Friday, December 31, 2010

Wow, 2011 and resolutions

I can't believe I've been away so long. It's been nice, but busy. I've done a lot of sewing and baking. I've spent tons of time with the kids and of course there's work and just every day life. I hope all has been well with you all and that 2011 brings you all that you hope for.
Well, 2010 is almost behind us and 2011 await, bright and shiny, full of promise. I'm excited about my future. I have lots of plans.
Fitness wise, I'm going to recommit myself to eating mindfully and getting in regular exercise. It's been a challenge, but I think I've found a remedy and have no more excuses not to get moving. I'm running a 5K tomorrow so I think that's a great way to kick this off.
Craft wise I'm going to make 2011 the year that I focus on sewing for me. I love beautiful clothes but often find myself wearing my uniform of jeans and tshirts. I want to kick it up a notch. I want to work on tailoring and fitting clothes. Maybe I'll take a class or maybe I'll just crack a book. Either way I want to sew more for myself. I also want to get a jump on my holiday sewing. I've found that I do enjoy quilting, but I'm incredibly slow and if I want to have all the quilts I have planned finished in any reasonable amount of time I'm either going to need to sew faster or start earlier. Since I've never been about speed I guess I'll have to get a jump on it. I want to make quilts for several family members and also a couple for me. I want to do a few table runners, maybe a wall hanging or two. Well, see. I also want to finish knitting "The February Lady Sweater". It will probably take me all year,lol. Mainly though, I want to use what I have. I have a lot of fabric and as tempting as it is to purchase all the new stuff, I need to resist and sew from my stash.
Frugality, I need to embrace this. Less really is more. Sometimes when you have so much it's difficult to appreciate what you have and I never want to take anything for granted. Less consumerism in every aspect of my life.
Family, I want to continue to try to be the best parent I can and to pay attention to what each member needs. I want to be loving, gentle and kind.
That's alot and should keep me busy well into 2012...and beyond!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Priorities

You may have noticed that lately I haven't been the faithful blogger I once was. My life has changed so much in the last year and along with it, so have my priorities. I still love to craft and cook. In fact I find myself doing it even more lately. What I find though is I don't have as much time to document my various projects. I want to keep my blog going since it's a great way to keep a record of the things I've done (when I remember to post pictures). I've also met some amazing people through the world of blogging. I just don't want to feel the pressure to have to blog anymore. So, I will be retiring my Monday meal feature. Oh, I'll still share recipes from time to time, of course. I'll still post about my crafting too, I just am going to be honest and say that I don't have to ability to do it all and for now blogging is going to be less of a priority. I hope that you all will still stop by occassionally and see how I'm doing, I'll still be here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday's Meal

In an effort to scale back on my dining out expenditures, I have been trying to cook more takeout style food at home. It's cheaper and healthier. Here's a do at home version of Asian Lettuce recipes.


16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves
1 pound lean ground pork (or beef)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons minced pickeled ginger
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil
shredded carrots for topping

Directions
Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger and vinegar to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat and top with carrots, enjoy!


Sauce for dipping
1 tsp seasame oil
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chili paste
Mix together in blender and serve.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday's Meal

Here's a recipe for you to put in a jar and give as a gift. Not only is tasty, but it looks pretty too.

Cranberry Hootycreeks

5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions
Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed.

Attach a tag with the following instructions: Cranberry Hootycreeks 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. 2. In a medium bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets. 3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown. Cool on baking sheets, or remove to cool on wire racks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday's Meal

For the past several years I've made a point to focus on the less is more philosophy during the holidays and beyond. I've also tried to use my love of crafting to spread that belief among my friends and families. This year I've been doing less knitting and more sewing, but all the same I'll still be doing a fair bit of handcrafted gifts this year. One of my favorite gifts to hand out is "mixes in a jar". Love them! I'm going to share one of my favorites that makes the base for a ton of delicious chocolate desserts. This recipe will yield 15 cups of mix, enough for several jars to gifts for the holiday. Over the next few weeks I'll share several recipes that you can use this brownie mix in. It makes it so special to attach a hand written recipe card to the jars and share them with those you care about during the holidays.

Brownie Mix

6 cups all-purpose
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp salt
8 cup sugar
1 can of unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, whisking together until evenly mixed. Store in airtight containers. Be sure to date content. Store in a cool, dry place and use within 12 weeks.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

What to report? Not much. Holding steady. Still needing to figure out the exercise/life thing. I've been seriously considering dropping my gym membership. I will probably make a decision by the first of the year. Don't think I'm giving up on exercise. It's just that everything I keep reading talks about walking being the perfect inexpensive do anywhere workout and I'm thinking that's just what I should do. Except I like variety. So, I'm going to give myself the time to decide what works best for me. The cool thing about the Y is that you can rejoin without too much fuss or muss. Otherwise I'm doing better about snacking. Still need to find time to drink more water.
I'm a work in progress. I'm still 20 lbs from my goal. But, perhaps I'll make it there in 2011.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

It's been a few weeks since I posted one. I guess from that you can guess either I haven't been focusing on fitness or I've been overwhelmingly busy. I have to confess it's a bit of both, sort of. I've been focusing more on getting my diet back on track and getting into a good routine with my new schedule. I'm a creature of habit and love my routine, so the last couple months have been huge for me. I'm working on it though. Also I sometime feel with diet and exercise I can only focus on doing one thing really well and for now I've been spending some time on the food thing. I feel like in my daily life I get a bit of moderate exercise just by the sheer fact of my occupation and lifestyle. Of course I want it to be more high intensity, but I'll get there. One thing at a time. So, I've been spending a bit of time refocusing and reconnecting with why I eat, what I eat and when I eat. I've also checked in with Dr. Beck's book (she of the think like a thin person philosophy). I've been making efforts to pack a healthy lunch with healthy snacks. Drink my water and such. It's a process. Once I feel like I've gotten firmly back in the saddle I can shift my focus to intensifying my workouts. For now, I'll count on my pedometer for a reference as to how active I really am. I guess the real point is to stay mindful and focused so that's what I'm doing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hello Lady!!!

I fancy myself a knitter, but I rarely knit much beyond socks, dishcloths and scarves. I decided after scoring a gorg shade of green wool yarn on clearance I should make myself something. Now granted it will probably be next year before I finish, but I'm going for it. I've decided to make myself the February Lady Sweater. I love the description from the designer. It's a sweater meant for a grown ass woman, lol. That's me! I've already cast on and started on the collar. I'm really going to have to pay attention and perhaps take notes or something, because I have a bad habit of stopping a project for an extended period and forgetting where I am. I'll share my progress along the way. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday's Meal

You may have read that I've started a new job that is wrecking havoc with all the free time I had previously (yeah, right). Well this week's recipe isn't a recipe at all. It's a recipe source that I just adore and I know that you will too. It's Campbell Kitchen. I mean who doesn't have a can of soup hanging around? Soup can be the basis for a ton of delicous and quick recipes. I can't tell you how many times I've been scratching my head, stumped at what to fix for dinner. Just a click on the net, pop open a can and dinner is served. Check it out...you're going to love it too.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday's Meal

When I was young I don't remember stopping at the local donut place very often when we wanted a sweet treat. But, I do remember making delicious donuts at home. It's much easier than you can imagine and a ton more tastier. Give it a try. You can mix your dough in the bread machine or use a mixer. If you use the bread machine like I do just add the ingredients as recommended by your machine manufacturer (usually liquids, then dry ingredients and the yeast last). Let me know how yummy they are!

Divinely Delicious Donuts

2 (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart vegetable oil for frying

1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons hot water or as needed


Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
n a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, rolling out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter (or you can use the edge of a glass combined with a shot glass in a pinch). Cover loosely with a cloth and let rise again until doubled in size. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large dutch oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). While oil is heating, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is thin, but not watery. Set aside. When the oil is ready, gently add doughnuts using a spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Monday's Meal

Sorry I was late. I had a busy day yesterday. But this is a goody and a cinch for a busy mom to through together in a pinch. Although it calls to mind Asian cuisine, this version is pure American although merged with Italian. Don't ask me why it's called Chop Suey!

