April 2015Occasionally Crafty: April 2015

Thursday, April 30

The Handmade Hangout #46 and My Weekly Features

Hi everyone!  It's time for another Handmade Hangout!  Were you featured this week?  Keep reading to find out and meet another one of our hostesses!
Each week we will introduce you to one of our hostesses and give you a chance to get to know everyone better! We will share a bit about our blogs, our passions, and exciting recent posts and projects we have been working on.

Hey everyone! I am Christina and I blog over at Christina's Adventures.  I share all about my adventures in DIY, home decor, and making my house a home on a tight budget.

I am a busy mom with a 21 month old boy who doesn't like to sit down, and I'm 4 weeks away from giving birth to our second little baby!  As if that wasn't enough, we are working on fixing up a 1902 Victorian house into our "forever home".  You can see all of the progress on my blog and on my Instagram (follow along using #FixingUp1902 to see how far we've come!)


While I'm not rehabbing this house, I'm busy trying to eat healthy and cook well for my family:


And I just love using my little budget to make fun areas in our home, like this DIY art center I made for my little guy:

Child's Art Station

I love being a part of The Handmade Hangout - I hope you stop by my blog and follow along with all of my crazy adventures!

Now, on to the features.  As always, there are so many awesome things to choose from.  Here are my favorites:

1.  Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream from The Gracious Wife

Lemon Cupcakes topped with a blackberry buttercream. From TheGraciousWife.com #lemon #cupcakes #recipe #buttercream

2.  No-Sew Tote Bag from AttaGirl Says

Learn how to make a tote bag to match your spring wardrobe. Start with an inexpensive straw bag, and transform it with pretty fabric. The best thing? This is a no-sew project!

3.  Adorable Rain Boot "Wreath" from Home Made Modern

rain boots on front door

Link up your projects!  

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Wednesday, April 29

Mother's Day Gift Guide from Uncommon Goods

My advertising policy is to only share companies and products I love with my readers.
I received product to review from the retailer in exchange for this post.  All opinions, however, 
are completely my own.  You're going to love this shop!

I'm going to be honest.  I usually make my mom presents for Mother's Day.  She lives in another state and hardly ever gets to see her grandkids (or me), so I tend to make something featuring them.

Maybe you're not into making gifts, or you want to do something different for a change.   You need to turn to a great retailer to find that special something for a special mom.

Tom from Uncommon Goods contacted me to do a review of his store and after some research, I happily agreed.  I love companies that do more than just sell things.  I love that Uncommon Goods features handmade products, highlights its artists and designers, and also donates a portion of each order they receive to your choice of several non-profit organizations.  Finally, most products are made here in the USa, and they strive to work in harmony with the environment through recycling and avoiding products produced with harm to animals.  Read more about them here.

I picked out this Kitchen Utensil Holder and Tablet Stand to review.  I've been wanting something to use while I cook in the kitchen for quite awhile, and this is perfect!  (Don't you prepare recipes from blogs? :) It is made by STAK Ceramics, created by Myles and Heather Geyman.  They make all their products by hand.  

This piece is both beautiful and functional, and I'll be using it often.  This would be the perfect gift for a mom who bakes, listens to music in the kitchen, or just an overall techy mom.

My favorite thing about Uncommon Goods is the wide variety of both price and inventory.  You can buy a beautiful item whether your budget is small or unlimited.

 Shop all the Mother's Day Gift Ideas here

What are you hoping to get for Mother's Day?  
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P.S.  Don't forget to check out my ULTIMATE Gift Guide for Women for even more ideas!

Monday, April 27

A Busy Woman's Guide to the Best Cleaning Products

Today is the big day folks!  It's time for our Instagram Spring De-Junk Challenge!  I'm so excited to bring some order into those neglected spots in my home.

Join the 2015 Spring DeJunk Challenge and Organize and declutter your home for spring! We're giving away $210, so come check it out!

Today is Day 1 of our 10-Day Challenge to Clean, Organize and De Junk Your Home for Spring.

If you missed the post introducing the challenge, click here for directions and details.

If you join the challenge, feel free to leave me your Instagram handle in the comments so that I can follow your De-Junking Journey. If you'd like, tag me (@occasionally_crafty) in your Instagram posts so that I can follow your progress.

Before you jump into the challenge, how about some inspiration?  Each participating blogger has put together a post to help you clean and organize your home.  Here's what I put together for you:

Much to my husband's chagrin, I am not inherently a tidy person.  I blame it on my creative genes.  I just have too much I'd rather be doing in my time (crafting, blogging, reading, writing) than cleaning.

