Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Quilt lab book :: calculus-it's not just for high school math anymore!

I got to sew again yesterday!!!  A little while ago former quilt bee buddy, sewing summit and stash bash fellow attendee and friend  Ali of AsquaredW asked if I'd like to make a project from her new book, Quilt Lab, and put my own spin on it.  When she said the Calculus pattern was one of the patterns available I broke out into a cold sweat remembering the day I was studying for my AP Calc test many years ago and then bailed because I just knew I would fail it!

Fortunately, Ali has transformed tricky math into fun QUILT MATH!! With a pretty project to show at the end of the assignment, I was okay with helping her out! hahahha!

This is what my Quilt Lab aka design floor looked like yesterday morning as I was working on the placement.
I used the second row pattern from the quilt to start my project. The blocks finish at 5" and I was thinking I would use this as a panel for a zippy pouch.  But I felt like the movement of the design was lost if I used less than 4 blocks wide and it ended up being about  20" long. So I decided to make a mini and use it in my kitchen!

I was a little intimidated by the pattern at first but once I figured out that I was just making triangles to sew into squares - I calmed down a bit! Ha!  I really loved the way it turned out!

I used Vanessa Christensen's Simply Color (moda) ombre gray and turquoise for the solids.  It was fun to play the gradation of color!
The polka dots were so fun - Teal Pearl Bracelets, a DS quilts dot from Joann's and the other print was in the quilting section at Hancock's.  I just love the minty/aqua/turquoise-y feel of it all.

The best part is it looks awesome in my kitchen and now my bowl of bananas looks even more enticing!

Ali, thanks for asking me to play!  It was nice to work on a project from start to finish and be so happy with the results! I'm thinking I'm going to try again and reduce the template size by 75% and make that zippy pouch!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Scrappy dresden mini quilt

Hey! I finished something! And I made up a new word! (as far as I know!) I got found my sew-jo and got some real sewmentum going this week! (haha - see what I did there?)  I got together TWICE this week with friends for sewing fun!  Definitely helps in the motivation department!

I started this little mini-dresden last year before we moved.  Emily Herrick sent a little bundle of her Technicolor fabric line to me to play with!  Karie (instagram @karietkq) and I bonded over our love of turquoise and orange, I knew a mini-quilt with these fabrics would be really fun!
Karie also loves texty prints and I found this awesome one in the FQ bin at Hancock's of all places!
And then it sat. And sat.  And moved to our new home. Until Karie came to visit and I knew I needed to quilt it up and give it to her while she was here!

I used some turquoise 50wt aurifil for the loop-de-loops and some orange 50wt for the flower center.

I was originally planning an all orange border but decided scrappy would be more fun.  And yes, I think it is!
I quilted it on Monday during a little sewing meet up at Becky's house and finished binding it in the parking lot at Wegman's on Tuesday where we all met for lunch!
Apart from Kim (@gogokim), who I met in line at Costco, Becky (@sarcasticquilter), Karie, and  I both met online.  It's so fun to have quilty internet friends to connect with throughout the day.  It's even better to have them close enough that you can meet up and sew, chat, eat and fabric shop together!
L-R Becky, Karie, Me and Kim

I'm so blessed to have such great friends! It was so nice to just be our weird fabric-loving selves together! I highly reccomend getting out from behind our screens and really see each other! It's a valuable connection that can't be replaced by our devices.

I'm linking up today with Kim's new Saturday sewing linky!! So fun!  Go check it out. Always a great way to get motivated and motivate others!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

what's for dinner wednesday :: Potato soup

I know it's a day late, but let's pretend it's Wednesday!

This potato soup recipe is an staple around here in winter - and we've needed lots of warm bowls of soup to keep the chill off this year!!

It starts with the trifecta of veggies - onion, celery and carrots (I left the carrots in bigger pieces last time I made it).  This is really the only way to start any soup!
And it has bacon in it - so you know it's good. 

If you have a gluten-free diet, you can use cornstarch instead of flour to thicken it.  I did this last time and it worked well.  I always stir up my cornstarch in cold liquid before I add it to the soup so it doesn't clump.  I just mixed it with some of the milk before I added it!

My kids ask for this soup weekly.

Megan's Potato Soup
1 onion
2-3 carrots
2-3 celery stalks
sautee in butter/olive oil combo

Add 6 cups water + 4 tsp/cubes chicken bouillon

Chop up 4 big-6 small potatoes and add to pot.
Cook until potatoes are soft.

In a separate pan:
Cook 6 slices of bacon.
Save grease and make a roux adding 2 Tbsp flour, cooking until golden brown.
Add to soup.

