02 June 2015

Keep Calm Craft On (Crafting On) ~ 2 June 2015

Nicole hosts Keep Calm Craft On over at her blog, Frontier Dreams.  Here's my contribution for the week - a Gramps sweater (pattern from Tin Can Knits) for Bub! 

Now I'm off to check out what everyone else is working on before I start a few more rows of stockinette.  I'm almost done with the yoke now - hopefully by next week I'll show you a sweater divided for sleeves!

01 June 2015

Last Month's Frugal Accomplishments ~ 1 June 2015

Joining up with Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for frugal accomplishment time ~ since I've been on a blog sabbatical, this is a long-ish list that bounces around over more than a week.  I hope it inspires you the way her posts inspire me!  FYI: most of the links below are just that - links to useful things and companies I think are really neat-o.  My Ebates link is a referral/affiliate link; it is marked with an asterisk*.  I may receive a cash payment (from qualified referrals) on that link, but I make nothing off of the other links and have no business interests or attachments to them.  I just like 'em and think you might too!
  • Received a payment from a friend for some homeschool books - I used a portion of it to buy an e-book of "Scientist" shawl patterns on Ravelry, then applied the bulk of it to a bill.  
  • Used seeds purchased during past seasons' sales to start the bulk of our garden ourselves.  Most of it has come in, though we had a massive failure of beans and okra.  We've harvested several nights of salad from the lettuce, greens mix and spinach and I've done a second planting of those as well as a second sowing of pole beans that are coming up right as the first set has finally taken off.
  • We invested in more blueberry bushes and two colonnade apple trees, as well as a bunch of herbs, during a sale at a local, family-owned nursery.
  • Took advantage of a sale code at Handcrafted Honey Bee during her new product line release; I ordered the new facial masque powder and received a free set of her new lip balms.  I also ordered a family-size DIY deodorant kit on clearance.  It will make 6 deodorants, which will last me quite a while.  The order was over the minimum for free shipping, so that was covered as well.  Then the package came and OH my! Stacia was so kind as to include a free affirmation card, a sample bar of soap and mini vial of body oil from Cloud Nine Soap, and a sampler box of her other products!  Plus her beautiful packing job (or would that be BEE-youtiful?) was done with the most amazing honeybee tissue paper - which I saved for gift wrap (and to just look at "whenever" - happy sigh).
  • Downloaded a free editable high school transcript form for Chatty; asked for and received (heehee - get it?) a big D-ring binder from my folks' decluttering efforts.  The binder will hold all of the documentation for Chatty's next four years of high school homeschooling activities/lessons.  At this point she does not plan to attend college, but I will be tracking everything so that a transcript is created and available if needed for later schooling, employment, or the like. 
  • Found several adult continuing education courses through BYU's online program for Chatty to use as high school courses, such as bowling and intermediate swimming, as well as gardening and a civics class.
  • Cut peppermint, lemon balm and lemon verbena in the garden yesterday and ran them through the dehydrator overnight.  Bub was fascinated by the concept of sun tea, so I suspect there will be peppermint steeping in a jar today.  ;)
  • We will harvest sage, Italian parsley and Greek oregano today for drying.  I plan to bundle those and clip them to the small drying rack instead of using the electric dehydrator.
  • We've made an additional payment for our truck each month; it is about half of the payment we used to make on Manly's car, which was paid off last fall, and goes directly to the principal on the truck loan.
  • We went on a "yarn crawl" early in May and the yarn I purchased was specifically for useful things - either items I planned to make to serve needs I'd already identified for our family or yarn that could be knit up as gifts for others, using the free crawl patterns I received at the participating shops.  It also served as my Mother's Day and birthday gifts, saving Manly time and effort choosing something. It also served as a fun family outing as we all enjoyed perusing the shops, the scenic drive, and we toured a museum along the way that offered free admission.   At one of the shops, I won the daily drawing: a $35 gift certificate! The best part was the shop I won it from was the one I hoped most to go back to - and for Memorial Day she posted a military discount.  I printed my two favorite shawls from the new e-book (Tesla and Rosalind Franklin) and planned to wander the shop (to drool, of course LOL) but only purchase yarn that would work for those patterns.  I did exactly that and after the discount and gift certificate spent only $11 out of pocket for two shawls worth of local, hand-dyed yarn.
