Friday, February 29, 2008

Blessings Friday: Leap Year and a Gift

It’s Leap Year today. According to folk legend, “In the English speaking world, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years” (Wikipedia).

As a young girl, my school had two Sadie Hawkins dances during a leap year, one around Feb. 29 and again on Sadie Hawkins Day in November. Although we weren’t proposing marriage, this is when tradition held that we invited a boy to accompany us to the dance. It always terrified me; I was terribly shy.

Source: Wikipedia

Look at this great composition book cover the ever-so fabulous Calamity Kim made for me.

She put so much thought into each and every detail. Just the act of writing in this book is like a celebration of words and life. And when I run out of pages, I can merely insert a new blank book—love that!

Have a joyous weekend celebrating the beginning of March and the promise of Spring!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Dreaded Cabinets

Lest you think my life is devoted only to one crafting adventure after another, I do actually clean my house. It makes me absolutely crazy to try to think and create in the midst of chaos. It’s disruptive to my notion of serenity.

I’ve been tackling cabinets, purging unrelentingly, cleaning, and then reorganizing. Questions I ask myself during the process are as follows. When did I last use this? Do I really need it? Why in the world do I save stuff like this?

On one side of the cabinet under my kitchen sink are general cleaning products. Little turntables bought at Target make it easy to grab what I require. I stick scrub brushes in a simple jar.

The other side contains products for washing dishes (both by hand and machine). There are not many cleaning products you actually need, and I make them all myself.

The master bath has his-and-hers bathroom sinks with cabinets underneath. Except for a very few products, I make my own toiletries and try to package them prettily (on left). See how nice and neat my cabinet looks?

Now look at the dreadful mess in my husband’s cabinet. I try to be respectful about his things, but this is driving me nuts. I’m tackling it next.

There are more cabinets to be done, but now you know I don’t just merrily sew and craft all day long. Do you have cabinets you dread opening?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

French Things

Yesterday was a lovely day for baking. I made Madeleines Aux Citron from a recipe in Victoria magazine’s Spring 2008 newsletter (initially published in Tea Time magazine, Summer 2005). An hour with my book, a cup of tea, and a fresh-baked Madeleine—ah, what bliss!

I sprinkled a bit of sanding sugar from Williams-Sonoma, but you can also just use powdered sugar as the recipe suggests.

Here’s a little French tidbit I just found out: Marie Claire Idées magazine now has a blog. And if you’re a big fan of that magazine, there’s also a Flickr group.

And this is what I made with their free project, cute covered pencils. Here’s a hint about their project if you’re like me and can’t read French—click on each picture and it will bring up a PDF version for you to save and print. You can do the same project with any pretty paper you already have at home, including gift wrap.

Links to tasty teatime recipes:

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Organizing Coupons

I’ve not been a large user of discount coupons but I do pay attention to those for big ticket items or for use at craft stores. Yesterday I used one of our entertainment book coupons to purchase two seats for the price of one for an upcoming symphonic presentation of Holst: The Planets. It’s not groceries or craft supplies but it’s my favorite of the classics so we’re going.

The coupons I tried to use at the grocery store were expired which frustrated me since grocery prices seem higher.

A quick stop at Jo-Ann’s for some needed interfacing left me paying full price because I found I’d left those coupons on my kitchen counter. While my interfacing was being cut, I thought about my need to organize my coupons more efficiently. And that’s when I saw free project handouts piled on the counter—and one was for making a coupon wallet.

Once home I made a quick selection of some pieces of fabric from my stash and made a new coupon wallet using the hand-out instructions.

Here’s my handy-dandy new coupon wallet.

I think the cover calls for a bit of embroidery so I’m going to think about what design to use, maybe simply my monogram.

I’ve been watching the rise in groceries, along with other things, and am rethinking my heretofore haphazard handling of our budget. Taking advantage of sales and using coupons more often may be helpful.

According to, “food and beverage prices are rising at a 4.4% annual rate. But dairy prices are up 13% (and 26% for a gallon of whole milk alone). Meanwhile, meat prices are up 6%, and bakery products are up 4.6%.”

Last night I looked online for advice about managing our grocery budget more economically. The following is just a few of the informational resources available; each has more links you can follow.


  • Numerous posts by Clarice at Storybook Woods
  • Grocery Shopping: What Works for Me” at Cheap Healthy Good
  • CVS 101” at Money Saving Mom
  • Chief Family Officer
  • Mighty Bargain Hunter
  • More Bang for Your Coupon Buck” at Mommy Gets Paid
  • Pat Veretto's Frugal Living Blog
  • The Frugal Freezer” at Savvy Frugality
  • The Art of Stockpiling” at Motherload

Monday, February 25, 2008

Reversible Bag for Charity

I’ve been thinking about my post last Friday declining the award I was given. While I sincerely appreciate your inclusion of me, my new blogging rule is that I won’t accept awards associated with tagging as it makes me too uncomfortable.

Kelli has a big charity fundraiser coming up. My contribution is a reversible bag.

I used the Flea Market Bag pattern I purchased from Grand Revival Design. The two fabrics were purchased at Jo-Ann’s.

Since the bag is reversible, I made a covered button for each side.

I hope the bag helps bring in a little money for the charity.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Blessings Friday: Excellence

It’s been a great week and I’m reminded at every moment of how blessed I am to have friends. So, let’s share the excellence of friendship today.

Diane generously awarded me This Blog is Rated E for Excellent Award recently. I am very appreciative and touched by this honor.

Now I’m tasked to award it to 10 people whose blogs I think worthy. I’ve been doing some serious thinking about this. I could just say, “I give all of you this award.” But that would diminish the award’s value.

Finally, I realized I cannot do it. There is no way to name 10 specific blogs as exceptional without hurting someone’s feelings. The concept of excellence is subjective to the reader’s point of view. Every blog I regularly read is admirable to me.

So, the honest thing for me to do here is not accept the award. My heart tells me I’ve made the right decision.

I thank all of you for the excellence of your friendship—have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Well, my friends, I’m getting a lot of use out of my “red” stuff—what with Chinese New Year, Valentine’s Day, and now today’s Chinese Lantern Festival. I already shared my lantern photos Monday in my erroneous celebration on the wrong day. Ah well, at least I’m enthusiastic in my mistakes.

I think I’m going to find a little something from different countries around the world to celebrate each month along with my own U.S. traditions. It’s a good way to learn about other cultures. February has been fun learning a little about Chinese customs so I’ll move on to Celtic customs during March.

The Amy Butler Weekender Bag project is now done and has been delivered to its new owner.
I guess I should explain that my sewing this was not for money but as a kindness to her.

She wanted a southwestern themed fabric and chose two different Michael Miller prints that look like petrolglyphs.


In the meantime, a need to whip up something new and super simple lured me into an unscheduled sewing project yesterday afternoon. I didn’t want anything expensive or complicated—just a little thing to balance out my big projects.

So here is my new tea towel using fabric left over from last year’s spring dinner party apron favors. This was merely a matter of cutting out a rectangle and hemming the edges—such joy in simplicity. Just seeing it hanging on the line and dancing in the breeze is enough to celebrate this moment in time.

Now I’m off to work on projects promised to
Joni, Kelli for a fundraiser, my sister Connie, Special Olympics fundraiser items, a technical writing project, etc.

Thank goodness dinner is in the crock-pot. I’m using an easy recipe for Pepper Jack Chicken posted on Seasonal
Delights. I’m kind of tired.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Tonight is the last total lunar eclipse we’ll enjoy until 2010. Depending on the weather, we should also be able to see Saturn and its rings as well as Regulas framing the full moon.

Now let’s talk about the four coasters I made for Ibby
Bee's coaster swap. You can see everyone’s projects here.

I secretly lurked on Beverly’s blog to learn about her. I noticed her fondness for Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s—and that’s the theme I chose.

Simply classic.

Scanned sheet music for Moon River from one of my husband’s music books; words by Johnny Mercer and music by Henry Mancini. Do you remember the scene where Holly Golightly sings this?

I love this sassy pose.

The Necklace—nothing more need be said.

Each picture was printed on fusible fabric and backed with a black-and-white print. I felt pearls would be perfect iconic embellishments. These are real pearls, not fake. I bought them at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show two weeks ago for this project.

Kristie gave me some tiny white beads and showed how to attach the pearls with them. You loop the thread up from your fabric and through the pearl, then into the tiny bead, back down through the pearl, and finally back into your fabric.

An old Tiffany’s box and bag was the final touch along with a Tiffany card and envelope for writing a note to Beverly. I absolutely loved creating this coaster set.

All photos by Dub Scroggin

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blogging Our Hearts

Have you ever wondered who wrote the first blog? A simple request by Kim through her blog Daisy Cottage prompted my curiosity about the origin of blogging and the concept of sharing.

The Wall Street
Journal credits Jorn Barger as the source of the modern blog. In 1997, Barger began writing about links to online sites that interested him and discussing it on what he called his “weblog,” considered by the Oxford English Dictionary as the primordial root of the word “weblog.”

Today, blogging serves any number of purposes, medical, social, political, religious, the arts, and so on. You name the subject and there’s a whole world about it somewhere as expounded through blogs.

The blog world in which I participate is about living a creative life. It’s a social world that began for me by reading about sewing and then sharing my own crafting endeavors. But it’s gone beyond merely saying “look what I made.”

Blogging has brought me ways to enrich my life and that of my family, opened new venues of charitable service, and helped me focus on what I really find important in life. It has certainly brought friendship and served as a sort of equalizer in terms of my age and engaging in social communication with others.

