Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Indiana on Ice

Or maybe it should be ice on Indiana?

So far we've still got power! Many, many folks aren't so lucky. We got about 5 or 6 inches of snow yesterday, then freezing rain overnight and then about 3 more inches of snow again this morning. When we opened the back door this morning it sounded like a gigantic bowl of Rice Krispies as the ice was snapping branches from the trees in the field behind the house. We have very few trees on our lot but we did lose a couple of small branches in a pine tree and the little oak tree is doing a side bend but still standing.

My exercise the past two days has consisted of shoveling the snow from the driveway and sidewalk, twice. Warning though, if you come see me there's still about 1/2" of ice that I wasn't able to break up. Nature's beauty though brutal for some, created some interesting design work on my shrubbery.

The winter storm has delayed the delivery of the new appliances. Hopefully they'll be able to get here by the end of the week. Stay tuned:)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Nothing Lost is Nothing Gained

Well, it's Loser Monday and I think the title of this post speaks for itself. But on a positive note, one pair of jeans seem a little looser and so do my exercise pants. Hope that's a good sign and not just my imagination.

So this week my goal is to keep better track of my ww points and keep up with the exercise. No more white bread types of food! The substitute instructor at the gym really stepped up the pace this morning - that's a good thing. But I'll be whining tomorrow!
Key Lime Pie - my dessert of choice this week. Start with a pre-made graham cracker crust. Take a small pkg. of sugar free lime jello and mix with one cup of boiling water. Let it thicken a little in the fridge. Add two lo-fat lime yogurts and about two cups of light cool whip. Pour into the crust and place in the refrigerator until firm. Use your imagination and you can make lots of different combinations. Lemon, raspberry or strawberry with fresh fruit is good too. Knock yourself out and enjoy!

Hope all the rest of you Blogging Losers had a good week.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Classroom in a Box

I've gone back to school - well, sort of. At least I've got a classroom in a book. The other night I downloaded the free 30 day trial of Photoshop Elements 7. It's going to to take me more than 30 days to comprehend all that's in this book. Wish me luck. Hopefully one day you'll see an impovement in the photos here! Though I probably need a photography book too! Thanks to those of you who offered helpful hints and comments on my BOM quilt that I've been trying to assemble. It was not near as difficult as I was trying to make it! Once I took the time to re-read the instructions and square up the blocks, it went together quite easily. I was careful with the bias edges and was able to keep the puckering to a minimum. This photo does not do the fabrics justice (working on that - see above!) but it still is not going to be my favorite quilt. The borders will go on next - you can see them in the bottom left corner. Maybe I'll change my mind once they go on.
Yesterday we spent some time at the area Boat and RV Show. We're still dreaming of just the right toy hauler motor home or 5th wheel travel trailer for the retirement years ahead. Even though that's a ways off, it's still fun to look. Let me tell you that if someone had the money and was looking for a nice 5th-wheel, this is the time to buy. Units that last year were listed at near $80 K are now available in the low 60's. The dealers are hurting and were definitely wanting to make some sales. There weren't as many companies at the show as there was last year though. Tough times for these businesses too.

There's a forecast for a snow "event" here tomorrow. And of course a prediction means that many of the schools are already saying they'll be closed. We've lived here for eight years and I still can't get over that! Delivery of my new appliances is scheduled for Tuesday so I hope those guys can brave the elements! I might need some education on cooking on the new gas range but that should be easier than Photoshop!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

New Things On the Blog

Look here! I finished a project yesterday! I hadn't plan to buy anything on my last visit to the quilt shop, but I saw the charm pack of Candy Kisses from Sandy Gervais so of course it came home with me along with some coordinating fat quarters. I kind of made up my own design, bravely did some free motion quilting and ended up with a nice little February table topper. Just don't look at the back - which of course I would never photograph anyway. I'm still having a little tension problem with the free motion stitches but I'm still practicing. Check out my side bar for a couple of new "buttons". Mrs. Goodneedle over at the Strawberry Patch is going to be hosting Lets' Talk every Tuesday. So next Tuesday, stop by and say hello and make a comment on the Tuesday topic. This week it was "how long have you been quilting and why do you continue?" She's provided a cute little strawberry so you can click on it to hop on over for a visit. Then I also signed up for the Siggy Swap that Connie and some other ladies are putting together. I think she still has room for a few more in the swap. We'll all be making blocks with our signature on them, sending to one location then we'll each receive 45-60 blocks, one from each participate. Of course there's a deadline to get them done, so hopefully I'll not procrastinate and be late!

Sorry I didn't get a recipe posted for you on Monday. Instead, here's a link to the Lentil Soup that I've been making lately. I use turkey sausage instead, trying to make it a little lighter. Some of you have commented on my cookie header. Those were made last year and are long gone! I guess I should find something else to put up there so not to tempt you with sugar cookies!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Loser Monday Update

Good Loser Monday Morning Everyone!

Just a quick post this morning before I'm off to my gym, Total Fitness. Two classes this morning, first is REP Rebok - which is with weights, kind of like Body Pump if you're familiar with that. Then Hi-Lo which is an aerobics class. Most of my classmates are women close to my age and we have a good time. Luckily our instructor doesn't mind the chatter and camaraderie!

I've been dreading today's post because I was afraid I wouldn't have any loss to post - but just got off the scale and I am down about .4 of a pound!

Overall, I think I did pretty good with the eating and definitely with the exercise. We even went out one night with folks from D's work at a wonderful restaurant, Napa River Grill (Sorry, no pics. I didn't want to embarrass my hubby!) and then again Friday night to the Irish Rover.

I was going to try to post a recipe every Monday, but I need to get going, so maybe later today!

Good Luck all you Losers out there!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Just Miscellaneous Stuff

It time to post something on here that is not about food! So here's a look a few things I've been working on.

It is so cold outside this morning, Beamer doesn't know how lucky he is to have a sunny spot to bathe! I watched Martha Stewart this morning and she had a lady on talking about different breeds of cats. She didn't mention Bengals, so here's the Bengal pic of the day! When we became emptynesters, Beamer became our "fur" child. I've always had cats, but this one has become more of a family member than any other. You'll notice he's picked a spot next to my knitting project. My knitting mentor/friend T started me on this small scarf before Thanksgiving and I haven't worked on it since before Christmas. In fact, I've ripped and re-started on it about six times! So when our little knitting group got together last week, I re-started yet again. I think I've got it under control now in fact so maybe, just maybe, I'll finally get this accomplished and will be able to move on to something else. I saw some cute knitted purse patterns that would be fun.

Now I need a little help from some of you quilty gals out there. I finished piecing all of the accumulated BOM's from last years series from Among Friends. Now I'm ready to put them all together. As you can see, they are supposed to go "on point" in strips that are then sewn together. I've never done a quilt like that before and I'm a little confused by the instructions. So any tips are appreciated. A trip over to the store will be made this weekend for the new BOM meeting, so maybe I can pick up some tips there too.

Another question for you all. Daughter B and I are considering the decor for their nursery. Her room is already painted a nice orange color, and since they don't plan on finding out the baby's gender, she's looking for not-gender specific fabrics for the crib set that we are considering making. She found this fabric at Free Spirit, from the Urban Flannel line by Valori Wells. It is adorable and just what she's looking for, but it is flannel. Has anyone make a crib set from flannel? I know a quilt would be feasible, but not sure about the bumper, etc.

One last thing before I go - I special birthday wish to this guy! Happy Birthday to our son-in-law and the soon to be daddy, N!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Loser Monday - Week One

Here it is Monday and this is posting day for the members of Sharon's Dieting Blogger Babes. Put me on the loss list this week Sharon! I'm down three (3) pounds! And hubby is down about six. This just doesn't seem fair because I'm the one who busted my buns at the gym and on the devil's elliptical machine last week. (Sorry - didn't mean to whine here. I'm breaking one of my own blog rules.)

I've debated whether to post a weight loss goal here as some others have. But I'm going to put my goal as just to stay healthy and feel better about myself and how I look. I've never been skinny and I know that is not who I am. At this point in my life (age!), I feel that it is unfair to put the expectations too high when I've found that it soooooo hard to lose weight. If we just change some of the unhealthy eating habits we developed, hopefully the results will just be an extra blessing. I've been counting points on Weight Watchers Online. Since I've had a membership there for quite awhile I decided I'd better make use of it.

