Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mercy Goodehart, some pie pops and (of course) some cats

It's hard to believe the year is so quickly coming to an end -- I have dived in deep into designing, and spent a good part of this week working on a new sampler to start stitching soon (as soon as my Christmas gifts are done...I'm getting there.)  My friends Kathy and Jennifer are working on things for me, and I for them, but I'm going to have to share those projects AFTER Christmas...because they read this blog. (You're just going to have to wait, ladies!)

Mercy Goodehart design by Shakespeare's Peddler (to be stitched/released in 2014)
This will be my first big design of the new year -- I've pulled the threads and fabric, and I'm actually super-excited to start stitching on this one myself.  I've worked a lot of little secret elements into this sampler, which will come with a bit of a backstory for Mercy (she's fictitious.)  I designed the border to be more fun to stitch than the same old flower repeated again and again.  There may be some tweaking to do yet, but so far, I'm really proud of it.

Possible color palette for Mercy Goodehart
This is my color palette so far ... I will probably add an over-dyed silk or two.  I like to use at least one over-dyed (variegated) thread, because it makes the sampler look more like the real thing.  My old samplers have some neat color variations.  Too much, though, and it gets overwhelming.  I'll release an actual thread/fabric list once the design is getting ready to print.  This one will take a while, as it's big, so be patient with me.  The working title is "Mercy Goodehart."

Sampler Stocking by Carriage House Samplings
I've also been busy updating my Etsy site: Letters Great and Small.  This week, I uploaded yards, and yards of Lakeside Linens in different counts and colors, as well as a bunch of Christmas-themed charts (including a sampler stocking by Carriage House Samplings, above.)  I've got almost 300 items up already, and many, many more to go.

We had some sad news this fall -- Giblet, a cat we adopted three years ago after Thanksgiving, has been missing for some time.  She was a quirky cat -- not very nice, actually, but we loved her just the same.  We had her in and out of the vet to see if she was sick (and thus, crabby), but she was healthy.  He recommended we allow her to go inside and outside, and while that helped, she was never really one you could pick up or pet with any reliability; in fact, one year for my birthday she gave me a black eye by punching me in the face with her paw.  About four or five weeks ago, I let her out when she asked, and she has never returned.  I do wish there was more I could have done for her.  We provided her love, comfort, food, and care while we had her, and we do miss her.

Ty, the amazing, crinkly-furred, wonder cat.
In the meantime, we fell in love with one of our foster kittens.  His name is Ty, and he was brought to the shelter one afternoon by a gentleman who found him next to a dumpster by a tire shop (and so, the name "Ty.")  This man had Ty fixed and got him all of his shots, then surrendered him to me at the front counter of the shelter.  He had the most unusual fur -- kinky, curly, frizzy, and kind of a mess.  He hung out at the shelter waiting for adoption for a number of weeks.

One afternoon, I came across Ty in the euthanasia room.  He had developed ringworm (a skin fungus) right up against his eye and was slated to be put down.  I had to try to save him -- he is such a nice cat, and that generous man had put so much love and effort into him already.  After careful applications of a topical ringworm treatment (with Q-Tips and a steady hand), we were able to beat the ringworm.

But of course, by then, we had fallen in love with him.  He sleeps a lot -- he's growing (you can see he's got big feet already.)  But he is gentle, affectionate, social, and has a tail that makes me laugh (it is shaggy, very long, and looks like something you might pull out of a clogged drain.)

We think he's going to be big -- would you look at those ears and feet!
He gets along with all of our other cats, universally, and although I'd love to call him Oliver (he looks like an orphan boy -- he's got very big gold-green eyes), the name has kind of stuck.

Lolly is now available for adoption at Southern Pines Animal Shelter
Lolly went back to the shelter for adoption this week.  The poor dear was terrified to be leaving home.  I have no worries that she will find a good home.  I know not all of you keep up with my Facebook page, but little Shoe passed away a week after we got her.  I think she had been out in 40 degree temperatures by herself for too long by the time she came to the shelter, so she went downhill very quickly.  More sadness, but she did have our love and affection, if even just for seven days.

Steve attended a communication department Christmas party last weekend.  We were supposed to bring something to share, and I had seen online a few places where pie pops are the latest thing.  I picked up some long lollipop sticks at the craft store, pulled out my faithful piecrust recipe, used some blueberries I had in the freezer, and oh man, were they good!  My recipe and directions follow:

Pie crust circles waiting to become pie pops
Theresa's Magic Pie Crust:
(this will yield about 24 pie pops)
1 cup unsalted butter (COLD!)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Ice water

In your stand mixer, start by mixing together the butter, flour and salt.  As soon as the butter chunks are about the size of marbles, start drizzling in the ice water while the mixer is going.  (You want everything to be as cold as possible.)  Drizzle water until the dough just comes together, then STOP!!!!  Do not over-mix.  Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Homemade blueberry pie filling.  This made the house smell amazing.
Blueberry Pie Filling (yes, you can cheat and use store-bought)
4 cups frozen blueberries
3/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed into 3 Tbsp. water
1/2+ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter

Simmer blueberries on medium heat with sugar (and a splash of water, if you feel like you need it) until it's all bubbly.  Stir in the cornstarch mixture (while still simmering), and stir until the mixture thickens.  Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and butter.  This will make a nice healthy portion of the filling -- you could use the rest as a pancake or waffle topping, or make a smaller pie, depending on how much you use.  Pull off the stove and let cool.

Roll out your pie crust, then cut circles using an over-turned juice glass (or, if you're well-stocked, a round cookie cutter).  Lay out one layer of rounds on a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper (to prevent sticking).  Press a lollipop stick into each round (about half-way up), then spoon about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each round.  Cut a small ventilation hole in the un-used rounds (I made V's) to prevent explosion (this is crucial...don't skip it.)  Gently lay on top of each filling-topped round, then press down tightly with your fingers all of the way around, making sure to really get that area around the stick.

Sprinkle each little pie with sugar, then bake in a 350 degree oven, until the tops of the pies start to turn golden.  These get pretty puffy and flakey.  But don't worry, the puffiness will go down as they cool.

When they're done, allow to cool, and as they do, push the lollipop stick up into each little pie as far as it will go.  They will seem really loose at first, but the sticks will become more stable as the pies cool.  I arranged them on a big platter, but I would love to find another way to display them a little more artfully.

Pie Pops ready to go feed the minglers at a Christmas party.
The partiers didn't seem to care, because they were eaten lickety-split.  In fact, one graduate student I didn't really know marched into the kitchen where I was standing with my husband just to say: "Those pies...that's the best thing I've put in my mouth all day."  Then she left.  The beauty is you can use other kinds of fruit/filling -- peach, apple, cherry, raspberry.  I think they'd even be good with a savory filling like sausage, onion, rice, mushrooms...you get the idea (just skip the sugar sprinkles on the top).

I hope you are enjoying your December so far.  Next to October, it's one of my favorite months, and I am feeling very happy (although a little behind in my preparations.)

Best to you and yours!



Elizabeth said...

Those pie pops look amazing and I'm really excited about the new pattern! I'm so behind in stitching, though - I definitely hope to devote more time to it in 2014 :) Hope you have a Merry Christmas!

Carole said...

Love the new sampler!

Unknown said...

I love the new sampler!!! It's so me and the verse is something that has been playing on my mind for the last few weeks. I must get this when I can. It's fabulous!

Vonna Pfeiffer said...

Being a cat lover and owner myself, it hurts me to read of the misfortune of any cat, but to know the love and care you put into the misfortunate in your part of the world is comforting. Bless you!
Those pie pops look pretty tempting!

marly said...

Amazing sampler design! Sorry about the kitties. Mr. Ty seems to have hair like me. Thanks for the recipe. I stick pops into a styrofoam block to stand.

Katken said...

I haven't stitched a large sampler in a very long time, but that will change when Mercy Goodehart comes to life! I really like the variation in the border & the buildings! Also sent my RSVP to the No Show Ball......soooo clever!

Jen said...

OMG! Those pie pops look good! By the way, I am almost finished with the yummy dip you left at my house. Thanks!

Delania said...

You have a big heart and I love reading your posts on the kitties. I am very excited about the new sampler - I will definitely be adding this one to my stash!

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