Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haul out the.... dishcloths



One simple thing I enjoy each year at Christmas is using my supply of Christmas dish towels, pot holders and oven mitts. Over the years I have received them as gifts and bought some myself. As you can see I have a drawer full of them. I just switched out my regular dish towels and pot holders with the Christmas ones. A Christmassy touch that takes about 5 minutes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday's Simple Christmas Idea

As I've gotten older and my children have grown up, I have less desire to spend a lot of time doing Christmas decorating. I love the decorations, but its a lot of work, especially when its time to take it down.

So as part of my simple farmhouse Christmas this year, I want to simplify decorating. I have been thinking about what kind of things I want to use and what can be left in the box in storage. I will definitely put out some Nativity scenes that I have collected over the years, because they depict the real meaning of Christmas.

Do you have some out of season pillows laying around? I do! I have Fall themed pillows that will go into a box until a later time.... unless.... I can figure out how to incorporate them into my simple Christmas theme.

A no-sew option would be to simply turn the pillows over. If you check some of yours, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that they are a solid red, green, gold or beige/cream color. If so, just flip them.

I flip this "sister" pillow during Christmas every year. Here's the front:



And here's the back, a perfect Christmas green.



Also, with a minimum of sewing skills you can make removable pillow covers to use through the holiday season. After Christmas, just take them off, fold them up and store them until next year. There is a simple tutorial for one way to make a removable cover listed under "Tutorials" on the left side bar of my blog, or just cover the pillow the traditional way and after Christmas, carefully remove enough stitches to remove the cover from the pillow.

Measuring:



Covered:



The back with an envelope opening:



Two covered pillows:



The insides of the smaller one:



I am incorporating a few touches of Christmas into the farmhouse and haven't even opened a box of Christmas decorations yet.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Simple Farmhouse Christmas Plans and Organization

Christmas Table Runners:



I recently purchased a kit for making an easy and quick table runner. It was so simple that I made another one.

Also, now that Thanksgiving, 2010 is a memory, my efforts have turned to getting organized and preparing my home for Winter. This means that I am organizing my personal life, homemaking and Christmas plans

I pulled out my organizer/notebook and updated it by purchasing a few items from the Dollar Store. Some folders with pockets, a pretty composition book, a shopping/to-do-list pad, a zipper pouch and a 2011 calendar.

The folders with pockets will be used for organizing bills to be paid. I like to budget and organize bills by the week. I find that certain bills are due each of the 4 weeks of each month. I have a list of the bills that should be paid each week in each folder. When a bill comes in I put the part that gets mailed along with its envelope in the appropriate folder. If the bill is drafted or paid on line, the list helps me to make sure the amount is written down in the checkbook.

One pocket folder will be used for Christmas receipts, shopping lists and to do lists. Each year I list all the people on my shopping list, items purchased with the cost, and if its been wrapped. I also like to write down a plan for our Christmas menu and to do lists for things like decorating and handmade gifts.

My organizer/notebook also contains menu ideas, a grocery shopping list, phone numbers and addresses.

First thing this morning I made a list of things I wanted to do today in the composition book. I would say I finished 75% of the things on the list. Completed items included: finishing laundry, including putting it away; deep cleaning and decluttering the living room in preparation for Christmas, vacuuming all the floors, cleaning out the shade garden, watering houseplants, cleaning bathrooms.

I plan to keep Christmas decorating very simple this year. I want to use some handmade things such as the table runners shown above, pillows, wall hangings, holiday themed napkins and coasters.




Well, that's what's going on at the farmhouse this week. I hope to post pictures of some more simple handmade Christmas items this week.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

God's Bounty in Mid-Autumn

I am wishing all of you a blessed Thanksgiving and hope you are enjoying the mid-Autumn, where ever you are. Its so hard to enjoy this time of year, if we are focused on Christmas already. So here are a few pictures from my yard this week, reflecting that its still Autumn.




Monday, November 22, 2010

A Little Bit of Home

I thought I'd join TABLETOP TUESDAY at A Stroll Through Life this week by showing one side of the farmhouse dining room. There's nothing too special here, but it feels like HOME to me.





Adding to the feeling of home is this candle sitting on a heart shaped braided trivet.



I basically ignored this Christmas Cactus all summer, moved it indoors before the first frost and look! I promise to give it more love this year.

Tea Cups and Plates

I've decided that I really like dishes. Not sets of dishes, but odd, pretty, orphaned or unusual dishes. I like to use them for different things such as for their initial intended purpose, to hang on the wall or other decorative purposes, to use for drainage for plants, and to make china cup bird feeders.

I used the hint in my previous post, visited some thrift stores during the past week and hit the dish/cup table in several. I didn't spend much money in exchange for the joy they bring me. In one store, there was sale of $1.00 for all you can fit in a paper bag. Another store had a 50% off everything in the store..



House plant drainage dish.



