Monday, September 01, 2014

The Desire to Make and a Cricut Explore Giveaway

Innovating. Creating. Making. They all fascinate me. Whenever I'm stressed, suffering from writer's block, or feeling overwhelmed, I make something with my hands. The problem solving and frustrations of imagining something and bringing it to life are addictive. So of course I jumped at the chance to participate in Cricut's Design Space Star Contest and put a Cricut Explore through its paces (and am excited to be giving one away!).

A Space for Making

 

There's inherent joy in creating something from nothing. As the daughter of a mixed media fiber artist and third-generation civil engineer, making is in my soul, and I'm hoping in my daughter's as well. Since her birth I've returned to making, in the kitchen and elsewhere, as I want her to grow up in a creative environment with lots of tools available. I like her seeing me sketch out an idea, try something, not quite get it, and then try something else until I get it. I want to fuel her inquisitiveness, her thirst for knowledge. She watched as my convertible beach tote came to life, starting first with the design on paper and then moving to fabrics and leather.

Preparing to cut cardstock with Cricut Explore

 

Understanding Our Need to Create

Growing up I was surrounded by books and by art supplies. Whenever I had a question, I'd reach for a book or head to our local library. I would devour multiple books on a given subject, analyzing the answers I found from all sides. This habit has continued into adulthood. Over the years, I've read and collected numerous books on entrepreneurship, architecture, and engineering. All in my attempt to know why some people create and others don't, how creativity and innovation is fostered, and more. And I used to think some of us were just born with creativity. Some of us are just natural makers. Then, I read, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (*affiliate link), and my view changed.

"We are all Makers. We are born Makers (just watch a child's fascination with drawing, blocks, Lego, or crafts), and many of us retain that love in our hobbies and passions. ... If you love to cook, you're a kitchen Maker and your stove is your workbench (homemade food is best, right?). If you love to plant, you're a garden Maker. Knitting and sewing, scrapbooking, beading and cross-stitching--all Making."
 

But why do we have this desire--drive--to create, to make? That's something I've been fascinated by and trying to understand for much of my adult life. A book I picked up last Fall, for me, offers the best explanation of why we build, why we make: Rowan Moore's Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture (*affiliate link). In the following quote replace 'architecture' with 'making' and 'buildings' with 'art,' 'crafts,' 'food,' whatever you make:
 

"Architecture starts with desire on the part of its makers, whether for security, or grandeur, or shelter, or rootedness. Built, it influences the emotions of those who experience and use it, whose desires continue to shape and change it. Desire and emotion are overlapping concepts, but if 'desire' is active, directed towards real and imagined ends, and 'emotion' implies greater passivity, describing the ways in which we are moved, architecture is engaged with both. Buildings are intermediaries in the reciprocation between the hopes and intentions of people, in the present and the past. They are the mineral interval between the thoughts and actions that make and the thoughts and actions that inhibit them."
 

Simply put: making connects us to our world, to those around us.
 

"Projects shared online become inspiration for others and opportunities for collaboration. [I]deas shared turn into bigger ideas. Projects, shared, become group projects and more ambitious than any one person would attempt alone. ...
The simple act of "making in public" can become the engine of innovation, even if that was not the intent.
"
-Chris Anderson, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (*affiliate link)
 

Participating in Cricut Design Space Star Contest

I'm both excited, and very nervous, to be participating in the Cricut Design Space Star Contest with nine other creatives this Fall (from top left, clockwise):
 

Cricut Design Space Star Contest Team 12

 

Together we are Team 12 (#DesignStar12Love). Together we create. In July, we dreamed of Endless Summer, inspired by a 1966 movie about two Californians who decide to surf the world. And, Gretchen of Three Little Monkeys Studio made the Top Ten with her surfboard inspired DIY wood veneer earrings.
 

Endless Summer Cricut Design Space Star Projects by Team 12

 

Vote for Gretchen's earrings.
Today's the last day to help her win this round.
 

Each round, Cricut chooses the top ten best designs. And then you (yes you!) select the best project. For this round today's the last day to cast your vote. So, right now, head over there and choose Gretchen's earrings. Then, once you're done, come right back here and find out how you can win your very own Cricut Explore.
 

