Friday, June 29, 2018

Summertime has arrived

It's been a very long time since I added to my blog. I'm happy that summer is finally here, brining with it longer days filled with sunshine and hot weather. I spend some time recently doing a little yard work, planting some flowers and deep cleaning my house. I added a little solar powered accent lighting to the walkway and gutters and the flowers have really taken off.

I am enjoying a couple of months off from school crossing duties which enables me to sleep in a little later, stay up sewing a little longer and quilt to my heart's content. I have also added a very new and exciting line of work to my quilting repertoire, teaching "Learn to Long Arm" classes.

You know how they say, when one door closes, another one opens? This is exactly how this came to be recently. My beloved local quilt store, The Quilt Spot, in Midland Park, decided to close. Turns out that three LQS stores in a few weeks in New Jersey that have gone out of business. I won't speculate why here, but only say that it was heartbreaking to see this sweet little shop close.

However, there is a newer store in East Hanover, NJ that has been doing very well selling a wide variety of sewing machines, and I was invited to visit them to discuss teaching long arm classes to help them grow their long arm rental program. We scheduled 3 long arm sessions and within a week they were all filled. We added more sessions over the summer, on different days of the week and weekends. These are also filling up so quickly.

While some may think that teaching long arm quilting might be counter intuitive to being a successful arm quilter, I would say, it's thrilling to see so many quiltermakers wanting to try their hand at long arming and quilt their own quilts. I understand the desire to complete something on your own from start to finish. I also believe that my quilting business will not suffer because some customers may wish to quilt their own quilts. There is plenty of work out there for the talented long arm quilters in our area and I actually think this will continue even with an LQS offering rental time on their three long arm machines.

While I own two Gammill professional long arm machines, I am only able to quilt so many quilts each week and never seem to have enough time to get my backlog down. So I believe this new endeavor will help take the pressure off to quilt more hours each week, while also sharing my love of long arm and free motion uilting with other quilters. I don't think renting quilting time will be for everyone and that there will still be plenty of custom and quilting work out there.

In addition to teaching long arm classes, Sew Jersey is allowing me to offer coiled clothesline basket making, orange peel, hashtag and finishing quilt classes over the summer. There will also be a tuffet class offered in the fall.

So while I may be on summer vacation, I am staying plenty busy with teaching and quilting and visiting with friends and family. I hope to be able to sneak a beach day or two in this summer as well.

Hope to see you soon.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Recently I suffered a shoulder injury and my ability to sew and quilt or even wrap baskets was diminished while it healed. I am happy to report it’s much better this week and I have started slowly back to quilting.

During my down time, I started working on launching my website, something I had been meaning to do for at least 3 years but had never sat down and drawn up the content.

I’m please to announce that my website is up and running and I actually enjoyed the creative process to create it!

Godaddy made it very easy to make the website and get it published. Once I had the framework built, it was a matter of uploading pictures for the two galleries and the links to my other sites including Pinterest, Instagram and of course, Facebook.

While there is a lot more I can do with it, it is up and running and already getting traffic and feedback

I hope you will check it out and let me know what you think. I have to decide whether to keep my blog here or move it permanently to the new site. I haven’t been blogging much because I just don’t have a lot of spare time to sit and write.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

EXtreme Quilting launched on Etsy

Yep, I finally set up my Etsy shop and posted a few listings to see if I could sell some of my beloved quilts and handmade baskets. My house is overflowing with quilts and baskets and it's time to downsize, make some room and sell some of these things.

I'm happy to report that I made my first sale two weeks ago, a large, turquoise wavy basket. It was very exciting to actually have an inquiry, receive payment, pack ship and watch the basket travel to Montana.

My etsy shop is called Extreme Quilting and currently I have over 70 tems listed and will be positing more items for sale in the coming weeks. During the evening news, after I am done working on quilts, I have been wrapping clothesline to make bundles which will be used to create my coiled baskets. I find this wrapping very relaxing and portable. Yesterday I had to go to the DMV to renew my driver's license and registration. Sure I could have done it via mail, but I wanted a fresh picture because I really hated the old picture. Having lost a considerable amount of weight since Mike Passed away, I felt a fresh current picture was in order. So I killed two birds with one stone and I did the trip to the DMV with clothesline, fabric strips and glue sticks in a tote bag.

As it was mid week and mid month, the wait times weren't too bad. I was in and out in just over an hour. I'm sure the other patrons were wondering what the heck I was doing, but I'm used to the stRes and the occasional cell phone picture taking when I am sitting there wrapping my clothesline. then I headed off to meet with some friends nearby and spend a couple of hours catching up, wrapping clothesline, talking about life and quilting. It was a nice afternoon.

Stay cool. I'll be back with pictures of the baskets once I make the time to sit and sculpt them into finished product.
If you get the chance, be sure to check out my Etsy store and some of the items I have for sale.
Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Easy Skillet Tamales

Recently I purchased some frozen tamales from Trader Joe's. I really liked them for lunch, they are quick and easy to prepare for a quick meal. However, I thought I would like to try making tamales myself. So I set out to find how tamales are made and what ingredients might be needed. Normally, tamales are steamed inside a corn husk to cook them, but the husks are thrown out because they are inedible. Plus it's a lot of work to shape and wrap the tamales to prepare them.

So I opted to try a one pot tamale dish instead. Essentially everything is prepared in a big Covered skillet or Dutch oven.

