Recipe: Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and GritsShrimp and grits is one of my favorite things to eat and to cook. It’s cheesy, salty, spicy, seafood-y goodness. But when I say recipe, I mean it in only the very loosest sense. I rarely follow actual recipes when I cook so everything is an approximation of how I make it.

A few tips:

  • Roast the tomatoes and garlic ahead of time and this dish takes only about 30 minutes to prepare.
  • Do not add salt. Many of the ingredients are naturally salty and added salt will overpower all of the other flavors.

For the Sauce:
2 medium tomatoes
1 head of garlic
Olive oil
1/2 lb sausage, finely chopped (Andouille or similar)
1/4 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)
3/4 cup white wine
2-3 Tbsp Creole seasoning
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 lb shrimp, cleaned and deveined
Fresh black pepper, to taste
Diced scallion or parsley for garnish

For the Grits:
1/2 cup uncooked grits
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice tomatoes into thick chunks and place on a baking sheet. Generously drizzle with olive oil. Remove the skin on the head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4″ to 1/2″ of the entire head. Place cut side up on the baking sheet and generously drizzle with olive oil. Roast tomatoes and garlic for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, puree tomatoes in food processor until smooth. Pop garlic gloves out of skin (pinch the bottoms they will pop right out) and finely chop.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, brown the sausage. Toss in the onions, garlic, and mushrooms. Cook until vegetables are tender. Turn up the heat and pour in the white wine. Let everything simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to cook off.  Stir in the pureed roasted tomatoes, Creole seasoning, and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low. Add chicken broth if sauce is too thick. It should be a bit thinner than tomato soup.

In a separate saucepan, bring heavy cream and water to a boil. Add grits and cook over low heat with lid on for 12-14 minutes. Stir in cheeses and garlic once the grits are done.

While grits are cooking, add shrimp to the sauce and turn heat up to medium. Depending on the size, shrimp will need to simmer in the sauce about 5 to 7 minutes to be cooked through.

Serve hot with scallion and/or chopped parsley and Tabasco to taste if you want to add some heat..


My Studio: Looking Back

My sewing space is one of my favorite places to be. It has evolved over the years from a rarely used guest room to a full-blown quilting studio (the only thing missing is a long arm! Dear Santa…) It’s changed so much over a relatively short period of time that it’s hard to remember some of the phases I went through in organizing and decorating it. And there were many…

This year will make for a big change in our household with a fourth member joining our family and as nice as it would be to move to a bigger place, the reality in our housing market is very few properties selling in 2 or 3 days and renovations at nearly every price point.  After 8 years of constant projects (the first 4 years were filled with MAJOR projects like re-wiring the house and gutting the kitchen), I don’t have the heart or energy to renovate right now.  So what that means is less sewing room for me, I’ve been slowly making room by destashing and donating and reorganizing so that little miss can have a spot in my sewing studio. A nursery/sewing room seems like an odd combination but I think it will work out nicely. And honestly, it’s been rather liberating to whittle down my crafting supplies and fabric stash to the things I truly love.  My parents are coming to stay for a week soon to help me finish the transformation so I thought it would be fun to look back at the way it used to look around here…

2009 is the year I started quilting but my sewing space was mostly focused on home decor and garments.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

By 2010, you can see quilting has taken over..

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I changed things around a lot in 2010…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

And how it looked last time I took photos in here…


This midcentury modern desk was a great addition to the space…I do miss it. I ended up selling it because it was so large.

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Things were messy at times…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

A lot going on with that desk!

VMQ Studio Through the Years

But I loved this wall best with my cutting table…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

This corner of the room went from quite sad…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a pretty spot to hang out…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

To a fabric storage area…

VMQ Studio Through the Years

Back to a pretty spot to hang out…and finally with matching drapes! Did you notice I could never seem to finish that yellow set from earlier photos?

VMQ Studio Through the Years

I wish I’d taken more pictures through the years, but it’s the kind of thing you just don’t think about. It will be fun to share again once I’ve finished the nursery side of the room. Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane!

Simple Art from Bella Solids

Color cards for fabric solids become dated at some point…I’m on my third version of the Moda Fabrics Bella Solids color card. Now that I’m on this kick to clean out my sewing stuff, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the first one I bought in 2009.

Bella Solids

I hated to just throw it away though, so instead I trimmed some of the strips off and put them together into a little piece of art:

Bella Solids

I used a frame I already owned and some cardboard backing to glue the swatch strips on. That’s it! I’m thinking about hanging it in the nursery.


Future Quilter

This has definitely been one of those years where I’m so immersed in every day life that I am shocked when I look at the calendar and see days, weeks, and months flying by.  I’ve spent all of May obsessed with house projects and organizing and decluttering! I guess it’s what you’d call nesting…

Spring Cleaning

We are expecting a baby girl this fall (well, September, which is still summer here in Texas).  Isn’t that onesie the cutest thing? I bought it from Patchwork Threads.

A BIG part of my nesting has been a mission to declutter my sewing room. I did a huge destash sale this week. But honestly with Quilt Market going on this weekend and all of those tempting lovely new lines popping up all over social media, it’s going to be hard to keep things tidy in there. I’ll be back on Monday with a Moda market review post (I’m very excited about their fall 2014 lines!!!)

Hand Piecing = Slow Progress

I haven’t been doing much sewing lately but I did take my Green Tea and Sweet Beans project on a trip to my parents’ lake house a few weeks ago. Since it’s made for hand sewing,  GTSB is the perfect quilt for those times when I don’t want to or can’t bring a sewing machine.

2014-03-15_1394919001The arm of a sofa is the perfect work surface – add in a TV tray or a little end table and you’ve got it made. Don’t forget the coffee!


Garden Path block in progress above. Lots of y-seams but fun to sew. See one of my completed Garden Path blocks {here}.2014-03-18_13951034422014-03-19_1395247434 My GTSB quilt is primarily from a kit that I bought at QuiltCon. It’s been over a year now that I’ve been working on the quilt (in very small segments of time) and I’ve sadly realized that I don’t like many of the kit fabrics….at least not together. Only one or two of the prints in these blocks is from the kit. It’s a good thing I have so many scraps to add in so the final quilt will be to my taste.2014-03-19_1395247527 2014-03-19_1395247605See the rest of my blocks {here}.

Get Out of My Quilt

Many times, I’ve had the thought of starting a series called “Quilting Confessions” where we can all share our little secrets – slicing off our fingertips with rotary cutters, swallowing pins, and sewing through our fingers. I’ve done many ill-conceived and just downright stupid things in the pursuit of quiltiness but one of my ongoing issues has to do with something that I actually used to be good at….math.


I did well in math at school. In college, I took three semesters of engineering calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra. But when I’m designing a quilt, the math can still get the better of me.


I’m fine with the 1/4″. It’s a fraction I can really get behind. Who doesn’t love quarters of all kinds?  Fat ones, scant ones, and silver round ones that allow you to briefly purchase complete happiness for a toddler. To my two-year old son, quarters are magical. He very quickly learned that “money coins” buy things from vending machines and make little horses in the grocery store giddyup. Just after Thanksgiving, I let him, for the first time, buy some candy (in the shape of dog bones) from a vending machine and put it into his favorite skeleton covered bucket leftover from Halloween. Yesterday I asked him what he wanted to do for the day. I’m thinking park, library, bounce house, yogurt place, play date with the neighbor. His response? “Go to store and buy dog bone candy. Put in skeleton bucket.” See what I mean? Quarters bring happiness.


My problem is the 1/8 and the truly hated 1/16,  When I’m designing a quilt and I have to go to these detestable fractions, I can’t even tell you how many times I have to punch in the keys 7 divided by 8. 3 divided by 8. 5 divided by 8. Because I can’t remember what they are in decimals! And even when I am pretty sure I remember, I still do it just to be safe.


And it goes beyond the designing aspect. I don’t like cutting to the 1/8 of an inch. When I’m using a pattern that calls for let’s say, 3 7/8″ squares, my brain just goes “uggggghhhhhh. 7/8?! Get out of my quilt!” A big part of my disgust is that most of my rulers have terrible marking for the 1/8″ segments. Oh, those tiny specks mark the 1/8″? Or it’s a fat yellow line that doesn’t allow me to even see the edge of the fabric.


How do you feel about quilt math and fractions?

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

I have an infatuation with small, cute storage containers and retro graphics so I could not resist this sewing tin:

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

(order one for yourself {here})

But in a studio space filled with jars, baskets, tins, and bins…I’m not sure what to use it for.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

The instructions inside indicate that I should use it to store small treasures, keepsakes, and curiosities.

Exquisite Sewing Supplies

What would you put in it? It measures 7.25″ x 5.5″ x 3.5″ – not too big and not too small.

Pattern Links

The site I use for my online shop (Big Cartel) is not allowing people to checkout. I’ve received a few inquiries about purchasing patterns and I’ve found a way to bypass Big Cartel. If you’ve tried to purchase a pattern and can’t, just click on the links below to go directly to PayPal checkout.

1301-Turkish-Delight-main 1302-Midcentury-main 1303-Lucky-Strike-cover.indd
Buy Now Buy Now Buy Now


Tutorial: Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

I have a fun tutorial today as part of the Pillow Collective hosted by Amy Ellis over at Amy’s Creative Side. There are lots of creative and super talented ladies participating so be sure to check out all of the links below.

My pillow design was inspired by an obsession with a set of mini templates I purchased earlier this month. They are made by EZ Quilting and are designed to be used with 2½” strips (jelly rolls) and they also work really nicely with Moda Candy (2½” squares). The specific template I used for this tutorial is the 60° diamond – you can purchase one here. You can also download a template here.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

You will also need:

  • 24 – 2″ squares (scrappy or choose a palette and focus fabric)
  • Background fabric:
    1 strip measuring 2½” x WOF, subcut into 6 diamonds using the template
    2 strips measuring 4″ x WOF
  • 1 fat quarter for pillow backing
  • Needle and thread
  • Polyfil for stuffing

Fabric placement and color is important to this pillow design. My test block used a traditional 4-patch with repeated prints set diagonally to each other. I decided that this block would look better with a scrappier feel, but kept the mini diamonds in the same fabric.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

Let’s start sewing!

1. Create 4-patch units from your 2″ squares – you will need a total of six 4-patches. Press and starch the 4-patches.
2. On the wrong side of each 4-patch. draw a line from corner to corner with a pencil or washable marking pen.

3. Line up the diamond template along the line and use a rotary cutter to trim off excess fabric.

4. Piece together the 4-patch diamonds to create a six-pointed star. Starch and press.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

5. Piece the background diamonds the the star. Yes, these are y seams but don’t be intimidated. The key is the start at the outer point of the star and stop sewing a scant ¼” from the edge of the background diamond. If your patchwork foot has ¼” markings that makes it super easy to know when to stop, but you can also mark the stopping points. Then flip the diamond and start sewing up the edge of the adjacent star point. Starch and press once you’ve sewn all six background diamonds.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

6. Now we are going to use our 4″ strips to make this hexagon shape a bit bigger. My finished pillow measures 17″ across at the widest point. If you want a larger pillow, cut these strips wider than 4″ (but this will affect the size of the backing fabric you’ll need). Line the raw edge of a strip along the edge of the pieced hexagon and sew together. Press and starch. Use a ruler to trim up the overage to match the adjacent edge.

Scrappy Stars Hexie Pillow

The above photo shows my hexie after I’ve added 4″ strips to two sides and “squared up” (really hexied up makes more sense!). Repeat this process until you’ve outlined the pieced hexie with background fabric.

7. Trim the fat quarter backing to match the front hexagon shape. Place right sides together. I like to put two pins in to remind me to leave an opening – one marks the start point and the second pin tells me to stop sewing. Turn pillow right sides out and press.

8. Stuff with polyfill and blind stitch closed. All done!

Eventually the filling will become lumpy and you can either open it up and re-stuff or turn it into a mini quilt (that’s probably what I’ll do).

Thanks for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed my project. Here are the other stops on the Pillow Collective: