Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The famous wrist warmers

Here is proof I really did finish the wrist warmers I've been making for Katherine forrreeever.

She really likes them, and they actually match a beret I made for her last year. I told her she might get a scarf next year, LOL!

I asked her, "that doesn't mean something obscene does it?" (Regarding the gesture.)

She said, "naaah, it's East Side."

The East Side of what...I did not ask.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve

Here I am in my vest. Everyone thought it was pretty. I honestly finished it about an hour before the party started.

Our get-together was a great success. Our friends and neighbors really liked my hors d'oeuvres (sp?) and Mike's scungilli and sauce was a big hit.

The kids gave me some nice things: a gorgeous pen with a barrel full of Swarovski (sp? again) crystals, a Jeopardy! game for my Wii and they will take me to get a new lounge chair. I'm so happy--mine is falling apart and really hurts my back when I sit in it. They figured it would be better to have me try it out, and I agree. (Mike and I exchange gifts Christmas morning--next blog post.)

Our guests brought some nice gifts and goodies, too. I have way too much yummy stuff in the house--a lot of it will go into the freezer. I didn't get on the Wii on Christmas day, but I did use it Christmas Eve.

Will blog again soon...about Christmas and the quiet day afterward when there was nothing to do but snuggle inside and listen to the blizzard that's hitting us. (Typing this Dec 26, btw)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Outfit 98% finished

Here are some pics of the vest I've been working on, with the blouse I bought. I will wear it with the darker blue side out on Christmas Eve. As you can see, I did not put buttons on it. I want it to be reversible. I think the upper version would be nice to wear either to work or out with Mike when I don't want to get overly dressed up.

Come to think of it, I never get overly dressed up!

BTW, the 2% left is to just close up the opening at the hem where I turned the whole thing inside out. I might put a silver ribbon on it to tie it closed, but that's not a definite.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A little ornament

Here is a simple ornament I made a few days ago. I threaded some beads with wire through an empty thread spool. I tore fabric into a strip and cut it to fit around the spool, then used some of the strip for a bow and a hanger. If you can see a little bit of silver at the top of the spool, that is part of a jewelry finding that is some kind of closure for a necklace or bracelet. I've got all this jewelry-making stuff I never use so it puts it to good use.

I cut a picture out of my oldest son when he was about 18 months old. All this is stuck with glue dots, but you could probably use a glue stick or just plain tacky glue.

You could probably figure out a version of this for kids to make, too. It goes together very quickly!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A few lessons learned

1. While it is a great idea to premix your dry ingredients and keep them in labeled bags, it is NOT a good idea to mix brown sugar with cookies. I needed to mix crushed Nillas with brown sugar and butter for the bottom of toffee bars. When I went to get the mix, the brown sugar had turned hard as a rock overnight. At least I hadn't yet blended it together so it was pretty easy to remove all the sugary boulders.

2. Just because a pan seems to be 9x13 doesn't mean it is. It is a good idea to measure your pans ahead of time. I put my cookie/brown sugar/butter crust in a pan I thought was the right size and it was too big. Probably 11 by 18? So I had these big gaps and not enough 'base' to hold the toffee layer. Therefore, my toffee did not break into nice chunks. In fact, it is very crumbly.

3. Crumbly toffee tastes really good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookies yet again

I made some eggnog cookies this weekend. They are from the "Butterscotch Eggnog Stars" recipe but since they have neither butterscotch nor star-shapes I renamed them. I tried to get the link but apparently you need a code to get to that part of the site. I would bet there are a lot of eggnog cookie recipes on line, though!

The goat, horse and dove cookie cutters came from a local thrift store years ago. I want to set them apart from my sugar cookies so I plan to ice them rather than using colored sugar. I think they'll look cute, but right now they're in the freezer.

I hope to get several more kinds of cookies done this week. I was going to make toffee yesterday but my daughter still has my 9x13 pan. It had lasagna in it, a gift for my future s-i-l. I have to call her so she can bring it by before work today. She goes in at 1. At least I already have my ingredients mixed and ready to go!

Christmas is less than 2 weeks away...aaaggh!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Gift Made

When I was a little kid, I just loved miniature versions of 'real' items. It was fun pretending to be a grownup and playing 'house.' Does anyone play 'house' any more?

I bought a huge box of grocery toys on the after-clearance rack at Target last January. There are about 100 pieces of various food, including the cute brand-name ones you see above. It cost me about $3.

I don't know any parent that would appreciate having to pick up 100 little toys, so I'm dividing it up. I made one grocery bag and filled it for the kids at work.

This one is for a little girl who just turned 3. Her aunt is my daughter's maid of honor and her mom is a bride's maid. I have babysat both Julianna and her cousin Angelina over the years.

The bag was super simple. You just need 2 pieces of felt. I cut about an inch off the top of each piece which I used for the handles. The bag is simply sewn on 3 sides, with the bottoms squared off.

All told this cost less than $2 to make, but I think Julie will enjoy 'shopping' for her pretend groceries!

Monday, December 6, 2010

More cookie dough

Today I mixed up dough for Butterscotch Eggnog stars. Actually, they won't be stars. The idea is to cut a smaller star out of a bigger one, then fill the opening with chopped up butterscotch candy. Then it melts and you get a stained glass effect. Very pretty, except I don't have two different star-shaped cookie cutters that fit together. And I really never have much luck with those 'stained glass' cookies, anyway. So I'm going to make any shape I want--maybe a bunch of angels--then I'm just going to sprinkle chopped up candy on top and press it in while it's still warm. I think that could work. I might also do regular colored sugar. The dough is really delicious, you can really taste the eggnog.

