Saturday, December 24, 2016

It was weird, but good

Many of you know that our family said goodbye to our dad, granddad, great-granddad,  husband, uncle, and brother this past July.  This was the first holiday season without him.  First Thanksgiving and now Christmas, Daddy was missed.  Daddy was fixture in our family and at every holiday gathering.  This is usually how we found him.

The type of camera has changed over the years; from an 8 mm camera which blinded you (but still he would say "look at the camera!" and all we saw were spots), to the digital wonder you see before you, he felt it his personal duty to be the one to record our family history.

Daddy liked to talk politics and so every get together, even visits, you had to be well versed in current events.  Regardless of how much you thought you knew, You would still walk away having learned something you never knew or never thought of before.  Daddy was a walking encyclopedia and/or history book.  "Well read" would be an understatement.

Daddy was big on quality control when it came to Christmas cookies, especially the cut out Christmas cookies.  He knew he never had to worry.  Mama knows cookies of all types.  She definitely knows her way around an oven.  He did, however use quality control as a good excuse for snagging a few.

We gathered this year and managed to have two successful holidays.  We laughed, joked, opened gifts, hugged and just enjoyed being together.  But it was weird.  It's the best way to describe it.  There were no political discussions.  People took their own pictures, but there wasn't the hiding from the roving camera.

  I missed a bear hug.  Daddy gave great hugs.  He was so big, he could just wrap you up.

 We laughed, but the heartiest laugh over all was absent...for now.

What there was, though, love, family, and togetherness.  Above all of that was Hope.  There was something missing from the festivities this year...Daddy.  But we celebrated, regardless, because we have hope.  Hope given by a baby in a manger who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  One day we will have another Christmas celebration with all of those who have gone on before us, and I will hear that laughter and receive that hug again.

I say all of this to point out, good or bad, happy or sad, Christmas is Christmas.  Not because of the gifts, songs, cards, or even people celebrating.  Christmas is Christmas because of Christ.  This year was hard, but possible because Christ is still Lord.  Christ still chose to come.  So we celebrate.  I hope this Christmas finds you well.  Thank you for all of your support this year and previous years.  I wish for you the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest new year..

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Still here

I know I've been absent of late.  My doll clothes business is going great with the holiday season here.  I'm figuring a lull after Dec 20th so things should get back to more normal.  This was my first year having an Etsy shop so there's been a bit of a learning curve.  Right now I'm at 91 sales.  I'm hoping I can pass 100.  In the new year during the slower times, I'm hoping to increase my inventory so next Christmas won't be quire so crazy.  It's been fun seeing all of the places my creations get to go.  I may not be well traveled, but my doll clothes are.  I've been to London, Canada, and the Cayman Island internationally.  I've been to New York, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and many other states in the US.  I have to say I've really enjoyed this experience.  Here's a link to my store if you're interested.

The new year holds many things on my to do list.  We're in a drought here and so I was wondering if I would have a garden.  Lately we've had a good amount of rain so I may chance it.  Especially if I can get my first priority accomplished for the year; Gutters on the house.  We've never had them, but I want them and badly.  The rain that runs off the house is eroding the ground at the base of my foundation.  Not cool.  We are finally planning on getting this resolved.  When I do this, I'm making it where I can either steer the water to my garden, or catch the water for my garden.  Either way, my garden should benefit.

Speaking of garden.  Dec 23rd is the date I have set aside(if I am going to have a garden) to plant my seedlings to grow indoors.  I've always started them later, like February, but my tomato plants end up setting fruit when it's getting too hot outside.  I'm hopeful I can get a longer harvest time if my plants are bigger when I set them out.  I'm also going to start my cold weather things like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, snow peas, and lettuce.  These things, once mature, can take low temps as far down as 21 degrees, so if I start them indoors I can get a sooner and longer harvest.  Again, when my cabbage family plants are setting fruit, it's getting too hot for them.

Other items on my to do list include having the few cracks in the foundation of the house patched (don't worry this isn't a weight bearing foundation), rebuilding the crawl space door under the house, Pressure washing the house, and repairing or replacing the decks : front, side, and back.  This will be a work in progress and I make no promises as far as accomplishing all of these.  I'm gonna look into it and see what I can do and what we can afford.  Those are my plans however.

When the time comes, the garden will take priority, but there are a lot of things requiring our attention.  For right now though, the gutters are top of the list.  Everything else falls under that by necessity.  No other repair will be worth it if the ground continues to erode.

With two week to go til Christmas and with Etsy requiring a lot of my time, I may not be back on here until the new year.  If I can I will.  So just in case I don't see you, I will wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS!  HAPPY HANUKKAH!  HAPPY KWANZA!  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

I didn't forget! Hobby Horse tutorial

I didn't forget!  It took me a bit with the Thanksgiving holiday and my Etsy store taking my attention.  I am happy to report I have this finished.  It won't take as long as it took for me to post this.  I would say you can finish this in a few hours as long as you have everything.  I had to buy a dowel which cost me about $2. So here ya go:

First you want to choose your fabric.  I used some scrap stretch denim I had on hand.  Denim, Canvas, twill, etc; any sturdy fabric will do well.   I put right sides together (that's the part that would be on the outside, the nice looking side).   I drew out what could be termed as a horses head free handed on my fabric with some chalk.  You can use anything to draw this.  No one will see that anyway.  Make it big enough where you will have a dece3nt sized head.  Mine was about 12 inches from crown of head to snout.  Once you draw it out, cut it out.  

Sew your pieces together just along the top of the snout from about the bridge of his nose to where his eyes would be.  Use a 5/8 inch seam allowance.

Lay your horses head flat with the right side looking up at you.  See below.  Press it flat.  Pin ribbon,  bias tape, or anything else you are planning on using for a bridle all the way across.  Sew in place close to the edge of each side of the "Bridle"

Now you will do the same for the cross pieces of the "Bridle" to finish it up.  Place these at about the half way point between top and bottom of the horses head.  Again, sew along close to the edge on both sides of the "Bridle"

See below and you can see what I mean by close to the edges of each side.

Turn up the hem on the neck about 3/4 inch on each piece.  I zig zag stitched the fabric before I turned it up to make sure it doesn't fray.

 Now pin every thing back together lining up the "Bridle" as much as you can.  See Below.  Se up the rest of the horses head using a 5/8 inch seam allowance.  Leave the neck open.

Trim your seam to about 1/4 of an inch all around the head.  I had the nose a little too pointed so I trimmed it to make it a little more square.  See below.

Pinch the seam together and clip a little "v" into the seam on all the areas that curve.  It will be a row of "v's".  Don't cross the stitching line.  That would be bad.  Makes a hole in your horse.

Turn right side out and press.  Lookie below!  It's taking shape!

I have a good sized bag of fabric scraps that I used to stuff this little guy.  You can use stuffing as well if you have it,  but the idea for me was to make this without having to buy anything if I can help it.  Kinda shape as you stuff to make it look less lumpy and more horsey.  Make sure you get the stuffing down into the nose area and any other tight fitting places.  You will stop stuffing when it is full to the opening of the head.  Leave the neck free of stuffing.

Now for the hair!  Ahem...mane.  I have a large yarn needle and can add hair by pulling it through the fabric and tying it off.  If you don't have the ability to do this, you can sew the hair onto the head with a needle and thread or glue it on.  Use fabric glue  if you do.  To do it the way I do, first you thread about a 9 inch piece of yarn onto your large needle.  Poke it into the horse head pushing the needle and yarn all the way through.  Leave yarn on either side of the "poke".  Take both ends of yarn and tie it into a knot.  Try to keep your "stitches" in rows moving from the center top of the head down on either side.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just needs to look like a head of yarn hair.

