Friday, January 31, 2014

Comparision Grocery Shopping

I wrote here about comparison grocery shopping.

Goal: Figure out if comparing prices and using more than one grocery store is worth the trouble.

Last weekend I tried it for the first time, including flipping through two ad flyers for the two respective stores.  The Magician made the list BEFORE I planned the route so we only bought what we needed and not what was on sale. We had a small list this week and ended up saving $5.61.  Not much.  But times 52 weeks in a year, that would save almost $300.

Here's an image of the comparison list, in case you are curious.
How long does it take?  Maybe ten minutes, not counting compiling the list.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The One-Year Anniversary of This Blog

The whole thing began with a post about a dress made out of sweaters...

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Won a Craft Giveaway!

I recently won a craft giveaway from!  I was really thrilled to get it, and I'm looking forward to blogging about the use I'm going to make of my goodies.

Scissors I can always use.  (There's also a paper cutter which I'm looking forward to trying out.)  These scissors are from Westcott and they are supposed to stay sharp, and repel glue and other kinds of stickiness.  I used the small ones for working on my mosaic tree and I liked them.

Westcott also included an electric pencil sharpener which I love.  I used it on my colored pencils when working on Alex's book and what a luxury to get perfectly sharp points instantly.  I've never had an electric sharpener before and I really like it. Plus you can remove broken-off points with (literally) the push of a button.

The "paper" is kind of a cross between paper and plastic.  It is 3D/holographic --not sure what to call it-- and it's really pretty.  Apparently it is calledRowlux Illusion Polycarbonate. It's light, yet sturdy so my first thought is earrings.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Weekly Round Up

This we I...
... admired our new faucet.  Now we are awaiting the bill.  If we just had to swap it out we wouldn't have called a plumber, but there were enough other problems that we decided to.
It doesn't look at that impressive....

but it is much better than this!

... enjoyed tea with Elizabeth L., artist extraordinaire.  Check out her elegantly medieval and Byzantine work here.
... got my very first piece of mail for J. Pario!  This was kind of surreal.  J. Pario doesn't exist.  I made her up.  So even though it was junk mail, it was strange.
...played Scrabble with Marcia--we came up with three 7-letter words.  (Note: There are only two blanks!)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mosaic Tree Just Needs Framing!

Ta da!  I finally made it into my studio on Sunday and this is what happened.
My tree grew to completion...

 Here are some close ups.  Can you see the butterfly?

Finally, I get to use some of the power tools my husband got me for Christmas.... He took this photo right before he explained that sanding inside gets powdery sawdust in the vents and I should sand outside...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fonts on the Big Screen

Another snippet from a quirky little book I found on fonts....

There is a downside to being a typographer.  Apparently it is hard to pick a movie.  Matthew Carter gets distracted when he sees the film of errors in type: "How could a story set in a Peru the nineteenth century possibly have a sign on a restaurant door that had been composed in Univers from 1957?  How could the film Ed Wood, set in the 1950s, use Chicago, a font from the 1980s, as the sign at the entrance of the studio?  And how did the props team of a movie set at the start of the Second World War get the idea that it would be okay to print a document in Snell Roundhand Bold, when Carter, watching it in the multiplex, would recognize the face of something he himself created in 1972?”
            The designer Mark Simonson even has a section on his web site (Typecasting) dedicated to filmmakers getting it wrong (Page 66).

~ From Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Wanna Make Something Of It....

I didn't actually dumpster dive this... there was a sign that said "FREE" and it was next to the sofa.  (I know someone who has "dived" into an actual dumpster, but it wasn't me!)
So, what shall I make out of this?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Recycling T-Shirts into a Clutch

Normally, I wouldn't have picked these colors.  I just wanted to see if the idea would work.  And it did!  It's sort of a loose weave, but keys, cell phone, checkbook--yes, yes, yes, they will all fit and not fall through.

How to make your own:

1. Cut long strips of T-shirt material about an inch or an inch and a half wide.  Make them as long as you can.

2. Roll them into balls.  This keeps you from having a tangled mess on your hands.

3. Sew three together with a needle and thread.  Begin braiding.

4. Using a toothbrush needle and some plastic yarn, coil the braid into the shape you want.  Weave the plastic yarn in and out of the braids, binding them together.

5. Sew the end together with a needle and thread.

Okay, this needs pictures for the various steps.  For my next one, I'll take pictures.

