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<<July 2017>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Wendi, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 306
1. Check out my new R2-D2 beanie!

Check out this awesome R2-D2 beanie Wendi made for me! I love it so much I've been wearing it around the house even when there's no one here to see it.

It's far too time-intensive for her to sell them affordably, but Wendi is selling the pattern as an add-on to her basic beanie pattern. To learn more, click here to go to her craft blog, Shiny Happy World!

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2. Silly Jo

Jo was in a super silly mood yesterday when she helped me photograph these Huggable Blockheads. I got silly pictures, pretend-sleeping pictures, lots (and lots) of pictures with her tongue sticking out, and a bunch of blurry shots because she was moving around so much. It took about ten times as long as it should have - and I loved every minute of it.

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3. Happy Valentine's Day!

Jo saw me working on some little stitched girls for this Friday's pattern over on my Shiny Happy World. She decided that this girl was her favorite so I surprised her by stitching it up as a little felt pin. Easy peasy - and it's so much fun to embroider on felt. I need to do it more often.

Happy day!

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4. House Blend Granola Recipe

I love granola. I would happily eat it every day - twice a day. I especially love the granola I make with this recipe.

5 cups old-fashioned oats

1 cup coconut. You can leave this out if you don't like coconut - I love the toasty flavor it gets. Maybe try some wheat germ instead?

1 cup chopped nuts. Any kind except sunflower seeds. They taste good, but they always float to the top of the milk and make the final bowl look less pretty.

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup sweetener. I like to mix two kinds - I think that gives it a deeper flavor. Try a scant 1/2 cup of brown sugar with a few tablespoons of honey or maple syrup.

1/2 cup oil.

Mix it all together. Spread on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through cooking.

Eat one bowl hot out of the oven, topped with some dried fruit and cold milk or warm apple cider. Let the rest cool completely and store in a sealed container. Serve with milk, cider, or yogurt.

I love mixing and matching different nut/fruit/sweetener combinations to get different flavors. Some of my favorites are dried apricots with almonds and honey (mmmm. . .) and dried cherries with cashews and maple syrup (fancy!). My everyday basic is raisins with almonds and honey. So good. And I just happen to have a pan in the oven right now.

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5. How to Make an Easy - and Extremely Cute! - Ironing Board Cover

I'm getting ready to shoot a video on pressing vs. ironing (I know! So exciting!) and I decided I just couldn't do it on my old, water-stained ironing board cover. I have a magnificent Michael Graves extra-wide ironing board that I bought several years ago. When I bought it I had the foresight to buy an extra Michael Graves cover - knowing that by the time I needed a new cover the extra-wide version would be long gone. I've moved it to four homes and I finally took it out of the package today - only to find that it was a standard-sized cover. Aaargh!

I was. . . angry. I briefly considered putting the icky old cover back on the ironing board - but it was really pretty gross. And then I realized it was just a flat piece of fabric - no shaping - nothing fancy. Even the drawstring was just slipped through the serged edge.

I realized I could use the old, stained cover as a pattern for a new cover - and one that would be way cuter than the boring Michael Graves design I had been schlepping around for years.
How about this cute Peter Pan fabric I bought in Japan? I just laid the old cover on the new fabric and cut around the edge. (New pattern weights are on my list of Things to Make Soon.)
I even made improvements! Instead of a flimsy serged edge I used some old (really old - look at that price!) seam binding tape someone gave to me. Bonus points for it being orange and looking so cute with the fabric.
I stitched the binding around the edge. I pulled the drawstring out of the old cover and reused it on the new one - I just threaded it through the binding tape using a big, blunt needle.
The original cover was tightened on the board and just knotted in place. I used this fancy sliding springy thing instead of a knot.
6. So You Want to Learn How to Sew, Do You?

I meet a lot of people - kids and adults - who want to learn how to sew. And it's fun to teach them! I've taught kids as young as six how to sew stuffed animals, skirts, aprons, and doll clothes - all of their own design! I've taught teens how to refashion a wardrobe from thrift-store finds. I've taught grown-ups how to make clothes and toys for their children and grandchildren, and how to sew beautiful quilts without stress. And I've loved every minute of it!
I've taught at schools and summer camps, colleges and fabric stores. I've published books and online tutorials. But now I'm thinking bigger. I've set up a whole website just for all those folks out there who want to learn to sew. Starting in 2011 there'll be two new video lessons every week - one sewing and one embroidery. There'll be lots of projects for you to practice your new skills. There'll be galleries where you can share (and show off!) your work.
By the end of the year you'll be able to sew everything from stuffed animals to clothing. You'll be the master of zippers and buttonholes. You'll know tricks for working with all kinds of fancy fabrics - from velvet to tissue lame. You'll know what tissue lame is! And you'll have fun. Hopefully, lots and lots of fun.
Through the end of the year I'm posting a lot of videos covering the basics - how to choose a machine, how to use an iron, etc. We'll start with the fun sewing stuff (and projects!) in January. So right now - if you want to learn to sew in 2011 - sign up for my newsletter so you won't miss a thing. If you have a friend (or a child) who wants to learn to sew - get them signed up. There will be plenty of boy-friendly projects too - so get those boys signed up as well.
Gather your materials. I have a post on choosing a sewing machine here. If you already have a machine but it's been gathering dust and you don't know how to thread it - take it in to your local sewing machine store. Have it

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7. Mahar Drygoods Is Closing!

Sad news folks. Mahar Drygoods - THE coolest place to buy kid stuff online - is closing. They carry the work of some of my favorite artists, and the day Robert Mahar emailed me to inquire about carrying my dolls was one of my best business days ever. Ever! When I "rebranded" my Shiny Happy World last year and narrowed the focus of what I do, one of the ways I articulated that focus was to ask myself about every potential product, "Is this the kind of thing Mahar Drygoods might carry?" Seriously. And now they're closing.

The good news is that they're not closed yet, and they'll still be selling some amazingly awesome stuff through the holiday season. So head over, take a look, and buy something fabulous. They have a small handful of my dolls too, so if you think Lucy Grace. . .

Lucy Hannah. . .

Lucy Ida. . .

Abigail Fannie. . . (sorry - she's sold now)

or Abigail Georgia. . .

. . . would be a perfect friend for your little one, now's your chance to buy them from an amazing shop.
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8. Meet the Anywhere Bear

Isn't he a cutie? The Anywhere Bear is a very versatile little pattern. I designed him to fit on my free Swell Stocking pattern - and that's what you see here.

But as I was working on the pattern I realized he could be used on lots of other things. Once you get the basic applique steps down you could add him to a pair of jeans, a handbag, a tote bag, a pillow - anywhere really. And he's not just limited to fabric uses either. I have a HUGE stack of paste paper that I've made at my job at Penland School of Crafts. And look what I did with some of it.

Instead of fabric I used my paste paper. Instead of embroidering the face I used a Sharpie. Instead of sewing him in place I glued him to the front of a card. Easy peasy and so much fun!

The pattern includes full-sized templates for the bear - sized to fit just right on the Swell Stocking or a regular-sized greeting card. There are also complete step by step instructions (with photos, natch) on how to applique the bear to fabric. There are even some notes and suggestions to help kids with the project.

Download the free Swell Stocking pattern here.
And the free Neato Ornaments pattern here.
And purchase the Anywhere Bear pattern ($5) here.

In 2011 I'll be offering weekly video tutorials on all kinds of sewing techniques for kids and other beginning sewists. I'll also be designing special patterns and projects that use these beginning techniques to help build your skills. If you want to be kept in the loop on all the news and updates, please sign up for my newsletter. And if you know someone who wants to make "Learn to sew" one of their New Year's resolutions - please forward them the link. Thanks! And happy sewing!

