Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blatantly Promoting My Etsy Store!

I am a Canadian Seller on who specializes in items that relate directly to what I write about on my blog.   Quilting and Crochet - with I little bit to do with related crafts, like doll making, clothing sewing patterns and few odd bits like vintage sewing collectibles...

I am thinking that I should have alot more sales to Canadians but most of my products are going to the USA.

Now I must admit I have slight advantage over many Canadian Sellers when it comes to selling to USA customers.   It is that I live within a few kilometers of a border crossing and I maintain a US postal box.   I deal with customs myself to send items across the border so definately have a quick response to sales going to the south of me.   How lucky am I?

Some of my favourite things to list on my store is Unique or Vintage Sewing Patterns.   It does quite amaze me what people (in the case of the above pattern - I got a stash of patterns from a cousin's mother in law who was downsizing!) will have purchased and never quite got around to using.   Some of the patterns are triggers to my own memories of sewing most of my own clothes for many years.   I love to be reminded of those bell bottom pants of the early 1970's!

Buttons!  Wow do I have Buttons for sale!  A good portion of the buttons that I have acquired have come to me from collections from older relatives, some are still on the original card with a price like 29 cents!  And from out of business stores like Woolworth's, and Eaton's.

Now, not all my products for sale come to me because a relative or friend wants to clear out a drawer and doesn't know where to get rid of these things, except to me, but I spend time going to garage sales on Saturday or stopping in at some of my local second hand stores to see if I can find a treasure or two to feature in my shop.

My sister would be a great source of crochet supplies -- if I remember correctly she has a huge collection of  self published crochet designer Elizabeth Hiddleson who's books go for a premium in online shops, but I cannot look to that collection for a source of product for my store!  My sister loves her crochet and is very good at it so I am sure that she makes great use of her collection!   Aw, well, I just keep looking and now and then come across a few things that a crocheter is in need of...

And a new category to my shop -- Quilting Cottons -- if you read my blog regularly you will know that I had my own yard/garage sale a couple weeks back.  Well, there's still lots of fabric that I want to clear out of my closets and shelves so some of it I have started to list in my ETSY store....

Now, have I made you curious?  You can look at my sidebar and see a quick selection of what I currently have listed in my shop and if something appeals to you, click on the icon and you will go directly to my shop.
You could just come visit my whole shop, take a look around and perhaps if you don't find anything today, you might make note of my store online address and come visit on another day...

Come check out some of the things I have available at My Etsy Shop soon.

Oh, one other little thing I want to say -- this whole process of collecting and researching craft related items is a hobby in itself and I really love the process of collecting and passing along some of these special finds!  I do have to admit tho, sometimes I will find an item that I just can't let go of!   I have a weakness for old wooden spools of thread!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday is for Food -- The Simple Stuff part one

I am starting to think that businesses and food companies are trying to fool the eating population...

It seems to me that "THEY" are working at convincing us that it is easier and more convenient and 'good for you' to purchase a large super sweet exotic flavoured cup of coffee on your way to work each morning and that the price is well worth the time you save....  Hmmmm....   You know, one of the terms I hear often on the Food Network is 'restaurant quality' as if that is better than Home Made...

I have a French Press (just google it to see what sort of coffee maker that is and where you can get one)  The French Press takes only the time it takes to boil some water in the kettle, and allow the coffee to steep while you make your toast, another 2 or 3 minutes, and pour your coffee and sit down at the table with your family before and instead of charging out the door to spend 20 minutes with your gas eating car idling in the lineup to pick up coffee and a donut...

I am thinking that some of us have forgotten (or perhaps never knew) the simple ways of food making...

I have a beat up and well used 'school manual' from my Mother. She learned the Household Sciences from this book in 1944 and 1945 while in grade 7 and 8 at Earl Grey School in Winnipeg, Manitoba!

For the next few Friday's I am going to give you some of the treasures from this book, and maybe convince you that HOMEMADE is often easier than going out to get a restaurant meal or to buy frozen processed entrees from the freezer section of the supermarket.