Turkey Chop Suey

1 box of your favorite small type of pasta )
1 pound ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
salt and pepper to the taste
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 celery stalk, minced
1 jar of beef gravy
Parmesan to top

Preheat oven to 350. degrees. Cook the pasta according to package directions. While that’s cooking, add a bit of oil to a large skillet, heat of over medium heat. Add the meat, onion, celery, garlic and spices of your choice, and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and no longer pink. Drain meat, if necessary, and return to pan. Add sauce, tomatoes, and gravy to meat mixture, mixing well. Drain noodles, add meat mixture, stir well. Transfer to a casserole dish, top with Parmesan cheese. Cook in preheated oven for 30 mins.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monday's Meal

Awesome with or without a little vodka added, lol.

Strawberry Lemonade


3/4 cups white sugar
7 cups water
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups of ice
1 1/2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup sugar for strawberries

Directions

1. Wash and quarter the strawberries. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and stir in the sugar and set aside to allow the strawberries time to release juices.
2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from stove and let cool a bit.
3. Remove seeds from lemon juice, but leave pulp. In pitcher, stir together sugar mixture, ice, lemon juice and remaining 6 cups water. Stir well, then add in the sweetened strawberries, stir and serve chilled.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's going on?

I don't think I fully realized what all goes into being a good and faithful blogger. I've been slacking lately. First with the camera issue and now it's just finding the time to actually write about my crafting efforts and life in general. I've been doing a fair bit of domestic pursuits lately though. It's just I can't seem to find the time to photograph and write about them since I'm so busy doing. I've finished E's quilt and a ton of quilt blocks for swaps. I'm hard at work on my Glam Garden project for TMQG. I also started on M.'s quilt which is a super fun and punchy pattern from the people over at FunQuilts called "Plain Spoken". I started off using Amish colors, but added a few colors that might have strayed away from that but still work really well with this solid colored quilt. There's some really stunning examples on flickr and I think M. is going to love the finished product. I'm having fun piecing it on my Singer Featherweight 221. Such a perfect stitch and oh so cute!
I have a lunch bag cut out for myself out of some Amy Butler laminated cottons. I also need to decide on a pattern and search my stash for the fabric to make a dress or skirt to wear to a wedding I'm attending next month. Hopefully I'll finish up M's quilt and then I can start on the dress. I don't want to have too many UFO's going at once.
Anyway, I guess I'm still trying to adjust to my new schedule and trying to find a good balance. Just know I'm still here.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday's Meal

I love fish and this is a dish that never fails to satisfy.

Baked Tilapia

1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
4 tilapia fillets


Preheat oven to 375 degree. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Stir together the mustard and the hoisin sauce. Place panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat both sides of fish fillet with mustard mixture. Dredge both sides in fish fillets with bread crumbs. Place fillets on prepared baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until fish is flaky and tender.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Well, holding steady here. However, as you can see from the amount of blogging I've been doing lately I haven't quite worked out my new schedule. I've only made it to the gym twice this week, and I did not get up early any of the other days and try and work out. I'm going to try again this week. I did look through the programing on exercise tv on demand to see what I might do. I think if I can get up and do a 30 min workout that would be a great start. There's quite a few offering on there. On the food front, not to bad. Although I'm somewhat addicted to McD's smoothies. I looked it up and it isn't too bad calorie wise I just don't think it's terribly nutritious. I'll have to work on that. I've slipped a bit with the food journaling so that will be a goal this upcoming week. Also I think I should start checking in on Sparkspeople again. It's a very motivating site. Anyway, I keep on keeping on. Have a healthy week!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

This is my first week at the new job and I have to admit I haven't quite figured out how to work and workout on the same day. I know lots of people do it. They get up early or go after work. I guess I just have to make the decision and then follow through. The real challenge for me is that I'm not one of those people who just loves exercising so I will use any excuse not to go. I guess I will try getting up early next week and working out before work. I was used to getting up at 5 am, so that shouldn't be that different. I can work out for an hour and then get ready to start my day. Anyway, I made it to the gym 3 times this week. I'm also down a couple of pounds. I have cut out a few things from my diet that shouldn't have been there anyway and that's helped. I'll keep working on the other things. I've been following the plan put forth from my coaching connection coach. He has me using weights and doing cardio to target the areas I want to improve. So, far, so good.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday's Meal

Blondie's, I really like them. Sometimes I want a change from a chocolaty dessert and a blondie really fits the bill.


1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups white chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Put the sugar in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small skillet or in the microwave in a glass measuring cup. Stir the butter into the sugar until smooth, cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in another medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.
Beat the eggs and vanilla into the sugar mixture. Add the flour mixture a bit at a time and mix until a smooth thick batter forms. Fold in the chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared dish.Bake until the blondies are light brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Change is in the air

For the last 8 years I have worked every weekend with a great bunch of ladies. I'm going to be leaving them soon. I can't express the dread I feel. They are so much a part of my life and my every day that I can't imagine not seeing them on a regular basis anymore. I haven't talked much about my new endeavor. It's not that I'm not excited...I am...it's just well these are my girls! I don't know how I'll get by without them to talk to each weekend. I don't want to think about it. Just typing this I have tears in my eyes. I don't know who will share my life, who will understand my special brand of crazy? I'm no spring chicken. It's hard at my age to strike up new relationships. I've had babies with these girls, I've gone through good times and bad times with them. Damnit...we're a clique! I can't begin to tell you how I feel. I feel like, I don't know, like an intergral part of me is dying. It's scary out there and you need your friends, your girls. I know that the reason I'm going is the right thing for my family (and I don't doubt it it for a minute), but I am so very sad! So very, very sad! As the day grows closer I wonder...is this the right thing? Yes, yes, I know it is. But, I already miss my bitches!!! You can't know what you mean to me. I love ya'll!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Awesome week! I worked out 5 times, including a day when I really didn't want to. I even tried a new class called "Low Impact Power Hour". I don't know what makes it less high impact than the regular power hour because it kicked my ass and I was sore for two days afterward. For this week coming up I need to focus on eliminating the poor food choices from my diet. I've had a fun summer, but now it's time to buckle down. Also I need to focus on getting in my workout even with my new schedule. I hate working out in the evening so that will be a real challenge to me. I can do it though! I will do it!! I may have to look at my exercise routine a bit differently and less bound to the gym. I also might have to utilize the equipment I have at home such as free weights and exercisetv (which is an awesome resource). Anyway, the point is to keep on moving and to make good healthy food choices.
Have a great week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quilt progress...

Today is the day, I'm definitely going to go pickup a sd card reader because I am anxious to share my quilt progress with you all. I'm so proud of myself. It really is turning out better than I could have hoped for even considering my amateurish stippling. I did discover that I don't love quilting on the singer 15-91. I could never get the rhythm down well. My stitches were very uneven and I also kept skipping stitches. I tried adjusting it and changing needles, but I think it's user error. I switched to quilting it on my Babylock Ellure. Although the harp is pretty small, it's making a lovely stitch and even with my novice efforts it looks a million times better than what I had done on the 15-91. I may end up selling the 15-91. I don't really have the space for it and I purchased it solely for it's reputed quilting ability. Maybe I'll work with it some more and see if I can get better results. In the mean time I'll continue to work on the Ellure. It should be fine since the quilt is only a lap size and I'll have plenty of space. I also purchased machingers and the supreme slider that were recommended on this site. I don't know if they make that much difference. I can say I tried using grippy garden gloves and found them too hot to work with comfortably. The machinger's are light and thin so that makes a huge difference in terms of comfort.
Anyway, I think I should finish this up by next week and then I'll get started on the quilt for M.. So, stay tuned for the big reveal.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday's Meal

Recently I had one of these at a restaurant and it was absolutely delightful. It could be easily altered to be nonalcoholic too. Below is the recipe for simple syrup too, so there's no excuse not to enjoy one tonight!