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9. Swell Stockings + Neato Ornaments = Easy Applique Designs

 So on Monday I released the Swell Stocking pattern. And yesterday I shared some Neato Ornaments. Today I'm going to show you what happens when you put them together.
Let's start simple. Cut out an ogee shape, stitch on some rickrack and a button, stitch it to the stocking and - voila - you have a fancy ornament.
I cut out three felt trees and stitched them onto a stocking front. I added a scattering of buttons in lots of colors and sizes and - cute! - a forest of Christmas trees.
The stocking might be my favorite. I cut out one ornament-sized stocking, decorated it with a bit of rickrack, then stitched it onto the full-sized stocking leaving the top open so it acts like a pocket.
Jo went nuts when she saw me slip some lollipops into the stocking pocket for the photo shoot. "I thought that was just a decoration, but it's a pocket?! A pocket?! That is soooo cute!" Even Alan gave it props.
You can fit exactly five of the smaller ornament circles in a stack down the side of the stocking. I laid some ribbon down the center over the dots and stitched it down. The sides of the circles aren't attached and look pretty cool that way.
10. Make a Neato Ornament (or ten)

Yesterday I posted a link to a free stocking pattern (plus an absurd number of examples of what you can do with it). Today I bring you. . . . ornaments! You can download the pattern here.

When I was a kid my sisters and I each got a new ornament every Christmas Eve. By the time I graduated from high school and moved out I had a fabulous collection of unique - and mostly handmade - ornaments. It's a great tradition and one I've been happy to carry on with Alan and Jo.

This year I designed a collection of ornaments inspired by vintage glass ornaments. You know the ones? Beautiful and oh-so-fragile. My collection is a whimsical interpretation of those traditional shapes and styles - made of felt and therefore safe from curious toddlers and climbing cats. Plus - they're easy enough for kids to make and the materials are inexpensive and easy to work with. Everyone wins!

So, do you like them? Do you want some for your very own? If so, here are your choices. . .

You can buy finished ornaments from me. I'm working on getting them all listed in my shop.

You can download the free pattern and make some yourself.

You can download the pattern and put your kids to work making these delightful ornaments for everyone you know.

The choice is yours. Ready for some inspiration?

My favorite shape is the ogee. Sometimes I embellish them with rickrack. . .
. . . sometimes with more felt and an embroidered asterisk for a little nod to mid-century mod.

I've also included two sizes of circles. You can embellish them with rickrack. . .
11. How to Make a Swell Stocking

It's Thanksgiving week - are you ready for Christmas yet? Feeling crafty? Want to make something swell? Well I want you to make something swell - that's why I'm sharing this free pattern for a holiday stocking. (The link is to a downloadable PDF.)

The pattern is just the basic template - the swellness comes in what you do with it. You can start simple with some rickrack or ribbon stitched across the top of the sock.
Easy peasy - and so cute!

Or you could get all daring and sew the trim on the other way - up and down. Oooh - creative!

Don't limit yourself to rickrack and ribbon. How about some fancy beaded trim?
Or a bit of a feather boa? Oooh la la!
Or maybe you want to go Raggedy Ann-style with some eyelet trim. The sky is the limit folks!
 Do you have a bunch of buttons just hanging around in jars? I think they multiply when I'm not looking and I'm always looking for something to sew them to. You can add just a few buttons in a nice neat row. . .
. . . or a kajillion scattered over the stocking all willy-nilly.
12. Our new woodshed

Our plans to install our wood stove this past weekend were derailed when we discovered (surprise surprise) that we didn't have all the parts we needed. Some are still on order at Lowe's, and others we'll have to buy in store, but that won't be until this coming Friday. In the meantime, we decided to get a woodshed built!

We bought a few pieces of pressure-treated wood for this project, but we tried to use up a lot of scrap from other projects on this one, particularly as it's hidden behind the house and doesn't need to look pretty.

