Monday, February 28, 2011

Frugal Grocery February - Wrap Up

Today is officially the last day of summer in Australia and coincidentally happens to be the last day of the  Frugal Grocery February Challenge . I reckon we have some reckoning to do people.

In case you're new here , this is the deal, I decided not to buy meat for all of February after I was hit in the head by 476 kilos of dead cow, chicken and lamb falling out of my freezer in late January. Buying no meat morphed into not buying anything we didn't need because seriously folks I have so much food it's not funny. There - you're all caught up.  Continue reading.

My goal was to halve my grocery bill for the month - which means I had 300 bucks to spend. Gone are the halcyon days when I had a grocery budget of 1000.00 bucks a month . Of course there were 4 of us then. I have been aiming monthly for around the $600 .00 mark since Mr. P and I reclaimed our house after 20 years of servitude last November.

I mentioned last week  that I was going to have some shopping to do this week, since we are pretty much running out of some of the essentials of life, like gherkins. I made the tactical mistake this week of looking through the local store catalogue (which I have avoided every other week this month ) and spied so many special specials it felt like manna from heaven. I managed to blow my good intentions big time and spent $152.00. Lesson learned - avoid the catalogues. That $152.00 spend was more than I've spent in the previous three weeks combined.

In my own defence I haven't bought a piece of meat for about 4 weeks which for me is nothing short of miraculous. But when  Chicken boobies are on special as well as 2 kilo whole chooks, lamb chops and Porterhouse Steak my will is weak. It was a wonderful feeling to know I could legitimately stroll past the meat cabinet this week because for the last three weeks I've run past averting my eyes like a crack addict trying to avoid her street corner dealer.

In the end my grocery spend for the month was 303.75- a saving for the month of 296.25 , so I almost made my goal. Yes I could have done better - yes I could have held off to buy meat and crackers this week but that's sort of cheating isn't it? To deliberately hold off to make my stats more impressive?
It doesn't matter how much meat I think I'm using my freezer never seems to get any emptier. I think my freezer is like that never ending pack of Tim Tams from the TV ad.

I don't know why I stopped menu planning.  I kind of lost  it in November of last year and just never started again until I did the challenge. It really helped me stay on track. It also made me look in the freezer for inspiration rather than just buying the same old things week after week and ending up with 6 packets of peas in my freezer.
I learned to get creative with leftovers. A quarter chicken can be made into Laksa soup for two if you add a few other ingredients. Mr. P makes a mean chicken fried rice from almost nothing. And if we don't eat it and it's a leftover from  leftovers  it goes into dog food.

I still have two freezers full of meat. I still don't know what's in the freezer in the shed because I never needed to use anything but meat from the inside freezer. I'm sure that confirms I have a serious issue.

Mr. P has stopped laughing at my propensity to stockpile meat , toothpaste, plastic wrap, alfoil  toilet paper , washing powder, soap and canned goods. It kept him fed/clean and unsmelly for the month !

There is the small matter of me sending some fabulously Australian  food  to whoever saved the most percentage wise off their groceries for the month. If  you  played along and you'd like to pop your percentage saved in an email and send it to me , I'll announce the winner in my FTF post for this week.

I'm giving some consideration about whether I'll continue to torture myself for March or come up with another cruel and unusual punishment....

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Best Laid Plans ...

So I've been working on my secret project for about a week now and it would be completely finished if it wasn't for one minor detail ...

Meet my re-useable menu board. I loved this idea because it cuts down on writing my weekly menu on paper. I saw this somewhere when I was trolling round in Blogland and naturally can't recall where- dear person who had the original idea - I'm sorry I can't give you proper credit.  Anyway, it's cute and adds a pop of colour to my kitchen, and nobody else I know has one. There's just one small problem.

I added 8 magnets to the back thinking that would be enough to hold it to the fridge. Nup- slid straight off I figured 16 magnets would do the trick . Twice as much is always better. Apparently not in this case - I'm pretty sure that those extra magnets added dead weight and yet again the menu board slid down the fridge. Now I'm stuck with a non magnetic menu board that has 16 useless magnets stuck to it with Tarzan's Grip that I have no idea how I'm going to get off...

