Sunday, May 15, 2011

Homemade Pie Crust

I'm not much of a pie maker but Mr. B really loves pie. Give me a cake any day. But in my efforts to please Mr. B I decided to make a pie crust. I used to make the kind that came in a box and you mixed it. Then I found the Pillsbury pre-made refrigerated crust to be excellent and easy. Our pantry has been overflowing since we shop the "buy one get one free specials" or the "ten cans for ten dollars" bargains or buy the cases of cans at BJ's. In my effort to eat from the pantry I found a can of pumpkin pie filling left over from Thanksgiving. You-know-who LOVES pumpkin pie. Not a favorite of mine so I am not tempted to eat it. There was no ready made crust in the refrigerator but I thought, "I can do this." gave me this recipe by Julia Childs for a crust made in the Cuisinart.


1 3/4 c. flour
1 stick (1/4 lb.) butter, cut up
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt

Blend flour, butter, oil and salt in Cuisinart until crumbly. Add 1/4 cup of cold water and continue blending until ball forms. Makes dough for a double crust pie or 2 single crusts.

It sounded easy enough. It really did form a ball which I halved and rolled out on a large cutting board. Rolling a circle is not easy, but that done, I draped it over the rolling pin and transferred it to the pie plate. The second crust I rolled out and put it in the pie plate and refrigerated it for another day.

Here is my crust. I'm not an expert on the pinching to make it pretty but this is not bad.

Here is the finished product. I was so proud of myself! Mr. B loved it! I have to say the crust is not as tasty as the Pillsbury kind. Maybe I should try one made with Crisco. Any suggestions for a flaky crust recipe?

Paws was very interested. Maybe I should make him one filled with tuna fish or chicken!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nesting Time in the Park

In my last post about Gay City Park I promised more photos so here they are. Mr. B and I sat at a picnic table to gaze out at the water. There was a small island with a goose on it. He was motionless. As I was taking his picture I saw another goose. It was the female getting out of the nest. And there were four little ones at her feet! Papa goose never wavered from his job of sentinel.

Underneath are other photos I took in the park - the creek through the skunk cabbages, ferns unfurling, and a small waterfall. Even a small waterfall sounds good as it gurgles. Mr. B and I returned to the park another day planning to watch the geese and have a picnic. But we couldn't see any geese and a cold wind and then rain drove us back to the car. We ate our pimento cheese sandwiches in the car but there was a lovely view of the woods and blooming trees.

Stop by Little Red House and see the other collages on Mosaic Monday.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Gay City State Park

 I've had the opportunity to choose my Mothers' Day gift. Even though we moved into a forty-five year old house, there are no perennial flower beds, just foundations plantings of azaleas, rhododendrons and junipers. I am eager to start some flower beds and have four, 4x4 cedar raised beds ready to go. My gift is a load of mulch and a load of mixed compost and topsoil. Oh, happy gardening-days-to-come. You may think that is like getting a washing machine for Christmas, but I assure you, this gift will make me very happy. Throw in a little fertilizer and I am a contented woman. Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law for this lovely gift!

On the way home from the landscaping place, we decided to check out Gay City State Park. What a find! Water, wildlife, serenity and place to sit and enjoy it all. It was a warm sunny day. While the "kids" went to explore the dam,  Mr. B sat and turned his face to the sun, and I wandered down a path with my camera and monopod, feeling quite like a professional photographer. That is until I was almost run over by a dog on a leash that seemed to be pulling a man on a bike. After I recovered and quite was restored, this squirrel came through the woods and stopped to rest.

 In this close up you can see the dirt on his nose. Don't you think he had just dug up the nut?

There were wet areas along the creek and they were full of skunk cabbage. Reading about skunk cabbage, I learned the plant can generate heat which allows it to push its way up through the frozen earth.  Next spring I'm going to start looking for it earlier so I can see the bloom which is inside the spathe, the first part to push up.

Don't you love the way the leaves look with the sun shining through them? I like to look up close and see the details like the veins in the leaves.

Gay City State Park is in Hebron, Connecticut. According to Wikipedia it includes the remnants of an 18th century mill town which was named after the Gay family, who made up a large part of its residents. The Blackledge River flows through the park and there is a dammed pond. The extensive trail system links to other parks.

In my next post I will show you more pictures taken in the park.

Monday, May 2, 2011

More Azaleas

Deanna of "My Loves, My Life" expressed amazement that an azalea bush would be twelve feet high. All you southerners know they get that tall and even taller. But I didn't expect to find such a tall azalea in Connecticut. Here it is as seen from the window of my former dining room, now studio.

Here is the same azalea as seen from the path to the back porch.

These bushes are near our lake house in Virginia. They are six to eight feet tall.

If you want to see amazing azaleas you should go to the deep south in March. Nothing can rival the beauty of azalea time in Savannah, Georgia. I'm from near there and I can tell you that every yard has azalea bushes, many of them huge!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Azaleas in Virginia

Mr. B and I left Connecticut in a cold rain and headed to Virginia. We took turns driving through heavy rain and fog. In Harrisburg, PA it was Mr, B's turn to drive and my turn to nap. I woke up outside Chambersburg, PA in a different world. Blue skies, warm sunshine and the middle of spring. It was lovely! Dogwoods, redbuds and azaleas were in full bloom! Here are some of the azaleas I enjoyed in Virginia. The butterfly on the flower in the collage was taken in the yard of our Virginia house.

I took the hammock south with us and the night we arrived it was up and I was in it! It was a warm, breezy evening and I could hear the night sounds. Believe me, that hammock was well used during the time we were there. Oh, so nice to have some Porch Days!

We met with the realtor and our lake cottage in the woods is for sale.

Visit Mosaic Monday and see all the lovely mosaics.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Off to Virginia!

This pink azalea bush behind our house is a riot of blooms! It is about twelve feet tall.

Mr. B and I are going to Virginia to check on the house at the lake. I'm taking my hammock with me. Hoping to have a little time to swing, read and nap. There is no TV and no internet in the house!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Little People

I enjoy creating many different types of things, from photo cards to fabric sculptures. These little people are a favorite of mine. I think of them as the Mr. and Mrs.  Sheila of Starshine Through My Windows saw their picture in a post about my new studio location and asked me how their bodies are stiff enough to hold them upright.

The torso is actually a pill bottle. The rest is a bit of fabric, felt and pantyhose. Oh, and her purse is leather. My supply area is well stocked enough to have all this on hand!

Every well dressed lady has her earrings on.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who lives in your "hood?"

Mr. B and I went for a Sunday drive and this is who we saw. I'm never fast enough to get a good picture when a bird flies across the road in front of us. I barely caught this egret before he landed in a flooded area where we couldn't see him at all. This donkey I wanted to hug but settled for a rub on a velvety nose. The goose was serenely watching the water flow by. We wondered if it was a male being a lookout for a nesting female.

After the downpour last night, the creeks and rivers were roaring! We saw some amazing waterfalls going over old dams. It helps me understand the power of water and why there were so many mills in New England.

Visit Little Red House and see other photo collages.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sun Bath for Plants

My plants are traveling all over the house in search of sunshine! We have to be careful where we step. Here you see my Asian Lilies in plastic bottles I cut off. Mr. B and I bought a box of fourteen bulbs at BJ's. They had white tops which are now turning green.

Only the squash seeds came up. They are thriving in yogurt containers which I will wash and recycle. I think it is not warm enough in the house and there is not enough warm sun for the flower seeds to germinate. We could feed the whole world if everyone would eat squash! I can't get everyone here to eat it unless I make it into zucchini bread. Maybe I should put it in the blender and hide it in spaghetti sauce. Would that work? I'm talking adults, not children.

At last, we had a day warm enough to take things outside! My coleus have done fairly well. I cut off the tops and root them and then pot them in soil. And of course I am always pinching back so they will be bushier.

One day of sunny warmth and now back to three days of rain. No sun anywhere!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Studio

It wasn't even my idea! But it all fell into place so beautifully. My daughter suggested we move the dining room table into the sunken living room so we could eat by the fire. Certainly the living room is large enough. That got me thinking about what could be done with the dining room.
Why not turn it into a studio for me? It would bring me up from the basement where I only have one very small window and where I feel very cut off. The downstairs studio can store my supplies. Now I am next to the kitchen and laundry so I can work and then dash off to stir the pot or transfer laundry. In the photo you can see past the kitchen doorway and into the laundry room.

Where my worktable now sits is where the dining room table was. And I just had to add the shelves for storage! I am trying very hard to keep it neat but am thinking it is not in my nature to work neatly! I am being much more productive in the new location! And there is light - a whole wall of nearly floor to ceiling windows!

Here are my little people and some of my photo cards.

The collage (made in Photo Shop Elements) shows my wild crochet, one of my photos framed in a shadowbox and a basket of fat yarn.

Thanks to all of you who gave me suggestions for making photo collages. I'm going to work with Elements for a while and see what I can come up with.

I'm joining Little Red House for Mosaic Monday. Check out all the mosaics there.

Now a question for those of you who have Etsy shops. Is it hard to do? Does it pay off? How do you get business? My attempts to find a part time job have not succeeded. I'd rather be home with Mr. B and working in my studio. But a little income would be appreciated. After all, a girl has to buy photo paper, frames, fabric and books. I need to support my habit! Thanks in advance for your answers!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reception at Akus Gallery

Exciting evening!! This is me posing with my photo "Shenandoah Valley Mule" at a juried art show at Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, Connecticut. This is the first time I've had a photo in a juried show. I am so proud of myself! Mr. B took family and friends to dinner after the Reception at the gallery.

Click here to learn more about the Akus Gallery. Below is the poster for the show.

There are many opportunities here in Connecticut. Hopefully there will be more shows in my future. I plan to continue with my photography but am also crocheting and working on my fabric sculptures. Let's create!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Spring Collage

Darn! I seem to forget how to use Picasa from one week to the next! But I can't find a simpler way to make a collage. Certainly I don't want to pay for software. When you goggle "photo mosaic" you get those things that look like a puzzle. Does anyone recommend an easy, free program?

Well, here it is. I took this picture last spring. We aren't this far along in Connecticut yet. Maybe in couple of weeks. After I created this in Picasa I put it into Photo Shop Elements and put a border on it.

I am deep into family history research. Learned that some family stories are just that - stories. I've been able to disprove one with research and census records. So rewarding to find tidbits of information.

Join Little Red House to see other photo mosaics.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Snow is almost gone

The woods are almost clear and I have been out exploring. I learned that the ticks are alive and well two days after the snow melted! Who would have thought? I made the mistake of lying down to take the photo of the tree.

As you can see by the photo on the right, things are starting to grow. The tulips I planted last fall are poking their tips out.

Mr. B and I went to BJ's for groceries and were snagged by a display of flowers in boxes. They were bulbs or bare root plants. I chose Asian lilies and echinacea. It was hard to pass up the roses, the hydrangeas and the dinner-plate-sized dahlias. I'm ready to garden!

Echinacea is in the daisy family.

After our furnace needed an emergency repair and we had to replace the burner, we realized we need a newer, more efficient furnace. But none of us like burning oil and the cost keeps going up, so I called a geothermal heating contractor to come and give us an estimate. He did come and measure so now I am waiting to hear how much it will cost. It means changing from a hot water baseboard system to a hot air system. But we need to replace four very old wall unit air conditioners. This way we put it all into one system. Will the cost be prohibitive? I thought our oil bill for this winter was prohibitive!

Friday they come to give us an estimate for a new oil furnace. We have been looking at wood pellet stoves for the living room fireplace as another source of heat. I'm not sold on a pellet stove because of the noise of the fan and the auger. I admit handling the pellets should be easier than stacking the wood and carrying for a wood stove. I'll keep you posted.

I'm joining Mosaic Monday.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Working Woman

I've been back to work at the furniture consignment shop. My friend had a long bout with the flu. Still cold there but I wore my long johns and knee socks and boots. Big difference! In between customers I took some photos.

Visit Mary at The Little Red House for Mosaic Monday.

Even if you don't need anything, it is such fun to browse in antique and consignment shops. You never know what treasure awaits! And it is a good chance to shop for friends and relatives who collect things.

I have joined a photography club to learn more, but mostly I'm learning that everyone's photos are better than mine! But on the upbeat, I did have one photo chosen to be in a juried show at Eastern Connecticut University. A real boost to my ego!

My son-in-law recently gave me the gift of Adobe's Lightroom. I'm struggling with it. I downloaded a guide but I'm thinking I need one of those Dummy books. The instructions say click on a certain button and then I can't find it!

