Today my husband and I celebrated Mother’s Day by hosting brunch for our moms and siblings. It’s the third year we’ve been doing a joint family celebration, and although it can be a lot of work, what’s more fun (and yummy) than brunch?
Like most events I plan, the meal was inspired by Pinterest. And because I was still cooking when guests arrived, I didn’t get many pictures, so I decided I’ll just share the inspiration pins directly with you. Plus, it means my menu is ready to go next year.
First (and most importantly), we had mimosas. For my recipe, I use expensive OJ and cheap spumante sparkling wine, so it’s sweet. This year, we also had raspberry lemonade mimosas, too!
A star of my brunch is the Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Quiche. This is the best quiche ever! And don’t you agree the photo is a work of art? It tastes as good as it looks, y’all. I generally don’t like quiches, but this one has goat cheese (which I love) and roasted tomatoes. Plus, it’s not super eggy. You can make it with a store-bought crust, or make an easy crust, like I did–people are always impressed when you make your own crust.
This year, I tried something new and made these pastries with puff sheets. The pinwheels looked so fun, so I decided to make these with raspberries. Then for a second version with blueberries and strawberries, I used the second pin. Instead of doing round pastries, I cut them into hearts with a rotary pastry cutter (a cookie cutter works, too). People love hearts. Basically, these recipes were so similar, I averaged the amounts of the ingredients and doubled the recipe. They have a fresh lemon flavor, and the sanding sugar makes them look like legit store-bought pastries. My mom saw them when she came in and didn’t wait for the other guests to arrive before digging in.
Heart-shaped Bacon. I told you, people love hearts. Hubby thought it was silly to make these, but I told him they were remarkable. And several people “remarked” about how cute they were! We also served breakfast sausage.
We served waffles, from the Krusteaz mix. We made them ahead and reheated, but they were kind floppy, so next year, we’ll make them on demand or closer to serving time. Or put my older niece to work making them, like I did last year.
We made hash browns (from the frozen bag), but I didn’t get to make them in the waffle maker because by that point the hubby was in charge of the kitchen, and he thought it would be too slow. But his hash browns were slow! I once made cinnamon rolls in the waffle maker, and they were crazy fast, so I’m sure it would have worked great.
I always have more ideas than I can handle, so here are the projects I DIDN’T get to (and now, they’re handy for next year):
Flower-filled paper-mache letter centerpieces.
Hand-held Ham and Cheese Pies. I made the crust for them and everything, but just didn’t have time to make them. It’s interesting that the crust has mustard to add more flavor. When I get a chance to make them, I’ll let you know how they turned out.
I figured my nieces would get a kick out of these pop tarts (I was going to use Nutella), but alas, the dough is still in the fridge. Aren’t they pretty though?
Lemon Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake. I’m going to have to find an occasion to make this. Mmmm.
Overnight Bananas Foster French Toast. I made this last year and it was a hit.
And just to give you options… these cherry cheese blintzes are fantastic, but take a lot of time. I’m pretty sure I made them with ricotta, not cottage cheese, last year.
I hope these pins are just as inspiring for you. Happy brunching!
To my sister, Christine,
If you’re reading this, it means you got my package! Yay!
I know the folded tissue paper things look nothing like the poofs I promised so you can make these “rain clouds” for the baby shower you’re hosting this weekend. Let’s just say it’s a lot easier to mail folded tissue paper than tissue paper poofs, so this how-to is for you!
(Christine, you can skip to Step 6, everyone else can follow in order)
How to Make Tissue Paper Poofs
(or Tissue Paper Pom Poms, same thing)
I even used a tissue paper as the top for a present last weekend.
How else can you decorate with a tissue paper pom pom?
My mother-in-law is celebrating a milestone birthday soon, and to celebrate, my husband and his brother are throwing her a party at a rose garden so she can play bridge with her friends. She has great sons, huh? (and great daughters-in-law, too).
I took on the project of designing and printing the invitations, and I just had to make custom liners. I always say that the invitations set the stage for the party, and liners bring any invitation up a notch and can help showcase the theme. So we made custom liners for 100 envelopes! Somehow I convinced my husband to help, too.
Because really, it’s not that hard.
How to Make Envelope Liners
1) Choose your envelopes and decide on the liner paper.
It doesn’t matter what kind of envelope you’ll use—pointed flap, flat flap, big or small—because you’ll make a custom liner template that fits exactly.
