Thursday, April 30, 2009

10 Minute Transformation: Funky 70's Tie Recycled into Colorful Belt

This is seriously the easiest project that I've ever done, but the reward is big. There are many reasons that you might want to make your own belt:
1. It will fit exactly the way you want it to
2. No animals will have been harmed in the making of your belt
3. Belts are freaking expensive! Even a cheap Target belt is almost 20 bones, this cost me about $1.50
Here's how to do it:

1. Go to the thrift store, or some man's closet (ask permission before you steal this man's tie please) and get yourself a fun necktie. I purchased mine at the local Goodwill, where they weigh clothes by the pound. I purchased two ties for about $.50.
2. Get yourself (2) D rings. If you can find an old belt at the thrift store with good rings, but no personality, pick it up and strip it down for the hardware. If not, a fabric store will have them in assorted sizes, usually for about $1.00.
3. You can measure this belt in one of two ways. First, you can find a belt that you know and love and use that to measure your new belt. Add about an inch so that you'll have a 1/2" seam allowance to work with. If you don't have a belt that you know and love, take a tape measure and measure around the area where you like to wear your belts (some like waist, some like hips, it's your get to decide!). Again, add 1" to this measurement.
4. Cut your tie to length. I used pinking shears and cut off at the fat end. Keep your scraps; they are great for applique!
5. Fold over one end of your belt and sew it in place. Take the other end (same side) and insert it through both D rings and sew into place.
6. Rock out in your new belt!

Oh the Humanity: Hipster Love/Hate

I read this article and litterally lol'd at my desk today. I snickered because I have been both the giver and receiver of hipster mockery. Sadly, I can really identifiy with far too much of this article's content and therefore felt compelled to share it with you all, who will undoubtedly get a chortle out of it too.

The Hip Game of Mocking the Hipsters


Hipsters are taking a great bashing on the Internet these days, and it's hard not to join in the uncharitable fun - contemporary urban fashion is at its most ridiculous point since at least the late 1960s, and there is something so cleverly smug about the skinny-jeans artist brigade that they cannot help but annoy. You have probably seen the "Hipster Olympics" video on YouTube, a fake contest in the spirit of Monty Python's "Upper Class Twit of the Year," in which young New Yorkers compete in choosing ironic T-shirts, photographing themselves for MySpace and criticizing a jock. So now I encourage you to check out my current favourite hipster-mocking site, the rudely named "Look at This [Expletive] Hipster," which is a collection of candid photos of real people on the blog site Tumblr. LATFH, as we will call it, is modelled on the famously cruel Vice magazine "Dos and Don'ts" photos, in which an anonymous, violently misogynist and racist, and very funny voice made comments about unfortunate people photographed in the street. There is the same tone here. But where Vice magazine praises, with masturbatory enthusiasm, some of its subjects (the Dos), LATFH is purely negative. It's all Don'ts. Which were always the funniest anyway. Here are three textbook hipsters, for example, standing on the lawn of some college campus, all stick men with mandatory hipster slumped shoulders and mops of unwashed hair, in their super-narrow jeans and their striped T-shirts and their oversized glasses, and they are looking with some boredom at a girl sitting on the lawn in front of them, and she has a blanket over her legs. The caption reads, "There better be some torn leggings, bruised thighs and tattered cowboy boots under that blanket, or we are out of here." Which actually made me laugh out loud. Or here is an extremely skinny, pale, androgynous boy in dark glasses, sitting next to his identical-looking girlfriend on the subway, and the caption reads, "I'm sorry. This is the last time I'll ask, but are we a lesbian couple?" And here is a guy with the most unbelievably hideous, greasy mullet, big 1970s spectacles, an ugly mustache and a nasty acrylic sweater. He is saying, "Why yes, I do have ironic pubic hair." Now yes, of course, this is a juvenile and conservative humour, and it is not cool to find sexual androgyny ridiculous; it usually indicates some kind of insecurity. I have been on the receiving end of it so much in my life I am surprised by my own hostility here. Why is it that the hipsters irritate me so? I try, I try hard, to see something subversive or rebellious or aesthetically interesting in their determinedly ugly clothes and their determinedly unimpressed stance and I just can't.
I see a certain hypocrisy: The hipster pose is of someone who rejects fashion, who is wearing second-hand clothes because she is poor and refusing to buy into consumer culture, who makes fun of sensual subcultures such as Goths and dandies, and yet the outfits she invariably concocts are so odd they cross the line into flamboyance. If you combine your second-hand 1970s dress with huge plastic sunglasses and canvas running shoes, you can't deny you want to be looked at. And then of course there's the weedy, whiny music, and the lack of interest in any cause or intellectual issue, other than possibly environmentalism (the default cause of the sensitive dropout). The twist on hipster mockery, of course, is that (like all vicious satire), it comes from inside. That is, you have to recognize the subtle hipster tropes, which means that you are probably pretty much a hipster already. I myself wouldn't be so irritated if I didn't live in the thick of them. Vice magazine is the prime example of this self-deprecation, and LATFH itself is deeply in-the-know. One picture, of a guy in a plaid jacket listening to headphones, is captioned, "If I didn't already know I was listening to Animal Collective on these headphones, I would bet myself $100 that I was listening to Animal Collective on these headphones." Which is, of course, only funny to a hipster. Indeed, this kind of photo blog, and Tumblr itself, are madly hip. This is exactly how hipsters communicate. Tumblr is a site where, for free, you can create your own "tumblelog," a blog that is usually a collection of photos, links and oddities rather than of written entries. Like Twitter, it represents microblogging, a trend away from the page-long texts and arguments of blogs and toward brief flashes. You could call it post-literate. And like any good Internet meme, LATFH has spawned iterations with similar names. "Look At This Lovely Hamster," for example, is exactly the same, except it's pictures of hamsters. Is it a parody, is it ironic, or is it completely serious? What's the difference? I can't tell. That's how hip it is.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

