Vintage Is Going Nowhere


As I attend different craft and hobby related shows and conferences, I see that vintage, steampunk and grunge seem to be sticking around for a while. Last Fall, at the Houston Quilt Market mid-century modern vintage fabric queen Melodie Miller was always the hot spot on the show floor and vintage themed booths were the choice of Parson Grey, Sew Liberated and other top name designers.

A rare moment when Melodie Miller’s booth wasn’t jam packed full of fans.

When I attended Maker Faire last year the ‘Steampunk’ movement was everywhere. I attributed the Steampunk craze to the new hot trend of upcycling and recycling and using objects for purposes other than they were originally intended — something that Maker Faire really seems to showcase well.

Now as I wrap up my attendance of the Craft and Hobby Association Conference, I thought I’d share some of the vintage merchandising I saw at the show — gorgeous, just gorgeous.

Enjoy these pictures and I’ll be back soon with some trend observations that will explain why I went to the CHA conference in the first place.

Yes Makers, there is a Craft & Hobby Association

I’m coming to you from a squat on the floor outside an enormous conference hall that holds every craft innovation you could possibly ever want — or frankly even dream of. Here at the Craft & Hobby Association Conference “CHA” as the pro’s call it, the world’s craft elite make their bedazzled and bedraggled appearances all in a grand effort to get all you Makers, makin’!

And, I’m here to tell you, there is some cool stuff and you all would be inspired.

Think of CHA on the terms of your local Michaels with a dedicated aisle for EVERY CRAFT SUPPLY VENDOR– and that aisle was 10 ft wide and 20 or more feet long. Today I spent the day hitting vendor lectures and classes, hearing about how to use new die cuts (Sizzix) in new ways, the top 20 most innovative products (an embroidery product that I can’t wait to share) and a lot about how to leverage social media. The main show floor hasn’t even opened and already I’m seeing some trends — I’m anxious to figure out if I’m right tomorrow.

What I can say is that there is a lot of crossover between the “crafting” world and the sewing world and I think that there will be a lot of things that I can tell you about that demonstrate crossover of crafting into many other areas of ‘making’ — if that makes any sense at all.

Wish me luck at one more tradeshow, I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to come back to you with all sorts of innovation and inspiration.

Get up and make something while I’m gone :)


Happy New Year!

New year, new me.

Okay, new blog and logo at least. Things are up and running and although there will be some minor changes in the next week or two, this is where I’m going to hang out for a while. We’ll start the New Year party next week with giveaways and tutorials like crazy.

I wanted to take a moment to recap 2012 since it marked not only a busy year but there were several really cool milestones that I met and didn’t blog about.

First and foremost, I was fortunate enough to launch three girls clothing sewing patterns with the esteemed brand BariJ

Patterns are available from many independent quilt fabric shops and online fabric stores including Fat Quarter Shop, Pink Chalk Fabrics and Etsy.

Additionally in 2012 I started racing. After almost two years of sitting on the sidelines, I decided to start building a car and while that was in progress, I would learn to race in my Mister’s hot rod.

This is me, at my first official event The Goodguys Del Mar Nationals — coming in FIFTH place out of 70 cars! I was just a little happy.

My Mister is #3 in the ProClass! Probably the only chance I’ll have to be on the leaderboard at the same time as him, he’s pretty fast.

Last but not least, I made my first quilt.

 I sew but I dont’ quilt…. still really don’t, but I consider it a milestone that I actually did make a quilt and finish it. As a bonus, I’m told it might actually be in a magazine!

Art Gallery Fabric asked me if I would make a quilt with their Rock ‘n Romance fabric line to put in their booth at Quilt Market Houston – no pressure.

The quilt is called HiFi and is supposed to reflect the bars of a stereo equalizer  and the quilting rising out into bubbles is supposed to show sound… I don’t know, it was my first quilt; I just tried to do what I was “supposed” to do. Here’s a picture of the quilt before it was trimmed and bound (finished) I will hopefully get some better shots to share with you soon.

I also attended my first and second Quilt Markets, my second Sewing Summit and am now ready to depart for the Craft & Hobby Association’s Winter Conference.

I look forward to a tremendous year of making with you all, many more posts, patterns, recipes and tutorials — starting next week with a week or more of GIVEAWAYS!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Inside My World

As I madly try and meet deadlines for my next patterns with BariJ, I went through a bit of a studio redo in order to make a good showing as “Sewing Room of the Month” for Art Gallery Fabrics. I thought I’d share a couple of features that I’m particularly proud of.

First and foremost is probably my use of chalkboard paint. I love chalkboards (incidentally I hate chalk…but more on that later) and the ability to write a note to my ever-forgetful self at any given moment.

I painted an entire wall with black chalkboard paint and I absolutely love it!

In addition, I painted the counter/table that I sew on with chalkboard paint, I had no idea how helpful this would be!

Originally, I had a large Ikea cubby shelf thing (you’ve seen them everywhere) on what is now the chalkboard wall. While the shelf provided storage for a lot of crap, it always looked messy and unkempt. I desperately needed another work surface so I decided to cut the Ikea shelf in half and make a counter top out of it to match my existing cutting counter under the window.

One thing I might point out is that all of the Pinterest/Web pictures that show all these organized bins all pretty and cute lined up on shelves with cute little color-coded labels– aren’t cheap. I was facing ten slots that needed baskets or bins and with bins (that I liked) costing as much as $30 and as low as $15 I was facing a huge cost expenditure (at least in my mind). I went back to trusty Ikea and found these collapsible fabric bins for around $7 and ran with it. Additionally, I found some drawer separator/organizer things that are working pretty well as drawers for those top half-shelves — for about $7 a piece at Ikea and the black and white woven ‘drawers’ are from a Michaels 40% off sale. I haven’t finished filling them but trust me, there’s more than enough in the hallway outside of this room right now to fill up another TEN bins.

I would like to label them cleverly but I haven’t come up with a solution yet. I’m sure I can spend another ten hours on Pinterest figuring out how to make a label.

I put the other half (not to let any instant storage options go to waste) under my sewing table and was finally able to sort my scraps by color! (this I really should be most proud of!)

You can see the baskets (old ones that I painted black) in the far right of this photo.

The next thing I’m especially proud of is my “pin cushions” I was always looking for my pin cushion or my magnetized pin-bin and neither was ever where I wanted it, when I needed it.

This pin cusion runs along the counter under the chalkboard wall.

Additionally I put a pin cushion along the cutting table counter.

I’d like to put another pin cusion bar on my actual sewing machine table but I haven’t figured out where to put it that it won’t get in the way when I’m sewing. I’ve considered doing a narrow one along the front edge of the table but not sure how I’d attach it. Any ideas? I’ve thought about posting how I made my counter-length pin cusions, would anyone like to know? Before I skip on to my next proud achievement I’d like to share how I also use the pin cushion as a bulletin board for a few inspiring notes and photos.

 So lastly, I’d like to show you my ‘stash’ my collection of fabrics that I use to inspire all sorts of projects.


I wanted to point out to those of you who love fabric but can’t see it on a daily basis: find a way to put your fabric in view! I was never so inspired as the day I took my fabric out of plastic bins and stacked it neatly by colorway. I also (as hard as it can be…) started using more of my fabric, cutting into those delicious colors and patterns and making stuff! Below my fabric are CLEAR plastic bins (also from Ikea) to store all of my trims and ribbons that are also sorted by colorway.

Lastly, a bit about lighting – lighting is crucial. I need it for not only my crappy middle-aged eyesight but to match colors of fabrics and take photos of my work. I had a challenge in this room (house) because a) I had no hardwired lighting in the room and b) I only had three power outlets. Again, I felt like I was facing a big ticket item when I started looking for non-hardwired lighting solutions. Hello Home Depot. I got these ‘extension’ lights for $6 each. Each light has a switch on the top of the metal ‘shade’ so I can isolate lights as needed and my clever Mister found a remote control system that allows me to turn each outlet on from one place in the room. (I only have one lightswitch that controls one outlet)

We tied the lights to caribeners (no idea how to spell that) and then hooked the caribeners to cup hooks on the ceiling. I will probably cover the cords eventually but I have to finish moving all my crap in first.  You might be able to notice that we basically ran extension cords up the corners of the room and then plugged the lights in. I’m sure the fire department would have something to say about this creativity…

Thanks for looking in, I’ve been avoiding blogging because the header is broken again – seems like everytime I do an update this thing pukes on me. I am great with a lot of things but one of them is NOT web design so I’m just going to accept that fault until I can find someone to help me. Happy cooking, sewing and crafting all!

