Mini Pumpkin Pies

Pumpkin pie is a ubiquitous autumnal staple, and one that I have looked forward to every year when the crisp air arrives ever since I was a child. I’m pleased to pass this anticipation on to my children, and First-Born especially favors them (she has literally cried at the thought of missing a slice of my pumpkin pie, and she has cried with excitement while making it… her pleasure for this traditional dessert might actually surpass my own!). 20181030_154509.jpg

In order to blend with our dainty morsels on our afternoon tea table, I’ve begun baking mini versions of this classic. Perfect for occasions that require delicate finger-food, these pies can be baked ahead of time and stored in the freezer for unexpected guests, or as sensible portions when baking a whole pie is a bit overkill.


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½ can pumpkin puree (approximately 1½ cups)

¾ cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

small pinch of sea salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

pinch of ground cloves

pinch of ground nutmeg, with more for garnish

whipped cream, for garnish

1 pie crust (preferably my Tender Pie Crust)


Either pat pie crust dough into mini-pie or tart molds, or roll out and cut into rounds to fit your pan. If using the pat-in-pan method, the amount of dough per pie depends on the size of the pan(s) you are using. A ball of dough a little smaller than a golf ball is what works for me for each mini pie. Lightly flour your hands if you find the dough sticking to your fingertips.

Put crusts in the freezer while oven preheats (or about 15 minutes).

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, sugar, salt and spices together in a bowl. Add the cream and stir carefully until completely combined. When the crusts have finished chilling, pour spoonfuls of filling into each mini pie, to the level of the top of the crust. Mine take about an even tablespoon. If there is filling left over, I like to pour the remainder into ramekins and serve as a “pumpkin custard”.

Carefully slide into the 425°F oven, and bake for 7 minutes. Lower heat to 350°F and bake for 15-20 minutes more, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool, then gently tease the pies out of the pan with a butter knife or fingertip (this is easily done when using my recipe due to the generous amount of butter). Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream – yes, homemade is best, when possible – and a sprinkle of grated nutmeg.20181030_154940

Tender Pie Crust

Homemade pastry doesn’t have to be a chore. This recipe is so simple, and simply delicious, that I often deliberately look for recipes to use throughout the week that require a crust. Since developing this version, my husband has begun insisting that the crust is now the best part, and that he’d be happy to eat it on its own. No longer the forgotten edible wrapping for the filling, this crust steals the show. While this version can be tedious to roll out, due to its extremely tender quality, it can be done with care and patience (and frequent dustings of flour on the board and rolling pin while working). Most of the time, I simply pat the dough into the pan… a nostalgic reminder of a childhood spend molding clay and mock “dough”, and only roll out if I need to make an upper crust that can’t be patted into place with my finger tips. I recommend trying this recipe with my Mini Pumpkin Pies!20181029_132832

This recipe makes one pie crust. For pies requiring a bottom and a top layer, please double.

1 cup all purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 stick cold butter, diced

¼ cup cold water


Whisk together the flours, salt, and sugar in a bowl.

Add the cold butter cubes, and with clean fingers, break the bits of butter up and mix well into the dough. Continue breaking and mixing until the fragments of butter are quite small, and the whole mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Pour in the cold water, and mix with a spoon. Briefly knead with your had once or twice to ensure all the loose crumbs have been combined into the dough.

On a lightly floured board (you may want to consider lightly flouring your hands as well as you work), pat the dough out into a disk.

From here the dough may be wrapped in plastic wrap then sealed in a plastic bag for storage in the freezer, rolled out further for a pie crust, or patted by hand into your preferred baking container.

Bake according to the directions for the pie you are making.

Historically In-accurate 18th Century Girl’s Gown

This weekend was busy with celebration and excitement because it was my birthday (I’m now 31!), and more importantly – we went to Colonial Williamsburg with the big girls dressed in their latest finery! The dresses and kerchiefs were made by me, but their caps were purchased at the Mary Dickinson Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. I also made red wool cloaks for them, but I will write a separate post about those and provide the link here once finished. Detailed descriptions, product links, and photos are below!

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Visiting the home of a dear historical friend, Mary Geddy (she was a real girl!).

