Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Simple Handmade Pillowcases

I needed to custom make some pillowcase because the ones you buy are larger now than what they used to be.  As you already know I was gifted some hand crocheted lace from a friend that her grandmother had made.  It is so pretty.  Fortunately I know how to make a pillowcase.

There are plenty of ways to make a pillowcases.  From simple and basic to fancy and elaborate.  I've made them a few different ways but this is how I like to do it.  Just a nice simple basic pillowcase with endless possibilities.

I used 100% cotton muslin to make my pillowcases.  After washing and drying it I pressed it with an iron.  Fortunately the 44" width of the fabric was perfect.  After I squared up the end I cut two pieces 32" long.

At one end I pressed the edge over 1/2" and then folded over 3" to make the hem at the opening of the pillowcase.  With my hem gauge I pinned and pressed it.  Then I selected a decorative stitch and sewed across the edge.  You can certainly straight stitch it here too.

Stitching the hem
Stitching the first part of the french seam - WRONG sides together.

I like to use French seams so I don't have any raw edges anywhere.  Pinning WRONG sides together I sewed a 1/4" seam using a straight stitch down the side and across the bottom.

Finishing the French seam - RIGHT sides together.
Using my pinking shears I trimmed the seam close to the stitching, careful not to get too close and cut the stitches.  I turned the pillowcase inside out and pressed it making sure the seams were neatly pressed and corners square.  Then I repeated the 1/4 seam along the side and across the bottom.

Pressed and folded in half - looks great just like this!

Once I turned the pillowcase right side out it was all finished.  Ta da!  

Close up of the hem.
I pressed it again and then got busy and hand stitched the crocheted lace to the edge of the hem.  I plan to make another set for some lilac colored crocheted lace I have and I have some pretty white lace too that I'd like to use for a set too.

After I added the crocheted lace.
When I make the pillowcases with the white lace I plan to tuck it under the edge of the hem before I stitch it.  That will make it nicely embellished, I think.  And save me a step in stitching it on later.

So pretty!

Have you ever made your own pillowcases?  Think you'll make some now?  If so, I want to see them!  Hope you share. J

Monday, May 2, 2016

Last Week's Thrifty Moves

Sunday I finished up two embroidery projects I had been working on while I watched the NASCAR race on Youtube.  I made myself two cloth bread dough covers.  I used up some vintage lace I had in my stash along with some off white muslin.  I made my own transfers by printing off the pattern onto some of my scrap paper and then tracing the design onto the fabric with a pencil.  Works pretty slick. I'll be sharing more about these with you soon.

I patched a pair of my youngest's jeans.  She is quite adept and putting her knees through her jeans and with only six weeks of school left I felt it more prudent to patch them rather than replace them.  This summer I'll turn them into shorts.

I took everything out of our refrigerator, cleaned it inside and then put everything back nice and neat and organized.  I was able to rotate items to get used up.  I made a little buffet for the chickens too so they benefitted quite nicely from this little chore.

I printed out a new pantry list and began to plan my grocery shopping for May.

I printed another embroidery pattern I found online onto some scrap paper.  I cut a couple pieces of white fabric to trace it onto.  My daughter wants to learn to embroider so I made one for each of us.  It will be a fun project to work on together. 

I also copied a favorite craft pattern I use often that was wearing out.  I placed it on my printer and used scrap paper from my stash.  Then I decided to go ahead and make a second one while I was at it.  Now I'll have extras for later and I can keep on crafting!

We enjoyed my daughter's Honor Orchestra concert Tuesday evening.  Afterward they had a reception and asked everyone to bring certain things to contribute.  We were asked to bring something to drink.  I happened to have a 2 liter bottle of orange soda in the pantry for just such an occasion. J

I made a huge loaf of French bread for sandwiches.  YUM!

We made a trip to Home Depot after work on Friday to pick up some stuff to complete a couple home improvement projects.  Then we stopped in next door at the feed store to grab a 50# bag of laying pellets and a replacement lid for one of their water feeders.  The chickens earned more than enough in egg sales the past two months to cover that bill. J

Saturday morning we had to drop off my daughter at a friend's house fairly early.  I decided to take advantage of that outing to combine and run errands before I returned home.  The youngest and I dropped off our glass recycling at the big bin in Albertson's parking lot, dropped off a big load of purged items at the thrift store donation center and then dropped off books we had finished reading at the library's drive thru book return.