Giving Away a Cricut Explore

Cricut has given us a Cricut Explore to give away to our readers. If you've never used one before, trust me you'll still want to enter. It's pretty easy to get started creating and once you make your first project, you're going to be hooked like I am. The ease at which it cuts complicated designs on paper is amazing. (Oh how I wish this machine existed in 2010, our wedding invitations would have been a breeze to make!)
 

Win a Cricut Explore

 

Another reason you want to get a Cricut Explore now is that you can create alongside us. We're learning to use the Cricut Explore and will be sharing tips and tricks for bringing your ideas to life. You know you want to join us, making with others is much more fun than alone.
 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
What will you make with your Cricut Explore?
 

Good luck!
 

genuinely eden

P.S. Don't feel like commenting? Strike up a conversation with me elsewhere: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: For my participation in Cricut's Design Space Star competition, Provo Craft gave me a Cricut Explore. This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I own all of the products included in the post. All opinions presented are my own.

Around the Neighborhood: Finding a Sense of Place and of Community through Food

Belonging. Almost everyone wants to belong. To a community in which we feel appreciated and wanted. To a place where we put down roots. Communities and places conjure images in our minds; they are labels with general characteristics and beliefs. They have a defining edge and with that edge they have outsiders. And, lately I've been struggling with those labels.
 

The Line down Valencia Street in The Mission

 

With communities, the edges are often blurry and typically defined by and policed by the group. With places, outsiders are somewhat clearer--those who don't live in, who weren't born in, or who can't trace their ancestors back to that place. Yet, no one controls the labels we use to define ourselves; belonging is personal and not necessarily reliant upon the approval of others. Labels can get murky as "membership" changes. But is that bad? Or, are there certain labels we shouldn't use without permission? And, who gives permission?
 

"There is a tipping point: too many white customers, and it's no longer a comfortable space for your ethnic community."
-Caleb Zigas, Executive Director La Cocina
 

Not a San Franciscan

I'm not a San Franciscan. Growing up that was made very clear by real San Franciscans. (A real San Franciscan is someone who was born within the city limits.) I am a Bay Area native. I am a California native. But I'm not a San Franciscan. I don't have the birth rights to claim that label.
 

Right before and for a couple of years after I was born, my parents lived in San Francisco right off of Taraval Street near 19th. I was conceived in San Francisco, carried in San Francisco, but not born in San Francisco. And I was born outside of San Francisco, in a hospital just above 280 in Daly City, for a very good reason.
 

When I was born hospitals had very different visitor policies than they do now. My dad worked and would have had little time to visit his wife and new baby had I been born in San Francisco. Why? Because he was working on a construction site on the peninsula. A construction site conveniently located just below a hospital. So I was born in Daly City, and unlike other moms and babies my dad visited us daily during lunch while we were in the hospital. But that choice forever branded me an outsider.
 

Techies on this side of the line vs Real San Franciscans on the other

 

Earliest Memories of San Franciscan Eateries

My roots are in the Bay Area, yet almost all of my early memories are exclusively of San Francisco, of places that no longer exist. Family-run restaurants that closed when they lost their leases (Italian American business owners who lost leases when Chinese landlords bought properties in North Beach and substantially increased their rents). Places torn down in the name of progress or damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
 

Three places still remain. Places that ground me to The Mission, even though I am not Latino or Hispanic: Puerto Alegre (we ate many a meal there and ran wild through the place with the owner's children), Lucca Ravioli Co., and Dianda's Italian American Bakery.
 

Lucca Ravioli on Valencia St in San Francisco

 

Connecting through Food

All my life I've been an outsider: I wasn't born in San Francisco and with the exception of my first few years didn't live in San Francisco growing up. I made connections through food.
 

I attended junior high and high school in San Francisco, with many classmates, who like me, weren't born in San Francisco. The few that were born in San Francisco came from generations of San Franciscans, back to the founding of the city. The others, while not born in San Francisco or in California, unlike me, lived in San Francisco. My classmates hailed from Chinatown, The Mission, Park Merced, and The Sunset.
 

We couldn't afford to live in the city proper, so when I was three years old my parents bought a house on the peninsula. If you ever want a more present reminder that you're an outsider, one that everyone around you sees everyday, live on the peninsula and commute to school in the city when others either walked or took a bus to school. My family was also different from those of my classmates in that my parents weren't divorced or separated, and my mother worked at home. She always made our lunches and she always gave us home baked delights. Thanks to her, I made connections with my classmates. My connections were made by sharing my mother's home baked cookies and cakes.
 

Dining Room with Danish Modern Dining Table Danish Modern Dining Table set for a Meal

 

Food is Home for Me

Growing up the only place I felt comfortable or where I felt like I belonged was sitting down at a table to eat a meal. Home became transitory, mobile. Wherever I have traveled, through food I have made friends out of strangers and created lasting friendships. Food takes me home. Home for me is anywhere friends and family are gathered together sharing a meal and swapping stories.
 

Sunlight across center of Danish Modern Dining Table

 

Family Dinners at The Station, starting September 29th

Because food is home for me, I'm excited to announce my supper club, Family Dinners at The Station, will be opening this month, Monday September 29, four weeks from today. Seats will be limited to eight people (offered through Feastly), and we'll be dining family style around our dining room table.
 

I'll be sharing more details, including the menu as well as opening up ticket sales, shortly on Feastly. (Hint: The first dinner will be Thai inspired, my signature cuisine.) If you want to get a 48-hour jump on reserving your seat when tickets go on sale, become a member of The Road to The Good Life Cooking club today.
 

Become a cooking club member

* indicates required
Events I'm Interested in:
In the Bay Area?
Join us for an upcoming Family Dinner at The Station.
Become a member of The Road to The Good Life Cooking Club.
 

 

genuinely eden

P.S. Don't feel like commenting? Strike up a conversation with me elsewhere: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dining Out: Palio d' Asti

San Francisco is a town for foodies. And every neighborhood hides at least one gem worthy of you stepping away from your chosen neighborhood. In the financial district, Palio d' Asti is that gem you should search out for a taste of Italy and for a venue that encourages you to visit with friends and family.

Insalata Caprese with Italian Pinot Grigio at Palio d Asti

 

When it comes to Italian restaurants, as an Italian-American I'm a harsh critic. My lens is filtered through my mom's cooking. I have a certain flavor profile that I expect and that my taste buds crave. So walking into Palio d' Asti to meet Emily, the Jetsetting Fashionista, my expectations were high. Leaving the restaurant later after a filling late lunch, my expectations exceeded, I knew I would return.
 

Palio d' Asti Summer Menu

 

A Taste of Italy

Palio d' Asti is nestled in the Financial District, and brings the best of Italian cuisine to the neighborhood and to the city. (If you're not familiar with San Francisco, we have Italian restaurants throughout the city not just in North Beach. North Beach has a higher concentration of tourist traps where the rest of the city has family-run establishments focused on food and service not glitz.)
 

What's your favorite Italian dish?
 

Many associate Italian cuisine with spaghetti, noodles tossed with marinara and maybe a meatball or two; this is an artifact of the mass immigration of Italians to America between 1860 and 1917. (My maternal great grandmother immigrated from Sassoferrato which is located in the province of Ancona in the Marche region of Italy (Central Italy) and nestled to the east of the Apennines mountain ranges.) The "Italians" immigrating lacked a common language as well as a national cuisine, but they shared one common foodstuff: pasta made from soft wheat flour, water, and salt. This commonality would be forever associated with Italian in Americans minds. In actually, Italian cuisine is regional and lets the season and local proteins guide what goes onto the plate.
 

Padron Peppers Roasted and Tossed with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

 

Palio d' Asti delivers true Italian cuisine. Which region of Italy the restaurant features changes according to season: Piemonte, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany are showcased in the fall and winter, Rome and Umbria in the spring, and Sicily and Naples in the summer. Their menu utilizes locally sourced and organic produce from small family farms as well as sustainable meats, poultry and fish.
 

In California right now, tomatoes and peppers are at their peak. When the owner, Martino Grande, mentioned they had padron peppers from the garden of his chef as a seasonal appetizer, I knew I had to have them. As Martino was quick to point out padron peppers are not Italian, but they emphasize the restaurant's commitment to showcasing the bounty of local gardens. They had a nice crunch, not overcooked. The olive oil was light and the salt balanced the sweetness of the peppers nicely. Eating padron peppers is like a game of Russian roulette, every once in awhile you'll get one that packs a punch. While I was lucky enough to only find the sweet peppers, Emily's first pick set her mouth on fire.
 

