Saturday, June 15, 2013

The T-Shirt Quilt

One of consequences of losing a significant amount of weight is that you get a whole new wardrobe!  This is fun and exciting, but also means that you have to part with favorite items of clothing.  This is especially hard for me because many of my t-shirts that no longer fit were also souvenirs from some of my favorite places.  Pinterest provided me with the solution to this dilemna – The T-Shirt Quilt!

Back in March, over Spring Break, I decided to start this daunting project.  Prior to starting this I had a very limited knowledge of how to use my sewing machine.  I’d sewn a few things, but I still needed to look up directions for basic stuff like threading and winding the bobbin.  Advanced stuff like adjusting stitch length and tension or troubleshooting why it jammed every other second were totally out of my league.  In my head my quilt was perfect, but I was seriously doubting my ability to make it come out nice. 

I started the planning process by locating some directions online that looked good:  I also browsed pictures of other finished t-shirt quilts to get an idea of what I wanted mine to look like and in the process decided that I didn’t like the look of the t-shirts right next to each other and decided to add sashing.  I then had to find directions on how to add sashing: This pictoral makes it SUPER easy to see how to do it!

The next step was figuring out what fabric to use for the sashing.  This was harder than I expected because all the t-shirts were different colors and didn’t exactly go together.  No one buys t-shirts because they will look nice all together!


I spent a whole day going to every fabric store in the area looking for the “just right” fabric and couldn’t find it.  I had some ideas but none really worked.  Finally I decided to use a solid color for the long strips and a print for the setting squares.  I decided on brown because it went with all the colors of the t-shirts and reminded me of a nursery rhyme quilt that my great-grandmother had made for me when I was a baby.  I’d found an old flat sheet that I was going to use for the quilt back and it was a lavender-ish color so that’s why I picked the purple for the middles.  That and purple is my favorite color and I didn’t have much purple otherwise. 


After the supplies were purchased and the t-shirts were washed, I began the cutting process.  I’d purchased some quilting templates – they are heavy clear plastic that you can cut, but it’s hard.  I decided I’d start with 16 inch squares.  I was unsure of how precise I’d be able to get my seams and it seemed like a lot of math to caluculate a 1/4 in seam vs a 1/2 in seam.  I decided to just go with “bigger is better”.   Using my handy rotary cutter I cut 16 x 16 in squares out of the backs of all the shirts and then cut the interfacing into 16 x 16 squares and ironed the interfacing on. 


It took me a few tries to get the procedure down for the interfacing.  At first I was ironing in the hall and was worried about setting off the smoke alarm with the steam so was keeping the iron low and ironing directly on the interfacing – this was a bad idea because a few times the interfacing melted!  I finally moved the ironing board so it wasn’t directly under the smoke alarm and used steam and the interfacing went on much easier.  I used a very lightweight interfacing and it worked great.  I’m so thankful the lady at Joann’s Fabrics knew what I was doing better than I did!

After the squares all had interfacing it was time to cut the sashing.  This went quickly thanks to the rotary cutter!  My measurement wasn’t quite as precise as it could have been, but it was good enough!

Finally, it was time to sew!  The sewing actually went quickly and easily and soon I had a completed quilt top! 


As you can see, the quilt top is HUGE.  It barely fits in the open space in the basement. It’s laying on a king size flat sheet (just to protect it from the floor) and it barely fits.  I had to move the couch into the hall in order to have room to spread it out.  This was not good.

I thought about it for a little while and decided that it was just too big and I needed to fix it. 

I decided that I could cut the squares down to 12x12 and make it 4 squares by 4 squares instead of 5x5.   This would mean removing 9 squares from the quilt.  I decided that 8 of those squares I would make into a giant floor pillow to use in the RV. 

At this point it was very late so I went to bed and the next morning started in cutting the squares out and making them 12x12.  I made a new template and was able to quickly cut them down to a more manageable size.  I also needed to cut new sashing.  This meant that I had to go back to Joann’s to buy more fabric. 

Cutting the sashing was much easier the 2nd time – I was better with the rotary cutter and the edges were cleaner and straighter the 2nd time around. 

