Patriotic Paper Wreath

Perfect for Summer Holidays!

There are three holidays in the summer that cry out for patriotic decorations – Memorial Day, Flag Day and Fourth of July.

For this wreath, I used what I learned making the mini Happy Day spring wreath. By changing the shape of the “stems” and adding some correctly colored circles for berries, I created a fun door decoration I can use whenever it’s called for.

In Adobe Illustrator

I searched the web for images of berry laden stems, and then simplified them into two versions, a tall one and a short one. I also created an additional circle that was just a little larger than the ones on the branches so I could add the red, white and blue berries on later.

Branches drawn for a patriotic wreath

 

I exported the file as a DXF, since the basic version of Silhouette Studio can’t work with an AI, EPS or SVG file, but it can use the DXF format.

In Silhouette Studio

I set up my Design Page settings for 9 x 11 to match the paper I had selected.

Branches to cut for a patriotic wreath

I duplicated and moved the branches around until I could fit as many as possible on a sheet. I sent the file to cut, weeded it and repeated until I felt like I had more than enough pieces to fill out my shape. This does not have to be an exact science – if you guess wrong you just go back and cut more.

Berries to cut for patriotic wreath

I then duplicated and aligned the circle that becomes the berry, and cut a sheet each of them on white, red and blue paper.

Final Assembly

I used my standard trick of cutting a circle out of a cereal box using a bowl for a guide, and just like in the other wreath project, I began in the upper left corner and used tacky glue to adhere the stems down, working to cover the cereal box and keeping the wreath really natural looking. This means you don’t want to overlap the stems too perfectly – some should stick out a little bit higher or lower than others.

Weeded parts for a patriotic wreath

It turns out I had way more than enough stems cut, so I decided to go ahead and glue them on the back of the wreath. The back of the wreath won’t ever be seen, but by doing this, I added a little more dimension to the piece.

Assembled patriotic wreath

 

I let this stage of the project dry for a while so that it wouldn’t fall apart as I glued on the berries.

I eyeballed the wreath into thirds and began gluing on the circles of red, white and blue. At some point I realized I didn’t have enough of two of the colors and went back and cut additional circles to finish.

Once complete, this hangs on the nail on my front door.

Smashed Beans

An ugly but tasty side dish that’s a step up from canned refried beans

I have several recipes that if I were going to categorize them beyond the meal courses they belong to, I would have to put them in an “ugly but really tasty” group.

Smashed Beans is one of them.

But don’t judge too harshly – if you normally use refried beans from a can, then you really can’t argue that they are much better in appearance.

Personally, I don’t really like the texture of refried beans, nor the way they look kinda of like dog food when you remove them from that can. (Side note – what is that extrication method called? The one where you try and unseat them from the bottom of the can with a knife and vigorous upside down shaking? I’m offering “Unsuck them from the can” but the ballot is open for entries).

Instead, I take a can of regular beans and mash them with spices and a little olive oil and onion to exactly the taste and consistency I want. This also lets me use Black Beans, which I like better in taste than red/pinto. I’ve also made these with beans from scratch, on those rare occasions that I’ve remembered to soak them overnight ahead of time.

 

Print

Smashed Beans

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 11 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 15 oz cab Black or Pinto Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • ½ teaspoon Paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Jalapeno
  • 1 Tablespoon Diced Onion
  • 1/4-1/2 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, add a splash of olive oil to the contents of a can of rinsed and drained beans. Microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, until warmed through and soft (but not really hot).
  2. Add spices and jalapeno and onion. Use a large fork or a potato masher to mash/smash the beans to the desired consistency.
  3. If using as a side dish, heat an additional 30-45 seconds to completely cook through.

Recipe Notes

We enjoy these  as a side dish, a soft taco/burrito/wrap filling. They also make a great layer in 7-layer dip or Taco salad.

Web Wednesday: June 21, 2017

  • This was a great documentary about how origami and science work hand in hand. Unfortunately, you have to be a paid PBS subscriber to view it. So if you aren’t, how about this site with a lot of smaller projects to start with?
  • I love ringtones, and astronomy. So the NASA web page full of MP3 and MR4 downloads? Yay!
  • You know when you get on the plane and you scope out all the your fellow passengers wondering who the troublemakers are going to be? Can you imagine if this happened on your flight?

None of these links are affiliate; they are just items that caught my eye in the last week.

Tiny Tip: Design cards with the envelope in mind

A trick that doesn’t require a 500-word essay

If you are creating cards or invitations, it’s helpful to know the sizes of standard envelopes so that once you have finished all that hard work, it’s possible to actually mail them.

You could, of course, create your own envelope, but if you are doing invitations or a mass of thank you cards after an event, you’ll probably want to stick to the sizes easiest to find at the stores.

One other quick card size tip – you’ll also want to consider the size of the sheet of paper you are printing them on. One of my favorite sizes is the A2 insert size – at 4.25 x 5.5, you can get four out of a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper (or two if they fold over).

Father’s Day Card

An easy technique that can create a card for any occasion

Here’s a quick card technique that combines Silhouette cutting and and a simple design/print technique that can be used for just about any occasion.

To set up the printed portion

In your choice of design program,  using an 8.5 x 11 sheet size, create a wall of repeating text about the occasion. In this case, I’ve typed “Happy Father’s Day” over and over.

the inside of the Father's Day card

To give the inside a little more pop, I have colored this text a light blue, and then added a large rectangle of darker blue behind it for a tone on tone effect. Placement here isn’t super important – the only important part is you want the entire block of text and background color to be considerably larger than the card you are going to cut.

Make sure that design is centered to your page, and then print. I like to use an 80# smooth white cover stock for this – regular paper would be too flimsy to stand up on it’s own after folding.

Set that sheet aside.

To set up the cut file

I use Adobe Illustrator to design my cut files because I’m more familiar with it, but this same technique works in Silhouette Studio.

In either program, set up a page that is 8.5 x 11 (the size of the already printed sheet). Draw a rectangle that is the full flat size of the card you are making. In this case, I have an A2 envelope handy, so I’m making an A2 sized card. That card is 4.25 x 5.5 when folded. So I need a rectangle that is 5.5 wide by 8.5 tall for the outside cut dimensions.

Draw a line that is the same width as the card (5.5 inches in this case) and center it to the rectangle (both top to bottom and left to right). This line is going to become the score line later.

Draw an inner rectangle that is 1 inch less than the width and height of the panel. The panel is half the card, so in this case, my rectangle will be 3.25 x 4.5.  Position that rectangle so it is centered left to right in the bigger rectangle.  Move the inner rectangle up so it is .5” inch from the bottom of the bigger rectangle. This centers the inner shape in the front panel of the card.

outside design for a Father's Day cardType the text you want in a big bold font and size it large enough to span the width of the inner rectangle. You’ll then need to adjust the spacing between the letters so that they touch, and resize the overall width of the word so that it slightly overlaps the left and right sides of the inner rectangle.  In Illustrator I select the overlapping letters and choose United from the Pathfinder Pallette. In Silhouette Studio you would select the overlapping letters and choose Weld from the Modify menu. Once the letters are united/welded, you’ll need to select them and the inner rectangle and choose Minus Front (from the Pathfinder Pallete in Illustrator) or Subtract (in the Modify window in Silhouette Studio). Check to make sure the letters are now a cutout portion of the inner rectangle – if something has gone wrong, undo this step and check to make sure the united/welded  word is in front of the inner rectangle.

file for cutlines for a Father's Day card

Since I created my artwork in Illustrator, I need to save it, and then export it as a DXF file because the basic version of Silhouette Studio can’t open an Illustrator file but it can use the DXF format. Once I’ve exported that file, I open Silhouette Studio and merge in the file. If you’ve created your artwork in Silhouette Studio then you skip this step.

The Silhouette Cameo doesn’t really produce a true score line, but a perforated cut will work. Select the center line you drew in the big rectangle and select a dotted line pattern from the Line menu.

Final Assembly

cut file for a Father's Day cardCheck to see that the lines are all set to cut properly, and then place your previously printed sheet printed side down on the cuttng mat. You want the text to be upside down as well, so the first line of text is at the bottom of the mat, not the top. This sounds backwards, but when the card cuts, the front panel of the card is going to be at the bottom of the sheet, and the printed text forms the inside of the card.

Load the mat, and send the cut file to print. Remove the cut sheet from the mat carefully, and fold along the perforated line at the top. Note – if when you fold the card your inside text reads upside down, then the printed sheet wasn’t placed correctly on the mat. Just print a new sheet and position it the other way and cut a second version. That’s the great thing about paper crafting – mistakes are pretty easy to hide (just through them in the recycle bin!).

inside view of the Father's Day card

Sign at the bottom (in that ½” space at the bottom so it isn’t visible from the cutout portion when folded) and you are done!

By changing the color and text on the printed portion and the word on the outside that gets cut, you can create an infinite number of custom greeting cards using this method.

 

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Spinach and Artichoke Dip

An easy version of a classic restaurant appetizer

Do you subscribe to the New York Times Cooking newsletter? You might consider it (not an affiliate link). It’s free, and I really like how the editor works current affairs into the weekly pattern of recipes.

I especially liked a recent edition where the subject of Spinach Artichoke dip was reviewed – I had no idea that some foodies consider it a controversial subject.

I am not a foodie. I like tasty, easy to make food that’s easy on the budget and fits my health plan.

The recipe from the New York Times site didn’t actually fit those requirements, but I skimmed it for a basic jumping off point and then slimmed it down literally and figuratively.

Print

Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Lowfat Cream Cheese at room temperature
  • 1 Tsp Mayonnaise
  • 1/8 cup Feta Cheese crumbled
  • 4 oz fresh baby spinach rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 stalk Green Onion
  • 2 cloves Garlic peeled
  • 1/2 jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts (Jar was 7.5 oz)

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the garlic, spinach and green onion.

  2. In a small saute pan, heat olive oil and once it begins to shimmer, add garlic, spinach and green onion. Saute until spinach is fully cooked and very wilty.

  3. While the garlic/onion/spinach mixture is cooking, combine the mayo, cream cheese and feta in a large, heat safe bowl.

  4. Roughly chop the marinated artichoke hearts and add to the mayo/cream cheese mixture.

  5. When the garlic/onion/spinach mixture is done, remove from heat add to  the mayo/cream cheese mixture.

  6. Stir thoroughly to combine. 

Recipe Notes

The heat of the cooked vegetables will melt the cream cheese/mayo mixture. At this point, the dip can be enjoyed warm.

Leftovers should be refrigerated.

The dip will solidify, and can either be enjoyed as a chilled spread, or reheated in the microwave if you wish for a hot dip.

Web Wednesday: June 14, 2017

Editing Auto-Complete Addresses, Weather Forecasting and Space Station Sightings

  • Every time we have a change of staff at work I have to look this up to remember how to stop Mac OS Mail from using an old auto-complete entry in email. It occurs to me I might not be the only one who needs a refresher course.
  • Seems to me that the mainstream weather websites  are more panic and hype (not to mention pop-up ads) than actual weather. This one just gives you the data and you get to play weatherman.
  • A super nerdy thing we enjoy at SuzerSpace is watching the skies for the International Space Station. It’s a tiny, really really fast moving speck of light in the sky. Check here for a date and time near you.

None of the links in this post are affiliate; they are all just interesting things that caught my eye.

Teeny Tiny Tip: Marker Storage

A trick that doesn’t require a 500-word essay

With absolutely no scientific proof to back up my claims, this week’s tip is about marker storage.

I keep my markers in a glass jar, tip side down. The glass jar part isn’t important, we just generate a lot of them from pickles/mayo/hot peppers.

The tip-side-down part is the key here. My theory is this keeps the tip in contact with the ink and lets it last longer.

The Interwebs appear to be split into the “tip down” and “horizontal” camps among the marker fanatics.

Horizontal doesn’t work for me because I don’t have enough drawer space in my craft area.

Does anyone have enough drawer space in their craft area?

 

Show and Tell: Paperclip Feet Birds

A craft project from another blog

These little cuties came to me via my Pinterest feed.

Charcoal and Crayons’ post even featured a downloadable template (yay! I love templates!) that was easily traced into a Silhouette cutting file.

And I have had these super cute black and white paperclips for quite some time.

They were a little tricky to assemble as directed – trying to fit the two “legs” between the two bird halves was very fiddly, even with hot glue.

If you cut a third body piece, and then sandwich that between the other two body parts, you then have a more stable center for the legs to be glued.

Grilled Mushrooms

Kick up the flavor with high heat

We grill year round at SuzerSpace, but like most people I really enjoy the summer months the best.

It’s the vegetables – grilling them is a super easy way to boost the flavor and create a side dish that tastes restaurant quality.

There isn’t much of a recipe here – the main goal is to keep the veggies moving so they get roasted but not burned.

Grilled Mushrooms on the grill

 

Print

Grilled Mushrooms

Whole button mushrooms are transformed when they are cooked on high heat with just a bit of balsamic vinegar.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Button Mushrooms Whole - not sliced
  • splash Olive Oil
  • splash Balsamic Vinegar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat grill with a cast iron grill pan on grates.

  2. While the grill heats, clean mushrooms under running water to remove dirt. I like the stems, but if you don't, remove them.

  3. In a bowl, toss mushrooms in olive oil and balsamic vinegar - make sure they are evenly coated.

  4. Add mushrooms to grill pan (be careful to avoid oil splatters). Turn as needed to get them heavily charred but not burned.

  5. Remove from grill (I recommend using long handled tongs to keep from losing them into the grill grates) and serve as a side dish with dinner.

Recipe Notes

The prep time is deceptive - I've included the time needed to bring the grill and the pan up to roasting temperature. Actually hands on time is something under 3 minutes to wash and set the mushrooms into the marinade.