Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Instant HAPPY Journal

Instant Happy Journal by Karen Salmansohn
I haven't always been a glass-half-full type of person. In fact, I'd say the majority of my 50+ years have been just the opposite. It's only been in the last few years that I've switched on the Happy Meter. I now am always on the search for creating happiness and surrounding myself with positive people in positive situations. It ain't always easy, I tell ya!

So, I found this book....the one pictured above to help me focus my thoughts on what makes me happy, what causes happiness in others, and also rid myself of the nasty negatives that swirl through my brain. Kick them to the curb! There is no room in my head for such things!

As you may know/remember, I spent my teaching years supporting the Language Arts, which included journal writing. I had files and files of journal starters for my students and made them promise each year that they would keep their journals for eternity. I even had them stand on their chairs with their right hands up as they pledged to keep them in a dry, safe place for 100 years. Wouldn't you just love to have your hands on a journal that you wrote when you were 10 years old? Oh, man, I'd do a triple back flip for that...if I had written one. It would make good reading for me as I lay in the hospital bed with my broken bones from that failed back flip.

Anyhoo, I have had some very good journal writing with this book. It's put a lot of thoughts and events into perspective for me. I keep it on my bed stand so I can flip open to a page randomly and write. Sometimes, I skip to another random page...just cuz I can do that and I don't have a teacher hovering over me.

Some of my favorite entries:
  • You can't control how some people will treat you or what they'll say. But you can control how you respond.
  • Surround yourself with people who clearly love your light and want to add to it.
  • Turn your TO DO list into a WHAT MATTERS MOST list. What's on it?
  • Take a few minutes to breathe. Then listen. What do you need to pay more attention to in your life right now?
  • You should eat like you love yourself. Have you been eating self-loving foods?
  • Write a letter to a specific painful failure, thanking it, then sending the pain away.
Each page has a line to fill in the date, has at least 10 lines to write on and is so colorful and happy! The author, Karen Salmansohn, wrote a 5 star book, in my opinion. The pages have different borders and graphics and is just a great book. Plus, it's small enough to stick in your purse or tote when on the go, so you can write when the feeling presents itself. If you're looking for someone who would like this as a gift (or for yourself!), I found it on Amazon for $10.89. Here's the Amazon link: Instant Happy Journal  *Not an affiliate link and no one is paying me to send you there! I just like good deals.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

100 Quilt Blocks DONE!

Yeah! A few weeks ago, I finally finished all 100 blocks from Tula Pink's City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book. I started this in mid August and kept plugging along making 3 or 4 blocks at a time.
I really, really enjoyed sewing these blocks (except for Block #90).
Choosing the fabrics for each block and following Tula's photo instructions was so easy (except for  Block #90). Each block is unique and will look great made into quilts (even Block #90).
I kept them lined up on my sewing room floor in groups of 30 so I could keep an eye on color combinations. When I was finished, I thought I'd sort them into "girly" piles and "boy" piles and I'll stick with that plan when putting them together. I can probably get 4 baby quilts or play pads from these 100 blocks.
I'm thinking of adding a white sashing between each block.
So here's the photos in groups of 15. My husband asked why 15? Well, it makes for easier photos, Silly! No other reason to my madness. No one can reason with my madness. It is an entity all its own.

Blocks 16-30
Blocks 31-45
Blocks 46-60
Blocks 61-75
Blocks 76-90
Blocks 91-97
Yes, I realize that 3 blocks are hiding somewhere. Duh!
Those stinkers are probably hiding out somewhere in my immaculately organized sewing room. I will find them soon. (Eyes rolling here.)
Are you curious about that Block #90?
This one?
It was a monster to piece! There are 6 pieces and it just didn't line up well.
 Not near as slick as the other 99 blocks.
What am I reading right now?
I got this book out of my neighbor's Free Little Library.
I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, but this one is pretty good! I read it during my prep periods while subbing. When I'm home, I'd rather spend my free time sewing, so this book may take me a while to get through.
Does your area have a Free Little Library? We have several in our city.
This is in our neighbor's yard...so convenient!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: Grill It Baste It Broil It