STRAWBERRY MAI TAI

2 oz Gold Rum
½ oz Amaretto
1/3 oz Orange Curacao
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
2 medium sized strawberries, cleaned and diced

Place diced strawberries in a mixer, pour in the simple syrup, and mashing very well. Pour in all remaining ingredients, fill the glass with ice, and shake well. Pour the strained mixture into a tall old fashioned glass and serve garnished with a fresh slice of strawberry.



How to make simple syrup
Just mix equal parts sugar and water. Bring it to a boil, allowing the sugar to dissolve. Use as desired.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Well after last weeks disastrous performance, I'm really trying to get back on track. So, here's what I've been doing this week. First off I'm really trying to do my food journal regularly. I have a couple of apps on my Iphone that make it super easy. I really love Lose it. The best thing about it is that it's free and customizable. I also joined a 10 week wellness program at my local Y called Coaching Connection. I'm really excited about it. They did an assessment of what my fitness goals were and then they designed a program that should help me meet them. I'd like to lose 15 lbs, tone my core and arm...oh and run a 5k before the end of the year. I also attended a weight loss/nutrition class. I'm not sure if I'll go to that again though. The time of the meetings is a bit dicey for me. I worked out 3 times this week, I did yoga, cardio and weight training. I'm going to add an additional days of cardio next week. Now comes the hard part. Eliminating the junk foods from my diet. I can't buy any more pretzels....wahhhhh! I love pretzels. The salty crunchiness of them. I also need to drink a ton more water. So, next week my goals are to increase my workouts by working out 15 mins longer and adding at least one day. I also want to increase my water intake and eliminate pretzels from my diet. Oh and I need to keep up with my food journal. That's it. I feel motivated and ready to go! Hope you're doing well with your healthy lifestyle.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

UFO Status Report

I'm happy to report that I've been doing awesome finishing up my UFO's. I really only have a few more left. I have my "Mad Men" inspired dress (although Mad Men is set in the 1960's). Here's the pattern. I'm doing version C in a blue and red plaid fabric I got for a good price the Patsy Aiken Outlet. I also need to finish a backpack for O., a lunch bag for me and a little duffle bag for my sewing/knitting notions. Then I can begin my holiday crafting in earnest. In fact I've actually started working on E's quilt. I'm using a pattern called "Perfect Ten" from Swirly Girls. Super cute. I'm making it from a fabric line called "Serengeti" that features realistic jungle animals. I've cut out all the fabric for it. It took me a bit and had me wishing for a accuquilt cutter, but my omnigrid ruler's did the job fine. I might make myself a quilt from this pattern too one day. Of course I have my regular monthly blocks to finish for my different flickr quilting bees. And I'm participating in a really fun challenge with TMQG called "Glam Garden Gala". Robert Kaufman fabrics donated 25 layer cakes from Glam Garden by Josephine Ketterling to our guild and I was lucky enough to get one. You use the layer cake and one other fabric to create something. I've been kicking around a few ideas. I guess the final project is going to depend on how ambitious I'm feeling. Anyways, I'm plugging along. Trying to stay cool and crafty,lol.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Camera Crisis


My camera which works perfect fine no longer will communicate with my computer via the little usb cord. It's not the cord that's at fault, how I wish it were that simple. The receptacle that accepts the usb in the camera has broken off inside the camera. I'm so bummed since I have a ton of pix to share with you all. Now I'm trying to decide if this is the universe saying it's time for a new camera or if it just means I need to figure out a way to get my pictures off my sd card and keep my camera for now. Of course I am lusting after a better camera. Perhaps I should think about used or refurbished. I mean it's not like I'm an avid photographer, right? I've always been partial to Nikon and Pentax. I know tons of people love Canon too. What to get? What's best? I have no idea where to start even. Do I get a camera feature packed that I can grow into or do I get something that's simple and straightforward? Decisions, decisions. Seriously...if you have a recommendation about a camera send it my way.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday's Meal

Trying to shake my pretzel addiction by substituting another snack. Not really less calorie, but maybe it will help me increase my fruit and grain intake as well as be a bit more filling.


Grand Granola

1 1/2 cups wheat germ
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup each of dried mango, dried pineapple. dried apricots, dried bananas (or the dried fruit of your desire)
2 cups raisins or sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment or aluminum foil. Combine the oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 15 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the your desired fruits before storing in an airtight container.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Bad week...enough said. No really, I should have just skipped reporting it, except I forgot last week and I want to get back on track so to speak. I will definitely do better next week since let's face it I can't do much worst. But, let's just say I did have a fun week not exercising and eating what I want. Why does leading a healthy lifestyle have to be so devoid of pleasure?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hair Woes

As school starts I've been thinking a lot about this issue and even discussed the challenges of black hair care with two of my girlfriends. My daughter's hair is wild and beautiful. I love it, she loves it. However, it's very different from my own and I'm determined to treat her hair right and stay natural with it. I don't think it's necessary to use harsh chemicals on it or tame it into some type of submission. However, I do want it to look clean, neat and healthy. I'm trying to educate myself about how to best care for it. I'm part of the generation who embraced harsh chemicals and weekly pilgrimages to the beauty shop. It's definitely a learning process for me. For the last several months I've adopted a new regime for caring for her hair. I've researched, read blogs, joined forums, tried out different products to gain a better understanding and routine to care for her hair. Currently I do cowashes with Suave Almond and shea conditioner. About once a month a use KBB's Lucious Locks. I also use coconut oil to moisturize it a few days before a shampoo. I use KBB hair milk in between to give it some moisture between shampoos. I have to make my own shea, coconut oil, aloe hair products with a recipe from this book.
I wish I could post a picture of her with her riotous curls, but I'm having major camera issues (in fact I'm in the market for a new one so if you have a recommendation send it my way). I love that she's proud of her natural hair. My hope is that she doesn't grow up with the hair woes that I had.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday's meal

Saturday we went to the farmer's market. I can't begin to tell you how delicious all the fresh samples were. Yummo! I was especially excited about the summer fruit. I love peaches. Oh were they good! To me they tasted like sunshine and summer. Here a super easy cake recipe you can make with your farmer's market peaches (or even your grocery store ones).

Peachy Cake

1 box of White cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup butter
2 cups of peaches, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine all the ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Prepare the pan of your choice by greasing and flouring. Bake in oven according to recommended cooking time on the box. Cool on rack.


Frosting

1 16 oz container of extra cream cool whip
1 small package of jello instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 cups of peaches, peeled and chopped

Combine all the ingredients in medium bowl, refrigerating while cake is cooking and cooling. Frost cake. Refrigerator frosted cake for several hours and then serve.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Work on it Wednesday

Panic time. It's the end of the month and I haven't started on a single block for my swaps. So, guess what I'll be doing today. Thankfully I only have to make 4 blocks and none are super complicated. I had a time with the flying geese blocks last month. I will have to make more of them so that I improve my skill of working with triangles. Anyways, I vow not to wait so long next month, lol. Yeah, right. What would be the fun of working on them right away?
I also have the Ice Cream dress cut out for O. to make as her first day of school outfit. I have some patterns that are similar to it, but I finally broke down and purchased this pattern to save myself the trouble of having to tweak it. I've used her patterns before and they really turn out nicely. Look for a first day a school picture sporting this dress. O picked out the fabric herself. It's from Riley Blake and paired with some Kaufman I had in my stash, super cute.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Monday's Meal

In honor of last night's season premiere of Mad Men, chicken kiev. Can't you just picture it. You, Don and this delicious dish?

