The Blog of a Bluegrass Belle

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fashion & Aztec-nology with Cricut Explore and Design Space

Cricut Explore

I was giddy when FedEx dropped off my new Cricut Explore nearly 10 days ago. I am not a craft blogger but I love doing crafty projects. I have never owned a machine like Cricut, so I was excited to explore all of the features. The Cricut Explore is different than previous models, it doesn't require cartridges (but you can use cartridges if you have them). You can buy projects or create projects using their software called Design Space.

I will openly admit, I get a little jealous when I see my girlfriends and their daughters dressed in "mommy & me" matching outfits. I have a son and there are very few unisex prints or designs that you can use. I decided it would be fun to coordinate our clothing on occasion before he was too old to refuse (he is 4.5, so my time is ticking away). My current fashion obsession is aztec and ikat print items. I thought it would be fun to create slightly matching shirts for Gabe and I using a general neutral pattern.

Not a flattering photo of me, but he sure does look cute! 
Here is what you need:
  • Cricut cutting mat 
  • good quality, pre-washed cotton shirt (or a thrift shop find denim jacket would be gorgeous too!)
  • Cricut iron-on vinyl 
  • aztec print design image file
  • Cricut Explore 
  • Cricut Design Space software
  • iron
I browsed around the internet looking for aztec print inspiration. Many of the prints I found were too busy for me (and I thought they were too intricate for a first project). Luckily I am handy in photoshop so I created a design and replicated it (I had a second project in mind). 

I uploaded the design into Cricut Design Space. A program on the software will help you convert basic jpg files to vector files. 

Once you have the image uploaded, you need to clean it up. You need to make sure that you click on all the white areas which will become void space in the design. 

cricut aztec

If you look at the image below, you can see that I have most of the image cleaned. 

Once the image is completely cleaned you can resize it.

You need to place the iron-on vinyl shiny side down on your cutting mat and load it into the machine.

Make sure you click "mirror image" on the final page before you cut the image.

When the Cricut is finished cutting your design, unload the machine.

You need to weed out all the excess vinyl carefully, you don't want to ruin an entire design because you pulled too fast or too hard.

Preheat your iron and then iron the shirt. You can measure your shirt (or other material) and center your design.

Iron-on your transfer according to manufacturers directions, and then peel off the clear backing.

I made a smaller one and added it to Gabe's shirt sleeve.

cricut and aztec

If you notice the leather bracelet in the above photo on the right, I made that using the same pattern and my Cricut Explore. I just cut the design into a leather bracelet that I picked up from a local craft store, and then slightly stained the leather to accentuate the cuts. The possibilities are endless with the Cricut Explore.

It was a relatively quick and fun way to create a stylish pair of shirts for Gabe and I. I spent less than $20 in materials for both shirts and my bracelet.

If you are considering purchasing a Cricut Explore I highly recommend it. I have so many projects dreamed up that Cricut could help make a reality. Here is a sneak preview of my next project. 

You can search for more projects like this using the hashtag #DesignSpaceStar. 

Interested in ordering a Cricut? You can use the code FREESHIP35 to get free shipping off any Cricut order over $35.

Check out other great posts from my Team 10 teammates in the Cricut Design Space Star challenge.

What are you creating today? 


Friday, August 15, 2014

Have you tried Fruit Shoot or joined in the #StuntHunt fun?

This post is sponsored by Fruit Shoot.

We live in a rural area. The nearest neighborhood playground is a considerable drive, so we like to find activities to keep us busy on the farm. My son is also an only child, I have to participate in most of his activities. Gabe is 4.5, so it can be a challenge to find something that both of us enjoy. We love anything that involves tossing, throwing, or rolling a ball. Gabe and I were excited to hear about the Fruit Shoot #StuntHunt.  

Have you heard about Fruit Shoot? It is a tasty, new kid's fruit drink. Fruit Shoot has no high fructose corn syrup and has no sugar added varieties. It comes in four delicious flavors: strawberry raspberry, berry blast, apple, and orange; the strawberry raspberry is so popular around here that all of the local stores were sold out of that flavor. I have to agree with the general consensus, it is my favorite flavor too. The juice bottles have a no spill top, so it is great for most children. Fruit Shoot is a great way to keep kids (adults too) hydrated without lots of sugary additives.

