Thursday, January 19, 2017

Creativation 2017

Today is the first day of the Craft and Hobby Association's Creativation Show and I couldn't be more excited!


I gave you a brief overview of my schedule here. In just the few days since I wrote that, I've added three more items to my already jam-packed calendar. It's going to be crazy, but in the best of ways.

It's unlikely I'll be able to squeeze in time for blogging during the show, but I am planning to share as much as I can via my brand-new Facebook page. Let us know what booths you'd like to see, new products you want us to check out, or anything else and we'll do our best! "Us?" you ask? Sadly, Tanya isn't traveling with me for this show... but I will have some help, specifically with social media!


Vickie is my aunt and one of those super creative people who is always crafting up beautiful stuff. She does many crafts well, but her strengths are different than mine, making her an excellent assistant for the show. Vickie is a former 4th grade teacher and a current curriculum director, so she knows kids' crafts and educational crafts inside and out. I'm very excited to have her working with me. 

I will not be running blog posts while I'm gone, so be sure to follow our adventures on Facebook and let us know what you want to see!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Switchel

May I offer you a drink? Perhaps some switchel?


As you can tell from the Christmas tree in the background, I made this switchel a few weeks back. New Year's Eve, to be specific. Usually, I make some sort of crazy themed meal for New Year's Eve. I ended up changing my plans and doing a very ordinary meal because of new food restrictions for some of my guests. So I made a crazy drink instead.

Jonna gave me a cool book called Pioneer Mixology: Switchel, Sack Posset, and Shrub. I love cooking and eating my way through history, so it was the perfect gift for me. 


Having never tried any of these intriguing drinks, I was eager to make switchel for my guests. According to the book, switchel is "a mixture of molasses, ginger, water, and a dash of vinegar, contained in a brown jug cached under the shade of a bunch of alders or partly submerged in a spring hole. On a hot day when men were mowing, raking, or pitching hay, frequent trips were made to the switchel jug."

There wouldn't be any mowing, raking, or pitching of hay on New Year's Eve (other than feeding some to Trouble), nor do I have alders or a spring hole, but I didn't let that stop me. 

The recipe starts with 2 quarts of cold water, 1/2 c. of apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 c. of brown sugar. 


Next, add 1/4 c. molasses.


Add 2 tsp. of ground ginger (I grated mine fresh), stir, and serve. 

So how was it? The opinions were mixed, but I found it weirdly tasty. I could see how it would be very refreshing on a hot day while working hard. I'm looking forward to trying the sack posset, shrub and dozens of other intriguing prairie beverages!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MunchPak Product Review

Any adventurous eaters out there? These interesting snack foods showed up on my doorstep recently, and I couldn't have been more excited!


They weren't loose on my doorstep. They were in a box. Specifically, a MunchPak Mini. 


When MunchPak offered to send me a sample for review, I was all in. I LOVE trying new-to-me foods


MunchPak.com 

Steve and Trevor were also excited to give them a try, so I made each of us a sample plate: 


First, we tried the cacahuate estilo Japonés (Japanese-style peanuts). They're not Japanese. They're Mexican. And they're yummy. They have a slightly sweet, slightly soy coating on the peanuts. My Spanish is decent, so I was able to get some clues from the wrapper about what's in them. 


Next up... well, I don't know exactly what they are. They taste similar to Pringles but are shaped like rings. Following the illustration on the package, we ate them off our fingers. Yum!


Another mystery. The only English on the wrapper says "sour paper." There are illustrations of fizzy soda. Sure enough, this tasted like a cola-flavored fruit bar with a light dusting of citric acid. It was pretty good. 


No English on this wrapper either. It's 26 cm. of something, but what? I'm not a big fan of gummy candy, so I didn't love this, but I didn't hate it either. Both flavors were pleasant if hard to identify. The brown might have been root beer. Trevor loves gummy candy and really enjoyed this. 


Finally, the only item in the box that's both familiar and written in English - the original GooGoo Cluster. Can't go wrong with that! Delicious!


All three deRosiers give a big thumbs-up to MunchPak! We love the idea of mystery snacks showing up on the doorstep. This would be such a fun gift to give or to receive. I think it would be especially awesome to send as a care package to a college student. 

MunchPaks come in three sizes - Mini (5-6 snacks), Original (10+ snacks) and Family Pak (20+ snacks). They can be delivered weekly, every two weeks, or monthly. Shipping is free within the US.

Try something new!

People with dietary restrictions or preferences can customize each package by clicking buttons to show their preferred and non-preferred snack types. There are 15 options, so you can avoid (or request) meat, seafood, nuts, gummies, and more. Each customization adds $1 to the price. Personally, I think the randomness of what you get adds to the fun, but it is nice that people with allergies or preferences will receive foods that are safe for them. 

Good news! If you would like to try MunchPak, you can save $2 off your first box using the code CINDYSNACK. Enjoy!

MunchPak.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

One Little Word, 2017

This is my seventh year participating in Ali Edwards' One Little Word. I started in 2011 with Balance (2011), then did Celebrate (2012), Try (2013), Enjoy (2014), Relax (2015) and Share (2016). Without exception, focusing on each of these words for a year has been very positive for me.

My One Little Word for 2017 is Connect.


I want to strengthen the connections with close friends and family, and reconnect with people I haven't seen in far too long. I want to build new connections within the blogging and crafting communities. I want to make connections with other parents as Trevor transitions from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and from elementary school to middle school this year. I want to do a better job of connecting with you, my readers, through my blog and social media. 

I thought a puzzle piece would be the perfect symbol for Connect, so I built this year's tag around that. I'm not sure what made me choose eraser pink for my tag, but it's covered with little plus signs (actually, X's) to inspire me to make connections.

Coincidentally, Connect is the same word that Ali picked this year. None of her previous eleven words match any of my six, so it's surprising that we chose the same one this time.

As always, my new One Little Word does not replace the previous ones. Balance, Celebrate, Try, Enjoy, Relax and Share will be as much a part of 2017 for me as Connect. Here is Connect with all my other tags.


Did any of you choose One Little Word for 2017? I'd love to hear what it is and why you chose it!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

If you're reading this in your email or in a reader, you may not have noticed that I've made some changes here at My Creative Life. First, I've increased the width of the blog itself so that you are able to see more content on your screen without scrolling. This meant I needed a new header to fit the larger space. It no longer features my collection of One Little Word tags. I think it is more in line with my brand and serves as a better introduction for new readers.

I've also moved some things around. The month's most popular posts now appear directly below my photo rather than hidden further down. I hope this will make it easier for visitors to get a sense of what I share on my blog.

Finally, I've added a page of product recommendations. You can see it on the far right of the navigation bar under the header. I started with scrapbooking supplies, since people ask me all the time what adhesives I like, what trimmers I use, and what cardstock is best. I'll be adding other product recommendations soon.

More changes coming. All for the better. I promise. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Predicting Trends for 2017

In five days, I will be headed to Phoenix for the Craft and Hobby Association's Creativation Show. I've literally been counting down the days since arriving home from last year's show. I always return recharged and so inspired to create, create, create!

I will be packing a ridiculous number of classes, events and activities into my time at the show. I'm registered for 13 classes related to blogging, social media, branding, and crafts. I'm attending the opening party, a craft blogger meet-up, the new product reception, the annual CHA business meeting and town hall, the keynote address and the after-party. I have meetings and roundtables. Between all that, I'll be spending about 24 hours over 3 days on the trade show floor, learning about new products and trends in crafting.

Yes, trends. It's well-established that I am not an especially trendy person (except for that one time when I was the most super-trendy person ever!) but I do love trying to predict and identify the trends that others will actually follow. Based on all the sneak peeks I've been seeing, it's time to share my predictions for....


I made this graphic with PicMonkey, using one of the color combinations I think will trend in 2017. I'm seeing a lot of teal, pink and black, with mint thrown in as well, particularly in patterned papers and planner supplies. I'm hoping Greenery will be evident at the show; I'm not seeing much of it in the sneak peeks. 

Here are some other trends I'm seeing that I think will be big this year:




What do you think will trend in 2017? Any predictions, thoughts or hopes?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fun Family Crafts Round-Ups

Time to share the past few months of kids' craft round-ups I've made as Editor of Fun Family Crafts. First up, creative Halloween costumes. It was really hard to choose just 10 to feature. I think my favorite is the paintbrush. I've never seen anything like it! You might have noticed Trevor's toga costume in the mix. While it's not on par with the others in terms of creativity, I added it because it literally takes about 3 minutes to make and therefore is perfect for last-minute dress-up where there isn't even time to run to Target and buy something. I made this before we finished Trevor's campfire costume, which is why it's not included. 


Somehow, we didn't have a round-up of recycled crafts, despite there being over 1400 on the site. Situation resolved. One of my projects is amongst the ten featured. Do you recognize it?


Next, Hanukkah crafts. It's not a big category for us, but perhaps the roundup will prompt others to contribute their tutorials. 


I was really surprised we didn't already have a round-up of cardboard tube crafts. They're one of our most popular supplies. Two of my projects are in this collage. 


Next, hot cocoa crafts and recipes. There are three of mine in this round-up. I do love hot cocoa! I had a tough time arranging the 10 photos in this round-up. It's not especially well-balanced, but it was the best I could do with the photo sizes and orientations. I made up for it with the title block. I'm in love with the little hat sitting on the word 'Crafts.' 