Chicken Kiev


1/3 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
6 chicken breast, skinless & boneless (pounded to 1/4" thickness)
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp parsley


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
In a small bowl, stir together the butter, garlic powder, pepper and parsley. Spread the butter mixture 1/2 inch thick onto a piece of aluminum foil, and place in the freezer to harden. Trim fat from the chicken breast. If using whole chicken breasts, split them in half. Place each chicken breast half between 2 pieces of plastic wrap or wax paper and pound carefully to about 1/4 inch thickness. When butter mixture is firm, remove from freezer and cut into 6 equal pieces. Place one piece of butter on each chicken breast. Fold in edges of chicken and then roll to encase the butter completely. Secure the chicken with small skewers or toothpicks.
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with the buttermilk until fluffy. Put the flour in a small separate bowl, then coat the chicken well with it. Dip the floured chicken in the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumbs. Place coated chicken on your baking dish and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator allowing to warm to room temperature. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, and the juices run clear. The outside should be crispy and golden.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Scrappity DiDo...A block swap quilt


So I almost have enough blocks for my Oydessa quilt top. By combining the blocks from two different swaps I will have 24 12.5" blocks. I think I will arrange them 4 X 6 so that I'll have a nice size cuddle quilt. So far I've gotten some awesome blocks. Take a look. This isn't all the blocks, so this isn't my final layout, but it gives you an idea of what I'm going for. Love them. Some of them are color combos that I would have never come up with myself. I think that's really part of the fun of it. Out of the 24 blocks. I've made 3 of them myself. I'm gets easier each time a make a new block. I don't think I'll ever win any awards, but I can see that my quilting skills are improving. I'm still not 100% about how long I'll be a quilter. Here's my point, how many quilts do you really need? Isn't that a funny question coming from me? She of the massive fabric stash and 20+ sewing machines...oh and don't forget the insane amount of sewing patterns. But, really how many quilts do you really need? I'm not into wall hangings or table runners so I see my quilting career being fairly self limiting. I guess I could always make charity items. There's a thought.

Another thrift store score




I haven't really been doing much thrifting lately, but recently I've had some great thrift store scores. The kinds that are legendary and reaffirm your commit to the pursuit of that once in a lifetime awesome find! I finally got a chance to shoot some pictures. This is one of my most awesome scores EVAHHHH! These chair were $9 each ( I bought all 6) at one of my favorite thrift stores. They are Edward Wormley for Drexel's Precedent line. I could have squealed with glee when I found them. One chair sells on ebay and etsy for upward of $400. They are in awesome condition and although I'm not a huge fan of the fabric it's completely livable for now.
I also purchased yet another sewing machine, lol. I got a singer 15-91. Now that I fancy myself a quilter I need the right tool for the job. After much research I learned that a singer 15-91 is one of the best machines for free motion quilting out there. It was a bit more than I usually spend at $58, but it had a cabinet, a manual, all the original attachments, buttonholer and tons of notions with it. I figured it was probably worth the money just for the cabinet and attachments. I also found a bunch of great vintage crafting books. I love a good book.
I will have to rehab the 15-91 to get into topnotch order, but it's a longterm project and right now it works just fine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday's Meal

A little vegetable casserole. Not particularly health food, but oh so good!

Spinach Casserole

1 cup onion, diced
3 slices of bacon, diced
2 tbsp of butter
2 lbs of spinach, chopped
1/2 pound sliced mushrooms
1 cup cream of mushroom soup
1/2 lb processed Swiss cheese, shredded
2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/2 cup crackers, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large casserole dish by greasing it, set aside. Place the butter in skillet over medium heat, saute bacon and onions. Remove from heat. Mix all the ingredients except the crackers together in large bowl. Transfer them into your prepared casserole dish, sprinkle with crackers. Cover and bake for about 1 hour.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Confession time, this week wasn't particularly active. I had a lot going on and as someone who doesn't really enjoy exercising, I let that derail my efforts. Must do better this week! Eating wasn't too bad. Minimal snacking, although my addiction to pretzels is still alive and well (will work on that). I also realize I really need to increase my water intake, it's minimal at best. I have made good strides towards meal planning and packing my lunch for work so that's a good step. So my plans for this upcoming week are to increase water intake, exercise 3x week, keep food journal and decrease pretzel intake. I did step on the scale and there's been no gain since I last weighed...but no loss either. I really am going to have to look at how to change my body's set point if I want to lose any weight. I seem to stay right around the same 5 lbs. Something to think about.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In the UFO basket

I've been doing a lot of quilting (or at least making a lot of quilt blocks) recently which means my garment sewing has suffered. I don't have a ton of free time to stitch so it's not hard for that ufo basket to overflow. Anyway, in the last couple weeks I've begun working on my ufo basket sewing again. I just love the hum of my machine(s) and the satisfaction I get when I have a finished project. Here's a list of unfinished projects that I'm determined to tackle. Let's see.
1. a bunch of undies for O.
2. a top for me
3. a dress for me
4. boxers for the boys
5. O's first day of school outfit
6. O's backpack and lunch bag
7. a coin wallet
I'm also getting ready to start working on two special quilt projects. Both my little fellows have requested quilts of their own. I'm making E's out of this great fabric line that features jungle animals. I'm going to make M a Chinese coin quilt (or maybe a fence rail) using primary colors and a few novelty prints. Neither pattern will be terribly complicated or exacting. Just something special for them to snuggle under.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday's Meal

Quick and easy kid friendly recipes

Easy Bow-tie pasta

1 1/2 cups bow-tie pasta
1 pound ground turkey (or your favorite ground meat)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (1 can of diced in a pinch)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese



Bring a large pot filled with lightly salted water to a rolling boil, stir in the bow-tie pasta and return to a boil. Cook the pasta until it has cooked al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the ground turkey until browned; drain off excess fat. Stir in garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes. Place the bow-tie pasta into a large serving dish, and pour the ground turkey mixture over the pasta. Sprinkle on the chopped basil. Toss lightly to combine, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

Well, so far, so good. I worked out three times this week. I feel like I'm getting a routine started and that seems really essential for me to keep my momentum going. My schedule has been pretty full recently so I think making it to the gym three times is probably an obtainable and realistic goal for me. I will shot for three times this next week and try to add a walk or something on one other day. Since the weather is so warm and it doesn't get dark until so late I will try and take a walk in the evening after work on one of those days. I haven't weighed myself, but going by the clothing fit test everything is moving in the right direction. My diet is hit or miss. I will have to try and get back to meal planning and keeping a food journal. That's really the only way I don't snack too much and follow the food pyramid. Well, hope you did well in your healthy living plan, good luck next week.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yoga mat for a yogi





So, my little fellow E. likes to practice yoga with me. He takes it very seriously and he's really good at it. Whenever I'd roll out my mat, he'd run and get a large bath towel. Well, I had an epiphany, I could make him a yoga mat. I had tons of cotton yarn I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do with (got suckered in by a good sale!) but it was perfect for a sturdy mat. The pattern is my own and by all means nothing fancy. I just used 2 skeins double stranded and cast on, I think 70 stitches and then knitted it until I got it to length I thought was big enough, wove in the ends and finito. Easy Peasy. E. loves it and can't wait to get to practicing his poses. Oh and his brother M. thought of another use for it, "a flying carpet". Gotta love a child's imagination.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday's Meal

I love kitchen gadgets and one of my favorites in my bread machine. I use it regularly. In fact I had two of them, but one of them recently bit the dust (I'm in the market for another). I love how you just toss all the ingredients and come back later and you have fresh, hot, delicious homemade bread. Yummo! Well, one of the things I haven't mastered is keeping the starter for sour dough going. It seems like a ton of work. So, this is psuedo sourdough bread. You might not call it sour dough, but it's pretty close to the real thing without all the work.