Once again sewing all the parts together went quickly (by now though I was a pro at threading the machine and winding bobbins and had spent a few hours trouble shooting why it was jamming and wouldn’t sew!) and soon I had a new and improved quilt top:


You can see how much smaller it is! I was also able to take out the pastel squares and the squares that has smaller designs to use for the pillow. 

The next step was to add the backing.  There are lots of ways to finish a quilt and I chose to use one that most people don’t use… I cut the batting and the back, then I made a sandwich – the quilt top, then the backing (right sides together) and put the batting on top and sewed around the edge then turned it all inside out – just like a pillowcase.  The advantage here was that all 3 layers were sewn together without binding it.  The disadvantage is that all 3 layers were sewn together on the edges, but not quilted or otherwise held together in the middle. 

The quilting part looked easy so I started sewing around the edge.  It went well at first but soon the fabric started bunching up and wasn’t laying flat.  I forged ahead.  The more I forged ahead the more the fabric bunched and the tighter the stitches got.  Finally after stitching around the outside edge and then the inside edge of the sashing and attempting to go down the middle I realized that I’d really messed up.  It looked terrible and there was no way to fix it. 

I was very frustrated at this point.  Almost a whole weeks worth of work ruined in a matter of minutes.  And, I didn’t know how to fix it or do it better.  So I started researching machine quilting and determined that I needed a walking foot for my sewing machine.  I ordered one and when it arrived I figure out to get it on my machine (remember back at the beginning I didn’t even know how to thread the machine! Now I’m changing the feet!)  and tried to finish off the quilting.  It still didn’t look right.  I decided that my problem was the quilting I’d already done.  It had to get ripped out. 

This was enormously tedious and boring so it took me awhile to do it.  

While I was procrastinating about pulling out the stitching in the quilt, I finished the pillow:





It’s HUGE, but I love it!  It’s great in the RV!  It’s also very lumpy – a huge box of filling wasn’t quite enough!  And it’s not sewn very well, but it’s ok!

Finally I got up the motivation to finish pulling out the stitching and re-quilt the blanket. 

This continued to be an exercise in frustration as even with the old stitching pulled out, pinned like crazy, starting in the middle, using a walking foot, I still couldn’t get it to lay flat and quilt nicely!  In addition the sewing machine was acting up and I didn’t know why (I suspect that it was because I was using the wrong size needle…). 

I eventually gave up and decided to just quilt around the setting squares and call it good. 

After I finished the setting squares I realized that now the back was attached throughout the whole quilt and that sewing along the edges of the sashing would likely be easy, I just needed to do it in small chunks rather than trying to sew whole rows, so I decided to try it.  It mostly worked.  It seemed to work best when I wasn’t going directly down each row.  It seemed to take forever to get all the rows quilted around and I eventually gave up and didn’t quilt the outer edge of sashing. 

Soooo….finally…after weeks and months of trying and trying again….the quilt is DONE:


From a distance it looks great!  Up close…not so much:


In the picture above – the fabric started bunching up as a sewed down the row so I stopped sewing.  No idea why it was bunching up, but it wasn’t going to lay flat.


This joint actually looks good – the edges are smooth and not bunched up, but there are threads everywhere and the sewing isn’t straight.


Another spot where the fabric was all bunched up!


But from a distance you can’t really see all that!  It may not be pretty, but it’s mine and I made it myself!  I’m ultimately ok with it – not entirely happy with it, but given the amount of frustration, work and learning, I believe that it came out great! :-)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Repurposed Rain Gear

I’ve recently lost a lot of weight and am in the process of purging clothes that no longer fit and replacing with stuff that does fit.  One of the many things that no longer fits is my North Face rain jacket.   I got a new rain jacket back in October and I’ve had the old one hanging out since then, not really sure what I was going to do with it.  Earlier this week I was preparing a Goodwill donation and I hesitatingly threw the jacket in.  But then I pulled it out – I just couldn’t part with it.  

