Wednesday, May 17, 2017

My Rose Bush

Roses, roses, roses!!!


We recently bought this Julia Child rose bush and I was the happiest person in the world. We got three blooms out of it and there were a bunch more buds ready to open in maybe a week.  And then squirrels ate every single bud on the bush. I was pretty devastated. The bush itself is not really harmed and so we're going to see about putting hot pepper spray or something on the new buds it makes. I need to get a book about roses from the library.

I was a bit cheered up this morning because my pink sundrops put forth a bloom! They are beautiful delicate papery looking blossoms. I planted them last summer and they are perennials, so I was hoping they would come back this year and they did! The plant is still quite small but I guess it will get more robust over the summer. I'm still really new to gardening. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Outgoing

Outgoing mail:

 
Does anyone else love the movie "Big Trouble in Little China"? It's just the best! When I found out Donovan liked that movie too I just had to decorate the envelope around it. I drew the PorkChop Express, ole' Jack Burton's truck. :)

 
 
A Peter Pan envelope going out to my college roommate, who is as Peter Pannish as one can be.

Roses, roses, roses! I love roses. We bought a rose bush recently- but more about that in another post.



I'm still so pleased with this handmade stamp of mine.
Happy mailing!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Pineapple Upside-down Pie & Strawberry Blackberry Oat Crumble Pie

I recently experimented with a pineapple upside-down pie! It turned out delicious, even if it looked a little funny.

The pineapples ended up rising while it cooked, so they didn't show up very well when the pie was flipped over. Because of this, I think that next time I will try a Pineapple Right-side-up Pie. 

I also made a Strawberry Blackberry Oat Crumble Pie.

How to make Pineapple Upside-down Pie:

one pie crust

Canned pineapple, rings in juice not syrup!
maraschino cherries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 eggs
7 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp cornmeal
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp vanilla extract


As I said earlier, I think the next time I would make it right-side up. But if you want to do it upside down, melt 1/2 stick of butter and mix with brown sugar. Put in bottom of a pie dish- no crust underneath! Lay the rings of pineapple around the pie shell and fill all the gaps with maraschino cherries.

Now we make the filling, which is a chess pie recipe that I took from Nothing in the House. I made their cranberry chess pie and it was AMAZING. And now I've adapted that recipe into a couple other things- this pineapple pie, and a rhubarb chess pie.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the sugar and butter. Cream together, then add the eggs one at a time, beating together to combine. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt. In another bowl mix the buttermilk and vanilla. Then mix the ingredients to incorporate alternating between adding the dry and wet ingredients. So first add 1/3 of the flour mix, stir. Add 1/2 buttermilk, mix. Then 1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk and then finally the last 1/3 flour. Feel free to go look at the Nothing in the House recipe above. She explains it very well.

Cover the pineapples with this batter. Roll out your crust and lay it on top of the pie. You can cut a few slits in it. Bake 40-45 minutes-ish.  I let mine go a little longer because I was nervous. This would be another advantage to doing a right-side-up pie... you'd be able to see better how it was baking I think.

Let it cool a few hours and then it's time to try to turn it over! Use a knife to pry the edges of the crust off the pie plate--- invert it onto a platter. Shake it, pound on it, use the knife for more prying if it gives you problems. Again, another reason I think I'll do it right-side-up again. Less work!

This pie can stand on it's own, but man, it was super good with some vanilla icecream too.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Outgoing

Some outgoing mail:

An envelope made from my pile of book dust jackets (given away by my library!):
A Ferris wheel and a banana split make a pretty good summer day... except that I am scared of heights and don't like bananas.


Security envelope with some drawings that I found in an abandoned notebook:
I just love that sticker. Are they groundhogs? Nutria? I have no idea.

These two are from a little while ago...
I think this was sent in March when the weather turned cold again and it snowed after a couple weeks of super warm weather. I was trying to embrace it.
In the background are our new curtains!!! 



Sunday, April 30, 2017

I'm crazy

Because I'm weirdly obsessed with cataloging things, I counted up and made a list of all the notecards I have.



