Monthly Archives: August 2010

A Little Show and Tell

My training and professional experience is in graphic design, which gives me skills I’m glad to have when things I care about need advertising: sister’s wedding, and some upcoming church events being two such things. Recently, two of my design projects came back from the print shop and I thought I’d show them here with a few “behind-the-scenes” tidbits you may find interesting.

Project#1: Women’s Retreat Flyer

  • This was my second attempt with the fancy-pants camera I’ve talked about before (doesn’t belong to me!) This time, I studied up on the manual before the photo shoot, and the pics came out much better.
  • I did lots of research on 50’s motels and advertising to find shapes that said “retro.” I think its so fascinating that such a simple thing like a shape (like the diamonds in the background) or a line (like the white vertical lines on the left) that identifies it as being from one decade or another.
  • We wanted the photos to have a retro feel, so we did the photo shoot in the kitchen of a friend’s 100 year old house.

Project #2: Reclamation Project Flyer

  • Here’s the before and after of the main image (I didn’t take the photo that I used on the front of this flyer, but I did modify it to suit our purposes!) We had the perfect image of an old house, but we really needed it to be a church. So I did a little “remodeling.” Do you see the differences? This is the magic of Photoshop…


The Bachelorette Party

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OK, I’m back from vacation visiting family in Colorado, and back from the bachelorette weekend immediately following. So much fun. Here’s a few highlights from the bacelorette party we planned: I designed Tiffany’s themed invites to set the stage. The … Continue reading


Pear Disaster Cake

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Lest you think that every endeavor turns out to be easy, or that all my cooking is adventure-free (no one actually thought those things, did they?) I bring you: last nights’ baked failure. I decided to whip up a quick … Continue reading

An idea for your Pear Butter

I mentioned pear ravioli yesterday. This is one of those recipes that has a high wow-factor, but is really really simple. I’m not kidding (I’m talking 30 minutes start to finish). Making ravioli might not sound easy, but there’s a kitchen hack to speed up the process and make it realistic for a quick dinner.

Use egg-roll wrappers for the pasta dough. Its already rolled out the proper thickness, and is cut in handy little squares which makes it very easy to work with. I found these in the produce section of Safeway, on sale for a dollar.

I made a two part filling. One part was the cheese, which I used a quarter stick of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of parmesean and 1/4 cup shredded mozzerella. Normally I might add other herbs to season the cheese, but I didn’t want the pear/thyme flavor to overpowered by anything.

Second part was the pear-thyme butter, straight from the jar.

Put a teaspoon of cheese mixture on the center of the dough, put a little dollop of pear butter on top, and swipe the surface of the dough with a pastry brush dipped in cornstarch/water. Cover with the other eggroll wrapper and press the dough firmly together all around the mound of filling, working out from the center to push air bubbles out and cupping your hands to avoid squishing the filling (don’t actually push down on the mound of filling or it will spread and make a mess!). A good seal is important here since you don’t want it to leak.

If you have a cookie cutter large enough to leave a 3/4 inch border of dough around the filling, use that to punch out the ravioli. If not, use scissors to cut the excess dough off (this excess can later be fried up  for munching or Chinese chicken salad topping).

You can see that I didn’t cut perfect circles, and they still tasted great. Get a shallow saucepan boiling with a few inches of water. You don’t want the ravioli to touch the bottom of the pan. Set them in a single layer in the boiling water, cover, and simmer on med-high, for 4 minutes. Remove raviolis to a serving platter and keep warm in the oven while you cook the next batch. I’d recommend keeping them in a single layer on the platter, or drizzling with oil before stacking more on top. These tend to stick together if left for too long.

We ate these drizzled with herbed browned butter… How do I top a sentence like that?

Pear-Thyme Butter

Well by now I believe you’ve seen me scramble my way through the cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums that are wonderfully growing in the yard. Now we’re onto the pears, and I see the light with only apples and pomegranates left. whew! I am SO thankful that things ripen in succession and not all at once! I’ve been diligently canning, freezing and baking up the fruit, and have only just discovered a tool that is a huge timesaver for canning – my crockpot!

This batch of pear butter was so easy in the slow-cooker. I chopped up the fruit, seed, skin and all, and threw it in the crockpot overnight. The next morning I pressed it through a colander to filter out the seeds, and that’s it. I canned mine, but you certainly don’t need to- Hubbs and I would have eaten the whole batch with no trouble, I’m sure.

  1. Fill a crockpot with roughly cut up pears. Mine weren’t ripe enough to eat yet, but still worked beautifully.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cup of sugar (brown or white) or honey.
  3. Cook on low overnight.
  4. Pour into  colander over a large pot, and use the back of a large ladle or spoon to push the pears through the holes.
  5. Stir in 2 T fresh thyme leaves (optional, yes, but a delicious option if you are going to want to eat this with cheese, which you will!)  2 T lemon juice, 1/2 t lemon zest.
  6. If canning, heat the pear mixture till almost boiling, pour into sterilized jars and process for 15 minutes.

I’ve already licked many spoons full of this pear butter, made some pear ravioli (more about that later) and have eaten it with cream cheese on crackers. I’m pretty positive that someday this fall, on a cozy rainy day, I’m going to make a grilled cheese sandwich with brie and pear-thyme butter, and look at the rain and think about summer… I’m definitely going to need to ration this stuff.

Summertime T-Shirts

Sister has this way of making shirts that always turn out – they’re always easy, always fun, and always look really impressive when they’re done. Her secret is using stickers as stencils for spray-on fabric paint. She and these two cuties were making summertime shirts at our house the other day, and so I documented the process.

You can see the leftovers from lots of shirts that have been made over the years, and she’s got quite a collection to pick from.

Stick the stickers directly on the shirt to spell out whatever you want to say. Cutting out around the sticker “outsides”  (you know, the part you don’t peel off of the sticker sheets) is tricky, but will let you spray colored shapes letters, like those polka-dots you see below.

Then use fabric paint in little spray bottles that you get from the craft store to spray paint all over all your sticker-stencils. Be sure to cover each sticker completely with paint so that the letters will be nice and readable.

When the paint is tacky, peel the stickers away to see what you’ve made!

Succulent Centerpiece

Last night I went outside and saw an amazing thing: A couple 3 inch segments of one of the potted succulents had been broken off a few weeks ago, I guess, and fallen on the gravel below. The amazing thing is that not only did they not die, they had sprouted tiny roots down into the gravel and were growing!

So inspired by the always-amazing ideas in Martha Stewart:

And the beautiful small-scale tray that we saw at the Sunset Celebration:

And inspired by the hardiness of the little suckers that grew roots into the gravel, I planted a succulent centerpiece tray.

I went around the yard and snipped little pieces of succulents that were already growing. If you don’t have any succulents in the yard, keep your eye out at your friends’ houses, in parks or in parking lots and snag a little piece… not that I’m advocating stealing the parts of your arrangement…

Collect a little pile, bury the ends in the gravel, give it some sun and water every few weeks. Then watch and see what happens! The succulents will eventually grow all together and make a thick tangle of beautiful color and texture. Since its living, this a great outdoor or indoor centerpiece!