Friday, March 27, 2015

And...we have a dog

Meet Lucy!

This sweet girl is our new dog - a 3-year old Beagle mix which we got from a shelter. So far, so good....

Monday, March 16, 2015

Canned Coleslaw

My heart was pounding fast with excitement as I went to the basement and retrieved my canner and enough jars for a canner load.

Behold, my first canning project of 2015:

Since cabbage was on sale last week, I thought I'd give Canned Coleslaw a try. Basically, it is pickled cabbage. It won't form the bulk of our vegetable consumption, by any means. But I thought it would be a fun departure from the norm.

Oof. So excited to have some canning done for 2015!!!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

52 Projects (Project 9)

A pom-pom wreath!

This is a project I've had in the works for a while. When I got done with my daughter's afghan, I had quite a bit of yarn left. One day I was looking down into the bag where the yarn was, and I got the idea to make a pom-pom wreath.

This hangs over my daughter's bookshelf in her room.
While I had the yarn and a straw wreath, I still had other supplies to buy.

Floral pins: $.93
White yarn (to wrap the wreath in) and pom-pom makers: $5.15
Birds: $2.53

I tried making pom-poms without the pom-pom makers and it was a big waste of yarn. I had a $5 off $10 coupon for Jo-Ann's so I used that for the white yarn and pom-pom makers. Making the pom-poms was fun!

floral pins and pom-pom makers
I didn't have enough yarn to completely cover the whole wreath in pom-poms, and I did not want to buy more yarn. So I bought the white yarn to wrap the wreath in so that the straw part was covered where there are no pom-poms.

The sweet little birds were not my original idea. When I thought of making a pom-pom wreath, I looked at pom-pom wreaths on Pinterest and came across this pretty wreath (unfortunately, I could not find the post with the original picture in it, so all I have is a Pinterest link).

Cost: $8.61
Running Cost: $19.42

Monday, March 02, 2015

52 Projects (Project 8)

I am continuing to make washcloths. Who knew they would be so addictive?

And also, who knew I had so much appropriate yarn in my stash? Not me, on both accounts!

The cream washcloth is made from the same yarn I made my daughter's baby afghan out of, when I was expecting her. I had one skein left. I expected to get two washcloths out of it, but it knit into just one with only a little scrap of yarn left. It's so nice and soft - the yarn is 50% cotton and 50% microfiber.

The pink washcloths are made from yarn which (according to this post) I originally purchased to make socks out of but ended up making a flower washcloth out of instead. I still have enough yarn to make one more washcloth.

Cost: $0
Running Cost: $10.81

Whether we knit or sew, spin or weave, or refinish chairs, making things that people can use to clothe their bodies or furnish their homes can offer a welcome change from the recurring tasks of daily life. One woman says, "Whenever I begin to feel entangled and trapped in necessary tasks, I hear my grandmother's voice telling me that her mother used to admonish her: 'You have to make something, Sarah Elizabeth. You shouldn't spend all your time cooking and cleaning--those things are never done. You have to make something!'"
Cooking, cleaning, laundry--these things are necessary and important and perhaps more lasting, at least in their effects, than we tend to give them credit for. But it is important to make things too--things to wear and things to use, things to keep and things to give, things that can remind us of our own essential physicality and of our links to past and future generations.

--Keeping House, the Litany of Everyday Life, by Margaret Kim Peterson, page 81

Friday, February 27, 2015

52 Projects (Project 7)

(Is it spring yet???)

My mother-in-law gave me a set of pillowcases last fall, and I set them aside to do something with them. I decided to make my daughter a pillowcase nightie.

I thought I'd just use a t-shirt that I had on hand but lo and behold I didn't have any white or solid t-shirts. So I headed to the thrift store and found a cute t-shirt. It was half off so I ended up paying $.52 for it.

 $.52 + free is not bad for a nightie!

I used this tutorial as my idea. I used a knit stitch to join the two, hopefully that will help it to hold together well.

My daughter was in her room for quiet time while I was sewing, so I just guessed on where to cut the shirt and the pillowcase. She tried it on and kept it on, so I would say she likes it! It ended up being knee-length, which is nice for a summer nightie.

Cost: $.52 (t-shirt), $0 (pillowcase)
Running Cost: $10.81

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Review (A Woman After God's Own Heart)

I recently finished Elizabeth George's book, A Woman After God's Own Heart, and wanted to write a short review and share a few thoughts.

I don't have a lot of time to read, so I read this book in the morning along with my devotions. The shorter chapters allowed me to read a chapter at a time, which I appreciated.

I am in awe of Elizabeth George. I've never heard her speak, but this is the second book I've read and I just keep gleaning from her wisdom and love for the Bible and her dedicated study of the Bible. I love that she infuses her books with Scripture. There are not many pages that do not have a verse or verse reference! Not only does she include Bible references to support her points, but she digs into the meaning of the Scripture and does not take it out of context or use it to support her own ideas outside of Biblical interpretation and meaning.

She writes humbly - not as someone who has "arrived" but she shares her teachings with her readers in an attitude of "this is what we must do". Of course, she does share personal stories to make points related to the issue she is writing about.

The book is broken into sections related to the Christian woman's life, and covers her devotion to God and her priorities in life and her ministries. I loved this book but it was also very convicting in several areas - not because I learned some new truth but because I was reminded of the truth I already knew. When I read a book like this, I use a pencil to underline key points, and my pencil got a workout for this book!

Much of the book is counter to our current culture, a culture which permeates our ways of thinking in all areas if we are not careful! This book sets things back into a biblical perspective, something I believe is important for Christians to do on a consistent basis!

In the near future I'd like to read her book on marriage, A Wife After God's Own Heart. Last summer, I read Raising a Daughter After God's Own Heart and gleaned a lot for mothering my sweet daughter.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

Links are affiliate links.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Creative Housework

"...All of housework is creative, including the so-called janitorial part of it. When God created the heavens and the earth, he started with chaos and ended with a finely differentiated and beautiful universe. Housework is all about bringing order out of chaos. That heap of damply repulsive clothes on the bathroom floor turns into stacks of neatly folded clean laundry in a matter of hours; a dining table piled high with junk mail, school papers, and forgotten socks turns into a table neatly set for a meal; a sack of potatoes, properly peeled, boiled, riced, and seasoned, turns into a dish of mashed potatoes that the individuals assembled around the table are happy to eat."
--Keeping House, The Litany of Everyday Life, by Margaret Kim Peterson, p. 38

I'm continuing to enjoy Keeping House. As someone who was raised in a Christian home, with a mother who stayed home and kept the house, and for whom that was my own dream, I do not snub my nose at "just" staying home. But this book is full of wisdom and grace and drawing together the spiritual with the everyday. It's simply beautiful to look at my homemaking through a slightly different lens. (And this book is truly applicable to anyone, whether "stay at home" or working mom, wife, mother, single, college student, etc.)

Friday, February 20, 2015

52 Projects (Project 6)

When I saw this washcloth tutorial/pattern, I knew I had to make it. I dug through my yarn and pulled out some bamboo yarn (solid pink). It worked up fast and feels so lovely. I immediately wanted to make more. Since we were going to Meijer that same night, I bought a skein of cotton yarn.

I got two washcloths from the one skein. I got to the end of the second one and had three rows left and no yarn to knit with. So I did the reasonable thing and bought more yarn pulled it out and started over. The second one is a little smaller - I started with 13 stitches instead of 14, and followed the pattern with the same number of increases, but adjusted the number of stitches after the yarn over (7, 6, 5, and 4).

As you can see, the join is visible. I do feel that for something as utilitarian as a washcloth, it's ok. But going forward, I plan to do a provisional cast on and a kitchener stitch to close them. It will make the seam invisible.

With a bar of soap, these seem like a lovely gift. There will be more of these coming from my needles!

I gave the solid pink one to my daughter. She was very excited to have a "special washcloth". :-)

Cost: $0 for the bamboo from my stash, $1.90 for the cotton yarn
Running Cost: $10.29

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Today's agenda:

not necessarily in that order, probably all intertwined with one another...

The laundry that I got caught up on last week has piled up again, and so I find myself in the same position as last week - lugging baskets of laundry up and down the stairs, switching load after load from washer to dryer to basket to drawers.

I found this encouraging this morning; it brings my household tasks from the mundane to the spiritual:

..." 'for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me...Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' 
"There is a tendency, I think, on the part of those of us who are well fed, clothed, and housed to imagine that the needy people to whom Jesus refers in Matthew 25 are people we don't know--the sort of people who are served at homeless shelters and soup kitchens, at which we ought therefore to volunteer at least occasionally. But housework is all about feeding and clothing and sheltering people who, in the absence of all that daily work, would otherwise be hungry and ill-clad and ill-housed.
"There is undoubtedly more to the merciful service that Jesus describes in Matthew 25 than caring for the daily needs of the members of our own households. Housework is a beginning, not an end. But it is a beginning--not a sidetrack, not a distraction, but a beginning, and an essential one at that--in the properly Christian work of, among other things, meeting the everyday needs of others, whether those be our fellow household members, our near neighbors, or people more sociologically or geographically distant from ourselves."

(from Keeping House, The Litany of Everyday Life by Margaret Kim Peterson)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

52 Projects (Project 5)

The weather here is typical for February but I seem to forget about February's brutality, until February rolls around again. Then I rush from the house to the car, muttering, "I hate winter, I hate Michigan." Both of which are not true, but in February it feels true and so I sometimes say it. Under my breath.

Two weeks ago, our evening church services were canceled due to a blizzard, and so I had a whole afternoon and evening ahead of me. I started rummaging through my fabric bins, and decided to make a skirt for my daughter. My daughter pulled out a one-yard length of very bright yellow polka-dots, and that was her choice. Serendipitously I had scraps from a vintage pillowcase that contrasted perfectly. Those became the waistband and pockets, and I used lime green bias tape for the hem. I think it helped tone down the yellow a bit. I had everything on hand, including elastic, to make this.

I centered pockets on the side seams. I was so tempted to just make a simple patch pocket, and be done, but I took the time to make a cuter pocket, and I'm so glad I did!

I do have several patterns for skirts, but I didn't use a pattern this time around. I love the way it turned out, and the springiness of it gives me hope that spring is indeed coming! I finished this up yesterday afternoon, when I finally had a little time to devote to sewing.

Cost: $0
Running Cost: $8.39

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Snickerdoodles for Two

Snickerdoodles (for Two): a very good idea.

Once I saw this recipe and I couldn't get it out of my mind! I whipped them up this afternoon, and it broke up the monotony of a cold and snowy home-bound day. It also brought stars to my daughters eyes as she dreamily proclaimed me a loving mother.

I made four (humongous) cookies. I can't imagine how huge only two cookies would be. I'm glad for the small batch, cookies are hard to stay out of!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

52 Projects (Project 4)

Last year I started an afghan for my daughter. At the end of the year I only had about 1/3 of it finished.

I decided to make this one of my 52 projects. As it grew it made a cozy project! I found an hour here and there to devote to this afghan and slowly but surely it got closer to being done. Finally, on Sunday I deemed it long enough, and finished it off with a single crochet edge.

All the work I did was totally worth it to see the light in my daughter's eyes when she found out it was finished! She is so excited about her afghan, and has been sleeping with it, playing with it, and she even took it to Classical Conversations for her presentation! She says, "Now I have my OWN afghan, just like yours, Mommy!"

I already had the yarn for this project since I purchased it last year. I did need to buy more of the dark purple and lavender, since I ran out of both. I had a $5 mperks reward that I used toward the two skeins. Out of pocket, I paid only $.40.

Cost: $.40
Running Total: $8.39
Moral of the Crafting Story: Finish projects that you've already invested in!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review (Dinner: the Playbook)

I love to read cookbooks. Not the 800-page tomes, but the personable cookbooks that have a story for every recipe, or at least a good bit to read before you start cooking.

I picked up Dinner: the Playbook from my library recently and settled in to read it. It was a good read. I can't comment on the recipes, which look fabulous, because I haven't actually cooked anything yet....

What I liked:
Obviously, the portion that was more story-form than cookbook-form.
That each recipe has a picture.
Most recipes have suggested sides (and recipes for a lot of the sides suggested) so you aren't left wondering what else to make for dinner.
The ideas for making dinner less stressful.
Simple recipes (most everything looks like it will come together quickly, which is nice for a busy family).
The recipes are rather healthy looking, and most of the ingredients aren't too expensive. They do range in price though.

What I didn't like:
The author included three recipes for pizza and called for refrigerated bread dough (purchased) or if you want to make your own dough she linked to her blog for the recipe. I thought she should have put the recipe in the book, it seemed simple enough to include. But it's also simple enough to look up online so I suppose it isn't that terrible of a complaint.
Also, this is a book that will not stay open on its own.

A recipe I'd like to try.

The author and her husband didn't start having family dinners with their two children until they were 3 and 4 years old. So, as one might imagine, there was quite a fuss over eating "real" food (rather than hot dogs and fish sticks, I guess).

Since we've always had our daughter eat dinner with us (and the dinners are not hot dogs or fish sticks, gross...), I couldn't really relate to the concept of introducing your kids to the idea of family dinner. I am very thankful for my daughter's palate! She is quite open to new foods and will eat most anything with gusto (but she's still a kid so sometimes kid-speak leaves her mouth. Like, "this is the most horrible thing I've ever had!!!!!" LOL). She says she is picky about crusts, because apparently she needs something to be picky about so she picked bread crusts. I'm good with that. She'll eat almost any vegetable without complaint and will eat almost anything we have for dinner. As an example, I've never made kale before and I decided to try it last week. I made kale sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes and she gave it a two thumbs up (literally).

There are some recipes in the book I'd like to try out, but haven't taken the time yet. If I owned the book, I'd probably make about half of them over time.

This post contains an affiliate link.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

52 Projects (Project 3)

Making time for the hobbies I like can be difficult for me. So that's why I decided to set a goal of completing 52 projects in 2015. I think it is totally doable!

I worked on my 3rd project all last weekend. Because it was a gift for a friend (who probably doesn't read my blog, but I didn't want to chance it), I am not posting until after the gift has been opened!
I made three baby gowns as a gift for my friend's shower. She's having a BOY so I asked her husband for two or three t-shirts so I could make some gowns from them. He gave me two {very loved} t-shirts. I've made these gowns as gifts before, see here and here.

The three I made this go-around:

A gray Michigan shirt, with a navy shirt for contrast. The front of the shirt had a lot of stains on it so I had to cut around those, and was left with the logo.

An Old Navy shirt. Funny thing about this is that the logo on the sleeve was the logo from the front of the shirt. I didn't have enough usable fabric from the t-shirt to make the body of the gown, so I bought a contrasting gray shirt. When I was making it up, I felt like the front needed something else. So I cut the logo that had been on the sleeve and sewed it to the front of the gown.

I wanted to give three gowns, so I purchased another Michigan shirt as well as a contrasting yellow shirt. I was looking for a shirt with a smaller logo but this was all that I could find! Because it was so wide, I used it for the bottom portion of the gown.

All three (the yellow below is closer to what it looks like in person):

One thing I debated about was that since this is a gift, should I share the cost? I decided to go ahead and post the cost. One of my reasons for having this 52 projects challenge for myself is that I often just do not have money to go out and have fun with Pinterest-inspired crafts. But I wanted to get creative and see how far my money can go this year! So, possibly for the encouragement to someone else, I'd like to share that lack of money doesn't mean the lack of a nice gift! :-)

I had to purchase four t-shirts for this project. For the four shirts, plus a spool of thread, I spent $5.46. 

Cost: $5.46
Running Cost: $7.99

Monday, January 19, 2015

Handmade, With Love

I was going back through my blog for some information, and came across this post with the following picture, which made me smile. All that handmade goodness in one picture!

A quilted coaster, knitted socks, crocheted afghan, crocheted pumpkins all made by me; and even someone else's handiwork: a crocheted doily I bought at a yard sale!