Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Product Reviews and Sponsored Posts On My Blog

Just wanted to let you know that in the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some new and fun products with you plus there will also be some giveaways. First one is tomorrow!

There will be more of these posts than usual in the next few weeks, just because it’s the holidays so there are a lot of campaigns and events going on. It may seem that reviews are taking over but I want to be clear that the focus of this blog is mainly to share my craft tutorials, thrifty finds and creative inspiration with you.

That being said, I will be pursuing more sponsored opportunities for my blog in the future. I enjoy learning about new products and telling you about them. I will try my best to keep the posts relevant to your interests. If I find a product to be useful, you might be interested in it too because you read this blog and therefore probably have similar interests to mine. And my opinions on the products will be my own, not swayed by anyone or anything.

I know that some don’t like it when bloggers are paid for their posts. I won’t go and justify my reasons or anyone else’s reasons in detail and I don’t want to make a big deal out of this. But basically, running a craft blog takes time as well as money. If I am compensated for my time and money spent on crafting and blogging, it will only make this blog better. It will only make ME better. Plus, I’d like to buy my husband a present or a nice dinner out. And that’s all the explaining I’d like to do on this subject.

So in summary, now and then there may be some product reviews, sponsored posts, giveaways or affiliate links on this blog that I will try to keep relevant to you, while giving me a little somethin’-somethin’ to keep things going around here. I do not expect the overall feel or purpose of this blog to change. If anything, it might improve around here! I will still be bringing you the best (free) tutorials that I can create.

I hope you understand and continue to support this blog. But if sponsored posts, reviews, giveaways or affiliate links make you feel uncomfortable or negative, you can simply skip those posts, or even unsubscribe/unfollow my blog. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I also don’t want you to stay if you no longer like it around here.

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy what’s to come on my blog. I am looking forward to it myself!

siggy

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Snowflake Gift Card Holder

My niece and nephew are a tween and a teen, respectively. Thus, they love gift cards. I thought I’d dress up their gifts this year by creating a personalized gift card holder, attaching a little envelope onto the humble toilet roll snowflake.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holiday Wreath Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Holiday Wreath Giveaway is…

WreathWinner

Evelene S.!!!

I’ve sent you an email, Evelene!

Thank you so much to all who entered the giveaway! If you didn’t win, you can learn how to make this wreath with my Spring Yarn Embroidery Hoop Wreath tutorial but use whatever holiday colors you wish. It’s a great project for sitting in front of the TV and crafting.

Have a great Thanksgiving Week!

siggy

Friday, November 18, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Fabric Pinecones

Pinecones signify the beginning of frosty weather to me, and they also bring back memories of crafts I did with my mom during the holidays (I wonder if she still has the pinecone Christmas tree we made). So I made some fabric pinecones now that it’s finally sweater weather around here.

Fabric Pinecones

I was blessed to receive another generous box of Martha Stewart Crafts Paints and Tools by Plaid. I used the Martha Stewart Fabric Stiffener as well as their line of glitter to make the pinecones.

Fabric_Pinecones

It was also my first time trying out cutting fabric using my little Cricut machine. I cut out several sizes of a flower shape and stacked them up to form the pinecones.

FabricPinecones

Materials:

fabricpinecones1

  • Cotton fabrics. For the glittery pinecone, I used white fabric, and for the other two I used two contrasting fabrics each.
  • Cricut cutting machine (not shown) and Cricut supplies: Pagoda cartridge (though any flower shape would do) and cutting mat (the stickier the better). Note: you can always cut the flower shape by hand.
  • Heat n’ Bond Ultra fusible webbing (I tried HnB Lite and Steam-A-Seam2 to cut fabric in the Cricut, but neither worked for me).
  • Painter’s tape
  • Wooden beads and stuff to paint them with: a skewer with a rubber band and a jar (to act as your 3rd hand), another skewer for drying beads, Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Satin Paints in coordinating colors, and Martha Stewart paint brushes.
  • Martha Stewart Glitter Paint and Martha Stewart Pouncer brush.
  • Natural twine and tapestry needle

Directions:

First I created a test pinecone with paper to figure out sizing and how many of each size I would need. The pagoda cartridge had this flower with slits in between each petal. The exact flower I chose was also in the sizing diagram on the cartridge. I have a regular (i.e. the smallest) Cricut, which can cut shapes between 1 inch and 5.5 inches in size. The cutting mat is 6x12 inches.

 fabricpinecones2

So I cut out a few in each size

fabricpinecones3

And came up with this. Will tell you the exact number of each size below. In addition, between some of the flowers I added a wooden bead to space them out properly.

fabricpinecones4

I wanted the pinecones to be two different colors on each side of the flower, so that some of the contrasting print/color would show on the underside. So I cut out a piece of fabric for each color plus a piece of Heat N Bond in the same size, to fit the cutting mat (so no larger than 6x12 inches).

fabricpinecones5

First I fused the Heat N Bond to the wrong side of one piece of fabric and waited for it to cool.

fabricpinecones6

Then I peeled off the paper, leaving the fusible webbing on the fabric.

 fabricpinecones7

Then put the wrong side down on top of the webbing, and fuse. Make sure you follow the directions of the Heat N Bond before use.

fabricpinecones8

Now you have a double-sided fabric that is also rather stiff for the Cricut blade to cut. Note: I’ve never tried to cut just one single layer of fabric. I’ve heard it doesn’t work. Maybe iron a piece of freezer paper underneath the fabric? Hmm.

fabricpinecones9

Note: if you want to cut by hand, you can also do the above, trace a flower onto the fabric and cut with scissors. Just use a flower with slits along the sides of each petal.

It’s important to use a really sticky mat, because fabric doesn’t stick as well as paper and the fabric will move around and you won’t get clean cuts (or any cuts at all). So to secure it down further, I stuck some painters tape all around the edges of the fabric.

fabricpinecones10

Then adjust your settings. From all the zillion YouTube videos I watched on how to cut fabric with the Cricut, they all recommend the deepest setting on the blade (6), the highest pressure, and minimum to low speed. Also, after you’ve loaded the mat, manually place the blade with the arrow keys to not cut over the tape. Then select your size and the flower (in this case, shift flower 8) and cut.

fabricpinecones11 

fabricpinecones12

When it’s done cutting, remove it from the cutting mat. For me, it would cut most of the flower, but not totally cleanly. So I used scissors to cut off the rest. It wasn’t too bad.

fabricpinecones13

Here’s the cut flower, front and back.

fabricpinecones14

Now it’s time to apply the stiffener. I just squirt some onto a paper plate and used a flat brush.

fabricpinecones15

I liberally covered both sides with the stiffener.

fabricpinecones16

Then I pinched each petal downward (this is why you need a flower with slits between the petals).

fabricpinecones17

After sitting for a few hours, it holds its shape.

fabricpinecones18

You can even curl the ends up like a real pinecone, which reveals the contrasting print underneath.

fabricpinecones19

Okay, here’s how many of each size you need to cut (11 flowers total):

Number of Flowers Measurement (Inches)
Two 2
Two 2.5
One 3
Three 3.5
Two 4
One 4.5
 
So after you’ve cut out all the flowers, brushed on the stiffener, paint the beads (that will go in between some of the layers) while the stiffener dries.

fabricpinecones20

I also painted a thrifted picture frame I had on hand, with Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Satin Paint outfitted with a sponge tip.

fabricpinecones21

Once everything has dried, you can start assembling the pinecones. Here is the order of the flower sizes and beads to make the pinecone:

Top
Bead
2
2.5
3.5
4.5
Bead
4
Bead
4
Bead
3.5
Bead
3.5
Bead
3
Bead
2.5
Bead
2
Bead
Bottom

So starting from the top of the pinecone, thread on a bead, then the first four flowers.

fabricpinecones22

Then alternate between bead and flower to the bottom, ending with a bead.

 fabricpinecones23

Tie a double knot at the end to secure, as well as above the top bead. Leave a length of twine at the top for hanging.

fabricpinecones24

To make the glittery pinecones, I cut out white flowers and added the glitter on the edges. It reminded me of the pinecone tree I made with my mom, where we dusted the edges with white paint and glitter.

fabricpinecones25 fabricpinecones26

It was actually better to add the stiffener first, and then the glitter. When I did the first flower adding the glitter first (as in the above pic), I had to wait for the glitter to dry first before adding the stiffener, or else I would spread the glitter everywhere. However, when I tried adding the stiffener first, I didn’t need to wait for that to dry first before adding on the glitter.

I hung the pinecones at different lengths from the twine I wrapped around the top of the picture frame, which hangs from my wreath hook.

Fabric Pinecones

Once I figured everything out, creating the pinecones went really quickly. Mine are hanging on our front door as a wreath. You could also make them as ornaments or garlands around the house.

Fabric_Pinecones

The Martha Stewart Paints and Tools were once again, fun and easy to use and I had great results. And I’d just like to say too that I have purchased several products from this line with my own money. I particularly love the attachments that you can put right onto the bottles. So convenient and easy for a novice painter like me to use.

This past week, I was so happy to see the paints were 30% off (through tomorrow, Saturday 11/19). I wanted to buy some to paint a shelf for the girls’ play area, and they chose a pretty purple (called Mardi Gras Beads – how fun is that). And…here’s a 40% off coupon to use til Saturday 11/19 as well: http://weeklyad.michaels.com/

Wishing you a happy and crafty holiday (which is the same thing to me)!

And be sure to visit these other bloggers who also used the Martha Stewart Paint line to create some holiday loveliness (if you’re visiting via a reader, please click through to the post to see the links).

 Full disclosure for this post here.

Linking: The Frugal Girls :: Petite Hermine :: Tip Junkie::Sassy Sites :: Rook No. 17 :: The Trendy Treehouse :: Tidy Mom:: Creation Corner :: Whipperberry :: Tatertots and Jello::Lolly Jane Boutique :: Homemaker on a Dime :: The Gunny Sack :: Love Affair With My Brother :: Sweet Little Gals Turquoise Lovin’ Party

siggy

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giveaway: Holiday Embroidery Hoop Wreath

Annie @ Santiago Twin Girls is one of my first bloggy friends, and each year at this time she hosts a Black Tuesday Giveaway event. The purpose of the event is basically to help us get ready for the holidays. That is, if you win a prize, you have one less present to shop for, or one less decoration to worry about making or buying. I’ve participated every year (so this means we’ve known each other for 3 years, which is just amazing).

This year, I’m giving away a Holiday version of my Spring Yarn Embroidery Hoop Wreath:

HolidayWreathGiveaway

The wreath is 10 inches in diameter, and I’ve left a long strand at the top so you can adjust it as needed. And if you already have a wreath, remember you can hang one anywhere these days…on another door in your home, over a mirror or frame, over your mantel, or by your tree. And I wish I had one of these to cheer up my dreary cubicle back in the day.

HolidayWreathGiveaway1

Or you could give this as a hostess gift if you’re spending Thanksgiving at a friend or family member’s house. Or if someone is moving into a new home soon, this would be perfect to give them as well.

HolidayWreathGiveaway2

I’m a little late with my giveaway (if you read my Facebook page, I confessed I thought there was another week before Thanksgiving. Yeah I was WRONG). So because the giveaway ends on Black Tuesday (November 22) this giveaway will be a short one. So if you need a wreath for the holidays, there’s not a lot of time to enter! Which brings me to…

How to Enter

  • Mandatory Entry: Just leave a comment. Maybe tell me what you’d do with the wreath. Keep or gift?
  • Optional Entry 1: Follow me on Google Friend Connect, subscribe via Reader or by Email (or if you’re already following/subscribing).
  • Optional Entry 2: Like The Silly Pearl Facebook page (or tell me you’ve liked it already)

Please leave one comment per entry (total number of entries=3). Please leave your email in one of your entries if it’s not linked to your profile or blog so I can contact you if you win.

Giveaway ends November 22 at Midnight Pacific Time. Giveaway is open worldwide. Winner will be chosen by random.org and will be contacted by email. Winner will have 72 hours to claim the prize; after that, another winner will be chosen.

PS Annie has two giveaways going on herself, sponsored by Etsy stores LilMommas and Printable Party Packs. Go here for links to the giveaways.

siggy

Monday, November 14, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Apple Turkeys

Last week, the girls made apple turkeys at school. When I picked them up, I saw a whole table full of them, waiting to go home along with their proud owners. We had to cross the parking lot to get back to the car, so the girls and I had a “discussion” on logistics i.e. how do I hold both of their apple while holding both of their hands to get to the car? And by “discussion”, I mean me making suggestions followed by loud vetoes by two little turkeys in particular. We made it to the car eventually.

Apple Turkeys - Multiples in the Kitchen

Anyways, they love their turkeys so I knew I’d be making more this week for Turkey Day as they’d want to show their creations off to Grandma and  Grandpa. They made their turkey tails with candy. My version makes them with feathery lettuce instead of candy to make a cute but a little more grown-up centerpiece.

Materials:

appleturkey1

  • Apples
  • Lettuce: Use something with narrower leaves with a thick stalk. We found this duo of red and green “artisan” lettuce at TJs. Romaine would work too.
  • Toothpicks
  • Scratch paper to make a template for the head.
  • Paper to make the head and hat. Scraps are great.
  • Glue, Scissors

Directions:

It’s best to do the lettuce part the day of. I actually made these last night and left them out on the table, only to wake up to wimpy turkey tails this morning! But you can make the head earlier.

Cut out the template for the head on scratch paper. Keep in mind the size of your apples and keep it proportionate. I shaped their heads simply, like a butternut squash. I have one facing front, and one facing to the side. Then trace onto your paper and cut two pieces.

appleturkey0

Put glue on each head and sandwich a toothpick in between.

appleturkey0c

I used a mailing envelope to make the beaks.

appleturkey0d

Cut out the hats in a contrasting color. I just free-handed a pilgrim hat. Ok it looks like a top hat. I also used a small hole punch for the eyes.

appleturkey0e

Repeat everything for the front-facing turkey. I used a Paper Source catalog for the hat. From the spring. Hoarding for craft purposes is okay.

appleturkey0b

Cut your apple along the side, at an angle so the apple doesn’t roll around. Your kid(s) may or may not suck on the cut-off apple piece all day long and you may or may not throw it away in secret after it has turned brown and icky. Practice looking innocent when they start looking for it.

appleturkey2

DSC07001

For the lettuce tails, stick a toothpick through the stalk as straight-down as possible. Do about 3 or 4.

appleturkey3

Poke the head onto the apple towards the front. You’re done.

appleturkeys

Took me longer to write this post than to make them!

There are a zillion things you can use for the tails. The lettuce are quite delicate and maybe not as easy to work with for kids. You can use all kinds of treats skewered onto the toothpicks to make them more kid-friendly. Maybe I’ll go get some marshmallows.

Happy Thanksgiving from my little turkeys (ignore the burnt one).

Turkey_thumb 

Steph

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