Thursday, November 28, 2013

Pie Day

Every year artquiltmaker and I do pie day. This began when we got tired of not being able to eat pie Thanksgiving or Christmas because of gluten intolerance. Some years we have made as many as six pies! From scratch! In one day!

As the years meandered on we refined technique and made the process easier. The first and best change was the crust. We found GF crusts at WFM, tested them and found them swell! That saved half a day at least. GF from scratch pie crust is very difficult, really hard, close to impossible. Did I say it was hard? Finding tasty, beautiful and gluten free crusts was wonderful.

After the crust we honed down the varieties of pie. The lemon meringue went by the wayside the year
I used Austrian hooch, stored in a lemon juice bottle, instead of lemon juice! The kids were forbidden from that one when we figured out what I had done. It wasn't very good, either. Cherry stopped when we spilled or miss-measured the brandy. Cured Sean of his love of cherry pie. We only make mince now when Cathy comes because she and I are the only ones who like it so the leftovers tend to get moldy. Not good after all the effort.

We have two pies that are always favorites: cranberry-rhubarb and of course, pumpkin. This year those two were definite bakes. As the crowd has been reduced this year three was the magic pie number. So of course it was c-r and p. The third became artquiltmakers choice which turned out to be blueberry.

One complaint AQ always has is sloppy filling. She wants the filling, be it cherry, lemon or any other, to stay in the crust! This year she began internet research on filling early and found a 'gel' which was supposed to keep the in the crust. Tonight will be the test as she cuts the blueberry pie.

In spite of all I have already said I have not yet gotten to the point of this post - this year's pie day. I live 82 miles from AQ. There is no WFM within 50 miles. If I need something from WFM I plan to stop on my way to AQ's. I needed one item from WFM on this year's Pie Day. It would take me five minutes at the most. The hang-up was that the Big Guy was with me. He thinks it is Christmas when he goes into any type of store. He LOVES to shop! We luckily found a parking spot easily and quickly (I know, a miracle). He got a cart – which I didn't need for my one item – and asked if I wanted various items. I told him to have at it, I would just go get what I needed. Which I didn't because they were out! Then began the great search for the husband – whose cell phone was unhearable in the WFM babble. 10 minutes. After finding him I then had to convince him that he had enough stuff (all good stuff to be sure) and find our way to the shortest (HAH) line. Forty minutes later we were once again on our way. AQ texted me while we were going over the San Mateo bridge – she didn't have enough blueberries! We got to DC and stopped at Trader Joe's. They don't carry canned blueberries. We went around the corner to Safeway – no parking spots and a million people driving around the lot in a stupor. Finally found a spot two blocks (it seemed) from the store. The Big Guy (thank you God) stayed in the car. Four and a half minutes later I got back to the car and we headed off, finally, to AQ's. Arrived about 1:45! That made Pie Day half over! We had a bite to eat to refresh ourselves and it was time to pick up the Young Man from school (a happy task I undertake each Tuesday). I went to ARHS and got him. We had a quick errand to do – pick up reeds for his clarinet – and took off from school to San Bruno (I thought) to the music store. Well, the store is actually in South City. When I realized I was lost TYM phoned home and got directions. That should have been that except South City doesn't seem to believe in street signs! Additionally, there seems to be more than one Grand Avenue and the one we were on was an endless loop! I made sure TYM paid close attention because getting lost in LA as a child with my mom gave me a great knowledge of how to get around that giant city. I must have inherited her getting lost gene!

We finally found Braunstein's only to discover neither of us had any change for the parking meter! Since I know squat about reeds and TYM doesn't drive, I sat in the car, ready to move immediately should a meter maid appear, and he ran in to get the reeds. Another ten minutes on the Pie Day clock. As we pulled out of the parking spot TYM stopped me from heading the (wrong) way I planned and unerringly directed me home. It was 4:30! The last pie was ready to go into the oven. AQ did it! I could rest easy in future years knowing there would be pies for holidays whether I was there or not!. I did a little clean-up and helped make dinner. Artquiltmaker you rock!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

An old post never posted - from this summer.

I have 15 minutes before my Irish Soda Bread comes out of the oven.  What better way to spend it than to blog!

Our tomatoes are in fine form. Twice this week I harvested over fifty.  Sunday and Tuesday I cooked them in the crock pot.  Not hard but ended up with pretty unexciting sauce. On Wednesday I remembered that we purchased a new pressure cooker earlier this year. I dug it out and got my pressure cooker cookbook out and made the recipe for marinara sauce. It was delicious! It only made two quarts as opposed to the five quarts I got from the crock pot but oh was it good! It is also gone! Today I made tomato vegetable sauce. It is really good, too.

