Adopting a Daily Uniform

As part of making my life easier in the mornings I have adopted a daily uniform that is both comfortable and stylish, easy to put on and forgiving during the time of the month when I look more like a Oomp-a-loompa than a hot-mama.

I have written before about my love of sweater dresses, and it has not changed.. I think they are amazing and they are available in all sizes and price points. I get mine at both J.Jill ( pricey) and  Target ( uber affordable)  for the most part.

To mix things up I use different scarves and jackets for plenty of variety.. and sometimes I will even belt one of the dresses over a pair of jeans if the occasion calls for it. - Simple

This look wears as well for the 120 pound woman as it does for those who crest 200 pounds.. as a point of disclosure I am about 180 pounds in this photo for the sake of reference.

I wear tights with my dresses but leggings work just as well for those who don't like the feeling of tights. The cooler it gets the thicker the tights I wear and I honestly find them way warmer to wear than jeans which I find very chilly when the wind blows.

I currently have 8 sweater dresses, 4 pairs of boots and about 20 pairs of tights.. and  no worries about what to wear until spring comes.

What about you?

p.s. As a note, my journey is not yours.. we live in different places with different circumstances and needs. Here at D.A. I encourage you to find what fits with your life and makes you feel amazing each day and just hope to be a spring board to that adventure.

Quilt Show Confessional

Oh my gosh, it is Sunday afternoon and I don't think I have quite recovered from yesterday's trip in Atlanta to pick up the husband at the airport and then spending part of the day at the G.A. Quilt show. And if I were to be quite honest I would say part of this recovery is the recovery from the disappointment in the show itself.

I had been really looking forward to visiting the show and to see my quilt (Nevermore) hanging.. it did not get any ribbons but I did not expect it to either so that had nothing to do with my disappointment. 

 I was quite pleased to see multiple people spend time looking at it.. taking photos and one women even sketched it. Now hopefully they were not doing so only to feature it on " the world's worst quilt page' but if so.. such is life. I entered it to learn the process not to win. ( Yes true.. I have had never entered a quilt in a contest when I entered that one.. but then I have only been quilting for 2 years)

There were many beautiful and well known quilts hanging in the center gallery, most of them with prize ribbons and this is where I start having problems.

I commit the following words to  paper not without a great deal of trepidation. It is so difficult to express true meaning and nuance through this medium but I am going to try, please bear with me as I do so.

I am very new to the quilting world so am not privy to the secret handshake or gang-signs that are associated with this new hobby of mine. By and large I have loved the quilters I have met and each of them has talent that rocks my socks and I love to see what they are creating at any given moment. 

Where it gets sticky is seeing their quilts, quilts I have seen  many times in magazines and on quilting related TV shows ..quilts that have already won multiple ribbons ( and prize money) in other shows large national shows hanging in yet another show, and a somewhat smaller regional show at that. 

I want people .. hell, everyone to see these amazing works of art but in the same breath I want others to also have their chance in the sun. I am the sort of girl who wants all ships to rise on a positive tide and I suspect that when the same quilt(s) travels from show to show winning or placing very high in all of them that ships are not lifted.. in fact some of the smaller boats are sunk in sadness. 

I mention the sunk in sadness after talking to two women who are longtime quilters.. like 40+ years.. they no longer want to go to shows or to enter shows since they feel there is little to no chance for their work to be appreciated when these big name quilts are part of the competition.. this makes me sad. 

I heard similar thoughts expressed as I loitered around the show a bit ( yes .. I was eavesdropping) and while some found inspiration I would say a fair number felt more defeated than anything and that is not good for the long term health of quilt shows.

The flip side of course is that those who have created these awesome quilts deserve to have their work seen and many use the money won to finance the creation of their newest masterpiece so having the quilt travel to multiple shows is the best way for that to happen. 

Alas this cycle is vicious and leaves many others out of the joy when it comes to having a chance for their moment in the sun especially when it comes to smaller regional shows. 

