28 February 2009

bibapalooza

I had no idea how many bibs one could actually need. I thought one or two, maybe three. But no, try ten, maybe more.

I also had no idea how unattractive more store-bought bibs were. They are all pepto pink and have butterflies, flowers or cheesy little phrases like, "I'm the boss" and "I just pulled an all-nighter". Not really my cup of tea.

So, in desperation, I pulled out my Bend the Rules Sewing pattern again and went to town. Here are most of the results of my blitzkrieg bib marathon (some, of course, were dirty). For more inspiration and ideas, you can check out the Bend-The-Rules Sewing flickr group.





(This one is a little rough because I was in a hurry, but it is also my favorite because it looks worn and well-loved)

25 February 2009

a beautiful waste of time

So, I don't have a ton of time to waste lately, but everytime I visit this little site, I find something else I love. I am not a video game connoisseur, but these games are beautiful and fun. He also has a great sense of humor which you will find when you start to read the fine print.


(screenshot from Ferry Halim's Orisinal website)

24 February 2009

this weekend's big score

So, despite my spending hiatus, I did score some fabulous things this weekend for free! My parent's had been storing a bunch of toys and such from my childhood for the past decade or so. With the purchase of our new and much bigger house, those boxes of childhood goodies arrived promptly on our doorstep. I had tucked them away in the basement for the first few months, but finally had time to start to go through them this weekend. Here are a few of the fabulous things I found, which I guess technically were already mine, but I count them as a score none the less. My much younger self was really on top of things when I decided to save some of this...

(the cutest little chick smock, made from an old feed sack)

(a handmade baby dress made with raggedy ann & andy fabric, lovely crossback pattern)


(a wonderful cross stitched apron. it has several stains, which is why it isn't ironed)

(beautiful ornate baby shoes, still way to big, but someday)

I also spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon sitting in the sunshine with my lovely friend Becky talking garden. To get me inspired she brought me a selection of produce from her garden last year. Beautiful onions and garlic to give me a glimpse of what's to come...

23 February 2009

spending hiatus - week #1

So, this was the first week of my spending hiatus and I must say, I was a little off my game. It was a busy week, so that meant less time for shopping (which is good), but also less time for cooking thus more eating out (which is bad). I have to say that reading all of my favorite blogs, following lovely link trails and trolling through etsy are not helpful things to do because all I do all day is make lists of projects I could do if I just went out an bought the right tools or supplies or found the right piece of furniture. But I do love all of the inspiration! Also, I was inspired this weekend to go through my fabric stash and see what I could work on without having to go out and buy anything. I have a few things in the works that I should have ready for display next week.

So, I avoided the thrift store and the fabric store and the target clearance rack. I also was proud of myself when I decided not to order out, but instead, make dinner at home, on a particularly hairy night after a jam packed day. I work from home 3 days a week and this makes it easier to not splurge on lunch and fancy coffee drinks, but today I actually made myself a cup of coffee at home to take to the office with me and avoided the coffee shop on an "in the office" day as well.

Now for the confession... I didn't think ahead too far when joining in. This week was our Annual Artini Art Auction at the Missoula Art Museum. I have been a part of the Artini committee for a few years now and I had decided last fall that this year, I was going to take the plunge and buy a piece at the auction, if the stars aligned and I could afford a piece I really loved. J and I have tried to be more deliberate recently in donating to organizations we believe in and this was part of that endeavor. So I showed up to the event with no thought of my hiatus. We had an amazing event and some fabulous art was created. The energy was incredible and when my favorite piece came up for bid, I didn't even hesitate, opening up the bidding and following right on through until it was mine. So, yeah, probably not a necessity, but pretty cool none the less. We had a blogger at the event all day and here is his post about the piece I got and the artist who made it...

The good news is that next week, I will not spend a chunk of change on art, I'm sure of it...

Edited to add: this is the piece I won. It looks so small and cute here, but it is actually about 3x2.5 feet.

