Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Making earrings

I've finally gotten on a roll and started making earrings!  I only have pictures of two pairs, but I've got a few more that I need to get better pictures of.  These are made of leather cord and wire, and are super easy to make.  I can knock off a pair of the simple ones in less than 30 minutes, which is about the length of my attention span.

These ones are very Southwestern, with the silver and tan and turquoise.  I made a safety pin type closure for the bead to hang from, but I can't quite get it to lay straight.  (errrggg).

These ones are the same, just smaller and without the hanging bead.  Just twisted leather cord and wrapped wire.  I made the shephards hooks to save mula.  The pairs I don't have pictures of are actually my favorite.  Those are coming soon, promise.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Birthday Necklace

Here are pictures of the necklace we made for Pete's mom's birthday.

It's a little tough to see (iphone pictures, sorry) but the inside is filled with a super light blue bead, and the outside beads alternate between pink and black.  The hoop is part of super retro, chunky necklace I thrifted a while ago.  I also put two pink and two black beads along the chain so it didn't look like I threw the piece on any old chain.  Peggy wore it all weekend long and it looks amazing against a black top!  It kept slipping under her shirt, so I told her shed have to wear it with a more revealing cut (teehee).

Friday, May 7, 2010

Honeygar, anyone?

No not honey bear. Honeygar (or honegar, depending on who's writing), is a folk medicine advocated by  D.C. Jarvis, a Vermont physician, in the first half of the 1900's that Pete and I are working into our daily routine.  It's a cocktail of equal parts Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey.  It can be taken a spoonful at a time, in a glass of hot or cold water (often called Witch's Brew, ha!), or on top of a salad.  Personally, I can't stand vinegar so I take a spoonful and chase it with a bit of juice.

I'm learning to get past its taste because it's one of the most beneficial natural cure-alls I've come across.  The list of benefits is a little long but not worth editing down.  When taken as a cleanser, 1-3 times a day it

  • reduces sinus infections
  • combats bad breath
  • clears skin and helps fight acne (woohoo!)
  • increases metabolism and aids weight loss (big WOOHOO!)
  • balances high cholesterol
  • lowers blood pressure
  • helps control blood sugar
  • naturally combats bacteria in your digestive tract, helping the kidneys and bladder
  • prevents bladder stones and UTIs
  • guards against food poisoning
  • helps with chronic headache and fatigue
  • cures constipation
  • fights allergies (particularly if you use local honey)
  • alleviates symptoms of arthritis
The last two items also apply to animals when you add a bit to their water, and it helps pets repel flies.

So for all that, I can put up with a few tablespoons a day.  The science behind it is attractively simple.  Often, by an over consumption of acidic foods (animals products, white flour, sugar) and drinks (coffee and carbonated drinks) our bodies' PH level becomes too acidic.  As alkaline foods, the honey and ACV work to balance our PH level, an often overlooked component of good health

It is important to use raw, unpasteurized honey.  Even better to use local honey since the bees making the honey have been exposed to all the same allergens that are causing you problems!  Honeygar has no known interactions with other medications, but it's always a good idea to bring it up to your doctor if you're thinking about starting a Honeygar regimen.  And I read here that because it cleanses your system, if you have a buildup of toxins from smoking, drinking, etc... you could spend a few days on the pot.  This site's FAQs addresses Honeygar for diabetics (hint - remember it helps control blood sugar!).

At first the taste of it turned me off, but if I really want to start taking responsibility for my health, this seems a good place to start.  And I already have both ingredients in the house because I use them to wash my hair!  Jarvis was a supporter of household remedies used as part of a larger alkaline-diet.  Again, the diet works to balance your body's PH level.  Purportedly, following this diet can guard against cancer but there is little scientific support for that claim. 

If you're interested in more, Jarvis wrote a book Folk Medicine: An Almanac of Natural Health Care which gives a more in depth look at the benefits of Honeygar.   So plug your nose and drink up! Cheers!

Getting Healthy

With bikini season knocking on my door, I'm trying to figure out how to balance being active and exercising with (what seems to me) my very limited personal time.  So I've decided to..... ride my bike to work!! I'm giving up public transportation with the exception of bad weather days.  We already ride our bikes around all weekend and do all our errands on our bikes so 10 miles round trip for work won't be too much of a stretch. AND and and!! It takes less time to bike to work than to take the train. Woot!

