About Emily Smith Pearce

I'm the author of _Isabel and_the_Miracle_Baby_, a middle grade novel, and _Slowpoke_, an early reader.

Child’s Drawing to T-shirt Design


Hello everyone! I didn’t mean to disappear for so long. Hope to be here again more regularly.

Here’s a little something we made back in June for Father’s Day. Our son had been drawing his own version of the mascot for Daddy’s favorite football team. (Yes, it’s that team. No, I’m not going to weigh in on Deflategate). Anyway, I loved my son’s spin on the mascot and thought it would make a great T-shirt.

It was a little tricky because of the skinny details, so I definitely had to help my son, but I’m really pleased with how it worked out. I made a freezer paper stencil (google that and you’ll find plenty of tutorials). The paint is craft-grade acrylic mixed with textile medium to make it adhere to the fabric.Textile medium is available at most any craft store.

The T-shirt was a big hit with the hubs. If you’re trying your own, I’d just recommend something without lots of skinny details. A simple shape with just one color would be much easier.

Freezer Paper Stencil Image

Some new-to-me podcasts I’ve been enjoying: Again with This?, which is basically hate-watching Beverly Hills 90210. Somehow it hits the spot. Also, Gilmore Guys, discussing episodes of Gilmore Girls. They are two twenty-something guys definitely not hate-watching but having the most charming conversations about themes, characters, and fashion on the show. It’s my jam.

Summer shows we’ve enjoyed: Playing House, UnReal, Younger, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and we’re about to watch Mr. Robot. Sorry, I’m too lazy to link, but you can find them lots of places.

I’ve been reading a good bit but nothing that I feel you must also read. Somewhat related, super discouraged that my son’s public elementary school will have no librarian this year. And, no, do not tell me volunteers can fill that position. Hearing that only makes it worse because I know how wrong it is. I lived with a similar situation for a couple of years growing up, and it was not pretty. A bonafide school librarian makes an enormous amount of difference in the quality of a child’s education.

Bright spot: we have the day off today, and I took my little guy to the public library and let him get a stack of mysteries. He often gives me grief about his strict screen time limits, but today, he is hanging out in his bedroom hammock, reading away.

Tonight, I’m going to see the documentary Meet the Patels about a local Indian-American family looking for a bride for their son. Sounded so interesting on NPR.

What have you been up to? Read or watched or listened to anything good?

Pickled Jalapenos

Pickled Jalapenos

Attention, spice lovers! It has come to my attention (via a New Orleans bookwoman friend) that there is a better, cheaper way to supply yourself with unlimited pickled jalapenos.

Simply buy fresh jalapenos, slice, and jar in white vinegar. Store in fridge. Tada! That’s it. Hubs was afraid that leaving the seeds in was going to result in scorched tongues, but turns out the vinegar must dampen the burn factor, because they’re really not that hot—I would put them in the same category as your average “medium” salsa.

The best part about making these is that they retain an excellent crunch factor.

Here they are on my lunch from yesterday, also featuring roasted chickpeas using Penzey’s taco seasoning mix. Yum!

Roasted chickpea tacos

In other news, I’ve discovered some new-to-me podcasts lately: Mystery Show and Grownups Read Things They Wrote as Kids, both wicked excellent. Also re-read Edward Eager’s classic Half Magic –so fun! And currently re-reading Pat Hutchins’ The Mona Lisa Mystery. It’s out of print but I found a library discard available online.

Hope you’re having a great summer. As usual, mine is a little busier than I’d anticipated, but it’s going well. Hope to see you here again before long.

Hot Air Balloons Painting


This was a commissioned piece—-I thought you might like to see its evolution. The couple wanted a painting for their baby’s nursery that would grow with their daughter—i.e. not be too babyish when she grows older. They were totally open to me choosing the subject matter, but I wanted a little direction. The room is varying shades of aqua, so I started with color and asked them for photos of blue things from their recent trip to Turkey.

When I saw photos of the balloons in the blue sky over the mountains, I was hooked. The balloons were whimsical and colorful enough to be child-friendly and at the same time specific to a particular moment. I’m hoping the painting will remind them of a special day on their trip.

This is another of those projects that has been coming together for several months.

Here is the initial underpainting:


Next layers:





And the final layer, which is the first image in this post.

In other news, really enjoyed Lake Bell’s film In a World, now available on Netflix. And currently reading The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Very fun read.

Dog Costume

Homemade Dog Costume

I meant to photograph the finished version of this, but I ended up being too distracted to do it. This was for the church spring play, and the final included a tail stiffened by a sliver of milk jug inside it.

