Month: January 2016

A Gamble


This year, I’ve taken a huge risk, and spent just over half of my coupons in the very first month of the challenge. The January sales presented so many dresses I’ve had my eye on all year at prices (and skill levels! and time commitments!) that I could not replicate with my own sewing.

I purchased 5 dresses. They can all be worn for at least three seasons (one for 4) and fill large holes in my wardrobe (especially the three that can be worn in summer). Four are from April Cornell, and one from Lands End.

I feel that I’ve made a smart (dresses I’ve been pining for from manufacturers I like to support for such good prices) but scary (35 coupons in January. Egads.) decision. The rest of the year’s new wardrobe is going to have to be sewn, knitted, and thrifted (all their own kind of pleasure). No new shoes this year. I’m lucky that David bought me two bras at Costco when we were bulk shopping (oh dear I’m writing about bras on the internet again). I think I’ll be ok as long as I wait until next year to buy the dresses that catch my eye this year!


Now, back to knitting on my sweater, all from yarn I had in my stash except for one skein, which I think will make it a one coupon sweater. Thankfully!


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Work and life goes on at a frantic pace — deadlines, committees, meetings, renew this, get an inspection of that — all the stuff that keeps our worlds in motion. Which is why I like slow in my making world. I am not a multiple project juggling kinda gal. I am happiest starting, working on, then finishing one project. That isn’t to say that I sometimes don’t put down a project for another, only to take it up weeks (or months) later. That certainly happens! But my natural state is project monogamy.


Right now I’m luxuriating in knitting a warm sweater. Large chunks of time have been spent sitting, knitting, cozy with a cat (or two!), warm beverage (or two!), the sweater growing in my lap and acting like a little blanket as I work on it. A break to accommodate the risings of bread or simmer of soup.

Blissful. Calm. Slow.

As I rush from event to meeting to project today, I am going to hold in my head and heart my slow hours working on this sweater, and the promise of more to come after the work week is done.

New Wallet Type Thing

I had noticed that the folded paper wallets I made last year were looking a little worse for wear. The paper was looking beat up, a little dirty, and the one I use most often, the yellow one, was slowly ripping across the top.


I filed it in the back of my mind to do something about soon.

On Friday, I went to Williams-Sonoma to purchase two soufflé dishes so I can make individual shepherd’s pies (amongst other things!) for David and I, and I pulled out my little yellow paper wallet and REALLY saw how unpresentable they have become amongst the gleaming Le Creuset Dutch ovens and sparkling Reidel stemware. I vowed to do something about them immediately!

Luckily I stumbled across this pattern for knitted business card cases. I thought I could just make it a wee bit bigger so I can also fit some folded cash and it would work for a wallet. So, I got knitting! And . . .


(Please excuse the hasty photo in the car — I literally grabbed it from the blocking board, sewed on the button, shoved my cards and money in it, and ran out the door to go on an adventure to the Baltimore Museum of Art!)

I used the leftover yarn I dyed for my Merwif hat, and a vintage button from my magical stash that somehow always produces the right button  for a project (love the way the oxidized copper of the button echoes the yarn colors — and I couldn’t resist sewing the button on with pinkypurpley embroidery floss, as a nod to those pinkypurpley accents in the yarn colors). I pretty much followed the pattern, but I made the triangular flap increase to 25 stitches wide (which made the circular body 50 stitches total) and instead of binding off and sewing, I used a three needle bind off. Oh, and I wet blocked it. In my opinion, there are few knitting projects that do not improve upon a wet block!

I’m so happy I was able to solve my wallet problem with a little yarn, an old button, and a few hours of my time. I also want to thank my paper wallets – almost a year of service from two sheets of paper and some stickers!

And speaking of folded paper, I’m still using the blizzard book I folded for my business cards. Whenever I take one of my cards out from the structure to give to a student, he or she asks me about it, and I wind up getting them interested in taking Book Arts: Structures 🙂 I think I always need to keep my cards in a blizzard book!


A Complete Focused Effort!

I’m happy to report that I’ve completed one of my Focused Efforts for 2016 — 12 hand towels for the bathroom:


This cutesy arrangement lasted for about three minutes, as I immediately had to take a clean towel out for my daily use 🙂 I will be so happy to not have to do a mid-week load of laundry because I ran out of fresh hand towels.

I also made a Grandmother’s Favorite wash cloth from the extras, with just a little extra beige I had left over from another project.


It feels great to have one of my Focused Efforts accomplished so early in the year! Onward, to the next!

Happy New Hair!

I made a change to my hair this New Year, too! Now that I’m using actual shampoo and conditioner that must be purchased (instead of bar shampoo, which lasts forever, and apple cider vinegar which is pennies a use) I was alarmed at how fast I was going through products because of my long hair. It was also getting to be a pain to dry. I air dry my hair and it was taking most of the day which is terrible when it’s cold out! I will admit quite sheepishly that I was also inspired to cut it after watching the first episode of Season 6 of Downton Abbey. Lady Mary’s bob is amazing this season! I was feeling like I might want to be a bit more flapper-ish and fancy-free.