Here are the ingredients you'll need to make this dish
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium sweet onion, skinned and chopped finely
1 package of taco seasoning
1 TSP ground cumin
1 small can of chopped green chilies, undrained
1 28 OZ large can of tomato sauce or puréed tomatoes
1 large can dark red kidney beans, undrained
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Sliced green onions (optional)

1-2 packages cornbread mix (plus eggs and milk as called for in the mix instructions). I used 2 boxes Jiffy brand cornbread mix plus two eggs and 2/3 cup of milk.)

Sauté the ground meat and onion on medium high until the meat is browned and no pink remains. Drain off all the fat from the meat. Return to the pan and add in the tomatoes, beans, taco seasoning, pepper, paprika, and chilies. Stir until well combined. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes on medium low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix the cornbread, eggs and milk and stir until large lumps disappear. Remove the lid from the meat mixture and add the cornbread to the top of the meat using a large spoon. Re-cover, adjust the heat to low and simmer for 18-20 minutes. Once the cornbread is done, add the grated Mexican cheese shreds. Re-cover and allow the cheese to melt (about 5 minutes more on low). Add sliced green onions if desired as you serve.

OMG! Look at that Cheese!

Makes 8-10 hearty servings.

#skillettamales #look@thatcheese! #tamales #cornbread #easyskilletdinner

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sweet n Spicy Chicken Meatballs

So last week I was searching around PINTEREST for some recipes for chicken curry dishes. I came across several which I pinned to my allrecipes board, the place where I keep recipes that look interesting and want to try. I made chicken curry using thighs and it was delicious and easy. However, one of the recipes I pinned was a chicken with curry and coconut using ground chicken.

I was at Trader Joe's and they had beautiful ground chicken. I bought a package so that I could try the other recipe I had pinned. Unfortunately, the links to ththe recipe were broken and I was able to see the actual recipe itself. So I searched and found another chicken meatball recipe. I did not have any Frank's hot sauce on hand as the recipes required, so I morph the recipe into sweet and spicy chicken meatballs use a mango pineapple salsa instead. the red pepper flakes gives it a little kick, you can adjust the heat according to your preference by adding more or less red pepper flakes. If you like really spicy food, feel free to add some hot sauce to turn up the heat.

Here is what you will need

For the meatballs:

1 lb ground chicken
1 cup panto breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black or white freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp crushed garlic (I used elephant garlic crushed through my garlic press.
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tsp onion powder or onion flakes ( I used the latter)
1 tsp smoked papkrika
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Place all these ingredients into a bowl and toss gently to blend well, but do not over handle.
Roll into either 20 quarter sized or 12 medium sized meatballs.

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 12-14 minutes in a pre heated 400 degree oven. Halfway through, gently turn the meatballs to ensure even baking and browning. They should be a golden brown when done.

While the meatballs are baking, put the following ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat and allow it to heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Once done, turn off heat and cover.

To make Sauce:
1 cup mango pineapple salsa
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp salt

I made a cup of brown rice medley which cooked in 2 1/2 cups of water and 1 TBSP of butter for 35 minutes. I served the meatballs covered with sauce over the rice sprinkled with parsley flakes for color and garnish, It was a tasty and very filling dinner.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Hot Pot

Today was a low energy, overcast day for me. My BFF told me she was making soup. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I set out to make something from ingredients I already had in house. I just didn't feel like heading to the grocery store.

Here is what I used to pull together this delicious warm soup. The chicken thighs along with the carrots, sweet potatoes and spices plus the quinoa make for a very hearty soup.

Place the following ingredients into the bottom of your crockpot.

6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large sweet onion, chopped into bite size pieces
2 large peeled sweet potatoes, chopped into 3/4" cubes
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup dry quinoa
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium sized can of diced tomatoes with liquid

Mix together the following and then pour into the pot.
1 package dry herb and garlic soup mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tap parsley flakes
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground cumin powder
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (1 box)
1 med can of diced tomatoes with liquid
2 TBSP Dijon mustard
2 TBSP honey

Cover and cook on high 4-4.5 hours. Serve hot in big bowls with a good crusty bread and some herbed butter. It will keep on warm or low for several more hours if needed.

#chickensweetpotatoquinoasoup #slowcookerrecipes #yummy #easysoup #lovemycrockpot

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Smoked sausage with Potatoes and Crispy Veggies

I like my veggies crispy. Peppers and Onions, coupled with garlic, herbs and spices sautéed until just barely cooked are wonderful. I find them more tasty and digestible than those that are overcooked, limp and mushy.

Tonight's dinner was simple. Turkey kielbasa, fingerling potatoes, two brightly colored sweet peppers, a big sweet onion and loads of fresh pressed garlic.

I heated the EVOO on medium high until it was rippling hot. I tossed in the washed and sliced fingerling baby potatoes and allowed them to crisp and brown ever so slightly before adding the garlic, onion and seasonings, including: thyme, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning. I allowed the onions and garlic to become fragrant before adding the chopped up red and orange sweet peppers. While these were dancing around in the pan, I added 1TBSP of coconut oil and let them simmering tossing them frequently to keep things cooking evenly. Between stirs, I cut the kielbasa in half and sliced it into bite sized pieces. After about 4-5 minutes While the veggies were still very crispy, I added the sliced meat and a good shake of parsley, pink salt and fennel seed.

I continued to cook all of this on high for maybe 5-6 more minutes, before removing from the heat and serving. The combination of the spices and herbs, fresh frangrant veggies, coconut oil and meat made for a delightful melange that was quite pleasing to my palate.

There will be plenty of leftovers for the next couple of days, but nothing beats it hot off the stovetop, steaming hot and fragrant so the dogs are circling around for a taste. Unfortunately, they can't have any tonight because of the onion, garlic and spices.

#smokedsausage&veggies #whatsfordinner #kielbasaskillet