Tuesday, February 25, 2014

freezer meal swap

A few weeks ago a handful of my neighborhood lady friends and I got together for a freezer meal swap.  We each picked a recipe, made 6 of that recipe, then got together and traded everyone for a meal.  So we all ended up with 6 different freezer meals.  We had done this a few years ago and it was great, so it was time to try it again.  We ate a pan of manicotti made for one of the dinners the other night.  It was wonderful.

The recipe I used is from Kelly at NewLeaf Wellness from this site.  I made Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour BBQ Chicken for everyone.  I actually haven't tried it yet, hope its not too HOT! I made a few extra meals because I have quite a few friends expecting babies in the next few months.

Kelsey, as usual, was my helper.  She mixed all the sauce for me.  What a mess my kitchen was, and what a great time we had.

Monday, February 24, 2014

my civil war signature quilt

Anyone who knows me or reads about me, knows that I have a hard time finishing my quilting projects.  I really do.  I have a great idea, I LOVE to cut fabric, I love to sew it up, but usually I am just a border short of complete, and then I lose interest.  Well, I never lost interest with this quilt, it really just took me awhile to get the top completed. 

So, this one is FINISHED, excepting a few more signatures from my friends.  Not just any friends, my civil war reenacting friends.

I found the interior print of Grant and Lee at a wonderful quilt shop called Elaine's Quilt Block in Salt Lake City in the clearance fabric bin in the basement.  I bought two of the panels.  Two?  Why did I only buy two?  Who knows!  I held onto it for awhile and then decided to make a signature medallion style quilt with it in the center. 

So a few years ago I got busy making 5 inch square in a square signature blocks.  I took them along with me to various meetings and events that our civil war group was involved in, and had my friends sign them.  I am still missing a good handful of my Utah civil war friends, but I will catch up with them soon.

Well, a few days ago I put the final border on this baby and I am saying it is finished.  Its around 50 inches by 65 inches.  All the blocks are not signed yet.  I still have those Utah friends I have known for years that need to sign it, and then I made some wonderful Idaho friends last year.  Some of them have signed it, but not as many as I would like.  I am headed to Idaho for an event in two months and I can't wait to get a few more from those great folks.

I am a pretty sentimental person, and I love meeting people and making friends.  I think this quilt right here is going to be one of my favorite quilts I have ever made.  Just for the sake of all the memories that flow through my mind when I read the names of my friends that enjoy the mid 1860s with me.  Such wonderful times like singing songs around a fire, laughing over me falling down during the Virginia Reel, lacing up corsets and giggling over split drawers, eating cornbread and watching the guys roll cartridges, laughing in my tent with a lantern, cheesecake, and a mandolin, watching my kids jump rope and play with their cloth dolls and wooden swords, getting my hair done up into a bun just as the public arrive, and just spending great times with my favorite friends. Yep, a favorite quilt for sure.

Signature or memory quilts were very popular during the mid 1800s.  With many people headed west, going to war, or getting married and moving away, signature quilt blocks were made by loved ones and sent with those leaving as a sweet memento of friendship and kinship.  Unlike today with the ease of traveling, many times those farewells were final.  It was a wonderful way to remember those close to you and those you loved while you were away.  The reasons still apply today.  I want to remember these friends I have made, to have a little piece of them, and something to trigger beautiful memories.

Now, to get it off to the quilter.  Oh, and I gave that other Grant and Lee panel to a sweet lady last year who fell in love with it at an Elizabeth Stewart Clark sewing conference we were attending.  Her name was Luann.  Hopefully I see her again too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

the canal

There is a settling pond and canal up above my parents house.  Last Spring Break I blogged about it here.  I think its so funny that my kids love to go there all the time now.
 When we were there last spring, I showed them the culvert that connects the pond to the canal.  I told them I used to play in it, scooting back and forth between the pond and the canal all spring, until the water came.  They would not enter last year, no way!

Giving them a year to think about it must have made them brave.  And I know they had thought about it because Kendal asked me many questions about it over the past year. 
Last spring I told them about the perfect boot print I found in that culvert when I was little and pretty much decided Leprechauns were real and there were some that lived in the foothills above my house.
Kendal still talks about that little boot print.  It must be like magic to her too.
Before I knew it, Kendal, Emmitt, and my nephew Brogan were through the culvert and ready to find some little people.

We didn't find any, but we went on an adventure walk down the dry canal bed.


Well, mostly dry.  We ran into a few muddy spots. 
But we just kept walking down the canal.  I would tell them things like "this was the best tubing spot" and "my brother and his friends had the best hut right up there" and "we used to have a rope swing right here over the canal."  It was truly a walk down memory lane.

It was sort of a windy day, so being down in the canal kept us out of the wind. 
They could get muddy, throw rocks, get sticks, yell and holler, and have a great time.  You know, just be a kid.

Spending the long President's Day Weekend at my parents' home with cousins was a highlight to this dreary February for my sweet things. 
Spending the long President's Day Weekend at my parents' home with my kids, niece, nephews, and my incredible parents was also a wonderful highlight to my entire winter.
I love that place.
I guess that is why its called HOME.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

sewing ADD

Last Thursday was quilt guild.  So Thursday morning I dug through my sewing UFO (UnFinished Objects) armoire in search of a 12 to 15 inch block I could use for the Round Robin exchange.  I didn't think I had time to make a block, so I was searching for an old block from something else I could use.  I found these blocks, the pattern, and some fabric scraps in my search.

In about 2007 or 2008 my friend Jen and I did a friendship block exchange and asked Natalia, a new gal to the quilt guild, to join us.  Natalia is now super famous, has a few published quilting books, is a paid presenter, and just totally rocks the quilting world.  Anyway, we all made blocks, exchanged them, and here they are, on my bed.

So I decided to start sewing, just to put a few of the blocks together.  You know, just to see how it would look.  A few hours later, I had it sewn together.  Funny, I think I totally have a sewing/quilting form of ADD.  I was looking for one simple block but ended up sewing a small quilt top together.  Figures.  Well, now I am going to slap a few borders on this sweet thing and complete a project! 

This here is the block I found in the search that I decided to use for the center block of my Round Robin this year.  Ladies from the guild will add borders to it throughout the next few months, then I will share how it turned out.  Now, to the sewing room. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

my sweet girl

This pretty gal turns 12 years old next week.
Wow, 12 years ago I become a mother.  I remember being so overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness and 127 other emotions when I held my new baby girl, that I actually tried not to think of how incredible motherhood was, because tears would stream down my face.  I tried not to think about how wonderful this new little life in my arms was, because there was just so much emotion.

The past twelve years have been nothing short of incredible.
Kelsey is such a great girl.  She is the most creative person I know, truly.  Even though she is only 12.  There are great things in this girls' future thanks to her creativity.
She is so smart.  She gets to participate in the Gifted and Talented programs at school where she excels.  The homework load would have burdened me, but its no big deal to her.
She is very aware of other's feelings.
She tries hard to include everyone, doesn't like it when others are sad or upset, and has left me MANY sweet notes and cards of love and encouragement.
She is a wonderful big sister and so responsible.
I can trust her with anything, honestly.

Kelsey helps me in so many ways.
Not sure what I would do without this girl.
Her siblings look up to her so much.  They love it when she comes up with an activity or game to play with them.  She makes them feel so special and loved.
Happy Birthday to my Kelsey Dawn.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

mini Stars and Bars quilts

For our Inaugural Dinner last month, I made these two Stars and Bars mini quilts to be signed as a token of our appreciation for our outgoing commanding officers.

I think they turned out pretty well.  As far as quilted fabric goes, and considering they aren't even a useful size, the guys seemed to like them.  I think mostly because they are both Rebels at heart.

Kris and Caleb did a great job leading our Fort Douglas Museum Living History Detachment.  We had a pretty great 2013 year.

Everyone that was at the dinner in January signed the mini quilts.  There were many members of our crew that were missing, but hopefully they can catch up and sign them some time.

We enjoyed a delicious potluck dinner and of course the crazy company.  We elected new officers for 2014 and we look forward to another great year playing in the 1860s. 

Oh, and I even got to share a birthday cake with General Robert E Lee, what an honor! 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

My LARABAR adventure

I saw a link on Facebook for a make your own  LÄRABAR® recipe that can be found HERE.

If you are new to the LÄRABAR® world , don't feel totally lost.  I didn't know what they were until Christmas when I received 10 of these beloved things! (thank you Crossfit Vapor Christmas party!)

 LÄRABAR® is a delicious blend of unsweetened fruits, nuts and spices. Made from whole food, each flavor contains no more than nine ingredients. Pure and simple, just as nature intended.

That came straight from their website.  Most of the bars contain only three ingredients - dates, some kind of nut, and then some sort of dried fruit.  That is why I wanted to try making them, just to see if I could make something delicious, and to see if I could save me some cash because they are not always on sale at Smiths!

So I read the recipe and bought dates, apricots, and hazelnuts.  I love hazelnuts.  They remind me of when I lived in Oregon and would eat them by the large paper bag full!

I roasted the hazelnuts in the oven like the recipe said, to give them that yummy NUTTY flavor.  Then put a cup and a half of each ingredient into my little chopper and went to it.  I lacked the full 1 and 1/2 cups of apricots by just a smidge, so I threw in some craisens to fill it the rest of the way up.

I must say they turned out delicious.  The bar on the right is that batch and they are long gone.  SO SO good.  I made a second batch with dates, almonds, and dried blueberries.  MMMMM.  Very good as well, but my little chopper started smoking.  Yep, smoke was floating up from the poor little thing, so that batch didn't get processed enough to make it the right consistency to mush into bars.  That batch was spooned into little serving size bowls.  That combination was delicious though!  When my husband saw the 8 little bowls, he asked me why I had bird food in the fridge. 

I bought a new food processor this afternoon and made a new batch.  This one is dates, apricots, and cashews.  I roasted the cashews in the oven again this time.  My new processor worked beautifully!  This batch was easily smooshed and smoothed into this 9 x 13 pan lined with wax paper.  I haven't tasted this batch yet.  I need to go cut them up and package them in wax paper. 

So, I must report on the homemade  LÄRABAR® experience. 
  • easier than I expected
  • actually cheaper, since the real ones are $1 on sale and $1.79 not on sale
  • I have spent between $10 and $12 per batch and I get the equivalent of about 16 bars
  • delicious
  • and the REASON I am eating nutty fruity healthy bars?  Because I am trying to by nutty, fruity, and healthy!  Just kidding.  Because I have realized I eat WAY too many easy carbs. WAY TOO many.  My pantry shows that my go-to snacks in the past have been crackers, crackers, cookies, more crackers, rice cakes, granola bars, and more crackers.  My cupboards and fridge show me that I eat too much bread, tortillas, rice, and pasta, and not enough veggies and fruits.
I have been very conscious of my carb intake and have limited it extremely for 1 week today.  I have lost a three pounds, feel better, feel leaner, AND I set a new weight lifting record at my gym yesterday! Yep, like, a new personal best for myself and a gym record to boot!  Eating cleaner is paying off.

UPDATE: Holy smokes those cashew/apricot ones are delicious!  And for some reason, I think I must be getting better, because I came up with more bars when I cut them this time, and they seem thicker, not thinner.  I must be doing something right!


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