Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Baby gifts

I went to a baby shower last Saturday while my family picked pears.

I've started making my shower gifts and adding something small to go with the things I sew. Saturday, I didn't have any baby gift bags so I ended up using my scrap fabric to make a tote bag to hold everything. I thought it was kind of floppy, being unlined, and wasn't very impressed with it. But, it did the job of holding the gift. I figured they could pitch it, just like gift wrap, if they didn't have a use for it. Oddly enough, the bag was what the mom-to-be seemed most delighted with.

Their nursery is done in Curious George, hence my fabric choice. The family told me that they are having a hard time finding anything with Curious George and although there were many monkey gifts, I don't think there was anything else with Curious George on it at the shower. Thank you JoAnn Fabrics!

Since I knew the baby's first name, I machine embroidered it randomly on one of the burp cloths. I would have used his initials, too, but the parents haven't chosen a middle name yet-at least not that they're telling.

We're visiting friends in Indiana this week whose son and daughter-in-law are expecting their first, too. Another boy. They aren't sharing the name they've picked either, so no personalization on this set.

Rite Aid had an extremely good deal on baby products last week so I used those to round out my gifts.

Do you always give the same thing for shower gifts or do you pick something different each time? I'm liking having a standard gift to fall back on for baby showers. Bridal showers are a whole 'nuther issue.
We're spending a couple days away for our anniversary. I'll see you all when we get back.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apple time

This is Clarence's latest creation. It's part of a fire extinguisher (not the foam kind), refashioned into a fruit picker. Mounted on an extension handle, it'll reach way up into a tree to get the fruit. We put a piece of foam in to help prevent bruising.

We don't know the owner of this apple tree but it's right around the corner from our house. Clarence and Allison were brave and knocked on the door to ask if we could pick his apples. The man gave them permission, then shut the door rather abruptly. As they turned to walk away, he re-opened the door and said "Thanks for asking."

There are two trees that seem to be the same variety that we really like. They are sweet with a bit of tartness. Allison has made some fantastic pies with them, plus we've got some in the freezer for later. They were delicious to eat fresh, too.

We each took a turn trying the picker out. It worked just like he hoped it would.

We've walked down and picked two or three times now. The spots that some of the apples have seem to be only skin deep. Once peeled, there's seldom any problems to deal with.

The neighbor has another tree, with a different variety of apples, that is just ripening now. We don't like the flavor as well, but Allison made an apple crisp with some of those apples and it was great-so we'll be going back for more.

(A couple pies Allison made.)

We dropped off a pie to the neighbor last week. He still wasn't all that friendly, but seemed to be quite happy to have the treat. Clarence thought he was already getting a fork by the time we left the driveway.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Picking pears with Grandpa

Clarence and the girls went to pick pears at his folks' today while I attended a baby shower. We were trying to beat a frost that's predicted for next week.
Grandpa told the girls that there were four possible ways to pick the pears, because the tree hangs over a ditch and into the cornfield.
  1. Use a ladder.
  2. Shake the pears out of the tree.
  3. Get in the bucket of the backhoe.
  4. Cut the tree down. He's been thinking about doing that anyway.

Grandma didn't think he was serious about the backhoe. He was.

Sometimes, Grandpa tells the girls "We don't need to tell Grandma about this." and they understand that they don't need to tell Mom, either. I'm a little surprised that not only did Allison tell me about this as soon as I got home, Clarence had taken these pictures.
They had a lot of fun, we got a nice harvest of free fruit, and they all came home safely. It was a good day.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Recycled Potatoes-the results

The vines of our recycled red potatoes died a few weeks ago. We got around to harvesting them over Labor Day weekend.

Allison joined Clarence in searching for hidden treasure.

The lasagna garden technique seemed like it would make for much cleaner potatoes than planting them in the soil. Hmm, not so much.

We ran out of newspapers when making our lasagna layers and started using grocery bags. The bags had red lettering on them which led to a lot of false excitement on my part. I kept thinking I was seeing a bit of red potato, when it was only the ink on the bag.

We did end up with this bucket filled. Not as great a harvest as we hoped for, but from potatoes that were beyond their useful life, it isn't too bad.
We haven't harvested the potatoes planted from seed potatoes yet. They don't look any more promising than these, actually, but we'll enjoy them, however many we find.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tomato Corn Pie

I like reading Smitten Kitchen. She has fantastic photos, witty writing, and I often learn new things from her blog.

I've tried very few of her tempting recipes and, in fact, Allison reminded me that we haven't really cared for the few I have attempted. Hope springs eternal, I suppose, because she posted a Tomato and Corn Pie a couple weeks ago and I decided I had to try it. (Or, more accurately, use her recipe as a jumping off point.)

