Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I got a box, woohoo!

I joined in this round of the Shoebox swap over at Carrie and Monica's blogs, and I'm glad I did! Look at all the sweet stuff I got from Lizzie, of Adustyframe.com.

The theme was "Bloom," and I have to say this is "abso-bloomin'-lutely" wonderful! I got:

The sweetest little carved wooden bird. She will now sit on my desk!

Pretty party napkins in a floral print.

Two bars of yummy smelling soap in beautiful pastel wrappers

A cute pen with a flower on top--LOL, I sent a similar one to Lizzie!

A packet of Cosmos flower seeds. Yay! I was looking for some seeds to plant to get flowers this summer!

Beautiful note cards with a quote from Isaiah (26:4)--"In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."

Flower stickers!

Beautiful fabric--both with tulips! One is lavendar, and one is yellow--and both are plenty big enough to have fun with! (I'm thinking a yellow pillow to brighten up my living room, and a lavendar apron--just 'cause you can never have enough aprons!)

The absolutely most GORGEOUS hand-knit washcloth. I thought it was crocheted until I opened it...wish I could knit like that!

Celestial Seasonings (my favorite!) Chai Tea...Chocolate Caramel Enchanment, which will go very nicely with the nice big bag of...

...Hershey Bliss Milk chocolates!

Everything was wrapped up in the prettiest ribbons.

Lizzie, thank you so much. I know you've had a lot to do lately, yet you took the time to put together an awesome box! If you do another swap, your next partner is getting a real prize!

Here is the link to Carrie's blog, where we are showing off our 'loot':


Or visit Monica's blog:


Thank you, Carrie and Monica, for doing these shoebox swaps! They are a lot of fun and just the 'perfect size.'

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

I missed it last week. I was going to blog one during the week but came down with a nice headache and stomach ache that lasted almost 2 days...plus all the other stuff we do in life...and I forgot. Senility creeps closer...

Today's tip isn't very profound, but I know it is one that I always have to keep in mind. If you are doing any type of start-and-stop sewing (like when I was putting the round pieces into the tubes for the bucket in the previous post) always, always, always make sure your needle is down into the fabric before you adjust it in any way. The needle will anchor the fabric and keep the stitching line on track. I keep forgetting to do this, and when I go to turn the fabric, of course I accidentally move it a little...and with stitching, even a little makes a difference.

So, yeah, anchor your fabric with your needle.

And I'm feeling somewhat generous (must be the Folger's with tiramisu flavored creamer), so here's another tip: always, always, always stay-stitch the curves in your knits. I just made a t-shirt (I got it free from Burdastyle.com--mentioned it a while back in my last Saturday sewing tip blog post) and just happily went on sewing it. It happens to be a particularly stretchy fabric. I didn't stay stitch. The back of the neck looks...weird. So now I have to turn it under and finoogle it to get it to look right.

Learn from my mistakes...anchor your fabric and staystitch.

See ya next time.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday: Bucket

Here is a little bucket that I made via a tutorial on a really cool blog called "Vintage Ric Rac."
The ones over there are much nicer, but this was fun to do and an easy way to use up fabric scraps. I've made several, including one I brought to work for a little trash receptacle. My boss hasn't used it yet. She says she wants to 'respect it' for a few days before she throws Bandaid wrappers into it, LOL. I told her she has to use it sometime.

That's the funny thing about people who don't sew...even the smallest project has them in awe.

Anyway, here's the link:
This is about 5 1/2 inches high. I am using one for my hair clips and such. It's nice to have a place where I can just toss them quickly.
Please also visit Shereen's Blog, "Waiting for Him" (see my sidebar) and join in Sew Crafty Friday today!

Monday, April 21, 2008

A CVS deal this week

At CVS, if you buy a Soft Soap Radiant Spa bath gel for 4.99, you get back 4.99 in ECBs. If you look through your coupons, you might have the $1.50 off any Soft Soap bath gel (I actually think it's called 'shower gel.') I already cut mine out and forgot to record where I got it from, but I think it was Smart Source, and some time in March. Anyway, use this coupon and you end up making $1.50 profit!

As for me...I have to check a different CVS. The one I went to yesterday (as much for this deal as anything else) didn't have any on the shelf. But I'm not discouraged. I would say there are at least 3 CVS stores within a mile or two of my house, LOL!

BTW, I didn't forget my Saturday Sewing Tip. I'm going to make it a weekly tip...whatever day i feel like doing it, LOL!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday

It's time for crafty deliciousness at Shereen's Blog! http://w8ng4him.blogspot.com/

Here's my humble donation. It's a very simple a-line dress for a toddler. The fabric is seersucker. I just love it for children's wear, as it seems to stay so nice and crisp. The neckline and sleeves have yellow bias binding around them sewn with a red decorative stitch. I sewed two buttons at each shoulder. The dress zips up the back.
I have to find the pattern I used for this. I think I picked it out precisely because it's simple design will make it easy to alter and design new jumpers. Besides, I'm not even sure what size I cut out, so I have to figure that, too, LOL!
I hope you visit Shereen's blog and join in Sew Crafty Friday today!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tag, I'm "It"!

I got tagged by "Mammarino" over at http://homeschoolcircus.blogspot.com/ Thanks! I love to be included in games.

What I was doing 10 years ago: Hmmm, 1998 is a blur. Come to think of it, last week is a blur.
In 1998, my kids were 15, 13, 11 and almost 8. So I guess what I was 'doing' was being busy as a mom. I think I might have had a part-time job at the local grocery store. I'm not sure what year I worked there.

Five things on my to do list for today: 1. Have lunch with my husband. We usually go on Fridays, but he has a meeting tomorrow. It's something we only started doing recently and I love it.
2. Go to the grocery to pick up a few things I need for dinner (barbecue meatballs and cornbread and salad).
3. General crafty stuff--sewing, crochet.
4. Look up and make some freeze-ahead recipes with ground beef I recently bought on sale.
5. Take a nap, out in the sun if it is warm enough. (I'm not very exciting.)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Make sure my mom, who is 85, and my aunt, who is 87, will never lack for the best of care as they get older. Buy the cottage of my dreams for Mike and me, and small starter homes for all my kids. Open up my own fabric store and pay someone else to manage it. (I just get to play with the fabric to my heart's content.)
Open up two sanctuaries: one for wildlife and one for abandoned animals. I would be 'responsible' with the cats and dogs...they would all be 'fixed.' And they would know only kindness and good care for the rest of their lives.

Three of my bad habits: 1. Biting my nails. I do try to use a clipper, really, I do! 2. Procrastinating when it comes to things that aren't fun, like paying bills. (Thank goodness for phone-in payments!) 3. Blog-hopping when I should be doing things that aren't fun.

Five places I have lived: 1. Floral Park, New York, 2. Greenlawn, New York 3. Huntington, New York--all on Long Island. I never lived anywhere else.

Five jobs I have had: 1. Editor for a trade magazine in the children's wear industry 2. Editor on a plastics industry magazine (ugh, what an awful place) 3. Author 4. Cashier (ugh again) and 5. Secretary/receptionist/whatever at a doctor's office--my current job.

Almost Amazing Mammarino, you were a mall Easter Bunny? Now, that IS amazing!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Salad Bar Tricks

Salad bars can be pricey. Did I say 'can be'? Our local store is 6.99 a pound. But the salad bar can still be your friend.

Say you are making a salad that requires red onions, and you generally don't use red onions. It wouldn't make sense for you to pay for a whole onion only to let 3/4 of it rot in your vegetable drawer. But a spoonful from the salad bar will be just what you need, and because it is so lightweight it should be very cheap. (Way less than a dollar.)

I looked at the fresh mozzarella and tomato salad on the antipasto bar. Then I realized I'd be paying $6.99 a pound for cherry tomatoes. So I just bought a small container of the littlest mozzarella balls and headed to the regular vegetable area. A pint of cherry tomatoes costs $2.50, and as my father used to say "a pint's a pound, the world around." Really, it almost is...I actually weighed one, LOL!

So I'm making a caprese salad to go with the pasta we're having for dinner. My son is coming over. We've established Monday as our tradition to eat together. So I always make something he really likes. Actually, Mike makes the sauce. I'm just making the salad, which, as you can figure, is a pretty special treat for the price. Still, it's a lot cheaper than if I had bought tomatoes from the salad bar!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

Today's tip isn't exactly a tip, but a great website. Did you know that Burda offers free patterns to download? Here is the link: http://www.burdastyle.com/patterns

I copied the pattern called "Lydia" (Burda 3197). It's a basic long-sleeved pullover top with a scoop neck. I made up a 'wearable muslin' out of a rib knit I bought for only $1.95 a yard. I'm pleased to say that it actually fits. I do have trouble with sizes because by the time it's big enough to fit across my chest, it's hanging off everywhere else. The only place I have to alter this pattern is the length of the sleeves. Why do 'they' assume that if you have womanly curves, your arms are down to your knees?

The pattern is so simple that I have already re-traced it and altered it to make variations, including short-sleeved tops for the summer. Out of this one pattern, which only cost me a little printer ink and about 22 sheets of paper (scrap, anyway), I can get at least 5 different tops.

It's free to join the site. There are many patterns to choose from, including not only women's wear but accessories and a few children's items, too.

Once you download a pattern, you print it out on regular paper. There are clear marks to help you tape it all together. I retraced that onto some exam-table paper I brought home from work, but you could just keep it the way it is.

I hope you enjoyed today's 'tip/link'!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday: Blouse

Here is a simple peasant blouse I made for myself. I didn't realize it's the same shade of blue as the tunic I made recently. Guess I like that color, LOL!

I haven't made a peasant blouse in years, but this was so easy I'll probably make a few of them in different colors. I used elastic in the neck, but I think you're supposed to put a drawstring through it. I just used my mannequin to figure out how much elastic, then anchored it at each end. I could add a tie, I suppose, but it works like this, too. I'm just glad to have something finished! If you want to enjoy more craftaliciousness, please visit Shereen's blog, "Waiting for Him" (see link on sidebar) and maybe even show off one of your own projects! (That includes anything crafty, so don't be shy!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Future Frugalista...maybe

Yesterday, the little girl I babysit came over. She'd actually gotten out of school early because of teachers' conferences, but I was at work so she spent an hour with a neighbor. She came down with a few friends (they weren't going to stay--I'm not a nursery school, I just help out my daughter's friend and make a little money doing it). I gave her the option of staying with my daughter for about an hour, or coming to the grocery with me.
The little boy she was with said the ice cream man was coming soon. Didn't she want to wait? I told her she could--Katherine would watch her for a bit. But then I said, 'on the other hand, you could get ice cream at the grocery.' She thought about this (she's 8, and thinking about spending $3 on ice cream is profound) and finally decided to go with me.
Well, wasn't she surprised that a whole gallon of chocolate chip mint ice cream cost just a little more than she would have spent on one ice cream pop from a truck! She was pretty proud of herself.
She tried to give me her $3, which was mostly dimes. I told her to keep it and paid for the ice cream myself. It was more important for her to see a better way to spend her money.

I'm not telling you I never chase down the ice cream man. But only Mr. Softee--it's the only truck that has soft-serve cones and butterscotch sundaes. I save up for those, LOL!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


I might end up moving my sewing tips to another day in the week. It's below this post if ya wanna check it out. Boohoo, no visitors yesterday. I guess you were all out enjoying the beautiful spring weather!

Yesterday, my husband gave me a rare compliment on my housework. It's not that we don't compliment each other on chores, it's just that we sort of take it for granted. But I had the house (esp. the living room) particularly clean. I figured out the difference. Instead of taking one task such as "pick up trash" and moving all around the house doing it, I concentrated on one area at a time. I have a little tray table next to my chair and it was full of papers, trash, etc. I stuck with it, right down to wiping it clean, until I was done. Same with the coffee table and a few other places. Instead of work spread out that is hardly noticeable, each area really stood out!

So I'm redoing my ta-da lists. If you're one of my rare frequent flyers, you know I love that site. "My Ta-Da Lists" lets you make up your own lists, any length, any kind, for free. I have lists for most of my rooms, broken up into many little jobs. Now I'm changing over so that the lists direct me to work on one area at a time until finished.

It's a trick of the eye. You know how much cleaner your bedroom looks even if all you do is make the bed--a large, clean surface attracts you more than little bits of cleaning here and there.

Much as I believe down time can be found time, and in multi-tasking, I am also coming to realize that when you concentrate on one job, you do it better.

Hope everyone has a nice Sunday! I've got yellow daffodils, purple crocuses and these cute little purple flowers called "Glory of the Snow" coloring my yard!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

Today's tip is: use your machine.

Yeah, sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? But what I mean is, use it to its fullest capacity. Think beyond straight and zig-zag stitches!

I would love to get a serger. I know I'd make good use of it. But at this point in my financial life, there's just no way I can swing one. Enter the overcast stitches offered on my humble little Kenmore machine. I played a bit and found one that works perfectly for me. I just trim away half of a seam allowance and overcast away. It may not look as polished as a serger finish, but it looks good!

Another stitch you probably have is one that sews a straight stitch 3 times before moving to the next stitch. I'm pretty sure that's a 'saddle' stitch. This is the perfect stitch to use to reinforce areas of clothes that are likely to be stressed, such as the crotch (I hate that word) of a pair of pants. I simply sew a straight stitch, then about halfway down the seam I switch to the triple stitch. On my machine, all I have to do is move the 'stitch length' bar over to 'stretch stitch.' Much easier to do it this way than to do it all with a single stitch and then sew over it again!

I hope you enjoy my tip today!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday: Vintage Dress

I did some more work on the vintage dress I started quite a long time ago. It now has some cute flower-shaped buttons!
My friend let me raid her pattern stash after she adopted her daughter, since she'll be too busy to do much sewing. Of course, this dress is for little Abigail Rose. Abi isn't even a year old yet. I'd guess this dress will fit her at about age 3. It's a princess line and the skirt part is really whirly-twirly. It needs a crinoline, LOL! The pattern dates back to 1954. I retraced it because the pieces are really too old and delicate to use directly. You can tell the pattern is old--the envelope offers yardage on fabric that is 36 inches wide. I'm not sure they even sell that now!
Well, if you want to see some other creativity, please visit Shereen's blog, "Waiting for Him" for Sew Crafty Friday. (See my sidebar.) I hope you participate, too!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wifey Wednesday

Don't you just love that alliteration, LOL? Sheila over at "To Love, Honor and Vaccuum" just started this new 'carnival.' Check it out, here, and share some ideas! http://tolovehonorandvacuum.blogspot.com/
As someone who has kept the same guy for over 35 years (since 1971, if you're counting--married since 1980), I can tell you it really is the 'little things' that count. Here's a few 'painless' things I do to keep Mike happy:

1)When he's doing yardwork, I always ask him if he wants a drink, or a refill of his coffee.
2)I rarely let him walk by me without giving him a hug.
3)He does most of his work on our dining room table, so if I use it myself I try to clear away my 'stuff.'
4)He runs or works out 6 days out of the week (at 54, he looks better than most 35-year-olds), and I try to remember to ask him how his workout went.

Oh, gosh, I can't think of anything else. I do most of this without even really thinking about it--second nature. And he 'does' plenty for me without my asking, too. The least of which is the heavy housework such as vaccuuming! (And he gasses my car up for me, too. I despise going to the gas station.)

And just remember that bad little things chip away at a marriage as much as good little things build it up!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

It's Kitchen Tip Tuesday over at Tammy's Recipes! http://www.tammysrecipes.com/

My tip could go hand-in-hand with Lynn's tip about freezer meals. It is to take inventory of what you have on hand...especially meat. I decided to do this between yesterday and today. I had no idea that I already had 3 roast beefs in there before I bought another one today. Okay, one is a chuck roast that I plan to cut up for vegetable soup. And the price of rump roast was excellent today.

But now that I know what I have, and what I'm low on, I can shop more efficiently. I can watch for chicken cutlets to go on sale--don't have any of those except for what we're eating for dinner tomorrow night. But I have plenty of browned ground beef and will make plans around that. Another thing I found was a turkey breast. How on earth does one 'lose' a turkey breast, LOL!? Yeah, it's chest freezer, but it ain't that big.

(I didn't forget about the whole turkey I bought last week. I took it out and it's in the upstairs fridge now thawing for dinner early next week.)

I bet if you clean out your freezer, you'll find plenty from which you can plan meals for at least the next week!