Flamingo Cruising Ducks

Flamingo Ducks

Have y'all every heard of Cruising Ducks? It's a super fun game started by a young girl here in Texas. Basically you hide rubber ducks on your cruise ship (public areas only) and you tag them with your name and where you are from. When someone finds your duck, they can post it on the Facebook group letting you know that it has been found. Super fun! I had never heard of this until this cruise and I am super excited to play along!  Of course, I can't use plain ducks- I need Flamingo Ducks- and I have to decorate them!

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I started by opening my Design Studio software to use my Silhouette Cameo 4. I grabbed a heart file from my library and sized it to one half inch. I then replicated it until I got the number I wanted.

TIP: When using the replicate keyboard shortcut (CTRL + arrow key) it will put the new copy RIGHT NEXT to the original. I personally like a little more space between designs. So here is what I do:
  1. CTRL + Right Arrow Key to make the first copy
  2. Then I hit the Right Arrow Key 3 times to move the copy over
  3. Repeat steps #1 and #2 until there are 5 hearts side by side
  4. Select all 5 hearts
  5. CTRL + Down Arrow Key this will copy the 5 hearts directly below the original 5
  6. then I hit the Down Arrow Key 3 times to move them down a little bit
  7. Repeat steps #5 and 6 until there are as many hearts as you want
StyleTech Ultra Metallic Vinyl

Look how cute that little heart is! I used StyleTech Ultra Metallic Adhesive Vinyl for this project. It gives TONS of glitter, but no mess! The best kind of glitter I swear!

Cruise Ducks

How cute is this little guy! I have about 20 more to add hearts to and then I need to print a tag to go with them and I am ready to hide my ducks.

Today I am joining in the fun with Craft Lightning GLITTER. Be sure to click on the photo above and go check out all the cool projects made with glitter.

Portable Gift Wrapping Station with Deflecto®

Portable gift wrapping station
It's almost Christmas y'all! Are y'all as excited as I am? I 💓💓💓💓💓 Christmas. All the feels! Decorating, baking, crafting, and gift wrapping are all high up on my list. Every year I try to change up how my gifts look. This year I am keeping everything I need handy with a portable gift wrapping station using a Stackable Craft Caddy from Deflecto®. Have you got yourself some Stackable Craft Caddies yet? They are amazing!!!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure for more information. 

Gifr Wrapping

I grabbed all the things I plan on using this year to adorn my gifts. I am the only one who decorates their gift packages? I love to make them pretty. My family, on the other hand, could not care less how pretty they are. They just want to open them! I love to use real ribbon, so I grabbed a selection from my studio. I added some bows, pretty tags, scissors, pens, and embellishments.

Christmas gift wrapping
To make the tape and gift tags a little more accessible I crumpled two sheets of tissue paper and put them in the bottom of the container.  That makes them so much easier to grab when I need them.

Gift tags
I picked these pretty snowflake embellishments up last year on sale after Christmas just for this purpose. I can't wait to see how my packages look. I also added some small gift bags to the Craft Caddy. I love to use these for gift cards. Since my kiddos are grown I tend to hand out a lot of gift cards. I like them to look a little better than a flat envelope. Boring!

portable wrapping station
I used two small and two medium containers. The Craft Caddy comes with 1 small, 1 medium, and 1 large container, but they are interchangeable. Since I have more than one Caddy, I just swapped them out.

This is a sponsored post.  As a member of the Deflecto Design Team I have been provided product and compensation in exchange for my creative ideas, views and opinions.

Etched Christmas Cookie Tray

etched cookie tray

I am full on in the Christmas prep mode. My favorite time of year! I needed a new cookie tray for the Princess to leave her Santa cookies out on. Of course I pulled out my etchall® and got to work.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure* for more information. 

Etching supplies

 Gather up your supplies. I used:
I used my Silhouette Cameo 4 to make my stencil. Y'all - I love the new Cameo 4!! If you have been thinking about buying one - you should totally do it! Go grab yourself one NOW!

etching stencil

After cutting my stencil, I like to define the cut areas. I use some old chalks I have lying around and brush a little bit on the stencil. I make much fewer mistakes when weeding when using this technique!

Weeding vinyl

After I cut the stencil, I like to go ahead and apply the transfer sheet and apply it to the piece to be etched. I pull the transfer sheet off and then I weed it. It seems like now matter how careful I am, I will stretch the stencil if I weed first then transfer.  I also like to tape off the uncovered areas with masking tape. I am a messy crafter!

Apply a generous amount of etchall® etching creme and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. I'll be honest y'all,,, I normally just go do something else and come back to it after a while! Return as much of the creme as you can to the jar. Did you know that you can re use etchall®? You can!  After removing as much of the creme as you can, rinse the dish under running water. Be careful that you don't let any of the creme linger on exposed areas - it can start etching!

gold etched glass

Here lately I have been on a real kick about coloring my etched pieces. I love the way it looks! Gold Rub-n-buff is my favorite. I like to leave my stencil in place until after I have colored the etching. I use a cheap make-up sponge from the dollar store to apply the Rub N Buff, then just toss it in the trash.

Gold Glass
Look how sparkly the gold Rub N Buff is! It is perfect for coloring your etched pieces.

etched cookie tray

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you give glass etching a try!

Make Your Own Vanilla - it's easier than you think

Home made vanilla
I get asked all the time about how to make your own vanilla. Y'all,, it is so much easier than you think. I mean that. ANYONE can make their own vanilla. It is so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. SO. Much. Better. Making your own vanilla is so simple. Seriously. If you can pour booze you can make vanilla. It really is that easy.

You don't need any fancy equipment or tools. You don't need any technical knowledge. It doesn't take a lot of time or work. You DO NOT need an expensive "vanilla kit" that they are selling online. Please don't buy one of those!

Vanilla making supplies
This is all you need to make your own home made vanilla.
  • Vanilla beans 
  • glass bottles 
  • Booze. The most common is Vodka, but I will talk about some other options below. 
  • Time

Vanilla beans

The two most popular vanilla beans are Tahitian beans or Bourbon (Madagascar) beans. The name denotes where they are grown. Tahitian vanilla beans are milder and more fruity flavored. Bourbon vanilla beans (also called Madagascar beans) are richer, with a more pronounced vanilla flavor. These are the beans I use for making vanilla.There is NO bourbon in Bourbon/Madagascar beans. The area where they are grown was formally known as the Bourbon islands.  Grade B beans are fine for making vanilla- you do not need the highest priced Grade A beans.

Vanilla liquor

The alcohol is the carrier for the extract. Basically you are flavoring alcohol with the vanilla beans. Vodka is the most often used. It gives a purer vanilla flavor than other liquors. Buy the cheap vodka. Seriously - get the stuff the college kids are buying.

Madagascar beans
To start, cut your beans lengthwise (but not all the way through). I use two beans per 8 fluid ounces of liquor. You can use more, but I have found that you really don't get any more flavor so why waste the beans. 

Glass bottles for vanilla

Put the beans in a glass bottle. It's OK if you have to fold the beans in half. Any glass bottle will work if it has a lid. I doesn't have to be a dark glass bottle. You are going to store it in a dark cabinet, so it will be protected from sunlight.  I tend to use recycled bottles. The dark bottles in this post are from a certain premixed cocktail that the hubs likes to drink. They are perfect for vanilla. You can even use a canning jar.

Labelling vanilla

Fill your bottle up with liquor, put the cap on, and wipe the outside of the bottle down. Give it a shake to help some of the caviar move out of the beans. Label the bottles with the date and be sure to note what liquor you used if it was not plain old vodka.

Vanilla varieties
I use a variety of liquors to make my vanilla. A small batch bourbon is my favorite; it gives a very rich, full bodied flavor to my vanilla. Bacardi Spiced Rum is great too. I have a selection on hand right now, because I am trying to use up some stuff in my liquor cabinet. The hubs thinks he is a drinker. He is not. So when he buys a bottle of liquor it just sits in the cabinet until I use it. For this reason I have made vanilla with scotch, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, Bacardi Oak Heart, and pretty much every brand of Jamaican Rum. They are all good. Honestly I have never had a bad batch of vanilla. Try out whatever you have!

Storing vanilla

Put the bottles in the back of a cabinet. Once a month or so, pull them out and give them a shake. After 3 months you will have vanilla.  Now, one question I get quite a bit is "how long is it good for?".  FOREVER. Until you use it up- that's how long it's good for.

Storing vanilla beans
I buy vanilla beans in quantity. Generally a pound of beans at a time. That's a LOT of beans y'all. Most people don't need that many. I would suggest that you start with 10 beans. Use some to make vanilla and store a few to use in whipping cream, custards, etc. Storing the vanilla beans is super easy. Put them in a Mason Jars with a lid. Put the beans in the jar and put them in the back of the pantry where it is dark. Once a month or so,  pull them out, open the jars, and let them sit on the counter with the lid off for a few hours. This makes the kitchen smell SO GOOD. After a few hours, put the lid back on and put them back in the pantry. They will last about two years like this. PLEASE don't ever buy vanilla beans in the grocery store. The last time I looked they cost $22 for two, shriveled, dried up beans. Just don't do it!

