Saturday, December 31, 2016

Make Do and Mend

My sewing machine has been inaccessible, but on Saturday I pulled everything away from it and piled it in the hallway. And I've been sewing! (Next I need to deal with that lovely little pile of stuff that I don't quite know what to do with!)

Yesterday, I took care of a pile of mending. First up was a stuffed Hello Kitty that had a split seam in the head. After that, I turned some raggy towels and the bottom of a t-shirt into some rags. Since I don't use paper towels, it is handy to have extra rags around.


I don't know why, but it is so satisfying to me to turn towels into rags. I don't like to just move them into the rag bin without doing something to them, because I don't want to clean toilets with a rag one week and then have it accidentally get back into rotation as a kitchen towel. So most of those I folded in half and stitched shut in some form.

I also fixed the hem on two washcloths, an easy fix which will prolong their use as washcloths.

My last fix of the evening was a pair of knit pants that my daughter has. These were hand-me-downs and came with a hole in the knee. She liked wearing them though, and the hole got bigger. I attempted to just zig-zag the hole shut, but it didn't work out. So I pulled out a stained t-shirt I had set aside and used the fabric to stitch a heart over the hole. When I showed my daughter she said, "ooooh", so I think she likes them. These are strictly for playing in - not running about town or anything - but this little fix will extend their use. I've always felt like it is nice to have pre-worn play clothes. Why buy new clothes to play outside in and get all stained up? Not that I want my daughter to wear rags! But she's always played hard outside so there's no sense in wearing designer clothes in the mud!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Marshmallows


For the longest time, I have wanted to make marshmallows. I've had a stand mixer for quite a few years now, so really it was just about finding the time. This December I've been attempting to carve out more time to do things with my daughter, and one of the things on my list was marshmallows.

Recipes abound (just check Pinterest). I used a basic recipe out of my The Homemade Pantry (not an affiliate link) cookbook.

Will I make these again? I don't know. I rarely (as in: once a year or less) buy marshmallows to begin with. And it is not as though these are "healthy" or even "healthier" by any stretch of the imagination. They are delicious though, and it was a fun experience to share with my daughter!

Are you doing any special holiday baking or candy making this year? Do tell!

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Baby Afghan, Part 2

I finished another baby afghan!


I used the same pattern and yarn as before (see previous post), I really liked both the first time around so I stuck with it for the second time! Since we live near my sister, we went to Hobby Lobby together and she picked out the colors.


I wasn't sure how the teal would look but I have to say it adds a nice bright pop and goes well with the gray and pink!

All the details here on my Ravelry page!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Baby Afghan

My sister (#7 in the lineup) just had her first baby - a little girl. I'm so happy for her and her husband!

When we moved to South Carolina, we were in a little apartment and we only had one car since we'd sold Kevin's truck. I was bored, so I decided to pick up some yarn and make my sister a baby afghan.


I decided on machine-washable yarn, because new moms don't need to be worried about hand washing wool blankets! I also added a garter border on all sides so that the edges would not curl.


This was a free pattern (found here...scroll down) and it was very easy to follow. Link to my Ravelry project here, for yarn and pattern details.

I enjoyed making this so much that I offered to make one for another sister who is also expecting baby #1 (also a girl).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Living Room and Dining Room

This unpacking and settling in feels like it is taking forever. And then I remember that we moved into our house the first weekend of August, so really it has only been three months now. And to top it off, we've been homeschooling that entire time. School takes up a large portion of my day! And then of course there is laundry, cooking, dishes, and all that.

The living room and dining room have actually been in this state for at least a month or so, with the exception of a few boxes containing canning supplies that were on the floor in the dining room. Finally, last Saturday, I packed those up and Kevin hauled them up to the attic for me. So now the main part of our house has no boxes! There are boxes in the office and a few unpacked things that have no home in our room.

For the living room, I want to buy or make some larger pieces for over the couch and television. We don't have anything suitable for either space. The mirror over the fireplace was an awesome deal we found on Craigslist. The picture doesn't show them very well, but the vases and twiggy things came from IKEA. We also purchased the white curtains at IKEA. They were a great deal! Thick curtains for $30 a set? And they are nice and long too, which is what our tall windows needed.




Eventually, we plan on replacing the light fixture in the dining room. It is centered in the area designated for a dining room, but if we center our table underneath the light, the door to the kitchen swings into the table. I would like the lower lighting, but if we had a light right up on the ceiling that would work too (then it doesn't matter if it is centered or not).



 I love the way the living room is set up! So nice for smaller groups. We'll test out a bigger group on Thanksgiving! :D


Friday, October 07, 2016

Kitchen and Breakfast Nook

Our house is slowly coming together and looking a little homier! Today I took some time and hung some things up in the kitchen.

The breakfast nook. I'm still trying to decide if I want to hang curtains, and if so, how to go about it. Feel free to weigh in! I also have my eye on a piece of art from Etsy for that large wall. We got the table and chairs from Craigslist. They're solid wood, and older. It was hard to find something that would fit in our space and not cost a lot!


Looking into the kitchen from the breakfast nook.


The previous owners painted the side of the cabinet in chalkboard paint. I decided to go with the flow. I wouldn't have done this but I didn't want to try matching paint to the cabinets! So I hung my "eat" sign up, printed out some vintage recipe cards and newspaper clippings and hung them with tiny clothes pins.


Here's a closer look:




There you have it! Slowly but surely, things are settling in!

Monday, September 26, 2016

5 Things I Miss About Michigan

So of course, I miss my friends and our church. That goes without saying (but I just said it).

The top 5 things I miss about Michigan:

1. The Lake!
We lived about 30 minutes from Lake Michigan. On summer weeknights when we wanted to go to the beach, we'd eat dinner and then throw a few things in the car and go to the Lake for the evening. It was so effortless and relaxing. In Michigan you're never far from any lake, much less the Great Lakes.

2. Meijer
I used to think I hated Meijer. But it turns out that shopping without Meijer as an option is really no fun. Wal-Mart just isn't the same. And we might have lived in Michigan for 12 years but I never adapted the Michigan custom of saying "Meijers". There is no "s". ;-)

3. Biggby
Coffee shops are expensive in general, and it isn't like I lived at Biggby. But Biggby's coffee is just so good. They don't roast it as dark as Starbucks does so their plain coffee is quite delicious. We went to the Charleston area last weekend and I made sure we went to the one Biggby in South Carolina. Yum.

(not plain coffee)
4. Storage of a basement and garage
I never fully appreciated the amount of storage we had in both our basement and garage. The houses in our area that were in our price range which we were interested in did not have garages. Most houses in this area do not have basements, unless they are walk out basements. So, we've had to get creative with storage and get rid of a lot. It's not a bad idea to declutter!

5. Snow
Just kidding. I will not miss the snow.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Move and Our New House

I wish I had a picture (no, I don't) of all our earthly goods out on the front yard. We had so many friends come and help us move, that all of our belongings were moved out of the house about four hours faster than the truck could get packed. So everything was across our front yard, the neighbor's drive way and even in the road! for a very long time. I just stopped looking.

Sigh. We had so many lovely friends helping us. Words can't express what my heart feels when I think of all our friends and the help they gave us.

My brother came to help us move! That was a huge blessing too! He ended up driving our car most of the journey down, while Kevin drove the truck. My brother is 13 years younger than me, and this was the most time we'd spent together as adults. It was great to talk the hours by. My brother also pulled up funny comedy sketches on his phone and we listened to those.

We moved into a small apartment with most of our stuff in storage. The plus side of the apartment was that it was close to work and one of my sisters. And it had a pool! My daughter learned to swim in the two months that we lived in the apartment.

So, on to our new house! We found our house relatively fast! We only went out with our realtor twice to look at houses, and of the six houses we looked at with him, the house we bought was the only one that we hadn't requested to view. Lesson: just let the realtor do the work! If you have a good one they'll find the perfect house for you!  In the end everything worked out, but our house deal in Michigan had us worried for a while. And then they did stuff like send us a check for the equity we  had in our house, instead of wiring it, and our bank did stuff like, "we are going to put a hold on this check until the very day you need it" but it all worked out in the end, Praise the LORD! We just feel so blessed with our house. It's so beautiful! Even though we've been in our new house for a month it still doesn't feel like we've been here that long! I'm showing pictures of the house before we moved in. We're still settling in and making it our own!

The screened in back porch

The laundry room off the kitchen

the breakfast nook

the kitchen, looking from the breakfast nook


the living room

the dining room (looking from the living room)

the main bathroom

the master bedroom

master bathroom

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: Staging and Selling our House

A few weeks before we listed our house, we spoke with a realtor who came by and walked through the house, and prepared an estimate of what he thought our house would sell for. When we were getting the house ready to list I asked him what we should do beyond cleaning, decluttering, and taking personal items down. He suggested that we get the basement as empty as possible, either by selling the items or by storing them in the garage. That answer surprised me, but I guess it must be easier for a potential buyer to look at a garage with stuff in it and envision cars in it, than to see a basement cluttered with stuff and think of how much storage there is.



I scoured Pinterest for staging ideas and came up with a list of things we should do. We wanted to spend as little money as possible but have the house look as nice as possible.

We sold and gave away so much stuff! There was a minor brawl on my hands over the piano giveaway (but I need to let that go...LOL). As I mentioned in my previous post, we sold the snow blower. We also sold extra pieces of furniture, and anything that was down in the basement or in the garage that we knew we didn't really need or want to move.



My sister-in-law and brother-in-law came to see us before we listed the house, and they were such a HUGE help in getting our house ready for listing! We couldn't have done it without them! I also had two friends come by and help me, and again - I couldn't have done it without them!

Besides cleaning and decluttering, we touched up paint. Some of that ended up being a huge job because of old paint not matching the new touch up paint (I painted two whole walls in the dining room). Because we took personal pictures down there wasn't much on the walls, but it ended up looking perfect in the pictures!



We did buy a new toilet seat and new towel rods for the bathroom. I also bought fluffy white towels for the bathroom, as I had read that on several posts about staging houses. Besides those things for the bathroom, and touch up paint, we didn't buy anything else for inside. In April I redid the flower beds up front before we knew any of this was up, so I added some bark mulch (3 bags @ $2.50 a bag), a $5 pillow for the bench and a $10 fern for the plant stand. Just some things to add a little curb appeal. In the back, we had a long bed that we had taken lilacs out of in the fall. It really needed something to make it look like it had a purpose, so I bought hostas from a person selling them on Craigslist. That was $10 and I got enough to fill in the length of the bed. Also outside, we sold our raised beds and soil and gave away our compost bin and all the wonderful compost and worms inside it!



We didn't do anything terribly fancy or expensive. Mostly it was just elbow grease and either packing or selling extra stuff around so each room had nothing but the basics. It does look a little sparsely decorated but I wanted to lean that way more than overly decorated. Once we listed the house, we had a lot of interest! The first two days it was on the market, we had 10 showings and 2 offers, one of which we accepted! Our realtor told us that the hard work we put into decluttering and staging really made a difference!


The finalization of the sale of our house was not a super easy thing though - we hit a few snags. But it all went through and we were so thankful to our realtor who took care of everything after we were already moved out and in another state!

Tomorrow: the Move, and Our New House

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Announcement and Pursuing a Move

In April we were busy living our lives in Michigan! The weather wasn't very great but one weekend between snow and rain and more snow there was nice weather and Kevin built three additional raised beds for our garden, and got the soil for them. We were living as if our roots were settled.

On April 29th, a Friday, Kevin came home from work as usual and motioned me to the bedroom to talk. I thought he had an outing in mind but wanted to check with me before bringing it up in front of our daughter. Little did I know!

Instead of plans for the weekend he told me that his boss was shutting down his business. The business that his boss had built from the ground up, that was going well from our perspective, that had provided a steady income for our family for the past three years - closed. In a month. (In fact, everything ended up being wrapped up in two weeks after that announcement.)

After questioning Kevin (closed? as in: no more? what? why? ), I slowly said, "Maybe this means we can move to South Carolina now." My heart that I'd been carefully guarding against discontentment, now exploded with hope in the possibility of moving. And Kevin, instead of saying we were fine where we were, looked at me and agreed that it was indeed a possibility.

On Saturday, Kevin updated his resume and sent it to a company in South Carolina that was advertising a position he was interested in. He had me read it over, and the only comment I had was that perhaps he should remove our cell phone from the resume, because we don't really use our cell phone. He did decide to leave the number on, and sent it off. Not twenty minutes later, the cell phone was ringing. I just looked at Kevin in disbelief. And it was the company that he had just sent his resume to.

While the company had been quick to call and schedule an initial phone interview, after that it felt like they moved very slowly. In retrospect it wasn't that slow - but at the time it felt like all we were doing was w-a-i-t-i-n-g. 

In the meantime we started doing things like talking with a realtor, and as we got nearer to knowing for sure about the job, Kevin did something totally crazy: he sold our snow blower!

And then, finally, the company got everything squared away and gave Kevin an official offer letter. After that it was GO time! We had a lot to do to wrap up our Michigan lives: stage and sell our house, declutter as much as possible, and get a place to live in South Carolina.

Tomorrow: Staging and Selling our House

Friday, September 02, 2016

Our Move to South Carolina: the Backstory

Every story has a backstory! And the story of our move wouldn't be complete with a little backstory!

We moved to Michigan 12 years ago, and about a year later, bought a house and settled in. For 11 years.

We didn't have family in Michigan, and while it was just the two of us, it truly wasn't that "big of a deal". I missed being near our family, but we got to see them periodically. Plus, Kevin's sister and her husband lived in Wisconsin so we got to see them every so often also. But after we had our daughter, I really felt the impact of having no family near by.

Last year for Thanksgiving, we decided to go to SC for the holiday. It ended up being an almost complete family get-together - just missing two of my sisters and their families. For a lot of families if there were "just" two missing that wouldn't be almost complete! Haha..but in my family I guess it is. ;-) We didn't go with the thought of moving, we just went and had a nice time with family!

We did have a discussion after we came back though: wouldn't it be nice to be closer to family? But then we decided to put it to the back burner and see what happened over the next few years. So I started checking out books like Love the Home You Have and was trying desperately (and praying!) to be content with our house, our location, our life! And it was mostly working!

Tomorrow: the Announcement and Pursuing a Move

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

Hibernating

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! ;-) )