Month: May 2014

I Spent Some Clothing Coupons!

Shucks. I spent some clothing coupons. I had grand visions of gliding through this challenge without spending a single clothing coupon because so much can be made, purchased second hand, or done without. Not these things:


I bought these at the drugstore in desperation after a I wore a skirt sans stockings on a hot, sticky day. Oh my the chafing. It was bad; I was near tears and it took days to feel better. My regular tights are not a solution because they are too hot. Cotton yoga capris aren’t a solution because it is like you are wearing a skirt and pants — bulk, everything sticks together, and again, hot. Not wearing skirts and dresses in the summer is not a solution because it would reduce my wardrobe so much that I’d have 4 things to wear. I needed to make a compromise.

They are not green, and not made in the fairest of factories. I read in wikileaks, after I purchased them, that the Hanes corporation lobbied the government of Haiti to not increase minimum wage. Sigh. Hanes owns Bali, the maker of the only bra that doesn’t dig into my shoulders and poke at me, too. Double sigh.

But, they work exactly as I need them to work and are not too hot. I also think they look cute in a Madonna circa 1984 way:


Ack, work bathroom – including trash can.

I bought two pairs so that I can have a pair drying and a pair to wear. I’m going to baby them with gentle hand washes so they last as long as possible and I don’t have to buy any more for a very long time!

The nitty gritty:

As per the coupon system, these babies cost two coupons each.


Clothing: 62 out of 66
Soap: 30 out of 36
Tea: 6 out of 10

Not too bad, as in just a little more than a month, I will be half way through the challenge!


One of the times of the year I look forward to at work is student move out week. Not because they are leaving (I actually miss having loads of students around in the summer), but because our student affairs office puts out give away bins in order to collect useful items that the students would otherwise throw away. The bins are open, first come first serve, to anyone who would like to glean from them. Usable excess is then donated to various charitable organizations.

Some of the gems I took home this year include:


Yarn! Two giant skeins (about 700 yards total) of a bulky weight in grey tones, which I think wants to be a shawl, and an entire spool of thin red cottony stuff, and I’m not sure of all the stuff it wants to be! Ribbon, lace (some of it is tatty, and I’ll use that for wrapping gifts and bouquets, but there is some nice cotton eyelet, and I’m going to use that to trim some short, wide legged cotton pant-type things to echo bloomers!), embroidery floss-like stuff (I think it’s for making friendship bracelets but I’ll use it for a million different things), pom poms, a small painting canvas. Not pictured: a dozen heavy plastic hangers, a box of chocolate pudding (which we are currently enjoying as dessert!), an entire unopened canister of sea salt, some white muslin-like fabric which is screaming to be made into tea towels, maybe even dyed with tea!


We also visit the dumpsters. For some reason, the students put their work in there! I got this interesting ceramic piece on the left, shown next to the interesting ceramic piece I got last year! I’m not sure if I should use it as a planter, or a vase.

I also got some green 100% cotton curtains in perfect condition! I’m not even sure if they were ever hung. I don’t need lime green curtains, so I will most likely use these for sewing, a la Scarlett O’Hara. I wonder if I could screen print on the fabric and make some tote bags!


Woody is saying, “Mama! Look how this fabric matches my eyes!”

Two of my coworkers were my partners-in-digging, and they went home with some great stuff too. They made out superbly with clothing. We even got my other coworker a perfectly new looking sporty jacket which I looked up, and saw that it retails for $139!

I won’t moralize about why people would get rid of perfectly usable things — I’ll just say, “Awww! Awwww! Who’d throw that out?!”


Vibrant Matter Skirt


Last week, I had a 20 page research proposal to work on. So naturally, I spent the weekend sewing.

Handwork helps me think. Something about making individual stitches, whether it’s knitting, cross-stitch, or hand sewing, acts as an entry into the world of meditation and rumination. Most people make notes, and outlines, and rough drafts, and I do that, too. But I also include handiwork time so I can visualize my writing project as I sew, knit, or stitch.

On Saturday morning I drafted the pattern, washed and ironed my fabrics, and cut out my skirt. I then started the seams. About two years ago I got completely frustrated by my sewing machine, and put it in the basement. I started doing all of my sewing by hand, and haven’t taken the machine out of banishment yet — not even to make curtains! I sat in my favorite chair with my cat on my lap and my computer and books by my side and sewed and sewed. I stitched on a fold over elastic waistband with a funny hand zig zag kind of stitch. My proposal took shape. I stopped to take notes or look something up a million times. On Sunday I made bias tape to finish the hem with and stitched in on with green embroidery floss. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Think, think. think. Sections of the proposal appeared in my mind, then got quickly typed up between stitches.


Complete with cat fur from Woody’s lap sitting!

By Sunday night I had a freshly stitched skirt and the proposal drafted.

I let the skirt hang all week to get nice and settled and drapey as I embellished my proposal and did the finishing. By Friday I handed in my proposal and had a new skirt to wear 🙂


Please ignore the chaos — we are in the process of converting this room into a music studio for my husband!

I call it the Vibrant Matter skirt as a homage to the book I loved the most from my research.

It feels good to have the proposal done, and to have a new skirt. No coupons used, as I had the fabric, embroidery floss, and thread. The fold over elastic was purchased, but does not require coupons as per the ration system.

You know I’m going to wear this skirt for my archival research!

If the Shoe Fits … Repair It!

I had a wonderful experience at the cobbler’s this week!

My Mary Jane clog had a broken strap. I tried various at home fixes — wire, yarn, paperclip (!) — but they all broke again in a month or so. I admitted DIY defeat, and went to the cobbler. Gosh, I should have done this sooner! $10 USD and 2 days of waiting got me a beautifully repaired buckle, an expert shine, and lots of loose stitching re-stitched on my shoes! They came back to me looking like a new pair!



I also had some amazing luck with getting new-to-me shoes at the cobbler! My local cobbler sells the shoes that people never pick up, usually for the price of the repair done.  Look at the beauties I picked up for $25 USD:



I knew this was a good brand when I saw it. It was obvious that they were in great condition plus had new heels put on by the cobbler. They were perfectly my type — a nod to vintage style, low heel. BUT! I was shocked and pleased to note when I got back to my office and did a quick internet search that they retailed for $159 USD new! Wow, what a bargain. Look at that new heel job!


This isn’t the first time I lucked out purchasing freshly repaired shoes at the cobbler, either. Sometimes, I think the cobbler is the best place to buy used shoes. Here is my rationale:

-people usually only take good quality or very very cute and loved shoes to the cobbler to repair.

-you purchase a freshly repaired pair of shoes, not a pair someone is getting rid of because they think they’re past their prime as is often the case at the thrift shop.

-they are usually shined and looking beautiful.

-you are helping the shop make their labor and material costs back.

What’s not to love!? If you have a local cobbler, I urge you to support him or her. Get some new heels put on instead of throwing away your favorites, and ask if they have any shoes in your size that someone didn’t pick up. Some call it a dying art, but others notice business is booming as people change their throw-away habits.   I love this! I hope we see a real comeback in cobblers, tailors, and other repairpeople.

Yay! I feel like I have two new pairs of shoes, and I spent zero coupons!

(title: I did not think up this clever title — it’s the motto of the shop I frequent 🙂 I couldn’t agree more!!!)