Cricut Machines: The Ultimate Buying Guide For Beginners

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Are you thinking about buying a Cricut machine? But, are you kind of worried about the initial investment? Let me tell you, that initial investment is worth it. But, don’t jump right in. Do your research. 

Are you considering buying a Cricut? I know the initial cost may make your chest hurt. You’re probably questioning if it’s worth the investment. Let me be the first to tell you: yes, yes, yes! The Cricut is an investment that in the end, even if you don’t use it for profit, really pays for its self.

Why My Cricut Machine Was An Awesome Investment

  • I live in the South. People in the South LOVE monograms. The Cricut machine makes it easy to almost monogram anything. So, if you want to make a little side cash, this is the perfect option. Especially if you’re a southern girl like me!
  • It’s fun. You get to design your own designs to put on whatever the heck you want to!
  • You’re going to save money on presents. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas, a birthday, graduation, whatever the occasion. With the Cricut you can make really meaningful gifts without going out and spending your paycheck.

But, before you go out making your initial purchase, make sure you have your ducks in a row. Take this advice from someone who had her ducks in a lot of different ponds. I went out and spent over $600 on my initial Cricut investment. I didn’t even read what came in the box! Don’t make my same mistakes, please. By doing your research your going to save time, money, and a lot of needless headaches.

Cricut Machines

What You SHOULD Do When Buying A Cricut Machine

  • Try and figure out exactly why you’re buying it. What kind of things are you wanting to create? This will help you make sure you have all the right tools and materials. It will help you save time.
  • Research each machine. There are different versions of the Cricut machine. See what each machine offers. Make sure that it fits your needs.
  • If you buy a bundle from a store, check the contents. Without knowing the bundle contents you may end up buying things that are already included in the bundle. You may need extra down the road. But, right now, I recommend saving that money for the material you’re going to need to create your projects.

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So, currently on the market there are many different versions of the Cricut machine. You have the Cricut Explore, Cricut Explore Air, Cricut Explore Air One, and Cricut Explore Air 2. I personally have the Cricut Explore Air 2.

Comparing The 4 Different Cricut Machine Versions

  • The Cricut Explore, Cricut Explore Air, and Cricut Explore Air 2 all have a double tool holder.
  • The Cricut Explore One has a single tool holder. Meaning it can not write, cut, or score in one step like the other versions.
  • All of the machines have a Bluetooth compatibility.
  • The Cricut Explore Air and Cricut Explore Air 2 have their Bluetooth capability built inside the machine.
  • The Cricut Explore and Cricut Explore Air One require that you have a Cricut Bluetooth Adapter in order to use the Bluetooth capability.
  • Only the Cricut Explore Air 2 has the “Fast Mode” capability. This allows you to cut and write 2xs faster than the other machines.

Now, do you know which machine you might want to buy? If so, and you’re lucky enough to catch a bundle, make sure your bundle includes the following tools and materials. This will make extra buying a lot easier. Easier on your time and your wallet.

Tools & Material Must Haves in Cricut Machine Bundles

Cricut Tools Basic Set

Cricut Tools

This is the basic set that will get you on your way to creative greatness.

The Cricut Basic Tools Set includes:

  • Tweezers
  • Weeder
  • Scissors
  • Spatula

 

Cricut also has a Cricut Essential Tools Set available. It also includes the Scoring stylus. Which is actually a tool I really do recommend. It comes in handy if you’re like me and can’t cut a straight line. 

Extra Cutting Mats

Cricut Tools

You’re going to want to have extra cutting mats. You’re going to want different strengths. As well as different sizes. I’d recommend at least having a standard 12×12 mat as well as a large mat.

Replacement Blade

Cricut Tools

Your cutting blade could go dull at anytime. Especially if you do a lot of projects. Or, in my case, attempt and fail at a lot of projects. So, in that emergency case, having a replacement blade on hand is a smart move.

Transfer Tape

Cricut Tools

Transfer tape is one of those things you MUST have on hand for most projects.

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Plenty of Material

Cricut Vinyl

Do you know what you plan on creating? If you want to make t-shirts, you’ll need a special kind of material to cut on. Make sure you get plenty as most rolls only come as a roll that is 12 x 24. Especially if you’re planning for the holidays. You’ll notice a lot of stores will run out of “holiday colors” well before the actual holiday. So, if you’re a procrastinator, like myself, you’ll want to buy holiday colors ahead of time.

Extra Writing Tools

Cricut Tools

The Cricut machines have a great feature where they can draw and write. So, having plenty of different color pens on hand is great for when you want to make a special card or invitation!

If you can’t find a Cricut bundle that comes with those things, you’re going to want to buy them! All of those are needed to make awesome projects with your machine. 

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Now you should have pretty much everything you need to start being crafty. But, before you start, please take my advice. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I’m a know it all. It’s a horrible trait. I didn’t think I’d need to watch tutorials before I began designing. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. So, in order to hopefully save you some of your sanity, I’m sharing what I should have done. Hopefully this will help you save time and money when you begin using your Cricut.

Make Sure You Do These Things BEFORE Using Your Cricut Machine
  • Hop on YouTube and look up every tutorial you can find. You can even subscribe to the Cricut YouTube Channel. It may take you a whole day. or many days, to watch the tutorials. But, these are going to save your life! Well, maybe not your life. But, definitely your time and money. You’ll soon discover that mistakes will lead to a lot of wasted material. Then you’ll soon discover that constantly replacing that material isn’t cheap.
  • Measure everything. Whatever you are planning to put a design on. Make sure you measure it!! I can’t tell you how many times I “guesstimated” a size and it ended up looking awful. That’s wasted vinyl, ya’ll. Vinyl abuse. Please just take time and measure whatever you’re personalizing!
  • At first, I’d avoid tiny and eloquent designs. I’m not saying I don’t believe in you. Because, I am sure you could kill a great tiny eloquent design. But, if you’re like me, just stick with larger designs for now. The smaller designs are very delicate. I have no pace. So, for a beginner like myself, they aren’t ideal. But, hey, if you feel like you can do it – I have faith in you!

Another great thing about the Cricut is that you can upload your own fonts. So, if you haven’t checked out dafont.com, make sure to do it! There are a BUNCH of free downloadable fonts there.

Cricut also offers a lot of great fonts. Some of them are free but most of them you have to pay for. But, if you join Cricut Access, which I really recommend, they’ll be free as well as a lot of cut files as well.

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Right now Cricut.com has a Cricut Explore Air Machine Everything Starter Bundle on sale for $259.99. This is a huge savings. Remember when I said my initial Cricut investment was $600? That didn’t even include everything this starter bundle includes.

You can check out that bundle here.

DIY Pet Stains & Odor Removal Cleaning Agents

This is a guest post thanks to Demi over at Clean Start Cleaning Services.

Ah, pets! The kids that we have not given birth to! As much as we love our furry little friends and take care of them, accidents do happen and instead of getting angry or disappointed in your pet, you should just make sure that you are prepared to act fast and deal with the issue. Below you will find help and instructions on how to make yourself DIY pet stains and odor removal cleaning detergents that are efficient and all-natural.

And it does not matter how many pets you have, whether they are cats or dogs, or both, the following recipes for home-made pet stains cleaning products should be efficient for either case.

DIY Pet Stains & Odor Removal

For the new urine smells you need to make sure to remove as much of the urine as possible, use paper towels for the purpose. Then you can put the soaked towels at your pet’s bathroom place so that it is reminded of where their bathroom is.

Then act fast and use a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to prevent the stain from setting into your carpet. Mix a ½ cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide in a bowl and add a teaspoon of a liquid dish soap. Then sprinkle the entire stain with baking soda and add the liquid. Start scrubbing gently the mixture with a cloth or a brush, but gently, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Then simply vacuum off the baking soda. If the stain is still there you can repeat this action as many times as it is necessary.

The baking soda acts as a deodorizer in this case and the hydrogen peroxide removes the stain.

Another cleaning product that you can DIY to help you in the fight against pet urine smell and stains is to use both vinegar and baking soda. You will need 2 cups of warm water and 2 cups white (distilled) vinegar, a spray bottle (not necessary) and about 4 -5 teaspoons of baking soda.

Again, the first thing to do is remove the excess urine from your carpet using paper towels. Mix the water and the vinegar in the bottle or in a bowl and add the baking soda. When it stops fizzing it is ready to use. Spray the area or apply the solution with a sponge and let it soak for about 5 minutes. When the time has passed gently scrub and blot the area.

diy pet stains and odor removal

There is another interesting way to eliminate pet odors from your home provided by Canary Wharf CleanStart. Not just the urine smell but the dog or respectively, cat smell that they have. You can use the following recipe on any upholstery in your home – carpet, sofa, pillows, mattress, etc.

