It’s a Finish! 9-Patch Pizzazz

he retirement party was yesterday and the quilt has been gifted, so now I can post the pictures.

No, as I’ve said before, quilting is not like riding a bike. I made just about every rookie mistake I could have on this puppy but I persevered and, eventually, things started flowing again. Mostly, I got ‘er done!

This is the 9-Patch Pizzazz technique by Judy Sisneros. It’s a great way to use large scale fabrics, and it’s also a design that leaves a lot of room for your own sense of color and artistic layouts. This is the second one of these I made, and I may make more in the future. The part that takes the longest is deciding on your layout.


Before I sat down to quilt it, I pulled out a muslin practice quilt sandwich and ran myself through a FMQ design that I used to do, just to see if it was going to give me grief. Surprisingly, this was the part of quilting that was like riding a bike! I immediately got back into the rhythm and movement. I have to say my practice sandwich wasn’t half bad!

That made me feel a lot more confident about quilting the whole quilt. 

I had some difficulties with batting. I didn’t have any big enough in batting bin (and not enough scraps of any one kind to be able to stitch pieces together for use), so I made a quick run to Joanns. This is where my being-out-of-the-game came into play—I couldn’t for the life of me remember which brand of cotton batting I used to like. I prefer cotton to poly as I like the drape and the “antique” look you get when you wash it. Batting was on sale so I chose Mountain Mist—and bought three bags of it so be prepared for another couple of quilts I want to finish. When I got home and started spray basting it to the backing, it gave me no end of grief. It was super thin—almost see-through in some places—and as I tried to smooth the wrinkles out of it, it just keep stretching, puckering, and getting thinner. I was afraid I was going to pull right through it.  

After about a half hour of monkeying with it, I finally gave up, ripped it totally off the back, and decided I’d have to go back to Joanns again. This time I picked up a poly batt, then one Warm and Natural cotton batt to work with later. Looking at it more closely, I’m pretty sure that’s the one I used to use—it’s much sturdier than the Mountain Mist but still really drapable.  

Anyway, the poly batt went down beautifully and I had the entire quilt basted in about 15 minutes this time. Go figure. 

Once I had it under the needle, the quilting went really well. I’ll talk more about that on my next podcast episode. Meanwhile, here’s what you’re really waiting for... 

(The pictures automatically transition every 4 seconds. You can use the forward and back buttons to go through it faster/slower. If you're viewing this in a blog reader, you may not see the pictures--just go through to the web version.)

Thinkin' about it Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • how much Auggie is enjoying watching the Olympics.
  • that I've never had a TV-watching doggie before. 
  • how sometimes I question his taste in shows (although we do agree on the Olympics).

  • how great it feels to be sewing again--and I got a UFO done! (Pillowcases for one of my great-nieces, as I'm doing a quilt for her baby sister.)
  • that it was also great to have something for show n' tell this week at guild (although I haven't shown it here on the blog yet as it's a gift so it's under wraps until it's gifted).
  • how I'm glad I thought to bring my four bags stuffed with books to guild, free for the taking; I came home with only two bags. Woo!
  • that I need to brush up on FMQ now to finish the gift in time for the giving.
  • how I'm positive I'll be getting my Cotton Cuts and Sew Sampler boxes soon and it's like waiting for Santa.

  • that, even though I refuse to knit or crochet, it's nice to have friends who do! Thank you to @sarahinhouston for making me this adorable little sloth! He's perched on my sewing machine and actually stays put while I sew. (I haven't named him yet. Suggestions?)

  • how much fun I'm having now that I'm 95% done with school
  • how I've finally joined the church choir like I've wanted to for years
  • that I love being part of something at church that doesn't depend on my presence so I can travel for work and know that the choir is just fine without me.
  • how much I realized I missed singing in a choir as soon as I started singing in one again.
  • how it even got me inspired to finally take my flute off the shelf it's been sitting on for probably 15 years or more.
  • that, although the flute needs some serious cleaning now, and I've totally lost my embouchure (my lip strength), I actually didn't sound half bad when I played a little at lunch time.
  • that I might sign up for a few lessons just to get me rolling again.
  • how good it felt to be playing even as I was wincing at missed notes and slow fingers.

  • how nice it is to have a grand-kitty I can cat-sit while his mom is away on vacation.
  • that I have an endless "animals on parade" in my house for a week: Nikola (the cat, as in "Tesla") is fascinated by Spencer (Princess Doggie) and follows her around everywhere. Princess Doggie wants none of it, so she keeps trying to get away from him. Aug-dog is fascinated by Nikola so follows him everywhere. Nikola doesn't really want to have anything to do with Aug-dog so keeps moving away from him. There goes Princess Doggie with Nikola following, and Auggie coming behind. It's all very civil and quiet--no chasing, hissing, or spitting. But it gets tiring to watch! 

Wardrobe Wednesday--Natalie Attired

I'm trying out a new clothing subscription service! 

I had never heard of Natalie Attired before seeing it on another YouTuber's unboxing video a few weeks ago. When I looked into it, I decided it was worth checking out.

Natalie Attired works much in the same way as StitchFix. You set up your account and fill out a style profile. You can choose how often you receive your boxes, and you can change it on the fly as needed. You determine your price range for each type of item. The $20 styling fee is discounted off the price if you purchase one or more items, and you receive an additional 20% discount off the total cost if you purchase all five items in a box. 

When you get your box, you have three days to return them, and they provide a postage-paid envelope that you just stick right in your mailbox. Can't be easier. You give them feedback that they then take into account for the next box. 

I was intrigued by the fact that the style profile was more extensive than StitchFix's, and I was able to put in my color analysis results. As I reference in the video, although I've been very happy with StitchFix, I've noted that in the year I've been getting Fixes, I haven't really ever gotten anything I could call "bright," and I love bright. StitchFix leans towards darks and toned colors rather than jewel tones or brights. I want a mix in my closet. 

So--here's the unboxing and try-on, with my first impressions. Below the video I'll give some follow-up information. (To speed through, use the scrubber button at the bottom or watch it in YouTube to use the double-tap-30-second-forward trick.) 

All in, I really liked my first time out of the gate with Natalie Attired. I'll definitely be getting more boxes. The communication in the box itself isn't quite as good as StitchFix's. Although it's a nice personal touch that it looks handwritten, it was a little hard to read and I didn't get as much information as I do from my StitchFix stylist. They also don't have the styling card that StitchFix includes. I rarely use the styling card when I'm putting together an outfit, but it's nice to get ideas. The price list is also a little more standard-invoicey; StitchFix's looks nicer and is a lot easier to read and interpret. 

All of those are quibbles, however. More substantial differences are probably due to the fact that Natalie Attired is still the new kid on the block. I think they've only officially been launched about a year or two--they were a crowdfunding campaign prior to that. There are very few reviews on YouTube whereas StitchFix, Trunk Club, and Wantable are all over the place. 

Natalie Attired doesn't carry shoes yet. Natalie Attired also doesn't seem to have handbags/purses/totes yet, although that's hard to tell as it's not something that would necessarily show up as a style profile question. I love the bags I've gotten from StitchFix. I've basically stopped buying my own bags and just ask my StitchFix stylist for what I need. Natalie Attired does have a question about jewelry on the style profile so I may get some in the future. That's something that's always a win for me from StitchFix. 

I noticed that four out of the five items I got were all the same brand: Tribal. That's probably because I noted my boho chic preference. With StitchFix, although I see some brands frequently through my boxes, I don't know that I've ever had one box so completely immersed in a single brand. Again, it could just be that Natalie Attired is working up its sourcing, and I certainly liked all the pieces I got, so I'm not arguing! 

I tried everything on for my husband this evening and he confirmed my thoughts. I’m keeping the red shell and the red floral tunic—everything else is getting sent back. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the next box! 


Cotton Cuts Mystery Quilt--Month 1 Done!


You may recall me mentioning awhile back (and on my podcast episode too, I believe) that I'd signed up for the mystery quilt available through Cotton Cuts. I had in my head that I wouldn't get it until the middle of February but it shipped on February 2nd and I got it Monday! 

I didn't have anything on my schedule Monday evening and had already planned on spending some time sewing. I confess to some "Squirrel"ing, however, as I really should've been focused on the 9-Patch Pizzazz (aka 9PP). However, I was excited to break open the Cotton Cuts bright pink padded envelope, plus I really don't want to get behind in this thing, so I sat right down and got to it.

As you can see from the photo, the first month included a pattern page, the die-cut pieces, and a little package of doo-dads.


At first glance, I thought the doo-dads were embellishments for the quilt that I'd have to put away and keep track of. Then I realized...wait, they're snackies!

And very tasty, too, especially since I was doing all of this in the hour before dinner. Ahem. They're like little slices of fruity candy-canes. Yum.


Anyway, back to the sewing. This mystery quilt BOM is all pre-cut. All you have to do is follow the directions to put the blocks together. It's about as fool-proof as you can get, although I did still manage to have to do a little reverse sewing a couple of times. I'm rusty. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

They provide this very handy swatch sheet to use. Since there were something like 12 possible colorways, this allows us to all follow the instructions easily. They only send this swatch sheet once, though, so they warn you to make sure to keep track of it. 

I chose the Portofino colorway, which makes me #teamportofino. Woo--I'm on a team! I love these colors even more in person than when I chose them on the website. This is going to be so bright and cheery.


And here are my finished blocks for month 1. 

All in, it probably took me about an hour, including the reverse sewing. I had to unstitch one set of half-square triangles because the stacks of fabric pieces were obviously packaged "as-is" from when they were die-cut. In other words, each stack had one piece right-side up followed by the next piece wrong-side up, then right-side up, wrong-side up, etc. I noticed it on the print fabrics right away as they're really obvious which side is which. I had already sewn one of the background pieces in wrong-side up, though, before catching myself. It's a tone-on-tone and not as obvious...until you do it wrong. The other unstitching was just because I didn't like the way one of my long strips had gone on. I knew I could do better.

Boy, it felt good to get one "assignment" for the month done. And this one wasn't even on my list! Now it's back to the 9PP.

Mojo Monday—Feb 4

(Oops. I meant to schedule this for posting Monday morning but I accidentally clicked "save and publish" rather than "schedule." Sorry!)

My goals for last week were:

  1. Finish piecing low-volume quilt.
  2. Finish cutting fabric for scraps.

I’m at a solid 50% for this week, but I threw in an extra so I’m not sure what grade that would give me.

I got all the blocks done for the 9-Patch Pizazz (aka “low-volume quilt”), but it’s still on my design wall. I had hoped to get to it this weekend but I had some finishing touches to put on the thesis and every time I got close to being done I found another set of things I needed to double-check. Oi. It got submitted for the second format review on Sunday night, though, so now I don't have to think about it for a few days. The quilt has definitely moved into priority this week as the deadline for gifting it looms!

I did, however, finish cutting all that fabric for scraps. That felt good. My cutting table was completely clean for a few days although, admittedly, they were mostly days I was out of town.

Getting some cuddles from my newest great-niece! 

Getting some cuddles from my newest great-niece! 

I was gone Wednesday through late Friday night. Saturday we were hosting my family for a very late, semi-Christmas gathering. No gifts, just getting together and playing games. It was all very casual but there was still cleaning to be done and snackies to shop for and lay out. You’ll hear a little more detail on this in another blog post due to another subscription box review I want to share—a fun one!

I had a couple of hours on Saturday morning before we started all the prepping. I went into my sewing room/office intending to just lazily browse through my jelly roll books and start thinking about what quilt I might want to start when I get these February-marked quilts done. But then I got looking at my bookshelves and suddenly had a rush of energy to deal with them. I pulled every book off my shelf and made myself make some hard decisions: Sure, I like this book in theory, but how long has it been on my shelf? How many times have I passed it over in favor of other projects? How often do I find the information in it on the Internet instead of going through my books to find that one technique or that one helpful tip? Was I hanging onto it for purely sentimental reasons? (I still had a lot of books I’d taken from my Mom’s library after she passed.)  The end result?


89 books are leaving me.  

89 perfectly good books, with a lot of great inspiration, are going to be taken to my May guild retreat and put in the silent auction.  

89 books will hopefully now provide great inspiration to others who may actually use what’s in there.  

89 books are making the sacrifice to lighten my load, help me feel a lot less guilty about seeing things on my shelves that I don’t actually use.  

Now—before you think that I now have a tiny little library, I'm including a picture of what my quilting bookshelves look like now.  I should’ve taken a before picture. They were crammed full. Not only did I have difficulty seeing what I had, but trying to pull one book off without an avalanche was a trick!


Clearly, I still have a pretty decent library. But now it reflects things I’m actually doing, books I actually use as reference. For example, I still love the Rodale collection on my top shelf—I got them from my Mom and they’re hard to find nowadays so those will stay with me.

And the bottom shelf of binders? Those were all crammed into my other set of shelves which is mostly office-work related. It feels good to have them where they should be.

I still kept a lot of books I’ve owned for a long time and have never used, but they’re books I SHOULD be using. By cleaning out the stuff I don’t use, the ones I have left are much more prominent and easy to access.

Here’s something I learned from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: Books like these represent mental promises I’ve made to myself. “I love this book! I’m going to make quilts from this book!” When the book then sits on the shelf for years, it becomes a symbol of broken promises. It now brings with it guilt, regret, a sense of obligation...because of those promises I once made to myself, consciously or unconsciously. By being brutally honest with myself and saying, “Great book, but I will NEVER actually make those quilts,” I was able to release myself from a whole lot of mental baggage.

Here’s another something I learned from David Allen: I’d known for a few years I really needed to do a serious de-stashing of my library and my fabric. But I kept thinking, “I should figure out a way to sell all that.” There’s always the sense of feeling less guilty about getting rid of perfectly good stuff if we can get something back of our initial expenditure. The reality is, however, putting into an equation the amount of money I’d actually have made against the amount of time and energy it would take me to make that truly would have ended up in the negative. And it was stopping me from actually taking care of the problem. You have to be realistic about what you can actually do. By figuring all that money spent was so long ago as to no longer really be relevant, I was able to just clean house. My earnings will now be in making other people happy with what they get from me for free. And that’s good enough for me. 

I’m sharing all this with you in case you find any of it helpful in thinking through your own stuff! 

Goals for this week: 

  • Get all those books off my cutting table. Maybe I won’t wait for the May retreat. Maybe I’ll take them to next week’s guild meeting to start getting them out of my house. 
  • Really, truly, finish piecing the 9-Patch Pizzazz. Maybe even get it sandwiched. Wouldn't that be a kick?


Stash Report--January

I missed posting this on the 31st as I was out of town. A couple days late doesn't matter!

In the month of January, I:

  • Donated 41 1/2 yards of fabric (or, at least, set aside to donate as the donation step is a few months off).
  • Used 0 as I was working on quilt I'd started in December so it doesn't technically count.
  • Bought 20 @ 10" squares = approx 1 1/4 yards (Sew Sampler), 3 yards (Cotton Cuts), 1 Jelly Roll = 2 3/4 yards (Missouri Star Quilt Company), 9 yards of no-immediate-plan fabrics* (Mt. Pleasant Quilt Company). Total additions: 16 yards

Net: Still down 25.5 yards!

*If you recall, I'm not counting fabrics I had to buy for a project that will get used within a reasonable time period.


Mojo Monday Part 2—Hunting and Gathering

With thanks to Jaye of artquiltmaker fame for the phraseology...


I had planned to spend a lot of Saturday sewing but, while I was still caffeinating first thing in the morning, I got this text from BFF/BQF Katie. 

Who am I to say no? 

So (after a quick slog down of the rest of my coffee and getting myself prepared for public viewing, and some quick measurements of WIPs), off to the quilt shop—Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company in York, NY— I went. To move most of my UFOs forward, I did need to engage in the "hunting and gathering" phase for borders in a couple of cases, and backing in all cases.

I dropped an inordinate amount of money. But with the 25% off sale, I saved a lot from what I would’ have had to spend eventually anyway. I could piece backings from stash but I hate doing that. Once I get the top pieced, I want to move on as quickly as possible to the finished product. Plus, I generally do try to coordinate my back with my front in style and color. Frankly, backings are my least favorite part of the entire process, hands-down, so whatever I can do to expedite that part, I do.  

Grand total, I got what I needed to complete five projects. So I rewarded myself with a little extra.  

By the way, I’ve decided not to count fabric needed to complete current projects (backings, borders, etc.) in my stash-in-stash-out count. I always “shop my stash” first, but if I don’t find what I need, I have no choice but to purchase. If I didn’t buy it, I wouldn’t finish the project, and it’ll get used as quickly as possible. So I’m only counting the fabric I didn’t actually need in my stash-adding total. That blog post happens in a couple of days. But, on to the pretty pictures.


This will be the backing fabric for my current 9-Patch Pizazz project. It’s from the same line as the focus fabric I used on the front—in fact, it’s one of the two companion fabrics I used. I rarely stay matchy-matchy like that for my backing (I coordinate, but I don't always use fabrics from the same line) but since I had so many projects I was purchasing for, when I saw this I grabbed it to take one set of decision-making off the table. The line is Serenity by Daiwabo for Maywood Studio. I don’t recall for sure, but I think it’s 4 yards. 


I’m not 100% sold on this one yet. I really struggled to find border fabrics I liked for what I’m calling my Shabby Chic Jelly Roll Race. I was hoping for a large floral that would fit the same mood but the quilt shop had very, very few large florals to choose from.  

The fabric on the left (1 yard) was my final “settling for” possible border fabric. (Bear Essentials 3 by P&B Textiles.) It’s actually a lot closer to a darker tone of the rose colored strips than it looks in this picture. But I want to keep looking for a large floral while I'm finishing up other projects. I have another fabric from my stash I’d originally chosen as an inner border that, if I can find a good large floral outer border, I’d use instead of this one. It’s a closer colorway match. This new one is a good stash fabric one way or the other, though—so I’ll add it to my stash accumulation figure and then count it as used if it does actually get used.  

