January 25, 2008

The best thing since sliced bread is...

...soft, fresh butter to go on it!
Our family has just discovered a wonderful little kitchen accessory - a butter keeper. Ever heard of it? It's a device that keeps butter fresh at room temperature, leaving it soft and spreadable. It's two pieces, one piece being the dish that holds the butter. This piece then flips upside down into a slightly larger dish, which you fill with about 1/2 inch of cool water. The water then seals in the butter to keep it fresh!
Clever, isn't it? We have found, however, that you do have to consistently change the water every few days, and it helps to use the butter up fairly quickly, as it only stays fresh for so long. It keeps fresh for about a week, I would say, before it starts to turn rancid. Most butter keepers that I have seen hold one stick of butter (1/2 cup).
Here are a few butter keepers I found on For a more extensive selection, click on this link: Butter Keepers on Amazon (note that there are a few other butter-related products listed that just came up in the search results).

Plain butter keeper Butter Keeper

White Floral Butter keeper White Floral Butter Keeper

Floral Butter Keeper Floral Butter Keeper with Knife 

Of course, to be frugal you can also pack the butter into a regular bowl, and then fit it into a larger bowl filled with 1/2 an inch of water as well. It just wouldn't be as "pretty." :-)

January 8, 2008

The Thrifty Seamstress

Lately we've been doing a lot of sewing. And lately we've noticed something:

Every time you want to sew something, it costs money.

And some projects are more expensive than others. So, here are a few tips for pinching your pennies when it comes to sewing.

Fabric: Don't buy it. Now, don't get me wrong here, I do realize it helps to have fabric when you are sewing. I just mean don't buy fabric from the fabric stores. You can often find good fabric at very inexpensive prices at thrift shops. And here's another thing - you can use sheets! Generally sheets can be found at thrift stores too, but even some brand new sheets are cheaper than new fabric. Of course, I'm not laying down the law and saying that it's a sin to go and buy new fabric from the store! That's fine too. But if you're pinching pennies and/or don't have any particular fabric in mind, the options already mentioned just might save you a little cash.

Buttons: Buttons can really add up especially if you need them for the front of a skirt or dress. Next time you "purge" your closet, before throwing out clothing that is too worn to be given away, rip off any buttons that might be on them. Most button-up sweaters will have 5 or 6 buttons, while dresses and skirts could have 10 or more! If you save these, you will have a handy store of matching sets of buttons for use in your future sewing projects. Oh - and thrift stores come in handy here too. If you have a project where you need a large amount of buttons but don't have any worn out button-up clothes, head to the thrift store and pick up a dress with buttons that you like (it can be the ugliest dress in the world - as long as the buttons are nice! :-). An average dress at a thrift store would cost between $4 to $10, and 10 brand new buttons would have easily cost you $20 or more.

Boning: I'm not sure how often you would need boning, but if you're like me you love making historical costumes - and those generally seem to call for boning. And boning is ex-pen-sive! Well, a friend of ours let us in on a great tip: go to the hardware store and pick up a bag of those plastic tie-wraps. They are about the perfect length for boning in a bodice (and could always be trimmed). You can get a bag of around 100 tie-wraps for less than $10 - and that sure is cheaper than boning!

I hope this is helpful and if I come across any more money-saving tips I'll be sure to pass them on! Happy sewing!