Saturday, June 12, 2010
Hi everyone, Denise here with my first LOTW!
This week I chose nana_vg’s Why I Take Photos. I saw this layout and loved the depth she created with her shadows, especially on her headline. The colors in the Blossom kit are very feminine and the blue paper really stands out, helping to draw the eye to the journaling. And the journaling! The Shabby Princess and I really enjoyed nana_vg’s theme. So often journaling is about an event and it was a great reminder to write from the scrappers perspective, about why we have a hobby and important background stories we can share with our family. Thanks so much for posting and sharing your fantastic journaling, nana_vg – you should have a $10 gift card to the Shoppe in your email box :)
It was such a treat to look through the gallery and see all the entries in the Easy as Pie Template Challenges, One and Two. The team has really been enjoying all the different themes people have used for the templates. Thanks so much for participating! :)
Have a great weekend everyone!
Layout of the Week, Uncategorized
Friday, June 11, 2010
Happy Friday everyone! Kylie here! This is my very first blog posting and I get to start with one of my favourite things – FOOD! So let’s begin with something bright and cheery :o), a recipe or TWO, some hints and tips, and a FREE recipe card that you can download!!
This weekend, why not take it easy, put your feet up (you deserve it!!) and enjoy the sunshine. Summer has arrived and it’s time keep cool with a refreshingly icy treat, full of flavour, and no fuss to make. This dessert is so simple why not get the kids involved! They’ll love it!!
Orchards are bursting with sunny goodness! Why not take advantage of stone fruit & their blushing cheeks, masses upon masses of delicious berries, exotic tropical fruit, and the fruit of the season – pink and juicy watermelons! And what better way to enjoy this abundance of fruit (other than picked straight off the tree) than spoonfuls of icy GRANITA!!
Granita (Italian name), or Granite (French name) is a crushed ice dessert that combines a simple sugar syrup with various fruit purees, liqueurs, wines, brewed coffee or tea. Granita is often confused with its close cousins: sherbet and sorbet. Sherbet contains milk or cream and sometimes egg. It can also be churned like ice-cream to give a smoother, richer texture. Sorbets do not contain any dairy, are churned, and can be either sweet or savoury.
Here are some of my favourite Granita flavour suggestions. (But really the sky’s the limit as this dessert is just so versatile!)
Fresh, fruity and fun!
- Summer berries
- White peach and raspberry
- Orange and passionfruit
Or, for something a little different and ever so chic!
- Nectarine and black pepper
- Cherry and vanilla
- Fig and ginger
- Lime and mint
Or, for that special occasion & just for the grown-ups!
- Espresso coffee
- Pineapple, lemon grass and light rum
- Strawberry and Champagne
- Pink grapefruit and Campari
It really was too hard to pick just one recipe! So in the end I chose the two I love to eat the most! Watermelon – sweet and “fruitilious” and always refreshing! And my second choice – Espresso! – perfect on a hot day when a hot coffee just won’t do!
Making Granita is easy – choose a flavour, add to a sugar syrup and let the freezer go to work (a helping hand lovingly required, every so often)! Here are the recipes:
1kg (2 1/4 lb) watermelon flesh (de-seeded)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups water
Place watermelon flesh in a food processor and process until smooth. Alternatively you can push the flesh through a fine sieve. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir slowly over a low heat until sugar has dissolved. Add the watermelon puree, stir until well combined and then pour into a shallow 20 x 30 cm (7 3/4 x 12 in) metal tin or plastic container. Cover and place in the freezer. After 1 hour use a fork to scrape the newly formed ice crystals into the middle of the container. Return to the freezer and repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set. To serve, scrape the ice again with a fork and then spoon into chilled serving glasses or bowls. Serve with fresh pieces of watermelon, rockmelon (cantaloupe) or honeydew melon. Serves 6-8
4 cups (1L / 16 fl oz) strong filter or french press coffee
1 cup (220g / 7 3/4 oz) sugar
4 tablespoons of your favourite coffee liqueur
Place hot coffee and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat immediately and simmer for a few minutes until all sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Stir in the coffee liqueur and then pour into a shallow 20 x 30 cm (7 3/4 x 12 in) metal tin or plastic container. Cover and place in the freezer. After 1 hour use a fork to scrape the newly formed ice crystals into the middle of the container. Return to the freezer and repeat every hour for 3-4 hours or until set. To serve, scrape the ice again with a fork and then spoon into chilled serving glasses. Top with some whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon or drinking cocoa powder. Serves 6-8
Both these iced treats will keep in the freezer for up to one week. Be sure to cover them tightly to avoid other freezer smells.
Hints and tips:
Fruit and sugar – a balancing act! When making Granita the strength of the sugar syrup depends entirely on the type of fruit you choose and its ripeness. Citrus fruits – like oranges, lemons and limes, require a heavy sugar syrup as a base. While, sweeter fruit – like strawberries, cherries, nectarines, high in natural sugars only need a light sugar syrup.
Sugar syrup – a very important part of the Granita equation! A basic mix of sugar and water – with differing ratios depending on its use.
- Equal parts sugar and water (normal stock syrup)
- 1 part sugar to 2 parts water (light syrup)
- 2 parts sugar to 1 part water (heavy syrup)
When making a sugar syrup add the water to the saucepan first and then pour the sugar slowly to evenly coat the bottom. Bring to the boil on a low heat to prevent the sugar from crystallizing and burning before it has had time to dissolve. To check if all the sugar has dissolved, run your spoon along the side to see if it still feels grainy.
Equipment – It’s best to use a large, flat, shallow metal tin to freeze the Granita mixture. This will allow it to freeze quickly and evenly. And, use a large metal fork instead of a spoon to scrape and flake the newly formed ice crystals. If you’re not entirely happy with the result after the final scraping you can give it a quick whizz in a food processor/or blender to make the ice granules smaller – but not too long or it will turn to slush!
So if you feel like something fresh and fruity, pick a flavour combo, whip up a batch and sit back and ENJOY! (Warning: Over-excited eating may cause brain freeze! LOL!!) And, if you are short on time and have a cocktail blender or food processor that crushes ice well, why not pour the liquid Granita mix into some ice cube trays, freeze and pull out when you’re ready to serve. Pop no more than 5 cubes (depending on size) into the blender at one time. As simple as that!
Here is a 6 x 4” recipe card to get you started. Simply print it out and add to your recipe box! You may have noticed that I’ve used this week’s product spotlight – Island Chic! Really, how could I not – I have a total crush on those colours!! (Get it.. Granita, ice, crush! LOL! – sorry, couldn’t help myself! LOL!) :o)
Thanks for reading!! Have a great weekend and enjoy the sunshine! Oh and be sure to check back tomorrow for LOTW!!
Food Stuff, Uncategorized
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Hey everyone, it’s Lu again :o) I’m back today to show you that “quick & easy” teacher (or anybody) gift idea that I mentioned earlier in the week. As I detailed in this week’s Product Spotlight post, Island Chic is a wonderful kit for summer. And it’s also perfect for creating those vacation- inspired gifts. I wanted to put together a little basket (or in my case, a bowl) of “get-away goodies”, and as always, it needed to be “speedy quick”. Although I did find my treats at more of a specialty shop, I know that you can find similiar items at any local supercenter. I found salsa-flavored chips, lemon snap cookies, tropical & lemon flavored teas, tropical-flavored candies & yummy smellin’ candles. Even if they don’t make it past the front porch, these treats are sure to please!
And this is where that personal, hybrid touch comes in… As I had chosen simple, clear cylinder shaped votives, I knew it would be a cinch to create a candle wrap. I just measured the space I wanted to cover with a seamstress tape & then created my new document in PSE slightly larger. I drew out my rectangle tool to the dimensions I had measured for my clipping mask. From there, I just layered on the papers and elements I wanted to use.
