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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Black Belt Test, Food and Fun

My nephew Michael tested for his black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  This makes him the 4th black belt in our family.  My dad was a third degree black belt in Judo.  My boys are black belts in Karate, and now Michael has a black belt too.  Very cool.

My sister pulled out all the stops on the party preparations.  She made the invitations to show the belt colors, starting at white...on up to black.  The M&Ms reflected belt colors too.  There was one fruit and one veggie for each belt color.  Plates and balloons followed suit.  The cake was fabulous.  She uses a recipe book called the Cake Doctor.  I HAVE to get a copy of that book.

The last picture shows Michael holding up his new uniform - love that cheesy grin!

There's No Place Like Home

Two weeks, 1276 pins, and many miles later...I finally found my binding fabric.  Hooray!  I knew it would take time to get this quilt pin-basted, so I took my time selecting a binding.  The search spanned several weeks and LQSs in three states. 

Funny part is, I found the fabric at The Stitcher's Crossing (See )...which is right where my search began.  The tone on tone fabric will blend perfectly with the homespun backing, and echoes the purple squares in the quilt.  Got some great advice from the folks at Stitcher's Crossing about types of thread, colors, etc.  Found a fun variegated purple that I'll use in the purple squares and on the outer border.  Can't wait to get started!

The Cottage Rose Quilt Shop

Had the opportunity to visit The Cottage Rose Quilt Shop in Marion, Iowa.  Staff were friendly and helpful.  In addition to fabric, patterns and notions, this shop sells Janome sewing machines and supplies.  The staff took time to show me how to wind a bobbin properly (mine come out all raggedy) and shared tips for adjusting the machine for FMQ.  Upstairs they have a lovely retreat area.  Pictured here are the work area and the living room. Each of the beds has a quilt on it.  Also pictured here is fabric I purchased, a pattern I picked up and information about area quilt shops.  For more info see:

Connie's Quilt Shop in Marion, IA

Spent some time in Iowa this weekend, and visited Connie's Quilt Shop.  Connie sells fabrics, books, patterns and notions.  The shop in is small house.  At one time Connie made her home and her shop all in one house.  Eventually, the business grew and she opted to reside elsewhere.  Connie uses every inch of available space to display her wares.  Fabric bolts line the walls from floor to ceiling.  Some are displayed on the staircase.  Sale items can be found in the bathtub.  She has a great variety of fabrics for children's quilts.  She even has some intriguing quilty jigsaw puzzles. For more info see:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - If a Little is Good....

...More must be Better!  Our all-you-can-eat thinking is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.  Eating out can be hazardous to one's waistline.  Restaurants serve single portions that eclipse my intake for three meals.  A European restaurant started charging fines to people who do not clean up their plates.  The patron was tired of all the food waste.  Perhaps if she offered smaller portions, she could reduce waste AND refrain from alienating her clientele. 

But help is on the way.  Soon all food/restaurant chains with 20 or more locations must provide nutritional data.  I applaud the many  that do so voluntarily now, such as The Olive Garden, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co., Old Chicago, Culvers, and a host of fast food eateries. 

But there is MUCH room for improvement.  If you want a "lite" version of a given entree you often  have to ask that it be prepared in a special way.  When I go out to eat, someone else is supposed to be responsible for the cooking.  If I have to instruct the waiter or counter staff how to prepare my food (according to their own policy), heck, I may as well go home and make it myself. LOL

A friend and I wanted to split a 9 ounce steak - which we knew would cook down to about 7 ounces, giving us each 3.5 ounces of meat.  The waitress insisted that there would not be enough meat - that we would be unhappy with our choice.  She was wrong.  Waiters and waitresses stand to lose a portion of their tips if two people order just one meal, with no appetizers, no booze and no dessert.  So if you split a meal, tip the wait staff a little more generously. 

Another option is to order something decadent, even if its more than I can eat.  I ask for a carry out container when the food arrives.  I want to cut everything in half, and take it home with me, to enjoy the next day.  To keep from overeating (just because the food is in front of me), I want to pack it up before I begin eating.  Waiters and waitresses can't understand this and invariably bring me the container at the end of the meal, not the beginning.  By that time I may have already snitched some of tomorrow's brown bag lunch!

And then there are bottomless glasses of sugar-laden, caffeinated soda pop.  If your kid orders one of these - watch out!  The refills are automatically brought to the table.  This is how we end up with 1 in 3 children being overweight.  And how about the alcohol...there are about 100 calories in a 1/2 cup of white wine.  But restaurants easily provide 2-4 times as much.  I've encountered just one exception...a restaurant that has a 100 calorie margarita. That was perfect!

Food and menu trends will be moving in our direction soon.  If profit margins are in jeopardy, food manufacturers and restaurants will set a higher priority to provide flavorful, attractive and balanced meals in appropriate portions.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flower Report

Quilting progress (pin basting) has slowed to a crawl. I'll need 972 pins just for the interior blocks, and more for the inner and outer borders. SOOO here are some flowers to enjoy in the meantime...

These lilies will bloom for much of the summer.Love the unusual colors of this Coral Bell.This Jack in the Pulpit came to me from an elderly woman who graced our neighborhood for many years. Despite her modest means, she always wanted to pay my boys for their help.  So we asked her if we could dig up some perrenials for payment .  This plant came to us in that manner.  I've had it for three years and its finally looking robust and content. Its hard to see in the picture, but a bud is forming.  I hope to show it to you soon! 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Rose Bud Top Complete!

Hooray!  The Rose Bud quilt top is complete.  I hope to find a suitable backing later today.  Started the pillow tops thinking they would be for a 16x16" pillow form.  Did some fuzzy math and ended up with 21" squares.  When I realized my error I decided to go with it.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Finishing Touches

Been draggin' my feet.  Can't move forward 'til I make a decision....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Strong Women Stay Young

My Wednesday Weigh In post is a day or two early...If the usual diet/exercise routine isn't working for you, consider this.  Its an exercise program and morale booster all in one:

The Strong Women Stay Young program from Tufts University shows that frail elderly women with arthritis who engage in slow repetitions of light weight lifting can regain muscle mass, strengthen bones and more.  There is a series of books, including Strong Women Stay Slim, and Strong Women and Men Beat Arthritis.  Pictured here are my dog-eared copies, dated 2000.  You'll want to check out the updated versions.  You'll also want to run any prospective exercise program  past your doctor.

The following graphic is what convinced me to give it a try:

The top photo shows a CAT scan of a thigh belonging to a moderately active 25 year old woman.  Notice the muscle and fat layer.  The next photo shows the thigh of a sedentary 58 year old woman.  Notice diminished muscle, and increased fat layer.  The bottom photo shows the thigh of a 63 year old woman engaged in weight training, with thighs looking much like the 25 year old. 

I figured if little old ladies could do it, so could I!  I followed the SWSY program for several years.  I kept my weights in a basket in the living room and lifted while watching the news.  I only gained weight back when I let my exercise routine go by the wayside.  This was a recipe for trouble, considering I have a desk job, and I'm not getting any younger.  I hope to resume the program soon, pending approval by my physical therapist. 

We constantly hear about "revolutionary" food and exercise programs that are usually ineffective.  This makes us skeptical, and rightly so.  So don't just believe me.  Consider this review from Library Journal:

"Studies have shown that weight-bearing exercise improves bone density, crucial to preventing osteoporosis in women. Nelson's research at the School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, the results of which were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, proves that strength training also improves balance, increases energy, and helps to control weight, especially when used in conjunction with regular aerobic activity. This book presents a program for strength training based on a graduated schedule of weight-lifting exercises. The exercises can be done either with free weights or on a weight-lifting machine. In addition, Nelson provides suggestions for maintaining one's motivation and finding the time for exercise. Well done and easy to follow, this would be a useful purchase for public and health libraries." Susan Hagloch, Tuscarawas Cty. P.L., New Philadelphia, Ohio

For more info, see: ,
and ,
or take a walk and visit your local library.  :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Quilt Cove

My final stop was at the Quilt Cove, in Eagan, MN.  There's a lot to see there!

I was asked to limit my picture taking to a broad view of the shop.  If you want to see more, visit in person or see  Its unfortunate when people copy someone else's work - particularly when said work is someone's livelihood. 

Four Seasons Quilts

My second stop was at Four Seasons Quilts ( ) in Plymouth, MN. This shop has a lot of Civil War era prints and 1930s reproductions. I was intrigued by the quilt top pictured below in greens and yellow.  

Norske Nook & the Quilt Yard

I did a one woman shop hop this weekend.  First stop - Osseo, Wisconsin.  Home to the famous Norske Nook Bakery and Restaurant.  They're well known for their pies, and portions are generous.  You might want to split a piece with a friend.  See:

Around the corner you'll find the Quilt Yard. It was raining and dreary outside, but the shop was bright and cheerful.  Staffer Genell helped me locate a fabric I've been searching for.  Across the street they have space for classes and retreats.  Owner Betty Cotton is the author of Cotton Theory Quilting.  See: