Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Blog Post!

I kind of forgot I had a blog!

Life got interesting - and we're currently living in an apartment. In South Carolina! And we're buying a house here, and sold our house in Michigan. See? Interesting! Maybe one day I'll write up the story.

Most of our stuff, including most of my summer clothes, is in storage. At least, as much stuff as we could pack into a storage unit, is in storage. It is crazy the amount of stuff you suddenly realize you've collected when you go to pack it all up. A 2+ car garage plus a full basement equals a lot of storage room! And then suddenly we were moving and we'd sold so.much.stuff. and we still had a ton of stuff. It was fun. Fun, I tell you. (If seeing all your earthly possessions spread on your yard, your neighbor's yard, their driveway, and the street for FOUR HOURS while friends helped load your moving truck is FUN.)

So moving on (badumpsh)...we have a fairly small apartment, but we set up my sewing machine (there was no room in storage for it!). And I've been sewing!

A sundress I made out of a thrifted ladies sundress. It was under $4 for the dress, and I never could have purchased the fabric for that! This type of fabric (with the shirring on top) is on the expensive side. This dress has my daughter's pledge of love and adoration and she wore it for five days straight before I convinced her it needed washing.

These capris were not quite as successful in the love and adoration department. When my daughter has to gets to wear these, she says, "I wish there were no such thing as mom-made capris." And I think what a great use of money and time it was for me to sew them. You win some, you lose some.

And lastly, a receiving blanket and burp cloths for my sister who just had baby boy #3. The blanket is made of double gauze, which is perfect for a summer baby, and the burp cloths are made of flannel. I used 1 1/4 yard of the double gauze for the blanket, squared it up and hemmed it (though out of the wash it shrunk one way but not the other, so it doesn't look like a square). As random things are in storage (some of my patterns but not all of them, for example) I didn't have my standard burp cloth pattern, so I found this one. I like it better than the peanut shape, I think.

I have another dress cut out for my daughter, and I bought some yarn for a baby afghan for my sister (who is expecting baby girl #1 in October). And another sister just announced her first pregnancy due in January! So I'll be busy with gifts!

So there you go - a blog post! Happy day! :-)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Peppermint Swirl Dress

Before Christmas, I bought the pattern and material to make my daughter a Peppermint Swirl Dress. I saw the pattern and really liked it, and thought that I should make my daughter a twirly dress now, when she likes to wear clothes I make and twirl.

This dress is a time-sucker, to be sure! The end result is fun, but getting there wasn't always fun! Each "swirl" is made of two pattern pieces, which must be cut with the fabric right side up.

I had the dress bodice and skirt almost completed, and then I just kind of stopped. I made up my mind to get it done and so I did!

the back

The skirt is fuller than a full circle! Very twirlable!
My daughter loves it and now my sewing table is (mostly) cleared off! Sewing isn't inexpensive, but starting a project and leaving it till it is outgrown is definitely not very frugal!

Now, a few notes on the pattern. First of all, it is a digital pattern which requires printing and taping. These are so annoying to me. I know some people use almost all digital patterns but I do like the ease of the "Big Four". The pattern instructions were written fairly well. I ended up with too much fabric though, so their recommendation for yardage is way off. I made a few changes in the construction to make it neater on the inside (especially attaching the bodice to the skirt, I didn't want the seam exposed). I read through the sash instructions three or four times and never did understand what they wanted me to do. So I made a sash and sewed it into the side seam instead. Also, this is written as a "dress" pattern but truly it is a jumper that should be worn over a blouse or shirt! The neckline comes very low and the armholes are gaping as well. It's hard to see the neckline in my pictures, but when sewn at the seam allowance they gave it goes super low. It's a cute neckline! But not one that my daughter can wear as a "dress".  Also, another annoyance to me was the fact that there is a pattern for sleeves available - if you buy it separately!

In the end, I had fun (most of the time!) making this dress. I doubt I'll make it again though! The hem alone took me well over an hour! But my daughter loves this dress so it's a win!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Make Do and Mend

On Saturday I tackled my sewing chair that was full of mending and sewing projects! When I was growing up, my dad was the one that we kids gave broken odds and ends and toys to and he fixed them. In our house, I am the one that accumulates all the odds and ends to fix (sewing wise, anyhow!). My daughter throws things on my sewing table expecting the turnaround time to be much less than it usually ends up being. ;-)

So what did I fix?

