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Getting things done

This weekend has been a busy weekend.  After buying lots of fabric on Friday and even Saturday!  Yes, I went back and bought more.  I went WAY over my budget, but I have fabric to last me years and years.  Just like everything else I try not to ever buy my fabric at retail prices.  I bought loads of fabric a couple years ago when Hancock fabrics closed several of their stores in the area. That inspired me to work on some of my UFOs = Un-Finished Objects on Sunday.  My husband watched my daughter while I did some of them.  Then we all worked on organizing our office.  Perfect spring cleaning.

Getting Things Done

My goal for this year is to list out all the things that need to get done or I want to get done and then do it!  As mentioned before we have been doing yard work which has been a financial goal.

My husband and I have a lot of personal hobby projects that have been placed on the back burner.  I’ve made a decision to list out all of my UFOs and try to tackle several of them this year the more the better!

Holly’s Un-Finished Objects- Craft related

Not in any particular order. Here we go:

  • Wedding quilt – This is for my Mom.  I created the top before her wedding but still haven’t finished the quilting.  I’m tempted to save up the money and have a professional finish it.  This is a big project.
  • Duvet cover – Since I moved into this house I wanted my bedroom to look a particular way and I decided I wanted a beautiful embroidered red duvet cover but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t “dry clean only”.  So, I came up with my own design and I’ve purchased all of the materials.  I’m super excited to create this.
  • Purse with bamboo handles – This was a project that I bought at the Sewing Expo a couple years ago.  Could become a perfect gift!
  • Black Asian Flower Bag – Not sure if this will be a purse or a shopping bag but I bought this fabric like most of my fabrics at a deep discount.
  • Baby/Toddler Blanket – After the big snow fall this year I got the sewing itch and wanted to create my daughter and husband their very own flannel blankets.  Of course, I didn’t have flannel in my stash (now I do) so I bought several yards of flannel to create them blankets. I successfully finished his blanket which we all love to use while watching T.V.  Now, I need to create hers.  She even helped pick out the fabric.
  • Sister’s quilt – Another project I’m looking forward to jumping into is my sister’s quilt. A couple years ago she went to the store with me and purchased all of the materials so I just need to get in there and start cutting.
  • Wedding Scrapbook – I have my wedding scrapbook that I want to finish.  I have all of the photos organized I just need to cut out paper and glue them down.
  • Flowered Double Quilt – This is technically my first large quilt top that I started in 1997 (i.e. high school)!  I finished the quilt top a year or so ago but haven’t gotten to the point to baste it and quilt it.  I’m tempted to save the money and have a professional quilt it for me.
  • Cowl Neck Olive Green Blouse – I bought some beautiful soft stretchy fabric for this project at less than $1 a yard.  I believe I bought 4 yards and can easily make a blouse with each yard.  Plus, the pattern was under $2.  I pretty much finished this project yesterday.  Woohoo!
  • Sorority/Fraternity Letters – A couple years ago I created several t-shirts with custom letters on them.  I still have a couple left to sell and hope to get back into selling these in the future.  I have one set outstanding and want to try and finish this.  I have a little bit sewing left to do.  Woohoo!

On the back burner:

  • My Wedding quilt – I have a design in mind but I haven’t purchased any materials for this.  Someday I will have this done!
  • Baby Bibs – After creating this pattern for Baby Bibs.  I love making them and I have found so much fabric including a couple yards of pink terry cloth I bought over the weekend.   Perfect Baby gifts.

House Un-Finished Objects

  • Clean the windows – We installed new windows in the last couple years.  They look amazing but they need a good cleaning.  I’m putting this higher on the list because I want to make sure this gets done this spring.
  • Ceiling – Paint a small section of the ceiling in the family room.  Just a touch up.
  • Cube shelving – Paint the cube shelving we have in our basement black.  Similar to the black cabinet.
  • Organize Office – We just received some FREE furniture in our office.  Big thanks to our friends for this!  We are in the process of re-organizing the office so it works for us.  I’m coming up with an organizational plan so that I can get things filed faster and easier. Plus, only the essentials are going into the office.  Nothing extra.
  • Scrapbooking and Photos – My plan has been to create scrapbooks for all of the photos that we have and in some cases I’m thinking I will just scan them and then create electronic scrapbooks.
  • Organize closets – its been a long time since I went through each closet and cleaned each of them out.

I’m sure I will be updating this soon.  It will be fun to see what I finish. I hope I don’t add to many more projects to the list.  What are your UFOs?

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Gardening 2010 – The Box, the Dirt, and the Seeds

Last Saturday we put together “The Dirt” for my Square Foot Garden.   See my first post HERE.

My hubby created the box a couple weekends ago.  He decided to use pre-treated wood for this project.  There is some controversy of using it because of the chemicals that are used such as extra copper so its up to you if you want to use it. It will last for many years which is a big benefit.  See more information HERE from Home Depot which is where we purchased it.

Seed Starter Kit at Home Depot: $15.98

Strongly suggest stopping at Walmart and picking some up.  I saw them discounted down to $6!  I might pick up 2 for next year just to have the peat moss starters.  Not a bad price.

Cost of box:

2×10-8 Pressure Treated $8.97

2×10-8 Pressure Treated $10.97

4×4-8 Pressure Treated $6.97

1×2-8 Pressure Treated 2@1.97 = $3.94

1×2-8 Pressure Treated 4@1.97 = $7.88

4- Finials on clearance 4@1.00 = $4.00 (Will probably add some deer fencing to keep them out and my hubby thought that having the corners tall we can attach the fencing easier.)  These were a great price and they look nice.

3×3 Angle metal mounts  8@2.28 = $18.24

Cost of Box = $60.97


The cost of the Dirt at Lowes:

5 – 8qt bags of Vermiculite $3.97 each = $19.85  (used only 2 bags so far will add more as I plant)

3.0 Cubic Feet Peat Moss $8.96

1.0 Cubic Foot Leaf Humus Organic Compost $4.78

Humus Muniure Organic Compost $9.98

Leaf Mulch FREE (except gas to get it)

Leaf Compost FREE (side yard)

Cost of Dirt = $43.70

The cost of other Seeds and plants:

I know this is my first garden and we’ve spent quite a bit already.

Marigold yellow flowers $1.25  (Deer don’t like Marigolds)

Zuchinni $1.25

Onions $.95

2 – Sunflower $.20  = $.40 (Walmart)

2 – Carrots $.20 = $.40 (Walmart)

Other plants:

Not sure if this will go in the garden or the front house landscape.

2 – Lavender plants $4.95 each

3 – Mint Plants $2.95 each

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Gardening 2010 – Our first Garden

Lowes Trip 4/2/2010

Gardening 2010.  I can’t believe it.  I’m going to garden this year.

This year my hubby and I have decided to try and grow a vegetable garden.   This is not only frugal but also healthy and educational too.   We live in the woods where the deer are plentiful, so that has caused us some doubt so we aren’t getting our hopes up.    We decided a couple months ago to create a small garden in our front yard where it would be easy to maintain with our toddler daughter.

Then earlier last month I was looking at my favorite organizer site DIYplanner.com and saw this Garden Planting List which is based on the Square Foot Gardening method, so I had to check it out.  To my amazement everyone else in the frugal blogging world seems to be doing the same thing.  Yesterday, I put a “hold” on the book at the library since everyone in the area seems to have checked it out.   It is a super popular method.

What is Square Foot Gardening method?

Super simple.  Create an above ground grid approximately 6 to 8 inches high by 4 feet by 4 feet square.  Fill in the mix with 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 coarse vermiculite (no dirt needed).  Per the web site a blended compost made from many ingredients provides all the nutrients the plants require (no chemical fertilizers needed). Peat moss and vermiculite help hold moisture and keep the soil loose. It’s best to make your own compost from many ingredients.

Last weekend we created the grid for our Square Foot Garden.  I’ll post a picture tomorrow.

Today, my dear husband went to Home Depot to get some materials for our garden and materials for our new play ground.  We are working on several landscaping projects, our front landscape per our 2010 Savings Challenge, our backyard play area and now the garden.  At this time, we are doing a lot of it ourselves.  Which is a lot of fun and it has saved us a lot of money.

Then later this evening we all hopped into the car and went to Lowes to get the rest of the ingredients to start our garden.  We got 1 large bag of Peat Moss, 2 different bags of Compost: 1 organic manure and humus, and 1 organic, plus the vermiculite.   We also are going to include our own leaf compost from our backyard which is very rich, and some dried leaf mulch that we got from the dump (still deciding how much to include).

The vermiculite was a little expensive and it doesn’t look to be “coarse”.   I strongly suggest going to a nursery and checking the prices there.  I’ll post my prices shortly.

