Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Great Recipe and the BEST Way to Clean a Crockpot

Last night for dinner I made the most amazing dish:

It was amazing, the kids loved it, DH and I loved it, it was pretty easy to make and will definitely go on my "make again" list. Unfortunately, the sugar glaze also left a baked on sticky mess in my crock pot. Yuck. I didn't even know where to start and thought I'd tackle it in the morning, but in a sudden stroke of genius I filled the pot with water, added some dish soap, and plugged it in on high overnight. This morning with a simple swirl of the dish brush it all came off in seconds. From now on all my baked on crock pot messes will cook overnight!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Aunt Hattie's Apple Cake

I'm actually not sure whether Aunt Hattie was an actual relative or just a name from an old cookbook. What I am sure of is that my grandmother made this cake my whole life and it was one of the recipes that I made sure to copy from her when I was starting my own recipe box! Every time I eat a piece of this cake it takes me right back to her kitchen table. With all the apples we picked, I figured it was the perfect time to make one!

Aunt Hattie's Apple Cake

2 pounds of peeled and sliced apples
1/3 c. sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Mix together and set aside


1/2 c. butter
1 2/3 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. orange juice (which I never seem to have on hand when I make this cake. Apple juice or apple cider both work equally well.)

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each is added. Sift flour and baking powder together; add alternately to batter with orange juice. (Or just dump. That's what I do.) Mix until blended.

Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan and spread pan with half of the cake batter. Add layer of the apple filling and cover with remaining batter. Bake at 350 degrees (325 for glass pan) for 1 hour. Should be brown and firm to the touch when done. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Family Fun Day!

I know I will not win any awards for blogging this week, and for that I apologize! DH actually had an entire weekend off this past weekend, so we spent the entire weekend on the go with family funness. (Is that a word?) Saturday we went to the zoo in Columbia, and today we went to Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock NC. Absolutely amazing place! We were literally on top of a mountain to pick apples and even though it was overcast it was breathtaking. Here is a small taste of the view we enjoyed:
The trees were filled with lots of apples, the kids decided they wanted to pick Fuji and I was all too happy to oblige. YUM!
Wandering through the orchard finding the best trees to pick from took a lot of time but was worth the effort!
There were playgrounds to play on, apple cider, and picnic areas, but the best of all were these:
Hot apple cider donuts. Oh my goodness they were magical. They literally took them from the fryer, tossed them in sugar and cinnamon, and put them in packaging for me. (I did not not eat three...)

I have a feeling that this place will be an annual tradition from now on for our family, and we look forward to another trip up that way in a few weeks when we hit peak foliage to visit Chimney Rock State Park. Tomorrow, apple recipes...

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Where were you? Taken out of context, that question could mean anything. Asked today however, everyone knows exactly what is being asked without having to clarify. Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has memories of that day that will not fade with the passage of time.

I was late that morning. About a month earlier I had started a new job at Crate and Barrel in Manhasset on Long Island, New York as a department manager. On September 10th, 2011, I remarked that I hated getting stuck in traffic on the way to work in the mornings, so a coworker showed me a shortcut home. The next morning at 8:30, I got in my car and headed off to work, trying to recreate the shortcut backwards. I missed a turn somewhere and turned off the radio around 8:45 so that I could concentrate on getting to work. At 9:02 I clocked in and scrambled to the sales floor for morning stocking. I arrived breathless, ready to start my day when I realized that the mood at work was markedly different from what it usually was. A minute later as I stood helping stock the black and green dinnerware, my co-worker, Jackie, told me that two planes had hit the trade towers. Immediately I remember thinking, "What a shame! And what are the odds, two planes hitting both towers?" I remembered that a plane had hit the Empire State Building at one point in time, and after all that had been an accident. Like so many others, I couldn't fathom that this had been anything other than an accident. Tragically, it quickly became all too clear that this was no accident, that we were under attack.

I remember that day being so surreal, my boss soon brought radios to the registers because otherwise every one of us would have been in the stock rooms, listening to the news. Not that it would have mattered, no one was buying anything anyway.
I remember tears coming to my eyes upon hearing that the south tower had fallen as I stood by the freight elevator.
I remember the woman who came in to make a return apologizing, but telling us that she had it in her car and she just didn't know what else to do with herself. She didn't want to be alone.
I remember my husband coming in to the store, and even though I knew he hadn't been in danger seeing him brought an enormous sense of relief to me as he enveloped me in his arms and held tight.
I remember that my boss pulled us all together around noon and told us that we were closing the store, but that we had to unload our usual Tuesday truck before we could leave, as the driver couldn't leave with a full truck. Normally, it took 8-9 hours to finish such a feat. We finished in just over an hour.
I remember our boss stopping everyone at the door to make sure that everyone had a place to go or a ride, since several of our co-workers took the bus to and from home. With all mass transit shut down, she didn't want anyone to be stuck.
I remember how eerie it was to have the store darkened in the middle of the afternoon on such a beautiful day.
I remember the miles of cars parked on the road, since the bridges and tunnels in and out of the city were closed and any traffic heading towards Queens was at a standstill.
I remember coming home and driving past Manhasset Bay, where on a clear day you could see the towers. That day, I could see the plumes of smoke rising from where the buildings once stood.
I remember the phone ringing off the hook when I got home, all our friends and family calling to make sure we were ok.
I remember making sure that both of my uncles, who lived in Manhattan at the time, were home and unhurt.
I remember the relief when I heard their voices.
I remember getting in the car to go find somewhere to donate blood. Traffic was at a standstill and in three hours we turned around and headed home again, having made it less than a mile.
I remember being glued to the TV, even though it was the same 20 minutes of footage we weren't able to turn it off.
I remember hanging a flag beach towel in our window. We didn't have an actual flag, this was the best we could do.
I remember the unclaimed cars at the train station.
I remember my heart aching for those I had never met, for such tremendous loss in such a short time. It still aches today.
I remember. I will never forget.

