Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Legacy of Card Games

Wysiwyg in the cards

We've always tried to institute "Family Game Night", but that rarely happens, with the kids' crazy schedules, especially now that Adam is in high school and has a girlfriend (!!?!!). But there's always time for a card game with them and sometimes a cat too.

Apparently lots of people believe in playing card games and passing it on to their children. Here are two examples from This I BelieveMy Legacy of Playing Games and The Cards Will Hear You.

Growing up, I played a few card games with friends, but having no siblings, I mostly spent time making up my own Solitaire games. When I went to college, I spent many hours playing Cribbage and Canasta with a friend who was also an only child but was fortunate to play with her grandmother. By the time I started work, I got hooked on Hearts and Spades, getting really good at counting cards. I loved the rush of shooting the moon in Hearts, hence my username, moonfever0, as well as bidding a zero hand in Spades. Our games were mostly civilized but sometimes borderline violent!

Violent card games? Here's a play-by play of one of our cribbage games becoming violent:
  1. Adam (in green) and Dova (in red) were tied for the lead at 114 (back pegs as shown).
  2. I (in blue) was trailing at 107 (not shown).
  3. I led off with 7.
  4. Dova also played a 7, giving her 2 points for the pair (red peg as shown).
  5. Adam played another 7, giving him 6 points for the double pair and landing him in the dead hole closest to the finish (green peg as shown).
  6. I came back triumphantly with the last 7, giving me 12 points for the four of a kind (back blue peg).
  7. It was a Go for Dova, and a Go for Adam, and then I put down a 3 for 31, 2 points and the win (blue peg in the winning hole)!
  8. At this point, Adam kicked Dova for the first 7 she put down and she flew off the bed (bed shown in the first photo). All mayhem ensued!
  9. I quickly grabbed the board so I could photograph this momentous occasion! (no players were actually harmed)
Cribbage sudden death

Just because card games are low tech, doesn't mean that the kids can't find high tech ways to cheat. Once when I was a work, the kids were playing 3-way spades with the nanny, and I got this text message exchange from Dova:


When Adam got wind that I saw Dova's hand, he texted:


At least I never lied to Adam. Without doubt, Dova overbid and ending up sandbagging two points.

Playing cards clearly sharpens their minds and teaches them life lessons on losing gracefully (still working on that!). Most importantly, it gives them a lifelong activity that they can pass down to their children too. Long live card games!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crochet Mini Stocking POP!

Crochet Christmas Stocking Pop!

Eight years ago, I embarked on a pursuit to create hand-knit ornaments as gifts. That lasted exactly two pairs of mini-mittens, which both ended up on our Christmas tree.

Dova models mini-mittens

Yes, that's chubby Dova 8 years ago!

I gave up the notion of giving away hand-knit ornaments, but when I saw the Mini Stocking POP! pattern by Vickie Howell on Jo-Ann fabrics for crochet stockings, I was more than game to add to our own knit ornament collection.


Their pattern calls for two colors, but I simply used all the colors from the extra yarn for Dova's Crochet American Girl doll blankets and came up with the one you see here. It was fun and easy to make, a little weird around the heel, but no one's going to wear it, so no matter!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Anytime Mini Apple Pies

Mini apple pie and spoon

Thanksgiving is the time of year for those scrumptious pies, especially apple pie! But what if you want home-baked apple pie any time of the year without peeling six apples and having too many leftovers? Here's an easy way to make a single serving of fresh apple pie any time in minutes.

They key is to have some of the ingredients like the pie crust and sugar mixture handy for when that apple pie craving strikes. When making large pies, I always save the extra crust cut off from the edges. There are always several balls of crust kicking around my freezer. For the sugar mixture, I mix it up ahead of time and save it in a jar.

Apple pie sugar mix

Mix the following ingredients together for the apple pie sugar mixture (this is basically what I use for a full apple pie):
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • dash allspice
  • dash cloves
First, preheat the oven to 375°F, or for a toaster oven, 350°F (you'll see why in a few pictures). Roll out the pie crust with plenty of flour until it is about 1/8" thick. Then take a ramekin which you will use to bake your mini apple pie and cut out a round piece of crust.

Ramekin template

Peel and slice one apple and place it in the ramekin. Usually when making large pies, I use the wonder peeler, Starfrit Pro-Apple Peeler, but for one apple, I'll opt for an old-fashioned knife.

Spoon two to three tablespoons of the sugar mixture over the apple and stir to coat. Three tablespoons is the same ratio used for a full pie, and two tablespoons is the slightly healthier but no less tasty version ;).

Apples in ramekins

Fit the pie crust over the apples. Yes, only one crust for each pie, makes it healthier right?

Happy apple pies

Place the pies over foil in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes (they may bubble over), or until the crust is golden brown. These were done in a toaster oven, so they are a bit extra brown.

Mini apple pies in oven

Most importantly, enjoy!

Mini apple pie

Happy Thanksgiving! Save those pie crust pieces!
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