Friday, February 29, 2008

A Quick Project and A Great Way to Recycle!

We're celebrating Ben's birthday with cake and his real store bought present on Sunday, but I wanted to have a little something to give him yesterday on his real birthday, so I made him a personalized notepad.

This is a very easy project and very fun, because it almost seems like magic that something so simple actually works.

You want to start with the paper you'll be using. I used the printer to print the design four times on a letter sized page. I think the quarter sized notepads are a useful size. I recylcled paper from Ben's work. They go through a ton of it, always printing out presentations and things, so I ask him to save me the old stuff and that's what I use in our home printer. You could also use paper from junk mail, old envelopes, backs of used notebook paper, and you could use post cards, greeting cars, or empty notebook covers for the covers. This one is made without a cover.

I use my paper cutter to cut the sheets to size. This is a big Fiskars one that I inherited from my Aunt when she went to all Making Memories stuff, but you can find smaller ones that work well for as little as six or seven dollars at Walmart in the scrapbooking stuff.

If you don't want to use up printer ink, or if you're using this as an art project for kids, you could easily cut the paper to size, then rubber stamp, use stickers, color, scrapbook, etc for the decorations.

I use cardboard cut from old note book backing, or from boxes for the backing. This was the side of the box my printer ink comes in. I also sandwich two more pieces of cardboard front and back. This is because the very last and very first page are always kind of messy, so it's good to be able to just pull them off.

I even out the pages really well and make sure the top of the sheets are exactly level and even. I tap it all on the counter in a wood/notepad sandwich to make sure that it's all even, then, I clamp it all down. I use these little plaques that I've had around that never got used for whatever I'd meant to use them for. You could probably use lots of things for this, two heavy duty paint stir sticks, rulers, scrap wood. You want clamps that are really nice and night.

Here's the secret to the whole thing: paint a coating of plain old Elmer's white glue onto the top edge of the notepad pages. Use it right from the bottle and apply a fairly thickish coating. The thicker you go, the stronger the pages will hold together, but it will also increase the drying time by alot. After that, you just have to let it dry completely.

After it's dry, just unclamp it all, and peel off the extra front and back cardboard, making sure to leave one of the back pieces of cardboard with the pages to be the backing for the notepad. Here is a shot demonstrating how the pages stay together, like a real note pad.

The finished project! This says, "I've got ___ things I have to do today....Gotta stay on top of my life." Which is something Ben always says when he's planning his day and making his to do list. I think it's from a tv show.
I hope you all enjoy this idea! It could easily be adjusted, I'm sure rubber cement or tacky glue would work just as well, and the notepads can be any size or made from different kinds of paper. If anyone tries it, I'd love to hear about your results!

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A Strange Week

Well, I had a much more productive day yesterday than I did the day before. It's funny, when I was young, a day spent doing nothing was fun, but now, I feel really bad about wasting time if I don't get anything done. Anyway, it was Ben's birthday, so I made him sticky buns and a little present and did the rest of my to do list too.

Since I had been lazy on Wednesday, I added the things from that list to my list yesterday. I did get the oven clean too. I sure hope no potatoes ever explode again, that was a BIG pain in the butt to clean up. The skin was completely empty too. That potato really exploded.

I started feeling very sick last night after dinner. I think I've got some kind of flu or something, because I still feel sick this morning. Headache and achey and stomach problems, sounds like a flu to me. I sure hope it goes away soon, I was really looking forward to spending the weekend with Ben.

So, since I'm not feeling awesome, and I got a ton done yesterday, I'm planning to take it easier today. I've only got four things on my list today other than the regular daily stuff. I have to wash the sheets and remake the bed, shred and freeze the chunk cheese in the fridge, clean the fridge out, and dust the furniture. I'm not going to add anymore to that, and then I'm going to spend the rest of the day embroidering. I'm practically finished with the pillowcase I started on Monday for Julia, and then I'm going to start another one of the projects in my embroidery box. I'm thinking a St. Patrick's Day banner from the holiday banner sets that I bought at the best little Ben Franklin ever on our drive to St. Louis from Phoenix. I'm be sure to post pictures later!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Internet is a Dangerous Time-Sucker

I don't usually spend too much time online these days, but today I ended spending a great big part of my day just reading articles and things. It's so funny to me the way that sometimes the day will just fly, and I'll get nothing much done, and some days I'll get so much finished, and the time still sort of drags. Today was definately a day that flew by with not a whole lot getting done.

