Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Looking Back over May

I can't believe it is already the end of May.  I've spent the last four days down -- sick with the cold my husband had the week before.

 I thought I'd take the time to recap how I did on my May goals and try to decide on my June goals. 

For May I only really had four goals because I knew it would be a crazy month.

 Goal 1 was to sew four garments for myself.  I managed to sew a dress, a gown, a cardigan, and a pair of shorts.  I also sewed a shirt for my husband.  I cut out another dress for myself, but haven't been able to sew it yet.  

 Goal 2 was to work on a fall sweater.  I am pleased to say that I am to the point I am working on the collar band.  After I finish that portion I will have to do the sleeve ribbing.

 Goal 3 was to finish a book I was reading.  I was able to do this and find a second novel to start.

 Goal 4 was to continue to hang clothes, work on the grocery budget, and maintain my houeshold binder.  

 I've done a little drying of clothes in the dryer because we had one weekend where we were traveling.  I needed to have the laundry ready to go with my husbnad in an afternoon's time.  

 On the grocery budget, I went slightly over my $500 projected....coming in at $534.  However, that included my daughter's graduation party and some items that went into the freezer that will be consumed in June.  I'm fine with that total.

 On the household binder -- I did okay.  Not perfect, but okay.  Everyone's schedule has gotten really busy and I finally gave in and purchased a calendar to use for scheduling.  I was able to get one from May of this year through June of next and it was on sale.  Having all appointments, etc in one place and in an easy to carry along format is nice.  I have however kept up expenses, etc in the household binder.

 On the overall electric bill -- I stayed within a few dollars of the previous month, so I am happy about that.  

 Budget wise -- we went over our entertainment budget, but the expenses were alloted for future events.  We've purchased tickets to a Renaissance Fair.  I will pack a picnic to offset some of the cost of this day trip.  We also purchased tickets to attend a symphony in November.        

So all in all I consider the month of May to have been a success.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wednesday's WIP

I've been knitting along on my sweater for this fall.

Since this photo was taken yesterday morning, I have finished the second sleeve and started on the other front panel.
 
I have just enough of a cold to not want to do much of anything, but I'm not sick enough to be down in bed.
I've spent hours watching my favorite British mysteries and knitting.
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Monday Monday ....

My husband stayed home today...still not feeling perfect.  I had an errand to run and while I was out I stopped in at Aldi to pick up some sodas.  They had eggs for 89 cents a dozen so I picked up four dozen while I was there.  I also picked up some salsa because I was totally out.  (I had originally decided I would just do without it, but since I was there anyway I went ahead and got some.).  I managed to spend some time in the kitchen today.  I baked two loaves of French bread. The recipe was one I hadn't tried before.  The loaves aren't as pretty as I would have liked, but my family says they taste good so I consider it a win.
 
Of course, the menu changed when I found out my husband would be home.
Kind of funny, since I didn't make it through Monday.
I marinated some pork chops and grilled those.
I served them with fried cabbage, carrot sticks, and cucumber slices.
 

Weeks Flying By and Menu Plan

Two of the three of us have been sick all week.  I'm surprisingly the well one.  I've been slack in my online reading, but I'm hoping to catch up this upcoming week.  School starts back and I am expecting to get on a more even schedule.

I've decided to do a two week self imposed no grocery shopping plan.  I am allowing for eggs, milk, and cheese as needed.  We have plenty of everything else. 

In preparation for school and the upcoming eat from stock plan, I've been working in the ktichen.
I took 10 pounds of extra lean ground beef and made up items.


2 1/2 pounds of taco meat
2 1/2 pounds of meatballs
8 stuffed peppers
2 1/2 pound of meat made into hamburger steak patties

I kept out three tacos worth of taco meat, and I cooked the hamburger steaks in the slow cooker.
(The hamburger steak was for supper on Saturday night, leftovers for Sunday supper, and then some for my husband to take with him for the week.  This is his favorite meal so he wanted extra.)
Everything else went into the freezer.

