Home Project Update - Walk In Closet

Our walk-in closet is pretty large. There's even a window in it. We have to treat it like an separate room. It's that big.

Jeff tore out the carpet and moulding in the closet and prepped the room so I could paint. There's tons of Closet Maid shelving in there that has to go. I am tired of taking clothing out only to find the wire shelf imprint on the sweater I wanted to wear. These photos reflect only some of the shelving as Jeff tore out half of it before I took the photos.

Once everything was removed from the room and the walls repaired - all those holes from the anchors! - I could paint. I purchased a gallon of the best Behr paint that Home Depot has. The color is called Fresh Croissant. Surprisingly, I used almost the entire gallon painting that closet.

After the painting was done we were ready for Andy, our flooring guy to install the new floor. The day after Andy finished the closet floor, we ran to IKEA and purchased one wardrobe unit just to make sure it would fit. On paper it did, but I need the visual to see how it looked before pulling the trigger on more of the wardrobe units.

The first unit fit like a charm so we went back the next day to purchase the rest only to find out that some of the drawers are out of stock. That was disappointing as we're both getting testy since every time we want to get dressed we have to figure out which bin our clothing is in. And the stuff that's on hangers is stacked on the bed of our guest room.

Our poor kitty who is so very nervous between his domain being torn apart, a stranger in the house making so much banging noise and losing all his favorite sleeping spots, he decided to make some new sleeping spots. Jeff is not too excited about it. He asked me to keep the spare bedroom door closed but I chose not to so the kitty would have some extra hiding places since he is so freaked out.

We are making some good progress. This photo is pretty dark because there's no light in the closet yet. The rich,dark color of the closet organizers make the room feel fancy. So I am determined to find an old chandelier at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to hang in there. In the meantime, we will just have to use the sun. Today it is supposed to snow, so the sun isn't much help right now. I hung an old embossed linen curtain panel in there. It is gorgeous. I wish I had two panels instead of just the one. On Tuesday the missing drawers will be delivered to the house so we will finish up the IKEA part of the closet installation at that time. Jeff is building a bench for under the window and some drawers and cubbies on the opposite wall from the windows. I can't wait until that's done but I'm sure it will take a while. All that sawing, hammering, staining and urethaneing takes time.


My Small World Home Stretch

I've been very sporadic when it comes to working on this quilt. I am happy that I've finished all the sections of this quilt except one. Of course for me, it's the hardest one. It's the one that requires tons of hand applique and English paper piecing. I don't know much about EPP but I am ready to get this finished so I will figure it out very soon.

I hand appliqued the rainbow and the dresden pieces and stitched them to their background today. In the pattern these two pieces are supposed to be hills on a countryside but in my version, I wanted a sunshine and a rainbow.

The last two appliqued pieces are hexies and an arch made up of small triangles. I really have the desire to get this done I just wish I had more free time. 


Trip to Menomonie, Wisconsin

We spent Easter weekend with my brother and his family in Menomonie, Wisconsin. It's normally a 4-hour drive that we made even longer by taking the back roads. We planned to stop at antique shops and flea markets along the way if we happened to find any. We did enjoy the view and with all the flooding that's been happening across our state, we actually got to see some up close. This is the Wolf River where the road is lined with sandbags.

We did find antique shops but I have to admit, after frequenting the Habitat for Humanity ReStores, I struggle to pay antique shop prices. Everything at the ReStore is priced to sell quickly. I've found many bargains there. I am by no means an expert on anything antique so many things I see I don't understand how it is priced. Currently, I am looking for old galvanized steel buckets. I don't care if they are a little rusty as long as they won't leak. At the antiques shop we stopped at, I've found them priced anywhere between $6 and $12. That seems like a lot for small rusty buckets.

We found a flea market in Princeton, Wisconsin. There were so many people there, it took us over an hour just to browse through all the goodies. I haggled with a farmer for a stainless steel milk bucket and ended up paying $20 for this beauty. It's a nice large size that will look cute with flowers in it on my front porch this summer.

I also picked up this chicken dish. I haggled the price down to $10. It is so pretty on my kitchen table. Just to prove my point, I took this photo next to a clear dish that is exactly the same as the bottom half of the chicken dish. I paid 50 cents for the clear dish at the ReStore. I am spoiled by the bargains I find there.

We traveled the back roads in search of an old antique dresser. Our plan is to turn a dresser into a bathroom sink. If we don't find one in the near future, we have a 'Plan B' but for now we will keep looking.

Our trip to Menomonie was wonderful. It was great to get my mother to come along. We had 4 generations together for the holiday weekend. It is difficult to photograph my mother, so sadly I have no photos of everyone together to share. Some of my favorite photos from the long weekend are of my granddaughter Chloe and my nephew Quinn together. They are close in age and like the same things. If we lived closer to each other I am certain they would be best friends as well as second-cousins.


Mary's Quilts

My friend Mary brought over 3 quilts last week. I told her I would do my best to get them done for her as soon as possible. As we walked over boxes of flooring to look at her quilt tops she understood why it might take a little while for me to get to quilting. She was in no hurry so it didn't matter to her. But it matters to me.

While our flooring guy, Andy was here doing the install I decided this was a good time to spend the day in my sewing studio. I would be out of his way and frankly, what else could I do? He needed lots of space to work.

I quilted one of her quilts today while chatting with Andy. Within a few hours I got one of her quilts done. It's bright and cheerful. I think Mary and I have the same taste in fabrics. I always love her quilts.

It's a nice feeling to get something normal done among the chaos of our floor project.


Gypsy Wife #2 Quilt Along Progress

I completed the half-square triangle blocks for my second version of the Gypsy Wife today. I had so much fun choosing the fabrics for these two blocks. And I had fun putting them together.

