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1  Sloth Sock Monkey in CHALLENGE 102 ENTRIES by MareMare on: September 05, 2014 03:35:42 PM
Sooo I made this so-ugly-he's-cute Sloth for the Goonies Never Say Die Swap 6 years ago!




Poor Sloth's lumpy face and head is particularly good for making into a sock monkey, because they can be difficult to stuff evenly. No worries here, lumpy is good!  I used some mismatched buttons for his eyes, fun fur for his hair, felt for his mouth, and bias tape for suspenders.  I'm kind of horrified now about how bad the candy bar and the t-shirt are, but hey, this was 6 years ago and my partner seemed to like it!

A couple pics from my partner craft_princess



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2  Double Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake in Cooking: Challenge Entries by MareMare on: August 22, 2014 10:32:30 PM
I don't often make cake from scratch because it always seems to turn out dry, but when I came across this recipe a few hours before my annual quilt guild picnic meeting, I decided to go for it!

http://mybakerlady.com/2014/08/21/moms-chocolate-zucchini-cake-perfection/

I  used a smaller pan than the recipe called for, so I also baked some of the batter in a couple ramekins. I omitted cloves because I don't like them, added 1/2 teaspoon salt, and used special dark chocolate cocoa powder (6 T because it seemed like a lot of sugar, and more chocolate = more better) instead of 4 T of regular cocoa powder, double the vanilla, and 60% dark chocolate chips on top. And I added walnuts to the batter as well as the top. I love nuts Cheesy



It turned out really well, kind of in between a cake and brownies! The zucchini absolutely melts away and you can't even find it in the baked cake. Next time I make this I would up the vanilla even more and leave out the cinnamon.

I think I'm sold on zucchini to make a nice, moist cake! Oh, and it was a hit at my picnic!

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3  NICU Wonky Crosses from Stash in CHALLENGE 101 ENTRIES by MareMare on: August 08, 2014 08:50:53 PM
I love quilting from stash! After hearing about this challenge and a new charity request my quilt guild received, I was trying to think up what to do. I'd had a discussion with some friends about "low volume"* quilting and what it means to different people and how it's different from pastels. With those thoughts rolling around in my head, I approached a bag of pastel fabrics a friend gave me several months ago when she was cleaning out her craft room. I cut some strips of some of my favorite low volume fabrics, and got to work making wonky crosses.



After making the blocks using a simple slash and insert method, I stitched them together and bordered it out with my current favorite Kona Solid--Shadow. It's a newer one and I love it so much more than Kona Ash, which can just lean so yellow/brown. Before this one I feel like there wasn't a good Kona in light gray. I'm basically in love Cheesy



Some simple diagonal straight line quilting and a binding in a cute blue and yellow plaid finished off my little gender neutral quilt! I couldn't get a good pic of the back, but it is just
 a solid backing in a yellow similar to the print I used on the front.



*Everyone does have their own definition of what low volume means to them, but I was talking to a friend the other day and I thought she put it really well. She considers low volume to be a pale (white, cream, light gray) background with a print that covers 20% or less of the area.  In general I use a lot of word prints, white on white, etc. A couple low volume but color containing, low volume prints I really like and use are these:

Riley Blake Red Riding Hood Mushrooms

Lotta Jansdottor Tipu Birds in Schooner



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4  Criss Cross Metallic Xs in Quilting: Completed Projects by MareMare on: July 31, 2014 06:07:38 PM
Earlier this year my guild participated in two different modern metallic quilting challenges, one sponsored by Michael Miller and one sponsored by Robert Kaufman. This is the mini quilt I made with the Michael Miller Glitz fabric. It will be shown next month at Quilt! Knit! Stitch!, a quilting and craft show being held in Portland and put on by Quilts, Inc (the team that makes International Quilt Market happen!)

I used a technique that my charity group had used earlier in the year and changed the layout around just a bit. It's a pretty small quilt (15 x 18 or something like that?) so I did some very small cross hatch quilting. I really liked the effect but can't see myself having the patience to do that on a larger quilt!



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5  Greek Crosses Charity Quilt in Quilting: Completed Projects by MareMare on: July 31, 2014 05:58:39 PM
Hmm, I guess I never posted this quilt! This is from an online charity group I'm in, the Faith Circle of do.Good Stitches. Each month a "quilter" in the group picks a pattern and color scheme and every other "quilter" and "stitcher" sends 2 blocks. The quilters then assemble and quilt and deliver to the chosen charity. Our charity is called Restore Innocence and the quilts go to women rescued from human trafficking.

The color scheme for this was a bit different for me and was inspired by some brand new clothing I had hanging up next to each other--a coral top, a dress that was navy/plum/white, and a turquoise/teal t-shirt. I picked the Greek Cross block and this is what rolled in!

We quilted it on the quilting frame at our local Bernina shop, who is a good sponsor of my quilt guild. And a sweet friend of mine took it on vacation with her and did the binding on the plane!


Top only


The color scheme I gave the group


And the two blocks I made as example blocks
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6  Wonky Star Doll Quilts in Quilting: Completed Projects by MareMare on: July 03, 2014 11:00:38 PM
I wanted a fun, quick quilting project in between some of my other larger projects. After seeing some of my friends post pics of their little girls with baby dolls on FB, I decided to make some doll quilts to give them.



These 2 are for a couple of sisters who are about 3 and 5. Their mom said they like pink, purple, and lime green. I sketched up a quick pattern and got to work, fussy cutting some pink, purple, and green squares and cutting up my neutrals/low volume fabrics for the background. I used 3.5 inch squares so the finished quilts are 15" x 18".




I completed these in 2-3 sewing sessions and it was a super fun project to work on something fun and  get the creative juices flowing again!

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7  Sultry Lap Quilt for Me! in Quilting: Completed Projects by MareMare on: June 26, 2014 01:41:09 PM
I just realized in looking over old posts that I've been quilting for almost five years (This was my first quilt). I've made a couple dozen quilts in this time, but none for me! I've started a couple, but they've languished in the to-do pile as other things oust them for my crafting time. I decided the other day to finally finish one of them and have  a quilt of my very own!



Several years ago I found this Sultry fabric by Basic Grey for Moda. I looooved it! I bought a layer cake (10 inch squares of every print in the line, sometimes with multiples of some/all prints) and proceeded to sew the crap out of it. Pretty soon I had used it up, so I bought a Fat Quarter set of the entire line for myself for my birthday one year. And promptly lost interest in the fabric.



Fast forward a few years and I felt like I should do something with it. So, lacking inspiration, I cut the fat quarters (18x22 inch squares) into 6 x 22 inch strips. Then I proceeded to sew the strips into large log cabin blocks (16 inch finished blocks). I stitched the blocks together in a 3 x 4 grid, started sewing some borders from scrap pieces of all different lengths, and then lost interest again.



The other day I decided it was time for me to have a quilt, so I dug out the top and border pieces, finished the border, stitched the back up (I had bought yardage for backing along the way) and got that sucker basted!



Quilting it was a bit difficult on my home machine since it's a little bigger than I usually care to wrangle with (about 60x76) but I persevered and completed it in about 3 marathon quilting sessions.  



I did my go-to fully stitched binding and had it in the wash the night before last. That evening I cranked the AC and used it as I watched tv!



I've seen the "selfish sewing" hashtag on Instagram and while I agree with the concept, I don't care for the negative connotations associated with the word "selfish." I wonder what might be a better hashtag?

It makes me ridiculously happy every time I look at it or use it, so I guess the moral of the story is--make something for yourself! As crafters I think we are always taking care of others and making things for other people, but I encourage you to take time to make something for you or your house that will make you happy. You're worth it!

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8  Metallic Offset Arrows in Quilting: Completed Projects by MareMare on: June 22, 2014 11:12:46 PM
I just realized I never posted this! I made this wall quilt as part of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild Challenge using Robert Kaufman Metallics. We got a selection of Metallic Quilter's Linen, Metallic Tusseh, and Metallic Burlap to use. They are all quilting cotton but printed to look like other materials, very cool!

For my quilt I revisited my Offset Arrows pattern that I created using ThreadBias.  I also used some RK Carolyn Friedlander Botanics (the orange) and an RK Kona solid.

I quilted in the ditch in a neutral thread and then used gold metallic thread to hand quilt it, and randomly found some RK backing fabric in my stash that perfectly matched! I used a flange method of binding for that little pop of color around the front edges.



Hand Quilting details


The backing...the orange and turquoise in this backing fabric perfectly match the fabrics on the front of the quilt, and it came out of my stash! Happy surprise!



An in progress picture

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9  Meal Planning and Prep Cook-Along in Recipes and Cooking Tips by MareMare on: June 15, 2014 11:45:05 PM
Hey all! I thought it would be nice to have a spot to share our meal planning tricks and tips and to help us keep track of grocery lists and prep. I keep an ongoing grocery list in my phone (add to it whenever I realize I need something). Before I head to the grocery store, I transfer everything onto it to an Excel spreadsheet that is organized by sections so I don't have to double back in the grocery store (dairy in a column, canned foods and condiments together, etc). Then I check some of my pantry staples (nuts, seeds, dried fruit, oats, sugar/oil/flour) to see if I need more of any of those.)



I tend to have lots of pantry and freezer staples on hand. Each week I loosely plan 3-5 meals and then pick up anything extra I need that isn't included in my regular shopping/staples. Some of my ideas for this week:

--Breakfast pizza (already bought ready made crust from Trader Joe's)
--Pork Chops and mashed sweet potatoes
--Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
--Ground Turkey Stir Fry
--Homemade chili, baked potatoes

All I need to buy to make these meals are mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, cabbage, chuck roast, and ground turkey, so those get added to my in progress grocery list.

Usually I try to do food prep on Sunday nights, but this weekend was busy so I'll do it tomorrow. For this week, all that means is grilling or sauteing up a bunch of chicken breasts, cooking some hard boiled eggs, and making a batch of salad dressing. These will be for easy snacks and lunches, and go along with lunch salads I send to work for my mom and her co-worker. I try to do different proteins each week, some weeks it might be beans instead, or I'll make a big batch of tuna fish with lots of veggies in it.

I'd love to hear how you meal plan and prep and what you are working on this week!
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10  Thai Inspired Peanut Noodles in Recipes and Cooking Tips by MareMare on: June 10, 2014 07:40:59 PM
This is an easy recipe that you can change up with any meats or veggies you like. All amounts are estimates because I cook by taste. This might seem like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are kitchen staples. You're really only dirtying one pan (plus one more for boiling pasta, but that won't need any scrubbing to clean!). Be sure to have all your sauce ingredients out and all your veggies chopped before you begin cooking anything.



Ingredients:

6-8 chicken tenderloins (or 3-4 boneless chicken breasts)
seasonings of choice (seasoned salt, granulated garlic, ground ginger)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Teaspoon sesame oil

Half a 13 ounce box of whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine

1/2 white onion, sliced thinly**
2 carrots, sliced thinly**
1 small zucchini, sliced thinly**
3-4 green onions, green and white parts sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
(other veggies that would be good: cabbage, snow peas, bean sprouts, broccoli, green beans, asparagus)

Sauce:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon Fish Sauce
1-2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1-2 teaspoons Rice Wine Vinegar
1-2 teaspoons Mirin
1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Siracha hot sauce, or to taste (optional)

1/2 cup chicken stock (or my fave: 1/2 cup water plus 1/2 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon paste)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Toppings:
Chopped peanuts
Chopped Cilantro
Chopped green onions
Lime Wedges


1. In large pot, begin to boil your water to cook your pasta. When it comes to boil, add pasta and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook 5-6 minutes or until al dente (the pasta will cook a bit longer later) and strain.

2. While waiting for water to boil, in a large frying pan, heat olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil. Add your chicken and season. When cooked halfway through, flip over.



Remove from pan when chicken is about 90% cooked, it will cook the rest of the way later. Slice chicken into bite sized chunks.



3. In same frying pan, add 1/2 cup water and deglaze pan.

**

Add your zucchini, white and green onion, carrots, and garlic. Continue to add a bit of water as it steams off, so that the veggies cook but do not brown. When cooked push to the edge of the pan so that there is space in the center of the pan.



4. In a bowl, combine peanut butter, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, lime juice, soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, fish sauce, and Siracha.



Pour into center of pan and stir and let heat through. Mix with veggies on sides of pan and add 1/2 cup chicken stock.



Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Not salty enough? Add more soy sauce. Seems bland? Add another splash of fish sauce, lime juice, Siracha, and/or sesame oil.

5. Add the cooked al dente pasta noodles and the chunks of cooked chicken into the pan.



Stir well and let simmer gently until chicken finishes cooking through and everything comes together. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and serve.

6. Garnish plates with chopped green onions, chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, and/or lime wedges.



**Note: I'm totally obsessed with my new Paderno Spiralizer and I Spiralized my veggies. Seriously, I am never chopping an onion again!
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