Monday, January 25, 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 1/23-1/30


Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Pizza and Salad
Tuesday - Cheesy Baked Tortellini
Wednesday - Nachos
Thursday - Sweet Potato Chili and Cornbread Muffins
Friday - Broccoli Cheese Soup and Salad
Saturday - Vegetable Lasagna


This week's menu is pretty similar to last week's, mainly because I went out of town in the middle of the week to help the folks pack up for their big move this week. Then when I got home, I just didn't feel like cooking anything. Luckily, we didn't have to make any extra trips to the grocery store. Here's to a week of fun cooking (and eating!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Best Of My World This Week, Jan 15-22

I was looking back over my todo lists for this past week and realized I never posted my pseudo-weekly festival of links. So here's what caught my eye last week...


CRAFTINESS
  • A Quilt from Fabric I Own - I've had this fabric on hand for a couple of years now, but I can't decide what I'm going to do with it. I've seen a couple of photos out in the blogosphere and even a few quilts at quilt shows made from this quilt. But the simplicity of this one is just so elegant.
  • Quilter's Daily Deal - I've long been a fan of Amazon's Daily Deals, but I didn't know about the quilter's equivalent until last night. These are good deals, people. All day yesterday, they sold a stack of Moda turnovers for $1.01 PER STACK. Unfortunately, they were all out. But don't worry, they re-post new deals every night @ midnight.
  • Ironing Board Cover - I've been a reader of Moda Bake Shop since its inception, and most of the tutorials are super-cute but not always appealing to me, since I'm usually drawn to bigger projects instead of smaller ones. This small project caught my eye because my ironing board is hideous. My brother "borrowed" my small travel ironing board when I was home one summer, and I hate to discourage good habits like ironing in my brother, so I let him have it. When I got back to NC, I was lucky enough to snag a full-sized ironing board from the dumpster at the Hubs's (then boyfriend's) apartment complex. Don't judge. College students whose rich parents are still footing the bill throw away lots of stuff in perfectly good condition. It's functional but definitely ugly.
  • Perhaps the easiest burp cloth tutorial ever - This is a great gift idea if you have loads of friends who seem to be popping out children. I follow a similar pattern to the one that Amy posts, and I can attest that these burp cloths are quick and easy to make and always appreciated.
  • Flickr's Quilting Bee Group - I'm toying with the idea of starting up a virtual quilting bee sometime this year, and this group's discussion forum has been especially helpful in laying out all the ins and outs, ups and downs, etc of participating in and running a quilting bee. Fun reading if you're into collaborative quilting.

FOOD

LIFE
  • United State of Pop 2009 - Anyone who's been in the car with me knows that I have a weakness for cheesy pop music. All my educated friends and coworkers listen to npr all. the. time. I like the funny shows on Saturday morning, heck, I even have them set up as podcasts to listen to at work. But when I'm in the car, the idea of talk radio just can't compete with the croonings of Jason Mraz, Justin Timberlake, and yes, even Miley Cyrus. This link is a collage of lots of chart-topping poppers from 2009, most of which are on my Guilty Pleasurz playlist.
  • Watch Free Documentaries Online - When we moved, I packed up our Netflix envelopes and it took me an Entire Month to find them. So we resorted to renting movies from our respective libraries at work and finding free stuff to watch online. I was pretty surprised to discover that this site actually has notable documentaries, not just movies uploaded by kids doing their end of semester projects.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WIP Wednesday - Still Schnibblin' Away

I'm so excited to show you the finished Madeline top! I think it might be my favorite Schnibbles pattern thus far, and the soft paisleys and florals of the Aster Manor line make it a prime candidate for a Valentine's Day wall hanging. The Hubz saw the finished product, and his first reaction was, "Great, the pink-ification of our living space has begun." He didn't believe me when I assured him that it would only hang around Valentine's Day - maybe next Valentine's Day, since there are other projects I want to finish in the next month ahead of this one. I'm also excited that we now have a clothesline I can use to take photos. The Hubz thinks it's ugly, and I don't really line-dry our clothes (even though I know it could save us lots o' money on our energy bill), so he's ready to go out there and dig up the posts. But it's such a perfect tool for hanging up quilts, don't you think?


