Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Downside of DIY

A couple of weeks ago ... someone asked me about my kitchen remodel.


Can I cry????

I am in the midst of dreaming about pretty and having to deal with the practical.

A Wants vs. Needs War is going on in my head!

What I want ............

photo from American Standard

What I need ......... a kitchen faucet that doesn't freeze when we get a bitterly cold south wind.

What I want ..........

What I need is a 200 amp service so my house doesn't burn down when I am plugging in all these appliances!!!

It is soooo easy for me to dream of a beautiful shiny new kitchen in the heat of the summer.  But when the harshness of winter slaps me across the face, reality has to come into play.

Yea .... it is all about the priorities.

First ..... a new kitchen window has to be installed.  Custom-made, solid wood (no vinyl or aluminum trim) -- the window is finally completed (after 4 months!)  and sitting in the living room ... waiting for warm weather for installation. 

Kind of like me. ;)

There is a lot of good news/ bad news with this window.  Because it is a smaller window ... I will gain more wall space for cabinets.  Because it is a smaller window, a new window frame has to be built and plaster work that has to be done before new cabinets go up.

Second .... a new/old door.  We found a double tombstone door at ReStore.  It was a bargain at $22.00.  Solid wood ... beautiful.  It matches the living room door and the door into the Summer Kitchen.  And it is the same height as the other doors in the kitchen, the living room door and matches the height of the windows.  Unfortunately, it doesn't match the height of the current door!  So a new door frame has to be built, adjustments to the new storm door have to be made ..... and again, more plaster work.

And third, work on the exterior has to continue.  If I can get the house sealed up .... we will use less propane, save money and prevent pipes from freezing.  More new siding, tar paper and custom storm windows need to come before cabinets and tin ceilings.

There!!  It is in writing.

Those things have to come first.

But they take three things ..... time, money and warmer weather. 

sigh ......

But I really want this!!!

Maybe if I keep repeating ..........

Window.  Door.  Siding. 
Window.  Door.  Siding.
Window.  Door.  Siding.

sigh .....

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Crafty, Crafty, Crafty!!

Remember that garbage bag commercial???  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy!  Hefty, hefty, hefty!

Well .... at our house it has been Crafty, crafty, crafty!

OK -- I am the wimp and I hate to go out in the winter.  I am becoming more and more of a homebody and I hate to leave.

I am trying to force myself to go out more .... and hopefully, not fall on my a**!

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Crafting at the Convent.  And as always ..... I thought about staying home.  And as always ..... I had an awesome time!!!

I really did not feel like I accomplished as much as I should have.  But I did work on a few things.

I started these on Saturday evening and completed them when I was watching Downton Abbey on Sunday night.  They are a lovely hand-painted merino and silk yarn that I picked up in Mineral Point.  I really wanted them for myself but they are a little big for my hands so I think they will go into the Summer Kitchen.

I worked on this penny rug.

I had embroidered it with regular embroidery floss and decided that it just didn't cut it.  So I frogged the embroidery floss and did the blanket stitch with pearl cotton.  Much nicer!

It will have red wool berries around the sheep's neck and then pennies bordering the black mat.  I still have a lot of work to do.  But I am excited to get a penny rug or two done for the house.  They are the perfect match for our taste in primitive furniture.

In the tea towel division of Miss Eff's Compulsive Crafting Conundrum (So many crafts, soooo little time!! And I got to use the word conundrum!)  I made these tea towels for the shop.

This has always been one of my favorites.  And the only project I actually started and finished completely at the convent.

So I came home with determination to get more done!!!

This tea towel for the shop helped improve my eyesight!

I did work on things for our house  Us!!!  Yes!!  These will be ours and ours alone!

First of all .......... remember this quilt kit???

Yea ... you thought it was still sitting in the bag ... keeping company with the many other projects I have bought in the past and haven't started .................yet.


Well .......... look at this.

I have all the horizontal rows stitched.

I just need a day to spend with my enabler.  ;)

It will be the perfect lap throw for my dear Honey.  Cuz I know how he loves red plaid!

(Inside joke .... EVERY shirt I buy him is red plaid.  EVERY one. You would think he was Norm Abrams. OK -- I think he is Norm Abrams!)

Walking away from the quilt now.

I made this awesome and humongous basket!  I am certain many boats aren't as large as this tote. It is going to be perfect to store my next quilt project as I work on it.

AND I am going to make another basket next week!!!  But next time, it will be smaller.  Cuz I could run out of room fast with baskets this size!!!

Finally, I mad this tea towel/ runner for the top of our pantry.  Quirky chickens and flowers make me happy.

Yep .... I have to say I LOVE January and the lack of expectations people have for you in January.  I can craft and sew and knit and embroider all I want and no one thinks the less of me.

Come April .....that's a whole different story!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Middle Age Problems

It is January at Miss Eff's.

And like all previous January's, some gadget that is suppose to heat something up has died.

In the last couple of weeks .... we have bought a new coffee pot because the timer would suddenly stop working ... it would suddenly re-set itself to 12 am and the coffee would be cold.  Or half done. Or not done.

We bought a new iron because the steam button would work, not work, work, not work, work, not work.

And we bought a new electric mattress pad.

And there is the source of today's problems!

Now ... these are first world problems.  These are 21st century problems.  These are the problems of a spoiled American that has a good roof over her head, a soft and comfy bed and a stack of blankets a mile high.

But the upstairs in my strong substantial house ... has no heat in it.

So we have bought electric mattress pads to heat the bed up so we wouldn't have to crawl into a cold bed.

Yea ..... first world problems.

This time, instead of an electric mattress pad ... we bought an electric bedwarmer.

Super plush and soft.  Really nice cover that securely holds it in place on the mattress. And such fine wires that you can't feel them at all.

But it is a low voltage item and it doesn't warm the bed before you get under the covers.

Your body weight suddenly kicks it and it slowly warms you.  Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Last night, we tucked were securely in bed.  The bedwarmer was set on 3.

The night before, it was set on 2 --- much too cold for Honey.  And 4 is much too hot for me.

We try to compromise on the setting.  Very few electric heating devices, whether a blanket or mattress pad, come with dual controls for a full sized bed  any more.  They used to.  Now they don't.  We like our antique full size bed.  We don't need anything bigger.  So we try to compromise on the setting.

Until 3 am.



A tropical heat wave rushed in!!!!  

OMG!!!  It is a 120 degrees!!!  And I am certain the smoke detector will go off any second!!! 

I throw off 2 blankets!!  I kick off my socks!!!

And I stick my feet out of the blankets to cool down!

Call the fire department!  Someone, hose me down!!  This bed is much tooooo hot!

Wait ............

Wait a second ...........

No ... it's not too hot.

Now, I'm cold.

Honey .... give me back my blankets!!!!!

He is going to be really happy when spring comes and we can turn off the bedwarmer.

First world problems of a middle aged woman.

Not fun .... not fun at all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Emotional Rubber Room

Seriously, I feel like I am living in a bounce house.

Most of the time I am gloriously happy.

But occasionally, that dark cloud of fear and dread and anxiety peaks its ugly head out of the blue.

What am I talking about????

In a few days, Honey turns 65.  And in one year, he hopes to retire.


Honey will be home most of time!!!  We can sleep past 5 ........ stay up late (like maybe ......10!!!) ...... lounge around the house eating bon-bons.

And I have to say ..... I am seriously excited about it!!!

No shirts to iron.  No lunches to pack.  No waiting until 5 to meet our friends, or run errands, or even ........ eat supper.  (Early bird specials ... here we come!!)

The to-do list will be shorter.  The Honey-do list will be shorter.

And the disposable income will be ........... well, shorter.

And there is that big ugly dark cloud.

Talk to me, people.

Do you live in fear of the future?

And how do I just embrace it say ...... Let's do this!!! with all the joy and excitement that I want for Honey?

I do know one thing.

The gardens at Miss Eff's are going to rock!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pinching pennies ...........

Another day .... another dollar.

And if you are anything like us .... you are trying to stretch it as faaaaaaaaaaaaarrr as it will go.

I throw on another log on the fire, another sweater on my shoulders and turn the heat down a couple degrees.  We take an inexpensive roast and work it in three different ways for three different meals.  We can tomatoes, pack lunches, darn socks, do our own oil changes and make any car repairs possible.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided that we should do the 52 week money challenge this year.

We have a fairly aggressive savings plan and have maxed the 401K.  Cutting the morning latte or the 2 martini lunches out of the budget aren't options!!

Cuz they weren't there to begin with!!!!

And we were in the "Great Recession" six years before the country was there!!  That's us ... ahead of our time!!

Hellooooooo, plant closing!!!!

So I decide we need to crunch a few more dollars into the savings account.  Particularly since I want/need a new kitchen.  ;)

But I put a different spin on it.

It has to be found money.

Return bottles and cans = found money.
Scrap metal from the farm = found money.
Sell things we no longer use = found money.
Couponing = found money.

You get my drift.

I am not a big user of coupons.  Most coupons are for convenience foods and we rarely buy convenience foods.  But there are coupons for coffee, cereal and paper towels and I do use those.

So I research and plan my shopping trips and clip my coupons ............ and leave them on the kitchen counter.


Or ..... I'll be at the fabric store and search through the debit/credit cards, insurance cards, medicals cards, gift cards (Starbucks for $1.34, anyone????)  as I dig for my educator discount cards.

While there are 20 people behind me.

With only one cashier.

Yea ..... I am that woman!

No -- to tell you the truth -- I die of embarrassment because I am sooooo not organized and I can't find the card that I say,

"15% off my entire purchase? No big deal.  Go ahead, just ring up the order."

Not any more.

Notice .... my new coupon organizer!!

There is a pocket for grocery coupons and a pocket for sewing coupons.  And little pockets that just fit those loyalty cards that are crammed everywhere in my billfold!  That I can never find until I go to search at the next stop on the shopping trip!

