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Friday, July 30, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Food Labels

I love this image...what ingenuity! 

But before you head to the grocery store, consider this:  While one in three Americans struggles to eat healthy and lose excess weight, many big name food manufacturers use label gimmicks to influence beliefs and behavior.  The unwary shopper may pay more for food that does not deliver the implied benefits. 

Read on for a better understanding of health claims on food labels.

Label Making Tutorial

I always mean to make a label, but just never get around to it.  Today I took the plunge.  I had everything I needed on hand: a word processing program, freezer paper, muslin and a printer.

Step 1- Create label in the word processing program of your choice.  Print it on regular paper for effect.

Step 2 - Cut an 8.5 x 11" piece of freezer paper.  Press shiny side of freezer paper to wrong side of fabric. 
Step 3 - Trim excess fabric. I was worried loose edges might jam my printer, so I pressed all the edges again.

Step 4 - This is the scary part.  Load it into your printer and hit "print."  My printer made some unusual sounds when it picked up the freezer paper, but everthing fed smoothly.  Whew!!

Step 5 - Inspect your label.  I had to print 3 because the first 2 had black smudges on them.  I also embellished my label a bit further.  Here's the final product.
Step 6 - This is important: Take a plain white piece of paper and cover your label to prevent smudging.  Press one more time to set the dye.  Your label is now laundry-proof. 

Step 7 - Peel off freezer paper.  Finish label edges on your sewing machine.  Slip stitch label to back of quilt by hand. 

Now that I've done it, I have to wonder why I didn't do it sooner!  I expect all my projects will be labeled and dated in the future.  I may even go back and make a label for some older quilts.  :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Stitch-in-the-Ditch Foot

I have a confession to make.  I'm not always open to change.  After sewing for years and years on the same simple machine...I look at the collection of doo-dads for my Horizon...and think, "WHAT the heck do I need THIS one for?!" 

I'd been itchin' to take the stitch-in-the-ditch foot for a trial run.  I was skeptical, as I was pretty certain I had this technique nailed down pat.  But WOW!  How much easier with the specially designed foot!  I liked it SO well I got all the inner borders on the quilt and pillow stitched. 
Isn't that the finest ditch-stitching in all the land?  Only problem is that I have to do something artsty and flowery for the outer border.  Better sleep on that decision.  Tommorrow I'll work on the label.  I have something special in mind.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

STILL Stippling...

...but I'm in the home stretch!  I love the texture the stippling creates - just how I envisioned it.  Soon I can stitch the borders. Also want to make a nice label (something I tend to forget).  Anybody know where I can get the special fabric to run through my laser printer? 

I didn't complete the quilt in time for the 2010 Love, Lauren (online) event, (,_Lauren_org3.html) , but that's OK.  I'll have it ready for the 2011 get together.  By doing it next year, bidders can actually see and feel the quilt, and fluff the pillows. That should foster some friendly competition, and raise more funds for JBRF.  :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Quilter's Apprentice

My friend loves to hunt for treasure at used book shops.  When she finds a quilting book, she snags it for me.   The Quilter's Apprentice is a story of a young accountant, searching for meaningful work.  She accepts a temporary position preparing an estate for sale, and requests her payment in the form of quilting lessons.  Interesting discussion about color gradients, contrast, hand and machine piecing and quilting, women's rights, folklore surrounding traditional patterns, and their use in the underground railroad.  A quick read - worth reading twice.  Once to follow the story line, and twice to note quilting techniques and lore.  The author's website is at:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Janome Horizon - Part 3

My new bloggy friend, Pat ( asked how I like my Janome Horizon. I've had it two months.  Here she is in her shining glory.

Given my limited time (8 wks) with the machine, and my atypical sewing methods


1.  The Accufeed system is fantastic for straight line stitching.  I could even see using it on a jeans quilt.
2.  The 1/4 inch foot makes piecing a breeze.  Far more accurate than marking 1/4 inch on your machine with masking tape.
3.  The quilt table is nice for small projects - say up to 50".  Less satisfactory for a queen sized quilt.
4.  Love the automatic plate converter. 
5.  Can use the start and stop buttons easily when piecing a quilt or doing straight line quilting.
6.  Used clear monofilament thread in the top thread and had no problems with it.  Did not use it in the bobbin cuz  I read that it winds too tightly in the bobbin and tends to snarl. 

1.  The Accufeed system (disengaged) gets in the way when doing FMQ.  Had to alter my hand positions on the quilt to prevent it from coming down on my finger when lowering the presser foot. 
2.  The Accufeed system (disengaged) tends to snag things...such as quilting gloves and basting pins.  It should really be higher up when not in use.
3.  When threading the machine, Step 4 can be a stinker.  If you don't have the uptake lever all the way up, it won't feed properly.  You'll hear a nasty clunking sound and get a huge rat's nest on the underside of the quilt. I took the machine in, thinking it was defective.....only to learn it was operator error.  LOL
4.  Using the start/stop button while doing FMQ is tricky.  I've learned to keep all four fingers on the quilt, and only lift my thumb to hit the button.  My starts and stops aren't as neat and clean as I had hoped.  Until my right leg decides to cooperate, I'll just have to practice, practice, practice.
5.  I expected to be able to use the automatic thread cutter and NOT to have to pull the bottom thread up to the top before stitching again.  Was just told that feature doesn't work for quilting, only for sewing. 
6.  The dealer said they'd be offering free classes, but now they say they won't do so until fall.


1.  A quilt instructor said that she has never seen a machine so accurate that you could use one thread color on top and another color on the back without the bottom color showing on the front.  I found this to be true when I used the monofilament thread on top and an off white bobbin thread.  There may be a way to adjust for it. 
2.  I haven't had to adjust the tension at all.  Even the presser foot tension seemed fine for FMQ.  I had been advised to reduce it from the standard setting (7) to 2 or 3.  Really haven't needed it.
3.  I'm eager to try some applique and embroidery on this machine.  Will do that when I make the label.
4.  I have no trouble threading the needle by hand.  In fact, the only problem I have is that the automatic needle threader is kind of in the way. 

BOTTOM LINE: I think I'm going to have fun learning all these feature for years to come. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Managing the Munchies

Hunger - my ever-present companion - threatens to derail my carefully crafted  diet and exercise plan.  And yes, brownies DO call to me!!  Here's part of the problem:

Breakfast - 6:00 AM.  Lunch - Noon.  Dinner - 6:00 PM. 

AM Munchie Ideas:  instant oatmeal, 1 cup (iron-fortified) cereal, banana.
PM Snack Attack: grape tomatoes and baby carrots, or a Granny Smith apple with baby Swiss cheese.

For more ideas about healthy snacking and mini-meals, see:

Good-bye Hunger!

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Tricks

Who says an old dog can't learn something new?  I think I've finally mastered stippling.  I can't stitch it freehand, but I can draw it freehand with disappearing ink, then stitch.  If my stitching is hair off, no one will be the wiser with the lines disappear!
I picked up a "Blue Water-Soluble Marking Pencil."  They lie.  I tested it on muslin.  The blue marks didn't fade after an hour of soaking.  Soaked it overnight.  No dice.  Scrubbed it by hand.  Those blue marks never did come out.  So I filed it! :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hey Look - Its Me!

FSD is a trade publication for the food service industry.   Each month they run a column called "My Other Passion."  Just for fun I sent them a photo of my food quilt, and they liked it.  We (my quilt and I) are in the July 15 edition.  Guess this is my 15 minutes of fame!

The story can be found online at

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Pedometers

 I can't say enough good things about a regular walking program.  I'm reaching higher and higher step counts.  The walking (almost every day) and weight training (2-3 times a week) has reaped some benefits already.  Today I climbed a flight of stairs and found my legs weren't tired when I got to the top.  Its also good for my attitude.  If I'm at the grocery store and forgot an item 9 rows back  - I'd normally be annoyed.  But with a pedometer on, I can see how the extra steps contribute to my goal. 

Its important to have a good pedometer.  Mine is an Accusplit Eagle.  This is the best pedometer I've found to date.  It even works right when I clip it to a soft waist band, such as sweat pants.

My strategy is to break my walks into manageable amounts throughout the day. I get to work and when feasible, take a walk of 0.8 miles mid morning.  In the afternoon I do the same.  Then you throw in walking throughout the day.  That usually puts me at about 6000 steps.  So, I come home and walk the dog 2000 steps.  And bingo!  8000 steps on the pedometer.  Victory is Sweet!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Half Way There!

Haven't posted anything quilty for a while, cuz progress has been slow.  But now I have 25 rose buds quilted, and 17 to go.  Then I can start on the background stippling.  The roses in the center of the quilt were most difficult due to the weight and bulk.  Even with the 11" clearance, it was a challenge.  Someone, puh-lease stop me if I ever say I want to FMQ another queen sized project! 

The sewing cabinet under the window used to reside in my bedroom, and that was all the space I had - coupled of course, with the kitchen table.  Its great to have a little elbow room.  :)

Friday, July 9, 2010


My Jack-in-the-Pulpit had 3 buds for over a week. 
I couldn't recall what the flowers looked like, so I took a peek.  WOW!

