September 2015Occasionally Crafty: September 2015

Wednesday, September 30

DIY Stenciled Halloween Pillows + GIVEAWAY!

Make your own pillow covers with Paint a Pillow kits!  This Stenciled Pumpkin Pillow is so easy to make for Halloween!

I was provided free product in exchange for a review on my blog.  All opinions are my own!

I love decorating for Halloween!  And I love decorative pillows!  So, when this opportunity came along to review Cutting Edge Stencils' new Halloween stencils, I immediately said yes!

I have to tell you all that this is by far the easiest stenciling project I've ever done!  You will love the results!

Make your own stenciled pillows in any color or design!

The Paint-A-Pillow kit comes already assembled for you in a big white box.  It includes the pillow insert, a canvas pillow cover already set in a frame, ready to be painted, your stencil of choice already set up for you, and your paint and supplies.  I started with this Pumpkin Patch design.

Paint a Pillow Kit Tutorial

Simply put some paint on your tray, and decide whether you'll need to paint with a brush or a roller.  Since I was doing multiple colors, I decided to use both.  I used a small stencil brush to paint the stems of the pumpkins and some hard to reach pieces, then used the roller for most of the pumpkins.

Begin by making sure your stencil is lined up and secured (mine came that way so I just double-checked).  

Paint small sections or lighter colors first; for example, I painted my pumpkin stems a light brown.

Paint larger sections/darker colors next.  I loaded my roller evenly with paint, then carefully, without pressing too hard, rolled over the stencil.

When your pillow has been painted, remove the stencil and let the pillow cover dry.

Heat set your design by placing a cloth over the painted portion and ironing it for about 30 seconds in each place.  Now your cover is washable!

Place your pillow insert inside the pillow, zip it up, and you're ready to go!

If you are a more visual person, this is a great video tutorial to watch!

Design your own pillow covers for Halloween!

Isn't this design so cute?  They have tons of Halloween stencils in pillow or craft size, which are perfect for a candy bag or even a t-shirt!

I also painted this cute witch pillow to go with my pumpkins.

Witch on Broom Stenciled Pillow Cover

Are you ready to win your own Paint-a-Pillow Halloween Stencil?  Use the Rafflecopter to enter below!  (Note- terms and conditions apply.  Giveaway for US Residents only)  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, September 28

Fall Acorn Shadowbox Decor

Use acorns to decorate for fall with this easy Fall Shadowbox!Use acorns to decorate for fall with this easy Fall Shadowbox!
It’s probably because I live in Phoenix and it’s still 100 degrees outside, but I love fall and all the colors and scents that go along with it.  I made this shadowbox to display on my entryway table.  It’s simple to make with just a few supplies.

Friday, September 25

Caramel Apple Cake Mix Cookies

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

These Caramel Apple Cake Mix Cookies are the perfect treat for fall!  Bake up a batch of delicious cookies today!

If you're one of the people who can't stand pumpkin spice, this post is for you!  I actually love pumpkin, but sometimes I get a little tired of that flavor for fall.  Two of my favorite flavors for fall are apples and pecan pie.  So, I decided to join in Mars' Bake In the Fun sweepstakes by combining my favorites in a delicious treat, using only a few simple ingredients.

I was thrilled to see all the seasonal goodies out for baking on my recent trip to Walmart.  Everything I needed for this recipe was easy to find!

This recipe makes a fluffy, flavorful cookie perfect for fall!

These Caramel Apple Cake Mix Cookies are the perfect treat for fall!  Bake up a batch of delicious cookies today!

Caramel Apple Cake Mix Cookies

Click here for a printable recipe.

1 box Pillsbury™ Moist Supreme® Caramel Apple Cake Mix (15.25oz)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Mott's® Apple Sauce Original 48oz
2 eggs
1 cup M&M's® Pecan Pie flavored

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your cookie sheet with a silicon baking liner or with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.  Stir together until well combined.
  • Add applesauce and eggs.  Beat until smooth.
  • Add M&Ms and stir gently into the dough.  
  • Use a cookie scoop or spoon, drop tablespoons of cookie dough onto prepared cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between drops.
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, until bottoms are lightly browned.  Cool slightly before removing to cooling racks.
  • These are delicious served warm!

Love all things fall?  Don't forget to enter the sweepstakes below!  Your own Kitchenaid is the perfect tool for making cookies like these!  I pretty much use mine daily.

MARS Bake In The Fun Sweepstakes

Now, even though it's fall, it's still super hot here in Phoenix!  It was 102 degrees yesterday!  So even though the baking cookies made me think of falling leaves and sweater weather, in reality I had to drink an ice-cold beverage with my cookies to cool off!  I love Snapple® Apple.

I'm so jealous of everyone who is actually experiencing a real fall right now.  Send some cool weather my way!

Be sure to check out all the other Bake In the Fun recipes!  So I want to know- are you a pumpkin person, and apple person, or something else?

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Thursday, September 24

The Handmade Hangout #67

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

Did you catch yesterday's features?  So many of you had such awesome fall projects that I made this roundup of 15 Beautiful Fall Decor projects.

15 Beautiful Fall Decor Ideas to make your home beautiful this fall!

Now, on to this week's linky:

Wednesday, September 23

15 Beautiful Fall Decor Ideas

I love browsing through the links from our link party each week.  This week was chock full of all things Fall and Halloween!  Today I'm sharing a roundup of some of my favorites from last week's linky!  Be sure to stop by and link up tomorrow for a chance to be featured!
15 Beautiful Fall Decor Ideas to make your home beautiful this fall!

Friday, September 18

Girls Halloween Spider Tshirt

Have a cute girl in your life that needs a cute Halloween shirt?  Make this Ribbon Spider Shirt and she'll love you forever!

I'm sharing the full tutorial for this shirt over at One Creative Mommy today as part of her Spooktastic September series, so I'd love it if you would click over and let me know what you think!

Happy Friday, everyone!
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Thursday, September 17

The Handmade Hangout #66 + FEATURES!

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

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

1.  Fall Chalkboard and Mini Pumpkin Garland from Clean and Scentsible.  This is so simple and adorable, and I want one.  Now.  

Fall chalkboard and cute pumpkin bunting! //

2.  Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins from DelightfulE Made.  These are all my favorite things about fall, in one muffin!  Who wants to make me some?

All of your fall favorites in one delicious breakfast treat!  These Pumpkin Apple Struesel Muffins are wonderfully moist, with big chunks of apples baked inside with a delicious streusel and glaze on top.  Bakery quality muffins right at home!

3.  Rustic Fall Mantel by Dandelion Patina.  I love everything about this- the color pallet, the old fan, the metal letters.  It's gorgeous!

rustic fall mantel by dandelion patina

4.  Pumpkin Spice Cake Cups by Simply Stacie.  I am a sucker for all things Pumpkin Spice, and having a little cake cup to eat is perfect!

Pumpkin Spice Cake Cups

Now on to this week's linky.  We have just a few little rules:

1.  Please 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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Wednesday, September 16

How to Prepare for a Successful Parent Teacher Conference

Whether you're just starting school or you're a month in already like we are, parent teacher conferences will be here before you know it!  As a parent and former teacher, I've been on both sides of the desk at conferences.  While each school runs its conferences differently, I've compiled some tips to help you have a successful Parent Teacher Conference.

5  Tips for a Successful Parent Teacher Conference

1.  Be prepared with a short list of questions or concerns

Teachers generally have a very short amount of time to meet with each parent.  And, the teacher has specific things they want to go over with the parents, such as report cards or standarized test scores.  To make sure your concerns get heard, write down the things you want to bring up, and consider sending a note or email to the teacher before the conference so they can prepare answers to your questions or concerns.

Example: My daughter's reading grade dropped hugely from her progress report to her report card.  I made a note to discuss this with the teacher, and we were able to discover that my daughter was missing some assignments in the grade book that in fact she had completed.  I brought the graded work to the conference, the teacher updated her grade book, and a problem was solved!

2.  Bring papers or documentation with you

If you have a concern about your child's assignments or the teacher's grading process, bring examples with you.  It helps teachers to know specifically what you have an issue with so they can provide a clear explanation.  It also helps you as a parent to show proof over time of something you may need to challenge.

3.  View your child's teacher as a partner

As a former teacher, I can tell you that I wanted nothing more than for every child in my class to succeed- even and especially those who misbehaved or were struggling in class.  As a teacher, I viewed conferences as a time to praise the child for things that were going well, and to make a plan with parents for things that weren't.  Generally, this wasn't the first time I had contact with most parents, especially if there were more serious concerns.

Now as a parent of three school-aged kids, I try to remember that most teachers feel the same way.  They want what is best for your child, and they genuinely want to help.  They have had mediocre teachers and outstanding teachers, but there has only been one who seemed totally uninterested in helping my child improve.  Most teachers are in this profession because they love teaching, love children, and want to help them learn and excel.

Please, never go above the teacher's head as your FIRST response.  Often the teacher is unaware of an issue you might have, or can easily solve it on his/her own.  If you have a knee-jerk reaction and jump right to the department head or the principal, not only are you jeopardizing any relationship you might be able to have with the teacher, but you are undermining them as a professional.  Many times the person you speak with will ask you "Have you spoken with the teacher about this?" anyway.

If you are unable to solve a problem by meeting and working with the teacher, by all means, proceed up the "ladder" to the department chair or principal- but give the teacher an opportunity to work with you first.

4.  Be Mindful of the Time

Generally, parent teacher conferences are short.  When I was teaching high school, we had 15 minutes.  Parents waited in line at a table in the gym, so we didn't want to fall behind.  We often had to rush through the conference so as not to keep people waiting.  At my children's school, you make appointments, but again, we only get 15 minutes.  If you believe the things you need to discuss will take longer than 15 minutes, ask to schedule more time with the teacher on another day.  Otherwise, parents who come after you will be delayed, and the teacher will have to be there even later than they already have to be.

Of course, sometimes the teacher is the chatty one, in which case you can either just go with it, or politely tell them you need to move on to the next conference or get back to work.

5.  Don't Let this Be Your Only Contact With The Teacher

Your teacher should know who you are from Back to School Night, Curriculum Night, emails, volunteering in class, or whatever works for your schedule.  Then after the conference, continue to stay in touch.  Check in by email to see how your child is doing.  If problems or concerns persist, meet again with the teacher, and then seek help with others in the school.

Parent Teacher conferences can make anyone feel a little bit of anxiety, but with these tips, your next one will be a success!

I'm curious- how long are your conferences?  Do you get more than 15 minutes with your child's teacher?  Do you meet in a classroom or in a central location?  Tell me all about it below.

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The Twinkle Diaries

Monday, September 14

Creepy Places Halloween Printable

Today's Halloween project is part of the 30 Days of Halloween Series hosted by Allison at Cupcake Diaries and featuring many of your favorite bloggers!

I love to make seasonal printables, so I decided to make one featuring all of the classic "creepy" places from scary or Halloween-themed movies.

It took a bit of brainstorming, but I finally came up with enough to fill a page.  

Download Black and White version here

Download Color version here

I've got to be honest- I don't really watch scary movies anymore.  I used to watch them, and I would have horrible nightmares.  The one that absolutely sticks in my head more than any is this old 80's movie called When A Stranger Calls.  

Omigosh omigosh omisgosh.  Have you seen that movie?  It is terrifying.  You know that classic babysitting story where the babysitter keeps getting weird phone calls, and she finally gets the police to try and trace the call, and they tell her to GET OUT because it's coming from another line in the house?

Yeah, that's just the first few minutes of the movie.

I can't even talk about it without peeking over my shoulder.  

So what movie most terrified/terrifies you?  Can you think of any other spooky places I missed?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

Check out the other projects below- and don't forget to come back all month for new projects!

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Thursday, September 10

The Handmade Hangout #65 + 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.  Sweater Acorns from Dandeline Patina- is this not such a clever idea for fall?  Love it!

coconutty sweater acorns by dandelion patina

2.  Kitchen Reveal from The Summery Umbrella-  The before and after is AMAZING- and I love the pops of color in this beautiful unique kitchen!

Looking for ideas for a bright and colorful kitchen, but with lots rustic decor? Check out my kitchen reveal where I combine both!

3.  Skillet Apple Pie Roll from A Mom's Take.  This looks and sounds absolutely delicious- especially if you love apple more than pumpkin in the fall!  

skillet apple pie 1

Now let's get on to this week's linky.  Remember, just a few simple rules to follow.

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


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Tuesday, September 8

Candy Corn Shadowbox- 30 Crafty Days of Halloween

Hi all!  Just a quick note to let you know that I'm over at See Vanessa Craft today, sharing a tutorial to make this Candy Corn Shadowbox!

I know I've been sharing lots of Halloween stuff lately, but I'll be back soon with some plain old "fall" themed crafts and decor.  It's my favorite season to decorate for!

Thanks for clicking through and supporting my project!

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Monday, September 7

Easy Halloween "Boo" Jars

These "Boo" Jars are quick and easy- just the perfect thing to add to your Halloween Decor!

Welcome back to another week of Craft Lightning!  All our Halloween crafts can be made in 15 minutes or less.

I found these orange mason jars on summer clearance at Michaels for 79 cents each!  I knew they would be perfect for Halloween.   There's a good chance they're all gone now that Halloween is approaching, but you can easily paint your own mason jars if you can't find any orange ones.

All you need is three pint sized mason jars, some black and white polka dot ribbon, and some tulle ribbon- the kind you buy on a spool.

Cut three strands of ribbon  and three lengths of tulle long enough to tie in a pretty bow.  

Begin by tying your tulle around the neck of your jar.  Fluff up your bow and make it pretty :)

Then, tie your polka dot ribbon on top of the tulle.

Trim the ends of the ribbon and apply a fray-stopping finish or use a lighter to melt the cut end (carefully!)

Arrange your ribbon and tulle until you like how it lays.

Finish by adding some vinyl letters.  I cut these with my silhouette, but you could easily trace and cut them with scissors or an X-acto knife.  Apply to the outside of your jars and you're done!

These are perfect for a shelf or paired with other decor!

Be sure to click on the button below to see the other Craft Lightning projects that will be posted all week!  I love Halloween!

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