Monday, April 14, 2014

Patching a Tee Shirt

Somehow, there was a snip in Genevieve's pink tee shirt.  I didn't even bother to ask why.  I cut three yellow hearts out of a scrap of yellow knit (used in this clothespin dress, also), and covered the hole in style.  I put a jersey needle in my sewing machine and used a zigzag to top stitch them down.  Easy.  Done. Cute!



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Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Way with Pesto

I like to freeze homemade pesto in cubes. It becomes a super-fast supper in the winter when I put a frozen cube in a bowl and pour hot pasta over it.



Then I made an easy stew recipe from Martha Stewart, via Pinterest (and moved over to my Recipe Verdicts board with high praise). It was almost as fast as cooking up a pot of pasta, and very tasty and cheap.  I served it with a green salad on the side and yes, more bread.  What's soup without bread?

My basil seeds are coming up adorable.  Can't wait for a new batch of pesto!




Chickpea Stew with Pesto

Saute in olive oil in soup pot:
1 onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
salt & pepper

Stir in:
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
4 c. cooked chickpeas
6 c. stock or broth

Cook for 10-15 minutes, covered.

Add:
3 slices toasted (or stale) bread, diced (about 1 cup)

Cook 10 more minutes.  Serve with a spoonful of pesto on top of each bowl of stew. Pin It

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How I Coupon

I go by my father-in-law's guiding coupon principle:  it's only a good coupon bargain if you were going to buy that item anyway.
Ergo, I clip coupons for things I am likely to buy.  I am not brand-loyal to mass-produced things because there's rarely a locally-produced alternative, so I just try to get the best bargain.  We try to eat local food, and there aren't usually coupons for that.

The only sorting I do is keeping food and non-food coupons separate.  I keep my time on coupons to a minimum.  Most of the coupons I clip actually expire before I use them, but sometimes I hit a big deal with coupons, so I don't mind clipping and keeping them just in case.


Every day on the school walk, we pass a national chain drugstore on the way.  It's very convenient, although I do use a small local pharmacy (also 2 blocks away) when we have prescriptions.   So I watch the store circular and match up coupons to its store sales for toiletries.

For example, recently there was a sale on Tom's items at 2 for $8 and then you got a $2 store gift certificate. I had a $2 coupon for Tom's. I bought a deodorant and two bars of soap for $6, minus the store gift certificate, which brings it to a $2 deodorant and two $1 bars of soap.

I also bought Tresemme 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner and hairspray, a brand I have never used.  I bought it because there was a sale, a coupon, and a store gift certificate, bringing my total cost to $1.

To put it simply, I paid $4.54 for a Tom's deodorant, 2 bars of Tom's soap, Tresemme shampoo/conditioner, and Tresemme hairspray. I think that's a great deal!


The store gift certificates, totaling $5 from both purchases, will be used to buy things that don't go on sale very often.


Most stores have their weekly sale flyer/circular online.  However, I also get the "guts" (as my dad says) of the Sunday newspaper from my parents.  They aren't interested in the coupons and circulars, and I'm not interested in the so-called "news."  We've had this arrangement for several years now.

Talk to me about how you coupon, please. Pin It

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dapper

Ben has developed serious opinions (sometimes involving tears) about his Sunday attire, specifically his neck wear.

For a while now, he's insisted on wearing a bow tie every Sunday.  Then he started asking for a necktie. I found a handsome J. Crew silk tie at a consignment shop for $5 - it's not easy to find nice children's ties.  I had already cut apart one of his daddy's ties to sew down for him, but I keep bypassing it for other projects.



All these ties were taking up valuable sock-and-underwear-drawer space.  I actually started shopping for one of those little tie hangers, but suddenly got cold feet about spending the money. I confess that my thrift goes by spells, and that is okay with me.  We live pretty frugally, but it's not rigidly enclosed by a budget.

In this case, I decided to see if I could mimic the features of a tie hanger:  soft surface to grip the ties and let them dangle without wrinkles.



I used a cheap-o wire hanger and made a little rectangle from old flannel and scraps of batting.  I enclosed the hanger in it, sewed down the seam and then covered the raw edge with a scrap of bias tape.  Done!  It does exactly what I want it to, and I used what I had on hand.




And here is Genevieve on Sunday afternoon.  A rare treat:  she told me I could do whatever I wanted to with her hair that morning.  So I made rainbow braids and enjoyed looking at her all day long.


