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Pie Day 12

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Pie Day 12
One of the most fun parties of the year-the annual Pie Day party! We always love going to our friends’ Pie Day Party and spending several happy hours sampling all the pies people bring. Various pizza pies are usually the heart of the dinner pies and this year I brought one (after looking at previous posts and realizing that I always bring a dessert pie, save the one year I brought a spinach and chicken pie in a phyllo crust.) So, I made a Hawaiian pizza, as that is my favorite homemade pizza to make. And Paul made a sweet potato pie.

Here is the run-down of the other pies.

Bacon Explosion-a miniature pie filled with bacon and other meats. These were extremely tasty bites.

Pie Day 12
Tomato Pie-the traditional
Italian Easter Pie-this thing weighed over 11 lbs and was filled with various cured meats. It was delicious.
Pie Day 12
Bacon and onion-a standard looking pizza with heavenly bacon and onion on it. I really liked this.
Hawaiian-what I made
Pie Day 12
Kale,  beet pesto, goat cheese-this was definitely the prettiest. The beet pesto was a beautiful color and it was a smooth spread. I don’t care for kale but I couldn’t even taste it on this. The goat cheese was great.
Pie Day 12
Salad on a flatbread-I’m not sure what else to call this. The bottom was crescent rolls, then spread with a cream cheese/ranch dressing mixture, then topped with salad stuff. The lightest thing you would eat all night!
Stilton & mushroom pie in a puff pastry crust-no way would I eat this because of the Stilton, but Paul tasted it and said it was good.
Sausage Pie-meat, meat, meat.
Individual pastries with a hamburger filling that included ketchup and mustard built in

Dessert: There were some heavy duty intensely chocolatey/candy bar like pies this year
Pie Day 12

Rice krispie crust with a chocolate ice cream filling and little peanut butter cups
Some kind of mocha pie
Paul’s sweet potato pie-This was delicious. Both then and the next day when I had a sliver for breakfast and found it even better. This was from my new cookbook and featured a “no roll out  pie crust”, which I have to say seemed more trouble than just making a regular old pie crust.
Pie Day 12
A biscoff crust with a nutella/mascarpone filling and meringue on top. I liked this creative concoction quite a bit.
Individual little heart shaped (it was Valentine’s Day after all) pies with lemon curd in the middle

It seemed like there was not quite as much crazy creativity as in years past, but everything certainly tasted delicious. Another couple is hosting their own pie party in NJ next week so we have the opportunity to try out something else. Pie is perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert-why not make a pie today?

Happy Valentine’s Day

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Happy Valentine's Day

a heap of Valentine's glitter

Happy Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day. I hope you have a lovely day with moments of friendship and love. And maybe some glitter and candy. Tabby did a great job making Valentines for her classmates this year.
Valentine's Day card making
In Clark’s class they made compliment hearts for everyone. I particularly enjoyed reading this one.
Compliment Cards
No fancy heart shaped breakfast or pink dinner for us today. I made some pink Rice Krispie treats, but we’re in Pie Day mode.  We love this annual Pie Day celebration our friend hosts and are busy making our pies to bring with us.
And note to my two friends who will say that everything looks picture book holiday perfect I can tell you that neither one of my children thought to make me a card this year and I got zip. So, yeah. I pointed out that Valentine’s Day lasts all day and I think at least one card may have been guiltily made. However, I was tickled that Clark gave Tabby a box pink tic-tacs.
Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

