Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Table Runner

Christmas Table Runner 

December 1, 2012
Christmas Runner from Pieced Tree Patterns (Forest City Iowa)

I've always wanted to take the time to make a festive Christmasy table runner.  So that is what I did!  I used the pattern from Pieced Tree Patterns (Forest City, Iowa).  I immediately went searching for the perfect fabric.  I wanted something that was a little old fashioned, something bright and cheerful, and of course, Christmasy.  I managed to find some cute green reindeer fabric (if you look closely, you will see that the reindeers all have red shiny nose.  I found dark red and gold swirly fabric that matches my reindeers.  For me, that is a match!  I could've used any fabric for the backing, but I just had to pick something that was a nice contrast... hence the pine needles and pine cones with berries.  I'm pretty proud of this and I even made one for my mom.  I took the time to enter it in the Quilting Gallery weekly contest.  Go and check it out at this site.  There are or will be more Christmas runners by other quilters/sewers.   You can even vote for your own favorite winner.  The winner is determined by the most vote and will get a prize.  Imagine how many more inspiration you could get from checking out the site.

On to my next project.  I wonder what it will be!

Close up of the front and back of the runner sewn and quilted by yours truly

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

My first Halloween Tree as an Adult!

October 31, 2012:

I love Halloween.  I've always loved the spirit of it.  Getting dressed up in creative costumes and trick or treating for candy.  My mom did create us a Halloween Tree, and she was creative with our costumes.  One year, my sister, brother, and I went as the 3 blind mice.  We wore sunglasses, had a mouse costume on and our tail was bandaged.  Totally cool!  When I got older, trick or treating was still a big deal, but it would be followed by Halloween Movies!  Once I became an adult, I grieved for awhile because it wasn't quite right to go trick or treating and I was in an apartment in a far out of the way place that no one came to for candy.  My husband and I finally bought our first house and 4 months later, I was so excited to discover that we lived in Trick or Treaters Heaven.  This year was especially special because my son will be 14 months tomorrow and he got to go trick or treating in his lion costume... collecting candy for his parents.  It was great.  This year, I finally found some time to create a halloween tree.  it is not much since I ran out of time, but I used Chinese Lanterns that I had grown in my yard and dried.  Scrap fabric for bows,  Branches from the last storm, paper for ghosts.  Not bad for a beginner.  My only regret was, I didn't have strong enough branches to put my orange lights on the tree, but I learned something new for next year.  Hopefully I will have orange lights next year.  

Of course, I have to spoil the kids in my family and my friends kids.  I made them "poop" bags (Ghost poop, Pumpkin poop, and Bat Poop).  I saw the idea on Pinterest and just had to do it.  I used Marshmallow  Candy Corn and Raisins.  The kids got a good laugh.  On to the next holiday!

Silly treats for the kids

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A finished "A Very Braidy Cowl"

Completed Cowl!

September 16, 2012:  Yesterday was a busy day!  Celebrating my little boy's birthday with families and friends.  It was so much fun.  However, I had to remind myself that I did everything for my family and friends.  So today, I finally finished that knitting project I started awhile back.. "A Very Braidy Cowl"  I am so proud that I got it done!  It took a lot of unraveling or "tink"-ing as the hard core knitters call it. But I finally did it!  I have a pretty purple cowl to wear this winter which is something I've never done. I've knitted before but I've never down knitting with cable.  I feel refreshed and ready to start a long week at work and being a mom and wife during my off time.  I am definitely ready!  Looking forward to the next weekend and wonder what I should work on next or at least finish.

Dump Truck Cake

September 15, 2012:  My sweet darling little boy turned 1 year old a few weeks ago.  It was a wonderful day because he chose his birthday as the day he stood up by himself without help and took his first few steps without support.  It was incredible.  We decided to celebrate his birthday a few weeks later with friends and family.  To make it extra special for all of us to remember, I decided to make him an extra special cake.  I searched many different blogs and websites for inspiration and I decided that my little boy deserved a truck cake since he spends a lot of times playing with his trucks.  I found this idea from Taste of Home and was inspired to make a close duplicate  The difference is that I chose to make my own cake recipe that was less in sugar and oil.  I did use their frosting recipe but I chose to only use butter... not lard.  I didn't use all of the candy they recommended since we don't eat some of the candy.  And I put the candy or frosting where I wanted as well.  The direction to put the cake together was a little confusing, but I ended up looking at the cake for reference instead of the directions. I   It started off stressful, but once I started working on it, it became easier and more fun. This was my first time making a cake like this and it makes me excited for next year!

Apple, Beet, & Mint Juice

Apple, Beet, & Mint Juice

Apple, Beet, & Mint Juice

September 7, 2012: I was fortunate to be able to borrow someone's Juicer and I thought it would be great to make a bunch of juices to freeze to drink later.   Often I find that I don't have enough time in the morning to get everything I need together for work when I am focused on making sure my little guy gets a healthy meal before going to school.  I came up with the idea of freezing some juices to have defrost on my way to work or to have with my lunch.  It's a great way to add some extra veggies or fruit to your diet.  I've tried quite a few recipes and really like them all.  Once recipe that I 
tried was Apple, Beet, & Mint Juice and I got it from this website: 

However, I was very concerned about adding so many carrots since I've had some bad experience in the past with carrots in my drinks... strong carrot taste.  I modified the drink to fit my taste by adding more apples and mint and I recommend you experiment yourself to have it fit your needs.  Just remember, the beet will make the drink very red as well as stain everything you own.  

Red Apples, Beet, and Mints Juice
2 carrots
2 apples
1 beet
1/3 cup of Apple Mint.

Put in juice and Juice.  Drink immediately or freeze.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

September 6, 2012-  My apologies for not posting for awhile.  So many events has happened and I wasn't given a lot of time to do things for myself or to post.  I am back at full force and will be making a few things to post over the next few days.  While you are waiting, I've been very excited to read about Pat Sloan's blog.  She has been talking about patterns, colors, and designers.  I probably spend more time reading than sewing.  But today is a sewing day!  I will be back with pictures.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Pizza

August 1, 2012-  It was an incredibly busy weekend with family with little to no time for myself.  I definitely noticed a difference in my energy level and mood, and I am making it a rule to always do something for myself.  I knew I couldn't make it to the weekend.  I wanted to try something different that would have  lots of vegetables and be gluten free.  So I did some research and there are so many recipes for Portabella Mushrooms.  There are some using pizza dough and some using Mushrooms instead.  It was amazing of how many recipes were out there!  I decided to create my own using some of the ideas from other sites.  The only change I would make is to use less cheese.  I probably woudl add more vegetables next time as well to give it more flavor.  Here's my version of the Portabella Mushroom Pizza:

Portabella Mushroom Pizza

4 tomatoes, chopped
4 large portobello mushrooms
2 tsp Minced Garlic
1 TBSP Lemon Juice
1 leek, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
Roasted Peppers (Red, Yellow, and/or Orange
Sausage Flavored Tofu
fresh basil
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Salt (optional)
Mozzarella cheese
Olive Oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat about 1 TBSP Olive Oil in sauce pan. Crumble the sausage tofu (I rolled mine into mini tofu balls) and add the onion Then stir in the onion until slightly browned and tofu is warmed through and has a nice brown color.
2. Add Minced Garlic, Leek, roasted peppers, and tomato to the onion/sausage mixture and saute until  the tomatoes are soft and the mixture is heated through.
3. Pour Lemon Juice over mixture.
4.  Chop up Basil and stir into mixture (I used Sweet Basil and Purple Basil.)
5. Spray cooking sheet with olive oil or cooking spray.  
6. Clean and remove stem from Mushrooms.  Rub with Olive Oil and sprinkle Garlic and Onion Powder over mushroom.
7.  Place mushrooms on sheet with bottom side up.  Place the tomato/onion mixture in the mushroom and top with cheese.
8.  Bake at 400 for 12 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Free Motion Quilting

July 23, 2012-  It was such a busy weekend doing things with family and my little boy had a mission to  show me how much trouble a speedy little crawler can get into.  He's on the move!  It left me with so little time for myself.  Luckily, I planned a little time to go to a quilting drop in tonight.  I felt I spent enough time staring at my son's "Hungry Caterpillar Quilt" that it was time to just actually start quilting.  I have it all pinned together and started my first free motion quilting on a bigger quilt.  (I've free motion on a small wall hanging, but this is bigger than I have ever done.)  With support from the ladies at the quilting drop in, I was able to get the butterfly quilted.  Once I get the leaf and the caterpillar quilted, I will be doing some more independent free motion quilting instead of following the pictures.  I am very excited and nervous for this.  Right now, I give myself a lot of props for doing as well as I did with the caterpillar!   I just might get this done in time for my son's first birthday (I think 1.5 month should be enough time if I commit).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Swiss Chard and Pecan Pesto over eggs and tomatoes.