Now, if you look carefully at the pages that I scanned above, you might see the dates and places that my Mom carried this book through the years.   I was going to continue the trend but I decided that this really was my Mom's book so other than a tiny note in the back of the book that says, given to Susan in June 1991 this book is all hers!   I do remember though that the first thing she taught me to make was a recipe called Two Egg Cake from this book.  I made that recipe many times as our family Birthday Cake!

Not only did she use and reuse the instructions and hints and tips and recipes in this book, but occasionally she would add a recipe that she cut from the newspaper that she tended to use over and over again.

PS.  See that fancy tape?  And you thought WASHI Tape was a new thing!  The recipes on this page were taped down using Christmas tape from the early 1960s...

Lets Start with Coffee and Tea... as the book states:

Rules for Making Coffee

Buy Freshly Roasted unground coffee.
Grind it at Home as needed
buy freshly ground coffee every two or three days in small amounts because coffee looses its flavour if it stands after being ground.

and the recipe for Boiled Coffee (and I bet you never heard of this one)

makes 2 cups
1 tablespoon ground coffee
1 tablespoon cold water
1 teaspoon crushed egg shell
a pinch of salt
2 cups boiling water

Mix coffee, salt and egg shell and add cold water to mix.  Turn into scalded pot (that means water should be boiled in the pot then poured out) Then add 2 cups of boiling water to pot and boil gently for 5 minutes.  Pour into a coffee or tea pot and allow to stand 3 minutes til grounds settle.  Pour slowly and carefully into your guests cup then into your own cup.

PS.  I have to admit I have not actually made coffee this way, but it would work well I think to pour the boiled coffee into the french press to serve.

Some of the other Treasures from this book that I would like to go through is "How to Set a Table for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner" 
"Cuts of Meat and their uses" 
"Uses for Stale Bread"
and way to many other things to explore that were important for the "lady of the house" to know in the 1940's  but is also probably good to know in the 20teens...

So what can we learn from this book that will be useful today?  If you have a request, leave a comment below...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Exploring Tunisian Crochet -- Afghan Stitch

When I was in my early teen years, my grandmother taught me to crochet -- she gave me a crochet hook and three leftover balls of yarn from one of her projects.

Between times of seeing her, I practiced making crochet chains and single stitches, then learned double and triple crochet stitches.   I thought I knew it all!

Then my grandmother brought me a afghan that she had made for me, but it looked alot different than the crochet that I had already learned.   She said it was called an afghan stitch, but somehow she never got around to showing me, or perhaps because I was a teenager, I just never found the time to sit with her and take the time to learn and practice this 'new' idea.

And, even though I always found time through my young married and child rearing years to crochet various things from bags to sweaters to vests and scarves and hats, I just never got back to the idea of the 'afghan' stitch.   I think perhaps part of it was that it required a special long hook and this thing called Tunisian Crochet was not particularly popular through the 1970's and 80's....

It was not until quite recently that I came to realize that Tunisian Crochet was what my gramma called the Afghan Stitch!   Imagine that! Something Completely New (to me)....

Still today, I don't know alot of other people who crochet -- seems that knitting is what everyone is doing --- but I like crochet.   My hands know crochet.

A year or two ago I saw a lady working on a project using that extra long hook used for Tunisian Crochet -- that's when I learned it wasn't just called the Afghan Stitch, but that the whole category was 'Tunisian Crochet'...  Then not too long after I just happened to come across a proper Tunisian Crochet hook at the 2nd hand store and thought "Why Not?"

So, now I have embarked on the learning process of this whole new category of crochet.   I do like it!   I am still in the practice and experimenting stages of it and have made nothing other than a scarf and a couple of test pieces...


the right side of my scarf - above - and a picture of the wrong or backside - below

My first foray into Tunisian Crochet is this Scarf.  There is no pattern instructions because it is my practice piece, but through sheer chance the varigated yarn I chose to work with has done something a bit unusual for varigated yarns and I am VERY pleased with it!

So what I learned with this is...
(PS. video links for the stitches can be found by clicking on the highlighted text)

The yarn is Phentex Worsted that I bought a Michael's for just under 10 dollars
 ( 300 g skein)
I chained 26 and picked up 25 loops to start off the project.   One of the things that bugged me about the afghan or Tunisian Simple Stitch was that it tends to curl up, so since my Gramma is no longer around to show me how, I resorted to You Tube where I found this video on how to do the Tunisian Purl Stitch.  I must say it took a few watch throughs of the video to get the hang of it, but when I did the simple stitch for a row and the purl stitch for a row, I came up with an almost ribbed effect!  I thought the two combined in alternate rows was a whole new world to my crochet!