This follows on the heels of a mysterious flu that she had for almost two weeks, one of the reasons my blogging slowed down. I was so worried.  Two doctor's visits and a round of blood work later, she is finally perking up and gaining back her lost weight.  Thank God!


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Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Pretty Party

I planned my own birthday party modeled on one I had attended a few years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I invited a diverse group of girlfriends for a late afternoon party and told them to bring a $15-20 gift along, something that they liked to do to relax or treat themselves.  Not a present for me, but a present to trade.

And I had prepared early spring treats to eat - thinking of light, pretty food that also had zest and (because it's me) a touch of the unexpected. I also did not want to be stressed out by the food or have high-maintenance recipes.  In the end, my menu met my goals!


I made the biscuits, ham, dill cream, curried chickpeas, and cake several days ahead of time.  I used this recipe for the ambrosia, and toasted the coconut and pecans a few days prior to the party. I also cut out the little bread rounds for the cucumber sandwiches and put them in the freezer. Not much left to do on the party day!

For the gifts, we put our place cards in a bag, pulled out a name, and received her gift. I loved how there were gifts at the birthday party without undue attention put on the birthday girl.  Of course we all had to explain our gifts, and that was so interesting to hear what each of us was currently relaxing with.





A word about the cake:  I made the Italian Cream Cake from Vintage Cakes.  It was fabulous and enormous and I did not reduce the sugar (good choice) nor did I sub in some whole grain flour (probably also a good choice).  It was a lot of work.  I will most definitely check this book out of the library again, which means I am flirting with marrying (buying) this book.


A word about the pretty factor:  I was terribly excited to pull out all my pretty linens, dishes, and baubles to decorate with.  I even turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. Well, that was a mistake.

My best inspiration came from Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse.  She sticks to a theme of some sort and uses pretty objects from around her house with some fresh flowers.  That's what I did.

My theme was "spring pretty", although I basically just made it up on the day of the party. I borrowed the snack sets from Rebecca's mother, a fancy-dancy punch bowl from Rebecca, and the cake stand and cover from my friend Sue.





The daffodils I bought did not open and, in fact, withered before they opened.  There were gallons of punch left over, should have hosted a baby shower or something.  My birthday was perfectly wonderful and this party was one of the reasons.




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Monday, March 31, 2014

Hello, Whimsical Sunshine!

These are the sunglasses I got at Shabby Apple because I won a gift card through a blog giveaway.  At first it was fun to try to see what my $50 would get me, but the quality looked so dubious and most of the clothes were too trendy for me.  So I bought sunglasses with curlicues on the side.



Then I made a little bag for them from one of my husband's dress shirt sleeves.  I could mention that the shirt was worn through in the collar and cuffs and I had harvested the buttons already, but it would be funnier if you imagined him pulling a dress shirt out of his closet with one sleeve chopped off. The shock!




I did not pad the little sleeve case, so I'm not sure it's a practical way to keep the sunglasses in my cavernous bag.  But the little jewel-like orange buttons are so fun!  And hello, sunshine! I'm happy to put on sunglasses again.
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Still Making Winter Clothes

Hey, it's white outside again today and I'm working on winter clothes, partly because it took me all winter to figure out what we needed and partly because we wore out our winter clothes and even though it's technically spring, we still need those clothes. You can go now, Winter.

I made myself a pair of flannel pajamas.  I love the birdie flannel, but JoAnn's didn't have enough for both shirt and pants, so I used aqua houndstooth flannel for the pants.  With a little orange-flowered ribbon tag.  I used black grosgrain ribbon, free from the fabric outlet with my last purchase, to finish the hems, trim the pockets, and make a drawstring. 



I loved how these little black buttons complemented the flannel, but I needed one more button.  I decided to simply add another pretty button - why on earth do all 5 buttons need to match?  They all look good together, and suddenly, I see a middle ground between seeking matched buttons and mismatching buttons for the hobo/boho look. 

Since I'm practically middle-aged, I've noticed I really go for the middle ground on every issue.



I also made my husband a pair of boring grey pajama pants and fleece leopard print lounge pants for myself.  Too boring to photograph and too private to model.

And here is Christy getting me back on track with my wool socks.  She's an excellent, patient teacher and I've never seen anyone knit as fast as she can.



When I get past the heel, I'm going straight back to Christy's house to drink tea again and let her coach me through the next steps.  The best way to knit!


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