It’s the first Monday of the New Year.  What does that mean for you?  Do you love your work?  Or hate your job?  Either way, I hope you find some time today to quilt!

Make a resolution for this year to increase your creativity.  To start, read today’s post on my Spiromandalas blog entitled Media Fast.

And here’s another way to increase your creativity: attend one of two week-long quilting retreats I’ll be teaching this spring – one at Empty Spools Seminars in beautiful Monterrey, CA, February 23-28, and the other at Quilting Adventures in the hill country of Texas, March 2-7. Click on the names of the workshops for more info. Hope to see you there!

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I’m going to be traveling all over the western hemisphere this spring – from Peru to Alaska! Follow the adventure on my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/ranae.merrill.

To see where I’ll be teaching, click here – RaNae’s Calendar. I have a new book and a couple of new workshops in progress, so stay tuned for more on those.  And while you’re at it, check out the video visit to a Magic Mirror Mandala workshop.  For information about workshops (both in-person and online) click here.

Giant CauliflowerThe other day I bought the second-largest cauliflower I have ever seen – it weighs 6-1/2 pounds.  Now, some of you might recall that a while ago I bought the largest cauliflower I had ever seen — that monster weighed 8 pounds.  I just looked back on this blog to see when I bought it and discovered is was three years ago!  Where has the time gone?

If you look back at those posts from three years ago, you will discover that I only made it about 1-1/2 pounds of the way through that cauliflower before I had to give up and leave on a trip.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  I might have actually turned into a cauliflower if I had eaten that much cauliflower in one week.  What a loss that would have been to the quilting world . . . . (phsaw!)  Here are those posts if you are interested:

http://spiromaniacs.wordpress.com/2010/10/10/how-to-eat-an-8-pound-cauliflower-day-1/

 http://spiromaniacs.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/how-to-eat-an-8-pound-cauliflower-day-2/

Anyway, according to my calculations, this 6-1/2 pound baby is just the weight of the remainder of that first one, so I figure it’s as good an excuse as any to pick up where I left off.  So, the next few posts on this blog will feature cauliflower recipes, and hopefully I’ll figure out some way to tie this to quilting.

(BTW, has anyone been watching Master Chef Junior?  Those kids are amazing.  I wonder what they would do if their challenge was to use up an 8-pound cauliflower?)

I think I’ll start with this one.  I like that it is lighter than most of the cauliflower soup recipes I read, and, more importantly, I’m intrigued by the additional flavors of the chive olive oil and the fried capers.  I do love capers.  Stay tuned for results and reviews!

http://www.howsweeteats.com/2012/10/creamy-cauliflower-soup-omg-its-so-good-i-swear/

Spiromaniac Maureen Pinwill shared on my FB page this link to cauliflower recipes from The Guardian (a London newspaper, I think).  Each one sounds AMAZING, so I think I’ll be cooking a LOT of cauliflower this winter.  Looks like I’ll be needing a few more of those giant white vegies!

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/apr/06/10-best-cauliflower-recipes

Word version: The 10 best cauliflower recipes

Ruth Leidy started this quilt in my class at Quilt Festival in Houston last fall. What fun to see it finished during my visit to Oklahoma City this week! Look at the detail photo to see the embroidery she added to embellish it. Nice work, Ruth!
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Phoenix croppedMy quilt Phoenix Rising is the featured pattern in this month’s issue of Through the Needle, the online magazine about all things Bernina.  Click here to take a look!

You can read more about Phoenix Rising here on my blog my clicking here.

spaghetti carbonaraAh, that deliciously creamy combination of egg, parmesan and bacon over pasta!  It makes a quick and easy meal, but it has a reputation for being decadently rich.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist it for lunch today.  Finding a bit of spinach left in the crisper, I decided to make a healthier version.

For each person, use 1 egg, 3 slices of bacon, a thumb-size handful of fettucine or spaghetti, a handful of grated parmesan, and a handful of fresh spinach.

Start the pasta cooking in boiling salted water.

Meanwhile:

Wash the spinach, remove tough stems and cut it into 1/4″ strips.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and cook it until crispy in microwave* or frying pan.  Drain off all the fat.

Grate the parmesan cheese.

Beat the eggs in a small bowl.  (If you want to reduce fat and calories even more, you could use only the egg whites.)

Just before you drain the pasta, toss the spinach into the water for 10 seconds to wilt it just a bit.

Drain the pasta & spinach in a colander and return to the hot pan.

Immediately, while the pasta is still hot, stir in the egg, most of the parmesan and most of the bacon.  (The heat of the pasta cooks the egg and melts the parmesan cheese to make that deliciously creamy sauce.)

Serve, topped with the rest of the parmesan and bacon.

So, you eliminated the fat and added some vitamins and fiber.  Now, just don’t eat too much.

Bon appetite and happy quilting!

RaNae :)

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* To microwave bacon: In a 1000-watt oven, about 1 minute per slice of bacon.  Put a couple of layers of paper towel under the bacon to absorb fat and and a layer of paper towel over to prevent grease splatter.

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Here are some of the spirals sewn by my More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys class. Great work, gals!

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