Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm Quilting for Good Health

Why quilting improves your health in ways even exercise can't manage


I love this article from the Daily Mail about the health benefits of quilting....it would probably be even better if I did not occasionally snack on m&m's or jelly beans as I stitch!

I learned another new sewing skill last week, which makes me feel great. I learned to make a double stitched hem (on the regular machine, the Bernina, not the serger for a change!) A double stitch hem makes garments look more polished and professionally finished.

I also finally submitted a couple of pieces of writing I had delayed finishing (one sat in a file for much longer than the other.) It feels great just to have finished them. Why did I wait for so long? Why am I suddenly feeling so brave? When I figure it out, I will let you know. Is it the daily vitamins I started taking, or drinking more water? Or is it just the Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups that call my name after lunch? Sweet mysteries of life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Some New Recipes

I recently (this week) tried these 3 recipes and liked them all.

First a delicious Banana Nutella Bread. Not too sweet, and I made this as muffins. It made 24 with a little batter left over (enough for about 1 more muffin). I baked these for about 25 minutes, I think.
Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
I did not take a photo.

Next, some gluten free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. This is my first experience with GF baking, and I used Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour (purchased at Whole Foods) and Trader Joe's gluten free oats. Cup 4 Cup does contain Xanthan gum, so no need to add it separately.

These are delicious, gluten free or not! The only change I made was to grind the oatmeal in my food processor, as I do for my conventional oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Here is a picture of my cookies. Recipe link is below the picture.

Finally, I get a CSA box delivered to my home every Thursday by  Good Life Organics. I also get a weekly email from them with details about the contents of that week's box as well as recipes and storage tips. Lately, a bunch of kale is included in the box almost every week, so I am always looking for interesting ways to use it.

I have made delicious Kale Pesto several times using this recipe.

This week's email included a recipe for a delicious kale salad. I made it last night, and will be adding it to my file of kale recipes-yum! I left out the raisins, but will add them next time. Dried cranberries might be good, too. Here is a photo of my salad, and the recipe is below. Happy cooking and baking!

Melt in Your Mouth Kale Salad with Pine nuts
Once you try this, you will be hooked! If your family members aren't huge kale fans, this salad might convert them, and you can also lighten this up a bit by adding an equal part of chopped butter lettuce to the minced kale.
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • ⅓ cup currants (or chopped raisins)
  • juice of one lemon 
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp grated raw parmesan cheese
  1. In a food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces (or you can do this by hand with a chef's knife!) 
  2. To make dressing, stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped kale, currants, pine nuts and parmesan to bowl with dressing
  4. Stir all ingredients together and serve
  5. (Optional - Save some pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese for top of salad before serving for presentation purposes)
  6. Recipe and photo from foodbabe.com. Thank you Laura for sharing! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Well, it is official. I am obsessed with a sewing machine. And not just any straight stitch machine, or even a fancy embroidery machine. No, it's the one pictured below.

I bought this machine over two years ago and have barely touched it until now. I was scared, and I had never had a serger before, and learning to use it seemed quite daunting. Last year I signed up for a class on Craftsy to learn to use it. Last month I finally got brave enough to try. And now I almost can't stop.

This boxy zippered pouch was the first project I tried as part of the online Craftsy class. After learning to thread the machine and adjust the tension using different colors of thread, I was excited to sew an actual THING instead of practicing on scraps. I love the way it turned out, and it was FAST! No pressing seams open, since the seams are covered. 

I signed up for a Craftsy class to learn to use my machine and it was a huge help. I would recommend “Beginner Serging” with Amy Alan to any of you who are new to serging. Threading the machine with 4 different colors of thread was well worth the time I spent on it and really helped me understand how my serger works.

I was ready to move on to something I could actually wear....

This is the Hemlock Tee, by Grainline Studios. The pattern is one size and is available free online (link) and I used a piece of knit fabric I bought for $2.00/yard at the FIDM Scholarship store. I did it! I even added cuffs because I thought the sleeves were too short! I promptly cut out and made a second one, using other bargain bin fabric I had in my stash....

Next I decided that I felt confident enough to try my hand at some PJ pants for Jenna. I made my own pattern based on some online instructions, by tracing a pair of PJ pants that I knew fit her. I used another piece of long stored fabric that I had bought super cheap, and just went for it. Et voila!....

And they fit! I am planning another pair, with a few minor adjustments to my pattern.

Finally, my latest Hemlock Tee, made yesterday afternoon. This is a rib knit fabric, so I thought it might be a little more difficult to work with, but this tee came together so quickly and easily that I just want to make one every day.

This much fun should be illegal.