Saturday, July 5, 2014

Signature Block Quilt Update

Some quit due to slow progress never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress. –Unknown

For me, life is particularly busy lately and quilting and blogging have had to kind of take a back seat. Work is busy. My kids are high on the priority list. I spend a lot of time cooking, because I have to. Gluten free and dairy free is hard to find in fast food restaurants or even in prepared or partially prepared foods at the grocery store. I'm not complaining. We're eating a lot more fresh foods without preservatives. And I've enjoyed exploring new tastes and finding ways to eat delicious food that doesn't disagree with my body. I've become a curry addict. It is awesome.

Right now, the sewing project that occupies my limited time is a signature quilt for a very special lady in my neighborhood who is turning 100 in September. I've been thinking of this quilt since she turned 99 last September. I bought fabric clear back in March. And I've been working on blocks since mid-May. Each set of four blocks takes about an hour, give-or-take, depending on how interesting/how much attention the TV show I'm watching/listening to requires. About an hour a day is all I have for sewing and what seemed like slow progress has turned into this beautiful stack of 52 blocks.

Since I didn't post as I went you get all the blocks in one giant, picture heavy post. A lot of the prints came from the 30's Playtime line by Chloe's Closet for Moda. This is one of them.

Loved this print! It came in several colors and it was hard not to get them all.

This is how I left things when I finished working that particular evening. The next morning, it looked like a perfectly staged photo op, so I took it.

Moving on to the reds.

See comment on pink block in same print above.

This is another print that I had a hard time not buying in every color. I love those pretty roses!

Orange is such an underrated color.

This one is a Lori Holt print.

Each set of four blocks takes a little less than half of a fat quarter. I'm definitely going to use this print in a fall quilt.

I love yellow. It is so sunny and bright. This is another print that came in several different colors, but I only got it in yellow.

This sweet print might just be my favorite, but I can't say for sure.

The rose print also came in yellow. I didn't get more than two colors of any print, but it was tempting.

This, I think, was my least favorite print. But once I cut it and put it together, I like it. A lot.

All put together, those 52 blocks make 13 of the 25 flowers for the quilt {layout}. I'm more than half-way to 100 signature blocks! That is pretty exciting! The half-way point is sort of the barrier to me; it is where the mundane becomes exciting again because what I have left is less than what I've already accomplished.

After I put together the collage, I started in on the green fabrics. If you ask me my favorite color, I would probably say blue. Or maybe red. But secretly, I think that green is my real favorite color. And now I have 56 of 100 blocks done.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Stitch In Time: May Finishes Giveaway Winner

A stitch in time saves nine. –English Proverb

So, I looked up the phrase "a stitch in time saves nine." I wanted to know its origins. Also, finding the perfect quote for my posts is a part of my process. Sometimes a quote is exactly what I need to tie everything into a nice, tidy prose package. Sometimes it takes me in a different direction. And sometimes, it just distracts me. There's a lot of information out there, if you know what I mean.

I always thought that "a stitch in time saves nine" meant that if you hurry and do a sloppy job, you'll have to redo. Or in the in the case of sewing unpick and redo. I don't know about you, but I hate unpicking. But from what I read, the saying is meant as a warning against procrastination. A small tear mended now will require only one stitch, but if you leave it and it gets bigger, you'll need 10 stitches to fix it. And if you rearrange the letters of this little advisory, they spell out, "this is meant as incentive." I'm a world class procrastinator. Perhaps I should take the incentive.

Words of caution with subliminal messages aside, I thought it was a clever play on the words to name a linky party for finished stitched projects each month "A Stitch In Time."

The irony of all of this is that I am just now posting the winner of the May Finishes Linky Party. I've been putting it off until I have a chance to click and comment on all of the links. I like to do a thing properly. After all, a linky party is all about showing off your stuff in a socially acceptable forum. And seeing all of your beautiful finishes is something that I really enjoy. But too much time has passed and I need to announce the winner.

Before I do that, I have an item of housekeeping. I cancelled the June Linky and mentioned that I may take the whole summer off. Obviously, the linky is on hold as I haven't opened a July post. At the moment, I haven't decided whether I'll be starting up again after the summer or not. But I absolutely reserve the rights to the name "A Stitch In Time" when I do start back up.

