From My Sewing Basket

A pair of pants to hem, a button to fix, a hole to repair in a sock. I don’t know about you, but my sewing basket always has something in it to fix. And some things have been in it for YEARS!

One day, instead of mindlessly wasting my morning surfing statuses online, I decided to fix whatever was in my sewing basket that I was putting off.

I have a black, double-breasted peacoat that I stuck in my sewing basket 2 years ago simply because all three big, gold, buttons fell off. Before I put it in the basket for fixing I was holding the coat closed with my hands like a bathrobe and that really wasn’t working.

With my two cuddly companions keeping me company, in 15 minutes I had all 3 buttons sewn back on and re-enforced so they wouldn’t ever come off again. Viola!  It was like having a new coat!

Also in the basket were tons of pairs of socks with holes in the toes. Not the heel but the toe. They are perfectly good socks but they must rub just right in my sneakers because all of them had a hole in the same spot. My husband says I need to cut my toenails more often but I laugh and say that’s not why.

I spent that evening repairing the holes in six pairs of socks and put them right back into service. Heck at $15 a pair it’s worth repairing them instead of throwing them out, right?

Lastly I have a red, half zip, collared, cable knit sweater that would be my greatest challenge so I saved it for last. In fact I didn’t even know if I could repair it.

My skills in sewing are limited. I cross-stitch and can repair small things but I don’t know how to sew much beyond that and have only used a sewing machine a couple of times.

This sweater was completely shredded and ripped unevenly in the arm pit. Don’t ask me how it got that way because I have no idea. I like wearing it for work because it’s warm, but it got embarrassing having a gigantic hole in my arm pit so I benched it into the black hole of my sewing basket more than a year ago.

It took me a while. About 45 minutes but I did get it repaired. It isn’t perfect but I got it closed the best I could. Hey it’s a work sweater. I beat the heck out of my clothes at work so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

So to recap. Instead of throwing perfectly good clothes out, I repaired a coat, a sweater and six pairs of socks. That’s got to be about $150 I saved!

Also I wasn’t on the Internet or Facebook or in any other way connected to the cyber world while doing it. That made me feel wonderful!

Ok folks admit it. You’ve got stuff you have been putting off because you say you don’t have the time. However, you have time to check out your Facebook news feed or read what Kylie Jenner is wearing on an airplane or how Mariah screwed up on New Years Eve, right? I know, I am guilty too. It’s so easy to get distracted and lose an hour on the computer.

Now when I start to lose my personal focus I just ask myself “what else should I be doing?” Works every time! There is always something that needs to be done.

What have you been putting off? I bet there is something. -MM

Love with Food Gift Subscriptions

Have you ever been in the situation where you have absolutely no idea what to get someone for a gift?

My Step-Daughter and her boyfriend live in Boise, Idaho. Being over 2000 miles away from us in Western NY, we haven’t had a chance to visit them yet.

Not knowing much about their life makes it hard to pick the perfect Christmas gift for them because, heck – I don’t even know the color of their bathroom!

I was mindlessly searching Amazon.com two weeks before Christmas and an idea came to me. I remembered my parents getting a fruit of the month subscription as a Christmas gift one year from my grandparents. Getting stuff in the mail was super cool back in 1985 and I couldn’t wait to see what was in that box, which came the first week of every month for a year.

I searched the Internet for “Of The Month Subscriptions” and an article published by Real Simple magazine called, “20 Surprising Subscription Box Ideas” caught my eye.

The usual Beer of the Month, Coffee of the Month and Tea of the Month were on their list but we couldn’t afford $35-50 dollars a month for a year and I wanted to get them a subscription that lasted longer than three months.

Then I saw that they included a subscription box idea for a company called Love with Food.

Love with Food is a California based company that sells snacks that are good for you. Every month they send a box that contains 6 to 8 snack samples and the monthly subscriptions start at just $7.99! Woo hoo! AND Love with Food also donates a portion of the proceeds to a local food bank for every month you subscribe. Even better right? Plus they have a gluten-free snack box option and ship worldwide.

I am not in the habit of doing a lot of promoting on my blog but it was so nice to find a gift that can be given and received all year long and at a very reasonable price to boot!

I’ll post this link to Love with Food so you can check it out for yourself. Love with Food

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and here’s to an exciting 2017! -MM

 

 

How to Decorate Christmas Cutouts

For almost a decade I have been decorating Christmas cutouts with colorful glazes and a piping bag.

