Saturday, June 16, 2007

House stuff

My daughter is being baptized next Sunday, so I've had to put all my sewing stuff away. I hate that. Eventually, once the playroom is built in the basement (just one wall needed to block off the furnace, hot water heater, washer, dryer and sump pump) with a door to access those things, I will move into the room next to where the playroom will be. I'd put them in reverse order, but this way the playroom will be directly when you walk down the stairs. Otherwise, we'd have to walk through my sewing room. The whole point of a room is so that I don't have to clean up when I'm done.

Anyways, I finally talked my husband into swapping the living room and dining rooms. The way the current dining room is set up is awkward. Two folding doors into the Florida room line one wall. A door from the kitchen breaks up another wall. The third wall has a fireplace on it. And there isn't a forth wall, as it sort of L's into the living room (though, it's not a true L as the wall actually curves). So, it will be challenging to fit the furniture, but frankly, I think it will work better as a living room than as a dining room. Best of all, the dining room table won't be a catch all location!

So, that's what I'm working on right now. I hope to get back to sewing next week sometime.

Friday, June 15, 2007

knit waistband skirt

While playing in my fabric stash, I also made another skirt. I've been trying to find the perfect skirt - for both me and my sister - so I just keep trying to change up the waistband.

Here's what I made this time. I have to say that it feels great on - just like wearing a pair of gauchos. And, oh boy, do I love my gauchos.

Once again, excuse the wrinkles. Once I get my new sewing room set up down stairs, I'll be better about pressing my items. Right now, I'm stealing space from the dining room and there's just no room to set up the ironing board.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reconditioned pants and shirt

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I bought these jeans on the clearance rack at Target. I took the time to take out the waistband, bought material to convert them into maternity jeans. And then, my sewing machine acted up, I got distracted and low and behold, my daughter is now ten months old and I'm getting back into my sewing pile.

I figured I might as well do something with them, as I'm sick of coming across them in my tub of material. Only, long ago I used the knit fabric intended for the waistband. So, what else could I use? And, then, it hit me. How about an old t-shirt? Well, not a t-shirt, but rather a fitted shirt of t-shirt material. So, I went ahead and took that shirt and cut away.

Then, I sewed up the fly where the zipper used to be. Once I was done with that, I lined up the right amount of t-shirt fabric that will hopefully cover a pregnant belly in the future.

And, there's certainly plenty of room for a growing belly to stretch out the t-shirt fabric. I'll have to pick up more clearanced out jeans before my next pregnancy. Then, I'll pair it with super cute old shirts to end up with a one of a kind pair of maternity jeans.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Grocery Shopping on a budget

Since I no longer work full time and stay home with our daughter, we certainly don't have as much disposable income. That translates into - I have a budget and I have to live within said budget. At first, it was very hard. I was used to grocery shopping with no thought given to how much I spent in a week. After awhile, it became much easier. But, right after Christmas 2006, I changed my eating habits. I was determined to shed some of the weight that had piled on. And, I have shed some of it and have managed to find a new way to grocery shop on a budget AND still eat healthy.

I'd say my average grocery bill is $60 a week for our family of three. Sometimes, I can get buy with just $20 (eggs, bread, milk, lunch meat - filler products if you will). Other times, I might take what I didn't spend the week before and apply it towards my grocery trip for the week - particularly if there's a great price on meat. Since we have an extra freezer, I make use of it by stocking up on meat when it's on sale, and I still have some extra money in my grocery budget for the month. Recently (well, if you count early April as recent), chicken breasts were buy one, get one free. I bought family sized packs - four in all and spent $20 on it. Then, I split the breasts into smaller freezer baggies. We still have some of that chicken left in our freezer.

One thing that also helps to extend the life of a meat product is to dice it up and put it into the dish, rather than serve the entire breast. You can do this with casseroles, pasta dishes, stir fry, etc.