For the liner paper, you can use any lightweight paper or cardstock. Scrapbook paper and wrapping paper work great for this.
I wanted liners that worked with the bridge-party-in-a-rose-garden theme, so I chose designs that were black, white or red, and I wanted flowers to allude to the garden. For the tutorial, I chose red paper with white polka dots.
2) Next create the liner template
Use a piece of cardstock for your template. Place the bottom of the envelope on the bottom edge of the cardstock and trace around the envelope with a pencil. (I’ve outlined the pencil line with a marker, so you can see it.)
This isn’t the end however. If you used this outline, you wouldn’t be able to fit the liner inside the envelope or seal it shut. We need to make the template smaller.
Make the template smaller
1. Move the envelope 1/2 inch down and trace the outline
2. Then move it to the right 1/2 inch and trace the left edge
3. Move the envelope left 1/2 inch and trace the right edge
Cut along the inner-most lines. Don’t worry, you can do it. Just like they said in driver’s ed… go slow around the curves.
3) Trace the template onto the paper you’ll be using for the liners
(In my example, the template is the liner).
4) Place the liner inside the envelope
Move it so the top of the liner so it sits just inside the glue line at the top edge of the envelope. It doesn’t matter where the bottom edge of the liner is—no one will see it.
5) Fold the envelope flap
Holding the liner tight where you want it to sit, fold the flap of the envelope and the liner closed.
6) Glue the top of the liner to the flap
Open the envelope flap back up again and use the glue stick to glue around the edges of the part of the liner that will attach to the flap. Don’t worry about gluing the rest of the liner. Only the flap matters.
7) Insert your invitation and mail!
Wait for the calls about how beautiful the invites are!
I’ve been walking to work for the last week. Not because my car broke down or because I love exercise. For Lent, I decided to go temporarily without the luxury of driving to work, much as the working class in my neighborhood walk or take the bus. Plus I could get some steps on my new Fitbit—see even my sacrifice is self-serving.
It’s less than a mile each way, but still seemed likely that I would give up after a week. Why? Because there’s some sketch. An intersection or two where I’ve seen drug users sitting by a big oak tree, homeless people walking or drifters waiting for the bus. Along the rest of my route, it’s mostly people walking their dog or jogging.
For the first few days I walked with paranoia. Fear that I would cross paths with someone and they would ask me for money, or worse, rob me, even though it was the morning daylight. Still, I was careful to walk on the sidewalks where cars would pass by—at least if there was a scuffle, someone would see it. Unless I saw someone sketchy ahead. Then I skillfully crossed the street a block early so as to avoid them.
After a few days, I hadn’t encountered many people at the problem intersection. Only when I got onto a residential side street yesterday did I see someone suspicious outside an upscale condo building, picking up his open blue sleeping bag. I was careful to walk on the other side of the street. Here I was, afraid of him, but I’m sure he just wanted a safe place to sleep and probably a meal. I kept walking.
I was reminded of a talk I recently heard about love. How love changes everything. In 1982, Pope John Paul II stated that one of the greatest challenges in the world was creating a civilization of love.
What would it be like if I approached these suspicious people with love? They are in need, after all—in need of a safe place, a job, a meal, love. If I walked with an open heart, would I be less afraid? It was a reassuring thought.
Today, as I walked to work, the light at the intersection turned green, and on the other side, I saw two sketch people walking with blankets. I hesitated, considering my alternate route. I’m sure the truck waiting to turn was impatient. So I crossed, knowing I would cross paths with them. Love, I reminded myself, holding my purse close—not fear.
I averted my eyes as I walked past them, and I heard one say to the other, “My daddy always said if you want something you gotta f*ing get it yourself.” Funny, my dad would say something like that. Good, you can say that to this guy if he turns around, try to build common ground… Love…
One block further, the street was quiet, except I could see a young black man with a backpack and an open blue sleeping bag, working to stash it behind some bushes near the charity guild resale shop. Hurriedly, I crossed to the other side of the block, while he walked the other way.
What a hard life that must be: Not knowing where you’ll sleep. Paranoid your bed might disappear during the day. Wondering where the next meal will come from. Is there a way I could show this man love?
Then I thought of the Hope for the Homeless bags students at my school recently made for a community service day. They are bags full of toiletries and I’m not sure what else. What if I could something like a meal for him in his secret hiding spot behind the bushes. Could you imagine his surprise!? Maybe momentary relief…
Just before lunch, I stopped by the cafeteria and picked up some foods that I thought would last the day outside… tuna and cracker snack packs, nuts and seeds, a banana, some Oreos and Gatorade. On a post-it, I wrote, “Friend, I hope this meal makes it a better day for you. -B.”
I left the bag near the bushes. When I passed by again after work, I was delighted to see it was gone.
No one meal solves anything, I know. But today I was reminded that we can’t live in fear, and that if we approach people with love, we’re more likely to find common ground, and raise each other up.
I’ll still cross a block early when I see someone sketch—because safety, first—but I’ll try to think more about how I can help others, even if it’s in a small way.
As part of my New Year’s resolution to “Create More” I knew I wanted to bring back Craft Club meetings with friends. It’s fun to share a different craft with friends each time, and they really get into it.
So for the first 2016 meeting, we silk-screened T-shirts, tote bags and aprons with our new “Craft Club” logo. It was only my second time to silk-screen on my own, and the first time on fabric, but all of our pieces turned out great!
Here are the steps to creating your own silk screen project:
1) Gather your materials
Speedball screen printing kit – I picked this up on a whim from my local art supply store. You can get a similar screen printing kit on Amazon. The kit has three methods of printing, but this tutorial covers the DIAZO photo emulsion method.
You’ll also need:
2. Create the Positive
We should all create positivity in our lives. But, here, I mean create the transparency that will be used to print the screen. It’s like a negative. Except it’s the positive. You want to print your design the same as you would like it printed (right-reading, right side up). Whatever is black on the transparency will be what is inked. I used Illustrator to create my design, but this could be done in Word, too.
I had two 8.5”x11” black and white transparencies printed at my local copy shop. Make sure the design fits your screen. Also, even though I was going to print in two colors, I printed the whole design on the transparency, and we masked out sections of it later. If your two-color design is very intricate, you may need to print a different screen for each color.
3) Prepare the Screen
Follow the directions on the Speedball kit for preparing your screen.
For clarity sake, we’ll call the bottom of the screen the flat side, and the top of the screen the part that has the wooden frame extending up from it.
First mask the screen. Use masking tape and cover the edges of the screen so that the tape is halfway overlapping the wooden edge and half-way overlapping the screen. Do this on both sides of the screen.
Add pushpins to the corners of the wood frame on the bottom side of the screen. I didn’t have any pushpins (go figure), but I had four sewing bobbins that I taped on. These are used to raise the bottom of the screen off of your surface while drying.
A) Add emulsion
In an interior bathroom without a window, I cut open an old paper bag and taped it to the bathroom counter to protect the surface. You want the room to be dark to avoid fogging your screen, but a little indirect light is ok. I left the door open with a lamp outside the room.
Lay the screen on the counter with the bottom side up. Wearing disposable gloves, use a popsicle stick to add a line of emulsion at the top. Then take the squeegee and pull the emulsion across the screen, covering it completely. Do the same on the other side, going back and forth until the screen is completely covered. You may have to add more emulsion as you go. I did, but then found I had too much on the screen. You can return excess emulsion back to the bottle. Squeegee until both sides have a smooth layer of emulsion. Let the screen dry in the dark room with the bottom side down, resting on your pushpins (or bobbins).
People say they put the screen in a box or a drawer to to dry for days. Who’s got that kind of time? I let the screen dry in the dark bathroom overnight and it was fine. The first time I made the screen, I let it dry in the same space with the bathroom fan on and it dried in a couple hours. Keep the screen in the dark until you’re ready to expose it.
B) Expose the screen
I really wanted to print the screen in the sun, originally, because that’s how I do cyanotypes. And while it’s possible, it seems to be the least preferred option for exposure because of it’s variability. It’s recommended to use a light bulb setup instead. Sure enough, the day I went to print, it was hopelessly cloudy. So, I went to the light-bulb store nearby and bought a 150-watt incandescent light bulb. In the end, it’s a pretty good setup. Here’s how I rigged my exposure unit:
I started with my Ikea lamp and replaced the bulb with the 150-watt bulb. But first I cut an X out of the middle of an aluminum pie plate (I happened to have a rectangular aluminum to-go plate that I stretched to do the trick. I taped the pie plate to the outside of the lamp (trying not to touch metal to the electric parts—that might be bad). Then I put the bulb in.
I decided to hang the lamp upside-down from my desk, to expose the screen laying on the floor in a room with the blinds closed. The bulb needs to be about 12 inches from the screen, so I raised up the base (now the top of the lamp) on a box and taped it all to the table so it wouldn’t fall. Make sure there’s no other direct light.
I laid two pieces of black paper overlapping on the floor. This helps to prevent light from bouncing back up under the frame.
I placed the screen over the black paper with the bottom side up.
I took the two transparencies with the design printed on them, lined them up and taped them together using clear tape. Two transparencies together helps make a more opaque image. So I’ve read, but I haven’t tested myself.
Place the transparency on top of the screen so that it is REVERSED. Think about it this way—when your screen is done, you will turn it so that the bottom of the screen is on the bottom and print through the screen. So it will need to be a mirror image from the bottom.
Make sure the bulb is centered over the screen about 12 inches above. Then turn on the lamp and let it expose for 45 minutes. (If you use other bulbs, the timing may be different. Refer to your kit instructions). It’s bright. Avoid staring into it. You might go blind, or just get a headache like me.
Once the time is up, remove the screen. The area that was exposed will be a darker area, and the area under the black part of the transparency will be a lighter green.
Add another row of masking tape and cover the edges that did not get emulsion. This helps create a “tight” screen and prevent ink from bleeding through on the edges.
C) Wash the screen
Place the screen in your kitchen sink, and using the sprayer on the sink faucet, focus a hard spray of water on the areas you want to wash out. After a few minutes, you’ll see the unexposed emulsion rinse away and the image will come through. Let the screen dry completely. I was in a hurry, so after dabbing with a paper towel, I used a blow dryer, and it worked well.
4) Prepare the fabric
We worked with T-shirts, fabric tote bags and cotton aprons as our fabric. Some needed to be ironed to provide a flat surface. Inside the T-shirts, I placed a piece of cardboard and a layer of freezer paper, to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the next layer.
5) First Ink Run
If you’re using the same screen for two or more colors, use masking tape on the bottom of the screen to block out the portion of the image you don’t want printed. If you’re covering a large area, you can also use a plain sheet of paper taped onto the screen.
Place the screen (bottom side down) over the fabric where you want the design to be printed. Have a friend (or begrudging husband) help you hold the screen down while you print. Use a popsicle stick to place a line of ink across the top of the screen. Use the squeegee and pull the ink down across the screen in a fluid manner. Hold the squeegee at a 45-degree angle and try to make an even flood of ink, pressing it into the screen. I pulled the ink down, up and down again for an even print. You’ll have to practice to see what works best for you and your fabric. Carefully remove the screen an admire your beautiful print!
Return any excess ink from the squeegee to the bottle.
Once you’ve finished your print run, remove any sections that have been masked (not the edges, though) and wash your screen.
6) Next ink run(s)
Let the first run of ink dry before you attempt a second color. Again, we used a blow dryer and heat gun to speed up the process, which worked great. If you’re doing a second run of ink, make sure your screen is dry and mask out the sections that you printed the first time. Repeat the printing process as above.
Here’s Cat showing off her finished two-color apron! It’s perfect for holding craft supplies.
7) Remove the emulsion
If you want to keep the screen for future print runs, wash and dry it as is. However, if you want to reuse the screen for other images, you’ll need to remove the emulsion immediately after printing. Otherwise it will become permanent on the screen.
Take off all the masking tape and put the screen in the sink. Wear disposable gloves for this part. Using the emulsion remover and a foam brush, brush the remover all over the emulsion part of the screen. Do this on both sides of the screen, and let the screen rest flat in the sink for two minutes. If you give the emulsion enough time to work, you shouldn’t need to do much scrubbing. After two minutes, use the same foam brush to brush away the emulsion. It should come out pretty easily, but if not, add more emulsion. Once it’s cleared, rinse and dry the screen.
Then clean up!! And enjoy your new silk screened project!
In the end, we all got to walk away with a cool printed T-shirt or bag, and we’re ready for the next Craft Club meeting!
What did I miss? Do you have any tips for silk screening? What would you like to print on your own T-shirts or bags?
Photo credit: All the good photos on this page of us printing are by my talented friend Cimela Kidonakis. Any bad ones are by me.
