Nothing’s better than mini pies

This past month has been pretty rough, personally. Things that I can’t really talk about, because it’s not my story to tell. But it’s definitely taken a toll on me. When I get down for too long, usually one of the only things that will bring me back up is baking something delicious. I had decided that it was the time for me to make some mini pies and try my hand at meringue; something that has always intimidated me.

I’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Baking Show and they do meringue quite often. After watching probably one too many episodes, I figured it couldn’t be too hard to do the meringue.

I went to my fail-proof pie crust recipe (essentially the 3-2-1 pattern – never have a problem with it) and whipped up the dough. The crusts look a little rough, but I like the rustic look to them. They were flaky and buttery, just the way I like them.

Cooked mini pie crusts

I’ve never made lemon meringue pie before, much less mini ones. Thankfully I was able to cheat and use lemon pie filling instead of making the filling myself. I’ve used it in my lemon macaroons so I knew it had good flavor.

little crusts being filled

I had read up on making meringue, in that you whip egg whites until frothy and then add sugar a little at a time. Then you whip the crud out of it until stiff peaks form. I added my two egg whites and thought that wasn’t enough so I added a third (rookie mistake). After it was all whipped up and ready to pipe in, I had WAY too much meringue and ended up making meringue cookies with the leftover.

Meringue being whipped up, quite literally

Piping the meringue was a lot easier than I anticipated and it was done fast.

mini lemon pies ready to be torched

My little torch has been begging to be used and I was SO excited to give it a try! Super easy and loads of fun, weirdly enough.

Torching the meringue
mini pies are so yummy
Final product!

When the pies were all done, at last 6 were eaten within the first two minutes of announcing their presence. They were so good that I was informed that I’ll need to make these come Christmas time for my mother-in-law. In the end, the pies did their duty, and I felt much better after baking them (not to mention some much needed good news).

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Making pillows

So, last Sunday while watching NFL Football, I got to looking around my living room and noticed that my throw pillows look old and dated. So, I decided I’d either make new pillows or make covers for the existing ones. I asked Owen about it and he thought covers would be an okay way to go, and possibly cheaper to boot.

Off on to Pinterest I went to check for ideas. I’m still fairly new to the sewing scene so I was looking for a tutorial to get the technique down. I found a few but didn’t make any notes on it so I went shopping mostly blind as to how much I was going to need. I didn’t even measure my existing pillows – another rookie mistake.

I enlisted the help of my friend and fellow crafty neighbor, Jen, and we went off to the store to look for fabric. I like brighter colors and wanted something that would work with our open floor plan and great room together. It was ridiculous. I found a couple of patterns that worked well together, but I couldn’t find a complimentary fabric in the right shade of yellow, so I had to try and find another one that would work instead. Thirty minutes later, the decisions were made, the fabric was cut (or at least as much as I thought I would need) and we were heading out the door.

Once we got home, I laid out the fabric and paired them up so that each pillow would have a different front and back. I gently ironed the fabric so I could get a good measurement and went back to the tutorial to figure it out. Now, I’m very much a planner when it comes to some things, so of course, I went overly cerebral in my planning and nearly made myself insane figuring out the total inches I’d need of each piece as I was making an envelope style pillow cover.

I did my best with squaring up my fabric as Jen had taught me and cut out the pieces for the first cover. It looked good and matched up. One thing I learned while making the quilt top a bit ago, was that pinning your fabric is super important. So I pinned the shit out of the pieces.

Here is one of the finished products. Each one got progressively better than the last and I’m very happy with the overall appearance.

With the pillows, I felt that the closure looked a little bare so I decided to add a little button – for appearance and for function. I also really like the decorative stitch at the top of the flap to add an extra something.

Candor and Accountability

So, gnarly personal history time: I had an eating disorder when I was in high school. Now, I realize that it’s not all that uncommon for a teenaged girl to suffer from them and I know I’m no special occurrence. It went on for roughly 18 months. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment, day or whatever it started, but I just remember being in it.

I wasn’t overweight, to begin with. I was very physically active in my PE classes and am naturally athletic in build. But most, if not all, of my best friends at the time were under 5’6″ with what was at the time the “perfect body.” I was (and still am) 6′, athletic with muscular thighs and barely any chest to speak about. I wanted to be like them. They had the boys’ attention and desire, whereas I had more guy friends than love interests. That, coupled with no ill-intentioned teasing at home, it had an effect on me.

At the very height of it all, I would have a glass of milk for breakfast, two Handi-snacks for lunch (remember those things?!), and as little as I could get away with at dinner. I was also very active in classes and on my local track and field team lifting weights and training. I look back at my driver’s license picture from that time in agast. I was a shell, and you could see it. Yet, I seemed to be happy and doing well in school.

It came crashing to a stop one night when I was hanging out listening to music with my then boyfriend. He confronted me about how little I had eaten lately. It didn’t really even dawn on me that I was doing it. Then I started thinking back and realizing it. The causes were elusive to me, but what was going on was still apparent. And I didn’t want to be like that. So I made a change that day. Ok, I know. I’m an oddity. I always have been. Once I realize something that isn’t working quite right, it’s my sole purpose to fix it. I didn’t talk about it to my parents or family then. (Actually, I told one of my sisters two years into recovery.) I started journaling more and doing more self-reflection. I thought I had it taken care of.

Fast forward to college for my first relapse. The stress of graduating and moving out of my college apartment was taking its toll. Focus, recovery, eventual relapse. That was my cycle. Sometimes relapses wouldn’t happen for years, but there would come a day that the urges would come floating back up to the surface. I have sought out help of professionals and am always upfront about my history with anyone who asks or knows. Thankfully now my husband has heard my story and knows. Even better is his support when I tell him I have the urges. It made me ashamed and humiliated to actually acknowledge that I still think about making myself throw up or starve myself to help “gain” control over my stress and surroundings. To this day it does. But just telling someone about it helps put me back in charge of the urges. Weird, but it works for me.

Now that we have a young daughter, I’m even more hyper-aware of the urges and the thought process behind them so I can spot and avoid them with her. At her ripe and tender age, she comes home from school talking about the appropriate amount of protein and carbs she should be eating (thanks, gym teacher, for having one too many lessons about that…) which prompts a one too many of a kind conversation about healthy eating and moderation. These conversations are necessary, both from the school perspective and from the home front. Too many kids aren’t shown good examples of healthy eating nor do they practice them. I get that. What I hate is my 8-year-old coming home saying she has fat thighs because they jiggle sometimes. I guess this is the fight we all have to fight. And the culture in which we currently live, sadly.

Fast forward to last week. I’ve been working out pretty religiously for the past month thanks to Beachbody on Demand (love their programs) and trying to eat well, but not go overboard. I just do smaller portions because if I count calories, I tend to wade back towards the starving thing which is a no-go. I was scrolling through my Instagram one evening and happened across a friend’s post in which she tagged a lady by the name of Jennifer Rollin, who happens to be a very well known and prominent figure in Eating Disorder recovery. Down the rabbit-hole of Instagram I went, and I came out the other side with an e-book written by Ms. Rollin about Eating Disorder and Depression. After reading through it, I’m seriously wondering how “recovered” I am.

It’s a legitimate question. While I no longer severely limit how much food I’m allowed to eat, or cause myself to throw up, I can be obsessed about eating healthy and making good choices. That might not sound so bad, but when the thought process includes how un-processed a food item is, or how many grams of protein it contains, it can cause problems. Is my drive to be healthier and lose weight causing me to head into familiar territory? Did I simply exchange one version for another?

Are we all mad here?

“Every Adventure requires a first step.” – Cheshire Cat

Once upon a time, I was a National Park Ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park. During my time there (6 summers) and before, I spent a lot of time hiking the trails including sections of the Wonderland Trail. I’ve always wanted to do the entire Wonderland Trail, which is a 93-mile circle around the Mountain.

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Lately, I’ve hit the hiking bug again and really enjoying being outside. So I started researching the Wonderland and fell in love all over again. The pictures, the stories, all of the things that attracted me in the first place. All in all, I should be able to complete it in roughly 10 days. I’m comfortable to do it by myself or with someone (whom I’ve already got lined up). All things are a go!

Fly in the ointment: 70% of all the backcountry permits issued for the Trail are done by a lottery. You have two weeks to submit your application, and then after the two weeks, the rangers start processing them, at random. Then six weeks later you’ll be notified if you got one or not. But there is still hope; you can arrive 1-2 days before you want to head out on the trail and hope to get one of the 30% first come permits.

So, I guess now I have to start prepping myself for the hike and hope like hell that I get a permit!

New stitch, new headaches

I love to crochet. Ever since my grandma taught me when I was about 7/8 years old, I’ve loved creating things. Back when I was little, I would make dresses for dolls and blankets for my Barbies. Now I make blankets for humans of various sizes, scarves, and sweaters, just to name a few.

In looking for new projects, I have come across the puff stitch and really like how it looks when it’s done. I decided I would try to make something with that stitch.

I headed to JoAnn’s to get some yarn for a different project and had my trusty crafty friend, Jen, with me. I saw a very pretty golden mustard color and decided I needed it in my life. Jen liked it too, so it was agreed upon that I’d make her a cowl scarf with the yarn.

Once you get the initial count and technique down, it goes VERY quickly. The real struggle is not doing your yarn over loops too tight on your hook otherwise you can’t get it drawn through.

It cowl worked very quickly and had it finished within a few hours. When I had finished crocheting, the cowl just looked a little plain. I dug through my buttons and found some cute wooden 1″ buttons to add a little something extra.

Cowl all finished and ready to go to its new home. I loved the finished product and can’t wait to do it again!

* I’ll work up the pattern for the scarf. I just can’t remember it off the top of my head right now. Sorry!

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