Thursday, July 20, 2017


I woke up with a burst of energy this morning.  I'm not sure why - it could be I had to use the morning to prep for daughter's birthday dinner tomorrow (I ALWAYS prep the day before for ANYTHING) or it could be these beauties PH brought home yesterday.
 It's true I gush about Michigan strawberries when the season arrives each spring but really, there is nothing like taking the first bite of the first locally grown peach.  Even better if you took it off the tree yourself.  These are not quite ready for hand eating - tomorrow for sure.  I couldn't wait. 
 This book has been getting a lot of publicity lately, maybe it's that pie season is here, and I was really glad to see it in the library.  Truth be told I'll end up buying this one.  Not because I can't improvise a pie, but because it's really a beautiful book and filled with good advice.  One of the things that had my attention is the crust.   Now, I've never feared pie crust like so many do and I have always been a vegetable shorting  crust person.  It's what my grandma used and I just did what she did.  Never have I used lard in a crust.

This author recommends her primary crust as a leaf lard and butter crust.  Lard and butter! How can that be a bad thing?  But leaf lard?  I kept reading and she specifically says to go to the butcher and ask for "leaf lard, not fat back."  Sadly, the butcher here isn't really very cooperative and I was curious about this lard thing so I went to good ol' Amazon and voila!  there is was!  Leaf lard is the lard that surrounds a pig's kidney, it's not fat back, the lard that is part of bacon.  The author tells how to render it but thankfully, the brand I bought is rendered and ready to use.
 I thought there was a lot of fat in this crust recipe in relation to the flour,  one whole stick (8 tablespoons) of butter and another 8 of lard to 2.5 cups of flour.  It was really hard to get it all worked in but I do know butter pockets are generally a good thing so I left these.
 I decided against a full peach pie because I'd eat it and didn't want to eat a whole pie.  PH would help but WE don't need to eat a whole pie.  Hand pies, another feature in the book solved that dilema and we are planning on seeing Friends Marge and Harry for dinner tonight so I'll take some of these along for them.

 Gorgeous little beauties! I made two sizes to use as much as possible of the dough without re-rolling.
 The kitchen smells like sweet peaches and these are such cute little rustic pies.
 OF COURSE one needed to be tasted.  This is, after all, an experiment in lard vs. shortening.  I can say this crust is tender, flaky, almost a little short bready but not quite.  As a lifelong shortening user I can definitely taste and feel the difference. 
If you've gotten this far in this post here are some Dresdens I'm fiddling around with while sitting on the front porch in the evenings.  So far there are five done, they go together fast.  They're big.  Friends Jan and Marilyn think I'll have enough for a whole quilt.  This is another attempt at using the scraps that I am sick of moving from one place to another, one container to the next.  I am absolutely determined to clear out the scraps.  Some of these fabrics go back to the 70's when my mom showed a couple of friends and I how to make a prairie point circle pillow.  Time to go! Some are going into strip blocks, some are here and I showed the bindings I made a couple of weeks ago. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Pattern for Pepper

A Pattern for Pepper by Julie Kraulis

     Pepper is in need of a new dress for a special occasion so she and her mother ask Mr. Taylor to make one just right for her.
     Mr. Taylor takes her measurements and then explains that “fabrics are textiles and textiles come in all sorts of patterns.”  He explains there are patterns in all things and begins to compare the floor to herringbone, and tells Pepper that design was inspired by the skeleton of a fish. He then goes on to explain plaids and houndstooth, argyle and ikat, dotted swiss and toile, until he has gone through the history and origins of most of the patterns in his shop.  And then, when it seemed like Pepper wasn’t going to agree to any of them, Mr. Taylor finds exactly the right pattern for her special occasion.
      If you sew, even if you don’t sew, this book is a charm from beginning to end.   The drawings are perfect, soft and vibrant and simple.  The history of the patterns is informative for anyone, but if you have a young person in your life who is showing an interest in sewing, this book should be required.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A day at the spa

We just returned from a week at the beach in our old neighborhood.  Friends graciously give us and our daughter and her family the use of their house for a week, we try to relax and do all the things we did when we lived there. That is sometimes a contradiction in terms!
 After setting up base camp and getting Lily settled the water is first on the agenda for the kids.  It's their prime play space.

 One day Elizabeth and daddy went for a walk and found a clay pool that was perfect for a beauty treatment.  Historically, in the 1930's the people who had little houses here DID indeed collect this clay, dried it and sold it to beauty shops in Chicago.  People used to pay good money for what we picked up off the beach this day.
 It was the perfect consistency of goopy custard ice cream and perfect for spreading.
 My turn!  I was told I was putting it on too thick, something that carries over to many parts of my life, but it was too late.  Once in your hand it was there to use.
 Now, I was told, I had to let it dry and enjoy the skin tightening.
 We all got into it.
Daughter was drawing Pictish symbols on the back of hubby's war painted back.
 She opted for the spa hot rock treatment.
 Adelaide spent her time this day trying to keep her face underwater for a record amount of time. When she got to 8 seconds she was overjoyed.
 It wasn't all wave jumping, though.  The girls brought their sketch pads and we all had reading material with us so while Elizabeth sketched her dad read to her from The Lord of the Rings.  Elizabeth is a huge fan of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books and loves to be read to.
Adelaide took a breather to sketch a little, too.

Our time was shorter this year but we packed much into the time.  More pics later of some of the other fun things we did. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Velveteen Daughter

Velveteen Daughter by Laura Davis Huber

      History may always remember Margery Williams as the author of The Velveteen Rabbit but who of us knows of her daughter, Pamela Bianco?  It was Pamela whose fame came first as a small child of eleven years when Pablo Picasso first sees a piece Pamela drew when she was just four.  It was from this day in her life, the day she met Picasso, that her life was no longer her own.  It wasn’t because Picasso took over Pamela’s life, it was her father who exploited his daughter’s rare genius.  Pamela’s father saw his chance to capitalize on Pamela’s talent.  Exhibitions were planned and when her works sold out more were planned.  And more and more.
     It was true that she couldn’t stop drawing and painting, the passion had taken hold of her when she was four years old, but her father exploited her talent to earn a living for the family.  She suffered from deep depression as she continued to try to please her father.  She could never say no to him.  At thirteen she fell in love and this love becomes an obsession that followed her always.  When she finally does marry it is the most unusual and damaging thing that can happen to her.
Throughout her life, her mother and brother are there as stabilizers but it takes a lot to stabilize Pamela’s life and the toll is felt by everyone.  
     We are a part of the early 20th century art world in both New York and Europe.  We meet Eugene O’Neill, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, for awhile a supporter and sponsor of Pamela and   the love of Pamela’s life, Richard (Diccon) Hughes.
     Pamela’s father, her talent, her depression, her obsessive love, her marriage, Pamela is a damaged soul.  This is a sad and truly amazing story of someone lost to our knowledge of cultural history. And if for no other reason this should be enough to read this book.