Fritto Misto

 

A Taste of Sicily and Naples: Summer Menu

Emily and I had a typical Italian meal, starting with Antipasti, following with Insalata, Primi Piatti, Secondi Piatti, and finishing with dessert. As I do at any Italian restaurant I dine at we ate family style sharing all of the plates between us. Growing up Italian, I've also learned to sample each dish no matter how much you may love it as the food just keeps coming and coming.
 

For our antipasti course, Emily and I selected the Fritto Misto (fried Calamari, shrimp, and summer squashes, with fennel and lemon and Calabrese chili aioli), a dish recommended both by Martino and Martin, our waiter who has been with Palio d' Asti for over 18 years. Good comfort food, such as fried calamari, needs to be made with care and with heart. At Palio d' Asti it is. The batter was crispy and the calamari cooked to perfection. At many restaurants you get an offering that tastes of oil, a sign that the oil wasn't hot enough (and why I don't cook fried foods as it's not yet a skill I've mastered). The ratio of batter to protein and vegetable was just right, especially important with the summer squash, a delicatedly flavored vegetable whose flavor can easily get lost in a dish. The Calabrese chili aioli added a little sweetness with a touch of heat to the dish. (If you get your leftovers boxed up, they include a container of the aioli--a nice touch as many places don't do this. Gates thoroughly enjoyed her sampling of leftovers, wanting more calamari and eating all of it before cubes could get a bite.)
 

Insalata Caprese

 

We followed the Fritto Misto, with the Insalata Caprese (Heirloom tomatoes with Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil, mixed olives, and Basil oil), another dish recommended by both Martino and Martin, but one I'd wanted walking in the door as tomatoes are at their peak. The chef let the ingredients shine going light with the basil oil dressing. If you're dining with a little one, you'll want to plate the salad for them without the olives and pit the olives for them. (This is easier to do with leftovers in your own kitchen.)
 

For our pasta course, we chose the Fedelini con Granchio, spaghettini with Dungeness Crab in tomato sauce with Calabrese Chilies and Oregano. When I read the description of the dish I was expecting a flavor profile closer to that of a Cioppino, heavy on the tomato and oregano. In this preparation, the local Dungeness crab is the hero, as it should be. Overall the dish was light, a great dish for a multi-course Italian meal. If just eating alone as your main course, I'd recommend getting a hearty soup to start.
 

Fedelini con Granchio

 

One thing I've learned when dining out is to put aside preconceived notions. For me with Italian cuisine, it's the idea that Eggplant Parmigiana will be a heavy, greasy concoction with overcooked mushy eggplant that I'll have to choke down. As I'd enjoyed our first courses, I was happy to give Martino's suggestion of the Melanzane Parmigiana a try. One of their house specialties and an item that was originally on the menu when he took over in 2008 and left untouched. (The two other items with that honor are the Insalata Romana which we did not have and the Tiramisu.)
 

Melanzane Parmigiana

 

The Melanzane Parmigiana should be on every diner's table (as long as you're not allergic to eggplant and then I'd recommend skipping it). Their presentation differs from most. They emphasize ricotta over mozzarella giving the dish a much lighter feel. They prepare theirs in a wood-fired oven and the eggplant picks up wonderful smokey notes.
 

Tiramisu

 

Even though Emily and I had shared every course and packed up left overs, we were almost too full for dessert. But, we went for it any way. Their Tiramisu is one of three dishes Martino left as is when he took over in 2008. And, trust me, it's not your stereotypical Italian dessert. The Tiramisu is lady fingers soaked in espresso layered with rum zabaglione and mascarpone cheese. Unfortunately, the photo does not convey the astonishment or bliss my tastebuds were in when the first bite and the second came their way.
 

Fig Crostata

 

As figs are at the peak of their flavor in the bay area, I also ordered the Crostata del Giorno (tart of the day). The fig tart was served chilled with Vanilla Gelato and a Balsamic vinegar reduction. I was so stuffed I could only eat two bites. (My family had it the following day as dessert after our breakfast and it was still amazing. We had to encourage Gates to share as she wanted all of it.)
 

