Every year my church hosts an event called Western Day, and one of the main attractions is the pie baking contest. As of this date, I have never won, but in all fairness there are some pretty amazing bakers to compete with!
The pie baking contest is a great motivator to try something new though, and this year my mind went to painted pastry. A few years ago I experimented with a similar technique for painting sugar cookies prior to baking, but I didn’t like the result once the cookies had puffed up slightly and cracked that surface. My theory was the pastry would give a better finish since it technically doesn’t rise, and I was right.
Pastry paint happens in the egg wash stage, and involves only a egg, some water, and some food colour paste or spray. To make this pie, I used both; The leaves and flowers were all painted but the blue flowers were sprayed with an air brush food colour I picked up. I just loved how vibrant all of the colours were! Added to it, were sugared cranberries and pecans, because I love the rustic look of fruit and nut garnishes.
It’s important to remember that the painting happens before baking because we’re using egg – I laid my cut and painted pieces on a cookie sheet and assembled them afterwards onto my pumpkin pie. The “glue” and clear glaze that was used for finishing, was just a bit of icing sugar mixed with water. The glaze gives all of that extra pastry a nice flavour that you can enjoy on it’s own (if that much pastry on your pie seems like overkill).
Here’s how I put this particular pie together. Have fun with your own creations!
The Pastry Paint – Recipe
Place the egg in a glass and whisk with the water for about half a minute. The water will break down the egg and make it less gluey. Divide your egg mixture between the mixing cups.
Using disposable toothpicks, add colour to your egg wash and mix pots of colour.
Paint your pastry! Be liberal with your egg wash, it will soak in. Bake the pieces until browned on the bottom and remove from the oven. The size of your pieces will make the cooking times vary, but these particular pieces were baked for 10 minutes at 350F.
Assemble your pie using a glaze mixed with icing sugar and water. Once it dries it will harden slightly and help hold everything in place. It also makes a nice all-over glaze for shine and flavour.
Post your creations online and use the hashtag #creativelybee so I can see your work! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Click here for my tutorial on making your own Pie Crust!
Mentally, I have always struggled with the very act of going on vacation. As a creative professional, my personal life and my professional life are happily interwoven. A day spent in the craft room working on projects does wonders for my emotional state, and there is nothing more relaxing than knitting outside by the fire pit, racing the sun with my ‘one more row’ mantra.
Even a day of running errands can also include moments of “look how gorgeous that field is, I have to take a picture” and “oh, Michaels is right here, i’ll just stop and grab some paint”. My part time day job is creative too! I decorate cookies all day long and they actually give me money to do that. Unreal.
For a lot of people, a vacation is a time to break away from the work, but to a creative type, it can be hard to imagine something better or more relaxing than just making stuff. In all honesty, tomorrow when we head out on vacation, my husband will lead me to the car while I look longingly back at the house; But by the time we get to the highway I will have reminded myself of the following things.
So how do creative types get the most from a vacation? How do we tap into the vein of the experience, and really find the true experience of going away somewhere? Here are some cool lessons I’ve learned:
Creative or not, our linear minds are a jumble of past experiences and future anticipations. This chronological way of thinking is something that the ancient greeks called chronos. Life measured in time.
The other word, lesser known, was kairos. Kairos measured life not by time, but by the moments. To experience kairos was to stop and truly immerse yourself in your current experience. The scent of the air, the new sights, the temperature, and even your breathing.
While on vacation, permit yourself to experience kairos. Trust me, it’s worth it.
Take Photos of your Family
When I was 26, I travelled to Romania with a group of friends. When I came home, my camera was full of photos of castles and mountains, ruins and art. I took photos of the amazing things I had seen, because I wanted to show people what I had experienced, but in the end I was just that girl chasing people around, trying to make them watch my metaphorical slide show.
The photos that mattered, and the ones that still do, are the ones with my friends and I. There’s the photo of three of us standing in the doorway of an ancient ruin. And two of us in the forest with a stray dog who liked belly rubs. There’s the one with our group, standing on top of the largest dam in the world.
