Thursday, October 3, 2013

Epic Shower Gift - but I'm bias

My big brother got married! Super happy, not just for him, but because his wife really is like the sister I never had.  We both have an unexplained obsession with ROY G BIV and every color in between.  We tend to like the same foods (consuming and replacing makes it easy.)  She and my Mr. are giggly little winos together.  :)  I love my little family.

So with this being said:  She had a bridal shower.  The one I co-hosted was a kitchen shower, lots of new kitchen items were given.  This next one I just attended was a kitchen and bath product shower.  Consumables, paper products, cleaning supplies, kitchen bags, tin foil... you get the idea.  Well if you know my mom, you know she always has a trick or two up her sleeve.  Something has rubbed off on me because I believe I gave the best gift at this shower.  For starters, I wrote up a lot of homemade cleaning receipes, including but not limited to: Laundry Detergent, Fabric Softener, Glass/Window Cleaner, Oven Scrub, Shower Scrub, and a few others.  The remaining of my gift to her are the uncommon ingredients to make these cleaners.  Borax, Fels Naptha, Soda Wash, Baking Soda, Cheap Hair Conditioner, Empty Spray Bottles for mixing, Vinegar and a few other items.

I have also decided to make her homemade "paper" towels.  Instead of using terry cloth, I had already bought microfiber towels for her package.  

I read that if you dunk cheap wash cloths (or scrap material) in the fabric softner recipe I am giving her and let it dry, you can throw them in the dryer as a dryer sheet.  So I cut material for that as well.

Here are my finished "paper" towels:
First I had to cut off the finished edge of the microfiber cloth to square up the material, then I matched up the material to the wrong side of my fabric, sewed the edges leaving an opening for turning, turned, ironed the opening flat (makes it easier when top stitching and closing the hole) then I top stitched the material

I bought a snap tool from Hobby Lobby, it was really easy to add the snaps based on the directions that came with the tool.

That's it!  I placed everything in a Home Depot bright orange bucket for mixing laundry detergent but other than that I didn't get fancy with the wrapping, large black trash bag and jute to tie it off.. (no finsihed photo of it all together)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spangled Stars

My love of yarn comes from my obsession with color.  A good friend taught me to crochet after I graduated college and it sort of took off; no, not like a wild fire... more like the growing of an oak tree, slow but concentrated.  I made a hat, started the mother of all blankets (not finished) started another blanket (not finished), left the craft for a couple years and returned when I had nothing to do while living in a hotel for 8 weeks...  Gotta love the life of a nomad.
"mother of all blankets"

 I saw a simple granny square on Pinterest and I wanted to branch out from my normal double crochet stitch.  I fell in love with the clean stitch shown in the photo.  Gave it a whirl.

As I was looping away on my blanket, I looked at my center of the square and realized it would make a great star, if done in white then surrounded by blue... Right there I thought of my next blanket (which is so me, getting to the next project before the first is even done.)

So while living in a hotel room in Overland Park for 8-9 weeks, I finished all the squares for my blanket and started sewing them together.  Two to three more weeks of stress later I get moved into our rental in Sioux City.  My Mr. is not released from the office to his new assignment yet so I have plenty of time on my hands to work.  Plus! The Summer 2012 Olympics were on, so I was content to do nothing but watch and work.  Sometime between  Aug and Sept I finish my blanket, considering I started in May, this was impressive to me.  
My blanket, not finished here but it is now.
I love the coloring in this, really it's the lighting
I love that as I make blankets, I can also use them
to keep warm :) (my AC was cold!)
NOW I am start on the blanket I am most excited for.  To start, I decided it would be for my sister-in-law, Angie.  Then I went to town, making my stars, then surrounding then with blue, and making blue blanks to offset my stars {ya know, like on a flag. :) }  Then come the stripes.  At this point I am not sure how my sizing is going to come together, I started on them anyway.

Once most of the blanket was prepped, then came the sewing.  Starting with the stars, I needed to judge how big, once secured together, the star "block" was going to be to know how my stripes would come together and how long/wide I was going to make the flag.

My Mr. spent many sessions with me hem-hawing over "how does this look?", "Is this too long/long enough?", "Ugh, what if she doesn't like it?"  Then I started adding the stripes, AND THEY DIDN'T MATCH UP! :(  Oy, talk about stress!  My May 2013 deadline was fast approaching.  Early April I take my blanket to Olathe for one of my best friend's to tell me EXACTLY how I can salvage what I had done: Not Used A Pattern.

Her advice: Put 8 stripes at the stars and only 5 below.  (Correct would be 7 up and 6 down.)
It wasn't what I wanted to hear, my Mr. wasn't impressed either.  Then it came down to: It-Just-Needed-To-Be-Done..  So I proceeded.  Leaving a little section (one double crochet width) on the left edge, and a full blue granny square at the top.  My solution, was to wrap the whole blanket in a blue granny square.  I did 4 rows at the top to fill in the space and one at the left edge, then 1 around the whole blanket.  This stitch secures all the sewing done bewteen the squares.

I wish I had a photo of the two of us with it.  My favorite story is that she was telling my brother-in-law about how I made this beautiful flag blanket.  She had no idea it was for her :)

The rest are various shots I took of the finished product.
 These little piggies needed to be fed, always at what seemed like the worst timing.
They are pretty relentless and were in my face until I got up and fed them :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An "Envelope System" for the Modern Spender

I wish I could say I have my shit together.  A lot of things I do:  Me and my Mr are doing amazing,  I love our life-style moving around a lot (no we are NOT military), household, relationships, etc.  Things I don't:  My crafts (a bit disorganized, but hey you can't contain the creativity) & The Budget. Like most people I use my debit card; for EVERYTHING.  I also read a lot of articles/blogs/Dave Ramsey, on the envelope system.  In fact I just started a new board on Pinterest for Money Advice - yes it get it's OWN board!  I wish it would work for me, but I don't feel comfortable carrying that much cash for the month around with me, nor am I able to really plan how much might be needed.  So I continue in my old ways, swiping my debit card and over-spending only to be saved by the next weeks' paycheck.

I am always looking for better ways to budget and look at ours WEEKLY, but yet I can't seem to get it under control; UNTIL TODAY.  I think I have found a "system" that will work for me.  It all started because I pinned something, then decided to follow 4 other boards dealing with money advice, which lead me to board surfing and I came across this idea from Melissa over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.  To be honest, I didn't even read the blog post :| (oops) but I got this amazing idea, carry budget categories with me!  The printables are no longer available for free so I had to get creative.  I am fairly savvy with Excel, I use it for my budget and have played with all sorts of options.  It really wasn't too hard.  I played around with the cell size, margins, page layout (4X6 index card), etc until I got them to fit on my pretty note cards I couldn't pass up at Staples.  (There's a hint of my color obsession again.)

I created my categories based on how I spend money:
Groceries/Restaurant (I put these together because at the end of the month, if there isn't money left to go out to eat, clearly we would have plenty of food to eat at home)
Household/Personal Care (this would be my Target shopping, and Pampered Chef - being a consultant  I tend to add my commission back INTO my business)
Henry & Percy (These two are the loves of our lives and we tend to go crazy at the pet store on toys and treats, we need to budget in vet visits (shots next week!), boarding, food, and yes - more toys)
Discretionary (Everyone needs to have money they can blow on the little things that make them happy, helps keep you focused if you're paying off major debt {Like us-Thank you Student Loans.}  This can be $10, whatever might make you happy)
Entertainment (For us, this is our social fund - Drinks with friends, impromptu bowling and beer, movies, etc)
Gas/Maintenance (We are down to one vehicle with no payment [my Mr has a work truck] and this is my around town, visit friends, run errands and travel to see family-fund)

Yes, you could hard write these out and they would work just as well.  I was pretty proud that I was able to get them printed on the note cards, damn near perfect.

There you have it, my 6 categories.  I have suck a positive feeling about my new habit.  It won't take but a few moments back at the vehicle, or at home, to stay up-to-date on these modern-day-spender envelopes. 

Off to dinner to celebrate my new Budget! :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weighing in on the "Best Bars Ever"

So as I watch the second to last episode of The Biggest Loser I decided I wanted to make dessert.  Over the weekend we had a very down-played snow storm.  I didn't leave the house today, NOR did I get dressed.  The snow-day perk of being a housewife. (I will note: my Mr. rarely comes home to me in my pjs.)

My goal is to make supper with items I have already bought (buying very few ingredients to pull it all together), so tonight was Creamy Pesto Chicken with Linguine. It's from Pampered Chef, if enough as for it I will share the recipe, but onto dessert!

On Pinterest, when anyone claims "the Best _____ Ever"  I feel the need to challenge them.  This time it was "the Best Bars Ever."  I found the recipe at Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

I would like to petition Pinterest (love you, Pinterest) to add a search function that allows you to search YOUR boards.  Many times I know I have pinned something and want to have that exact pin but have to search through 100's to find it. And while we are at it, I would like to petition Pinterest to make subBoards.  Like Recipes: Desserts, Recipes: Drinks THEN make it super easy and fast to organize them into sub categories.   

So back to the "Best Bars Ever."  I tried the batter as I was making the bars and it was pretty damn good.  And my verdict?!?  You'll have to make them and judge them for yourself because when it comes down to it, it's all a matter of opinion, but I will be making these a regular at my house.  :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Color Obsession: Cloth Napkins

I love color.  Any day of the week you can find me wearing tie dye.  I couldn't decide on a single color of dishes so I am going with Fiestaware.  I just went to the website to get the link, BIG mistake, found out they have NEW products - soap/lotion dispenser!  NOT TO MENTION A NEW COLOR - Lapis, available in June.  I CANNOT WAIT!  It's a collection in progress.  I plan on getting this new color, along with MORE of the retired 75th anniversary color - Marigold. I love LOVE love my dishes.  They make a for a fun dinner party. 

My future sister-in-law LOVES color as much as I do, so much so that she added "anything rainbow" on her Christmas list.  My very talented Mom decided that she would find her cloth napkins (I should note we are a family of hippies, hate the waste of paper products.) Mom found a set of napkins but also found really cute material to MAKE her some napkins.  

Long ramble made short:  I WAS JEALOUS.  I just had to have some too!  I went to my local quilt shop and found these amazing fat quarters (a FQ is a half yard, cut in half)  
The Prettiest Fat Quarters You've Ever Seen
Mom came for a weekend visit, sewing machine in hand, and we went to work.  She looked up how to do a mitered-corner napkin.  She found her how-to over at Prudent Baby: Mitered-Corners.  Because of my color obsession, I couldn't decide on my napkins, so I have 14 different colors, times 2, so 28 napkins to make.  

**I will tell you of a super awesome trick Mom taught me during this process; it adds some time to the whole process but makes the ironing way less stressful.  On your machine, sew a 1/2" allowance all the way around the FQ, THEN 1" IN FROM the 1/2", sew another line all the way around the FQ.  When you get to your ironing board, all you have to do is iron, NO measure as you go, you already have it marked out.  You could draw your lines, would be faster and save on the extra thread but I don't have disappearing fabric pen and wanted to get my napkins started.  Also removing the stitches once ironed, you don't have to worry about the fabric pen washing out.**  (I have since adopted this trick for ANY time I have to iron a seam before sewing)

As you can see, I have a FQ sewn ready for ironing and one that is ironed. 

Here is an up close look at our work:

My first completed corner
Mom's purple, my green completed napkins

Nothing says finishing touch on a dinner party than matching NAPKINS to FIESTA PLACE SETTING :)  See, Fun Dinner Party.

This photo always makes me smile :)

I haven't completed my entire collection, like I said I have 28 to make.  As of today I have a solid start and have already used them.  No more jealousy here!


Yep! I already have an update:

1) If you're doing 28 of ANYTHING, I would invest in the vanishing fabric pen.
2) I found a trick after you iron so if your ironing isn't perfect it's nearly foolproof!

After you have the ironing done, unfold the 1", place napkin wrong side down, then fold the napkin over into a triangle, place a measure tool at the corner where the ironed folds intersect.  Make a mark 90 degrees to the fold, mine comes out to be 1 1/2".  I don't care for the step where you make a mark where the 1" fold lines up on the 1/2" fold.  I have found the dots don't always line up. 
Unfold 1" hem

Fold at corner, right side in

Mark for sewing

I hope this makes it quicker for you like it is already helping me out!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Post Valentine's Day-Snow Day Cookies

I want to be clear:  It is NOT my intention to take credit for creating anything (unless otherwise noted) I post on my blog, I am however glad to take credit for DOING the things I post on my blog :)  I will do my best to give credit where credit is due, so with that being said....

I have been meaning to make cookies for my Mr. to take to work.  He works in construction management and has bragged to his guys about my baking skills (*Mainly following directions) so here are the cookies I am making today:

I am learned a very lesson the hard way with a different recipe I made from Pinterest.  The lesson: it's important if you try a recipe and like it, WRITE IT DOWN.  I lost a delicious crock pot recipe by trusting the sites pinned to remain virus/spam free, and I was wrong.  I am still upset about losing the recipe mentioned that I won't let another go undocumented. 

Always write out recipes, Pinterest has lost some good ones.

The reason why I love making these cookies is because they are fast and easy, no measuring flour and sugar, just place all the ingredients in the mixer and go for it.

As you can see I made these cookies a little on the small side.  It is only Friday and they are suppose to last until Monday; they won't.  I plan on making another batch on Sunday for work.

I barely got them frosted and we had to try them.

And again, I barely get the second pan out of the oven and one goes missing... Good thing I made them small. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Descaling an Iron (possibly a little too domestic)

This will probably be one of my most domestic posts:  How to Descale and Iron.
My view of the snow storm as it started
Gathered Materials

Coffee, A View, Tunes (my choice: Alt Nation on XM), White Vinegar, Rag Towels, Dirty Iron, & distilled water (not pictured)

I did a Google search for how to descale an iron, but I didn't find anything I liked so I took from several I read, all had the same theme, white vinegar and steam followed by distilled water.

First steam out any water remaining in the iron.  Fill iron with white vinegar.

Turn the setting to the highest steam setting and let the vinegar steam out until the "tank" is empty or all the holes are cleaned out, then fill the iron with distilled water.

Let the iron steam the tank dry, this will further clean out the lime scale in the iron.  I had to fill my tank twice because this is my first time cleaning my iron and it's gotten a lot of use over the last 5 months. My next post... Homemade napkins.  It includes a lot of  pre-sewing sewing and ironing (hence my scaly iron and the need to clean it.)