Monday, March 30, 2009

Tastes As Good As It Looks

This is such a simple meal. Simple list of ingredients. Simple flavors. And it's simply pretty.

I was not raised in a house where "presentation" was important. My mom is the queen of skillet dishes. If you have ever enjoyed a skillet dish you know that it may be tasty, but a looker it is not. I have never really felt the need for fancy food presentation either. I appreciate the sprinkling of fresh basil or chopped parsley on top, but I tend to skip that step when I am getting food on the table.

I try to make up for my lack of radish flowers and mint sprigs with attractive serving dishes. Vintage, if possible. My collection of refrigerator dishes and Pyrex bowls make even the sloppiest of skillet dishes look dressed up.

Which brings me to this meal. This looks like spring on a plate. No fancy drizzle of truffle oil around the edge of the plate needed. The fact that it tastes as good as it looks: even better.

All that is left is a clean plate.

Meet Eppard

This is our new robot. The Boy built him for his science project focusing on "systems". The assignment was to design a toy with at least five moving parts using items found around the house.

I have been stressing over this project for three weeks. You see, I am not an inventor by nature. Yes, I sew and craft, but putting something together that has moving parts...with nothing more than trash?

This is a "student-led" activity. Translation: minimal parent help. OK. No problem. In this case, I call it "blind leading the blind". So, we brainstormed. Of course, a six year old wants to make these fantastic toys with lights and motors. How do I explain that I can't help him make an army tank that moves over land and sea out of a sour cream container and an egg carton?

We just happened to run out of oatmeal. Looks kind of like a body. Robot body? I sew...I have spools of thread! A rolling robot? It wasn't a sea-going tank, but it would have to do. It was a start at least.

One oatmeal container, a plastic toy box, a skewer, five empty thread spools, some cardboard, a few brads & screws, and a little spray paint and you have got yourself a robot. Add some colorful buttons and sequins...Hello Eppard!

It moves. It rolls. And besides handling power tools, hot glue guns, or cans of paint, The Boy did create his toy.

Welcome home, Eppard. Now The Girl wants to make you a sister.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ode to Cereal

Strange writing a post about cereal. However, I can not contain my love...

You are sweet.
Not syrupy sweet.
You are crisp;
You remain crisp despite being covered with milk.
Not too crisp.
You don't hurt my mouth when I crunch.
You fill me up:
with energy,
with fiber,
with omega-3s,
with protein.
I look in your box and see:
oats, raisins, pumpkin & flax seeds;
organic goodness.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What's For Dinner?

This is what's sounding good this week:

Sunday: chicken w/ brown rice & broccoli casserole, green beans, fresh tomatoes, whole wheat bread

Monday: grilled chicken w/
taziki sauce, Greek salad, whole wheat pitas

Tuesday: basil & garlic shrimp, whole wheat pasta, steamed green peas, cherry tomatoes

steak tacos w/ cucumber avocado salsa, black beans

Thursday: homemade tomato soup, cheese toast

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: hamburgers, oven fries

The tomato soup is Angry Chicken's recipe found here. Recipes highlighted in orange are from the cookbooks noted here.

If you have specific questions I will answer in the comments section.

Happy noshing!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Let's Rock

It's done. And I love it. It is a great feeling to love something that you have created. And I do love this. All of the colors are my favorites, it's not too big, not too small, not too heavy, not too light. It blows doors on a Snuggie.

I used the same design concept as I did for The Girl's quilt. However, I made the "bars" narrower and chose to have them vertical versus horizontal. The top is made from fat quarters. The back is a muslin that looks like linen. The muslin was a little course but became very soft after being washed. I really like the back. I think that it made the quilt look "handcrafted with a modern edge".

I did my usual wavy-line quilting. Why? I can't sew a straight enough line for my picky self. I choose not to torture myself and do wavy lines. It breaks up the straight edges of the rectangular design as well.

I did not pre-wash the material. I was a little nervous, but decided to roll the dice. I wanted it to have a really aged look. Luckily, it did not bleed and became so soft and wrinkled. All the qualities that make a quilt cool.

Tonight I think I will curl up in my chair with a new quilt and enjoy some quality rocking time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hypersonic Quilting

I am determined to finish the quilt...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shirking Responsibility Is Fun

We came home today with our usual list of things to do. Spring hits Houston early: air is warm, cool breeze blowing, rain moving in. Love it.

Let's go outside and play. The other stuff can wait.

I want my kids to be able to balance living in the moment with responsibility. This is something my "to do list self" is working on. Today was good practice for all of us.

So dinner was a little late, I helped a little more than I should with homework, and my almost-done-quilt is still almost done.

Shirking responsibility is fun.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I'm Dragging

Getting back into the school routine after Spring Break is catching up with me. I just didn't have it in me to make dinner, help with homework, do some laundry, and mix up bread dough. Something had to give: dinner got the boot.

