Friday, December 31, 2010

My Crazy Coupon Lifestyle: the Results

This week, I've used my final EXP 31/12/2010 coupons, and thrown away the rest. I've sorted through my stockpile, rearranging a few items, gleaning out some that I probably won't use before the early spring best before dates, then bagging those up to go to the food bank. I've looked over my last receipts, tallied my coupon savings totals, and I'm quite satisfied with the results.

In 2010, I have calculated $4200 in savings. My goal for the year was $2000. I've been able to lend my support to 2 shelters for abused women, 2 shelters for homeless people, a food bank, and shared with family and friends. I have enough laundry detergent and bleach to see me through until summer, and enough chicken noodle soup for a flu pandemic.  Judging by the contents of my upstairs linen closet, my family should be smelling good, be cleanly shaved, and have sparkling smiles for months to come.

This year, I'm setting my goal at $3000. I have a feeling that time is going to be an issue for me this year. When I graduate from university this spring (can you believe that???  I only have 13 more weeks of university!!!!), so no more spare hours between lectures to sneak off to the shops.

I also am setting a goal to donate 600 items to charitable causes I care about.

I just got an Airmiles card a few weeks ago (I don't know why I never had one before either!) I am setting a goal to accumulate enough AirMiles to redeem for a fancy-schmancy coffee maker. I don't know if that's even possible - but I will definitely be turning my attention towards it!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Went on a date

Hubby and I went to the movies to see "The King's Speech" and then out for dinner together today.

Definitely "two thumbs up" - it was beautifully filmed.  I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.  And the story was incomparable.  Here's the official site.  I think twice in my entire history of going to the theatre has the audience actually applauded at the end of the film. I was suprised at the number of people in the audience as well.  We were somewhat late, arriving just as the previews were ending, and had to take front row seats.

I found myself physically engaged with the movie - nodding encouragement to Colin Firth, clenching my hands together as tightly as Helena Bonham Carter was gripping the arms of her chair. The lady next to me was TALKING to the screen! I thought I was going to have to smack her, but managed to restrain myself

I dunno.....

....but with all of his limbs tucked under his bulk, Gibby sure does look like a fur hat.  I think he's recovering from his splendid mousing of two nights ago.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gibby - a paradox

That cat of mine, never ceases to amaze/annoy/amuse me.

Sailor boy followed Gibby into my bedroom at 10pm last night, and upon crashing through my door, announced "GIBBY HAS A MOUSE!"

Sure enough, Gibby sat on is haunches, his back to the wall, with a lifeless mouse body (its head halfway down Gibby's throat) in his mouth, growling and hissing at Sailor Boy.  Gibby is not one for sharing!

I woke Itty Bitty up, and as Sailor Boy jumped on the cat, Itty Bitty wrestled the rodent carcass out of Gibby's vise-like jaws. 

Never was I sooooo proud, and yet sooooo nauseated at the same time.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bah Humbug!

*** Christmas Eve 2011 -- I've noticed a LOT of traffic on this particular posting, with the majority of the hits coming from Britain. If you're visiting this posting, can you leave a comment and let me know where you saw the link?  Thank back to Christmas 2010.
Get set for the most politically incorrect posting of the year!

I don't "do" Christmas.  Hubby (who channels the Ghost of Christmas Present!) thinks I am a Grinch, and a Scrooge.  I haven't "done" Christmas for the last four years, each year getting more and more comfortable with my decision to abandon it.

Now I'm not a Christmas HATER - I have lots of sweet memories from childhood Christmasses, and I'm still charmed by Hubby's childlike eagerness and holiday spirit.  What I hate is that Christmas has become a long list of obligations, and many of them are commonly loathesome to lots and lots of people.

No, the list of reasons I've decided to give up celebrating has become longer and longer each year, bolstering my commitment to remain tinsel free in the future.  I'm not sharing this list because I think EVERYONE should renounce the festive season, just perhaps to highlight a few areas that could cause you Claus pause, and challenge you to think about some of your traditions.

1 - I hate forced friendliness.  Okay - I'm not kidding here.  Twice already this year I've had people admit to me that they take medication, or medicate themselves with alcohol in order to deal with complicated family dynamics.  I recently had a chat with someone who was outraged that a particular family member was not attending a holiday gathering, even though she ordinarily can't stand this person.  What?  Really??

Why do people do this to themselves?  Are they expecting some kind of Christmas Miracle in their stocking this is going to erase years of horrible communication, painful memories, and hurt feelings?  Is grinning and bearing it what Christmas is about?

2 - I hate gifts.  Okay, maybe that's exagerating.  Gifts make me uncomfortable.  I loved the fudge and date squares in the cute cookie jar that my friend Lorraine left for my family (although, really? coulda been more of your famous date squares Lorraine!). It makes me smile when I imagine the fun and laughter my mom and sister shared as they cooked up the jars of home-preserves and creatively packed into beautiful gift baskets covered in colourful cellophane, topped with a pretty handcrafted tag.  I can tell these gifts were a pleasure for the givers to give, and so it's a pleasure for me to receive.

