Strange Happenings

A couple weeks ago we had a ton of rain, which was very confusing to all of us in this perpetually droughted state. This rat snake showed up on our front porch, preventing Hubby from coming inside after work. I opened the garage for my precious Hubby, thereby rescuing him from a battle to the death to get through the front door. That’s just the kind of thoughtful spouse I am. This guy then retreated to under the front stoop, where I assume he can’t get into the house. We haven’t seen him since, so hopefully he’s moved on.

The same night there was a torrential downpour. I happened to hear a weird noise in the kitchen, and when I went to investigate there was water running down the wall from our kitchen window.

Our window are double paned, but they’re from the 80’s. That means each of the window panes is a separate piece that has to be opened or shut independently. The outer one was open, allowing rain to fill the inch wide gap between the panes. This was then pouring into the house because of the massive amount of rain. Hubby braved the elements to wrestle the outer window shut, and we then “bailed” water out of the tiny crack using wash clothes and towels. It took forever. We probably had 3 gallons of water come into the house through the window.

Later that evening I went into the back yard, just to check on things, and it was filling up with water. The area by the gate had gotten clogged with leaves, preventing water from running out into the street. It was my turn to fight the rain and wind. I pulled mountains of leaves and twigs out from the gate, allowing the water to drain from the yard. I came back in the house, dirty and soaking wet, and Hubby said, “Were you outside?” Of course we appreciate the rain, probably more than most people since it’s been hard to come by recently, but it can still be trying.


May 31, 2012. Tags: , , , . My Quest to be more Interesting, Random typing. Leave a comment.

Fun at work

The day after a holiday weekend can be such a downer. Fortunately, we had a tiny amusement at work, and I thought you’d all like to get in on the fun. It’s a mystery sponge-in-a-pill toy! I don’t know what they’re really called, but here’s a time-lapse for you:

It’s a tiny pony! The body is about the size of a quarter. I hope you enjoyed the anticipation. It’s not quite the T-Rex I was hoping for, but it’s a new desk toy.


May 29, 2012. Tags: , . Random typing. 7 comments.

How to choose a purse

Part 2 of how to reduce your spending on accessories. If you missed part one, you’re a terrible person, but here it is for your edification.

If you are the type of person to buy lots of purses, give some thought to why you’re buying them. I kept looking for that “perfect” purse. Each one would have some fault: the opening was too small, there weren’t enough pockets, the strap was too short, whatever. To finally restrain myself, I thought about the features I wanted in the ultimate purse, and what items that purse would need to carry.

At the time, I was in college, and I wanted to be able to carry my spiral notebooks, pens, calculator, and snacks for class, along with regular “purse stuff”. I wanted a pocket just for my cell phone, because what always happens? Your phone has fallen to the bottom of the purse, and you forgot to turn off your ringer, and OF COURSE it goes off in class during an exam, and everyone hates you, and you paw around in there for twenty minutes trying to shut the damn thing off. I like to avoid masses of people hating me for legitimate reasons, so a pocket was a high priority for me.

I also wanted a long strap, so I can wear it across my body. This is better for your back, and I’ve always found it to be the most comfortable. I get sick of shoulder bags digging into me after awhile, and I like to have my hands free for important things, like playing on my cell phone. I also didn’t want a big purse, because that just enables me to be a packrat.

Taking all these criteria into account, I designed and made my own purse. I figured it was easier than hunting every mall and thrift store for the perfect bag, and also pride in my own creation would be even more motivation to stop buying other purses. It’s worked for 10 years now. I still have the same purse, and I even patched it up a bit recently. I have a few other purses, all of which were gifts, or free.

There are several things to consider when looking for or designing a purse:

1) Are you a clutter-bug? If you tend to collect random crap in your purse, is this something you want to prevent or enable? If you want to prevent it, get a purse small enough to hold your essentials, and that’s all. That will force you to keep it clean. If you want to enable it, you’re nuts. You’re not Mary Poppins. But get a slightly larger bag to accomodate your hoarding.

