Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(almost) Frugal Luxuries - the Serger

image source
Merry Christmas to me: I got a serger! Woo!

I've been wanting one for a while, and when the Singer Pro Finish went on a steep discount I grabbed one for $190.

Yeah, it sounds expensive - but I think I can make it work.

As I'm sure you've noticed, I've been making a lot of Max's clothes. While my new sewing machine is awesome - sewing on knits is wearing it out faster than I would like. So I decided to get a machine made to sew on knits.

It was pretty intimidating to set up, but thank goodness it came with an instructional DVD. Max helped me watch it (I thought he'd find it dry, but he was fascinated and asked me to play it again).

And, it's awesome. The tractor jammies was the first project, and with a little trial and error they were a breeze to make.

Now for the frugal part - I'm going to try and keep track of how much I'm saving by making versus buying clothes from this point forward, starting with the tractor jammies. I bought the shirt new for $8, and comparable jammies sell for $12, so that's a $4 savings.

Another $186 and I'll have balanced out the purchase of the serger.

Better than the monetary savings? The joy found in a custom set of tractor jammies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tractor Jammies!

Max loves tractors. (his Papa therefore has the coolest job ever since he works at a tractor store)

When out and about recently I found an XXXL t-shirt with tractors all over it. The image was a bit too big to make the front of a toddler size shirt without cutting it down - so I folded the image to fall on the side seam and let it wrap around to the back. That left the entire back of the original shirt to make matching pants.

He insisted on wearing the top the next day too. We eventually convinced him to take it off...

Yes, he wears a night cap. :) His idea.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Air Circulation

Yay for cup hooks and bungee cords!
Our back room has a separate heater installed (our house is old, so not all of the rooms are on the main heating system). I keep it turned up to a toasty 72 since my lovebirds live back there, and Auzzie is an old man-birdy and deserves toasty. That results in a very warm back room and a normal rest of the house... except for the side room that's between the rest of the house and the back room. The side room gets chilly in the winter and hot in the summer because even though both interior doorways are very large (4.5' and 6' wide), air just doesn't move like I want it to.

Until now.

After staring at the problem for a while and a few other attempts, I now have air circulation. It's not a pretty solution, but it certainly works. The fan blows the warm air from the back room into the side room, and I can feel air flow all the way into the dining room! So long, stale winter air!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Easy Ginger Soy Carrots

Max has been requesting veggies lately - he's such a good boy. :)

These carrots were super quick and super easy!

Easy Ginger Soy Carrots

1 cup chopped carrots
1 packet soy sauce (or 2tsp)
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp minced ginger
pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and microwave for about a minute to warm the carrots up a bit. Stir again and enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Garlic Bulbils!

cluster of bulbils
Yes, bulbil is a real word - bulbils are the itty bitty bulbs that grow on the top of the garlic plant. Most people toss them or eat them (they are garlicky), but did you know that you can plant them and get more garlic?

Dry the bulbils out a bit (I just left mine on the kitchen counter for a month or so). Split up the bulbils and plant them about 1" deep in loose soil in the garden or potting mix in a pot in the fall just like your regular garlic. Then next fall dig up your little bulbs! You can use the mini-bulbs, or you can split them up and replant the cloves to get bigger bulbs next year - rinse and repeat for another season and by the end of it you'll have a plethora of full size garlic.

Yeah, it's long term... but it's fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shortcut Stir Fry

I admit it: I hate chopping vegetables. I really do. I'm starting to come to terms with this. It seems like a waste to pay extra for already chopped vegetables from the store, but when it means that we then eat less vegetables because I can't stand chopping that's just silly. So, I'm sucking it up and buying pre-chopped.

And it's awesome.

Matchstick carrots are way easier for Max to handle, and they're much easier to use for cooking.

And now I'm going to blow your mind: coleslaw mix is essentially stir fry vegetables. Yeah, I know. Now go to the prepared salad section of your grocery store and look. There's traditional coleslaw mix which is heavy on the cabbage, then there's broccoli slaw mix which is a base of broccoli instead of cabbage.

Now take a bag home, steam it, do a quick toss in the pan and add some sauce (make your own or grab some prepared from the store), and you have quick and easy stir fry. Add marinated, chopped (and cooked of course) meat and you have a great meal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY Pumpkin Coffee

I'm a genius - I made my own pumpkin flavored coffee.

You may think I'm being a little dramatic (genius and all), but I LOVE pumpkin coffee, and when it goes away around December I wait in longing all year long for it to return in October. So this was a major breakthrough for me.

And it's so simple.

Mix 1-2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1-2 tsp each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice) with 2 cups ground coffee. Prepare your coffee as normal and be amazed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Make a Lego Costume

legos love cookies
Yeah, it's been done before - but here's how I did it. And, frankly, I like mine better. It's easier to get on and off with velcro and straps (seriously, who thought that a toddler would like having their arms and head shoved through holes in a box?) and allows for more freedom of movement.

Materials: (less than $10)
A box (two if you want a hat too)
4-6 disposable soup cups
Hot glue gun
Spray paint (primer too)
Ribbon or woven strap material

Start with a box that will fit around your child, with room for a jacket if you live in cold climates. Cut the flaps off so it's open on the ends. Then cut a semi-circle at the underarm area. Hot glue the soup cups on the box in a grid so it looks like a lego. Then take it outside and spray paint it. I found that a primer really helped for even coverage and so I didn't have to do 5 coats of orange (just two coats).

position the cups and glue (this is the hat)

If you're doing a hat, start with a small box and either cut off the flaps on one end or tuck them inside, then glue 2 soup cups on top and paint.

Cut straps to fit over your child's shoulders. Hot glue the straps to the back, then glue velcro on the front end of the straps and the box.

add the straps and velcro
Now go dress up your little lego!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Cookie Monster Cake!

I just had to brag a little bit - I made a Cookie Monster cake for Max's birthday this summer (again, I re-found it recently).

I used a round bowl as the "pan" for the head and a sheet pan for the body. I arranged it all on a cookie sheet, cut the shoulders down, made a slit for the mouth, and frosted accordingly. Instead of buying black frosting for the mouth and eyes, I used chocolate sprinkles. Add a cookie in the mouth, and viola!

Not bad for a last minute assembly (that morning!).