I did it over two days so I wouldn’t have major regrets — I could always do more, but once it’s off…

My home haircuts are pretty simple to do. I keep my hair dry (easier to make sure you’re not cutting too much). Then, to make the slightly U shape (just a little longer in the back than front) follow this tutorial. I didn’t make the cut very short because I still wanted the option to wear my hair up (and wear my hair accessories I enjoy so much!), although I estimate I cut over 7 inches off. This new length is the best of both worlds for me!

An aside: I know cutting one’s own hair isn’t for everyone, but I like it because it takes so much less time than sitting in a salon, making small talk with a bunch of people, and many times not getting what you really want, not to mention the expense, dye and perm fumes, etc. I did these cuts in about 10 minutes each day in the morning before I went to work! If you are at all interested, poke around the internet — there are a bunch of resources out there that might be close to the cut you want!

Another aside: I have a book on making my own art supplies, and one of the supplies you can make are paint brushes. I saved my cut hair so I can make some with it! How’s that for recycling! If you cut your hair at home, you can also compost it, or leave it outside for the birds to make nests with (I do this with little snips of yarn).

Less resources used, less drying time, and a sassy shorter hair feeling. Happy New Hair!

2016: Happy New Year!


Good Morning and Happy New Year!

I’m eager to start off the year with my goals and intentions for Life During Wartime in black and white.   As I explained in my last post, I’ll have 66 clothing coupons for the year, and I won’t be tracking soap or tea coupons. I’ll put my little ration coupon chart at the end of this post as a refresher — remember I accidentally switched Make and Buy, so twirl them around when you read my scribbles!

Additionally, I have some Focused Efforts that I’d like to accomplish this year:


…by the end of 2016 I’d like to have in my cupboards…

– 12 socks

-12 hand towels

for daily use.

I would also like to complete 1 sweater in 2016. 2 would be over the moon amazing!!


I’d like to complete 6 garments. I’m not going to set in stone what they will be to allow myself flexibility, but I would love to make 2 more scout tees and 2 dresses. I would also love to make a simple black summer skirt in linen and a simple black winter skirt in wool. There are also quite a few other projects that have caught my eye, but we will see what I can accomplish with my coupon and time constraints!

I also have two Focused Efforts which do not have to do with ration coupons, but fit in with the overall challenge of trying be the change I want to see in the world:

Amazon — you’ve been given the boot!

Because I work at a university and attend classes, I’ve had access to a free Amazon Prime membership basically since there has been an Amazon Prime! The allure of items appearing like magic in the mail so quickly, access to loads of music and films, and large selections of everything under the sun dazzled me. I kept reading about people boycotting Amazon because of so many reasons (undercutting authors and independent businesses, horrible labor practices in both warehouses and corporate offices, the fact that they have stuck their fingers in every pie — they have even started to offer home repair services and handmade etsy-like shopping — and it goes on and on) but never cancelled my membership — until last month! Amazon, you’re ditched!

I welcome the “inconvenience” of waiting for things, seeking them from alternate sources I can feel good (instead of guilty) purchasing from, and even sometimes missing out because something isn’t available. I am excited about what I will discover, too! I’ve already in the past month subscribed to Acorn TV which offers the British television I like so much. I’ve been going to the art supply store more. I’ve been using the shops in my town more. I’ve found smaller places to get important things that they don’t sell around here (like my eczema shampoo and conditioner!) and have also realized what things aren’t so important after all once I didn’t have free-shipping-click-of-a-button access to them.

I expect some withdrawal pangs from this decision. I keep thinking about how much I loved seeing the adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell on Amazon Prime right after it was shown in the UK and — I’m probably not going to be able to access such things so easily. Pang! I feel a pang!

Even Less Meat

In 2015, one of my goals was the eat less meat. It went very well — I would say we are eating 50% less meat — and I feel ready to take it even further! I’m not sure how to quantify this (I know as soon as I say something like “only eat meat once a week” I’ll rebel!) so I’ll just continue to use less so that I feel the pinch a little until it becomes second nature, as I did last year. I also made it a point to eat vegetarian when I eat with my coworkers. I did eat meat a few times when it was something I loved (I can even remember the two things — a corned beef special and a shepherd’s pie!). It helps me to keep going. this slow evolve is better than what I did before – going vegetarian then vegan only to eventually freak out and eat All The Meat.

This should keep me busy, yes? And doesn’t include all the art making, adventuring, and other stuff I want to do! Here is to trying for a better world, no matter what *clink* !! My third year of rationing, wow 🌟


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