Embroidered Paisley Necklace - Take 4 Tutorial

While I have been really busy quilting and getting the boys ready to get back to lessons in September taking  time for a bit of handwork was a nice little break. As I mentioned last week this project was inspired by Jodi over at Sewfearless. She did a great tutorial for this so I am going to go rather brief on mine so if you have any questions please drop me a note in the comments section.

The floss I used was Cosmos that I bought from Bari J and the paisley bezel came from Hobby Lobby.

The stitches were an overblown daisy made to look like a fall mum, spiderweb roses and French knots. I really packed a lot of embroidery in a very small space to get that lush baroque look of a tapestry.

To start I cut a template out of some paper by laying the paper over the bezel and running my fingernail over the edge of the indent to make an impression line I could then cut on.

Next I used this template to mark a piece of gray linen with the outline and I then embroidered into that area in a random full way.

I used my template to cut a thin but stiff piece of tag board to fit inside the bezel. I cut out my embroidery and then wrapped and glued it around this piece of tagboard.

I then glued this into the bezel with some common crafting glue that dries clear.

I am loving this so much I went back to pick up a couple more bezels and have ideas for others!  How about you.. what would you stitch?

p.s. go ahead... Pin-it.. you know you want to do this!

Rustic Fig Tart with Orange Ricotta Cream - A Take 4 Tutorial

My love for figs borders on naughty.. I will eat them any time so of course summer is extra sweet since fresh figs abound and I am lucky enough to have many FWFT's  (friend with fig trees).

Last night I was really jazzing on the idea of a simple rustic dessert and with some figs on hand this was pretty darn easy.  The mixture of the rich ricotta cheese, the sweet of the figs.. the mellow buttery flavor of the puff pastry.. well it is just heaven. 

This recipe use about 20 figs.. 15 for the tart, 5 for the cook. (1)  Start by cutting the figs in half and sauteing them in a bit of butter and 1TBl of Demera Sugar until slightly soft but not falling apart mushy. Leave them in the pan to rest and the butter and sugar to thicken -

The filling is easy to make up -  mix together...1 small container ricotta2 eggsOrange flavoring or a bit of zest.Orange marmalade if you got it.. two big spoons full

(3) Open up the puff pastry ( Pepridge Farm in this case) that has been defrosted but is not yet soft, create a puff pastry shell by scoring a border on the the PP about 1 inch in on all sides, this will allow the pastry to puff up and make a lip so your filling stays in place. On a baking  place your dough square and prick the bottom with a fork. Spread ricotta mixture inside the border you scored. Then place figs on top.

Sprinkle crust with some sugar if you are of the mind ( I was) 

(4)  Bake at 400 until golden brown, check the bottom with a spatula to make sure it has a nice brown color.

Hot Weather Creativity - Paisley Embroidered Necklace

A hot Summer weekend, perfect for some indoor sewing and crafting. I had a hankering to do some hand stitching later this evening so I just pulled together some of my favorite colors of Cosmos embroidery floss, a paisley jewelry bezel and some gray linen ( not pictured).  This project was inspired by the sweet creative mama over at Sewfearless. Jodi stole my heart with her little pendant and this project will be my take on her idea.

My tiny 4 panel tutorial coming next week.

Why Debt Free Matters

Photo Credit Les Kertay

Someone asked me the other day if we were still doing that "money thing", I answered "yes" if you mean the debt free thing.  "Doesn't it get boring?" was the next question.

The honest answer is no.. it never gets boring to be debt free and work to maintain that status. It never gets boring  knowing that at any moment you are prepared for a lot of what life can throw at you. From needing a new ride to being able to not think twice about taking an abandoned sick puppy to the vet.

There is a freedom beyond measure knowing you can help a friend in dire straights without it putting your own monthly budget in jeopardy.

What is does mean is buying a used car ( for cash) when the world finances new cars like the Kardashian's go through husbands. It means vacations that are planned and paid for with cash and home remodeling is done in phases ( again for cash) and not with a HELOC or running up a credit card.

