Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How to be a thirfty war wife

Well we are at war, but fortunately I don't anyone personally who is fighting overseas. I still do have to be thrifty though, and apparently my grandmother along with millions of other American wives did too back in the BIG ONE (WWII). My lucky grandfather was a navy officer stationed over in Ireland (where is he is from. He is also an Irish lit. scholar, so I think he must have pulled some strings considering not much fighting went on there as far as I know. I think he says he played a lot of cards). But, Grandma was back home on the coast of Massachsuets in the house her father built, struggling to keep up with a slew of kids. I think actually only my mother and one aunt were there during the war. OK, I'm getting off track. A few years back my grandmother gave me an awesome gift- a book called the Complete Book of Sewing copyright 1943. This is the book that helped her keep house during the war and for the years to come.
It tells you everything you need to know from darning a hole in an underarm to cutting a pattern to making slipcovers, quilting, appliques, etc. The section I read recently that I am getting a lot of out of is on thriftiness and basically recycling worn adult clothes into clothes for your children. I also enjoyed the chart about how to change your wardrobe as the seasons change by just adding a few embellisments to same outfits.
Here is that one first:

If you are wondering how to prepare for March, just check below:

Now, if you are interested in refashioning some of your old clothes into garments for your kids, search no more:

Monday, February 19, 2007


I am entering this owl in the softies contest over on Flickr. There are so many amazing creations over there that I know I am not a contender, but it's always fun to join things (I think so anyway) even if only to be a part of a community. I am also going to submit the catdog that Joe made when Harlan was born, and the sleepy bunny; my first attempt at making a softie without a pattern.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Warning, contains profanity!

Isn't this a nice shot? I made a pile of stuff to sell on ebay one morning and decided to shoot these vintage glass findings inside this teacup before photographing them separately to sell. The past couple of weeks I have been focusing on business- new felt applique designs, selling more ebay stuff and keeping up with the hand embroideries even though I am trying to phase them out. I dropped a bunch off over at Artez'n and did a custom order today. It's a juggling act, that's for sure.

This is a sticky toffee pudding that came all the way from jolly old England! I saw the wonderful recipes in this month's Marta Stewart Living, and really wanted to try and make one for Valentine's day. The sticky toffee pudding sounded like the best and easiest to make. One day last week I was at Key Food and passed the shelf over by the deli that houses the English goodies. I always have to check it out to pick up some nice cookies or a can of Devon Cream to pour over my cereal in the morning (kidding, but not really). Imagine my surprise when I saw a collection of canned puddings! I had to have one. I didn't make it on V-day, but we enjoyed it a couple of nights earlier instead. I have to admit that the frosting was a let down. Not only was it rather gelatinous despite having been boiled inside the can for forty minutes, but it tasted quite tinny. The cake itself was moist and brown sugary and quite figgy. I can only give it one thumb up. You'd think I would know better considering it came in a can, but if there's one thing I've always coveted it's English desserts. When I was last in London I filled a small suitcase with packaged goodies from Mark's & Spencer. I had all kinds of little fondant covered cakes and marzipan filled cookies. They were all mind-blowing and like nothing I have found stateside unfortunately. For V-day we laid low since we agree that it's pretty much a Hallmark holiday. We also laid low because I fucked up and thought V-day was the previous day during which I procured and cooked a marinated flank steak, potatoes, and haricot verts with shallots and pepper. I also made my favorite chocolate cinnamon buttermilk cake. Even my little valentine got to eat a piece after his dinner. He pretty much gobbed down the frosting immediately and then threw the cake on the floor and screamed and held out his hand to indicate "MORE FROSTING RIGHT NOW PLEASE". Here is he enjoying his fudgey valentine goodness:

