Thursday, August 20, 2015

How to Make A 30 Second Skirt From a Thrift Store Dress

I hesitate to share this tutorial.

Only the backwards dress exposes one of the weird things I do all the time that no one notices...and I'd like to keep that way.

However, I can not in good conscience sit on this secret and withhold it from my fellow thrifty sisters (new band name) any longer.

If you see a dress like this with a fabric you love but you know you can't wear this kind of dress because of the ridiculous teeny boob triangles. BUY IT!

If you go thrift shopping you'll see a ton of these dresses. Everyone makes them. Everyone sells them cheap.  Tons of people fall into the trap of buying them and then they waste away in closets because:

- Only 98% of the population is lucky enough to be able to utilize the triangular boob flaps.
- Layering with something under this looks sloppy.
-Pinning is a gamble.
- It's too hot to layer.

So what's a girl to do? 

Simple. Take some sharp scissors and cut off the boob triangles. Now you've got a skirt! These dresses typically have about 50 layers of elastic shirring under the triangles and that's perfect for creating a no-sew skirt. As long as you're careful when you cut it'll all hold together in the wash...and let's face're not tucking your shirt into this skirt so no one will ever know....unless you blog about it.

The best part is that because of the 50 layers of elastic you can buy virtually any size.  Just hold it up in the store and stretch to make sure it'll fit. And if you mess up? It was probably only $3 to begin with.

Give it a shot!

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Best Sandwich Bread

I found this recipe somewhere on the Internet months ago and instead of pinning it like I normally do I wrote it on the back of an envelope. Now the envelope is dingy and crumpled because I've made this so many times since then. It's an easy and foolproof bread to make that turns out fantastic so I wanted to write the recipe down before I lost this envelope because that would be terrible.

Great for slicing, toast, and sandwiches. It's very dense and makes a substantial loaf comparable in size to store bought bread.

You'll need:
1 c of water
1 c of milk - both should be just warm enough that you can notice they are warm
2 1/4 t yeast
3 T honey
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour
2 c all purpose flour
1 c regular oats
4 T cooled, melted butter
1 T salt

- Mix your warm liquids with the yeast and the honey and let it sit. If it foams up a little and smells yeasty then you can proceed. If it doesn't your liquid is too hot or too cold or your yeast is too old.

- If the yeast checks out then you can add everything else and knead or mix with your stand mixer. I use my stand mixer. Mix/knead until it is all combined.

- Cover (I use a plate) and let rise for at least one hour.

- Mix/knead again and plop it into a large loaf pan. Smoosh it around until it's loafier. Let is rise for another hour.

- Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

An Update from the Biological Field Station

I've had some cool visitors stop by this week.

This guy was hanging out on the Pooch Perch Porch last night. It's generally just Slug Fest 2015 out there every night so it was nice to see something a little different.

The highlight of my weekend was seeing that little guy hanging out in my make shift bird bath. I was watching him for a while as I watered my crispy flower bed and I was delighted to watch him catch and eat a wasp. It was amazing.

Work continues on the siding.

"What do you think we should do next?" 
"I have no idea."

One side is done, though! 

Did you know that coloring is the next best thing to meditation? I've been coloring for about a year...ok for about 29+ years...but one of my friends finally gave me a grown up coloring book. It's so much fun and so relaxing.

My fall seedlings are coming up great. I need to plant some lettuce on the PPP before I get too busy with work.

I've grown about 4 okras and I just harvested about 9 teeny potatoes. Some things don't seem to have that much of a pay off in the garden.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Teeny Watermelon

I have been itching to eat one of my teeny watermelons since they got to be about grape size. I have one that is almost as big as a grapefruit that I am letting grow a bit more but I couldn't resist picking one of the small ones that didn't seem like it was going to get any bigger.

Here is it with an average sized tomato for scale. It is very wee.

I thought when I cut it open that it would be white all the way through. I assumed the skin was going to be the thickest part. Imagine my surprise when it looked like this!

If I was making a click-bait headline it would be like, "NC Area Woman Cuts Open Tiny Watermelon. What She Finds Will Surprise You."

Lest you think I did it all for science. I did not. Once I discovered that it was pink inside I ate it. AND it was delicious!!! It was sweet and juicy and not a bit mealy.

If I was Martha I'd find a way to grow about a thousand of these for my classy party. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Summer Checklist- Results

If you're reading this it means I'm back at work and summer is OVER.

Ok, sure, we still have weeks of hot weather and astronomically and meteorologically speaking it is still, "summer." Buuuuuuut if summer vacation is over those are just technical details.

How'd we do on the summer checklist?

