Friday, January 27, 2012

Sew & Tell Friday

AmyLouWho hosts the Sew & Tell Friday where you can link up your finishes for the week. A primary point of me working on the Swoon blocks so diligently this week is b/c I realized I've been doing a lot of organizing but not a lot of finishing and I wanted to post, dang it!

So this week, I'm sharing block finishes.  Four Swoon blocks for the Swoon QAL. I have 5 more to go but they are not difficult and I am loving the block.
These calicos have been given a new life, don't you think?

Check out the link to the Sew & Tell with the button in my sidebar and see what others in blogland have finished this week. It's great for inspiration and motivation!


Favorite Things Friday - Ice Cream

Yep, I said it. In the middle  of winter, in the midst of my healthier lifestyle committment, ice cream is my favorite thing.

I was asked the other day what my favorite food was and ice cream made the top. Probably because I haven't had it in so long and also because it is and always has been my "cure all" food. Not chocolate, ice cream.

When hubs and I went on our second date, we passed an ice cream truck and I mentioned this. Then later in the day (we were walking around DC) I was feeling peckish. He saw another truck, suggested the ice cream and low and behold, I was a happy girl again. He learned then how easy to please I'd be. Just give me food or ice cream and my moods would be readily handled (or so he thought).

I'm a simple gal when it comes to ice cream. Just the basics here, the stuff that was cheap when I was a kid are what I hold true to now. I don't want a bunch of crazy flavors unless I'm mixing it up myself and that's not that often. 
Give me neapolitan, chocolate chip, mint chop, or fudge swirl if I'm purchasing from the store. Maybe french vanilla for a treat but I have to eat that with some mini chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and a cherry. 

I'm a wicked sucker for those soft serve carts. Always the same, chocolate/vanilla swirl with rainbow sprinkles.  Oh, I could live off that. My hips can tell you I've tried!
If I'm in bind and I just need some ice cream while I'm out and about but fast food is my only choice, hands down, Wendy's chocolate frosty with the chopped up M&Ms.  Oh lord!

I will add, a new favorite, the Oreo Ice Cream at Cold Stone Creamery.  I dedicated a small portion of a post to it here.

I'm craving ice cream these last couple of days. I'm going to try to drink some milk and see if that curbs the craving but if not, and you don't hear from me this weekend, send help. I've over-indulged and gone into an ice cream induced coma.

Oh, I love ice cream... (disclaimer, these pictures were pulled from Google search for pictures)

Check out other favorites by linking on the FTF button on my side bar. Join in yourself. :)


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weigh In Weds.

I've lost some weight again! I haven't exercised much, again. Today's weight: 160.

I tell you this because I want to highlight that change in diet DOES matter, even if you don't exercise.  I still believe and know I need to exercise, I just want to point out that food is part of the battle.  I'm rarely hungry and I'm rarely not satisfied with what I'm eating because frankly, I have splurged and had junk.  What I have done is limit quantity (this is very important) to a normal portion. I've also tried to go less pre-made (processed) and more make it myself or purchase organic or organic-like products.

I've become convinced the processed foods are a big part of my (a lot of our) problems. Aside from the lack of nutritional value, the amount of sodium is insane.  Even on the low sodium stuff!  I buy chunk albacore tuna in water, b/c it's slightly better than the regular dark meat in a can and in oil. The other day, I saw that they had the same tuna but in a pkg which said, "lower sodium". So I compared the two and was surprised to see there was a significant difference.

Now, that said, I bought the low sodium,  brought it home and can taste NO difference. I am on a massive task to reduce the salt/sodium that my family uses. I don't like salt. Let me rephrase, I rarely like salt. If chips aren't salted or no salt on pretzels, I'm a happy person.  My husband would resalt pretzels! Oh, no he wouldn't, I'm exaggerating but he loves his salt.  He's got high blood pressure, too. You'd think that would scare him into being better but his idea of better is no where near my idea of acceptable. I wonder if Dr. Oz can help him or I see reason...

Anyway, the ex hubs liked salt, too and between the two of them, I've seen our kids adding salt to food.  I know this is their example plus the developed taste from high sodium processed or fast food.  I have to change their taste buds. I've made a rule, EAT it first before you add salt.  They take one bite and add salt. So, I am making a new rule. 5 bites before you add salt.

I've changed out the table salt for sea salt grinders.  A little healthier and the work in grinding slows them down a little, I hope.  We will see but I'm determined to at least keep them aware of their choices.

I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, I'm only speaking from my own experience and feelings. Take a look at the processed food you eat and look at the sodium content. Then think about how much salt you add to it after you've prepared it. Does it seem over the top? Take that into account along with the salt you use/ add throughout the day. How's that looking?  While writing this post, I though I should let you all know what the daily recommended sodium intake was so I went to an easy source, "Dr. Oz Show".  Turns out, he has a short and simple article on this. Take a look, you will be surprised.
Think Your Salt Intake is in Control? Think Again.

Since I've referenced Dr. Oz twice now, I should probably mention I rarely see his show but when I do, he makes as much sense to me as Jamie Oliver does through his Food Revolution.  I think that for my life, I can't do everything they suggest and realistically, I don't want to. Some days I want the McDonald's burger.

But here's the thing. There ARE things I can do, in baby steps and incementally. Such as changing out the tuna we eat when fresh isn't possible. Adding more good fish to our diet and reduce the amount of red meat. Vary the red meat so that we are eating leaner (elk, deer) meat where possible. Oh, and since we (I) love read meat, when we are eating cow, grind my own hamburger/sausage. Mix with ground turkey & chicken (that I ground).  I asked for and received from Santa the grinding attachment to my kitchen aid so I could do this.

Eventually, when I stop being fearful of the pressure cooker, I'll start canning.  In the meantime, I'm trying to use fresh or fozen veggies over store cans, if possible (again the sodium thing).

What about you? What do you think you can do this week (over at Annies Ruby Slipperz On My Weigh post this past Sat. she talked about setting mini goals to help you achieve the larger goals) to help you get healthier?

Let me know how you are doing in your journey.  Set a mini-goal this week and come back next to tell me how you've done. My mini-goal with Annie was to get on the elliptical 6x this week. I've already blown that but I am getting on the rest of the week to get as close to it as possible. My point, don't quit if you miss your goal, just keep working at it to feel proud of yourself.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Swoon Block #3

Just popped in to show you my third Swoon QAL block. I've picked all the fabrics but I'm curious to see how the blocks come together. I am purposely just making them and putting them in a pile to let myself be "surprised" along with you.
One additional note, I've been reading many of your posts, but have been unable to comment. Every time I try, blogger just gives me a blank screen. I wanted you to know I was still reading and I'm not neglecting you.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

What iron do you use?

My husband and I had a discussion today. It went something like this:

Me: "While we are out, I want to pick up a second ironing board."
Hubs: "Why?"
Me: "So you can iron your uniforms in the bedroom and not in my sewing room. So there aren't hangers and tags laying around."
Hubs: "Oh, okay. Then I need an iron."
Me: "No, we have one from when we were in our other home that you bought, remember?"
Hubs: "No but that's fine. You can have that one and I'll take the one in your sewing room."
Me: "What? Why? No you are not."
Hubs: "But I love that iron. It glides so smoothly. It works great."
Me: "I know. I spent more money than I ever spent on an iron to get one that would be jsut want I want for quilting."
Hubs: "Then let's buy another."
Me: "Try the one you bought last year first."
Hubs: "I'll give it a try."

-intermission while we shop for other items-
Later at home, I'm sewing away and in comes hubs. He unplugs my hot and in use iron and plugs in the one he "loved" last year. 

Me: "Excuse me."
Hubs (taking my iron): "This one is better."
Me: "Well then I'm buying a new one."
Hubs: "okay"

Hubs goes back upstairs to iron his unifor and I try to press 1, JUST ONE, lousy seam open and I turned his iron off. Unplugged it and hollered to hubs.
"Bring that downstairs when you are done, please."  He laughs, "See? I told you it was bad." 