This added beef to our Zaycon supplied ground turkey, pork and chicken.

Since my daughter will be on a new schedule, I decided to get a jump on breakfasts, too.
I cooked a double batch of waffles -- 20 in all.
I ended up with 15 for the freezer....some will go with my husband and some for my daughter.


Our menu plan for the week for evening meals is:

Beanless chili with quinoa
Stuffed pepper for me and a burger for my daughter
Cajun beans and rice
Mac and cheese
White Lasagna, garlic bread, peach crisp
Pork chop casserole, mashed sweet potato casserole, cauliflower
BBQ meatballs, rice, green peas

I also intend to bake some snacks, but I haven't decided if we are having brownies, cookies, or cupcakes.




   

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Healthier Meatloaf (Recipe Included)

My daughter-in-love sent me a link for this recipe for meatloaf.  I'm never one to leave things alone and much prefer to cook both to taste and based on what I have on hand.
This is my version of this meatloaf.  It was a hit!

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 6 cup muffin tin and set aside.

Grate:
1 med/small carrot
1/2 of a green bell pepper
1 small yellow (crookneck) squash
1/2 of an onion (I used white)

Mix in a bowl:
The grated veggies
1 egg
1/4 cup of ketchup
1/8 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt 
Basil 
Oregano
1 pound of ground turkey breast

Fill each cup full.


Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes.
(I cooked a second dish at the same time and increased my cook time to 36 minutes.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Travel Friendly Cardigan

One of the items on my list of 13 is a cardigan.  I opted for a travel friendly fabric -- one that doesn't seem to wrinkle despite me tossing it in my bag.  I used an old pattern from the 1990s.

The fabric was a new experience for me.
It took me several tries to figure out what stitch length and machine foot were necessary to make this fabric go through the machine without puckering and waving like crazy.  

I think if I had to do it over again I would add some simple ties to the top.
However, it actually hangs well as is and if I want to fasten it, I'll add a brooch.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Easy (Portion Controlled) Cheesecake


For an easy Mother's Day dessert we made these simple cheesecake cups.
I found them on Pinterest and changed them to match my allergy allowances.

Preheat oven to 350F.
Put 6 silicone cups in a muffin tin and put 2 vanilla wafers in the bottom of each cup.

In a bowl mix, 
8 ounces of softened cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
2 teaspoons of lemon juice

Fill the muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set.

Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan.  Remove from pan and refrigerate.
Serve with (or without) topping of your choice.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Free Food

I'm always a mixture of amused and grateful about the amount of produce that is given to me.  I hear from people something similar to "I know you'll do something with _______."   
When I picked up groceries this week I debated buying carrots.  I told myself that I would use up some of the canned carrots I have and went on my merry way.  
Yesterday I came home to a huge bag of fresh, local carrots.....a gift from my brother, who was given them by an elderly lady in his neighborhood.  There ended up being three that I had to toss, but I have more than enough carrots for the week now.

In fact, I just finished telling my daughter that we would be having carrots in everything.  

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Non Sewing Kind of Day


Yesterday in my hurry up and wait stge I made a quick toddler dress.

We survived another graduation and actually made it back home by 9:30.
We settled in for pizza and a movie....and when I woke up at 4:30 the house was dark lol.
I barely remember the beginning of the movie.

Today I started with a simple household chore list, but realized as I started that I really felt like doing more.
The whole house has pretty much had a quick spring clean, with the exception of my bedroom.
Not too bad for a couple of hours work.

I'll be spending the rest of the day doing things with my daughter and won't be sewing....maybe tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chatter and Summer Nights

This is just a general chatter of what's going on and what's flowing through my mind.
  •  This week is my daughter's graduation.  I can't believe how quickly her first two years of college have flown by.  
  • I went to Aldi this week and stocked up for the next few weeks.  I spent $192. This included potting soil and all the supplies for a graduation get together.  I'm thinking other than milk and a few oddities that I won't have to shop for a month.  That's the plan anyway.
  • I finally planted the patio garden.  We have basil, oregano, Roma tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and bell pepper potted.  I also planted a "hummingbird" mix of flowers in a pot to go by the front door.
  • I'm ready for the heart monitor to be off!  Tomorrow is the day...thank goodness.  It isn't painful, but it is kind of irritating.
  • The last few days have been kind of cool temperature wise....the house has stayed in the 60s.
  • Daughter sold back a college text book. 
In the midst of general errands and life, I'm still working on my sewing projects.  Even though the temps have been cool, I know summer is coming.  I decided to go with a lightweight gown for my sleepwear portion of the challenge.

The lace, thread, and fold over elastic all came from my stash.
The floral print (reminds me of watercolor flowers) came from the remnant bin at JoAnn's.
The pattern is from an older Kwik Sew lingerie book that I am not sure is even in print anymore.
Total cost for the gown is approximately $5.
My personal challenges for this project were:
1.  Using this lace.  I had never sewn with it.  I opted to keep seams less bulky by using the fold over elastic for finishing it off.
2.  I'm still working on more professional finishing.  I overlocked all the seams and used a lovely lilac thread for stopstitching.  The inside looks like a purchased gown.

I'm not sure which piece I will work on next.  I'm torn between a skirt and the cardigan.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Somber Wear


Somber wear seems like such an odd category to me.
I rarely ever wear all black or all of one color period.
I love florals and almost all other prints.

For my somber wear, I pulled from my stash some dark navy fabric with a simple floral pattern.
I've had this fabric for a good 13 years or so.
I bought it when I was learning to sew some simple things.
Of course, it is slippery fabric and I never could bring myself to try sewing it up.
This challenge offered me the perfect excuse.

The fabric, pattern, zipper, and thread all came from my stash.
(An old pattern from before the giant box I purchased....in fact, I don't remember buying it at all so I am thinking it may have been one that was given to me.)

The detailing doesn't show up well, but the waist line has an inverted v and there are slight gathers under the bust.

In keeping with my personal challenges:

1.  The fabric is indeed slippery and a bit fiddly.  This dress took a lot of pin basting.
Then the fabric wanted to fray and I spent a lot of extra time carefully finishing each seam.

2.  I put in an invisible zipper.  It took two tries, but I finally got it.

3.  I cut two sizes larger for the top and graded down for the waist and hips.  My basic shape is an inverted triangle.
I'm broad shouldered and larger through the bust.  It took a couple of tries of fitting the waist, but I'm pleased with the results.

However, this dress does remind me of why I very rarely wear dark colors.
They just don't make me happy overall....so somehow this seems perfect for my somber wear.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Summer Days aka Shorts Weather


Summer days are fast approaching and in the South that means hot weather is on the horizon.

In the sewing challenge one of the items we could make was a pair of dress pants or slacks.
I asked for, and received, permission to substitute dress shorts and everyone was fine with that.
In my area, a pair of longer shorts made of a dressier fabric and a nice top can be worn almost anywhere.

In keeping with my personal challenge to myself I used this as an opportunity to expand my skills.

These shorts are made with a bottom weight cotton with a bit of stretch.
I cut out one size and graded down the hips to the next size.
I still kept them loose enough because my personal preference is slightly looser dress pants.
These have my first ever attempt at a mock fly and zipper.

The cost wasn't horrible on these.  I actually found the fabric on clearance at JoAnn's.
It was the end of the bolt and there wasn't any more to be found.
However, there was a perfect amount for shorts for me.

The thread, zipper, and pattern all came from my stash.
Total I have less than $7.00 in a custom fit pair of shorts, so not too bad.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sewing for my Husband

I've never made a man's button up/down shirt before -- or hadn't until now.

Even though this isn't on my sewing challenge, it is in keeping with my desire to learn new skills. In addition to being the first try at this, I also practiced some other new skills.

 1. French seams -- not as hard and as mysterious as the name implies, but the extra edge stitching and seaming adds a lot of extra time to the garment.  However, the finished result is nice.

 2.  I also had to add length to the shirt because of my husband's height.   I am thinking about naming my seam ripper, because she and I are now on friendly terms.  I've apologized for what I said when I had to take the collar off.  It took me two tries with it, and I think it still isn't perfect.  I really didn't want to ruin the fabric by taking it on and off repeatedly.  It is more than fine to wear...just a flaw I see. It is in need of a good pressing, but all in all I am pleased with the results.

 (The lighting isn't great, but it is actually a peach color more so than a pink.)

 Oh, this one was pretty frugal, too.  The fabric, thread, and buttons were all from my stash.  (Well, frugal if we don't try to figure up a cost per hour kind of thing.  It took me a long time, but since it was my learning experience I'm okay with that.)


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trying New Things

I'm challenging myself to try new things in my sewing.  I'm assuming sewing is like most skills....if I want to advance, I'm just going to have to jump in and do things.

 So my first project is to try sewing with chiffon.  I have my "vision" for my dress.

I started by researching dresses on Pinterest that had details I liked.  I have my fabric.  I've found a pattern that has enough of the details I liked.  Now I am left with cutting my fabric and I'm afraid to cut it.  LOL.



What I have done is cut out the same dress pattern in a different (but similar textured) fabric.
My hope is that it will become a wearable toile. 

I'm not expecting to actually get to sew on it until next week, but I have everything ready.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Sew a Long Challenge

The Facebook sewing group I am a member of does contests/challenges.  The challenge for this quarter is sew 2 items from a list of 13 wardrobe essentials in May and June and then 2 more items from the list in July and August.  The rules are you can choose any two per month divide, but cannot overlap categories.

The list is a pretty good list:

1.  Cocktail dress -- AKA the much esteemed Little Black Dress
2.  Skirt
3.  Shirt/Blouse
4.  Trench coat
5.  Blazer
6.  Dress slacks
7.  Jeans
8.  Dress
9.  Night wear or lingerie
10.  Work out Clothes
11. Blazer
12. Cardigan
13.  Accessory

There aren't really many rules past that.  The patterns can be old/new/self drafted, etc.  Reasonable interpretations are allowed.

I've been planning my list of attack.  I'd really like to make as many of the items as I can simply because I am working on expanding my skills set and each of these items offers a great opportunity to learn something new.

Amusingly I have on hand fabric and patterns for everything but the jeans.  I actually have a pattern, but not the fabric I would need.  The accessory might be an issue, too.  I'm kind of up in the air about it.

I requested permission to do a dress style shorts for the dress slacks.  I'm kind of retired and it is totally too hot in the South for me to want to wear dress pants.  Thank goodness I can get away with a nice "dressy" shorts.  So that is first on my list.

I've also planned a dress that I'll share some about tomorrow.

May's Goals

It is officially May, and I've tallied the month of April, moved my sheets to the back of the binder, and looked ahead.  I've been trying my monthly goals -- as opposed to New Year's resolutions -- and I think I much prefer this method.  It allows for the flow of life.

 May is shaping up to be another busy month.  We have birthdays, events to attend, a family reunion, and my daughter's community college graduation.  Knowing this is going to be the case, I've decided on setting some totally selfish goals.

 1.  I want to sew four garments for myself.  I have the patterns, the fabric, etc.  One is more complicated than the others, but three should be relatively quick and painless.  I just need to take the time to do them.  Each of them has some element that I want to learn more about.

 2.  I want to continue to knit a few rows a day on the sweater I am working on.  I'm hoping to have it as a fall addition to my wardrobe.

 3.  I want to finish reading a book I started back in early February.  I'm thinking I'll start over at this point, because I just wasn't very far into it.

 4. I want to continue to hang our clothes, watch the grocery budget, and use my household binder.  I'm expecting the electric bill to go up because it is a/c time here, but the other things I can control. 

That is it!  If I can accomplish those things this month I'll consider it a productive month.

Childhood Foods Revisited

While my husband and I were drinking our morning coffee, we were reminiscing about favorite elementary school meals. We both agreed tha...