I did make Joe an awesome gift which I will photograph and post when it's finished. Yes, it was not completed on time, because I have yet to figure out how to manage my time. I embroidered a drawing that Joe made for me a few years ago, and I am going to sew the edges and back it with some patterned fabric inside a frame when the embroidery is done.
We've also had a rough ride recently with the landlord. I may have mentioned that I had to pay his Con Ed (electric) bill in January to prevent the lights in the hallway and the heat in the building from being shut off due to his negligence. I received a letter from Con Ed saying that by law I could pay the bill and deduct it from the rent. I left Landlord a message saying I would pay the bill unless he called me back and he never did (surprise surprise). When I paid the February rent I deducted it (almost $1,000) and included the bill. Well, he didn't take too kindly to my generosity. I got home from my friend's house last Friday and picked up the phone to hear Landlord muttering something vaguely obscene sounding. I honestly couldn't hear him at first. He's a chronic monotone mumbler, almost like a cross between land shark (classic SNL) and Frankenstein. "What?" I asked. And then he raised his voice so I could hear him crystal clear, "Give me my motherfucking money bitch or get the fuck out!" I froze, not being accustomed to people talking to me like this unless waiting for a subway. Like a maroon I said, "What?" for a second time. "Give me my motherfucking money or I'll call the cops and throw your ass out. I'm sick of you and your husband and all the motherfuckers in the building complaining. Give me my motherfucking money!" I hung up. I called 311 who connected me to the police and they came by within a few minutes (I guess it was a slow day). The officers told me that Landlord should be thanking me for paying his bill and that under no circumstances could he call them and have me thrown out. They also advised I put a deadbolt on the door since he's let himself in before. FF four days. Suddenly the apartment is freezing cold, particularly in the bedrooms where the baseboard heat no longer heats up despite the thermostat cranking up to 85. Our neighbors are having the same issue. Luckily the living room heat is on, although it doesn't go above 65. I had Joe leave Landlord three messages about the heat and needless to say he has not called back nor has anyone been by to fix the heat. I'm pretty tired of living here. We're going to Austin next Friday for Joe to take a teaching certification test and I'm looking forward to seeing all my old pals. I will post before then with some crafty goodness. For now, I'll leave you with one more cute Bub shot just in case my tale of harassment has gotten you down:

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Time, stupid time, bringin' me down.

Anyone get that one? It's from a Daniel Johnston song and it always gets stuck in my head when I'm stressed for time (which is the past 15 months essentially). Harlan is napping and I am simmering some dinner for him while I write this post. Multi-tasking at its best.
I now have a rather large stockpile of fabric and a nice list of plans for execution. I'm going to make a bunch of different items, all baby & kid related and see how they sell.

Perhaps they will do really well and I can then outsource to a nice local factory as I have been planning on doing with the embroideries for months now. Here are some close ups of what I just got in the mail:

I almost feel sad to part with the lovely Amy Butler prints, but alas I must. The robot (or "robutt" as Joe and I like to say) is for Harlan of course, but I am just realizing I should have bought more since robots are so trendy suddenly. I bet it would be a hit to sell in the form of sun hats (one of my ideas).
My online spending fever has yet to subside. Last night I purchasedthis sweet little guy from one of my all time favorite crafters chet and dot. This chicklette is a birthday gift for a friend in early April. I saw it and could not resist, because she and I both have a love for baby chicks. When we both lived in Austin at the same time she bought a little chick at a flea market for a quarter and named him Eddie. We planned on sharing custody of little Eddie, but sadly he died on Christmas eve after taking ill and only walking backwards for a couple of days. Eddie's mom kept him in her bedroom in a nice coop so that none of the predators outdoors would kill him. Unfortunately for Eddie neither of us knew that chicks required pebbles and dirt in their gullets to survive. Here are photos of Eddie with Abby and me:

Getting back to chet and dot, everything she makes is so lovely and perfect, I'm practically a crazed stalker because I'm always checking out her shop to see what's new. It seems she has also picked up some superbuzzy fabrics and has undoubtedly done a better job of sewing things with them than I will. I am going to stick to making some pretty simple stuff with mine. I have to show the cutest thing she sent along with my last purchase.

My very own marshmellow towel-neck man! We keep him on this lamp switch and Harlan loves to stand at the edge of the couch and grab for him. Harlan has also taken to throwing things behind the trunk/side table and pulling himself over it to try and retrieve his losses: