Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

The years are going by so quickly. It seems like just yesterday I was sitting here writing my goals (not resolutions) for 2013. That year has come and gone and although I still have a lot of work on my personal goals, I accomplished my business goals, even beyond my wildest expectations!

Some of the highlights for last year were my trip to Delaware when I attended my daughters graduation from grad school. We crammed so many adventures into those five days, including a trip to Atlantic City were I actually won $7 on a slot machine! Later that summer my daughter and her husband stopped by here for a few days (with the kitties) on their way to their new home in Austin, Texas. My beautiful niece got married this year also. And look at the center of the grouping where you will see that sweet little baby, that is my first grandchild, Paige. She was born in October of this year. And last but not least, this is the year where my business has grown to the point where I was able to quit my job and focus full time on my new career as a business woman, designer, and author!

As you can see, it's been an awesome year, and it's going to be difficult to top. For now I will focus on the goals I have set for 2014, and work hard at achieving them. What are the goals that will affect you? Besides creating more patterns and graphics for my shops, you can look forward to lots more free graphic items as well as more blog tutorials. Some are actually in the final stages of completion right now!

One of my patterns will be out in a book by F+W Media soon. The book is packed with lots of fun scrap projects. They will be giving me several complimentary copies so it looks like I'll be hosting a giveaway when it arrives.

Bring on 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Freebie - Printable January Calendar Page!

Not only has another month gone by, but another YEAR has gone by! Here is your first calendar page for 2014. For those who aren't familiar with them, they print out 4x6 inches and you can print them yourself, or you can upload them to your favorite photo processing center. You can pick yours up on the freebie page of my website HERE.

Don't forget to sign up for my VIP Club! I have lots of fun freebies and tutorials planned for 2014 and you don't want to miss any of them. Just look for the VIP image in the upper portion of my sidebar. 

Images on the calendar are from the "I Need Chocolate" collection with is available at my Etsy Shop.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Bells and Whistles

As I was putting my wine glasses into the oven for my Painted Snowman Wine Glass Tutorial, I noticed a button on my oven that said BAKE TIME. I've never used it but I thought I'd see if it would shut my oven off after my 30 minutes of baking. And guess what? It did! As I was looking at the other buttons I noticed the usual CLEAN (the oven cleans itself), but I noticed another one that said SLOW COOK. Wow! I actually can't wait to try that one, and does this mean that I didn't have to go out and buy the crockpot a few weeks ago when mine broke?

This got me thinking about all the other things I have in my house that I can do so much more with if only I'd read the manuals or start experimenting. Quite recently Brian asked me if I knew my entire graphics program (Corel Draw) and I said, "Heck No! I'm learning more and more things as I go along." And to think that I've been using that program for over 12 years! Perhaps I should get out that one inch thick book that came with my most recent upgrade. And how about all those programs that came pre-installed on your computer? Maybe it's time to start exploring!

I recently got a camera which I love, love, love! It takes the best pictures of any digital camera I've ever had. It even has all the lens settings and adjustments which I know NOTHING about! I think it's time to learn and see what this thing can do!

I just recently started experimenting with all the stitches on my sewing machines and have found some new favorites. I've even started learning free motion quilting. I think next it's time to play with all those feet that I have never tried. This could take my creating to a whole new level.

The same can be said for cookbooks, especially those unusual ones. I just recently came across a cookbook that Brian and I bought during a visit to Bass Pro Shops. It's a cookbook on cast iron skillet cooking. It's full of unusual and unexpected recipes that I've never thought of. Now that I have more time since leaving my "day" job, I'll have more time to create some new meals, perhaps some cast iron skillet meals!

So if you got a new sewing machine, tablet, computer program, camera, or awesome and unusual cooking device, get out that manual and see what you can really do with it. Better yet, experiment with the stuff you already have, and it might just be like you did get something new!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The blog will be silent for a few days while I along with many others will be busy with holidays. My daughter will be arriving today and she will only be here for two days so I plan to spend every waking and breathing moment I can with her. It will also be the first Christmas with my first grandchild. What an exciting Christmas this will be!