See, I got this jacket when we were in Alaska in 2007.   It was my 1st ever RV trip where I had my own RV.  We’d gone down the Kenai Peninsula to Seward and it rained the day we drove from Homer to Seward,  it rained the day we went on a boat ride to see the fjords, and it rained the day Dad and I hiked to the Harding Ice Field.  Our 3rd day Seward featured no rain and that was the day we found the Outfitter and Dad and I decided that we needed more appropriate rain gear.  We both purchased North Face “100% Waterproof” rain jackets.  The jackets were identical except that his was blue and mine was green.  These jackets were not cheap and they likely had a huge markup because we were buying them in a tourist town in Alaska.  After the last few days however, we knew that these jackets would be entirely worth every penny. Within about an hour of our purchase the clouds began to lift.  A few hours after our big purchase the sun was out in full force.  We were joking that we’d each purchased a $100 “rain insurance policy”.   After Seward we drove up to Denali where we experienced the driest and clearest week of the summer! We saw Denali (aka Mt. McKinley) 6 out of 7 days.  That is simply unheard of.  Usually it is shrouded in clouds all the time.  That “rain insurance” paid off!

Since the day we hiked to the Harding Ice Field, I’ve carried my North Face rain jacket with me on nearly every hike and I haven’t had to hike in the rain on vacation since.  Seriously.  When I was in Maine in 2009 it did rain, but, only at night and on drive days, never on a hiking day.  And, it had rained every day for the 3 weeks prior to my visit. We spent 3 weeks in Washington State in 2010 and had 1 day with rain, and that day Dad and I went up in the mountains to hike and managed to get on the “dry” side of the mountain!  No rain!  A few snow showers, but no rain!  We spent 2 weeks in California with no rain, about a week in Maine with no rain, and a week in the Adirondacks where it did rain, but we were kayaking that day and didn’t care.  Soooo…I’m a bit superstitious about heading out without my “rain insurance”. 

I couldn’t just toss the jacket onto the Goodwill pile, but I also wasn’t sure what I’d do with it.  Then it occurred to me…make something out of it!  I googled and looked on Pinterest for ideas and found none.  That’s right, none.  Couldn’t believe it!   So I studied the coat and discovered that the back was a fairly large piece of material, and it’s durable, waterproof material too.  I decided that a little stuff sack would be easy and useful – I could store my new rain gear in it when I go hiking!

I’m not too good with the sewing machine (yet…my next project is a t-shirt quilt to so hopefully I’ll get better!), but a simple drawstring bag is something I can make!  I picked up some special “outdoors” thread – which was going to give me a chance to re-learn how to wind a bobbin and thread the bobbin and all that good stuff.  I also picked up a special heavy duty needle, but I couldn’t get the old needle loosened.

After I reviewed how to use the machine (thank you for posting the user manuals!) and got all my materials together, I was ready to begin…

Front of the jacket before I started:


Back of the jacket before I started:


The back, after I cut:


I just cut along the seams, however the arm holes were curved and I didn’t really like that, I was trying to get the “North Face” Logo on the bag though because it would add some design.   The whole back was also an odd shape and it was going to make a longer bag than I wanted, so I decided to cut the North Face logo off and sew it to the bag like a patch.

But, first I wanted to sew the sleeve for the drawstring.  I simply folded over the top edge and pinned it in place (the fabric is slippery and I didn’t want the pocket to get wider or narrower as I sewed!)

Here I am sewing the sleeve:


Here’s the finished sleeve:


After I did the sleeve, I picked a spot for the North Face Logo – it was random, I just cut it out and slapped it down.  I pinned the logo on and then sewed it.


The next step was to fold the fabric in half, right sides together, and trim the edges so they were the same size and then I sewed around the edge.  After I sewed it, I turned the bag right side out and it was almost done!


I attached the drawstring (a piece of nylon rope I got at Hancock Fabric) to a pipe cleaner to help me thread it through the sleeve and just worked it through.  When the string was in the sleeve I threaded my stopper on it (also purchased at Hancock) and trimmed the string.


And then the bag was done!


All ready for my rain gear! :-)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Snowshoeing in Shenandoah!

Last week we got a sNOw storm.  It was a NO storm here at my house, although we scored a snow day and a 2 hour delay out of it! Out in Shenandoah National Park they got about 2 feet of snow!

Even though there was a serious amount of snow in the high elevations, the warm temperatures (in the 50s on Sat and 60s on Sun!) were likely going to melt it away quickly so I wanted to get out and take advantage of it!  My snowshoes and I were out the door by 7 am yesterday morning – enjoying the last morning that the sun was up before 7 am too!

Driving out to the park I kept expecting to see snow, but there wasn’t any.  In Warrenton there were HUGE “parking lot mountains” (prob 20+ feet high!) where they had plowed, but other than that there was no evidence of snow.  I figured I’d see more as I got closer.   As I drove out 211 I could see that the mountains were covered in snow, but there was very little snow along the road.  

Even at the park boundary there was no snow…


That’s the park sign in the distance – and you can see, it’s not exactly a snowshoers dream come true.  There is a trail head just inside the park along 211, there was no snow there either:


I’d seen pictures that the park posted on Facebook that showed some serious snow on Skyline Drive so I kept going up the mountain.  It’s about 4 miles and 1500 ft of elevation gain between the park boundary and Skyline Drive and the difference in snow cover was amazing!

At Thornton Gap/Panorama the snow was at least 2 feet deep!


That’s the plowed part of Skyline Drive by Panorama (or what used to be Panorama – now it’s just a parking lot and an all season restroom).   I talked to a ranger later in the day and he said that there are drifts 4-5ft deep along Skyline Drive!  They have plowed it to Big Meadows, but they’ve only got 1 lane cleared!  What a big job!

I parked in the lower parking lot that is accessible from 211.  I was surprised to find that it had been plowed! I was the only car in the lot when I arrived at 8:30 am! The steps from the lower parking lot to the upper one, where the restrooms were, were not shoveled so rather than traverse them twice, I changed into my boots gathered my stuff and slogged through the snow to the restroom building.  It was quite deep in the part of the parking lot that wasn’t plowed and walking was tough, I was glad I had my snowshoes!  I walked up the plowed part of Skyline Drive to where the AT crossed.  My plan was to snowshoe up the AT to the Pass Mt Hut.  My plans changed slightly when I saw this:


That’s Skyline Drive, closed to cars and totally unplowed!  No evidence of plowing either! Just wide open, mostly fresh snow!  There were a few sets of snowshoe tracks, but plenty of untouched snow.  I was a bit nervous about heading up the drive because I was worried I’d meet up with the plow, but decided to risk it and go up just a little.  It’s a rare day that you can snowshoe Skyline Drive!


It was still early and the sun hadn’t warmed things up yet.  The snow had a nice icy crust on it that allowed me to walk right on top of it!  I was barely even leaving tracks!


In addition to the human snowshoer tracks I saw deer tracks and some very tiny little paw prints – I thought maybe fox, but the ranger suggested maybe bobcat!  I wish I’d tried to get a picture!

I decided to continue up Skyline Drive to the Pass Mt Overlook – it was about a mile in, and I figured I was safe from plows.  P1130014

Mile Marker 31, buried in snow!

Finally, I made it to the overlook:


At the top the snow had been blown around a lot and it looked like little sand dunes!


Also, there were spots with no snow at all!


From the overlook I could see Neighbor Mt and the valley below:

P1130027 P1130028 P1130029 P1130030

The sun was making cool shadows with the trees and making the snow glisten like it was covered with glitter, or diamonds!  Unfortunately, the camera didn’t capture the glitter…but the shadows are cool!


On the way down I had great views of Mary’s Rock! 


In November 2000, on one of my 1st trips to the park, I took pictures from a similar spot of a huge forest fire quietly burning the side of Mary’s Rock!  That was the largest forest fire in the parks history! 

When I got back to Thornton Gap I climbed up on the gate to sit and take a rest – snowshoeing is hard work!  Much harder than just walking! While I was sitting there a guy came along with his cross country skis, excited to get a chance to ski Skyline Drive.  I’d seen 2 other people skiing up as I was coming down. 

After a rest and a snack I was ready to head down the AT, back on my planned route!


By this time the sun was strong and the temps were climbing (I was wishing I’d worn a t-shirt!) and the snow was getting soft.  Not quite “slurpee”, but close.  It would great for building a snowman! I was glad there had been a snowshoer before me who broke the trail.  It was still slow going and lots of work. 

The sky was so blue! 