The ears here are just pinned on, but I swear I did actually sew them to the headpiece.

The costume is made up of Goodwill items: leggings, T-shirt, with light brown T-shirt spots, plus a balaclava-type “hat” out of more T-shirt pieces. The headwear is very similar in concept to the knight helmets and ninja “hats” I’ve made in the past.

For the ears, I just made two tubes with rounded edges, then sewed them on the balaclava pointing up so that the stitching is tucked unseen just under the ears. This detail gave them just a little bit of oomph so they hung well, with a lot of personality.

My little model here was in the play but wasn’t actually the dog. Our friend who did play the dog totally rocked it out. Everyone worked so hard and did a wonderful job. I was proud to contribute and to have two young actors in the family, as both my kids were in it this year.

For more simple costumes, click here.

Homemade Corn Tortillas

Handmade Corn Tortilla

I’d been planning to make these for forever, and an emergency shortage of packaged tortillas (egads!) pushed me to action.

This tortilla press was a wedding gift, lo these many years ago, but I’d only ever used it to make white flour tortillas.

Turns out making corn tortillas is even easier and mega fun. Like magic! I used the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen, found here.  I didn’t involve the kids this time, but it would be a perfect kid cooking project, with all the satisfaction of a Play-Doh factory.

Very close to meeting my writing goals for the season (which ends when the kids get out of school). Crossing fingers!

For more posts on food and cooking, click here.

New-to-me podcast: Extra Hot Great. If you like roundtable discussions of pop culture, a la Pop Culture Happy Hour, you might enjoy this one, which is all about television. Somehow I can’t get enough of smart tv analysis.

Have a great weekend!

In Process

Shrunken manuscript

Hello folks. I didn’t mean to stay away so long. There hasn’t been a lot to blog about lately. I’m still working hard on my writing but don’t have anything new to report.

The picture above is of a shrunken version of my novel manuscript. You can read more about this editing technique, created by Darcy Pattison, here.

In my free time, I’ve been doing a lot of gardening, but again, there’s not much to show but some nice-looking beds of dirt which will hopefully sprout some lovely things soon.

I’ve also been painting and making a dog costume for the church play. I’ll post some pics when it’s done.

Finally reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, the memoir about her trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m always wary of things with a lot of hype, but I have to say, I’m really enjoying it.

What about you? Read, watched, or listened to anything great lately? Hope to be back here again soon with more to share.

Making Ricotta Gnocchi

Handmade Gnocchi

Something about this winter (is it over? can I put it in past tense now?) made me eager to try all sorts of things from scratch. I think it was all the snow/ ice days and delayed entry school days.

Once I found a recipe for gluten-free gnocchi, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Turns out making gnocchi isn’t that hard, and assuming you have a high enough threshold for mess and imperfection (lucky me! I have both!), it’s a great project to do with the kids.

It’s a little like making snakes with play dough, with just a slightly higher level of skill needed. Making gnocchi is way easier than rolling your own pasta (which is fun but exhausting), so I think we’ll have to do it again soon.


I’d intended to use the quinoa-ricotta gnocchi recipe from Aran Goyoaga‘s Small Plates and Sweet Treats, but there seemed to be an error in the recipe, so I found this recipe through a Google search. If you don’t have to worry about gluten, the link recipe can be g-free or not, and I’m sure there are lots of other ricotta gnocchi recipes out there waiting for you.

A few notes on this particular recipe. One, I decided to double it, which worked fine. I froze some of the raw gnocchi to cook and eat later. Two, the raw dough tasted…um, not good would be putting it mildly. We were all worried the end result would be inedible. Strangely enough, though, when it was cooked, the gnocchi was delicious. We enjoyed it with our standard favorite tomato pasta sauce (we double a Williams-Sonoma recipe similar to this one and freeze half, so we had it on hand).

This whole process was a big hit with the kids. They found it a little tricky to roll out the snakes, as it takes a very light touch, but with a little help, they were more than happy to be my little gnocchi factory for the afternoon.

Btw, we also recently made gluten-free hand-rolled pasta. It was a frustrating process, with lots of setbacks, but I will say the recipe (from this book) was downright fantastic, better than our last attempt, and I doubt you’d know it was gluten-free if I didn’t tell you. At one point I thought, this is so hard I’ll never make it again. But then, I tasted it. If you’re going to go to the trouble, try this recipe. I ate it with Mark Bittman’s recipe for parsley pesto, which was delicious.

Gluten-Free Pasta from Scratch

Just finished Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher. Very funny, especially for writer types.