LillyBelle is in stores!

Please Meet LillyBelle!This is what a great company Art Gallery Fabrics is! Watch this adorable video announcing LillyBelle to the world — you’ll get glimpses of stuff I made for the booth including the apron!

What’s Been Going On?

Well Folks, I’m back. Finally.

I broke the blog and haven’t been able to tell you about all of my busy-ness.

I’ll start with my latest and most exciting venture. My path to Suzy-Homemaker for-real-ness.

I am a licensed designer of clothing sewing patterns for BariJ!

A while back, while driving for something like 12 hours to Utah …in the earliest snow storm recorded in California… an idea was hatched. After several months of brushing it under the rug, Bari and I decided to create some patterns together for garments.

Here are the first two!

Zophia Dress

Bailey Wrap Dress

Now, when you publish stuff like this, you have to sell it. Selling requires a ‘launch’ to retailers. The fabric/sewing industry tends to go to the International Quilt Market twice a year to see the latest and greatest in fabric, sewing, patterns, notions, machinery, techniques, etc.


Finished booth before the show opened.

I’ve worked hundreds of (if not more) trade shows in my day job; I was prepared to be on fire, hawking my own wares along with Bari’s newest fabric lines for Art Gallery and her new gorgeous bag patterns. I was not prepared for the phenomenal response we got — everyone was so complimentary and sales were awesome! So many good things came from Quilt Market: I met some new (terrific) friends, I met some influential people (and totally geeked out on a few) , occupied more hotel rooms at one hotel than I ever have before (long story) and learned a TON about how to do this tradeshow again. I also experienced the drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Kansas City, Missouri — a road I had never traveled. (I’ll write more about it later.)

Some of my new friends are the crew from Art Gallery — they put together this short video that showcases just how fun these people are. (and if you watch carefully, you’ll see me and my stuff!)

Art Gallery Quilt Market 2012 Recap

One thing you might notice is that Bari and Art Gallery won 1st place awards for their booths – three blue ribbons!

NEVER in my career have I so easily sold something as I sold Art Gallery Fabric. I love Art Gallery Fabric – always have. I drive over an hour to buy Art Gallery Fabric and I look for it in every shop I go to. If you sew, you should be sewing with Art Gallery. Period. If you want my detailed pitch, hit me up by email and I’ll tell you or I’ll post it if enough people care.

I know when you see all this stuff made with BariJ’s fabric you’re going to want to get some for yourself, when you touch them, you’re going to want more! BariJ for Art Gallery “Lilly Belle”  is shipping to your local independent fabric store now or check out Art Gallery’s listing of local retailers here: Find a Store  Find an Online Store

Enough chatter, I’ll close with a few more pictures from Quilt Market and get working on a new recipe to share.

First Place for Single Booth!


My Mister made us custom t-shirts to wear in the booth!


Sneak peek of one of the next patterns!



Three Onion Dip


Anyone can make the ‘traditional’ Onion Dip with the traditional (salt and preservative-loaded) soup mix – right?

Well, that wouldn’t be the Suzy-Homemaker way. I doubt this recipe is any cheaper but it is so delicious you’ll never go back to the soup mix. A couple of notes about this recipe:

I don’t really measure much when I’m cooking so this is guesstimates – season to your taste. I use whatever onions I have on hand - yellow, purple, frozen pearl onions, shallots…you get the idea. I also like to make this ahead for two reasons, it’s better the next (or third) day and it allows you to let the onions cool before guests arrive.


1 tub (the medium-sized one, not the single serving yogurt size) of sour cream

1/2 cup of Mayo

1 teaspoon of dried garlic (or roasted if you have it on hand)

1 heaping tablespoon of dried onion

2 teaspoons of soy sauce

4 green onion stalks chopped (with a teaspoon or so set aside for garnish)

1 Purple onion choped fine

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Heat the olive oil up in a skillet and add the chopped fresh onion (not the green). Saute on medium to-medium low until brown and caramelized. Watch carefully that they don’t burn and turn the heat down if needed. This probably takes about a half an hour. If the onions look too dry, add some more oil. If they seem like they’re browning too quickly add some chicken stock, white wine or even water to slow the process.

Meanwhile, mix the sour cream and mayo together thoroughly – I often will whisk it. Mix the garlic, dried and green onions and soy sauce into the sour cream/mayo.

Once the sautee’d onions are nice and caramelized and brown and COOL (you don’t want them to cook the sour cream) add them to the sour cream/mayo mix as well. Cover and let chill and come together. Give the dip a really good stir and scatter the reserved green onions on top before serving.

This can be served with chips or vegetables and I promise people will ask for the recipe.

Quickie Indian Food

 First and foremost: if you say “oh, I don’t like curry/Indian food” I beg you to try good Indian. India has amazing flavors and terrific uses of legumes and vegetables. By the way (in case you don’t know)  ‘Curry’ is not one flavor, it’s a mix of herbs and spices that are combined and called a curry; this is why curry (unless consumed from the same place) is always different. Curry differs from region to region and even from country to country, as is the case with Thai curries. I was in the mood for Indian and I pulled this together in about 20 minutes — it might have an Indian name but I don’t know what it is. You’ll probably have all the ingredients hanging around except for maybe the Turmeric which can be found in almost any market in the international section.


Ingredients in order of use:

1 Onion chopped finely

1 Tablespoon of butter

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 Fat chicken Breasts cubed  

1 can of tomatoes drained with juice reserved and added to chicken broth

1 can of garbanzo beans

1 teaspoon of garlic* (I use chopped roasted but any is fine)

1 teaspoon of turmeric*

1 teaspoon of coriander*

1 teaspoon of ginger*

1 teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon of chili powder (I use chipotle powder for the smoke)*

Dried or fresh cilantro (if you have it)*

Fresh ground pepper*

*Put all the spices and herbs in a small cup and add a few tablespoons of water or chicken broth to make a paste

½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste, this is a guess)

1 1/2 cups of rice (I like brown just because I’m trying to be healthy but jamine/basmati rice is sooo good)

3 cups of chicken broth or water (seriously, don’t feel bad if you use water, I like the chicken broth but I don’t always have it on hand)


Heat up a sauté pan on medium high heat, add butter and oil; add onions when the butter is melted and the oil is ‘wavy’. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the onions until they’re soft and begin to brown.  I like my onions browned a little for that extra flavor component.  Once the onions are starting to brown, add the chicken and turn up the heat a little. Brown the chicken quickly (it will cook completely when we simmer covered so don’t over brown and dry it out), add the tomatoes, garbanzo beans and spice mixture  stir together and cook for 3-4 minutes at a rapid boil. Scatter the rice over the top of the simmering pan and then pour the chicken broth (or water) over all of it. Stir and bring to a boil then cover and cook according to the rice instructions (depends on what rice you use.)

One pan, quick meal that I served like I would a stew with a small salad. Plenty of protein, low fat and very high flavor.


Braised Black Jack Short Ribs

Also known as Merlot Braised Short Ribs with Rasberry Chipotle glaze.

I like boneless (yes, I know bones are traditional) make sure that the ribs are at least 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. If boneless ribs are unavailable, substitute 7 pounds of bone-in beef short ribs at least 4 inches long with 1 inch of meat above the bone. If you buy whimpy ribs, you’ll regret it. I was inspired to write this recipe at a food and wine festival after I had tasted a rasberry chipotle sauce and immediately thereafter took a swig of JAQK Cellars Black Clover merlot – match made in heaven. I make and serve this dish with JAQK wine but I understand that you might not be able to get JAQK wine in your area (yet) or that it’s not always a fiscally feasible to cook with high quality wine. If you substitute, I recommend a hearty Merlot or Cabernet with a nice ‘fruit forward’ flavor. Or…. skip the wine snobbery and choose the red wine that you like best and invite some friends over to love it too.


Serves 6
3 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs , trimmed of excess fat

Salt and ground black pepper

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

2 Large onions , peeled and sliced thin from pole to pole (about 4 cups)

5 Tablespoons of rasberry chipotle sauce (or substiture rasberry jam with 1/2 teaspoon of chipotle powder)

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

6 Medium garlic cloves , peeled

2 Cups red wine (see note above)

1 Cup beef broth

4 Large carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

4 Sprigs fresh thyme

1 Bay leaf

 1/4 Cup cold water

1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Add half of beef and cook, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn beef and continue to cook on second side until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer, reduce the heat if things get a little too smokey. Transfer beef to medium bowl. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and meat.

