Thursday, November 26, 2009

US Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving folks.

May your belly be full and your company be pleasant.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Pink Trim Jeans Skirt

The decluttering of the attic continues.

In my latest find I came across a pair of jeans I once loved but which were put away when I hit size 28. They're tagged as a size 20, but the waist measures 17.5" across the back, making them a 35" waist. No before photo, sorry. I forgot. The jeans were that bleached, nearly-white denim from the 90's, with a strip of light pink braided fabric down the sides.

I snipped the legs off, partially picked out the front and back seams, then resewed them with a light pink thread that matches the side accents. I also sewed along the bottom so it will only fray up a little bit, then picked the tag off the back pocket. It was black and red - definitely didn't work with the pink.

Once it was completed I loved everything about it! Then I put it on.

Is size 20 a 35" waist? I wear 14/16 and they usually have a little give in the waist. Regardless, as you can see from the photos, the skirt I so lovingly remade from a well loved pair of jeans that were stored away for years makes me look like a walrus. :( It's a stretch denim & the jeans were clearly made to stretch attractively across the body of someone who has feminine hips, which I, sadly, do not. When they were jeans I wore them with a long shirt over them - the one I made the pink pillow from a few days ago - and clearly never noticed how bad they must have looked on me.

So - my bad luck is your good luck. Someone out there with a 35" waist and a beautiful feminine figure is going to receive this skirt to enjoy. I'll run this giveaway until 8pm Eastern US time, Thanksgiving Day (for those outside the US that's Thursday November 26th, when I'll have one of the guests at my family gathering pick a number from all the entries received.

To enter please comment below with your blog URL. If you don't have a blog of your own show me the URL of a blog you enjoy reading.

Choice of shipping method reserved. I am not a professional seamstress, skirt may or may not fit you, stand up to the durability of your laundry appliances (it has been washed twice on heavy duty with no problem), YMMV, etc. Risk of use of this item is with the winner, I shall not be liable for any damages, real or perceived, as a result of winning my friendly little drawing.

Enjoy folks!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tasty Thursday: Risottoria

If you're in NYC and looking for something vegetarian, gluten-free or both, Risottoria is worth a look. But don't bring a large group without calling! There is limited seating.

At Risottoria you can choose from tasty salads, piping hot risotto and crispy pizzas, both gluten-free and regular. You'll even be brought gluten-free breadsticks to start off your meal.

One caveat - the pizza dough contains gelatin so if you're not an eater of animal products you're out of luck on the pizza and the breadsticks. I found that a huge disappointment when I first visited, having gone there expecting to have myself some gluten-free pizza. I'd tried emailing for information beforehand, but didn't get a response in time. I'd suggest if you're looking for info before visiting that you call or email at least a few days in advance to give them time to respond.

Take out and gluten-free products you can prepare at home are available.

Despite the pizza being out of the running for vegetarians this place is still very much worth a visit.

Open 7 days / Noon - 11pm
270 Bleecker, Between 6th & 7th


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: More Pillows

Another project from the old pillows I pulled out of storage. I loved the shirt, but it was a 3X and no matter how I could picture modifying it to fit me now there was no option that would cut away the stain that was right on the front. Making a pillow cover did the trick. And of course there are the obligatory guinea pig pillows made from the sleeves and stuffed with scraps from other projects.

These took all of twenty minutes to put together. And for all my 'get rid of it now if you can't use it' I'm kind of glad I found this stashed in the attic. The colors are pretty and it makes me smile to look at the shirt. Finding a good use for it will let me smile at it some more.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween Costume Accessories From Too Big Linen Outfit

I love dressing like a Pirate Wench whenever the opportunity arises. I've been trying to stick to period when I make new pieces and had been wanting to replace the stretch velvet accessories I had with some linen ones. While going through the attic I found an old Lord & Taylor linen outfit in size 26. I thought I might refashion it into a smaller size of the same outfit, but then the elastic let go when I picked it up and I decided to just rip into it and scavenge the fabric. Here it is before:

From that nice amount of fabric I made a head wrap, a belt that wraps around me three times generously with leftover still hanging to my knees, a pouch from the linen side of the pockets and the jacket drawstring, some long strips to secure my fake weapons and scope to my belt with, and a nice, long strip to wrap around my antiqued 'rum' bottle. Here they are folded up on my ironing board:

And here they are in action:

I had a great time wearing this, especially at work!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Zen of Floorwashing

Did you read that title twice? Not something you expect to see, is it? But it's true, and I'm as surprised as you are about it.

I enjoy washing my floors.

There, I said it. I enjoy washing my floors. I find it so peaceful in fact, that I look forward to it and feel like I'm missing something if I don't get a chance to do it on my days off.