What's so great about my iron and what's so bad about hubs' iron? Well, nothing really. They both function and function well. I'm sure are many of you with many different types of irons so let me preface the following by telling you that this post is only about MY personal preference.

Here are the irons in question.

Primarily the thing hubs and I love the most about the first iron is the surface on the iron that touches the fabric.  The second one is a bit more like teflon and doesn't glide over fabric with only the slightest pressure. You have to use more pressure with hubs' iron & frankly, for me and my seams, I  have to pay more attention to the way I press the seams.

On mine I also like the slightly less bulky point and the extra steam holes (for wehn I do want to steam).  The hubs' is good for steaming a hanging garment (which is one of the reasons hubs liked it to begin with).

So, it now looks like I'm in the market for a new iron. I can buy another Rowenta and I probably will but part of me wonders about those Olisios I've seen out there or maybe one of you has something else you would recommend.

Do you? What do you use and do you love it?


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Swoon QAL blocks & a Spaghetti Squash recipe

I'm sorry I missed my Weds. weigh-in this week. I found myself a day behind all week at home and work. Finally, today, I've caught up on the home stuff.

I did manage to finish two blocks for the Swoon QAL, today. I cut all my pieces yesterday and the day before. It actually took that long but doing it all at once was the way to go b/c I'm happy to just plug away on each block. Also, once the first block was pieced, it was much quicker to piece the second one.

Finally, I had to change my chosen Swoon QAL fabrics b/c it turned out I had fat eights of the Sip of Summer line and not fat quarters. Not wanting to purchase anything, I pulled from the endless  (and I mean endless) "mom's calico stash".  To keep the blocks feeling modern, I stuck with the white background. I think they are looking good.

Now, a recipe to share.  Please feel free to play with this one. It was a "what do I have around here" type that can be adapted.

Spaghetti Squash w/Meat & Veggie Sauce

1 Spaghetti Squash
3 oz steak, cubed
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce (spaghetti sauce)
1 big handful raw, baby spinach leaves (no stems), roughly chopped
1 small tomoto, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup white wine
salt, black pepper, paprika, dried italian seasoning, garlic powder
grated parmesan/reggiano cheese
extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.  Lay  cut side up on a shallow baking pan and season the top with salt, black pepper, paprika & garlic powder.  I just sprinkle over the top (use as much or little as you want or change the seasonings to your preference). Roast for about 35-40 min.
2. When your squash has about 10 min. left, put a medium frying on the stove. Heat oil on med./high heat for a couple minutes, season the meat with salt & pepper and place in the oil. Brown on all sides & cook through to desired doneness. I like some pink so this takes aroudn 4-5 min. for me with stew like cuts of meat. Remove from pan & set aside.
3. Put onions and garlic in pan and sautee until soft.  Add wine & deglaze pan. Cooking off the alcohol. About 5 more minutes. Add  about 1/2 tsp. italian seasoning, tomatoes, water and tomato sauce. Simmer on medium for another 5 or so minutes. 

4. While simmering the sauce, remove squash from its skin with a fork.

5. Back to the sauce, add the meat to it and any other seasoning you want, mix. Add spinach the last 2-3 min. of cooking to wilt slightly.
6. Serve sauce over a helping of squash on a plate or in a bowl.  Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese and enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Preparations for the weekend

Before I get too embroiled in my post, I want to note I joined a swap and you can, too! It's so simple. Just 5" charms out of 1 yard of fabric. That's all the work you need to do.  Check it out and join us, will you?

I really wanted to show you a picture of something completed or even started and well on its way.  However, I didn't have anything I could show. 

I began to wonder how that could be and then I realized this week, for a lot of time, was about getting organized so that I could just "go" with whatever suited me this weekend for projects.  This weekend, by the way, will be all about my projects.  Because I'm still pondering what to do as the quilting motif(s) for the Make Life top, I decided not to load that.

