Monday, July 28, 2008

0 Calorie Ice Cream

A surprising amount of knitting was accomplished this weekend, almost all of it done on knitted food. Here is a pic of my newest culinary delights.
The ice cream is Scooped by i like lemons.
The Peach is Georgia by Peachcake Knits.
Finally, the pretzel is my own design. I just made a 3 stitch i-cord long enough to fold into a pretzel, tacked down the intersecting points, and stitched some white blobs on it to look like salt.I think they are a hit.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Potato Stamps

My daughter and I made these shirts for her a while ago. She really enjoys wearing them.Here is the super simple process we used to make them;
  1. Cut a potato in half (I used small new potatoes yielding 2 stamps).
  2. Using a sharp knife cut a simple design in the flat side of the potato. Remove the excess potato around the design.
  3. Blot the potato on a dry rag.
  4. Apply paint or ink to the potato that is appropriate for the surface you will be stamping on (we used fabric paint). Remove any excess by blotting.
  5. Apply to your surface in whatever pattern you desire (my patterns were regular, but my daughter loves her very irregular stamp pattern).
  6. Repeat. Use your potato stamp as much as possible in the next day or two, storing in the fridge between uses. The potato will go bad and need to be tossed in a few days.
  7. Allow your surface to dry as your medium indicated before using.
Told you it was simple, and they look really cute!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It Tastes Like Pink

Last Thursday my kids got to eat Cotton Candy for the very first time. I thought I would share some of the sugary goodness.
My son thought it tasted better with dirt.

When we asked my daughter what it tasted like, she replied, "Pink."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Free Pattern - Summer Squash

In honor of the July No Buying Challenge, I thought I would offer my first free pattern. Summer Squash is a cute little plush squash, perfect for use as a child's toy or as a quirky member of a fake food arrangement. Enjoy.
Yarn: Worsted Weight, I used Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool hand dyed yellow.
Needles: US 6 double pointed needles, or size needed to obtain a fairly tight knitted fabric, so that the filling material does not show through.

CO 6 sts, evenly divided between 3 needles (2 sts per needle)
Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist stitches. PM at beginning of the round.

Row 1: k f/b around
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8-9, 11-15, 17-19, 21-22, 24-25, 27-29: Knit all sts
Row 3: (k1, k f/b) around - 18 sts
Row 5: (k2, k f/b) around - 24 sts
Row 7: (k3, k f/b) around - 30 sts
Row 10: (k4, k f/b) around - 36 sts
Row 16: (k4, k2tog) around - 30 sts
Row 20: (k3, k2tog) around - 24 sts
Row 23: (k2, k2tog) around - 18 sts
Stuff Main Compartment
Row 26: (k1, k2tog) around - 12 sts
Rows 30, 32, 34-39, 41: sl 1, k1, sl 1, k to end
Rows 31, 33, 40, 42: k1, sl 1, to end
Row 43: k all sts
Stuff top portion
Row 44: (k2, k2tog) around
Row 45: k around
Row 46: (k1, k2tog) around

Break Yarn, thread through loose sts and secure
Weave in ends

If you want a stem, i-cord about one inch in brown yarn, then securely attach base of stem to top of squash, and weave in ends.


Lemon Yellow Yarn

It has been a while since I have posted anything knitting related, but you need not worry. I have been knitting, and doing other yarn related activities. I have actually been doing a lot of dyeing lately.

I was trying to get a lemon yellow clor for this skein. How do you think I did?
What about now?This cute little lemon was made following the lemonlime pattern from PeachCake Knits. I used worsted weight yarn, and US 6 needles.

Friday, July 18, 2008

It's not about the money

My parents have started reading my blog, and the last time I visited them, my Dad commented on the July No Buying Challenge. He stated that he and my mother have always been careful careful with their money, and it's true. They have always had little to no debt, and did their best to live within their means. With consumer debt ballooning, and home foreclosures at a 20+ year high, reducing spending is of huge importance, but, it is not what the no buying challenge is about.

