Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 1600 Quilt: Add this to my list!!

 I stumbled onto this pattern from one of the mystery visitors to this blog.  It's called the 1600 quilt pattern and you can read about it at this site.  Apparently someone searched for this quilt and in that strange way that search engines work, my blog was one of the hits.  Anyway, this is a neat way to make a quilt using an entire jelly roll of fabric and a quick construction method.  I definitely want to try this! 
     Mystery readers......check it out!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Manicure Adventure

I like to have pretty nails.  I like to keep my toes polished for "sandal season" and a pedicure usually seems like a good investment.  It lasts a reasonable time and looks acceptable for that entire time.  So before our trip to Florida, I decided to get a pedicure.  A manicure on the other hand is sometimes a frustration for me.  I've ruined nails before I ever left the parking lot and at best I can usually only keep them looking good for about three days.  But, while my pedicure was drying the lady beside me was telling me how excited she was about this new type of manicure she had that day.  She was pleased with the looks and the feel of the nails and the DID look gorgeous.  I had heard about gel manicures and was considering trying one of these to see if it would last longer, but her testimony about this new procedure, called Signature Nail System, was so great that I decided right then to come back before my trip and have it done.  Mind you, I had no idea what it really was but I wanted it.  I've never gone in for the acrylic nails or the fancy airbrushing.  I just like my nails to look pretty and that's hard when you actually use them all day.

I was very surprised to find out that what I was getting was closer to acrylic nails than polish!  My first clue was when the manicurist came after my hands with the sander that looks like a human version of pedipaws, or a dremel tool.  But, I decided to just go with it and see what it was like.  I figured I could chalk it up to a new experience.  So, here's my assessment:  The nails looked wonderful and the polish and shine lasted almost three weeks!  In fact I went back and had them done again, this time with french tips.  They continue to grow and haven't torn or snagged on anything in that time. 

Here's the down side:  They are functionally useless.  The ends are much thicker and blunter than un-enhanced nails so it's hard to use them for all those little tasks that we rely on our nails for like getting tape off something or opening the foil top on bottles of dressing.  There are only two ways to get rid of them.  Either you have to go back into the salon and have them use acetone to get it all off or you let them grow out.  I suspect that once they're gone my nail underneath will be weaker than normal.  I've been told that I can file them, but If I try to use a nail clip they will "shatter like glass".  My plan right now is to let them grow out and try to keep them filed to a manageable level.  I miss having nails that are good for something.  But would I do it again? - for a special occasion, in a heartbeat - as an everyday thing, I'll pass.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Snowman Pillows

Since I'm not quite ready to jump into another quilt, I wanted to finish up a few small projects that I had been thinking of for awhile.  I had planned to make a pillow with the scraps from the snowman quilt.  As it turned out I decided to make two pillows.  My recent pillow projects have taught me that the most fun way to do these pillows is to let the project lead rather than to have the whole thing planned out in your mind.  My favorite pillows have been the ones where I only plan one step ahead.  For example, with these pillows, at first I was set on using the white fabric for the back because I had the most yardage left of that and I sort of consider the back as just a functional rather than a design part.  And since that was "planned" from the beginning I just went with it.  But in the end, I wish I had used a different fabric in the back and so on the next pillow (on the left in the picture) I used the same fabric on the back as on the front and was much happier with the results.  I also learned that flannel is woven much looser than cotton making it a bit more difficult to construct into a pillow.  I would make my seam allowances larger if I worked with the flannel this way again.  These will eventually be gifts for some of my snowman loving friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fractal Pillows

I've rounded out my math experience with a couple of pillows.  These pillows are representations of the peano space filling curve and the Hilbert space filling curve.  I've become rather fond of this whole fractal and space filling curve idea and may go back and visit this with another version of at a later date.  Hopefully son #3 will like them, too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Fractal Quilt

I have finally finished the fractal quilt for son #3!!  This was fun, but challenging and at times I just wanted it to be finished.  As with all my quilts, there are parts that I am happy with and parts I would do differently if I made it again.

I posted about the pattern during the construction of the top.  So, not to repeat myself, you can read about the fractal itself here.  I quilted this together using a space filling curve.  This is also a "math thing" which turns out to be an awesome way to quilt large areas.  I used the peano curve which fit this design perfectly.  The borders are quilted in straight lines.  There was a lot of work in this one, but I think son #3 will like it.  Here's the back....
 And a few close ups for detail.....

