Tuesday, August 31, 2010

3-way Giveaway!

Hello, lucky readers!

I have been busy sewing up a storm!  I made 2 twin sized quilt tops in the past week and as much as I would love to show them to you.... it will have to wait.  They are both original designs I created to submit for magazine publications.  I hope somebody will say yes to my designs! Pray for me!

Some good news is that I have been granted permission to post one of my projects on a VERY popular online blog! I'm very excited! (can't you tell?)  More details on this to follow...

Because I feel like a very bad blogger lately... I mean, I don't blog for days and then when I do I just give you tidbits of information and don't share any details about all the quilty moves I've been making!  So, I have (once again) teamed up with Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe for another ridiculously generous giveaway! 

Seriously... sit down for this one.  

1) First, here is a FREEBIE for ALL of you!
Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe is offering an additional 10% off any purchase of $20 or more!
(offer does not apply to gift certificates, clubs, $1 Fat Quarters,or shipping costs)
 Simply enter the coupon code: GEMINI
Coupon Code expires Sunday, Sept. 5th at 11:59pm (PST)

Now, to the actual giveaway....
- There will be 3 different winners:
-Prize #1: $30 gift certificate to Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe 
-Prize #2:  $30 gift certificate to Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe 
-Prize #3:  $50 gift certificate to Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe 

-How to enter:
Prize #1: Will be awarded to one random Facebook Fan.  
Jojo's Quilt Shoppe Facebook Fan Page and do something to promote her shop.  Either add her as a friend, "Like" her fan page, invite friends to like her page, change your status to let your friends know about the coupon code above, etc.  
-Then come back here and post a comment letting me know which one (or more) of the above things you did.  
-You will receive one entry chance per thing you do.  So, be sure to let me know what all you did to help spread the word.

Prize #2: Will be awarded to one random Twitter fan.
-To enter, Tweet about this giveaway and the coupon code!
-Then come back here and leave a comment letting me know you did so.  

Prize #3:  Is a grand prize for all the Facebook and Twitter entries combined.
-One random comment will be chosen from all the Facebook and Twitter entries to win a $50 gift certificate to be used at Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe .  

Giveaway ends on Sunday, September 5th at 11:59pm (EST).


Spread the word and tell your sewing & quilting friends! This is a fabulous opportunity to add more fabric, notions, thread, patterns, etc. to your stash!
Good luck to you all!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Online Quilting Magazine

I used to subscribe to three different quilting magazines until I was pregnant with my DS.  Then we reworked our budget and I decided to cut out my magazine subscriptions...partially to save some money and another side of me didn't really need them.  I was designing all my own quilts and I rarely ever reproduced a quilt I saw in a magazine.  I really just read them to stay up on all the quilty-related contests, new products, sales, and of course just to admire some pretty quilts. 

There are a few things about print magazines that I'm not really into. 
1) The projects are not really my quilty style.
2) Too many ads take away from quilty material
3) It seems like it's always the same people featured
4) No young or new quilter material

I'm a member of an online group for quilt designers and I recently found out about The Quilt Pattern Magazine:
a totally online quilting magazine! The first issue is scheduled to be released in January 2011 and I am too excited!  The editors have a sample issue posted on the site for you to have an idea what it will be like.  I have been corresponding with the editor to see how receptive they are to new designers submitting articles and projects and in her own words: "One major aim of TQPM is to feature new and upcoming designers and teachers." AH!!! Finally!! The e-magazine of my quilty dreams! 
Now check this out... You can subscribe right on their site and they are offering an introductory offer for a 1 year subscription of 12 issues, plus one extra issue FREE. That will be 13 issues for.... only  $11.99 (US)! Love it!  That's more than 50% off other magazine subscriptions... and this will be a monthly publication!  You know all the other ones are every 2 months.  TQPM can afford to set the price so low because there are no printing or shipping costs! Here is my favorite part: We are guaranteed at least 5 quilt patterns in each issue-- at about a $1 an issue for 5+ patterns you are paying just around $0.20 per pattern! WOW! 

