Stephanie Young is an innovation leader at Hallmark and a baker who spends her free time making the lives of everyone around her more delicious. This pie expert has some tips for us today!
Crust is everything. I love pie crust. Since I was a kid, I have been known to lick pie pans to get the last crumb…that’s just the kind of girl I am.
The first pie I made as a grown-up cook was a chocolate mousse pie. It wasn’t perfect. The mousse was runny. The crust was crumbly. But baking that one pie awakened in me a deep, true love for making pies and—more importantly—my own pie crust.
After my happy mousse experience, I cooked up a pie every week. As our waist-lines expanded, I started to give them away to people I knew for any reason at all.
Without even thinking about it, I used my crust to decorate the tops of the pies too. I made pie dough cookies especially for each person getting a pie. I even added them to pies that didn’t call for a top crust.
Why? My pie was an act of love from me to the person receiving it. Adding cookie-cutter bird shapes for an expectant mother or cutting the word M-O-M out of dough for a Mother’s Day pie was so worth it. The way their faces lit up when they saw their design matched the way my heart felt when I was making it. (Download my strawberry pie recipe here.)
The most amazing thing is that putting love into your food takes no extra time or supplies. Whether the food you’re making comes from a box, from scratch, or from your grandma’s recipe—love is love. All it takes is thoughtfulness, or piefulness, in my case.
So the next time you’re cooking up a treat for someone, think about why you’re cooking it for them and tuck that love inside. I promise they’ll taste it in the crumbs.
Pie Dough Tips:
Pie crust is notoriously finicky. Here are some tips for better pie-crust making.
Make sure all refrigerated ingredients (like butter, shortening, and cream) are well-chilled before use.
Watch your measurements! Avoid total dough failure by paying close attention to your tablespoons and cups.
Use your fingers to mix shortening or butter into the dough. You will get a better feel for if it’s truly incorporated into the flour.
Don’t add all your liquid at once. Add a little, blend it into the flour and then add a little more. Baby steps with your liquids will help you avoid tough or soggy dough.
All pie dough is happier if it’s cold. While your making your filling, stick the dough in the freezer to give it a good chill!
National Card and Letter Writing Month is a movement we at Think.Make.Share can really get behind, especially because so many of us are compulsive card-senders anyway. (Surprising, right?) In honor of April—and getting things other than bills in the mail—we’ve put together a collection of our favorite stationery multipacks out in Hallmark stores right now. These notes are the ones that inspire us to break out our good pens and write meaningful missives to our favorite people.
Get anything good in the mail lately? Share it with us on Instagram: @think.make.share
Hallmark Designer Melissa Powlas loves to do small-scale crafts out of easy-to-find, kid-friendly materials. Today, she’s teaching us how to make clay pinch pots.
Tiny pinch pots are easy to create and make a fun gift for Mother’s Day. This is a great project for kids and adults to do together.
Using a small ball of Crayola Air-Dry Clay, poke a hole in the middle with your thumb and shape into a little pot or dish. Once the clay is dry, which takes about 24 hours, lightly sand it to smooth out any rough spots. Decorate your pot using acrylic paints and/or permanent markers. Finish it off with a coat of matte or gloss medium.
These little pots are the perfect home for air plants and small jewelry. It’s fun to line a bunch of them up on a shelf or put them in a little rope hanger to display. My favorite thing about pinch pots are all the little imperfections and quirks that give them so much personality and charm.
Pssst…Find more great Mother’s Day ideas here. And show us what you’re giving Mom on Instagram @Think.Make.Share!
As you might expect, our community at Hallmark is still exercising their creativity even when they’re off the clock. Those inventive instincts go into over-drive when kids come into the picture. Today, we’re sharing three Hallmarkers’ beautiful nurseries; we hope they give you some great decorating ideas for the kids in your life!
Cece Merkle is a designer in the Trends Studio who is passionate about shape and color. Her nursery is full of playful shapes, pops of color and handmade treasures.
From Cece: Ethan’s room started with white walls and a yellow mid-century-modern dresser. I wanted the theme of Ethan’s room to be shape and color with a little inspiration from Alexander Girard and some mid-century flair. I love the quirk of Girard’s bold shapes and decided to create a large focal piece with cut-paper shapes above the dresser. I also used cut-paper shapes to create a repeat pattern that I designed to make a colorful blanket for Ethan’s crib. A few Hallmark friends also made some handmade treasures for Ethan. The Plush Club girls, Allyson Lassiter and Lisa Hadley, each made a charming handmade plush; Tuesday Spray crafted an adorable chalkboard and wooden alligator with movable arms and legs; and Amber Goodvin made a yarn-embroidered pom-pom pillow.
One of my favorite pieces in the room is a hand-painted wooden illustration of our little family that a couple of friends at Hallmark created as a decoration for our baby shower. Plants, both real and stuffed, are also an important part of Ethan’s nursery. I love a little greenery and couldn’t resist sewing some plant pillows and a monogram pillow for Ethan’s crib. The Alexander Girard “Love” plaque was a gift I gave my husband on our wedding day. After a few years of not knowing where to hang the plaque, it found a home on Ethan’s shelf next to baby books about art and color.
My husband is also a designer at Hallmark in the Licensing Studio, where we met. We both love the Peanuts characters, and I designed the “Good Grief” wall art piece for Hallmark, which also has a happy home in Ethan’s room. We also love Hallmark’s memory-keeping albums; I now keep Ethan’s ABC memory book next to my rocking chair to record our memories along the way!
Other featured items include: “Dream Big” by Kellie Bloxsom-Rys, “Imagination is Everything” by Georgia Sutton, Alligator Print by Ames Bros, and paper-shape mobile made by Katherina London.
Jeff Shumway leads our Union Hill Studios, Hallmark’s own photography and video outfit. His little one’s nursery reflects his edited aesthetic and personal skill (check out the animal prints he created for the space!).
From Jeff: As a designer, working on a baby room can be a daunting task. Like a wedding or a first birthday party (as I now know), a lot can be expected of you. I would hear things like, “Jeff is a designer, so I’m sure the room will be amazing.” It didn’t help things that my wife lived on Pinterest and every baby blog she could find. There was so much cool stuff out there. In the end, our process of putting together the room had as much to do with editing as it did designing. The small space made us keep it simple, too. The room is not much bigger than a walk-in closet in most homes.
We wanted to keep the the key elements in the room gender-neutral. The grey striped walls and navy blue Flor tiles will remain if our next child is a boy or girl. (Yes, baby number two is on the way!) We added a thin pink stripe around the room using washi tape. The other pink and gold elements will be easy to change out.
I love all the quirky characters and animals in her room. The Hallmark happy cloud pillow is one of my favorites.
I do have a goal of creating something unique for each of our children before they arrive. For Harper’s room I was able to create the animal prints that hang above her crib.
Laura Linebarger is a designer in the Gift Presentation & Stationery department, where she’s able to combine her interests in surface design and the art of sending a thank you note. Laura has been at Hallmark for almost nine years. You can see by the nursery she designed with her husband that she’s not afraid of color or large-scale patterns!
From Laura: We designed Claire’s nursery knowing we would be spending many hours in that little room. The hand-painted pink scallops were inspired by the ice cream cone pillow that was given to us soon after we found out we were expecting a girl. While keeping the large items (crib, rocker, dresser) neutral, we weren’t afraid to toss in obviously girly items. We love that Claire’s room is sweet without being too saccharine, and everywhere we look, we are reminded of the talented people we’re lucky enough to call friends who have given us such meaningful, thoughtful pieces for Claire.
Hallmark Illustrator Matt Kesler has proven himself a versatile artist time and time again. With skills in various mediums, he’s talking with us today about his long-time curiosity for woodworking.
My first experience with carving was as a young boy at scout camp. I mostly just whittled sticks to points, which then were poked into a campfire. Since my childhood, I have only returned to carving recently, within the past three years.
I have never shied away from creating in different mediums. My creative nature is to explore and try new things. Whether I am using paintbrushes, clay or chainsaws, it is all the same to me. Carving in wood is no different.
(details for the trophy mount featured above)
By chance, I was asked to participate in a totem-carving workshop at Hallmark, led by a master carver. We were given half logs of Catalpa wood to carve whatever we chose. The only stipulation was that we express something about ourselves in the totem.
When the workshop came to a conclusion, I was pleasantly surprised with the results. It was amazing that I could draw out from the wood these characters I had grown to love so much—including ones below from one of my favorite books, Maurice Sendack’s Where the Wild Things Are. The dimension and the detail came willingly from my effort.
Since that time, I have grown to passionately love carving. And I like carving big stuff! I am now into my fourth totem…with probably some smaller pieces to come as well.