Now, my house is fairly clean and does get tidied up a bit each day, but I may let a little too much time go between bathroom deep-cleanings and kitchen pantry organizing.

I also have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and my joints can't handle a lot of vigorous housework.  So I look for products that do a lot of the work, so you don't have to.

Since no one likes admitting they are lazy or too busy to clean, let's just call this my list of Best Cleaning Products For the Busy Woman.  (Affiliate links ahead!)

Best Toilet Cleaner

Beware- I am not a "green" cleaner.  Since this is all about cleaning in a short amount of time and using minimal effort, I am only recommending things I KNOW fit that bill.  Feel free to leave your (nice and kind) suggestions in the comments if your favorite products fit these 2 requirements!

Let's start in the Bathroom.  Since my guests share a bathroom with my kids, we try to keep this place as clean as we can.

Best Toilet Cleaner:  Lysol Cling Gel Toilet Bowl Cleaner

The first thing I do when I clean the bathroom is apply this stuff to my toilet.  While I clean other surfaces, the gel formula clings beautifully and does most of the work for me.  All I have to do is wipe it down, maybe scrub the water ring just a bit, and flush it away.  This stuff is awesome!

Best Surface Cleaner:   Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner
Best Bathroom Surface Cleaner

This is a multipurpose cleaner that not only cleans, but sanitizes.  Again, it does most of the work for you!  I can literally spray this, let it sit, and then wipe it down with a wet cloth.  I love that it keeps mold and mildew from growing, as that's always a concern in the bathroom.  You can use it on almost any bathroom surface (check directions before use).

Best Mirror/Window Cleaner: Vinegar Water and a Microfiber Cloth

Best All Purpose Cleaner

Mix one part vinegar to four parts water.  Pour it in a spray bottle.  Spray on surface and use microfiber cloth to wipe it down.  Go in 1- circles, 2- vertical lines, 3- horizontal swipes.  Use a cotton swab for corners and tracks of windows.  

I prefer this to the blue cleaning sprays because it doesn't leave streaks, and using a microfiber cloth keeps lint from appearing all over your clean mirror or window.  

Let's move into the kitchen now.

**Disclaimer**  Different materials require different cleaners.  I have old laminate countertops and basic white appliances.  If you have granite, marble, stainless steel, or wood surfaces, please follow manufacturer's directions for cleaning!

Best Countertop Cleaner:   409 All-Purpose Cleaner

I say this all the time- this stuff can get anything off my countertops!  I can even get red food coloring out by spraying 409 on it and letting it sit for a few minutes.  I use this on pretty much everything in my kitchen except the stovetop.

Best Cleaner for Glass Stovetop:  BarKeeper's Friend

Best Stovetop Cleaner Best Sink Cleaner

This stuff is amazing!  It requires a little elbow grease, but I can even get off those burn rings around the burners that develop over time.  

Best Sink Cleaner:  BarKeeper's Friend

I also use it to clean my sink- but it is abrasive, so make sure it is approved for your surface.  This gets off anything and leaves it really clean.  Next, wipe your sink down with some of that vinegar water to get it nice and shiny!

Extra Cleaning Favorites

Favorite Vacuum:  Dyson Origin
Best Vacuum
You would not believe how much stuff this vacuum will pull from your carpet.  Plus you can turn the brushes off and vacuum hard surfaces.  It's so easy to maneuver and is much lighter than my old upright.  My carpets literally feel softer and fluffier after I vacuum!

Favorite "Mop":  Swiffer WetJet

Best Mop Best Floor Cleaner

I hate pulling out a mop and bucket, so I sweep and use my Swiffer religiously on my tile.  It cleans and shines well, and you can use the scrubber to get off dried food or dirt.  Plus it smells good!

Favorite Dusting Tools:  Swiffer Dust & Shine Spray with a Microfiber Cloth

Best Dusting Spray

I love the scent, and the spray works great to help pick up dust.  Using a Microfiber cloth means the dirt stays on the cloth and doesn't just get pushed around!

If you're looking to save some time and effort, I hope you'll give some of these products a try!   

 Now, please be sure to visit each of our participating bloggers to see our best cleaning and organizing tips for Spring!