3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 tsp of lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons dry potato flakes
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast



Add the lemon to the sour cream about 5 minutes before you are ready to make bread to allow the sour cream to "sour" more. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select White Bread setting, and Start.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday's Fitness Wrapup

I almost forgot to report how this week went. I haven't weighed myself, but I did put on a pair of shorts that used to be snug and they weren't, so that's always nice. I made it to the gym three times this week. I hope to make it three times next week at least. I made plans to meet a friend (Heather) to work out on Monday and I'll probably go run on the treadmill Tuesday and do yoga Wednesday and Friday. If I can make it all those days it will be great. The yoga is awesome. I'm horrible at it and it sucks while I'm doing it, but afterward I feel fantastic. I still need to do a better job with my diet, but one thing at a time right? I'll check back next week. Hopefully I would have met my fitness goal for the week and lost a pound or two.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Club Book Review


The Help

This was the selection for this month's book club. I thought I'd share what the consensus was about this book and what everyone thought without giving away any spoilers for those of you who haven't read it.
The Help is the story of a group of African American maids (domestic help), the women they work for and one progressive young white woman who wants to tell their story during the turbulent times of 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. First off, we loved it. Most people found the characters memorable and very realistic. There were a few people who were dissatisfied with the ending. I however thought the ending was pretty realistic. It couldn't have a classic "happy ending" because of the subject matter and the time the story was set in.
I thought the author who isn't an African American did a great job in taping into what it must have been like to be a domestic during the civil rights movement in Mississippi where even the wrong look could get you killed. The characters were fully developed and were people you wanted to know more about. I liked that she showed the lives of the "Help" outside of their workplace. She also challenged convention by showing that there were strong bonds that could exist between the white employers and their black "Help". She showed that even though not everyone felt that way, there was real humanity and care that existed despite the times they lived in. I liked that even though it wasn't all happy, you got some degree of closure on the characters lives at the end of the book.
All in all the "Help" was a well developed, entertaining, thought provoking piece of literary delight. I think I speak for all in our book club when I say, two thumbs up.
I've heard that "The Help" has been optioned into a movie and I can't wait to see it and who plays all the main characters. Who will be Miss Skeeter and that horrible Hilly?
Our next selection is Little Bee. Check back next month to hear how we like it.
I've heard that "The Help" has been optioned into a movie and I can't wait to see it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday's Meal

My all time favorite vegetable is squash. I love all varieties. I feel like you can't go wrong if you have some squash on your plate. I'm also a fan of soup. I know some people think of soup as winter time, but to me it's anytime. Try this golden delicious soup and tell me I'm not right.

Butternut Squash Soup

6 tablespoons chopped onion
4 tablespoons butter
6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

In a medium dutch oven, saute onions in butter until tender. Add squash, chicken broth, marjoram, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Bring to boil; cook 20 minutes, or until squash is tender. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to dutch oven, and heat until warm through, but do not bring to a boil.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Finding my mojo

You've heard me talk about diet and exercise before. Well, it's something I seem to be really struggling with lately. While I never have loved to exercise I was committed and consistent in doing it. Lately though, I can't seem to get my butt in gear. I don't seem to be very motivated. I've also noticed that I've been eating things that I had sworn off. Maybe this is just a phase and I need to power through it. But, I know for me I need some accountability in my life so I'm going to start reporting here weekly as sort of a fitness wrap up, call it fitness Friday. I hope you will join me in encouraging each other to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I'd really like to lose 15 lbs by Sept 1st, but I can tell you that I'm going to have to change the way I'm doing things. I'm going to have to recommit to keeping a food journal, doing regular exercise, drinking my water and seeking support and encouragement from others. I know that my life has been beyond crazy stressful lately, but I can't let that be an excuse to backslide. I have to get a handle on this and continue to make my health a priority.
Today I'm meeting up with my friend, Heather. It's so nice to have someone to workout with. It helps keep me motivated and helps to have someone encouraging me.
What did you move to lose today?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A must have...a book review


I mentioned that I'm in the process of building my quilting reference library . Well, I want to recommend a must have for any quilter's book shelf. Judy Hopkins 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks.

I love that she gives specific cutting and assembling instructions for various block sizes, not just one size per design. What a life saver. Although I'm getting better at figuring that out on my own, it's nice not to do the math to figure out how I can take a 8" block design to a 12" block design. I used it for a couple of the blocks I made in my recent TMQG swap and know that I will be reaching for it for years to come as I continue on my quilting journey. I think it's an invaluable book to own. It's incredibly versatile and offers so much inspiration. The block assembly instructions are detailed, yet concise. Run out and get it today to add to your shelf.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Work on it Wednesday

Today I've been giving Miss O. sewing lessons. She's been begging to learn for ages and now that she can reach the foot pedal and the machine bed at the same time, I couldn't put her off any longer. I don't believe in toy sewing machines. I think you should have the proper equipment for the job and that means a machine that actually sews. It'll prevent frustration and foster a love of sewing IMHO. I let her pick out her own machine from my collection awhile back. The girl has her standards. She was drawn to a Bernina 801 sport. It's actually a nice little machine for her. It all metal, mechanical and only has 6 different stitches. Nothing for her to mess up or break. She's super proud of "her sewing machine". We also put together a little sewing basket. She has her own pin cushion, scissors, seam ripper and thread. Initially I had her working on scrap fabrics, but she became easily bored with that. I have to admit, she's pretty good. She can sew fairly straight and she has pretty good speed control with the foot pedal. She always remembers to lift and lower the presser. Today she announced that she wanted to make a skirt. She picked out some fabric from my stash and we roughly measured her for a little skirt. She informed me that she thought she needed "a yard" (perhaps she's been to the fabric store one too many times). She didn't need a yard, actually she really only needed about 1/2 yard, lol. I set her to work. She did everything except the ironing and putting in the elastic. Great job! Project Runway, watch out!!!
I don't have time to do it right now, but I'll get a picture of Miss O. and her space skirt as soon as I can. Too cute!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Hope...

A funny thing happened to me recently. Not funny ha ha, but funny in the way that teaches you a lesson and refocuses your priorities. Last fall I participated in a prayer shawl swap through Ravelry. My swap partner, Maria knitted me a beautiful shawl in my favorite color, red and it's brought me endless comfort. However she also sent me two other items that I would never have thought I needed, but I did. She sent me a book of psalms and a coffee mug. Now, the mug is what I want to talk to you about. I'm a big coffee drinker and almost every day I would grab my mug and pour myself a cup of joe. What's special about this mug you ask? Well, it has a quote from Psalms 62 5-6 printed on it. It's a quote about hope and it goes like this "Let all that I am wait quietly before God. For my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken". I can't begin to tell you how challenging this past year has been for me and my family. I try to be optimistic and not get easily discouraged but sometimes it's really hard. But, then I remember that things happen for a reason and that which does not kill you makes you stronger. I also remember all the great friends and family I have. I remember how they have offered their support, their shoulders to cry on and their ears to listen and I count myself so lucky. How did Maria know that I needed reminding of that? How did she know that I needed comforting. I believe that there are people who touch you, who are there in your life however briefly to remind you and to help you find your way. So, each day whenever I look down at my mug, it gives me comfort...it gives me hope for the future.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday's Meal

Baby it's hot outside and I find myself desiring something sweet and frosty. As my friends will tell you, I'm not a fan of coconut (it's a texture thing), but this is the absolute one exception. A pina colada is worth a little hair on the tongue, lol.

1 cup of cream of coconut
1 cup crushed pineapple with juice
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1 cup rum (try it with flavored rum)
1/2 cup whipping cream
8 ice cubes



In a blender, combine cream of coconut , pineapple with juice, ice cream, rum and ice. Blend until smooth. Pour whipping cream into a bowl and whip until soft peaks form, fold into pina colada mixture and blend. Pour into chilled glasses and enjoy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Work on it Wednesday


I have so much personal sewing to catch up on. I can't believe how I've let these unfinished projects pile up. I think it was the mad rush to finish the TMQG blocks and the quilt for O's teacher. Well that's all behind me now and I have to get back to my UFO basket. What's in there you ask? Well, I have a lunch bag for my mom, a backpack for O, a top for me, a quilt for me and a quilt for E. That should keep me busy for the next six months, lol.
Oh, I almost forgot, I took the foot pedal to my neechi apart to rewire it. I really need to get that back together and back on the machine.
But best of all I found an inexpensive singer 15-91 at the thrift store last week. I'm jazzed. It's suppose to a wonderful machine to quilt on. Speaking of quilting, that was an education for me. A machine you use for piecing might not be the best machine to quilt on. So, even though I adore my Brother PC6000, the harp area is pretty small. I have quilted a full size quilt on it, but it's not ideal or easy. The harp area on the 15-91 is over 7". Nice! It's also a straight stitch, direct gear driven machine, so super powerful with a lovely looking stitch. I found so much useful info online about this classic singer. I'm also going to attempt my first full rewiring job. I've rewired foot pedals before, but I'm a bit intimidated about the machine motor. My TMQG friend Lisa's husband, Mike just finished doing her 15-91 (and an awesome job he did) so I hope he can walk me through the process.
I can't decide what to do first. I know I should finish the sewing first, but I'm anxious to tear apart the 15-91. Decision, decision. Hmmm....sewing first!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A day at the zoo







We recently went to the zoo. It was a blast. Unlike so many of the other trips, the animal were actually out and could be viewed. I got some great shots. I'm trying to be better about taking pictures.
We were able to spend the day with a good friend and her son. The weather was perfect and best of all all the walking tired the kids out and I had a quiet ride home, lol.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Monday's Meal

Scored an awesome deal on whole pork loins at the grocery store. Here's a super easy delicious way to serve one up.
For those of you who checked in earlier. Sorry about the snafu. Somehow two different pork recipes got merged into a mishmash of nonsense. That's what happens when you sit down late at night and try and blog, lol.
The recipe below should all make sense as well as be tasty.

Apples and Pork

1 (1.5 lbs) whole pork loin
3 large apples- peeled, cored and sliced
3 tsp of minced garlic
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp of paprika
grated zest of one lemon
1/2 tsp of nutmeg
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large skillet, brown your pork loin, about 5 minutes each side; set it aside.
Arrange apple slices in the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add paprika, lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon,brown sugar, cumin, salt and pepper to sherry and mix well. Pour the sherry mixture over the pork loin. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour or until tender and internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Traditional with a modern twist

I have to send props out to Lisa for telling me the name of the style of quilting I like. I realize that I'm not a true "modernist". I don't really dig free form quilting. I don't always like wonkiness. I like things to look like what they're suppose to be. But, I love modern fabrics.
To try to stretch my quilting muscles I'm participating in a block swap with the TMQG. All I can say is that I'm relieved it's over. I find making stuff for other's entirely too stressful. I'm not a perfectionist with things I make for myself or as gifts in general. But, somehow knowing that these are going to other quilters has filled me with dread. Will they be checking my seam allowance, which way I pressed the seam. Is my block square? Did I clip all the threads. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. The swap was fun in principle, yet in reality...not. I am however excited to see what blocks I might get. I asked for square in square and I hope that I can piece them all together for a little throw. I have a bit of left over fabric that I can make a few more blocks if I need to.
Anyway...I finished. I did it. Take a look. The inspiration fabric is Oydessa by MoMo for Moda with bits from my own fabric stash thrown in for good measure. Each participant was to make 12 blocks. The people you were making the blocks for could request a specific type of block. Most people were open to anything so that was nice for me. I think my favorite block is the wonky stars and the crosses. The fabric was really fun.




Thursday, June 10, 2010

Flickr bee blocks





I'm participating in a couple of block swaps through flickr. These blocks are for Tammie and Rick. I hope that they likes them. I really liked the fabric choices. I loved making the log cabin block and the map of states allowed me to do a bit of paper piecing using freezer paper. It was a new technique for me, but I will definitely try it again. The cross block was so fun and Rick's instructions were the best. I've filed them away to use again in the future.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Decline

Oh my gracious! I think I want to die! Ok, maybe not die exactly, but go to bed for a week. Here's the back story. I began running last August using the couch to 5k method. Through starts and stops I kept up with it and by the winter I was up to being able to run continuously for 30 minutes without feeling like I was going to pass out. I kept that up until about January. For the last few months my workouts have suffered and been sporadic at best. I rarely ran and when I did it was on the treadmill, which in my opinion is vastly easier than running outdoors. Well, I got a bee in my bonnet to get back out on the road. Reality check. I could barely run 50 feet without panting and gasping. I have to admit, I am deconditioned and will need to start the whole couch to 5k thing over again. Bummer! I don't even like running. But, the harsh reality is that I've accepted that exercise has to be a regular part of my life. Not just for the health benefits, but for the psychological benefits too. I feel more relaxed when I get regular exercise. I don't get that whole runner's high thing, but in general I do get some benefit from the satisfaction of knowing I'm making my health a priority.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday's Meal

I love to read and once upon a time I belonged to a great book club. It kind of floundered and I stopped going, but recently a friend (hey Jamie!) decided we all needed to get reading again. Our first meeting is this month and we're reading "The Help". It's a great book full of southern charm and real issues. In honor of the book I thought I'd share a recipe for cornbread. I mean really, what's more southern than that? Be warned, I like a sweet cornbread.

Corn Bread

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease and flour an 8 inch pan.
Cream together butter, brown sugar, egg and milk in medium bowl. Set aside. In another bowl sift together baking soda, cream of tartar, cornmeal and flour. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, mix well. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25 mins. or until a fork comes out clean.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Me and My Iphone

I'm in a few internet personal interest forums and I have the bad habit of posting from my iphone. Now, if you've followed my blog at all you know there's a better chance than average that there will be some typo or misspelled word. I don't let it worry me too much. I don't have the benefit of a proofreader and having read many books that had the benefit of proofreading and editing I know that errors can still get by. However, to add even more challenge to my already poor editing skills I've started posting stuff from my Iphone. Huge mistake. It has some kind of auto correction feature that frequently will change a word to something inexplicable. Don't get me wrong, I love my iphone beyond all reason. I'm not even tempted by the fancy new ipad. We're that close, me and my iphone! I just wanted to mention that if you occasionally read some bizarrely written sentence and wonder, what in the heck is she saying? Chances are that it's just me and my iphone trying to get our point across.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Off the wagon

I didn't just fall of the blogging wagon I got pushed! I can't believe how hectic things have been around here. I thought it was almost summer and things should be easy and relaxing. Well in the past two weeks I've spent more time at the doctors, ER and hospital than I care to discuss. Now M. is having a horrible asthma flare-up. Poor little fellow. I've spent a lot of time trying to keep him breathing so haven't been doing much else. I'm in desperate need of sleep and Merry Maids.
Hopefully, things will settle down soon. I have some great recipes to share and I few things I have been working on.
Hope all is well with everyone out in blog land and that you and yours are healthy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crazy Week

Well, what can I say this week has been crazy, crazy. O. was hospitalized. She's doing fine now, but it was definitely stressful. I caught a cold after burning the candle at both ends. I'm starting to feel better now too. I'm incredibly behind on so many things. Namely laundry and housework. Crafting and blogging has fallen completely by the wayside. I think I realized it before now, but blogging requires a fair bit of time. Time that lately I haven't seemed to have much of. Hopefully though, things will settle down and I'll get back to it. Just wanted to stop in a say what was what.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Finito! Teacher's appreciation gift





O.'s preschool teacher is really special. She's engaging and attentive to each child's unique needs and personality. O. really likes her. Even though I'm not a great quilter and wasn't sure I should foist my amateurish efforts off on someone I decided some months ago to make her a quilt as an end of the year gift. I chose a simple pattern and purchased a lovely batik jellyroll from JA's. I don't know if she likes blue, but hopefully she liked the quilt (she seemed to!). It's full of imperfections, but I tried very hard and I think in the end it turned out pretty well. As a preschool teacher I think she'll be able to look past the flaws and appreciate the effort. O gifted it to her and I snapped a couple of pictures. I also made a cute heart shaped label, but forgot to get a picture of that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday's Meal

Hey, sorry I missed posting last week. There's been a lot going on here and the time just got away from me. But, I'm back to share something yummy with you this week.
Always one for a bargain, I scored a great deal on some chicken recently so it brought to mind one of my favorite dishes from a local restaurant. This is my version. It's slightly different, but just as good.