I have a couple of ideas for the china cups and saucers. For one thing, they make beautiful bird feeders. I have asked my hubby to make some of them for me next Spring! I can't wait to see them amongst a bed of old fashioned Zinnias. Here are two blogs that have pretty pictures and instructions for making the teacup bird feeders: PLEASURES OF HOMEMAKING and STONE GABLE.

I also have an idea of displaying my favorite cups and saucers in the dining room with a table topper quilt or a lace table cloth.











Coffee Cups! A different one each day!



Plates to display or to use. The fruit one and the wheat one, especially lend themselves to Autumn decorating!







I like things that have character. Just a few are scrap quilts, odd orphaned dishes and old houses.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Frugal Tip of the Week

This week's frugal tip is a quickie:

If you are traveling or just want to know where thrift stores are located in your area go to THE THRIFT SHOPPER.COM. Enter any city and state in the search box and you will be given a list of the thrift stores in that area, the address, phone number and a map with directions.

I have often been traveling through new areas and just wanted to do some thrift store shopping for the fun of it. But, I had no idea where they were located. So from now on I will check this site before going on the road.

Its also helpful to be able to find new thrift stores in the area you live.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Need a Ride?



I have added two more blog lists to my side bar that may be of interest to some of you.

For the deal seekers among you, I have listed my favorite coupon and deal blogs. If you need to know what's on sale and what coupons are available to use in conjunction with the sales, I'm confident one of these blogs will fit the bill.

I have been slack (aka lazy) about using coupons lately and am feeling a coupon frame of mind coming on! During this time year the best deals can be found. I am still using grocery items bought last year right around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For the sewing, quilting and crafting enthusiasts among you, I have listed some of my favorite crafty blogs.

So what ever mood I am in, crafting or couponing, I can always find inspiration somewhere on my blog and hope you will be inspired too.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Shrimp and Sausage Fried Rice

First I would like to say Thank You to all the veterans! Where would we be without you? I have many veterans in my life who are very special men. If I multiply my own veterans by millions, there are so many people out there to thank. So, as a church sign I saw this week says, "If you love your freedom, thank a veteran".

I love it when a plan comes together! Last night after work, not knowing what we would eat for supper as usual, I stared into the fridge trying to come up with something.. There was a bowl of left over rice from Sunday's Roast and gravy meal.

The final dish isn't that extraordinary, but I was pleased to come up with a delicious meal on the spot.

This is what I came up with.

I sauteed some onion and bell pepper in 1 tablespoon cooking oil. The bell pepper is a sweet pepper we grew in pots that turned red in the fall, but the taste is the same.

It smelled divine while it was cooking!



I gathered the ingredients together and put them in the bowl with the leftover rice. I thawed a few shrimp that come fully cooked and frozen with the tails on. The shrimp are frozen separately so you can use only the amount you want. Just run cold water on them in a colander for about 5 minutes, then pull the tails off. The sausage is "lite" Polska Kielbasa. I cut 2 serving size pieces into small wheels. The soy sauce is "lite" store brand, which really cuts down on the sodium.



After the onion and bell pepper had cooked enough, I dumped all of it into the pan, added about 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce and cooked over medium heat, stirring often until all of it was hot and the sausage was slightly browned.

It turned out great! If I had used brown rice, the dish would have been even more healthy, but I used what I had. The leftover rice was the basis for the entire meal. I would have liked to have added some peas, but had none on hand.

This will be a repeat at our house for sure!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Frugal and Green Sewing and Quilting Tips

I really love scrap quilts, as you can probably tell if you look at any of my completed quilts ( the side bar of my other blog, Angel Scraps Quilting). Although I do buy more fabric than I should, the majority of my quilts are made with leftover fabric, clothing and fabric that was given to me.

Quilting can be expensive! The cost of quality fabric, batting and thread is shocking to me at times. I really try to make my quilts using what I have on hand, supplemented by small amounts of purchased coordinating fabrics.

My most recent plan for using scraps normally thrown away is to make a selvage quilt! Of course, I am not the one who first thought of this. There are many selvage quilts on the internet. For just a few look HERE, HERE and HERE, if you haven't seen one before. A selvage quilt is the ultimate way to quilt green and frugally.

I have dedicated one of my plastic drawers to store the selvages that I will "one day" use to make my quilt. There's a lot of pink in there right now because I just finished making some pink projects.



I have plastic drawers for all sizes of fabric strips which I cut and sort as I go when making quilts or other projects. I have drawers for 1 1/2 inch strips, 2 inch strips, 2 1/2 inch strips, and strips smaller than 1 1/2 inch which I label "strings".

For example the below picture shows a small string left after cutting the strips needed to make the binding for the baby girl's quilt that I just finished. That string will go in a plastic drawer, which is bulgingly full.



I love it that I know I could probably sew contentedly the rest of my life without ever buying any fabric, if I had to, just using the scraps and other fabric I have accumulated, most of which was at no cost.

Other low cost quilting projects that I have been planning long term are:

1. A quilt made from men's cotton dress shirts. I have been saving these from family and also inexpensive purchased ones from thrift stores, etc.

2. A string quilt using the strings I have been accumulating.

3 Scrap quilts of all kinds.

4. Memory quilts made from a loved one's clothes.

The free quilt batting that I won from Quick Quilts came last week!




I will use this for a special quilt of unknown design sometime in 2011!

There are some frugal alternatives to using purchased quilt batting. An old blanket or quilt that has been laundered could be used for the batting. If its inside the quilt and the color doesn't show through the quilt top, no one is going to see it anyway. I haven't used this method, but am sure the quilt would be just as warm and cuddly as it would be using a new purchased quilt batting.

I also save most of the leftover pieces of quilt batting. They can be pieced together for small projects such as crib quilts. I also use the small pieces for quilted totebags, purses, coasters, etc.

I would love to make a quilt using nothing purchased! I could do a series of posts showing how it was made. The backing fabric could be pieced from stash and scraps as well as the front. Maybe soon!

Usually this time of year my quilting and sewing slows down dramatically until after the first of the year. I plan to keep hand quilting the Grandma Quilt and continue working on some quilts in progress. But, will probably not have any more finishes of bed size quilts this year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Frugal Tip of the Week



Since my household consists of just my hubby and me, we don't use a huge amount of milk any more. I discovered recently that buying organic milk is a good choice for us, both nutritionally and for frugal reasons. While a half gallon of organic milk costs $3.50 or more, the "use by" date is as much as a month long. So we will always use the entire carton of milk before it goes bad. After a little internet research I found that the reason organic milk last longer is that it is exposed to higher temperatures during the pasteurization process.

So, if we had a large family who drank a lot of milk, organic milk wouldn't be cost wise, but with a small family, it's something to consider.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A couple of finishes...

I finished up the two pink girlie projects I have been working on.

Sewing on the binding:






Finished quilt with label:



Quilted tote bag:



I also finished the little boy quilt... quilted and bound! Picture to come later.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

A Cozy Day

Its been a wonderful Fall day here... overcast, temperature in the 40s, breezy and the forecast of our first hard freeze tonight. Today I stayed home and have not ventured outside except to pluck a bell pepper from its Mama before the freeze tonight.

To fulfill my homemaking dreams, today I planned to do cooking, cleaning, laundry and sewing. Finished the laundry, have been sewing off and on contentedly.... no cleaning to speak of, and I turned this......



Into this.



Yummy Vegetable Beef Soup! The ingredients: A large can of Veg-All, 1 regular size can of corn, 2 cans of diced tomatoes, a small can of tomato paste, leftover green beans from the fridge, one celery rib, onion, bell pepper, browned ground beef and enough water to make it the right consistency. For flavoring: a small amount of salt, pepper, oregano, onion powder and a bay leaf .

Hubby brought these veggies in to save them from tonight's forecasted freeze. Not sure how I will cook them. I love squash and zucchini in June, but in November..... not so sure!

i

I finished Princess Ella's totebag and am almost through sewing on the binding on Little Miss Lily Marie. Only the label remains which I hope to finish today as well. I'll post pictures in a couple of days.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stick-to-it-ive-ness

Sometimes you just have to keep going and keep your goal in mind. I am determined to finish the 2 projects I have been working on this week, no matter what.

Last night I finished quilting "Little Miss Lily Marie", but not without mishaps! Twice when quilting near the edge the excess backing fabric was turned under and got caught in the stitches. After very carefully removing the stitches, thankfully I was able to make it look ok. Then I discovered I was almost out of white thread, but made it right down to the last quilting stitch. I kept stopping to fill the bobbin, trying not to use up all the thread on the spool.



One bright spot in the quilting of this quilt is that my thread didn't break a single time! That is a first and I'm not sure what, if anything, I did differently. I have quilted quilts when the thread broke constantly.

I am trying to branch out into new machine quilting patterns. I love the basic meander stitch I have been doing and have practiced it enough to produce decent results. I thought for this little girl's quilt a looping meander stitch would give it a fun, whimsical touch. The jury is still out on whether or not I really like the way it turned out, but what's done, is done!



After finishing quilting the quilt, my attention then turned to the binding. I wasn't happy with the fabric I originally planned to use, so I looked through my "pink" fabrics and found another one that I thought would look nice. Of course, there wasn't "quite" enough of this one to go all the way around the quilt.

SO.... a visit to the fabric store is in order today to purchase white thread and enough fabric for the binding.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Moving Right Along

The Big Sister's quilted tote bag in progress:



"Little Miss Lily Marie", pin basted and ready to quilt. I have set up my workstation for machine quilting, which means positioning the sewing machine so that the cutting table is behind it and a card table is to the left. I plan to quilt this crib size quilt and "Little Boy Blue Two" before I move the sewing machine back to its normal position.





Have a great Tuesday!

A Tiny Frugal Tip #1

Welcome to a new series of posts that I plan to do, called "A Tiny Frugal Tip". They'll be short and sweet, but hopefully you...