Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies |

Make your own 4th of July mini pies

She showed us how to sweeten Mother’s Day, and today Hallmark innovation leader Stephanie Young is back to tell us about her favorite holiday and how she chooses to celebrate…with pie, naturally.

Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies |

July 4th is my secret favorite holiday. Why? What other holiday instantly turns your backyard into a living room? Getting to watch fireworks fly across the biggest, most beautiful screen in the world is a little piece of summer heaven.

And don’t forget the simple bliss of a picnic blanket.

Ours is a fading, ragged quilt held together with 50-year-old threads and endless cicada songs. So many full plates have been cradled in laps, passed around, and practically licked clean on our blanket. Honestly, I can’t imagine the 4th of July without it. In a way this holiday is like a quilt, celebrating how individuals can come together to bring hope, to endure and relish in the sparkle of happiness.

I can’t wait to lose my shoes in the grass, stretch out on our blanket of memories and dig fork-first into tasty good times. Deviled eggs, potato salad, watermelon, homemade ice cream, and pies, pies, and mini pies—these are what my 4th of July dreams are made of.

Fill up your plates, my friends and enjoy every satisfying moment.

Recipe | Patriotic Mini Pies |

Stars and Stripes Mini Pies

by S. Young

Makes six total pies: Three stars and three stripes.

Ingredients for three Blueberry Stars mini pies:

  • 3 6-inch pie pans
  • Pie dough for 9-in. double-crust pie, and one single 9 in. crust (If frozen, thaw according to packaging, but keep your thawed dough in the refrigerator while creating the filling.)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 heaping tablespoons flour for filling
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 cups of blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1  tablespoon milk for brushing
  • Extra flour for work surface

Fourth of July Mini Blueberry Pies |

Blueberry Stars Instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400 ̊ F.

In a large saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir until the berries are coated with sugary goodness. Add the water, the almond extract then squeeze the lemon juice all over the berries. Watch out for lemon seeds! Stir it all up again and turn the burner on low. Stir often until the berry mixture barely bubbles. Don’t let it boil! When the mixture has thickened to a syrupy consistency, remove from the heat and set aside.

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or work surface. Roll out enough dough for three individual bottom piecrusts. Once the bottom dough is in the pans, roll out the rest of the dough for the top crust decorations. Cut stars, at least one for each pie.

Add the filling. Cut the unsalted butter into four chunks and place the chunks in different sections of the pie. Decorate the top of each pie with stars.

Once decorated, brush a little milk onto each crust.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 ̊ F. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Cool before serving.

There may be some leftover dough. Cut piecrust cookies for an extra treat! Brush them with milk and bake them at 375 ̊ F until puffy and slightly golden—around 10-15 minutes.

Ingredients for three Cherry Stripes mini pies:

  • 3 6-inch pie pans
  • Pie dough for 9-in. double-crust pie, and one single 9 in. crust (If frozen, thaw according to packaging, but keep your thawed dough in the refrigerator while creating the filling.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cans cherry pie filling (20-21 oz. each)
  • 1 tablespoon milk for brushing
  • Extra flour for work surface

Fourth of July Mini Cherry Pies |

Cherry Stripes instructions: 

Preheat oven to 400 ̊ F.

In a large bowl, combine the cherries, sugar, flour, almond extract and cinnamon.

Sprinkle flour on a clean counter or work surface. Roll out enough dough for three individual bottom piecrusts. Once the bottom dough is in the pans, roll out the rest of the dough for the top crust decorations. Cut stripes. It helps to use a clean, washed ruler. Wide stripes hold up better in the oven than thin! Cut at least three stripes per pie.

Add the filling. Decorate the top of each pie with stripes.

Once decorated, brush with a little milk.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 ̊ F. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbles. Cool before serving.

Just like the Blueberry Stars pies, there may be some leftover dough. Just cut some more cookies. They go great with ice cream!

Can’t get enough 4th of July pie? Check out more holiday pie recipes (including the full size version of Stephanie’s pie masterpieces) at And you can find more of Stephanie’s kitchen escapades on her blog!

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years |

Artist Mary Hamilton celebrates her 60th Hallmark anniversary

Craig Lueck is a distinguished Hallmark artist in his own right, but today, he’s celebrating one of his famous co-workers. Craig introduces us to the peerless Mary Hamilton, who has graced Hallmark with her artistic presence for six decades. 

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years | thinkmakeshareblog.comPhoto by Geoff Greenleaf

For Hallmark Master Artist Mary Hamilton, art making is her life. This month we are celebrating Mary’s 60 years as an artist at Hallmark. This is a remarkable accomplishment, but Mary’s love of art began much earlier, at age 6.

“My mother used to tell me that I was always running around the house with crayons, coloring on things,” Mary says. “Drawing is something I’ve always loved.”

As a teenager, a scholarship took her to the Kansas City Art Institute. At age 19, Hallmark was quick to see her talent for telling charming visual stories and bringing beauty to everyday objects. So they gave her a job.

Mary Hamilton Hallmark Artist Celebrates 60 years |

In the years that followed, consumers have loved her many cute characters and flowers, but none more than “Mary’s Bears.” She began receiving fan letters about these whimsical little teddy bears almost as soon as they went on the market over 20 years ago. As an artist who cares deeply for the people who buy her products, her fan letters have given her a great deal of insight and inspiration.

Mary is a quiet, serious artist and is seen as the “grand master” of a style we call “cutes.”

“They’re sweet little things,” Mary says.  “They convey lots of love and emotions, and I never get tired of painting them.  I just love it.”

Perhaps it’s this ability to visually capture the language of the heart that makes Mary’s appeal so universal. Her artwork has appeared on thousands of products that span the globe and are printed in many languages.

Many of her illustrations have a sketchbook look, appearing almost unfinished as if Mary had just begun to create them. Other styles look wet, as though the watercolors are still drying. Regardless of her approach, Mary is known as one of the few watercolorists who can judge wisely when to stop working on a painting, before it gets overworked.

Mary never actually planned her many illustration styles. “They just were discovered as I painted”, she says. She has mentored many others to do the same.

In addition to her own little bears, Mary collects Hummel figurines, decorative teapots and enjoys her flower garden. Her primary inspirational artists are Tasha Tudor, Cicely Mary Barker and Bessie Pease Gutmann

Mary has no intention to ever retire from making art, but will forever keep her hands in the paints as well as the crayons.

As Jeannette Lee, a former creative leader from Hallmark, has said, “Mary can do it all. She can draw. She can paint. She can use color in very lovely ways. When an artist loves what she is doing as much as Mary does, it shows.”


Hallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop 1 |

Words and art come together for a Hallmark Signature workshop

Tina Neidlein has taught us where to find writing ideas, how to stock your writing toolbox and to un-mush-ify your Valentine’s Day. Today, she’s letting us behind the scenes of a fast and furious(ly stylish) Hallmark Signature workshop. 

When you’re a Hallmark artist, you get to participate in all sorts of hands-on workshops. But when you’re a writer here, workshops aren’t quite nearly as frequent. (And that’s okay with us—have you ever tried writing on the spot, in a group setting? I mean, yikes.)

We do love collaborating with artists, though, so when the opportunity came up recently to work side-by-side with them, we jumped at the chance. A small group of us came together with several of our talented lettering artists to brainstorm short phrases (“nuggets,” as we referred to them) for use in our Signature line. We know that our Signature fans are comfortable writing their own words, often only needing that little bit of goodness to get started. So we decided to get a small group together to build a collection of Signature-ready nuggets.

Working from a list of card-sending occasions (i.e., new baby, birthday, love), we came up with phrases one by one, while the artists lettered those same nuggets alongside us. It was so inspiring to watch them turn our scrawled two- or three-word phrases into beautiful pieces of art in no time at all. Proof that sometimes creating on the spot is just the thing you need—no time to overthink or fuss too much.

Hallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop 1 | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop | thinkmakeshareblog.comHallmark Signature Writing and Lettering Workshop |

Who knows? Maybe you’ll find one of our quick little nuggets on a Hallmark Signature card sometime very soon.

Give our fashionable friends some Insta-love over at @HallmarkSignature, wouldya?

Summer Smoothie Recipes |

Drink the rainbow: Summer smoothies in all shades

Hallmark designer Leslie Seibert is behind some of our favorite plush creations. Turns out, she has a real passion for fresh summer fruits and veggies as well. Today she’s sharing four of her favorite smoothie recipes that are vibrant in both color and flavor.

Summer Smoothie Recipes |

It’s summertime: my most favorite time when fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and affordable. I tend to drink my produce in chilled smoothie form during warmer months. And I’m mildly obsessed with using my blender to create flavor and color combinations that are not only delicious but also lovely to behold. Sure, I’ll drink a straight up brown smoothie for the sake of getting my leafy greens. But because it’s possible to achieve equally nutritious results in all the colors of the rainbow, why not mix and match with purpose?

Summer Smoothie Color Story |

Here are a few simple summer smoothies that please my tastebuds as well as my eyes. I mean it, these are REALLY simple—just two types of fruit and one veggie per recipe. Just toss these into your bender (remember: juicy ingredients go in first, leafy second, and heaviest ingredients on top) and add a few ice cubes and 1/2 cup of water to preserve the naturally bold hues (or coconut milk if you’re in more of a pastel mood).

If you prefer thicker smoothies, you can attempt to use less liquid. Because my blender is far from fancy, I have to add sufficient liquid or blades refuse to move. I used 1/2 cup of water for each of the following recipes.

Summer Inspired Smoothie Recipes |


  • 2 parts blueberry
  • 2 parts red heirloom spinach
  • 1 part kiwi (peeled and sliced)

Summer Inspired Smoothie Recipes |


  • 3 parts grapefruit
  • 3 parts raspberry
  • 1 part beet (peeled and sliced)

Summer Inspired Smoothie Recipes |


  • 2 parts mango (peeled and pitted)
  • 2 parts carrot
  • 1 part banana (peeled)

Summer Inspired Smoothie Recipes |


  • 2 parts pineapple
  • 2 parts spinach/kale
  • 1 part granny smith apple (sliced)

I admittedly focus more on getting the portions right for flavor and color than worrying about how much it’s going to make. Because all fruits and vegetables vary in size, flavor, and color, it’s hard to say exactly how much of each you should use. Taste as you blend until you get the result that suits you. And don’t forget to peel and pit your fruit!

Cool tip: If my blender yields more smoothie than will fill my glass, I pour the rest into ice cube trays (good for adding to future smoothies) or popsicle molds and freeze for later!

Photography by Leslie Seibert. 

On a smoothie kick? Check out these seasonally appropriate Firecracker Smoothies from and this green smoothie recipe by friend-of-Think-Make-Share Gimme Some Oven.

Father's Day tribute from Hallmark Trends Director Jen Walker |

Dad Testimonials: Hallmarkers tell us why they love their pops

Every dad is different and has a special way of showing his kids the love. In honor of Father’s Day, three Hallmarkers are giving us their dad testimonials—why their papas are the Very Best. 

Fathers Day tribute | true class |

My dad eats baked beans straight from the can. He asks for ketchup at fancy restaurants. He is also the classiest guy I know.

I’ve been in the car when he stops to help a frazzled driver get back on the road. I’ve been at the table when he secretly picks up the check for a family we just met at some small-town café. I’ve been right behind him when he insists on shoveling one more neighbor’s sidewalk. He never says much about it. He doesn’t need to.

My dad’s acts of kindness are not random. They are frequent and faithful. Where there are roofs to shingle, wheelchair ramps to build, projects to lead or farm animals to feed—there he is. His example has taught me everything I know about noticing people’s needs and doing my best to help. Thanks to him, I’ve learned that true class comes from the heart…and that cold beans are actually pretty tasty.     – Megan Haave, Hallmark writer 

Fathers Day tribute | pieces of me |

Hi, Dad. Don’t worry. The car is fine, and I don’t need help with my 401k. I want to talk about dots. Or rather, bullet points. I think we understand each other in bullet points.


  • Daughter
  • Writer
  • Smart
  • Stubborn
  • Likes to be liked


  • Dad
  • Architect
  • Smart
  • Stubborn
  • Wants family to feel loved

You also like cars, which sounds like something I picked from a list of Stereotypic Things Dads Like, but the toy model version of your old ’99 Honda Civic currently on your desk would beg to differ.

I remember sitting shotgun in that car you would, years later, graciously give to me. (The actual car, not the model one.) You were probably tapping the steering wheel along with the music. I was probably wondering how I’d made it to age 17 without knowing you liked Barbara Streisand. I don’t remember where we were going or the conversation leading up to it. But I remember a question you asked me:

“Did we do okay?”

As in, as parents, had you and Mom had done okay.

Sometimes it’s hard to see you, Dad. Physically, obviously, because I live three states away. But also in the way a child often only sees their dad as Dad, forgetting that “parent” is just one part of a whole person.

I think that was the first time I remember seeing you. Not Dad, comprised of a bullet-pointed list of accomplishments and interests that I loved and appreciated, but really only understood in the same way someone understands an incomplete connect-the-dots. But a person who is smart and uncertain, strong and vulnerable. A person who is many things, including my dad.

Occasionally, my dots may connect to show a river where you thought there’d be a road. And just as often, you’ll remind me of a point I’d forgotten I had. Thank you for helping me see the pieces of myself you could fill in long before I could.

And, Papa, you did great.

– Mia Mercado, Hallmark editor 

Father's Day tribute from Hallmark Trends Director Jen Walker |

I wouldn’t say that I had the closest relationship with my father when I was younger. My dad was very strict, set in his ways, and didn’t always appreciate my “creative” ways of getting things done. I struggled with making a connection with him, and I often would wonder if we’d ever be close.

It wasn’t until my mother got sick when I was 9 that I saw a completely different side to my dad. My mom was sick for nine years, and he stood by her side through everything. He became her caretaker and cheerleader. He loved my mother, and he never lost hope.

From the day my mom passed, and probably long before, my dad has been my biggest champion in life. He helped make my dreams come true by supporting my choice to go to art college and be a designer. He moved me halfway across the country when I got my first job at Hallmark and even helped me pick out all my decorations for my new apartment. He stood by my side when I went through a couple bad breakups.

My mom told me on a couple occasions that if I married half the man my father is, I’d be very lucky in life. My mom was right. Because of the example my dad set, I  married a wonderful man who is the best husband and father. My dad is pretty fond of him too. My dad planned every aspect of my wedding with me and really got into the details. He was there for me when both of my children where born, and he has been there for me every time I just wanted him to talk.

My dad was and is my first hero—not just because he’s strong and brave but because he stayed and set the best example of what a daddy should be.

– Jen Walker, Hallmark Trends Studio Director

Lettering by Amber Goodvin, Sarah Cole, Livy Long. (In order of appearance.)

Want some help writing your own dad testimonial in this year’s Father’s Day card? Let Hallmark writer Keely Chace give you some pro tips