I've done it twice this week and am loving it - its better than a cup of coffee in the morning. My only issue with biking is the boatload of animosity between bike riders and drivers.  I think a lot of it comes from the fact that bikes can be either pedestrians or vehicles and expect to be given the right of way by real pedestrians and vehicles.  I'm guilty of that attitude too - by no means am I blameless.  BUT I am working on changing that.

Hair Update

I'm now a few weeks into this 'no-poo' business.  To tell the truth, I hate  strongly dislike that name.  Its saving glory is that it actually does work.  Marvelously. So far I've been using a little less that a tablespoon of baking soda, a cup of water, and a bitty squeeze of honey to control frizz.  I keep a cup in the shower, grab it as the water warms, run to the kitchen and run back. 

The first time I tried it, my heart was pumping like I had just run a marathon, I was so nervous.  What kind of tangles was I going to have to brush out? Oh, sugar, I don't own a brush WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW??! 

Not to exaggerate, but now I'm used to it I feel like I'm in an Herbal Essence commercial.  Using this stuff I can run my fingers through my hair no problem.  I gave up on using a brush ages ago so I was used to losing hair with finger brushing, but I think I'm actually losing LESS hair now than I was using shampoo.  My hair is super silky smooth and shiny.

I am experiencing drawbacks though. My scalp is still super itchy if I leave the baking soda on too long and it feels weird greasy at the crown when I don't rinse it out well enough.  This weekend I'm going to track down some Apple Cider Vinegar to see how that works.  I'm not too upset by this because everything I've read says it is to be expected.

What really breaks my heart is that my curls are pretty lifeless right now.  They used to be big and bouncy and I could sleep on them and they would be relatively decent in the morning.  Now they are small and more tightly wound and sleeping on them KILLS any bounce and volume.  I wake up with them matted to my cheeks.  My heart is breaking.  I have to straighten my hair a lot.  Ohhh what to do?

I'm not giving up though.  But I refuse to shower in the morning.  There has to be some middle ground somewhere.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Official Craft List Part 2

Second on my Official Craft list is
  • drafting a pattern for clutches and actually making them
I think purses are pointless. I carry one every day only so I can carry my clutch and a book with me. And without fail, I end up with a bag full of useless clutter. For example - I recieved an adorable elephant figurine for Christmas that has only ever seen the inside of my purse. My purse has become a magnet for cr*p.

Can I toot my horn for a second and say that the one thing I love about my purse is that it is a bright orange Longchamp (thank Zeus' beard I heard someone say it correctly before I ever had the chance to butcher it by saying 'long-champ') that I thrifted for a grand total of... $3!!! Three dollars, can you believe it? I dare you to beat that!

I'm going to be guilty of repeating myself, but I love Alexis' Valentino inspired Ruffle Clutch.

Beyond being pretty, its too easy to not do (except in my case where I don't do anything). The appealing part is there is no pattern. Just a folded up square of fabric. I can fold squares. And! And! And! Threds Magazine has an amazing tutorial on pin weaving. In short, it teaches you to make a custom size loom, line it with fusible interfacing, and weave fun colored yarn to create your own fabric! Beautiful!! So the plan is to just fold up a square of my very own custom made fabric!!! Yum

Proud of the small things

I'm working on being more productive, promise.  I've actually been upcycling some thrifted spring skirts, but those are to come.  (In the publishing world 'to come' is abreviated as 'TK.' I never understood that.)

Last weekend, Pete told me he needed to get started on a present for his mother's birthday this week - flash forward to yesterday and he was still empty handed.  Keep in mind, all week long I had been sending him email after email with ideas.  I got home from work yesterday and he's in the middle of watching a movie instead of being productive. Errrrrg - although part of me can't blame him because I can be incredibly lazy as well. 

So of course I saved his lazy bum and together we whipped up a pretty darn good birthday gift.  I've been on a jewelry making kick so we decided to make her a nice necklace inspired by all the Mother's Day posts of late. On a sidenote - is it awesome or awful to be born near Mother's Day?  Surely its not like being born near Christmas?

Moving on, the necklace turned out wonderfully (pictures TK) but what I was really excited about was the wrapping!!! Instead of running around the city before dinner trying to find a jewelry box, I decided to DIY.
Now she'll have a cute travel-size bag to keep it in.

I'm in love! It is positively TINY - I had trouble sewing the top seam it's so small.  Look at it in my hands.

(I'm sorry the pictures are so dark - Pete's helping me with the photos and we haven't quite found lighting that works.) I didn't want to just sew two pieces of fabric into a bag so I made this funky little bottom.

And its's fully reversible! 

