Monday, December 15, 2014

Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt - week 3

Hello again! I took last week off from blogging about the mystery quilt, but I'm back this week. Last week's block really had me frustrated because my printer wouldn't print out the correct size, and quite truthfully, the instructions left me baffled. Different designers have different methods, and I'm not used to this designer yet. Thankfully, this week was more clear for me. Piecing strips I can do. I'm afraid that the green I have is too dark, and doesn't read well next to the black. Not sure if I should rummage through my stash for something else to use. I really don't want to  have to rip out seams and swap out greens. I haven't done many strips yet, so I may switch things out for the rest. I already had these greens leftover from batik strips sets I bought several years ago.  Since they were in 2.5 inch strips, I stitched and then trimmed down to the correct width. Speaking of trimming, anyone else going through lots of rotary cutter blades? I swear, batik fabrics must dull the blades more quickly than other fabrics.

This is my first block completed from week 3. I am half done with my week 2 blocks. I have to cut out more black squares to finish up the rest of the double diamond blocks. I have a bunch more of week 1 blocks to finish, too, but I'd say I am 3/4s done with those.
Blocks 1 and 2 were giving me a hard time because my machine didn't want to feed the multiple layers with seams. I had been hand turning the wheel for several stitches, until over the hump caused by the HST seam. That got old, really fast. So, speaking of old, I went out and got myself a "new" machine. Isn't she pretty?? She's a 328k from 1961. She sews like a champ! She's quite powerful, and I am getting to know her, so my seams aren't perfect. I don't expect the quilt police to show up and my house (or in my comments), so I will say I am happy with how I have been piecing with her. I will need to replace the bobbin tire, but right out of the proverbial box, she has been great. I am amazed at all of the accessories that came with her, and in pristine condition. I'm guessing that she wasn't used a whole lot. And get a load of the price on the package of needles. When was the last time you bought a package of needles for thirty cents?

Monday, December 1, 2014

My First Mystery Quilt!

So, in addition to being a food-type person and a sometimes-Ihavebeenatotalslothlately-fitness-type person, I am also a crafty-type person. Since I had a few days off for Thanksgiving, last week I decided to undertake my very first Mystery Quilt. A mystery quilt is where you are told how much fabric you will need, and in what colors. Then you get the instructions each week of what blocks to cut and piece, and how many you need. You do this not knowing what you will have when you are done. Hence, it's a mystery. That reminds me of the movie Shakespeare In Love. What happens next? I don't know, it's a mystery.

Speaking of movies, this mystery quilt is called the Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt because the designer, Bonnie Hunter of,  was inspired by the colors she saw at the Grand Hotel in Michigan, when she stayed there last spring. That's the hotel featured in the movie Somewhere In Time. Great movie.  The colors of the quilt are yellow, green, pink, aqua, and black. As there are no quilt police, you don't absolutely have to use those exact colors. I am using similar, but not exact, and almost all of what I'm using is from my stash of fabric.

Last week, when I was working on my Crystal Santa wall hanging quilt, I griped about how much I dislike half square triangles. Guess what??? First clue instructions were to take the pink fabric and the aqua fabric and make 280 half square triangles. Yay.

 Here are some of my pink and aqua strips. I read about the Magic 8 method of making 8 half square triangles at a time by using larger squares that you mark, sew, then cut. Seeing as I am not the most accurate cutter of fabric, I figured that would be a good way to go.

I went a bit overboard cutting my aqua squares. Hopefully they can be used in later clues. I got a bit distracted. 
 Here are my first batch of blocks done. We need 100 of these, so I will be back at my sewing machine during lunch and after work.

I joked with the Quiltville FB group that I got so distracted that I burned my half square triangle. It's funny how you start to see quilt blocks everywhere. ;)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Ninja, A Sweet Potato and A Waffle Iron Walked In To A Kitchen ...

Welcome to Trash The Kitchen Tuesday! Actually, I trash the kitchen most days, if I'm cooking. I like to cook. Cleaning up, not so much. And may I say, having a microwave oven that also works as an Advantium speed oven lets me trash the kitchen so much quicker!

Yesterday, for my #30DaysOfThankful I posted a picture of my kitchen. After reading Carla's post, Meet My Friend Melvin, I realized that I let way too much food spoil. Not everyone can, after paying their rent, their bills, their child support, etc, afford to feed themselves. This morning, pondering what to have for breakfast, I decide to use up some things that I had in the pantry and the fridge: two partial onions (one red, one white), half a poblano pepper that was on its last legs, two sweet potatoes that were growing alien tentacles, err, sprouting, and one regular baking potato. The first thing that came to mind was trying to make waffle iron hash brown/latkes, but I didn't want to do a lot of shredding. So, I washed off all of the sweet potatoes and threw them in the Advantium to bake. In the meantime, I chopped up the onions and minced the poblano. When I got the potatoes out, they were only partially cooked, so I scooped out what was soft and put the rest back in to cook more. I took the cooked potato and put it in to my new Ninja. Ninjas rock, by the way. I added most of the onion and half of the poblano, along with a splash of milk. I blended that until it was fairly smooth, then I cracked in two eggs and blended again until it was smooth, like a batter. (Oh, yes, that is savory jerky from Rachel Ray, another awesome Fitbloggin sponsor, in the background. I picked it up yesterday at the grocery store. The dogs love it.)

By this time, the rest of the potatoes were cooked well enough, so I scooped them out and put them in to a bowl, along with the rest of the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Using a fork, I mashed the mixture until there were only small lumps.

 In went the Ninja batter, along with a pinch of salt, and I mixed everything together.

Next, I added a cup of Bob's Red Mill GF Flour Mixture (feel free to use regular flour), half a cup at a time, mixing to incorporate the flour and leave no lumps. I looked at it and thought, this would be really  nice with a side of bacon. I don't have bacon. :(  Oh, wait. YES, I HAVE BACON!! Thank you, Costco. I had a bag of bacon crumbles in the freezer. Forget having bacon on the side. I'm having bacon IN my sweet potato waffles.

I let the batter rest while the waffle iron heated up. My finger can attest that it heats up very quickly, thank you very much. I drizzle a little olive oil on the waffle iron and spoon in the batter, spreading it out fairly evenly. Pressing down, I anxiously await the light to go from red to green. Yay! It worked!

Breakfast dilemma solved, and I didn't let foods go to waste. Savory sweet potato waffles, topped with a little butter. To make it even more sweet/savory, after I took this picture, I spread a little bit of my maple butter from Raymond Sugarhouse in Hartland, VT.  If you love all things maple, and like to support small businesses, please consider ordering from them. Everything I have tried of theirs (maple syrup, maple candy, maple butter, maple cream, maple crunch peanut butter and maple crunch peanuts) are amazing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Pizza For Breakfast

I know what you're thinking. Who hasn't eaten pizza for breakfast. Cold pizza is awesome. Yes, yes it is. That's not what I made though. I made breakfast pizza!  Last night on FB, TJ posted a picture of pizza she made for dinner. She mentioned that it was a Greek yogurt crust. ??? I had to find out about this. It's one cup of greek yogurt, one cup of self rising flour (plus more for kneading), baked at 450 for 15 minutes. Well, I don't have self rising flour, but that's easy enough to make, and since I was making it myself, I'd make it with a gluten free flour blend. Since I only had vanilla Greek yogurt, I figured I might as well make a breakfast pizza.

My hands got seriously messy making this.
 Here it is, patted out on my pizza stone. Note to self: USE PARCHMENT PAPER UNDERNEATH THE DOUGH NEXT TIME.
 I used more of my vanilla greek yogurt as the "cheese" for my pizza, and topped it with lots of  berries.
 15 minutes later, browned and crispy pizza!

Okay, so here's why I need to use parchment under the dough next time I make this. I totally had to scrape the pizza off of the stone. So, it was messy. It was still really tasty!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quick and Easy Spicy Scotch Eggs

Hello October! Not all things fall revolve around pumpkin pie spiced everything. Shocking, I know, but true. Fall flavors to me, are savory flavors. Chili powder. Smoked paprika. Garlic. Yum.  These are a few of the flavors in one of my favorite things to eat. Scotch eggs. Recently, to celebrate the return of Doctor Who, The Aussie and I ate out at a local British pub. I was so happy to see Scotch eggs on the menu. Ever since, I've been thinking about them. What better time to make these than at the start of a paleo challenge?

