Check One Off

summer sewingToday I sewed a skirt for my youngest daughter which was one of my goals for this summer. A skirt for Rebekah was not one of my explicit goals. However, my husband recently decided one of his shirts was no longer wearable. I really struggle with throwing clothes away even when they are no longer any good to the person who owned them. So I started thinking, and I thought I could make a skirt out of this shirt.  When my girls were smaller I made summer nighties and dresses for them from my husband’s shirts. The fact that he is 6′ 7″ and has larger shirts helps. 🙂

It would work better if Rebekah was a little younger/smaller, but as you will see I made it work.

First, I cut off the sleeves.


Then I trimmed the shirt off  at just below the underarms and trimmed the bottom. I liked the idea of the buttons on the shirt running down the front of the skirt. As it turns out I was right – it’s cute.


Since I needed more length I made a casing for the elastic which I sewed to the top. Then I sewed a piece of fabric to the bottom to add length and to make it prettier.


This project cost me nothing because I had all of the materials. The fabric was something I had had in my stash for years. I always buy big spools of black and white thread so I have lots of that. The elastic was also something in my things.

My daughter is thrilled with her new skirt. I had a lot of fun with this one.


Healthy, Frugal AND Tasty!

You probably already know that beans are a frugal way to extend your grocery budget. Many people also know that they are healthy – they provide protein and fiber, are low on the glycemic index, improve disgestion to list just a few of their benefits. However, many people – especially children do not enjoy them.

We have been eating more beans lately for all of the above reasons. I was fairly skeptical at first but I am quickly becoming a believer in the tastiness and versatility of beans. I have found one way to make them more palatable to my children is if they are mashed. Recently I made white beans and mashed them up like potatoes, and they were a big hit. My children enjoy refried beans in tortillas. Of course, the cheese and sour cream probably doesn’t hurt either. 🙂

Tonight we had one of our new favourites – Black Bean and Quinoa Burgers. Basically you use cooked black beans and then mix them with whatever you would normally mix with meat for making burgers. We also add quinoa – about a quarter to half a cup for every two cups of beans. You can use canned beans, but I prefer to cook ours.

Cooking beans used to scare me. I thought I had to soak them overnight which is a bit too much pre-planning for me. I have learned that I can measure out what I need cover them with at least one to two inches of water and boil them. After they simmer for a couple of minutes I turn them off for an hour. Then I drain the water, add more and cook them until soft. I used to do it in my slow cooker, but it recently broke so I’ve found that I can cook them almost as easily on the stove.

These burgers are so delicious. My children love them especially when I pair them with homemade baked fries. We don’t often use hamburger buns. I consider them extra carbs we don’t necessarily need, but we have eaten them buns. They are every bit as good as their meaty cousins.

a yummy, child-approved suppe

a yummy, child-approved suppe

As I try new bean recipes I’ll let you know how they go down with our children. What is your favourite way of fixing beans?

Reading Again

We love reading in our family.

We love reading in our family.

So, I told you I was addicted to reading. Being a busy mom (what mom isn’t busy?), I look for ways to work reading into my day. My oldest daughter introduced me to a way I have used off and on over the last few months.

There is a website called DailyLit. They have taken thousands of books of every genre and broken them down into bite-size pieces. You set up an account and pick a book(s). They then email you a segment every day. You can have a short, medium or long selection.

So far I have read two books this way. Well, truthfully, I started Bleak House, but when I reached about the 80% mark I kept pushing the button to get the next segment right away. Then I started “North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell. I only made it about 20% before I gave up and borrowed the book from the library. As an aside, Elizabeth Gaskell is becoming one of my favourite authors. I have quite a few of her books on my Kindle (that I got for free). She writes about all different social stratas in the Victorian era.

Anyway, I have enjoyed using this system. It helped me take a book – “Bleak House” – which seemed daunting and make it readable. I’m thinking about going for “War and Peace” next. I could never read this in time borrowing it from the library, but a portion a day even if it takes more than a year is doable. I just signed up. It will take me almost two years. The good news is is that if I want to read it faster I can ask for longer segments or keep clicking the “send next segment” button. I know that process well.

The shortest segment they send only takes about five minutes to read. Anyone can spare five minutes – even a busy mom. Check it out. I’m sure they will have something that would interest you.

My Summer Sewing List

Soon school will be over and I’ll have more time to do one of my favourite things – sew.

I thought I would put a list up of what I hope to accomplish before school starts up again. I’m hoping to accomplish two things by this. First, I LOVE lists to organize myself, and second, having it out there for everyone to see will keep me motivated to get these projects done. Some I’ve had in mind for quite a while. So without further ado here is my list in no special order…

quilts for my nieces in Illinois (you did NOT just read that Joy 🙂 )

a package of homemade gifts for my sister’s family in Wyoming – I’m really excited about the projects I’ve chosen for them

finish the quilt I have started for my oldest son


start a quilt for my second son

a jumper for my youngest daughter for Canada Day with some fun fabric I bought about a month ago

a skirt or two for my oldest daughter

a skirt for my middle daughter

a table runner for my dining room table

something for my mom for Mother’s Day and my dad for Father’s Day

a gift for a friend who is due with a baby in June

a StoryBook (this link will take you to my mom’s site for selling the Creative Memories software I will be using for this gift) for my brother-in-law who is graduating from the Army Reserves

boxers for my two little boys

a clothespin bag

From time to time I will update this list and tell you how I’m doing. I will also let you know how much each project costs me. I love to raid my stash for making gifts.

What are your plans for this summer?

So Many BOOKS!

My husband bought me 97 books today! I am so excited, and I haven’t even looked at them all yet. How is this possible? Seventy-five bloggers have come together with 97 of their books. They are worth $640 but this package is being sold for $29.97. As well, there are five e-courses and $140 worth of bonus materials and offers. The topics cover everything from beauty to budgeting to homeschooling to motherhood to recipes to health and fitness and more. If you’re frugal this is an outstanding offer.

I have spent my day downloading books, changing diapers, downloading books, checking schoolwork, downloading books, fixing meals, downloading books…I think you get the picture. I am so excited. I can hardly pick which book to start with – they all look so good.

Here are some of my favourite titles so far…Easy Peasy Chores (please if anything can help with chores, sign me up), Healthy Homemaking – One Step at a Time, iPhone Photography (I’m really curious about this one), Just Making Ice Cream, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, Pursuit of Proverbs 31 and Not a DIY Diva. These are just a few that I can hardly wait to start reading.

There are several blogs where you can buy this bundle from. I’m going to link the blog that I purchased from. This blog is also having a giveaway for a Kindle Fire. The sale is only until May 4th so don’t hesitate. Check it out and then get a bundle for yourself. You will not regret it.

Why I enjoy my Kindle…

So I’ve tried and tried to figure out how to talk about my Kindle in a healthy, frugal way. Not sure if I’ve nailed it, but here goes.
A couple of months ago I casually mentioned to my husband that I thought a Kindle might be nice to own. I wasn’t even sure how much I would like to read from one, but I had been watching my daughter using hers and thought there might be some benefits. A couple of weeks later as I was getting into our van there was a package on my seat. It turns out that my oh-so-sweet husband who loves to surprise me had bought me a Kindle! It is a new model called a Kindle Paperwhite. Wow! Let me just say I. love. my. Kindle! I cannot believe how much I use this little device. You see I have a confession – I am addicted to reading. I have been ever since I learned many years ago. Not only that I have to have muliple books on the go at once to match whatever mood I’m in at the moment. The beauty of the Kindle is that I can have these books all in one place, and even better Kindle remembers exactly where I stopped so I don’t have to try to remember various page numbers anymore.

I’ve been able to download most of my books for free thanks to this web site. I’ve downloaded quite a few children’s books which have already proved useful to keep a restless toddler happy or give a tween something to read on a long car ride when I wasn’t using my Kindle.

Another thing I love about my Kindle is that due to its light I can read in the dark. My husband like to go to sleep listening to the radio. I prefer to read myself to sleep, but haven’t been able to for a long time (read “since I married”). Now I can! Although I have to admit that I’ve only done this two or three times so far since the honest truth is is that most nights I fall into bed and fall asleep almost instantly. Eight children have a way of helping you go to bed tired. 🙂 But I can use it in the car at night.

I like being able to slip one small device into my diaper bag and know that I have a book for almost any mood that might strike me while I’m out if I find myself with a few minutes to read. A lot of my reading these days (read “since I’ve had children”) is done on the run. I rarely have time to sit for an hour and read like I did before I had children. In spite of that I read dozens of books a year by reading in five to ten minute segments here and there. Kindle has just made that easier.

I’ve also been able to exercise my sewing skills by making a cover for the Kindle. It works pretty well, but the wheels are already turning in my head for how I can make another one that would be better AND have a spot to keep the charging cord.

So thank you, Hugo, for making my life easier and more pleasant. And if any of you are thinking about getting a Kindle I would say go for it. I still enjoy reading “real” books, but I’m also using my Kindle every day. So I would say that Kindle has been a healthy choice because it saves my brain space for remembering other, more important things. It saves me time by always being readily available. It has saved me money – I’ve read lots of books for free. It has given me a fun thing to do with my toddler when he’s restless, and I have to keep him quiet.