I found out that I have 145 notecards. I plan on marking off every time I use one, because, as I said before, I'm crazy.  I did not count up postcards, or any of my holiday specific cards... Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day...

I also looked at my mail log and counted up how many items I send a year. In 2015 I sent 203. In 2016 I sent 143. In October and December I think I almost exclusively send holiday mail, but it's kind of exciting to think that if I only sent regular notecards that I would use them all up in a year.

Anybody else completely nerd out over mail like this?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Outgoing Easter mail

Last year I prudently put all of my Easter stickers in an envelope so this year I was very prepared for lots of eggy pastel outgoing envelopes.





Saturday, March 11, 2017

Blackberry Cinnamon Roll Pies

Oh my God. This might be my best ever semi-invention. I had read online about cinnamon roll pie crusts but none of the full recipes (filling, etc.) looked very convincing.

Then one weekend Anna brought back some blackberries from the store and I did this.
Blackberry cinnamon roll pies.

INGREDIENTS:

store bought puff pastry
3-4 packages blackberries (I can't remember how many packs I had- we had blackberries left over, and that ain't no problem!)
1/4 c sugar
butter, melted, around 3 tablespoons
cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling

ICING:
half package of cream cheese, softened
confectioners sugar
milk
cream
vanilla extract

1 package of store bought puff pastry made enough for 3 mini pies, so I think I would buy 2 packs in the future for company. I really think that mini pies are the way to go for this. I don't think the crust would hold up super well, sturdy-ness wise, to a 9 inch pie plate.

Thaw and lay out the puff pastry according to the package requirements. When it is thawed and unfolded, brush it with melted butter, sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Use a knife or spatula to smooth/even out the cinnamon and sugar.

Roll up the sheets into a tube, then cut half inch rounds off the tube. Arrange about 5-6 of them in the mini pie plate and smush them in with your fingers so that they are joined together to form a crust.

Toss the blackberries in 1/4 c sugar. Put the black berries in the prepared crusts, then top with one more round of cinnamon roll.

Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for 30-35 minutes or until blackberries are bubbling and the crust is browned and flaky.

While the pies are baking, make the cream cheese icing.

The cream cheese should be at room temp. Take half of the package of cream cheese and mix with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. This is easier using a hand mixer, if you have one. Beat until fluffy and well combined. Slowly add a little milk or cream, I used some of both, and keep beating. You can add a little vanilla extract if desired. Taste and add more confectioner's sugar if you want it sweeter. Add milk or cream and mix until it's an icing-like consistency - not like frosting for a cake- it needs to be runnier. Just add the liquid slowly until it looks good.

Let the pies cool for a while. Put the icing on right before you eat! It's super great when they are still warm!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Mail and Moomin: Places to find peace

Hey there everybody! 

I've been upset and angry at developments from the White House these days, and though I'm trying to keep up with everything that's going on, I also need to step back and find peace and enjoyment in life to keep my head and not get bogged down or hopeless.

 For me, making mail is part of that peace.


In January I kept making snowy wintry mail, which in some ways feels unseasonal. It's like, Christmas is over, I'm ready for spring!


We did have some really unseasonably warm days here too. On the day of the Women's March (we had 5,000 people show up in our town!) it was like 60 degrees!


But it's gotten cold again, and there were flurries on and off all day yesterday. I'm really rather grateful for it, as the mud was getting intolerable. We had to put Hubble in the bath to wash off his paws every time he had to go outside. 


 So I've kept on with winter, sending the last of my beautiful quilt cards that I love so much, and using snowy scenes from all the children's book dust jackets that my library was giving away.

Here's a fun Christmas gift from my sister-in-law:
 A handmade solar system coffee coozy! I love it!

And here's that monstrous pup:
 He was sleeping like this, I don't know how he kept his legs that straight while asleep. 

And bar art from trivia night:

And another place I'm finding peace and happiness these days: Moomins!
 

I'd heard of Moomins before but had never read a book until now. I am two chapters in and I just love it so much. It's like a Scandinavian Winnie the Pooh. It's funny and cute and peaceful and a little bit weird.

I highly recommend it!