If you purchase a 6-pack of Fruit Shoot or 6 individual bottles you can send in for a free Waboba ball. 

We combined one of our favorite fruit drinks with one of our favorite activities, and entered it in the Fruit Shoot #StuntHunt video challenge.

Here is how the challenge works:
  • Pick up a few of your favorite Fruit Shoot drinks and any ol' ball will do. 
  • Make up a game or a stunt using the Fruit Shoot drinks and your ball. 
  • Video it and upload to Fruit Shoot (both can be done with a smartphone, no fancy equipment necessary). The video must be shot in landscape mode and not portrait (don't hold your camera phone upright). The video can't be more than 30 seconds long.
  • Fun isn't optional! It is also a great form of exercise.
  • Have your friends and family vote for your video on the Fruit Shoot Stunt Hunt page.
  • One video per week will be selected and will receive special Hollywood style special effects. 
  • You get a coupon for a free bottle of Fruit Shoot instantly for registering.
You can watch this video from Shoot Fruit for more information about the #StuntHunt.

Here is our #fruitshoot #StuntHunt video:

Even our rottweiler Chief had to get in on the #fruitshoot #StuntHunt action.

What is your child's favorite drink and playtime activity?

Thanks to Fruit Shoot for sponsoring today's post, but all opinions contained herein are entirely truthful and my own. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#BlazeNewTrails after an injury with Mizuno Wave Kazan

This post is a sponsored post through Fitfluential for Mizuno Running. 

Mizuno trail shoeLast fall, I was heartbroken to learn that I had a serious injury that would prevent me for running for a while. It would keep me from running the Marine Corp Marathon and the Bourbon Chase; I had planned to run both races for nearly a year. I suffered a stress fracture in my left foot 18 months prior that lingered on for months, all because I had failed to heed the advice of my Doctor. This new injury involved my left hip and I decided that I was going to strictly abide by my doctor's instructions. This time around I was a little over protective. I didn't run or exercise all winter, and when I did start back I struggled because I was more than a few pounds heavier. I had two goals: to loose the weight I gained and to get back to my previous exercise endurance levels. 

What is the most important piece of gear for a new or experienced runner? The proper shoe can help prevent injury and accidents, and enhance run times. I knew from previous experience that an ill-fitting or wrong running shoe can irritate an injury. I live in a rural part of Kentucky, and the majority of my runs are done on trails ranging from paved, gravel, dirt, and grass. The Mizuno Wave Kazan has been one of the best trail running shoes that I have tried. The soles and treads are suitable for any surface, and they transition seamlessly from trail to trail. 

Mizuno Running

The Kazan is incredibly light; the women's shoe weighs 8oz and the men's version 9.5oz. It is incredibly versatile and I am unafraid to #BlazeNewTrails when wearing it. One of my biggest fears while trail running is falling or stumbling due to uneven terrain; the traction on the Kazan helps to ease that worry. The shoes have a 12mm ramp. 

The very unique thing I found about the Wave Kazan is that its treads do not make them heavy or cumbersome; the shoe is flexible even with the heavily treaded bottom. Many other trail running shoes feel "clunky" but these are very comfortable. If you examine my photo of the sole of the Wave Kazan you can see that the forefoot and heel can move independently. 

Since I had a stress fracture in my foot previously, I value shoes that provide proper support. The Wave Kazan has a nice overall feel. The Wave Technology acts as a stabilizer promoting a smoother foot strike. I haven't noticed any foot soreness or tenderness since I started wearing the Wave Kazan. 

Mizuno running

I found that the Kazan runs true to size. The color pattern on my pair is fun, and the yellow stripe helps keep me visible in the woods. The laces have good grip so I am not constantly retying my shoe. 

Here is a great video about the making of the Wave Kazan from two time Olympian Michael Aish.

You can learn more on the Mizuno website:

How did you transition back to running following an injury? What do you look for in a good running shoe? Happy trails, and let me know if you decide to #BlazeNewTrails with the Mizuno Wave series trail shoe. 