My quilting is in fine form, too.  I am working on a BOM and a buck-a-block. Because I have some trouble following directions, I make a test block before I use the fabric for the BOM or B-A-B. I also have to put together the BOM finished in April.

Birthday Blooms - blocks finished
original design quilt for her grandson, who got married in January of this year. That was a rush job that turned out nicely
Yesterday I finally started sewing again. Was not able, both time-wise and ability-wise to work on all my quilts while my mother was ill. The small bit of piecing that I did do had to be ripped out so I avoided my studio for six weeks.

But I'm over that for now and was on a roll yesterday!

I started putting “Birthday Blooms” together. Thought it would be really hard because all my blocks did not turn out to be 12.5” squares, as I mentioned earlier when I was working on that BOM. Have to say I will probably never do that group of patches again. I found the directions difficult to understand and the designs overly fussy. They could have been much simpler.

I did, however get them all done and I can see the end in sight. Have to discuss with our cousin how she wants the quilting done. I am willing to do it after doing the quilting on the two lap quilts I finished last summer and enjoying that. But the last one I did for her was professionally done and she might want that again.

In addition to working on “Birthday...” I made two S­hoo-fly squares for my birthday quilt which I am calling “Shoo (butter)fly”. I have ten squares done now. The ones I did yesterday are a deep aqua. A lovely color.

I also finished last month's BOM. It was really hard and I didn't like making it. I always (since last years fiasco of a BOM) make a scrappy one (brown) before I use the provided fabric. But this time I did it so long ago that it didn't help. But it is done.

Then I made the “P is for a Portly Pig with Puffin Slippers” patch for my ABC donation quilt. That will be a challenge to put together because there is a variety of sizes for the different squares. But I do like putting the quilt top together, one of my favorite parts of quilting, so am looking forward to that.

When I finish this post I am going back to the studio and sewing some more – Yippee!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Life getting shorter.


This is an old post I didn't get published when I wrote it. Am posting it today to document the beginning of the end for Mom. Will document other bits of her last month when I feel able
to revisit that pain.

Super G with her great-granddog, Princess Beene - a great foot warmer!

Mom has had a very bad week.  She has been getting more and more helpless since the Alzheimers diagnosis in May. When I  was down with artquiltmaker the middle of September she was having trouble getting dressed.  Last Wednesday she put her jeans on wrong and tripped and fell in her bathroom. We don't know what she hit - I suspect it was the edge of the bathtub - and she broke two ribs, sprained her shoulder, may have cracked her elbow and has various bruises and contusions. I was planning on going down the next day anyway so just left home about 5p.m. and got to Santa Clarita at 11p.m.  Went to Henry Mayo Hospital first thing to find her pretty much out of it. She didn't know who I was which was heartbreaking for me. Apaperaddict arrived a few minutes later and my youngest step-sister soon after that. The doc came in and said she could go home - no reason for her to stay! She couldn't walk, wasn't eating and was incoherent. Our patient advocate, Apaperaddict, put on her 'nasty pants' and won the sparring match with the discharge dummys. She stayed an extra night until we found an appropriate skilled nursing facility for her.  Skilled, however is debatable!
Several months ago I was whinging and whining to artquiltmaker about not having a decent word processing program on my computer and what a pain that was when I was trying to blog. I had (have) about given up blogging because much of what I typed kept getting blown away. She suggested I try Apache Open Office.

I dutifully downloaded the free product and waited for something to happen. Voila! Couldn't find it on my computer and spent what now seems like hours trying to use it. Finally gave up. This morning Adobe Acrobat announced an update when I opened Mozilla. As I mostly play games on my computer (remember, my word processing is close to non-existent) I began downloading it. As I was following the directions, which included going to downloaded programs, it occurred to me that maybe I needed to do that with Apache! Looked through downloads and found the program, opened it and began the process. Lo and behold, I now have a word processing program that works! Thank you artquiltmaker.

As many of you know, we lost my sweet mom October 28th. Her final three weeks were dreadful and the only good part was that she only suffered three weeks. I miss her so much.

Earlier this week I was transferring birthday dates into my 2014 calendar and realized how much time I spent with Mom this year. I expect to be going down to her home at least twice more, once in December to finish clearing out the copious amounts of stuff she collected over the years and then, when the house sells, to move furniture. And I know what I will be doing with all this extra time I will have! I am going to (and have begun to) clear out all the copious amounts of stuff I have collected over the years! I started yesterday - one half of a shelf is now neat and tidy! Yea me.