Monday, January 31, 2011

Goodbye, My Love

A large sweet tea and sausage burrito from McDonalds.....

I've become way to attached and its time to drink some water! Instead of having this breakfast 5 days a week I am going to cut back and eventually make it a rare treat.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Food and Scripture Verses

You never know when you are going to have an encounter with God through Scriptures. Some are not that surprising, like walking in a cemetery, like I did in late Summer last year.

I had such an encounter when I was cooking a good ole Southern meal Wednesday night.... Southern style chicken and pastry, with fried cornbread. As my hubby's coworker said, "That sure doesn't sound like diet food!" and it really is fattening. But, oh so good. I will diet next week. :o)

Here are the box of frozen pastry strips and bag of corn meal, both of which are made in North Carolina, that are the basic ingredients, along with some boiled chicken.

While turning the box every which way to find the directions I saw this:

A scripture and a prayer line!

We thoroughly enjoyed the chicken pastry on a work night, even!

Another night this week I made sloppy joes, with shredded lettuce and mayo. Doesn't that look yummy?

I'm afraid the sloppy joes aren't diet food either.....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 2011 Consistency Report

Its hard to believe that January is already coming to an end. That means its time for a check up on how we are doing with being consistent in 2011. As I've said before, its important to just keep working on goals and wishes, day in and day out.

I am pleased with some of my progress and not so pleased with other things. I will keep working at it!

Here is a little report of how I've been doing:

1. I have been doing really well with being consistent with menu planning. My menu planning Recipe Binder lays on the kitchen counter top at all times. It is a great guide and helps me so much to know what I'm supposed to be doing.

January has been a very busy time for me, with lots of changes in plans, which means that my menu plans have changed often, as a result. When this happens, I simply mark out the meal for that day and move it over to a day on the next week. I've been planning on making pan fried steaks with baked potatoes every Friday this month, and they haven't been cooked yet!

My friend Elizabeth titled a post this week, "Don't hold your plans too close". That, my friends, is very true! I guess we just have to be ready to go with the flow. I have found that there are times when I don't get things done because of a change in plans, but there are also those unexpected slots of time that become available that I can take advantage of, too.

2. Coupons: I'm still using the coupon organizing system I posted about earlier. With this system, you file the entire coupon inserts by date and then make your grocery list by using blogs such as Southern Savers. This is working well for me and is by far the easiest coupon users system I have found. I'm still tweaking this system and would like to do better in this area.

3. Sewing: I'm proud to have started my Christmas gift sewing for 2011. I've also made great progress toward finishing my oldest UFO Quilt. The quilt top is finished and due to a change of plans over the weekend, I didn't get the quilt backing made. I also haven't been doing the handquilting of the Baptist fans on the Grandma Quilt. I want to do better in this area too!

4. Swagbucks: I am really pleased with my progress with Swagbucks. I've earned almost $35.00 in Amazon gift cards. One challenge with this is to have enough will power to save these until closer to Christmas!

5. Etsy and Ebay: I've not been working on this too much... I hope to do some Etsy Shop sewing soon. Ebay is not too high on my list. I do have 2 or 3 items that I want to sell, not big money makers at all, but nonetheless, I just have to get around to listing them.

6. Spiritually: There's always room for improvement in this area! I have found some spiritual inspiration in an unlikely place. I bought a nice Christian Daily Planner for 2011 on sale for $5.00 in December, which I purchased thinking I would give it as a gift to someone. I decided to keep it, but haven't written anything in it. Each month in the planner has a different theme and each day has a scripture verse and short sentence or two that offers daily encouragement or an explanation of the scripture.

For January, 2011, the theme is "God-given Abilities. A Quote from this theme: "Our goal is to first discover our abilities, then exercise them, and finally channel them toward good and not evil."

One example of a daily Scripture and quote: January 24th: "Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Cor. 15:58). Use whatever gifts and talents the Lord gave you for His ultimate glory and honor.

The theme for January has really spoken to my heart because I feel drawn to use my abilities to serve God.