Raised Flower Bed
Raised Vegetable Bed
Shed- I'm counting the One Week Shed.
Downstairs bathroom
Siding-  It's almost done. Whatever.
Paint the house
New front door
Paint the "library"
Trim in the kitchen
"Quiet" the house
Get all of the junk out of the yard
Make the patio pond
Grow a million tomatoes
Go to Boone, Charlotte and the beach.

 Not bad, not bad at all. The good news about a never ending project house is that it's a lot like Whose Line is It Anyway. "Everything is made up and the points don't matter."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rampant Consumerism

This is not a sponsored post but I haven't done a "favorites" post in a while and I just had a very fun and thrifty day with my pal Yung so I thought I'd share with you some of the cheap thrills we had today.

So to start, not technically today, but thrifty consumerism related....I bought like 10 dresses at Ross (Dress for Less) yesterday. Most of them were navy. My kingdom for a short sleeved navy cardigan. Anyone know where I can get one for less than $20? As I told Yung, I don't want one of the ones that is just a boob sweater. You know what I mean? Women's clothing is so ridiculous. They'd never make a shirt for a man that has a fake necklace attached to it. Don't even get me started about micro pockets.

I spent the morning reading House of Silk which I got FREE at the library.  Isn't the library the best? Free books delivered on my Kindle is still the most amazing thing to me.

Today Yung texted me out of the blue to help her go plant shopping. She knows I have the hook up on Scratch and Dent plants. I took her to my favorite place for guaranteed results: Walmart. Our Walmart has an insane clearance section and she filled a whole cart for $14. That's the price of one plant at the garden center she went to yesterday. My clearance plants have all bounced back fantastically. It helps to know what's in season, to stick to easy to care for items that spread, and to buy compact plants that don't look too crunchy and don't have too many blooms.

After that we went to Big Bundts  and split a slice of cake with our coffee. This cake was....the best cake I've ever Durham...possibly in my life?! It was amazing cake. I really recommend this place if you need some cake. They make custom cakes for events too and the people who worked there were as sweet as the cakes.

After that we trotted over to the ReStore where we fell in love with a $40 mod dresser that had already sold. What a bummer.

Yung can't plant all those plants without soil so I filled one of our multiple yard bins with some of the huge pile of compost we got in the Spring and regifted some gladiola bulbs a neighbor gave me.

At home I discovered more thrifty packages!

1. NEW GLASSES from Zenni Optical.  Glasses and sunglasses with a prescription for less than $30. That's without insurance. Amaza-zing. If you haven't gotten glasses from them you should. The only drawback, that I don't even consider at this point, is that they take about two weeks to come once your order them. As long as you don't need emergency glasses, it's worth the wait. I bought a pair of tortoise cat eyes and re-bought my favorite wood grain wayfarers in my new prescription.

2. A new dress from ThredUp!  They are like an online consignment shop. One of the blogs that I read had an offer where if you click the link you got $20 to spend. I got a gorgeous new dress for $4.99!!! If you click THAT link I posted you'll get $20 to spend. :) Merry birthday! You're welcome. The dress I got came in a cute polka dot package and it was wrapped in tissue paper. They have a pretty big selection and some items, like the one I picked, are new with tags!  The cool thing about this site is it's an easy way to pare down your closest if you're too lazy to take things to GoodWill. They'll send you a free pre-paid  envelope you can put your items in and sell them for you. Sadly, I am not classy enough to have any of the brands they accept. But still....I'll spend a free $20 anywhere any day.

And it's the day for our CSA so I'm going to get some veggie surprises. YAY! What a great day!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pump Up the Jacks.

Thanks to working on this house I know about all sorts of things that most people don't know how to order a dumpster, what the inside of a well looks like and the best way to get staples out of the floor.

Now I can add pump jacks to the list of things I have sub-expert-level knowledge of.  Pump jacks are a home version of temporary scaffolding that is cheaper to buy out right than renting scaffolding. It's "easy to set up," OSHA approved and convenient to work on.

I ordered Qualcraft Pump Jacks and parts from Amazon and Ebay. I got the pump jacks used on Ebay and the brace and work bench on Amazon. I guess if you're lucky you can find them on Craigslist but we didn't see any close ones when we were looking.

Sunday Porter came over to set up the system with B.

It was not as simple as the YouTubes had lead us to believe because the roof of our house is very steep.

The boys spent some time thinking things over. 

"Whatcha thinkin' about?"
"Just Greg stuff."

But then they got it figured out and set everything up pretty quickly.