A cord of wood, according to The Internet, is four feet by four feet by eight feet of wood, so those are the dimensions we used, kicking the front up an extra foot for accessibility--and to allow snow to slide off the roof in the winter.

I love any excuse to wear my tool belt...

Our outer frame is finished! Now to add side panels, a roof, and a floor.

But first, we added side supports for the three stacks of wood that will fit inside. We used more scrap wood here, so the pieces are uneven and mismatched.

While Wendi and I covered the walls with old flooring pieces left over from the construction of our house, Jo was charged with shoveling sand from our leftover sand pile for the base. She ended up playing more than shoveling, but she helped out.

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13. Happy Halloween!

We had a lovely Halloween here at Gratz Industries. Jo was torn between her Pokemon trainer costume and her Hogwarts Student costume. The weather decided for her and I think she looked terrific.

We decided to follow Neil Gaiman's lead and celebrate All Hallows Read by giving a scary book as a Halloween gift.
We did it up right with gift wrap and everything.
We got Jo a copy of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz and illustrated by Brett Helquist. She DEVOURED it. That girl loves ghost stories - as long as they're not too scary - and this collection was just right. Now she's asking for the next two volumes in the series.

Hope ya'll had a great Halloween! And - just for fun - how awesome was the Halloween design on the Krispy Kreme box? We enjoyed far too many of these boxes this month. :-) Scary!

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14. Mad Men Mr. Men

Made of awesome. Thanks to Bookshelves of Doom for the link.

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15. Caramel Apple Sticky Buns

Alan was at a conference this weekend and Jo and I opted for Caramel Apple Sticky Buns for Sunday breakfast instead of our usual pancakes. Oh. Wow. Basically - this is a bit of dough  rolled around huge quantities of butter and sugar and then topped with even more butter and sugar and a few tiny bits of apple. Every time Jo took a bite she moaned, "Mommy - this is the best thing ever!" What else is there to say? Except, of course, that you can find the recipe here.

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16. What We're Reading 9-26

No reviews. Little (if any) commentary. Just a round-up of what we're reading here at Gratz Industries.

Family Read-Aloud
Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix - still loving it and almost done

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter - I know many people hated this book but I loved it and it makes me happy every time Jo pulls it off the shelf
Case Closed #22 - Jo's running out of these and asking for more - and to get the next DVD from Netflix
Geronimo Stilton #41: Mighty Mount Kilimanjaro - Jo always loves Geronimo Stilton and she just got a new stack of them
Scatterbrain Sam by Ellen Jackson, art by Matt Faulkner
Julius the Baby of the World by Kevin Henkes
Sheila Rae, the Brave by Kevin Henkes
Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor, art by Robin Preiss Glasser
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban CD - still her favorite bedtime listening

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman - finally finished after an unplanned break
White Cat by Holly Black - recommended by so many people online I had to pick it up at Malaprops last week. Excellent so far.

Penny Dreadful by Laurel Snyder

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17. Recipe - Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I was fighting off a cold this weekend and nothing I had in the fridge sounded very good. It was rainy and cool and I wanted soup. Spicy soup that I'd be able to taste in spite of a stuffy nose. I had a couple of butternut squash that I had picked up at the farmer's market, and a jar of Thai red curry paste that's sat unopened in my pantry for years. Put them together and I had a very tasty soup - perfect for a chilly day and a stuffy head. And I even took notes on how I made it!

3-4 lbs. butternut squash
2-3 T olive oil
1 T butter
1 onion - chopped
1 carrot - chopped
1 apple - peeled, cored and chopped
2 heaping teaspoons Thai red curry paste
1 qt. vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
heavy cream
chopped fresh chives

Roast the butternut squash however you like. I like to peel it, scoop out the seeds and chop it all up, toss the cubes in olive oil and a bit of salt and roast at 400 degrees until it's tender. I know some people like to cut the whole squash in half, scoop out the seeds, brush it with olive oil and roast cut-side down until it's tender. As long as the squash comes out soft (and slightly caramelized in places) you're good.