In desperation I contacted the magnet shop dude ( or it could be a dudette for all I know)  to ask them exactly what kind of magnets I should use because the ones I bought from the craft store kind of stink.  So if you could all just pretend this is on the side of my fridge looking pretty that would be great - thanks. I'm rating this project 10/10- and my execution of the project at about a 5.

Oh and I made one for Miss P too. Hers wont stick to my fridge either...

In other craftiness this week, I finished piecing Little P's Alphabet quilt.  

Ta Da! The Front

And I did the back too. Goal achieved.

I took the bull by the horns and started putting the Snowball quilt top together. This is number 3 of my PhD projects from 2010. I'm half done and I like the way it's turning out. Miraculously some of my seams are matching up . As usual some are not.  I am beyond thinking about perfection and am only focusing on a finish.

It wouldn't be Sunday without  a Dresden update. 3 more done except for the applique which I'm hoping to get done before bedtime tonight.

4 left to do. I will confess I'm starting to get a bit tired of Dresden's.

I must admit since I've been doing No Fabric February my mail has been a little dull this month. This was rectified by the arrival of exciting mail this week. I recently won a giveaway over at Taradiddle and Malarkey. My book arrived this week and it was wrapped in these cute fabrics. Thanks Ms. Taradiddle. I can see these adding some zing to a spiderweb or other scrappy quilt sometime this year. Thanks for thinking of me in my month of fabric-less-ness.  I pretty much rolled around on top of the fabrics for a full 10 minutes after I ripped the package open. Mr.P said it was sad to see a grown woman acting that way .

Oh and I dropped by the op shop this week and this was calling my name.  If my kitchen dresser ever gets finished this will look fantastic as a display piece.  The little things often make me happy.

It's going to be a busy week at Maison Pyjamas. Miss. P finally exits the teen years Wednesday, it's the end of Frugal Grocery February tomorrow,  Autumn starts Tuesday ( I can hear my Northern Hemipshere friends perk up in anticipation of us Southerners returning the sun )   and I am going to try and squeeze 5 working days into three and half days. Should be fun! 

Goals for this week:
Decide which project I'm going to start next while I contemplate my navel fluff
Finish the remaining Dresden blocks -then shove them in a box for a while
Put the rest of the snowball quilt top together
Order new magnets !

Friday, February 25, 2011

Favourite Things Friday


It feels like Friday  rolls around faster and faster each week. I love Fridays. They're either my day off or  the day before my next day off and I get to share one of my favourite things with all the lovely people who drop by my patch of the Blogworld. You can share one of your Favourite Things too. Just write a post about something you love and link up at  the bottom of this post. Then I can come and have a nosy at your favourite thing for this week too!

Once  upon a time in a land at the bottom of the earth where people love vegemite (if they're really Aussies ) and we all wear thongs on our feet  because honestly the rest of the world,  it was footwear LONG before it was something you wore to floss your bum crack ,  there lived a Queen who had visions of a lovely space in which to spend her time computering with her online friends and communing with google (is there anything google doesn't know?)

She knew exactly how she wanted it and it didn't look even remotely like this.

She searched and searched for the perfect desk , but all the ones she looked at were too big , or too small , or too expensive or too ugly  and she wanted something cute that would fit with her idea of loveliness. The Queen had visions of this room being girly and cute and not neutral like the rest of her castle.  So she searched and searched and looked and looked and eventually in  the land of eBay  she found a desk that was juuuuuuuuuuuust right ...

It needed a little work because it was 50 years old but it was solid oak  and had huge possibilities. And it only cost 15 bucks. The price was right!

However  the queen was busy with other things. Like kitchen and laundry renovations and the never ending stripping of a Blackwood chair.  And so the desk sat ...outside ...lonely and neglected waiting for the Queen  to work her magic. Meanwhile back at the ranch ...all was not idle on the computer room re-do.

A shelf unit was being installed to replace the manky MDF on besser block shelf ensemble ( so chic !)  and the bricks behind it got painted so they matched the shelves.

The old meatsafe got stripped and painted ...and replaced the old dark wood shelf at the end of the hallway in the computer room . Now it shows off the Queen's Quilty Creations.

And eventually after much trial and tribulation , sanding and painting, varnishing and more stripping, more painting and glueing, some swearing and sighing the desk was finally ready to be royally unveiled.

Check out the cut glass handles...

