Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
1. Start with two coordinating fat quarters. Actually, for this I used 2 'quarter flats' from Joann's. They measure 18x22 inches.
2. Cut the pieces in half so you have 2 9x22 inch pieces of each. (I just clip at the 9 inch mark and tear--fabric always tears along the straight grain.)
3. Using one 9x22 inch piece as a pattern, cut a piece of something that will give the tote bag 'body.' I used some leftover quilt batting. It isn't thick, just a little heavier than felt.
12. From the remaining fabric, cut 2 strips 2 1/2 inches by 22 inches. Cut a piece of batting the same size.
13. You can baste the batting to the wrong side of one strip. But this time around, I just layered the two fabrics right sides together and put the batting underneath them. I stitched all 3 together with a half-inch seam, leaving one end open for turning. (Actually, I would have been better off basting the batting to the lining...it was a pain trying to get them to turn 'together.')
16. Center the ends of the straps over the side seams and pin. Stitch in place with a strong seam. I used a saddle stitch and made a 'square'.
My husband is a safety consultant engineer for a major corporate insurance company. That means he goes to job sites and makes sure the 'insured' is doing all they can to keep their workers safe. His recommendations can either make or break a risk's policy. He knows all about stuff like OSHA. He often works at home on a computer, but his job also takes him to many different places and types of businesses.
Mike, my husband, keeps our yard trim and beautiful. He does most of the really heavy duty housework. He makes a mean pasta sauce.
He looks better at 53 than most guys do at 33. He works out or runs 6/7 days a week. He can bench press nearly 400 pounds.
I'm the animal lover, but he's the one who buys peanuts for the squirrels!
My son is a computer programmer for an educational software company. He's absolutely brilliant. He's the first one to help when help is needed. He's like me...not particularly sociable, but very friendly in the right situation. He's like my dad was...sharp witted, impatient with dumb people, but generous.
Michael is amazing with little kids. They bring out a side of him rarely seen...patience and silly humor. I sure hope he marries and has some of his own someday! (He's only going on 25. I'm in no rush.)
My fil was a good man, a decent guy with a kind sense of humor, very dedicated to his wife and kids. He worked as a construction worker until his retirement, then was involved in everything you could think of. It was a great loss when he died of a heart attack a few years ago.
I already posted about my brother Michael, who died back in 1971. He served in Vietnam. When I was in Ohio, I went over some pictures of him. He was a real cutie with a headful of curly hair. Now I know where my son Nicky gets his curls, LOL!
So that's my letter of the day!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I haven't done a "Works for Me Wednesday" in a while. It just fell into place with the next letters of the alphabet: K & L.
K is for Kitchen: I love my kitchen. It is the heart of the home, IMHO. We don't eat in there... it isn't big enough. But if food is love, then a lot of my love for my family happens there. I love to cook. I don't have a fancy 'working kitchen' with a 12-burner stove, and I don't have an island and I don't have much counter space. I have enough.
I have 4 kids and a husband who were nice enough to take down the ugly wallpaper and paint the place a pretty shade of green. I have a husband who was willing to shell out to replace the hideous Brady Bunch orange counters for clean white ones. And to shell out for a decent floor!
One thing that 'works for me' in there is to keep heavy, but much-used, appliances out on the counter. I used to have to call one of my family members to lug out my Kitchenaid mixer whenever I wanted to use it--which was often. I got smart and traded it out for my much-lighter bread maker. Now the Kitchenaid sits on the counter all the time, on a pretty, vintage, crocheted red-and-white doily. The doily makes it easy to slide the big thing back and forth as I need it. There's another tip: put your heavy countertop toys on a piece of felt, a towel, or a doily to make sliding around easier!
L is for Laundry. I have divided mine up into 2 categories each day. My washer can't really take much more than that...well, the drywell it drains into can't, I mean. The washer is practically new and great. And two loads leaves room for the kids to take care of their own washes. Example: on Mondays, I do lingerie and socks. Tuesdays are for tops and ironing (if I remember to take them right out of the dryer, LOL!) Wednesday is bottoms. Weekends are catchup washes. I will never, ever catch up to all of it, though. But at least we all generally have something clean to wear each day, LOL!
