The Joy of No Holidays

I am being luxuriously lazy this week.  I know there are people who get depressed after everything is over, but not me.  I love it.  I love the holiday letdown!  Makes me imagine what a full life of leisure might be like.  And just like I predicted, I am in my jammies, eating chocolate-based goodies (with only a smidge of guilt).

I figure I got this whole week before life gets busy again.  I think the next thing on my list is to research/tour/apply to elementary schools for next year.  Blech.

I wanted to show you one of my reduce/reuse/recycle/wg-is-a-cheapskate projects.  I made this wreath...

DSC04423

... of which I am inordinately proud (because I'm not very good with anything vaguely in the "sewing" genre).  It's not a terribly innovative design idea, pieces of cloth strung on a wire, but guess what it's made out of? T-shirts! 

I always seem to have a pile of tees that have stretched/shrunk/gotten bleach on/developed a hole/stain/ etc.  This particular wreath includes tees that were pre-pregnancy (of the era of "belly baring", need I say more), tees that were an incredible $3 a pop from Coldwater Creek so how could I pass that up and bought, like, six which all turned out to be the wrong fit, and even one that I received at BlogHer 07 (represent FLAVORx!). 

I cut up eight different t-shirts and the wreath came out between 13 -14" wide. I wanted more volume so I puckered the squares a bit with a stitch in the middle, instead of layering them on flat. The thing I liked was that since it's jersey the colors are still vibrant and it's really cushy and soft.  Plus, this was a project that cost nothing but time.  A zone-out-in-front-of-the-TV project.

DSC04348

DSC04349

I also liked being able to mix the colors up with something a little funkier than traditional red and green.  I'm really pleased with how it came out.  The only glitch is I need to re-string it on stiffer wire.  If I hold it up as it is that sucker sags like a grannies knockers out of their bra.  Whoops!

Hope you all are having a relaxing week!             - wg



the stuff we build

I've been on a whole reduce, reuse, recycle kick.  Actually, I've always been a bit like that but it's been intensifying over the last year.  Some of it stems from the economy; it's hard for me to look around and see people struggling and not feel like I should save more, do more, and waste less.  Some of it is environmental, which is, again, seeing waste - the amount of packaging we throw away, the plethora of plastic toys that pile up.  And some of it is, well, I really like working with my hands.

Don't get me wrong, I am the first to admit that I am also a consumer.  I love to shop, even if it's just window shopping.  I like to see what's new and creative.  I like to peruse catalogs.

But, again, I like building things.  I have a hard time seeing something in a catalog that I know I could make myself and giving someone else money for it. 

I also hesitate at spending extra money just because it's made from recycled materials. Or just because it has the word "green" on the label.  Those items are very popular in catalogs this year.  And while I applaud those beautiful fake flowers hand-crafted by villagers in a depressed nation from elephant poop, both for being sustainable, compostable, and economically stimulating... do I really think that the $50 American bucks (not including shipping) for 6 turd blooms is going to those poor, resourceful villagers?  No, I don't.  I'm also not swimming in so much extra cash that I'm willing to buy a $600 end table made from salvaged rulers. Or, for that matter, shop all green items every day at Whole Foods. 

Because you can certainly waste money as much as you can waste resources.  (This is a weird era - between the economy, going green, and being, as a society, consumers we are caught in conflicting forces. I hope the marketers are ready.) 

Plus, I kind of feel like if I really want old rulers or elephant poop I can cozy up to some teachers or zookeepers respectively, or even chaperone a school field trip TO the zoo, with the cozying, and collect all those reusable items at once.  Thus, further reducing my carbon footprint by making the one mass transit trip.

Anyway Because of all of the above, I've been doing a lot of handmade items and crafty kind of stuff, trying to go a little green for the holidays, and trying to bend my mind to how I can reuse/recycle all the crap we might throw away. (Plus, you know, no job... I got time!)  I totally want to show you some of the projects, but I've got to wait because I may or may not be giving some of them away as Christmas gifts.  You know, depending on how they turn out.  And whether the recipient would be open to receiving something that may have had its humble beginnings at a thrift store or in my closet.  (That does sound weird, doesn't it?)  Since, like, everyone from old bosses to family members seems to be aware that I write online now I don't want to spoil any surprises. (I should have never given up anonyminity.)  Except for the jam!  I made a TON of jam this summer and everyone who might read me already basically knows they're getting some jam for Christmas.

