Monday, December 31, 2007

Mom's gotta brag, if ya don't mind

Yep, uh-huh, I am very, very proud! My daughter took the Suffolk County Police Exam quite a while ago--maybe in the spring? She's been waiting for some kind of response. NYC sends out a a notice. Well, she found out yesterday that Suffolk simply publishes the scores on line.

They only publish the names of those who passed. In this case, we're talking 27,000 applicants. That's thousands, folks.

My daughter got a 90!!!

And her rank was just a bit under 3400. I'm terrible at math, but that surely puts her close to the top 10%!

Now, they take students into the police academy here every six months. There are other tests that have to be taken, which will narrow the playing field. And Katherine does have to work on her weight issues. She says this is great motivation! I can see her in the academy in about a year, maybe 2.

Oh, and for the record...the next police exam isn't until 2011!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

After Christmas Sales

I'm not buying too much 'after Christmas' stuff this year. I need to downsize as much as possible, since we'll be moving with the next few years into a much, much smaller house. That is...when the adult kids finally move out. (I'm in no hurry. Don't tell my husband...but my kids could live with us forever, for all I care.)

Still, I did pick up a few things. CVS and Target are both at 75% off here. I had been collecting snowman plates, etc. for Christmas Eve. I had one serving bowl, but I bought another one for about 1.50. You can never have enough bowls. I had a surfeit of wrapping paper for several years now, also bought on clearance, but noticed this year that I've almost used up my stash. Tonight, I bought a big box of paper, ribbon, bows, etc. for less than $4. It's supposed to wrap 30 gifts, but I guess that depends.

Regarding gift wrap, try to find some that is 'non-Christmasy' to use through the year. Don't forget that red is great for Valentine's & Fourth of July and Green is perfect for St. Pat's or the background of any spring or summer-themed package.

I picked up some fabric ribbon for $3-ish. The colors are various and so are the widths, so this will go into my sewing supplies. This particular package had 5 spools. If you sew, or make hair ribbons for a little girl, it's a great buy.

I would recommend checking Target for some nice ornaments to put away for a wedding shower gift. My mother used to give sets of ornaments, and they were always appreciated. Most of us remember having 'Charlie Brown' trees as newlyweds because ornaments are expensive, and the last thing you're thinking about when first married.

I bought a set of fabric-lined, nesting baskets. They are white wicker and the fabric is red, green and white striped. I'm using them for sewing storage in my office...which I have been rearranging this week. But that's a whole 'nuther post.

Enjoy the rest of 2007! And if you figure out where it went... let me know!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

That Green Blouse

See, I really did finish it. Which is good, 'cause it's been hanging in my closet forever. Well, maybe for six months or so. As you can see, I'm wearing it with a lacy t-shirt. It is my own design from an altered pattern, as you already know. Which means I'll never make anything like it again, LOL!

When I say I altered the pattern, btw, I mean from a design standpoint, not structurally. That is very, very easy to do. Easy or not, I'm glad I'm done with it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas Dress

I actually finished it. Don't laugh at me, but the belt is from a satin robe. I needed 'something.' I got a lot of compliments on it. One of my daughter's friends said she never knew I had such nice legs (I live in jeans or longer skirts), but I disagree. My legs are my most hated feature--they are short and stumpy, LOL! This is why I will never, ever wear shorts, no matter how hot it gets.
I would make this dress again because it went together so easily, but I'd make some changes. A)I'd make it a half size smaller--just cutting between size 18 and size 16. If you sew, you'll know that pattern sizes are nothing like retail sizes. I'm certainly not an 18, or a 16. (Mostly I'm a 14, sometimes a 12.)
I'd also add at least an inch to the bottom. I could get away with something this short when I was 16 (and it does have a '70s' look to it, doesn't it?), but not at 51. Sitting gracefully in a short dress is a talent best left to the very young.
Actually, since I don't 'dress up' much, I might add something around the bottom of this to give it a little length, so I can wear it as a work dress.

BTW, I did finish the green blouse, which I wore Christmas day. I'll post about that on a future date.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reindeer Pup takes it back

No need to mail your gifts to Mom2fur. Mom2fur is freaking-out happy this Christmas morning.

Mom2fur's family made a dream come true!

They gave me an HP Pavilion Laptop Computer!!!!!! And a photoprinter to go with it!!!!!

It plays DVDs and does all kinds of cool things. So far, I'm not on the internet (so I'm doing this on my desktop), but my oldest son will help me with that later...after he finishes watching "A Christmas Story."

May all of your Christmas Days be as joyous as mine!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Great Reindeer Pup Commands You... are under my power.

You will send all your Christmas presents to my mommy, Mom2fur...
You can not resist...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Dress

Please visit Shereen's Blog "Waiting for Him" for more Sew Crafty Friday goodies!

This might be my Christmas Eve party dress if I can finish it in time. It's hard to tell from the photo, but it is a princess line dress. I find that silhouette very flattering. I think it is a little plain, so I have to figure out what to do with it. I actually have a burgundy-colored velveteen blazer that looks nice over it.

All I have to do is the hems, neckline and zipper. I plan to hand baste the zipper in place today. If I have time, I'll sew it in.

I'm still working on the green blouse. I have the binding pinned around the neckline, so it's just a matter of a few minutes to sew it on. That will be my Christmas Day top, which I wil wear with black pants.

I haven't worn a dress in years. I'm more of a skirt person, if I'm not wearing jeans. But this was so easy to put together. And if I don't do it up too fancy-shmancy, I can wear it to work, too. Being Sorta Frugal, if I'm going to spend money and time making something...I want to get good use out of it! anyone else as NOT ready for Christmas as I am?????

Wanna Play Tag?

I found a fun 'meme' over at Susan's blog, "Blackberry Creek." Here's what you do:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

These are my answers:

A. Some of you know this already, but I'm a published author. Back in the 80s and early 90s, I published 12 books in the horror/supernatural genre. About 4 years ago, I published 3 books for a series called "Journey to America." They are aimed at the 9-12 year old reader, and each book is about a child who immigrated here from a different country: Ireland, Poland and Cambodia. Chances are pretty good they are in your local library.
Alas, the market for historical fiction has been replaced by wizards and dragons. I'm not currently working on anything. Oh...and I'm fairly broke. Between taxes and life, I didn't make a lot of money on any of my books. It's pretty hard to be a really successful horror author in the shadow of Stephen King.

B. I have a 'thing' about Vincent D'Onofrio and am a BIG Law & Order: Criminal Intent fan.

C. I hate sports and I hated gym. Totally s*cked at it. I'm not a total klutz but I'm not the very graceful, either. (I can't skate either, Susan.) Back then, you got a grade in gym, not a pass/fail like now. I like today's system better.

D. The first time I saw my future husband (I was 15, he was 17), it was from across the street. He was mowing the lawn and all sweaty with his long hair hanging around his face. I thought, 'yuk.' The only reason my friend pointed him out was because she was hoping to date his best friend. The second time I saw him, which is when I was actually introduced to him, I thought he had the most beautiful eyes I'd ever seen...and I somehow knew I'd be with him. It was just a gut feeling, but boy, was I right!

E. I am a Beatles fan, Susan--but my tastes really lean towards Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole. I love Broadway musicals. I've been a 'Sweeney Todd' fan for years. I can't wait to see the movie, although I doubt Johnny and Helena pull it off as well as the originals, Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury.

F. I bet you sounded darling when you sang "Oh, Holy Night," Susan. My Christmas 'stage' experience was to dress up as an elf when I was in the first grade and hand out goodies in the classroom. I don't remember it much. I just have a feeling I wasn't embarassed by the costume--like I would have been by second or third grade.

G. Even though I'll be 52 in January, I still like chocolate milk and sweet cereals. Bring on the Nesquick and Cocoa Puffs! (But my drink of choice is Folger's with French Vanilla Creamer.)

I'm supposed to tag 7 people, but I'm going to do it the way Susan did wanna play, then TAG! You're IT!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WFMW: Christmas Folder

Shannon's hosting a Christmas Hints Works for Me Wednesday today:

Here is my tip. It's one of those, 'why didn't I do this years ago?' tips. This year, I'm keeping a Christmas Folder!

In it, I have my menus, my shopping lists, craft ideas, recipes and anything else related to Christmas. My food lists are divided into columns: 1. Recipe Name 2. What I have on hand 3. What I need to buy and 4. The status of the recipe (is the dough made? Is something already cut up and ready to cook? Or is it frozen and ready to take out Christmas Eve?)

For gifts, I keep record of what I've bought, what I have already, and what projects I'm making--with notes on what I need to finish.

Everything is in one place. I actually misplaced the darn thing a few days ago, but happily found it exactly where I'd left it--only buried under some circulars.