July 22, 2012-  My son and I went to the Farmer's Market yesterday.  It is really wonderful and overwhelming to be surrounding by so many fresh vegetables and fruit.  I actually ended up buying more stuff than I planned.  When I got home, I realized that I had the most beautiful Rainbow Swiss Chard and I didn't know what to do with it. Most people cook it in a little oil until wilted.  I usually make a delicious soup with it, but I wanted something that I could enjoy in the hot weather.  After searching for a little bit, I found a recipe where I could use the basil from my garden.  I was so excited.  I made this pesto and actually tried it with a few things.  I did change the recipe up a little bit by toasting my pecans, adding less garlic, and adding 2 TBSP of Lemon Juice instead of 1 TBSP.  I was hoping to use less Olive Oil with this recipe.  The end result?  Delicious!  I love eating it with tomatoes.  I plan to try it over poached flounder.

Here's where I got the recipe:

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Very Braidy Cowl

July 16, 2012-  Sometimes it is just too hot or too tiring to do anything.  Too hot to cook and too tired to do a big project.  Often,  it is just nice to hide in the basement and flick on the tv while my little sweetie sleeps and the man of the house is off playing video games.  I didn't want to just sit and watch tv because my hands needs to be busy and my brain needs some kind of simulation.  My mom gave me a lot of knitting patterns and I picked something out.  So, I am knitting something challenging and a project that does not make me so hot.  It is a cowl for this winter.  Quite challenging because I've never done cable before or even try to count.  I notice that if I stop paying attention, I lose count and lose many minutes trying to figure out where I am.  Definitely simulating for my brain.  I am so close to completing it and I will own my first cowl this fall.  How exciting is that?  

I was able to find what looks like a similar patter and it is designed by Maryse Roudier.
Click here for the patter... pattern here

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Banana Business Pancakes

July 14, 2012

This morning, I felt really adventurous in terms of food.  I never deviate from recipes so this is a new territory for me... a little scary but exhilarating at the same time.   I had 3 extremely ripe bananas that the fruit flies have not discovered yet.  It was time to use them or lose them to the compost.  So I "made" up my own banana pancake recipe which was successful after a few modifications.  (Successful means, it passed my husband's quality taste control.)  According to him, "It's taste like banana bread.  It's smooth and the tastes all balanced.  It is good."  For me, that is a huge compliment because my husband is very fussy about his pancakes.
Be aware that you can modify this to fit your taste such as adjusting the amount of spice (more or less) and adjusting the amount of soy milk (or milk of your choice) to make it thicker and heavier or thiner and lighter.  I made one pancake and my husband tasted it.  Then I would modify the batter according to his feedback.  My first attempt was reported to be "too heavy."  Second attempt was reported to need more spice and be lighter.  My third attempt was successful!  My husbands denies this, but I think it has a nutty aftertaste.   Since I am currently living in Maine, pancakes are never complete with Real Maple Syrup! Give it a try and let me know what you think.  We made up the name for this pancake recipe.

Banana Business Pancakes
1 1/2 cup Unbleached Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 to 1 cup soy milk (test to determine how thick you want it to be)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons appplesauce
2 eggs
In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Measure out the milk and add the vanilla extract to it. Whisk together the dry ingredients and add in milk-vanilla mixture, applesauce and eggs stirring to combine. Add in mashed bananas and mix. Stir until batter is somewhat smooth.
Heat a skillet or grilled on medium heat. Using a 1/3 cup measure, spoon batter into rounds and cook until bubbles form on top – about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for a minute or two more. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve hot with butter and Maple Syrup.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seared Shrimp with Roasted Peppers over Spinach 

Life is so busy when you are so busy being a mom and a wife at home, sometimes making something so fancy, but simply delicious really can make my night.  When I made this, I was really surprised how salad can be fantastic with only 4 ingredients and homemade dressing.  This is a delicious "Seared Shrimp with Roasted Peppers over Spinach"  MMM-mmm Delicious!
The Hungry Caterpillar Quilt

I got this wonderful "Hungry Caterpillar" Kit when I first got pregnant with my son.  I was so excited to make it.  I had it all cut out and it was put on hold when my son made his arrival.  A month ago, I was able to get the front of the quilt put together.  I am now back to completing this project for my son since he is starting to notice colors and texture.  Today, I found that I had that I had 30 minutes of uninterrupted time so I focused on getting the backing pieced together.  My biggest challenge is deciding how to quilt.  I am looking forward to this upcoming weekend to start quilting this.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Beginning

July 8, 2012:  I finally decided to stop dreaming and talking about every single thing I want to do but "never have enough time."  This is my commitment to balance life by spending every weekend staying away from work and doing something for myself and with my family ranging from experimenting with my culinary skills to crafting to traveling with my family.  Stand by for updates every weekend.