Saturday, May 31, 2008
This would be the scene in our mail room every other Wednesday. I love coming home to see the counter littered with the weekly store circulars. It's easy money baby! See the $5 off coupon to the lovely Fresh and Easy? This week I cleaned up the counter for our building manager. (I'm a helper that way.) I netted 8 of these coupons without having to dig in the recycle bin. I am always pleasantly surprised that the other 80 apartments in our building just trash these coupons!
Fresh and Easy is this groovy British grocery store that just came to Hollywood. They have a very limited selection of foods. It's a great place for Cliff because there aren't aisles and aisles of choices. You want cereal? They have 5 take your pick.
I love their high quality meats and budget freezer section. They also have those Bartolli frozen meals. I love the chicken Alfredo, mostly because it cooks up in one pan and ten minutes flat. At $5.99 I have never seen these bag meals cheaper. I always get one to have on hand. If I come home from work tired, I pop that in a pan and it keeps the temptation to eat out at bay.
Fresh and Easy only takes this $5 off coupon. Sure is easy that way. Cliff and I go together and tag team so that each of our baskets are as close to the required $20 as possible. It's almost like a date. How's that saying go? "The couple that saves together stays together."
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Somebody put Pipers gift "in the corner" of the Jersey City post office and left it there for almost a week! GRRR! Thankfully, she has it now!
I am bummed that the picture came out funky, but it was late when I finished this and I had to get it in the mail early the next day. This is the present for Piper that I have been dying to share. The picture sadly doesn't do it justice because you can't read the quotes. Also, it's a bit more puckery than I would have wanted. (Oh, sure the puckers show in the picture!) Still, for my first quilting attempt, I am happy.
I printed the quotes directly on muslin using fusible web that I had on hand to make it stiff enough to go through the printer. That plastic adhesive coating was then on the back of the pieces which made it a bit more tough to sew. I have since learned about using freezer paper to get fabric into a printer.
Piper is a huge movie fan and these are some of the quotes from chick flicks we have watched over the years...
"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."
"He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite tune. He can ride a pony backwards."
"Champ, did you love her?"
The pillow itself is a travel size pillow from Ana's Linens and the other fabrics are from my stash of odds and ends and vintage sheets.
Be prepared to see lots of printed stuff in the future!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
When I moved in to the apartment I went to town making my own "window mistreatments."
I wanted some to block the hot sun and others for decoration. I wanted them to be cheap and quick.
I needed a pair of heavy drapes for our southern exposure window. The bright CA sun cooks us in the summer and then the draft in the winter is pretty cold. So, I sewed an old pair of curtains inside a new pair of velvet drapes. Even with vertical blinds, and lined velvet drapes we get quite a bit of light coming in the room.
This is the other window which faces our balcony. It's pretty shaded. So I could get away with something decorative. This "mistreatment" is a scrap of fabric and the tie backs from our other drapes. It is all rigged up with a staple gun and some safety pins.
For the bathroom, I sewed two rectangles together with a bit of ruffle. I sewed the ends and then pulled the threads to gather it. I sewed on a pair of ribbons to each side of the rectangle and tied it all up. There was like a metal edge to this window so I couldn't staple this up. I ended up hot gluing velcro to the wall and then to the curtain. The sun is so strong in this window that the green gingham print has all but faded. Still, I like it.
There you have it, my contribution to show and tell.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Anywhoo, here is an awesome dip to try...
Words cannot express how much I love this dip!
2 (4oz.) cans of shrimp, rinsed and drained
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (no water!)
1 package of cream cheese
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup of each: minced celery, green onion, water chestnuts
½ tsp. dried dill weed
Heat soup to a boil, reduce heat and add cream cheese. Stir until smooth, cool a bit, and then add all other ingredients.
Serve hot or cold.
Usually we serve it with bread cubes or crackers, but one year a friend was on the Atkin’s diet and so we served it in big mushroom caps and they were great!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Can anyone give me some tips for using the rotary cutter? I need a remedial cutting class.
One problem is that the plastic ruler slips ever so slightly throwing off my straight line. Another problem is that the cutter jumps or skips causing an uneven cut. It has even jumped up on the ruler. I don't think I am a reckless "rotarian." I try to be careful.
Scissors on the other hand have always been my friend. My students often tell me that I am a good cutter. Granted, third graders are pretty easy to impress. I remind them that I have had a lot of practice. Actually, I'm so old that I went to school in the days when elementary school was all about cutting things out. It's not so much about the crafts today.
