Thursday, August 4, 2016

Monthly Goals: August 2016

Sorry this is late.  I ended up having to re-evaluate my goals for the month to be more realistic.  First, there were the garden goals, which I totally scaled back.  I went into the garden this morning and just found slugaggedon and other terrible things happening.  I had placed eggshells around the seed beds to try and deter the slugs along with DE and what I had left in the beer traps, but nope, the slugs merely slithered over the bodies of their dead comrades and then latched onto whatever plants they could find.  There was netting around my one seed bed, but the birds managed to peck around it enough that they got through.  I actually had a couple of chickadees trapped UNDER the netting, for all the good that did my seedlings.  The slugs attacked the swiss chard and actually cut through the large stems (the amount of slugs around the stems...shudder...I won't paint that picture) and the small plant stems too, so I sucked it up, knocked slugs out of the way and salvaged what I could. 

I only have a few small seedlings left and I'm worried if the birds are going to get them first or the slugs.  It's depressing, but I'm struggling on for the few fighters that are left.  I even had to pull the carrots today as the slugs were attacking the greens by climbing them until they knocked them over so the other slugs could then climb on top of them (so it seemed anyway) and were just going to town on them.  Since they have gotten about as big as they are going to get this year, I just pulled the smaller carrots and put them in storage.

Bright side the peas are still doing excellent, so I am getting a really good amount of peas for this winter.  I was worried with how they were growing so tall that I was going to have major issues with the trellis falling over, but with the one center support that I levered up against the trellis system, instead the peas climbed and then fell forward, but stopped because the trellis was supported.  This is actually a benefit as it allows me to be able to pick the topmost peas where before I was worried I was going to need a ladder to reach them *laugh*.

Oddly enough?  The two lettuce plants are still alive and are actually still in pretty good health, despite the ravaging the garden took.  Go figure.

When it comes to other goals, Christmas is starting to take more of a priority in the coming months.  I have 30+ gifts to make on top of my husband and kids, so I want to make sure I'm not panicking come December to get the rest of the gifts done.

I'm also making food preservation, once again, a priority this month to make sure the pantry is in tip top shape for winter if I can manage it.

So, let's get onto this month's goals shall we?

Sewing Goals:
  • Work on mending, especially work jackets for husband (we put this off as he is working for two companies right now, but we have been unable to find him some good three season jackets without a logo on them, so it's back to replacing zippers and patching his old ones).
  • Work on Christmas Gifts that require sewing

Cleaning Goals:
  • Get kid's rooms washed down, if the weather gets dry enough that they will dry (right now I'm actually worried about mold as it is SO humid, so I've been putting it off).
  • Clean ceiling fans.
  • Deep clean bathrooms
  • Go through pull all pants that are too small for son out of dresser and laundry as I find it and put it into the donation pile (yes, he grew up another size in pants.  Again).
  • Clean the rest of the camper.

Pantry Goals:
  • Can Pears
  • Can rhubarb from freezer
  • Can cherries from freezer
  • Make strawberry preserves from strawberries in freezer
  • Work on dehydrating some things to put into lunches for pantry

Garden Goals:
  • As plants die pull up and amend soil where they were.  Plants in planters as they die, dump, check status of wooden planters and figure out if they are worth salvaging.
  • Continue to harvest peas
  • Nurse seedlings.  Sacrifice something to the gardening God (kidding...kind of *laugh*).

General Goals:
  • Keep on top of menu planning.  Try at least one new recipe a week.
  • Keep on top of prices for produce at you pick farms and stores to get as much into the freezer and pantry as possible.
  • Work on speech homework with my son.
  • Get kids back to school and established into the new school year.
  • Get some through allergist appointment with son with NOTHING going wrong (power of positive thinking!).
  • Get myself through husband being out of town (potentially several times this month).
  • Continue to organize kitchen and pantry to work better for winter.
  • Work on getting master bedroom closet better organized and emptied out as much as possible.
  • Work on non-sewing themed Christmas gifts.
And there you are folks.  My goals for this month.  How about you?  Up to anything?


  1. My shopping goals this month includes buying school supplies. I'm monitoring the fliers for the best sale prices. I also will need to buy some "new" school clothes. First I have to prepare my daughter that we will need to go to clothes shopping which includes trying lots of things on (she HATES clothes shopping), so we'll have lots of fun (note the exaggeration in that comment). My husband usually takes her shoe shopping too.

    I finally saved some corn husks, so I want to try making those Angels you made. Do you have a good tutorial link, Erika? It would be greatly appreciated. Hoping they turn out well to use for teacher & EA Christmas gifts.