I did do some embroidery, and I finished my general daily work, of course. But mainly I read about urban legends on snopes.com. I'm always fascinated by stories like that, and yet they spook me too. Anyway, it was a nonbusy relaxing sort of day.

Tomorrow is Ben's birthday. I was going to make him a German Chocolate cake, but I didn't plan far enough in advance last time we went grocery shopping, so I don't have the ingredients I'd need. He wants to celebrate on Sunday though, so I'll save cake for then. I am planning on some gooey sticky buns for tomorrow. It's his Grand Birthday, I can't let it go by with no special treat.

Oh my gosh! As I was typing this, I heard a big loud POP from the kitchen. I put in some potatoes to bake about an hour ago, so I went to check. One of the potatoes completely exploded all over the oven! I even poked holes in them before they went in! It's like a massacre in there. If you were a carrot, you'd be screaming and yelling and saying, "Oh, the vegetation!"

Anyway, I guess I've got "clean the oven" to add to tomorrow's to do list.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shouldn't a grown up cat know better?

Smudgie was confused by his own tail today. He actually tried to chase it a little. He pounced his own tail. I mean, he's like four years old. How long can it take to get used to having a tail? Sometimes I wonder about Smudgie.


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Fun Overload!

We just got back from Orlando yesterday. We were there all week long, which is why I haven't posted in a while.

I had so much fun at the Disney parks! But it was a tad overwhelming too. There's just so much to see and do there! It seemed very very crowded too. I'd heard that Feb is a good time to go, but maybe because there was such warm weather this past weekend, lots of people came out. We rode lots of fun rides, and I really enjoyed the shows. I think the Beauty and the Beast show was my favorite. I even caught the attention of Smee and Capt. Hook. Hook brandished his hook at me, and gave me the I'm watching you eyes. It's a pirate's life for me.

We also went to Medieval Times. That is one of my favorite things to do. I'm such a dork. Our knight died first, but the show this time was my favorite storyline so far. They have a reproduction village there too, so that was really cool to get to walk around in and see. I saw an 800 year old loom. I don't know a ton about weaving, but it looked just like all the other hand looms I've ever seen. I guess it's a technology that doesn't need a lot of changing. Just like knitting. There were some very old knit silk socks too. I couldn't count the gauge because it was so fine, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that there were forty or fifty stitches to the inch. It was amazing.

I did finish Ben's Valentine's day socks, at their modern gauge of five stitches to the inch. They fit him pretty well, but they do need to be blocked. I'd like to get a pair of sock blockers, but I saw some instructions for bending a wire hanger to the right shape, and I think I'll try that for now. I'll take some pictures after I get all the cat hair off them. They're totally fuzzy from Ben walking around in them. I have serious cat hair problems in this house, and I'm not sure how to solve them. Sweeping a few times a week doesn't seem to be enough, so I guess I'll try sweeping once a day. Shaving the cats might be an option too though. :)

I've been spending today with laundry and catching up on some correspondence. I've also started embroidering a pillowcase with a kitty cat on it for my niece, Julia. I enjoy embroidering while I listen to audio books because I have to look at embroidery, while with knitting, I find my mind wandering as my eyes wander, since I don't have to watch my hands. I haven't done any embroidery since Sept. when we packed up most of our stuff to move. I'd only kept out my knitting, so I'm really enjoying the chance to do it again.

Sorry for not letting you all know where I was going before I disappeared for a week. But I'm back now, and I have lots of ideas to post about now, so there should be lots of posts and lots of activity on my blog now!

