Monday, December 30, 2013

Best of Housewife Eclectic in 2013

Looking back over 2013, I can't believe that it has come and gone already. So much has changed for me and Housewife Eclectic in 2013, and I can't wait to carry those changes into 2014. I have plans for some fantastic projects and some amazing recipes for the new year, a few that will debut later this week. I can't thank Housewife Eclectic's 2013 sponsors enough. I worked with some amazing people and companies this year! Here as decided by the pages with the post views are the top projects and posts from 2013. 
Tutorial dress from shirt
1. How to Make a Little Girl's Dress from an Adult T-shirt. I LOVE this project. This is the perfect summer dress. My daughter still loves and wears it frequently. 
Ideas for a Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party
2. Jake and the Neverland Pirates Birthday Party. Look forward to more party posts in 2014. I have an Angry Bird Party and a Doctor Who party to share soon. 
Smothered Baked Potato, Loaded Baked Potato Soup
 3. Smothered Baked Potato Soup. Oooo... I love this soup. I might need to make this tonight.
London Broil Recipes
4. World's Best London Broil. Or maybe I will make this tonight. This is one of our all time favorite recipes in this house. 
Pantry Redo, Getting Organized
 5. My Pantry Makeover. This was one of my most practical projects for the year. I love how easy it makes our life.
Organizing Toys, How to Organize Toys
 6. Toy Organization in a Closet. This is one of the projects I was most grateful for this year. It has kept her room SO much cleaner this year.
How to Build a Photo stand for backdrops
7. Photography Backdrop Stand Tutorial. I love my backdrop stand. I have used it for years and suspect I will for years to come. 
Photography Basics
 8. Learn Photography Basics. This post is a great resource for learning those photography basics!
How to make a tray with a photo
9. Distressed Photo Tray. I love this picture and this tray. I use it for my jewelry in my room. 
How to make Anna's cloak from Frozen
10. FROZEN Anna Cloak. I was so surprised this post made it into the top 10 because it was only published a couple weeks ago. I have to say this is hands down my favorite project from 2013. Can I make one for myself? 

2013 was an amazing year and I can't wait for 2014. My resolution recaps and New Year Resolutions for the new year as well as two AWESOME shirt tutorials are up this week! 
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Best Books in 2013

This year I am joining The Perpetual Page Turner in an end of year book survey. If you want see all 110 books I read this year, I would love for you to friend me on Goodreads.
1.Best Book You Read In 2013 by genre?
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?
  •  Allegiant. I don't even know what to say about this book. It was from the series I recommended the most, to one I hardly mention now. 
3. Most Surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
  • The Fault in Our Stars. I really thought I was going to hate this book. I bought it before I knew it was about cancer and only read it because I owned it. I really loved it. 
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
5. Best Series You Discovered in 2013?
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
  • Robin LaFevers, she has a series about assassin nuns, ummm... awesome! 
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
  • Better- I honestly don't read a lot of nonfiction but this book about our medical system was absolutely fascinating. 
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?
  •  Shatter Me. Fantastic dystopian. I can't wait for the third. 
9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
  • Lola from Lola and the Boy Next Door. My husband literally had to talk me out of dying my hair pink or purple after I read this book. 
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?
  •  I really loved Fire
13. Book that  had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
  • Anna and the French Kiss. I refused to read romances until I read this one and it made me discover a whole genre of books that I previously turned my nose up at. 
14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?
  • Ender's Shadow. I read Ender's Game years ago, but just barely read Bean's story this year. 
15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?
  • “Just because something isn't practical doesn't mean it's not worth creating. Sometimes beauty and real-life magic are enough.” 
    ― Stephanie PerkinsLola and the Boy Next Door
  • “I know you hate me. But don't let that make you stupid.” 
    ― Rae CarsonThe Girl of Fire and Thorns

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2013?
  • Longest: I have honestly no idea....
  • Shortest – Probably one of the I Am Number Four Novellas.
17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?
  • I finished Allegiant only a few hours after it was out and I had NO one to talk about the emotional trauma of the book with. 
18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013.
  • Maddie and Julie from Code Name Verity. I loved that this book was about an amazing friendship between two friends. No romance needed. 
19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously.
  • I finished the Graceling series this year and I loved it. Graceling is still one of my all time favorites. 
20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else.
21. Genre you read the most from in 2013.
  • YA Fantasy
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013.
23. Best 2013 debut you read.
  • The Ward. I really loved the characters in this book. 
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013.
25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013.
27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out.
  • The Bitter Kingdom- I am pretty sure everyone in the world should have been as excited for this book as I was. ;)

28. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)
  • You want me to pick a favorite?! I loved meeting Robin LaFevers and Stephanie Perkins but I think the highlight was meeting my favorite childhood author Gail Carson Levine. 
29. Most popular bookish blog post of the year.
  • You can find my book posts here
30. Book you’re most anticipating for 2014.
  •  City of Heavenly Fire, Isla and the Happily Ever After, Ignite Me, Ashes. I have been waiting for Ashes forever. I am SO excited! 
31. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014.
  • Mara Dyer
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Can you believe that Christmas is only 5 days away? I think my shopping is officially done, but I have a huge mountain of wrapping to do. Since Christmas is so close, I thought I would share some of my favorite gifts that you can pull together in less than 30 minutes. 
 Perfect for the reader in your life, this Book Page Bracelet can be pulled together fast!
 Still need small gifts for your children's friends? This Snowman Candy Cane is the perfect way to dress up an ordinary piece of candy.
 A pair of old shoes and a can of spray paint can have some awesome results like these Spray Painted Cowboy Boots.
 A small stuffed animal and some hand sewing later, you have an fantastic gift for the photographer in your life. This Camera Lens Pal is helpful in getting any kid to smile for the camera.
 Have kids that love to decorate Gingerbread, but you hate that mess? Pull some old crafting supplies and foam gingerbread men together for this Gingerbread Man Decorating Kit.
 This Mirrored Ornament is perfect for Grandma or anyone who loves pictures of your kids.
 Perfect for the jewelry lover, this Mug Tree Bracelet Holder just needs a simple coat of spray paint.
 Another one that is perfect for grandmas, this Shrinky Dinks Necklace comes together in minutes and is fun to make too!
This Thumbprint Ornament, is a an easy keepsake of your child at this age.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Tutorial: FROZEN Anna Cloak

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
How to make Anna's cloak from frozen, Anna Cape, Frozen Costumes
We are completely FROZEN obsessed in this house. About a generation ago, my family came to America from Norway, my mom's brother and cousins still live in Norway, and so when we heard that Disney's FROZEN has Norwegian influences we were thrilled. Being Norwegian has always been a big part of my identity, an identity my mom always took care to share with me, but I was unsure of how to share it with my daughter. 
Frozen Toys, Anna from Frozen Costume
I spent my childhood growing to love Norway through listening to my grandmother tell stories of her home in her thick Scandinavian accent. I wanted my daughter to love her heritage as much as I do, and she has found her love through the movie FROZEN. FROZEN is the darling tale of two sister princesses, one of which, Elsa, has the power to freeze things. When Elsa loses control of her power and plunges the country in perpetual winter, Anna must find and help her sister before it is too late. 
Frozen Costume, Anna Frozen Costume
We absolutely loved watching the movie together. Throughout I would point out what things were closely tied to our heritage and she enjoyed the beautiful story. With her 5th birthday coming up, I knew I wanted to buy her FROZEN toys to celebrate. I found a fantastic selection at Walmart. I ended up buying her the Anna Doll, the Elsa Doll and the FROZEN Castle Play Set. I wanted her to be able to experience the movie over and over again.  We also stopped by the in Walmart Subway for their Fresh Fit Kids Meal which features a FROZEN bag and Olaf keychain. I love stopping at Subway for lunch, I feel better about feeding my daughter while out and about if I know it is real food, like a sandwich and apples, plus,  I actually clipped the keychain to my purse because the little Olaf is just so darn cute and he keeps my daughter busy in the car. 
Frozen Toys
The look on my daughter's face when she opened the Play Set was one of pure joy. 
Homemade Frozen Toys
 I absolutely love both the characters of Elsa and Anna, I think both learn and grow a lot during the film and she was thrilled to get both dolls to play with.
Anna and Elsa Dolls
 The best part of her entire birthday was discovering that the Play Set came with its own Olaf. Olaf is the cute little snowman who is the comic relief for the entire movie. I think he is definitely one of my daughter's favorite parts.
Olaf From Frozen,
As my daughter played with her new Anna doll, she started talking about how one day she wanted a cloak that looked just like Anna's. I looked closely at her new doll and realized her dream of a Anna cloak was a real possibility. The cloak was moderately easy to pull together and cost less than $10 when all was said and done. She has worn the cloak every day since it was finished, and her Anna doll goes almost as many places. She loves that they match, the perfect gift. 
Doll and Girl Matching Frozen Costume
 I have broken up the cloak into four groups, the vest/long part of the cloak, the circular cape, the collar and the trimmings. Going in order will make it slightly easier. There are not exact measurements for the material, as it will depend on the child you are making it for.