Traditionally, cutouts are decorated using royal icing and a technique known as “flooding”. Flooding is time consuming, tedious and very tiring on your poor fingers and hands.

I decorate hundreds of dozens of Christmas cutouts every year and instead of using royal icing I find that making a glaze of confectioner’s sugar, milk and a flavoring like vanilla or almond extract works almost as well and is much less time consuming.

To finish the cutouts and bring out fine details, I use a pastry bag and pipe on buttercream frosting which I think makes for a very tasty and beautiful cookie.christmas-cookies

In the You Tube links below I show you how I decorate my cookies and also how to package them so they don’t crush. Hope you enjoy these videos. Happy decorating! -MM

Christmas Cookie Decorating Part 1

Christmas Cookie Decorating Part 2

Christmas Cookie Decorating Part 3

Christmas Cookie Decorating Part 4

Packaging Christmas Cookies

The Typewriter

typewriterI found my grandmother’s old manual typewriter in the attic one day and dragged it out of the case. I set it on the table and started typing. I noticed it needed a new ribbon so I hopped on Amazon and ordered a new one. Within 2 days I was typing my recipe cards on an old typewriter with a brand spanking new ribbon. It took me an hour to type just two recipe cards. Where the heck is the number 1 key? Where is the exclamation point?

After a little research I found that the manufacturer eliminated keys they found were redundant. In other words the number 1 and exclamation point could be made with other keys so they didn’t add them to the machine in order to keep manufacturing costs down. The exclamation point could be made by typing an apostrophe and then backspacing and typing a period. Easy right? The number 1 stumped me though. I couldn’t figure out how to type a 1. The upper case and lower case I’s didn’t work. The upper case L didn’t look right either. I looked at one of the recipe cards my grandmother had typed and bingo, it was a lower case L (l).

I get a lot of flack for even mentioning that I like using my old manual typewriter. “Why would you want to do that?” and “don’t you own a computer?” seem to be the common questions.

I love this typewriter. I love the sounds the keys make and the ding of the bell and the clicking sounds the shift and space bars make. I love that before computers and laptops and WiFi, typewriters like the one I own, were carried by their owners safely inside their carrying cases to report on the wars and conflicts and current news of our nation at the time. I love that someone I know owned and typed on this very machine and I love that over 60 years later you can still buy a ribbon for it!

Yes, you really have to push down hard on the keys but it doesn’t need electric to work and after some practice I am now able to type a recipe in about 5 minutes. Much better than an hour right?

I know people think I am nuts and I am fine with that. There is a lot of meaning in this old machine for me and that’s all that matters.

Have you ever typed on a manual typewriter? I would love to hear your stories. -MM

Parsley and Sage

Historically herbs have been used not only to add flavor to food but also to preserve and for medicinal purposes. Another passion of mine is the use of herbs. I have started to research the use of herbs for digestion and anxiety and cold and flu. I struggled this summer to find herb plants to purchase locally for my garden so for next summer I will either grow the plants I want from seed myself or buy them organically online from a reputable grower.

We had a fantastic year in our herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow plus animals leave them alone and they are virtually unaffected by insects.

Last week I cut a huge amount of parsley, sage and celery from the garden. I don’t really consider celery an herb but this variety produces more leaves than stalk so I dry and grind the leaves into a powder and use the powder to flavor all kinds of dishes including soups.

Take a look at my 6 foot island covered in what I cut. Keep in mind the amount of sage I cut was from one single plant and the celery and parsley were from only 6 plants. Wow huh?!

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It took me several hours to carefully look all the leaves over and remove them from the stems and clean them. About 6 hours in fact. But I enjoyed watching “Hot in Cleveland” on my phone while I picked.

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After the drying process in my dehydrators I ran all of the dried leaves through my mini chopper and got an entire quart of parsley and more than a pint of sage. I still haven’t finished the celery.

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I know you’re thinking I could have purchased dried parsley and sage from the grocery store and saved myself a lot of time and they wouldn’t have cost that much. Yep I could have. However those herbs wouldn’t be as fresh and Lord knows where those herbs are grown or under what conditions. I don’t mind the work. I enjoy it and other than the initial cost of a few bucks they are free. Also keep in mind I have been cutting the herbs all Spring, Summer and Fall and the sage is a perennial and the parsley reseeds itself. It’s definitely the gifts that keeps on giving.