2) What do you need to carry? When checking out purses, or starting your preliminary crafting, make sure your basics – cell phone, keys, wallet, make-up, water bottle, toy velociraptor – will fit, and are accessible. If you are constantly fighting with your purse to jam things into it, you will not be happy.

3) What do you need quick access to? For me, it’s my cell phone and keys, which is why they have their own pocket that’s easy to see and reach.

4) What kind of strap do you want? Maybe you only need the space of a clutch, but do you want to have it in your hand all the time? Keep in mind that straps can be added or altered on purses fairly easily, so if you find one that’s almost perfect, check out the strap area to see if you can make it fit your needs easily.

5) What kind of opening do you need? I prefer purses that open fairly wide so the inside is well-lit, and I can find my flask chewing gum easily. If you’re the type to just chuck your purse all over the place, consider a zipper so your stuff stays inside.

6) What other things bother you about past purses? I have one friend who is petrified of germs, and hates having to set her purse on the floor at restaurants or in bathrooms. I would suggest one with a hard bottom, with those little metal feet, so it doesn’t actually touch the floor, and possibly made out of vinyl, or some other material that she could easily clean and sanitize.

These same principles can be used for anything you’re buying a lot of, such as sports equipment (I’m guessing). Take a minute to assess what you like and don’t like about the items you already have, and find an item that will meet your criteria.

May 27, 2012. Tags: , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. Leave a comment.

How to stop buying shoes

There are lots of ways to waste money; two of my personal bank-draining demons used to be shoes and purses. How did I kick the habits? I’ll tell you, because I’m just a damn awesome person. How awesome? I’m not making a joke about how modest I am. That’s how awesome. You don’t come here for run-of-the-mill humor; I’m assuming you come here for crafting and to bask in my radiance.

Let’s start off with shoes. I grew up in a desolate area, with nary a movie house or coffee shop in sight. It was basically not even suburbs, but suburb adjacent, and we shared it with cows. Once a mall was built in my late teen years, it became our sole source of entertainment. We spent evenings and weekends wandering the air-conditioned wonder, taking in the endless delights of Sbarro and Claire’s.

I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent on cheap earrings and plastic garbage. Payless fed my shoe habit with their relentless “Buy one, get one half off” sales to draw in vulnerable, naive teens like myself.

In an effort to curb my habit, and avoid being buried alive in accessories, I forcibly grew my own feet to a women’s size 10 1/2, or about an 8 in men’s. (Actually, I just inherited my 6’2″ dad’s feet, without the height to match; but I can go snorkeling without flippers!) Since I have yet to find a store that consistently sells shoes large enough for giant-monster feet like my own, my spending decreased dramatically.

Unfortunately, flip-flops are one size fits all, and they became my new addiction. They’re comfy, cheap, and easily accessible. I finally realized I had over-dosed this last year. I found 3-4 pairs I had never even WORN, so I handed them off to a friend who has worn the hell out of them.

At this point, I still love my flip flops, but I have realized I have ample to last me for the next ten years at least. I have also developed a bunion, which flip-flops are bad for, so out of fear I will stop buying (but probably not wearing) them. So all you have to do to reduce your shoe-buying, is stick your feet in a nuclear reactor. You get Godzilla feet, and your wallet gets a break. I bet you never knew it was so simple!

For serious though, take an inventory of all the shoes you have on hand. I generally keep one pair of nasty sneakers for things like yard work (HA! Yard work! Right.), and one pair of old flip-flops for the beach, or playing at the river (much more likely than yard work). Other than that, the same rules for reduced clothes-buying apply to shoes: buy durable, simple, classic styles. That way they won’t wear out or break, and they will match with everything.

You can also consider reducing the color palette in your wardrobe. I have one friend who wears only black and shades of grey; everything of hers matches everything else, she doesn’t have to separate her laundry, and she always looks sophisticated. I’m not planning to go that extreme, but if I get rid of my brown office clothes, I can avoid buying a new pair of pants and shoes. I don’t even really like most of my brown stuff anyway, so I’m seriously considering it.

If you have shoes that you like, but look a little worn, or aren’t quite what you want, consider painting them, or altering them in some other way to make them what you do want. The basic rule you should always follow is make it last, make do, or do without, before making any purchase.

May 25, 2012. Tags: , , , . House Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 1 comment.

My Cool Family

You know and I know that I’m amazing, but (hold on to your crochet hooks) I didn’t get this way on my own. I know, I know. “But you’re so unique and talented”, you’re thinking. “How could you be anything but a gift from the gods themselves?” That is a good question, and a valid point, but I can assure you I am a normal human being (I mean, cooler than most, obviously) and I was raised by a family just like the rest of you minions.

I was reflecting the other day on what made me so awesome after reading Mi Madre’s blog post about quilts that her grandmother made for me and my sister as babies. That sentence right there tells you a lot. Not only does my mom blog, (and my dad, and my sister, Beans), she taught us from an early age to value and revere handmade items, and to treasure things passed down through the family.

I have also learned some of my crafting skills from my family. My maternal grandmother taught me and Beans to crochet, and Mi Madre taught me the basics of quilting. We were always given free reign with arts and crafts as kids; maybe a little too free since Beans enjoyed biting the tips off markers. Mom taught us a lot about jewelry making, and sculpting beads, and just general crafts. Art, crafting, and DIY were always encouraged in our house. My dad has mad skillz when it comes to home repairs, which I’ve tried to exploit, but not that well.

Basically, since it’s Mother’s Day, I’d like to say thank you to all the women in my family who have not only passed down important skills, but have also passed down the knowledge to value these skills and their products. Thanks so much, and I love you. I hope you liked this blog post because I forgot to send a card! 😀 HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

May 13, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Random typing. 2 comments.

DIY Poof Foot Stool

I love to crochet, but I have huge gaps in my knowledge of it. I can’t read patterns, and I have no idea how much yarn it takes to make what I want. For this project, I started out with 4 rolls of yarn from my Gram. I was trying to make a throw blanket, but it came out too long and skinny, and it looks ridiculous. I didn’t want to rip it all out and start over like I did with my giant blanket, so I stuffed it in a closet out of frustration.

Recently, on pinterest I saw a tutorial to make your own poof foot stool. I didn’t actually know that was a thing, but apparently it is. The tutorial it linked to was for knitting, but the gist is that you need a long skinny piece of fabric (I think. A lot of the site seemed to be in French). So the messed up blanket now had a purpose! I folded it in half, and sewed all down the short side. On one end I gathered the edges together like this:

Basically, I kept it folded in half, sewed one stitch in the middle to hold it together, brought the middle of each side in and sewed that together also. Once I had it divided into quarters in the picture above, I brought the middle of each loop to the center and sewed it all together again, which gives you this:

I hope I explained all that clearly. If not, send me ten dollars (enough for a box of wine!) and I’ll try again. Then flip your poof right side out, like this:

So you can see it gives you a nice, gathered look. On the tutorial I read, the creator got some blankets at the thrift store to stuff her poof. I think that’s genius, but I already have a plethora of blankets laying around; I just don’t want to permanently stitch them into a foot stool. What’s a Clever Chick to do? Drink. What’s a Clever Chick to do next? Use a blanket I want to keep, but find a way to make it still accessible. I used this comforter we have that is way too hot for the Texas summer.

I laid it out like this, then rolled it up, and stuffed it into my poof. I then closed it off with…a hairband! BOOM. I’m awesome. Since I chopped my hair off, I don’t need all these hairbands I have laying around, so this is the perfect solution. I can get to my blanket whenever I want, and it’s actually serving a purpose, rather than just cluttering up my linen closet right now.

Here’s the bottom once the whole thing was stuffed and poof-ified:

There was extra fabric on top where the hairband was holding it shut, so I just flared it out, and I have to say, it’s pretty adorable. It’s also very stable and solid. I think I stuffed an extra towel into the center of the poof once the blanket was in to make it more solid.

It came out super cute, and now 4 things that were just sitting around are being useful! Cause that’s how I roll.

May 7, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Arts and Crafts. 5 comments.