In a spray bottle mix two parts water and one part mouthwash – shake the bottle well and spray your couch or carpet with it. Put newspaper on the sprayed area and let it sit for a while. The newspaper will absorb the bad smell and the mouthwash will leave it fresh-scented for a while. The mouthwash smell will wear off and the pet odor will be gone as well. You can use this even on your pet’s bed.

If you do not have carpets to deal with, but have a hard floor you can make a floor cleaner specifically to take care of the smells and stains left by your pet – mix a teaspoon of baking soda, a teaspoon of Dawn dish soap, ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and a ½ cup of white vinegar in a bowl or a spray bottle. Either spray on your floor and wipe with a rag or simply use a mop. This will clean your floors from muddy or any other stains your pet has made and also remove any unpleasant odor.

These DIY cleaning products are easy to make, save you money and work miraculously. Make sure you try them soon.

Fall Activities: My Families Fall Bucket List

We’re just a few days away from the first day of Fall. Do you and your family enjoy fun fall activities? We live in Georgia. So, we beg for fall to come every year. Because, while we love summer, it gets humid here. Humidity is far from comfortable. I think Fall temperatures are right on point. So, during the season my family loves doing fun activities together. 

The season Fall is right around the corner. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’m ready to bust out the boots, hoodies, leggings, and scarves all in one day. Plus, Fall means were right around the corner from exciting holidays, too! My family can now officially say Fall means “Back To School,” too. Because, my oldest started Kindergarten this year! What an exciting time, that’s for sure.

Fall Activities: Your Family Fall Bucket List!

fall activities

Are there any fall activities you family just has to do in the Fall? Let me know! I love finding new ways to get my family out and about. Especially during the Fall. We love watching the leaves changes, too!

10 Gerber Lil’ Bits Easy DIY Baby Food Recipes

I remember when Haley was little. She was scarfing down solid foods at 6 months old. Dray is a constant reminder that not all babies develop at the same pace. He’s 11 months old now. He still chokes on solid foods. At 11 months old Haley was indulging in waffles. Dray, not so much. I even expressed concern to his pediatrician. She ensured me that everything was fine. That he seems to be turned off by texture. Which, the same goes for his daddy, too. His daddy is texture funny, too. But, teaching him to chew was important. She told me just to keep trying. So, I did. I needed a way to introduce him to different textures. Without posing a choking hazard. That’s when we found our new found love for Gerber Lil’ Bits. Gerber 3rd Foods With Lil’ Bits is great alone, but you can make great baby food recipes with it, too. Lil’ Bits are also a great food for teething babies, too.

We began Dray on the same baby food we trusted using with Haley. So, we stocked up on Gerber baby food. I was excited to start him on the Gerber 1st Foods. Also, there was no hesitation starting him on Gerber 2nd Foods either. Then we began him on the Gerber 3rd Foods. The Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits to be exact. Once we began that journey, I was excited. Because, he tolerates the Lil’ Bits well. Even that’s an understatement. Dray loves Gerber Lil’ Bits.

The other great thing about the Gerber Lil’ Bits is that they come in in 20 different flavors. That means they’re perfect for breakfast, lunch, a snack, and even dinner. With all the different flavors, it’s easy to introduce Dray to different textures. The variety also lets me create different recipes. Which helps mix things up for Dray a little bit, too. There are so many great DIY baby food recipes online. I haven’t tried them all, yet. But, I feel like I’m close. I even created my own simple baby food recipe. It adds a little bit of fun to the Gerber Lil’ Bits Island Fruit Blend.

Gerber Lil’ Bits have so many great features. So, in reality, a fancy recipe isn’t necessary. While recipes are fun, the Lil’ Bits are great all by themselves.

Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits Best Features

  • Has perfect, bite-sized pieces of fruits or vegetables. Plus, each bite is soft.
  • These pieces are perfect in helping your baby learn how to chew.
  • Every ingredient in the Lil’ Bits must meet Gerber’s high quality standards.
  • There is no added starch, artificial colors or flavors.

Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits Flavors

  • Apple Banana
  • Apple Blue Berry
  • Banana Apple Mango
  • Banana Apple Strawberry
  • Butternut Squash & Potato
  • Island Fruit Blend
  • Mixed Carrots, Corn, and Butternut Squash
  • Orchard Fruit Medley
  • Pear Apple Berry
  • Sweet Potato Apple Carrot and Cinnamon
  • Autumn Vegetable & Turkey Dinner
  • Carrot Peas & Corn
  • Chicken Itty-Bitty Noodle Dinner
  • Garden Vegetable & Beef Dinner
  • Herbed Vegetable, Pasta & Chicken Dinner
  • Mac & Cheese Dinner
  • Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Dinner
  • Broccoli Carrot & Cheddar Cheese Dinner
  • Farmers Market Vegetable & Turkey Dinner

Dray’s favorite Gerber Lil’ Bits flavors are Island Fruit Blend & Apple Blueberry. He’s a huge fan of fruit. Always has been. Must be why I craved fruit so often when I was pregnant with him. So, of course I added my own touch to the Island Fruit Blend. Simple ingredients, but adds a touch of fun to the already fun baby food. 

gerber lil' bits

I wanted to add fun to the Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits. So, I started searching for DIY baby food recipes online. Specifically those that used the Lil’ Bits. There are so many great baby food recipes out there that are easy and creative. I even created my own little fun touch to Dray’s favorite Gerber Lil’ Bits flavor. The Island Fruit Blend. We named our blend the “Island Fruit + Brown Sugar Applesauce Blend.” It’s not too adventurous. Since Dray is turned off by different textures, we went simple.

DIY Island Fruit + Brown Sugar Applesauce Blend

gerber lil' bits

Ingredients

gerber lil' bits

gerber 3rd foods lil' bitsMix 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar with 1/3 cup applesauce in a bowl. Slowly add the Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits Island Fruit Blend into the bowl. Mix all ingredients together until you reach your desired texture.

gerber lil' bits

gerber lil' bits

 

 

 

 

 

10 Easy DIY Baby Food Recipes with Gerber 3rd Foods Lil’ Bits

Apple-Blueberry Yogurt Cubes/Pops

Head over to Bailey’s blog, Everyday With Bay, for a yummy cubes/pops baby food recipe. Perfect for a hot summer day!

Baby Led Weaning Quinoa Cakes

That Mama Gretchen shares a great recipe for quinoa cakes. The best part is you can use any Gerbers Lil’ Bit flavor to make this easy baby food recipe.

Toddler Tropical Fruit Smoothie Bowl

gerber lil' bits

Photo Credit: Our Little Everything

Dray loves fruity flavors. If your baby is the same, this baby food recipe will be a huge hit. Go visit the Our Little Everything blog and find the recipe there.

Frozen Yogurt Bites

gerber lil' bits

Photo Credit: Adventures of a Cavemom

These Frozen Yogurt Bites is a great food choice for teething babies. Jess over at Adventures of a Cavemom has the recipe here.

Pumpkin Pops

gerber lil' bits

Photo Credit: Busy Little Izzy

This Pumpkin Pops recipe that Busy Little Izzy shares with us comes just in time. Fall is finally upon us. That means pumpkin everything. That’s no exception for Busy Little Izzy’s Pumpkin Pops.

Apple Blueberry Yogurt Parfait

Metro Detroit Mommy shares a great Apple Blueberry Yogurt Parfait baby food recipe. Plus, it includes one of Dray’s favorite flavors, Apple Blueberry.

Mommy & Me Yogurt Parfaits

Gerber Lil' Bits

Photo credit: Bellissimi Bambini

You’ll love Bellissimi Bambini’s recipe for delicious Mommy & Me Yogurt Parfaits using Gerber Lil’ Bits! Plus, being able to add the optional cool mom cool whip is a huge hit!

Mommy & Me Fruit Smoothies

Kerry over at xo kerry has the right idea to adding Gerber Lil’ Bits to a recipe. You can see her awesome Mommy & Me Fruit Smoothies over at her blog.

Autumn Vegetables, Turkey, & Potatoes Dinner

Over at Thinking Outside The Sandbox you’ll find a great dinner recipe using Gerber Lil’ Bits Autumn Vegetables & Turkey.

Banana, Apple, + Strawberry Greek Yogurt Popsicle’s

gerber lil' bites

Photo Credit: The Sometimes Glam Wife

Brandi over at The Sometimes Glam Wife shares great tips on transitioning baby to solid foods. Plus, she shares a recipe for amazing Banana, Apple, + Strawberry Greek Yogurt Popsicle’s.

