Work In Progress Wednesday

Alternate title: Why I dislike hexagons

There came a point while working with this project when I said to my husband that I just wanted it to be over with. Then, I felt like I had a handle on things and enjoyed it. ¬†That lasted about half a minute and I’m back to disliking this. I spent my hard-earned money on it, though so I will be finishing it. This week preferably. I have baby quilts to get working on!

In theory, this isn’t a challenging project, but lining up the points for the angles was just so darn hard for me! I tried different methods of laying it out and pinning it, but nothing has made this simple. My seam ripper has gotten a LOT of use in the past week ūüôā

The good news is that this project helped me make up my mind about our bedroom. It is my goal to finally get around to decorating it and making it a cozy spot this Spring. I chose this pillow kit because I loved the patterns and colors and thought that I could use them to compliment a quilt. We have a king sized bed. As I was attempting to practice some free-motion quilting yesterday afternoon, I realized that there was no way I could handle doing a quilt of that size. Then, I started calculating and decided that since I still haven’t finished piecing the top of the quilt I had planned for our queen sized bed, it would be best to not bite off more than I can chew.

However. I have found so many beautiful patterns I think that I will stick to making them in the smaller sizes and content myself with learning skills. All that to say, it’s a good thing I love throw pillows, because once I finish this one, I’m back to right angles for a while!

What are you working on this week?

Scrambling!

At the beginning of the year, the fitness group I belong to, Mommy and Me Fitness, initiated a fitness challenge to jump start everyone’s new year resolutions and get us all moving again, despite the dreary winter weather. At the same time, I’m in training for a real sprint triathlon in a few months and so I’ve been using this as the motivation to keep myself going during this hard part where I really don’t want to go to the gym and exercise. Melissa has been offering fun tips on the Facebook page for the challenge and it’s helped get me out of my rut.

I’ve been keeping an eye on my calories over the last year and noticed that I really don’t get enough protein. I don’t like it in general, so this has been a rough area for me. I do like cheese and I like eggs, so I’ve been making scrambles for myself a few times a week. I like to add either broccoli or kale to mine right now, but in the Spring, I think there will be asparagus too! ¬†Even if I have this as an after workout snack, it’s filling without using up too many calories… the total calorie count (according to Livestrong MyPlate) is a mere 287. It does pack a nutritional punch with 20 grams of¬†protein!

Feta and Kale Scramble

  • 2 eggs
  • a Sploosh of milk
  • 2 Tbsp. Feta cheese
  • 1 cup kale, chopped

Whisk the eggs well and add the other three ingredients. The feta is salty enough that I didn’t add any extra salt, but I did crack some black pepper into the eggs and added a pinch of garlic powder. I like my eggs dry, so it took a while to cook the eggs until I was satisfied. But you do what you like. ūüôā

Salads and jump starting my Spring Cleaning

Last week was overwhelmingly busy for me. I don’t like to have more than 2 outside activities in a week, but somehow, I scheduled myself at least 1 thing every single day. Sheer foolishness. Add to this, my poor husband was in the process of finding a new renter for our first home and the whole family was pretty frazzled by the end of the week. Thankfully, we did have fun and we do have a renter happily contracted for 2 whole years!

Today being Monday, I dove right in with my usual chores and the week’s goal list. What started out as just unloading the dishwasher and cleaning out the fridge turned into a 2 hour long deep cleaning of the kitchen. I didn’t realize how much time had passed until I saw Sylvi standing in the hallway, awake from her nap.

This tidy state didn’t last long… don’t worry ūüėČ

Of course, while I was working away and one child was sleeping, the other was left unattended. He’s pretty quiet when he’s alone and content, so I kind of forgot about him. (Does this give you an idea of the impending disaster?) He was very helpful to me by taking every single last toy out of their bins and spreading them all over the living room. I’ll admit to being shocked when I came around the corner and saw the chaos. On the upside, I went through the toys (since they were laid out for me to see anyway) and weeded out the ones no one plays with on a regular basis, and swapped them out for the Lauri pegs, Farm animal Dominos, Farm animal lacing cards and beads.

Not pictured: the couch, behind the love seat and the dining room.

Our day ended very nicely and I’m thrilled to say that my floors actually got a through vacuuming. ¬†That was much needed, I tell you! Supper was pretty hasty and made me grateful for always keeping my salad greens washed and ready. I recently made a new salad dressing and have been craving salads even more since! ¬†I have nothing against store-bought salad dressings; I love them actually, but Sylvi has (at the least) a sensitivity to some of the preservatives in salad dressings and dips, so I’m back to making my own again. Nothing like watching your child’s face become covered in welts after eating your salad dressing kissed cucumbers to jump start your creativity! This dressing is tangy and flavorful and in my opinion, even better than my old Italian dressing recipe. ¬†Probably because it’s more Greek than Italian, but it still dresses up a bowl of kale like you wouldn’t believe!

Greek Feta Salad Dressing

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp.¬†Dijon¬†mustard
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Pulverize the feta as best you can and then sprinkle the spices over the top and stir thoroughly  Then, mix in the mustard, oil and vinegar. (Alternatively, you could do this in a blender.)  Store in a lidded container in the fridge and shake well before each use.

The oil that keeps the wheel running

¬† One of the most frequent complaints I hear from women be it stay-at-home, working full/part-time, parenting or not is the struggle to balance housework. There are dozens of planners, website subscriptions and outlines for scheduling your day. ¬†Personally, I don’t use them. I’ve printed out planners and things of that nature multiple times or tried a digital calendar, but in the end… I’m just a lined sheet of paper and spiral bound calendar sort of girl!

The “brain” of my kitchen: calendar, lists, coffee and the phone.

Before I go any further, let me say this: housekeeping comes naturally to me because I’ve been doing it since I was a little girl. Because of my family’s needs and dynamic, I was capable of doing laundry from start to finish, including ironing without any assistance. I could cook simple meals, clean the house and plan a weekly menu/grocery list. When I was nine, my mother’s health had a collapse and although the grandmas came to help out often, I still needed the skills for days when Mom simply did not feel well, but wasn’t emergent.¬†Therefore, I iron like my Mother’s mother, menu plan like my own mother and fold laundry like my Father’s mother. I enjoy housekeeping in general with the exception of dusting. No matter what I do, I always sneeze. Always.

For my home, at this current stage with two children under the age of 4 this is what works for me. Last year, I wasn’t doing things exactly the same, and next year, I may need a change again. But right now, I need to care for my home and family first, train for my next¬†triathlon,¬†sew and write. In order to get the “fun” activities in my life, I am willing to give up sleep. Like I said, this is what works for me ūüôā

First thing in the morning (often before the sun is even out of bed), Sylvi wakes me up, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Sometimes, I let Matt sleep a little longer, sometimes I don’t and get him moving to work. Either way, I head straight to the kitchen and turn the coffee pot on. I get food for Sylvi and unload the dishwasher and start laundry. I read somewhere that if you spend your first hour of being awake getting your tasks done and don’t check email, you’ll find your day to be much more productive. For me, this is genius since I am a morning person. So… I leave my phone on the charger and the monitor turned off and get my tasks for the day as completed as I can by 9am. That’s the goal. I was done by 847 yesterday, 1015 today.

Every single day I complete 5 tasks:

  • Make the beds
  • Unload the dishwasher
  • Clean the kitchen after meals
  • 10 minute tidy of bedrooms and living room midafternoon and before bed
  • Daily chore

This is why I am not stressed by my home. I am a very particular housekeeper, so I keep up on the clutter (except for the hideous pile of paperwork to my right) and as long as I do that, general tasks are simple.

  • Sunday: weekly fruit/veggie prep (washing, cutting, etc.)
  • Monday: Clean bathroom and diaper laundry
  • Tuesday: Vacuum and 1 load of laundry
  • Wednesday: Laundry and declutter and dust
  • Thursday: Diaper laundry and menu/grocery plan
  • Friday: Wash sheets and towels
  • Saturday: any catch up housework

Each task that I assign to the days are quick ones. I don’t do laundry all in one day because I get burnt out. I do a little bit each day and it’s quick enough that way that it takes about half an hour of total active time. The task that takes me the longest honestly is the veggie prep because I’m washing, peeling, cutting and organizing about 10-15 pounds of produce.

I go to bed with toys picked up, laundry put away and the dishwasher running. Every now and then, I skip this step and then have a grumpy start to the next day because I hate waking to a mess. When Liam was a little baby, a friend mentioned to me that I needed to learn to do my chores while he was up so that he saw that I did other things than wait on him hand and foot. Perhaps a kinder way of saying this would be to simply involve your children in the tasks. When I sweep the kitchen, both kids get out their brooms and “help”. They help me match socks and carry laundry to the bedrooms. Liam unloads the silverware from the dishwasher and both children are responsible to take their plates to the counter after meals. And if that doesn’t keep them occupied for a few minutes, I can always pull out the crayons and paper and they create for a little while.

Once I have all my tasks done… I’m free to start on the list. I make a long list of all the things I’d love to accomplish and keep at it for a week. I’ll assign things to myself in the morning and what gets done, yay! The rest goes back on the list for another time. I’m supposed to roast garlic today. ¬†We’ll see. I’m not overly enthusiastic about it. Some days, like today, I’m in the mood to do nothing extra… my house is clean, the kids are happy and I think we’ll have leftovers for supper. Every day is different!

So how about you? How do you tackle balancing life and your home?

Work in Progress Wednesday

This week, I decided to get a little more practice in with triangle piecing before continuing with the pillows I posted about last time. Those pillow are ready to be put together, but the angles were making me nervous so I spent some time learning half-square-triangles via this wonderful tutorial. Super simple, but it did take some learning to get the hang of trimming and pressing the tiny triangles. I’m gonna need a smaller iron. Since I had made the triangles with left over from the charm packs I used to make Sylvi’s quilt, I am going to turn it into a pillow cover for her bed.

Speaking of pillows, I really should be using envelope covers as an opportunity to try out patterns. ¬†Genius. I’m also¬†entertaining¬†the idea of hexagons on the quilt for my bed. I say entertaining because I’m not sure how I would handle quilting a king-sized quilt with hexagons all over it. It’s mind boggling to me the weight that material will wind up being!

I did manage to finish Sylvi’s Easter dress, though! I followed the pattern pretty closely, but in the end, I wound up making the skirt into a bubble… and I love, love, love how it turned out!

I finally worked up the nerve to dig out my first quilting project from a year and a half ago and start piecing the squares again. I like this quilting business. If I choose patterns that can all use the same color thread I can be as ADD as I’d like about the projects. This is how my dining room came to be covered in stacks of fabric and china was displaced from the buffet as a means for storing the fabric, tools and machine.

Which is why yesterday also found me purchasing yet more material for children’s clothing. I have no self-control in a fabric shop. Material for dress linings was a must as were the zippers, but I suppose I could have held off on the jersey for t-shirts. But the superhero tie was a¬†definite¬†must. And really… what better news could there have been in my inbox at 630am other than a notice from an Etsy seller that she had exactly the right amount of fabric I needed and was willing to ship it out today?

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

What am I working on this Wednesday?  A little bit of everything.  How about you?