Spicy Scotch Eggs (serves 4)

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 pound pork sausage
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 T parsley flakes
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Mix the sausage and spices together until well combined.

Take a large spoonful of the mixture and start to wrap it around a peeled hard boiled egg, like so.

Completely cover the egg with the mixture, smoothing it down to make sure there are no gaps. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes until the sausage is lightly browned and cooked through.

The eggs can be eaten hot, cold, and anywhere in between. I got a little piggy here because I was so hungry (they smelled amazing while I was cooking) and took two. My dipping sauce was a simple paleo mayo-mustard. I was full after having 1 1/2. These are perfect for any meal. 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Axis Of Ineptitude - Celebrity Crush

In true inept fashion, I have barely posted this month. In good faith, however, I cannot, simply cannot let today's prompt pass without posting. CELEBRITY CRUSH. Oh, yes. I will try not to think about how much younger these fine gentlemen are than me. And yes, I am happily married. As a wise woman once told me, "just because you've already ordered, doesn't mean you can't look at the menu."


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I don't care how old I am, I'm still going to

How appropriate that today's prompt falls on my birthday. One of my favorite birthday traditions from when I worked in NYC was to head to Central Park on my birthday and ride the carousel. This picture was taken the last time I was in New York. My mom, my sister and I all met up, did fun things, and while it wasn't on my birthday, it was close enough to it to count. I miss that carousel.
So, I don't care how old I am, I'm still going to ride on carousels.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Avocado Salad Fit For Fitbloggin!

I am so excited to be heading to Fitbloggin again this year. Fitbloggin is the class reunion/family reunion full of all of your favorite people. Some of whom you've actually met in person. One of the amazing sponsors this year is the California Avocado Commission. They are holding the California Avocado Cutting-Edge Culinary Recipe Contest for people attending Fitbloggin this year, and I couldn't be any more excited. If you've read my blog, you know that I love to cook with fresh ingredients, and you can't get much fresher than California avocados.

Since it's rapidly approaching meltdown stage in Texas, I wanted to make something fresh and cool, yet full of flavor. Summer on a plate.

Avocado and Mango Salad with Chicken and Grilled Pineapple (serves 2)

Main Ingredients:
1/2 pineapple
1 mango
1 California avocado
2 cooked chicken breasts

1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 T light olive oil
1 T white wine vinegar
1 t honey
1/4 t cayenne
1 T lime juice
2 T cilantro, finely chopped (you can use basil or Thai basil if you don't care for cilantro)

sliced salad topper almonds
red onion

To Do:

Peel and core your pineapple. Cut in to wedges approximately 1/2 thick. Heat up a grill pan over medium high heat and grill the wedges for 5 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool while you finish putting the salad together. (If you're like me and already have the bbq grill up and running, grilling the pineapple outside would be awesome!)

While the pineapple is cooling, peel and core your mango and cut in to bite sized pieces.  Next, take your cooked chicken breasts and cut in to half inch cubes.  Lastly, halve your avocado, remove the pit, and slice in to cubes. The easiest way to do this is to cut in half, lengthwise and split apart. Take the side that has the pit and tap the pit with the blade of your knife. Slowly twist and pull out the pit. Next, you take a small knife and cut the meat of the avocado in a grid pattern all the way to the skin, without cutting through. Then you simply use a spoon to remove the cubes. (Here's a hint: You can do something similar to the mango by slicing the mango "cheeks" off of the sides of the mango, and score in the same manner, using a knife to remove the mango cubes.)

For the dressing, finely chop both your red onion and the cilantro. Reserve a little of each to garnish the salad. Place the red onion and cilantro in a medium sized bowl, big enough to mix the salad. Add the olive oil, white wine vinegar, honey, cayenne and lime juice. Mix well with a fork to combine.