Now, after some rows I noticed that one side of my piece was slightly different edge from the other.... hmmmm... Why?

So I went back to You Tube and decided to watch another video of the Tunisian Simple Stitch (Kim Guzman) and learned how to properly end the row that you pick up loops on.  Now, not only did I pick up an interesting tip from the second video of the same stitch, but I learned that each video is just a little bit different and you learn different things from each!

Here is my practice piece on doing just the Tunisian Purl Stitch - the right side

and the wrong, or back side.  The interesting thing about the purl stitch is that it seems to have alot more stretch than the simple stitch.  I am not quite sure how to make use of this yet, but it does seem to me that for making a sweater or other clothing it might come in quite handy.  The other thing about the purl stitch is that it doesn't curl like the simple stitch...

Oh and again, this piece is 25 stitches wide and that effect where the colours of the varigated yarn basically stayed put and caused 'waves' in the piece worked the same as doing the alternate rows of simple then purl -- I think if my tension was more exact the "waves" would not have such big ups and downs, so as I worked I purposely loosened and tightened my tension just a bit to give that effect.

I am still learning and practicing these basic stitches in Tunisian Crochet, but have checked out a few of the other videos on You Tube explaining what and how...

This is a whole new adventure!  I am totally enjoying learning this new process, and perhaps as I progress I can revisit this Tunisian Crochet again on my blog to show you how I am 'getting along'!

I love to learn new things.  How about you?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tunisian Crochet ----> Yard Sale

I started out planning to write about the latest trend in crochet, Tunisian Crochet -- but then one of my neighbours dropped by to give me this...

So that sent me off in a completely different direction!

For awhile now I have become somewhat disillusioned with my fabric stash!  Over the years I have made purchases of fabric - very lovely quilting cottons -- at least that's how I felt at the time!  Sometimes just a fat quarter and sometimes 3 meter lengths, but rarely did I buy a piece of fabric with a particular project in mind.... So now it has come to pass that pretty much everything that I make is "SCRAPPY" even though it is not scraps that I am working with!

So the announcement of a yard sale for our whole townhouse complex seemed to be the exact motivation to clear/sell some of my stash so that I might plan and purchase the exact right fabrics for my next quilt.   I want a quilt that doesn't have a dozen shades of various colours!  I want to make a quilt that has maybe FIVE perfectly coordinated fabrics.  I don't know yet what that quilt will be but that is my ultimate plan.  I want to PLAN each quilt, work on it using fabric that was carefully chosen, then when it is finished, think about the next quilt...

I think it might be what is called SLOW QUILTING now.  I even want to get back to hand quilting the quilt!   

So this Saturday I am going to have for sale a good portion of my fabric stash.

I have even thought about why I want to get back to slow quilting!  I find that I don't have alot of people who I need to make a quilt for, so if I make one quilt from start to finish in a year that should be quite fine for my closet space!

Another reason I want to make this change is I want to make something special for just me.  I have made too many small quilts with basic blocks. Those kinds of quilts are not particularly challenging to me anymore. They are sort of like working in a factory and doing the same thing over and over and over.  They just serve as a project that I would have to force myself to finish.

So, a fabric stash project is in progress!  Sorting and measuring fabric and stapling a tag with the amount of yardage and the price I want on to each piece of fabric.  I am going through some of my drawers and boxes and deciding which of the other sewing/quilting things can be cleared out too!  I have some acrylic rulers that are duplicates, I have dozens of embellishments, purse making things, zippers, doll eyes and " so much more"!  Every one of them can be sold off !  Oh!  I am hoping for empty drawers and boxes!

Its a big job, and it requires a heavy hand, because I keep coming across "special" fabrics that I think I might keep!  The keep pile is growing too fast, tho! I think I have to re-evaluate that keep pile!