About a month ago...Monday, August 3rd to be exact...
my mind, my will power, my stars, and my thighs all aligned to make a change in my eating habits. It takes a lot to get me to into this phase of "dieting". I have to be in the right frame of mind. No one can force me, nothing can flip the switch unless I'm ready. August 3rd I was ready. Perhaps it was because I was sick and tired of being chunky. Or feeling crappy, or having to buy new work slacks in a size that makes me feel uncomfortable. Everything just came to a head and I said, "Let's get on that wagon, Girl!"
I am not alone in this endeavor. My sweet husband could stand to lose a few pounds, especially above his belt line. Those tender love handles have to go, Honey!
Both of us have moderate health issues. Mine being borderline cholesterol levels and his being high blood pressure problems.
I've always known that the American Heart Association supplies us with dietary recommendations to help control the amounts of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugar to help folks like me (and my honey) lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Both of these factors, when high, increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Knowing that I'd like to live a long, healthy life, I needed to get into action.
What did I do? I cut out all white flour, sugar and pop (we Midwesterners call it pop. You may call it soda, but whatever.) I also got this cookbook from the AHA (American Heart Association):

It is jam packed with great recipes that include 12 different ways of preparation: Slow Cooking; Microwaving; Blending; Grilling; Stir-Frying; Braising; Stewing; Steaming; Poaching; Broiling; Roasting; and Baking. Most recipes have ingredients you'd find in your standard pantry. A few involve special ingredients that aren't difficult to find in a regular-sized grocery store.
My first recipe I tried was Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. Yep, 40 cloves! My husband and I both love garlic, so I figured we had a winner here. The results? I liked it, but he wasn't so crazy about it. To him, the baked garlic tasted funny. This was a "braised" recipe and it was my first time braising anything! It was easy to prepare and was finished off the next day for leftovers.

Not a good picture AT ALL,
but this is the finished product of
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic.
Served with a side of fresh green beans and mushrooms.
That night, we also had Easy Peach Crisp from the Baked Category of the book. The recipe called for light margarine, but I don't use that stuff. It's butter or nothin'  here. It made 4 portions and they were very substantial servings! We thought it tasted better warm than cooled the next day. I will definitely make this one again.

Easy Peach Crisp

A few nights later, I chose Chinese Chicken Salad from the Stir-Frying section. This was my first time grating a ginger root and it was so easy, I'm embarrassed I didn't try it long ago. This can be eaten hot or cold. I tried it both ways and absolutely loved it both ways! If I had another thumb, I'd give it 3 thumbs up!

Chinese Chicken Salad

Last night, I made Porcupine Meatballs I found in the Broiling section of the cookbook. Made with ground turkey breast and brown rice, the meatballs themselves were delicious! The tomato sauce came out rather bland, but with some help from garlic powder, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, and onion powder, it tasted great! I'm not afraid to add seasonings, but I do stay away from added salt. Tonight, I'm going to have the leftovers served on some baked spaghetti squash. Yum! (The picture below is AFTER I scooped out my portion for dinner...couldn't wait...the recipe made 16 meatballs...I ate 4 of them, which is one generous serving.)

Porcupine Meatballs

I've already got more recipes tabbed to try soon: Baja Fish Tacos; Chai-Spiced Pineapple Spears; Layered Mexican Casserole; and Chicken Parmesan Soup. As long as I serve up tasty, healthy meals, we are heading in the right direction. So far, I've taken off 10 pounds and feel a whole lot better!
If you're interested in purchasing this book, click here:  
FTC disclaimer:
"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tales of a Fabric Collector

