Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Wishes Update - Artistamps


#3. make at least 2 new artistamps

Hurray! I did it!  This one of Ms. Frizzle I drew, scanned and designed on the computer a long time ago, but never printed it out. I have to go over to the UPS store across the street to print things. Lazy bones!

And here are the new two:

 Pie stamps, because duh. 
Snickers pie and strawberry pie.

 Instead of writing out Pie Post on the stamp I went for a symbol. I was inspired by the UK's Royal Mail with the silhouette of the queen. See here:

I am quite happy with how they turned out. I think next time the numbers need to be bigger and the stamp itself needs to be smaller. The Snickers Pie stamps were a pretty good size, but the Strawberry Pie and Frizzle stamps were more than twice as big as normal stamps.

And here they are in action:

and a few included inside:

 Ms. Bea posing with artistamped mail art. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Getting back to drawing

Yesterday I had a very fruitful internet dally... I'm going to lift a few lines off of something Tara over at dactyl life posted yesterday:

"I've been really into sending quality mail lately. It's super easy to stray away from packing an envelope full of random paper bits, weird stickers, zines and other oddities. I find that the more things I stuff into an envelope, the more I fall in love with sending mail." 

There certainly is a thrill in getting an envelope packed with bits and pieces.

I know the feeling Tara is talking about. I enjoy sending out any mail, but I feel sometimes like I'm not giving it what I could.  Like I'm stuck in the routine of making an envelope out of some page of a book, adding a label, some washi tape and a stamp and I'm done.* I sometimes feel like washi tape is a crutch.

There was a time when I would sketch on my mail frequently. I miss drawing.
Drawing makes me feel at peace when I'm doing it, and filled with accomplishment and pride when I'm finished.

With more time on my hands now that it's summer I've been wanting to get back to drawing, but just wasn't managing to get out the materials and get on it.

Yesterday I found a lovely trail of inspiration: 
Mary England of Uncustomary Art posted on facebook about this self love bible by Caylee Grey. And that linked to Mary's self love bible. And that linked to Marielle's self love bible.

I explored her blog a bit and found this:
"The challenge: Every day, illustrate an experience you've shared with a loved one."

This idea excited me so much! It was just the impetus I needed to get out my watercolors and start sketching.

I made this this morning:

I'm really happy with how it turned out. Yes the line drawing is a little wonky, but I always find that when you add watercolors things just magically become cute.

I'm really looking forward to continuing with this series. It has a very social aspect to it that I like a lot. I personally am drawn to artwork (get it? heh heh) that is social- mail art being a very important part!

These sketches are in a notebook, but I'm also looking forward to starting to sketch and watercolor more on my mailart.

*Also I want to say that in my words above, I am not disparaging anyone's letters, envelopes or mailart. All mail is good mail!! I just missed drawing and have felt like I'm in a mail art rut of sameness.  :-)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer Wishes Update - Cheesecake

June 23rd and I've accomplished 2 of my summer wishes!

#5. experiment with cheesecake
So I wanted to experiment with cheesecake because I am planning to make 2 cheesecakes for my wedding.  My dad can't eat gluten so we want to have something that he can eat. Also, Clay and I LOVE cheesecake and it would be fun to have it at our wedding.  We'll also be having some regular (bought!) sheet cakes for the majority of people there. 

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but shortly after I made my list I made two cheesecakes with two different recipes. I had a party and a cheesecake testing.  People voted on best filling and best crust.
The first recipe I tried was from the Cook's Illustrated Cookbook.
The second was this recipe from The Food Network website. Unfortunately I took this cheesecake out of the oven too soon, and it was a little goopy. The recipe says "The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook." and so I took it out before I thought it was ready because of this. Next time I'll wait longer.

I wanted to make a completely gluten free cheesecake so that my dad could eat it. It's not hard to do, because only the crust has gluten to begin with.  I chose gluten free shortbread cookies and smashed them to crumbs for one crust, and then for the second crust I chose a gluten-full shortbread cookie and did the same thing.

So the moment of truth...  
The second recipe from the Food Network won out for the filling. It has more sour cream in it than the other recipe and we thought that this probably lent it the lighter, tarter flavor that it had.

And.... people actually preferred the gluten free crust!!!

Interesting, eh?

I still have more experiments to do.  I'm going to make another cheesecake using the Food Network recipe again. Hopefully I can get it un-goopy. I also want to try it with an animal cookie crust, which Clay and his mom swear is the best. I'm planning on making one larger gluten-free cheesecake and one smaller gluten-full one for me and Clay and whoever else wants it.

Coming soon:   #3. make at least 2 new artistamps

Monday, June 23, 2014

Writing Gym

My fiancé goes to the gym several times a week with a gym buddy because it's much easier to make yourself do something when you'd have to cancel on another person. Clay and most of our friends are academics and they are all trying to write and get published in journals. They had the idea to apply this gym buddy idea to writing and now, twice a week they go to "writing gym". They meet at the public library with their laptops and spend an hour and a half writing, and not talking much. Earlier this week I went with them for the first time.

I brought a bunch of thank you notes I wanted to write for my bridal shower.

Handmade thank you cards inside some envelopes left over from a super cute stationery set.  I think the bird stamps are so beautiful. I love that there's an Baltimore Oriole on one! Go Maryland!

It was really nice to sit with company and work on them. I got ten done!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Pink Granny Apple Pie

I finally made the traditional apple pie.
This was made at the request of my friend Joseph.

I used a combination of Pink Lady apples and  Granny Smith apples. I was unsure whether to name this a Pink Granny Pie, or a Lady Smith Pie. Which name do you prefer? :)

 I crimped the crust by crisscrossing the tines of a fork around the edge.

 I think it came out looking quite beautiful!

I love pies that look rustic.

The recipe I used was from the Brown Eyed Baker as usual.  I was happy with how the pie came out and Clay and my friends all really loved it, but I have a hard time getting behind apple pie. I'm not a huge fan of cooked apples and it's just always a little bit disappointing to me. I much more enjoy pies with berries in them.

This pie was made back in April, so it doesn't count towards my Summer Wishes... I am looking forward to making some new pies this summer and maybe revisiting some of my favorites!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Incoming mail



Some postcards:

from my mama, who enjoys photography and making her own cards and postcards
She said this reminds her of her mother who was a formidable game player. 

from my friend Caitlin, who went to New Orleans to run a 5k with her family! She saw two alligators while she was there!

Some letters:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A New York Minute

I took a trip to New York for 2 days to see my brother and his growing family. It went by so fast, I wish I could have stayed longer.

My sister-in-law, LaTonya is expecting and the baby should be coming any minute now, so we didn't stray too far from home. We took a trip to the Promenade (above), walked around their neighborhood, and went out to eat a few times.


Their neighborhood is absolutely gorgeous. Lots of lovely old buildings with little gardens out front. Although I'm not a city person, I'm sure I could be happy living here:

I stayed at an air b'n'b just a couple blocks away from their building and had my first cappuccinos there! They had an espresso machine and they showed me how to use it, steaming the milk and everything.

I had been hoping that the baby would arrive while I was there, but babies come in their own time. LaTonya is definitely ready! In any case I'll meet him in a little more than a month when I'm back on the East Coast!

Normally I don't post personal photos on my blog, but my sister-in-law has her own fashion/lifestyle blog  ( where she has lots of pictures of her and her family.

She's also started her own business, Welkin NYC, a fashion line for children inspired by the urban life in New York. A lot of the pieces are gender neutral so that they can be passed down to the next child whether it is a boy or girl. I love that idea! My niece, River, models a lot of the clothing and I know I'm biased, but I'm pretty sure she's the cutest little girl ever.