Once you have all your "Hair" in, he needs a hair cut.  Trim the yarn pieces evenish.

I happen to have googly eyes left from a former craft, but you can use two buttons or even sew in eyes with embroidery thread or felt.  You can also paint eyes on with fabric paint.  I sanded the back of the googly eyes and, using a hot glue gun, glued the eyes onto the horse.  I put glue on the horse and on the eye.  Then smooshed them together.

To finish up I took a 1 inch diameter dowel and pushed it as far into the horses head as possible.  Moving stuffing to one side as I pushed.  I put the top of his head down on a table and pushed the dowel in.  Then, using a hot glue gun, I ran a strip of hot glue on the inside neck and on the dowel.  I squeezed the fabric around the strip of glue.  Then on the outside, I took a staple gun that uses JT 21 staples and stapled the outside of the horses neck to the dowel, fitting the fabric around the dowel as I went.  I covered the staples by tying a strip of red bias tape tightly around the neck wrapping twice before I tied it off.  If you don't have staples, you could use small screws.  The hot glue is for holding the horses head while you fasten it with the more secure fasteners (staples or screws).  It won't last long other wise.

Here he is!  looks kinda "Bieberish" I guess".  Oh!  I forgot!  I used a button for his nose and a strip of yarn hot glues to his head for his mouth.  Also, You can opt to paint or stain the dowel.  I choose to spray it with clear acrylic.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

No money for Christmas, Now What?

I have always love Christmas.  I put my tree up on Thanksgiving night after all the turkey eating festivities and to the wonderful tunes of traditional Christmas music.  Love, love, love Christmas.  Always have, always will I expect.  My parents always made it such an event and I have always tried to do the same.  Things were harder when the kids were little.  Money was tighter then, but we still wanted the kids to have a good Christmas.  Reminiscing about those times made me think about other young parents or other families going through a tight holiday or even an impossible holiday.  What do you do?  How do you celebrate this holiday without money?

First and foremost, just like the Who's down in Whoville, we know that Christmas is not about the gifts unless you count THE GIFT given.  It's easy to wax philosophical when you don't have kids.  Kids would argue with the Who's down in Whoville.  Christmas is about gifts,and Santa.  You have to be honest with them about what you guys are facing.  As honest as their age will allow.  I grew up with Santa coming down the chimney to bring us gifts.  I know there are some out there who don't do Santa.  If Santa doesn't make a yearly stop at your house, telling the kids money is tight will be easier.  We always knew there may be times when money would be tight and we never wanted Santa to "not come".  We did do Santa at our house.  However, because we never wanted Santa to be affected by a financial down turn, Santa brought 1 gift and the stocking.Everything else was ours. That way if they only got 1 gift it was from Santa and they would understand Mom and Dad were low on money.  Not telling kids can actually make them worry more.  Kids are very perceptive and they'll know something is up.  Letting them in on this can actually help them because it will enable them to "Help"make the Holiday special.

So once you have the whole "telling the kids" thing out of the way; my first step is easy and fun.

1)  Decorate for Christmas-  You don't need to buy anything new.  Use what you already have on hand, but make it festive.  Play Christmas music and pull out all the stops. If you can't afford lights, no problem.  Decorations are just as pretty without.  Plus, no fire hazard or cords to worry about.  String popcorn,  Make construction paper garland,  Bring in some evergreen from outside.  Go on a pine cone hunt for cones to place in a basket.  Don't have a Christmas Tree?  Make a Christmas table to place what gifts there are.  You can put your evergreen from outside here and put out a few ornaments.  You can use other ornaments around the house if there isn't a tree.You can hang out the stockings over the table in a triangle shape on the wall.  Place your festive containers of baked goods there as well; like a bowl of individually wrapped popcorn balls tied with a ribbon.  These are just some thoughts.  The idea is to create a festive atmosphere.  Pintrest has great ideas for Christmas crafts from things you may already have on hand.

2)  Found Money-  Okay, you've probably run the numbers and just thought, "there's just no way!".  There is, but you may need to think outside the box.  You may not be able to get what your normal budget is, but you might be able to get a little,  Think along these lines

a)  Do you or your spouse contribute to a 401k at work?  Maybe suspend the contributions for the next 2 months.  These are extremes I know, but we're thinking outside the box.  You'll be able to restart contributions after the Holidays.

b)  Would your family rather have internet and cable for the next two months or gifts on Christmas morning?  If the later, cancel for the next two months.  Many times your cable/ internet provider will be sending you deals to entice you back by the beginning of the year.  I understand it means no internet connection.  This is Black Belt frugality.

c)   There maybe family or friends that gift you with gift cards or money for Christmas.  If this happens, use the money for gifts under the tree.  The time for you to be able to spend on yourself (which is great) can come later.  Family doesn't need to know your situation if You aren't keen on sharing, but they can know that If  your family participates in a gift exchange, they will be homemade gifts.

d)  Do you have a skill or something you can make to sell that may raise a little money?  Can you watch kids for someone to run errands?  Help someone decorate their home for Christmas, bake Christmas cookies for someone too busy to do it their self?  Let people know your available.  Print you out some signs advertising you availability to help include rates too.  Just 8x10 printer paper, nothing extravagant.  You can hang it on community bulletin boards at post offices, grocery stores, schools (if they allow, ask first), your church, etc.

e)  If you haven't already changed your tax withholding now's the time.  It will be reflected on the next check that does come in.  Take those deductions!

f) Last on the list, and Dave Ramsey would have my hide, but some companies will let you skip a payment around the holiday only paying interest.  It is a last resort and not one I recommend lightly.  Really think this one through.  If you can avoid using this step, do so.

g)  If you haven't already, call around for better car insurance rates.  A lot of people will just keep the same insurance for years and years, never shopping around.  I was one of those people.  In one call I save $700 over a year!  Crazy!

What money you free up this way will be gold.  You want to use it very carefully.  What is the one "Wow" gift your kids would want?  What do you need to make this Christmas happen?  

3)  Christmas food with what's on hand-   So you probably can't stock up right now because of the financial hardship.  You can, however, work in a couple of extra basic items for Christmas.  The great thing is, if you already have flour, sugar, butter or margarine, you can make goodies for the holidays.  Add a bottle of corn syrup to your grocery shopping list and you can add making candies for stockings(see my recipe page for Butter Toffee Crunch).  Chips, cokes, cereal, boxed anything, and anything pre-made needs to go off your list.  Plan on making more casseroles or soups so you can free up the money you would use to buy a lot of meats.  Basics.  you are looking for basics. This will save you considerably on your grocery list and allow extra for purchasing things for holiday baking or allow you extra money to go toward a few small gifts or stocking stuffers.  You can make your own biscuits and cornbread for making stuffing.  Make your own cream soup for casseroles (see my recipe page for the cream soup mix recipe).

