Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Clothesline instructions

Today was an unseasonably warm day (low to mid 40's), so I took the opportunity to catch up on some laundry by hanging some on my outdoor clothesline. 

Here I am, in my postage-stamp of a backyard, hanging laundry in my slippers. You'll see that Joey is playing on Adam's skateboard, pulling himself along on his tummy. We take advantage of warm(ish) weather when it comes! My poor garden looks so barren. 

So here's a load of laundry on the line. In a future post, I promise to share my laundry routine. I rarely get truly behind on laundry. (This week being the exception: Christmas means that I've been away from the washing machine, and wet weather means things aren't drying as quickly as they usually do.) Anyway, I want to point out a couple of things in the above picture. The laundry is graduated in size, with clothes first, smallest to largest, and then linens, smallest to largest. I do this for two reasons: 1. It looks nice outside and 2. The dog's path is right in front of the garden, in the foreground of the picture. If I hang pants there, she walks under them and gets dog hair on my clean clothes. So I have to hang things in that spot that are small, so they don't drag on her back as she walks by. 
So let's get to the nitty-gritty of instruction, shall we? First things first: before you hang, give your clothes a good shake. Next, hang them on the line. I like to hang pants right-side up, with the clothespins holding the waistband on the line. I hang shirts upside-down to avoid pointy shoulders. When you hang shirts upside-down, don't stretch them! Hang them from the bottom, but bring the clothespins close enough together that the shirt sags in the middle. Otherwise you have bell-shaped shirts when they're dry! 

If you're like me and have to use every inch of clothesline space, get inventive! I hang baby socks in the "sag" of upside-down shirts. You'll notice that my socks are paired, and I hang them right-side up with one clothespin holding both on the line. On the basement line, I just pair any old socks together (doesn't matter if they match), and let Adam match & put them away after they're dry. 

And here's my handy clothespin bag. It hangs on the line, and I slide it along as I hang clothes, so my pins are always handy. Yes, I made it. No, I didn't have a pattern. It was a lot of guess work. But it turned out, so I can't complain! 

Monday, December 29, 2008

Odds & Ends

Here are some snapshots out of our life from the past couple weeks. 

That's Luke, putting together one of the Lego sets he got for Christmas. You'll also notice the Magic Cabin crown on his head. He's such a ham!

And here's Adam, putting together one of his Lego sets. It's HUGE. He just finished it (with some help from Hubby) this afternoon. That's the homeschool cabinet in the background, in case you're wondering why we keep books at the kitchen table. 

Every year, I get together with a friend from high school to make Christmas cookies. We get our kids together and make a big mess. The kids decorate a few cookies (and eat a lot of dough) and I get a playdate with one of my favorite people. I love our little tradition! I wish I could find a link to the book I take my Christmas cookie recipe from: it's the best! 

Another annual family tradition is to go to the local children's museum at Christmastime. This is a picture of Gracie at lunch during our visit. Right now, this picture is also the wallpaper on my Mac. Every time I sit down at the computer with Gracie on my lap, she squeals with laughter looking at her own picture. She's growing up SO FAST! 

Another pair of the baby shoes I've made. I have a purple pair made from just the purple fabric you see in these shoes, and I have another pair in progress, with denim toe pieces and that dot fabric for the heels. Too cute! 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Grocery shopping

Is anyone getting tired of reading about my grocery store ramblings? Here is another post about my all-consuming quest to lower our grocery bill. My apologies if you're bored. ; ) 

This week, I was talking to a friend about couponing, and it dawned on me that most people don't get the idea behind the coupon/stockpile strategy, and how it saves money. So I'm going to try to do a better job explaining. This is Bargain Grocery Shopping 101. 

1. Set a budget for the month. For us, that budget is $550. 
2. In any budget, there is wiggle room, the amount between necessary and discretionary spending. Some budgets will have more wiggle room than others. If your wiggle room is only $5, so be it. But use this wiggle room to your advantage. Use it to start your stockpile, and stock up on a good deal! 
3. Use the strategies I've outlined here and here to give yourself a little more wiggle room in your budget. Then start snowballing; use your savings to generate more savings. I know that when I go to the store that I don't need 14 bottles of shampoo this month. But I do know that right now, they're at a good price, and I will eventually use those 14 bottles. If I'm only paying 25 cents per bottle, then I'm saving future grocery money. That enables me to buy 30 buddy bars, to stock up on 5 bottles of laundry detergent, to stockpile toothbrushes. 

And it gets me to my goal of lowering my grocery budget. Over time, the savings start rolling in. I am able to lower the cost per item of the items I regularly buy. By practicing stockpiling, I have managed to lower my grocery bill by $50 over the last 3 months. Not too shabby, considering how low it was to start with. 

And just to give you some inspiration, today I bought 3 bags of Hershey's Kisses for 39 cents - total. I also got some frozen pizza, our only convenience food, for $2/pizza, and 16 ounce tubs of sour cream for 25 cents each. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulders dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:5

May you have a wonderful, joy-filled Christmas. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I've been crafting again

And I have some baby shoes to show you, but Blogger won't let me upload the pictures. I also made some cute bows for Grace, but you'll have to wait to see those, too! 

So here's a teaser post, and I'll post pictures as soon as Blogger lets me! 

Here are the pictures, as promised. Please remember that I am NOT a good photographer, and the only time I get to create & take pictures of my creations are after 9pm. 

I got the pattern for the shoes here. It's hard to tell in my picture, but the shoes are chocolate brown with baby blue flowers. So sweet! I have three more pairs in progress right now. My dear friend Dani sent me some suede skirts over the summer that she found at a thrift store, and I've been making good use of them as soles for baby shoes. (She knew my intentions prior to sending the skirts, btw.) Pair those with my little quilting fabric stash and a couple of fat quarters I've scored on sale, and Gracie has a shoe fetish in the making. ; ) 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cute cute cute!

I just had to post this picture. Gracie discovered the Christmas bells on the side door, and I took a quick pic of her. It almost looks like she's saying, "I see you taking that picture. I'm so cute!" 

Friday, December 5, 2008

St. Nicholas Day

Happy feast day, St. Nicholas! Adam put out our shoes in front of the tree, in anticipation for your visit! I don't think you can tell from the picture, but the post-it note says, "Dad's shoos," since Hubby was still at work. : ) 

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I finished it!

I only have a second to post this, but I had to come share my accomplishment! I know this is a pretty poopy photo, but it was the only one I could get that didn't have a kid in FRONT of the quilt. (Yes, that's Adam's head sticking out from under the quilt.) 

Yes, I finished the quilt! Turns out that I was able to get my sewing machine working myself. This quilt is made from salvaged denim from worn-out jeans, backed with flannel. It is so heavy and warm. Perfect for snuggling under while reading a book on the couch. It's a great use of what I had around the house; I never have enough throw blankets. (The kids & hubby are always fighting over them. Must be because I keep the thermostat so low. LOL!) 

My current project is a pair of baby shoes for Grace. I have the cutest fabric to use! I can't wait to finish them and post pictures. I think I may make some matching hair bows, and wrap them up for Christmas. 

Happy crafting!