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy St. Valentine's Day!

I've been making some preparations for Valentine's Day yesterday and today. I baked heart shaped cakes for a layer cake yesterday afternoon. Ben's favorite dessert is this chocolate cake with buttercream icing. I made the icing and frosted the cake this morning.

Yesterday was also a meeting of the homemaker's club. It was a very nice time. I enjoy the company of the other women. We had a lesson on motivation and how to stay motivated with tasks that you don't enjoy as well as tasks that you do enjoy. We learned that the three main obstacles of motivation are procrastination, perfectionism, and pessimism.

Here are my cakes cooling after I've taken them out of the oven. I made the unfortunate discovery that this recipe is terrible for layer cakes, or any cake you want to be able to take out of the pan. I ended up letting them cool in the pans, and cutting each cake into four big chunks in order to life them out of the pan, then putting them back together on the cake plate and frosting over them. It looks nice on the outside, but it'll be slightly hilarious when it's cut apart, I suppose.

Here is my progress on the socks. I'm not sure if I'll be able to finish them before Ben gets home, but I can always wrap them up how they are on the needle and then finish them tonight after dinner. I'm not giving up though, I'm really going to challenge myself to see if I can finish them in time. But I do have to finish some other housework. I'm sure that I could get them done if I did nothing else today, but Ben's been asking me to get the Jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom clean, and today seems like the day to do it. I'm sure Ben would rather have a clean house and dinner ready, than socks on time and a wife that did nothing at all except knit all day.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Knitting Progress

Last week, I almost completely finished the sampler from The Sweater Workshop. There are all the edge finishings and hems still to finish. I've really enjoyed this project, it's been lots of fun to have so many techniques to practice, all in one small item. The sampler includes all the skills and stitch variations that could be needed to make any of the sweaters from the book.

I particularly am proud of this section. It's the first time that I've done two color knitting, and I even did it by holding each color in a different hand, so that I knit the green Continental style, even though I usually only ever knit with the yarn in my right hand.

And now, I'm setting aside my sampler for today and I'm embarking on some marathon knitting. I don't have a present for Ben for Valentine's Day, and he asked me not to spend money on him anyway, so I'm going to use the yarn leftover from Ali's present and knit him a pair of socks. I got them started this morning on dpn's and have put them on a long needle so I can knit them both at once - magic loop style. Here's the start of them. My goal for today is to finish the cuffs and get the heels turned. I won't have a lot of time to work on them tomorrow, so I'd like to have them in the home stretch by Thursday. It will be close, but if I'm willing to knit all day (and I am! I know, I'm so brave), I should have them done in time!

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Monday, February 11, 2008

E-book Brainstorming

I've been thinking of writing and setting up to sell some eBooks lately, and Crystal's Money Making post today is the start of a series about just that.

Here I'm going to make a quick list of things that I might have the experience and expertise to use as subjects for eBooks. Any ideas, feedback, suggestions, or questions would be welcome. And if you do any writing on the topic yourself, I'd love to link back to you, so feel free to leave a link in the comments.

Possible Topics for eBooks:

  • Series of How-To Begin Sewing
  • Detailing Particular Sewing Projects, like aprons or pillowcases to dresses
  • How-To of Different Sewing Techniques, like bias binding
  • Cooking Topics, like Gifts to Make, with ideas for packaging and pictures
  • More Original Patterns like those on my site, for Crochet and Knitting
  • Hand embroidery how-to
  • Embroidery designs and projects
  • Bread baking or pie making tutorials
  • Cookie baking or cake making tutorials and recipes
  • Saving money on weddings with projects for doing things yourself
  • Step by step of how to make your own tiered wedding cake with pictures
  • Slow cooker recipes
  • Meal planning/leftovers usage recipes
  • Jam/Jelly Making
  • Canning or drying or storing food
  • Card making projects/ideas

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Book Review: Julie & Julia

This past weekend we were in Border's, and I saw this book was clearanced. I'd heard about it in the KnitPicks podcast, so I was interested enough to buy it. It is a non-fiction book that chronicles a woman's project of cooking every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within the space of a year.

As a whole, I would not give this book a positive review. Though it actually was fairly well written, had it's funny moments and included a few interesting cooking scenes, the main problem I had was my dislike of the author. She kind of struck me as whiny and dissatisfied. She was very self-centered and did not come across as responsible or even kind. Also, there is a lot of profanity in the story, and though this doesn't bother me in books or movies, I know that many people are pretty offended by it, and wouldn't like this one at all.

Through a lot of the book, she points out that she is a Democrat, and is therefore much better than and morally superior to all the terrible Republicans that she has to work with. Now, I'm not a member of either party, and see myself as a moderate, but I have problems and also admire points from candidates on both sides. What I really can't stand though, is the absolute pigeon-holing of people that seems to come out of politics. I also thought she seemed pretty hypocritical to worry so much about how unfeeling and evil Republicans supposedly are when she herself is pretty selfish and self centered.

The reason she starts her project is her general unhappiness and dissatisfaction with her life. I personally don't understand why people live in New York if all they can do is complain about living there and all they can afford in such an expensive place is a run down, broken apartment. That's sort of besides the point, I suppose, but it seems like some questionable priorities would keep you in a situation like that.

The most objectionable part of the story was her complete lack of responsibility when it came to her kitchen and cleaning dishes. She continuously describes the kitchen as filthy, sticky, cat hair covered, rotten (floorboards) and being piled high with dirty slimy dishes. Her husband is constantly washing dishes and trying to do his best to help her clean. There's even a "maggot under the dish rack" incident. The dish rack where the clean dishes get stacked! Now, I might have some pretty strong opinions on the subject, but I do believe that anyone who can't work clean and be responsible for their own messes and dish washing has absolutely no right to be cooking in a kitchen. No place in MY kitchen for people who get meat juice on the walls and won't clean, anyway. For one thing, when it comes to food, working clean is an important safety measure. For another, I think in the end, it was this aspect that showed me that she hadn't really changed or undergone any kind of insights about herself. The reason the project helps her life is because she gets a book deal out of it, not because she actually grows as a person.

There were some good points of this book. The project its self is its most redemptive feature. It is a pretty neat idea to take on an endeavor like that. I really enjoyed the cooking and learning about the recipes. But I guess when it comes down to it, I'd probably enjoy just reading through Mastering the Art of French Cooking much much more.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Middle Name Game

A new reader, Sharon, tagged me for this game. She's a fellow 27 year old Catholic and loves Ground Hog's day.

Here are the rules:1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name).3. After you are tagged, you need to update your blog with your middle name and your answers.4. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged and that they need to read your blog for details.)

A- Apple-Cheeked (which is a pretty poetic way of saying constantly red in the face)

N- Northerner (I hear where ever I go that I talk funny, but since I think I live in the South now that we've moved to St. Louis, I think that really makes me a definate northerner) (I was also toying with Native Michigander. Yes, MICHIGAN!)

N- Nervous (I have to admit it, I've got a nervous personality and always have. I like to imagine myself as one of those content people who are calm and soothing, with the Spirit of God just radiating from them, allowing all others to be at ease and experience Peace. It's definately a goal, but I don't think the nail biting and hair tucking and fidgeting and non-stop nervous chatter really inspire that kind of contentment.)

This was actually a pretty hard game because it was a challenge for me to think of the n-words. So, instead of tagging people, I'll invite anyone who would like to try to go ahead and post, and link here in the comments. Or to shake things up a bit, if you think you could do a better job using my middle name letters to describe me (and I'm positive you could), I'd love to read your suggestions.

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CVS Deals

Here is a picture of everything from our trip to CVS on Sunday. I spent 12 ECB's and about five dollars out of pocket for this deal. I earned 10 ecb's.