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It’s no surprise that I love keeping a journal, writing letters, and saving things. It’s partly because I enjoy looking back, partly because when it comes to history I’ve always like reading about ordinary people and therefore it’s fun to think about reading my own stuff many years from now, and partly because my mom was unsentimental and barely saved anything, much to my dismay.  I can fall into a hole of nostalgia by reading past blog posts and wander down memory lane upon finding an old photo or letter. Yesterday, while on a search for an important document, I began opening some boxes of old stuff.  I literally have hundreds of pieces of correspondence that I’ve saved. When I saw it all what I couldn’t get over was how often my friends and I wrote each other actual letters. There’s a delightfully large batch from when one close friend in college did a semester abroad.  There are envelopes with all my different addresses from college, graduate school, and beyond. And there were many, many letters from my father and grandmother, both of whom are now gone and so I especially cherish them.  I picked out a letter at random and it was a densely written double sided letter from a college friend (who is still a close friend) that was a tiny bit scandalous. We email laughed about it, especially the part where she’d written “Do you ever think when you’re writing a letter that it may someday become published if you get really famous OR infamous, and that you’d better 1. try not to sound too vapid, 2. not tell the whole truth, and 3. use proper sentence structure?”  And see? Here it is 20 years later and that letter was found and read! So then email was invented and it seemed like we no longer wrote letters to each other, which is why I was delighted to begin pen-palling with a friend a couple years ago.  So, that was my stuff I found.
And then there was….Paul’s stuff.  Paul’s mother was apparently cut from the same cloth as me. I’ve written before about the marvelous convalescence scrapbook we have of hers.  Well, yesterday I came across the lovely box of every card they received when they got married. And the box of cards they received when Paul was born. And all Paul’s first communion cards. (and then Paul found all the “signing books” from his grade school years and also all the little shirts from his various sports teams. Which we tried on. I have to say they made better t-shirts back then because they were all really nice soft cotton in good shape still. The best is the Little League shirts from the year his team was sponsored by Diamond Liquors. It seems like nowadays they wouldn’t let little kids wear shirts emblazoned with Liquor.) Anyway, I come to the same conclusions about greeting cards from way back as compared to now. So much better variety! Hilariously corny! Sweet little pictures! It also seems like it was likely easier to pick up an inexpensive card-like they were everywhere and you’d pick up a pretty one and send it on its way. (Going back and reading that convalescence post I see I have already made that comment!)
Wedding Cards: 1958
The wedding cards are pretty, religious, sweet, feature many drawings of brides and grooms, and came in such a variety of sizes.
Wedding Cards: 1958
I especially liked the one that explained the “bluebirds of happiness”, a card I can’t imagine finding at the drugstore these days. I was pleased to note it was sent by someone whom we still get a Christmas card from!
Wedding Cards: 1958
Paul’s mom noted on each envelope how much money they’d sent and checked when she sent a thank you note. Usual amount? $10-$25.
One of my favorite finds was a letter sent to his mom from someone who was sorry to have missed the wedding because she’d just had a baby 8 days before. (Though she notes this letter is written a full month letter as “You see with 2 children it took me a while to get a schedule etc and things are just about back to normal now.”)
Wedding Cards: 1958
Listen to this sweet thing she writes: “Well how does it feel to be a Mrs? Heavenly I’m sure! I know this sounds corny but I truly still feel a special thrill when I realize that Ron and I are married and that nothing and no-one can come between us. All this mush after 2 children, so you can see I haven’t changed a bit.” I mean, really. Thank you lady for writing those words 57 years ago for me to enjoy today. I think it’s charming you felt that way and wrote it to your friend. I guess that’s what really comes across in all these different greeting cards-there seemed to be an absolute ease or simplicity in the sending of a little message.
Wedding Cards: 1958
Then I came across the box containing all the cards received when Paul was born. I found their style less charming, mostly because they are more modern, but still being from 1969 they had a definitive style.
Baby Cards: 1969

Baby Cards: 1969
As noted from the convalescence cards, people had a weird habit of using unnecessary quotation marks. “Son”, for example. Paul really was their son, no need to quote it.
Baby Cards: 1969
I like this dreamy looking romantic 1969 mother.
Baby Cards: 1969
I am grateful to Paul’s mom for saving these mementos and hope someday my children or grandchildren enjoy looking through the boxes of wedding and baby cards that I’ve saved (though I can’t imagine them being so charmed by the greeting card styles of 2004-2009.)

And hey, after reading this, why not write someone an actual letter? I’m sure they’ll love to get it!




A Baby Quilt For Meredith

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My cousin had a baby girl, Meredith, on December 30. I knew I wanted to make a sweet baby quilt for her and decided on a simple design of a 9-patch of appliqued hearts.  I bought three different fabrics for the hearts and a background fabric. I wanted a purple palette and love the cheerful prints I picked.  After the baby was born I figured I’d better get working on it, and this is actually the first thing I made on my new sewing machine.  Each of the 9 blocks has a large heart hand appliequed to it. I then used embroidery floss to do decorative stitching around the border of each.
New year, new quilt for a new baby
On to deciding how to put them together.
New year, new quilt for a new baby
It turned out that I had in my stash a beautiful piece of purple and white gingham that was just right for sashing.  A little purple square at the four corners of the center and it was just right.  As for that center block, I embroidered the baby’s name across it.  A dark purple border wrapped up the top nicely.
Heart Baby Quilt-Finished!
As for the backing I was thrilled to look in a bin of fabrics someone gave me a year ago and discover a couple yards of a beautiful lilac that was perfect.  I added a stripe of my favorite turquoise polka dot.
Heart Baby Quilt-Finished!
As for quilting it is a tied quilt. I opted to go for a thread that wouldn’t contrast and did the same pattern in each block.

I love how this came out.
Heart Baby Quilt-Finished!
I think it’s not too babyish and hopefully she’ll love it as a little girl, too.  For now, look how teeny tiny she is on it!
Baby quilt
Welcome, Meredith!
Baby quilt

Wee Wander for Tabby

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It’s done! I am so pleased to finish out this week of productivity (first the baby quilt, then the knitting) with Tabby’s quilt.  You might recall that I was very close to finishing it when my sewing machine broke. So after a little over a month’s break I picked it up on Thursday and spent the day finishing the machine quilting. Then Friday made the binding and sewed it on. Then Saturday and Sunday did the hand sewing of the binding and the embroidery of the signature/date.  Done! Oh, and also on Friday I made up a pillowcase to match. So, without further ado, here is the finished product front:
Wee Wander Front
and back:
Wee Wander back (I really love how the square quilting shows up on it.)
Now, on to the process and details. We ordered this fabric a year ago.  When this line launched I knew it would be perfect for her.  The colors are gorgeous and the images are absolutely charming. We had so much trouble deciding on which fabrics in it we liked the most that we ended up ordering a  bundle package that included a piece of every fabric in the line.  One of the things I like so much about it is that though there are two colorways, they blend perfectly together.  I deliberately mixed the colors the together and love it came out. Then on to deciding on a pattern, which of course took a while.  Originally we thought we’d use the big panel fabric as a center.  However, after much deliberation and drawing we went with blocks that would showcase a fussy cut center square and a promise to use the big panel as a pillowcase.
A few favorite block close-ups
I’ve written before about what a pleasing process it was to create each square one at a time.  These fabrics invited a lot of fussy cutting as there were sweet pictures galore.  Tabby loved how I cut out some to have people in the border in pieces.  She says you can play “Find the Human” when you look at it.
"Find the Human"-so many different blocks to look at.

A few favorite block close-ups

A few favorite block close-ups
Then on to deciding how to finish it. I asked Tabby what she wanted for a border and she was paralyzed with indecision. I decided to go with the darker blue and use the hot pink as the binding, and when I see it finished I know it was the perfect choice. The blue anchors the beautiful jewel toned squares and the pink is a perfect pop.  Because I like to make my binding and consider it one last opportunity for a little whimsy and personalization I added two pieces in there that are the cream with blue birds.
The binding is pink with two surprise spots of cream with birds.
As for the backing, I love to do a pieced back.  I bought a pale pink solid and then used a bright pink I had in my stash, along with more of the Wee Wander fabric to do a special block.  It’s here that I embroidered the date and message.  I love embroidering but good golly it’s a pain in the butt and difficult to do on top of the fabric when you can’t go all the way through (and I do it last so that it doesn’t get quilted upon.)
The special block on the back, embroidered with year and names
I love how the back looks and shows the square quilting and makes a great design.  There are straight lines that go the length and width of the quilt, intersecting in the small squares. Then I did a square just on the inside of each center square. You can see from the straight quilting lines that it doesn’t line up quite right with the pieced fabric, but that’s ok.

It was a pleasure to finish with plenty of time to take pictures outside and make her bed for her to sleep in it.
I made a matching pillowcase with the large panel fabric
So now Clark has his robot quilt, Tabby has her wee wander quilt, and Paul and I have the snowball quilt. I love having made something special for each of us.
It's super soft and cozy

Finished! I am so excited to have finished my #weewander quilt. I know my daughter will love it forever. With@sarahjanestudios gorgeous fabric how could you go wrong? #quilting #quilt

My First Knitting Project-done!

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Modeling my knitwear
I did it! I actually knitted something and I think it’s both functional and attractive.  There was no plan here to a finished product-this was all about learning how to knit and purl and figuring out what knitting is all about.  You’d be surprised (if you are a knitter) to find out just how long it took me to figure out how knitting and purling together make the stockinette stitch (ohhhhh! it’s the reverse because you flipped it over…)  As I had no pattern in mind I just practiced each of those things as I wished, creating a nice random texture of lines.  I used up the green yarn and just moved on to the variegated purple and green. Fortunately they flowed pretty well together.  I dropped stitches, picked up stitches, and what not, as you can see by the finished shape.
The finished product-a big wonky rectangle
I was startled and frustrated to find out how you can’t just muddle through, guess, or hope it all works out.  It was also extremely difficult for me to fix things as I genuinely had no understanding (nor did I really gain any) about how it all works in the first place (loops? the yarn goes where?)  I assume that will come with more time and practice.

