Monday, December 22, 2008

Mission Accomplished!!

Wow, did I get a lot done today! Being home sick, I should have been resting, but I'm determined to clean up some of my projects to show progress on this blog. Today I finished up a few items:

1. The first is the gift for my daughter's teacher. I made this candle mat which is so simple and takes less than 2 hours. It came out so nice and I loved the fabric so much, I made a second one for myself!!

I personalize the gift by adding my daughter's picture to the back and have her sign it in permanent ink.

2. The second project I finished was a kit I regretted buying (don't we all have those?) It was a small project but I found out after I bought it that all handwork was required. Anyone who knows me knows that I despise hand sewing. This weakness of mine only heightens my respect for those of you who hand quilt... patience just isn't a virtue I possess. After I bought the kit and realized what I got into, I jumped in feet first. My daughter, Olivia, and I spent quality time cutting out each of the bird's bodies, beaks, wings, and holly leaves. Then I spent the majority of the 5-hour drive from Vermont to Connecticut hand sewing, only to finish the small holly leaves! At that point I realized my sewing machine was going to come into play.

This afternoon I finished the piece, YEARS ahead of when it would have been completed had I stuck it out with hand sewing (it probably would have been a wedding gift to my child who is now 6-years old). I adore cardinals, so needless to say I'm loving this candle mat! I even embellished the bottom with a decorative stitch, and Olivia had fun poking through old buttons looking for the two that were used as the holly berries. I will admit, I did hand sew the buttons on, but briefly considered doing it by machine!!

During the time I was doing all of this, Olivia was right there with me cutting up fabric to use as part of her "scrap quilt." Below is a picture of her proudly displaying her work:

Finally, I thought I'd share a table runner I recently made during the "Christmas Tea" sponsored by my favorite Connecticut quilt shop, The Yankee Quilter ( Every year they host a tea featuring Janet's famous homemade scones and lemon curd, and we sit around, snack, sip and sew. It's always a nice time, and this year we were even treated to a coating of snow.

Well, after my 4-day hiatus from work, it's back to reality tomorrow. Thanks to all who have dropped me a note for your motivation and inspiration; I hope to have more finished projects to showcase in the coming weeks.

Warmly ~ Christine

SNOW DAY! (um... kind of....)

After this weekend's snow we woke up this morning expecting school to be in session. Apart from the otherwise 90-minute delay, we were ready to brave the 14 degree (F), frigid weather and winds, only to find out school was cancelled due to a lack of heat. Since I've been nursing a cold, it seemed like the perfect day to stay in our pj's and relax.

The first thing I wanted to do was log onto this blog... I think I'm hooked already! Thank you to all who have dropped me a note... and to Lisa for spreading the word! It was such a pleasant surprise to find your comments, and I'll look forward to corresponding with each of you in the future.

Last night I went though a few of my books to find a quilt pattern that I can use for my "weight loss quilt". I think I found one! It's called "Charming Baskets" out of the "Simply Charming Two" quiltbook by Moose on the Porch Quilts ( (picture attached). I think this will work out perfectly, as it's a 12-block quilt (one for each month), and each block can be modified to include a different color triangle for the number of pounds lost that month. Again, this is still an "idea in progress", but I feel I'm on the right path. Next week we are scheduled to head to our Vermont cottage, and I'm hoping to visit my favorite quilt store --Knits & Bolts in New Haven, VT -- to check out their fabric. Knits & Bolts always seems to have a great selection, so I'm sure I'll find something that will work! This is the same quilt shop where I picked up the pattern book, as they were offering a class for "Charming Old Maid." All the quilts in this book are made with Charm packs, so it should be fairly hassle free.
As promised, I'm including the All American Beef Stew recipe I made last night. I served it with crescent rolls and it sure was delicious! We enjoyed it in front of a coy fire, which seemed perfect for the first day of winter. Enjoy!!
3 lbs. well-rimmed beef round, cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
1/2c flour seasoned with salt & pepper (I add onion powder and dried parsley to the flour also)
1/2c vegetable oil
2 large onions, cut into wedges or thick rounds
4 medium-size carrots, cut into 1-inch lengths or diagonal slices
1-1/4 lbs. small red-skinned potatoes, quartered
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch lengths or slices
About 4 cups beef broth (I have also used vegetable broth)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Coat meat with seasoned flour and brown in hot oil. Reduce heat to medium low, drain off all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings. Add onions, carriots, potatoes and celery to pot. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned. Add broth, tomato paste and mustard, stirring to scrape up browned bits. Bring to a boil. Return browned meat to pot. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring once. Taste; add additional broth and salt or pepper if necessary. Cover and simmer 1 hour longer, stirring once or twice, until meat is tender and sauce slightly thickened. Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 279 calories, 36g protein, 17g carbs, 7g fat.