For me this is “Old Ways meets New Ways” because I produced my own herbs (old) and entertained myself watching “Hot in Cleveland” (new). I love Betty White.

Do you preserve your own herbs?

-MM

 

Old School Address Book

This week started off badly. On Monday morning Doug missed the bus so I got to work an hour late and as I was getting out of the car to go into the building I realized I had forgotten my cell phone on the desk at home. GASP! This day was not starting out well. To add to that my store is going through a major renovation and the contractors are now working in my area of the store ripping and tearing.

Missed bus + no cell phone + renovations and mess = major eye twitch!

The entire day I was constantly wanting to check a cell phone that wasn’t there. Has this ever happened to you? I hate it. I hate that a cell phone is a drug for me. Truly. I want to drop kick it over a cliff. But I can’t. I don’t have a house phone anymore.

Ok, I said to myself so no one will bother me that’s all. No texts, no updates, no notifications and no phone calls equals peace and quiet and high productivity for the day right?

Yeah right. What I came to realize was I actually use that cell phone for more than just Facebook.

I use it as a watch. I use it as a calculator. I also use it to call my son after school to see how his day went. But hey, I can use the store phone to call him right? Wrong. I don’t even know his freakin’ phone number! I just usually push the button on my cell phone for the last time I called him and it dials it for me. Ugh.

So I called my husband from the store phone and sheepishly asked for Doug’s phone number. I felt like such a schmuck.

This is where old ways and new ways collide for me. They don’t print actual phone books anymore. I couldn’t have simply looked Doug’s phone number up in a printed phone book because there is no such thing now and his number is not a land-line.

Twenty years ago I knew everyone’s phone numbers by heart. I had to physically dial them for one thing. No pushing a button and it dials it for you. Everyone had a land line so the phone numbers all started with the same three digits and if you didn’t know the number you looked it up in a phone book that had three counties worth of numbers in it. People also kept a personal, hand written address/phone book in their desk or purse as well.

We count on our cell phones too much. My husband Scott shattered his phone (I really need to pay for the extra insurance next time if you know what I mean) and instead of taking it to a professional to have the glass replaced he decided to take a stab at replacing it himself. So with a replacement glass in hand and a handy dandy You-Tube video in front of him he gave it a go. Unfortunately it was much harder than he anticipated and after 30 minutes of tiny glass shards flying and burning his hand with the hair dryer he gave up. What was really unfortunate was he just threw the phone out. To add to that he didn’t have a clue what his user name and password were to retrieve his contacts in Google. He had hundreds of contacts in his old phone that are now permanently lost. Not to mention the photos.

Photos is another post in the future but the lesson for all of us here is that having a written back-up somewhere is not a bad thing. Yes it is old school but I plan on keeping a little address book in my purse from now on just in case. It won’t be all of the numbers I have in my phone, just the most important numbers like family numbers, school, the vet, stuff like that.

Look at this super cool Norman Rockwell inspired address book. I think I am going to see if Santa will leave it in my stocking this year. -MM

address-book

 

 

 

 

How Do I Get So Much Done?

Right now I am reading the Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder series and am currently on book 6. The old ways fascinate me. Believe me I won’t be giving up modern conveniences like proper healthcare, electricity, flushing toilets or hot showers any time ever, but I wouldn’t mind giving up cell phones and Facebook or even car payments for a while.

So many people ask me, “How do you have time for so many things and still work full time?” The answer? I don’t waste my time on Facebook all day. How many hours in your day are you wasting taking silly tests and looking at profiles of people you don’t even know? How about the 10,000 memes a day you have to wade through on your newsfeed just to get to one decent post that actually means something to you?

Let me ask you a question. What did you do with your time before the internet and cell phones and social media? Me personally? I can tell you I was a whole lot more productive that’s for sure. I actually cleaned my house for one thing and ran errands every Saturday from 8 am until noon after which I would come home and make myself lunch and watch the Victory Garden on PBS. I had a day of the week I grocery shopped and a specific night where I sat down in my cozy apartment kitchen and had enough money to enjoy paying our bills. I also hand wrote the envelopes and signed the checks to pay those bills instead of mindlessly using the bill pay option on my bank’s website.

We’ve lost the enjoyment of accomplishing things with our hands and millennials in particular have convinced us we need to do everything with the click of a mouse.

