Sunday, July 31, 2011

Small Quilt Retreat

Here's something for you to think about - What could be more fun than spending a weekend in October at a rustic retreat in Wisconsin, sewing with me and lots of other lovers of doll quilts??

Sound like a good time? If we get enough people to sign up, I'm hosting a Fall retreat in Elkhorn, Wisconsin.  Join me on October 7 - 9, 2011 to celebrate our collective joy of making small quilts.

Total Retreat cost: $180.00. E-mail me at to sign up or get more details. Package includes lodging for 2 nights, meals (Friday dinner through Sunday breakfast) plus a Saturday workshop to make one of my small quilts with an antique touch (a new quilt that isn't in one of my books). I'm also hoping we can have a little fabric or block swap on Friday night, Show & Tell and I'll do a trunk show of some of MY quilts as well. Space is limited so don't hesitate for too long. We're bound to have a good time and, oh yeah, get some sewing done too!

"Oh Maude, did you hear?? A Doll Quilt Retreat!"
"Yes, Agnes, with Kathy Tracy! We definitely should go - I hear it will be the most delightful event of the year! I'll bring cookies and fudge!"

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Another Hole in My Head

I need new fabric like I need a hole in the head - and I say that every time I go into a shop. It's been a while since I've shopped for fabric because, as you know, I've been taking a little break here. But, I finished the blocks for my daughter's college quilt and needed to get the sashing fabric.  What's wrong with doing a little shopping for myself while I was there, huh?

I don't need ANYTHING really but I couldn't resist a couple of new pieces (!) just to get me dreaming about the little quilts I'm going to make SOMEDAY . . . I have a few in mind, just still working on the time thing.

It's raining here this morning and I didn't want to get myself or the fabric wet by taking it out in the garden - my favorite spot for taking photos lately.

I had some of this lovely Moda print (in middle) a few years ago and I was excited to find more! How about that? I love stumbling upon older fabrics I've used before.

I'll get the sashing  done on the college quilt and then if the Princess (no, not the little dog, Princess Lia) -

- the OTHER princess, the Princess Who Wants A Quilt, will spend the time to go fabric shopping with me someday, we'll decide on the border.

She's always been a Pink Girl at heart and wants a brown/pink print for the border. I'm trying to talk her into this one from Jo Morton's Spice Chest line. She's not sure and wants to look around a bit.

It's getting close to finishing time and I don't want to take a chance and surprise her with my choice just to get it done because she's very particular, and if she doesn't like it, well . . . let's just say I'd be upset. Might even put another hole in my head.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Civil War Days

Yesterday, we went to a Civil War Days event held at a local history center. Those of you  who are at all interested in this sort of thing should try to attend one someday - it was kind of fun (despite the heat).

"President Lincoln" recited the Gettysburg address.

The dining room of a  restored 1860s-era house.

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

The "Battle"

It was a lot of fun to see the costumes and all - these people take this VERY seriously and try to be very accurate about everything.

(Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chocolate Emergency

Last night we had a chocolate emergency at our house. No, the dogs did not get into any, thank goodness, although one time years ago one of our large dogs ate a whole box of Frango mints that was wrapped up under the Christmas tree while we were out. How stupid of me - he was okay but I never did that again. 

You may remember that I have been trying so hard to eat healthy and for the most part that's working. I don't keep ice cream, candy, cookies or cake around unless it's for a special occasion. I just do not have that much will power. I rely on diet chocolate pudding made with skim milk, a tiny handful of chocolate chips or flavored yogurt if I need something sweet. WELL, until yesterday, that is. I discovered a box of Fudge Brownie mix in the pantry as I was rummaging for even just a few chocolate chips left over from the last time my daughter baked cookies for her brother. I was desperate and my chocolate craving would not go away. (FYI - A nutritionist who once worked with me told me that the chocolate craving is related to a magnesium deficiency.)

Aha, I remembered from my old Weight Watcher days that you can make some not-bad brownies from a mix without using the eggs or oil  - replacing them with a container of lowfat vanilla yogurt instead. What luck! I had the lowfat vanilla yogurt in the frig!

I haven't made this recipe for quite awhile. They're not the same consistency as real homemade brownies but they'll do in a pinch. The fun part? You can scrape the bowl and lick the spoon since there are no EGGS in it!

Everyone knows I love plates and bowls and this set of  cute little dessert plates was a gift for my birthday last year.

I treated myself with a pretty plate and some delicioous brownies I did not feel too guilty about. Couldn't stop at one. Low-fat brownies just hit the spot sometimes whether you're having a chocolate emergency or not. You might want to try these someday if the craving calls.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

More Quilts in the Garden

It's incredibly hot here in the Chicago area. We lost our internet, phone and cable TV service for a few hours yesterday. I was so worried that the power would go out too and that the heat would be unbearable. I  told my husband if that happens I swear I will go to a hotel - I just cannot take the heat. And I'd bring my dogs with me.

