Simple Shrimp Gyro Sliders

My trip to Costco last week was the entire inspiration behind this particular discovery. Giant juicy shrimp, tangy tzatziki sauce, and mini naan all found their way into my cart and, with one more ingredient, a Fat Tuesday dinner. This meal was all about seasonal timing, keeping things simple and enjoying the occasional finger food.


With the season of Lent now upon us, seafood has been on sale in my neck of the woods. Giant raw, in-shell U15 shrimp were less than $10/pound at Costco last week. Though we still have more than a foot of snow on the ground, we are close enough for spring that seasonal tzatziki was back in the store, too. Yeah! I know it is a simple make, but sometimes, it's OK to be convenient.

I started with marinating the shrimp in a Greek vinaigrette for an hour. Then steamed them in the Instant Pot for 1 minute. One minute! Ok, really about 25 minutes by the time it built pressure, cooked for a minute and released pressure.

We enjoyed a dinner with fun finger sandwiches, plenty of napkins and a lot of laughs. These sliders would make excellent party bites, too.


Sandia: A quilt for my couch

One of the goals I had in 2018 was to make at least one quilt for the sole purpose of living on our couch for nights watching tv, fort building, slumber parties, and all of those things that quilts are great for. When I saw the Sandia Quilt from Southwest Modern: From Marfa to New Mexico: 18 Travel-Inspired Quilts by Kristi Schroeder from Initial K Studio, I knew this would be one of these quilts. I loved the bold pattern and immediately had fabrics in my stash in mind.

Why bigger? Simply, I wanted this project to be a pretty quick finish and fewer bigger blocks made sense. (I'm purposefully not sharing dimensions so you'll have to get the book!) If I would have cut it out correctly the first time, it probably would have been. Ha!


When I read the pattern the first time, I was a little surprised to see that this was a foundation paper-pieced pattern. Similar to flying geese blocks, the triangle seams are on the bias. The FPP method would reduce the risk of stretching the bias. Because I was making the blocks big enough that they would need to be printed on multiple sheets taped together, I decided to give it a shot without FPP. It worked! I would only recommend this, though, if you're pretty confident with bias. The FPP method would be excellent if you're not as confident.


One of the things I started doing awhile back was sketch out individual blocks and/or quilt layouts in Adobe Illustrator as part of my planning phase. Because I work in a not always tidy space, I find the one-page cheat sheet is easier to keep track of and follow than an open book or pattern booklet. Sometimes I use this to play with color. Sometimes it's in black and white or just a line drawing. The effort to draw the diagram is part of the thoughtful planning process. In some casses a photocopy could probably perform the same function, but I prefer to sketch it.


I took this quilt to Manglesen's in Omaha for edge-to-edge longarm quilting. Once picked up, I waited a fair bit to put the facing on. Fortunately I had this fun plaid leftover from backing the Hipster Cat quilt for the facing.

Since I've moved on to the next project or two, I don't often have the opportunity to take pictures of my quilts in interesting places, but with this one I did. In addition to some great vintage-y farm scenes, I had snow to cleanse the landscape.


This quilt has already proven effective at serving its intended purpose, including spending the evening with me in the recliner.



PQ10.4 Pixel Play

The fourth Project Quilting Challenge also fell during a week without a lot of extra opportunity to sew. I was at another work conference - the Nebraska Asphalt Paving Conference from Monday to Wednesday.

I did not have a great idea immediately for the pixel quilt. Browsing cross stitch patterns was an early, but unsuccessful step. A relatively simple cross stitch pattern was 100 x 100 pixels in size. I did not have time to make a king-sized quilt during that week!

My work conference and recent efforts to organize and access my UFO's left me with the perfect opportunity to make a traffic cone quilt! A colleague's 3D-printed traffic cone earrings may have also nudged me this way. [wink] [wink]

Using leftover pieces and strips from "Look Both Ways, Don" proved useful in depicting a traffic cone on an asphalt roadway. Some of the orange squares are made from safety vest material.



Two-Ingredient Shredded Chicken Taco Filling for the Instant Pot

I finally caved and bought myself an Instant Pot when Kohl's was practically giving them away before Thanksgiving - on major sale plus Kohl's Cash! My main hesitation was having yet another kitchen appliance taking up space in my no-storage kitchen. When I bought it, I committed to using it at least once per week so it could earn its keep. Most things have been a success. Some are now in the regular rotation. I'd talked about it quite a bit at work and had a chance to show it off for a team potluck to commemorate one of my co-worker's last day.

Long before I'd heard of an Instant Pot, I'd become a dedicated Penzey's customer. Their herbs and spices are high-quality and at a price that works in our budget. Their blends have introduced great new flavors to our lives. One of our favorite groups of products are the taco/fajita/chili products. The Chicken Taco Seasoning blend is hands-down a favorite. I buy it in the big bag and refill my jar.


On this particular day, I got to show off many of the Instant Pot's cooking functions: Pressure Cooking, Slow Cooking and Saute. I arrived at work with frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and by lunch had perfect shredded chicken. The pressure cooking chicken preset left me with fully-cooked, tender, ready-to-be-shredded chicken. After shredding, I added two tablespoons of Chicken Taco Seasoning per pound of chicken, reset the lid and put it on the slow cooker setting. When set-up for lunch was getting started, I opened the lid and turned on the sauté function to cook off the excess liquid. Being able to do all of these functions with only one thing to wash is exactly what I love most about the Instant Pot!

Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Taco Filling

2.5 lbs. frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4-6 tablespoons Penzey's Chicken Taco Seasoning
  1. Put the frozen chicken in the bottom of the instant pot liner. Seal the lid. Use the Poultry setting on high pressure for 40 minutes.
  2. Shred chicken. I use a tongs and "squish" the chicken leaving bite-sized pieces.
  3. Add seasoning. I wait to season until this step so it doesn't burn. If you won't be using the slow cooker setting, it can be added before the initial cooking phase.
  4. Seal the lid and use the slow cooker function until 10-15 minutes before serving.
  5. Open the lid. Use the sauté function to cook off any excess liquid.
  6. Serve with corn or flour tortillas, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, olives, cheese, salsa and guacamole. Or, on a salad, in an enchilada, on a rice bowl, on a baked potato, in a quesadilla, or any number of other uses for seasoned shredded chicken.



The Omaha Modern Quilt Guild hosted a challenge in 2018 for members to make quilts that expressed Joy. In addition to quilting, learning is one of my favorite things to do. For the last six to eight months, I've been a part of the Quilting Army supporting Professor Elizabeth Townsend Gard from Tulane Law School in her work to study the intellectual property issues in quilting. Around the same time as the Joy Challenge, Dr. Townsend Gard asked for quilts in the Just Wanna Quilt logo colors to be a part of the program's booth at Houston Quilt Market and Festival. Because the Just Wanna Quilt project has been a source of learning for me this year, I decided to combine the projects.

Alas, I did not get the quilt done for either. It was pieced in time for both deadlines, but once I realized I wouldn't be at the designated meeting to share the challenge quilts, I set it aside. I quilted it (and secured the iron-on appliqué at the same time) at a quilt retreat in late October. I finally bound it in mid-February.

This quilt started as a basic four-patch in bright Kona solids. I applied a Kona White appliqué using shapes from a logo for a NYC church that spell "Joy." To prevent bleed-through of the bright colors, I used two layers of iron-on interfacing under the white.

My Pfaff has dozens of stitches I've never used so I decided to try out the blanket stitch for quilting/securing the appliqué. I love this 28 weight Aurifil thread - now to remember where I got it as the spool is empty!

Joy Quilt


PQ10.3 - Bigger than a Breadbox

Project Quilting Challenge 3 fell on a challenging week for me - I was going to be out of town for a work conference from Tuesday through late Friday. I had a couple of small, potentially quick projects in my head. Of course the challenge had a size minimum attached .... always my luck when I try to plan ahead.

Shwin and Shwin's Hipster Cat Quilt had been on my list for quite awhile. There were at least three baby quilts I thought this might be a good pattern for, one of which is my next door neighbor who will soon be two. The simple, straight-line appliqué had the potential to be a quick finish.

With this project in mind, I purchased the background and backing fabrics at Fabrictopia in San Antonio. Fabrictopia felt a bit like a Project Runway shopping moment and so it seemed appropriate for a Project Quilting challenge.

I made a few minor adjustments to the outlines before printing the pattern.


From start to finish, the quilt top took me about two hours. Sandwiching, pinning, very simple quilting and binding took another three to four. Not only was I happy with the resulting product, it fit in my timeframe.


As you can see, I finished this up during a snow event. This disrupted our satellite internet service, and I wasn't able to get the quilt posted in time to linkup to the Project Quilting Challenge 3 post for voting purposes, but the quilt was finished on time and will be a great gift for a certain two-year-old down the road.


2019 Modern Quilt Guild MiniQuilt Swap

A few years ago, I participated in quite a few swaps through Instagram. They were a great opportunity to try new techniques and skills as well as a tool for meeting quilters from around the world. I came to a point where the deadlines weren't working for me, and I was giving away every single sewing or quilt project I was making. I needed to rein things in and focus more on some projects for us - particularly that growing list of big projects I wanted to tackle.

Now I do a couple of local swaps each year within and among my guilds and the Modern Quilt Guild MiniQuilt Swap. #makeaminimakeafriend is a highlight of my quilting year. I know some quilters who are dubious of the benefits of being a member of the MQG, this is one of the things I have been able to do because I am a member.

When I was first assigned this year's partner, I'll admit, I was a little intimidated. I had been following this quilter on IG for quite awhile. She has made a few quilts that are in my inspiration file. She makes quilts that are routinely juried into Paducah, Houston, Road to California, MQX and other quilt shows I have been working towards. Katherine Dossman is a great quilter. I'm a good quilter, but I'm not quite to great .... yet. ;)

I started this quilt three times before landing on what seemed like a viable idea. Along the way, Katherine was pushing me from afar. We exchanged a couple of emails about likes, dislikes, etc., and two days later she let me know she had finished her quilt for me! Yikes!

One of Katherine's quilts making the show circuit is based on the work of Bauhaus painter Piet Mondrian. A lot of modern quilters are fans of and inspired by Mondrian. I wanted to play with this, but not duplicate her work. I opted for another Bauhaus painter and screen printer Josef Albers. His works have a similar feel to Mondrian's but a slightly different aesthetic and color palette. I chose a more complex piece to use as inspiration for my swap quilt.


This was the resulting quilt. I am so happy with how it turned out. And, it paired well with the piece Katherine pieced for me.


I love it! It is awesome!

Here are some in-progress shots. First, I was so excited to be close to the end, I sewed the facing on the wrong side and had to start over. Finally, I was sewing along and all of a sudden noticed some insane lint bunnies.

arts&craftshome_MQGSwap_Oops arts&craftshome_MQGSwap_Lint

It's only February and I'm already looking forward to next year's swap.

Simple Shrimp Gyro Sliders

My trip to Costco last week was the entire inspiration behind this particular discovery. Giant juicy shrimp, tangy tzatziki sauce, and mini ...