Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Giveaway!

EDITED TO ADD: This Contest is closed now. I'll be drawing a name this afternoon. Well, I'm going to have the little 8-year-old girl I babysit draw a name! I'll contact the winner ASAP!
Good luck to all!

Here's another prize for you--or rather, for the lucky child to whom you'll give this! It is a little metal bucket with a picture of Peter Rabbit on it, and a cute, plush ducky purse. Ducky is about 7 inches tall. She has a zipper down her back.

To enter, just leave a comment here. USA residents only--sorry about that. I'll take names until midnight of January 31st, and will draw some time over the weekend. Good luck--and be sure to scroll down for more giveaway info and a link to the "Bloggy Giveaway" being sponsored over at Rocks in My Dryer! (BTW, the link to RIMD is to the right of this, towards the bottom. Or you can find the link to all the giveaways--and there are HUNDREDS of them--two posts or so below this one.)
Good luck!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Speaking of giveaways...

...check out the adorable apron being offered at this site: http://www.homesteadblogger.com/mamato6/85230/

I'm signing up for it, myself. Can't have enough aprons, LOL!



Scroll down and read my previous post about Shannon's Bloggy Giveaway Carnival at Rocks in My Dryer!

You want to visit Rocks in My Dryer!!!!

EDITED TO ADD: This contest is closed now! I'll be drawing a name this afternoon. Good luck to all!

Trust me...you want to hit this link: http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/reviews/2008/01/bloggy-giveaw-1.html

Shannon's doing a Bloggy Giveaway again!!! Gazillions of prizes for you to win! And here is my own donation:

It is a pretty sachet, perfect for Valentine's Day! I guess it's about 5 inches or so across at its widest.

Sorry, but I can only ship in the United States.

How to enter? Well, just leave a comment! I will print out the comments and draw for a name the weekend of February 1st. EDITED TO ADD: I'll take names until January 31st--or the 30th. Let me think...thirty days hath November...yep, the 31st will be the last day.

Good luck!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Many Thanks!

Thanks so much for all the nice birthday greetings! It sure makes it easier to suddenly realize I can't deny being middle-aged. I'm 52--so unless I live to be 105, I am at least in the middle, if not beyond the middle.

Notice I am not mentioning a certain hill.

Thanks also for the comments on the dress. You should all know that while the skirt is 100% hand-drafted, the top is an adaptation of a bodice from another dress--actually, I think it's the one I made at Christmas. It is meant to be done in woven, but I'm doing knit. I'm all about comfort here, LOL!

This morning I received cards, gift cards, candy, lottery tickets and pink tulips! Pink tulips in January--how about that? I won $8 on the tickets. I have already ordered a red Kitchenaid hand mixer from Macy's with one gift card. I've needed a new hand mixer for a long time, and now I'll have one. The other card (that was from my kids, the first from my husband) will be used at Joanne Fabrics, Michael's and various other places.

We're going out as a family to a Chinese buffet tonight. It is my request, as I love Chinese food and a buffet sounds like a lot of fun.

Once again, thanks!

Sew Crafty Friday: Dress Design, continued

No, that isn't what the lower half of my dress is going to look like, LOL! It is simply a muslin prototype. In fact, if you look closely, you'll see I sewed the skirt wrong sides together on the sides...by accident. But this is only a trial to see how this will fit. (And it does fit...yay!)
Here is the link to a previous post about the top part:
The top is knit, like a t-shirt fabric. The bottom will be cotton woven, probably in a print.
The middle is going to be shirred with vertically sewn embroidery. I might even add some beading to it, we'll see!
Still not sure about the sleeves. I want to be able to wear this to work, so it will have them--unless I plan to wear a jacket or sweater over it.
I will post at a later date about how I did the skirt--it was really easy!
Please visit "Waiting for Him," and maybe even offer some crafty goodies of your own. Come on, folks, I know you are creative! Show off a little, and link over at Shereen's blog! I want to be inspired!
And I get what I want today 'cause...it's my birthday!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Thanks...and girl games

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post about the strange experience I had. I guess the world isn't what it was when I was a kid.