I thought I'd try to post some kind of recipe here every Monday.

Nothing fancy but if you are really craving something sweet, try these Choco-Cherry Brownies.

They are very simple. Start with one box of brownie mix - the kind that makes a 9 x 9 pan. Mix the dry mix with 1 cup of light cherry pie filling, and bake at 350 for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I sprinkled a few chopped walnuts and about 2 tablespoons of mini chocolate chips on top. After putting the recipe through the WW recipe builder, it comes up to 3 WW points for a brownie about the size of the missing piece! Actually, I only ate about half of a piece each time as that was plenty, even for my sweet tooth!

We've also been making use of our new Panini press that we received for Christmas. (Thanks H family!) Mostly for grilled vegetables and chicken but I'm on the lookout for more options. So off to browse through some of the other dieting bloggers' blogs!


Edited after reading Sharon's latest challenge on Loser Monday. Okay - here it is. The one and only time. It is here at the bottom of this post so maybe a I've lost a lot of the readers by now! Sharon really knows how to crack the whip doesn't she!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Join the PIF !

I've been debating whether to join in, but took the plunge! I'm not sure who started this, and I apologize for not giving them proper credit, but there is a special "challenge" going around the crafty/quilter blogs that I read. It is called PIF or Pay It Forward and it is based upon the idea from the movie where you perform a good deed without anything expected in return except that the recipient do the same for someone else. But the twist of this one is that you send something handmade. Connie has an excellent explanation over on her blog so stop by there for complete instructions.
When I saw that Deb was looking for some one to join, I signed up! I can't wait to see what she makes as she is one talented girl! So now I am looking for the first three bloggers who comment on my blog that they would like to join in (you can comment without joining!). I will send you something handmade - within the next 6 months. I'm not sure what it will be yet but you must post the same on your blog and pass along the fun! Any questions?

D continues his passion for woodworking in his basement workshop. He is veneering the wood for the doors and it is quite an undertaking. I should go down and take a pic of him working in his pj's and setting up his veneer press. But I'm not sure how he'd feel about that! The reality of a new kitchen is setting in though. Yesterday we purchased two new appliances at Bargain Supply. They have some amazing deals on scratch and dent units from the manufacturer. I found the GE Cafe gas range and the GE french door fridge that we've been looking for and both have only slight cosmetic damage which will not show when placed in the cabinets. Yippee - mucho $$ saved!

You can't tell too much from this photo so this is the picture from GE's website.
I'm getting excited about these! Maybe I'll have to take up real cooking again. Oh wait - I have to cook healthy now don't I! Stop by tomorrow for my update on Sharon's Diet Challenge.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back to Work!

The Christmas decorations are all down and put away. So continuing on the cleaning binge I went downstairs to organize and straighten my sewing area(s) after the last minute gifty rush. But I got sidetracked. I discovered the unfinished 2008 BOM packets from Among Friends. And since I've already signed up for the 2009 series and the June through December were still in their little plastic packets. I decided to get busy and crank these out. I've not been sure if I like this colorway and all year I've been wishing I'd signed up for the brighter option. But it's growing on me and now I'm looking forward to getting the whole quilt put together. I've got the finishing kit so hope it goes together easily. This year I'm going to have my favorite machine quilter (Sandi) finish this up for me. Last year I had a different lady quilt my BOM quilt and I was very disappointed in her work. Not much I could do about it, but it seems such a shame to put so much time and effort into a quilt only to have an in-experienced LAQ mess it up. Lesson learned!

You might remember that we are supposed to be in the process of remodeling the kitchen. This project has definitely not been forgotten. Since the Harley is put away for the winter, D has turned back into the master woodworker! The day that we actually have to start ripping out the existing cabinets is still a ways off, but the new cabinets are stacking up in the basement. This is just a portion of them. All of the drawers are complete and now he's starting on the doors. Maybe this will be the year!

My first few days as a member of Sharon's Dieting Blogger Babes has gone well. I've been faithfully exercising every day. And we've been eating healthy this week too. Lentil soup, grilled chicken, vegetable soup (yes, we like soup!), baked sweet potato fries and even some broiled hamburgers, but all within my WW points. D says he's already lost several pounds. How do men do that?!!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Recipe on Loser Monday

As part of the Red Geranium Diet Challenge, we are encouraged to post on Mondays. Since you know you'll NOT be reading about the number on the scale, and there are already far too many photos of my chubby body on here, I've chosen to post a new healthy recipe.

It seems like every time I go to a book store I can manage to find new reading material. On my last visit to Borders, while suffering from the post holiday stuffed tummy syndrome, I found The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook. While I know we'll not be following Tosca Reno's plan completely, she does have a lot of ideas that should be helpful. We're trying to include more whole grains and vegetables and less processed foods in our meals. In her cookbook, I found a recipe for Carrot Bread. I made a few changes and baked it this afternoon.

Here's my version of the Clean Diet Carrot Bread

8 oz. shredded carrots
1/2 cup crushed unsweetened pineapple, drained (but save some of the juice)
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups cornmeal
pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup flax meal
1 Tbls. cinnamon
1 1/2 teas. baking powder
2 egg whites
1/4 cup egg substitute (Egg Beaters)
2 Tbls. Canola oil
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup skim milk (or low-fat soy milk)
1/4 cup pineapple juice (see above) or water from cooking the carrots
1/3 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375
2. In a small saucepan place carrots and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and let cool.
3. In mixing bowl, place dry ingredients.
4. In another bowl, whip egg whites until stiff.
5. In small bowl, mix egg beaters, oil, honey, milk and pineapple juice(or carrot water). Add to dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add whipped egg whites and fold until just combined. Add cranberries, carrots and pineapple; mix until just combined. Try not to over-mix.
6. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake at 375 for 60 minutes.

I entered this in the WW recipe builder and it came up being 2 points a slice - with about 18 slices per loaf. It is not a very sweet bread and has a similar texture as cornbread. But I thought it was pretty tasty. A little light cream cheese or apple butter might be a nice addition if you want. Let me know if you try this and if you like it. This was the first time I made this so you are part of the experiment too!

PS: D says it is better with butter smeared on it and B says, pick out the cranberries, then smear on the butter. No this is not as good as my banana bread, but then as D says, most everything that is good for you, doesn't taste as good. Oh well, I tried.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Here's the Proof!

A few posts back you may remember I was whining about all the secret projects that were in the works and I was struggling to finish in time for Christmas. To prove that I actually did accomplish some things, here's a few of them.

This quilt for one Texas niece was actually pieced several months ago and in the stack of goodies sent to my wonderful LAQ(long arm quilter for you non-quilters) Sandy. I used a jelly roll of Fresh Squeezed by Sandi Gervais plus some coordinates.

And here's the lovely niece with her present.

These were both pretty small - just more of a throw than anything. But still a quilt is a quilt! This is another completed from lovely Dandelion Girl fabric. Using a jelly roll of course. I do love those, they make picking the fabrics and cutting so much easier.

And another lovely niece with her gift. In the background are the official grandbaby quilt and grandbaby's newest quilt. I think this must have been the comfy corner of the couch!

And here's Grandbaby J's newest quilt. This one took a little more thought to put together but I loved it when completed. Puppy dog fabrics and some bright primary colors were used and the pattern I found in the Summer 08 issue of Quilts and More. I believe the designer was Jean Ann Wright but she used clown prints. I think the puppy dogs are much cuter!

Of course I was in the purse business again too. Both of these used the same fabrics (Cotton Blossom I think) but in different combinations. I've made several from this pattern, so it might be time to move on. Expand my repertoire I guess!

These little purse tissue holders were last minute gifts and I think I made about 13 or 14 of them. This one isn't even like the ones I gave away and I can't believe I didn't stop to take a photo of all of them stacked up. The one in the photo was made using pre-quilted fabric but the ones I gave away all were free-motion machine quilted by me! Yes, I've made some progress with free-motion and I was pretty pleased with myself, if I may say so! I found a wonderful tutorial here and I'm now ready to move on to some larger pieces. A goal for 2009 I guess!You may have noticed the Diet Challenge badge on the left. Sharon at Red Geranium Cottage is trying to motivate us all with a challenge to stay on track. D and I had already made the decision to eat healthier this year so maybe this will help. We have been married for thirty-four years, (today as a matter of fact!) so we need to work on eating better so we'll both be around in another thirty-four years! Anyone is welcome to join along in the fun that I'm sure Sharon will stir up. I'm going to try to post some recipes occasionally and check the other blogs for the same. I'm not so sure about the posting of starting weights and photos though! Wish us luck!

This is all for today. Time to get ready for nice dinner out to celebrate our anniversary. Oh yeah - the diet challenge starts tomorrow!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! This week of holidays has flown by and left me trying to play catch-up! We enjoyed our visit in Missouri with our grandson, all of our children, D's dad and step-mom, my sister, brother-in-law and nieces. Not very often do we get to see so many of our immediate family at Christmas so it was so great to get together. D's sister and her family were missed though -so here's the invitation for next year !

We extended our trip home to include a drive up to the Chicago suburbs to help daughter E with some home maintenance issues. Dad's talents were requested and since he had taken the rest of the week off to use up his vacation days, we were happy to comply.

Before Christmas, the snow had created havoc but made for beautiful wintry scenes. This is what we found when we arrived! At least we didn't have to battle bad roads or nasty weather.

In between the shopping and the maintenance, we had to eat, of course. So we visited some of the wonderful restaurants nearby. We don't often get good Greek food in our area so we went to Opa. It's fun to watch the waiters as they serve the fried cheese (I'm not sure what they really call it. Maybe someone can correct me on that!)

I should have just stopped with the Greek salad that we shared. I have photos of the next course and the mounds of food, but it's almost embarrassing. Maybe I should have taken a picture of the huge shopping bag full of leftovers!
Our last morning in Illinois, E took us out to eat breakfast at a new favorite. The Egg Harbor Cafe is a local chain and quite good. The whimsical decor was what else but chickens! Maybe I need to donate a few of the chicken decorations that I've got stashed away to them. Or maybe chicken decor is coming back and I'll just re-decorate. This was D's breakfast (and lunch!) which they had even named after him (not really, but maybe?)

Of course I visited some of my favorite quilt shops in the area. But I was sad to find out that Hannah's is no longer going to carry fabric and yarn. There were some good sales but in my opinion it won't be near as fun to visit this shop in the future. Shoo-Fly Quilts in Grayslake has now become Quilt Play Shop. I found some nice fabrics there and purchased some additions to my rapidly expanding baby quilt stash and also my collection of purse possibilities. We even saw something that would be appropriately fun for certain Texas/Oklahoma relatives! I think it is an Alexander Henry fabric but E got a pretty good photo on her phone to share with y'all!

We had a quiet but nice New Year's Eve with some friends and we did manage to stay up past midnight to welcome in 2009. I provided a coconut cream pie for our dinner just so I could use my new Emile Henry pie plate. It's deeper than my other pans so my pie filling was almost lost.

There's one piece left. Waiting in the fridge. It's the new year and you know what that means, the annual resolution to eat healthier. We've started off pretty good with oatmeal for breakfast, soup and a shared sandwich for lunch and fish tacos for dinner. After a trip to Whole Foods this afternoon, there's more healthy grains, fruits and veggies around. Now just to figure out how to use them in some tasty recipes and most of all - avoid that pie!

Tomorrow I have plans to start putting away all the Christmas decorations though doesn't it seem like I just got them out? Same with this blog - I think it's in need of some redecorating too. A new year needs a new look! I need to get some belated Christmas/New Years cards sent out too. It didn't seem like we got as many cards this year but there's still some relatives in need of an annual hello.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year! This has been an amazing year with the birth of our first grandbaby, the news of another one on the way and several motorcycle road trips that we've enjoyed. Thank you for stopping by this little blog and especially those of you who've taken the time to comment and become "bloggy" friends. I pray that 2009 will bring health and blessings to everyone!