Monday, November 30, 2009

Menu Plan Monday + Schnibbles Confessions

I feel like I say this every time I actually post a menu plan, but it's going to be another busy week. We're still painting/de-wallpapering the house, and doing the work thing so we have $$ to buy our paint. Add a little holiday shopping in the mix, along with a trip home this next weekend to get a carload of stuff from the parents, and well, we're going to be busy again.

Sunday - Greek Hummus Salad + Homemade Pitas
Monday - Tortellini Spinach Toss + Green Beans
Tuesday - Tomato Soup + Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (using up the very last of the summer basil)
Wednesday - Vegetable Lasagna, Salad, Yeast Rolls
Thursday - Spinach-Stuffed Shells, Green Beans
Friday - Frozen Pizza

For more weekly menus, be sure to check out Org Junkie's website!

Okay, on to Schnibbles news. Just *yesterday*, I finally finished cutting out fabric for November's Schnibbles pattern. I gave it the old college try, but needless to say, unless some post-Thanksgiving miracle occurs, I'll be sitting the November parade (and possibly December parade) out. I hope to catch up on the Schnibbles tops sometime in January, once the house is painted to our liking, and I've unpacked the sewing supplies a little bit. In the meantime, don't expect to see a lot of Schnibbles productivity on my blog, but do check out the Schnibbles parades on Sinta's and Sherry's blogs tomorrow! The pattern for November is oh so cute, so you're in store for a real treat!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Merry & Bright Table Runner 2009

When Moda started their Moda Bakeshop, I was skeptical. I reasoned that it was just a big marketing ploy, and that I wouldn't be able to do any of the projects without buying the specific collection used in the tutorials. Kind of like the recipes they put in the Williams-Sonoma and King Arthur catalogs - you know the ones I mean, right? They look amazing and sound tasty, but you won't get the same results unless you have the company's super-secret (read: expensive) packet of ingredients or jar of the special sauce that makes the texture turn out *just* right. Or I was concerned that all the projects would require you to buy a lot of pre-cuts in one collection. And I just don't have the money for that right now.

Then I took a good look at my fabric closet and realized that I do kind of have lots of charm packs. What would it hurt to try just one little charm pack project? So I tried the first charm pack project eva - the table runner tutorial from Camille - and it was great! I finished the top in about an hour, used up an entire charm pack, and now I have something to adorn our small table for the holidays. I won't lie. Some of the tutorials DO require more than one pre-cut. But there are a good number of tutorials that can be done with just one charm pack, jelly roll, layer cake, or whatever your pre-cut of choice may be. If you've got lots of pre-cut fabric that you have no specific plans for, AND you're itching to start a new project, check out the Moda Bake Shop for some inspiration. A good number of those projects would make great Christmas gifts. Be on the lookout for another completed MBS project next month. And in the meantime, be sure to check out the Moda Bake Shop flickr pool - lots of neat variations and ideas in there!

Started: August 2009
Finished: November 2009
Machine-pieced, Machine-quilted

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Things

Things For Which I Am Thankful...

A la my friend, Merissa, I am coming up with a list of silly stuff I appreciate. Of course I'm thankful for my family, friends, dog, house, etc. But there's nothing like appreciating all the small things in life, right?

1) Mom buys fabric. Lots of it. And it's all "the good stuff." It makes me sad, really sad, that Mom and Dad are moving 16 hours away in a couple of months. But the fabric hoarder in me is thrilled that Mom's opening up her sewing room for me to devour this weekend so she doesn't have to pack/move/unpack so much fabric in the coming months. Anything that's not in a blue project bag or one of the rubbermaid bins is fair game. I've been awaiting this day ever since my first rotary cutter hit my first piece of fabric. So much potential in that room. It's only somewhat organized, but it's all so lovely. I'll report back on my looting adventures next week.

2) Law & Order & Its Ubiquitousness. I discovered, this past weekend, that I kind of traumatized my freshman-year roommate with all the L&O that I watched. She won't watch it now. Ever. She hears the gavel-dropping sound in her nightmares. Whereas, I will watch any time of night or day, regardless of how many times I've seen that particular episode and have a Pavlovian drool-inducing response to the gavel-dropping sound. Luckily, USA and TNT seem happy to appease my insatiable cravings for this show and often air the various versions of it in rapid succession, barely pausing for closing credits before beginning a new episode.