When you go on vacation, take photos of the people your experiencing it with. They are the anchors in your memory and when you look back on the photo you will have more of a connection to the experience.
Embrace the Local Culture
Be you, but be you in a different place! I went to Nashville, and came home with spices from the most amazing spice shop. I went to New York State, and came home with wool from an Alpaca Farm. Don’t just do what everyone else does on vacation, experience the local culture your own way.
Most of all, remember to not put expectations or pressure on yourself while on vacation. Studies have shown that a break in your everyday routine is enough to get your creativity flowing, and new experiences force us to use parts of our brain that we otherwise dampen down. Journal any new ideas you have, and then leave them in the book so you can return to kairos and recharge. When you return home, you’ll be amazed with your increased focus, and the flow of fresh, new ideas.
Do you have more to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
I have a lot of hobbies, and somewhere along the way I turned that into a blog, facebook page, and a few fairly decent how-to videos… but they are not all equal, all the time.
Right now, I’m in a furniture phase.
For the past few years I’ve become braver when it comes to furniture, and I think it’s largely due to the fact that I just feel like this world has enough “stuff”. It’s also partly because I’m tired of paying money for things that fall apart after a few years, while the pieces I refinish sit as solid and new as the day I completed them.
I’m always stopping by thrift shops and junk stores, keeping my eyes open for something that could not only be refinished, but become a desirable item once again. Last month, my eyes caught a sad, old plant stand that had some water rot on the shelves, but the spindles and brass knobs were perfect. It was also $4.
Maybe I could have saved the shelves, but the water had caused some warping and it was easy enough to have new shelves made since my FIL is a top notch wood worker. He actually made me 3 shelves, to replace the 3 I had, but I made the decision to keep the stand at 2 shelves and kept the third pieces for another project.
While I usually refinish pieces in creams and ivory, I really wanted to use this vintage pear shade that I had, and I love how it came together with the vintage papers I used for the decoupage.
If you’ve never added paper into your refinishing techniques, you are missing out!
It’s a delicate process, but by using some modge-podge glue and good quality prints, you can layer the paper onto the wood, and once dry, sand it down to bring out the wood grain and give the paper a distressed look, much like you would with paint.
Here is another project I did, but using a paper napkin. You can see how the wood has almost absorbed the print!
I finished this piece with some brown antique wax, and a few clear coats to keep it water resistant.
So what do you think? Did I get my $4 worth?
I am by nature a very unfocussed person.
The kind of person who will go to the grocery store because I suddenly need one thing, pick up a bunch of other things while I’m there (to be efficient), and then come home and realize I forgot that one thing I actually went there for.
The kind of person who packs a lunch for work, the night before, and even gets my morning smoothie all ready in the cup for the blender – but leaves for work the next morning forgetting both things, and has to stop at the coffee shop for supplies.
I’m the girl who makes verbal plans with people, forgets about them, and then takes a spontaneous trip out of town because I have a *free* day.
It’s horrible, isn’t it?
My husband, my daughter and our friends… they think it’s part of my charm. They laugh, and forgive, and shake their heads, and sometimes it really is funny.
And then usually, when the situation is passed, I mentally berate myself for not being more focussed, more attentive, and I hate to say it…. a better person.
Over the past year, I had resolved to become more efficient, so I increased my personal studies on productivity and organization. I started with books that were bestsellers and recommended by Audible, but as I listened to each book I paid attention to the books the authors themselves referenced, or recommended. Now, almost a year later, my book choices are widely varied, and somehow I’ve gone from researching “skills and habits” to actually learning about how the mind works.
I know, I know. This is a craft blog. Trust me, I’m getting to the useful part.
There is a lot of info out there that can really help you understand how your mind works, but one of my favourite concepts was the truth about how we tend to view current responsibilities as aversion tasks. We also tend to put things off until tomorrow or next week, because we subconsciously view our future selves as the stronger, healthier, more put-together version of ourselves.
