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?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Sewing Stuff

I'm making a noble effort at a fall coat. It is McCall's See & Sew Pattern 5515. It says it is supposed to be easy. We'll see about that. I'm making the longer version.

I picked out a very soft, almost cashmere-like cotton fabric in a brown and beige herringbone. It actually looks and feels like a soft wool. It's a small pattern so I don't have to match it. It's lightweight so this will be for the fall--assuming I can finish it in time. I still have another fall raincoat I started years ago that is 95% done. Maybe I'll take it out and actually finish it this year.

So this morning, while the local news is talking about Hurricane Earl moving up the coast, I pinned the coat pattern. I'm going to start cutting it out soon, but took a break to watch "The Goonies" (and all-time favorite), have my lunch and clean up my kitchen. Oh, and I knitted a few more rows on the blue scarf.

Now it's after 2 and I'm just seeing rain and a little bit of wind. I heard there are 10-foot waves out at Montauk (the end of Long Island, in case you don't know). We are on the North Shore, which is higher up, so we won't get flooding. I'm just hoping we don't get too much wind here, either. I don't want a power outage. Oh, well, if it happens, I can knit or crochet by candlelight, LOL!

For anyone down South, I send you my best wishes for safety. Earl's been downgraded but any storm is a storm too much!