The fabric at the bottom is what I bought as backing. (Riley Blake Designs Pattern C4546.) I’d looked at it originally as contender for the border and it may still end up being that, but it is the perfect backing. Sheesh: Who’d have thought this JRR would end up being my trouble-child?


For my other Autumn Jelly Roll Race quilt, I found a border fabric that I love (far right), although I’m not convinced I love it for this particular project but it definitely works.  (Plush by Sandy Gervais for Moda). Since I don’t love this JRR to begin with, I decided that maybe having a border fabric I loved on its own would help. We’ll see. 

The light inner border fabric (between the JRR and the new border fabric) is from my stash. I don’t think it comes across as bright in person as it does in this picture. The fabric at the bottom is backing fabric purchased Saturday (Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chiaverini for Red Rooster Fabrics DSN #26104). I hadn’t noticed until I was folding it to put it on my shelves that it’s actually got a bit of a gold metallic thing going on with it—subtle, but works well for an autumn/seasonal quilt. It’s nice when you discover a fabric you bought works even better than you thought it would! 

I haven’t posted pics of these next two projects anywhere yet, that I remember. These are the two baby quilts I want to get done by March 1, given one baby will be turning one very soon, and the other will be about 5 months old by then.  You'll get full shots when they're complete.


This first baby quilt was made using the Little Golden Book Poky Little Puppy fabric collection. I’d bought it with a pattern years ago before I had any next-gen-babies in my life. It’s good to finally be able to use it. I still have to add the borders on this but I’ve already got them cut and ready to go. I only needed backing. 

The fabric on the left is what I found for that purpose Saturday (Jurassic Jamboree by Abi Hall for Moda Fabrics). This is a crib-quilt size, so I needed about 3 1/2 yards of fabric for backing because of the shape and size of the quilt and how I’ll have to cut the backing, etc. The footprints are actually dinosaurs, but who cares? The colors matched well and it’s just dang cute. 


This baby quilt got pieced at a retreat I was at in September, maybe? Last year February? I don’t remember how long ago it was now. 2017 is a bit of a blur. In any case, again, I’d had the Goodnight Moon panel and coordinating fat quarters for a few years and loved being able to finally use them.  

The blue fabric on the far right is stash fabric I’d already picked out to use for binding, but I had nothing appropriate for a backing so the project languished. Finally found the perfect backing at Mt. Pleasant (ABC Safari, Diane Eichler Design Studio by Studio E Fabrics). It’s not the same line, but the dots speak to the dots in one of the coordinating fabrics and the colors are perfect. 

I usually try to stay away from really light fabrics for baby quilts but I decided that it was too perfect to pass up and keeping it clean was the parents’ problem!  

So, those are the five projects I brought with me to the store to problem solve. Once I did that, I finally had to go back and look at a couple of bolts I’d walked by multiple times in my hunting and, every time I saw them, thought, “Holy cow, that’s just beautiful.” We all know, of course, that they’d have to come home with me. 


First, have you gotten the impression that I’m a sucker for a large floral, especially an abstract one? The fabric on the far left called out to me every single time I walked by it. (Main floral and deep rose linear floral are from the line Blushing Peonies by Robin Pickens for Moda Fabrics. Green is Flower Mill by Corey Yoder for Moda Fabrics.)

It’s hard for you to get the full impression of that floral without seeing it in person. It is literally such a large repeat that I can’t get it all in the picture at the same time. I got three yards of it, assuming it will end up as a border. 

The other two fabrics were right next to it and all three attracted me (1 yard each). They work together well. I could see myself using the green in the same project with the large floral (an inner border, perhaps), but I’m picturing the more linear deep rose fabric as a great border for an embroidery block in a small spring wallhanging. That's a definite maybe possible perhaps.

The owner of the shop pulled out the triangle mirror tool (do you have one? I do—handy!) to see how the large floral would look as a kaleidoscope and that’s a definite possibility. I did a Bethany Reynolds’ Stack and Whack years ago and I've always wanted to do another, but I’m not sure I want to chop up this particular floral like that. These three will likely live in my stash a little while as I ponder their best use. The green, by the way, works perfectly with the green fabric I got from my Cotton Cuts box last week—a nice happenstance!



What can I say? I love everything about this—the abstract design with a mix of geometric and organic shapes. The colors.  

How could I possibly have left it in the store? 

I was waffling how much to buy and one of the staff talked me into 3 yards as it will most definitely be a border fabric for something.  

I could easily use this as color inspiration to pull a bunch of 2 1/2” strips for a project out of my jelly roll books that I’ve been looking through. Or it would make a great fabric for another 9-Patch Pizazz type of quilt. Or something. I don’t care. It's mine now. I can love it and pet it and gaze adoringly at it any time I want. (It's True Nature by Flora Rowley for Red Rooster Fabrics DSN 26705). 

Oh, my. I haven’t fallen in love this hard with a fabric in a long time! 


And because I was there, and everything was 25% off, I did pick up a couple of other things.

I follow Sharon Boggon's Pintangle blog and recently bought one of her sets of crazy quilt embroidery templates, so I picked up her book. I do plan on getting back to my crazy quilt embroidery soon. I’m still learning how to “see” what stitches to put where, and how to combine stitches for different designs, and so forth. This book is wonderful for all of that. And the templates will help me have more consistent stitching.


The other is a storage tool I’d had in my shopping cart at the Fat Quarter Shop for awhile and hadn’t clicked the “buy” button yet. It’s the It’s Sew Emma Stash n’ Store. Again, at 25% off, I decided to support my local shop. I have good tool storage at my sewing machine (you saw that in an earlier blog post) and on my cutting table (3M containers to the rescue), but this will be great on retreats. I have problems with things “wandering” about on my sewing station when I’m at retreats. It’s remarkably stable!

Finally, it’s a long story, but I ended up stopping at another quilt shop (Chestnut Bay) that I hadn’t planned on but had to drive by it multiple times and finally succumbed. I've been there a few times before. It's small, but in addition to fabric she carries a lot of wool embroidery supplies, which don't exist in other quilt shops in the area. She recently remodeled and I was curious, but I really didn't need to spend any more money. Curiosity got the best of me the fourth time I drove by the place and I stopped to see the new interior. I felt bad about the fact that I mentioned to the shop owner that I had gone to the sale at other shop and really didn't want to buy any more (I was overtired and therefore over-candid), so I did buy some stuff. 


I don’t have solids in my stash—I’m not particularly interested in doing a full-solids quilt, although I never rule anything out. However, I do sometimes use solids alongside other stuff and, since I’ve got a boatload of jelly roll projects in my future, this jelly roll of American Made solids seemed like a decent idea. This shop has a ton of fabrics from the line. I don’t like the hand of Kona solids and, having heard Frances of Off-Kilter Quilt talk about American Made brand solids I was interested to try them out. They do have a much nicer hand. Getting a jelly roll was an easier decision at the moment than trying to figure out what solids I might actually want yardage of, and it'll give me a chance to work with the fabric to form a better opinion of it.

I also picked up a glue applique pen I’d been looking at, and a pack of micron pens as mine is just about dried out.  

So there’s my shop-hop expedition. I’m now ready to go full-steam ahead on getting some UFOs off my shelf! 

Mojo Monday Jan 29: Progress and Donations

File Jan 16, 3 36 19 PM.jpeg

My goals for last week were:

  1. Re-stash everything I've deemed re-stashable. 
  2. Finish piecing the top of the low-volume quilt
  3. Ditch anything I'm not finishing and isn't donate-able.
  4. Decide where to donate what can be donated.

It took me about three or four hours all-in, but I set aside a lot of fabrics for donation, and re-stashed fabric that had been set aside for, and/or UFOs of, projects that will never get done. And yes, I tossed some stuff altogether. I don't feel guilty at all. I feel liberated.


I didn't think to take a "before" picture of my fabric shelves, so this isn't quite as impressive now, but boy does it look a lot better! 

The fabric has always been sorted in piles like that, and by color, but the last couple of years took a toll on how neat it all looked. Also, in the process of re-stashing and donating, I looked at every single piece of fabric I own. There were a few that I thought, "Wow--that's really pretty! I'd forgotten about that one!" So I'm a little less bored with my stash at this point.


And what did I get rid of? 

1. A grand total of 41 1/2 yards of fabric (not all shown in this picture). That's a big WOO!!!

2. A whole bunch of scraps--those will show up in future quilts by Charlotte Hawkes, just you wait!  That's the bag you see leaning against the stack of fabric--I'll be delivering it to her next time I see her at our build meeting. 

3. Some scraps of pieced borders and such--things where I ended up with a whole lot more than I needed, so I'm taking them to our next guild retreat. If someone thinks they can use them in a project, fantastic. I'm just done with them and have no reason to have them hanging around any more. 


4. And this. This comes under the heading of "What was I thinking?" I bought this (4 yards) to make a jacket. Have I said enough times that I hate garment sewing? That is SO not happening.

It's a little on the "loud" side because I needed something fancier that had a certain mix of colors in it--it would've worked well in my work life. But it's not something I would probably wear otherwise. And have I said, I hate garment sewing?