Every Christmas we have a Christmas breakfast as opposed to a Christmas dinner.  The menu usually consists of Cinnamon Rolls, Sausage balls, Sausage croissants, Gorilla Bread, coffee, Hot Chocolate, and OJ,  We end up munching on this pretty much all day. I make the cinnamon rolls, sausage (see my recipe page), sausage balls, Gorilla bread, and hot chocolate from scratch.   I use the dough from the cinnamon rolls to make the Gorilla bread as well.  The only extra thing I usually have to buy is the OJ, Crecent rolls, and cream cheese for the Gorilla bread.  All of which could be omitted in a tight situation.  Here are some other recipes for you to try that don't take a lot of effort or expense:

Dinner Rolls ( This is what I use for Cinnamon Rolls, Gorilla Bread, and Raisin Bread)

4- 4 1/2 cups flour
1 pkg of yeast (or 1 TBS)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, shortening or margarine
1 ts salt
2 eggs

In a small saucepan, add your milk, butter, sugar, and salt.  Heat milk mixture just until the butter is just about melted.  While that heats up, put 2 cups flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl and mix together.   Once milk is hot (120 degrees) dump into the flour mixture and add the two eggs.  Mix all together for about 100 strokes.  Stir in as much remaining flour as you can with a spoon.  Dump out onto a floured counter.  Knead dough 10-12 minutes adding just enough flour to keep dough from being sticky as you work.  Once dough starts to tear, it's time to stop kneading (or if the timer goes off).  Place dough in a greased bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover, Let rise no more than 30 minutes.  Punch down, shape into desired rolls.  Place in the pan you will use.  Cover and let rise until double.
Bake 350 degrees for 15-20 min or until golden on top.  Or you can just put the whole thing in the bread machine; liquids first, sugar, salt, flour, yeast being last.  Put on dough setting and go read a book.  Then shape how you want weather it's dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, or Gorilla bread

Don't have yeast?  Try this for cinnamon rolls

3 cups self rising flour
1/3cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup milk

In a mixing bowl place your flour and sugar (mix well)and cut in the butter until it make a crumbly mix.  Add milk and fold in until well mixed.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead exactly 8 times (  that's basically just to shape it well into a ball).  Roll out thin(about 1/2 inch) and rectangular.  Spread with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar.  Starting with the long side, roll up the dough and cut into "cinnamon rolls".  Place in a baking pan and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once out, you can milk 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 Tbs milk and 1/2 tsp vanill extract and pour over the top.

Just had an interesting idea in trying this for Gorilla bread too.  Hmmm.  Yea, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to eating healthy.  Hey!  It's the holidays!

Hot Cocoa 

1/3- 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 cups milk or 1 1/3 cups dry milk powder plus water to make 4 cups
1/2 ts vanilla
dash salt

Mix your sugar, cocoa powder,and dash salt in a pan.  Stir in the milk and continue stirring frequently while it warms to hot.  A whisk works best for this, but if you don't have one, no big deal.  Once hot, remove from heat and add the vanilla.  Serve hot.  If you have marshmallows, great.  A small peppermint stick would be good too.

Easy Fudge

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup water
1 box (16 oz) powdered sugar
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
dash salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts (if you have them)

In a small sauce pan heat together butter/margarine and water just to boiling, stirring to melt the butter/margarine.  Sift together (whisk together) dry ingredients.  Add the melted butter mixture.  Stir til well blended.  Stir in nuts if you have them.  Turn into a buttered 8x8x2 inch pan.  Chill several hours.  Cut into squares.

You can make popcorn balls, peanut brittle, the fudge, toffee, etc for very little outlay of funds and these can go in stockings.  If you have peppermint sticks, you can crush one or two (to taste) and stir in the fudge or sprinkle on top for a festive stocking stuffer.

4)  Make gifts   - This can be a difficult one if you don't really have a crafty side.  I'm not gonna leave you hanging I swear!  My next post will be a how to on making a hobby horse.  I'm actually making one for my grandson for Christmas this year along with a Superman or Super hero cape.  Neither of these will require a pattern.  Do you have some scrap wood; ends of 2x4 or 2x2's?  Cut these into different sizes and shapes.  Sand them smooth and voila, Blocks to play with.

Brandy over at "The Prudent Homemaker" has a great series she does every November called "A gift a day" series.  She has  lots of easy to make ideas for all ages.   Here is a link to her blog (which I read).

She also has a "Sewing tutorial" on her main website.

This lady provided Christmas for 5 kids during a time when income was non existent in her household.  There are a lot of money saving ideas.  Worth a look.

Pintrest is another great resource.

Here comes another recipe for Playdough!!!!

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup salt
4 tsp cream of tarter
2 cups water with food coloring adding in whatever color you want
2 T oil

Mix all ingredients together in a pan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it forms a hard ball.  I'll try to include more over the next few weeks.

Don't have fabric?  I buy sheets (King size flat sheets in solid cottons or flannel) for fabric at thrift stores.  If you can't afford that you can always sacrifice a sheet or two (done that before too).  I mean how many sets does one person need!  (smile).  I will have another post soon containing some ways to save on sewing in general.

Don't have a Sewing machine?  It is harder to do if that is the case, but not impossible.  In a day of google we can pull up how to's on hand stitching and sew your items by hand.

There's no time to sew!  My sister and I, many years ago, put up a sheet to block off an area of her house normally open to the rest of the family.  We named it "Santa's Workshop" and all our creations were hidden from the crowd.  We sewed in the evening.  She sewed at night after I had gone to my home.  To this day my niece says the sound of a sewing machine lulls her to sleep.  It is comforting to her because she would go to sleep to the sound of my sister sewing for her family.  Aren't good memories great?!

Speaking of Thrift stores!  They, as well as Yard Sales can be resources for Christmas gifts.  Books can be found there cheap that are in great condition.  Other items can be found that may need a little TLC to be like new again.  Great thing is in this age of Google there are a slew of "How To" videos or articles to help you take a thrift store find and revamp it to be like new.  Little secret.  I have never bought a brand new video game or DVD.  Nope.  I always purchased them from either Amazon or a thrift store.  In fact when my kids were young, and we didn't have a lot of money for gaming systems, we bought a used system for all three kids together.  It wasn't the latest and greatest, but the kids loved it.  I found a Playmobile Castle with all the characters at a yard sale for $5 for the whole thing!

I realize this may not be the coolest Christmas, at least on paper, but it can still be a great Christmas.  I hope some of these ideas can help.  I will try to add to them over the next few weeks.  The idea is to be able to still celebrate even in the midst of financial hardship.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Now's the time to re-stock

There are many times of the year when you can get certain grocery items at a good price.  For example, Holidays such as Labor day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day can yield good prices on meats, condiments, chips, etc.  This time of year, however, is what I call the mother load of good prices.  That is for the things I normally use.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to be on the lookout for staple items; flour, sugar, butter, oil, spices, chocolate, nuts (especially).  In addition turkeys and hams are cheaper.  Produce such as celery, onion,  white potatoes, and sweet potatoes are on sale.  Now is the time for me to stock up on things I normally use, but can't grow here.  So far this season, I've managed to get butter for $1.74 lb.  Sour Cream for .39 for 16 oz.  Del Monte canned peaches for .89 a can.  Del Monte diced tomatoes (love these) for .49 a can.  I know I grow tomatoes here, but my better boys didn't do so well this year.  My Roma tomatoes were for sauce, and I do have plenty of that.  Russet potatoes for .15 cents a lb.  Onions for .26 cents a lb, and last but not least, milk chocolate chips for 1.49 a bag.  I'm still waiting on some other things to hit the sale price before I stock up.

The great things is these things will store!

Store onions in a way where they don't touch each other and in a cool dry place.  They'll keep a good long while  If you're so inclined, you can go crazy and chop all of the onions to freeze or can.  I can be that crazy, and have been before, but not this time.  If you do want to pre chop them, I suggest you use a food processor.  Once  a batch is chopped, remove the lid and walk away to allow the gases the onions emit to dissipate.  This will cut down significantly on crying.  I usually package mine in 1 cup portions because that's what most recipes call for.