It was about a mile to the Pass Mt Trail, which lead to the Pass Mountain Hut – a 3 sided shelter for AT and other distance hikers to spend the night.  I was planning to go to the hut and take a break.  I momentarily reconsidered when I saw that going to the hut meant breaking trail.


I knew it was going to be slow and lots of work, but I decided that I had all day and it was beautiful so I should go for it!  It was only .2 of a mile and it was downhill (of course it would be uphill on the way back, but I could walk in my tracks!) I was surprised when I got to the hut and saw that even the fire road that leads to it hadn’t been touched!

It was fun, and surprising, being the 1st person to go down there after the big snow!  According the register book in the hut the last time a human was there was Mon!


Snow sliding off the roof of the privy:


After reading the register and having a snack I was ready to head back up to the trail.  As soon as I was leaving the hut I encountered 2 snowshoers coming down!  They were also amazed that I’d been the 1st one there and blazed the trail down!  I was glad they came when they did because they further packed down the trail I’d started and made getting back to the AT easier!

Like coming down Skyline Drive, the downhill park of the AT was much easier than the uphill!  Odd because when I’m hiking I usually hate the downhill!  I realized that the snow covers all the obstacles and provides padding if you trip so you can kind of run right down!

(As a side note, this time I did not face plant into the snow at all! Last time when I snowshoeing in WV I did a few times!)

I got almost back to Skyline Drive and really didn’t want to be done snowshoeing, but aside from turning around, there wasn’t really anywhere else to go.  I did remember that there was a fire road that was intertwined with the AT so at the next intersection I went down the fire road for something new.  It was more breaking trail, but it seemed easier this time!  I’m very surprised that even that close to Thornton Gap the fire road was fresh snow too…

All this breaking trail had caused the snow to get into my boots and my socks were soaked so I grudgingly made my way back to the car, but not before taking a break on the bridge on Skyline Drive to get some pictures of Mary’s Rock, have another snack, and chat with a ranger who was driving around.  


Now I have pictures of the entrance station from the top of Mary’s Rock and a picture of Mary’s Rock from the entrance station. 

When I returned to the Panorama parking area I discovered that it was jam packed with cars!  There were cars parked at every possible spot and more cars circling looking for spots!  There were lots of people throwing snowballs and frolicking in the snow! One woman asked me where I’d gotten my snowshoes, thinking I’d gotten them at the restroom building and she could get her own set.  I probably could have made a few bucks and rented them to her!  Lots of folks were heading up the AT to Mary’s Rock –you could hear folks on the trail from the parking lot! I was taking my time getting my shoes changed and reading Facebook, and enjoying the sunshine, when a car pulled up beside me and the lady says, in a very irritated tone “Are you coming or going?????”.  I should have asked her to repeat her request in a nice tone, but didn’t, I simply informed her that I was leaving soon.  She said she’d wait for me and back up a few feet and turned her car off.  Right in the middle of the road – she was blocking all the traffic.  ugh.  I decided my pleasant time in the park was over and it was time to head down.  I did realize as I drove off that I hadn’t changed out of my hiking clothes like I’d planned – the parking area was too busy to just do it and I hadn’t walked back up to the bathroom.   Luckily there’s a pull off on 211 and I pulled over and changed my cloths, while seated in the driver’s seat! 

Getting an early start was good – as much as I didn’t like leaving the park at 2:00, I was able to get to Wegmans and cook dinner and wash the sheets when I got home!  I’m also glad I got my walk in before all the crazy people got there!

I think this was probably my last opportunity to snowshoe this winter, but I’m already looking forward to next winter!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Funniest Day!

Since Leah and I put the sheets in the dryer this morning, but failed to turned the dryer on, I’m waiting up for my sheets to dry before I can go to bed and I thought I’d blog some of the hysterical stuff that happened today!

We went hiking at Manassas Battlefield and I’d been carrying her in the baby backpack.  We’d walked about a mile and I’d been asking her if she wanted to get out but she kept saying no.  Until she said “I have to go potty.”   Oh-no! 

She was wearing a pull-up (she’s had a few accidents lately, but she still uses the potty when she has to even with a pull up on!) and I attempted to negotiate with her to just use the pull up and I’d change it when we got back to the car.  She refused.  Said “I need to use the bushes.”  Ok then. 