This post isn't about me. Not really, but sort of. It's mostly about an experience. I do like  love fabric and I do have a "stash" and I am running out of room in my closet, but I don't consider myself over the top with my collecting. Not yet anyway.
Get a cuppa. This is a long read.
Have you ever wondered about what would happen to your sewing "supplies" if/when you die and can no longer hover over your precious collections? I have thought of this more than I'd like to admit. Anyone else? I'm thinking my family would just bundle it all up and give it to Good Will. I have no personal sewing friends, so my family would think to bag it up and give it away would be the simplest thing to do.
Well, last weekend, I went to a friend's house for a fabric sale to beat all fabric sales! Her sister-in-law passed away this past March after a brief battle with cancer. (Rest in peace, dear Sharon.) As time went on, her husband came across a pile or two of fabric hidden in various drawers or cabinets in the house. They'd be stacked behind books or dishes or cereal boxes. Sharon had a dedicated sewing room that was well stocked already, so her husband had no reason to believe that there was any more.
Well, he was wrong. Big time wrong. He ventured into her car and the trunk was jam packed with fabric. An extra bedroom was another place to stash her wares under the bed, in the closet, in the dresser, even between the mattress and box spring!
Now most of this fabric wasn't your run-of-the-mill JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock lines (not to demean their stuff...that's where I buy 95% of the time).  She and her husband liked to travel and when he'd go to a sporting event or off fishing, guess where she went? Yep, to quilt shops. And she'd buy lovely yardage of designer fabrics. Then she'd hide them in suitcases, bring them home and hide them again. Never washed, never organized by color or theme, but just stashed.
Sad, huh?
It took a group of 5 ladies 3 weeks to go through everything they found (and some may yet be hidden) to measure, tag and organize this beautiful haven. Once ready, it filled 4 large rooms of my friend's house. All set out like a shop with signage and baskets of supplies like thread (hundreds) , scissors (all shapes and sizes), rotary cutters (must've been 2 dozen of them), sewing patterns (from garments to totes to quilts), buttons(galore!), even a large basket of unfinished projects to be lovingly completed by someone else.
All was priced to sell. A 3 day sale starting at noon on Friday. I got there at noon. On Friday! I was at the back of the line amongst 20 other women all wanting the same things. We were met with hugs at the door, given a tote bag to shop with, and some verbal directions as to where was what, plus a bit of history on the situation. Sharon was a hoarder. Her husband needed to get his house back.
Fabric was measured and labeled by the inch. It was selling for 10 cents an inch. A fat quarter was $1.00. Quilt kits were marked Small-Medium-Large and was $12-$15-$18 respectively. Signs were posted on walls with categories and prices. Sharon's spirit was present and all was calm as ladies giggled and shopped and filled their totes (some more than one!).
This is what I came home with:
I spent a total of $103 on this treasure and didn't regret a penny of it. I barely made a dent in the piles within those 4 rooms.
My friend said there'd be a huge slashing of prices on Sunday of anything that was left. So, of course, I had to go back. (Quit rolling your eyes.) I filled another tote and brought this home for $32. Fat Quarters were now 4 for $1, all quilt kits were 1/2 price, and bolts of fabric were just $10. A hoarder's delight.
In the end, I hope Sharon was looking down on us and was happy that her family and friends were sharing her passion. Spreading her love of all things sewing amongst local ladies, while allowing her husband to see smiles of the recipients and gain back some cash... a very small fraction of the worth of this treasure.
Rest in peace, Sharon, and I do hope there are sewing machines in Heaven!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

100 Modern Quillt Blocks #1 - 15

Blocks #1-15
I am SOooo enjoying the journey of making these quilt blocks from Tula Pink's book. Knowing that each block is different and I am in charge of choosing the fabrics,
(rather than following a prescribed pattern), I am at ease and loving each step.
Here are Blocks # 1-5
plus a photo of Sophie! She is very camera-shy,
but insisted on sitting in on this photo.
Blocks #6-10.
If you're expecting perfection, you'll be disappointed!
I am a self-learner, never have taken a quilting lesson and
am determined to make myself into an official "quilter"!
Blocks #11-15.
I found a way to help  myself keep the strips organized.
The blocks need a variety of widths: 1"; 1.5"; 2"; 2.5"'
and several larger widths of various sizes.
So, I am keeping them in marks containers for easy grabbing.
As you can see, I have way  more than 15 blocks finished!
I'll be blogging about those in upcoming posts.
Thanks for the comments and suggestions to add more solids and tone-on-tone fabrics.
I took your advice and have added some!
That's what blogging friends are for!