I'm off to work in 10 minutes. Too late to do my morning load of laundry...but I actually did get my kitchen cleaned up!
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I have been a writer and a cashier in my life. Not to mention a few babysitting jobs. I did well as a writer for years, the market changed, I've got writer's block and that's that...for a while. I hope to get back in the groove someday.
You couldn't give me enough money to ever be a cashier again. Most people were pretty nice, but there was the occasional j*ck*a*s who thought it was okay to treat you like dirt.
In the interim, life threw the curveball of a bad back at me. I can't stand or sit for any great length of time. So forget standing at a register, anyway. I am in a bad way financially (which is why I started doing my best to be frugal a few years ago--and the financial situation truly is improving), and I needed to get a job. But what could I do? I couldn't work long hours or do anyting stressful.
Then along came my daughter's friend, who was leaving the job at Dr. A's. I had my doubts, but I decided to take a chance. My first night, there were fifteen patients (in 3 hours!) and I was totally lost. My daughter's friend stopped by and lent me a hand. Sweet kid, huh?
Okay, within 2 days I had the routine down. Now I've been there a year and a half. I only work 3 hours a day and a few days each week. So even if I'm tired, it's such a short time I don't mind. I file, answer the phone, clean and generally help where I can. It is just me and Dr. A. She says thank you every day when I leave. I am thankful for an easy job, a nice boss, and money to take home each week!
Oh...and the perk of free medical advice and stuff like free Claritin!
Monday, August 27, 2007
My husband is pure Italian. So my kids are half that and half mutt like me. It was interesting to meet and marry someone of a single ethnic background, where traditions are purely Italian.
Now my daughter is dating a really nice guy of Puerto-Rican/El Salvadoran descent. So if they ever marry and have kids, my grandchildren will be of Italian, German, Irish, French, Puerto Rican and El Salvadorian descent, LOL!
And on top of all this, I work for an Indian boss. So I'm learning some of their culture and have sampled some of their food. I tell you, I thought Italian weddings were something else. I haven't been to an Indian wedding, but I've seen pictures. So colorful! And the groom rides in on either a white horse...or an elephant! Geesh!
Happy Monday, whatever your ancestry!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Still, I'm happy to be home. In my own territory. Following my own routine and using my own bathroom. I don't care how comfortable a place is, you are always happier in your own bathroom.
This morning, I put the kitchen back in order. The kids were great about keeping it clean, but I'm really fussy about where things belong and had to redo some out of place items.
My plan for today is to record my coupons and get them into the binder, check out the sales circulars for the groceries and drug stores this week (and coordinate with coupons) and to make up my week's menu. I already took out some taco meat from the freezer and some trimmed chicken to use this week. Don't know what I'll do with the chicken yet, but I'm just going for easy tacos tomorrow night. I'll be back to work for the first time in over a week.
I might hit CVS today. We'll see. I'm hoping the summer stuff has gone down lower than 50%. I already used my $20 ECBs from the Kraft deal a few weeks back--it paid for some things we took on the trip, including a Rachel Ray Everyday Magazine! Now I have to see what new ECBs I can get!
Hope everyone has a great Sunday!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
My maternal grandfather died when I was a baby. He was apparently a really nice man. My mother's mother passed away about 10 years ago. She was almost 97. My father's parents have been gone for many years. It's dad's mother who had all the lace I brought home. (I am home, btw--12 hours in the car and 625 miles later.) I have great memories of their house. It is an old Federal building that had two extensions put on it. There was this big, twisting staircase to the upstairs. There was a massive country kitchen, and behind it some kind of storage area with a staircase that was full of mysteries. Grandpa always had a bowl of candy out--back in the day when candy was a huge treat. And he never said, 'no you can't have that.'
I'm glad I have some great memories of my grandparents. I'm glad my kids will have some, too. Grandparents are so very important to kids, aren't they?
Friday, August 24, 2007
After lunch at Der Dutchmann, we went to this Amish place that sells bulk spices, candy and cheese really cheap. There is a little room in the back. It used to sell fabric. Now it sells a few sewing notions, but numerous vintage things, too. I found the cutest little child's tea set in blue and white for $4 and a pretty crystal creamer for a quarter. The prices were so amazing! Everything seems so much cheaper out of New York.
