Friday, August 30, 2013

Back To School

Today, my son started kindergarten. He was so excited to go that he didn't want to wait until it was time, instead threatening to just walk by himself. On the way to school, he announced to everyone he saw, "It's my first day of kindergartent!"

In an effort to get ourselves organized before he started school, I set up a homework station for him in his bedroom. Check it out:

I started with these galvanized tins from Pick Your Plum. They were perfect for this project because they are just wide enough to hold paper, but not so deep that things will get lost inside.

First, I taped off a strip across the middle and applied letter stickers. I painted over the letters with craft paint, then peeled the stickers and tape off. Then I lined the edges with chalkboard washi tape.

They were so easy to make and I love how they turned out! Now I just have to figure out a way to keep 2 year old Violet from stealing all the pencils and biting off the erasers.

{Linked on Flamingo Toes, Three Mango Seeds, Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, Back to the Basics, The Foley Fam, Under the Table and Dreaming, Sumo's Sweet Stuff}

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dermagist Review & Giveaway!

Today I have a great giveaway courtesy of Dermagist! This company offers a good number of skin care products. They recently gave me the opportunity to try out their Acne Clarifying Cream. Here are my thoughts:

Review Disclaimer: I received this product for free for the purpose of reviewing it here. All opinions expressed are my own and are honest.

I have had acne prone skin since I was a teenager, but it has gotten worse over the years. (I blame ridiculous hormones, but that's a story for another day... or never.) The point is, I have a lot of acne and I have been waiting until I'm sure I'm done having kids before starting any medication for it. Basically, I just live with it, but I still try various over-the-counter products to see if they make any difference. So I have tried a lot of different things.

Here is what Dermagist's website says about their Acne Clarifying Cream:
Focuses on soothing and benefiting Acne-prone areas with Resveratrol, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Provitamin B5, Chamomile, Aloe, and Shea Butter.  This light cream soothes the irritation of acne prone skin, at the same time it focuses in on making the breakouts go away.  The most powerful natural acne clarifying cream on the market, this is a favorite of our clients.
I received my Clarifying Cream and started using it right away. The instructions are simple; apply to a clean face twice each day. I tried it for 20 days, applying morning and night.

Other than the fact that I remain very non-photogenic, I think everyone can agree that there is a slight improvement in my skin. 

The cream has helped calm the redness associated with my acne and has helped clear some of my trouble spots like on my cheeks. The cream has a very nice texture and one small container will last me well over 30 days. It is also very moisturizing, which is a major plus for me since I generally have dry skin.

The biggest issue I had with this product was the smell. The fragrance of the cream is odd. I wouldn't call it unpleasant, but it is a strong scent. When applying in the morning, this was not an issue since my normal foundation covered it up. In the evenings, though, the fragrance was strong enough that my hubby didn't want my face too close to his. If you or your spouse are sensitive to smells, this could be an issue. 

Overall, I think that Dermagist's Acne Clarifying Cream is a good product, but can be quite expensive. I would definitely encourage anyone with acne prone skin to give it a try and see if it works for you.

And now for the giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win up to $100 in products from Dermagist. The contest starts at midnight tonight and runs through Friday, September 6! Good luck!

Giveaway Disclaimer: Prize is provided by Dermagist. Previous winners of free Dermagist product are not eligible to win. Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Projects in Progress

I don't know about everyone else, but I have a problem completing projects in a timely fashion. I have quite a few "projects in progress" -- enough that my crafting closet is becoming impassable. Here are a few of the things I am currently working on:

Embroidered & Quilted Sewing Clutch

I posted instructions for hand embroidery, but failed to mention that this piece I am (still!) working on is part of another larger project. 

I have big plans for this little saying and will be using it when I quilt a sewing clutch for keeping my embroidery hoop, needle, & floss in when I take projects with me. In my mind, it is fantastic! I'll definitely post the results when I eventually get to them!

Patchwork Picnic Blanket

I guest-posted on The Stitchin' Mommy back in July, explaining my "quilt as you go" process I used to make this blanket. At the time, my life was completely crazy, so I got behind on the blanket.

And then I ran out of my grey fabric and couldn't find the same color at any of my local fabric stores! So I've been sitting on this one ever since. Hopefully I will finish it up before next year's picnic season.

Menu Board

This project is the one currently occupying my available brain space. I've seen awesome menu boards all over Pinterest and decided to craft my own version.

I'm using a solid wood game board as the base, but haven't finished up all the details on it yet. Rest assured, a full tutorial will be posted as soon as I finish it up!

How many projects do you currently have "in progress?" Please tell me it's not just me...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 - The Results

Bout of Books 8.0 is now complete! I didn't reach all my goals, but feel like I did a decent job considering all my distractions. Here is a re-cap of my first experience with Bout of Books:

My Goals

  • To finish reading the books on my Summer Reading List.
  • To make some progress toward reading all of Charles' Dickens novels before I'm 30.
  • To give my normal reading binge a purpose!

My Results

  • 3 complete books read, including two off my Summer Reading List.
  • 134 pages of Martin Chuzzlewit read toward my Dickens goal.
  • 1,062 total pages read this week.

What I Read

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein was a wonderful read. It is historical fiction, set during WWII in England and France. It is beautiful and heartbreaking.
The Roving Tree by Elsie Augustave was an interesting read about a Haitian girl, brought up in America who later journeys to Africa in an attempt to find her true place in the world. The story includes Haitian and African traditional beliefs in a modern context.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher is the story of a teenage boy who receives thirteen cassette tapes created by a girl who recently committed suicide. The tapes explain her thirteen reasons why she chose to end her life. I was somewhat skeptical of the message this book would send until the end when the narrator makes it clear that everything that happened was a choice. An interesting read to get you thinking about the dynamics of relationships, high school drama & angst, and the choices we make.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blogger Spotlight - Stephanie @ The Tip Toe Fairy

Blogger Spotlight time! I am searching for fellow crafty bloggers who have fewer than 1000 followers to spotlight. If you fit the bill and would like to participate, please contact me at hotcommodityhome{at}live{dot}com!

Today, we're getting to know Stephanie from The Tip Toe Fairy. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, click over and follow her! Stephanie posts a great variety of recipes, kid crafts, book reviews, and sewing projects. She even has a section of free tutorials! It doesn't get much better than that, in my opinion.

K: Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

S: Mother, wife, artist, baker, dreamer

K: How and why did you start your blog?

S: I actually began a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  Way back in 2006, I began blogging as Sewing Chick.  I started right around the same time that some of the other bloggers who seem rather famous to me now began their blogs.  Before that, I was an active member of a sewing/mothering discussion website for years and years.  I lead sew-a-longs there and posted lots of projects and patterns and tried to help other mamas learning to sew.  But, as my children got busier as they got into school and activities, I just couldn't find the time to keep up.  I wanted to keep sharing things with other moms, so I thought starting a blog would be a great way to keep it all in one place.  It was fun.  Soon, I was getting projects published in magazines and getting sponsorships.  Then, life upended itself a couple years later, and I had to put it all on the back burner.  Just in the last couple of years I've been able to come back and restart my blog again.  

K: What are some of your favorite posts/projects you have done?

S: One of my favorites was a project to make your own shopping cart cover.  You know those adorable little things you see moms put in the front of a grocery cart? I wanted to make one of those so bad to use for myself, so I looked to buy a pattern.  But, I was too impatient.  I did not want to wait for it to arrive in the  mail.  Then, one night while playing around in my sewing room, a light bulb went off.  I realized I could make one of those things without a pattern, and it was so easy to do I had to share it.  I remember being just giddy at it all coming together.  

Some others I love are my machine applique tutorials - the cupcake and ice cream onesie came out just like I imagined.  I have a new machine applique project coming very soon that I'm guest blogging for someone else.  I'll give you one hint -- it's Disney themed!  I can't wait for everyone to see it.  It is just so adorable!  

My other faves are the cupcake recipes.  I love designing weird cupcake flavors.  The coke floats, bubblegum, grape soda,  the cotton candy, etc. --  I'm always surprised that they come out the way I plan, and that my taste testers like them so much.  

K: What do you do when you're not blogging?

S: I love to read, so we go to the library a lot.  My older children are on a swim team, so I like to take the little one swimming while they go to swim practice.   I love to engage my children in creativity, so we are always making something weird.  Recently, we were using lollipop molds to make brightly colored chocolate mustaches and monster mouths.  

K: Which craft supply could you be accused of hoarding?

S: The more appropriate question might be which craft supply am I "not" hoarding.  But if I had to narrow it down, it would probably be fabric.  I could probably start a fabric store out of my house.  

K: Tell us something random about yourself!

S: I'm a lactivist, which means I am a big supporter of breastfeeding.  With all three of my children, I've nursed for more than 10 years of my life.  It's something I feel very passionate about, and I have taken active roles to promote breastfeeding in public as well as in legislation.   Prior to having my third baby, I worked at the Mother's Milk Bank of North Texas, which is a local human milk bank.  I was in charge of the laboratory where we pasteurized donated breast milk to send to premature and sick babies.  Apart from being a mom, I think it was the best job I ever had.

Follow The Tip Toe Fairy: Facebook, Pinterest, Google+Bloglovin'

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bout of Books 8.0 - Days 2-4 Progress


Today is Day 3 of Bout of Books 8.0 and I have been slacking! I should've known it would be a mistake to start with Dickens, so I am about to change up my strategy!

As for my progress up to today, I am on page 135 (of 716) of Martin Chuzzlewit. Since that is moving slowly, I'm going to set it aside while I start on Code Name: Verity. I hope that these other books in my pile will be quicker reads so that I can make a bit more progress!


I am happy to say that in the last two days, I have redeemed myself a bit! On Wednesday, I read Code Name: Verity, which was excellent! On Thursday, I read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. It was heartbreaking and reminded me of many of the reasons I hated high school. And as of today, I am on page 37 of The Roving Tree by Elsie Augustave. I hope to finish it up today because I have five more books waiting to be read. I'm not sure I'll meet my goal of 6 complete books, but I will get at least 4 by Sunday, which isn't too shabby.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Shorts-to-Skirt Refashion

Since I only have two kids, a boy and a girl, I am always looking for creative ways to repurpose boy clothes for a girl. This is a project I came up with and I am so pleased with the results, that I wanted to share!

I started with some old basketball shorts that no longer fit my son.

First, I unpicked the crotch seams. My intent was to use the existing side seams from the shorts as the front and back of the skirt. When laid out, the left and right side (originally the back and front of the shorts) were not the same (see above), so I trimmed the corners down.

This gave the skirt a more even silhouette.

Next, I pinned the layers together carefully. I start pinning at what was formerly the side seam, which is unaltered in this tutorial. I pinned this seam to the seam opposite to avoid any shifting while I sewed. I pinned the hem edges together for the same reason.

Here you can see how I stitched along my new side seams. First, I zig-zagged close the edge, then did a straight stitch right along that to make a smoother seam. When that was finished, the new seam was still a little wavy, so I also top-stitched along each side of the seams from the waistband to the hem.

Since the original shorts had grommets with white cording, I needed to figure out a way to make the grommets work for the skirt. I threaded a pink ribbon through and all the way around the waist. When the skirt is worn, I pull it snug, then tie a bow.

On the first fitting, I thought the skirt was still too long, so I hemmed it up an inch and added another strip of pink ribbon along the hem with a fancy floral stitch. (In this photo, you can see the outside hem and the inside of the opposite hem.)

And now Violet has a fun and casual skirt! I know she doesn't look terribly excited about it, but that serious face is because she wanted to see pictures of herself instead of standing there while I took pictures of her.

{Linked on Mamal Diane, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Ladybug Blessings, Cedar Hill Ranch, Coastal Charm, Adventures of a DIY Mom, Nap-Time Creations, Pursuit of Functional Home, Fluster Buster, Ashley's Dandelion Wishes, Ginger Snap Crafts, Handy Man Crafty Woman, Green Willow Pond}

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blogger Opportunity!

Jackie from Live Like a Mom is celebrating her one-year blog anniversary! Help celebrate by signing up for this Giveaway Event. The giveaway will be held from September 01-September 25. Sign-ups will close August 22. There will be a maximum of 50 Blogger Spots available.

There will be two winners from this giveaway.
Winner 1:  NUBY Baby Item (TBD) and Pink Swaddle Me Infant Wrap
Winner 2:  Pink Skullcandy Ink'd Earbuds and $25 Build-A-Bear Gift Card

This is a FREE giveaway event with an Announcement Post (Twitter or Facebook). Each additional link is $3 (Twitter/Facebook), or $5 Subscribe by Email. Without the Announcement post, the cost is $5 to sign-up. *Host Pages available for $10 (includes 2 links of your choice) *Co-Host Pages available for $20 (includes 3 links, a Host Page, and a link on the main giveaway post).

Sign-Up HERE (sign-ups will close when full).
The Blogger with the most referrals gets 1 extra FREE link (Twitter or Facebook).  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blogger Spotlight - Danielle @ Sew Much Crafting

It's time again for a Blogger Spotlight! I am searching for fellow crafty bloggers who have fewer than 1000 followers to spotlight. If you fit the bill and would like to participate, please contact me at hotcommodityhome{at}live{dot}com!

This week, we're getting to know Danielle from Sew Much Crafting. Danielle hosts a monthly Share the Love Blog Hop and a weekly Pinterest Power Party, so be sure to check those out and find some new blogging friends! My favorite things to look at on Danielle's blog are her Snapshot Saturday posts because it is a quick and fun way to get a glimpse into her life. I'm also intrigued by the idea of freezer meals, so I will be following her Freezer Cooking Series, too.

(Be sure to click the links provided below to follow Danielle on all the social media sites!)

Danielle answered some questions for me to share. Enjoy!

K: Describe yourself in 5 words or less.

D: Wife, Christ-lover, Blogger, Planner & Organizer {is that five words!?}

K: How and why did you start your blog?

D: We moved 2000+ miles from home and I got to become a stay-at-home wife! I started blogging to keep our family updated as well as to keep myself busy with things I love! I also wanted to share some of the things I'm passionate about with other: my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, organization, diy, crafting, meal planning, saving money and more!

K: What are some of your favorite posts/projects you have done?

D: How can I choose?! My Blog Planner Series has been a huge hit! I also created some free meal planning printables - like I said before, I like being organized! I'm also a washi tape lover - so any of my posts with washi tape are favorites in my book!

K:What do you do when you're not blogging?

D: I love cooking, making my house a home, and spending time with my husband!

K: Which craft supply could you be accused of hoarding?

D: Washi... No, baker's twine... Wait, ribbon... Ha! I love 'em all!

K: Tell us something random about yourself!

D: I've never broken a bone!

Visit Danielle's pages here:

And here are the links to Danielle's favorite posts:

Blog Planner Series:

Monthly Meal Planning Printables:

Weekly Meal Planning Printables:

Washi Binder Clips:

Washi Phone Charger:

Proof that I'm a Craft Supply Hoarder:

And one more favorite - How to Do Once a Month Grocery Shopping:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hand Embroidery Tutorial

I learned to cross-stitch when I was young and have enjoyed needlework off and on since then. Two years ago when I made quilted Christmas stockings for our family, I looked into paying for someone to embroider our names on the cuffs. Ultimately, I decided that I should try to do it myself instead. They turned out really well considering that I learned by doing. Since then, I have had several people see our stockings and say, "You did that by hand?!" So I thought I'd share my method in case anyone else is looking to learn how to do this.