I'm still stitching and pressing away on the Picnic top. I hope that by next week I'll actually have some finished blocks to show you. The more I work on this quilt, the more I like it. The Basic Grey fabric is definitely more modern than what I usually choose, but I'm especially fond of the peppermint prints.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Sweet Potato Chili, Corn Muffins
Tuesday - Broccoli Cheese Orzo Bake, Salad
Wednesday - Taco Salad
Thursday - Cheesy Baked Tortellini, Broccoli, Salad
Friday - Frozen Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Inside Out Ravioli, Broccoli, Salad

This weekend, we finally caved and did it. We became Costco members. All the people in the neighborhood who we've spoken with have told us that the place is amazing. So on Saturday, we ate a hearty breakfast and set out on our mission. We weren't blown away by any means, but we were pleasantly surprised with some good deals on almond butter, flea medication, and avocadoes. I'm not going to be able to buy everything I need there, but I think it will help us save some dough on some of our staples.


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

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best Of My World This Week, Jan 8-14

CRAFTINESS

FOOD
  • Joy the Baker's Top 10 Quick Bread Recipes - Quick breads appeal to me because they pretty much = cake for breakfast, except not quite as guilty. She includes a few savory quick breads on here also that sound extremely tasty and useful for using up some of the stray leftovers in the fridge/freezer.
  • Recipes with Pioneer Biscuit Mix - This mix, NOT Bisquick, was my grandmother's go-to solution for biscuits. After years of trying to perfect the art of made-from-scratch biscuits, Mom caught Mamaw scooping out Pioneer mix into the mixing bowl one morning and discovered that even the most brilliant cooks take short cuts sometimes. The grocery stores I frequented in Carrboro never carried it. Apparently, in Durham, they know what's what.
  • 12 Great Muffin Recipes You'll Love to Bake - Can you tell I've had carbs on the brain this week? I don't know what it is, but all the bread recipes called out to me. Like the above list of quick breads, this link offers a few savory options to off-set the cavity-inducing sweet recipes. Recently, I've come back around to the idea of muffins and cupcakes. Before, I was put off by the amount of work it takes to scoop the dough evenly into the muffin pan. Then I learned Sara Foster's secret: Use a cookie dough/ice cream scoop. Duh. Now I use my muffin pan at least twice a month.
  • Cheap Chianti is often better than the expensive stuff (Slate) - As someone who refuses to spend anymore than $8-$10 on a bottle of wine (and that's the upper limit for special occasions - Valentine's day, special dinners with the fam, etc.), this article validates my stinginess. They never really define "cheap," though.
  • Upside Down Caramelized Apple Cake - Just reading the title makes me want a big bowl of vanilla bean ice cream.

LOL

LIFE
  • Securing Online Passwords - It seems like at least once a month, I set up some kind of new online account. Coupled with the alarmingly high identity theft stats, this article isn't necessarily fun to read, but it's definitely informative and instructive.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday and WIP Wednesday all in one

We've had a plan this week, I promise. I've just been lazy in posting it.

Sunday - Hashbrown Casserole, Breakfast Burrito for Hubz, English Muffin Sandwich for me
Monday - Black Bean Soup and Corniest Herb Muffins (from Dorie)
Tuesday - Foster's Market Mac & Cheese, Salad (but we both ate huge lunches when we went out to eat with our respective coworkers, so we just had salad)
Wednesday - Double Decker Tacos
Thursday - Broccoli Cheese Soup and Baked Potato
Friday - Frozen Pizza, Salad
Saturday - Eat out?/Leftovers

For more weekly menus, be sure to take a look at OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday post for this week.

My life has recently been taken over by unpacking. Next Wednesday will mark our one-month anniversary of being in the house, so I feel like most of the rooms should at least be usable. Before last night, you couldn't even walk around in the dining room or living room. Now just the living room is a disaster area. Oh, and I've found that we moved waaay more than we should have. I already have 3 boxes of our junque ready to take to the Goodwill, and I still have a room full of stuff I haven't unpacked yet.

In crafty news, I'm still working on the Madeline top. Over the weekend, I figured that I pretty much had the hang of the block construction, so I was safe to cut up the fabric for the remainder of the blocks. Since the hard work is over, I've told myself that piecing the rest of the blocks will be easy-peasy and won't take any time at all. Well, it did take a little while. I finally settled in tonight, finished the blocks, and pieced together the middle. The borders come next!



In the background, I'm also working on my November Schnibbles top. I'm determined to finish this one by the end of the month. Again, I've done the hard part. I've matched up all the fabric pieces for the individual blocks. I just need to set aside some time to sit in front of the machine and piece away.



Oh, and my fabric came in for the Modern Siggy Swap, which means that the next time we settle down to watch TV, I can curl up with my mini cutting board and start going to town on the corner blocks.


Time to go to bed, so I can be rested enough to sew tomorrow!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Best Of My World This Week

Awhile back, I thought I'd try to do a link-tastic summary of what's caught my eye throughout the week. Well, I fell off the wagon after the first post. I'm going to try it again. Maybe I'll maintain some kind of consistency. Here are some links that looked interesting to me, organized by category.

CRAFTINESS
Garden Trellis pattern (from Jelly Roll Quilts - one of my favorites)
and Shangri-la by 3 Sisters
I have this book and some spare jelly rolls. What's holding me back? Oh yeah, all those other projects I have queued up.
Modern Siggy Block Swap - Started up by Rachel @ p.s. i quilt. I just signed up for my first block swap EVA (f2f or online)! Of course, I have other projects to do, but I've never done a block swap, nor do I usually make projects from the requisite modern fresh fabrics. I'm expanding my horizons. Can't do the swap but want to make some blocks? See her tutorial for great instructions.
Wine Cork Corkboard Project - I save all our wine corks because, well, I'm crazy. Finally, something to do with them instead of throwing them in the crystal bowls we received as wedding gifts.
Rouenneries Disappearing 9-Patch with Flying Geese - It combines lots of my favorite quilty things in one photo. I scored a few pre-cuts of Rouenneries for Christmas, and now I'm on the lookout for ideas of how to use them. One of my ideas? This pattern from Fig Tree Quilts.

FOOD
The 2010 All-Inclusive All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Guide - Okay, I couldn't decide whether to put this under food or under LOL. It's about 80% tongue in cheek and 20% serious.
DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte - Didn't get your seasonal fix of this specialty latte from Starbucks this holiday season? Here's a recipe to make it at home.
Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes/Day Makes Bagels - They make it sound so easy. We LUV bagels, but we're still on the lookout for a good Durham bagel shop. Maybe this will be a suitable alternative in the meantime?
The Top 10 Best No Alcohol Drinks - Did you have a little bit too much over the holidays? Here are a few booze-free ideas for party beverages in the new year.
Dulce de Leche Coffee from The Pioneer Woman - Surely you've seen this woman's website - she's so much fun! I usually don't like coffee, but this beverage might change my mind.

LIFE, etc.
Odd Economic Indicators - Alright, it's a little dated, but I get a kick out of factoid articles. A quick look at some interesting trends that coincided with the recession (that's supposedly over).
Bringing Order to the Chaos of Notes - Have lots of post-it notes all over the place? Still forgetting stuff? Have all your notes for various projects in different places? This article reviews a few software programs that help folks organize all their notes and research.
Staving Off the Diderot Effect - I'm trying to be especially mindful of this, since we're planning to slowly fix up the house over the next few years, instead of doing everything at once.
MyPublisher - Free software to create photo books, calendars, etc. Will probably come in handy when the disc of wedding photos arrives.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WIP Wednesday - Madeline Blocks



Like I said yesterday, I'm hoping to make one Madeline block per day for January's Schnibbles pattern. If I can keep it up, I'll be done with the star blocks by this time next Wednesday. When I decided to piece the blocks like this, instead of in my usually assembly line fashion, I was worried it would take a lot longer to finish. In the end, it probably does take longer, but I'm digging the fact that I get to complete a whole block each night.


[Pay no mind to my dirty floor, please. We still haven't unpacked the vacuum bags.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Favorites

[Inspired by Camille]

Fabric line (for now)










Aster Manor by 3 Sisters. It would look great in a Victorian Valentine's Day quilt, don't you think? This is my 1st block for the Schnibbles pattern this month. Usually, I try to batch all the cutting, marking, stitching, ironing, etc. But this month, I'm just not that patient. I want to see how all the blox turn out IMMEDIATELY. So I'm planning to make one block/night until I've made 12? 16? I can't decide. But I just don't think I can stop at 9, like Carrie recommends.


Picture of me and the hubz










This canoe outing took place a couple of weeks before the wedding. Dad won a fancy schmancy state award for community service and had to go to Nashville to accept. The whole fam packed up and caravaned to Nashville to stay with our respective buddies. The Hubz and I stayed with one of my BFFs, who took us on a canoeing trip that Saturday. The river was less than rapidly rolling, and we kept getting stuck. The Hubz (Hubz-Elect at that point) was kind enough to keep pushing our canoe out of the mud when it got stuck, while we snapped photos for Facebook to document the journey.

Room in the house










The kitchen now! The arrival of the stove/oven sealed the deal. I christened the oven tonight with a less good pan of spinach lasagna. Absent-minded person that I am, I forgot to put in the cottage cheese. Oops. It wasn't quite as tasty as usual, but I guess it's appropriate to start the New Year with a lower fat version of spinach lasagna? No doubt the office/sewing room will take the kitchen's place, but the walls are still a terrible Irish Spring green, so I can only stay in there for about an hour at a time until my eyes start to hurt.


So what are your favorites?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Menu Plan Monday - we finally have a stove and oven!

After roughly a week of eating frozen meals and coming up with creative ways of using our panini press, I'm THRILLED to announce that we have our oven/stove unit hooked up in the kitchen. There it is to the right, in all of its double ovenned glory. I plan to make a few dozen cookies sometime this week to celebrate. Here's our menu plan for the week, in which we get to use our stove and oven...


Sunday - Crockpot Curry
Monday - Creamy Orzo, (Crab-Stuffed Flounder for me), and Salad
Tuesday - Spinach Lasagna, Salad, Bread
Wednesday - Black Bean & Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Thursday - Butternut Squash Soup
Friday - Frozen Pizza and Salad


Not of the vegetarian persuasion? For more menus - many meat-filled, be sure to check out OrgJunkie's website!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Resolutions


My Christmas Quilt!
Originally uploaded by meganalayne
It's that time of year again. Folks are filled with hope and a sense of self-renewal, and I'm kind of getting swept up in it all. But at the same time, I'm trying to be rational. Yes, I'd like to quilt all the flimsies I generated last year, but the pull of new projects and fabric collections is almost always too strong and distracts me from half-finished projects. Yes, I'd like to lose 25 lbs or so, but I have a serious problem with the munchies. Yes, I'd like to have a house that looks like a Pottery Barn photo, but the Hubz and I are packrats to the core, messy ones at that, who are always in the middle of wrapping up/starting various projects. So with all that in mind, here's my conservative list of 2010 resolutions...

1) Floss at least 4 nights/week. I know, I know. I should be flossing daily. Don't tell my dentist, but I haven't flossed in months. It's time to jump back on the wagon for the majority of nights in a week.

