Grocery Shopping with Children

If you have ever gone grocery shopping with young children, then you know what a treat it is to go shopping alone. On a recent shopping day, the whole family went to Aldi. Even with Chris there as backup, that trip resulted in my giving Instacart* a try. (Actual conversation with Instacart delivery guy: Him: Have a good day! Me: It’s a great day! I didn’t have to take my three kids shopping!!!!)

Beckett shopping
One of my little hooligans.

Aldi is awesome, but there’s always a few things I can’t get there, so on the way home we stopped at Kroger. Chris stayed in the car with the hooligans while I ran in to get the last few things we needed.

In the store, I occasionally ended up on the same aisle as a father with his three lovely daughters. I’m guessing they were all around elementary school age. What caught my attention about this family, was the fact that the father was experiencing his own version of the Aldi trip I had just survived. I never know if a smile or kind word in such situations will be seen as sincere or smug in such situations, so I politely ignored the chaos to finish my shopping.

At the checkout line, who should end up behind me, but the father and the three young ladies. If he was put there to remind me that all parents have those kinds of days, then I appreciate the reminder, but torturing another human being really was not necessary.

I continued with my plan of polite indifference to the humorous to everyone but the father scene that was taking place behind me. I’m pretty sure I failed to not smile when I heard such phrases as, “What have you done to the tortillias? Don’t put your mouth on that!”and the exasperated, “What is wrong with you?!?!???”

Hopefully it has been long enough that, should the father see and recognize this, he will be able to find the humor that is totally lacking when you are in the moment. Regardless, you have my empathy for that and every other similar shopping trip, as that is usually me. Also, Instacart* delivers to your door, if you need some time to recover.

He had a shirt on when we went in, I promise.

*Neither Instacart or Aldi offered any compensation for this post. After that particular Aldi trip, though, Aldi should consider offering me free Instacart delivery so I no longer have to bring my children into their store. 

The Right Tools for the Job

After many attempts at using crochet hooks to manipulate stitches on my knitting machine, I broke down and bought the tools that were missing from my thrift store knitting machine. With the right tools, I’m able to do a couple of closed cast-on and bind-offs, correct dropped stitches fairly quickly, and have even learned how to do a tuck stitch. 

Tuck-stitched wash cloth
My first tuck-stitched wash cloth

Now I need to figure out how to remember where I’m at in the tuck stitch to avoid the rows of holes I have at the top and bottom.

Bath Towel Redo

Last Christmas we received a new set of bath towels. Many of our old ones had worn through in places and were ready to be retired. I hate to throw out something that still has some life left in it, so here’s what I did:

I cut the towels to salvage the most usable material possible. Then, I serged the edge with my serger. You could also use a wide zig-zag, fold and hem, or use bias binding to finish the edges and prevent fraying.

The white towels were cut down to about half-size. This makes them perfect for wiping up big spills or as a bath mat. The green towels on the right are smaller sized for kitchen and cleaning towels. The stack of squares in the middle can be used in place of disposable cotton squares for toner, make-up remover, etc.

The small squares are also handy for DIY dryer sheets. I keep a few in a small tub on the dryer soaking in diluted white vinegar and lavender essential oil. I wring one out slightly and toss it into the dryer to add a fresh, lavender scent to our laundry.

All made from two large, worn out bath towels.

Cozy Weather

Just in time for soup weather I have introduced bowl cozies at SubEarthan Cottage.

Strawberry Bandana Red Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy
Strawberry Bandana Red Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy

My cozies are 100% cotton, so they can go in the microwave if you like.

Vegetable Print Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy
Vegetable Print Microwaveable Soup Bowl Cozy

There are tons of cute 100% cotton quilting fabrics available, so if you’d like one or a set customized to your tastes, let me know.

Sewing Machines

I’m a bit of a sewing machine hoarder. If you don’t count the one that is Finn’s, I have four. That includes my sewing and embroidery machine combo, but not my two sergers. Also not including the knitting machine, because it knits.

While I’m certainly not an expert, I do have my preferences. I would take a well-built, old metal machine over a new machine any day. Mainly because when they break, I tend to do this:

That is my first sewing machine. It is a Montgomery Ward’s Signature sewing machine from the 60s, I think. I got it from my mom who got it from my grandma. I can’t remember what was wrong with it that time, but it sews nicely now.

The Signatures at that time were made by a Japanese company that specialized in industrial machines, I think for sewing feed sacks. That translates to a heavy duty, domestic sewing machine that will sew through anything. It also has a set of cams. Cams are interchangeable disks that allow it to sew pretty embroidery stitches.

My next sewing machine is another, slightly older Montgomery Ward’s Signature. This one was rescued from a lot of machines that were destined for the junk heap.

I love the blue color! It reminds me of cars from that era.

Like the other Signature, it uses cams. You can see them in the little accessory box. I actually like this one a little better than the other. It sews the prettiest straight stitch out of all my machines and has a cam that stitches a row of teeny tiny hearts!

I’ve never actually made anything on it, though. Unlike the other, this one is in a portable case, which is hilarious. I carry/wrestle a 31 lb. two year old every day and lifting that machine is a struggle. Since I don’t have a dedicated place for it, I don’t have the motivation to lug it out.

My workhorse is a 90s model Kenmore, made by Janome. The case is plastic, but all the internal workings are metal. I know, because I had to open it up when my walking foot vibrated the needle loose and messed up the timing. Photographic evidence on Instagram.

That is the best photo I could find of it. I love that machine because it isn’t as quirky as the Signatures. It also tells me how to thread it right on the machine, and when it comes to sewing machines, threading is half the battle.

My final machine is the Brother SE400 embroidery combo. I keep it set up as an embroidery machine because I have three other sewing machines. Also, it scares me, so I want to risk messing it up as little as possible. I haven’t had it opened up beyond the bobbin area, but I’m guessing there’s some plastic, and I know there is scary electronic components. With the other machines, I am freer to play because I know that if something happens, it’s not likely to be catastrophic. With this, something like a timing issue would definitely mean a big repair bill.

Playing with fonts on my new toy.

A post shared by Charity Maas Sloan (@subearthancottage) on

But, it makes pretty embroidery, has loads of decorative and utility stitches as a sewing machine, and has the most awesome needle threader I have ever seen. Seriously. Finn’s machine has a needle threader that I will never use, because it is complicated and I stabbed myself with it one time. Brother’s needle threader is like magic. It is especially handy when embroidering with multiple colors. Color changes take mere seconds.

Just to show I’m not as much of a hoarder as I could be, here is a photo of the White machine I couldn’t get working and sold on craigslist.

Then, while I was waiting for the buyers to show up, I decided to play with it a bit and figured out what was wrong. I hope they love it, or at least open it up to look at from time to time. Sigh.