It means still getting weekly allowances and using cash for all  family purchases like groceries and fast food splurges.  ( No money no splurges)

It means putting money in devoted micro savings accounts (love these through ING) each month so that come Christmas all the cash is there ready and waiting and when property tax times comes the money is waiting for us, we are not waiting to pay based on scraping up money  and praying no one needs anything serious in the mean time. This feeling is priceless  and yet the work to get there is hard but it can also be one of the best things you will ever do for your marriage. Not to mention one of the best examples you will ever set for your children.

There are a wide number of ways to go about becoming debt free and learning to create and maintain a proactive budget and stick to it! Back when we became debt free we did the whole Dave Ramsey plan (Total Money Makeover) and it is the one I recommend when asked. 

This is not just something that can be done by those with a healthy income. I have seen single mothers with multiple children do this.. I have seen retired folks break their bonds of debt .. this is doable for everyone and anyone if you are willing to make the commitment to make it happen. It is hard but oh so worth it.

Thinking about being debt free?..  got questions?.. leave them here and I will answer if I can!

Sprouted Rice and Quinoa Salad

For me Summer is all about the salads. Alas my favorite salads are of the pasta variety and we are doing our best to avoid such things these days making the production of a filling salad a bit more of a challenge. This was sad.. so very very sad.. but take heart if you are also shunning grains like the Amish shun zippers and fancy buttons -  there is hope!

Come with me and enter the world of sprouted rice and quinoa!  ( click the links for all the great reasons)

Easy and quick to make these are powerful superfoods that while having a mild nutty flavor blend well with everything from savory to sweet.

In a salad they are filling, travel really well and keep nicely for lunch or a quick snack.  This recipe is my personal concoction so feel free to edit it as you see fit for your family/budget/ and eating preference.

I start by cooking some True Roots Rice and Quinoa blend ( I can usually buy this at Cosco but it is also at Whole Paycheck Foods and other organic friendly stores. I use 2 cups of the blend to 4 cups water, add a bit of salt.. then just follow the directions from there.

When it is done I dump it in a bowl and fluff it to let it cool down.  As it cools I grill  4 chicken breasts ( these are optional) I also throw in lots of red grapes, two handfulls of roasted almonds ( no salt), 2 big handfulls of Feta cheese 4 green onions chopped up. Dried cherries if you happen to have them are a wonderful addition but currents also work. 1 big handful of chopped cliantro. Good olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.. toss it up..  then when the chicken is ready chop that up and throw that in.  Keep in the fridge but pull out 30 minutes before a meal for best flavor.

This makes a HUGE bowl of salad which is just what I want in the summer since that means I will not have to cook the next day! :)

For all you summer salad fiends I added a Pinterst pin-it so you can keep this free range recipe close at hand!

Friction Is The Enemy of the Big Girl Runner

Today ends week 4 of my Big Girl Runs project... and today's training sucked!

Do I look like a happy camper?.. I sure do not feel like one. Today was not good but I did it and I suspect that is the important part.

 In the two mile loop that I am training on I am now up to running about 1/2 of it but still broken up into segments which given that I have not had any exercise in over 23 year is probably not too shabby ( or at least that is what I am telling myself!)

I am running a bit further each time with less gasping and "trout on the bank" breathing between so that is good.

My running bras are still FANSTATIC but I will be happy to a bit of cooler weather to get here so I can ditch the skort and wear longer  legged running shorts since these while very comfortable roll on my upper thigh and then my ever so attractive pooches of fat rub together.

I fear if I run like that too long the friction might start some sort of flash fire and that would not be good!

To combat friction in general I have been relying on a couple of products with good results.

Band-AID Friction Block   This is becoming my go-to product for combating friction both for my thighs as well as on my upper arms ( yep, big girl problem) I have also found it fantastic for use with my summer sandals and my everyday bras ( have not needed it with my running bras!). The only down side to this product is the small size of the container. I would prefer a large deodorant sized tube for easier application but otherwise.. love it!