Spring De-Junk Challenge 2015 Inspiration Posts -- Check out our Best Cleaning and Organizing Tips for Spring, and then join us for the 10-day challenge! {OneCreativeMommy.com}

#1: Decluttering Tips for Kids from One Creative Mommy

#2: My Process for Purging the Junk from Christina, Plain and Simple

#3: De-Junking Checklist Printables from The Princess and Her Cowboys

#4: Garage Sale Tips and Tricks from 4 You with Love

#5: A Busy Woman's Guide to the Best Cleaning Products from Occasionally Crafty

#6: Declutter Your Mind to Declutter Your Space {Book Review & Giveaway} from The Frugal Foodie Mama

#7: De-Junk Challenge: How to Organize your Closets from Juggling Act Mama

#8: Hats Off to Organization from Redo Mom

#9: Get Organized in the #SpringDeJunkChallenge from Fearlessly Creative Mammas

#10: Spring Declutter Project from Krystal's Kitsch

The Giveaway:

No challenge is complete without a giveaway. One lucky de-junker is going to win $210 to spend at Amazon.com!  Good luck with the challenge and the giveaway. No matter who wins, we all win with a cleaner and more organized home.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is your absolutely-can't-live-without-it cleaning product?
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Friday, April 24

Girls Love Marvel Too: Superheroes aren't just for boys

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

My daughter just turned 10.  She loves all thinks pink, sticker books, Frozen, cute clothes and earrings, and Bath and Body Works, things marketed to girls.  But, she also loves science, robotics, Minecraft, and superheroes-- all things generally marketed towards boys.

With the impending release of the new movie, MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, I thought this would be a great time to talk about how we parents can help overcome the marketing blitz that teaches us certain things belong to "boys" or to "girls".

I talked to my daughter about The Avengers.  When they first came out, she was like a lot of girls and said it was a "boy" movie and she wasn't interested in seeing it.  But since she has two brothers, she was OUTVOTED and we went to see it.  

Guess what--she loved it! 

Now, she's not old enough to like it because the boys are good-looking or because she has a crush on RDJ.  (What? You don't?)  No, she liked the movie because it was awesome!  Not only are there two strong female characters, Black Widow and Agent Maria Hill, but each of The Avengers represents a value that is important to my daughter.

In her words:
Captain America:  "He is always brave and a cool supersoldier."
Thor:  "He protects others from getting hurt"
Hulk/Bruce Banner:  "He's really smart and a scientist"
Iron Man:  "He's funny and a really smart scientist too"
Hawkeye:  "He saves his friends"
Black Widow: "She can trick everyone and she's a good fighter"

It's important that we as parents teach our daughters that there aren't "girl" things and "boy" things- there are just things, whether that be toys, interests, or even careers.  When your daughter knows all things are open to her, she will grow up to be a woman who can and will do anything!

I purchased a few items at Walmart for my daughter so that she can be a superhero in our backyard. 

There were so many to choose from, so I went with Hawkeye's crossbow (with foam darts) and a flying version of her favorite Avenger, Captain America.  I can't wait to see her battle as an Avenger with her brothers.

You can also download the Super Heroes Assemble app,  available in the iTunes and Google Play store.  

My kids are so excited for MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  That means a re-watch of the first movie, which we own, was in order.  I hit up Walmart to stock up on some The Avengers-themed food, lazy-mom style.   I bought some movie snacks- The Avengers-themed Doritos and Kellog's Cheese-its, and then bought some The Avengers cereal to make into a snack. 

As we watched the movie, we made these delicious cereal treats. 

You need the following ingredients:
4 cups The Avengers Cereal
4 cups Golden Grahams
1 cup Karo syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine
Mix syrup, brown sugar, and butter together in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently.

While sauce is simmering, combine The Avengers cereal and Golden Grahams in a large bowl.  Stir to mix well.
When syrup is finished simmering, it should be thick like pancake syrup.  Carefully pour it over your cereal, stirring as you add it.  You may not need all the syrup.
Lay the cereal treat out on a cookie sheet to dry overnight, or place in the fridge for an hour or so.  Break off in chunks and serve.  Keep leftovers in an airtight container.

Be sure to check out all the MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise at Walmart the next time you stop by.  Which superhero is your daughter's favorite?  
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Thursday, April 23

The Handmade Hangout #45 and Weekly Features

Thanks to everyone who linked up at our party last week!  I had so much fun looking through the links and seeing your awesome posts!  You all are so talented!  Welcome back and get ready to party!