Now, CD and DVD crafts. If only I'd thought of these ideas back when AOL was mailing out a CD every week! (Who else is old enough to remember that?) One of these crafts is mine. Do you recognize it?


Finally, crafts for Martin Luther King Day. It's another small category for us, but the 20+ crafts we do have are pretty awesome. 


As usual, I made all of these collages with PicMonkey. I have the Royale membership ($3.99/month and worth every penny), but if you don't need the fancy features, the free version of PicMonkey is pretty awesome too. Check it out!

PicMonkey Photo editing made of win

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Conversation Hearts Bunny

I love conversation hearts and I love bunnies. Hence, this:


It only takes a few minutes to turn a box of conversation hearts into an adorable bunny. And you don't have to take apart the bunny to get to the candy!


I made this Conversation Hearts Bunny as part of the Valentine's Edition of Craft Lightning. Visit the links each day this week to see lots of other ideas for quick Valentine's Day crafts. 



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Conversation Hearts Bunny

Materials: 

  • Box of conversation hearts
  • White construction paper, approximately 6" square
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pink heart sticker (or pink cardstock and a heart-shaped punch)
  • Sharpie
  • White pom pom

Steps: 


Fold the construction paper around the box of candy, creasing it along each edge of the box. Unfold the paper. Leaving the center part intact, cut out rectangles on either side, as shown in the picture. Save the rectangles, as you'll use them later.


Line the bottom of the box up with the bottom of the paper. Make vertical snips along each fold line, down to the height of the box. These will be flaps to cover the top of the box.


Cut the tall center portion of the construction paper into the shape of bunny ears. Use the rectangle scraps from before to make a matching pair of bunny arms (slightly shorter and thicker than the ears). Cut a rectangle that is the same size as the box top.


Put the box UPSIDE DOWN on the construction paper. This lets you get at the candy without taking apart the bunny.


Glue the construction paper in place. Fold down the tabs and glue. 


Add the small rectangle to the top to hide any gaps. 

Use the Sharpie to add eyes, nose, mouth and whiskers to the bunny. Write a short message on the sticker, then attach it to the bunny's tummy. Glue the ams to the heart, making sure they don't cover the message.


Wrap the arms around the box and glue them in place. Add a pom pom tail and it's done! 



 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Individual Ice Cream Cakes

What would you say to some ice cream cake right now?


Perhaps peppermint is more your style?


I needed an easy, make-ahead dessert for a crowd that would be simple to serve but still special enough for the occasion. These individual ice cream cakes, made days ahead using muffin tins, were perfect. 


 -----------

Individual Ice Cream Cakes


Materials:


  • boxed cake mix (and the eggs, oil, and water to prepare it)
  • half sheet pan
  • parchment paper
  • non-stick spray
  • toothpick or skewer
  • biscuit cutter
  • plastic wrap
  • 2 muffin tins
  • a gallon of ice cream
  • whipped cream, chocolate sauce, sprinkles and/or other toppings


Instructions:


Prepare the sheet pan by spraying it lightly and lining it with a piece of parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper lightly.

Make the cake mix as directed on the package. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan. Bake it at the recommended temperature for a 13" x 9" pan, but for half the suggested time. Insert a toothpick or skewer into the cake to test for doneness. Let the cake cook completely in the pan.

Use a biscuit cutter to cut circles from the cooled cake.


You should get 24 total (4 rows of six). You won't use the scraps for this recipe, so go ahead and eat them as is or use them for cake pops. 


Remove the ice cream from the freezer and set it on the counter. 

Line each cavity of a muffin tin with a piece of plastic wrap. Put a cake round into each.


Scoop about 1/2 cup of ice cream onto each piece of cake. Cover the entire muffin tin with a large piece of plastic wrap. Press down hard on each cake to flatten the cake and ice cream together, like I did on the bottom right. You can use your hand, though after about eight cakes your hand will be painfully cold. I switched to using a measuring cup to pack it down when my hand got too frozen. Be sure you are really packing it down and compressing the cake fully. 


Put the muffin tins into the freezer, with the plastic wrap still in place. Let them freeze solid, at least two hours and up to a few weeks. 

When you are ready to serve, simply peel the large piece plastic wrap off the top, then remove each cake one at a time. Peel the plastic wrap off the bottom and put them, cake side down, on a plate. Garnish with chocolate sauce, whipped cream and sprinkles...


... or candy canes....


... or whatever else you can dream up! Obviously, you can use whatever combination of cake and ice cream flavors you like. I've even made this using slices of quick bread as the base instead of cake. It's all good!

If you don't need to serve all 24 at once, just leave the bottom piece of plastic wrap on the extras, stack them in a freezer bag, and return them to the freezer. Now you can eat them one at a time whenever you're craving one!