Monday, April 30, 2012

Sewing Five Minutes at a Time

When I sew I prefer to for longer stretches of time, say at the minimum sixty minutes. As my sewing space is also my kitchen table, I have to move my sewing machine and supplies to the floor every time the four of us sit down for a meal together.  It's actually a total pain and the wish for my own sewing space is growing daily.

This past weekend though I kept my sewing machine on the table, ready for action whenever I had the opportunity to sew... which I initially thought would be a lot more than what occurred.  The weekend was beyond busy but I did get a chance to sit down, and I'm not kidding, for five minutes here and there to work on these bags for my boys:

Camo Lined Drawstring Bags
I've made these bags before (Lined Drawstring Bags) and love the pattern by Jeni of In Color Order.  I purchased her pattern so I could a) avoid the math to make different sizes and b) show Jeni that I appreciated her tutorial.  I used a very thick camouflage fabric specifically chosen by my older son - who knew there were like 100 different camouflage patterns?   These are the Project Bag size: Approximately 13" x 8".

The five minutes here and there didn't feel all that gratifying but then I ended up with finished bags which felt great and made the boys very happy.  I'll have to remember that five minutes of anything here and there can make a difference over time.

I was not surprised when the bags went out into "the field" immediately to begin reconnaissance work in my front yard....

Later on I found them in the backyard among my lettuce, keeping the birds away.

I'm linking up with Manic Monday and Sew Modern Monday.

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

T@tT: Lazy Soup

Yesterday afternoon I had no interest in making dinner.  Usually I make myself go into the kitchen at about 5ish to get things moving but yesterday it just wasn't there....but I did have a plan.  I had a new soup recipe with all of the ingredients already purchased and ready...and all I needed to do was pull the trigger.  

Guess I was just being lazy.  

Finally at about 6pm I got motivated and made Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs from the April 2012 issue of Bon Appetit.  Oh my was it good.  This is a light minestrone made with chicken, leeks, pasta, spinach and carrots.  Instead of buying ground chicken, I ground up two chicken breasts in my food processor (just learned to do that a few years ago - how easy!) added in bread crumbs, egg, Parmesan cheese, garlic and S&P.  After forming into little meatballs, I browned them in my stockpot. My 16 yr old remarked more than once how good it smelled in the house.  

I then took the chicken meatballs out, added in leeks and garlic to cook for about 3 minutes, then added in the remainder of the ingredients except for the meatballs. When the pasta was almost done I added back in the meatballs to heat until the pasta was done.  The recipe says to add the spinach into the stockpot but I prefer to individualize my soup portions by placing the spinach in the bottom of the bowl and then ladling in the soup on top.  My boys will not touch the spinach so why waste perfectly good spinach on them?  
My photo: Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs 
I think the leeks added another dimension to this soup which made it a winner in my house.

Why can't my photo look as good as the original? (see below)  I was just drooling over the cameras featured in today's BA Blog - go see their article about "Finding The Best Camera for Food Photos".
Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs - Photograph by Romulo Yanes
I'm a bit late to the Table this week due to school but please go visit Debbie at her wonderful Tuesday at the Table feature.  This week she's talking about Farro.  Don't know what Farro is - all the more reason to go visit and find out.  

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday, 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Box Kite 2.0

I've done a little bit of sewing this week: Here is my second attempt at the Box Kite block by Angela Pingel from Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods.  A huge thank you to your comments and help last week when my first attempt did not work out so well. I'm very happy with this one!
Box Kite by Angela Pingel  - the 2.0 version
Next up is the April Bee Block called Potager by Yvonne Malone also in Modern Blocks by Susanne Woods.  The Nicey Jane fabric is so cute - too girly for me but fun to work on and send back to its home.

