• 28Oct

    I’ve known for a long time that I wanted a “kitchen sofa” for the Swedish house, and I’ve been looking for one every time I’m in Sweden.  I’ve seen a lot of these wooden sofas, but I had a very specific style in mind.  Shortly before we left last summer, Torsten called one afternoon to say he was on a service call and the customer had a sofa for sale–a sofa he was sure I would like.  And he was right!

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    It was in an out building at an old farmstead, and Bob and I took the trailer over and picked it up.  I love the shape of the back, the rolled arms and, best of all, the faux finish.  A lot of antique Swedish furniture is painted with a style meant to imitate a more expensive wood.

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    Oh, and the front pulls out so it can be used as a bed!  This sofa is missing it’s seat, but that will be an easy fix.  A wooden seat and a nice cushion and it will be good to go!

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    I had the bright idea that I might make a quilt that could be used to cover the cushion.  I don’t do a lot of quilting with turn-of-the-century fabrics, but their earth colors seemed perfect for this sofa.  Then I decided a postage stamp quilt would be “fun.”  So, I set about cutting a lot of little squares and sewing them together.

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    I wanted the design to be on-point…

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    …so I had to construct the quilt diagonally.

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    That requires a lot of thinking!  Finally, I had the top pieced.  4224 pieces, but who’s counting!

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    But I had a lot of squares left, so I decided I could use some of them for the “label.”

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    So, just five hundred and some more squares and I had a label.

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    I sewed it into the back of the quilt.

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    I wasn’t sure how to quilt it.  In the end, I chose a Baptist fan design.

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    You can see it a little better from the back.

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    I’ve decided it will just be a sofa quilt, not a cushion over.  I have something else in mind for that!

    A little footnote.  Last week, the farmhouse and the outbuilding where we got the kitchen sofa burned to the ground in a horrible fire.  I’m so glad the sofa is with us.

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  • 26Oct

    “Sju sorter kakor” – that’s Swedish for “seven kinds of cookies.”  Seven kinds of cookies is a centuries old tradition in Sweden.  Any hostess worth her salt always offers her guests seven kinds of cookies.

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    Now I love to make cookies, but it’s a lot of work to make seven different batches of cookie dough.  Last Christmas when I was in cookie making mode, I noticed how similar all the cookie doughs were for the different cookies I was making.  I wondered if I could make one big batch of dough and turn it into seven different kinds of cookies.  The hardest part was narrowing my list down to just seven!  Once I’d decided on the seven cookies I would do, I mixed up the dough and began the experiment.  I ended up with over 13 dozen delicious cookies. Here ere are the results.

    Basic Cookie Dough

    1 lb butter at room temperature

    1 cup sugar

    2 eggs

    1 tsp vanilla

    1 tsp salt

    5 – 5 1/2 cups flour

    In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla and salt and beat until incorporated.  Slowly add flour until you have a soft dough.  It’s better to have it a little soft, to make it easier to incorporate the additional ingredients.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times until smooth.  Form into a large log 10 1/2″ long.

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    Make a mark along the top every1 1/2″.

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    Cut the dough into seven pieces and set on a lightly floured Silpat or piece of parchment paper.

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    Now it’s time to add additional ingredients to the dough or shape it for seven different kinds of cookies!  As you’re working with the different doughs, you might want to add more flour if you think it’s too soft—but not too much.  The dough will firm up in the fridge.  I labeled my doughs after I wrapped them so I didn’t get confused later.

    1. Raspberry Caves – To one piece of dough add 2 tablespoons fresh orange zest.  This adds additional moisture to the dough, so work in 2 – 3 tablespoons of flour until dough feels smooth.  Form into a ball, press to flatten a bit, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    2. Cranberry Orange Squares – To one piece of dough add 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest, 1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries and 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans.  Hint: Add a tablespoon of flour to the dried cranberries to keep them from sticking to the knife when choppin.  Add additional flour to the dough if necessary.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    3. Coconut Walnut Crescents – To one piece of dough add 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup finally chopped coconut.  Form into a ball, press to flatten a bit, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    4. Pistachio Almond Cookies – To one piece of dough add 1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.  Form dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    5. Chocolate Mint Thins – Divide one piece of dough in half.  To the first half add 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.  Once cocoa powder is incorporated, roll dough into a log 6″ long.  To the second half add 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract and 2 – 3 drops of green food coloring.  Form into a log 6″ long.  Wrap the two logs around each other and roll a bit more until the log is about 8″ long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    6. Sanded Shortbread Coins – Roll one piece of dough into a log 6″ long.  Roll in 2 tablespoons of sanding or colored sugar.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    7. Lingonberry Logs – Shape the last piece of dough into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

    At this point you can start making your cookies or leave the dough(s) in the refrigerator for up to three days.