Now that your pineapple is cooled, cut the fruit into 1/2 inch chunks. Add the chicken, mango, and pineapple to the dressing in the bowl and gently mix to coat.

Spoon your salad in to a nice serving bowl or on to a bed of lettuce leaves. Garnish with sliced almonds, cilantro and red onion.


Update: Today I added diced cucumber to the leftovers. I loved the crunch it added.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Come Play In May - Inside My Purse

It's hard to believe that it's just about the end of the month. I've blogged just about every day of May. Pretty much a record, for me. So, today's prompt is what's in my purse. Apparently, I am a hoarder of eye drops.

The contents: one wallet, one checkbook, 31 Gifts wristlet with a lanyard from Home Depot so I can wear it around my neck, garage door opener, glasses case with cleaning cloth, keys, nail clippers, lip gloss, one tube of lip balm, one EOS lip sphere, loose change, pocket knife with black canvas cover (pink camo. My husband *gets* me), two lottery tickets, my shopper card to Quilt Country, a packet of Taco Bell fire sauce, receipts, Bear's new rabies tag still in envelope, one cortaid dabber, hand cream, a bottle of Zyrtec, two pens, a Larabar, mini flashlight from Walgreens that I got at the last 5k I did, a puffy mint and an empty puffy mint wrapper, and last but not least, FIVE bottles of eye drops.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Come Play In May - Book Report

It's no surprise to anyone that I read. A lot. I have books in my sewing room/library. I have books in the living room. I have books on bookshelves in my office. I have books on the window sill next to my night table. Lots and lots of books. It's heredity. What I don't have, is sophisticated taste in books. I read sci-fi/fantasy books, I read YA supernatural books, I read gardening and homesteading books, I read the kind of trash you can download for free on your kindle, and one of my favorite genres, I read romance novels.

I was a latecomer to the world of regency romances. Sure, I knew friends that read them, but they didn't appeal to me. And then I read my first Barbara Cartland book. The next thing I knew, I was prowling through the paperback book exchange in Guilford, looking for inexpensive copies of her books. And let me tell you, she wrote plenty of books for me to prowl for. Then I moved on to the harder stuff: Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jude Devereaux, Johanna Lindsey, Shirley Busbee. I was hooked. And this was all before anyone actually knew Fabio had a name.  But, alas, I had to move on again. That's the sad part about reading everything someone's written. You have to find new things to read. Eventually, I stumbled upon Stephanie Laurens. The book above is the latest of hers that I've read. While I did enjoy it, I didn't enjoy it as much as her earlier books. If you are a fan of Regency romances, I highly recommend the Cynster novels.

In Devil's Bride, the first of the Cynster novels, we meet Honoria Anstruther-Wetherby, a finishing governess of aristocratic birth who wants to live a life of adventure, and Sylvester "Devil" Cynster, the Duke of St. Ives. Honoria, in an attempt to help a dying young man, finds herself trapped in a compromising position with the young man's dark and mysterious cousin, the Duke. Forced by a terrible storm to spend the night in a woodcutter's cottage, Devil decides that he wants to make the headstrong young woman his Duchess. Together, they embark on an adventure of solving Devil's young cousin's murder, all the while the Duke attempts to ensnare his Duchess.

Come Play In May - Feel A Thing

The Aussie and I playing with BearPup aka Wookie Boy. I feel fur, and love, and puppy sneezes.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Come Play In May - Tell Me A Story

"Oh, come off it," She said. "You didn't seriously think I was going leave it alone, did you?"

The kitchen was silent except for the rhythmic sound of her chopping vegetables. One of the dogs hovered nearby, hoping for something to fall on the floor.

"I mean, when, have you ever known me to leave well enough alone? It's against my nature not to mess with things. I'm not saying that you weren't good, but you just weren't right for me, so I had to do something."

She continued to chop the vegetables, pausing only to scoop them in to the bowl. They looked pretty, she thought, jumbled together, with bits of the red pepper peeking through the various shades of green.

"I hope you aren't offended. I didn't mean to insult you."