One of the dilemnas about this project is that I want to start my plan to PLAN a quilt, but that means selling alot my fabric, but if I don't sell the fabric then I have to keep making scrappy quilts that I don't really enjoy... What is the saying? Six of one and a half dozen of the other!

I think I shall be happy with either outcome, tho!  Shall I see you on Saturday?

So, I will get back to my Tunisian Crochet project after the Yard Sale, I think.

Linking up with the Needle and Thread Network this week...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cooking in Hot Weather

When the temperature goes up around 30C cooking for a couple of fellas who are resistant to green things on their plate, becomes even more difficult and requires some creative or unexpected ideas...

The choice here if my husband were to be in charge of the meal would be to turn on the oven -- to like 450F to cook a "quick" lunch of  Frozen French Fries and a Pre made Frozen burger...  forget the green!

So, some of the things I have come up with over the years to avoid turning on the oven is first off to pay attention to RAINY DAYS...  For meat lover men, Meat is a requirement, so if there is not some cooked meat ready or close to ready, they don't hesitate to turn on the the oven and create excessive kitchen heat...  So I try to cook ahead and freeze things like pork sausage, "minute" steaks, pork chops, even chicken breast.

So, how to make "meat and potato" type meals without turning on the oven and increasing the heat in the house?

 My saving grace for this turns out to be my very old 1970's waffle iron! (but if you want to test out a couple of these ideas I am sure a more recent waffle maker would do just as well) I make those OVEN fries right on the waffle maker  -- I turn on the waffle maker to its highest heat, then I just layer the fries on the iron, close the lid and give it about 3 or 4 minutes (check your fries progress on your waffle maker because there can be considerable temperature variation).

The fries come out a bit flat but crispier than when done in the oven and to me, tastier because they have a crispier finish!  Much quicker than when done in the oven and causing much less heat in the kitchen!  How about thin slices of potato done in the waffle maker?  Peel, or not your favourite type of potato, layer the slices on the waffle maker, close the lid -- a couple of minutes makes interesting CHIPS...

Oh, I should mention, some waffle makers are non stick and some like mine because of its age are 'tempered' cast iron so perhaps a spray of Pam or similar cooking spray would keep these foods from sticking and making clean up a messy problem.

This wonderful "olden days" appliance is a tool that works not only for making waffles on Sunday Morning.   

Now since having the bright idea of making squished waffled fries, I have gone looking for other ideas that might work with this amazing appliance.

How about cookies?   Check out this You-tube video for making cookies using your waffle iron?  It has the whole process start to finish!
I haven't tried these, but will be very soon!

Hey! how about fried eggs in the waffle iron?  

Now if you think of your waffle iron as a version of a Panini press (it is a bit of a stretch!) but how about a grilled cheese sandwich?  This I have tried.  Just butter the bread, put one bread slice down on the waffle iron with butter/margarine facing down, plop on your cheese - whether processed or REAL cheddar or your favourite cheese - then put on the second slice of bread, buttered side up.  Close the lid, wait 2 or three minutes and voila`!  Grilled Cheese Waffle Sandwich!

A few other things that I have thought might work on the waffle iron would be to cook weiners -- they would be almost like being done on the bbq, I think -- but I haven't actually tested that out.

I would not do burgers on the waffle iron because they have considerably more fat run off and the waffle iron does not have a 'drain' to get rid of the fat, like a "George Foreman" Grill, so best to keep away from fattier meats and things.

So just a bit different way to do your cooking on a hot summer day!

Do you have an idea or suggestion that might work or that you have tried using your waffle maker for? Leave me a comment!  I can use all the help I can get when trying to cook for a family who just prefers no green things!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tutorial Update to Sidy Blocks Quilt

Quite awhile back, at least 1/2 a year, I switched my blog to connect with Google Plus and Google Friends.  When I did that, something went 'haywire' with all the photos on my blog posts...

Well, I have not managed to fix them all, but I have corrected the problem with the Tutorial I did for the Sidy Blocks Quilt...

So If you want to check that out you can either click on the tab at the top of my page where it says Sidy Blocks -- and I have no idea why they are called that, or you can just click on this link

This quilt idea is great for an I Spy project or as a Theme quilt, especially if you collect a particular theme such as cats or football logos or maybe even christmas fabrics....