Heat 1 T olive oil and the butter in your soup pot. Saute the onion, carrot and apple with some salt until soft - about 5 minutes. Add the curry paste and stir it all together - maybe another couple of minutes on the heat. Add the broth, the squash, and the bay leaves. Reduce heat and let it simmer for about an hour. Remove the bay leaves and then puree the soup. I use an immersion blender. Please don't forget to remove the bay leaves first - when you puree them in the soup you get some really unpleasant hard leafy bits and then you have to spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to pick them out of the soup - not that I did that or anything. :-)

When you're ready to serve finish it off with a little heavy cream and top with chopped chives. I add the cream in the bowl instead of in the pot so I can save the leftovers without cream - I like it added fresh right at the very end.

I ate this with some of this English Muffin Toasting Bread. Yummy!

Pottery footnote. . .
That bowl? It's poorly photographed, but it's my very favorite bowl. Michael Kline made it and it's the perfect size and shape for holding in my hand while I eat. He calls this shape breakfast cups and they're just right for a bowl of granola - but I use them most often for soup. Mmmmm. . . soup. Nothing beats homemade soup eaten from a handmade bowl. . .

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18. What We're Reading - 9/12/10

Family Read-Aloud
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and loving every minute. It takes about 4 1/2 hours to get to Atlanta - Alan read aloud all the way there and all the way back. He is awesome.

One Piece #14: Instinct
One Piece #15: Straight Ahead!!! - Jo loves these super-weird Japanese pirate graphic novels
Totally Spies #3: Evil Jerry! Can you tell that she's been on a graphic novel kick lately?
The Books of Elsewhere #1: The Shadows by Jacqueline West - Jo and Alan are both reading this one. Alan reads a couple of chapters and night - Jo reads the same chapters the next morning and then they talk about them. Jo wishes they were going a lot faster.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire CD
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets CD

Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik - slower than the first Temeraire book but I'm still enjoying it. Alan promises that things pick up again with book #3.

The Books of Elsewhere #1: The Shadows - see above
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (#2) by Bryan Lee O'Malley
Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness (#3) - he's been enjoying these a lot - says they're unlike anything he's read before
For the Win by Cory Doctorow - Alan says he's finding this similar to a short story by Doctorow called Enda's Game - in a good way

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19. Happy Birthday, Jo!

Today is Jo's eighth birthday. Woohoo! And here she is wearing her birthday present from us: fencing gear. It comes with fencing lessons at the New Studio of Dance in Asheville, beginning the week after Labor Day.

Jo has been asking to take fencing lessons for two years, but the only class we could find won't let you join until you're eight. She's been counting the months...

En garde, and happy birthday, Jo! Our lives are far better for having you in it.

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20. Fabulous Fairy House - With Spa!

Jo came to work with me a lot this spring and summer. I work in a great old building with a nice porch for reading and a terrific backyard - so that's no hardship. She spent a solid week completely absorbed in building/improving/expanding on the most awesome fairy house ever.

I love this little ladder. Where does it lead?

To this breezy little platform - a piece of bark, wedged between two trunks and covered with soft moss. I love the pretty "curtain" of upside-down flowers tied to an overhanging branch. See?
And here's my favorite part. Around the corner of the building is a little tree fort that the kids love to play in. The centers of some of the oldest support posts are rotting out. Jo built a little shed over one.
Take a look at what's inside!
Half a scallop shell filled with water! Jo told me it's an onsen (a Japanese-style hot tub). You have no idea how much I wish this was sized for me - the perfect quiet, mossy, woodsy getaway.