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Quilt Along

A few weeks ago, I came upon this blog post  in my Bloglovin' feed written
by Michele at Crayon Box Quilt Studio

Michele and her friend, Katie, decided to stitch up several blocks from the Tula Pink 100 Modern Quilt Blocks book. They wanted to cheer each other on as they progressed through the book and then decided to invite readers to join in! I was immediately interested!
So, I went on a search to find the book on eBay and snagged one for cheap (meaning less than half price in the book store), plus it was brand new! While I waited for the book to be delivered by snail mail, I got to work on
choosing my fabrics.
I've been a Joel Dewberry fabric lover for a while and have collected several fabrics from his line that I loved. I pulled out the ones that coordinated well together:

*Please keep in mind that I am NOT a skilled quilter, nor do I have a lot of experience pulling fabrics for quilts!
I just know what I like.
Then, I went through my stash
 (no pictures of that, thank goodness...I'd scare you away) and found some non-Joel fabrics that I wanted to mix in.

OK, who's saying,
"Yee Gads!!! She's not going to mix all of those fabrics,
for real, is she?"
 If that was you, I heard you! :)
So, the piles all together looked like this:
I'm thinking I'd like to make all 100 blocks. Yep, I'm an over-achiever. I  may or may not put them all in one quilt. I do hope for some grand-babies one day...or several days, so this might be a good way to get prepared for that.

Anyhoo, if you want to join along with Michele at Crayon Box Quilt Studio, head on over and add your link!
New blog addition:
Since I'm a teacher by profession, I thought I'd add a note at the bottom of every post to let you know what book I'm currently reading.
For a long time, I've had
 The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath on my reading list.
 Published in 1963, it's an autobiographical novel of a young woman's journey with mental illness and eventually enduring a mental breakdown. I'm enjoying the book, but it is leaving me with questions that I'd love to have answers to. I guess that is one trait of a great book...to leave questions in the mind of the reader.
What are you reading?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Big Sister Dress!

Every soon-to-be big sister needs to have a special dress, right? A dress that announces to the world that she will soon lose her status as an "only child"!
I have a very good friend in Utah that is going to be a grandma for the second time this fall. When her grand-daughter was born, I made 2 sweet, personalized bibs for her. Now this little darling will soon be 2 years old and is making way in her world for a sibling!
So, I got to work and made a Big Sister dress! I didn't know her size, but guessed it would be close to a 2T. This silly Butterick pattern came in sizes L and XL, so I chose the XL. I think she'll be able to wear it next summer too, with shorts or leggings. Once a big sister, always a big sister, right?
Here's the back. It turned out so cute!
Once it made it to Utah, my friend corralled her little sweetie and posted a photo:
Just as hoped, they all loved it!
And that makes it all worth while.

Monday, July 13, 2015

I Got My Groove Back!

I took my embroidery machine in for a check-up on May 8th and just got it back this past Friday on July 10th! 2 months getting a check-up! I tell ya, if I didn't have my regular sewing machine, I'd have gone postal. Apparently it needed a part that was on back-order. I can deal with that. But then the shipping docks in California were on strike, so it could be a while before the part got here, the repair guy said.
Long story short, I picked up my machine Friday, only to find out the foot pedal and cable were missing. I was so frustrated! The repair guy never could find them, so he gave me new ones off a different machine...no charge, he said. NO Charge!! I don't think he knew what a hot mama I could be, mid-menopausal and all.
So, I got to work on a couple bib orders that had been waiting since May.
I hope these kids still make a mess when eating. At least drool a bit.
This one is for Will...duh. Do I really have to be so specific? :)
And don't forget Grayson!
 I wonder if these kids will ever be friends.
Maybe they'll sit together at lunch in 2nd grade and ask each other if they happened to have a personalized bib when they were babies.
Maybe the bibs will show up for show and tell.  