I wish all my readers and friends out there a Merry Christmas and I'll see you in a few days!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

FREE Snowman Soup Bag Topper!


If you need a quick and inexpensive gift for the neighbor kids or nieces and nephews, my Snowman Soup printable bag topper is available for free download on the freebie page of my website. It's available as a PDF file and a JPEG file so you can use whatever you like best. It's designed to attach to a lunch sized ziplock bag. Just drop in a package of cocoa, a few mini marshmallows, along with a mini candy cane or Hershey's kiss, staple the topper to the top, and you have a cute gift the kids will love. I'm a big kid and I'd love one too!

You can find this freebie HERE. Just click the link at the top that will take you to my freebie page. You might even find a few other things you like while you're there too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Quilt Block of the Month

One of the advantages of working full time in my home studio now is that I can come up with some new and different ideas. One them is to have a quilt block a month series. I just listed the first one a couple hours ago and it already looks like it's going to be popular.

Basically, it's a 12" quilt block, along with the instructions to put it into a mini quilt. I also give instructions for hand applique and machine applique. And if you don't want to buy one every month, or you don't even want the month on the quilt, I include a couple extra pattern pieces that will take the place of the name of the month. Since "Happy Snowman" has been my number one selling mug rug pattern this winter, I thought my snowman would be just as happy on a mini quilt.

I have so many ideas, it's just a matter of having the time to do them all!

Don't forget to sign up for our VIP Club so you can be informed of all our freebies, specials, and tutorials. You'll find the sign-up box in the sidebar.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Homemade Pizza Crust

Nothing makes a pizza like a homemade pizza crust! I've been making them for years but tonight was the first time I made one for a long time and I had to ask myself why I waited so long? The nice thing about making your own, besides the awesome taste, is that everyone can have their pizza any way they want it. I'm sharing with you the recipe I have used for years. I'm not one for kneading the dough, but if you have a Kitchen Aid or other heavy-dudy stand mixer, let it do the work for you. This recipe will make two large pizzas, or 6 to 8 individual pizzas. If you like a super thick crust, it will make one very large thick crust pizza.

Also, I like to make the full recipe, then divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces (after the rising process) and freeze. Just let them come to room temperature on their own before using. Works great!


2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.

Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Knead about 5 to 10 minutes.

If using a stand mixer like I do, I gradually add all the flour. Sometimes I add a little more if the dough is too sticky. I let the mixer knead it for (with a dough hook) about 5 minutes.

Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form two balls. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.

Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

NOTE: The pizza shown in the picture is my low-fat favorite. I use reduced fat ranch dressing for the sauce. I then top it with broccoli (slightly cooked), tomato pieces, and reduced fat mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sher's Sewing Essentials

I've compiled a list of things I wouldn't want to be without in my sewing studio. Most of these you might be familiar with, but you might even find something new too. Obviously there are the basics such as pins, needles, scissors, marking pens, etc., but these, I wouldn't want to be without!

1.  Tube turners. I actually bought this set when Elyse was a baby so they might look different today. When it comes to turning tubes right side out, it's a breeze! Even tubes as thin as spaghetti straps.

2.  Exacto knife. I don't use this on fabric but I find it very handy for making general templates from card stock. I'll use these templates when I'm centering appliques on things such as mug rugs, baby bibs, quilt blocks etc. My appliques are perfectly centered and stay within their allowed space. Easy peasy!

3.  Sewing gauge. You could probably pick one of these little babies up for around a buck with a half price JoAnn's coupon. So inexpensive, yet so valuable! I use this for turning under all my hems and edges. The little slide allows you to get an accurate measurement.

4.  Loop turner. This is another inexpensive item that is so handy. This has rescued me numerous times. How many times has the drawstring in a pair of pants slip inside? This will pull that right out!

5.  Chopsticks. Yes, these are from a Chinese restaurant we got take out from when I was visiting my daughter in Delaware. I always eat my food with a fork, so these found their way to my sewing studio. They are great for pushing out corners.