I was never a big fan of floorwashing but having pets, it is something very necessary. This was a task that often fell to my spouse who did it, adequately, but not always the way I would have. And you know how that goes.

I think that the key to this turnaround for me has been finding the right tools. After many years of trying different products, mops & buckets I've finally found the right combination. Here's mine:

Mrs. Meyers All Purpose Cleaner works great, but best of all leaves the house smelling so nice no matter what scent I choose.

The Libman wonder mop is really, really easy on my back and does a good job cleaning most spills and kitty 'accidents'. Yes, I know they're not accidents, that's why I put it that way. ;) The mop head is sponge strips not strings. It slides across the floor like a dream, gets good coverage, does not leave behind puddles and dries out completely in just a short time after use.

The last ingredient in this happy recipe is what I think is a Rubbermaid brand bucket. It has a wringer insert that works perfectly with the Libman so I don't have to bend to use the self-wringer on the mop pole. Can you ask for more than that?

What tools do you have that make once-dreaded chores easier?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Pillows

I had some stuffing I cut out of a couple pillows that had lost their shape. Here it is with some fabric remnants from my stash:

Put them together, and well, here's the obvious:

Some cute little kid sized pillows that are now headed for my charity.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

As the Clutter Leaves, More Projects Get Worked On.

I had this fabric laminated more than a year ago. My plan for it was to line the shelves of my large hutch, sew appliance covers and cut a tablecloth from it. The nonlaminated fabric was to become napkins, window valances and a room divider for the laundry area. I got some gorgeous silk for sheers for the windows. It has sat there mocking me for some time now. Today when I went to change the tablecloth I found myself walking into the sewing room to lay my hands on this fabric. Happily, I have a brand new tablecloth and one long shelf lined. Hubby even asked where I got the nice new tablecloth. I'm back to work tomorrow, so no more progress this week, but I do plan to get this project completed over my next few days off. The room really needs the change, plus the cats are too interested in the long curtains. It's time to make some cute little short ones.

How gorgeous does that farm food look on my new tablecloth?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Easiest Refashion Ever

Can I even call this a refashion? I needed a shrug to wear with the dress but didn't have anything that suited it. The 'shrug' you see here was originally a tightly fitting wrap top. I tried it over the dress and while it didn't look bad, it took away from the nice structure of the dress itself. I untied it and caught a glimpse in the mirror when I went to take it off. Loose like that the bottom had a nice flare that flattered my figure and let the fit of the dress show.

At first I thought I'd just leave the four strings dangling, and I might have if not for the fact that I needed this outfit for work. It would just look too sloppy. I tried a couple more tops but kept going back to the wrap. Finally I realized I hadn't worn it as intended in the entire time since I got it as a hand me down from my kid, so why was I hesitating to snip off those extra strings? So I did. Now instead of an unused wrap blouse I have a great little black shrug.

I got SO many compliments on this outfit and can't wait to wear it again! But do you think I'm cheating by calling this a refashion?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Good Financial Decisions

I'm very big on living within, or hopefully below, one's means. My mind can't grasp the concept of buying a huge McMansion, fancy car or material goods to 'impress' others. My joy comes from the simple things in life - a gorgeous organic yellow beet from our CSA share, the kids sharing a story about a pleasant happening in their day, the feel of nice wool socks on a cold morning. I always strive to make the best possible financial decisions. In order to be able to sleep at night I have to know we are able to pay our bills.

We're at a point now where the kids are taking care of their own expenses. We're both working. We have a comfortable home, functional vehicles, good medical coverage. And yes, I confess, I am a Disney junkie.

While I will always be a New Yorker through and through, I would love to own a little place near WDW to escape to now and then. We have the Vacation Club, but what I'd really like is to have a little place of my own, as Carlin said, 'for my stuff'. I'd love to travel without a suitcase, stay in the same place every time...and maybe even catch the fireworks from my balcony while working on a sewing project or touching up some trim with a little can of paint.

Real Estate is, without a doubt, bottoming out in that area. I looked at some places a couple of weeks ago. We thought for sure with prices so low it was time to do it. We checked on financing, discussed how much to put down, even fell in love with a sweet little condo with lots to do in walking distance. And then my spouse brought up a question that I hadn't previously considered.

Would we prefer to have this little getaway or pay off our kids' college loans?

We chose the latter.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Beautiful Organic CSA Pumpkin

Picked from the patch by me. Looks great on our porch, wouldn't you say? It's been there for weeks and still looks beautiful. I'm surprised the squirrels haven't begun to peck away at it yet, they usually get started pretty quickly.

My only disappointment? I didn't meet the Great Pumpkin there. ;) Or any Peanuts characters for that matter.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Bless Someone Else

I've begun working on shredding years worth of files that I have been needlessly saving mostly because I couldn't face going through it all. I've gone at it here and there but I never tackle it. Generally, I'd say it is because I seem to always have to stop because the house gets out of control if I don't keep tending to it.

Well, I'm about at the end of my rope with the house and have made that very well known. As a result it seems that my spouse (the official dishwasher, lawn-mower and mechanical handyperson) is making an effort to wipe off a counter after making a sandwich and that sort of thing that seems small but takes tons of time out of the day when you have to do it over and over again. We won't even mention the built up resentment over it.

Adding to the ability to keep the house a little more under control is that the kids have their own spaces now. I say spaces and not places because only my son has his own place. My daughter has taken over the studio apartment over hubby's workshop which previously served as their teenage hangout and childhood pool cabana. So she's not exactly left home but she's in her own space. This is wonderful for two reasons - spouse can't abdicate responsibility for cleaning up something by blaming it on someone else but best of all - when I come across something that belongs to one of the kids it goes in a bag or box that gets handed to them. If it isn't important enough to occupy their space then why should I have to store it? You wouldn't believe the amount of stuff my kid has told me to donate. It has been great to give so many things (often brand new) to OA to give to folks to enjoy.

With these two great improvements under my belt I have decided to begin to tackle the next beast - our attic. I used to be very good at keeping up with it but when I got sick I couldn't go up there any more. That was over ten years ago. I've made short bursts of progress up there in the last couple of years but my daughter just bags things she can't deal with up and tosses them there so any progress disappears when the clothing season changes.

I've decided to come at this by taking one box, bag or plastic tote down to look through each week. Today, the first day, I actually brought down a kitchen trash bag, a plastic tote and a few items I pulled out of another tote. Lots of little gifty things for the Angels to put up for auction, a few toys still in their boxes, some moldy baby outfits bought for a gift and never given (makes me wonder how badly the few keepsakes I have up there of the kids' fared *sniffle*)...and a bin of 3X clothing.

Now I'm not much for saving that kind of thing. As I lost weight my clothing was given away to family members who it would fit but I couldn't let go of the last of this. My spouse promised me that if I ever needed it again he'd just buy me something new but I'd already spent quite a few dollars on these very nice dress clothes. At the time I wasn't very keen on dressing up so each item was worn very few times and very carefully.

What a blessing these items will be for a person who needs these for job interviews or office work! They're boxed up and ready to be dropped off for shipping to Online-Angels. No refashioning of these - I think they'll do more good as they are.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Crafting Between Household Chores

Having been away for five days last week my house is an even bigger disaster than usual, since I was the only one away for the bulk of that time. That means I'm spending my days off cleaning up after them and will have to put off for another week the tweaking I need to do to my Halloween costume and the hacking up of some sweaters that need to become shrugs to fill a gap in my wardrobe.

So here are three quick projects, knocked out in a few minutes each during breaks I needed to take in order to keep my sanity.

First up, a little bag for my clothespins. I, unfortunately, don't use an outdoor clothesline due to allergies but I do use clothespins with my drying rack and to close things like chip bags. So we don't have a large collection and with the bag not being stored outside pretty could take precedence to durable. You may recognize this remnant from the jeans to skirt refashion a little while back. This used up the last of the fabric, with the exception of a few small scraps that go into the box I send off to OA's quilter every so often.

This little bag is now hanging on the rod over my washer and is quite an improvement over the plastic bag you see next to it.

Next up a bouncy skirt from leftover giftwrap tulle and a bit of stash elastic. This will go into the box for my Christmas child. I look forward to giving a box of gifts to a child through OA each Christmas. I'm thinking I'm going to include some dress-up items this year and thought this would be a fun start.

Last up, a guinea pig pillow from a recently unearthed dishtowel that belonged to my mother-in-law. It is stuffed with the rest of the towel and scraps from my scrap bag.

Each little project was fun to make and a nice diversion from how cranky I am over lack of housekeeping cooperation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Curtain to Grocery Bags

More from the ultra-soft 80's curtains Mom gave me. I used the bulk of them for pillowcases, put some parts not large enough for me to work with but large enough to be quilted with in the box where I collect fabric to send to the wonderful Karen who makes tons of quilts for OA and have made some grocery totes from the leftovers large enough to work for that purpose. One for Mom, one for me. Extras will be split between OA and Christmas giving.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Wow, they're coming down like a hailstorm here. Last year there was talk about the lack of acorns, this year seems to be making up for lost time.

Anyone have suggestions on crafty uses for these?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tasty Thursday: My Opinion of Spectrum Naturals Spread

I bought this for the first time today. I'm sorry to say I'm not impressed with the flavor. It has an artificial taste to me. It also has a texture that seems more gelatinous than margarine should be, in my opinion. I won't get the chance to cook with it as I'm out of town and just have a fridge & microwave here. Have you cooked with it? What did you think?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday: Air Travel & Medications

Did you know that medications in their original pharmacy containers are exempt from the TSA's 3-1-1 regulations? Check for more information.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tasty Thursday: Another Variation on Chickpea Salad

I've decided not to call this 'Mock Tuna Salad' any more. First, because there's nothing mocking about it, the stuff tastes great. And second because why promote the eating of fish in any way, even if just using the name of a fish dish to describe a delicious, vegan dish.

This variation has the usual can of TJ's chick peas and Vegenaise. The greens are CSA salad mix. I'm trying to go easy on the salt lately because I'm so darned addicted to it so I used granulated onion instead. And the new ingredient?

Flor de Izote in brine. Yum. Adds a nice tang and just a bit of crunch. I saw a big jar of it in the International section of our little local market and thought it looked interesting. At $5.49 the jar is a bit pricey but I thought it was large enough to last quite a few meals so I gave it a try. I'm glad I did!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: My First Reverse Applique

I'm very excited about this adventure! So excited that as you can see there are two posts today and I took quite a few photos of this project. I wasn't able to decide which to use so you've got a Photobucket slideshow.

The white, short sleeve shirt was such a favorite of mine that around here it is known by name - Midvale School for the Gifted. It was saved in a drawer for (mumble, mumble) six years (mumble, mumble) because I loved it so much I knew I could eventually find a way to wear it again. Midvale had two major problems - it was a 2X, and praise God I am no longer a 2X, in addition to it having quite a few stains on it. The neckband was discolored from age. Funny enough, in the process of remaking these shirts I found that the back of the print is stained too but luckily it does not show through to the front. You can see that stain in the slideshow.

The second shirt is a Large and while I'm a large in Ladies' garments, I am apparently not a Large in Men's long sleeve t-shirts. So it is a little wide around the middle and the shoulders are too big. Being a plain, not well fitted shirt, it wasn't getting much wear. I wanted to resize the shoulders, but the sleeves, despite how large the shirt is, come just to my wrists. Because I am often very cold in the winter I need the length of the sleeves so until I have the patience to lengthen them while taking in the shirt overall, I'm going to leave it as it is. Due to said coldness I generally dress in quite a few layers so the extra space is good for the wintertime layering. When it starts to annoy me I'll adjust it some more.

There were two graphics on the shirt, the large main one on the chest, and a smaller one near the hem, front left. I like the look of shirts with a little graphic at top center back so I placed the smaller graphic there on the project shirt. The large graphic went back to the same place on the new shirt as it was on the original.

The color of the shirt to be appliqued said Frankenstein to me so I wanted to make a Frankensteiny stitch for the project. Good thing - because at first I forgot to change to a ball point needle. It was definitely looking Frankenstein-like by the time I figured it out. But I did eventually catch my error. Since I was going for Frankie anyway, I didn't pick too much of it out. The stitch is my machine's smallest straight stitch, layered next with the smallest zig zag and topped with the largest zig zag. On the front it is flawless. The back has remnants of my experimentation. If it begins to annoy me I'll pick more of the non-ball point needle stitch out.

In the true spirit of Waste Not Want Not, I made pillows for our guinea pigs out of the short sleeves from the white shirt and the panel I cut out from the green one in order to expose the applique. They're stuffed with the other leftover bits of the white shirt.

I love how it turned out and know I will wear it quite a bit now that chilly season has set in.

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Bathmat Edition

As you can see from this photo, our bathmat had quite a large area that had turned to nothing more than strings. The towel next to it was fine, with the exception that the sides were unraveling. I can't remember where I saw the idea of a bathmat woven from towels but I knew these two items were destined to become one.

If anyone reading knows where I found my inspiration please comment, I want to credit the person whose idea it was originally.

Once I had all the strips cut I stitched them in place across one end horizontally and one vertically then wove them into each other, then began anchoring each strip down between the weaves. The first couple of rows I sewed without pinning. I started to get frustrated at the weave slipping out when I worked it in and out of my machine so I took to pinning it.

Then I got tired of pinning and repinning every time something shifted, so I went back to no pins. I felt like it was a lot of work for something so simple, but what it came down to was it was quite a task for my little quarter century old Kenmore. I love my machine dearly, it has been quite the workhorse but two or three thicknesses of fluffy towel and a thick bath mat are just too much to ask of it. I really need to learn more about heavy duty machines because I should eventually add one to my lineup.