Anything else makes me really uncomfortable.  "It's the thought that counts" is bull$#*!  With plenty of gifts, it's clear that not a lot of thought went into it. It isn't easy for me to pretend that I'm really excited by the packages of crap that are going to the thrift store come Boxing Day.  And yes, partly it's because I'm disappointed, but the greater piece is that it embarrasses me that I may be hurting the feelings of the giver, because I can't fake surprise and gratitude.  On the other hand, I suspect that the giver is just thinking "well, that's another one off my list" because he or she feels an obligation to give a gift. And that just makes me sad.

3. I hate Christmas plays. No, not the cute little school concerts, but all the draaaaaaaaaama that plays out over the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Now since this is a confessional, I gotta confess a good deal of schadenfreude on my part - this is why we like reality TV so much in our culture.  I enjoy a little gossip about  who lost their marbles, who ruined dinner, who stormed out, who got drunk. 

But upon reflection, I'm ashamed that I listened to the stories, I'm ashamed that I badly want to get the other side of the story, and I'm really sad that bad things happened, and these incidents are going to forever colour what is supposed to be a joyful time of the year, for many years to come. 

4. Christmas offends my sensibilities. Gross consumerism and materialism (that's a given). I don't have to expand on this, do I?  Okay, I will. 

Especially since I've been working so closely with poor people in the last few months, and particularly at the food bank these past two weeks, I've become keenly aware that nothing contributes so much to the loss of dignity for the poor than the awareness that they can't provide the kind of Christmas for their families that our culture expects.  Nothing draws a deeper line between the "haves" and "have nots" than the decision to pay the rent or buy the kids a few gifts.  At the risk of sounding cliché or trite, it's not fair that Christmas is a time of reckoning for children.  It breaks my heart that this is the precise time when children are most likely to recognize that they have less, ARE LESS (when you consider the average outcomes for kids who grow up in poverty).

And while I'm not what you would call a passionate environmentalist, I do think we should try to be as kind to the planet as we can.  A lot of resources, energy, and waste tallies up this time of year.  Will I ever use any of the calendars that I get this time of year from every bank, politician, pharmacy, and realtor?  Nope - into the recycling box. 

Twice this year I have already been asked about what I thought was appropriate to tip day care providers, so the giver didn't seem "cheap". To me, this kind of tipping is paradoxical: this gift is so you will hold me in esteem, and guarantee future good service, NOT because I want to demonstrate my gratefulness for your fine work and dedication. Just this morning I received a "tipping etiquette tips" article in my email. Dollar amounts were stated ($15 for the newspaper carrier) with clarity, but at the end of the list a suggestion that one shouldn't break one's budget:
 "Although there are a lot of grey areas when it comes to holiday tipping, experts all seem to agree on one thing: It shouldn’t break the bank. If you have to go into debt to tip this year, stop. Pull out a stash of stationary, and get writing instead. You can even allude to the fact that you were, say, out of work most of the year, says Blais Comeau. “Respect your budget. That’s the important thing,” she says."

OHHHHHHH!  THAT'S the important thing! Thanks for clearing that up.

But just before you click the comment button to tell me what a Scrooge I am, there are still some things I do like about Christmas.

1. I'm a sucker for Christmas lights.  I can't drive down night-time holiday streets without rubber-necking to-and-fro to take in all the sparkling and glittering.  I love me a Griswold house!

2. Turkey and cranberry sauce.  We just don't get that enough during the year.  I'm glad we save up all that specialness for holidays.

3. Christmas carols.  Not hokey Christmas songs, but beautiful traditional choral arrangements.  Or give me Mahalia Jackson singing "Oh Holy Night" - when she gets to the "fall on your knees" part, I get goosebumps. I like to sing Christmas carols too, but try not to get caught doing it, lest I be accused of having holiday spirit.

4. Snow.  Combined with those twinkly coloured lights?  Can it get any better?

5. Black & White holiday movie classics.  You simply can't see "It's a Wonderful Life" too many times. And I adore any version of "A Christmas Carol". Those happy endings are eternally satisfying.

6. Charity.  People come together and do great things at Christmas.

God bless us, every one!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It can snow all it wants - - what do I care???

This semester is officially over for me!  My last class was today, but the university has closed due to "snowmagedon". Against my better judgement, I drove in to London yesterday, and handed in my final assignment --it wasn't due until Friday, but since it was done...and I HAD arrived alive despite the horrific road conditions, and nightmarish driving habits of those I shared the road with.

Soo....I'm technically "off" until January.  What will I do to fill my hours?

  • I'm reading:

The Best Laid Plans  by Terry Fallis

The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Unless by Carol Shields

Yes, I heard the finalists for Canada Reads 2011 on CBC radio, and Lorne Cardinal (the actor who plays the dopey cop on Corner Gas) was waxing poetic about "Unless". A day or two later, I saw it at the used book store, and I had a 50% off coupon in my hot little hands.  It was meant to be!

The only other book on the list I have already read is "Birth House" by Ami McKay.  It was a great story! (And I generally loathe Canadian fiction, but read it anyway - - sort of like getting vaccinations...'cuz it's probably good for me.)

  • Renovations/redecoration:
The bedroom that was formerly Sailor Boy's is painted, and the new flooring is all but done.  I think we can probably finish it up today, since all three of us are home due to the snow.

  • Volunteer work:
I'm going to be doing some community outreach work at the food bank in the new year. However, I'm going to be spending some time there this month, getting familiar with the operation, and deciding on how I want that work to look.

Also, I'll be doing some time at the law clinic over the school holidays, just to keep some continuity going for my clients.
  • Dare I say it?  Some crafting?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Miss me???

It's been a crazy month!  Where to begin?

Let's see....

1) University - - I have one more major paper to write, and this semester will be over in less than two weeks.  I can't believe how much LESS stressful fourth year is compared to this time LAST year!  I think I'm doing well - I had to give two seminars this week (ACK!) - - talk about anxiety!!! 

2) Practicum - - I love, love, love the work I'm doing at the law clinic.  I'm starting to handle a couple of cases on my own - cases that really aren't "law" cases, and would generally not be handled by our clinic, but because I'm focusing on "social work" - I am enjoying learning, and trying out things, testing my skills, and having some successes.  It's such a neat experience when my day is going along, and all of a sudden, I realize "Hey! All that boring dry theory we learned IS relevant!" 

3) Sailor Boy - I watched a TV show on the Equator Channel tonight called "Warships" that featured the ship that he's posted to -- it was really interesting to see the inside of the ship, and the living quarters, etc.  I called him tonight to let him know I saw this program, and he told me that he has some leave at Christmas time, so he's probably going to be able to come home for a bit.  I'll know more next week I guess.

4) Itty Bitty -- needs to pull up his socks in ENGLISH!  I'm getting very worried that he's not going to have the grades to get into university if he doesn't take some emergency action.  The semester is almost over for him as well, and it's not good.  I have a sneaking suspicion he's going to be doing English AGAIN next semester, since this is a mandatory course.  I'm also worried that I'm going to have to lay down the law and cut out some of his extra-curricular stuff.  I'm dreading that - - I hoped once Football Season was over, he'd turn it around....but...  (ugh, being a mom sucks sometimes!)

We have recently been on a tour of the his first choice university - - Hubby and I really liked it as well, and it's not too far away - - an hour an a half maybe.

5) Hubby -- what can I say about Hubby?  Not much really - - but no news is good news, right?

6) Quilting - what's that?!?!  I haven't sewn in at least two months.  I haven't been doing much of anything except school - long days at the law clinic, staying late for board meetings, etc., working on assignments.  I have gotten slightly addicted to Soduko puzzles recently though - weird, eh?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I haven't gone anywhere!


I've been so busy with practicum and school....NOTHING has been going on except work, work, work!

Midterms have arrived, so after I get a much needed colour on my hair this morning (why did I make a 9 am appointment???) it's time to hit the books and craft some fabulous essays. 

I'm still wildly in love with my placement at the Law Clinic.  Yesterday was such an awesome day!!! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I'm a bad blogger...

Life is just HOPPIN!!!  My brain is on overdrive - - all my creative energies are being absorbed by thinking and strategizing and researching for my clients at the Law Clinic. I am sooooooo busy -- but in a really great way.  The main thing I've learned over the past three weeks? I can be a social work ROCK STAR!!!!  It's probably the most rewarding experience of my entire life.  The three years of study leading up to this placement...well, to be honest, I really doubted that I was absorbing ANYTHING and doubted that I could actually do this work, or even that I really wanted to DO it (if we are gonna be honest here....)!

But all in all, I find I'm excited! Challenged! Happy!  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Thrifty Find & A Wardrobe Refashion

Even though the skies are still black, and rain is falling by the bucket-load, and I don't have a class until 12:30 today, I got out of bed, and did my motherly duty: I drove Itty Bitty to school.

Okay...truth is, I told him if he got the trash out, I'd take him to school....aaaaand when I made this bargain my eyes were still closed and my earplugs were still in. jeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzz!

He was mortified when I pulled over a two blocks from home and yelled at a couple of kids that I figured went to his school to "Get In!".  I must not have looked like a serial killer (in my housecoat and hair all over the place) - - or perhaps they just were very wet, and very cold - - because they didn't hesitate a minute.  Itty Bitty never said a word--complete silence the whole way--while the two in the back seat merrily chirped all the way. 

I've been working away at knitting a hat for Keeping Kids Warm and I wore out a knitting needle.  Ever hear tell of that?  Actually, one of the knobby end things fell off, and I can't find it, so I went to two thrift stores on the weekend looking for another pair in the same size.  I probably could have gotten a pair at the first one, but they seemed to be all numbered in the old fashioned numbering system, while I needed a 4.5mm. I had no idea what the equivalent would be. At the second one, I got lucky.