:::Two pairs of jeans for my daughter. The bottom hems were raggy and she didn't want to wear them any more. Most of my daughter's clothes, including all her jeans, are given to her by friends (hand-me-downs). These were no exception. My "fix" for these was to simply zigzag over the edge in matching thread. It makes the frayed edge less noticeable and will extend the use of them. The hem on the second pair also needed stitching. I used matching thread, since I don't have pink topstitching thread.

This morning she thanked me for fixing the hems so while these are not "perfect" they will do just fine!

:::A towel. I turned it into a rag by stitching the very frayed edges together (right side together), and then zigzagging around the edge. This will extend the use of the towel by making it a little thicker but also it makes it noticeably a RAG which will not accidentally work itself back into the kitchen towel drawer.

I hate to admit how ridiculously PICKY I have been about my rags - throwing towels away and buying rags. No more! Silly me...

:::A Build-a-Bear ear bow. This is another thing that was thrown on my sewing table that I came across. The bow had come apart, but was still halfway attached to the elastic. I pulled the ribbon back into a bow and tacked it in a few places to keep it going.

:::My husband's slacks - he bought them new from a thrift store (they still had the new tags on them and were unhemmed) for $1. And then they fell into the abyss that is my sewing table. ;-) Hemming slacks is never my favorite thing to do but I got it done!

And there went my morning! That is why I put off mending! But it is a worthwhile venture because it makes things last and reduces trash (the rag, for instance). I'm glad I was able to get to those things.

Friday, February 12, 2016


I took Heather's Hibernate workshop this year. I've wanted to take it in the past, as enjoying winter is just not something I embrace. The workshop did not disappoint.

There were several projects I completed that I wanted to share:

a dishcloth knit out of thin cotton yarn, and two fuzzy yarn bowls

Our weather here is cold, cold, cold...I'm looking forward to spring but trying not to be anxious about it! Our winter has been so mild compared to past winters, I really can't complain (well, I can and I have complained...but I'm trying not to!)

Tonight: we're going to look at a bike for ME! Then I can go bike riding with my daughter! (When the roads are no longer snowy, of course! ;-) )

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Five Frugal Things, Dinner Edition

Several blogs I read do a "five frugal things" post, which I find interesting. So I thought I'd write one of my own.

During dinner prep tonight I did the following frugal things:

1) On Saturday I cleaned out my pantry shelves, and made a list of random things that I need to use up. One of those things was 3/4 cup of a wild rice mix. I was making rice and fish for dinner, so I mixed that rice with regular brown rice in order to have enough for dinner.
2) I sautéed some onions and garlic to go in the rice, and then thought I'd add a few vegetables that were still very edible but not very pretty looking: a few mushrooms, and some carrot sticks.
3) Mavis and her trash challenge has me thinking of reducing our own garbage output. So tonight I pulled out a bowl and collected anything compostable as I made dinner. We have a compost bin, but I haven't been using it over the winter. I'm going to start making that trek out to the compost - it will be that much less garbage to the curb!
4) I rescued a dilapidated lemon by juicing it and then adding it to homemade salad dressing, sprinkling it over the fish I was baking, and making a quart of lightly sweetened (with maple syrup) lemonade.
5) I peeled and sliced seven withered apples and made an apple crisp for dessert.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What I Learned in January

:::The New Year is not always glitter and gold. It's OK to start the New Year on a down beat, it doesn't mean that this is how the year will progress. I've had some things on my heart and mind and it just carried into the beginning of the year. Nothing "major"...just an unrest and "things" hard to put into words and/or things not really shareable in an online type of way.  It really bothered me at first to not be super duper excited about the New Year! Resolutions! Fresh starts! but really, it is OK and I am OK!

:::Just because someone you love 1) lived a long life and 2) is now in heaven and 3) is no longer in pain here on earth does not mean you will not miss them. The passing of my grandpa was harder than I ever thought it would be. I am, of course, happy for my grandpa beyond measure. But I am sad for me. I miss him and knowing I'll never see him here on earth or hear his "praise the Lord" until I reach heaven myself has just been difficult. He passed away on January 3rd. I don't normally call my parents on Sunday, but I called my parent's house and my dad answered. My grandpa had just passed away and he hadn't had time to notify me yet. Grandpa was 90 years old.

my grandpa and me three years ago, the last time I saw him
:::My daughter loves to do crafts! Someone gifted her some craft projets and she has been coloring and stitching up a storm! My next project to do with her will definitely be with fabric! Besides these little projects, she has also been making coasters with one of those weaving looms (the type with nylon loops). She loves to give the things she makes, so that has been an incentive for her to keep on making!

