Saturday, July 11, 2015

52 Projects (Project 17)

Years ago, my sister gave me some gorgeous baby alpaca yarn. I didn't know what to make with it, but I thought I might want a bigger project than just the one skein, so I bought another skein. And then I still didn't know what to do with it so I did nothing. A few years ago, I used a very small amount to make a headband.

I've been in kind of a "use it or lose it" mode related to my craft and sewing supplies, so I decided to make a simple cowl with this yarn. I used size 13 needles and knit back and forth in garter stitch until the yarn ran out. Then I bound off and sewed the ends together.

Something very simple, but the end result is a cowl I can wear in either one loop:

or two:

I love this. It's soft, cozy, and warm. It worked out that the length is just perfect. But. I feel so lost with my knitting. I have been knitting, more or less, for over 10 years (about 12, actually). And this is all I can do with beautiful yarn? I just haven't been challenging myself. So I went through my yarn, pulled out some lace yarn I bought many years ago, bought this pattern, and the needles necessary to knit it. And cast on:

It will be a while before this is finished! But I am happy that I'm challenging myself!

As for the cowl, I will enjoy its warmth this winter! And of course, since I had the yarn and the needles, the cost was $0!

Cost: $0
Running Total: $43.55

Friday, July 10, 2015

I am not a Pancake Mom

I am not a Pancake Mom. I'm not into bento boxes and cutesy food that takes five times as long to design as it does to eat. (Design? Who has time to design food??? Unless you are a chef and that is your job?) I am more along the lines of, "There's food on your plate. Stop complaining and start eating. There are children in this world who don't have food to eat today." Somehow, even though that logic was lost on me as a child, I am uttering the same words as my mother.

Pancakes are something that I just have trouble with, no matter what. But for some reason, I keep trying. This morning, the pancakes were flipping quite well, so I decided to play around a little bit. I figured if it didn't work I could eat or scrap them. But it worked:

 And brought a little smile to my daughter's face when she came to the table. She declared it a "work of art". (The bar is set low, thankfully! LOL)

Maybe I won't ever be a Pancake Mom, but a little trying now and then won't hurt anything either!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

52 Projects (Project 16)

Courtship Journal

So, um. Over fifteen years later, I've finally finished the journal I kept while Kevin and I were dating.

When Kevin and I started dating, my dad encouraged me to start a journal. So I did. I have always had a hard time opening a book and writing directly into it. I'm worried about messing up! misspelled words! leaving something out! so most of the journal was accomplished by writing on notebook paper and then copying it when I was happy with what I had written down. By the time we got married, I had a lot of filled notebook paper and a mostly empty journal. At the beginning of our marriage, I worked on it here and there but then at some point set it aside and forgot about it.

So in May I spent just over 2 hours copying. And now it is done!

I'm glad I wrote things down. I wrote things that I was writing because I experienced or felt them, not because I was worried I'd forget them. As I copied my own writings into the journal, it felt a little funny because I had completely forgotten so many of the events and emotions of that time frame. It felt like I was copying someone else's writings, but no, it was my own handwriting.

These days, I keep a One Line a Day journal. That's more my speed. I keep it current - no notebook pages filled with writing to copy! :-) I've got 2 1/2 years worth of journaling in one convenient little book.

Cost: $0
Running Total: $43.55

PS Apparently "journaling" isn't a word. What word or words would you use in its place?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Canning Notes: Apricots

Apricots hit the grocery store earlier this month, and they were so good! I wanted to do something more than just eat them! So I scoured Pinterest and came up with these three ideas:

:::Apricot Salsa (eaten fresh, not canned)
I used my Pampered Chef food chopper to cut everything. It ended up being very spicy because I didn't seed the jalepeno, and very garlicky. It was also very delicious. I added a purple onion for texture and color. Yum.