As you can see from the photo, it is not quite perfect but it sure is nice. Thick, soft and will keep the tootsies warm this winter.

Two favorite things about this project:

How soft and pretty this turned out.

Hearing the following conversation going on in the living room:

(Phone Rings)

Kid: Hi Dad


Kid: She's in the office. (My sewing room is also the home office & library.)


Kid: Sewing a new bath rug out of the old bath rug and a towel.

Now, you probably have to love crafting as much as I do to be so pleased by this, or at least know how matter of factly she made the last statement as though her father should know if I was in there SOMETHING was being remade into something else.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday: Passport Cards

Traveling to an international destination by air? Make sure to have your Passport book. Passport cards are only acceptable for travel by car or ship, and then only to limited destinations. Be smart Be prepared. Always take along your Passport when traveling. You don't want to get to the airport and find you haven't got the proper identification in order to travel to your destination.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tasty Thursday: Spaghetti Squash

Delicious for any time of the day, this is CSA share spaghetti squash, topped with TJ's edamame hummus and a couple of shakes of San-J Peanut Sauce. Yum.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Torn Loom Knitted Hat

I made this hat from some yarn I despise working with because my Mom asked me to. It was a battle to loom and Mom only got a few wears out of it before my lack of coordination with the yarn while constructing it caught up with her, snapping a stitch which obviously caused a big tear in the hat. I love Mom but there's no way I can battle this yarn sufficiently to make it a hat again.
As you can see I've frogged the hat, wound the bits into balls and have some left over that will go in my 'stuffing bag' which itself is a post for another day.

I plan to use the recycled yarn for the brim of a new hat for Mom, the bulk of which will be made with much friendlier to work with wool, as opposed to this synthetic chenille.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday: Lap Infants

Children under the age of two years may travel by air on an adult's lap. Be prepared to prove the child's age with a birth certificate or passport as if in the airline's opinion the child appears to be over the age of two you will be required to purchase a seat for the child at the airport. FAA regulations require everyone two and older to occupy their own seat. That means that if your child turns two while you're traveling they must have their own seat for the portion of the trip that occurs after their birthday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Sometimes I just can't believe how lucky I am. Thank you, God, for all the blessings, tiny and huge, You continue to provide every day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Paper napkins

Grabbed a quick meal out somewhere? What do you do with the wad of napkins the eatery stuffed into your takeout sack?

Although I eschew their use, I do occasionally end up with some paper napkins. Rather than tossing them when I'm done with the meal-on-the-go I store them in my car for quick clean ups, as tissue substitutes, or to clean sunglasses on the run.

How about you? What uses should I remember for next time I come into a supply?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday: Hyatt Place Orlando Airport Northwest

This is a nice, moderately-priced property. While the focus is business, it is also family-friendly. The rooms were clean, comfortable and well-equipped. The lobby area is comfortable and airy.

There is the standard free continental breakfast, which you can supplement by ordering quick service items such as eggs, bacon and breakfast potatoes for an additional, but very reasonable fee. Ordering is done by kiosk, located in the breakfast area. There are food options for other times of the day as well.

The property is well lit, has adequate parking and offers a shuttle which was staffed with pleasant folks knowledgeable about the area.

The rooms are set out as a mini-suite, bed and sitting area separated by a floor to ceiling divider which runs about a third of the length of the room. The sitting area is open to the desk/kitchenette area, all of which are well-proportioned and spacious. The vanity, off the sleeping area, has plenty of counter space and is separated from the toilet and tub/shower area by a door.

When looking for a nice place to stay near MCO I will definitely visit here again.

Photo: The living room area of our accommodation.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Made It to Wardrobe Refashion!

On my 3rd try I finally made the cut! You can see my first post here!

The Pledge

I, Crunchysews, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of "new" manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 2 months. I pledge that i shall refashion, renovate, recycle preloved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovoted, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that thy thriftiness brings! Signed, Crunchysews.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Four

One of the fun advantages to repurposing sewn goods is the shortcuts you can glean by reusing features of the original item. A few years ago my mom gave me some decorator curtains she was no longer using in her house. I've used bits and pieces for different projects, but still had four large panels, plus tiebacks and a couple of valances.

They were very soft lined curtains. The fabric seemed just right for the pillowcases I've been working on and the bonus was that I reused the original deep hem for the pillowcase hem, saving me several steps in the construction.

