Month: May 2015

A Quick Bit of Accounting


A brief pause in recounting my making to settle my coupon book πŸ™‚ It’s interesting — I feel like most of my blog last year was describing what I bought, but this year of the project focuses very little on each purchase. My makings and musings are taking center stage, and that’s just how I want my blog — and life — to be!


2 dresses from Lands End – 7 coupons each – totaling 14 coupons.

These are the perfect summer dresses for me — they are comfortable, cool, look nice enough for work, visiting a garden or museum, running around a city or town. I chose the black, red, and white stripe, and the bourbon stripe versions. I’ve been wearing each once or twice a week since I got them. I’d get the other colors in a heartbeat but I realize that they are very summer-y and not great for stretching into other seasons — I can’t justify using more coupons because of that.

Clothing-wise, I’ve also been lucking out at the thrift shops lately! I would be wearing these two dresses every single day if it wasn’t for the few tops and skirts for warm weather I was able to pick up!


Seabuckthorn salve from Chagrin Valley Soap & Salve – 1 coupon

The PVA glue I was using for my bookarts class gave me a nasty case of allergic dermatitis on my hands. I am highly sensitive to glues (I can’t tell you how many shoes I’ve had to return to the store because they used glue in putting them together and my feet became a sea of hives! But I digress). I stopped using the glue, but I still have a stubborn, sensitive patch on one of my fingers. This salve is giving this last little bit such soothing relief as it heals! I didn’t want to use cortisone because it’s not such good stuff long term, and also because my hands are constantly in bread dough! (Yuck!)

The salve is also very moisturizing and is supposed to also be great for burns — I thankfully haven’t had to try it for that yet, but I’m really good at burning myself when I cook so I am glad it’s on hand for emergencies.

Deodorant Stone – 1 coupon

I finally got one! I haven’t tried it yet but will tomorrow. Fingers crossed – it’s going to be 90 degrees out! Bad: still a plastic case.


Harney and Sons  Fenghuang Shuixian oolong tea – 1 coupon

I had to buy some breakfast teas for my husband (he has a cup of tea each morning to start his day) so I treated myself to this. I love oolong teas in the spring and summer — well, I love them all year around really! — but something about the floral-y stone fruity ones at this time of year are just exactly what I crave. This tea is a-maz-ing. It evolves over each steep (tea-y, stone-fruity, floral) and I feel like I’m drinking several different teas from this one scoop! This tea has added so much enjoyment to my work day. Magnificent!

So, even after this whirlwind of coupon-using, I’m still not doing too bad coupon-wise. I’m almost half way through the year, and am half finished with clothing coupons (I knew that would happen because I need summer clothes so desperately) and less than half-finished with soap and tea coupons.

I haven’t purchased any yarn this year and really want to knit the Scollay cardigan sweater. I think my next big coupon outlay will be the yarn for this sweater around my birthday in July!


Clothing: 33 out of 66
Soap: 8 out of 12
Tea: 27 out of 30


Me Made May 5/19/15


Today, I’m wearing a handmade skirt ❀ Yay for handmade skirts! It’s the one I made last year which was completely hand stitched (more pics in the link). I love wearing this skirt not only because it’s comfortable and I like the way it looks, but because I can feel the energy I put in every stitch. It’s a great reminder about how little tiny actions add up. They do. See?

Another thing that I’d like to make more of is clothing. Sure I knit constantly, but I have to push myself a little to sew. I am going to take a baby step to get myself back into it and make a few of these Scout Tees. I have some black poplin with tiny pinkish red polka dots which is begging me to be a Scout Tee, as a matter of fact!Β  I can even see it being worn with the skirt I have on right now. But I have to make it first. Note to self: see “great reminder about how little tiny actions add up” above πŸ™‚

Me Made MAD!

Have you seen the New York Times opinion piece about handmade by Emily Matchar?


and the rebuttal from Craftivisim’s Betsy Greer?

(you go girl!)

I have a few thoughts, too. 

+ What’s up with all this Etsy and other commercial, corporate places to sell stuff? People make things all the time without a thought of selling what they make, you know. Radical thought: you need something you do not have, you make it, you use it. People have been doing it since the cave times!

+ Buying is not going to save the world, period. We need to consume much, much, much less if we are going to heal even a fraction of what we have massively messed up on This Green Earth.

