Thursday, February 28, 2013

Homemade Cherry Pie

Homemade cherry pie from homegrown pie cherries!
Ok, I know this isn't a cake. And it wasn't my week to make the cake-of-the-week either. But it was my hubby's birthday and I suspect the main reason he married me is because I'm a pie cherry tree heiress and have been picking pie cherries and making cherry pies since I was a teen. Could you deduce that cherry pie is his favorite?

So what's the deal with pie cherries anyway? Can't you just save a ton of work and used canned filling? Well, yes, I suppose YOU could. But not me! I love tart pie cherries and nothing else will do for cherry pie. The stuff in the can may be convenient but...

Cherry pie making secret weapon

Anyway, each year we pick, pit and freeze pie cherries on cookie sheets and then put them in zip top bags. When it comes time to make a pie, I have a secret weapon I'd like to share. It's my blow dryer. I pour the frozen cherries into a big colander inside a big bowl and 'toss' them with a wooden spoon while thawing them with my blow dryer turned on high. That way, I get the cherries thawed and ready to cook into filling without them turning brown. And I also get the juice needed for future pies drained out of the colander into the bowl, ready to freeze in ice cube trays. How clever am I?

Tried and true cherry pie recipe

Even though it's not a cake and it's not my week, I'll share my Cherry Pie recipe. (Think of it as a bonus!)

·         1½ c sugar
·         ¼ t salt
·         ¼ c cherry juice
·         4 c pie cherries
·         1T butter
·         ¼ c corn starch
·         ¼ cup cherry juice (yes, a second ¼ cup)

1.      Combine sugar, salt and ¼ cup cherry juice and cook to a rolling boil.
2.      Add cherries and butter. Bring back to a boil (this may take a while) and cook 2 minutes.
3.      Stir together corn starch and ¼ cup cherry juice to make a smooth paste and add to boiling cherry mixture. Cook until thick, stirring constantly (this may happen almost immediately.
4.      Let cool while you make the pie crust.
5.      Bake 30 minutes at 425 degrees F.

As for our rating, I don't even have to do a poll. I can tell you with absolute certainty that this delicious homemade cherry pie rates right around 15 on a scale of 1-10. Seriously - 15

Monday, February 25, 2013

February Christmas Prep Report - Storage Snafu

I finally have all my Dec-Jan Christmas Prep purchases here at home - yay! But add all those to the things I've been making and I have a huge storage problem. I wrote about storing and tracking gifts before I had many gifts to store...but now I'm really being put to the test!

Here's a peek at what I just brought home:

Here's what I'd dedicated for gift storage:

Oops. Beings it's only Feb and I'm not even close to done with this project, I guess I'd better be finding more gift-storage space!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pear Breakfast Cake

Pear Breakfast Cake
Am I on a cake-for-breakfast roll or what? And I don’t even eat sweet stuff for breakfast. But we had some sliced pears in the freezer and I found a recipe for Pear Walnut Ginger Bread in the most excellent Fresh Fruit Quick Breads by Joyce Middleton so…

As with the Cinnamon Raisin Coffee Cake, I used the recipe as inspiration only. In fact, I really changed this one! For starters, I didn’t include ginger… or walnuts… It was a big hit, though, so my modifications must have worked.


  • 1½ c flour
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t cinnamon
  • ¼ t allspice
  • ¼ c oil (but you can use applesauce, if you want)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ t vanilla
  • ¾ c pear juice
  • 1½ c sliced pears



  1. Combine the dry ingredients, preferably with a whisk but a fork will work, too.
  2. Combine the wet ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients just until mixed.
  3. Stir the pears slices into the batter and pour into a greased loaf pan.
  4. Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Beings I only used half the pears I thawed out, I guess the guys will be getting this again real soon. But I doubt I’ll hear any complaints. And as with most of my cake-a-week efforts thus far, this one rated a 7.5, the difference being that it was a solid 7.5 – no averaging numbers to get the rating this time!

Monday, February 18, 2013

What Are You Attracting into Your Life?

"Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life."

~ Christiane Northrup    

Friday, February 15, 2013

Have You Shared Any Happiness Today?