By nature, I am a sharer. This has not always been welcomed by others which doesn’t make sense to me but that’s the way it is. So blogging has enabled me to put my heart and sincere wish to share into action.

Kim asked her readers to share stuffed hearts they made for her collection. The symbolism of a simple heart shared is what prompted me to think about the wonderful blog world in which I participate. So I went through my stash over the weekend and found some fabric to make her a heart. I embroidered her name after writing it free-hand on the fabric with a water-soluble marker.

I am sending Kim this little fabric heart—from my heart to hers. But it’s more than that. In a way, it’s also sharing it with you and that, for me, is what blogging is all about.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Simple Clothesline

*Updated 'cause I celebrated too soon and need to correct the date: Chinese New Year celebrations culminate in the Festival of Lanterns on Feb. 21, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. Here is our string of lanterns, lighting our way to a better year.

Credit: Dub Scroggin

Clothes hanging on a line are also evocative of a clean start. But my homeowner association is one of more than 300,000 across the U.S. with covenants prohibiting outdoor clotheslines. The reasoning is that they are an eyesore that lessens property values—contradicting today’s efforts to recycle and conserve.

According to Project Laundry
List, a national organization promoting clothesline use, there are more than 88 million dryers in the United States consuming 6 percent of the average U.S. household electrical use.

Credit: Dub Scroggin

Tucson is perfectly suited for drying clothes outside. Because of our abundant sunshine and low humidity, we can hang out our wet clothes and ten minutes later—poof—they’re dry and smell wonderfully fresh. Compare that to time spent in an electric or gas dryer.

When we moved here, my husband hung a clothesline for me between the posts on our back porch despite our homeowner association rules. Should we use natural sunlight or build nuclear energy power sources? My simple clothesline wins every time. And sunshine is free energy.

This weekend I realized I needed new clothespins. An article in the Winter 2008 issue of Somerset Life magazine about making clothespin paperclips inspired me to make mine pretty. But I want clothespins that can actually be used for their original purpose—to pin clothes to a line.

Credit: Dub Scroggin

Using a pack of wooden clothespins from Target, I took one apart and traced around it on pretty paper. After cutting out the paper strips, I painted YES glue on each clothespin section and attached the paper. To make them functional, each papered clothespin was then coated with polyurethane for weather-proofing.

Credit: Dub Scroggin

Yes, I could just use the clothespins as packaged. For me, though, it’s about celebrating life’s minute details—whether it’s hanging clothes to dry in the sun or hanging lanterns to light our way in the dark.

Credit: Dub Scroggin

The trick is to remember to treasure the details in life—and that includes Mother Earth.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Blessings Friday: His and Hers Hugs

Yesterday was such fun. We made our “cherub” visits to all the neighbors with our baked treats and our Valentine dinner was a happy success. As soon as my husband realized lobster was on the menu, he insisted on preparing it himself to avoid my having any allergic reaction. So, all my lobster worries were for naught.

My husband and I have been discussing the aches and pains we are experiencing with getting older. We’re a little surprised and confused by how our bodies are changing. Inside our heads, we’re much younger and spying ourselves in a mirror as we actually are is rather startling.

Although I planned to make rice pillows this coming weekend, Blair’s idea on Wise Craft to make them for Valentine’s was a perfect activity for yesterday afternoon when I found myself at loose ends. Her instructions are very clear and I made both pillows quite quickly.

My husband wrapped the “his and hers” pillows together like this for me to photograph. He said “we” are hugging each other.

Two minutes in the microwave or a visit in the freezer for awhile make these pillows ever so useful for us. Ah, the blessing of soothing our poor old bodies!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day of Love

Thank you for your help on the lobster cooking business. The store has agreed to do the dirty deed for me and I’m going to wear rubber gloves when preparing it tonight. Seafood causes me to quit breathing and I don’t think that would be very romantic at all, so I’ll be very careful messing about with that lobster.

I got up at 4:30 a.m. to get my baking done, set the table for tonight, and take my photos for this post. I made Red Velvet Cupcakes for our neighbors using the recipe is from Seasonal Delights. I have a heart-shaped tray for each family which we’ll deliver when my husband gets home from work this afternoon. The candy hearts are from a bag of wedding hearts and I just picked out ones appropriate for Valentine’s and ignored the “groom” and “bride” bits.

My initial plan was to make Pavlova for our dessert tonight using a recipe my friend Donna sent to me, but I’m worried about trying that in conjunction with the lobster effort which already makes me nervous. So some of the Red Velvet batter was used in heart-shaped pots which I bought at Michael’s for 99-cents each.

I used the beautiful paper hearts Joni made for me as decorations along with adorable Valentine cards from Kelli, Anna, and our neighbors and friends, Maggie and Brad.

The only thing left to do is pick up the lobster at the store and finish the other dinner preparations. I think I’ll take a nap, too.

Photo by Dub Scroggin; text added by me

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Weekender Bag and Calamity Kim’s Birthday

I am still working on some projects I’m not ready to share yet. One of them is making another Amy Butler Weekender bag that I must have completed by Feb. 21.

Here is the Weekender bag I made earlier using Amy Butler's fabrics. The one I’m making now has a southwestern theme. It’s for one of my neighbors who does not know how to sew. She picked out the fabrics and asked me to make it for a trip she’s taking on the 22nd.

Today is Calamity Kim’s birthday and there’s a big online celebration. Visit her entrancing blog and see all the birthday celebrations her friends are posting on Calamity Kim’s Birthday Party on Flickr.

This is a birthday card I made for her using one of my husband's photos of our roses and adding the text. I'm having a lot of fun making things using photos we've both taken. It's opening up a whole new world of creative ideas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Old Lobster Couple

I used to travel through Boston for work projects and bring home live lobsters for my husband to cook and enjoy. Since I’m highly allergic to any type of seafood, I prepare something else for me.

As I’m not traveling anywhere near Boston right now and there’s no ocean in Arizona from which to catch my own, I’ve ordered lobster for my husband’s Valentine dinner.

This time I want his dinner entree to be a surprise which requires I cook it. But I don’t know how. Can any of you advise me? A simple recipe for a lobster-ignorant cook would be ever so appreciated.

“It's a known fact that lobsters fall in love and mate for life. You know what, you can actually see old lobster couples walkin' around their tank, ya know, holding claws.” (Phoebe, Friends, Episode 2.14)

I look forward to our being an old claw-holding lobster couple.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snippets of Thread

How was your weekend? Mine was very full but I had a great time. Dinner and crafting at Kristie's house Friday night was such a perfect evening of friendship, great food, and working on my coasters for the swap hosted by Amy at Ibby Bee.

I have three freelance technical writing jobs to do this morning, and then I’ll be able to finish my coasters for mailing to my swap partner. So, since I haven’t anything finished to share, here’s a project I made last March for those of you who didn’t know me during my non-blogging Flickr-only days.

This is a threadcatcher which sits either on the arm of my chair or the edge of my sewing table. It collects all the flotsam and jetsam of thread snippets that otherwise make a mess.

The pattern is from IndyBags (found on eBay). The frame is the plastic rim of a Breyer's Ice Cream lid with the extraneous cardboard part removed. The pincushion part has a rubber shelf-liner backing so it won't slide. Four 1”-square drapery weights inside the fiberfill stuffing help give it weight so it stays where you want it.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Story of Giselle

Tonight, we have tickets to see Giselle performed by the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre group. We love the ballet and haven’t seen this particular one in many years.

I researched Giselle to refresh my memory of it. Giselle is a ballet in 2 acts, 2 scenes. It was first presented by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique in Paris on June 28, 1841. Don’t you just love the historical context?

Source link

First Act

Giselle, an innocent village maiden falls in love with a man she knows only as Loys. Actually, he is the nobleman Prince Albrecht disguised as a peasant and betrothed to another. Giselle discovers his deceit and, heartbroken, dies.

Source link

Second Act

Giselle is about to be initiated as a Wili, a jilted maiden who dies before her wedding night. Wilis are vengeful ghosts who emerge between midnight and dawn to trap any man who enters their domain by forcing him to dance to his death. They must return to their graves at sunrise.

At the initiation, Myrtha (Queen of the wicked Wilis) forces Albrecht to dance again and again. Giselle intervenes to allow him to survive until dawn and shows Albrecht she forgives him. They pledge their love to each other but will forever be separated as Giselle is now a Wili for the rest of eternity and must return to her grave

Fair maidens, noblemen in disguise, wicked queens, unrequited love, and evil wraiths—what a story! Now I know where the term “it gives me the willies” originates. I hope you are free of any Wilis this beautiful weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Blessings Friday: Giveaway of Love Winner

The winner of the Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) charity give-away is …

Shannon of If Sew blog left the following comment about her charitable works:

“We donate yearly to a local non-profit called
COTS, they provide services to homeless people and have transitional housing for homeless families. I have donated lots of our gently used outgrown baby items to them as they help quite a few families with small children and are always looking for baby items. My quilt guild makes quilts for them monthly. I just joined the quilt guild and plan to start helping out with the quilts, its a great way to practice new quilting skills and give warm and cozy quilts to people in need.”

Shannon, please email me (link in sidebar) with your full name and mailing address so I can make the donation to SCAW of a bedkit for a homeless child in YOUR name. To save them money on printing and postage, I’ll have the gift card announcement sent to you via email.

Source: SCAW

Thank you to all of you for sharing the good works you do. I learned much from your comments about different ways of helping others and hope you did, too.