Friday, 27 February 2009

My new sewing machine

So I went and test drove the Husqvarna sewing machine yesterday morning. The lady showed me all its features and how it worked.

Which is great! It has so many different attachments that come with it too. I was anticipating having to buy a darning or free motion foot (a $30 value) , but it came with a darning foot, so I don't have to. I love the size of the table that comes with it too.


All the extras - button holer, stitch cams, feet, bobbins etc..

I brought it home and got right to work. Easy to thread and bobbin winding is much easier than my current machine.

So on to free motion quilting. I have determined that the peddle has to be pressed all the way down, to get maximum speed, but my hands have to move at a much slower pace to keep the stitches small.

Attempt 1

You can even see from my first attempt to my 2nd, that I have improved. I will continue to practice until I feel confident enough to work on an actual quilt.

Attempt 2

Fun, fun, fun :)...ya I'm nuts

Oh and while out, I stopped by Walmart to get more wool for my stripped afghan and also picked up these fat quarters to make more napkins - we are still using our Christmas ones.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Latest baby Quilt Progress

I started working on the latest baby quilt yesterday. I already had two blocks (one shown below) from a previous quilt complete, so I designed this quilt around them.

I have mentioned before that I don't like to follow rules. I created this quilt and so it doesn't have any instructions.


As you can see from these 3 pieces, I don't necessarily take the easiest route.
This quilt was quite fiddly. The heart is my first attempt at machine applique - that is not as easy as it looks either.

Here it is with two of the pieces joined and some of the background fabric attached.And here it is almost complete. I still have to add red triangles to the center top & bottom and the four corners. Then I have to add a border.
Now I just have to finish the top, sandwich it, quilt it, and add a binding...all before the shower April 5th. Hey at least this time I didn't wait until the last minute!

P.S. I am going to check out that Husqvarna sewing machine this morning at 10am. I hope it works well. If it does, I will buy it and on Friday go buy the free motion quilt foot I need for it and get started free motion quilting! Woo Hoo

Ya little things excite me :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - Quilting Tip


Today's Works For Me Wednesday tip is on how to make multiple half squares for quilting, all at one time.

Half squares come into play in quilting quite a bit, so it is nice to be able to make several at once, instead of one at a time.


First I drew a template and photo copied it several times.

Then I cut 2 pcs of fabric the correct size and placed them good sides together.

Pin the layers and the template together

Next you sew on the two outside lines. The middle line is where it will be cut.
When I get to the corners of the next square, I stop the machine and move
the fabric, so I am not stitching the corner. I have stitched over the corners
before and they are very easy to just rip out the few stitches there.

Start cutting the squares apart



Then cut each square into triangles by cutting through the middle line.


Rip off the paper
Snip the corners
Press the seams flat
And finally iron
You now have 16 half squares done in half the time it would have
taken you to do them individually.
Happy quilting!

For more great Works For Me Wednesdays post, go to its new home.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Laptop bag finished

I got my sewing machine back early. DH picked it up at noon yesterday and brought it home after work. I got started right away on finishing the laptop bag for my sister. It is so nice when a sewing machine runs smoothly.



All done! 2 months late but still done.



I have never done a project like this one before and I am not sure I want to do one again anytime soon. It was not difficult but was finicky at parts.


Tomorrow I will start on the baby quilt.

I am about 80% sure right now that I will be buying that Husqvarna sewing machine. Actually my sister plans to buy it for me as my next birthday and Christmas present (she claims she never knows what to get me).

She just wants me to learn how to do free motion quilting so I can finally quilt her quilt, she's only been waiting about a year for it :)

Monday, 23 February 2009

Monday Musings

Update & question: This morning I found a used Husqvarna Viking 2000 SL sewing machine for $85. It is about 25 yrs old but apparently well serviced. I want to get into free motion quilting, and my current machine does not have that capability (feed dogs don't drop and with cover added, gap is too tight).

So does anyone have any info on this machine? Any advice? Anything? The feed dogs do drop but that is all I know. Will it be a good machine for quilting on? Any help is greatly appreciated!


I took my sewing machine in to be tuned up/repaired on Saturday. Of course once it was no longer in the house, all I wanted to do was sew.

I should get it back Tuesday evening. Once I do, the first thing I have to do is finish my sister's laptop bag. She has been waiting since Christmas for this.

Then I'll be starting the next baby quilt. My niece is due with her first baby in April or May (not sure which). I have sketched out a concept for the baby quilt.


Here are the flannels I'll be using.

All the same ones I used on the previous two baby quilts. Waste not, want not.

I bought 3 balls of satin wool on Saturday, planning to use them for more granny squares, but once I got a feel of them, I realized they were too nice to just make granny squares. So I started a striped lap afghan for myself.

Yes yet another project to work on.

I'll have to buy several more balls of each colour to finish it :) The walls of my office/sewing room are exactly that aqua colour.


I've been helping my son (making him finish) his project on explorer Leif Ericsson. We have made a battle axe, a shield, a tunic, a medallion, a pouch with coins, a weathered map of his voyage route and a fur sash.
Note: It was not until I posted this photo did I realize he forgot to draw the
actual route on the map! All he did was label it. Glad I caught that now!

Here is a picture of my lil viking :)

Friday, 20 February 2009

2 years and 4 days

I just realized I missed my 2 year blogiversary on February 16th.

So I have now been blogging for 2 years and 4 days.

Wow who knew I had so much to say, or that anyone would be interested in what I had to say :)

A big thanks to all my readers (all 4 of you:))

Knowing you read, keeps me writing.

Frugal Friday - Easy Frugal Meals


You know those nights when you are too tired to cook and all you want to do is pick up the phone and order pizza?

But you know you really can't afford to, so what the heck are you gonna make?

Maybe we should all just eat a bowl of cereal (again!).

We here are a few easy inexpensive meals that either don't take a lot of time to make, or little prep time.

Note: I never claimed them to be all that nutritious or low fat - add a side salad to make it healthier :)

  • Mac & cheese and chili - any ole boxed mac & cheese and a tin of chili mixed in.
  • Chili dogs or chili potatoes - hot dogs or baked spuds topped with chili
  • Hamburger rice - browned ground beef, raw rice, water, corn, onions, seasonings and beef bouillon - simmer until rice is fully cooked
  • Sausage rice - same as above but with sausage instead of ground beef and a cup of salsa added
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce- any cooked pasta actually, tin or jar pasta sauce, cooked diced/crumbled sausage or ground beef
  • Soup and grilled cheese
  • Mushroom macaroni - cream of mushroom soup, cooked pasta, any cooked meat (chicken, ground beef, sausage

For more frugal Friday ideas, head to Biblical Womanhood

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Homesteading....or not

I read a lot of homesteading or simple living blogs. I really like the idea of living that way. To bake fresh bread daily, raise hens for eggs, plant and harvest a garden.

To make do with what you have, to sew and mend my own clothes. To make gifts for others (knit, crochet, sew). To reflect on life, to enjoy sunrises and sunsets. To enjoy nature.

On the other hand...I am lazy. I like to sleep in - not get up and feed chickens.

I like to plan and daydream, but that is often as far as things get. I like the idea of living off the land, but I really like a nice restaurant as well.

I like the idea of growing vegetables in my own garden, buy I really hate the feel of dirt on my hands (not getting dirty, just the feel of soil ewwww...).

I like the idea of getting fresh eggs each morning, but not keeping the henhouse clean of droppings and whatnot.

Homesteading also usually involves giving up things like internet and TV, and I just don't know about that.

I like most of the modern conveniences available to us today, but I really do like the idea of a simpler life, one that is slower and not so rushed.

Also, as much as I might like it (or not), I'm not sure the other two in my life would.