I received product and compensation for this review, however all views and opinions expressed in this                                 post are entirely my own. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Peach Cobbler Recipe: Sunday Supper

Most cooks have a "go to" recipe for dessert; mine is a cobbler recipe I got from my great aunt. You can modify this to whatever fruit suits your fancy. We generally use what we have on the farm, or what is in season at the market. 

Someone had given Jeremy's grandmother a dozen or so peaches, and she sent them over to have a cobbler made. I made this in between canning salsa.

You can use this recipe on canned peaches but you will need to drain the juice off.

Peach Cobbler

6 to 8 ripe peaches
3/4 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk (but regular milk can be substituted in a pinch. 
1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Prepare your peaches. I have found it is easiest to scald the peaches in a pot of boiling water and then place them in a sink of cold water to peel. The skin will neatly peel off without wasting too much of the peach. They only need to be in the boiling water a minute or two. 

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Place the butter in a 9x12 baking dish and allow butter to melt while you are preparing the rest of the ingredients. 

Mix flour, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

When the butter has completely melted, slowly roll it around in the bottom of the pan to coat the bottom. Pour contents of the mixing bowl into the baking dish and spread. 

Scatter diced peaches across the top of the batter. Don't fret about them being covered, the batter will rise and cover most of the peaches.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

My favorite way to serve it is with vanilla bean ice cream. 

Hope you enjoy the recipe.


Friday, August 8, 2014

Angel Soft® #SheetHappens Giveaway: Enter to win a one year supply of toilet paper

This post is sponsored by Angel Soft®

#sheetoutofluckWhile at BlogHer 2014 in San Jose, I visited the Angel Soft® booth to share my most embarrassing #SheetHappens moments. We were redefining the phrase "potty mouth," I filmed my conversation sitting on a toilet. 

Here is one of the stories I shared: 

Have you ever been completely #SheetOutOfLuck? I have… About 2 hours from home, in the car.

My son was recovering from a nasty stomach bug. Jeremy was driving and we were trying our best to amuse 4.5 year old Gabe.

I will be frank, Jeremy can be crude at times. I'm not sure why someone with a Ph.D finds fart jokes so amusing.

Jeremy asked Gabe to pull his finger, which he did several times, but there was no noise to let Gabe know it was a successful pull. 

Gabe, in a very scolding tone, said, "Jeremy you didn't fart."

Jeremy replies, "You just didn't hear it."

"Was it invisible?" Gabe asked. 

Without blinking, Jeremy replied, "I sure hope so."

I erupted into laughter, but it turned out to be short lived. 

Gabe asked Jeremy to pull his finger in return.

I knew that was a bad idea, but before I could get out the word "no!", #SheetHappened. 

Gabe burst into tears, and I was trying to comfort him while scolding Jeremy. It turns out Gabe wasn't quite over his bug, and as Jeremy likes to say, it was an electric fart--it had juice.

We were in the middle of nowhere with no toilet paper and no underwear.  Well, none that we hadn't already been wearing.

We were completely #SheetOutOfLuck.

The closest gas station restroom had one stall, one ply toilet paper, and no trash can (ew!!!). 

We headed back to the car with slightly soiled underwear feeling a little less than dignified, vowing to never leave home without toilet paper again. And we have started to abide by Jeremy's uncle Wally's longstanding advice: never trust a fart.

It wasn't my "shining moment" as a mother. 


BlogHer and Angel Soft

While I was participating in my #SheetHappens interview Patrick Quinn from Life of Dad snuck around and snapped this photo. I am anxious to see the video that we recorded, and thankful that my son is only 4.5 years old (I'm pretty sure I would face some form of retaliation if he was just a bit older). 

The booth was a great way to get BlogHer attendees talking about those embarrassing moments when you are #SheetOutOfLuck. I had no problem talking #sheet that day! My son loved his "tiny little toilet" and every loved the free toilet paper coupons, we are all stocked up to move into our new home. 

clever housewifeangel soft
My BlogHer roommates Shannon from The Mommy-Files and Emily from Clever Housewife  filming at the Angel Soft booth in the left photo and my prized "tiny toilet" on the right.

You will have to wait to see my #SheetHappens video but here is another great one from Angel Soft®

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you won a year supply of toilet paper you wouldn't be #SheetOutOfLuck. Share your favorite #SheetHappens moments and enter through Rafflecopter to win a year supply of Angel Soft® toilet paper. 

