Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Make Fruit Dessert Crepes - Day 335 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

I've been trying to avoid food tutorials lately. When I think of food, I think of dessert. When I think of dessert, my mind always turns to that easy-for-me, quick-to-do tutorial. Sugar cookies. But I'm really trying to keep cookies out of the house.

So no Valentine's desserts or cookies, at least not yet. And after my major, months-long project culminating at work this week, my mind is not thinking about crafts.

My mind is still thinking about crepes. I've been in a breakfast rut for some time now and I'm using crepes to break out of it. I whipped up another batch to eat on throughout the week and made a tutorial along the way.

There are lots of crepe recipes out there so you could use your own. I'm using my late mother-in-law's recipe.

2 eggs, beaten
2 TBSP sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c. canned evaporated milk
1 c. flour
1 c. milk
2 TBSP melted butter

As for directions, you'll have to watch the tutorial.
Click on the video below to find out how:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day 334 of 365

I figured it out. My sewing room is my balance place.

When things are too hectic, when I'm trying to do too much, when I'm spending more hours than I should working on "work", when I feel terrible and can't do anything at all, the sewing room is the place I have to go.

It evens me out. It calms me. It makes me feel like there are more important things than what's going on in my life. It helps me keep my mind off the pain. Whether I'm organizing fabric or choosing fabric or cutting it or sewing it, it makes things better for me.

I get more excited than I should about silly things in my sewing room. Things like finding a place for my fabric strips. When I was going through the plastic containers the other day (when I stupidly put fabric on Crystal Light containers) I also came across some great containers to hold my fabric strips. The strips fit perfectly in the containers and the containers fit perfectly on the shelves.

Oh, the excitement.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day 333 of 365

I'm in love.

It started with the paninis. We got a panini maker several years ago from my mom as a Christmas gift. We used it occasionally but haven't been extremely happy with how our sandwiches have turned out. We never have been able to find the right combo of bread and filling to make a tasty sandwich. But just this week I found an amazing combination. Good sourdough bread, sliced turkey breast, provolone cheese, sliced onions, spicy brown mustard, and lots and lots of romaine lettuce. (Yep, me using lettuce.)

I'm in heaven. These paninis are so darn good I could eat one every single day.

The love continued when I rediscovered crepes today. With all the different varieties of berries I picked up at Costco this week, what could be better for breakfast than fresh fruit crepes? Nothing! Just fresh fruit and crepes - no whip cream, no powdered sugar - make for another meal that I could eat every single day.

Fresh fruit crepes for breakfast and a turkey panini for dinner. Delicious.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day 332 of 365

Yesterday Paula O asked me:

Hi Deb- I was wondering, with 34 days left since you started your blog, what are your feelings about that? Will you continue? (please!) are you looking forward to day 365? If you choose not to continue will there be a bit of a void in your daily routine? Or do you think you can now leave it behind & get on with things? I hope you know this year has counted- your courage, generosity & love. I hope you continue.

My reply to her was:

Will I continue? Yes. Am I looking forward to Day 365? Yes. Do I wish I could end it on Day 365 and not look back? Yes. 

While things have changed for me over the past year, I still have lots of things I need to continue to work on. As much as I would like to leave the whole blogging and picture taking behind, I know I can't. I have to continue to move forward and the blog is the best way to document my progress (or lack thereof).

So yep, with now 33 days to go, I'm here to stay. Am I excited? Yes and no. It's like when you do something because it's good for you, not because you always want to do it. (Yeah, like that exercise I still can't get back into the swing of.)

How can I not stay when I get to see (and take pictures of) spectacular sunsets over the top of my computer screen?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 331 of 365

I love bargains. And I love coming home and finding that bargains have arrived in the mail.

I've been spending a couple days with my daughter and haven't been home. When I got home I had three packages waiting for me. The first two packages were used books I purchased to do research on some children's books. $30 in books for eight dollars. But my third package was the best deal of all - a new purse from Coldwater Creek. I paid $14. The purse was originally $70. (Talk about exciting!)

Also exciting was the run my daughter and I made to another store. We ran across some gardening things at 50% off the last marked clearance price. We always like using a systemic product on our roses, but it is usually so expensive we might only do one or two treatments a year. With the 50% deal, I made off like a bandit. Our rose garden should look pretty darn spectacular this year.

I imagine checking out with a cart full like this you might think I would be someone who:
A: is a hoarder.
B: doesn't care about the environment.
C: is obsessive about a rose garden.

Obsessive about a rose garden is the right answer.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Day 330 of 365

I don't have a Costco card and never have. My mom has a Costco card. My daughter has one, too. (They lived together so they're on the same membership. I think that's how that works.)

I don't know much about Costco. I know they sell items in big sizes. I know some people swear by them. But that's about it.

But I learned more today. I visited my daughter and we went to Costco. Unfortunately, I was the one whose cash was being used. Being used and being spent quickly, mostly on fruits and veggies. It was quite an experience watching folks buy huge boxes and bags of snacks and sweets. (The pies particularly looked mighty tasty.) I was quite proud of myself for not partaking in the huge unhealthy food purchases. $75 in fruits and veggies was plenty for me. Even with my daughter and I splitting the produce, my refrigerator is pretty well full.

I did enjoy one sweet purchase. I ran out to the only Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Boise. If you've been reading my blog, you know my obsession with the apples. I bought (and ate) a Butterfinger one. Although I certainly could have had my choice of many.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Day 329 of 365

Like eating a cloud.

An expression I never heard before, but one that came out of my husband's mouth last night.

We have this Mexican restaurant in town, Alejandra's. It's a small place tucked into the long stucco building that houses an auto repair shop, a Mexican store, the post office, the senior citizen center, and the hardware store. Right there on main street, the building is probably as old as the town. We're talking old, with each business getting its own little hole. When people talk about hole-in-the-wall places, I think of this Mexican restaurant. It has only been around a few years, but it's our go-to place for Mexican food. Great food at reasonable prices.

Great food and great specials my husband likes, particularly on Tuesdays. He loves their tacos and on Tuesday is all-you-can-eat tacos. Last night he again enjoyed the delicious all-you-can-eat tacos with rice and beans that cost something like $7.99. He was in heaven.

He has an obsession with the tacos, but an even bigger obsession with their rice. He's not a big rice fan, particularly of Spanish rice. But he loves the rice at Alejandra's. Every single time we're there he raves about the rice. So after he paid the bill and we were getting ready to go, he leaves the table. Not out the door, not to the restroom. To the kitchen.

He went to the kitchen to talk to the gal who makes the rice. Wanted to know how she did it. Told her how delicious it was. And told her it was like eating a cloud. I kind of think I know what he meant, but the poor gal with the broken English may not have understood.

I don't know about rice being like a cloud, but I am starting to think my head is in the clouds with all the quilt blocks I keep putting together...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sew Quick and Easy Potholders - Day 328 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

Quick and Easy Quilted Fabric Potholders Sewing Project
I'm not sure how and why I started these tutorials, but now that I'm many months into them it's getting more difficult to try and come up with something creative every week. And then there are those days I don't feel well enough to talk to anyone and it's difficult to keep the cheeriness in my voice on a video.

I'm not sure if the cheeriness is there today, but something else is - a background noise.

I usually plan on filming the tutorials ahead of time. Every Thursday I tell myself I'll film, and I don't. Then it becomes Friday when I'm sure I'll get it done. Friday usually goes by and when Saturday or Sunday rolls around I start to feel a bit panicky.

But I get it done. Typically it is when laundry is running in the washer and my hubby is downstairs watching TV. I'll call down to him, letting him know I'm filming the tutorial and will be closing the sewing room door. That leaves me alone with no noises but the loud wall clock, ticking away.

Except this time. I tried to raise my voice over the noise. It didn't work. I tried to repeat things more than once, hoping I could bypass the noise coming from right outside the sewing room door, but it was no use.


Looking for something else? Check out some of my other kitchen sewing and crafting projects!


Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

After some major editing, the little bawl baby (AKA kitty cat) can still be heard about two minutes into the video. You can find the step-by-step how to tutorial for the quick and easy quilted potholder sewing project here:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Day 327 of 365

I spent today trying to figure out what to write. Which then got me wondering about this whole writing thing.

As I look past Day 365, will I continue writing several paragraphs each day? Writing every day, even when things aren't exciting, has been challenging. Do I talk about me? Do I talk about things around me, work, sewing? Or do I complain?  The daily writing has kept my mind active and alive, like exercise of the brain, so some type of writing will probably need to stay.

But it sure would be nice not to have to create something out of thin air. Typically when I sit down to write, the words flow (although sometimes slowly) and somehow, without a clear direction, wind up tying into the picture of the day.

Not today. Random thought about what happens in March don't really tie into today's picture.

I've cut up some of those blocks I filed a couple days back. I combined them with some of my scraps and have sewn them together into different colored blocks. Add some white sashing and borders and I see a colorful kid's quilt in the making.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Day 326 of 365

Six weeks and counting. In six weeks, my take-a-picture-every-day-to-see-that-I-have-lived goal ends. Knowing that the end is near is making me think even more about what the next step will be.

I'm still sure taking a picture every day is a keeper. Getting up every day knowing I had to take a picture is why I'm still around. It's why I'm doing quilts for charity and why I'm back working. It's the thing that has made me look up and see - really see - the world around me. If it wasn't for the picture a day thing, my head would be down and the most exciting thing I would have seen would have been dust on the floor or cracks in the pavement.

One change I'm contemplating is sometimes doing more than one picture a day. Over the past year there have been days where I wanted to take several pictures. So the next year might hold more than one a day every once in  a while.

Actually, today's picture sort of falls into that category. I took a picture of the $3 Target amaryllis when I bought it, and now nine days later there is some obvious growth. I thought the difference was striking enough to post the picture today as well as the picture I took when I first bought it on Day 317.

January 13
January 22

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Day 325 of 365

Yes, I did.

If someone were to ask me if I started using those squares that I filed yesterday, that would be the answer. Boy, did I start using them.

My new file folder fabric square system was very efficient. I easily matched up colors and patterns. And I sewed and sewed and sewed. Assembly line style, one after the other, after the other.  My machine got a workout and my Christmas iron got a workout. Lots and lots of blocks sewn together to make several sets of 11" blocks and several sets of 9" blocks. All of them are now waiting patiently, hoping to be part of one of a multitude of quilts.  Oh, the possibilities!

I so enjoy sewing, particularly for others. I might not be able to crochet anymore, cross stitch, or even hand quilt, but I can feed fabric through my sewing machine. Give me lots of pre-cut fabric, my arthritis gloves, a comfy office chair, a working iron, and a south-facing window on a winter's day and I'm a happy camper.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Day 324 of 365

Today's picture should be titled, Stay Away From Mod Podge Part Two.

Yesterday's waste of time, fabric, and Mod Podge on the Crystal Light and beef jerky containers should have been a big enough of a deterrent, but they weren't. Today I got myself in even deeper and wasted much more time, fabric, Mod Podge, and even some scrapbook paper.

I have all these fabric squares that I got on Day 131 and Day 185. They've been sitting in stacks inside an old box. I always forget I have them and when I do remember, it takes me forever to sort through all the stacks to find what I want. So I decided to organize the stacks.

I also have more hanging file folders than I'll ever need in a lifetime leftover from when I was teaching. I got this clever idea to cut the file folders down to fit the box that held the stacks of fabric squares. If the file folders fit, I could "file" the squares and be able to see what I was looking for quickly and easily.

