Monday, May 27, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - School's Out for Summer!

It's Menu Plan Monday, and it's the first week of summer vacation.  I've been doing a good job of sticking to my healthy meal plan, and I'm down 5lbs in the last three weeks.  I want to enjoy summer but stay focused on my goals, so there will probably be as much grilling as the weather allows.

If you are trying to stay motivated to exercise, you should really join us on Twitter. It's funny how many times I'm on the computer, completely uninterested in getting on that elliptical, and someone will tweet about their workout using the hashtag #qhc (Quilters' Health Check) and it will get me lacing up my running shoes.

I'm also a member of My Fitness Pal.  My user name is QJ2013 if you want to be friends.

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

Our first week of summer is blissfully uncluttered and the weather shows perfectly sunny skies all week.  I'm planning lots of simple, healthy dinners that don't require a lot of labor in the kitchen.
  • Sunday - Graduation Party at a friend's house
  • Monday - Memorial Day Dinner at the lake with my in-laws.  I'm making these beautiful skewers with berries from our local farmer's market.
  • Tuesday - Grace has an end-of-the-year pool party, so I'm using the crock pot and rice cooker tonight.  We'll have the Crock Pot Picadillo that we STILL haven't made (are you sensing a theme?). 
  • Wednesday - Fishy Wednesday - whatever looks best at Kathleen's Catch today with quinoa and grilled veggies.
  • Thurdsay - We're making Pollo Sabroso again with yellow rice and roasted green beans.  We had this last week, but it was such a hit and made such awesome leftovers, that it's back on the menu.
  • Friday - leftover buffet
  • Saturday - tonight we're having the Pit Boss's favorite chicken and veggie kabobs with brown rice.  
The green smoothie we tried about two weeks ago has become a favorite!  This week we're going to test out the Blueberry Banana PB Smoothie.

What's for dinner at your house tonight?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Favorite Things - How to Make the Sudoku Quilt

My dad's 70th birthday present, the sudoku quilt, was a big hit!  I know these are all over the place and have been done a million ways, but I thought I'd share how I did it.

You need nine fat quarters of novelty fabric.  I cut these into nine 6" squares.

Then I found a sudoku pattern online and solved it.  Each fabric was assigned a number, and I started sewing them together.

I put 3/4" black sashing in between the squares and a 1 1/2" black border around the whole puzzle.  Then I made a little skinny dimensional border (I don't know what it's called but it kind of looks like piping).  Basically it was a 1" strip of white, pressed in half, and basted to the first border before adding a 3" grey border.

Are you so impressed with my mitered border?  I know it is not a big deal to some of you, but these produce a huge amount of anxiety for me.  I used this tutorial and only had to rip out one of the corners.

I stitched in the ditch around the sashing and borders.  Then I did a loopy meander in each block.  Last I did a design I've seen somewhere (but can't remember where - probably Leah Day but I can't swear to it) in the grey border that reminds me of a capital cursive L.

The blocks measure 16 1/2" and the finished quilt with these borders finished at a cozy 60" square.

If you want to make this quilt you will need:
  • 9 fat quarters of novelty prints
    • cut nine 6" squares from each
    • assemble according to sudoku puzzle
  • 1/2 yard sashing and first border (black)
    • cut five 1 1/4" strips
    • cut five 2" strips
  • 1/4 yard white/piping 
    • cut six 1" strips
    • sew into two long strips of 3 each
    • press in half lengthwise
    • baste to first border using 1/8" seam allowance
  • 2/3 yard grey for outside border
    • cut six 3 1/2" strips
  • 1/2 yard black for binding
    • cut six 2 1/2" strips
  • 64" square batting.  I used Warm and Natural.
  • 66" square pieced back.  I used flannel
If you make one I would love to see it! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Exam Week

It's Menu Plan Monday, and it's Exam Week for Gracie and the Bear.  My goal this week is nutritious, filling meals that don't take a lot of prep or make a huge mess in the kitchen.  Let's create a calm, quiet mood in the house conducive to studying after the raucous celebrating we did all weekend for Deuce's graduation and my dad's birthday.

This week we decided to check out some of Gina's grilled recipes on Skinnytaste.
  • Sunday - my brother, the surprise special graduation/birthday guest, cooked for us
  • Monday - Pollo Sabroso, yellow rice, and grilled mixed vegetables
  • Tuesday - Whatever looks best at Kathleen's Catch, quinoa, roasted green beans
  • Wednesday - Spicy Black Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayonnaise, tossed salad
  • Thursday - I never got to the Crock Pot Picadillo last week, and it's supposed to rain, so we're having that tonight.
  • Friday - Leftover Buffet
  • Saturday - Friend's Graduation Party
What's going on at your house this week?  Are you surviving May-hem?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival - My Favorite Things

It's time for the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side, and my entry in the Home Machine Quilted category is the sudoku quilt called "My Favorite Things" that I just finished for my dad's birthday - which is TODAY. 

 Happy birthday, Dad!

One of my favorite pics of Dad and me, circa 1986.  I guess you know who I look like now!

I collected nine fat quarters of novelty fabrics featuring some of my dad's favorite things: Las Vegas, dogs, Christmas, assorted sports, etc.  Surprisingly the most difficult one to find was the golf fabric.  I found all kinds of other sports, including lacrosse, gymnastics, track & field (really), bowling, and hockey plus the usual football, baseball and basketball, but the golf one was elusive.  I finally found one lonely fat quarter stuffed in a bin when I went to The Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild meeting in May.

To quilt it, I stitched in the ditch around the borders and sashing, did a loopy meander in each block, and then used the cursive capital L design in the border. 

A curse on the house of the quilt shop that doesn't cut their fat quarters a full 18"!  I had to put one of my favorites (with little "pretty drink" glasses on it) to the side because it wasn't big enough.

Luckily Lene came to my rescue at the last minute with some great choices.  I loved this one but wasn't sure that work really qualified as a "favorite thing."

I also wrote a little poem for the label.  Hum to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music.  

My Favorite Things

with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein

Sunshine in winter and dirty martinis
Soaks in the hot tub and pasta linguine
Christmas tree angels with glittering wings
These are a few of my favorite things

When a cold snap
Keeps the course closed
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Drinks in the clubhouse and grandchildren laughing
Basketball season and fancy gift wrapping
Betting with Boomer and flowers in spring
These are a few of my favorite things

When the Braves lose
in October
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Days at the sports book and horses all saddled
Cold beer in summer and parties by Carol
Callaway, Titleist, Nike and Pings
These are a few of my favorite things

When it’s too cold
for the top down
When I’m feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Don't forget to visit the rest of the Quilt Festival and vote for your favorite quilts!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WiP Wednesday - The Sudoku Quilt

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I'm linking up with WiP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

This week I've been working fast and furious on my father's birthday quilt, the sudoko quilt.    Tomorrow I will have instructions in case you'd like to make one like mine.

I pieced the blocks last week, added the sashing and borders over the weekend, sandwiched it yesterday and also got all the stitch in the ditch and the grey borders quilted. 

It's going well, but I keep having this happen:

Can you see what the white thread is doing?  I have rethreaded and put in a new needle about three times.  It isn't happening a lot, but enough that it's annoying.  I have no idea what causes this.  Suggestions are welcome. 

My goal is to have the blocks quilted today so I can bind it and add the label tomorrow, wash and wrap it on Friday, and relax on Saturday!

Ha!  Like that's going to happen.  Saturday is graduation and my dad's birthday.  It's going to be all kinds of busy, but the good kind.

Hope you are having a great week.  What are you working on?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Graduation Week!

It's Menu Plan Monday, and it's Graduation Week which means a lot of busy days.

Last night The Pit Boss and my kids (mostly the oldest) made a fabulous but so NOT healthy dinner for us and the grandparents.  Luckily I had had a great rest of the week, thanks to my healthy menu plan for the week. 

(For the record, the results were awesome.  Every dinner was one that they said they would eat again; the Crock Pot Italian Sloppy Joes and the Slow Cooked Jerked Pork with Caribbean Salsa were favorites.)

This week is abbreviated for us because my first baby is graduating from high school on Saturday.  We'll be celebrating at my mom's afterwards, and a surprise special guest is cooking next Sunday night.  Obviously I didn't have to cook yesterday, and Friday is an Awards Ceremony and Baccalaureate, so we are going to have sandwiches or leftovers in between.

Which means I only needed four meals this week, and I need them to be super healthy because I have a feeling the weekend is going to be chock full of good food that isn't on the low-calorie side.

Here's what I've got:
I'm also going to be trying a new smoothie for breakfast.  Has anyone had hemp hearts? 

What's on your menu this week?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Going to Guild - Anita Heady

Last night was the Chattahoochee Evening Stars guild meeting, and our guest was Anita Heady of Sewcial Studio. I have no pictures to show you, partly because a lot of her presentation was on screen (although she did have most of the quilts there to show and pass around afterwards) and partly because I got there a little late and didn't get a seat conducive to photography.  However, you can see her gorgeous work in the gallery of her website and skip the lopsided pictures I normally bring you with people's fingers and backs of heads around the edges.