So, how are you doing with your 2011 plans, goals or resolutions?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January Friday Night Sew In Results

I hope its ok that I didn't make my Friday Night Sew In project until today! The important thing is that I got it done and have actually made a Christmas present for 2011!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Friday Night Christmas Sewing

Its finally here! Friday Night Sew In is this Friday, January 21st.

As I posted earlier, I'd like to make Christmas gifts during Friday Night Sew in each month during the year. One idea I have is to make pillow cases to fit the individual likes of my children and grandson.

So, this week, I will make an "Appie" pillow case. In case you aren't from Western North Carolina (I'm not either!), Appie is short for Appalachian State. One of my sons-in-law is an Appie graduate and played football there. I already have Appie fabric and the pillow case instructions printed out. So I'm good to go.

I made my son-in-law a Christmas Stocking for Christmas 2009 from this same fabric and he really loves it. Since he only gets to see that stocking for a few minutes on Christmas Day, I think he would love a pillow case that he can use every day.

Here's what the stocking looks like.

Here is a pillowcase I made for my son last year in camoflauge fabric. I love the way it turned out. There are no raw edges and its very professional looking. Of course I will need to make my son's pillow case from a different fabric this time! Here's the camoflauge pillowcase.

HERE is the link for the pillow case instructions.

If you want to join in Friday Night Sew In, go HERE

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Quilty News

This weekend I continued to work on my oldest UFO, the Wedding Gift Quilt. The decision has now been made that this will not be the Wedding Gift Quilt, but will henceforth be called Farmhouse Magic. It doesn't fit what I envisioned as a wedding quilt, but it does look like a farmhouse quilt. So it is NOW a farmhouse quilt.

I plan to use it either folded on the back of the love seat, or folded across the end of a bed. I think it would look nice laying across the end of a bed with a plain beige/tan comforter underneath. I could make matching pillow shams.

I have one more border to attach, and it will be ready to be quilted.

Another quilt I am working on using leaders and enders is the blue and beige quilt. I have a basket with 2 1/2 inch blue squares and 2 1/2 inch beige squares beside my machine and stick a pair under the foot at the end or beginning of a seam. Most of the time when making a quilt I just use sets from the same quilt as leaders and enders, but there are times when none can be used, so I use the blue and beige ones. I have accumulated 32 squares doing this, so far. I'm not sure how many I will need. The blue/beige squares will be alternated with beige squares which will yield the Irish Chain pattern that this quilt will eventually be.

Here is a blue/beige set coming out from under the foot, as an ender, behind two 5 inch squares being sewn together on the Farmhouse Magic quilt top.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

January On Frozen Pond and Some More Sewing

We are surrounded by ice. The snow underneath melted into the ground and left this huge chunk of slippery ice surrounding our home.

If you click on these pictures you will see that it is indeed ice. You can see the brown grass underneath it.

The bright spot in all of this frosty winter weather is that I have had some time to sew. Here is a table runner I made. If you look closely you can see the decorative stitch I was able to do, thanks to Big Brother, across the seam on each end.

I also diligently worked on the wedding gift quilt that is the oldest UFO in my sewing room. The quilt consists of 17 rows, with 17 blocks in each row. I already had three rows completed and had the 5 inch blocks cut out , so that made the sewing go faster. My goal was to make one row every hour all day while I was snow/ice bound. I'm not sure if I met that goal, since I needed to spend a couple of hours sewing the rows together. Heaven help me if I got the rows out of order, so I stopped every now and then to do that.

So the final outcome? I have completed 14 of the 17 rows, including the 3 I had already done. I am very pleased with that.

Here's the shocker! I sat down to look more closely at the pattern I was using from the November, 2008 Quick Quilts Magazine, and discovered the quilt in the magazine is a KING SIZE! I do not want this quilt to be that big, so I will need to make the borders much smaller or leave them off altogether. The borders in the magazine are 8 inches wide, so It won't be too hard to make them more narrow, maybe 4 inches. I will need to do some ciphering to make sure I make this quilt queen size.