Someone in my guild will probably love to make a table covering or something out of this. Fortunately I bought it at Joanns so it wasn't all that expensive.

My next organizational step is to tackle my books, but that's going to take awhile. Still, I have the deadline of my May guild retreat, which is when I'll be able to donate whatever I'm getting rid of (we have a silent auction), and I always work better to a deadline.

I had a lot of 1/3 yard, 1/4 yard, and large scrap pieces that I want to cut into 2 1/2" strips or other pre-cut sizes to make them faster to use in projects. I started the process last week and still have a stack of them left to do. I'd like to get that done sooner rather than later as they're taking up space on my cutting table--plus, I'm a firm believer in "putting the time in at the front end saves time at the back end." If I've got a little time here and there, I'd like to break fabrics down into easy-to-grab-and-use projects. 


Now, on to the UFOs.

I "offed" several of them, as I'd said I might in the last list. Of those that remain, I only have a few that have solid deadlines attached. If you want to see the results of my choices on the UFO list I posted last week, go to my WIP page on this blog: I'd sort of forgotten about that page for a long time but I just updated it with the current information. 

I decided to enter into my guild's two UFO-related challenges this year. One is just a straight-up UFO challenge, in which we list 10 that we want to complete. To enter, we create our lists and then put $5 into a kitty. Those who complete all 10 by December get their names in a drawing at the end of the year to win the kitty. Last year, no one won, so all that money went into this year's kitty. (I don't know how many participated last year--I only got to one guild meeting last year because of school.)

The other is a "Quilt Three" challenge, in which you list three UFOs that are at the quilting stage. You have to quilt them yourself--no sending them off to a quilter. (It's meant to encourage people who are nervous about the quilting step.) As long as you quilt them yourself, you can have the same three quilts on both UFO challenges. Woo! For the Quilt Three challenge, the entry fee is a fat quarter, and whoever finishes all three gets their name in a drawing to win all the fat quarters. Someone did win it last year so it's a fresh start for 2018.

So, my Quilt Three Challenge list is:

  1. Baby quilt #1
  2. Baby quilt #2
  3. Autumn Jelly Roll Race

My UFO Challenge list is:

  1. Baby quilt #1 (would like to have done in February)
  2. Baby quilt #2 (would like to have done in February)
  3. Autumn Jelly Roll Race (no deadline yet)
  4. Shabby Chic Jelly Roll Race (which I will likely quilt myself)
  5. Low-volume quilt (with deadline in February)
  6. Pillowcase for toddler (deadline in February)
  7. Halloween BOM (deadline by next Halloween!)
  8. Jelly Roll Sampler (will send out for quilting, no deadline yet)
  9. 2008 Guild BOM (will send out for quilting, no deadline yet)
  10. African Star (Might quilt myself or send out--haven't decided yet, no deadline yet)

So, for those of you playing along at home, that means that last week I finished goals #1, 3, and 4.

Goals for this week: 

  1. Finish piecing low-volume quilt. (Goal #2 from last week now moves into #1 status.)
  2. Finish cutting fabric for scraps. 

I'm keeping my goals limited because I'm not sure how much more piecing I'll have to do on the low-volume quilt. There's some figuring-out-as-I-go involved. Stay posted for more on that one.


A Quick Food Friday Update

Terra's Kitchen Wagyu Beef and Red-Pepper sauce. Very good, very easy. Way too much asparagus--this was one serving and I had far more than twice this amount of vegetable.

Terra's Kitchen Wagyu Beef and Red-Pepper sauce. Very good, very easy. Way too much asparagus--this was one serving and I had far more than twice this amount of vegetable.

Here's just a quick update on something I posted a few weeks ago. I'd mentioned that we were trying Terra's Kitchen meal subscription service to see if it would help us eat healthier, more easily, on a more regular basis. This week was our third box (we skipped one week when we were out of town). As I unpackaged the ingredients for the meals, I was surprised and extremely disappointed at the number of packets I was sent. I've tried to reconcile myself to so many plastic containers for the pre-measured, pre-chopped ingredients, even though I always felt slightly guilty (it was all recyclable). But foil and plastic packets of condiments I'd find at a ball park? I expect better from a "healthy and environmentally friendly" meal service.

Terra's Kitchen expects that you have olive oil in your home. But apparently it doesn't expect that you have:

  • butter (for the second week I've gotten several foil-wrapped pats of butter)
  • mayonnaise (two plastic packs)
  • mustard (two plastic packs)
  • honey (one plastic pack)
  • balsamic vinegar (one plastic pack)

I get that maybe not everyone has honey, mustard, or balsamic vinegar on hand, although I have plenty of all of them. But butter? If I have olive oil, don't you think I'd also have butter? Seems an odd choice on their part. And that means I have several extra little pieces of greasy foil to deal with somehow.

Plus, instead of sending a bulk container of dried cranberries, I got four or five individual snack-sized boxes of Craisins. I buy my dried cranberries in bulk from the store so I don't have to have all the cardboard of the packets. Sure, it's recyclable, but really? Plus, for the price I'm paying for the subscription service, I wouldn't expect I'd get wholesale snack packages resold to me.

On the plus side:

  • The meals were generally faster to prepare as almost everything was pre-measured and pre-chopped for me. For the most part, meal prep was just a matter of "open package and dump." Very handy on a busy weeknight.
  • The meals were generally very good. There were a couple of things I'd have doctored here and there if I'd gotten them again, but even that would've been pretty minimal.
  • The meals I chose were definitely healthy. I was able to put the ingredients into my Weight Watchers app and figure out the points for each, and they were well within what I'd typically budget myself for dinner.
  • We ate more fish than we usually do because I would choose one fish recipe each week to supplement all the chicken we were eating.

On the negative side:

  • All that recycling, and those packets!
  • Although they periodically posted a new recipe here and there, after four weeks I'd already pretty much cycled through everything that was in my husband's and my wheelhouse. I suspect they're still fairly new so the selection isn't huge, unless you want chicken. Lots of chicken.

I cancelled Terra's Kitchen today and told them I was doing it because of all those stinkin' packets. I'm debating trying another service that is partnered with Weight Watchers so you get the Points info as you're choosing the meals, but they're not pre-chopped and such, so I'm not sure it would be any real help during the week. For now, we're back to our own cooking. Time to get the slow-cooker and Instant Pot out again!

Thinkin' about It Thursday

This week, I'm thinking...

  • that I can't believe it took me probably 10 years to figure out how to keep this handy little tool-holder (a guild retreat gift from the Way Back) from falling over. I've had it weighted down with my grommet tool box for years, which drove me nuts with the space it took up. I was clearing up some of the detritus from my organizing sessions when I suddenly realized, "3M Strips!" Bingo. (Before you ask--no, I don't have the pattern. Go to and ask my buddy Jan. If I recall, she and our departed-friend Vickie had made these for everyone that year. They slide over a plastic photo frame. I love it, especially now that I've figured out how to keep the weight of the tools from tipping it over.)


  • how hopefully the handy tip I read on some blog somewhere about organizing your UFOs will help me get them done. "Hang them in bags within sight," it suggested. Great way to keep track of my pillowcase project and a few little random bags of blocks and kits I haven't decided whether I'll actually do yet or not. (The thing hanging on the large ring to the right of the bags is my stitch directory from my sewing machine. I made that as part of a Carol Ann Waugh Craftsy class several years ago. Pain in the butt to do, but handy!)
  • that I'm still such a fan of 3M strips because I easily reorganized a few of my rulers on the wall to adjust for the different size and shape of my new Stripology ruler (compared to the June Taylor one I had before; Stripology is second ruler in from the left). I also moved my one remaining non-Creative Grids ruler--the orange Fiskars 6x24 that was probably my very first-ever quilting purchase years ago (far left)--from a much less convenient spot to this one. I only use it to fold the fabric to put on my shelves to keep it all the same size, so I don't use it much, but it's much easier to lay my hands on here so it's more likely things will get put away more quickly now. (Ignore the mess on the cutting table. I'm still working on the cleaning/organizing step! Those are mostly piles of fabric I'm cutting down into strips.)
  • that maybe one more "keep it in sight to keep it in mind" organizational strategy may help me remember all those potential new stashbusting projects I'd wanted to make when I clear the decks to make them. I've been using this magazine holder the last couple of years for printed articles I was reading for school. Looking at this collection of pre-cut and scrap quilt books just makes me so much happier! I've actually added a few more magazines and a couple of books to this since I took the picture. Can't add any more until I use one or more of them to make something or it'll get too heavy and fall off the wall!
  • how I think I've now gotten everything to the point where I can get back to actually sewing happily. On to finishing up some projects!

Oops—try again

If you tried to watch the unboxing video yesterday and got blocked—if it told you it was unavailable or something—please try again. Apparently enough people watched it right away that I banged up against the bandwidth wall on my account! I’ve now ponied up for the actual paid account (I’d been using a freebie)  and it released the hostage video, so you should be able to view it now. Sorry about that!

