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Friday, December 28, 2012

Advent Devotions for December 28, 2012

This is the second and last devotion I wrote for the church booklet. I hope it is a blessing to you.

December 28, 2012


Read Matthew 2: 1-12.


Here we read the story of the Magi bringing gifts to Jesus. The story calls Him a young child at this point, and it has been decided He was close to two years old by the time the Magi arrived. It would take a long time to travel all the way from the East after first seeing the star of Bethlehem. They brought with them some very precious gifts, fit for a king. Could this be Jesus’ first birthday party?


That’s what we do too, isn’t it. All the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins come bearing gifts for a young child’s birthday. Not to mention the birthday cake complete with candles for the number of years, and maybe balloons and other decorations, and it is a happy time. We might not bring gifts fit for a king, but many of them can be quite expensive these days.


What kind of gifts do we bring to Jesus for His birthday now? Have you even given any thought about bringing Jesus a birthday gift? We often spend a lot of time choosing gifts for loved ones, hoping that it is something they will love and cherish, and think of us whenever they see it.  And for Jesus, do we just toss a little extra in the offering plate and call it done?  What could we give Him that He will love and cherish and think of us whenever He sees it?


Dear Lord, I come wishing you a Happy Birthday.  I bow before you and give you my heart and soul, and ask that you show me what else I may give. I thank you for all the amazing gifts you have given me, most importantly, eternal life. Amen


Wiley Post Steak

We received a little over 4" of snow by this morning. It is a very fine and light snow - so fine that you could barely see it coming down. But it came down steadily and accumulated. Now the sun is shining and the snow looks like it has been dusted with the diamond dust glitter that is used in crafts. Very pretty. I wish I could get a good picture through the window because I am not going outside in the cold just to take a picture. Sorry to be such a wimp.

Today I am making an old recipe that is a long time family favorite. It is one that my mother clipped from a newspaper column probably over 50 years ago. She passed away in January 1971 so we know the recipe is older than that. I have no clue as to why this is called Wiley Post Steak, but I do know it is really good.

Prepare 2 lbs round or chuck steak by pounding until the meat separates slightly. Pound 1 cup flour and salt and pepper to taste into both sides of steak. Sear meat in hot fat until brown. Transfer to large baking dish. Add 2 1/2 cups water, a medium onion, sliced thin, and garlic if desired. Bake covered in 275 degree F. oven for 3 hours. The meat forms its own gravy. Serves 8
I always use round steak and usually have it tenderized so I don't have to pound it. The steak I am using today has not been tenderized, but it is usually very tender anyway so am going to skip that step today. The recipe doesn't state it, but I also cut the meat into serving size pieces before flouring and browning.  I will dredge the meat and press with fingers to work it into the meat a little more.
I use an enameled roaster, mostly because that is what I have and it works really well for this. You can also use the crockpot but mine is busy cooking a pork roast for pulled pork today. And since it is cold outside, having the oven on will be comforting.
I have also made this with venison steaks. I did that for a dinner party after my husband had gotten his first deer, but I didn't tell the people they were eating venison. They didn't know the difference and liked it so well that they kept eating more. This is a dish I have used many times to feed guests as it never fails.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Devotions

My church had members write a daily devotion for a booklet that was given to all members to use during Advent. Here is one that I wrote for Dec. 21.

December 21, 2012

Malachi 3:1-2

1 "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the Messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty.

 2But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.  


These verses caught my attention when I saw them on the list for this devotional because I recently looked at them in connection to the Covenant study we are doing. As with all Scripture, each time we look at them we see something different, depending on what we may be dealing with in other areas of our lives.

 “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me.”  This is a prophesy of John the Baptist who will prepare the people to receive Christ the Lord. Then the people will be anxiously waiting for this Christ to arrive, and suddenly He will show up. Here Christ is called ‘the messenger of the covenant’ because He brings with Him the message of the New Covenant – the covenant of grace. Because we believe in Jesus we are part of that covenant. Jesus is our covenant partner. If you have not studied about the covenants of the Bible you may not understand the importance of being a covenant partner with Christ and all that is included in that. Just know that it is important. One commentary says that all the covenants of the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the New Covenant of Christ.

There are a couple of ways to look at verse 2. It sounds a bit harsh, and makes Christ’s coming as something to fear, but since we are His covenant partner, we do not need to be afraid. To say He will be ‘like’ a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap can mean that He will be very bright like fire and very white and clean.  That sounds more like Christ’s second coming.  It can also mean that He will do the work of a refiner’s fire, separating the dross from the gold. And the launderer’s soap is the kind that bleaches the clothes to make them as white as possible. This brings to mind that we are told His blood washes us white as snow.

