Life hint – random expenses

Assuming you have a budget (doesn’t everyone?) does it include the Random Expenses?

I saw this blog post on the other day: ‘Outsmart these 10 overlooked expenses’


and realized I didn’t even have all of these written down (Costco membership and HVAC inspection).

So, I guess I will be going through our budget to see what other random (on at least not often) expenses I need to add.

What random expense have you not been budgeting for?

Later – H

Life hint – dollar store deals

Hi.  I figured I hadn’t posted in a while (sorry, life has been busy) and almost every post I have in the queue requires a photo or something to finish it.

So, instead I decided to start randomly writing ‘Life hints’.  You are probably wondering what I mean by a ‘Life hint’.  Well, our daughter is in college and we have some other friends that ask my how I find my deals, etc.  I figured it was time to write some of them down.  (I will figure out how to make a page to list them, but that will be another day.)

So, today is the topic of the local dollar store.  If you know me I rarely go into a dollar store, but there are some products that I look at /buy when I do go in.

So, here are the ones I recently purchased:

- Toothbrushes:  I haven’t been able to find many (if any) coupons on manual toothbrushes lately and my local store that doubled coupons closed last fall (still sad about that).  So, I was very happy when I found Name Brand toothbrushes (3 to a pack) for $1.00.  Score!  A couple of those went in my hand basket.

- Greeting Cards:  Our local dollar store has greeting cards 2 for $1.00.  I was able to find some I liked and needed in the next couple of months – Easter, Thank You, Birthday, etc.

Spray Starch – Someone in the local Quilt Guild suggested I buy the cans of Spray Starch so I could starch the material before I cut it out.  For $1.00 a can I bought a couple and they worked just fine.

So, what are your favorite products at the dollar store?

Later – H

The Astronomical Star Challenge


I just read about this and definitely want to join in (definitely makes a connection between the Sciences and Quilting).

Originally posted on Catbird Quilt Studio:

Astronaut Karen Nyberg has invited all of us to join her in making a quilt! From NASA’s press release in October:

International Space Station Expedition 37 Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg of NASA, a lifelong lover of sewing, is inviting fellow crafters to join her in stitching together a global community space quilt.

Nyberg, who is in the final weeks of her mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, recently shared a star-themed quilt block she was able to complete during her limited free time in space. She is now inviting quilters from the public to create their own star-themed quilt blocks to help celebrate her mission and passion for the quilting arts.

“Now that I’ve tried my hand sewing in space, I can say one thing with certainty: it’s tricky,” Nyberg said in a video sent down from the space station. “This is what I’ve made. It’s far from being a masterpiece…

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Front bathroom remodel – part one

** Note:  This post was NOT sponsored by any person or company and all opinions are mine. **

We have a 20+ year old house.  A while ago we added wainscoting to the front bathroom (and updated the faucet), but hadn’t made any other major changes in years.

toilet, bathroom, remodel

Original 1980s toilet

Well, between the current drought in Northern Nevada and the toilet having flushing issues we decide it was time to replace the original toilet (that used about 3 gallons per flush) with a new toilet.

You would think this was a pretty easy change, but we had to do some investigating to find a toilet that would fit our requirements:

a) Round bowl – Even though our home was a custom home built on spec (built between customer orders to keep the crew busy) the builder did not believe in large bathrooms.  I know of a few houses in our area that were built by him – I am wondering if we all have small bathrooms (the floor in this bathroom is about 6′ by 6′).

b) Bone colored – Our bathtub and sink are bone colored so a white toilet just wouldn’t look good.

We finally figured out we could order a round bowl, bone colored toilet (that had good reviews) online at Home Depot.  We had the toilet delivered to the local Home Depot store so we could verify that it was in perfect shape before we brought it home.  This is since we had tried to order a round bowl, bone colored toilet from a BIG online place about a year ago.  We had that one delivered to the husband’s work (luckily) since it was shattered when they took it off the deliver truck (it was packaged in only the vendor’s original boxes).  The one delivered to Home Depot was in perfect condition and the original boxes were actually packed inside another box with extra packing!

So, we bought an American Standard H2Option Siphonic 2-piece, dual flush (0.8 GPF or 1.2 GPF) toilet, bone color and round front

Model 2889.216.021

It had 192 reviews and was $256.01 plus tax.

The handy husband installed it about two weeks ago and it works great!  It is really quiet when it flushes and since it uses less water per flush you don’t get burned if someone flushes while you are in the shower (a bonus we didn’t even think about).

dual flush toilet, bathroom remodel

New American Standard Dual Flush toilet

The new toilet tank is physically smaller than the original tank.  We kept the tank of the old toilet since I want try use it in the garden, but the husband smashed the old bowl (took one swing) and the pieces were put in the bottom of a tall planter outside.

In part two of the front bathroom remodel I will show the new flooring we also put in.  (If we were going to the work of replacing the toilet we decided why not change the original vinyl out at the same time.)

What remodeling projects have you taken on lately?

Later – H

** Note:  This post was NOT sponsored by any person or company and all opinions are mine. **

Sewing Clothes and YouTube videos

So, how much searching have you done on YouTube when it comes to sewing clothes?

I decided I wanted to make a maxi skirt as my first test of sewing with knit material.  So, I did a Google search and found a YouTube video by DIYmeesha that shows how to make one in 5 minutes.  (The only problem I saw is she did not show the skirt on her afterwards.  I may find another video to compare before I cut out my skirt.)