So here you are, this is actually what I accomplished this week so far:

1) I spent a lot of time wondering why I bought the chicken fabric at this little store, Cottonseed Glory Quilt Shop, in Annapolis, MD. The other fabric, Maxine and the flowers, I know I'll find a use for. I took a spur of the moment trip out to Dover, DE to surprise my mom and have a Mom/daughters weekend at Dover Downs Casino. My sis, SIL and mom were there and I just showed up to surprise mom. We had a great time and if Sis ever lets go of the photos, I'll post photos of just how nutty we got.
2) Son #1, P, and I finalized a design for his monopoly quilt. And then we saw a pattern adn thought we'd use that.  Go figure.  The fabrics have been pulled out and await the rotary cutter.
3) I loaded the quilt frame with my old double wedding ring quilt top in a fit of, "I'm tired of being cold at night and therefore I'm finishing this dang thing." Of course, I loaded it, pulled out the backing and realized that while my top measures 108"wide, the backing fabric is a few inches short.  I do believe that is because I pre-washed. So, I need to add a small border. This took out some, "I'm cold" incentive and now I ponder what border to use and contemplate ironing the back sometime soon. Maybe tomorrow.

Oh, here's a question, I'm thinking about trying a tarpunto effect in the circles of the quilt but I'm hung up on how much waste I'll have from the batting. I want to. Oh, how I want to, but I man, cutting out all that batting around the tarpunto, do I really want to do that? 

4) Also, while considering what quilt to put on our king sized bed, I pulled out the top from P.S. I Quilt's QAL. I realized it was too small for my bed. And then I realized (and come on, has this ever happendd to any of you?) that I had a bunch of blocks left over. I went, counted, found I had enough to add a row to each side. I thought I had planned for a king sized quilt! lol  So, I sewed the two rows this week. When I pull out the iron for the DWR quilt back, I'll get these pressed and added to the Postage stamp top.
5) I managed to choose and cut out fabrics for the Made in Cherry Star QAL. But wait, I didn't just plan for one 60x60 quilt, oh no! I decided to go patriotic and cut out fabrics for 2 quilts! I plan to finish these as 2 of the 6 charity quilts I've committed to. I'll donate them to Quilts of Valor.
6) Finally, I choose my fat quarter bundle, Sip of Summer from Connecting Threads, which I had sitting around from last summer. This is for the Swoon QAL I've joined. (You know, because I didn't have enough to do.)  I tried different backgrounds. Dark blue didn't work as pretty in real life as it did in my mind. White was too white.
How about that tan, basket-looking print? No, didn't work for me.
Maybe the mottled, dark green?  Hmm, that's kinda neat but do I want a quilt with all that green as the background to the stars? If I keep it, would I do the sashing the same or use a different color and if so, what color sashing would I use? 

Or maybe I should play it safe and just use the standard muslin.  The color works with the FQs.  It's a question about stepping out of my comfort zone or not. It worked well when I made the Pinwheel Sampler but can I get lucky again?

My last note, a good one and a sad one. Good news, my FQ bundle from Fat Quarter Shop arrived (for a string quilt probably on next year's agenda) and they are gorgeous! Also arrived, my LSU fabric, which is sad b/c LSU gave away the Championship game last Monday and I'm still a wee bit bitter (okay it might take until next season) about it.  No LSU quilt on the near horizon.
So, how have you spent your week so far?  Was it as productive in non-productivity as mine?

ETA- I slept on it after writing this post and I think I'm going with that mottled green. It's different, for sure, but I want the starst to pop and while the muslin works, I don't feel the stars would blend with the background for a softer quilt. I want ones that stand out from the background.  I'll decide what sashing, if any to use after the blocks are put together. Wish me luck.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weigh In Weds. - Back on track, sort of

I did not track my foods as I ought to which led to some questionable decisions. Those decisions usually resulted in this type of conversation, "oh, it's just this one time, you've been pretty good elsewhere."

Then, when I tried to reconstruct what I ate over the week before this post, I realized it was more like the good stuff was just the one time and I'd been pretty bad elsewhere. 

That said, at least I DID get on the elliptical a couple of times.  I DID reduce my picking (thank goodness).

End result, 162.5.  Back to where I was before Christmas.  Now it's on, people. I'm tired of my sausage arms and my jiggly butt.  I realized I have a 20 year highschool reunion this Spring and I want to look like a trim and fit mama! (Come on, is there anything wrong with wanting those old HS insecurities to be kicked to the curb by showing up full of confidence and eliciting those, "wow, she birthed kids" comments?)

Okay, if there is something wrong with that completely superficial mentality I always tell my kids not to have, then I will say this.  That mentality is second to wanting to feel better and healthier. I'm still having up and down days like that but I have to remind myself, it took days, weeks, months and years to get like I am. 

It will take days, weeks, months and even years to get to and maintain where I want to be. It sounds daunting but if I focus only on the days and weeks with my goals, I know it is do-able.

I'm on Pinterest now and I have taken to pinning photos for fitness inspiration. I've already used it a couple of times when on the elliptical (I can set my iPhone on the machine to play music). I pull up my pins and look at where I want to be or read some inspirational message.

For instance, here's a motivation one and here's another.

And these two, these are "fun" ones to me.  Run for It.  Walk Away.
It helps me. What do you do to help yourself when you are hitting the wall and trying to push yourself through?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Sewing Room Update

I've finally gotten all the fabric letters ironed to the walls.  Using this tutorial, I forged ahead with my words. Then I realized the words weren't enough and I wondered if quilt blocks would be neat. Of course, then I saw fabric at JoAnn's which had quilt blocks on it. Take a look.

This window only has words. It's boring. I need to figure something out for this window.

This window, I am happy with. I like the way it looks with the strip of fabric on either side of the word.

This window, it's my fun window.

I put one block over the door into the living room but it looks lonely, doesn't it?

And this wall, it's sad with it's miscellaneous items but I'll have a small quilt hanging up there soon and will re-arrange those hodge-podge stickers.  Eventually, I'll finish organizing and my control-freak heart will be content... Those boxes will be OFF the top of the armoire.

But that will be later. For now, I'm enjoying the little progress. 


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Minnie Mouse Quilt

So back around Halloween, a friend of mine's daughter-in-law saw a quilt set for sale. It was a custom set for crib size and had the whole package, bumper, quilt, skirt and it was WAY out of her price range, not to mention she wanted a twin size.

She mentioned to my friend that she was going to have a friend of hers (who's sewn clothes but never quilted) make it. My friend halted her there and reached out to me asking if I could recreate it in twin size. A quick look at it assured me I could do this and so off I went. They paid for the materials since I'd have to buy new fabric across the board for it and a new batting b/c I didn't have twin on hand and I made the quilt. 
Hehe - quilt photos are further down but I had to share how I "wrapped it". I saw this ribbon in the Wal-mart craft section adn couldn't resist.
I had trouble determining how to quilt this one but then realized I wanted the Minnie's to be the stars and so a "frame" would suit them and in the pink dot squares, an off-kilter X was easily the way to go.  In the borders (you can see it a bit in the folded phot above) I did a wide loop de loop (how the heck do you spell that anyway?) I think it works and keeps it fun like Disney. 

What do you think?


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Make Life Top, how to quilt?

I started this quilt to be a fun lapsize for a co-worker to keep in her office and remind her of bright days when her days at work were tough.  However, as I was pieceing it, I noticed these little blotches along the way. I pre-washed this fabric but the water was on warm (unrealized), not cold and I didn't take care to keep things with like colors even though I knew better.

So, I decided I would hang on to this one as an extra house quilt. That leaves me with the idea to use these squares as individual test patches for quilting designs and I've decided to reach out to you. What continuous motion quilting designs do you suggest? I plan to practice feathers in the boarders (2 borders = 2 types of feathers).  For the blocks, though, what should I try. If I have enough ideas, I may go ahead and use each block as a different test area. 
Oh! Pebbles.

I've always wanted an excuse to try those. Maybe I'll do those in one of the little blocks.

Any other thoughts?