Now, did you ever have something to do that is so stuck in your head that later, after you've done a bunch of other things, you are convinced you did it already? I had Light Karo syrup on my shopping list and I would swear I bought it. So I went to make Salted Peanut Rolls this morning and couldn't find the stuff, anywhere. Now I'm not so sure I did get it--unless it rolled under the car seat. But then, I couldn't use it if it's been out in the cold anyway. So all I did this morning was make the base for the cookies--crushed up peanut butter sandwich cookies mixed with butter then pressed into a pan. Sort of like a graham-cracker crust.

Oh, well, at least I have all the ingredients ready to go when I do either find, or buy, that syrup!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I've been working on a lot of projects lately. Here are some hats I've recently crocheted.

Mr. Bunny and Liony-Piony are wearing my own creations, made from scrap yarn. Bun's hat would fit an adult and Lion's hat is sized for a child. Liony-Piony was not too happy when I woke him up to model (yes, he sleeps--he even snores) but, being a cub, he doesn't have much of a roar yet.

Mr. Bear is wearing a creation from called "Snowy Ridges." This is also adult-sized. Here's the link if you want to make it:

In the cooking/baking department, I mixed up the dough for spritz cookies yesterday. That is a project for this week. Today I made Swedish Meatballs--emphasis on the 'ish.' I did not have some of the ingredients so I'm hoping the sauce (which I'll make closer to Christmas Eve) will make them taste right. Mainly, I was missing allspice and cream. Not sure if the allspice is necessary. I just subbed cream cheese for the cream. We'll see how it goes. They sure smell good!

Monday, November 29, 2010

30 years, a link and a recipe

First of all, today is Mike and my 30th anniversary! We went out to dinner last night at a nice Italian restaurant. (Nothing is open on Monday.) I had shrimp francaise and he had shrimp and calamari.
Mike gave me a beautiful card this morning. He always writes romantic and funny things inside. Even after 30 years, it's nice to still be romantically in love with each other.

I promised Granny J the link to the pattern for the man's hat and scarf, so here it is:

I finished the set yesterday. I made the scarf shorter than the picture. Mike likes to tuck scarves inside his coat so it's just big enough to do that.

And here's a cookie recipe:


1 Cup of Butter
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Cups of Flour
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups of finely chopped walnuts
Powdered sugar

Cream the butter. Add everything else except the powdered sugar. Roll into balls (about walnut size).
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 35 minutes.

Cool a little, then roll in powdered sugar.

BTW, that really is a whole tablespoon of vanilla!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Starting Christmas Cookies

Today I mixed up the dry ingredients for a variety of Christmas cookies I'm planning to bake. I put them into labeled plastic bags, then put the bags into empty protein powder containers. Mike gives the containers to me when he's done with them and I've gotten such good use out of them. They are short and fat with big, wide tops. You can stuff a lot of filled-up plastic bags in them!

This year I hope to make:

Spritz Cookies (definitely!)
Inside-Out Almond Joys
Salted Nut Rolls (they sound like Paydays--we'll see)
Toffee Bars
Crispy Cinnamon Coins
Lemon Spritz Cookies
Butterscotch Eggnog Stars
Meltaways (aka Butternut Balls)

If you have a lot of baking to do, pre-mixing your dry ingredients means you make the big mess with flour, etc. all at once. When you want to get to the fun part--actually making the cookies, the hard work is mostly done for you!

A lot of these recipes are new to me, from an insert in "Cuisine" magazine. If I can link you to the recipes as I make them, I will. Or I will give credit where it is due. Suffice to say I admit none of these are my own original recipes, LOL! (I should play around sometime, though, and maybe come up with something new!)

In other news: I have a new Wii Fit Plus that Mike gave me for our anniversary (30 years, on Monday). I had a blast playing with it this morning and hope to take off 10 pounds by Valentine's Day. I also 'supervised' (ha,ha) while Mike and James put up our Christmas lights outside!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Finished!

Hmmm...I like that title. I should aim to finish things by every Friday!

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I have put about half of my fall stuff up in the attic and have brought down a few bags of Christmas decorations. I won't be decorating until the first of December but I want Fall completely put away by then!

On top is a hat that I'm giving my husband for Christmas. It will have a scarf to match, which is almost done--maybe for next Friday, LOL?

Below is another shawl in the same pattern as the one I made for Dr. Ahuja, but in a soft, chunky yarn and with a different border. The nobbies are created with one slip stitch, then one triple, then another slip stitch. I skipped one stitch in between each knob to allow for the two slip stitches. This one is probably for me since I'm always cold watching TV.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas Crafting

In between bigger projects I like to do things that are finished quickly, preferably in a sitting or two. The little snowman and the 'doily' above fit the bill. They are from a great site I recently discovered, "Fave Crafts." The site offers many crafting patterns and even some e-books, for free! Here's the link:

They send you e-mails. Some are commercial but the subject lines make that clear. I only open up the crafty ones. The little snowman is part of a whole family. The 'doily' is supposed to be an ornament, but I think it's too big. I actually changed the last round of it. It will make a pretty coaster, I think. Can't you just see a nice mug of hot cocoa sitting on it?

