I have moved the posts from this WordPress hosted blog back to my main blog at http://linuxchic.net. Please feel free to visit, subscribe to the RSS feed, and leave a comment to say hi! We are embarking on a new adventure and I will continue to update everyone from there!
Moved back to the main blog 08/02/2009
Mending Month 03/24/2009
It is mending month at Craft Magazine and I have used that as an excuse to get all my mending done at home. Kids can really tear through their clothes and while I try to fix simple things I usually don’t go all out with big tears and wardrobe malfunctions. However, since the economy is pretty cruddy, I thought I would brush off my sewing skills and start really fixing everything I possibly can.
Today, I patched my jeans while wearing them using an upholstery needle. I like a challenge. It’s not the best stitching ever, but it gets the job done. If you have never used an upholstery needle, it is curved to allow you to stitch and patch in places that you can’t get a needle in behind the fabric – like a cushion or the side of the couch or in my case, my jeans since I actually have them on. One pair of jeans saved thanks to a simple patch. YAY! Now for the pictures to show you the patching process as well as the finished result:
If you want to get creative, you can stencil a design on fabric and make your patch a designer work of art like I did with these pants:
Embellishments for Decorative Dish Cloths 03/22/2009
This tutorial will show you how to dress up a plain white flour sack dish cloth. I picked up four cloths at Deal’s scoring each two pack for only a dollar. For the embellishments I used fabric paint and fabric from Hobby Lobby. The fabric cost a few dollars because I didn’t need very much of it and the fabric paint was just a dollar each. I am using orange and blue paint and the paint is a matte finish as I didn’t think shiny would be the best in the kitchen.
I am using fabric in cordinating colors – one striped and one polka dotted. This will give me to sets of cordinating (but not matchy matchy) towels to give as gifts.
First you need to measure and cut your fabric. To figure out how long I needed the fabric to be I ironed then layed out the towels to find the length. Add 1/2 inch to this measurement for folding over the raw edges of your contrasting fabric. After you know how long your fabric stripe is going to be you need to figure out how wide. I made mine 4 inches wide when finished so do make it the same measure 4 1/2 inches so that you have enough fabric to fold over the raw edges.
When sewing, your iron is your best friend.
Once you have cut out your fabric, iron under the raw edges on the long sides – 1/4 inch on each side.
When you have finished that, fold under and iron the raw edges from the short sides.
Layout your flour sack towel and lay your stripe out on it. Get it positioned where you want it to be then pin it to the towel. Top stitch the fabric to the towel. I did horizontal stitching only and did not go vertically up the sides. When you are done, trim your threads and repeat with the next towel.
These towels are 100% prettier with the fabric added but I wanted a little more interest. I am using matte fabric paint – blue and orange for these – to stamp birds just above the added fabric. To make the stamps I used the printables from Craft Magazine and two sponges. I traced the pattern of one of the birds onto a sponge and then used an Exacto knife to cut it out. I squirted some paint onto a paper plate, dipped the sponge stamp into it and then placed it onto the towel.
Make sure you cover the surface under your towel where you will be painting. I used wax paper for easy cleanup.
Sometimes the sponge leaves the paint with gaps or holes on the impression so I just used a paint brush to smooth out bumps, globs, and imprefections.
When you have added all the painted details you want to your towel, allow to dry as the paint instructions indicate. When it has cured you will have a unique and impressive gift for family and friends, or you can keep them for your own kitchen!
If you are feeling extra crafty, you can use any extra or left over paint to stamp paper to make cordinating custom gift wrap!
Made It (Make It) Monday – Winter Berry Jam 02/09/2009
- 18 oz of frozen mixed berries
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Thaw, rinse, & drain berries.
- Place a saucer in the freezer for later.
- Combine berries, sugar, and lemon juice in bowl and mix well. Leave out at room temp. stirring occasionally for two hours.
- Transfer mixture to saucepan & bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to prevent burning.
