Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pillows, Pies, and Gingerbread Houses

I have had a very productive day so far.  Just ask my aching back.

First, I made some pillow covers.  I was sick of not having cute decorative pillows in our living room, and I wanted to add a seasonal touch.  I'm gonna try to write a tutorial on how I made the pillow covers out of a cheap Christmas blanket, but I'll give you a sneak peek now:

Second, Nora and I worked on the filling for the Caramel Apple Pies in Jars that I'm making for Christmas gifts.  Don't worry, the recipients of the pies already know they'll be receiving them.  In fact, they requested them.  Plus one of them is Jared's grandma, and she doesn't own an answering machine, let alone a computer on which to read my blog.

This is the third year in a row that I've made pies in jars for Jared's dad and grandma for their Christmas gifts.  You can read my first post about it here.  I got the original idea from Our Best Bites.  I make half of the pies Chicken Pot Pie using this recipe from Our Best Bites.  I make the other half of the pies Caramel Apple Pie using this recipe from

Each year I've increased the number of pies I make because they seem to return all their empty jars to me earlier in the year.  This year I'm making the most yet.  I already made 24 jars of Chicken Pot Pie.

Now I'm working on 24 jars of Caramel Apple Pie.  Last night I made 4 batches of pie crust dough and stuck them in the fridge.  Then I peeled two bags of Granny Smith apples (that's a lot of apples!).  I used a vegetable peeler, started at the top of the apple, and peeled in a spiral until I ended at the bottom.  I put all of the peeled apples into a large container filled with cold water and lemon juice and let them hang out in the fridge overnight.  This is such a big job that I'm trying to break it up and work ahead as much as possible.

This morning I chopped all of the apples.  By hand.  Into little pieces.  TWENTY cups of chopped apples.  My hands are now misshapen claws.  Next year I need to look into getting one of those handy gadgets that peel, core, and spiral cut apples.  Then I'd just have to cut them into smaller pieces and call it done.

I added the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and flour to the diced apples to complete the filling.

Later I'll roll out the pie crust and line the jars (which are washed and drying on my counter).  Then I'll fill them with layers of apple filling, taffy, and caramel bits.  Then I'll top them off with a circle of pie crust (with a cute little heart-shaped hole cut out to let steam out when they bake) and the jar lids and rings.  The finishing touch will be the cute labels.

After I cleaned up the apple mess and made Nora's lunch, I got to work on my third major tasks:  preparing gingerbread houses for some family fun tonight.

*Update:  I wrote this yesterday afternoon, but then Blogger malfunctioned and wouldn't let me publish it.  I ended up finishing all of the apple pies, so I now have 48 yummy jars in my freezer ready to be given at Christmas gatherings.  We also had tons of fun decorating our gingerbread houses.  It's such a fun tradition to do as a family.  Here's a look at our finished houses:


Nora (She got hot, took off her clothes, got cold, and wrapped up in a blanket.  I have no explanation for her hair.)

Jared and I decorated the last gingerbread house together.

And now we're off to play in the freshly fallen snow!


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