My other big crochet project is a hat and scarf in brown for my husband. I'm doing them at the same time, alternating between the two, so I will finish them together. I'm about 85% done with both. I'm also about 90% done with the wrist warmers I've been making for Katherine. Stayed home from work this morning with a bad cold, so I watched "Home Alone" and did about 10 rows on my husband's scarf. That's the nice thing about crocheting and knitting--you can do it while you watch TV.

On the vest project, I did the other side seam and the front. Sewing the front (around the neck and down the middle) took some finagling, but it worked out okay. I will take a picture when I press it nicely. I need to find some killer buttons for it, something really sparkly.

BTW, is anyone else a surprised as I am that Thanksgiving is next week? Didn't we just finish putting away our summer things?

Friday, November 12, 2010

More on the Vest

I did one side of the vest. I sewed the armhole, as you see in the picture above (pre-ironing). It is open at the bottom.
Then I opened the vest out and lined up the underarm seams, matching main fabric to main and lining to lining. I stitched along the sides, from one hem to the other.

Flipped it inside-in and got this result. I'm so glad it worked!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Started My Christmas Outfit

I started my Christmas outfit recently. I'm going to wear a vest with pants I already have and a white blouse. The top photo shows the outside. In the bottom photo, I turned back the outer fabric so you could see the lining. The outside is a brocade in dark blue and silver. The inside is a shiny fabric. I should really jot down the names of fabrics when I buy them.

The darts and shoulder seams are done. After I press these pieces I'll sew them together. I'm pretty sure I know how to do this. I haven't made a vest in years.

I had originally sewn the side seams of the outside, then I realized that makes it almost impossible to finish the armholes without a binding. So I took out the stitches. I think the way to proceed is to sew around the opened armholes (or armscye, if you prefer) and to open out the side seams and then pin and sew right along from the hem at the back to the hem at the front. I'll try to take pictures of this procedure.

Not sure if I'll make or buy the blouse. I'd like something satiny with somewhat puffy (but not too puffy) long sleeves and a collar. No ruffles, though. I don't want to look like something from "Interview with the Vampire." I did have to take a closer look at LeStat's blue vest in the beginning of the movie, which I watched yesterday, as it was almost the same colors as this one. Fortunately, not the same pattern.

I think the lining fabric was actually meant to be used to make a sari. It's pretty on both sides. So's the brocade, but it was the dark blue that jumped out at me!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Nice new blog with a giveaway!

I found the nicest new blog today: Bayberry Cove! And she has a wonderful Thanksgiving giveway (drawing is on November 15th). Please visit her at:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Easy Wallet Notepad

How many times have you been in a store and suddenly had the thought there was something you were supposed to get, but you just can't remember what it was? Here is a little tutorial for a super easy notepad to keep in your wallet at all times. I plan to use this one to list things I need to finish Christmas gift crafts. That way, if there's a good sale on something I need at Joanne's or Michael's, I won't forget to get it.
First, you need a few sheets of notepad paper (or cut some up). You could even use those last few pages from the little spiral assignment pads your kids have left over from school. You know, the ones you have trouble ditching because there are 3 blank pages inside? Just cut off the raggy edges.

You also need a scrap of nice paper, like this Christmas paper I had left over from a few years ago.

Take a sheet of pad paper and use it to mark off the length and width.

Cut out the cover paper. You could trace it all around and cut with scissors, of course, but I love this thing.
Stack the papers up and clamp them together.

Stitch the pages together. I used a saddle stitch. Then, decorate the front any way you want--another good way to use leftovers from scrapbooking projects!

Now you have a little notebook that will fit nicely in your wallet (in case you are like me and don't like lugging a pocketbook around) and you'll always have your 'needs' list on hand!

I am linking to "It's Sew Stinking Cute" for Craft Thursday. Head on over there and check out all the great projects from our fellow bloggers!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

An idea and a question

We had about 40 trick or treaters and ended up with a surfeit of leftover candy. I put some in a big jug (actually, an empty Protein Powder container) and it is in the freezer. I will use the candy for stockings and recipes.

But one thing I did not freeze were all the leftover Reese's PB cups.

Does anyone know if you can freeze Reese's? Does it mess up the creamy peanut butter center?

Also, I have an idea to chop up some of them and mix them in with peanut butter cookie dough I have in the freezer. Obviously I would thaw out the dough but I think Reese's mixed into peanut butter cookies would be totally decadent. Don't you think?

BTW, candy corn is so cheap now--like 50 cents a bag. I have found that if you mix it with freshly popped and salted popcorn (I don't use butter), it tastes like a popcorn ball without all the fuss. And you have probably already heard that candy corn mixed with peanuts tastes like a Payday bar!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Duh moments

Two dumb things I did recently:

I ordered some buckwheat hulls from an Etsy shop (love Etsy!) to make heat pads. So I made a particularly large one that would sit over my shoulder. I heated it up for only a minute and it was fine, but the heat didn't last as long as I wanted.

So I put it back in...for 3 minutes. Remember, this is a large heat pad, maybe 16 x 20 inches. So I figured it would take longer. Stupid move...

...I set fire to the microwave. No kidding. I had to throw out the heat pad because there were scorch marks and the buckwheat inside was black.

The house smelled pretty bad for a while, and there are permanent brown marks in the microwave, but luckily it still works just fine.

My other duh moment isn't as bad, or as dangerous...just a middle-aged moment kind of thing.

I started work on a new crochet project, a scarf. The first row says: single crochet to last stitch, pl.