Glide Anti-Chafe  This one I stole from my husband and was my first experience with an anti-chafe product and wow.. what a difference using one can make. And honestly it is not even just for big girls it is for anyone who gets spots that rub and irritate. The also make this one in a formula just for women but from what I can tell that just means they add a powder-scent to it. This works well, does have the larger size stick but the downside here is that I can only get it at the running store where I can get the other at my local drug store.

What products do you like to combat the dreaded friction and chafing?

Homemade Halftees - A Take 4 Tutorial

Summer is a wonderful time to really enjoy fun flirty dresses with the down side being that SO many of the styles make no allowances for wearing a supportive bra or being a bit more discrete at places like church or in the workplace.

The solution to this problem for many are cute and easy to wear Halftees  but these can get expensive if you need multiple colors or styles.

Sewing to the rescue! And now is the time with places like Target putting their summer t-shirts and tanks on clearance. I got the tank for this tutorial for a sweet $4!

Of course another great place to find candidates for this project is your local thrift shop. There you will find tons of colors to go with everything you own!

You will need:
1 tank top
Enough stretch lace or lingerie elastic to go around your rib cage
Sewing machine with zig zag or stretch stitch

1) Put on the tank and mark under your  breasts ( near your bra band) and then add about an inch. Mark at this location and cut off the bottom part of the shirt. 

2) Choose stretch lace ( harder to find) or  Lingerie elastic long enough to go around your rib cage less 2 inches.  Make a loop out of the elastic and sew it into a circle. Mark the circle of elastic at 4 equidistant points and then match these points up to the side seams as well as center front and back on the tank.

3)Using a stretch stitch or zig zag apply the elastic to the bottom of the tee by lightly stretching the elastic to meet the points as you sew around.  

4) To get the  lace to pull up a bit use a shot of steam from your iron and then let the garment cool.  As it cools reflect on the money you saved and plan to make another one!  This one took 14 minutes from trying it on till done!

With the length ending right at the bra line and the elastic to hold it snug this little crop-tee adds no bulk to the waist and yet adds coverage right where you want it so you can wear those cute dresses you have been dying to show off... I hope you love yours as much as I am loving mine!

The Importance of Pressing

A good pressing with light starch and a  hot iron can make the difference between "home made" and "Handmade" on most any sewing project as well as correcting hiding a multitude of quilting sins.

The side seam of the apron I was making was cut on the bias which is notorious for getting all funky wavy when being sewn, it is the nature of the bias-beast. But it is nothing that can't be tamed with  an iron.

1)Wavy seam - sometimes in the quilting world this would be referred to as "friendly"

Heat up your iron but keep it dry.

2) Spray the wave with a liberal amount of starch ( must be starch) and then gently pat the seam until it lays down flat. Starch makes fibers seize up and that will get rid of your wave!

3) Press flat - don't iron.. ironing goes back and forth.. pressing is up and down.. heat-lift-move-press again

Want to see how to work this magic on a wonky quilt block?.. you will be amazed!

Quilting with Glide Thread and Magna-Glide Bobbins

Fans of Fall - Original design by yours truly 

I quilt, more to the point I quilt on a longarm. While there are many kinds and each person has their favorite I am very fond on my Avante 18 by Handi Quilter.

While these machines can be a joy to use if you are using the wrong thread the dream can be more like a nightmare that makes you doubt why you would ever have spent so much money one anything let alone something that snaps thread and makes nests at every turn.

Bad thread makes for bad quilting so when choosing to use  a longarm or even to quilt on a domestic machine the thread you pick makes a BIG difference.

So far in my two year quilting adventure I have used quite a few different types of thread all with mixed results in different circumstances. Some were down right awful some and were all right but linted so bad that I could have stuffed a small toy on what I pulled out of my bobbin case each hour!

Some were beautiful but too heavy for many applications and others broke so often that I would cry in frustration - once so much so that I pulled the quilt off the machine and gave it to the dog to sleep on rather than finish with the particular thread!

So while I had heard lots of good things about Glide Thread from the ever hot and sexy quilting couple Matt and Bradie Sparrow I had to admit I ordered lite but with some hope in my heart.

