Saturday, January 31, 2009

Baby, It's cold outside.

In my ever expanding endeavors, I have been inspired by some great artists on and have tried my hand at quilting. The beautiful BabyLock I won about 6 months ago has had a good number of features poorly neglected considering it's a Quilter's Dream machine and I do not quilt...until now!
I go this wonderful pattern (yes, I needed instructions) from Oh, Fransson for the Simple Modern Baby Quilt which she sent me super quick (I am a instant gratification kinda gal). I recommend buying it if you have little clue to quilting but want to try. She also has a new one called Mixed Tapes quilt which is again, lovely! The instructions were easy to follow as long as your toddler doesn't throw them in the air, you don't quilt the printed instructions onto the back of the quilt, or you use the stapler for it's intended purposes. You could always print them again if you have any problems.

Here is the first quilt I put together, it's for little Max.
Top of quilt, sans binding

Close up with meandering quilting.

The back is cream chenille. I added a little decorative applique to give it a lil' somethin'.

And Emmy, being a good big sister and stealing his blanket.

Which brings us to quilt #2, the Emmy quilt. I saw this great quilt on Craftster and though I didn't have instructions I managed to piece together this quilt using 6" wide strips of varying size, 2", 3" and a few 4". It was so great to make because I had everything on hand! I dug out my scraps and cut up more than enough for this quilt. I had the pink flannel on hand and the left overs of the chenille from Max's quilt.

Quilt front with binding.

Close up of top with meandering quilting. I got a lot better at it this time and it's fun!

And the back. I appliqued three seperate 6x6" squares to make more fun (or is it funner?).

I hand sewn the binding on the back of this one instead of machine stitching. Once I got down the rhythm it took me less than an hour to do this crib sized quilt. I won't go back to doing it on the machine but I will make sure I have a nice relaxed time doing it.

My girls really enjoyed this quilt because I used scraps that I had left over from making them clothes. So they were so excited to see fabrics they were familiar with and could point out what I made them with which fabrics. I'm working on a third quilt now and I'm really excited to add this new art form to my collection. It's a great way to use up scraps depending on the quilt you make and they're a nice cozy treat when it's a little chilly.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Easy Peasy Apple Dumplings

Ok, so an apple dumpling is basically a self containted apple pie. Totally yummy and easy to make. I got hooked on these when I was in the hospital after having Max, my newest son. I looked up a recipe online but have modified those I found to come up with this semi-homemade version that is just as great and omits the sugar and butter sauce that is normally acoompanied. I recently served one to my cousin visiting from New Hampshire and he enjoyed them too, so I have a second positive opinion on these.

  • 1 two-pack of premade pie crust
  • 4 medium sized apples (any kind will do though I find Red Delicious to be too sweet, a tangier apple is IMO better)
  • Butter
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon
  • Cooking spray (I use olive oil spritzer)
Pre-Heat oven to 410-420 degrees.

Spray a 8x8 or larger baking dish with cooking spray, throughly! and set aside. The cinnamon and sugar tend to caramelize and stick to the pan otherwise.

Apple prep.

I use a steak knife and take the skin off the apple, this is one of the directions from others that I've just incorporated, it seems it makes it easier to eat after it's cooked. Though if you prefer to leave it on, I'd love to hear the results of how they turn out. I also take this time to use up some of the lesser pretty fruits.

I have one of these little gadgets from Pampered Chef though you could probably find one somewhere else.

I used to use an apple corer but found that apples aren't usually perfectly straight cored and ended up scraping out insides anyway. Also, with this method (which takes about the same amount of time as coring), you don't have to scrap the bottom of the core to use as a plug. Otherwise you won't retain the juices and liquified sugar/cinnamon/butter while cooking. Here are my peeled apples with their Rachel Ray garbage bowl.

This is what they'll look like after you core them with the little mellon baller thing. Just use it like a scoop.

Now your apples are preped!

Wrapping the apples.

I do these at the same time like an assembly line but if you prefer to do one at a time it doesn't affect the outcome of the dumplings.

Roll out the premade pie crusts on a clean surface (you may have to bring them to room temp or at least not fridge cold so it doesn't stick to itself when you unroll it).

Score the dough down the center and place one apple on each cut piece (see photo).

Fill each apple with sugar and top with cinnamon. I use a lot of cinnamon and also dust the inside crust with it to give it more flavor. But this is your preference. Top with a pad of butter. They should look similar to this.

Start wrapping the apples by brining one long side up and over the apple at a time. Press the dough together making sure you don't stretch it too much as it will cause rips under the apple. Like so...

Continue pulling up a side and pressing together until you have something that looks like this.

Place in the baking dish approx 1" apart. Either dab the tops with water or spray with cooking spray and sprinkle sugar on top.

Cook for 35-45 minutes or until they look like this, and Enjoy!

It's been a busy two months

Well, first off I was hugely pregnant all of December which didn't add to my desire to be creative (including blogging anything worthwile). Then with the winter holidays going on it got a little crazy here. Christmas day came and with it a lovely baby boy! Maximilian Robert was born December 25th at 2:50 in the afternoon.

We've been adjusting nicely to having the new addition. Then with the CPSC stuff going on regarding selling handmade baby items I've been trying to redefine my sale items or scrapping them all together until things change. I dont' make a whole lot, and really everything I do make goes right back to buying more materials, but it's a fun outlet and people that do buy my items seem to enjoy them.

We also had another first in the house, with Alex and a loose tooth. We had out first missing tooth in our household the night before the inauguration.

All in all, it's been a busy couple of months. This year I plan to blog some free tutes, pattern reviews (and other reviews), home school stuff and some more just of life as a mom of five. I hope you'll stick with me and check out my blog occasionally.