Sunday, January 26, 2014

test post kindle fire edition

antique store find. for washing every knitted item i make including shawls!! it's huge. i LOVE enamelware. especially in cobalt blue!

another find, $10. to be used for making herbal this-and-that (non edibles, though many are made with foodsafe ingreds)). needs a baking soda scrub first. i'm in love with it. in very good condition aside from the lip.

dining room table. i try to almost always have fresh flowers on hand. john bought me the amber depression glass plate for christmas. i made the vase at one of those pottery places.

my recently-demolded cutting board. looks almost like new again!

just waiting for pastured eggs. we eat these throughout the week. the ham and cheese are from applegate farms. the butter is grassfed. the muffins from VT bread co.

living room arrangement. LOVE blue mason jars.

right now i'm knitting the honey cowl for a blog friend. it will be hard to part ways with this beauty.

sorry i had no idea how to rotate this. it's my new kindle fire cover from etsy. the sweet crafter made it custom for my kindle's larger size.

bedroom, with knitting basket. we're going to see if my landlord will let us keep the desk (it rolls down to reveal many compartments and drawers) when we leave here.

typical evening. those are vegan banh mi sandwiches with shitake mushrooms and homemade almond paste with siracha. i'm watching my favorite knitting podcast. i've just cast on for the honey cowl and that's probably YOGI peppermint tea. 

pecan-pumpkin bread for the freezer.

what menu planning typically looks like around here.

getting ready to make pizza dough. i do this about every two weeks. we usually eat homemade pizza on friday nights. i also make homemade sauce. it's very easy! i use Vegan With a Vengeance as a guide for both. That Kitchen Aid has been moved for the Vitamix!

i think i'm making a curry? can't remember. 

when she's not meowing, she's sleeping. Amelia.

making some homemade all-purpose spray with orange essential oil. i LOVE this spray. i love using it in the kitchen so there are no chemical residues around where food is prepped.

prepping lentils

yay!! i'm so happy my Kindle takes such beautiful photos. I'm still playing with it but I'm fairly sure this will be my stand-in until I can afford one of those fancypants DSLR ... ???'s you all tote along so beautifully. I love the quality, and the pics are also wide. 

hope you enjoyed the show. finally! 

enjoy your week, and stay warm!!

Friday, January 24, 2014

just ahead of the weekend (drip, drip)

this is part of the shawl i knit for christmas a while back. i still have no idea how to upload photos from my Kindle to this blog. When I do, there will probably be a massive picture post here. Thanks for your patience.

We've been having issues with dry air in the house. I wake up with my sinuses a mess. I looked at Rite Aid tonight at $30+ humidifiers, then realized I didn't want the expense OR the noise (I need absolute quiet to sleep). So, as usual, I took to the Internet and found some good, frugal home-grown ideas. 

hang wet laundry on a rack in your room.

place a bowl of water near a heat source in the room. 

place a pot of hot water with a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil in the room.

put a houseplant in the room (i have one that doesn't seem to do much but look pretty on the dresser). 

open the bathroom door during a hot shower (my room is right next to the bathroom).

Also, I'm going to experiment with ordering dried elderberries from Mountain Rose Herbs so I can make my own elderberry syrup. It really really works, but I'm almost out of the SUPER expensive Gaia bottle in my fridge and I was dreading re-ordering it. Thanks SO very much to Ginny for the idea. Also, please check out her blog. It's wonderful! (I particularly admire her knitting projects!)

I also have plans to make the foot salve or the oil face wash, or both, from Hibernate. Check out Heather's blog too. She's been another source of inspiration for me over the years! Thanks Heather! 

I guess those are my frugal tips for today :-) We enjoyed some homemade pizza tonight, which we usually do on Fridays. I just defrost the crust/sauce/leftover sausage, cut up some fresh mozzarella, tonight i added a handful of frozen (thawed under hot water in the sink and dried up well in dish towel first) broccoli. YUM. So easy. 

SO looking forward to a quiet weekend with date night thrown in tomorrow (Indian food!!). Also looking forward to a high of 42. that seems balmy lately!! We can stop dripping the damned kitchen faucet. 

Hope your weekend is simple, slow, and wonderful. My only plans aside from knitting and reading are getting out to the gym, and maybe prepping some homemade breakfast sandwiches on Sunday. 

Be well, and stay warm and healthy!! 

xo xo 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

warmth and unusual rest

it's my third day off from work this week! monday was a holiday, wednesday and today were due to weather (snow!). it's been a BLESSING especially because all these days were graced with plentiful sunshine despite the fact that we are dripping our kitchen faucets so they won't freeze up (one did anyway but we got it to thaw) and i've been knitting for literally HOURS on each of these bonus days. i currently have three projects on the needles -- two shawls and a cowl. On sunday i had worked to clean the house top to bottom which included dragging the christmas tree out to the porch and boxing up all the decorations for the year. the above photo is my bedroom, which i cleaned and dusted to make like a real sanctuary. it's so peaceful in there. it's part of the Hibernate workshop I've been so enjoying these past two weeks. I feel so very rested and balanced and I realize I could definitely stay home full-time. I'm so not ready for that yet, though. Must keep stashing away money at every opportunity. I'm putting myself out there to try a couple of yarn commissions this year. If you are interested do get in touch. (

this is the honey cowl, a free pattern by Madeline Tosh on Ravelry. It's for a blog friend....
I've been enjoying the Simple Abundance book and have started a gratitude journal. Each night before bed I write down five things I was grateful for that day. It promises to transform my life. We'll see .... :-) 

