crafty inspiration and the waiting horror in the girls clothing department

Oh, this book, 101 Days of Christmas by Mandi Ehman looks like fun. I love craft inspiration and I read about this one on Simple Homeschool and it’s free on Amazon for Kindle today.

The temperature high here today was about 75 degrees (Fahrenheit) and it actually felt cool. Moving from New York to the Pacific Northwest – it took us more than a year to acclimate to the cool (okay, cold to me) summers. Moving here at the very end of May, where temperatures soared high into the hundreds – I kept well hydrated, keeping our numerous Klean Kanteen bottles full of chilled water every time we went out. Add sunglasses and sunblock and we were ready to go. We managed to do a lot, as well as numerous visits to the pool. The entire time, I was more comfortable in this weather than I had been during our years in Washington and during the oppressively humid summers back East. I really love this climate.

And now, here it is, 71 degrees currently at the end of September and it feels cold. Suddenly, yes, it is autumn. I have pulled out my craft box, gone through the numerous skeins of wool yarn, pulled out my many crochet hooks, looked longingly over the Knifty Knitter that I was so certain I would take to like a fish takes to water. It seemed so fun, so simple. Once I got it and read how to do it, I put it away until a free moment, and haven’t looked at it again until just the other day.

I haven’t made clothing since I sewed a really ugly blouse in Home Ec. Now I  have to go through my supplies and figure out what super easy clothes I can make. I found  patterns I had bought at a thrift shop and put away for “someday”. Someday is here.

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We did some online clothes shopping for the girls the other day. I went into ebates  (just letting you know, if you click on that link and sign up for ebates, I will receive $10. for each opened account) and then checked retailmenot and armed myself with coupon codes and with dreams of savings, I went head on into clothing sites. I should have paused and recalled each and every year of clothes shopping. Needless to say, nothing was purchased. I know that I’ve brought this up before, but I don’t want my younger children to wear some of the clothes they sell. Low rise jeans, shirts with glittery messages, midriff baring anything. For the past few years, we’ve gotten off easily, buying yoga pants, and boys shorts (which are longer) and plain color t-shirts. But my youngest is very very into fashion and wants to dress differently. My eldest is not really into clothes, but is beginning to care more about appearance. They both want more input into what they wear. I understand this and I also respect it. I want to encourage it. But I don’t want them dressing, let’s call it like it is and say slutty umm, precociously, as many children their age do (I assume that most parents are more than accepting of this forced early sexualization since they continue to buy the clothes the industry churns out year after year.)  I want something different.

 

 

Do you make any clothing for your children? How did you improve your sewing skills? Do you find it practical given the cost of fabric/necessities as opposed to clothes? Or, if you do purchase clothes for your children, where do you find inexpensive, yet quality basics?

Dish soap!

In trying to avoid the stinky smelling Biokleen dish detergent my husband picked up, I spent a little time looking up how to make your own dish soap.

I’ve made my own laundry detergent for ages, and I can’t recall why I imagined making dish detergent would be so difficult a process. I found a couple of recipes that I may play around with and make tonight.

Haven’t posted in a while for two reasons – 1) I’ve been packing a lot, that combined with homeschool, household, play time – has eaten up the majority of my time. And 2) From packing – my upper back and shoulders are screaming at me daily. Typing is a torture I haven’t been indulging in much.

Do you make your own dish soap? Have a favorite recipe you’d like to share? Is it cost-effective? Time consuming? Easy as anything?

Spelling…

As much as I love my Kindle (and I really, really do adore it) there is one instance when only a book will suffice.

Let me start this off by conveying to you my immense loathing of shopping. Picture it if you will – when it’s time for new clothes, I hold off as long as possible and then head to the thrift store. It’s also the thrift shop or Land’s End overstock for the children (my husband is 6’5, so all his clothing we generally buy new, it’s not often I’m able to locate his sizes).

I used to have a soft spot for purses – Coach. At One point I had seven different Coach bags, but this was when I was single and far more flush. I love living frugally. I actually have fun researching where the best price for something is, but there is one aspect of life where I want to buy just everything appealing (and so, sooooo much of it is) – homeschool supplies. Programs, a box full of books delivered to my door. When my children were younger, it was the boxes of fluffy mail I waited for with bated breath, now, I know what true happiness is when I place some homeschool orders. Piecing together a curriculum, using the best items for my types of little learners at the best prices I can find is certainly a satisfying endeavor. But, oh, how I occasionally long to spend like I used to, on homeschool needs.

Example in point – my children are currently seven and eight – I’ve read fantastic things about All About Spelling, but I’ve also heard quite a few negatives. Being as frugal as I am, I don’t want to spend $60. on a relatively new product to find out whether or not this is a program that works for us. My children spell quite well, orally – writing or typing out the words correctly is the issue. I’m currently looking at the The Writing Road to Reading, which teaches the Spalding Method. I’ve read that AAS is basically a simplified teaching of these rules – I don’t know how accurate that is, as I have no experience with either. The only negative I’ve read about utilizing the Spalding Method is that it can be difficult to ‘get‘, and difficult to implement if you prefer a scripted method.

I’m intrigued by AAS though, and think we’ll wind up with it eventually.

What do you use for spelling? How many programs did you try before finding one that worked for your child(ren)?

Eating organically on a budget.

Now that we are closing in on moving in less than three months, in the spirit of saving as much money as possible, I’ve spent the better part of my day wondering how to cut our grocery budget.

I try to buy only organics, I cook the majority of our snacks, I eat a solely vegan diet, although my husband doesn’t and my children occasionally partake of eggs and meat.

 

I re-read all the old standby advice –

      1. Join a co-op – Great advice, but not always sound, for example – I’ve found that it’s far less expensive to buy organics anywhere but the co-op in this area, where the prices are jacked up higher then I ever paid in Manhattan, NY.
      2. Grow a garden at home or at a community garden – Again, terrific idea, but what if you live in a teeny, tiny walk-up apartment with nowhere to put even a window box? Or you live in such a polluted area, that you don’t want to bother even trying to garden? Or, there are no community gardens nearby?
      3. Bake and cook from scratch – I already do that and I still want to cut my budget.
      4. Buy from the bulk bins – this works wonderfully for a lot of people. However, it does not work for us. My youngest daughter has severe food allergies and considering how I have on numerous occasions seen people using the incorrect scoop in different bins, there is a ton of cross-contamination going on in those things. We can’t touch them.
      5. Farmers markets – Awesome for the warmer months, but what to do during the other months when there no markets if you don’t live in California?
      6. Canning/Dehydrating and Food Storage – I love to get a box or two of ugly tomatoes from one of the local organic farms, let them ripen, and then spend a day with my husband making up and canning batches of tomato sauce. But (you knew there was going to be a ‘but‘ in here) what if you live in a super small apartment, or don’t have space? Hey, I’d love to get a separate freezer, but I don’t have the room for one.
      7. Shop at Trader Joe’s – I’d like to, but I don’t live anywhere near one.
      8. Join a CSA – this is something I’m looking forward to trying after our move.
      9. Create a menu before food shopping – then, write out a list and stick with it – I’ll admit it, I don’t always make up a menu before I go shopping. I do, however, make up an idea of what I’d like to prepare based on what season it is and what we currently have in the pantry, then I write a list and stick to that.
      10. Buy in bulk from stores like Costco/Sam’s Club/BJ’s – This is one I do stick with, but I’d still like to further cut my grocery costs.

 

Obviously, this is an incomplete list, but you get the general idea. Some things I can do – I can start perusing new library cookbooks and looking online for fresh ideas (my own cookbook collection has grown rather stale) and make up a menu for the week/bi-monthly, shop accordingly, and stick with it.
Out here in the PNW, I miss having a kitchen herb garden, but I have a tiny window that never gets sun (it’s under the patio roof) and there is no where that I could have put a little garden where it would have gotten regular sun (I carefully packed up my East coast kitchen herbs and my husband drove them out here, and they died within 6 weeks). This is one thing I’m looking forward to after moving.

 

What are some of your tried-and-true methods for eating organically on a budget?

Cutting the (cable) cord

After my husband and I got married, one of the first things we did after we moved was get cable. We’ve had cable since then – almost nine years. We went the whole way with them too and signed up for the triple package – cable, phone and internet. Where we live now, there are no other options for phone service, unless you want local service where calling 10 miles away constitutes “long distance”, and calls are regularly dropped. We have no mobile service inside the house – sometimes if my husband stands in just right the spot about a mile into the yard, he can get service. Sometimes.

We’d been long disappointed with C*****t and decided to remove some of our money from their pockets. However, we do need a phone and internet. So, we got rid of our cable, which will work out to saving us about $1,000. a year. One thousand dollars a year. So, we decided to sign up for Netflix, a streaming only package and Amazon Prime, neither has everything that we’d like to watch, but both options are a lot better than paying $1,000. a year for the honor of watching new episodes of “Doctor Who” on BBC and “Arthur” on PBS. Some of our favorites are/were …

Doctor Who (BBC)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Archer (FX)

Lidia’s Italy (PBS Create)

Jamie Oliver (any of his shows)

Burn Notice (okay, anything with Bruce Campbell!) (USA)

White Collar (USA)

 

I mostly miss being able to watch “The Golden Girls” on Hallmark before falling asleep. I miss being able to watch “Arthur” on PBS with my children.

 

I read a lot more. I have more free time to put “I Love You” jars together for my children on Valentine’s Day as well as one for my husband, I’ve spent time editing, and I’ve been able to work on plotting out my newest novel as well as writing letters to friends who I appreciate, just to let them know how much I appreciate them and care for them. I’ve also gained about three pounds since I’ve been baking a lot more with my free time.

 

I know I’ll be able to watch the shows when they’re on DVD, in the meantime, these past few evenings my husband and I have been sitting on the couch together and we’ll watch either old seasons of ‘Doctor Who’ or ‘The West Wing’.  I’ve found a number of documentaries I’m looking forward to watching also.

 

 

Do you have cable or have you cut that cord? Do you watch shows online? Or rent DVD’s from the library, etc? What are some of the shows you don’t want to miss?