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!

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.