Saturday Random Recipe: Pie Crust

I love piecrust! I would eat it on its own, if the filling wasn’t so delicious. So, I decided to learn to make it myself – based on our general family rule that everything tastes better homemade.

It took awhile, a lot of practice, tough crust, experiments with different kinds of fat and amounts of liquid, dirty pans, and patient family. But, at last, I have sort of mastered the art of pastry dough!

Sort of. Crusts are inexplicably temperamental. Still!

My favorite recipe is one I’ve adapted from “The Joy of Cooking” (one of our favorite cookbooks). We have pictures of the process so that you will hopefully have some idea of how it looks coming together.

A few healthy alterations: I use half whole wheat flour and half white, half the salt of the original recipe, use butter and canola oil instead of shortening or lard (don’t tell!), and add a tablespoon of sugar. Ok, that last one isn’t actually healthier; but it does taste good!:

  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

And here’s how you make it:

(hover your mouse over the pics to get extra captions…!)

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Have all your ingredients ready. Start by icing the water.

 

Whisk together the dry ingredients

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Add the butter and oil to the dry ingredients and begin to cut in with a pastry cutter
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Cut together until the butter is thoroughly coated with flour, and no larger than a small pea
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This might take a few minutes
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And will look something like this when you’re done!
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Clean off the pastry cutter…
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Gently sprinkle most – but not all – of the water all over the buttery flour
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Now, here’s the tricky bit: The dough MUST NOT be overworked. So use a spatula to gently lift the dough so that the water eases in, then cut and fold it until you have a mostly cohesive whole
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You might need to add a little more water. Something I’ve learned is that you should add as much water as makes you comfortable. It should be flaky rather than wet; but get it to a consistency that you can work with. Weather also plays a part. Here in dry New Mexico, I need to add a little more water than most recipes call for
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You will know that it is done when you compress the dough and it holds together

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Freeze your dough for at least 20 minutes. Meantime, have a cup of tea! (or make the filling…)

And there you are! Proceed to make your pie with this lovely, crispy, flaky, delicious crust!

Enjoy!

-Abigail-

… Ok, results aren’t guaranteed, really! You will need to experiment and possibly (probably) fail once or twice. But keep at it! It is well worth mastering!

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Wagging Tails and Chocolate Boxes!

Christmas is behind us (less than 11 months away, though!) and Winter is long. Time to bring out the Rom Coms, hearts and chocolates! I like Valentine’s Day, mostly because of the chocolates and romance (the teddy bears are cute too). More recently I’ve enjoyed the Valentine’s Day fabric that’s come out, and someday I’ll make myself a cute Valentine’s Day dress with some unexpected fabric.

valentineblogA week or two ago I got lost in the Valentine’s Day fabric, uncertain if I should/wanted/could get anything. For some reason some puppies got my attention. Silly puppy fabric. Thoroughly soppy, sugar-Valentine’s Day puppies with not a tragedy in sight. I got it.

I also got some fabric with a black background that says: “Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love Love…” Kinda seemed to work with the puppies.

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I decided to take some pictures of these puppies, since they’re so cute. The one on the right is interesting, because I vaguely remember a puppy like this in my past. A Stuffed animal, obviously, but it looks strangely familiar.

It’s the most unlikely of the dogs on the fabric, unless there’s a breed that actually has startlingly red heart shaped spots.

IMG_0458I got nice and close, to really capture the love in those eyes.

The doggy on the left is my second favorite of the collection. I think.

I got a good amount of the fabric, but I decided to cut out the dogs individually, and sew them on to the “Love” fabric. There’s more red in that fabric than the puppies have, which is obviously mostly pink, but I figured it’s already pretty silly sugar-Valentine’s, so it would do no harm. I also added white buttons with red thread.

IMG_0456Then I got a bit distracted playing with my new camera and started taking pictures of the M&Ms we had on the table.

I ate too many of them, but I managed not to eat them all!

I’ve been indulging myself too much recently. I resisted naughty drinks at Starbucks today, but the next week or so (before Valentine’s Day candy) I’d better only drink water!

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Back to the puppies…

It struck me while I was writing this, puppy fabric is perfect for people who are allergic to dogs! You can enjoy looking at them and their gooey eyes without the trouble of sniffling and headaches. Either that or they could just get a poodle. I forget exactly what it is, but poodles are supposed to be good for people who are allergic to dogs. IMG_0419

In case you’re wondering, and you’ve read my last couple posts or sew (sorry, ‘so’) then you may have guessed where these silly puppies belong. That’s right, they’re on my mug warmers.

I was originally planning on little piles of hearts, and possibly something written on top like: “You warm my heart” but I thought the visual thing would work just as well as the words.

Obviously, these mug warmers will be for someone who likes puppies (and possibly has an allergy to them) and has a sense of humor, and doesn’t mind a bit of goofiness. An added bonus would be the mug full of either some amazing mocha or a lot of chocolates.

This project was a lot of fun to make. Some new things I learned from it: the interesting challenge of the ratio of mug, I always need to add an inch, and I got to sew on Velcro. The last thing was surprisingly easy and, after doing interesting engineering of making the pattern fit around the mug, it was an easy project!

IMG_0465Now, an added bonus of this whole project:

1. There are lots more puppies I can work with,

2. I also bought some pretty red fabric that I can do something more and…

3. I got to eat some M&Ms!

So there we go! I actually got these Valentine’s Day items done in time for the holiday!

Here is a link to my Valentine’s Day Mug Warmers!

Sarah

 

FriFeaFav: …With Faith

I was introduced to a new treasury the other day, so I thought I’d feature it today. This treasury is called Move With Faith. You can find an interesting selection here. Among them is my own Red and White Tote Bag. You can also find Snow White and a Handmade Christmas Card.

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On the right are one of the items you can find on this treasury. I love this wreath, on the shop Seasonal Wreaths. I’ve been trying to figure out if I want to do wreaths for my Etsy shop, so I’ve been looking at wreaths a lot. This has got to be one of the prettiest wreaths I’ve seen so far.

You can find lots more wreaths on this shop, just as beautiful, for all seasons and holidays.

 

 

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On the right is a very fun Christian Key-ring. You can find this on the shop This Word’s For You, which looks like a very interesting, fun shop. You can find more key-rings, necklaces and t-shirts on this shop.

I took a look at the About page of the owner of this shop, and it turns out this is second  edition, so to speak. She used to have another shop, and she had such a great response from people that she came back. Looks like she’s been on Etsy since 2010.

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So, I sew a lot, and that’s what I sell on Etsy. Among the sewing related things I have to try out is quilting. I have made one small quilt, and I think it was pretty easy. It has cows on it, so I’m not overly fond of it, but I’m going to try again, with a wonderful selection of purple.

Anyway, I’m always happy to see some quilting, and the example shown on the left is the kind I really like.

These are Mug Mats, available on the Etsy shop Quiltsbysuewaldrep. I’m definitely going to be coming back to this shop. Like I said, I like quilts, and the kinds she has I really like! Their beautiful. And Cozy. And Interesting. It will take a while enjoying all of these beautiful quilts.

I think I’ll stop with that. There are so many interesting, fun shops on this treasury that I can’t decide which ones to pick out. And, by the way, I don’t think I’m picking favorites. I highlighted these shops probably mostly because I am more familiar with the items.

You can also find on this treasury an oil painting, a mug and some polka-dot bows, to name a few others. I give you… the Etsy Treasury Move With Faith. I invite you to take a look. It’s a lot of fun.

Have a great Friday, everyone! And have a great weekend!

Sarah

P.S. we probably won’t call this regular thing FriFeaFav. I just felt like being different.

 

 

I Take a Look at My Plans for 2016

So, Abigail wrote a wonderful post about her plans for 2016, and I thought I’d do something similar, which I guess makes this a Cogs and Gears post, although for some reason I wasn’t thinking of it that way. Back to checking that on the categories.

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I found Abigail’s post very inspirational, so I might talk a little more about my plans for the coming year.

First of all, I plan on revising my shop a bit, and I’ve already done a bit of that. For one thing, I’ve changed the shop title. Technically I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but this is the first and only time I will do it.

My original title was: SallySewing – Creating, Fixing and all things Sewing. I was never really sure about the last part. Actually I wasn’t sure about the whole thing, but I was trying set up my shop, so I just went simple and until I could think of something better. Then I decided I really liked SallySewing for the shop title. Anyway, the whole title is now: SallySewing: Doing what I Love.

OK, technically that’s not creative, but I find it quite satisfactory. It just says exactly what I want with the shop and explains it completely.

DSCN5044I’ve also made changes to my about page on my Etsy shop. When I was working on it, I came to a new conclusion.

That is, I’m going to try going with themes. Next year I might try to make things specifically rustic or all red or something. This year, I’m going to go with seasons and holidays.

I’ll be uploading new listings for coming seasons and holidays, as well as a couple extra in-between things.

Now, I was kind of having trouble figuring out what to do for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Then a friend suggested I offer my services to people, to make some specific item for their mother. It can range from garments to bags to wreaths to whatever-I-can’t-think-of. I really am flexible about it . No furniture or picture hats, but I am open to all requests.

So, beginning in March and running until the week before the holiday, I am happy to take orders. How many orders I will take depends on the results, of course. In case you’re wondering why I’m doing this until the week before the holiday, that’s because I’m happy to make things for people who are OK with giving something a bit late.

I think that’s the major thing I had to mention about my shop. I thought there was more, which there probably is, but I can’t think of what it is.

More changes will be coming, like a proper icon and banner and all that nice stuff. I’m also going to be making some business cards soon. Official business cards! And I am coming to the conclusion that it would be good to have an actual Facebook page for my Etsy shop, where I can share tidbits, do more advertising and hopefully be more streamlined or something.

I think that’s just about it. Coming up soon… Valentine’s Day Mug Warmers!

Coincidentally and wonderfully, tomorrow is the one year anniversary of setting up my Etsy shop! That is kind of amazing, and praise God for getting me this far.

Sarah

Cogs & Gears: A Look at the Inner Workings of Our Etsy Shops

Welcome to our new beginning-of-the-week feature! With “Cogs & Gears,” we’ll share what goes into the design, planning, production, and maintenance of our Etsy shops. You’ll see lots of new pictures as we give you a glimpse of new products, our creative process, and probably even the struggles that we have along the way!

I thought I’d start things off with a look at how I’m planning for the coming year. Now, I think we’ve mentioned before that organization is not exactly our strong point. Creativity? Sure – we can do that! But planning and directing our creativity? Not so much. But this year, I’ve decided to do try to be a little more professional in my approach to my Etsy business. That way, I should be more focused on what I need to do, get it done in a timely manner, strategically choose my projects, and get a look at how I spend my time.

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I even got a day planner to help!

Right now, I am as much the mistress of my own activities as anyone can expect to be; I still have responsibilities and things to do, but for the most part I can choose when to do them. This means that for the next few months I can be a bit experimental in how I work on my shop.

But, I have laid out a few basics:

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Writing out the major events of each month is a good way to figure out what to do about them

All Seasonal Items Must Be Finished In Advance

I mentioned this before, and it’s such a good ground rule that it seems like it should be obvious – and yet somehow I never really thought about it before Sarah suggested it! So, for me and my crafting at least, every major holiday is going to start a month early this year. It’ll be strange, but I like extending holidays, so maybe I’ll have fun!

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Of course, there are some things that you can’t plan for. Fancy the entries: “Jan. 18 – Drop 5 lb. weight on toe”!

Set Goals, Plans, and Ideas

I have so much I want to achieve this year! Writing it all down coherently helps me to not worry about it as much, and also have something solid to aim for.

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One problem with writing everything down is that thereafter I might actually forget about it…

 

Break It Down Into Bite-size Tasks

That way, something overwhelmingly huge becomes manageable. So “Get shop polished and well stocked in the first quarter of the year,” is instead:

  • Make and stock St. V. Day stuff by Jan. 31
  • Design picture and logo by Feb. 29
  • Create a Facebook page by mid-March

And so on. So much easier when you put it this way!

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Thursdays are mostly open for me right now, so…

 

Assign 1 Day Each Week for Etsy Work

That way, I can focus exclusively for a whole day on building my shop, perhaps will get more work done and establish a good routine. We’ll help each other out with household stuff, and trade off through the week. (If this works, I might even apply the same idea to writing, etc.!)

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But Devote A Whole Week When Necessary

Sometimes, I have more work to do on my shop than I can finish in one day. Or, I’ll need to have a lot of products done in a rush, in time for an event. And as business picks up, I expect to spend more time finishing and shipping orders.

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And, of course, life isn’t all work!

 

Make Time for Fun Stuff

Not just relaxation, but creative endeavors that aren’t related to Etsy or my shop. That way, I stay fresh and have a chance to try different things: I’m working on a new bag for myself, for instance; and once I’ve posted this I’ll be off to make orange-almond biscotti!

 

Things will change, of course – what works, what doesn’t, new commitments, changing priorities. I might discover that something takes longer than I expect, and so plan extra time for it. But what I have so far seems like a good start, and already it’s helped motivate me to get some things done. So – success!

 

-Abigail-

Friday Featured Favorites: Subtle

I’m going to do something different today – I’m going to feature a Treasury on Etsy!

It took me a while to figure out what a Treasury was, or rather what it was for. A short summary of what I  think a Treasury is: I put together a Treasury for Summer, and get together some items from some wonderful shops, such as a summer dress, summer hats, some picnic things, maybe some tennis equipment, and put them all on my Summer Treasury. It’s like a playlist (or the way we do playlists) or a Pinterest board!

So, now that I know what a Treasury is for, I am going to be making some very fun Treasuries pretty soon!

However, for now, I am going to focus on the Etsy Treasury: Subtle.

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Featured on the Subtle Treasury are these Oatmeal Milk and Honey Shea Butter Soap Bar, pictured on the left. I love Shea butter and pretty soaps, so I really like this item. It comes from the Etsy shop Rustic Cottage Soap. The shop is closed until Spring, so remember to check it out at April, but it looks like a lot of fun.