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    When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  All the cookies will be baked at this temperature.  I use Silpats on my cookie sheets.  If you don’t have Silpats, use parchment paper.

    Raspberry Caves – This is one of my favorite Swedish cookies.  If you want to make a big batch of just these, I’ve blogged about it before.  You can find the recipe here.  Divide the dough into 18 pieces.  Roll each piece into a ball and place into a small fluted paper.  Brush the top of each cookie with a little cream.  Sprinkle with pearl sugar.  With the end of a wooden spoon make a hole in each ball.  Put a small amount of seedless raspberry jam in each indentation.  Bake for 15 minutes.

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    Cranberry Orange Squares – Roll the dough into a 7″ x 10 1/2″ rectangle.  Cut into 24 1 3/4″ squares.  Bake for 10 minutes.

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    Coconut Walnut Crescents – Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each piece into a rope about 4″ long that is a bit thicker in the middle than on the ends.  Form into a crescent.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool about 2 minutes and press tops into powdered sugar.

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    Pistachio Almond Cookies – Roll dough 1/4″ thick.  Cut with a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter.  Press a blanched almond into the top of each cookie.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 24.

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    Chocolate Mint Thins – Cut dough into scant 1/4″ slices.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 36.

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    Sanded Shortbread Coins – Slice log into 1/4″ slices.  Bake 10 minutes.  Makes 24.

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    Lingonberry Logs – Divide dough in half.  Roll each into a 9″ log. Press a shallow trough down the length of the log.  Fill with lingonberry jam.  Bake 15 minutes.  While cooling, make a glaze from 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon almond extract and 1 – 2 tablespoons of cream.  After the cookies have cooled for 10 minutes, drizzle with glaze and cut into 1″ pieces on a slight diagonal.  Makes 20.

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    Brew up some strong coffee and enjoy!

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  • 06Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 3

    Kryddhylla?  It’s Swedish for spice rack!  I’ve always thought these under-counter spice racks you find in lots of Swedish kitchens are very cool.

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    You can see a red one behind me here in Skräddar Anna’s kitchen in this picture taken in 1984!

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    This one’s a little different.  It’s in Berit and Gunnar’s house.

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    I wanted to find one for our Swedish house and was looking for an antique one that would go under our upper cupboards.  But if you look at the picture below, you’ll see that blank panel on the very left.  It was kind of boring, and kind of bothered me.

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    It was just there to hide some electrical.  Hmmm.  Why not put the kryddhylla there!?!

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    It would be a bit nontraditional to run it vertically, but, hey–why not!  I found a source for new ones, that had four containers.

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    The glass inserts were square.

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    So they could go into the holder either way!

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    Five seemed to be right for the space, so we ordered a second one and did some creative carpentry.

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    And now we have our own kryddhylla!   Yeah!

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    Oh!  But on the other side of the cupboards, there’s a skinny space.  It didn’t bother me so much.

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    But then look what I found!

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    Baby ones!  Stay tuned!

  • 03Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1

    What’s not to love about a country that has a designated Cinnamon Bun Day!?!  October 4 is Kanelbullens Dag – Cinnamon Bun Day!  As a Swedish-American, I feel compelled to celebrate my heritage!  ;-)

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    If you want to celebrate your Swedish heritage, or just be a Swede for a day, I thought I’d share my Cinnamon Bun recipe with you.  I make my dough in my bread machine, using the “dough” setting, but you could do it the old-fashioned way.

    Bread dough ingredients

    • 1-1/4 cups milk – room temperature
    • 3/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 2-1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 packet)
    • 4 – 4-1/2 cups flour

    Put all these ingredients in your bread machine and set it to the “dough” setting.  Shortly before it’s done, gather/prepare the following ingredients.

    Filling ingredients

    • 1/4 cup melted butter
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 1 egg
    • pearl sugar

    When the dough in the bread machine is done, turn it out onto a floured surface, punch it down and knead until smooth and shiny.  Let rest a few minutes.

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    Roll dough into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.

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    Brush with melted butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the dough.

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    Beginning with the long side of the rectangle, roll up jelly roll style.

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    At this point, it’s time to cut the dough into 20 slices – or something close to that. I use a serrated knife to mark the top of the roll.

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    You can use a sharp knife or use a length of dental floss to do the cutting.  If you use dental floss, slide it under roll, cross the ends and pull to make a clean slice!  (I learned this tip from Bob, who used to watch his grandmother do this using a piece of string!)

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    Swedish cinnamon buns aren’t crowded into a single pan, but baked in baking papers, individually, on a baking sheet.  You can use cupcake papers for this, but they are a little deeper than needed.  You should be able to find baking papers at a kitchen store.