Store potatoes, both white and sweet, in a cool dry place.  Don't leave them in the bag even if the bag has holes for ventilation.  This allows more air to circulate around them and will also allow you to see and that might be bad when you dump out the bag.  Out of 30 lbs of potatoes bought yesterday, I found one that, while not bad, had a small spot on it that may get bad down the road.  I took it out and will use it first.

Celery can be chopped and frozen without having to do anything else to it.  I mean WASH it first, but then chop and freeze for use in soups and casseroles.

Butter can be frozen, but, without freezing, will last a good long while on a refrigerator shelf.

Sour cream as well as yogurt can be stored upside down in the fridge for a good long time, even past the sell by date.

Flour can be put in the freezer for a few days and then stored in an airtight container in a pantry.  You can also store flour with 1 bay leaf.

 Sugar can be stored with a piece of Terracotta to keep it from hardening.  I've never really had a problem with sugar hardening, and I store lots for a long time.

Buy an extra turkey (or two).  Go ahead and cook it, de-bone it, and store in freezer bags in the freezer.  You can use this anywhere chicken is called for in a recipe.  Slow cook the leftover turkey bones with some onion, carrots, celery, 1 tbs vinegar and salt to make broth you can store in the freezer or can for later use.  Buy an extra ham or two.  Cut it into chunks and store in freezer bags in the freezer.  Set the ham bone aside in its own freezer bag to use in your next batch of veggie or bean soup.

Can goods will definitely keep.  In addition to veggies this season, canned goods on sale will more than likely be; canned fruit, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, sweet potatoes, cream soups, and canned pie filling.  Stock up!

Nuts will keep as well, but can be stored in the freezer if needed.

You don't have to be stocking up for an end of the world scenario.  You can, however, be stocking up to

a) Make the most of these great prices
b) Have a good supply in your pantry in the event of an illness or a layoff
c) Have a supply on hand to be able to bless someone you know in need

So there you have it!  Make the most of the deals!  Make your list.  Check it twice! some for me!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Hey! I can take a hint!

So last week I revisited my Black belt frugality series and added a few extra things, i.e ideas and/ or encouragement.  I was amazed to see the interest in this one post.  My previous post about weight loss sat there all forlorn to the sound of crickets chirruping.  So I have taken the hint.  You guys care more about frugality in all it's many forms.  Weight loss...not so much.  That's cool.  I can live with that.  No hurt feelings (sniff, sniff).  Nah seriously, I want the posts I write to be relevant to you guys.  Otherwise I'm just sounding off.  Fun as that can be sometimes, it isn't what I'm shooting for.

But now I'm at a loss.  What do I write about?  My garden is to bed for the winter and I have released all my frugal tidbits.  What I need to do then is to write about new frugal things I've discovered.  That doesn't happen every week.  Hmmmmmm.

I KNOW!  E-Commerce!  No, I'm not talking about online shopping.  I'm talking about online selling.  I kid you not.  I have become a proponent of online selling of handmade goods.  There are many crafty selling websites out there; Pintrest, Etsy, even Amazon to name a few.  I would say choose the one that works for you.  I use Etsy.  I started my Etsy shop to sell doll clothes in March of last year.  I sold mainly cloth baby doll diapers at first, but as the holidays get closer my Etsy shop has started to regularly sell.  I used to think I would need to set up a booth at a local fair/festival to be able to sell my doll clothes.  With my online shop that hasn't been the case.  A small .20 fee lists each item for 4 months.  If that item sells, Etsy takes 3.5%.  I can print shipping labels through them and everything.  I've been keeping a little Quicken account for my "business" to keep track of income verses expenses.  I wanted to make sure this was working.  Though just starting out, I've managed to clear approximately $200 in profit give or take.  That's after all expenses: Etsy fees, Supplies, Etc.  I'm not having to rent a booth.  I don't have to lug everything from home to whatever festival I'm attending.  Instead I'm able to sell all over.  In fact I've sold quite a few items to people in Canada!

I write about this because, if you are staying home and crafty, this can give you a way to bring in a bit extra doing what you enjoy.  My funds either go into the general home fund, or they help support my composition doll habit.  While not exactly a full income right now, it helps some.  It helps a lot.  And it helps me stay home and do other things around the home to help save money.  It's a win, win.  So if you have a craft you like to make and sell.  I highly suggest trying an online selling site.  They recommend you start off with 10 items.  I started with 7 and worked my way up to 10.  Now I have 30...well, 29.  I just sold something today.  I have to get back to sewing.

Well what do you know.  I had something to share today.  Go figure.  Have a blessed week!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Black Belt frugality revisited.

Just over a year ago on Aug 31st 2015, I worked my last day at an away from home job.  My husband makes about $40.000 a year, give or take.  To walk away from my income and live on just what he makes was a huge step.  It required work from me.  There is a trade off one way or the other.  When I left my job, it wasn't to come home and watch soaps.  I don't have a hair dresser, get my nails done, or shop the latest trends.  My job was to offset my lost income, by saving money at home.  I say all of this to not brag about my money saving skills.  Those are still a work in progress.  I continue to learn each day (and a lot of that is through mistakes).  No, I write all of this to say IT CAN BE DONE!  IT DOES TAKE WORK!  It is possible to live on one income if you're willing to make the necessary sacrifices.  We chose to go to one income, but many people are forced into a single income.  Through a layoff or an illness.  Suddenly being dropped into this lifestyle can be intimidating.  I know there are many of you out there who either want to be a single income family or are facing being a single income family through no fault of your own.  In any case, I thought a re-do of my Black belt frugality series might be prudent.  Although the series dealt primarily with grocery shopping, I feel it's a good start.  The links are below.  Whether a voluntary or involuntary single income home , food is what they call a "Non-fixed expense" and that's where you make things work.  I won't address food in this post.  These links are all the info I have for that topic.  Instead I will focus on other expenses.  Let me say first I am not an expert, I'm just someone who is speaking from my own experience.

1) Other non-fixed expenses- can be utilities, gas, and clothing.  These are areas where the amount to be spent is based on your personal behavior or needs.  Adjust the behavior or needs, and your expenses change.

A) Utilities- Cable and phone is addressed below.  Other utilities are electricity/gas and water.  Everyone can grasp the standard ways of using  less of these items; turn off lights, water, etc when not needed.  I get that.  We're talking black belt though.  That means you are constantly looking for ways to use less.  Ways you haven't thought of before.

Vampire power-  Drives me nuts!  This is the unseen power loss.  Do you leave your phone,tablet, MP3 charger plugged into the wall without said electronic gadget attached?  What you don't realize is that charger is still drawing electricity....all day and sending it out into nothingness cause nothing is charging.  Your dollars are just floating away!  Charge your gadget then immediately unplug the charger from the wall.   Once your gadget is charged it no longer needs to be on the charger.  It will not plug the hole.  Unplug!  In fact unplug anything not currently being used.  They all draw power.  The coffee maker, lamps, tv's etc.  Yes it is inconvenient to have to re-plug something, but worth it.

Vampire water-  This is my own term.  This is the water that has to run down the drain for hot water to get to you.  It's harder for me to do this in my shower because lugging a 5 gallon bucket through my house to reuse the water is iffy.  I do it sometimes, but will admit I'm not consistent with it. But in my kitchen, I keep a pitcher nearby to catch the water til it runs hot.  I use this for the dogs water, coffee, whatever.  It's clean water and a clean pitcher so I can do what I want with it.  Water from my shower goes into the wash or is used to water my garden if need be.