Our hand embroidered Christmas stockings
Step 1: Lay It Out!

Your first task is to figure out exactly what text or design you want to embroider and the size it needs to be. I generally only embroider text, so it's not too hard to figure out how to lay it out. For our stocking cuffs, I simply measured the width of the stocking, marked the center, then lined up the text accordingly.

Next, lay it out on your computer, using whatever application you like. I generally use Illustrator. Choose your font style and size, then print out your words or design in solid black. Thicker fonts are easier to embroider neatly!

Step 2: Trace!

Trace your design onto your fabric using a pencil. I tape my paper to a window, line up the fabric over the top, and use the light to trace the shape. I have done this on various colors of fabric, but haven't tried black fabric. Any other color should work great!

Step 3: Stitch

Once your design is traced onto your fabric, it's time to do the actual embroidery. Place your fabric in your embroidery hoop and make sure it's nice and snug. I usually start on the left and work left to right, top to bottom. You want your embroidery to be smooth, so do your best to make your stitches even and straight. For text, use one stitch to span across the character. Do one stitch from top left across to the right, the come back to the left behind your fabric. Your next stitches will be parallel to the first one, making sure not to leave gaps between stitches. When you come to a curve, use a pivot point, as illustrated below.

My poorly designed diagram to illustrate my stitching method.

Depending on your fabric and thread colors, you may need to tie off and cut your thread often to avoid seeing lines across the back of your design. Patience is key! And don't be afraid to pick stitches out if you notice they are getting crooked. Straight and even stitches are the most important thing to make your embroidery look smooth.

More Tips for Embroidery Success

  • If you are using thin fabric, like cotton, a smaller embroidery hoop is easier to work with.
  • Use two or three strands of embroidery floss in your needle to make sure you have good coverage.
  • Don't put your design right on the edge of your fabric because it makes it really difficult to secure it in your hoop!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Co-Hosting! Tuesday's Tea Party #36

We all know blog hops are a great way to gain more followers, meet other bloggers and help each other grow. Don't forget to return the favor to those who follow you. Every Tuesday you can be sure this shin dig will be going on, so be sure to come on back.

Alice Kingsleigh
Adventure Into Domesticland     Bombshells Designs     Alice On Vaction


1. Follow the host and co-hosts
2. Link up! - Your blog, Facebook, Twitter and/or Pinterest.
3. Grab the badge, place it on your sidebar or link party page.
4. Keep coming back to link up each week!

Adventure Into Domesticland

Grab The Badge!
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Tuesday's Tea Party" width="125" height="150" /></a>

As a special thanks for following the blog hop, I'm giving away advertising on my blog!
Co-host may offer space as well!

Giveaway Rules:
1. Enter on the Rafflecopter
2. Link up at least your blog up on the Inlinkz

Click any of the below ad space banners for more information about that pages marketing packages. Each blog that participates in giving away space is responsible for communicating with winner and providing the described space.

Winner receives:

Please be sure to link up under the right category!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Where I Live - Craft Lake City DIY Festival

I am a lucky lady. My hubby, Dave, is a graphic designer for Stampin' Up, which means that he is interested in going to events like Craft Lake City DIY Festival that happened this weekend in downtown Salt Lake. Once again, we were fortunate enough to be able to leave our kids for a couple of hours with my sister-in-law so that we could enjoy the sights without trying to navigate a leashed toddler through the crowded booths. (Original photography is by Dave and other photos are linked to their sources.)
(Craft Lake City Website)
As with last week's visit to the downtown Farmer's Market, Dave and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the festival, just taking in the sights and smells. Dave snapped photos while I picked up business cards so that we could remember our favorite vendors.

Engraved cutting boards by Alexis Maddox Designs.
Laser cut greeting cards, also by Alexis Maddox Designs.
Fantastic prints by NiftySwank.
Cute and colorful applique projects by The Vintage Fern.
Amazing jewelry from Steampunk Bijoux!
Adorable crochet hats at Sweet Kiwi Crochet.