We stopped by again on Monday, and I spent $.85 out of pocket for these things. I used my 10 ecb's and got back 15 ecb's. The Nutter Butters were so we'd hit twenty dollars so I could use the 4/$20 coupon.
I went last night too, but I didn't take a picture of that trip. We just picked up the 2/$6 Dove chocolate. I had a bogo coupon, so that made it 2/$3 and then I had the CVS $1.50 off coupon. Ben wanted shoelaces for his brown dress shoes too, so we grabbed those so the total wouldn't be negative in case they would take the second CVS coupon on the chocolate. The computer wouldn't let the guy take the second $1.50 coupon, so out total was about $3 out of pocket, and I spent no ecb's. I earned 2 more ecb's with that deal. So they paid me $.50 to buy the chocolate.
I really wanted to pick up the Maybelline eye shadow deal, but they've been out of stock on those trios since Sunday morning. I half way wonder if they just emptied the display and will put them out again next week. But that doesn't really make sense, because they don't loose money on the deals or anything. I guess a gaggle of highly painted cvs-ers came in as soon as they opened and all bought up their limit of maybelline trios. They should be easy for me to spot, they'll be the ones with the sparkling teeth and perfect oral hygiene, that have the paper cuts and newsprint stained fingers that each have three eyeshadow colors on. Maybe they'll let me join the club. :D

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Friday, February 08, 2008

Menu for 2-10 to 2-16

I planned this week's menu to try to use some things out of the freezer. I won't have to buy any meat for this menu, and should really only need to pick up some eggs, milk, yogurt, fruit, etc. I never list the veggies, but we usually have green beans or salad or something similar with dinner, and carrot sticks or cucumber slices or green pepper with lunch. And an apple or banana or orange for snacks.

At least, I try to remember the fruits and veggies. I think I've mentioned that hunger completely reduces my emotional control (I'm sure it's a low-blood sugar thing, right?), so sometimes I forget to make the healthy choices. But planning every meal definately helps me at those times, because I don't have to think, and I've planned ahead, so usually the food for lunch is simple and right there. This keeps me from eating cookie dough from the freezer for breakfast. (Not that I would ever in my life do something like that.)

I've also found that this type of planning keeps me from buying too many snack foods that are not so healthy, which is good, because those sorts of things usually become what I'll turn to when I'm hungry and before I know it, I've made an entire meal out of cheez-its. If I don't have those things around, and I know what I should be having for lunch, and the veggies are clean and cut up, I can manage to do the right thing. Obviously, it has to be a Perfect Storm of health.

I do usually add something for dessert in the evening after dinner. I find this really helps me avoid over-indulgence. For example, we'll do pudding or I'll bake a cookie or two for each of us from the freezer. Of course, we're planning lighter desserts like applesauce or fruit yogurt for Lent, and we don't have any sweets on fasting days.

Speaking of fasting, I'm re-thinking Pizza Night for Fridays. At least for the duration of Lent. I've put it there as a place holder for now, but after I talk it over with Ben, I'd like to change it for two reasons. One, I don't really like my homemade pizza to be meatless, but also, and more importantly, even without the meat, it seems too indulgent for what is supposed to be a fast day.

Sunday
B: Toast
L: Chicken Noodle Soup
D: Nachos

Monday
B: Blueberry Muffins
L: Tamales
D: Steak and Baked Potatoes

Tuesday
B: Muffins
L: Steak Burrito
D: Noodles and Sauce

Wednesday
B: Muffins
L: PB&J
D: Eggs and Polish Sausage

Thursday
B: Pancakes
L: Baked Potato
D: Chicken and Black Bean Fajitas

Friday
B: Pancakes
L:Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
D: Pizza Night!

Saturday
B: Cereal
L: Sandwiches
D: Lasagna

Check out how everyone else does it!

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

A Rainy Day

Today is gray and rainy, and there are supposed to be big thunder storms coming through later. I'm actually enjoying it so far though, since it seems like a nice day to be inside my snug home and do some nice cozy, home-y things.

