Christmas · Cricut

New to Cricut? Join one of my groups!

Cricut Maker
The Cricut Maker can cut just about anything–from wood to fabric–and is easily usable from an iPad or iPhone, too!

Are you one of the thousands of new Cricut owners this holiday season? 

Maybe you had an older Cricut machine.
Or you are brand new to Cricut-ing.
Or you’re an artisan that wants to do more with her craft.
No matter.
The reality is there will be a LOT of new Cricut users going into the New Year and we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?
Well, relax!  I am here to tell you that help is just a click away!
Yep! In just a few clicks, you can be hooked into one of the biggest networks of Cricut users on Facebook!
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A little history:

Back in 2013, my friend Malinda and I started a little group called “Cricut Newbies and Pros” on Facebook.  We were armed with just personal experience, a basic knowledge of how to manage user groups and two little rules–“Be nice” and “No Selling”.

In 2014, I was invited to be an official Cricut Product Expert by CEO Ashish Aurora.  Back then Cricut was a little known and somewhat expensive crafting machine, but five years later, his prediction that Cricut would be a household name has come true!

Over the last five years that little FB group grew into three of the largest and most knowledgable groups on Facebook.

That little Facebook group turned into three groups with a total membership of nearly a half a million members!  Each group is focused on a specific type of machine or need, but they are all  jam packed full of friendly, helpful members learning and sharing their knowledge and project ideas.

The Cricut Newbies & Pros groups are comprised of an unbelievably amazing and talented group of people–all teaching and learning about how to make good use of their Cricut machines.

 

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These days I am able to say I am a Cricut Product Expert or that I work with a Cricut without being met with inquisitive looks.  These days, if you craft or know someone who crafts you know what a Cricut is.

The fact of the matter is there will be thousands and thousands of new Cricut users in a few days…and most don’t even know where to start.

Are you one of those Cricut Newbies?  Take a deep breath!  I’m here to help! 

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Trot on over to Facebook–through the following links–and join one of my three groups–

Cricut Newbies & Pros for Maker and Explore:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/937801949607138/

Cricut Newbies & Pros for Expression, Personal, and Create:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/515248328525857/

Cricut Newbies & Pros for BUSINESS:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/1161851913863262/

Our three very lively Facebook groups are still directed by me–“Miss Rita”–and are expertly run by an amazing (and volunteer) group of polished and experienced Cricut people, headed up by our amazing senior admin, Cindy Stanley.

 

And one more thing.  Be sure to join one of the original Cricut Newbies & Pros groups that are run by “Miss Rita To The Rescue!”

Because–even though we have been imitated–there is just no substitute for the real thing!

Happy Holidays, everyone!  I hope to see you on “Miss Rita To The Rescue!” and in one of these fabulous groups in the New Year! 

Let’s get crafting!!!

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Please note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on one of my links and buy something I will receive a small commission from your purchase. Thank you for using my links as this is how I support myself and keep MO in pickles and Ted E. Bear in chew toys–they both are insatiable!

But seriously….I do so appreciate your continued support!

Here is my affiliate link:  https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

Remember if your order exceeds $50 and you use my code MISSRITA1 and link, you will receive an extra 10% off and free shipping on most items!  My code will *not* work for Access Subscriptions or machines (anything that plugs in).

 

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Christmas · Cricut · DIY

Photos Ornaments With Your Cricut

IMG_7311I hope it’s not too late to share this fun idea for using your personal photos inside ornaments!  Maybe you could consider it a REALLY advanced tutorial for next Christmas! LOL!

Although our Cricut machines started out as scrapbook-ing helpers, most Cricuteers are now using their amazing machines to do so many other projects–such as making personalized apparel, unique home dec items and even quilting.  And that’s all very good, of course!  But I’ve noticed we sometimes forget some of the more basic tools we can use our machines for.

Consider all of the marvelous photos we all are capturing these days.  Half the time, once I upload my snaps to Instagram or Facebook, I don’t bother to print them out for frames, collages or other things anymore.  And that, my friends, is a shame, because you might regret it later on in life.  So–in an effort to preserve our memories–I am presenting a cool way of using your favorite photos in ornaments so you can enjoy them for years to come.

And it’s easy, too!

Perhaps you’ve seen my post about making floating ornaments, which is here: Floating Christmas Bulbs with Cricut  It’s the same concept.

We are going to cut out our photos and put them inside our ornaments!

The first step is to gather your favorite digital photos.  If they aren’t digitized yet, simply take a photo of the photo!  I’ve done this with many of my pre-smart phone photos and they come out wonderfully…plus you have the added benefit of still retaining your original photo, too!

Once you’ve got your favorite photos within reach, open Design Space and create a New Project.  Go to Upload Images and upload your picture.  Make sure you save the image as  Print image.  Insert this image in your canvas.  Resize it to workable size (like 4″ x 4″) and then add a circle from the Basic Shapes category and resize to about the same as your photo.  Here’s a screen shot of what you should see:

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Next you are going to put your circle over your photo.  Resize either the photo or shape to work well with each other.  We are getting ready to use our Slice feature.  Keep in mind the size of your ornament.  For these examples, I have used plastic disc shaped ornaments that are about 4″ wide and high.  Once the circle is stacked on top of the image, select them both and choose Slice.

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Once you Slice, you will be left with three layers: the basic circle, the punched out image and what’s left of your image.  You can go ahead and delete the leftover image layer, but do keep the circle for later on.  Here’s what that looks like:

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If you are satisfied with the results, we can now cut out our image.  Do make sure your image is set for printing first; you want to see a little printer icon, not a scissors.  Click “Make It” and you will see that your image is now surrounded by a box and is set to print before cutting.  You will have to have a printer that is connected to your home network to print the image.  Hit continue to print it and then put it on your mat to cut.

Note the following screen shots to see these steps.

This is the screen you should see when you go to Make It:

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Here’s the next screens, where you send your image to the printer:

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And here you are back to the cutting:

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Now let’s talk about materials to use, because what you use will effect how your ornament looks.  In the above photo I used just plain paper and then I cut out a modified circle (see below) out of the clear plastic sheet that covers any Cricut mat.  See how I added a little square to the top of the circle and welded it?  That square is to hold your image in place inside the ornament.  Cut your modified circle using the Custom feature and selecting Cricut Protective Plastic (yes, it exists).

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Now once you have your paper image and your modified circle in plastic, you can affix the photo on to the plastic with glue.  On the back you will have a blank area, so you could either use TWO pictures or use the back to further personalize your ornament.

I made these ornaments for my corgi friends that lost their precious babies this past year, so I put the corgi’s name and (in some cases) their nicknames.

Note that you can also use plastic acetate right in your printer to cut out the photos.  I’ve tried this method, but it didn’t work for my pictures because the white comes out very transparent and many of my pictures are of corgis that have white ruffs.

However if you have pictures that aren’t predominantly white and want to try the acetate method, you will NOT need the second step described above, but you will need to add the stem on top of your image as in this screen shot:

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I would also like to caution you on cutting out acetate, which may need to be cut multiple times.  Cutting on Custom and keeping your mat in your machine and hitting “Cut” several times *may* be needed.

I hope you will attempt to make these sweet Photo Ornaments!  They were a big hit with my friends and they will make a precious lasting gift!

As always, let me know what you think or show me what you did!  Happy Cricut-ing, my friends!

Christmas · DIY · recipe

Pizzelle: Auntie’s Italian Cookies

If you come from an Italian-American family, I have no doubt you had one auntie who seemed to be “in charge” of making the pizzelle for all the family gatherings. I’m pretty sure that’s because pizzelle makers were a bit expensive and therefore hard to justify as a purchase in more than one household.

In our family, my Auntie Elisa was the pizzelle maker.

Every family gathering and holiday Auntie Elisa would place a plate of gorgeous snowflake shaped cookies–complete with the distinctive aroma of anise–on the table for enjoying with coffee and company. Admittedly, I was completely enamored of pizzelle as a kid and I guess I still am today.

Sadly, when my father passed away in 2011, it became too difficult to continue our extended family gatherings and my annual pizzelle consumption took a dramatic nose dive.

Last year, I was ecstatic to find some authentic pizzelle in Costco and I remember bringing a small package to my Auntie Anna’s hospital bed. Her son and my cousin, Ricky, went on and on about them and it reminded me of the annual family gatherings we all attended. How I have missed those times.

Last year I lost two of my favorite aunties–Auntie Mary and Auntie Anna–and their passing has had a profound effect on my thoughts about family, home keeping and love ever since.

So, despite suffering from a serious knee injury this Christmas, I was determined to reinstitute some old family traditions and one of them was making the delicate, snowflake-like cookies that are called pizzelle.

Luckily I had procured a pizzelle maker some time ago; it was still new in its box and hanging out among my many Christmas decorations. Unfortunately if there were instructions, they were long gone, so it was up to me to figure out how to use it. Thankfully there is the internet and I cobbled together an updated recipe for chocolate pizzelle and set to testing out my maker.

If you can get your hands on an authentic pizzelle maker, I would urge you to try. There is nothing like a freshly made pizzelle! When they emerge from the iron, they are very pliable…but you only have a few seconds to shape them. It’s a fun challenge.

Obviously they can be enjoyed on their own with a fresh cup of coffee…but they are also excellent vehicles for a little extra something if you can work fast enough!

You can roll them like cannoli shells and fill them with homemade whipped cream. Or you can shape them into bowls and add a scoop of gelato! They could even be folded like a taco shell and stuffed with berries and cream!

And, obviously, they can be enjoyed plain, too!

So here’s my take on a Chocolate Pizzelle for you to enjoy. You’ll notice that they don’t have the traditional anise flavoring (or any flavoring!), but you can add it if you’d like. Orange or peppermint flavoring would taste especially good

Chocolate Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 1/4 CUP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I prefer unsalted butter in my baking, but if you don’t have it on hand, you can substitute regular butter and adjust the salt in the recipe)
  • Water to adjust the thickness of your batter

If you are a purist and want to make your pizzelle the “old fashioned way” the ingredients are much the same

Classic Pizzelle:

  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, no lumps
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • Stick of melted unsalted butter, cooled
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. anise extract (you can substitute almond or even vanilla extract, but anise is the most traditional)
  • Water to adjust thickness of your batter

A few hints:

  • It’s important you start with the right consistency batter, so after mixing all the ingredients slowly add water until you get a thick batter….you don’t want it too watery
  • Heat up your iron thoroughly and then spray with cooking spray so your cookies won’t stick
  • Don’t use too much batter for each cookie! I used a standard table spoon and put the batter in the middle of both cookie Wells
  • You should stay with your cookies as they are cooking! They only take about two minutes and you CAN definitely over cook these. When you open the iron, the cookies will be pliable. You will learn as you go…it’s like pancakes!
  • The cookies will remain pliable once removed from the iron, but not for long! Seriously…like ONLY a few seconds. So if you want to shape them, have your tools–little bowls, medium sized rolling pin, funnel–ready BEFORE you take out the hot cookies
  • The iron gets hot…BUT (unfortunately) the best way to remove the cooked pizzelle is with your hands…another reason to work quickly
  • Only add one teaspoon of extract to this recipe and only if you want to! Pizzelle are not suppose to be super sweet, but subtle. The chocolate flavoring really came through without any extract and was made for a very nice “adult” cookie (therefore MO shunned them! Haha!)
  • It’s traditional to dust pizzelle with confectioners sugar, but it’s not necessary…they shouldn’t stick together
  • Store your cookies in airtight containers or zippy bags and they will last for several days!

I hope you enjoy my recipes! And if you have an Auntie, give her a call! She is always happy to hear from you!

Please note: When I started my blog, I didn’t realize I would be sharing so many recipes. I am now in the process of figuring out how to make my recipes printable, so please bear with me until I can figure that out!

Christmas · DIY · recipe

Best Quiche

I make this quiche for my sister only once a year–usually on Christmas Morning–but upon reflection, I feel it needs to be put into rotation as a quick and lovely brunch item or even a nice evening meal. It’s so simple and simply the best quiche I make. Not fancy, but very enjoyable!

Ingredients:

  • Box of pre-made pie shells (I like Pillsbury)
  • Maple-flavored breakfast sausages, uncooked
  • 10 eggs
  • Shredded Mexican style cheese
  • 1/3 cup half and half or whole milk
  • Red bell pepper, chopped
  • Two pie plates (I use my trusty Pyrex ones)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Remove sausages from their casings and brown in frying pan. (This step can be completed the night before)
  2. Unroll the pie crusts and line each pie plate, crimping edges of crust
  3. Divide browned sausage between the two plates, sprinkling evenly
  4. Cover with shredded cheese
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the half and half or milk and season to taste
  6. Divide the egg mixture between the two pie plates, covering sausage and cheese
  7. Sprinkle chopped red bell pepper on top
  8. Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 375 degree oven
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes so filling will set

And that’s it! So simple and yet so yummy!

Let me know what you think!!

Christmas · recipe

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Here’s a quick and easy Christmas treat that won’t break the bank like Scallops Wrapped in Bacon and could possibly be even yummier, too!

So simple!

Four ingredients: soy sauce, water chestnuts (whole), brown sugar and bacon (I like the maple flavored kind)!

Soak the drained water chestnuts in soy sauce for at least an hour. Drain and roll them in brown sugar. Wrap each one in a half slice of bacon. Place in an 8″ x 8″ pan…not touching. Bake for 45 minutes in a 375 degree preheated oven.

If you use maple bacon, it smells terrific!! These are quite addictive, too!

Merry Christmas to all!!