Yep, they turned out pretty cute. I am finally putting my labels on things.
Gotta give myself credit. I also bought some business cards! Woohoo!
Maybe I'll make the Forbes list someday.
My hubby is out of town all week and it's stinkin' hot outside, so I think I'll delve into my stash and do some more stitching!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Almost threw it out...
I have a lot of planters. Big ones, little ones, in-between ones. A few weeks ago, I was digging up the dreaded ferns that multiply like rabbits in the back garden
we call "The Enchanted Forest".
As I dug, I fantasized about keeping a few in a planter for the lower deck. Get that *tropical* look, you know? Yep, here in Iowa, not much is tropical except for the hot, humid weather during the summer.
So, I went into the capped garage and found this old, icky looking planter that was already filled with soil. It would be "good enough" for the time being.
3 ferns were planted. Those same 3 ferns were cut down to soil level after a day. They were drooping like an old lady's boobs. I still had hopes they'd start growing again.
When we returned from our Colorado vacation about 2 weeks later, they did!
They were growing like nobody's business!
BUT, that planter was still ugly.

I decided to do a little DIY project with what I  had in the house and
 give this planter a make-over.
First, I cleaned it up good with soapy water and a brush. No miracles there.
I wanted to give the pot a plaster-like texture, so I added some leftover dry grout from a tile project to a sample jar of paint. Lowe's sells these  reject paints for $1 and I pick them up from time to time for small projects.
I mixed the grout and paint well with a plastic spoon. It became thick quick, so I worked quickly! Using a paint brush and a foam brush, I applied the mixture to the entire outer surface.
Once I had it all covered with the paint/grout mix, it was sure clean looking, but not really what I had hoped it would look like.
I went digging through my paint stash and found nothing that I thought would work.
In the back of the closet, I came up with some old brown shoe polish paste. Who keeps shoe polish anymore? I guess I do. Can't tell you the last time I used it though.
Using an old rag, I dipped into the polish and smudged it along the raised parts of the planter, giving it a rustic look. That's what I was after!
Easy job. Cost me next to nothing and looks a whole lot better! No telling how long that shoe polish will last, but who cares? It sits under the deck (ferns like shade), so it won't get beaten with rain and if it does wash out, I got more in the back of the closet. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Outfit for Ella!

School has been out for a few weeks for us and I had a real itch to sew an outfit for my grand-niece who lives in Utah. (I know...you're thinking I'm not old enough to be a Great Aunt, right? Heck, I was a Regular Aunt when I turned 6!) This niece is on my husband's side and is just the cutest little toddler ever! Her mama posted on facebook about how much Ella loves giraffes, so that had me inspired. Nothing like a little bit of *ooooh!* to get me going!

I haven't sewn garments for quite a while. The last piece I made was about 2 years ago for a friend who had a part-time job working as a clown. It was quite the project, but I battled it and was happy with the outcome.

Cindy's Clown Dress Jan. 2013

So, about a week ago, I found a darling Butterick pattern that I wanted to make for Ella. Knowing that I wanted to add a giraffe to the front helped me narrow the choices down. I needed a simple, non-gathered front with enough space to embellish. Butterick pattern B3846 was it!

I found an adorable giraffe template on Etsy for $2.00 that I printed off. I already had some giraffe fabric in my stash, so I was set.  (Giraffe fabric in 3 different colors...I'm a good stasher). Also, in my stash was 2 yards of hot pink fabric and some eyelet lace that would work well!

Here's the finished outfit:

Adding that eyelet lace gave me fits and I realized, as I was beyond the point of tearing it out, that this was not a good pattern for trim, unless it was above the seam line. I made it work, but I gained a few gray hairs in the process.
The back is just so cute!
Notice the little detail I added to the shorts.
It was a cutout from another piece of fabric.

Then, of course, every little girl needs a matching bag for her new outfit!
I found this simple pattern on
Crazy Little Projects called a Mini Messenger Bag.


Inside the bag, I added a cute little photo holder that could hold a photo
of her favorite (and only) Great Aunt!
It's all on en route to Utah as of yesterday and should arrive tomorrow!
My next project?
Comments appreciated! Don't be shy!