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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gonna get organized again

I have a quote stuck in my head but I can't remember where I heard it or read it.  The quote goes something like this..... When a person doesn't have time to get things done, they compensate by collecting the supplies instead.  I don't think it's an exact quote but close enough. 

For a frugal minded person this quote is troublesome.  Watching the shows "Hoarders" and "Hoarders, Buried Alive" doesn't help my thinking either.  If you haven't watched either of those shows you really should.  Some of the shows will gross you out with creepy crawlies and stinky gross stuff like mounds of adult diapers or science experiments all over the house.  There is some useful information on the shows if you take the time to really listen to the organizers and therapists ideas. 

Now about me.  I am a DIY, re purpose, discount bin buyer, craft maker, quilter, wanna be artist, type person.  I save things for DIY projects.  For example, instead of throwing this dish cloth away because it's starting to ravel apart,

I take it completely apart, save the string, and when I have time, I make the dish cloth again.  The only difference in remaking an old cloth and making a completely new dish cloth is the string.  I could buy more string IF I had the funds.  The frugal person in me says don't use money for string because the old string is still usable.  

Here's another example.  Plastic bags.

I fold them into plastic bag origami.  Later, when I have time, I plan to cut them into strips for plarn.  Plarn is plastic yarn.  In that pile of plarn I see several colorful rugs or table covers or something else useful.  I also have old vcr tapes and cassette tapes wound into balls of plarn ready to use.  The frugal person in me says don't pay hard earned money for rugs or table covers when I can make them myself for free.

Here's another example,

Cardboard.  Whenever I have time, I will use this cardboard in making my cardboard furniture.  Many of these pieces have already been marked with an outline for cutting the pieces just waiting for me to find the time to put it all together.  You might see just a pile of cardboard but I see a breakfast bar, a quilting thread cabinet, chairs for visitors to sit on,  a spice jar cabinet, lamps, desk.... etc.  The frugal minded person in me says why spend money I can't afford to spend on custom made furniture when I can make it myself almost free. 

I have a quilting fabric stash, machine quilting template and tool stash, artist paint/pencil/paper supply stash, left over t-shirt fabric for making undergarments stash,  fabric dyeing supplies stash, rug making fabric and plarn stash, food storage stash, etc.  Everything a frugal minded, DIY, crafter, quilter, rug maker, wanna be artist could possibly need.  You get the idea?

Anyone who has been reading my blogs for a while knows I've often talked about my house looking like a garage.  I don't have storage space anywhere.  No garage, no basement, no outside shed, no attic space for storing stuff.  Everything must find a home inside my house.

Add to the saving of stuff to be frugal is the fact I don't have a car.  It's not like I can wake up one morning and tell myself.... today I'm gonna make a cardboard cabinet;  get into the car to find what I need to make it; then throw away what's left over after it's finished.  OR wake up and say.... today I'm going to make a rugs; then get into the car to go buy scrap fabric and old vcr tapes at the thrift store.   OR wake up and say..... today I'm gonna make bras and underwear then go to a fabric store to buy fabrics. 

I get ideas for things to make then take weeks or months gathering the supplies to actually make them.  I plan purchases around discount bin shopping on the infrequent trips I chauffeur my SIL for her shopping day.  I put out a request for my friends to save things for me that I can use to make items I need or simply want to create.... like cardboard or upholstery samples or baby food containers.  I start gathering stuff months before I actually start making things from it. 

Then there is my working schedule.  Quilting gives me money to buy the things I cannot make myself.  If I don't quilt, I don't have money to buy food or pay for utilities.  Machine quilting is not something I can load a quilt on the machine then push a button for it to get done.  It takes ME sitting there moving the machine to earn a few dollars each day.  If I'm at the machine, I'm not creating the stuff I spent so many weeks and months gathering supplies for.  Pretty soon a room that was completely empty only 4 months ago now looks like this.

To be continued......

Monday, November 29, 2010

Before and after

I found a handyman that doesn't charge an arm and a leg for his work.  It's very hard to find a handyman that will work with me as my budget allows.  Most want to do everything at once instead of in small sections.  All done at once means lots of money but in sections means smaller amounts to come up with in my budget.  It only took me several years to find him.  This is what he did today.  The corner of the house before.

The corner of the house after.

Above the window before.

Above the window after.

The back of the house before.

The back of the house after.

He ran out of wood so he'll be back another day to do more repairs.  His truck is in the shop which meant he couldn't go to the hardware store.  He walked here from his house.  My house looks like it's ready for a coat of paint doesn't it?  Well he's going to do that for me too but in the spring when the weather is getting warmer not colder like now.  When he comes back in a few days he'll be working on other places on the outside that are rotting away.  What he is doing is closing up any outside areas that might let rain get into the walls which would cause even more damage. 