Since Christmas is only a few days away, we should be preparing ourselves to welcome again the anniversary of Christ’s birth, a holy day (holiday) of great importance. For, if He had not been born, salvation would be beyond our grasp. But because He came, He brought salvation to both Jew and Gentile – to all who believe in Him.

From now until Christmas prepare yourself for the rebirth of Jesus within your heart, and to allow His presence to grow there.

Dear Lord, prepare my heart, allow it to soften and open up to Jesus’ presence so that He may abide in me and I in Him forever. Amen




Sunday, December 16, 2012


Friday was the time to hit the grocery store for their 2-day sale again. These are the bargains I got ~
~ Jack's 12" pizzas @ $1.98
~ store brand 8 oz bag shredded cheeses @ $1.48
~ Birds Eye Steamfresh frozen veggies @ .58
~ Birds Eye regular frozen veggies @ .58
~ 3 lb bags of frozen boneless chicken breasts @ $5.99
~ store brand 8 ct. hamburger buns @ .88
~ store brand 18 oz. peanut butter @ .88 - limit 2
(yes! 88 cents!)
~ store brand 56 oz square ice cream @ $1.28
      (advertised price was 1.99 but another store had theirs for 1.29, so this store allowed one at that low price and the rest at the advertised price)
~ store brand 5 lb bags white flour @ .88 - limit 2
~ 5 lb bag of Betty Crocker russet potatoes @ .88 w/coupon
~ Cheetos @ @ $2.50
~ Doritos @ $1.98
~ store brand gallon milk @ $2.88
I paid $3.98 for a gallon of 1% at Walmart last time. It has really gone up in price. Was getting it there for $3.29 -3.59 for awhile. I could have gone back yesterday and picked up more flour and peanut butter, and a few of the other good buys, but now my freezer is quite full! So it is time to stop shopping and start cooking.
And the last bargain I got was the local bakery's almond patties @ $3.99 - 6 per package. They regularly sell for $5.59 now. They are a much loved Dutch treat here in this Dutch county of Iowa. I have not seen them anywhere else, though they can most likely be found at Pella, IA as that is a big Dutch city. Below is a picture of one.

It is a flaky puff pastry similar to what is used in creme horns, and has a filling in the middle that is almond paste, then the dough is folded in half over the filling and baked. It is so good and so rich.

When I was in high school I had a good friend that was Dutch. She made almond bars that I thought were so good, and got the recipe from her, which I still have. But I have not made them for years so will have to dig to find it among my many cookbooks. I will post that later when I find it. It tastes similar to the above patties, but doesn't have the flaky crust.

I will add here that if anyone would like to taste these goodies, you can order some online from the bakery and have them shipped to you. My niece has done that to give as gifts. I will say, though, that doing that isn't exactly frugal (but worth it).

Here is the link:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Surprise Prize!

A little over 5 weeks ago I received an email saying I was chosen to receive a $25 gift box of Hodgson Mill products - one of 10 people chosen because we voted in a pizza contest on their Facebook site! I didn't even know they were doing that. I just voted for one of the bloggers I have followed, hoping she would win the big prize, and she did, by the way. I was told I would receive the box in 2 to 4 weeks, but after 5 weeks nothing had showed up. I sent an email to the person that informed me and wondered if this was all a joke. She promptly sent a reply saying it was ready to ship the next day, but the next day - yesterday - the box arrived in the late afternoon! This is what was in the very heavy box ~

The bread flour is a 2 pound bag and the rest are 5 pound bags.

Doesn't the European Cheese & Herb bread sound good? That just might go in the bread machine tomorrow. The box on the right is whole wheat angel hair pasta. I have never tried whole wheat pasta so that will be interesting.

This is not the greatest picture. It is fast rise active dry yeast. I think I count 5 packages. I foresee a lot of baking going on soon!

I like the fact that these products are GMO free. My youngest daughter found out a couple years ago that she has a wheat allergy. There are many more people with such allergies now than there were 30-40 years ago, and some people think it is because of the grains grown today in America are genetically modified organism products. I heard someone on Dr. Oz show say just the other day, that the wheat today is not the same as it was in the 1950-60's. I guess that would be referring to the GMO. His theory is that those altered grains are what is causing us to gain weight as a nation too. :o(  Maybe some of us react to them as my daughter has, with an allergy, while the rest of us have reacted with gaining weight.

That gives us all something to think about, doesn't it. Maybe we should all be making a stink to the companies that are doing all these unnatural things to our food, and buying only GMO free foods. What do you think?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bargain shopping

This is another post that should have been done a month ago. The things in the picture are the bargains I got a couple days after Halloween, so many of them are Halloween related, and others must be discontinued products that my Walmart will no longer carry.

There are 5 Jif jars there. They are all the mocha cappuccino flavor of Jif's answer to Nutella. I love anything that says mocha, cappuccino, hazelnut, chocolate, and this fits all those categories! I paid $1.50 each. Regular price - $3.94. Saved $2.44 each for a total of $12.20 saved.

Three cans of pumpkin spice flavored almonds @ $2.29. Regular price - $4.58 for a savings of $2.29 each = $6.87 saved.

Three Halloween cake mixes @ $.63. Regular price - $1.25. Saved $.62 each = $1.86 saved.

Three Halloween canned frosting to match the cake mixes @ $.75 each. Regular price - $1.50. Saved $.75 each = $2.25 saved.

The cake mixes and frosting may have said Halloween on them, but they just had fall colored sprinkles so it works for Thanksgiving or any fall dessert.

One bag of jumbo pumpkin shaped/colored marshmallows @ $1.50. Regular price - $2.98. Saved $1.48.

Since they were plain pumpkins and not Jack'o'lanterns, they worked for Thanksgiving as well (though they didn't last that long).

Four cans of International Coffee - Orange Cappuccino have been discontinued (again, and one of my favorite) were on a clearance cart. I was wishing there were more than just the four so I took all that was there. Price - $2.25 each. Regular price - $3.28. Saved $1.03 per can = $4.12 saved.

Two large bags of PayDay candy bar minis @ $2.34. Regular price - $4.68. Saved $2.34 each = $4.68 saved. (one bag didn't last long enough to get in the picture!)

That is a savings of $33.46. And my pantry was overstuffed once more. Not bad for one shopping trip and no coupons used.

Newest project

This WAS my newest project. As you see by the date on the picture, it was taken over a month ago. I had added a few pictures to drafts at that time, with the intention of getting back here to write about them, but obviously life intervened big time.

This project is now finished and in the hands of the person that ordered it. The picture was taken after I had started on the second skein of a total of 10. The color is different than what shows up in the picture. It is really more purple and called Purple Haze - Lion Brands Homespun yarn. To me the colors look very much like red grapes. This is a very easy pattern, just all single crochet, so it works up rather quickly.

Since this was finished I started another afghan just like it but a different color for my 8 year old granddaughter. She saw this one and said she wanted one too. She had also said the same thing over a year ago when I gave one to her older sister for her high school graduation. I told her then that she had to wait until she graduated from high school. Since she is now only in 3rd grade, and I just turned 70, I realized I may not be around when she graduates! So I decided this could be her Christmas present. I never know what to get those kids so usually end up giving my daughter money to buy something for them in my name, or give them the cash so they can buy what they want.

That afghan is also now finished and ready to be wrapped. I have also been slowly working on the counted cross stitch project. I have all the regular stitches done, the metallic gold stitches and the outlining done. All that is left is attaching all the beads, and there are a lot of them. First, the fabric must be ironed and spray starched since it cannot be ironed once the beads are on it. I have never worked with the beads before so it could get interesting, to say the least. I did watch a couple of videos on youtube to see how it is done, and found two different ways of doing it. The pattern does not give instructions, just the color of the beads and where they are to go. I did use an orange colored pencil to mark each one on the graph so that it is easier to find. I have gone over the pattern at least three times and each time I find several that I missed the times before.  I will go over it one more time, and wonder how many more I find.

Very soon I need to decide on another afghan pattern and get the yarn so I can start on the afghan that will be donated to the church auction which is the first Wednesday in February. Time is going very fast! But first. . . Christmas letter to write and cards ready for mailing.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Awesome Birthday!

Aren't these pretty flowers?
They are a birthday surprise from my youngest daughter and her family. They look pretty and different from each angle as you will see throughout this post.
The day started quite early with the first surprise. I was up at 5:00 am for our weekly Bible study which starts at 5:45. The gals were a few minutes late, which happens once in awhile, but usually are on time. They come in, say good morning, and "Happy Birthday", then tell me we aren't having Bible study today. Instead, "We are taking you out for breakfast, get your shoes on." (I am always running around without shoes. At least I had my socks on.)

Since there is no place in town that is open for breakfast at that hour, we drove to the next town 10 miles away and went to a really nice coffee shop. They had 3 kinds of muffins in the case and just put freshly made, huge and still warm, cappuccino scones in as well. Plus they serve one kind of breakfast sandwich either on English muffin or bagel. We decided to get one scone, one apple streusel muffin and one cranberry/pecan muffin and share some of each, and we each ordered the breakfast sandwich. Everything was so delicious. The sandwich was a round egg exactly the size of the English muffin, but not scrambled, a sausage patty, white cheese - maybe Swiss? - and some kind of dressing with bits of red in it that made it very interesting. Whatever it was it was very good. We just had a great time talking. Then they gave me a gift and when I opened the box there was a $25 Amazon gift card! These gals are just the best, and keep in mind that one is just a few years older than my oldest daughter, and the other is younger than my youngest daughter. They are so special! They are both public school teachers so they had to go to school and we made it back in time, in spite of the dense fog we had that morning (Friday).

