playing catch up

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Working part-time and writing a book has taken a toll on my homemaking routine. I work a marketing job three days a week and loved having my Tuesdays and Thursdays available to really do the business of running my home. Cleaning, shopping, errands, making and keeping appointments, all that stuff that often falls to us moms. Well, my hat is off to those of you that work full-time. Now that my Tuesdays and Thursdays are full of sewing and writing, things were starting to fall apart a bit.

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What I needed were some new routines in place. First up, I switched my grocery shopping day back to the weekend. I sort of hate to do that, since it is so much busier, but I love having it out of the way during the busy week. I’m trying be a bit better about spending some time in the kitchen prepping food for the week. Just this morning, I made chicken stock, chicken noodle soup, hard boiled eggs, almond milk, chai concentrate, and a container of cut-up veggies. I know it will make eating healthy meals and snacks a lot easier.

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Two days a week I’ve got a blissful two hours to myself while my youngest son has soccer practice. This team is too far away to drop him off and go home, so I’ve got two hours to fill. I thought it was inconvenient at first, but now I realize that it’s a gift. I’ve fallen into a routine of going for a 30 minute walk on some nice trails at the park, then I sit in the minivan with the laptop and have time to write! It is time that I know that I wouldn’t be taking if I were at home, so it feels special. I’m starting to blog more regularly, I’ve written a few magazine submissions, and edited some work for the book. It is a peaceful time that I look forward to. And to top it all off, the drive gives me an hour twice a week to be able to chat and connect with my son. So, what looked like another to-do item to add to an already busy schedule has actually created a little space. Win-win.

not quite dad’s quilt

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About four years ago I made my dad a quilt for his 70th birthday. I was a new quilter and had this crazy idea that I would get some different novelty fabrics that represented different sides of him and somehow work them all together into the perfect quilt. Oh, how naïve I was! I had fish fabric, camper fabric, Route 66 fabric, and coffee-themed fabric. None of it went together. I cut it up and tried to work it into some kind of cohesive patchwork. As his birthday loomed, I was increasingly unhappy with what I was creating.

Painful though it was, I tossed it all in a bag and headed back to the quilt store to start over. And it was painful! We were a single income family and tossing aside over $100 worth of fabric was not an easy decision. But I wanted to create a quilt that I was proud of and that he would love. And what I was creating just wasn’t it.

I ended up finding a simple churn dash block quilt pattern. I have never cared for that block, but it turns out that I love it when it’s set on point! My dad is from the south, so Civil War Reproduction fabrics seemed a good choice. From there it came together easily. It was done in time for his birthday and I enjoy using that quilt every time I visit him.

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But this is not that quilt. This is a much smaller version of that quilt, made from the scraps. It started out as a quilt guild challenge quilt that I never completed. The top has been done forever, but I made the decision to hand quilt it and for some reason it has been languishing in my sewing basket for a couple of years. I am on a mission to finish up my WIPs and this was an easy finish. I love the lipstick border on it. I’m not one to put borders on quilts, but I especially love this one. The best part is that it reminds me of my dad whenever I see it. I’m not sure if I’m going to leave it on the coffee table or hang it over my bed. We live in earthquake territory and if it came down in an earthquake, at least no one would get hurt.

So, what happened to that bag of novelty fabrics? I pulled them out a few months ago and picked the Route 66 fabric to be the center of an Ohio Star block and am making my dad another quilt for his 75th birthday this year. And I might sneak that fish print onto a pieced back.

crafting a life

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Carmella over at The Art of Simple has such a great post over there today called, “Mindfulness in the Empty Minutes“. It is all about not necessarily wishing for more time in the day for creative pursuits, but finding the little nooks and crannies of time already there and using them well.

In order to do that, I have realized, that you need to be a bit organized. You need to have your knitting projects ready to go in a basket, your next block ready to for you to sit down at the machine for a few minutes while the kettle boils. I am trying to be better about all of that, because sewing and knitting bring me joy and creative satisfaction.

Looking back over the last few months of crafting, I am so happy that I have found a few minutes here and there to indulge in my creative passions.

Make time for yourself every day, to do whatever it is that brings you joy.

milk, sugar, flower mini

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One of the perks of writing a craft book is the opportunity to play with fabric every day. And, if you are lucky, fabric that has not even been released to the public yet. Minki and I had the privilege of getting some advance cuts of the Milk, Sugar, Flower line from Penny Rose Fabrics. It’s a completely adorable line and now available in fabric stores. It seems like I am seeing all over Instagram these days.

I can’t show anything that is being used for the book, but one night last week, I sat down and just wanted to play a bit. I had purchased Jera Brandvig’s Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern book over the holidays and was looking forward to trying this new-to-me technique.

A mini seemed just the thing. I cut 4 ½” squares of batting and some 1 ½” strips of fabric and just started piecing right onto the batting and immediately quilting. In no time I had four blocks done and sewn together. Since the quilting is already done, it just took a few minutes to attach the backing. I hand stitched the binding the next day at soccer practice and was done! Talk about some instant gratification! I am very pleased with how it came out and it makes me happy every time I look at it.

I can’t wait to try out the log cabin quilt-as-you-go pattern—that will be my next one.

I think that stitching up minis might be a bit addicting!

banana muffins

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I always feel like a good mom when my kids come home to a homemade, freshly baked and (reasonably healthy) treat after school.

These banana muffins from an old Cooking Light recipe fit the bill perfectly. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years, moving away from “light” butter and egg whites, and substituting white whole wheat for half of the white flour (they don’t even know).

Here’s the recipe Give it a try. And if you make them into muffins instead of loaves, they are done in 20 minutes. Just in time for an after school treat.

Banana Bread

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 larage egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

Directions:

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add banana, milk, sour cream, and egg whites; beat well, and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt; stir well. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture, beating until blended.

Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for  1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

For muffins, set the oven to 400° and cook for 18-20 minutes.