Anyway, after cutting out the squares for my I Spy quilt with the rotary cutter, I was very disappointed to find it time consuming, and awkward. I went back last night and used a post it note for a pattern and some good old scissors. Ahhh, much better.
I am pretty motivated to get going with this project after seeing this news feature about Delta airline employees who make quilts for a children's hospital in between flights. I fly quite a lot and have just recently flown cross country with Delta. It was quite a nice flight. Seeing how they make hundreds of quilts a year makes me even happier to have given them my business. I must confess, that right now we have to fly with the best price, so I am not particularly brand loyal. Still, if you want to feel good about someone in the airline business these days, take a few minutes and watch this clip.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Her experience got me thinking.
Here in the Southland and almost anywhere these days, survival preparedness includes sun protection.
I had also been looking for my next project. With a few hours of Dancing with the Stars on the telly, last night was a great night to sew. This hat came from Lotta Jansdotter's Simple Sewing.
I am a big fan of this book because it came with full size patterns in a little storage pocket. No enlarging patterns! No lost patterns!
I used a scrap of denim from my stash of $2 Loft odds and ends and a thrifted sheet. While I did have some issues with tension and my bobbin was acting up, it was an easy project. The book suggest taking several nights to make this. It did take me the full three hours of DWTS. I measure my sewing time in TV shows. While the length was prime time, the degree of difficulty was just an I Love Lucy.
The brim is a good size and this would be good for the playground. The fit is OK. I have a big 'ole head and the hat sits pretty high up there. This one shows the usual first time blips and bumps. Next time I might make the crown a bit shorter and wider to accommodate my "five head."
Since this one is a tad wonkey, it's going into the survival backpack. Soon, I will make another to keep in the car. And, if I am not totally sick of it, I hope to make another to stash in my desk for recess.
Monday, May 19, 2008
2. Piper's birthday is almost here! I can not wait for her to get her present. I mailed it a bit late so it is going to be for her party, not her actual birthday. Sorry Piper. Also, it was so hot in LA on Saturday that the chocolate bar I meant to include melted in the car with the AC on! Liquid I tell you! Since you can't mail melted chocolate next to finely crafted presents, I took it home, froze it and ate it in her honor.
3. Working on another great surprise and regretting telling friends and family about this blog. Hummpf. Sure would like the blog fodder.
4. Have a great day everyone!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Not bad for $7.99? I think the cover is bark cloth. It matches our bedroom room really well too.
Sewing inspiration hit when I discovered this new-to-me blog Cherryskin. In no time at all I had whipped up a pretty kitty of my own. I enlarged her pattern by 150% and made the skirt out of a bit of ruffle.
She might get herself a few stash busting sisters in the near future. Or, maybe I'll go to Joanne's and get that stuff so I can finish some important projects.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I am back at work now and gotta say, that a full time job really gets in the way of crafting!
Another setback for me has been the rising price of gas. I need to get three little things from Joannes in order to finish a few projects. Each night last week I thought about going, but I only had a quarter tank of gas and I was trying to put off a fill up. Joannes is out in the valley, so I have to cross Laurel Canyon to get there. It really is uphill both ways. The thought of spending $40 on gas just turns me off. Now, that's sad. Today I filled up at the "cheap" station ($3.89) and maybe tonight will be the night.
I have also cut back on the thrifting. I have just stopped at the one store that is on my way home from work. I did find a great chair for my sewing table. Alas,I went to the grocery store on that same trip home and I couldn't carry everything in. That great chair that I *had* to have is still in my car!
Is anyone else cutting back on the crafting or thrifting lately because of rising prices?
Anyway, I have been blogging about preparing for a potential disaster for the folks at California Volunteers. They gave me a wonderful survival back pack and I am working on filling out our disaster plan. But, I must confess that more of my time has been spent archiving our family photos on Flickr. I scanned hundreds of photos while I was at my parents house in Florida. Those cuties up there are my father with his older brother and sister. If there was a disaster, knowing that the family pictures are backed up somewhere on the net would make me feel better! I doubt that is what they meant by bloggigng about disaster preparedness, but hey it's true!
Monday, May 12, 2008
About ten years ago I found this great NJ dishtowel. It was love at first sight and I knew that someday I would decorate my kitchen around the dishtowel. My love for this dishtowel lead my family to give me my Grandmother's Florida table cloth as a joke. And, that was it, I was hooked on the vintage tablecloth. Once I had a bunch of tablecloths, I used them as inspiration for collecting fruit crate label artwork. The dishtowel had inspired the decor for the whole apartment!