I made this almost entirely while commuting, which was part of the point of the project.  I'm only going to do something boring and repetitive whilst unavoidably stuck in a car with nothing else to do.  This is a way to make that time useful since I get carsick when I read.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

What's Up - Weekly Round Up

Since my last Round Up I....
... ate my first Crêpes Suzette courtesy of Aunt Monica, who fixed me a splendid breakfast at a pretty table.  (Crêpes Suzette involve flame and cream and lots of glorious French cooking.)  Magnifique!  This is why when I put her in a novel, she's going to be an ambassador's wife.
... started my first week of the spring semester.
... enjoyed playing crokinole with Andy and Ann.
Here we all.are looking sedate and civilized
... And here we are cleaning wine off the blinds because The Magician got so excited he knocked over his glass.
Andy, the only born-Canadian, cleaned house.  He kept saying it was his first time playing....
...I played a 158 point word in Scrabble vs the computer.  Yup-- "Abridges" on two triple word scores.  Not sure what is nerdier--that I play Scrabble on the computer or that I think that that info is worth posting!
... finally spent some time in my studio!  Hooray!  Pictures will be coming soon....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Budget Update

I haven't done one of these in a while.

But we haven't had a normal month in so long!

May - paying ahead on our bills in a huge way so nothing would come due during our trip.
June - half the month in Croatia
July - almost all of the month in Croatia
August - "Where did all this money come from?" -- the budget was still skewed from paying all that stuff ahead
September - The Magician got a new job and a "thank you" bonus from his old job.
October- His paycheck from his new job had the two days he worked in September on it so we still didn't know how much he'd be making
November - Sort of a normal month except for car insurance.
December - We had a huge expense (paying cash for a car) and a huge influx of money (the check from the insurance company for the totaled car).

Hopefully normal is coming!

Our saving account this time last year we had $1,425.83 less in it.  Yup--we are ahead $1,425.83 from last year!  That sounds pretty awful ("Who are you to blog about frugality?"), but keep in mind we took a trip of a lifetime that we'd been saving for for four years, paid cash for a newer car, and knocked $9,416.41 off of our mortgage.  We bought our house 4 years ago and hope to have it paid off in another 6 years. We've already cut the mortgage in half--if we had to resume normal payments, we'd pay it off in 11 years.

And, no, five-week vacations aren't frugal.  But we're also not going to live our lives in tomorrow, always saving and never enjoying right now.

Our goal this year, though, is no big expenses!  We want to dramatically increase our savings rate and hope to make some sizable lump-sump mortgage payments.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.

-- Anais Nin

If this is true, what is it an invitation for you to do?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Frugal Grocery Shopping--Comparing Prices

Is it worth it to comparison grocery shop?

I'll try it and let you know.

We have two nearby grocery stores on adjacent corners.  So since the "drive all over town" problem isn't a problem, I decided to pick back up on on a habit we hadn't quite managed to adopt and do some price comparing. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Mosaic Tree is Growing toward Completion!

I did some more work on my mosaic tree today.  (Instead of reading a biography of Chesterton--I'm lecturing on his life in class tomorrow so I'm headed for the couch and some Wisdom and Innocence by my friend Joseph Pearce.)
Here's where I started:
Here's where I stopped:
Here's a close-up.  I had fun looking through Christmas cards for leaves.
I'm all ready to add more leaves the next time I work on it.
I couldn't pick a season, so I'm doing them all!
I hope you are enjoying watch it grow and that my tree will get you thinking of doing some art of your own.  It doesn't have to be expensive--this has cost me nothing but Elmer's glue, which I bought in bulk (hardware store).  The Christmas cards were free, the cardstock is from the factory where my Mom works, and the frame I will use came with our house--it was left on the back porch.
Happy Creating!

Sunday Thoughts: Generosity

I am not a generous person.

I want to be.

(I think.  Or at least, I want to want to be!)

So I'm going to try practicing generosity in tiny, baby-steps ways:
- not insisting on everything I think I'm entitled to
- looking for opporunities to compliment other people.
- not interrupting
- taking time with other people, not worrying so much about being efficient
- swallowing that witty but unkind remark that really just shows off how clever I am
- looking for chances to serve
- not expecting to be noticed for any good deeds I do

Friday, January 10, 2014

Progress on Mosaic Tree

I spent time in my studio today!

Here's where I started:

Here's my piles of different colors of green:

Here's where I stopped:
That was about two hours.  This is not a speedy art form!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Genesis of Comic Sans

Comic Sans was designed by Vincent Connare for a Microsoft software package called Microsoft Bob, which was supposed to be particularly warm and friendly.  He thought the software needed a warmer and friendlier font than Times New Roman, so he came up with a font that looked rather like it had been carefully traced by a child.  Unfortunately, it didn't fit in the allotted space for the text, so they didn't use it.  (Microsoft Bob, incidentally, was a flop.  The new typeface, though, was used for the Microsoft Movie Maker, which wasn't a flop.)  And, yes, it was designed with comic books in mind (10-15).

