Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wednesday Words {thankful}

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If you are on Instagram you may have seen my daily Yogi pictures {and new music finds too}.  I LOVE Yogi tea.  The chai green tea is my favorite.  This tea has little sayings on the tag that are always fun and thought provoking.  Now I don't live my life by the yogi sayings like they are gospel but they are still fun to read and think about.  So everyday around 2 pm I have my daily Yogi tea & inspiration.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I enjoy Christmas a lot but Thanksgiving is my very favorite.  I enjoy the lack of commercialism and taking an entire day to pause and think about what we are thankful for.  To me, that beats camping out in front of Best Buy in a tent or breaking down the doors of Walmart any day.

So today I'll leave you with my collection of Yogi sayings and tell ya'll that I'm thankful for each and every one of you.  I love having this blog and a way to express myself, my creativity, and even the ups and downs with people who I have so much in common with.  So, thank you!

For my US friends, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  For the rest of my friends, feel free to think of us Americans stuffing ourselves with turkey and gearing up to go out and trample each other on Black Friday.

I'll be finishing up a few projects over the holiday and I'll be back on Monday to share!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Organizing then creating...

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This is what a depressed quilter's stash looks like.  I've been struggling, not as bad as other times, but struggling nonetheless. 

This is what it looks like when you feel better.  Yesterday I made myself go into my studio and organize, fold, and put things where they belong. 

It's funny how a clean studio frees up creativity for me.  I planned a new quilt for our bed; one made out of scraps which will be a first for me.  I've been trying to decide on colors for this quilt forever and I could never make it work.  So this one will be a scrappy one made from my favorite fabrics and the most non-offensive fabrics I can find for Steve's benefit. ;)  I'm also going to mix in some dark solids to keep the quilt from being too busy.

And here's a sneak peak of the quilting on a beautiful vintage quilt for a friend of our family.  It's an honor to be trusted with a piece of family history.  I should be done by Thanksgiving and I plan on binding it after turkey and while watching football.

Last but not least, depression is tough and it seems like this time a year a lot of people struggle.  So if you are, take care of yourself.  You are not alone, I promise.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Words {Curating}

Pin It I've always thought it would be fun to be a curator.  A curator of almost any kind, really.  Just as long as there are pretty things involved...

This is probably as close as I'll ever get though!  Sew Lux Fabrics is having a Guest Curator contest and while I'm usually not much on contests, they had me at the offer to be a curator.  A curator of fabric?  Yes, please!

I love choosing stacks of fabric.  Sometimes you can find me in my studio "playing quilt" where I'm just making fabric stacks for no good reason other than I love fabric and mixing colors.  My family also knows that when I retreat like this that I'm probably a little stressed out and the tend to let me be.  I always emerge from my studio a much more pleasant person. ;)

I created this first mosaic like I often do, I chose one print and built around it.  Can you pick out which one was the first print?

The name of this bundle... Blue Christmas.  I woke up with that song stuck in my head this morning.  Why, I don't know.  But I've always had a thing for mixing up Christmas colors with a little blue. 

I think Elvis might have been on to something... ;)

My second bundle, because I couldn't stop with just one, Snowed In

Living in Texas all my life, I'm a little obsessed with snow.  Some winters we actually get snow but most of the time it's just an ice storm that keeps us off the roads and home.  I guess you would call that "iced in" but I like Snowed In better!

My color inspirations here... hot chocolate, a fire going, a warm quilt, and of course some snow.

There are more beautiful curated collections over on Sew Lux Fabric's blog.  You can also find all the contest details too!  So go make yourself a fabric bundle... or two.  It's really a lot of fun to "play quilt"!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lunch Bag {part deux}

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I have insomnia and last night was one of those nights.  So instead of laying in bed freaking out about not being able to sleep, I made a lunch bag.

My first attempt at this bag can be seen here.  I'm much happier with this one though. :)  The thing I like the most about making bags is that there is always something to learn or tweak to make it come together easier, faster, etc...

This bag is Chaney's lunch bag.  It's small-ish, insulated and most importantly, it received her approval this morning.

I really, really like the drawstring top on the structured bag.  There's one thing I'll do differently on the next few bags but overall I love how it turned out.

Next up: a medium sized bag for me and a large bag for Steve.  And then a PDF pattern to make all three sizes!

Linking up for Fabric Tuesday over at Quilt Story and Finish it Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Once a month {cooking}

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Don't worry... this is not going to turn into a food blog!  But when I posted this picture on Instagram yesterday and started talking about not having to cook for a month, I got a few questions. 

I wasn't going to write a blog post about it but then I realized that less time cooking = more time to sew.  Yay!

I decided to do a trial run of slow cooker meals made ahead of time a few months ago.  This is the site that I started with.  It was a success so I went for another round.  Since school started this type of cooking has been a life saver for me!  I put something in the crock pot in the morning and when we get home all I might have to do is to make some brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, etc...

Up until yesterday I was making all slow cooker meals but I decided to branch out yesterday and make some freezer dishes that freeze well to be thawed and baked in the oven later on.  It gives us a little more variety and also some individual servings for when Steve travels or Chaney isn't home and I don't want to make a giant crock pot meal.