There's the chair that got a re-spray late last year.


The Queen was overjoyed that another room in the castle could be deemed finished and she was in love with her new desk. And she beat the end of February deadline on this room reveal. It is indeed one of her Favourite Things, and you're darn tooting she's showing it off.

Now it's your turn to show off one of your Favourites!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Frugal Grocery February - Week 4

This week I am happy to report that although I didn't manage my goal of no spending I kept it down to $33.25 . Little P came for lunch on Friday and he loves ham so I went and bought some and in the process I ended up buying three loaves of cheap bread to stash in the freezer (forward planning!) milk and some eggs. That's the psychology of shopping. You go in for one thing and come out with six.  I didn't feel so bad since all those groceries were what I'd call basics. It's not like I was off buying four kilos of chocolate. ( I wish !)    And last week one of the shops  had a super special on brand name coffee so I made the tactical decision  to lash out and stock up. I saved $21.00 on three jars of coffee and it only cost me $15.00. And we're set for coffee for a while.

Mr. P  made  cinnamon bun pancakes on Saturday and they were delicious. They made a great weekend breakfast. You can find  the recipe we used here. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

I'm pretty pleased with how this challenge has gone for us. Using what we have has been a huge money saver and has made me really think about what we already have and how we  can use it creatively. I must thank Mr. P who has pretty much done all the cooking during the week this month.  There has been a lot less "popping down to the shops " for one or two ingredients and mostly we've substituted or just left  out ingredients if we didn't have it. The roof wont cave in if we don't use fresh coriander-  just chuck in ground coriander if it's only about the flavour. 

This weeks grocery shopping  brings my monthly total to $151.75 (just over $50 .00 a week ) which means so far I've saved $298.25 for the month. My goal was to save $300.00 so I'm pretty confident I can meet that target and maybe even better it.

On the down side this week I am going to have to start re-stocking items. We're completely out of things like gherkins and pickled onions. I tend to be a hoarder and we'll have one in the fridge and another one on the pantry shelf. This month I'm down to about 5 gherkin rounds floating round looking lonely in the jar  in the fridge. I guess I should be thankful we still have plenty of soap and deoderant.  I have noticed though that I'm not throwing away 5 bucks worth of slimy sandwich meat every three days because it isn't being eaten because if I buy it , I've only been buying enough for a day or so, or using canned tuna or eggs or cheese for sandwiches or rolls instead.  

We had two meals last week from leftover chicken I'd chopped up and stuffed in the freezer at some point. One was Thai chicken soup which was just a packet Thai base with fat rice noodles.  Mr. P added extra stock, chicken, corn and spring onions and it was lovely. The other was a chicken fried rice which fed us for dinner and then lunch the next day. Mr. P just chucked in a cup of chicken, some carrot , some peas , soy sauce , a bit of garlic ,  spring onion and eggs . Both were very economical meals made from leftovers or things we already had laying round , and tasted really good. We do tend to be big meat eaters here and I think it's been a positive change for us to have almost meatless meals a couple of nights a week.

My menu this week includes a few more chicken meals since I have so much of that in the freezer. Mother of Pyjamas tells a story about chicken being so expensive  when she was growing up  ,  that they didn't get it very often.  That's certainly not the case these days . I love chicken and we eat it often mainly because it's versatile and cheap. I know when Mr. P needs beef or lamb because he starts clucking at me.

I haven't made a dent in the big outside freezer yet ...I guess there's always March. But I'm starting to see the back of the inside freezer and at least when I open the door half a barnyard doesn't fall on me.  That's progress. And I'm still finding it hard to believe I haven't bought meat in almost 4 weeks.

Come back next week for the final tally. I'd love to hear how you're doing if you're playing along.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It Seems I'm on A Roll

I'm pretty sure I've been inoculated with a sewing needle these last few weeks. Either that or I've been possessed  by Crafting Demons. How else could I possibly explain the level of crafty activity that's been going on in my sewing room?  I'm just going with it - who knows how long it will last ?  By this time next week it's entirely possible that I won't want to look at my sewing machine for a month.

Lounging Around is finished. Two quilt finishes in 7 weeks is unheard of around here.  Happily I LOVE this quilt and so does Mr. P.  

