Janine Vangool, Bonnie Tsang, Haskell Harris, and Caitlin Flemming’s Holiday Card Picks

We’re more than excited to announce our Guest Judges’ picks from three 2016 Holiday Challenges: the Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge, the Hot Off the Press Letterpress Holiday Photo Card Challenge, and the No Business Like Snow Business Challenge. Read more about Minted Guest Judges here.

Guest Judge Pick: Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge

Janine Vangool is the Guest Judge of Minted’s 2016 Cheers to a New Year! Photo Card Challenge. Janine is the publisher, editor, and designer of UPPERCASE, a quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. UPPERCASE publishes content inspired by design, typography, illustration, and craft. Her magazine and books celebrate the process of making, the commitment to craft and the art of living creatively. Janine got her start working as a freelance graphic designer in for arts and culture clients and has also taught typography and publication design at the college level. She has been a shop owner and bookseller, gallery curator, sold a line of greeting cards wholesale, made 10,000 books by hand (with lots of help!) and has sewn her own products for retail. She has a particular fondness for typewriters, a passion that has inspired a book about their graphic history. Her debut fabric collection is launching this June with Windham Fabrics. She is often asked, “Do you ever sleep?” To which she replies, “Yes! By the end of the day I’m exhausted!” She lives in Calgary, Canada, with her boardgame-designing husband and curious son.

Staggered” by Sara Hicks Malone (launching to Minted.com soon!)

Janine Vangool selected “Staggered” by Sara Hicks Malone, saying that she likes the playful yet simple typography. “The card looks fresh and inviting, and the multiple panes for photos makes it a great choice for a family card,” Janine says.

Sara Hicks Malone is an artist from Nashville, Tennessee, who joined the Minted artist community in 2011 and has won 165 awards in Minted Challenges.


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DIY: Colorful Bat Cake Toppers

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

Who says Halloween has to be scary? These rainbow bats certainly don’t think so! Use colorful cupcake liners and pom poms to craft these friendly little bats to decorate your Halloween treats this year! They’d be pretty cute sitting atop a pumpkin loaf, don’t you think?

Colorful Bat Cake Toppers | JulepColorful Bat Cake Toppers | Julep

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

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Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails: The Drowned Rat

The final installment in our series of horror movie-inspired Halloween cocktails: The Drowned Rat. Inspired by the classic 1971 horror flick Willard, this fiendish cocktail is a fitting tribute to the furry stars of the film, resembling a rat that encounters a grisly end at the bottom of a cup of sewer sludge. But this macabre trick is an actual treat—the libation features hints of chocolate and creamy stout beer. And the rat tail? A simple roasted beet.


More Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails:
• The Spider Bite (inspired by Arachnophobia)
The Eel Charmer (inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) 


drowned rat halloween cocktail by kelli hall for minted, guiness float with roasted beet rat tail
roasted beet rat tail garnish for halloween cocktailRoasted beet tails make the perfect rat-rump garnish.

drowned rat halloween cocktail by kelli hall for minted, guiness float with roasted beet rat tail

Click through for the recipe for The Drowned Rat

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Recipe: Peanut-Butter Pretzel Popcorn Balls

When I think about classic, homemade Halloween treats, popcorn balls are the first thing that come to mind. I wanted to make some this year but instead of regular versions, I decided to make really over-the-top popcorn balls loaded with all kinds of delicious treats! Peanut-butter cups and pretzels have the perfect salty-sweet flavor combination that I love, and they happen to go great with popcorn. These popcorn balls are chocolatey, peanut buttery, salty, and chewy—perfect for little kids but so yummy that adults won’t be able to resist!

These yummy peanut butter pretzel popcorn balls will be irresistible to kids and adults alike!