The idea is to pay attention to the utility use around you and be constantly looking for ways to use it all wisely.  Ways to use less or make what is used do double duty.  When I use my canners, the water isn't dumped out.  The water bath canner water is used in my washer and the pressure canner is used to water plants.  The water from my washer is used to water my garden in a drought situation.  Make your utilities work harder for what you pay them.  I use my dryer in the winter to help heat the house!  Clothesline in the summer because the dryer does heat the house!

B) Gas-  Gas use goes down when one spouse is home, but there are still things you can do to make it even more so.  Combine trips so you're traveling less often.  Watch for the lowest gas prices and fill up then (as long as your budgeted gas money allows it).  If you can fill up in the morning when temps are cooler (less evaporation) and fill up slower(less air in the line).  Keep your car tuned up and your tires at the right pressure.

C) Clothing- Thrift store, yard sales, clearance sales, etc are awesome and a good line of defense.  Then comes some serious clothing shopping.  Learn a new skill!  Internet use does help when it comes to learning a new skill.  In this case sewing.  Now, in this day and age, fabric is almost as much as an outfit.  You have to be careful with how you sew.  I get the vast majority of my fabric from thrift stores.  Sometimes it's fabric by the yard, but may times it's king size sheets!  I look for colors I like in either cotton or flannel sheets.  King size sheets give me the most yardage for my money.  Can't sew an item from beginning to end? Then use these new skills to re-purpose something.  Make a thrift store shirt, jeans, or sweater small enough to fit you if they're too large by making a tuck or making a seam smaller.  Do you like an article of clothing all but....?  Well remove the offensive part.  You can add trim to a sweater that has a small stain near a button.  Revamp your thrift store purchases.  In many cases this can allow you to get the item cheaper.  Want to make something but patterns are too expensive?  You can sometimes find patters on sale during the holidays for .99 each, but in a pinch, you can take a shirt you like and use it (without cutting it) as a pattern.  Just lay it out seam to seam and cut out a matching piece from your fabric.  Add an extra 5/8th inch on either side, top and bottom of each piece to allow for you to sew it up.  A 5/8th inch seam allowance is used in all sewing patterns.  Don't have s sewing machine?  A needle and thread works well too.  Just be patient and take your time as you learn to sew by hand.

2) Semi non fixed expenses like car insurance, homeowners insurance, and even taxes (yes I said taxes), can be altered in some cases when your income changes or if you don't mind a little time on the phone.

A) Auto/Home Insurance- When it comes to car insurance and homeowners insurance, taking the time to make a phone call or two to find the best rate for you can greatly lower what you owe to cover your house or car.  I made a call one day and saved almost $700 for our car insurance, without changing my coverage!

 Re-evaluate your insurance needs.  A paid off clunker may be a good choice for liability insurance. If your cars value is close to the deductible on your insurance, it's worth putting it in liability only status.

You can also change your deductible for both (as long as you meet state requirements).  A higher deductible can mean a lower premium.

Discounts, use them!  Many insurance companies will give you a discount if the bill is paid in full for the 6 mths and/or for allowing them to bill you online.  If you can't do it this 6 mths; take your premium.  Divide it by 6 (mths) and set aside that amount each pay period in order to have the premium the next go around.  That's exactly what we do.  When insurance is due again, I move over the funds from savings to checking and it comes out of there.  It's the same as making a payment, only we pay less overall and, instead of paying interest to them, we earn interest from our savings.
When you're shopping around for auto or homeowners insurance, consider the discount you get when you combine both policies.

Gimmicks- Don't fall for the "Safe driving bonus checks", "accident forgiveness", or model year newer gimmicks.  You pay a higher premium for these and either get reimbursed the extra when you don't have a wreck or if you do have a wreck you have already paid for the extra year.

B) Taxes- Okay so all of you have probably not read a word I've written after first writing "taxes".  So here goes.  There are very few pluses when it comes to taxes, but there are some.  Changes in your income, change your taxes.  On the negative side, more income= more taxes.  On the positive side, less income can mean less taxes.  Not just a decrease in your overall tax bill, but a decrease in how much is withheld from the pay check you're receiving.  In order for this wonderful withholding to happen, You have to make a change in your withholding status.

 Fill out a new W2!  One spouse is now home, claim them as a dependent.  Claim all of your dependents.  Many will claim "single with no dependents" in order to have more taken out of each paycheck to get a Biiiiig tax refund In April(which they then blow).  This is a mistake even when you have two incomes.  By having a large withdrawal from your paycheck, you are allowing the US government to use YOUR money INTEREST FREE for the year, while you go without and probably end up making payments (with interest) because you can't afford something you need (or want).  It's better to arrange things where you owe a little to Uncle Sam or just not get a refund.  You would be amazed at how much more money you will have coming in each paycheck.  INCOME BOOST!  If you have to have money taken out of your check as a "forced savings account".  Just have the money automatically withdrawn to a savings account!  At least you can access that anytime of year when necessary and it earns interest for you!

3)Want or Need?  This is a choice each family makes; Cable/Satellite, Cellphone, a second car, and internet.  Your level of wiggle room in your single income budget will determine what choices you have.

A) Cable/ Satellite-  Evaluate what you can afford, and purchase the lowest package necessary.  Cable is a want.  Premium channels are a luxury.   In extreme situations, Cable can be cancelled entirely.  In a time of Hulu and Netflix, cable is becoming even more optional.   We have cable for football, but our cable is free with the internet we have to have.  It wouldn't save us anything to cancel just the cable, but in an emergency, the internet/cable is gone without a doubt.  It is a want.

B) Cellphone-  We've never had a cell phone with the exception of a pre-paid tracfone.  We've never needed a cell phone (although Diva would say otherwise). We use the tracfone very rarely.  We use Vonage, and our home phone is $12.75 a month.  Draw back to Vonage is that it is internet based.  No internet, no phone.  In all honesty, if we had to cancel our internet and vonage, the tracfone would still suit our needs.  I can live without a phone. (I know.  I heard the audible gasp from people).

C) Second Car- With one spouse now home, rethinking a second car may be an option.  If the car in question has a payment attached, then it also has full coverage insurance.  CHA CHING!  Sell the car!  You have just loosened your budget by taking that payment out.  In addition you can take that premium amount off your insurance.  Plus no tags!  If the car is paid for, better still.  You get all the joys of the car off your insurance, no tags, and a chunk of money added to your savings account for emergencies.  A second car is a want pure and simple.   If you want it, and your budget allows it, then great.  The choice is yours.  These are just ideas.

D) Internet-  Contrary to popular belief, internet, while fun and convenient, is not a "need".  The public library has computers and internet available for library members (and the membership is free ((for you anyway)).  Many businesses have wi fi.  Yes you have to travel somewhere, but if you combined a trip to the library with other errands then there's no additional travel expense.  Eh!  It gets you out of the house and can be an event for the kids.  I'm not saying it's ideal, but in a dire financial situation it beats being broke.

These are just a start.  Be aware of things you can change as you go about your day.  Re-think daily uses.  Yes, some of these things are easier to do when you have one spouse at home, but a lot of these can be done with both spouses working.  How awesome would it be to have more money working for you regardless of being a one or two income home.  Finally,  I will say this.  We were able to choose for me to stay home because we got out of debt.  Getting out of debt is the great frugal thing you can accomplish aside from avoiding debt in the first place.  I wish we knew then what we know now.  I could have been home a looooong time ago.

Saturday, October 15, 2016


I just wanted to take this moment to announce I HAVE COVERED THE GARDEN WITH BLACK PLASTIC!    Not shouting, just excited.  I have finally done the deed.  In addition I pruned back my blueberry bushes, namely the tree saplings growing up around them.  

On a side note, Just as there are no atheist in fox holes, I don't see how anyone can be a gardener and not believe in God.   Case in point; I have noticed that weeds tend to look similar to the plants they compete with.  Now I'm sure some would say it's because of some nutrient or other condition for which they both share a need.  I'm sure that is the scientific explanation.  However, I believe science just helps us see God's hand in things.  After Adam and Eve screwed up, one of the things God told them in Genesis 3 17-19 " Cursed is the ground because of you.  Through painful toil will you eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field."  I see this every season.  Never fails.  And it never fails that, for the most part, the weeds look like my wanted plants.  I say all of this to justify tree saplings growing in my blueberry bushes.  I didn't notice them until the sapling was taller than my blueberry bushes.  The leaves, while similar to my blueberry leaves, were larger, but since the plant grew up through the center of my blueberry bush, it wasn't apparent until it got taller than the blueberry bush.  I wouldn't want you to think I was negligent in my gardening duties.  

So anyway, I just wanted to put everyone's mind at rest about  the black plastic saga.  Thanks for your support.  Lol

Friday, October 14, 2016

Well I need to get to gettin!

It's a wee bit earlier here on the frugal maven homestead.  We rise early during the week for DH to get ready for work.  While he was on the treadmill (I know.  He's weird that way) I was planning my day.  It dawned on me just how much I still need to accomplish before it gets too cold outside.  The list is longer than I originally thought.  I have been distracted by the lure of cute baby doll clothes.  Here are the tasks still left for me to do:

1.  Cut down some large weed trees.  Yes I said trees.  There are many, but two of them are growing around my blueberry bushes.  These are actual tree saplings and so their roots are strong.  Need those out of there.  ASAP!
2.  Drag the black plastic out and cover my garden beds.  I know I've mentioned this before.  I always seem to put it off.  Bad Maven!  Bad Maven!  But I will get it done
3.  Pull up the rest of my tomato plants.  We are in a drought right now so anything I still have growing isn't going to produce much between now and the first frost.  Might as well go ahead and get the rest of the beds cleaned out and turned under (and covered by black plastic...Ahem)
4.  Weed the strawberry bed and get it ready to cover with pine straw before the first frost.  I'll do the same with my herb bed, but it is already cleaned out.  I have three volunteer parsley plants I am hopeful will over winter well.
5.  Start another compost pile.  I haven't focused only on doll clothes.  The other day I cleaned out from under our back deck and got everything organized.  It looks awesome if I do say so myself.  But while doing that I designated a 5 gallon bucket for compost scraps.  I can have it by the back door so that I can fill it without spending much time outside during the colder months.  So I am starting another compost pile and then once it gets pretty good size, I'll turn it and place the other pile on top to be used first next spring.  That's the plan anyway.
6.  Spread lime over the garden beds.  Be advised these "to do's" aren't in order.  I will cast Lime before covering with black plastic.
7. Clean out and organize the shed,putting the kerosene heater towards the front for easy accessibility.  We don't get snow very often.  We get ice most of the time and as such lose power.  I would rather not have to slip slide to the shed only to have to dig out the heater.  kwim?  Better to have it close to the door.

On the "not gardening, but still to do " list is a) replace 7 deck planks on the back deck and b) replace the interior part of two storm windows.

I realize reading my "to do" list is like watching paint dry, but this blog post is also doubling as my actual list.  Sooooo yea.  Sorry bout that.  Hey!  You're helping me out!  Thanks!  I do hope you can glean something from my to do's.  So now that I've finished my breakfast and coffee, I will be heading out to get started.  What do you think the odds are that I'll get this done today?  Mmmm yea I didn't think so either.

Friday, October 7, 2016

UGH! Apparently counting calories and colds don't mix.and other ramblings

And she was just trucking along when she started to feel a  Yep!  That's how my week started.  I plugged along though, working out in the yard and doing some major house cleaning stuff.  As the week went along the feeling became more pronounce and as of Wed I had the cough and a scratchy throat.  I still functioned pretty well.  I don't feel bad per sea.  Just not as energetic and then this cough and throat is kind of a bore.  Problem is, when I feel like this I always, always, always, want to eat.  Especially carbs.  The combination of wanting to eat and not wanting to move can be detrimental over time.  I am just hoping to hold my ground, but I'm not gonna sweat it.  I should be on the up side in a few days and can get back on track.  Until then I will do the best I can to keep track of what I'm eating.  Making no promises as to how pretty the tally will be for now.  Stand by.

I have been productive this week, even with feeling puny.  I've completed a lot of sewing projects for my Etsy page.  I was happy to see an outfit I made sell a couple of days ago.  I've sold a lot of baby doll diapers and slips, but not many outfits.  I've since sold my first outfit.  I just sold this little number called "Little Boy's Sunday Best".

I had been feeling a little discouraged thinking I wasn't doing so hot on my Etsy shop.  I keep a running tally type account with my Quicken and it had I was in the black a about $100.  That's after expenses like Etsy fee's. shipping, supplies, etc.  At least I was in the black, but I felt like it was slow going.  On a lark I looked back over the last 30 days on my shop and found I had made $146 in the last 30 days.  Not too bad for 30 days, considering the fact that I'm just starting out.  I'm hopeful things pick up for the holidays.  On a frugal side note, I am always looking for baby fabric with which to make doll clothes.  While waiting for my son to get out of class, I strolled through our local Good Will store.  I lucked up and found a pair of white eyelet pillow shams for $2 and then 2+ yards of actual baby knit fabric for about $2.  While watching a show with Dh I ripped (by that I mean I used a seam ripper) apart one of the shams and got 5 yards of eyelet lace and then 2 decent panels of eyelet fabric.  I already have plans for the eyelet fabric.  I have a doll I'm working on.  By that I mean I am learning to restore her.  I plan to use the fabric to make her outfit.  Once I have it finished, I will post it along with the finished doll.

To help streamline my massive sewing endeavors, I moved my sewing machine table and stuff into the Mancave/Gym.  I have my little corner, but it doesn't affect the over all manliness of the room (ahem).  One day I'll have a sewing room (hope), but until then this is much easier.  Mainly due to the power strip that hold all the power for my serger, sewing machine, iron, and light.  With one switch I can turn everything on.  Now, instead of pulling out the ironing board every time I wanted to sew, I have a folded towel in place with which to press seams or hems etc.  When I'm working on large clothes for myself or Dh, I will need to pull out the ironing board, but for doll clothes I'm good.

Do you feel like I talk about dolls a lot?  I know.  I'm sorry.  Just a big kid I guess.   On a different note,  We did finally get a dryer.  Still using the uh solar dryer, much to our youngest dismay.  Difference is we can now toss the semi-dry clothes into the dryer for a couple of minutes to fluff so they are softer.  Once cold weather comes, we will use the dryer exclusively because it helps warm the house.  Until then we pioneer away.

So now that I've finished my lunch (I counted it and we are on track!), I'm off to go make some bread cause we are out and I do mean out!  Then off to more sewing.

Loving it!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Major overhaul before winter

So....sore...  I haven't worked like that in a long time.  Today we changed out the sand in the runs and coops, and moved the little coop in place so that both coops are at either end of the big wooden run.  As we moved the old sand, we would lug the full buckets of spent sand into the raised beds to be turned in later (probably tomorrow).  After removing the old sand it was time to shovel the new sand out of the truck and in to the new bed area.  We just finished up about an hour ago.  I now have had a shower and rested for a bit and can say I am really sore!  Every muscle in my back and shoulders hurts as well as my hands.  This is back breaking work, but very satisfying now that it's done.

