Michael’s App Review

I have been in a super crafty mood lately! As such, Michael’s has become one of my favorite stores, partly because of their awesome app.

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PROS
Coupons – Honestly the coupons alone are enough to make the app worth it for me. There is always some kind of coupon, usually 30-40% off a regular prices item. And the cashier can just scan it right from your phone – no need to print!
Weekly Ad shows you what’s on sale throughout the store, in every department.
QR Scanner – I haven’t tried this out myself but it’s a pretty cool feature. You can scan an item and get the price, without having to wait in line or ask an employee
Size – the app only takes up about 27MB, which is great for me considering I only have the 16GB iPhone!

CONS
Products i.e. Shopping is difficult to do on the app. I find it easier to just go to the website.
Speed – the app can be a little slow sometimes, especially the (very pretty) opening. If you don’t have good cell service, you might not be able to open the coupons very quickly – something to keep in mind!

Overall, I’m a fan. It’s a simple app but it gets the job done for me – namely pointing me in the right direction of great savings!

Quick Knit Projects

Knitting is my newfound love! I find it so relaxing and also rewarding, since at the end you have something to show for all of your hard work!

For all my fellow knitters looking for a last minute project, or a newbie looking for something simple to try out, check out my favorite patterns. I’ve included pictures of my final products – please forgive my poor photography skills 🙂

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1. Chunky Circular Scarf is a good first circular needle project. It’s easy to follow and has a beautiful result!

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2. Baby Bib – so adorable! Baby projects are great since they don’t take nearly as long. I made mine in stripes and I just love it!

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3. Three Color Cowl – I think you need to make a Lion Brand account to view this, but it’s free and totally worth it because they have great free patterns. This cowl is super warm. Great for New England winters!

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4. Quick & Easy Throw – this pattern uses large needles so it knits up very quickly. The yarn is also fairly inexpensive which is great for a Yankee Swap with a price limit!

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Some other patterns that look fun and easy, but I haven’t had a chance to try yet:
Braided Cable Headband
Eleventh Hour Scarf
Emphasis Cowl

What’s your favorite last minute knitting pattern?

Learn to Knit

Reading has always been my way of de-stressing after a long day at work or busy weekend. But ever since I started grad school, I’ve found I don’t have the brain power or energy to read after a full work day and several more hours of school work. I still needed a way to slow down my over-active brain and relax before bed.

Luckily my boyfriend has my back (as always) and suggested I try knitting. Both of my grandmothers were big knitters and I still have blankets and clothing they made for me. This was probably where boyfriend got the idea – he had one of my Grammy’s blankets on his lap at the time!

Taking his advice, I browsed Google, Pinterest and YouTube to learn how the basics and hit up my local craft store to pick up some supplies.

Interested in learning to knit? Here are some tips I’ve picked up over the last few months since I started…

IMG_2403.JPGThese are some of the projects I’ve been working on lately.

Picking Yarn and Needles
There are a variety of yarn weights (thickness) and needle size. The combination determine what your final product will look like.

For beginners, I would suggest one of the following:
Red Heart Soft yarn with US size 11 needles
Lion Brand Woolspun with US size 13 needles

I’ve used both of these yarns and love them! They make for a warm and soft scarf. One ball should be enough to make a decent-sized scarf, but it can never hurt to pick up an extra ball.

One thing to be aware of is that many yarns have what’s called a “dye lot”. Yarns with the same dye lot were colored at the same time, so they will be identical in shade. If you’re planning to use multiple balls of yarn for a project, make sure they all have the same dye lot so you don’t have color variations midway through!

Knitting Basics
I suggest searching YouTube for beginner knitting videos. The first thing you need to learn is how to “cast on”, which is getting the stitches on the needles. Then you need to learn the knit stitch itself. There is also the purl stitch but I’d suggest mastering the knit stitch first before adding more into the mix.

You can also take classes at your local craft store. I’ve taken a few at the Michael’s near my work and they’ve been super helpful.

Pick a Pattern
Start small! Try a thin scarf with a very basic pattern. Eventually you’ll be on to knitting lots of cool patterns, but there’s no need to drive yourself crazy the first time around.

Good luck my fellow knitting newbies! I’m no expert, but I’m happy to try to answer any questions!

App Review: Jo-Ann Fabrics

I have been on a crafting spree lately and as such, Jo-Ann Fabrics has become one of my favorite stores. Unfortunately for my wallet, there is a store right on my way home so I’ve found myself making almost weekly visits!

It was on one of those trips that I first heard about the app for Jo-Ann Fabrics. I was surprised to hear they actually have one, since a lot of my favorite stores still don’t, so I was really interested to check it out.

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Perks
•The simple app layout makes it easy to navigate, unlike some other stores apps I’ve seen

•Coupons! You don’t have to create an account or log in to have access to these coupons.

•Plus, the app shows upcoming coupons. This way if you know you need something soon but not right away, you can plan your trip around the best upcoming coupon.

•Easy-to-view sales flyers let you see what’s on sale at the moment, which is great if you’ve had your eye on a certain item but don’t want to pay full price

Disappointments
•You can’t shop directly on the app. However, if you select the “Shop” app, it does open their site in your browser.