Then again, maybe it never was what it was, LOL!

Still, there are some nice things that are still around. Remember the game "Cat's Cradle"? Did you play it as a little girl? I know I did! And I was very pleased and surprised to see two young girls, of about 8 and 10, playing it while waiting to see the doctor last night. Even better, I was happy with myself because I remembered how to do it, too! I'm sure it's been 40 years since I played--and I still remember the pinky-crossing step, LOL! I guess it's like riding a bike--you never really forget.

Did you play Chinese checkers? Jacks? How about "Miss Mary Mack?" In this day of video games, it was nice to see something so non-tech as that loop of string around little fingers. I think it's a shame that such things are becoming a lost art. If you have daughters...heck, if you have sons...teach them what you remember from your own childhood.

I have a Jacob's Ladder I brought to work (yes, the almost-52-year-old loves toys) and one of the sisters just couldn't get enough of it. Simple pleasures!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Scary Experience!

One of the unfortunate trade-offs of living in our modern times is how easily someone can get your information.

A short while ago, I got a call from a woman at Expedia.com--one of those sites where you buy airline tickets. She wanted to know if I had authorized an airplane ticket costing over $300--to Egypt, of all places. She gave me a name, something like Moheed Sair, but very 'Middle-Eastern'-sounding. Of course, I told her I did not authorize this. She gave me all the information she could--except the odd thing was that she couldn't repeat the name. I suppose she wasn't supposed to say it in the first place. But if someone is committing a crime, why should they be protected?

Well, I called the card and spoke to another woman in the fraud department. Yes, there was such a charge pending. Plus two smaller charges of about $30 each. I think those might have been 'trial' charges to see if a red flag would go up.

My card has now been 'stopped.' I'm waiting on a new card. The funny (as in weird, not ha-ha) thing is that I haven't used this card in ages, since it is one I'm paying off!

I want to say I'm very impressed with how alert Expedia.com was--this charge was made barely an hour ago, and they 'caught' it right away. I for the life of me don't know how this happened...I haven't carried this card in a long time, and I certainly didn't 'lose' it anyplace.

But I would send a caveat out to everyone: if you see small charges on your account, be suspicious. I haven't seen any yet, but I bet the little ones would show up on my next statement. If I see anything like that at all, I'm having my card cancelled and the number changed!

Like any of us need this aggravation!

Frugal Pattern Printing

There is a site called Printsew.com that lets you do just that...print out patterns. It saves you shipping charges, as well as the cost of driving to the store for a pattern. But it does mean printing out pages and pages...and pages. Since the patterns are given on 8.5 x 11 sheets, even a simple pattern can easily run over 50 pages.

I've been sorting out and throwing away old papers. I was just about to toss about 100 sheets of a printout from our insurance company...until I had an 'ah-ha!' moment. Why not use the papers for my patterns? Yes, they are printed on both sides. But there isn't a lot of writing on pattern pieces (and I never read that writing, anyway), and anyway, it's free.

So I would suggest looking over any 'old' papers you don't want, ones that are in good condition (in other words, they won't jam up your computer.) Use these for printing out simple things such as patterns for appliques, and save the blank paper for 'good' use.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday

Here is my 'donation' to Shereen's "Sew Crafty Friday. " (See my sidebar for the link--Waiting for Him.)
This is a top I made for the 8-year-old girl I babysit. It is the softest knit fabric. It has bell sleeves and a v-neck. I was a little worried about the neck, but it sits on her just right and looks really cute. All I have to do now is the hems, and it's done. I promised Angelina it will be ready when she comes here next Tuesday.
This is Simplicity Pattern 4163. The sleeves are actually meant to be split up the sides, and tied together at intervals. But I did not think that was appropriate for a little girl to be wearing to school. So I attached the two halves together. There are also short-sleeved and sleeveless version, which are cute, and a halter that looks more like something a 17-year-old would wear. I had this same trouble with clothes as my daughter was growing up--the things that fit her were not appropriate age-wise!
BTW, I made this in a light weight knit, but you can use wovens, too.
Please visit "Waiting for Him" today, and maybe even show off some of your own creativity!

Oh! And scroll down to see my contribution to "Frugal Fridays" over at Biblical Womanhood!

Frugal Friday: Vegetables for One


Biblical Womanhood hosts a wonderful carnival on fridays that is all about frugality. I enjoy reading the many tips offered by fellow bloggers. High time I offered one of my own!

I love those little individual servings of frozen vegetables. What I don't love is how expensive they are. They rarely go on sale, and I rarely find coupons.

So one day, I took a look at the little container of corn I had and realized it was just...a little container of corn. Nothing fancy! So I've been experimenting. I bought some 1/2-cup size plastic containers. I filled them with different vegetables I like. For example, I have a bag of store-brand cauliflower. I picked out some of the smaller pieces (so they fit, LOL!) and filled the container. Then I added just a drop or so of water. You might not even need to do that, since vegetables naturally have their own water. I put the container in the microwave and sat the lid on top--don't screw it down, obviously, you want to vent for the steam.

For my little microwave, it takes 2 minutes to cook cauliflower. You could even add a dollop of butter to the top for the last 30 seconds.

The result is steamed vegetables for one that cost a lot less than the already packaged kind!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Found Money Shopping

Yesterday I decided to cash in some 'found money' for my grocery shopping. So I brought some coins ($45 worth!), some lottery tickets ($11) and some bottles and cans (for which I got a whopping $1.95). Of course, I was armed with a few coupons and a list of what was on sale, too!

All this 'found money' meant I was able to pay cash for my groceries yesterday. I got *$105.54 worth of groceries for...drumroll, please...$51.67!!!!

That's a savings of better than 50%.

So, start thinking about cashing in those bottles and cans, dumping out those coin jars and redeeming lottery tickets. You might just end up with 'found money savings' like I did!

*for the record, that includes two double-packs of Top Round London Broil on sale for $1.69/lb.--cheapest I've seen it in ages. I cut up some today and browned it to freeze for stew. Tomorrow, I'll decide what to do with the rest of it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

There's a really great collection of tips to make life easier in the kitchen over at http://www.tammysrecipes.com/. I actually have something to offer this week! I've posted about http://www.tadalist.com/ before, but it's worth repeating.
"My Ta-Da Lists" is a totally free site where you make up your own lists for anything you want. I have lists for almost all the rooms in my house. I say 'almost' because, as most of you know, 3 of my kids are adults. I have nothing to do with their rooms, except maybe to do laundry if they bring their stuff down to the laundry room. Okay, back to the kitchen...

I have 32 separate items on my Kitchen 'Ta-Da' list! (Yeah, that's Ta-Da, as what you say when you finish something!) Don't let that scare you! I broke my list of chores down to the smallest job for each room. For instance, I have something that says, 'clean and put away meat thermometer.' There's another one that says, 'put away plastic grocery bags.' As you can figure, if I don't have meat or didn't go to the grocery, I don't have to do those jobs. I have 'wash a pot' 3 times, although sometimes I have more pots and sometimes less. (Yes, the kids and my husband all wash dishes. My husband will do it without asking...except he grumbles.)
I have important things I can't forget, like "Feed the Ferrets" and "Cat food and water." After reading my bill-paying post, you'd think I was Miss Organized. But honestly, there are days I would forget to do anything if I didn't have a list.

Breaking a room's chores down to small jobs doesn't mean doing 32 jobs in a room every day. It means that, if you want to do a really, really good cleaning...you don't miss anything!

Oh, and not only does my husband do dishes, he's the one who mops the floor. I just can't get it as clean as he does, LOL!

So, visit Tammy's Recipes! It's a lot of fun reading other people's ideas!

The Way I Do Bills: 2008

Every year I get smarter about keeping up with my bills. I don't get richer, I get smarter. As in, avoiding late fees by paying on time!
A few years back, I decided to start recording my payments in a black-and-white notebook. It is so much nicer than a small check registry, and a lot harder to lose. At the beginning of the year, I use a two-page spread and make 13 columns across--one for the name of the bill, and 12 for the months. This is nothing but a place to check off that I have paid something. A check next to Allstate under January means I paid the January Allstate bill. (I have to do stuff like this...I tend to be very forgetful.)

There is no other information here. But I added one extra feature this year: In the first column, I put the date of the month each bill is due! For instance, I know that Discover is always due on the 25th, so I wrote Disc. 25 in column one. Cable 15 means Cablevision is due on the 15th. This way, I can see at a glance what bills are due. I'm paying mostly by phone or internet, so I don't have to give myself a week for things to arrive in the mail.

As far as info, each time I pay bills I record them on a page, with the date at the top. (There can be more than one date on a page, of course.) I'll record the check number, or if the payment was made via phone or computer. I'm going to try to switch to computer as much as possible this year, since I think they don't charge for that. It can run you up to $15 to pay by phone...but that's a lot better than a $35 late fee! (And...eek!...a hike in your rates!) So far, Discover is the only CC that doesn't charge.

So that is the newest thing I'm doing to try to be frugal this year, simply writing down the date something is due. I'll always know that I have to pay my electricity bill on the 18th!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

How many of these have you done?

I found this over at Heather's blog. It's a lot of fun. The highlighted ones are the ones to which I can answer 'yep, I did that!'

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula (and I'm arachnophobic--but they are so big they aren't creepy to me.)
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you’ and meant it
09. Hugged a tree
10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. . Seen the Northern Lights
14.Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
15. Gone to a huge sports game (and survived the crush afterwards)
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb (but I did hold a baby liger once!)
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Posed nude in front of strangers
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Had a one-night stand
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Petted a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone (just a toe, so that doesn't really count, does it?)
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi (ugh)
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Petted a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Feeling somewhat better

I took the doctor's advice and stuck to plain food yesterday. This morning I had some oatmeal with a little non-dairy creamer in it. I'm going to be careful again today, since I'm determined to get to work tonight. I can always leave early like I did other days this week. I just hate missing work. I need the money.
Judy, I didn't know heart disease was the number one killer, but I knew it was much, much worse than anyone realizes.
Yesterday was a nice, relaxing day. I watched part of "Jane Eyre," the one with William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsborough. It always chokes me up. I did some crochet work. The little girl I watch came over and we made pigs in blankets together. Of course, I didn't eat any of them, but the kids enjoyed them. And speaking of pigs, I made one of myself in the blogging world. There are so many wonderful 'carnivals' on fridays. There's Shereen's "Sew Crafty Friday" at Waiting for him. And a great "Frugal Friday" at Biblical Womanhood. I missed checking out "Works for Me Wednesday" at Rocks in my Dryer, so I went there, too.
Today, I plan to pin a top pattern for the little girl who made the pigs in blankets. (Her name is Angelina.) It is a knit top. I'm making it in a white fabric with blue kitty cats. I don't know if I'll cut it out, but getting it pinned is half the battle.
I appreciate all the good thoughts out there. I hope that, if I am careful, I'll be back to my normal self very soon.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Being sick s*c*s

Am I allowed to put that in a title--even with the asterisks?

Thanks for all the input on airborne. I might just give it a shot if I can find it on sale someplace. I think I might even have a coupon. You're probably right that it's a supervitamin, but these days I can use all the vitamins I can get.

I went to the doctor the other day and had some blood work done. Haven't heard back on that yet. I also had an EKG (she does them every time I go there, for some reason), which came up with "non-specific changes," since the last one. No big deal, but she did send me to the cardiologist. He said that these days they are just extra careful with women. For years, no one realized how much heart disease affects women. Unfortunately, a lot of women died because of that attitude. Thank goodness, medicine in general has changed. Did you know that woman often have atypical symptoms of heart disease, including stomach problems? The fact I have an ulcer might be why my doctor monitors my heart, too. I'm not really worried. Heart disease does not run in my family. My blood pressure and cholesterol are great. Still, just to be sure, I'm having an echo cardiogram next week and I'll be doing a stress test the week after that. (She tried to schedule me on January 25th. No thanks, I'm not doing a stress test on my birthday, LOL!)

Well, every time I think I'm better...I'm not. My stomach started hurting again, and yesterday I was having dizzy spells. I mean...I was just laying on the bed playing with the dog, and I turned a little and the room started to spin. I bet my electrolytes are wacked out. Okay, so anyway, I think I did make some mistakes this week. Mostly, when I thought I was better I started eating more. I was hungry enough for half a turkey sandwich the other night, and for English muffins and a few sips of coffee yesterday morning. Probably shouldn't have had the coffee. In fact, I probably shouldn't have eaten much of anything. But damn, everyone else was better after 2 or 3 days, and it had been 5 days yesterday.

Dr. A, whom I work for, says to stay away from all dairy and fruit. She recommends yogurt, rice (how can you eat rice with nothing on it?), broth and tea and crackers. I had my daughter buy me some ginger tea. I also bought myself some crackers and broth this morning. I just had to get out of the house, and the grocery is barely a mile away. Now I'm staying in and vegging out. Good excuse to play on the computer, LOL!

My advice for all my friends who gave me their advice...if, heaven forbid, you get this virus, DO NOT EAT too much even if you think you are better. Give yourself an extra day. Remember: ginger tea or ginger ale (tea is better, it really has ginger in it. Ginger naturally helps the stomach.), crackers, yogurt, broth and rice. (Hey, I could put rice in my broth!) And stay away from dairy and fruit.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A question

I'm sick with that damned stomach bug...since Saturday. Most people are getting over it in 2 days, but no such luck for me. I'm able to eat a little food at a time. Then I'm starving, and I want to eat...and I can only eat a bite or two. I'm totally wiped out.

My question: has anyone out there tried Airborne or any of the other immunity formulas I see on the market? What do you think? I'm going to the doctor today and I'm going to ask. I've just been sick too much this winter. I feel like I've missed work at least once or twice a week. It's like I have no resistance. My boss (who is a pediatrician, in case you forgot) is very worried about me. This is not right.

I'll try to check back soon, but in the meantime, I hope all my friends out there are staying healthy!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday

Shereen's back with the first Sew Craft Friday of the new year! Be sure to visit her at "Waiting for Him." (Check my blog list!)

I have two things to talk about today. Here, I'm making the pattern for a dress. This is some leftover knit I have, not the final fabric I'll use. The idea is a fitted bodice with a wide, ruched (sp?) waistband. The bottom will be a full skirt in a woven. I'm looking to make something very '50's-ish.' I'm not sure if it will work, but it will be fun doing it. I'm not sure what I'll do for sleeves. I might keep it sleeveless and wear a short jacket over it. We'll see. The first thing is to just get the pattern made. I borrowed the bodice from a pattern that fits me (my Christmas dress, as a matter of fact), but I took out the princess seam. I'll also borrow a skirt pattern for the bottom. I can mess with patterns, but I'm not so hot at drafting them from scratch.
Below is a child's top. It has a surplice neckline and ties on the sides. (The ties aren't there yet.) I'll bind it in pink. I just couldn't resist this fabric with the baby jungle animals on it! I'll also make pink pants to go with it, maybe in a pinwale corduroy.
Now, I think this is meant to be PJs. But what's up with stores that sell flannel that is not meant for children's sleepwear? Can you even buy that kind of flannel? To me, a burn is a burn. If your house is about to crash in flames, PJs aren't exactly going to help. On the other hand, in a small fire they could make all the difference. So I won't make PJs out of flannel. But it's such a shame, because there are so many cute fabrics. My question to anyone who reads this is...if you sew children's jammies, what kind of fabric do you use?