Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip: Zipper

Lucky you, you came across a big bag of zippers for a quarter at a garage sale. So one day, you go to put a 7" white zipper in a skirt but find you only have a 9" zipper in that stash. It is really, really easy to shorten it!

This, of course, assumes the zipper has nylon teeth that you can cut. And all smart sewists (I think 'sewers' sounds like the place where Pennywise the Clown lives--Stephen King fans get the reference.)

Okay, close the zipper and measure down from the thing you pull. I have no idea what that's called--probably the 'pull.'

If you want a 7" zipper, measure down 7" and make a mark. Then, using your machine or by hand, sew across this mark over and over. This will create a new place for the zipper to stop. Leaving about an inch below this 'stop,' cut off the remainder of the zipper.

You now have exactly the size zipper you need! And you'll probably never pass up a twenty-five cent bag of zippers again.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Freezer Friday: Twice Baked Potatoes

Blog-hopping around the cyberverse a few weeks ago, I discovered this fun blog:
She is hosting "Freezer Friday," wherein you offer recipes for things that freeze nicely. I'm all for freeze-ahead food as it makes life so much easier. (I froze a dozen chocolate chip dough balls when I made cookies a few weeks back. Guess what we're having for a snack today?)
Anyway, here's my donation. These freeze beautifully.
The recipe serves 4, but if I use very large potatoes I will often split mine with someone.


4 large baking potatoes
1/3-1/2 Cup milk (you want to keep this fairly 'heavy,' so eyeball the milk until you have a nice texture)
1/4 Cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash pepper
a little sour cream
a little ranch dressing, if you like (I sprinkle some in, then close the little envelope with a clip. If you make your own ranch dressing mix, all the better!)
shredded cheddar

As you see, there are some ingredients you'll just do to taste--you can't really go wrong with these.

Scrub and bake the potatoes. Cool, then cut a small slice from the top. (I find this makes a sturdier potato than cutting it in half lengthwise.)
Remove the pulp and mix it up with everything but the cheese. Stuff the potatoes back in the shell. Add the cheese on top. Put the 'lid' (small slice) back on.

You can wrap these and freeze them for about 2 months. When you want to eat them, take them out 45 minutes before your meal. Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Unwrap and bake for about 40 minutes, until the centers are hot.


PS...don't forget to scroll down for "Sew Crafty Friday"!

Sew Crafty Friday: Valance

Here is the valance I made for my kitchen. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and took home the cherries-on-pink fabric, because it looks really nice in my kitchen. A valance is very easy to make, because it is just one continuous piece and you don't have to worry about hems matching up. And you can change it out with the seasons without spending a fortune! This one cost me about $10, with fabric left over.
BTW, I took this shot with the camera slightly above my kitchen table so you wouldn't see the absolute mess on it, LOL!
Please check my sidebar for the link to Shereen's "Sew Crafty Friday," under "Waiting for Him." There's some great stuff to be found!


Well, I haven't heard a thing so I guess my hand isn't going to fall off. I'm 90% better. I have NO idea what that was all about. The only reason I went is because the doctor I work for said it was swollen and I definitely needed an x-ray. And she's no alarmist, so I listen to her advice.

I forgot to ask my regular dr. what the blood tests were for, but Dr. A said they were looking for signs of arthritis. Well, duh, of course it's going to come up positive...I've had arthritis for years. (The osteo kind, not that awful rheumatoid kind, than goodness!)

I keep rewriting this paragraph. Something about currently having a UTI, going through menopause, chronic back pain, stomach problems...STRESS problems.

Oh, the heck with it. I will now return to our regularly scheduled fun and games. Thanks for the nice comments. I can type just fine today, and I can sew, knit and crochet too. My 'diversions' are like my Folger's...I neeeeed them.

I'll be back later with something for Shereen's Sew Crafty Friday!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Down time...

...can be 'found time.'

For all I hate sitting still, you'd think I'd be thin and athletic. Ha, ha, ha. Still, I'm a fidget. I detest being on hold on the phone!

I had to call for a doctor's appointment. I injured my wrist mysteriously (as in, I didn't fall or bump it) and it hurts and is swollen. The doctor I work for said I definitely need an X-ray. So I called my own doctor today. And sat there on hold, and on hold, and on hold.

After about the third "your call will be taken in the order it was received," I got smart enough to switch over to a portable phone, and started folding laundery. (Folding shirts with one hand is an art, if you ask me.) And as I'm sitting there, I see how dusty the dresser is. So I decide to clean it. Not just clean, but reorganize, too.

I finally did get through, and will see the doctor this afternoon. In case you're wondering how I can type...I don't know. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes I see stars if I move it the wrong way. I'm really curious to see what's going on.

Back to the dresser. Now that I'd started, I got a bug to finish it. Some bug. Took me over an hour. But at least it's a long-put-off job that is done. (Except for the very top. I can't reach that. There is probably a city's worth of dust mites up there.) time you are waiting on hold, or for a site to download, or for something to heat up in the microwave, look around and see what you can do instead of just 'sitting there.' You might be surprised what you can accomplish!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

First, thanks for all the kind words yesterday! We've already cleared out Michael's room and now Nicky has a room of his own. I'll get to see Michael tomorrow for Easter!

This is a bit of a cheat since I posted this idea a long time ago. But this time, I have pictures. Besides, between moving Nicky into the new room, finishing my Easter top and regular household chores--not to mention I have work at 4--I don't feel like thinking of anything 'new.' And it's worth repeating.Today's tip is about measuring hems or any other instance of folding over an edge of fabric. In this example, I have to fold over 4" on the top of the curtains for my son's room, to allow for a casing and a ruffle on top. As you can see, I have measured in 8 inches from the finished edge. I used a disappearing marker. You could also use pins to mark your increments. The basic idea is...whatever you want the finished 'hem' to be, double it and use that as your measurement.

Now, fold over the fabric so that the finished edge meets where you made your marks. See...mine folds perfectly at four inches. Yours will fold perfectly, too.

Have a great Saturday! Enjoy coloring your eggs and don't forget to leave a carrot for the Easter Bunny.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday and an Emptier Nest

Well, the chicks are starting to fly. My oldest moved out yesterday, into his first apartment. Do you know how weird it is to walk into his room and find it (virtually) empty? I get a little choked up knowing I don't have all my kids here. One day, I know they will all be gone. This is just the start.

It's life. It doesn't mean I have to like it. But Michael promises he'll be back, especially if I call and tell him I'm making something special for dinner. Nothing lures a kid back home like dinner, LOL!

I guess I'll get used to it. I've already bought fabric and started new curtains for the room, which will now go to my youngest son. (My middle boy wants to keep the room he's been sharing with his little brother for 18 years.) They are a gold-on-gold cotton, light in color but boyish enough. The room needs painted before Nicky moves in--when we bought this house 14 years ago, I let the kids each pick their own paint color. Michael had picked orange. I'm hoping to do it in a goldish brown--neutral without being boring.

I also started a new valance for my kitchen. It is a cherry print on a pink background. I don't have one iota of pink in my kitchen. I started to pick up an apple print, since there is a lot of red in my kitchen. But apples are playing it safe. I needed to indulge myself today. So cherries on pink it was.

I also endulged myself with a cat print to make curtains for my office.

Some people drink or eat to fight the blues. Me...I buy fabric.

Hey, I actually have a finished project to show. It is a necklace I made to match my dress. As you can see in the photo, the dress has matching binding around the collar. The armholes are bound in white double-face bias tape. If Easter were a month from now, I'd have pushed myself to finish it for Sunday. But it's too cold to go sleeveless yet.

Enough talking. Here is a picture of my necklace:

Please visit Shereen at "Waiting for Him" (see my sidebar) and enjoy other crafty goodness. And thanks for indulging me as I mope a little!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's Bunny Time...

...aka, Spring! Susan of Blackberry Creek (see link on my sidebar) asked us a while back to show off our bunnies. I finally got around to taking pictures today. Here are some of my long-eared friends!

