Friday, November 18, 2011


You know, Pocketeers, sometimes things just don't work.  I have been struggling with some of the most basic of stamping skills, and it's driving me crazy.  But I realize that sometimes there's just something that is jinxed and you should be able to do it but it just won't come out right, so I have decided to share mine with you so maybe you won't feel so bad if/when that happens to you.

It all started with this:
I embossed the leaves using Gathered Twigs Distress Ink and clear embossing powder, then inked over it with Ripe Persimmon Distress Ink.  Now, look closer:

 The embossing powder refused to cooperate.  I tried everything.  I polled the GPP Street Team group on Facebook.  I took their advice.  I used a little brush to wipe away stray grains outside the stamp.  I wiped it with a dryer sheet before stamping to avoid static cling.  Nothing worked.  Eventually, I found one discussion forum that talked about having no end of trouble with the particular brand of embossing powder that I was using, so I decided it must be a powder problem and accepted it.  I inked the orange on first, dried it with a heat gun, let it sit overnight to be good and dry, and did my stamping over it.  The result:  little orange stray embossing dots.  Better than off-white at least.  And my background is finished.

That was last week.  This week, I'm still having trouble with the embossing powder not distributing evenly, but at least it's not clinging everywhere it's not supposed to.  But there is of course a new problem.

Ladies and gentlemen (do I get any gentleman readers?), meet my Nemesis:
I love these stamps.  They're the "Pumpkins & Flourish" set from Inkadinkado.  And when I ordered them I couldn't wait for them to come in.  Now I am about ready to throw them out the window.  I love clear stamps.  I love the designs that come in clear stamps, I love that they're so compact, I love that I can see through them to position them exactly where I want.  I do not love that my Distress Ink beads up on them more than rain beads on my Rain-Ex coated windshield.  Because then you get this crap:
See how bubbly that looks?  What The Fruitcake?!?!  Even with the awful embossing, the regular rubber leaf of last week at least took the ink evenly.  Without embossing, this is some of my copious amounts of testing:

(Ok there's a little embossing on the right side of this image)
That damn leaf will NOT come out solid.  Not in this color, not in these colors:

Incidentally, Archival Ink works just fine:

Again I turned to the intarwebz.  Taking advice from various online sources, I tried letting Archival Ink dry on its surface (FAIL - all it did was come off with the Distress Ink), I tried using an eraser to clean the manufacturer's finish off of it, I tried sanding it lightly with an emery board, I tried washing it with soap and water... All I got was a big bucket of FAIL.  The best image I got at all with the inks I wanted to use was this:

Still not solid, still not crisp.

On a whim, I experimented with Distress Clear Embossing Ink.  The stamp finally seemed to like that and gave me a clear, solid image.  So I tried a different embossing powder.  

It's obnoxiously perfect.  So I guess all I have to do is not use Distress Ink in any sort of color on my clear stamps.  Which is extremely frustrating.  I use those inks because I love the colors!  So I can either continue to beat my head against the wall (figuratively) by trying over and over again, or I can limit how much I can use in my work.  

I don't like those options. 

Stupid stamp.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Experimental Dinner

I have to share my dinner with you.  In a virtual way.  Because I made it up, and I'm very proud of how it turned out:


I wanted to write down the recipe and share it, but I made it up as I went along, so I can tell you what I did but the measurements will be imprecise.  In case you want it, here's the how-to:

Italian-style Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 4
You'll need:
2 acorn squash
olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
about a half pound of ground beef
about 1 1/4 teaspoon of dried sage
a handful of parsley, chopped coarsely
salt and pepper
a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
a little over 1 cup of stuffing mix or if you're like me, the heel of a small loaf of french bread, cubed and toasted in a skillet because you have that but not stuffing mix and you want bread cubes in the filling
grated parmesan cheese
a large skillet
a baking dish
knives and stuff... ok you get the idea

So you preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and while that's preheating, lightly grease the baking dish (I sprayed it with olive oil), halve the acorn squash, scoop out the seeds, and lay the halves cut-side down in the baking dish.  When the oven is ready, put that in and set a timer for 30 minutes.

While that's in, coat the bottom of the skillet with olive oil, heat it over medium heat, and put the garlic in.  Try not to burn it like me.  When the garlic is nicely sauteed, stick in the ground beef and brown it.

Season the ground beef and garlic with the sage, parsley, salt and pepper until it tastes good.  Really, this was trial and error.  (Try to account for the fact that you will be adding more stuff and over-season it just a smidge - otherwise you'll end up adding more after the next step like I had to.)

Add your (drained!) diced tomatoes, your parmesan, and your bread cubes/stuffing mix.  Stir it all up and let it simmer for a few minutes while the squash finishes roasting.

When the timer goes off, check your squash to make sure a knife will easily pierce the skin - that's how you know it's done (according to the interwebs).  Take it out of the oven, flip the squash halves over so they're little bowls (yes they will probably roll around a little and not sit straight), and fill them with the mixture.  Spray with a little olive oil to keep it all moist and sprinkle parmesan on top.  Stick in the oven for another 5-10 minutes to get the cheese a little melty, remove, and serve.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy! (As my Latin professor used to say.)

Okay, so I'm not likely to be publishing a cookbook anytime soon, and the world is a better, less frustrated place for that.  But if this sounds good to you, give it a try and let me know what you think!