Disclaimer: I received product and monetary compensation for this post however all opinions 
contained herein are my own. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Miracle Marathon to support Children's Miracle Network Hospitals: Thoughtful Thursday

What if every mile you ran could help create a miracle? Registering for The Children's Miracle
Network Miracle Marathon could do just that. It isn't your typical marathon; the run is spread across 27 days and you are asked to complete a mile a day for 26 days whenever and where ever you like, and the final 1.2 miles is completed as a group. Instead of running 26.2 miles, you will run 27.2. Proceeds from the run are donated to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. I am running on behalf of the Wellmont Health System in Tennessee.

Wellmont Health System, a part of the Children's Miracle Network hospitals has created the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Next Generation campaign to raise funds for much needed renovations. The entire project is expected to cost $2.5 million. Miracle Marathon runners like myself who are participating on behalf of Wellmont will be raising money for the Next Generation campaign.

According to Vickie Hungate, Assistant Director of Development for Wellmont,

"All monies raised from this event will support Children’s Miracle Network at Wellmont Health System and this year will help renovate and expand the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

The NICU operates at near-capacity and cares for premature infants born as young as 24 weeks, weighing as little as 15 ounces.  Close to 2,000 babies are born each year to our hospitals and more than 250 of these newborns need to be admitted to the NICU.  Of those, 60-80% are admitted for the treatment of complications of prematurity; some premature newborns need to stay in the NICU for several weeks and even months, as their bodies were born too little and too immature to sustain life on their own.

This 'NICU Next Generation' initiative will allow us to prepare for the next generation of miracle babies."

I am asking my family, friends, and readers each to sponsor me for a day of the run. I am hoping to find 27 donors, but I would love to find more.

Can you spare at least $10 to donate? You can donate here.

I will post a photo on social media each day of the marathon showing when and where I plan to run with the hashtag #JessRunsMM, and I will acknowledge who sponsored me for that day.

If you decide to sponsor a day please leave a blog comment and let me know if there is a specific day you would like to sponsor; I will try to accommodate all requests.

You can also register for the Miracle Marathon here and choose a Children's Miracle Network Hospital to support.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boots & Shorts: Country Outfitter

This post is sponsored by Country Outfitter through Acorn Influence

Boots are typically a part of every woman's wardrobe. Despite humid southern weather, they are a year round staple in my wardrobe. I will pair them with dresses, skirts, pants, leggings and even shorts. They are stylish, and often functional since I live on a farm. My closet is full of riding boots, rain boots, cowboy boots, and even the not so functional bootie.

Shoes are like jewelry; they can make or break an outfit. They can spice up even the most casual attire.

 A good boot has the ability to accentuate your legs, and make your look taller and leaner. I always stand a little taller when I am wearing one of my favorite pairs of boots. 

I have a "no holds barred" approach to boots. I will wear them out on a date, a night with my girls, while working on the farm, and even to church on Sunday. Boots are fun and versatile. 

When I was a young girl my mother had a pair of black suede boots with fringes, I would cringe when she wore them. I was such a silly little girl; my Mom loved those boots, and she was comfortable in them. Who was I to judge her sense of style? I now attribute my love of boots to her.

I'm a tall girl, so it is easier for me to pull off a tall boot. This Ariat Legend boot purchased from Country Outfitter ends mid-calf. You need to match your boot shaft height to your leg length and calf width. I always read the product description for measurements because photographs can be deceiving. A boot that is too tall or too short can actually make your legs appear shorter.

And don't forget toe shape! The toe of your boot is equally important. Toe shapes include pointed, square, and round. Pointed toe boots can elongate your legs. 

If you wear boots with shorts, you should select a boot and heel height that is flattering to the length of your shorts. The top of your boots shouldn't be too close to the hem of your shorts (unless you are a stylish toddler wearing your favorite pair of John Deere boots). 

These are just tips; you should choose whatever boot you feel comfortable in and will fit your sense of style.

Are boots in your wardrobe? Do you consider them seasonal wear or do you rock your boots year round?

Disclaimer: I received product and monetary compensation for this post however all opinions 
contained herein are my own.