I've got some cleaning scheduled on my list for today. I have to bring the vaccum down from upstairs and clean the couch. I'm also planning to dust all the furniture. I have some phone calls to make. We need to find a new dr here in IL and make appts. I also want to call my new friend Dorothy and confirm that the homemakers' club meeting is next week.

I was thinking about baking something since today is Mardi Gras, but we won't finish it all today, and tomorrow Lent starts, so we want things to be a little more lean and spare. Leftover cake does not seem either lean or spare. We are having a particularly tasty dinner tonight. I'm trying a recipe from Cooks' Illustrated magazine for Crunchy Porkchops. With corn and mashed potatoes, it's going to be a very good meal, I think. I might make a box of pudding for dessert as well. A little celebration, but no leftovers to tempt us on Ash Wednesday.

Other than the not so thrilling tasks of cleaning and scheduling and the fun of a new recipe, I'm also working on some projects today. I'm finishing up some hot pads to match the apron I made last week. I wanted to use up as much of the scrap fabric as possible, so matching potholders seemed like a good choice. I'm sure Adam's friend doesn't need a purse to match his apron, lol. I've also got another ball of black Sugar and Cream yarn to knit into dishcloths to go with this gift. But I think I've already finished six, so I might just save the other ball for another time, weave in my ends and call it good.

One knitting project that I'm really looking forward to working on today is my sampler from
The Sweater Workshop. I started it during the Super Bowl, and yesterday evening I got as far as the short rows. I'm looking forward to learning some new techniques. Ben asked me yesterday what I was making, a hat? a purse? a sock? I explained that it was a sampler, but then was trying to think of a use for it. He said that if it's a sampler, that's the only use it needs, to teach me techniques. What do you all think? If you make something, does it need a use at the end, or is the experience enough?

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Monday, February 04, 2008

Blogger Book Club

Hadias is hosting a book club, and we're reading Thrift in the Household. Here are my answers to this week's discussion questions.

1. Discuss the opinions of the author in chapter 6. Which do you agree with and disagree with and why?

I agree with the author that a homemaker must be careful to watch out for her own health and has to be prepared to rest when she is tired. She also has to be sure to ask for help when it is needed and help her children learn to be independent. I think it is especially important to learn to ask for help if a woman feels overwhelmed, because expecting help but not asking for it will breed resentment. It's pretty much a given in my mind that other people just won't notice the work you do, because they have their minds on all the work they have to do that you don't notice. Husband's and children are happy to help with work if they are asked to do so in a cheerful manner and thanked sincerely.

2.Do you agree or disagree with the following statement and why?

"Rest will do her more good than any medicine and help more to keep her well, and the housemother should rest some part of every day as soon as she is conscious of weariness; even fifteen minutes' relaxation will do her good, and after it she will go on with renewed energy." P. 98

I do agree with this statement. I find that resting between larger jobs, like sweeping or scrubbing the bathroom definately helps me keep my stamina better. When I try to fit many physically demanding things into one day, by the time my husband gets home from work, I'm exhausted and definately no fun to be with.

I do think that women should be careful not to take advice like this as an excuse for laziness. I've known many people (and have been guilty of this myself) who tell themselves, "I must rest or I'll be so tired and sick!", then leave the dishes slimy in the sink, and the dust collecting everywhere. In our times, it is much easier to find ourselves being lazy than doing too much physical labor. Sometimes, what we mistake for being sick or tired is simply lethargy or depression and the best course of action is to get moving and clear out the cobwebs from our homes and minds.

3. After reading the following excerpt, please explain how you choose what goes on your daily "To-Do" list.

“Do the duty that lies nearest," but be sure it is a duty. You can recognize a duty because it is something that makes you and your family physically well, that develops them spiritually and morally, and does not take from you more than you are able to give. Your first duty is to make yourself so lovely that your family want to be with you. Nothing is worth while to you or them that does not help you to be dear to them. P.100

Most days I ask Ben if there is anything that he would like me to take care of. Those items go on my to do list. I also take stock of any projects or correspondence that should be taken care of. I try to balance my list each day so there aren't too many really physical jobs and they include things, like sewing, that I enjoy but sometimes lack motivation to start doing.