2 Days, 12 Hours, 44 minutes, and 29 seconds

In my effort to live naturally, frugally, healthfully I noticed a glaringly obvious hypocrisy in my life; I've been a smoker for about 16 years. I did manage to quit once for about 1 of those years, but that was before Grad school. My husband often jokes that I'm the best quitter he knows, I quit all of the time and it is depressingly true. Most often I only relapse for a cigarette or a few, but occasionally I creep back up to a pack a week or harassing strangers for nicotine outside of bars. It's embarassing... So, this week I have taken a few steps to prevent my constant relapsing (ex. Monday night) and I found an interesting iGoogle gadget offered by Quitplan. I don't actually use their services, but I love the free gadget. I enter, the last time I smoked, the number of cigarettes per day, the cost per pack and let it do it's thing. Each time I log onto the internet it trumpets that I have now been smoke free for 2 days, 12 hrs.... and I haven't smoked 38 cigarettes, I've saved myself $11.40 and and I've added 5 hours to my life! Each time I relapse I have to set it back to 0, which is a tangible reminder of my momentary lapse in judgement. Fortunately I have not yet used those opportunities to return to full blown smoking, only treated them for what they are...a ridiculous step back from my goal. However, I find that the coutner provides me the best kind of unpatronizing support that I respond to best. I also have a few additional resources in my bag of tricks including, gum, nicotine mints, chocolate, and stretchy pants. In an effort to ensure my success I am taking 2 months to let myself go. I do still plan to lift weights and exercise, but I have promised myself not to notice the extra pounds that seem to be packing on fairly quickly. With nothing to signal my brain that the end of the meal has arrived (because I've been smoking after every meal since about 15 years of age) I am constantly overeating. Sure, this would be an issue long term, but losing weight has always been easy for me, quitting smoking has not. So, be prepared for lots of drawstring skirt and pants tutorials and plenty of t-shirt material outfits because I'm looking forward to letting it all hang out, if only briefly while I deal with my nicotine addiction. I'd like my cookie now please...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Swap?

It's that time of year again, when I drag out last year's goodies and donate the duds that I never did wear and pick-up some new fun spring clothes at my local Goodwill. Goodwill is a great way to recycle clothes and get a great deal, but I like the idea of free even more than cheap, plus I'd love the opportunity to hang out with my friends and neighbors. For this very reason I am considering hosting a clothing swap in Baltimore City. I'd like to gauge a general interest, so if you would be willing to participate please comment so that I can get a rough estimate. Also, if you have any friends that you think would be interested, please pass this post along. I'd like the swap to be open to men and women. I think that the more people we can get, the more opportunity we'll have to find new sizes and flavors of ready to wear or alter goodness. I'll post details as this develops and if it's a small group, we'll use my living room. If I can get a real group of friends I have a local place with plenty of room in mind.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Rockin' Refashion: The Twisted Sister Tote

A really good friend of mine gave me an awesome 80's Twisted Sister shirt and told me to make something out of it; so I did. I made a rockin' tote bag that I can't wait to show off (pics to be posted soon). To make your own bag out of one of your retired, but beloved t-shirt you will need:

2 L or XL t-shirts
tailor's chalk
needle & thread

You can use a machine or sew by hand, I did both. The project for a total noob like me took about 2 hours. Here's how I did it.

