Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Christmas

We had such a wonderful Christmas with our boys and some extended family. Three days of celebrating and eating. I need to get back to a reasonable diet, there have been too many goodies here!

Son Justin and wife Lizzie
Grandson Tad and his daddy, Andrew.
Son Eric reading one of many books Tad received.
Christmas was so fun with a little one around. Even though he had a cold, Tad was a trooper with all the celebrating and excitement. And yes, he loved playing with the boxes, especially the bows!

Now that the presents have been opened, I can show the quilt I made for Lizzie and Justin. Really a late wedding gift. 

This pattern was from a BHG magazine and is really a departure from my usual work. Different kind of pattern and colors for me. But I needed to make something just right for them and I think I did OK.

So now I'm thinking ahead to a new year. Feeling the need to organize, plant seeds for the garden, and start some fun new projects. What are you planning for the new year?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A few of the ornaments carved by my husband.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, full of fun times with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Less Than a Week

Finished snowflake afgan.
Pillow inspired by NanaCo.
Thimbleberries pattern.
The gifts are bought and wrapped, the house decorated, the cookies baked, and all (well, most) crafts are completed, and all that's left to do is some house cleaning. Then it's time for relaxing with family and friends, enjoying good food, and feeling very grateful for all we have.

Why does Loyal look so exhausted? He hasn't done a thing to help me get ready.  Though he does keep the mice under control, so I guess he deserves his nap:)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Pinterest Christmas

Uncle Eric and Tad

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Time spent with family is my favorite. We missed having Justin and Lizzie here, but we will have them for Christmas. Can't wait! 

With Thanksgiving behind us, we are getting the house decorated and treats made for Christmas. Such a busy time! Why do I always wait for the last minute to start the gifts and decorations I've had in mind for months? Maybe I just need to be in the season to get motivated. Well, I'm motivated now and Pinterest is helping - probably too much! I'll never be able to make everything I've pinned. Not this Christmas, not ever:)

Here is one of the Santas that I pinned and got the pattern here. Isn't he cute? Very easy to make while watching TV.  I even have a die to cut out the tiny holly. I just need to add a ribbon or twine, and then hang on the tree, or add to a wrapped gift.

This is another project that I pinned awhile ago, but thought it might be too complicated for me. But I paid the $2.00 for the Ravelry pattern, looked it over and decided I could do it. And now, after making a zillion of them, I could do this square in my sleep!

So, has Pinterest been helpful for you this holiday season, or is it driving you crazy? (Spending too much time looking, or trying to make everything on it:) I'd love to hear your comments. Have a great and productive weekend. I have to work, dang it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Plant Stand Revisited

 A year ago I showed this cast iron plant stand we bought at a flea market.  We kept it outside on the deck for two summers. It's rusty white paint got more rusty and then too rusty. We decided it needed to be cleaned up and brought inside.

Some sanding and a fresh coat of white spray paint and it looks perfect in the living room holding some of our plants we brought inside.

Isn't this African violet pretty? For some reason I have had bad luck getting them to reflower. But this one came right back after the first blooms faded. I'm going to the garden center and get some more. I hope they have some of those miniature ones I've seen in magazines.

And here is our little Tad, getting bigger and busier everyday. He likes to "read" books himself now. Just jabbers away while turning the pages. A true Marquis, for sure!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Table Top Garden

While visiting my niece in Illinois, we went to a favorite garden shop, Prairie Gardens. Actually they have much more than garden things. Lots of holiday, candles, decorating. It's a great place to browse and get ideas. We were especially drawn to a display of plants and accessories for miniature and fairy gardens. Everything was so cute, and so expensive! But I couldn't resist a couple of the mini plants called "Itty Bitties".

We found a rusty square pan in the barn, filled it with terrarium soil and put together a little garden to enjoy this winter. We already had some garden things from the fairy garden we made in a wheelbarrow, but this is so small all we used was the chair, gnome and watering can.

These little plants are so cute. We'll just have to keep them trimmed so we don't get a mini jungle.

I think that plant in the foreground is Irish moss. I dug up a bit from outside - notice the clover.

For years I had gotten out of the house plant habit, but lately I'm enjoying them again. Next post I'll show what we did to the cast iron plant stand I bought last year. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Apple Pie, My Way

Our youngest son came home for dinner last week and it was a good excuse to make a family favorite, apple pie. I love to make pies, especially fruit pies, and have been making them forever. When I was in high school, a girlfriend and I tried to make a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin, not canned. We didn't know what we were doing. Let's just say it was inedible:) A few years later, another friend and I wanted to try making pies using lard. Very good. I was getting pretty good at this.

Fast forward 35 years. I have been using the same method for pie crusts all these years and they turn out tender, rich, and very flaky. My family raves about my pies and Justin even wanted me to make some for his wedding reception. But I don't make pie crusts the traditional way.

 I start making the filling using one of these gadgets. Have you tried one? They are fun to use and fun to eat the skinny peelings.

I got mine as a Christmas gift a few years ago, and can't believe I had ever lived without one.

After peeling a bunch of apples, (combining several varieties is nice) I add about 3/4 cup of sugar, lots of cinnamon and a little ground cloves. I'm not much of a fan of ginger with my apples.

Now I start on the crust. Two cups flour for a double crust pie, and about 2/3 cups shortening, and some salt. I don't measure these, but you need enough shortening to make a flaky crust. I know some people use butter, but mine turns out better with the shortening. Cut in until crumbly.

Now I add water, a little at a time, using a fork to gently mix it in. After a few times you get a feeling for how much water to add. It shouldn't be too dry or too wet or you have problems rolling it out. The main thing is to not work it too much. As in, no mixing, kneading or anything else. This will create a tough crust and nobody wants that!

Now very gently make a ball with half of the dough and shape it smooth. And here is where I do things different, I Don't Chill the Dough! I just roll it out using enough flour to keep it from sticking to the counter and rolling pin. Sometimes I have to lift up a section of the dough to add flour. The rolling is also done gently. No rolling back and forth.

I fold the crust in half and then half again and put in the pie dish. Unfold and cut off extra. Fill with apples and dot with butter. Do it again with the rest of the dough, but leave some extra around the sides. Tuck under and pinch to seam it. Don't forget to make vents! That will make the dough tough also. Sometimes I sprinkle some sugar on the top, but usually I forget.

I bake my pies at 350 degrees until I think they're done. I have never used a timer for anything. Don't know why. I also cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to catch the drips. This saves a lot of cleanup time.


I forgot to take a picture until the pie was almost gone. I got the last piece. Yeah!

I just read about pie baking in the newest BHG, and it was all about chilling everything- the bowls, the flour(!) and the dough. Maybe I'm lazy or just impatient, but I think my pies are just fine at room temperature. Or warm, right out of the oven, with ice cream:)