Quick and Cute Crafts with One-Stop Shopping

21 Apr

Have you ever been in a crafting mood, but you just don’t feel like running to five different stores to find all the supplies? Well, I have three, count it, THREE different crafts that will make your life easier (and cuter) that you can find all of the supplies at your local hardware store, whether it be Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, or your local entrepreneur. (Support of the small business owners is highly recommended!) AND they’re pretty easy on the budget.

Mail Sorting

I have two roommates, and we all obviously receive mail, but we never know who’s checked it. I found a quick and easy craft from the blog, Just a Little Creativity, where she painted a three-slot mail sorter. She found her mail sorter at a thrift shop, but I’m sure you could also find it at a hardware shop. Pick a color you like and give it a coat of paint or two. If you have a steady hand, you can paint your names, or in her case, ‘his,’ ‘hers,’ and ‘theirs.’ If you don’t have a steady hand, they carry stick-on letters in the mailbox section, or use your own. SO CUTE! Check out her picture below!

MailSorter

Bracelet Holder

Cuff bracelets have been a trend for what seems like the longest time. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it is such a pain to find a place for them. Who would have thought that a toilet paper or paper towel stand could be so useful!

Decide which stand has the design that’s right for you, and give it a coat of paint. I think spray paint would probably work best for this project since they tend to be metal or plastic.

Note: If you use spray paint, make sure you do two things: 1) Spray in a well ventilated area so you don’t subject yourself to the fumes as much. 2) Put down newspaper or some sort of drop cloth unless you want the outline on your driveway or sidewalk.

Make sure you let the stand FULLY dry before you bring it in your house. You also may want to let it sit out over night so your house doesn’t smell like spray paint. (Yuck!)

Bracelets_ToiletPaper

Hot Tools Holder

I always feel like such a slob whenever I leave for work in the morning, especially when I use hot tools on my hair, such as a flat or curling iron and a hair dryer. PVC pipe in the plumbing section is PERFECT to hold your hot tools so they’re easy access and somewhat out of the way.

All you need to do it pick up a piece of PVC pipe in the shape of a ‘Y,’ and spray paint it the color you want. It’s as simple as that. Set it on your counter, set it under the sink, or put it wherever you want. Quick, simple, inexpensive, and practical.

Note: As mentioned before, if you use spray paint, make sure you do two things: 1) Spray in a well ventilated area so you don’t subject yourself to the fumes as much. 2) Put down newspaper or some sort of drop cloth unless you want the outline on your driveway or sidewalk.

Plumbing

As always, let me know if you have any suggestions, new crafts, or challenges. I would love to hear what you all are working on! Thank you for reading!

Sock Buns – Curl while you sleep

21 Apr

Sock buns have been all the rave lately. The smooth, round bun looks classy and chic, and once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to duplicate (or so I’m told). Unfortunately, my hair isn’t nearly long enough to pull off the ‘do’ without cementing my hair to my head. As much fun as that sounds, I don’t think the result would be worth the effort. So, instead, I use my socks for another purpose: soft curls while you sleep.

My hair is cut in a long bob just past my shoulders. It has a wavy texture that’s enough to drive you insane in humidity but is great to hold curl. But who really has the time to manually curl your hair every day?

I love the idea of doing your hair at night so you wake up with big, luscious curls. However, the reality of my efforts has never been a success. This brings me back to the sock bun. I attended the YouToo Social Media Conference, and it started at 8 a.m. Rain was on the forecast, and I knew the humidity would make my straightened hair go flat and my wavy hair frizz. I definitely didn’t want to take an hour on my hair in the morning, so I looked to the Internet (Pinterest) for ideas.

I stumbled upon rag rolling and sock bun curling. I didn’t have time for rag rolling, so I decided to give sock bun curling a try.

If you have longer hair, you can go ahead and pull your ponytail to the top of your head. Remember, the curls are supposed to be loose and flowy, so leave as much space as you want straight at the top of your head. Also, the bigger the sock, the bigger the curls. You can adjust according to your liking. If you have shorter hair, I divided my hair in half. I had a ponytail on top of my head and at the top of my neck.

Take a sock with your desired thickness and length. (I used a thin, ankle-cut sock.) Cut off the toe, and roll it so it looks like a donut. (If you have shorter hair, do the same to another sock.)

