Thursday, April 30, 2009

Renee Award

Thank you, Yaya! I am truly touched.
...This Renee award was created by Bella and Ces in honor of their friend Renee.In Bella's own words "this is a brand new award and I have the pleasure and honor of spreading the seed, watching it grow. I hope it finds its way to those who are like Renee: the acorn, a small package becoming a tall and sturdy oak, giving more acorns, becoming tall and sturdy oaks, giving acorns..."
(Click here for the story about the Renee Award)
I in turn nominate

April Showers bring May Flowers

These are the little gifties I am giving the kids I tutor this week. The current Target Dollar Spot collection has lots of cool garden-oriented items, and that's where I found these little pots of seeds. They would also make cute party and end of year class favors.

Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

May 7/9 -
2/$5 Simplicity

May 14/16 -
$1.99 McCalls and Butterick
$3.99 Vogue

Psst! Can't wait? The Vogues are on sale now, today through Saturday.
(Yeppers, I bought these today!)

...Clean in thought, word and deed

I'm not sure about your area, but the most of the grocery stores and Targets I have visited have slim to none stock of liquid hand sanitizers. But I would like to report that Walgreens has lots of their store brand 8 ounce size. And they are on sale - 2/$5. There are displays throughout the store, by the front door, the registers and in the Pharmacy department.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tomato Tuesday

Proof progress! "Celebrity" and "Black Plum" have set fruit. (Guest Photography by T -- braving the puddles in the backyard.) Disclosure: These photos were taken over the weekend, after that earlier rain. I did not send the poor guy out yesterday to take them! No, instead he was clearing the side garden drain last night to keep the water from coming into the kitchen.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rain rescue

Great time to emerge, in the midst of the first wave of rain. I moved her so she would be more protected under the eaves.

Money Monday - Replacement Value

I try to keep a good stockpile of items I use all the time, at the very least one. As soon as I use and replace it, it goes on the list. (Even the 100 sheet box of Downey...not likely it will be used up immediately, it still gets added.) If it goes on sale or there is a coupon in the interim, I will stock up. Was it growing up in a blizzard-centric part of the country? Do I consider membership at Costco and Sam's empowering? Did I learn to tune out the mutterings of my family when they open the pantry and a two pound box of crackers falls on their foot? Yes to all of the above. The peace of mind, the inevitable increasing cost, the economy, even the weather can be factors to keep your sanity and budget intact.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - Sidewalk Shoes A fun blog with a little bit of everything and great photography. Her food photos will have you wishing you could just reach through your computer screen!

Cooking Light - Vanilla Shortbread

Today I tried Vanilla Shortbread from the May issue of Cooking Light on page 74. Definitely deserving of their 5 star rating! I've never used vanilla bean before - I found it at Costco the other day and followed Martha's Cooking School book instructions. Boy, what a difference in flavor and fragrance. I'm also making some vanilla sugar with the leftover pod. It went together very easily. It looks pretty, and is not overly sweet nor heavy. The only fault? It was difficult to cut without it breaking and cracking, but by the time I finished, at least 2/3's looked OK. A keeper for the cookie recipe rotation.

Netflix Stars - Rachel Getting Married

4/5. Netflix didn't think we would like it, but we did. It is filmed documentary style, which you get used to quickly. Anne Hathaway did a great job, and nice to see Debra Winger as the mom. Other than those two, I didn't recognize anyone else. But that's good - let's start giving others a chance. A compelling story of many unresolved issues. Even though it was a little draggy in some parts, we didn't nor couldn't ditch it. Interesting music throughout. I thought I saw Al Stewart but it turned out to be Robyn Hitchcock. I loved and bought "Up to Our Nex" on iTunes. You can get the song separately on his "Goodnight Oslo" album. Unfortunately the other songs on the soundtrack are album only.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

No way, No deal Subway

Subway has changed its menu and menu prices. We were so used to the $5 Footlong specials, we didn't realize it is now only for specific sandwiches - none of which we like nor eat. And no more Subway Subdays meal deals, either. What we thought would be under $20 turned into over $20 today. And the special $1 sides? Forget that, too. In fact, you need to buy them in 2's to get that $1 price. (I do the right healthy thing by passing on the chips and have to pay 40 cents more for my drink. Oh well) When you walk through the door, you will still see the $5 Footlong signs, but read the small print! Apparently we were not the only ones caught unawares. Afterwards you should have heard the mutterings of other upset people in line as they realized their deal was off. There are other sandwich shops offering better deals when you are out and about.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Knocking 'em outta the park

With View B Sandra Betzina's Vogue Today's Fit 1049. I still haven't sewn it reversible-ly. I made one yesterday morning and wore it in the afternoon. - just folding under and topstitching the neckline and armholes. Later I will try it in a woven. I love the shape of the shoulders, the neckline, how the dart is in the right place, and fabric frugality. I'll trace an extra copy to play around with different neckline shape variations - more of a scoop, a V neck... It's the perfect Summer 2009 top and just in time. Looks like our warmer temperatures and humidity are back. Here's another knit one, finished with self bias trim on the neckline and armholes. I cut the bias strips 1 1/2" wide, folded and stitched, keeping the bias visible. Since I scooped the neck a little deeper, I made a tiny box pleat at the center front and anchored it with a tiny shell button - a la J.Jill!

