Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some progress

Well, I was finally forced to make a decision regarding the baby quilt that I am making.  Mostly, the decisions were made by realizing that while I had started in plenty of time to leisurely work on this quilt, I had gotten busy with other things and didn't realize that the shower is NEXT SATURDAY!!!

So, with time short and money shorter, I had to just go with a plan that would allow me to use fabrics that I already had and that I could sew up in very little time.

The photo doesn't really show it well, but the red outer border is the exact same fabric as the red star points.  It should finish up to a 40 inch square.  I think I might have enough of the blue check from the star points for the binding.  But, at this point, it is going to be bound with whatever I have that will work.  I am not against a scrappy binding.

As for the backing, I will have to start working on it tomorrow evening.  I will be using various shirting materials I have.  The mom-to-be had a color scheme in mind for the top (she has no idea what I did with her color choices, though), but the backing may add in other colors out of necessity.  I plan to piece together scraps from my shirting fabrics to make a scrappy back.  I do have a vintage sheet that is a red, white, and blue plaid that I could use for a single fabric back.

I kind of had it in my head that since this was my first quilt from shirt fabrics that it would be entirely out of shirt fabrics.  I am not sure why it matters, but....

After that, I will be seeing what I have in the batting department.  I may be piecing some batting together to get a piece big enough to work with.  At least I feel like I haven't been wasteful at all with this quilt.

I did plan on making my dad a quilt for Christmas out of the shirt fabrics, and if I am going to do that, I will have to get started pretty darn quick!  Otherwise, I won't get it finished in time.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sniff, sniff...

Nothing smells better than apples and pears cooking with a little cinnamon and cloves.  It's heavenly!

This week, I went over and got the last of the pears that weren't rotten on my parents' pear trees.  They are organic, which really means that we have never pruned them, taken care of them, watered them, or fertilized them.  But, no chemicals, so that is a good thing!

These are not pretty, grocery store pears with a buttery, smooth texture.  These are old fashioned pears with peels like leather and a slightly grainy texture, but the taste is sweet and wonderful.  They cook up well, but will make your hands sore when you peel and core lots of them at a time!

Today, I prepared two large bags of pears and some Fuji apples that we got at a farm stand (off the trees that morning!).  Now, I have both crockpots running on high.  The largest one is full of pears, cinnamon, splenda, and ground cloves.  It is filled to the brim, just waiting to cook down into pear butter.  Mmmmmm.

My smaller crock pot is filled half way with the remaining pears and topped off with the Fuji apples.  They are starting to smell SO good.  I will water bath can both batches when they are done.  But, they have to cook a long time and they will cook down a lot, so two crock pots is a good amount to deal with.

Some of these will likely be put in Christmas baskets with maybe a decorated hand towel and/or homemade dishcloth or two.  I love that the bulk of this gift is done way before Christmas.

I still have about 2/3 of  the apples we bought, so some plain ol' apple butter will be next, maybe followed by some home canned applesauce!

Frugal, by necessity or choice!

Although the politicians say otherwise, I know different.  At least in my area of the country (the deep South, specifically, Georgia) we are still being hard hit by this economy. Georgia has lost tons of jobs and I know lots of people who are under-employed or going through a prolonged job search.  Raises are non existent for most folks and pay cuts are the norm.

That being said, just about everyone I know is hunkering down and trying to figure out how they can hold it together through Christmas.  I am certainly no exception.

Here are some of the things that I do to try and stretch my money a little bit farther.

1.  Hang clothes to dry.  Our dryer is on its last leg and I only use it for things that really need to be dried.  Things that have to be ironed, for example.  I couldn't care less if my towels are a little scratchy.  Dermatologists tell us to exfoliate, don't they?

2.  Home hair cuts.  I do the haircuts for both of our boys and get compliments on how nice and neat they look.  Hubby isn't brave enough, yet, but someone told him that he should do his hair like my son's hair.  Loved that!  I use a good set of clippers that hubby found with guide combs (more than paid for itsself, by the way).  Even in the beginning, the kids didn't look bad.  Now, I am getting good at it.  I even cut my own hair. Yes, it sounds like I am super-talented.  8 or 9 years ago, I had unexplained hair loss until I started wearing wigs.  I get them on sale and look for trendy/modern cuts.  They look great.  I buzz cut what is left of my own hair.  Otherwise, I would have a stringy comb over thing happening.

3.  Cook at home.  This is not an easy one for me.  I am not a good cook.  I am best preparing candies and baking things that would make your cardiologist's head spin.  But, as my doctor put me on a diet where I have lost 50 lbs., I can't eat like that.  My menus are uninspired, but nutritious.  Hubby is a better cook, but he isn't here to do the cooking, except on weekends.  I love weekends.