After the sand was in place, we moved the little coop to attach to the big run.  We put the divider back up inside the run, giving one half to Garris and his ladies and the other half to the "babies".  It got rather comical while Dh was in the run putting the divider up.  The "babies" were in the run while he was working.  The white one kept pulling on his t shirt.  She wasn't hurting him.  He seemed to be more of a curiosity.  He picked her up and started petting her crooning "I'm gonna lover her and feed her and call her George!".  Then he let go of her and she just sat there looking around and hanging out in his lap.  Meanwhile the two black hens came up and started pulling on his t shirt.  It was funny...Guess you just have to be there.

So now we have everybody cleaned out and spruced up. Ready for winter time.  We will repeat this fun in about 6 months.  Everyone is watered and fed and eggs are collected for the day.  Good.  I'm ready to call it a day.  The rest of my day I think I will sew, but not doll clothes.  I need some sweat pants for winter time.  Right now I have shorts or jeans, but nothing to wear just around.  DH wants some sweat pants too.  I think I have some fabric that will work and so I plan to do that tonight while he's at a show with our oldest son.  Well I will sew and go pick up our youngest after he gets off work.

On a cute side note, I thought I would post a somewhat appropriate pic for your viewing pleasure.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Well I guess I'm a walkin contridiction

So it would seem I guess.  Since our government in it's infinite wisdom (not) can't seem to catch up with all of the studies regarding the benefits of full fat dairy, our medical providers continue to recommend the low fat version.  Ya know cause the government doesn't do anything wrong.  In fact, I believe a lot of the info out there is wrong.  Just plain wrong.  Are you wondering what has sent me on this ti raid today?  Scientific proof that I'm onto something.  Something happened today that brought about one more trip by me down the weight loss blogging lane.

Today was my yearly appointment with my endocrinologist.  She has been unaware of my weight loss, and so I was excited to get to this appointment.  Seriously could not wait to get to the weigh in and see her.  The wait was worth it.  She was thrilled.  Not only weight, but A1C levels are way down and now there is "No sign of pre-diabetes in you"(her words).  My pulse, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc were all down and in a normal range.  All of this magic happened not because I ate more oats, took a medication, followed some weird diet, etc.  In fact I told her I'd been concerned about my cholesterol because I'd been having eggs just about every day.  BTW, cholesterol went from 188 to 169.  Anyhoo, it happened because I counted calories, controlled portions, and was active.  Now I know that sounds a lot like dieting, but for one thing.  I counted calories and controlled portions with REAL food; sure nuff honest to goodness full fat, or sweetened varieties, leans meats, fruits and veggies.  And bread, I do have bread some.

I've come here to reiterate that 1200 calories of real food IS SO different than 1200 calories of fat free sugar free food.  I know with the diet foods you feel like you can eat more.  Visually it looks like more food.  Problem is your body knows the difference.  When I ate that way, I never could stay on track.  By evening I was eating everything in sight.  I may last a few days, but nothing longer than that.  Eating real food has allowed me to be in control.  All of these years of fighting to stay on track and beating myself up when I failed, are gone.  It wasn't my lack of will power.  It was my body fighting to function correctly.  There are a lot of things in my life for which I can accept blame.  This isn't one of them.

By the way.  My activity is not a structured workout routine.  In fact I'll balk at that.  My activity is living my life.  I am active in housecleaning, lawn maintenance, gardening, etc.  What needs doing normally is my activity.  Now if I was still at a sedentary job I may still have to have a structured workout routine.  Not sure I'm mentally there to make myself exercise.  As a result, not sure I would have been this successful if I still sat at a desk.  Never thought I would hear myself say this, but if I ever went back to work (outside the home), I would have to have an active job.

We can argue the benefits or necessity of a structured workout verses an active lifestyle, but the one thing I can't accept is the need for diets and/or diet foods.   It's like I was telling a friend the other day.  It's like dieting is our drug of choice.  The diet industry is the pusher.  They give you the first week free or some other discount to get started.  You're successful for a time.  Some more than others.  Then it isn't sustainable and it's your fault?  These plans are set up to either keep you on them indefinitely or have you coming back repeatedly.  Either way, they get your money.  You are a source of income.  No more, no less.

I feel like Ponce De Leon, with the fountain of youth, except I've found what I sought.  I have the answer!  I just want to tell everyone!  You don't have to buy my book.  You don't have to buy special foods.  You don't even have to buy special ingredients.  There is no need for fitness equipment.  Funny.  God saw fit to give us everything we need for our bodies to be able to function at full capacity.  Why do we feel the need to change anything?  He gave us food to eat (all food groups cause He's thorough like that).  He gave us muscles to move, and He gave us his word.  Proverbs 23: vs 1-3 says "When you sit and dine with a ruler, note well what is put before you.  Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.  Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive".  Seems a bit of an extreme, but the message is clear.  Control yourself.  Proverbs 25:16 " Have you found honey?  Eat only what you need that you not have it in excess and vomit it.". So, yea, a little sweet is fine, but don't make yourself sick.  Notice it doesn't say instead eat some artificial synthetic (was planning on being paint thinner) sweetener to save calories.  Just sayin.

I'm tired of people having to put their life on hold to watch their weight.  I can't do this or that because I can't expose myself to "this or that".  Family events are mind fields and not something to be enjoyed.  I'm tired of not wanting to be in a picture because it's a reminder of my size.  I'm tired of worrying about the holidays coming around because it means rich high calorie food.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm not strong enough to control myself.  That there is something wrong with me.  Some defect no one else has.  My life is not on hold anymore.  I am in control.  I can go where I want, eat what I want.  Family events are now events only.  I will proudly stand in a picture even though I still have another 40 lbs to go.  Holidays are holidays.  I was not and am not defective.  What I was eating was.

Please, please, please.  Hear what I'm saying.  Try it.  To save calories, cut out what is "eh" and keep what is a "have to have" (veggies and fruits are have to have you know).  Mine was bread, pasta or rice.  I keep what is the most enjoyable to me and save the bread/pasta/rice for last.  If I have the calories I may add a little, but it comes after coffee with cream and sugar and an evening smore.  Priorities my dear Watson.

I made a pumpkin pie this morning cause it's 57 degrees which here is cool for the beginning of fall.  I wanted it for breakfast, but it wasn't ready in time.  I prefer it chilled anyway so it will be on the docket for tomorrow.  It is true pumpkin pie minus one thing; a crust.  Now that it's out of the oven, I'm on my way outside to finish up some work in the garden.  Tonight is a pizza night.  I'll be at my moms, but the guys want pizza.  When I come in I'll make the crust and get every thing together for them to bake it.  See?  Activity is my workout.  This is how I do it.  Yours will be different, but for one thing.  No diet foods Please!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Off and Rolling

I know it's been quiet on here the past couple of weeks.  Bread has still been baked.  Laundry has still been hung.  I bought a months worth of groceries last week, and the garden has received some attention.  Not as much attention as it probably needs, but it has gotten some.

My blog and my garden have suffered from "sewing frenzy".  Sewing frenzy occurs when your proprietor has a deadline self imposed to get items into an online Etsy shop before the holidays.  As a result of said deadline, the sewing machine goes non stop.  Since no one has yet to invent a home self propelled sewing machine; the garden and the blog have suffered.

Now on the up side, I have begun making SALES in my Etsy shop.  My little store is in the black about $100.  Doesn't sound like much I'll warrant you, but it's a start.  It sure beats being $100 in the red.  Here are some of my latest additions:

Add to this replacement sets of cloth diapers for dolls (all sizes) and two slip/panties sets for 18-20 inch dolls and you have a busy sewing machine.  Should anyone be interested in my store they can see it  at

Apparently you need to copy and paste this address.  Blogger doesn't seem to want to let me put the link in.

