Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pop! Blanket Progress

I am now done with housesitting and back at my parents house.  I have recently been trying to organize my knitting projects.  Instead of always starting a new project, I have decided to try and finish up my in-progress projects.  This week I am concentrating on my POP! blanket.  I started this blanket back in August and sadly it has been dormant ever since.  What is neat about this blanket, is that it is done in small squares and then sewn together at the end.  That means that I can carry a square at a time with me and not have to carry the entire blanket along.  Hopefully now I will be able to get it finished within a reasonable amount of time.  The picture above shows 18 squares using 2 skeins of the noro (the colored yarn).  I have 3 skein left, so I figure the finished size should be perfect for a throw/couch blanket. 

Pop Blanket

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli

I have been spending a lot of time lately reading blogs about homesteading, homemaking and being frugal. One of my favorite blogs is Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel. I was catching up on back posts and came across a recipe for pumpkin ravioli. Not having any dinner plans, I decided I would try my hand at pasta making (without a pasta machine or attachment). Instead of a pumpkin, I used butternut squash. These turned out great! I did make one huge mistake with the dough. The recipe said to let the dough sit for 30 minutes before kneading. I let it sit alright, but then completely forgot to knead it. Ha! Come time to roll out the dough I couldn't figure out why it was so sticky. Next time I will knead the dough and maybe it will be a little less dense. Regardless, the ravioli was great and the filling to die for! I had extra filling, which I combined with some heavy cream to make a sauce.

I will definitely be trying my hand at this again!

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Garden Apron

In keeping with the sewing theme this week, I made an apron.  I have had this fabric and pattern in my sewing box for a while, I was just too scared to actually cut the fabric.  Being holed up housesitting, I finally sat down to start cutting.
  I made Amy Butler's Barcelona Skirt in sewing class (we got to pick our own projects) last fall.  The apron pattern is included in the skirt pattern, so I didnt have to buy a new pattern.  I didnt realize that the pattern is reversible making it double the work.  But I love it now that everything is said and done.  Sorry for the crappy cell phone pictures, its all I had while housesitting.

The apron is done in two separate pieces and reminds me of chaps.  I am considering sewing this closed, but am not sure how it will affect mobility.  I have decided to use it as is for now, and I can always sew it shut later.

The back side.  Love the ties!

The reverse side matches the ties and band in a simple green gingham.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sewing in the Kitchen

Here are some examples of what I have been working on kitchen wise this week.  
Sandwich baggies
Ruffled tea towel

Pot holder- I couldn't figure out the binding, so it has binding on one side and not the other...

Black napkins- I am hoping they get more of the black in. Otherwise I might have to make 3 white for a total of 6

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Make it do... or do without

After yesterday's post on failing in frugality, I thought I should spend more time working on my new motto.  I recently embroidered this sampler with the old saying
"use it up,
wear it out,
make it do,
or do without"
I always love the "idea" of something.  I had convinced myself that I would follow this mantra to the core.  However as exampled in the un paper towel episode, I haven't quite got it down yet.  If I needed towels in the kitchen, I could have used regular dish towels that I already own- making them free.  I could have used an old t-shirt, or flannel shirt.  I could have even sewed those towels from yesterday, but using materials I already had.  Instead I ran to the store and bought cute fabric.  Apparently I don't understand the "or do without" part.  I am no where near claiming to be perfect, and hopefully by acknowledging my short comings, I will be able to work on them.  I know that when I repurpose something I already own, or that is given to me, I feel so much more accomplished.  I am more proud of "making it do".  Until then, I will frame my embroidery (in a frame I already have) and try to take the mantra to heart.  Otherwise its just a pretty embroidery hanging on my wall, which is not what I want.  But it is pretty...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Failing in Frugality