 I had experience with Magna-Glide bobbins for my industrial embroidery machine and they are excellent so will admit to a glimmer of hope when it came to equal results with their longarming thread and M-sized  prewound bobbins.

My order came fast.. like 3 days fast so that was nice. What was even nicer was the colors and feel of the thread.. a nice quite sheen  and matching bobbins for much of what I ordered!

The white, cream blue and gray were purchased from their Maga-Glide Delights collection which has matching thread and bobbins in 52 or so shades the large cones were in the Brandy Rice collection and the colors are yummy!

Best of all this thread stitched like a dream, a real dream with not one bad spot or thread break for the WHOLE QUILT.  Not  a hitch with the Gray or the brassy color I used..  Fans of Fall ( seen at top) used 3 full M sized bobbins and a size 16 needle without a single hitch.. the angels sang and I am one happy quilter!

* I was not compensated for this post in anyway, just a happy camper quilter.

A Wonderful Week in Review- Friday Phone Flip

 ( This was suppose to have posted up on Friday.. Blogger seems to be napping.. better late than never!)

I love my smart phone.. there I said it!  No I don't play games on it but otherwise it keeps my life in order and  I would be lost without it!  Most of all I appreciate how easy it is to document my life, projects and special moments with the kids without the hassle  of having to drag the camera around with me.

I post quite a few photos to both my personal page and the Domestic Anarchy FB page  so if you want to keep up with projects I am doing on the fly please do join me over there since  I would LOVE to  connect with you over there as well as here.

This past week had me starting an art quilt as this years fair entry ( lots about that over at FB if you are a quilter). I casted on Summer Flies ( a tiny shawl wrap) in some Yummy MadelineTosh yarn. While it looks complicated in this heavyish weight yarn it really is pretty easy and yet keeps your attention in spots.

My quest for organization continues.. don't you just LOVE those dotty boxes.  I finished up a super soft quilt made of vintage sheets.. lots of over the top quilting on this one. You can see more of it up close over on FB. and  yes we are still running!  A little post run picture for our morning run.. don't we look hot and sweaty!

Hope your Summer days have been equally wonderful and productive!

Running With Five Bags Of Sugar

I am overweight, in fact by all charts I am obese and don't you think I LOVE typing that! Give or take a slice of pie* I weigh about 180 pounds and have been as much as 220.  It does not mean I am  sloppy, or lazy or un-creative but on my 5'5.5 frame it does  mean I am fat.

When I run ( or attempt to run- since it is about 1 minute at a time right now) I am running with  at least 5 bags of sugar strapped to my body.  That makes running harder than it needs to be for sure but I am doing it anyway.  

A lot of people wait to run until they have " lost the weight" well given that I have had a lot of this weight for 23 years I am thinking that I had just better start running and let the weight take care of it self.. no excuses.  Good shoes - yes, good bras - hell yes!  excuses- not any more.

Today was hard- we were rushed, two of us forgot our water bottles. There were some tears and a bit of cursing but we did it. Week three run #1 is done!

One Girl - One Goal

Want to read more about the my One Girl- One Goal experience so far?

Running Bras for Plus Sized Runners 
Big Girl Runs - One Girl - One Goal

Running Bras for Plus Size Runners

Today celebrates the third run/walk of my second week of training ( Go me!). I have made some major progress in just these two weeks. I have gone from looking like a dying trout with a tragic post run gasp for air to one who can actually speak just moments after running.. which of course means I need to kick up the amount I am running!

Besides shoes for running ( which I am going to talk about since there are more considerations for bigger girls) the next most important piece of clothing you will purchase is a good running bra.

Gracious knows that you can find running  or "sports" bras just about anywhere but honestly most of them have  about as much support as an ex-husband and they give out just as quick as well!

Fiona in pink

While not all big girls come with big chests many of us do and this makes finding the right support critical for breast health and running comfort.  This comfort and protection comes at a cost but given the cost of other running gear a $40-$60 bra is a small investment given all that it is doing for you.

My running adviser at Fast Break Athletics in Chattanooga TN  turned me on to Moving Comfort Sports Bras. I was suspicious at first, the bras looked well made but simple, too good to be true - but she assured me  I would love it as I went to the dressing room.  Oh happy day a bra engineered for support that really goes the distance, I really did love it!  In fact I loved two different style from Moving Comfort.

On my visit to Fast Break I purchased two bras.  I knew one could be drying while the other being worn and that switching them out along with proper cold water washing and air drying would greatly extend the life of my bras

My first try on was the Fiona with it's fantastic and easily adjustable straps as well as back closure and NON-racer back style. ( I know I am in the minority here but I find Racer back bras uncomfortable on my neck) Simple molded cup area means no seams on the inside to rub or irritate. Excellent coverage both in front and under the arms.. this bra has it all.

Fiona is also what is called a high-impact bra in that it is made for really moving. I can testify that as a 40 DD this bra supports so well that I don't feel any breast movement at all.  I would say that the only down side to this style is that with it's superb but comfortable compression it can give a bit of a uni-boob look but for such comfort and support that is a pretty easy trade off if you are only wearing it while running.

 My next Moving Comfort bra is the Maia which combines underwire support more shaping ( less uni-boob) and a slightly padded cup ( no nipple show through) into high impact running bra that is totally comfortable.

Honestly this one had me more baffled than the first.. underwire?.. comfortable?  YES... in fact let me get on a roof top somewhere and yell that.. YES!!!! the Maia is fantastic and also a back closure bra ( luv!)

This bra actually has a cami as part of the design making it modest as well as adding more support. I mean I am not one to shun showing some cleavage but when running I like to keep things in their place if you know what I mean!

So two weeks and both I and "the girls" are happily running 3 days a week - One girl, One goal!

Next time- Chafing, and  summer misery solution!

Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters - A review

Today I am very excited to be sharing with you a book that I think it a must have for the modern quilter who is looking to expand their notion of what quilting should and could be.

Free-Motion Quilting with Angela Walters: Choose & Use Quilting Designs on Modern Quilts  is an amazing new book that brings to life what has been missing in a lot of the efforts put forth from the modern quilting movement.

The fact is that while I like quite a bit of the improvisational piecing that has been part of the MQM the quilting on these quilts has really lacked the punch it takes to really make them spectacular.

I know.. heresy.. but there I said it.. for the most part the thing most lacking in the modern quilting movement has been the quilting!.. But no longer! - with Angela's new book there are 28 new ways to approach the modern quilt or even add some real sparkle to a traditional quilt that needs to be livened up!

Angela's new book is put out not only in softcover but in digital ( by CT Publishing) as well so soon as I saw it I was able to purchase it and I was reading within minutes. ( The digital  book does require a specialized file reader but that is easy to download as well. )

This book is laid out simply enough with clear easy to view photos and Angela's relaxed and friendly style showing through the whole book. With ideas that work for both the longarm and freemotion domestic sewing machine I can't think of any quilter who would not get something out of owing this book.

I especially like how she has taken some of the basic piecing styles ( logcabin, chevron, negative open space etc..)  and given suggestions on how one might view them in a new light and how to THINK about your quilting in a new and fresh way.

Totally a must have!

The quilt I did  based on some thoughts I gleened from Angela's book .

Sew It All Magazine - 3 Times the Fun.

I love magazines in general and sew magazines even more!  Do you know Sew It All magazine? - if not you need to. With cute projects that are just right for those new to sewing and quick inspiration for those with more experience this magazine it a lot of fun. And I would say that even if I did not have a double feature in this months issue!

To celebrate my tutorials in the current issue of Sew It All magazine I have a treat for you! In fact I actually have THREE treats for you. I will be giving away 1 issue of Sew It All Magazine, and in addition I will be giving away the two featured projects! ( Beach Bag and Linen Table runner)  Are you excited?  Three chances to win!

This is simple, leave a comment here telling me what sort of projects you are working on these days and then watch for the winning announcement over the D.A. Facebook page.. simple huh? ( No hoop jumping here,  I can't stand the whole click here, lick that, walk three spaces to the South at twilight to win sort of events!)

Winners will be drawn next week!!