The July No Buying Challenge is about reducing consumption, not spending. Reduced spending is often a happy consequence of reduced consumption, but it is not always the case. Buying something that will last the test of time often costs more than disposable items (at least in the short term). For instance, outfitting your house with cleaning cloths will likely initially cost more than a roll of paper towels. However, the cloths can be used again and again, potentially giving you years of use. The paper towels on the other hand are used, then tossed, requiring you to consume and spend more in the long run (then there is also the issues of shipment and chemical production representing further environmental impact).

-Cloths do require washing which uses water, and likely electricity, and detergent. Using environmentally appropriate washing techniques can reduce this impact, as can composting paper towels.

How do you know if a product will last for the long term? The old adage "you get what you pay for" comes to mind. Bargain basement prices are generally not synonymous with high quality; however, you don't have to break the bank to get a quality good either. Companies that have enough faith in their goods to give life long product guarantees are probably producing quality products. Goods that are meant to be repaired rather than replaced are likely better quality than their disposable counter parts. Finally, quality goods do not need commercial advertisement. You will likely hear about them through word of mouth.

My favorite clothing company is Patagonia. They offer a lifelong guarantee against manufacturing and material defects, and will repair clothing damaged through the users actions. They have also been working to reduce their environmental impact, create organic clothing, give a percent of their profits to environmental causes, and support their employees in environmental efforts. What keeps me from having a closet full of nothing but Patagonia clothing? Reality. While their prices are reasonable, full price if often more than I can afford. Rather than buying cheaper clothing that won't last as long, I wait for their sales. They notify me by e-mail when their sales occur, and I buy the quality I want, at prices I can afford. The rest of the year I just don't buy clothes, unless I find something equally suitable and need the item.

The moral of the story:
  • The July No Buying Challenge is about reducing consumption, not spending.
  • Buying quality items that will last will likely cost more than the disposable alternative.
  • Reducing consumption (by not buying, buying used, or buying quality) will likely save money in the long run.
One last thought; all products must be properly cared for to last.

Craft Table $2

Both of my kids are now coloring, and doing "crafts" (gluing or cutting paper). Their crafts supples were everywhere, until I decided to give them a place of their own to create their masterpieces. The end result was their craft table.

A while ago my SiL was painting and decorating children's tables and chairs, and selling them a local stores. One of her tables was imperfect and wasn't put up for sale. Instead it put up residence in my in-law's barn, and later their dining room. When my kids needed a table, I asked my MiL if she would be willing to part with the tiny table holding clutter (as all extra furniture does) in her dining room. She was happy to put the table to better use. Unfortunately the table's time in the barn allowed it to mold. The table had to be sanded down (removing my SiL's decorations), and repainted. I painted the bottom of the table to match our other white painted furniture, and the table top in black chalkboard paint (allows chalk doodles and hides crayon marks).

What about the chairs you ask? My MiL found the chairs that my DH and SiL used when they were children. Fortunately they were in great shape. She also sewed cute little seat cushions for the chairs, and had enough fabric left over for me to make matching bags to hang on the chairs.

DH also drilled holes in corresponding table legs large enough to insert a sturdy dowl that holds a paper roll.

Original Design:
The Cost Breakdown:
Table $0
Chairs $0
Paint $0 (Already in Stash)
Dowl $2

Total Cost $2

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Avoiding Impulse Shopping

As part of the July No Buying Challenge, I thought I would give a few tips on avoiding unnecessary or impulse buying.