Ensuring Dray gets proper nutrition is important to me. That’s why I have trusted Gerber foods with him and Haley. Plus, I love that I can make fun recipes with Gerber Lil’ Bits, too. I’d love to hear some of your favorite baby food recipes, too. I’d love to see how your #GerberBabies enjoy Gerber baby food.

To learn more about Gerber Crawler Nutrition, make sure to check out their website here.

Cleaning Hacks: 5 For Tackling Pet Messes

I love cleaning hacks! Managing a household with dogs and kids is tough. So I love coming across cleaning hacks. Especially cleaning hacks that are DIY. I have to share some of these with ya’ll! They have been a lifesaver for not only myself. These cleaning hacks are a lifesaver for my whole household.
We love our pets. Many pet owners say that the comfort of their pets come above the comfort of the people who visit their home. Because, well, the pets were there first.  But, what about the in-laws who always complain about the dog hair hanging out on the couch? What about the best friend who can smell your dog five miles away?  We try our best to keep these individuals happy. After all they are a part of our lives.
Not all of us have fancy tools at our disposal when it comes to all the latest cleaning technology.  Salute to the individuals who do!   Have you invested in a $1,000 vacuum that removes ever micro-spec of hair? If not, we have a few cleaning hacks. Cleaning hacks that will help you get your home “guest ready.” While you tackle everyday life with pets.
cleaning hacks

Cleaning Hacks: 5 For Tackling Pet Messes!

1.) Pet Hair Removal – We love our pets. But falling in love with their hair is another story.  Thankfully removing pet hair doesn’t take a team of scientist to complete.  You can apply a light misting of a static removal product over your furniture and carpets. Then allow it to sit for a few minutes.  Now you can vacuum the hair away!
2.) A simple solution to getting rid of pet vomit – It happens to the best of us. Fido vomits his leftovers onto your brand new rug.  The vomit will be easier to remove once it has dried.  Allow the vomit to dry and then vacuum it up.
3.) Remove Urine Safely – Chances are you have encountered urine on your carpet from your pet.  Sprinkle baking soda over the urine spot. Let it sit for quite a while. Then you can vacuum it up.
4.) Squeegee the hair up! – Do you still have pesky pet hair in your carpet? You can take a squeegee across the carpet. Bye bye pet hair!
5.) Mask Pet Smells – You should clean all food and water bowls in hot soapy water. Plus clean all pet bedding and/or pet toys in the washing machine.  There is also a DIY cleaning hack where you can make a spray.  The spray helps control odors.
DIY Cleaning Hack Pet Deodorizer Spray
You’ll Need:
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 cups water

Directions:

  • Combine 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar
  • Wait for the foaming action to stop.
  • After the foaming action has stopped, add 2 cups water.
  • Shake well.
  • Lightly mist pet areas with the spray.

Do you have any cleaning hacks that help tackle pet messes? Let me know. I can always use a few more tips.

Label Daddy | Washable Labels! | Save 25%!

Get ready for school and save 25% on Label Daddy peel and stick custom name labels!

Label Daddy is the number one solution for labeling your belongings! No ironing or sewing, just peel and stick. Their exclusive laminated coating gives labels an extra layer of protection and is a must for school! Remember to label all clothing, books, bags, sports equipment, electronics, and other personal belongings your kids bring to school, camp, sports leagues, day care, vacation, and other places Label Daddy labels keep them from getting lost or mixed up with others. These convenient labels are great for adults too! — Put them on your sunglass/eyeglass case, phone, camera, sports equipment, tablet, e-reader, hats, clothing, and more.

label daddy

These labels are super durable peel-and-stick washable labels — they’re washer/dryer safe, microwave safe, dishwasher safe and UV resistant! Label Daddy labels are also fun and attractive. You design your own labels! Pick from tons of colors, sizes and logos, including Disney characters, MLB, NBA, and NHL team logos, other sport and fun logos, and more. These labels are made in the USA and shipped directly to you worldwide.

Label Daddy: Save 25% On Your Entire Order!

 

label daddy

Save 25% on your entire Label Daddy order – this is the best discount available anywhere. Use code USFG25 at checkout. http://www.USFG25.labeldaddy.com/