Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daily Ramblings - A weekend away

Please excuse my absence.  Husband and I just got back from a weekend away in Vegas.  The primary goal was to help my brother move into his new digs, which is not fun in 100+ degrees of weather, but at least it was fast and pretty painless.  We had two of the most amazing meals on Friday and Saturday nights - thanks to the fact that my brother works for the Wolfgang Puck group.  I may have eaten the equivalent of a week's worth of food in one shot, but damn it was delicious.  We rounded out the evening on Saturday by going to see Blue Man Group, which was a fun show and we had great seats (courtesy of my brother's boss - thanks Ryan!)  I am feeling thoroughly spoiled and very relaxed. 

Just some of my brother's rather extensive alcohol collection.  He always has been an over-achiever.  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daily Ramblings - A little retro fun

The most recent update of the Camera 360 app on my phone came with a fancy "retro" setting.  What better to test it with than take a picture of something truly retro?

Remember these?  This photo wasn't taken in the 70s but in my living room about 10 minutes ago!

Turns out you can buy a new version, although this is one of those were you just can't beat the original.  Apparently the new one has batteries, but I remember one of my favorite things was turning the crank.  Sometimes I wouldn't turn it enough and the song would stop playing too soon, but I loved winding it up all over again.  I had the British version of this, so the songs are probably different from the one that was available in the U.S. those many years ago - London Bridge, Camptown Races, Edelweiss...

Such a lovely piece of nostalgia and I'm very thankful to my mother for storing it away all these years.  When I  bought it home from England in my carry on luggage, I watched the guy at the x-ray machine stare at it for a while and tap his co-worker to ask an opinion on what it was, before passing it through.  Glad I tend to pack light because it was totally worth it to bring this home.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Daily Review - Extreme Couponing?

Last night, while flipping aimlessly through the TV channels, I came across Extreme Couponing.  I've heard of the show, and out of curiosity decided to watch it.  An hour later, I was still watching it in disbelief - these people are insane!  Now, don't get me wrong.  I love a good deal and I'm very proud of some of the bargains I've snapped up over the years (can we say 6 new tops for $18 at a local clothing store?)  I subscribe to the Entertainment Book and we usually check it for deals before deciding to go out to eat.  I also keep a few coupons that we get in the mail.  Overall, I think I was doing pretty well - until I saw this show!

There have been times when I've looked at my grocery receipt and seen that I saved more than I spend.  It does lead to a certain sense of accomplishment.  That part I get.  By the same token, I cannot fathom why they need so much stuff!  The people on this show refer to their stockpile - entire basements, closets, rooms just filled with cans, boxes, laundry detergent, and enough toilet paper to supply a hotel.  One lady had 66 coupons for mustard and so bought 66 bottles of French's yellow mustard.  [Apart from anything, husband is a good deli mustard purist so our marriage might be rocky if I brought home yellow mustard at all.]  I'm just wondering how much mustard one family can eat?!  It was also pretty amazing to see their disappointment that they may have miscalculated and have to pay $40 for their $600 worth of groceries instead of the $4 they planned for.  I can understand why other people in the store were just standing there in utter amazement watching everything unfold.  I'm sure I would do the same.

I can't possibly imagine spending that much time or energy clipping and organizing coupons.  I would also have nowhere to put such excessive amounts of stuff.  I'm pretty sure I'm ok not having enough body wash to last me the next 250 years, or 40 boxes of cereal at my disposal (unless I decide to start a commune).  On the other hand, for the couponers who donate their haul to charity, you're ok in my book.

It got me thinking what my savings tips are when grocery shopping though, and here's a few that I came up with:
- Brands aren't really that important for the basics.  Canned tomatoes are canned tomatoes.
- Most major stores show you a breakdown of how much something costs per oz for easy comparison.  The biggest size isn't always the best value!
- Even if there are only 2 adults in the house, buying the multi-packs of meat and then freezing into portions can save $0.20/lb or more.
- Keep an eye out for special promotions, such as buy 10 items of one brand and save $5 instantly at check out.
- Always use your loyalty card for each store.

If you are feeling an urge to start printing out more coupons though, just google "online coupon database" and you'll have lots of results to get you going on your next grocery store trip!

What are you favorite tips for saving at the grocery store?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Daily Craft - All done!

One beautiful thing about weaving is that it takes a fraction of the time to make a scarf compared to knitting, or even crochet.  Last night, after only a few hours of actual weaving, I finished up my first scarf on my Cricket loom and made the super cute twisted fringe. Something went slightly wrong with my tension in places as there are slight wiggly spots in the center section of the scarf (between the two blue stripes), and I wonder if that may have been a result of switching from the grey to the blue and back while warping the loom.  Seeing as I used acrylic for the scarf, I decided to steam block it using a damp pressing cloth, which helped straighten it out a little bit at least.  

I'm probably going to pass this along for donation to one of the various charities that we collect for at work as they often request synthetic fibers because they're easy to care for.

I definitely made a few mistakes while working on this scarf, which I'm grateful for as it gives me more knowledge to attack the next project with.  Now I just have to decide what yarns I want to use!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Daily Craft - My first woven!

So in usual slacker fashion, it took me a while to take photos and post about this, but I am excited to share my first woven items.  I had originally warped up for some cotton dishcloths using some cotton cone yard bequeathed to me by a co-worker who no longer weaves.  I used a little store bought cotton (which I always have to snap up when it's on sale) to make stripes and these dishcloths are the end result.  There's actually 7 or 8 of them but I figured you didn't need a picture of the whole batch to get the idea.  It was kind of funny to see how the last ones I did are so much better looking than the first couple.  I got to try a couple of different techniques with them though - including hemstitching and using a separator between them.  After I cut them off the loom, I hemmed them with a zig zag stitch on the sewing machine so hopefully they'll hold up to the task.

For those of you that don't use knit/crochet/woven dishcloths at home, I thought it was a bit of an odd concept at first - using something pretty and handmade to wash dishes; however, we're converted in our house and they get the job done without getting completely gross like sponges do.  They can be tossed in the washing machine, and come out ready to go again, thus pretty eco-friendly (yay me!)

In the meantime, I've warped on another project.  This time I'm going for a scarf.  The yarn is a grey acrylic for the warp (length), with a couple of blue stripes, and I'm using a mohair-style acrylic in a matching grey for the weft (side-to-side).  The result is really soft and my edges are much straighter, although I specifically chose this yarn because imperfections are being nicely hidden by the slight fizzy halo at each side.  That's not cheating, it's ingenuity.  :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Daily Ramblings - Friday Five

Somebody posted this on a board and I thought it was kind of fun, so here you go.

1 - Is today the end of your work week, or do you have to work this weekend?
I'm a M-F girl!  Always have been and hope that I get to keep it that way.

2 - What fiber(s) do you most enjoy working with?
I love knitting alpaca.  It's like buttah!  I haven't tried spinning with a ton of different fibers, but I'm always partial to a nice smooth merino.

3 - Any special plans for the weekend?
I was thinking about the Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA, but it only opened recently and I suspect there will be way too many people there for me to enjoy it.  Have I mentioned that I get seriously anxious when trapped in a room with the general public?

4 - Do you have any pets?
Anybody who has read this blog, or is looking at the header, knows the answer to that one.  To clarify - one furry cat and one furry husband.

5 - Love or hate summer and the heat? 
Love summer seeing as I'm getting out of work early for the weekend, don't love the heat once it gets past 85 degrees.

So, now you know my Friday Five, how about you?!
[Have a great weekend all.]