Saturday, September 19, 2015

Two September Recipes and a Project Photo From a Friend

First things, first. Hannah sent me a photo of her final block for this year's quilt along. Isn't it lovely? The fabrics are so cheerful and bright. Beautiful work!

I haven't done any actual stitching for the past several days, but I've made headway on some ideas. Both are inspired by the upcoming holiday, but I won't tell you much more.  No sneak previews this time around!

One project will be symbolic and very, very different from anything else I've ever made. This will be something that my grandmother would have loved. The other project is inspired by a childhood memory. That one has taken on a mind of it's own. I was going to make a mug rug, but it's turning into something else. Wish I knew where it's going.

The weather has turned cool and autumn-like again for the last couple of days, and it's put me in the mood to cook and bake whatever I can from local September harvests before warm days return for awhile. Today it was soup for lunch and cake for my afternoon snack. 

Veggie Soup

First off, I made a huge pot of vegetable soup. It's one of my usual soup recipes - raid the fridge and throw it in the slow cooker. Most of this went into the freezer in single serving containers. It will keep for several months. My hubby doesn't care much for soup, but thanks to the microwave, I can have instant soup for lunch whenever I like.

This is what went into it this time.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
1 sliced zucchini
1 sliced yellow zucchini
1/2 sweet green pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
About 2 cups chopped, cooked tomatoes (fresh or canned)
8 oz canned tomato sauce
15 oz chicken broth (mine was homemade)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen baby lima beans (peas, green beans, or other vegetables would work as well)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 T chopped fresh basil (dill, rosemary, or thyme can be substituted)
2 - 4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, and 2 cups of water into the slow cooker. Turn to high.
2. Fry onions in one tablespoon of the olive oil until lightly browned. Add to the slow cooker.
3. Lightly sauté zucchinis and peppers in the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add to the slow cooker.
4. Cook four to six hours, or until vegetables are tender, adding water as needed.
5.  Add the frozen vegetables to pot and cook for another half hour. 
6. Serve.

Apple Cake with Strudel Topping

This is so good - moist and filled with fresh apple goodness. I like it best warm, but it's wonderful chilled as well. I've actually combined two recipes. The cake is a variation of a recipe from King Arthur Flour, and the topping is from an old farm cookbook in my cupboard. The cake will keep for several days refrigerated, but I'm planning to wrap individual pieces in plastic wrap and freeze them in a freezer bag. Not that I have much left to freeze. I wound up sharing almost half of it with my neighbors. The rest, though, will keep for at least a month. 

Strudel Topping

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup uncooked rolled oats
1/3 cup flour
4 T cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1. In a medium size bowl, toss the first three ingredients together with a fork.
2. With you fingertips, blend in the butter pieces until small clumps form and the butter is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.
3. Refrigerate until ready to use.


2 1/3 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice (I used 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp cloves, and 1/4 tsp allspice)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups peeled, cored, copped apple
3/4 cups walnut pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan.
2. Mix all of the ingredients except the apples and walnuts together in a large bowl.
3. Beat until well combined. The mixture will be very stiff,  and possibly crumbly.
4. Add the apples and nuts, and mix until the mixture become a thick batter, somewhere between a cookie dough and a brownie batter in consistency.
5. Spread the batter in the pan, smoothing the top with wet fingers.
6. Sprinkle the strudel topping evenly over the top.
7. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Wishing you a super September week!

Monday, September 14, 2015

New Toys, Part 2: Constructing the Styrofoam Wreath.

After two weeks of work, almost 300 photographs, and a ton of fun along the way, the wreath is finished! It turned out exactly as I had envisioned it, and that's the biggest surprise of all.

The photograph looks like it was taken in winter, but it was actually almost 90 degrees and humid out there on my porch.

These little toys are so very versatile! I attached them to a styrofoam wreath with long pins,  but I can see them used in so many different ways. I wish I had time to sew some different uses, but there is only so much time in a day.

These are just a few of my ideas:
  • Attach the toys to a ready made evergreen wreath. They would only need some little plastic or metal loops sewn to the back. Bits of wire threaded through the loops would attach nicely to the evergreen branches. 
  • Using the same little loops attached up at the top of the ornaments, the little toys would be wonderful tied onto a Christmas tree with pretty bits of ribbon. 
  • What about replacing the traditional bow on a package with a cute ornament? 
  • Stocking stuffers for older children!
  • I'm even visualizing mug rugs or Christmas stockings with fusible web appliques made from the templates

The pattern contains all the details for sewing the ornaments, so I'll focus on preparing the wreath in this blog post.

The Wreath

Any size or shape of styrofoam wreath would be fine for this project.

I started with a plain white 16" styrofoam wreath. I chose one with a flat top rather than one that was rounded. First, I wrapped it in a 2" bias strip from 1/2 yard of green fabric. Then I used an entire roll of sheer 2 1/2" green ribbon to wrap over the cotton.

 Wire based garland sections with holly, pinecones and evergreen came next.

I placed these on the wreath and used 5/8" sheer green ribbon tied on the back side of the wreath to hold these pieces in place The ribbon allows enough flexibility to allow positions to be altered here and there as the ornaments are attached.

I added some purchased pinecone decorations and a few small glass balls to lend color and variety to the arrangement. 

The toys and additional glass ball ornaments were added last. Long pins with pearl heads worked beautifully! I hooked them into the back side of the toys and then poked them into the wreath. 

In only one week, fall will officially arrive.  
May your last week of summer be wonderful!