I especially like to use my to do list to keep track of housework, like dusting or cleaning fans, that I tend to overlook. For me, it seems easier when I notice dust, to say that will go on the list for tomorrow, than it is to stop right there and take care of it. Then, the next day, when it is on my list, it doesn't seem annoying to have to take care of it, since it's part of what I'm meant to do that day.

4. What do you think is the motivating factor behind this statement? In other words why do you think women do the following?

Of all the wastes about the household this is the one irreparable, and as the housewife is wasting it she seems to think she is doing something very commendable. She will save her pennies and waste her life by overwork and lack of sleep, and in the end she spends all she has tried to accumulate, in the vain effort to be well again. P. 91

I think that today one of the main reasons for this kind of behavior is the fact that many people see homemakers or stay at home moms as lazy. A woman's natural defense against people thinking she is lazy will be to work and work, including even doing unnecessary things, in order to show the world that she is industrious and valuable. To combat this, a woman who works in her home must be secure in her own heart that the work she does is valuable, and she doesn't have to overwork herself to show other people.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Menu for 2-3 to 2-9

There's lots of chicken in this week's menu, since we're using up the leftovers we picked off the roasted chickens last week. I never realized, but a roasted chicken is a very easy and frugal meal. You get lots of meat, and I even saved the pan drippings to make broth with. I'm not sure yet how that will turn out, but it's on my list for today. I'm not baking much this week. Probably some rolls to go with the bbq chicken. Lent starts this week, so it'll be meatless Fridays for the coming weeks, as well as cutting way back on desserts and richer foods.

Sunday
B: Cereal
L: Eggs and Polish Sausage
D: Nachos and Wings

Monday
B: Fruit and Yogurt
L: Chicken Salad Sandwiches
D: Chicken Fried Rice

Tuesday
B:Baked Oatmeal
L: Chicken Fried Rice
D: Pork Chops, Carrots, Green Beans

Wednesday
B: Baked Oatmeal
L: Salad
D: Mac and Cheese

Thursday
B: Pancakes
L: Pork Chop Sandwiches
D: Barbecue Chicken, Salad

Friday
B: Pancakes
L: PB&J, carrots
D: Pizza Night!

Saturday
B: Cereal
L: Leftover Pizza
D: Chicken Noodle Soup

As always, check out more great menu plans here.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Name that Cow!

(Admittedly, my MI readers will have a very distinct advantage in this one.)


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Sewing a Lined Apron with Bias Binding Trim

Hello Everyone! I've noticed tons of people find this post by googling info on bias tape, etc. I just thought everyone might find it very helpful to know that I've written a little booklet about making your own bias tape and using different kinds of binder feet to apply bias tape to your projects. I wrote it about five years ago and offered it for sale by having it printed myself, but it was quite expensive, at $25.
I've recently discovered that Cafepress offers publishing services, and am very glad to reissue it through them for only $10.95.
You can check it out here.
Good luck with your sewing and rock those binder feet!
-Bethany 7-1-08


Here are some step by step pictures of the process of sewing the apron I made this week. This a very straight forward and pretty simple sewing project. I used a pattern for a standard apron that was from the seventies or eighties that was given to me at some point. It is a McCall's pattern that is collection of gifts to make, like pillows, hats, ties, and dog beds. The apron pattern included pieces for ties and pockets, but I used only the main piece since I was following my own construction techniques and made my own pocket shapes.

When starting a new project, you want to be sure to wash and dry your fabric just the way the finished product will be cared for. Since I won't be the one washing Adam's friend's laundry, I used high heat to maximize any shrinking. That way, the fabric won't shrink and pull at the seams or hang crookedly. You also want to straighten the ends to make sure that they are on grain and are at a right angle to the selvedges.