For some people it’s pictures of their kids. For my brother, it’s his famous chocolate chip cookies. You know, that gift you give every year, that if you don’t give, people are asking about? For me, it’s the Printers Guild calendar. A different member of the Guild prints a different month of the calendar for the exchange, and the result is a year of art. If I miss giving it to someone, they’re like, “So, no calendar this year?” with sad puppy dog eyes. At least, I like to think so.
I always do a cyanotype print for my month (tutorial to come later), but this year, in addition to the September prints I made, I felt like the month for January needed a little more pop. So I decided to redo that month with a laser foil transfer. It was my first time successfully printing with foil, and it definitely took some troubleshooting, so along with the how-to below, I’ll share some tips I learned along the way.
What you’ll need:
Tip No. 1 is that if you’re printing on your own laser printer, print from a program like Photoshop. For whatever reason, if I printed from Illustrator, it wouldn’t work as well. You can do a screenshot from Illustrator or InDesign to open it in Photoshop. I’ve read that others had similar problems printing from Word, but Photoshop works. This matters less if you’re making copies instead.
Make sure to create your design in all black. You need to print with toner; an ink-jet printer just doesn’t work. If you are going to print at a copy shop, go ahead and print it out so you can make a B&W copy in the store. I had great results on a B&W copy machine at my local shop (better than my home laser printer), but not as good results at FedEx Kinkos multi-copier. I can’t tell you why.
Top No. 2: Choose a coated stock (sorta glossy). It works much better than uncoated. I had to scour my local craft store for coated black paper, but I did find an option that works.
Above you can see the black cardstock printed in black. The original copy is on the right.
Cut the foil transfer sheets to cover the image on your paper. I used two colors of iCraft deco foil. This foil is toner-reactive foil. Some tubes come with one sheet and some tubes come with five sheets, so make sure you get enough for your project.
Cover the paper and foil with a plain sheet of copy paper, and run it through a laminating machine. I was hesitant to get a laminator only for this purpose, but I read that you can get them pretty cheap and they go on sale all the time. Sure enough, last time I was in the office supply store, this Swingline laminator was on clearance for under $20! Plus, if I ever want to laminate something, it’s good for that, too 🙂 Put it on the hot setting. Tip No. 3: I ran my stacked sheets through twice for good measure. I’ve heard you can use an iron too? But I haven’t tried that myself.
Once the foil is cool (less than a minute), peel up the foil.
Hopefully, the foil transfers to your design completely. If it doesn’t, try making a copy of your design on a B&W-only copy machine. The transfer on this go round was sorta flaky, and I’ve had much better results previously with the same paper and foil. The only difference was the copy machine I used, so I’m attributing it to that.
Here is the successful foil transfer (from my first round of prints). I love the way the metallic foil pops against the black stock, and it’s just the right look I was hoping for to start the calendar off this year!
For next year’s calendar, I decided instead of a print exchange, I’m going to create 12 months of the calendar myself for gifts. So I’ll try out 12 different artistic styles or printing methods. Look for more posts about the 2017 calendar to come!
Have you tried laser foil transfer? What tips do you have to get good results?
At first, I was going to call this blog “Craft More.” Because I loooove crafts. Especially with friends. But then I realized creativity goes beyond crafts.
It’s the extra flair in wrapping Christmas gifts. Or the tabletop details at a dinner party or a baby shower. Or the thoughtfulness of making a friend’s birthday card. Or the creativity it takes to solve problems at work. Or passion for starting a family.
So my new year’s resolution this year is to “Create More.” And I think you should, too. A primary way I plan to do that is by bringing back Craft Club with the girls (Our first meeting of the new year will be screen printed Craft Club T-shirts—watch out). I also plan to create an art calendar to give as gifts next Christmas, so I’m going to design and print a calendar month each month (That’s 12 printing projects, so I better not get behind). By creating tangibly, I hope that I can create more friendship, love and passion.
And because we could all “Create More,” I’ve started this blog.
There are so many times I wish I’ve had a venue for sharing my craft projects, invitations, party themes, gift wrap, Pinterest copy-cats, holiday decor, craft how-tos and more. I also plan to tap the brains of several of my creative and talented friends to write guests posts. So you just might get to learn a little more about cooking, photography, storytelling and knitting—in addition to other hands on projects, entertaining and paper crafts. There are ways we can create every day.
So I hope you’ll join me in making a resolution, and “Create More” today!