- Mash to thick puree then reduce to medium heat and gently boil for about 20 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken & stirring often.
- Remove from heat to test jam for gelling point. Drop a teaspoon full onto the saucer from the freezer and place back into the freezer for about a minute. Test by pushing the jam with your finger. If it is ready, it will wrinkle on the surface. Cook a few minutes longer if it fails to do this and test again until it gels.
- When ready, ladle jam into a clean jar. Place in refrigerator when cool. Jam will last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Frugal Friday – Books for a few bucks! 02/06/2009
I am a book junkie and it is an expensive habit so I tend to chose wisely and pick only books that will be the most beneficial for the household as a permanent addition to our library. A few times a year tho I splurge on a whole box of books but the reason I can do this with a clear conscious is that I manage to get them for the cost of only one or two books at a large retail bookseller.
BookCloseouts.com has overstock, scratch and dent, and publisher returns for pennies on the dollar of retail book stores. I have never gotten a book in bad condition from them (I have been buying books from them for years) and am more than happy with their prices. This is also a great way to grab books for your homeschooling library.
For the next few days they are having a 50% all crafts and hobbies titles. I picked up 13 books for under $40 to add to my crafting library. You can save even more with coupon codes! I found that both of these worked:
Save $10 off any order of $65 or more:
Save $5 off any order of $35 or more:
If you use the following link to head over to BookCloseouts.com I would appreciate it. It is my affiliate link and I earn 20% in store credit from all purchases people make from this referrer.
Check out what others are doing for Frugal Friday at Biblical Womanhood.
Tackle It Tuesday – The Linen Closet 01/27/2009
I love a simple project – so why in the world did I put off the linen closet for so long?! It had come to the point that I loathed getting into it because I couldn’t find anything and everything was just jumbled all around. This project took less than an hour and I feel like I really accomplished something.
- I refolded all the linens because they were so jumbled and messy that they had lost their folds.
- I sorted sheet sets by size so I can easily find what I am looking for. It is easy to get the sets separated in a house with children. Kids wake up in the middle of the night ill or with an accident and if you are like me at 3am all you are thinking about is getting back to sleep. You pull the things out of the closet that you need to swap on their bed and in a day or so when you have laundered and reassembled their bed you have miss matched pieces to put away. I had just been shoving them into the closet just any old where and that is what led to my downfall.
- I put all orphaned pillowcases that no longer have sheets in a pile by themselves. I really don’t think I need 14 backup pillowcases for emergencies so I might use some of these for more Charlie bags. It would be fun to have Harry Potter and Monsters Inc. shopping bags!
- Although my youngest is now four years old, I am still not ready to part with the crib sized blankets because she still uses them to cuddle up with on the couch or to have a carpet picnic. I did purge all the crib sheets.
- The Boppy nursing pillow is never going away, I still use it when I have a neckache and the kids use it to prop up on to watch TV.
- At the bottom of the closet are pillow shams, curtains, and a few odds and ends that aren’t in use in the bedrooms but match the sets in them.
It feels great to get this closet straightened up, I feel kind of sheepish and silly that it took me so long to do it. Since I cleaned up everything in the closet I had room to move all the blankets I had in a giant storage tub in the hallway back into the closet. With no more unsightly storage tub in the hallway it gives me one less place to toss junk on top of.
I have never been one for New Year’s resolutions because I don’t think you should only reflect on making changes once a year – especially at the most crazy and stressed out time of year. Oh, and let’s not forget to mention that by the time gathered people bring up the discussions of New Year’s resolutions it is usually during a New Year’s Eve party and everyone is intoxicated. If I am going to implement a life changing resolution, I think I should probably be sober and coherent.
With that said, I have decided on focusing on something I have been putting off making real commitment too for the last several years – sustainability. Sure I have made a few changes here and there but as for constant change and a major shifting of thought I just keep making the excuse that I will start once I get that Earth home/passive home/solar home… that I plan on obtaining in the next few years. It’s been two years since we started planning for a sustaining/low imprint/off the grid as much as possible home and while we are closer to making it a reality, it’s still a ways off.
If you think about it, moving is stressful. There is the packing, the financing, the transfers of kids, schools, activities, utilities, mail, routines, and moving your actual stuff. When it comes to unpacking it can take me over a year to find the right place for everything and even if I do a purge of stuff before moving, there is always a purge after. Knick-knacks don’t work in every house, curtains don’t fit or go with the design of the architecture and so on. Why would I add to the stress of all that by totally changing what I do and how I do it? Conclusion: It would be healthier for my family, myself, and my environment if I develop new habits RIGHT NOW.
So here we go, 2009 is my year of sustainability. It’s about finding new and improved ways to do old things. It’s about developing healthy habits that are environmentally friendly, financially friendly, and most importantly self-sustaining. (Let me clarify at least on definition before I get started. When I say local, I mean made or grown as close to my community as possible, not just that the shop that sells it is local.)
Top things on my list are:
- Reduce our footprint. This means continuing purging things we don’t need, not buying more cheap crud that will only need to be replaced in a few years because it falls apart, replanting our garden every spring to fill our bellies with fresh veggies and using cloth napkins and towels instead of paper. I think I will find more and more ways to stop using so many disposable things as this becomes more of a habit.
- Shopping for food locally. I already hate Wal-Mart, Price Chopper, and Hy-Vee which are the chains that are close to my home. This is going to take research and perhaps some networking with other families and moms but I think once I find one or two locations I will find the people who will know where more are.
- Shopping for supplies locally. Again, I hate Wal-Mart and all their stuff is cheap and crummy anyway. This should also help to reduce our waste (smaller footprint!!) since if we can’t find it locally (at least in a local shop) do we really need it? We probably need less than we think we do.
- Just because it is cheap or free DOESN’T mean I should bring it home. There some great sites and some lovely bloggers who tell you all about all the deals of the week, from Walgreen’s to CVS. Included on their lists are how to get products for free plus overages to buy other things. I did this religiously for a few months and ended up wasting 6 precious hours of every Sunday compiling my lists and shopping plus I still have a closet full of toothpaste I bought a year ago. Normally a toothpaste stockpile wouldn’t bother me because it will get used up eventually in a household of six people, but I swear it is the worst toothpaste ever and I had no problem throwing it into a donations collection container. It is better than nothing but I will never pay money for it and my family actually had their dental health decline since using this awful stuff. Now I watch the deals and check the sites and only get the stuff that is worthwhile, even if it means loosing a freebie and the extra overage cash. More is not always better.
- Shopping Goodwill more often for the kids clothes (and just not telling them where I got it if I have to). The teens are appalled at the idea of shopping Goodwill for clothing so I will just do it the sneaky way and wash it before I show it to them and not tell them where I got it. I wash all their new clothes before they wear them as it is so no harm no foul. I am already a big fan of thrift shops for my clothing and furniture needs.
- Last but not least, personal sustainability. I refuse to let other moms get to me. I don’t fit in with most working moms I know because I am not a convenience person and I sew, knit, approve homeschooling, loathe daycare, don’t care so much about trendy work clothes (and manicures and hairdos and lunches…), popular labels and so on. I don’t fit in with most stay at home moms I know because I work which means I only have limited hours I am available to do things such as after 10pm on weeknights and my weekends are spent running errands. I am getting to the age where approval of my peers really isn’t as important to me as it used to be. I feel well rounded and I am open to improving my personal, wife, and mothering skills on an as needed basis and I would rather spend my energy improving myself and being happy then seeking approval. Who needs that kind of stress anyway? Let’s support each other and celebrate our differences ladies! The Internet has let me find the groups of people I have things in common with (local & distant) so I can let go of those I don’t.
There is the start of my list, and the start of my year. Wish me luck. Please feel free to share any links or tips you have that might help me acheive my goal!