Showing posts from 2014

Christmas Traditions

Kenn and I had a really good conversation last night about christmas. We talked about what it means culturally, about what it means to each of us as individuals, and what we're going to do about it in our little family.
Culturally, christmas is all-encompassing.  There is no escaping it when you live in the US or in Australia for that matter. Whether you are a Christian or not, Christmas is here to stay.  But the mass consumerism of it all is optional.

Individually, Kenn doesn't have any long-established family traditions that he's looking to pass on, which opens the door to creating traditions which really fit our family.  And the same is true for me and my family.  When the family implodes, there isn't much left.

So many traditions are just handed down through family and the schools and we put them on regardless of the fit.  Well, for us, we get to choose.  Starting this year, we are consciously choosing our family traditions to make this day into a day we enjoy and…

A Day Out... aka Thursday is for Running Errands

And errands we did run....
After loading up the car with shopping bags, full laundry baskets, a bin full of plastics for recycling, and writing out my shopping list, we hit the road.

Of course, we stopped at the bank first to withdraw cash for shopping and a roll of quarters for the laundry. And then we were off to the laundromat.

We unloaded the laundry baskets from the car, carried them in, and started up 3 washers with our dirty clothes plus an appropriate amount of soap. On to the library.

While Kenn was getting Isabelle out of the car (I have no idea why it takes her so long, and it makes me crazy!), I went on in and started looking for books for myself.  I didn't have anything in particular in mind, but had been thinking about learning more about Buddhism.  So I found a couple books on Buddhism, and as I was walking toward the front desk, thought it might be fun to do some reading about Monet and showing his works to Isabelle.

Found a couple of books on Monet - one a bit o…

The Morning Battle...... or not

I am a morning person... no doubt about it.  I naturally wake up about 5:30, and I love getting right to work and checking tasks off my to-do list.

My husband and daughter....  not so much. And therein is the battle.
In Australia, it wasn't so noticeable that Isabelle isn't a morning person because Kenn had a company car and so, I didn't have to get myself and Isabelle around in the morning to take him to work in order for us to have the car.  Also, her kindy (preschool) didn't start until 8:45 so she could sleep until 8 and still have time to get herself ready for the day.
But our schedule here requires us to be on the road by 8 to get Kenn to work on time.  And it's a 15+ minute drive into town, which isn't a big deal except that since we're already in town, I'd like to get all the errands run before coming back home.  And that means I need Isabelle to have her morning routine (use toilet, get dressed, teeth and hair brushed and breakfast eaten) befo…

Handmade by AnnDenee

Toward the end of October, I set up a facebook page and opened my sewing and crochet business, specializing in standard-size pillowcases and crocheted dishcloths & scrubbie sets.  In addition, I am happy to take custom orders, either sewing or crochet.

And before I could get some stock pillowcases sewn, a series of orders came in --
 a set of two flannel pillowcases

 a single travel-size pillowcase

three decorative pillows

 and another single travel (child) - size pillowcase. (Having some extra fabric, I made up a matching doll-size pillowcase.)
Before I hardly knew it was happening, I was off and running with pillowcases.

And soon after those came an order for a custom bible cover complete with a wrap-around outside pocket and zipper closure.

Interspersed with these sewing orders, I was also getting orders for 
a crochet dishcloth & scrubbie set

and a couple of custom orders for toddler size hats.

Of course, there is still time for Christmas presents to be made and mailed out, s…

A Day at Home... mostly

Sometimes when people say they're spending a day at home, it sounds like they've received a prison sentence.  For me, I quite enjoy it.  It's relaxing.  I get to work on various projects.  Dare I say it?  It's a perfect day for me. 
Today's day included doing creative activities like -

It all gets done ...  one step at a time.

Thanks for stopping by.  See you soon!  :)


A small voice calls out of the darkness...


I come rushing up out of my own darkness, formulate an answer, and call back..


The small voice sends out a plea...

"I can't find my blanket."

I send reassurance...

"I'm coming."

I tell myself - don't go back to sleep - and then fumble with the covers as I sit up on the side of the bed and reach for my glasses. Not that they will help much in the pitch black of the house at this pre-dawn hour, but I put them on anyway.

Walk gently around the bed being careful not to bump into it and wake the sleeping husband. And then count the steps before reaching the brick step.  There it is.  Two steps up and across to the bedroom door.

No way around it.  The light has to be turned on. "Close your eyes." I say to the small person, owner of the small voice. *click* No worries. She's still asleep. All the blankets are on the floor.

I arrange all the blankets back over her.  Tucking them do…

TBI - Long Term Effects

So I was plodding along, going about my daily routines and life was pretty good.  Then suddenly wham!  By adding one new activity to my daily routines, swimming at the Y, all my routines are thrown way out of whack and I can't keep up with even the simple things.