When I first started reading blogs I was amazed to find a community of people who shared my love of dishtowels and tablecloths. Then I found the blog Misadventures of Mama N' Jack. Among other things, it's a tablecloth Mecca!
This week is Sarah's birthday! Happy Birthday Sarah!
She is so generously having a tablecloth giveaway! You know I signed up! She has asked that the winner not cut the tablecloth.
I love to cut up stuff and make new stuff. It's true that I did cut a table cloth to make this bag. (A bag that I carry every day and enjoy so much.) Still, you can see that we use and enjoy many tablecloths which will never be cut up! Never!
This picture is from Cliff's birthday. This Christmas while sitting out on the patio, we started playing around with the candles on the table. One thing lead to another and soon we were making a bottle candle. It was a lot of fun to watch the wax build up. As a surprise, my parents sent Cliff a kit of sorts to make his own Chianti candle. It has been fun. Can't say it's exactly my decorating aesthetic, but I can't deny that I enjoy sitting around watching the candle too.
Anyway, head over to Mama N Jack's and take a chance for one of her lovely tablecloths!
Oh, and see that chair with the tablecloth in the post below? Well, at the bottom of the post there is a chance to win a free pack of diapers that I got from California Volunteers! You can comment on my other blog to win a free pack of any kind of Pampers!
Saturday, May 10, 2008
The first step to disaster preparedness is knowing your risks!
I took a short quiz on preparedness. You can take it here.
Of the ten questions, I answered "no," as in not prepared, to nine of them! Yikes! My biggest risk is lack of effort!
Today I am going to talk about the disaster supply kit. I have known for many years that I should have three days of food and water on hand for an emergency. The reason I don't have it has been logistics.
Our apartment is fairly good sized, but it lacks storage. Where would I store food, water and clothes for three days?
I thought of storing it in a bin in my closet, but in an earthquake, I imagine that my clothes and boxes will all fall on the floor of my closet and bury my survival supplies. I also considered storing bins out on our balcony. But, again in an earthquake, if our building is structurally compromised I am not going out there! Maybe the trunk of our car? No, that is in the lower garage some six stories below us. Probably not a safe place after the earthquake!
My fears and concerns have been largely addressed by this wonderful disaster kit that I received from California Volunteers! My whole problem was that I was thinking too big! Water and food for three days means survival rations, not actual meals.
These are some of the items in my survival kit!
1. The first is an Emergency Ration bar . This little bar broken into serving rations will provide enough calories for survival for the two of us for three days! Although it says "pleasing lemon flavor" I am sure it will be quite gross. Still, it is the foundation. Now, I can keep other foods in my pantry and use and restock them as needed to supplement the kit, but the bare necessities are in there and it will last for up to five years! The ER Bar is available here for $2.95.
2. Next in the kit is "The Light Saver" a solar powered flashlight radio that can also charge a cell phone!! You can get one here.
3. Itty bitty first aid kit. This tiny box has a bunch of stuff, but no rubber gloves. I added a pair of those and will get a few more pairs soon. These kinds of kits are available everywhere.
4. The next item, Emergency Drinking Water in a pouch was a real eye opener for me. When they say drinking water for a day, they don't mean the huge water bottles I normally drink in a day, they mean enough to live. These pouches contain 4.225 oz and they reccomend drinking two a day. So for us, six pouches would be enough for three days. Compared to plastic water bottles, it takes up hardly any room and weighs very little packaged this way. Also these pouches have a five year shelf life. A six pack of these pouches is just over $1!
5. Many different brands of these face pads are out there. What a nice thing to wash your face when I imagine the air conditioning will be out!
6. Disinfecting wipes. Love it in a travel size!
7. This little silver pouch is an emergency blanket! When I was thinking about blankets, I was imagining, well...my woobie. Big, bulky, pluffy goodness. At the very least I was thinking sleeping bags. We have those things and can grab them, but this little emergency blanket is really what we need in a pinch.
8. A Pur Water Purifier Kit. I'm thinking this could be very handy since the above water pouches are just the bare necessity. This kit would help provide water for cooking and extra for drinking.
9. Flashlight with batteries.Also included in the kit was a box of baby wipes. We all know how handy those are!
QuakeKare.com has a wealth of information and sells a variety of these kinds of kits already made up. For about $100 you can get a really comprehensive kit. I plan to add a few additional things to my kit. I need to add an extra set of house keys, Purel, rubber gloves, matches, sunscreen, a can opener, toothbrushes and toothpaste, a hat for each of us and sunglasses, Tylenol, and a few other personal care products. I think I can squeeze in a pair of socks and underwear for both of us as well. There is a great checklist for creating your own kit here.