So if I win the lottery and can afford to buy myself a nice big parcel of land with a cozy farmhouse on it and a few chickens...is it ok to hire people to run it for me? :)

Some simple living blogs I enjoy are:
  • Tammy's Recipes - while not homesteading, it has some great simple recipes.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Works For Me Wednesday - List Making


I am a list maker.

There I said it. I have come out - do with me what you will.

If I really want to accomplish anything, I MUST write it down.

Once it is set to paper I WILL remember it. And usually, if I remember it, I will do it.

I love to make lists. I have too many lists all over the place, on paper, in my email task files, in spreadsheets.

I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I am able to take a pen and draw a line through a completed item on my list. I'm a list geek Yes.

Now just because I make lists, doesn't mean I complete EVERYTHING on my list, some things get moved to tomorrow's list, but still I do love my lists :)

Lists work for me.

To see what works for everyone else, go here.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Getting stuff done

While my mother in-law was visiting, I found myself cleaning as I went as she is very much a clean freak and if I left even one dish in the sink, she would wash it while making that sound that says I'm a crappy house cleaner. So I kept up with the dishes and kept the kitchen tidy.

Once she left, I returned to my old habits. Stupid, because cleaning as I went wasn't hard and it kept things nice.

So Friday I tackled a sink full of dishes, as well as a bunch of pots. I also baked another batch (35ish) of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, as the 1st batch vanished so quickly. I put most of this batch in the freezer packed 2 to a baggie for J's lunches.

Saturday & Sunday pretty much flew by.

Here in Ontario, Monday was Family Day and both DH & J had the day off work and school.
J actually has a pretty elaborate project to do on Leif Ericsson, so we spend part of the day creating a shield and battle axe out of cardboard and tinfoil. I sewed him up a simple tunic out of some black fabric I had laying around.

Today (Tuesday), I am doing laundry, ran a full dishwasher load and attempting a new bread recipe.

I haven't made bread in quite awhile. I usually use the bread machine to do all the work and then bake it in oven for more normal looking loaves. This recipe wasn't written for the bread machine so I did it by hand with the mixer.

It is on its 2nd rise right now and so far so good. If the recipe turns out decent, I will post it here and start using it regularly instead of buying bread.

Store brand bread is up to $2.49 per loaf. We don't actually eat a lot of bread, but it will help. Anyone have any experience with freezing bread dough and rising and baking it later? I would love to make a bunch ahead.

Friday, 13 February 2009

BTW I survived :)

My mother in-law went home Wednesday evening and said what a lovely time she had at our house. How it is so nice and quiet compared to home. She also didn't have to do all the cleaning here.

After she got finished telling me everything I was doing wrong, she settled in and we had a relatively nice time.

She showed me how to crochet granny squares so now I have yet another project :) I have about a dozen finished. Only a hundred or so to go. They are easy to do while watching TV.


DH & I came to realize that she most likely is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She has no short term memory to speak of. This became frustrating, but I had to remind myself that she can't help it.

She lives with her daughter over an hour away and we have no control over getting her to a doctor to be tested, so our hands are tied for getting her medical help.

Her daughter does shift work and gets 4-5 days off every 6 weeks, which is the only time MIL can come visit. So she plans to come back the next time her daughter has time off - if she remembers that is.

Frugal Friday - Making Do With What we Have On Hand

I have been out of work for awhile now as many of you know. I am beginning to feel the pinch.

I have done a freezer and pantry inventory and know what I have on hand and plan to make up a meal plan to use up what we have, which is really a fair amount.

I have noticed though, when I get the weekly grocery flyers, there are many sale items I want to go out and grab. And I have also noticed, if I go to Walmart or any store for that matter, I feel like I want to just buy something, not necessarily something expensive, but also not necessarily something I really need.

But no more. I have decided to make do.

Dinner tonight will be made with what I have on hand. I won't get my DH to stop on the way home from work to pick up that one item I need (and he always buys more than that one thing!). If we end up eating odd meals, so be it.