It's nothing but a green plastic folder left over from school supplies. I'm going to put ideas in there for next year, too. And I'll make notes as to what worked, and what didn't. All I'll have to do then is just put the folder away in one of my Christmas Boxes. (Probably with the Manger, since that's always the first decoration that comes out!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

If you want to see something I made...

...pop over to "She's Sew Pretty." I sent Betty my gift for the "Pay It Forward" swap last week. I'm glad that she likes it!

If I get reeeaaaalllly ambitious, I'll do a tutorial on it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

Gee, maybe I'll actually finish this in time to wear it for Christmas Eve. I only have to do the binding.
Trying it on, I found two things: one, the neckline is waaaaay too low. The second is that the sleeves look choppy on me.
Solution to neckline problem: layering. I happen to have a lightweight, rose-colored t-shirt with a wide lace trim around the neck (also a v-neck). It goes perfectly with this.
Solution to sleeve problem--shoving the sleeves up to my elbows. It just made the whole silhouette look much better on me.
I've been working on this off and one for ages now, and will be so happy when I finish. I altered it in both design and fit. If I use the basic pattern again, I'm going to add at least an inch around the neckline.
Please visit Shereen's blog, "Waiting for Him" for more fun with Sew Crafty Friday! And play along, too!

Gosh, I thought I was more like Eeyore

Take the 100 Acre Personality Quiz!

I mean, Eeyore's my favorite. I can be very mopey like that. Well, it does say 'even if you are a bit slow sometimes.'
My favorite "Sesame Street Character" is Mr. Snuffleupagus. You know...floppy and cuddly. Like Eeyore and Pooh Bear. That's me...floppy and cuddly. I would live in flannel pajamas, if I could.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Meme

I found this over at a cute blog called I thought it was a lot of fun!

1.What is your favorite Christmas carol? "Oh, Holy Night."

2.What is your favorite secular Christmas song? I keep thinking of ones that really aren't secular, like "Carol of the Bells." Hmmmm...I guess ""Winter Wonderland."

3.What is your favorite Christmas movie? National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and White Christmas--I couldn't choose one!

4.What is your favorite Christmas memory growing up? Going to New York City with my mom. We'd hit Radio City Music Hall almost every year. Can you imagine--$5 for reserved seats, and we got a movie with the show! Oh, and every bank and department store had some kind of little show or Santa, and you always got something to bring home. And nobody made you pay a fortune for a photograph.

5.Do you shop early or are you a late shopper? Somewhat late, but it isn't my fault. My family isn't all that great about letting me know what they want. It was easier when the kids were little!

6.Is your tree real or artificial? Real

7.Do you still put tinsel on your tree? No. My mother used to lay it on our tree one strand at a time. We kids would just throw handfuls and let them fall where they may. Used to drive mom nuts.

8.Do you read the Christmas story every year on Christmas day? Only when my kids were little.

9.Would you consider yourself to be a Grinch? I'm not as generous as I'd like to be, due to lack of funds. But my heart is as big as the reformed Grinch and I do the best I can...wanna come over for hot chocolate and cookies?

10.Are you more like Scrooge or Father Christmas? When it comes to shopping malls...Scrooge. Bah, humbug to crowds! (I love shopping on line, LOL!) Otherwise, definitely Father Christmas--or can I say, "Mrs. Santa."

11.Do you make homemade gifts for friends and family? Yes. Which you'll know if you read this blog.

12.What was the worst Christmas present you ever received? I can't think of anything. If someone was nice enough to give me something, I appreciated it. Oh...I do have to mention the chestnut roaster for a fireplace that my bil gave us. Much appreciated, since I love chestnuts. Useless...since we don't have a fireplace.

13.What was your favorite Christmas present ever? I'm supposed to choose? The most recent one would be a sapphire and diamond necklace from my husband. A nice set of dishes from my kids. My Kitchenaid stand mixer. A kitten named Nutmeg (who is now a big fat cat).
As a teen...a stereo system from my dad. A heart-shaped ring with a little ruby inside from Mike.
As a little kid...a doll named Honey Claire (my name is Clare, btw) with white hair you could color with Markers.

14.On the average how many presents do you buy for each of your kids? There were more when they were little and you could find things cheap. As big kids, 3 or 4 with a few stocking stuffers.

I tag anyone who wants to play!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Gift for my Nephew

If there's one thing my two-year-old nephew John has plenty of, it's toys. So I asked his mother what to give him for Christmas, and she said, 'nothing.' Well, okay, we went a little further and I learned that he does like to draw pictures. (Scribble, I should say.) So I made up another crayon roll, this one with big crayons made for little hands. I had all the fabric and the ribbon on hand, so the only purchase was the crayons themselves. Isn't the 'harlequin' print fun?
I'm also making him a fleece top and pants, which I will photograph and show when I'm done. The only toy I'm buying him is a set of those gigantic cardboard bricks that come in colors. He loves building blocks (his mom says he plays with the "Thomas" blocks I gave him all the time), so this is a toy I think will encourage creativity and that he'll really enjoy. Honestly, when we visit, he seems to prefer our company to anything in his toy box. He's very sociable.
The big blocks come unfolded, and there are 24. I plan to make up about 6 or 8 of them to wrap for Johnny, and to give the remainder to his parents to store for the future. I doubt a kid that young needs 24 blocks to play with--he mostly just likes to line them up and stack them.
Anyone out there making anything for a child this Christmas?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Beauty by Becka

The lovely Becka of made this swag! I bought it from her Etsy shop a while back (for a very reasonable price, I might add!) and now it decorates the top of my stair rail. It measures more than 2 feet across.
I'm hoping to do Etsy--eventually. But if you are looking to support some very nice people (many of them moms!) who make wonderful handcrafts, Etsy is the place to go. Becka's got some nice new things on her blog, so check them out! (And enjoy her blog, too!)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Cookies!

My daughter's friend's daughter came over today and we made spritz cookies. I got to use my new cookie press that I bought on sale at Michael's a while back. It's a Wilton and really nice. My last one 'died' and I'm glad, because this one is so much nicer. Angelina, who is 8, had a ball helping me.

Hey, and don't forget to visit Shereen over at "Waiting for Him" for more Sew Crafty Friday fun!
Here is the recipe:
Spritz Cookies
(Makes about 7 dozen)
1 Cup butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (this really makes them taste good, but I suppose you could double the vanilla instead)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 Cups flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and extracts.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture.
Fill cookie press and press dough shapes 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Decorate with colored sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 6 minutes* or until edges just begin to brown.
Cool on wire racks.
*6 minutes works in my oven but adjust time for yours.
Now, if you really want to make this easy, gather all your ingredients ahead of time. I put my dry ingredients in a large bag and put in two wrapped sticks of butter and an egg (unbroken--duh). I put my sugars in a smaller bag and put this inside the big bag. Then I clip my recipe to the bag. I did this 2 weeks ago. The only thing I left out was the extracts, until I made the dough.
Then, yesterday, I mixed it all together. That way, when my little friend came to visit, all we had to do was fill the cookie press and start having fun!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday: Last Minute Meals

Shannon over there at Rocks in My Dryer has a cool topic for this week's "Works for Me Wednesday." What do you do when you have a headache, the kids and husband are hungry, it's dinnertime--and there are 3 ingredients left in your pantry? There are quite a few fun and interesting solutions over there, so please visit!

Here's mine:

Ground beef
Jarred spaghetti sauce
Pasta--usually spaghetti

Yeah, this is an Italian house. And my husband makes 'from scratch' sauce that would knock your eyes out. But that's for Sunday. It simmers all day long and is generally loaded with sausage, beef, meatballs, brasciole or any combination of these. Definitely not a last-minute meal!

Another easy one:

Cut up chicken or pork--brown it first, please! Or use leftovers
Gravy a la Alton Brown*

Alton Brown makes the easiest gravy on earth. It wasn't until I saw this on "Good Eats" that I could make gravy. All you need is: 1/2 stick butter (2 oz.)--1/4 Cup flour (2 oz.)--1 can broth (about 2 cups.) See the 2-2-2 theme? Just keep that in mind if you want to double this! Melt the butter. Add the flour and stir with a whisk for 2 minutes or so to make a roux. Dump in the broth and stir until thick. Dump in the meat. Cook about a half hour, maybe less. I rely on my meat thermometer for everything.
Serve over noodles.

Both of these meals assume you either have salad or vegetables in the house!

Now...the real trick to surviving last-minute meals? Prepping ahead! If you bring home ground beef, don't put the package in the fridge. Brown it first, then bag it according to how much your family would need in a recipe. I even add my spices and label the bags (Taco Meat or Chili Meat, for example). The only time I don't brown my g.b. is if I plan to make meatballs with it. Meatballs are more of a production, since I also add freshly ground pork tenderloin to the mix. I make those when I'm ambitious.

If you bring home chicken, clean and trim it! Mike brought me home 2 nice Top Round steaks this week, and I picked up 2 more on the way home from the doctor yesterday. (Half price, btw!) One went into last night's dinner. The others I cut up for stew and chili, then put in the freezer.

Take a tip from Rachel Ray: Prep your fruits and vegetables ahead of time, too. (I don't know why, but I hate the word 'veggies.') Just don't do this with berries, since they'll get moldy.

Believe me, in this past week when I was sick, it was a blessing to take things out of the freezer and have them 85% ready to go! You don't have to prep the moment you get back from the grocery. Hey, I'm a mom--I know you're tired! Just make sure you do the meat within a day or two.

PS--we eat pizza almost every week. And there are nights that mom's line is: "if you can find it and make it yourself, you can eat it." Believe me, much as I like to cook--I don't cook every night!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm still talkin' fuddy...

...sort of like Cartman in Southpark. But I did go to the doctor today. I have arithromicin (sp?) and guafesin (sp again--it's glorified Mucinex, I think!) and I hope these will knock this cold out once and for all. Thanks for all the good wishes. My doctor says my lungs don't sound too bad. I really feel I'm on the road to recovery.

Speaking of which, my mother is doing much better. I need to call her, when I can talk!

I also have 8,000,000 other things to do. This is a crummy time to get sick.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I've got my second cold in a week...or maybe it's a continuation of the first one? I was feeling fine when I went out with Mike on our anniversary. No more sore throat, just coughing a little. Then my voice started to 'go' as we were driving around after. Sure is almost completely shot now. My chest feels like I swallowed a brick. I slept on the couch most of the night so my coughing and wheezing wouldn't keep my husband up.
LOL...maybe that is why we are still married after 27 years. I do my best to let him sleep at night.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

27 Year Anniversary Today

Mike and I were married 27 years ago today, on a windy, chilly fall afternoon. My bride's maids all wore red, my favorite color. Mike knows it's my favorite...and that red roses are my favorite flower! I found this gorgeous arrangement on the piano. He gave me a beautiful card, too. He always puts cute little sentiments in it, like I'm his 'other half.' There's a story that says once there was only one type of person--no males or females. That person broke in two--and for all eternity one half always seeks the other. That's why you sometimes hear the expression 'my better half.'
The kids gave me candy. I think they gave Mike candy, too (the box looks like Baci...mine are Lindor Truffles, mmmmm) but he hasn't opened his box yet.

We're going out to dinner tonight. I'm not sure where I want to go yet. We're not into 'fancy,' so I think it will be a little restaurant in Northport (our favorite hangout) that serves great seafood.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Go check out some Christmas Trivia...

...over at Rabbit Run Cottage. Click the link on my sidebar. You won't be disappointed. Susie Q did some amazing research! I promise don't know everything there is to know about 'It's A Wonderful Life."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Get Thee to CVS!!!

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Today is Black Friday, as you know. Frankly, there's very little I need/want that I'd get up at 3 a.m. to buy. (Kohl's department store opened at 4 a.m. Geesh. My son said it's probably how they weed out the weirdos.)

Since there's a CVS in virtually every zip code, it's an easy place to do a little shopping today. Some of the buys I see in the circular include:

Craig MP3 player (1 GB) 29.99
Various toys: BOGO
Craig CD player 8.88 (I bought two of these!)

And the! You get some free after rebates on the following. All are limited to one, unless I put a number in a parenthesis after it:

Hershey's Extra Dark 5.1-5.2 oz. 2.99--Free after Rebate (FAR)
CVS pharmacy zipper seal food storage bags--(storage 20 count, freezer gallon, 15count) 1.79--FAR (3)
Colgate Total Advanced Clean plus whitening 4.2 oz or Maxfresh burst 4 oz 2.99 FAR (3)
Excedrin 24 ct, assorted types--3.79 FAR
Tylenol Extra Strength 10 ct, 2.49 FAR
Advil PM caplets 20 ct or liqui-gel 16 ct.--4.00 FAR
Garnier 100% color 5.99 FAR (I don't use this brand, so I don't know if there is a coupon someplace for it, but it would be worth checking!) (2)
Johnson's Softlotion 11-14 oz. 5.69 FAR
Softsoap Nutra-oil Moisturizing Body Wash 12 oz. 3.99 FAR
Bic Soleil Razor (package has 2 razor and 2 cartridges) 6.99 FAR

These deals only last until tomorrow, Saturday the 24th. I hope you get a chance to take advantage of them. And don't forget to use the ECBs you already have!

OH! And I learned something today I never knew. The cashier told me that ECBs are good up to one week after their expiration dates! So check your wallet--you might have one or two you can still use!

Thursday, November 22, 2007



Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mom Update

Well, first, I spoke to my mother a few days ago. She sounded much better. In fact, she doesn't remember me calling her right after the accident. Those pain meds were pretty strong! Now she says she only takes them to sleep at night.
Her arm, of course, is completely useless. She can't do a thing for herself. My sister washed her hair for her one day, and it was hard on my mom because she is a very modest person. But she says she knows she has to get over that.
Once a day she has to take off her sling (she has no cast) and when she does, she says her arm just drops. She has some exercises to do. I plan to call her tomorrow, Thanksgiving, and hope to hear of even more improvement.
The event must have been a nightmare for her. She was putting a bowl of something in the fridge and started to slip. (Her slippers had gotten wet when she was in the bathroom, from a wet rug. She didn't realize this.) Well, she tried to balance herself so the bowl wouldn't break and cut her. The bowl was fine...she didn't even spill anything, she said.
She said she was laying there for the longest time, praying for the strength to get up. Somehow, she scooted on the rug over to the table and got herself into a chair. Just then, the phone rang. It was my aunt calling her, as she does every day. She told Aunt Mary she had fallen. My aunt came right over. My mother also called her neighbor, who called 911.

I think of my mom laying there, helpless. She's such a go-getter and generally pretty healthy for 84 that I tend to forget that she isn't a kid. (She's a kid at heart, though!) She does take Fosamax for osteoporosis (sp?), and has honestly never broken a bone in her life.

I wrote to my sibs and asked what they think about getting her one of those Life Alert bracelets. I know the commercials are annoying, but "I've fallen and I can't get up" isn't so funny when it's your mom. My mother even said she likes the idea.

Not sure if I'm going to Ohio yet. Mom said to wait and see. My sister is with her this week. If I go, it will be next week or the week after. At that point, though, my mom might be so tired of company she'll need a break, LOL! And my aunt, of course, will stay with her.

I want to say thanks again for all the good prayers out there. I told my mother and she really appreciates them!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Easy Apron Tutorial

Here is a tutorial for a simple half-apron. All it takes is two large rectangles for the 'skirt', and 3 smaller ones for the waistband and ties.

1. For the width, measure around your waist for as far as you want the apron to wrap around you. I used the side seams of the pants I was wearing as a guide. You'll need to add 1 inch to this (for 2 half-inch seam allowances). Cut two pieces like this--one for the outside and one for the lining.
Cut a strip of fabric as wide as the waist, and four inches deep, for the waistband.
The ties are four inches deep by as wide as you need to be able to tie them. The full width of the fabric (45 inches) would make a nice sash. Mine are a little shorter than that because I'm using leftover fabric. (This being a frugal blog, you should also know the black fabric was bought on clearance after Christmas last year.)
NOTE: if you're going to add a pocket or any decorations to the front, now is the time to do it.
2. Pin your big rectangles right sides together along one side, across the bottom and up the other side. Sew on these seams. Leave the top open.
3. Clip the corners. This will make the skirt lay nicer when you turn it.

4. Turn the skirt inside out and press it. You now have something like a pillowcase, only with a long end open.
5. Fold the ties in half and sew along the long seam and across the end. Trim your seams and turn the sashes inside out. Press.
6. Take the waistband and press up a half inch along one long edge. Press in the short sides with a half inch seam.
7. Now take the waistband and pin the right side of it to the back of the apron. Be sure the short ends of the waistband are folded in. The folded in edges will match the finished edge of the skirt. Sew along the long edge.

8. Trim the seam allowance of the waistband, pretty close to the seam. Don't trim the front of the skirt (that's the black print you see along the edge). Grading seam allowances lets them lay nicer when you press them.
9. Now flip the waistband over to the front. Pin along the edge and stitch. This would be a nice place to do some decorative stitching, if you'd like.
Be sure that you only stitch the long edge, not the short sides!
You will now have a waistband with two opened edges. This is a good thing, so long as you remembered to keep your short ends tucked in.

10. Take the unfinished edge of your ties and make a little pleat so that it will fit into the opening of the waistband. You can tack this in place if you want. I just held it while doing the next step.

11. Tuck the tie into the waistband and sew in place.

Hey, look! You're finished! I added some lace to the bottom of mine.

Here is another version, a little more for the spring/summer!

