Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

Today marks the beginning of my self-decided new year. In a previous post, I explained that December and January had been so busy that they became one big, mushed-together month. And when January came, I was caught off guard, with no plans or goals for the new year. And so, in an attempt to be re-motivated, I'm starting afresh in February.

This little piece is, hopefully, only one of more to come. One of my goals for the year is to make more time for art making. The design stuff I've been doing is fun, but for me, it's not the same as doing a real hands-on piece of art. I want to draw and paint more, traditional art stuff. This little bird painting has actually been long overdue. I told my sister at least a year ago that I'd paint it for her. So here it is, Sis! I hope you like it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wedding Invitation Packet from my own 2009 Wedding

I want to start keeping better track of my work within blogger, and better organize it to make it more accessible to my viewers. I am starting with all wedding related things, just to see how it goes. Eventually, I hope to have much of this blog organized into categories. I guess we'll see how this goes for someone like me, who is not naturally organized.

Bagels: Part of a complete breakfast

To address some of the questions many of you have been asking me on Facebook and elsewhere, I've decided to dedicate a blog entry to bagel-making. Questions have consisted primarily of "How DO you make bagels?" and "Are they hard to make?"

Last summer, I decided I wanted to learn to make bagels. And, with the help of the internet, that desire became a reality. I simply typed into a Google search "How to make bagels" and was on my way. The very first link led me here, where I learned all about the bagel-making process. The recipe is very simple, and the directions are very straight foreword and helpful. This addresses the first question: how do you make bagels?

Now, are they hard to make? At first glance, that recipe page may seem long, tedious, and daunting. But to be honest, it's not that hard. The first time through it is a little time-consuming because you are still learning the process, but after the first or second time you've done it, the process is much easier and the time more manageable. At this point in time, I've broken the process down into stages. I've also figured out a couple little tricks to make things easier.

Homemade Bagels

4 cups bread flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 1/2 Tsp salt
1 Tbs oil (recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I use olive)
2 Tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups warm water (not too hot or cold, you'll know)

Stage 1

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and knead for about 10 minutes.
(Add water last. Use the first 1 1/4 cups, and only add the remaining 1/4 cup if you are having trouble integrating all the flour. Add only tiny bits more if that's still not enough. It might take a little while to get it going but give it a couple minutes to decide if you really need it.)

After you're done kneading the dough, separate it into 8 equal balls.

Leave the balls alone for 20 minutes to let them rise.

Stage 2

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Roll balls to form bagels.
(This part takes practice, and it gets easier the more you do it. Sometimes if I have trouble with the dough sliding around due to dryness, I moisten my hands with water. If they are too wet, though, they will also slide around. You can also moisten the ends of the rolled dough with your hands to make them stick together better.)

Leave again for 20 minutes to let rise.

Stage 3

Fill a large pot (or a frying pan with tall sides, which is what I use) with water and bring to a boil.

Place bagels in water and boil for about a minute on each side. Do not crowd the pot. Boil them in 2 or 3 batches if you have to. Remove bagels and set aside to dry for a minute or two.

While bagels are drying, grease a large baking tray with cooking spray or oil. Set bagels on tray.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Stage 4

Flip the bagels over.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove bagels from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.

Stage 5

Cut, spread on the cream cheese, and enjoy your delicious homemade bagels!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wedding Whirlwind

This is an overview of the design work I did for my brother-in-law's wedding. Remember that wave of busyness I mentioned last post? Well, this was only part of it. For the sake of privacy, I blocked out people's last names.

The Invitation: Inside( left); Back (top right); Front (bottom right)

Reply Card

Wedding Program: Front (left); Back (right)

Shower Invitation

It's kind of amazing that so much work goes into the preparation for one day. Invitations, showers, dress shopping, flowers, finding a venue... So much planning and coordinating! And then, when it's over, it almost feels like it didn't happen. Months of work gone in what seems like only a few hours. What a blur! I thought it would have been less of a blur since it was not my wedding, but perhaps when one is a part of something that wonderful and thought out, one ought to expect it to go by fast.

Anyway, congratulations to Ben and Meghan! May they have a long, happy and blessed marriage!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

February: The New January?

I doubt I need to mention how long it has been since my last post on this blog. Or any blog for that matter. I had hoped to post something before the new year, with all my new goals in mind. I even had a post all written out on paper, ready to be typed. Yet, because of how busy I have been, I have had minimal free time.

If you recall, I was asked to be in my brother-in-law's wedding. The wedding is this weekend. Since September, I have been able to just barely keep ahead of the wave of business. This has included wedding-related tasks mostly, but also a slew of youth ministry work, house work, a job, and the monster we call "the holidays." Keeping ahead of this wave has not been easy. And, while I have managed to stay on top of certain priorities, others have been waiting on the back burner a little longer than I'd like.

So, without further hesitation or excuse, I present my February New Year's goals. You may be thinking, "But, Alyssa, New Year's begins in January." Yes, very true. But for me, December and January seem to have been mushed into one continuous month that has yet to subside. Usually, I feel a little refreshed when the new year arrives, with goals mapped out and ready to implement. There's that sense of motivation, a spark in me that wants to take new ideas and run with them. But this year, that just hasn't happened yet. January is well underway, and I've had no time to think about anything other than that giant wave right behind me. So February, I have decided, is where my new year will start. And with the "new year" comes new hopes and goals.


1. Blog more.
2. Make time to draw and paint every week.
3. Spend time with God everyday.
4. Read more. About anything that matters to me: ministry, art, food, marriage, etc.
5. Learn more about organic food and healthy cooking.
6. Build better relationships with my co-workers and customers.
7. Make more time for others.
8. Plan a meal schedule for each week. This will save time and money, I am certain.
9. Bake more.
10. Learn to budget, save money, and be a good steward of what God has given me.
11. Be more outward focused.

I'm sure there are other goals rolling around in my head that haven't surfaced yet, but I think this is a good start. See you in February!

Goal #9 is clearly underway already.