The problem is, our future self will never be better than the version we see today, not if we keep dumping on them. We can put off things all we like, but the aversion feelings are still locked into our mind. So we will continue to feel overwhelmed, overworked… and nothing gets done. Or we leave something so long that just as we finish, we are suddenly faced with 3 or 4 more things that need to be done right away. It’s like the longer life goes on, the harder it seems to get.
Can you see that in your own life? I immediately saw it in mine.
While many books promise the secret to becoming organized and productive, we creative types would just be wasting our money to try and apply them all. We are too scattered and wild to be channeled into a singular focus, and that’s okay because it’s what makes us, US.
The world needs more scattered and wild people, don’t you agree?
But there is a fantastic trick to having a good, productive day and guys… it involves time travel.
The technique is simple. In the morning, take a moment to visualize your future self.
My future self is amazing, fyi.
Think, you have to be good to your future self. What do you have to do today, to help that person? Be careful with your money today? Make some stock for your marketplace store today? Give your house a good cleaning today?
As you think about your tasks from the point of view of your future self, you’ll actually get a fast forward feeling of accomplishment. It’s exhilarating.
Now think of your future self at the end of today. Doing something relaxing and indulgent. What 3 things do you want to accomplish today, that will make that scene happen tonight?
Clean the house? Make 3 meals for the freezer? Help your daughter get her newspapers done so they’re off of your front porch (that might be mine).
Write them down, and do them. The limbic system of your brain will send out rebellious feelings of procrastination and will tempt you to shift your focus to something more rewarding, like watching videos of dogs being rescued from a dog meat farm in Korea (also mine). Call it out for what it is, and just do the three things.
I promise you, they won’t take as long, or be as difficult as your brain wants you to believe.
I’ve been using this method for a while now, and while I’m still forgetful and scattered (more on that another day, if I remember – haha), I’m actually ending each day so much better, and it’s helping me sleep better, which has made my mornings so much better!
Do you see where I’m going with this? I’m actually becoming my future me. Here’s an example of how this concept has changed my life so far:
6 months ago, I couldn’t wake up before 7am without being all kinds of cranky and needing a pot of coffee. It would take me at least an hour to be mentally alert enough for conversation. Not joking. I’m also 40, so I really thought there was no changing things at this point, except that it did.
Yesterday, I woke up at 4am, which is something I’ve been doing for a while and loving it. By 5:30am, I was at the gym and by 5:45am I was swimming laps. By 7am I was at work and feeling like 110%, and I had still barely had 1/2 of a cup of coffee.
Instead of being at work all day and thinking about how I’m going to be too tired to go to the gym afterward, I was on an emotional and mental high that lasted all day and it fed into every other task that followed. I am excited to see how where my life will be in a year, and I feel like I know myself so much better, already.
So if you have a craft business or are trying to start one but can’t seem to get all the things you think you need to get done, finished and moving forward… try this method! Your future-you, the more successful, healthier, happier YOU… will thank you.
There isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t take it personally when someone overlooks what we have made. It’s okay, we work hard. We imagine things, and give life to them with our hands. I own a handmade business and I’m a cake decorator, so when someone admires something I’ve put my heart and soul into, checks the price, and then immediately walks away – I feel your pain.
More on “Don’t look Rejected at a Show” another day 😉
I was in business for 6 years, and I hadn’t made a penny. Lot’s of sales, for sure, but no profits. In fact, there were some orders where I ended up paying out of pocket. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that, as ridiculous as it sounds.
In fact, it was a really long time before I began to ask myself if I cared more about the sale, then I did about making money.
I had this idea in my head that the more sales I made, the more people would tell their friends, and my business would grow. It was true in a sense, but eventually I realized that while people did tell their friends about what I made, it was the deal they talked about; And those referrals wanted the same.
A handmade business, even from home, is like any other. You have to have a little time and money to invest in your start up and stock. There needs to be product, enough that you can “fill” a store, and you need, really need, to be patient.
Patience might seem like a strange word, but the advantage to working from home is that your overhead isn’t going to kill you (I’m assuming you already had a home you were paying for, some other way). Use that to your advantage and don’t play the price-war with online and local retail shops. Patience is the thing I had to learn that finally helped me get my act together. I once waited 2 years for a particular wreath to sell. 2 years… I had online inquiries, but no follow ups. You can’t imagine how badly I wanted to pursue the sale, even if it meant a sale price… but the day an order for it came in online, I made a profit, and the woman who bought it loved it so much, she left me a lovely review.
These days, I focus on profits and not sales. I may sell less, but I am making more personal income. Yes, I still have the occasional friend of a friend, or family member ask me for something, but I have a new rule I live by. I price everything the same, and the price is the price, no deals. But if I can give this item as a gift, then I count the personal investment as a pay out to myself, that I then log as money I spent on a gift.
Below is a list of 4 really important points, a list that I personally review with every.single.product. I make to sell. It requires some organization, but the payoff is… literal, actually.
Setting the hourly rate is up to you, but this is the formula I follow. If I am hands on and working diligently, I charge a standard hourly rate and log it. If I am spending 5 minutes working, and 55 minutes waiting (therefore working on something else), I apply a reduced hourly rate to it. I don’t go so far though as to charge per minute… generally, the hour is the hour unless I really was only at it for about 5 or 10 minutes.
I’m not going to lie, sometimes that sale will take a long time to come if you don’t play the price game, but when it does come, you will make the money you earned.
Have anything to add to this list? Leave a comment! For more tips and shared ideas for having a Handmade Business, join my Facebook Group!!
Day in and day out, I watch food videos online and from the day I saw my first “Tasty” video, up until a few weeks ago, the evolution of my thoughts were as follows:
I want to eat that.
I think I can make that.
I think I can make that video.
It took me a few days of planning, and literally 11 hours to shoot and edit this one little video, but I can’t tell you how fun it was, or tiring, or the seriously weird things that happened behind the scenes. Let’s just say that Google help is life saver, and even I won’t be able to sew the tear that I got in my skirt while scaling the kitchen cupboards.
Since this was my first video tutorial, I wanted to show you something really cool and unique, and I think I nailed it with these Gluten and Dairy free brownies. I’m going to tell you (again and again and again) that it’s not always about wheat flour! There are really just some things you can make better with a different flour, and in this case, brown rice and corn flour take centre stage.
I use a standard cookie sheet for my brownies, always. They come out just the right thickness, and are so easy to remove and cut. You’ll see in the video that I discarded some side pieces – don’t you worry. I ate them.
Obviously, eating healthier was not in my list of new years resolutions for 2018.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy this tutorial and will feel inspired to make these brownies! Trust me, they are unbelievably delicious, and I’m not just saying that… I eat gluten all the time, this is just really a baking preference for quality and superior texture on these ones. Enjoy!
To see the actual video, visit this link here: https://www.facebook.com/zebradot/videos/1201062043361008/
Gluten and Dairy Free Brownies
Blend all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Spray a standard cookie sheet with cooking spray, line with parchment, and spray again.
Carefully spread the very sticky, thick batter over the parchment. You may need to hold the parchment a little. Go slow, it will be tricky but you’ll get the hang of it. Make sure it is spread evenly.
Sprinkle 1 cup of gluten and dairy free chocolate chips or chunks, over the top.
Bake in the hot oven for 20-25 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test. The brownies will appear very puffy, they’ll settle back down as they cool.
Once cooled, slide the brownies from the pan and cut into squares. They will keep very well, in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Since this recipe makes so many, I recommend freezing half the batch.
Feel free to leave me a comment! We’ll chat over brownies.
For as much as I love to shop in craft stores, they’re also a great source of inspiration for me. I find that a good hour of wandering through the aisles, with latte in hand, can do wonders for my creativity so I try to plan those times and make them happen.
