Frugal Endeavors – the rest of Austober

As October draws to a close, I can feel the world around me relaxing into the long sleep of winter.  We spent this time finishing up a few last minute tasks to prepare ourselves for the slower days of winter. 

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Winter is here – Boxing day traditions

I’m not much of a shopper and the thought of spending the day in a mall with too many people fills me with dread.

The bigger the mess, the better the baking tastes.

The bigger the mess, the better the baking tastes.

Instead, I spend Boxing day morning making a mess in my kitchen before heading out to stomp around in the snow looking for the perfect tree to decorate for the birds.

This year I made myself a loaf of gluten free cranberry orange bread. This recipe is an old standby and it never fails to please.

I squeezed an orange that was languishing in the fridge to get the 1/4 cup of juice needed for this recipe. I scraped out the orange peel and made a couple of bird feeders to feed the lonely winter sparrow who lives somewhere by the front of the house.


Bird feeder from an orange peel

I also made some suet cakes and strung some popcorn and cranberries on a string to make a garland. The leftover popcorn will be given to the wild turkeys when they come to visit and the leftover cranberries will be frozen.

All done.

All done.

While the bread was cooling, I bundled up and headed out the door.  I found my tree behind the barn and set to work. I disturbed a grouse while I was decorating, so I know that someone will benefit from my labours. One day, I would like to take a bunch of kids with me and make a party of it with a campfire and hot chocolate but right now,  I relish my time alone in the forest as it sleeps under its blanket of snow.



By the time I was finished and made it home, my bread was cool enough to eat by the fire.

Cranberry Orange Bread

Cranberry Orange Bread

How do you spend Boxing day?  Leave a comment below.




Getting ready for Winter – new quilt


Winter nights are a little easier to bear when you can cuddle up under a new quilt.

I made this quilt from bits and pieces from my stash of flannel. Some of it was left over from other projects, some of it came from old flannel shirts and pajamas, and a couple of pieces came from the fabric bags they use to package flannel sheets.

I used a “paper piecing” method to make each block, except I used an old sheet instead of paper. This is the way my mom did it, and I haven’t been able to break the tradition.  Paper piecing using paper would be easier in so many ways, but I feel that using the old sheet provides an extra layer of warmth. I also used another, much nicer, sheet for the back. Quilts made using sheeting are almost impossible to quilt by hand. That is why I tied this one.

I used a warm, cotton batting. In the past, I have used a thrifted wool blanket in quilts that I tie to make an exceptionally warm covering, but wool blankets are are getting harder to come by in our neighbourhood second hand stores. We have slept under this quilt a few times, and I can happily report that the cotton batting is keeping us warm.

This pattern is “Kaleidoscope.”  When I was almost done this quilt, a friend posted this on facebook:


Stay warm.

Kalidescope 1



Getting Ready for Winter – crochet hats

One hat in the works.

One hat in the works. The beautiful yarn bowl was a gift from my very talented friend. More of her work can be found at her website.

Despite the warm, sun kissed days we have been experiencing, I know winter is on its way. As part of my winter preparations, I took a look at my winter clothing and realized that I do not have anything to keep my head warm while working outside or for wearing inside while waiting for the heat from the wood stove to fill our house. Even though I struggle with crocheting hats, I decided to try again and dug out my hook and went through my stash of yarn. I am making my hats out of wool because I find that wool keeps me warmer and last longer.

The green wool shown above was left over from a sweater I made for myself several years ago. That yarn was found in a house that my brother had purchased and cleared out.  I searched the local thrift stores, but 100% wool yarn is hard to find. I finally went to a local fiber store and bought a skein on sale for $2.00 of a very pretty blue wool from Ireland.

Most crocheters find that hats are not hard to make with a bit of practice.  Several patterns are available for free on the internet and most libraries will have books to lend. Many libraries and yarn stores host beginner knitting or crocheting classes for those interested in learning. These are the patterns I am going to try:

Grow Creative: Shell Stitch Crochet Hat- Free Pattern: A shell stitch hat made from the scrounged green wool.




Amazing Grace Free Hat Pattern

An Amazing Grace Hat using the blue, on sale wool.




51.1.redThis pattern would be an excellent way to use up bits and pieces of leftover yarn.



Simple Crochet Beanie Hat Plus Other Matching Crocheted Accessories - Photo © Michael Solovay

I’m thinking about using a variegated yarn in my stash to make this simple beanie.



Hats usually require only a skein of yarn.  While it’s true that good yarn is expensive, there are a few ways of obtaining good quality yarn for little money.  One is to put the word out to family and friends.  Many crafters have yarn they are willing to give away to whoever will use it. Thrift stores are another resource of not only skeins of yarn but also of sweaters that can be unravelled or “frogged” and the yarn reused.  I have done this several times and have ended up with several skeins of good quality fibre for very little money. An excellent tutorial of what to look for and how to frog a sweater can be found here.

Now I am ready to meet winter head on!

How about you? How are you getting ready for winter?