If you didn't know that, you, yes you, are getting jam.

Which brings me to the other tree-hugging project I was working on.  When we moved into this house I decided to try to create an edible garden.  I.e. I wanted to put in as many herbs, and edible flowers as possible, as well as veggies.  If it wasn't edible I wanted it to be a pollinator (brings bees) and/or drought resistant, and/or native.  I had such lofty goals. I envisioned eating really fresh and unusual produce, putting food by, and being able to donate extra vegetables to Second Harvest.  In my last house I had an English garden, almost all flowers, with veggies mainly in pots, and everything grew like fricking gangbusters.  That house was a mile away from our current house. 

In this house, the soil is shit. 

The backyard has been landscaped so many times that the soil is completely depleted.  (The ground might even be a little poisoned.)  I'm still putting in edible plants.  Whether they survive, or produce much, is another matter.  So in an effort to put some nutrients back in the soil, I've just started composting.

I am amazed at how much waste you reduce when you compost!  Our garbage load has gone way down.  I'm using all sorts of crap I didn't know you could use.  Did you know that you can compost paper?  Because I didn't know that!  Thanksgiving around here was a fucking miracle of gluttony and thriftiness.  Keen is as converted as I am.  When you can see yourself filling the kitchen bin and dumping it out into the composter almost every day it's hard not to feel like, by Jove, I'm doing something!  For Thanksgiving day alone I think we filled and dumped that bin seven times. 

I should have started ages ago.  I've also discovered I enjoy rooting around in muck!

Must be that hands thing again.  And now you know where mine have been.

(Merry Christmas.)              - the wg


Loverly messes

I’m at the end. Chance went back to school today and we’re both ready. In fact, he’s been acting up this last week in celebration.

Lucky, lucky me.

I’m sure there are many, many blog posts out there celebrating/lamenting the beginning of school. The plan yesterday – originally - was to go to the local kids’ hands-on museum. You know, give him something fun as a distraction. But I had to nix that one. He was so wound up in anticipation of school he pulled a big old tantrum in front of the neighbors. And you know what? I totally pulled the “that was embarrassing” card.

It didn’t embarrass me. The neighbors are parents, too. Their kids throw tantrums. But Chance can understand the concept of embarrassment now, and I am totally using it! Yes! Guilt is in the arsenal!

And he actually didn’t put up too much of a fuss when I canceled the museum. See? He got that a screaming kid in public would be embarrassing. SO USEFUL! But I still needed to distract him so after introducing him to The Clone Wars (yeah, I went there) and then digging through the recycling bin in desperation I came up with…

a butt ugly craft project. (In theory, it’s a bird feeder.)

DSC04175 rotated

Because who wouldn’t papier mache a juice bottle into something atrocious?

DSC04173

Instead of reducing, reusing, and recycling, we just uglied up a landfill even more. Your welcome, landfill.

By the way, while I was off being “creative” and blowing off the Internet this summer I missed my four year blogging anniversary.

Yeah, I'm good.            - wg


Because I know you all love my survivalist DIY tendencies

Two things… sometimes I want to be instantly gratified, and sometimes I want to be cheap. (I see no issues with either of these.)

Coming off of two trips where my legs spent a lot of time exposed to the sun (exposure that was earlier in the season than I expected, not to mention the wear and tear of travel in general), I realized that the more I age the drier and less elastic my skin is becoming. Sigh. In times like these my remedy of choice are sugar scrubs for exfoliation and more moisture! Alas, I’ve been out of any sugar scrubs for quite awhile. And sometimes, when you’re in a pinch (like visible evidence of one’s impending age) you just don’t want to go running all over town to track down what you need. (OK, that’s three things.)

Naturally, given the early hippie indoctrination, I decided to try to whip up my own sugar scrub. I mean, it’s sugar and oil, how hard can that be? (Besides, knowing how to make a sugar scrub could be very useful after economic collapse forces Bath and Body Works to close.) After a quick search on the Internet, including this very informative web page, I found out that it was pretty easy – you can basically make a sugar scrub out of any plant-based oil (mineral oil isn’t recommended), sugar, and fragrance – except that many of the recipes asked for lecithin. What the heck is lecithin?

However, after poking through the cabinet to see what ingredients I might have, I found an unopened bottle of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Soothing Oil. Given to new mothers everywhere! And it had lecithin in it! Plus, collagen and other elasticity-building ingredients. Perfect!

So here’s what I did.

1 9oz bottle of Palmer’s Cocoa Butter (that’s travel size)
¼ cup canola oil (I would have used all Palmer’s if I had more)
½ cup of white sugar
20 drops fruit fragrance

I had the fragrance left over from previous soap making projects with Chance. Which, by the way, is NOTHING like making that horrid soap in 5th grade when we had to learn about colonial times so they forced everyone to make hand-dipped candles and wear bonnets and crap and the soap was made from ash and lye. That sucked. And square dancing! Do they even still teach square dancing in school?

Anywho. Nowadays you can get fragrances in any craft store with soap supplies.

In the end, the canola oil was a little heavier than I was used to in a scrub but the result was the same… my skin was smooth and moisturized! I was very pleased and it probably cost all of a dollar (on the high end) to make. I did find that the fruit fragrances couldn’t quite compete with the cocoa scent, so the next time I use Palmer’s I’m going to use brown sugar with some vanilla and a pinch of cinnamon. (I’ll smell like cobbler!)

This was so easy I’m also thinking about picking up some almond oil to try it again with a fruity scent.

And for those new mothers out there… now you know what to do with that left over Palmer’s. ‘Cause, really, how much of that stuff did any of us actually use?

          - the weirdgirl


Domestic Greenery (in more ways than one)

(I’ve been meaning to write for days. Do you ever get in that groove where you have so many things you want to talk about it you can’t start?  Yeah, that’s where I’ve been.)

So… I don’t know if any of you have noticed… but did you know that gas prices have gotten really high?  No, really!  That and groceries.  Creep creep creep.  To the extent that we, like many families, are muttering, “Crap, we gotta watch what we’re spending.”  

We’re doing the usual… cutting shopping trips and eating out, avoiding unnecessary driving, etc.  BUT me being the child of hippies who both were into “back to nature” activities (i.e. growing food, raising chickens, preparing everything from scratch,) and were always preparing for nuclear annihilation (storing EVERYTHING) my survivalist tendencies also start kicking in.

Hey!  If we’re gonna save money, I’m gonna save us money!  (Maybe that’s a tad wee bit of the type A thing kicking in, too, I don’t know.)

I find myself going back to the techniques my parents used.  I’ve always been a gardener but usually I buy my few tomato plants every year and then I load up on flowers.  (Because flowers are pretty!)  This year, especially with having a new backyard to play with, I’m attempting to put in an edible garden.  I’ve been planting a lot more herbs, edible flowers, and veggies.  I’ve been stock piling seeds (especially cool heirlooms veggies or hard-to-find greens).  The non-edible flowers I’ve put in have been either ones that bring in pollinators or ones like Echinacea and chamomile that can serve double-duty. (For, you know, if I ever need to process my own tea.  (I never said these tendencies were rational.))  I’ve been looking for ways to start composting and putting in water buckets.  There’s been a big movement towards locally-grown food around here and I’m happy to try my hand at it.  I’m getting all green up in this joint! 

AND for the first time since I was a kid, I made my own jam! 

No biggie, right?  This is the kind of thing my parents did all the time.  Canned all their veggies, made jam, ground up wheat for fucking flour, made their own tofutti, and on and on.  Lots of people do it (well, maybe not the tofutti part).  But you gotta understand, I don’t consider myself to be the most domesticated woman around.  Because… uh, let’s see… I don’t cook, I have a cleaning service, I’m crafty but I suck at sewing, and I have NO family photo albums organized.  I don’t even own a cute apron (which even I am a little appalled at… ‘cause have you seen those ones at Anthropologie?!).  I’m pretty sure that means I fail the basic domestic diva exam. 

