Two small things that make a big difference. First, the sewing project. It was nothing hard, just the curtains for Liam's room. The fabric was a flat fold from Ikea and I didn't even cut it except for length. Just sewed a pocket on the top, lined it with blackout material, and hemmed the sides and bottom. I didn't get a photo taken today, but will. It's bright fabric with lots of animals on it. Top left in this (annoyingly lousy) catalog picture. Anyway, the new curtains, plus finally putting up a few of the photos and posters we've had ready for a long time and Liam's room seems transformed to me.
Second thing, and this will sound strange: oil pie crust instead of butter. We get our pies here, and they are seriously good. We love the pie lady so very much; we're in there once a month at least. And always at Art Walk because her friend Mimi Williams is there. Lovely. The other day I asked in what I thought was a rhetorical sense, "how do you get the bottom crust so crisp, mine are always a disappointment?" And she blurted out "oil; it's soybean oil so it's healthy for you!" And then she looked sort of sheepish, like she hadn't meant to share the secret. (Or maybe because it is hard to view pie as healthy soybean oil or not.)
Anyway, I didn't say anything else about it and off I went with my pies. Later, I looked it up on the Internet (what, what did we do without it), and this weekend oil pie crust was tried in two forms. Double crust cherry pie with canola oil and all white flour worked okay. It didn't taste oily; bottom crisped up great; top was brown, and my only real complaint is that the crimped edges got tough. Cheese quiche with olive oil and half whole wheat flour worked slightly better. You can taste the olive oil, but that was the idea. Again edges got tough.
For comparison I just ate a piece of lemon sour cream pie from the pie lady (it was to die for), and the edges were not tough. I think I'll bake at a lower temperature next time. We'll see. It's fast, there's no fussy cutting together of the flour and butter or, even worse, hauling out the Cuisinart. If any of you'd like to experiment here's the ratio I used: 2 and 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift first, so this is a scant 2 and 3/4 cup), generous pinch salt, 1/2 cup milk (I used whole), 1/2 cup oil. Mix it up. Form into a ball. Chill for 30 minutes or so, and roll out. If you're careful, you can just roll it out on a floured board. If you're worried about it, roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Like any pie crust, don't over handle it. Bake according to whatever you're doing, except the next time I do it, I'm going to try to not get the over over 400 degrees. Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips. Neat!