Ok, so you want to know if it's cheaper than buying vanilla in the store. I get it. Sixteen ounces of the McCormick Brand pure vanilla extract is $35 ($17.50 per cup). High end "gourmet" brands of pure vanilla extract run as much as $20 for a measly FOUR ounces!! (That's $40 per cup y'all!) By comparison you can make your own for  $7.12 per cup.  That is HALF the price of even the cheapest store bought vanilla. With no chemicals.
  • 10 beans for $23 = $4.60 for two beans
  • The Vodka I bought was $2.52 per cup
  • Total - $7.12 per cup!
Vanilla kit
One last note. Please DO NOT buy a "vanilla making kit". It is a waste of money.  This one includes "Exquisite 375 ml clear glass bottle imported from Italy, custom label, and instructions included". Y'all - no one cares where your bottle comes from. It's always going to be stored in a cabinet. Did you notice how big that imported bottle is? It's 375ml - that is 12.5 ounces. So that vanilla ends up costing $26.50 per cup. Ridiculous! 
OK- this was the longest post in history, thanks so much if you made it to the end! I hope you give this a try. Making your own vanilla is so easy - you will never go back to buying it, I promise!

Paint Storage Solutions with Deflecto®

Y'all it's National Craft Week - are you getting crafty? This past month I have been working really hard on getting my craft studio organized and cleaned out. I have TOO much stuff crammed in there and it is getting hard to work. I have a TON of paint. I needed to find a way to organize my paints, brushes, and supplies so that I could see everything and know what I had. I used a combo of Deflecto® Wall Mounting Bars, Stackable Caddy Containers, and IKEA Picture Ledges. So far I am loving this new system! 

So much paint
This is what I was working with y'all. Now I am a Plaid Ambassador (they are an awesome company to work with) but I have been collecting paint for far longer than I have worked with them. If you've ever looked at my studio tour you will see that way back in the day I painted murals in the house using Donna Dewberry's One Stroke method. So,, yeah,,, I have a lot of paint!!

before organization
About the only empty spot left in my studio was behind the door. I had to figure out a way to utilize that space to store all that paint! Enter the Deflecto Wall Mounting Bars and Caddy Containers. I have long wanted to use the wall system in my studio and this was the perfect opportunity. 

IKEA Picture Ledges
I started by installing IKEA Picture Ledges on the way using drywall anchors. Each one of the shelves holds 42 bottles of craft paint. SCORE! Of course, once I installed them I realized I wanted to have TWO rows of paint and I wanted to have the back row of paint raised up so I could see all the bottles. I had to take a couple of shelves down and re measure! Learn from my mistakes! 

Organization set up

Next up I installed four wall mounting bars - three to the side and one above. I really wanted to maximize my storage here. I measured my longest paint brush and spaced the bars far enough apart so that I would have space for those long brushes no matter where I put them. I used a combination of Small, Medium, and Large Containers, removing the lids of each one. They come on and off the wall mounting bar very easily. You can take them off the bar and straight to your work area. 

Wall Storage
Next up was sorting all those supplies! I grouped paint brushes by use and size in the Small Containers. I also threw in some other random supplies that fit perfectly in them. The Medium Container is even large enough to hold my paint pallets keeping them right where I can see and grab them when needed. 

Bin of Stencils
I needed a spot to store all my paint stencils and a Large Container was perfect. 

Plaid Stencils
ALL of these supplies fit easily into the one Large Container! Talk about using your space wisely!! It is so easy to pull the container off the bar, sit it on my desk, and pick the perfect one for my project. 

Organized paint brushes
Look how beautiful that is! All those brushes, sorted into bins so I can grab what I need without digging through a bucket. 

IKEA shelves
Here is a look at the final project - all my supplies stored neatly and in minimal space. With room left over for my rolly cart too! 

Defecto Stackable Caddy

The containers are part of the Stackable Caddy System. This is such a great way to carry your supplies with you when you travel to crops or other events. They can be used for so much more than craft supplies too; baking, kids toys, in the bathroom, in the dorm room, etc. They are one of my favorite pieces of storage!

This is a sponsored post.  As a member of the Deflecto Design Team I have been provided product and compensation in exchange for my creative ideas, views and opinions.

Be sure to take a look at the Deflecto Pinterest page for more great storage solutions. 

Anita Scroggins