It almost feels like Christmas.  Hmm.... he sorta looks like Santa.  Almost white hair and beard but he's quite thin.  Having the repairs done looks so much better..... even without the paint.  100% better!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Interesting site

A few days ago I got an email from someone asking if I would mind creating a link to his site on my blog.  Of course I wanted to check it out first.  I get some really strange request sometimes.  Some just don't make much sense.  I'm also always fearful of adding stuff from people I don't know. 

Well, I've decided to go ahead and tell you about this one.  This page on his site contains 50 links to interesting things to do with your family.  The links on his page take you to different places on the net.  Maybe you'll find some of them useful.  I know I sure did.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Window quilts

GRRRR!  Dang window quilts! I finally have the time to install the window quilts I made a few weeks back.  Yes, the same quilts I've tried to get made and put on my windows for a couple of years. These quilts are to replace window quilts I took down to wash and found had dry rotted.  I get out the new hardware I've saved for a long time.

I finish cutting the yardsticks I use for the inserts.

I go to install them and every gosh darned window quilt is exactly 10 inches too short!  All eleven quilts are short.  How did that happen?  I haven't a clue but it's a real DUH moment for me.  All that work and not a single window quilt is the right size.   So I cut some fabric and add it to the top of the window quilts and install them anyway.  See the extra fabric at the top of this one being installed?

Oh well, I did plan to make more window quilts later, in pretty colors, one at a time.  My plans haven't changed.  These window quilts will work for now because the idea is to cut my energy costs this winter.   It's just that I feel really dumb for making that kind of mistake.  Thankfully this was work for me and not quilts for a customer.  There is no telling how long it will be before I get new ones made again.  Making these plain window quilts has taken over two years because of my hectic schedule.  Well, I do have a lighter quilting schedule now that I'm semi-retired.  Maybe it won't take me as long to make prettier ones.  Two installed..... 9 more to go.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two more quilted

This one got finished first.  I had a bit of trouble thinking of what to quilt on it.  It's golf themed so I tried doing golf balls and tees.  Those didn't come out looking like what they were supposed to be.  I switched to tried and true designs for masculine quilts. 

Flying geese on the inside border and line dancing on the pieced squares.

Loops can pass for golf balls flying around all over the place on the snow ball blocks.

Repeat the design on the inside border to carry the design.  More flying geese on the outside border to also carry the design through the quilt.

This one is also finished.  It was a tough one.  It has never seen an iron.  I had to fight with it a bit until I got it conquered and somewhat square.  I'm glad I'm not the one going to be putting a binding on it.  Whew.

The customer wanted stars on it.  The loops were to help me tame it.

View of another section. 

This quilt started out like this. 

It has more than it's fair share of issues which is why it needed the loops.  Loops mean I can skip around the difficult issues without damaging it or my machine.... or my dignity. 

The star centers are not pieced, they are very loosely appliqued.  Many were coming loose or were not sewn in the first place.  Hmm.... I mean sewn but did not get attached as the needle went through.

Majority of the stars looked like this one.  I've said it before and it bears repeating as many times as required...... to improve your piecing, learn to iron.  Every time a seam is sewn, iron it before sewing the next seam.  Pressing the seams show where there is a problem.  Don't just continue to sew and compound the errors.  If you start off right, press at every step, and fix problems as they occur, you can make a perfect quilt every time.  So let me repeat it again..... if you want to create a perfect quilt, learn to iron every seam as it is sewn. 

I have one more quilt to finish for this year.  Yippie!  This means I still have time for some ME projects.  I'm going to work on the one remaining quilt starting Monday.  The rest of today and tomorrow is for some major house keeping in the studio.  The dust bunnies have been very frolicked lately.  They've multiplied just like bunnies do.   It's time to weed out the dust bunny herd and donate a few to the land fill. 

I'm still working on improving my helpful hints blog.  I've gone through over half of them and chosen which page to list the links.  Now if only I could get the computer to cooperate with me.  I think it's my mouse gone bad.   What can I do with a rougue mouse?  I'll deal with him until I can get a replacement. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Menu planning

 I've said before how difficult it is for me to menu plan before going to the grocery.  I thought I'd explain a little more about why I have such a hard time.  I do keep a list of items I really need from the grocery and I do go with a budget amount.  Mostly though I'm a discount bin cook.  I make meals around whatever I find in the discount bin or from items given to me by the food fairies.  Let me show you a few examples from last Friday's shopping trip. 

Barley.  Good for making my own beef barley soup or adding to any other type of soup if I want.  In a pinch I could cook some barley and use it in place of rice in a dish.

Jam.  This does not have to be used only on toast although it's good that way.  I can use it as a coating on a ham instead of pineapple.  I can mix it in a cake mix then use more as the frosting.  Jam can be used in many ways by substituting it for the sweet (sugar) part of any recipe.

Lime juice.  Use it for marinades and for a bit of extra flavor in a smoothie.

Olive oil.  Cook with it.  Flavor a salad with it.  Make soap with it.  Use for removing eye makeup. 

Beef stew.  Not what I really like but good for a quick lunch.  If it really tastes horrible..... let the furkid eat it. 

Salsa.  Use as is.  No chips?  Fry some potatoes and onions then pour this over top for a different type of potato dish.  Add it to chili or put it on a pizza instead of the tomato sauce.

Sour cream.  Ok, a question.  What happens to sour cream that's past it's use by date?  It's already sour so does it go good?  Make sour cream muffins or cookies.  Mix with a bit of miracle whip and some spices for a salad dressing over raw veggies. 

Eggnog and milk.  Use the eggnog for making custard or make a cake frosting from it.  Freeze the milk in small containers to use a little at a time.  Make a big batch of white sauce and put in the freezer.  Make mozzarella cheese. 

Meats.  Use any recipe. 

Vegetables.  Put into the freezer for use in small batches.

Food fairy boxes.  I never know what's going to be in them.  I find lots of creative meal ideas in boxes like this.

I save things like this too.  Good for adding just a little something extra to any recipe.

Ok, this is not food related but I wanted to show that I watch for bargains on other items in the discount bin too.  Computer paper discounted because of a torn wrapper is good. 

I've given you only a small sample of what I buy each shopping trip.  It's very difficult to plan menus before going to the store when I don't know what I will find.  I do my planning around what's in the pantry instead.  I'm also not afraid of making substitutions in recipes.  For example using jam instead of sugar or barley instead of rice.  I do come up with some really strange combinations.... but that's not always a bad thing.  Sometimes it results in a recipe I want to make more often.

More quilting done

I finished quilting these two pillow covers.  I was taking them off the machine when the owner knocked on my door.  That was cutting it really close on finishing.  If they weren't finished the customer would not have minded.... but I would.  I like to keep my promises.  No pictures of the quilting but it was the same designs as the quilt. 

I loaded the next quilt on the machine ready for stabilizing it today.  Then I tried working on my helpful hints blog for awhile.  I'm creating "pages" with links on them for the different step by step posts and making those into printable pages.  I kept getting this message.... over and over and over again.  It got frustrating enough that I just quit.  Decided some house cleaning and laundry might be a little less stressful than dealing with a cranky internet. 

Later I sat on the porch and looked at the fall colors for a while.  In just a few days the trees will be naked again and really cold weather is just around the corner. I cleaned out the square foot garden on the side of my house.  Nothing but lots of tomato vines left so it wasn't a really big chore.  I think my garden was successful enough for not having done any for a very long time.  I will add a couple more small beds for next year. 

Today will be filled with cooking bread, cleaning the kitchen, mopping floors, and making lists of what I want to accomplish during my holiday break..... whenever it starts.  For the first time in many years, this time of year is 'quilting stress' free.  I'm not working 16 hours a day and I'm not rushing around like a mad woman.  I'm actually cooking instead of popping something into the microwave to eat a bite in between rows of quilting.  I do miss the quilting income because paying bills is much harder; but, the freedom from stress is worth more than all the money I could have earned. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whew, it's done

I was gone shopping all day Friday.  Saturday and Sunday I worked to get this finished.  This is the quilt laying on the intake table.  The quilt hangs off the other end.

The border design.

The design on the blocks.

A view from the back.

A leafy design on the inside borders.

I have two pillow covers to quilt that go with this quilt.  Only three more tops to get quilted before my holiday break can start. 

I took a few minutes yesterday to work on link pages for my hints blog.  Something is going on with my computer and it's very irritating.  Maybe someone knows what it is and can tell me how to fix it?  Here's what happens.  You know how you can click on the X to get out of a program?  Just click and zap the program is closed.  Ok, imagine working on the computer, I click a link and I am zapped off the internet.  Any kind of random link like going from edit post to view blog, or click on a photo to load to the blog, or to check a link I've added or clicking on an email to reply to it.  This happens randomly, not every time on the same links.  Get the idea?  I click on things and my internet randomly instantly shuts down. 

This would be irritating by itself.  But, the computer freezes up when I try to get back on the internet.  The only way I can get back on the internet is to shut off the computer and then turn it back on again.  Another thing that happens is sometimes when writing an email or writing a blog post if I backspace to correct spelling then try to start typing, the computer tells me there is a problem and it must shut down.  No choice but to click ok.  Which freezes when I try getting back on again. 