6.  Seam ripper. No explanation is necessary here. As much as I hate to use it, I'm so glad I have it. We've all been rescued by one of these little lifesavers.

7.  Chalk wheel. I love this thing! I have several of them and use them all the time. I have one that I keep the dark chalk color in, and this one with the white. I like this way better than a marking pencil.

8.  Walking foot. If you like to do machine quilting, or even for attaching your binding, this is indispensable! It has little feet that move with your feed dogs so that your top layer feeds even with your bottom layer. Almost no shifting of fabric!

9.  Giant safety pin. Can you believe that I've had this very same safety pin for over 30 years? When I'm threading ribbon or cording through a casing, this is what I always use. It works the best.

10 . Wonder clips by Clover. I just recently discovered these little gems. They are a replacement for pins in many of my projects, but excellent for holding bindings in place before stitching. No more pricked finger tips that can bleed on my fabric!

11. Tablet/reader. This is so handy for so many things. I have apps downloaded that keep me organized as well as reading my sewing mags, patterns, and books. I also like to download inspirational photos and color palettes to it. It's also great for watching all those Craftsy classes while I'm on the elliptical. When I'm following someone's PDF pattern (yes, I buy patterns from other designers too), I like to print the pattern pieces and use this to read the instructions. I never realized how much I depend on this until mine broke a couple days ago and I found myself at the electronics's department purchasing another one!

12. Last, but not least, my plastic rulers, cutting mats, and rotary cutters. I use these more than I use scissors!

I'm going to leave you with a reminder. If you have pets that like to hang out in your sewing space, keep them safe. Not only are pins and needles dangerous, but lengths of thread and floss are too. Many people are unaware of the thread, just as I was until I started working at an animal clinic. If your pet ingests a long piece of thread, there is a good chance they won't survive.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sher's VIP Club

One of the best things about owning your own business is that you have the authority to give stuff away. And that I do! I love to share tutorials, graphic kits, and other fun things with my customers and followers. Since I want to make sure that you don't miss out any of the extras I have to offer, I'm collecting email addresses for a new mailer that is known as Sher's Creative News. I'll be sharing my newest freebies, tutorials, patterns, tips, and helpful information with you. There will also be special freebies and special discounts exclusively for you, and I promise I won't bombard you with useless newsletters and spam.

If you wish to sign up for my VIP club, you can click HERE, or look for the Sher's VIP Club image at the right.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tutorial - Fun & Festive Pillows

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This is a fun and easy pattern. The pillow covers are designed so you can easily slip them off and switch out with another style either for a quick change, or to dress up for a holiday. This isn’t just a Christmas pillow, you can make them for any time of  year! One pillow can be completed in a few hours for the experienced seamstress.
Click images to enlarge if needed.

Supplies to make one pillow:
18 inch pillow form
5 various fabric strips measuring 4 1/2 x 20 inches for top
5/8 yard of cotton muslin (44” wide)
3/8 yard of fabric (44” wide) for binding, ribbon, & bow
3/8 yard of fabric (44” wide) for backing
3/4 yard of 100% cotton batting or 22” square scrap
     (interfacing fleece also works well)
1 yard of medium weight fusible interfacing (20” wide)
Threads to match all fabrics
Walking foot (optional, but helpful)

General supplies:
Scissors, pins, sewing and embroidery needles, fabric marking chalk, pen or pencil, iron & ironing board, sewing machine, cutting mat with ruler & rotary cutter (optional), general sewing supplies

For basting the top layers together, I really LOVE basting spray. I always use “Spray N Bond” brand and it works so much better than pins or stitching for small projects like this. I’ve never had a gummed up needle from this product, and it holds my layers together beautifully while I’m stitching.

Important tips & general instructions:
**Read tips and instructions thoroughly before beginning.

**Iron your fabrics before starting. If you will be pre-washing your fabrics, do not use a fabric softener. It can prevent your adhesive from the fusible interfacing from sticking when fusing. 100% cotton fabrics work best.

**Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the fusible interfacing you will be using.

**Be sure to secure the beginning and the ending or your stitching with a couple of back stitches to secure your seams.

1.  Piece your five (4 1/2 x 20 in) fabrics together to form a big square using 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press seams open. (image 1)

2.  Cut your (ironed) cotton muslin into a square about 22 inches and place on your work surface. Center your 22 inch square of cotton batting over this. Center your pieced top on top of both of these layers, with right side facing up, smoothing as you go. Baste in place for machine quilting. You can use pins or stitching, but I always use the basting spray for small projects like this. It’s quick, easy, and it works very well. (image 2)

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3.  Take this to your sewing machine and stitch the three layers together. I just made long wavy lines going in the same direction as my seams. You can use any stitch pattern you like, I just really liked this effect. If you have a walking foot, it would be helpful here. If you don’t have one, just be sure to take your time and hold your fabric taught. Sine you are using a thin cotton batting or fleece interfacing, you really shouldn’t have a lot of shifting of layers. (image 3 & 4)

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Take this piece back to your work table and cut this down to a perfect 19 inch square. Set this aside for right now. (image 5 & 6)

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Note: If you used a little thicker batting than I chose, and your pillow shrunk or shifted and your square will be a little smaller than 19 inches, this is not a big deal, your pillow form will still fit fine. You will just have to adjust your backing fabric to fit the slightly smaller dimension. If you used 100% cotton batting, or the interfacing fleece, this will not be an issue.

4.  Cut your remaining fabric and interfacing so it will be ready for stitching as follows:

From the binding and bow fabric
(2) 3 1/4 x 44 inch strips, cut these first
4 1/2 x 19 inch piece
4 1/2 x 13 inch piece
4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch piece

From the pillow backing fabric
(2) 13 x 19 inch pieces

From the fusible interfacing
(2) 13 x 19 inch pieces
4 1/2 x 19 inch piece
4 1/2 x 13 inch piece
4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch piece
Refer to diagram below for best cutting layout for the interfacing.

Making the bow and ribbon:
1.  Fuse the interfacing to the backs of your bow and ribbon fabrics, which are the 3 pieces that measure 4 1/2 inches wide.

2.  Fold and pin the longest piece and the smallest piece, with right sides together. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch the pinned edges. Turn right side out and press. For the smaller one, the eraser end of a pencil works well for pushing the fabric through. (image 7)

3.  For the remaining piece, you will fold with right sides together, but this time you will stitch the two short ends together and leave a 1 1/2 inch opening in the center. Use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press seam open. Keeping this piece with the right sides together, fold so that the seam is in the center, between the folds. Stitch the remaining two edges closed. Clip each corner at an angle close to your stitching. Be careful not to cut through your stitching line. Turn right side out through the 1 1/2 inch hole that you left. Gently push your corners out by using a chopstick or the blunt end of scissors. Hand stitch opening closed and press. (image 8 & 9)

4.  Take the smallest piece and fold in half and stitch the loop closed. This time you will leave a 1/2 inch seam allowance and trim it away, close to the stitching. Turn it so the stitching line is on the inside. Before you stitch, make sure that any visible seam will be on the inside of this loop. (image 10)

5.  Slip the longer piece (which will be your ribbon) through the loop. Make sure the seam in the loop is toward the back, and the seam for the ribbon is also toward the back. Now take the rectangular piece (bow) and slip it through the loop, on top of the ribbon. Make sure the opening that you stitched closed is at the backside of the bow. Center the bow on the ribbon. (Image 11)

6.  Place your pillow top piece, face up, on your table with your stripes vertical. Place your ribbon & bow piece on the center of the pillow top so that it lays horizontal, and is centered between the top and the bottom. Pin each edge to secure. Machine baste the ribbon to the pillow top at each edge, keeping your stitches just under 3/8 of an inch from the edge of the pillow top. (image 12)

Assembling the pillow:
1.  Fuse the 13 x 19 inch pieces of fusible interfacing to the backside of the 13 x 19 inch fabrics you have chosen for the back of your pillow.

