Friday, October 17, 2014

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Vase | DIY Centerpiece

Last week we had Thanksgiving here in Canada (I know, how weird is it that we don't share the same date for Thanksgiving with the US?). My husband and I were hosting and I wanted to have a pretty centerpiece for the table, but I didn't want to spend a fortune on one that was already made. Not to mention it's pretty difficult to find a pre-made Thanksgiving centerpiece that doesn't involve cheesy turkeys or tacky glittery bouquet inserts that say "Happy Thanksgiving!" on plastic (you know the ones I mean, right?). So I thought I'd try my hand at arranging some flowers using a pumpkin as a vase.

First I found a nice, medium-sized white pumpkin at the grocery store. In previous years, all I could find at the supermarket were the usual standard orange pumpkins – but not anymore! From bumpy, warty-looking green ones to beautiful bright orange "Cinderella" pumpkins, even my local run-of-the-mill supermarket is carrying the "fancy" pumpkins this year. My white pumpkin was from Fred Meyer (Kroger).

I gutted my pumpkin (saving the lid for later in the fridge), then cleaned it in the sink and let it air dry. To add some flair to the white skin I used gold spray paint (my favorite is this one from Rust-Oleum– buy it online, it's way cheaper!) to create an ombré look. I sprayed the bottom heavily, and lightened the spray as I went down the pumpkin. The trick is to use a light hand and spray from a distance, letting each pass dry before spraying the same area again. If you don't do this, you will get drips running down your pumpkin. Remember to stay out of the wind so you don't inhale any paint!

At the grocery store where I bought my pumpkin, I tried to find some pretty seasonal flowers in fall colors. I picked a few chrysanthemums in yellow and white. I would have liked to use something more orange/red, but the flower selection at the store wasn't as great as the pumpkin selection! (I think if I had found a large orange flower to replace the light yellow flowers I used, the result would have been better). I measured my flowers in graduated heights – white flowers were tallest because of their larger size, then medium height for the gold filler mums, and then the light yellow flowers were the shortest since I planned to place them below the other flowers.

I was pleased with how the centerpiece looked when I finished (and after my daughter helped me cut and place all the flowers – critiquing the whole time in the way that only 5-year-olds can get away with). See the top photo for the finished product.

Added bonus: now that the flowers have seen better days, I cleared them out of the pumpkin, and am now left with a pretty white and gold ombré pumpkin for my front porch.

What are (were) your centerpiece plans for Thanksgiving this year?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Hello. | Letterpress Greeting Card Set

If you follow us on Instagram you might have seen some hand lettering work I was doing a while back – and here are some photos of what those illustrations became. With a brush and some sumi ink I completed the lettering, and then created a digital version of my illustration and made it into a printing plate. We printed this "hello" card on Strathmore's Pure Cotton 110 lb. cover, and sets of 4 cards with kraft envelopes are available for purchase from our online shop. Buy a set for yourself or as a gift for someone special (...Christmas is 9 weeks...what?!). 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Simple + Pretty Religious Note Cards

A friend of mine's daughter was recently baptized and oddly enough (for a stationer), I could not find an appropriate card in my stock to give her. I went to the store and for the life of me I could not find a single baptism/Christian card that was not severely cheesy looking or overly ornate. So I put together a very simple cross design and printed it on our press. The cards are now available in sets of 4 note cards with kraft envelopes in our Etsy shop. A blue version and a blind impression (no ink) version will also be available soon.

For religious occasions we also have a few other note card options coming for different faiths. Stay tuned for photos!

Monday, October 6, 2014

The WAHM | Time Saving Beauty Products

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about “doing it all” – as in having kids, scheduling and driving to their activities, organizing and maintaining a home, trying to stay active and fit, and in our cases, also running businesses at the same time. She asked me how I manage to fit everything in, and I replied, “badly” – and we had a laugh. 

The funny thing is, people tell you that as your little ones start to head off to school, you will have all this extra time available – like all of the sudden time will magically fall from the sky and you’ll finally have those few hours you need to tackle all the piles of life you’ve been neglecting or doing in a half-arsed manner since your children were born. I’ve decided these people are the same ones that told me that going from one child to two was easy…and I call these people liars! Since my oldest has started school, there is absolutely no more hours or minutes just floating around waiting for me to snatch them up. In fact, I am probably busier than I have been in my whole life. On the bright side, we can add taxi driver to the list of skills on my résumé.

My friend and I then started talking about getting ourselves ready for the day in the morning, and I told her about my small army of beauty product time savers that I use – tools that I try to fit in between packing lunch, giving the dog his thyroid medicine, keeping my toddler entertained, and answering client emails.

Here are some of my favorites:

  1. JAPONESQUE Color Collection Eye Shadow Crease Brush.I was informed by a makeup artist that if you have little time and are going to bother with eye shadow at all – skip everything but the crease shadow. What? I know. But it seems to work – especially for those of us with hooded or Asian eyelids. Skip the base, highlight, and just get’er done with the crease. Love this Japonesque brush – soft and no tugging.
  2. Batiste Dry Shampoo.Some days there just isn’t time to wash your hair – enter dry shampoo. Batiste makes a great dry shampoo in a range of scents. Spray, massage in, brush and you’re done.
  3. JAPONESQUE HD High-Impact Eyelash Curler.I did not inherit thick nor long eyelashes, and they are stick-straight and hard to curl. Lucky me! For those of you with lash shortcomings, give this Japonesque curler a go. It curls more in the middle than on the sides, and has a much stronger crimp than other models I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot!), so with a little mascara (see #5 below) I feel like I have defied nature.
  4. Benefit Cosmetics Eye Bright Pencil.Um yeah, if you have kids, you need this! I first saw this product used by Carmindy on the show “What Not to Wear”. It is a thick pencil with a light pink eyeliner-like product inside. You apply Eye Bright under your eyes where your dark circles are. Smudge it in. Where did those circles go? Ah-mazing.
  5. Maybelline New York Volume' Express The Rocket Waterproof Mascara.This stuff is the bomb if you have sad little tiny lashes like me. This is the only mascara I have EVER used that actually makes your lashes look thicker, without going all clumpy and gross. The trick with this one is to put it on lightly in one sweep and then leave it. There is no need to build it up or add extra coats – one sweep will do.
  6. The Wet Brush.Probably my favorite hair-related purchase ever other than my straightening iron. With daughters, there is a lot of hair combing going on, and one of mine hates it and is forever whining/crying about it. I read about the Wet Brush in a magazine and finally decided to buy one to try. What a godsend – and it saves me time because there are no more fights or crying in the morning over hair brushing in our home.
  7. BOOTS No7 Pamper Dry Oil Body Spray.Boots is a UK brand we can finally now buy here in North America. This dry oil is great for after the shower and has a fresh clean scent. I use it as a moisturizer that doubles as a slightly perfumed body spray. The spray is not greasy and absorbs quickly, so you can put your clothes on and go.
  8. L'Oreal Paris Magic Skin Beautifier BB Cream.BB cream is nice because it isn’t as thick or as heavy as foundation, but it still provides nice light coverage for everyday. You can smooth this one on with your fingers and it blends very well – no foundation brushes or sponges needed – just put it on like moisturizer. I love an easy and quick product to even your skin out in the morning! (Just a note here – if you have light skin like me, and are on the lighter/porcelain side, but the "Fair" option, as it is actually lighter than their "Light" cream.)
What are your favorite time-saving beauty products?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Etsy Made in Canada Vancouver Market | Tomorrow 10 AM – 5 PM, Robson Square

So what do you have planned for tomorrow? If you are a letterpress lover and want to shop for some new cards, notes, and art prints, I hope you'll come visit our booth tomorrow (September 27th) at the Etsy Made in Canada Vancouver Market at Robson Square.You can check out the lookbook for all the vendors here. If you mention our Adventures in Letterpress blog, we'll be throwing in a little extra treat with your purchase (while supplies last! so come early!). If you are early enough to the show, there are a number of swag bags available with free gifts, samples and coupons, so set those alarm clocks people!

This will be the first show we've attended since 2010 – isn't that crazy? I can't believe it's been 4 years since I set up a booth for a show (our last was a wedding show). Since then we've moved the studio a few times as well, so not only do I have trouble remembering all the items I need to bring with me, but everything is scattered in boxes throughout our storage! I know, I know, I should be better organized, but I'm not when it comes to show prep. Add in two little ones and the first week of school for one of them (because of the teachers' strike), and the start of various fall activities (ballet, gymnastics, swimming, etc.) and this has been the craziest week I've had in a while! This is probably the first time I've sat down for longer than a minute in about 7 days. Phew!

Above I posted a couple of photos of a new art print ("She Is") that we will have available at the Etsy show (and is now also available for purchase on Etsy). This passage from Proverbs is a special one for me and I have one framed for each of my daughters' rooms. Do you have any special quotes up in your home?

If you make it to Etsy Made in Canada tomorrow, be sure to pop in and say hello! We look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Stop Wishing For It | Letterpress Art Print

We've had a couple of emails about the print from our last post, so I just wanted to let you know that the "Stop Wishing for It" print is available for purchase here. Enjoy!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A New Pure Cotton Letterpress Paper & Letterpress Giveaway

For as long as I can remember, finding a great paper to use for letterpress printing has been a challenge. Don't get me wrong, there are thousands of papers that work well for letterpress, but there are few (very few!) that were created specifically for us and our special requirements. It is important that a letterpress paper be able to take varying degrees of impression without cracking, tearing, or bending; all the while retaining a soft, fabric-like texture that most of our clients are looking for. When clients spend on letterpress stationery, they want it printed on a truly fine paper that offers the tactile sensation they are looking for.

I was recently contacted by Mohawk, an American paper mill (est. 1892 - roughly the same time as our presses!) that recently released a new line of papers for letterpress printers: the Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress paper line. The Pure Cotton Letterpress line was designed to emulate the look and feel of handmade papers, and to my delight is available in not only Ultimate (Bright) and Soft White, but also in a Smoke Gray and Chino (a kraft brown). The only thing harder to find than a good letterpress paper is a colored one! Am I right?

Mohawk sent a variety of samples to us and I was excited to test them out. The Pure Cotton Letterpress line is available in 20 pt. and 40 pt. for letterpress printing, and I chose to test the 20 pt. sample first, since this is the weight I would use for most of our stationery work (with the 40 pt. being for clients and brides wanting to make a statement with a thicker stock). The 20 pt. cut nicely:
Next came the ink mixing – for the print I was going to make I decided on a light pink:

Next up was placement of our photopolymer plates from our friends at Boxcar Press, inking up, and registration:

And here is one of our prints on the sample sheet:

As you can see, the 20 pt. takes a nice impression, and the paper has a great texture. This is the Ultimate (bright) White sheet, which is their cooler white option. For invitation work, I would probably opt for the Soft White option, which is a more natural white (but not quite ivory or ecru).

A close-up of the impression and paper texture:

Overall, I am really impressed with the Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress paper. I think what I like most about it is that it seems to be a bit more resilient than some of the other papers we keep in stock. How can a paper be resilient? That sounds weird! But it is. We use another mill's letterpress paper for most of our projects these days, with the odd alternative thrown in here and there – but if you even look at our house paper the wrong way, it dents or marks. I love our house paper, but it's more moody and delicate, and needs special attention when moving it around the studio, cutting it, etc. The Strathmore Letterpress stock feels like it can withstand handling better – which is a big plus. And the extra strength does not come at the expense of the paper's texture, because it is still luxurious and fabric-like.

The new letterpress line also includes envelopes in 80 text to match the various paper colors, and are available with square or Euro (pointed) flaps. You can check out all the paper and envelope options listed in the Pure Cotton Letterpress information sheet. Orders for the Pure Cotton Letterpress line can be made online at or through your local paper merchant.

Our friends at Mohawk have provided us with beautiful sets of cards printed on their letterpress paper that feature variations on the signature Strathmore thistle mark (printed on the different colored papers from the line) for a giveaway here on Adventures in Letterpress.

We will choose 5 winners (!) at random on Sunday, September 14th, 2014 – winners will receive packages of the card sets above (including envelopes). To enter, simply leave a comment below and tell us who you'd send these gorgeous cards to if you won. Please note, this giveaway is open to residents of Canada and the USA only. Please do not leave your email address in the comments section – we will contact the winners for mailing addresses after the contest closes.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Mohawk; however, all opinions expressed are our own. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
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