Fabulous Instant Pot Beef Stew

Did you just get home from work and don’t have a clue of what to fix for dinner? Well prepare to earn the hero status you deserve! Even better, there’s only like 4…count them FOUR dishes to wash! A cutting board, a knife, the pot, and a wooden spoon. 🙂

The veggies were what I had on hand and the mushrooms were about to turn “science project” so I used them up. This recipe is perfect for whatever is in your veggie drawer.

– 1-2 fresh medium onions, diced into 1″ pieces
– 1 package of pre-cooked/pre-seasoned beef fajitas
– Veggie drawer surprise! (bag of baby carrots, diced celery, mushrooms, etc…whatever. Canned mushrooms will work too.)
– 5 or 6 red potatoes, diced into 1″ pieces
– 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
– 1.5 cups beef broth (use water & bullion if you don’t have any canned broth. You DO need liquid in the pot.)
– 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix (None on hand? Make your own!)
– 1 Tbs Worsteshire sauce
– 1 Tbs onion powder
– Any other seasonings to taste (salt, pepper, heat, etc.)
– 1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Spray your pot with non-stick cooking spray. Put your Instant Pot on Sauté and add 2 Tbs of olive oil. When hot, add the diced onions and stir occasionally. After a couple of minutes, add the fajitas and stir every minute or so. After the onions are beginning to release their yummy flavor, add everything else into the pot except the soup. Stir well to mix. Close the lid, set the valve to Sealing, and set the timer for 12 minutes. When it’s finished, let the pot naturally release for 5 minutes and then release the pressure. Open the pot and add the soup. Stir until all the soup bits are dissolved. Viola! Bask in your glory! Do yourself a favor and freeze a batch!

Do you have a quick & easy recipe for an Instant Pot dinner? I’m all ears!

Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!

Today is September 1, 2019 and it is the day a winner was chosen from the latest giveaway on my video!

There were a total of 469 comments! It is so wonderful to see so many of you intrested in our craft! Warms the heart 😊

The prize is a 5″x10″ Jolly Bar fabric pre-cut, a Jolly Bar pattern book, and a 5″x10″ half-hexi ruler from MSQC!

I used a random number generator for my phone. I told it I needed a number between 1 and 469 and it chose #83!

I counted top level comments up from the bottom of the comment string and Peggy Perry, you have won!

Congratulations Peggy! Please email your mailing address to me at powertoolswiththread@outlook.com

For those that didnt win, cheer up! There will be more giveaways in the future.😁

A Zipper Pouch for Yo-Yo Makers

Grandma always said, “Everything has a place; everything in its place.” (I try to live by that…I really do.)  I bought these yo-yo makers to use in the Ocean Frolic Quilt pattern that I got on a shop hop last summer. 

After I got home from my Kimberbell embroidery event on Saturday I was digging around in my stash for another thing (can’t recall what now) and came across theses yo-yo makers orphaned in a drawer, all loose and rolling around, and the instructions were buried under some fabric in a back corner of the drawer. Well, we can’t have that! I need to keep them with the instructions so I know how to use them when the time comes.

I dug around and found some happy fabric from Riley Blake called Bake Sale 2. It was in a mystery bundle I received from Missouri star months ago. I cut 4 pieces of fabric 10″ x 12″ and used a 14″ zipper.

I chose an equally happy 1″ font called Blue Kids on Scooters. I embroidered this with lightweight tear away sticky stabilizer.

I put Pellon Shape Flex 101 on the lining pieces. Then I sewed the inner and outer pieces to a bright yellow zipper. I stitched each piece to the right/left and front/back of the zipper.

I used the toe of the machine foot as a guide for top stitching.

Don’t forget the MOST important step! Open that zipper before stitching all the sides closed!

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are to lineup all 4 pieces exactly the same, they seem to be off on the edges.

No matter. I just drew a line inside the shortest piece of each edge as my stitching line.

Because this is a utility bag I didn’t get all worked up about hiding the inside seams. Instead I cut them with a pinking rotary cutter blade. That makes fast work of finishing off the inside seams.

I love how this turned out! Now I just need to figure out where to put it!

