December 2015Occasionally Crafty: December 2015

December 31, 2015

The Handmade Hangout #82 + FEATURES

Welcome to the Handmade Hangout- where you can link up all things made by YOU!



This week I'm featuring three of my favorite projects from last week's linky.

1.  Metal Winter Sign from Kati from Houseful of Handmade for Oh My! Creative- I love this for winter now that Christmas is over.

Baby It's Cold Outside is the perfect sign for a hot cocoa or coffee bar. Make this beautiful metal Winter Sign from DIY tray to add a little sparkle to it! | OHMY-CREATIVE.COM

2.  Snowball Donut Hole Bouquet from Frugal Foodie Mama- this would be a fun idea for so many different parties!

Create an easy & festive edible centerpiece for your holiday breakfast table with this Snowball Donut Hole Bouquet.

3.  2016 Household Printables from Simply Stacie- I'm ready to get organized in the new year!

Free 2016 Household Planner Printables

Thanks to everyone for sharing your creations each week!  Now on to this week's linky.  Remember, we have just a few little rules:

1.  Become a follower of the blog where you linked up.  Of course we'd love it if you follow all our hosts on whatever platforms you use most!

Allison from A Glimpse Inside

Becca from From Gardners to Bergers

Kim from Too Much Time on My Hands

Heather from Twin Dragonfly Designs

Valerie from Occasionally Crafty

Alli from Made with HAPPY


2.  Share our button or party link in your post or wherever you share your linky parties

Occasionally Crafty

 
Link up your projects!




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December 30, 2015

Top 10 Posts of 2015


I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season and winter break with friends and family.  Now that the year is almost over, I thought we'd look back together over 2015 and see how much things have changed!
In January, my average pageviews were just over 9,000.
I ended the year with an average of 32,000.
Thank you for helping me TRIPLE my pageviews.  Please keep coming back after the holidays!
My social media numbers have also all doubled or tripled this year.  It's been so encouraging to know people are interested in what I'm doing here.  My favorite experience was translating one of my printables into French for a woman in Tahiti, French Polynesia!  It was a great reminder to me that even though I'm considered a "small" blog, there are people from all over the world I can connect with, and that each pageview is a person out there.  
I hope what I do here inspires you in some way- to try something new, to make something beautiful, or even just to think about things around you in a different way.
On that note, here are YOUR top 10 posts on Occasionally Crafty this year, in reverse order:

December 28, 2015

Chunky Yarn Winter Wreath

Bring a touch of warmth into your home with this cozy Chunky Knit Winter Wreath!


Hey all- I'm over at Kenarry: Ideas for the Home today sharing a fun wreath you can use to warm up your space this winter.

I adore chunky yarn, and the wreath I made looks so soft and fluffy you could almost use it as a pillow.

Get the full tutorial here.  Have a great week!

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December 21, 2015

Red and White "North Pole" Christmas Tree

One of the things I love about the Christmas season is how many opportunities there are to give to others.
It's so hard to pick and choose where to spend my time, money, and efforts when there are so many worthwhile causes and organizations.
I am thrilled to partner with Christmas Tree Market this year to decorate a tree for a non-profit organization in my community called Devereaux Arizona.
It provides many services across our state for children and families with learning, behavior, and emotional difficulties.  Some of the services include Residential Treatment Centers, Day School, Outpatient Services, Prevention Programs, Respite, Short-term Residential Treatment, Adult Foster Care, and Foster Care for children.

Christmas Tree Market donated a beautiful 6 foot, pre-lit tree, and I was able to use some of my craftiness to set up and decorate the tree in one of the Respite homes at the center.  It's wonderful to hope that this tree might bring a little bit of joy and happiness to cheer the people staying there.


I chose to decorate in red and white, with peppermint style ornaments,


Santa heads,


and a Santa hat for a tree topper.


It was fun to make the tree look its very best.  I chose this theme because it is fun and perfect for kids as well as adults.  I made sure to include shatterproof ornaments so that any mishaps won't cause a big mess.


I hope it brings a smile to a face or two this holiday season.  A huge thank you to Christmas Tree Market for helping bring the Christmas spirit to Devereaux this holiday season!

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December 18, 2015

Mini Banana Cream Pies

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MinionsMovieNight #CollectiveBias


My kids and minions have one thing in common- they both are crazy about bananas!

I can't even keep them in the house.  I hear people talk about using their overripe bananas in breads and muffins, and I think "Overripe bananas?  What are those?"

We are celebrating the recent release (12/8/15) of Minions © 2015 Universal Studios.  All Rights Reserved.   I picked a copy of the movie, (purchase yours from the retailers available here)

and made my kids a special dessert to celebrate their love of minions (and bananas).


Your family will love these Banana Cream Mini Pies too!
Ingredients:
1 (9 inch) pie crust, cut into circles and baked (see directions below)
For custard:
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch (or 1/3 cup flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks in a small bowl, slightly beaten 
2 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 4 ripe bananas

I cheated and bought a ready made pie crust, but you can make your own if you want.  Roll it out into a circle, then use a large circle biscuit/cookie cutter to cut the dough into small circles.


Place each circle of pie dough into the bottom of a greased muffin tin, stretching it slightly to go up the sides.  You're going to want a "lip" of crust when it is baked.  (Wow- my muffin tins have seen better days!)


Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Let cool, then remove to a tray or plate.

Meanwhile, mix your custard.  Begin by scalding your milk in a large saucepan.  To scald milk, you heat it on medium-high to the edge of boiling (but NOT boiling).  Steam should be rising from your milk.

As it is scalding, mix together sugar, cornstarch (or flour), and salt in a small bowl.

When milk is hot, pour the dry ingredients slowly into the scalded milk, stirring constantly.  Continue to heat and stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken.

Turn heat down to medium-low and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Slowly pour about half a cup of your milk mixture into your egg yolks, stirring constantly.  When egg yolk mixture is thoroughly combined, pour it back into the rest of the milk mixture, again stirring constantly.  This keeps the eggs from scrambling and getting lumpy in your custard.  

Cook one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Stir gently until butter melts completely.  Let cool in the pan until lukewarm.


When custard has cooled off, slice bananas and place them at the bottom of your mini pie shells. 


 Using a spoon, pour custard over the banana chunks and let set.


Top with whipped cream, 



or for an extra Illumination Entertainment's Minions movie touch, drizzle with "Scarlet Overkill" Strawberry Puree first!  (This was my daughter's idea!)  It's just strawberries pureed in the blender and mixed with a little simple syrup.


Keep leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container.  

Banana Cream Mini Pies

Click here for a printable recipe

Ingredients:
1 (9 inch) pie crust, cut into circles and baked (see directions below)
For custard:
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch (or 1/3 cup flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks in a small bowl, slightly beaten 
2 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 to 4 ripe bananas
  1. Bake pie crust circles in muffin tins at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Let cool, then remove to a tray or plate.
  2. Meanwhile, mix your custard.  Begin by scalding your milk in a large saucepan.  To scald milk, you heat it on medium-high to the edge of boiling (but NOT boiling).  Steam should be rising from your milk.
  3. As it is scalding, mix together sugar, cornstarch (or flour), and salt in a small bowl.
  4. When milk is hot, pour the dry ingredients slowly into the scalded milk, stirring constantly.  Continue to heat and stir constantly until mixture begins to thicken.
  5. Turn heat down to medium-low and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.
  6. Slowly pour about half a cup of your milk mixture into your egg yolks, stirring constantly.  When egg yolk mixture is thoroughly combined, pour it back into the rest of the milk mixture, again stirring constantly.  This keeps the eggs from scrambling and getting lumpy in your custard.  
  7. Return to the heat and cook one more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla.  Stir gently until butter melts completely.  Let cool in the pan until lukewarm.
  8. When custard has cooled off, slice bananas and place them at the bottom of your mini pie shells.  Using a spoon, pour custard over the banana chunks and let set.
  9. Top with whipped cream

These are just delicious, and so much fun to eat for little hands (and big hands alike!)


Find tons of other Minions inspiration here.  Have you seen it yet?  Which minion is your favorite?
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December 17, 2015

The Handmade Hangout #80 + FEATURES!

Welcome to the Handmade Hangout- where you can link up all things made by YOU!