  • Got a "free" purse using Cabela's Bucks - the bag was on sale for half price and we had more than enough "bucks" on our account to purchase it.  The additional points went toward a dress Chatty found clearanced in the Bargain Cave.  (I say "free" purse because I, of course, understand that we spent other money previously to earn those bucks I spent.)  This bag is larger than my other purse, but allows me to use one section of it for small-to-medium sized knitting projects, eliminating carrying my big knitting bag AND my usual big purse to knit nights and on road trips.  I had two bags, one large and one medium, and will put the medium one out at an upcoming yard sale.
  • On my birthday, Manly was at a class and Chatty was at a dance rehearsal and matinee performance, so Bub, Miss Violet and I had a quiet day at home.  Bub and I made short work of the DVDs in our collection and have several dozen for sale.  We got rid of so many that we freed up two book-style DVD cases - one will go out for sale and I used the other to consolidate the few CDs we still have and save space there.  We opened up an entire shelf in our TV stand and I think we'll have a second shelf once Manly looks at the section I need his decision on.  The empty shelf will be used for storing canning supplies; the doors hide everything anyway, so why not use it for what we NEED instead of what we no longer WANT? :D
  • Our family attended Chatty's evening dance festival performance; tickets were given out free at church.  Bookly drove up from where she lives and brought Chatty pink chrysanthemums; her leaders gave each girl a lovely peach and yellow rose after the performance.  I showed her how to trim the stems and we put the flowers and their "food" in a big mason jar.  She asked to put them in the center of the dining table, which is fun for her and lovely for the rest of us as I don't buy cut flowers.
  • The sun has come around the past few weeks, so we took down our portable greenhouse and started using the retractable clotheslines.  Last week I was able to dry six loads of laundry and taught Chatty how to put her laundry up on the line, saving electricity for seven loads total.
  • Chatty planned to get rid of a set of leggings that were worn once but weren't comfortable - I snagged them to fill with beans or rice and use as draft blockers for the front door and interior garage door.
  • I sorted through our bookshelves and came up with two large stacks of books and curricula that will be listed on the base homeschool sale page, then put out at the yard sale.
  • Ordered vitamins from Vitamin Shoppe using a $15 off $100 coupon code, via Ebates*.  I was over $35 so it was free shipping.  We are stocked up again for several months and will get a little rebate in our Ebates account.  Now that sunny weather is here and we'll be outside more, we will drop down to a half-dose of vitamin D for a few months. 
  • Chatty used two Amazon gift cards from her birthday to order books and art supplies for $0 out of pocket.
  • I used our library's website to request a bunch of books and DVDs from my Amazon wishlist rather than potentially buying them later.  A lot of them have come in already, so we will pick them up this week on the day the farmers market opens for the season.  The farmers market is within walking distance of the library, so we can consolidate the errands to save diesel and get some exercise walking to and from the market after our library visit.
  • At the end of April I did a freezer inventory - I used free printables and my laminator to make reusable inventory sheets for the kitchen door and a weekly menu plan for the fridge door.  Rotating out the bulk of the items in our big chest freezer cleared room and saved us a bunch on groceries.
  • I am knitting Bub a sweater for fall using a free pattern and yarn purchased for the project at the end of last year.
  • We have received several utility rebates for using less electricity and natural gas than others in our neighborhood - each check was put in savings.
  • When shopping at the base stores, we have used cloth shopping bags, which gets us a nickel reusable bag credit on our purchase.  One manager had to force the register system to give the credit, and when I thanked her for doing so with the comment that every nickel adds up, she said "You'd be amazed at the number of people who say don't worry about it - and I'm thinking, 'It adds up! Let me get you your five cents!'"  She said that people often decline the free fruit she offers with cups of coffee too.  (Speaking of which - Manly is a coffee drinker and just found out that they do this; he's gotten two free bananas now when he's gone for coffee. LOL)
  • Renewed my Scholastic Book Club teacher account - because of their May promotion, I got 5x points, free shipping, and we received some free Pokemon stickers that Bub will enjoy.  My order included two school books for Chatty, a science kit for Bub (whose upcoming year will focus on the history of science), and our "want": the entire set of Harry Potter books, which are half off the cover price of the boxed set in stores.  My packing list included a coupon for June - we'll see if there's anything in the new catalogs that is on the Need list.
  • I received a birthday Amazon gift card from my in-laws.  I'm considering purchasing the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid mixer to cut back on ice cream purchases - not sure on that one just yet so it's sitting quietly in my account.  ;)

Okay, that's enough sharing - there were tons of other little things done just in May alone, but I know y'all want to get over and read what Brandy and the other folks are up to with their savings too. Thanks for stopping by ~ have a blessed day!

24 September 2014

Yarn & Books ~ 24 Sept 2014

My "distraction" set

I have two project piles going right now.  Sets, technically, because they are not "piled" anywhere.  The simple garter stitch scarf I started a little while back resides in its project bag.  The Art of Fermentation came from the library - we had a LEGO Club meeting yesterday and I grabbed a copy of it.  (I skimmed through a copy when we lived in Texas but I'd like to look at it again since I have sauerkraut almost ready and more cabbage to make another batch this week.  I think, ultimately, this will be a book I'll have to invest in as a textbook of sorts.  But for now, it is a good skim item in between other things.)  The new issue of PLY arrived in yesterday's mail, so it's another distraction thing.  The projects are well above my skill level, but the articles about history and ergonomics are excellent for me at this stage; I read it all, enjoy what I understand, and then set the issues aside on my fiber shelf for referring back to as I gain hands-on spinning skills.  So ~ that's my easy knitting and reading set for right now!

My "focused" set
This is my more difficult set of projects right now.  I did finally get the Taking It From the Top Cardi started for my niece.  I've had a few starts and stops where I've gotten confused; thankfully I'm blessed with a friend who is an experienced knitter AND can translate what I mean in my questions without being here in person to just look at it and explain.  I've already done several things in this pattern that I've never done before - so each new section is incredibly stressful at the beginning and extremely exciting when I complete it.  I'm into the second set of increases (for the button band, apparently) and I'm looking forward to getting to the "work even" section of the yoke.  Knit a row, purl a row - now THAT I understand!  ;)  I was telling Manly a few nights ago that I used to think purling was so annoyingly difficult because most of my work had been knit stitches or things like yarn overs that went from the same direction.  Now, with these new things coming at me, I'm thrilled to "just" purl and see why some ladies love it so much. 

The book is Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life.  It's the primary text I'm reading for a free college course on Laura Ingalls Wilder and her writing, particularly with the Little House series.  There's still time to join the course if you'd like, as it is self-paced and internet-based.  You'll need several books from the Little House series along with this title as the required reading list; the instructor has a few other recommended titles that she considers to be helpful as well.  (There's also a lovely file chock full of links to websites, museum information, and a lengthy book list for further research.)  There are also other free courses available, all hosted on Canvas, so I'll direct this link to their course catalog so you can browse.

We've got a doozy of a storm front coming through right now and internet is squidgy yet again.  I'm going to come back in and post links for you all after I at least try to get this saved and posted.  I'm (hopefully!) joining Ginny for Yarn Along, Nicole for Keep Calm Craft On (YES - words of wisdom today haha), and Tami for WIP Wednesdays.  Pop on by and see them too.  The folks who share on their pages do lovely work!

08 September 2014

Last Week's Frugal Accomplishments ~ 8 Sept 2014

Joining Brandy at The Prudent Homemaker for a little breakdown.  Not as much to share this week, but some fun things, for sure.

  • Found seasons three and four of Downton Abbey on DVD at the base library.  I wasn't too concerned about keeping up as I'd read some spoilers at another blog to get the basics, and I was unwilling to buy the DVDs or try to buy it all on iTunes.  Then I saw the trailer for season five and thought I'd really like to see it at some point, so I'd better catch up.  I checked at the library off-base and I could place holds, but I'd have been number 50 for season three and number 255 for season four.  I was willing to wait, but thought I'd give the base library a try as I knew they had season three previously.  The kids and I popped in and I spotted seasons two, three, and four on the shelf!  I grabbed the two I needed and Manly and I watched them for a marathon through the weekend while the children were away.  Pleasant surprise: he was interested in watching them with me so it did make a nice free alternative to a movie or something.
  • Our weekend was actually due to a cancellation - we were scheduled to attend a homesteading intensive with the school that did the kids' wilderness camps this summer.  Unfortunately they didn't have enough sign-ups for the adult weekend, so they transferred our deposit to pay the kids' camp fee.  My folks still watched the kids (it's such a blessing to be in the same place as my folks for now!) and we ran a few errands and watched Downton.  Obviously we're disappointed the class wasn't a go, but technically it's a savings.  We hope to attend one next year instead.
  •  Harvested a few tomatoes, green beans, and eggplant from the garden.  It looks like the pickling cukes are almost done and the green beans might not have much longer to produce.  The peas are starting to grow better now that the weather is cooling off more and I've got seeds to put in for more peas, plus spinach, lettuce, kale and a few other cool weather crops.  Some were purchased a few years back on sale and a few were purchased recently in an end of summer sale from Renee's Garden.  (Those arrived late last week.)
  • Returned the glass milk bottle and other reusable supplies for cold items that come from our CSA - there is a $5 deposit, so that was credited to our account for last week's delivery.
  • Purchased four cabbage starts at the farm and garden shop for $1 each.  They have their fall items coming up now and the cabbage moths got the bulk of the leaves, so they discounted a bunch of the cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts.  They still look healthy enough and hopefully will do well for us as we'd like to have some to make more sauerkraut with.
  • Got a surprise discount on cabbage at the farmers market.  I didn't realize they closed as early as they do, so we moseyed around, had a late lunch, and then we saw vendors starting to pack up.  When we stopped back by to grab the cabbage heads, the vendor weighed them and said they were supposed to be $2 a pound, which would have made them $10, but he said "How about $7?"  That was a nice treat and I'll get the first attempt at sauerkraut going today.
  • The Master Recycler Composter class I'd applied for turned out to be cancelled due to lack of applications. (Not my fall, apparently! LOL)  I was so worried I wouldn't get a slot because I'm not a resident of that county, and here they didn't have enough people to justify a training.  Bummer, but it does save me the $80 class fee.  
  • Went into our bank account on the weekend and saw an odd charge - discussed it with Manly and found it was fraudulent, not a purchase he'd made or I'd forgotten.  He called the bank immediately and they blocked everything else coming in. This is the third time in less than two years; so scary!  Our bank is so good about it though - they immediately froze the debit card and will get a new one out and we'll get that charge refunded after they investigate it.  I finally realized it's best for me to go get one of those rechargeable gift cards for anything we need to buy online - I just wish I'd thought of it the first time around!  I'll do that on payday.  Spotting the charge saved us from anything else coming in, at least; the first time this happened the thief had made $700 worth of purchases before I happened to go into the account and almost sunk us for the month as we had more bills then.  Scary, scary.
  • After our library trip last week, we stopped at the PX.  I found Chatty some clothes for fall/winter on clearance.
  • Used caught rain water to water some plants in the garden. 
  • My mom passed on a big bag of notebook sheet protectors that I'll use for organizing articles I've saved on gardening and homesteading.  She also gave me two large D-ring binders from her own decluttering work for storing them.  I had used up what I had on knitting patterns so now I won't have to buy more page protectors just yet.
  • Did not get to take advantage of a big sale over at Chelsea Green Publishers this weekend due to my card issue - I suppose I ended up saving that way with a frozen card?  haha  (I know I could have used Manly's or our credit card but just felt it better to not make a purchase at that point.  Too creepy.)
I think that's about it.  Wishing you all a lovely week!

03 September 2014

Current Project and Book ~ 3 Sept 2014

This perfect color matching made me chuckle!

I've been reading all kinds of permaculture books from the library lately - a bit of a break from all the bee books I had been absorbed in.  Now I'm down to the last two books in the library stack (GASP!) and I switched back to bees for the next read.  My dear friend Harriette has been recommending Robbing the Bees to me for months and I'm excited to have found this copy before our library branch closed down for an almost month-long remodel!  I'll be delving into a permaculture book after it though.  ;)

Project-wise I'm trying to work my way through my stash and my Ravelry queue and honestly, I'm procrastinating on the baby sweater.  Er.  Hey, full disclosure.  So I finished up the wide scarf that I had on the knitting board and got it bound off yesterday.  We were in the car a while yesterday while doing some registration things from moving, so I brought a hank of yarn and cast on a skinny scarf as well.  It's stash yarn that I'd put in a sell or trade bag, which also puts it aside for donation projects.  When I finish one item to be donated, I'll just grab a new skein and start another scarf.  The wide scarf is shorter and the Bamboo Ewe "Mercury" has a nice sheen without being too shiny, so I think it will make some man a nice neckwarmer under their coat.  I had Manly try it on as he has a very sturdy build, and I think it'll work nicely. (I realized I was trying the length around my neck, which might not be "dude" sized.  LOL)  So that's one more for the donation bag and another in the works.  Woohoo!

I really really really will do my test swatch for the baby sweater this week.  The kids will be at Gramma and Grampa's for part of the weekend so I'll take advantage of the quiet until Manly gets home from work to do that.  We're attending a couple of events sponsored by the local Transition Town group so I know no one will be offended if I show up to a seminar with handknits in, um, hand.

Joining Nicole for KCCO, Ginny for Yarn Along and Tami for WIP Wednesday today.  Do stop by and visit them too!