Thursday, July 21, 2011

Greetings from my Stamp Collection!

Greetings!  (Again) So I know I've been a little MIA the past couple weeks.  I could tell you all sorts of excuses- I cut off my communications from the outside world to prevent creepers stalking me, I've been on stake-out at my garden 24/7 keeping away skunks and deer, or I was just plain lazy/forgot.  I'll let you determine which you think is the truth.

This post is about greeting cards.  When I started to get involved with scrapbooking, I started making greeting cards as a way to save money.  I don't care who you are or how important you are to me, I just can't bring myself to spend $3 ($3!- that's a margarita at happy hour- don't worry, I'll be thinking of you!) for a piece of paper to which I'll sign my name, you'll tear open, read once (maybe twice), and set aside (or worse- throw away!), never to be seen again.  (However, I might splurge if I've already been to happy hour and the card is really funny).  And let's face it, I don't have a history of being much of a planner, so I love being able to go downstairs on someone's birthday or the day of someone's wedding and graduation and emerge fifteen minutes later with a card in less time than it would take me to go to the store. (And my boyfriend always wondered how I could stand last minute plans!).

I started with a few stamps from the dollar store...then I noticed that JoAnn's, Michael's, and Pat Catan's all had cheap stamps.  Really cheap stamps.  So I began a collection.

Some call it more of an obsession...
 You'll have to dig through the bargain bins near the registers for the stamps, but they change every couple of months or so, so there's always something new and exciting.  Here are some of my most recent creations using the latest batch of stamps at JoAnn's:
There were plenty more.  I just have to limit myself or else I'd be drowning in these things.

I just loved the camera.  I'm thinking of "...because you deserve to" inside

At first I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with these word-y stamps.  They just seemed so busy.  But I loved them as a background, either as an entire card or for just blocks on the card.  The clear stamps and block make it easy to line up the stamp to look seamless in its repetition.  The birthday stamp was a little more difficult to line up than the thank you one, but once you add the focal stamp to it, you can't really tell that the spacing is a little off.

I also "discovered" sewing on cards in a card magazine.  I'm pretty sure this is nothing new to those who follow the cardmaking world, but I want to share that it's not half as scary as it looks!  I'd like to share some words of advice when sewing on cards (in the whole three or four I've made thus far):

Most importantly, (if you take anything from this post it should be this) make sure the card is open before sewing.  It's a real downer to have to throw away all of your work (because let's face it, a needle is like lightning, never hits the same place twice- you're not going to get it to line up with the holes you already sewed through your paper).  Not that I've been absentminded enough to do this or anything.  I could just imagine that it would be sad to ruin your work like that.

Loosen the tension on your machine.  You don't need to do it much, just enough so it won't pucker the paper.

Lock your stitch if possible.  The thread comes out very easily if you tug even the slightest bit on it.

I have yet to recommend sewing squares.  I haven't been successful in making even borders, with the stitches always being a little shorter or further, never just right to make that perfect, square corner.  My solutions- zig zag stitches, having a backup plan to cover up an uneven corner, or to avoid them altogether. (Does anyone else have any advice on this?)

My favorite thing about making my own cards is that they are so personal.  You aren't limited by the sentiments Hallmark prints, or the color schemes in American Greetings' cards.  I plan to fill these cards with sayings or quotes that I will print on cardstock or vellum and fasten inside.  They have dimension, personality, and they won't force you to give up happy hour!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

As American as Apple Pie...

Disclaimer: this post is not about America (unless you consider the fact that I am in America, then it is).  Or apples.  Or apple pie.  It is, however, about making pie.

I am no expert in the pie field.  I can count on one hand how many pies I've made on my own, and probably two hands (and maybe a foot) how many pies I've participated in making over the years.  I do not claim to have experience and extensive knowledge (or even adequate knowledge) in the field.  The pie baking in the oven is the collaboration of my determined wild black raspberry picking, my boyfriend's mother's knowledge in baking black raspberry pies, and my mom's assistance in mixing the crust (after two failed attempts on my part).

Needless to say, with my limited experience I'm willing to take anyone's advice and seek assistance when making a pie (especially with such precious black raspberries!).  So when my mom raved about this pie crust maker she got a while back, I decided I'd give it a shot.

Harold 11" Pie Crust Maker
A simple enough "invention"- just roll the dough between the plastic.

The concept was simple enough- roll the dough out between the plastic, unzip the case and flip the crust into the pie pan (awesome! I wouldn't have to roll the pie crust over the rolling pin to transfer it, something that for some reason always makes me nervous).

The first attempt proved that I did not put enough flour in the pie crust maker, and the crust stuck to the plastic and tore as I tried to peel it out.

Even with more flour (lots more flour) on the second attempt, you cannot get enough flour on top of the dough.  The crust does peel away from the top layer of plastic if you are patient and pull the plastic away from your rolled crust slowly.  (To avoid this you could open it up and put more flour on as you roll, which makes it more time consuming with constant opening and closing.)  But there was enough flour to make the crust come off the bottom of the plastic easily.  Taking a deep breath, I flipped the crust into the pan, the crust landing in a messy pile in the dish, folding into itself and sticking together.

Needless to say, I became more nervous about the various aspects of using the pie crust maker than in the task of rolling it out without any snazzy tools.  Would it stick in some random place and put a big tear in the crust?  Would it fold into itself as I flipped it into the pan?  I feel much more in control of the crust when I roll it out on the counter, shifting the dough to make sure it's loose on the bottom and adding flour as I need it on top.  I'd rather roll the crust over my rolling pin and drape it over the pie dish from there.  And the extra items to wash were also a downside.  All in all, I felt that the pie crust maker was more trouble than it helped.

Has anyone else tried the pie crust maker?  What is your preference?