Thursday, July 27, 2023

Creativity Beyond the Studio

It has felt like I have lacked creativity in life.  Oh, sure, I've been cranking out a mini-quilt each week and I am loving the variety of colors, techniques and textures that have resulted.  But I've been unmotivated to have creative ideas in the kitchen/cooking area.  I did not prep the freezer to crockpot meals as I have in the past... our freezer has not had ample space for me to do 30 or so meals.  I could have done a smaller amount but instead, opted for one or two at a time as I found great deals on the proteins included in some of them.

The good that has come from this situation is that I have been able to figure out some uses for our "instapot".  I like that the liner of it is stainless steel and I can place frozen meat in there without concern that the liner will crack from it.  I am able to use the sauté setting to brown chicken breasts or thighs or even cook ground beef with onions and garlic and then choose a different setting such as a custom pressure cook, or slow cook (or a combo of them) and walk away.

I have been pleased with the shredded barbeque chicken, chicken and rice pilaf and am getting ready to try out a version of fajitas with a skirt steak as well as Italian shredded beef.  It's only taken me 2 years... The use of the Pampered Chef quick/slow cooker has kept our kitchen (and the rest of the house) much cooler.  You may remember that in the past I would place our crockpot in our laundry room (with door shut) as our "summer kitchen".  

The spaghetti that I tried out recently passed the taste test.  Though I would probably cook the marinara sauce on the slow cooker setting for 2 hours and then add the pasta and extra water for the 8 minutes of pressure cooking.  Here's the recipe I (basically) followed: I used one 15 oz. can diced tomatoes and one 15 oz. can sauce, no chicken broth and 1-1/2 cups water when I added the pasta.  I also browned Italian seasoned ground turkey, onion & garlic, but meatballs could be added too.

Spaghetti & Sauce
2 tbsp (10 mL) olive oil
6   garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp (5 mL) Italian seasoning
½ tsp (2 mL) red pepper flakes (optional)
4 cups (1 L) chicken broth
1 can (28 oz./794 mL) crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

1 lb. (450 g) spaghetti noodles, broken into thirds
½ cup (125 mL) water

After browning the meat and adding the rest of the ingredients, I pressure cooked it for 15 minutes to really infuse the flavors throughout.  I added 1-1/2 cups water and the pasta and pressure cooked it for 8 minutes. 

Fewer dishes, less mess, less cooking time and heat that is generated during the process... it is all a win-win!

My daughter gave the reverse tie-dye a try and had great results with chlorine bleach.  I've been itching to give it a try!  Instead, I exercised a few creative muscles by turning this small wooden tray with dividers into a small travel sewing table.  

This tray had some magnetic puzzles in them, and they were pulled for packing in Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  The trays were too good to toss... they are actually made of wood!

I cut down an old cutting mat to fit in one of the spaces.  I also recycled some magnetic advertising sheets by cutting them down to fit into a few compartments to hold needles, pins, scissors, or anything else that you might need.  I have three of the wooden trays... if you are interested in having one (in the raw, no cutting mat or magnets), let me know.  I'd be happy to share... I'll even throw in a few fabric scraps. 😍 Leave a comment or send me an email if you want one (US mailing addresses only).

I've got memory quilt #2/3 on the design wall and ready for sashing strips and borders.  This one is being done in off-white and cream fabrics.  The backing will be an old-fashioned newsprint fabric.  

If all goes well, If no other distractions come up, I'll be quilting this over the weekend and have another finish to share with you at the Monday morning Sew & Tell party.

How have you exercised your creative muscles lately?

Leave a comment... I'd love to hear from you!

Keep Piecing,


Linking with:

Put Your Foot Down at For the Love of Geese 
Free-Motion Mavericks at Quilting & Learning
Can I Get A Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off The Wall Friday with Nina Marie
Brag About Your Beauties at From Bolt to Beauty
Peacock Party at Wendy’s Quilts and More
Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting
Finished or Not Friday at Alycia Quilts



  1. Your insta-spaghetti sounds good. I am LOL over "summer kitchen"! We had spaghetti yesterday with sauce made from our tomatoes. It was yummy. When you eat spaghetti, do you eat bread with it? We decided to forgo the bread yesterday, and we felt less full, which is a good thing. Love your repurposed box. You are clever to put magnetic sheets for your needles!
    As far as creative ventures, I have been doing kitchen things involving tomatoes and the new pizza oven this summer. I have a Christmas cross stitch piece I'm trying to get into, but I get distracted by TV at night!

    1. We often have a salad and if I have some GF bread that is reaching the end of its life, I will make garlic bread. 😊

      We love having pizza on the grill. YUM! In fact, it is on the menu for tonight. I remember the days and days of canning tomatoes and salsa and green beans… and all of the other fruit and veggies that were readily available and affordable in the mid-west.

      Yesterday afternoon we had a nice rain and the temps dropped nicely. I was in the kitchen baking, taking advantage of the drop.

  2. Lovel the travel tray, from the neon pink to mini cutting mat. What a great way to upcycle.

    1. Thanks :) It is definitely cheery and bright!

  3. I love your wooden box and how you made it so useful. I do like the instant pot for the quick fix and usually it is more than one meal for us. We do little meat which adds to the confusion, but I have a great mushroom with wild rice I love in the fall/winter. Right now just counting the days until our next dinner out...bored of my meals.

  4. Hi Melva, that's a great wooden box refit! I've been very un-inspired in the kitchen, so I've had my daughter find me a couple of recipes per week for me to make. So far it's been great. I also bought a "bowl" cooking magazine and made the first one tonight. I find it really hard to get motivated, but this has helped. Have a great week and good luck with t-shirt quilt #2! Thanks for linking up to Free Motion Mavericks.

  5. It is difficult to cook when it is so hot! DH decided to lay in grilling meats this spring, so that has been nice, but after awhile one runs out of ideas for cold sides. (DH is very picky, no potato salad and no pasta salads 😬) tomorrow I will take some canned roast and use the crock pot to turn it into barbecue beef.