Thursday, August 28, 2008

Myrtle Beach!

Dave and I are off to Myrtle Beach this weekend for a surprise celebration of his Dad's 70th birthday. Apparently we're going on a casino cruise. Weirdness. Should be a good time. Random and spontaneous road trips with Dave are really awesome.

And hey - with an offer of gas money and a free place to stay, how can you say no? You can't. I mean, at least I can't.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Saw My Aunt

To be completely honest, it was awful. I don't really know how to explain it. She was way worse than we thought and pretty much out of it. My cousin is praying that she will still be alive for the birth of her next child (in 2-3 months), but I just don't see than happening. Isn't it funny how we can make plans for this or that, but when someone who is supposed to die has plans, it seems sad and even silly? None of us are promised tomorrow, but we sure do act like we are.

Even though it was sad, I still felt very blessed to be there. It was good to talk, even though it was just for little moments, and help her as much as I could. She knew and understood I was there, and I'm pretty sure she comprehended what I was saying, which was good.

The thing I didn't expect was how much she looked exactly like my grandmother right before she died. I just saw Aunt Carol two weeks ago, and didn't think that at all. I guess a lot can change in two weeks. I must have had a mental picture of my grandmother hidden in my brain of the last time I saw her. When I looked at my Aunt, it flashed in my mind. It was a very haunting and sad moment. I could hardly breathe. That's the thing with Cancer (for me), I can't detach one experience from another. I can't look at my Aunt and only think of her. I think of my two grandmothers, grandfather, becky's sister, Dave's mom, and on and on. It's arresting in that way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cancer is the Worst Word.

Becky (my mentor, older sister, second mother person) and I always say that the word "cancer" is pretty much the worst word in the English language. It's not a word you want to hear, especially in reference to someone you love. We've both heard the word and experienced it first hand several times. That does not make it easier. In fact, I think it makes it worse.

My Aunt has had breast cancer for some time now, and we just got word that it has spread to her liver. This is pretty much it. I guess that's the last place it goes before you die. The doctors are talking in terms of days now, not months or years anymore. Usually, doctors are accused of being too soft and telling you things to comfort you. Once they say the word "days" in a sentence about how long someone will live, I think the comforting process is over.

She came to visit and wasn't allowed to get on a plane to go back to California without having some tests done. She lives there with my with my cousin, Colleen, and her family. Aunt Carol was visiting us and her son near Cleveland. Colleen has been taking care of her and she's pregnant right now, so I'm not sure what's going to happen. It's one of those helpless times.

I definitely want to go see her. I have to. She's still so close to Erie. I feel the heavy weight of having some important conversations with her along with feeling like I haven't been a good enough niece and god-daughter. I hate this.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." - Revelation 21: 1-5 (ESV)
That cannot come too soon.

:::edit::: Leaving this morning to go see her with my parents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Need to Talk to You About Brownies

(Sorry this is blurry, but I couldn't take another one because I bit into the brownie. Heh.)

I have found, and perfected, the best brownie recipe in the world. It only took me three tries! The original is
here. This is my variation (do not attempt this unless you are ready for two-inch thick fudgy, yet cakey, goodness):

2 sticks unsalted butter (you’ll need a bit more to grease the pan)
9 ounces of 60% cacao chocolate chips (Try Ghirardelli. It is so worth it.)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla (or use brewed coffee)
1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut (Don't check out if you hate coconut. You can't taste it, it's just for texture and sweetness.)
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 9x9 square baking with butter (just grab a bit with paper towel and smear it around). Also, the 9x9 thing is important. This is why the brownies are so thick.

Melt butter and chocolate over a double-boiler and stir gently until smooth and shiny. If the butter isn’t at room temperature, give it a little head start before dumping in the chips. I used a heat-proof bowl (pyrex) that fit into one of my sauce pans. Make sure the water isn’t high enough to touch the bottom of the bowl when boiling. Also, a heat-proof rubber spatula is great for stirring. It can scrape down the bowl as you stir, and it doesn’t muck up the consistency of the chocolate. In fact, I just let mine sit in the chocolate when I walked away to do something else. I never took it out.

Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl and set aside.

Whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla (or coffee) in a mixing bowl until combined. Don’t use a mixer, use a whisk and your muscles. It’s not that hard, and it makes a BIG difference.

Pour in about a ¼ cup of the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined (eyeball it). This will bring up the temperature of the eggs so they don’t get cooked by the warm chocolate mixture. 

Add the remainder of the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.

Add flour mixture in 4 parts, whisking gently until each part is combined. You don’t’ want to over mix this part.

Add coconut and fold in gently with the spatula you used to stir the chocolate.

Transfer batter to baking pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the pan. Each one of my batches baked for 50 minutes.

When done, let cool in pan on a wire rack for about an episode of The Office and then invert onto a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes more. These can be served warm, or you can try to wait. Good luck with that.

Cut into 9  HUGE squares.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve (with vanilla, mocha, or chocolate ice cream…or all. I mean…you made these brownies, you may as well go all the way).

I will never buy another boxed brownie mix again.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Migraine? SERIOUSLY?

I don't have much to say other than the fact that I had the worst migraine of my life yesterday and am, therefore, one day behind. I was in bed until 4:00 pm (not a typo). It was a bummer because we had Candace overnight and I wanted to do something fun in the morning, but I ended up calling my mom to come get her at 9:30. I hope she won't be traumatized from watching me cry on the couch until my mom got to my house.

Ugh. Migraines are horrible. If you don't have them, take a moment to rejoice.

I'm going to catch up on work, rather than blog. Please forgive me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Communications Olympics

I think the fact that I can stay up for all of the "prime time" Olympic coverage and have work to do through the entire thing says something (bad). If I didn't love what I do, it would be a nightmare. However, I love strategic planning, designing, and implementation. I have been loving this last couple of months!

I just wanted to take the opportunity to give some Grace people a sneak peak at what's changing. Of course, if you don't go to Grace, you can still look, it just might not interest you as much. Here's some of what the communications minds (derek, rachel, dave, and me, basically) have been up to:


(apparently I have no time for good photography at the moment.) We have updated our logo and general look to fit who we are and are becoming as a church. Hopefully, I captured it well.

With that comes a web site redesign/reorganization that makes me so excited I can't stand it. It's going to be an amazing online experience. I can't wait for everyone to see it (and use it!). I've never done so much research in my life. It will all pay off when it launches, though. I'll be sure to give you a sneak peek at that, too.

p.s. The #1 place I want to be right now is Minneapolis. :::praying, praying, praying...and even hoping a bit.:::

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Envelope Sizing and Information

(this is an update from a post on one of my older blogs)

When I began the process of designing invitations and announcements, the one thing that frustrated me the most was figuring out which envelope to use when and what size to use with which paper, etc. I've compiled a small list of the most popular sizes in my experience. Hopefully, this helps you. There are two different types of announcement quality envelopes that are most popular: announcement text and baronial.

This first one is announcement text, the second is baronial:

Baronial envelopes are formal style envelopes with a large pointed flap. They can be used for invitations, announcements, greeting cards, and anything that needs an added touch of elegance. They are usually made of more expensive papers. Announcement text envelopes are designed for use with matching text and cover papers. You can usually find a paper that matches exactly. These are still appropriate for special occasions.

Here are two charts that show the most standard sizes and then the ideal size for an enclosure. The enclosure doesn't have to be exact, but these do indicate the best, clean-looking fits. Feel free to click for a larger view and save each image for your own use.

You should always double-check postal regulations. Depending on the weight of your piece, there may be additional cost involved, so take one to your local office and have it weighed before you make too many. Sometimes, it is just a matter of trimming a piece or using a lower weight paper to bring down the cost.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hayes Fam

Here's a sneak peek at a "beachy" photo shoot I did for an awesome family. As soon as Juli (mom) said, "I love having my picture taken," I knew it would be super fun and easy. Justin and Juli are in the process of adopting and it's almost official. We're preparing to send out announcements and party invitations using some of these photos. I think we also accidentally took Chrissy's senior portraits!

As I was taking these photos, I couldn't help but think how awesome these guys are. It's like they've been together since she was born.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Internet Has Changed My Life (Yours, Too)

I have been freaking out lately (in a good way) about the internet. I cannot believe how much it has changed the way I do things. Here are just three examples (I could probably list 100):

  1. I can stay connected with my friends/family whether they live near me or not (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.).
  2. I can learn about new ideas, techniques, and trends for ANYTHING.
  3. I "rub shoulders" with the best and brightest in my field. It's insane how much I can learn from these geniuses in a day. 
How have the interwebs changed your life? 

Friday, August 1, 2008

5 Inspiring Women

Here are the five women who have been inspiring me and my work lately. They are great. Check them out:
  1. Molly: to be honest, I have no idea how she does it all. Period. I want to be like her, because she is like Jesus.
  2. Abby Smith: I love everything she designs. I can't get over some of it.
  3. Kem Meyer: She does my job at Granger Community in Indiana (a lot better, but still).
  4. Design Crush Kelly: I love her daily inspiration. It's refreshing.
  5. Lindsey Janies: Her wedding photography is gorgeous.