Our plan for today is to get out of the house to go to work. The roads are in pretty good shape. Walking around might be a little tricky going from the house to the car and from the car to the office, but hopefully we can get through it without falling!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day Sewing With Big Brother

Well, its been a year since my last "Snow Day Sewing' posts and we've already had two large snow and ice events this year. Its not a good sign when you look out the window at 4:00 A.M. and the snow and highway are shiny! We now have freezing drizzle falling on top of the snow that fell yesterday.

I love to be snowed in, as long as I don't have to go anywhere, but its hard for those who need to be going about the business of life. Imagine those who need to be going to the doctor, hospital, bury loved ones, or to work at jobs, such as nurses, doctors, firemen, and rescue personnel.

This was the perfect opportunity to put my new Brother sewing machine into service. I had to learn to use it, even had to learn how to thread it and wind the bobbin. Its simple to use, but oh so different that my old Singer. I have much more to learn so that I can use the machine to its full potential, but so far it sews like a dream!

I started out with a simple project... this coaster to go on the table beside my spot in the family room:

Then I cut off and hemmed a pair of warm winter casual pants for my mother:

Next, I experimented with some of the decorative stitches:

Then I checked my 2011 sewing project list and decided to tackle the oldest
unfinished project, the wedding gift quilt. I worked on it and made quite a bit of progress. The pattern is simple, but the process is not. The outer edges of the quilt are supposed to be darker than the center. Its a challenge to me to lay out the squares for each row, alternating the colors and getting the right shades in the right places. I wasn't too successful in a couple of places so far, but decided to leave it. I haven't made a perfect quilt yet, and don't expect this one will be either.

I am looking forward to finishing this quilt top so I can try out Big Brother's free motion quilting abilities.

I will need to purchase the fabrics to be used for the borders, unless by some miracle there are suitable ones in my stash. I would love to be able to quilt the quilt this weekend, but that may be too much to accomplish in the time available.

What do you like to do when you are housebound, whether its because of the weather or some other reason?

Monday, January 10, 2011

This Week's Menu Plan and Deal of the Week!

Saturday morning is turning out to be my best time for menu planning. I gather up my menu planning Recipe Binder and lay it on the kitchen counter. I look in the refrigerator and cabinets to see what I have on hand I usually buy groceries on Friday afternoon, so I already have a few meals in mind using what I bought.

Look! Two whole weeks have been filled in on my menu planning sheet for January!

Here's the menu for this week:

Saturday: Veal Stew with potatoes, carrots and onions made in the crockpot.

Sunday: Lunch eaten out; banana and peanut butter sandwiches and chips for supper

Monday: BBQ Chicken Legs; macaroni and cheese; garden peas

Tuesday: Grilled bologna and cheese sandwiches and chips

Wednesday: Baked pasta with pasta sauce and cheese; green beans cooked with ham

Thursday: Roast Chicken Breasts, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob

Friday: Pan Fried Steak, potatoes, leftover veggies

I have really enjoyed this small crock pot I received as a Christmas gift. Its just the right size to cook for two people, which is what I need to learn to do.

My deal of the week:

4 Boxes of Special K Cereal and a gallon of orange juice for $3.42.

Food Lion has Special K Cereal on sale for $2.50 a box. If you buy 4 boxes you get a gallon of orange juice free. I printed out 2 buy one get one free Special K Coupons by going TO THIS SPECIAL K WEBSITE. You have to register, but at the end you can print out the coupons. After you print out the first one, hit the "back" button a couple of times to print the second coupon.

At Food Lion, when you use a buy one get one free coupon, the cash register deducts the regular price of the item and not the sales price. I didn't realize this until I got home and saw it on the receipt. So the 4 boxes of cereal were a total of $3.42, after the coupons were deducted, and I also got the free gallon of orange juice.

This deal is good through tomorrow.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On My Sewing Table This Morning....Sewing Machine Stories

This is Singer and her newly adopted big Brother. They have been getting to know each other all week, enjoying a vacation of sorts. Soon they will be getting down to business as Singer shows big Brother the ropes. I have a feeling big Brother will teach Singer a thing or two along the way. Isn't that what big Brothers do?

Big Brother can do some fancy things, but Singer will always be the workhorse of the sewing room. She needs to go away to the machine repair shop for some adjustments, but she will be back.

