Embroidering: A Quick Start Guide

One of the traditions for state officers in CA IORG is for them to receive a quilt at the end of their year of service. It is always a pleasure to take part in this and last year was no exception. I waited to post this until (hopefully) well after the quilt was finished and gifted to ensure I did not spoil anything.

I am pretty boring, predictable, and make the same square when the opportunity arises. All the squares are then collected and made into a quilt. My hand lettering skills are sub-par (I cannot be good at everything) so I print out what I want the square to say and then trace over it.tracing

Design fully traced and ready to embroider.
Design fully traced and ready to embroider.

Once I have the entire square traced out the way I want it I embroider the design. My design is simple and I have a lot of experience with embroidering so it takes a matter of hours (if that) start to finish. Finished Quilt SquareAfter a quick pressing it was ready to put in the mail to the quilt maker.

Designing and embroidering anything can seem daunting. Here is a recap of how you can do them on the fly.

  1. Gather all of your supplies. Most likely you will need: fabric, needle, scissors, floss, pencil, design, hoop or frame.
  2. Print out a design you want to replicate (or draw by hand if you fancy like that).
  3. If you can back-stitch you can embroider. Fancier stitches like lazy daisy can be learned along the way – there are even YouTube videos. If you cannot back-stitch, head over to YouTube or leave a comment and I will help you out.
  4. Trace your design and get started! As with anything in life, the hardest part of any project is actually starting it. Once you take the plunge you will notice that your biggest obstacle is usually your own mind. (This is not to say you may not get frustrated or have set backs, simply that those can all be easily overcome.)
  5. Press it out. Once you have finished your project get out the iron and press it flat. Pressing it gives it a finished look.

Most of all, HAVE FUN! Let me know in the comments what project(s) you made or if you have any questions! Happy embroidering!!

DIY – Auto Repairs

The LIST of repairs

My car is quickly approaching the dreaded 100,000 miles. Duh duh duuhh… the check engine light came on just before I took it for an oil change the other day.  $600.00 later I got a new thermostat and a list of some other repairs requiring attention in the very very near future.  Said repairs are general maintenance things, but to have the dealership do then will cost me a small fortune (like $1,700). I am by no means a mechanic, but I know enough to get by. I also know enough that I can get a new battery and install it myself (and/or get help from the AutoZone employee) for much less than $170.00.

Please do not mistake me, the gentleman at our dealership is very kind and not condescending or pushy. I simply know that the items on the list can be fixed for much less than what they would charge and can be done relatively easily. The internet has a wealth of how-to videos available in addition to car manuals and forums. You may also know someone who has mechanical experience or be brave and ask the store employees.

Who's idea was this?
Who’s idea was this?

Case in point: I borrowed my mom’s tools to change the spark plugs I purchased for $25.00. When I went to change them out I found that I needed an additional socket because my spark plug hoods are screwed closed. She brought them to me on Thanksgiving and my brother-in-law (who used to be a mechanic) changed them out for me while I held the flashlight. It took fifteen minutes, if that. I would have paid the dealership a whopping $200.00. I saved $75.00 just on this one repair.

Although not mentioned on the list, my passenger side headlight was out. I followed the online videos to change it out. I had to stop after taking off the bumper (yes, the bumper) because I did not have the right socket (note to self – buy sockets!!). Then the husband got home, reached his freakishly long fingers in, undid the cap thing, and changed the light. I then reattached the bumper, somewhat defeated. I am nothing if not good at following directions though. I have no idea what it would have cost us to have the light changed at the dealership or a service shop but I paid less than $10.00 for the light bulb. Even better, I got to take pictures of my boys “working” on the car – fun times!

Hard at Work
Hard at work on the repairs!

Auto repairs can be intimidating and costly – they do not have to be. Know what you think your limits are, like changing an air filter for instance, and do a little research. Chances are you are more than capable of doing the repair yourself and you will in turn save yourself some money.

September Recap

Your attention please! This is a post NOT about the CP Exam!! Yes, that is correct – you are welcome. Here is a list of things I did in September, that had NOTHING to do with testing…

  1. No-Spentember! That is right! We tried to not spend money on any unnecessary, unessential things. This included eating out, going to the movies, buying costumes, etc.
  2. Planned crafts/projects for October.
  3. Started using the UP band/app by Jawbone.
  4. Helped at an IORG event.
    On my way back from an IORG installation!
    On my way back from an IORG installation!
  5. Started dedicating time each evening to have personal conversations with my big boy.
  6. Dreamed about Starbucks’ espresso frappuccino. And I bought a few. And I am aware that I was supposed to not spend money… I did my best. That is all.
  7.  Debated on how soon after I pass the CP exam I want to start the ACP exam. Okay, so this was about testing, but not exactly about the CP exam I took.
  8. SLEPT

Now I bet you are wondering how successful we were with our No-Spentember (no spend September). We did aight. Money for us does not grow on trees, it surely is not hiding in our mattresses, nor is it carried over in our bank accounts from one month to the next. How do we manage? Grace, patience, and optimism. Oh yeah, and sales, coupons, smart shopping choices, etc. For the most part, we were able to keep our spending to all time minimums. I had Starbucks ten a few times, we ate out twice, I purchased items for my blogger swap, and the husband purchased alcohol once for a dinner party we hosted. All birthday presents, school supplies, and household necessities were purchased in August or we went without – i.e. when we ran out of paper plates at said dinner party. We did not have an absolute no-spend month like we tried, but we came close. It definitely made us think twice about making purchases, or not. I know that we will try again – I just have not decided which month to do next. Maybe January…

Framing a Finished Project the Easy(er) Way

I have been cross-stitching for years. One year, during summer school, when I was in sixth or seventh grade, our teacher taught us how to cross stitch using gingham fabric and I have been hooked since.

I recently finished (finally) a gift I have worked on for my older sister. Below are the systematic directions for framing it. Of course, similar instructions are also included on the instructions page. However, those always seem so complicated to me. What do you mean I need glue and cardboard? Anyway, this method has held up well for me over the years and today, I am sharing it with you. Read more