Today's Costco Find

Kirkland Rodelle Vanilla Beans - two vials of 5 each - 10 for only $5.97! I plan to try the Vanilla Bean Shortbread on page 74 in the current Cooking Light issue (May) this weekend. Also, Martha Stewart's ham is now $1.97/pound. Still a little pricey, as they were a bit on the large side - the cheapest I could find was $18.54. Pass.

Sew Noted

I just loved the Pattern Forecasts Marcy Tilton used to do for The Sewing Workshop back in the 80's/90's. I would purchase quite a few of her pattern suggestions -- many of which I never considered or flipped past in the catalogues -- and then tape her tweaks and hints to the pattern envelope. It helped me remember why I bought that particular pattern! Her tips and fabric suggestions were spot-on. I am now doing the same with Sandra Betzina's Fashion Forecasts. I was sorting and tidying my sewing room and found an extra copy of the Fall/Winter one and starting cutting and taping away. It helps reinspire and remotivate me when I'm flipping through my pattern file drawers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Having had my front bumper now replaced twice (!), the front plate had taken a beating each time. The collision shop hammered it as flat as they could, but most of the lettering paint was AWOL. My license tags were up for renewal and I decided to replace them with the Bluebonnet (officially known as "Texas Parks and Wildlife Conservation - Bluebonnet"). It was only an additional $30, with $22 going to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to support Texas State Parks. Not only pretty, but a good thing. I thought when I went into the tax office, they would just pluck me a set and I'd be on my way. Nope, they need to be "manufactured" and will be mailed within two weeks. Cool, except that pushes me into May. But they covered that with advising me to put the new sticker on the windshield and a cardboard temporary tag in the rear window. Oh and to keep in the glove compartment the documentation showing I was not a scoflaw in case they pulled me over. As if they need an excuse. White Boomer female with a size 10 foot on the pedal of a Toyota? Whoop, whoop, flash those lights. I'm still dang proud of getting out of the Louisiana State Trooper ticket (who knew U-turns were illegal? Now you know not to pull a U-y there)...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Money Monday AND Who are these people and what are the doing here? Combo Deal!

The Thrifty Chicks This blog is fun and educational. All about thrifting - shopping and showcasing the thrift store finds to save money and keep your style. Lots of great links, too.

Netflix Stars - Doubt

Finally, 4.75/5 stars! Meryl Streep steals the movie. T was absolutely howling, and he's Methodist! A good thinking movie that's not dumbed down. Be sure to watch the special feature about the nuns.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I just picked up Cloth Paper Scissors "Studios" at Barnes and Noble last night, shaking off the stir-crazies and carefully venturing out after almost six inches of rain yesterday -some areas got over 10 inches! I love seeing other people's sewing and crafting areas. (Monica's is one of the coolest and most creative ones I've seen.) And this not only satisfies my curiousity, but also inspires. It's the Spring/Summer issue, priced at $7.99. A cheap thrill, buy-me price, especially when you throw in the 10% member discount and 15% Internet coupon! On our way to Austin the other day, when we snapped the photos of the bluebonnets, we passed through Carmine. And lo and behold, there is a featured studio vignette of a Carmine resident, Deb Taylor! Was this a sign to buy it? Yes!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Sales

I never received the current Jo-Ann's circular. We are on a postal training route, and often get misdirected mail. While we make sure the intended recipients get their correspondence, it is often not reciprocated - especially advertisements. Anyways, I stopped by my regular Jo-Ann's and they gave me the current ads. Good thing and good timing!

Starting today, April 19 through April 25, it's Daffodil Dash!

McCalls patterns 99 cents
50% off regular price coupons, one for each weekend,
50% off thread, Red Tag Fabrics, quilting notions, sewing and quilting cutting tools

April 30/May 2 -
Vogue Patterns $3.99

Netflix Stars - Marley & Me, Yes Man

Marley & Me - 2.5/5 We like dogs, but not this dog of a movie. Despite the surprising all-star cast (Kathleen Turner!), we stopped it halfway through.

Yes Man - 3/5 It started off well and seemed promising, especially just after trying to watch Marley & Me. But then some cringe-worthy moments were thrown in for no other reason than to elicit the "eeww" response. A different ending could have redeemed it.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Photographed yesterday along US Highway 290 between Brenham and Chappell Hill, Texas. I've never seen so many bluebonnets en masse!

Mooo-ve over bluebonnets!

A rose is a rose. . .

I have six buds on my Jackson & Perkins "Pink Promise" rose bush I bought at Costco in February. Gorgeous!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Celebrate April 15 - Deliciously!

Participating Chick-Fil-A restaurants are offering a “Tax Day Relief Special.” Keep your April 15 receipt and return before April 30 and get the same order free.

Free ice cream at Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream and Treatery. Single-scoop servings will be given away to customers in what it calls an “e-cone-nomic ice cream stimulus package.”

(Thanks, Nan!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Money Monday - String Theory

Many of the shopping bags today have rather nice corded handles. More durable than the paper bag itself. If you sew or craft, you'll easily be able to repurpose them for your projects, or even to tie a sewn gift bag closed.
Speaking of bags, Earthbound Farm Organics is giving away 10,000 reusable shopping tote bags each week during the month of April to celebrate Earth Day. Click here to take the pledge to sustain yourself and sustain the planet.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Ingrid Michaelson, "Be OK" 2:27

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

My cool and clever friend, Monica, sent me this Easter greeting!

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.
This week - The Naughty Secretary Club No, not that kind of naughty! Fellow Texas girl Jennifer Perkins is a fun, crafty lady. Her book, "The Naughty Secretary Club - The Working Girl's Guide to Handmade Jewelry" was recently published (ISBN: 978-1-60061-116-2). I just checked out a copy from the library (Call No. 739.27) on Friday. Affordably priced, I will buy it next time on Amazon when I need a bump-up for free shipping. The book also clues you in to unlikely sources for crafting finds (Office Depot and teacher supply stores, who knew?) and has a great list of her favorite blogs to check out. Hop on over to her blog today.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Garden Update - Early April

Blooms on the tomatoes!

"Club Fig" leafed out - no figs yet. It easily expanded a third more. Hopefully it wil increase the odds we will get to the figs before the birds do.

These wildflowers arrive the same time as the daffodils in the side garden. I know they are weeds, but they really look pretty mixed in amongst them.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

New Sandra Betzina patterns!

Debuting in the new Summer Vogue Patterns catalog -- Dress/Tunic 1101, Top 1109, Jacket 1110 Once again, I wish I could see Sandra's real-life versions, with her fabric selections and variations. The line drawings show potential. What do you think? I think I'll wait for the next $3.99 pattern sale.

Put your eggs in one basket. . .

I whipped up a few of Retro-Mama's Easter Eggs - I think they turned out cute! The wicker "nest" basket is from Target's Dollar Spot. Make sure the grainline is from short side to short side, not top to bottom. My first egg attempt was a little "scrambled" - I didn't read her instructions first and cut the pieces every which way.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Crockpot Coney Island Sauce

Modified from the Taste of Home version by Shirley Heston. I double the recipe and then freeze the leftovers. I crock it on Low for 2-3 hours -- this helps save time if we've been all out and about and getting home close to dinner. You can also just cook the sauce in a saucepan if you are hungry now!


1 pound ground round 85% beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons chopped celery or 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
2 cans (15 ounce each) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder or 4 teaspoons Penzeys Chile Con Carne
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
dash of salt
In large skillet, brown beef, onion and celery over medium heat. Drain. In crockpot (or saucepan) stir in remaining ingredients and add the browned beef. Cook on Low 2-3 hours (or for the stovetop version, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally). Grill or cook hotdogs, put in buns and top with sauce. It's enough to top at least 16 hotdogs. Enjoy!

Bean me!

Where are the jelly beans this year? Not the "designer" ones at double or two and half times the price. But plain ordinary, no-name cheap bags for a dollar or less. I honestly think those taste the best. I'm just not willing to pay over $6 with tax for two bags of jelly beans, Brach's no less. I found Hawaiian Punch, Starburst, Sweet Tart, Jelly Belly, Life Savers, sour, spicy, mini, speckled, pastel everywhere. I just want the package of cherry, grape, lime, orange, lemon, black, and white- tutti-fruti kind. (Major bonus if there are red ones which are spicy cinnamon!)
This morning I traipsed to two Targets, a Walgreen's, even Wal-Mart (I did get some beads on sale, so not a totally wasted trip). I also couldn't find the Snickers eggs. Perhaps they have been outlawed - so good, I bet they are/were illegal.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Money Monday - Sew What!

Sew this! Anthropologie's Ice Memory $198 dress for less than $25, easy. I had heard recently that McCalls (and Simplicity) are a little more trendy and get the knock-offs to the pattern books. Case in point - McCall's M5655. Even though the pattern is priced at $15.95; the stores will often have sales for $1.99 and even 99 cents a pattern. 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 yards of fabric - bought on sale, too. Spool of thread, a bit of elastic (watch for half price notions sales, also!) and you are good and looking good to go. Give McCall's and Simplicity patterns a look when you are looking for a knock off and to be a knock out!
Also be sure to check out - an online sewing community and invaluable source of pattern information to help you sew and save even more. There you will find reviews of different patterns, online sewing classes, tips, and more.

Another Costco find!

A Costco premium exclusive! Skintimate Essence, "Soothing Escape" With natural olive butter and chamomile and bergamot essential oils. This is different and a pleasant track away from the typical fruity scents. Not only pretty enough to keep on the edge of the tub, but economical, too -- a multipack of 4 for $8.99. And 9.5 ounces compared to 7 ounces of Mango Grapefruit Coconut Raspberry Souffle.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - Sew, Mama, Sew!

What a fun website to get lost in! Tips, contests, reviews and inspiration. I especially like the theme/button months. April is Spring Sewing month and there are lots of project photos and links to patterns and tutorials. I like to check out the comments, too - so many creative people out there and I've discovered many cool blogs as a result.