Thursday, January 28, 2016

7500 Views...

... or Gratitude

.... or paying attention...

On Facebook this morning, I played one of those silly games..... it was... "what is your most viewed photo?"  So... I bit... which one was it?

This one....


..taken one week ago with my little point and shoot camera which is literally held together by transparent tape.

7497 views.

And I don't even see well.  I can't use my phone camera because I can't see the options.   So.... a lucky shot.

7497 views.

and I reposted it so it will grow.

7500 views?  I don't have that many friends or followers, for sure.

So it must be a photo that resonates with others.

And I like that.

And yes, I am lucky that this view is from my deck.  Actually a truth is that I have no curtains so I can see it from my bed.

BUT

what view do YOU have?

I mean... I have lived with lots of people
in this house
and they don't see this view.

They go on about their lives.

I started shooting this view several years ago.
At sunrise.
Most mornings.

I SEE the view in front of me.  I have to see it in order to take the photo.

What view is in YOUR life that you watch every day?

What can you take a photo of so that you can see the changes?

BTW - just for fun..... just so you know (though if you are one of my followers, you already know this) ... I am NOT a photographer.  I really don't see well at all.  I have big thick lenses in my glasses.. and I have a wonderful specialist who has helped me continue to wear contact lens - sometimes..... and those with reading glasses :-)  

So it was indeed a lucky shot - one of hundreds I have taken and posted..... and there ya go..... another life lesson.  Consistency is a winning behavior.... just like gratitude and awareness....


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Snowy Sewing....

   I know it's early for a WIP post.... but for the last few days...
.....between waiting for the new baby call (still waiting... we're just a few days overdue but with a late baby, we've all been prepped for weeks!)
...and being snowbound....

I've been sewing up a storm!

I had promised myself after the first week of the month, that I would work on projects already started... and I have ALMOST done that :-)  But I wanted to share what I have been working on for the last couple of days.   I'll get some pix before I post :-)

I wish I was the kind of person who could work on one thing.... and then say - voila!  There you have it!  Look what I completed!

But if you have been following me, you know that is not the way I work.  And I do get a kick out of looking at the line-up as I pass through these sewing days...

So - here we go....

Writing-wise.. I completed my quilt stories!  There is a new page on this blog with my Quilt Completions and the stories to go with them.  I have a little story to go with each quilt that I have finished.... each quilt got a blog post... each year has a post with all the links.. and there is a page with links to each year.  And here is a link to that page... Finished Quilts   .Whew!

My first FINISH! for 2016... Sandcastle..... I still need a photo and will be able to post that story.

I quilted the second quilt in my stack - Toy Box - and it has made it to my handwork basket for embellishments.

 El's Kitchen.... a quilt class from 2014.. it's been languishing for a year while I stopped to take the time to figure out how to do the borders.  I have laid out the borders and applied a vine.  And I prepared applique flowers for it.. drawing and applying fusible, cutting them out, etc.  [I also spent a day drawing and preparing fusible for 2 other upcoming applique projects that I have set aside for now]

I changed from natural to white thread in my machine with the intention of working on quilting my next prepared quilt.. Snowball... but I don't have a proper set-up for quilting yet and it hurts my shoulders to do too much of it.  So I moved on....

.. to my white quilt.  One of my daughters expressed an interest in a white quilt.... and I have a log cabin in progress that is mostly white with very slight variations in ecru.  I need 80-some blocks and am up to 35 now.  A long-term project since I can't seem to work on one color for very long :-)


... and while I am piecing log cabin blocks..... I cut and prepared more churn dash blocks.  I assembled one of those last week and it was too narrow.  I had enough fabric to make another 8-10 blocks for both quilts and am preparing those at the same time.  I have stitched all the HSTs for them in the last couple of days.  About half are pressed and trimmed....



...... began the scrappy piecing on one of the Ireland Sampler blocks I began last year [20 1-inch 9-patches!]

.....  started the Modern HST Sampler sponsored by Blossom Heart Quilts.
... worked on my orange scrappy 9-patch stars..



.... made hanging sleeves for 3 wall hangings and done the machine stitching on them.. They have now moved to the handwork basket.

.... while the handwork basket is increasing.....

......I stitched the binding on the Toy Box quilt..

......I finished my second Hawaiian applique (need to prepare both for hand quilting and start stitching the next one - I have two more cut and basted)



..... and am working on finishing a crochet afghan... did the blocks last year and am putting borders on the squares and stitching together...

So... lots done.... a little completed.... much moving along...

So.. today since there is too much snow to go to work.... and, as yet, no baby....
I plan to ..
......lay out the El's Kitchen applique flowers, press and fuse them on the 4 border pieces... perhaps begin the applique stitching (perhaps set aside and stitch on the other stuff)
.....cut the strips for the next 20 or so log cabin blocks and perhaps begin piecing
..... cut out the pieces for Block 2 of the HST sampler




Monday, January 25, 2016

Finished Quilts 2016

Yay!!  I am SO glad to be able to start this page!

1.  Sandcastle

2.  Spooky


3.  Toy Box




4.  Droid






5.  Snowball Mystery



6.  English Sampler



7.  Primer #1 Bedrunner



8. Sea of Squares



9.  Scrappy Stripes



10.  Chocolate and Flowers


11.  Meadow


12. Heart of the Home


13. Amish Sampler



14..





Quilt Stories - Sand Castle 2016

I am so excited for this to be my first FINISH of 2016!

Since I only started it last summer..... I think.....   Anyway... it is made from a panel print.... and I added Snail Trail blocks to look like waves... sort of.



And then a checkerboard border....

Another learning piece..... to measure my sides before adding a border.... to square up the checkerboard pieces..... and to plan out my machine quilting.


Something a little absurd about finishing this up in a snowstorm.... but I like it!

Quilting inside a printed panel is always problematic.. but I didn't thoroughly think through how I would quilt the rest of it.  Again, though, as with my piecing and color choosing.... as I gain experience with machine quilting, choosing how I quilt, section by section is still going to be fine as long as I begin in the middle.  My new go-to resource is Christa Watson's new book... Machine Quilting with Style...  can't say enough about this woman and her encouragement!

I spray basted this one to keep it in place.




My edges are a little ruffly but all in all, it makes me smile and I learned a lot [which, after all, is what I really ask of a project :-)]

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pantry Challenge Jan 17 - 23

I am having fun with the pantry challenge - though it may make a boring post!  It's time for me to begin to get creative.... using things that have been shoved around in the freezer / pantry.  Still way too much in there - I might just extend into February with this challenge - .... or maybe I can make it a habit of deliberately using on a more regular basis?  Maybe... 

But I start this week with the easy nights.... we ate out one night and they accidentally gave us a larger pizza than we ordered... so there was enough left over for a lunch and dinner!


Another couple of easy nights.... one with hot dogs, oven fires & a couple of random soy burgers I unearthed..... and another with a Schwan casserole + an additional bag of mixed veggies.  (I do keep a few frozen ready-to-go items for when my brain won't cooperate)

I have a half bag of frozen chicken tenders (now I have one quarter) that I used in this recipe One Pot Creamy Garlic Noodles  Altered - of course to fit my own food collection!  I replaced one can of chicken broth with an aging can of veggie broth.. and didn't have enough milk (almond) so added water to make up the difference.  Also added an extra bag of frozen broccoli on the side to mix in.  I like extra veggies, in case you haven't figured that out yet.

And then I finally got around to using the supplies for Cajun Red Beans and Rice.... an authentic recipe that I tweaked.  I used the spice mix I made up last week (now nicely stored and labelled in a cleaned out empty spice container), the rice I cooked in one of the clearance cans of veggie broth that needed to be used.... and the red beans (I slow cooked) and a Chicken Hardwood smoked sausage from the freezer.  I must say that this is a really spicy recipe so tone it down if you don't like fiery food!

So far, I still am not buying anything on sale or to stock up!  Just bread and fruit and wine so far.....  And pet food, but that doesn't count!

Which is hard.... but I feel good about the $$ savings using what I already stocked up ON.

The problem with buying to stock up is having a PLAN to USE the stuff you buy :-)  I've done better in the last year or so... I still have too much.. but I have made a habit of envisioning a specific use in the near future before I buy anything.

Like fabric or yarn ..... has to have a specific use in mind.....  the same with food.  No buying simply for a sale.  I think that has been one of the best improvements for me financially.  Not that I still don't have way too much!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pantry Challenge Week 2 Jan 10-16

okay so I am still getting meals out of the pantry/fridge.... and probably can for a long time - though I will have to buy staples like sweetener & coffee.  Last week, I had to replenish our fruit bowl.... and next week I will have to replenish the cut veggie and salad supply.  But NO stocking up!

But... onward...

finished up the pasta fagioli one night and a can of buttermilk biscuits that have been hanging around in the fridge (there were 3 cans from the holidays and now I have one left)

made lazy lasagna one night - bag of frozen ravioli, half bag frozen crumbles (ground beef wannabes :-), one can marinara & shredded mozzarella.  Served with cut veggies.

so.. using the red beans and the rice I cooked up last week...
***  I wanted to make a Cajun red beans and rice.  I keep a turkey version of polish sausage in the freezer (one of my flavoring staples!  I usually slice and cut in quarters to add to millions of things... we don't eat a lot of meat but love the flavor bites!  And I'm thinking that a couple of polish sausages per month between the two of us won't hurt!)
   I didn't have Cajun seasoning but was fairly confident that all the ingredients were in my pantry and, after consulting my search engine... I found I was right!  Using the recipe I found here, I made up a small container of Cajun seasoning :-)

Soo.....seasoning made..... beans ready... cooked the rice.... and ended up freezing the ingredients!   My daughter has had a few bouts with contractions that has played havoc with my dinner menu!  I thought it the part of better judgment to use up what is in the fridge  and not create something with leftover potential!

Made up some nacho dip with a can of refried beans, a jar of my oldest homemade salsa and velveeta... and also pulled out some very ripe avocadoes and mashed them up with salsa too.  [salsa-wise, I ended up using the half jar in the fridge and starting a new one... so there is a NEW half jar... yikes!]

AND... last night we went out for pizza!  The resto accidentally made a large instead of a medium so dinner is covered for tonight too!

I am beginning to get through the 'usual' things we purchase and eat and locating those items that get buried.  It's a little more challenging and I look at some things and wonder... WHY did I buy them?  I like that it makes me think!  I think NOW trying to use what I spent money on - and I think AGAIN the next time I see something random on sale!

Still not sure when we will be going to my daughter's home... so current plans are:
 * a ready-to-eat thawed white beans and ham with the last can of biscuits and the end of the cut veggies
 * morningstar burgers with oven fries (unearthed from freezer and using potatoes & English muffins I have)

We'll see how the rest of the week goes..... we will be keeping my grandson so I'm not sure what I will prepare (or not!) while I am there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

WIP Wednesday Jan 20, 2016

I skipped last week due to the fullness of life!

I am lucky.. my life is full....

my youngest had a 21st birthday last week - and one of my daughters is imminently due with her second child (my 6th grandchild!)

So my brain is whirling with the joys of life :-)

BUT

I craft on :-)

Scraps and getting back on planned projects has been the order of the last week!

Back to the scrap projects I started last January - several different projects - 3 each in several colorways....  (which will seem like random blocks until I finish my thoughts and do something with them!)



- bought some of the background fabric for the Shenandoah quilt-along and have prepared one block for stitching

- started prepping the fabric for the quilts I need finished for birthday presents for March and April

- working a bit on the last two Advanced Virginia blocks

- started the stitching on one of the Aurifil 2015 block of the month minis - I think I'm on May or June.

- stitched on the Dublin quilt strips (I need about 200 3-block strips of random greens)

- one little hexie flower and a good bit of prep work so I can keep going

- and am working on assembling one of the churn dash quilts I pieced last year.
 
It's big but I like it with no border so will make another row to widen it.... also another set of blocks for the second one I still need to assemble... so that is next in the piecing pile.. .more churn dash blocks!

So..... scraps, ongoing projects, handwork, assembly and new starts

For crochet -

one more dishcloth... and I'm done with these for a bit I think.... unless I go somewhere and have to grab 'n'go  (all I need is a hook and the yarn)

and started in the 'use up' mode again with some of my yarn...... lapghans for the VA hospital.


Whew!  More than I thought!  BUT I hope to wind up most of the stitching projects... and am ready with handwork for when I go to watch my grandson for a few days!
 


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pantry Challenge Week 1 Jan 2-9

okay - so... good intentions & marginal success!!

I say marginal success because I ended up putting more INTO the freezer but that is common in week 1 of a pantry challenge.  Also - the goal IF I put something IN the freezer is for it to be ready to eat (not a preserved ingredient like BROTH )... and I did pretty well there.  I really try to watch the freezer because I want to use it properly - there is no sense putting things IN there if you don't take them OUT!

***some new years leftovers finished up .... rice, black-eyed peas, kale, ham
   actually about a cup each of sauteed kale and chopped ham went INTO the freezer (these will be ingredients in something else - like... an omelet or a slow cooker bean soup).

***an Asian stir fry I mentioned in my last post using tofu & a couple of bags of frozen veggies and some brown rice.

and I had a brilliant idea to use up the REALLY dry cornbread recipe I tried for New Years .... [the taste was fine but it was BONE DRY.  After dinner, I put all the wedges into the freezer until I figured out how we were going to eat it]

***I pulled 1 container of mexi-chicken, 1 container of diced tomatoes and green peppers, and one of black bean broth out of the freezer, thawed and mixed together .... so THREE out of the freezer....

....greased a baking pan and added 4 wedges of the DRY cornbread I knew we wouldn't eat....  tossed the above on it....   added seasonings and a cup or two of black beans out of the fridge (and a half jar of salsa) to where it looked moist.  Topped with foil and baked for 30 min at the usual 350 degrees.....

When I pulled it out, I topped it with cheese - and it was heavenly!

I do have quite a bit more cornbread in the freezer but at least I now have a plan...

I did create ONE container for the freezer BUT it is a ready to eat dinner & NOT an ingredient so that is a BONUS.

***I made a lovely crockpot of a pasta fagioli type soup [in MY terms, a hamburger bean soup thing with pasta that has Italian type seasonings]

SO.... hamburger and black beans and broth OUT of the freezer and a box of pasta from the pantry

TWO new container IN the freezer - 1 of cooked pasta and 1 of the soup.... 


***Did up a pot of red beans with 2 freezer containers of veggie broth and diced tomatoes / peppers......   

****Also made up some dough from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes book and am ready to make bread.... or stromboli... or something...  I noticed that I have a lot of the random flours used in this book so I am going to have to use some of them up this month!

I ended up purchasing fresh fruit, celery, salad, almond milk and wine....  this was the easy week.  I will be digging deeper into the recesses next week and exercising a lot more creativity!  I think I will be grateful for the pre-cooked beans and ready to eat meals before the month is out!


Freezer:
-2 mexi-chicken & diced tomatoes / peppers
-2 pound hamburger, veggie broth & black bean broth
-2 bags stir fry veggies
+1 chopped ham
+1 black bean, chicken, cornbread
+1 pasta fagioli
+ one very small container of sauteed kale

Fridge:
- half jar salsa
- half jar marinara
- block tofu

Pantry
- box pasta
- can tomato paste
- bag brown rice
- bag red beans
- bag black beans

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

WIP Jan 6, 2016

Since I had promised myself not to start anything until after the new year began....  I'm still using up cotton yarn in dishcloths....



I think I've made about 45 and given away 30 or so in my Christmas wanderings...  but I still have a couple of cones of thread.  I can envision myself getting bored with one color soon :-)

and the littlest leftover bits have gone into makeup pads


I've quilted some on my sandcastle quilt (should be done in a week or so... my first 'finish' of the year)

I've done some cutting and pinning on several things
- on the rainbow scrap blocks I started last year
-  on an easy strip quilt that will use a jelly roll I already have and some green 2.5 strips (new project)
- on collecting 2.5 WOF strips (from my stash) for a quilt for a March birthday
- on my Advanced Virginia sampler class (there are 2 blocks I haven't done yet)
- on the Aurifil mini blocks from last year (I'm on July)
- on assembling completed blocks from one of my churn dash quilts
- on locating and preparing the border pieces from my El's Kitchen quilt (2013 class)
- starting work on one of 3-4 applique kits in my possession.
- prepping fabric to make hanging sleeves on the wall hanging quilts I am working on
- and a birthday pillowcase

and I've allowed myself to work on the Shenandoah album project.  This is a reproduction of a vintage quilt offered as a fundraiser for the Virginia quilt museum.  I had planned on doing more handwork this year.. and this is already a challenge!  It's a quilt-along and I am joining in on the 4th block pattern.  I have had to enlarge the blocks... which meant that I had to cut and tape sheets from my printer to get the proper size...  and I am tracing the pattern onto freezer paper to help me with my applique shapes.   More details later as I move along (or ask me questions and I will share now!).  I am under no illusion that I will catch up or keep up on this project!

Oh  and I also did a little stitching on my hexie flowers...

I love doing this WIP post.. because I often feel like I don't get much done.... but I guess I did!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Pantry Challenge Jan 2016

Have you ever done a pantry challenge?

I find that January is a particularly good month to do one....

There is so much food left from the holidays... it's a great time to clean it out!  

Not just the pantry... the freezer, the fridge.. everywhere you have stashes of consumable foodstuffs.

The object is to save some money by USING what you have instead of buying what's handy... or on sale... or grabs your fancy...

This practice not only saves money - but it stretches your creativity and helps a bit with discipline, organization and even health.  Curbing the impulse spending is a great practice - sometimes!

So today I begin (because we have a lot of leftovers from yesterday's ham and hoppin john)  And a freezer full from the summer still...

I will gather and identify the refrigerated condiments which must be used.  And then the research begins :-)  As you know, I am not a natural cook, so I will come here to Mr. Google and see what I can do with the odd bit in the BBQ sauce bottle (or whatever)

Tonight is a stir fry - rice from yesterday, tofu from a month or so ago that I haven't figured out how to use, and stir fry veggies from the freezer... (and prob some of yesterday's kale saute in there too!)