Despite the steamy weather, I went outside this morning for a few minutes to hang some more quilts and take pictures. I always say that the photos in the books do not do my quilts justice. They are so much prettier than they appear in the flat shots. Take a look.

I love this quilt. It's called Crosses Mourning Quilt and is from my second book, Prairie Children and Their Quilts. There's a great story in the book relating to an entry from a young woman's diary that inspired me to make it. Etty Scott wrote about the death of her mother from Cholera on the trail West. They had to leave her and move on but they buried her amidst the hills and "heaped her grave with roses."

Time to get out those books again and make a few of these quilts, huh?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Getting Healthy

It's so hard, isn't it? I feel like I've been at a particular disadvantage recently. I've always been interested in nutrition and I usually eat well and make healthy meals but  - here's the thing: I eat too much and I haven't been able to exercise as much as I'd like to. I lost a lot of muscle being in the hospital and after surgery and resting. My knee has been acting up to the point where it became too painful to walk  far and so I went to the Dr and had that taken care of yesterday. Now I need to do some strengthening exercises and take the getting-back-into-shape ordeal a little more slowly. Otherwise, if I overdo it, I am just going back to square one. Big sigh. I just can't seem to get it all together but I'm trying.

I've also been trying to eat a little lighter. It helps that it's warm outside. My husband and I both try to limit our red meat consumption but he likes fish as a replacement and I don't. I prefer chicken or vegetarian meals but that often means pasta or rice which I  should probably avoid more. Which is worse - red meat or too much pasta?? You know what I mean.  I am always cooking vegetarian meals for my daughter anyway so it isn't too hard to make more for me. But two nights ago I made Turkey burgers and created a great recipe you will love. My daughter had a veggie burger instead but I am not fond of those. I've actually never been fond of frozen turkey burgers either  - they always seemed really blah to me. But, using fresh ground turkey instead of frozen turkey patties, and with a couple of small additions and a little work, these were great. Try it!

Teriyaki Turkey Burgers with Vegetables

     1 lb ground turkey
1 egg
dash of salt and/or pepper
1/2 zucchini, grated
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup bread crumbs (or oat bran!)
2  T olive oil
4  T milk
2 T  Teriyaki sauce for mix
2 MORE T of Teriyaki sauce for glaze

1.   Saute zucchini, onion and carrot in oil until soft.
2.   Mix turkey, egg, seasonings, bread crumbs and milk.
3.   Add sauteed vegetables to the turkey mixture.
4.   Add the 2 T of teriyaki sauce and mix well. Form into patties.

Dab a little of the extra teriyaki sauce on top of the patties before cooking. You can bake these on a baking tray in the oven (at 400 degrees I'd guess?), cook in a non-stick skillet or grill them. Grilling is my favorite. Remember to flip them so they get browned on both sides. If you bake in oven, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, it's poultry so be careful. My son also likes these made with barbeque sauce substituted for the teriyaki sauce.

What's that side you see here that goes along so well with turkey burgers on the grill in summer? My special healthy Spinach and Orzo salad, of course! (Everybody needs some carbs . . . ) Add some fresh strawberries and you've got a complete light healthy meal. You have to admit the burgers and salad look so nice on my new dishes too.

I'm still working on portion control, even if this plate looks pretty full, LOL. I have a wonderful appetite, especially if the food is good and I am a good cook if I say so myself. I now try to drink a full glass of water before I eat, while I'm cooking, and I also started adding a cup of decaf coffee after my dinner for an extra fill-me-up in case I'm still hungry. I'm always hungry lately.

Here's the Spinach Orzo salad recipe:

Spinach Orzo Salad

1/2  pkg of Orzo pasta, cooked
3/4  bag of fresh baby spinach leaves
baby tomatoes, sliced
3 T Olive oil
2 T Balsamic vinegar (or Red wine vinegar
or even Light vinagrette salad dressing)
A dash of garlic powder
salt, pepper to taste

1.   Cook the pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
2.   Chop the spinach into small pieces, removing stems.
3.   Slice the baby tomatoes.
4.   Place the spinach, pasta and tomatoes into a salad serving bowl. Mix the oil, vinegar (or dressing) and other spices in a separate bowl. Toss the salad with the dressing and serve.

You can also add black olives or Parmesan cheese on top (only one person in my family will eat it that way so I leave it plain). All we had in the house was this Sweet Light Raspberry vinagrette dressing so I added more vingear for a zing.  Lately, my favorite dressing is Paul Newman's Light Balsamic Vinagrette and this is what I usually use if I do not have any good vinegar. I've also been known to substitute chopped red pepper if I do not have tomatoes, which works well too. I love red peppers.

This is a good start for me and hopefully soon I'll be walking a little more now that my knee is slowly healing. If I can learn to push myself away from the table, that is. Sigh. I think I need a personal trainer.