"All pattern templates will be in PDF format for accuracy of printing. Since there are no space limits, templates will not overlap one another the way they do in regular news stand magazines."--- love this!

I am so excited for The Quilt Pattern Magazine to come out it's ridiculous! Spread the news to all your friends and get them to subscribe so TQPM can continue to give us the most quilting patterns for our money!

....and who knows? maybe you'll see me one of my designs in the magazine someday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Moda Honey Bun for me

Before we left on our mini vacation last week I put in an order with Quilting Lodge for my first ever precut!  Can you believe it?  I have never made anything from precut fabric packs.  You know... charm packs, Honey Buns, Turnovers, Jelly Rolls, etc. I think it's mostly because I looooove cutting fabric! Honestly, cutting is one of my favorite parts of the quilt-making process.  Am I the only one?  Most everyone I know hates cutting.  They claim they don't like the math! Can you believe that?!  Quilting is ALL ABOUT math! That's why I love it so much.

I purchased a MODA Objects of Desire by Sandy Gervais Honey Bun from Quilting Lodge... for $12.99! The shipping was only $2.25!  I won't mention any other sites but I did a quick online search and I found the exact same Honey Bun for $21.95 in some places....heavens knows I didn't stick around long enough to see what shipping would be. Ouch. 

What to make with this Honey Bun... hmmmm.....

I'm happy to have such great sponsors who offer us quality products at amazing prices!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sorry I've been gone...

I know I haven't posted in (more than) a few days... I've just been caught up with life. My baby boy turned 1 year old on Friday and my husband turned 31 on Sunday. We left town for the 1st Annual Wilson Family Birthday Beach Weekend. Got back yesterday and the new semester starts today! phew! What a busy life. Been trying to settle back in and I really wish I didn't have to teach tonight. But thankfully, I have a job. So, I'll put a smile on my face and go make some money for my little family. It's not that I don't enjoy my job... I'm just tired today. Tomorrow I'll be in a better mood, for sure.

I mean, really.... who would want to go back to work after a perfectly sunny Florida weekend at the beach with two birthday boys? I love them more than anything in this world.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe Giveaway #2 Winner Announced!

A big Congratulations to Laurie!!
Laurie said: "I have been a fan of yours since I found your videos, you do a great job! Just became a fan of JoJo's! Great site!"

Your comment was randomly selected as the winner of a great bundle package of goodies from Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe!
We will be contacting you to coordinate shipment of your prizes!

Thanks again to everyone who entered!! stay tuned for more giveaways... the more you enter the better your chances of winning some sewing/quilting goodies, too!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Money Saving Quilting Tip#1

One of my younger sisters is getting her butt beat in Navy bootcamp right now.  She has been there since mid-July and will (hopefully) graduate in September.  The graduation is somewhere in Illinois and I won't be able to attend but my mom will be headed up from here (Florida).  I am designing a quilt for her using her favorite color, purple.  I wanted to buy some really pretty fabrics that really showcase the color purple. I wasn't sure what other color to incorporate with it so, you can imagine how excited I was when I found MODA's Clementine Collection by Me and My SisterQuilting Lodge  has 1/2 yard cuts of this fabric for only $4!  I bought 1/2 yard each of MODA Clementine Lavender Flower Print with Polka Dots and MODA Clementine Lavender & Green Polka Dot Print.
My next step was to go to my local Joann's fabric store with my new Moda fabrics and look for coordinating fabrics that were either on sale, in the remnant bin, or in the clearance section. I even looked for fabrics that were not on sale so I could use my 40% off coupon.  I never buy fabric regular priced..... never....ever.

This is my price breakdown for the fabric I am going to use to make an entire quilt:
-1/2 yard MODA Clementine Lavender & Green Polka Dot Print.: $4.00 (bought at Quilting Lodge)
-1/2 yard MODA Clementine Lavender Flower Print with Polka Dots: $4.00 (bought at Quilting Lodge)
-3/4 yard White background with purple polka dots: $1.30 (found in the remnant bin at Joann's!)
-1 yard Dark purple background with white polka dots: $2.50 (was $4.99 and used a 50% coupon on it.)
-1 yard green background with small white floral print: $2.40 (was on sale 40% off from $3.99)
-1/2 yard of purple background with dark purple flourishes: $1.75 (found in the remnant bin at Joann's!)

That totals $15.95 for a quilt that has 2 designer fabrics!  
Now that is a budget friendly quilt top! :o)

Don't the fabrics all go nicely together?!  I think so!!

Quilting can be a very expensive hobby if you let it.  So, here's my money saving quilting Tip #1:

-buy a few designer fabrics that you absolutely love and have to have in your quilt
-then go find coordinating fabrics in your stash or on sale at your local fabric store.  

This way you can still make the designer fabrics the star of the quilt without having to spend tons of money to buy the coordinating fabrics or solids from that same fabric line.  

Happy (budget friendly) quilting!!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Winner announced and another surprise!

And the winner of my first Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe giveaway is comment #44.......

Jenybear said...
I have been looking for this fabric for a few projects I'm working on! Namely a new apron for my mother. Jojo's has a bunch of fantastic things! I love it. :)

Fabric: http://store.jojosgiftshoppe.com/stores_app/Browse_Item_Details.asp?Shopper_id=4799822217194799&Store_id=782&page_id=23&Item_ID=2517 
Congratulations, Jenybear! 
I will be contacting you to coordinate shipment of your prize.
Now, for the surprise!
I am hosting yet another giveaway this week and I know you will go bananas for this one, too!
We had such an amazing response to the last giveaway that we've decided to offer another one this week! Ahem.... one lucky winner will receive ALL of the following:
5. An adorable sewing machine charm keychain.

How to enter to win this giveaway:  
-Visit Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe facebook page and become a fan by clicking the "Like" button at the top of the page.
-Then visit the Crafty Gemini facebook page and become a fan by clicking the "Like" button at the top of the page
- Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me that you are now a Facebook follower of both our fan pages!
Easy enough?!  I think so...
Giveaway ends on Saturday, August 14th at 11:59 (eastern standard time). 
One winner will be announced the next day.

Thank you to Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe for generously providing the prizes for this giveaway!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Two Applique Tutorials

If you are just starting to sew or quilt you may cringe at the sound of the word "applique."  I know I did when I first started about 3 years ago.  I would hear quilters saying things like, "I've been working on this applique quilt for over 5 years," or "I love to take my applique blocks with me on long car trips."  Neither of these comments made me want to research the art of applique.  A few years back I started making some Obama tote bags around election time in 2008 and I used the fusible web/raw edge technique of doing applique to recreate his logo, the words, and numbers.  It's easy, quick and there is virtually no fuss.  Just trace your design, fuse it to your applique fabric, then peel off the paper and fuse it to your background fabric.  Can't beat that! I've just posted a video tutorial showing how this raw edge/fusible applique technique is done.  This is an excellent skill to have because it can be used for just about any project.  It doesn't have to be a quilt!  You can applique a child's initials onto a backpack.  Or applique little motifs to their clothes.  Spruce up a plain baby onesie with a cute heart.  The ideas are endless.  One of my recent fusible applique projects is this yellow star I appliqued onto the super hero cape I made for my DS.

The second video tutorial is for an applique technique that some prefer because you get the same effect as needle-turn applique without all the work and hand stitching. I like to call this technique the "cheater's" version of needle turn applique.  This is easy to do as well and you can use it just like you would the raw edge/fusible applique.  It's just a slightly different way of doing it and the results don't have exposed raw edges.

Over the next few days I will be uploading some FREE applique designs that I am creating just for you all!  They will be copyrighted but you can use them for personal use.  Meaning you can print them out and use them for whatever you are making for yourself or to give as a gift to someone else.  Please do not sell items you make with my copyrighted applique patterns.  If you are a member of a group that would like to use them for sales that will raise money for a charity please email me at: craftygemini{at}gmail{dot}com to inquire about expressed written permission for these purposes.  Please respect all the time and hard work that goes into making these free resources available to you. 

Thank you and enjoy!

Remember to share pictures of any projects you make using my tutorials on our Flickr group!

Melting pot meal

As you may recall DH is from New Orleans and my family is from the Dominican Republic. Our cuisine is very similar because of the French and Spanish influence that occupied both geographical locations.  This makes me very happy.  I enjoy cooking dishes from all around but my favorite is always what I grew up with.... rice, beans, and some kind of meat. These days we have swapped out our not-so-healthy white rice for bulgur wheat.  It's the stuff they use to make tabouleh.  You know, that very popular middle eastern salad that has tomatoes, parsley, onion, etc.  Well, believe it or not I grew up eating several middle eastern and mediterranean dishes that are very popular in Domincan Republic because of the Arabic and Turkish influence on the island. One of my favorites are quipes (pronounced key-pay).  My mom makes the best ones ever. 

Tonight I was in the mood for the ultimate comfort food for both DH and I.  RiceBulgur wheat, beans, and meat (chicken, to be exact.)

If you have never tried bulgur wheat as a rice substitute... go for it!  It is so much healthier and it tastes just as delicious.  We haven't eaten rice in months and that is tough for us both since we grew up eating rice almost every single day!  If we can make the switch you can at least give it a try!  You can find bulgur wheat at just about any supermarket these days.  The bulgur wheat we have says there is 8 grams of protein in just 1/4 cup! 

Here is the make-do recipe I threw together tonight. 

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Bulgur Wheat and Beans

Bulgur Wheat:
It cooks very similar to rice.  I usually cook 2 cups of bulgur wheat and put it in a pan to boil with about 3 cups of water and a little bit of olive oil.  
-Bring water to a boil, stir around and when most of the water is evaporated, put a lid on the pot and set heat to low for about 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the bulgur wheat is nice and fluffy. 

I use dry beans that I soak in water for a few hours and then boil for about 1.5 hours.  But you can just used canned red kidney beans.  Same difference.
-In a medium saucepan put 1 lb of softened dry beans or 2 cans of red kidney beans with 2 cups of water to boil with 2 cloves of garlic a pinch of salt and 2 bay leaves.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer for about 15 minutes.
- After 8-10 minutes that the water has started to evaporate cut up some bacon (we use turkey bacon) and drop it in the pot.  This adds a delicious smokey flavor. 
- Simmer another few minutes or until the consistency of the beans are to your liking.  
-Salt and pepper to taste.  I don't salt too much at the beginning because since the water evaporates and the beans will reduce the salt will concentrate and then you'll end up with it too salty.  So season at the end.


-Season your chicken thighs with Goya Adobo! You don't have to but that is what I use most of the time.  You can just use salt & pepper if you want.
- In a frying pan or pot at medium high heat drizzle a a little of extra virgin olive oil.  Then place your chicken thighs skin side down (I know we shouldn't be eating crispy chicken skin but my husband loooooves and it and I hadn't made it in a while.  Don't judge us, please.)