I'm wondering what the hell "pl" stands for. I look it up in my big Reader's Digest crafts book. Nothing about pl. I'm thinking...Purl Left? No, that makes no sense. What could pl be the start of. Plural?

Then I realized that's not an "L" like the letter, it's a "One"! As in...purl one?

Maybe I was working a little too hard on that shawl. Which, by the way, Dr. A just loved.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Finished Projects

I've been working on the shawl for months now, a little at a time. It is a gift for Dr. A, who had a birthday yesterday. I'll give it to her tonight. I had hoped to finish it Saturday, but still had a good 40 minutes of work to do on it with barely an hour before work. So I decided to finish it Sunday.

And just my luck, the yarn ran out about 5 stitches from the end. Okay, so I have to tear out the whole last row. It was a combo of half doubles, with 9 in one section and 1 in the next. I changed from 9 to 7 and made the 1 stitch a single.

It was meant to be one color, but I couldn't match the first ball of yarn so it's a contrast. I think it looks nice this way. This is a Lion Brand "One Ball Shawl" pattern, free on their site. It's one ball of yarn if a)you want it small and b)you get precisely the yarn they suggest. I added about 6 rows to this--the lighter pink, I guess. Dr. A is from India and is always saying how cold she gets, so I didn't want to give her a wimpy short shawl. I think she'll like this!

The bottom is my purple top. It was so easy to make and I'm happy to say I didn't have to alter it for fit. I just added a little around the v-neck to make it not so deep. Decolletage is fine if I'm out with Mike, but I want to wear this to work and I don't think low-cut things are appropriate for the office. Especially since I sit and the clients stand! No free shows here, LOL!

The fit and ease of use of this makes me want to try another Jalie pattern, but that will be for the future. Right now I'm busy working on some Christmas gifts!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

As Good as it Gets

Well, for what it's worth, here's the coat 99.9% finished. Just have to sew up the opening for turning the belt and maybe do a little handstitching to finish it here and there. I could wear it just like this, too.

It isn't perfect by any means, and my old college professors at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC would probably give it a C- if I was lucky. But hey, it fits and it looks pretty good. I know a few things I'd do differently so it was truly a learning experience. In the long run, the hardest part wasn't the lining, but the hems.

But at least I have a coat for the rest of the fall and any milder winter days!

Monday, October 18, 2010

I haz a cute kitteh

Nutmeg looked so cute cuddling a Halloween pillow (a quickie project I made) that I had to run for my camera before she woke up.

I love the "LOL Cats." I think Nutty would be a good candidate for a photo on that site!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Crafting

I really need to get on this blog more often than I do! It's just that I feel pictures make a blog more interesting and it's a pain taking and uploading them.

I've done some crocheting and knitting and sewing today. At the top is a dishcloth. It's just a simple square, but I wanted to practice something from a book I've got called "Around the Corner Crochet Borders" by Edie Eckman. This border is #10. It alters between chains, double crochets and popcorn stitches. It's hard to tell in the photo but it has a nice, ruffly quality. It took me about an hour from start to finish, and that's mainly because I miscounted the rows of the square and ended up with a trapezoidish thing.

You can see I've made real progress with the knitted blue scarf. Just one more section to go! I've had so much fun practicing new knitting patterns (frankly, most of it's new to me) that I want to start another project soon to practice something else.

The coat is done except for closing up the belt and pressing it. I don't have room in my crafts/sewing/writing room to keep an ironing board set up all the time, so I like to take it out in the living room when I have several things to iron. That'll be soon--it's cool enough to wear the coat now. (I also don't like to keep my iron out with animals running around the house--dangerous!)

What else did I do today? Oh, I cut out and started a simple t-shirt with a v-neck and 3/4 sleeves. I did the shoulders and the sleeves are pinned in place. I also remember to do the stay-stitching around the neck that will keep it from getting all floppy. I think it might be too big but it will be easy to size it down after the sleeves and side seams are done. It's a Jalie pattern. I've never used this brand before and it may be more 'true to size' than some patterns. In other words, large really means 'large.'

Stay healthy in this flu and cold season. I will try really hard to post again with in the next 2 days!

Monday, October 11, 2010


I was pretty nervous about the reunion. Honestly, if Mike hadn't agreed to go with me, I wouldn't have gone.

And I ended up having a really, really good time. My only complaint was that the DJ was playing the music too loudly. Hey, these are old friends I haven't talked to in decades. Could we have a little quiet so we can hear each other? What' s up with blasting music at weddings and other occasions, anyway??????

The funny thing is that the friends who were dearest to me back then were just as sweet now. I haven't seen my friend Marion in about 30 years, maybe more. Same with Ann Marie. It's been 10 for Judy and probably 20 for Barbara. And we just picked up talking to each other as if it was only a few days ago that we were last together.

They are all gorgeous. A few extra pounds here and there (a lot on me, LOL) but thank goodness for hair color and good haircuts. Nobody has to look 'middle-aged'!

A few guys sat with us, too. They were the nicer fellows. I only got snubbed by one guy, but I don't care 'cause I didn't like him 40 years ago, either. (Judy said maybe he just didn't recognize me. I don't think so.)

One guy, Mark, fell the day before and broke his jaw! And he actually showed up at the reunion, God Bless him. I told him I hope he feels better soon.

Have to say that we all looked pretty good for mid-50s. Some of the guys who were just so-so back then turned out quite handsome. (None as cute as my husband, LOL! Who, btw, is 2 years older than me and went to public school.)

If you've read this far (I love you if you did) the scoop on the coat is that I didn't finish it. It was far too warm for it. But I did finish my corduroy blazer, which was just perfect for my outfit.

I've also found that I have enough fabric to make a belt for the coat, which I started on today. It will work better for keeping out the cold than the button, I think!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Not so sure about this

The bad news is that I'm not really sure I can finish the coat by tomorrow.

The good news is that it's supposed to be in the high 70s, making it far too warm for the coat, anyway. So I think I will concentrate on the blazer, since that is part of the outfit I'm wearing.

I'm having trouble with the coat's hem. I've made hems before, but never involving a lining. I finally decided I'm going to let both hang independent of each other. (In other words, the lining and coat will each have its own hem.) I just have to be sure the lining is short enough that it doesn't show.

Still haven't decided on a belt or a button. I think this coat would look great with a wide leather belt in dark brown, but of course I'd never find such a thing.

I will be sooooo glad when this is done! I want to get working on my Christmas projects!

(PS--let my daughter try on the wrist warmers. Did I post that already? They fit just fine and I'm up to the thumbhole round. I think it will be a breeze from here. Hopefully, those are not 'famous last words.'

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Works for Me Wednesday and Coat

I'm pretty late to the Works for Me Wednesday party (better than 200 people ahead of me with great ideas), which is linked here:

but I just came up with an idea worth sharing over there. I have been lucky to find Southern Living Annual Cookbooks for really cheap at either garage sales or the thrift store. Today, I was going over some recipes trying to find ones that are good for freezing. What do you know? In the index of the SLA books they have both "Freezeable" and "Make Ahead" categories! Hooray, all I had to do was go down the lists and check off what looks good.

Having things categorized works for me!

And on the coat front...I sewed in the sleeve hems today. I'm happy to say they aren't too short (I shortened the pattern before cutting it out) but fall just about at my wrists.

I'm seriously considering, if I have enough leftover fabric, making a belt and forgetting the button. We'll see.

Be sure to visit "We Are That Family" for "Works for me Wednesday" and lots of great tips!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The lining is in

I'm happy to say the coat lining went in without a hitch. As you can see from the top photo, I've just started topstitching it, and it needs ironing big time. But I think I might actually finish this puppy before Saturday. That's assuming the button doesn't throw me off. (It only has 1 button. I might think of doing more if it works out right.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Ginny Baby

Here is the Ginny Baby Doll I found. As I understand, she hails from about 1965. Looks pretty good for a girl almost as old as I am!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Happy Sunday

I hope everyone has had a nice weekend. It's windy out today but the weather was very nice yesterday.

On the creative front:

I'm up to a point with the wrist warmers that I think I'm going to have to have Katherine try them on. She still won't really know what they are (gloves? mittens?) so it will be a semi-surprise. But for what the yarn cost and all the work, I'd hate to have them come up too small. I just need to check about where I want to make the loop for her thumb.

For my mother's scarf, I'm past the plain stitching in the middle and started on the fancier sections.

The lining for the coat is sewn and ready to put in! I'll have to be sure to concentrate on it so I can wear it to my reunion next Saturday.

I only have to do the hems and the green jacket I started last winter (!) will be done.

For the record, I'm tired. Dinner's lowing and slowing in the oven--venison. Ick. My husband and older son can have it. I also have a skirt steak or two to make for those of us who don't like game.
(I will, however, give the venison a taste to see if the BBQ sauce it's been cooking in for the last 4 hours kills the gamey taste.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I'm still here. I spent Sunday cooking up some ground beef for various recipes. I can't get into the Once a Month Cooking thing entirely, but I can get into some of the aspects--like having ingredients ready, or parts of meals. I started with 6 pounds of ground beef I browned in the oven in a big pan.

These are some meat pies I made. (I will resist the urge to make a Mrs. Lovett joke--Sweeney Todd fans will 'get it.') I just used store-brand biscuits for them. I split each raw biscuit in half and rolled it out as thin as I could. I put a nice mound of meat in the middle (how's that for alliteration?) and topped it with another piece of biscuit dough. I cooked these then froze them. We already had them for dinner last night and they were reeeealllly good. Here is the link to the recipe. I was lucky enough to have all ingredients on hand!

I also made up some of it for what I call Slider Casserole:

(I used 2 pounds for this as it is a family favorite!)

And for Ground Beef Casserole:

(Only the meat and tomatoes part--I'll combine the rest when I make it)

I also combined a pound of the meat with some cheese and green chilis (from a can) for enchiladas. And I left one pound plain so that I can throw it in sauce for quick spaghetti.

On the other side of the creative front, I've been working steadily on crochet/sew or knit projects. In fact, I'm signing off now to work on my daughter's wrist warmers, as the light from the window behind me is just right.

Oh, btw, the doll I got at the church sale is a "Ginny Baby" from 1965. Apparently she isn't worth much more than $20, but considering I paid about 50 cents for her, I think I got a deal, LOL!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I love Church Sales!

There's a church near me (Lutheran, I think) that has a big 'garage sale' twice a year. You just can't beat it for prices. Today I brought home a gorgeous "Vogue" baby doll (fully dressed down to her bloomers and bonnet), a popsicle mold (really nice--looks like Williams-Sonoma), never-opened plastic sheets for my laminator and 2 never-used sewing patterns! One is a Simplicity pattern for toddler clothing featuring a top, pants, overalls and a jacket. The other is a set of classic ladies' blouses (button front, collar) that, wonder of wonders, is in my size.

