Sunday, September 27, 2009

Could it get any better?

Seriously, doesn't this look like the best day ever? Don't tell hubby about this picture though. He thought I was taking pictures of the Sweet Pea, but I just couldn't resist. No, the dog isn't ours. It actually belongs to someone on the block who does not take care of it at all and as such it has adopted us. It's cute and makes an adorable photograph, but needs to go home. Could it get any cuter than this though?

Okay it did get cuter. We were out in the backyard picking up acorns. Dh wanted to pick them up to feed the deer with or something and I knew it would be the perfect activity for the Sweet Pea. She loves putting things in buckets. It was such a nice sunny day we just had to hang out outside for a while.

She's really getting good at deciding what she thinks needs to be photographed lately. I have tons of pictures of toes, socks, shoes, tongues, teeth, bellies and now acorns.

~I know I've been slacking off lately with crafty posts but I really do have a good reason. We're expanding the house so that has taken up all of my time and energy. More on that in the next couple days though.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Backtracking--Attack the Clutter Part 1

In my yard sale post I said “I mentioned before that I’m getting rid of the clutter that has taken over my house” but I just realized that this post never got posted. Ugh. It was finished sitting there just waiting for me to hit that button and I never did. So I’m going to back track a little bit and post it now. Hope you don’t mind.

Clutter has taken over my house. Forget the house; it’s taken over my entire life as of late. I was looking around this past week and suddenly had the overwhelming urge to find a hole in the sand to stick my head in. I swear I don’t know how this happens. I like to think of myself as a person who likes to live simply and keep things neat and organized. That’s how I like to think of myself. Apparently while I wasn’t looking the pod people came and now I’m a person living amidst junk and clutter. The bathroom cabinets are stuffed to the brim, our closets are bursting and don’t even get me started on the Sweet Pea’s toys. The magazine rack is overflowing and there are papers stacked everywhere; on top of the refrigerator, tables, the armoire…everywhere. Ugh. I tell myself that they are important papers that I can’t throw away, but if they are that important then I should file them. I know this. In fact, I know how to get organized and be clutter free. I’ve written articles about it, advised other people with great organizing tips and techniques and even used to live it. I’ve just gotten complacent. I’ve turned my head when unwanted items have drifted into the house, closed my eyes when the clutter first started to appear. Suddenly I’ve opened my eyes and it’s everywhere. It’s time to take back my life and my house.

Surely I’m not the only one that has been ambushed by clutter. I’m not right? Please tell me it’s not just me. That’s the thing about clutter, it’s sneaky. At first it’s just some unopened mail or a couple extra toys lying about but before you know it you can’t even open cabinet doors without something falling out at you. Okay, maybe I’m not being attacked by things when I open doors, but it’s getting scarily close. Too close for my liking. We’re trying to get back to living simply around here and more ecologically friendly as well so a lot of changes are going to be taking place.

It’s time to attack the clutter that has taken over our lives and invaded our space; Time to regain the tranquility that our home should provide us. As I tackle the clutter in my house I will take you on the journey with me. I will address some common (and not so common) clutter hot spots and highlight some creative and often simple solutions to get rid of the clutter and keep it from coming back. Together we shall rid the world of clutter. Well maybe not the world but at least our living rooms.

Okay now that I’ve said that obviously one of the first steps I took was to sort through some of the large clutter I had in my house (and in storage) and have a yard sale. While it was quite effective at removing some of the larger stuff we had hanging around, by no means did it solve our clutter dilemma. There is still plenty left that I must tackle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fabric Flower Fun

I told you we did some crafting while we were on our little vacation. The rain continued to fall the entire time we were gone and I realized I didn't pack enough clothing for the cooler weather so we made a late night trip to Joanns one night to pick up some adorable corduroy to make the Sweet Pea some more pants. I took a few scraps of the fabric left over from my mom making the pants (and 2 pairs of pajama pants) and decided to make one of these little fabric flowers I had seen a while back.