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, and that it's clear enough. This is such a simple project that I hope it encourages some of you to dust off your sewing machines. Just think: no gathers, no buttonholes, no zippers! No darts! This can go together quickly and would make a nice gift!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

CVS Savings Today

CVS has some good buys today. I walked out with about $13 in ECBs.

The best deals:

Gillette Venus Razor on sale for 8.99-$2 mfr coupon=6.99 and you get a $4 ECB!
Gillette Fusion Razor on sale for 9.99-$2 mfr coupon=7.99 and you get a $5 ECB!

If you keep your coupons in their original flyers, like I do, the Gillette Coupons are found in Proctor & Gamble. But even without the coupons, this is a good deal. They are nice enough to put away for stocking stuffers if no one in your house needs them now.

On top of this, check out the Halloween Clearance Section. My CVS is up to 90% off. Think of those little candies for stocking stuffers. And plain orange candles can also be used for Thanksgiving decor! Non-food items, like the cute little ceramic haunted house I got for 19 cents, can be put away for next year, of course.

My trip summary says I saved 43.93 today! I hope that you all get some good buys today, too!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

People who have stopped by Shereen's blog today are displaying some really, really nice things. Please visit "Waiting for Him, " over there on my blog list, for some crafty enjoyment!

Here's my donation today:

This skirt and top comes from a back issue of Ottobre magazine. It is about a size 3 and made of knit. That white thing hanging on the shirt will be the binding around the neck. It matches the waistband on the little skirt, which has a kangaroo pocket.

This was pretty easy to put together. I bought the fabric from someone on a site I belong to called "Sewing Mamas" and got a good deal. The Ottobre magazine came from eBay. If you want to drool over the cutest kids' clothes, check out their site. The magazine features all the patterns. have to trace each one for yourself. That's the only annoying thing, but the results are fun. I'm giving this to a friend's little girl. It should fit her next spring.

Yes, Jude, if you're reading this...the dress is for Ada!

My daughter is 23!

This is the last of 3 fall birthdays here. That cute little clown on the side there, the same girl holding Shadow the Police Pup in the photo below, turned 23 today. Katherine is everything I could have imagined in a daughter. She's Awesome...and I meant to put that capital A there.

We had lunch at a favorite restaurant. We both had Shrimp Francese, although I had mine with rice and she had hers with linquini. Afterwards, we shopped in a little boutique (she didn't get anything but I bought a cute discounted Halloween figurine) and then we went to another store that features bulk candy and I treated her to a bagful.

We also perused an antique store but didn't get anything. (Frankly, after having done the vintage thing in Pennsylvania and Ohio, I could never bring myself to pay 8 times the price for anything here on Long Island.)

My daughter asked me a profound question. She asked if the world has changed much for the worse since I was a kid. She worries that when she is my age, she'll be thinking how much worse it is compared to her young days, now. I told her there is one thing I believe: no matter what the media pushes at you, the vast majority of people are GOOD. And the things we worry will happen, might never happen. For example (I told her), our big worry back in the early 70s was population explosion--how would we feed everyone? Who on earth could have imagined the scientific breakthroughs we have now that have improved agriculture?

And considering that we've had the ability to destroy this planet for roughly 70 years, but we haven't...doesn't that tell you something?

There are things I wish my kids could experience that I experienced. But they have things now that didn't exist when I was a kid. So yeah, there are things that aren't as good...but there are also things that are better. And in the long run, it is the way we raise our kids that determines what the world will be like in the future. My kids are turning out pretty cool, so they are hope for the future.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mom's Doctor Visit Today

This is from an e-mail my brother sent out:

"Upper arm is broken, 4 pieces floating around up near the shoulder. Doc did not think surgery a good idea at her age, suggesting outcome would perhaps be worse than present treatment. Which treatment is binding of the arm and a sling. She is allowed to take off the sling and binding to bathe, and he wants her to be flexing the forearm at the elbow to maintain flexibility. Won't be able to raise her arm for a few weeks (4-6 in the sling...figure the longer I would guess). There will be therapy involved down the road. For now the bones need to start knitting.Next appt is in a week. I didn't raise the issue of driving, but imagine that will be later rather than sooner."

The "I" in the above is my brother Bill. He's staying with Mom until next week. My sister plans to come out around then, and then my other sister will be there Thanksgiving week. I'm thinking the first week of December--either myself or myself with Katherine.
Bill says my mom is depressed. No wonder. This is her busiest time of year, with the holidays coming up. She is very involved in her church and in a hospital volunteer group. What I'm hoping is that, by the time the holidays near, she'll be so used to the bandages/sling that she'll be able to do a lot of things. Driving, of course, is out of the question. But my mom has a lot of friends, so even if we kids aren't there, she will definitely have no problem with chauffering!
My Aunt Mary, Mom's older sister, is there helping, too. She is 87. Bill says she's an enormous help.
For the record, this incident is one reason why I hope and pray that Mike and I will be able to stay here on Long Island, near our kids, when we retire. My family is all over the map, and I hate being 500 miles away from my mom at times like this!
Thanks again for all the good thoughts and prayers. At the very least, I'm glad my mother won't need surgery. She might not have healed any faster with it, anyway!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mom, continued

My brother is with her now. My niece was there this past weekend and told my brother that she has been improving. She was able to eat a little dinner last night. Bill (my bro) says she is taking what pain meds she needs. I'm glad of that. He's going to stay as long as is necessary.
We are both surprised that she is not in a cast. Bill says it looks like she's taped up. The injury was high up on her arm, which is probably why they think there is shoulder damage, too.
She sees an orthopedist tomorrow, Thursday. I appreciate all the prayers and will keep everyone posted!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Mom Update

My computer has been on the fritz all day, but my son just fixed it for me. So I'm late, but sincere, in my thanks for all the good wishes!

My sister gave me this update: my mother is in a lot of pain, and it seems she not only broke her arm, but her shoulder is injured. She might need surgery. She is trying not to take too much of the pain medication because it puts her to sleep, but I say...take it! That's what it's there for! And really, who cares if she sleeps? It isn't like she can go anywhere.

My niece has been with her these past few days and apparently took her to the doctor. I haven't heard any more about that. My brother will be there in a day or two, and my aunt is with her. My sister will be there Thanksgiving Week.

Again, thanks so much for the good thoughts and prayers!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

My Mom...

...broke her arm yesterday. Her right arm. And she's 84 years old.

My brother just called to tell me. Apparently, she was putting something in the fridge, and she turned and slipped on something and went down...and there went her arm.

She has my aunt and friends from church to help her, but I told my brother I'm willing to fly out there (from New York to Ohio) to help if needed.

I don't know anything else about it. I figured I'd call her tomorrow--she's probably on pain meds today. Tomorrow, I'll have my daughter arrange to have flowers sent to her, too.

She might need surgery on the arm, so any good thoughts and prayers will be appreciated!

Familiar Footsteps

We live in a high ranch, so anyone coming in has to walk up or down a flight of steps to get to different levels of the house. And I have discovered recently that I recognize everyone's footsteps! They all sound different. In my husband's case, I also get the extra clue of hearing him drop his gym bag on the floor of the foyer/landing.

Do you find that you are also in tune to the different footsteps of your family members, so that you can call out to them without even turning around?

Friday, November 02, 2007

A little night visitor

Katherine knocked on my door at about 1 in the morning to tell me there was a little owl sitting on the tree by our deck. Just sitting there, not moving. He was still there when I went out to look, and posed very politely for a photo before taking off. He (she?) was only about 8 inches tall. Is he cute? I've never seen a wild owl this close. In fact, in my 51+ years of life here on Long Island, I've never seen an owl at all!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

He's 21 today

That's my son Jamie, "James" to his friends, 3rd from the left in the baseball cap. Today is his 21st birthday!

Here's a picture of Jamie when he was about five years old. I made the shirt, using 'free hand embroidery' to do the Jurassic Park logo. What a job. Believe me...I was a lot more ambitious back then! Jamie loved the movie Jurassic Park. He had all the toys and stuffed dinosaurs!
PS...please scroll down for another picture of Shadow...with my daughter. (She'll be 23 in 8 days!)

A little more dignified

Here is Shadow with his other mommy, my daughter Katherine. Now he is dressed up like a police officer. I think he likes this costume! There is a little felt night stick and felt handcuffs. Katherine wants to be a cop someday, so this costume is appropriate! (Last year, Shadow was a prisoner!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween: The Awwww Factor

Is dis not da kewtest
puppy piggy ever????