•Most of the coupons on the app don’t work on sale items. It is written in the fine print of the coupon itself but still something to be aware of when you’re shopping!

•The downside to the simplicity of the app is that there aren’t all that many features. There isn’t much to see beyond what I already listed above.

Overall, I think this app is a good start for Jo-Ann Fabrics. It gives shoppers the essential features upfront and allows room for growth and development over time. I look forward to seeing the app progress and will be taking advantage of what it does offer in the meantime!

DIY: Photobooth

Photobooths have grown in popularity recently as a fun way to document a big event, such as a wedding or anniversary. Generally, a photographer is hired to take the pictures, and in some cases provide the costumes, and print them out right then for guests to take home.

The convenience of this method is great but the issue is, these can be rather expensive, averaging somewhere around $1,000 for 4 hours…yikes!

Instead, I’d suggest looking into creating your own photobooth, as I recently did for an event with some friends. 20140721-141431-51271573.jpg

Here’s what you need:
Large white sheet. Or if you have an organization you’re promoting, a banner would work as well! Tack it up to a wall as your backdrop and you’re good to go.

Costumes. Masks, boas, hats, beads, etc. Perhaps it’s because I just graduated from college, but I have all kinds of costume pieces from different theme parties I’ve attended. Ask your friends to bring some if you think you don’t have enough! Tip: stores have lots of costumes and accessories hugely discounted the week after Halloween.

Props. Funny little signs are a fun addition to the photos. You can make your own or purchase some on sites like Etsy. Some Etsy examples:

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Camera. We used a digital camera on a tripod. You can set the timer so you don’t need a dedicated photographer!

Digital Printer. This is optional, if you want to be able to print the pictures out right away. We just posted ours to Facebook for people to print or use as they pleased.

While you might not have all of the items above, be sure to ask around amongst your friends before buying them…you never know what someone might have. We didn’t have to spend anything on our photobooth, which was great!

And it’s that simple! Enjoy your party and send your guests home with some hilarious photobooth shots to remember the night!

Have you ever made your own photobooth? What props did you use?

Create Your Own Quote Wall

In case you couldn’t tell from my Wise Words Wednesday series, I have a bit of a fascination with quotes. Just a glimpse at an encouraging passage can give me the motivation I might need. So when it came time for me to move into my dorm room for my senior year, I decided to take on a fun crafting project! I like to call it my very own quote wall

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Want to make your own?

Supplies
Several large frames. I chose three 11x14in white frames
Neutral background paper. I used silver, but white, black, beige, etc. would work as well
Lots of colored paper, in different sizes. I found a kit at my local Michael’s that had 5 different colors of paper, pre-cut to a variety of sizes – score!
Sharpies. Different marker thicknesses add a little more interest to the final product.
Stickers. To add a little pop of fun!
A list of your favorite quotes. Need some ideas? Check out my Pinterest quote board!
Glue or tape. To hold everything down.

Once you have all of your supplies, it’s pretty easy to put everything together.

1. Cut the background paper to the size of the frame
2. Write out your quotes. There are a few different options in terms of writing your quotes. You can do as I did and handwrite them on pre-cut paper. You could also print them on colored paper or in color on white paper and cut them to size. It depends on what you like best! I personally can’t cut to save my life but my handwriting isn’t too awful, so I decided to write them out.
3. Arrange them on your background page(s) to make sure everything fits well.
4. Glue/tape everything down as you want it.
5. Add stickers or other decorations as desired.
6. Place in the frame and voila!, you’ve got your own quote wall!

Here’s a few larger pictures of how mine came out. I loved them so much that after graduation, I hung them on the wall above the table I do my makeup at so I can get my daily dose of inspiration!

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What do you think? Have you made your own quote-related craft project?

DIY: Fleece Tie Blankets

As I mentioned not too long ago, I’ve been really into giving unique and personal gifts lately. One gift that really started this for me is one I received from my aunt a few years ago – a fleece tie blanket.

This was pretty much the ultimate in personalized presents. She was able to make me a blanket in my favorite colors but it didn’t take a crazy amount of time to do like some crafts. And even better, I use it all the time! This is now one of my favorite gifts to give – and my friends are always asking for one of their own!

What is a fleece tie blanket? How do you make it? Is it really that easy? Read on to learn how to make your very own custom blanket!

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A fleece tie blanket is exactly what it sounds like – two sheets of fleece tied together along the edges to make an extra-warm and unique blanket. All it takes is a few simple steps…

1. Go to your local fabric or craft store to buy some fleece. You’ll need two different patterns. I personally like to pick one fun print and then one plain color that is within the print but two of either works as well! You’ll want 2.5-3 yards of each fleece.
Tip: Check for coupons before you go. Fleece can sometimes get pricy but I’m usually able to find some decent markdowns if I remember to check first!

2. Match up the corners of the fleeces and lay them out on a flat surface.

3. Cut the edges of the fleece, all the way around. I usually cut 1-1.5 inches wide and 3-4 inches down to make for easy tying.
Tip: Tie a few pieces together on each side so it doesn’t come apart if you pick it up.

4. Tie each piece all the way around the blanket. I recommend double knotting so they don’t come loose.

And voila – You have yourself your very own custom blanket!

Still have questions on how it works? Let me know and I’d be happy to help!