Archive for February, 2008


For lunches this week, I’ll do turkey, ham and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I’ll also eat leftovers from dinner.

Dinners for this week:

  • Cheeseburger rolls
  • Spaghetti
  • Salmon
  • Chicken fajitas
  • Chicken noodle soup


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Out of the ten patterns that I purchased for $1 each at JoAnn Fabrics, here is the first one that I made.  It’s Simplicity 3887.


I chose a blue jersey fabric to make the white, short-sleaved shirt on the pattern above.



Here is where I’m laying out most of the pattern pieces.  I also needed to refold the blue fabric a different way for the sleeves (1 piece used to cut 2 sleeves), as well as the two curved neck pieces shown above on the upper and lower left.  In addition, I had to cut out the two curved pieces with fusable interfacing as well.



Here, I’m sewing the side seams of the shirt.  I reinforced each seam by sewing them again 1/8 from the original 5/8 seam.  Then, I trimmed the second closely.



In this picture, I’m attaching the neck to the shirt.  Before this, I had to gather the top of the shirt.  As you can see, I’ve already added the sleeves and put in elastic so that they are puffy.



 This is the completed shirt.  I’ll now show pictures of the sash I made, but I want you to know that I ended up wearing the shirt without the sash.  Also, I’m petite across the shoulders, so this one was too wide.  I had to pin my bra straps to it.  Maybe, I’ll attach some strings or ribbons with snaps to save myself from pinning it each time.  If I make another shirt with this pattern, I might try to cut the neck pieces smaller to try and fix the problem of it being too wide.



This is the sash as I was in the process of ironing it flat.  I hadn’t purchased extra fabric to make it, so I had pieced it together with scraps from cutting out the top.



This is the sash after I ironed it flat.  I also sewed along the edge, so that it would be easy to iron after washes.



 The top and sash look great together when flat on the table.  On me, it looks much better with the top alone.

In all, it took me two days to cut out and sew the top and sash.  It took a while to put the elastic in the sleeves, gather the top of the shirt, and to make the layered neckline.  It’s too wide across the shoulders on me, but when it is pinned in place, it is a very comfortable shirt to wear.


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Last weekend, I took advantage of the President’s Day sale at JoAnn Fabrics.  Normally,  Simplicity patterns sell for about $16 each.  JoAnn’s was selling them 5 for $5 with a limit of ten patterns.

It was all I could do to hold off for the two weeks I had been waiting for the sale.  I even went in the week before to write down each pattern that I would purchase.  On the first day of the sale, I went to JoAnn’s after work and rapidly filled my basket with the patterns on my list.  It was so wonderful to finally have my patterns!

I bought ten patterns.  Normally, that would be about $16o.  I got them for $10!!!  What a sale!

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Cooking Up A Storm

I knew this week was going to be a busy one. Since I knew I wouldn’t have time to cook on Wednesday or Thursday, I decided to do several days worth of cooking on Tuesday. Here’s a picture of my efforts.


As you can see, things got a bit crowded. It began Tuesday morning before work. Very quickly, I hand-washed all of my pots and pans. My husband had already been taken care of all of the dishes that could go in the dishwasher.

That evening when I got home (after swimming!), I began cooking like crazy. My stove has three burners that work. One is large and two are small. By rotating my pots and pans as things on the larger burner cooked quicker, I was able to handle several pots at once. I also used the oven.

Here’s what I prepared:

  • Pasta: bow-tie pasta, turkey sausage, and marinara sauce with sauteed mushrooms, onions, and garlic
  • Sauteed shrimp
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted red pepper shells stuffed with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil
  • Caramelized onions and mushrooms

It definitely was a good cooking adventure. We have had food to cover lunches and dinners for at least 3-4 days. Plus, my husband helped me clean up!