I like the way it turned out but I definitely learned a little while I was making it. I intended to make it into a clip but only had pony tail holders with me. I definitely would put some felt or something on the back to attach the pony tail holder to instead of trying to attach it directly. Not bad for a first attempt. I have fabric cut out to make several more.

This is the closest thing I could get to an action shot of the flower. Why I didn't realize it would be next to impossible to get an almost 2 year old to hold still for a photo is beyond me.

Aren't the pants cute? By the way this is the face you get when you tell her to say "cheese" before you take the picture. That and she said the sun was too bright and she couldn't see. Picky, picky.

Just chilling out. We need to learn to do more of that.

I've been doing more crafting since I've been home but not much. I haven't finished much between unpacking, cleaning, making more salsa (10 more quart jars so far) and burning the you know what out of my hand. I've been working on a few things for the 80's Fantasy Movie Swap that I'm doing over at Meridian Ariel and I can't wait to share them. I can't spoil the surprise though so you'll just have to wait. My hand feels much better today so I might be able to actually use a crochet hook again in a day or two. *Make sure you have a good grip on your pot holder when taking an extremely hot pan out of the oven. Ugh.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Home again, Home again

I'm up to my elbows in laundry and the makings for salsa so I must be home again. It was a quick, whirlwind type trip and I'm glad to be home and back into our regular routine. The Sweet Pea is beyond happy to be home. She hasn't wanted to go anywhere since we got back. She actually cheered when we returned from a quick trip to the bank yesterday. Seriously, we pulled in front of the house and she cheered. So sad.

It was a nice trip though. We did a lot of running around and shopping of course. My main goal while there was to visit an antique store in Weatherford that also had fabric. We did manage to make it there and it didn't disappoint. Well, maybe it disappointed a little. I went there in search of this fabric (in yellow) and of course they didn't have it anymore. Don't worry about me though, I still managed to find a bit of fabric that I couldn't resist. I splurged and treated myself to these fabrics.

I say splurge but really they were only $3.95 a yard and I only bought a 1/2 a yard of the cowboy boot fabric to make a skirt for the Sweet Pea. You can't beat that. I'm not sure what I'll do with the other though. I just couldnt' resist the adorable little cowgirls. I'm thinking some sort of picnic blanket or something. Aren't they adorable?

We also made it back to Central Market before we left. I know, I know, but I wanted to buy some fresh dill so I didn't have to use up the rest of my seeds. I also bought all the salsa making supplies while I was there and the rest of the salsa I make this year will be made with organic ingredients. It's hard to explain how happy that makes me. Next year will be even better since I plan on growing all the ingredients in my very own garden. I had no idea the salsa would become so popular and my garden is having a hard time keeping up with supplying all the ingredients. Thankfully my father in law's garden is helping pick up the slack. Next year hopefully we'll only have to purchase the limes. I can't wait.

I need to get back to making salsa though. I have a couple 5 gallon buckets full of tomatoes waiting for me. It's so nice to be home.

Don't worry though I have some crafting to show you tomorrow. Just because we were on "vacation" doesn't mean we didn't do any crafting.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Central Market

So what do you do when you're little and stuck in your carseat on a long trip?

You take your skirt out of your bag and wear it on your head of course. Does she not look like one of those scary lizard-dinosaurs from Jurassic Park? Okay, maybe it's just me but that's what I thought of the instant I saw her. By the way, that's actually an adorable skirt that the grandma (my mom) made for her last week. Hopefully we'll have some action shots soon. That would require the rain in Texas to stop for five minutes.

We've finally made it to Fort Worth (actually we made it yesterday) and after much unloading and rearranging we headed out today to do some shopping. On our way to the fabric store we got sidetracked by Central Market. This is by far the best grocery store on the planet. It doesn't even seem right to call it a grocery store since it's just so much more. From the moment you walk up to the door to see a rack of small paper bags that are ready to be filled with the even smaller pumpkins (and yes the Sweet Pea did get one) you know you are in for a treat.

