Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Completely Finished Schnibbles...

... but unfortunately, it's not THIS month's Schnibbles pattern. I'll cry uncle on March's pattern for now and try to catch up next month. It's all cut out and half-assembled on my sewing table. But I got distracted by the Verna 9-patch I started a couple of weeks back. (I'm hoping for better light on the finished quilt photos, whenever those may happen.)

Anyways, moving along. Below you see the Schnibbles pattern from January - Madeline - made from 2 Aster Manor charm packs. You saw the flimsy back in January, but here it is fully quilted. This pattern has been one of my favorite Schnibbles patterns thus far. I get excited about pretty much any pattern with an 8-pointed star (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C), and this one was no exception.

Here's a close-up of the quilting.

I'm contemplating making this pattern again, maybe from a layer cake? Do any of you other Schnibblers have a favorite pattern so far?

Vital stats:
Started: January 2010
Finished: March 2010
Collection: Aster Manor by 3 Sisters
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday and Fraternal Twins!

Sunday - Artichoke Pesto and Pasta (I also added a bag of frozen peas to the pesto), Asparagus
Monday - Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki sauce
Tuesday - Fiery Three Bean Chili (Foster's Market recipe) and cornbread
Wednesday - Tortilla Black Bean Casserole from La Bonne Cuisine
Thursday - Spinach Risotto
Friday - Frozen Pizza

For more menus, be sure to check out OrgJunkie.

Now, for the fraternal twins part of my post. (Put the phone down, Mom. I'm not pregnant.) Above are two quilt tops - different fabrics but the same pattern!! The one to the left was made using a charm pack and some yardage from Gobble Gobble by Sandy Gervais, and I made the one to the right using a charm pack and some yardage of Verna from Kate Spain. I usually don't ever EVER make the same pattern twice. There are just so many other cool blocks and patterns out there. But the scrappy simplicity of this one is really appealing to me. What about you? Do you ever make the same pattern(s) twice?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Merry & Bright Bowties - finished

A few months ago, I got it in my head that I absolutely had to make a bowtie quilt. I saw this bowtie quilt made from Peace on Earth fabrics, and I figured it couldn't be too difficult to re-create it with another fabric line. I was correct! All it took was a layer cake and some coordinating yardage.

Vital stats:
Fabric collection: Merry & Bright by Sandy Gervais
Started: July 2009
Finished: March 2010
Machine-pieced, machine-quilted

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday and CrockPot Wednesday

I have a lot of crafty irons in the fire right now, with more to come later in the month. I was pretty excited to hear that Jaybird Quilts is almost as nutty as I am, when it comes to tracking her quilts. She keeps a spreadsheet of when she starts/finishes quilts. I'll take it a step further and admit that I keep a spreadsheet of when I start and finish quilts, with an additional column for when I'd like to finish the quilt, a self-imposed deadline, if you will. Sometimes I meet my deadlines, but oftentimes, I end up pushing them back for a month or two.

Right now, I'm working on my March Schnibbles top, as well as a 9-patch quilt top made from some Verna prints (both due at the end of the month). I've been busily slicing up and marking fabric when I've had a chance to watch TV. Now the stacks of fabric are patiently waiting at the back of my table for me to finish up the Verna top.

The Friday Night Sew-In allowed me to make some serious headway on the Verna project, but I still have to finish up sashing and borders. I haven't touched my March Schnibbles since last week. Oops. Maybe it will go together quickly.

For those of you who came for the crockpot recipes, start paying attention here. Debbie left a comment about Crockpot Wednesday one day last week, so I figured I would write up a few of my staples that I make in the crockpot - Vegetable Broth and Marinara Sauce.

First up = Vegetable Broth
Why I Make It Myself:
1) It's a lot harder to find around here than chicken and beef broth, and
2) When I do find it, it's crazy-expensive, compared to the other types of broth.
3) The crockpot makes it super-easy.
4) I make 2 batches (4 quarts) of it in one weekend so I can use up all the mushrooms and get them OUT of my fridge ASAP, and we're usually set for the next month.

Yield: 2 quarts

The Ingredients:
1-2 T olive oil
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 c mushrooms (It doesn't matter what kind. I'd like to note this is the ONLY reason we buy mushrooms)
2 T soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
2.25 quarts (9 cups) of water

Throw all this stuff in the crockpot, turn it on low and leave it alone for 6-10 hours. Use a slotted spoon to pull out all the vegetables, then package and freeze/refrigerate. I usually make it overnight and fill up quart-sized containers to freeze once it cools off.

Marinara Sauce (adapted from Giada's recipe)
Reasons I Love Making It Myself:
1) It's easy.
2) I get to use my immersion blender.
3) It comes out to about $1/jar, compared to $2.25/jar when Classico goes on sale at the local stores.
4) I usually make it the same weekend I do the vegetable broth, so most of my staple cooking is done for the month.

