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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

bonding time

So, I posted a little while ago about making quilts from jelly rolls of fabric.  The first one is 99% done - all quilted, binding attached, but then I found a place where stitches popped, so I will put it back under the needle and re-stitch that area.

Meanwhile, #2 jelly roll quilt is done except for attaching the binding.....and that's where the bonding time comes in.  DD (age 9) wants to help me do "something" so I suggested she and I work together to get the binding done.  For the past 2 nights we've had between 30 and 45 minutes of non-stop handsewing and chatter time.

She has some interesting questions, a lot of which make no sense to me at all, and we just ramble about how I learned how to sew, why her stitches look "stupid" and mine don't, etc.  I've told her that it takes time and practice to sew as fast as I do (much like my typing speed, it only gets better the more I do it)....anyway, I also had to tell her that I wasn't sewing nearly as well as she currently is when I was her age.  So we keep working together.  I have a 3rd quilt that I need to get to work on, but it can wait until we are done with this binding...she'll help me with that one as well.

It's interesting to sit and talk with a 9yo girl who has an older brother.  Sometimes her questions are about school and friends and clothing, which I can usually handle.  But sometimes, she comes up with questions that are both frustrating and heart breaking - like why is her brother so stupid about certain things and why does he always seem to yell at her......yeah, ouch.  I have to remind her, yet again, that her brother has Asperger's, which means he has a form of autism, which further means that the way he sees things, thinks about things, processes things, is NOT the same as how she does and that some things are difficult for him to understand, regardless of the fact that he's almost 4 years older than she is.

I have the feeling that this will be a life-long discussion, but at least she is asking questions and we are talking about them.  At least we are doing things together and learning more about each's something that's kind of new....who cares if her stitches are REALLY close or that she pulls them so tight that the binding puckers a bit...all that matters is that we are spending time together just being together and talking together......

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stress.....why always at this time of year?

So...we just had our Thanksgiving "break"...yeah right.....'

Friday night, around 1145 or so, DS knocked on the bedroom door and yelled, "Mom, I just barfed"...lovely.  So, DH rocketed down the stairs as fast as he could, then asked what I needed him to do (long story...short version is that he gets sick if others, huh?).  Got him in the bathroom and gave him clean clothes while I started cleaning the floor....thought things were settled when I went back to bed (around 1am), but later Saturday morning found us in the ER because of radiating belly pains towards his appendix. we have a freaked out child with Asperger's, ADHD, and anxiety issues, unable to take any of his medication because of getting sick, stuck in the ER for 4+ hours.  First attempt to get an IV line in failed and the poor nurse felt so bad about it.  Second attempt was fine...but during that time, a 3rd nurse came in, looking at me in an accusing manner and asking if there was a problem and if they needed help....what the heck was up with that.  I snapped at her that it was as under control as it was going to be at the time, and she left....later I got to talk to her and explain everything, but seriously, at the time I just wanted to smack her.

CT scan, blood work, pee in a cup...everything came back normal...only thing they could think of was that he pulled muscles when he was getting sick....

He's better now, but is back to his normal whiny self, half-assing his school work and mouthing off....

Seriously??  I already have seasonal affective disorder (aka seasonal depression) so I'm stressed out enough as it is, but to have to go through this as well??

I think tomorrow is going to be a baking/cleaning day, just to help clear my head and refocus

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quilting progress

So....after hearing about the possibility of a "jelly roll race" on, I decided to give one a try.  First quilt was from the equivalent of half a jelly I added borders.  It is completely quilted and only needs the binding added to be finished.

Today I finished quilting the 2nd, made from a complete jelly roll.....on a different machine from the first one because I managed to break the foot I used for the first quilt.  I was lucky enough to be able to get to a local sewing machine shop and get a replacement foot, so I tried it on my Kenmore and YES! it fit!!!

2nd jelly roll quilt is now ready for the binding as well...however, I haven't cut the fabrics for either binding, which I guess will be my project for tomorrow.  Oh, and I already have fabrics for a third jelly roll quilt, which will be started once these other 2 are finished and I've done some work on finishing the last 2 pairs of pajama pants that I need to get done before Christmas.