But an ugly old box wasn't going to do. Mod Podge and scrapbook paper to the rescue! (Or so I thought.) I've never Mod Podged anything but fabric and now I know why. For when I used that Mod Podge and scrapbook paper on all sides of the box, the paper buckled. After it dried it was even worse.

After much peeling and scraping, the paper came back off. Next up was covering it with fabric. I went through all my usual steps when working with Mod Podge and fabric. When it was dry there was one small problem. The fabric I used was light-colored and the box had some dark printing and colors on it. Obviously Mod Podge doesn't hide what is under the fabric. A pretty, fabric-covered box with lettering and markings showing through wasn't too attractive.

Off came the fabric. But I wasn't going to give up - I had already spent hours and I wasn't about to let the project get the best of me. I tried again with a darker fabric with better results. Not great results, just better.

It's time to leave it alone. Maybe the best solution of all is to start using all those squares. It has been a month since I've worked on a kids' quilt for charity. I think it's time to start back. And time to give up the Mod Podge for good.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Day 323 of 365

I have to get away from the Mod Podge.

With my quilt being finished up, I got back to work on re-organizing my sewing room. I went through the very top shelf of my sewing room closet - the one that holds all the fabric and is pictured on Day 57 - and sorted through all the plastic containers that were up there. I tossed some, moved some around, found uses for some.

And I Mod Podged some.

I had several Crystal Light drink mix containers and a beef jerky container that have been waiting for me to find a use for. I found a way to decorate them - Mod Podge and fabric. But now I still don't have a good use for them. I don't need them for a pen/pencil holder. I don't need them for buttons. I'm not sure what to use them for.

I wasted my Mod Podge and fabric (and my time) on them without a purpose in mind. And to top it off, they didn't turn out as cute as I thought they would. They'll be sitting on the shelf until I (or someone else) comes up with some great idea.

Anyone?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Day 322 of 365

Three separate people asked me about my health yesterday. Two of the people have probably only ever asked me once - ever - so it seemed quite unusual to have three in one day. It was only after repeating my story more than once did it become clear. This drug cocktail I'm on for arthritis has gotten way out of control.

I have:
  • A weekly injection that can cause TB.
  • A weekly injection of a chemotherapy drug that has some of the side effects you would expect. It also causes a depletion in folic acid which requires me to take...
  • Folic Acid daily
  • The combination of the chemotherapy drug and the years I was on anti-inflammatories has torn up my stomach, so twice daily I take medication specifically for my stomach.
  • A twice daily anti-malaria drug which, among other things, can cause blindness, hence my multiple visits to the eye doctor.
  • An occasional dose of addictive pain medication.
  • A couple other non-arthritis related long-term daily medications.
And I'm still waiting for the last ditch effort to come through. The thousands of dollars a month IV option, the one the insurance company has twice denied.

Going through the list then led me to some questions. What kind of person takes a combination of medications like that? How did I wind up on such extreme medications? And why so many? Thinking about it had me waking up this morning feeling kind of bad about things. Almost feeling sorry for myself. Almost.

I am so grateful and thankful I have things in place to keep me from lamenting my situation. There is always something to organize, but more importantly there is always something to make for charity.

I finished my Disaster Auction quilt. I'm happy  it came out the way I envisioned. I need to get my quilt label on it and it will be good to go.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Make Homemade Scrap Fabric Finger Pincushions - Day 321 of 365, Tutorial Tuesday

The first pincushion I ever owned was one of those tomato-y types. I'd used it for 25 or so years and when it got raggedy I started searching for a new one.

I started by purchasing one that looked like an easy chair. It was pretty and all, but wasn't practical to keep close by because it was a bit oversized. I still use it in my sewing room, but for decoration only. The next pincushion I bought was a cute little Mary Engelbreit one that looked like a little purse. Again, a bit too decorative and not all that useful.