    Place each slice into a baking paper and place on a baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until double—about 45 minutes.

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    Make an egg wash with 1 egg and 1 tablespoon of water.  Brush rolls with egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.  Don’t know about pearl sugar?  It’s a coarse, dense sugar available at specialty food/kitchen shops or Ikea!

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    Bake at 425º for 7 – 10 minutes.

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    Enjoy!

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  • 01Oct
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 7

    After we demoed the kitchen in our Swedish house last fall, Torsten and Mikael put in the wood stove.  Then, in January, we installed the floor and cabinets and got close to finishing the remodel.

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    Before we returned to Sweden for the summer, Torsten and Mikael built the hood over our stoves.  It started with Mikael putting a fresh layer of cement over the chimney.  This is the hall side of the chimney.

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    This is the kitchen–with the wood stove covered up and the electric stove temporarily removed.

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    Traditional Swedish hoods are very different than the prefab hoods we’re used to in the US.  Torsten built the steel framework…

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    …and installed it.

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    Then Mikeal started building the hood with bricks.

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    While the work was in progress, this was the only photo Torsten sent me!

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    Once the bricks were in place, Mickael covered everything with a layer of cement.

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    And I got my second sneak peek!  It’s hard to be half a world away!

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    Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer!  I had to make a trip back to Sweden.

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    Everything looked fabulous, including the white tile back splash.

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    This summer, Bob painted all the cement.

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    Traditionally these hoods are painted white, and that’s what we did—with the first coat.

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    But it seemed so stark white that he put a second coat on with a tinge of gray in it.

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    And it looks fantastic!  The vedspis (wood stove) and hood really make this my Swedish dream kitchen.

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    Thank you Torsten, Mikael and Bob!

     

     

  • 14Sep

    I decided I wanted something red and white and simple for the beds in Sweden.  A checkerboard quilt seemed perfect, so I cut  a bunch of 2″ strips from my red and white fabrics and sewed them together.  Then I cut them in 2″ segments.

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    I hauled them to a retreat with me!

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    Then it was just a matter of sewing them together into longer and longer strips.

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    You know the drill.  Once the strips were long enough it was time to sew them together.

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    Here’s the first one when I finished it at the retreat and spread it on my bed.

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    In keeping with the “simple” theme, I just quilted diagonally with wavy lines.

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    But I didn’t go all the way in one direction, I did more of a chevron pattern.

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    I was really pleased with the way it turned out.

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    I found this cute bird print for the back.

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    Each quilt was 40 squares by 50 squares, or 2000 squares!  (Scary when you say it that way!)

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    Yes, I said “each quilt” because I made two of them!

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    Here’s Bob getting his.  I gave it to him before we left home so he could put it in his suitcase!

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    When we first got to Sweden, we had to sleep upstairs because our bedroom wasn’t remodeled yet.

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    But once the remodel was finished, we brought the bed—and the quilts—downstairs to their new home.

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    I didn’t like the way the Dala horses showed through the wallpaper.  It looked like they were in jail!  So, I added some fabric to the back of the headboard.

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    Now I really must do something about pillows!

     

  • 10Sep
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1

    It all started when our summer neighbor in Sweden, Karin, brought us a bottle of homemade rhubarb saft (pronounced “soft”).

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    Saft is a fruit concentrate that you add to still or sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.  It’s so delicious, I just had to try making some myself.  And Karin was nice enough to share the recipe.

    You will need:

    4 – 5 pounds rhubarb

    2 lemons

    Boiling water

    5 cups sugar

    2 pinches sodium benzoate

    2 pinches citric acid

    Wash the rhubarb and cut into 1/2″ slices. Place half in a heatproof pan or bowl.

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    Wash the lemons and slice thinly.  Spread over the rhubarb in the pan.

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    Add the rest of the rhubarb.

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    Cover with boiling water.

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    Cover with plastic or a lid and put in a cool place (our cellar worked great) for four days.

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    Strain the fruit through a jelly bag or two layers of cheesecloth.  Let it run about 60 minutes.

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    Add the sugar and boil for 20 minutes.  Let stand for five minutes and skim.

    Add preservatives.  Pour into warm bottles and seal.

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    Pour about 2″ in the bottom of a glass.  Add flat or sparkling water.

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    Perfect on a hot day!

     

  • 22Jul
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 1

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    Much to my delight, I discovered we have several rhubarb plants in our yard here at our Swedish house. My grandmother was the best pie maker, and one of my favorites was her rhubarb custard pie. I couldn’t wait to make one!

    When I posted a photo of this on my Facebook page, several people asked for the recipe, so here it is. I didn’t have a pie plate here, so I used this 10” square pan. And, I didn’t have a rolling pin, so had to adapt a no-roll pie crust recipe I found online. I liked this one because it used both butter and oil.