Once I got home, I unpacked the birthday present I bought for myself - a new, small freezer. It was delivered late in the day on Thursday, and they didn't take it out of the box for me. I guess they are just a delivery service for Sears, plus they still had 4 deliveries to make that night so were in a hurry. It turned to be a simple thing to unpack it which made me very happy. I have not plugged it in yet as I need to get it leveled first and I need to find the level! I am almost certain it is in the garage, so that is where I am going as soon as I finish this. The freezer fits very nicely in the area I cleared out for it. And the shelf unit I had there fits nicely in the laundry closet now that the treadmill is sold and no longer standing in front of it. The money I got from selling treadmill, the money from selling the dehumidifier last spring, and money I received already for making the afghan I am currently working on, I have the freezer paid for plus a little toward the shipping charges. I guess I could add the $25 from the gift card, too.

Then the flowers were delivered shortly after 10:30, and at 11 other friends picked me up and we went to that same town and had lunch at a good Mexican restaurant. More fun and more food! I couldn't eat it all so brought enough home for another meal, probably lunch today. They gave me three $10 gas cards for a local station!
 From there we stopped at Walmart and I found some Sterlite baskets that fit in the freezer - with handles. They stack, two on two. So I can put meat in one, veggies in another, fruit in one, etc. That way I don't have to fall into the freezer to get what is on the bottom since it is a chest freezer. It isn't really that deep so I don't think it would be a problem anyway, but the baskets will keep things sorted for me, and I can see when I get low on something. This freezer is only 7.2 cu ft so it is not very big but should be plenty of room for me.
I had the rest of the afternoon and evening to relax, work on cross stitching and the afghan, play on the computer a bit, get the mail, etc. A long time friend later called for my birthday and we had a good chat for about an hour and had a few good laughs too, so that was another day brightener. My daughter had also called in the morning to see if the flowers she sent were nice. I think so, don't you?
My other daughter had called on Wednesday evening to wish me an early happy birthday, but I have yet to hear from my son. He usually calls on Sundays so I expect that call tomorrow.
All in all, it was a lovely birthday. It took me 70 years to get to this point.
I have some other things to write about and have loaded the pictures, but haven't been able to get them written this week since it was so busy and wore me out. Maybe I can to them later today or tomorrow. . . or not, but they will get done.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My View This Morning

Yes, winter is here! Thankfully, it isn't here to stay this time.
See the large snowflakes in front of the garage openings? This was taken 1/2 hour later than that first picture. Strong north winds, but just now the wind stopped a couple of seconds and it was like the flakes didn't know where they were supposed to go. They were floundering around. . . until the wind started up again.
Aren't we sometimes like that? We go wherever the wind blows us, without any plans or self direction. And when that wind stops, we have no idea what to do next, which direction we need to go, or even where we are headed.
Even though I hate the idea that winter is here, even briefly, I am mesmerized by the large flakes as they come down. Everything, even though not pretty as a whole, has its own beauty, if we only look for it. (one beauty of this snow. . it doesn't need to be scooped!)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Frugal Day

Yesterday was an interesting and frugal day. I did have to spend some money but still ended up quite frugal.

I had an appointment in Sioux City to get my annual mammogram done. That is a 60 mile trip one way. At the same time I go there I take all the caps I knitted all year to the Goodwill office for their Christmas shoe party. I showed pictures of those previously on this blog. I always ask if they have any free yarn that I can have.  This is what I was given --

I brought home a lot of future work! They usually give me all new yarn but they must be out. This looks to be someones leftovers that were probably donated at a store that they saved for ladies like me. There are some new skeins in at least one of the bags too. I don't mind that it isn't new since I depend on the people who clean out their stash and bring it to me. But first. . . I need to finish my counted cross stitch projects.

So free yarn . . . . very frugal!

After my mammogram, I headed for the area where Michael's Craft Store is. By this time it was close to 2 pm and I had only had a bowl of cereal at 8 am, missing lunch. I wasn't sure where I wanted to eat, just knew I didn't want fast food since that is what I get at home quite often. First saw Red Robin. My son had taken me to eat at one in Virginia a few years ago. I knew they have some fabulous burgers, but that didn't sound good. Then I saw Olive Garden and I usually like to eat there, but that didn't sound good either. A little further down was a Golden Corral. That was it! I was too late for the early bird special price, but do qualify for senior citizen price which was $6.99. Now, I have spent that much at McDonald's and got much less, more greasy, food. I had a variety of foods I really enjoy, but only a small portion - a spoon full of this, and a spoonful of that. And of course, I HAD to have bread pudding for dessert, but a small dish with much less than I normally take. And I was still quite stuffed when I left. I knew when I went in that by eating after 2 pm, I would not need supper either. And I sure didn't. I found everything I took very tasty as well, from orange chicken, bourbon chicken, fried rice, meat loaf, seafood salad, and more. This may not have been quite as frugal as McD dollar menu, but a very frugal price for the meal I got.