Finding Time for Stitching

This week has been a busy one! My day job has had me working a conference all week, day in and day out, arriving before sunrise and leaving for home after dinner. We had about 150 people come to San Antonio to discuss new processes for migrating Air Force data to the cloud. Very exciting!

I stayed away from the pastry table!

Needless to say, after the drive home, my brain was not ready to shut down yet.

Being away from the sewing machine all week was stressful in itself for this girl. Monday night my darkened sewing room seemed so sad and desolate without the bright lights and the hum of a machine going in the background. So on the 2nd day of the conference, when I got home, I just needed to do something… anything, to satisfy the need to create and sew. I didn’t want anything too intensive so I dug out a simple Villa Rosa Designs pattern that called for four patches made from 5″ blocks. Hello Phoebe!

It said that 40 different prints from a package of 10″ squares could be used. I didn’t want to waste half of a layer cake so I went in search of a Jolly Bar that I thought would be perfect for this project. I know I had a couple of them around somewhere in my recently re-organized sewing room. I chose Bonnie and Camille’s “The Good Life”. So happy and fun! Of course I didn’t take a picture of it before I cut it but here is an image of the layer cake.

Jolly Bars are the brain child of Kim Jolly from the Fat Quarter Shop and are distributed by Moda. They are 5″ x 10″ rectangles, (half of a layer cake) and were perfect for this project. In less than 10 minutes the entire Jolly Bar was cut in half, sorted, stacked and ready to go.

I just needed to get some fabric under a presser foot. This was so beneficial to me. It helped me to refocus my mind, calm my thoughts, and yet feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time. For me, this accomplished what sitting mindlessly in front of a TV could never do.

In less than an hour, I had the main four patch squares of this quilt completed.

I still needed two yards of fabric for sashing and borders so on the 3rd day of the conference I snuck away to the quilt store during lunch. I chose a soft gray with light circles of dots for the sashing/borders and a red print for the binding. I have auditioned it here below. For the backing I found 4 yards of the dark gray print in the image below on Etsy for $4 a yard. Score!!

These Villa Rosa patterns are wonderful in their simplicity and yield a gorgeous result. The sashing was done by the end of day 3. I couldn’t do this pattern match again if I tried. Can you believe this was happenstance?

Borders were done and on at the end of day four. Yay! I’ll say it again… Hello Phoebe!

It feels so good to sew something from my stash and also feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment at the end of a very busy week.😊

Simplicity 8794 #widelegpantchallenge

Have you all heard about Joy Bernhardt’s Wide Leg Pant Challenge? She decided to challenge us all to make up some wide leg pants to get us sewing and because they are SOOOO easy!

I used Simplicity 8794. The pattern for the pants is literally 3 pieces. Front, back, and POCKET! Love me some pockets!

The elastic I used is a 1.5″ wide super soft elastic that I got from Louise Cutting’s website (based on a recommendation from Joy). I trimmed it down to 1.25″. This stuff is amazing and so easy to sew through.

I used 3 machines in this make: 1) the serger for the inner and outer leg seams; 2) the standard sewing machine for the hem; and 3) the coverstitch for the waistband. I think a coverstitch machine makes for such a pretty look on the outside over an elastic waist band. I used Steam-A-Seam for the hem before stitching the single hem stitch at a 4.0.

The fabric is a luscious stretch crepe. It’s heavy and flowy and has a beautiful hand. Sorry, I can’t recall where I got it and it’s not in any of my regular online ordering history so maybe…probably…Joann’s?

I get my labels at Dutch Label Shop. I love this!

These will be worn a lot! I need a shorter top to wear with them though. I would also go down a size. My hips measure 44 so that’s a size 20 out of the package but I probably could wear my standard pattern size of 18.

OK, time to post on Instagram! If you’re doing this, be sure to tag them (use the pound sign! lol) #widelegpantchallenge (and that’s “pant” singular)

#DIME Trapunto Seashell Table Runner is Finished!

I’ve finished the table runner! Yay! #DesignsInMachineEmbroidery has offered a free table runner project and you can get the directions and a link to download the files on my previous post here. Also, those free design files are only good through Dec 31, 2019 so if you think you might want to make this later, be sure to download them from the Ameliescott website now.

