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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Everyone Loves Pie {Week 22}

A couple of weeks ago my family welcomed ANOTHER baby into the family! This time it was my brother Dustin and sister-in-law Melissa – their first! It’s a boy, his name is Benjamin, and he is awfully cute! We really haven’t had much time to get to know one another yet, because you know, so far he spends most of his time sleeping. I’m pretty sure that once he decides to keep his eyes open for more than 5 minutes we will be best buddies. And, if Dustin has anything to say about it he is destined to have a killer jump-shot.

The other night I delivered them dinner, which included a fresh-from-the-oven deep dish pizza pie. In other words, its a pizza in pie form. They both loved it, and it was really easy and fast to make. I followed the recipe exactly, but you could add any kind of pizza toppings to the filling, and I’m sure it would be great!

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Pizza Pie

Ingredients
 
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 envelope Italian-style spaghetti sauce mix
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
3/4 cup water
1 tube (12 ounces) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
 
Directions
 
In a large skillet, cook and stir beef and pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the sauce mix, tomato paste and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Separate biscuits; press onto the bottom and up the sides of a greased 9-in. deep-dish pie plate to form a crust. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; fill with meat mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese over top. Bake at 400° for 15-18 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted. Yield: 6 servings.
 
:: Carrie ::

 

Keeping it Local

About a year ago we decided to expand our line to include some products with hand painted illustrations. It was a good move for us, because it has given us the opportunity to make so many different things that we would never be able to create through letterpress printing. Letterpress will always be a love of ours, and we will continue to do it, but it has its limitations – and that is part of it’s charm.

When we set out to find someone to produce our hand painted pieces we knew that we needed a local printer, because we wanted to support another local business, and also because we wanted to be close to where the production was taking place. We found just what we were looking for in a really great printing company just a 30 minute drive from where we live.

You should understand that most of what they print at this lovely family-owned shop are specialty magazines with titles like “Quarter Horse Monthly,” so some of the things that we have asked them to print are a little bit radical, and not what they are used to seeing. But they could not be doing a better job! We are so pleased, and they take great care of us. Maybe because they know they have to see our faces from time to time!

Probably the very best thing about using a local printer is the fact that we can go and visit. The folks are fantastic. Everyone there is so NICE! We are always greeted with a hello, and everyone thanks us for being their customer. We always feel welcome! Our go-to girl is Mary – she does SO much for us! She makes sure everything runs smoothly, and if there is a bump in the road anywhere along the way she is quick to smooth it over for us.

A few weeks before the stationery show we drove down to see a bunch of our new cards and calendars rolling off the press. It was so exciting for Beth and I, to see all of that hard work we put in become an actual physical, tangible item that we could hold in our hands. And it all looked so GOOD!

They are not messing around when it comes to the printing equipment. Here is the big off-set press that can spit out a fully printed piece before you can blink an eye.

It’s so much fun to see the entire process, and we are thankful that we can! We know that after we finish the design work and send the final files to the printer, that everyone from the pre-press people, to the press operators, and the guys and gals who do the finishing work are going to treat our treat our pieces with care. We are in good hands!

So, to everyone at our printer (we know some of you are reading!) THANK YOU!

We can’t wait to send you some more of our work!

Everyone Loves Pie {Week 21}

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.

I’m warning you. This one is good, but oh boy, it’s really rich. Don’t attempt to eat it on your own – make sure you have plenty of people to share it with!

On Sunday afternoon I whipped up this pie in my mom’s kitchen for a spur-of-the moment family dinner. It requires minimal baking, and just a few ingredients, which makes it good for spontaneous gatherings. The recipe is one from the Pioneer Woman, and she KNOWS how to cook, so of course it is good! Take it easy, because it’s not good FOR you. But then again, most pies aren’t!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Crust Ingredients:

25 whole Oreos
4 Tablespoons Butter, Melted
 

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1 package (8 Ounce) Softened Cream Cheese
1-1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 package (8 Ounce) Cool Whip, Thawed

Directions:

Crust:
Crush the Oreos until they’re fine crumbs. Pour melted butter over the top and stir with a fork to combine. Press into pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes, or until set. Remove the crust from oven and allow it to cool completely.

Filling:
Beat the peanut butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the thawed Cool Whip and beat mixture until smooth, scraping the sides as needed. Pour the filling into the crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

 

:: Carrie ::

 

Scenes From the Weekend

We hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day, and that you found a way to show your thanks to all of the past and present service men and women in your lives!

We definitely took advantage of the long weekend to recuperate from the past few weeks of craziness and travel. Rest and relaxation sure is important! Our weekends were full of lots of time with family and friends, playing in the creek, eating bar-b-que, watching a few big thunderstorms roll in, visiting some vintage WWII aircraft, and one unexpected and highly thrilling airplane ride!

 

:: Carrie ::

 

National Stationery Show 2013

I know it has been a little quiet here on the blog the past week or so. We have been busy! We got home on Thursday from New York City, where we spent the week at the National Stationery Show. This was our third year exhibiting at the show, and we couldn’t be more pleased and excited with how it went.

