Cricut

Cricut Access Challenge: Felt Flower String Lights

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Confession time!

As much as I’ve always advocated overcoming your fears when working with your Cricut, I’ve always been a little afraid to work with any material besides paper and vinyl.

I think it’s pretty obvious that paper is my “material of choice” when crafting with my Cricut…with vinyl and iron-on coming in a close second.

But…Wood? Plastic? Fabric? Felt?

It’s all been a little too scary for me, to be totally truthful. And while I often tell people ALL a Cricut can do, I’ve always sort of stuck with my favorites.

But this year I am bound and determined to change all that. I have decided to push myself out of my comfort zone…and it’s ALL for you, dear reader.

So why are these other materials scary to me (and possibly to you, too)?

First and foremost, most people tend to do what’s comfortable, right? I mean there’s nothing better than to spend an afternoon getting your craft on, am I right?

But then there are all the practical reasons, too.

There’s wondering if my machine will “do” the material. Then there’s choosing the setting. And, of course, I have to ponder what blade to use and also which mat.

Lots of pondering going on!

And then–just like that–I am overwhelmed.

But, again, I am bound and determined to break through these fears, so I’m setting out to do this one material at a time.

fullsizeoutput_f7aFirst up is FELT!

Cricut sells the most interesting 12″ x 12″ felt packs and I got my hands on one called Spring Rain, which you can find here: https://www.shareasale.com/u.cfm?d=327204&m=51766&u=1089398

(Please note that you will have to do a search for Felt to find this product)

These felt packs have 12 sheets of color coordinated felt and they are perfect for today’s Cricut Access Challenge–Felt Flower String Lights!

Because I was a bit nervous using a new material, I did keep the images simple and I found a nice selection of simple flower petal shapes to help make this project a success.

All of the flower petals are pulled from an old favorite Cricut cartridge called Flower Shoppe and are, of course, FREE to Access Customers. That’s a given for the Cricut Access Challenge.

Aside from the felt and these images, the only other thing you will need is a string of lights and perhaps a glue gun. (I do my best to avoid my glue gun, so if you are anything like me, I feel you!)

For this project I tried cutting the felt on both my Maker and my Explore Air 2 machines. I found that the Maker–fitted with the Rotary Blade–worked exceptionally well for working with felt, but, as you will see from this video, it is a bit slow:

For what it’s worth, the Explore Air was NO slouch with felt either! I fitted the Air with a deep cut blade and it cut the felt beautifully and quickly…however it did snag a bit on two of the flowers, as you can see in this photo: img_1716-1

BUT otherwise it did a great job–which means you can definitely do this project with either the Maker or the Explore!!! Psych!!!

Another really cool thing about this project is the holes that are automatically cut from the center of the petals, making this a no brainer project. All I had to do is increase the quantity of cuts to equal fifty–the length of my string of lights–and cut away.

Note: Because I used different petal shapes for visual interest, I set the Quantity to 9 for each petal and cut out six separate mats, which gave me 54 cuts–a few more than I’d need.

After all of the cuts are made, it’s just a matter of securing each petal to the light. Depending on your string of lights, you may be able to avoid the dreaded glue gun all together, so work with it and see.

Add one flower petal to each light head and work in color order if you’d like. Or consider putting two petals together on the same light! Or do your own thing! Whatever you prefer!!

And before you know it you’ll have a delicious string of felt flower lights to brighten up your front porch or guest room! 

What a fabulous project for a quiet Sunday, isn’t it?

What fun!! And not that difficult either, right?

Here’s the Pinterest link to the project:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/273030796146135439/

And the Design Space file on Cricut Community:  https://design.cricut.com/#/design/127502687

And stay tuned for future projects featuring all kinds of materials including acetate, bass wood, Foil, poster board, fabric and more!!

“Go forth and Cricut, my friends!”

Best always,

Miss Rita

 

Please note: This post contains 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!

I do so appreciate your continued support.

Here is my affiliate link again 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!

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).

 

Cricut

Box Card Gallery

In preparation for my class at the Cricut Mountain Make-a-thon, I figured I’d make a few Box Cards to show everyone what Box Cards are all about.  Well, of course, I got on a roll and just couldn’t stop!

