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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

What an amazing Christmas. My family (Mom, Sister, Brother, Husband, Father) never cease to amaze/surprise me! Since my family all live in seperate parts of the US we put our "wishlist" on Amazon and go from there. It insures we always get what we really want for Christmas. Sometimes we'll include a sort-of "dream" item. In my case it was a new sewing machine. Well, I got one! I could NOT believe it. A Janome 2010! I was at "Mr. Sewing Machine" in Dunbar, WV looking around for new sewing machines one day. They showed me the features of each one, and the Janome that I got for Xmas has a stop feature that I am in love with. This isn't a super fancy machine but I'm pretty sure it will be better than my old Singer Inspiration 4210. LOL. My old singer baby has done a lot for me. . I've stitched SO Much on it in the last 2 years. I think I went through at least 100 belts. ANYWHO - I have yet to get the new Janome out of the box because I want to clean my home first. It's a WRECK from all the Christmas festivities.
Along with the awesome new sewing machine, I also got several FQ packs from connecting threads, + a 1/2 yard set. The 1/2 yard line is "Daisy Chain" The FQ sets are "Impressions of Kyoto,""Sweet and Sour," "Aqua Terra" and some random ones my sis picked out for me!!! They were sold out of the line I really wanted which was Merry Mushrooms by Windham, but I am absolutely thrilled that they all did this for me. Take it from me guys, if you and your family exchange regular gifts each year the Amazon Wishlist feature is the way to go!!! If Amazon doesn't have what you are wishing for, such as with me and my fabric, there is a favorite button you download and then when you go to the site that sells what you want i.e., connecting threads/sewing machine retailers etc., you then can add it to your wishlist on amazon so your family can view it. Everyone got what they wanted this year and none were dissapointed.
Here are a few photos of my fabric and stuff.

My MIL and FIL's Quilt is done!!! I got it all quilted and binded and wrapped up relaly pretty. I couldn't find a really good box to put it in, so at first they thought they were getting a water filteration system. HAHAHa Here's the finished Bloomin 9 Patch.

Guess what else is finally "almost" done?! DH's patchwork coat. There's a few things I still need to fix/finish. The collar I totally screwed up and so I need to put a band of fabric to cover up the raw edges that I couldn't figure out how to hide. I also need to put some type of closure on it - - probably buttons - - which James can help me pick out. I also might have accidentally left part of the paper backing from the interfacing in the collar. AHEM... Here's him showing off his patchwork coat. = D

Here's some of my favorite family pictures that I thought I would share:
Here's the Wiseman's by the tree - me and James(DH)
Here's the whole gang (my side of the family)

Here's my mom opening up her gift - a chainsaw !! LOL

My handsome husband in front of the tree after he opened my gift to him - the patchwork coat

My Dog (Louie the Weiner dog) got excited about all the presents and attention and I got some great shots of him this Christmas:

All in all this was a spectacular Christmas - the gifts were amazing- everyone was in such a jolly mood - no fighting - we are so truly blessed. In the midst of all our gifts and joy and Christmas cheer God blessed us with one extra gift/blessing/miracle - - A Christmas Day Rainbow. Here's the rainbow from Mom's front porch and also some pics of the backyard (behind the rainbow.) I always think the back side of the rainbow is super pretty too!

N E W Y E A R !!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Basting on Bloomin 9 patch DONE

I am attempting to use fusible batting this time around. I have had so much trouble with puckers and stuff when using regular batting and pins. I have never used a long-armer, I've always done my quilting myself. On these really big quilts there's nothing else I can really do but stuff and stuff some more.
This fusible batting seems to be working really well. Its late (1AM) so I am not going to do any quilting yet, I'll do that tomorrow. But from the looks of it, the quilt sandwich is absolutely perfect!!
I did put some pins in approximately 6" apart, but just being able to iron the batting down and seeing it all smooth is so worth it.
My camera has since died, but I will borrow one or something to take pics of the end result to share with the bloggy world.
I am really proud of this quilt. I am hoping my MIL and FIL will be happy with it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bloomin' 9 Patch TOP FINISHED

YAY me! I've been hurrying to finish this but fearful because I knew once it was finished I had to worry about stuffing it in my little sewing machine = ( I have to get it finished by Xmas so NO hand quilting. Should I tie this? Yeah right.

I'm still wishing I would have used a bigger floral pattern for the green fabric but can't dwell on the shoulda coulda wouldas especially in quilting.

I'm going to put this aside for awhile because I'm dying to use my two new fresh rotary blades to organize my scraps. I'm going to seperate them by color WITHIN my bags by squares/strips and size. And no this will NOT become a UFO because I have plans to have this quilted and gifted to my M and FIL by XMAS.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pattern GURU Needed!!!!

