Hello, fall: time to make apple crisp

I wanted to make an apple pie because I’ve never made one before. But pies are a tad involved, so I took a shortcut and made an apple crisp instead.

My rhubarb crisp recipe was so successful I just used it as a guide, substituting apples for the rhubarb and strawberries. You could do this with just about any fruit. But it is deeeelish with apples this time of year.

Apple Crisp
adapted from Simply in Season (click here for the exact recipe)

Preheat oven to 350. Peel, core and chop 6 apples.

Heat them with sugar and vanilla until they start to boil.

Then mix up a little cornstarch and water, add that to the fruit, and continue cooking until the mixture is thick and bubbling.

In a big bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, pecans, salt, cinnamon and butter. I used a pastry cutter to get perfect chunks. When the mixture forms clumps in your hands but still separates, you’re good to go.

Spread 2/3 of the crust in the bottom of a greased 9X13 casserole dish. Add the fruit.

Sprinkle the rest of the crust on top. Bake for 40 minutes.

Eat with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.

On having my doubts

It’s been a whirlwind lately as I try to figure out my process for buying supplies and making my recycled candles. I also wanted to make fabric-covered button thumbtacks, using the scraps of my grandmother’s vintage fabric I have laying around.

But every once in a while, as excited as I am about the whole process, I look at something and go, yeah, that totally didn’t turn out how I thought it would. Which is only natural — I’ve never done a lot of this stuff before. But it kind of puts a wrench in my plans, and sometimes I’m really not sure what to do. There’s no manual for deciding what your personal aesthetic is or what will absolutely sell when it comes to handmade stuff. Believe me, I’m sucking every bit of wisdom I can out of my Craft, Inc. book but it’s still limited.

Take my thumbtacks, for example. I thought they were so cute (and I still do). But when I looked at what others were selling on Etsy they just didn’t quite compare. I wanted to order 10 sets from other people, and that’s not a good sign. So I went back to the drawing board a little bit.

A random tack had picked up a clock pattern from my fabric. I thought it was cute, so I made 10 more.

But I think the most surprising thing was when I glued on some buttons. I might like these best of all. (Hear that mom? I need more buttons!)

Anyway, when that doubt creeps in I think you have to listen to it. Because going with my gut is what got me here in the first place. But then you just have to quickly move on. Give it the hand, before you start questioning the whole operation. Keep your mind open, and that’s when you get the next great idea. Like yesterday, when I realized the perfect material for my tags was the Grape Nuts box sitting in the recycling bin.

Loving: open-face breakfast burrito

I’ve had this for breakfast the last two Sundays. It’s perfect fuel for all the errand-running you inevitably do.

Just saute some chopped onions in a little butter. Then add two eggs and scramble (I always add salt, pepper and a little milk to the eggs before I whisk them up). Put the eggs on a wheat tortilla, then top with a little shredded pepperjack and chunky salsa.

More vacation photos

A while back I realized I had dozens of photos from our vacation that I never posted. Things have been a little hectic since we got back so I’m just now getting to putting them up (apologies). I can’t remember which ones Mike took so I’ll just say they’re from both of us.

Mike takes on a statue in Boston. And wins!

Mmmm, pastries.

Harbor in Portland, Maine.

More from Maine.

A schooner that passed us on the ferry to Nova Scotia.

A crazy caterpillar we saw on our hike.

White sand beach. I try not to think too much about the fact that I’m not still there.

I just liked this tree. (spoken like a true hippie)

They know how to pick paint colors in Nova Scotia.

At the Anne of Green Gables house, Anne’s room.

Toward the end of our journey, with about 50 million miles under our belts.

Do the wave!

If I saw something and can’t remember where it came from, there’s at least a 90 percent chance it was the Craft blog. Best blog EVER. To me.

Anyway, this pattern for a wavy knit blanket stuck with me. But since I don’t have time to make random extra blankets I thought I might turn the idea into one of my knit yoga bags. I think it was a success – the pattern is similar to cabling where just one row every few rows is different, making it a lot easier to follow. I just used the cotton yarn I had already bought to create the color blocking.

And on the subject of waviness, the latest round of candles I’ve been making has all come from one gigundo white candle that I colored (first some green, then some orange). It has this characteristic that makes it ripple when it cools. I haven’t done anything different in the process so I guess it’s just the wax. Weird!

Anyway, I figure I better get out and hit the garage sales before it gets too cold and my supply chain runs out. Otherwise I will have to resort to holding up grandmas, and that’s no fun.

One hell of a to-do list

I wouldn’t say I was having a quarterlife crisis (pretty sure that happened about four years ago) but I’m definitely having one of those moments where I think, oh my God, how could I possibly have reached this age without having done this, this and this? And not even that I haven’t done them yet, but that I’m not even close, can’t even see the beginning of that accomplishment. And I’m not even that old, but old enough. Perhaps looming birthdays always do that to a person.

I don’t know, I had just gotten really excited about making financial progress and then because life is rarely friendly to your savings account I find myself right back where I started. And it’s just so paralyzing when you don’t have enough money to do the things you want. But it’s my fault, it’s all me if I don’t.

I always think of myself as a person with my shit together. Like I’m organized, I think things out. Why can’t I figure out how to manage all those “adult” things that apparently you’re just supposed to know how to do? So I bought a car. Great, in five years I might finally own something. I’ll be a 33-year-old with a five-year-old car.

So, I apologize for the complainy-ness of this post, but I’m sure others know what I mean. I think we all could use some good news, some sign that high gas prices and the credit crisis and layoffs are all part of a cycle, a cycle that will change soon, for the better. And maybe we could let ourselves off the hook just a little if we don’t check off every single item on an impossible list.

The monster candle

I just had to show you this. It’s the whopper candle I found at a garage sale the other day. It was so heavy I could barely hold it up with one hand.

The cranberry scent is divine. I felt a little bad about smashing it up with a hammer, but now that it’s become four cute jar candles (with more to come) I’m feeling better about it.

Loving: Orla Kiely notebook

While in Boston we wandered into a store that I think was called Black Ink. I could have spent all day there browsing cute purses, letterpress cards, random gifts, etc. I’m all about the ephemera. So even though I’m plenty stocked on notebooks I took home this Orla Kiely sort of all-in-one book.

It has lined, graph and plain paper sheets with — of course — her little leaf pattern running down the left side of every page. It also comes with a stamped out bookmark.

As with everything in my office, it’s already got wax on it.