Penne with chicken and four cheese sauce

4 skinless boneless chicken breast
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 cup light cream
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 lb cooked penne

Cook the pasta according to package, drain and set aside. In a medium size skillet heat olive oil. Cook chicken breast until juices run clear. Remove from skillet and set aside. In a large saucepan over medium heat melt butter. Add the garlic and onion, cook until soft about 2 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook until bubbly. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cream and milk. Return to a moderate heat and cook, stirring often, until the sauce is at a low boil and thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Add cheese, salt, pepper and cook, stirring constantly until the cheeses melt and the sauce is smooth. Cut up the chicken into strips and add it to the pasta. Pour the cheese sauce to the pasta and chicken and toss well.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dear Jane...how I love you!


Photograph by Ken Burris,Shelburne, VT, courtesy of the Bennington Museum and the Vermont Quilt Festival

I'm obsessed with the idea of this quilt. I don't know why really. It's really nothing more than a sampler quilt. I think it's the idea of all those bitty blocks. Anyway I think I've talked fellow TMQG member, Lisa into doing it with me. It's one of the projects that is a longterm project that you stop and start, but know you will finish one day. I think I'd like it to be a wallhanging. Won't that be fun?
There's a huge following for this quilt and people who quilt it are called "Janiacs", lol. There's a book and website. I have the book on order. It's really just pictures of the different blocks and I guess in reality I could use any sampler quilt book to get the idea of what to do and design my own. Anyway, it's on my list of things I'd like to make in the near future. Look at me, who would have thought I'd have a to do list for quilting!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Monday's Meal

Growing up in Texas I'm a huge fan of chips and salsa. Here's a super easy salsa using tomatillos.

Salsa Verde

1 pound tomatillos, husked
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 serrano chile peppers, minced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
2 cups water


Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, chile pepper, cilantro, oregano, cumin, and salt in blender or food processor to chop to desired consistency; Place mixture in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add the water to salsa throughout cooking to reach desired thickness (you may only need 1 cup or if you like thinner salsa use 2), and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and serve.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Work on it Wednesday

It's been awhile since I worked on a big project. Today I'm heading into my children's bedroom to do some much needed purging. They have clothes that are too small or that they just that don't wear that are taking up valuable space. I've really been on a kick to let go of stuff. I'm going to take the stuff directly to the local thrift store so that someone else can start enjoying them right away. Wish me luck! It's a dirty job but someone has to do it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quilt Blocks for swapping




I'm having such fun participating in a few flickr virtual bee block swaps. I'm learning a ton. I'm trying things I'd never try if left to my own devices. I'm also learning more about the concept of the scant 1/4" seam allowance since I've had a couple blocks come out a tad smaller than they should have, lol. No worries though, it's all part of the process. Here's some of the latest blocks I've worked on. I have a couple more I'll be working on in the next few weeks so stay tuned for those pictures. I honestly never thought I'd enjoy the quilting process as much as I do, it's nice to be wrong.
I really liked doing the wonky star block and will probably use that as the inspiration for one of my bee blocks when it's my turn.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday's Meal

I've been thinking lately about some of the things my mom used to make growing up that I rarely cook myself. I dug through my recipes and found this one to share. I really like them and need to add them to the rotation. Now that the farmer's market is kicking off it's a great time to try out all varieties of peppers. Let me know what you think.

Stuffed Peppers
4 medium green bell peppers
1 pound ground beef, turkey or pork
2 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce, divided
1/2 cup uncooked instant rice
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 small chopped onion
1 tsp of minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut tops off peppers and discard; seed them. Blanch peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water; set aside. In a large bowl, combine your meat, 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, rice, half of the cheese, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and eggs; mix well. Stuff the peppers; place in an ungreased baking dish. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over peppers. Cover and bake for 45-60 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and peppers are tender. Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese; return to the oven uncovered for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Almost a quilt


I've been hard at work making numerous blocks for my own lap size quilt. I'm modifying a pattern that came in a sampler tin of my all time favorite fabric collection "Summer in the city by Urban Chicks for Moda" . It's basically a square in square block which is becoming my favorite block for it's simplicity and versatility. Anyways. I will probably make a few more blocks before I start putting things together. I think I will probably have some kind of border between the blocks to help them pop. I'm trying to decide what color to use. I have to use something that will make everything pop but not compete. I was thinking of a light gray or a lime green. I'll have to see how that looks with the brown which is rather dark. Or if I could find the right color fuschia that would be cool. I'm having a bit of trouble finding the moda bella solids locally and the RK's aren't exactly a perfect match. In between all this block making I've still been working to finish up my dd's preschool teacher's quilt too. I'm participating in a couple of block swaps so I have to finish a couple blocks this week too. Oh and I need to get some garment sewing done too. I have a growing list of projects running around in my head. I need to really get cracking.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday's Meal

My children love milkshakes. As the weather is warming up they've been asking for them a lot lately. I thought I'd share how I mix up a homemade delicious milk shakes for them in a jiff.


Vanilla milk shake
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a blender, combine ice cream and vanilla extract. Add the half and half slower to obtain your desired thickness. Blend until smooth. Pour into glass and serve.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fear of paint




What is it all about? In many ways I approach my life with fearlessness, but lately I've been suffering from some strange case of indecision I call "Fear of Paint". I want desperately to redecorate the master bedroom. I finally found the fabric I want to use to make a quilt from. I'm going to make curtains. I'm going to paint and refinish some furniture. I mean I want to generally spiff the place up. And yet, for many months I've been stalled by my inability to pick a paint color for the walls. What's the big deal? It's just paint. Yet, I can't seem to make a choice. I have decided that it would be some shade of light blue. I think that's part of my issue. I'm more of an autumnal color person and I keep trying to find a blue that is warm enough...does it exist? Yesterday I went and got yet more paint samples from Benjamin Moore to slap on the wall. This time I got In Your Eyes (actually that's a Royal Ace Color), Stormy and Wedgewood Grey. I already have Tropical Lagoon (Glidden), Sapphire # 2 (Laura Ashley for Lowes) and Bottle Glass (Kilz). I also have Bird Egg Blue (Benjamin Moore) and Porcelain Blue (Walmart). I also like the color Parma Grey (Farrow & Ball) that I saw in a magazine but don't have a local place to get a tester pot, so I'd have to get at least a quart custom mixed. All this paint testing is getting expensive. I need to make a decision already. Today, now...right this minute. Wait, let me think about it just a little longer. By the way, if you know of a fantastic blue that is not too cool, let me know. I've got my paint brush ready.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More quilt blocks



I'm getting into the grove of this block thing. I'm learning a lot and getting outside of my comfort zone which is the point, right. I just finished these two blocks and will get them into the mail to Andrea. I didn't have quite enough to make two 12.5" square blocks, so I dipped a bit into my own stash, so I hope she doesn't mind. I think the blocks came out pretty nicely though. She said she wanted right angles. I did a pieced square and sashed it with Kona snow and then I did a pieced log cabin. I love the fabrics she picked. Very fun and vibrant.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday's Meal

I can feel it in the air. Summer is on the way. I'm ready to fire up the grill and get to grilling! Here's an easy peasy way to grill a succulent bird. Use your favorite bbq. sauce to add a bit of zing.