I did my first ever quilt label for this quilt.   I'm a real quilter now.  And in the process of  showing you this -I'm also outing Mr. P. I seem to be doing that to my family a lot lately.

Kate was kind enough to send me some fabric sheets to try out for labels and I just went for it. Kate, you've been immortalised forever on a quilt as a thank you.  If it wasn't for you- this label would never have been made.

Little P's blocks are all sewn together and I've started the back too. Borders next.  This is another quilt I'm really enjoying making. What's going on? Three quilts on the go and I'm not hating any of them....

I made two more Dresden Blocks this week and appliqued them and the 3 from last week.  I've been working on this quilt now for about 7 weeks but since it feels like I've been flashing weekly progress pictures since about oh I dunno ...the dawn of time ...I've spared you this week.

I finally dragged my sorry behind out of the sewing room long enough to pay some attention to the computer desk drawers today.  This reno project has taken almost a year ( 8 months of which the desk sat outside doing nothing but waiting ) and has been fraught with unfortunate events. It looks like the pain has been worth it. I love those drawers. I love those handles. I love my new desk.

When the dresser is finally finished, we're putting the paint away for a while...

Miss P and I went op shopping on Friday and scored some crazy bargains. I bought this for Little P  because he is currently obsessed with vacuum cleaners ...

He doesn't know his colours yet so he doesn't know it's pink ..

And he scored some more toys. Miss P told me most emphatically that the recorder was staying here at my house.

I'm working on indoctrinating Little P into the "you can never have enough shoes" club. The boots are his.   They light up when you stamp your feet. Or when you throw the boots which is what he spent 20 minutes doing Friday afternoon. Bonus points to anyone who can guess who the pink pair belong to...

And I scored this fabulous carry all which will be perfect for toting sewing projects around. I'm trying to think of ways to make it look pretty. Any suggestions?

Miss P and I didn't get to our monthly craft project on Friday but magically these frames got painted anyway.. I think fairies live at my house. Cups of tea magically appear when I am thirsty as well. Stay tuned for the finish to this amazingly simple project later this week.

May the craft be with you.

Goals for this week
3 more Dresden Blocks
Half the snowball quilt top to be completed (since I slacked off for FNSI)
Finish the back of Little P's Alphabet Quilt and add one border to the front

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

Last night was FNSI  for February.  Hosted by Bobbi at Crafty Vegas Mom this is a fun monthly sewalong because it means I can legitimately tell my family to leave me alone for the night. I had big plans to sew the long languishing snowball quilt top. I even laid it all out on my bed yesterday afternoon so I didn't waste time on block placement when I could have been sewing.  If you're visiting from FNSI - welcome. My FNSI attempts are always full of drama.

The night did not start well. My planned 7 pm start was pushed back to 7.50pm. This would be because everyone else's arms at the Castle Pyjamas (Since I am now a Queen we live in a castle ) appear to be broken and they can't chuck meatballs in a frypan. Perhaps I should have written instructions as I was prepping the entire dinner earlier in the day to make it easier for them.

Miss P was here for the afternoon yesterday (after our uber fabulous op shopping afternoon ) which naturally stretched into dinner. At about the same time I was about to finally settle for FNSI she announced she wanted to alter the hem , neckline and ruffle on a dress. Heads up here : Miss P does not sew. That means she wanted me to alter the hem , neckline and ruffle on a dress.

Further information I'm chucking in for free - I don't sew or alter clothes. I can - I just choose not to. I didn't even bother to break this unfortunate piece of news to Miss P gently. Instead I sat with her working on binding my Lounging Around quilt while Miss P attempted to hem something for the first time in her life while I gave her verbal instructions on how to do it. I have to say she did a pretty decent job but balked at changing the neckline of the dress and making a new ruffle. She decided pretty quickly as I explained what she needed to do that the dress didn't need further embellishment.

So my achievements for last night included : Finishing the binding on Lounging Around and then scorching the label beyond redemption (fortunately before I put it on ). I've just made another one and will sew that on without the aid of heat bond when it dries.  

I started to sew the snowball rows together and decided after 28 blocks of 168 that I wasn't feeling the love and neither was my machine.  I moved on because I'm a mature adult (plus I had run out of swear words to say )

I switched to sewing the blocks together in rows for Little P's Alphabet Quilt and I got them all done. 