A lady has propositioned my husband. She comes into his work daily and has recently been complaining of not being able to find someone to make her a quilt with these fabrics. Her mother recently passed away and she has been looking for someone to make something to hang on her wall in memorial of their last vacation together in Bermuda.

These fabrics are out-of-this-world gorgeous. How could anyone cut into them?! She said that she gave them to a quilter who has held onto them for the last 4 years. She gave them to my husband who had told her earlier of his wife the quilter *me* = ).

I took them today from his work and she wants me to give her an idea of what I can do and give her an estimate. Well the time has come for someone to be brave and cut into these amazing tapestries. They are all printed on cotton. The ones with the off-white and tan backgrounds measure approximately 2 yards long by 47" wide. The one with the whitest background is the same X2 (the same print but there are two panels.) The smallest one has already been cut into. I am guessing she was trying to make it into a "shirt" but has only cut and pinned it. It still would need to be sewn. But the woman did not say she wanted any clothing made out of these prints. That's the first thing I thought of too!! These all would make beautiful dresses or skirts.


I've only had them for 1/2 a day or so, but I did come up with some rather simple ideas. Fussy-cut into them and just make some large blocks?? Maybe make a large rail fence sort of pattern? I dunno. If anyone has any brilliant ideas I would be more than grateful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bloomin' 9 Patch

Well, here I go again! this time for MIL and FIL. I chose fabrics for this quilt that all looked like they were from the 80s and 90s. Possibly older. Small bunches of florals on a solid dyed background.

This pattern comes from my all-time favorite quilt book: Tradition with a Twist by Blanche Young and Dalene Stone. Who doesn't love a good Trip/Boston Common/ or 9 patch!!! I love the ease of strip piecing and the versability of all the little sqaures.

I have made 2 other bloomin 9s but never got them quilted. One I gave away and the other I'm sending to a group of ladies who quilt for fire victims and cancer patients.
SO, needless to say, I am NO GOOD at quilting these big quilts. But where there's a will there's a way and I will have the blocks sewn together and it quilted by this week. Just in time for me to start Bonnie Hunter's new mystery "Carolina Christmas."

A few things I'd like to mention in my experience working with this pattern. Blanche uses large scale prints in most all of her quilts. They're gorgeous, but when working with small prints I have a few suggestions. The first couple I made I started with a light color in the center and went out to a darker further towards the sides. This is actually NOT the best way to go about this. I have found that if you use contrasting colors/shades it works best. You will see that in this quilt I chose a light teal, than a green (I actually wish I would have switched these) Than you will see the dark blue, than on to a light beigish color. Than a light/dark floral than to a medium purple. Than a dark blue and a lighter green. I wish I would have switched the light green and dark blue for more contrast.
Since I was going with my stash and I only had large yardage of certain colors I had to go with what I had..

So to sum up: With this pattern you do not need to use gradating colors or even go from light to dark. The blended 9 patches will bring the solid sqaures together, and the more contrast with color AND shade is BEST!

Here's my pics of the blocks on my design wall. 2nd picture is WITH the setting triangles.
Not sure if I should add a border or not, I would want to use the green, I'll have to see if I have enough.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Charity Quilts

I just found out that you can find in almost any/every state in the USA plus just about every country, there are groups of lovely ladies who quilt for Charity. I have a bunch of UFOs that I will never finish and like most people, feel terrible guilt when starting a new project. Well with ladies like these who love and give their time for fire victims, cancer patients and the poor and homeless, I have a good home to put my quilt tops and blocks and know they'll be taken care of. What's even more wonderful, is that my quilting is not that wonderful, so my tops can go to someone with excellent quilting, unlike my simple in-the-ditch quilting.

My UFOs consist of a bloomin 9 patch, a half-square triangle quilt, a mystery quilt called "do what's right" and a baby bargello that IMHO is too long. I also have 2 Trip around the worlds. One has wierd dark splatters on the solid border. My plan was to take some tea dye or regular procion mx dye in a neutral dark and splatter it around the borders so it would mix in. The splatter is not THAT noticeable, but it is noticeable nonetheless. I'm pretty sure its from the rain from my leaky roof. I have about 7 buckets that are permenantly in place that catch the leakage, but there are still mystery splatters hitherandthither. The on TATW was the only one outside of a plastic container.

