30 08 2010

When you see her she always looks so put together. Beautiful and petite, porcelain skin, and silk hair just like her sweet boys. But then you get a little closer and you see the big smile or the furrowed brow.  She’s happy to tell you when it’s been a really good day and doesn’t mind one bit sharing the latest drama that has happened in their house or the reason why her heart is heavy that morning. Kim & I met about a year before having the first of our three sons.  You usually don’t know at the start of a friendship where it will go and years into it it’s hard to look back and decide exactly when “it” happened. That’s how ours is. There was a playgroup that dissolved as the kids got older, a bible study that turned into a dinner club as we had less time to study and  a friendship that grew from the experiences we had together and the conversations that knit our hearts.

Kim turned 33 in July so Jen & I wanted to throw her a party like she deserved (we did the best we could…she actually deserved better). It happened over a month ago but it was too significant for me not to document. I have learned over the past few years that while I love planning and throwing a party, the food piece stresses me out.  That said, it was a dream working with Jen because I could say without any guilt, “you do all the food and I’ll do all the decorations, ok?”…and I knew she’d be alright with that…or she’d tell me if she wasn’t.

There were just eight of us so we could focus on the details more than we could with a larger crowd. The menu included Jen’s famous artichoke spinach dip with toasted pita wedges, peel and eat shrimp with individual butters and cocktail sauces for dipping, mozzarella stuffed crimini mushroom caps, caprese salad, artisan bread with seasoned dipping oil and lettuce wraps (from PF Changs). For dessert Jen made these adorable cupcakes with fondant “K” toppers (made by Tricia at Something Sweet), symphony brownies, strawberry lemon granita, coconut macaroons and in the favor boxes we included delicious little cake truffles also made by Tricia.

It was 200 degrees that day so preparing the yard for the guests was a hot experience but well worth every drop of sweat. We used several strings of small white lantern lights and hung turquoise lanterns of different sizes from the trees. White votives lit the table and accented the large arrangement of white spider mums and baby green kermits. We decided that a round table would be best for conversation. We used white table cloths, deep turquoise napkins and lime-green ruffle chargers.

Except for a little pre-party mania that comes with the Sarah Pay planning package, the night went off without a hitch. The food was great and the atmosphere was perfect (because of the pleasant company) but the best part of the night was having the chance to tell Kim how much we love her and how special she is to each one of us. Inside the envelope on top of each box was a card with a list of partial statements (Kim makes me feel…I wish Kim knew she was…When I think of Kim she is wearing…I hope that one day Kim will…If Kim was not in my life…) that were a joy to complete and to share with the guest of honor.

The next day was Saturday and it rained…hard…all evening.  So glad we decided to throw the party on Friday!


A friendly reminder…

29 08 2010

That we only have one more week to wear white pants and shoes. I apologize in advance if you see me wearing white everyday.  I have a few things I’ve yet to wear this season and if I don’t wear them now I’ll have to get rid of them.  (I try to keep the rule that if I don’t wear it for a year it has to go.)

Happy white wearing.

And if you have time, here’s an interesting read.

A new blog: sarah pay design

24 08 2010

After years of doing freelance design work, I’ve finally found the time to create a design blog. It’s one of those things I’ve wanted to do for a long time, knowing that it would make my job much easier.  Instead of answering countless emails and phone calls with detail upon detail I can now direct people to this blog…a place that has all the details. My hope is that it will expedite the design and ordering process for me and my clients.

If you scroll down on the home page of the new blog you’ll see my most current projects.  Additionally, you can search for products by category (logos, stationery, invitations, business cards, stickers, address labels, birth announcements), design elements (colors, style, fonts), or project name. There are also pages that describe the design process, list design rates, product specifications and prices, fonts and colors.

I probably should have posted more projects before making the blog public but hopefully by the time Christmas card season rolls around I’ll have my ducks in a row and be ready to start receiving orders for holiday gifts and cards.

Also, if you see or read anything that doesn’t make sense or needs clarification, I’d love for you to let me know.  Any feedback is welcome and I’d love for my fellow bloggers to add a link to to their blogroll.

What we do for love.

22 08 2010

I love Bennett and Bennett loves Thomas so I don’t mind lending my living room to Thomas and friends for Bennett’s delight.

Salted Caramel Brownies

20 08 2010

That’s right. It’s not a mistake…SALTED caramel brownies. I’m not much of a recipe follower. If it’s not in the cupboard or the refrigerator I just don’t make it. I have my staples and they work well for me so I’m not likely to run out and buy specific ingredients for a recipe, even if it looks amazing.  This, however, was the exception. I had heard of these before and always wanted to try them so when I visited Amelie’s French Bakery in NoDa these salted caramel brownies were the first things I popped in my mouth. Crack. Cocaine. Facebook. Sex. Shopping.  Whatever your addition, these things are better and more addictive.

I did have to run out and buy some random ingredients like baker’s chocolate, gelatin, heavy whipping cream, and random for me, white sugar and white flour.

A few things to remember before getting started:

1. Be sure to use foil that has been buttered or oiled to line your pan.  This way you can lift the entire sheet of brownies out of the pan and easily peel away the foil. Place them on a cutting board to make clean cuts and prettier brownies.

2. Do not overbake. I baked the brownies for 25 minutes and they came out just right.

3. For the caramel part, be sure to watch the water and sugar mixture when boiling. It starts turning light brown after 5 minutes or so, and turns amber quickly after that.

4. Chill the brownies in the fridge to set the caramel.

(recipe obtained via Charlotte Magazine and supplied by Amelie’s so it’s the real thing)

Salted Caramel Brownies

Yields 24 brownies

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup salted caramel glaze (see below; prepare glaze when brownies are cool)

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil and then butter well.

In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate and butter, being sure the water in the bottom of the double boiler does not touch the top pan. Stir chocolate and butter until completely melted. Then stir in sugar. Blend well. Remove from heat.

In a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Stir eggs into chocolate mixture. Then add flour, stirring until completely blended. Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Completely cool brownies in pan. Pour caramel glaze over brownies and cool in fridge until caramel sets. Slice into bars, about 2 inches square.

Salted Caramel Glaze

1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons powdered gelatin, combined with 1/4 cup cold water

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm heavy cream until hot, but not boiling. In a separate tall saucepan, combine sugar and water. Place over medium-high heat. Do not stir as sugar dissolves and mixture reaches a dark amber stage. Add cream, butter, and salt. Stir gently until mixture is smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and add gelatin, stirring to combine. Use immediately.

I’m not much of a baker or dessert maker so this felt really labor intensive.  It was definitely worth it but it will be a while before I try my hand at something like this again.

I cut my brownies into smaller squares than they do at the bakery because they are SO rich. Do what you like but I recommend having them with a cup of coffee and a tall glass of water to wash down the 4 cups of sugar.  Now that I think about it, I might be better off using crack than eating these…I’ll need a serious detox this weekend.

Also, adding a new category to the blog: food.

Are you a hipster?

19 08 2010

My Dad sent me this article the other day. Really a great read. The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity Right on if you ask me. (not that anyone did). I so enjoyed it because he perfectly articulates something we all see. I think that’s why comedy is so therapeutic…it expresses what we think but don’t say for one reason or another.

The author, Brett McCracken’s Blog, The Search has some interesting posts. Check it out if you have time and while you’re at it, check out for more information on his book, to explore a few common types of “Christian hipster,” (I know at least a hand full of each type) or to determine whether or not you are one. Be sure to scroll over the different parts of each image (on his website, not mine) to learn more about each hipster. I don’t laugh out loud very often but this has me rolling.  And hey…maybe we can all identify a little more closely with one type of hipster than the others but it’s always good to laugh at ourselves. Right?

Beach trip: take 2.

15 08 2010

Just got home from Ocean Isle, our last vacation of the summer.  Boohoo.  We still have a few weeks before play school begins but it’s starting to feel like summer is over.  If only the dreadful heat and humidity would go away.  Overall it was a bad summer but I think it could have been better if I had started the getting up in the morning thing earlier, been more proactive with my planning and had a different attitude. The vacations, visits, trips, events and VBS made it bearable but I sort of regret that an entire summer has passed and I didn’t make the most of it.  It has, however, prompted me to be more thoughtful and careful about our planning for the fall. While we were at the beach this week I had a few brief moments to reflect on the summer and some things that I learned (or remembered).  I think implementing some of those things, along with a good routine, will make us all enjoy each other more this fall.

Bradley hasn’t been too eager to learn to swim but he was crazy about boogie boarding.  Must be the California in his blood.  We were so proud of him and at one point Joe called him over to tell him what a great job he was doing and Bradley said, “Thanks Daddy but I don’t have time to talk. I need to surf.”

Bennett and Dexter enjoyed the ocean as well but were not so independent in the waves (thankfully).  They really enjoyed playing with the dump trucks and digging in the sand.

Bennett thought the sea-foam was bubble bath. When it came into the tide pools he would swish the water around vigorously with hopes that he could make more bubble appear.

I wish that we had taken pictures of all the hermit crabs we caught n the tide pools…at least 20. We kept them overnight and it was fascinating to watch them switch in and out of different shells. We did get a picture of this cool fish that some guy caught fishing from the pier.

While we were on the pier we saw this guy kayaking. The boys were completely convinced he was Spiderman.

Tried for that picture of all three smiling again. Oh well.

This one was sweet. And rare since I’m in it.

We took a trip to Southport one afternoon. It was ok. I can see the appeal but it’s not for me. There were some great rocks on the shore though, so if I had to live there I could hunt for unique rocks and sea glass. And we won’t be dining out again with all three boys for quite some time.

On the last night we went out late to look for crabs.

And we caught one.

They crawl faster than this little guy.

Which leads me to my last point.  My baby isn’t a baby anymore.  How do I cope with that?  Never thought it would be so hard to say goodbye to each little stage. Sure the next stages are new and exciting but I’m really grieving the passing of Dexter’s infancy. I’m sad. Really sad. I need some perspective here. Any insight?