Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On Being Suited to a T

I delivered a quilt this morning, one I was somewhat hired to make. I usually do quilts intended to be given to a particular person. This was the first I did at someone else's request, in exchange for, yes, money. As Homer Simpson was told, "Money can be exchanged for good and services" and in this case it was exchanged for a quilt. As I began to draft this post, it occurred to me that I did not post about the quilt I finished before this one. I finished that one some weeks before the recipient was in town to receive it, after which it just slipped my mind. I'll add something about that after covering the one delivered today.

Several years ago, a friend approached me about doing a quilt or quilts from t-shirts following her daughter from about kindergarten to adult-hood. I blogged about those quilts here along with one I made for my son to practice working with shirt fabrics. Then, in response to a karate master instructor's asking me to make him "something," I did a quilt of shirts from several decades of Myo Sim Karate and Kendo. That's the one I'll show below. As I was working on the two for my friend and her daughter, I was approached by a Facebook friend whom I met through the Charlottesville Photography Initiative about doing some t-shirt quilts for her. Never having done one for money, I perused various websites and set a rate of about the midpoint of what those sites charged.

When I finished the karate t-shirt quilt, I started the quilt delivered this morning, one made of t-shirts collected at various rock concerts or festivals over the years, centering on--I hope I get this right--Phish. The logos had already been cut from the shirts, meaning that I didn't have much leeway in terms of how to frame the images. I ended up going with blocks that measured 15 inches finished with something of a pattern in terms of the colors of the shirts. Here's the finished product.

I quilted each shirt square a bit differently. Here are a few of them.

I was very satisfied with the result and, more importantly, so was the person for whom it was made. When I delivered this quilt to her, I accepted another set of t-shirts, these related to a summer camp in Maine. While I may play around with design ideas now, that quilt won't actually get started until I return from Australia in early June.

The quilt of martial arts t-shirts was also well received by the recipient and all the more special because it was a complete surprise to him.

Here are just a couple of the squares.

This last one was not from a shirt, but is an insignia from when our school of karate was taught as a physical education class at, where else, the University of Virginia. There aren't many of the top symbols still known to exist, so I was quite grateful to the master instructor who gave me this one for a quilt for the master who had been his principal instructor.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

To Blog Here or There

In less than a month, the husband and I will be setting off to spend almost three weeks in Australia, revisiting some of the people and places we went in 2012 while adding a few new adventures, some more off-the-wall than others. It appears that we will have free Internet at most of the places we will stay (the two overnights on a train excepted), I should be able to post some photos and narratives as a blog since not everyone who will be interested in our adventures is on Facebook. When we visited Iceland for our 25th wedding anniversary, I did a trip mini-blog as part of this blog. When we have taken longer trips including living in Hue, Vietnam for a month, I have used stand-alone blogs, here for the 2009 trip and here for the second one. (Those links will actually take you to the last post in each blog, but if you got that far you probably know how to get back to the beginning.)

The 64 cent question today is how I should handle the upcoming trip, somewhat longer than the Iceland adventure but quite shorter than the Vietnam ones. Where does the middle ground put me? By posting this, I'm allowing the few people who still read this now-very-irregular blog to comment on their preference. As I proceed down a pre-trip checklist of items such as notify the credit and debit card companies of our travel plans, I need to get the question of where to blog decided. If I'm going to do a stand-alone blog, I need to get it set up and maybe even add a post or two about the getting ready of it all.

But for now, I need to get started on dinner, the husband's having just awakened from a nap to ask me what time it is. Comment away!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Is it Pronounced "pica-key" or "pie-cakey"?

Younger son has, for the last several years requested a pie baked inside of a cake for his birthday. He asked for it again this year, but I decided to mix things up and see if I could bake a cake inside a pie. Indeed, I could, and younger son thought it actually turned out better than the various capiekes (pronounced cah-pikes) have. The photos below are from the pilot piecakee that I did two weeks before the real one, which did not look too much different from the one shown here.

That's just a pie, you might be thinking, but not if you look at its inside. 

If you want to make one of these, it does help to have a (very) deep dish pie pan. Step one is, obviously, making a pastry crust and placing it in that (very) deep dish pie pan. I could show you a photo of that, but (1) you probably already know what that would look like and (2) I forgot to take any photos until I got to the step of adding the upper pie filling.

That's a lower pie crust topped with cherry pie filling, chocolate cake batter, and a second layer of cherry pie filling. Next is adding the top crust. I made this easy on myself and used a cake mix and canned pie filling. For the pilot, I only used one can of cherry filling, which meant that I didn't have enough for the whole area. I remedied that in the final, birthday version.

Note that the top of the unbaked crust seems a bit lower than the top crust in the above photo showing it post-baking. Cake batter always rises--the finished cake is higher in the pan than the batter alone was--and that's what happens here as well. In terms of temperature and time, I baked it much as I would a pie. The first 15 minutes were done at 425 F; the last 30 to 40 minutes was done at 350 F. If you're still thinking that it might not work, here's a close-up of a slice.

Nice browned, flaky pie crust, cherry filling, and normal looking chocolate cake. Now if I could only find a way to work the icing in.