I have a busy February coming up with a bunch of travel involved. Part of some behind-the-scenes things in motion here that I will be ready to talk about one day on here. I've been feeling grounded by the menu plans I'm creating while I am here at home. I think for the next one I'll focus on things like bean soup with roasted vegetables on the side. Simple, hearty/rustic meals that keep the budget low. Eating WELL can be so expensive. You'd probably fall over if you saw what I spend each month. So sometimes i try to remember that less is more so the more expensive stock-up type/try new recipe weeks are balanced by old favorites like tacos (we're currently loving TVP "meat"). Being frugal in this area is HARD. When we move again at some point we are inheriting my mother-in-law's stand-alone freezer. I can't wait. I rely on the freezer so much for semi "fast" food :-) Currently in there i have homemade Indian food, chickpea-spinach soup, pecan-pumpkin bread, cherry bars for special treats, and banana-chocolate-oat "healthy" cookies that work well as pre-workout or after-school snacks. I also stash homemade pizza dough and sauce and leftover meat/veggie sausages which we throw on top. And then there are bagels, frozen fruit and veg, well... you get the picture. That thing gets stuffed full!! 

I'm going to work on some laundry and e-mails and then I have a HUGE charles dickens novel to do some reading on!! Hope you are warm where you are .... 

blessings - 


Saturday, January 11, 2014


i made this shawl for my mom for christmas out of yarn i'd had on hand for a while. It was so soft and warm for an acrylic!
So, I have a bunch of pictures I took of recent happenings around here but they are on my new tablet -- yes, I got a Kindle Fire as requested for Christmas, mainly to be used as a knitters' tool, something very portable I can tuck into my basket. I even ordered a custom fabric cover on Etsy. Once I sit down and figure out how to upload those onto here you'll see a bit more of things.

With that said, it was a good, but LONG first week back at school. We had homecooked meals every night thanks to menu planning (love that!!). Now it's the weekend and I spent two and a half hours today deep cleaning the kitchen, putting most of the Christmas decorations away (we still have our lovely tree up in the living room!), and some other odds and ends that made the house feel more open, less cluttered, and definitely more cozy.

I'm currently working on a shawl project i started LAST january! it kept getting shunted aside for other things. But, I'm almost finished and I can't wait to wear it!

This weekend we are just mostly "lazing" about at home. It's kind of a weird rainy weekend. I took a two-mile walk outdoors because of some temporary mild weather we've been having. I plan to cook a curry tonight and spinach lasagna tomorrow night. We did try freezing homemade breakfast sandwiches this week and that worked really well reheated in the toaster oven but in the end we decided not to freeze them. We did go to the coffeeshop once but had a gift card so it was free! We'll definitely be doing the breakfast sandwich idea again. It was frugal, filling, healthier than a cafe-bought option, and delicious! We did not go out to dinner at all! This made me happy. I am going to try and budget $50/cash a month for going out to eat. I've also saved $3 so far on the 52-week money challenge.

I would love to blog about the frugal things I try to do if you would find them helpful. I make my own pizza dough and sauce, veggie burgers, deodorant, and all-purpose cleaning spray. We use cloth napkins and rags (but we do have paper towels as they are handy for pet messes). I re-use freezer bags if they can be washed out well enough. I'm going to start a garter stitch blanket out of leftover balls of worsted weight yarn. There are more projects on the horizon, including another massive declutter and getting our stuff really, really organized for when we move again (we will use REAL movers!). De-molding cutting boards with a homemade mixture. Etc.

I really strive to create a good balance between work outside the home/homemaking/rest and enjoyment of my hobbies and my husband/pets. I used to think I needed a four-day week to accomplish this, and would complain about it. But overall, I think I do pretty well. I do use a planner (pen and paper!), and paper wall calendars to help me achieve my goals in a reasonably relaxed manner. I like that my job keeps my mind happy, homemaking keeps me physically active and (the following benefits both myself and DH) mentally/emotionally comfortable, and I like that I make time for personal "just me" pursuits (yoga, the gym, knitting, reading books). It does take an effort. I've said this before. I live intentionally and mindfully as much as I can.

Please let me know if there are directions in which you'd like to see my blog expand and I'll be happy to consider them!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A New Year

sand and sea shawlette, knitted for a favorite aunt for christmas. i purchased gift yarn when visiting boston to make another one for myself out of different colors. so delicate and beautiful. this was a real joy to knit. very special yarns make all the difference!
There is so much to say/reflect on ... where to begin?

Simply, I suppose.

I'm certainly hoping that 2014 will be a brighter year for the blog. Mainly in terms of taking better pictures. I thought it would take a camera but I have a new tablet that takes marvelous photos. I also feel like my blog posts should be more cohesive, more on-topic and less rambly. So if it's about menu planning, go into detail. Same for knitting projects. But then again I don't want it to feel forced. So we'll see. I want to go easy on myself, that's for sure.

I do think it would be nice to share my intentions with you. Some people come up with a word for the year. It doesn't work for me. I need specific goals. Mind you, not resolutions, just a directed sense of striving. Mindfulness. Hmm, maybe that's my word. But I feel like that's always my word.
chumley, my sleepy sweet beagle
Anyway ... here are some of the things, in no particular order, that I've been slowly ruminating on for the last several weeks as the old year comes to a close and the days slowly creep toward length and light.

~ reach goal weight (20 lbs) -- continue to follow a set exercise schedule and reduce portions of meals. I already cook from scratch with unprocessed foods and eat a 95 percent vegetarian diet, so not worried about the actual food itself

~ get a new-to-me car, and pay for it with cash

~ set a cash budget for eating out (currently $50/month, so if DH springs for one meal we can go out twice a month if not more depending what carries over from month to month)

~ no-spend challenge :: NO new clothes (other than underwear or shoes)/yarn (unless it's for a specific project, the md. sheep and wool festival in may being the one exception to this)/kitchen items/books for the year.

~ take the 52-week money challenge. Each week, save $1 more than the last week (starting at $1/week). At the end you'll have nearly $1,400 saved in cash.

~ reduce monthly food spending by smart menu planning. taking advantage of freezing, eating leftovers for lunch instead of making separate lunches, shop twice monthly instead of once monthly (this will make my gas and tolls go up, but i think the smart menu planning -- such as easy meals on hard days and having a good lentil soup stocked in the freezer -- will inhibit impulse/unhealthy takeout meals).

~ contribute monthly to my 403B plan starting in March (this fund has been inactive for a couple years....)

~ write more regularly to friends

~ take 1-2 knitting classes to sharpen skills

~ establish a good 8-hour sleep routine so I can have easier, calmer mornings and really come up with a good healthy breakfast menu rotation.

~ make homemade cleaners instead of buying them.

~ find a way to give the whole year round, perhaps by sponsoring a child or doing Kiva

~ continue to declutter and organize ahead of a move we plan to make this summer. i want our things very, very streamlined.

~ improve as a partner in marriage ... haven't thought this one through yet but I'm aware of my personal trouble spots.

There. There may be more to come. I'll add things in as I think of them.

doing the laundry is not one of my favorite jobs, so i try to do it while i'm enjoying my morning coffee on the weekend, or i follow it with a task i do like more. 
We have another big year coming up. I can't really talk about our plans yet but there are 2-3 major ones in the works. It's exciting but both of us need to feel grounded and balanced so as the unofficial "homemaker" I feel it is my job to have the pieces in place. A cozy home is no joke for the physical and mental benefits it provides. I've come to see my domestic duties as essential to all else that's tangential in our lives, to friendships, to family relationships, to success at work, etc. Yes, it takes an effort. It does not mean sitting on the couch day after day doing nothing. I do learn (mostly from my husband, who helps with anything when asked) to sit and do that sometimes, of course. But I think that when work needs doing and it's joyful work -- I mean, you can see folding laundry and keeping the dishes washed, plants watered, pets happy, food prepared as truly joyful to accomplish -- that's how I feel most fulfilled. It's instantly apparent to me, as I travel around and sometimes stay with other friends and family, that MY home is the center, the source, of the peace I feel. Not everyone's home feels like you could just STAY and just BE yourself without a care in the world (often it just feels like a quick stopping place, a place that's "okay" for a little but makes you restless quickly, that certain warmth is missing). But ours does. And yes, I'm proud of that. It takes good, honest, roll-your-sleeves-up work to make it happen. I may not have a choice for a while yet, or ever, to truly be a stay-at-home wife and mother, although I strive for it with every financial or work-related decision I make. But I can rest easy enough knowing I've more or less figured out the balance. Giving just more than half of myself over to home and family life seems to be the key, for me. After all, I certainly benefit too. Who doesn't benefit from giving, and this kind of giving really does bounce back to me.

I am grateful for my cozy home life with DH, a calling I care about, the healthy, gentle way we shop, prepare, and eat our food (more and more I tend to call my diet the "real food" way), good relationship with close family, and skills I can both utilize and enjoy, such as knitting, and good sleep nearly every night.

spinach lasagna is a favorite frugal meal in our house, as well as homemade pizza. we figured out that a homemade pizza is less than $4. If you eat one every week, that's $16. One takeaway pizza is way more than that! The lasagna stretches into lunches well and also freezes well in squares. 
You CAN live the simple life you want to live, but it requires mindfulness. and then, you have to be willing to work to make it happen. and the ability to sit back and be aware that you are nearly always enjoying it. to feel how that feels. and really, to me, that's what it's all about.

Happy New Year, make this one a blessed, full, and happy one for yourself and your loved ones. Take initiative and watch things bloom.

blessings and light,