Friday, September 2, 2011

Simple Cleaning Tip for Your Sewing Machine

Is your machine growling and sounding a bit more angrier as you continue to sew?

That tends to happen on my machine, especially if I'm working it a bit harder.  Every now and then,  I'll be working on sewing projects for an upcoming Craft Show, and can spend a few hours of non-stop sewing.

Here's what may be happening. Lint begins to build up underneath the Stitch Plate and Bobbin area, each time you sew.  A lot of lint does form when sewing with Fleece,  Terrycloth, Batting, and anything else that is "fuzzy".

My suggestion is to simply remove the Stitch Plate and open the Bobbin "door", and remove any lint balls that you see, by using a small brush or tweezers.  Do this often, and your machine will soon be humming a happier tune.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Buying a Sewing Machine

....2, 3, 4.....Yes, I have 4 sewing machines and 1 serger.  The more the better I say!

Buying a sewing machine, today is like buying a new car.  Some have the basic features to get you going and others have all the "bells and whistles", that do just about everything, but clean up your sewing room.

The article below, shares some great tips and suggestions: (Source:

Buying a Sewing Machine

Whether you're trading up as your sewing skills have progressed, or you're purchasing your first sewing machine ever, there are important things to check out before you buy.

Determine your sewing needs.
Do you sew only on medium-weight fabrics, or do you want to do upholstery and outdoor gear? Do you plan to do machine embroidery (see Guideline
2.240 Buying an Embroidery Machine)? Do you have a use for decorative stitches? Are you
a quilter, or primarily a garment or craft sewer? Do you want a new machine, or would a preowned
one suffice for your sewing needs? What's your budget for a new machine? These answers will help guide you in the right direction and a good dealer can help match you to the right machine. If you're a beginner, or anticipate doing a lot of sewing, ask about the trade-up policy; some dealers will give you
almost full value toward a new machine within a certain timeframe.

Ask sewing friends about their machines— likes and dislikes, recommendations, etc. If you're a newbie, perhaps take someone with you who is a more experienced sewer. It's important to get a machine you like and that will meet your needs, without being overly influenced by the salesperson.
Buying a machine from a recognized dealer offers many benefits in service accessibility,accessory purchases, classes and the availability of routine help, should you need it. Mass merchandisers, mail-order and online sales don't offer these benefits.

Test Run
Before you purchase any machine, sew on it—don't just watch someone else sew on it. Stitch
on the kinds of fabrics you'll be using—multiple layers of denim if you hem jeans, lightweight knits if you make T-shirts, metallics and satins if you're a special occasion sewer, etc. Sew with different stitches, make a buttonhole, use the blindhem and stitch some decorative stitches.Sew at different speeds, adjust tensions and get a "feel" for the machine. Is it comfortable? How's the noise level?
How does the machine operate? Some have a foot pedal, others a knee control. Can you raise the presser foot hands-free with a knee-lift, or by heeling back on the foot pedal?

Which Stitch(es)?As you look at a machine, you may see hundreds of available stitches, divided into two types—utility and decorative. Utility stitches include straight and zigzag basics, mending, stretch, blindhem and buttonholes. Decorative stitches may include scallops, smocking, cross stitches, ducks, hearts and other motifs. How many stitches will you use?

Needle Nuances
Many machines allow for adjusting needle positions from left to right. This helps create an accurate seamline and is helpful for topstitching and zipper insertion as well. Many also allow you to stop the needle consistently up or down if you choose.

Foot NotesCheck how many feet come with the machine. You'll need an all-purpose foot (often called a
zigzag foot), and one for blindhemming, buttonholes and zipper insertion. Other specialty feet may be included or available separately. How many feet are available?

Thread Tactics
Try sewing on the machine with some novelty threads and see how it performs. Metallic is usually the most challenging, but try rayon and topstitching threads as well if you anticipate a need for their use.
Does the machine have a bobbin winder that allows you to wind a bobbin as you sew? Does it stop when the bobbin is full? Is there an alert as you're running out of bobbin and/or top thread?
Check to see if the machine can work with larger threads in the bobbin so you can do
bobbinwork (see Guideline 17.225 Bobbinwork).
Some machines offer a thread trimming function at the end of seams; others offer a built-in needle threader. Both can be handy, but not a necessity.

Weighty Matters
How much does the machine weigh? If you plan to transport it to class or guild meetings regularly, this could be a concern. Does it have a protective carrying case? Do you have a place to leave the machine set up all the time, or will it need to come down after each sewing session?

Light Bright
If you sew on dark colors at night, or your sewing room lighting is iffy, you definitely want the machine to have good lighting. Some machines offer a single light near the presser foot, others offer a general light under the arm; some offer both.

Speed Settings
Some machines offer a variety of settings for speed. You can slow the machine for tedious tasks, or speed it up for long seams, etc. Check the machine still retains its full power at the slower speeds.

Tech Tactics
Some high-end machines connect to the Internet directly, or can be updated by downloading new stitches and features.