I plan to use the liner - original hem intact - to make myself a muslin of a blouse. If the muslin works I'll likely dye it and wear that as well as the projects it is a test for. Now to figure out what to do with the gorgeous pin-tucked tiebacks. Any ideas?

Photo 1: Curtain hem now pillowcase hem.
Photo 2: Tied up with a ribbon scrap.
Photo 3: Boxed and ready for donating along with others made from stash fabric.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Travel Tip Tuesday

Many folks don't know that when you book airline tickets through a travel agency the agency does not share your contact information with the air carrier. This includes the online agencies. Why is this a negative, you ask?

Let's say you've booked far in advance. Airline schedules change periodically. In this example you've purchased a ticket on the 10pm flight. For whatever reason - airport curfew changes for instance - that flight now departs at 8pm, but without your contact information the airline can't notify you. The only number the carrier has is of your agent, who is notified, but more often than not, does not pass that information on to you. While one should always confirm their flight details the day before, many folks don't. That results in the passenger showing up at the airport and finding out they've missed their flight. And if it is the last flight of the night....well, you get the picture.

Please, if you've purchased air transportation through a travel agent, call the carrier and have them add your phone number to the record.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pillowcases for Charity

The charity I hold dear to my heart, Online Angels, recently received a request for pillowcases for ill children. Upon hearing this, one of the Angels mentioned that they might be nice for putting in the Christmas stockings we make up for Seniors as well. So holiday fabrics, kiddie fabrics, even plain fabrics are welcome. Plain pillowcases will be enhanced with machine embroidery upon receipt by the good folks who run OA.

I particularly love the orange one. The bear print is in a little bag made from leftover fabric. These are so easy to make, I hope to find lots of stash fabric big enough to make more of these.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday: Three

I was in need of a brown shrug to wear to work. Not wanting to purchase something new if I didn't have to I went to Salvation Army in search of a nice brown wool sweater. I could chop it up into a shrug and have the remainder left for another project.

Sadly, the wool sweater collection was thin and I didn't find what I needed. But I did find a few nice pieces that will enhance the business casual wardrobe I need to grow a bit more for my work. A gorgeous brown sweater of unknown fiber originally from H&M. The content tag was missing and it did not feel like 100% wool to me so I didn't dare cut it up and risk ruining it. But it looks nice on me and will definitely be good for wearing to work.

A very new looking long sleeve Hanna Andersson cotton top in brown with blue trim around the neck. Nice and warm for the fall. Hanna stuff is so well constructed and durable.

A white and gold Liz Claiborne blouse that converts to 3/4 sleeves would have made an acceptable jacket to go over this sleeveless dress for work but I really want a shrug. I bought the blouse anyway, it was also like new and will go with my brown skirt.

The best find was a Calvin Klein blazer that fit me perfectly. The color is a deep maroon with brownish tints to it. This was in need of cleaning but structurally perfect. I debated a little because it would need an initial dry cleaning and I am normally against the process, but I ended up taking it. The price was right, I really need a blazer, it fit well and even with the cost of the cleaning it will still be a steal. Now let's hope for a few nice days in a row so I can hang it outside to air out once I pick it up from the cleaner.

Thank you to the folks who donated these instead of adding them to the trash heap!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad

My Dad is one of those people who has everything. Because I understand that he's not being facetious when he answers 'Just your company,' to the question 'What would you like for (insert occasion here)?' I try to respect how he feels. Especially since I understand that too many possessions just weighs us down rather than enhancing our lives.

Before you ask, why not get him a gift card, let me explain that he doesn't really enjoy using them. So something that is used up is the best gift, IMO. This brings me to the gift I planned for his birthday - delicious organic food from our CSA. Being Italian, he appreciates good vegetables, so I selected some nice squash, onions, peppers, eggplant and one fruit, a melon, that I hoped would all keep from when I picked them up on Saturday until we saw him the next day. Turns out we didn't see him Sunday...and I had to work early Monday. Which meant I either had to see him on my way home empty handed and start from scratch for a gift, or I had to do something to keep this food fresh for the day while I was at work. Leaving it in the car was obviously not an option.

What I came up with is small sherpa bags I custom made for each item to keep them padded in the communal fridge at work, and a grocery sack to put them all in. The sack is made from fabric left over from a home decorating project Mom did, so I hope they'll get a kick out of that when I bring it by.

My son is a chef and he'll be there when I go by so it should be a gift Dad enjoys and that won't be sitting around gathering dust for years to come.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Waste Not Want Not Wednesday Two: Handle Cover

I recently cut up a pair of my hubby's retired Carhartts. This particular pair was denim, a rarity for him. Loving to repurpose jeans as much as I do, I thought I might make myself a skirt from the parts that weren't too stained. That notion was dashed, however, when I discovered these were from before he gained a few and I lost a few putting us both in the same waist measurement range. I may still make a half-apron out of the top, I'm not sure. In the meantime I created this little beauty.

What is it, you ask? I've prepared some slides with which to better illustrate. (Ten sci-fi nerd points to any person who identifies the reference.)

Once my hubby's tool pocket, this is now a handle cover for my beloved cast-iron cookware.

Unfortunately for me the serger I have, while quite the little workhorse, is not manufactured for heavy-duty use. This meant that while I could serge four layers of denim together, I could not serge over the grommet or top seam. While I would have liked to make the width a bit slimmer, the serger was going to have none of it. Knowing that trying to coax the desired seam out of it would only result in a costly repair bill at the Viking shop I instead serged together the strip you see in the photo. Slip it right inside the tool pocket and slip the pocket over the handle. It is plenty insulated for me.

Another feature I added was to leave a little spare fabric at the top so that it folds down in front of my fingers. No worries about reaching for the pot a little too far up the handle and burning my finger against the bowl of the pan.

Plus it is nice to have a reminder of hubby there while I'm cooking.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Value vs. Price

While shredding old files today I found the receipt for my Birkenstock sandals from 2004. They cost $110.

Yes, that sounds like a lot to some, and quite frankly to me too! Other than work shoes, I was not in the habit of purchasing footwear with such a price tag when I didn't deem the item a necessity.

By virtue of being diabetic, my podiatrist has convinced me that if I want to keep my feet I have to wear good shoes no matter if they're vegan or not. My son had a pair of Birks he swore by. I needed new sandals. I went to The Walking Company and looked.

Generally accustomed to buying $9.99 sandals off a rack at Payless or Target, I was at the point where I no longer could risk shoes rubbing uncomfortably on my feet so I gave in and tried on many pairs of pricier than I'd like summer footwear. I settled on the Birks, took them to the register and cringed as I signed the slip.

I took them home and have worn the heck out of them for six years now. Other than having to punch some extra holes in the straps when my feet got a little thinner after some weight loss, the shoes require little care and show little wear. Mind you I wear them in the rain, to the CSA farm, to theme parks, you name it. They're definitely not lightly used by any definition of the term.

So in my sixth spring/summer/fall of their use I feel very good about their value. They're showing no sign of needing replacement and I feel fairly confident in having them for at least another six years to come, if not more. If my foot changes shape again and they're no longer suitable to me they'll be inherited by my spouse who tends to eventually swipe all my gender-neutral footwear anyway.

Initial Cost $110 (Yes, I still cringe when I look at that.)

Value per year with six years of use - 18.34

Value per year for twelve years of use - 9.17

So at this point I'm ahead of the $20-$30ish trendy sandal of the year at mid-price retailers. In another six years I'll have broken past the $9.99 Payless cheapie per year price and if they last even longer (which I suspect they will as one can have them re-corked if needed) I won't have had to add who knows how many pairs of sandals and the energy and materials used to produce them to the world's eventual trash stream. Yes, the re-corking comes with a fee, but better to maintain and repair what I have than to replace if not necessary, right?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Trader Joe's Organic Corn Chip Dippers

Another tasty vegan/GF choice from TJ's. They go great with sliced mushrooms and edamame hummus.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Gets a big star of approval from us. They did spread out quite a bit on the sheet, but I'll take a thin, chewy, good tasting cookie over a thick crumbly one any day. As much as I hate that this mix comes from a conglomerate, upon my first sampling I do love it!

As always, we make them differently than the directions since we need a vegan version. Have you made them according to directions? What did you think?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yummy Scarf

Yes, I know it is still summer - but not for long. Last year we took a wonderful trip to Ireland. Not being one for bringing back useless tchochkes, my mementoes of the trip were two - a hooded sweatshirt purchased for use on the trip (this was planned ahead of time to save packing space) and a hank of red wool yarn I found on clearance at Blarney Woolen Mills. It cost 5 Euro at a time when the Euro was valued at $1.60, making the cost of this scarf $8.00.

I've had the yarn around, admiring and loving it for quite some time until it told me a few days ago it was ready to be a scarf...and once the funky scarf felts into something different I'll use the fabric in a DIY clothing project.

I really love it and look forward to using it in whatever form for a long time to come. It holds a wonderful memory.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not Wednesday One

I've got an alliterated theme day!

Years ago when I worked in a retail store warehouse I needed jeans to wear. Being an 80's throwback used to wearing leggings I purchased some skin-tight, stretchy, pull-on jeans which I wore with longer shirts. Well, needless to say, I haven't worn these in years, both because I don't own many long shirts anymore and because I generally wear skirts, even in the snowy days of winter. (You just wear longer skirts with sweater tights under them then.)