Phew!  Lots of work going on here....JR #1 has flannel for batting and a cotton back, JR #2 is just a top with fleece serving as both batting/backing, and JR #3 will be similar to JR #1 with flannel as the batting.

Meanwhile, on the baking side of domesticity, the only one eating the pumpkin bread is my daughter and I've made it clear that I won't bake anything else until the pumpkin bread is nearly she's been taking it to school for snacks and having it as her pre-bed snack.  For some reason, even though I basically made this one from scratch (didn't puree the pumpkin on my own), it doesn't seem as appealing as the batch I made from box mix.  Next up on the baking schedule are: brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and molasses cookies....whenever more bread gets eaten.

On the laundry side of the house, the homemade detergent is doing quite well.  We are up to 15 loads, and the clothing is still clean and fresh, stains are coming out just fine, and there is no residual fragrance to make my allergies act up.

Off I go....Parade, then cooking, then relaxing, and Friday will see me doing sewing and/or quilting while the kids veg out...what is everyone else doing???

Monday, November 19, 2012

frustrated baker

Darling girl said, "I *love* pumpkin bread!" SO I made some from scratch, sent a loaf in to one of her teachers, and sliced the other 2 loaves (recipe makes 3 loaves and I didn't want to bother figuring out how to cut everything down) for snacking.  I also made, at son's request, peanut butter blossom cookies and plain peanut butter cookies.  Well, all the cookies are gone (oh yes, including the plain sugar cookies), but the pumpkin bread remains.  I thought about doing some baking today, but there's still bread in the snack bowl.....guess I'll wait a few days.

I have the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies as well as molasses cookies, but I don't see why I should bother when, after making something that was asked for, it's still sitting uneaten.  Ah well...guess that's what they'll be snacking on for a while longer.  Since we aren't having a big hoo-hah for Thanksgiving, I might do some baking then....if the mood strikes.

I've finished the quilting on 1 quilt, am over halfway done on the 2nd quilt, and haven't even cut the fabrics for the 3rd, but I can work with this....the first 2 need to be done as soon as I can get them done, the 3rd is planned as a Christmas present.....but, I broke my free motion foot for my Kenmore, which is my daily sewing machine.  I'm working on #2 quilt using my EuroPro and the darning foot....stitches are longer, but it seems to actually be going better since I'm in the 3rd quadrant to help the son with Boy Scout stuff

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shock at the grocery store

So, it's that time of the month - payday {sigh}.  That means paying bills, of course, but it also means trying to get the best grocery deals for the least amount of money.  Right now, we are trying to pay of medical bills in addition to the regular monthly bills, so things are a little tighter than normal around here.  With that in mind, I sat down and went through circulars yesterday and matched up what coupons I had - minimum of stuff, but things I can build several meals around.  I thought I was done and ready to go...I was wrong.

Since Food Lion doesn't put their circulars in the Sunday paper (because their specials don't run from Sunday to Saturday like every other store), I decided I'd check out their circular while my son was in karate class today - figuring I had an hour to kill anyway.  Well, in that hour, I shopped, found great deals, matched coupons (don't forget that if your store has a coupon kiosk, you can scan your bonus card, or enter your phone number if you don't have your card, and it will print out coupons based on your previous purchases).  In the end, I had steaks, shrimp, chicken breasts, turkey sausage and turkey bacon, lunchmeat, some canned goods, frozen veggies and 2 Red Baron pizzas in my cart - all either on sale, with a coupon, or marked down because the sell by date was today or tomorrow.  Total spent: $96.39...yep, less than $100 for food to feed a family of 4!

Next step, and I believe I mentioned this in a previous post, MEAL PLANNING!!  After writing everything down on my inventory list, I sat down and started planning our dinners.  Breakfast is always fend for yourself, as is lunch for most of us.  Because the cafeteria where my husband works is currently closed, his lunches are made from dinner leftovers, so I try to cook a little more to make sure that he has something to take with him.  I had thought I would get about 2 weeks (to the next payday) worth of dinners planned, but once I started working on them, I ended up with......FIVE weeks of meals planned!!  Now, some of this was food we already had in the freezer, but most was from the food that I bought today.  I called hubby dear and told him I wanted to celebrate beause I've *never* done this well before.

Now I have to look at the lists I made for the 2 other grocery stores that I like and see exactly what we NEED from store has bread for $0.88 per loaf as well as a special this week where, if you buy 4 GM foods, you can get a free gallon of milk (and with milk almost $4/gallon, we could use this....we use GM foods anyway), so I will go there for that since it's on a regularly traveled route.  The other has canned cat food, cat litter, roasts all at decent prices, and I need to go there to pick up Rx meds anyway.  BUT.....that should only be another $60 or for $150, I will be able to feed my family of 4, plus 2 cats and a dog for 5, maybe 6 weeks??!!??  HELL YEAH!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's getting colder so.....

Let's make quilts!!

On Pattern Review, there is some chatter about doing jelly roll quilts - actually having a jelly roll race - in January.  I can't plan that far least not with home schooling, holidays, trying to combine about 20 cookbooks into one...sheesh!  Instead, I decided to give it a try and see if I was even interested in how they would turn out.  I have one that is almost completely done - assembly, batting, backing, and quilting - and one that is just the top, which hasn't even been ironed yet.  Both have already been claimed by others.  However, it has been SO nice to have the extra layers on my lap as the weather gets colder.

I'm thinking that I'm going to rotate baking with quilting with working through my various patterns that I'd like to get finished before the kids outgrow them....productive, useful...yeah, th is seems right up my alley. :-)

Now, detergent update: So far, we've done 7 loads of laundry using the homemade detergent and there has been no real smell leftover, the clothing is clean and fresh, and yes, all the bits of Fels Naphtha dissolves in a cold water wash and cold water rinse.  I haven't even added any bleach to the laundry loads yet!!  WOOHOO.....looks like dishwasher soap will be the next thing I make, but since I just bought some, it will be a few weeks.  I'm also looking into making liquid dish soap for the things that we hand wash.

Today was another light baking day - sugar cookies.  Tomorrow will see a lot of bouncing back and forth because, since he has finished all of his classes to or beyond the halfway point, I'm giving my son a few days off from school.  However, tomorrow he has to write his essays for his scholarship merit badge.  I have to get to more sections of wall/ceiling with a second coat of spackling compound and finish caulking around the door.  I also have to finish quilting the first of the quilts and, hopefully, get the second one pinned out.  Oh, and did I mention that my son wants peanut butter blossom cookies??  Yeah, there's a lot to be done over the next few fun

Friday, November 9, 2012

Going off the deep end??

So...the detergent seems to be working.  Both children have now done their laundry with it and have said it is smell whatsoever, and the clothes feel WAY  I will be doing some of Hubby's clothes today and we will get his feedback to add to the collected comments.

However, now that I've started with a couple of homemade things vs. store-bought, I'm looking for more.  So far, I've done baking from scratch, made homemade, non-fried potato chips, homemade laundry detergent, and am making cloth napkins to use instead of paper towels.  I think that's a pretty dang good start...but.......

Last night, while pinning together bits of fabric for a totally different project, I started looking to see what else was out there that I could make instead of far I have recipes for a homemade version of "cheez-its" as well as "milk bone" dog biscuits...uh-oh....I need to find one for molasses cookies because they are apparently well-liked by my children now (last time I had any, they tasted them and threw them out, this time, they are eating them all!!).  Hmmm....this could be an interesting venture......but still have to work it in around the family sewing, Christmas presents, day-to-day work around the house, etc.

I'm thinking I should probably go back to making my "master mix" which was pulled from "Once a Month Cooking" - More Mary, Less Martha....fabulous cookbook, even though I haven't worked up to cooking once a month yet....the recipes are divided so that you can make anywhere from 1 meal to 5 meals...with all the ingredients listed properly for each amount....but the Master Mix totally rocks (pancakes, cookies, muffins, bread...yup, all from the same basic mix).  Which now has me thinking of all the cookbooks I've collected....oy!

That's another project altogether.  I want to have cookbooks made for each child when they are ready to move out on their own.  I've gotten a pretty good start, but with the collection of cookbooks that i have, it may take a few  I'm mainly putting in recipes that have been tried and that the entire family loved, but I'm also adding in ones that are healthy, low-fat, low cost, but we haven't tried them yet....we'll see how long this

Anyway, I feel like, instead of just dipping my toes into the pool of homemade heaven, I've just gone straight off the diving board into the deep end....but if it saves money in the long run, I'm all for it.....will post updates of projects and if the were successes or failures.....either way, we learn something

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homemade laundry soap - 1st attempt

Ok, so I'm getting all into this homemade mindset...not only to save money, but for fun (yes, it kind of is  I was talking to my hubby last night about homemade laundry detergent vs. store bought and he said for me to look into it. just so happened that a friend was making up a batch last night while the election results were being posted.  Of course, that lead to discussion and another friend posted that she makes her own as well....I have an HE front loader, but have been assured that they are fine for my machine.

Went to the links these lovely ladies provided and, more because of lack of storage space, opted for the powder version instead of the liquid-gel version.  Off I went to purchase supplies and I called a friend who was also interested in trying this out....we both grated Fels Naphtha and the combined everything else together then divided the final product between the two of us....should give us (according to the blog I got it from) about 4.5 months (lady who posted said she does about 8 loads a week and her last batch made it for 9 months).

We were careful to pour the powders slowly, but still ended up sneezing a bit, however the kitchen smells great.  I was a bit concerned because I have chemical sensitivities and have bought the dye-free and fragrance-free detergents, however, this actually has a light scent that I can tolerate.  Only thing I *really* need to remember is to NOT add this to the detergent dispenser, but directly to the drum of the washer when I do laundry.

Well, first load with this detergent is finished - DSs nasty pre-teen boy  Time to check the results and get them into the dryer.  Will post after they are all done on if we notice a difference....

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Victorian Sofa progress pictures

So....had posted the start of the deconstruction of the sofa, here are pictures of the various steps:

 This is what the springs looked like once we got the multiple layers of "batting" removed - old, rusted, and no longer straight.
 We found this wedged into some of the springs.  Researched this and this particular sample came out in around 1912-1914 (have to double check my notes on this).  It is currently in a ziploc, and has been put back into the couch for dating purposes.

A clipping for a pattern, about 1920 or so.  Would *love* to actually have a pattern like this, but am guessing it's not the affordable price that this clipping listed.
 Front side pieces after treatment with OxyClean.  Removed years of stain and varnish - did this in the driveway so that it wouldn't stain the garage floor or leave foam all over the place
top side pieces, also after use of Oxy Clean.  Think these may have been soaked for a bit too long as they have almost NO stain left in them at all
 Top back piece before use of OxyClean...extremely dark, not what we really want for the room
 Close up of top back, center carving
 left side (when facing the couch)
 right side (when facing the couch)
All pieces after being treated with OxyClean.  I didn't try really hard to get all the stain out of the carving.  We're going for an aged, but not extremely dark and dismal look

 Removal of the old, crooked, rusty springs
 comparison of the old springs (closest) and new spring
 empty sofa frame
 installation of first new spring
 all springs installed, and first round of tying in place
 first round of tying complete, and second round started
first and second round of tying done and finishing up the third round

 third round of tying getting finished
close up of third round

 Start of fourth round of tying {sigh}
 All tying complete - front to back, side to side, then diagonally from left back to front (all the way across the length of the sofa) and diagonally from right back to front (again, the entire length)
 burlap cover for the springs.  Double layer, to help with spring compression and to keep the springs from poking through the batting and final fabric.
Another shot of the burlap cover...complete pain in the butt because it took 2 of us - 1 to hold in place and one to wedge the stapler in and fire off the staples - sometimes several in a very small area.

This is as far as we are right now.  Have to finish sanding and priming one area in the future office space, then we will move the sofa upstairs for the rest of the work.

Money saving tactics kicking into gear....

So, yes, it's been um....6 months or so since my last post.
       In May, I had pictures of the Victorian sofa that we are in the process of refinishing.  So far, we've removed all the old fabric and stuffing, replaced all of the springs, and removed decades of dirt and stain with my favorite cleaner - Oxy-Clean!!  It is currently sitting in the garage with new springs, all of which have been retied properly, and a double layer of burlap to hold the springs partially compressed.  It will shortly be moved to the future office space - just have to sand a couple more seams and get that area primed, then the couch can go upstairs for the remaining work (removal of the legs so that we can get the wheels off, some more nail removal and possibly some sanding in some areas) before the new padding and fabric ($$$ yikes!) can go on.

   Meanwhile, in the space of 24 hours, we discovered that our cable bill jumped nearly $30, our current insurance has NO dental coverage - which means things we didn't pay for last year we now have a co-pay for - open enrollment is next week, and we HAVE to find ways of cutting expenses since the insurance options keep going up every year.  To that end, I spent quite a bit of time baking (so we didn't need to spend $$ of sugary snacks), and have made the decision that i will NOT buy paper towels anymore (not a huge step, but that's anywhere from $7-$13 off the grocery bill every month - yes, we tend to go through quite a few).  So...what to do to replace the paper towels??!!??  Easy.....cloth napkins that can just get tossed into the wash with the rest of the laundry - all laundry, unless extremely stained, gets cold wash/cold electricity used to heat the water up.  First batch has made everyone laugh - black fabric with colorful race cars scattered all over it (pics to be posted later).  No, I didn't go out and buy fabric specifically for this project.  Instead, due to the fact that I just didn't have the time to get things made, I'm using fabric that was already in my room, but that had originally been purchased for items that I was planning on selling at the craft fair - by the way, I'm no longer doing the craft fair because the running of the household and home schooling my son is taking more time than I expected.

    Of course, we've also done the temperature drop, but it's not been easy to get the children to wear warmer cloths, put on socks, etc.  Argh!!  One thing that HAD to get done was finishing the sheet rock seams in the future office space.  I got the last section yesterday - well, the first coat of spackling compound is on all the seams...still need a second coat and sanding, but I think that will have to wait until spring.  We are caulking all around the floor/wall seams, and I will finish caulking around the door today - still thinking that I might need to purchase some weatherstripping and put it on the door - not the adhesive stuff that I put up temporarily, but the vinyl stuff that will actually be a bit better seal.  Have fallen in love with rope caulk for the minor air leaks around the windows and have checked all the rooms downstairs - need to check the bedroom windows as well, but I *knew* there were leaks downstairs.

   Also in consideration - low-tech 2013.  What's that mean??  It means that we don't spend what we don't have, we make things for each other and as gifts, we help out more, maybe even barter for things, and we DEFINITELY save up to purchase things instead of using the credit card (mainly because, while I thought we would have one completely paid off, we've since gotten another bill for dental work, so who knows when the credit card will get paid off...frustrating!!!).  Going with the "make stuff" plan is avoiding the junk food trap by making cookies, breads, muffins, and yes, potato chips, at home.  Today will be the first experiment with flavored potato chips as I will be attempting vinegar for one batch, and BBQ for another batch, in addition to the "lightly salted" version that I've made in the past.  Debating about doing something I read in one of my cookbooks - pre-slicing potatoes into fries, hashbrowns, etc. and freezing them until we need them...but the fries I'm not to sure about....we buy frozen ones that look like they have already been cooked, so we are just re-heating they fry them in oil, cool them, then freeze them, or what...guess I should hunt around and learn before trying.

   Pictures of napkins, updated Victorian sofa, and other stuff will be posted at a later time.....