Potager by Yvonne Malone 
Next up on my WIP:
T-Shirt Quilt for Cousin - top done, backing & binding purchased
Camo bags for the boys - camo fabric in house, will use the Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern
Sew Happy Geek QAL - 12 blocks done, no further progress
Mug rugs for family and friends who have been so supportive

Dreaming of working on:
Dresses and skirts - fabrics and patterns are calling out to me to be purchased and made for summer. Yea summer is coming!

Please visit Lee at Freshly Pieced to see what others have in their WIP for this week.  Go see her Going Coastal quilt - I just love it.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

T@tT: Chocolate Oatmeal Bars in Photos

Please don't think I only make desserts around here.  I know I've been showing you a great many lately but only because they are fairly easy, I always have my pantry stocked with baking goods and I don't buy cookies/cakes/etc.  Soon I'll be featuring meals I make for dinner again (The April edition of Bon Appetit has about 50 recipes that must be attempted in my kitchen.) but for today I'll share with you what I made last night; Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.

These have been around a long time with many variations in the name so attempting to credit the original recipe writer is proven (for me) to be rather impossible.  Here is my version of Chocolate Oatmeal Bars.
A batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Dough

Melted: chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, butter and vanilla

Parchment Paper: One of my tricks in the kitchen

13 x 9 x 2 Pyrex Dish

Line Pyrex dish with Parchment Paper

Load in about two-thirds of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Dough: press down

Pour over melted chocolate goodness and make sure you lick the spoon

Dollop remainder of dough over melted chocolate

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes

Let sit for about 30 minutes (if you can), then pull out of Pyrex pan

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
1 Batch of your favorite Oatmeal Cookie Dough (homemade or purchased) 
1 Bag  (12 oz) Chocolate Chips
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbl Butter
2 tsp Vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a double-boiler or saucepan melt the chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter.  Once melted remove from heat and add vanilla. 
2. Line a 13 x 9 x 2 Pyrex Dish with parchment paper. Take about two-thirds of the Oatmeal Cookie Dough and press into the bottom of your pan. 
3. Pour over all of melted chocolate mixture.
4. Dollop remaining Oatmeal Cookie Dough over the melted chocolate evenly. 
5. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

I'm linking up with Debbie at her Tuesday at the Table feature. This week she's got a sweet feature too which shouldn't be missed.  By the way I made her Quiche recipe from last week for a brunch I hosted on Sunday morning and it was absolutely delicious!

Quiche Recipe from Debbie at A Quilter's Table
Hope you all have a productive Tuesday,

Monday, April 16, 2012

History Quilter Podcast Episode 25 Hawaiian Quilts

Happy Monday Everyone,

HQ Podcast Episode 25 where I speak (a little) about Hawaiian Quilts is now posted on Podbean and iTunes.  I  did not have a much time to research Hawaiian Quilts this week as I would have liked so my research is a little thin so stay tuned for Ep. 26 where I'll flesh it out a bit more.

Don't forget to join Sandy at Quilting For The Rest of Us for her Two Year Podcastaversary Giveaway Week 3. She's giving away two $50 gift certificates to the Fat Quarter Shop.

The Hawaiian Quilt Research Project has contributed photos and information for approximately 651 quilts to The Quilt Index. Go here to view those quilts. One of the founders of the Hawaiian Quilt Research Project, Elaine Zinn, was interviewed by The Alliance for American Quilts in 2008 where she talks about her her own interest in Hawaiian Quilts but how she and Elizabeth Akana (whom I mentioned in the podcast) began documenting quilts for the above mentioned Hawaiian Quilt Research Project.  Wish it was a podcast, but it is an interesting read - go here to read the interview.

I mentioned a Friendship Quilt that I saw at my local quilt guild meeting this past week (sorry no photo) but the whole idea of a friendship quilt (also known as a Round Robin) intrigues me.  Tami from Denver, a faithful quilting podcast listener to us all, sent me a photo of her own Round Robin quilt and gave me permission to post:
Round Robin Quilt courtesy of Tami in Denver
She shared with me via Twitter Saturday evening that this quilt took a year to finish and although it was a challenge for her group which caused a bit of distention, she is very happy with how it turned out.  Tami, thank you so much for sharing - it is gorgeous!