22 February 2009

small space

The latest issue of Small Magazine arrived in my inbox last week. This web magazine features some fabulous children's products from the web, lots of handmade and lots of inspiration. You can subscribe to get their emails quarterly or you can just go to the website to see the latest issue or browse past issues. I always find lots of inspiration and fun, but my favorite piece this time was an interview with Judith Needham, a willow weaver from across the pond. She used her talents when it came time to create a playhouse for her children and created this beauty below. So much better then the plastic playschool monstrosities, don't you agree?



18 February 2009

make it yourself

After finding the very handy reversible dress tutorial, I have been keeping an eye out for great tutorials all over the web. The other day I came across a post over at The Long Thread where she actually highlighted her top 100 tutorials for 2008. Many of them I had seen before, but there were some really fabulous new finds as well. If you are looking for some fun new projects, check out her great list!

(Toadstool Cottage and Mushroom House from The Little House by the Sea)

17 February 2009

surviving the recession in style- tip #3: don't spend

Okay, so I know that it may seem simplistic, but as some crazy but accurate old guy once said, "the best way to save money is not to spend it". How many things that we spend our money on in a week or a month do we actually "need"? We don't need that new sweater, in fact, we have a whole bursting-at-the-seems closet that we barely skim the surface of in a typical week. We don't "need" that $4 latte. A cup of homemade joe from the press in your own kitchen will meet your caffeine quota for the day just as effectively.

Now, this is definitely my worst area for cutting back. I love to roam the local thrift stores and come out with some random, but completely unnecessary new piece of clothing or furniture. I never spend a ton, which makes it so easy. It's just $10 here or $7 there, but it definitely adds up over time. And, because of this, I have yet to take the ultimate plunge, the "spending hiatus".

That's right, a Spending Hiatus. Several fabulous bloggers, including my friend Erinn over at the happy living blog, have formed their own little support network and sworn off unnecessary spending until tax day. I know, I am in awe too... I just couldn't quite bring myself to join them, until now. I refuse to jump onto a bandwagon I'm sure I will fall off of at some point. But, after this weekend, I realized how much we spent on little things that we just don't need and how much more money we would have had in our account if we hadn't.

So, starting today, I will avoid the thrift stores, target clearance aisles and all other temptations, buying only what is crucial to our survival and ignoring everything else. This is a big deal because I can barely go a few days without hitting the thrift store for a quick looksee, so 2 months is going to be ccccrazy!

Here is the fabulous blogger that started it all over at Simply Lovely.

And here are the last few things I bought before joining in the fun...

(clearance wall paper from Target, $7.48 a roll, and clearance hooks from Joann Fabrics, $5.99, both for our bathroom)

(winter issue of Boho magazine, interesting, but definitely not something to subscribe to)

If you want to join in the big support group, you can add a comment on the first post I linked too or if you just want to join me, post a comment here. I will be doing weekly updates on my successes and failures, so you could join me on your own blogs.

15 February 2009

baby dresses

Last fall I decided I was going to make a baby dress for Avery. Okay, no big deal, pick up a pattern and some fabric. No way, I found a pattern and then altered it until it was no longer recognizable and then decided to make it reversible. That's right, it would be not just one dress, but two. I tend to be okay at spatial relations problems so I thought I had the reversible thing all worked out. I put it together in the way I thought would work, but when I tried to turn it right side out it would not work, just one small, endless ball of fabric pulling through itself over and over again.

I ripped it out a few times and tried to figure it out. But finally I just gave up and did what any 30 something crafter would do, I Googled it. There, right at the top was this fabulous, well written step by step, complete with photos. And that is one of the many reasons I love the internet!

Tina over at Polkadotbug saved my sewing disaster and gave me a new favorite project. I made another over the holidays, a "christmas" dress.

Here is a shot of the first dress (the inside is just cream muslin, so I didn't get a pic of it):


I love the fabric for so many reasons, not the least of which is the name of the fabric, "daydream believer".

Here are a few shots of the holiday dress, including a close up of the fancy hem stitch I did. (Yay for my thrift store sewing machine!)