I think the best part of this visit, other than seeing my mother and my aunt Mary, was going through some old lace my mother had in a cabinet downstairs. It was from when my paternal grandmother was alive. I remember she had this cool sewing room, just off the living room, with French doors. My grandmother died before I was married, so it has to be at least 30 years ago. She was in her 90s and hadn't done any sewing in many years. So the lace and doilies I'm bringing home with me are at least 40 years old. Who knew there was such a treasure in my mother's house!
I also got to pick out any and all fabric I wanted from my mother's stash. I found some really cute stuff. Mom says, 'take whatever you want. I'm trying to get rid of it.' She will be 85 in January. I'm thinking she's going to live to be 100, at least. I hope so!
I also hope that my two sisters, my brother and I can all gather whatever of the grandchildren are available and meet next summer to celebrate my mother's 85th year. It has been a long time since we've been together. It's hard to be so far apart...we're in New York, Ohio, Michigan and Georgia!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
My husband does all the driving. It's a company car and I couldn't drive it if I wanted to...which I don't. We left New York at 4 a.m. Needless to say, he conked out early for bed last night. It's been years since we did this. I can't believe I used to do it with four kids, at least one in a car seat.
I have only one "E" word today. Eggs. My mother makes the best deviled eggs in creation. It's one of those recipes she just throws together...nothing is written down. Aren't all great family recipes like that? I can never duplicate them. Her secret ingredient, of all things, is a pinch of sugar!
Okay, here's my frugal part of this post. I bought one of those Entertainment books of coupons for the Columbus, Ohio area. Because it is last year's book, and expires November 1st of this year, it was really, really, really cheap. But there are coupons for one place we are going this week (Der Dutchmann, a family-style restaurant), so even if my mother uses only that, it more than pays for the book. My mother can peruse it and find any coupons she can use, then pass it on to one of my cousins.
My mother has dial-up (yuck) so it is about 25 times slower than my computer at home. But I will try to blog while I'm here. I don't know what we're doing today. It's pouring rain. I'd like to hit a cool used book store nearby.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Crochet...one of my hobbies. I have made afghans, but lately I pretty much stick with things that go together quickly, like dish rags. You can never have enough dish rags, LOL! So much nicer than sponges!
Coupons...I'm an avid couponer. One of my friends called me a "Coupon Monster," once, LOL! I play "The Grocery Game." Check the site out, it's worth it! www.grocerygame.com
I consider couponing not only part of keeping my spending down, but also another hobby. I probably spend an hour or two a week on it. After doing this for about two years, I found a system that works best for me. I keep each circular in it's own plastic 'page protector' in my 3-ring household binder. (Binder! Now there's another word I could have used for B!) I write the date on it and what the source is--Valassis, Smartsource and Proctor & Gamble are the 3 biggies.
My husband gave me a leather-bound folder with a pad in it. In here, I write down the coupons that interest me, by date, and indicate when they expire. I highlight household items with one color highlighter and health and beauty with another. Anything not highlighted is food. As I use the coupons, I cross them off the list.
Yeah, seems like a lot of work. But I love doing it and like I said, it's a hobby, too. Besides, even if I spent 3 hours a week on it, I generally save $40-$50 at the grocery. How many hobbies work out to pay you that much per hour?
I use Grocery Game for my two supermarkets, but my own system of filing my coupons works for CVS and other small stores. Oh! I don't clip the coupons until I actually use them. I find this saves me a lot of time. When I go through and record each week's coupons, I also throw away any pages I don't need...like the ones where you can send away for checks or some cute figurine.
Cooking...my absolute passion. I love, love, love to cook. I am what is known as a 'hobby cook.' So many recipes, so little time! And I'm not talking about anything fancy-shmancy, either. I cook food that 'real' people will eat. So you won't be seeing any sauteed duck tongues with sorrel foam coming from my kitchen! (Anyone who watches Top Chef gets the foam reference...although I liked Marcel!)
Like I said, I'm off to Ohio on Monday. So, no menu plan for the week. I almost feel as if something is missing by not doing one, LOL! Still, I'm thinking of bringing some cilantro to my mom's house and buying the other ingredients for guacamole to make some for us. Can you believe, my mother is 84 and never tasted guacamole before last year?
