My reviews are based on my personal experience with a product or event. I am not a professional product tester nor do I get paid for any of my blog posts.

The items that I post reviews on, have either been purchased on the internet or through a local vendor. Additionally I will review items that I got on sale, as a gift or as a sample from either the manufacurer or some other source.

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Every penny counts when trying to set a budget to get supplies to use for my reviews, tutorials and hauls. However, you do not have to use my links. You can use your favorite search engine to find the best price for your budget.

A review of how to use the Extra Small Kanzashi Pointed Petal Flower Maker from Clover

The Clover Kanzashi Extra Smal Pointed Petal Flower Maker from Clover is easy to use and makes Kanzashi flower making a fun and easy task.

Flowers on wreath are made with the Kanzashi Flower templates

At a trade show I attended, I stopped by the Clover Mfg. booth to see what was new and found out that Clover had released some new Kanzashi Pointed Petal Extra Small Flower Maker templates in January 2012.  These are significantly smaller (extra small flowers are 1 1/2")  than the ones they had previously released (regular size flower 3") and are perfect to use for making jewelry and hair pins like the one in the photo below.
1 1/2" flower made with the extra small Kanzashi Round Petal Maker
I talked to Tami Bayer, who is one of the product demonstrators (and designers) for Clover and asked her to do a quick demo which I taped for my readers.  You can see how easy it is to use the round petal Clover Kanzashi Flower Maker Round Petal X-Small.

I decided to see how easy these really are to use, so I picked up a Kanzashi Pointed Petal Extra Small Flower Maker to test out.

Step 1: 

Pick your fabric and cut a  2 3/8” x 2 3/8”   square and set it face down into the template.  Fold the template at the center to sandwich the fabric and make sure it is snapped shut.  (The back side of the fabric should be facing out.)  

Step 2: Trim excess fabric from around the template.

Step 3:  Take a needle that has been threaded with quilters thread (it is stronger and easier to work with)and tie a knot at the end.  Look at the template and locate the number one marker on the template.  You will begin your stitches from first hole that is labeled number 1.  The  template has numbers 1 through 8 marked on the template and lets you know if you are putting the stitches in the correct spots.
For the best possible results, you should stitch according to the markings on the template.

 Step 3:  Once you finish stitching petal, remove the petal from the template.  Do not remove the needle or cut the thread at this point.  
Front side

Back side of petal
Step 4:  In order to finish the petal, you need to fold the petal in half.   

Step 5:  Then you need to gently pull on the thread to gather the fabric and form the pleats.
Note:  I found that the petals needed an extra stitch to improve their stability and shape, so I added a stitch to each one.

        Step 6:  You can leave the needle and thread attach to the petal and repeat steps 1-3 to make the next petal.

Step 7:  Repeat the process 

until you have five petals attached to the needle and thread.  Then pull the thread until the petals
form a flower and stitch it closed. 
Step 8:  Add an embellishment and you are done.
Each petal template comes with a set of written instructions that make it very easy to begin making your own Kanzashi  Flowers.

1. The type of fabric you use will affect how the petals come out.  Some of the heavier fabrics require you to work on the bias to get a good petal result.  Some fabrics (like the one I used) require an extra stitch to maintain the shape.
2.  You can use pins to hold the petal in shape if you do not want to keep it attached to the needle and thread while you work on other petals.
3. It may take some practice to make the petals come out right.  As I mentioned before, each fabric will work differently with the template and you will have to make adjustments accordingly.

The Kanzashi Flowers are great to use for decorating hair clips, sweaters, pillows, art journals, 

and so much more.   If you make the flowers out of rich white satin fabric, they are great to use for wedding décor purposes.  You can also use the flowers to make some fun wall decor, like in the example below.

The pointed petals look really fun if you sew a crystal onto the tip of the flower to give it a little sparkle.     If you prefer "How To" videos, I recommend going onto YouTube and watching additional "Kanzashi Flower Making" tutorials.