As for the candy box- actually just one of those decorative “chinese take-out” boxes (which I love, love, love and can be obtained at most craft stores), I just created another simple design for that. But I did use one small “trick”…because the box has a slight angle (it’s not a perfect 90 degree), I knew that a square or rectangle clipping mask would look a bit “off”. So I measured all four sides & created my new document (again, slightly larger). To create the clipping mask, I used my rectangle tool again. Once I had the approximate size, I held down my control key, dragging out the upper bounding boxes a bit. This gave me that slight “trapezoid” shape for my clipping mask. Again, I layered the papers and elements, changing them up a bit from the candle wrap. Then I moved on to the gift tag… this one was really easy-peasey. Island Chic already has those circular tags, so I just threw on the flip-flops, the “to/from” text & I was done. I printed, cut out, and attached everything with double stick tape (you can also use mounting dots for some dimension on the candy box, if you like). I wrapped it up with clear cellophane wrap, tied on some coordinating ribbon & wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, it was done! As for the container to hold those goodies- use your imagination, the sky’s the limit! I chose my bowl for several reasons: 1) it was that perfect green, 2) I was putting “salsa chips” in it, so I figured they could use the bowl for the chips, 3) it was readily accessible and last but not least, 4) it was cheap! Only $1 for it. Can’t beat that with a stick! Uh, that’s just a little southern colloquial for ya’ll, but translated it means: “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
Now, with all that said about “quick & easy”…if I lived in a perfect world- or had a bigger container- I would’ve also thrown in some flip-flops & a Southern Living magazine. There are soooo many great “fillers” for this theme and I sure hope I’ve sparked your imagination. If I have, we’d love to see your take on it! Please show us what you’ve created by uploading to the hybrid gallery & then linking us up at the comment section of this post. Finally, I hope that you’ll take advantage of the current sale price of Island Chic…it is sure to be a kit you’ll reach for again & again this summer!
Hybrid Projects, Uncategorized
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Hi, Beckie here :o)
I recently returned from my trip to Toronto and I’m pleased to report that I have TONS of fun photos to organize and scrap! At one point I started deleting the bad ones…but then realized that in addition to sharing some of the “good” ones to illustrate some of our lessons, the bad ones would be just as effective! So here you go – this week’s Focus on Photos is a review of some good, some not so good photos from my trip.
We had the excellent fortune of visiting Toronto while the Harry Potter exhibit was at the Science Centre (yep, they spell “Center” wrong up there). Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed in the exhibit itself, so I had to settle for getting a photo of the big banner out front and the SUPER cool Flying Ford Anglia hanging in the main lobby of the Centre. Luckily I was able to get a shot of the car from the second floor, which allowed me to get on the correct level to capture the car itself (and not the undercarriage!). Unfortunately there was a SUPER bright window directly behind the car in the only angle available to me.
As we’ve discussed before, the camera is really helpful with telling you when your photo is properly exposed, but there are limitations. Subject matter with strong back lighting is DEFINITELY one situation where your camera will likely be fooled. For the car photo, I knew that there was no way to properly expose both the bright window in the back and the car in the foreground, so I opted to ensure that the CAR was properly exposed. As you can see, the result is the blown out sky behind the car. The term blown is used when something gets so bright that there isn’t any actual color data remaining (it is interpreted as pure white and detail is all lost). However, by sacrificing the sky, the car itself if well exposed.
So how would you do this yourself? You need to change your metering mode. When shooting in manual mode, your camera allows you to set the metering mode, which indicates the sample size considered when displaying the meter and the resulting exposure of the shot. Most likely your camera will default to evaluative metering, which means the camera will look at the overall frame and expose it as a whole. In this case, with the bright background, the camera would read all the brightness and ensure that the bright areas are not blown out, resulting in the rest of the photo coming out too dark.
The metering mode I use most often is spot metering. Spot metering samples a significantly smaller area of the overall frame when it determines what makes something properly exposed. In the example above, I used spot metering, put the focal point on the car, and read the meter to adjust the settings accordingly. I knew the car would be properly exposed, but as a result, the background window would be blown. I’ll also add that I sometimes take shots slightly darker than what the meter suggests when the background is as dominant as it is in this shot. That gives me the option of coming back later with photo editing software to spot adjust portions of the photo (like making the car a bit lighter without blowing out the ENTIRE sky background). This is SOOC (straight out of camera) though.
The photo below, the banner hanging outside the exhibit, is another great example. I wanted the lighter gray areas near their faces to be properly exposed, so I put the focal point on that part of the banner and adjusted the settings until my meter read 0 (zer0). I knew that other areas would be way too dark, but frankly, that’s how it was in reality and I thought the darkness contributed to the overall mood of the shot anyhow. ;o)
You should read your camera’s manual to learn more about the metering modes available! the names of the metering modes vary between Canon and Nikon, but they largely still function the same. Your manual will give you more detailed information on each of the modes available to you. The easiest way to learn? CHANGE IT! With a mode like spot (or even partial metering), you’ll notice that the meter reading varies tremendously as you move the focal point around to different objects in your frame. With evaluative metering, the meter reading is more consistent from object to object within your frame, as it is really giving you an “average” assessment of the light need for the entire frame.