Next is a huge array of organic herbs, tons of produce, fresh meat and seafood and then a bakery. A bakery filled with yummy breads and sweets and even a tiramisu cupcake (I resisted and it was hard). I can't forget the cheeses, deli, fresh fruit salads, olives, sherbet and more.

By far my favorite section were the bins filled with dried fruits, nuts, rice, grains, spices, tea and coffee beans. I loved the option to pick and choose small amounts of new items (and some of our old favorites) and not get stuck with a huge package of something we end up not liking.

The Sweet Pea got to pick some of her favorite treats to make her own yummy snack mix. It is so nice to be able to control exactly what is in her snack mix and not end up with a lot of things she won't eat or worse, things that melt and ruin the entire thing. She chose banana chips, dried cranberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds and diced dried pineapple. I was able to get all of this to make her yummy snack for just over $1.00 and it's exactly what she likes. You can't beat that.

I loved finding pickling spices and mustard seeds in the bins. I was able to get a much better price than I can at home buying pre-packaged spices. Seriously they were ridiculously cheap and I have no idea why I didn't get more. We're discussing going back tomorrow and if we do I'll get more then and more of the yummy pimento cheese we ate for dinner. Oh and some of the awesome flavors of organic granola they had.

I was seriously blown away by the sheer amount of organic food they had on hand. It makes me really jealous. I called the Hubby while we were shopping to inform him that we would be moving to Fort Worth so that this would be our permanent shopping place. He told me I was crazy and he was not moving just for a grocery store. Fine. I feel really sad for all of us in Oklahoma who don't have a grocery store like this though. It would make it so much easier to eat more organically. I have yet to find something like this in our area but it really makes me want to start doing some research. Even the Sweet Pea loved it because they had so many samples all throughout the store and she just ate her way through the shopping. It made it go so much smoother.
Is it sad that I'm this excited about a grocery store? Probably, but it was really great and I really think I'll be going back again tomorrow. Maybe I should get out more?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My baby sister is getting married!!!

My sister called me yesterday afternoon to inform me that she is getting a month! Yep, a month from today actually. I was pretty surprised to say the very least. She asked me to help plan everything and after the initial shock wore off I, of course, said yes. She's picked out her colors (black and tiffany blue) and has the dress. Everything else is still in the works. I'll be taking off in the next day or two to meet up with her and hammer out some of the details and then the real craziness will begin.

A month is a little short notice to plan and execute a wedding, but I know we're up for the task. Since we're a family of do-it-yourselfers (is that a word?) most of the wedding will be handmade. It should be a fun challenge. I just wanted to give you fair warning that wedding details and crafts will likely be monopolizing the blog for the next several weeks. I'll be sure to sneak a few other things in because I have a lot of projects in the works for the Sweet Pea too.

Bear with me...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pickled Okra

~Hope everyone had a great long weekend. I feel like mine has gone by too quickly. The yard sale went great. We sold almost everything and all of the big stuff sold. I completely forgot to take pictures though. By the time the rain stopped on Friday and I got everything uncovered, I was so busy that I didn't even think to get the camera out. I offered to help my neice have one in a few weeks to raise money for a cheerleading trip so if I do I will definitely take some pictures then.

~Sunday was Hubby's birthday and we just spent the day hanging aroung the house together. We cooked out, I made him a chocolate sheath cake (which is already gone) and his whole family came over to eat. Kinsley and Asiah danced around like crazy people all night long. It was hilarious. Too much sugar I think.

~Monday was mommy's day out! I went to the big Labor Day sales at a couple craft stores and got some fleece to make our Christmas pajamas while it was on sale. Yea for matching jammies.