A Priceless Wedding: Crafting a Meaningful, Memorable, and Affordable Celebration by Sara Cotner : Book Review

I was surprised at how much I liked "A Priceless Wedding", if you are planning a small tasteful wedding that reflects the personality of the bride and groom within a reasonable budget, then this book will help.  Recently, I helped a relative plan a small wedding and this book has proved to be very helpful. We had a small budget to work with. We also needed to take into consideration the likes and dislikes of both the bride and groom (while at the same time taking into consideration their two very different families). 
      At first all those factors seemed overwhelming, however, the book was able to provide us with some very helpful information that made the process much more enjoyable.
      The bride and groom dislike anything fancy and pretentious. So in order to get a better idea of what she likes, we had the bride start with the "Wedding Vision Collage" project recommended in the book.  She soon found herself to be overwhelmed. That clearly gave us insight to the fact that we needed to keep things simple for her. 
      We turned to the "Vision Setting Work Sheets" which proved to be helpful in guiding her efforts to figure what she really wanted in her wedding. Additionally, the questions asked in that section encourage the bride and groom to think about a variety of issues such as the example below:
     "How do you want to spend your time in the days and hours leading up to your wedding, as well as in the hours and days following your wedding?"
     Well, once they thought about it, they decided that their somewhat complicated lives and actual budget meant that they should keep things tasteful and simplified.

     We also liked the "Traditional Elements" checklist. It has elements such as dress, veil, bouquets, etc. The list keeps track of things that can sometimes be over-looked when deciding 

what to keep and what to reject. The book has a section that I found amusing that listed great reasons to reject high-ticket items. For example: Do you need the big crystal covered white puffy dress? It points out that it takes one or more people to help the bride put on that type of gown. It is also hard to dance in, expensive to buy, and you only get wear it once (unless you are really talented in garment reconstruction...then might not matter to you).

     Wedding Cake Topper can get expensive.  This couple bought a Cinderella statue at Disneyland that was the same price as a cake topper they had looked at.  The bride loves all things Disney, so this statue will join her collection and be a loving reminder of their special day.  In this case, it was a better investment to use the statue than use a traditional cake topper (that only gets to be used once).

     "A Priceless Wedding" has some great suggestions and ideas in many aspects of a DIY wedding. This includes: entertainment, table décor, flowers, venues, etc. It encourages the reader to use their creativity in planning different elements of their wedding.  In the photo below, the bride used a table runner and matching ribbon to the tables at her wedding.
To coordinate the look, she put the same runner on all the tables and the bridal table.
The ceremony was an outdoor ceremony, so the bride printed personalized labels (that coordinate with the table decor) for the water bottles that she provided each guest.
She also kept the same theme in the floral swags she made up to put on the chairs used for the wedding ceremony.

At another DIY wedding I recently attended, the bride utilized her own creativity to create photo opportunities for her guests that were affordable and fun.  She started by recycling an old frame.  She painted the old frame and then provided some simple fun props for her guests to use.  This allowed us to get some fun and silly pictures.
The bride also printed out a cute little sign to be used in various "bride & groom" type shots.  It was an inexpensive touch that created a darling photo (and she was able to put the sign in her memory book).

In the photo below, the bride used simple parosol for her and her attendants,

which was an accent that not only looked beautiful but it also afforded some sun protection for 

the bridesmaids during the ceremony.  It also looked beautiful in her wedding photo's.

Overall, it has been a very helpful book. Bottom line, if you are looking for a $45,000 wedding with all the frills, this book is not for you. However, if you are planning a small tasteful wedding that reflects the personality of the bride and groom within a reasonable budget, then this book will help you plan the various features that you may want to include in your wedding. 


500 15-minute Low Sodium Recipes No-Bake Tea Cookie Link

I have been looking for a way to lower the amount of sodium in my families diet, and found that the Book "500 15-minute Low Sodium Recipes" has some great recipes with easy to follow low sodium recipes.

The recipes in this book are easy to make which makes a difference with my busy lifestyle.  However, why not decide for yourself.   Today, Stefanie Girard has listed a no-bake "Tea Cookie" recipe from the book for readers to try for themselves at the Craftside blog.  Give it a try and see if you think it is as good as I do.


One Zentangle A Day by Beckah Krahula : Recycled Puzzle Project and Book Review

 "One Zentangle A Day: A 6-Week Course in Creative Drawing for Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun (One A Day) by Beckah Krahula (certfied Zentangle instructor) is a helpful and fun zentangle book for those seeking to be introduced to zentangle.  My daughter made the recycled puzzle piece wall decoration below using the concepts from this book.
Recycled Puzzle Zentangle Wall Decoration

    A few months ago,  I had the pleasure of attending a presentation given by Beckah Krahula at the "Craft & Hobby Association 2013" show in Anaheim, California.  She was demonstrating some of the various patterns that she teaches in her new book "One Zentangle a Day"
One Zentangle A Day by Beckah Krahula

      Beckah Krahula, CZT, is a mixed media artist, published writer, product designer, and so much

more.  She has taught students both nationally and internationally.  In 2008, She began doing Zentangle and was certified as a Zentangle teacher in 2011.

She has a relaxed style of teaching and encourages her students to think outside of the box.  In her class session at the Winter CHA 2013 show, we learned to do a few of the Zentangle patterns from her book.  Below is a quick view of her demonstrating the Keeko pattern for the students.

   Beckah Krahula also stresses that it is the process that is important.  For some, doing Zentangle can be a form of meditation because you are practicing focus and meditation through the process of drawing repetitive lines.  These marks are called a tangles and can incorporate different techniques.  Such as drawing circles, straight lines, etc.  She talks about the originators of the Zentangle art form, Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.
    One of the interesting things about her book is the way it is organized it.  It is an easy read and written so that the reader can read it in short intervals.  Each chapter is further broken down into a series of one lesson formats that covers subject matters like "tools, patterns (tonal values), and more."  If you have only a small amount of time to devote to learning a new art form, then this book is for you.  The picture below features only a small portion of the step by step pics of three of the many patterns that are taught in her new book.

Sample Patterns from "One Zentangle A Day".
My daughter wanted to try out some of the patterns, so we raided her babysitting kit and found an old plastic foam dollar store puzzle.  She decided to recycle the puzzle and give a new life as wall art by using the back side to draw the zentagle patterns.

       She painted the puzzle with a single coat of white acrylic paint to make the surface a little less porous. (Note: you may need to do more depending on the acrylic paint you use.)
      Then she took the individual puzzle pieces and using a permanent marker, she drew a different pattern on each piece.
Recycled Puzzle with Zentangle Pattern drawn on.

Once that was done, she re-assembled the puzzle.  The fun part for her is that she can change the way the final piece looks just by changing where she connects the puzzle piece.
Zentangle Recycled Puzzle Project

Since it is foam, it is very easy for her to hang on the wall by piercing it with a couple of holes and stringing some cotton twine through it.
        As you can see, the Zentangle piece is created by using repeated patterns, a process that is actually a very relaxing process. The book starts with simple patterns and builds from there.  Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to play with water color, pencils, inks, and other materials that take the process just one step further.  The book includes a short inspiration gallery that features work from other artists.  It is an excellent resource for anyone who likes to doodle. I recommend it for kids and teens, as a fun way to teach them patterns.  The meditative value of the process is very helpful for anyone who needs a different way to meditate and be creative.
    The reader really can learn a lot about the process by following the recommended the six week format.  Reading the book is like taking a workshop for a much smaller investment. Beckah covers a lot of information in this book.   If you follow all the lessons you will get more than your money's worth with this book.  I found that the process is a wonderful way to quiet my mind and just focus on the moment while creating one of these cool tiles.
    Also, if you prefer working with a kit, the publishers released a Tangle Art: A Meditative Drawing Kit by Beckah Krahula.  Tangle Art  A Meditative Drawing Kit  includes: a full-color, 40-page instructional booklet containing beautiful art samples and techniques ((with 8 blank sketchbook pages to practice your drawing), drawing pens in two sizes, and a pencil and eraser.  The new kit Tangle Art can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I am not employed or associated with Zentangle or Beckah. I just love her books. I paid for all my purchases with my own funds.  Also the links listed in this review may pay me a penny or two.  You do not need to use my links, and can do a google search to find the book or kit somewhere near you.