Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Episode #4- Pita Pizzas

I love homemade pizza!  But with my busy schedule it's hard to find time to make pizza dough from scratch. So, I have come up with a way to make homemade pizza (to quote Sandra Lee) "Semi-Homemade."  The best part about this recipe is that the portion size is perfect for a quick meal or for kids.  I also love that I can use whatever leftovers I have on hand as pizza toppings.  The combinations are endless.....chicken and asparagus, pineapple and ham, mushrooms and sausage, just veggies, etc.  One of my favorite pita pizzas is just tomato sauce, mozzarella, and a lot of red pepper flakes!...(now quoting Rachel Ray,) "Yum-o!!"  But seriously...whatever you have on hand will do.  Once you try this recipe I bet you will keep a pack of pitas in your freezer at all times! Try your hand at this recipe and experiment with toppings... and please let me know how it goes.  I love to read your comments!

Buen provecho!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Upcycled denim coin purse/card holder

If you have watched Episode #2 of the Crafty Gemini show then you know how to upcycle a pair old denim jeans into a tote bag. Since we didn't use the entire pair of jeans for that project I wanted to use my denim scraps to make another functional craft project. Here it is! My new upcycled denim coin purse/card holder! This could even be used as a quick wallet to put a driver's license and some cash in... slide it in your back pocket and you're out there door!
This project is SUUUUUPER easy and would be a great beginner project. Since there are a ton of tutorials for similar wallets on the web I decided not to make one and share a link with you instead: Easy Peasy Snap Wallets

You can use any fabric you want... but I love to upcycle and use up leftover scraps from other projects!
I used a black resin snap for the closure. Look over on the right side bar for our sponsor KAMsnaps and click on the button to go to their store. That is where I get all my snap tools and snaps at.
 If you don't have snap pliers/press you can just sew on some velcro or even a button for your closure.

Hint: I will be giving away a complete starter snap kit from our sponsors at KAMsnaps.  The kit will include snap pliers/tools and 200 snaps! Make sure you subscribe to this blog to get the latest info on that giveaway!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Episode #3: Southwestern Chicken Quesadillas

I stay plenty busy with a 7 month old baby boy (who just started pulling himself up into a standing position), teaching four law classes at the local college, and doing all my Crafty Gemini stuff.  I have some pretty good excuses to keep me from cooking dinner every night... but since I love to cook I do exactly what I do with my sewing.... MAKE THE TIME!!  Granted, I can't make 2 uninterrupted hours magically appear in the middle of my day but what I can do is come up with quick and easy meals to make for my family.

If you are reading this and asking yourself... how the heck does she make the time?!  I'm here to help you!  Episode #3 of the Crafty Gemini Show takes place in the Crafty Cocina (kitchen in spanish) where I show you how to make my Southwestern Chicken Quesadillas.  This recipe is completely interchangeable and lends itself nicely to any ingredients you want to include or leave out.  This is a favorite in our home especially for the really hectic days.

I literally take the chicken from the freezer to the dinner table in less than 15 minutes! Watch Episode #3 and learn how!

p.s.- You can make a vegetarian version by just leaving out the chicken.  :o)

Let me know what ingredients you used to make your quesadillas... I'm always looking for new things to try!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby food, Mama's way

Jonathan is now 7 months old and weighs about 21 lbs. As big and strong as he is (and having my DH and I as parents) you can bet he has a large appetite!  I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to stay home with him during the day while my DH works and around 5:00pm we switch off and I go teach paralegal/law classes at the local college in the evenings.  We are very thankful for the opportunity to bring in two paychecks and not have to pay for daycare.

Now that my big baby boy is eating solids 2-3 times a day I have found the perfect way to make and store his mama-made baby food!  For the past few months I had been making his veggie purees on a daily basis.  That got old real quick. I wanted to come up with a more efficient method.  I had heard of people making the food and pouring it into ice cube trays and freezing them.  That is okay if it works for you... but for us, I needed something that took up less space in our already petite freezer.  Since I cook every single day in my house you can imagine what my freezer looks like full of frozen meats, fruits, vegetable, pitas, bagels, juice... you name it! I have absolutely no space in there for long and bulky ice cube trays.

