CGM Podcast Episode #54: Lazy Homework

Listen to the episode HERE

Show Notes 

Life Update:
  • 1st Grade Homework: how much is not enough?
  • I'm turning 40 soon! Celebrating in style at Houston Quilt Festival. If you're going and would like to meet up, email me!
WIPs and FOs:
Podcasts mentioned in this episode:


Book Review:

The Girl You Left Behind by Jo Jo Moyes

Thanks for listening!



F.O.: And Tango Makes Three mini quilt

This is long overdue, but I finally managed to write a short post about my Banned Book Week mini quilt.

And Tango Makes Three 
by Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell, and Henry Cole

This is a beautifully written and illustrated children's book about 2 male penguins who help each other in the caring of a baby penguin named Tango. A great way to introduce nontraditional families to children (and probably adults too!) it's consistently in the top 10 most challenged and/or banned books in libraries all across the country. 

I wanted to celebrate my admiration for this book, which is based on a true story - these 2 penguins are still alive and on display at the Central Park Zoo. Here is the Wikipedia page about them: Roy and Silo 

I used the cover of the book as my inspiration and pattern. My favorite method of fusible applique, a mix of hand dyed and commercial fabrics, allowed me to quickly put this little quilt (9" x 11") together. The binding strips were cut 1.5" wide and cut with a pinking shear blade on my rotary cutter, then fused onto the quilt.

If you haven't already, please stop by the Banned Books Challenge Flickr page! We have had some beautiful entries this year, and it's been fun seeing a love of books expressed in quilt form.



Banned Books Week Mini Quilt Challenge

Next week is Banned Books Week (9/22-28), a time when libraries, bookstores, and schools celebrate our First Amendment freedom to read while drawing attention to the harms that censorship does to our society and individual freedoms. 

As a self-proclaimed book nerd, advocate, and pusher...(yes, I have been known to meet people on street corners to hand over a book), it should come as no surprise I am also a HUGE proponent of Banned Books Week. Many of the books on the lists of banned or challenged books you will be familiar with, and will find it hard to believe that access to the book was challenged or denied. Some you may never have heard of, but may want to read in the future. The purpose of Banned Books Week is to keep the focus on just that: access to books for all.

Last year Sandy from Quilting For the Rest of Us blog and podcast and I issued a "mini quilt challenge" to our readers and listeners to show their support of a particular banned or challenged book being allowed continued availability and access for all to read. We opened a Flickr group for anyone to post pictures of their completed quilts, and were so pleased with the response, we are repeating it this year.

Here are a few of the beautiful quilts from last year:

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Made by: Carol (landscapelady)

Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
(Golden Snitch, Platform 9 3/4)
Made by: Marissa

 Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
Made by: Jackie (SewExcitedQuilts)

I will post more quilt pics throughout Banned Books Week, but for now I invite YOU to join us! Choose a book from the lists, and make a mini quilt to post in the BBW Flickr Group. Sandy and I will show off the quilts on our blogs, and for even more fun: GIVING AWAY PRIZES!!!! Books and buttons like the one I'm wearing in the picture above will be given away as prizes throughout next week. To be eligible to win sometime during the week, enter at least 1 picture of your finished BBW quilt by 9/28. (Prizes will be drawn throughout the week. However, to give everyone a "last minute" chance to enter and win, at least 1 prize will be drawn on 9/29).

There is still PLENTY OF TIME to make a mini quilt. Can't wait to see what you do!



Are You Freezing?

I like making things as simple as possible when it comes to meal planning. When you've got more than 1 or 2 mouths to feed on a daily basis, and some with pickier or more selective tastes than others, things can get rather complicated. I try and make a basic menu plan for dinner that I use as a starting point for my weekly grocery list. 

We have rather simple meals, mainly because cooking isn't my favorite thing in the world, and getting home right at 6 pm with 2 kids whining "Mom, I'm so huuuuungry" even after they've had a snack in the car, doesn't bode well for anything that takes longer than 15-20 minutes from prep to the table without a riot breaking out.

I recently did a freezer cooking afternoon (I mean, really, who has time for "all day" unless it's sewing or going to a spa?), and thought I'd share the meals I prepared in this post. In Part 2, I'll share some tips-and-tricks to keep the process as simple as possible no matter how many meals you're making.

Sometimes it is as simple as just cooking up (grill,bake,skillet,etc..) a bunch of meat to use in things like chili, tacos, and fajitas. Sometimes it takes more work like chopping, dicing, mincing, pouring, etc.. Regardless, I tend to freeze foods and meals that are easy (and relatively quick!) to prepare, so the whole process of getting 8-12 meals done is about 3-4 hours which I either bang out by staying up late one night, or when I have a couple days off like I did last week and the kids are in school....you do-whatcha-gotta-do to make it happen.

Here's what I made this time around (each meal serves 4. Click HERE for a copy of my recipes):

  • Crockpot Honey Rosemary Chicken (2 meals) 
  • Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken (2 meals)
  • Easy Chicken Stir-Fry (3 meals)
  • Crockpot Garlic Basil Chicken (3 meals)
...can you tell boneless, skinless chicken breasts were on sale?
  •  Lemon Herb Salmon (1 meal) 

Meals piling up!

In addition to the meals made above, I prepped the following meats (this took about another 45 minutes) for future use:
  • 2 lbs. of ground turkey cooked in a skillet with onions and green peppers to use in chili and/or sloppy joe's (makes 2 meals)
  • 3 lbs of ground turkey separated into 1 lb. segments, each mixed with 1 roll of Jimmy Dean sausage w/sage. I freeze each segment of turkey/sausage mixture into separate bags. These make easy (and delicious!) turkey burgers or sliders to throw on the George Forman when it's a little too nippy outside to stand over the grill.
I still plan to prep a casserole, 2 chicken pot pies, and preseason about 12 pork chops (3 meals) sometime this month (waiting for them to go on sale!). Just about everything above keeps for a minimum of 3-4 months, and I've been known to stretch it a few months longer than that.  

So basically instead of using every meal, every day of the week, they are rotated into my weekly menu plan once or twice per week. Sometimes we go a couple weeks without using any of them. Sometimes we eat them more than 2 times in a week...it all depends on how crazy it is around here. When you use your freezer meals this way, they last longer, you get more variety, and you don't have to half-kill yourself in the process, making you swear to never do it again.

In case you're wondering, here's what a basic menu plan using 2 of these meals looks like for us:

Monday: Leftovers from Sunday dinner (I tend to make a larger meal on Sunday, i.e. roast chicken or meatloaf) w/a vegetable
Tuesday: Crockpot Garlic Chicken w/ rice and green beans
Wednesday: Turkey Sliders w/sweet potato fries
Thursday: 10 min. spaghetti and meatballs w/broccoli and salad
Friday: Pizza (or soup and grilled cheese) and Movie Night
Saturday: Fend for yourself night...just kidding...kind of. We either eat out, bring something in, or eat leftovers. Because hey, Mom needs a break, and did I mention if it was just me, I would be perfectly content eating cereal 2-3 nights a week?
Sunday: refer to Monday parentheses

That's it! I change out several meals each week, using freezer meals or some other stand-by's like baked fish, penne pasta bake, and rotisserie chicken from Costco (which also makes great "leftover" chicken quesadilla's the next day) I'd love to see your comments on how you make meal planning easier. Do you freezer cook in 1 big cooking day, or do you spread it out over time like I do?


I'm partying with this post and others over here:


What I'm Reading This Month

The Spring 2014 advance reads are starting to pour into my office, so I am mixing a few of those in, while also catching up on the nightstand pile.

Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
(on sale 10/29/13, I am reading an advance copy)

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
(on sale 1/7/14, I am reading an advance copy)

 The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

The Girl You Left Behind by Jo Jo Moyes

What are you reading this month?



F.O.: Tinker Tote

I recently made the Tinker Tote, based on the pattern and Craftsy class from Tara Rebman. The outer panels of the bag are created using the Quilt-As-You-Go (QAYG) method, and it was a lot of fun using my scraps. 

The "fiddliest" part of making this bag was adding the binding around the straps. Tara demonstrates this very well in lesson 7, and what I liked most about the class was all the little tips and tricks she offers to make the process as simple as possible.

In a lot of the samples I've seen of this bag, the makers used a fun print for the inner lining. I chose to use a solid color because I need to be able to find things easily. 

While I really like this bag, it is a bit larger than what I normally carry for an everyday hangbag/tote. If I make it again I think, like several others, I would reduce the pattern size by 20-25%. All-in-all though, it makes a great tote, and I really like the QAYG panels to add some visual interest, while expressing what I love to do to others!



F.O.: She Art Mini Quilt #2

I made another She Art Girl. 

She's pretty dang cute if I do say so myself. I threw everything but the kitchen sink on some printed batik fabric (I think it's Kaufmann, but it's old stash so I'm not positive what line it is).

These are so much fun to make, and I can't decide if I like creating the background canvas using all kinds of paint, stamps, and textural elements, or making the She Art girls themselves and seeing their "personalities" develop. 

Or finding just the right quote that fits not only the Girl, but how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking at the moment.

I've been working on more of these Girls and I'll share them with you as I finish them. I'm getting better at the techniques and products used, and the ideas are flowing faster than my hands can stamp, scrunch, paint, splatter, and sew!

In the meantime, if you want to know the starting place for how I make these, check out the She Art Workshop from Christy Thomlinson. She is simply fabulous, and a HUGE source of inspiration.

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