Yield: 3 (28 oz) jars

1/4 c olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
56 oz crushed tomatoes (either 4 14.5 oz cans or 2 28oz cans, whichever happens to be cheaper for me)
1/2 c or so of red wine
salt and pepper to taste
your favorite herbs - I use: basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 T sugar

Throw all this in the crockpot and stir it around. Cook on low 6-8 hours. Puree as needed, unless you like chunky marinara sauce. Store in fridge or freezer, as needed. I usually keep the jars tucked in the back of my fridge.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sew Bee It - Month 1

I don't know that I ever officially mentioned it here, but last month, I joined an online quilting bee via flickr - Sew Bee It. This month, Heather chose the whirligig blocks - she even posted a tutorial on her blog.

Everyone is also making a signature block of their choice for the member of the month to add to their backing. I made the classic 8-pointed star from the leftover blocks I had and signed my name in the middle. Here's to a year of fun piecing!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 3/21-3/27

I haven't quite decided when we'll be eating what, but here's a rough idea...

Sunday - Dinner with In-laws
Monday - Penne with Vodka Sauce (no-show from last week)
Wednesday - Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
Thursday - Eat Out
Friday - Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Sweet Potato Biscuits

For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Best of My World This Week, through 3/20

  • Spinach Ravioli Lasagna - Pasta + spinach + cheese = heaven
  • Healthy Homemade Tortillas - They're a little bit cheaper from the Costco, but this has to be the least expensive way to make these things, and we eat a LOT of them, it seems like.
  • Stoneware Fluted Cake Recipes - I went to a house party a couple of weeks ago for Thirty-One products, and the hostess served a cake that she made in the microwave with a Pampered Chef stone bundt pan. I'm intrigued, so I've been hunting down recipes.
  • Resisting the Time Suck - Some nights after I crawl into bed, I think, "Where did my day go? What exactly did I accomplish today?" This article might help answer those questions.
  • Mad Men Barbie Dolls - "Only" $75 each

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Night Sew-in: Results

As promised, I attended the Friday Night Sew-In last night and was able to get quite a bit done. I finished making all the 9-patch blocks out of a Verna charm pack and some of the sashing. This afternoon, after a few hours of yard work, I laid out all the 9-patches in an agreeable layout. I'm hoping that tomorrow, I can sew together the blocks with sashing and slap on the borders. We'll see what happens.

YardWork: It was our first yardwork session of the season. We have a lawnmower coming in the mail sometime this week, so we needed to get out and pick up all the pine cones and sticks to get ready for the first mow. Here's an after photo. I really should have taken a before photo also. Our work would seem much more dramatic. We still have another few hours of work waiting on us tomorrow, as you can see.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In - late RSVP

Alright, I know it's the last minute, but count me in for the Friday Night Sew-In. All my fabric is cut and slightly sewn. I'm planning to work on a 9-patch using Verna by Kate Spain.

Here's a photo of all the pre-cut Verna goodness available. I'll be using a charm pack and some yardage. With any luck, I'll be done with it by the end of the weekend. Then I can start on my Schnibbles top in earnest.

It's not too late to sign up!

P.S. - If you haven't figured it out yet, we're a boring couple. I'll be sitting on one side of the office, sewing in my PJs, and the hubz will probably be on the opposite side of the room on facebook. Lunchtime's over. Back to work.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Resolution Update

This daylight savings time is kicking my butt, and it's not quite optimal for blog photos either. Last week, I thought that what with the sun rising earlier and all, I could actually snap a few photos of finished projects before I dash off to meet my somewhat hellish commute. But when DST kicked in, it's been much darker in the morning. Unfortunately, it's still pretty dark when I get home in the evenings. Alas, no finished projects to show quite yet. Feel free to click by me if you showed up for eye candy. Instead, I'm bringing you a resolution update.

1) Floss 4-5 times/week. It seems that the only time I even remember that I MADE this resolution is when I write these updates. Oops.

2) 10,000 steps/day - Better but not perfect. I'm averaging 8000 steps/day or so. Surprisingly, it's harder on the weekends when I'm not walking around the library from one meeting to another. It's tough to resist the urge to sit and sew for hours on end.

3) Cutting into fat quarter bundles - Not yet, but I still have big plans for at least one of them.

4) Scrap quilt top from my stash - Not yet, but it's on my list of March goals.

5) Trying new restaurants in Durham - we've only tried one, but I think it might be one of our new favorites. Honey's Diner, right off of I-85 is the only local joint we know of that's open 24 hours and serves breakfast all day long. We've been there for breakfast twice in the past couple of weeks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 3/14-3/20

Sunday - Spring Green Risotto
Monday - Quilt Guild and Leftovers for me; Fake Chicken Sandwiches and Tater Tots for the Hubz (the penultimate vegetarian bachelor meal, apparently)
Tuesday - Black Bean Soup, Cornbread
Wednesday - Nachos
Thursday - French Toast and Veggie Sausage Links
Friday - Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Penne with Vodka Sauce

Other foods to make:
Irish Soda Bread (for St. Patrick's Day!!)
Muffins or Quick Bread for work snacks
Butter Pecan Cake

Yesterday, we made our weekly grocery trip, this time braving the weekend crowds @ Costco. I will declare it a smashing success, not because we stayed within our weekly budget (we didn't), but because I sampled some of the most amazing Dubliner cheddar cheese. I splurged and bought the smallest unit they sell (2 lbs). One pound will undoubtedly end up in one of many fabulous macaroni and cheese recipes. The Hubz and I are still negotiating what to do with the other pound.

LOTS of finished crafty projects to show you/re-reveal this week! You've seen the finished tops over the past few months. With the daylight savings time transition, I'm hoping to get outside while it's still light to take some decent photos later this week.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I think this might be the first time in ages I've done one of these posts. I had high hopes of snapping a few photos this morning, when the sunlight was coming through the windows. I even had a few extra minutes before I had to dash out the door. But of course Murphy's Law kicked in, the camera batteries went dead, and we didn't have any charged ones handy. So I bring to you (live from my HP-osaurus!) blah kind of photos. Hopefully, the fabric makes up for it.

This little number was the Schnibbles pattern from February - Madeline. I'm {this} close to being finished with the quilting. I just need to finish the borders and go back and stitch in the ditch around the 9 big blocks in the middle. Am I the only one who struggles with machine-stitching in the ditch? I can't seem to sew a straight seam to save my life, even when I swap out my darning foot and use the feed dogs.

With any luck, I'll have it bound by the end of the weekend, so I can move on to other things, like my bee blocks and pinwheel sampler blocks I've neglected thus far.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 3/7-3/13

Sunday - Spinach and Ricotta Shells, Asparagus
Monday - Creamy Orzo, Broccoli
Tuesday - Streamlined Ministrone Soup, Bread, Salad
Wednesday - Mexican of some sort
Thursday - Black Bean Soup, Cornbread
Friday - Frozen Pizza
Saturday - Eggplant Parmesan (really going to make it this week, I think)

For more menus from this week, check out OrgJunkie.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Best of My World This Week, through 3/5

I'll go ahead and apologize now. This is going to be short edition, despite the fact I played hooky on my best of post last week. My blogging/web browsing habits took a hit last week, when our house was broken into while we were at work. The hoodlums stole my laptop, our tv, the Hubz's digital camera, ipod, and old laptop. I can't really say that we felt violated by the experience, like most people assume. We know our house isn't exactly Fort Knox (but now, at least, it has a security system). We've been more irritated than anything else, since we now have to deal with the insurance company, do the research to replace the stolen items, etc. All of it seems to be eating into the small amount of free time we have. At the end of the day, however, it's just stuff. And they didn't touch my sewing machines or the Hubz's nice computer (with all our financial info on it), so we're trying to keep everything in perspective.

Here are some links I've seen and loved lately...

  • Gobble Chain Tutorial - Ever since I saw a photo of this quilt posted in the flickr pool for the Gobble Gobble challenge, I thought: "I must make that quilt." Luckily, Natalia read my mind and posted a tutorial for it. She also has lots of other fun tutorials using Moda pre-cuts linked in her sidebar.
  • Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along - Announced about a month ago, this quilt along got started last week. It's not too late to grab a jelly roll that has no plans attached to it and make the 1st block.
  • American Jane pattern - I didn't save the name of this pattern when I bookmarked it, but it's available from Sandy Klop's website. I bought one of those 60 degree rulers for a class I took about a year and a half ago. I'm always on the lookout for quilts where I can use it again.
  • Knock-Off J.Crew Ruffle Tee - This might be slightly above my skill level (which tends to stall out at 1/4" seams), but it can't be all that hard, right?


Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 2/28-3/6

I just looked at my list of crafty projects that I have scheduled for March, and I'm awfully glad I've been cooking ahead a little bit. If I had to cook from scratch every night, I definitely wouldn't be able to get it all done. I don't exactly have a freezer full of meals, like all those OAMC people, but we do have a few meals stashed away for busy/crafty nights. Here's what we're having this week...

Sunday - Bean & Rice Burritos
Monday - Frozen Pizza
Tuesday - Butternutty Macaroni and Cheese, Asparagus
Wednesday - Tacos
Thursday - Baked Potato and Broccoli Cheese Soup
Friday - Stir Fry Rice and Veggies
Saturday - Baked Eggplant Parmesan, Asparagus

For more menus, be sure to check out OrgJunkie!