:::Computer issues are frustrating! My laptop died. Just...kaput. So Kevin bought me a new one. After a week or two of using that (and the hassles of transferring pictures and programs), that one went kaput. Seriously??? So Kevin bought me another one, and that one was a piece of trash. So then we went to Best Buy and came home with yet another computer. Here's the thing: at one time we had five laptops in the house! My old, old one. My old one, and the three new ones. We got the other two returned and now I'm settling into my new, new, new laptop. Haha. The thing is, I still don't have my pictures on this one. I need to get that figured out, but we have them all backed up. I don't like this "One Drive" thingymabob. I don't want my pictures in a cloud, I want them on my computer!

:::And lastly, I hate being cold. Oh wait. That's nothing new.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Projects 22 through 26

I've been having computer issues since November, thus my lack of posting. I have some project pictures to share from 2015.

Project 22

"Clay" ornaments

One afternoon I was at a friend's house and I made "clay" with baking soda, cornstarch, and water so we could make ornaments. All the pictures on Pinterest showed lovely examples of hand-crafted, beautifully finished ornaments. Maybe I did it wrong, but mine cracked as they dried (in a very low oven). Next time, I'll stick with a real modeling clay.

My daughter decorated them with markers and we hung them on the tree. So all was not lost. Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand, so it didn't cost anything (extra).

Project 23

Granny Shawl

Blog readers may recognize these colors, as I used this very same yarn to crochet an afghan for my daughter, then make a pom-pom wreath for her room. I still had plenty of yarn left, and my daughter had been pleading for a shawl (because 6 year olds need shawls...). So I made this for a Christmas gift. I did have to buy one more skein of yarn to compete it. That was around $3. Not bad!

My daughter loves it! It didn't take too much time to make, which was a good thing since I wanted it to be a surprise. I had to work on it in the evenings.

Project 24

Two knit star ornaments

One for my tree, one for a friend. The yarn has tiny sequins in it, so pretty and sparkly for the tree! I had this yarn, and the pattern was free, so: free!

Project 25

Cinnamon ornaments

I thought I took pictures, but apparently I did not. While I was not happy with how the baking soda "clay" ornaments turned out, I was very happy with the cinnamon ornaments, and even tied a few to some gifts. I'll be making these again! It was a quick and easy project. I bought the ingredients at Aldi, so it wasn't too expensive, right around $3 I want to say.

Project 26

Knitted stocking ornament

I just got a quick picture of before I packed the ornaments away for the season. This was a free pattern I found online. I modified it a little, but mostly stuck to the pattern. I had the yarn, so this was free to make also!

At the beginning of the year, I made a goal to complete 52 projects in 2015. That turned out to be a little unrealistic, but I made it halfway through, which I'm very happy with. Many of the projects were made from materials I already had on hand, and turned into gifts. The goal was not met, but one of the points of this challenge was to see how little I could spend and still craft quality items. I think I demonstrated that by using materials in my home and sourcing materials carefully (with coupons, on sale, etc.) creating does not have to be very expensive!

I don't have an exact total because the above projects I did not keep the receipts for. But with my estimates, the grand total for the year was $57.05. That's an average of $2.19 per project!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015


We went to South Carolina for Thanksgiving this year. It was a very nice time with family. I'm the oldest of nine children, and seven of us, and my parents, were gathered together. That's quite a feat, considering we came from all over: Michigan, Tennessee, Oregon, and California. It has been a while since we've personally been able to be with so many family members at one time (almost 3 years), and I had a nephew (1 1/2 years old) and a niece (2 years old) whom I hadn't met yet!

The weather was gorgeous while we were there. Warm! And no snow or threat of snow! :-) 

My sister took some pictures of us, the first one we were joking around, but I really love it. Just Kevin and me having a fun time together.

And then we got serious for our picture:

Last month I turned 39. So close to 40...anyhow, I decided to change things up and get a different hairstyle. I like the way it turned out! But I'm still trying to get the hang of styling it, so we'll see how long it lasts! :-)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Oh, Pinterest...

Dear Pinterest,
I used to really love you. "Used to" being the operative words here.