And now the things I would change:  First off, I wasn't too happy with the back.  I think I would use one solid color on the back to show off the peano curve better.  But, in my defense, I was so in love with the triangle fabric that I would have been very disappointed if I didn't use it somewhere on this project.  I should have left it for something else. I decided to attach the binding by machine for the sake of durability, but as usual I wasn't happy about the results.  Every time I try this, I wish I had done it differently.  Maybe this time I'll learn.  For the first time I had trouble the batting "bearding" through the fabric.  I think this is because of the dark blue color since that's where I noticed the problem most.  I also discovered why some people like to use a plate with a single hole for some straight sewing.  When you're dealing with the bulk of a quilt sometimes the needle gets pulled one way or another and messes up the stitching making it necessary to break thread. So, I may put one of those plates on my wish list and watch for a sale on accessories.
So, that's it for the fractal.  I'm making two awesome pillows to compliment the quilt and then it's on to another project.  I've slowed up a bit lately between yard work and traveling.  In fact, I'm considering a hand sewing project to take to the beach on our trip in June. 

Questions and comments are welcomed from all my invisible readers.  In fact, you still have the opportunity to be my very first online comment!! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

More About Vegetables

In my continuing quest to add more vegetables to my diet, I've come across some interesting things recently.

First, while "half watching" Dr. Oz the other day while I was sewing the fractal quilt (and more about that soon!) I heard him talking with A.J. Jacobs.  This man decided to try a variety of diets to try to lose weight and improve his health.  You can read about him here.  He had some interesting comments about making vegetables more appealing.  In fact he voiced something that I've thought for a long time.  He advocates adding a small amount of sugar to a dish of vegetables.  He feels that it is a small "price" to pay to get more healthy vegetables into your diet and the disadvantages of the sugar are far outweighed by the advantages of the vegetables.  On that same note, he shared that we tend to like crunchy foods and even has a recipe for adding Cheetos to a vegetable dish (you read that right.....Cheetos!) to make it taste better.  I haven't tried either of these ideas, but they are both worth considering.  Back in my children days I remember trying to get the boys to eat raw carrots.  My strategy was to put peanut butter (something they all loved) on them.  They fell for it hard and now carrots with peanut butter is one of their favorite "dishes" from the old days.

Second, I came across this recipe for a salad made of corn and asparagus.  It's really good and low calorie.  You serve it cold so it is great to take to a picnic or covered dish meal.  I DOES have some sugar in it but like we said above - not a big nutritional price to pay for that amount of nutritional goodness.  It also stays nicely in the refrigerator providing a quick vegetable option for a few days.

Third, I stumbled upon a great combination at home.  I cooks a few slices of bacon, then cooked some sliced mushrooms in the same pan.  I cut up the bacon and threw it back into the pan and put some fresh spinach on top and let it all cook together.  Then I put some cheese on top and placed it in a hot oven to melt the cheese.  The flavors all blended nicely, although I think if I do it again I would add some onion.  But as an added bonus, the leftovers went great with eggs for a second meal.

And lastly....a none vegetable food comment....an old lunch choice has become my new breakfast favorite.  Toast with a thin layer of peanut butter, sliced banana and honey sprinkled on top.  One slice is a perfect breakfast size for me.  I get fruit, whole grain and a bit of protien.  It's been a nice chance from my usual oatmeal with fruit or toast.

Ok...back to sewing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Diet Update

I feel compelled to provide a diet update more for myself than my "ghost" readers particularly since this blog started out as a spot for a sort of accountability on my diet progress.  To recap, I accomplished my weight loss goal for 2011 and hoped to lose a mere 10 more pounds in 2012.  I think slow is better, but the downside of slow is that at times it's difficult to tell if you're making any progress.  Well, I can confidently say after three full months that I am not making any progress.  I can't seem to break through the 133 pound spot with any permanence.  I'm still walking the dog daily, eating my two servings of fruit and veggies almost daily, watching the snacking, not eating after dinner, drinking water.....but I'm pretty much at parade rest.  Now the good news is that I'm not gaining weight again as has been my history.  I still think that a second dog walk/day would be a good addition to my activity and perhaps help with the weight loss goal, but I don't seem to be able to accomplish this.  I sort of fade around 4PM.  Perhaps I need to set an intermediary goal like, a second walk three times a week?  I'm sure Seamus (my sweet Golden Retriever) would love that!