I feel like with quilting you’re typically thinking from the center out, i.e. the border goes on last; whereas knitting has a different progression and you would think about the edges as part of the overall planning right from the start.  That was hard to get my head around, and also what led to me starting with such a wide thing (practicing casting on, and I just kept going. It began with 38 stitches.)  So had I made this half the width it would have been a normal scarf, rather than this short wide, fold it in half around your neck.
It's very wide so a sparkly purple brooch was just the thing

All that said…I’m totally proud that 3 weeks ago I’d never knitted a stitch and through YouTube videos and asking my mom and friends for help (my mom had to take out a row for me, which I couldn’t figure out), I managed to produce something that I actually like!
The knitter and her toolsAnd, also pleased that I finished it up with enough time to run outside and do a photo shoot in the afternoon sunshine :)  I’m pretty excited to add a new skill and am looking forward to trying out more things.


Snowy Days Cozy Days

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Well, the past week has been filled with wintry weather, snowy expectations, and cozy times.  We all had lots of plans on Saturday which were cancelled due to snow, which turned out to be not all that much ultimately, but we relished the empty day and it was like a checklist of snow days things: a roaring fire, knitting, watching Spirited Away (because in our house nothing says snowy afternoon like Hiyao Miyazaki), baking biscotti, finishing a quilt, special breakfast (toasted coconut Dutch baby pancake),
Dutch Baby
and playing in the snow.
in the snow

Hanging out with a new snow friend
Sunday was back to normal and the main event was the rescheduled from Saturday Pinewood Derby.  This event is always so much fun. This year Clark made his car to fit in the category of “Most Scout-like” and he made it look like the Arrow of Light, which is the highest Cub Scout achievement and he’ll receive next year.
Pinewood Derby 2015
Sadly he didn’t win (the votes are cast by the kids which means that things of questionable taste always win, plus I think the younger boys didn’t know what the Arrow of Light is, but the other Webelos thought it was really cool), but he didn’t mind at all. And he was thrilled that he came in third place in his den.
Pinewood Derby 2015
All the buzz Sunday night was about the impending blizzard, and our school called for an early dismissal on Monday. Tabby stayed home sick with a terrible cold and helped me get ready for the storm, which basically meant going to the library and picking up my holds because my goodness I couldn’t be without the book I currently most want to read, could I? Also we picked up some ice cream because we’ve adopted my friend’s tradition of ice cream for breakfast on the first snow day of the year.  We also invited my mom to come and stay with us for the duration.  It was a merry afternoon watching the snow fall, playing Scrabble, watching both Nanny McPhee movies, playing games, and making a retro tater tot casserole with the leftover chili. In a high level of excitement we went to bed, eager to see the promised 2 feet of snow in the morning.  When we awoke we could tell right away that there was not much snow because we could hear cars easily driving down our road. Yep. The big storm bust. I was disappointed to not have a ton of snow to play in, but delighted that everyone had the day off already and it couldn’t be taken back. And although the clear roads meant we certainly could have gone out and done things or been social, we kept it a cozy quiet day inside with games and watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Once the snow was done coming down and the sun came out it was absolutely beautiful and blindingly bright.  I’ve really enjoyed watching Gordon in the snow.
Gordon in the snow

At first I just let him out for a few supervised snowy minutes.  He bounded across the snow to his bathroom area.  The chickens have hated the snow and been extremely reluctant to come out. Fools! Gordon figured out that under the coop is nice and not snowy.
In the Coop
Meanwhile, with some of the girls laying eggs again Gordon’s hutch has again become a coveted laying spot.
This morning I found a hen in his hutch actually drinking from his water bottle! How does a chicken know how to do that??
identity crisis

I’ve also been knitting quite a bit and finished the green yarn that I had and began a new color. The variegated purple/green I had blended in really well, and after some terrible rows that my mom had to rip out for me I’ve got the stockinette down (knit a row, purl a row!).
knitting progress
As soon as this is long enough to go round my neck I’m stopping. It’s ludicrously wide and I swear looks like a whole panel of a child’s sweater.
knitting progress
Knitting is so different from sewing that I can’t get over all the things I’m realizing that knitters probably just take for granted, but are a surprise to me. The main thing, specifically, is that you really can’t fudge it and just make up stuff. And it seems like things need to be planned out far in advance. This “scarf” is a good way for me to learn these first basics, though.
Throughout all this the kids both had colds and they ended up staying home today, as well. Somehow today is less fun. They are snotty enough to stay home, but well enough that they are filled with cooped up energy.


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