  1. Avoid stores, both physical structures and online stores. Try setting a number of times to go shopping per week, and go no more often. I try not to go shopping more than once per week.
  2. Make an inclusive list and stick to it. Keep a list throughout the week, and put everything on it that you will need for the next week. Don't buy anything that you did not include on your list.
  3. Have a meal plan. Don't just write down the meals you plan to make during the week, write down the ingredients as well. Try to plan meals with corresponding ingredients (ex. if you have to buy an entire head of cabbage make sure you plan meals that will use an entire head of cabbage.
  4. Trip chain. Trip chaining is making multiple stops on a single trip out of the house, rather than making several trips to the store and back home. Getting everything done on one trip saves time, gas, and discourages the additional shopping that occurs on multiple trips.
  5. Shop local. Local shops may not have prices quite a low as big box stores, but you might still spend less at them. Why? Local shops usually can't afford marketers that know exactly where and how to place products to make you want to buy them. They also have fewer products, so you are less likely to find a product that you have never heard of but can't live without. Shopping local also helps the local economy, which can help you in the long run.
any other suggestions?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Wrap Pants

Three pairs of pants, zero dollars.

I found this wonderful tutorial on making these super simple wrap pants. So far I have made two pairs, and assisted my sister in making a third. The adult sized pants used about 2 yards of fabric each. I used the left over fabric from my own pants to make my daughter's pants. I origionally made my pants MUCH too large, so much too large that I used the fabric I trimmed off my pants to make my daughter's. I wonder what that says about my self perception, or maybe my diet? I think next time I will have someone else measure me.

The pants were all made from some linen fabric that has been sitting in my stash for at least two years, so I didn't go out and buy any of the materials to make them - hence, zero dollars. However, these pants could easily be made for less than $10.

Here are a few pics of the finished products.The front of my pants. These do expose some thigh when I sit down. The back of my pants. The ties are hidden by my shirt.My sister's sparkley linen pants.The pants unwrapped. They are huge. They remind me of the after picture for a diet plan.My daughter's pants. I used elastic in her waste band rather than relying on ties alone to hold up her pants. She has one tie that is purely decorative. I think she likes them!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mushroom Land

When we came home from my parent's house, DD was pleased to find "Mushroom Land" in our backyard. Here are a few pics of the most beautiful ones. I think we must have had a spore attack. They are EVERY WHERE.

I'm back!

Actually I have been back since last Monday, but I have been marathon knitting and haven't had time to blog. The kids and I visited my parents during the July 4th weekend while DH was in NY for a wedding. Since DH flew out of the city my parents live in, it only made sense to combine the trips.

The kids loved their time with my parents. They did a LOT of swimming in their pool, saving worms from hot asphalt (we have very little asphalt here), and even got to see dinosaur bones, and the effects of static electricity on hair at the local museum of science and history. They especially liked the area set aside for kids 5 and under, which had little to do with science or history, but had lots of stuff to climb on and water to splash.DD climbing a fake tree.DS playing in the water.

Since then I have been knitting like crazy trying to get my sister's birthday present finished before her next birthday. I knit so much in one week that the yarn from her bag actually dyed a line in my index finger where I wrap my yarn for tension.
However, my fingers and wrists held out, and I was able to finish her bag this weekend, which was lucky, since she was able to visit this weekend. She received her finished bag only one week after her birthday, and it looked great!

Pre FeltingPost Felting

My sister also brought us some yummy lush products, including face masks that you can't mail order. My DD loved them.
Last but no least, DS had his very first haircut this weekend, and he no longer looks like my baby. Now he looks like a little boy. Pictures to follow.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

108+ Things to do Instead of Shopping

At times it seems that the all American pastime is shopping. If we are bored, there is nothing on TV, or we just feel like getting out, all too often we go shopping. What else is there to do? I have created a list of things you can do instead of shopping. Some are fun, some practical, some silly. All of these ideas should cost little or no money. Not all of these ideas will apply to everyone, but I am sure many of these ideas do.
Note: My DH helped me with these ideas, perhaps you can tell which are his :)