What is the best day for grocery shopping?  What about the bank? the laundromat? the fabric store?

I know.  You're looking at this and thinking, what's the big deal?  It's just swimming at the Y.  Just go do it.

Well, it's not that easy.  At least not for me.  Scheduling is hard for me. Even just changing an already established schedule is hard. It's really really hard!! And I'll tell ya why.  It's a big deal because of the long-term side effects of TBI* from a car wreck that happened 28 years ago!!

So, why share this? It's because if you know someone who had a head injury at any point in their lifetime, and at times they struggle with what seem to you to be the simplest of tasks, ask them …

A Normal Day

Rise and Shine
Made breakfast and packed a lunch for husband
Dropped husband at work and laundry at the laundromat.  Made a deposit at the bank, then picked up the laundry.  Went to the Y for a swim while daughter played in the children's room.
Home for lunch, some down time involving Gilmore Girls and crochet.
A quiet afternoon of napping, reading, and playing Clue.  Chatted with a client about a new project.
Picked up husband.  Made supper.  Read story to daughter and tucked her into bed.  And now some end of the day down time- crochet and Numb3rs.
It's 8:10pm.  I could go to bed now.

Today's meals: Breakfast:  toast with pb and a glass of milk Lunch: tuna salad and crackers, glass of milk Supper:  potato soup, tossed salad Snack:  apple & pb
Day 1 of swimming:  8 laps in 20 minutes

Getting Back on the Meal Planning Train

It's the beginning of the month and so the perfect time for refocusing myself to a meal planning.  Are you a meal planner?  Do you tend to make the same comfort foods?  Or do you enjoy new foods for every meal?

I like the simplicity of making the same foods over and over again.  I know it sounds boring, but it works for me.  And I do change up the seasonings and add in new recipes so I think it's a good mix.

As a homemaker, I think meal planning (and preparing) is my biggest challenge.  Off-the-cuff cooking rarely works for me, so a plan is a must.  But sitting down and writing out a plan is just-so-hard!  (I know.  Poor me, right?)

So, here we go for November:

cocoa & toast & fruit
fruit & yogurt (homemade) & granola (homemade)
BLT & egg & cheese (stole this one from Bob Evans)
cold cereal or granola & milk & fruit

Light meal
egg salad sandwich
tuna salad sandwich
ham & cheese sandwich
cheese & tomato sandwich
grilled cheese &a…

Crochet projects

It's nice to have a project at hand when I have a few minutes to sit and relax.  For me, it's crochet, at least right now.  Here are some of the projects I've completed recently.


Infinity scarf


Doll's blanket

Market bag

I love my crochet hobby and cash business.  It's relaxing and enjoyable to me. Thanks!

Today, I am thankful for my supportive and understanding husband. 

My Biggest Personal Challenge....

....getting through my day without it or me falling apart.

Mornings are tight and go well for me.  I have set things that have to be done before we leave to take Husband to work, which takes us into town.  And being in town lends itself to running errands on the days there are errands to run.

Usually, I can keep things pretty well on track up through lunch and then some down time when Daughter may take a nap and I escape into a crochet or sewing project and a show to watch.

But recovery from the down time is difficult, and there is still dishes to wash, supper to prepare, more dishes to wash, tidying up to do, and Daughter's bedtime routine to oversee.

As an in-home parent, there is minimal accountability, which isn't to say I don't feel bad when I fall apart, because I do. I just don't know how to use that to do better next time.

And not all my days are as challenging as others, but I haven't been able to identify what makes one better than another.

I know I do better …

How to Reheat Foods without a Microwave

"How do you reheat foods?"  "I'd die without my microwave."
I hear this regularly when I share that we don't have a microwave in our home.  And it's not by accident.  We intentionally sold it about 5 years ago.  Why?  Two reasons: First, I figured we were really only using it 1 or 2 times each day; and second, it took up too much counter space.
But selling it happened in steps.  Once I had decided it was time for the microwave to go, I had to get K on board.  He would use it to reheat his coffee from the pot he had brewed first thing in the morning.  That had to be addressed.  We bought a keurig with the reusable capsule.
Well, he still wasn't convinced so I said ok.  How about if we just try it for a month? Let's just move the microwave out of the kitchen for a month and see how it goes. Well, that was all it took.  It was moved out and never came back in.
But how do I reheat foods?  It used to be with either a small sauce pan or cast iron sk…

Thrift Store Shopping

This morning was a great morning for hitting the thrift shops.  It's getting colder and we have a need for winter coats, and Isabelle has earned some money to spend.  What better place for her to get a great value for her nickels than the thrift store, right?!  :)

But first we went out to the Allen County Farm to join a nature hike put on by the parks department.  We grabbed hats and layered sweaters over t-shirts, but it was brrrrrr  chilly until we got warmed up.  Definitely need to look for winter coats.

But you know how it is at the thrift stores, you have to go in with an open mind because you just don't know what you're going to find.....


The UFOs must go....

You know...  all those UnFinished Objects.  The ones we are so inspired to make so we start them, and then run out of steam before they're completed. But we can't throw them away, certain at another time we'll be inspired to pick up the pieces and finish.

And I promised myself that when we got back to the US, I would have no more UFOs.  None.  Nada.  Either finish it, tear it apart to make into something else, or hand it off to somebody else to finish.  And it's a good plan, but what I didn't expect to find when I unpacked the boxes left here in storage was the UFOs that I packed away.  :(

An infinity scarf -- now in my defense, I actually didn't start this one until after we came back.  It was the yarn itself which I found packed in a box...  full of yarn.  Happily, I am making good time and progress on this particular project and expect to have it done in the next few days.

Oh boy...  this is the beginnings of a blanket/afghan which I am crocheting.  With a…

Men and Women -- the Great Divide

Has anyone else noticed this?  I see it regularly in the facebook budgeting group in; as well as in society in general.  Men and women standing off against each other on seemingly small issues.  These are men and women who are on the same team -- spouses, partners in life.

"I want to cut cable, but my husband won't give it up.  He HAS to have his sports."
"I wrote out a perfect budget, but my wife won't stick to it.  She keeps buying coffees."

I guess this is really standing out to me because I've been submerged in a different culture while reading "Farmer Boy", the story of one year of Almanzo Wilder's boyhood.

There was less individualism and more a sense of we're a team.  We're all in this together.  It took the whole family working together to convert the autumn bounty into provisions for winter.

I think part of the reason Pa and Ma had such a strong bond and were together in their decision-making has part to do with them both…


Money, the taboo topic.  
We're taught, by our parents and the culture we live in, to not talk about money.  Don't talk about how much you make.  Don't talk about how much you spend.  Don't talk about the ins and outs of credit cards.  Don't talk about how much financing really costs. And if you're in a financial mess, don't talk about that either.
So we're each alone in dealing with our finances.  Oh sure, you an ask your folks.  And get the lecture.  Or you can pay for a consultation with a financial advisor, and their sales pitch (usually).  But where can you just sit and talk about the basics? What if you just want to know you're not the only one who is bearing the consequences of a bad choice?  What if you just want to share ideas and hear other people's thoughts on what is working and not working?

I propose that it starts here.  My sustainable living passion isn't just about the planet, environment, and being frugal because it's t…

Custom Pillowcases

My sewing machine is warmed up and I am loving making these pillow cases!

This stripe with blue and green shows the same technique I used on the first one, but I included the third strip of fabric for contrast.  Isn't that lovely?

And here with the owls, I made that third contrasting piece a little wider (2" rather than just 1").  I really do love this one.  The owls are so much fun and the bright colors are just cheeky!

Pricing -- To cover the cost of fabric and pay myself for my time, a single pillowcase will be $15 and a set of two will be $25.  That is for standard sized pillows.  Queen and king would be a bit more for more fabric. A travel size pillow will be less.

These custom made pillowcases are totally worth that price.  They are made from a good quality, 100% cotton fabric, are well-made by me personally, and I will work with you on fabric/color selection.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Nursery, Juvenile, and Calico fabrics are all available in solid, strip…

I'm in the pillowcase business!

Part of being a stay at home mom and making sustainable living choices is keeping expenses down, but the other part is to increase the income, too.  And working from home allows me to develop multiple small income avenues rather than just going after the one big avenue of income.

With that in mind, I've been brainstorming, trying to come up with a project for the cold winter months.  I've kicked around various crochet ideas, but was truly inspired when I came across the idea of making custom pillowcases.

Here are some photos of the one I whipped up this morning specifically so I could take photos to promote this new business venture.

Isn't that a lovely pillowcase?  I can't wait to share with you all the pillowcases I have planned!
Come spring, I'll add chickens, well eggs, as another avenue.  And of course the garden will go in which will reduce our food spending in a big way.
What small avenues of income are you working on?

Frugal Win

Yesterday's frugal win -- Husband showed me where the sole on his brand new dress shoes for work was already coming off. I suggested he take the shoes to the local shoe store that does repairs. Frugal win, right?  Not so much because we'd still be out the cost of the repair on a less than 3 weeks old pair of expensive shoes.
So later when I realized I had no yeast to make bread and we were at the point where bread had to be either made or bought, and the store where I wanted to buy the bulk yeast is on the north side of town, I suggested we take the shoes back to the store of purchase which is also on the north side of town.  Frugal win!!  They happily replaced the shoes on the spot.  Didn't even have to wait for them to be ordered in.

Here's the bread...

What's your frugal win today?