I have to go rest now my allergies are really acting up.   Tomorrow is going to be a busy day!   My daughter is going to love getting in the dirt.

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DIYPlanner.com – Check it out! Get Organized for 2010!

Organization is a never ending battle.  No matter what life throws at you, you will be disorganized at one time or another.  There have been times I have been so organized it felt great, but life does happen and that planner gets left at home, or the monthly to-do list gets misplaced on the kitchen table with the mail.  Now, that I’m a working outside the home Mom, being organized is a dream!  Even in my About Me I mention my struggle with organization – “I hope as time goes by I will have the opportunity to learn to organize my time better and post deals as well as shopping trips.”

I was a Day-Timer fan for years.  I still have a place in my heart for the Day-Timer concept, it has a very nice simple layout and using the binder I could move pages to different sections at will.  The last year I used it I started having more and more problems being able to move pages without getting frustrated with the binder.

A dear friend of ours introduced me to Levenger Circa, which I had never seen before.  Basically think of a Rolodex but in a notebook.  You can carefully pull the pages out and then put them anywhere you want!  The down fall is the Levenger brand paper is a bit expensive and the Circa punch at a silly cost ($58!).   Levenger has a couple stores including one in the Northern Virginia area at Tysons Corner Mall, and you can ask (nicely, of course) for a FREE sample and they will create for you a sample (I prefer junior size) to try it out!  It is wonderful!  What a great concept!

Me being the savvy shopper that I am wanted to find a deal and back in the fall Levenger had a sale on Circa products on their website.  I was able to get some of the items on sale and then I ordered the $40 sampler packet with the $40 gift card I could put that towards the Circa punch.

Now, I have all of the tools to create my very own planner! The best place to check out is DIYPlanner.com, that has lots of templates and even a simple program to create your very own planner.  I can have a daily calendar as well as a monthly calendar exactly as I like it.

Speaking of a great site to learn about planners it also has my next favorite subject -financial planning.  This link has some templates to create envelopes to help you with your financial planning!

Since it is tax time and the beginning of the year what a perfect time to mention this stuff.

What do you think?  Have you heard of DIYPlanner.com or Levenger Circa?

Img Source:  All You

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How to Defrost Chicken

I’m spending the day with my daughter today inside since it is snowing!  We’re trying to relax but that’s not easy when she wants to run around.   Right now she is napping and I’m taking a break!

She wasn’t interested in playing when I was preparing the crockpot for the  Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan,  it took several attempts at distracting her in order to defrost the chicken and get all of the ingredients  into the pot.   I found a great tip on how to defrost chicken without making it rubbery.

Tip: Check it out HERE! This is for one chicken breast.

Put it on a piece of foil while you heat your oven to 200 degrees. When it reaches 200, turn off the heat, throw the chicken and foil in the oven, and wait twenty minutes. This will thaw your chicken without cooking it, or creating those tough, over-cooked bits that you get from microwave defrosting.

I was defrosting 4 very large chicken breasts that were in the original packaging so this is what I did.

1.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees and leave it on.

2. Take a cookie sheet and put foil on it.

3.  Place chicken on the foil and then place another piece of foil on top of that.

4. Put it in the oven on the bottom rack.

5.  Since these were very large chicken breasts I gave them 20 minutes and then flipped them over and gave them another 10 minutes.  There were only a few parts that were still frozen!  I then continued with my recipe.

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How to make a Stocking?

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I guess you can say I’ve always been frugal in some way or another.   I might not have used coupons as much as I do now and I didn’t always reach for the lowest out of pocket expense but I loved to make crafts with scrap fabrics.  Did I mention that I like to quilt?   I haven’t had much time since I have a little girl, but I do love to sew.

You may have seen my post on – How to make a Baby Bib? A super easy project that you can make in about 15 minutes as long as all of your supplies are in reach. Today, I’m going to show you how to make a pretty stocking right before you need to set them up for  tomorrow night!  What perfecting timing, if I say so myself.

These are pictures I took last Christmas season when I made my daughter’s stocking.

Supplies Needed:

  • 1/4 yard of 1 or 2 matching fabrics
  • Matching Thread
  • Matching Ribbon to hang the stocking
  • Needle or Sewing Machine
  • Trim (optional)
  • Tracing Paper or Fabric pattern material or plain paper

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Step 1:  Create a stocking pattern.   You can create one by free hand or by tracing an existing stocking.  Use the tracing paper or fabric pattern material.  Make sure you add at least a 1/2 inch seam allowance.   Layout the fabric you want to make the body of the stocking –  right sides facing each other.  Cut 2.

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Step 2:   After cutting 2 stocking pieces together take the pattern off the fabric and make sure the fabric is pinned.

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Step 3:  Create the cuff of the Stocking.   Take the second fabric and make a decision as to where you want the stocking cuff to end.

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Make sure you include a 1/2 seam allowance.  Pin the pattern to the fabric –  2 sides facing each other.  Cut 2.

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Step 4:  Sew the body of the stocking leaving the top open.

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Step 5:  Sew one side of the cuff.  See above.

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Step 6:  Now for the fun part!  Adding the optional Trim.   Open up the Cuff – right side facing up, and place the trim with the rope trim pointed up and the sewing trim pointed down up against the sewing seam of the Cuff.  See above.

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Step 7:  You are welcome to do this by hand but I love using my sewing machine.   This will take you no time at all when you use your zipper foot like I did here.   Move your needle to the far left and sew as close to the rope trim as possible.  If you decided not to add the rope trim just turn the bottom of the cuff up about 1/2 inch and sew.  Simple hem.

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Here is the result after sewing the rope trim to the cuff.  Super easy!   Now, sew the side of the cuff to the other side – right sides facing.

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Step 8:  Next attaching the Cuff to the Stocking body.  This is a lot easier then you might think.   Take the Cuff and lay it out like I have – right side out.   Take the Stocking and lay it out like I have – wrong side out.    Then place the cuff seam against the top of the Stocking body.   Then pull the Cuff – wrong side showing – over the Stocking body.   Sew the seam together.

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Above is a picture of the final seam after it is sewn.

IMG_4511Merry Christmas!

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Making your own Holiday Envelopes!

envelope

This last year I got Martha Stewart Living
for free!   The magazine has a lot of creative ideas.

This evening I was looking for Christmas labels and I found this creative idea for envelopes. Using the Martha Stewart method and you don’t have to spend any money! Use some of the scrap wrapping paper from gift wrapping.

Unfold a regular envelope. Choose patterned paper larger than the envelope (or stick mismatched pieces together with glue). Trace the envelope onto the paper, fold (use envelope as a guide), and secure with glue stick. If mailing, add a label.

A couple years ago I found Floral Vintage Collection: Cards, Envelopes, Tags and I created cards and envelopes for peoples birthdays and other celebrations.

Image source: MarthaStewart.com

Note: I am an affiliate with Amazon.com

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Calligraphy Project – Christmas Cards and Wedding Invitations

Besides starting Christmas shopping and finishing up Thanksgiving turkey, in the evenings I’ve been working on practicing my Calligraphy for a family member’s wedding invitations.

virginia

Here is an example of my Calligraphy version of “Virginia”.  It’s funny how words look odd after you look at them for a long period of time.   As I practice, I’m also writing my addresses for my Christmas cards.  Might as well!  Practice makes perfect.

I found to be really helpful if you are interested in learning Calligraphy to watch the following videos.

Videos:

Image: Discoverahobby.com

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How to make Liquid Foaming Hand Wash?

dial

I’m a huge fan of Dial complete and other liquid foaming hand wash.  For several years I would buy the refills at Walmart.  Now, I look for good deals everywhere I go.   I’ve tried in the past to make my own but it would come out foaming for a day and then it would stop working.   The best deal I’ve found to buy it at Aldi I believe it is under $2 last time I was there. Then here is the recipe for refilling your container!

1. Find some gel like liquid soap.  I recommend gel form because it needs to dissolve.  The creme version will not dissolve and the pump will not be able to foam it.  You can get the gel form really cheap!  You could even try gel shampoo.

2.  Then right before you have completed the original formula approximately 4 tablespoons left,  I recommend this is the best time to refill it!  If you already finished it that is ok.

3.  Add about 3 to 5 tablespoons of gel liquid soap.

3.  Add hot water to the bottle but don’t fill it all the way.  I suggest leaving a couple inches for room to shake the bottle and fit the pump into the bottle.  Some bottles have a line for refilling.

4.  Shake the bottle so that the gel dissolves.  The soap will foam a lot in the bottle.  Keep shaking until the gel dissolves.

5. Tada!  You have liquid foaming hand wash.  Super cheap!

My daughter LOVES to wash her hands with this soap.  I squirt a small amount on each of her hands and she understands to rub her hands together.