For the record, I do not remember the last time I had a birthday party. My husband was shocked when I told him I wanted one this year.

He said something like, “You’ve never wanted a party.”

“Well I do now.”

“Really?…OK.”

“Maybe I just want to have people over, and my birthday is a good excuse.”

“Why do you need an excuse?”

“I dunno…”

So I invited a dozen of my best friends, made a boat-load of sweet potato salad, and bought brats, hotdogs, fruit and booze.

 

Then I got all Pinterest-y and picked up mason jars, paper straws and napkins from Target.
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The little flags are washi-tape and they double as drink-identifying name tags. Yeah, I know…it’s almost too cute for an adult party.
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Mmmm. Mojitos and Sangria. Happy happy birthday!

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Mojitos are my favorite summer drink. Limes are freaking expensive though, so this was a treat :)

The sangria was a piece of cake. Just mix and serve:

  • 2 bottles dry red wine.
  • 1.75 liters pineapple-orange juice
  • 1 cup brandy
  • Sliced fruit
  • Ice

Easy. Done. But, next time I’ll double it to fill up the drink dispenser. I did not realize it would hold so much. And I should have known my friends would be thirsty enough to drink it all…

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Some of my pottery made an appearance.

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And my friends’ little boy needed an activity, so he picked flowers for the table.

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I had so much fun. Not in the Woooo it’s my birthdaaaaay kinda fun. I am not 21…But I got to see a few people who I don’t get to see that often anymore.  And I ate enough sweet potato salad for 4 people, and drank delicious drinks, and laughed for hours. It was awesome.

Then I nursed my hangover all afternoon on Sunday. But it was totally worth it, so I guess I’m not too old to have fun. :D

I don’t know if there is anything I love as much as pie. Tender, flaky crust. Sweet fruity filling. Maybe some ice cream on the side…mmmm.

Pie was like the best dessert when I was growing up. Grandma always made pie for holidays…still does, and always will. :)

But I don’t make it very often for myself. Why? Well for one thing, it’s a pain in the butt. (The whole keeping the dough chilled, cutting in the butter, rolling it out…and I have hardly any workspace for that kind of thing.) And also, I refuse to get those canned fruit things from the grocery store. See, I was raised on home-grown, processed and prepared pies. I can’t stand a commercially-made or (god help me) frozen grocery-store pie. Blech. (I did at one time consider buying the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust. Then I read the ingredients. And as Grumpy Cat would say, “No.”)

Yes, I’m a pie elitist.

So, these days I don’t have a garden, or fruit trees, and I live in town. I suppose I could go driving around the local country roads to try to find wild blackberries or plums, but ain’t nobody got time for that. But there is one fruit around right now that nobody seems to want…probably because they have no idea how awesome it is.

mulberries

Mulberries.

And they’re everywhere around here. Usually not in a focal part of a landscape, but still everywhere. Fencerows, alleyways, parks, golf courses… I have one tree growing through the fence between me and my neighbor’s yard, but the branches are too high to reach. So I checked a couple parks. Hit the jackpot just across the street at the local arboretum/cross country course. Found a couple dozen trees, most bearing tasty fruit.

*Mulberries will often mutate in the wild, so taste the fruit on each tree to see if it’s worth harvesting. Sometimes they’re different colors. I found one tree with light purple fruit that was extra mild and sweet, but I also found a tree with pretty, dark fruit that was sour…edible, but not worth the trouble.

There are a couple objections I’ve heard to mulberries that could explain some of why they aren’t popular.

  1. Seeds are annoying. But I didn’t really notice them. I guess it varies from tree to tree.
  2. Stems are weird. Yeah, those little green stems made me think twice, but they’re soft, and softened more when they were cooked. Didn’t even notice them.
  3. They don’t last. Yeah, after picking you only have a day or two to do something with them. They don’t have much of a shelf (or refrigerator) life.
  4. No one values free stuff. True dat.

However, they are super nutritious and have a nice, mild fruit flavor.

 

Now, on to the pie!

Instructions:

Start with your favorite pie crust recipe.

The filling: 3 cups mulberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour. Toss to coat the mulberries. Taste to make sure you used enough sugar.

Assemble the pie. Bake 350° for 1 hour. Eat. Repeat. ;)

mulberry pie   baked mulberry pie   mulberry pie

Mulberry picking methods:

Option1:

You’ll need a basket, your fingers, and patience. The first time I went out to pick mulberries I hand-picked every single one. It took forever to get enough for a pie. (And I had a second pair of hands who condescended I bribed to help me with the task.)

Option 2:

Get a tarp/sheet/or whatever and lay it under a branch. Shake the bejesus out of the branch. Glory in the rain of mulberries that shower down upon you. Or stand out of the way. The juice will stain.

This option took half the time to gather twice the mulberries, and I did it alone. However, be prepared to bring home more than mulberries. I ended up with a bunch of bugs, sticks and leaves, so I had to spend more time picking through and washing them. Kind of a trade-off, but it worked for me.

harvesting mulberries

 

So, yeah, this was totally fun. I don’t know if I’m going to turn into one of those crazy urban foragers, or if this kind of thing will be restricted to mulberries. Although, while I was traipsing around the arboretum I did see several elderberry bushes… Elderberry wine, anyone?

 

 

*If you aren’t familiar with wild food DO NOT EAT IT. Get yourself an ID guide to wild plants or look it up elsewhere on the Internet. Again, if you do not know what it is, do not put it in your mouth. (And that warning could probably apply to anything you read on a nutrition label, too.) This post is for inspiration and entertainment only. I assume no responsibility whatsoever for any adverse effects encountered by the individual. Please harvest wild edibles at your own risk!

instagram 6-04-13

 

Last week we neglected to celebrate our 2-year anniversary of home-ownership….Oops!
But summer has officially begun now that Dave is out of school for the next few months, and I’m going to put him to work! I’m sure I’ll have more to share now that we will have some free time (and good weather) to work on house projects.

instagram 1-27-13

well hello. i sure have been away for awhile. looky all the pretty things i instagrammed in the last 4 months. i’ve been doing lots of baking and latte art at work, pottery, and eating yummy food.

 

I started this stupid project a year ago. I got so frustrated with it that I threw everything in a bag and threw the bag in a closet. But fall crept up on us this past week—it’s damn chilly when I walk to work at 6:30 am. So I’ve had snugly, cozy things on my mind. I remembered this sweater blanket. So I dug it out, and realized that it was actually almost done.

So I powered through, and it didn’t end up too puckered—it’s way better than some (not all) I’ve seen online.

 

All the sweaters I used were ugly and oversized from local thrift stores. (Some were stained…I cut around the stains, but the photo looks a bit off. I think the white just reflected all the other colors in the room.) I originally wanted to find a bunch of wool sweaters and felt them, because Dave destroyed one of his sweaters by putting it in the dryer, and I wanted to use it for something. But wool was really hard to find! So these are all cotton (some might be a blend). No 100% acrylic. Acrylic is yucky. I washed and dried all the sweaters when I brought them home. Threw the finished blanket in the dryer for awhile to get rid of some of the fuzzies from the cut ends. So I have hopes that it’ll be relatively durable.

I don’t know if the stitching technique I used has a name, but basically I used the widest zigzag stitch setting on my machine, and sewed the pieces together with about 1/2″ of overlap. Not right sides together like for quilting, but one on top of the other. And making sure to stitch close to the edge of the one piece, then I went back and stitched close to the edge of the other piece. So each connection has 2 lines of stitching—it holds the raw edges down, and makes the seam sturdier and a bit smoother. There’s a couple crazy spots, but oh well—it’s warm!

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