4.  Canning or Freezing.  You can save a lot of money putting food up.  I get windfall pears every year from my trees at my parent's house.  They really don't use them for anything, they like that they attract deer.  I will cook and can them.  Yes, it's work, but that work will keep us full and happy through the winter.  Canned goods in a nice basket make a great gift that I have used for many a Christmas!  Family packs of meat or surplus of veggies in season can be put away inexpensively.  Think sweet potatoes cooked and canned in November.  Think green beans in July.  Think pumpkins--NOW!  If you like the seeds, dry and roast them.

5.  Learn to sew.  Even if you make crafty gifts or simple curtains and repairs, you can save a bundle and add a little bit of self-sufficiency to your skill list.

6.  Crochet or knit.  Make scarves for gifts or hats for the homeless shelter.  Yarn can be found at thrift stores or even cheaply at Wal Mart.  You can make things more special than you can buy them.  Make your own dish cloths.  If you take good care of them, they will last absolutely forever.  They also make a cute gift.

7.  Turn off the cable or satellite dish.  We did (out of necessity) and until the new season of Dr. Who starts, I won't actually care.  The kids watch shows on and my oldest has discovered the old Superman movies and Alf!  I really did miss two short PBS specials on Sapelo Island and the Okefenokee swamp that I would have liked to have seen, but I am not all that heartbroken about it.

8.  Entertain yourselves at home.  Rent redbox movies or trade movies that you own with a friend to see something new.   Hubby salvedged the bottom bowl from an old smoker that had died and put it up on some rocks and made an impromptu fire pit.  We have had numerous marshmallow and wienie roasts and they are fun!  We even did this with guests who were visiting and they had a great time.  We burned deadfall wood from our property.  Yes, we did spring for marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate (and hot dogs) but it's still cheap fun!

Anyway, if you are being hard hit by the economy, you are not alone.  Just use this time to build up some frugal skills.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Work in Progress

Well, I haven't made as much progress as I would have like to have made, but here is where we are.  I put sashings between the blocks out of a fabric that I haven't used before, but since it is blue, it works.  I love that I am able to rummage through my vintage shirts and find what I need.  This is turning out to be a very inexpensive little project so far.

I just have to decide how I want to finish this out.  I know that I will have borders around the edges, but I am not sure how many and of which fabrics.  I am currently wondering if an nice red border surrounded by pieced scrappy bits of red, tan, and blue fabrics, surrounded by another dark navy border would look.

Hmmm.  Maybe I should leave the scrappy to the binding.  I'd love it if YOU, my wonderful and glorious readers would chime in with an opinion or two.....or thirty!   I know that folks do occasionally check out my blog, so I want to know what everyone thinks would look best.

Oh, How I Love it When the Kids Share with Me...

NOT!  Well, not this time, at any rate.

What started as seasonal allergies (ragweed, yuck!) has slowly turned into sinus infections for all of us, one by one.  DS12 had it first, then DS14 (very mild case) and now lucky me!  The doctor did set me up with 2 weeks worth of antibiotics and an antihistamine spray for my nose (which works so fast that I am coughing and sneezing just moments after I take it).  The only bad thing is that the spray either runs down my throat tasting horrible or it's the drainage.  Not pleasant at all.

But, I am taking the new meds and am sure to be on the mend very soon.

Which is good, because I have quilts and lots of Christmas gifty love to work on!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Off to the doctor I go.....

Sniff.  I give up.  Really.

Two weeks with a sinus headache is just too much.  Hubby suggested I take some benadryl last night so I could sleep and help it ease up if it was allergies.  It helped (sleep is always a wonderful thing), but I woke up still hurting.

So, after school today, I am going to the doctor to see what help he offers.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby steps

Well, in between out of town guests (love them!) and sick kids (allergies backed up sinuses and now kiddos have infections and ear infections, too), I managed to get a little bit of quilting in.

Thanks to a friend who gave me an older sewing machine that has an awesome straight stitch (but no zig-zag), I am back in business.  The star on the left is machine pieced this evening.  The one on the right is hand pieced.  I love them both.  Right now, I am thinking of keeping the hand pieced block and making a wall hanging out of it.  I love the hand pieced block, but I am afraid that the machine pieced one might stand up to various washings for a baby's use a little better.

