Friday, April 30, 2010

Fresh bread anyone?

If you know anything about me you know I stay busy.  For some crazy reason the more I have on my plate the better I do.  It may just be because I'm super hyper (naturally) and am always looking for the next fun thing to get into.  This week my brain has convinced me that I have all the time in the world because I've decided to take a bread-making class with a local expert.  That was is Friday and I have already made 5 loaves of freshly made whole wheat bread! Pretty insane I know... but it's so much fun!
I realize that for some of you making bread from scratch (WITHOUT a mixer or a bread maker) is not exactly your idea of fun.. but it really is!  You can make delicious bread using only your ingredients, a bowl and a wooden spoon.  You can throw in whatever extra ingredients you want and not have to worry about preservatives.  The bread can even be made into any shape you want.  How fun would it be to make funky dough shapes with your kids?!

Look at that yummy, fluffy, and yeasty dough! That's how you know your yeast was that good stuff!  I knew this double batch would make for very poofy bread.  After spending 15 minutes trying to decide what "extras" to throw in this dough I decided to keep it simple with whole wheat flour and some rolled oats.  I made 2 loaves and the had a little left over to make three small dough balls for some dinner rolls.

Look how high it rose! LOL. My bread looks like it's on steroids!  You may be laughing but I know you wish you had a bite of this warm delicious homemade bread!  The crust is so crispy and the inside sooooo fluffy.  This is the perfect combination.  That shiny gold crust you see is all thanks to brushing on a little egg wash (beating one egg and a splash of water).

If you have never tried making bread from scratch.. give it a try! It's an amazing experience.

happy breadmaking!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picnic Quilt with EQ6....EQ7?

So, Spring semester is over.. phew!  Three final exams down... one more to go!  Then we're off to New Orleans for a week vacation to visit my hubby's family and attend Jazz Festival. I can't wait!!  I will be teaching three more classes this summer at the local college but since two of them are online, I will have more time to quilt!! woo-hoo!

Now that Jonathan is 8 months old we have been attending more play dates at the park and the pool with our local mom's group.  I always take a quilt to lay on the grass for us to eat and play on... only problem is THE quilt I always take is the picnic quilt I made my husband for his 29th birthday a few years back.  I love it for park outings because of the denim backing- it holds up great to constant throwing on rough and dirty ground surfaces like the park or beach.  It has slowly turned into the go-to family quilt.  My hubby doesn't mind... but I feel bad wearing out his quilt.

I'm going to make my baby a picnic quilt specifically for our playtime outings. These are the fabrics I want to use.  I love the different shades of blue and even though they have a floral theme I thought it would be appropriate for my baby boy.  These fabrics will also go nicely with the dark navy denim backing fabric I plan to use.  
I used to design my quilts by drafting the dimensions and blocks on graph paper or just drawing rough sketches on a drawing pad.  Thanks to technology and Quilting Lodge I can now design ALL my quilts on my Electric Quilt 6 (EQ6) Quilting Software program! I am so excited! I heard so many great things about EQ6 and now I finally get to use it. I'm still learning the ins and outs but look at the design draft I came up with for the picnic quilt....

 The different shades of blue represent the fabrics pictured above.  So, it won't look exactly like the design but it will be similar.

I purchased the EQ6 program from our new sponsor- Quilting Lodge and received it in the mail in only 2 days... and did I mention I got FREE shipping and a free fat quarter with my purchase! 

If you are interested in this quilting software please note that EQ7 is coming out in June 2010 so you may want to head over to the Quilting Lodge shop and pre-order your copy with FREE SHIPPING for a limited time only!

This software is fabulous and I can't wait to see what is coming out new in EQ7.  I hear it will be great for those of us who like to incorporate pictures into our quilts.  If you have EQ6 there is an upgrade option for you too at a reduced price.

In the meantime I will enjoy my EQ6!

Happy quilting!

New Sponsor and New Fabric

Please help me welcome a new sponsor- Quilting Lodge!

The team behind this great online store is a mother and daughter quilting duo who carry an amazing selection of fabrics, notions, quilting software, and tons of other sewing & quilting related goodies!  Did I mention they carry fabric?...  as in really great quality designer fabrics at the most affordable prices I've found!

Check out the newest Timeless Treasures fabric they have in stock right now!!

Wondering how I found them?... eBay! After just one purchase from them I was hooked!  Let me tell you about their customer service.... it is ridiculous!  The fastest shipping ever.  I literally placed an order, paid for it and within 1 hour Vicki from Quilting Lodge emailed me to let me know it had already shipped! I could hardly believe it.  Then, when I received the package only 2 days later they even included a fat quarter in my packaging as a token of appreciation for giving them my business.... a fat quarter?! Are you serious?! Who do you know that gives away fabric like that for FREE? Even my husband said he wished all businesses were like the amazing women behind Quilting Lodge.

I know its tough in the days of internet shopping to actually feel some kind of human interaction with whoever you are buying from.  But if you make a purchase from the Quilting Lodge you will see what I mean.  The connection is there. That genuine concern to make every transaction as smooth and satisfying for the customer as possible.  I am really glad I found Quilting Lodge... and I bet you will too.

The Quilting Lodge's eBay store is up and running and will be launching a website very soon. Go look at their inventory... gotta love those prices!... oh yea, and their shipping rates are VERY reasonable.  They don't try to overcharge you there either.

We are currently seeking other sponsors for our blog & website.  To learn more about our current sponsorship opportunities click on the Sponsor link.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You Can Quilt & Giveaway

Many of you are probably interested in sewing and not quilting... for whatever reason.  But today I need you to open up your mind, eyes, and ears and listen to me when I yell "YOU CAN QUILT!"  It's really not that crazy of an idea.  No matter how difficult or time consuming you think quilting is I am challenging you to watch my video tutorial on quilting basics and to try out my quilted coasters project made out of two half-square triangle block units. Keep reading for the tutorial. To be a quilter you don't have to hand piece and hand quilt a California king size quilt.  Many quilters just make smaller quilted projects like bags or wall hangings.

Look at me... I'm a quilter and because I don't have time to make huge quilts I satisfy my urge by making mini quilts.  And by mini I do mean mini.  Most of my minis are smaller than 15" x 15".   Those can be whipped up in no time.   Well, in a few hours... but that is considered "no time" when you compare it to a quilt you've been working on for 8+ years.  Don't laugh... I know quilters who are in that situation.

So, whether you know how to sew or not...even if you are the most beginner of all beginners.... go ahead and tackle these quilted coasters as your first quilting project!  You will see there is not much to it... it is do-able and fun!....and who knows maybe you'll fall in love and become one of those hand-piecing-hand-quilting-California-king-size-quilt-makers!

I'm in a happy mood today because two of my tutorials were featured on Craft Gossip! What does that mean for you?.... that means you get a giveaway!
One of you lucky ducks will win this set of 4 pieced pinwheel coasters I made out of some vintage fabric I had in my stash.

You can enter in three different ways:
1) become a facebook fan
2) Follow me on Twitter
3) Follow this blog
Once you do any or all of these things drop me a comment here and let me know which ones you did. Each one you do will give you another opportunity to win!

Giveaway ends Friday, April 30, 2010.  Please leave your email in your comment if you do not have a way for me to contact you.  Winner will be announced on May 1st.

{p.s.- I have another giveaway running until the end of April,too.}

happy quilting!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Featured on Craft Gossip x 2

Woo-hoo! What could be better than waking up to find out that 2 of my tutorials have been featured over at Craft Gossip!  I'm so honored to be featured at such a HUGE website in the crafting world.  If you don't know what Craft Gossip has you MUST check it out.  They have tutorials, tips, and giveaways ranging in crafts from sewing to polymer clay! It's pretty much crafting heaven. 

In case you're curious, the two tutorials that were featured are:

1) How to load a quilt on a frame using a floating technique
2) How to make a baby bib

So exciting!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Grab my button!

Yipee!  I found a real simple tutorial online that showed me how to post the html code for my own customized Crafty Gemini button!

I created the button myself using Photoshop 7.0 and then saved it to my Photobucket account so it would have an internet location that is accessible to everyone and.... voila! Peep my new Crafty Gemini button! It's plain and simple and I love it!  Feel free to copy the html code and add it to your blog if you'd like!

If you have a blog check out the tutorial and add your own button to your page. To create your button you can create any picture you want using a paint program, photoshop, or even just use a picture with some text over it.  Whatever you want will work... after all, it is YOUR button!  

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crafty Gemini featured on Sew It To Me

AH!!  I love blogland!  Eva & Vanessa over at Sew It To Me are featuring a Crafty Gemini video tutorial today!

My quilted laptop cover tutorial is on display at their blog and they were kind enough to give it a great intro.  You should definitely check it out! Go over there now and read the blog posting and don't forget to enter my custom made laptop cover giveaway.

One random winner will be announced on May 1st so be sure to check back then and to leave some kind of contact information so I can reach you if you are the winner.

Those ladies at Sew It To Me are doing an excellent job! They post all kinds of tutorials from around the web and giveaway opportunities.  It is a blog ANY crafter should follow!  Click on the button below to head right on over and follow their blog!

BWS tips button

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Organizing the fabric stash

Once upon a time I used to be organized.  Now with a 7-month old baby, a husband, a dog and 2 jobs I will admit there are some things around here that just don't (and won't) get done.  I used to stress over it and now I just accept it.  If you can relate to this... don't be ashamed! I'm sure you do a lot more for your family than keeping everything spic-and-span.

Fortunately for me I have a mother and a younger sister who like to clean and organize.  Well, maybe they don't like it but they always help me out when they come into town.  They were here this past weekend and the room in need some serious Niecy Nash loving ----> my sewing room!  Are you surprised?

Anyway... I'm constantly working on so many different projects that I don't have time to tidy up after each one or else I would never get any work done.  So, with not a lot of (comfortable) storage space in my sewing room... (and by comfortable I mean I need to be able to see every piece of fabric I own and be able to access it at the drop of a dime without having to move boxes, open bins, and scavenge for it.)  When I had a very small fabric stash I would just keep all my small pieces in plastic baggies and toss them all in a bin.  I would sort through the baggies without having to have fabric all over the place.  Then I read somewhere that storing fabric in plastic baggies isn't recommended because if there is any moisture in there it will mold and rot (ew, gross.)

My genius mother came up with a fabulous idea and here it is!  We sorted all my fabrics by color and then tied them up in cute bundles and store them in a big plastic bin.  Now whenever I need fabric I simply grab the bundle with the color I need!  You could use this idea and sort by whatever you want, floral prints, retro fabrics, etc.  This idea definitely helped me stay better organized and it takes up a lot less space than putting each piece of fabric on shelves.

How do you store your fabric? I'm curious.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pecan Pralines

Dieters beware!

In a previous post I mentioned my DH (darling husband) is from New Orleans.  As much as I love cooking Dominican and other Latin American/Caribbean dishes for him, I also try to make sure I help him stay close to his roots through the meals I prepare at home.  When I first met my DH's parents at his 29th birthday dinner everyone was talking about the "candy" his mom makes.  My DH and his younger brothers were practically watering at the mouth just talking about it.  I didn't ask for the recipe.  For the next year all I heard was talk about that candy that I had yet to see or taste.  Then just a few weeks ago we received word that my MIL (mother-in-law) was making her famous "candy."  Anxious to taste this yummy candy, we arrived at her house as she was still making it.  I leaned over her shoulder and took my mental notes.  I nonchalantly asked what she put in it, careful not to ask for a secret family recipe or anything.....

When it was done..... we ate it and loved it... and the piece we took to-go didn't even make it to the end of the block.  I went home and tried to recreate the candy.  The first batch was yummy! My DH swears it needed more sugar and then I reminded him that the candy was nothing BUT sugar!  He has a sickening sweet tooth.... poor thing.
The second batch was even better and that's when I finalized my recipe. The flavor was on point and the consistency was perfection! Feel special, people! I am being nice and sharing it with you because I think candy this good should not be kept a secret!!  Try it out and make sure you have several people to help you eat it or I guarantee you will eat it all by yourself.... and if you do, don't say I didn't warn you!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cooking with Dominican Love