Beer Can Chicken

1 3lb whole chicken
24 oz. cola
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can of beer

Marinate your chicken in the cola overnight (or for at least 2-3 hours) in the fridge. Fire up the grill. You'll be using indirect heat so whether using coal or gas create an area that's cooler to cook on.
Remove the chicken from the marinade. Pat dry and rub with salt and pepper. Open the beer and pour out (or drink) half of it. Place the chicken on top of the beer can through the cavity, lodging securely so that it stands on it's own. Place chicken on the cooler side of the grill. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (about 1.5 hours of grilling). You can baste with bbq. sauce the last hour of cooking if you like.

Friday, April 9, 2010

MIA

Gosh, I haven't been doing much blogging lately. But, I have been staying pretty busy. I'm currently participating in a block exchange on flickr and it's teaching me tons. I just finished my 2nd set of blocks. I've also been doing a good bit of personal sewing and quilting. I'm almost finished with the quilt for O's preschool teacher. In fact I'm quilting it now, I should have pictures to share soon. I'm getting ready to sew up a bunch of tshirts for the boys and sundresses for O. in preparations for the summer. I also have been busy keeping the boys entertained during their track out.Oh and general mom duties of course, cooking, cleaning, playing nursemaid. All in all, not idle. Here's a bit of what I've been up to. I'm trying to be better about taking pictures. I realize I need to photograph a few things I've sewn for O. I'll have to do that later. I'm also working on her backpack for school and actually doing some sewing for me.


My summer carry all for the pool made from a charm pack of Santorini by Lila Tueller
Big and roomy with tons of pocket. It has bamboo handles which I'm still on the fence about.



Geometric block for Rachel for the Bee Lovely Flickr group. It's an raw edge applique. I may have to reposition the circle though. As I was stitching it, it seemed to have migrated and looks a bit wonky...although wonky is good too.



Another block for Rachel. I was so proud of this block since the curves were a bit of a challenge to a newish quilter like me. Everything was going great until I was squaring it. It's suppose to be 9.5 x 9.5 but I think it's more like 9.5 X 9.25. Ugh!!! Ah well, like Tim Gunn says, I'm sure Rachel can make it work!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday's Meal

This recipe was shared with me from Joyce, a very talented member of the quilting guild/bee I belong to. I'm sharing it with just as I received in my email (Joyce said it was okay to share). It's a twofer. You can either make a lemon cake or a chocolate cake, you decide. I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions about how to make it, let me know and I'll ask Joyce.

Cakes:
Lemon/chocolate cake mix
Lemon/chocolate instant pudding mix (smaller size)
4 eggs
Combine cake mix and pudding mix. Follow directions on package adding your water and oil but using 4 eggs instead. Bake in a half sheet pan, or 2 rounds if you want a round cake. Cut cake in half and then slice horizontally, half making your 4 layers. Spread a layer of filling of your choice between each layer and use topping of your choice. At the Relief Society’s “An Intimate Evening” dinner the lemon cake had 4 layers of cake with seedless raspberry jam mixed with a little raspberry coulis between each layer and was topped with lemon curd mousse; the chocolate cake had three layers of cake with one layer of chocolate mousse and one layer of the raspberry jam & coulis mix and had chocolate ganache poured over top and garnished with fresh raspberry, chocolate hearts, squirts of lemon curd and raspberry coulis on the plates under the cake.

Fillings/Toppings:
Lemon Curd Mousse
Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Mousse
Seedless Raspberry jam
Raspberry Coulis


Lemon Curd
4 oz butter (1 stick)
3 lemons (zest & juice—about ½ c.)
4 eggs
1 ¾ c granulated sugar
In top of double boiler melt butter. Add sugar, lemon juice & zest, stir to combine. Beat eggs until very smooth. Slowly add to lemon mixture with whisk. Cook slowly, stirring constantly until mixture thickens – about 15 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into container(s), cool, refrigerate. Can be used for pies, tarts, cakes or just spread on toast like jam.

Raspberry Coulis
12 oz. or about 2 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
½ c fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup simple syrup
1 ½ Tablespoons lemon juice
½ Tablespoon cornstarch
Make a simple syrup by putting ½ c sugar and ½ c water in a saucepan, bring to boil for about 3 minutes. Add fruit and lemon juice. Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Dissolve cornstarch in about 2 tsp of cold water and add to fruit mixture. Cook about 3 minutes more or until thickened, stirring frequently. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and discard seeds. Cool, refrigerate.

Lemon Mousse
Heavy whipping cream, whipped until very stiff. Gently fold in a small of amount of lemon curd. Add more lemon curd according to your taste of how lemony you want your mousse to be. Gently folding each amount into whipped cream until you’re satisfied with taste. Refrigerate to set.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup heavy whipping cream, brought to simmer. Add about 2 cups chocolate chips, whisk to blend until chocolate is melted and mixture is thickened and shiny. This can be made thinner by using more cream.

Chocolate Mousse
Heavy whipping cream, whipped until very stiff. Gently fold in a small amount of ganache. Add more chocolate ganache according to your taste of how chocolatey you want your mousse to be. Gently folding each amount into whipped cream until you’re satisfied with taste. Refrigerate to set.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thrifty Chic Living

Recently I was talking to you about personal style. I consider my self a restylist, a secondhand rose, a thrift store diva. I love to shop at thrift stores for many things. Like many of you I've been thrifting well before I got my first apartment at 20, and over the years I think I've perfected it down to a science. First you have to go in with an open mind and a critical eye. Don't be discouraged by an ugly color or some weird detail on the item, those things can be changed very easily. Try to think outside the box. What other uses could an item have, can you change it into something you can use? I'm very big on lamps and mirrors. If I find a lamp in a shape I like at a great price, I will buy it. I believe you just can't have enough light sources. Plus you can change it, rewire it, pop on a new shade and have a little masterpiece. Have you priced lamps lately? They're kind of expensive. Mirrors are always great in a space. You can group a bunch of smaller ones together unifying them by color and have a bit of art and interest for your walls. Old books and calendars are great. Some books have really nice bindings and once the dust jacket is removed you can create a nice little grouping for your shelf or a table. Sometimes the illustrations in old books are stunning. You can frame a favorite picture for one of a kind art work for your walls. Be on the look out for little knickknacks for your home. Again, if you find some weird retro thing from the 1960's, but you like it except for the color...well Sherwin Williams can help you change that. Textiles is another area that is just waiting for you to go crazy. Frame some fabric or make a pillow for a favorite chair. You don't even need to know how to sew. Furniture, ah how I love furniture. You can definitely find that diamond in the rough in this category. Look beyond bad paint jobs, roughed up finishes and hideous fabrics. You can change that lickety split without too much effort or expense. I've painted lots of pieces. The key is time. You really need to let the piece dry well between coats and take your time to get good full coverage. Several coats is better than one thick coat any day.







Case in point. I purchased the little cabinet above ages ago for the tidy sum of $18. I love that it has simple lines, a glass front and is in great condition. What I don't like? The faded blonde finish. I'm a dark wood person. So after thinking on it for months (I was originally thinking paint). I'm going to stain it (using minwax special walnut). I'm hoping it will turn out well and come close to matching my beloved mid century buffet that it sits on top of. I also plan to either paper or apply fabric to back of the shelves for an added pop. I've thought about painting my buffet too in a moment of boredom, lol. But there's something about it's original finish that I adore. Besides it's in great shape. I did switch out the knobs a while back to coordinate with the chest of drawers I painted. So, I'll be spending some time sanding the cabinet down and then staining it in the next few days. Then I will finish it all off with some rub on poly. I'll let you know how it turns out.