Put the ponytail in the middle of the sock, and pull it nearly to the end. Grab the part of your hair that’s sticking out and wrap it around the sock. Roll the sock toward your head until it covers the ponytail holder. Secure the bun with bobby pins.

Note: It may take you a few tries, so be patient. Also remember it doesn’t need to be perfect. If you’re using the bun for curling purposes, no one is going to see it besides you.

Coat your hair with whatever hair spray you fancy, and then sleep on it! I’ve heard satin or silk pillowcases work best so you don’t get frizzies, but a cotton pillowcase worked perfectly fine for me!

Good Morning!

When you wake up, unpin, unroll and untie your hair. You should have bouncy and bountiful curls! I used my 1¼ inch curling iron to touch up a couple funky spots, but my hair literally took 10 minutes in the morning as opposed to the 45 minutes to an hour it would take me to curl my hair. Coat your hair with a little hair spray, toss with your fingers to combine the curls, and you’re ready to go!

I’ll try the rag curls soon, so look out for that. If you have any tips or if you give it a try, let me know!

Note: You can start with your hair wet or dry; it depends on what look you want. My hair was mostly dry when I went to bed, and I loved the way it turned out. It kept a nice, loose curl. I’ve heard if you go to bed with your hair wet, your curl will be much tighter. I’ll keep updating as I try out different ways!

Manage Your Own Publicity – Best and Worst Times to Update Social Media

14 Apr

Believe it or not, there is a proper time to post on social media so you can get the most views from your target audience. Whether you’re at the stage of your life that you are branding yourself for employment or promoting your own blog, posting at the right time of the day and week can help you reach more people.

Best and Worst infographic

Best Time

The best time to publish on a social media sites can vary from network to network, but it’s ideal to post around noon or early evening. Around noon, you’re likely to catch professionals on their lunch breaks. Early evening is also an effective time to publish because you’re likely to catch professionals at the end of their workdays.

Worst Time

The worst time to post on social media I think is pretty obvious. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., professionals are sleeping, so it’s unlikely they will view your post. This time is referred to as the “dead zone,” according to KISSmetrics, a group of marking professionals who conducted an in-depth analysis of best and worst times to post on social media.

Best Days

The best days to publish on social media are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Monday isn’t a good day for professionals to see posts because it’s the first day of the workweek. They’re busy getting back to the hustle and bustle of the busy workweek, so monitoring social media isn’t exactly at the top of their to do lists. Friday is also a busy day that posts can go unnoticed either because they’re wrapping up their last projects for the week or because they take off early for the weekend.

Monitor Your Results and EVALUATE

Of course, these times are not set in stone to be 100 percent effective, so you should monitor and evaluate your results, but how do you do that? There are great tools to help you not only distribute posts throughout the day, but it monitors your results. Buffer analyzes all of your posts to every social network to which you link the app. HootSuite helps you schedule messages and tweets and also analyzes your social media traffic. WordPress also helps you monitor your blog foot traffic. When you log in to the home page, there’s a tab at the top called ‘Stats’ that shows you which posts received the most number of views and what days received the most traffic.

Good luck with your media monitoring! Let me know how it goes!

*Infographic courtesy of Social Caffeine

Pinterest Rolls Out a New Look

29 Mar

As you may know, Pinterest is where I find my inspiration for many of my projects. Last time I logged in, I was made aware of an update that was available. I was hesitant to update, but I decided I would give it a try. Pinterest users will soon all be invited to join the virtual bulletin board renovation.

The ultimate goal is to make browsing on Pinterest simpler and cleaner looking. They want to make discovery easier.

So what’s changing?

A drop-down menu with various categories has been added to the top left corner to give the appearance of a Smartphone app. Moving the categories menu from the center of the site condensed to the left de-clutters the top and cleans up the appearance.

A common complaint from Pinterest users has been that they lose their spot when they try to go back to the main page. The frustration of losing your place is no longer as the back button now returns you to the spot you left off.

Users will also notice larger pins that are easier to see. Along with Pinterest’s new close-up view, users will see other pins on the same board the pin came from. The change is intended to draw more attention from pinners. By showing other pins from the same board, the pinner is networked to potentially discover hundreds or thousands of more pins.

Application Update

Pinterest mobile app users should also be on the lookout for an update. I received a notification to update about a week ago. App users will be able to edit their profiles after they update. It also seems the number of categories has expanded just like the website.

To me, the changes seem minor, but some reviews were not as supportive, especially with the mobile app. Customers posted reviews, such as the app exiting suddenly and the inability to return to the top of the feed without scrolling all the way up.

Maintaining a Positive Image

Instead of Pinterest having a poor image, they can combat the negative feedback. I recently discovered the Help Center. Users can troubleshoot problems, sometimes immediately. The Help Center has answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the page. You can also email a question if you can’t find your answer, but I haven’t been able to find the email address.

I would recommend Pinterest finds a way to be more interactive to its users. Even though Pinterest is a social media site, it’s different than the typical communication site, such as Facebook or Twitter. It doesn’t have a strong way to communicate, such as private or direct messages. Email seems to be on its way out of everyday use except for business purposes. If site designers created a line of communication, such as direct messaging, I think pinners would be able to troubleshoot their problems instead of leaving negative feedback for all to see.

So, what do you all think? Are you Pinterest fanatics? Is it user friendly, or is it just a frustrating part of your day? I’d love to hear what you all think! Thank you for reading!

(Thank you to mashable.com for the use of the photo.)

Two-Minute Mug Chocolate Chip Cookie

8 Mar

mug-chocI love my fair share of sweets and chocolate, but I have to say my absolute favorite is a chocolate chip cookie. I hate making a whole batch of cookies because of two reasons:

1)    Who has the time to make that many?

2)    I do NOT need to eat four-dozen cookies on my own.

Whenever I saw mug cookies, online, I was skeptical, until I saw a post from Tasty Kitchen. While a mug cookie isn’t going to turn out exactly like a regular cookie because it’s cooked in the microwave, it comes pretty close.

This recipe takes all of two minutes to prepare and less than two minutes to cook. Less time and less food – it can’t get much better than that!

Here’s what you have to do to get to your chocolatey heaven in less than five minutes.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Butter (melted and cooled slightly)

1 Tablespoon White Sugar

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

3 Drops Vanilla

1 Dash salt

1 Whole Egg Yolk (NO egg white!)

¼ cup (Scant) Flour

2 Tablespoons Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a mug in the microwave.
  2. Add brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt. Stir with a fork.
  3. Separate your egg and add ONLY the yolk. Stir quickly.
  4. Add flour, and stir again.
  5. Add chocolate chips and give a final stir.
  6. Cook in the microwave for 45-60 seconds, just until the center is no longer wet.

Tricks to the Trade

The best tip I can give you is to not melt your butter completely. I put my butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it was mostly melted. If you do happen to melt your butter all the way, make sure you give it a few minutes to cool. I’ll explain why in a minute.

The salt is absolutely crucial! Salt can make or break a cookie. Just a little pinch will do

When separating your egg, you can either do so by carefully shifting the yolk from shell to shell after cracking. Make sure to do this over the sink and not your mug. You can also buy a handy dandy egg separator. I didn’t know these existed until my aunt used one while making Christmas cookies this year. It’s a great little gadget and not very expensive.

When you add your egg yolk, STIR QUICKLY! Believe it or not, if your batter is too warm, parts of your egg can cook in your batter (Why you want to let your butter cool).

I am obsessed with turning recipes into whole grain. I used Hodgson Mill White Whole Wheat Flour. Using whole-wheat flour, you may need to use less, which brings me to the meaning of ‘scant’ in a recipe. “Scant: barely amounting to as much as indicated.” If you choose to use whole-wheat flour, be very careful about how much you use. Whole-wheat flour has a tendency to pull moisture from batter.

I hope you enjoy your chocolatey goodness!

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen

Firefly Party Lights

1 Mar

Firefly Christmas Lights firefly2

You’re planning a party, and of course you want some decorations. Do you go with streamers? Balloons? Confetti? If you’re like me, you want a classy look that’s pretty, inexpensive, and simple. For less than $5, you can make your gathering light up, no matter what the occasion.

