Thursday, March 25, 2010

I "heart" book sales...

I stumbled onto the library book sale last Monday. We went for Story time and walked out with a glorious stack of new treasures...all old, worn, and full of great stories and illustrations.

These book plates were on the free shelf...drawings by the author of "Where the Sidewalk Ends?" His names escapes me and I am too tired too Google it.
Here is a glimpse of the first outfit I am making for Evelyn. I will share better pictures and details soon. I got the buttonholes done Tuesday night and now I just have to hem the pant legs and then on to the next little dress.
I have been away the last couple of days. David surprised me with a concert to see the phenomenal David Gray last night. I didn't even know where we were going until we got there. We drove to Indianapolis, left the kids with a dear friend and then had a wonderful evening just the two of us. (Sorry Amanda, if I had known where I was going I would have at least given you a call...so close we were!) The concert has to have been the best I have ever been to. I adore his music anyway, but live, David Gray is absolutely amazing! We were five rows from the stage and I couldn't have asked for better. My husband is so incredible...really, really good to me.
We will be on the road again for a few more days starting tomorrow for family reasons. So I will be gone from this space, but I will be back next week.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Pillows...

I am in love with blue, red, and brown as a combination these days. We have brown walls and a blue couch, so I am now bringing in touches of red throughout the room. I made these these pillows for our blue couch in our living room and I love them. I wanted something fun that would be nice for Spring and Summer and just adding these brightened up the room. I made them with envelope backs for easy removal for washing.

This is a before shot of my beloved rocking chair. My Dad salvaged this chair from the drama department of the local high school where I grew up. They were throwing it away. He refinished it and got it done shortly before I was born. It has always been a fixture in my life and when I moved out on my own, Dad gave it to me. My Mom was forever changing the fabric on the seat to suit her tastes and decor at the time, so it has always been a changing canvas. When I got it, I put on the above green fabric and made the gold pillow. It fit perfectly with my apartment, but hasn't worked in our current home for awhile now. On Friday I changed it.

I used a creamy linen that I already had on hand and I repurposed the golden pillow and another one of the same size thats fabric also no longer worked. It is now bright and a perfect fit in the living room. I was surprised that it only took my about an hour and half total to get the seat recovered and the pillows made. I thought it would be a project that I would work on throughout the weekend, but I had it done on Friday night.
My sewing motivation continues. Now I am cutting out the pieces for a few Summer outfits for Evelyn and working on a few things for the kid's Easter baskets. I am having such fun and it is so nice to be interested in creating and crafting again. I also managed to cross a few mending things off of my to do list this morning. They had been camped on there for awhile: restitching the binding on a blanket, reattaching the stem on a felt strawberry, and reattaching one of the birds that had come off of Evelyn's bird mobile. All done and no longer sitting around begging for attention...feels good to have those done.
As you can see my little ones like the changes to the rocking chair...I'm with you Pussycats, I with you! :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's old is new again...

I bought this little bench several years ago. It was painted white and had a truly awful tapestry fabric on the seat. When I set out to recover it I found the above retro print under the tapestry and I loved it! I painted it a gray/ green and I have been happy with it since...until the last few months. I just felt it needed a change...an update...
I am very pleased with the end result. It feels bright, clean, and new and I kept the same color paint. It's amazing how a small amount of 50% off fabric can bring a new feel to a piece of furniture. Now that it is tucked back safely in the bathroom, I have hopes to recover my precious rocking chair and make a new pillow for it as well. That is my project for the next couple of days. This pregnancy is making me want to redo and freshen up everything to get ready for the new baby. I hope I can get it all done!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Hunt for Green...

The shamrock craft...glue, water, brushed on with green crepe paper

From our "Green Hunt"...
Grass
Plastic around a tree
Street sign
Glass
Mailbox
Green letters on a sign
Green shutter on a house

Green background on a sign

Paint
Garden hose
And look at those beauties. They are popping up in my flower beds and making me so, so happy. Elijah loved the hunt and insists that we do other colors too. Will do!
Off for another walk while the weather holds. The forecast is calling for possible snow on Sunday...say it with me, "yay."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A birthday gift...