Then to Michael's. Naturally I left the coupons I printed the night before at home on the kitchen table. I even had my keys laying on top of them and still forgot to pick them up. I doubt I would have used them anyway since my body did not want to walk around the store looking at things. I usually will lean on a shopping cart while walking a store, but they have very small, low carts so that does not work well. Of course, the DMC, which is what I really needed, was in the far back corner, so I still had to walk a long way. I did get what I needed and only spent a total of $1.98.

Frugal . . . . walking out of a store and only spending less than $2. A rarity for me.

I also needed gas. I was going to fill up at home first since I had just slightly more than 1/4 of a tank of gas. But I had received my new Walmart credit card and there was a slip of paper saying Walmart gas purchased with WM card received 15 cents off per gallon. I thought the LeMars WM had gas pumps so waited until I got there, which is 30 miles away. No gas pumps. I did notice that gas had gone down to $3.49 at home. It was $3.32 in LeMars, then next small town the price was $3.22! I kept going. Hit the edge of Sioux City and it was $3.18!! That is 31 cents cheaper than at home. I knew where there was one WM on the north side so filled up there, with my 15 cent discount - so only paid $3.03 a gallon!

Frugal . . . . saving 46 cents a gallon of gas. Filled up with 18.6 gallons for a total savings of $8.38. I hear on the news that gas will continue to go down during the next couple of months.

I was really tired when I got home. I left home shortly after 11 am and didn't get home until close to 4 pm. I am still tired today, but the damp, dark day doesn't help any either.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

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Today is a dark and dreary day here. It is very windy and RAINING! We need the rain so badly so best not complain about the dark and dreary. But winds gusting to 55 mph today is something I can complain about. We had winds gusting to 40 mph yesterday, and sustained winds around 20 mph. It wears one out if you have be outside.
This has been a busy week, but yesterday was the best. My daughter from Madison was here all day. We had a great visit, had the buffet lunch at the local Pizza Ranch which is a wonderful pizza and broasted chicken buffet. We ate enough that we did not need supper.
My daughter did come prepared to work and told me to make a list of things I needed help with. But the only thing I asked was if she would shampoo the carpet in at least one room. She had given me her old carpet steam cleaner but did not have the instruction book, and I had not taken time to look it up online yet. So she did the living room, even moving the very heavy hide-a-bed sofa. We did not move the heavy furniture along the walls but the sofa sits crossways in the middle of the room. There is also an area rug in there that is mostly off white and with a dark grey cat, it was looking pretty sad. Not anymore! Once that room was done she said, "Where next?" So she kept going and did the kitchen, bathroom and the small exposed area of carpet in the bedroom. Then started on the back entry/laundry room but the machine wasn't working quite right by then so it was time to stop. I will attemp to do that room myself next week now that I have seen the machine in operation. It did a great job of cleaning and did not get the carpets overly wet like the commercial machines I had used in the past.
The kitchen carpet was the dirtiest. No kidding. Not a surprise. I hate kitchen carpeting since I am not the neatest cook no matter how careful I try to be. I don't throw salt over my shoulder like Rachel Rae does, but things still get spilled. I wish I had some extra money to have vinyl flooring installed since I know the landlord won't pay for it. Would also remove the carpet in the bathroom. Who puts wall to wall carpet in a bathroom? (not the first house that had it but I changed the other one too.) Toilets have a way of overflowing now and then, and it usually isn't clean water that spills over. I think you know what I mean. It would be so much easier for me to be able to run a swiffer type floor duster over those floors every day than to drag the heavy vacuum out, especially with a cat that sheds all the time.
I am so very happy that the  carpets are clean again after over 6 years of living here. I am not even sure the carpets had been cleaned by the owners before I moved in. I know there were lots of large stains in the living room carpet which I covered up with the area rug. Now I need to get busy and do some other fall cleaning but that will all have to wait until next week because today I must prepare to teach the Bible study lesson for my early morning class tomorrow. Then tomorrow Bible study is at 5:45 AM, and I will be too tired to even think the rest of the day, so very little cleaning will get done.
And now I must get started with the rest of my day. Will talk to you again soon, I hope.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Home For Now

Remember this colander I got at a rummage sale?
This is the home I have given it for now. It hangs among the other old kitchen utensils that my husband had in his basement.
I am not sure it will stay there forever but it is 'good enough' for now.