Thank you to everyone who has participated over the last 2½ years and thank you to the many who linked up in May. Without further ado, the winning number, drawn by LadyBug, is 10.

30's Playtime Charm Pack

Congratulations to
:partytime: Beth :partytime:

Beth will receive a 30' Playtime Charm Pack by Chloe's Closet for Moda from The Fat Quarter Shop, provided I haven't procrastinated too long and they are still in stock. Make sure you check out the adorable place mats she made for her mom. There were lots of other great finishes in May, too. Since I haven't been able to check them all out, how about if you tell me which, of those you visited, were your favorites?

Today's post brought to you by:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Earthly Father, Heavenly Father

Noble fatherhood gives us a glimpse of the divine. –James E. Faust

From my father I inherited blue eyes, artistic abilities and a keen mind.

From my husband, the father of my children, I have learned patience and grace.

From my Heavenly Father, I have been given faith, hope, strength and forgiveness.

In recognition of all the wonderful men who have shaped my life, my dad and my husband especially, and for all those men who give their all to influence and teach the children around them, to you I wish—
Happy Father's Day!


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Amelie Pattern Giveaway Winner, A Stitch in Time: June, and My Trip to Crazy Town

The human mind is not a terribly logical or consistent place. –Jim Butcher, Turn Coat

I usually reserve Sundays for posts of a more spiritual nature. Today, however, my back is up against a wall. I've yet to announce the winner of the promised giveaway and there should be some sort of linky party going on around here starting today. With my most humblest apologies for not being on top of everything like I always think I can, let's take care of some business.

First, I threw everyone's name who entered for the giveaway into a hat. OK, it was a dish, but you know what I mean. And Grasshopper pulled out the winner.

Congratulations to
:partytime: P. :partytime:

P., check your inbox :wink:.

Now, about the June Linky Party. I've debated back and forth and have decided that there will not be a linky party for June. I'm also considering taking the summer off. And maybe not ever starting back up again after that. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. I'm juggling a lot and while it is really hard to let go emotionally to the idea that I can do everything, it makes the most sense at the moment to let a few things go. The June Linky Party is one of those things.

You see, LadyBug and I are going to Girl's Camp for the week. It's this thing we do in our Church to torture the girls by making them survive out in the wilderness for five consecutive days without technology and also to make the leaders crazy getting ready for it. I happen to be on the Crazy Town Express at the moment. I still have packing to do, my gluten and dairy free food substitutions to prep and about fifty other things before my self-mandated 9:00 pm bedtime, because I have to be up at oh-five-hundred hours tomorrow morning. I'm pretty sure the No-Bake Dark Chocolate Granola Bites that I made a special trip to the Health Food Store to get Sunbutter for {like peanut butter, only made with sunflower seeds} because peanut butter and I don't get along, and then discovered I'd left my wallet and home and had to run home and back in order to make my purchase are not going to get made.

Our packing lists are about a mile long and we have to make everything fit into one bag. LadyBug and I just spent 25 minutes coercing foam pads into rolls so that we might have some hope of sleep this week. We're not really camping. We're sleeping in cabins and the cabins have bunk beds, but the bunk beds just have wooden bottoms — no mattresses. Hence the need for foam pads. We also have showers with hot running water if you're the first or second in line. And kitchens with fridges and electricity and everything. There's a canoe lake and a ropes course and hiking and the food is fantastic, from what I hear. So, it isn't really camping. But it isn't like home. And it is a lot of work to get ready for it. I'm not ready.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beef Stroganoff Can Be Gluten and Dairy Free and Still Taste Good

Cooking is not difficult. Everyone has taste, even if they don't realize it. Even if you're not a great chef, there's nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn't. –Gérard Depardieu

I fought it for a really long time. I did not want to give up gluten — in essence, my daily bread. I was tested for Celiac and it came back negative. I gave up dairy almost a year-and-a-half ago, which was really, really hard. It was hard enough eating diary free without adding gluten to the mix so I stubbornly stuck to my gluten-laden diet because I don't have Celiac disease. I was convinced that it wouldn't help. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was eating myself sick. Within 3 days of giving up gluten, I felt better than I had in months. It's been a little over two months now and I feel like a normal person again. I can't believe what a huge difference it has made.

Coming up with menus that aren't monotonous is difficult. And living dairy and gluten free limits what you can make but necessitates cooking almost every day. Very few restaurants cater to special diets. You can only eat so many salads with vinaigrette dressing without getting bored. And there are cross-contamination issues, as well, when eating out. This week, I felt like I was out of ideas, so I rummaged around on Pinterest and found a few things I'd pinned a while ago and decided to give them a try. First up, was the most amazing Black-Eyed Pea Curry from Mel over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Her recipes use mostly fresh ingredients, so it is easy to substitute if necessary. This curry called for half-and-half, but I used canned coconut milk instead, added cauliflower as suggested in her notes but not included in the recipe and omitted the cilantro because I'm not a big fan. After tasting it, I could see how the cilantro would have complimented the flavors, so if you like it, I'd say go for it. As it was, I thought it was heaven on a plate. We will definitely be having more curry around here in the future.

Mel also has this casserole {she calls it a hot dish} that I've been romancing for the past year or so. It is an upscale version of one of my favorite casseroles. Mine uses cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups and plain white rice, with a splash of soy sauce, some hamburger, onions and garlic and chow mein noodles on top. Hers uses butter, flour, milk and spices to flavor wild rice. The first time I made it, I used a wild rice blend, butter substitute and almond milk and halved the recipe but otherwise followed it exactly. The rice came out crunchy and under done, and it was all burned to the bottom of the pan. The second time I tried it, I made the same changes as before but I tried cooked the rice half-way by using only half the water and half the time, hoping that the time in the oven as part of the casserole would finish cooking it all the way. It was an epic fail. For some reason, it was too salty. Way too salty {operator error, I'm guessing} and the rice still wasn't done.

Several months ago, I gave it one more try. I still used half the amount of rice and still did a wild rice blend, but I cooked it all the way before putting it into the casserole. I also used the full amount for the sauce ingredients {subbing in dairy-free only; I was still in denial about being gluten intolerant} and added in a tablespoon of soy sauce. It was spot on. I was going to make this recipe last week, but I was still recovering from surgery, so it got bumped to this week's menu. As chance would have it, we had a leftover steak that Mr. Bug had grilled up for us on Friday night, so I decided to use it to make beef stroganoff night before last or as close to it as you can get without using dairy or gluten. I used the sauce recipe from Mel's casserole, modified slightly, and I thought it was pretty tasty. Without dairy, it isn't exact, but it is pretty darn close so I thought I'd share.

Beef Stroganoff
½ to 1 lb. beef (leftover roast beef, stew meat, steak – raw or left over), cut to bite size pieces
2 tablespoons butter substitute or olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
¼ cup corn starch
1½ cups beef broth
¾ cup rice milk (or 1 cup almond milk)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

8 oz. gluten-free pasta

• Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not drain until ready to serve.
• In a 10” skillet, brown the beef on medium high heat until juices caramelize on the bottom of the pan {works with both leftover and raw meat}. If your pan is non-stick, you don't need to add any oil, but if it is a regular pan, add a little olive oil to keep the meat from sticking. Transfer the meat to a plate and cover with foil.
• Return the skillet to the stove and add butter substitute or olive oil and melt over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms. Sprinkle the corn starch over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue stirring and cook the mixture for about 1 minute.
• Slowly whisk the broth and milk into the skillet. Add the salt, celery salt, onion salt, garlic salt and pepper and stir to combine.
• Return the meat, with any juices that might have accumulated, back to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes.
• Serve over hot pasta.
Serves 4

• I used Heartland Fusilli pasta. It was excellent. You can find it on the regular pasta aisle at Wal-Mart.
• Rice milk doesn’t thicken as much as almond milk, but I’m sensitive to almonds, so I use rice milk. Also, for some reason, sauces and gravies made with corn starch lose their “thickness” when you refrigerate them, so leftovers will have runny sauce, but it still tastes good.
• My favorite butter substitute is Earth Balance. They have the original in Wal-Mart, but I go to a health food store to find the kind made with olive oil because I like it better.
• The amount of meat doesn’t have to be exact. This is a great recipe to use up leftover roast or steak, but you can buy a steak or stew meat if you don’t have leftovers. Stew meat tends to be a little bit tougher, though.