Author Archive

Feb 8, 2019

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Regularly scheduled dinners for two are a wonderful way to deepen your connection as a couple.

Whether you make it one night a week or every other week, this is your time to focus on your relationship. Share the highs and lows of your week and how you feel about what’s going on in your lives. Share what you’re grateful for and what you appreciate about each other and your love. Ask about each other’s lives and listen with genuine interest to what’s on your minds and in your hearts.

The meal doesn’t have to be fancy but you can make the evening feel a little extra special by following these tips:

1. Put your phones away and turn off the TV, the computer and other distractions.

2. If you have kids, arrange for them to spend a few hours at the house of a friend or family member so you can be alone.

3. Set an inviting table with a tablecloth, cloth napkins and pretty dinnerware.

4. Add your favorite flowers or garden greens in a vase.

5. Leave each other sweet little notes or some other small token of appreciation at your place settings.

6. Plan on serving foods you both enjoy.

7. Play soft music in the background.

8. Dine by candlelight.

January’s wallpaper inspired us to follow our dreams. But often while we’re doing that, we find ourselves at a crossroads, torn between two directions, two choices. Sometimes the mind and heart play a little tug-of-war with the decisions we need to make. Fortunately, the heart is wise and wonderful. The key is to eliminate the distractions so we can listen to it. One of the simplest, most effective, cost-free ways to get out of our heads and be attuned to our hearts is to meditate. We found this short meditation helpful.

This month’s free wallpaper download is a beautiful inspiration to “follow your heart.” Whatever question is on your mind, we hope this lovely digital wallpaper encourages you to do just that as you confront those important decisions on the way to your dreams. Please feel free to send the link to someone you care about.

And don’t forget to download it to your phone or desktop, too, for some inspiration whenever you need it.

Click any of the links below to select the size that works best for you. Once the image pops up in a new window, simply right click and save.

Desktop wallpaper with calendar: 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

Desktop wallpaper without calendar: 1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

iPhone wallpaper: iPhone 5 | iPhone 6, 8 | iPhone 6+, 7, 7+, 8+

Android wallpaper: Moto G, X – Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Z3 Compact | Google Pixel – HTC One M8, M9, X10 – LG G2 – Moto X (2nd Gen) – Samsung Galaxy S5, S8, S7+ – Nexus 5, 5x | Google Pixel 2 – HTC U11 – LG G3, G5 – Samsung Galaxy S4, S6, S7, S7 Edge – Nexus 6, 6p – Sony Xperia C4, Z Ultra, Z2, Z3, XZ1 | LG G6, G6+, V30, V30+ | Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+

Questions or having trouble downloading? Contact [email protected]

We love any opportunity to get together with family and friends. And there’s no need to stress over a complicated menu. Throwing a soup party or building regular soup days into your calendar are a wonderfully low-key option for savoring the joy of getting together without all of the fuss.

Here are a few tips for making the most of this casual celebration:

1. Have guests serve themselves from the pot of soup in the kitchen. This keeps things informal and helps limit the mess of dishing soup out at the table.

2. Spice things up with toppings like Greek yogurt, pepitas, shredded cheese, scallions, pesto and croutons.

3. For an even heartier meal, pair with bread. A multigrain loaf, baguette or sourdough boule are great options.

4. For a sweet finish, consider fresh fruit or a few of your favorite chocolate bars to pass around the table.

Gathering friends and family in one place to share a meal should be fun, not stressful. Keep it simple with these easy suggestions for bringing good food and good company together!

1. Plan on serving appetizers only and invite everyone to bring their favorite finger food.

2. Create a pizza bar with personal-sized pizzas, sauce, cheese and a selection of toppings.

3. Set up a taco or burrito bar with fillings and toppings.

4. Bring out the crockpot. Few things are easier than throwing in a handful of ingredients, leaving the kitchen and, hours later, ending up with a ready-to-serve meal.

5. Throw a dessert party. Skip dinner altogether and have each guest bring a favorite dessert or set up a sundae bar with cones, hot fudge, caramel sauce, sprinkles and other fun toppings.

6. Host a cheese and chocolate night. Everyone brings a cheese and chocolate goody of their choice. You provide crackers or a crusty bread, olives, nuts and one or two fruit spreads. And don’t forget the wine!

There are so many fun things we can do to connect as a family — cooking meals together, hiking, playing games, getting creative with an arts and craft project, cozying up for a movie night…

To set a meaningful example for your kids and teach them the values of community, tolerance and responsibility, volunteering as a family for a community service project can be an amazing experience.

Here are some of our favorite ways to inspire kids to remember that they can make a difference.

Volunteer at a community food bank or kitchen Offer to help out at your local animal shelter Contact your local senior center or nursing home: lonely seniors often enjoy visits from kids Offer to bring meals to those who are homebound and spend some time with them Grab some garbage bags and decide to clean up the trash at the park or playground Join an environmental nonprofit for one of their community tree planting days, or to help with a community garden or other greenspace projects

We all have dreams! But for some reason, many of us find ourselves procrastinating instead of passionately pursuing them. Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck at the “commit and pursue” point. Here are a few simple tips to help you follow through:

1) Talk about your dream! Somehow when we verbalize a goal or idea to another person we know will be supportive, it becomes more real…and we feel energized.

2) Break it down into baby steps, and make a to-do list. You’ll find even the most mundane task involves multiple steps. (For instance, if you need to create a resume, first you need to gather your job history information. You may also need to contact people for references.)

3) Choose two or three of the steps on that list and commit to getting them done today. This is how you build momentum! Momentum is its own motivation.

4) Make sure you situate yourself in a place that’s free of distractions… and stay focused. Start by setting a timer for an hour, then stay on task for that time. Don’t allow yourself to drift into folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, checking mail, etc. It’s ok to take a short break when the hour is up. Stretch. Step outside. Have a quick snack. Then go back to the task at hand and repeat until you’ve completed those two or three items from your list.

5) Once you’ve finished those, look at your list, and choose the tasks you will accomplish tomorrow. Then reward yourself with something small. Treat yourself to coffee. Take a walk. Give yourself a half hour to read your favorite book.

Seeing the first month of a brand new year on the calendar brings its own special thrill. There’s so much to anticipate, to dream about, to imagine. There’s the mystery about what the year ahead will bring. There will be opportunities to seize. And above all, there are the possibilities…those beautiful musings of what could come to fruition if we envision, commit and most important, pursue our dreams. (In fact, we even have some tips to help you follow through.)

We hope you find this month’s free calendar download inspires you to think about what’s possible for you in the year to come! Feel free to send the link to this month’s free download to someone you care about.

And don’t forget to download it to your phone or desktop, too, for some gentle inspiration whenever you need it.

Click any of the links below to download the size that works best for you. Once the image pops up in a new window, simply right click and save.

Desktop wallpaper with calendar:1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

Desktop wallpaper without calendar:1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

iPhone wallpaper:iPhone 5 | iPhone 6, 8 | iPhone 6+, 7, 7+, 8+

Android wallpaper:Moto G, X – Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Z3 Compact | Google Pixel – HTC One M8, M9, X10 – LG G2 – Moto X (2nd Gen) – Samsung Galaxy S5, S8, S7+ – Nexus 5, 5x | Google Pixel 2 – HTC U11 – LG G3, G5 – Samsung Galaxy S4, S6, S7, S7 Edge – Nexus 6, 6p – Sony Xperia C4, Z Ultra, Z2, Z3, XZ1 | LG G6, G6+, V30, V30+ | Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+

Questions or having trouble downloading? Contact [email protected]

 

Kathy Davis has always known that the joy she experienced from creating was something she wanted to share with others. But little did she know, some thirty years ago when she started making Christmas cards to send to family and friends, that her craft would one day help holiday well-wishers around the world stay in touch with loved ones.

“It really warms my heart to know that my cards are helping people to connect at the holidays,” she says.

She pauses for a moment, then continues. “Our lives are so busy that staying in touch can be a challenge. Taking the time to send a card with a note or photo is one simple way to let others know you care. And the holiday season is such a nice time to feel connected!”

As passionate as Kathy is about sending cards and helping others to do the same, she says she equally enjoys opening her own mail to find cards during the holiday season. “Personally, I just love receiving cards from friends and family far and near!”

Every holiday card sent is an individual expression of love, and for Kathy Davis, that’s what Christmas is all about.

 

 

You’ve found the perfect gifts for all of your favorite people. And now it’s time to wrap them. Here are some easy suggestions for making a lovely presentation of that special gift or card.