This side has the same bottom, no pictures of that though.  I love the little flowers and I love the twine tie!  Ha, can you tell what a beginner I am, so excited about a little jewelry bag? 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Going No-Poo

A couple of days ago I ran out of shampoo. “No big deal,” I thought, “I’ll pick some up on my way home today.” A few days later, I was still out of shampoo; “Whatever, I’ll just use my bar soap and pick some up tomorrow.” A while later, my shampoo supply was still nil… You get the idea. I usually can go up to three days without washing my hair with a minimal itchy factor (in fact, when I was still playing waterpolo, I refused to wash my hair on days I didn’t have practice). But since I’ve been using only bar soap, my scalp is itching and flaking worthy of a noreaster. Not only that but my hair (My hair! My beautiful hair. My one beauty!) is greasy and rough to the touch. And it smells. Like dry, hot scalp. But of course, being my lazy self, I still haven’t bothered to pick up shampoo, so my hair looks like this.

Scratching my head, and not in a pensive way, I remembered an article I had read a while ago on a crafting blog about going “no poo”, or no shampoo. She talked about her first weeks not using shampoo as some of her most horrible hair days. She voiced all the complaints I was whining to Pete about. So I spent some time reading blogs of some women who have cut shampoo out of their shower routine.

I have found… Shampoo is not necessary!! (Yay! I don’t have to go to the store to buy more!) In fact, shampoo, in its modern form, wasn’t invented till the 1930’s. Before that, shampoo was a boiled mixture of soap shavings and herbs to give hair shine and fragrance, but even that was only introduced in the second half of the 1800’s! Now shampoo is a cocktail of synthetic surfactants, which is are types of detergents. Look surfactants up on Wikipedia and you can find a list of its applications and sources. Here’s an abbreviated list.

Fabric Softeners
Ski Wax

Oh! and included somewhere in the middle of that list are Shampoos, Conditioners, Toothpastes, and Cosmetics. The FDA doesn’t regulate the ingredients put into personal care products; it only mandates that the ingredients be listed on the back of the bottle. One ingredient, for example, is methylisothiazolinone, which has been linked to nerve cell death. AND methylisohhmmmaannahh is banned in Japan and Canada in certain concentrations. Another commonly used ingredient is Isopropyl, a drying and irritating solvent. It strips hair of its natural moisture and can accelerate the penetration of bacteria and viruses (this elicited a loud 'ewwweehhhh' followed by some shudders).

The real kicker is… wait for it… wait for it… washing away the moisture in your hair CREATES the need for conditioner. Conditioner doesn’t do much but replace your now stripped natural oils with fake oils. Only then does your hair look nice and shiny. Shiny for a few hours before the fake oils turn into artificial grease! And what is needed to get rid of it? More shampoo! Followed by a generous application of conditioner, followed by grease and round and round we go.  OUTRAGE!! I am in an outrage.  I always thought we needed shampoo to clean out hair, and clean hair was naturally tangly and knotty.  Conditioner was heaven on earth for me, my absolute favorite thing on earth.  Silly, pointless, self-promting cycle.

Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are two other stars in your shampoo line-up. Regularly used in cleaners and degreasers, they appear in most personal care products that foam.

While SLS and SLES are great for pots and pans, I think I’ll pass on using industrial strength degreasing agents on my locks.

Monday, March 15, 2010

If my life had lyrics it would go like this...

Look at this stuff
Isn't it neat?
Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?
Wouldn't you think I'm the girl
The girl who has everything?
Look at this trove
Treasures untold
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here you think
Sure, she's got everything
I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I've got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thingamabobs?
I've got twenty!
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more!!

In my attempts to prove crafty and skilled, I wander around sewing/crafting/bead/what-have-you stores with the best of intentions (for clarity's sake, those intentions are to eventually complete a project).  While I may walk away without any definitive plans, I rarely walk away without something.  Be it sparkly hot glue sticks, buttons, or cute trim, if I see it and it can be paid for with the spare change in my bag, it ends up coming home with me

Because I never really have a plan for these things, I've amassed a giant notions pile.  And by pile I mean general collection of things strewn about so that it hides the color of my floor (See! My slovenly nature is not just a product of my laziness, but is artfully constructed to hide the hideous floor-to-floor red carpeting that envelops my room).