Class Acts
Are there new owner classes offered—if so, how many and are they free? Can you repeat the class if needed, or get individualized help? How about additional classes and/or clubs? Some dealers offer clubs for specific brands and models that meet regularly and focus on projects or techniques to help you get the most from the machine.

Special Functions
Depending on your sewing needs, you may want to check on some special functions like the following:

• Does the machine have a memory so you can program in favorite stitch combinations and settings? If so, how big is the memory?
• For decorative stitching, how can you adjust the stitches, or are they pre-set? Some machines allow for adjustments only in pre-set increments (like narrow, medium and wide), others allow for fine-tuning in millimeters manually.
• Can you adjust the presser foot pressure for thick or thin fabrics, or is this function automatic?
• Does the machine accept your input as to fabric weight and type and offer advice on needle size and stitch choice?
• Does the machine have a free-arm or a standard flat bed? A free-arm is a narrower protrusion allowing you stitch around sleeve hems, cuffs, pant legs, etc. without contortion.

Quilting QuestionsIf you're a quilter, check these features before you buy:
• Does the machine offer a ¼" foot for accurate piecing? How about an even-feed or dual-feed foot?
• Can the feed dogs be lowered easily for free-motion stitching?
• Does the machine have a stitch regulator so that all your free-motion stitches are of even size?
• Does the machine offer any special quilting stitches?
• Check under the curved arm—how large is the machine bed workspace to quilt large items?

Purchase Pointers• What type of warranty does the machine have?
• Is it serviced locally or sent somewhere for service? What's a typical turnaround time for service?
• What type of routine service and care does the machine need?
• Is there any trade-up policy should you decide later that a different machine is a better choice?
• If you require financing, are there plans available from the dealer? What are the terms compared to what you can find elsewhere?

In the End…
Compare multiple brands of machines in a similar model andprice range to determine which one you like best and which one offers the most features you need. Some dealers sell more than one brand; others only offer a single line so you may need to visit more than one dealer. A good dealer is an important piece of your sewing pleasure, so be sure you're comfortable with the people you'll be
working with after the purchase.

A sewing machine should last for many years, be easy to operate, and meet your sewing needs as they grow and develop, so choose wisely and like any major purchase, be a smart consumer.

Monday, August 8, 2011

FaceBook Fan Appreciation Contest

Thank you for joining my Page and Liking it too!  As promised, I will give away one of my Ruffled Aprons to one of my fans.  The winner was determined using  True Random Number Generator, and basicly, I've just inserted all of the 1722 "Fans/Likers", and "clicked" the button. ....and, yes, I did count my fans, one-by-one....

Drum Roll Please --  Fan # 1328 - Jessica Mutuku has won my Ruffled Holiday Apron!!

Congratulations, Jessica!  and Please contact me, so I can get this shipped out to you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Find Kids Clothes for FREE!

My favorite thing to do is finding "FREE Stuff".....I just love it the most.  I just came across this article that shares some fabulous tips on saving your $$$$ when it comes to buying clothes for your children.

Here are ten ideas for majorly overhauling your clothing budget. (Source:

1. Ask and Ye Shall Receive

My favorite approach to finding free clothes involves a simple question: "Got anything you want to pass along?" I love the warm, fuzzy feeling when people help each other out like this. Don't be shy: most parents prefer to give their stuff to someone they know. An added plus? Since you usually inherit an entire season of clothing, you save a ton of time in shopping and scrounging.
Moms' clubs and other kid-related groups are perfect for this kind of exchange -- so start joining ... and sharing!

2. Be Charitable

Church rummage sales are known for selling oceans of cheap clothing, as low as $1 per piece. Goods are donated for free, and profits benefit the organization. Keep in mind that stuff goes fast, so arrive early!

3. Swap it Out

Get rid of what you don't need and pick up what you do at a clothing swap party. How does it work? People bring any unwanted clothes, and the clothes are sorted by size or gender. At a set time, "shwopping" begins. Leftovers are donated to charity. For my step-by-step guide, see How to Organize a Clothing Swap.

4. Get Thrifty

Duds at places like Goodwill and Salvation Army can cost as little as 50 cents to a dollar, especially with special sales. For example, the thrift shop near me slashes 50% off everything on Wednesdays.
If the kids' department is scant, don't make a beeline for the door. I love scoring brand-name clothes for my husband and myself. To find a shop near you, try searching TheThriftShopper.

5. Bid for a Lot

You can get the best deals in online auctions like eBay if you buy a "lot" -- or a bunch -- of clothing. Instead of paying $10 for a single piece, you'll pay more like $2 a piece and get a whole season's worth of clothes. Another advantage for fashion hounds: eBay's offerings lean toward the famous-name variety.

6. Drive Slowly

Spring and summer are high season for treasure troves of cheap duds: yard sales. For leads on where to find sales near you, try Yard Sale Treasure Map, which searches Craigslist for you and maps out the sales in your area. Watch out for super deals, such as $2 for as much as you can stuff in a grocery bag.

