Monday, April 30, 2012

Fit Tuesday - Losing Weight on a Budget

It's been a full 4 weeks now since starting Fit Tuesday!!  I've been trying to stay on track, making small changes, with small results.  Time to kick it up another notch!

If you've dieted at all, you know that sometimes it is way more expensive to buy healthy foods than unhealthy.  However, in the long run, your expense is less since the health risks are so much less when eating healthy foods.  I just wanted to share some practical things I am doing in my home to try to eat healthy without breaking the bank.

1.  Use any free online resources available for losing weight and staying on track.  There are so many of these sites popping up...a favorite of mine is  Everything is free and it is so motivating!  It does take more independent work for these types of programs, so I realize this isn't an option for everyone.

2.  Buddy Up!  This goes right along with #1.  I remember losing weight a while ago and it was a HUGE motivation for me to go to a weigh-in where someone besides myself saw the scale.  I was also paying $12 a week for that accountability.  Find another person who can be your weigh-in buddy!

3.  Don't buy food you won't really eat.  Seems obvious, but honestly, if you're not going to eat tofu, don't buy it just because it's in a healthy recipe you think you should eat.  Along those same lines, don't buy junk food.  If it's not in the house, you can't eat it!

4.  Eat at home!  This is a huge money-saver.  Period.

5.  Be realistic about meal and snack planning.  If you know you are always starving between lunch and dinner, plan a small snack.  This not only keeps your diet on track, but also your budget.

6.  Drink water.  This is one of the hardest things for me!!  Realistically though, it's just cheaper and so much better.

7.  Be careful of buying the latest and greatest exercise program.  You can borrow exercise videos from the library, or live-stream from Netflix, for no extra costs.

I haven't been able to weigh in this week yet.  I will post an update when I am back from my biz trip to Chicago!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Machine Quilting - Stippling

When I first started quilting, I never even knew there was such a thing as long-arm quilters.  I started out machine piecing and hand quilting.  Once I bought a machine that was able to handle the strain of machine quilting, I've been machine quilting ever since!  I'm self-taught and thought I would share what I've learned with you here!

Stippling seems to be the go-to quilting pattern for a lot of's easy, fast, and works well on almost every quilt! It's also a great "beginning" quilting pattern. Drop those feed dogs, use a free motion foot, and go to town.  I always try to make my stippling very rounded at the turns.  I try to think of the curves as the letter C and it's easier to me.

Questions??  Shoot me or email or leave me a comment!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Finish It Up Friday - Swoon

I am so excited to be featured today on Knotted-Thread!!
Please head on over and see Jennifer's awesome blog :o)

I finally got some pics of my finished Swoon!  I still need to put the binding on....I'm thinking of the darker, plummy purple for the binding.  That may have to wait until next week, but I feel awesome to have this one *almost* checked off the list!  I love this pattern, and I am thinking of doing another one :o)

Quilt Stats:

90 inches square
fabrics used were Heirloom by Joel Dewberry
machine pieced and quilted by me

This is the of my favorite thing to do is to lay under the quilt, and hold it up to the light so you can see the light through all of the sewing spaces.  It reminds me of a light brite....I know, I'm a little on the nutty side :o)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Hi all!  Just wanted to join in with Lee's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced this week!  It's been a long week, already, and I just wanna take a nap :o)

Here is some of my progress!  First up is my paper pieced quilt....I am up to 74 stars now!!  I estimated needing 100 total, so that's only 26 left!  I cannot believe I'm so close.  I plan on making up a ton of stars this weekend.  I'm taking a short business trip to Chicago, so that means quality time on the plane and in the hotel room after hours.  I'd be lyin if I said I wasn't just a bit excited about spending 2 nights in a QUIET room....heaven!!

I started using this leather thimble at the start of this project.  It's looking a bit worn out just in that one little spot, but still works like a champ.  I know it's more cumbersome, but it's my favorite kind of thimble!