    As always, I am monitoring and buying up in season produce to preserve for winter. I also buy up really good sale items as they become available too. My garden is pretty much spent, other than some tomatoes and peppers that are still ripening. But I will need to collect seeds from the heirloom peas and beans once they dry.

    A couple years ago, I decided I would no longer buy things like granola bars, pudding cups or store bought cookies for my daughter's lunches. I am perfectly capable of baking lunch items at a fraction of the cost. I bake up batches, wrap them up individually and freeze them to pull as needed. I also buy boxes of instant pudding and make those every once in a while in reusable containers. Much cheaper and more healthy as there is real milk the pudding. I made homemade "fruit roll ups" in the dehydrator from frozen fruit, which was a huge hit last winter. It makes me feel good knowing that the treats she takes are better for her. My daughter doesn't start back to school until September (when my work also finishes up), so the baking goal will be on the list for next month.

    I hope everything goes well with your son at the allergist and while your husband is away. Just think, he won't be eating up your pantry food while he's away and he's making money while he's gone too. Add that to the power of positive thinking!

    1. With the corn husk dolls, to figure out how to make the basic form I used Martha Stewart's tutorial. Course them being professionals and all their corn husk dolls look better (and they buy their corn husks *laugh*). The tutorial link is here...

      I combined that with a couple of other basic tutorials I found online, but here's my way of doing it.

      1. Take about six corn husks. I used green ones as that is what I had and found them easy enough to deal with, but they recommend the dried ones from the Mexican food section and such. Find the "slim" end of the corn husks and line those up as your top. Go down about two inches and tie off all the corn husks in a bunch, tight (I used embroidery floss).

      2. Take your now tied off corn husks and flip the entire thing upside down so the wider ends of the corn husks are up toward your face. Take your hands and separate into two bunches, one in either hand (three and three, or four and four, or however many you use...just be sure you use at LEAST six total corn husks for this project or you won't get the bulk you need). Now take your two "pieces" and fold them down like you are peeling a banana, essentially and form them around the knot you made when you tied the corn husks together. This will be your head, so try and shape it as well as you can to the shape you want and tie under it tightly with some more embroidery floss. Next go down and figure out where you want your body to end and tie off again tightly with some embroidery floss. If you are making a corn husk with a dress the area below where you tied off your body is now the bottom of the dress so shape it into a dress like form by pulling the corn husks out and "fluffing them".

      3. To make the arms, take a corn husk and using some good utility shears (or scissors you don't care about) cut the corn husk down lengthwise into three equal parts, stopping about an inch from the end. Now take your three strips and braid them together. When you have about an inch left (or if you have super long husks, just until the arms are as long as you want them to be), tie them off on BOTH ends (the one end that is all still connected I just went down the newly formed braid a bit and tied it off there).

    2. 4. Separate out your corn husks that make the body of your doll and thread the arms through the center of the body, pull out the other side until the arms...well look like arms! Now take your scissors and cut the arms down to a bit past your tie offs for your arms to form the doll's hands.

      5. For the hair I found some thinner corn husks (more flexible and won't come out super thick that way) and used the same method for the arms to braid some hair for the dolls. To attach to the head, I folded the braid over the top of the head and then used more embroidery floss secured around the bottom of the doll's head to hold the braid in place (if you get the braid nice and tight to the doll's head this works really well!).

      6. To make the wings, make a layer of two corn husks (or you could do more if the corn husks are thin I suppose). You want decently wide ones as when you fluff the corn husks you want them to look like wings, not hair, so try to keep that in mind when picking your husks. Tie the two corn husks tightly in the middle to flare them out like wings a bit (don't worry about fluffing them up to be wings at this point though, that comes in a minute!). Now you can secure the wings in two ways. You can secure them by weaving your string around the arms and go in an "x" over where the wings are getting tied to the back a few times and then tie securely to the doll (I would tie them where the "waist" tie for the doll was), or you can take your scissors and cut a couple of slits carefully in the back of the doll and then thread your wings through the slits. I found both methods worked equally well, although I did have to cut away my ties on the dolls once there dry pretty much everywhere and retie everything to make sure they were nice and tight (no worries, though, everything stays in place once dry so retying isn't hard).

      7. Take your wings and carefully move one layer of the wings up and the other one down (the same on both sides) and then fluff them up to look like wings as you pull and stuff you'll manipulate them around the knot you tied in the middle of the wings and such. It might take a bit, but it'll come together.

      8. Fluff your skirt nice and pretty and then find a nice spot for your angels to dry.


    3. Thank you for the tutorial, Erika. There are some girls at work that have been making rag dolls, and this sound like the same basic method for making both. I looked at the Martha Stewart tutorial, but they looked a bit different than yours, so I thought I would ask what tutorial you did use. Thanks, again. I'll let you know how they turn out!

    4. Yeah, that was as near to the one I used as I could find. She had a different one that was up for making Thanksgiving themed corn husk dolls and had a lot of pictures and things (and was closer to what I made), but for the life of me I can't find it now. I'm not sure if I'm looking up the wrong wording on the search engine or what.

      I actually did look up making rag dolls to help me with the corn husk dolls as the corn husk doll tutorials were kind of confusing to me. I found the rag doll directions easier to follow and figured it would give me a similar end product (which it did). Good luck making yours and I hope they come out as pretty as the Martha Stewart ones do :).

  2. Erika, it is really great that your son is growing. I know you worry about his diet, so growth is really positive!

    Not to pry, but I hope the extra jobs are alleviating some financial pressures without new costs showing up. I know it's tough for you when your dh is gone, though. My dh probably has a trip for work in his near future, too. Being busy (and tired) from school starting might make the time go by faster for me.

    I must continue to grocery shop regularly, meal plan, and cook at home. (It's odd that when I get busy or stressed, cooking is the first thing to go. I can always manage to keep the house clean and the laundry done. My kids are older and don't drag out toys, etc.) I still have to get my classroom ready, take kids for haircuts, and shop for kids' clothes. Our school purchases all classroom supplies for pupils which is super helpful!

    I have my wardrobe "spruced up" some. I got a pedicure today with a birthday gift certificate. I also got some new jewelry for my birthday. I don't need a haircut, so I guess I'm set there.

    I'm looking forward to the gift posts! Will anything be embroidered? I want to learn that art. Is back stitch the easiest for a beginner? I'm fairly new to crochet, but I have happily completed several cute gifts and baby blankets/afghans. I think maybe like crocheting, I could begin with one stitch and go from there.

    1. Right now the extra jobs are a mixed bag. The second job is DEFINITELY helping save our bacon when it comes to money as work with my husband's company has been sporadic at best, so having another source of income has been super helpful.

      The jobs out of town are definitely a mixed bag. Going to Nome did make us money, of which I was incredibly grateful for that anyway, but one job he's going on probably later this month required him to get a passport to drive through Canada, and while his company paid for part of it we still had to foot the bill for a substantial amount of money, which was irritating. I HATE starting a job and you're already in the red about 70.00. I'm not sure about the job he's going to go down to do on Monday. He's working in Kodiak, which I'm not sure how expensive it is to eat there but things tend not to be cheap up here as a whole. The worst part of him being out of town, besides my son's mood being awful, is that my husband doesn't know how to cook or anything and can't really bring food with him, so he ends up eating out three times a day for however long the job lasts. That adds up fast. He's demanding per diem on this job though, so we'll see where we end up in the end.

      I do have some embroidery items to make, for sure.

      Back stitch is a great stitch for some things, especially if you want super straight lines on your project, but the real "glue" that holds embroidery together is stem stitch. It's basically like hand sewing a rope as you go along. It seemed kind of odd to me when I first learned it, but them I quickly realized the advantages. One is that your outline stitches end up being nice and clear this way (because they are thicker) and it's easier to go around corners and make the line look nice and seamless. If you can master stem stitch you can do outline types of projects, like say the flower napkins I made, without issue. The next two things that I consider the most important to learn are your filling stitch (which is actually just a matter of making sure you stagger your stitches as you fill so you don't have clear cut lines of differentiation in the filled in space) and the french knot (which vexed me for YEARS!). But, yeah, if you can get stem stitch down the door is definitely open to you on embroidery :).

      I learned to embroider just by looking up embroidery stitches on Pinterest and going by the diagrams on how it was done. Worked great.

    2. Amy, I would add the split stitch, the satin stitch, the daisy stitch and the chain stitch (which is just the daisy stitch made into a chain), to give a few more options when doing embroidery. Each stitch offers a different look or texture to your embroidery. All of these stitches (including the ones Erika recommended)are easy to learn through diagrams. But if you are still not sure what to do when following a diagram, there are lots of YouTube videos that you can watch, which might help answer any questions you have on how to do the stitch.

      Once you master those easy stitches, one of the more difficult stitches I learned (which I am self taught from diagrams as well) is the bullion stitch. If you can learn the french knot, this is one step more difficult. However, there are lots of really cool things you can do with this stitch (including beautiful roses), so it is worth trying to master.

      I taught myself how to embroider about 3 years ago and picked it up very easily (perhaps because I'm a very visual learner and I used to do cross stitching). I have since taught many youth interpreters at the pioneer village how to embroider. Some pick it up very easily, while other struggle to grasp even the simplest of stitches. On the flip side, I struggle to follow knitting and crochet patterns, while others can do it in their sleep. Everyone has their talents, but you won't know which are yours until you give it your best shot. So don't be afraid to go for it! Good luck, Amy!

    3. Thank you, ladies, for the information and encouragement. I am sure I can learn. The first thing I crocheted was unrecognizable, and it was just a potholder! Ha!

  3. When it's food preservation and canning season that becomes my number one goal. I'm grateful that while that's going on my husband picks up the slack and takes care of the laundry and vacuuming and keeping the bathrooms in tip top shape. I need to get back to creative menu planning this month and carve out some time in the day to work on Christmas gifts. It's hard to believe it's August and football season will be here very soon. Another goal is to have homemade game snacks on the pantry shelf and in the freezer. Dorothy

  4. If you found a nice jacket with a logo could you cover it with a nice embroidered patch with his name or just a cool piece of fabric (camo or otherwise) to hide the logo? Just thinking...might be easier then repairing the old ones and then his jacket would be newer and last longer...

    1. I could do that definitely. Unfortunately, we haven't found any of those that would fit him either *laugh*. Finding clothes that fit my husband can be challenging. He's really wide in the shoulders, long in the arms and then normal in the torso. He always says he has an "ape build" which makes me laugh, but it does make finding things like jackets challenging as men's jackets especially it seems like they make larger sizes larger in the gut, but no where else, so my husband is bursting them at the shoulders and in the arms (he's got really muscular arms too), but he's swimming in them otherwise. For years we bought work jackets through one outfit that we really liked, had jackets that fit him well and everything was good. And then they stopped making the jacket. So, now we're on the hunt for another option and aren't having a lot of success so far. We will continue the hunt, though!

    2. My husband is very tall so it is hard to buy clothes for him too!!

  5. The slug picture made me shutter. Still trying with these stupid tomatoes. Like a said before, my family would starve if we depended on my farming skills. My dh told me to just go buy some at the farmers market. Love that man. Cheryl

    1. I'm laughing SO hard right now is that is EXACTLY what my husband told me last night when it came to turnips and beets as I was picking slugs up and dropping them into the beer traps.

  6. We solved the jacket problem at our house. I found 2 new name brand jackets at the thrift store and they had a logo patch on the chest. They could not be removed so I went to the fabric store and bought 1/8yd of matching fabric. A friend with an embroidery machine attached a patch over each logo with the matching fabric, Her machines fine stitching makes the patch almost unnoticeable. The cost of the fabric $1.25 and a large fresh bouquet of flowers (from my garden) for my friend and we had two jackets that would have cost about $250 brand new. Hope this helps!

    1. Nice find!!! I hope I can find something like that, too!

  7. The mental picture you painted of the slugs...YUCK!
    I have a question: will the slugs die after the first frost? If so, all you have to do is keep everything alive until then. Here is an idea, do you think you could cover the seedlings with a glass jar or a bowl? When I have been hit with late spring frosts, I have used my canning jars to cover my seedlings. Once I had about 50 jars out in the garden and it looked so funny. Is it too hot to put plastic over everything? Plastic heats up REAL fast so you would have to vent it. What about a covering it with interfacing type fabric? The plants could still get sunlight but the bugs could not get to them. If you have a small piece of fabric or a thin sheet, it would be interesting to see if that would work. You said you wanted to have a fall garden, well maybe you might need to start covering it earlier?
    The other idea would be to start seeds in a bucket on the porch then transplant the big seedlings out into the garden after the frost. You would have to be careful not to damage the roots and it would be a big experiment.
    I have to start ALL my spring plants on my porch because nothing and I mean NOTHING would survive the bugs. Big plants like watermelons are the exceptions. I make paper cups out of newspapers and put the seeds in them. That way I can plant them after they are up about 4 inches and not bother the roots. This spring I had almost 200 plants started. My front porch looked like a greenhouse but I don't care. It is what I have to do. It has taken me years of failure to find out what really works.
    I know what it feels like to try and try and try over and over again only to be beaten by a STUPID LITTLE TINY BUG!!!! You are smarter than the birds and slugs; however, they are more in numbers and have nothing better to do than to figure out how to eat your food. YOU CAN WIN!!!!

    1. Well, I went out this morning and covered what I could with some big clear plastic rubbermaid containers. I'll jet out there a couple of times a day to check out the seedlings and vent them so they don't get too hot and then water them and such.

      Sadly my middle seed bed isn't growing much of anything anymore between the birds and the slugs. Except mushrooms. Those are growing there. I mean, yeesh!

    2. Mushrooms! At least there is SOMETHING they won't eat. Jeannie