Monday, July 3, 2017
Gosling beaks and sugar peaks
Have I been outside in the past week? Not very much! It is hot, humid, and unpleasant. I'm mainly working indoors until...well, it might be a while before it cools off here! I *do* go outside if I've got a good reason...like hanging out with our "goz." I love their sweet faces.
The one we call "Flipper" because of his floppy wings is always the first out of the water. I'm nearly certain that his wing condition is the result of a birth defect. If you look closely at his wings, you'll see that the feathers just stopped growing.
He's still fat and sleek like the others, but we'll definitely be keeping an eye on him. I also enjoy our visiting strays, like Clotilde.
I'm done planting flowers for the year, but I'm amazed at the self-seeding that goes on now that we have massive amounts of sun. I bought ONE vinca plant two years ago. From that single plant came a million seeds. Now we have vincas completely lining one portion of the driveway on both sides. This year, I spent weeks thinning out the seedlings and painstakingly replanting them, interspersing them in the front beds and along our side slope. They've really filled in! It's hard to tell from these pictures, but maybe if you blow them up...
Anyway, the high humidity has mainly kept me inside. Todd built a small "extension table" that lines up with my sewing table and has a recessed compartment for my sewing machine to fit into. Now the table surface is even with the needle plate, and I can't tell you how much easier it has made sewing.
I started on a new quilt, the Wallflower Quilt from Craftsy. I expected a queen-size quilt to take many months to make, but after spending one day cutting fabric and a few days putting together huge 18" blocks, I realized that I was HALFWAY DONE with the top! It's because the fabric pieces are so big.
A block, laid out:
Several blocks, sewn together:
They're going to alternate with star blocks, but you get the idea. It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to sew one block, and in four days I've already got a quilt top that, although unfinished, is larger than any quilt I've made before. Talk about instant gratification! I've got a ton of fabric left over, too, for future scrappy quilts. Heck, I might have this whole quilt completely done by August!
I've been baking a lot too. A friend had something to celebrate, so I made cookies.
Although I don't particularly enjoy working with royal icing (that hardens), making the roses was easy, and the piping was surprisingly easy, too. I made way too many for just one person who actually doesn't have much of a sweet tooth...
...so I decided to mail one or two to anyone I knew that had something to celebrate. It was so fun! I used my go-to no-fridge sugar cookie recipe that never lets me down.
I also made patriotic cookie cups for Todd's office. I couldn't find a cookie cup recipe that I liked, and wondered if ANY cookie recipe could make cookie cups. Apparently so. I took a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, rolled the dough into large balls, and dropped the balls into greased muffin tins. I baked at 350 degrees for 10 - 12 minutes. The cookies had a natural depression in the middle, which I increased by pressing down with a small glass.
I tried a new frosting method. I made a standard buttercream and separated the batch into three bowls. One bowl I dyed burgundy (out of red, argh!), one batch blue, and one I left white. I took my piping bag and smeared a generous stripe of burgundy on one side, blue on the opposite side, and then stuffed white in the center. Voila! A patriotic swirl!
And SO delicious. Cookie cups, where have you been all my life??
The baking is not done for the week, either! Today is "Fourth of July Eve" and therefore I decided to make a patriotic flag pie. Recommended fillings online were blueberry on one side, strawberry or cherry on the other, but that was just too fussy for me. I made my favorite three berry pie (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) with a simple all-butter crust. I used a cookie cutter to cut out stars for the flag.
It is NO FAIL and so simple that I don't even need to pull out my recipe binder. Six cups of fruit...3/4 cup sugar...1/4 cup cornstarch. It's not too sweet and the filling is delightfully thick, which is important to those of us who can't stand runny pies.
After this week of treats, I'm going to be ready for a major sugar detox!
Have a great week!