"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared."
~ Buddha             

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are You Preparing for Christmas Yet?

I know, I know - it's mid-February and Christmas is still over 10 months away. But I'm dedicated to being ready by the end of October so...

Now remember, when I say Christmas, what I really mean is all the birthdays throughout the year and Mother's Day and Father's Day, as well. To that end, I've been ordering stuff since mid-December - mostly small stuff that will make nice but inexpensive gifts. Like last time I posted about this, I still haven't seen what I've ordered but I plan to make a trip to town this week so can take an inventory (and maybe even get it all home!).

Potholder sets = future gifts!
What I do know is that this will be the year of the kitchen spruce-up for many on my list. I've noticed how awful the dishtowels and potholders are most everywhere I visit so I'm going to do something about it. I started by ordering a bunch of nice on-sale dishtowels from Kohl's. Then I got into practicing free motion quilting, which quickly morphed into potholders. Of course, I can't stand to waste anything so I even made potholders from the potholder scraps.

This whole potholder project has really helped me with Project DO, as well. I finally found a use for all the batting scraps I've been saving. Most are in narrow strips but I basted those together (more free motion practice - yay!) and I even used up several binding and thread remnants left from previous quilt projects. Cleaning/decluttering AND making gifts - can't get much better than that!

So... Are YOU preparing for Christmas yet?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cinnamon-Raisin Coffee Cake

Delicious cinnamon-raisin coffee cake - yum!
The idea for this cake came from Coffee Cakes - Pound Cakes and Dessert Cakes by June Kessler (not sure why the title at Amazon doesn't match the book cover) but my modifications make it very different, I’m sure.

First off, the directions in the book clearly say to mix flour into the topping but there is no flour listed in the topping ingredients, so I left it out. Afterward, I realized that it should have been there to make the topping crumbly but my adaptation got an average score of 8.75 from my two raters so I think I may have improved it.
My other changes include reducing the sugar and cinnamon, substituting baking soda and cream of tartar for baking powder (we’re out), and using sugared raisins I harvested from raisin bran cereal (hence the sugar reduction). Then I opted to spread all the batter into the pan and put the topping on top. (Hmm. Isn’t that where topping is supposed to go?) The original recipe has you layer the topping with the batter but that was just too convoluted for me!


·         1½ cups all-purpose flour
·         1½ t baking soda
·         1½ t cream of tartar
·         ½ t salt
·         ½ c sugar
·         ¼ c shortening
·         1 large egg, lightly beaten (I actually used 2 T powdered egg and added 4 T more milk to compensate)
·         ½ c milk
·         1 t vanilla extract
·         ½ c packed brown sugar
·         1 T ground cinnamon
·         ½ c raisins
·         2 T butter, melted  


1.       Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and sugar.
2.       Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until blended.
3.       Combine egg, milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture. Stir until just blended and set aside.
4.       Stir brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins into melted butter.
5.       Spread batter in greased 9-inch round pan. Dot top with raisin mixture and slightly swirl into batter with a knife.
6.       Bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.

As with the other early morning cake, I didn’t take part in rating. I did have a piece after it was completely cool, however, and all I can say is WOW! Making syrup instead of a crumble for the topping really worked well. The only way I think this one could be improved is if I doubled the topping portion! Maybe next time…

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cheap Bifocal Computer Glasses

Aren't they pretty?
My computer bifocal glasses arrived a couple of weeks ago and I'm finally used to them so thought I'd share. They're non-prescription and (obviously) two different strengths - the bifocal part is for reading and the upper part has been adjusted for computer use. I'm a little confused about exactly what strength the upper part is because I've run into conflicting info. First I read that it was 1/2 the strength of the bifocal, which I think is the case. But then I read on another site that it is 1/2 diopter less, which would make the upper part of mine 2.5, which I don't believe that it is.

Anyway, if you're like me and all you need is two different strengths and you don't need stronger than +3 for reading, you can buy bifocals online for cheap. I bought two pairs for around $25 each and am happy with both. The reason I bought two pairs is that I wasn't positive which strength would work and you don't get free shipping unless your order totals at least $30. Also, I had two very different purposes for these glasses. Still yet, I basically guessed what I need and am happy to report that I seem to have guessed right.