As for my storage concerns...
The basic kit fits under my sink! This vanity is located right by our front door on an interior wall so it's pretty safe and best of all out of sight!
I hope that this post has inspired you to make your own kit!
Soon I will blog about a family disaster plan. I am currently working on completing ours.
And, over at my other blog...I am giving away a coupon for a free pack of Pampers Diapers!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
My partner in the Sweet Goodness Spring Time in Paris Swap was Karen of Tattered Treasures.
When I arrived home from Florida I was greeted by a lovely box of goodies. This is the picture that Karen took.
Can you see the sweet Eiffel Tower charm on the package? It was created by Camille of Pretty Girl Things at Etsy. (Another wonderful Etsy dealer to add to my list!)
This banner and birdie are hanging on my mirror right in my craft corner. Deeelightful!
Now the amazing thing (other than the chocolate Toblerone- already gone) was that the little fleur di les dish keeper was actually the clown car of trims. Jsut when I thought I had seen it all more came out!
All this trim and more (it's not empty yet!) spilled out upon opening. Can you hear the gears in my head turning? So many possibilities! The pom pom trim will be horded tho.
The best thing of all was this gorgeous rose tablecloth! Karen suggested that since it had a few stains, I might cut it up and make something out of it. I might have. I have cut things up before, but much to Sarah's relief, ...I am not cutting this. No, it has already been pressed into service right here on this chair. Perfect.
Thank you Karen! You made my day! Merci! Merci beaucoup !
Oh, the backpack is to let you know that tomorrow I will be blogging with great relief about survival preparedness, my bad ceiling, and the kit that came today. Good news! Most of my emergency readiness fears have been put to rest right in this little backpack.
And the monkey, well that is Lady Monkey. She came out of hiding to smell the roses and to say hello to another monkey fan, Rebecca.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
While I was away, my dear friend Lisa wrote this article for her newsletter. It was all about how she was dreading an upcoming business trip, but she decided to change her view and look at it as an opportunity to learn and help others. The article felt important to me. I read it a few times and kind of filed it away, knowing that I would return to it later.
While in Florida I was able to spend a lot of time talking with my mother about our current situation and some of the decisions we need to make this summer. I have many supportive friends, but being able to connect with my mom was so important to me. We had a long heart to heart and a good cry right before I went to the airport and it was really hard to leave. I so wish we lived closer.
In line for the flight there were an assortment of rowdy good ole' boys, a very large man, and a man who was sweating profusely. I said a small prayer. "Oh Lord, please, please, I don't want to sit next to them on this flight."
I was super tired when I sat down for the first of two flights. I had a total a seven hours of travel ahead of me. Thankfully, I got about a half hour of sleep before the turbulence started.
I woke with a startle and happened to look at the girl who was sitting next to me. She was maybe twenty and asked me what time it was.
Me- I'm sorry I am not wearing a watch. I'm not really sure how long this flight is either.
Girl- I'm pregnant.
My thoughts- Oh Lord, you are kidding right? This is not happening to me right now!
My words- Congratulations!
Girl- Well, I don't know. I just lost my job and now I can't believe I am pregnant.
My thoughts- Really, is this some sort of joke?
My words- I am sorry to hear that.
Girl- Yeah, I left my husband to be a nanny and now that I am pregnant I can't work. I just can't believe this happened. I took two pregnancy tests and they were both positive. Do you think something I ate could have affected them?
My thoughts- Lord, you are funny! No, she's not the sweaty man! You answered my prayer! Thanks!
My words- No, I think they are pretty accurate these days.
Girl- Do you have children?
My words- No.
I hid my wedding ring under my sweater. I was not going to share my story here.
I flipped through my magazine absent mindedly, not really wanting to be an active listener to this conversation.
My words- Hmmm, I'm sorry.
Girl- I can't believe my luck. I have been trying to get out of my small town in Texas forever. I joined the army, but I have scoliosis. So, they kicked me out. I thought this job in Atalanta was going to be perfect, but now just my luck I am pregnant. I just wanted to save money to finish college and become a teacher. I guess it's good. God doesn't give you more than you can handle right?
My thoughts- OK, so this is a test. This is a test! God, I will play along here and I AM GOING TO PASS THIS TEST! I thought of Lisa's article and became present. I put away my magazine.
Me- Too bad you couldn't have worked for a while at least.
Girl- Well, they fired me as soon as they found out because they felt the work wouldn't be good for me and I couldn't change the kitty litter. It was such a good job. $300 a week. They had everything, a built in microwave, a pool. Now I have to go home without a job.