I’m posting a gallery of all the cards I made in the past two weeks, but will be backtracking later to discuss making Box Cards with your Cricut.

I hope you enjoy the gallery!  Let me know which ones are your favorite!

Cricut

Using Pens With Your Cricut

Example of a card with scoring and writing
Card ready to be made; contains both a scoring line and writing with a pen

For my friend Debbie’s birthday, I gifted her Cricut’s January Mystery Box.

While I realize sending a birthday present full of unknown products is usually an “iffy” proposition, I figured I was safe because she is known to proclaim that her “favorite color is glitter” AND because this month’s box was marketed as being “elegant”.  Well, I am happy to report my gamble paid off.  Her Mystery Box contained a hefty amount of glittery and shiny items. In addition, she was elated to find two packages of pens for writing, which prompted me to write this blog post.

Debbie is a long time crafter, but is still learning how to use her new Maker.  I told her I would publish a post on how to use pens in her Cricut, so that everyone can get a little tutorial (or refresher) on how to do it.

For this example, I am using two cards that I got from vast Cricut Make It Now project collection.  Fortunately, these cards came all set up with both scoring lines and pen marks, so when I go to make it my machine already knows (and tells me) I will be needing my Scoring Stylus and also a Pen:

Tools you will use on project

If you have more than one additional tools in a project–as I have in this one–your Cricut will tell you which one to load first and then also prompt you to change tools.  In this case, I am to load my Scoring Stylus (into the left clamp/Clamp A) first and then load the pen afterwards.  Cutting is always done last with a project.

After my Cricut scores the card stock, it will ask you to change the tool…like this:

Reminder to add your pen

Make sure you are careful about changing out the tools; don’t tug too hard on the scoring stylus when removing, but also make sure your pen is firmly in place as well.

After you change out the stylus for the pen, you will see the machine actually drawing on your cardstock, as shown in this example:

Drawing your project

And once the writing/drawing is complete, the Cricut will proceed with the final step, cutting your card.

And–believe it or not–that’s all there is to it!

If you don’t want to be limited by using pre-made cards from the Make It Now section (although you may be surprised at how many projects are there!), I will post a “Part 2” to this project in a bit that will show you how to make a card from scratch that uses the drawing technique.  So check back later for more info, please.

DIY · Dutch Oven · recipe

Chicken Stock in your Dutch Oven

I realize we are living in a world of conveniences and one of those “easy outs” is using canned or boxed broth/stock.

To be honest, I also use broth in my cooking, but I can sincerely say the quality of the homemade stuff FAR outweighs the convenience of the cans. Most of the famous chefs would agree, I’m sure.

But what’s a home chef to do?

Well, you could make your own stock, of course! Actually it’s an so easy–albeit messy–process and it would make full use of the chicken carcasses left over from a nice chicken dinner. If you have Dutch Oven, the process is easier–but just as messy. Sorry!

Are you ready for this? Cuz imma lay it down for ya.

First, you need a cooked chicken.

You can cook your chicken from scratch, like I did with my Chicken in a Dutch Oven or you could use a store-bought rotisserie style chicken, it doesn’t matter. I’m assuming that you have made a meal or two out of the chicken and mostly what is left is skin, bones and some hidden meat. That’s what we want. (The picture above shows a whole chicken I cooked in my Dutch Oven, but I have seriously done this with nearly all the chickens I get from Costco. Go, Costco! Whoot!)

The first step to making your own stock is to throw everything (Really…everything!!) from the leftover chicken into your Dutch Oven. Bones, skin, even that gelatinous stuff that congeals on the bottom of the plastic container. (It’s gross, I know…don’t look at it. Just throw it in!)

Then chunk up a couple of carrots, a few ribs of celery (if you have it–by the way, this is a great way to use up those veggies no longer salad-worthy!) and a whole onion cut into quarters (keep the onion skin on, because it adds color and flavor). Throw all the veggies in with the chicken carcass. Add some salt and pepper, too. Now cover the entire thing with water.