    Rhubarb Custard Pie

    Crust

    1-1/2 cups flour

    1 tsp salt

    2 tbl sugar

    ¼ cup cold butter, grated

    ¼ cup oil

    2 tbl milk

    Mix dry ingredients. Stir in grated butter to distribute evenly. Add milk and oil. Stir. Dough will be crumbly. Press into bottom and up the sides of a 10” square pan (a 10” pie pan or 9” x 13” pan would work, too). Chill while preparing filling.

    Rhubarb Filling

    3-1/3 cups rhubarb

    1-1/3 cups sugar

    2-1/2 tlb flour

    ½ tsp salt

    4 egg yolks

    1-1/3 cup heavy cream

    Cut rhubarb into small pieces and spread over crust. Whisk remaining ingredients. Pour over rhubarb. Bake at 350 degrees 50 – 60 minutes, until custard is set. About 5 minutes before pie is done baking, prepare meringue.

    Meringue

    4 egg whites

    ¼ tsp cream of tartar

    ¼ cup sugar

    Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over top of pie, all the way to the edges. Make peaks with the back of a spoon or edge of a spatula. Return to oven for 10 minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.

    You can serve this warm or cold. Refrigerate after a few hours.

    Tags:
  • 31May
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 2

    Really!

    I actually made this pillow in nine minutes—and, I was taking photos along the way!

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    It only required sewing two seams–TWO SEAMS!  This is for an 18″ pillow form.

    First, cut a half yard piece of your chosen fabric, 18″.  I got to thinking if you bought a half yard of fabric, you could skip this step!  And, no, I didn’t add anything for seam allowances, because I like my pillow to fit snugly.

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    Take it to the ironing board and press it, getting rid of that fold mark in the middle.

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    Now, back to the cutting board.  Lay the fabric facedown, lengthwise, with about 11″ hanging off to the left of your first mark.  Fold that hanging down part over so that the fold is along the first mark on your cutting board.  We’re taking advantage of the selvedges here, so this should be the selvedge without the printing on it.

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    Now fold the other half over, making that fold along the 18″ mark.

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    Stick some pins in along the top and bottom edges.

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    Take it to your machine and sew the two seams!  I went back and forth where the fabrics overlapped.

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    Reach in and turn it right side out!

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    I use this little wooden gizmo to poke out the corners.

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    Press again.

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    Stuff in your pillow form and, voila!

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    A quick pillow in just 10 minutes—or less!  It even looks good on the back!

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    Tags:
  • 08May
    Categories: Everything! Comments: 7

    In Sweden, everyone takes their shoes off when they enter your house. Since floors can be cold, I thought it would be fun to have a basket of slippers for my guests.

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    So I went to the local thrift store and bought a wool coat.

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    It was 100% wool and very nicely made.

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    It took me about a half hour to take it all apart.  I tossed the lining and any interfacing, and was left with a nice stack of wool.  I wanted to felt it so I tossed into the washer with a little soap and set the machine for the longest, hottest cycle to felt the wool.  Then I tossed it into a hot dryer.  Voila!  Felted wool!  Now the slippers will be washable!

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    I looked around the web for tutorials on how to make slippers and found quite a few.  I found the one I liked best here and adapted it.

    Instead of tracing around my foot to make a pattern, I started by tracing around my shoe.

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    I figured if I used the outside of my shoe, I’d be just right for seam allowances.

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    I stacked up two pieces of wool and cut two soles.

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    I also cut two long pieces 4″ x 31″.

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    I bought some non-skid slipper stuff for the bottom and cut out two of those, slightly larger than the soles, planning to cut them down later.  I used some spray baste to stick them to the bottom of the soles.

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    Then I made some bias binding.  I used scraps, but you can cut what you need out of 1/3 yard of fabric.  I cut six strips on a 45 degree angle and sewed them together.  Then I pressed the strip in half, opened it up and pressed the edges to the middle.

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    I pinned the binding along one long edge of the strip.

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    I used a triple zigzag stitch to attach it.

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    I folded the long strip in half to find the middle, then started pinning at the heel and about half way along each side.

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    Then I stuck my foot in there!

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    I lapped one side over…

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    …then the other.

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    Then I continued pinning, feeling the sole underneath, and pinning around the toe.

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    Here’s what it looked like from the bottom.

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    I trimmed away the excess, took it to the machine and stitched around the perimeter.

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    When you make the second one, be sure you lap the strip in the opposite direction.

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    Then I borrowed Robin’s serger and went around the edges again.

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    I made two small, two medium and two large!  I used Bob’s shoe for the large and just reduced mine for the small.

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    Hopefully, everyone will have toasty toes when they visit!