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Not to make a bad pun, but my July is getting off to a bang-up start. I've been on the run for the past couple of days. It's been a long time since I've had so much on my calendar...I'm thinking since I retired ten years ago...but so far, I'm off to a good start. We're celebrating our Fourth of July tomorrow as we usually do, setting up camp on the East Bank of the Willamette River, barbecuing, spending time with the kids, and waiting for the fireworks at dusk. It's among my favorite days of the year.

My contribution this year is a layered taco-style dip and chips that always goes over well. Also, I'm making a Sweet Potato Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing that is to die for. I already had a 7-Layer Salad on the menu when I received the most amusing text from Erik:

Yep...it's his favorite. How could I not make it? Finally, this morning I tried out a new recipe for blueberry hand pies that I saw on the King Arthur website. I wasn't sure how well I would do with the pie crust, but it couldn't have been easier. Still, I made it a day ahead just to be sure.

I was wishing I'd had a small star-shaped cookie cutter but I didn't. I cut these with the blade of my paring knife, which accounts for their "rustic" appearance. Still, I'm pretty happy with these. You can find the recipe right here. I couldn't find the instant ClearJel locally, and so I substituted two teaspoons of cornstarch that was first dissolved in the two teaspoons of lemon juice. It worked out fine. 

Also, I did the whole pie crust in my food processor using the steel blade. I whirled it around to mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, then cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes and pulsed until the butter was cut in fairly well, but it was still in relatively large chunks. Then I added the sour cream and pulsed until the butter was pea-sized. It was still quite crumbly, but I dumped it out onto the floured surface and then just worked it together with my hands. It was very forgiving, and I had no problems at all with it. You'll want to work fast if you live in a warm climate, however. I happened to be blessed with an overcast and relatively cool day today.

Erik's salad is made, as are the hand pies. Tomorrow I'll do the other two dishes, and then we'll head down to the river early in the afternoon to stake out our claim to some prime fireworks-watching real estate.

As for sewing, I had a little finish yesterday. It's a gift, and so I can't show it yet, but here's a little peek. Who's it for, I wonder? (I'm betting you thought I would know.)

With that finished, I went to work sandwiching my Blooming Sunflower. I'm so happy with how this is turning out, and it's going much faster than I anticipated.

I pebbled in the center of the sunflower.

Then I quilted some veins into the leaves.

Then I quilted some sort of "flaming" petals emanating from the center of the flower with a flourish at the end of each one. I wanted to evoke the appearance of sunshine coming from the sunflower.

And a round of applause for Big Bertha who didn't even hiccup over all those seams. I'm so happy to have her back at work.

I'm hoping to get a little more done on this tomorrow. I just have the border left to do, and I'm going to do a sort of sunflower vine there. It's only 36 x 36 inches, and so it shouldn't take long to get the quilting finished.

So that's about it from me. I'll be very surprised if I find time for blogging tomorrow, and so I'm wishing my fellow Americans a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration. And for the rest of you...well, you have an excellent day too!

12 comments from clever and witty friends:

Cath said...

Barbara, wishing you and your family a Happy 4th of July! Your BS quilt is looking GOOD.....Big Bertha is a wonderful assistant.
Cath @ Bits 'n Bobs

Vroomans' Quilts said...

Blueberry hand pies - yummo! The Sunflower quilt looks great and glad BB is behaving. Happy 4th

Ann Bassett said...

Hope you have a happy 4th of July. I'm loving your Sunflower quilt and the quilting is wonderful. Thanks for sharing your projects.

Dana Gaffney said...

Happy 4th of July! I love what you're doing with the sunflower, it looks great.
Glad you remembered the 7 layer salad, LOL.

gpc said...

Whoever your surprise finish is for, they are very lucky! The sunflower quilt turned out so well, but so does every thing you touch. Your blueberry hand pies look fabulous -- I loved the cranberry hand pie recipe I got from you and made them several times, so you have high credibility with me when it comes to food!

Quilting Babcia said...

Hope you enjoy a beautiful yummy day! Will have to try those hand pies, our blueberry bushes are loaded with fruit this year, best harvest we've ever had.

Jacque said...

The recipient of that surprise is a lucky ducky! So cute! And did we mention that we like your seven layer salad, too? (Recipe is in my stash!) I'm drooling over the sunflower...really looking wonderful.
Happy, happy July Fourth! Here's hoping we get to celebrate many more!

Dar said...

Your food for the 4th sounded yummy. Wish I were closer to sample those blueberry hand pies. Love what you've done with the sunflower quilt. It looks like something I would love to make when I get time. Afterall, being from the sunshine state makes it almost a necessity that I make room for one of these, right? Happy 4th to you and your family.

Tami C said...

Yes, Eric sure did mention the seven layer salad! Your Fourth of July celebration sure sounds great! You did a great job with your paring knife. I love their rustic appearance!

I really like how your Blooming Sunflower is turning out. I love how you pebbled the center of your sunflower! I might just have to do one of these quilts too! Great news to hear how Big Bertha is working wonderfully again!

Happy Independence Day!

quiltzyx said...

Yum, do those hand pies look delish! I spent the day with my friend Mary Ann (Auntie's Ceramics) and her husband at their house. We had zucchini cooked with ground beef, mushrooms & cheese, potato salad, corn on the cob, grilled hot dogs & stuffed hamburgers. She just got a "Stufz", that you used for the burgers. I was doing that part & even tho' I read the whole directions, we about gave up & did them by hand! You take a ball of burger & put it into the contraption, then push a 'plunger' down that shapes it into a bowl shape. Add in stuffings (pre-cooked), then spread more burger on the top, tamp it again, then out it comes. Well, following the directions, it kept splitting the burger open again! Finally figured out if I did this, that wouldn't happen. Of course, that was on the 3rd one. (After I was home that night, I found a video by the inventor, and realized what I was doing wrong! Next time will be a cinch!) The burgers were delicious. Mine just had mushrooms, cheddar & jack cheese. Mary Ann's & her husband's had sautéed bell pepper, onions, mushrooms & crumbled bleu cheese. They didn't shrink very much & were nice & juicy, while still being cooked enough for Mary Ann (Mrs. WELL DONE!).
We watched the fireworks from San Diego on TV, while protecting the dogs. :)

Brown Family said...

THe hand pies look great! I need to make Mom's fried apricot pies! Love the test. I got one last Thanksgiving asking if I knew how to make my mothers fruit salad. I took the hint!

Kate said...

I've already asked My Guy to make the blueberry hand pies, he's the baking genius in our house.

The quilting on the Blooming Sunflower looks great.

Hope you had a wonderful 4th!