I love to read books about frugality.  To read blogs on saving money.  To make budgets and watch the numbers work magic.  I love to think that I am frugal...  However if being frugal were a class, I would have got an F this week.  I was browsing on etsy (mistake numero uno) and saw these super cute "un" paper towels.  I am not a fan of disposable paper products when they are not absolutely necessary.  So automatically I loved the idea of "un" paper towels.  I added a bunch to my cart (mistake numero dos) in my usual fashion.  Typically while on etsy I will add a ton of items to my cart and then narrow it down to one or two.  The average cost for a set of towels was over $50.  I thought that was ridiculous.  $50 for paper towels?  I can make that for less money!  So off I went to the fabric store (mistake numero tres) without a plan.  I figured 2 yards of the print would be good.  Then I bought terry cloth for the reverse side.  I decided my towels needed to be like the ones on etsy complete with snaps.  So I bought snaps.  And snap pliers.  When I went to check out, my bill was over $70.  Yikes!  I had to pay since the fabric was cut already.  So much for trying to do it "cheaper".  My consolation is that now I won't have to buy the snap pliers again, so that cost should be factored in at less.  And 2 yards was waaay more fabric than I needed.  I was able to make a bunch more projects and even gained $20 by selling two of my sandwich bags (which I did not intend to sell but gladly did).  So that brings my total down to $50 which is what I would have paid on etsy, and I got way more than one etsy listing.
  All in all it worked out ok, but the most important frugal lesson here, was that I should not be allowed to browse etsy or pinterest without locking up my debit card (good thing I don't use credit cards or I could have got in serious trouble!).  I would have saved the $70 if I never thought I needed "un" paper towels in the first place.  Hopefully I have learned my lesson (and I have some cute towels!).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Granola Recipe

I got this recipe from my friend via an email, and I feel its ok to share, since it is just a base recipe and I have no real original source.  I have included her original recipe below.  I used cashews (it was all I had on me and I wasn't going to go to the store for a different nut).  Instead of all raisins, I did half craisins and half raisins.  Talk about yum!  Come time to bake it, I spread it out on 3 cookie sheets so that everything would turn crispy.  Oh and I doubled the recipe...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In one bowl, dry ingredients:
3c oats
1/2c roughly chopped nuts 
1/2c raisins 
1/2c wheatgerm (oat bran works here too, or you could skip this)
1/4c powdered milk
1/4c unsweetened shredded coconut
Stir with fork or clean hands

Another bowl (microwaveable), or pot:
1Tbsp honey
1/2c brown sugar
1/4c butter
1/4c H2O

Heat up all these last ingredients till all is melted, stir, then pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread out on cookie sheet and put in oven. I check on things every 5-10 minutes, stirring as needed. The edges cook faster so I bring that stuff to the middle, you know mixing it. Usually takes 15-20 minutes. Cool completely before putting in a jar. If its still warm and you close the jar, the granola won't be crunchy.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

A girl. A Sewing Machine. An addiction.

This week I have been house sitting.  There is no cable and I am loving it!  It forces me to be productive.  I brought my sewing machine and laptop with me.  While its always strange to be in someone else's house without them there, it also makes things simpler.  My spare time (in between work and caring for the animals) is spent watching a dvd and sewing/knitting.  So far I have made two and a half socks- one complete pair, and I just turned the heel on the first of another pair.  I brought along some veggie fabric, with the thought that I would make reusable paper towels.  The frugality of my project will be saved for another post.  Not only did I make 10 "un-paper" towels, but a whole slew of other items.  I made a matching wet bag to hang on the oven.  This way, I can throw in a wet towel and not have dirty laundry laying in the kitchen.  Then I made 2 sandwich bags- complete with a PUL liner.  PUL fabric (which I used in both the wet bag and the sandwich bags) is a waterproof fabric that can be wiped clean.  So if I pack a PB&J sandwich and jelly gets on the bag, no biggie.  Just wipe it down with a sponge.  Genius!  I happened to find 3 fat quarters in the same fabric, but black and made 3 napkins.  And a ruffle tea towel.  And I am just getting started.  I still have 3 days left of house sitting, and over 2 yards of fabric... Once everything is finished Ill take pictures so you can see just how productive I have been.  Did I mention I made homemade granola?  (You can see in the granola picture, the black veggie fabric napkins).  Yum!  I poured a little organic whipping cream from a local creamery on and oh!  It was heaven in a dish.  I will definitely be making the granola recipe again sometime soon.  However now I am pouring Almond Milk on instead of Cream since I don't need the extra calories.  But it sure was a nice treat!  I think I am addicted to both the granola and sewing...and knitting... If only I got paid to sit home and craft!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Seven Things That...

Over the past few months I have been doing a lot of soul searching and finding out who "Jessica" is.  I thought I would share a little about me with you all.  In true me fashion, I thought this would be a quick post, but it actually was hard to do!  Hope you all enjoy!