As I searched around town for some plastic containers all I found were ones that were for larger portions of food.  Nothing was small enough for what I needed.  Then I went into my local Dollar Tree store and wouldn't you know it I found a 10 pack of PERFECT sized containers for.... drum roll please........ $1.00!  UNBELIEVABLE!

If you have any dollar store in your area I recommend you take some time out and just walk through the aisles.  I guarantee you will be surprised by some of the stuff they carry for only $1.00.  Some examples of things I have found at my local store are organic strawberry jam (costs $3.99 in the supermarket), a 12 screwdriver set, a set of 3 microfiber towels for stuffing cloth diapers, etc. 

For this week I made my DS a soup with chicken breast, butternut squash, green beans and onions. yummo!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Little Iron That Could

I often tell my students that the most important thing in any sewing related project is an iron.  And it had better not be a $6 iron from Wal-Mart... sputtering rusty water all over your expensive fabric! ugh.  I hate cheapy irons that don't work properly.  I do a whole lot of ironing and pressing.  Notice they are NOT the same thing.  I "iron" my husband's work clothes every night for the following day.... but I "press" my quilting cottons for my piecework.  One involves you swiping the iron back and forth to iron out all the creases.  The other requires you pressing in a simple up and down motion, as if you were stamping the iron onto your fabric.

For my ironing duties I have a Rowenta Effective (DX1700) iron.  It is coming up on 5 years old and works great.  It is nice and big and covers a lot of ironing space quickly (especially on my DH's XL long sleeved work shirts).  It also has a super strong steam blast button and even vertical steam which I use on occasion.

What I do and don't like about my Rowenta is that it has an automatic shut-off feature.  I like that because it's great for keeping your house from burning to ashes if you're a busy working mom (like me!) and are still suffering from mommy brains (like me, too!) and accidentally forget to shut it off.  The down side to that same feature is that if you are an avid quilter you know how important it is to have a steaming hot iron ready to press your blocks as you stitch each seam together.  I hate it when I reach for the iron and it has shut itself off.... ARGHHH! I have to sit there and waste precious crafting time waiting for it to warm back up!  And these days any free minute I get to quilt is so valuable I knew I had to search for a solution.  And I know you may be thinking... get another iron without that feature.. duh!  But no.  I did not want to dish out another $60+ for another iron when mine worked just fine.  I was determined to find a solution... and I did!!

I started doing some research on a travel iron.  A smaller, simpler version of my iron but that was smaller to use just for my sewing & quilting projects.  I came across BESTCOVERY.  It's a site that reviews everything!  They tell you the "best" in every category you can think of.  It's definitely worth checking out.  Well, when I looked up the Best Travel Iron.... there she was!  The Steam Fast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron.

I was hesitant at first because she's so darn small!  I didn't believe a mini iron could even have steaming capabilities.  Well, I found it online at Amazon.com for $17 (and FREE shipping!) and I had to buy her!  2 weeks later... here we are together in quilting heaven!  She holds a little over an ounce of water, steams all the creases out of my fabric, and sets very precise seams.  What more could a quilter ask for??

*Note: The block you see in this picture is one of the 12 blocks I am making for a Spring Time April Block Swap over at Hinterberg Block Swap yahoogroup. This block is called Double Z  and I found it over at the Quilter's Cache
Oh yea.... and that block is a 12.5" block.... look how small my mini McSteamy is next to it! love, love, love it!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My patchwork tattoo!

My husband and I have been plotting and designing our new tattoos and while he knew exactly what he wanted to get I was bouncing all around.... as if I'm not already a scatter-brain. What I did know was that I wanted something that would be a tribute to the craft I love sew so much- Quilting!

I began designing little whimsical-looking sewing machines, then a pin cushion with a spool of thread, then a sewing machine with some patchwork under the presser foot, to finally---> a 4-patch with some quilting around the perimeter a needle, thread and a button. I love buttons! Don't believe me? Check this out.