+ Home sewn dresses as a universal symbol of poverty in the past is absolutely ridiculous. Every child, as part of growing up and discovering the bigger world wants to expand their horizons and try things that are different from what they know. The storebought dress is my boxed macaroni and cheese — my grandmother cooked from scratch always and I had never tried any processed convenience food growing up. When I moved out of my house, the first thing I did was buy a box of macaroni and cheese, prepare it, and eat the whole thing! The dazzle was brief. Shortly after that I started making macaroni and cheese from scratch (and though I know little about Loretta Lynn, I bet she had custom hand made stage costumes and not store bought once she was out in the world!).

+ Your actions (and purchases) can support the status quo, make things better, or make things worse. No purchases are in a vacuum so of course they matter! If I decide not to have a car and not even to know how to drive — of course it matters. It does make things better. If I decide to eat meat three times a day of course it matters — it makes things worse. 

+ I find it very ironic that she talks about Etsy-ers burning out stitiching iPod cases for 16 hours a day in the same article where she praises the economy of scale in factory work. Human beings work the machinery in factories too – duh! Is it ok for factory workers to be bored out of their skull but not middle class Etsy sellers?

I’ll leave you with this quote:

β€œEvery man-made thing, be it a chair, a text, or a school, is thought made substance. It is the expression of someone’s, or some groups, ideas and beliefs. The two-hundred year old double hung, six light sash window in the wall opposite my desk, out of which I am looking at this moment embodies ideas about houses and how we should live in them, tools, technologies, standards of craftsmanship, nature and much else. It is a material manifestation of the collective consciousness of its time and place channeled through the individuals who commissioned and made it”.”  — Peter Korn, from Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

What do you think?

(image: knitting needles I made from elk bone. I make the things that help me make the things πŸ™‚ 

Me Made May 4/7 – 4/12

Time has gotten away from me! As a peace offering, let me present to you something(s) that I made which I use every single day: my paper wallets and business card holder:


I’ve been using a vintage metal cigarette case for decades as my wallet, but the elastic is no longer elastic-y and falls out constantly. I decided to make these paper wallets to use until I could replace the elastic, but I like them so much I haven’t even looked for elastic yet!

I found the paper wallets on Angry Chicken. They were really fun and easy to fold.


Here is a great video showing you how to make them:

I used text weight paper (from French Paper Co.) and put stickers on them from Cavallini & Co. I’m so pleased by the way they have held up over the months — just paper! I think it’s because of the layers of paper through folding that gives the structure strength. I use one paper wallet for my ATM card, Whole Foods rewards card, Starbucks card (don’t judge! It was a gift!),Β  and paper money, and another for my health insurance cards and flexible spending account card.

I carry my business cards in a structure called a blizzard book.


We learned this structure in my Book Arts: Structures class so that we would have something to hold the one page books that we all made for each other in the first weeks of class. This structure is also really neat because it was invented by Hedi Kyle whilst she was a teacher here at the University I work at! My teacher was her student.

This was folded with Hahnemuhle Ingres paper. I’m a little obsessed with this paper — I’ve made two blizzard books and a carousel book with it. It is strong, folds like a dream, and has great texture. You can’t see it in my photo, but this particular paper has thin red and black fibers running through it. The ivory doesn’t — it’s just perfect and textured and ah!!!

There is another reason I love these paper wallets — it takes the stuffing out of the Expensive Designer Wallet syndrome I see all the time. A piece of paper to cover my little pieces of paper (and plastic). Money is not something to worship and I see no reason to enshrine it in a $500 “luxury” good.


Me Made May: 4/5 – 4/6


+Reminded of my vinegar concoction as I spashed some in the sink for cleaning. I have a jar of this going at all times. It’s very effective for cleaning and so simple to make! 


Note the reused olive jar as well. Most of my storage containers are “made” from reused food jars. Also note the felted wool coaster it is sitting on. Knit a square larger and looser than usual out of pure wool — throw it in the wash — ta da! I also use these as hot pads for getting hot things out of the oven, lifting hot lids off of pots, etc. Wool, the great insulator! 

+ I wore the skirt I made out of a dress today, with a simple fitted t-shirt, tights, clogs. Pretty much my signature look.


+Dinner was chicken, veggies, and rice cooked in chicken broth. I buy an organic whole chicken every few months. I poach it in the crock pot (put chicken seasoned with salt and pepper in crock pot, turn on, let it go for 6-7 hours depending on size of chicken. Moist, flavorful, plus drippings!) and we eat the meat in a variety of ways. Then I take the bones to my giant stock pot, add carrots, onions, celery (ideally! if I’m missing one I still make it), fill the pot with water, and let it simmer 4 hours. This flavorful broth of course makes the most delicious soups, but also flavors my rice, pasta dishes, etc. I freeze part of it in little half cup containers so I can pull out just enough for, say, a cup of rice.

+The napkins for dinner are wonderous knitted cloths! I use these things for everything in my household. I quickly went around my house and counted 14 of them  — and this doesn’t count the ones I have at work or that are in the laundry basket! I feel the urge to make a few more coming on! They are the perfect thing to knit as it gets warm and you don’t want to sit covered in wool.



+ One very large hole I’ve found in my makings is breakfast. I am not a first thing in the morning breakfast eater. I like to have a large cup of coffee (made at home, naturally!) and that’s it. Here is my Holy Trinity of coffee making:


Good beans in bulk, hand crank coffee grinder, and a french press. Amen!

The thing I want to improve, though, is that I get into work and around 10am I am STARVING. I keep Luna bars or Power bars in my desk drawer for this inevitable, every day occurrence, but I’d like to start making them instead. Less expense, less packaging, best ingredients! If any of you have a breakfast bar recipe that keeps well and is yummy, I’m all ears. Starting a home made portable breakfast is one of my goals for the month.

+ As I got out the milk for my coffee, I couldn’t help but look at all of the art on our refrigerator door. These are all drawings by me or photographs by my husband (one piece — a postcard by a student for her Illustration show — it’s an Emerson quote — be silly, be honest, be kind). Tiny magnets hold everything up. We change it up every once in awhile. I like having art EVERYWHERE! You can also see on the right side a little bit of photography background paper and a pile of gardening gloves, and to the left the stepping stool — maker households are not perfectly tidy!


+ Took the last home made bagel in for lunch with the last scrapings of green onion cream cheese. I was happy to have this with me, because I spent my lunch hour with my classmate going from store to store trying to find the right ribbon to use for our carousel books! After three stores, we finally found what both of us needed at Paper Source. I also purchased two dreamy sheets of paper hand made in India that I want to use for hand stitched books. There aer a lot of ah, “novelty” items in that store, but they have gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, unique sheets of hand made paper I can’t find anywhere else in Philadelphia!

+ Made Ruth Reichl’s Carbonara for dinner. My favorite grown up comfort food. Bacon and eggs and mac and cheese in one, only elegant. I first ran across this recipe in her book Garlic and Sapphires, which is one of my favorite books in the whole wide world. I can say this about all of her books I’ve read, actually πŸ™‚ I love her blog. I have a mini-shrine of the Gourmet magazines whilst she was editor. 

Me Made May: 4/3 – 4/4

A quick log of the past two days!


+ I boiled and baked the bagels! I also made a quick topping for them –mix equal parts of dried minced onion, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. Then, add some flaky sea salt — just a little. Mmmmm.


+ I did tests for my final Book Arts: Structures project. I needed to choose ink colors for the text, and materials for the images, plus I needed to make sure that my mark-making did not show up on the other side of the paper. So important to do tests! I changed quite a few things about my project because of these tests! I also cut and folded my final structure, and it’s being pressed under 20934204 heavy books and a cinder block (!)


+ I worked on some cross-stitch. Cross-stitching is my Vailum. That repetitive stitching relaxes me so much!


I also made the little pin cushion I use for my needles a few years ago. How cute are those wee scissors? I got them for a holiday present last year from my boss!


+ More changes to my final project. We had some time to work on our project during class time, and I did some flower sketches and also changed some of where I’m putting the text in the innermost folds of the project. I also took in my tests to share with my class and got good feedback which helped me make final decisions on materials.

+ Sneezy pollen day! Thank goodness for hand embroidered and hand tea dyed handkerchiefs! I was especially happy to find this one that I made in my binocular bag — I thought I had lost it. So, I washed it nice and fresh and put it in my handbag.




Making Me Made May Mine

I love the idea of Me Made May — celebrating self-made clothing is a wonderful thing! But, as you can tell from this blog, I’m also interested in other things people make. Self-care items, art, food, gardens — pretty much anything and everything a soul could create instead of buy. So, I am going to participate in this challenge, but with a twist: report all (or at least what I remember!) made items each day (with me, it will probably be every couple of days mushed together — but I’ll do my best!). I will also be at least a day behind because you don’t know everything  you’ve made until you have shut your eyes for the night!

The purpose of this challenge is two-fold: I’d like to see what kind of things I have made and how I use them on a daily basis, and for me to take a look at the things I don’t make, and ponder how I might be able to work making them into my life.

Happy My Me Made May πŸ™‚

Friday, May 1: 

+ I made a chocolate cake with strawberry frosting for my coworker’s baby shower party! She is craving chocolate big time, and I wanted to make the frosting pink without using food coloring — jam works perfectly (and is so delicious). One of my favorite ways to spend a morning is to get up with the birds and bake a cake or bread. Everyone enjoyed it, and I even got to bring a piece home to my husband πŸ™‚

Although I make things during my work day, I plan to leave those out of this tally. Not only for privacy reasons, but because I get paid to create these things for the university, and not for my own use. So!

Saturday, May 2:

Ah, Saturday! 

+ Wearing my hand knit footie socks (with yoga pants and a t-shirt, and hope to not have to get changed til Monday morning!). 

+ I have a hair tie in my hair I made from a pair of opaque tights that got too holey to wear: just use the legs to cut off rings of stocking. They do not pull your hair and are easy to use. You’ll never have to buy another hair tie again!

+ I made the first part of home made bagels. Basically, you make a sponge, then the dough, then you shape them, then they have a slow rise in the refrigerator overnight (that’s the part I did this day). The next day you boil then bake them. 

+ I also made a green onion cream cheese to go with — soften your cream cheese, chop a bunch of green onion, combine — add a splash of milk for ease of combination. I also like to grind black pepper into it. I use the food processor to make it light and whipped but you can certainly do this by hand. No preservatives like the kind you buy in the store! No plastic container, either!

+ I made burritos for lunch. I won’t report every meal because I make the majority of them. We only eat out if we are out for long periods of time and didn’t pack a picnic (plus we’ve gotten into this little tradition on my late school nights of picking up sandwiches so we can talk and relax instead of make meals so late in the day). I’ll only report some of the meals — but making meals is very important to me on many levels — financial, environmental, sufficiency…

+ I made a sunflower bed in the garden (dug the bed last week, but planted the seeds this day) and planted pansy and johnny jump up seeds in a planter on my porch. I already saw loads of birds in the sunflower patch which made me glad I planted extra seeds.

Four seeds in a row, 

one for the rook,

one for the crow,

one will wiher and one will grow. 

It may work out that they eat them all. Then I’ll plant something else and consider my seed purchase a donation to Seed Savers Exchange and Very Expensive Bird Food. What can you do?

+ I worked on the Purl Bee Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf. I (of course – heh) am making my own interpretation. It will be a little over 6 ft when done — I tried wrapping it around my neck in its half-finished state and I really like the way the stripes show themselves and overlap and mix. I hope to have enough yarn left to make the Purl Beret to go with! 

+ I made pizza for dinner! One was a broccoli rabe and garlic white one, and the other was red with minced onion, green pepper, and kalamata olives. Half of the red one is left over, so my husband will have a nice lunch one day this week (he works from home so I try to make sure he has something yummy and easy to prepare as he often works through lunch). I also made the dough for this last weekend, and we wound up going out for the day. When I got home, I froze it, then took it out in the morning to defrost. It came out perfect! Yet another way to make home made bread work in your life. Another time I got too busy to make pizza but already made the dough, so I made foccacia — just press it into a jelly roll pan with lots of olive oil, topped with whatever your like (I used minced onion and sesame seeds). Delicious.

+ Most nights I read until sleep. In my opinion, reading is not only supremely enjoyable, but reading good books is a way to make meaning — in your life, with other lives, with language. I don’t consider reading a passive state, but an active making-state when done this way. Reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel presently. What an education about human nature (and words, words, words).