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Why I’m leaving my Silhouette Portrait for the Cricut Explore Air 2!

on February 8, 2017

Sponsored by Cricut

So, friends, recently, I had the opportunity to try the new Cricut Explore Air 2™ machine craft cutting machine.

As you all know, I’ve been a Silhouette Portrait owner for a few years now, and was sure no other machine could ever come close to having the level of admiration I have for it..  and then I met the Cricut Explore Air™ 2! My first thought upon seeing it was “Holy cow, SO pretty!”.

The machine has a streamlined and sleek design, comes in the prettiest mint green (among other colors) and is surprisingly compact for a full capacity cutter. Imagine if Tiffany’s made craft cutters and you’ll understand – all Audrey Hepburn and white bows. It looks as though you will make only elegant, fabulous creations with it, even if you have no idea what you’re doing.. which I didn’t!

The machine control panel is straightforward and intuitive – I love that you can set your material and blade height just by turning a dial rather than an over-complicated process of checks and balances within the software.

One of my favorite features prior to turning it on was the built-in storage compartments. With a place for everything, there will be no more searching for tools for this girl!

Setup of the machine was simple, and the tutorials and learning opportunities are straightforward and extensive. I was up and running with the first project in a matter of minutes.  The dual ports that allow you to house both a pen and a blade simultaneously were impressive, and I had a great time testing this feature out with my first project – a greeting card project on cardstock, the pattern of which is included in the setup of Cricut Explore Air™ 2!

I had never used a pen on my machine before and was shocked by how clear the writing was! The alignment of the device is impeccable. I had never thought to use my machine for anything other than cutting, but I can see using this for coloring pages, line art, and many other projects. I’m not a greeting card guru but you get the idea!

Cutting with cardstock was a breeze – the cut was clean and precise, and there was no fraying of edges in any way. I especially loved how easily the design came away from the cutting mat. The mat is sticky but not so sticky that you can’t remove your project, which I often found was an issue with my Silhouette.

From there I moved on to a simple project of my own – this cute ring holder made from an inexpensive Target dollar aisle find and gold vinyl. I did have to do a bit of research on where to find various tools in the Design Space App (Cricut’s online software, which you install on your computer as a plugin) but the right tutorial was easy to locate, and I was off and running without having to watch the entire video. The Design Studio is easy to use once you know what you’re doing and I love that I won’t have to re-watch a video for the first ten times I use the machine to remember what how to do simple things. Yes, I had to do that in Silhouette Studio repeatedly which drove me a little insane. The Design Studio has over 30,000 images and 370 fonts available with a subscription, and I quickly found a design that would be perfect for my little dish. I ended up cutting my design twice – forgot to center my cut on the vinyl. Oops! But this allowed me to test the fast cut feature. The fast cut feature is quite a bit faster than your standard cut, although I’m not entirely sure it’s 2x the speed. I also noticed it was not quite as concise in the cutting with the faster speed. I think I’ll likely stick to standard speed as it’s plenty fast enough for me!

The machine cuts quietly and smoothly, as compared to my Silhouette which is quite loud to operate and often sounds like it’s grinding when it’s cutting any material. Again, the vinyl was a clean cut even with the small size of the font and weeding the text was simple.

The Cricut Explore Air™ 2 is also Wi-Fi capable which allows you to design, send and monitor cuts from your phone or Ipad, without ever logging onto your laptop. This means I can be working on projects while my monkey is playing at the playground, waiting to taxi someone someplace, or anywhere else the creative bug hits me!

See? Mad crush. Sorry, Silhouette, it’s been great, and I hate to leave you alone with Valentine’s Day coming up, but I love another. I’m kind of smitten with my new little ring dish, too… Seriously, if you are in the market for a new cutting machine, I can’t recommend the Cricut Explore Air™ 2 machine enough. Overall it is a fantastic product, and I’m so excited for all of the projects I’ll be making with it!

Pin it! Don’t forget it! 


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all mine.



No-Sew Fabric Rope Basket

on February 6, 2017

Hi, Friends! It’s the first Monday of the month, and you know what that means.. It’s time for the February Create with Me DIY Challenge! This fun challenge is where you, our readers, vote on the materials we’ll use for next month’s projects, so be sure to scroll to the very last bit of this post to vote for your favorite before you go.

This month’s challenge was to create something using fabric! I used this challenge to finish the last item on my to-do list for our newly updated Powder Room – improve on the trashcan – and I did so by using upcycled t-shirts and hot glue to create a fabric rope basket without sewing a stitch!
I’ve had a bit of a crush on the rope storage baskets that are everywhere these days, and I thought it would be fun to make-over my trashcan with a custom-made basket that it could slide inside of! It was so much easier to make than I expected.

*Affiliate links may have been used. Please see my full disclosure for more information.


To create a fabric rope trashcan cover yourself you’ll need the following:


  • Jersey fabric – I used the fabric from five medium men’s t-shirts in dark gray, navy, green and white
  • A glue gun
  • Sharp scissors able to cut fabric
  • A cylinder style trashcan

The first thing I did was to cut my t-shirts into 1″ wide strips, starting at the bottom of each shirt. If you cut along the bottom of the hem, you’ll end up with a jersey ring. Cut one end free, leaving a long string of t-shirt jersey.

Next, I braided the jersey strings into multiple braided ropes. I tied a knot at the top of three pieces of jersey, braided down, gluing the ends when the braiding was completed. Then, I untied the knot, finished braiding and secured that end with glue as well, leaving me with a braided piece of jersey rope. I repeated this task until all of my jersey strips were braided together. I was sure to mix strand colors to give me a mottled look I was after, as well as to braid like colored strands together.

To begin the basket, I twisted one of the braided ropes into a spiral, gluing every inch or so to secure. I continued adding strings to the spiral, gluing every inch or so,  until the spiral pad was the size of the bottom of the trash can.

When I’d reached the edges of the bottom of the trashcan, I began adding ropes up and around the sides of the trashcan, alternating color as I moved upward, gluing every inch or so.

Occasionally I would remove the trashcan from the basket to unstick any areas of the fabric that might have stuck. This was simple to do as the hot glue just peeled away from the plastic surface of the can, and the basket ropes were stretchy enough to replace the trash can afterward easily.

I decided to add a solid band of color around the top edge of the can and switched to solid colored strands about three-quarters of the way up, stopping when the basket reached just over the brink of the can.


Again, I pulled the can out of the basket to loosen any glue that may have seeped through and to ensure the ropes were all secure. And voila! A rope basket!

What I loved about this project was the simplicity and the multiple uses for it! I love the idea I could use the same procedure on a storage basket or any other kind of basket. And to make it even better,  I finished off my powder room to-do list.. which is now.. here.

Now, we need YOUR help! Take the survey below and tell me what you want to Create with Me for February!


Images via, Amazon, and Hobby Lobby.

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For even more fabulous projects made with fabric, check out the other participants for February! Everything is just adorable!


Faux Silver Leaf Mirror Makeover

on January 31, 2017

Happy Monday or wait.. it’s Tuesday! How did that happen?! Wow, we packed a lot in this weekend! We saw the cute Moana movie which made us all tear up a bit and watched the youngest guy play basketball. It’s been a crazy few weeks! Last weekend ended with me taking in the Twenty One Pilots concert with my daughter (so fun), at which point I realized just how old I am.. Staying up until 1:00 AM had me feeling more than a little off my game for the entire week! The fact that the band covered “No Diggity” makes up for it, though. 🙂

Those of you who’ve been following along during the $100 Room Challenge know that I recently transformed my over-the-sink mirror with a faux silver leaf (aka aluminum foil!). I decided to share with you today how that all came together.

This is how the mirror looked when I started – not terrible but not in-line with the look I was trying to achieve in the new bathroom!

I was more interested in it looking like this, but buying a new mirror wasn’t in the budget, which made it a perfect time for an inexpensive DIY.

For this project I used the following:

Step 1: Remove the mirror from the frame. This was a little bit tricky, but we used an Exacto knife to cut away the existing glue.. be careful not to remove any of the mirror finish.

Step 2: Cut the foil into strips. I did this using a ruler. Lay the ruler flat onto a piece of foil, bend the ruler over the ruler and tear down along the edge of the ruler. You’ll want more than you’ll think you need – I cut about 50 square feet of foil for this mirror – and you’ll want them to be about 1″ wide. Don’t worry if they aren’t exact.

Step 3: Working on a small section at a time, brush the wallpaper paste onto the frame and begin to apply strips of foil, smoothing them with the smoothing tool by gently applying pressure while running it over the foil with the edge. Be careful to remove any air bubbles. I put the foil shiny-side down, but either side will work. Continue to apply pieces to the surface, overlapping edges and smoothing with the smoother until the entire surface is covered. Let dry then gently wash off any excess paste. You’ll be surprised at how resilient the foil finish is!

Step 4: With a lint-free cloth or paint brush apply a coat of stain onto the foiled surface, working in a circular motion as though it were a glaze and remove any excess. You want to work the paint into the crevices, folds, and cracks of the foil which will give it an aged and textured look. The foil will NOT absorb the stain like wood but it will give a nice patina and will dry if you do a thin enough coat. If you put it on too thick just remove it with a cloth and reapply where necessary. Let dry.

Step 5: I had used the larger pattern of the stencil set on my daughter’s upholstered headboard, but I wanted something more delicate for the mirror and used a much smaller banner style stencil from the stencil set instead. I didn’t really worry too much about lining up the placement and sometimes overlapped the pattern to fill in the space because I was mostly focused on the pattern being subtly visible giving the illusion that it was stamped metal.

Using a small amount of paint, apply the stencil pattern with the dark gray paint along the edge of the mirror.


Step 6: Apply the polyacrylic with a brush, being VERY careful not to remove the finish from the paint or stencil. I used two coats, letting them dry in between.

Step 7: Insert your mirror back into the frame and apply hot glue around the edge of the mirror at the back, concentrating on the corners.

Step 8: Hang your finished mirror, then pat yourself on the back, stand back and admire all of your hard work!


Although there are a lot of steps, this is a fairly straightforward project that yields fantastic results for next to nothing. If you do try this on your own, please, send me a picture of your finished project… I’d love to see!

Rather buy than DIY? Here are some alternatives to Doing-it-yourself!


I had SO much fun with this project and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome. How about you? Are you ready for a new look for your bathroom mirror?

Don’t forget it, Pin It! 

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