Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Free Chronicles of Narnia Audiobooks

You can download the Chronicles of Narnia Audiobooks here at Ancient Faith Radio! Right click on the direct link button and select "save link as." You can then save as an audio file. You must download each chapter individually, so it's a bit of work, but I think it's worth it! I created a folder for each book and put the chapters in that.

Thank you to Money Saving Mom for posting about this!

March MBH Newsletter

You can stop over HERE to read more about what's been going on at the baby home! Boom-Boom is ONE...can you believe it?!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saving money on craft supplies (Or, an ode to JoAnn's)

So with my intense crafting binges come the need for a lot of supplies. I do spend more on craft supplies than the average person - there's no way around that. (Exactly how much, I'm not sure. I've been loathe to add up my receipts and see how much of my original savings has dwindled away.) But I've learned a few tricks that help at least cut down on the cost.

#1 - Coupons.

I am in no way one of those extreme couponers that goes around to all the drugstores and essentially gets paid to buy 100 tubes of toothpaste. I mean, I would be, if I could make heads or tails of it - just think, free toothpaste for life! - but I'm not talking about grocery and household couponing here.

I frequent three craft stores - JoAnn Fabrics, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby.

JoAnn's has fabric, yarn, and various other craft supplies. I always go here first, because they have a fantastic coupon policy. For example, I can take in:

- A printable online coupon from RetailMeNot for 40% off one item (that doesn't show up on the JoAnn's website)
- A printable 30% off one item coupon from the JoAnn website
- A printable 50% off one cut of fabric coupon from the JoAnn website
- A printable 20% off your entire order coupon from the JoAnn website
- A 30, 40, or 50% off coupon from the JoAnn mailer - which you can sign up for free - if I've gotten one recently
- A coupon texted to my phone
- A printable 40% off coupon from the Hobby Lobby website
- A printable 40% off coupon from the Michaels website
- A coupon from a sales flyer I grabbed in the entryway, either on a previous trip or that trip

...and, theoretically, use them all in the same order - there's no policy against it. Now understand, I probably won't be able to access ALL of those coupons at once. In-store sales flyers are getting rarer. A lot of times the duplicate coupons (ones sent to my phone and the ones from the mailer) are each a 20% off your entire order coupon, so I can't use them both. BUT:

You can use 40% off coupons from the mailer, the internet (one printout from the JoAnn's website), a sales flyer, AND your phone (if you happen to have them all) IN THE SAME ORDER! That's a 40% discount off of multiple items. Plus, the competitor coupons. They have to be for an item both stores have, but I have yet to have a shopping trip where they haven't allowed it for something. (I could see them not allowing a Michaels coupon on fabric, for example, though, because Michaels doesn't carry fabric.)

Not only do they allow them, the ladies are extremely friendly and helpful in guiding you through using your coupons. I've had employees ask me, "Do you have any more coupons?" or the like, and the reason I found out about the coupon policy was because, when they asked this, I pulled out a Michaels or Hobby Lobby coupon and realized, sadly, that it was for the wrong store. "Oh, that's ok, we take competitor coupons!"

They have great customer service in other areas, too. I went in recently to buy fabric for a quilt and really had no idea how much I needed of each fabric. The girl I asked advice of went and found the quilter employee of the bunch and that lady DREW UP A DIAGRAM and helped me figure out exactly how much I needed of everything, how to cut it, how big a twin size quilt was, etc.

So, I always stop there first - I definitely have a strong loyalty to this store. =)

 Michaels has lots of craft supplies, but a rather poor yarn selection. (In my opinion - they have yarn, but not a lot of the basic stuff I need to buy a lot of.)

They take competitor coupons as well, but it has to be for a different denomination. I.e., if you have a Michaels coupon for 40% off, you can take in a 30 or 50% off JoAnn's coupon but not a 40% off coupon from another store.

I stop at Michaels second.

Hobby Lobby has to be the most enormous craft store on the planet. (Except for maybe a JoAnn's Etc, which we don't have nearby.) I get extremely confused just walking in there, but I've learned. mostly, where the stuff I need is - then I go there, do what I need to do, and leave! They have an enormous yarn selection, the largest of the three stores, including lots of natural fibers - wool, bamboo, and the softest cotton yarn ever. They have an enormous, gorgeous bead selection. I don't do jewelry, typically, but I like to look at it!

I typically stop at Hobby Lobby third, mainly because of their coupon policy - they don't take competitor coupons - unless I know the other stores don't have what I want.