Stitching for warmth

Caps, caps, and more caps. Or maybe you call them hats. Either way these will all keep some kids a bit warmer this winter. I make these all year long from yarn that is donated to me, or what I can find on clearance for the cheapest price. Then in the fall I take them to the Goodwill Industries office in Sioux City where they will be handed out to the kids along with new shoes, socks, mittens and scarves at their annual Christmas Shoe Party.
This is what I did this year, from last October until early summer. Usually I work on them continually, but I ran out of yarn for awhile, then got started on other projects that needed to be done. The table top is covered with stacks of 5 caps each. There is a total of 124. 75 are striped, 40 are solid colors, and there are 9 that really don't fit either of those categories very well.

This picture looking down on them shows the various stripes and colors, at least of the caps on the top of the stacks. I use every scrap I can, even ones that don't quite finish a row.

This is one that does not fit the regular categories. It is made with black as the base, using all black for the ribbing band at the bottom. The bright pink is that fun fur yarn added to the black, so that I am knitting with both strands at the same time. Cute?
Don't you love my 'model'? I used to have a styrofoam head used for wigs but that was discarded several years ago. So the best thing I could think of is a round metal mixing bowl sitting on top of the overturned Rubbermaid container. :o)

As I said before, I use ever scrap. This is made using two strands of different colored sport or baby yarn to get the tweedy effect. That gives the cap more weight and warmth than a single strand of the lighter weight yarns. And, the fringe is leftover fun fur yarn.

And here is the very tail end of that fun fur. The cap is made from a specialty yarn as well. It sort of looks like chenille when it is made up. It was some that was given to me and I have tried to find some more like that but wonder if it has been discontinued some time ago. I don't recall the name of it, but it wasn't called chenille.

This is how some of the variegated yarns can turn out when mixed with coordinating solids. The dark is actually a real dark grey but it looks more blue in the picture. The cap below is also the same variegated but with the light grey. I love working with the variegated yarns to see what kinds of patterns it can turn into.

I will be dropping these off on October 23 when I go to Sioux City for my annual mammogram. And if they still have some free yarn left, I will get a bag full to start for next year. Their auxiliary buys large lots of yarn for such distributing, and it sure helps me out.

More Stitching

These are the two cross stitch kits I bought at Walmart yesterday. The top one will be a wedding gift for a niece's son and soon to be wife on their wedding day, May 4, 2013. I think I have enough time to get it finished.

Isn't this just the cutest kitten? When I saw this picture I fell in love immediately, and there was no way I was not buying this!

A Stitch in Time . . . .

I knew I had not posted for awhile but was shocked when I saw August 24 as the date of the last entry! So I will update you on some of the things that have kept me busy for the last month.
I am currently working on a big counted cross-stitch picture that I would like to be a family heirloom. This will make the third one, one for each of my kids. This picture is called Angel of Summer.
This is how much is almost done, the bottom half. 

Here is the chart I am using, which is black and white. I use a metal board under it, and a magnetic magnifier on top to keep track of the row I am working on. Plus I have a magnifier that hangs from my neck so I can find the right holes to put the needle in as I am working on 32-count linen. Without those aids, I would really have a hard time!

This gives you a better idea how large the chart is.
So this project has taken most of my time. I can't put it done for long as I am addicted.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Here I am!


My Rummage Sale Find


I know, I have been MIA from this blog for quite awhile First I was 'busy' watching the Olympics. But they have been over for awhile. Then I had a lot of catching up to do around the house, and everything else. I have thought about this blog but had not come up with any ideas, so I have been silent.
Today I had to run to the next town for an eye doctor appointment. On the way in I saw a rummage sale sign so thought I would check it out after my appointment, which I did. I have not been to a rummage sale for several years, mostly because I haven't had the energy to traipse around the area and get in and out of the car several times. This was the only sale so made a point to stop.
This is her second day for the sale so there wasn't much left. She did have the enamel strainer that is pictured - asking $1.50 for it. I asked if she would take $1 and she agreed. I told her I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it yet, and she suggested hanging on the wall and putting a bird nest inside toward the bottom. Good idea! I was thinking along the line of hanging on the wall or using it for part of a centerpiece. So I have added one more project to my long list.
She also had two old oak tables and one had a set of four chairs and the round table had two chairs. I don't need another table but do need some different chairs as mine are falling apart even though they have been reglued many times. She wants $75 for the square table with one leaf and 4 chairs. I asked if she would sell the chairs separately but she doesn't want to break up the set. Maybe I should have left my phone number in case she doesn't sell them and would later be willing to sell the chairs. They aren't as 'pretty' as the chairs I have but seem to be much sturdier, which is what I need.
Now I am in the mood to go rummaging. My town is having city wide sales next week, so if the weather cooperates, I may be making the rounds.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More UFOs Sighted

It has been awhile hasn't it. Life has been quite boring here so have had nothing to say. It is just hot, hot, hot and that slows me down in every way. I am very thankful for air conditioning this summer, and just pray that it keeps working!