Once they got it set up they were thrilled with it. They demonstrated how safe it was for me by doing pull ups on it and by using it all the wrong ways. They are much more excited to use it than ladders and with Bb going back to work and Porter working on his own it'll be more convenient for him to be on something stable. 

I'm still going to keep my phone dialed to 9-1 just in case.

Pommy was also excited to check out the pump jacks...must be a boy thing.

Uh oh Pommy, you've got your laser beams on.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's All Still Happening

The summer is almost over. I have one more week of hedonistic revelry* before I have to go back to work.

*Also known as eating lunch out, reading a library book a day, getting pedicures, going to baseball games and seeing my friends.

Maybe by the time I go back to work Sugar will know how to use a nail gun.

Maybe my yard won't look like this anymore.

I can't even tell you how thrilled I am by the siding. It's not even done and it looks SO MUCH BETTER. 

Sneak preview of the new front door! I love it too!!!

B finished the weird trim spots on the other side of the house. I think that this is going to look good when it's done.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Reflections on the Garden

It's been a win some/lose some year in the garden for me. My garden looks great but I'm extremely frustrated with it. I planted too many wait- and-see plants and not enough harvest-as-you go plants.  Except for tomatoes! Tomatoes are working out great this year. The seeds I planted for cherry tomatoes didn't do squat but I have all the full size tomatoes I can handle. Plus our CSA is being generous in the tomato department too.

I've planted:
Tomatoes- doing great...especially the cherokee purples which are my new favorite tomato.
Cukes- Big fail. I've gotten like...3.
Basil- Awesome
Catmint- Pretty
Mint mint- Yum.
Oregano and spicy oregano- taking over everything
Sweet potatoes- healthy vines...we'll see
Potatoes- OMG I better get more potatoes than I planted this year.
Okra- this has done nothing
Peanuts- We'll see.
Jalapenos- doing ok but I think I need three more plants
Poblanos- No poblano.
Thai chiles- totally nuts...I have a million of them.
Strawberries- so good and they surprised me with a second round of fruit
blueberry bushes- looking like sticks
radishes- long been eaten
lettuce- overwhelmed by sweet potatoes
watermelon- has softball sized melons...when they are grapefruit sized I'm gonna eat one
eggplant- no eggplants...just leaves
squash- made a bunch of flowers and then died a terrible death
thyme- looking good
sage- looking good...but I have no idea what to do with it
sugar snaps- got planted too late
green beans- yanked out

As I'm reading this list it sounds kind of....insane...I had no idea I had so much squeezed out there.

Every year I tell myself the SAME THING; "JULIE STOP BUYING SEEDS AND JUST BUY SOME DANG PLANTS."  But every Spring when the seed catalogs come I start to drool and my eyes get bigger than my raised beds. Let's face it, I am terrible at starting seeds indoors and even though I have at least one friend who views it as "cheating" I do better getting plants from the Lowe Depot.

That's not to say that some things aren't easy to start from seed....I did a lot better starting cukes from seed last year than I've done this year. My zinnias and marigolds didn't come to play and even the generally fickle watermelons are making an attempt. I managed to grow a serving of green beans accidentally and probably could've grown more if I didn't have a mosquito induced temper tantrum. I had so many mosquitoes on me at once that I freaked out, pulled all of the bushes out of the ground and carried them, dirt and all to the kitchen while screaming guttural obscenities rather than spend one more second being eaten.

(Boys, if a woman yells, "NOTHING!" when you ask what's's not nothing but for Gods sake let's all pretend that it is for the time being. She's trying to do your health and safety a favor.)

But like, I know this about myself....and I'd be lying if I pretended I didn't have some kale and carrot seeds in my Amazon cart right now. I'm going to rip out the waste of space cucumbers and the shriveled squash and put in something for the fall.

My pumpkins are taking over the back yard and starting to make some teeeeeny pumpkins. I'm worried because the leaves have some blight. I am hoping that it miraculously survives. It's so amazing to me that these huge plants come out of such tiny seeds.

The real win of the summer is that I have finally planted flowers. I've been a veggie only girl for a long time so having a flower garden is kind of a new thing for me. The butterflies, bees and even hummingbirds have been an overwhelming improvement to the scene. Next year, when the yard isn't littered with construction detritus and ladders it'll be nice to let those gardens shine.

Inside I have gone overboard on scratch and dent orchids. Now that I know how to keep them alive and happy it seems a shame to not save them when I see them for a $1 in some bin.

It's rare I see a $1 orchid that's as big as this I really HAD to buy it.

AND miracle of miracles....I've actually started some lemon seeds! Hopefully I'll be able to coax them into something more.