I lowered her down, a little faster than I intended and she got scared, but as soon as she was on the ground she started cracking up! I then started trying to get her clothes off.  It was really cold outside so she was dressed in layers.  She was wearing 2 layers of coats, a shirt and 3 layers of pants.  The top layer of pants was overalls.  I got the overalls unhooked without taking off the coats and pulled everything down.  I then realized that at 3 she likely doesn’t have the finesse and aim that I do when I “use the bushes” and she probably couldn’t do it without getting her pants wet.  It was cold and I really didn’t want her to get her pants wet.  So I took them off.  Of course she wasn’t standing still – I managed to get her in the most awkward position – her head was under my arm and I had her mid-section on my lap as a wrestled 3 pairs of pants and a pull up off.  Of course I’d pulled them down already so I had to 1st locate the boots under all the clothes and get them off, then the rest of the pants. 

Now we were ready to learn to pee in the woods.  I modeled and taught the proper stance, however she pulled her legs a little far apart and didn’t squat deeply enough and pee went down her leg! 

She finally said she was done (after taking a few seconds to enjoy the breeze!).  At 1st I attempted to put the pull up and all 3 pairs of pants back on simultaneously.  This did not work.  The top pair of pants went on but the bottom pair got lost.  This is was starting to remind me of something that happened at Starbucks last summer (I can’t seem to find where Susan wrote about that…when I do, I’ll post it).  So I finally had to pull all the pants apart and put them on one at a time.  I got back to the overalls.  I didn’t want to take off the coats (the top coat has a tricky zipper that I didn’t want to fight with again) I managed to thread the left strap through the coats and got it snapped.  The right one was more of a challenge!  I had my hand on one side of the fleece layer and the strap on the other side!  I finally got them connected and got the overalls hooked! 

I sat back and looked at Leah, proud of myself and her for managing a bathroom break!  Then I realized we weren’t done yet, she still didn’t have her boots on! Luckily those were easy!

I told her she had to run to get warm again, but she didn’t seem like she was cold!?!?! 

After our walk we went to Wegmans.  She was getting tired by this point and less cooperative.  I knew what I needed and I know the store like the back of my hand so I was counting on this being fast! I put her in the basket part of the cart so she’d had more room – I felt like she’d been “contained” all day between the car seat & the backpack.  She’d clearly never ridden there and was unsure at 1st, but I think she liked it (Sorry Susan….). 

We made it through the produce section and zipped into the “Nature’s Markeplace” so I could pick up some coconut oil. As we zoomed down the aisle we went past a man who was looking at the shelf trying to decide what he needed.  As we went past Leah yelled “Watch out Little Man!”  I was simultaneously mortified and trying not to crack up.  I finally pulled myself together and said to Leah (so the man could hear me) “The proper term is ‘sir’, we should say ‘Excuse me, Sir’”.  He did smile at her as he past, I couldn’t even look at him.

One of the things on my list was some Always.  When I tossed them in my cart she yelled out “ISSA, WHAT ARE THESE????”.   I explained that Mommy would tell her in about 7 years. 

She proceeded to spend the rest of our time in the store playing with the pack of Always.  They were a pillow, a tray for the frozen peas, and most hysterically, a guitar.  The image of her sitting in the cart riding through the frozen food section playing on her maxi pad guitar, will always crack me up! (pun intended!)  She wasn’t singing though…that would have made it better!

On the way home I couldn’t stop laughing about our Wegmans trip and every time I laughed she asked why I was laughing and I told her it was because she was so funny and then she started fake laughing really hard, which made me laugh harder!

Before all this hilarity we had a few other moments…

At one point in the car she was saying “Hello, Hello, Hello!”  I asked who she was talking to and she said “Hello”.  I said “Who are you saying “Hello to?”  She said “Hello”.   Finally it came out that she had an invisible friend named “Hello.”

She asked about the sun roof, so I opened it and told her it was a window in the roof.  She thought that was hysterical and started talking about other stuff that could go in the roof…like a cow in the roof or a dog in the roof.  This thought process lead to her remembering the song “Turkey in the Straw”, which she knows 1 line of.  "”Turkey in the straw, turkey in the straw, turkey in the straw….”

On our hike was some deer prints.  She concocted a story about the deer that involved the Vikings taking the deer away.   How does she know this stuff? 

What a fun day! My sheets are dry now so I can post this and go to bed! I’m sure she’ll be up early….tonight’s the time change!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Biting off more than I can chew?

I usually spend Sundays cooking up yummy food for the week, it takes me most of the day, but it’s SOOOO worth it!  I’ve come to really love my time in the kitchen as well as the time and effort it takes to obtain quality ingredients.  Today, however, I was cooking up a Fabulous Feast of Fall Foods and it got a little out of hand…

1st up….a batch of applesauce.  Apples from the CSA fruit share, cut, peeled and put in the crock pot!


Next up were the beans for my Pumpkin Chili (I got a cooking pumpkin from the CSA this week and wanted to experiment).  Dry beans are cheaper and better than canned because canned foods contain BPA.  It’s quick and easy to soak/boil your own – just takes pre-planning. 


Finally it was time to tackle the pumpkin!  This pumpkin looked huge sitting on the counter waiting to be cooked!


It’s much easier to cut when you aren’t trying to salvage it for a jack-o-lantern! 


I was so excited that it all fit in the pot to steam!  I steamed it for about 20 minutes.


This next picture is after it was steamed, I know it looks the same as before!  The flesh was all cooked and it was super easy to cut the skin off!


While the pumpkin was steaming I whipped up some Egg Muffins for breakfast this week.  Usually I eat Steel Cut oats that I cook on Sunday and reheat but I have an insane amount of eggs from the farm so I made these.  I hope they are good!  I put mushrooms, broccoli, and green onions in each cup then poured in eggs, with a little milk (like scrambled eggs).


While the eggs were baking I cut the skin off the pumpkin and pureed it in the blender, here’s the finished product!  It was WAY more pumpkin than I needed for my chili (and I used double what the recipe called for too), so I put the rest in a seal-a-meal and froze it, I think I’ll make pumpkin soup in a few weeks!


Finally it was time for lunch!  I made this pasta last night, but it’s one of my favorite dishes these days!  It’s just left over veggies and pasta but it’s yummy! This time I sautéed some mushrooms, eggplant, onions, kale, and cherry tomatoes in about a tablespoon of olive oil.  I cooked the broccoli with the pasta and tossed it all together then put some parmesan cheese on it!


After spending a few hours cleaning out the closet and walking to Giant for more big trash bags, it was time to finish up the cooking! 

1st up was getting the chili started.  I decided to use my Polyface Ground Beef – soooo yummy, it doesn’t taste like meat & it didn’t smell while I cooked it!


While the meat was cooking the applesauce was cooling, I didn’t put any cinnamon in it, just apples in the crock-pot for about 5 hours.


This is a crappy picture of he chili, I meant to take a picture of it in the bowl but I forgot!  The corn is farm fresh as well!  The chili is yummy – the spices and the pumpkin give it a different flavor that is quite yummy!


While the soup was cooling I put together my lunch for tomorrow (this is what I’ll be eating most of the week – I have 2 all day meetings this week which mean I’ll likely eat out those days, boo.  I much prefer eating the yummy stuff I cook than going out!)

This is one of my favorite lunches – 1/2 a baked sweet potato with pecans & salt, salad – mix of 3 types of greens from the CSA (the red container has dressing – just olive oil & balsamic), fresh (still warm) applesauce with cinnamon on top & fat-free Greek Yogurt.  My snack this week will be Bosc Pears from the Farmer’s Market.


Finally, the last thing to do was to roast the pumpkin seeds.  I’ve never liked roasted pumpkin seed but I decided I should try – I could always throw them out after I roasted them!  I must not have had roasted pumpkin seeds done right because the ones I made are AMAZING!  I tossed the seeds with a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder, and a teaspoon of salt.  It took forever to cook them, but it was worth it!!!!!  YUMMMY!


Usually I don’t attempt this many big projects, but I enjoyed the whole day and I’m so happy I have so many yummy, healthy, clean things to eat this week! :-)