I also eat a lot of vegetables. Not all fresh, mind you, as that would certainly take my budget through the roof! Rather, I buy tons of frozen vegetables - brocolli, cauliflower, spinach, etc. I can usually find these for $1 per bag or less. The great part is that they won't go bad, so long as you seal up the bag and they're cheap. You can get more out of those bags of vegetables than you can out of a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I use these frozen veggies in so many different ways - making egg white omelettes stuffed with vegetables for instance. My favorite way, though, is to add vegetables to pasta dishes. While pasta is cheap, (even whole wheat that I buy) the serving sizes are actually quite small. In order to feel full, I throw in a ton of vegetables and make myself a rather large dish instead of a small plate. I don't feel deprived and I'm getting in my vegetables.

I do buy some fresh fruits and vegetables. I wait, though, until they are in season. No, I don't get to eat watermelon in the winter, but I do enjoy them in the summer. I also make use of our farm stands along the sides of the roads. I love that this supports local farmers, but I also love that it means I know that what I'm buying is truly fresh, afterall, it hasn't been trucked across the country. And, it's usually a bit cheaper than buying the same item in the grocery store.

Some people seem surprised that I can keep my grocery bills so low. The trick is, not to buy processed foods. I could buy all Lean Cuisines, baked chips, and sugar free-fat free icecreams, but that adds a serious amount of money to my weekly total. Instead, I buy those items with much moderation. I stay away from Lean Cusines and instead buy the bakep chips and ice cream for my husband. I enjoy them as well, but if they weren't in the house, my husband would simply walk to the convenient store and buy the full fat versions. Still, even buying those items in moderation, I can keep my food budget in check.

One other way that I'm able to cut my budget is to have our own garden. I realize it isn't possible for some people to have a full garden, but if it is, it's a great way to cut down on your grocery bill. If you can't do a full garden, you might consider trying to do some container gardening.

I look in the sales flyers each week to see what's on sale. I check which coupons I have and try to incorporate the two together. I'm not a loyal shopper to any one store. Sure, I have my favorites, but I'd rather get a great price on some meat than shop in a certain store. I plan ahead, planning from those sales flyers what we'll eat for the week. Perhaps in a future post, I'll take your through the planning to the final product. I can highlight what I decide to buy based upon the advertisements and planning my menus, all the way to the final grocery store run, complete with receipt.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


This is our second year having a garden. The first year, we learned a lot. Like, start your plants early inside, because sometimes you can't get them in until June because of non stop rain. And when you get tomato plants in the ground in June, you don't actually get to enjoy them until the end of summer/beginning of fall.

With that in mind, our entire garden is flourishing this year. DH wanted to use plastic to keep the weeds to a minimum and fertilizer. I let him use the plastic but told him to keep the fertilizer for the flowers. I'm hoping to set up a compost bin soon, so that next year, we'll have that to use in both our garden and our flowers.

Our tomatoes seem to be doing really well. We already have little flower buds on them, so we should start seeing little tomatoes any day now. Our green and red peppers are doing great as well. And the onions? Flourishing!

Our carrots and celery seem to be emerging. They were the only thing that we didn't plant ahead of time. We had good luck with carrots last year in this way. This is the first shot at celery for us.

We decided not to do green beans and lettuce this year since we had a bit of trouble with them last year. Trouble as in - something else ate them.

We also have some squash, watermelon and canteloupe that we just transplanted, hopefully, it will take off soon.

I can't wait until we can start eating from our garden - it'll be nice not to spend so much money at the grocery store on fresh vegetables.

We didn't plant any corn - DH says it takes up way too much space. Instead, we'll hit the farmer's stands when we want some corn.

Dress shot in action

I wanted to post my DD in her dress from my last post.

Monday, June 4, 2007

elastic thread plus free fabric = cute dress for DD

My mother-in-law has the best intentions in regards to sewing (and crafty things in general). Her problem is finding the time. She's a super busy woman and well, doesn't get around to things as often as she'd like. Sometime in January, a local JoAnn Fabric store went out of business and she bought a ton of fabric at a steal of a price. She's been doing some cleaning and purging at her house and knowing I sew and would get around to using the fabric well before she ever would she graciously offered it up to me. Some of it's not really my taste, but now that I have a daughter, cutesy fabrics work well for making her some clothes.

So, combine free fabric with the 88 cent elastic thread and you have my day. Of course, I already had the regular thread in my collection, so I didn't even need to run to the store to pick up some more thread. Best of all, I still have some elastic thread left on the spool, so I'll get another project (or two) out of that 88 cents.