What I'm really doing is fighting off Alzheimer's. Mr. B tells me that speaking two languages can delay the onset of Alzheimer's. He speaks Spanish. Since I will never learn a second language, I'm keeping my brain active by studying photography books and software!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Keeping Warm

Sheila of Starshine Through My Windows asked about what I call my Polar Coat. So here is a picture. Mr. B gave it to me for Christmas. I'll give you a hint and tell you the sizes run small. But isn't that the excuse we always give? So, slim as I am(Ha!), I had to exchange my large for an extra large.

It has metallic cloth to reflect my body heat back to me. It is made by Columbia Sportswear. The tag says "Thermal Comfort, OMNI - HEAT." There are lots of pockets and zippers under the sleeve and a detachable hood. It keeps me warmer than any coat I ever had, even my fur coats. Shelia lives in Alberta, Canada and deals with temps way below zero. Maybe she can recommend a type of glove that would actually keep my fingers warm.

How about these?
This online site called "Heated Gloves" has gloves at reasonable prices. The ones pictured above are sale priced at $19.95. On some sites they are $100 and above. And why shouldn't I keep my feet warm at the same time? These insoles don't even need batteries and can be used time and again. Just put in boiling water to reactivate. Price is $39.95.

I helped out a sick friend this week and minded a furniture consignment shop for a day. It is in a charming old building but the heat came out near the ceiling and never got near the floor. My legs were numb from the knees down!! I was wearing regular shoes and socks as I had not been warned. These heated insoles would have made my day a lot more comfortable! They should be great for snowshoeing, too. Something I would love to try. I'm getting lots of ideas for next year's Christmas list!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Turkeys everywhere!

We did buy corn for the turkeys and they are here at least twice a day to eat. Now in the mornings we hear the males gobbling. They are displaying and strutting for the females.

Here is a closeup. I can't find out anything about that cone on the front of the head. I've been doing some research online. Check out this site for more information and to hear a turkey gobble.

This guy decided to go across the street to eat at the neighbors so I only have the back view!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

His Lucky Day!

This little fella was so happy to discover the peanut butter suet.
And he didn't even have to climb anything to get it!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Sunny Skies Overhead - Ice Underfoot

It's a hard winter for everyone. Many roofs have collapsed, mostly businesses and large buildings. Today some local schools were closed while the National Guard shoveled the roofs. They were asking for people to loan shovels. We're getting more snow and rain tomorrow.

This morning my daughter woke us up calling, "Come look out the front window!" There was a turkey eating sunflower seeds that had spilled from the bird feeder only a few feet from our front porch. We went to the farm store to get whole corn but they were out so we'll try again tomorrow. We plan to throw the corn off the back porch and it should slide on the ice down to the back of the yard. The turkey was walking on top of the snow and the ice crust was supporting him so the flock should be able to walk in the back yard. Hopefully the flock we saw this summer has survived.

This is the second day the ice has stayed on the trees even though the sun was shinning. Walking anywhere is treacherous. Mr. B and I went downtown to Main Street for lunch but had to give it up when we couldn't cross the big slushy puddles and get up the steep ice bank on the other side. A nice young man offered to help us, assuring us that since he is a volunteer fireman he is very capable. We believed him but decided it was safer to give up and go elsewhere. Now I understand why people go to the mall just to walk.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Winter Continues

Wow! I feel like I am under house arrest! Yesterday was snow and freezing rain. Today was freezing rain and fog. No point in trying to get out. Walking is a risky business but I did get out to take a few pictures. You can see the ice on the limbs and dripping from the leaves.

I thought I was doing so well this winter. After all, this is no worse than last winter in Virginia. But suddenly those ads on TV for Caribbean vacations with gorgeous blue/green water and white sand beaches are looking pretty good!

And while we haven't had a tree fall on the house like last year in Virginia, we have had furnace trouble. We are planing to replace it in the spring and hope the repairs will last until then.

That translates to no vacation in the sun!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Big Snow!

My seeds! They must be here somewhere!

Lots and lots of snow here. How nice not to have to go anywhere. I did a little shoveling and took some pictures in the yard.

I need snowshoes to get into the woods! Has anyone tried these new types of snowshoes? How about these from LL Bean.