Singer has a history of her own, starting out in a classroom full of teenage girls and more recently being used for free motion quilting, something no one thought she would ever be able to do.

Big Brother has already made a name for himself, as the UPS truck that brought him ran over the water meter which caused a major flood of waterin his new yard and the adjacent highway and cost us a plumber's service. Big Brother hopes to make lots of quilts, pocketbooks, clothespin bags and table runners using fancy decorative stitches and some day be the star in more sewing machine stories of his own.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some Swagbuck Tips

My plan to earn Swagbucks consistently in 2011 is going well! I have $15.00 in Amazon Gift Cards tucked away for Christmas 2011. I don't want to touch them until the first of November, at which time I plan to start Christmas shopping for my family with them. I am keeping a running total of them on the right side bar and will do periodic posts here also.

To all of you that signed up through the Swagbucks link on my blog... THANK YOU SO MUCH! I also want to say that if you signed up and haven't started searching with Swagbucks yet, its a fun and easy way to earn Amazon gift cards or other prizes. But, just signing up isn't enough. You have to start searching if you want to win .

If you want to sign up for Swagbucks click HERE or click on the Swagbucks widget on my right wide bar.

I'm no expert, but here are a few tips:

1. Once you sign up you can search two ways. If you download the Swagbucks Toolbar, you can search directly from what ever screen you are on while on line. This is the easiest way. Just search on your Swagbucks toolbar, instead of using Google or other search engines. I don't have the toolbar on my computer at home, but do have it on the one at work.

If you don't download the toolbar, you can save the Swagbucks link under your favorites and just go directly to the website to search. Its a little more trouble that way, but either way will work.

2. Don't forget to earn your ONSIES every day. There are 4 Swagbucks you can earn free every day. I know 4 isn't many, but done CONSISTENTLY over time will add up. Here are the 4 ways: 1. If you have the Swagbucks Tool bar downloaded, you automatically get one a day; 2. Go to the Swagbucks homepage and click on EARN. Under that you will see Daily Polls. Take the daily poll and you earn one SB; 3. Under Earn, go to Trusted Surveys. You earn one SB, just by going there. If you want to take a survey, go for it. I never qualify for any of them, but I still earn my one SB for looking; and 4, under Earn go to NOSO (No Obligation Special Offers). I click on NEXT or SEE NEXT OFFER until I win my 1 SB. If you see an offer you want to do, go for it. But you still win the 1 SB either way.

3. Almost every day there are Swagcodes that earn a few swagbucks. The trick is to find about them before they expire. Swagbucks is on Pacific Time, so most of them are later in the day. But, you can never tell what time they will be available. The codes show up on the blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on the toolbar that you have downloaded. HERE IS A SITE called We Love Swagbucks that I am sometimes able to get code locations from. About half the time, by the time I find out about the code, it has already expired. I am going to start doing a quick post with the location of a code, if I see it in time to possibly help any of you who are interested, get a few SBs. So if you see a post entitled, "Swag Code Available", that's what it will be about.

4. I use Swagbucks every time I do a search all day, but have found that certain search words trigger the SBs more than others. If it has been several hours since you have won any SBs, try searching the word "facebook". So far that has been the best word I've used. It may or may not make a difference, since recently I won SBs searching, "A Woman After God's Own Heart" and "Green Bay Packers". :o)

5. Since the Amazon gift cards are for internet use, each card is given a different number which posts under your account on Swagbucks. What I do is copy this number and paste it into my account at Amazon. This way the money is available for spending and adds up there just like a savings account.

I hope these tips will be helpful to you.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Quilting and Sewing Plans for 2011

The Cherry Pit Quilt Shop in Sevierville, Tennessee:

... Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. Colossians 3:23

I haven't been spending as much time in the sewing room as I would like for the last two months. November and December are so full of activities that I can't seem to concentrate on my sewing projects. Several times I went into the sewing room and stood and looked around. My creative juices just wouldn't flow!

Now that January, 2011 is well on its way I am making my sewing plans for 2011. I really want to finish some things and of course, would love to start some new ones. Here is my list.

1. Continue handquilting the Grandma Quilt. I'm about half through with this. IF ONLY I had stuck with it, I when I was on a roll!Just 15 minutes a day would have made such a difference. No point worrying about it now.

2. My nephew and his wife are expecting a baby girl in April, so I am planning another Stacked Coins quilt. This will be the third one in this design I have made, all for girls. This one will be pink and white with some green mixed in. These are some of the fabrics I will be using. Some of them are fat quarters bought at the Cherry Pit quilt shop in Tennessee.

3. I started two Irish Chain quilts last summer that I want to work on using the Leaders and Enders System I learned from Bonnie at Quiltville. One of the quilts is blue and beige and the other is red and white.

4. I started a quilt that was to be a wedding gift over a year ago. I want to finish it and decide if I will still give it to the couple!

5. I want to make pillow cases for Christmas 2011 gifts. I plan to do this during Friday Night Sew In each month and also will link to Sewn With Grace, as I posted about in this POST.

6. I hope to sew some projects to sell in my Etsy Shop.

7. I want to plan a Summer of 2011 quilt project to be donated to my church's Harvest Day auction which is held in November of each year.

8. I would like to make some baby quilts to donate. I hope to write more about this later.

9. There are some small projects that I want to make for my grandson. A couple are pajama pants and a John Deere themed playmat or totebag.

10. Any special request projects I am asked to do.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Fruity, Spring Like Theme

As magical as Christmas decorations can be, its always refreshing to put them away and start over after New Years with a new decorating scheme.

A couple of days after Christmas My hubby surprised me with this vintage hutch. that he found at an Antique/Used Furniture Store. He wasn't sure I would like it, but I really love it. Most of these items were things I already had in the house. I just went around and pulled things from different rooms and even from the kitchen cabinets. The plates came from thrift stores and other items came from Dollar General and Dollar Tree.

I love the Morning Glory flowers painted on the back of one of the shelves.

A fruit theme slowly evolved as I worked and so I made this table runner using some fruity fabric.

My intent was to make his wreath work for year round, but I have a sneaky suspicion that it turned out very spring like! When March comes, I'll have a head start on my Spring decorating! I used Baby's Breath and green Hydrangea from Dollar Tree. The ribbon was in my ribbon stash in the sewing room.

I used the same grape vine wreath that I used for this Christmas themed one. I think the green and white flowers are a nice departure from the Christmas theme.

I am linking to Table Top Tuesday at a Stroll Through Life.

What's Cooking This Week?

Well, its time to get into the swing of things with our brand new year 2011. I've been talking about all kinds of things I plan to do in 2011 and my hope to be more consistent in doing them. So, here's where the rubber meets the road!

The new menu plan work sheet is available by Crystal at the Family Homestead blog HERE. I printed mine out last week and have filled out the first week. Crystal is so organized that she as posted her menus for the entire month HERE.

If you are having trouble coming up with ideas for meals, checkout her list. There are links to her recipes on many of the meals and it would be very helpful if you are having a menu planning mental block. I noted that on the 7th she is making split pea soup from the frozen ham bone from Christmas. I have one in the freezer too! I will need to check her recipe out!

I am really loving my menu planning recipe binder! Its still in progress, but is so helpful. The secret is only having recipes and a list of the meals that your family actually likes in there. I am adding recipes and also just plain old instructions for making the meals we eat all the time.

For example, on New Years Eve morning, hubby requested french toast. I don't make it that often and there's really no recipe, just eggs and bread, but I took note of how many eggs, how much oil, etc. I used and then wrote down the instructions in the book. Now if my kids or hubby ever want to know how I made french toast, they will know. Its also there for inspiration when I am searching for meals when menu planning. By the way, the French Toast was yummy!

On New Year's Day I made ham and potato soup, using the last little bit of leftover Christmas ham and it was wonderful. So I made sure the recipe was in the binder and even made a note on it that read, "A winner on 1-1-11." I can see this dish becoming a New Year's Day tradition at our house.

I plan to make a section in the back of the binder that has my menus for special occasions, such as Christmas, 2010, New Year's Day, 2011, family members' birthdays, etc. These would be inspiration for future celebrations. No more wondering what I cooked "last time". When I am cooking a meal for company, I make a list of everything, which lays on the counter so that I can refer to it while cooking. This helps me to stay on track and to not forget anything. So I could just save this list and file it in the binder.

Here are the meals I have written down for this week:

Saturday: (New Year's Day Smorgasbord) Ham, Potato and Corn Soup, Black Eyed Peas, Pigs in Blankies, Sweet and Sour Meatballs, Chex Party Mix, Cheeseball and Crackers, Fried Cornbread and chocolate chip cookies.

Sunday: Hamburger Stroganoff, Noodles, Garden Peas, leftover Black Eyed Peas. (A little chopped onion is wonderful on top of Black Eyed Peas)

Monday: Chicken Fried Rice, leftover veggies. (I will make extra rice for Tuesday night)

Tuesday: Crock pot roast, Rice and Gravy, Green Beans

Wednesday: Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, leftover veggies. I will be using the Cooks Magazine method of pan frying pork chops. This is supposed to produce juicy, tasty pork chops, even on a week night.

Thursday: Chili, crackers

Friday: Pizza

So.... I have planned our menus for the first week of 2011. One week down and 51 to go! Yikes!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Consistently Growing Spritually in 2011

I have been posting about my theme for 2011, which is to be consistent. Its so easy to make New Year's Resolutions ,or if you are avoiding the word, "Resolution", plans or goals. The hard thing is to consistently work towards those goals when the excitement of a new year starts to wear off, which for me is about a week!

Since today is the first day of the year, I thought I'd write here that my first priority in being consistent is to grow spiritually in 2011. The Lord provides many ways of doing this. Each and every one of us is different and He knows that each one of us need different ways of becoming close to Him.

So what things do you do, or experience by God's Grace, that help you to grow spiritually?

Of course these are the most obvious:

1. Church attendance
2. Bible reading and study
3. Prayer

For me I need all of the above, but to take it one step further, I need to serve God in my everyday life. When there are things you do that are hard, but you know God wants you to do them, remember that you are serving Him.

My favorite Christian author is Elizabeth George. Her writing speaks to my homemaking dreams heart in many ways. HERE IS A WEBSITE that contains a daily recording by Elizabeth George. This is one small way I can lift my heart spiritually in 2011. If I need an extra lift, there are archives!

So to grow spiritually in 2011, my goal is to serve God consistently through practical Christian living.

Here are just a few ideas:

1. Family: What better way is there to serve God? Being a helper and cheerleader for our husbands, if married, doing laundry, cooking, providing a peaceful atmosphere all please God. Helping my Mother in her daily life during this season of her life is not always convenient, but an important part of serving the Lord for me. Even though my children are now adults, I am still serving God by being there for them.

2. At work: Answering the phone is not my favorite thing to do there, but you never know how you are serving God by being polite and helpful Striving for excellence (I always fail) in doing a good job is pleasing to God.

3. Couponing: This is a good way to purchase food for my Church's food pantry to help feed the hungry. Also this helps me to be a good steward of my family's grocery budget;

4. Sewing/Quilting: I like to sell some of the items I make, but have become more and more aware of an inner desire to use this as a ministry. Not only can I make gifts for family and friends, but the items I make can be donated to many causes. I have been contemplating making baby quilts to be donated to a pediatric intensive care unit or Unwed mothers' home.

5. Blogging: It is my hope that this blog is an encouragement to someone and that any ideas I have are helpful. I hope to honor God here and to grow spiritually as a result.

6. Homemaking: This includes lots of the ideas in number 1, but I will go further to include cooking, menu planning, cleaning, gardening and the list goes on....

I am the first to admit that I often fail in my quest to please God, both here on this blog and in my daily life, but I will keep working at it! He is always gently calling.

It would help me in this journey if you could share the ways you are growing spiritually closer to God. Please share these in the comments! Thanks and Happy New Year!

Glimpses of Home - A Little Bit of Fall

I've been enjoying Fall.  I love this time of year. Having a hubby who is retired is great.  He does so many things around the house. ...