But, I absolutely love having both blocks hanging up to view them.  I am using old, discarded, I mean vintage shirting fabrics for these.  It's soft and masculine.  It is the kind of thing that I would have hung up in my kiddo's rooms for years since it isn't  kiddie type fabrics

Now, I have to machine piece three more blocks and borders.  We are taking a break from school right now, so it's a good thing that I have suddenly been gifted with a machine.  God is SO good to me!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I am fortunate to own a copy of Jinny Beyer's book, Quiltmaking By Hand.  I had purchased it quite a while back when I was looking for ideas on hand quilting designs.  I never really anticipated needing to learn to sew by hand.  But, I digress...

When I looked at the information in the book on hand piecing (great photos, by the way), I realized that I would need to keep a few supplies together so that I could work anywhere.  Here are the contents of my new portable sewing kit that I made up.  It includes, a mini tape measure, sharp scissors, a rubber coated thimble, YLI Select hand quilting thread in white (needle stuck in top for photo), needle compact (that I will refill), needle threader, and about 8 straight pins.  Now, I just needed a way to keep it all together.

 This is what I came up with (after a little research and trial and error).  It is a Tupperware Sandwich Keeper. It has a strong closure (so I won't lose my stuff) and the lid is hinged (so I can't lose it either).  There is a rather large image of the Pokemon named Jigglypuff on the front.  I pulled this out of the back of my cabinet.  Hey, if I had something that worked, I surely wasn't going to spend money on it.  Yes, I know that I am weird.  But, no one will accidentally confuse their kit with mine, I am certain of that!

Here it is, all set up in working order.  There are two strong magnets hot glued to the lid.  One holds my needle that I am currently using so that it won't get lost in the contents.  The other holds my few straight pins.  Hubby kept the magnets out of an old cell phone case.  They are really strong to be so small.  Hubby scratched up the lid a bit so that my glue would make a good bond with the magnets.

It is the size of a, well, a sandwich actually to carry around.  I keep my current block in progress in a ziplock type (but cheaper) plastic bag to keep all of my pieces together.  I can throw it in my purse, or a tote bag.

It's pretty convenient.  Today, I sewed two seams while waiting for DS14 in the orthodontist's office.  He popped a bracket off and we needed to get it fixed.  I also stitched a bit while the kids were working during homeschool time.  I imagine that if I get a used to carrying this around, I will find lots of small amounts of time where I can do a bit.  Sounds like it could add up to some serious progress to me!

A Small Victory....

 Yep.  Here she is.  The official, first ever, hand pieced block by moi!  It wasn't pressed, just completed while we were homeschooling today.  I took it outside (we homeschool with a friend's son and we use their basement) and took this photo while the sun was shining.  I used thrifted, er, I mean vintage men's shirting fabrics. Let's just say that the new local Goodwill has been very good to me.  So has my hubby, my sons, and various family members who gave me their worn out shirts.  But, I have still had to purchase a couple on half price sale (a whopping $2.20)  to get the colors that I need for various and sundry projects.

 The center blue is a tiny blue and white check, the star points are navy with various blue stripes, and the back ground is a pale blue and yellow windowpane on white.  This is the first block in the baby quilt that I am beginning for a very dear friend.  I am so excited for her as I know that she will be an awesome mom!

Here is the truth of the situation.....the back of the block.  This is where all mistakes will show up.  If you look closely you will discover that I am NOT a very good seamstress by hand.  But, that part will be hidden and more importantly, this star has POINTS, yes, real points.

I have impressed myself to no end!  LOL!

Ragweed, ACK!!!

Apparently, from the stands of yellow flowers I see growing everywhere, ragweed is in full bloom around here.

Lucky me.

Judging from the fact that my entire brood (self included) is coughing, hacking, sinus headache-y, and tremendous mucous making machines, that we are officially allergic.


Monday, October 4, 2010

A block to remember

Well, it will be when I get it sewed together!  I have cut out the first of the four Sawtooth Star blocks for the baby quilt in progress.   I have put together a little, portable sewing kit to take this project on the road.  Lately, I find that I may get more done if I can do a seam here or there while the kids are working on school work or while waiting for kiddos at the orthodontist, etc.

It's four blocks, so I don't see this as being an astronomical time hog.  Now, if I were doing a couple of hundred Drunkard's Path blocks or something, I can see hand piecing as really slowing things down, but just four blocks doesn't seem to be so daunting.

I will try to take a few pics tomorrow (when the light is better) of my little sewing kit and (with luck) my block.  Then I will have to cut out another one!  I am afraid that I will have to purchase another tan shirt or two in order to make this work.  I hate to buy more, but I want this to be really super-cute!

I have never really done many star blocks before and I always have a hard time lining up the star points.  I am hoping that hand piecing will allow me to make it look really nice.