Enough C's! This is waaaay too long...and not a picture in sight to break up the monotony. Please scroll down to my "B" post for the link to the lovely blogger who started all this ABC fun!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Buttons. I need to think about what kind of buttons to put on the little vintage dress. I want something flat, but not plain. Maybe something in white with a flower shape carved into it? The dress is more peachy than pink. I'll have to see what I can find. Speaking of find...my buttonhole attachment was lost, but I found it the other day. Now I can actually finish some things!
I tried to spread the dress out so you can see what a full skirt it has. Don't know if I already posted this...but it's a princess line. Now I'm thinking I need to find a crinoline pattern so the dress poofs out like it should.
For more Sew Crafty Friday fun, click on "Waiting for Him" over there in my links list.
And I have the link to the cool blogger who started all this ABC fun! Here ya go...
More Bs from me...
Brothers. My oldest brother, who will be 61 in December, lives in Michigan. I had two other brothers, also older than me. Unfortunately, they have both passed away. I really miss them, although I hardly remember the brother I lost 35 years ago. I just know he had a great sense of humor. My middle brother lived in New Mexico. He was the coolest guy--not a mean bone in his body. One of the best trips I ever took in my life, was a trip around New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona in his old VW. I've never seen anything like the Southwest, and I sure with my brother was around to show it off to my kids.
Books. I love books. But I don't hang on to most of them. Books are living things...they shouldn't be left to collect dust on a shelf. I admit to being a big Stephen King fan, and am currently reading "The Shining" for maybe the 100th time. It still scares me, LOL!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Austin is about 5 years old. He was a Mother's Day gift. He is the sweetest thing on earth.
A is for Author...what I have been in my life. My most recently published works are 3 books for middle-grade readers about immigrant children. If you want to find out more, one of the books is called: "Fiona McGilray's Story: A Voyage from Ireland in 1849." I have not felt much like writing these past few years, but I'm thinking about investing in a cheap laptop and getting back into it. We'll see.
That's all the A's I can think of, LOL!
Friday, August 10, 2007
PS--there is a dark spot on the dress in the photo, but it's not there in real life. Strange trick of the flash, I suppose. The dress is attached to my mannequin, sans sleeves. The sides are not yet sewn, so it's not quite as wide as it looks.
Please visit Sher over at "Waiting for Him" for more crafty friday goodies!
Monday, August 06, 2007
You have to sign up to get the ECBs, but it's free (of course) and easy. And the best ECBs are the ones you can spend on anything. I have another $5 one, so now I have $25 to spend. I'm waiting for the summer stuff to go cheaper (sorry, but 25% isn't 'clearance' to me, LOL!) so I'll get a few things for next year. I don't know what else I'll get, though.
(One thing you should know, if you've never done this...ECBs, which stands for Extra Care Bucks,do have expiration dates!)
I hope everyone who reads my blog--all eleven of you, LOL--gets a great deal this week, at CVS or elsewhere!
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Four Jobs I've Done In My Life:1. Magazine editor (trade magazines. Loved the children's wear one...hated the plastics industry one).
2. Park counselor--loved it
4. Receptionist--my current job. I'm very, very happy there!
Four Countries I've Been To:1. England
Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now: 1.The fabric store with unlimited cash
2. An ice cream parlor eating a butterscotch sundae
3. A Chinese restaurant
4. Catfish Annie's, my favorite seafood restaurant
:)Four Foods I Like to Eat: 1. Lobster, if only I could afford it; 2.ice cream of almost any kind. 3. really good chocolate and 4.really good steak.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Betty over at "She's Sew Pretty" told me about the swap her daughter, who is not named Martha but runs a blog called "My Best Friend Calls Me Martha", is having. (I think that might have been a run-on sentence, LOL!) http://mybestfriendcallsmemartha.blogspot.com/2007/07/pay-it-forward.html
You can use the link above or the link over there to the right that says "She's Sew Pretty's Daughter." The pay-it-forward swap idea is simple. The first three people to respond here will get a homemade item from me sometime in the next year. I crochet, I sew and I scrapbook...so who knows what you will receive?
All you have to do is promise to 'Pay It Forward' to three more people who respond to your own blog?
Get it? Easy-Peasy! Good luck!