Undeterred, I continue to collect and collect and collect things that I want to turn into something beautiful, but never do.  And high on that list is Nikki Lee's hand dyed lace. 

photo via Nikki Lee

It is gorgeous and goodness, am I jealous.  Imagine, a woman who loves her craft enough (and is motivated enough) to take her hobby and turn it into a small business.  She is worlds away from my lazy bum.  She just opened an etsy shop and has a giveaway on her blog, both of which will be very dangerous for me.

Oh these women!  Draining my laundry money and making me feel altogether unproductive. (Ok that last one might be me projecting but still!)

My 4 Step Program to Summer Shorts

Again, I am plagued with a fabulous idea that I will never, ever complete.  Despite the noreaster of biblical proportions flooding the northeast right now, I can't get enough of spring shorts.  They are everywhere; sitting on perfectly tapered mannequins' waists, showing off sculpted fiberglass thighs, reminding me I haven't the sinewy legs to show off these shorts yet.  Sparkly linen! Floral patterns! Highwaisted beautiful, beautiful shorts! Shorts I absolutely adore and absolutely cannot afford.  50 plus dollars is about 40 dollars over my budget.

So, crafty me gets thinking and decides I can make my own shorts, nevermind I've never successfully made a garment from scratch before.  So then lazy me rolls over and says, well I can just upcycle a pair from the thrift store.  Sewing-blog-addicted me gets busy and finds these dolls!!
Lily from The House of Mirth, has made another must-have addition to my fantasy wardrobe.  These shorts with the scallop hem and lace detail make my toes wiggle from cute overload.  All she did was buy a pair of men's business pants, make a few snips, add a few stiches and BAM, she proves herself more skilled than I will ever be motivated to become.

But the shorts I really want to go crazy with are these.

photo via outsapop

Now these aren't actually DIY shorts - they are from a Ray Ban ad - but how easy would it be to

  1. run to the thrift store

  2. buy a white pair of capris/pants/whatever

  3. cut them into shorts and roll the cuff

  4. channel Mr. Pollock and splatter with paint/ink (or kool-aid if you're working on my budget)

There you go, 4 easy steps to making great summer shorts.  But will I do it? Probably not. No.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I've been thinking more and more that one thing I would love to do is design/build my future, hypothetical home for my future/hypothetical family. (I'd hate to get halfway into building a house and drop it like I do everything else.  So perhaps I'll just be cautious and not start at all.  Better no house than half a house.) And I very much love modern architecture and design, but sometimes it gets too far away from comfy and livable.  Some examples of it are too close to 'my house is empty and sterile, just like my life.'

So in my search for passable modern homes I ran across Unhappy Hipsters.  I love it!  They take pictures from Dwell Magazine and recaption them to show how absolutely over the top modern homes have become.

"Sure she was watering a street tree during a statewide drought.  But the gate was made of recycled street signs.  Carbon footprint: neutral."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Official Craft List Part 1

Because I get so easily distracted, I've been thinking for a while about trying to make a list of crafts I want to focus on. I'm hoping that by putting it in writing I will force myself whittle down my list to the naked basics.

I am introducing my Official Craft List.  The projects that will appear on this list will have gone through a rigorous screening process, multiple rounds of interviews, and a physical strength evaluation even the Governator would fail.

First on my Official Craft list is... read on

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Saboteurs, all of them

I will forever refuse to take the blame for any unfinished/never-started projects.  I can't help it if I get distracted!  I spend all day looking at sewing blogs and without fail I always find something that looks more entertaining and pretty than the project I currently have in mind. 

So, without hesitation, I blame all the other women with ridiculously good looking projects and user friendly tutorials for my inability to start a project.  How am I supposed to work when they are constantly throwing new and better ideas at me?  One can hardly blame me.

One of the women I hold most responsible is Alexis from Made By Lex.  Truly, she must really have it out for me.  She's constantly ruining any hope I have of starting a new project.  Without any visible effort, she throws up a new tutorial of an Anthropologie inspired shirt and makes it look so easy that I have no choice but to drop the pathetic shirt I was planning on making on its butt and adopt her idea.

 Sneaky, sneaky woman. 

And just when I start to get my act together to start on her shirt, she drops these gorgeous DIY Valentino heels on me! 

Honestly! How am I supposed to get any work done when she keeps doing this to me!?  What did I ever do to her to deserve this treatment?  A small corner of my heart starts to cry; but then I see this outlandishly good-looking (and ludicrously easy) Ruffle Clutch and all is made well again.

Until women like her stop sabotaging my creative process, I'll hardly ever be able to create something to show off.  That, or I find a job that actually keeps me busy all day so I can't read sewing blogs all day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Well not completely.  I'm 99.4% done.  But that's the closest I've come in a long while! 