Sew Sampler and Cotton Cuts Unboxing!

Do you recall my comments about being bored with my stash? I believe I'd already mentioned somewhere along the line that I'm trying out a couple of fabric-related quilt-y subscription boxes. The two I chose were Sew Sampler and Cotton Cuts. I explain why I made that decision in the video below.

By the way--if you want to move faster, here's a trick I use when I'm watching other people's unboxing vids. If I only want to see what they actually got and not listen to all their commentary, I use the "scrubber" to fast-forward through the video. In other words, you can just click and drag the little icon that shows where you are in the video. Move it forward until you see the next item pulled out of the box. (See P.S. for another couple of comments about the video.)


CORRECTION: I labeled the pattern I downloaded as "Mosaic." The correct title is "Moroccan Tiles." (Apparently I needed a little more caffeine yesterday!)

Here are a couple of related pictures:


The "lagniappe" I received in the CottonCuts box in use.

I already tossed the green bobbin holder as it was too difficult to fit through the center hole on my bobbins, and the bottom part was pretty short--it didn't want to stay in the spool. I showed in the video the ones I use and love. The other two little doo-dads are pretty cool, though! Unfortunately there wasn't information included with the box about brands or where to find them--I'm sure they're probably in the Cotton Cuts online shop. I've seen the blue thread holder before but not the little pink claw thing--that's great! It works a whole lot better than the fuzzy girls' ponytail holders I'm using now, which stretch out super-fast. I may have to pick up more of the pink claws. I use a net for my thread, though, so forasmuch as I like the blue wrap thing, I probably won't be buying those.


Here are the links for the two boxes:

Cotton Cuts (I'm subscribed to the "Classic" box. They have several other options at different price-points.)

Fat Quarter Shop Sew Sampler

P.S. I switched from using YouTube because doing it the way I did on this post means I can definitely keep the video private to this blog rather than risking any old yahoo stumbling across it and trolling in the comments. Also, I WILL avoid the bumping noise next time, and I'll lengthen my call-outs (the words that appear) so they don't go off as quickly. I've done a lot of this kind of stuff for work but not for quilting and it's just a little different technique. I will also do two separate unboxing vids for each box rather than always doing them in one--I didn't realize how long it would get doing both. So--thanks for being patient with my own learning curve here.

Mojo Monday Jan 22: Assessing UFOs


This was the scariest part to do, so I decided to tackle it first and get it out of the way.

How many UFOs did I really have lurking, waiting to pounce on me with guilt? And which ones was I committed to finishing, and what would I do with the ones I was ready to pass along?

I dug through my shelves to find every single UFO I could. I'm generally very well organized but even so there were a handful that had gotten stashed in various places and I had completely forgotten about them. 

So, here's my list. I've used "code" names for some of the items below to remove personal identifiers. The parentheses indicate approximately how old the UFO is. "New" means it was created within the last month. I then indicate the stage it's in, mostly listing the next action that needs to be taken. If I've made specific decisions already about what I'm going to do with it, that's listed. If you just see the word "decision," that means I still need to decide what I'm going to do with it--if I want to finish it, re-stash it, trash it, donate it, and so on. For most of those, that means I have to dig into the project itself to see where I left things, how close I was to finishing, how usable what remains is, and so forth. I'll do that next.

By the way, for the purpose of this list, my UFOs aren't only those projects I've already started by virtue of actually cutting into fabric. I also have a bunch of labeled bins on my shelves with collections of fabric and patterns or notes about ideas. They were "in thinking mode," so to speak. Normally I don't count those as actual UFOs but in this case, I want to get anything off my shelf that's not going to actually get done, so they've made this list.

Sorting my UFOs....

Sorting my UFOs....

  1. Lo-Volume Quilt (new): Still piecing. Will finish in time to gift it in February.
  2. Baby Quilt #1 (new): Borders. Finish by March 1.
  3. Shabby Chic Jelly Roll Race (new): Decide about borders. May send out for quilting.
  4. Baby Quilt #2 (6 mos): Quilt. Finish by March 1.
  5. Autumn Jelly Roll Race (new): Decide about borders. May send out for quilting.
  6. Child Pillow Case (6 mos): Construct. Finish by March 1.
  7. Hand-dyed art quilt--flames (3 yrs): Quilting. Will most likely ditch this. It was experimental and I don't feel a pull towards finishing it.
  8. "Vickie's Peacock" (3 yrs at least): Quilting. Will finish eventually--no date set.
  9. Stonehenge Mariner's Compass (3 yrs): Quilting. Had totally forgotten this one and I really like it! Will finish eventually--no date set. May send out for quilting.
  10. Hand-dyed art quilt--circles (2 yrs): Decision: to quilt or embroider?
  11. African Star String Quilt (3 yrs): Quilting. Will finish, no date set. May send out for quilting.
  12. Jelly Roll Sampler (3 yrs): Quilting. Will send out for quilting this spring.
  13. Taupe Guild BOM (3 yrs): Quilting. Will send out for quilting this spring.
  14. Annie Travel Bag (2 yrs): Construction. Will finish this spring if it kills me.
  15. Guild Paper-Pieced BOM (5 yrs?): Decision--continue piecing or just do something with blocks I already have?
  16. Charlotte's Mystery 2015 (3 yrs): Had totally forgotten I'd ever started this one. It was buried under other bins. Decision--finish or re-stash?
  17. Crazy Quilt (in progress): Embroidery and beadwork. Will continue working on it.
  18. Halloween Embroidery BOM (in progress): Will continue working on it.
  19. Assorted Art Quilts: I lumped several bins into one UFO as none of them were actually started. They're in "idea" stage. I will most likely just re-stash everything. If the idea pulls at me enough I can find the fabrics again later.
  20. Pillowcase for DD (4 yrs): Construction. Will most likely re-stash and donate fabrics.
  21. Vicki's Rose (2 yrs): Construction. This was a UFO from a woman in our guild who passed away. I took it when one of her friends was offering her kits and UFOs to guild members. Realistically-speaking, I doubt I'd ever actually get to making it so I will pass it along again.
  22. Graduation quilt (4 yrs): Construction. Will re-stash and ditch the couple of blocks that got made (they're nothing usable by anyone else as I was experimenting with Fibonacci sequences and messed something else--hence the UFO status). The giftee graduated several years ago so this will never happen. 
  23. 2015 Craftsy BOM (3 yrs): Decision. Didn't really love the colorway anyway. Will likely restash it. 
  24. Felted Wool Project (4 yrs): Decision. Not sure it's my style anymore.
  25. Katerina Project (6+ years): Piecing. This UFO is the sole survivor of many "UFO purges." I designed it on EQ and still love the fabrics and love the design, but messed something up somewhere as the pieced borders really don't fit the center. So I need to do some serious problem solving. So this dang thing WILL get finished. I just don't know when.
  26. Embroidery applique (1 year): Embroidery. This was a quick little kit thing I bought and put together at a retreat with the intention of getting it embroidered before Thanksgiving that year. Didn't happen. I still like it, though, so it's staying on my list. 
  27. Tote and Purse bin: This isn't really a UFO, but it's a bin where I'd stored a bunch of fabrics and patterns together. I think I'd rather re-stash the fabric so it's more likely to get used, regardless of whether I make the purse pattern or not.
  28. Cubby in cutting table: Another collection of fabrics and patterns that need to be re-stashed. So #26 and #27 are more organizational notes to myself than UFOs.

So, if you're following along, that basically gives me four projects I want to try to finish in January and February.

  • Low-volume quilt
  • Baby Quilt #1
  • Baby Quilt #2
  • Pillowcase

Very do-able. 

This week I will:

  1. Re-stash everything I've deemed re-stashable. 
  2. Finish piecing the top of the low-volume quilt
  3. Ditch anything I'm not finishing and isn't donate-able.
  4. Decide where to donate what can be donated.

Getting My Quilty Life Organized


Okay, I’m starting to feel like my quilty mojo is coming back. I have a boatload of ideas of things I’d like to do, primarily to use up my stash. Then I have a list of UFOs I know I need to complete. So I’m trying to think through some “guidelines” to set up for myself that will allow me to make progress on the things I want to finish while also have all the fun of starting new projects. Here are some realities I’m dealing with: 

1. I still don’t have a good sense of how much time I’ll have in my life. We have some pretty significant changes happening at work and I won’t know for a few months how it’s going to shake out. I have some travel coming up, but it’s not currently extensive. 


2. I am BORED BORED BORED BORED with my stash. I think I’ve talked about this before. At the moment, at least 95% of my fabrics have been staring at me for at least 8 years, some far longer than that. If they haven’t inspired me so far, they won’t.  

3. My brain is tired. I’ve been going for a couple of years on full mental tilt, so frankly, I just don’t want to have to think about what I’m sewing. So, although I’ve loved doing art quilts and designing my own stuff in the past, right now that just feels too hard and not fun. 

I do know, however, that I tend to be more productive when I have a plan. Not a firm plan, and no rules that will just start feeling like more obligations like “I’m going to sew for 15 minutes a day” or “I’m not going to start any new projects until I have X UFOs done” or “I’m not going to buy any more fabric until I use up X yardage.” Frankly, I’m tired of rules and deadlines and obligations. This girl just wanna have fun.  

I also know that I’m more productive when I’m blogging and/or podcasting my goals. Hence, this blog post. So, here we go....

Plan Component A: Quilt from my stash...mostly.  


Several of the new projects I’ve been looking at are scrappy, fast patterns using 2 1/2” strips. I have a handful of jelly rolls but I also have a boatload of scrap strips from strip exchanges. I had the June Taylor strip-cutting ruler but have never liked it (I inherited it from my mom’s tools), so I just bought myself the Creative Grids Stripology ruler. Same idea, but a stiffer plastic and a ton of really helpful markings. I plan on stripping some of my boring ol’ yardage and making a few scrap tops. 

I’m also seriously considering doing Charlotte Hawkes’ mystery scrap quilt again this year. I’ve not done one since the first one but I love her designs and it may be time for me to tackle another one.  

All that being said, I’m not setting myself any rules on how much fabric has to go out before more can come in. I just want to start turning over my stash. 


Plan Component B: Loosely track outgoing and incoming stash. 

Although I won’t have rules about it, I do want to try to have the balance be on the “out” side. So I will try to start tracking. I generally just do this by eyeballing how big my stacks of the various colors are, but it might be fun to pay attention to actual numbers. 

Plan Component C: Refresh the stash. 

So, yes, part of my plan is actually buying new fabric, and not necessarily just for an individual project. That’s most of what I’ve been doing lately—when I’ve bought fabric at all. It tends to get used immediately and I’m still left with the same old stuff whining at me from my shelves. I’ve subscribed to a couple of quilty subscription boxes to test them out. Both of them have fabric involved, so I can start adding some new-fabric-with-no-immediate plan to refresh my vision. Maybe some of the old fabric will suddenly start looking exciting again when put side-by-side with new. 

On the freebie side, I’ll be able to go to my guild retreat in May, I think, and they’ve started doing a fabric-swap game. People bring fabric and names are drawn and you choose fabric from what’s been donated...or something like that. However it works, it’ll be a way for me to swap some of my old boring fabric for new, interesting fabric. 

Plan Component D: Assess my UFOs.


I’ve done entire podcast episodes on this, so I won’t go into detail now. Suffice it to say I’ve totally lost track of how many UFOs I actually have at the moment. Our guild is doing a couple of different UFO challenges, so it’s time for me to pull every UFO off my shelf, determine which ones I’m actually going to finish and which need to either be trashed or donated (depending on what the stopper was), and then how the finishing process will happen with those that make the cut.  

Plan Component E: Finish at least a couple of UFOs, if not more. (See above. I have to do the assessment first to really know what “E” is going to look like.)

Plan Component F: Write a blog post once a week to keep me on track. 

I am definitely more productive when I’m podcasting and blogging about quilting regularly. After all, I need something interesting to talk about! So each week I’ll do a blog post on what I’ve done that week to further any of the above goals. What should I call it...Mojo Monday? That has a ring to it...

One thing I’m doing right now—while I’m still away on a work trip (I’m writing this from a hotel during a break)—is reading the “Quilt Your Stash” series of blog posts on A Quilting Life blog. She posted them in 2016, but they’re still great reads! 

I get back into town tomorrow night, and then I leave for a long weekend vacation on Thursday, so none of this will start until next week. Meanwhile, I’m watching YouTube videos and downloading Craftsy pattern freebies (and I already marked a lot of jelly roll patterns in my books at home). Chomping at the bit! 

It's Thursday, but It's Wardrobe Wednesday

I got my StitchFix today! Woo! I decided for kicks n' giggles to try doing a video unboxing and try-on, like I see all over YouTube. I'm not making this public on YouTube--don't need the trolls. So hopefully keeping it unlisted there will keep the audience limited to those who are reading this blog. 

Let me know whether you like the video version better than photos and descriptions! 


Here's the list of clothes that I just demo'd:

Leo & Nicole Havana Front Buckle Pullover (the first gray sweater)

Warp & Weft Shealynn Straight Leg Jean

Persie Asymmetrical Hem Pullover (green)

Poppi Textured Pullover (cream-colored really, really soft sweater that I can't stop touching)

Biskra Wool Blend Coat

Thanks again, Kathryn!

Want to check StitchFix out for yourself? Here's my referral link!

Look, Ma: No Boot!

Just got my stitches and most of the rest of the bandages off today. And I am thrilled, elated, and in all other ways so pleased to report that I'm already walking more easily than I ever was after the last surgery. Woo hoo!

I've now been able to expand my shoe wardrobe by a couple more pairs. Still can't wear all of my shoes because most of them will still rub uncomfortably against the surgery incision. That won't fully heal for another few weeks. 

I've been released from all restrictions--I just have to "let Toe be my guide," as it were. I'm already working on retraining my body not to walk with a limp. It's partially still due to residual toe stiffness and pain, but a lot of it is now a year's worth of muscle memory. 

You shouldn't be getting too many more foot-related posts at this point. I think we're well on the way to a recovery!

Food Friday: Terra’s Kitchen (1st Box)

As I mentioned in passing in a previous post, I’m trying out Terra’s Kitchen meal delivery service to see if it helps us eat healthier more regularly. I do great at meal planning and grocery shopping. Where I have difficulty is getting things prepped in advance as my weekend runs away from me, which means I often end up not being able to make the meals I planned as the week starts rolling. Which then, in turn, means I can end up tossing a lot of food that’s gone bad before I can get to it. When I started doing some research and some math (comparing the cost of TK versus what I spend on groceries), I decided it would be worth a try.

Terra’s Kitchen seemed the best option of all the options out there to get healthy meal options that my husband (a relatively picky eater) would still enjoy. I chose to have my box delivered on Fridays because I do my grocery shopping on Saturday—that way I could do my meal-planning around my TK delivery and get groceries for whatever was missing.


I got my first delivery yesterday, and was really impressed right off the bat that FedEx got through despite the weather! The box got to my house around 10a, so I was able to try it out immediately for lunch (stay tuned).

One of the differences between TK and other meal subscription services is the box. Most come in regular boxes with chemical ice packs inside that you have to then recycle, in addition to all the boxes and bags and such that the meal parts come in.

TK, instead, uses a little mini-refrigerator case. Although the meal components still come in plastic containers, those are recyclable. The ce packs in TK get sent back with the refrigerator case—the case and packs all get reused as much as possible. 

The box is an impressive feat of design! These are latches on the front. You break the white wrap-around tabs and then pull up the latch to open the box top. 


Here’s the refrigerator box inside. The box flaps fold back and attach to a little magnet on the sides of the box so they stay out of your way while you’re unloading the case. Genius! 



The top of the refrigerator box lifts off to reveal the drawers with the food inside. Everything is pre-sorted and, in many cases, pre-chopped. When it comes time to make dinner, it’s mostly a matter of opening a container and adding it into the pot or pan. 

Don’t get me wrong—I love cooking...when I have time to cook. But the idea of being able to have a home-cooked, hot dinner on a weeknight and only having to take about 15-20 minutes to get it ready? Golden.


The recipe cards are on a good card stock and three-hole punched so you can put them in a binder. That means the recipes are mine forever, even if I stop doing TK. The instructions (on the back of what’s shown here) are clear, the layout is great and easy to follow, and it includes a list of the other ingredients you’ll need in addition to what was sent. These other ingredients are pretty much limited to water, olive oil, salt, and pepper. 


The ingredient packages are all coded with numbers that let you know which recipe they’re for. his made it really easy to check to make sure I’d gotten all the ingredients, plus I stored them in my fridge and pantry grouped by recipe so it’s an easy grab when it comes time to make them. 

The pre-minced garlic and ginger are handy ut a little smelly in my fridge. 

It’s clear all their recipes are prepackaged at the warehouse as I had two recipes that had repeat ingredients but got two different packages, each with the same ingredient in the amount for that recipe. Again, that’s great for convenience when I go to make it, but I did wince at the extra plastic containers involved. The containers are all recyclable, so there is that.


This first time out, I got a discount on the box, so I decided to go ahead and add a couple of things. They have several other categories from which you can add on: lunches, desserts, snacks, beverages, and then extra proteins or sides. I went the lunch route, and bought soup (they come in sets of two bottles of one flavor), and a salad.  

TK carries the Zupa Organic Superfood Soup, and I got the Carrot Coconut Lime. I also got the Apple Walnut Chicken Salad, and ate that for lunch today. In addition to the apples, walnuts, and chicken, the salad also had shredded carrots and blue cheese. The dressing was a light balsamic vinaigrette. It was quite tasty, and the serving size was perfect. I do salads with chicken breasts all the time but I tend to just dump the other stuff in without measuring—goat cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, whatever crunchy thing I put over the top. That can lead to trouble in WW Points World. This way, everything is pre-measured for me, leaving a lot less up to my whim at the moment. I probably won’t order the lunch stuff regularly because I can definitely do it more cheaply, but it’s nice knowing it’s there if I know I’m going to have a super-busy week. For any of you who routinely eat lunches out at work or whatever, though, I’d say TK’s prices would be quite comparable, and it’s a lot healthier.


And here's our first official Terra's Kitchen meal! I wanted to use the tilapia right away--I don't like having fish sitting in my fridge for too long. My plating leaves a little to be desired--no restaurant-worthy aestethics here, but it was tasty.

When I make this recipe again--and it was good enough that I will--I'll cut the salt back a little bit in the orzo. Other than that, I absolutely loved it. My husband really liked the fish but he's not a fan of pasta so the orzo didn't do much for him. He also doesn't like whole cooked tomatoes, but I love them. He ate some of the orzo and all the asparagus (the one part he did like of the side), and then I have to admit to finishing off his orzo and tomatoes. Yums. I had to tell him that I hadn't realized until I got the shipment that one of our other meals this week has a very similar orzo-tomato based side, so I'll probably be getting a little extra to eat that night too. I guess I was in an orzo mood the day I made my selections.

I had two quibbles with this first TK cooking experience. First, although they expect you to have olive oil in your pantry, they don't require you to have butter in your fridge. They sent me two little pats, each wrapped in a little foil package. I couldn't figure out any possible reason that they would have for not saying, "We expect you to own butter." Butter is probably more omnipresent than olive oil is, and it wasn't a special organic butter or anything. Odd. The second quibble was with the recipe itself: it tells you to cut the lemon in half and THEN zest and juice it. I didn't read ahead or I'd have zested it first, then cut it in half for the rest of the process. Not sure why they decided to do it that way because it's definitely not SOP. Other than those two little things, I can see why this would be a handy way to do things for very busy people or people just starting out. The portions of herbs and pice you needed are included, so no more buying a whole bottle of spices or a big bunch of herbs for the few sprinkles you use for that one particular recipe. (When it comes to summer, I have an herb garden, but I don't have a good window to move it inside during the rest of the year.)

I tried one of the Zupa soups for lunch to day. A big "nope" on that one. A bit too spicy and strangely sour. I won't bother with those again.

I'll post pics of my other two TK meals later this week on Instagram. So far, I like it, but my jury is still out on whether a meal subscription service is right for us. 

(Later edit: I wrote most of this on Friday, which is why it's entitled Food Friday. I didn't get it finished until Saturday so now it's misnamed, but I'm not going to sweat that!)

Living Somewhere Between Jack’s House and Giving a Mouse a Cookie

No pictures—just a story.

PROLOGUE: We gave my daughter my old car when she went away to college (and yep, I got the new one). Fast forward 6 years. Her car is now 13 years old, has umpteen thousand miles on it, and can be forgiven for the fact that its heater gave out this year.

When I went in for foot surgery last week, I suggested to my daughter that she borrow my car for the period I would be laid up so she could have some heat. She was thrilled.

She called two days after taking my car. It had developed an alarmingly large—and getting alarmingly larger—windshield crack. I suspect the cold. These things happen.

She brought it home, parked it in our garage, and took her car back.

I arranged for a windshield replacement through our insurance company. Because of the holidays, I couldn’t get it scheduled until after my husband would already be back at work. “Don’t worry, it’s simple,” said my husband, who had his windshield replaced recently. “They come and do it in your driveway, it takes about an hour; you probably won’t even have to talk to the guy.” “That’s perfect,” I replied, as I was sitting on the couch with my foot propped up and an ice bag on my ankle. 

Wait for it. 

I get a notice that the windshield guy would be at my house yesterday sometime between 7:30a and noon. I get myself all presentable by 7:30 just in case he does have to talk to me. I stay downstairs on the couch doing some reading because the stairs take me awhile these days and I didn’t want to be ensconced in my upstairs office working on my dissertation until I knew everything was all set.

At 10a, I get a call from the manager that the service person had gotten delayed because of the blizzard starting to move in. “He’ll be there around noon,” I was told. Okay, no worries, I thought: At least I’ll be able to get some work done on my dissertation. I hobbled slowly up the stairs to my computer. Fortunately, the company provides a tracking map so I could pay attention to how close he was getting to the house.

When I could see that he was five minutes away, I hobbled downstairs. Once I greeted him, I took my place on the couch even though he’d assured me he wouldn’t need me until he finished in about an hour.

Sure enough, less than 10 minutes later, there’s a knock on my door. Mr. Windshield Guy sheepishly informed me that he somehow managed to break something—just a tiny little thing that he accidentally hit with one of his tools while removing the windshield. I don’t even know what said tiny little thing does. It’s a small wire-bracket kind of thing that’s less than an inch long, but somehow he nicked it. And apparently it was important. 

Now my car has to go to a body shop. And it has no windshield in it. So it has to be towed.

Mr. Windshield assured me that his company would take care of everything, including getting me a rental car. Since Mr. Windshield said it could be a few days before I get my car back, I agreed. However, I said, I really shouldn’t be leaving the house with my foot. Could they bring me a car? This led to some back and forth between Mr. Windshield, his manager, and the rental company, while I went back in to elevate my foot again. 

No go on me not leaving. About 45 minutes later, Enterprise sent someone to come pick me up to get my rental car.

I stuff my swollen, sore, bandaged foot into the only pair of lace-up sort-of-winter-footwear I can fit into right now (see a later blog post) and limp my way through the blowing snow drifts and an increasingly slick driveway to climb into the rental van—with a driver who had pulled up too close to the drifts on the passenger side so I was up to my ankles in snow getting in the car. Praying this only pair of shoes I can currently wear was sufficiently waterproof to protect my bandages, I maneuvered myself into the van. Because Mr. Windshield’s truck was in the way, Mr. Enterprise couldn’t use our turnaround so he began to back down our very long, somewhat hilly, somewhat curvy, and fairly icy driveway. I closed my eyes and held my breath because I knew for sure what was going to happen next.

Yep. He got stuck halfway down.

Mr. Enterprise hoofed it back up to the garage to borrow one of our shovels, and Mr. Windshield (probably thrilled to have anything to do at this point) came to help while I sat, Princess-Like, in the front passenger seat feeling completely useless.

Fortunately, about 10 minutes later they managed to get the van un-stuck and Mr. Enterprise slowly made it back out of the rest of our driveway and we made our way to the rental agency without further incident.

The rental agent asked if I had any preferences about cars. “Just something that can handle the snow,” I responded, watching the blizzard get thicker and thicker out the windows. The agent chuckled, but not in a this-is-going-to-be-good-news-for-me way. Apparently the airport had just cancelled the majority of flights so rental cars were suddenly flying off the lot. 

Paperwork done, I’m escorted out to find my rental car in the parking lot.

It’s a roller skate. 

I haven’t always driven SUVs, but even the Renault Encore I drove in college was bigger than this thing. 

Finding the windshield wiper, heat, and defroster controls first, and turning everything up to full blast, I proceed to pull out of the driveway and up the slightly inclined street to the nearest light. Not a good start—Roller Skate has almost no traction and all the pick-up of an elderly turtle. I barely made it up the street and then slid my way around the corner. At least the trip home mostly involves straight roads.

I come around the pile of snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac to see Mr. Windshield still parked in my driveway. As I slowly come around the circle, I’m looking at our long, uphill driveway that I am 75% certain Roller Skate can’t manage. I gave brief consideration to parking in the cul-de-sac and hiking up the driveway regardless of my foot, but decided—with the way my day was going—that the snow plow would probably take Roller Skate with it on its next pass. I held my breath and gunned it.

Roller Skate slowly shimmied its way to the top of the driveway, so rather than doing the maneuvering necessary to get around the Windshield truck and parking neatly, I let Roller Skate do his thing and slide sideways into the turnaround. “I’m so done!” I declared out loud, decisively turning the car off, grabbing my purse, and then (in contrast) slowly, gingerly, climbing ever-so-carefully out of the driver’s seat.

I had a brief chat with Mr. Windshield about the fact that, given the storm, it could be awhile before we saw the tow truck, then limped my way into the house.

If feet could swear, Surgery Foot would be cussing me out but good.

Mr. Windshield finally got permission from his manager to go home around 4:30 even though the tow hadn’t arrived. The tow truck finally got to our house around 6:30. They sent a flatbed. I had just been on the phone trying to call the whole thing off because now it was dark, the snow was a lot worse, and I was really pretty sure any tow truck trying to make it up our driveway would just get stuck. While I was on the phone, though, I saw the taillights of the flatbed as it was slowly backing up our driveway. And sure enough, he started spinning out when he got near the garage where the driveway gets really slick. 

In slippers and surgery boot, I went outside to stand in the garage while the tow truck guy and I conversed briefly about his best options. I’m also now worriedly watching the street for my husband who was supposed to be getting home from work right about then—the major jockeying of cars that was going to need to happen! Fortunately, Tow Truck successfully got himself into position to move my car onto the flatbed and was able to pull back out of the driveway before I saw any sign of my husband. Unfortunately but also fortunately, the snow made my husband’s commute painfully slow for him (a 40 minute drive took almost 2 hours) so by the time he did make it home the garage was ready for him to pull right in. 