Here's what I made:
- slow cooker white chicken chili (2 bags)
- slow cooker black bean taco soup (2 bags)
- slow cooker shredded Mexican chicken tacos (2 bags)
- slow cooker chicken tortilla soup (2 bags)
- slow cooker chicken fajitas (2 bags)
- slow cooker corn & potato chowder (2 bags)
- freezer chicken spaghetti (2 pans)
- freezer black bean, spinach & chicken enchiladas (2 pans)
- freezer healthy spinach and chicken pasta rolls (10 rolls)
- freezer meatloaf & mini-meatloaf muffins (36 muffins)
- freezer chicken parmesan Italian loaf (2 small loaves)
- freezer chicken pot pie (2 pies)
- freezer breakfast burritos (10 turkey sausages/egg/cheese, 10 black bean/egg/cheese)

We are a family of 2 adults and 1 kid so I split the ingredients into two gallon size freezer bags/pans so we have 32+ meals that will still leave leftovers for me to take for lunch in my cute lunch crockpot.

Some of these meals will also create leftovers for another family meal... like the shredded Mexican chicken.  Leftovers of this meat make a great chicken enchilada soup the next day.

I also stretch the ingredients by focusing on more vegetables as ingredients and less on meats.  Healthy vegetables and non-meat proteins are often better for you and I tend to think that the American diet has their meat portion sizes way too big.  Just my opinion though... ;)

- These meals are from scratch so I know exactly what's going into our meals which is important with my allergies.
- Nothing is from a box so none of those nasty preservatives.
- Lots of vegetables & healthy carbs
- Flexibility.  I have adapted some of the recipes to use whole wheat pasta, brown rice, red potatoes instead of russet potatoes, turkey instead of ground beef, etc.  I haven't had one of these modifications turn out bad with any of these recipes.
- And the obvious... saving time.  All of this took me about 4 hours.  Steve helped me some and my feet were killing me at the end but that's better than cooking for 30-45 minutes every evening after work. :)

- Initial time investment... it's a long day in the kitchen.
- Grocery shopping is on a larger scale since you are stocking up for meals for a month or so. 
- A giant mess in the kitchen after cooking all this!  A big thanks to Steve here!
- You have to plan your freezer space out well.  Lay your bags flat to freeze and they stack nicely though.

- Cut all your vegetables first.  It's easier to grab what you need to fill your bags instead of stopping to cut veggies with each recipe.
- Kitchen safety.  Rinse your meat.  Pay attention to your utensils and the meat you used to touch them.  I do all my chicken meals first, clean the counters, put those utensils in the dishwasher and then move on to my beef and turkey meals.
- Here are some tips on freezing pans of food so your dishes aren't tied up in your freezer.
- Several of the recipes call for chicken broth.  Use the broth made from the recipes that call for boiling and shredding your chicken.
- Label your bags/pans.  You might be able to tell what it is before it's frozen but let's just say that we've had some surprise dinners in the past because what I thought was one thing turned out to be another meal.
- If there are special instructions for cooking/reheating, write them on the bag.  You might think you will remember but that's not always the case, especially if a few ingredients are added after the dish cooks all day.
- Buy your ingredients on sale and stock up when you find a good sale.
- Pinterest is your best friend.  I found every single recipe on that site.  If you follow me there you can find all my favorites under my "food to make" tab.

The math:
- I spent approximately $170.00 supplies, ingredients and sides to go with these meals.
- 32 dinners {feeds 3}
- 32 leftover lunches {feeds 1}
- 20 breakfast burritos {feeds 1 per person}

That's $170.00/84 meals = $2.02 per meal {not per person} 

So not only does less time cooking = more time sewing... less $$ spent = more $ to spend on fabric.  Not bad at all!

Let me know if you have any questions.  I'm not a pro by any means but I'll do my best to answer them...

*Edited to add... the most frequent question I'm being asked is if I'm cooking the meals before freezing or after.  Both. :) 

It depends on the recipe... most of the slow cooker recipes {in bags} are cooked in the slow cooker after freezing the raw ingredients in a bag.  Just like a lot of stovetop or slow cooker recipes that aren't frozen, you combine all the raw ingredients and cook them all at once.  As a general rule the only meat I pre-cook before putting it into freezer bags is ground beef but only because it won't form into that ground beef texture cooking in a slow cooker.

Some of the recipes that are frozen in a pan have parts that are pre-cooked and then frozen and then some have been mostly cooked and are ready to be put in the oven after defrosting. 

I know the question of putting raw ingredients together will probably come up but if you do some reading here you should get most of your questions answered. I did a lot of research on this and came to a comfortable conclusion because all the ingredients are being frozen at the same time and cooked at a high temperature at the same time as well. We have been eating meals like these for several months and we have never had an issue. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekend {quilting}

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Don't you just love a weekend with no real plans or activities?  This weekend I will be quilting and I'm so excited!

I'm also a little nervous...  this beauty dates back to the 1970's.  Note that I am not calling this a vintage quilt.  That's because I was born in 1977 and I am not vintage. ;)

It's hand pieced and has some really fun fabrics in it.  I'm quilting this one and another one for the owner of the quilts.  This one will be a Christmas gift.

So you know that nervous feeling you get when you drop your needle into the quilt for the first time to begin quilting?  I get that way with my own quilts so that feeling is multiplied when I'm quilting someone else's quilt; especially when it's been passed down in a family.

I have a few designs in mind that will hopefully reflect the the time that this quilt was pieced in and the fact that it's a family heirloom.  As I'm basting and "getting to know" the quilt, I'll decide on the final design... that's typically when I finalize my quilting plans.  Then the real fun begins...

I hope ya'll have a wonderful weekend!

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