January 31, 2009

chipping away at the "stash"

I guess I should inventory my extensive fabric stash more often.

Last weekend I completed 6 Valentine-themed aprons using only fabric I discovered I already owned.

Sorting through my 1 yard cuts (I always buy 1 yard of everything) I found several chicken fabrics...I didn't even know I liked chickens, but apparently I do! All of these came from my stash except the yellow....I bought that yesterday to complete the set.

Goal for this weekend
: 4 chicken aprons for the ETSY shop and 2 other small projects to tuck into a box of Avocados for my sister in Seattle.

The house is quiet (the family is away), I borrowed a "MAMMA MIA" DVD from oldest granddaughter after reading this on Kathi D.'s blog, and I'm settling down right now for an afternoon of sewing aprons and watching a happy movie....


January 30, 2009

25 Random Things

I've been tagged from several different directions to do a list of 25 random things about myself.

Even though I can't imagine why anyone would care about reading these things about me, I have to admit I really enjoy reading other people's lists.....

So...here goes the randomness:

1. I got married and had my 1st baby at 16.
2. I had my second baby at 18 (and 3rd at 23)
3. I became MIMI (grandma) at 37!
4. My first name is NICOLA and in 51 years, no one has ever gotten it right the first time.
5. I wish I could be a writer professionally....Pat Conroy and John Irving inspire me.
6. I could eat chips and salsa with a diet coke (lots of ice) every day.
7. I am a nightowl... I always think of one more thing, then one more thing to do before I can go to bed.
8. I own 5 pairs of Crocs (all different)...they're better than barefoot!
9. In my early 30's, I played so much Women's soccer that at one time I was playing 7 times a week on 4 different teams.
10.I have NEVER once in my life left my bed unmade.

11. I love cookbooks. I often read them from cover to cover, just like any other book.
12. I think I'm addicted to my Neti Pot (don't tell anyone...that's probably kind of weird)
13. I really enjoy doing laundry. The whole process...sorting, folding, organizing.
14. I like hanging laundry on a clothesline. I miss being able to do that.
15. Spiders and snakes don't bother me, but I'm TERRIFIED of grasshoppers!
16. I have been behind the same desk, in the same office, at the same avocado company for 24 years.
17. I am really good at looking in a refrigerator and making a decent meal out of whatever I find.
18. I am a list maker. Every day for all kinds of reasons. I once even made a list of lists!
19. I use Mentholatum for everything....chapped lips, cuts, burns, scrapes...my sons once said I'd probably put it on a bullet wound
20. I once almost, accidently, picked up a rattlesnake (long story...)
21. I have tasted alligator meat and kangaroo.
22. I love condiments of all kinds: hot sauce, dressings, salsas, whatever. My fridge is very often 50% full of condiments.
23. I am VERY afraid of heights.
24. In spite of #23, and the fact that I'm also afraid to fly, I'd go up with the BLUE ANGELS in a heatbeat!!(??)
25. I love pickled beets, lima beans, and brussel sprouts (separately, not together!) which most people can't stand.

There you go all you taggers...more than you could possibly care about!!

Now, how about you?? Go make your own list of 25 things about yourself and then leave me a comment so I can come read YOUR list!

January 26, 2009

The Sweet Hearts Collection

Mission accomplished!!

I got all six aprons finished by 11:00p.m. Sunday night....

Five for the ETSY shop (I'll be posting them on Wednesday)

and one for my partner in the Sugar & Spice Apron Swap. As soon as I finish a couple of other little projects to complete her package, I'll be mailing this one off to New York, along with some avocados.

Some of these have my new adjustable criss-cross straps that I "borrowed" from Lucy over at My Byrd House....Thanks for the idea Lucy!! This apron style is sooo comfortable....no neck strap, which can be bothersome. It also makes the apron more flattering to a fuller figure (trust me, I know...)

It sure feels great completing a goal you set for yourself, even something as small as completing 6 aprons in a weekend.

Starting with the small goals and working up to the bigger ones......that works for me!!

January 24, 2009

back in the saddle.....

I've been "itching 2 B stitching" this week but really needed to finish up a few other things before putting the "studio" back into operation this weekend. I want to put together a few Valentine aprons for the ETSY shop as my first back-to-work project. Last week on my Wonderful Wednesday, I decided to spend a few hours cutting fabric (my least favorite part of sewing!) so I'd be ready for a weekend of sewing. I'm also trying to use up as much of my fabric stash as possible and I thought I remembered having one yard of something with hearts on it, so it was a good opportunity to organize the "stash"........

Look what I found! All this was in my stash from last years after-Valentines-Day sale! Who knew?

I found a few other reds and pinks and even something to co-ordinate with each piece.

I got all six aprons cut out and ready to sew without leaving the house or spending more money!

GOAL FOR THE WEEKEND: complete all six aprons, one for a swap, 5 for the shop......

It sure feels great to be back in the saddle again!

January 18, 2009

decisions, decisions......

Last November, #4 granddaughter received a gift card to Wal-mart grom her Gram (great-grandmother) for her 5th birthday. We had forgotten about it until today! Of course I offered to take her.......

How would a 5 yr. old choose to spend $10.00......

How about shoes or a purse?....."No thank you! Where is the toy section please." (silly Mimi)

Hmmmmm.....maybe some craft supplies?
I might need a new doll......
maybe a new dress-up outfit......
1 hour and a hard decision later......TA! DA! Two sets of Polly Pockets!

January 16, 2009

out with the old, in with the new......

I'm having a clearance sale over at my ETSY shop !! Everything is marked down at least 20%. Aprons make great gifts for everyone....Dads & Moms, kids, Grandmas, teachers.....the perfect gift for those who already have everything. You can't have too many aprons!

My self-imposed sewing haitus is ending next week and I'm energized, recharged, and ready to sew some new spring and summer creations......come on over and see what's for sale and then check back again soon to see what's new.

I intend to make a serious dent in my fabric stash in the next few months!

January 15, 2009

Dinner for the Fam....

You know, I really think that this "Lean for Life" program is going to work for me this time, long term. Having Daughter to "share" the experience with is making a huge difference, since she is only 2 miles away instead of 400 like the last time. It's not like I haven't always known the right way to eat to keep my weight down, it's just that obviously I've chosen not to live that way...until now. I know that this is not a "diet", but a lifelong commitment to different eating habits. I've decided to quit being "afraid" of food right now and get back to doing what I love to do (cooking) while still staying faithful to my new (necessary) eating style......

There are 3 adults in my household who all cook. Whoever feels like cooking on any given day just does it. Today I felt like creating something that all of us could enjoy:

Crockpot French-Dip Sandwiches
4 lbs. beef (whatever cut is on sale. I used 2 pot-roasts)
1 med. onion
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
1 can beef broth
1 can Coke
Remove as much fat as possible from meat and brown really well on both sides
Place in crock pot and sprinkle with onion soup mix
Slice onion into rings and place on top
Pour beef broth over
Pour Coke slowly over the top
Cover tightly and cook on high 6 hours
Remove meat from broth and shred with 2 forks. Strain broth. Place meat on your favorite bread or rolls, top with provolone cheese and place under broiler just to melt cheese. Serve with cups of au-jus on the side for dipping.

Dinner for everyone else: served with oven-roasted potatoes...Looks Yummy!!

Dinner for me: pot roast, roasted broccoli, and a salad with tangerines and balsamic....

Delicious!! (and I barely missed the potatoes and bread...)

SEE!.....I absolutely can do this without giving up the cooking and creating in the kitchen that is so much a part of me.......

(and I promise this is the last 'diet" post for a while...really!)

January 12, 2009

some like it hot...and spicy!

Daughter had a houseguest last week from Central California, 400 miles away from here. She mentioned that she had heard good things about a spice store in Temecula, the next town over....WHAT? A SPICE STORE? IN TEMECULA? WHY DO WE NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?!

So, on my Wednesday off, Daughter and I found OLD TOWN SPICE MERCHANTS just 15 minutes away

This wonderful shop is owned by Anthony & Sue Del Bono. It's only been open a year but is doing quite well already. There are only five stores in the country: this one, one in Lake Havasu, AZ, and 3 in Michigan. if you live anywhere near one of these locations and you love to cook, please go there ASAP!

We were so excited the minute we walked in! The aroma is incredible and there are so many varieties of so many things! If you read my last post, you know how both of us are feeling these days about food and cooking as we are trying to lose quite a few pounds between us. The aromatherapy of this place left us feeling energized and excited about trying new flavors and new recipes within the structure of the "Lean for Life" program.


SPICE BLENDS for everything you can think of

nd even a whole section of SALTS & PEPPERS

We took home quite a few enticing flavors:

Vietnamese Cinnamon
Greek Oregano (instead of the ususal Mexican variety)
Green Chile Powder (I love green sauces on mexican food!)
Smoked Paprika
Feta Cheese powder
Balsamic Fish rub
Smoked Tomato seasoning
Autumn Spice blend

On the way home we both agreed that we needed to bring Oldest Son/Brother since he is quite an adventurous cook, even more than we are. Daughter said "Let's make it a Secret Outing!"

my kids grew up on "secret outings" in the 70's & 80's. My neighbor and I would gather all our kids together and announce a "secret outing" for the day. Then, no matter what our plan was or where we ended up, the excitment of not knowing ahead of time made it that much more fun. Whether it was the beach, a new park we'd never been to before, a children' musuem, or driving 30 minutes away to the only MacDonalds in the area with a playground (they were scarce in those days) the best part of these outings was the secret part.

When we told Son/Brother that we needed 1 hour of his time on Saturday for a "Secret Outing" he laughed (remember, he's 33 now) and started reminiscing about all the outings he remembered. He even admitted to me, after all these years, that some of those outings ended up being disappointing in the destination, but that the secretiveness of them saved the day!

He really enjoyed the shop, too, coming away with plenty of things for his next cooking adventure:

Indian Curry
White Peppercorns
Raspberry Chipotle blend
Morroccan Couscous

The green chile powder is delicious in scrambled eggs and the balsamic fish rub made great salmon patties! Tomorrow I'm making roasted tomato soup using the smoked tomato seasoning......


January 8, 2009

writers block or just carb-deprived??

I'm cranky and grouchy and in a bad mood! and it's giving me writers/bloggers block......I haven't been able to think of anything to blog about since I usually blog about things that give me pleasure or make me happy and there's been a shortage of that around here this week......
and it's all THIS womans fault!
Daughter and I were quite successful on this program 2 years ago, but we didn't follow through on the maintainence program and here we are, right back where we started. As someone who has had a lifelong battle with weight and have at times been a yo-yo dieter, I have tried many things, and this program seems to suit me. As with all successful "diets", it's basically low-fat, low-carb, and controlled portions, but it's designed in such a way that it fits my lifestyle......
ANYWAY....we started again on the 5th, and the first three days are protein only before you get into the regular routine. If any of you have ever tried cutting out carbs, especially if you're a carb addict like me, you know what I'm talking about!!#$%*!!#! Today I am adding other foods so I feel somewhat better, but WOW! is this depressing! But the weight has to come down (I'm having a few weight related health issues) so I just have to bite the bullet and get on with it.........
When so much of what I enjoy revolves around food and food related activities, it's not just about being hungry or carb-deprived! It's a big part of who I am! ...and since I temporarily packed away the sewing "studio", one of the other things I enjoy so much, I feel kind of lost this week. I've been really stressed out over sewing projects and deadlines the last few months so I needed a break, but maybe my timing is bad. The two things I enjoy the most on a daily basis and I've pretty much quit them both cold turkey on the same day! I don't know what to do with myself and I don't have anything to blog about! I've even been too cranky to enjoy the grandkids, so there went my third favorite thing........(Oh boy! Am I a whiny, basket case right now or what? cranky, cranky, cranky!)
With no sewing to get finished I figured I'd have plenty of time to work my way through a years worth of magazines that have been piling up in the corner. That should certainly keep me busy for a few weeks.......
but no! That's obviously not going to work....notice anything?

That's right.....ALL FOOD RELATED!! Can't stand to look at those right now (grouch, grouch, grouch!).........

Daughter and I are walking regularly together and I'm clearing away all the clutter from the treadmill this weekend, so I'm going to make it work this time even if it kills me!! (when actually it could kill me if I don't) And chasing the grandkids around the block on their new Christmas bikes is really good cardio. They're happy to "help" me with that any time I ask......

so... I know,I know.....no excuses this time. Maybe it's time I found a new hobby to keep me busy besides food activities AND I'm cutting short my month-long sewing hiatus. I think under the circumstances, a week has been a long enough break. While trying hard not to think about food, I've had some new, creative sewing projects forming in my head, especially several new aprons! I guess I shouldn't try to fight my creative apron urges (must...sew.....aprons...!)


(thanks for listening to my whiny, cranky, rant! What would I do without you? You're a good listener....)

January 1, 2009

shark tooth oranges?

Have you ever tasted a shark tooth orange?
I'll explain:
First of all, this movie was received in my household for Christmas. In one week's time it's been watched at least a dozen times already!!
Then, this morning I was cutting up oranges for breakfast like this:
and the grandkids said "Look! This orange looks like shark teeth!!"
Therefore, I present to you.....the Shark Tooth Orange!
I'm told it tastes much better this way......