With Easter right around the corner, we’re checking back in with designer Em Bronson, known for organizing crafty get-togethers, like the stocking-making party we covered during the holidays. Today, she introduces us to a fun Easter tradition you can do with your friends, too.
Spring always kicks off for me when we have our Annual Maker Easter Swap. It’s a tradition I started about five years ago, mainly because I secretly wanted an Easter basket even as an adult. Now the season just wouldn’t be the same without our basket exchange.
For our Easter swap, several crafty co-workers each make a small gift to exchange with each other. It’s so inspiring to see what everyone comes up with and to leave with a basket of lovelies!
This year, I decided to paint small bud vases that each held a crepe paper flower. It makes a cheerful gift that never wilts. You can download the instructions here.
I also did party favors perfect for co-workers and friends. Easter egg fortunes add to the whole colored egg-filled-with-candy experience. You can print the fortunes to use yourself here.
Today Think.Make.Share managing editor, Tobe Reed, is sharing a few of her favorite Easter gift ideas.
This is an exciting year at our house because, at 18 months, my youngest daughter is old enough to start sharing in holiday traditions. I have fond memories of Easter as a kid: waking up early to see what the Easter bunny left in our baskets, racing around the yard with my brother hunting for treat- and treasure-filled eggs, dressing up and seeing everyone in their Easter finest at church, and having a special family meal to end the day. I’m very eager to start building traditions with my own kiddos. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite items from our shelves this season:
I love switching out home décor to reflect the season. These floral embroidered tea towels will give our kitchen the perfect Easter vibe and can easily stay through spring.
This little embroidered loom will make a great addition to my daughter’s gallery wall.
No Easter season would be complete without sweet treats! This polka-dot bowl is begging for jelly beans or—my biggest weakness—candy-coated chocolate eggs.
A precious little card pack is perfect for sending wishes to friends and family who are far away.
I love the fresh palette of this card for my daughter Ava. Bonus: We’ll be able to practice our shapes, animals and colors!
I love the idea of having at least one wrapped item in their baskets. This sweet box from my favorite spring Hallmark gift-wrap collection is just the right size for an Itty Bitty. (Which we are acquiring at a rapid rate at our house. They’re just so cute!)
My youngest will love getting stickers! We’ll also include bubbles, bath crayons, coloring books, a couple of spring tops and seed packets to plant annuals in the yard together. I particularly like that we can talk about the symbolism of the holiday with the latter.
Our older daughter lives with her mom several hours away. This card has the perfect look and long-distance wish for a teen. (The inside reads: “Good thing we’re so close at heart!”)
You can find all of these items at your local Hallmark Gold Crown Store (with the exception of the card pack and card I found for my youngest daughter, which are available in the Hallmark aisle at Walmart).
Today Kellie Bloxsom-Rys, a designer on the Easter greeting card team, shares an egg-cellent DIY craft project that everyone in the whole family can get excited about…hand-painting Easter eggs! Kellie rounded up several talented artists to bring some simple wooden eggs to life.
For this project, we used wooden eggs bought from a local craft store. I gathered about eight of my crafty friends and gave them an assortment of materials to work with, including acrylic, paint, painter’s tape, markers, spray paint, wood stain, Hallmark tissue paper and Modge Podge. It was a lot of fun to see the range of unique solutions!
This project was very low-stress; eggs were finished in under an hour with minimal cleanup. This is a great spin on the traditional egg-dyeing process because the wooden eggs can be kept for future Easter décor. I love the idea of buying them in bulk and doing this craft year after year!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN HAND-PAINTED WOODEN EGGS
Step 1. Use a dark water-based wood stain and apply one layer on the wooden eggs. (It doesn’t take much. I bought the smallest can from a local hardware store.) Let the eggs dry for a couple hours. I recommend wearing rubber gloves when applying the stain and letting the eggs dry in an old cardboard box.
Step 2. Select a few colors for a simple palette. Use painter’s tape to mask off sections you want to paint a solid color. The tape gets a little tricky when going around the egg so you will have to overlap it a little. (Tip: I liked the eggs with around 50 percent of the wood stain showing through best; it added a nice richness to the palette.)
Step 3. Allow the paint to dry for 10 minutes. Repeat the taping process if you want to overlap the existing paint colors.