Your Happy Hour Destination and Special Events Venue

Wherever you are located in the city, you should add Palio d' Asti to your list of spots for Happy Hour (4 to 7 pm Monday through Friday) and special events. During happy hour, for every two drinks (beer, wine, spirits) you can get a full-sized pizza for $1. And, if you have a group you can reserve a table! Who's tired of having to jostle for bar space and juggle a plate of food precariously during a happy hour? I sure am.
 

Palio d' Asti should also be on your list of spots for special events. Unlike many places in the city, Palio d' Asti does not charge a room rental fee and has private dining rooms with bars in the back of the restaurant that comfortably seat 20 to 50 people, the front dining area where we ate lunch that seats 40, and the main dining room which seats 120 with food and beverage minimums starting at $500 depending on the time of year.
 

genuinely eden

P.S. Don't feel like commenting? Strike up a conversation with me elsewhere: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: Both Emily of the Jetsetting Fashionista and I received complimentary lunches. I was not paid to write this post. I feature products that I own or services or establishments that I am considering purchasing or frequenting. All opinions presented are my own.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Participating in The Cricut Design Space Star Challenge

I'm extremely happy to announce that this Fall I'm participating in Cricut's Design Space Star Contest. In every reader's survey, you have asked for more DIY, so get ready! At least one DIY a month will be coming your way from now through November.
 

Cricut Design Space Star Contest Submission from The Road to The Good Life

 

Throughout the competition, I could really use your support and encouragement. Some may remember that my first encounter with a Cricut was with a Cricut Expression Personal Electronic Cutting Machine when I was in the thick of wedding projects. Back then I tried hacking my Cricut Expression to cut intricate designs on extremely thin handmade papers; something that machine was not designed to handle. This time I ran the Cricut Explore Electronic Cutting Machine with Cricut Design Space Free Online Software (*affiliate link) and cut paper, fabric, and leather and successfully created a beach tote that converts into picnic blanket.
 

Supplies for My Endless Summer Project

 

I won't say the project was all smooth sailing, there was some operator error that ruined half of my fabric. But, I will say I'm hooked on making designs come alive with the Cricut Explore. I have so many ideas sketched out it's not even funny.
 

To make the contest more fun, Cricut divided all of the participating designers into teams of ten. Each month we agree on a theme and then start designing. It's great to be creating with nine other designers. They're inspiring me to step outside my comfort zone and dream big. Along the way we share tips and tricks, cheerlead, and more as we learn the ins and outs of our new Cricut Explore Personal Electronic Cutting Machines. Knowing that we're all in this together is incredibly motivating; especially as none of us had experience with the machine before the contest started.
 

Introducing Team 12

Let me introduce my team; we pretty much hail from all over the country and only a couple of us have actually met in person. I love that with one exception all members of Team 12 are all moms in addition to designers. I was excited when I found out I'd be working with Mari of Small for Big; we met briefly at Alt Summit in January 2013 and hung out more this past January, getting to know each other better. Mari is from Minnesota, and, like me, is also unable to eat dairy so I felt an immediate connection when we shared a meal. She's not a huge fan of children's toys in primary colors (my obsession) preferring pastels, but I love her anyways and stalk her blog for activity ideas to try with Gates.
 

Where in the US Team 12 of the Cricut Design Space Star Contest Comes From

 

I haven't yet met my other eight teammates in person, but I really hope our paths do cross in real life in the future. Thirty percent of our team is based in California, besides me, Bev of Flamingo Toes is in Carlsbad, CA (just north of San Diego) and Andrea of Legal Miss Sunshine is in Los Angeles, CA. Brooke of Little Retreats is in Maple Valley, WA. Sara of Clever Pink Pirate is in Phoenix, AZ. Another thirty percent of our team calls the Midwest home. Besides Mari in Minnesota, Gretchen of Three Little Monkeys Studio is based out of Kansas City, and Kim of The Celebration Shoppe is in Columbus, OH. Both Anneliese of Aesthetic Nest and Tami of Gifting Sweet are across the country on the other coast in the DC Metro area and North Carolina, respectively.
 

Be sure to check out the amazing projects my teammates did for our first challenge: Fashion/Gear with a theme of Endless Summer.
 

Endless Summer Cricut Design Space Star Projects by Team 12

 

From top left clockwise: Dry Brushed Earrings designed by Tami of Gifting Sweet; Motivational clipboard and coffee mug designed by Kim of The Celebration Shoppe; Surfboard Earrings designed by Gretchen of Three Little Monkeys Studio; Temporary Beach Tattoos designed by Brooke of Little Retreats: handcrafted with cool peeps in mind dreamt up; Summer Forever Tee Shirt designed by Anneliese of Aesthetic Nest; Easy Lace Filigree Chain Necklace designed by Bev of Flamingo Toes; Aluminum Geometric Necklaces designed by Mari of Small for Big; and Upcycled Volleyball T Shirt designed by Sara of Clever Pink Pirate.
 

You can see all of the projects submitted so far in the competition by all teams on the Cricut Design Space Star Pinterest board.

What big projects are you working on this Fall?
 

Joining the Fun

Have you always wanted to start designing with a Cricut? Well now's your chance! Throughout the contest, we'll be creating designs that you too can make as well as sharing tips on how to get started with a Cricut. (I've got a How to Ensure Your First Cricut Project is a Success (complete with a few mishaps) coming up next week.) If you do decide to make one of our projects, please share with us. We'd love to see what you made.
 

Cricut Supplies Purchased for My Projects

 

If you want to follow along with my designs, here's my basic setup: Cricut Explore Electronic Cutting Machine with Cricut Design Space Free Online Software (*affiliate link); Cricut Explore Deep Cut Blade and Housing (*affiliate link); Cricut Tools Craft Basic Set (*affiliate link); and Cricut Cutting Mat 12X12 Variety 3PK (*affiliate link).
 

genuinely eden

P.S. Don't feel like commenting? Strike up a conversation with me elsewhere: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, or Pinterest.

Credits: All layouts designed by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life. Photos in the Team 12 collage taken by the respective team mate as credited and linked to above.

DISCLOSURE: For my participation in Cricut's Design Space Star competition, Provo Craft gave me a Cricut Explore. This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I own all of the products included in the post. All opinions presented are my own.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Make: Tote that Converts into a Picnic Blanket

I don't know about you, but I don't want summer to end (if only we could have rain!). For us summer means campouts and hauling lots of gear. After four campouts where we juggled picnic blankets, beach totes, camp chairs, and more as we trekked back and forth from our tent to the water or to a shaded grassy area, I decided we needed a lightweight tote into which we could tuck our beach clothes that could be spread out for us to sit on it.

DIY for making convertible yoga mat carrier or beach tote

 

Cricut's August Design Space Star competition's August Challenge (Fashion or Gear) gave me the perfect excuse to stop putting off this project and just do it, especially when my team, Team 12, chose Endless Summer as our theme. Coconut trees immediately popped into my head and stayed there thanks to Gates' latest favorite book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Chicka Chicka Book, A) (*affiliate link) .
 

 

Making Your Tote

Difficulty

This project is pretty easy, both in terms of the fabric collage you cut using the Cricut Explore and the construction of the tote itself. Because the picnic blanket is almost 8' by 5', you'll need a pretty sizeable area when you're working. I hadn't considered this and only had a 2'x3' space in which to work. I was able to complete the project in this space, but it required constantly double checking to ensure I wasn't accidentally sewing on multiple layers (which I did a couple of times) or catching the straps while attaching the D-rings (which I also did a few times).
 

Supplies

For your collage, you'll need the following:

For your tote, you'll need the following:


 

 

Instructions

  1. Prewash your fabrics and prepare any lightweight fabric, by applying Thermoweb Heat'n Bond Medium Weight Iron-On Fusible Interfacing-White 20"X36" (*affiliate link) as per manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Import Endless Summer Coconut Tree SVG file into Cricut Design Space.
  3. Prepare your design for cutting. Assign all coconut tree trunks and coconuts the same color so that they'll print on the leather. (You can choose to have your coconuts a different material; simply assign them a different color and have additional material ready.) Assign the coconut tree leaves the same color (different than the one you used for the coconut tree trunks and coconuts) so that they'll print on the 12x12, if you have two color leaves, assign half to each color. Assign the sun a different color. Preview your boards to ensure that the designs fit on your fabric; this is especially important if you're using scraps that don't completely fill the 12x12 space.
  4. Cut your material. Load your lightweight leather face down on the super adhesive mat. Select mirror image (fabric is not right side up). Select Custom dial, Leather Lightweight and modify settings so that it's the greatest pressure and cuts 5 times. Hit Go. Load your lightweight fabric for the coconut leaves face down on the regular adhesive mat (interfacing should be facing you or it will get stuck on the mat). Select mirror image (fabric is not right side up). Select Custom dial, Fabric, Polyester and modify settings so that it cuts 3 times. Hit Go. Load your lightweight fabric for the setting sun. Select Fabric dial. Hit Go. Close out of your cut. Reload your cut and advance until you're back on the setting sun mat. Flip your board when you load it. Hit Go. You now have all of the pieces of your collage cut.
  5. Thread your sewing machine with one thread matching your reversible fabric for the top stitch and the other thread that matches your reversible fabric on your bobbin for the bottom stitch.
  6. Sew a square of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) to the front of one of your setting sun pieces.
  7. Pin two setting suns right sides facing each other. Sew together. Notch the hem. Flip fabric inside out.
  8. Sew three sides of your reversible fabric together (right sides facing each other) beginning with one of the long edges. Flip fabric inside out.
  9. Pin your setting sun to the middle of the open edge of your blanket. Fold the raw edges of the blanket in and pin.
  10. Sew edge shut and continue edge stitch around the entire blanket. Optionally, stitch a parallel edge stitch around the entire blanket with your thread colors reversed (or simply flip your blanket and stitch again).
  11. Pin collage onto your blanket. Sew in place.
  12. Attach webbing to your blanket. Pin straps to blanket at 1/3 of the width from the left long edge and 1/3 of the width from the right long edge. Attach a single D-ring to top edge of each strap and sew securely in place with a straight stitch across the webbing quadruple stitched (forward stitch, reverse stitch, forward stitch, reverse stitch). Secure each strap by sewing 9 inches of the webbing to the blanket. Affix two D-rings at 9 inches and secure in place as you did the first D-ring at the top edge of the strap. Place remaining 6 D-rings on the back of the blanket so that the straps remain in place when styled as a tote, one at the bottom of the tote, one halfway up the back, and the other at the top edge of the blanket for each strap.
  13. Sew a square of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) about 7 and half inches down from the center of your blanket where your sun lies. Use the piece on the back of your sun as a guide.
  14. Sew strips of Velcro Brand Soft & Flexible Sew-On Tape 5/8"X30"-White (*affiliate link) to the both the left and right top edges of your blanket. This will keep the setting sun and coconut tree collage lying flat when your blanket is styled as a tote.

 

Converting Your Tote from Blanket to Tote

Because this tote converts from a tote to a picnic blanket, it's not designed to hold heavy items. The long straps give you the flexibility to style the tote as a bag for your yoga mat or a beach duffle, but don't give you support for heavy items, like a watermelon. This tote is designed to hold lightweight items such as towels, hand wipes, and sunscreen and to reduce the number of items parents are struggling with as they attempt to keep up with excited children. If you used longer straps and attached them directly your blanket, you could carry heavier items. (Lengthening the amount of webbing doesn't substantially increase the cost of the project as 6 yards cost just under a $2.00.)
 

 

Depending on how you close your tote, you either have a bag (steps shown above) sized for carrying your yoga mat, towel, and bottle of water or a beach tote (knot the two left corners together, then knot the two right corners together, make sure the knots are tight, fold the knots towards each other, and pull sunset sky fabric over the top to cover) sized for a couple of towels, swimsuits, hand wipes, sunscreen, hats, and a couple of snacks.
 

How will you use your bag?
 

 

More Endless Summer Projects to Try with Your Cricut Explore

To really bring Endless Summer to wherever you are, no matter what the weather, you'll want to check out these projects from my Cricut Design Space Star Contest teammates, go Team 12!:

 

genuinely eden

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Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.

DISCLOSURE: For my participation in Cricut's Design Space Star competition, Provo Craft gave me a Cricut Explore. This post contains affiliate links, followed by (*affiliate link). I feature products that I own or that I am considering purchasing. I own all of the products included in the post. All opinions presented are my own.

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