I've run spybot and AVG free to check for problems but nothing shows up as a problem.  Does anyone know what this problem might be?  It's taken almost three hours just to create this post because of the number of times I've been zapped off the internet.  I gave up over the weekend trying to answer emails.  Reading  was fine but clicking on reply zapped the internet off except for a couple I managed to send.  Hmm... if those actually got sent.  Any help appreciated.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Powdered milk

There are basically two types of powdered milk.  There's a non-instant variety commonly used for long term storage and there's the instant variety you find in the grocery stores.  I get powdered milk from the senior commodity program and I buy powdered milk too.  Both of the types I use are instant variety.  The brands I buy at the store are for drinking and the commodity milk I use for cooking.  Why?

Well, there are two different tastes to instant powdered milk.  It's how the milk is made that makes it drinkable for me or not.  One way producers make powdered milk is by cooking it.  Milk is dripped onto a very hot barrel device which evaporates the moisture from the milk.  In effect it's cooked to remove the moisture.  It works like an ice cream maker in that it scrapes the milk off in thin sheets.  Cooking anything changes its flavor.  The other way powdered milk is made is by spraying in a vacuum chamber evaporating the milk instantly.  It has a more natural taste because nothing changes except the moisture is removed. 

If you have trouble drinking powdered milk it may be because you don't like the cooked taste of the milk.  I suggest you keep trying until you find a variety of powdered milk that suits your taste buds.  For me the commodity milk has too much of a cooked taste so I use it only in my cooking. 

I do drink powdered milk because paying from 4 to 6 dollars a gallon at the neighborhood store is a bit much for my budget.  I had to train myself to drink powdered milk.  I searched until I found one made without the cooking process.  The box does not tell you what process is used.  I added vanilla to the milk which masked the taste until I felt comfortable drinking just plain milk.  Mixing powdered milk and regular milk doesn't work if you are trying to fool someone.  Again, it's the cooked taste that sneaks in there.  First find a brand that is not cooked then try mixing them together or add some vanilla. 

Even if you just can't bring yourself to drink powdered milk, at least give it a try in your cooking. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fry coating mix

I save time in the kitchen whenever I can.  Instead of mixing up a coating mix each and every time I plan to fry chicken or pork chops or whatever; it's easier to have it already mixed.  I make the mix in a large quantity then simply scoop out what is needed each time. 

I both mix and store the coating mix in this jar which was originally a peanut butter jar.  I date when it was made so I know when it should be either used or tossed.  Truthfully, I've never kept any of it long enough to be tossed.  I use it long before it gets old.  It's still better to be safe than sorry so I date it.   Mixing it ahead of time also lets the flour soak up the favor of the spices used.  The corn starch gives a more crispy texture when fried. 

2 cups flour
1 cup corn starch
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon pepper
2 Tablespoons bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons savory (cereal) crumbs
3 Tablespoons Mrs Dash table blend

You may notice that I don't use salt of any kind in this mix.  I try to use as little salt as possible in my cooking.  Salt is added at the table if the food needs it.  Cooking with salt then adding more at the table plus salt put in by the food companies adds up to a lot of salt. 

Two quilts pieced

This one is waiting on the owner to give approval before I quilt it.  It doesn't look like it in the photo but the squares are different sizes so the sashing is different sizes too. 

This one has been taken home and will return the first week of January to be quilted.  There is one square for each grandchild plus some blank squares for future grandchildren. 

The next quilt is on the machine and stabilized.  I'm guessing it will take about 4 days to complete.  I'm a long way from my goal of finishing all the quilts by the first week of November.  That's ok though because it was only a personal goal and not a customer deadline. 

Thank you everyone for the advice on the vitamin D.  I didn't explain myself right.  Must have been after effects of the illness.  I wasn't planning to take as much iron as I was given as a child.  I know that would be too much iron.  Back when I was a child iron was different.  It wasn't concentrated in pills like it is today.  I was planning to take a vitamin that says plus iron.  Something for seniors like maybe centrum silver or a similar one.  I'll add vitamin D too.

One of the things I really want to do over the holidays is make my hints blog a little easier to search.  I'm going to use blogger pages feature to set up some links for the different topics.  For example if someone wants to read only the posts about quilting they can find them all on the quilting page.  Or if a reader is only interested in frugal recipes those can be found on the recipes page.  It will take quite a bit of time to look at 300 posts, decide on which page it should be found, and then write 300 links.   

Actually, I have quite a few goals for things I want to accomplish over the holiday break.  All of them are organizing and cleaning goals.  Everything around me seems to have gotten out of control.  From the stuff on my computer to the stuff in my kitchen to the stuff for crafts.  I want to start the new year off with a clean and organized life..... again.  How much I get accomplished isn't as important as just getting done what I can.  Each day delayed starting is simply a day less to accomplish the goals.