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Butterfly bushes and baked goods

I took these photos of Painted Lady Butterflies on our butterfly bush a couple of years ago. The butterfly bushes aren’t in bloom quite yet, but…I finally planted the one I have had sitting in a pot by our chimney for as long as I’ve had these photos. I can’t believe it has survived this long in a pot, and I’m hopeful that it will continue to persevere.

We’ve had an overcast day, which is good for transplanting. Here’s hoping it takes off like the one in these photos. This one is enormous, and the butterflies, moths, and bees visit it all summer long.

I have some more gardening to tend to, that I have been putting off doing. I used to garden with a passion, but the hard clay in the North Carolina soil has put me off a bit. I’d love to get my iris beds divided too.

I’m trying to do the things I have been putting off, one at a time, including making progress on all things doll related.

I also made both banana oat muffins and soft pretzels today. Mm…salty pretzel goodness. I had a craving for soft pretzels while at the mall recently. I almost stopped for one, but I kept thinking, “I could just make those!” So, that became one more thing on my to-do list. It was well worth the effort.

While I was out, I also picked up a copy of Quilting Arts new special issue, Stitch, Creating with Fabric & Thread. The pretty pillow on the cover is “Tuesday Pillow” by Malka Dubrawsky. The instructions are included in the magazine.

What really made me purchase the issue though, were the cute stuffed toys, “Pretty Cat, Baby Bear and Mini-Mouse”, by Heidi Boyd. The patterns are in the foldout in the center of the magazine, and the instructions are in the back. They’d make adorable gifts.

I’ve got my own pile of toys to sew and doll dresses to make. So, I probably won’t be trying these out right away. I’m sure I’m more likely to get some new idea before then, to add to my list of things to do, but I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy making them! Enjoy your weekend!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

I thought I’d share my pretty Valentine’s flowers with you.

Please have a cookie and some tea too.

Yesterday, I made Linzer Hearts from the All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking. I used the recipe for Drei Augen and used raspberry preserves, boiled for two minutes and then cooled to lukewarm, for the filling. They are dusted with confectioner’s sugar. I would think many shortbread cookie recipes would work nicely as well.

The Drei Augen dough required ground almonds. I didn’t have a food processor, but I “discovered” that I do have a food mill. It was in the kitchen closet just waiting for the day I would realize how useful it is. I used the large-holed grater plate and then worked my way down to the medium-holed one. Or, that was what I planned to do. The novelty of the food mill attracted a helper.

My dad wanted to “see how it works” and he ended up grinding all my almonds for me. This food mill thing worked out pretty well! I wonder what other gadgets I might have in that closet and what they might encourage others to do for me. Hm.

Enjoy your day!

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Heidi’s dress fitting and blueberry muffins

At first glance, it may appear from this photo that my kitty assistant from my last post has been magically transformed into a doll, but this is not the case. He would never fit in that dress.

This is Heidi, the tabby cat. She is Max and my first collaborative original folk art cat doll. I did the final fitting on her dress today. If you look closely, you will see the pins holding it together here. I sewed all the finishing details by hand. It’s a real challenge sewing little things on a machine. Now I have to get our Siamese’s sweater and skirt set assembled. It’s going to be fun photographing them together.

I also made my blueberry muffins that I had planned to make along with the last batch of muffins I made. These are from the same book, Deborah Madison‘s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. They are made from the Basic Buttermilk Muffins recipe. I added a cup of thawed blueberries and a teaspoon of orange zest. These are so good! I ate too many.

I had them with the orange I used for the orange zest for breakfast. Really good.

And thanks, Eric, for sharing an inspiring site…it’s our cosmos, with a new view of our universe every day. Check out Eric and Melissa’s music too. They’re putting together an LP of their own original songs. Pretty exciting. It’s great to see other people pursuing their dreams too 🙂

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Banana oat muffins and sundry

Just a quick note for those of you waiting to see our new dolls finished…They are still in progress and I will be sure to post a note here and on our Ruffing’s blog when we’ve got them finished and photographed. I was under the weather for a couple of weeks, and I’ve been in slo-mo. They’ll be posted in our doll gallery too. Just so you know you haven’t missed them.

I decided today was going to be muffin day. I’ve been saying I’m going to make muffins while watching my ingredients expire. I was going to go all out and make two kinds today, but I just made these Banana Oat Muffins from Deborah Madison‘s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. I didn’t do her muffin recipe justice last time. So, this time, mid-recipe, when I saw my ingredients were, once again, over-the-hill, I just drove to the store and bought new ones. I found some King Arthur Unbleached White Whole Wheat Flour, which I’d never tried before, and used that. It seemed to give them a lighter taste and a finer texture than when I tried them with regular whole wheat flour. The recipe recommended whole wheat pastry flour, which I haven’t seen. I also used less nutmeg and added a little cinnamon, but only because I don’t go for nutmeg in a big way.

They came out nicely, not so sweet, more like a muffin to have with eggs, or another breakfast food. I keep feeling that there isn’t any reason I’m not making more home-cooked foods, except that I’ve gotten lazy about it. And muffins are easy!

I’ve been trying to add more vegetables to my diet too, and trying to have a mixed plate of vegetables for lunch each day. A friend sent me an interesting video from Mark Bittman on what’s wrong with what we eat. It’s about twenty minutes, but I felt it was worth watching. He talks about how we need to eat less meat, more plants, less fast food, and more home cooking, not only for the sake of our own personal health, but for the sake of our environment. He makes a case for becoming at least a partial vegetarian, but he keeps his focus more on our health and our world, for anyone worried about being upset by watching a video on that subject. Anyway, I’m trying to do better in those areas.

And thanks, Lisa, for giving me the the “Kreativ Blogger” award! Thanks just as much for saying I am an “awesomely fabulous person” You know I like that just as much 😉 Now I need to think of seven things I love and seven artists to pass the award along to. I’ll have to give this some thought…