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!

Friday, April 03, 2015

52 Projects (Project 10)

Shirred (When is) Spring (Ever Arriving) Scarf

Shhh, I've fallen a little behind in my projects! I've been busy lately with school and my husband working longer hours. So, no projects. I have projects I've looked at, and in fact I have a pattern envelope sitting by my laptop just now, but I haven't had much motivation to do things in the late evening.

Last Friday I cut out a piece of fabric to make this shirred scarf. Saturday afternoon I sat down and sewed elastic lines back and forth, back and forth. It helped redirect my I'm-allergic-to-this-dog-whatever-did-we-get-ourselves-into thoughts and eased some of the stress of the day.

Shirring is fun and easy, and the results look fancy. A lot of sewists mistakenly call this "smocking" (including the tutorial I linked to). Smocking looks fancy because it is fancy. It is the result of a lot of tucks and stitches, and it isn't stretchy like shirring is.

I'm looking forward to wearing this in warmer weather. Last Sunday it was snowing. So when the sun is shining and actually making things warm, I will get a chance to wear this scarf!

Instead of hemming this scarf down the sides, I think it would look nice folded over and sewn down the side (to make a tube). That way there wouldn't be a "wrong" side.

I bought this gauze knit years ago, and I had the elastic thread for the shirring on hand.

Cost: $0
Running Cost: $19.42

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Things I Learned in March

Thing 1:

WHITE LIGHT, where have you been all my life?

My husband has typically purchased the light bulbs for our house. Not that I can't, it's just something he's done. And he's always purchased the same thing, which is what I would do too, if I were buying light bulbs. We needed a few bulbs, and so we all went to Home Depot for a fun night out on the town...the greeter stood and watched us as we looked at bulbs and compared them, talked about them, read the packaging, debated about which bulb to get, and then finally selected some bulbs...for about 10 minutes. What it came down to is that we have been living in a YELLOW HOUSE but no longer! We got white lights (the term is "daylight", what we had before is "soft light". Everything is so much brighter and natural looking. After we replaced the bulbs we were going to replace, Kevin ran out to get more. Then he had to go back to exchange the ones for the living room because they were too bright. Now we have white lighting and no more yellow, dim lighting (except in the bedrooms)! Some of them are even LED which means that supposedly they will last 15-20 years.

Thing 2:

I am a thinking introvert. Which is to say that sometimes it's hard for me to just shut off my mind (oh, it takes me forever to go to sleep some nights!), and I need a lot of thinking time. About a week ago I was feeling dragged out, and thus worrying about something being physically wrong. And then I realized that things have been kind of busy and I hadn't had much "thinking space". And then I came across this test and lo and behold it agreed with me.

Also, I've never really thought of myself as an introvert until I came across the description as someone who needs time alone to recharge vs. an extrovert being one who needs time with others to feel recharged. I always thought of introverts more like a hermit. I love to spend time with friends! But it does not re-energize me! If I'm feeling tired and in need of some rejuvenation the best thing I can do for myself is to take a notebook to a coffee shop and sit and write lists (ie, think!).

Thing 3:

I am allergic to dogs. Sadly, this dog in particular:

Happily, we found her a perfect home! A retired couple, the man with too much time on his hands. He'd been looking for a beagle for several months, he said, and he'd been on a list to get one, three different times. I think our Lucy dog found her forever home. And she will have a nice fenced yard to run around in.

We learned a lot through this process, besides the fact that I am allergic to dogs. We learned we aren't really dog people, and that our home is best with just the three of us. You never know unless you try, and we tried. It was a lot of upheaval to our home in a short amount of time but it was ultimately a learning experience. Since we weren't bound by a contract to return her to the shelter we got her from, we wanted to rehome her ourselves, so that she wouldn't have to go back to the shelter. I would have hated that for her.

(I'm linking up with Emily this month. Happy April!)

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!