Oh, my gosh, I almost forgot the best...six skeins of cream-colored Sugar N Cream cotton yarn! Looks like someone started a project and just gave up. All the better for me, LOL!

And what did I pay for this treasure-trove of frugality?

Wait for it...

$3! Three dollars! Can you beat that? I am sooo glad I saw the sign last night for the sale or I would have missed a great opportunity!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finished Gift

Yesterday, I decided to do at least one row or round on pretty much all of the crochet projects I'm doing. Lo n Behold, I actually finished something! I started this little mittens and scarf set a year ago for a Christmas gift but never finished it. Which is pretty silly since all I had to do was one thumb and weaving in the ends. So here it is, ready to give this year to a little 3-year-old I know. It works out okay since it probably would have been too big for her last year.

I had made these mittens one-at-a-time but decided on a different strategy for the wrist warmers for Katherine. I'm doing a section on one, then the same section on the other. This way both will be done at about the same time. I think I'll do this with any other 'pairs' of things I make. As soon as I have enough to show I'll post a picture.

Oh, btw: the pillow that the set is on was made from two "Target Clearance" napkins. The one in the back is green. I think they were meant for summer but the colors work nicely for fall.I just covered up a couch pillow I already have.

Happy Weekend and Autumn, everyone! It's finally here, although it's so warm you'd hardly know.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

More on the Blouse/vest

Here's a few shots of the blouse-turned-vest. The camera doesn't pick up the turquoise very well--I think it looks greenish here. Ignore the messy desk on top. Actually, don't ignore it--I think I blogged about it on "Sorta Frugal," but fyi, it was free. Someone actually left this sweet desk on the side of the road! It's one of those that the front folds down and there's a bunch of cubbies inside. Amazing what some people consider trash.

Anyway, back to the top. I decided to do some fancy stitching down the front. It's times like this I love my sewing machine. I paid less than $200 for it at Wally World. It's a "Brother." I like that it has a pushbutton start/stop instead of a foot pedal. And a separate toggle for speed. Doing the diamonds would have taken forever on my old foot pedal machine!

Today I crocheted six more rows on the wrist warmers. I think I may have to at least let Katherine try this part on (the wrist) to make sure they will fit. I also did a round on the giant purple crocheted crayon.

Not really creative, but I went shopping at Sears today in the hopes of finding something to wear to my upcoming 40-year grammar school reunion. I almost didn't buy anything (I despise shopping, strange woman that I am) but finally decided to go outside my comfort zone and just try things on. I actually found 3 tops, all on sale! So now I'm happy. I just want to find a pretty jacket, too. I have a pair of black pants already but have to see if those fit. I'm just glad to have the top out of the way.

Putting an outfit together is somewhat creative, isn't it?

Monday, September 20, 2010


This is the blouse I'm currently working on. I have it done to the point where I could try it on. I decided to make it in a size 16, which is my RTW size (generally). It is just a little too small across the front but fits everywhere else perfectly. I'm going to mark the pattern to add extra just on the front where you button it. That way when I make it again (with the longer sleeves for fall) it will fit just right.

I'm leaving off the buttons for this version and using it as a vest. It has a tie in the back which gives in a nice shape. The fabric is a darker turquoise with bits of black and gold color throughout. It looks kind of like a starry night.

I'm halfway through my mom's scarf and started Katherine's wrist warmers. The scarf has been easy to do. The wrist warmers...well, let's just say I really don't like working with a small hook and black yarn. But I did find it is a lot easier to see what you are doing if you have a big window behind you and the morning sun is shining through it.

Fall starts this week, maybe tomorrow? I brought down more things from the attic, including tw wreaths. It's beginning to look more and more like autumn around. I might have said it before, but Halloween doesn't go up until the first of October, or at least the very end of September.

Happy Almost Fall, everyone!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Simple Idea

My husband wears glasses to read. He has numerous pairs around the house, any place he might need them. Reading glasses are cheap enough to buy.

I, on the other hand, am near-sighted. I can read without glasses and need them for distance. So I'm constantly taking off my glasses to read or do close-up work like crochet. The trouble with being near-sighted is that when you misplace your glasses, you can't see to find them!

Obviously, my glasses are prescription so I can't afford a dozen pairs. But I took a cue from Mike's idea of multiples to make eyeglass cases! I have one by my desk, one by the sewing machine and one in the dining room. Actually, I have another pair of glasses that I keep in the case in the dining room. They need repaired, by they are enough to help me see if I put my glasses down and forget where they are. Once I find them, the other pair immediately goes back into its case.

I made the cases bright so they'll be easy to see. I need to make a few more. I've also been getting myself into the habit of actually using them, even if I'm only sitting down for a few minutes.

These are nothing but simple little 'tubes' with one end sewn shut. I lined them to make them sturdier and nicer, but you wouldn't have to. You might be able to tell on the middle one that I finished the top with an easy overcast stitch.

Just a simple idea that makes life a lot less frustrating!

Friday, September 17, 2010

I know, not a very exciting picture. As you can see, I've ironed in the interfacing and pinned in the under collar.

I'm taking a break from the coat for a few days to work on the blouse. Since I had the iron out already I ironed in the interfacing for it. I have the princess seams, back tie and shoulder seams done. The facing is pinned in place. I'll sew that today. Next post I'll find a picture of it on line so you can see what I'm working on, but it's only a simple sleeveless top with buttons down the front.