I am also a huge Olympics fan so you will catch me in front of the TV all the time for the next two weeks. Sometimes I feel embarrassed and a bit guilty because I have so much I should be doing instead. But I so enjoy them and have ever since they were first televised decades ago. I admire the athletes and the dedication they have to improving their sport. And I root for the USA!

Some time ago I found the needlework kit for the seashell picture done in candlewicking. I finished the needlework and then got sidetracked and busy with other things. Now the question is. . . . how do I finish it? Do I make a pillow? Frame it to hang on the wall? Any suggestions? It's not only candlewicking, but also quilting as there is backing fabric with batting in between.

Today I was doing something near the bookcase in the back entry and discovered the UFO below.

This is a CCS picture of a famous Charles Wysocki painting that I love, called 'Frederick the Literate'. I started this many years ago, probably close to 10 years, give or take a couple. It is almost finished. The reason I put it away was because of frustration. You may notice some gold thread at the bottom right of the fabric. That is a metallic thread. If any of you have worked with that you know what a pain it is to work with! It coils, it knots, and just does not behave well. Plus this calls for 3 strands at the same time! Impossible! Since I don't work well when frustrated, it was time to put it away. And frankly, I had long forgotten about it until I found it today.

This is a close-up of the area where the metallic gold is to be used. It outlines the gold bars at the top and bottom of the "VOL I", etc. across the encyclopedia volumes, and on top/bottom of the titles at the top. Simply an outline stitch, so it should be easy and quick. Right! I actually have the bottom row done but it does not show well in the picture.

I started working on it while watching the men's volleyball game (Olympics) and was reminded how frustrating it is to work with that thread. I think I have found something that helps a little. I twist the tail ends around the main strands before I start. Then they stay together better and don't get all tangled and knotted while working with them. They do eventually come apart and it has to be done again, but I am making headway a little faster.

I noticed I still have to sew on the cat's whiskers, and then check to see if I forgot anything else. I am not real happy the way some of the book titles don't show up very well, not like in the picture on the kit cover. Those titles all have something to do with cats. So I may see if I can get them highlighted a little more. And then it will be ready to frame. Then comes the next problem. Where am I going to hang it? I am running out of wall space for pictures. I don't want to give it away or donate to the church auction since it is one of my favorite pictures. From one dilemma to another!

Friday, July 20, 2012

We are being invaded!

Invasion! A huge army is marching across the desert. Wave after wave on several paths among the sand dunes they come. See the columns? The first picture is a little blurry as it made me so nervous to see so many.

They seem to be forming battle lines in a couple of areas, while more are marching in.

Many are headed toward an oasis in that desert. I hope it isn't just a mirage.

Here is a close-up of the oasis. There does seem to be water there and they are circled around it to get their drink of that lovely sweet water. Oh, but it could be tainted water! It could be poisonous and all that drink of it will die! But they are oblivious to that and continue to drink, like cattle around the water tank.

I put a teaspoon in the picture to give you an idea just how tiny these invaders are! If they didn't move, you wouldn't even know what they are. They would just look like fine bread crumbs. But yes, they are ANTS. I had never seen such teensy ones until I moved to this area. I am used to the larger brown ants that are probably 3 times larger. Those are still smaller than the black ants outside which I have very rarely had come in the house.

Here is my ammo arsenal. I find that this pair does quite well. The Clorox Clean-up sprayed on all that can be seen kills them instantly. I then wipe them up and wash the area well. Then I take little pieces of thin cardboard and put a few drops of the Ant Terro on each one, place them in the areas where they tend to travel. That catches those that come later - the scouts and the reserves. It may take a couple of days to get rid of them completely but it works. It is important to remove any other food, crumbs, etc that they are searching for so that the only 'food' they can find is the poison.

Monday, July 16, 2012

A UFO has been sighted!

Some of you may know that a UFO to crafty people means an unfinished project that may have been shoved into a dark corner for too long. I am not even sure how long ago I had decided to make some covers for my sofa pillows to help coordinate my sofa with the rest of the room.

I used to have a mauve recliner that went with this blue sofa, which is a hide-a-bed, and the only extra sleeping space I have in this small house. (Yes, I know that color scheme went out a long time ago. LOL)  When I had my hip replacement surgery a few years ago my son decided I needed a better chair to sit in while I recovered, so he bought me a big leather chair with ottoman to match, which added dark brown to my color 'scheme'. And later I gave away the mauve recliner to some friends. Can you find the sofa pillows in this picture? I am not talking about the green print/gold petaled one on the left. That is one my daughter had bought at either a thrift store or rummage sale and decided she didn't have room for it in her new apartment, so asked if I wanted it. It doesn't fit in the color scheme either, but the print has all kinds of cats on it, and the pillow itself is quite unique. It is handmade.

The other pillows are side by side on the right side of the sofa. That big brown thing in front is the ottoman, showing the color of that and the chair. One day I had the 'brilliant' idea to find some fabric that resembled leather in the same color brown and cover those pillows. And I did find some at Walmart. I don't remember the price anymore since that was over a year ago. I bought a 1/2 yard since my pillows are 16" square. After I got home I realized that was enough for 2 16" squares, but that is a front and back for only one pillow and I have two! Back to the store I go and the bolt of that fabric is gone! Now what? I went to the remnant bin and there is a remnant! It is less than 16" wide but there was enough there to make the split backs for covers. Later I was in the store again and there was a new bolt of the same fabric so I would have been okay, but you don't know that will be the case. So a part of being frugal here is that the remnant was a discounted price, saving me a little bit, plus making the covers is much cheaper than buying new pillows.

The following pictures show the steps of making the covers in case you are new to sewing. They are simple to make. If you don't want to make the covers removable they are even simpler - just cut two pieces to fit the pillow, sew around three sides, turn, put pillow in, and stitch the end closed, either by hand or machine.

The first step is to measure the pillow and add at least 1/4" extra for the seam allowance on all sides. Since my pillows are 16" square, I made the squares 16 1/2". That is the front of the pillow. I want the back in two pieces so there is a way to get the pillow in and out. That measuring is a little more tricky. I wanted the slit to be more toward one end as I think it is easier to work the pillow in and out. Most are done like pillow shams and have that slit right in the middle. And I have struggled too many times trying to get a long pillow in those things. You want to cut the pieces so that they will overlap each other by at least 1" to 1 1/2" or more, but not too much. And then you have to add 1 -1 1/2" to each piece for hemming. In my case I didn't need to hem the one that will be on the bottom as the leather-like fabric does not ravel. Below are the 3 pieces I cut for one pillow.

The next picture shows the three pieces laying on top of each other, with the larger back piece showing the back of the fabric to show it better.


The next step is to put a hem on the narrow back piece as it will lay on top of the other back piece once it is turned right side out. Since this does not ravel I only turned it under 1/2" and stitched it down. For other fabrics you would then turn it up about an inch or more and stitch again. When I was going to fill the sewing machine bobbin with the matching brown thread, I realized I had bought the extra heavy button thread! Oops. Maybe that was the only small spool I could find with the right color. Don't remember anymore. But I don't think I realized that it was button thread. So I had to adjust the upper tension to get the stitches to look right. My suggestion is to always test the stitching on a scrap of the same fabric before sewing the actual piece.

Then pin the narrower back piece to the front.

 Then pin the other back piece in place. Mine does not have a hem as I didn't need it, and I didn't want the extra bulk since this fabric is rather heavy.

Now we are ready to sew it all together with a 1/4" seam allowance. It is good to do some reinforcing stitches where the two back pieces overlap as there will be some tugging there each time the pillow is removed and put back. Once the stitching is done, clip a diagonal piece off of each corner so that the corner will turn better.

Turn the deeper half of the pillow, push out the corners, and insert pillow as seen below.

Now you can turn the top part, push out the corners, and you are done!

And the pillows are back on the sofa. Can you see them now?

As I was working on them I realized that by turning the back side to the front, the split and the top stitching gives it another, more rustic or Western look. It also resembles the seams in the real leather of the chair. If I do that, I think I need to put a circle of dark Velcro in the center of the split as it tends to gap just a bit. I am also thinking a Western style metal button in the center of the slit will dress it up a bit and give it a little 'bling'.

Nate Burkus showed some embellishments he made to some plain pillows on one of his shows, so I am thinking belt? wrap a fringed burlap strip in the middle or some wider grosgrain ribbon in a sage green since I have green as an accent color in the whole house? Or the green grosgrain ribbon in the center of the burlap strip? So maybe my UFO isn't quite finished yet!

After I finished that I decided to look in the drawer that hold my small stash of fabric and found another project I never got around to making, plus 3 small pieces of fabric that I don't think I really had an idea what I would use it for, but I liked them at the time. And I still do. So I will have to find some kind of project where I can use them. But I think the next project will be the bag full of pieces for a tote bag. There are two sunflower panel squares and matching sunflower print that I bought to machine quilt around the sunflower panels, and use the matching print for the sides and lining. I had even bought black webbing for the handles. Maybe 25 years ago, when I was working in the craft and fabric department of a Ben Franklin store, I had made a bag like that with a duck panel as I was into collecting ducks at that time. The bag was on display in the store for a time to help sell the fabric. I had made the handles with the matching print fabric and they have worn thin and the filling is showing. Time to retire that one. I am ready for something new and bright - like sunflowers!