For this cloak you will need:
Pink Fleece, for a 5-year-old like my daughter you will need just over a yard. I bought a yard and a half and had extra.
Black Pom-Pom Trim, I bought 1.66 yards and just barely had enough
Black Lace
A scrap of black fleece
Clasp, for the front of the cloak

Frozen, Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff

 Vest: 

The long part of Anna's cape is really just a calf length vest. I used an existing vest of my daughter's as a pattern for the top. The vest is the same shape as the pattern vest, just cut longer.
1. Fold the vest you are using a guide in half, and lay it on the fold of your fabric folded in half.
2.Trace the vest half onto the fabric.  I measured my daughter from the top of the shoulder to the calf and then used that measurement as length guide.
3. Cut a full size vest piece, and then using that as a pattern cut another.
4. Cut the second piece directly in half.  This will give you three pieces, one large back piece and two from side pieces.
5. Place the side pieces on either side of the larger back piece, right sides together.
6. Sew the long sides together and then sew the shoulders.
7. Turn the long front edges and of the vest under about a 1/2 an inch and hem, don't hem the bottom of the vest right now, that will come later.
Anna Frozen Costume Pattern

Circular Cape:

 For the circular cape, you are going to want to start off with a full circle cape and then trim as necessary. To do this, you will need a circle to base your cape off of, in this case we used a oatmeal container.
1. Draw the circle from the base of the oatmeal container onto the fabric and then using a ruler, mark the amount of inches from your models neck to their elbow. In our case it is 11 inches, 10 inches plus one inch seam allowance, out from the circle in all directions.
2. When you have marks all around your inner circle, connect them to form a full circle and cut out.
3. Slice the circle at one point and cut out the middle circle.
4. Pin one side of the circular cape to the vest, and try it on your model.
5. Drape the cape around the model. The cape should be just shy of a full circle to hang right, so view it on your model and mark where the vest needs to hit at the edge of the vest underneath.
6. Trim off the excess fabric.
7. Turn the front edges of the cape under about a 1/2 an inch and hem, it isn't necessary to hem the bottom edge of the cape as you will be adding trim.
Frozen Costume Tutorial

Collar:

 1. The collar is two long rectangles of fleece that are as long as your neckline is. One rectangle is pink, and one is black.
2. Curve the corners of the rectangles, so that it looks like an upside down, long toboggan.
3. Sew the rectangles, right sides together, on one side and the rounded corners.
4. Clip the rounded corners and then flip right side out.
5. Line up the vest, the circular cape and the collar at front where the clasp will go and pin.
6. Sew onto the neckline of the circular cape with the pink fleece facing the pink fleece with a 3/8ths or smaller seam allowance.
7. Tack down the seam allowance on the inside of the cape to help the collar stand up.

Trimmings: 

1. Sew the black lace up the front of the vest, turn the raw edges of the lace under on the bottom of the vest and hem with the raw edges of the lace tucked away.
2. Sew the pom-pom trim to the bottom of edge of the circular cape, we used 1.66 yard of black pom-pom trim for width of the circular cape, you will need more or less depending on where you trim the cloak.
3. Add the fastener in front.
Frozen, Snow, Disney's Frozen
My little girl absolutely loves her new FROZEN toys and best of all that she matches her Anna doll. I absolutely love that FROZEN has given me a chance to share some of her heritage with her. 
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tutorial: Thumbprint Ornament


Every year, I like to involve my daughter as much in the gift making process as possible. It gives us something to do together and gifts always seem to mean a little more when she is involved in making them. This year we decided to take the Thumbprint Necklace from Rae Gun Ramblings and turn it into a simple ornament. These ornaments were easy to pull together and look even better in person.

You will need:
Clay
Parchment Paper
Plastic knife
disposable straw
Ribbon
Metal Stamps
Non-food rolling pin

 Start by taking a small section of clay and warming it up it your hands. Work with the clay until you can roll it into a ball.
 Roll the ball out until you have a flat disc shape. Yes, I am rolling with an old bubble wand. I don't have a dedicated clay rolling pin yet and once you use something on clay, it can never be used on food again, so I went with the bubble wand.
 Press the thumbprints into the clay at a slight angle to each other, so they form a heart. If you have more than one child, you can use a thumbprint from each one. Since we have only one, both thumbprints are hers. After I pressing her thumbs into the clay, I used a plastic knife to draw the outline of a heart around the prints to give them more shape.
 Using your metal stamps (you can find a similar set here,), stamp your message into the clay. Try to press hard enough for the letter to make an impression, but not so hard that the circle of the stamp itself leaves an impression.
 I went with a simple name and year, but Merry Christmas or other holiday saying would work great too.
 Using the straw, make a hole in the clay big enough for a ribbon to be threaded through. Bake your clay on parchment paper according to package directions. It is always best to bake your clay in a dedicated toaster oven.
 After the clay is baked, allow it to cool completely and then thread ribbon through the hole and you have a darling ornament that means something too.
What kinds of presents do you make for Christmas?
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