Dog Rattles

I love my dog, but sometimes he just will not shut up. I swear and scream at him, but it’s not much of a deterent. I don’t know if he thinks I’m barking too, or what, but it’s driving me nuts. I got this idea from a friend who paid real money for a dog obedience class. The class didn’t do crap for that dog, (who later stole an entire loaf of bread and stuffed it in the couch cushions). They did make these rattles to stop the dog from doing bad things, and I’m hoping they’ll work for my darling angel. You will need an empty, rinsed soda can, some gravel, and some duct tape. 

Put a little bit of gravel in the can, and test shake to see if you like the sound. Too much gravel can muffle the sound. Once you have enough in there, rotate the coke tab to cover the opening. This keeps the gravel from sticking to the tape, and gives the tape support.

Put a small piece of tape over the top of the can to seal it. Shake it around and see how it sounds, and how your dog reacts.

I’m really hoping these can train Flapjack not to bark so much. I have tried putting him outside, putting him in his crate, yelling at him, tapping him on the nose, grabbing his scruff, and soothing and petting him, but nothing seems to work. It might be a squirt bottle next, if these don’t work.

UPDATE: So far, these are working great. One sharp, quick shake is enough to shut him up pretty quickly. He has had a bad habit of barking for five minutes solid at one particular person, and this startles him into shutting up. We’ve been using them for a few weeks, and they are still effective, so I’m pretty happy.

May 5, 2012. Tags: , , , . Arts and Crafts, House Stuff. 2 comments.

May the Fourth

Happy National Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you.

May 4, 2012. Tags: , , . Random typing. Leave a comment.

DIY Body Pillow Case

Back in college is when I really started getting crafty. I made my own purse, made some dorm decorations, and made my own body pillow cover. That body pillow cover finally gave out after lasting ten three years. My beautiful stitches stayed in place; the fabric itself gave out. I had hand sewn the whole thing, and Mi Madre thought I had machine sewn it, that’s how awesome I am.

I decided it was time to make a new cover, and in fact I made two, so one could go through the wash. I also made them using two different methods, because I’m awesome, and that’s the kind of crafting that keeps you on the edge of your seat! The first one is just plain old fabric sewn together. Maybe “plain” is not the right word for this fabric. It is faux quilt fabric from probably the 70’s that I found at a thrift store years ago. I have hoarded it, and used it periodically, but this is the biggest piece I’ve used so far. This piece is a yard wide, and I just laid the pillow down on top to get the length.

I then hemmed one of the short sides to be the open end of the pillow case.

Next, I folded the fabric in half, inside out, and pinned along the back end and long side, a couple inches from the pillow. You want the pillow case to be snug enough to stay on the pillow, but easy to slide on and off.   

I ran it through my magical sewing machine, and BAM! Look at that crazy fabric! It’s so amazing, and yet terrible!

So, pillow case #2 is MUCH tamer. For this, I’m using 2 normal pillow cases. This is a great way to do this, because you can easily match your existing bed sheets, if that’s a concern of yours. If you can see the picture above these words, and the one below, you can tell that is OBVIOUSLY not a priority of mine.

I decided to have the open ends of these pillow cases both facing outward. First, I used my trusty seam ripper to open up the short end of both pillow cases.

Now here’s the tricky part: I turned one inside out, and left the other rightside out, then stuffed one inside the other so that rightsides were against each other, and the insides were both showing. The one that is rightside out goes inside the inside-out one. lined up the long seams on the pillow cases first, then the open seams I had just made. I then pinned it to death.

This picture shows the two “right” sides of the fabric touching each other.

And this is after I had pinned it all the way around the circle.

I then did a running stitch, by hand, all the way around. After that, I turned the whole thing right-side out, to make sure everything had worked as I planned, then turned it inside out and sewed one end shut.

I then turned the whole thing back rightside-out, and put it on the pillow. Fabulous!

This is a great way to use extra pillow cases you might have, like I obviously did. The hand-sewn one took a little longer, maybe a total of 45 minutes, and the first one took maybe 30 minutes. These are both great projects for someone beginning to learn to sew, or learning a sewing machine for the first time.


May 3, 2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts. 2 comments.

Why I’m an Awesome Friend

Cause I make stuff like this, then put it on your Facebook.


May 1, 2012. Tags: , , . Arts and Crafts, Random typing. 1 comment.