I'm glad I took that peek, because the plant only flowered for one day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Do the Math

I love this picture.  We all make mistakes, but with an eraser you can back up and try again! That strategy can be applied to algebra homework or a weight control equation.  Here's how my diet/exercise plan is supposed to work: 

1600 calories (intake) - 1365 (basal metabolism) - 800 (calories burned walking 4 miles) = -565

This plan will allow me to lose about one pound a week.  I've made a decision NOT to eat less than 1500-1600 calories a day, because low calorie diets don't provide sufficient nutrients, and heck - I'm just plain hungry!  I also know I won't be able to walk 4 miles each and every day.  I'm slowly working my way back up to 10,000 steps a day.  I'm happy to making gradual, measurable progress. 

But here's the rub: if I indulge in some chocolate (+200 calories) and am unable to take my usual walks, I may walk less than one mile in a day - thanks to having a desk job.  These calculations are far less flattering:

1800 (intake) - 1365 (basal metabolism) - 200 (calories burned walking 1 mile) = +235 calories

In this scenario, I'll maintain or slowly gain weight.  This demonstrates how diet and exercise can only take you so far. 

But there is one variable in the equation that can still be manipulated: basal metabolism.  By building muscle, our bodies will burn more calories.  I've mentioned the Strong Women Stay Young program before.  In the past this provided the extra something I needed to keep my weight under control.  According to my old weight lifting notes, I was lifting 10-15 lb hand weights regularly.  I hope to work my way back up, but for now I'm happy with my little 2 pounders! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Voice Activated Quilting?

Dear Janome,

I don't have full use of my right leg at this time.  I've retrained myself to do many things with the left side of my body, but don't have sufficient coordination to manage a pedal with my left foot.  The Start/Stop button on my Horizon is a BIG help.  I can piece quilts easily without a foot pedal or knee lifter.  But free motion quilting requires two hands on the fabric at all times.  So how do I start and stop the machine?

Then it occured to me - we have voice-activated word processors, phones, and even cars!  We have the tehnology!  So why not make a voice activated Start/Stop function on a sewing machine?!

It sometimes feels there are so many things I CAN'T do.  So I am actively seeking things I CAN continue to do with modification or adaptive equipment.  Please help make this a reality not just for me, but for those folks who are wheelchair bound, and wish to continue to do meaningful work, despite their physical challenges.  

I hope you will take this earnest request to heart.  Thanks for listening!

Quilter Chris

Lessons Learned

Found some time between festivities to quilt this weekend.  I'm still new to FMQ, am getting used to a new machine, a different thread than I'm accustomed to, and all the bulk of a queen sized quilt to wrestle into submission. I practiced on muslin first.  Got my rhythm and speed in perfect sync and was able to use continuous line quilting for this red rose bud motif. 

Summoned my courage and began quilting.  The Janome Horizon performed beautifully.  Experimented with the right table set up.  This still needs improvment.

I sewed one full row of rose buds.  The hardest part (getting started) is behind me now.  Onward, ho!  :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - New Rule

Don't Blog 'til You Walk the Dog!

If my motivation is lagging, Dottie provides additional incentive to get moving.  :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Food Fabric

My sister has the nicest MIL - her name is Bernie.  Whenever we visit, Bernie joins the fun.  In addition to having my sister and her family in common, Bernie enjoys sewing and assembles quilt tops for her church - so we always find plenty to talk about.  After seeing pics of my food/picnic quilt (, Bernie set aside these fabrics and a pattern for me.  She'd made a wall hanging for her daughter's kitchen, and found she had more food fabric than needed.  Next time we visit she's invited me to come to her place to look over some of her patterns and such. I'm looking forward that in the future.  :)

Opa! Greek Salad

It's well known that the Mediterranean diet offers many health benefits, so I tried a Greek Salad recipe from the Joy of Cooking.  It called for oregano, but I decided to use Wildtree's Opa! Greek Seasoning Blend.   I didn't have all of the salad ingredients (who eats anchovies anyway?) but used what I had: mixed greens, green onions, black olives, plum tomatoes and feta cheese.  I tried the salad with dressing.  That tasted good, so I drizzled my salmon fillet with the olive oil/lemon dressing.  DEE-lish!   This dressing can double as a marinade or sauce to brush on a fillet before baking or broiling.  Here's the recipe:

6-7 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 TBSP Lemon Juice
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1 tsp Oregano
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Whisk together and enjoy!