Emboldened by my apparent success  I  decided to give hand sewing a crack. After agonising over font and colours and unpicking some false starts  I finished this...

For my first ever hand stitching attempt I'm pretty happy with it .  And yes that's  Little P's real name for the first time ever on my blog. 

So all in all, it was a productive night even if I didn't get my snowballs finished. And perhaps today the snowballs and I will reach an understanding about who is the boss ....

Hope your Friday night was craftilicious and you didn't have any snowball-esque moments!

Check out what other crafty FNSI- ers have been up to here .

P.S. There is weirdness going on with my font today. Spooky! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favourite Things Friday

Welcome to the linky love-fest that is FTF!  Favourite Things Friday is a little bright spot  in the Blogispehere where you get to show off one of your favourite things each week. I love seeing what's special to other people.  Just write your post and link it to the bottom of this one so we can all share your favourite thing. Then we'll all mosey on over to have a peek and leave you a comment.

It's been a musical week since I did a music therapy type workshop on Monday for work so I'm continuing the theme here. Music plays a big part in my life. I'd rather have the radio on than the TV, and one of my favourite things to do is to sing songs to Little P. His current favourites are Row Row Row Your Boat, with the crocodile scream at the end and Pop !  Goes the Weasel. The great thing about kids is they don't care how bad your singing is.

My IPOD  lives in my sewing room and when I'm sewing is almost always on. There are some truly tragic songs on that IPOD, according to Miss P ,  but it's my IPOD and I'll put questionable things on there if I want!

So today I'm going to assault your eardrums with a selection of songs from my IPOD.  Put it on in the background , go make a coffee or a cup of tea and listen while you're doing something you love.

This always makes me sing. Loudly  and badly.

My favourite song of ALL time.

Steve Winwood

Loved this song in my 20's!

The song Mr. P picked as our wedding song.

It's safe to say I adore Sting. The man is a musical genius. In other random musical facts, the last two CD's I bought were Best of Spandau Ballet last year and Pink "Funhouse" . I really like Top 40, anything 80's and I even have Michael Jackson and Enya.   Now you know all my dirty little secrets...

Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Am The Quilting Queen Of The World!

My post title works so much better if you can conjure a mental image of me standing on my sewing table screaming that sentence  at the top of my lungs...

My working week is now over and I am free to be me for the next 3 days. Op shopping with Miss and Little P is planned for tomorrow and then we are going to come back here to do a craft project which I may or may not show depending on how it all works out.

My vow this week was to sew my little heart out - even after work - no matter how tired I was, and try to spend less time on the computer and more time achieving concrete things with my life. I know many of you think I get stacks done but the truth is I still spend at least  40 hours a week on the computer at home. Imagine how much more I could achieve if I spent that time doing other things! This week I decided to put that to the test.

So this week after work I got all of Little P's ABC blocks finished . See that block in the front at the left. I'm seriously thinking about trying hand stitching something on that. It could get ugly!

The Lounging Around quilt binding got cut, sewn and pressed

I sewed 65 more Dresden fans.  

And Lounging Around got squared up and the excess fabric and batting was cut off.

Tuesday night I turned 65 Dresden fans  right side out and pressed them. When I get rich I'm going to hire a presser to do all my seams and other quilting related ironing...Mr. P already does my clothes so the only time I touch an iron is when I'm quilting.

I machine sewed the binding to the front of " Lounging Around" and contemplated the upcoming horror of hand stitching it to the back.

On Wednesday night I  designed and printed my first ever  quilt label for Mr. P's quilt. Kate sent me fabric sheets to play with. Bless you Kate and thankyou again. I'm a convert.  I cant show you the label  -it's a secret until the official unveiling of the finished quilt. I also made two more Dresden fan circles. I would have made more but my machine was being temperamental and by 10pm so was I.

I'm looking forward to Friday Night Sew In. I'm going to work on this box of neglected snowballs. I see another PhD finish in my future. You will note I am avoiding the Christmas quilt I started last August. Why didn't someone have the guts to tell me it was truly ugly when I proudly showed it off?

Maybe tonight I'll treat myself and veg out in front of the TV, with a bag of something snowballs.

P.S. I was a guest blogger at 13 Woodhouse Road this week. Pop on over for a look.