Along the same lines are some Cotton Face Scrubbies, which you can find on the Etsy shop Sarah Ruth Crochet. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful shop, because it looks like she takes a lot of time and love into it. The owner of Sarah Ruth Crochet mentions that she’s been crocheting for a long time, ever since her Mother taught her one Christmas day. She has a lot of beautiful crochet items on her shop right now.

il_570xn-872889191_9l74Also on the Subtle Treasury are these beautiful Green Fingerless Arm Warmers. They belong to the Etsy shop SeasonFashion, where you can find some wonderful hats and more arm warmers.

the Subtle treasury features some other beautiful fingerless gloves, on the Etsy shop SCFashioncreations. You can find sachets, a scarf and a pillow, to name a few, at this shop.

il_570xn-860313718_pnfdAlso on this treasury is this Burlap and Lace Clutch, on the  Etsy shop Sew Southwest. This clutch is completely made-to-order. You can change just about everything about it, using different flowers or lace, adding some different decoration.

An item of my own is on the Subtle treasury: my Christopher Corduroy Bags. It’s certainly a pleasure and honor to be included on a treasury (and helped me understand what they’re for!)

I have mentioned only a few items and shops on this treasury. There are several more to find on this link to the Subtle Treasury. I invite you to take a look!

Like I said, I think I’ll be making a few treasuries soon. Possibly too many, since I’m coming up with lots of ideas!

On a side-note: I’m off to work on some Valentine’s Day Mug Warmers. If all goes well, and Lord willing, I’ll be doing a blog post on them some time next week. As a finished project. On Etsy! (still working on getting seasonal items up in time for the season). I keep imagining I’ll be able to do a blog post by Monday at the latest, because they’ll all be done and ready by then. We’ll see…

On another side-note: I think this is our 100th blog post!! We couldn’t have made it this far without you, dear readers!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Sarah

 

 

 

Saturday Random Recipe: Mama’s Meat Sauce

I started doing manicotti, but I’m switching to our spaghetti sauce, which we will call Mama’s Meat Sauce. I totally love this sauce! I could have it as a meal alone – although I do love pasta. But this sauce is so hearty, thick, and meaty, I really could eat it alone. Yum!

We always make a thick, pretty-big batch and freeze it in Mason jars so you can take one out and stretch it with a bottle of marinara sauce. It’s that thick with awesome meat and onions and good stuff like that!

It’s kind of a modified Bolognese sauce. Only without the cream.

Anyway. I’ll stop talking about the sauce, and just tell you how to make it.

Mama’s Meat Sauce

Cut up the onion. Or two onions. I love onions, so if I could, I would put two onions in, but that’s up to you!

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Mince up or crush the garlic… same thing with garlic as with the onion; I would love it if we could have 10, nice and big cloves, but 5 is fine!

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Sautee the onion and garlic. I don’t have a picture of this, but it’s one of my favorite parts. You put the onion in first, coat it with a drizzle of olive oil and cook it for a couple of minutes, and then add the garlic. The garlic has a lot of condensed natural sugars in it, so it tends to burn really quickly if you put it in too quick, but once the onions are getting on pretty well, then the garlic won’t freak out and burn.

And then put in about a pound of ground hamburger meat. It’s all pink and weird looking when you first put it in. Cook for a while… stir… cook… stir… oh look! It’s changing colors! Once it looks like this, it’s cooked enough.

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Season with Italian herbs: Fill your palm with dried oregano, rub in your hands and put into the pot. Do the same with basil. This releases the oils from the herbs – causing them to smell a lot more fragrant.

Pour in 2 or 3 quart bottles of good-quality marinara sauce.

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The marinara sauce already has salt in it, so you don’t need to add any more. But if you want to, season it with salt to taste, and a good few grinds of black pepper. Now add around 1/2 cup of red wine – swish it around in the bottles of marinara sauce so you can get every last bit of it out. Even if you don’t drink wine, it tastes perfect in tomato sauce, and the alcohol cooks off. Also, if you happen to be cooking some mushrooms, and you have all of that excess juice, add this to the sauce: It tastes amazing! We do it with and without, but mushroom juice really deepens the taste.

Simmer for at least 30 minutes to an hour, or longer.

Now you have to taste it. And get a really big chunk of hamburger, and plenty of sauce. Oh, I don’t actually use this big of a spoon! IMG_0128.JPG

Well, there you have it! The best meat sauce in the world! Just try it and see! We use it for manicotti, lasagna, spaghetti or other pastas, and pizza – so many uses!

Soon I’ll write the manicotti recipe, and you’ll see one use for this yummy stuff!

 

Mama’s Meat Sauce

  • 1 large onion
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground hamburger meat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons basil
  • 2 or 3 quart bottles of marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • The juice from 8 oz sautéed mushrooms (optional)
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper

 

Enjoy your weekend!

~Hannah~