Sep 30, 2015

Smalls SAL

It's been a few months since I checked in on the Smalls SAL.  Just in the nick of time, I finished the September Monthly SAL.

Stitched on 28ct Antique White Cashel Linen
Fibers: Carries Creations Limited Edition* & DMC
*Great Unknown - No Color Name

Also this month, I stitched up July and August.  Photos are in my previous blog post. 

Sep 28, 2015

Marvelous Monday Update 9/28/15

As most of you know, the past couple of years have been rough on me.  First, my Dad with his cancer and subsequent death.  Second, my Mom with pulmonary fibrosis and her death.  Then Celeste with her death.  With all this going on, it's no surprise that my health deteriorated as well.  Last year when I went for my wellness check up, my lab results weren't where my doctor would've liked to see them.  Especially with the history of heart disease and diabetes that runs rampant through my family.

A few months ago, I got a Fitbit to track my steps.  I also started logging my food and water intake as well.  So far, I've lost 11 lbs. and my lab numbers are back into the healthy range!  I practically did a Happy Dance off the examining table when the doctor told me this.

I've slacked off since starting the new job... only walked 10K steps three days in a week and a half.  Still getting used to my new schedule, I think.  I'd like to lose another 18 lbs.  Fitbit says I should be able to do it by Christmas.

Adult coloring books are all the rage right now.  Heather at Stitching Lotus is hosting a coloring giveaway.  Click on over and check it out if you're interested in coloring!

The fun thing about Palko's Monthly SAL is the stitcher can choose the colors for the design.  I had a "vision" for what I wanted to July to look like.  I wanted a red/white/blue variegated for the swirls with blue and red for the remainder of the design.  Albeit late, I finally had time to stitch up July.

Stitched on 28ct linen with
Weeks Dye Works Independence, 
DMC 326 and 930.

Being on a roll, I finished August too!

Fabric: 28ct Antique White Cashel Linen
Fibers: Carries Creations - Alex's Inspiration and DMC 550
(My July and August finishes are linked up to Stitchery Link Party.)

The Halloween mailart is winging its way to the recipient.  Hopefully by next week, I'll be able to reveal it in all its glory.  :)  Meanwhile, here's another snippet to continue the intrigue...

I have to say that I really do like the small town postmaster much better than the postal clerks in my own city.  The postmaster is friendly and patient with my mailart process -- gluing the stamps on, photographing it, etc.  And, the post office is not busy herding people through like cattle.

Until next time...

Sep 20, 2015

Food, Projects, and Toys

Tried some new recipes this weekend.  Turkey Kebobs from The Chew.  I don't have access to kabab masala, so I used a Syrian spice blend.  I substituted jalapeno peppers for the seranos so that the kebobs weren't quite so spicy.

From reading the reviews, the chutney is very spicy so I opted for a tzatziki sauce.  I'd never made it before... it was okay.  They kebobs are made from ground turkey and were good, but difficult to grill because meat mixture is soft.  It might work better in the oven as patties.  I also made zucchini noodles ("zoodles") with the Paderno Spiralizer.  The spiralizer is awesome!  For sauce to go over the zoodles, I made a creamy red pepper sauce.  I thought it turned out really good.

I've completed the first week at the new job.  There's a big learning curve for me since I'm not familiar with the industry, acronyms, etc.  On Friday, my project manager told me he thought my progress was good for the first week.  Yay!  At the end of this next week, I'll be driving to the suburbs of the windy city in order to do more training.

I finished my Halloween mailart which I'll be mailing out next Saturday, so no finished pics until after it reaches its destination.  However, I'm going to show a sneak peek:

I'll be starting the July Monthly SAL next.  Hope to have a finish to show in my next blog update.

I also did a DIY project this weekend.  I made myself a portable pressing (i.e. ironing) board for small projects such as quilt squares, smalls, etc.

While it's not as light as an Omnigrid Foldaway Cutting Station or a Tailor Cut-N-Press, it was a lot less expensive and I could have it in a size I wanted.  I made mine 17x19".  I still need to add a handle to one of the edges for easier movement and/or transport.

Now, rather than getting out my ironing board each time I need to press small seams, I can just get out the pressing board.  I used it while assembling the mailart and it worked really well.

JoAnn Fabrics had a sale going on this weekend as well as several great coupons.  I intended to use the 60% off coupon (good on any regular priced item, lots exclusions apply) on the fabric cover for my pressing board since it wasn't on sale.  While at JoAnn Fabrics, a new toy made it's way into my cart:  Petite Press Portable Iron.  Since coupons say irons are excluded, I was pleasantly surprised when the coupon was applied to the Petite Press.  Normally $39.99, I ended up paying $16.32 with tax!  That's better than the online sale going on right now which would be $28+ with shipping and tax.  Had I known, I would've had the BF pay for the fabric and had him use another coupon, LOL.

Granted the Petite Press does not perform like my Shark Iron, the portable iron does well getting fold marks out of my fat quarters and aida as well as pressing seams.  It offers ironing control in small areas where my Shark is more cumbersome -- like around the decorative buttons on my mailart.

The iron's pressing surface is small (1" x 2 1/4") so it can't be expected do large projects.  Nor does it have a steam option.  Overall, the iron is lightweight and measures 8x2-1/2x2in.

It's UL approved and has a digital control with four heat settings.  The Petite Press heats up within a few minutes and beeps to tell when it's ready to use.  There is no auto shut off which means it holds the temperature setting:  1- approx 176-248F, 2- approx 230-302F, 3- 284-356F, 4-338-410F (according to the product guide).  One review I read said the iron doesn't get any hotter than a mug warmer.  Ask me how I know this is not true.  The iron gets VERY hot!

The iron head is adjustable to four different positions and the handle is made for ergonomic comfort. There's also a flip down stand to rest the hot iron when not in use.  

In conclusion, I'm happy with it.  It works well for its intended use.

Not too long ago, it was my youngest niece's birthday.  She love-love-loves Barbie!  I got her Barbie Fashion Design Maker.  Basically, it's a 3-D version of paper dolls.

It comes with a full size Barbie and eight sheets of "clothing paper."  The girl (with the assistance of an adult) logs onto the Barbie fashion designer website and chooses various options to create outfits to be printed out.  My niece had fun picking what her Barbie clothes would look like.  She even had fun putting the paper in the printer, LOL.  Once printed, the fabric pieces are peeled off the sheet and stuck onto the doll.  Just like paper dolls, the pieces can be taken off and be re-used.

That's all for this week.
Until next time...

Sep 11, 2015

A Memorial - For A Nation, For A Family

Today holds a huge significance for Americans. It was 14 years ago today, we all watched with horror as terrorists attacked our great country. Anger, disgust, and then resolve followed as the U.S. healed from the travesty thrust upon us. As the aftermath unfolded, a letter I had written to the editor was published in the local paper.

(Click to enlarge.)

Today also holds a sorrow closer to home. It was one year ago that my family lost my Mom... two days shy of two months after my Dad lost his battle with cancer. My solace is knowing that in her last weeks, she felt relief and happiness that her kids took care of her at the end of her life. I woke up today with tears in my eyes and hurt in my heart.

Sep 1, 2015

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Chicken


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
4 (4oz) boneless skinless chicken breast halves***
6 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp. honey

Combine first three ingredients*; sprinkle over both sides of chicken.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken; cook 4-6 minutes on each side, or until chicken is done.  Do not overcook, otherwise chicken breast will be dry and not juicy.  Transfer chicken to platter; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add vinegar and honey to pan**.  Simmer 1-3 minutes until glaze thickens; stir constantly.  Glaze will thicken more once cooled.  Add chicken to pan and stir to coat.

Excellent served over rice and drizzled with glaze.

*There is really no need to measure and combine spices.  Just sprinkle on both sides of chicken.  Alternatives:  Garlic powder, Italian spices.

**Add a pinch of red pepper flakes to glaze for a bit of a bite.

***I cut my chicken into one inch strips and then cooked them.