108+ Things to do Instead of Shopping:
1. Work in a garden (your own or the community garden - container gardens count)
2. Play a Board Game
3. Hike a nature trail
4. Read a Book
5. Walk
6. Woodworking
7. Sharpen your Kitchen Knives
8. Visit a Park
9. Play a Video Game (do you still have that 8-bit Nintendo lurking in the back of a closet)
10. Bake from Scratch
11. Go to the Library
12. Run
13. Practice for NTN trivia
14. Spend Quality Time with Friends and Family
15. Bike
16. Yoga
17. Sew down the fabric stash
18. Knit down the yarn stash
19. Spin down the fiber stash
20. Draw
21. Paint
22. Detail the Car
23. Lounge
24. Watch an Old Movie
25. Listen to the Radio
26. Swim
27. Dance
28. Have Sex
29. Catch up on your favorite sports team
30. Go Surfing or skateboarding
31. Repair something that is broken in your home
32. Audit a class at the local college
33. Mentor a Kid
34. Give the Dog a bath
35. Send a kid in the 3rd World $0.25/day
36. Practice the Instrument you used to play
37. Clean out the Garage
38. Humanely trap a household pest, and release it next to a big box store
39. Plan your Next Gorilla Gardening Expedition
40. Fix and sell the car on blocks in the front yard
41. Collect old campaign signs in your neighborhood
42. Pick up Litter
43. Write a letter to your senator or congressman
44. Read the Onion
45. Play fetch with the dog
46. Drink a beer in your front yard and wave and/or yell at the kids that walk by
47. Develop a working knowledge of a language you always wanted to learn
48. Listen to the "Dark Side of the Moon" while watching "The Wizard of OZ"
49. Churn your own butter
50. Learn to juggle
51. Write Thank You Notes
52. Clean behind the fridge
53. Make Pizza
54. Spend more time naked (inside the house)
55. Make crock pot caramel
56. Plan a party
57. Do Push-ups
58. Do Sit-ups
59. Hold a potluck
60. Mow the Lawn
61. Clean the Dryer's Lint Trap
62. Make new friends on the internet
63. Write a fanfiction
64. Learn to Weld
65. Ask the utility company to perform an energy audit on your house
66. Write the next great American novel
67. Volunteer at the Animal Shelter
68. Visit your town's poorest area, and see if you can help
69. Find a homeless person, and give them $5
70. Polish your shoes
71. Stretch
72. Bring your stash of mini soaps and shampoos to the homeless shelter
73. Climb a tree
74. Plant a tree
75. Bird Watching
76. Paint your Nails
77. Have a Scavenge Hunt
78. Sing a Song
79. Take a Nap
80. Feed the Birds
81. Go to the beach
82. Start a Digital Scrapbook (No paper, and a lot of freebies)
83. Visit a Public Garden
84. Make a Bird or Squirrel Feeder
85. Play Dress Up
86. Get a Hair Cut
87. Tell stories or Read Aloud to Kids
88. Visit a Museum
89. Go to a Cultural Event
90. Take a Self Defense Class
91. Make a Rain Barrel
92. Make or Fill a Compost Pile
93. Star Gazing
94. Teach a child arcane slang
95. Change the Oil in your Car
96. Create your own home spa day
97. Rearrange the furniture
98. Have a tea Party
99. Scrub the Baseboards
100. Make Presents (DD's suggestion)
101. Begin working on the project you got supplies for two years ago, but never got the time to start.
102. Cloud Watching
103. Target Shooting
104. Go Fishing
105. Visit your friends and family
106. Make a scrap paper Hat
107. Take some Photos
108. Make a time capsule

Any other suggestions? I will add them to my list.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Show your support

No Buy Button

The July No Buy Challenge now has it's own button. Add it to your own page to show your support.

Just add the following text to your blog;


Here are a few Links to free and cheap craft resources, and other fun stuff. This list is by no means exhaustive. Please let me know your own free and cheap craft links, so I can add them to this list.

"The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,531 groups with 5,390,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free."

This is a great resource for those of us who may need supplies but don't want to spend the money - or those who either don't have the time or resources to make many gifts...these are free!" - Thanks Apples from an Apple Tree

Sew Liberated's Fun for Nothing Challenge. You will even see a few pics of my kiddos in their Flickr pool.

An insightful article asking why conspicuous consumption exists.
Dangerous Intersection: Shopping for Sex

Free sewing patterns and tutorials.
Burda Style

Homemade Deodorant

DIY Everything