2. Reduce heat to medium, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (If onions begin to darken too quickly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to pan.) Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it browns on sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. you will now have a mess in your pot and will doubt that this is right — carry-on, I promise this is both necessary and will wash out. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Increase heat to medium-high, add wine and simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits, until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. You will see that I wasn’t lying about the clean pot promise.  Add broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Add beef and any accumulated juices to pot; cover and bring to simmer. Transfer pot to oven and cook, using tongs to turn meat twice during cooking, until fork slips easily in and out of meat, 2 to 2½ hours.

3. Place water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top; let stand at least 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer meat and carrots to serving platter and tent with foil. Strain cooking liquid through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator or bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Allow liquid to settle about 5 minutes and strain off fat. Return cooking liquid to Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture; season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meat and serve.

Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or roasted potatoes.

Gamboling With Royalty


 intr.v. gam·boled or gam·bolled, gam·bol·ing or gam·bol·ling, gam·bols To leap about playfully; frolic.

n. A playful skipping or frolicking about.
Rooftop deck at JAQK Cellars.

Rooftop deck at JAQK Cellars with (from L-R) my friend Patrick, our host and JAQK co-founder Joel Templin, Me and my other friend Leslie.

 Last week I was so fortunate to spend the evening at JAQK Cellars in San Francisco. What a fantastic evening it was! Once a month JAQK offers tastings of their DELICIOUS wines in their downtown San Francisco tasting loft. (I call it a loft – I think it better describes the cool uber chic atmosphere.)


 Turn the clock back to last fall when I was first introduced to JAQK wines while at the Carmel Harvest to Table event.  Admittedly, I was drawn to the wines by their stunning graphics and marketing.

Who could walk by and not try this??

Who could walk by and not try this??

 After I chatted with the wine maker Craig MacLean about food and wine and pairings – I had an immediate need to pair Black Clover with Beef Short Ribs Braised in Merlot with Rasberry Chipotle glaze -it turned out that Craig saw my vision and agreed with me enough to give me a bottle to use  to write the recipe. God only knows why I was thinking about braising beef on a near 100 degree day, all I can say is I was inspired, and it was all Craig McLean’s fault ;)  I did create the recipe and I’ll share it later in this post.

Tipping it back like the pro that I am...

Tipping it back like the pro that I am...

Fast forward almost a year and several shipments into my Society of the Tipsy King membership and I’m hooked. It’s not just the wine – it’s the stories and the people. Why do you think it’s so easy to love wine when you’re on that euphoric Napa (or Paso Robles, CA, Herman, MO, Long Island, NY, or Northern Virgina) wine tasting weekend?  It’s the stories that a wine maker or a tasting specialist a founder, or even a Sommelier was willing to tell you, trusting you with their passion and the stories of ‘growing up’. (Okay, well it’s also because you’re a little drunk… )

So, here’s my recommendation: support your local winemakers – regardless of where you live – give them a try, hear their stories. If you like what they offer, tell your friends, visit often and tell them how great they are- winemaking is a labor of love and very few are loaded [with money]. When you visit cities, look for local food, wine and arts and craft resources and experience something a little more rich and flavorful (literally and figuratively) than what’s on the tour guide script. If you visit San Francisco, get a taste of Napa without leaving the city! (There’s a party minimum so just call me and I’ll grab a few friends!)

There’s only a few places you’ll get this iconic San Francisco view – one of them is from the JAQK Cellars rooftop lounge.

TransAmerica Pyramid Building

TransAmerica Pyramid Building

Some details: I love JAQK High Roller and you’ll buy it for the bottle and die over what’s inside. I love Black Clover Merlot with its berries and fruit and love affair with beef.  I adore both of the Chardonnays Pearl Handle and Her Majesty and cannot wait to crack open my bottle of Charmed now that I know more history about Craig MacLean’s passion and success with Sauvignon Blanc. I came home with a couple of extra bottles of 22 Black and can’t wait to have some friends over with a hearty helping of Tri-Tip and grilled vegetables.


New Member 'stuff'

New Member 'stuff'


Bragging to friends and family about our evening.

Bragging to friends and family about our evening.

Now before I go any further and share my recipe, I have to thank Mister, my wonderful Mister who not only took these pictures, he drove our silly drunk butts to and from this great evening.

The gang at dinner - yes, there was more wine.

The gang at dinner - yes, there was more wine.

See the next post for the Braised Short Ribs recipe, you’ll love it!