We got a jumpstart on our May grocery shopping a day early because our schedule in the coming week is pretty tight.  At Cash & Carry we picked up 10# of lean ground beef, 5# of grated cheddar, 6 bell peppers and 3 heads of lettuce.

Next stop was to run the car through the carwash and thoroughly vacuum out the inside, including the trunk.  On the way home we stopped back at Albertson's for toilet paper and a 16# bag of cat food that was on sale, hamburger and hot dog buns, a package of bagels in the markdown bin, green onions, a bag of mixed veggie, bananas and two containers of whipped topping.  Plenty of stuff to see us through for quite awhile.

We washed out several Ziploc bags to reuse.

I sold four dozen eggs to our friends and a co-worker.

I picked a huge pile of dandelion greens and fed them to the chickens.  I also gave them some kitchen scraps.  They blessed us with two dozen eggs.

How thrifty was your week?

Friday, April 29, 2016

My May Meal Plan

May? What?

How did that happen?

I lost the first half of April because I relapsed and ended up sick again.  The girls too.  So needless to say our meal plan literally fell by the wayside.  None of us had much of an appetite and nothing sounded good.  Plus none of us had the energy or inclination to cook.  We lived off of soup, toast, eggs and oatmeal and all the little things I had tucked away in our freezer that could easily be reheated.

Cheddar Cheese Omelet

The last half of the month was better and we rallied.  I plan to do much better in May.  This is what I plan to feed my lovely family this month:

Chicken Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy & Green Beans
Pork Verde Burritos, Spanish Rice, Lettuce Wedges
Cheese Omelets, Toast, Fresh Fruit
Clam Chowder, Biscuits, Garden Salad
Mushroom Hamburger Gravy, Steamed Rice, Green Beans
Hamburgers, Lettuce & Tomato, Onion Rings
Ham & Bean Soup, Cornbread, Garden Salad (didn't make this last month)
Broccoli Lasagna, French bread, Caesar Salad
Turkey Avocado Sandwich, Potato Chips, Pickles
Breakfast Burritos, Fruit Salad
Beef Tacos, Lettuce & Tomatoes, Salsa (didn't make this last month)
Sloppy Joes, Tater Tots, Veggies & Dip (didn't make this last month)
Tomato & Rice Soup, Cheddar Bread, Spinach Salad
Beef Stroganoff, Egg Noodles, Steamed Broccoli
Chicken & Pasta Bake, Buttered Peas (didn't make this last month)
Veggie Quiche, Sliced Pears
Chicken Garlic Pizza, Caesar Salad (didn't make this last month)
Vegetable Beef Soup, Dinner Rolls, Tossed Green Salad (didn't make this last month)
Pork Chops, Rice Pilaf, Buttered Carrots (didn't make this last month)

Homemade Vegetable Beef Soup
We'll have two special meals in May as well:

Mother's Day

Steak & Shrimp
Baked Potatoes
Caesar Salad
Dinner Rolls
Strawberry Shortcake

Memorial Day

BBQ Chicken
Pasta Salad
Veggie Tray
Jell-O Poke Cake

I'm really looking forward to my Mother's Day meal.  As usual meal plan includes that I make pretty much everything from scratch.  I'll make bread and rolls, salad dressings and a few desserts.  Not only do these things taste better but it save us a significant amount of money on our budget.

I have a lot of fresh fruit and veggies planned and we will take full advantage of our farm fresh eggs as they will play a major part in several meals throughout the month.  We will have milk and Brita filtered water to drink with our meals too.  Ice water is my preferred beverage.  We rarely drink soda anymore and juice in small amounts.

Spinach Salad

Any fellow meal planners out there?  Whether you are or not, what are some of your favorites dinners to prepare for your family?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Another Not So Thrifty Purchase - Our Home

I don’t rent.  I have a mortgage that I faithfully pay every month with the idea that someday the place I call home will be mine in every sense of the word.  It is still a ways off, but that is the hope and it was the hope when I signed all those papers in the title office before they handed me the keys.  But if you look at the big picture, buying a house isn't thrifty at all.

First, I had to save up for a down payment.  Then there were a ton of closing fees to contend with.  I had to pay for an inspection so I'd know the house I was buying was relatively sound.  Then I had to buy homeowners insurance.  And twice a year I get a property tax bill.

Then there is the interest I am charged on the mortgage.  LOTS of interest that will total far more than the original price of the house.

Also, if something breaks I have to fix it.  I'm on the hook for all repairs, upgrades and maintenance of my house.  I have to pay for water, sewer and trash removal in addition to the monthly electric bill.  If the water line breaks between the house and the main I am fully responsible for that expense.  Same with the sewer line.  I have to pay rent for the trash bins the city requires us to use.

I have to keep a fence up on my property line.  When the original one fell apart I had to replace it.  I have to keep my trees pruned and healthy.  I have to maintain a lawn and keep it neat so the city doesn't fine me.

When I rented a home I paid an initial deposit, rent, the electric bill for heat and lights plus a small sum each month for renters insurance.  If something broke my landlord fixed it.  When it needed paint or a roof he did that too.  Someone showed up once a week to mow and trim and I did the watering.  Water, sewer and trash was included in my rent.

If I crunch the numbers, and I have, it doesn't make a lot of financial sense to own a home.  I spend much more now than I ever did as a tenant.  Most people who buy a home never end up owning it.  So why do it?

Originally the idea was that I would acquire equity and it would be worth much more in the future.  There are a lot of rules when renting.  I wanted to be able to paint my walls whatever color I wanted.  I didn't want to help pay someone else's mortgage.  I wanted to be a homeowner.

I realize too that homeownership isn't for everyone.  It used to be frowned on a bit, I think, if people weren't inspired or motivated to buy property and were just content to rent.  But I can see the wisdom in it.  It is less money to rent.  Even when we were living in our RV and just renting the land I found after crunching the numbers that it would have been less money to rent an apartment.  We didn't really save anything, even after selling the trailer.  Kind of crazy, huh?

For me, it is worth the extra expenses and responsibility because for the most part I get to do things my way.  And, unless I stop paying my mortgage, no one is going to kick me out.  I got evicted from the last two homes I rented because the landlords sold the properties and both times the closing was contingent on vacancy.  That was no fun and I never wanted to find myself in that position again.

So what are your thoughts?  Is buying a home worth it or is renting a better way to go?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Grocery Budget - April Update

This month I didn't spent much on groceries and we didn't need much either.  I only shopped twice and that suited me just fine.  Other than produce and dairy items I mainly filled in with items to round out what we already had on hand and items we were low on.  The freezers and pantry are still very well stocked.

A little dented, but the seals were intact

I came across quite a few good markdown items so I splurged a bit on lunchmeat and those Little Smokies.  My girls loves those.  And yes, there really is a box of Twinkies® and a box of Ding Dongs® on this list, I had a moment of weakness.

Trip #1 

Trip #2

My non food items budget is $25 a month and I had $14.41 leftover from March to roll over and add to it making it $39.41.  I bought a lot of non food items this month.  Cat food, litter, toiletries and stocking up on feminine hygiene items accounted for me spending $38.50 leaving me with 91¢ left to roll over next month and use.

Here is the list of food I bought.  The items highlighted in red are my stock up items:

Dollar Store
Cheese (2)
Store Coupon
Ramen (48)
Veggie tray
Milk - 1/2 gal (3)
Store Coupon
Orange juice - 1/2 gal
Store Coupon
Cream - qt.
Tater tots - 5#
Ding Dongs
Dollar Store
Bread crumbs
Dollar Store
Cole slaw mix
Sour cream (2)
Milk - 1/2 gal (3)
Store Coupon
Orange juice - 1/2 gal (2)
Store Coupon
Olives (3)
Tortillas (2)
Smoked sausage
Little Smokies (2)
Hot dog buns
Hamburger buns
Chow mein noodles
Pinepple chunks (2)
Store Coupon
Tortilla chips
Store Coupon
 $   90.30

$90.30 ÷ 30 days ÷3 people = $1.00 per person per day!

Next month I am hoping for a good buy on sugar, peanut butter and as always meat and cheese.  Did you stock up on anything this month?  Any super deals?

This budget month runs from April 1 through April 30.