I'm not one to entirely follow patterns, rather I pull what seems like will work for me and sort of put it all together and see what I come out with. I mainly, pulled from this site, but ended up changing a crucial part by gathering the elastic into my seams. Sometimes, my mish mash of ideas works out, sometimes they don't. This time, I was not dissapointed.

I had to take the elastic spool and hand wind a bobbin. If I would have thought about it ahead of time, I would have wound a few extra bobbins, since I have extra. I ended up needing almost two full bobbins (she typically wears a size 12 months).

If there's any advice I could give, when someone would start shirring the fabric is to make sure that you always sew on the same side of the fabric. Sure, I knew this intellectually, but I did forget that important fact. Just once, mind you. Once I have to use a seam ripper in a project, I'm more apt to pay closer attention. Shirring the fabric was actually pretty fun.

Once, I shirred both the front and the back sides of the dress, I had to pull the elastic tighter in order to get the desired effect. The website I posted earlier mentioned that you had to pull gently because you could snap the thread, and boy - she was sure right!

My next step was sewing the seams together. I gathered all of the elastic thread into the seams and doubled it up in the shirring portion of the dress. Once the sides were tightly sewn together, I trimmed up all the elastic. Then I zig zagged the edges. Other people use pinking shears, but I was never taught that way - sure seems a bit easier though. Of course, the easiest way of all would probably be a serger, but I lack one of those.

After hemming the dress, I went ahead and added the straps to the dress.

And that was that - an afternoon of sewing with free fabric equalled one cute dress for DD - oh, and cheap too!

I don't have a modelling shot yet, but here is the finished dress on a hanger.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

elastic thread

Recently, I found out that there is elastic thread that you can use in your sewing machine to create a shirring effect. The best tutorial I found was here.

I went on the hunt to my local JoAnn Fabrics store but they only had one spool of black. I was told that once the last one was purchased, it would trip the system to order more. And, it could be in sometime within two to three weeks. Whaaaat? So, I went to Walmart (shh, don't tell, I really don't like them) and went to the fabric section. And found some in white - and they were only 88 cents, which was cheaper than JAs, so I bought all five (or was it six).

Today, I had a little bit of a chance to play around on a scrap piece of fabric, and let me tell you, this is going to be so much fun!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Recent Sewing Projects

I learned to sew in high school. I was a Senior and needed very few credits to graduate. But, I was also the Editor in Chief of the newspaper, and needed to be in newspaper class in the afternoon, so I couldn't do the early dismissal option. So, I took a whole lot of fluff, filler classes. I took beginning sewing the first semester (along with Home Cooking, Beginning Foods - are you seeing the home ec theme?) and the next semester I took advanced sewing. I enjoyed myself immensley and bought myself a cheap singer machine to continue with my new found passion. These days, I'm sewing on a bit more of a complex Kenmore machine, that truthfully, baffles me at times with all of the stitch functions available. And, I lust after embroidery machines.

I've been sewing some skirts for my sister recently, here is one skirt and one shirt for her (which I still need to add the straps to).

This one would probably look a whole lot better if I took the time to press it, but since it's going into a box to be shipped across the United States I skipped that step. ;)

So, those are my very recent projects.

Wedding Invites

Today, I'm heading over to DH's cousins house. She is getting married in September (and I'm a bridesmaid!) and she enlisted my help in making her invites. We came up with a simple, pretty invite the other night. Today, we'll be putting them all together - with more enlisted help. :)

I'll post some pictures of the completed project.


Friday, June 1, 2007


I've been journaling online for years. My sister recently told me that I should start a public blog, so here it is.

I'm a married woman, to a wonderful (and very handy) husband. We have a beautiful 10 month old daughter (well, in a few days she'll be 10 months old), as well as an angel baby - our son.

I'll likely talk home renovations, crafts, sewing projects, gardening and trying to become a green household.

Going green in our area is challenging. Recycling is something that isn't done by very many people. And cloth diapers! Ha, an even stranger proposition. And now I want a compost bin. My husband thinks I'm nuts, but goes along for the ride.

That's all for now, stay tuned for more! :)