Monday, June 27, 2016

4th of July Altar Candles

So, I know, I've done so many of these altar candles that I made them their very own tag. Check out all of them here: Dollar Tree Altar Candles. But...I hadn't done any of the 4th of July yet, so I found some cute star napkins at Target and knew that just had to be my next altar candle project.

To decorate plain altar candles with napkins, you'll need Mod Podge, a small foam brush, a scissors, altar candles, and napkins.

Cut your napkins to the size of your candle. I usually cut them a smidge long and wrap the excess over the bottom edge. Your napkin will probably be two layers--a printed top layer and a white second layer. When you cut the napkin, it should be easy to pull the excess white layer off. You could leave it, but I'd be worried about the glue not saturating to the second layer and not sticking, so I pull it apart.

Next, line up one of the straight sides with the seam in your candle holder and along the top edge. Then paint a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the candle. I usually start with about an inch or so. Tap the napkin into place making sure it's straight. After you have it started, it's easy peasy. Just paint the glue in a thin layer onto the candle and tap the napkin into place. Be careful to keep your fingers dry so you don't tear or smudge the napkin.

When you've glued the napkin in place, I turn it upside down and glue the bottom edge down over the bottom of the candle.

Then leave it to dry. Do not handle or try to paint another layer of glue onto your candle until it's had a little time to set. I'd recommend at least a half hour.

I left mine to dry overnight and then painted another thin layer of Mod Podge onto the top of the napkins to seal it. And that's it--super easy and a great table or deck decoration for your 4th of July celebrations.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Camping Quesorittos

It's been a busy month so far, so I have to take a break from crafting this week and share a recipe that we tried out from our camping trip a couple of week's ago.

Each time we go camping I try to plan for one wild card recipe--something new to try. Sometimes I make up my own recipes and sometimes I just adjust one I find online. This year I saw somewhere the idea to make quesadillas in a pie iron, but I was worried about how crispy they'd end up being, so I figured a foil packet quesadilla would work better.

I mixed my quesadilla toppings in a bowl: precooked chicken (Tyson and Oscar Mayer both make good fridge packets that work great for camping), onion, shredded mexican cheese blend, and real bacon bits. Of courses you could put whatever you like on your quesadillas in the mix. One container of Oscar Mayer chicken and less than one 8oz bag of shredded cheese made 4 quesorittos. I spooned a quarter of the toppings onto each tortilla.

In order to keep the cheese from leaking all over, I wrapped the tortillas up burrito style with the ends tucked in, and then wrapped each quesoritto in heavy duty tinfoil. They were then cooked over charcoals that were spread into a flat layer with the grate positioned low over top. They were then turned and rotated regularly. I didn't time how long it took, but I'd guess about 10 minutes with all of the turning and rotating. We took one off of the grill and opened up the foil to check it, It was hot all around, but not burnt yet, so we called it and served them with salsa and sour cream.

They turned out great and we'll definitely make them again--maybe even on the home grill if we keep having these 97 degree days.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Cuttlebug Die Cutting Part 2

Last week I showed you the basics of die cutting Cuttlebug brand shape dies in the Cuttlebug machine. (If you want to learn the Basics of Embossing with the Cuttlebug, click the link.) It's super simple once you learn the order of the plates. A lot of the dies that you run into these days though are not as simple as those shape dies. So today we'll go through how to die cut with metal plate style dies.

As seen in the top photo, the sandwich is the same for the plate dies as with the shape dies (from the bottom): A spacer plate, B plate, your die, paper, C plate. With these plate dies, though, you often won't get a crisp cut on the first trip through the machine. You'll need to run it back and forth in the machine a couple times to get the cut above, which did not completely cut through the middle of the tree.

So after the first trip through, turn the die and put a piece of paper under the die as a shim to improve the cut. Run it through the machine again, cranking forward and backward to try to get good coverage. If it's still not cut all the way through, you can add a second piece of paper under the die.

When you can see the outline of the die clearly, then you can remove the cut paper.

This is where it gets to be a bit of a pain. See all of those little holes on the back side of the plate? Use a toothpick or stylus to start poking the paper out of the die. This one was very thin intricate cut, so I had to poke pretty much every hole to get it out of the die.

So how can we make that process of getting the paper out of the die a bit easier? Well I heard about a trick that helps by using wax paper with your dies, so I thought I'd give a try.

Cut a piece of wax paper the size of your die and place it between the die and the paper in your plate sandwich. Then run it through the machine cranking it back and forth just like before.

This die gets a better cut the first time than the tree--that coupled with the added thickness of the wax paper and the die cut perfectly on its first trip through. Then I used the toothpick to pop the top butterfly loose from the holes on the back, and I was able to peel the whole piece of paper out of the die without having to poke all the holes--it was like magic!

So then I thought, well, what if I want to do another piece of paper--do I need to poke out the leftover pieces of paper and use another piece of wax paper? I needed to use a piece of cardstock as a shim to get a good cut, but the second time through without cleaning the die worked fine for this die.

I decided to press my luck, but the 3rd trip through, even with two paper shims, didn't quite cut the die completely, but it did come out of the die easily still.

When I was done, I poked the excess paper out and even had a nice cut out in wax paper that looked a little like vellum. I'd give this tip a giant thumbs up!

Of course if you notice a waxy build up, you'll want to clean off your die with some warm water and a brush, but I'd say it's worth a shot if you have a very intricate die that paper doesn't want to come free from.

If you have a die like this that also has open areas of embossing, they get run through the machine a second time before you pull the paper off the die, but the second time with an embossing mat and the other B plate instead of the C plate. When I get some dies that have embossed areas, I'll share a tutorial of that process too.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cuttlebug Die Cutting Part 1

I got a Cuttlebug machine last year (click the link for a basic embossing tutorial). I haven't used it too much. One of the reasons I wanted to buy one was because it could both emboss and die cut and that many types of dies and embossing tools worked in the Cuttlebug. Unfortunately, the base model does not come with the C plate that you need to die cut. So that has to be purchased extra. I have the C plate and some dies to try out now, so I thought I'd walk you through the process.

To cut with Cuttlebug brand dies, you'll need to start with the A spacer plate (the thick white one), followed by a B plate (that you'd use for embossing), then the die(s), a piece of paper, and the C plate (for die cutting). Stack them all up and crank them through the machine. As you can see in the shot above, the dies will cut into your C plate and leave it all marked up. 

One crank and your designs are cut. These came from the "Labels and Such" set. You could even stack another piece of cardstock in here and get a good crisp cut. It was super simple, the pieces popped right out. I'll definitely be looking into buying more of these Cuttlebug brand shape dies as they work so slick.

Next week I'll show you how to use the more intricate plate/wafer metal dies with the Cuttlebug.