After writing an email to Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch I have a new perspective on how I want this blog to represent me. He asked me in his return email what I hope to accomplish with my blog. I thought long and hard about that question from him and I think I finally know what I want to accomplish with my writing. I want to educate, inspire and reveal to you that a combination of old and new ways can be more satisfying than you ever thought possible. I have a feeling that many of my friends and acquaintances are unsatisfied and unfulfilled in their lives but have no idea why. I know that I have been unfulfilled and unsatisfied because I have let the old me go and the unproductive new me take the forefront.

I hope you will join me on this journey of finding that balance between old ways and new ways. I know this may sound a little vague but you’ll understand more as you read future posts.

Thank you to Anthony Ongaro, who I greatly admire for his writings on the buying and social media rut we have found ourselves in, for his question of what I want to accomplish in my writing. If you would like to read some of Anthony’s writings or watch his podcasts please feel free to check him out Anthony Ongaro www.breakthetwitch.com.

-MM

 

 

 

Garden Goals

I wrote a post at the beginning of the season before I knew how this summer would turn out listing what I hoped to get planted and successfully raise and preserve.

It’s been an interesting summer. One of the hottest and driest on record here in Western NY with 20 days over 90 degrees and very, very little in the way of precipitation.

I really got sick of watering my garden and so did everyone else. It was hard for me to enjoy going outside because I actually prefer colder temps so hubby and I spent most of the summer in our air conditioned bedroom binge watching Netflix and Hulu.

One part of my list of goals was to add to my herb collection with not only more cooking herbs but with medicinal herbs as well. Unfortunately though I had a difficult time finding most of these herbs at my local green houses. Even common herbs like lemon balm were not available. I was a little frustrated. Next year I plan on growing my own either from seed or from plants that I get from catalogs. That should do the trick right?

Another difficulty this year was late in the spring we had a major frost where the temps got down to 28 degrees or so. This frost doomed our fruit trees. No peaches, apricots, cherries, or pears this year. The apples produced fruit but they are very small and damaged beyond repair from the drought. Bummer huh? Thank the Lord we do not depend on them for our winter food supply like they would have in the past. We can buy canned apple sauce if we have to. (Not that i’m going to but you know what I mean).

Our goal this year was to not buy any bulk fruits and veggies from any outside farmers. I wanted to raise and preserve what we needed ourselves or get it free by trading. What a year to start this journey!

With all that said I didn’t get everything planted that I wanted nor did our fruit trees produce for us. However, amazingly by God’s wonderful blessing we really did have everything we needed and I have gotten a lot preserved despite the rough conditions.

Here is a review of our summer goals list:

Herbs we grew

Chives, garlic, cilantro, lavender,  basil, parsley,  purslane, sage, and dandelion. All we preserved either by drying, freezing or using fresh. I made the most fantastic dandelion jelly. We loved it so much I will make much more than one batch next year. I just planted garlic a couple of days ago so we will be swimming in garlic scapes and bulbs come next spring.

Veggies we planted and harvested

Sweet peppers, onions, shallots,  bush green beans, peas, beets, carrots, pumpkins, gourds, zucchini,  watermelons, tomatoes both paste and regular, celery and jalapenos. That was not a lot of variety for us but we will expand more next year.

Our red raspberries produced a bumper crop and we do have some grapes.

What we have preserved so far

Canned chili sauce, crushed tomatoes and vegetable soup, dandelion jelly, strawberry jam, frozen red raspberries and wild black raspberries, frozen beet greens and frozen chives and frozen green peppers. I made a big pot of chili with all of our garden harvests and used our venison sausage from November hunting season as the meat for it. I also stuffed the jalapenos with the sausage and some cream cheese and popped them in the freezer so we can have them for appetizers at our winter get togethers. I had the dehydrator going with basil, sage, celery leaves, dandelion flowers and lavender. I also made and froze pesto.

Luckily we still have grape juice, grape jelly, peach jam, peach pie filling and canned peaches left over from last year so that should really help.

I still have more to go but it’s a start. I’ll update you as autumn progresses. How did your summer go? What did you get preserved? -MM

Busy Summer at the Bakery

It’s been so busy for me this summer that I haven’t had much time to post. I have tons of stuff to write about and have been taking lots of photos so hopefully once Doug is back in school next week I can have more uninterrupted time to write.