Downside of non-prescription computer bifocals

I've found two downsides I'd like to caution about. First, they took some getting used to because I've never worn bifocals before. Secondly, they aren't the exact right strength for all lighting conditions - when I have bright natural light, they're a little strong. But they do allow me to use the computer and read small print, like when typing in ISBNs or paying bills where I need to refer to printed matter while online. So the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. And I'm used to them now so no biggie.

Why order two?

So why did I order two different strengths? Well, because I need one for computer use and the other for shopping. That's right - shopping. You see, store aisles are no longer wide enough for me to get far enough back from the shelves to clearly see what's there. And now that I need stronger glasses to read small print, the ones I carry in my purse have to be that strength. But perusing a shelf with the extra magnification is next to impossible. There I am, bent over peering closely as I move from left to right just to see the available choices of whatever it is I'm trying to buy. Not good.

With my new computer-turned-shopping glasses, I can look through the top to get the big picture and then through the bottom is I need details. And I can look over the tops to see distance (nothing wrong with that part of my vision!). So it's almost like trifocals, right?

Why go with non-prescription glasses?

There's two reasons I haven't gone the prescription glasses route. First, when I had my vision tested specifically so that I could finally get real glasses, the doctor told me if what I'm doing works, just keep doing it. I don't need any special correction - just magnification. There may come a time for real glasses but I'm not there yet.

Secondly, I like different strengths for different tasks and have several pairs at the ready in the strengths I need. For instance, hand sewing requires more magnification than machine sewing. If I settled for prescription glasses, I'd be limited to whatever strength I tested as needing, which I discovered is considerably less than what I want for some tasks.

So there you have it - my experience with non-prescription bifocal computer glasses. If you want to check them out for yourself, I get mine at (no affiliation, just a satisfied customer). I've bought several pairs of glasses and sunglasses there and recommend the site - the selection is great, price is right, they're fast, and shipping is free on orders over $30. What more could you want?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Combining Projects for a Quadruple Win!

I'm upgrading my kitchen with new potholders, too.

Do you realize the year is almost one-tenth over? That’s right – one-tenth. Beings there’s 365 days this year and January had 31 of them, by the time noon rolls around on February 5th, we will officially be one-tenth through the year. 

So, what have I accomplished? Am I making progress on any goals at all? YES!!! And I’ll tell you how…

Combining projects takes multi-tasking to a whole new level
Two of my three main goals for 2013 are decluttering/organizing throughout the year and being completely ready for Christmas by the end of October. Also, for February, I joined a challenge to commit to quilt 20 minutes each day.
Coincidentally, I had also just signed up for two free motion quilting classes through Craftsy so I decided to spend my quilting time practicing free motion. Well, it seemed a waste to stitch such pretty designs and then throw them away so... I started making potholders.
Beings I already had denim rounds (recycled from jeans) cut years ago in anticipation of a potholder project, all I had to do was layer those with batting (I have plenty of scrap pieces) and backing (again, plenty of scrap pieces) and quilt away! Then I realized they’d make great gifts, so I’m making progress on 2013 Christmas Prep, too! And to top it off, I already had several remnants of bias binding left over from past quilts so I’m really decluttering my sewing room!

Made completely from leftovers from other projects!

That’s what I call a quadruple win! With this one enjoyable activity, I am:
  • Meeting my 20 minute per day quilting challenge (ok – I’m way exceeding 20 minutes but it sure is fun!)
  •     Vastly improving my free-motion quilting skill (and thanks to Leah Day's Craftsy class, I may even become a free-motion rock star!)
  • Decluttering my sewing room (we're talking leftover fabric, batting, thread and bindings!)
  • Making nice gifts that are useful, too (seriously, who couldn’t use new potholders?)

I'm going to be on the lookout for more way to combine projects. Whether I'll hit upon any more quadruple wins remains to be seen but I think it'll be pretty easy to hit on some double and triple wins. And now that I think about it, this one might actually be a quintuple win beings it was also fun...

So, how can you combine projects to meet your 2013 goals?