Me- Maybe you can work at a daycare and take your baby to work with you?
Girl- Daycare doesn't pay that much, besides my family lives in town so I will have built in daycare.
I told her that I was a teacher and gave her some suggestions about various grants for education and various internships. I told her about Head Start teacher training programs. I told her that while it isn't easy to get a teaching credential it is a good life, especially for moms. I told her she could do it step by step over time. She seemed to appreciate the knowledge.
Girl- I gave up my job at the 7-Eleven for this nanny job and now I have no job and a baby on the way. If something happens to this baby I won't have a job or a baby. I hope this baby lives. I worry so much.
Me- From all my friends, I know it is normal to worry in the beginning, but you will be OK. The baby will be fine.
Girl- They lived near a Cheesecake factory. I never got to go to the Cheesecake Factory.
The conversation went back and forth with her worries and my trying to reassure her that she and her baby will be OK.
For some reason, I thought of my friend Jen who's husband was my brother's best friend as a child. We were reunited very randomly through the magic of the internet. I had made her baby some Stardust Shoes and she just sent me a picture of Little A wearing them.
I wrestled with myself for quite some time. Would this girl think I was a stalker? Was I a glutton for punishment? I thought of Lisa's article.
Me- I know this is weird, but I make stuff and I make baby slippers and if you wouldn't mind giving me your address, I would like to send you some.
The girl smiled and gave me her address and it wasn't so weird after all. We talked for the remainder of the flight.
At no point was this an easy conversation for me. And, in no way do I think it was an accident. I am a teacher with 97 college/graduate credits and a built in microwave who longs to have family in town and a baby.
I did pass the test though, because on the next flight my seat partner was both deaf and mute.
No joke. I couldn't have made that up if I tried. God tests us and he is funny too.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Well, welcome to Sensible Chic -The Purse Challenge Edition
While in Santa Fe, I had the Springtime In Paris Swap on my mind. For one thing, our hotel had a sweet French cafe and so did every other corner. Pâtisserie reminds me of Paris in the spring or really, any other season.
In one fancy French shop I spotted this Vera Bradley bag:We'll call this the "inspiration bag."
Now, Vera Bradley bags took up a whole wall of the fancy French shop and frankly, the prints on most of her bags heavily resemble many of the French provincial linens in the store.
See for yourself: French Provincial Linens VS Vera Bradley Fabric Collection.
Turns out Vera Bradley is a company from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Très Américain!
Anyway, while studying this bag I noticed that it's construction wasn't too challenging. I made a mental note to keep an eye out in thrift stores for a basket like bag. Maybe for the swap project?
In California we call making mental notes "manifesting." It's about sending our intentions out to the universe.
Well, like clockwork I manifested a potential bag at GoodWill Santa Fe.
The first step was to cut off dear Aunt Rosie's embroidered handiwork. Credit where credit is due, those were some beautifully even stitches. Also, adhered like nails to the basket.
Thankfully I remembered a Pampered Chef demonstration where the kitchen shears had cut a penny. Even with the wonder scissors it took a lot of effort to cut this band of iron clad embroidery.
Inside was a seriously gross and dirty shower curtain type lining.
Free at last!
Getting the old, discolored hot glue out of the basket weave was another story. I felt like a dentist and the patient had a serious tarter problem.
Another challenge was deciding weather or not to save the grody lining. (I haven't said "grody" since 8th grade, but when a word fits, use it.) I wanted to toss it quick, but it did make a perfect pattern for the new clean, crisp light blue cotton lining.
I had planned on looking around for some provincial style napkins or something to Frenchify the bag a bit more, but then I opted to just use some stuff from my stash.
I machine quilted the black and white print on the diagonal. Although the inspiration bag also has quilting, I did this to give it a "Chanel feel." It's a subtle nod to real French design.
In the end, inspiration bag $57 "Sensible Chic" bag $3. Quelle affaire !
Comments from your crafty buddies were dancing in your head.
But, the birthday-girl-to-be reads your blog.
So you have to keep it a secret.
That would be a bummer, huh?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
These mini animal pans are from the Tokyo Japanese Outlet in West LA. The raccoon is a jello mold and I never make Jello, but I could. not. resist. Jungle Green from my class loves raccoons with a fierce loyalty. I think I may have to make a batch for the Crayons. Of course, the thought of making 17 individual raccoon jellos with one little pan isn't so cute. We'll see...
Cliff will absolutely get some kitty pancakes when he comes home from Scotland.
Speaking of Cliff in Scotland, I have sooo much respect for our military wives. It's been a week and I really miss him!