I made a single instead of a double crust pie, I cut the salt, cheese, and butter, and used whole wheat pastry flour, light mayo, and skim milk but, other than that, this is just like hers.

I recommend it highly.

Tomato and Corn Pie

1 cup whole wheat flour (pastry flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces milk, skim
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 3/4 pounds tomatoes, whole
1 1/2 cups corn kernels, divided
2 tablespoons basil, fresh, finely chopped, divided
1 tablespoon chives, finely chopped, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup, divided

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl, then blend in cold butter with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse meal. Add milk, stirring until mixture just forms a dough, then gather into a ball.

Roll out into a 12-inch round (1/8 inch thick), and place in a 9-inch pie plate (or press it into the pie plate with your fingers instead of rolling it out). Trim any overhang.

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Whisk together mayonnaise and lemon juice.

Cut an X in bottom of each tomato and blanch in a large pot of boiling water 10 seconds. Immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to cool. Peel tomatoes, then slice crosswise 1/4 inch thick and, if desired, gently remove seeds and extra juices (I spun them in my salad spinner. It helped but didn't completely eliminate the excess liquid.). Arrange half of tomatoes in crust, overlapping, and sprinkle with half of corn, one tablespoon basil, 1/2 tablespoon chives, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and one-half cup of grated cheese. Repeat layering with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt, and pepper. Pour lemon mayonnaise over filling and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake pie until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Candle holder re-do

I bought these at a yard sale. I realized shortly after getting them home that they are slightly different colors. Never one to rush into things, I've left them as-is for a couple years.

I have fears of spray painting but I finally bought some anyhow and gave it a try. It turned out better than I was afraid it might.

After I got them painted, Clarence asked if I planned to use some of the tiles I bought recently. I was so taken with this tile, I bought a sheet of it to bring home to consider for our bathroom. I still haven't decided about it for the bathroom but I'm really liking it on the candle holder.
The simple spray paint job now requires grouting. Somehow, that seems about right for us.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Julianne's hot pads

Julianne saw hot pads like these on Whip Up one day several months ago.

She really liked them so she followed the link to the directions. Unfortunately, they were in German. She tried google translate but apparently crochet abbreviations don't translate well. Imagine that.

She sent the link to our friend Julene. Julianne whined just a bit mentioned that she couldn't figure out the pattern. Julene doesn't know German, either, but somehow she figured out the pattern and shared it with Julianne.

(This one was on the clothesline when she took the other pictures. We couldn't leave out the one with her favorite colors, could we?)
My hot pad drawer is starting to look like one of Julianne's flower gardens.
I like it.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

Part-time kitchen help

My refrigerator has taken some time off this summer.
Right before Family Camp we had trouble but Clarence got it running again.

Last week it happened again. Things didn't feel cold enough, although the frozen stuff was still rock hard, just like before. Sure enough, I stuck the thermometer in there and it was in the 50's.
Clarence tore it further apart this time and found the thingamajig evaporator was iced up. Some defrosting courtesy of my hair dryer gave us refrigeration again.

What to do with all the milk gone bad? So far, we've had one batch of bread and two quadruple batches of waffles. My girls love homemade waffles. We'll be making more. Lots more. I had over a gallon and a half of milk when the fridge quit.
Whole Wheat Waffles
(just slightly adapted from Whole Foods for the Whole Family)

2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sour milk
1/4 c. oil
1 T. brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
Beat egg whites with mixer until stiff. Mix egg yolks and milk together in large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, beating well after each addition; fold in egg whites. Pour into lightly greased waffle iron. Cook until steaming stops.
We think these waffles are delicious enough to eat plain.
Oh, and yes, we're looking for a new refrigerator. Twice in two months makes us think we're on borrowed time. Hopefully, we can get a new one delivered before our part time one decides to retire once and for all.

Added to LifeasMom's breakfast URS

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Saturday, September 5, 2009


Last weekend, the girls went on a canoe trip with friends. Consequently, they missed our annual family reunion. Aunt Sharon was disappointed that she couldn't see them so we made arrangements to get together on Monday.

We got a bonus visit with Nicholas and his mom, Marie.

Julianne let Nicholas go through her bag. He found some very entertaining things, like a hairbrush and several skeins of yarn.

Allison let him check her bag out as well. We think he's definitely going to be crafty handy.

Or maybe not. Maybe he's just going to have great dental hygiene habits. I think he flossed all five teeth.

Allison bribed Nicholas to sit on her lap by sharing her needlepoint chicken with him. He didn't stay long but she was pretty excited that he let her hold him at all.
I've got other things to blog about when I get some time but now that Aunt Sharon is back in Florida, I thought I'd better start with Nicholas pictures first to help ease her withdrawal.
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