I know everyone has to make money. But seriously? I don't have a friend named "Picked for you"! And if I did, I would unfollow her. She goes overboard with the pinning! She floods my feed with copycat pins. She can't be original, noooooo. She looks at my pins and then copies them. She sees me pin one idea (which I probably liked because, you know, I pinned it). But then she quickly searches and finds as many pins as possible that are somewhat related and then that's all I see!

Let me demonstrate:

Do you see how out of control user "Picked for you" is???

So, Pinterest, since I can't unfollow Picked for you, I did a quick search, and discovered this. I quickly installed the bookmark, and now this is what I see when I go on Pinterest:

Pinterest, you're ruining yourself and missing what people like about Pinterest.

a disgruntled user

Saturday, October 24, 2015

52 Projects (Project 21)

I'm not even going to comment on the number of weeks left in which to finish 52 projects. Except I just did.

Doll Dress

This morning I decided to do some sewing, just for fun. I have been wanting to sew but there have been so many things hanging over my head that I just haven't made time for it. The house was reasonably clean(ish) and so I pulled out a pattern and got busy.

Soon my daughter noticed I was sewing and asked to look at my patterns. In the time I sewed, she drew 10 dresses that she wants me to make for her. While I will probably not make ten dresses for her any time soon, I have to say it was a happy span of time, as I sat sewing and my daughter sat chatting nearby.

I had everything I needed (pattern, fabric, notions), so this was completely free. I had enough for the skirt if I cut it in two pieces rather than on the fold, so I used ric rac to cover up the seam going down the middle. The dress fits pretty well, but it is a little tight at the neck.

This doll is Rebecca from American Girl. She was a gift to my daughter for her birthday but she hasn't been playing with her until recently. I figured since she was playing with her she could use some more clothes. When she first got her I was looking for patterns that were in the same era as Rebecca but then I realized my daughter doesn't care about that!

Cost: $0
Running Total: $51.05

Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Fall!

It's fall! To celebrate the first day of fall, my daughter and I visited a local apple farm and got donuts and cider. Yum.

Also on the same day, our butterfly emerged from its chrysalis. Our pastor's wife gave us a caterpillar and the next day it became a chrysalis, and then we waited! And this happened:

God is so amazing! To think that a lowly caterpillar could become a butterfly is mind-boggling!

The weather here has been so lovely. It has been warm in the afternoons, though there is a slight chill in the wind to remind us that fall is indeed here! This evening we spent some time as a family walking and enjoying the weather.

Hope your fall is fabulous! :-)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

52 Projects (Project 20)

Say, I do believe I'm a little behind in projects. Does canning count as a project? No? How about homeschooling? No? (That's taking more time than any other "project" I've undertaken so far.)

Painted Acorns

One of my sisters sent me this link and I thought it looked simple and fun. One day, after a very long and hard school day (this post is encouraging for those hard days!), we needed to push "reset". I took my daughter to a park and we wandered around in the warm sun collecting acorns. We each had our own bag. When we came home I baked them at 170*F (as the link recommends) and then my daughter painted hers.

It's been almost a week now and I just got around to painting mine yesterday afternoon. I chose acrylic paints from my paint box that I've purchased for various reasons over the years, so this project cost nothing out of pocket!

Scavenged acorns: free!
Paint: on hand (so: free!)

I did buy a glass candle holder at the dollar store but I plan on using that for candles and other decorations year-round, not just for acorns. That was $1 but I'm not counting that as part of the cost of the project.

Cost: $0
Running Total: $51.05

Edit: After a few weeks, the acorns were covered with mold. I'm thinking it was because I baked them but I'm not really sure. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

September Past, September Now

Today I was reading through my blog, looking back at all the September archives. Some things change as the years go by and some stay the same.

September, 2014: sharing about canning and homeschooling

the shelves Kevin built last year

September, 2013: sharing about pansies and homeschooling (that reminds me, I should plant pansies again!)

September, 2012: a chattier month, but boiling it down I'm still talking about educating my daughter (though she hadn't started school yet), gardening and canning.

some of the sweet potatoes we grew that year

And this year? Well...the garden is slowing coming to an end. I panicked and bought tomatoes so I'd have enough for everything I still wanted to make. Our garden did relatively well this year but we had a few less plants than last year. And we're getting into the swing of school. This year I'm determined to be scheduled in the mornings. So far (1 + week in) it's working.

On Monday we were together with friends for Labor Day. They have a baby so I got lots of baby snuggles in, and in the process was adorned with drool, spit-up, and pee. I forgot how very liquid babies are, you know? I loved every minute of it, though I did hand him off to be changed when I got wet on. ;-)

With that, I'll leave you with this picture thought:

This is what life feels like right now, back and forth, back and forth! Wind in my hair, it feels like I'm really moving and going somewhere. I'm busy-busy-busy. But in looking back? Life is pretty much the same as it has been for a while. That's not bad, rhythm is good! And with the back and forth, the sameness of the months as they pass through, progress and growth are happening. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Homeschool First Grade: Looking Forward

School is coming around again! We're going to start a little earlier than the area schools, on August 31st, so we can get a head start! This will give us the chance to take a few extra days off as needed, and still finish mid-May. First grade, here we come! :-)

My school books and supplies, in the corner of our living room. 

This year, I am using all ABeka. There are many reasons why I really love ABeka, especially for these early years. I am probably going to switch things up in years to come, especially for history, science, and math. But for now, for this year, I am looking forward to ABeka! One thing I did this year was to spend HOURS buying my curriculum. I made a spreadsheet, compared prices, and sourced almost everything used. And then after all was said and done, I realized that I saved about $30-60. So next year, guess what? I am saving my TIME and buying directly from ABeka! I feel like individually, I got really good prices on everything. But collectively, I did not save a substantial amount of money!

The basket full of flashcards! Everything fits in one basket.

...and fits nicely on the shelf.

 I love ABeka! Have I said that already? K5 was super user-friendly. And then I went to organize everything in my school cabinet for 1st grade. Let me tell you, I had some moments of panic and frustration. It shouldn't be that hard to organize books! LOL I guess I just wanted everything in the perfect place! To help with organization, I did something that I am hoping will be a big help throughout the year. I took my three teacher manuals to Staples and had them cut the bindings off. Two of them had holes already punched, and the other one I brought home and punched myself. Now all three are in one big binder, which stands up nicely in the cabinet. We'll see if this helps or not!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are not continuing on with Classical Conversations. We had our daughter registered and I was planning on being a tutor. The decision to pull out was kind of a last minute decision that has been in the works for almost two years. One thing that "clicked" with me this year at the training seminar was that Classical Conversations Foundations (the program for the younger children) is primarily to lay the...wait for the upper grade levels. This is probably abundantly clear to many people but it is something that I hadn't fully comprehended about the program until the training seminar this year. Since we have no intention of taking CC to the upper grade levels with our daughter we decided now was the best time to leave CC. 

I found this whiteboard for only $6.99 at Aldi. Perfect for our little school area!
School-wise, I'm content with what we have in place. What I'm still praying about is the social aspect that we lose by not doing CC. I'm wanting to sink back into our homsechool days and enjoy learning at home together. I had planned on attending a group for girls twice monthly but just got word that it is canceled this year. I was disappointed, and at first had thoughts of creating my own group, but I feel strongly that this year is to be a year of rest for us. And creating and running a group is not restful! So instead of frantically searching, I am going to be praying for the right opportunities for us!

Even though I was homeschooled (5th-12th grades), in many ways I am learning along with my daughter. We're learning what works best for not only our daughter and our home, but for her teacher: me! It's all a work in progress! I am personally looking very much forward to first grade. My daughter is not quite as enthusiastic about school as I am, but I'm hoping that her attitude will improve and she'll catch my excitement! :-) 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Homeschool Kindergarten: Classical Conversations

We wrapped up Classical Conversations for the year last April. I was glad we did it again last school year. The first year was so hard. Sooo hard. If I had it to do again I probably wouldn't start with my daughter so young. However, I'm glad we did it because there were benefits.

This year the tutoring was SO MUCH easier. I knew how to do preparations ahead of time, and so I spent about eight hours or more working on things over the summer, which helped immensely.

I liked CC for my daughter for the following reasons:
:::great overview of history (through the timeline and history sentences)
:::the skip counting (counting by 2's, 3's, etc.) is a great base for multiplication
:::the fine arts and science experiments and projects are good exposure and provide memory pegs for later learning.

As with almost anything in life, there were downsides to CC for our family:
:::my daughter didn't always want to cooperate with learning the memory work at home, and learning to behave well in a classroom situation continued to be a struggle for her the first half of the year
:::in so much as it is very part time, tutoring is still a job and while I enjoyed it, it did take time every week to prepare for.

And if you've noticed the past tense of my statements, it is because, while we truly enjoyed and found benefit from CC, we decided not to continue in CC. I'll write more on that in my "looking forward" post.