This week I'm featuring three of my favorite projects from last week's linky.

1.  Plaid and Polkadot Deer Dishtowel from Flamingo Toes- I love pretty much everything Bev makes, and these adorable towels are no exception.  So cute!

Polkadot and Plaid Dish Towel

2.  Tassel Throw Blanket from Tidbits-  I want to snuggle up in one of these pronto!

Tassel Throw Blanket DIY - Instructions for how to make your own tassels from yarn and how to sew them into fabric to make a one of a kind throw blanket.

3.  Stained Cedar Shingle Tree from Number Fifty-Three-  I love a new spin on a Christmas tree!  What fun decor!


You all are so talented- it makes it so hard to choose only three to feature!  I can't wait to see what you show us this week.  So, now- on to this week's linky.  As always, we have just a few little rules:


1.  Become a follower of the blog where you linked up.  Of course we'd love it if you follow all our hosts on whatever platforms you use most!

Allison from A Glimpse Inside

Becca from From Gardners to Bergers

Kim from Too Much Time on My Hands

Heather from Twin Dragonfly Designs

Valerie from Occasionally Crafty

Alli from Made with HAPPY


2.  Share our button or party link in your post or wherever you share your linky parties

Occasionally Crafty

 
Link up your projects!





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December 15, 2015

Water Bottle Motivational Tracker (Free Silhouette Cut File)

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WaterMadeExciting #CollectiveBias

Last year I lost ten pounds.  You can see how I did it here, but one of the biggest things I did to not only lose weight, but just feel better in general, was to drink more water.

I have always been horrible about drinking enough water.  I just didn't enjoy drinking plain old water.
Well, the awesome thing about water is, you don't have to drink it plain!  There are ways to enjoy flavored water without adding any extra calories or sugar, or at least keeping it very minimal.

For example, I love drinking flavored sparkling water.  I quit drinking soda, but I missed that carbonation BADLY.  For me, sparkling water was the answer.  The only problem is, it can get quite expensive.

So I was really excited to try out the SodaStream Power Automatic Sparkling Water Maker.  It automatically carbonates your water, and then you buy different flavors to make your water a bit more interesting!

You can choose your level of "fizz".  I am definitely a three drop girl.

Simply fill your bottle with water,  attach it to the machine following the instructions, press your fizz button, and voila- sparkling water!  Now you just need some flavor.
SodaStream has several varieties of flavors:
Waters: all natural ingredients and very low calorie
Fruits: delicious fruit flavor combinations (though be careful of the calories on this one)
Zeros:  no-calorie, full-fruit flavors made with stevia
Gourmet Waters: unique chef-inspired flavor combinations with high quality natural ingredients

I tried several different flavors, and my favorite so far is the Berry Mix from the Fruits line.

Another thing that helps me drink more water is using a fun water bottle that helps me track what I'm drinking.

You can make one too, and all you need is a 32 oz water bottle, some vinyl, and a Silhouette (or a friend that has one!)

Download this cut file , open it in Silhouette Studio, resize if necessary for your bottle,


and cut it on your machine.

Remove the excess vinyl, including the pieces above the cut lines in the water drops, then apply transfer tape.

Move the design to your water bottle.  If your water bottle has marked spots for the different amounts, you can match up each line to your bottle.  Definitely apply this one line at a time!

If not, here's how I figured out where to put them.  I filled a liquid measuring cup with 8 oz, then poured it into my bottle.  That's where the 24 oz line went.  Repeat and mark the 16 oz line.  Do it a third time, and mark the 8 oz line.

(It is supposed to go "backwards" because you're tracking how much water you drink as you go through the day). 
Make sure you hand wash these bottles, as the vinyl will not hold up in the dishwasher.  I also recommend using a more permanent vinyl, like Oracal 651, since water is involved here. 
Research is mixed on whether or not you actually need 64 oz of water a day, so I put REFILL at the bottom as an option.  I can promise you, though, if you even drink 32 oz a day, you will feel so much better!

It gives you energy, helps aching joints, keeps you from snacking mindlessly, and more.
The SodaStream Power would be a great holiday gift for anyone!  You can get free shipping with any order over $50, too!  Find all the latest SodaStream offers here.
How do you do at drinking water?  What flavor sparkling water do you want to try?
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December 14, 2015

Rudolph Noses and Printable Gift Tags


Hey everyone- 

This is just a quick note to let you know I'm over at Reasons to Skip the Housework today, sharing an adorable idea for a fun holiday treat or gift for your neighbors: Rudolph Noses!


Click Here for the recipe and to get your free printable gift tags to go with the treats.  

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December 11, 2015

Reindeer Treats Stenciled Sign

You still have plenty of time to make this beautiful stenciled Christmas sign to add to your holiday decor!

Make this beautiful stenciled Christmas sign to add to your holiday decor!


If you've been reading long, you know that my very favorite thing to make is seasonal decor, and I especially love to use my Silhouette for crafting.  So today I'm going to show you how to make this Reindeer Treats Stenciled Sign.

You will need
12x12 craft wood board (mine is from Michael's)
12x12 piece of vinyl
Vinyl cutting machine
Reindeer Treats shape from Silhouette Store
Paint- white, gray, red
Paintbrush
Sandpaper

1.  Paint one coat of dark gray paint on your wooden board.  It can be pretty rough as this is just for distressing later.  Let dry.

2.  Paint 2-3 coats of white paint over the top of the gray paint.  I didn't go for full coverage since I knew I would be sanding my board anyway. (see first picture below)

3.  Let dry completely.  I put mine out in the sun for a few hours to dry.

While it is drying....
4.  Open your Reindeer Treats shape in the .studio software.  I did not resize at all.  Just send it to the Silhouette to cut.
5.  Weed away the letters so you can use this as a stencil. In my 2nd picture above, the blue is where the vinyl letters were.
6.  Apply transfer tape over the stencil and remove the paper backing.
7.  When painted wood is completely dry, apply the vinyl stencil onto the board (3rd picture).  Smooth in place with a scraper or credit card.
8.  Carefully remove transfer tape, leaving the vinyl stencil on the wood .
9.  Paint in the stencil with a coat of white paint.  This will make sure any bleeding that might happen is the same as the base color. Let dry to the touch. (picture 4)
10.  Paint in the stencil with red paint.  It may take two coats to get the coverage you want (picture 5).

Let your paint dry somewhat, then carefully remove the vinyl stencil (picture 6).  

11.  Sand as desired to distress and bring out the gray under coat of paint.  

Make this beautiful stenciled Christmas sign to add to your holiday decor!

Display your wood plaque on an easel or prop on a shelf.  Or you could hot glue a ribbon on the back to hang it from the wall.

Make this beautiful stenciled Christmas sign to add to your holiday decor!

Thanks so much for stopping by today!  I'd love to have you follow me where I socialize below:


If you like this project, check out my Glittered Reindeer Sled


and my Easy Jingle Bell Ornament

Make Handmade Ornaments for Christmas Gifts with this easy tutorial for a Jingle All the Way Vinyl Ornament!

Merry Christmas!

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December 10, 2015

The Handmade Hangout #79 + FEATURES!

Welcome to the Handmade Hangout- where you can link up all things made by YOU!



This week I'm featuring three of my favorite projects from last week's linky.

1.  Upcycled K-Cup Gnomes from Homework.  You would never guess where these cute little gnomes came from!  
K Cup Gnomes 1


2.  Colorful Christmas Mantel from One Thrifty Chick- I love the slightly non-traditional colors and all the details that make this mantel pop!


3.  Sea Salt Double Chocolate Cookies from Honey and Birch- these look and sound divine!  You had me at double chocolate!

Sea Salt Double Chocolate Cookies | www.honeyandbirch.com | #fbcookieswap

Great job everyone!  Thanks for linking up each week.  Now on to this week's linky.  We have just a few easy rules:

1.  Become a follower of the blog where you linked up.  Of course we'd love it if you follow all our hosts on whatever platforms you use most!

Allison from A Glimpse Inside

Becca from From Gardners to Bergers

Kim from Too Much Time on My Hands

Heather from Twin Dragonfly Designs

Valerie from Occasionally Crafty

Alli from Made with HAPPY


2.  Share our button or party link in your post or wherever you share your linky parties

Occasionally Crafty

 
Link up your projects!






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