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1  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Wonky Star Doll Quilts 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!

2  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Sultry Lap Quilt for Me! 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!

3  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Metallic Offset Arrows 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

4  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Meal Planning and Prep Cook-Along 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!
5  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Thai Inspired Peanut Noodles 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!
6  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / Open Wide Noodlehead Pouches--Girls and Hedgies on: April 29, 2014 12:11:05 PM
I tried a pouch tutorial that I hadn't used before, on the advice of my friend klum78 (she's the bag/pouch master!) This is the Open Wide pouch from Noodlehead. I made the one with the sweet little girls for kittykill. It is the large size.



I've started taking selvage pics of fabric because I can't always remember what it is. This is from the "Handmade" line by Macrina Busato.



Then I was a little sad to give it away, so I made myself one out of some favorite Michael Miller fabrics (from the "Hedgehog" line and also the "Flora and Fauna" by Patty Young ). This is the medium size because my scraps weren't quite big enough for the large size. I lined it with solid lime green for a fun pop of color



7  COOKING / Dessert / Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free!) on: April 01, 2014 10:37:43 AM
I've been making these cookies for years and they are so good! Who doesn't love a recipe with only six ingredients? Seriously, the texture is just like a regular cookie and it's kind of mind blowing to me that they don't contain any kind of flour. This recipe is adapted from Clean Eating.



Ingredients:

1 cup Nut Butter (Almond Butter works well, or Make Your Own like I did!)
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave syrup (Alternately, 3/4 cup of brown sugar but I prefer the texture in the final cookie better when using the liquid sweeteners)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup to 1 cup chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar (but let's face it, 1 cup is > 1/2 cup in all ways)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Makes 12 large or 24 small cookies.

Directions:
1. If you just made nut butter, you can throw the first five ingredients in the food processor you just used. If you don't want to dirty your food processor, just mix everything except the chocolate together with a hand mixer if you're lazy like me, or a wooden spoon if you're buff.

2. Add the chocolate and mix. Remember, More Chocolate = More Better. Don't worry about the grammar, I have an English degree, if you're certified in the rules of a language you're free to play around with said rules. What you need to be worrying about is if you have enough chocolate up in there.

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, because ain't nobody got time to do extra dishes. Roll dough into balls and bake for 8-12 minutes (less for smaller cookies, more for larger. #Math #CommonSense.) Although you can make 12 large cookies or 24 small cookies with this recipe, let's face it. You don't win friends with small cookies. Or Salad. Do the right thing.



8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / All the Nuts! Nut Butter on: April 01, 2014 09:57:53 AM


Did you know you can make your own nut butter? It's stupid easy! All you need is:

Nuts!
Salt (optional)
Oil (optional, neutral flavored like vegetable, canola, etc)
Food Processor (or probably high speed blender? Can't you make anything in those?)



Step 1: Get some Nuts!

I'm using Mixed Nuts and Pecans from TJ's, raw almonds and some raw cashews (not pictured). I mistakenly bought low salt mixed nuts, but that's ok, we can fix that. Also, I picked out the Brazil Nuts. I don't care how much Selenium those have, I don't dig 'em. You can use multiple nuts like I did or pick your favorite nut. But if you make Brazil Nut butter you don't have to share with me.

Step 2: Throw them in your food processor! See, nasty Brazil nuts on side.


Step 3: Spin it 'round like a record baby, round right round round!

Process on low until it starts to come together. Add a few pinches of salt. Mmm Salt.

Step 4: Keep processing! You can do it!

You can add a few drippy drops of oil if it seems really dry, but it should start getting butter-y around 5 minutes or so. Taste and add more salt if you like.

Step 5: Put in container with a tight fitting lid. Try not to eat all of it at once. Mmm Nut Butter. Store in fridge if you want. Or don't, I'm not your boss.

9  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / A Grandma Baby Quilt on: February 28, 2014 01:41:49 PM
I made a "new Grandma" quilt for my best friend's mom, who just became a grandma. I also made one for my best friend since she is a new aunt!





I just did some simple modern cross blocks and used an Essex Linen for the background. I really wanted the blocks offset and at first was going to add in some half sized blocks (rectangles) in between these to make it an offset rectangular quilt, but I couldn't decide. I went to Instagram with my two designs and this one was overwhelmingly the winner. I love the partial pink blocks!







I did a fun free motion quilting pattern that a friend of mine came up with that is like beads on a string. You sew straight for a few inches and then go around in a circle about 3 times and then continue a few more inches. Each row is slightly offset from the row before as to where the beads go. Not sure if you can see it at all though, my camera broke and I can't get any decent pics from my stupid phone.



I used one of my favorite Patty Young prints on the back. Luckily, a few days after I used this up I found some more in the pink colorway on clearance Smiley Yay! Some yellow polka dots for binding and I was good to go.


I gifted this quilt and another one to my best friend this week. Here they are all wrapped up in ribbon, ready to give!


10  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / An Auntie Baby Quilt on: February 28, 2014 01:34:27 PM
I decided to make a quilt for my best friend, who just became an auntie! This is a baby quilt she can keep at her house.

This pattern is a Dutch Pinwheel and I played around with the sizing before I started so I could make big 20 inch blocks. Since I used 4 prints in each block and needed 4 HSTs of each, starting out with the 4 at a time Half Square Triangle method was perfect! In this method you do the math for your finished block to find your starting square size' (If anyone wants the formula I can look it up, it's in a book in my room somewhere). Take your two different fabrics in the starting square size, put them right sides together and stitch around all four sides. Cut on the diagonals and you have 4 HSTs that you can then trim down to the exact size needed.



When I was finishing the quilt up I happened to find this argyle fabric in the clearance room that worked perfectly for the backing!



And I've been loving black and white stripes for binding lately, such a fun contrast to the bright colors I like to use!

I gifted this quilt to my friend and another one to her mother this week, here they are all wrapped up in ribbon, ready to go!

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