First of all, a big huge thanks to ALL of you who stopped by our booth in person and showered us with kindness and compliments. Really. We feel so blessed, and a little overwhelmed with the amount of hugs and praise and admiration that we received. We have the BEST customers and admirers. We’re not really sure what to say. Thank you.

This year we doubled the size of our booth, which was a little intimidating to think about at first, but it was a good move. We loved our new location, and everything just seemed to come together perfectly. Of course, we had everything planned out before hand – shelves and tables built and prints framed and pretty things for the table – but it’s always kind of hard to picture it exactly until we actually put all the pieces together on site. I think it came together well! I will tell you, it is intensely satisfying to see all of the hard work that we put in over the course of the last few months together in one place, looking so good. That hard work is SO worth it.

We were excited to debut several new products at this show, which I’ll be sure to tell you about in more detail later. This is one of our new calendars for 2014 – the Pieces and Patterns Calendar. It’s 9×12, and I think it would look fantastic on your wall!

Here’s another new calendar for 2014. We’re just calling this one the Oversized Calendar, because that is exactly what it is! It seemed to attract a lot of attention this week, and we were completely honored when we learned that it won a best new product award!

How about that?! Seriously.

So much to be thankful for. And, really, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We definitely worked hard this week, but we had a lot of fun too. It is always great to catch up with our fellow exhibitors and friends that we have made here over the last couple of years, and see what everyone has been up to. We spent some time roaming around the city, hit up several of our favorite spots, and explored some new ones. We had a couple of amazing meals with some great friends, and we even squeezed in a Mets game! (Thanks Tiffany!)

We love visiting New York, but we are definitely glad to be home, and glad to see trees and grass, and ready to get back to our regular schedules.  There’s a big stack of orders for us to tackle, and many new things on the horizon. But, I’m kind of already looking forward to our next trip to the city!

P.S.

To Kim, Tiffany, and Bizzie – THANK YOU so much for all that you did for us while we were in town. We COULD NOT have done it without you! Thanks for painting walls, hammering in lots of tiny little nails, running out to get lunch, taking orders, chatting with customers, exploring the city with us, telling us funny stories, and keeping us laughing. It is great to have friends in far away places! We loved seeing you and spending time with you. Y’all are the BEST!

♥♥♥

Carrie, Beth and Karen

Everyone Loves Pie {Week 20}

I hope you got to spend a little time with your mama this past Sunday, or at least called her up, or sent her a beautiful gift! We were all lucky enough to be with our moms this Mother’s day – we are so thankful for them!

When I asked my mom what kind of pie she would like for Mother’s Day, without hesitation she said “strawberry rhubarb.” This combination is definitely one of my favorites too. I might go as far to say that it’s my favorite fruit pie, period. I like any fruit pie that has a little bit of a tart side to it, and the rhubarb does it here. We got to talking about rhubarb, and I realized that it’s a vegetable. I never thought of it as one, maybe because I’ve only eaten it as an ingredient in baked goods, or jam or preserves. Is there any other way to eat it?

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Strawberry Rhubarb Lattice Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for a 9 inch double-crust pie
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups chopped fresh rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs cold butter, cut into 1/4 inch chunks
 

Directions:

 
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line the pie pan with crust, leaving a 1 inch overhang. Refrigerate top crust until needed.
 
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt and mix them well. Add the rhubarb, strawberries, and lemon juice. Mix very gently with a large spoon. Dump the filling into the pie crust, and distribute the butter bits evenly over the filling. Top the filling with a lattice crust.
 
Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any spills or bubbling over, and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake until the pink filling bubbles up and the pastry is golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.
 
Place the pie on a cooling rack an let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve it warm or at room temperature – maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!
 
:: Carrie ::

 

Last Minute Preparations

This past week has been spent doing last minute preparations for the National Stationery Show. There sure are a lot of details to think about, but I think we have it all covered. I think. Our to-do lists are getting shorter, at least.

Our new wholesale catalog came back from our printer and we couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out! There is a HUGE amount of work that goes into planning, designing, and producing all of those new products, so to see them all in one place is intensely satisfying.

We’ve been doing some last minute self-promotion. Keeping in touch with all of our customers is a top priority!

We’ve been making some pretty things to liven up our NSS booth.

We’ve been spending a little bit of time in the wood shop with some power tools.

And, we have been making some adjustments to our booth set-up so everything is just right.

We’ll be in New York in just a few days. We’re looking forward to the week ahead, and hoping that we didn’t forget something important!

Everyone Loves Pie {Week 19}

It has been a little bit of a whirlwind week around here. We are prepping everything for the National Stationery Show! This means making multiple trips to the hardware store to pick up something we forgot for our booth set-up, making sure our travel plans are all set, picking up our new catalog from the printer (and being REALLY excited at seeing it for the first time in person), and packing our huge crate with everything we will need for the show (and hoping and praying that we didn’t forget something). Oh yeah, and our new studio is almost finished, so we are trying to wrap our heads around what we need to do to make the move-in happen. In the midst of all of this, Karen’s mom has come for a visit! We are so thankful that she has made the trip up from Texas, to be here for Mother’s Day, to see Karen and Mike and the kids, AND to help out while Karen is gone with us to NYC for a few days. I found a little time this week to make a Lemon Chess Pie, and I dropped it off at Mike and Karen’s house as a “welcome to Missouri!” and “thanks for helping out!” gift to Karen’s mom.

This lemon version is a slight variation from the classic chess pie. It is simple, but delicious. I used the recipe from the book Southern Pies, by Nancie McDermott.

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Lemon Chess Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie
2 cups sugar
2 Tbs. cornmeal
1 Tbs flour
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs, beaten well
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 tsp grated lemon rind or zest
 

Directions:

 
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch pie plate with the crust. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cornmeal, flour, and salt. Add the eggs, butter, lemon juice, milk and lemon rind. Using a fork, mix well, stirring and scraping to combine everything into a thick, smooth filling. Pour into the piecrust and place the pie on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake until the edges puff up and the center is fairly firm, wiggling only a little when you gently nudge the pan, 35-45 minutes. Place the pie on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.
 
:: Carrie ::

New Studio Progress

It’s getting close. So close to being done.

The last I left you I think our new workspace had some interior walls framed, and they had begun spraying in the insulation. We’ve come a long way since then. Here’s a little peek at what has been going on…

We have an awesome new staircase.

When we first talked to our builder and told him what we envisioned for our new space we emphasized that we wanted to retain the character of the barn, but we also stressed that we are on a tight budget. He understood perfectly, and we have been amazed at his resourcefulness in finding amazing materials at a low price that are just what we need. We picked the right guy for the job, definitely. For the staircase, he found a local amish guy who cut these huge oak planks that might just be sturdy enough to hold up an elephant. It definitely means business, but it fits in perfectly with the architecture of the barn. We love it.

A couple of weeks were spent installing the panelling on the walls that covers up the insulation. It was a sawdusty mess for a while. Just imagine the loud grinding of the table saw and the buzz of the miter saw, set to the background music of Blake Shelton and all his country music friends blaring on the radio. And the guys yelling out measurements to one another over the sound of it all. A real construction workers environment.

One of the biggest surprises so far is how BEAUTIFUL the floors have turned out. We did nothing to replace any of the old existing floor – they simply fixed a few boards that were broken or seemed weak, and then they sanded the whole thing down a little bit. Then, they put a couple of coats of polyurethane over the whole thing, and it instantly brought out so much COLOR! I wish I had taken some better photos of the floor before, because it is a huge transformation. Also, I can’t believe that I can walk barefoot on those floors now. Unbelievable.

This past week they spent some time cleaning up the big beams and spraying them with a coat of sealer. Next week they will start installing the ceiling, and the painter is coming to begin painting the walls. Things are really going to feel close to being done when that happens. We are busy tracking down furniture for the new space, and picking out light fixtures, and fans, and faucets for the bathroom sink, and all of those things that go with building something new. Or, in this case, giving new life to something that is old.

We are hoping to be able to move in within the next few weeks. Hopefully. We also have the National Stationery Show coming up about two weeks from now, which means we are scrambling to get a bunch of new products finalized and get everything packed and shipped off to NYC. It’s definitely an exciting time!

:: Carrie ::

What’s Growing Now

There is maybe a two week time period every spring when all of the fields where we live turn bright purple. To be more accurate I might call it magenta, or fuchsia. It’s real pretty. Some years it is brighter and more wide-spread than others. The little plant that’s responsible for this sea of color is called henbit. It looks like this…

(There are also a lot of these white blooms, but I’m not sure what those are called.) Henbit grows wild, it’s not planted, and it’s really classified as a weed. Here is something interesting – over the course of the past several years it has become really obvious that there is more and more henbit growing in the fields in our part of the world. That’s because most farmers have adopted the no-till method of farming. No-till farming means that instead of plowing the fields each spring, turning over the dirt to prepare it for planting, farmers are skipping that step and planting their crops into soil that hasn’t been disturbed. I won’t go into all the nitty-gritty details of this method, but it reduces the amount of soil erosion, and increases the amount of water and nutrients in the dirt. Both good things. And, I guess one of the side effects is that wildflowers, or weeds, like henbit are more able to thrive and spread. That’s an added bonus, in my opinion. So, now when you see one of those fields covered in tiny purple blooms, you know why!

And, guess what else is growing right now?

Yep, it’s morel season. Morel mushrooms.

They look kind of strange, but roll them in a cornmeal batter and fry them in a little oil, and you won’t care what they look like. They’re good.

Last weekend I went along on a little mushroom hunt at our favorite mushroom hunting spot. I can’t tell you where that is, it’s a secret. Really. A few of my family members may have me taken out if I reveal the exact location. All I can say is that it’s a little bit of a hike. Over some fences, across a pasture, jump a little creek, and you’re there. Wear your boots, because it can get messy.

Morels can be tricky. They have a very short growing season, and you have to time it just right. I like to eat them, but I think the best part is going out to find them. It ended up that we picked a pretty good day. Successful hunt.

:: Carrie ::