I've been sharing your projects on FB and Pinterest all week!  Here are my favorites from last week's party:

This Aqua Nursery from Team Too is just to die for!  There are so many tiny details- you have to click through to see them all!

Aqua and Gray Nursery | Te Amo Too

This Nail Polish Gift Idea from Simply Designing is just adorable!  Go download your free printable tag!

Toe-tally Cool Nail Polish Gift Idea with Free Printable | #printable #nailpolish #gift #giftsforher

This is a card catalog, right?  Are you sure?  You might want to check out the details on this gorgeous Card Catalog-Inspired Cabinet from Little House of Four!

I really could go on forever.  You guys are amazing!  But let's get to this week's link up.

Each week we will introduce you to one of our hostesses and give you a chance to get to know everyone better! We will share a bit about our blogs, our passions, and exciting recent posts and projects we have been working on.
Hey everyone! I am Kim and I blog over at TMTOMH Too Much Time on My Hands.
I live in Denver with my husband, two kids, and dog. We love to camp, hike, ski, and spend as much time outside as possible. We try to stay healthy and eat well, so on TMTOMH I share lots of natural living tips and (mostly) healthy homemade recipes that my kids actually eat. We have a very compact garden in our tiny yard and I share my small space gardening tips and recipes I make using our harvests. this is one of my favorites!

Crispy Eggplant Caprese Bites[/caption]
Upcycling, recycling, and reusing old junk is my favorite thing to do. I like to save stuff from the landfill and recycle bin and turn it into pretty and useful things around our home. This is one of my favorite springtime projects and helped to turn our patio into a welcoming extra "room" in our home.


Old Broken Brass Lamp Upcycle Project
My favorite day of the week is Monday where I always share my Main Ingredient Monday series. I take one main ingredient (supply or item) and find twenty great projects and crafts using it. This series has been going on for 2 years and there is A LOT of inspiration for almost any supply you can imagine: cardboard boxes, old doors, and even nail polish.This is a recent one I did on 20 ways to use PVC pipe.

I am so happy to be part of this awesome and HUGE linky party each week. I look forward to getting to know all of you better too. If you stop by TMTOMH, please be sure to leave a comment saying hi!

I'm back!  Remember, every week I will be choosing my favorite projects that are linked up to share before the party, and will be featuring them on Instagram, Facebook, as well as pinning them to the Handmade Hangout Pinterest Board.
The party will go live at 6pm ET every Thursday.  You link up once and your project will be displayed on 8 blogs!  It will run until midnight on Monday, so you have all weekend to link up your favorite crafts, projects, recipes, and stories. That's a win for everyone!

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

Christina from Christina's Adventures

Becca from From Gardners to Bergers

Kim from Too Much Time on My Hands

Heather from Twin Dragonfly Designs

Valerie from Occasionally Crafty

Tracie from Cleverly Inspired

Alli from Made with HAPPY

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

Occasionally Crafty


An InLinkz Link-up

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Crafts in a SNAP: Easy Vinyl Plaque

 While I'm off at SNAP Conference in Salt Lake City surrounded by 500 other talented crafty bloggers learning, creating, and celebrating the friendships we've made because of blogging,
 I teamed up with Abbey from The Cards We Drew and a large group of bloggers to create Crafts in a SNAP {15 Minute Craft Ideas} so that ANYONE, whether beginner or seasoned pro, can learn to create fun and handmade items in no time at all! 

Crafts in a SNAP 15 Minute Craft Ideas
Check out my tutorial for How to Customize a Blank Plaque coming up, then scroll down below and be sure to check out some of what my blogging friends have to offer!! Have fun and get creative
Today I'm showing you how easy it is to customize a ready-made plaque.

You can buy these at any craft store in a variety of shapes and sizes.  This one happens to be the perfect size for a gift I'm giving.

The beauty of these is that they are already painted and  prepped for you to make into your own masterpiece.  If you can find one in a color and style you like, half the work is done for you!
I measured my plaque and made a rectangle shape in Silhouette Studio to match those dimensions.  Then I simply created a design using my fonts.

Cut and weed your vinyl as usual, then transfer it to your plaque with contact paper or transfer tape.
You can also use the vinyl as a stencil if you'd prefer a hand-painted look.

This literally took me about 10 minutes, and that is only because I had to fit the font to my plaque dimensions.  This is an easy custom gift to give to a teacher, family member, or friend.

It really is just that easy to customize a blank plaque!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Crafts in a Snap by clicking on the links below.  Have a great weekend!

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