3) Google Reader. The other night, The Hubs and I were pondering deep thoughts over dinner, like what adult life was like before the Interwebz, which led me to think about my web-browsing habits. My Google Reader account has solidified my web addiction like nothing else, even Facebook (gasp!), and it has also entrenched me firmly in the Millennial Generation. I expect to be able to follow a conversation online without having to remember to click on a random website continuously, AND I expect to be able to search my archive of blog subscriptions to find the exact photo I saw on a quilt blog using the fabric collection that I just bought. If I come across a continuously updated page I like that DOESN'T have an RSS feed, I get mad. Well, okay, maybe just frustrated. But I'm supposed to be talking about things I appreciate. Moving along...

4) Libraries. Maybe this ought not be considered a "small thing", since well, I work at one. But over the past couple of years, I've discovered that any time I get the urge to shop, I can go to the library instead, walk out with a big stack of stuff for FREE, WITHOUT the inevitable buyers' remorse that accompanies all my other transactions. It doesn't even really matter whether or not I read them, since I didn't directly pay money for them. As long as I return them on time or remember to renew them before they're due, it's a fail-proof system.

5) Paint chips - they're FREE. Okay, their costs are probably factored in to the cost of the paint, brushes, etc. But I can walk out of Lowe's with a 1" stack of paint chips in my hand, and no one will say anything to me or ask for a receipt. It's fantastic.

6) Target. It doesn't really matter which section of the store I'm in. Something beckons me (and my wallet) from every shelf. Sigh. It's all so pretty. I'm going to do my best to stay away during the holidays. Inevitably, I buy something for myself every time I go in to buy something off someone else's registry/wishlist.

So there it is - my list of somewhat shallow/silly things that make me smile. Hope you find lots of thankful-inspiring things in your own life today!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nature's Chorus Table Topper

Back in February, I went to see my parents one weekend. And even in the thick of planning a wedding, I discovered that I cannot be without a project for a whole weekend, especially when Mom has a whole sewing room full of projects (potential, started, almost finished, etc.). I think I have project envy. That Saturday, after we had our obligatory wedding planning update and visited with a few wedding vendors, I "made" Mom take me to the quilt shop to pick up something I could work on while I was home. I walked away with a charm pack of Nature's Chorus from April Cornell and some complimentary yardage. A quick perusal of a few of Mom's magazines revealed a pattern for placemats that was easily expanded into a tabletopper.

After piecing the top, I discovered that it was a lot greener than I anticipated, but I persevered on, more concerned with having a finished project than getting the colors just right.

I won't lie. It's definitely not my favorite small project I've made thus far, but it served its purpose well. It gave me something constructive to work on while I was at home that weekend, and I got to play with a new collection. Well, it was new at the time.

Started: February 2009
Finished: November 2009
Machine-pieced, Machine-quilted

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Menu Plan Monday on Tuesday (as always)

I'm so grateful for a short week at work! We had a great weekend - went to a good friend's wedding up in Annapolis, then to Falls Church, VA to visit some other friends who just bought a house, too. Now we're both exhausted. Last night, we kept saying to each other, "At least we only have 3 days of work." Even the dog's exhausted. He stayed with the in-laws while we were gone, and once we got him home, he went straight to his crate and stayed there all night long. I think there's some kind of weird force field in our apartment that sucks all the energy out of the living creatures when they cross the threshold. Even the ladybugs that have been buzzing around our ceilings for the past few weeks seemed pretty lethargic last night . By the way, does anyone know how in the world to get rid of those things? They're cute and all, but I don't like them clustered in all corners of my living room.

In food news, we ate at a Gordon Biersch restaurant once we got to Annapolis. It was incredible. I had never been to a Gordon Biersch before. When she first came around, our waitress mentioned that they put garlic in everything, and I was thinking, "I have found my mecca." We ordered and split lots of food - Jalapeno Artichoke Spinach Dip and Chips, Greek Hummus Salad, Veggie Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Spinach, and Artichokes. It was the culinary highlight of my weekend, shortly followed by Betsy's amazing reception food - mac and cheese, green beans, and barbeque sandwiches. How can a bride go wrong with that kind of comfort food, I ask?

We're planning to go out to the house and work like whoa every night this week since we'll be in TN visiting my parents over the weekend. So this week's menu is blessedly low-maintenance.

Sunday - Leftover Potato-Kale Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Monday - Tortellini with Vodka Sauce, Broccoli
Tuesday - Spinach and Goat Cheese Risotto, Broccoli
Wednesday - Frozen Pizza + Salad
Thursday - THANKSGIVING with the fam (so excited!)
Friday - Kingsport gatherings
Saturday - Dinner with the fam - Dad probably cooks

For more menu plans this week, be sure to check out OrgJunkie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Menu Plan Monday for a DIY Week

This is a short week, since we're going out of town for a wedding this weekend. Added to that, we're going to the new house each night to try and clear out the ugly, and that's been quite the ordeal. We're currently in the process of taking out wallpaper - TWO layers of it - in the master bathroom. We still have 2 wallpapered rooms to go after that, along with lots o' painting. Here's what we're eating/have been eating to sustain us through our diy work...