Use washi or other decorative tape on folds and seams of wrapping paper or to add a festive accent to your card.
Add some fun texture by pairing gift wrap ribbon with yarn or twine.
Instead of tying a bow, add a fun ornament or small gift that you’ve made yourself.
Print out a photo of the gift recipient on card stock and use as a gift tag.
Create a monogram for your card or gift by cutting out the recipient’s initial and gluing it to a fun holiday shape — a tree, Santa hat, ornament or stocking — cut out of felt, glitter cardstock or wrapping paper in a contrasting color.
Use berries, pine cones, sprigs of greenery and other natural found objects to embellish your card or gift.
Create your own festive design on brown parcel paper, kraft paper or paper bags with a holiday-themed stamp roller or stamp pads.
Add some extra flourish to the recipient’s name on a card with lovely hand-lettering, doodles or drawings of holiday icons.

 

Here at Kathy Davis, we love the chance to pause from the day to day and enjoy each other’s company. We often gather for lunch, celebrate birthdays and milestones, or even just take a short coffee break together. It’s amazing how simple “time-outs” like these not only re-charge our creativity and energy, they remind us how much we mean to each other! In much the same way, taking a break from the holiday hustle and bustle can be a wonderful “bonding time” in our personal lives, whether it’s a casual meal with the family or with friends.

 

 

Plan something fun! The conversation will flow, and you’ll all have a great time catching up. You can keep it simple. You don’t have to prepare a full dinner; it’s enough to set out platters of cookies with festive beverages for your guests. Here are just a few ideas:

 

Invite friends over to cut paper snowflakes.
Gather a group to make holiday greeting cards for hospitalized children or nursing home residents.
Bake a few batches of cookies ahead of time (the refrigerated supermarket dough is just fine!), and have your kids invite a few friends to come decorate them.
Have a dessert gathering…without feeling obligated to bake! Pick up some goodies from your favorite bakery, set out a large pot of coffee and hot cocoa, and enjoy.
Have an informal happy hour – with or without cocktails. Set out some crudités and a few appetizers and invite everyone to the table.

 

You can do this! So why not take a break from this busy season, sit down together at the table, and share your smiles, your stories and your hearts.

To learn about other ways to connect – and to find beautiful and thoughtful gifts for your favorite host – check out additional posts on our site.

The month of December brings to mind beauty, wonder and serenity…as well as celebration, joy and love. That’s why we’ve decided to offer two unique designs and messages for this month’s free calendar download.

We hope you’ll check them both out and choose your favorite…or select one for now, then one for later in the month. Whichever you choose, we hope this free digital wallpaper brings an added touch of inspiration to your holiday season. Please feel free to send the link(s) to someone you care about.

And don’t forget to download it to your phone or desktop, too, for some seasonal inspiration whenever you need it.

Click any of the links below to select the size that works best for you. Once the image pops up in a new window, simply right click and save.

 

Wallpaper #1 – Christmas Theme

Desktop wallpaper with calendar:
1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

Desktop wallpaper without calendar:
1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

iPhone wallpaper:
iPhone 5 | iPhone 6, 8 | iPhone 6+, 7, 7+, 8+

Android wallpaper:
Moto G, X – Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Z3 Compact | Google Pixel – HTC One M8, M9, X10 – LG G2 – Moto X (2nd Gen) – Samsung Galaxy S5, S8, S7+ – Nexus 5, 5x | Google Pixel 2 – HTC U11 – LG G3, G5 – Samsung Galaxy S4, S6, S7, S7 Edge – Nexus 6, 6p – Sony Xperia C4, Z Ultra, Z2, Z3, XZ1 | LG G6, G6+, V30, V30+ | Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+

 

Wallpaper #2 – Winter Theme

Desktop wallpaper with calendar:
1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

Desktop wallpaper without calendar:
1280 x 800 | 1440 x 900 | 1680 x 1050 | 2560 x 1440

iPhone wallpaper:
iPhone 5 | iPhone 6, 8 | iPhone 6+, 7, 7+, 8+

Android wallpaper:
Moto G, X – Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, Z3 Compact | Google Pixel – HTC One M8, M9, X10 – LG G2 – Moto X (2nd Gen) – Samsung Galaxy S5, S8, S7+ – Nexus 5, 5x | Google Pixel 2 – HTC U11 – LG G3, G5 – Samsung Galaxy S4, S6, S7, S7 Edge – Nexus 6, 6p – Sony Xperia C4, Z Ultra, Z2, Z3, XZ1 | LG G6, G6+, V30, V30+ | Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+

Questions or having trouble downloading? Contact [email protected]

Ten years before she started her greeting card business, Kathy Davis began a holiday tradition that would become one of her most cherished. She began designing her own Christmas cards.

“I printed my very first card in just one color and decorated it with a hand-cut rubber stamp to add a touch of color,” she recalls.

Her kids were little at the time and she got them involved in the design process. The cards, including the envelopes she sent them in, were an instant hit with family and friends.

“I learned that people LOVE to see their names hand-lettered and decorated!” says Kathy.

She never imagined this beloved personal practice would ultimately inspire her professional career as a greeting card writer and designer.

“The positive feedback from friends and family who received my cards was the encouragement I needed to launch my business,” she says.

All these years later, Kathy still looks forward to hand-lettering and designing the envelopes for those on her Christmas card list — which includes 120 of her favorite people. Many have told her they collect the cards and matching envelopes and some even display them each holiday season.

“My Christmas card practice has become a major December project of mine!” she says.

It’s also a labor of love, her way of giving something of herself to the people who mean the most to her.

 

Now that the busy holiday season is in full swing, we thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on the traditions, memories and moments that make holiday get-togethers so special for each of us. A few members of our team share theirs below.

 

CAROL
Growing up, although I was loved, I missed belonging to a large family. My friends had large extended families nearby and had big Sunday dinners. My nearby family was small, but everything changed on Thanksgiving! My older sisters came home with their families in tow, my Uncle and Grandmother came from New York and stayed for the weekend. We sat at one large table, feasted on my Mother’s wonderful turkey dinner and teased her about her famous burnt dinner rolls and shared dessert, hugs, kisses, games, dreams of Christmas. All was right with the world, and we were all blessed with the wonderful sense of secure belonging that only family can bring.

JANET
One year, we had “I am thankful for” place cards at the table. Each one had an arrow pointing to the person next to you and you had to say why you were thankful for them. It was a fun way for us to connect with each other.

JOANNA
Thanksgiving is always one of my favorite holidays! I’m very lucky to have my whole family close by, and we all get together for Thanksgiving dinner. Many years ago, we started a traditional Hand Turkey competition. Everyone created a fun, unique hand turkey – starting with a trace of your hand – and may the best turkey win! The creativity was flowing, and the competition was ON! The themes varied each year, and the submissions never ceased to impress. Lots of laughs and tons of fun were had by all!

KATIE
We always take a walk on a local trail after the Thanksgiving meal. After all that food, it’s nice to get outside and move a bit! We pile our family and any guests into several cars and caravan to a favorite walking path along a river and just enjoy the outdoors. We often take a family photo while on our walk and use it for our Christmas card.

LYNNDA
We hold hands before the meal and say what we are grateful for this year. Sharing our difficult, challenging times as well as our happy and successful moments that we encountered along the way reminds us how blessed we are.

NAILA
In the last several years, my brother has woven drumming into the grace we say before dinner as a way to pay tribute to Native Americans and in particular the Wampanoag, without whom the Pilgrims would not have celebrated their first Thanksgiving. He uses a large frame drum, traditional to Native American ceremonies and rituals, and then we say grace, inviting everyone present to share something they’re grateful for.

MEGHANN
We have an old Thanksgiving tradition in my family…when it was time for dessert, we would turn on the Christmas music for the first time. Mitch Miller was always a family favorite. We still hold to this, even today!

MELISSA
My parents always made the holidays feel so special, and Thanksgiving was a time of warmth in our household. I remember being surrounded by homemade goodies, football games on the television, good music and groups in deep conversation or laughter. All were invited – family, friends and neighbors. Overall, there was feeling of comfort, acceptance and happiness!

PHYLLIS
For many years, we had Thanksgiving at my childhood home, but eventually, my mom downsized, sold the family home and moved to a senior community. So last year for the very first time, our family actually spent our Thanksgiving at a restaurant. Mom had always been resistant to the idea, insisting that “Thanksgiving should be held at home.” However, the food was amazing, and more importantly, we all had time to enjoy each other’s company – with no preparation and no cleanup! So now for Thanksgiving, instead of making a dinner, we make reservations.

 

We all have those recipes that are special to us. Maybe they’ve been in our family forever. Or they’re the ones our kids request the most. Maybe they’re a conversation starter at festive gatherings, an instant favorite with guests. Or maybe we simply enjoy making them because they feel like sharing love and happiness every time they’re served.

We’ve created these beautiful recipe cards in a free downloadable template to help you preserve your go-to recipes and share them with the ones you love.

 

 

Available in four different designs, featuring lovely florals and foliage, these 5 x 7 cards can be used to make a thoughtful giftable collection of family recipes or to keep all of your most treasured, old and new, together in one place.

Download your free template now. We’re even including a few cherished recipes from some of our studio staff that just might become your favorite, too.

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1-1/2 cups butter, melted
1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.
In another bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and melted butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into two greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.
Yield: 2 loaves (16 slices each).

 

APPLE-PEAR-CRANBERRY CRISP

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

INGREDIENTS
2 cups cranberries (can use frozen but fresh is better)
1lb. pears, peeled and sliced (about 3)
1lb. tart apples, peeled and sliced (about 3 – Ida Red, Braeburn, Granny Smith, etc)
¾ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
scant ¼ cup sugar

Mix and turn into lightly buttered baking dish

TOPPING
¾ cup sifted unbleached flour (unsifted also fine)
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup oatmeal

With pastry cutter, cut in ¾ cup unsalted butter (can cut into small pieces first)
Right before pouring on top, add ¾ cup chopped pecans, then spoon topping over fruit and cook 35 – 40 minutes.

 

CARROT SOUFFLE

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. cooked carrots
3 eggs
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tbsp. gluten-free flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 stick butter, melted (or 1/2 cup of coconut oil)
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon

TOPPING
1/4 cup cornflakes, crushed
3 tbsp. coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp. melted butter or coconut oil
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
Dash nutmeg
Dash cinnamon

Combine and puree carrots and eggs in a food processor or blender. Add sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend together well.

Pour into a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish.

Mix together the crushed cornflakes, sugar, walnuts, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the butter and sprinkle on top of the carrots.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

 

BREAD BOWL CHEESE DIP

INGREDIENTS
8 oz. spreadable cheddar
8 oz. cream cheese
½ cup beer (or Sprite)
crushed garlic (or ¼ tsp.  garlic powder)
1 round loaf of unsliced rye or pumpernickel bread

(you’ll probably want another loaf in addition to cut up for dipping) 

DIRECTIONS
Soften cheeses and mix well. For best results, make ahead of time. Slice off top of round loaf and hollow out to make bowl. Pour dip into center. Break up remaining bread as well as additional loaf. Arrange and serve.

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE                                               

Preheat oven to 375ºF

Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. penne pasta
Cheese Sauce
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butternut squash puree (pumpkin puree also works)
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 1/3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water.
Position an oven rack to the center.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir immediately until a soft paste, or roux, forms. Add milk and begin to stir everything immediately to prevent the roux from clumping up too much.

Once the milk boils, reduce heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for about 3 to 4 more minutes, until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low.

Add the oregano, thyme, black pepper and salt and stir. Add the butternut squash puree and mix until everything is incorporated. Mix in 2/3 cup of mozzarella, 2/3 cup of white cheddar. Save the rest of the cheese for topping later. Turn off the heat. Stir in the cooked pasta, until it’s well coated with the butternut squash cheese sauce.

Pour mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining mozzarella and white cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then broil for about 3 to 4 minutes to brown the cheese on top. Check the mac and cheese after 3 minutes to see if it has been adequately browned.

(Recipe from Healthy Nibbles and Bits)

 

If you’re planning to throw a dinner party or special gathering, a well-thought-out seating plan can help keep conversation lively and interesting while fostering new connections. Our Family Supper® DIY Place Cards have been designed to help you make your meal more memorable with a thoughtful, personalized accent.

Simply download our easy-to-use template in any one of our three designs — or mix and match them — print on cardstock paper, then cut them out and fold along the dotted line. Write your guests’ name on each card. You can go for simple and elegant or have fun adding whatever flourishes you’d like to their name.

Now you’ve set a fun and memorable table to welcome all of your guests.