Denyse Schmidt Quilts has made available her Scottie Dog Pattern and, by this good earth, is it adorable. 

P.S. I love that it's a man holding the puppies!  How could you not want to make one of these.  Denyse's tutorial is so easy, I read it once through on Friday and whipped it up on Sunday without the instructions.  Granted I didn't make my Scottie tall enough, and his nose is too long, but that's besides the point.  The point is that I FINISHED SOMETHING! Woohoo! 

With Peter at work all day and out of my hair, I cued up Emma and broke into my fabric stash, aka remnants from a Christmas present that I gave up on (don't worry, she got something much better instead).  Now, as a sewing novice, the fact that my 2 1/4 squares weren't exactly uniform didn't present itself to me until I had sewn both sides of the scottie.  In my usual disregard for perfection and instructions, I went ahead and sewed everything together.  (Notice me getting ready to apologize for the imperfections before I've even shown the final product. Haha.)

In the end his ears didn't line up, his tail is all sorts of crooked, the corners are a bit wonky, he's not the right size and his bottom is a bit rough around the edges.  But here he is and I love him!!

It's a phone camera picture taken on my purse on my lap on the bus so please ignore the crazy background goings-on.  The picture doesn't do the colors justice either.  The third and fourth row should both have one more square and his nose should be one row shorter. 

His collar is just a bow from a hair pretty destined for a Dollar Store project, but I sucked it up and realized that one isn't happening any time soon.  But also makes me think this could easily be done with only dollar store supplies.  A few dish towels and buttons... But back on subject.  What's left is to add his eyes.  I might add only one, seeing as how I don't want to call attention to his ugly side, which looks something like this.  And Pete's sister, Cara, suggested adding a button as a nose, which would just be too cute.

Because he's not the right size, Pete suggested that I take a seam ripper to him and fix him up.  But I don't believe in plastic surgery.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I have to start sometime...

In an effort to keep this blog from being yet another unrealized project, here is my first post! (yay)

For Christmas, the b/f's sister gave me Ruth Singer's The Sewing Bible, the U.S. edition of Sew It Up. And like any aspiring crafster I drank it up and thought "O holy cow, she makes it all sound so easy - can't wait to start." My bedside table was cleared off, my manicure kit and nail polish were banished to the second shelf, and my bible was given its proper place within arm's reach with whispered promises of nightly perusing and daily sewing.

Flash forward 2 months and I've got... NOTHING!

Well. That's a lie. I've read it. Many times. But, for my life I can't get started with any of the projects.

But I do have what I think is a fabulous/fun/probably-hideous-by-an-outsider's-opinion idea for her Trapunto Cushion.

Ruth's cushion, just to clarify, does not fall into the same probably-hideous-by-an-outsider's-opinion category. Here is purse she made by the same method.

Trapunto quilting is done by stiching a design through two layers of fabric, cutting the backing and stuffing to fill out the shape. Using a fabric with a bit of sheen helps make the shapes pop more.

Last I checked, I'm not totally inept when sewing by hand (although last time I checked it was the summer between 3rd and 4th grade and I had just been bumped up from the Beginner's Sewing class to the Advanced Beginner's Sewing class). I fell in love with the simplicity of the project and I immediately began brainstorming. I would love (pronounced la-hov) to do structural patterns like bridges and barns and skylines.

Most likely not the ferris wheel but definitely the bridge and the buildings similar to this picture. For the thin lines I wouldn't want to attempt stuffing them; instead I'd use a tight embroidery stitch to make the straight lines. I could also be a little bit country and do something like this minus the tree and hills.

On a roll, I kept coming up with ideas. I could do a simple train or the Eiffel Tower or the Sears Tower. Nevermind that Ruth sticks with organic and soft shapes; I decided it's all possible. In an uncharacteristic move, I braved the January weather to walk 15 minutes to the discount fabric store. After an epic fight with my zipper (which I lost), dodging between cabs on streets where traffic laws and stop lights are optional, and side stepping slush puddles the size of my kitchen, I entered sewing heaven and bought...umm... I believe the technical name is ... shiny fabric.

I really have no idea what I bought but it's pretty and I love it. And it's been sitting in the bag ever since. I've lost quite a bit of momentum and am afraid that my cushions will end up looking more like this.

I did, a few weeks ago, buy a cheap embroidery hoop and the b/f got me a fabric marker for V-day. Hopefully the shiny fabric (lining?) won't stay in the bag too much longer.