Sunday, November 9, 2014

'Tis the Season to celebrate

It's hard to believe it but once again Christmas is just around the corner.

Everywhere you go, in every store you'll see all the un-sold Halloween decorations whisked away to the "reduced for quick sale" bin and the shelves that held them just a week ago... filled with Christmas *everything*.  From cards, to lights, to decorations in every size and shape and color.  Even some new sizes and shapes and colors you've never seen before!

With that in mind, New Year's Eve is fast approaching as well.

If you're planning a festive New Year celebration this year, whether it's an intimate gathering of friends and family for a dinner party or a few drinks and appetizers, or a full out corporate affair for hundreds of clients, you'll be be sure to find the most classy, elegant and festive New Year's Eve party invitations at Reflections zazzle.

The New Year's Eve Masquerade Ball invitation shown here was the signature choice for an elite country club in Desert Hot Springs, CA last year, for over 500 distinguished guests, and virtually everyone just absolutely loved it! The reviews, (while private and unable to show you here), were simply phenomenal.

Here's a sampling of what's new and popular for New Year's Eve 2014.

With every invitation design the goal is to utterly WOW your guests, at the attention to detail on the card you've chosen to showcase your event.  Every sparkle, every glitter, every letter, right down to the shimmer or shadow across the printed card.

Whether you're planning an indoor event with mood lighting, an outdoor event with fireworks, or a whimsical event for close friends and family, there are over 150 styles and themes to choose from to make your NYE party, an event to remember!

Click HERE to see the entire collection.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Women are Watching? GOD is watching...

Earlier this evening while scrolling through my twitter feed I saw this image of a t-shirt design.  So, I clicked because tees are sort of my thing.  This is what I saw. I don't know every last detail of the back story on this but it's essentially a tee design from a loud-mouthed pro-abortion celebrity backing a pro-abortion industry. That's really all I needed to know. If you need to know more details, you can read about Lena Dunham and Planned Parenthood here.

So allow me to explain why I'm blogging this.

A.) It infuriates me that this message of "kill your baby, it's totally okay" has become so mainstream.  Really, folks have gone to great lengths to whitewash this but that is in fact, the root message.  It's a baby.  Abortion kills it.  It's NOT okay.

B.) I'm a designer, and designing eye-catching designs is what I do, so that's what I did to counter the message on this nasty, pro-abortion tee.

Now allow me to explain, briefly, what this message says.

• It says all life is precious, and every human being is created in the image of God, to be treasured and protected. At all costs.  Even at the cost of the mother's convenience or lifestyle.

• It says LOVE is a verb. Not a fleeting, subjective feeling.  It doesn't matter if that baby was planned or not, choosing to make the sacrifice needed of your personal self (and your figure, career, lifestyle, finances, living arrangements, etc.) shows you put that baby's life above your own comfort and convenience.

As a mother of seven beautiful people (none of which were "planned") and four beautiful grand-people, I know first hand how difficult it is to wrestle with the "oh no, we didn't plan for this, what are we going to do!?" difficulty.  I know it multiple times over and I know it's NOT easy to put your selfish feelings aside and consider what is best, what is right, what is good and what glorifies God.  Is it easy to accept and embrace an unplanned pregnancy?  No, no it's not, especially for those who are unmarried and completely unprepared but even for those who are married, stable and perfectly able to care for a new baby but also completely unprepared for this news.  However, God does honor those honor Him, and He does provide for those who trust in Him, and He does comfort those who bring their doubts and pain struggles to Him.  You remove God from the equation and you will be left with what modern culture is screaming at you: kill your baby, it's totally okay.

You add Him back to the equation and you will find hope, support, comfort, peace and encouragement, not matter how hard it gets.  I've BEEN there, I know.  I've been on my knees at the side of my bed, weeping to the Lord and asking for guidance, wisdom, and peace.  He was always faithful to provide exactly what I asked.  ALWAYS.

I don't talk about this subject much online only because I've already gone through that stage of "hey, let's argue the abortion issue online!"  idea and have seen the kinds of arguments used on both sides that never result in anything tangible...  back in the 90's when I first become active online.  I've since read those same arguments & commentary and seriously, nothing has changed except, more people being brainwashed into thinking it's "totally okay".

For those who know me, it's clear: I'm a Christian and I believe in 100% pro-life in any situation and regardless of the circumstances. Period.  It doesn't mean it's easy or all rainbows and puppies and sunshine, but it does mean there is a living, breathing, thriving baby that was created in the image of God, by His hand and for His glory.

So this is my contribution to the pro-life message of today.  I don't have any outspoken celebrity models to show you (yet?) wearing this design, but there it is, all the same.  Simply click the image if you'd like to support this message and order one for yourself.

To God be the Glory.

Friday, October 10, 2014

What's for Dinner? Taco Pizza!

If your family is anything like mine, and loves both tacos and pizza, this is a great switch-up from the regular menu.  It's really easy to make and here's how it's done:

1. Go to the store and buy all your usual taco filling ingredients and a plain cheese pizza from the deli.  Do *not* use a frozen cheese pizza, as it does not come out the same way, and it's just gross.  Don't be gross.

Suggested taco toppings for your pizza:

Browned, seasoned ground beef
chopped green onions
chopped jalapenos
black olives
Tex-Mex style shredded cheese
shredded lettuce
sour cream
chopped tomatoes
salsa/taco sauce
crushed tortilla chips

2. Pre-heat the oven and put everything on the list *before* the lettuce, on your pizza. Don't bake the lettuce. **shudder** That's disgusting. So, don't do that.

3. When the pizza is done, cut it.  Cutting it now allows you to avoid a genuine messy disaster later.  

4. Dish up one piece at a time (or let the family/kids do their own) and starting with the lettuce, add whatever toppings you like.

Voila, Taco Pizza! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

2014 Elf Yourself Custom Christmas Greetings

(Normally I'd be posting this at the store blog only, but I wanted to share this with my readers here as well)

Christmas will be here before you know it, and now is the time to Elf yourself and your entire family!

These cards are really popular and a lot of people wait (gasp! last minute Christmas shopping!) until well into November before they start ordering so I thought I'd get the word out that NOW is the time to Elf yourself.

I've just started taking custom orders this week for these adorable Christmas cards so if you'd like an Elf-version of your family (and who wouldn't really?), just drop me a note here with the subject line ELF CARDS and include the following information:

• Elf #1: male or female? 
• Skin color: light/medium/dark
• *Hair color: black/brunette/red/blonde/gray
• Adult or child
• Height: tall or short 

*If one of your elves is bald, be sure to include that information as well, as I can easily take one of the elves to the barber, just for you.

Include that same information for each elf-version of your family member that you'd like on the front of the card as well as how you'd like the card to read, i.e.,

"FROM THE JACKSON ELF CLAN OF LOS ANGELES" and the first names of everyone on the card. 

These cards are also available for your office crew!  Last year's biggest challenge was fitting 17 (yes, seventeen) elves from a real estate office onto one card.  It was a success though, and the reviews on the finished product were wonderful :)

You also have the option for red stripes (as shown) or green stripes in the background, so be sure to include your preference.  Once your card is ready (usually the same day) I'll send you a private, direct link for purchase through Reflections zazzle.  As always, there is no minimum order and bulk discounts available for over 10 cards. Card info: Dimensions: 5" x 7" (portrait) - Printed on ultra-heavyweight (120 lb.) card stock with a gloss finish - Each card comes with a white envelope.

I look forward to hearing from you and Elf-a-tizing your family!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Time to Rant

Every time there is a news item about a female student being taken advantage of sexually by her male teacher, the comments and reaction is always the same:

Pervert, pedophile, string him up, castrate him, etc. so forth and so on.  Both men and women will comment and say the same exact thing. EVERY single time.

By stark contrast, whenever there is a news item about a male student being sexually seduced by a female teacher, the comments and reaction are vastly different.  While some men and most women react the same as if it were a female student, there are always the same, identical comments from men:

He had the time of his life, where were these hot teachers when I was in school, sucks to be him, etc. so forth and so on.

I think they think they're funny.  Problem is, the only ones laughing are them, and the other "men" commenting and saying the same thing.

For those men, I have a few things to say:

1. You're a pig.
2. You're a pig.
3. In answer to your question "where were these hot teachers when I was in school?"

Thankfully, for the most part, those teachers were keeping their hands to themselves and taking their authority over you as a student, seriously.  They were professionals who genuinely cared more about teaching than ever breaking the law with an underage boy.  Not to mention violation of trust, breach of position as an adult, etc.  So where were they?  They were following a code of ethics and morals and not exploiting you like a classic pedophile.