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I made my menu and did my grocery shopping last weekend, although I’m just now getting it posted on the site.
Menu Plan for the week of February 18:
Main Courses –
  • Pasta with marinara sauce and turkey sausage
  • Sauteed shrimp
  • Leftover lentil soup
Side Items –
  • Caramelized onions and mushrooms
  • Oven roasted red peppers stuffed with tomatoes, garlic, spices, and EVOO
  • Salad
Lunches –
  • Dinner leftovers
  • Turkey, ham and cheese, or PBJ sandwiches

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Veil of Roses


I would like to share a favorite book of mine with you.  Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald is a lovely novel.  It focuses on Tamila, a young woman who grew up in Iran.  She travels to America to stay with her sister.  The goal:  find a Persian-American (Iran-American) husband via an arranged marriage, before her Visa runs out.
As Tamila is introduced to a variety of Iran-American suitors in the evenings, she spends her days attending ESL classes at a local university.  There, she forms friendships that will further shape her outlook on life.  
I loved reading about Tamila’s experiences of so many things that I, as an American woman, never think about.  Tamila finds joy at seeing young girls swinging on a swing-set on a public playground.  That would never have been allowed where she grew up.   
I especially enjoyed the “secret” friendship Tamila begins with Ike, a young American man who works at a coffee shop.  As they chat outside the cafe or he accompanies her to her sister’s house after ESL class.  Tamila begins to fall in love with him.  The struggle is that she is supposed to agree to an arranged marriage with a Persian-American man, yet she has trouble finding one that she would be happy with.
This was a very romantic story, yet “pure” story.  I absolutely adored the ending.  I keep going back to re-read this book again and again, just because of how it makes the rest of Tamila’s experiences worth it.  In addition, I enjoyed learning about Tamila’s culture as she constantly adapted to differences in America. 

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Last week, I did most of my cooking over the weekend or at the beginning of the workweek.  Once Wednesday rolled around, I didn’t do any more cooking!  I was quite tired and ready to eat sandwiches or leftovers.

Looking in my pantry, freezer, and fridge Saturday morning, I found a half jar of marinara sauce, 4 pounds of marinated chicken fajita thighs,  a can of black beans, and more lentil soup than I care to think about.  There’s still some leftover cheeseburger casserole as well.  If that doesn’t disappear in the next day or so, I’ll freeze it in individual portion sizes.  I’ve got more in my kitchen to eat than what I just mentioned, but these items were some of the ones that I wanted to consider when making my menu for the week.  With the giant bag of chicken fajita meat, I’ll probably cook 4 chicken thighs and freeze the rest in sets of four in vacuum-sealed bags.

I got the idea for the roasted peppers and tomatoes from watching Jamie at Home on the Food Network.  Jamie Oliver’s new show is great, because he cooks recipes according to what is ripe in his garden.  The recipes are very simple and mostly vegetarian, not to mention mouth-watering!

Menu for the week of February 11:

Main Dishes –

  • Chicken fajitas
  • Black bean tacos
  • Shrimp with brown rice
  • Leftover lentil soup (I don’t know if this will happen – it’s not exactly the most appetizing color)
  • Baked fish with vegetables (foil packets in the oven)
  • Wednesday – Church dinner

Side Dishes  –

  • Roasted bell peppers stuffed with tomatoes and garlic (Yum!)
  • Onions sauteed with brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (caramelized onions)
  • Organic spring salad(s)
  • Raw tomatoes with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
Lunches –
  • Leftovers from dinner
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Each lunch will also include yogurt, fruit, salad, or other veggies

For more menu ideas, see I’m an Organizing Junkie.

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Steve and Me


I finished Steve and Me by Terri Irwin this week.  It was such a wonderful read that I couldn’t put it down.  Within 24 hours (over two days), I had finished the book.
This is a memoir of Terri Irwin’s life as the wife of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.  The book briefly highlights on a few details from her past, as well as Steve’s, but mostly focuses on how her life changed after she met and fell in love with Steve.  It all begins when she first visited Steve’s family’s reptile park, which is now known as the Australia Zoo.  
I really loved how Terri explained the inner struggles of waiting for that first phone call from Steve after returning to the United States from Australia, new experiences learning to camp in the Australian Bush (On her Honeymoon!), or the uncomfortableness of  learning to be around snakes.  
Ever sat with a snake on the living room couch?  Apparently, both Terri and the snake were learning to be friends.  They started out at opposite ends of the couch, but eventually became good enough acquaintances to do housework and appearances at the park together.  Terri’s experience with this first snake also prepared her for eventually being able to “tail” or correctly and gently pick up venomous snakes in the wild.  
Terri also goes on to give various stories or excerpts of her life with Steve, and later with their two children, Bindi and Robert.  As you read the book, Terri’s voice reads like you’re listening to a conversation with her.  The loving relationship she had with her family really comes through the pages.  You feel a connection with Terri and can envision yourself right there, catching crocodiles with the entire family in the bush or experiencing the deep love and respect Terri and Steve had for each other.
I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you have been reading a lot of fiction lately, and you want an easy way of getting back into non-fiction.  Also, if you’ve ever been a fan of the Crocodile Hunter shows, then this book is for you.

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This past week, I completed sewing two pairs of ladies boxer shorts.  They’re absolutely adorable!  
In regards to knitting, I used leftover yarn to make a matching scarf for my pink hat.  I didn’t have much yarn left, so the scarf is quite short.  I put it around my neck and overlap the two ends.  It’s just long enough to cover the space that the top of my coat doesn’t get.  I’d say it’s two feet or less in length.  In a good way, I don’t have to worry about wrapping a scarf several times around my neck, tying it, or having an uncomfortable bump over my shoulder and under my jacket.
I am still in the process of piecing the orange/red/yellow quilt.  If I were to really work at it, I could probably finish the top in a day.  It will be a full/queen quilt when it is completed.
You can see two types of pieces.  One  has the dark patchwork piece in the middle, while the other has them on the outside.
 Here I am layering one of each type of piece.  I’ve already pinned 15 sets with the outside patchwork on the bottom.  I’m working on pinning 15 sets with the inside patchwork as the bottom piece.  After sewing and pressing them open, I plan to add another piece to each set.  That way, I’ll have giant 9-patches that are made up of 3 pieces.  Are you still with me?  Don’t worry, I’ll post more pictures as it comes along.

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I’ve been wanting to purchase some new clothing patterns.  I’ll go to a fabric store, examine patterns, decide to procrastinate, and leave.

This week, I walked into JoAnn Fabrics, finally committed to a pattern, walked to the counter, had my coupon and wallet in hand, and hit a roadblock.  I was told that my 40% off coupon wouldn’t work, because the pattern was already on sale.  The sale price was $10 for one pattern!

At the counter, I noticed a flyer.  Beginning Friday, February 15, many Simplicity patterns would be on sale 5 for $5!  I thanked the cashier, said, “No thank you, I’ll be back on Friday,” and walked to my car!

Here are some of the patterns I’m thinking about purchasing (if they’re in stock):









As you can see, I would like to try some dresses that come to the knee, have short sleeves, and do not have zippers!

For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

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Allah’s Fire


I just finished reading Allah’s Fire by Chuck Holton and Gayle Roper.  This inspirational novel focuses on a Special Ops soldier and an American reporter in Lebanon.

John, the soldier, works with his team to locate and shut down the manufacturers of an undetectable type of explosive that was used to bomb a hotel in Beirut.  Liz, the reporter, is trying to find her sister, presumed dead in the blast.

Once I got into the book, it was easy to keep going.  I enjoyed how brave, even though usually foolish, Liz was.  She was willing to venture unaccompanied, at night, into a refugee camp in Lebanon.   It was interesting how the authors did not put John and Liz into the same scenes until midway into the book.  This way, they were able to carefully craft their backgrounds and storylines.

I would recommend this book if you are interested in an inspirational-romance that takes place in the Middle East.  I also look forward to reading the sequel, Island Inferno, by Chuck Holton.

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Lentil Soup

I made the Lentil Soup Sunday night as I was making the Spaghetti with Turkey Sausage.  It contains 1 can of Spam (I had two cans on my shelf that I needed to use, so I used one for this recipe), 1 onion, 2 cups lentils, 1 tsp minced garlic, chopped celery, 5 cups hot water, 1 bay leaf, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  I used the crockpot on the high setting for four hours.  After cooking, I used my hand blender to puree the soup.  This saved me the trouble of putting it into the blender in batches.



It tasted quite good, even though the color could have looked more appetizing.  I knew that we probably wouldn’t be able to finish it (8 servings; 2 quarts) within the week, so I put the soup in vacuum-sealed bags.  I made six bags with one serving each and one bag with two servings.  To freeze them flat, I laid them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.



I’m counting the soup as a protein, so I will probably pair it with a salad and a starch.

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