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21  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Greek Cross Charity Quilt on: April 13, 2015 02:38:18 PM
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.

22  COOKING / Dessert / Easy (Healthy) Chocolate Cheesecake Pudding! on: April 08, 2015 06:09:21 PM
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.

23  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Scalloped Ocean Quilt with Quilted Accent Pillows (pic giant) on: April 07, 2015 02:20:53 PM
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 Smiley

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


Free motion

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!

24  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Zucchini Noodles Alfredo on: April 03, 2015 09:01:02 PM
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!
25  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Salmon Foil Packets Nicoise on: March 27, 2015 09:51:42 PM
This was a tasty clean out the fridge style healthy meal!

Serves 4

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.

26  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Mini Art Quilt Swap Round 8 on: February 17, 2015 11:22:27 PM
Hey peeps!

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.

Here is the link to Round 7 and a few links from previous galleries:

Mini Art Quilt Swap 4 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 5 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 6 Gallery
Mini Art Quilt Swap 7 Gallery

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!

Mini Quilt by waggonswest for MareMare in Round 7
27  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / My Boxcar Tote~Aqua/Coral/Navy/Red on: January 28, 2015 03:45:13 PM
A couple weeks ago I won a sewing class to local shop Modern Domestic. The class was for the Boxcar Tote by Alexia Abegg. I haven't made a ton of bags in the last couple years so I was super stoked! After spending way too long picking out fabric from my stash, I narrowed it down to about 8 fabrics. I only needed 6, so I did some creative swapping with the pattern pieces.

I'm really happy with how it turned out and will definitely make it again! I added a long strap, I like a shoulder strap and the pattern only calls for the small handles. The only thing I don't like is that I used the right kind of interfacing for most of the bag, but a slightly lighter interfacing on the large lining pieces, so the whole thing is just a touch saggier than I like. Lesson learned!

I added a magnetic snap to one of the outer pockets, and divided the other outer pocket into two. (all of the things I changed here were suggested by the teacher! I likes these changes and would do them next time as well)

Inside the bag I divided the inner pocket off-center so the smaller section would easily hold my phone.

For the fabrics I used Cotton + Steel, Kate and Birdie, RK Essex Linen in Steel, the alphabet print is Baby Jane, the scissors print is Half Moon Modern, and the main print is from the Handmade line by Macrina Busato. The blue binding is Squared Elements and I have no idea what the tiny aqua dot binding is. Maybe from Joann.

I used another print from the Handmade line a while back on a project for kittykill! It's such a cute line, I wish it had received more attention.
28  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Heart and Dump Truck Quilted Pillows on: January 28, 2015 03:27:37 PM
Every Christmas I help my nephews make something for their mamas. This year I decided we'd do pillows. My younger nephews' mom and grandma both drive dump trucks, so when I got this awesome Busy City paper piecing pattern I knew that would be great! The boys picked out the colors and fabrics and I think they did a great job! The 6.5 year old picked out the pinks for his mom (she does love pink!) and the 9 year old picked some cute ones for his grandma.

For my oldest nephew's mom I decided on a simple heart pattern that I just quickly sketched out. Again, he picked out all the fabrics. After I pieced and quilted each pillow, the boys got to use the sewing machine! I did a simple flap style backing with some cute winter themed fabric, used my new-to-me embroidery machine to create a label right on the back, and let the boys stitch them up! I had fun playing with some of the decorative stitches on the new machine as well, very fun for quilting!

Before stitching into pillow top

Proud boy and happy mama!

29  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Star Trek TNG for the BF on: January 10, 2015 12:06:24 PM
So I was making this cross stitch for my boyfriend's birthday...in August. Even though I finished the cross stitch in time for his birthday, it took me until Christmas to finish the back and get it in the hoop frame. I actually found this oval frame in my stash and it was the perfect size! I think I had picked it up at the second hand store. This pattern is from Wee Little Stitches.

I really hope they make another one for the original Star Trek series!
Edit: I sent a message to the designer asking if she was planning an original Star Trek and she already had one! It's in her Craftsy shop but not her Etsy shop, where I was looking. Yay!

He likes it and it is decorating his cubicle at work.

edit: here's a close-up Matt sent

And some in progress pics:

Worked on it at the park a lot!

30  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / 15 Quilt Projects in 2015 [Closed] on: January 02, 2015 11:11:37 PM
Welcome to the 2015 Quilt Along! Please join on in as we work on various quilting projects this year. The point of this Quilt Along is to motivate ourselves and others to work on their projects and provide a space to discuss projects during and after their completion.

To join our Quilt Along, please post a list of the 15 quilt projects you will be working on this year. It's ok if you have more or less than 15, but we're shooting for 15(ish). Feel free to join any time throughout the year! Projects may be large or small, full sized quilts, baby quilts, quilted mug rugs, wall hangings, whatever you are working on this year!

I'll keep track with links in the second post of people's lists. When you post a project on Craftster from your list, strike it out and be sure to share a pic with us of the finished project, or post a link to where you posted it on Craftster!

2011 QuiltAlong Thread
2012 QuiltAlong Thread
2013 QuiltAlong Thread
2014 QuiltAlong Thread

Quilt above by waggonswest in the 2014 QuiltAlong
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