But I still scored a good find at the first one!  Materials were 1/2 off, and I found this skirt length in orange and black plaid.  I doubt I'd ever wear a skirt in this particular stuff, but I thought it might do well for a Hallowe'en table runner, or maybe placemats.  It only cost $1.

I also managed to find enough of the same buttons in my stash to replace those on this thrifted blouse.  I still haven't shortened the sleeves for my wardrobe refashion because -- can you imagine?!?! -- I don't have the right coloured thread!

Friday, September 24, 2010

mom's complaining...

Once again, Mom is complaining that I haven't posted a blog update.  YIKES!

I don't know where this week has gone.  It's been a blur!  Between my placement at the Law Clinic (which I am in serious love with) and classes, I've also had a couple of late nights at uni doing some extra stuff.

Tuesday night was SUPER interesting.  I had volunteered to help out at at program here at King's called "Liberal Arts 101" - - I had no idea what to expect of the experience, but I certainly wasn't expecting how much I'd personally get out of it.

The program, the way I understand it, is low-income people are invited from the community to attend a series of lectures from various faculties of study (this week was history, next week is modern languages).  They are provided with dinner--which was completely yummy!!! two thumbs up--and can receive child care and bus tickets so there is no cost to them involved.  Then after dinner we went to a lecture room in another building on campus and heard a lecture about propoganda in popular culture during WW2.  It was really interesting!  And I was a little embarrassed when I noticed the invited guests around me writing reems and reems of notes during the lecture while I just sat like a Sunday driver.  Afterwards, we were broken up into groups and had a discussion about the lecture.  My role was to support the discussion - - and it was fascinating!  I had a VERY multi-cultural group - - four different continents and many, many languages were represented.  Some of the folks in my discussion group had emmigrated from places in the world that have been impacted by war, and had lots to share about how they received messagages of propaganda through popular culture (music, children's events).  I'm looking forward to future Tuesday evenings.

Tonight I'm at uni for a social action committee event.  We are screening a documentary called Poor No More which starts in about half an hour.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gearing up for the week ahead

Are you starting to wonder if I'm ever going to blog about quilting again?  Well, maybe.  I am still working on machine quilting the School of Rock quilt.  It's probably 2/3 done.

Mostly, I've been busy with school/practicum stuff.  I really like my placement at the law clinic.  It's located very close to Covent Garden Market, and I finally got a chance to stop in there on Friday.

It was a nice and mild day, so I decided to grab some lunch and sit outside.  Am I ever glad I discovered The Piping Kettle Soup Company!

Affectionately known by many as the Soup Newfie, the healthy and hip alternative to fast food is the Piping Kettle Soup Co.  Owned and operated by Jim Phillips and John Grouchy (he'd be the Newfie).  It opened in the market in June 2007 and since then the business has grown in volume and patrons.  Both Pillips and Grouchy have roots in the hospitality business with Phillips experience being in the kichen and Grouchy's in the front of house, making him the man with the ladle.  Admittedly inspired by the Seinfeld Soup Nazi episode, the gents hummed and hawed about their venture only until they sat potential competition and that was the only motivation they needed.  They serve up 16 fresh soups, stews, breads, a variety of sandwiches, salads, and fresh vegetables all of which make the Piping Kettle a lunchtime adventure.

Okay, I don't know why they chose a copy writer who clearly needed a nap, but you get the gist...  I enjoyed a medium turkey chili, and it was FANTASTIC!  I was tickled to discover they have a 'frequent buyer card', and I have a feeling I'll soon be qualifying for a free 1/2 litre of soup to go!

I'm really excited about my placement. Pressed to find a negative, I'd have to say that one of the lawyers might be under the misapprehension that I don't have ENOUGH to do.  She keeps dropping literature and articles and newsletters off on my desk for me to read.  I cleaned out my totebag this weekend, and I can't lie....I threw them all in the recycle box.  I simply don't have time to read them all. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's been a fantastic week so far!

I can't express how pleased I am with my placement at the law clinic!  It's a great place - lots and lots of interesting work to do - and they are thrilled to have me.  I was immediately won over Monday afternoon when I returned to the office after observing hearings and spending some time with Duty Counsel at the Landlord and Tennant Board:  two of the lawyers had packed my desk with new office supplies -- nothin' says lovin' like your very own stapler!

I've met with a couple of clients already, and came into the office this morning to find a couple of files on my chair.  I see a very steep learning curve ahead of me, but I expect to really enjoy the challenge and complexity of the work.

So I've been knitting.  I mentioned Keeping Kids Warm a couple weeks back, and I decided I'd like to contribute to this cause.  I made the yellow mittens last week.  Last night I whipped that hat up in an evening.  This afternoon I started another pair of mittens.

After an entire summer of construction hell on our street, the paving has begun! Last week the sidewalks were replaced -- it seems the road has been widened, because the sidewalk is now on OUR side of the street light poles, having formerly been on the street side.  Oh well, I'll just be so glad when the heavy equipment and the BLOWING DIRT are gone.  Everything is filthy - we can scarcely see out the windows at times!