The other day I made some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for my son's lunches. I don't usually bake, but it really didn't take that long. He loved them! (And since they are all gone, I need to make more...I have the ingredients so why not).

Sometimes we just fall back on the habit of buying stuff for the sake of buying, or getting a good deal when we already have 3 of that item at home waiting to be used.

We grocery shop on the weekends - from now on there will be no mid-week trips to buy something, if I forget to get it on the weekend, we will do without it.

I am attempting to keep the groceries to under $70 each week and only buying what we really need (produce, milk etc...).

I'll let you know how it goes.

For more Frugal Friday inspiration, go to Biblical Womanhood.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Will I survive?

My mother in-law is visiting for about 5 days.

She arrived yesterday at about 2pm. It hasn't even been 24 hours yet and she is driving me nuts.

She has no concept of keeping things to herself - if she thinks it, she says it.

So usually the first thing out of her mouth when she sees me is "you look fatter".

Ya just lovely to see you too!

So far she has told me I should change where things are in my kitchen cabinets.

My TV shouldn't be in front of the window, I should put the couch there instead.

Why do I watch TV all day (I don't, I am rarely even downstairs, but was because she was here and I was keeping her company while SHE watched TV!)

Why am I letting my completely capable almost 12yr old prepare his own bowl of cereal, I should be doing it for him.

Why am I spoiling my lap dog by letting it sleep on my lap?

She looked at the laptop bag I am making for my sister and told me how I should have done things....ummm I followed the pattern.

She goes into my pantry and turns all the canned goods so that the labels face out.

She makes this annoying "tsk" sound whenever she disapproves of anything.

Argh! Nuts I tell you!

To top it all off, DH had a work dinner event last night, so wasn't home till 11pm and has to work on Saturday to help with inventory, a once a year thing where they pull people from the offices to help - on the one weekend his mother is here.

Pray I don't lose my mind (or kill her) will ya?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Changed my mind again :)

So I told you I had decided to stop going to the Weight watcher's meetings and just follow the plan online. Well since I activated my 2 week free trial of the online plan, I have come to realize that you really aren't getting much for your money.

All you get over the free member is the online point tracker. All the boards are open to the public, and therefore you cannot discuss the program or point values in great detail because you will be disclosing copyrighted info for free. There should be a member only board where paying members can talk freely, but there isn't.


So...

I have decided to just use SparksPeople.com. It is a completely free site. I can track my food and exercise daily (only in calories not points), I have access to all message boards and there are tons of useful articles as well as user blogs.

I have been doing ok eating properly on my own. I am down 2lbs today for a grand total of 10lbs lost!

SparksPeople even has several Weight Watcher themed message boards, so I can continue on with that plan if I want to.

It's a great site - check it out!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Common courtesy no longer exists

Why do I get stuck with dumbass neighbours?

On one side of us there are two dogs that bark from the moment they are put outside until hours later (ok it only feels like hours) when they are let back in.

Peanut will not do her business if they are out there barking at her, so now we have to open the back door to see if they are out before letting her out.

This happens as early as 7am and as late as 11:30pm.

Then on the other side of us is a the guy who made an ice rink in the backyard for his 2 boys. The ice rink right next to my bedroom window, which he shovels off at no earlier than 10pm every time it snows (which is often). Did I mention it is a huge rink? I get to listen to the scrapping of the shovel for at least 30 minutes before being able to go to sleep.

And then there was last night, when he decided it would be a good idea to snowblow the driveway at 11 friggin 20 pm!

I went out front, waved at him, and asked if he realized it was after 11. To which he replied, "oh is it that loud?" I said yes, and that my son's window is on the front of the house where you can really hear it. He said he was sorry. I said thanks and went back inside.

What makes a person think it is ok to do that stuff so late at night? Just because he is awake doesn't meant he neighbourhood should be too.

DH says I shouldn't have said anything. I wasn't rude to him so I don't think it will be a problem.

What do you think? Would you have said something to him?