Pour in 1 can evaporated milk.
Simmer 10 more minutes.

Alternately use 1 Tbsp cornstarch mixed with evaporated milk and heat with bacon fat.  Then pour into soup pot - simmer 10 more minutes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Seams Unlikely by Nancy Zieman: a book review

I was so happy when I heard Nancy (of Sewing with Nancy and Nancy's Notions fame) had written an autobiography!  And even more so when they asked me if I would mind reading it and being part of her book tour!

At the end of my post is a list of the other bloggers writing about the book and instructions on entering a giveaway to win your own copy!

I was expecting a book mostly about her business and how it came about - but was genuinely happy, pleased and touched and the personal stories she shared and the candor in which she discussed the bell's palsy she had as a young child and how it did and more importantly DIDN'T affect her ability to work hard and succeed.

I'm finding it difficult to put into words how the book touched me - so I thought I would just write Nancy a letter - and let you read it.

Dear Nancy,

I wanted to thank you for sharing your heart and behind the scenes parts of your life with me.  I know we do not know each other personally, but so many of the things you shared about your life I feel like I can relate to!

I love hearing about your farm life upbringing.  My husband and I have talked often about the ideal life consisting of  hard and rewarding work of a more rural life. A life that would hopefully instill those same values in our children.  Having a close family and working along side each other to succeed as a family is something that is harder to do these days. I loved seeing how the roots you came from - hard working, loving, and practical parents - taught you to be the same way.

I love to cook and have always felt like it just an another expression of my creative self - so when I saw recipes scattered throughout the book I was so excited!  We're getting snowed in this weekend and I really want to try the Maple Pecan Ring!! I'm not sure I could sell my family on oyster stew - but who knows maybe I'll try it - I do have some Scandinavian blood in me after all. I also want to get my kids involved in 4-H now!

When I read that you worked at Minnesota Fabrics I was so surprised!  Since they were bought out no one I ever talk to knows who I am talking about when I tell them I worked there in High School!  Our nearest store was right around the corner from my piano teacher and my mom would go there while I was at my lesson.  I remember the day my mom talked to one of the managers about hiring me.  I was a junior in high school I think.  I worked there for about 2 years and expanded my garment sewing abilities sewing model garments - which would hang in the store on display for several months.  What's funny when I think back on it is how my mom usually had her hand in finishing them or doing the hard parts for me! I feel a little sheepish about that.  I have great memories of cutting fabric and helping customers with their projects and ideas.

Speaking of my mom - I remember around the same time watching a little sewing program on our newly acquired cable service called - yep! Sewing with Nancy!  I'm sure that those first years of your show were the ones that I would watch with my mom on Saturday mornings!  I was thinking about it, and those instructional local cable TV shows were kind of like the early bloggers who write up tutorials - you've been doing this for a while now and have successfully transitioned to every new type of media sharing possible! I think it's awesome.  And incidentally I now want to go back and watch every single episode. :)

I think the thing that was impressed on me over and over as I read was how your positive outlook, faith and hard work are really what make you who you are.  I loved what you said after talking about your multiple knee surgeries:
"I began to view myself differently.  Bell's palsy, patched knees, whatever the problem - They are only a facade, a matter of packaging.  I came to realize that those things are not who I am."
We all have challenges in life and I think choosing to learn from them and not letting them define us is such an important lesson to learn.  I've had my own share life-defining experiences and it's a good reminder to me to not let them hold me back.

Thank you again for sharing your wonderful story! I know I'm not the only reader who will feel a connection with you because of your experiences.  You are a wonderful teacher, motivator and example of following your passion.

With admiration,

For a chance to win one of 20 copies of the book, visit Nancy's Feb. 4 blog post and see some great photos and leave a comment to win!

The following is a list of everyone participating in the blog tour:
February 4          Nancy Zieman           http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/blog-tour/seams-unlikely-book/
February 5          Eileen Roche          http://dzgns.com/blog/
February 5          Pat Sloan          http://patsloan.typepad.com/
February 6          Melissa Stramel          http://melissaslilaclane.blogspot.com
February 6          The Long Ladies          http://www.mariemadelinestudio.typepad.com/
February 6          Tori Thompson          http://totallystitchin.net
February 7          Amy Barickman          http://www.indygojunction.com/blog/
February 7          Melissa Mora          http://mellysews.com
February 8          Shari Butler          http://www.doohikeydesignstudio.com/blog/
February 8          Vicki Christensen          http://www.sewinspiredblog.com/
February 9          Carolina Moore          http://alwaysexpectmoore.com
February 9          Kate Mclvor          https://theconfidentstitch.squarespace.com
February 10          Amy Ellis          http://amyscreativeside.com/
February 10          Melissa Mortenson          http://www.polkadotchair.com
February 11          Ilene Miller          http://happyvalleyprimitives.blogspot.com/
February 11          Liz Hicks          http://blogerisms.blogspot.com/
February 11          Rachael Pannepacker          http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/
February 12          Bill Gardner          http://www.quiltersnewsletter.com/blogs/insideqn/
February 12          Elizabeth Evans          http://www.simplesimonandco.com
February 13          Amy Webb          http://www.amylouwhosews.com/ 
February 13          Lindsay Wilkes          http://thecottagehome.blogspot.com
February 14          Gertie Hirsch          http://www.blogforbettersewing.com
February 14          Veronica Philips          http://cloverusa.wordpress.com/
February 15          Jenny Gabriel          http://www.sewvacoutletblog.com
February 15          Laura Wasilowski          http://artfabrik.blogspot.com/
February 16          Frieda Anderson          http://friestyle.blogspot.com/
February 16          Rita Farro          http://ritassewfun.blogspot.com
February 17          Cindy Cloward          http://www.rileyblakedesigns.com/blog/
February 17          Joan Hawley          http://www.lazygirldesigns.com/blog/
February 17          Patty Young          http://modkidboutique.blogspot.com
February 18          Nancy Zieman          http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/

Visit www.SeamsUnlikely.com for more details about the book!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

coming tomorrow: Seams Unlikely by Nancy Zieman book review!

I'm so excited to share with you my thoughts on Nancy Zieman's new autobiography! She's not just an amazing seamstress and teacher - but amazing person through and through!


What's for dinner Wednesday may have to be posted later this week while I'm snow-bound!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

what's for dinner wednesday :: chili blanco

Hello everyone!

I know I missed a week - but you know what? That's okay!  We celebrated Brotherlouwho's birthday Friday and I was kind of caught up getting ready for that.  And I think we had ANOTHER snow day so my week got thrown off for sure!

Back in December I decided that this would be THE WINTER OF SOUP.  I know it's sounds ominous and exciting all at once!  And I've been trying to make soup at least once a week and not just all of our old standards.  So when my dear friend Megan (who gave me our favorite potato soup recipe EVER) handed this one over and said you need to make this, I had to oblige.

I'm not a connoisseur of the white chicken chili - but I've had it a few times.  I really liked this recipe because it was fairly simple and everyone ate it - oh, and it was delicious!  It also filled my huge 6 quart casserole so I know we can have it for dinner again or I can freeze some for later.

She told me that she makes the sweet & sour garnish mostly for the adults. I had to skip it this time because I didn't have everything I needed.  But I'm excited to try it next time! It's like a sweet and sour salsa to mix in. And feel free to add avocados - it's fun to be reckless like that!

Chili Blanco

4 cans drained small white navy beans
2 onions chopped
48 oz chicken broth
4 cups cooked chicken
2 cans drained corn
7 oz can chopped green chilies
6-8 cloves garlic minced
3 TBS chopped fresh oregano (1T dried)
4 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp cayenne

1 cup sour cream
3 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Juice of 1 lime (3 T bottled lime juice)

Saute onions in olive oil.  When they are browned put in a stock pot and add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.  Add chicken, corn, green chiles, garlic, oregano, cumin and cayenne.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream and cheese until melted.  Top with Sweet and Sour Garnish.

Sweet and Sour Garnish

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Blend and the add chopped tomatoes and cilantro.

Enjoy! Let me know if you try it!  What's your favorite winter soup?  I need more ideas.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

what's for dinner wednesday :: penne and sausage skillet supper

I have a love affair with the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  And with Cook's Illustrated - the magazine put out by the same folks.  I kid you not, every recipe I've made from them is delicious and fairly easy.  They have a whole section on skillet meals - which I love!  They come together quickly, only require one pan and everyone loves them!

I've only made this one a few times and I need to remember to work it into our regular rotation.  A lot of the ingredients are things I usually have on hand, or are easily kept in the pantry or freezer.  

I hope you try it!

                                           ~ATK Family Cookbook
servings:Serve 4-6
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 25 minutes
total time: 35 minutes


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine
table salt
3 cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press
1 pound hot or sweet Italian turkey sausage
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes , rinsed and chopped fine
1/2 pound penne pasta (2 1/2 cups)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup)
6 ounces baby spinach
ground black pepper


1. Heat the oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, sausage, and tomatoes and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

2. Sprinkle the penne evenly over the sausage. Pour the broth and milk over the pasta. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the spinach a handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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