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Cricut Digital Mystery Box - July 2017

July 19, 2017

This month Cricut is offering a digital mystery box. The files will be available instantly. It includes four Christmas themed digital cartridges.

Dreaming Tree
Rob and Bob
Natalie Malan
Alexis Mattox

ONLY AVAILABLE TO USE IN DESIGN SPACE WITH EXPLORE FAMILY MACHINES. Sales are final. Only available for purchase in the U.S.
$79.96 $29.99

July Digital Mystery Box for only $29.99 launches July 18th at 12AM EST! Available while supplies last. 

Cardstock, Paper, and Vellum starting at $4.99! 

Up to $70 off bags! Save on the Rolling Craft Tote and Machine Tote Bundle for stylish organization at home or on the go. 

Free Shipping all US orders with code CHRISTMASINJULY at checkout. (Valid 7/5 - 8/1) 

Introducing Cricut BrightPad: Create intricate artwork and craft projects with this extremely versatile lightbox.

This post contains affiliate links. 

What tools and accessories do I need for a Cricut?

July 11, 2017

What tools and accessories do I need to use a Cricut and how much do they cost?


To get started, everything you need is included in the box. The machine you purchase determines what comes in the box. You may find over time, there are more tools and accessories you would be interested in.


For the Cricut Explore Air 2:

  •     Cricut Explore Air 2 machine
  •     Cricut Design Space software and app
  •     German carbide premium blade
  •     USB cord and power cord
  •     Accessory adapter
  •     100+ free images
  •     50+ free projects
  •     Getting Started guide
  •     Pen and card-stock sample
  •     Cricut 12″ x 12″ StandardGrip cutting mat

What is not included that you might be interested in right away:

  •     Scoring tool $8.99
  •     Additional mats (not needed right away)  $12.99 - $17.99

For the Cricut Explore Air:

  •     Cricut Explore Air machine
  •     Storage bag
  •     USB and power cords
  •     German carbide premium blade
  •     1 Standard Grip cutting mats (12" x 12")
  •     Accessory adapter
  •     Metallic silver pen
  •     Getting started guide
  •     Iron-on, cardstock and vinyl samples

What is not included that you might be interested in right away:

  •     Scoring tool $8.99
  •     Additional mats (not needed right away)  $12.99 - $17.99


•There are other machines available. The above two are the most up to date.



There are many other tools available to purchase. Doing so individually isn’t the best bargain. If you think you will use more than one additional tool, I recommend purchasing a tool set.


For example, the tools I use the most are:

  • Scoring tool $8.99
  • Cricut Tools Scissors  $8.99
  • Cricut Tools Weeder  $7.99
  • Cricut Tools Scraper and Spatula $9.99


That is a total of $35.96. Of course, you can use your own scissor but I do like the size and cover of the Cricut scissor, besides it all matches!


If you are interested in purchasing a set of tools, you have two options. The Cricut Tools Basic Set, and the Cricut Essential Tool Set. The difference between the two in the Essential set contains a paper trimmer and the scraper seems to be a bit smaller.


The pricing of the two different sets:

Cricut Tools Basic Set   $24.99

  •     Tweezers
  •     Weeder
  •     Micro-tip scissors with protective blade cover
  •     Spatula
  •     Scraper

    * Basic set does not include the scoring tool


Cricut Essential Tool Set   $49.99

  •     Tweezers
  •     Weeder
  •     Scissors with protective blade cover
  •     Spatula
  •     Scraper
  •     Scoring stylus
  •     High-quality trimmer for materials up to 12" wide
  •     Replacement blade for the trimmer


If you were to add the Stylus Tool to the Basic Set, your total would be $33.98. So you can see the Basic Tool Set plus Stylus is less expensive than buying the tools individually. The Basic Set plus Stylus Tool includes all the tools I would purchase and a few more for less money.


Other accessories you might consider are:

  • Deep Cutting Blade $29.99
  • A variety of different color marking pens
        These come in different sized packs as well as individually.
  • Additional mats (individually priced)  $12.99 - $17.99
        Mats also come bundled in different variety pack

Finally, Cricut recently released a set of cases. There are three traveling cases for your machine and tools, and a pouch specifically for your tools. The cases range in price from $99.99 - $199.99. The accessories pouch comes in three different colors and is priced at  $12.99.

The prices provided in this article are the retail value set by Cricut and found on their website. You may find these items for less or on sale.

This post contains affiliate links






QSquared Melamine Dishware FREE

July 10, 2017

Q Squared sells shatter proof dishware. The patterns are gorgeous. If you would like to see a few patterns before you buy, this is a great deal for you. Mix and find your match! For a limited time, you can order four bread & butter plates for free—just use code FREEQBB at checkout. Add each pattern to your shopping cart. These butter dishes regularly sell for $5 each. Enter the code and your total is ZERO. You will pay shipping and handling, for me it was less than $10. [Q Squared


Cricut Deals on Amazon Prime Day

July 10, 2017

Cricut is participating in Amazon Prime Day!
The Cricut Air 2 machine will be at the lowest price ever of $199.99.
The Cricut Air will be only $159.99.

Starts for Prime members at 9:45am

This post contains affiliate links

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Cricut Deals for July

July 6, 2017

How is the Cricut different from competitive cutting machines?

June 13, 2017


Here are some great reviews for personal cutting machines. The information seems a little dated, so keep reading.




What are the big names in the personal cutting machine wars? (in alphabetical order)



KNK Zing



While Cricut and Silhouette have been in the personal cutting business for awhile, Brother is new to it with the Scan and Cut Machine. Prior to this research, I had never heard of the KNK Zing, probably due to the machine being double in price of the others. 


Price break down:

The price differences aren’t going to make the decision easier for you. They are all typically similar except for the Zing machine. If you found a great sale, that might make a difference. You could also look for a used machine or a refurbished machine to save costs.

Cricut Explore Air 2



Brother Scan and Cut


(basic machine, need to purchase activation card, USB cord, card or flash drive)

KNK Zing

$ 449.00 - 960.00

(need to purchase software)

Silhouette Cameo 3





Cutting mat size (width):

No real differences here except once again for the Zing. The standard mat size for the Zing is 12” but it can cut larger.


Cricut Explore Air 2  

12” wide

Brother Scan and Cut


KNK Zing 

12” - 15”

Silhouette Cameo 3 




Uses files named:

There seems to be a lot of differences in the file types accepted. Most machines have a function to translate files. If you don’t already have a stash of saved files, this difference isn’t going to make a decision easier either. 


Cricut Explore Air 2  


Brother Scan and Cut 


KNK Zing  


Silhouette Cameo 3 



* Most of these machines can handle different file types by converting them into a file they can read. 



The software could make a difference. Depending upon the machine you want to use to access that software, whether or not you have WIFI access to run the online program, or if you want to be able to work as a standalone without internet access or even use a computer. No matter what machine you buy, there will come a time you want to edit a file, additional software and skills will be needed. As well as the computer to make those changes. 

Cricut Explore Air 2  

computer, tablet, or smart phone (also utilizes cartridges)

Brother Scan and Cut

built in images and fonts, need to purchase activation card for CM350 machine

KNK Zing  

need to purchase Sure Cuts A  Lot - windows and mac

Silhouette Cameo 3 

Mac and PC - mobile software is in beta form



Unique qualities

KNK zing - has a variety of different blades: material, thick, fabric, uses Sure Cuts A Lot software that you need to purchase separately (additional cost)


Brother - This machine has a built-in screen. It can scan a drawing and create a cut file from it. 


Cricut and Silhouette are the most similar in comparison. You will find brand loyalist in each camp. Typically, a user begins with a certain kind of machine and stays with that brand as they upgrade. Early on, Silhouette had the upper hand in flexibility and use of files. Cricut has had so many improvements in the past few years, I believe they are overtaking the market. Circuit Design Space software is already released for tablets and smartphones. Silhouette is still in beta. 


If you are going to read comparisons make sure you are looking at reviews and comparisons for the newest machines; Silhouette Cameo 3 and Cricut Explore Air 2.


Want to see head to head battles? I recommend:


In the end, it comes down to whether or not you have past experience with one brand over the other. If you have used an older machine and are looking to upgrade or get back into personal cutting, that will be the biggest driving force. It is easier to work with a brand that you already have familiarity with. Given the two reviews above, if you are a first time user, the Cricut Explore Air 2 is the easier machine to learn. 


Finally, you will need to learn. No matter what machine you choose there will be a learning curve. Work through the tutorials, Experiment with different materials. Learn, watch YouTube videos, join a few Facebook groups dedicated to the machine you choose. And for heaven’s sake, don’t let that machine sit in the box or go unused!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Cricut. The opinions and text are all my own.
Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.



Sparkling Arnold Palmer with Giant Eagle Summer Grilling

June 6, 2017

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

Giant Eagle is a great one stop shop for all your weekly grocery needs. This week I purchased products for a Summer Backyard BBQ. It was our first time firing up the grill this summer season, the grilling smells were fantastic. The items I purchased for our backyard BBQ were Izze Fusions in lemon flavor, Pure Leaf tea, Klondike Ice Cream bars, Pepperidge Farms Farmhouse  Cookies, and Certified Angus Beef Gourmet Burgers – Bacon Cheddar Patty flavor, Gourmet Burgers, and Giant Eagle Hash Browns. This would make for a fantastic Father's Day dinner as well.
from my shopping trip
I went shopping with purchasing Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie in mind. Unfortunately, they are not available in our area of the country. I can't wait to try them. From the image above, you can see we do have a good variety to choose from. I opted for a favorite with Milano.

Here is what I bought

Our menu plan was for burgers, hash browns, salad, Arnold Palmer's to drink, and Klondike bars for dessert. A really simple meal that tastes so good. I didn't have to heat up the kitchen so this would make for a great meal on a hot evening.

on the grill
Our dinner on the grill. Notice the Gourmet Cheddar and Bacon Burger in the front?


Sparkling Arnold Palmer
We enjoy Lemonade and Ice Tea year round. Mixing them together in an Arnold Palmer seems like more of a summer time treat. This summer we are making a Sparkling version using a Sparkling Lemonade from Izze Fusion. It really is so simple and you can customize yours with your desired amount of each lemonade and ice tea. The minute I mixed together this glass for the photo, my daughters asked if they could drink it! It was hard holding them off long enough to take the picture!

  • Ice Tea (Pure Leaf Tea - regular)
  • Lemonade (Izze Fusions lemon flavor) this adds the sparkle!

Mix together in your desired amounts, serve over ice. 

Using store bought products makes this even easier. 



 finished hash browns
finished Hash Browns, they could have gone longer on the grill

Grilled Hash Browns Recipe
Have you ever grilled hash browns? I like hash browns but I want that crispy crunch that restaurants seem to get so well. I figured out a way to do so on the grill. This is an often requested recipe when we are grilling out with friends. It is a great side for so many main dishes. I don't measure ingredients for the recipe so you will need to improvise to your own tastes.


  • Frozen Hash Browns from Giant Eagle
  • Butter
  • Non-stick spray
  • Spice mix

hash browns
prepped Hash Browns

I begin by microwaving the hash browns for about 5-10 minutes from frozen. If you are going to use the entire bag, you can just open the bag and microwave the hash browns right in the bag.  Layer two pieces of aluminum foil in a cross shape, spray with non-stick spray, place the microwaved hash browns on the foil. Top with slices of butter (a lot of butter) the butter makes the crunch and spice mix to taste. Fold up the foil. Use another layer of foil in the reverse so that the fold is covered with a smooth layer of foil. You don't want anything to escape. Place this packet on the grill first and leave it alone. Cook the rest of your meal. You can flip it once if you desire. The Hash Browns take a lot longer to cook than a hamburger. I start the grill and add the Hash Browns, then I prep the hamburgers in the kitchen and then add them to the grill. The Hash Browns take probably twice as long as the hamburgers to cook to crispy. 

finished Gourmet Burger - It's dinner time!

Klondike Bar for Dessert!

For more great recipes from Giant Eagle visit their Pinterest page.


Social Media Links for Giant Eagle:


Cricut June 2017 Mystery Box

May 30, 2017

Starting tonight (5/30) at 10PM ESTCricut's June Digital Mystery Box launches! This box will be available for only $29.99, (a $126 value) June Mystery Box ($126 value) for $29.99! (valid May 30th 10PM ET - June 6th) 

Also, starting on May 31st, Cricut will be having a huge Iron-on sale! You will be able to save 30% off all colors/styles. Iron-on Sale: 30% off all colors/styles (valid May 31st - June 6th)

Both offers end June 6th. Free US economy shipping and $14.99 Canada flat-rate shipping with code: SPRINGSHIP ($50 minimum)

~ This post contains affiliate links.

Decor for Race Fans - Dollar Tree

May 13, 2017

I was compensated for this post.
This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.


Here in Indiana, the month of May is known for racing with the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month. Speeds on the interstate seem to increase throughout the month. If you drive anywhere near the west side of Indianapolis you can hear the sound of cars racing. I used to teach at a college near the track and we would often hear cars practicing while trying to teach a class. But no matter how much you love or hate racing, Indy decorates the month of May with race-themed colors - black and white or course for the winning checkered flag. 

You don't have to spend a fortune for the festive holiday weekend. You can find a lot of what you need at the Dollar Tree. Here are a few great items for you to pick up or order online. 


These checkered kitchen towels are just what you need for a nod to the race in your kitchen. 


This wooden model race car would make a great addition to any centerpiece or floral arrangement.


Of course, you can find all kinds of black and white paper products.
But it you want to take your decor up a notch, you might be interested in these black and white paisley paper products.

You can order all your needs online at Dollar Tree. You can also place an order for pick-up at your local store. So now you never have to worry about if there is what you need in stock!

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Mixbook Home Decor

May 9, 2017

I have always wondered about metal prints. They seem to enhance the quality of the photograph and would ake a great display image. I was recently contacted and offered to try out Mixbook services and I ordered a small metal print. 



It is very modern in style, comes ready to hang or display with a hinge built into the back of the piece. I started with a small print because I wanted to test out the service. They were professional and provided a quick turn around. The first print I received had a yellow cast to it and they sent another print out right away. From communications, this happens from time to time with their small prints. 

The metal prints come in flat or curved style. The surface is easily cleaned because it has a waterproof protective finish. The color doesn't fade and the surface resists scratches.

Mixbook offers a variety of different products. Photo prints, photo books, cards, calendars, and home decor are available. 

Weekly Deal - Up to 50% Off Everything + Free U.S. Standard Shipping on $75+   

This post contains an affiliate link.


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