And the truth is, I don’t really like a lot of traditional domestic crap.  I hate cooking.  I don’t want to scrapbook.  Cleaning bathrooms suck.  Things need to be done so I do them, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it.  I do like to bake (because eating baked goods rocks), and I like painting rooms or digging in the dirt or building stuff.  But those bigger, physical activities are a far cry from, say, getting my jollies off polishing the silver.

Despite all that I am feeling proud about the jam.  I made apricot-plum and white nectarine-plum jam.  They taste awesome!!  (I’m kind of blown away.)  Basically, I spent about $30 in supplies ($20 of that a one time cost for the jars) and I made 18 jars of jam.  (Do you know how much it would cost to buy 18 jars of jam at the grocery store?)      

I’m already thinking about trying to can some tomatoes if I get enough.  Maybe freeze some bush beans. 

This type of domesticity is kind of a (scary) shift for me.  But, if prices keep going up, I predict we’re going to see a lot more people going farm-esque DIY.  

All I need now are a couple of chickens.  (not)    

               - the weirdgirl

P.S. It's salt to my chafing domesticity that G.W. Bush would approve of me taking on a more traditional family role, when it's his economy that is forcing me to take on a more traditional role.  If he had any brains I'd think that was his whole plan from the beginning. "We'll just devalue the American dollar until all the women stay home in the kitchen like God meant them to."  Bastard.

But I still love my jam.


Halloween and A Commitment Problem

I have been overwhelmed the last few days. Lots of work projects came rolling in the last two weeks, and I had already started a few personal projects (with deadlines) in what had been the slow period previous to that. Unfortunately, this has meant a slow down in my posts, especially the commenter-inspired ones. But I will be getting back to those soon because they are a whole lot of fun; they’ll probably just be sprinkled throughout the regular posts. (Though I am having a bit of trouble with the “real women of genius” one (sorry Fuzz); I think it’s because I have been so busy all I can think of in terms of “genius” and “women” would be the robot slaves that would clean the entire house for me, not just the floors. That would be sweet!)

Some of the personal projects have been Halloween oriented, such as making Chance’s costume… (He’s a robot.) 

Dsc02426_rotated

We had a Halloween function at a pumpkin patch this morning that I was trying to get his costume ready for in time.   

Dsc02443_rotated

Yes, that is Tupperware on his head. People actually asked me if the hat "came" with the costume when I ordered it.  Does anyone besides me remember when almost ALL costumes were cobbled together from stuff you found around the house? 

Dsc02434_rotated

And I‘ve been planning out decorations for Halloween night. I’ve got this big picture window now in the front of our house, plus half a porch. I’m thinking a scene in the sunroom with a skeleton (though not too scary) with a graveyard fronting that picture window on the front lawn. Then on the other side of the lawn, (fronting the porch), doing a pumpkin patch kind of scene with scarecrows and whatnot. This way it covers both Keen and my sensibilities… I like the spookier elements of Halloween and Keen likes more of the cute stuff. I’d go all out scary except I don’t want to traumatize my kid and I figure Chance will be plenty into the blood and gore aspect as he gets older – no need to push it now. We’ll top everything off with cheery string lights and a dry ice fog.

Yes, I am a Halloween nerd.

The Halloween decorations shouldn’t be all that high of a priority on my unending list of ToDos, except that they start pulling Halloween stuff off the shelves about this time of the month… to make way for all the Christmas decorations! Halfway through October and we’re coming out of ears in Christmas crap already!

Oh yeah, I also just started drum lessons this week. Because life is short, baby, and I’m a housewife! Or rather, I would be more of a housewife if all this work wasn’t coming in. (Damn you, people! Trying to pay me!)

It’s my own fault but I still feel overwhelmed. When slow periods go on too long I get bored and add on new projects. And then I feel too committed to drop them when it gets busy again. (SO type A!) AND I also sometimes put off the things I should be really working on (like writing) and then I put even more pressure on myself to get everything done.

Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly living three months ahead… without ever getting to the end result that I want to happen within three months.

