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 psychologytoday.com blogger.  "It creates instant accountability and a personal support group," she says.  Alison Dunn, who chronicled her journey from 5K to 42K on howiranamarathon.blogspot.com, concurs..."This trend goes further than just helping individuals reach their goals.  It's about collective triumph, too," says Biali.

So...how 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....

...is 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")...so 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: