Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Josephine Blouse/Tunic

The Josephine Tunic was released by Made By Rae a few days ago and I snatched it up as soon as I heard it was available! Those pleats were calling to me for months and I had fabric washed and ready to go and just waiting for the pattern. The pattern was so easy to follow and put together that I was able to print the pattern, tape the pieces together (much more fun when using washi tape, btw), trace the pattern, cut the fabric, and sew up the shirt all in one day!
Pattern: Josephine Tunic from Made By Rae
Fabric: Novella Rayon from Valori Wells

I really like the pattern a lot. I think it's a better fit for me than the empire waist of the Washi Tunic, even though I love that one too. My only complaint (if you can call it that) is that the sleeve cap is a little poofy. I think I will try to take out some of that next time so they lay a little flatter. 

Oh, and I used the pattern for the C/D cup and the pleat ended up under the bust... so I guess that was wrong. Whoops! I'll try the A/B cup next time and see if that puts the dart where it's supposed to be. It actually worked out fine because it looks a little like an empire seam. and it blends in with the busy fabric. So no harm done. 
This shot shows the pleats better but I was making a face because the sun was so bright. The weather here has been crazy! It's like spring even though it's still February. 

Oh, and those are purple pants I'm wearing with the shirt. Yep, purple. They are hand-me-downs from one of my really good friends. I was afraid with that much purple someone might mention Barney, but I made it through the day without any such comments! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Layer Cake Quilt

Fabric: PB & J from Moda

I love this fabric line! It is so pretty. It has all the colors that I love. If you look inside my closet, all my clothes are these colors! I haven't put on a binding yet, but other than that this quilt is done. I serged the edges after quilting so that it would be ok to leave in the store until I can get the binding on it. 

This quilt is the one that I learned the hard way that you cannot leave the computerized long-arm alone. It "ate" a block of my quilt. Super big sad face. I stopped the machine and stared at it for awhile. I managed not to cry, but it's my worst quilting fear - that I will rip a quilt on the long-arm machine. Someday I MAY pick the quilting out and replace the little square with the hole, but I doubt it. My colleague suggested I put a label there. It might take a big label, but it was good idea! 

This fabric just called to me too much to only make one quilt out of it. I think this will be the first time I've ever made two quilts out of the same fabric! I have a Trip Around the World in progress with the same fabric line.

BONUS: Do you spot the mistake?? I just saw it!! Well, that's one more reason to make another one out of this fabric. : )

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trip Around the World

I love what I do for a living, working for the Army, but one of the sad things about what I do is that people leave. About every three years families pack up and move on to their next station. It makes it hard to get to know people when they leave so quickly. 

But every now and then someone makes a big difference. I have been lucky enough to have several of these people in my life - people who helped me become a better person. This month we are saying goodbye to one of those people. My dear friend Stacy (in the middle) is moving.
Stacy is leaving for a really great reason - she got a promotion to a division chief position! This is what she should be doing. She is absolutely incredible at what she does. She worked as the Financial Management Chief here in our garrison, and as such she helped SO MANY of us! We had to throw her a really great send off! 

I toyed around with different quilt ideas and settled on the Trip Around the World pattern. 
I had wanted to make this for a while and was planning to make it as a sample for the store. But after thinking about it I realized it was the perfect quilt for someone continuing her literal trip around the world!
The fabric is Soho Chic from Moda. (I'm making another sample for the store out of PB & J. I'm half way done with the blocks on that one.)

I used the jelly roll method of making the quilt using this tutorial. I used the scraps to add rows in between the blocks, creating an extra point. I purposely used the blue through the middle of each block to really draw attention to the diamond shape. 

Do you see the little floating blue squares in the first border? That was my favorite little detail. 

For quilting I wanted something travel related. And I wanted to use the Quilt Path and let the computer quilt it. I found some cool castle patterns from one of the digitized patterns companies and thought it was perfect! Can you kind of see the castle?  
The quilt is SO busy that the quilting pattern kind of got lost in the quilt. So blah, but at least she knows it's there. These are the two patterns so you can see how awesome they are!

I had a moment of inspiration when I realized the leftover fabric from the backing was the perfect size for a bag. I sort of used a drawstring bag tutorial from the internet, but I didn't have it with me at the time, so I kind of winged it. It worked out ok! 
Here's Stacy receiving the quilt at the farewell party. She loved it! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whole 30 - a Food Journey

WARNING: This is a text heavy post with no photos! And it's a little rambly.

My Food History
I don't remember much about food growing up, but I remember that both of my parents were always cooking. We cooked a lot. Everything seemed to be from scratch. I remember begging for instant potatoes and TV dinners because they were a treat! (How silly that seems now!!) I never was super interested in sweets or sodas, but I loved bacon and fried eggs! Looking back I realize how lucky I was that my parents taught me how to cook and that we cooked so much with fresh ingredients. I was a silly kid back then who couldn't stand chunks in my tomato sauce, but I think it set the stage for my future food journey.

My Food Journey
When I was in college I gained A LOT of weight. Seriously. A lot. Most of it could probably be attributed to Mc Donald's, late night studying and early mornings, and a very long commute. Oh, and a breakfast burrito every morning. Rob and I learned about Dr. Atkins a loooong time ago and read his book. It makes sense! Don't eat so much sugar. Duh! But sugar is in EVERYTHING. So Rob and I started changing our habits and the way we cook and we lost a lot of weight. But when we would go back to eating bread and pasta it would come back. We were tired of the weight roller coaster.

A couple of years ago we watched the movie Food, Inc. It rocked my world. For real. I can't look at food the same way after that. This began a new chapter of the food journey. Changing for health reasons and not for weight loss. I've learned sooo much in the last few years about what goes into food, who makes it, what secret ingredients things have... It put me on a quest to change everything.

Whole 30 and Paleo
Paleo is an interesting concept that reminds me of Atkins, but I think it's better. Paleo means eating only natural stuff and not processed in any way. Whole 30 is also very similar, but even more strict. We have been using concepts and recipes of both during 2014 and it's gone pretty well.

I can't honestly say we went 30 days because we had some cheat days. But since we had been changing the way we eat for so long I think we were ok. For Whole30 you eat only natural foods, no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no white potatoes, no sweeteners artificial or fake. It's rough. The no dairy is what hurt the most. Everything else was no problem, but I seriously missed cheese! The one thing that I did do is learn how to drink my coffee black. Yep, black. Now, it has to be a GOOD coffee, but I can do it!

The Wrap Up
After 30 days I lost 13 pounds and have completely changed the way we cook. The first few days I purged our kitchen of all kinds of seasoning packets, packaged foods, sauces, salad dressings, ... anything with chemicals and sugar. It felt good to get rid of it. Then I was forced to cook fresh because there was nothing to fall back on.

Some of my favorite recipes were Pumpkin and Beef Sautee, BLT Omlette, and this amazing dry Sugar Free BBQ Rub. We even learned how to grind up our own pork and make sausage patties! I'm working on perfecting breakfast sausage. I'm not quite there yet, but we have lots of ground pork to practice with!

The Kids
The kids didn't really get fully on board. They still had to eat at school, so they couldn't go 100% all natural. In the beginning Ethan was devastated by the Whole30! I cried every night begging for pasta and saying his dinner was ruined! By the end of 30 days though, he ended up in the kitchen with me helping me cook. He actually did all the meat grinding the other day! I just cut the meat into pieces for the grinder. That's been fun - having him cook with me. He was the main one who needed a food reset. Haven is pretty healthy already, but Ethan was slipping into some very bad habits. I think these 30 days have actually been the best for him out of all of us. He's making better choices now. I have tried not to force decisions on him, or ban him from anything. I don't want him to sneak things or to go nuts when he grows up and discovers junk food. So instead of denying him things we talk about what's in it and why it's not a healthy choice and what might be better. If he still "NEEDS" it then I might give in to a small portion, depending on what it is. There are a few forbidden foods in our house - like gatorade, poptarts, bread with corn syrup, and other things with dyes and chemicals that gross me out. But I'm still willing to let him have a little treat to keep him from bingeing on it later on. Now he goes for a package of blueberries instead of a bag of gummy bears. I'm proud of him!

Ok, that last bit got pretty wordy. I guess my overall thoughts are:
1. the Whole 30 and Paleo are really good concepts and I think we have discovered a way of eating that I feel really good about.
2. Giving up dairy was too much, and I think I'm going to keep eating cheese and yogurt.
3. Making everything fresh is not really that hard and I've really enjoyed teaching those skills to my kids.

Soooooo..... if you are thinking about giving these a try - go for it.