Sunday - Inside Out Ravioli (one of my childhood favorites), Asparagus
Monday - Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas
Tuesday - Foster's Market Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli
Wednesday - Potato, Kale, and Gruyere Soup, Bread
Thursday - Frozen Pizza
Friday - Betsy and Will's Rehearsal Dinner in Annapolis
Saturday - Visit Natalia and David in DC!

For more of this week's menu plans, be sure to check out OrgJunkie!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

November Goals

So last month was incredibly productive, according to my standards at least, but I'm not so sure about this month. Nevertheless, here are my goals for November:

I know it sounds ambitious, but I think if I can create 2 tops and quilt 2 tops each month, that should be a good mix of piecing/quilting in my creative life. Even if they are small tabletoppers or tablerunners, I'll be putting a slight dent in my stash, not just of fabric, but of batting. Oh, the leftover strips of batting that have slowly taken over all the corners of our apartment. Anything 7" or wider I keep, reasoning that I'll make potholders or coasters or something out of it someday. Never mind that I have coasters coming out of my ears, but someday, maybe I'll do something with it.

Here's to another productive month!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

October Accomplishments

For anyone who knows me kind of well, it's probably not a surprise that I keep a spreadsheet of all my quilting projects, complete with self-imposed deadlines and notes to myself. October's list of deadlines was what you might call ambitious, but I managed to almost finish all the projects. My goals included:

Finish the September Schnibbles top - DONE
Start/finish the October Schnibbles top - DONE
Finish the Merry & Bright table topper I started back in August - DONE, except for the binding (post + picture to follow as soon as the binding's done)
Finish the Nature's Chorus table topper I started back in February - DONE, except for the binding (post to + picture follow as soon as the binding's done)
Finish the Pumpkins Gone Wild quilt top I started about a couple of months ago - DONE (pictured)

When I first started quilting, I felt like I couldn't start one project until I had finished another, from pre-washing the fabrics to sewing down the binding, it had to be complete before I could even plan the next project. Obviously, my standards have loosened, as evidenced by the dozen or so quilt tops tucked away in a Rubbermaid bin under the bed. My enthusiasm for creating something with all the new yummy fabric that comes out has vastly eclipsed my need for closure. Nowadays, I tend to piece for a few months, then quilt for a few months to try and catch up. I'll also take a couple of nights off every few months to just sit on the floor with some fabric, a cutting mat, and a rotary cutter and watch a season of the West Wing while I cut up the next few projects. I'd like to think my pseudo-system has made me more efficient and productive. But I'm afraid it's made me slightly more frazzled to have so many projects in different stages.

What about you? Do you have a pseudo-system?

The quilt top pictured is what I would consider my most notable accomplishment for the month because:

1) I had doubts that I would be able to make a quilt of hexagon blocks without pulling all my hair out. But Heather Mulder Peterson's book, Sizzlin' Sixties, made the technique so easy. Added to that, all the quilts in there are adorable. I want to make them all. Twice.

2) These colors are definitely not my normal palette. I've always admired Sandy Gervais's collections in a "Hmm, that's a cute collection but I don't know that I would want lots of it" kind of way. Up to this point, I've contented myself with a few charm packs here and there. But sometime last year, Fat Quarter Shop put the Pumpkins Gone Wild jelly rolls on sale for $15 each. I can't resist a good deal, so it probably wouldn't have mattered what collection was on sale. It was worth it to have some jelly rolls to practice various techniques. Even with all the orange, I'm quite pleased with how the quilt top turned out.

I know the picture's not awesome or anything - I promise a better photo shoot once it's quilted. But be patient. That might not happen until next Halloween.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Menu Plan Monday, 11/1-11/7

So, the husband keeps painstaking track of our monthly budget, and I'm sad to say that in the month of October, I dug us $67 in the hole on groceries - that's a whole extra weeks' worth of groceries. I'm really not sure how it happened. I mean, we only eat meatless meals, for crying out loud, and we buy our food as un-processed as possible. But this month will be better, I'm determined. With that in mind, here's our menu for this week...

Sunday - Tomato-Basil Soup with Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Monday - Creamy Orzo with Broccoli [Note: I always double the amount of vegetables and halve the cream]
Tuesday - Spinach and Ricotta -Stuffed Shells
Wednesday - Potato Soup
Thursday - Black Bean Burrito Bake and Mexican Rice
Friday - Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Eat Out (the folks come in town!!)

For more weekly menus, check out Org Junkie!