I of course found the idea on Pinterest, and it was linked to a blog called Hayseed Homemakin’. If you get a chance, take a look at her blog, too. She has some great ideas! Now, let’s get down to business.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 string of lights

2 yards of tulle

Lace (optional)

Scissors

Cut seven to eight inch squares out of your fabric, meaning seven to eight inches across and up. I never would have thought to use squares, but they give the fabric on the lights a much fuller look. You can also cut strips of fabric if you prefer, but I like the fuller look because you can’t see the green cord as well, and it kind of looks like little fireflies peeking through the fabric.

Once you have a square for each green space, start bunching and tying. I kind of bunched the fabric in the middle then tied a square knot (right over left, left over right.) Depending on how much lace you want to use if you want to use it, you can tie it on in place of the tulle. I tied two pieces of tulle then a piece of lace. Keep tying until you have the whole strand covered.

Voila! You have a strand of your very own firefly Christmas lights. Now, all you have to do is find a place to run the lights. If you have a food or drinks table, I would push the table against a wall and run the lights along the back edge to create a little bit of ambiance. You could also hang them on curtain rods, place them on a mantle, or maybe even hang them on a dimly lit chandelier (you’d have to test that out to see how it looks.)

The great thing about these lights is tulle comes in an abundance of colors. If you want a “winter wonderland,” you could use white tulle and white lace. Valentine’s day, you can use pink and/or red tulle. A baby shower could use light pink or blue. For New Year’s Eve next year, I thought I might play around with either gold and black tulle or cream and black. The possibilities are endless!

To keep this project as inexpensive as possible, I shopped the after Christmas sales. I’m sure you could also find a string of lights in a dollar store or on Amazon for pretty cheap as well. Tulle is probably the most inexpensive fabric out there. I found mine at Joann Fabrics. In the store, mine was $2 per yard. It doesn’t get much better than that! Let me know how your firefly Christmas lights turn out!

DIY Curtain Headboard

9 Feb

Curtain Headboard

If you ever been or currently are a college student, you understand what I mean when I say I don’t stay in one place too long. I’ve slowly acquired furniture when I can get it cheap (or free). In the meantime, I get by with what I have, which means not purchasing a headboard. Since it’s not a necessity, I’ve never bought one, but I feel like my room looks so plain without one.

One day while taking my usual Pinterest study break, I stumbled across a blog. The author suggested using a sheer curtain and a curtain rod behind a bed to create the illusion of a bed to create the illusion of a headboard (genius!) It takes up that bare, empty-looking wall space. Not only is it pretty, especially with the ambiance with a string of lights, it’s not bit and bulky like a wood headboard. When I’m in between living arrangements, I won’t have to find a place to store a big hunk of wood. However, the best part about it, it costs less than ten dollars It’s easy on the wallet, easy on the eyes, and incredibly  easy to recreate.

What you’ll need:

–       Sheer curtain – $5

–       Curtain rod – $2

–       String of lights (optional)

–       Hammer

–       Measuring tape

–       Pencil

Getting Started

To get started, I adjusted the curtain rod to just beyond the width of my bed. For my full-sized bed, I stretched the rod to 55 inches. With the tape measure, I measured one inch from the ceiling and 55 inches across then marked each spot with a pencil. Hammer the rod anchors in the wall on the marked spots. My anchors had two different spots for nails. I lined the top nail into the markings.

After securing the anchors, if you choose to hang a string of lights, now would be the best time to do so. A couple of thumbtacks or small nails would do the trick. If you don’t want to put more holes in the wall, I’m sure Command strips would work just as well.

Next, arrange the curtain on the rod. I got a sheer curtain from Big Lots for five dollars. I also think it would be pretty to use an opaque curtain that compliments your comforter.

For a more bunched, fuller look, I would use two curtains. Now, fix the rod to the anchors. You may need to adjust how the curtain is arranged on the rod after you hang it.

Other Options

If a curtain as a headboard doesn’t interest you, there are other cute and creative options that use minimal space, minimal effort, and minimal cost:

  1. Picture frame: Find an inexpensive frame with as much detail that interests you. Put your favorite fabric in the frame or even a collage of your favorite photos. The blog I Heart Organizing shows framed fabric that would look nice above a bed!
  2. Fabric or scrapbook paper on canvas: Using canvas or foam poster boards, mod podge your favorite fabric or scrapbook paper. Better Homes and Gardens shows an idea to take some of your favorite fabric and spread it over some canvas. Arranged correctly, even a bunch of small canvas would look great over a bed.

Good luck creating your headboard!

 

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