I read a blurb recently in the June issue of Chatelaine, about the "unexpected bonus of blogging":

Trying to quit smoking, lose weight or finish a marathon?  Start blogging!  The internet is a great place to declare a health goal, says Susan Biali, a Vancouver-based doctor, author and blogger.  "It creates instant accountability and a personal support group," she says.  Alison Dunn, who chronicled her journey from 5K to 42K on, concurs..."This trend goes further than just helping individuals reach their goals.  It's about collective triumph, too," says Biali. am I doing with my goals? 
  • Well...I'm getting very, very close to my $2K goal for coupon useage this year. 
  • I have been stuck at 25.2 lb loss for over a week now, and hope to push past this plateau over the next few days by increasing my activity -- I think the fact that I'm back in school (which means just about 2 hours of driving each day, sitting in 3 hour lectures, and trying to get ahead on the required readings) is to blame. I need to challenge myself to get moving at least as much as I was.  Frustrating!
  • And I am no where near completing the 9 UFO's I hoped to finish this summer.
Last night I finished reading "Dark Places" by Gillian Flynn. I had read her first novel "Sharp Objects" a couple of weeks ago.  Both are way off my typical type of reading -- I usually go for histories, or relationship-y kinda stuff -- being in the thriller/mystery/dark realm.  Too bad she doesn't have anything else published right now, and I don't see anything on the horizon according to her website.  Anyway - I can recommend both of these - with a slight warning that the the subject matter is likely going to be offensive to some, and the main characters are understandably psychologically "damaged" after surviving traumas.


Friday, September 10, 2010

...really....not much going on here

It's been a weird week.  Really, nothing too exciting going on, but feeling a little paralyzed by all that is to come in the next week.

Monday is my first day at the law clinic.  I'm soooooo excited, and I'm scared silly!  Tuesday, I'm back in class. Thursday and Friday are both filled to capacity, with a dinner for the new 3rd year students on Thursday, and on Friday, an event (which I'm going to somehow slam together today! helping with the third year dinner plans had the Social Action Committee slip to the back burner) for Make Poverty History weekend.

Looking like a rainy weekend ahead. Can the Summer of Nancy be over???

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thrift Report!

I think I did really good! First up: all the clothing I could fit into a bag for $5. (minus one t-shirt that I thought either Hubby or Itty Bitty would like)

Shirts for repurposing - I especially like the purple one!

This cropped jacket is a fantastic colour on me.  It's perfect - no re-fashioning required.

This cotton/spandex top is another one of my favourite colours.  The outline of the flowers and paisley shapes is chocolate brown.  Now, this needs a little refashioning. There's a button missing, so I might just switch out all of the buttons to chocolate brown for some interest.  And I'm wondering about making short sleeves, rather than these boring 3/4 sleeves.  Sleeveless would be cute too, and I've got a pair of flat front chocolate brown slacks that would go good with this top. We'll see what happens after it comes out of the washing machine...cuz it IS dirty!

I really like the ruffle detail on the sides.

And the slacks to match, well they need a little tapering.

A vintage linen table cloth. It's in the washing machine right now, and I hope I have time to press it and put it on my table this afternoon.  I love the greens.  75¢

In the craft department:

hmmm...bad photo, oh well...the patterns are brand new, and for the five of them, a total of 63¢. I thought having patterns for some simple pieces (like the pencil skirt in the top envelope) would help me in my wardrobe refashioning. Other patterns are for nine different bags, and ten different pillows.

$1.75 for the two books -- the knitting pattern book has several simple looking hats, mitts, and scarves, and who doesn't like Mary Engelbreit? $2 for the miniature sewing machines to join my collection, and 50¢ for the ball of knitting worsted.  That will get me started on knitting something for Keeping Kids Warm.

Ready to see what's on the slate for my next round of refashioning?  These all came out of my closet yesterday.

The black skirt is too long, and the snaps are icky, but I really like the faux suede fabric.  The taupe skirt is again, too long, but I like the bandless waist.  It fits really nicely now, just needs to be taken up.  The pale blue wrap skirt is a very nice length, but perhaps a little dated.  I'm going to see if I can make new skirts out of these.

Well, before I get to work here, let me share a couple of blogs that I've recently discovered and find interesting.

My Three Sons - take a look at the tutorials in her sidebar.
Leanne's House take a look at the gorgeous embroidered block of the month quilts in her sidebar

Centsational Girl Written by a bargain lover and incurable DIYer.  Plenty of eye candy here.

First day of school, but...

Today is a day for Lasts:

  • Last cup of coffee, before I head out the door to run some errands
  • I just put in the Last load of laundry
  • my Last baby off to school for his First day of the Last year of high school
  • Last week of my summer holidays
I think the cat needs Prozac.  He's been crying all morning, and he's making me nuts.  Or else he needs and English/Cat dictionary so he can tell me what his problem is.  And it isn't because Itty Bitty's gone - - that kid is NEVER here anyway.

I tried on about 20 pairs of slacks/jeans and another half dozen or skirts yesterday, testing for fit.  Some have now gone into the donation bag, and others have come down here for refashioning, because the fabric is just too good to not at least try to resurrect.

Today is the bag sale at the BFM thrift store.  I better go get my knickers on and see what I can score! I'll post my finds when I get back.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Skirts are Refashioned

Sewing went a little better today - maybe my brain was fresher of something. Who knows?

The pink skirt is now 31.5" long now, with a cute flirty ruffle.  And, by the way, two sizes smaller than the size I wore at the beginning of summer.

The black skirt is now 34" long, and presented more of a challenge. See, it has a lining, and the gauzy overskirt has a crushed texture to it -- I don't anything about fabric, so here's a close up.  (Isn't that weird?  Someone who uses a sewing machine every day saying she doesn't know anything about fabric?)

Now, looking at the photo, I have to say that I SWEAR the lace and the fabric are the same colour. I think the flash of the camera reflected off something synthetic in the lace.

Anyway, I discovered the lining (sort of a synthetic knit fabric, about the weight of your grandma's nightgown) was much shorter than the outer layer, so I didn't shorten that at all, but took out the waistband, and chopped off about 4" of the gauze-y stuff.  Released from the waistband - the gauze-y stuff SPRANG to double it's width, and I thought....oh no....more gathering!  But, I closed one eye, gritted my teeth and just stretched the two fabrics and stomped on the foot pedal, going as fast as I could!  I'm not sure how or why, but it seems to have worked. Oh...and just sayin'...the black skirt is THREE sizes smaller than the size I wore at the beginning of summer...TEE HEE!!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ah...they say that a woman's hair.... her crowning glory...

But what about when that hair
belongs to her SON!?!?!?!

It's not fair. Itty Bitty has hair so thick, it could cover three heads, and it falls in beautiful waves and ringlets.  I combed out all of his curls last night, and applied a leave in conditioner (he refused to let me cut off the dry ends!) and couldn't resist capturing a photo.

The Wardrobe Refashion project:
Gibby?  You're a pretty good quilter, but I'm gonna handle this one on my own, thanks!

I cut 10 inches off the bottom of the skirt, and have hemmed the very bottom of the ruffle, but I'm still struggling with the gathering.  The skirt is now 31" in length.  I'll keep working away at it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Have you heard of Wardrobe Refashion?

Gotta admit, I hadn't either, until I listened to episode 4 of

...and listened to the interview with Wardrobe Refashion founder Nikki Prested

The idea is, that you make a pledge to not buy any new clothing, but to remake, renovate, and recycle old clothing.  The blog is completely inspiring, and though some of the projects had my eyebrows up in the air a bit, some are really cute and innovative!

Which brings me to my personal challenge.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had loaded up on new-to-me office wear at the thrift store.  However, some of the items need an overhaul.  Hmmm...I've got a sewing machine, right?  And a bit of clothing construction knowledge (although grade 10 Home Ec was a looooooong time ago), true? And a creative spirit - so I'll give it a "go".

First up: two skirts that are reeeeeally long.  And I'm tall (like, 5'8") I don't know why they were ever made this long.


The pink print is 38" long -- just touching the floor!  I'm thinking of cutting off a good 8 or 10", dividing the cut-off in half width-wise, and piecing those two lengths together and adding a gathered ruffle to the hem. I only paid $2.50 for the skirt, so if it eventually finds itself wadded up in the trash can...well, at least I tried. I probably won't get to wear it until spring unless we get yet another heatwave.

The black skirt is 36" long, past my ankle bone, but it already has a pretty, lacey hem.  So I think I'll cut the waist band off, turn over the top to make a casing, and run some elastic through it.  This skirt was $5.99, so I've got a little more invested in it.

I cleaned out my closet and dresser drawers today to weed out the things that have seen better days, and make room for my "new" pieces. 

Later this week I hope to put things together in complete outfits (tops, bottoms, jewelery, shoes), make sure everything is pressed neatly, in good repair, and polished up.  My thinking is that this will save me time, and give me some confidence - - after all, "dressing up" is new to me! I only wore scrubs in my former career as a nurse, and life as a university student means as sloppy and comfortable as possible!  (I wrote exams in pajama bottoms last year!!!) It will take me awhile to get a feel for what my personal "style" is, and I don't want to be "over-dressed" when I'm going to be working with people who are marginalized and impoverished - - I'm going for neat, modest, and professional. 

My new interest in fashion has me looking at people and pictures in magazines with a more critical eye.  I never cared about clothes much before - unless it was what Hubby is wearing (OMG - you CAN'T wear THAT!).  I was looking at the Oct issue of Canadian Living the other day, and they were showing a certain top, combined with other pieces, three different ways to create a different look for casual, office, and evening.  I'm sorry, but the office photo was disgusting!  Her skirt came barely past her whoozzit, and no self-respecting stripper would have been caught dead in the stacked heels she was wearing.  YIKES!  That outfit called for a private chat with the boss about her inappropriate choices...maybe even a stern warning.

Then last night, I was at the drug store and I really had to resist the urge to tell another shopper that all the black eyeliner she was wearing did NOTHING to distract from her crossed eyes.  Why would you draw attention to that?

I didn't tell a clerk at a shop that the dress she was wearing was too short for someone so old.  And I didn't pull my car over to tell the young mother pushing the baby in a stroller that since she wasn't breast feeding right at that moment she could probably cover her enormous boobs up with a little more than that teeny tiny tank top.

I'm not turning into a bitch, really....I'm turning into the

Wanna Save Some Money?

After the toilet paper fiasco the other day, I've sorted and organized my coupons, and scanned through the weekly flyers to maximize my savings. 

Remember my resolution to use $1000 in coupons this year? I'm over $1900!!! and still have 3 months of the year to go, and pretty much took the summer off of coupon-ing.
Here's a couple of things I want to share with you.

(For Canadians only) you can get a coupon for a free package of Maple Leaf Bacon by logging on to FaceBook, and going to the Official Republic of Bacon fan page.

(For SW Ontarians) Goodwill is having a Back to School sale next week, and you can get a coupon for 50% off your entire purchase by again, logging on to FaceBook, and going to the Goodwill Industries Ontario Great Lakes page to get the printable coupon.

(For Canadians only) you can get a coupon for a free package of STAYFREE ULTRA THIN Regular with Wings (18 count). I can't use this product myself, but redeemed my coupon this morning to donate to the local shelter. I urge you to do the same, and give to your local shelter or food bank. I can well imagine that being without maxipads (they are expensive! $5.99 reg. price) to be a terrible hardship, and I bet there's many young mothers who have to make the choice between their own needs or bread & milk for their kids.

Along the same vein, I saw a poster at the Superstore this morning about a charitable project called "Keeping Kids Warm" -- I was very impressed by the number of agencies they contribute to, and I think I'll look for some yarn at Goodwill when I shop with my 50% off coupon next week, and see if I can't make some hats and mitts to contribute.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

I always feel that the "real" New Year begins not in the cold, dark depths of winter, but right around now, as we prepare to go back to school.  Now seems the right time to start fresh routines, and make resolutions towards achievement and success. 

Itty Bitty begins his final year of high school on Tuesday.  Whoa!  How did this happen?  My last baby...his last year of school...   I don't return to school until next Monday; my last year of undergrad.  Not exactly true...I'm thinking of going to school this afternoon to get some reserve readings at the library, and actually, next Monday, I'll be at the law office where I'll be doing my 4th year Practicum!!! 

I'm so excited!  I had my interview on Wednesday, and ROCKED it!  The woman who interviewed me had made up her mind immediately that I was going to be a good fit, so she gave me a tour, introduced me to all the lawyers and support staff, showed me where my office would be, etc.  I got official confirmation in an email this morning.  They had been wanting a social worker here for some time, because the clients of this law clinic (funded by Legal Aid) often have issues much bigger, and more pressing than their legal concerns, and need someone to help identify their areas of need, and connect them to other agencies and social services in order to find supports and resources.  This is PERFECT for me - I like to be busy, and think creatively, and be presented with new challenges. I wish I was already there!  I'll be working here three full days a week, for the next eight months. (Oh, and FYI: any posts I make about my practicum experience, will be labelled Law 'n Order)

Word on the Simple Abundance Project...a tragic thing happened yesterday.  We ran out of toilet paper!  I had stocked up on sale priced TP, applied coupons of course, and filled our linen closet to bursting back when there was still snow on the ground!  Throughout this summer, I've avoided "stocking up" on things in the spirit of living a "less-is-more" lifestyle. Imagine my shock and dismay, when confronted with the empty paper tube, and then finding "my cupboard was bare"! As the kids would say: EPIC FAIL!!!!  Luckily, I found 3-ply Royale double roll 12 packs on sale for $4.99 (reg. $8.99) and had $1 off coupons too.  I even shared my extra coupons with the cashier who was obviously envious of my super savings.

Also in the stream of Simple Abundance news, I weighed in today, and I've lost 25.2 lbs.  Sometimes Simple Abundance works great... and sometimes you're outta toilet paper! 

 Thought I'd better share a picture of just how happy I look:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm a bad blogger...

Both Itty Bitty and my mom have scolded me for not updating, so prepare for a big post.

I don't know what it is I've been doing that's made me so busy...I certainly haven't accomplished very much!  I did finish a baby quilt, and presented it at a baby shower I attended on Sunday, but I didn't get a photo.  Can you believe that???

I've been working on quilting the School of Rock quilt:

I'm down 21 pounds. I checked my measurements last week, and the weight seems to be coming off my lower abdomen (my hip measurement was down 5.5") - - couldn't be better!