For those of you who think he "had the time of his life" I wonder if you'll still feel the same way when this boy, (who has had it demonstrated for him by a "responsible adult" that casual sex is just a cheap thrill, with no responsibility, or accountability and the law doesn't matter) comes around to date your daughter?  Is it still going to be funny then?  What if your daughter says NO to this boy?  You've already given him (and the adults) your stamp of approval as they broke the law, so... is it okay for him to break the law with your daughter?  Be careful how you deal with this one, because you've already admitted how funny you think it is.  Is it still going to be funny when you're sitting in the waiting room while the medical staff is administering a rape kit to your precious baby girl because some teenage boy thought it would be okay to do whatever he wanted and break the law by forcing himself on her when she said no?  How funny will it be when this teenage boy becomes an adult and has his mind so twisted from this violation of trust, that he himself becomes a serial rapist (yes, rapists almost always have a sexually abusive background - and a damaged, warped view of what sex and intimacy is) and decides to rape your wife one night as she leaves work?

Will you still be laughing and wishing those teachers were around when you were a boy? 

Thankfully, the vast majority of teachers then (and now) do find it reprehensible when something like this happens.  Thankfully, most parents also view it the same way.  As the mother of a teenage boy, I have no qualms admitting that if an adult woman took advantage of my son this way, I'd want to rip her head clean off, exactly the same way I'd feel if an adult male teacher did the same to any of my six daughters.

There. Rant over.  Carry on.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: Fresh Summer Berry Syrup

Growing up in western Washington where blackberries grow wild almost everywhere, I was spoiled rotten with one of the most amazing berries ever.  Every August, armed with nothing but sheer determination and an empty coffee can, my brother, sister, mom, grandma, or some other family member and myself would head into the blackberry vines and go wild picking berries.  By the end of the day my fingers (and face) were stained purple by berry juice and my can was full, and the anticipation I had for fresh blackberry pies, blackberry dumplings, and blackberries and cream was almost too much to bear.  Like I said, I was spoiled rotten :)

Berry Syrup made with blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries

Today I decided we'd have breakfast for dinner, and I really wanted blackberry syrup for the waffles.  I've purchased the prepared stuff in bottles but here in Ontario it's outrageously expensive so I decided I'd make my own syrup.  It's been years since I did that, but homemade is always better so homemade it was!  Here's the recipe for a fantastic berry syrup, and you can use almost any kind of berry (blackberry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry or a mixture of any of them).  You can also use either fresh or frozen and it turns out almost exactly the same texture and exactly the same wonderful flavor.

So, without further delay, here's the recipe:

4 cups of pureed berries (I use my Ninja blender and blend them until they look like baby food)
*1.5-2 cups of water
2 cups sugar
**2 tablespoons fruit pectin

Using a whisk, blend all together and bring to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring whenever you feel like it (like, between text messages, FB and twitter notifications, letting the dog out, letting the cat in, and out, and in again, and answering kid's questions, etc.).  Once boiling begins, watch it carefully so it doesn't boil over (clean up is a mess, trust me on this).  Boil for about 5 minutes then remove from heat.  Skim the foam off the top and either let set at room temp if you plan to use it that day, or pour into sterilized jars and seal with rings & lids.  You can also simply refrigerate if you plan on using it up within a few days.  My kids devour stuff like this so it just goes in the fridge afterwards.

*If you're using fresh berries, use 1.5 cups of water instead of 2 cups since fresh berries tend to be juicier than frozen.

**Pectin is optional.  Without it, the syrup has a thinner texture like store-bought table syrup.  With it, it has a thicker consistency.  Using pectin is entirely optional, and depends on how thick/thin you like your syrup.

Serve over pancakes, waffles or ice cream. It also goes really well as an add-on to a fruit/yogurt smoothie.

Reviews from my family today:

Samuel: motioning with hand gestures: two thumbs up (then he had seconds)
Rachel: "Mom, why do you do these things? This is amazing!"
Jordan: "can we have this every day? Why don't we have this every day?"
Ruth: "is there any left??"
Hubby: "baby, that was awesome"

Your mileage may vary.

Nutritional info:  there is none.  It's berries and sugar and water. *shrugs*