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I watch a lot of card-making and scrapbooking videos with my daughter at lunch!  I often wish that I could try out the techniques, but I haven’t always made the time to do so.  Recently, I’m trying to take the time to make more cards, and so I thought that I’d try this masked stamping technique that Kristina Werner showed in a recent video.  This card is a result of stolen minutes throughout a day… first, I chose the stamp set, then I chose the inks… and then I stamped… and I auditioned embellishments in minute increments until I found the right combination.

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It’s a simple technique, but I think it’s really elegant.  I will definitely be trying it again!

The stamps are all Hero Arts, and I used an assortment of pigment inks I’ve purchased from Hobby Lobby and Michaels.  

 

Well, if last week was frustrating, this week was a complete turnaround.  I had so much fun!!  –not to say that the second week wasn’t good: I was just frustrated with my own lack of success and feeling so behind.  This week was completely different.

And it is also not that I was 100% successful!  I discovered a nemesis in bead borders, and I’m not super hot with the grass tip, either, haha!  But I loved –really loved– learning to make different flowers.  I’m not so great at the ruffle border, but when I can turn it into a zinnia–woo hoo!  That is a different story.

After practicing ruffle borders, bead borders (with some shell border thrown in as a recap from last week), grass, and leaves, we moved into making flowers.  After a review of drop flowers, we did daisies, which were trickier than any of us (I think) were expecting.  I’m going to need to practice those babies.  Sunflowers were next, and I was pretty pleased with my beginning attempts!  I couldn’t help but take a photo…

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And then the zinnias.  Hard to make on a practice sheet, but on a cupcake, so fun!  They are definitely my favorite of the flowers we’ve learned.

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I think the best part of the class, though, is the class itself.  I love that even though this was only our third class (of four!), we can joke and laugh and have a great time together.  We celebrate when another has a success, and giggle (with her, not at her, of course!!) about not-so-successful attempts.

At the end of class, we put our new skills to use on our “at least 3-inch treats”– I brought cupcakes again.
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I only had time to frost four of them, but I am really happy with how they turned out.

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I had some time to practice the next evening, and I frosted the remaining cupcakes that I had at home.  I challenged myself to work on the techniques I had struggled with in class– especially the bead border and the sunflower.

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I’m really having a lot of fun with this new hobby!

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

~ ~ ~

Recipe: Slow-cooker Pork Loin with Cranberries and Orange from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 181)

no photo because the one in the book is so much better…

 

  • when did we make this? Monday, May 4, 2015, for supper.
  • did we change anything? No.
  • what did we like?  Moist pork!  Super easy!  Tasted great!
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing :)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?   Yes.  No changes necessary!

 

I’m continuing our challenge from 2013 and 2014 to make at least one new recipe from some of our newer cookbooks each month.  There’s a category on the blog for these posts called “recipe review 2015.”

~ ~ ~

Recipe: Skillet Chicken and Rice from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 57)

ATK skillet chicken and rice

 

  • when did we make this? Thursday, April 28, 2015, for supper.
  • did we change anything? Well, I only used two chicken breasts because I didn’t realize how little chicken I had on hand!  Whoops ;-)
  • what did we like?  The flavors are so good, so much better than the old “chicken-and-rice bake” recipe I used to make (and disliked every time…).  It is quick and it is easy, and it is definitely a weeknight type of meal!
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing :)
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?   Yes.  No changes necessary!

 

The second week’s class focused mainly on preparing an actual cake (and then decorating it!).  We brought our own cakes and our teacher demonstrated how to level and torte them.  Torte is a new term to me– it’s the process of splitting and filling a cake.  I didn’t know there was a technical term!  I was behind from the start because I hadn’t taken my frosting out of the refrigerator early enough (phooey), so it was pretty solid and unworkable!  I watched closely while it warmed up, though, and I was able to almost catch up by the end of the class.  I’d tried to do a smoothly frosted cake a couple times before (my daughter’s, my husband’s), and I actually feel like I did a pretty good job of it this time, even though/especially since I was in a hurry to get back on track with the rest of the class.  Practice really does help, haha!

After our cakes were frosted, we used piping gel to do an image transfer onto the tops of our cakes, then we used our piping skills from last week to fill in the images.  I chose an owl.  I was imitating a picture in our student guide, so our instructor gave me a quick tutorial on making the leaf shapes that I used as his tummy feathers.

 

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This week’s class was a bit frustrating to me, to be honest.  I didn’t like feeling behind (and it was all my own fault!), and then I felt rushed because I was trying to catch up.  I do think that my cake turned out nicely, but I wish that I’d had time to try a border and/or some additional embellishment.

I decided to practice a bit more before our next class, so on Friday night, I got out my leftover frosting and my piping bag and tips.  I practiced on my practice boards first, especially leaves, which I find to be tricky.

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And then I played with the cupcakes… (and I really did want to practice, not just eat cupcakes!  …though that was certainly a nice side benefit…)

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Bring on week three!

I got out the photos and materials for this layout right as I was finishing up the Green Lakes layout.  I wanted to do something that looked completely different, so I challenged myself to find photos with a new color scheme and theme.  I think it’s pretty amazing that these two layouts are made from the same kit!

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The title is cut with my Silhouette using the font Wolf in the City, using some aqua cardstock I had in my scrap drawer.  I’m getting pretty low on embellishments from this kit (Studio Calico’s “Mind the Gap”), so I added in some from my stash.  I added the decorative tape, the rhinestones, and the 3×4 cards (decorative fillers from the Project Life Jade edition). The roller coaster stickers were something that came in a giveaway box I received years ago…I never thought I’d use them!  I rarely use such themed product, but they were absolutely perfect for the story (in which my screaming on a roller coaster and similar rides figures predominantly.  I am NOT a roller coaster fan!).  I’d been watching some of Shimelle’s “As it Happens” process videos and they really helped me get over a mental hurdle I had in composing the embellishment clusters.

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There is a hidden pocket that opens behind the journaling for the park map.

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Again, I’d had the sketch drawn from the (Pagemaps book, page 15), journaling written, and photos printed and waiting, so it was just a matter of constructing the actual layout.

Funny story: it took me a while to actually finish putting the layout together, because I completely ran out of dry adhesive.  I scraped by with glossy accents and (gasp!) rolled-up pieces of acid-free cellophane tape!  Oh my.  There are still loose bits that I will secure once I get my refills…  I just couldn’t let a little thing like no adhesive stop me!  Haha.

So my friend and I finally made it happen, and we are taking a cake decorating class together!  We signed up for the Wilton level 1 class through our local JoAnn.  I am going to post a brief recap of each lesson here so that I can jog my memory later.  There are five ladies in our class, and our first class was a fun evening!

My partner in (cake-decorating) crime!

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

After a lesson on frosting preparation and how to tell how stiff your mixture is, we started getting our hands dirty and mixing up some colors for practicing.  Our teacher had us practice making smooth lines/curves with the #18 tip, and then we moved on to loops.  After loops, we practiced dropping little stars (I found it to be surprisingly hard to eliminate my spiky centers…I just need to slow down and concentrate!), and we used tip #12 to make balloon-like shapes.  Before we finished up class by actually frosting the cupcakes we’d brought, we learned the technique to make big luscious swirls with tip 1M (and as a bonus, our teacher demonstrated drop flowers).

I tried to review the techniques I’d learned as I frosted my cupcakes:

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

cupcakes decorated during session one of Wilton's Building Buttercream Skills

We have a fun group of ladies, so we had laughter throughout the 2-hour class, which made it even better.

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