Today, however, was a gardening day!  Yay!  Back to sewing this afternoon though so don't get too excited.  Anyway, it is time to change out the sand the chickens use in their run for fresh sand.  It is also time to put the garden to bed for the winter.  So, combining both tasks we shoveled out the old sand into some of the raised beds and turned it in.  But, in the middle of this task, we changed our mind and, instead of putting in new sand, we made it so our chickens can free range.  At least the older ones.  DH put a door on the coop we can use to shut them in at night.  The baby hens got the big run and the older chickens are out and about.  We have another run ready should we need to get them back in. We replaced the sand that was in the old run with dirt since it is no longer necessary for them to have a sand bed.  They seem happy with the change.  The babies looove the new run they have.  All got an up grade.  I was able to complete two beds and so will cover them with plastic probably tomorrow.

So I can safely say I have done something besides sew.  In fact I have now blogged And gardened! Now I need to go organize/move my sewing area to make it more user friendly.  One day I will have a sewing room, but since I am not in a huge hurry to have an empty nest, I will make due with what I have.  You guys have a great day!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Okay that's done!

So I promised to post pics when I had the runner finished.  I just finished it so here are the runner and pillows.  The Brocade and trim was fabric purchased at a thrift store for about $1.  The trim was fromm fabric left over from recovering two of my dining room chairs.

Here is the pic of the chairs from before so you get a better idea of the trim.

My Adventurous Week

It has been an interesting week filled with wonderful new accomplishments.

For years now I've been interested in Composition dolls.  These dolls were created in the early 20th century up til the advent of vinyl dolls in the 50's.  They were originally created to be more resilient than bisque.  They are less likely to break, but composition is pressed sawdust molded in the shape of a doll and painted; many times hand painted. They have to have a regulated temperature and humidity environment or the wood expands and the paint can crack.  Water is not a composition dolls friend.  In the 1940's composition dolls started to have soft bodies, but composition head, arms, and legs.  Up until the 40's the dolls were all composition.  I like all composition dolls because, to me, it's an art form that has passed, and their faces are so precious.  While I do like these dolls, my interest lies in rescuing them.  Taking a damaged doll and attempting to bring it back to a new life.  I think of Toy Story a lot when dealing with dolls.  No I don't think they are alive, but you never know so I am really careful about how I treat my toys.  We all know what happened to Sid.  I first learned to clean, re-string, and re paint faces.  A couple of weeks ago at an antique store, I found a doll in need of more major repairs than I ever attempted.  I bought her for $12 and have been working on her.  What stated off as making a new soft body, cleaning, and maybe a touch up of paint, has turned into s full out learning session in repainting the whole doll cracked legs and all.  Once done she will have had a new body created, re-painted with an air brush, face re-painted, and all arms and legs attached.  I also intend to make her a new outfit just for her and then she will be put up for "adoption".  Here is her before pic

Here is the body in progress

Here she is again after cleaning and with her new body.  She is missing a left leg and so I am in the market for one.  Until then she will be handicapped.

You can't see it in the pictures, but the paint has peeled off of her head on the top where the two halves of the mold were put together.  This is common.  I have removed the flaked off paint and am waiting on the putty to arrive to patch and paint the area again.  Once that happens her restoration should move much faster.

In addition to playing with dolls I've had an over stuffed chair that has been the bane of my existence.  While definitely the most comfortable chair in the house, it is or was the ugliest.  The upholstery had torn and was stained and the pinkish color was blotchy.  I should have had the fore sight to take a before picture, but I was so eager to get started I forgot until it was too late.  But I can show the after.  Here tis

I have since finished two throw pillows for the living room and am working on a runner for my dining room table.  I will post pics of them later.  The chair is now "Mama's chair".  As it should be.  The great part of this is the fabric came from a thrift store.  I got all of the fabric for this chair for $8.  All of it.  Aside from that the only other cost was some upholstery staples and my time.  It was easy peasy (uh remind me I need to replace my sz 14 sewing needles). The contrasting fabric you see on this was from an old king size bed skirt.  I had donated the comforter and shams to a thrift store not realizing the bed skirt was left out.  I ran out of the Blue denim and needed something to help.  I found this during my fabric search.  You can't tell it by the picture, but the fabric is brown with the same color blue in design.  The pillows are brown and the sofa soon will be.  The table runner will also tie in even though it will be in the dining room.

It has been a fun week, but tiring.  Feeling pretty good though.  Moral of the story!  Make the most of what you have!  Can it be given new life instead of thrown away?  What are some of your rescues?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Not all calories are created equal.

Something I have realized in my weight loss journey.  Not all calories are created equal (hence the title of my post).  Now I know calories from veggies and fruits are better than calories from junk.  That isn't what I'm talking about.  Most people get that.  I have discovered 1200 calories of real food are different than 1200 calories of fat free sugar free diet foods.  Seriously, they are.  Now I'm not quoting some study or recommendation from the powers that be.  No, this is only the observations of a woman with vast dieting experience.

 Based on my weight and weight loss goals, I get 1200-1500 calories a day.  1500 if I move and 1200 if I'm a slug.  It's been that way every time I've dieted.  I've used Sparkpeople before you see.  I've used weight watchers, and other plans too.  Each time I felt the diet food was my crutch.  It helped me get to the end of the day; or so I thought.  Instead, by the end of the day, I would be ready to eat the paint off the walls.  It was only through sheer will power I would get through the day without falling off the wagon so to speak.  Most times I wouldn't be successful, and would eat, and eat, and eat; scolding myself as I put something else in my mouth. You see it was all my fault.  I was weak.  I felt like an addict and wondered if I was actually addicted to food.

Now I know that none of that was true.  I wasn't weak.  I wasn't addicted, and Diet foods were not a help to me.  You see the human body is an amazing thing.  It is like the coolest computer ever.  It knows what it needs to function.  Not just carbs or protein, etc.  It knows what vitamins and minerals, etc it needs for any given task.  It relies on us to give our bodies what they need. It also relies on us to give our bodies what they need in a manner they recognize.  When our bodies don't recognize a component we ingest, they STORE IT!  Fat is the extra anything that comes into your body.  It's the stuff you didn't need to begin with.  Fat isn't just extra calories.  It is the extra whatever not needed by the body.  The body saves it for later.  The flip side of that coin is the fact that your body WILL get what it needs.  It will trigger you to eat until it gets what it wants.  So if you are filling your body with unrecognizable highly processed diet foods, you will have a mighty hard time staying on track.  I know.  I've been there.

Since I've started getting my 1200-1500 calories through real food; whole milk/whole milk products, Butter, Lean meats, fruits, veggies, Sugar, CHEESE (glorious cheese, NOT AMERICAN), I have discovered I'm not hungry!  I get to the end of the day.  I am in range for calories,fat, protein, and carbs, and I'm satisfied.  In fact I have discovered I will get full faster and eat less anyway.  Notice my list of foods I eat.  I'm not "low fatting" this thing.  I keep my fats in range according to sparkpeople by making sure the high fat stuff is tempered with lean meats or fruits veggies. etc.  But when I eat something that is supposed to have fat in it, I eat the full fat version.  Just less of it and I count it!

Time to break with the powers that be and go by logic.  Tamp down those voices in  your head that say you can't, you're not strong enough,  Try the old fashioned portion control and calorie counting with real food and see how you feel.  If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.  To each his own.  But I bet I'm not wrong.