On the knitting front, I actually finished a sock I started ages ago. I'm encouraged to start on the second one now that I know it came out pretty good. It fits my foot, anyway! I'm always working on the knit scarf since it's easy to do a few rows while watching TV.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Can you believe there was a tornado watch in Brooklyn yesterday? Brooklyn, of all places. It never touched down but the heavy rain did reach us out here in Suffolk County. There was a clap of thunder so loud while I was at work that it actually made me scream. And I loooove thunderstorms. But this was ridiculous. I actually had to shut windows 'cause rain was coming in and getting the paper on the exam table wet!

PS--ignore the 'no smoking' sign behind Sunny the Mannequin. Okay, don't ignore it as no one is allowed to smoke in my house. But this used to be my daughter's bedroom and she was always hanging nutty things on the wall. One of her friends wrote "WAKE UP" in chalk on the ceiling and it's still there.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Doily

I haven't quite finished the fall doily, but wanted to post about it anyway. I'm making this using a much larger hook (J, as a matter of fact) than the original pattern. I think it will look nice with a pumpkin sitting on top!

Didn't do much on the coat. I have the lining cut out and the back pieces pinned. I'll sew them today. If I'm really ambitious I might pin the summer blouse pattern.

As usual, I'll keep working on the blue scarf. I think it's going to be a gift for my mother, who likes the color blue!

Here's the link to the pattern for the doily. It's easy to follow and a nice, quick project!

Editing to link to a fall blog party over at "A Wise Woman Builds Her Home"--

Check out all the awesome autumness over there!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Coat with Sleeves

I put the sleeves in the coat today, but that is probably all I'll do. I'm in more of a knitting/crocheting mood. Did a few rows on the blue scarf and I'm working on a fall doily. I started the doily yesterday and will finish it today. I love those projects you can do in one or two sittings! I'll show it next post and give the link to the instructions.

I made a Sweet & Sour Broccoli salad for Katherine. I'm putting it in containers with slices of the buttermilk chicken I made the other day. It tastes really good cold, I'm happy to say! She'll be able to take it to work for lunch.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday Stuff

What I have done so far today (it's 12:55 EDT):

Row of Post Triples on the baby blanket
Untangled baby blanket yarn--what a pain.

Pinned my interfacing for the coat. (Yes, I finally bought it, the lining fabric and more thread!)

Made a new round on a Jack-O-Lantern potholder I'm making. It's about 5 inches across now.

Did a round on the socks I'm making. I'm almost done with the first sock!

Put new fabric in the wash for a blouse for next summer. If it fits nicely I will make it again with 3/4 sleeves for fall/winter.

Now I'm off to put the fabric in the dryer.

Hasn't my Sunday been exciting so far????? (Actually, this is JUST the way I like it.)

Afternoon, by about 2:30 p.m.:

2 more rounds on the pumpkin pot holder
Cut out the interfacing
Another round on the sock
Rolled up a ball of the black cashmere/merino wool yarn for Katherine's wrist warmers.
Pinned the coat lining.
Finished the round part of the pumpkin potholder!

I have made many potholders out of cotton yarn (Sugar N Cream, for the record) and I find that continuous use and washing means the ends tend to unravel. Now what I do is this: after weaving them in, I put a tiny drop of glue on the item and anchor down the 'tail.' Once the glue is bone-dry, I clip off any excess. Because the glue dries clear, it doesn't show and helps keep the project intact.

Did these while listening to a podcast over at CraftSanity, featuring an interview with Meagan Reardon of "Not Martha." A very funny and down-to-earth lady!

And between it all, I'm keeping up with the house and ate lunch. Dinner is already on the stove--my husband's Sunday pasta sauce!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Coat and chicken wings

The wings and egg rolls were a big hit. My daughter had her friend try the egg rolls, too, and both wondered why I didn't like them. Like I said, I'm not fond of the taste of water chestnuts. But I have a basic idea of what to do to make them so next time I will experiment a little.

Today I have Buttermilk Baked Chicken in the oven for Katherine. She can have it during the week or tonight. I rarely follow recipes to the letter and I thought this would look a little bland. So I mixed up a bit of ranch dressing mix with some Ritz crackers and sprinkled that on top to give it color. Yeah, it adds a few calories, but not too many. And I think it's important for food to look nice, don't you?

On the coat topic, I just pinned in the sleeves and will sew them either today or tomorrow. I have a really simple way of doing the basting to ease the sleeves into the armscye (or however you spell it). I got this from one of the Nancy Zieman books. Basically, you run a line of long stitches along the edge and when you get to the end of your stitching, you reduce the stitch size, pivot, make a few stitches then pivot to go back the other way. Then you increase the stitch size to basting again and make your second row. The little stitches are your anchor. It's much easier to do this than to do two separate rows of basting stitches.

The buzzer just went off and I took the chicken out of the oven. It smells really good. I did turn it halfway because I was afraid of the cracker crumbs getting too brown. So of course they got all mushy and fell off after all. But the chicken still looks nice. I'm going to make a broccoli salad and twice-baked potatoes to go with it. I have work in 3 hours so I will probably do that tomorrow. I see one or two other recipes from the WW book I might try later in the week. We'll see.

On the crochet front I did 2 more rows on the baby blanket. I'm about at the end of the skein. When it runs out I'm putting this aside to concentrate on Christmas gifts. I just have to remember to write out my instructions either on this blog or in a notebook: 1 row of singles, one row of doubles, one row of front post triples then a singles row that anchors down the back of the triples. I took a picture of that and showed it in an earlier post.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cooking for my daughter

Katherine has been going to Weight Watchers and hopes to take off some pounds for her wedding. I think she's already gorgeous but it's good for her health.
So I took a book out of the library: "Weight Watchers Favorite Homestyle Recipes." I've got Chinese Chicken wings cooking in the oven right now and made baked egg rolls earlier.

I fudged the egg rolls recipe a bit and left out the ground chicken, mostly because I forgot to buy it. They are now vegetarian egg rolls. They are pretty good, but next time I would leave out the water chestnuts. I don't like their flavor. I would substitute shredded cabbage instead. We'll see how the wings come out.

I've got some chicken parts 'marinating' in buttermilk for another dish. This one will go with twice-baked potatoes and a broccoli salad. The book wants you to start with 4 oz potatoes but I couldn't find any that small. I think it works on a different 'counting' system than the one Katherine is using, so I'll leave it up to her how to divide it up. Most of these things can be frozen for future meals.

BTW, taking skin off chicken wings is a PAIN. If these actually taste good I might just go for chicken tenders next time around.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More on the Coat

I found a small spool of thread for the coat so was able to do some sewing on it. I have gotten it to the point where I could try it on for size, and I'm happy to say it will fit me. There's always that worry. I actually cut this a size smaller than I usually do because I'm tired of things being so big on me in most places (see yesterday's post).

It looks funny without sleeves so those will probably be my next step.

After finding out the knit blouse I wrote of yesterday is too big, I had a thought for next time. If I am using a lighter knit with a lot of stretch, I'm making the garment a size smaller! I have no qualms about giving things away to charity if they end up not fitting. Sometimes I wish I had a sewing guru of my own to walk me through fitting and tailoring. Even after almost 40 years of sewing I still have a lot to work on, LOL!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I hate pictures...

...of myself. Okay, mostly of anything from the neck down. It is true the camera adds 10 pounds and I've got 40 too many as it is. I have such admiration for women who are comfortable in their own skin, no matter what their size.

Here is me in the top I just finished. I must have taken 15 pictures before I found one I can live with. I have a fitting problem in both patterns and ready to wear in that I'm 'healthy' in the bustline, but I'm only 5' 2" tall and not huge anywhere else. All patterns assume when you are a 'big' girl you are big everywhere. Can you see how the shoulders are too big? I think I will take a little tuck in each one, but other than that the top is done.

Half the time anything I try on looks like I raided my big sister's closet. Which would be impossible since she is 2 inches taller than me and has a killer figure. (So does my little sister.) Oh, and I couldn't raid it anyway since she lives in Georgia and I live in New York.

I think this top will be nicer worn over a white blouse. But I'm glad to have it 99.999% done so I can get working on other things, like the coat. I still have to get my thread for that!

Hey, btw, I learned a good trick. If you have a digital camera that shows the image on the back, your mirror will actually reflect what the camera will take. So, given the few seconds the timer allows you, you can move accordingly for the best shot.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I was happy to see that I'm able to do quite a lot of sewing on the coat before I even get to the parts that have interfacing. I have pinned the princess seams in the front and back and the center back seam. Since I have the morning off tomorrow, I plan to head over to the local fabric store for thread and interfacing, and lining if she has it.

I sewed in the neckband for my knit top. I was going to a simple binding, but because I cut it extra wide I'm making a different neck treatment. It will be a wide band and I will sew it down with several varieties of pretty stitching. I should be able to finish it by the weekend, at which point I'll take a picture.

This isn't a very exciting blog, LOL, but what it is is this: a way for me to keep track and not let things hang forever in my sewing closet, forgotten when new interests come along. And they will come along...I can't resist. Today I cut out the pieces to make a cute pencil case for a Christmas gift. I may not even start it for a while but at least the cutting is done.

I also purchased black cashmere/merino wool yarn yesterday. The price was 'ouch,' but I had a 50% off coupon. I am going to make fingerless gloves for my daughter for Christmas. She likes them and prefers black. A little pricey for homemade (roughly $15) but every girl should have a touch of cashmere, LOL!

Will post pictures soon.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Today is Labor Day. My "Labor" is working hard on some of my knitting and crocheting projects. I did five more rows on the scarf and another row on the baby blanket. I also did a row on a big afghan I'm making, which I'll photograph another day. I have been trying to alternate crafts with housework. So I have a bit finished in both departments. At least my living room is looking good. Oh! And I already have lasagna ready to pop in the oven later today. Don't you love it when dinner is ready to go?

My sewing goal today is to get the binding pinned onto a knit top I am making. I did finish cutting out my coat. I'm going to see if there's anything I can pin today, but I have to get interfacing so may not be able to progress until that happens. It also might help if I get some matching thread, LOL! I didn't realize the coat has a lining, but (as I think I mentioned last post) the pattern does say 'easy.' Promises, promises.

I'm ambitious to get things done because I bought two new crochet magazines today. I see some nice projects that will make great Christmas gifts. You know, it isn't that there aren't enough hours in the day. With no littles underfoot and a job that only takes 15 hours a week, I have plenty of time. Not that I really have plenty of time. Do you know that Christmas is only 109 1/2 days from today?