2) 10,000 steps/day or bust. I've been wearing a pedometer for about 6 months or so now, so I have a pretty good idea of how many steps I [don't] take on the average weekday and weekend day. No excuses this year. Even if I have to run laps up and down the steps to get it up to 10,000, Imma do it. (BTW -I might have to do that tonight. I refuse to fall off the wagon on 1/1.) I realize that this probably won't generate a ton of weight loss. But I have found that the more steps I take, the less my back hurts. Gah, I'm turning into such an old woman.

3) Crafty resolution #1: Cut into my fat quarter bundles - Christmas Past (Minick & Simpson) and Mistletoe Manor (3 Sisters). The Mistletoe Manor is definitely my favorite of the two, so that might take some hand-holding. I still haven't found that perfect pattern for it, but I'm toying with the idea of expanding this month's Schnibbles pattern (Madeline) to adapt it for Fat Quarters.

4) Crafty resolution #2: Make 1 quilt top from my scrap bins. Once I finish projects, I dutifully cut my larger leftovers into 2.5" and 1.5" strips and charm squares. Sometimes, when a pre-cut doesn't have enough of one shade or another, I dig through the bins to round out my color palate, but besides that, almost all the leftover pieces just sit there, unused. Now those leftovers are exploding out of their bins. The time has come to dip my toe into the world of scrap quilting. The past few months, I've been seeking inspiration from Bonnie Hunter's site. That woman's pure genius, I tell you. She lectured at one of my first DOQ Guild meetings, and I love her approach to quilting and piecing. Many times, as I browse the Interwebz looking for new or old fabric to buy, I head over to her site for a few minutes to remind myself how much I can do with what I already have.

5) Try out at least one new Durham restaurant each month. Even though we were in Durham (well fake Durham) for a couple of months before we moved into the house, we haven't really taken the opportunity to explore the food scene. Even when we want cheap Mexican, we find ourselves toying with the idea of driving all the way to Chapel Hill for our familiar haunts. That's just silly. It's time to embrace change, try new things, etc. etc. Being the ultimate nerds we are, as we watched the New Year's Eve celebrations the other night, we crafted a spreadsheet of Durham restaurants that have generated some good buzz among our friends. What we're looking for: a tasty diner (preferably one that always serves breakfast), a good pizza joint, a standby cheap Mexican place, Asian food, a local pub, and somewhere nice enough to take the folks. We realize that it will probably take longer than a year to fully explore our options. We MAYBE eat out a couple of times a month, after all. But we should be able to get a good start on our explorations in 2010.

I'm excited to get started on a great year! We have lots of projects queued up for the house and our individual interests. We're definitely going to learn a lot and have a ton of hard work ahead, but we're hoping to make time to play hard, too.

Good luck with your 2010 resolutions!!


Oh, and the photo has nothing to do with this post. It's my Christmas quilt, made (hand-quilted) by Mom - completed last year! I LOVE it. Since we moved in the middle of the holidays this year, we didn't do much by the way of decorating. But this quilt made it on our bed, and it made me smile every time I got ready for bed. THANKS MOM!

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009 Accomplishments


Stack o' quilts
Originally uploaded by meganalayne
Last night, we were sitting there watching the Raleigh acorn drop on the local network, talking about how old we are since we only recognized a few of the singers, and reminiscing about 2009. It was a pretty big year for us, by any measures - we got married, bought a house, and we're slowly but surely becoming BFFs with the folks at Lowe's and Home Depot as we make our upgrades.


With all that going on, I haven't been as productive with my quilting as previous years, but I've LOVED all the quilts I finished this year.



On top of the finished projects, I have bookoos of quilt tops to keep me busy, partially due to the Schnibbles challenge, but I've been cranking out a few on my own also. I would love to invest in a longarm machine one day, so I'm telling myself I need to have practice tops once I get one :)


Mom and Dad are moving 16 or so hours away later this month, and Mom's been cleaning out her sewing room, which has meant lots of new-to-me fabric has entered my stash. I can't wait to start on my 2010 projects (planned and unplanned)!


Hope everyone has a year filled with sewing and other craftiness!!