:::Apricot Preserves
My goal is to use much less sugar in my fruit preservation. So when I found this jam recipe using only honey and no pectin, I was intrigued. Would it be sweet enough? Turns out, the answer was "no". I didn't want to add more honey, because it was quite tart and I wanted the overall flavor to be apricots, not honey. So I added 2 cups of sugar. I also added a vanilla bean for a subtle vanilla flavor. I got three half-pints.

:::Apricot Halves in Honey Syrup
I let the apricots ripen on the counter just a little more before moving to my next project. I got 3 pints of apricot halves. They look so beautiful in the jars! We haven't tasted them yet, so I'm hoping that they will be sweet enough! I referenced my Ball preserving book and the time for cold-packed apricots was 25 minutes, so I increased the time from linked recipe from 10 minutes to 25 minutes. They still look quite firm in the jar.

And there you have it! I purchased about 8 pounds of apricots from my grocery store for these three recipes. I haven't really looked to the grocery store for my canning projects before, especially with fruit, but the apricots were just begging to be put up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Happy Things

I am in the midst of a summer cold (decidedly not happy!) so yesterday I took my camera around and took a few pictures of things that do make me happy!

I found this at Kohl's. I am excited about it and when I feel better I'm going to haul out the ladder and hang it in my kitchen.

In spite of not feeling well, yesterday I did quite a lot of housework. When I finished cleaning the bathroom, my daughter and I went outside and picked some flowers to put on the counter. 

My Asiatic lilies are blooming! I love them! And they are multiplying like crazy!

Our side garden is doing so well this year!

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Sewing with Children (Sewing Buttons)

This is such a simple sewing project, but it was fun for my daughter! I had some really large buttons left over from the shrug I made last year. I put some fabric in a hoop, and taught my daughter to sew buttons.

She was eager for me to leave her to her own designs (ie, do things her way ;-) ), and happily sewed for at least a half hour, if not longer. She picked out different colors of thread and I helped her by threading the needle and tying knots, but otherwise this was something that she did entirely on her own.

These buttons were perfect for little fingers! They are over an inch wide, and the holes are nice and large, making it very easy to find the button holes from the bottom of the fabric. This is something I did when I was little. I'm sure that my daughter would enjoy digging through my button collection to add more buttons to her fabric!

Friday, June 05, 2015

52 Projects (Project 15)

"hello" sign

I've been wanting something new to put up on the front porch by the door. After I painted my tray, I thought of using a frame and making a banner to hang in it.

For some reason, we have a lot of frames down in the basement. I don't recall ever having 20 pictures all hanging up in our house, but I guess it is possible. I think we just bought a new frame every time we got a new picture. But why, I'm not sure. So anyhow, old frame = free. I bought the pennants and yellow paint from Hobby Lobby. The twine is from a spool Kevin uses in the garden.

I started out with four pennants, and had to go back and paint another pennant. Clearly, "hello" without an "o" would not make an inviting sign for the front door.

The pennants are made of chip board, so they are sturdyish. I was able to use a hole punch to punch the holes. Initially I thought I'd have to drill the holes but the drill actually tore them up.

I've had the frame painted with the "hello" pennant attached for a few weeks, but I just wasn't satisfied with it. My sister suggested burlap or fabric behind the frame, and I mulled on that for awhile. I finally came up with the idea to put a piece of vintage sheet behind it. And now I'm happy with it!

Cost: $2.70
Running Cost: $43.55

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


Today Kevin and I are celebrating fifteen years of marriage. I feel so incredibly blessed to have spent the last fifteen years of my life as Kevin's wife.

Monday, May 18, 2015

52 Projects (Project 14)

Two years ago, I spray painted and refinished the bench on my front porch, and shortly afterward, I spray painted a plant stand (which I had) and a table (a $5 yard sale find). The black spray paint and the same stain on the bench and table pulled everything together. I wanted to add a splash of color to the table, so I thought a tray would look pretty on it.

I found this tray at Goodwill:

It was $1.49, but I had a 25% off coupon, making it just $1.19 with tax.

I purchased spray paint and a spray grip from Menards for $5.78. Let me tell you, the spray grip was worth every penny ($2.50 + tax). It slips right over the spray paint can and you squeeze instead of push. And of course, it's reusable, so any time I have a spray painting project I will be sure to use this!

And now I have a lovely tray, perfect for my outdoor table!

Cost: $6.96
Running Total: $40.85

Saturday, May 16, 2015

52 Projects (Project 13)

the baby book

This turned out to be quite a project. I knew it would be, which is why I have procrastinated so long on its completion! I worked on it in little chunks of time over the last few weeks, and finally finished it up this week! In the beginning, I had a long list of pages that had details missing, facts to find, and pictures to print.

To dress it up a little, I got some washi tape that matched the Winnie the Pooh scheme, and some vintage Winnie the Pooh stickers that go along with the book. They aren't the Classic Pooh like the book, but I thought they added a nice touch.

The pictures are all printed and in, the information all written down. Let me tell you, this project was long overdue and I'm quite relieved to have it done!

The thing that prompted me to start this project was getting an mPerks coupon for 10 free photo prints! I ended up using eleven prints in this book, so I only had to pay for the one extra.

Cost: $4.66 (scrapbooking glue tape, stickers, washi tape, and photo print)
Running Cost: $33.89

Friday, May 15, 2015

What to do (or Not) When You're in a Cooking Slump

Monday: have an evening appointment that ensures you leave the house at 4:30 but that you don't arrive home until 6:30. Then your husband can "take care" of dinner (ie, grab fast food) with your daughter.

Tuesday: put off even thinking about dinner by cleaning the living room and vacuuming the house. Get so hungry from all the work that you decide to just get a pizza from Little Caesars and call it a night.

Wednesday: when it comes time to make dinner, putter around the kitchen. Fill the salt shaker. Do the dishes. Open and shut All The Things that open and shut to see if anything new materializes (oddly, it doesn't). Finally, cook the last little bit of white rice that is left in the cupboard and use the fifteen minute cooking time to think of something else to go with it. Settle on scrambled eggs with leftover sauteed vegetables. 

Thursday: on the way home from church last night, your husband announced that he would take care of dinner. What that really means is that someone gave him steak, and that he needs you to make the rest of the dinner. Break down and write a menu for the remaining days of the week and a shopping list to go with it. Take your daughter out for bagels for breakfast because yesterday you had eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you can't stomach the thought of having them for breakfast today.

Even though you went shopping early in the day, come up with an errand to run right when you should be scrubbing potatoes to throw in the oven. Then you can come home from your errand and wait a bit to get those potatoes ready, so that dinner can be at 7 pm. 

Friday: have impromptu company, and be excited about cooking dinner for the first time all week. Be glad that shopping was done yesterday and that you actually have something to prepare! Think to yourself that your cooking slump is finally had better be over, and hope that next week goes much, much better!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

52 Projects (Project 12)

I have wanted to make crocheted river rocks for a long time now. They just look so pretty and add a touch of whimsy to a tabletop scene.

The area beside our garage and our neighbor's yard is filled with rocks, so finding a rock (or three) was plenty easy.

I looked and looked at patterns and then I decided to just start crocheting. Something you might not know about me: when I was a teenager, I sat and crocheted and designed doily patterns and sent them off to Leisure Arts. I got nice rejection letters from them, but nothing ever came of my doily designing days. So anyhow, my crocheting knowledge came to play in making these little rocks. I did use a pattern for the springboard of one rock but didn't follow it completely.

I know my daughter and knew that these little sweater vests must not be removable. So I completely closed them in. That way they wouldn't turn into bear ear muffs or Barbie hats. Or flushed down the toilet. Whatever. Stuff like that happens around our house and I didn't want to have to monitor crocheted rocks. Because, really. It's kind of ridiculous enough that I even made these in the first place.

But I love them. I am stopping myself from crocheting All The Rocks. Three is enough. For now.

Cost: $0
Running Cost: $29.23 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

Fed Up (available on DVD from Amazon)
(Affiliate link)
When the movie Fed Up came out, I knew it was one I wanted to watch. I recently got it from our library, and Kevin and I watched it last night.

Let me tell you, it was really eye-opening for me. I try to be very conscious about what we eat. I read labels almost religiously (or I thought I did). I make almost everything from scratch.

The movie focuses on 1) the government's control of the food industry (specifically school lunches but also the USDA) and 2) the food industry's control over the government. It's a vicious cycle! Also of note is the fact that people really have no clue what constitutes a "healthy" meal or food choice.

This morning, I looked at the yogurt in my refrigerator. The organic yogurt. The "healthy" yogurt. The yogurt with 29g of sugar per (1 cup) serving.

While I have studiously avoided foods high in sugar, I haven't educated myself on what constitutes "high in sugar". Obviously, ice cream, cookies, sweet snack foods, sugary breakfast cereals...those are going to be on the "high in sugar" list.

So first, I looked up the WHO's recommendation for the limit of added sugar per day. They recommend (for an adult) only 5% of one's daily calories, or 25g.


There's more sugar in one cup of yogurt than the recommended daily limit. (WHO recently cut their recommendation in half from 10% to 5% and incidentally in Fed Up it was stated that the in order to protect the sugar industry, the US government strong-armed the WHO to not publish the report stating the 10% figure.)

So then, to compare one dairy product to another, I looked online at Breyer's vanilla ice cream. The sugar for one serving (1/2 cup) is 14g. So cup for cup, the sugar content is almost identical between the two. I expected the ice cream to be much higher in sugar than the yogurt!

Do you see the percentage of daily recommended amount missing by the sugar? You won't find that information on labels! (Also missing, is the information on added sugar vs. naturally-occurring sugar which makes it extremely hard to even calculate how many grams of added sugar you are eating per day; I did write this company and they said about only half of the sugar was added )

This was just yogurt. I'm on the hunt to remove added sugar from our diet! Hint: it's in almost anything you pull from the grocery shelves!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

52 Projects (Project 11)

Last Saturday, I got the fabric for this t-shirt at Hobby Lobby. It's always nerve-wracking to sew for myself because I never know if the garment is going to fit well until I get it cut and mostly sewn. And with this case, a free pattern only available in one size, I was worried that it would be completely the wrong size. 

So, I got the least expensive fabric I could find, to make a wearable muslin. I made it on Wednesday, and wore it today.

Not that it's my goal to receive compliments (!) but I was on the happy end of about 10 compliments, from a 5-year old all the way up to an 80-something-year old. 

Now, because it is a little looser around the hips I was worried about looking pregnant. All was well, until the end of the service and someone asked me point blank if I were pregnant. "Because," she said, "I seen [sic] you wear a tight shirt last week and now you're wearing a loose top this week, so I thought maybe you were pregnant."

No. See? Do I look pregnant? Can I not wear a looser shirt???

Who am I? Lucy? Oh! I'm expecting! I'd better find the tent section!!!


That aside, I would like to make another shirt out of this pattern. I might make a few alterations to the pattern before cutting it out, but overall, I like the way it turned out. It was a fun, rather quick sew.

Cost: $9.81
Running Cost: $29.23

Saturday, April 04, 2015

And: More Canning!

I got a box of Zaycon chicken and decided to can some of it. I put a canner load in (9 pints) of raw packed chicken. I didn't want to do more than one load because I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it looks like it turned out well! We'll see how it tastes!

Also, I canned 9 pints of white chicken chili. Seriously, when you have 40 pounds of chicken and have only dealt with about 15, the best possible thing you can do is make something that takes up your entire morning but only 1 1/2 pounds of the remaining 25 pounds. (There's a little sarcasm in there, in case you couldn't tell.)

I'm keeping track of my jar count again, there's already a "Food '15" page up above! Twenty-five jars so far! Woohoo!