Step 4. using a small paintbrush, add stripes, dots, crosses and dashes around the egg. I used a gold sharpie to draw the final line work on top of the paint, which gave it a nice little shimmer, too.
Hallmark Gift Book Editorial Strategist & Associate Publisher Delia Berrigan Fakis and Hallmark Gift Book Senior Designer Laura Elsenraat join us today to talk about a beautiful new Hallmark book series featuring the lyrics of beloved songs…and the watercolor artists who made it possible.
We started with Amazing Grace, because we had the idea of turning a popular, traditional hymn into a beautiful gift book. We knew we had to pick something well-known, because the song title would also be the title of the book. The Hallmark books team decided to have hand lettering be the focus of the design, using watercolor to interpret the mood and feel of each line of song. We held a one-day watercolor workshop and invited many of our talented lettering artists to explore different styles for the lines of lyrics.
When Amazing Grace turned out so well, we realized we had the opportunity to do a whole series of lyric books—Lyrics You Love. The follow up book was What a Wonderful World, in our encourage and inspire section, followed by Can’t Help Falling in Love, in the love category. There was a challenge in choosing songs for each of these books: We couldn’t just choose any song with “lyrics we loved,” because if the title itself wasn’t a giftable message, it wouldn’t work on the book cover.
For Can’t Help Falling in Love, we went through many different love songs before landing on the Elvis standard. It had a great title as well as a beautiful lyrical message. We held one-day workshops with our hand-lettering artists for What a Wonderful World and Can’t Help Falling in Love, too.
I think the workshops—and books—were successful because the artists had the freedom to choose lines of lyrics that stood out to them and to interpret them in their own style. It’s that combination of meaningful lyrics paired with a range of styles that makes these books so special featured.
Lyrics You Love workshop artists include Ken Sheldon, Lynn Giunta, Amber Goodvin, Lisa Rogers, Livy Long, Craig Lueck, Barb Mizik, Elissa Duncan, Allie Fields, and Maria O’Keefe.
Today Ron Arens, Art Director in our Creative Marketing Studio, is sharing his passion for pasta-making with us.
Design is my first passion, cooking is a very close second, and pasta, to be honest, is my obsession.
I was born and raised in Kansas City to a Sicilian family, and so I really had no choice in the matter. My mother has vivid childhood memories of her mother and aunts hand-rolling, cutting and forming fresh pasta every Sunday. Now that both my grandparents and great-aunts are gone, I’ve tried to keep their tradition alive.
Most of my grandmother’s recipes are hand-written on scraps of paper and notecards. Unfortunately, a pasta-dough recipe wasn’t one of them. They never needed a recipe because they made everything by feel. In the years since she passed, I’ve come up with my own recipe from a variety of cook books and online cooking sites. Ravioli are my favorite, and, yes, they are a lot of work, but it is incredibly rewarding in the end.
Three-Cheese Beet Ravioli
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for kneading)
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp beet puree egg wash (1 egg white mixed with 1 tbsp of water)
(This is my favorite ravioli filling. The filling can really be almost anything, from cheese to meat to fruit. It all depends on what mood you’re in, so have fun and experiment.)
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup taleggio cheese (or other soft pungent cheese, like goat cheese or brie)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp finely chopped beet greens (or substitute flat-leaf Italian parsley or mint)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
Brown Butter Sauce
2 tbsp butter (do not use butter substitute)
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh mint (or other fragrant herb)
Begin by making the beet puree. Preheat the oven to 375º. Peel one small-to-medium sized beet, place it on a piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt, then wrap the foil tightly around it. Place on a cooking sheet in the middle of the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until the beet is tender and easily pierced with a sharp knife. Remove the beet from the oven and allow to cool completely. Puree the roasted beet in a food processor until smooth and set aside.
Now it’s time to make the dough. In a small bowl, mix the beet puree, eggs, egg yolk, olive oil, and salt and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the semolina flour and the all-purpose flour a few times until well blended. Then switch the food processor on and slowly pour the egg mixture through the spout. If the dough doesn’t come together into a ball within 30 seconds or so, add a little cold water—a tablespoon at a time—until it does. Don’t add too much water, but also don’t fret if you do. You can add more flour as you knead the dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and begin kneading with the palm of your hand. My technique is simple: push the dough ball down and forward with your right palm, then lift the far edge, fold it over on itself, turn it the ball clockwise a 1/4 turn, then repeat. Depending on how wet the dough is, you may need to add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time. I usually just keep dusting the surface until the dough stops sticking as I knead it. You really should knead the dough for at least 10 minutes until it becomes smooth, elastic and no longer sticky.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes before rolling it out. (Note: Fresh dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.)
While the dough is resting, you can make the filling. Chop the beet greens into very small pieces and lightly sauté in a pan until soft and wilted. Set them aside to cool. In a small bowl, mix together all three cheeses, sautéed greens, salt and pepper. It may not look like much, but trust me, a little goes a long way. Cover and set aside until it’s time to assemble the ravioli.
Next, create the pasta. A pasta machine isn’t required, but it sure does make things a lot easier…and way more fun. After the dough has rested, clamp the pasta machine to a table or counter top and lightly flour the surface in front of the machine. Cut the rested dough into four equal pieces. Take one piece and wrap the rest in the plastic wrap so they don’t dry out. (If rolling by hand, each dough piece can be rolled into approximately 6-inch wide by 20-inch long sheets.)
Form the dough piece into a flat rectangle slightly smaller that the width of the pasta machine. Set the machine to its widest open setting (usually the smallest number, 1 or 0) and feed the dough into the opening as you turn the handle. Once the sheet feeds through, lightly dust it on both sides and feed through the machine one more time on the same setting. Now set the machine to its next setting and feed the sheet through again, repeating until you reach the smallest setting (usually a 6 or 7), lightly dusting the sheet in between passes to keep the pasta from sticking to the machine parts or itself. The sheet should be about 20 inches long now and as thin as a thick sheet of paper. Thanks to all that kneading, resting and rolling, the dough will be surprisingly durable and easy to handle.
Now it’s time to assemble the ravioli. Square off the ends of the pasta sheet with a sharp knife. Working with this long sheet of pasta can be daunting, so feel free to cut it in half. As a visual guide, I like to very lightly drag the back of a knife down the middle of the entire length of the sheet because this will be where the sheet is folded over to enclose the ravioli.
Starting at one end of the sheet and on the side nearest you, place about a 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture on the dough (about an inch from each edge, including the guideline). Keep the dough around the dollops clean of cheese mixture otherwise the dough may not stick to itself. You should be able to get about 12 dollops of cheese onto this sheet. Next, very lightly brush some egg wash around each dollop (this will help the dough stick to itself). Carefully fold over the top half of the sheet and lightly rest it on top of the dollops but don’t seal the front edge yet.
Starting from the back or folded edge and using your fingertips, gently press the dough together, working your way down. Then take two fingers and press the dough together between each dollop. This is so you can force out as much air as possible before you make the final seal on the front edge. Too much air will expand while the ravioli cook and may cause them to explode. Once the ravioli have been folded, take a sharp knife, wheel cutter or a ravioli cutter and cut out each individual ravioli. Trimming each edge helps seal the ravioli so they don’t fall apart while cooking.
Place each ravioli side-by-side on a lightly floured kitchen towel so they don’t touch and stick together. Repeat the rolling and filling process with the remaining dough and cheese mixture until you’re all done.
(Note: You can keep uncooked ravioli in the fridge for about a week or freeze them for up to two months. To freeze each ravioli individually, so they don’t stick together, place them on a floured piece of parchment paper on a cooking sheet and freeze the whole sheet for about an hour. Once frozen, transfer them to zip-top bags.)
To enjoy your ravioli, I find a simple brown butter sauce is best, but any pasta sauce will do. Gently place the ravioli in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes (6 minutes for frozen). They will float to the top, and you can gently turn them over as needed.
In a large sauté pan, melt 2 tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the butter will start to turn brown and give off a nutty aroma. With a wire spider, remove the ravioli from the boiling water and place them in the browned butter in the sauté pan. Add some of the pasta cooking water as needed. I like to cook the ravioli for another minute in the butter to make sure each ravioli is coated. Serve immediately with a fresh grating of parmesan and a thinly chopped sprinkle of fresh mint.