Bring the entire pot to a boil and then reduce it to simmer. I partially cover my Dutch Oven during simmering, so not a lot of the water evaporates. If you are leaving it uncovered, check as you simmer to make sure you haven’t lost a lot of water. Add more if necessary. You are going to simmer this big pot a long time…at least a couple of hours. This is a fun chore for a rainy/snowy day, by the way!

Simmer your chicken a good long while. You can check on it every half hour or so and add more water if you think it needs it. You’re aiming for an entire pot of liquid with a mess of bones on the bottom.

After a couple of hours, the meat and skin will completely fall off the bone and the bone structure will break down, too.

When you see the broth has become golden and your chicken has broken down, turn off your pot and allow to cool. Sometimes I just cover it and let it cool on a cold burner and come back to it later, because the whole mess is seriously hot! Watch yourselves, folks!

Once your ingredients have cooled to the point where you can handle them, head on over to the sink. You will need a big colander and another pot or bowl about as big as your pot. You are going to do the first strain of your chicken stock, so place the bowl under the strainer in the sink and slowly empty the contents of your now cooled Dutch Oven into the colander (this is why you cool it!).

I’m not going to lie. This step requires some practice, but know that and give yourself time. This is a learning process and you will improve. Note, too, that you may have to lift the strainer from time to time to help all the broth get into the bowl. Oh! And do remember to use a big enough bowl under the colander, so you don’t have to put another one there. (It’s an easy beginner mistake)

Once you’ve strained it the first time, it’s a good idea to strain it again. Some of those bones and things tend to sneak by the colander on the first pass.

In the end you should have a colander in the sink full of junk and a big pot of gorgeous, delicious chicken stock. If you are a true dyed-in-the-wool New Englander (like me!), you might pick through the colander for chunks of chicken you missed before the simmer. But that’s not for everyone, so you can just bag that junk up and dispose of it if it grosses you out too much. Work up to it! Haha!

You might notice, depending on how your bird was prepared, that you’ve got a thick stripe of fat that floats to the top of your pan. This happens often when I make stock with my Thanksgiving Turkey, because of the butter used in it’s preparation, but it’s also there on a store bought chicken. If you want to reduce the fat in your broth, place the strained pan of stock in your fridge for an hour or so and then use a spoon to delicately scrape off the congealed layer of fat. I’d you live in a cold climate, consider putting the covered pot on your porch in the winter (!) to accomplish this task. Depending on how the bird was originally prepared, this could be a good half inch of fat you are losing, but don’t worry, because there is still some left even after skimming.

After straining and skimming, you will have several quarts of gorgeous, glorious homemade chicken stock, which can be used to make anything.

Generally I will use half of the stock to make a soup or stew. You could make a simple noodle soup as shown or add your favorite ingredients (barley, rice, noodles, carrots, etc.) and make a more complex main course. Either way, you won’t be sorry you pushed your way through this messy process.

You can store the remaining broth in your fridge or even freeze it!! One tip I got a long time ago from either Julia Child or Martha Stewart (sorry that I don’t remember!) was freezing the stock in ice cube trays and then–when frozen–storing them in a zippy bag for future convenience. If you do this, make sure to put them in a bag once frozen! No one wants to have chicken broth ice cubes in their drink. Plus the stock you worked so hard for will get freezer burn and that would be a shame.

You may want to even water the stock down further if you are making soup. If you are making a gravy or creamy based dish, keep it full strength though.

I hope you will try to make your own broth at least once. It’s very helpful and you will feel so frugal you will squeal with delight (like I do!)

One critical note: As you know I am a dog owner and lover. Please–as much as they might go wild for them–don’t give chicken bones to your pups! They may like a bit of cooled stock–my Odie loved my stock–but never bones!

And that’s it!!

Are you going to try it? Have you already done it and would like to share your thoughts? Please do!!

One final note: I hope you’ve noticed, faithful reader, that I’m trying hard to provide you with lots of fresh and interesting content on my blog. Reviving my blog is one of my New Years Resolutions this year. So could you find it in your heart to become a regular reader and tell your friends about me? It will be super nice to know I have a small following and I’m not just talking to myself. I surely would appreciate it! Thanks!!