I did snap this one shot with my phone of an interesting quilting design she did on one block of her Morning Glories quilt.  I'm not sure why this jumped out at me, but each block was quilted differently and I just loved this one.  In this block you see examples of her string piecing, some of her hand dyed fabrics, and the way she cuts string blocks apart or assembles them in non-square shapes and puts them back together to create her design.

Anita shared some of her tips and techniques for her beautiful and unique string quilts in the program called Stretching the String.  She has made this style of piecing modern and fresh in her work, and there is nothing old fashioned looking about it.  Anita and her husband also brought some goods from their brick and mortar store, including many hand dyed fabrics.  He apparently does some rust dyeing as well, although I didn't spy any of the pieces there. 

It was a busy meeting that included a sneak peek of the design for our next raffle quilt and a show and tell line that had more members standing than sitting in the audience.  People have been busy!

I sneaked out early because, despite what I keep telling myself and everyone else, I am tired.  My test yesterday went very well in that it didn't take long and everything looks good; the only downside is that they still don't know why I'm anemic.  Blech!

Now I've got to get to work so I can join the line next month for Show and Tell!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Skinnytaste Crock Pot Challenge

I have an ulcer.

Yeah. That's the upshot of all these stupid tests I've been having. Unfortunately - and this is not something a doctor says every day - my ulcer is not big enough. That is, it's not big enough to explain why I'm so anemic, so they are doing more tests.  I am probably - at this very moment - swallowing some vile tasting liquid that shows up on x-rays and probably isn't all that great for you either.  (Thank you, auto post.) 

As a result of the many doctor's appointments I've had in the last five months, I've also had to get on the scale more times than I normally do in an average...year?...and so it's been pounded into my head that I am overweight.  Like I didn't know that already.

All that to say that I'm really working hard to plan meals, avoid eating out as much as possible, and eat healthier.  The Pit Boss is happy because he would like to lose a few pounds himself, and because the home cooking thing dovetails so nicely with our Dave Ramsey Ramen noodle diet budget plan.

I'm going to join up with Menu Plan Monday as a way of keeping myself accountable.  Also because The Pit Boss has come up with a fun challenge this week to keep life interesting, and I thought I'd share.

I was looking for crock pot recipes on one of my favorite healthy recipe sites, Skinnytaste, when TPB suggested we take a challenge to incorporate some new dishes into our rotation.  His idea was to try the first six recipes that came up in the crock pot category.  We each got one skip.  They did not have to eaten in that exact order.

Here's our challenging menu for the week.  Actually, I think it looks great.  As a bonus, he went to the store yesterday while I was at the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild meeting, so he's on the Husband of the Year list.

What did we skip?  I skipped the Picante Chicken and Black Bean soup because a) the Bear doesn't like beans; b) it's May and eating soup just feels wrong (even though it has been rainy and cold all weekend); and c) there's already a lot of poultry on this menu.  TPB skipped the Santa Fe Chicken for mostly the same reasons.  I think I've made that one before, though,  and it was good.

So tell me, do you menu plan?  What are you eating this week?  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Visiting the Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild

After literally months of trying to get to an Atlanta Modern Quilt Guild meeting, I finally made it today thanks to a torrential rain all weekend, which caused all of the lacrosse games to be cancelled.

I was happy about this for several reasons.  First, of course, just to be there and meet everyone.  Second, I was able to deliver Pam's prize from my 5th Blogoversary Giveaway in person.  This not only saved postage, but was also exciting because I got to see several of her recent projects (Petrillo Bag, Aeroplane Bag, and the signature quilt) in person.

The speaker, Judy Alexander, was awesome.  Her landscape quilts and other art quilts were amazing just to look at, but then she threw in all kinds of tips and tricks.  It's hard to believe she's only been quilting slightly longer than I've been blogging.  I must be a slow learner!

The last best thing about this visit was that I finally found the last fabric I needed for my dad's 70th birthday sudoku quilt.  And not a moment too soon!  His birthday is in 13 days, and I'm going to have to channel Pam to get it done in time.  Luckily I don't have much else going on right now.

HA!  Deuce graduates the same day, Grace is in a lacrosse tournament all next weekend, there's Mother's Day to think about, I have a commission quilt that should be done already and another one due in June, plus yet another medical test tomorrow morning.

Sorry about the quality of the pictures.  I set my camera down somewhere in a safe place and I have to spend a few minutes to find it again. 

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