery it makes the room look!

 This post sponsored by First Century Studios.

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