If you are interested in the pattern, let me know and I will put together a PDF...

13 February 2009

teething crackers


My baby is devouring food now days! It is crazy, as it seems only a few weeks ago, she was a teeny tiny bean that just laid on my chest in a little ball.

Last week I went in search of a recipe for teething biscuits to keep her busy while I make dinner and take the edge off her hunger when we are out and about. I found a slew of recipe ideas and settled on this one from Wholesome Baby Food because I had all the ingredients on hand, including a couple of very ripe bananas waiting to be used.

'Naner Drops

Ingredients:

1 c quick oats
1 c ground oats (grind oats and make a coarse oat flour)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t cinnamon or ginger or cardamom (we'd try it with all 4 spices!)
1/4 t nutmeg
1 t baking powder
1 c (~2) overripe bananas, mashed
1 t vanilla extract
3 T oil of choice

Directions:

Mix dry, mix wet, add wet to dry. Drop by the spoonful onto parchment paper or greased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 min at 350 degrees.

The key is to then leave them sitting out uncovered so they get good and hard. That way they don't turn to mush in the babe's hands. They were a big hit with the bean and definitely something we will make again...


12 February 2009

this weekend's big score

So this was actually my big score from two weekends ago, but in an effort to keep the title theme the same, I fibbed just a little. I am a bag hoarder. I need no more bags of any size, but can't seem to resist them, especially if they are on super good clearance. Here is my $6 special from Target:


I love the shirt ruffles down the front and the kicky blue color.

11 February 2009

dinner date

We had our lovely friends Nici and Margot over for a dinner date last night. First, it was fabulous to just hang out and enjoy each other's company, which is something I don't always make the time to do lately. Secondly, we enjoyed some great food. And last but not least, we got to watch our two little kiddos play together, much to our amusement.

I thought I pass along what turned out to be a killer menu for a casual evening at home. We enjoyed bbq pork sandwiches, sweet potato fries and salad, along with some red wine to take the edge off the day. I just threw the meal together, but it got rave reviews from our guest, so I thought I would share the "recipes".

Crockpot BBQ pork (I love my crockpot and how easy it makes my life sometimes.)

For 3-4 sandwiches:

2 bone-in pork chops, thick cut
1 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
2 tsp brown mustard
2 tsp worchestershire sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tsp flour

mix everything except the pork and flour with a wisk in the bottom of the crockpot. place the chops in so they are just covered by the sauce. cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5ish. about 3/4 of the way through your cook time, break up the port with a wisk or fork so it is shredded. stir together with the sauce to coat all the meat. 20 minutes before serving, add the flour and stir. this will thicken the sauce. serve on buns or rolls. (we used whole wheat Wheat Montana buns)

Sweet Potato Oven Fries
for 3-4 adults:

2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 tbsp olive oil
salt

preheat the oven to 400. toss the fries with the olive oil to coat, spread onto a baking sheet. bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through. the crisper you want them, the longer you bake them. salt and serve.

It was a wonderful evening and hopefully, we will do it again soon (hint, hint)...

10 February 2009

surviving the recession in style- tip #2: check it out


So, I have blogged about my love of the local library before, but I was reluctant to share this tip here. Mainly because I don't want all of you local chicks stealing my fabulous finds. But, for better or worse, here is one of my favorite savvy saver tips.

USE YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY LIKE YOU OWN IT!!!

I don't mean check out a book once or twice a year to research a paper for class, I mean pretend it is your own "free" bookstore and you just share your vast collection with the rest of the community. I use the library for just about any interest, project, curiosity, dilemma or pleasure that comes to my mind. The stack of above is just what I currently have laying around my house getting perused or gobbled up over the month or two (I renew) that they are in my possession. I just realized that there are 3 others in a bag that I forgot to pull out for the shot, I just returned about 5 others on Saturday. I have about 8 more on hold that are waiting for pick up and about 30 other holds that are waiting to come in. I love me some library!