Nothing was purchased to make this. I used scraps of four different fabrics that I had. The piping was left-over from a pillowcase.  The button was the lone one left on the card.  And I even pieced together scraps of interfacing to stiffen the organizer!

Now --- if I remember to put it in my purse.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

a little dab will do ya!

I think this will be my motto for 2015. 

I want to dabble.

I want to learn new things.... try new things .... accomplish new things.

It doesn't have to be perfection because it is all about learning and creating.

One of my goals is to create more.  No pattern ... just some inspiration, a pile of yarn or fabric or floss and an idea that has been ruminating in my mind.

Yesterday ... I put together this knitting needle case.

I took 4 coordinating fat quarters that I had found.  I didn't know what I was making but I did know a few things that I wanted.

It had to be long enough to hold long knitting needles.  Too often, the cases I have seen are too short.

It had to have pockets for tape measures, knitting gauges, stitch markers and maybe a pattern that I had printed off Knitty or Ravelry.

It needed to be substantial.  So I interfaced the exterior and interior pieces and use sew-in fleece to give it some padding.

It had to be made with items that I already had in my stash.  So I edged the pockets with the rest of some Ric-rack that  was used on an apron.  A vintage button holds the case together.

And it needed to use a couple of new-to-me skills.

First of all ... I used my new rotary cutter and mat to cut everything out.  I usually sew garments --- so I use scissors and dressmakers' shears .... not rotary cutters.

And I used my walking foot for the first time!!!

I know!!!  I've had it a YEAR and I hadn't played with it yet!!!

When I was joining the interior section of the needle case to the exterior fabric ...... there were 8 layers of fabric, interfacing and fleece.  And that did not include the 2 layers of fabric and 2 layers of interfacing from the handles and button tab. 

Getting 8 layers of fabric to move through my machine would have been an exercise in frustration.  And I would have needed a beer immediately after completing!!!

Or during.

Probably during.

Which would have made me even more frustrated when I had spilled it on my project.

But not to worry.  No beer was lost in the making of my needle case.  ;)

Cuz this walking foot is soooooo cool!!! 

(In Miss Eff speak, this is how it works!)  There are little shovels or hoes that gently pull the upper fabric through the pressure foot as the dogfeed are working on the bottom fabric.  There is no shifting .. no bunching ... no messes to rip out! 


I am soooo using this on other things.  Coat collars ..... waistbands ... I can think of lots of uses for this baby!!! 

The key is you must stitch slowly.  Which as I think about it,  might help in stitching those coat collars and waistbands.  ;)

Both the needle case and the tea towel are living in the Summer Kitchen, waiting for their forever home.

And I learned a couple of new things.

Old dog.  New tricks.

Life is good.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


It's 2015???

When did that happen???  I still have trouble writing "20xx" on my checks!

Which also shows how very out of style I am.  No cell phone.  No tablet.  No auto pay.

And still, I will not be changing any of that in 20--whatever!!!

So it is resolution/ failure time.  That very moment that I tell the world EVERYTHING I am going to accomplish this year .......... and then let you document my failure.

So be it.  Que sera sera.  (Another nod to my ever increasing  age .... name the singer on that tune!!!)

First all .... I resolve to blog more.  I love blogging and I don't do it enough.  I come to blog ... and then I rapidly get sucked in to Pinterest, Facebook and everything else in the Twitter-sphere.  So that is a definite must do.  More blogging ... less posting, pinning and tweeting.

To that end .... I deleted a LOT of bookmarks and unsubscribed to lots of pages.  Less cyber-clutter to suck me in to the abyss.

Resolution numero dos ...... Accomplish little things.  Life at Miss Eff's is about making our simple life ... simpler and more comfortable and more "us."

One of the big areas toward simplicity is storage and organization.  I am trying to think of ways that will keep our home cleaner, more organized and drop-in-guest ready.

I would love to blame Honey .... but I have to admit, I am the guilty party.  Between knitting, spinning, embroidery, sewing, and now hopefully, quilting ...... there are explosions of supplies everywhere!

My goal .... finish what I start, ( I know!!!!  What a concept!!!) use what I have, and conscientiously think before I  make new purchases. I'll let you know how that works for me.  ;)

And finally ..... enjoy our life more.  To that end ..... there may be changes in the farm.

There will be grass paths through the garden as they will be easier and less expensive than mulch to maintain.

The corn-zebo is changing .... there will still be a table but it will be smaller.  I hope to make the  corn-zebo draw Honey and I into it in the evenings ... like it used to.  So a more comfortable, casual corn-zebo will be in the future.

 And then, there will be spaces and gardens that are ours and spaces and gardens that are public.  I hate the fact that I leave the gardens in the evening and hide in the house.  I think it is because they represent work-time.  I need places that represent home to me.  We have two acres .... we can carve out places that are ours and ours alone.

So ... three resolutions.

Blog more.
Accomplish little things.
Enjoy our life.

I think that is enough ..... don't you???

Happy New Year from Miss Eff, Honey, the girls, all the cats and Duck.