April 29, 2011

Our Cherry Tree

My helpers and I have been pulling ivy off the cherry tree in our back yard. It was sort of like stripping wallpaper. Once you get going it becomes a game to see who can get the largest piece. Last year was our first summer here, and the cherries were few. I am hoping to save the tree, and in the meantime we are enjoying the blossoms. How are you prepping your yards for planting?

Happy weekend!

April 25, 2011

First Attempt at Apple Pie

Happy Easter! I hope you had a great day celebrating and maybe relaxing. We are looking forward to the next fifty days of feasting during this Easter season!

We had a fairly quiet time around here. After Church Matt and I cooked while the kids took their nap. And then I rolled up my sleeves to bake my first pie! I had a lot of fun, although at moments I was working up a nervous sweat. "Am I working the dough too much? Hmm...just a bit more. The recipe says the butter should be about the size of peas."

I refrigerated the dough in plastic wrap for about half an hour (I know it should be at least an hour, but I was in a hurry!) and then set it out to let it adjust to room temperature. After sprinkling flour on the counter, I rolled it out. Here is where I got nervous. My edges were breaking and uneven, and the dough started sticking to the counter. I rolled it out, stuck it back together here and there, folded it in half, and laid it inside my buttered pie pan. After I unfolded it, I put in my apple filling and repeated the same process of rolling and folding/unfolding for the top crust. Hey, this is my first time. I was not focused on presentation, just taste. It turned out alright. The dough was maybe a bit thick and doughy, and I will concentrate more on the apples next time (more apples, more sugar needed.) But all in all, a pat on the back for trying and enjoy!

April 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Tutorial

  Sometimes I wish I had a personal jet. It's my friend's birthday today, but since she lives in Ohio, I will be celebrating with her in spirit. My son had a great idea to have a cake in her honor, and she requested carrot cake. So carrot cake it is.  Hopefully she'll receive her present in the mail before seeing it here. I tried embroidering some pillow cases (inspired from here) for her and made a couple of bookmarks. She's a writer  who, of course, also loves to read. I found this fabric with letters on it, which made me think of her.

I made the lettered bookmark by simply cutting out two identical shapes (you could make a tie for dad or flower for mom-lots of options). I then cut interfacing about 1/4 inch smaller to fit inside the shape. Be sure to follow the instructions on your interfacing. Cutting about a 7 in. piece or rickrack, I folded it in half and tucked 1/2 in. of the open end between the top part of the bookmark before sewing the top together. I left my edges raw and sewed around the outer edge, careful to catch the interfacing.
 For a finished edge, you could lay the bookmark flat, right sides together, and sew 1/2 inch seam, leaving a 1 in. opening along the bottom. For this option, pin the rickrack between the layers, the large loop tucked inside, before sewing right sides together. Then turn right side out, iron, and sew about 1/4 seam along the outer edge, sewing the opening shut.
 For instructions on making a yo-yo for the second bookmark, check out this helpful blog. I sewed ribbon onto the back of the circle before making the yo-yo. Very simple and quick. These are great projects to do with you kids. They can help you design their own bookmark and enjoy reading all the more! Send me pictures of your own bookmarks. I would love to see them!

April 8, 2011

Good Day Sunshine

Beautiful sun! Long lost friend of mine. How we have missed you!

We savored every moment today by getting out to work on the yard. Mostly we are prepping everything to make a clean canvas for planting next month. The highlights of the day included rescuing a butterfly from the kitchen and planting a blossoming cherry tree in the front yard. All the ivy around the lamp post is uprooted and we spray painted the gold black.  I keep plugging away at the weeds, one section at a time. I even exchanged my sweater for a short sleeved shirt. Hello bare arm! It's been awhile.
The less favorable moments included my two year old digesting half a worm. She has no fear of any bug, slimy or not. In some ways I admire her, but there is a limit. I don't know where she gets it; I often run from bees or move to a new gardening section to avoid large spiders. But daddy assures me she will be fine!

And we called it quits when my son accidentally put this hole in the screen door. Does anyone know a cheap, "presto chango" way to fix this? A good excuse to learn another first thing.

April 6, 2011

Laundry Tuesdays, or Maybe Wednesday

   I like some routine to keep things somewhat in order around here.  Tuesday's chores are clean the bathrooms and put away Monday's clean and folded laundry. Here is the thing. Sometimes I am still washing and folding on Wednesday morning. That was the case today, and I dreaded putting away piles of laundry. Never has been my favorite task. Ask my sister who shared a room with me in college. She took it upon herself to be our laundry girl when the hamper could not hold another sweatshirt. I miss those piles of clean clothes that would mysteriously appear on my bed. Alas, these days it is my job.
   But this afternoon, faced with another week's worth of clean clothes and a voice in the back of my head reminding me that I am trying to abstain from complaining during the season of Lent (will it last?), I picked up my little boy's white button down dress shirt and thought, "How is he so big?" Time flies. All too soon, the kids will have grown and I will miss folding all the little baby clothes.
   So today I tried to be grateful, not only for the babies who get these clothes dirty, but for the people who gave them to us. I realized most of the things in the piles were hand-me-downs or gifts. Instead of dreading another warm load from the dryer, I tried to say a prayer for everyone who shared outfits with us. And I was grateful that it was the LAST load in the dryer! Almost there!!!