I haven't made soap in soooo long, maybe 2 years? I've actually been buying handmade soap from friends the last several months just to have some for personal use!
This is my regular soap recipe, fragranced with Red Sedona FO which is sweet and fruity. Although I normally use a loaf mold with an in-the-pot swirl, this time I used one of my slab molds so I could do an in-the-mold swirl. I colored the main part of the soap with red mica, and then smaller bits of soap with neon yellow and neon orange pigments to swirl into the soap. I'll add some more pics after I get these bars cut in the next couple days (and some of the other 6 batches of soap I made).
This is the last of 3 belated charity quilts for my do.Good Stitches group (Faith Circle) I finally sent off. This is from June 2014. Our charity is called Restore Innocence and the quilts go to girls who are rescued from human trafficking. This is a basic 9 patch, but half the blocks have a white middle and the other half of the blocks are reversed--all white except for a middle block that is colorful. This idea is from Red Pepper Quilts
I asked for a palette of golden yellow, all shades of pink, all shades of aqua and turquoise, and light to medium gray. I also asked for a soft white like Kona snow rather than a bright white.
My example blocks
And I've found that over the years, the more information you can give people on your vision when you're doing a group project like this, the better. For this quilt I also pulled fabrics from my stash as an example of what I was looking for.
This is such a simple design I was really excited that my friend Rachel did some amazing long arm stitching on it. If you want to see some in progress shots you can check instagram #faithcircle
It's pretty hard to see, but for the binding I used a pink on pink fabric that has tiny little squares...I thought it was a fun echo of the squares in the quilt!
This is 1 of 3 belated charity quilts for my do.Good Stitches group (Faith Circle) I finally sent off. This is from October 2013. Our charity is called Restore Innocence and the quilts go to girls who are rescued from human trafficking. This quilt was based on a couple made on the blog Squares and Triangles
I asked for scrap boxes to each be one color but scrappy (duh) and to use any colors except for black and brown.
These were my example blocks, and then I actually made a few more for the final quilt since someone dropped out of the group during that month.
I just quilted this with a serpentine stitch. Easy peasy!
This is kind of my go to pieced backing. One offset wide strip in between two larger pieces of fabric, and that strip itself has a strip pieced into it, also offset (not in the middle).
You can also see it here when I tried to do a photo shoot with my nephews. Oops, not tall enough!
I finally sent off 3 belated charity quilts for my do.Good Stitches group (Faith Circle) and took some pictures of them. I'm starting with the oldest first, this is from July 2013. Our charity is called Restore Innocence and the quilts go to girls who are rescued from human trafficking.
I chose a Greek Cross block which is a pretty basic block based on a 9 patch. (and to make a 12.5 inch block, starting with 5 inch charm squares works well--you can trim the plain square blocks down to 4.5 and when you make the HSTs you also have room to trim them down if you start with them at 5). Then I asked for it to be scrappy and for a palette of teal, plum/purple, coral, and navy with white as the background color. I like to give my group a little palette as well as my example blocks when we start. I love Colour Lovers to make palettes!
My example blocks
Members from my quilt guild got to take turns quilting on this at a local store during an event we had there. It's a sewing machine mounted on a frame, so akin to a long arm. This is a beads on a string pattern, very fast and easy.
So a friend recently gave me a Vita Mix. A! Vita! Mix! I know! It's pretty awesome and I'm having fun blending all the things. Today I was craving something chocolatey so I tried something I've been meaning to try--pudding made with cottage cheese in the Vita Mix! It turned out even better than I hoped! The Vita Mix made it all thick and perfectly creamy. And cottage cheese is the perfect vehicle to taste like cheesecake with a much lower calorie count that cream cheese (and a nice hit of protein!)
Easy (healthy) Chocolate Cheesecake Pudding
2 cups Cottage Cheese 1 (small) package dry pudding mix (I used sugar free chocolate fudge)* 2-4 T liquid of choice (almond milk, milk, cream) Toppings of choice (crushed nuts, whipped cream, sprinkles, etc)
Blend Cottage Cheese in Vita Mix until smooth and creamy. Add 2-4 T of liquid if needed. Add pudding mix and blend quickly as it will start to get even thicker. Move to container with lid so you can refrigerate. Serve topped with nuts/sprinkles/whipped cream or nothing at all, it's delicious and has a nice hit of protein.
I used 4% cottage cheese and 2 T of heavy whipping cream and my nutrition stats came out to:
per half cup serving: 146 calories, 11 g protein, 14 g carbs, 9 g fat
Of course, if you used 1% cottage cheese and almond milk the fat and cals would be much lower!
*If you don't have any boxed mix or prefer not to use them, I think adding cocoa powder and sweetener of choice would work well too. Since the cottage cheese is thick, you don't need whatever thickeners are in the powder like you would when adding the mix to milk.
I finally finished a queen sized quilt and 3 quilted pillows for my aunt! They are for her ocean themed bedroom.This took me way longer than it should have, because I wasn't happy with my initial fabric purchases and ended up not using about half of what I first bought. I am much happier with this more cohesive color palette, to which I then added in solids in a range of blues, greens, aquas, and tans to flesh it out.
The quilt itself is simple 5 inch patchwork with a single border. After quilting (which I sent out to a long armer) I used the Quilt in a Day Scallops, Vines & Waves template to cut scallops around the border (a design element requested by my aunt) and then did the (bias) binding in a dark navy that has tiny white pindots. And I actually hand stitched it, you know I love me some machine stitched binding but I actually did it "right" on this one
Extra wide backing fabric made it a lot easier. I love not piecing a backing on occasion!
Cutting the scallops. This part wasn't really as hard as I expected! Missouri Quilt Co has a great video on using the Scallop template.
Close-ups of the amazing shell quilting done by Good Knight Quilts
I also made 3 quilted pillows to go along with this. Two larger 24 inch square pillows and a smaller 16 inch square one. For the larger ones I decided to reduce the size of the original patchwork down to 2.5 inch squares, and actually used a lot of already pieced and/or cut squares I had left over from the quilt. I quilted one with a diagonal grid and it took so long. For the other large one I swapped my machines out for the machine that has a cool serpentine stitch, I really like the look of the wavy stitching on this one! And for the smaller pillow, which I wanted to emphasize the border fabric from the quilt, I did some loopy free motion quilting.
Close-ups of the quilting:
Diagonal cross hatch
I had originally bought several yards of this green seaweed fabric to use as a border on the quilt, but then I decided to go in a more "blue" direction. I used a little bit of this fabric in the quilt itself and the pillows, but still had plenty left over so I used it to back the large pillows. I did a basic envelope style backing on the pillows after quilting them with batting and muslin. Then I used the same pindot fabric for binding on the pillows that I'd used on the quilt.
I remembered to add my label, but did kind of a crappy job sewing it on. Grr!
These are currently on their way to my aunt, I can't wait to hear what she says!
Here's a one pan, one serving meal^ that is super fast to whip up. I'm doing low carb, but you could add in noodles or even rice if you want.
1 teaspoon butter 1 clove garlic, smashed 1 small zucchini, cut into ribbons or noodles 1/4 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed and cut into bite sized pieces 4 ounces cooked pork or chicken, cut into bite sized pieces 1/4 cup or more of jarred Alfredo sauce* Black pepper to taste 2 T freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
In a medium high frying pan, melt butter and add garlic. Cook for 30 seconds and add zucchini noodles. Cook 3-4 minutes** and then add asparagus. Cook 1-2 minutes and then add meat and sauce. Simmer for a minute or until sauce and meat is warmed through. Pour into serving bowl or plate and top with black pepper and Parmesan.
*I like Prego Homestyle Alfredo Sauce with Fresh Cream, my brother swears by the Paul Newman kind.
** I prefer my zucchini well cooked but my asparagus still pretty crunchy, so if you like different levels of doneness from this, adjust cooking time accordingly. Also, this was the tiniest, thinnest asparagus I'd ever seen. Yum!
^This is totally a template style recipe sub things in or out at will for deliciousness! You want something bulky (zucchini noodles, pasta, gf pasta, rice, cauliflower rice, etc), something crunchy (asparagus, water chestnuts, pea pods, etc), protein (chicken, pork, steak, tofu, tempeh), sauce (alfredo, marinara, peanut sauce), and something flavorful to top with to jazz it up (Parmesan, feta, sun dried tomatoes)
Adding a couple cups of chopped spinach would have been good too, I just didn't think of it. I'm a big fan of throwing spinach into just about anything you can!
This was a tasty clean out the fridge style healthy meal!
Preheat oven to 400*
4 salmon filets 2 small russet potatoes, boiled until partially cooked and sliced as thinly as possible* 1 tomato, chopped 1 can marinated 3 bean salad**, mostly drained (do not rinse) 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped 1/2 cup parsley, chopped 1/2 cup raw mushrooms, chopped 2 teaspoons dried Italian Seasoning 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil salt and pepper juice from 1 lemon
For each serving, cut a large rectangle of heavy duty foil and spray with cooking spray. Place 4-6 slices of potatoes on the middle of the foil in a single layer in a rectangle, season with salt and pepper, and then place a salmon filet on top, also seasoned with salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix together the rest of the ingredients and place 1/4 of mixture on top of each salmon filet. Bring the two short sides of each foil piece together and fold down several times. Then fold the ends over like a package so that no steam or juices will escape. With a second piece of foil, double wrap each packet in the same way. If not baking immediately, packets can remain in fridge for up to 2 days.
Place your foil packets on a baking tray and bake at 400* for 25-30 minutes, depending on how thick your filets are. To eat, open carefully, avoiding the steam!
*I did not pre-cook my potatoes at all and they were a little harder than I would like, so I would pre-cook next time.
**The 3 bean salad was a nice lazy way to go, but if I had the fresh veggies on hand I would replace with a cup each of sliced fresh green beans and sliced fresh asparagus, along with an extra Tablespoon of olive oil.
Who is ready for another round of the Mini Art Quilt Swap? In this swap, you send a mini quilt to a partner (no extras needed). The quilt should be between 12" x 12" and 24" x 24" and any shape that fits within those parameters is ok (a 15 inch square, an 18 x 24 inch rectangle, a 16 inch circle would all work). In this swap we give our partners a list of 5-10 themes that we would like our mini quilts to be made out of and a few other ideas as far as favorite colors, etc.
My tentative plan is to have sign-ups begin on Tuesday, March 3rd, have them run for about a week and then have a 5 week crafting time. How does that sound? Or, if we wanted it to be sooner the only other option for sign-ups would be to start immediately and close next wednesday Feb 25th. I'm organizing a quilting retreat for 30 people at the end of next week so I have to plan around that! Let me know which sounds better!