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21. Dragon*Con - Wendi's Wizard Cloak

If I lived in the world of Harry Potter this is exactly the cloak I would wear. I showed the start of the work on it here. Now it's just about done - it just needs some topstitching to help hold the layers in place.
I love the pattern on pattern. I'm going to be wearing it with a patterned shirt, too. The outside of the cloak is pieced black fabrics - anything I could find that was black or dark gray - velvet, narrow and wide corduroy, some gorgeous flocked sort of fabric with a baroque swirly pattern, jacquard and patterned cottons. I'd guess about 2/3 of the squares are straight-up cottons and the rest are "fancy" fabrics. The lining is a beautiful brocade. Now Jo wants one too - but I told her she has to wait until after Dragon*Con.

For anyone interested this sort of thing - I used Simplicity 9887 (view D) with no changes. Good pattern.

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22. Chewie and Han as Calvin and Hobbes

Wow! @barryholdblatt and @curiousmartha tweeted this image this morning. I went digging to see who the artist was and I found out IT'S AVAILABLE ON A T-SHIRT! want want want want want. . .

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23. Peach Jam. . . nom. . . nom. . .nom

On the way back from Dragon*Con we stopped in South Carolina for some local peaches and - holy cow they are good! That basket is a lot for eating fresh, though, so we're canning some of them. Yesterday we (mostly Jo) made some jam.
I'm always slightly horrified at how much sugar goes into jam.
Jo loved ladling it into the jars.
We actually used a little too much fruit so this is a pretty soft set. I think we'll call this batch ice cream sauce and make another batch of more proper jam.
So pretty! And it will be so tasty poured over vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with chopped almonds. nom. . . nom. . . nom. . .

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24. We've Got a Ticket to Ride

One of the best things about Dragon*Con is that Alan spends a lot of late nights trying out new games for us to buy. This year we brought home a few that I'm really excited about and last night we tried out the first - Ticket to Ride.

It. Is. Awesome.

Jo's a good gamer, but she starts to lose interest if the rules of the game are too crazy complicated, or if a single game lasts too long. Ticket to Ride has very simple rules, a nice blend of strategy and chance, and a game lasts about an hour. Perfect!
And the board  is beautiful. We started with the basic US set. There are other sets and expansion sets you can get, but Jo and Alan already have plans to design two new boards of their own - one for Japan (to include all the places we went) and one for North Carolina. I can't wait.

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25. Summer's Bounty

I bought a ton of great stuff at the farmer's market this week - including a bunch of squash. I know everyone else in the northern hemisphere is sick to death of it by now, but I can't get enough and I know the end is near. I bought yellow squash, zucchini squash and pattypan squash. I bought butternut squash too - but I'll save those for a soup on some chilly, drizzly day.

My favorite way to fix squash is to saute it in a lot of butter and olive oil with some salt. A lot of butter and olive oil - I serve it over rice or couscous or some other grain and the extra butter/oil is a good sauce to flavor that up. If I have some almonds on hand I toss in a handful at the end. And I top it with some fresh herbs - usually parsley but nobody had parsley this week so I used chives. The trick is not to mess with the squash too much - just let it sit in the pan and get a nice crust on it and then flip it to brown the other side.

And for dessert? More peaches. My old peach crisp recipe wasn't perfect so I tried a new one - this one by Ina Garten. There are raspberries in it too - another happy farmer's market find - but I think I could substitute any berry that was in season - or leave them out altogether.

The filling was perfect - her recipe includes a nice trick where she has you let the fruit macerate for 5 minutes and then add more flour if it's really juicy. Mine was really, really juicy so I added even more extra flour than she called for and it was just right.

Some people in the comments on foodnetwork.com complained that there wasn't enough flavor in the recipe - they added cinnamon, allspice - even cloves! Ina adds no extra spices - just some orange zest that I thought brightened the whole thing up. The result was that it tasted like peaches - summer in a bowl - and I wouldn't add a single thing. The flavor of her topping was good - but the texture was a bit on the powdery side. I like mine to be almost cookie-like on top so I think next time I'll use less flour. There are just enough peaches left for one more batch. . .

By the way - both the plate and the bowl were made by Naomi Dalglish and Michael Hunt. Aren't they pretty?

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