Frankie and I wish you all a Happy and Safe Halloween!!!!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CVS Buys Today

Here is what I did at CVS today. I started off with two ECB coupons--$5 off anything and $4 off if you spent $20.
I bought a Shick Inuition Razor for my daughter at 9.99, with a $2 coupon...and I got back a $4 ECB.
2 boxes of BenGay Patches at 5.99, with a $1 coupon...and I got back a $5 ECB.
Some Halloween candy, Campbell's Soup-in-Hand and Softsoap Bodywash, all on sale.
Sudafed PE 18 count, 5.49 on sale for 3.99, with a 1.50 mfr coupon--final price 2.49, less than half price!
The only non-sale things I picked up were 2 snowman dinner plates (I'm collecting a set a piece or two at a time) and a bag of Tootsie Roll Pops.

Original total before ECBs and mfr coupons: 48.70. Final price--28.24! That's about a 42% savings.

Hope you all get some good buys this week, too!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Please scroll down!

I wrote a post the other day to publish today, Saturday. But Blogger put it under my friday post. Please scroll down to read about how I do coupons!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Blouse

This morning, I put the sleeves in the green blouse I've had hanging in my closet forever. I actually posted about the trimmed yolk a long time long ago that I can't find the post.

To make the trim, I traced over the top of the blouse front pattern twice--one longer than the other, as you see. Then I added some needlepoint ribbon to the edge. I simply laid the pieces on top of the blouse and attached them, leaving the bottom (the ribbon side) open. You can't see it in this picture, but the yolk pieces look sort of like pleats.

This pattern was originally meant to have short sleeves. I had to find another pattern with sleeves that would fit this one, which is one reason it has taken so long to finish this. Now I'll be in search of buttons. I wish someone would have them on sale. I put a lot of work into this and I don't want to use cheesey buttons. But they are so expensive!

I would like to find buttons in the darker rose of the trim, and then use a similar rose color to bind the neckline.

Hmmmph...maybe I'll actually get to wear this next fall!
Please visit Shereen's blog, Waiting for Him, for more Friday Craftiness!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Way I Do Coupons

This is probably a little too much work for some, but it's what I finally settled on as the best way for me to keep track of my coupons. In the long run, I think it takes less time than the way I used to do it. I used to clip my coupons every week and sort them by category into several small accordian folders: one for food, one for health and beauty and one for household. Then I read of a different idea and adapted it for my own use.

I keep my coupon circulars in a 3-ring binder. Being a scrapbooker, I have plenty of page protectors. If you don't know what that is, it's a plastic pocket with 3 holes on the margin. You slip your scrapping page inside and put it in a binder. (They come in larger sizes, too, but 8.5 x 11 is my scrap size of choice.)

So, each week I put my circulars in the plastic sleeves, one circular per sleeve. I use a permanent marker to write the date on the margin of the sleeve, and the initial of the circular--V for Valassis, for example. The two 'biggies' for coupons are Valassis and Smart Source. There are several others that appear periodically, like Proctor & Gamble.

I've been playing the "Grocery Game" for several years now. If that was the only thing I did regarding my shopping, I'd leave this coupon method as it is. GG gives you a list of sales each week and which circular you can search for a coupon. But I also want to use coupons for CVS and other places. So I list my coupons each week in a notebook. At first, this might seem like just one more job to do. But, of course, I don't use every coupon in every circular. So jotting down a list of what I might use from each one only takes a few minutes. I divide them as I used to divide the accordian folders: Food, Health & Beauty and Household. I write the expiration date next to the coupons and if I need to buy more than one item. I don't write down the amounts, although that would probably be a logical step. If I'm going to use a coupon, I'm going to use it no matter what the amount on it.

When you do this for a while, you start to become very familiar with what is available. So when I glance over the CVS circular, for example, I pretty much know whether or not there's a coupon someplace in my binder.
After using a coupon, I cross it off the list. Towards the end of every month, I take a quick look at my notebook and see if there are any coupons about to expire. Some will just go in the trash, but if there is an item I need, I will clip that coupon and see if I can find the item on sale.

So, anyway, that's how I do coupons. It does take me some time, but is well worth it for the money I save. Oh, and those page protectors? When I've used up a circular, I take the empty sleeve, change the date, and use it for a new one.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Coupons: need now vs. need later

I often hear the warning about coupons that they can make you buy things you don't really need. Well, duh...why would I buy something I don't need? It may be something I want. In that case, if it's on sale with a coupon, why not? It might be something new I want to try, or something I really like but couldn't normally afford. Case in point: my gray hair has really, really grown out. But I can't see paying $9.99 for haircolor when it goes on sale sometimes. Of course, it is just my luck the brand I like (Excellence by L'Oreal, btw) hasn't been on sale anywhere in a long, long time.
Finally, today it was! 6.99--plus I had a $2 coupon. Hooray! I'm gonna have auburn hair soon! For half price! (If I had another coupon, I'd buy another box for next time...a 'need later'.)

So that's a 'want' I waited on, although for my self-esteem it was probably a 'need now,' LOL!

Okay, so...need now vs. need later: maybe the coupon caveat should be: is it something you need now, or will need within the next (insert time frame here)?

Toothpaste seems to go on sale every week at one store or another. I've gotten some great buys. Toothpaste is certainly a 'need.' But when I did inventory, I realized I have enough toothpaste to last at least two, possibly three, months. So I will not even look at a toothpaste coupon for a while. The only exception was a recent deal at the grocery where a tube of Aquafresh turned out to be free after a coupon. Even if I had 100 tubes, I would be foolish to pass up 'free.'

So before you coupon shop, check and see how many of something you have. Is it enough to get you through the next two months or so? Then, unless you are saving a HUGE amount of money on the product, don't buy it. Put that money towards something you need now. Ha, ha, if I'd put together all the money I saved from things I didn't buy, I could have paid full price for my haircolor a week ago...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Meaty Tips for Saturday

You know those two pull out drawers in the bottom of your fridge? I think one is supposed to be for vegetables and one for fruit. Well, I use one for meat. It keeps the raw meat away from everything else in the fridge. (I think there is a meat drawer...but I use that for cheese and cold cuts, LOL!) When meat comes home from the grocery, and it's the kind I want to prep ahead (by cutting or browning, for example), I'll store it there until I'm ready to work on it. Then it gets packed and goes up in the freezer until I need it.

To me, the easiest way to brown a lot of ground beef is in the oven. I put it in a big lasagna pan and put it in the oven at 350 degrees. I let it cook about a half hour, using a wooden spoon to 'break it up' and stir it occasionally. Sometimes I'll add an envelope of onion soup mix or two, other other spices. Even salt and pepper is enough to give you a jumpstart on a meal.

When the meat cools down a little, I use a slotted spoon and put it in either zipper bags or plastic containers. For my house, a gallon bag holds plenty for one meal. If I've used spices with a future dish in mind (like enchildadas) I'll label the bag accordingly.

The bags or containers go into the fridge drawer first, because I don't want to put hot things in my freezer. When they've cooled enough, they get frozen.

Want to hear the best meat tip I ever heard? It isn't really for's for that meat drawer. Next time you clean it out, line it with a section of old newspaper. The newsprint will absorb anything that drips from the meat packaging. So when you go to clean again, you only have to give it a spray with cleaner and wipe it out--no cleaning up that gicky, icky, sticky stuff that happens when meat juice coagulates!

Pardon me, now. I have to go take out meat to thaw for next week's dinners...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

Here are some little pajamas (size 12 months) I am making. The white things hanging from the shoulders are the elastic for the ankles. I've never made footsie PJs before and am finding the feet very, very frustrating. See, the instructions say to sew a casing around the ankle seam for the elastic. Except...they say to do this after the bottom of the foot is sewn on. do you get at the ankle? I thought to put the leg on the machine from the top down...but the sewing machine arm is too wide and I can't get the leg on that way.
I asked the friend who gave me the pattern, and she said she opened out the back seam of the foot and sewed the elastic directly onto the ankle without a casing. But just opening that part still doesn't leave me enough room to work. If I take the foot off and do it that way, then the bottom of the leg is too wide. I just can't figure it out.
Too bad my friend lives in Pennsylvania or I'd have her show me. One Christmas, she made roughly 25 sets of red jammies as Christmas presents for all the kids in her church. It was amazing. Her two boys and her husband helped, too!
Please visit Shereen at Waiting for Him for more crafty deliciousness.
PS...I actually cut the feet of the lavendar PJs I was making, the casing/elastic was so messed up. But I figure a baby can wear it over lighter a blanket she can't throw off.

One last thought (and it's long)

Brenda hits it right on the head when she suggests 'all talk and no do' will not achieve anything. It's just a shame that today's mommies and daddies have to put up with this kind of nonsense at all--as if there isn't enough to worry about.

I think probably the best place to start is in the voting booth--from the school board all the way up to president of the U.S.A. I truly believe there are probably more people who think like we do than not. (It just seems that the opposite is true here in NY because this is a predominantly liberal/democrat state. I'm sure you can guess, though, that I did NOT vote for Hillary.)