The business of regional traveling quilt shows is big money and is controlled by a small number of  companies that make these events happen. Without them there would be few quilt shows past those sponsored by local guilds and yet when an industry catches it's participants by the short hairs this way there is little  to do unless they become vanguard of change thus helping all ships rise.

I want to see these stellar quilts.. I want others to see them. I want the quilt creators to make money in some way to continue their art or make a living wage ( as a note do not get into show quilting for the money.. even if you win a lot it is not a way to get rich) but what I don't want to see is the same quilts dominate each and every show they enter.

I don't know the answer but I suspect it has something to do with the quilt show producers paying the owners of these magnificent quilts a percentage based on show attendance and putting these amazing quilts in a show only /non-competing category of their own after they have won a certain number of awards or ribbons. 

Let their quilts be admired, and photographed and studied. Let them make money on their talent while still letting all boats rise on the positive tide that is quilting. 

What say you... is your personal boat lifted by your time at quilt shows?

Almond & Flax Gluten Free Cookies

I really rock the late-night cookie photo.

First off.. no this is not turning into a Gluten Free recipe blog - since honestly that would bore the pants off of me and really I have no issues taking off my own pants so why waste that on gluten-free?

But.. I do think I might have perfected my newest gluten-free cookie and I promised to share - so here we go!

Maddie's Gluten Free Cookies
Makes 24+ cookies depending on size and how much dough you eat ( come on you know you do it!)

4 cups Almond meal
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup butter- the real stuff
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4- 1/3 cup coconut nectar or 1/4 cup Agave
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Jelly of choice.

In mixing bowl, cream, butter and cream cheese, add eggs, vanilla baking soda and salt. Add in Almond meal, flax and coconut and nectar or Agave. Blend until well mixed.

Form into log, roll in greased wax paper and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. ( It will make 2 good sized logs)

When ready to bake set oven for 300 degrees and slice off rounds of dough about 1/2 inch thick. Use back of spoon to make a small well in the top and add a bit of jelly to center.

Bake for 15  minutes or until bottoms are browned ( tops will not brown as much).. remove from oven and let cool on tray.  At first they are sort of crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.. later they are more cake like.. but always quite yummy and easy on the tummy.

Give them a try and tell me what you think!

Goodbye to Pie Update- Week 1

Well it has been a bit  over a week since I jumped back on the bandwagon.. or more to the point jumped off the pie, and the bread and all other grains ( including rice and corn for now).

I thought I would check in with an update and to let you know that I have started a Goodbye to Pie Page here on the blog (look up top) or click HERE so I can post any super good recipes, or tips and tricks I come across during this adventure.

Overall even in these very few number of days I am feeling better. My joints are hurting much less and the 6-month pregnant stomach thing is going away.

While weight loss is not a goal for me on this ( really it should be but I just can't do it all) I have lost 4 pounds this week.. so go me!

Wheat Free at Home
Breakfast and dinner have been easy to deal with but I am still finding lunch to be a real challenge. Mostly I am just eating leftovers but  know that I will need to find some other fast and easy alternatives.

Wheat Free Away From Home
My next challenge will be eating away from home at the Aiming-Low Non-Conference at the end of this week.  I am braced for it to be an eating adventure and since I will be driving there I am taking some food as back up in-case I can't find anything there I can eat safely.

All tips welcome!!

Halloween Gift Bags

Tis the season of ghosties and goulies and long-legged thingies!- I could not be more happy! I love Halloween and each year a create a new project. Last year it was the Raven bags and this year it is all thing Oct-tober... get it?.. a pun! ( I slay me!)

Of course the image is from the Graphics Fairy and the lettering is my own.

To make these little thank you bags you will need any sort of little bag.

I am using the If You Care 100% Unbleached Paper Sandwich AND Snack Bags, 48-Count Packages (Pack of 6)  which are a super good deal at 48 of them for about $4! ( I buy the 6 pack for a greater savings since I use them for all sorts of stuff)

I had hopped to print directly to these bags but my printer will just NOT do it.. you might be luckier.

So in my case I printed out stickers on clear/frosted full page sticker adhesive paper from the office supply store. .

and since all of our new treats are gluten free we have stickers for that too!

We will be filling the bags with a variety of items and then sealing the tops with the Gluten free stickers.. easy-peasy!

Want a Oct-tober Treat bag print out of your own?? Oct-tober Treat Bag Printable

I {heart} Mummy Embroidery Design

Sometimes I just can't help myself.. I should be doing something else but then a idea pops in my head and I MUST do it... so was born I {heart} Mummy.

This is an easy design made for the 5x7 hoop. For the bandages you can use white grosgrain ribbon, actual gauze bandage or like I did strips of white fabric that were laying around my studio.  The fabric strips will fray over time and get even cuter!

I made this with the idea it would go on a black sweatshirt.. adjust your color choices if you go with something else. 

To start - hoop stabilizer and attach shirt with embroidery spray

Sew out steps that create the rectangle outline and the eyes.

When that is done take hoop to table surface and arrange strips of ribbon or fabric to cover the face in a mummy like way!

Don't freak out about this! Just make sure ALL strips over-lay the stitched rectangle.

Now lay a sheet of SOLVY over the  whole design and pin in place WAY out to the sides and top. The Solvy will keep your embroidery foot from catching in the strips.

Return the hoop to the machine and make sure to change to white thread and run the tack down.

After the bandages are tacked down remove hoop from machine again and trim very close making SURE to leave the SOLVY in place.

Return hoop to machine and using the SAME white thread ( it will now say undefined color) let it satin stitch around the border.  DO NOT TAKE OFF THE SOLVY

Run the last steps for the lettering and the heart... ok NOW you can remove the SOLVY

Tada! you are done.. how cute is that???

This embroidery machine design is available for sale at Fresh Thread 

Goodbye to Pie - Giving up Grains for Good

It is with mixed feelings that I am once again saying goodbye to grains and gluten.  Mixed since like most people I grew up thinking that grains were the backbone of a stable diet ( after all they were the base of the USDA food pyramid ) only to age and find out that grains in all of their various forms are quite possibly at the root of many of my health problems and at the very least the leading aggravent of my Type II diabetes.

I don't spend a lot of time here on D.A. dwelling on my heath issues but I figure it is time to come clean with the fact that over the past few years I have been battling some rather aggravating to down right serious health issues that have been taking a tole on what I am able to accomplish each day.

I am tired, I hurt, and I am ready for a change.

After my latest round of testing I finally have gotten to the point where I am not willing to just medicate my pain, blood sugar and rashes, I want to get to the root of them.

My tests indicated that I have a serious intolerance for wheat and gluten and further tests when they get back will decide if I have full blown Celiac Disease or not. But even if not I already know that many of my auto immune issues originate in a bag of wheat.

This all became quite clear to me when I started my family on this past Spring's Paleo adventure. The elimination of wheat and grains from my diet resulted in lost stomach bloat, greatly reduced joint pain and a lowered A1C along with weight loss.   But  we veered off course as summer progressed and wheat crept back into our life like a thief in the night.

This thief took as well as grave. It stole my energy but brought with it horrid joint pain, upset stomachs and a raised A1C .. and I am not talking about a lot of wheat here. I am talking maybe 1 sandwich in a week and possibly pizza every now and then... but it was enough and I am now paying the price.

Purging the Kitchen
Lesson learned... so today finds me back in a kitchen that has been purged of all wheat products for myself and  son14 who also shares some of my issues.In the end we did not have much, and much of what I did find was covert flour in many foods  but out it went! I have renewed my determination to created meals that excite and invite my family to this new way of eating but each will make their own choice on this matter but I will not be cooking with any grains for the next 30 days as a trial to see if this helps and puts me on the right track to healing my hurting body.