Today is not a day for recipes or craft projects. Today is a day to remember those who died, to hug our children and take the time to cuddle before bedtime. Today is a day to appreciate life and to remember not to take anything for granted because it could all be gone in an instant. Today is a gift, not to be wasted. God Bless those who were lost, and God Bless those who lived to remember.

Friday, September 9, 2011

An Outfit for a Special Girl!

Just thought I'd give you a peek at an outfit that I finished yesterday for a very special birthday girl! I had purchased all this fabric a few weeks ago to make this skirt, added a monogram to a plain white tee from Target, and finished it off with a little headband to match. I even had enough fabric left over to make a matching skirt for Mistress. I love the way it turned out, hopefully Miss E will feel the same!

A Cradle For Baby

For over a year now, Mistress has been the proud owner of a doll cradle. An adorable doll cradle from Pottery Barn Kids that has sat without bedding in the corner where it was not soft enough (her words) for the babies to sleep in. So, the babies slept in the cradle that Uncle built for her and the white one was just a storage unit for the unlucky babies who were piled up when Mommy wanted the room clean. Yesterday Mistress told me that she needed more beds because the babies needed to spread out and sleep, so I finally got around to a 20 minute project that should have been finished a year ago.
I started with some flannel from my stash, (because don't forget I'm not buying anything this month) and a tiny little baby blanket that she got when she was born.
Then with two rectangles of flannel, three layers of leftover batting, and 20 minutes, I made a small mattress for the bottom of the cradle. Now Mistress's babies can sleep in total comfort and I have one more project finished up!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Tonight I went with General Tso's Chicken Sliders and my favorite recipe for Apple Crisp. I know, they don't really go together, but I had a bag of apples in the fridge that needed to be used up and figured I'd be daring.

First, the sliders...
Amazing. They were SO good, and ALL of the kids liked them. Both boys ate 1 1/2 sandwiches each which in itself is miraculous. I did make a couple of changes though, first off I couldn't find the brand of sauce that the recipe called for so I used Iron Chef's brand of sauce. I also omitted the red pepper on purpose (the kids don't really like spicy all that well) and the garlic by accident. I wouldn't have changed a thing though! We will definitely put this recipe in the keep pile! I added to some fresh fruit we had a great dinner.
Next, the Apple Crisp...
This is my favorite recipe for apple crisp. It is really delicious and easy, although I do cut the white sugar in half and omit the water. I find that the apples are juicy enough without it. I also add a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the topping. Top with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!
See you tomorrow with some new stashbusting projects!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Pleated Headband

Continuing from yesterday, I decided to make a hair accessory to go with the skirt I made for Mistress. This one is EASY PEASY, and really doesn't involve much sewing at all. I found this tutorial for a pleated headband and was dying to try it! The only thing I did differently was to use regular old elastic for the headband part since 1. I only had one elastic headband in my possession and I use for running so I wasn't about to give it up, and 2. I'm not allowed to buy anything since it's Stashbusting September and our budget freeze month! I just measured her head, stitched the loop closed, and made sure the seam was under the felt.

Pulling from my stash, elastic, buttons, and leftover fabric from yesterday.
How cute is this little head? The headband just makes it cuter!
Just like her Mama, she loves photography! Say cheese!

Friday, September 2, 2011

My First Stashbusting September Project!

Here it is, September 2nd, and I have completed THREE projects in one day! I rewarded myself with a piece of pie. :) Two of the projects didn't really warrant a place on the blog, but just to fill you in on my productivity I finally stitched on ALL of the patches that the kids have collected from Build and Grow at Lowes. (6 months worth. Multiply that by three kids and you get an idea of how many I had to do.) I also finished Mistress's ballet shoe tote bag. Two projects that had been sitting in the procrastination pile done. Then I pulled out some of the stuff in my stash to do this project...a skirt for Mistress!

I have made this skirt before, the Market Skirt from Made. Today though, I pulled from TWO stashes, mine and my mom's! (Check out the picture, when was the last time you saw a package of bias tape for under $1?)
Several months ago when we were visiting my parents, I was in my mom's sewing room and came across several packages of bias tape from when I was a little girl. I commented that they were actually so old that they were cool again, so my mom told me to take them. Score! So I started with some red seersucker stripe and some leftover white broadcloth, added the bias tape and voila! Here is the end result! I'm planning to pair it with a white tank while it's still hot out and when it gets colder I can easily change the tank to a short or long sleeved t-shirt with or without a lightweight cardigan to keep her warm. Maybe tomorrow I can try out fabric rosettes, I've been wanting to take a stab at them for a while I think a headband to match this skirt would send her off the cuteness charts!