Some bunnies were gifts. Some bought on clearance, some from garage sales. My biggest bunny is the brown one holding her baby in the top lefthand photo. Can you believe she only cost $4? I got her when Hallmark started clearing out all 'non-Hallmark' items from their stores. I'd say she's about 18 inches tall, sitting. She's very soft and cuddly.

I think the bunny I've had for the longest time is the yellow one in the front of that same picture. He actually has siblings up in the attic. In fact, I have more bunnies up there who will be coming down tomorrow. There's only so much ladder-climbing someone with a bad back can do in one day, LOL!
Do you like the plate behind the little rabbits in the hutch? It's a Dept. 56 and I paid $1.99 at the Salvation Army Thrift shop for it! (If you know how to remove the gooey label residue, lmk, okay?)
Anyway...HAPPY SPRING!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

WFMW: Blogging w/o guilt

Because...we all have enough to feel guilty about, right? Blogging is my guilty pleasure. I'm on the computer when my husband leaves for work in the a.m. and still on it when he comes home. He probably thinks this is what I do all day...NOT.

See, I don't do it all in one shot. I blog a little, do some chores, blog a little, do something else and on until I don't feel like it any more. Somehow, the house gets fairly clean (as opposed to company clean) and we manage to eat pretty good food every night. Besides, I have a part-time job so that eradicates some guilt.

But how do I make sure I stop to get other things done? Easy--I count. Today, for instance, I printed out the list of wonderful Works for Me Wednesday tips you will find over at Rocks in My Dryer

Whilst having my morning coffee, I marked off the hints I want to read. At that point, it was only up to 95, but I think there are nearly 200 tips there now--time to print out the second half of the list. Obviously, I'm not intersted in all of them. It's been about 16 years since I needed baby advice, for example.

So I decided that today I would check out 10 posts, then go do something, then do 10 more, etc. So now I am off to bring groceries in from the car. Then I'm going to straighten up the pillows that were knocked off the couch. Then maybe I'll do something else...or maybe I'll come back and read 10 more posts. Either way, it gets me up and moving and the housework gets done!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

Today's tip is: have more than one pin cushion! One would be for pins, of course. But you can use another to keep pre-threaded needles on hand. This is great if you're like me and you work on multiple projects. I always try to have at least one white and one black threaded needle. But I also have pink, lavendar, green, red or any other color I will need for whatever "WIPs" I've got going.

There are tutorials out there for really nice pincushions, if you're inclined to make some yourself. Here's a link to a blog with an easy, cute one. Just check her sidebar!

Have fun this weekend!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday

Friday is such a fun blogging day, with "Frugal Friday" at Biblical Womanhood (see previous post) and "Sew Crafty Friday" at There's such a wealth of talent and brains out there.

Here's my crafty thing of the week. It's a tote bag. This pink-on-brown print caught my eye, and there was barely a yard on the bolt. But I had to have it, LOL! I decided to make a bag out of it, using some beige poplin I already had.
I'm sorry that I don't have the link to this tutorial. I deleted it from my sewing file after I made the bag. It's supposed to have a little strap closure with a button on the front. I'm planning on using this for library books, mostly, so I skipped the closure. But if it looks familiar to you, please lmk and I'll give credit where it is due!
I've been doing a lot of sewing this week. I cut out 2 tops for the spring, both in blue fabric. One is a peasant top and one is a tunic. I can sew them both with the same color thread, so I've been progressing there.
I'm also progressing with the dress I designed. That has been a learning experience for time I adapt a pattern meant for a woven into a knit bodice, I'll use a smaller size. I had to take in very large darts to get this to fit me right, but I'm getting there! And the skirt fits great--I plan to use that pattern (which I did make 100% from scratch) for some springy skirts.

So, what have you in your craft room today??????