It's finished and has arrived safely to it's birthday boy, my nephew Chase. I had been working on this little driving quilt for around a year in starts and stops.
It's intended for driving cars on and it's a nice portable size to be able to take on road trips.
I think the block pattern is called drunkards path. I couldn't find a good working pattern so I made my own on graph paper. That had it's own problems. Sometimes the proportions were a little off, but I made it work as best as I can. I used all the bright and colorful fabrics I could round up from my stash, embroidered the bright yellow dashes down the blacktop road, and machine quilted it with a soft cotton batting. I also made my own bias binding from a bright orange and white polka dot cotton.
If one imagines hard enough they are surely fields, ponds and lakes...a nice scenic route for a matchbox car to take.
Now it's off to make new pillows for the couch and to recover a couple of chairs.
And a happy St. Patty's Day to all! We are all decked out in green and we are going to for a walk later this morning in search of green things. I also plan on having the kids do a Shamrock craft after nap time this afternoon. Tonight's menu will be oven roasted corned beef, mashed potatoes, cabbage coleslaw, and yeasty, buttery rolls. I might make a batch of homemade vanilla pudding to round out the feasting. Anyone want to come over? There will be leftovers for days!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My new favorite thing...


I found this 1960's Adler manual typewriter on Craigslist.
The keys stuck a bit, but after use by me and the kids it is working like a charm and the ribbon is still in good shape.
The kids enjoy tapping away on the keys and I love the "ding" of the bell when it's time to move to the next row.
I thought this would be a fun component to our days. Plus, now the kids will be able to relate a little better to how things used to be.
Plus, it just makes me unabashedly happy to have it in the house.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A little bit to see...






Things were better the next day after my sob story last week.
Sleep and prayer make all the difference.
I attended the Hearts at Home Conference last weekend. Wow, over 4,000 moms communing in Christ together...that's powerful.
We have been playing around here, enjoying the warmer days. My crocus and tulip bulbs are coming up.
Walks, story time, MOPs, crockpot meals, getting up early for quiet time...I have been re-energized.
Anyone else making Corned Beef for St. Patty's day? I can't wait...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not my best work...

Today was one of those seriously hard days...no reason to cause these troubles except maybe my attitude.
I woke up dog tired...not sure why and then proceeded to barely drag myself through the day.
I yelled at the kids way too much.
I was/am grumpy.
The master bath is still not cleaned...sheesh.
No inspiration to cook.
No inspiration to be the mama and wife I want and need to be.
The new pillows didn't get made,
nothing got knitted,
no walks were taken outside.
Tomorrow will be better...
Just writing that gives me a sigh of relief.
It has just been one of those days.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Late Winter Delights...








The Juncos, Cardinals, Woodpeckers and probably a squirrel or two will thank us.
Take two really old bagels
slather on peanut butter
sprinkle with bird seed.
loop through with twine
hang from a tree that will allow bird watching
wait...

It was so nice today that when we were done we crunched through the remaining snow and soaked up some serious Vitamin D. I even found a lady bug that I can't imagine how it has survived through the Winter. I placed he/she on the sunny side of a tree and wished it luck.
We also put out fresh peanuts in a our mesh hanger and a suet block for the woodpeckers. I just have to clean the large bird feeder and we should be ready for Spring...now if I could find a super bird bath for super cheap, that would make the birds and this Mama thrilled. Craigslist? I'm going to go looking.
I have had such a soft spot for birds these last couple of years. It strikes me as silly since I remember as a child and young adult not understanding why anyone would want to watch birds and learn their names. Now I can't get enough. I have bird books, binoculars, and I am always plotting ways that I can entice more birds to our yard. I want to share nature and the outdoors with the children and this is an easy way to learn about the world from our sliding door. Whether or not we can get outside on a given day, this is a way that we can have nature close by. Elijah is starting to learn some of the names of local birds. I am thinking that we will do a unit of study the Spring and Summer where we learn about birds and maybe native prairie plants as well. We could do coloring pages, make paper mache birds, learn bird songs, take field trips, plant more native plants in our yard...we'll see how I do being pregnant and all...but, I am excited and interested, can't you tell?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Menu Planning...

See that up there? That is evidence that the sun was shining into my kitchen window yesterday. It felt so good to feel it on my skin as I walked to the mail box and out to collect the bird feeders. Spring, oh, Spring...come quick!
Menu planning...oh my, it has been my saving grace these last months. I can't believe that I haven't been doing it for years. It just makes things so much easier. I spend a couple of hours each month planning for the next month. I use a blank month sheet that my Mom gave me a large tablet of. I usually only plan for dinners as lunch is leftovers or things like Macaroni and Cheese or PB and J. I don't lock myself in either, depending on what's on sale or what we are in the mood for, I feel free to switch things up as the month goes along. Once I do my planning I attach all recipes needed and the month sheet to a clip board that I hang next to the refrigerator. It's a good place for me to reference what's up coming.
Then each week when I get the Highlander and Logli ads, I review what I have listed for the week, what's on sale and I then make any changes. I usually only do the major grocery shopping every two weeks, but if there is a killer deal on something I will stop by the store. Plus, we usually need a staple item, like milk or yogurt from time to time on the off shopping week. I have sworn off Walmart all together. The stores I now frequent do double coupons and tend to have great sales on meat and other items on a regular basis. I just have to watch and then stock my freezer to tide us over until the next sale. I have saved lots on things like chicken and bread this way and I have a nice pantry full of canned goods because of shopping sales. These methods have helped me plan our meal more effectively as well.
On a rolling cart that I have in my kitchen I stash all of my latest food magazines and any recipes that I have come across that I want to get into the meal rotation. It's a great place for them for easy reference and to keep clutter off of my table and counters. I file away the magazines or recycle as needed.
This weeks menu is:
Creamy Tomato Penne
Asian Beef Stew and Rice
Shredded Apricot Pork Sandwiches
Big Salads
Royal Round Steak
Leftovers

I always allow for a least one dinner of leftovers to clean out the fridge and to try not to waste any food. I am also using my crock pot a great deal more which makes things even easier. I may only list the main course, but we always have vegetables and/or fruit as well. I try to keep us balanced, but sometimes grilled cheese and chips is all I can manage and I try not to feel too bad about it.
I file away past months menus for reference, plus I try to make notes as to how the recipe was recieved and if it was something that I should make again or never dare to think of making again. This doesn't always happen, but I do try to make an effort.
What tricks or tips do you have that makes cooking easier? I would love to know.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A lot of a little...

We have been having beautiful days here...it is sunny and warmish today (35 degrees, great for here) and I am thinking of bopping out to get the bird feeders to give them a good cleaning. Seeing the sun and feeling it on my face gives me a jolt of energy, plus I slept deeply last night with no wake up from the little ones, which is the norm.
I think I see a few starts for my crocuses and though I haven't seen any other signs of Spring yet, I know they are on their way.
I haven't tackled the microwave or the oven yet, but I do have Asian Beef Stew going in the crock pot and all my meals planned out for the next month. It has really helped me to cut our food budget this way and it's nice not to have to come up with meals on the fly everyday. That way I have more time for knitting and sewing!
I am finishing up a Winter hat for Evelyn (a little late, but it will fit her next year too), a maternity sweater for me, and I am furiously trying to finish sewing my Nephew Chase's birthday gift. He turned two on Sunday and I hate sending it late, but, alas that's the way it is. I will post pictures of it when it has been sent. It's been a fun project.
Tomorrow I hope share more of my kitchen ramblings, how I meal plan etc. Plus a list of upcoming meals and possibly a recipe or two. See you then!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Into the kitchen...

Kyrie over at are so happy has declared March as the month of the kitchen. Brilliant! I will join her. This will include recipes, cleaning, organizing etc. It's perfect timing as I was already in that mode so to speak. I'm seriously nesting!
I have been knitting. I have made lots of these dish cloths...for other people. I was in true need of some new cloths myself so I pulled out scraps of leftover cotton yarn and set to work. I made four, which should tide me over for a couple of years...glorious. They scrub well and don't seem to stain. The pattern is from the 1st Mason Dickson knitting book...the pattern name escapes me. I will post it ASAP, if anyone wants to get the book and set to work themselves. It is a great, easy pattern.
Other then that I have been deep cleaning nook and crannies of the kitchen that tend to get neglected...the fronts of the oven and dishwasher, the range hood, the track of the sliding door, going through and recycling a huge stack of cooking magazines etc. I hope to clean the microwave and the oven this week and maybe inventory the freezers if I can manage it.
Tonight's dinner is tacos/burritos/quesadillas using leftovers...yummy.
Won't you join in the fun?