-Leave thighs without moving them until the skin side is nice and crispy.  Turn them over and continue to cook until the internal temperature of the chicken is between 170 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Buen provecho!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Make do meals & recipes

If you are my friend on facebook you have probably already seen the meals I have been cooking this last week.  For those of you that haven't... it all started because my T-mobile MyTouch 3G Slide makes it so easy for me to take a picture and within seconds literally have it posted to my facebook page.  Well, I started taking pictures of our dinner with the hopes of inspiring some of my lazy and uninspired friends.  Everyone is always so surprised when they see I cook dinner every day.  Yes, I chase my hyper baby boy around all day.  Yes, I have two jobs. Yes, I have plenty of other things to do... but cooking doesn't have to take as much time as people think! And we all know there is nothing better than a home cooked meal!  Some of my friends are shocked when I tell them we only eat out once every few months.  There is just no need for it.  It's a waste of money in my eyes.  Or as my husband likes to say, "I don't like to eat out because I get better food at home." ::smile::

So, I've decided to add my make-do meals and recipes to my blog postings because I hope it will inspire some of you, too!  Maybe I will introduce you to an ingredient you've never heard of, or tell you about my way of cooking something, etc.  I call them "make-do meals" because I don't sit there and read a recipe book or search for them online.  I literally will open the fridge, freezer, and pantry and decide what I am going to throw together right then and there.  These are not Michelin restaurant recipes but they are quick, easy, yummy, and healthy (for the most part).

So here is what we ate for dinner tonight:
  Blackened salmon with quinoa stuffed tomatoes
(I added a dollop of greek yogurt to cool the spiciness of the salmon)
Don't ask me how I come up with this stuff.. I just do! 

-season both sides of fillets with blackened seasoning (or whatever else you want)
-place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the fish flakes off with a fork.

Quinoa stuffed tomatoes:
- Cook quinoa just like you would rice (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa). I used 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water.
- In a medium saucepan put water, quinoa, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, and half of an onion chopped.
-Bring to a boil, and when the water level is almost all evaporated cover the saucepan and lower the heat to Low. 
-While that cooks, cut the tops off your tomatoes and I also cut a really teeny tiny pit off the bottom to make them sit up by themselves.  
- With a spoon or melon baller scoop out the inside and the seeds of the tomatoes making sure not to rip or break the tomato.
- Now, check on the quinoa.  It is usually done within 15-20 minutes.  Fluff it up with a fork.  
-In a small bowl combine 1/2 cup of quinoa, 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs, 1/3 of a cup of cheese (I used shredded mozzarella).  At this point you can add any other yummy flavors or seasonings you want.  I added some Sriracha hot sauce  because we love a little zing in our food. 
-Take your quinoa mixture and a spoon and stuff the tomatoes all the way to the top and let it over flow a little bit so the tops can brown nicely in the oven. 
- Place your stuffed tomatoes in a small roasting pan, drizzle with extra virign olive oil and pop in the oven at 375 degrees for 20 minutes (longer would be even yummier).  I like to put my tomatoes under the broiler for a minute or two at the end to crisp up the tops.  

That's it!  That wasn't too bad, was it?  If you have never had or heard of quinoa do some research on it.  It doesn't taste like anything and its super healthy.  Even Dr.Oz calls it a super food!

Buen provecho! :o)


Monday, August 2, 2010

New Sponsor and Giveaway!

Please help me give a big quilty welcome to our newest sponsor-- Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe!
First, let me tell you what their slogan is:
"We Strive to Make Your Favorite Pastime "Affordable"
Jojo's Gift Shoppe

Is that cool, or what?  I don't know about you but I loooooove the word "affordable."  As a quilter I know how expensive the perfect fabric for a project can be.  So, I am always looking for a sale.  And boy does Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe have sales!

Their primary focus is "having low prices on a continuous basis."
Their secondary focus is "locating quilt fabrics that are over a year old by Moda fabrics or any other quilt manufacturer."

And if you don't believe it... check out there $1.00 Fat Quarter page!  I thought this was insane!
You can't even buy poor quality fat quarters for $1.00 at your local chain fabric store....and here they are selling designer fabrics for $1.00 per fat quarter! Wow!

If you don't need to buy any more fabric or notions, Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe has a bunch of links for FREE quilting and sewing patterns.  have a look----> FREE Quilting Patterns and Resources

Here is what Joelle from Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe  told me about what makes her online shop so special:

-  Your order of quilting fabric is cut by hand, we add an extra inch (that's nice of her!) and carefully package your items to ensure a safe delivery to your door. 
-  All quilt fabrics are packaged in plastic for protection against the weather.   We also ensure that your envelope or box is well secured with tape, we know how those envelopes can fall apart at the seams!  
-  We also know how important it is to save on postage, we are very creative when it comes to packaging, if we can fit more in your package, we will. You can contact us anytime to make a custom fit of products in your package so that you can maximize the use of your postage dollars.  
-  We strive to ship your quilting fabric within 24 hours (WOO-HOO!)
And if all that wasn't enough.... Joelle has also offered some fabric for me to host a giveaway for you!

One very lucky winner will win..... check this out.... two charm packs AND one jelly roll of Awesome by Sandy Gervais for Moda. 

To enter the giveaway: Visit Jojo's Quilt & Gift Shoppe and look around. Then come back here and tell me what one thing were you pleasantly surprised to see in her shop. 

Did you find a fabric you've been looking for? 
Do they have your favorite quilting ruler? 
Did you see a sale price you just couldn't resist? 
Tell me! I want to know!

Giveaway will run until Saturday,  August 7th at 11:59 pm.
Winner announced HERE.
One random winner will be announced the following day!
(fyi- Each charm pack contains 42 squares measuring 5" x 5" each; Each jelly roll contains 40 strips measuring 2.5" x 45")

I discovered Paper Piecing!

OMG!! Why didn't anyone tell me about Paper Piecing sooner!??  I love this stuff!

I bought some quilting books at an estate sale this weekend and as I flipped through them I started reading the paper (or foundation) piecing section.  After a quick review of it, it seemed do-able.  I then do what I always do when something intrigues me.... get on my netbook and do some research.  First, I started on YouTube because I am a visual learner.  Also, because I have posted dozens of sewing & quilting related videos on my YouTube channel and I was sure someone had posted one on paper piecing.
I was right... there were several paper piecing videos.... but none actually showed me how to paper piece! ugh!  They were either boring, confusing, or had bad camera shots of what was going on.  I was very disappointed.  I then turned to the text version of paper piecing tutorials.  I found several but I still could not understand their instructions.  I did find this link on the Quilter's Cache website with a step-by-step tutorial but again, because it is not an interactive tutorial the process just didn't click for me.   I decided to print the Practice Base Block she has on her site and try to figure it out on my own.

 Ha! I started arranging the fabrics in all different orientations and stitching on the lines until it turned out correctly!  I messed up 5 blocks before I finally got it right! I'm glad I figured it out all on my own because now I can work on a tutorial to help others (who like me) couldn't find a tutorial on the web to teach them.  Would you be interested in a video tutorial by me showing you the basics of paper piecing?

Hopefully, by sharing my story with you, I will inspire you to give it a go!  It is so much fun and once you do one you will see how easy it is!  I still don't know why more people don't do paper piecing.... I love it!  I made some blocks today using up some scraps for practice and they turned out perfectly! Have a look.....

If you have trouble measuring your blocks and often have to fudge and pull on corners to get things to match up this technique may be for you!  It's literally piecing by numbers.  So simple, and the results are amazing!  Super crisp corners...perfect 1/4" seam allowance all around your block....etc. 

As I researched online, I found out that there are literally dozens of ways to get your paper piecing pattern setup.  Some people use parchment paper, newsprint, tissue paper, tracing paper, or even fabric as their foundation.  I used regular ol' computer paper so I could print out the block pattern and didn't have to deal with tracing lines.  I minimized my stitch length to 2.0 and it was super easy to remove the paper.  What do you use as your paper piecing foundation?  

Now... I'm off to design my own paper piecing blocks on my EQ7 software program!

Happy quilting!
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