At the bakery this summer we have had many bridal and baby showers, birthdays, weddings and even two local large business anniversaries.

Here are some photos of the projects I have worked on this summer.

Genesee Community College celebrated 50 years this year! A picture of the cake was even front and center in an article by the local news page.

Another local business celebrating this year was Genesee Country Village and Museum with 40 years. It was cake for 1000 people! Five cakes actually.

Tons of birthday cakes this summer too.

We had lots of graduations.

Some special occasion cakes.

Baby showers galore!

And a few weddings…

As you can see I have been super busy this summer!

How about you? How has your summer been? -MM

It’s Been a While

My last blog post was all about forward focusing my brain and actions towards specific goals. It was about spending less time looking at my phone and not mindlessly browsing the Internet.

During my forward focus in the last couple of months I have seriously  been struggling with a lot of things at home and at work. Personally there have been too many days where I have wanted to dump my life altogether and retreat to a cabin in the woods.

After a lot of self analysis I have come to the conclusion that we as humans not only worry too much (myself included) but at the end of the day we just don’t feel fulfilled.

I am tired of meetings. There I said it.

If it is not myself then it is my husband with a meeting EVERY SINGLE DAY. We don’t see each other really at all and when we do see each other we are tired and cranky and just want to do nothing.

I keep thinking my job is the real culprit. “If I could just quit my job and stay home I would be happier” I say to myself.

But after really thinking about my life and other people’s lives I think “yeah but everybody I know works and they seem to be happy.”

I think the real problem, in my case at least, is that I am never really at home doing what I want to do.

My hubby and I over-commit ourselves and not with family outings and hobby kind of stuff either. He and I are capable people and because we are capable people we get asked to join lots of community groups and be members of church boards and such.

Here is a list of my community commitments:

Rotary Member, Rotary Board Member, Chair of Trustees for First Baptist, Choir Member, Pulpit Committee Member for FBC, Sunday School Teacher for FBC, Lead Women’s Bible Study at FBC, Director of our Farmers Market.

Here is a list of my Hubby’s community commitments:

Little League Announcer, Historical Society Board Member, Deacon at FBC, Bus Driver for FBC, Choir Member, Men’s Breakfast Host, Head of Ushers for FBC, On-Site Manager for Farmers Market.

This list does not even include all of the events we each chair or participate in either!

Don’t get me wrong. We love the things we do but I think we really need time for ourselves. My son is going into 9th grade and I want to spend the next 4 years watching him. Watching him at his games and watching him mature into a handsome, sweet, witty young man. I want to write and teach and take care of my badly neglected home duties.

Is that too much to ask?

Quite a few things will be off my plate at the end of the year and for that I am grateful. I do not intend to add anything more unless I have a true passion for it. I even intend to stop some of these commitments altogether.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Sometimes I feel like I am but I am sure I am not the only one.

What about you? Have you been feeling like your life is too crazy too? Let me know what you think.

-MM

 

 

One Hundred Dollars a Month

I am your typical housewife living in high maintenance suburbia. I have a handsome husband, 2 kids and a flock of pet chickens. I try and feed my family with $100 a month. With the help of coupons, gardening and bartering I am able to squeeze the most out of our grocery budget and still manage to have a little fun along the way.

Gardening Nirvana

Sharing my journey in and out of the garden

The Snail of Happiness

small steps to a kinder world

Cocktails In The Library

Talking about great books while enjoying tasty libations!

Autumn Leaves & A Spring Breeze

Leading a happy and sustainable lifestyle

Midwest mattie

just living my best life in the midwest.

Sewing Beside the Sea

All things made with my needle and thread

thecraftycreek

Making and creating

Sewing Etc.

Sharing my adventures in sewing and needlearts

Debt Free Hopeful

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” — Maya Angelou

theuntoldblogofeli

Outrageous mama saying Fuck It

The Journey to a Debt-Free Life

Reshaping your Financial Future

Cottage Garden Trio

The daily life and times of a thirty something couple and their toddler

McMuffins Gaming

From the Mind of a Gamer

Claire93's Blog

my little corner in blogland

Ever The Crafter

She, ever the crafter, kept on crafting

Emma's Craft Projects

Everyday craft inspirations

Bake. Make. Take (a trip!)

Celebrating the "funner" things in life...

Peas Romaine Calm

A simple, easy & cost effective approach to cooking!

life on less

living life with less debt

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