It was only supposed to take an hour. And not involve me. And now my car is in a body shop for who knows how long, I’m supposed to drive a Roller Skate that stinks in the snow during a weekend when we get a blizzard, and at some point we’ll have to do the whole car jockeying thing again when I’m able to go get my car back and drop off the rental. Bully. 

I’m pleased to say that I apparently did all the right things yesterday to care for my foot after I was finally able to get back on the couch. Elevation, ice, drugs. For all it hurt like the dickens yesterday, it seems to be doing well today. But my daughter is still driving a car with no heat. She may be pushing up her plans for buying a new one!

Fickle, Frugal, or Factious? Switching Horses on Book Clubs

As I've been putting together my 2018 (first quarter) bullet journal, listing out my monthly/bimonthly expenses in subscription boxes gave me the opportunity to evaluate. I love getting subscription boxes, but were there any I wasn't enjoying as much? Should I do a little more research in some categories?

I've decided that I liked my PageHabit subscription better in theory than in practice. I've gotten three boxes and would've rated all the books I got three stars (out of five) or lower. I wasn't raving about any of them. The author's notes were interesting or not interesting depending on the author and, frankly, some authors have atrocious handwriting and their notes were extraordinarily difficult to read. I also didn't dig the little gifties that come in the box. They weren't at all related to the books and just felt like someone threw them in because they felt they needed to. I began to feel like I was paying for things I wasn't actually getting much out of.

I'd also gone through my Kindle to find all the fiction books I've bought over the last few months that I hadn't gotten to read yet, and I've got quite a list. I debated cancelling a book subscription altogether.

On the other hand, I still like being exposed to authors and books I might not normally have read, and I have really enjoyed having a physical book again. It gives me a different feeling to sit in an armchair with tea and an actual book in my hand than it does to have my Kindle. (Don't get me wrong--the vast majority of my books are still Kindle as I like that a lot better for reading in bed and traveling.)

So I did a little more research.

I've now cancelled my PageHabit subscription and have swapped it out for the less expensive and solely-book-focused Book of the Month club

Book of the Month Club sends you an email with five options, and you choose which one you want sent each month. If you don't want any of them, you can skip a month. You can add on another book for only $9.99, and for the add-ons you can either choose from the options for that month or selections from previous months. I like the flexibility on this one, and I love that I'm not paying for useless gifties. I don't need any more bookmarks, thank you very much!

They give you a decent amount of information on each of the five options every month: a brief essay about why the curator chose that book, a synopsis of the book, and a few paragraphs from the first chapter so you can get a sense of the writing style. They also save the books you've gotten to your "bookshelf," and you can do ratings and reviews. I don't see where I can see anyone else's ratings and reviews, but this would be a helpful way to keep track of what I've already gotten if I stick with the book club for awhile and have already sent books on to other homes after I've read them. I do GoodReads but it will be nice if I'm looking for what selections to make for future boxes.

My January box pick is As Bright As Heaven, as it falls into my current-favorite historical fiction category, and it's an exclusive early release for BOM Club subscribers. (It's not available until February everywhere else.) I chose Little Fires Everywhere from a previous month as my add-on--since it's my first month, I get one month free so all I'm paying this month is the $9.99 add-on cost. I've seen Little Fires Everywhere highly reviewed, so I bit. I should get them in a week or so, I'd think. Just enough time to finish the PageHabit book I'm still reading.

BOM can keep its prices low because there are no little gifties included in the box. It's just books. I'm good with that. I don't really need any more tschoske. 

So--I'll keep you posted on how I feel about this one after a couple of months! Do any of you have a book subscription club? Which one? Do you like it? Why or why not? What's your favorite part of having a book subscription?

Have you read either of these books? No spoilers, please!


Tedious Tuesday

I’m bored again, so I may as well write a blog post and make all my readers as bored as I am.


It is a cold, blustery day outside today. From my nest on the couch I can’t easily see outside any windows (I’m at the wrong angle) but I can hear the wind a-blowing. My Accuweather app tells me it’s 19 degrees but feels like -8 (F). I can believe it, based on what I’m hearing. It’s been a good week to be confined indoors next to my fireplace.

Yep, still on the couch. However, I’m pleased to report that in another four hours I see my surgeon again. He’ll likely change my bandages, which based on my “dry run” at this surgery last summer, means I’ll have a slightly less bulky foot for the next week. The total volume of bandage decreases with each visit. I may also get moved to the next stage of recovery, in which I still have to keep it elevated as much as possible but don’t have to elevate at night anymore (which is the best change for me!)  and can walk around the house more. So wish me luck.

I’ll still be mostly trapped indoors, mostly because there’s several inches of snow outside and my foot won’t fit in any boots.  This creates one big issue: My husband and I had a conversation this morning about what to do about the dogs during the day. He’s been home with me all week and, although he’d normally be back at work today, he took the day off so he could drive me to my doctor appointment. I actually drove myself last time I had this surgery but I’m not turning down his offer! In any case, he will have to go back to the office starting tomorrow. Auggie isn’t quite old enough yet to comfortably “hold it” all day, and I can’t walk outside in the snow. DH works a 30-minute commute away, longer if there’s snow on the roads, so he can’t really run home mid-day to let the dogs out. We’re working on creative problem-solving.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to the following week when I get stitches removed and almost immediately have a work trip, I’ve been pondering the whole “foot doesn’t fit in boots” issue. Even though I’ll be pretty much bandage-free at that point, my foot will still be swollen for several weeks. None of my current cold-weather footwear has room for that. Nor will I really have enough time for serious boot-shopping between having stitches removed and getting on that plane. Enter Trunk Club. 

I did Trunk Club last year for three or four shipments but was pretty unenthusiastic about the results. I kept getting sent things I’d already said I didn’t like, and rarely felt like I was really listened to, despite being able to have a lot more conversation with the stylist than I do with StitchFix. Somehow, only communicating once per box with StitchFix, I got a whole lot more I really liked and worked for me than I ever did with Trunk Club, even though I could have entire conversations with the TC stylists. 


But, when one is trapped in one’s house, one starts looking at “How can I try on a few different pairs of shoes without having to walk the malls?” I signed back into my latent TC account and tried again. I have a different stylist this time, but had a similar experience right off the bat. Explaining my situation and exactly what types of qualities I need in a boot (ankle height, no heel, zippers or ties—no slip-ons, etc.), she sent me the email/app post with my trunk to review. The first pair of boots in there was a knee-high riding boot. Umm, didn’t I say I needed exactly the opposite of that? There were another couple of pairs of booties but they were slip-ons. I can’t bend my toes enough for awhile to be able to do that—I really need lace-up or zippers or something so I can just slide my foot in almost sideways. Which I had already told her. Only one pair of booties looked like they might work—the ones pictured here. I have high hopes for them because they’re also pretty dang cute.   

Yeah, they’re pricey. But if they work, it’s worth it to me. Besides, they’re adorbs. I’d wear them a lot. They’re not exactly snow boots for plowing through drifts, but for walking on shoveled sidewalks and on slushy surfaces (what I’ll be doing when I travel) they’d be fine. What I mostly like is that they’re laced all the way down to the toe, so presumably I’ll be able to keep the left one as wide as I need now, but still be able to wear it well after my foot has heeled. And by the way, the folded top can also be worn unfolded, so it covers my whole ankle area if I need. I love that I can wear this one either way—it becomes much more versatile that way. 

The nice thing about Trunk Club is that you do get to review the Trunk before it gets sent, and remove items you don’t want. All the boots except the ones above got ditched, plus a couple of other things she’d added in that I don’t need. I had also mentioned that I don’t have a hat, scarf, or gloves to match the winter coat I’d bought for myself at a big sale (paid $20 for it!) at the beginning of the season. It’s a bright emerald green puffer jacket—the warmest but lightest winter coat I’ve ever worn, and slightly more stylish than my parka. The parka is for sledding. I wear the puffer jacket for everything else, and I’ll be wearing it on this work trip. So, in the pic, you’ll see at the bottom a peek at some of the other options she’s sending—a couple of pairs of gloves, a couple of knit caps, and a couple of scarves. She also threw a couple of sweaters and a cardigan, plus a pair of leggings, in the initial trunk. I’d removed a bunch of things from the review trunk as they were similar to stuff I already owned or really don’t need right now. In the trunk I’ll be getting, she replaced those with some other items that do actually have some possibilities. So we’ll see.

I imagine I’ll be getting the trunk towards the end of this week. I get five days to try things before sending it back. I never took all five days before because it takes me all of about 30 seconds to try something on and know if it’s going to work or not. This time, however, I may have to time the boots try-on for after my stitches are removed, so the 5 days will be helpful. 

We’ll see. I’m still not enthusiastic about Trunk Club because I really had given her enough information that, if she’d paid attention to it, several of the items wouldn’t have been in there. I often felt like TC stylists are given certain things they’re supposed to include in all the trunks regardless of client’s wishes—“Here’s the top we need you to push this week”—or something. But they are handy for situations like this. I’ll keep you posted.