Click through for the ingredients and instructions…

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DIY: Halloween in a Box

Halloween is on Monday but there’s still a wee bit of time to pop a fun package in the mail for a pal or to boo your neighbor. Here are some frightfully fun ideas to include that will help the recipient get into the Halloween spirit.

halloween package

Click through for ideas on what to include in your Halloween in a Box

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Throw a Spooky Halloween Party

Written by Alicia Johnson and Betsey Hodge of  Happy Wish Company

Spiders, pumpkins, and bats, OH MY! Get in the trick-or-treat spirit with our spooky Halloween party. Minted’s creepy-crawly “Let’s Get Spooky!” invite (also available as a free online Halloween party invitation) set the stage for a classic orange, black, and white color scheme. Your little ghosts and goblins will have fun haunting your party—they can dress up in their spook-tacular costumes, carve pumpkins, and, of course, eat all the sweets! Keep reading to learn how to make a Halloween balloon garland, friendly ghost cupcakes, and amazing frosted-skull sugar cookies…

Minted Halloween Party Invitations

DIY: Creepy-Crawly Balloon Backdrop
Our DIY kit includes everything you need to make a haunted balloon garland to set a spooky mood but you can make one on your own, too! Use a combination of large and small Halloween-colored balloons like orange, black, and silver in a mixture of solids and polka dots. Have you ever used a balloon decorating strip? It’s clear plastic strip with perforated holes that you use as a template for your balloon garland; the strip can hold up to 12 latex balloons per foot. Simply pull the knotted ends of inflated balloons through the evenly spaced holes and trim the strip to the right length. To increase the fright factor, you can add pulled-cotton spider webs and eerie eyeballs made out of construction paper. The kids will love it!

Click through for more from our spooky Halloween party

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Meet a Minted Artist: Leah Bisch

Leah Bisch certainly is a talented graphic designer – especially for someone who majored in physical geography and originally intended to be a meteorologist. As she tells the story, Leah was always dropping in and out of art classes in elementary and high school, “but it never occurred to me that I could make a career out of it.”

Here, the Los Angeles Minted artist talks more about life as a part-time happy-go-lucky designer and part-time crazed-toddler-mommy.

Where did you go to school?
While I loved art and illustration, I ended up earning my BA from UC Santa Barbara in physical geography. I know—what? My studies focused on the planet and its processes, like weather and natural disasters. I’ve always had a strange fascination with weather—I’m actually irrationally terrified of thunderstorms, so I guess it’s a good thing I live in sunny Southern California. When I was a child, my dad owned a roofing company and he was always watching the weather channel to keep an eye out for rain in the forecast. I remember being interested in watching how weather patterns form and it seemed like a cool career.

So how did you go from geography student to artist?
After college, I eventually found myself working in marketing for a winery in Malibu. We didn’t have the budget to hire designers to create promotional items, so it was on my shoulders to create email blasts, event invitations, and flyers for the company. I found that I got swept up in that kind of work—in a good way. However, I soon felt limited in my design capabilities and wanted to get a formal education to enhance my skills. I enrolled in evening design classes at Otis College of Art and Design. The more classes I took, the more I wanted to learn, and I eventually left my job and enrolled in classes full time at Santa Monica College (SMC). The program at SMC gave me a solid foundation in the fundamentals of design like typography, layout and color theory. I also committed myself to reading every design book I could get my hands on.

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DIY: Rosé Halloween Costume

Written by Kathleen Ballos of  Snowdrop & Co

Halloween always seems to sneak up on me! Stepping foot into a party store this time of year can be a bit crazy, so I put together this quick DIY costume for my fellow procrastinators out there. It feels like 2016 has been the year of rosé, so why not celebrate by dressing up as the pink wine itself? Cheers!!

Rosé Halloween Costume | Julep

Click through for full instructions …

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Minted Real Wedding: Cassie & Scott in Aubrey, TX

Cassie and Scott, after a doozy of a wedding proposal in Aruba (involving Cassie passing out!), decided to tie the knot at The Grove, a stunning alfresco venue in Aubrey, TX. The couple sent out Minted save the dates (“Sweet Embrace” by Hooray Creative) and foil-pressed wedding invitations (“Engraved Flowers” by Phrosné Ras), then exchanged teary “I dos” before their 95 guests (including many of the groom’s family members who had traveled all the way from Australia).

Minted Real Wedding at The Grove in Aubrey, Texas

Bride and groom: Cassandra Tipps & Scott Mcguinness
Occupations: Professional figure skating coach (Cassie); PGA Tour caddy (Scott)
Based in: McKinney, Texas
Wedding dateNovember 14, 2015
Venue: The Grove, Aubrey, Texas
Number of guests: About 95
Minted save-the-date card:Sweet Embrace” by Hooray Creative
Minted wedding invitation: “Engraved Flowers” by Phrosné Ras
Wedding planner: Wendy Kay from Birds of a Feather Events
Florist: The Southern Table
Cake designer: Jar Cakery
Photographer: Apryl Ann Photography

How did you and Scott meet?
Scotty and I met at Christie’s Sports Bar in uptown Dallas. A girlfriend of mine and I went to the restaurant/bar to watch one of the Dallas Stars playoff games. (My friend and I were ice girls at the time for the NHL hockey team, so we were and are pretty big hockey fans.) We sat in a booth towards the back by ourselves, ordered food, and focused our attention on the game. Scotty and his friend were sitting nearby—his friend ended up saying hi first, but it didn’t take long for Scotty (who was pretty shy at first) to come over and sit across from me after my friend got up to go to the bathroom. We continued to talk and the game ended, and as we were walking out he asked for my number so we could hang out soon. The rest is history!

Tell us about the proposal!
Okay, so I have a story for ya… The second week of December 2014, I had a weeklong break from work, so Scotty and I took off to Aruba for a nice, warm vacation. (Little did I know he had already asked my father for my hand and bought a ring.)

The day that he proposed was a doozy. We had planned to go on a four-hour excursion to the south part of the island with a tour group; our first stop was a natural pool surrounded by volcanic rock. When I got in the water, I struggled with my flotation device and I remember kicking a sharp rock. I got out and one of our guides noticed I had cut my foot and was bleeding. Now, anyone who knows me knows I don’t do well in these situations—I sat down and suddenly felt queasy. While holding on to Scotty and trying not to pay attention to the guy cleaning me up, I passed out. Fell into Scotty arms. Out cold. I came to about a minute later and was very out of it. “Where am I? Why do I hear water?” The rest of the day was a slow one. Being bandaged up and very groggy, I told Scotty I didn’t know if I was up for dinner that night and he put absolutely no pressure on me to go, which I loved. Thankfully, I decided to suck it up and go out—we were in Aruba, after all!

Little did I know that Scotty had it all planned: a table on the beach with a perfect view of the sunset (I thought we just got lucky!). After dinner, it took forever for our check to come. Scotty went to “ask” for it and our waiter came over and suggested we take more photos. This was weird to me since it was dark by this time, but we stood up and suddenly the saxophone player, who had been playing for the restaurant, walked over playing “All of Me” by John Legend. Next thing I know Scotty is saying “I love you so much,” crying, and fumbling with this little blue bag (Tiffany!). He got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” I started crying and said “YES!” I kissed him, we hugged, and the all of the guests at the restaurant clapped and cheered. What. A. Day.

Minted Real Wedding at The Grove in Aubrey, Texas

Who made your wedding dress?
Wtoo by Watters

What was the wedding-dress shopping process like?
Fun. I loved seeing how different dress styles looked on me—big and poofy, slim and classic. I definitely wasn’t a “first dress” girl. It took me a little while to realize what I wanted. And my mom, who is a dressmaker, was there every step of the way to help me, as well.

Click through for more from Cassie and Scott’s wedding

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Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails: The Spider Bite

Next up in our horror movie-inspired series of Halloween cocktails: The Spider Bite. It’s an Arachnophobia-themed libation that’s a fitting homage to the deadly arachnid nest in the film. In the spirit of the film, the drink is infested with an oozing overflow of gelatinous spider eggs, threatening to burst open and release a torrent of tiny hatchlings. But don’t let its sinister look fool you—this cocktail is actually silk sweet and full of rich coffee flavors (the spider eggs are simply tapioca pearls with flecks of vanilla bean!).


More Horror Movie-Inspired Cocktails:
• The Spider Bite (inspired by Arachnophobia)
The Eel Charmer (inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) 


halloween horror inspired cocktails by kelli hall: Spider bite black russian with tapioca pearl spider sac garnish
A shallow glass like a coupe will help the “spider eggs” float to the top when filled with ice.

halloween horror inspired cocktails by kelli hall: Spider bite black russian with tapioca pearl spider sac garnishTapioca pearls with flecks of vanilla bean shine like spider sacs, ready to hatch.

Click through for the recipe for The Spider Bite cocktail

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