I've got at least five pairs of these just waiting for something to be done with them. Today I finally got around to the first pair. I was lazy, since this was supposed to be an experimental project and didn't rethread the serger with black thread, but other than that I will deem this a successful project. It also marks my first use of iron-on hem tape in place of pins. I think I will be using that approach for a while as I have a bunch of it I got with Ikea curtains and never used.

The insert fabric was a piece I had on hand from one of the many remnant bin raidings I have been on over the years. So many little bits of fun fabric come from there!

It was very easy to do, just cut off the legs, sew in the fabric, try on, mark the hem, serge it to the length I wanted, turn under, press in place and sew. My one frustration was that the fabric, as mentioned, is stretchy...ugh...not fun to sew with a regular machine but I did manage.

I'm planning some more of these!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

This was a child's hat I made a couple years back. I hated the way it turned out and couldn't send something I hated to my charity, now could I? I kept trying to talk myself into believing it wasn't that bad, but I knew it was so it just sat here until yesterday when I snipped the top open and began to unravel the yarn as you can see in this first photo.

It took just a little while to make these three hats from the reclaimed yarn. I found myself with some extra left over so I used it for a colorful brim on a solid pink hat. I'm excited about these and very glad to have taken something that was sitting here uselessly and put it to work for Online Angels and the folks in need that OA sends things to.

Have you ever used reclaimed yarn? What did you do with it?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Loom Knit Selvage Bag

If you've read some of my posts you already know I hate to waste anything that possibly has another use left in it. With that in mind, I've been collecting selvages. I serge the ends together and wrap the 'yarn' into a ball. With no give at all it isn't all that easy to loom knit with it, but I was determined to try and carry out the vision I had of this.

Using the long purple Knifty Knitter loom I made this cute, artsy bag. I'm still up in the air on the handle, though. I'm seeing some sort of chain wound with the already present selvage. What do you think? Chain/selvage or just selvage?

Next Week: Pillowcases for Charity

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Upside Down Tomato Plants Anyone?

Those little green plastic bags you see advertised in magazines and on TV had caught my spouse's eye. There was no way I was forking over ten bucks for another piece of plastic junk that was going to end up in a landfill at the end of the season...or maybe two if it was durable enough to last through the first use.

I studied a package of these 'marvels' at the store, then did a little reading up to see if my idea had merit. Sure enough it seemed to. In fact there were folks who had successfully grown tomato plants before in what I was thinking - jeans legs.

With my supplies cut and at hand, I took to assembling them with the help of my sewing machine. I sewed the long strips all through the inside of the bag, for extra support. I certainly could have finished the edges better but remember, this is a tester so I'm not putting too much work into it. Next year's model - likely for Father's Day gifting - will be neat and pretty.

Once I had the bottom sewn up into an opening big enough to put my already sprouted plant roots through (Mom & Dad had given me some of those 'tomato tree' plants they got from another one of those ads) but small enough to keep the soil inside, I was off to the porch to do my planting.

And here is the first one. What do you think? We're having fun watching the plant turn up toward the sun. We're also hoping to bring these in when the first freeze is predicted in order to extend the growing season.

Wish us luck!

Tomorrow at CrunchySews: Loom Knit Selvage Bag.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Beautiful CSA share food.

This was our first week's bounty. It is so beautiful I've been using it as the background on my laptop and just now felt inspired to share it...with you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Did You Know That Beet Leaves are Delicious?

No? Never tasted them you say? Well then I'm happy to report they are. Although you may have to get them from your CSA share or a Farmer's Market in order to get the crispy, earthy, delicious ones I have been fortunate enough to enjoy for two farm seasons now. They go great on sandwiches and in salads. The salad you see above was my lunch today. To give my own twist on what Mythbusters always say - DO try this at home.

Very Delicious Vegan Lunch Salad, Courtesy of our Very Adored CSA Share

1 can TJs organic Garbanzo Beans
the leaves and stems of 2 farm Beets, chopped
1 farm Salad Turnip, cut into small pieces
chopped fruit of your choosing (today all I had was an apple, so in it went)
a small sprinkle of Sea Salt
1 clove fresh garlic, chopped

Enjoy the heck out of it!

FYI, I don't believe I'd ever had fresh garlic until last year when we were finally lucky enough to make it from CSA waiting lists to CSA Shareholder. Let me say that the extra effort it takes to peel garlic whose outsides haven't been dried into little bits of paper is well worth the taste. Yum.

Chop, mix, enjoy the heck out of it!