Podcast Episodes worth a listen:
Taste Matters with Mitchell Davis - Episode 30 with Marion Nestle.  They talk about the "calorie" - worth your 30 minutes for the science behind the calorie and how we can us it to make smart food choices.

The Moth Podcast - Roald Hoffman/Cocoon of Love 4/9/12.  Mr. Hoffman has a wonderful voice but the story is what gripped me and made me go back and listen again.

The History Chicks are back with Season 3 and they are giving us some great topics.  Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn and a little mini-cast of the Titanic are all new.

Random photos from the quick Easter weekend vacation: 
Facade of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA

Elephant Seals sleeping on the beach San Simeon, CA

Fence rail flowers inside of Mission San Luis Obispo, CA

No photo for the Posole: Pork and Hominy Soup but here are the links: Go here for the Carnitas that I described that go into the soup and go here for the Posole. Both recipes come from

Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Go here for the recipe.
Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake 

One last thing not related to the podcast - my oldest had his Confirmation ceremony yesterday in our church.

Hope you all have a wonderful day,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What I Served My Picky Eater Last Night

Do you follow the Bon Appetit blog called The Feed?  I do (what a surprise) and last week they featured Karen Le Billon who just wrote  French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters.  

Yes a very long title...but the message is worth the eyestrain!  The message being that in her opinion, when she moved to France with her young children she was able to glean from the French food culture around her certain rules and norms which helped her teach her own children how to become like she says, happy & healthy eaters.  Go here to read her interview on The Feed.  She's got a fun blog too - click on her name above to visit.

I have a relative picky eater in the house - he will eat a lot of just a few things and I have gotten used to tailoring my menus to his likes and dislikes. After reading the interview and viewing the informative and engaging French Food Rules graphic (BA and Ms. La Billon - please don't come after me...the credit is all yours!) I decided to take a stand.
French Food Rules from Bon and Karen Le Billon
Last night I served Stir-fried Eggplant and Tofu from Sunset Magazine for dinner and followed numbers 3, 5 & 6 on above list.  It was a bit stressful for me as he (younger son) came in and out of the kitchen during my prep, mumbling away at what he was going to be eating.  The misery continued on during dinner as he limped along, cutting the small "no thank you bites" I had given him into minuscule pieces for him to ingest.  I kept it together though and did my best to ignore his reactions and kept the conversation going - not about food.
What I served the little stinker....

In the end I was happy - I had made a dinner that I really enjoyed, the husband liked it too and said we should have it again (score!) and my younger son ate his dinner...well most of it.

I'm linking up to Debbie with her Tuesday at the Table feature so please go read what she says about quiche. Not only a great recipe but great advice today.  (like always!

So excited that today is finally here as I've been writing Lesson Plans and studying for a midterm that finally culminates today - can't wait to get the sewing machine out and start crafting...and have some fun!
Enjoy your day~

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Giveaway Winner & Next Podcast Topic

This was not an easy week for me due to various reasons but the main thing that kept me moving forward was nice people: wonderful comments and suggestions from you all for future podcasts; students in the classroom who really enjoyed my presence and learned something; and quick meet-ups for coffee/hot chocolate with friends.  Being nice, respectful and caring can make all the difference in a person's life - no matter how short or long the interaction.

I received 55 great comments from those of you who listen to both my podcast and Sandy's (Quilting for the Rest of Us) and am truly thankful and amazed at the wide range of quilting history you all are interested in and wish for me to research and podcast about. Amish quilts, history of fabric, history of the longarm machine, 1930's quilts, Double Wedding Ring quilts...for example.  And now for the winner...

Congratulations to hiyacinth for being the winner of the $50 gift certificate to! Her suggestion of Hawaiian Quilts (prompted from her seeing one in The Descendants) will now be the subject of my next podcast coming up next week. Cannot wait to begin the research on this starting with seeing the movie.  A big thank you to hiyacinth and everyone else who entered for the great ideas!

Hope you all have a great Easter Weekend - be safe, have fun and treasure your family,

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Miscellaneous Thursday

If you are looking for my giveaway in honor of Sandy from the Quilting For The Rest of Us 2nd Podcastaversary, please go here.  The giveaway will be open until Friday, April 6th at 6pm Pacific time.

I don't have a specific purpose in mind for today's post other than to share with you all what I've been up to the past few days...

First I'll start with a new-to-me Quilt Shop located in Los Angeles that I visited this past Saturday.  Sew Modern is (to me) the perfect quilt fabric store located in an area I don't frequent often but now that I know they are there, I have a feeling I will be getting to know the area quite well.
Sew Modern  10921 W. Pico Blvd Los Angeles CA 90064

Why do I think it is a perfect quilt fabric store: The store wasn't cutsey or huge, the store owner was wearing a darling dress made of an Anna Maria Horner Loulouthi pattern (instantly liked her....), the large wall of Kona solids and flannels and there were very creative modern quilts punctuating the walls all around.  I recognized many popular quilting fabrics - so fun to see them in person and to compare in my mind how much they differ from my computer screen image.  I enjoyed browsing but only purchased the Kona grey flannel backing and black cotton binding I need for the T-Shirt Quilt.  Excited to have Sew Modern on my radar...I'll be back.

My boy had a birthday and I made him these:

Fourteen pancakes for the 14 yr old

AC Milan cake
A big thank you to those of you who reached out with quilt block help on Monday in regards to the Box Kite block below.  Several of you mentioned the size of my template and so I went back to compare what I had printed out with the size in the book and you were right, it was way off.  A trip to the local copy place today will allow me to start again.....I am determined to conquer this block.  
Box Kite by Angela Pingel from 99 Modern Blocks 
Lastly, I want to share something wonderful I did yesterday - I got up in front a room full of 10th graders and taught!  I'm observing in a 10th grade World History class and yesterday when I arrived at 7:55am, I found a substitute in place of the instructor.  The plan was for the students to watch a 90 minute movie about WWII and fill in a graphic organizer with data that they learned throughout the movie.  In a split second, after conferring with the substitute, I decided to stay and try to bring to life what they were watching in this movie. I paused the movie approximately five times and briefly attempted to link what they had just viewed to their world, fielded comments and questions and tried to illuminate with a map where these events were happening in the world.  The best result: a student told me I was ENGAGING....for me, there is no higher compliment.

No sewing/quilting for a few days as I'm knee deep in writing 8th Grade California Gold Rush Lesson plans and studying for two midterms next week.  So much to do....need to make more time.

Hope you all have a great day~

Monday, April 2, 2012

Need Some Quilt Block Help

If you are looking for my giveaway in honor of Sandy from the Quilting For The Rest of Us 2nd Podcastaversary, please go here.  The giveaway will be open until Friday, April 6th at 6pm pacific time.

I need a little help with a block I worked on yesterday for the Modern Blocks Bee I am participating in. This is called Box Kite by Angela Pingel and you can see the original block here on her website.  First go check out what the block should look like and then compare it with mine.
Box Kite block by Angela Pingel from Modern Blocks by C&T Publishing

My questions for you:

1.  In the original block all four points of each individual "box kite" should come to a point, not cut off like mine are.  What could I have done wrong to have these points cut off when I cut all of the fabric out correctly?

2. The "box kites" should continue all the way to the end of the 12.5 x 12.5 inch block - I added a black border to increase my block size to that dimension.  Again, what did I do wrong?

I am looking for perfection but I want to understand what I did wrong so I can either make another block for my partner and/or learn for the next time.  Any input you have would be appreciated.

I'm linking up with Sew Modern Monday and Manic Monday today. Please visit them both!

Thanks everyone! Have a safe and productive Monday,