~ From Just My Type: A Book about Fonts by Simon Garfield.

Monday, January 6, 2014

What are these?

Can anyone tell me?

I'd like to see if I could make dye out of them, but it would be more interesting if I knew what kind of nuts they were....

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Thoughts: The Magi vs. Herod

Two different kinds of leaders...

The Magi traveled incredibly far and presumably with great difficulty to honor someone else.

Herod has an inkling who the new king is because he "inquired of them where the Christ was to be born."  So does he rejoice at the possibility that the Prince of Peace foretold in the sacred texts of the Jews might have arrived, bringing peace with His reign?  Nope.  He sees a rival to his power.  He'd rather have power his way than peace under someone else.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gratitude Jar 2013

This week we sat on the couch and read through the cards our gratitude jar while we enjoyed the lights from the Christmas tree.  Here are some things we were grateful for in 2013…

  • A safe and fun trip to Croatia
  • The Magician got a good job.
  • For a pleasant evening by the firepit with Gen & Doug
  • We enjoyed a cribbage tournament hosted by Stacy
  • Beautiful fall weather!
  • Neighbors who bring us tapas!
Some big things, some small things.  Lots of small things, actually, but isn't the secret to life to be grateful for small things?  There are so many of them that learning to savor them adds greatly to one's happiness.

Weekly Round-Up

This week I...

... spend most of the week sick.  I'm slowly starting to feel better.
... found out that an acquaintance won a million dollars in the lottery.  He is being quite sensible about the whole thing and it doesn't look like it is going to ruin his life.  He hopes to retire from work in 5 more years.
.... played (and lost) our first game of Mice and Mystics.  (It's a cooperative game, so its us versus the board.)  In the future, we're going to set up a table downstairs and leave it up rather than try to play it on the kitchen table.  My verdict--fun, but confusing.
.... went shopping at the Eco store.  They have a section of free stuff every first Friday and I scored some shelving, a picture frame, some tiles and some mugs for free, plus I bought a light fixture, a can of varnish, and a huge canvas.
... went with The Magician to visit our goddaughter and her parents, to deliver some belated Christmas presents.

Mosaic Tree Project Begins!

I've started a painting for the Magician's birthday and a mosaic piece with used Christmas cards for the recycled art show in April.

Here are the beginnings of the mosaic tree piece.  I have had this image in my head for a while and I"m excited to have it appear!

My sketch, which I traced onto my cardstock 'canvas'

I did lots of cutting and sorting Christmas cards.  It's hard to find orange and yellow bits...
 I started work but the paint pen ran out of ink.  Here I have my pile of blues for the sky.

Friday, January 3, 2014


"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, 'What's in it for me?'" — Brian Tracy

I think this is why I keep blogging!  Profitable, not really.  But a chance to make connections and put something positive out into the world, yes.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Box for Christmas Cards

Here is an upcycling project with a box and old wrapping paper.  I am using it to keep Christmas cards in and stickers in, but it could also be used for storing Christmas ornaments or for Christmas gift wrap that can be used over and over again.

Before - labeled with a sticky note

 I used two different sizes of circles, which made it easier to lay out.
 The circles were glued on with Elmer's and water. 


 I sealed the box with some sealer that I wouldn't recommend, but that I'm trying to get rid of, since this is just for me.

I don't have to label the box because it's clearly my Christmas cards box.  Happy crafting!

Don't Throw Away.... Used Christmas Cards!

I will happily take your Christmas cards off of your hands and use them to make art!

I use them to make Christmas ornaments:

 I learned how to make them from this YouTube video, although I cut out the circles with a paper punch, not the tool used in the video.

 Then I use the leftover bits for mosaics:
A Guardian Angel for a baby's room.  Of all the artwork I've done, this is one of my favorites.
If you are new to the blog, here is where I wrote about the Angel Mosaic.

 This box stores my postcards and this post tells about how I made it.
So you see, I won't waste them! 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resoultions Anyone?

My New Year's Resolutions:

  • Earn at least $200 from crafting/art.  (Ambitious!  I think my yearly record was $55......)
  • Earn at least $300 from freelance writing, editing, proofreading etc. (Very conservative.  I've made over $1,000 a year the last three years, but I don't have any of the big money-making projects on deck right now, and I'm letting myself focus on fun stuff for a while.)
  • Finish Alex's Alphabet Adventures book.
  • Develop a healthier relationship with money.
  • Start working on my voice acting ambitions by volunteering to record books for the blind.
Please feel free to post your New Years Resolutions in the comments.

Later today we're going to see what we put in the Gratitude Jar during 2013....