Tiny Tip: Make Matching Art Accessories

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

I have this super cute shower curtain that I purchased at Ikea (sorry – no link, it’s no longer being offered).

Shower curtain for matching art

They had matching towels, but no wall artwork was available.

So I made my own.

I took a good, clear closeup photo of two of the fish on the curtain. And then I cleaned them up in Adobe Photoshop and auto traced the result in Adobe Illustrator. I changed the colors to be more vibrant, added a border and border background color and printed it as an oversize color print.

I have the luxury of working where I have access to an oversize color printer, but Staples/Kinkos/etc. will print these in the $1.99 to $9.99 range depending on size and paper stock.

I dropped it into a inexpensive frame (from Ikea, of course) and now  my bathroom is a one-of-a-kind designer masterpiece. And when I change shower curtains, I can make new matching artwork.

I’m only suggesting this for personal use, of course. I’m not a lawyer, but I’d guess that if you tried to sell an item created this way, you’d likely be violating every copyright law there is.

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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.

I was featured at the MyBusyBeehives.com linkup party

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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.

 

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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).