This may seem obvious but…
Put your camera back into Auto mode when you have someone else take a picture. *sigh*. I set the shot up myself, confident that I had it focused and metered properly for the shot, before handing the camera over to a passerby to get this picture. On my LCD screen it seemed fine, but later when I got home I was SUPER bummed that it was, in fact, blurry. And no wonder, what with such a wide open aperture (the f number) and crazy slow shutter speed! All I had to do was accept a little bit of flash and set the darn thing to auto and let the camera do its job.
I was really looking forward to this photo, too – I mean – how funny is that? It cracks me up that my hubby is the little mini (kid-size) astronaut! This was just going to be a silly snapshot anyway, so there was no reason for me to have kept it in manual mode. Sometimes you can outsmart yourself, apparently. ;o)
We now interrupt this photography post for a quick shopping related find…
How cute is THAT? Silicone molds for baking individual cupcakes in TEA CUPS! Fred Tea Cupcakes will definitely be served at my daughter’s birthday party in the fall, and in fact, I’m totally inspired to have a fun fancy dress-up dinner party for her girlfriends as the theme of the party! We’ve already talked about it and started planning ;o) Oh, and I guess it is photography related to mention that since I take my camera just about everywhere, I often take pictures of things I want to remember…just like these tea cupcakes!
You’ve got something on your shirt…
In yet another example of when I handed the camera off to a passerby to get a photo of my wonderful hubby and me together, I was immediately aware of two things when I saw the first photo below: 1) that pearl necklace was a really unfortunate fashion decision on my part, and 2) that flower on my boob is definitely a distraction. Luckily our random photographer was kind enough to take TWO shots for us (without me even asking) and she apparently backed up for the second one, which THANKFULLY provided greater perspective on the pattern of my shirt (Target, ladies, FYI!). However, I may have to resort to Photoshop to correct the June Cleaver throwback pearls. ;o)
So there is a greater lesson to be learned here…you should definitely consider the “in camera crop” when you’re framing a shot. You can always crop in tighter later using software, and with the exceptional resolution and file size from today’s cameras, your cropped photos will still have incredible detail.
Everyday items are beautiful
I know I mentioned this before – the importance of capturing something from all angles, including the details of special moments and events. One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto, a wonderful, eclectic location that transforms into a bustling produce-meat-cheese-gourmet foods-dry goods bazaar of incredible proportions on Saturdays. I could have spent ALL DAY shopping, sampling, EATING…strolling through the market and enjoying the atmosphere. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, and I took TONS of photos of the beautiful foods available. YUM!
My parting shots…
Niagara Falls. Gorgeous. I highly recommend the Maid of the Mist boat ride if you ever have the opportunity!
So that’s it! I hope you all have a great summer vacation, can’t wait to see your photos in YOUR scrapbook pages!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Hey everyone, this is Lu! I’m so excited to be doing my very first ever post ! (Please be gentle with your comments! LOL!) I am especially happy to be bringing you this product spotlight, at this particular time. I just love it when things work out, don’t you? But I’m working a little backwards on this, so I’m going to ask you to extend me some grace as I lay it out. For me, this product highlight coincided with the culmination of the school year and as I was considering what to give as teacher gifts. I knew I wanted to do a hybrid project and was visualizing a summer vacation “theme”. The Island Chic kit immediately came to mind! I actually first used this kit a few years ago for my daughter’s birthday, so I already knew the papers & elements were perfect for summer. And what teacher wouldn’t appreciate the “I just want to get away”/Island theme? So that was actually my starting point, and without further ado, I’m eager to show you some additional inspiration from the Shabby Artists to help “kick off” the summer season!
from Beckie and Marya:
from Trish and Kylie:
from Denise and Anna:
And, here’s the layout I created. And while I’m here, I also gotta mention that I used those awesome Scallops, Shapes and More!
That’s my “reintroduction” to Island Chic! If it’s new to you, then I sure hope we’ve inspired you to get a jump on scrapping some “fun in the sun”. You can pick it up on sale this week for only $4.88. Now, about those teacher gifts I previously mentioned… I’ll be right back on Thursday to show you a quick & easy hybrid project that will say “get some rest“, I mean, “thank you” to all those hard-working teachers and principals (and secretaries & guidance counselors…)! For that matter, this would make a great summer- starter for anyone! So be sure to check back in for that. Until then, happy scrappin’ to you all!
Product Spotlight, Uncategorized