Let’s call them R & D (Research and Development) sessions. It just sounds more professional. Haha.
On a recent wander, I saw the most adorable idea. It was a plate, called The Sharing Plate, and it had this little poem on it about the plate having no owner, and that if you received this plate you should enjoy what’s on it, and then refill it and pass it along. I loved the idea and the feeling of hospitality and love it conveyed, but I did NOT love the $40 price tag.
I’ve been meaning to try Sharpie art for a while, so this seemed a good time to try it out. I bought a plate from Dollar Tree for $1.25 and began experimenting until I had some real, personal success.
So, before you start… I find the Internet is full of tutorials for how to do things, but let’s be honest, following someone else’s instructions doesn’t always work out. If they did, we wouldn’t have those entertaining Pinterest “fail” boards, right? So when I say this is what worked for me, remember that you shouldn’t buy the most expensive platter you can find and dive in head first. I really suggest you do a “trial” plate first, and subject it to whatever test you can think of. Then buy the plate you like, and have at it.
For myself, I hand washed my plate twice, and then put it through my dishwasher on the express cycle. This tutorial is based on the outcome of all of that.
Tips & Suggestions:
If you make one, I’d love to see it! Share it with me on my Facebook page or add a photo in the comments here. Have fun!
The Giving Plate (poem)
This plate shall have no owner
It’s journey never ends.
It travels in the circle
Of our family and friends.
It carries love from home to home
For everyone to share
The food that sits upon it
Was made with love and care.
So enjoy this now
But fill it up again
Then pass along the love this holds
To our family and friends.
This homemade pasta is so hearty, takes on other flavors very well, and is really quick and simple to make! No resting time required, just throw it all in a mixer, roll it out very thin and boil.
This recipe also happens to be 100% gluten free; Not because I was converting it, but simply because I found these ingredients the easiest to work with. The dough held up to the rigorous, repetitive thinning through my pasta roller, better than any wheat pasta recipe I’ve made, and the cooked texture is perfect.
Even the boiling process is very easy and quick! Have you ever boiled store bought gluten free noodles? Talk about sticky and falling apart. These noodles however, do neither. Just 3 minutes in the pot, and then onto the plate.
There seems to be a popular feeling that eating something gluten free, is to eat the lesser, weaker version of the food. Anyone who has ever eaten authentic mexican would know how wrong that thought process is, and it’s the same with these noodles. Sometimes, the better flour to use is Rice. Or Corn. Or Oat.
Sometimes, wheat flour is just the weaker, lesser version.
Two things you should know about this recipe; One, a mixer or food processor is going to be really handy. This dough comes together tough and thick. Second, because this dough is so tough, it will be difficult to roll out. I use my heavy marble rolling pin to get it down to 1/4″, and then the rest of it is through my pasta roller. Remember to keep your surface, pasta roller and hands well dusted with rice flour.
When it comes to flavoring this pasta, it’s easiest to add the flavor via the oil. Personally, I like using coconut oil, but you can also use sun-dried tomato oil, sesame oil, or a fancy flavored olive oil. We actually like the Wild Mushroom and Sage infused olive oil for just about everything.
Homemade Pasta Recipe
Naturally Gluten Free
Approx. time: 30 minutes
Add all ingredients except for the eggs into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend thoroughly, and then add the eggs, one at a time. Increase the speed to medium, and let it all come together, about a minute.
There is no resting required with this dough. Roll it out to about 1/4″ thick and trim it into a rectangle. Dust both sides with flour and dust your pasta roller.
I used the #7 setting for the first run through. Lay it out and dust both sides again. I repeated this process on settings #6 and then #4.
There is no drying time required either. Bring a pot of water to a boil, liberally salted and a splash of oil added. Boil the pasta for 3 minutes, drain and rinse.
The thin sheets can be used for ravioli like I did, or cut into strips for a lasagna casserole. I also used half of the pasta to make broad noodles, which I ate for lunch. They were delicious.