To cut out most patterns, you fold the fabric in half lengthwise, matching the selvedges and having the ends even. Then you lay out the pattern pieces according to the pattern layout guide on the instruction sheet. Many patterns, this one included, are placed right along the fold of the fabric, so that they are whole when opened out. I did not mark this pattern since I was figuring my own pocket placement, etc, but usually you want to mark all pattern markings before removing the pattern from the fabric.

I made a couple of changes to the pattern. I lenghtened it about an inch because Adam's friend is a tall guy, and I rounded the corners to make them easier to bind. I used this empty can to trace around and make a nice rounded corner.

A round corner is better when using bias tape, because then it doesn't have to be mitered or otherwise finished at the corner.

I used the main fabric as the guide for cutting the lining, placing it on the fold in the same way as the pattern piece.

For the pocket, I measured a 6X8 rectangle and used a jar as a guide to mark rounded corners on the bottom. I just guessed about the size by measuring my own hand and making it slightly bigger to account for guy hands.

Here is the bias binding I used. Wrights is a good brand, and I've never had any problems with shrinking or dye leaking when using their bias tape.
My frugally minded readers will be happy to know that you can make your own bias tape for much less money than this costs. I've actually done an ebook with instructions for making bias tape and using a bias binder foot on your sewing machine. I should probably get that back on my site sometime.

To start sewing, I used my edge finish stitch to sew around the pocket and the pocket lining held wrong sides together.

This is one of my bias binder feet for my sewing machine. These are not very expensive and can be found to work with most machines. They make sewing binding onto things, so much faster, neater, and easier. I'd say they're definately worth the investment if you're planning much sewing with bias tape. I like mine so much, sometimes I change construction methods to get to use bias tape.
You don't need one of these to sew bias binding, though. There are lots of other ways to apply bias tape. Check out the Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing for some others. (A great book for learning to sew and a wonderful resource for experienced seamstresses.)

The binding foot folds the bias tape in half (or holds it in place for pre-folded bias tape) and has a channel for the fabric in the middle of it. This way the binding and the fabric are held together and run under the needle all in place. I like it because it keeps my stitching much straighter and I can be sure I'm not missing the binding layer on the under side.

After binding the pockets, I tested for placement and measured and marked so the were even from the middle and directly across from one another. I pinned them in place and then sewed with my regular sewing machine foot and a normal straight stitch around the outer edge of the bias binding. I did this because I thought it would look neater than trying to sew directly on the stitching already on the inner edge of the binding.
At the top of the pocket before I started stitching and as I finished I added a bar tack. A bar tack is a wide zig zag set with a very short stitch length that will reinforce places were there is more stress on the stitching, like pocket tops, or bag straps.

After I sewed on the pockets to the black layer, I placed the black and the hound's tooth plaid lining wrong sides together, pinned them carefully and basted them to make sure they stayed in place while I applied the binding with the binder foot.
I bound the bottom sides and edge first in one piece of bias tape, then did the very top edge next. I trimmed the binding even with the raw edge of the fabric in both cases, since the binding's unfinished edges were then covered with the binding that became the ties, the neck loop, and the underarm finish.
To correctly place this, I tried it on, measured for a neck strap, then pinned the bias tape place for the underarm.
The I started at the end of the long strip of bias tape, sewing it closed as long as the waist tie needed to be. Then I added in the fabric, binding one curved apron side, then I sewed off the edge, sewing the tape closed for the neck loop. When that was the correct length, I bound the other curved side and continued to the end of the binding to create the other waist tie.

The fabric for this project is decorators' fabric from Joann's. It's a nice weight, and normally I wouldn't line an apron like this, of this weight, but Adam wanted a particularly nice apron, so I thought a lining would be appropriate to hide the back side of the embroidery and such. And the hound's tooth is very sharp looking as a lining.
Without the embroidery or the lining, a project like this would cost about $6-$10 or even less depending what your fabric costs and whether you make your own binding, and would take me about an hour. It will take a first timer without a binding foot longer of course.
The machine embroidery could easily be replaced by hand embroidery or applique as well. Or even fabric paint or stamping. Or the whole thing can be made with a fun print, and it would need no extra embellishment.

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