I DO feel really excited about how Halloween is coming, though. Just a bit of fun amidst the bustle. (I’m dressing up. How about you?) 

– the weirdgirl

 


Lady Bits Surgery

I've been doing a bit of tshirt surgery on some old clothes.  I have a whole slew of tshirts that, after I had the baby, the proportion of them was just wrong.  Everything feels a couple inches too short or hits at the wrong places... you know, even when it doesn't "look" like it, babies always move some of your bits around to new locations (I'm just glad my boobs stayed on the front of my body)... so I've been chopping them up (the shirts, not my lady bits), adding details, embroidery, etc. etc.  The great thing about some types of tshirt surgery is you don't always have to haul out a sewing machine.  I've been doing a lot of it by hand because, frankly, I suck at sewing. Yeah, I've had all the home-ec classes and what not and I used to sew all the time, but I'm honest enough to admit I'm just not very good at it.  Textiles are not my forte.  My mom on the other hand can sew, quilt, knit, and spin her own goddamn yarn (I am not kidding) like a demon. 

Just give me some metal and pretty rocks to play with and I'm happy.  (By the way, if any of my IRL girlfriends out there would like to make any requests now is the time to do them.  I'm stocking up on jewelry supplies for Christmas.)

ANYway!  (I'm totally getting off my point.)  I wanted to share one of my tshirt projects.  I got this lovely shirt at Blogher from BMC and GGC.  Of course, it was an extra-large so I was swimming in it, and it broke my heart not to be able to do something with it so I made a few adjustments...

Newvaginashirt

SO cute with skinny black jeans and stacked heels!  Think I can wear it into work?

           - the weirdgirl


The Outlet Solution

So remember my piss and moan session over not finding an outlet cover that would fit our particular surge strip?  Well, here is my solution to the problem… rig up something myself.  My requirements?  Hinged lid, locking mechanism, easy materials to convert, fairly good looking. 

Wait, before I tell my story I'll show you what I started with (sans the shoe box): Dsc00748_1

I found a nifty box at Big Lots, our local remainder item store.  I originally was going to use a cigar box but I couldn’t find any big enough except for the display boxes, and the corner tobacco shop wouldn’t give those up.  (Actually, one guy said he would save one for me and then when I went back an old biddy (who had been standing right there when he promised me one) swooped in and said she didn’t have any. Well, fine, you old bat.)  But then I found this box and it was just about perfect (and it was cheap, $12).

So I pulled out my handy dandy woodworking tools, only to discover that the coping saw was missing (WTF?) and there were no files (I could swear files came with this set).  I’ll really have to remember to pick up a set of files.  See, I have lots of tools because I do jewelry work; I have file sets, drills and bits, solder equipment, various cutting mechanisms, etc.  The only problem is that those tools are a bit small for work on larger projects.  Without a coping saw I was left with either a jewelry saw or a hacksaw (the electric jigsaw was much too rough).  I went for the hacksaw. 

Nothing gets out tension like hacking through wood.  I’m telling ya.  (Though the maneuverability with a hacksaw is just not the same as a jewelry saw.)

Dsc00750_5So long story short, I cut some slots in the sides of the box for the cables and drilled ventilation holes in the back.  My big concern was how hot the box would get… I’m still monitoring the situation but so far so good.  And of course, I’m a perfectionist so I had to smooth out all the edges and whatnot.

Then I also wrapped up all the loose phone cables and electric cords along the wall with… get this… a phone cord!!  They sell something similar online specifically made for wrapping cables but they were about $10 a pop, plus waiting for them to ship… basically I took one look at what they offered and thought of a regular phone cord.  For $3.50 at the hardware store I got the same thing and I didn’t have to wait.  The kid is crawling everywhere so I kinda wanted to get this done.

Dsc00753

So there you go, $15.50 in materials and some  time on my part.  I’m thinking it looks pretty nifty.  Huge improvement over the shoe box.  AND I get to feel productive for the day!  A definite plus when you’re home all day and start to feel your brain melt from too much children’s programming. 

OK, enough patting myself on the back.  Just wanted to share.            

                     – the weirdgirl