7. Look on the Free Lists

Craigslist's free section often has boxes of clothing. (Search the "free" category under "For Sale.") The clothing and kids' sections also have tons of low-cost options, such as bags of clothes for $10.
Tip: If you are looking for something specific but don't want to check back every day, have Google email you when it comes up. Go to Google Alerts, type in what you are looking for followed by "site:" and your local Craigslist url. For example: "18 months boys site:"

8. Recycle Fashion

You're more likely to find name-brand -- even designer -- clothing at consignment shops, than at thrifts or rummage sales. Because both the donator and the store share profits, these shops can be more pricey. For less expensive options, look for stores run by a non-profit.

9. No Money Allowed

Of course we couldn't talk about free without mentioning the grande dame of gratis, Freecycle. Stay on top of what's being offered in your city, and you're sure to come across an offer of free threads.
Tip: If you want mountains of free clothes without mountains of emails, create a rule in your email program to send all Freecyle posts to two separate mailboxes. One for all offers with the words "clothes" or "clothing," and one for everything else.

10. Get it in the Mailbox

Rummage through virtual yard sales -- in your pajamas -- with clothing exchange websites. At thredUP, a kind of Netflix for second-hand kids' clothes, you exchange gently-used clothing in an organized system using Priority Mail boxes. Zwaggle works more like a co-op, where you earn points when you give clothes and spend points when you receive clothes.
Are there other options I haven't thought of? How do you like to find cheap kids' clothes? Tell us in the comments.
Top Articles on Budget Kids' ClothingWhy Second Hand is Healthier for Your Baby9 Essential Clothing Repair SkillsHow to Avoid Sweatshop Clothes and Still Save Money

Monday, June 27, 2011

Craft Show Tips and Suggestions

As an experienced shopper of many craft shows, I've decided to take my show on the road. So, this past weekend, my 'lil shop had it's own booth, for its First Time Craft show event.  With the help of my husband and 2 of our newest neighbors at the Craft Show, we pitched the Easy "Pop-Up" Tent (that actually took 4 of us to do).  My displays were set really nice, my items were tagged, and it was now time for me to sit down, relax and enjoy the event. Especially, after having only 8 days to prepare.

This event was outdoors and the temps were very, very warm (in the 90's) with humidity. I did manage to make it through, considering that I'm such the "fair-weathered" person.  It turned out to be a very small venue. The organizers of the event worked very hard in pulling this all together, however, it was not well attended by the general public.  Which meant that sales were very low for all crafters involved.  This did not discourage me, as I've learned quite a bit during the show.  It gave me a chance to network with other crafters and vendors as we collected information about other upcoming craft venues .

My mom was a great sport, as she stayed with me throughout the entire show.  We really had a great time and plan to do more of these craft shows.  In fact, the next one is in July....and I'm already working on it.  However, since I have a 'lil more time to gather up my "creations", I won't be doing the "sew-a-thon" again. 

Here's a nice article that I just stumbled upon, at the site, Virginia Crafts and Festivals.

Crafting as a business

 By Michelle Sholund

Do's and Don'ts

When you begin to treat your hobby as a craft AND a business you can learn to make what you do fun and profitable!

So, you were at a craft show, thought, "I can do that", and now you are ready to work on doing your first craft show. How do I find a craft show, what are my expenses, how do I charge - a million questions are probably going through your mind. Here's some advice as to what to do and what not to do when doing your first craft show.

DO - Craft shows close to where you live. Look in local papers, chamber of commerce places, or event websites. This will keep expenses low such as gas, time to and from the show, etc.

DO NOT - Go to the first show you see advertised. There are a number of shows out there such as street festivals, high schools, etc. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is not wise because you could miss out on others that may have more advertising which leads to more customers, cheaper space fees, etc.

DO - Know your price range for a show. With this I mean the space fee could be $20 to $500 or more. If you are starting out go small and work your way up. The higher you go when you first start out doing shows can be a big let down if you can't break even. Also, higher priced shows are more for the big league crafters that go from state to state - not all crafters, but most. It is best to get a following doing small shows and then try out for a bigger show.

DO NOT - Change the price of your products from show to show. It will make customers think you are dishonest and possibly think you don't make your own products. Find a happy medium and stick with it - remember you can do sales to help out at shows that are in lower income areas. If you do have a problem pushing your items then I would try lowering the price and see what happens. Another suggestion is to mention that "Due to availability of certain items prices are subject to change."

DO RESEARCH - Like what you are doing here is research in learning about what to expect doing craft show. But more so, go to various crafts shows and see it from the stand point of customers and crafters. How is the flow of traffic? Are crafters or customers complaining? What is the size of spaces at the show and what areas are getting seen more than others? Also if someone is selling similar products you are, check prices and introduce yourself. Some crafters may be iffy in giving you advice due to competition but others can be a wealth of knowledge.

DO NOT - Expect that once you have a space and your craft you need anything else. Your display is the second most important thing next to your craft and should try doing setting up your display before doing the craft show to know what to expect. Just having a table and your items on it is not a display. It is wise to get a table cloth that covers three sides of your table. And the table cloth can be plain or decorative/festive. Having just a table cloth alone will hide your boxes and containers under the table. Also, having height and dimension will get people to see you items - i.e. shelving for on the table or free standing, peg boards, clothing racks (if you sell scarves, clothing, etc.) If your items lay flat on the table upon first look people won't think you are selling anything - just look at your display from a customers point of view. And do not have empty space. If you do, it looks like you aren't well prepared or there isn't enough to keep one's attention. The more you fuss over your items as in restocking, it gives customers a sense of urgency in "ooh what else is she putting out, maybe it is different than what was out already," and that you are busy due to sales.

DO - Wear comfortable clothes and prepare for inclement weather. Some indoor shows are hard to predict whether it will be hot or cold inside (even outside for that matter). Dressing in layers helps. Also with rain (whether it is an outdoor show or indoor show) know the easiest route to your booth and how to shield your items and display from rain and wind. There are numerous times I have seen displays blown over time and time again due to wind and rain damage.

DO NOT - Assume that the promoter knows your needs. In your application make sure you have things noted like the need for electricity, or that you need an extra table, be in a visible area, or not be next to certain types of vendors. If you aren't specific in your application, promoters may not be able to help you.

DO - Give customers space. A lot of customers are there to browse and may or may not want to engage in conversation. However, saying hello to customers or a how are you today opens the window for conversation if the customer has questions.

DO NOT - Crowd your customers. Just think of the one store you get harassed in as soon as you walk through their doors. Allow customers to browse and suggestive sell. If someone likes a certain type of jewelry, say a necklace, show them a matching bracelet or piece "xyz" would compliment their eyes. Also, some customers zone in on one thing and will be oblivious to other items on your display, suggesting that if they like what they are holding, they will definitely like this one and point or pick up the item you think they would like in addition to what they have. Also, keeping some information (personal information) to oneself is good because remember you are there to sell and tying up some peoples time with conversation can discourage other possible sales.

DO - Have business cards! How else can a customer contact you if they want to buy more of your things or have an issue with one of your things? Doing a simple business card on the computer with a word processing software or a desktop publishing program is very cost effective than going to an outside business. And the paper can be pretty cheap depending on how nice you want your cards to be. Sometimes your kids or grandkids can help you with that too. Also having a notepad for people to sign up on a mailing list is really good too. If they are interested in more information this allows you to have the ball in your court with the information verses waiting by the phone hoping they will call you.

DO NOT - Walk around asking questions from other vendors about their sales. This is considered a no no in the show circuit. If vendors at the same show do well and you are not, they will probably not feel right telling you that they are doing well. If they are having a slow day it will only bring down their morale to have to share figures they are not proud of. Either way it is not a good idea and is heavily frowned upon by the show promoters and other vendors.

DO NOT - Have high expectations for your first show. You will get a lot of "How cute", "Isn't that nice", or even "I can do that" and they can just walk away. And you will get sales but comments will for the most part out weigh sales. Some do really well on their first show and others don't. The biggest reason for this is exposure - the more exposure you do the more people will find you and buy time after time. Remember if you break even that is good! Doing more that deserves a big pat on the back. Also the more knowledge going into a craft show the better you will do too.

DO - Have fun! The biggest thing with shows is generally they are a lot of work but a lot of fun too. You get a huge surge of self confidence and ego boost from customers - who doesn't like that?! Also, meeting other crafters is really good especially the advice may have too!

LASTLY - DO NOT - Get discouraged. It may take 2-3 craft shows to get the hang of them - but every craft show is a learning experience. Also, don't get carried away with shopping for yourself - remember you do want to make money and keep some around for reinvesting in your craft as well as walk away with some profit. I have been doing shows for a couple of years now and am finding my niche in what shows are best for me and my products, getting a following, etc. It will come, just stick with it, plan well, and think positive.

By Michelle Sholund

Saturday, June 4, 2011

WIN One of the Aprons!

Facebook Fan Page Giveaway

New Contest Here! WIN one of my Ruffled Aprons! After I reach 1700 Fans, I will have a short
 Q &A on my Blog, and the one who gets the most correct answer, WINS! (Fabric selection may vary on the apron and you will just pay the Shipping Fees) Open to everyone, Worldwide!
Please invite your friends!
Thank You and Good Luck!

Friday, May 27, 2011

5 Tips for Taking Your Sewing on the Road (Or In the Air)!

Nice article from

5 Tips for Taking Your Sewing on the Road (Or In the Air)!
by Tricia Waddell

All it takes is a little planning. I save up routine handsewing tasks like slip-stitching hems and sewing on buttons, which can easily be done while spending time with friends and family. And I prepare more involved hand-embellishment projects for long car and plane trips. For example, I completely hand embroidered and beaded a top during a 9-hour flight to Spain. It was ready to wear by the time I landed!

The February/March issue of Quilting Arts has a great article by Lyric Kinard titled Art 2 Go: Finding Time to Create that has some great tips for completing projects, even with a hectic schedule. Here are some of Lyric’s key ideas that will keep you sewing no matter where you are.

Working by hand

Even if you think you have no patience for handwork, give it a try. I’m not the most patient person in the world—I can’t even sit in the carpool line or through a concert without getting fidgety—but I do handwork because I’m an impatient person and always need a little something to keep me occupied.

To avoid being driven mad with boredom by repetition, try doing handwork that is entirely improvisational rather than carefully planned out in advance. Let yourself be enthralled by the beauty of the materials you use, and let them inspire the growth and direction of each piece. Regardless of whether you are a meticulous planner or a free-spirited improviser, you can grow to love working with your hands.

Preparing small projects

Preparation is the key to making art on the go. Having a project that you can quickly grab on your way out the door will greatly increase your productivity. I recommend having a wide variety of take-along projects available at any one time, each suited to a particular method or working space.

Portable projects can be stashed in even the most compact of purses and are ready to work on at a moment’s notice. The secret is to have a coordinated set of lovely materials to work with. It takes just a short amount of time to pull together a tin full of beautiful embroidery threads, delightful beads, and embellishments that go along with your favorite bits of cloth. Put the mixture in a small travel tin, along with a pack of needles and a little spool of beading thread. I also leave enough room for my folding travel scissors, a thimble, and a needle threader.

Fabric flowers are easy to sew on the go
Pack a small sewing kit for road trips or plane rides.

Ongoing projects

Another great way to make art on the go is to create a larger project that is composed of smaller pieces of handwork. I’ve had a piece in mind for years now that includes a plethora of little folded fabric flowers, so I’m always making these on the go. A few scraps of fabric and a needle and thread are all that are needed to keep me busy through hockey practice or violin lessons.

Tips for working in the air or on the road

• Take a needle threader that has a thread cutter attached if you are worried about flying with scissors. (But don’t rule out carrying a small pair of scissors; my fold-up pair has never been questioned at an airport.)

• Use shorter lengths of thread and learn to pull your needle with the point facing you. Your seatmate will appreciate it.

• Thread a bunch of needles ahead of time if you have trouble threading in a bouncy car or plane.

• Close the tin after picking up beads on your needle when you are in a moving vehicle. (Seed beads could fly everywhere on a bumpy road or when a plane hits turbulence!)

• Wrap a bit of Scotch Tape, sticky side out, around your finger and dip it in your beads so you won’t have to open and close the tin as often.

These are great tips that are sure to keep you sewing all year-long.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Understanding the Tax Codes is Similar to Learning a New Crochet Stitch

Whew! The Tax Season is now over and my taxes are filed and on its way.

I've got to admit that it was a trying and challenging year for me, when it came to preparing my tax forms. Thankfully, the software that I'd purchased, helped me out tremendously. God Bless the companies that created them.

Have you taken a peek at the Internal Revenue Codes (IRC), lately?
Why are there so many codes? ....and, Why do they keep adding more, each year?  ...Is what I'd like to know

Here's a sampling of the "helpful" abbreviations that was offered on that site. Now remember, this is suppose to help us, while reading the actual IRC.

Contains special information as follows:

◦"nt" means note.
◦"nt [tbl]" means note [table].
◦"prec" means preceding.
◦"fr" means a transfer from another section.
◦"to" means a transfer to another section.
◦"new" means a new section or new note.
◦"gen amd" means the section or note is generally amended.
◦"omitted" means the section is omitted.
◦"repealed" means the section or note is repealed.
◦"nt ed chg" and "ed chg" -- See the Editorial Classification Change Table.
◦No entry or "nt" by itself means the section or note is amended.

It's just unbelievably amazing, to think about the time and money spent on writing and publishing these codes.  Is this how are tax dollars are really working for us? I tell ya, I could have finished crocheting a sweater in the time, that it took me to try and understand the tax codes.

Crochet Abbreviations

Anyway, I'd much rather try to figure out how to decipher crochet, knit or sewing patterns.  My time spent on figuring out the pattern abbreviations, will be well worth my efforts.

At least, I'll be able to create something that I can keep for myself.

Monday, April 11, 2011

As Seen on TV - See what I couldn't live without

There's probably a dozen items inside my home, that I've purchased from those wonderful "Infomercials" on TV.  They do an excellent job enticing their viewers, but really,  how many of those counter top "cookers", do I really need?

Here's some of the "treasures" that we've purchased over the years, while watching TV:

  • Remember the Original Ginsu Knife: We still a few of these.

Watch the Original Infomercial by clicking here

  • Our first Purchase:  The Ronco Popeil Food Dehydrator , somehow we felt, that we needed one of these:

  • The Pasta Pot Strainer- My husband bought 3 of these Pasta Strainers., 2 were for Christmas gifts, however, they were on backorder and they arrived 2 months after Christmas.
The wonderful, Pedi Paws.  Again, my husband, who really doesn't like to shop, thought that this would be just perfect to trim the nails of our Kitty Cats.  Our kitties were not very pleased with the new gadget.

And yes, the Electric Pasta Maker, is another gadget that I'd bought.  I did like this one!

The Pet Zoom Brush gets "2 Claws Up" from my kitty cats.  We really like this one:

And let us not forget about the "Clapper".  I did buy one of these for my parents, but somehow, I feel I could use one today.

These infomercials are actually entertaining. Each time we see one, we shout out the price, before it's even mentioned.....and you can almost bet that it'll be $19.95.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Brunswick Stew Without the Squirrels

Yes, I'm correct to say that this version seems to be much tastier, minus the Squirrels.   My all time favorite "Farm Journal's Country Cookbook", has a fun article regarding, "One-Dish Meals for a Crowd".  They write, " You are certain to be in the South when you find this tempting and famous stew, but there's no reason why it can't be made in other areas.  If squirrels are scarce or your hunters have no time to go after them, chicken makes a good substitute....."

My husband remembers how his Mom would prepare squirrels.  It was a regular part of his meal and he said they were very lean and tasty.  I think I would prefer Chicken in my stew.

Enjoy! I love this stuff.

BBQ Joint Stew1 bottle bbq sauce

2 cans whole kernel corn, drained

1-2 cups baby lima beans (or whatever beans you want to use)

1 whole fryer

3-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped (use more potatoes if you need stew to go further)

1 onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste (I start with a teaspoon of each but always end up adding twice that!)

Place fryer in stock pot and cover with water. Add chopped onion. Cook over medium heat for about an hour, or until fully done and fall apart tender. Remove chicken from stock and set aside to cool. Add all other ingredients to stock and stir well. Debone and shred chicken and add back to pot. Add in Salt and Pepper. Bring to a low boil and reduce heat to simmer, stirring often, for about half an hour or until vegetables are fully cooked. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed (I like a LOT of pepper in mine).

*This is excellent with a bit of hot sauce.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Easter and Eggs

As we enter the beautiful Easter Season, I truly enjoy seeing the lovely colors that it brings.  Although, where I live in Southern Virginia, we are still waiting for Spring to roll through.  It's been cold and damp, and it's a bit confusing for the poor 'lil flowers.  They don't know whether to pop out or continue to hibernate for a while. Somehow through the dampness, a few Tulip flowers have managed to surface.

Amazingly, this time of the year, is also the time to focus on eggs. Hmmm. I never did understand the connection of eggs and Easter, however, I do enjoy seeing how creative some folks can be, when decorating eggs.  You many already know that I have a passion to work with anything stitching related.  I also enjoy sharing works of others.   

I've just discovered these "Crocheted Green Eggs and Ham" at created by

By John Farrier in Art & Design, Crafts on Mar 2, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Craftster user The Izz writes:

I will crochet them in a box.

I will crochet them with a fox.

I will crochet them in a house.

I will crochet them with a mouse.

I will crochet them here or there.

I do like them anywhere.

I will crochet green eggs and ham.

For I do love that Seussy Man

Knit these Chicks
Kat at Kat Knits has a knit pattern to make your own little Peeps! Make a few and get your duckies in a row

Click here for the Pattern

So what do you do with all those eggs?  Well, my all time favorite are my fabulous deviled eggs!  Yes, I am proud to claim that my recipe is the best, as it was well received by some serious picky eaters, that I know. My recipe is included with my "Culinary Crochet" version.  Another nice thing, is that these Crocheted Deviled Eggs will surely last you a lifetime.

Order up!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I can do Yoga

At my age, having a regular exercise routine is important, but getting myself to be consistent about doing it, is also a challenge.  Jogging, Zumba, Turbo Hip-Hop, and all those classes that involve body parts bouncing up and down, is not for me.

A few years ago, our daughter had suggested that I try doing some Yoga exercises and perhaps join a class.  I was very reluctant to join these classes, since my body was not really the "bendable" type.  The thought of me, twisting my body around in a shape of a pretzel, sounded like an immediate trip to the emergency room.  I did join a Yoga class.  On my first day,  the instructor told us to lie down, flat on our back, close our eyes and focus on our breathing.....I immediately knew, that I was going to love this class.

It's been a few years now, that I've been practicing Yoga.  I do admit that I was away from it for a while and I've just recently joined a group, at the "Y". But, just like riding a bicycle, I got back into the routine with not too much of a problem.  Fortunately, the "Y" is located near the hospital, which makes it a faster trip to the ER, just in case I get "stuck" doing a "pretzel pose". 

If you haven't tried Yoga, you may want to consider it.  It really is an excellent and low-impact exercise program that stretches all your muscles, even those muscles that you never knew you had! It also helps you to relax your mind. I do admit, that sometimes it can be a bit tough trying to meditate and not to think about what I'll be having for lunch, after the session. Once you start the exercise, you'll soon learn why "downward facing dog" and the "child's pose", will become your favorite part of the routine.  The nice thing that I've also learned,  is that Yoga works for me.  I really can do it.    Namaste.......

This is not me, but I did this pose today! Yaaaay!

This is definitely not me, but I'm still working on the pose

Monday, March 21, 2011

Born to Be Wild

I don't really know who really started the Biker movement in the USA, and what I mean by that,  is when did the Harley Motorcycle love addition begin in the US?  I do love seeing the beautiful motorcycles that Harley Davidson produces.  It seems like there's always a "Harley Davidson" motorcycle that "fits" just about anyone.

1907 Model

A few years back, my husband and I had travelled across our country, via the train.  We had stopped mid-way, and rented a car for about a week. It was such a beautiful trip, as we had seen the most beautiful countryside in the states of North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. We did drive to Sturgis, South Dakota.  Truly, the Biker capital of the world.  Although, we were not there during the annual gathering, it was really nice to see why bikers from all over the world, meet there each year.  It's such a simple town, with no frills and no big city feel to it.  It seems like the perfect spot to drive all across the country to meet others who share the same passion. In the small town of Sturgis, there was this really fun souvenir shop, that sold just about everything you would want, if you were a biker aficionado. We picked up a few souvenirs for our Priest, who also rides a Harley.

If you're a Biker fan or just love wearing the fashions, here's something fun to start off the young ones on your list. These biker booties have become a popular sell and are exclusive to my shop.

It's Sew You!
Biker Booties
Available Year Round

Although I don't ride motorcycles, I appreciate those who do. I truly believe, that you should continue to do what you enjoy doing the most.....Nancy

Friday, March 18, 2011

Knitting is not just for Old Ladies

Each week, quite a few ladies in my parish, meet to knit or crochet items for the local charities. This group has been in existence for over 25 years, and our "leader" is 93 years old and still drives! I've been with that group for about 6 years, now. I do confess that I've always thought of these knitting groups, as something reserved just for the seniors.  In our group, I'm probably the youngest member, but hey, who's counting, right?

A couple of years ago, a young girl (age 11) was visiting our parish. She is homeschooled and lives in Canada.  Her mom had asked us if we wouldn't mind, if her daughter, Juliana, could join us for the day, while we knit.  Juliana has been knitting, since she was 9 years old.  She was such a joy to be with and is so mature for her age. Before she left, we gave her lots of yarn and knitting needles, as she wanted to make some baby items.

Each year, our "Knitting Ministry" conducts their annual "Show and Tell" at the church.   Most of the yarn had been donated by the parishoners and we enjoy sharing the items that we've made. All finished items are not sold  as they are donated to local charities, after the show.  Last year, 2010, we were pleasantly surprised to see Juliana, visit us again.  She was in town, and joined us for a day of knitting.  She brought the items that she had made.  These are the baby items that she had made for charity (as you can see in the photo):

Hand Knitted by Juliana, She is 13 years old

Here's another glimpse of what the ladies had made, within 4 months:

If you are new to knitting, crocheting or sewing, you may consider joining a local group, within your community, or start your own.  It's a great way to enhance your skills and it's so rewarding to create something for a person who really needs it,  right now.  As I always say, continue to do what you enjoying doing the most -- Nancy

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sew Simple

Over the years, I've collected a few sewing machines.  My very first sewing machine was a Kenmore. My dad took me to Sears and I was so happy to select the one that I could afford.  It was a nice machine, made of solid steel, and it had a "free arm".  Which makes it so much easier to sew sleeves and small projects.  That machine lasted a long time and I'd kept it stored away, throughout all our moves. I eventually gave it to my Aunt, who needed a new machine.

Here's another one of my favorite machines:  The Singer Featherweight.  And, yes, the one in the photo is mine.  It looks like a toy, it's very lightweight and sturdy.  It only sews a straight line, forward or in reverse.  No zig-zag action on this machine.  It's as basic as it gets.

I bought this one about 6 years ago, online.  A lot of quilters use this machine, because it's easy for them to take to their classes.  I am not a quilter, but I did make a quilt top, using this machine. I ended up quiliting it by hand, since doing it on the machine was not working for me.  The finished quilt is more of a lap quilt or wall hanging.  I made it for our daughter. Here's the finished quilt:

Of course, I had to add to my collection, and couldn't resist this great find.  I found this "Viking" Sewing Machine (circa 1970's) at a thrift shop.  Paid only $15.00, and it included the side table and the original case.  The sewing manual was missing, but I did find oneonline.  The machine works beautifully!  It's got more steel in it, than the average car, today. As you can see, it's just another simple machine.  I use this one as my backup.

Today, I use my all time favorite "Bernina".  I've always wanted a Bernina and finally got one, about 6 years ago. It's just a simple machine, with no "bells and whistles". Although my new machine is basic, it does offer a few nice gadgets, like an automatic threader. It came with a few attachments, but I'd soon learned, that purchasing additional "gadgets" are very expensive for this machine. The "walking foot" alone is $169.00! 

If you're new to sewing, my suggestion is to first decide what type of sewing that you'll be doing.  If you'll be quilting, purchase a basic machine that INCLUDES the Walking Foot.  For sewing clothes that you would like to monogram, select a machine that offers the different styles of monogramming.  If you'd like a machine to do mending or repairs, a simple machine will work just fine.  Keep away from the hand-held sewing machines. It limits you from using both hands and the stitching quality is not the best.

Buying a sewing machine is like buying a car. There are so many different styles and models and they require regular maintenance. Take time to understand and learn your machine, just like you would your new car.  Eventually, you will enjoy it and everything will be "sew" simple, after that........


Monday, March 14, 2011

Lacy Capelet in the Making

Every now and then, I like to venture off and create  something as I'm making it.    My motto is, "It's never a true project, unless it's ripped out once." And, yes...I do rip it out more often than that.  In this case, I've wanted to crochet a lacy capelet/wrap.  

I've started here, using a smooth textured yarn in sage green....

My completed capelet/wrap was done in Black (surprise, surprise - since it's one of my favorite colors)....and yes, I had ripped it out at least twice......:)

Anything lacy, is truly my favorite project.  I've made a few lacy wraps over the years and wear them year round.  It's such a convenient accessory to carry around with you, as you can toss it inside your tote bag, or drape it over your purse.  It works well in the warmer climates, as well.  Take it with you when you go shopping or to a movie theatre.  It will definitely chase away your "chills" as you enter the air-conditioned building.

I continue to have fun doing what I enjoy.  Isn't that the way it's suppose to be? -- Nancy

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pattern Addiction

I've gotta admit, that I love collecting patterns of all kinds.  Lately, I've been adding to my collection with these very fun pattern books.  Anything, needlework related, I probably have it. My little stash just keeps on growing.

I'm always on a search for a style that looks fun to wear. My favorite book store in town offers a large selection, including a wonderful selection of sewing/knitting and crochet magazines. And yes, I have a collection of those, as well. I saw this book,  "Knit your own Dog".  It's just too, too cute!  The chapters are named after the class, such as: The Working Dogs, The Sporting Dogs, etc. This is a must have for dog lovers or for those who would love to own one. I did resist the temptation to buy it.  Well just for now.

I've even ventured off to creating my own patterns. This may not cure my "addiction", it may just be the beginning of a new one. Oh Well!  I continue to have fun, doing what I enjoy most ! -- Nancy

It's Sew You!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Not your Momma's apron

Today, aprons are now getting the attention that they deserve.  Traditionally, it was meant to be worn in the kitchen, while preparing the family meals.  Today, it serves the same purpose, however, you don't really need to know how to cook, to wear one.  

Remember this style? This is one of my sewing patterns that I picked up at an Antique Shop. It still contains the actual pattern pieces, too!  I may have to give it a try.

Here's one that I make, and you won't need to sacrifice style the next time you're in the kitchen. This lovely apron will add just that touch of elegance to any outfit. This new style, is one that I make from a pattern. and offer it in my shop.

The apron styles have changed over the years, but I'm glad to see them back. This poem, was given to me a few years ago.  I don't know who the author is, but it's beautifully stated.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Recycle Daddy's Dress Shirt for your Little Ones

Recycle or Repurpose? Whatever word that you use, a new creation has been made, before it reaches its finally destination at the landfill. The nice thing about it, is that the materials are free or almost free, especially if purchased at a thrift shop or flea market.  You may also consider it as an heirloom piece that has been handed down to the next generations.  For example, Grampa's shirt has been repurposed and will be cherished for a long time by his grandchildren.

I've found this great idea online, at Craft It uses a Men's Dress shirt that has been repurposed as a little girl's dress. It's really cute, too!  I'm eager to try this one, as I'm always up for a challenge.

I've also repurposed a dress shirt and necktie, to use as a Bib.  (a Baby's Bib, that is...:) .  The bibs are reversible and backed with a soft terry cloth fabric. These fun bibs are always available at my shop:  It's Sew You!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Reversible Baby Wear

A new collection of reversible baby wear will soon be added to my shop.  You'll get 2 looks with the same style.  The hat is also reversible! In today's economy, thought this would be a great way to maximize a baby's wardrobe, without breaking the bank.

The fabrics that I select, are all 100% cotton and will feel comfortable against the babies delicate skin.  Each set has been prewashed, prior to sewing.  This will ensure limited shrinkage during each wash.  This will eventually become a 3-piece set, as I'll be adding one more piece to the style listed below. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Giveaway - The Pine Cone Tea Cup

The Giveaway runs NOW
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Pine Cone Tea Cup

"Heart of Buttons Valentine Pillow"
This is my favorite! - See other lovely items at The Pine Cone Tea Cup

Win this Lovely Pillow
From the Shoppes of
The Pine Cone Tea Cup

Read more about this at "Tolduso Blog"
A portion of all her sales are donated to Relay for Life
and Heather (Owner, of "The Pine Cone Tea Cup") is also taking donations to raise money for her team..

The Winner will be announced on February 24, 2011