1. Measure 4" up from the bottom hem of your tshirt and draw a line straigh across the bottom of the shirt parallel to the hem. Next, cut through both layers of fabric, parallel to the hem and you will have a 4" wide tube. Keep this, it will be used to make the handle later. I chose a single long handle that can be word over the body, but if you prefer to make two short handles for a more traditiona tote, you can certain do that too. The world is your oyster and this is your bag, make whatever kind of handle you like to carry.

2. Draw the shape you like, using your tailor's chalk, to include the coolest part of your t. This will make the body of the bag. I chose to make a square, but you could make a heart, a circle, a triangle, or whatever shape captures the coolest part of your t. Cut this shape through both layers of t-shirt and then use it as a stencil to trace onto your other tshirt. If chose not to make the bag reversible and used a far less cool shirt to make the inside. You could use two totally awesome shirts and make a bag that is completely reversible inside out. Also, my design was cool on the front and back, so I used just the Twisted Sister shirt to make the front and back. You, however, can mix and match your shirts to reverse front and back, or in and out.

3. Pin your shirts together with the cool pictures facing in and lay your other shirt on top, making a super cool t-shirt sandwhich. Make sure to use your tailor's chalk to mark the top of your design, if you can't easily tell up from down.

4. Sew the sides and bottom edges of your shirts together. I chose an interesting looking stretchy stitch on my machine, but choose one that you like, but is designed to work on stretch knits. If you have an older machine, a medium width zig zag stitch will do. I used cool bright green thread to complement my t. Sew around the edges removing the pins before your needle gets to them. (Beweare the broken needle from trying to sew over your pins!) Be sure to leave the top open, so that you can put all of your awesome stuff in when you are done.

5. Turn your bag inside right (cook picture on the outside). Fold the top of the bag down, all of the way around about 1/2" and pin in place (pin to what will be the inside of the bag). Sew around to attach the outside t-shirt to the inside t-shirt. Do not sew straight through, or you won't be able to open the bag.

6. Finally, take your t-shirt tube from step 1 and fold in half, then fold in half again. Pin the edges and sew along the seam from end to end. This will make a 1" wide length of t-shirt to be used for the handle. Pin the handle in place and try on your bag to be sure that you like the length. Finally, hand sew on using a running stitch to attach the handles.

7. Rock out with your bag out!

Spring Fever: Gardening and Building Jumps...Wait, What?!?

It's Spring again finally. The birds are chirping, I'm in my garden, and my husband is committing gravity defying feats of stupidity. It's great fun, in fact I wish that I was spending more time on the jump and less time digging in the berms.
So, I've been splitting my time between building the landing and working on my self-watering planters. So far I have mangaged to get my green onions, parsley, basil, strawberries and beets all into their containers. I have also planted some additional rosemary, because my previous year's work was being bullied by the oregano and I was hoping that the addition of a fully grown brother would aid in it's survival; we'll see. As you may know from reading my previous blogs, I am responsible for the (attractive) front yard garden and my husband is responsible for the (horrible mud pit) back yard, also known as the pump track, or dirt jump area. Our friends and neighbors came out to see Jamie's inaugural jump and even sent us pictures. Jamie, our friend Greg, and I spent the better part of two weekends building this madness, which suprisingly looks much smaller in pictures. I am responsible for the digging, also knows as the berm b*tch, and Jamie and Greg were on ramp and platform building detail. The first picture is from the side at ground level, while the second was taken from on top of the launching platform. Here's to another great season. Cheers!

Chronicling my adventures in proving that less is more. I'll learn to refashion/recycle clothes, prepare gourmet meals using as many natural/basic/raw ingredients as possible. I'll learn to spend less, live more, and reclaim those things that are truly valuable in my life.


Below are feeds from websites that I find to be interesting and from a similar vein.


craigslist | free stuff in baltimore

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