Well, from there I found she did a video on how to turn a pair of (too big) jeans into a pencil skirt.   

Wow, I had never thought of doing that, but boy that would be pretty easy.  So, I guess the next time I go to a church rummage sale, etc I will look at the ‘too big’ jeans more closely.

So, next time I want to find a new sewing project or need help in a step I will search YouTube, etc.

Do you have any favorite sewing YouTube videos that I should check out?

Later – H

Cool ‘Photo’ Book

Do you ever want to get a book and just look at the photos?  Well, the husband picked this book up from the library and we both really enjoyed it.

Earth from Space (Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum) by Andrew K. Johnston

Some of the photos are AMAZING!  It is a little scary to realize everything that can see seen from a satellite.

If you get a chance to look at this book let me know what you thought of it.

Later – H

Latest Thrift Store finds

So, one of the top topics requested per the poll was garage sale / thrift store finds.  Normally I would say there are not Garage Sales in Northern Nevada in January, but when I went down our street the other day a neighbor was having one (at first I didn’t believe it).  I have to say I didn’t have a chance to stop at the garage sale, but I did go to one of the Thrift Stores and it happened to be 1/2 price day.

a) I was able to get a needed blue 1″ binder that works perfectly for $0.50.

b) I was able to pick up four clothes sewing patterns for $0.50 (about 12 cents each).  Even when JoAnn Fabric’s has patterns on sale I can’t get a deal like that.

Well, just I decided to do a Google search for the patterns and I was shocked after I entered the first one.

Simplicity 2283 (never used and never opened) – One site had it for $15.95 and Amazon even had it for $6.94!  This one is for tops made from stretch knits.  Something I have never sewn with so I want to give it a try.

Style 2981 (never used, but has been opened) –  One site had it for $5.00.  This one is for skirts with a zipper.  I usually avoid zippers, but I have recently read some tips so I am willing to give it another try.

New Look 6802  (never used and never opened) – Amazon has it for $9.20!  This one is for dresses made from stretch knits.  Something I have never sewn with so I want to give it a try.  I am hoping I can turn this pattern into a PJ top if nothing else.

McCall’s M5894 (never used and never opened) – Walmart has it for $8.31!  This one is for ‘The Perfect Jean’.  I figured even if I didn’t make a pair of pants I might learn some tips of how to modify mine or buy ones that fit better.

Wow – never expected them to sell currently for those prices.  If I had paid the lowest online prices I would have spent $29.45.  I only spent $0.50 for all four so I ‘saved’  $28.95!  (I paid about 2% of the current prices.)

Once I have used at least one of these patterns I will have to check out the patterns the next time I am in a Thrift Store.

Since I won a piece of stretch knit from the blog last year I think I will use one of my ‘almost free’ patterns, that material and ‘Sew Knits With Confidence’ by Nancy Zieman book I picked up from the library to make a knit top.  At least if I start it soon it should be done before the weather officially turns warm.

What deals have you found lately?  - H

First perk from having a blog

If you don’t know it I made no money from this blog.  I know – shocking :-)

I do it since it is fun and I hope useful to someone.  That being said I am getting my first perk from having it – Free books to review!

Have you ever heard of  Bloggers (with over 30 followers) get free books for agreeing to do a review.

The first book I requested is

It’s A God Thing: When Miracles Happen to Everyday People

I had heard about this book from K-Love and was hoping it would (someday) be available at the library.  When I was just accepted by and was able to see the current list of books available I jumped at the chance of reading (and reviewing) this book. It has been requested and now I am waiting for the physical book to arrive ( said it takes usually takes 6-10 days to arrive).

So, look for my book review after I have finished reading it.  Oh, and I guess I need to figure out how to add the badge to my blog.  That will be one of the next things I need to learn.

Later – H

First hikes of the season

I hope everyone had a great New Year!  The family (including Pepper the Golden Retriever) went for the first two hikes of the year and these didn’t even require a long drive from our house.  The first one was on New Years Day.  We went for a hike in the hills behind our neighborhood.  We forgot to keep track of exactly how long we were gone, but it was about an hour.  Next time I will wear the pedometer / look at a clock before we leave the house.

The second one was a short drive away.  In a normal January we would not have been able to do these hikes without snowshoes or dealing with mud.

The worst part of these hikes was realizing how badly California and Nevada need some rain / snow.  I heard the other day that one of the Cross Country Ski areas near Lake Tahoe closed due to a lack of snow.  Right now they think it is similar to the droughts in the mid-1970s.  I remember those since I was a kid living in the Bay Area of California.  We had  a large trash can in our bathroom to collect the water that was run to warm the bathwater so we could flush the toilet, etc.  I have no idea what it was like in Nevada back then, but I know at least a lot of the houses around here did not exist.

Sierra Nevada Mountains, no snow

Sierra Nevada Mountains in early January 2014

I can’t believe that we are so warm and dry and back East is getting so much snow.

Want to trade?  Later – H


Poll – What do you want to see?

I figured it was time for a poll.  I have 30+ draft posts all needing a photo or something and new ones in my head.  So, I am trying to decide what topics you are most interested in (I will always have a little bit of a lot of topics, but trying to figure out which ones to finish first).

So, please vote for the top topics you want to see or add your own topic.  The poll will be open for a week.

Thanks in advance!  - H