Note: You can only use coupons from any of these stores on regular-price items. It's kind of my pet peeve to go in and realize they're having a 30% off sale on the item for which I had a 50% off coupon. On the flip side, though, Hobby Lobby had a 50% off sale on an item I needed to buy 5 or 6 of.

It's definitely worth the extra 5-10 minutes to find and print multiple coupons before you head for the store! I typically knock a lot of money off my total - not uncommonly, as much as $16.

 I will note: all three of these stores are in the same plaza at our mall/shopping center, so it's totally feasible for me to visit all three at once.

#2 - Yarn repurposing/scavenging

I generally only buy yarn at the store when I have a project to go with it. However, I like to stockpile yarn from another source - used crocheted or knitted items. I scrounge thrift stores on half-price day for items made from yarn - afghans, scarves, etc - in colors I know I will use. It definitely takes some extra work to unravel everything, but it's often worth it. I once got an afghan with a ton of colors for $1 at a garage sale. I don't typically pay more than $3 for anything, ever. I got seven scarves for $3.50 (50 cents apiece) last half-price day at Goodwill and they yielded a lot of yarn! Bonus: I get scraps of many, many colors that I can save to use in projects like my nativity sets. I hate to have to go out and buy a whole ball of an odd-colored yarn just because I need a tiny bit for one shepherd's robe!

#3 - Friends

Once people know you are really into this crafting thing, they will sometimes gift you with yarn/supplies they no longer need. Well, maybe it just happens to me because I'm going to Africa. But it's one idea. =) I want to make things with plarn (plastic grocery bag yarn) and I'm sure many people would not mind saving their excess plastic bags for me!

#4 - Save everything.

This is the one that will wreak disaster on your house. But it's true - I almost certainly WILL use whatever it is in a craft project, and when I do, I'll be glad I haven't sold it/thrown it away/donated it, as the cost of replacing it would typically be greater than any amount for which I sold it. I realize many of you "save it to use it someday" and never do, so the "if you don't use it in a year, toss it" advice might work for you, but it typically costs me money when I find out I did, in fact, need the thing.

Example of when saving was profitable: my journals. I bought children's books years ago - a whole box of them! what was I thinking! - to make upcycled journals. The box sat in the garage FOREVER. This year, I dug it out, thinking, "Stop buying more supplies! Use what you have!" and made 22 journals and sold 12 so far, raising quite a bit towards my support. Now if I could just find something to make with the insides of the books - I only used the covers. I have a lot of ideas pinned, but so far, probably nothing that would sell.

There are a few tips! If anyone has anything to add, please comment below! =)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bitty Bow Pattern

I have a lot of scraps of yarn. I like to think of it affectionately as my collection of strings-too-short-to-be-saved (although I still end up saving them). With an Easter craft show coming up this Saturday, I thought I'd put them to good use and make some hair clips.

Oops, I think I went a little overboard.

This is my standard go-to bow pattern, and I made a lot of those, but I ended up with even shorter scraps of yarn left over that were still too long to throw away. The bows I made from the pattern were fine, but I wanted something smaller.

Here is a very simple pattern for a smaller bow:

Ch - chain
Sc - single crochet
Sl st - slip stitch

Row 1 - Ch 9, sc 8
Rows 2-4 - Ch 1, sc across

Sc around outside edge of bow, working 3 sc in each corner. Sl st to close. Fasten off and weave in ends. Wrap yarn around the center of your rectangle until you are satisfied with the size of your middle. Fasten off. Either leave a long tail for sewing or weave in your end.

You can now attach your bow to a hair clip, or sew it onto a hat or anything that needs a bow.

Bunch of Bitty Bows

Larger bows

I love all these colors. The problem is, I can't replicate these as I'm using scraps from all the random colors I've almost used up.

Still love pink and purple just as much as I did when I was little!

Baby Ballet Slipper Pattern

I got an Etsy order for some ballet slippers last week, so I wrote down the pattern as I went. It's similar to various other patterns around the web, but I've tweaked it a little for size and the type of yarn I use, and added the criss-crossing ribbon in front. I originally designed them for my cousin's baby - she wanted something that tied.

Ch - chain
Sc - single crochet
Dc - double crochet
Hdc - half double crochet
Sc2tog - single crochet 2 together
Hdc2tog - half double crochet 2 together
Dc2tog - double crochet 2 together
St - stitch
Sl st - slip stitch

Hook size: H (5mm)

I used a 4.00 mm (G) hook and 2 strands of thin baby yarn held together. This pattern makes approximately a 3.5" sole - an 0-3 month size. If you are using worsted weight yarn, you might have to use a larger hook to get the same measurements.

Round 1 - Ch 10, sc in 1st st and next 7 sts. 5 sc in last st, 7 st up other side of chain, 2 sc in last st, sl st to close.

Round 2 - Ch 1 , hdc in st and next 7 st, hdc 2 in st (6x), hdc in next 8, sl st to first st

Round 3 - Sc in back loops around, sl st to close

Round 4 - Ch 1, hdc around, sl st to close

Round 5 - Ch1, 9 sc, hdc2tog, dc2tog (3x), hdc2tog, 9 sc, sl st to close.

Round 6 - Sc 7, sc2tog, hdc2tog, hdc, hdc2tog, sc2tog, sc to beginning of round and join with sl st. Break off yarn.

Heel flap - Join yarn 3 sts to the right of where you broke off your yarn. Ch 2, 6 dc across back of slipper, fasten and break off yarn.

Weave in ends.

Weave ribbon through the edge of slipper. It takes quite a long piece of ribbon (I didn't measure).

I just used it straight off the spool and didn't cut it until I was finished. Start weaving it in and out around the center front hdc, then work towards the heel. Ribbon will overlap across heel flap.

And there you have them - accessories for your little ballerina's feet! =)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fingerprinting Round 2.

I think I may have mentioned that I have begun visa paperwork. (I think I may have mentioned it several times - I'm excited, and I also can't be bothered to check...) This is bringing back memories of renewing my visa last May/June, and my friend's saying that went something like, "In South Africa, you kill one bird with three stones..."

USA: I call ahead and find out what time I need to go down to get my fingerprints taken. I promptly show up late (I've forgotten the proper times.) Too bad. Gotta come next week.

RSA: We go to the police station. Oops. It's a holiday. But the police officer hints (for a price) that he can take my fingerprints. No bribes for us though...

USA: I walk into the jail. I go up to the lady at the desk. She doesn't go out of her way to greet me, but she sends me in the right direction. I explain what I need. The lady is slightly confused for a few seconds (she thinks I wanted them done electronically, I think) but soon sends me to fill out a form.

RSA: I walk into the police station. The sign on the wall (SAPS - stands for South African Police...Service??) always makes me giggle a little...

The police officer asks (jokingly) for me to take him home to America. Although he's less interested when he finds out Alyssa is from LA. (Los Angeles, New York, Disney World, and cheese make up America for many non-Americans - kind of like lions, giraffes, and elephants make up Africa - which is one country, right? - for many Americans. Admittedly, our assumptions are cheesier. Although theirs include more cheese. Which they are right about, by the way. Love that cheese!)

I go to two or three different offices and explain what I need. The police officer, with a completely straight face, tries to send me through the doggie door - or whatever that random half door under the counter was supposed to be.

USA: I fill out a form.

RSA: I fill out a form. Everyone is rather confused because they think I dated it for December, which hasn't happened yet. I then must explain that Americans (unlike the majority of the world) write their dates differently - month/day/year instead of day/month/year. (I'm with them on this. It totally makes sense to put the smallest block of time first - the day.)

USA: I get my fingerprints taken, twice (for two cards). Pleasant surprise: I don't have to pay like I thought I did.

RSA: I explain what I need. I get my fingerprints taken approximately six times. Fingerprinting standards are rather different. The SAPS are very kind and accommodating, but they really have no idea how to get what I want. (I finally end up going back later that afternoon.) The manager comes out and I finally get what I need. With a smile, they strongly hint that they don't want to see me again anytime soon.

USA: The lady hands me a special wipe and a paper towel from the neatly folded stack at the fingerprint station.

RSA: Ink is everywhere - the tables, me, outside of its proper bounds on the fingerprint cards. I'm led to the bathroom, where there is a large jug of soap and the policeman fetches me a big wad of paper towels.

USA: I go to the post office. I drop it my fingerprints and the form in the mail. It gets there promptly. I never before found it amusing how seriously we take our mail service here in America...until I experienced mail in a different country. We have a SLOGAN, people!! "Rain, snow, sleet, hail..." There is also a sign at the local post office that proclaims that they are "Serving YOU with POSTAL PRIDE and PLEASURE!" (Weird capitalization: theirs.)

RSA: I dare not drop anything in the mail (is the post office on strike? Right in time for that new postman animated movie to be advertised on signs around town!) So I send it home with friends who are, fortunately for me, traveling back home.

USA: I execute all this while using my own awesome parallel parking skills - no waving car guard in site.

RSA: The car guard keeps me from absentmindedly parking in the reserved judge's space, right where the policeman on lunch can see me.

(No, thankfully I did not get a ticket!)

Bookbinding 102

I've been busy over here making more journals to sell! I thought I'd share a few more things I have learned.

I decided to make this batch with Coptic binding. I like the look, it makes for a more flexible book, and I don't have to deal with trying to find the perfect material for the spine! Also, it's less glue, less time, and less work. 

With Coptic binding, the book lies flat.

Here is the excellent tutorial I used that explained how to bind my book, including attaching the covers.

This time, I used waxed linen cord instead of thick sewing thread. It's available at Hobby Lobby in a number of colors, and it is commonly used for bookbinding. It's strong and the design shows up nicely on the spine because of its thickness. It is inexpensive and was even half off!

I'm still sanding down the edges to make them even, but here is a video that seems like it would be a feasible option to get a straight edge. Apparently the thing bookbinders use to cut the edges of their books is called a "plough." Basically, for the simple versions anyway, you clamp a book firmly between two boards and cut away a few pages at a time with a very sharp blade. I might try to rig something up, or I might just keep sanding away, but I pinned it for future reference.

I finally found a source for thick, cream colored paper - not the really nice expensive stuff from the bookbinding websites, but drawing paper. It comes in cream or white and is sold many places, in 9x12 or 12x18 sizes. I bought a ream of 500 sheets of 12x18 paper (twice the size of the printer paper I've been using) for about $21 I'll be able to get 10 large or 15-20 medium journals out of a stack that size, so I think the price per journal is quite affordable. It is sold on Amazon, Walmart.com, and a number of other places online - pretty easy to find.

I punched the holes in the covers with some kind of heavy-duty sewing rivet punch thing I found in our craft stuff.

I found an easier way to mark the insides of the paper creases for hole-punching - I took a piece of cardstock and made a template that I could insert into each signature. No more measuring and marking each one!

Still working on my decoupage skills. The thin covers tend to warp a little when they get wet from the Modge Podge. I think I need to use only thick covers for anything with a packing tape transfer.

Peacock. I messed up the corners...so this is how I fixed them. =) I bound this one with hemp thread because I had some in variegated colors that matched. It was thicker than the linen.


Antique bicycle

I kind of wish I'd left this one plain, but I guess it turned out ok.

Peacock/sheet music


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Support update and humorous moment of the day

AAAAAHHHH!! Do you see that thermometer, guys? The one on the right of the blog? It's been rocketing higher and higher this past month and I'm starting to really feel the imminence of this all! It's funny, when I first came home I felt like it was all going to happen so quickly, but then everything took a long time and while it was frustrating for a while, I kind of settled into the whole routine of waiting, waiting, waiting...but now it's all happening really fast - less than $4000 to go!

It's really time to start working on my visa, at least the preliminary documents I need to compile, such as doctor's clearances, background checks, etc. I probably will wait to send everything in until I can give definite travel dates

Today I was able to speak at our homeschool group. There are a lot of new faces there (I graduated six years ago) but I still have many friends there, so it was fun to see everyone. I sold curriculum and crafts and did quite well. My friend got me a VERY large salad bowl to put donations in, which was slightly awkward/funny, particularly as the little kids kept staring at it and estimating how much was in there!

Lizzie (8 year old former piano student with a squeaky cartoon voice): How much is in there?
Me: I don't know.
Lizzie: I like to count money, you know. It doesn't even have to be my own money. I just like to count money. I could count your money for you. Can I count your money please? I really love to count money. It's so much fun.
Me: Uh, that's fine...I'll count it later.
Lizzie: I bet there's a HUNDRED DOLLARS in there! You'll be able to go back to Bulgaria now!

Lizzie seems especially compassionate towards my goal to return to Africa (not Bulgaria) and, since she couldn't count my money for me, started thinking of other ways she could help. "You know, Miss Abbie, if you're still around this summer, I have this business..."

Kenzie (older sister) with tone of slight disgust: Yeah, she has this business. She sells Dum-Dums and she made $27 doing it one day.

Lizzie (innocently, probably batting her eyelashes): Well, I TOLD people they were only ten cents and fifteen cents, but they just kept giving me five dollars...

Me: There's a name for that kind of business, but I can't think of it...

Kenzie (proceeds to warn me about hiring on with Lizzie): Yeah, she got Emilee (middle sister) to work for her ALL SUMMER. Emilee signed this contract and didn't read it first! She's getting paid 50 cents an hour and only gets one break...

Apparently this business goes beyond Dum-Dums and extends to car-washing and dog grooming as well. So if you're in the Warren area and need a dog groomed, a car washed, or a very overpriced Dum-Dum, be sure to look up Lizzie & Co. Needless to say, I don't think I will be hiring on with them to raise the remainder of my support. But it was a kind thought. =)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Guide to Caple/Walker/Leonard/Burnfield Family Lingo

So, every family probably has their own expressions and weird phrases - ours is no exception. Not all of these are unique to us - some are regional, such as "holler," and many are phrases that we just happen to use a whole lot. A few of them, however, mystify even Google.

I therefore present:

A Guide to Caple/Walker/Leonard/Burnfield Family Lingo

Lazy people work the hardest - what your mother or grandmother always says to you when you try to carry all the shopping bags in one trip.

A D in citizenship - what you get for licking your plate in school.

If I put you both in a bag and shook you, neither one of you'd fall out - what my grandmother would say to try and stop us from fighting. It might have had some effect, as I sat there scratching my head to try and figure out what she meant. I think she made it up. I can't find it anywhere on the internet.

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick - Stop complaining, life could be worse. I must mention that no actual sharp-stick-poking or sack-shaking ever occurred. Google does recognize the existence of this phrase, and even hints that it could be related to some ancient myth about Cyclops. Way to go, Grandma. You are cultured (even if your last analogy made no sense to anyone).

If it were a snake it would've bit you - This is a phrase most often attributed to my paternal grandmother, usually used when something you are looking for has been right under your nose the whole time.

Outen the lights - My dad says this whenever he's feeling particularly Pennsylvania Dutch, and yes, the grammar does make me cringe...

"They said...." "Who's 'they'?" "Pete Delida." - Apparently my great grandpa was always coming home from work talking about what "they" said, until my great grandma, fed up with the mysterious "they," asked WHO was saying all these things. "They" happened to be one person, by the name of Pete Delida, who must have had something to say about a wide range of subjects, according to the story. Now whenever "they" say something and we can't pinpoint exactly who, it is attributed to good ol' Pete. Imagine our surprise when one day Dad randomly met him somewhere...

TNSTAAFL - Pronounced "tinstoffle," this stands for "There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch" and is oft quoted by Dad whenever we get excited about this or that "free" thing.

Gotta get there before all the greedy people do - what you say when you're racing to be first on half-price day at Goodwill, or any other sale where time is of the essence. Attributed to our Aunt Ruth, who must have been very good at beating those greedy people to the great deals.

Bancy fall - a place where one might meet their...

Pransome hince - someone with whom you will lall in fove.

Gownless evening strap - what you wear to a bancy fall, and/or a garment that seems to provide less than appropriate coverage. Generally referred to by my great-aunt.

Did SOMEone say SOMEthing was brrrrrOken???!!! - Said whenever someone utters the word broken, for any reason, and a signal to cue the Star Wars music and rush in with duct tape.

Oh but I WANTED that piece... - uttered in the most mournful of tones whenever anyone takes the last piece of anything, particularly anything that has been offered multiple times (with no takers) to everyone at the table, whether or not the speaker actually DID want that piece. Attributed to some random dinner guest in Caple family history, and quoted to death ever since.

LOOK what happened to so-and-so's piece... - Always pronounced when the first piece of anything is served and falls apart, and always spoken with the same tone and emphasis. Why do we say it? Why does it matter? Why does anyone care? Is it actually funny? I'm not sure anyone knows, yet we always say it...every time.

Boardinghouse reach - an excuse to reach across the table and take whatever you want, and generally encouraged so as not to unduly inconvenience the other members of your dining party.

Holler - the place in West Virginia where my great grandma grew up. No, they are not referred to as "hollows," and "holler" is a VERY acceptable, commonplace term, as I had to inform my confused California roommate. It may have originally been called a hollow - or maybe someone figured out that you could holler and the sound would bounce off the surrounding hills...

Worms on my tongue - Not mopani worms (for my African friends), but our take on the phrase "waiting with bated breath." Upon further investigation, it appears that this is a quote from a weird 1970's TV show called Mork and Mindy - but it lives on in our household.

Hey! - an expression that is sure to garner the response, "Hey (hay) is for horses!"

Monday, March 2, 2015

Request =)

Hey all, could you do one easy and FREE thing to support me? =)

Like my Facebook page (here) and/or invite your friends to like it. I'm trying to get to 500 likes. I haven't had many orders lately, and I'm still trying to raise money through this venue.

If you're on Etsy, please consider following my shop there as well. It's linked through the button on the side of my blog. More likes/followers = more visibility = more orders. So even if you don't need a hat yourself, it can still help increase business!

Thanks, and have a great day!

Link to MBH newsletter

Hi all! Just thought you would enjoy reading the MBH newsletter. You will find it here!