Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Padding, Pillows, and Plenty of Pudding

Before our current cold snap, I was able to get out in the yard and get some much-needed work done...under careful supervision, of course.

My sister brought over a big load of rich, healthy compost, which I'll till into our poor soil soon to add some much-needed nutrients.

Everything seemed to come to life at once. My autumn sedums look like miniature lettuce heads. They'll make a beautiful display in September.

I found another nice natural groundcover. This is persian speedwell...tiny blue flowers that spread in bright patches in our yard.

Blue is such a lovely color in the garden!

The columbines are making great headway. I expect to see stalks within two weeks.

Not to be outdone, the lilacs are showing bright green leaves all over. I simply can't wait until they bloom! I have the most beautiful bouquets in nearly every room in the house.

I found evidence of past life...some insect spent some time here in the fall!

Best of all, though, I found evidence of future life: the ground under our big pine tree is littered with tiny bits of fuzz, which the birds nesting above have dropped from their nests.

Lots of activity inside, too. Single flowers make beautiful displays in egg cups, assisted by a few pebbles within to help the stems stay upright.

Besides flowers, I've been thinking of more ways to bring some bright color into the house. I recently bought this pillow at IKEA for, I believe, around $10. I wanted to buy more, especially the blue plaid counterpart, but that could get expensive pretty quickly. How hard could it be to make my own? As it turns out, making a pillow is incredibly easy.

I found a man's button-up shirt at a thrift store that I thought would work nicely. Cost: .75.

I found an ugly old pillow that the cats had been kicking around on the front porch. Origin: unknown. Cost: free.

I placed the pillow on top of the spread-out shirt...

...and cut out around the pillow, making sure to leave a wide margin on all sides. I should've left a wider margin, but that was easily solved by removing the cover from the brown pillow to make it a better fit.

Then, I turned the shirt inside-out and simply stitched around the edges, making a nice, even square. I did this by hand, which took less than an hour. If you use a sewing machine, this would take mere minutes.

After your pillowcase is sewn, unbutton the shirt and turn it right side-out. Slip in the stuffing (or the pillow you're covering) and button the shirt up again.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's a pillowcase!

Or, if you prefer the flip side:

I'm really pleased with this less-than-$1 DIY project. The two pillows are complementary, I think, and make a good pair. I'm envisioning a whole stack of beautiful plaid pillows. All I need is a thrift store shirt!

I can't wait to go back!

My knitting needles have been clacking along, albeit slowly. I haven't had too much time to work on my cardigan, and certainly a sock yarn-weight cardigan takes much longer to knit than one knit with the typical DK- or worsted-weight yarn. I'm pleased with the way it's turning out, although I'm still a bit nervous about the modifications I'm making: lengthening the body, raising the neckline, and lengthening the sleeves, not to mention the size and gauge guesses. I will make it work somehow! I think it will be a perfect cool-weather cardigan.

Of course, I've been very busy in the kitchen as well. We just finished off the last of the coconut cream cupcakes, and my homemade butterscotch pudding with carmelized bananas and homemade whipped cream only lasted 2 days. But I did have time for another sweetie...any excuse to use my new tart pans!

From-Scratch Chocolate Pudding Tarts
Adapted from food.com
Serves 4


Pudding
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 - 6 tablespoons butter, melted

To make the crust, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and then carefully press into your pie or tart pan. Bake for 5 - 7 minutes.

For the pudding, mix all ingredients but the milk and vanilla together, and then add milk. Whisk until fully combined, and then microwave uncovered for 3 minutes.

Stir.

Then you'll continue to microwave in one minute increments, stirring after each minute. You'll notice after 4 or 5 rounds that a thick brown "skin" covers more and more of the pudding's surface each time. I usually stop once there's just a small bit of light brown remaining in the center.

Mix in the vanilla, and you're done! Note: if you like a sweeter pudding, add 1/3 cup sugar instead of 1/4 cup sugar. I just prefer the "darker" taste of a less-sweet pudding.

Spoon the thickened pudding onto the graham cracker crust and refrigerate.

YUM! These cool in a few hours and are ready to eat. They're absolutely delicious. I've been making the homemade pudding for years - I'll never go back to the powdered stuff! - but this is the first time I thought to pair it with a graham cracker crust.

It's a good match.

You'll notice that I don't have a photo of the tart out of the pan and ready to eat...a certain someone likes these a little too much, I think! They didn't last long enough to photograph. That's all right...it's quick and easy to make more!

I hope you'll give them a try. Have a great week!

2 comments:

  1. Your blog is fantastic. Your photos are crisp and gorgeous, and your food pics have me drooling. I've never made home-made pudding without my mother's supervision, but the graham cracker crust is a huge weakness, so I'm thinking it's time to give in to the urge. Oooh! Or how about gingersnaps? Give it a "blackbottom" sort of feel. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Those are great ideas! I love gingersnaps. :) Just a week or so ago I made a homemade butterscotch pudding and my husband loved it! I'm going to make more puddings, I'm sure. :)

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