One of my favorite benefits is all of the treasures that I have stumbled upon that I never would have bought (or probably even found) at a local book shop. Take the VHS stack of gardening videos from Jeff Ball. These things are the jackpot, a goldmine for a first time gardener with no idea what to do. (More about these in a later post) Never would these have come to my attention if it hadn't been for a search through my library catalog.

Another plus, trying out a book before you plunk down the cash to own it. This is a great bonus when you are looking at cook books, decorating books or craft how-tos. So many of those have looked great and glossy at first glance but have been a total disappointment when you get to the meat of things. Others have been a resource that I realized I couldn't live without, so I bought my own copy.

My newest obssesion with the library collection has got to be the children's CD collection. I am pretty picky about my kiddo music (no Barney or any of that crap) and this has been a great way to find music as well as children's story recordings that are some of my new favorites. I never would have believed that John Lithgow (yes, that guy) could make a very entertaining and clever kids album if I hadn't heard it for myself. This goes for the grow-up music too. Too many times have I purchased a CD based on one song and found that was the only song I liked. I know that we live in the days of iTunes and such, but this is just another way to try out some new music that may end up being your favorite.

Magazines are another resource that the library offers. I don't have a subscription to Real Simple any more and with my last move I forced myself to part with all of the dozens of back issues I had been holding on to. Now, one of my favorite things is to get the seasonal issues from the past 3-5 years and see all of the gardening, holiday, crafting etc that was prepped for the current season.

The best thing and the worst thing about the library is that once you are done, those books and videos, CD and magazines are not sitting on your shelves and desks and coffee tables, but safely reshelved at the library for the next person to enjoy.

So get thee to the library and discover all of the new hobbies, interests, projects you could take on, because we all need a few more of those...

04 February 2009

save yourself

(roadtrip from wander.lust's flickr photostream)

Another one of my Goals 2009 is to be more deliberate about setting boundaries and taking care of my family and myself. Not getting lost in all of the "have tos" and "should dos" and enjoy things more. To that end, I have taken this Mary Oliver poem, that has been a favorite and made it one of my mantras for this upcoming year. Enjoy!

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save.

02 February 2009

surviving the recession in style- tip #1: sale away

(From Roadsidepictures' Flickr Photostream)

Because the current economic situation has overshadowed all good things, I have decided to share my scrappy, creative ways to save some cash without totally loosing your sanity. My first tip is a product of a few of my Goals 2009: (1) spend less money on food and (2) get back into planning meals and eating healthier.

Over the past year, we have begun to rely WAY too much on eating out/take out. It started with yucky morning sickness (cooking=bad) and carried through low energy, postpartum recovery and moving with a 5 month old. No more, I say. We will have a stocked pantry and we will not spend half the weekly food budget on one meal.

So, to aid me in my quest, I had to create a shift in my grocery shopping habits. My new tactics include searching through the grocery sales flyers online and stocking up like I am preparing for Armageddon.

The first step for me was to make a list of things that I buy at least monthly. Then I spent a week going to all of the stores I was willing to shop at (Albertsons, Safeway, Costco, Good Food Store, Food Farm) I recorded the "daily" price of all of the items on my list (meaning, no sale prices). For things I knew I could find in bulk at the Good Food Store, I also recorded the cost per ounce, pound or serving.

Now I had a baseline for all of my regular purchases. I knew that $2.99 was the average price for ground beef and the 64 ounces of organic raisins at Costco was the best deal in town at just under $.11/ounce. I was ready to shop...

In my research, I also learned that the big chain grocers all publish new sales flyers on Wednesday. This is helpful because I can just get on their websites and view the flyers, making a list of what I need from each place. My favorite thing about my new system is the time it saves. Last weekend, I left my house, hit two different stores getting some amazing deals and a few staples that we needed and was home again in 35 minutes. No more walking up and down the aisles just because I didn't really know what I needed. No more spending an ungodly amount per pound on meat.

So, now, when whole chickens are on sale for $.69/lb, I call up all my friends to make sure no one misses out...