Next on the WIP list this week is a HUGE Queen-sized Swoon quilt. It's raining this morning, so no full-length picture until this afternoon {hope}. I finally got the quilting done last night around 12:15.  It's taken a lot of hours and gobs of thread, but when I showed my husband, he told me "I think you are the most amazing quilter in the world"  Talk about *swoon*  Love that man!!  We slept under it last night, even though the binding isn't finished and it was heaven :o)

Head on over to Lee's and take a look at all the other amazing projects!!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fit Tuesday #3

Welcome to Fit Tuesday!  Google is awesome...this week I found a huge food list HERE broken down with WW points!  And I found a WW calculator HERE.  Awesome!

This week was so busy that it wasn't super easy to keep track of my diet this week.  I tried to make the best choices I could, but I'd be lyin if I said those M&Ms didn't get opened.  Ugh!!

So, how are yall doing this week??  Did you meet any goals set?  I am definitely buckling down this in this week ahead!!

This week's stats:

Pounds lost: 1
Total Pounds lost: 6
Pounds to go: 94

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Machine Quilting ~ Clamshell Filler

::UPDATED::  Just wanted to update this post with another video better showing the stitching with contrasting fabric/thread.

I thought I would share a short video of an easy filler design that I have been using on all the white fabric on my Swoon quilt.  It really is easy once you get the hang of it!  Usually, I like to sketch designs on paper first, but I am TERRIBLE at drawing.  Quilting is so much easier for me....but it took me a while to get my groove.  I think the key word for me is fearless....which may be why I quilt so close to my fingers {which also explains why I have sewn thru my finger on occassion!}

Hard to see white on white, but I hope you get the idea! If you get stuck in a corner, simply "retrace" over another line of stitching to work your way out. Questions?? Shoot me an email or leave a comment!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fit Tuesday #2

Welcome to another Fit Tuesday!!  I have to say that just when I start getting rolling, the hubs comes home with 2 large bags of plain M& that man, but, dang it, what are ya doin to me???  So, I admit that I opened them and had about 10 and then closed those suckers back up again!  The other bag is unopened. So, once in a while, I may get an M&M since it's almost impossible to survive without can google it, hehe!

This week I thought I would share a recipe that I am lovin for lunch these days!

Homemade Healthy Chicken Salad


1 rotisserie chicken, cut up and chopped/shredded {no skin}
1/3-2/3 cups light mayonnaise {to taste}
1 stalk celery, chopped
20 seedless grapes
1/8 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 onion {optional}
a couple hits of Texas Pete {optional, but oh so good!!}
salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients together.....really, that's all there is to it!  I bought these great squishy rolls from the bakery section and they were sooo good!!  The hubs isn't a big fan of "salads" but my girlies LOVED these sandwiches!!  Dayna is my foodie daughter, and she ate 1 1/2 sandwiches :o)  It's very filling and packed with protein.

Serves 8

Chicken Salad {without bread} points value: 6 per serving using 1/3 cup light mayo

This week's stats:

Pounds lost this week:  3
Total pounds lost: 5
Pounds to go: 95

What about you??  How have you been doing this week? I love reading about everyone's plans for getting fit, and small successes are STILL success!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Connecting Threads

I have a few preferences when it comes to buying fabric.  I spend a lot of time on making things and want them to last for a while, so I try to buy the best fabrics I can.  Most of the time it comes from the quilt shop, but I have found it is getting more and more expensive!!  Enter....Connecting Threads!  I have made several purchases from them and absolutely LOVE their fabric!!

Their prices are great, they offer free shipping over $50 web orders, and offer pre-cuts with no additional charges for cutting.  I have ordered their thread, too, and it's great to work with!  AND when their fabrics go on sale/clearance, it makes it even better!

They have started carrying a large collection of solids and I wanted to try them I bought a couple of charm packs for less than $2.50 each.  The colors are so pretty and the feel of the cotton is just as nice as Kona.  Normally Kona is around $7.99 a yard, although offers them for under $5.50 a yard.  Connecting Threads cotton is priced at $4.96 a yard.

I recently bought 2 solids charm packs, and almost 20 yards of fabric for $53!  I am planning to use these larger cuts of fabric for quilt backings...aren't they great!  Anyway, if you have't tried them out, you should!!

I have some ideas for a pretty quilt top with the solid charms....can't wait to cut into them.!!

{Connecting Threads did not pay me for my endorsement, although I wouldn't turn them down, hehe}

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Hey all!  I hope you've had a great week so far...can't believe it's already Wednesday again (I think I say that every week!).  It's been busy around here, but we are making time to slow down.  The girlies are getting to the end of the school year, which means end of year testing, final fund raiser, and all of the end of year activities.  I just cannot believe I will have a 4th and 2nd grader soon...doesn't seem possible!

*wiping tears* Okay, I'm good!  On to the progress for this week in the world of quilting!

Swoon....finally got it basted.  It took me a couple of hours of moving my dining room furniture and pinning on my knees to accomplish this.  There has got to be an easier way!!

Last night, I started quilting this bad boy.  I wanted to do something special, more than just an all over pattern.  Next time I think that way for a 90 inch quilt, shoot me!  I have quilted all the "flowers" and have started on the white space....10 bobbins later.  As much as it's a bear, I am loving how it's coming together!

This quilt is making me want a long arm quilting machine in a bad way!

Still plugging along with my EPP real progress with that since I've spent the last 2 nights working on Swoon baby above!  Here is a pic of the itty-bitty stitches...I'm weird, I know.

Linking up to Freshly Pieced!  Go on over and see other amazing projects!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spacey Quilt and Pattern Review

I had the privilege to test the Colorblock quilt pattern written by Holly of Bijou Lovely....and I am loving this pattern!!  It was easy, the directions were very clear, and it went together in about 2 hours (awesome!).  I wanted to make a quilt for Emma's teacher's first little one, due in August.  She has been an awesome teacher, but an even better friend and I just love her to bits!

Anyway, this is it!  The main fabric is the cute retro space ships...I have had this fabric for a few years, not knowing exactly what to do with it!  I think it's a perfect little man quilt :o)

space quilt

space quilt close up

Here's a close up...I love the prezzy print and the Amy Butler martini fabrics!  They just add to the retro feel

If you're looking for a pattern that will highlight your large print fabrics, or one super easy to assemble, this pattern is for you!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fit Tuesday - The Anatomy of Walking

I meant to post this early Monday....however, time just absolutely evaporated this weekend, and here we are!  I like the name of this weekly post better anyway!

I went walking with my family this week.  My husband lost about 75 pounds in the last year, and a lot of his success came from simple walking.  He goes every day, religiously.  I went with him one day this week and it was hilarious....the girlies came along on their bikes/scooters and it was a riot!  Emma pumped her brakes a couple of times and almost flipped....and we were shamelessly doubled over laughing, which made her mad and she would speed away, braking and almost flipping again.  It took us 35 minutes to walk our 1.5 mile loop....but it was fun!  I was tired when we got home, but I felt amazing for the next few days.  Can you imagine what would happen if I did this DAILY???

I found this great illustration on the benefits of really is amazing for your health!  Plus, think of the free comedy you are providing to your neighbors :o)  I am sure that's what they think of the Ragan family!

Time to link up!  What is motivating you to move more??  Any progress this week??  I am still starting out, but it's good to note even {small} accomplishments!

This week's weight loss: 2 pounds
Pounds to go: 98
Goal for this coming week:  drink more water, walk 3 times this week

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Hope all of you had a wonderful Easter....leaving you with a pic of my sweet girlies :o)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

English Paper Piecing Update

I hope yall aren't sick of this project yet!!  I've become just {slightly} addicted to English paper piecing.  I think I'm just anxious to finish the top.  I have FINALLY past the half way mark!  I estimated needing 100 stars for my queen bed, and I am so hoping that's right!  I have been working on this top on and off for about 4 months now.  I never thought I would love a portable project like this, but I really do!  Once it's finished, I have another {EPP} project in the hopper!

So here's the progress....55 stars!  It fits across my bed (about 80 inches) and now I am working on giving it extra length :o)

This fabric is for a new quilt! Aren't the little rocketships super cute?? Emma's teacher is having a little boy and needs a little quilt :o)  I will have the top finished to show Saturday!

I missed WIP Wednesday this week, bummer!  I haven't had time to get my batting and backing for my Swoon quilt this week, maybe over the weekend.  I'd love to get my bed dressed up soon!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


I have been writing this post in my mind for a while now...months really.  My blog is a place to share myself, what I do and who I am.  I hope that's okay with yall!  So, in that spirit, I am going to share something I am challenging myself to do, and will hold myself accountable here.  I have posted a couple of times about losing weight, and haven't done a dang thing about it so far!  But today is just different....let me tell you why.

My husband and I are planning to celebrate our 15 year wedding anniversary next summer by taking a big trip...without the girlies!!  At least it's big to me ;o)  Unless one of us dies, or something else tragic happens, we're going to Europe for 11 glorious days.  It's a 3 city tour through London, Paris, and Rome and I am SERIOUSLY excited about it!!!!  I have been DYING to go to Europe since I could say the words Eiffel Tower, and had planned to live there after I got out of college, before getting married.  Needless to say, plans change!  I'm so glad they did :o)  But I still want to visit!

All that to say, I was reviewing the itinerary this morning, just could not focus on work, so I thought I would just read up on a couple places we may plan to visit.  And I thought about all the pictures I want to take, but also all the pictures I want to be in of me and my husband, or just him or just me hugging the Eiffel Tower.  Then I got to thinking about the tours I want to take and how I want to walk through Versailles for the entire day if I wanted.

Problem, I hate pictures of myself, but I want to take a picture of us in front of something fabulous and not worry about how fat I look in the picture!!  I want to be fit enough to trapse around Paris all day without feeling exhausted half way through.

Now...the CHALLENGE! And bear with me, but I am excited about this!

I have about 430 days until we go on our trip (wow, that's longer than I thought!) and I have 100 pounds to lose.  Yep, you read that right.  100 pounds.  I would be happy with 75, but I am setting my goal at 100.

In case you're wondering, that's about 1.5 pounds a week.  Doable, yes?

Changes will HAVE to be made though or this just won't happen.  Diet is one thing, but exercise is another.  My job involves sitting at a computer all day, then when I quilt/craft, I am sitting down!  I don't really exercise, and that is not good when you're over 30 and trying to lose weight!!

Here is the plan!  I am going to track my progress very publicly, here on my blog.  Could either be really embarrassing if I fail or really motivating if I keep it up.  I know the WW plan inside and out and I am joining the Y so I can start swimming.  I can't really do much walking yet, because of my stupid foot (another story altogether!).  I'd like to work up to walking or even running or zumba, but the thought of breaking my foot again terrifies me!

If you are in my shoes, needing a kick in the pants to get started, I hope you'll keep tuning in!  I am going to dedicate my Mondays to all things healthy, weight or exercise related.  I am going to have a linky party, so that you can share what is inspiring you! Maybe it's just a recipe you want to share, or your own weight-loss, exercise challenges.  It doesn't matter, the more, the merrier!!  

Soooo, please join in for my first Motivation Monday on April 9th!!  It would be really sad if I hosted a linky party and no one shows up :o)

I leave you today with 2 great blogs, very real and down-to-earth, of 2 real women who have lost weight and are staying healthy!

Mama Laughlin

Runs for Cookies

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