Seven Things that Scare Me:

* Job Interviews
* Lack of Control
* Losing loved ones
* Not following my dreams
* Not Caring About Not Measuring up to Society
* Finding Out Who I Really Am
* The Ecomony

Seven Things I Like:

* Chocolate
* Antiques and Their Stories
* Nice Yarn
* Coffee
* Babies
* Dirt under my Nails
* Fireflies

Seven Random Facts About Me:

* I have never broke a bone
* I have finished a marathon
* I have walked on the Great Wall of China
* I am fragile
* My first kiss was in Australia
* I hate sand
* I am allergic to horses

Seven Things I want to Do Before I Die:

* Become a Mom
* Learn to be content with what I have
* Live in Alaska
* Be fluent in Spanish (again)
* Become Self-Suffient
* Make a living at Home
* Be an amazing wife/friend

Seven Things I Can Do Well:

* Knit
* Read
* Listen
* Homestead
* Connect with Kids
* Waste time on the Internet
* Coupon

Seven Things I Can't Do But Wish I Could:

* Sew/Quilt
* Have Self Control
* Follow through with Commitments
* Always see the Positive
* Run
* Fly
* Accept People for Who They Are

Seven Phrases I'm Known to Use:

* Oh crap!
* Shit!
* Help!
* What were they thinking?
* What was I thinking?
* Oh Shoot!
* I can't believe it!

This meme was inspired by

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Little Bit of Yarn?

In the name of being frugal, I decided to organize my yarn "stash".  Typically if I want to start a new project I would run down to the local yarn shop and buy some new yarn (and usually an extra skein or two just because).  That has to end (for the time being), so I figured why not organize my yarn so I can shop my stash.  I already know I love the yarn so this should be fun.  Once I got in the thick of organizing I realized I might have a small addiction.  For example, I have enough yarn to make over 29 pairs of socks.  I could knit one sock a week for over a year, and that's just socks.  I have the yarn for 3 sweaters and 2 blankets.  I have a ton of lace yarn as well as un-dedicated skeins.  I can make multiple hats, gloves, scarves and lace shawls with the variety of yarn I ALREADY own!  My goal for 2013 will be not to buy any new yarn (unless I have a gift card or someone else pays).  I will knit from my stash and try to get creative.  It will be tough to change my thinking of wanting to buy new yarn, but doable.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves...

Friday, January 4, 2013

Changes Are A'Comin

Hello!  Anyone still out there?  I see that my last blog post was in November.  Yikes!  Let me apologize for not giving you all more attention.  I have been working out a ton of personal issues both on my own and with my counselor.  I am so excited to say that there are going to be some changes coming, and soon.  I can't say just yet (no I am not pregnant or anything like that) but I did want to share my hope.  Victory Garden Farm is going to pick back up in a different way.  Although these changes are positive, they mean there are also going to be difficult changes. 2013 is going to be super frugal, by necessity.  I am talking no Starbucks, Netflix or eating out (to name a few).  There will (hopefully) be gardening involved.  No animals quite yet. 
  In keeping with the World War II Victory Gardens, we will learn to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do with out".  I will not be buying yarn (unless I have a gift card).  I will not be buying clothes at the mall- hey goodwill has a big selection too!  I will be fixing things (maybe that will be the title of my next post) instead of buying a new one.  I am going to learn to be frugal, or even more frugal than now.  My garden will give me hope.  Not that it will bring soldiers back safely (like during the war) but that it will bring me back to ME safely.  Since leaving Maryland in July I have been figuring out what I really enjoy and what I don't enjoy at all.  I enjoy having dirt under my nails vs gorgeous french tip acrylic nails.  This past year I have had both.  I enjoy the hard work that my "old" life blessed me with.  I don't enjoy sitting in front of the tv or computer bored.  I enjoy making my own, grown up decisions.  My counselor and I have been working on not letting others tell me what to decide.  Which brings me to why, I can't tell you (yet) whats going on.  Some people very dear to me might not (cough- won't) like my decision.  I am learning to be ok with that.   I need to be unafraid of making mistakes.  I need to learn to pick myself up and get back on that proverbial horse.  Until now, I didn't feel that I had the freedom to say this is what I am doing.  I might fail, I might not, but either way, its something I have to do for me.  If it works then I will be on the moon.  If it doesn't work, I want to say I gave it my all.  I wasn't afraid to try and fall.  I am not afraid.  It is my prayer that those around me (who will not be thrilled with my decision) will accept that and support me despite of their hesitations. 
  So with that, dear readers, I am raising up my sails and picking up my anchor.  My telescope is focused on where I want to go, and the wind is in my favor.  Changes are a'comin I say, oh yes they are!