Sunday, May 25, 2008

Berries from Heaven

Who knew....we have a mulberry tree in our yard. You'd think we might know, seeing as how this is the seventh year that we have lived in this house, but we didn't. Not until this weekend. I'd seen a few berries in the yard earlier this week and since I knew that they didn't fall from the dogwood tree I was standing under, I figured some bird must have dropped them. But Friday night Jim pointed out the tree that they were falling from. After a quick taste test (they tasted good and I was pretty certain that they might possibly be something like a mulberry, maybe) I realized that the yard was full of them. Twice a day, I can fill about two of these little bowls. I collected enough between Friday night and Saturday to make a fresh pie. I used this recipe, conveniently enough, the first one that pops up when you Google "mulberry pie". I heeded the comments added at the bottom and only used about a cup of sugar (probably could have been even less) and I threw in a titch more flour. Pie crust was Martha's recipe. This is the first time I've made a pie crust and not used the Crisco recipe, which is how my Great Aunt Eleanor taught me how to make pie crusts. That stuff just really grosses me out, so I thought I'd try something new this time. I even did like Martha does on TV and only rolled in one direction, rotating the dough instead. The end result........

Fresh from the yard, mulberry pie! And the good news is, it's yummy! Jim was mortified when I ate the berries from the yard and looked quite disappointed when he asked what kind of pie was sitting on the kitchen counter and I told him it was mulberry, but I'm thinking that when he sinks his teeth into it (if he's not too scared), he's going to like what he tastes. Now I'm all obsessed with getting every single berry up off the ground and get all panicked when the girls follow me around and, horror of all horrors, step on the berries. I wish they would rain from the sky like Amy's mangoes! I've already spotted two more mulberry tress on my street that are right by the road, and I'm wondering what neighbors would think if they found me in the road picking their berries off the ground. Perhaps a little chit chat on my part first. I bet if I offered them a slice of pie they'd let me pick till my hearts content!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The case of the giant cupcake

I was up to my knuckles in icing last night. After seeing this pan in a parenting magazine a while ago, I knew I was meant to own it. I held off until Michael's ran a 50% off coupon, then high tailed it to the store to snag the pan. I got the only one on the shelf at the time. Then I had to wait for a good occasion to whip up a giant cupcake. Several occasions have come...and gone, without me seizing the opportunity, so I thought Rachel's classmates would enjoy a special treat on their next to last day of school. I used boxed cake mix and made the bottom chocolate and the top white. The white part was done cooking a good 5 minutes before the chocolate part, but I'm thinking that there's no easy way to pop one half out and not lose the other half. The difference in cooking time could have been due to the different mixes, or it could have been that I filled one side higher than the other...or who knows.
Decorating proved a challenge. On the Wilton site, the picture they show doesn't have the bottom half iced. Rachel would not approve of this. I was told, "Kids like icing" and that more was better. I started with white stripes and liked that, but was again told that more was better, so we added pink stripes as well. Perhaps, if I'd had a wider tip or if the bottom had been white and brown didn't show through, it would have looked better. Something to keep in mind for next time. For the top half, I'm thinking that again, a wider tip than what I had would have looked nicer. I guess I had to make one to figure out what I'd do differently the next time. Rachel helped with the sprinkles. Kids like sprinkles too, you know. Regardless of how it looked, it was a hit with the kids at school today. One of the teachers used that phrase, which explains why Rachel keeps telling me when things were a hit. Such a great phrase to be coming out of a five year old's mouth!
The cake is sitting on a regular dinner sized Fiesta plate, if that gives you any sense of proportion. Also a tricky thing to transport!

Monday, May 19, 2008

I finished something!

I haven't been completely idle as of late. Rachel's last day of school is Wednesday (!!!), so I had her draw a picture of her with her teachers, Miss Cathy and Miss Lisa, and I made these little embroideries for them. I made two, one for each teacher, and I am pretty sure that mass-production is not something I'd be very interested in. The first was fun. Having to do the exact same thing again was a good bit less fun. Hopefully it will be something that they will appreciate and will always remind them of my sweet girl. Both teachers have said that this pre-school class is the best they've ever had and I am so happy that she got to spend a year with such a great group of kids.

The frames I used are shadow boxes that I bought at Hobby Lobby. They have a black background, which is how I left the one I made my parents, but for these images, black seemed too stark and harsh, so I covered it with a neutral loosely woven cotton. The black still shows through a bit, which I like. I think it gives it some depth, but the harshness is gone. I was happy with how that worked out. I just used fabric glue and glued around the edges so it wouldn't show up. Here's hoping it stays! Nothing like giving a gift that later falls apart. That is my biggest fear in giving a handmade gift. So far no-one has ever told me that something I made them fell apart, but then again, maybe they are just being polite.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Berry Picking

Today we went to Crabtree Farms to pick strawberries with some friends. Jim is away on a camping trip with one of his brothers, so the girls and I are having a "mother - daughter weekend" and trying to do some fun things that we don't normally get to do. Rachel was really excited about the berry picking and picked a quart and a half all on her own. Sarah, not so happy. We planned to eat lunch afterwards, but it turns out that Sarah was only along for the ride because of the lunch. Instead of carrying her berry basket, she carried her lunch box. She spent most of the time being upset while everyone else berry picked because she wanted to be back at the picnic table eating lunch. Never mind the big breakfast we had this morning, or the fact that it was hardly even 11:00.

Finally I went back to the picnic table with Sarah while Rachel kept on picking and at last, Sarah was happy. The farm was really fun. They should have blueberries ready in about three weeks and then blackberries later in the summer. I know one little girl that will be up for going back to do some more picking, and one that might be up for another picnic lunch.

Berries on their way over to the neighbor's.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Momma Pride

Today, at Rachel's pre-school, they had a lunch for the Mothers. I have been so excited about this lunch, in part because of Rachel's excitement over it. She was bubbling over when she gave me the invitation a week or so ago, and since then, she has been telling me about all the secret things they've been doing to prepare for it. Not telling me the secrets, mind you, just letting me know that much secret preparation was taking place. I am actually really impressed with her secret keeping abilities. Mum was the word for her. So, today was the big day. We arrived at 12:30 and when everything was ready, we were greeted in the hall by our children, who gave us each a rose and escorted us into the class room. The kids showed us to our seats and, when it was time to eat, then took our plates and served us from the food table, which they had prepared. They were all so serious, as it takes a lot of concentration to ladle Cheetos with a spoon! Below is my lunch. This was after I asked for a few pieces of cheese and some bread. Can you tell that Rachel started on the dessert end of the table and worked backwards? I think most of the mothers had to ask for a bit more of something to go with their desserts. After lunch Miss Lisa read The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown and then the kids all sang for us. Lastly, we were given stepping stones that the kids made with their hand prints in the middle and their name and the date stamped into them. The pride on their faces today was so incredible and there wasn't a mother there that wasn't beaming. I swear, if I could, I would bottle up today and keep it with me forever. I am a proud momma!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Getting off my duff

Something has taken hold of me. A feeling of ..... blah. Lots of ideas rumbling around in my head, a list of things I want/need to get made as Mother's Day and the end of the "school year" nears, but still, I haven't been doing much. This stack of books (From bottom to top: Christmas at Home, Kaffe Fassett's Museum Quilts, The Crafter Culture Handbook by Amy Spencer, The Creative Family by Amanda Soule, The Pocket Paper Engineer, V1, The Quilter's Block Bible by Celia Eddy and 1000 Great Quilt Blocks by Maggi McCormick Gordon) landed in my lap last weekend, after my birthday, and hopefully it ill give me the boost I need to get back into the swing of things. I have already read through The Creative Family in its entirety and love love loved it. It is motivating me to say no to the TV more and suggesting drawing, stickering, coloring, whatever more. Clean up can be a pain with a 3 and 5 year old, but Rachel kept asking yesterday "When will the craft be ready", so that is reassuring.
Tonight, as soon as I finish with this, I'm going to start embroideries of a drawing Rachel did of she and her two pre-school teachers to give them at the end of the year. Only two more weeks of pre-K to go. Heaven help me!! She has loved "school" so much this year, I hope it will carry over into kindergarten next year. Work on my Mom's Mother's Day gift is slow. When I watched the show they seemed to be able to slap one together in about twelve minutes. What I didn't think about was that every time you paint a piece of paper or dye a piece of fabric, you have to wait for it to dry. And then there's the huge amount of time spent arranging and rearranging and not being able to execute the idea that seemed so clear and attainable in my head. Hopefully it will come together, but I'm not so sure it will be what I had intended it to be. We shall see.
So, hopefully. Something crafty. Soon.