Then I started making my own in hopes of finding something that worked well for me. I started with a flower pincushion from a pattern found on the internet. It came out too big. On Day 1 I made some squares ones that fit perfectly in the drawer next to my machine and worked well for my daughter to use in her department at work. Then after a noisy summer of owls and some inspiration from a gal who decorated some owl cookies, I made some owl pincushions on Day 195. Both of those pincushions were given away.

Now here I go again, looking for a perfect pincushion. This time I needed something smaller. Occasionally there are times when I need one for just a few pins when I'm away from the sewing machine. Today's tutorial solved my problem of losing pins on the floor.

I stick them in my finger pincushion.
Quick and Easy Homemade Finger Pincushion Craft Project


Looking for more quick and easy projects? Check out these ideas!

Disclosure: Deb's Days is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites. This means that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. Your purchase helps support my work in bringing you new sewing and crafting content.

Find the step-by-step how to tutorial for these quick and easy homemade finger pincushions project right here:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Day 320 of 365

I do everything I can to avoid kids.

That may appear to be quite contradictory to my career. I'm going on my 18th year working in the same elementary school. Before that, I ran a preschool and before that I worked in several. That makes 28 years working with kids aged 3-10.

But now I stay away from kids. I still work in that same elementary school, in an office, doing regulatory/compliance and curriculum type of work - with no kid contact. It's not that I don't like kids. It's not that I'm not patient with them, it's not that they get on my nerves.

Kids represent illness. As a teacher, I was sick a lot. Then once I started on these medications for rheumatoid arthritis - medications that purposely destroy the immune system - my periods of sickness lengthened and became much more severe. Even a simple cold can send my entire system into a crisis. Something others can get over in a week can last several months for me and can result in multiple serious infections.

So nowadays I use a lot of antibacterial hand cleaner, Clorox wipes, and Lysol spray. And I have to avoid kids and sick people.

Like today. My husband had to go to the doctor and I sat in the car to avoid sick people in the waiting room. It was a cold morning to be sitting in the car, but it was worth it if I prevented an illness. As a bonus I got a pretty picture as the sun was trying to peek through the clouds.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 319 of 365

It was a somber morning around here. Any time you get a phone call at 8 in the morning on a Sunday, you know it can't be good. And it wasn't. The teachers at my husband's school have been calling each other this morning, making sure everyone knew the news.

On Day 27 on this blog I wrote: But as a high school teacher, the number of students my husband has lost is in the double digits. Most of the deaths occurred while the students were in high school or just graduated from high school. And usually from car accidents.

I never imagined when I wrote that way back in March that less than a year later it would happen again. One of my husband's students - one that graduated last year and is a freshman in college - was killed in a car accident last night. She was 18. If you want to learn more about Taylor as a high school student, here's a story the Boise TV station did on her last year when she won their Distinguished Student Award.

As a parent, my heart breaks for what the family is going through.

So other than phone calls, things stayed quiet around here today. I spent my time in the sewing room trying to finish up the Disaster Auction quilt. It'll probably be ready tomorrow, but today I did get my coupon holder done.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Day 318 of 365

My daughter uses words to describe herself like, I was a good girl and I worked hard today.

Both are true about her. She is a good girl. She likes to take care of people. She works very hard at her job. She calls her mom every single day (sometimes several times a day).

Both yesterday and today were several phone call days.  Even though she calls bunches, I still look forward to her calls. She calls me every day on her walk to work, calls me during her dinner break, and sometimes calls me after work. I hear about work, how things are coming along in her new apartment, what she's having for dinner, what she's frustrated with her boyfriend about.

Every time, at every call, I tell her the same thing before I get off the phone. I love you. Be a good girl. Stay out of trouble. Work hard. Wear your seat belt. I'm at the point where I feel like if I don't say those things, I'll jinx something.

Lately before she gets off the phone, she's been giving me a list of things she wants me to bring her way. Every day there is something else she wants added to the list. The list is growing quite long. The kitchen stuff she got for Christmas. A clock. Her full length mirror. Garbage can. A family picture. Dish soap. Cleaning supplies. Grocery sack holder.

While I haven't gathered all the other items up yet, I did get her grocery sack holder made. She chose the fabric from several options I sent her on the cell phone. Plain for my tastes, but just what the good, hardworking, seat belt wearing girl ordered.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 317 of 365

Compartmentalize.  

Merriam-Webster defines compartmentalize as to separate into isolated compartments or categories. Example: He compartmentalizes his life by keeping his job and his personal life separate.

Yeah, sure.

When I took this job, I thought I could compartmentalize things. When I was at work I'd think about work. When I was home I'd think about home. It hasn't happened yet.

When I'm at work, I think about work. But when I'm at home, I think about work. It's not like I'm not trying to keep my mind off of work - it's that it just isn't happening. A work-issued Blackberry doesn't help things, either. Seeing that phone with unread e-mails - e-mails addressed to me, e-mails that expect answers - makes me want to read them so I can get caught up. If I don't spend my days off reading and responding (and taking the time to find the information requested in the e-mails), when I get back to work I do nothing but catch up on e-mails. And I don't have that time in my work days for that - I have work to do.

Here's the lesson I'm learning about working part-time. ( I suspect part-time hourly wage folks don't have this issue, but I don't know for sure.) Here's what I do know - when someone is a salaried, yet part-time employee, it becomes difficult to determine what kinds of extras that salaried person is required to do on their days off. As a full-time salaried employee, it's a given that after-work hours can/should be spent on work-related activities. As a part-time salaried employee, it's also a given that after-work hours can/should be spent on work-related activities. But how many hours are enough? And how many are too much?

How many hours are too much? It's too much when I'm spending 2-3 hours on every single day I have off working on "work" things. I went into today thinking I wouldn't again get bogged down in work on a day off, but for the umpteenth time it did. Work came first, home came last. The time I had planned to work on the Disaster Auction quilt didn't happen. Sewing a grocery sack holder for my daughter didn't happen. Making a new coupon envelope for myself didn't happen. Work happened. And I've had enough.

I did squeeze out a few minutes to plant my amaryllis from yesterday's Target trip. Looks like it had been doing some growing while on the store's shelf.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 316 of 365

Today was a hard day for a picture. I had opportunities I didn't take.

I was at work a little after 7 AM this morning. (Just imagine how rough that one was on my body, especially with it being such a cold morning.) My first picture opportunity happened right before I got to school - proof that it really was a cold morning. The temperature showing on a business not too far from school showed 7 degrees. I had my camera out but there was a school bus behind me so I didn't snap the photo.

Then this afternoon I went to a store I haven't visited in more than a year, ShopKo. I'm glad I picked today to stop by. They had just marked their Christmas clearance down to 90% off. Aisle after aisle of ornaments, wrapping paper, and Christmas goodies. I was tempted to take a picture of all the things they had left, but shoppers were in every single aisle. I was also tempted to take a picture of all the things I bought at 90% off, but my bags were heavy on the chocolates (and I certainly didn't want a picture showing that).

I tried my luck at Target, but there were no Christmas items to be found anywhere. I did find an Amaryllis in a nice, heavy ceramic pot on clearance for $3. I considered taking a picture of it but decided to wait until it's planted. I like the idea of taking pictures as it grows.

I thought about taking pictures of the Chinese food I picked up for dinner, but decided against it. (Again, I didn't want a picture showing how unhealthy I'm eating right now.) I thought about taking a picture of the fortune: When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars. That didn't speak to me, so no picture. I wonder if it means the same thing as what my horoscope read today: Just because there's a wall in front of you doesn't mean that your journey has ended.

I eventually settled on a picture of something that is extremely rare this time of year. As I was sitting in the car, waiting for my husband to get out of a meeting afterschool, I was looking towards the mountains that are usually covered with snow. But thanks to all the storms going around us this winter, the air is hazy and the mountains are bare.