Frugal Friday Tip: Butter

It's time for Frugal Friday over at Biblical Womanhood. Wow, there are some great tips this week! Here is mine:

With the holidays approaching, many 'special dinner' foods are on sale. Butter is one of them. We eat butter a lot in this house (btw, my cholesterol is almost optimal--I had it checked), but I sure don't want to pay $5 a pound for it! So when it is on sale, as it is this week, I stock up. You can freeze it just fine. I always have several pounds in the freezer and one pound in the fridge. All the stores in my area are selling it for half price or less. Check your own local circulars, if you happen to like butter. I buy a mix of the salted kind, plus some sweet butter for baking.
Don't forget to see what other things are on sale that you can put in the freezer--like ham and turkey!

A visit for more great, frugal ideas!
(BTW, I'll be back later with my "Sew Crafty Friday" post!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

CVS: Extreme Basics

There are some wonderful places to find detailed information on how to do the whole CVS thing. I couldn't do such a good job here. There are bloggers out there who have this down to a science. But I can give you what I feel are the most basic rules!

1. Get a CVS card--duh. Hey, I said this was basic!

2. Check the Sunday circular. The week's ECB deals are clearly marked, usually with a yellow square that tells you what you'll get if you buy a certain product. Also check your coupon stash to see if you have a manufacturer's coupon for the same product, for additional savings.

3. Use the card every time. If you forget it, you can give them your phone number and they'll look it up.

4. When you leave the store and get in your car, check your receipt before you even start the engine. (But don't get so excited about your potential savings that you forget to buckle your seatbelt!)

At the bottom of the receipt, you'll see a bunch of coupons printed out. These are called Extra Care Bucks, or ECBs for short.

There will be some ECBs that don't interest you. Forget those. But tear off the ones you like, especially the ones that are plain ECBs with no product named on them. You can use these for just about anything in the CVS store. Also save the ones that say something like "$2 off any $10 CVS purchase." And, of course, save the ones for money off products you like.

5. Put those ECBs right in your wallet. And get in the habit of checking your wallet every time you return to CVS.

6. I have been told by 2 cashiers that CVS will take outdated ECBs, so if you find one you forgot about, be sure to check if you can still use it.

So, what's this whole rollover thing? Here's a simple example:

Let's say CVS has Colgate toothpaste on sale for $2.99, and the circular tells you that you'll get $2 ECBs back.
And, being smart and lucky, you happen to have a $1 Colgate toothpaste mfr. coupon! buy the toothpaste, which costs you $1.99 after the mfr. coupon. And you find a $2 ECB at the bottom of your receipt.
You put this receipt in your wallet.

Next Sunday rolls around. You've been noticing more gray in your hair, so you decide it's time to go "Honey Ash Blonde." Excellence by L'Oreal is on sale for $5.99, and you get $3 ECBs back. And you have a $2 off mfr coupon!
So you combine the $2 mfr with the $2 ECBs you had from last week, and the haircolor costs you $1.99...but you get back $3 in ECBs! So you've actually made a profit.
And then the next week comes, and you start all over again...

I have shown the use of ECBs for only one product at a time, but of course you can do as many ECB deals as your heart desires. Some weeks, you'll find a lot. Some weeks, there won't be much of any.

Oh. one more thing: you get ECBs every quarter based on your purchases. So, I believe, the next one should come up after the first of April. Be on the lookout!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Free Shampoo at CVS

There is a $1 coupon for Garnier Fructic shampoo or conditioner or styler in today's paper. (I'm sorry, I cut it out and forget which circular--but there are two today, Smart Source and Redplum). CVS has them on sale for $2.99, plus you get a $2 ECB. So with the coupon, it costs you -1 cent. Yeah, better than free. You get a penny back. Whoa!

I haven't seen much else that's interesting at CVS lately. Maybe it's just me.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

Here is a great way to make sure your facings lay nice and flat. After you sew the facing and clip your curves, press the seam allowance towards the facing. Then stitch on the seam allowance, as close to the seam as you can get. This will anchor the seam allowance to the facing, and create a nice, crisp edge when you fold the facing inside the garment. And it also helps to keep it from rolling out!

By the way, I'm looking for any advice about sergers. I might break down and get one some time this year, but they scare me half to death. Do you have one? Do you like it, and is it easy? I mean, really, really easy?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Two Fridays: Sew Crafty and Frugal

I'm always enjoying the wonderful, frugal ideas on Frugal Friday, over at
And you know I love Shereen's blog, especially on Sew Crafty Friday!

Please visit their blogs. There are a lot of crafty, frugal, bright and talented ladies (and gents!) out there!

Since I've been doing more cooking than sewing this week, I decided to participate in both.

My biggest sewing project this week, which is also frugal, was to trace out the pattern for my summer pajamas. I used my old flannel pajamas (the ones that are bleach-stained and faded)! I'm sorry I don't have a photo, but Blogger is being evil today about photos. Basically, all I did was cut the pajama top apart (I'll get to the pants later) and trace one front piece, one sleeve and half of the back. I have some cotton I bought for a dress a while back, but had decided it was too 'tea party' for my tastes (big roses on a white background). So that's what I'll use to make summer pajamas.
I also started to make a quilt for St. Patrick's Day. The chances of me finishing it this year are zippo, but I at least want to get the top done before I put all the green stuff up in the attic.

Speaking of green stuff, here's my frugal cooking tip: make cupcakes this weekend. Bake the first dozen as usual and let your family enjoy them. But for the second dozen, add food coloring to match one of the upcoming holidays! I did mine in green, for St. Patrick's Day. You could do lavendar or pink for Easter, too! Just pop this second batch in the freezer, preferably in something that will keep them from getting squished. Leave off the icing, of course! Then just take them out the day before you need them and ice them after they thaw. You'll have a festive* and frugal snack for the holidays!

*BTW, don't you think 'festive' is just about the most Martha Stewart word ever?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday
It's another backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday over at Rocks in My Dryer. We get to ask a question, so mine is this: do you have a good bread recipe I'm talking plain old ordinary white bread, without a bread machine. I made some last week, using my Kitchenaid stand mixer for the hard work. The family loved it. I didn't...I thought it was too doughy. The recipe was for an ABM. So I honestly didn't know how long to knead it.

I'm trying to find an old-fashioned recipe, without any weird ingredients. We don't do whole wheat here. I have bread flour already and I have yeast.

Any recipes would help! Thanks!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday

It's Kitchen Tip Tuesday time at Tammy's Recipes! There are 20 great tips there, so far. Go check it out.

Here's my humble donation:

When you measure flour, always mound the flour higher than your measuring cup. Then take a knife or spatula and poke down into the cup a few times. This will help break up the clumps that occur in flour. Then take the knife and skim the side of it across the top of the cup, from side to side, so that the 'mound' falls back into the flour container. Extra flour will fall into the cup and fill any air pockets.

While we're on the subject of flour: it's a good idea to premeasure flour and dry ingredients for several recipes at a time. If you enjoy making bread, for example, the next time you measure out flour for one recipe, measure out some for a few others, too! Just put the pre-measured flour and other dry ingredients into a plastic bag and label it. This way, you get the mess out of the way all at once. And next time you want to bake, your dry ingredients are ready and waiting for you!

Hope these tips are helpful!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday Sewing Tip

Today's tip: double up! If you have a versatile pattern that you love, why not cut out two at the same time? Just lay your two different fabrics down so they match along their folds, and pin your pattern pieces through all layers. (This wouldn't work with heavy fabric like fleece, unless you happen to have the longest pins in existence.)

By using two fabrics with similar color backgrounds, you can use the same thread for both garments and sew them assembly-line style.

More double-up tips:

Always have two bobbins threaded--one for the machine and a spare. It's a good idea to start with a fully wound bobbin before you do buttonholes! Having the bobbin run out in the middle of a buttonhole is really, really frustrating.

Always have two hand sewing needles threaded if your garment has buttons. This way, when one needle runs out of thread, you don't have to stop and rethread to continue sewing.

Hope today's tips are helpful! Happy Sewing!