...prompted me to spend a bit of time in front of my sewing machine. Sure hope the tooth fairy likes it!
Thursday, March 23, 2017
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
As I said before, cutting out all spending is impossible. However, spending money wisely (such as when frequently used items are on sale) can save you a bundle!
I am a crafter. I always have been and I always will be. I can't remember a time in my childhood when I wasn't painting by numbers, embroidering hand towels for my mom, crocheting granny square hats and bags, or using my toy sewing machine to sew little pouches to hold my baseball cards, jacks, bottle caps and marbles. Now that I am retired, quilting, sewing and machine embroidery fill my heart and dreams with joy.
Anyone who crafts on a regular basis will tell you that crafting Is. Not. Cheap!!! I will admit to having spent a rather large amount of money on my crafts during the first five years of my retirement. In my own defense (grin) it has taken me that long to hone my savvy shopper skills. Now-a-days I only spend money on items that are: a) needed to complete a project (on sale of course), b) on deep discount to pad my stash, or c) going to save me money well into the future.
A recent sale at Forth Worth Fabric Studio prompted me to add to my very meager trim stash. Things bought now at low prices are things I will not need to buy at higher prices or when we are living on Dear Hubby's retirement income. I was THRILLED when my beautifully packaged order arrived! I would love to show you a picture of it in all of its glory, but I once again forgot to take a photo before pulling it apart. But, here they are all wrapped up!
Pretty, huh? I just love the cardboard "spools" that they are wrapped around. They were made with my fabulous Sizzix cutting machine. My machine, and the assorted dies I buy to be used with the machine, fall into the "save me tons of money in the future" category. In the past I have used these spools to wrap leftover quilt binding. Every little scrap of fabric I keep means more money saved in the future! Now, how to store these gorgeous trims?
Like most families, we have plastic containers left when food products are consumed. I think this container held peanut butter filled pretzel bites. I hate to see these great storage possibilities go to waste. A quick washing and label removing provided me the perfect jar (free) to hold these trims...and any I add in the future! The label is a free printable that I happened upon years and years ago. At the time I placed the printout into a page protector and filed it in my "Masters" binder.
Now I simply photocopy it onto cardstock (bought in bulk at a reduced price), punch a tiny hole (punch bought at a thrift store) to thread a ribbon (free on a gift I received) through and write the contents with a Sharpie marker (free with purchase of office supplies).
My trim treasures contained within, along with a few empty spools to grow my collection. The sound you just heard was me squealing in delight!
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
I don't remember if I have told you in the past, but Dear Hubby has begun to talk about retirement...actually quoting the number of days until he can put his career behind him. While I am thrilled that in around four years (the latest), or possibly even NEXT YEAR (The sound you hear is me fainting!), he will be leaving his stress filled job and horrible commute; I'm nervous about our unwise lack of preparation. Ack! We should have been preparing for this day from the day we got married! However, "tomorrow" and "retirement" have always seemed So. Far. Away! Until now. Believe me, the reality is hitting hard.
As a result, I've begun a campaign to really tighten the belt! Again. I've tried in the past, but have always fallen off the wagon. No more. I need to get serious! I need to "stash cash" like our lives depend on it...which in a way, they do! He is not leaving the stress of his job to be greeted by the stress of struggling to "make it" on his retirement income. We need to spend less, pay down our bills and stash whatever cash we can! FAST!
While I would LOVE to be able to stop spending completely, that isn't realistic in today's world. So I need to find ways to get everything I need at a cheaper price...and maybe even FREE with enough work and diligence. Every day I embrace a few more activities geared toward saving money or accumulating points that can be used for money off of necessary purchases. There are a million ways to save, but none of them work unless they are implemented.
The most important element of saving money is PAYING ATTENTION. How many things do we do without thinking? A lot, I'm sure. A prime example is heating/cooling our home. About five years ago we purchased a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature within our home (based upon our routine activities and daily schedule). It has worked well in the past, but the unpredictable nature of the weather recently has rendered the program moot. For example, today has been a beautiful day in my neck of the woods. When I first came downstairs I pulled the screen down on our storm door (a wonderful feature for anyone looking to purchase a new storm door), walked into my sewing room and opened the two windows looking out onto the front porch. Oh...it was lovely. A cool breeze was blowing into the house and I could hear birds chirping in my front landscape. Heavenly. Or so I thought. Unfortunately, I walked into the family room a few moments ago (many hours since I came downstairs) and could hear the distinct hum of the heater directly below. Oh no! I've been letting in the beautiful cool breeze...which is triggering our thermostat to pump out more hot air! I wondered how many times the heater has cycled on throughout the day while I, oblivious, breathed in the cool breeze flowing through my windows. I was enjoying the beautiful day (free), while causing my heater to burn our hard earned cash! Dang! I practically ran to the thermostat to shut down the system, but the damage is done. Sigh. I needed to find a way to keep this from happening in the future!
What I need is a reminder...a checklist that I can run through every day to make sure I am plugging the holes in our budget. My mind immediately jumped to the "Things To Do" tablets that Dear Hubby had gotten FREE (score!) from work many moons ago. I grabbed a tablet and wrote "Turn off thermostat and open windows" in ink on the first line. Every day I can make a light mark next to the reminder. At the end of the week I can erase them. One page should last through the spring and summer months. Making things last longer has a big impact on your budget, but that is a whole other topic! Hopefully I've plugged one hole, but I am sure I need to focus on a whole lot more!
Is there anything you need reminders to do in order to save some of your hard earned money?
Do you find yourself always paying a high price for gas because you wait until the "little light" comes on? Shopping around for the cheapest gas in your area (or even near work) can save you a bundle. There are phone apps that will give you the cheapest price according to location. A post-it strategically placed near the coffee pot can remind you to check prices while drinking your morning brew. If the price is low, top off your tank on the way to work. Even if you aren't completely empty, any gas you add to your tank at a cheaper price is money in your pocket. If the gas station participates with your local grocery store, offering discounts on gas based on the money spent on food, you have really hit the jackpot. Using these points to lower the price of gas can make even a higher "app price" your best bet. All it takes is being mindful and a little bit of calculation to be sure you are getting the best deal.
Can you save your soda cans to turn in for cash at your local recycling center? Getting them into the recycling stream is wonderful, but getting paid to do it is a win/win. The same applies to glass bottles. If you can return them for money - do so! Back to cans. Obtain a wall mounted can crusher with coupons, or even free if you can score one. Check your local thrift store. I've seen them at ours numerous times. Once you have your crusher mounted, place a bin lined with a large trash bag under the crusher. Instruct the family to crush their cans instead of placing them in the normal recycling container. Hang a sign above your normal container to remind everyone that "Soda Cans Get Crushed!" We toss our cans into a bin and when our 5 yo grandson comes over it is his "chore" to crush cans. He gets a check on his "chore chart" (worth $.10) and we can fit many more cans into each trash bag. When the bags of cans threaten to take over the garage, a trip to the recycling center is in order. On a recent trip to the center, our grandson made over $16 to add to his piggy bank. He knows that crushing those cans leads to money in his bank. Hard work leading to reward is a lesson all children need to learn, no matter how young they are!
There are tons of money saving practices...if we just REMEMBER to use them! More suggestions coming soon!
Thursday, February 23, 2017
I've never made a baby quilt before, but I knew I wanted the label to be something a little "more" than the plain Jane embroidered letters on my previous quilts. I was pretty sure I could find something adorable, flowery and girlish at Embroidery Library.
My heart flipped when this little cutie popped up on the screen. Be still my heart! I couldn't put my payment information in quickly enough. While some of the flowers mimic-ed the flowers in the fabric, the colors weren't all a match. A little swapping out of threads and I was ready to go.
I would love to tell you that the process went smoothly and quickly. Oh no. The flower border was done in less than 30 minutes and it was time to begin filling in the middle. On the first line of baby stat's the thread broke! I will admit to yelling out a very un-lady-like expletive. Over and over I tried to get back to the point in the lettering program where the thread had broken. Over and over again the embroidery began with the wrong letter. I was bathed in sweat, just about in tears from frustration when J's wonderful fiance walked into the room. In a wisdom older than her years she said, "Walk away, Mom. Let's go outside and get some air."
After some girl time and a cooling breeze I was able to approach the problem with a clear head. Shortly thereafter the label was finished...and it looked just like I had envisioned.
I laid a piece of fabric over the baby's name for privacy...but isn't it the cutest thing you have ever seen? While I am writing this post today, I will not publish it until the gift has been given to our dear friends. This is one surprise I really wouldn't want to ruin!
Friday, February 17, 2017
...well, except for the label. I need to go to JoAnn's and pick up some embroidery thread in the colors above so I can machine embroider the label. I hope to do that EARLY tomorrow morning and get it sewn on in the off chance that our friends may be around this weekend to give them their gift. I am SO anxious to give it to them!
I absolutely LOVE this fabric. It is Garden Girl sold by Riley Blake Designs. I still may buy another charm pack just in case I am someday Grandma to a little girl. If not, I could always make a charity quilt with it!
Sunday, February 5, 2017
I am making progress on the baby gift for friends of ours. The blocks are not in any particular order yet, just placed up on my board to make sure I had at least one block of each fabric pattern going vertically and one horizontally. Oops, I guess that is placing them up there in "order"! What I should have said is that the blocks are not arranged according to any design yet.
Once I had "paired up" all of the pink and green blocks accordingly, I began making blocks with the remaining fabric "singles". I have to tell you, I found it really hard to place those lone blocks up on the wall! Maybe my love for Hercule Poirot has left too much of an imprint on my psyche? Or maybe I'm just a wee bit compulsive, ;o). Which ever it is, in order for the quilt to reach the dimensions I want I will need to use up ALL of the charm squares in the pack...whether they have partners or not! Deep breath...really deep breath!
After dinner I had planned to begin working with the the last group of charm squares, those having a white background. Planned, mind you. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. Sundown and horrible lighting in my sewing room have conspired to stop me in my tracks! Sigh...I was really on a roll! I guess I am going to have to move "lighting for my sewing room" higher on the ToDo list. During the summer I was able to "manage" with the poor lighting, but the darkness of winter is impossible to overcome.
Oh well, I think I will join Dear Hubby in the family room while he watches the Super Bowl. I'm not the least bit interested in this game so I will take one of my new Block magazines to read. I used a Christmas gift card from Missouri Star Quilt Co. to purchase the 2015 and 2016 boxed sets. Beautiful quilts, a cup of tea and a bit of relaxation sound good right about now! Hope you are having a wonderful Super Bowl Sunday!
Monday, January 30, 2017
My sewing room/office is a MESS! This is not the "Therapy Room" I had set up back in January 2016! Life has gotten nuts and there are additions to my ToDo list flying at me from every direction! This weekend I decided that I HAD to start chipping away at all of these items at once...or I would go out of my mind before I ever reached the end!
Yesterday I spent the day in here catching up on some mending. J and G both needed clothing mended, and I was able to finish all of the items they gave me this weekend in a relatively short period of time. But see the giant pile of mending still to be done? Eventually...
Then I finished up making hourglasses with all of the colored background charms in the Garden Girls line. These will be combined with solid white squares to make a baby quilt for my neighbor and her husband...something they can keep in the house for when their first little grandchild comes to visit.
I began sewing the hourglasses into "four-patch" blocks. These blocks are not in any particular order. I am simply sewing one four-patch block with the hourglasses vertical and one block with the hourglasses horizontal for each fabric design. I will keep all of them on the left side of my design board as I design the quilt on the right. I like being able to see my remaining options as I build the quilt. Unfortunately, I ran out of the Kona Snow white charm squares. I have placed an order online and should have my package by February 4th. I also bought a few yards for the first border.
While chain piecing the blocks, I have been using "leaders" and "enders" a-la Bonnie Hunter. I love that my good fabric isn't being "buggered up" (as Dad would say) when I first begin stitching and I also love the fact that these scraps will be turning into something usable while I stitch. I placed all of my sets of 2.5" fabric, shingled for ease of grabbing, into a small tin pail next to my machine. It should keep them from falling all over my sewing table. I just hope I can remember that the matching tin closer to my iron is my thread catcher. I can see my nice neat little pile of squares all covered in threads, LOL.
I still haven't finished my charity quilt and I need to do a bit of sewing for my mom. I also need to print out a photo for her.
This extra large hockey goalie bag is filled with yarn and my "in progress" afghan. I need to finish that some day, too...
See that large cardboard box? Dear Hubby has asked me to cover it with contact paper so that he can keep the "stuff" in the trunk of his car all corralled in one spot.
The items in the bankers box need to be listed on eBay, and I promised J I would help him sell his two guitars and two amplifiers. Oh, and I also told him I would help him log all of his Magic The Gathering cards onto a website where he would get an idea of their worth and sale-ability. That tower of boxes behind his guitars is FILLED with cards. I think he has WELL over 1000 cards.
Do we think I bit off more than I can chew?!?!? I REALLY need to stop volunteering myself to do things for my loved ones when my ToDo list is already longer than my arm, LOL!!!!! I forget that I am no longer the woman of my past who could multi-task and accomplish anything at any time. Hard lesson.
SO.....I am going to work on taking tiny bites and bit by bit this mountain of stuff will be handled and moved out of my sewing room. I can't wait to get my calm, serene, sewing therapy room back in order. Is there anyone else out there who finds it hard to work in chaos???