Archive | December 2016

Domestic Hits and Misses, or That’s Why You Make a Muslin

This is a roundup of various success and failures I’ve had at home this month.

Drawer Repair

I went to open my bottom drawer and this happened.

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You may admire all my vertically folded KonMari’d clothes.

Then I pulled it out, removed the clothes, and foolishly left it lying on the floor. Little Brother tripped over it and then it was in five pieces.

Now, it seems like this should have been an easy fix. Spread wood glue on pieces, reattach. But after I put on the wood glue, I had trouble getting the pieces to line up properly. They didn’t go back tightly enough and the drawer would not fit in the space. It stuck out halfway. Aaaand now the glue had dried and it was fixed in that shape,

Now, at this point more than one person suggested I should abandon the project. But I like that dresser. It is old and sturdy and fits the space well. Taller and the TV would be too high. Shorter and there would not be enough room for my clothes. Wider and there would not be enough room for the Christmas tree. Plus, it was already there and I didn’t want to devote hours of my life to selecting and purchasing a replacement and reorganizing my clothes.

So I turned once again to sfgate’s home guides. I ordered a package of glue syringes (specifically, Big Horn Glue Injector Kit, from Amazon)–who knew there was such a thing? They come empty. I used one to precisely squirt white vinegar at the glue joints so they would come apart. With ten or fifteen minutes of soaking, a little tugging and a little poking with a flat-head screwdriver, this was effective. I had 5 pieces again. (The directions I looked at called for drilling into the  glue, but I did not find this step necessary.)

This time, I tested the fit before gluing. Then I used another of the syringes to sort of shoot glue into the joints with the drawer already assembled. I don’t know if it’s enough glue for the long term but it is holding for now. It fits into the space more tightly than before, but it does fit.

Sewing Fail

I am not sure why I thought a gathered skirt would look good. Because the instructions I was using (from Love at First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking) involved some things that were new to me, I made a sample first out of a curtain I bought at Goodwill. I did everything carefully both to practice my skills and because I thought it might come out wearable. I made and learned from a wide variety of errors while doing this, so that’s good. See below how dreadful I still am at attempting to finish a fabric edge by zigzag stitching, and see also where I managed to sew a zipper inside the waistband.

(Side note: A more experienced sewist told me that Tilly’s patterns are basically garbage anyway. I am not sufficiently knowledgeably myself to verify this.)

But once I had it all put together except the hem, I decided it was hideous and abandoned the project. I will find something else to do with the “real” fabric. Sunk costs: Less than five dollars and many skills learned.

I Made a Chalkboard

When we were married in 2001, the XFP’s stepmother made us a commemorative counted cross-stitch. She seemed like a nice lady (we met her only that once) and it was rather attractive as counted cross-stitch goes, and we dutifully hung it in our bedroom for 15 years.

I had been wanting to make a chalkboard from an old frame ever since I read about it in the Frugal Girl. So, no longer desiring a commemorative cross-stitch from my wedding, I disassembled the whole thing, removed and cleaned the glass, and painted it with chalkboard paint that I bought at Hobby Lobby. Glass chalkboard paint turns out to be kind of a pain to use as it had to set for four days(!), then be baked in the oven to finish. But eventually it was done.

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Perhaps I should revise phrasing so it does not appear that Daddy is on the supper menu.

I use it as a menu board. You may notice that Saturday has only an activity listed (who cares what’s for dinner? POPCORN NIGHT!) and Sunday was blank. It is not perfect. But I can talk to the boys while I fill it out about  what our week will be like and when they will be at Daddy’s house, so it adds some nice predictability. The paint was about $4 and I have enough to do a little more glass if I wanted to.

The mistake I made was trying to use a regular sponge. The directions said to use a cosmetic sponge. I didn’t have any, so I tried using a kitchen sponge, which made for a very striated first coat. For the second coat, I used a foam paintbrush, which worked much better. In fact, it was a TOY foam paintbrush stolen from the children. I am not wild about the rippled texture but it doesn’t seem to do any harm. I am in general pleased with this project and I like the nice bright markers (which were about $5). Some people complain that chalk markers don’t erase well, but I am not having that problem so far.

What projects have you been working on lately? What are the results?

November Spending: That’s Not Good

I’ll tell you up front that I ran a deficit in November. Happily, I was able to cover the shortfall with savings and anticipate a rosier December. Here’s how it broke down:

Income

Support, minus my share of utilities for old house: $634.29 (this number excludes $183 that went to the XFP’s share of kid spending, which I do not count as either income or expense)

Library take-home pay: $1338.69

Substitute teaching take-home pay: $254.68

Christmas money: $200

Selling snow tires on Craigslist: $100

Total income: $2527.66

Expenses

Rent: $989

Home supplies and furnishings: $158.47 (includes an electric blanket for me, counter stools from Craigslist, and a variety of miscellany)

Laundry: $45 (still have several loads left on the card)

Bike supplies: $25.97 (I keep bleeding on this category! This is new tubes for me–3 for the price of 2–and lights for Big Brother’s bike, minus some Amazon credit I had lying around)

Car things: $1072.90 (Junkyard OEM wheels to put my snow tires on, plus I went $700 over my budget from the Frugal Patriarch)

Stamps: $9.40

XCel Energy: $17.45 (includes start-up charge)

Ting: $26.75

Internet: $9.95 (OK, it’s slow and not that reliable, but I LOVE charity internet!)

Annual life insurance bill: $116 for $100K coverage

Groceries: $221.26 (Finally some improvement in that category!)

Wine: $14.01

Gas: $62.65 (Because I absent-mindedly put a full tank of gas in my car right before I traded it in!)

Boys’ allowance: $9

Work childcare: $8

Kids’ health: $175 (That’s half of a $250 ER copay plus half of $100 in babysitting for the lady who came to pick up Little Brother while Big Brother and I stayed there until 2 AM. BB’s tongue is all better now but it sure was grueling. I expect a bigger bill later.)

Restaurants: $40.04

Coffee shops: $17.18 ($13 below my average! Look at me showing some restraint!)

Frippery: $50.94

Sewing supplies: $17.44

Artificial Christmas tree: $39.14

Miscellany at Target: $16.48

Annual rec center membership: $221.40 (WOW that’s a good deal!)

Shredding at Office Depot: $2.97

Total: $3357.42 

Analysis

(Note that the figures above do not include the ten thousand dollar gift which which I paid for almost all of my new car.)

Well, that’s a little alarming, a deficit of over eight hundred dollars. I had to just about drain all my savings categories. Obviously, having large car expenses was a major causative factor there. My earning power was limited by last month’s fall break (couldn’t sub) and a variety of ill-timed illnesses that fell on days I normally would have subbed or done on-call. I have sick leave at my regular job, but that wasn’t what I was missing. Ouch.

Fortunately, December is a three-paycheck month and the month in which I get my wellness bonus from my employer, so hopefully if I get my average hours-per-up before Christmas, I will be able to put on Christmas and still wind up in the black. And there are things I could have not skipped buying in November had I realized how short I was going to fall, so I think I’ll try more of a zero-based budget throughout the month. There is cause for caution, but not panic.

How was your November?