The Hidden Dangers of Gluten Free Foods
As a side note I will not be eating any of the ever growing variety of gluten free products on the market since while a God-send to some with Celiac most of these products come with their own demon.

You see when you get rid of wheat in packaged foods you have to substitute something and in most cases that is rice flour or cornstarch which actually raise the glucose of a diabetic even higher than wheat (!!).. so these are a no-go for me.  Honestly this is probably a good thing since I am one who does better with cold-turkey than I do lurking around the edges of wheat desire.

A New Way of Eating
I will be doing updates here on the blog and sharing new recipes, tips tricks and bread based emotional breakdowns on the D.A. Facebook page. Please come on over and share your advice and experience on giving up grains for better health!

Premosoft Thread- Better Thread, Better Piecing.

Premosoft Thread - The Works Collection

EDIT: Happy Day.. the folks at Fil-TEc have a code for you to get 10% off the Premosoft " The Works" kit the code is MADDIE 
When you start sewing for the first time you often buy the thread your mom or grandmother bought and while this can be a nostalgic choice there are now so many fantastic threads on the market that you owe it to yourself to give them a try and see how much a great thread can make you better at sewing and make your sewing look better!

Thread is a complex subject with people in all different camps. I fall into the camp that loves the advantages that technology has brought to thread production. Fantastic and consistent production that limits or entirely removes the issues of breakage and shredding.. yes sign me up!

That is why I am SO thrilled to share with you my review of Premosoft thread by Fil-Tec.

So you watched?... You gawked at my messy office?  You want to try some of the thread?  Ok.. like I said leave a comment telling me what you are using now, and why you might want to change. Then on Monday (oct 8th) I will draw for a lucky winner for a spool of Premosoft of your very own!

Oh and two things I forgot to mention.. Premosoft is made here in USA and for orders over $75 the shipping is FREE!  They have an amazing amount of other quilting, sewing and machine embroidery accessories making it easy as pie to make that total.

LAURA T you are our winner!  please leave a comment so I can ship your spool of thread to you!

* This has been a non-compensated review of Premosoft and the thread I am awarding the winner was bought with my own clams... see how much I love you people??

Sewing Room Organization

My head is a rather busy place so by default my sewing room is also a bit chaotic to say the least. Like my inspiration board above I collect ideas and projects like a magpie and often this leads to project overload.

One of my goals was to gain some ground in making my sewing room ( or studio) a wonderful place to be. And while many would have started with wall color I knew that I needed to tackle the issue of space, purpose and need before thinking about the millions of beautiful shades I could put on the walls.

The Problem
My sewing areas have been everything from the corner of the laundry room to the large but oddly cut up space that I now have for myself. While the location has changed my singular problem of being "multiple project piler" has followed me from space to space and I have learned that stock solutions are not always right for me so doing some personal analyzing was in order.

In my new space things were going better but I still had a few snags to work out.

1) I seemed to be incapable of having a clean cutting/project surface when I needed it.

2) A portable design wall was not cutting it for working on my quilting projects.

The Sewing Center Solutions - So Far

Check out that sexy unfinished drywall in the far left corner!
First order of business was clearing off my cutting table.. oh my was it stacked high!  (Sorry no photo, but just pop over to the Hoarders site.. anything there would be a great approximation.) 

I noticed that I had 4 canisters full of supplies ( blue pens, pins etc)  sitting on the cutting area and I knew I was always moving them around (read that as tipping them over)..  so they were moved off and in their place I installed a bucket rail from Ikea.

The rail is ideal since it is up off the surface of the table giving me more room to spread out my larger quilt projects for cutting or marking.

I will also be moving the photo of my Sweet Gabriel to a wall frame and installing a wall mounted light so that the surface will be totally clear.

Next up.. My new Design Wall.

How about you.. any sewing room challenges you are tackling this fall?