2.  On one of the long edges of each backing piece, turn under 1/2 inch to the wrong side, then another 1/2 inch. Pin to secure and stitch down.
(image 13)
3.  Pin the two back pieces to the backside of the top piece. The wrong side of the back pieces will be facing the wrong side of the pillow top. The hemmed edges on the pillow back will be in the center. You will notice that you have an overlap. This will be the opening that you will put your pillow through. There isn’t even a need to attach a closure when you make your back like this. Machine baste all the way around your pillow. Set aside for now. (image 14)

Applying the binding:
1.  Combine the two 3 1/4 x 44 inch strips of fabric to make one long piece. You will do this by placing them on your work table, with right sides together, by forming an “L.” Take a ruler and draw a line on the diagonal at the corner. It will look as if you have a triangle at the corner. Stitch on that line. Cut away the corner about 1/4 inch from the stitching line and iron the seam open

2.  Fold one of the short ends of this long strip 1/4” to the wrong side and iron in place, then fold the entire length of fabric in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, and iron.

3.  Beginning at the center front, along the bottom edge of the pillow, and using the edge that you ironed in at 1/4", pin the binding to the quilt with the raw edges of the binding even with the raw edges of the pillow.

Before you do the remaining edges, you will stitch this section in place using a 3/8” seam allowance. Begin your stitching at the folded end of your binding, and stop your stitching 3/8" from the corner. I like to run a couple of back stitches at the beginning and ending of my stitching to secure seam in place. Do not exceed your 3/8” seam allowance. Remove project from machine and take back to the table.

Note: If you are familiar with mitered corners when stitching your binding down, you will probably be able to sit at your machine for this step. If you are new to this technique, it will be easier for you to take your project to the table so you can follow the illustrations easily.

4.  Flip your binding piece down forming a fold at a 45 degree angle. Then bring the binding back down so that the fold in your binding will be even with the raw edge at the bottom. Your raw edges of the binding will be even with the raw edges of the runner.

5.  Secure with pins and stitch in place just as you did with the first edge stopping 3/8" from the end. Repeat these steps with remaining corners. With the remaining corners, you will also be starting your stitching 3/8” from the corner too. When you get to the end, leave an overlap of at least and inch and trim off the excess binding before stitching that final section down.

6.  Trim off excess threads and remove basting stitches that might have been left behind or exposed. Flip the folded edges of the binding to the back and pin in place. Hand stitch binding to backing.

Finishing: Insert your pillow form through the opening in the back. This is a great way to use up some scrap fabrics. Make a pillow or two for every holiday and occasion!

This pattern will be available in PDF format soon.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Movie Traditions - Hugh Grant Dancing!


We all have so many different Christmas traditions, but what about holiday movies? Are there any that you watch every holiday? We have two of them. First is "Love Actually" which is loaded with big name stars including Andrew Lincoln from the Walking Dead. My daughter started that tradition years ago with her girlfriends but when she's in town, we watch it together. And what is the best part? Hugh Grant dancing alone! My tradition is to watch that part over and over again. Come on ladies, watch the video above and you will get a great laugh! Grab those little thingies in the lower right corner of the video because you are going to want to enlarge the screen for this one...

The other movie I never miss is "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." I just love Chevy Chase! The funniest parts of that entire movie are the scenes with his cousin. The first time I saw the scene from the photo above, I nearly peed my pants! Those of you who are 45 or older will remember wearing dickies under sweaters or shirts, but most of us had the sense not to wear a black one under a lightweight, white sweater! I crack up every time I see that big, black square showing through!

Go ahead, watch Hugh dance again!

Monday, December 2, 2013

FREEBIE - ETSY Digital Designers Facebook Hop

You can still pick up your free mini kit on the FREEBIE page of my website HERE.

The digital designers are at it again! The theme for this Facebook Hop is Christmas! All you have to do is follow me on Facebook. After you have received my contribution (shown above), you can go to the next one and do the same. If you ever get lost along the way, you can always go back to the Facebook hop home and get the list of contributors there. By the time you are finished you will have a whole lot of Christmas images, printables, tags, and other fun things that will create one huge and coordinated set. 

Be sure to look for the DD on the Facebook tabs!
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