My sewing machine broke 2x yesterday UGH!!! I sure hope santa brings me a sewing machine. (Not happening) Trying to get a job so I can save up to get one. I would love a sewing machine with a walking foot, the ability to drop the feed dogs. A built in walking foot would be the ultimate dream though. = D

If anyone would like any information on where to send quilts, I have several addresses. I can contact the ladies and see if they would like your tops/blocks. I'm sure they will. There will always be quiltless people, unfortunately.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joseph's Coat quilt-along --some blocks finished.

Well, its official, I am cheating. But I'll never tell!! Here are some of my blocks finished with some PHOTOS.

I only had about 2 yards of pure white fabric, which is what I chose to use for the background of these oriental/metallic-type fabrics. So I have to get some more! Kellie of Don't look now says her next tutorial will be about joining rows which I'm purely confused about. LOL. I went ahead and just cut out 12" blocks for the background fabrics. What I would like to know, if anyone has the answer, is how many full 12" blocks we're making. Why? Because I'd like to go ahead and get enough fuse stuff for the petals and go ahead and cut them and stuff. But!! I guess that is what a quilt-along is all about. Doing things ONE-STEP-AT-A-TIME. Patience Katie Patience.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Why oh why do I have so much trouble making a decision?!

Ask my husband, he's sick of me pulling out my whole stash and re and rearranging it. I thought of repros.. but none of mine really match so I'd have to go buy more to make it matchy. I refuse to buy fabric!! Refuse and can't afford that is. LOL
I then decided to go for wild and bright on whites. Welllll didn't really have many of those yet either. Than I decided. . OKAY. . I'll use my freshly hand-dyed fabric. Nooooo i can't cut into that!!! My hand dyes and tie dyes will have to sit on the shelf so I can look at them for at least a month before I feel I can use it. = D So last night at around 1AM I had it narrowed down to pastels and metallics.
After sleeping on the thought I decided that for this project I am going to have to use fabric that I love to keep me interested. If I make just ONE mistake there's a good chance I'll put it to the side and not finish it. I do NOT want that to happen! So I'm going with the oriental/metallics which dont' really match either but just a chance to use those in a project and get to work with them might just do the trick!!

This is nice because there's so many times I have avoided visiting my relatives because I would be seperated from my sewing machine. >: )
I can pack this up and bring it with me wherever I go. Yay.

Isn't my precious doggie SO SO adorable?!! He loves sleeping on the batting... awwww it warms his little bewwy up.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Joseph's Coat Quilt along @Don't Look Now

*****Click Title to link to Don't Look Now's Joseph's Coat Tutorial main page!!!*****

I'm just now getting my pictures posted from the quilt along, but here's how far I am: I drafted the design and cut out a template and I THINK I've picked out my fabric. She calls for at least 12 different ones I'm at 19 right now, trying to stick with reproductions.
I am trying to be as frugal as possible since I'm pretty much poor. = D I did not use paper as suggested but thick poster board to draft the templates. Posterboard was big enough to draft a few "blocks" on one board. I then just cut out a couple templates from the poster board.

This was interesting for me because honestly I cannot remember the last time I used a compass!! How neat to use those old grade school tools in quilting. This is going to be a BIG learning experience for me because I have never used templates in quilting, nor have I ever done applique, used fusabile anything OR quilted by hand. WOW, what a whammy to learn all these skills all at once!!! Thanks Kellie!!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

WV Step-Dad's Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Whenever it starts to get colder, I think of a few things: Fall colors, using a heating pad for dyes, holidays, and food. One of the meals that just isn't right to eat in the warmer months is Gumbo. This recipe started in Louisiana, given to my ex step-dad Rick, and ultimately past down to me. I have altered the recipe a little to better suit my lifestyle.

Back when I was growing up, on any given chilly weekend day, you could find my Mother and Step-Father cooking up a HUMONGOUS batch of Gumbo. It did require most of the day. They would start early around 8 or 9 AM and we'd finally get to eat early afternoon. It was well worth it though!!

Gumbo is such a versatile meal. You can use just about any meat and veggie you like! I'm pretty picky so I do not use fish or certain veggies like okra. I'm going to give you the basics, but as I go along I'll also include some of the variations my family has used. Also, in my household there is only my husband, me, and my dog Louie. I make half-batches of gumbo, whereas my mom and step-dad would make a full batch being double the recipe I'm about to give you. You will see about how much it makes by the pictures. For a family of 4 or more, you might want to make a full batch. Just double this recipe. It freezes well!


* 4 large chicken breasts (make extra if you want some nibble nuggets)
* 1 package sausage or kielbasa
* 2 cups of Flour
* Tony Chachere's Seasoning
* Vegetable Oil
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 large green peppers, chopped
* half package of celery, chopped
* 1/2 package of green onions, thinly sliced
* 1 Can rotel tomatoes (if doubling batch, still use just 1 can)
* 1 cup chicken broth or 1 chicken bouillon cube
* Water, about 8 cups
* Rice or Pasta

**** Hold Tony's seasoning away from your face when pouring or sprinkling. If accidentally inhaled it WILL burn your nose. ******
**** If you do not like spicy food, mix Tony Chachere's seasoning and flour together. Than mix with chicken. Omit Tony's everywhere except for 1 Tablespoon over cooking vegetables*****

(I use chicken breasts. I have seen and tasted other variations such as: chicken thighs, whole chicken taken off the bone, chicen tenderloins, and quail. I can assure you once they're in the gumbo it all tastes pretty much the same. : D)

Cut chicken in bite-sized pieces, remember after they're cooked they'll be bigger so I like around 1" pieces.
Take a gallon sized plastic bag and put about 1/4 C Tony Chachere's Seasoning in it. Toss chicken in Tony's until coated. In seperate bag, pour 2 cups of flour in and then add your chicken. Toss and shake until well coated. With tongs or your fingers, pull out the floured chicken and place on paper plate, put a little flour on the plate to prevent sticking.
Fill a frying pan with oil until it's about an inch thick. You can also use a deep fryer. Once hot (crackles with a flick of water) drop in your chicken pieces one at a time, in a single layer. Allow to cook until golden brown. For this size recipe, I cook the chicken in two batches. While cooking, prepare a paper plate with several layers of paper towels on it for the cooked chicken.
(TIP: When first batch of chicken is done, take half the chicken out, and scoot the cooked chicken to one side of pan. Drop a few pieces of raw chicken on the other side THEN remove the rest of the cooked chicken. This prevents the oil from burning and making your chicken taste yucky.) Chicken rolled in Tony's and flour and fried make wonderful nibbles. That's why it might be best to make extra, because between you and your household you may not have much left for the gumbo if you don't hide them. = D

(I use Beef smoked sausage but you can also use kielbasa, or any other good quality sausage.)
Cut your sausage into bite-sized pieces. Cook on med-high heat until good and dark. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon Tony's Seasoning. I like mine almost burnt, which gives me time to cut up most of my veggies while cooking. Stir often to brown on all sides. Cut up veggies while sausage is cooking - then place on paper towel-lined paper plate.


Get a BIG bowl for your veggies, also a small bowl for your Green onions. You can chop of your veggies while sausage is cooking, or do it ahead of time. Cut up the yellow onions, green peppers, celery, and any other veggies you would like to use and place them aside. Thinly slice your green onions. I put a few of them in with the other veggies, but the majority will go in last.
(Some other veggies I have seen used: Zucchini, Cabbage, red or yellow Peppers, Okra, and Hot peppers. )
Prepare a paper plate with layers of paper towel for your sausage. Take sausage out carefully leaving the grease and bits in the pan for your vegetables. Beef sausage does not produce much grease so I leave a few pieces of sausage in the pan to cook with the veggies for flavor.
Once sausage is removed, add your bowl of veggies and sprinkle with 2 Tablespoons Tony's seasoning. Cook until tender.

Roux is the KEY to gumbo. There are several ways to make roux ahead of time. Cooking the oil and flour before adding it to the vegetables. I have found that cooking it WITH the vegetables produces pretty much the same result. *My way - In a seperate bowl, mix 1/2 cup oil and 1/2 cup flour. When vegetables are tender add roux. Keep cooking vegetables and roux until mixture is slightly brown and vegetables are done (about 10 minutes.) This mixture will be very thick. Stir often to prevent sticking.

In very large pot on high heat put in 2 cups of water and 1 chicken bouillon cube or (1 cup of water and 1 cup of chicken broth.) When boiling, add in your veggie/roux mixture. Stir to mix. Add sausage and 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
Now, depending on the size of your vegetables and how much meat you have in your gumbo, you may or may not have to add water or heat. Is your gumbo too thick? One way to tell is to take a ladel, dip it in your gumbo as if you were going to serve. If there's more than 2 pieces of meat in the ladel, I add more water. This most recent time I added 2 more cups of water making a total of 8 cups water. It was perfect.
When your gumbo is at its desired consitancy take a taste test. Sip some of the liquid to judge its heat. I usually add another 1/4 C Tony Cachere's to the mix to make it EXTRA hot. If you do not like much heat, you may want to go easy on the Tony's throughout this recipe.
Continue to boil for another 15 -30 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta. Leftovers?? Once gumbo is left to cool, it will thicken. To re-heat add a tablespoon or 2 of water for each serving, and heat on stove-top. ENJOY!