Sewing – Designing A Project!

There’s a project I’ve been mulling over for a while. There’s a serious gap in my wardrobe: I need a comfortable, versatile skirt. Doesn’t everyone? Well, everyone who likes wearing skirts.

As soon as I make my son new curtains and take down his old ones, I will have a large amount of a lovely grey flannel, not too heavy. Perfect for a skirt for half the year here.

I had a pretty clear vision about this skirt. I was going to make a tiered patchwork skirt, a DIY version of something like this from a UK site. Found it on Google Images when I was looking for inspiration – mine would be a little darker and not have a drawstring, but same basic idea.

You know, though? I might be changing my mind.  The flannel is just heavy enough that I think it would give the look of a simple wool skirt, without the itchiness. I could sew up something and flared, in a style I could dress up for nicer occasions, without being fussy or sacrificing comfort…

Garment design isn’t exactly my forte, though! Let me know what you think!

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Frugal Splurging – Pastries!

Being frugal is important to me. It’s not as important, though, as family.

My parents invited us to go out and spend the morning at a local lake with them at their campsite, enjoying one of the last warm weeks. We took our son, and he had a wonderful time splashing in the lake and stealing our bacon and eggs from us.

We also took pastries, an indulgent array of them for only five people.

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If we’d stopped by a large grocery store chain for these, they would have cardboard-y and oversweet. Hell with that. The local bakeries, though, are way outside our budget.

So, on our way out to the lake, we stopped by a hispanic bakery. This ridiculous bounty was six dollars and fifty cents, all told. $6.50. Can you believe that?

Madness.

Delicious, delicious madness.

Being frugal isn’t about denying yourself luxuries, or not bringing your fair share to a brunch… it’s about stretching the money you spend, spending it wisely.

We had a blast, and James spent time with his grandparents, exploring the world and the dirt – covered in pastry crumbs.

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Five Best Frugal Sewing Tools

At $5 or less, these sewing tools pack a big punch. I don’t want to throw my money around, but I want to use it wisely, spending small amounts here and there in ways that I think can lead to greater efficiency or less frustration. Sewing can easily be a really expensive hobby, where you pick up $50/yard wools and $100 pairs of sewing scissors… but it doesn’t have to be.

5 Pieces/lot New Clippers Sewing Trimming Scissors Nipper Embroidery Thrum Yarn Fishing Thread Beading Cutter

Thread clippers. $2.08 for five – including shipping – at the time of writing is basically impossible to beat. I might have to order another pack, because I love having them stashed everywhere. There’s even a set that is dedicated to my purse! I use them for trimming threads at the end of a project, slip them into my embroidery kit, and keep a set by my machine to trim anything that feels awkward with my good scissors.

Bulk seam rippers! $2.13 for six right now. Like the thread clippers, I really don’t know anyone who sews who can’t use these. I don’t care if you quilt, make stuffed animals, or are an expert dressmaker… everyone needs to rip a seam sometimes.

Okay, yes, this loop turner is a one-trick pony. If you don’t sew things that require turning long tubes, I don’t think you’d ever want or need one of these, even if it’s only $4.49. When I’m sewing up bag straps or anything else long and narrow, though, this turns a forty-minute exercise in hair-pulling frustration into a ten-minute exercise in hair-pulling frustration. It has earned a spot on this list ten times over for me.

No, I’m not sponsored by Dritz. I’m just a sucker, apparently, for their thoughtful and affordable products. If anyone from Dritz reads this, please contact me, as I would happily mention you on this blog every week in exchange for various sewing doo-dads. This double-sided pen is of course amazing for embroidery, but I also use it on a near-daily basis when sewing, to help me match seams and so on. Confession: It’s currently $5.27… can we call it close enough?

You’re killing me here, Amazon. When I started this list, this pincushion was under $5, but it just jumped in price fifty cents. Can we pretend it didn’t? Please? You can definitely buy one in person for under $5, so I’m counting it.

When I first started sewing, I didn’t have one of these. Meh, I thought. No big deal. No one actually needs one, a good, old-fashioned pincushion is good enough for me.

I was so wrong. Having a magnetic pincushion is so much easier to work with. I store my pins on one side and my needles on the other, so they don’t get all mixed together. Definitely one of the best tools you can buy.

Hop to the comments – what are your favorite frugal sewing tools?

Saturday Book Review – Anne Of Green Gables

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If I had to choose one favorite author of all time, it really, really might be L. M. Montgomery. I have great heaping piles of her books, gathered from thrift stores and yard sales. I’m re-reading Anne of Green Gables for the thousandth time.

When I was younger, I most identified with Marilla – yes, really – but now I think I’m shaping into more of a Mrs. Rachel Lynde. Embroidering while dictating novels is the new knitting cotton-warp quilts and keeping an eye on the neighbors, right? Passing cheerful judgement over everyone, ruling my household with an iron will and a can of preserves. I like it.

Okay, okay, that’s a little silly, but my problem here is that I have no actual idea how to review this book. This isn’t just a novel, it’s an institution. If you haven’t read it, I’m totally baffled as to why, and I don’t know how to convince you. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, it’s sweet but Marilla’s sarcasm saves it from being entirely saccharine, and it has a lot of little domestic details that you can really delight over.

If you have never read Anne of Green Gables, give it a try, and if you have, do yourself a favor. Pour a cup of tea or cocoa and curl up under a quilt with it. Read your favorite scene or three. Maybe, unlike me, you’ll be able to stop there…

Frugal Outings: Otter Point Estuary Center

In the search for affordable, fun, and educational things to do, we ran up to the Harford County Estuary Center: Anita C. Leigh Estuary Center up at Otter Point Creek

Otter Point Creek

It’s a beautiful place, with several educational displays, a beautiful veranda from which to relax and write or have a picnic. It even has a series of trails that go down around the Chesapeake Bay’s estuary. It’s gorgeous.

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I made friends with this little turtle. I also had the chance to look at the many different aspects of estuary life and the Chesapeake Watershed.

Turtle Estuary Fake

Estuary centers are the perfect place to bring children and engage in scavenger hunts, learn about nature, and view it first hand (please, though, leave all wildlife and fauna where it was found). There are also different programs at many centers, like Otter Point’s Center, throughout the year for different age groups.

Estuary Rep Room

This estuary center is not the only center in the area. They are a network across the country. You can find out more by going online and seeing if there is an estuary center near you!

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Recipe Of The Day: Throw-Together Pie

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I’m not going to lie to you all. The main ingredient in this pie was hope. Hope that it would come together into some sort of edible form.

Everything went wrong with this.

I got all the fruit from the discount bin at a local grocery store for $2, but when that store discounts produce, it’s for a good reason. You’ve gotta use it that day, or you’re sunk.

Here’s the problem, though – I got home, got busy, and ran out of time to bake pie. Oh no. I peeled the fruit, diced it quickly, and tossed it into the fridge with a bit of vanilla and sugar.

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Then, the next day… I didn’t have time! Again! Eek. I need a better plan when I buy stone fruit.

After an urgent care visit, I didn’t have the energy to face baking a pie, but the fruit was already cut. I was at the point of pie crisis. It wasn’t going to be patient another night.

So, I caved.

I stopped at a grocery store and bought a pre-made pie crust for $2. I made two half-pies in an old sheet pan. Pie-halfs. Pie calzones? I don’t know, work with me here. Sprinkled some sugar on the top, and I was off to the races.

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It came out of the oven looking, if I do say so myself, gorgeous and tempting. I wanted to cut into it right away, but I was good. I walked away. Even a cheater pie deserves a moment to rest.

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Is it as good as the pie crust I make myself? Nope. This one has a bit of a bizarre aftertaste that I blame on the preservatives.

Is the pie still pretty good? You bet your britches. The fruit is amazing, fresh and sweet and just a little tart. A real earthy flavor. The peaches and plums compliment each other beautifully. Perfect for a late-summer afternoon.

Why didn’t I just make a cobbler with the fruit, instead of buying a pie crust? Cobblers are cheaper and better than bought crust.

I have a great answer for that – because it didn’t occur to me until I sat down to write this post. Oof. Pie I had determined the fruit was going to be, and pie it was.