She opened the jar of mayonnaise and spooned it in to the vegetables. Tasting it, she decided that it needed something else, something to brighten it up. Turning around, she reached into the cabinet and pulled out a bottle of rice wine vinegar. Spying the Togarashi spice and wasabi powder she pulled them out, too. She splashed a liberal amount of the rice wine vinegar to the mixture and a spoonful of each the Togarashi and wasabi, and stirred.

"Can you at least try to see where I'm coming from just this once?"

That works, she thought, and spooned some in to a bowl. She garnished it with a sprinkling of chopped peanuts, and stuck a fork in it.

"Well, if you aren't going to say anything, then that's it. I'm done explaining myself to you."

She picked up the bowl and walked towards her office, raising the fork to her mouth as she went.

Crunchy Pea Salad (adapted from Shrinking Kitchen's recipe)

1 bag of frozen green peas
1 can of sliced water chestnuts, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced 
1 small bag of snow peas, thinly sliced
1/2 cup light mayonnaise 
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 t Togarashi spice
1 t wasabi powder (or to taste)
1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Mix the vegetables together with the spices, mayo and vinegar. Chill for at least a couple of hours. Serve with chopped peanuts on top.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Favorite Summer Salad

Mmmmm. Crunch, crunch, crunch. You'll have to excuse me, I'm crunching away on this salad as I am typing. I have been making an effort to include more vegetable dishes in my meal plans. At the risk of making the baked eggs in swiss chard for the third time in a week, I decided to switch things up and make my cauliflower and broccoli salad. It's a salad that eats like a meal, and I can eat bowlfuls of this salad. The addition of the cauliflower gives it a wonderful crunch.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Summer Salad

1 head of broccoli
1 head cauliflower
1 c coleslaw dressing
1/4 red onion, diced
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 T apple cider vinegar or herb vinegar
1 T lemon or lime juice (or sprinkle in about 1 t of True Lemon)
1/2 c bacon bits
1/2 c Craisins
1/2 c toasted pumpkin seeds

Trim and cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Wash and drain the broccoli and cauliflower and place in a large bowl. Mix in the coleslaw dressing, making sure to coat the vegetables well. Cover and chill for at least two hours so that the flavors mix.

Stir the broccoli and cauliflower mixture. Add in the diced red onion, vinegar, lemon juice, shredded cheese, chopped eggs, bacon bits, Craisins, and pumpkin seeds. Mix well and enjoy!

Come Play In May - Write A Letter To Your Past Self

May 20, 1995

Dear Kyra,

I'm writing this letter to you on this very special day. I know you're rushing around, trying to get ready, so I'll be quick.

Have fun today. You look beautiful and happy. Don't be nervous. You two have many, many years together ahead of you. It won't always be easy, and yes, you'll do some stupid things, but you'll get through everything together. Always remember to kiss each other goodbye in the morning. Hug often, and say "I love you" frequently. You know it, but it's always nice to hear it said. Laugh together often. You are about to embark on a grand adventure with your best friend.



P.S. He was right, chocolate cake was an excellent choice for the wedding cake. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Come Play In May - (Ir)rational Hatred of Something

Nothing irrational about what I hate:

people who abuse animals

eggplant (except in Mechie's crab casserole)

redback, funnel web and brown recluse spiders

GU gels

missing the turn arrow because the first driver off the rank took 5 seconds to start moving

stepping on prickers or sweet gum seed pods

people who park their vehicle so that it takes up two spaces

that line of dirt that you can never get in to the dust pan when you're sweeping the floor

people who don't put their shopping carts back when they're literally steps from the cart return

Friday, May 16, 2014

Come Play In May - Fashion I Wish Was Still In Style

Ooh, this was a fun one. I remember some of the fun dresses that my mom wore when she and my father went to dinner dances in the late 60s and early 70s. So cool. She actually sent me a couple of them last year when she was going through her closets. Not a chance in hell that I can fit in them, but they're still very cool. When you get right down to it, I wish I was a combination of Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Mary Quant and Audrey Hepburn. Cool and mod looking. With great legs and great hair.