Thursday, November 03, 2011

First ticker tape mini quilt

I've been recently encouraged to pick up blogging once again. The main reason I stopped was that it wasn't very easy to do from my phone and I never sit down in front of the computer anymore. I've installed a new app to help, we'll see!

I have definitely been doing my share of quilting. If this post works I will continue to show my back log of recent projects.

I barely ever keep a quilt I make- I always give them as gifts. Out of everything I've ever done I think the two big kids each have a quilt and we have the big picnic blanket. That's it! My newest idea is to make a mini quilt using the fabrics from each of my larger, gifted quilts. This was my first attempt.

I recently made a wedding chuppah for my brother and my new sister-in-law. It was a HUGE project that took me months. I will reveal more in my next post. To keep a momento of the quilt. I made a ticker tape mini quilt to hang in our house.

I am usually inspired most by the fabric when I am designing a project. I buy fabric first, then come up with a way to use it. I used a glorious set of fabric called "Gerta" from Troy fabrics.

I'm glad to have SOMETHING of my own to hang on my wall!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

NYT biscuits

Breakfast is the easiest meal in my house. I throw some cereal to T, some yogurt at A and whatever else I can scrounge up for S. Complaints are usually at a minimum for the day. When I go above and beyond the call of duty I feel like a superhero; I'm the best mom (and wife) in the world. This morning I made biscuits from the (new) New York Times recipe. I'm thrilled that it doesn't call for buttermilk, like my other go to biscuit recipe. It's not like I have buttermilk in the house regularly, duh! I do have whole milk though (at least until Shayna turns 2). Anyway, they came out great. There is a 30 minute resting time, which sucks a little bit. And I think my other recipe calls for more butter or salt or something cause it's just a little bit yummier. But not so yummy that you should keep buttermilk in your fridge.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Ancho Chili Shrimp or Chicken Street Tacos

In all the cooking I did last week, this was the best. It was so yummy! The idea came from Cooking Light but I had to make a number of changes. Ron doesn't eat shrimp and I don't eat chicken (it's real fun at mealtime in our house).

Ancho Chili Shrimp or Chicken Street Tacos


chicken tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
shrimp, (I used frozen which I defrosted under cool water for a few minutes and took off their shells/tails)
chile powder, preferably ancho but any will do
garlic powder
ground cumin
olive oil
grated lime rind
fresh lime juice
chipotle mayo
sliced avocado or guacamole
packaged angel hair slaw
sliced green onions
chopped fresh cilantro
corn tortillas

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken or shrimp evenly with chile powder, garlic powder, salt, and cumin. Add about 1 tbl of olive oil to skillet. Add chicken to pan; cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan and squeeze lime juice over top. Same with shrimp. I don't recommend combining the chicken and shrimp.
2. Heat tortillas according to directions. I put them in a hot dry skillet for a minute or so and flipped them until they were golden. Remove from pan.
3. Spread a small amount (less than a tablespoon?) of chipotle mayo on the hot tortilla, add some chicken or shrimp, sprinkle with lime zest, slaw, green onions and cilantro. Add a dollop of guac or fresh avocado. ENJOY. and I mean that. ENJOY!
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Saturday, June 04, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Goat Cheese

This was recipe #3 in my effort to cook 4 recipes from Cooking Light magazine (May 2011). Sometimes I get the magazines but never get around to making anything from them and this was a good challenge to myself to keep up the cooking this week. This recipe was dynamite. I followed it exactly, except I substituted orchiette pasta cause that's what I had. I also followed my own personal cooking motto, which is "more more more" and more or less doubled the recipe. I always use as much as I have when it comes to vegetables so I used a HUGE bunch of asparagus and a HUGE bunch of cherry tomatoes and pretty much doubled the vinaigrette. Again, it's kinda sorta a pasta salad but I served it warm and that counts as dinner. The arugula, goat cheese and olives were just the right accompaniment.

Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula and Goat Cheese

Ron didn't think it would be good reheated the next day so he left it at home instead of taking it to work. His loss because it was awesome. The arugula heated up like it was spinach and it was just divine!
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Friday, June 03, 2011

Pistachio Chai Muffins with Vanilla Sugar Glaze

Holy Crap these are delicious! And I don't even LIKE muffins! This is my fourth recipe from Cooking Light (May 2011) this week-- so I reached my goal (even though this one isn't a meal I'm counting it). I made two intentional adjustments to the recipe (made mini muffins instead of regular sized so the baking time was about 10 minutes instead of 15, and I only put pistachios on half the muffins because my kids are dumb and think they don't like nuts). Unintentionally, the kids were a bit heavy handed with the vanilla in the recipe and my brown sugar was a little hard so it wasn't disributed as evenly as it could have been. And yet still, these are out of this world. Try them!
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Pasta with pistachios, green beans and lemon thyme vinaigrette

I'm trying to make an entire week's worth of meals (about 4 dinners) from my Cooking Light Magazine. I'm not even sure if it's the most current issue - it's just the one that's been in my bathroom for the last week. Two nights ago I made their Gemelli pasta with pistachios, haricot verts and lemon thyme vinaigrette.

It's supposed to be a pasta salad but I served it warm so that makes it dinner. I made it with a mix of half boxes of pastas that I had lying around (if the cooking time is the same, you can safely mix different shapes). And I used plain old regular green beans instead of haricot verts, of course. I actually cooked them separately in boiling water because I didn't have enough room in the pasta pot. Since when do I need a pound and a half of pasta for my entire family!?! I boiled them for 8 minutes, drained them and ran them under cold water to keep them looking bright green.

Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. The only change I would suggest is to add the lemon juice from the lemon (you're suppose to just use the zest) to the dish - either to the vinaigrette or just over the entire thing. It was a great dish for our first dinner outside on the porch!

Last night I made ancho chili street tacos, adapted from another Cooking Light recipe. They were out of this world! And super easy! Hopefully I can post that later.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Custom Dog Quilt

Well it sure has been a long time since I finished a quilt, hasn't it? This one was a custom order-- my sister-in-law requested a primary colored dog quilt for my nephew. He happens to be 6 months old already so you can imagine how long I've been stalling on this one! I had the quilt top pieced a long long time ago but just wasn't confident in my plan for quilting it so I let it sit. and sit. and sit. I really wanted to try free-motion quilting but I knew I didn't have enough practice. I ended up doing a number of difference techniques. I did some straight-line quilting in the dog squares to accentuate them and then wavy lines with my walking foot on all the black sashing (that's where I chickened out by not using free-motion there). I finally put my new free-motion skills to work with the solid colored pieces. In the photo-strip edge I free-handed a single star in each colored square. For the large solid colored blocks I really went to town and did swirls and stars. it was fun, really fast and it turns out that you can't really see the "mistakes." Everything looks like it's supposed to be that way.

I always wanted to try free-motion quilting but thought there must be some sort of trick to it. I finally took a class this winter and learned the trick. The trick is-- there is no trick. You just have to do it. So far, stars and swirls is about all I can handle but I'm excited to try some other techniques and I think I have the confidence to free-motion an entire quilt. I'll start with something small- a baby quilt I'm sure.

It feels great to have this project wrapped up. A huge weight is lifted off my shoulders. Now I'm working on little clothing projects for the kids and designing a big big big project for my brother's wedding! Only 5 months for that one... Must get to work!
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Cute shorts and scraped knees

Alex requested some shorts this morning. Since I finished a long-standing, major quilting project yesterday I'm feeling the freedom of being between projects. I didn't prewash this fabric so it might just be a one time only pair of shorts. That would be a shame cause they're super cute.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vermicomposting, my newest endeavor

I have a compost bin (the Earth Machine) in the backyard but I'm not finding it very satisfying. I can't use it in the winter because I can't get to it through the snow and it freezes shut. Plus I don't take care of it very well (Ron says it's not a compost heap, just a heap of rotting vegetables) and therefore don't exactly get compost from it. We don't have a lot of "brown" material (dried leaves, newspaper, grass clippings) to add to it along with all of the vegetables and it really needs a mix of carbon rich and nitrogen rich materials to thrive.

I have wanted a worm composting bin for a long long time. I haven't gotten one because it seems like a lot of work, I'm slightly creeped out by worms and worry about the kids getting in there. Well screw all that because I have jumped right in! I got my Worm Factory 360, the worms arrived yesterday and I am ready to go. I absolutely hate putting my food scraps in a landfill and now I won't have to. I'm happy to report that so far all is well. There were a few escapees last night but in general it seems very healthy in there. The worms have spread out and pretty much disappeared from view, down into the carefully prepared bedding I provided for them. I have some food scraps in the corners and if they have started eating them within three days I can start putting more scraps in there. With the right conditions it can be fully operational - meaning 5 trays high with the bottom one full of fresh, worm-made compost within 4 months.