~I've been super busy making more boxy bags and pleated purses. I'm down to the last few of each of them and then I'll need to find a new project to obsess over. Ideas? I've also canned a bunch more salsa. We're still getting plenty of peppers and tomatoes so I want to make the most of them while I still can.

I've had a few requests for the reicpe I used to make my pickled okra so I thought I'd post it today. It's really simple, just like making pickles really. I got the recipe from my grandma and she's been making pickled okra as long as I can remember.

This is how they look before I put the rings on and process them.


4 Cups White Vinegar
1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Pickling Salt
2 Tablespoons Pickling Spices

5 heads of Fresh Dill
Fresh Garlic
5 Hot Peppers (I use Cayenne)

In a large saucepan mix vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil.

Leave a small amount of stem on okra pods and pack into sterilized jars. Add 1 head of dill, one clove of garlic and a hot pepper to each jar. Pour hot vinegar mixture into jars leaving 1/4 - 1/2 inch of head space. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.

Makes 4 or 5 pints (depends on how tightly you pack the jars)

**Make sure you pack the jars as tightly as you can when you put the okra in the jars. I never seem to get mine full enough. You can't see the dill in these because I had to use dill seed because I didn't have any fresh dill on hand. I have my seeds ready to plant for next year though so I'll have more than enough then.

You need to let the jars set for a few weeks before they will be ready to eat, but they'll be worth the wait.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Yard Sale!

I mentioned before that I’m getting rid of the clutter that has taken over my house. Today was day one of this project. One of the best ways to get rid of a large amount of clutter is a yard sale. This weekend I’m having a sale myself. I’ve had or helped with several yard sales over the years and have learned a thing or two about them along the way.

Be honest with yourself. When sorting through your belongings while getting ready for a sale it’s easy to convince yourself that you need all of these things you have sitting around. I think the most common thing is to think that someday you might need it for something. Get real. If it’s been sitting in your house gathering dust it’s likely that is all it’s going to do in the future. Trust me, when you start clearing things out you’ll feel much better. Wouldn’t you rather have extra space and some extra cash?

Arrange like items together. It’s amazing the difference taking the time to sort and display your items can have on your sale. People expect to rummage a bit but if everything is thrown into huge boxes it will be hard for people to see what you have and you are more likely to miss out on a sale. I try to arrange my items in categories. For example I will put all of the baby items on one table while all of my craft supplies will be going in another area. Arranging like items together makes it easier for people to browse and find all the items they might be interested in. They can’t buy it if they can’t find it.

Price your stuff! I think this is the biggest mistake people make when having a yard sale. They throw all of their items out at the last minute and nothing has a price. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than having to ask the price for each and every item I am interested in. It is especially hard if it is a large or busy sale. More often than not I leave without items I was interested in because someone didn’t take the extra time to price their stuff. It doesn’t take very long to slap a price sticker on an item and it makes it easier on everyone. You are not going to remember every price you tell someone by the time they are finished browsing, especially if your sale is busy.

Advertising is very important when having a sale. I advertised in our local newspaper and if you have a neighboring town close by advertise in theirs as well. Yard sale ads are often inexpensive and can make or break your sale. With online sites like Craigslist it’s even easier to reach a wider audience. After all, the more people that know about your sale the better your sale will do. When writing your ad list some specific items in your ad but don’t go overboard. Items like furniture and baby gear sell well in almost any area so if you have those make sure you list them specifically. Also, don’t forget to put signs up in your neighborhood directing people to your house. I place signs along the major road outside of our neighborhood to draw more attention and make the sale easier to find. It’s best to use a bright color for your sign and large easy to read writing. You don’t need to go into a lot of detail on your sign; the words yard sale and your address are plenty. Adding a large arrow to your sign is also helpful. There have been many sales in the past I have found and stopped at simply because of a road-side sign.

Be willing to haggle. People often expect to be able to negotiate a better price on items at yard sales, it is part of the fun. If you truly don’t want to budge on the price of your items that is perfectly fine, just politely tell the person you need a certain price. However, keep in mind that if you are unwilling to lower the price a bit to make the sale you just might be left with that item when the sale is over.

Watch the weather! I know the weather is unpredictable but it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on that forecast anyway. I didn’t keep a close enough watch and a 60% chance of rain has put quite a damper on my weekend. I didn’t get to take any before pictures because it was raining this morning and I was so busy covering and uncovering everything that taking the pictures for this post completely slipped my mind. But it was 7 tables of stuff (not to mention the stuff too big to go on tables). Don’t worry though, all of that wasn’t in my house. Some of it (most of it) was in storage. Having a ton of stuff in storage isn’t necessarily better.
My theory is that unless it is seasonal items or keepsakes if something has been in storage for an extended period of time and you are living just fine without it, you don’t need it. It’s time for those things to go.

That being said when it came time to sort through the boxes of my books in storage I was close to tears trying to decide which ones I should part with. I realize that's terribly pitiful. Thankfully after staring at the piles of books for more than 20 minutes my sister in law (who loves books as much as I do) arrived and scooped up many of the books I was lamenting parting with. The wonderful thing about this is that now if I suddenly have the desire (and free time) to sit down and actually read, all I have to do is go down to her house and pick a book. Now normally I’m not a fan of simply passing your clutter on to someone else but this is different. Books, in my opinion, are not clutter. At least they aren’t clutter if you have somewhere for them to go. A place for everything and everything in its place. I am happy my books are in a new home and free from storage.

So far the sale is going really well. I’ve sold the greatest majority of my big items (which hubby is thankful he won’t have to move again). The one thing that is still sitting there tempting me to bring back into the house is part of my yarn stash. I told myself after the sale was over everything was going straight into the truck and off to Goodwill; the yarn is begging me to let it stay. If it doesn’t sell by the end of the day tomorrow I may have to list it online. We’ll see how it goes, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Easy Pleated Purse

I know it's hard to believe but I've actually crocheted a few things lately. Who knew I could even still crochet. I needed to get a few things going before Christmas popped up. Those of you that know me know I'm a big fan of repetition. If I find a shirt I like, I buy it in every color they have. When I get started with a project I make it until I'm absolutely sick of it and never want to make it again. I've made about 10 more boxy bags and then started on these Easy Pleated Purses.

The pattern is from Mamachee on Etsy and it really is easy. They whip up in no time and the pattern is simple enough that after the first couple you don't even need to look at the pattern anymore which is nice. I can make one of these in an evening no problem. I used an H hook on mine and love the size they are coming out. My 6 year old neice requested one in rainbow colors because "that would be soooo cool". I guess I'll have to add that to my to-do list.
I really like the colors on this one. It's Bernat Berella 4 Seascape Ombre. I love the sheen of it and the size. It's a bit smaller than the bags made with a regular worsted weight.
This was the first one I made. It's also the largest. It's made with I Love This Yarn in Hot Rose and black. I made the top of the bag black because I really wanted the bright pink button to pop.
This one is just a basic black acrylic worsted weight yarn. I believe it was Hobby Lobby's I Love This Yarn.

This one is also just brown acrylic worsted weight. It was a scrap ball so I'm not sure of the brand but I love the color. It's more of a deep chocolate brown in person.

The first picture is the last bag I made and probably my favorite. It's made with Yarn Bee Mosaic Twist Grotto that I got on sale a long time ago at Hobby Lobby for .59 a skein. It took two to make the bag so talk about a great deal. It's a heavier, thicker yarn and makes me think of winter. It reminds me of snowflakes and cozy sweaters.

Some of these will become Christmas gifts and some (probably the blue one) I'll end up keeping myself. I already have another one made that I just need to sew the strap and button on. It's a deep crimson. I want to make a couple more in the next week or so. I'm thinking maybe an off white and a gray. (and of course that rainbow one)