The other action takes place at home. I read somewhere that kids are influenced by their parents more than anyone else. I'd like to think that is true. We've had our 'rough times' with my four, as any parents do, but in the end they're all turning out to be great adults. We parents set the best example for our kids. That's one reason I questioned what kind of home life a 12-year-old has if he's already 'doing it.' Either his parents are overly strict and he's rebelling...or they just plain don't care...or something far worse (read: abuse) is going on. I'll say it again...behavior like this doesn't come from nothing.

Susie Q, I'm so happy to hear Gracie is enjoying her childhood to the fullest. With a great mom like you, she's well-grounded in what's right and good. Let me tell you a story about my daughter...

When she was in high school, she was very shy. Another girl took her under her wing. This other girl had some problems, but in general was pretty nice and never asked Katherine to do anything bad. (One great thing about my daughter...she has always been very open with me. I'm sure there were lots of secrets, as all kids have, but she told me quite a lot). For the record, this girl is our neighbor and I like her family. And I really like her, too. Okay, but there was a problem. See, once your kid becomes friends with someone, they are also exposed to that other person's 'friends.' And in this girl's case, the friends weren't exactly 'nice.'

My daughter truly was an innocent. She knew about things, but in her shy way did not know how to stand up for her beliefs. One day, a kid handed her a small bag of pot. Now, Katherine would never use the stuff, nor would she have anything to do with it. All she did was pass this little bag on to the recipient. It was in her hands maybe 2 minutes. That in itself was wrong, but I guess she thought, "I'm not using it, it isn't mine, so it doesn't matter." That's one thing about kids, they are far too young to think around all sides of things.

Well, the kid got caught with it. And guess where he said he got it from? Yeah, you got it. My daughter. A few other names came up, but do you think any of them 'fessed up? We taught our children to respect authority, and Katherine told the truth. She was the only one who told the truth...and it got her 2 months suspension from school for...get this...distribution.

It was an absolute nightmare time. I remember being in bed crying my eyes out, terrified my little girl (I guess she might have been 14 or 15) was going to juvie. We even got her a lawyer--who, by the way, was appalled by the fact that the school questioned my daughter and then kept her in an office three hours without a parent! Fortunately, there was no hearing, but if there had been we would have nailed them for doing that.

Learn something from this, moms and dads--tell your kids if they are ever in an uncomfortable position at school, they don't have to say a word without you there!

Okay, so let me tell you where this took my daughter. She was now no longer an innocent. It was hard for her to trust. But it also made her stronger and better at standing up for her beliefs. She became part of a group called Natural Helpers, in which students help other students. It was when she first thought she might want to go into law enforcement.

And she agrees that getting caught was a blessing in disguise. It was only a little bag. But if this had gone on, and she continued to innocently think there was nothing wrong with just passing something between two people, there might have been something worse involved--and worse consequences.

So, see, my kids aren't perfect. This was probably the worst thing that happened to any of them, behavior-wise. But in the way I believe Susie Q's little girl is well-grounded in good, so are my kids. As adults, they would never drink and drive or take drugs. They don't lie, cheat or steal. Every one of them will lend you a hand if you need it. And they have very definite opinions of what is right and wrong. We are not a religious family, but we respect others' beliefs. I don't think I did a great job with them, but I did better than a pretty good job, LOL!

If you got this far with this, thanks! And I'll be back later with Sew Crafty Friday...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On a soapbox today

Once again, I am reminded of why I am soooooo glad my youngest will be out of the public school system in less than 2 years. I feel sorry for today's parents and the crap they have to put up with.

First, schools take away the pleasure of a child bringing in cupcakes on his/her birthday.

Now we have a school up in Maine (and I'm sure that's not the only place) that has voted to allow the distribution of condoms to middle school kids.

So, let's can't have a cupcake, but you can have a condom? In the immortal words of the Geico caveman: Uhhhh....what?

No wonder so many people choose to homeschool.

Some questions I have:

1. Why on earth would a 13-year-old need one? (And I ain't talking cupcakes.) And never mind some of these kids are only 11!!!! Yeah, yeah, I know...there's this whole health thing and all that. And I, for one, don't think simply offering birth control encourages promiscuity (sp?). But we're talking an 11-year-old kid, not a 19-year-old college student!!!

Some would argue, 'well, if they're going to do it anyway, I'd rather they were protected.'

It's like the parents who let kids drink in their homes because, 'they're going to do it anyway, at least I can keep an eye on them.' (And then one sneaks out, goes driving, and kills himself in an accident.)

But why is a pre-teen child doing it anyway? I don't live in a rose-colored cottage and I am a child of the 60s and 70s. I'm pretty open-minded about 'adult' things. Frankly, what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their home is their business. I know reality. But my reality has no room for 11 to 13-year-olds doing 'it.' These kids are supposed to be going to the movies, and playing video games, and eating junk food and generally enjoying the last years of childhood. Today's kids probably face 80+ years of adulthood. With only 10%-ish allowed for childhood, why are we robbing kids of something so rare and precious? question:

2. Where did the kid get the idea in the first place? Let's assume most kids won't be even remotely interested at 11-13. I said 'interested,' not 'curious.'
And let's say you are a guidance counselor and a little 12-year-old boy comes to you for a condom. The school says you have to give it to him. But if you are astute, you will wonder about this request. Because, 12-year-olds don't 'do it.' So...why? Where did this come from?

What in the name of heaven kind of life has this kid had that he's messing around at twelve?????? It can't just be that dad left a few copies of a certain magazine laying around. Could it be there is something more happening in that house? Something to think about!

OMG, this is going on far too long. I have so many thoughts, and I do haved some trouble organizing them. My heart truly goes out to you young parents of today. The only thing I can hope is that your values are so strong and so well ingrained in your kids that they won't be steered by society--not even by the schools where they are supposed to be safe from the outside world.

I said it before and I'll say it again:

Being a child is a right.
Being an adult is a privelege.

And shame on anyone who takes away any child's right to not even begin thinking of adult things!

I would love to hear what others have to say on this topic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ridiculously Easy Dinner

One thing that makes dinner easier is when you prep food ahead of time. In tonight's case, I had trimmed and cut up boneless chicken a week or so ago and put it in the freezer. I took it out on Sunday, which is the day I take out my meat for the week. I had originally intended to have it in enchiladas.
But biscuits were on sale at the supermarket. You know, the refrigerated kind. Much as I love to cook, there are a few things I simply can't figure out...and biscuits is one of them (say that, 'one of them is biscuits'--it sounds better).
So, tonight's dinner: I put some canola oil in a non-stick skillet and dumped in my bite-size pieces of chicken. I cooked them a little, then added salt and onion powder. Then I let them cook until they were nicely browned. Caramelized, that is!
Step two, I dumped on two undiluted cans of cream of chicken soup (also on sale!) and gave it a stir. Then I turned the heat down and let the chicken simmer for about an hour.

I made the biscuits, which we split open and topped with the chicken. Yummy! Like the best part of chicken pot pie...which, you know, is the biscuits with that gravy, not the vegetables or even the meat. (Speaking of vegetables...this is what salad is for, LOL!)

Try this sometime!

BTW, does anyone else think (like I do) that chicken just tastes better if it has some color? I see recipes for chicken where they didn't brown it, so you get this pale, sad looking piece of meat. Caramelizing rules!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Variations on a Sewing Theme

A versatile pattern is really frugal. You buy it once and you can use it over and over. Here is my second version of the tunic pattern:

In this version, I'm putting some of my vintage lace at the neckline and sleeves. I still have to do a little sewing on this, but should have it done by the weekend.

Now, I don't want a whole sloo of tunics just like this...plain with my next step will be to see if I can fiddle around with the pattern and come up with something different. I think I'd like to try a sweetheart neckline, and maybe some vertical trim rather than horizontal. We'll see!

Oh, the fabric only cost me $3 a yard. I have a store near me called "Fabric 1, 2 and 3 Dollars." Not sure I'd put work into dollar-a-yard fabric (you get what you pay for) but the $3/yard stuff is just as nice as anything that costs twice the price. I only wish they sold knits. I just bought my first Ottobre magazine, and most of the stuff in there involves knits. (If you never heard of Ottobre Magazine, just google it. If you sew, I promise you it's real eye candy!)

Here is a close-up of the sleeve lace--which is also what I'm using at the neckline.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Looky! I got an award!

Robin at Bittersweet Punkin gave me a "You Make Me Smile" award. It's her birthday today, but she gave me a nice present!
Well, Robin (aka Punkin), you make me smile, too! So I'm handing the reward right back atcha--even if you already have it. Two rewards are even better than one, LOL!
I admit to being a bloghopping addict. I love reading about the lives of other 'ordinary' people like me. I think most of you are extraordinary! Extraordinary in your devotion to your families, in your creative talents, in your clever ways to save time and money. I am soooooooo inspired by many blogs! But...I understand that I can only pay this forward to 10 bloggers. So here are my 10:
1. Robin, at Bittersweet Punkin
2. Susan at Blackberry Creek
3. Kim at Daisy Cottage
4. Heather at The 6 Scavos
5. Kelly at According to Kelly
6. Susie Q at Rabbit Run Cottage
7. Maggie at The Erratic Homemaker
8. Shereen at Waiting for Him
9. Jenn at Frugal Upstate
10. Becka at Renaissance
You are all the best! (And for those I could not include, you're the best, too!)
Thanks again, Punkin Pie! And...HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday

I had this button-down shirt I had worn for a few years. When I took it out of the attic, I noticed there were tears in it. I think something caught it in the wash--maybe a broken zipper? Anyway, I put it on my mannequin to see if I could rescue it. Unfortunately, the tears were in such places as they couldn't be hidden by appliques. And I couldn't cut the shirt for a new shirt. So...I took the biggest piece, which is the back, and cut two rectangles from it. Then I appliqued two maple leaves on it to hide the tears. The dark red one is fleece. The peachy one is leftover fabric from a blouse I made earlier this year. And the red lace? Cut from the neckline of a t-shirt that no longer fits! It measures about 12 x 16 inches. I haven't stuffed it yet. And I might use dimensional paint to make the veins in the leaves...if I get ambitious.
I hope you like my recycled fall pillow! Check out more goodies at "Waiting for Him" (see my sidebar) and join in "Sew Crafty Friday"!

Seven Things Meme

Susie Q over at Rabbit Run Cottage tagged anyone who wants to play for a meme that lists 7 things no one knew about you.

Maybe some of you do know these things, but here goes:

1. I am afraid of spiders and falling down stairs. The other day at work, there was a wolf spider with a HUGE web blocking my way I had to hunt around Dr. A's property until I found something (a hoe, I think) to knock the web out of the way. I will never kill a spider outside--it is their territory--but I sure ain't gonna walk into a web that is 3 feet across with a BIG, GIGANTIC KILLER SPIDER in the middle! (Don't laugh, but I did apologize to it for destroying its beautiful web.)
Stairs...I had to walk down the scariest, highest, steepest cement stairs five days a week for several years, between college and work. It was the way to get down from the raised railroad platform to the street. I never got used to it. If it snowed, I'd get off at the previous station, which was street level, and walk the extra half mile...rather than walk down icy or snowy steps. I learned from a Charlie Brown cartoon that it's called "Climbakaphobia," which I am certain I did not spell right.

2. I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for college. My gym class was bowling in Madison Square Garden. I started out in Fashion Design but couldn't cut it. Damn, I hated draping mannequins (it's how you start when you want to turn a drawing into a real garment)! I switched from Fashion Design to Advertising and Communications and went from a C- student to a dean's list student. Guess I'm better at writing than fashion design.

3. My first job was as an editor on a children's wear trade magazine, Earnshaw's Review. I loved that job! I got to see the cutest kids' outfits and write about them. I was often taken to lunch at wonderful restaurants I could never have afforded otherwise.

4. I think a lot of you know that I write, but did you know my first 12 novels were in the horror/supernatural genre? Wow, I'd love to write a scary book again, but they don't seem to sell like they did back in the 80s. It was a LOT easier to sell a book back then, IMHO. I feel sorry for new kids starting out today. My first book, btw, was influenced by "The Amityville Horror." I had read a two-page spread in the Long Island Press about this house in Amityville that was haunted. So I was inspired to write the first book I ever published. It's called "Ghost House," if you want to know. None of my books are in print now, but sometimes they show up at garage sales or in libraries. Or on eBay.
Once, one of my bils read a book by me and said to my sister..."and I thought (she) was such a nice person!" Well, heck...I AM a nice person! In fact, this list might tell you I'm not only nice, but utterly boring. I just like a good scary book. (I don't like bloody horror movies with no real purpose except to be icky and gorey, though.)

5. I am most proud, though, of the 13th, 14th and 15th books I wrote. They are for middle-grade readers under the collective title "Journey to America." They are about immigrant children, from Ireland, Poland and Cambodia. Alas, like the horror market, the historical children's fiction market also died down. Some of you might remember how the "Dear America" series took up shelves and shelves in bookstores. You are lucky if you can find them now. Forget about my books...although I know they are in a lot of libraries.

6. You can tell by my screen name that I love animals, but did you know I've kept rats as pets? They are the sweetest, cleanest, most loving caged animals on earth. I would give a child a rat way before I'd give her a hamster. Hamsters are nasty and they bite. Rats do NOT bite...unless you stick your finger in their cage and they think it's a tasty treat, LOL!
PS, speaking of animals, my silly animal dream is to have an alpaca farm one day. That is...if I could find someone to hire for the shearing, LOL!

7. My favorite actor is Vincent D'Onofrio. I'm into Vincent the way Susie Q is into Brian Dennehy. Both of them ruggedly handsome in their own unusual ways. I'm with Susie Q--who needs a pretty boy when you have Brian and Vincent?

I'm sorry if I bored you all. Later, I'll post my Sew Crafty Friday project!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

Want to know a way to use less printer ink? Next time you want to print out only part of a page, highlight what you want to print (just left-click and hold the button down as you drag over the desired passage). Then, when the "print" box pops up, look at the "Print Range" box in the lower left. Click the button next to "selection," then click 'print.' Now your printer will only print what you highlighted.

I learned this the hard way a while back. Clicked on 'print' and came back to find the darn printer had done up roughly 30 pages.

Oh, and don't forget...if you don't need a nice copy, use the 'quick print' option under preferences!

I haven't participated in Works for Me Wednesday in a while, mostly because I'm in awe of the brilliant tips found there each week. You want to see some great ideas? Pay a visit:

Looking for a site I lost

Edited: Thanks for the help! Maggie reminded was ebates! Thanks, Maggie!

Okay, a few months ago I switched computers. In the process, I 'lost' some things. Including the name of a rewards site. You know the kind I click there first, then you click on the site where you want to buy something, and the first site keeps track and gives you a percentage of what you spent? For the life of me, I can't remember what this was called. The only reason I remembered it at all is because I just checked out "Works for Me Wednesday" over at "Rocks in my Dryer" and someone mentioned a rewards site. Can anyone give me some names? I'm sure I'll recognize it when I see it. I know I have something in that account, and with Christmas coming up, I can use it!
Thanks for any help!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yummy dinner tonight

I'm sitting here savoring Moo Shu Pork, one of my favorite Chinese dishes. And I didn't even have to go out for it. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I'd thawed out last week, but couldn't use. (Being sick one day threw my whole menu off.) So instead of the roast I had planned, I cut it up and browned it, then put it back in the freezer. Today, it came out and was mixed with spices and store bought cole slaw mix. The recipe goes together really fast, and tastes amazing. I think the recipe originates with Taste of Home, which tells you it is user-friendly.

In case you never heard of it, imagine tender, shredded pork with chopped vegetables in an oriental style sauce, all served in a warm tortilla. (They use some kind of pancake in Chinese restaurants, but a flour tortilla does the trick.) I actually got the tortillas at Trader Joe's last night. I had tried the handmade tortillas from there a while back and swore I'd never get the supermarket kind again. So soft and yummy!

Moo Shu comes in many varieties. You could substitute chicken...or maybe some of that leftover turkey you're going to have in a month or two. Take a look at the recipe and adapt it to use up some of your leftovers. I promise...try it, you'll like it!

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Mike and I like to take a ride out on the island to hit the farmstands at least once a year. But I have to tell you, it ain't what it used to be. There were a lot more farms when I was first married 27 years ago. They've been closed down one by one to make room for more strip malls or housing developments. Considering how ridiculous property tax is around here, half a wonder the old mom and pop farms have closed.

But there are still a few. The kind I like are the smaller, more family-operated ones. I'd rather buy my locally grown corn and tomatoes from a little guy just trying to make a few bucks than from the huge place across the street (complete with hay rides, a corn maze a pick-your-own pumpkins).

I used to have a farmstand within walking distance of my house, but they sold the property about a year ago. There are many scrapbook pages about pumpkin picking there each year! Places change, people and businesses come and go...but sometimes I wish they wouldn't.

Today I bought corn, tomatoes, cucumbers and the most delicious macoun favorite! I bought a little scarecrow and a net pumpkin on a stick. Both were very reasonably priced and now decorate my front yard. I passed on the candy apples. I love those, but you don't know when they were made. They could be smushy on the inside and sticky on the outside. I plan to make some soon, anyway. I'm still planning on caramel apples, but somehow I keep forgetting to buy the caramels, LOL!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend, and enjoys the holiday tomorrow!

Friday, October 05, 2007

I won a prize!

First, be sure to scroll down for "Sew Crafty Friday."

Second...I won a prize! I won one of the Day Four prizes from "Blackberry Creek," Susan's blog! It is the prettiest fabric. I know I'm going to get a lot of use out of it. Thanks so much, Susan! I never* win anything, so this has really made my day!

There are a collection of hand-dyed fat quarters in the most gorgeous colors! And a half yard of really cute gardening fabric! Hmmmm...maybe I'll make myself a gardening apron. It might inspire me to finally plant all those danged bulbs I bought. We'll see! All I know is, I'll have a lot of fun with these!

*Well, okay--once I won a 3 foot tall chocolate Easter bunny. But that was so long ago that it was about the same size as my youngest son was back then...and now he is about 5' 8" tall. Honestly, I don't think I'd want to win a 5' 8" tall chocolate Easter bunny!

Thanks again, Susan!

Sew Crafty Friday: Blouse

One thing I love about "Sew Crafty Friday," over at Shereen's Blog, "Waiting for Him" (see sidebar), is that it forces me to work on things that might otherwise hang undone for ages. Trust me on this, I have a LOT of WIPs that hang for ages. But today, I actually finished this blouse!
It is Simplicitly 6715. There are several versions of this top, and pants, too. I like it because there are no buttons or zippers to deal with. I had to alter it a bit because the sleeves were too long and the bust fell in totally the wrong place for my figure. The mannequin made changing the darts quite easy. But all in all, a very easy pattern that I certainly plan to use again.
The lace is from my grandmother's collection. I think I got the fabric at Joanne's.

Don't forget to visit Shereen's blog for more goodies! More important, show something off! Anything 'crafty,' whether it be crochet, embroidery, a scrapbook page...or even the way you decorated for Halloween!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

So glad I planned ahead this week

As you know, yesterday I cooked up some ground beef and made two different recipes, which then went into the freezer. I don't do the total OAMC (once a month cooking) thing because I actually like to cook, and I really don't want to have it all done in one Sunday afternoon. Still, to have a few 'ready' meals in the freezer is a great thing.
Today--well, very early this morning--I woke up with one of those killer sinus headaches, a stomach ache and general icky-feelingness. You know what I'm talking about...nothing you take helps. Although I'm feeling better now, I'm really tired. Waaaay too tired to make dinner.
So...I am very, very glad that I had taken meat out of the freezer for this week last Saturday, including a brown sugar meatloaf. Yesterday, while on my cooking spree, I prepared filling for stuffed mushrooms. So, tired as I was, I had a nice dinner ready to go tonight. I just popped the meatloaf in the oven, cleaned and stuffed the mushrooms, and now we're eating a pretty good dinner.
Vegetables are just leftover broccoli au gratin from last night.

So...make your life easier and think ahead. Don't just make up a menu plan...take that meat out of the freezer! While last night was meatless (mac & cheese), tonight was the meatloaf, and we'll be having some kind of pork tenderloin and an Oven stuffer. With Italian style cauliflower, whichever night I want to make it, LOL!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Nicer stuff

If you want to read a vent, scroll down. I was griping about people knocking on your door asking for donations...for things you don't really know about.

But on a better note...I'm doing the freeze ahead thing in the kitchen today. I had bought some ground beef this weekend and I went on line to find some recipes to play with.

I ended up making up one of my own:

"Beef for Enchiladas"
Brown ground beef
Mix in a can of Campbell's Pepper Jack Cheese Soup
Mix in what is left of an opened thing of cream cheese...which would go bad if no one used it. I tend to forget about cream cheese, hiding there in the back of the cheese drawer...

So...this will go into the freezer for use another day in enchiladas. I could make the whole enchilada casserole ahead of time...but I'm working with what I have on hand today, and I don't have tortillas. And just having the ground beef part of it done is half the battle, isn't it?

And a second recipe:

Sloppy Joe Casserole

Brown ground beef with some onion flakes, or real onions (I don't have any on hand.) Mix in a little brown sugar, ketchup, bbq sauce and mustard. I'm not measuring anything. I think this will be a good way to use up some opened bottles of BBQ sauce.

I'll freeze this and later on, I'll mix it with macs or put biscuits on top of it, or something. We'll see. My husband doesn't like sloppy joes because they are...can you guess?...'sloppy.' But something you eat with a knife and fork should be fine.

For the record, we're having macaroni and cheese for dinner. Homemade mac & cheese...and the secret ingredient is a bit of Jarlsberg cheese mixed into the cheddar. Mmmmmmmmm....

Venting a bit today

Those annoying solicitious phone calls are bad enough, but when they come to your door...

Twice this summer, we got finagled into buying magazines for some organization or another. They all start the same way, "I'm just meeting people in the neighborhood to collect points." Yeah, right. By now, though, I can spot anyone with an i.d. tag a mile away. (BTW, I really did get the magazines. I probably overpaid for them big time. But how do you say 'no' after a kid talks to you for twenty minutes?)

So today, these two kids ring my bell. I see the i.d. card. UH-OH. I just came right out and said, 'are you selling magazines?' (Because the next line was going to be, I don't need any more.)

No, he was 'collecting points for a trip abroad.'

Oh, my gosh, get a new line, okay? I can't even afford to take my family out to dinner, and I'm supposed to support some kid who wants to go abroad as part of some organization I have never heard of? And how do points pay for a trip? There's money involved here, somewhere.

BUT...there are other, better ways to get it than begging from strangers! (And it really is begging, isn't it?)

Have a car wash!
Do a bake sale!
Sponsor a crafts fair!
Heck...back in high school, we had something called "Donkey Basketball" that was a great fundraiser!

Hey, sell magazines...but be honest and up front about it!

I said. "NO." I said, "I'm sorry, I can't help you." And I walked away. I was not rude, but I was assertive. I can be the most generous person you've ever met, but dang, I want to really, really know where my money is going. I don't have the time to sit and really look at the card they hand you. For all I know, it says something like: "This is a con, but most people don't read the fine print." Okay, it probably doesn't say that. But then again, who knows?

I'll stick to charities I know and trust, thank you very much.

And for the record...I don't think young people should be going door-to-door in this day and age. Except on Halloween, and only in groups or with a parent!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday sewing stuff

Today I pinned, but did not yet cut out, a tunic top and a jacket for myself. The tunic is in a lavender floral print and the jacket is in burgundy gabardine. I had used my mannequin to alter the patterns to fit me. What I did not do with the jacket, yet, is alter the facings. I have to make the front jacket darts, first...because in the original pattern, the facing has no darts. So now I have to figure out how to change it.

I think I'm going to stick to less structured garments in the future. Maybe that's why I like sewing for kids so much...fewer darts, LOL!

I also cut out the front and back of a knit top for myself. I altered a pattern with a scoop neckline to make a sweetheart neckline. The fabric I had on hand must be something I bought for a short-sleeved top, because, alas, there isn't enough for long sleeves. But...I'm going to look for a lacy knit fabric and make an overlay for the bodice and lacy sleeves.

I almost bought lacy knit fabric from a company on line. The price was quite reasonable, until I got to the shipping. Someone please tell me, why do they base shipping charges on price and not on weight? I didn't order the fabric after all, because the shipping was almost as much as the fabric itself! I'll wait and check out Joanne's next time my husband and I drive to the South Shore. (It's an hour trip from here, and I despise driving. So I only go when he does--we hit Joanne's, have dinner at a chicken place or IHOP, and then go on to Big Lots.)

Anyone start decorating for Halloween yet? I put out my Halloween kitty cats, so far. Looking at this photo, I just realized the plush kitty in the middle is blocking the view of the metal kitty behind him.
Holiday decorating frugalness: five of these cats were cheaply bought at garage sales!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sew Crafty Friday: Lunch tote

Melody the cat checks out a pattern I made by tracing around one of those 3-part lunch plates.

My daughter likes to take her lunch to work whenever possible. I joke that sometimes I feel I pack lunch more for her now, at her age of 22, than I did when she was little. It's a good way to use up leftovers!
I've been wanting to make a nicer way for her to take lunch than putting everything in a plastic grocery bag. A regularly shaped, rectangular, lunch sack wouldn't work because some days she uses one of those covered plastic plates with 3 sections.

So I traced the plate for the bottom of the bag, adding an extra inch all around--a half inch for seam allowance and a half inch for ease.

Then I measured the circumference and cut a rectangle that long, by about 10 inches high. I made a tube out of this piece, which I then sewed to the base.

I made two pieces like for the lining. I sewed them together. After turning them right side out, I topstitched along the edge, leaving a small opening. I stitched another line parallel to the first, about a half inch away--again, leaving an opening. I threaded a ribbon through the channel to make a draw string bag.

Here is the finished product:

Okay, now hop on over to "Waiting for Him" (see my links list) for more "Sew Crafty Friday" fun!