I'm Dominican.  My parents are from the Dominican Republic and my sisters and I were born in the U.S., but I am Dominican.  Dominican by the language I speak....the music I dance to....the customs & traditions I will pass down to my children... and so many other aspects of my culture that make me who I am.  I especially love my dominican food.  Luckily for my husband I love to cook (and bake).  I started cooking when I was just 6 years old.  My mother taught me how to make white rice, red beans, and chicken, called "La Bandera" (the flag) among Dominicans.  This is the most traditional meal in the D.R.  You can walk into a Dominican restaurant and ask for "La Bandera"and you will get a plate of rice, beans, and whatever meat they are cooking that day.  It is delicious!

When I met my husband I thought I was going to be in trouble in the cooking department because I wasn't sure if he would like rice and beans.  Come to find out he is from New Orleans and they love rice and beans.  The food in New Orleans is very similar to Caribbean and latin american food and it's been smooth sailing for us every since!

One thing I always have on hand in my kitchen is sofrito. Sofrito is an aromatic puree of vegetables and herbs that serves as the base for a lot of spanish and latin american dishes.  I have created this video tutorial to show you one way to make and store your own sofrito.  You can switch up the ingredients to include aromatics that you like in your food.  If you like more heat you can add jalapeƱo or habanero peppers.  If you like red bell peppers instead of green bell peppers you can use that instead. It is really up to you.

If you have never tried your hand at Caribbean or latin cooking... I highly recommend you do! Enjoy this tutorial and please comment and let me know what dishes you make with your sofrito!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Episode #5: Laptop Cover Tutorial & Giveaway

With my DS crawling, standing up and scaling the living room furniture now at 7 months old... my days of sitting at a computer for uninterrupted hours (or even one hour) are looooooong gone! I researched netbooks (a.k.a- subnotebooks, mini laptops) for almost a year before finally deciding on my new Acer Aspire One from JR Electronics when it was on sale for $299.99 and free shipping.  I love it! It's small, lightweight (only 2.76 lbs), and the battery lasts me about 8 hours! INSANE!

I love that I can sit on the floor, couch, or bed and get work in all the time.  It's pretty crazy that I'm admitting this....but I actually read emails, grade assignments, and blog while nursing. ::cheeks turning red:: But hey, I gotta get it in where I can.  

I can't really throw a netbook in my diaper bag backpack and expect it to come out in one piece. So, I wanted to make a separate quilted case with handles to tote my mini around in. Specifically for the days when my DH gets off work early and I can run to a coffee shop for some undisturbed time to prep my class lectures. 
I had fun making my new netbook cover and I'm glad I put this pretty batik fabric to good use. I made it wide enough to fit the charger so I make sure I don't leave the house without it..... hate it when your laptop dies and you left the charger at home..... ah, law school memories.

I think this is a great beginner project especially for any sewers who are thinking about dabbling into the quilting world but claim to have no "patience."  (p.s.- if you think all quilters are patient... meet me,  I'm Vanessa, I'm a quilter with very little patience. I used to have no patience at all and then I had a baby...)

For Episode #5 of the Crafty Gemini show I show you how to make your own quilted laptop cover. I walk you through all the measurements you need to take for a customized cover for any size laptop.  There is also an accompanying tutorial on making and attaching your own binding to any quilt.

Here's a little giveaway for those of you interested! Post a comment below and be entered to win your very own CUSTOM LAPTOP COVER!  One random winner will be announced on May 1, 2010.  That means you have the entire month of April to enter.  Tell your friends!

Congrats to giveaway winners!

It's April 1st and I promised I would announce the 2 giveaway winners today! So, here they are:


April Fools!!!

Ok, maybe that wasn't the best joke to crack especially when it deals with winning FREE stuff but I just couldn't resist.

The actual winners are:

Upcycled Denim Tote Bag: 
Comment #2--->Misty's Blog! (Please contact me at: craftygemini(at) to coordinate shipment of your prize!)

3 Pairs of button earrings:  
Comment #4--->GreenBottoms! (Please contact me at: craftygemini(at) to coordinate shipment of your prize!)

Congratulations to both lucky winners!  More giveaways are coming... very, very soon. Stay tuned!
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