My husband is very sympathetic to my plight and offered to bring home some Star Pizza. It is "take-out pizza" in name only. They have a wheat crust and toppings that are fresh and prepared by hand. We get the grilled chicken with tomatoes, garlic, and basil.

Aaaah...I'm feeling better already.

Obviously, I am the only one dragging in this house. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Special Delivery!

My books have finally arrived! Inspiration on my doorstep is a wonderful thing. I have been working on the quilt so I haven't been able to really dig in to these. What I have seen while thumbing through is all positive. There are some great tasks for all skill levels included in each of these books.

Check out the interview with Heather Ross over at House On Hill Road. Erin is sharing some great insights and modifications for projects that she has completed from Weekend Sewing. I am ready to tackle the All-Weekend Sundress (for me) and the Smocked Sundress (for Nora).

The quilts shown in Material Obsession are just beautiful. They range from very basic and easy to assemble to more intricate and advanced. Lucky me: the simplest quilt just so happens to be my favorite. I am sure that one of these will make its way onto my summer crafting list.

Sew What! BAGS follows in the footsteps of the other books from the Sew What! series. Again, the projects range from basic to more advanced. There are some definite gift possibilities in this gem.

Check them out. They would be a welcome addition to your craft library.


Spring Break is over. Back to the grind. Here is a sneak peak of the throw quilt.

I was able to piece the front and back in one day. Obviously it is not finished. I need a few more hours for quilting and binding. I should be able to squeeze in some quality sewing time over the next few days and complete it before the weekend.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's For Dinner?

I am a planner...a list maker. I consider it another "hobby" of sorts. Each week I make a list of dinner menus. I keep these menus in a food journal. They help me create my grocery lists. It also relieves much stress in the evenings because I know exactly what I am going to cook and that I have all the ingredients on hand. We save money, time, and eat more healthfully by doing a little bit of planning.

My food journal.

My good friend Lia suggested that I post my weekly menu so that she could use it. So, I am offering it up to all. Hopefully it can help you out as well. If you have any questions, I will post answers in the comments. The menu is just for dinners. I don't have time to cook breakfast in the mornings before school and we have leftovers for lunch.

Sunday: spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, sauteed green beans, spaghetti squash, whole wheat bread

Monday: fish tacos with chipotle cream, black beans

Tuesday: grilled chicken, brown rice, steamed mixed veggies, fresh tomatoes

Wednesday: lemon chicken soup with orzo, whole wheat bread

Thursday: tuna salad sandwiches, tomato and red onion salad

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: hamburgers, oven fries

Dessert: cinnamon-apple oatmeal bars

All of the menu items marked in green are from this cookbook. It is amazing. This is one of the few cookbooks I own that I actually follow the recipe without making changes. Her show on Food Network is really good too.


I have made excellent progress on big project #3. I don't think I will quite make my "end of Spring Break" deadline, but I won't be too far off. I will give you a sneak peak tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Need For One More

I said that I had two big projects to finish before the end of Spring Break. They are done. I have added one more to the list. Can I get it finished in a mere two days? That remains to be seen.

I have a beautiful crochet blanket that my Mema gave me a few years ago. It is one of her scrap afghans. They are "sloppy seconds" in her mind but of all the fancy and intricate blankets that she makes, they are my favorite. The colors are so random and non-matching to a point that it all perfectly "fits". I love it. Well, this blanket has been on the back of my couch and most recently the back of my green rocker. However, each time that I put it out it seems to come apart after a couple of weeks use.

It looks awful, but I assure you it can be mended. It has already been repaired once and will have to be repaired again.
I just don't think it can stand up to my two children pulling it, rolling in it, and pretending to be a ghost with it. They are kids, and I don't want to have something out to use...that can't be used.

So, I will have to find another place for my blanket that is a little less rough and tumble. Which brings me to project number three. I need something for the back of my chair and I think that a throw quilt is just the thing.

Here is the material that I have chosen. The colors are all favorites: oranges, browns, mustard yellows, olive greens. I chose a bunch of fat quarters that fit the color scheme. The actual pattern was less important to me than the color. The backing is a simple muslin that looks like linen.

As you read this I am cutting and piecing. If all goes smoothly I should be able to sit in my rocker with the kids and my new quilt and read bedtime stories before school starts on Monday!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Goin' On In The Girl's Room?

I got myself in gear yesterday and rearranged The Girl's room.

There were only so many ways I could place things. I didn't want to put her bed against the wall (like it was) because I didn't think it would be good for the quilt to rub up against the wall. She only has a couple of outlets so her dresser couldn't move too far. The stainless table is what we used as a changing table when the kids were in diapers. At one time it was an examination table in a vet's office. I love that table and eventually want to put it in a sewing studio. Until that day comes, The Girl can use it for extra drawer space and the metal tubs can house her books and costumes. The rocker was where I sat to nurse her back in the day. Although it is somewhat neglected now, I have visions of her sitting there rocking her baby dolls or reading a book. The smaller stainless table was also salvaged from a medical office.

You can see the pillows that I made to go with the quilt. I made a regular pillowcase out of the cowgirl print. The two square pillows were made with extra fabric strips used in the quilt top and bandanna backings. The rectangular pillow is made from a light weight denim. I appliqued cowgirl print pieces on the front and added some jumbo rickrack as border. Everything blended really well with what we already had from her nursery. It just looks a little more "grown up". And even though the "growing up part" makes me a little sentimental, I figure that if it's inevitable it should at least be cute.

So, both big projects are done. But can you believe that I added one more to the list? Details coming.

Big Project Number Two

I finished my other big project yesterday. This is The Girl's new quilt. I am a bad Mommy. It is not "her style" at all. She is all pink, purple, and sparkles. It is a play on the theme of her nursery. We didn't find out the gender of our babies so we had to decorate neutral. She had a western theme. I found this material before she was born and fell in love with the retro feel. They had a boy and girl version, so about a week after she was born I made my way to the fabric store and bought up a few yards.

A close-up of the fabric and detail.

The Girl will be turning 4 in June, so I am taking advantage of my Spring Break to "mature" her room a bit. We got rid of the crib long ago, but it has been a room in transition. I wanted to make her something that could age with her and that we could both live with. I just can't do vast amounts of the pink-purple-sparkle thing.

The back. It is pieced with flannel for softness and warmth.

I made her a bunch of pillows as well. I will post pictures when we get her room all done. She is going to her Nana and Pappa's for a few days with her brother and this will be her surprise when she comes back. It might not be her favorite colors, but she likes it. She has been calling herself a cowgirl. And I will let her put the purple Ariel and pink Disney Princess pillows on the bed to give it her personal sparkly flair. That's fair, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Getting the Big Projects Out of the Way

I decided in January that I had two big projects that I wanted to complete by the end of my Spring Break. Once they were done I could focus on some smaller projects. My first big project was a quilt for our bed. We had a mass-marketed duvet cover from Ikea. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I wanted something unique. I let it stew in my brain...for quite a while. Finally I decided on a coin quilt.

However, I had never made a quilt. Yes, I know. I am crazy to take on a queen-size quilt for a first time project. No baby quilts or doll quilts for me! I figured that I could "earn my stripes", and then anything after that would be easy. I used this book as a loose guide for techniques and began. A few weeks later, this is what emerged.

I am pleased. Is is perfect? No. There are some flaws that I can see. But isn't that the charm of handmade? I am a perfectionist and usually the flaws bother me, but the more I create the more I appreciate the little things that give something that "rustic feel".

I really like how the colors work together. I made a pillow to go with it by using the uneven ends that I had trimmed from the coin strips. I had thought about tossing them, but luckily did not. You never know when some scrap will come in handy!

This is me, feeling very accomplished. I am a quilter!
Stay tuned until tomorrow: big project number two will be revealed.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Are you lucky?

Aside from the green beer and having an excuse to wear my favorite color from head to toe, St. Patrick's Day is a day to remember just how lucky I am. I have a great family. I love my home. I have friends that make me laugh. I have a strong healthy body that lets me do what I want to do. I have a mind that remembers days past and can problem solve for the future. I have a faith that grounds me. I live in a country rooted in freedom. What are you lucky to have in your life?

And just so I don't get a pinch, here are some snippets of green that caught my eye this morning. Happy St. Patrick's Day all!

Monday, March 16, 2009


I am Mom to a wily boy
and a spun-sugar girl.

I am Wife to my best friend.
We have a loyal,
albeit smelly dog.

I mold young
Kindergarten minds...
and no, I do not wear
a "kitty-cat vest".

I sew.
I crochet.
I want to learn needlework.
I am learning photography.
I want to work-out again...
I need a few more
hours in my day.

I cook a lot.
I am a healthy eater,
but ketchup is still
my f
avorite food.
Diet Dr. Pepper
is a close second.

I adore basketball.
The Spurs are "my boys".

I cheer for the Longhorns.
Me and my Pops
talk ball every day.

I live in a 1950's
ranch house...
which I covet.

It is a house filled with
many vintage-y things.

Orange and green
e my colors.
My style could be described
as retro-bohemian-chic...
whatever that mean
I am "old school".
I have it pr
etty good
re on Planet Earth.
Feel free to look through
this wi
ndow into my world.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Which comes first...the craft or the blog?

It's time to start. And it begins. Thank you for taking a peek into my world.