I find it very satisfying when my pieces fit together like they're supposed to. Is it crazy that I like the looks of the blocks from the wrong side as well as the right side?

It is so important to press the seams and square up pieces to the correct size before sewing up the whole block. It make such a big difference in the results. And I love Best Press. It comes in such pretty scents and my fabrics are always crisp which helps with accuracy.

I am enjoying the Gypsy Wife Quilt Along and I am happy that the QA is doing just one section per month. It fits my time schedule perfectly.


Jeff's Birthday and Fondant

My 9-year old granddaughter, Chloe asked me the other day if I knew what fondant was. I told her yes and asked her if she knew what it was. She described it as something like play-dough that was sweet. She said she saw it on an episode of Nailed It and she asked me if I would get her some. Of course I said yes. I also mentioned to her that if she had any extra when she was done making whatever it was she saw on the television show, she might want to use some to decorate her grandpa's birthday cake.
So we went to Jo-Ann Fabrics armed with coupons just in case the stuff was not on sale. Chloe was very excited. She chose some white and some with primary colors. There was also pastel fondant available but Chloe is not into those colors. She likes bold. She was disappointed that there was no purple as it is her favorite color. I reminded her that we could make purple so that helped her make the primary color selection. Fondant is not cheap. We came home with 2 boxes of the stuff to the tune of over $20. And that was after the coupons were applied.

I inquired about the television show, Nailed It and of course Chloe ran for her tablet and showed me an episode of it. I'm pretty sure they use fondant in more than half of the episodes of that show.  So now that she had the fondant I asked her what she was going to make and I think the question overwhelmed her. Or the show did. So I went back to my suggestion that she decorate her grandpa's birthday cake. The only problem was that I hadn't made him a cake yet. Chloe agreed to wait until the next day to use the fondant so I promptly went about looking for the right cake recipe.

After some thought, I decided cupcakes were the way to go. That way she could spend more time decorating them in a variety of ways. And her little sister, Avery could help too. It was a win-win. I chose a vanilla sour-cream cupcake recipe that yielded only 14 cupcakes. I hate when there are leftover baked goods that go to waste and since we don't really eat many sweets, I knew I would eventually be throwing cupcakes away.

The next day we all gathered around the kitchen table with a plate full of freshly-baked and cooled cupcakes. I gave the girls each their own cutting board, rolling pin and a plastic knife. They each took a cupcake and started to decorate them. Chloe says the first one she wanted to make for her grandpa would have the 'Green Packers' logo on it. So so cute!

Then we tasted the fondant and got a unanimous yuck! The box states that you can add flavoring and I guess we should have. For certain, we are all fondant rookies. I guess this means the girls won't be eating the leftovers.

As it usually goes with children, they lost interest rather quickly. With 14 cupcakes to decorate, they grew tired of it after the third one. So their mama started to decorate some which sparked the girls' imaginations and they came back to the table to decorate some more. As it goes with Chloe, there had to be one with a dinosaur on it. And Avery had to make one with a heart. The Green Bay Packers' green and gold was well represented on many of the cupcakes.

I sure wish I would have taken more photos while we decorated the cupcakes but I was too engrossed in being part of the experience than to stop and grab the camera. We all had such a great time.

So here are a few of the finished cupcakes after we sand happy birthday and ate some.


Patriotic Lap Quilts

Some of the ladies at the local American Legion post gave me their leftover patriotic fabrics they wouldn't be using. I stitched the fabrics together to make some patchwork panels and added borders with the larger pieces from the donated fabrics.

Using leftover batting from larger quilt projects, I stitched the batting pieces together to fit the patchwork panels and loaded them on my longarmer. This nice donation made 5 lapsized quilts that will be taken to the VA hospital at Christmastime.


Garlic Chicken Stir Fry

I love to make chicken fried rice. I love it so much I make it almost once a week. It's an opportunity to use up any vegetables in the fridge that are left from other meals or from me over-buying too much from the produce department at the grocery store. My husband who never complains when I cook loves it as much as I do. Last week he mentioned two other stir-fry dishes I occasionally make which leads me to believe he is getting tired of my stir fry but is too nice to say so.

So I tried a new recipe - garlic chicken stir-fry. The difference in this recipe is not so much the ingredients but the sauce. And it has cashews in it and who doesn't love cashews. When I try new recipes I make them exactly as stated. It drives me crazy when people will comment on online recipes about how they didn't like the recipe then state how they changed things up. I can't help but think that maybe if they followed the directions it would have been better. So I followed the recipe as stated and the results were fantastic.

It was so good I had to take a picture.

Here's the recipe:
Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided
1 cup broccoli florets
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1 cup mushrooms, halved
1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup cashew halves
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1. In a large pan, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat.
2. Add the broccoli, carrots, mushrooms and bell pepper to the pan. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Remove vegetables from the pan; keep warm.
4. Heat remaining oil over high heat.
5. Add chicken to the pan in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes per side or until chicken is browned and cooked through.
6. Lower heat to medium and add garlic and cashews; cook for 30 seconds.
7. Add the vegetables back into the pan.
8. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil and cornstarch.
9. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 1-2 minutes or until the sauce has just thickened.
10. Serve immediately with steamed rice.

I don't think I will make any changes to this recipe, we like it exactly as it is!


What's on the design board?

 I am slowing working on my second gypsy wife quilt. I finished section #3 today and I'm ready to sew it to the first two sections.

I like this variation of the quilt. I am using fussy-cut cat fabrics to make a whimsical version.

I think I might be ending my time at the senior center for a while during our home improvement project. It will be hard to give up but necessary.