Yesterday, Value Village had their 50% off everything sale, and I went a little crazy.  I definitely needed some office wear for my practicum placement (which I hope! hope! hope! will be in a law office - I interview tomorrow morning) but I don't want to spend a ton, because I expect to lose more weight.  For around $70, I got two dresses, three skirts, two suits (jacket & skirt) four blouses, slacks, a light sweater, a t-shirt and a nightgown.

The public library has a vendor's booth at the Horton Street Market on Saturday mornings, and I recently picked up 5 magazines for $1. Here's a few things I discovered in those magazines that have been inspiring me:

I have been looking for a watch like one of these for weeks.  I love the idea of a charm bracelet, and I look in every jewellery store I see, but nothing like these.  So far, I've only found silver with STUPID juevenile charms (purses, shoes, etc.).  The websites listed in the magazine included: which is worth a look, it's very inspiring (however, watch is not available).  I guess I'll keep looking.

A couple of recipes that I'd like to try:

The economy being what it is...I noticed lots of money related articles,

Since Itty Bitty will be going off to post-secondary school in one short year, the first sentence caught my eye:

"These days there's an element of sticker shock when you add up the costs of higher learning – a four-year degree for a student living away from home currently costs $77,000." 

The tip I liked in this article was about automated savings, whereby money is automatically put into a savings account each time you use your debit card.  I've been a TD Canada Trust customer for my entire adult life, and had no idea they offered this program.  It's called Simply Save. I think I'll sign up!

The important link here is Smart Cookies. There are lots of very interesting, and not the least bit scary tools and downloads for getting a handle on your money.

Frozen lemons instead of ice cubes!  Yum!  I'll just have to add lemons to the grocery list.  I've been drinking TONS of water (at least 2 litres daily!) to help with the weight loss.  Adding frozen lemons will be a special little treat.

Truth is, I'll probably never make one of these kits - but they are cute!  And you can download the stickers.

Loved this tear out folder from Sico. A very simple to copy idea for collecting and storing ideas, fabric swatches, photos, paint chips, etc.  for decorating.

And lastly, I wanted to share this article from Orderly Lives

Simplify Your Life
A common theme in many books on organization is
the virtue of simplification. “Simplify your life-that's the key to organization”. But what does that mean? We all know that our lives are too hurried, too complex, and too full of clutter-both physical and emotional. But most of us cannot opt out, retreat to a desert isle and leave our cares behind. We want to honor our responsibilities yet feel overwhelmed by the process.

The benefits of simplification can be found by exploring different worlds. In 1995, for example,
North Americans enthusiastically rediscovered the
world of Jane Austen. Why are Austen's characters so
fascinating to us? Globe and Mail columnist Margaret
Wente offers this explanation: “They believe in restraint, decorum, civility, character and large, closeknit families. They marry for the love, but even more for respect. They are cheerful, pragmatic optimists.”

Austen's world portrays life with a sense of order.
We might think it is stifling by our standards but it is
none the less neat, orderly and predictable. Very similar, in fact to the world inhabited by the Amish in Sue Bender's excellent book Plain and Simple.
Bender describes her sojourns with two Amish families and one of the valuable lessons she learns: “To my surprise, keeping my attention steady and confined to a few activities built a whole new discipline. A single-minded focus - repetition, order, an inspired monotony -- wasn't wasteful and didn't limit me: the structure brought a different kind of freedom … I found no shortcuts. Satisfaction came from giving up wishing I was doing something else.”

The notion of simplifying one's life must come from the discipline to do only what really matters and to embrace mindfulness. It is only when we try to live in the moment, as the Amish do, that we may find the inner peace that can transcend itself to all aspects of our lives including our homes and workplaces.
We may never replicate Austen's orderly universe but we can incorporate its virtues into our hurried lives.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

just puttering around...

20 Days until the next semester begins.  GACK!!!!

In the meantime, I've just been puttering around.  Reading a little, making some stabs at that bedroom that needs painting (today I washed the walls, with the help of Itty Bitty), had a meeting last night at school to plan the 3rd Year student orientation event, running errands.

In the quilt realm:

1.Pieced together the 36 Candy Kisses blocks.  It's cute.  I'd like to put a creamy shade of Minkee on the back to make a very pretty baby blanket.

2. Put the border on the Jelly Roll 9-patch quilt I whipped up last week.

3. Pin basted the School of Rock quilt, all ready to quilt on my Janome.

Gotta show you this quilt made from repurposed shirts.  I visited Zany Quilter for the first time today - - you might as well just add this link to you favourites: 'cuz it's a very cool blog!

Cara of Cara Quilts recently reviewed "Alice's Tulips" by Sandra Dallas; I book I enjoyed too.  So, I took a look at some of this author's other titles when I was at the library on Friday, and am now deeply into:

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Candy Kisses

I finished 36 blocks, and have 4 strips left over from the jelly roll (it was a 40 strip jelly roll).  I need to square these up (probably about 7.5" unfinished, I believe).