My husband and I get our tattoos at Anthem Tattoo in Gainesville, FL. "Little Mike" hooks it up whenever we go by. ::smile:: The design is custom-made and I love it! I took in 4-patch block of fabrics that incorporate a bright and young color palette of yellow, turquoise, red, and purple and a button and Mike did the rest.

I am very pleased with the outcome and can't wait to go back for the second round of color so it can be even more vibrant. Do you have a tattoo honoring your craft? If so, what is it? Please comment. I love to hear from my readers! Wanna see more sewing/quilting related tattoos? Check out this Flickr group I'm a member of.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bargain hunting

::Pat myself on the back::

I've always been a thrifty shopper but lately I have really stepped up my game. I specifically want to share with you my latest sewing find!--- a (practically) new basic Brother LS-1217 sewing machine on my local Craigslist site for $20! I could hardly believe it! Granted, I don't need another sewing machine but for $20 I had to jump on it. Plus, whenever I teach sewing classes I like to have some basic beginner sewing machines for my students to use. The asking price was $30 but (since I am a hustler) I offered $20 and I got it! Let me tell you that the machine was still in its original box, had all kinds of notions and the user manual! What a find, eh?!

As of right now I have 1 Voyager 17 longarm quilting machine, 1 Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 400 sewing/embroidering machine, 1 Huskylock 905 serger, 1 old Sears Kenmore sewing machine (which I also found on Craigslist for $20 last year), 1 old JcPenney sewing machine, and my new Brother sewing machine. Wow!

I as curious to find out why the guy selling the machine was getting rid of it so, when I went to pick it up I asked him if it was his and he just didn't want it anymore.... His reply: "It's my ex's and I just want it out of here." OUCH. I happily took it off his hands.

Moral of the story: check your local Craigslist site often. You never know....your next great bargain may be only a break up away!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tutorial: Pin Cushion Bracelet

If you are like me you probably have 10 different pin cushions in your sewing area and maybe even a few magnetic ones. They are all great but I find myself having to either walk back and forth to get another pin or put some back. The best solution for this I have found is a pin cushion bracelet! The bracelet is comfortable, easy to put on and take off and makes pinning super convenient. The base of the pin cushion bracelet is a bottle cap- yay! for repurposing something we all have in our homes! The bottle cap allows your wrist some protection from getting poked with pins- OUCH!

I used black, size 20 resin snaps for the wristband closure. I buy my snap tools and snaps from KAMsnaps.

This project is a must have for any crafter! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Episode 2A- Another giveaway?!

Yes! We are hosting another giveaway! Handmade button earrings!

only allows me to upload 10-minute videos so we have created an Episode 2A which features the Button Earrings Tutorial. One lucky viewer will win..... not 1, not 2, but 3 pairs of button earrings. Button colors are: pink, blue, and red (the colors of the cupcake embellishment in the upcycled denim tote bag tutorial featured on Episode 2.)

It's really simple to enter the drawing for the giveaway... simply answer this question by posting a comment below.

What is your favorite kind of cupcake/frosting combination?

Deadline to enter is: March 31, 2010.
One winning comment will be randomly generated and announced on April 1, 2010.

Episiode 2 - Let the giveaways begin!

Episode 2 of the Crafty Gemini Show is up!

In this episode I show you how to upcycle an old pair of jeans by turning them into an environmentally friendly tote bag. I embellished the bag with a little cute cupcake applique made of felt and fleece and will be giving it away! That's right! One of you lucky people will win it!

One super simple way to enter the giveaway, simply answer this question by leaving a comment below.

What one environmentally friendly deed have you done lately?

Deadline to enter is: March 31, 2010.
One winning comment will be randomly generated and announced on April 1, 2010.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

the Crafty Gemini show premieres!

This day has finally arrived! The official launch of the Crafty Gemini show! The first episode has been officially posted on Crafty Gemini channel. Watch Episode #1 below.

The Crafty Gemini show is about accentuating what people already have. Yes, it is very convenient to be able to go out and buy your children new clothes or new birthday gifts for friends & family, but it is becoming less possible to do these things with the usual convenience because of the current economic conditions in our country and in the world.

The Crafty Gemini show allows viewers of all backgrounds and income/resource levels, to participate equally and effectively in the projects presented.

The show will cover sewing & quilting, paper crafts, cooking, baking, and all kinds of shortcuts, tips & tricks along the way. It's all about being resourceful and using what you already have to make a great new gift or article of clothing!

The first episode covers some budget-friendly cloth diapering tips, what kinds of cloth diapers I have made and used on our baby boy, how to make 7 double-layer soakers for only $0.50, and where to purchase ultra-absorbent microfiber towels to use as soakers.

Sign up for our newsletter and follow our blog so you stay up on all the Crafty Gemini tutorials and......... drum roll please..... GIVEAWAYS!!! woo-hoo! I know you all love giveaways!!

Here is Episode #1... enjoy!

(FYI: Episode #2 has 2 giveaways!) Check back to find out what you need to do to enter for your chance to win one of 2 handmade prizes!

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Luck of the Irish!

I am a member of a group on CafeMom called Sewing Diaper Divas, where we do what? Can you guess??

Discuss anything "sewing cloth diapers" related----duh! And guess what else we do!---- SWAPS, SWAPS, and more swaps! woo-hoo! My favorite!

Every month there is a different swap theme and this month's was: "The Luck of the Irish." If you have never made a cloth diaper, you are slacking! They are addictive and so much fun to make. I sure hope my swap partner in Ohio likes the one I made for here baby boy! But most importantly... I hope it fits him!

I started off deciding how I wanted to incorporate the "Luck of the Irish" theme on a diaper for a baby boy.

My brainstorming went a little bit like this:
Luck of the Irish= St. Patrick's day= Leprechaun= Green= Clovers!(this is where the little light bulb above my head clicks on!)

here's what I did:
- drew 4-leaf clovers on the paper side of paper-backed fusible webbing and ironed it on to the "wrong" side of my green fleece. Then cut them out.
-peeled the paper off and ironed clovers (adhesive side down) onto the "right" side of my dark gray fleece. Straight stitch around appliqued clovers.

-Finished making my diaper and.................. TA DA!!
I am very pleased with the way this fleece pocket diaper turned out. Don't you love working with fleece? I do! It's breathable yet repels water and my favorite part---- it doesn't fray!!

Have you worked on any fleece related projects lately? Let me know... I love to hear from you!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's snowing!! Winter Time Mini Quilt Swap

Ok... we all know how much I love swaps these days.. especially mini quilt swaps since I don't have time to make a "life-size quilt" these days with a baby and 2 jobs!

To stay sane I like to design and create different kinds of mini art quilts... so, this winter time mini quilt swap hosted by the Quilting Gallery was the perfect opportunity for me to get CREATIVE!

I decided to do a snowy landscape mini quilt and picked out the perfect fabric for the sky background, then some green for the pine trees, some sandy colored fabrics for the hills and then I could not figure out how exactly I was going to make it look like there was snow on the hills.

I pondered for 2 days trying different things on top of the hills to see how it would look... I tried white yarn, what if I just free motion quilted some crazy white thread design on top?... hmmm.. and then it dawned on me! Why not use white batting! So, I pulled out some scraps of white poly batting and began to shred it with my hands and laying it on top of the hills on the quilt top--- it was perfect! Now, how was I going to stitch it down... I though of using water-soluble stabilizer on top of the batting so I could stitch it all down then spritz it with some water to remove the stabilizer but I didn't have water-soluble stabilizer... lol. Then I looked up at my shelf of ribbons and saw a big bolt of shimmery white tulle! Perfect! I simply laid the tulle over the shredded batting and free motion quilted it! It came out beautiful! I am so proud of my new technique! I will definitely be using this again... you should try it! If you do, let me know what you think...

....gotta absolutely love challenging projects that allow us to be so creative and resourceful!
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