Trapunto Seashell Table Runner
Designs In Machine Embroidery Trapunto Seashell Table Runner

I made the last two how-to videos today and unfortunately, before I finished, my camera battery ran out. Dang! Typical… I’ll be editing them and getting them up this week.

Anyhoo…Once I figured out how to use the scan camera in my Brother Quattro (upgrade Kit 1), life became fun, and happy, and full of rainbows! 🙂 So much so, that I was disappointed when the time came to say goodnight to my machine. That nifty little feature allowed me to perfectly place the quilt stitching in the background fabric around the shell and also place the stitching in the accent fabric. I can “see” the stitching on the screen by using the scanned image that the camera picked up. I’m in a silly kind of heaven I never knew existed!

I finished the runner with My Favorite Machine Binding Method using a Kona Silver I got from an MSQC Daily Deal that was hanging around in my stash. However, unlike that blog post, I no longer need or use the Steam-a-Seam due to my Brother PQ1500SL which upped my binding game much to my surprise. The 1/4″ foot on that machine does away with the need for pins, clips, or SAS. I love it!

Oh, one more thing… Offer ends July 31, 2019 to get two years of #DesignsInMachineEmbroidery magazine for the price of one for less than $20! Use this link. http://www.dzgns.com/magazine/bt142/ If your Apple Safari browser won’t let you through, use Chrome or Firefox or the Samsung browser if you have an Android device. When you get to the point of actually ordering, it switches to https so it is secure.

Thanks to everyone who participated! I hope during the course of this project you learned to overcome your fear and the mystique of your embroidery machine! If you have joined along in our table runner journey, please upload your finished table runners to Instagram and use the hashtag #trapuntoseashelltablerunner

See you on YouTube soon!

Buying a Sewing Machine from Craig’s List or Facebook

I’ve purchased two of my machines from Craig’s List.  Craig’s List (CL) or a Facebook (FB) Neighborhood for Sale page are great resources for finding used sewing and embroidery machines so I highly encourage you to utilize those if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine.

The first purchase I made was the Baby Lock Ellegante II (sewing & embroidery combo that uses large hoops) in 2015 which had originally been purchased at a dealer with a full set of Koala furniture. 

Shortly after the original owner purchased the machine, she went into a nursing home.  I saw the ad on CL with an asking price of $2,200.  I dismissed it out-of-hand but several weeks later, I text the seller again to see if they still had it (the ad was no longer on CL).  The seller said she did still have it so hubs and I made the 50 mile trek to go “look” at it.  The seller turned out to be the daughter of the original owner who had recently passed away.  Unfortunately the furniture was already sold (dang it!) but the machine was brand new and the sale included a Sew Steady table that had been custom made for the machine that had not been originally advertised.  And by brand new I mean BRAND NEW – it had a zero stitch count on the display.  I haggled the price down to $2k and felt like I’d won the lottery.  The original selling price of this machine was around $8,500.   This cash sale occurred at the seller’s home and I took my husband with me to make the purchase. This is the machine I use at our other home at the coast.

My second CL purchase in 2017 was a little different.  It was being sold by a gentleman who was the cousin of the lady who owned the machine and she had passed away.  She had a lot of sewing things and he had sold all but the Brother Quattro Innovis 6000D (sewing & embroidery combo) which he was selling for $3,800.

 The ad had been on CL for several weeks.  This was another cash sale so we chose to meet at a local police sub-station that has a couple of parking spaces marked Safe Exchange Zone and there’s a security camera pointing right at the parking spots. 

This machine came with a full set of rolling travel cases, two upgrades already installed in the machine (a $1,500 value), a never-used external Brother PED memory card reader ($90 value), and a digitizing tablet ($1,200 value).   Again, my husband went with me and this time, because our truck has an inverter for 110 power, I brought along some fabric, thread, and a bobbin to do a test to make sure the machine operated as advertised.  I’m SO glad I attempted to make sure the machine at least powered on while the seller was there because it was then that we all discovered that the wrong power cord had been included with the machine.  Fortunately, we were just a few minutes from an Allbrands Creative Sewing Center and I bought a new Brother power cord for just $15.  I never buy after-market for power cords because it’s just too easy to seriously screw up the power center of your machine.   The seller offered to go back and look for the original power cord but it would be an hour wait.  Also, the external card reader is basically useless because the machine takes a standard USB stick so I’d never, ever use the reader.  I told him he could keep it.  We haggled a bit and due to several factors (lengthy ad listing on CL, no power cord, & useless card reader which he didn’t want back) I was able to get the machine for $3,500.  It was a crap shoot that I won not knowing if the machine even powered up or not. 

So from these experiences, here are some tips I have for you when buying a machine on CL or FB.

1.  Do not go to the sale alone.  EVER.  You must ALWAYS, ALWAYS have someone with you for safety:  preferably a large male (…with a gun…hey, this is Texas and that’s how we roll).  You will be carrying a very large amount of cash dollars and people have been robbed, killed and/or car jacked during Craig’s list sales.  This isn’t meant you scare you, but the more aware of the dangers you are, the better prepared and the safer you will be. Also, tell people where you are going, who you will be meeting, and give them the phone number in case you do not return.

2.  Meet in a public location during the daylight – preferably at a police station.  If you can meet at a local quilt or sewing store, that’s all the better.  You’ll want to buy new goodies for your machine anyway.  If they insist on you coming to their home, evaluate the neighborhood and see #1 above. Obviously, someone can’t drag a quilting frame to a meet-up. I went to the lady’s home for my first purchase, but I took my large husband during the daylight hours and she lived in a very nice neighborhood.  I would not have met the 2nd seller at his home. That’s just me.

3.  Do some homework to make sure you’re getting a good deal.  If what they are asking is the same as an eBay sale, be sure to haggle them down.  Tell them it’s for “X amount” on eBay and you’re willing to wait for shipping for a less expensive price.  Nine times out of 10, they want the sale as much as you do so they will come down.

4.  Find the manual online for the model you want to buy.  Figure out how to find the stitch count to see how much the machine has really been used.  If you have a portable power inverter that can produce 110 power, take it with you to plug in the machine if you’re meeting in a parking lot. If the machine has millions and millions of stitches, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but can be a haggling point to bring down the price. It’s an even better haggling point if the seller does not know the maintenance history.

5.  Ask for the maintenance records or at the very least, ask where the machine has been serviced.  You may be able to gain some insight into the health of the machine.  Then call the shop if possible. If it’s been in the shop for the same thing several times or has made frequent trips into the shop, it might be a lemon someone is trying to unload.   Along those lines, do some online research for frequent maintenance issues with that particular machine.  If you see a lot of problems, keep shopping.  

6. If software is included in the deal, like digitizing software for embroidery, check to see if there is a fob (sounds like “job”) that’s required for the software to work. Many pieces of software can only operate on one machine at a time, and while selling the software in a personal sale is perfectly legal, software manufacturers ensure the software can only be used on one machine at a time by use of a special USB stick that’s called a fob. It has a license key on it that allows the software to work. Without it, the software is completely useless and you cannot get another one from the company. If you’re not sure if a fob is required for the software, do a quick Google search prior to finalizing the deal. If one is needed and it’s not there, haggle down the price. Here’s the software that came with our Janome multi-needle. The USB stick is the fob and the software won’t launch without it in the computer. Along that line, ask the seller how many times the software has been installed on another computer. Many pieces of software, especially the expensive ones, have a limited number of installs that can be done whether you have the fob or not. Most will allow 1 to 3 installations because manufacturers understand that users buy new computers.. If it has been installed on the previous owner’s computer ask the seller if it was uninstalled. If they don’t know, you might be buying software that cannot be installed on your system. If the software does not have a fob, then the seller may not be authorized to sell the software. Buyer beware.

7. Get your new-to-you purchase into the shop as soon as possible for a once-over checkup. You don’t want to ruin a project or run up against a deadline only to have a machine that won’t operate properly when all it needed was a tune up. It’s worth it for peace of mind.

So I hope I’ve provided some helpful tips. There are a lot of great deals out there and if you’re in the market for a new-to-you machine, I highly encourage you to look for a used machine first if possible.