Pattern: The kerchiefs had no pattern, they were large squares, on which I sewed a narrow hem all around. The “Princess Costume” pattern is M5731, and is from McCall’s, and I used View D. The pattern retails for $15.95, but the manufacturer has very frequent sales, and this pattern can often be purchased for around $4.

FabricThe majority of the dress is the dark blue floral stretch cotton sateen from Mood Fabrics. This print is also available with a white background. Product #119758, it is 55 inches wide, and $13.99 a yard. The description from their website is as follows: “A sense of imagination and whimsy went into the design featured throughout this Dark Blue Floral Stretch Cotton Sateen. Its smooth face presents a Jacobean pattern that grows wildly throughout the slightly luminous woven. Add the thin, medium weight woven to your spring and summer wardrobe in the form of trousers, sheath dresses and pencil skirts. A stretch through the weft provides the perfect fit in sleek silhouettes. Opaque, a lining is optional.” I don’t know if I would call this fabric “thin” though. It is quite crisp and dense, and just GORGEOUS. It was a delight to work with, and I want to buy more! The white kerchief and undersleeves are made from the optic white mercerized cotton shirting (product #107431) also available from Mood. I originally purchased this to make a shirt for myself but… #momlife happened and I used it for them instead. It is lovely, shockingly soft and silky, and a bit translucent. I plan on repurchasing this to someday make the shirt for myself that I’d originally planned. The white shirting is 56 inches wide and $15.99 a yard. The description from the website is as follows, “Do you remember that time you had that one specific shirt on in which never wanted to take off? Well, this mercerized cotton shirting is here to recreate that one of a kind feeling for you all over again. Mercerized cotton fabrics are far from your basic shirting as it goes through a process that increases the luster leaving you with a luxurious finish. This classic cotton woven will be a perfect addition to your basics and essentials. Extremely soft and smooth with a width of 56″ to 58″, construct this fabric into blouses, dresses, and of course your classic uniformed shirting. Note: This fabric can be machine washed as long as the water does not surpass 40 degrees Celsius and ironed at temperatures below 150 degrees Celsius. Do not tumble dry or bleach this material. This fabric can be dry cleaned with any solvent except tetrachlorethylene.” The lining for the bodices is some mystery fabric I pulled from the fabric stash given to me by my grandmother. It is some sort of thick, crisp, simple woven, presumably cotton.

Notions: Thread is all “polyester sew-all” from Gütermann, purchased at a Joann brick-and-mortar location. Colors 266, and 20. Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99).

Notes: As you can see, I opted to use the the same fabric for almost the entire gown, instead of the suggested contrast down the center. I didn’t use any lace or ruffles, and used white shirting for the undersleeves. I feel these patterns run quite large, and even though I did want “room to grow,” I still feel I could have gone down at least one size, as the costumes are lumped into only a few general sizing categories. My oldest is almost seven years old slightly large for her age, and is wearing a size 7/8 gown that had three inches taken in at the back and is still gaping open. Second-born is five and a half, average for her age, and wearing a 5/6 with the same problem. The front of the bodice is designed to be very low cut, which is period appropriate, however without a historically accurate chemise (or t-shirt and kerchief, in our case), combined with the fact I made them too large in the first place, would result in a lot of over-exposure. This is the reason why I added the kerchiefs to their costumes, as an easy hack to cover their chests until they grown into the gowns better. Despite this, I fully plan on using this pattern again, but going a full size down for each of them!

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Just young Colonial ladies, loyal to His Majesty the King, out for a stroll.
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First-Born getting a good twirl out of her luscious skirt!
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Taking a rest before shopping for day caps.

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Girl’s Six-Gore Jumper

Another addition to First-Born’s autumn wardrobe, and using the same fabric as the previous circle skirt. She has a thing for cats, if you didn’t already guess. We photographed this the weekend Hurricane Florence was tearing through North Carolina, our southern neighbor. While the weekend was a bit rainy and overcast, we were very fortunate to completely miss the storm after all. Nevertheless, she is ready for inclement weather in her Hunter boots, kindly handed-down by a young aunt.

Pattern: vintage Advance pattern, #8102, size 8. I don’t have a link for the manufacturer because the company is no longer in business, however they can often be found on eBay, Etsy, etc.

Fabric: blue cat embroidered cotton chambray by Mood. It is $13.99 a yard and 52/53 inches wide. The description from the website is as follows: “An ode to our feline friends, this Blue Cat Embroidered Cotton Chambray is a must have for any cat lover. Embroidered cats stand, stretch, and sit across a crisp cotton. Turn its stiffer drape into shirts, shirt dresses and darling flared skirts. Lightweight, it will surely add an element of fun to your spring/summer wardrobe. A lining may be desired as this thin woven is translucent.”

Notions: Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99). Thread is white polyester “sew-all” by Gütermann, purchased at Joann stores.

Extra Info: It has pockets!!! Also has a short zipper on the left side. The pattern called for sewing a placket, but I always prefer using an invisible zipper. This size is a bit large on her, but considering the fact that she still has a lot of growing to do, I didn’t feel it necessary to tailor this to fit.. she changes size/shape every few months!

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She’s better at posing than I am! You can see the zipper on her left if you look close.


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A little lady.


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Yup, it twirls!!


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A childhood well-spent, climbing trees and terrorizing insects.

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Hunting for bugs with Second-Born. Second-Born’s dress and shirt are from Gymboree, and hand-me-down Hunter boots as well.


 

Girl’s Mid-Century Circle Skirt

This is another garment for First-Born because she doesn’t have the advantage of having hand-me-downs ready to go when she has a sudden growth spurt. But don’t worry, Second-Born isn’t neglected: I’ve promised a very special project for her once I’ve finished filling out First-Born’s wardrobe.

Pattern: vintage Simplicity pattern #1741, size 8

Fabric: blue cat embroidered cotton chambray by Mood. It is $13.99 a yard and 52/53 inches wide. The description from the website is as follows: “An ode to our feline friends, this Blue Cat Embroidered Cotton Chambray is a must have for any cat lover. Embroidered cats stand, stretch, and sit across a crisp cotton. Turn its stiffer drape into shirts, shirt dresses and darling flared skirts. Lightweight, it will surely add an element of fun to your spring/summer wardrobe. A lining may be desired as this thin woven is translucent.”

Notions: Invisible zipper purchased in a mulitcolor bulk bargain bag from Amazon (40 zippers for $9.99). Thread is white polyester “sew-all” by Gütermann, purchased at Joann stores. I honestly don’t remember where I purchased the hook-and-eyes but they can be easily found for little money from any of the retailers I’ve already listed, or wherever sewing supplies are sold.

Extra Info: This was my first time using hook-and-eyes and I must admit, I did a rather shoddy job of installing it. But I’m deliberately leaving it as it is because I like having reminders of how far my sewing skills have come. I used to be a mess at installing zippers, and now I’m a pro. I actually enjoy seeing my old garments with poorly installed zippers, as they are proof that I am improving with every project. I also feel it is important for my children to see tangible evidence that their maternal role model isn’t afraid to try new things, and that it’s natural to not be good at a new skill… but that perseverance and cheerfulness fosters improvement.

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Girls’ Purple Playsuit

Pattern: Butterick pattern #B4176 ( currently in stock ) Retails for $10.95 but the Butterick website has very frequent sales, and as of this writing is being offered for $6.57, or $5.26 for club members.

Fabric: Mystery fabric from my grandmothers stash. Seems to have some cotton in it, but I suspect it is a cotton/poly blend. Lightweight, a bit translucent under certain light, fluid drape. In the photos the color looks ambiguous, but in person it is a solid purple.

Notions: Gütermann thread (Polyester sew-all color #320 Dusty Rose) button, rosettes, and bias tape are all from Joann Fabrics

Extras: The bizarre discoloration on her arms are actually Berenstain Bears temporary tattoos.

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If her gap-toothed grin is any indicator, First-Born is pleased with this new addition to her wardrobe in spite of its flaws. She immediately called dibs on this purple material after rummaging through the box of old fabric given to me by my grandmother. I decided an easy summer play suit would be a comfortable way to use this in her wardrobe. After completing the project, however, I must concede that this material does not look appealing in a bottomweight (in my humble opinon) application. The shirt is lovely, but the pants look like scrubs. I also initially made the waistband elastic too loose, hence the bottoms looking like long pants instead of capris in the above photos.

I also noticed lots of rippling in the seams, even though I lowered the tension on my machine to the lowest setting. In future, I’ve learned this weight might work better if reinforced with tissue paper while going through the machine.

All in all, this fulfilled her childish fancies and need for comfort in the summer heat. This was an easy and quick project (as advertised on the pattern sleeve) and I look forward to using this pattern again.20180807_090143

Cotton-Sateen Pleated Maternity Top

Pattern: Simplicity pattern #1472. This pattern in vintage (circa 1950s) and is not available on their website, but they frequently do reprints of their vintage patterns, so check them out!

Fabric: Mood Fabrics Theory Sand and Mother Goose Striped Cotton-Elastane Sateen. Product #304849. Currently still in stock. The description on their website reads, “Glossy, yet sophisticated, perfect for business attire! Here we have a classy, light-weight, cotton and elastane blended sateen in a fantastic, almost tone on tone, sand and mother goose colored stripe. The feel of this material will leave you breathless due to its silky smooth and excitingly soft hand. With its crisp drape and superb on directional stretch, this material could be used to create a gorgeous blouse, dazzling pants, fantastic formal or casual dresses, and more!”

  • 59″ wide
  • $9.99 a yard

Notions: Thread (Gütermann Polyester Sew-All color #506 Sand currently in stock )and buttons (similar here) purchased in-store at Joann Fabrics

Extras: Skirt is also made by me (a maternity skirt using a vintage pattern) but I’ve lost track of the details.20180803_175127.jpg20180803_17502020180803_180015.jpg

As discussed in my previous post, I’ve learned to appreciate the virtues of pleating! This fabric is a dream to work with and very affordable. By the time I got around to finishing this project, I was no longer pregnant. However, this piece is extremely convenient for breastfeeding in public, and for masking my changing post-partum figure. In this current culture climate, I feel it is necessary for me to emphasize that this isn’t meant to criticize post-partum bodies, but simply to share the convenience this piece offers to those of us who like privacy, and don’t enjoy clingy clothes.

The only downside to this top is that it has the tendency of blowing up, up, and away in a breeze. A tank top underneath may be a wise addition on blustery days.

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And here is the top in its natural habitat: squished up against a mischievous child that is focusing all her energy on preventing me from eating my lunch at a local Colombian restaurant (I ordered the bandeja paisa con carne asada for those of you that care). Second-Born looks on, proud of her protégé.

Girls’ Pleated Floral Jumper

PatternSimplicity pattern #4860. This pattern is vintage (circa 1950s), and is not available on their website, but they frequently do reprints of their vintage patterns, so check them out!

Fabric: Mystery fabric featuring various shades of pink roses on a blue/almost periwinkle background (from an old stash given to me by my grandmother). I’m guessing it’s cotton (possibly voile?) or maybe a cotton/poly blend. It is lightweight, and has a very fluid drape, more so than I’m used to seeing with woven cottons, is nearly opaque, and doesn’t wrinkle! I’ve washed it several times now, and NEVER needed to iron it. I wish I knew what this material was so I could look for more.

Notions: Buttons from Joann Fabrics 

Extras: Pink shirt is from Gymboree (currently still in stock: pink polo ) and jelly shoes are from Walmart (purchased in-store, and I can’t locate them on the website, but here is a similar pair in a smaller size: clear jellies)

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When I first decided on using this fabric from my stash, I was apprehensive due to my limited (nonexistent, actually) knowledge of the material. It is so lightweight, I feared I would invest all this time making the outfit and have it rip after a couple wears. Thankfully this has not been the case! It has held up gloriously to play, washing in the machine, and hasn’t ever wrinkled! I’m truly shocked.

This was my first time working with pleats. It was certainly tedious, but the result is so polished and unique that I think I’m now hooked on the technique. The only thing I need to do to improve the look is make a proper petticoat to fluff up the voluminous skirt to its full potential, especially since this material is so fluid and doesn’t really have any body of its own. A stiffer poplin, sateen, etc might provide enough structure to wear on its own, but truly… frilly petticoats make everything better, don’t they?

Here are a few more pictures for your inspiration, and Pinterest needs:20180602_103855.jpg

First-Born opted for alternating pastel blue and white buttons down the back.20180807_090101.jpg

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