Thursday, July 31, 2014

DIY || Screen Print Jig

In college I took a summer "Alternative Methods in Printmaking" course that was, by far, one of my favorite classes ever.  My professor was a grad student who happened to be a kick ass roller derby chick with a unique style and encouraging spirit.  One method we didn't cover, however, was screen printing.  I've always wanted to learn, constantly reading up on home setups and even backing a Kickstarter fund for Screen Printing On The Cheap. So when it came time to design our wedding invitations, I knew I wanted to try my hand at it.  What better time to jump start my learning!

Thanks to inspiration from Handmade Weddings, I set off to make my own screen print jig that was small enough to use at home but also mobile in case I needed to take it to the studio.  I had already purchased a screen from Michael's so I knew I needed my back board to accommodate it's size but also allow for bigger screens if needed.  A Google search brought me to these hinge clamps since none of my local hardware stores carried them.  That's all I needed to get started.

Word to the wise, you'll need to create an inset in your back board to allow for the screen to lie flush.  I used MDF which was an easy material to chisel, but you may want to keep this in mind when choosing your material.

That's it!  The hardest part, or should I say most time consuming, is the actual screen set up since it requires several steps with dry time in between.  I'll share more on that process soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Wedding Planning || Dress Shopping

Birds sang in chorus, rays of sunshine danced in the sky, I cried tears of pure joy...
Nope, not even close.  Well, rays of sunshine did dance in the sky only because it's Arizona and the sun shines bright year-long.  And I did cry, but it was out of shear frustration, anxiety, and feeling absolutely overwhelmed.  Not the magical dress shopping experience I was hoping for!

I should have known from the minute we walked in the door that this was not going to go like I had hoped nor how they romantically depict it to be on tv and in the movies.  To start, my appointment (those things you make so you don't have to wait around) was half an hour late to start.  No big deal, I'll just look around the aisles to see if any dresses caught my eye.  I had already reserved a couple dresses to try on that I had found online but figured maybe I'd find more options.  This was not a success.  Not because I couldn't find anything else I liked within my price range, but because I got elbowed and pushed around by momzillas and the likes without any courteous pardons or apologies.  Why are people so rude?  It's beyond me.

Feeling frustrated and a bit overwhelmed already, I was relieved when I was finally assigned a fitting room and chairs for my mom and sisters who accompanied me.  I went inside to try on a bodice/bustier while the gal searched for the dresses I reserved.  This is when the meltdown began.  For starters, how the hell was I supposed to latch all 94758 of those little latchie doohickies by myself?  Deep breath.  I'll just latch it in front and twist it around the right way.  Abort mission.  That sucker wasn't moving, which, I guess is the point!  Didn't matter, I broke down crying, feeling completely overwhelmed and over it all before I had even tried on any dresses.  I broke out into a sweat feeling anxious and claustrophobic.  The lack of moving air in the room and the open ceiling concept which allowed me to hear the cries of the upset flower girl next door didn't help.  At all.

Ok, quick pep talk to get myself together so I could get dressed and call for my mom for backup.  Mom is always the best backup; she'll know just what to do and say.  Holding back my tears, I crack open the door and tell my mom I need her.  Not two seconds after the door closes behind us, I lose it!  Full on ugly cry, swearing off this stupid day, and wishing I could just leave.  I don't need a wedding dress if this is what it takes to get it!  Of course my mom knows what to say to calm me down and she helps me get that stupid bodice back on and try on my first dress.  Deep breath.

The first dress is a style that grew on me in recent years; I like it and so do my mom and sisters.  They smile and take pictures, I fake smile and wish I didn't look like a swollen tomato from all that ugly crying.  Dress two is gorgeous and far from what I expected to like but it really was dreamy.  However, it was not THE dress and didn't compliment my figure well.  Back to dress one.  This is the one.  STOP IT RIGHT NOW!  If you're thinking this was a joyous moment and you're excited, just stop it!  There was no joy in this moment, only relief that I wouldn't have to keep shopping and potentially run into this scene again.  I asked my peeps if it was ok if this was the one and they question whether I'm saying this just to get this whole ordeal over with.  I assure them this wasn't the case (although I was ready for it to be over) and this really is the dress for me.  As is tradition at this shop, they ask if this is the dress and have me ring a bell to seal the deal.  Everyone in the shop claps and I look like the most miserable bride.  If you saw the picture from that moment, you would laugh.  F*ck that bell!  I'm over it!
Despite the mess that this experience was, I'm glad I had my mom and sisters there with me.  Maybe one day I'll look back on it and laugh, but the trauma is still too raw right now!  I'm glad to have this experience behind me, and thankful that this was the worst of it and all other wedding planning has gone smoothly.  And I'm so thankful for my grandparents who gave me a generous gift that allowed me to not only pay for my dress, but for Josh's suit as well.  Speaking of Josh's suit, that was actually a great experience (not on the same day).  I cried during this trip also, but they were good tears, the tears I had hoped for on my day!  He looked so handsome and I just couldn't help myself, thinking about walking down the aisle to him.  It was just all too real for me at that moment! 
72 days and counting...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

In The Kitchen || Blueberry Muffins (In a Mug)

In the mood for a blueberry muffin but don't necessarily need a whole dozen?  Or maybe your significant other claims they don't like blueberry muffins even though they devoured a plate of blueberry doughnuts like it was nothing, so you end up with more than you can/should eat by yourself?  Enter the blueberry muffin in a mug!

My only experience with "baking" in a mug was unsuccessful so I was hesitant to try it again.  But after seeing this feature recently, I decided to give it another go but with a few tweaks.  Much to my delight, the muffin in a mug was a success!  I don't know the calorie content of these guys but I'm hoping it's not crazy considering I've eaten one nearly every day the past couple weeks!  The heartiness of the whole wheat flour and ground flax seed fill me up and Ricky Ricardo likes that he gets to sample the blueberries.  It's a treat for everyone!

  • 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t ground flax seed
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 T butter
  • 2 T + 1 t soy milk
  • 1/8 t vanilla extract
  • 2+ T blueberries
  1. Mix the first six ingredients together in a microwave-safe mug until thoroughly combined.
  2. Cut the butter into small chunks and add to dry mixture, working the butter in until no big chunks remain. The mixture should look like moist sand at this point.
  3. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and stir until the mixture is thoroughly combined.
  4. Sprinkles blueberries throughout muffin mixture, pushing a few down so your blueberries are dispersed throughout.
  5. Microwave on high for 80 seconds.  Let cool for a minute--those blueberries will be HOT!
  6. Enjoy!
This has been a great recipe to play around with, substituting different flour types, berries, and spices. Since I have a gluten-free flour on hand, I gave that a go just to compare.  If you're in the mood for a light, true bakery style muffin then this is a great route.  I, however, really dig on the whole wheat flour since it has a denser, more hearty thing going for it.  The ground flax seed is a great addition to add some fiber to, ya know, keep ya regular if that's what you're into!  I normally make myself a muffin before I hit the gym or yoga since it's quick, easy, and fills me up without weighing me down.  I'd like to give cranberries and orange zest a try or maybe create a morning glory style muffin.  The worst that can happen is it's a total failure and I waste one whole muffin, not a dozen.

Happy micro-baking!