I currently have to hold myself back from checking the bin (the worms like their privacy) more than once a day. I am constantly checking the thermometer to make sure it's not too cold (below 40) or too hot (about 80). I worry that even fully operational they won't be able to handle the large amount of vegetable scraps that we have. I guess that's what the big compost bin (aka the rotting vegetable heap) is for. I will keep you updated!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

OMG Panko Crusted Soy Ginger Asparagus

This was phenomenal. The recipe is found here at Dana Treat. Go now. Why are you still looking at my blog? Go make this asparagus!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Garden

The theme this year is simplicity. Tomatoes and herbs, just like I promised myself. Talia took half the garden for flowers. We left a space unplanted so the kids (Shayna) can dig around. It was so hard to pass up all the other plants and seeds at the market- peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, squash, carrots, peas etc. but I really wanted to try it this way and see if the garden can be a joyful place instead of a stressor. If I miss growing all those other veggies I'll know for next time!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Ravioli with Harissa Oil

I recently got the Super Natural Every Day cookbook by Heidi Swanson. This is the second recipe I've tried and it's another great success. I love that this is extremely quick- cook some ravioli, add broccolini into the ravioli water at the end. Serve with toasted nuts (she suggests pepita or pine), feta and black olives. Drizzle with Harissa oil which is basically lemon juice, garlic, salt, two tablespoons of Harissa and 4 tablespoons of oil. Great taste + very few prep dishes = a winner.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

Sitting on the porch
Putting the binding on our family quilt
One kid sleeping
One kid playing outside
One kid snuggled right next to me, reading.

Monday, May 02, 2011


My sweet Alex is FOUR today! We had an awesome party yesterday at our local pet store. The kids got to see and touch lizards, mice, a snake, snails, puppies, a kitty and a bunny. I let all the children "adopt" a kitten stuffed animal and we filled out adoption certificates. We served snacks (dog bone shaped graham crackers and goldfish) and ice cream in pet bowls that the kids could keep. We all had a great time!
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fantastic Time in Mexico

A much needed vacation! We had a great time with my extended family. Cancun is only a 3 hour direct flight from Milwaukee-- I think we may be visiting there again!
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Team Umizoomi Toys

Alex really likes Team Umizoomi. There are no Umizoomi toys available to buy so I made him a little set out of peg dolls. Bot doesn't looks EXACTLY like he was supposed to but... what's a girl to do? Geo and Milly look... ok.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Exactly What I Wanted

After reading this post, you will know that this is exactly what I wanted!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Talia's Fairy Playmat / Messenger Bag

Similar to Alex's, this one has a bunch of little villages, a Rapunzel tower, a waterfall, castle, mushroom patch, koi pond, mermaids, beach, forest and more. I haven't finished it so I better hurry up!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Alex's Car Playmat / Messenger Bag

I made Alex a car playmat that folds up into a messenger bag. He loves it. I used this pattern from Gingercakes with a few changes. My sister and I used to make elaborate villages out of Fisher Price houses and Little People. I feel like I'm always trying to get the kids to play villages with me. I keep buying them playhouses and dollhouses - anything to start a village building frenzy. It doesn't really work. They might play that way for a little while but would rather do their own thing. Which I guess I should accept. This playmat is sort of a take along village. It has a school area, a hiking park, a candy store and cupcake cafe, a science museum, a zoo, a construction site, a fire station, an airport, traffic, a playground, two housing complexes and a roadway. I am in the process of making Talia a girly one as well. I went on a fabric frenzy after I started making these two. They aren't that big so I have to be VERY selective as to what fabric I choose!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Peg Dolls

I've been quite productive in the crafty department recently but too lazy to take any photos so... no recent blog posts. Yesterday Talia, Alex and I painted peg dolls for the first time. I had been looking forward to it for a long time! It was really fun even though it was quite messy. I could have worked on them forever. I made Alex a really cute superhero but he was too busy playing with it to let me grab a photo. What more could I want?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Talia's Yoga Birthday Party

Talia's yoga birthday party at Blackbird Family Yoga was a great success! The yoga class was fantastic-- the kids really enjoyed it and Amanda, the owner, kept their attention perfectly! I brought a picture frame (I spray painted it pink - and the garage floor, oooops!) and a few props and the kids really hammed it up. The homemade cupcakes were a total hit. I used this recipe for the cupcake and this one for the buttercream frosting. It really isn't that hard to make cupcakes if you send the kids away and they are not climbing all over you. And if you have a Kitchen-Aid mixer. I'm glad this birthday extravaganza is over. I have two months until Alex's 4th birthday and then we are done for a while. Now getting Talia to write her thank you notes will be another story... We've set a goal of three per day. It should be easier than last year, right?

One thing to note-- this past summer I was watching a video of my own birthday party, I'm not sure if I was 6 or 7, but I recall watching myself reading the birthday cards out loud and I noticed that I read them as well as if I were reading them now, at age 37. I was a bit mortified thinking that Talia's reading skills were not up to par. Lo and behold, she read her birthday cards with the same ease I read mine. What a difference a half a year can make! I'm so proud of her!
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tuscan Salad

Must share... This is a really delicious and impressive salad. Sometimes salads don't seem to be enough for a main dish but this one is substantial enough for sure. The crunchy romaine (I'm into romaine these days after years of shunning it for darker greens...), the meaty white beans, the bite of the red onions and olives and the fresh, perfectly al dente green beans combine with a super tangy lemon dressing and salty parmesan. Sound good enough for you? Here it is...

Giada's Tuscan Salad

8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 head Romaine lettuce, torn
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted black olives
1/2 red onion, cut into slivers
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce shaved Parmesan (about 1/2 cup)

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and stir. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until beans are slightly tender. Transfer the cooked green beans to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 3 minutes. Drain the green beans.
In a large bowl, combine the green beans with the lettuce, cannellini beans, olives, and red onion. Toss to combine. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Top with shaved Parmesan and serve.
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Look who's turning 7 tomorrow!

We have a packed weekend! Talia turns SEVEN tomorrow! She is performing in the talent show at school and having a yoga birthday party this weekend. Anyone have any suggestions for egg free treats I can bring into school tomorrow?
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brussels Sprouts and Roasted Winter Squash Hash...

with black rice and a fried egg on top.

I tried this recipe from the New York Times. I fried the egg since I am not confident of my poaching skills. Anything with a fried egg on top is pretty delicious, isn't it? I made the black rice in the rice cooker. It had a nice crunchy texture to it (or is that because I mixed it into the pan with the vegetables after is was cooked?) and tasted great, especially for a whole grain! I would definitely make this again. I probably would dice up the butternut squash and roast it in the oven (maybe even with the brussles sprouts?) instead of cooking it whole and then scooping it out (too messy). Now I need another recipe for the rest of the black rice. I think black rice is "in" right now, isn't it?
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anniversary Map Papercrafting Project

I felt a little guilty about not finding a unique gift for my parent's anniversary last month. Actually, it wouldn't have been so bad... except I didn't send my mom anything for her birthday which was two weeks prior. I'm the kind of person who will get a gift if I see something great. If I don't see anything I like, I just might not send anything. It's not very nice or consistent but I have a lot of gift angst. It doesn't help that certain people in my family are pretty good at picking out gifts. My family is hard to shop for and I just can't handle the pressure!

The night before my parent's anniversary I started feeling guiltier and guiltier so I spent two hours scouring for something special. I found a lot of contenders (must keep them in mind!) but most had a long turn-around time so I drew inspiration from a few artists and came up with this gift myself. I bought an atlas at the bookstore and a cloud punch plus a deep frame from the craft store. I enlisted some help to pinpoint the exact cities that my parents had visited over the years. I punched them out of the maps and affixed them to the frame. It took quite a while to figure out the best way to attach them (sewing was involved!) and the best configuration for them (approximately spatially according to city). The best thing about it is that I haven't made much of a dent in their travels-- I only covered Europe and Asia! This means that next year I can give them Africa and the next South America and then Australia! So in the end, I get a few years worth of anniversary gifts out of this one idea! How awesome is that?
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Slightly Belated Recent Happenings

Packers won

Shayna hangs out in her favorite spot

Talia has a tea party for her new American Girl Puppy, Coconut.

I acutally made cookies. From scratch. I let the kids help. It wasn't fun.
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