Monday, February 28, 2011

Currently Coveting: More Colored Tights

Last year I ordered several pairs of colored tights from We Love Colors after reading about them online.  I love the colors I got (lilac, ivory, medium blue) and now wish I had even more.  Cue photos:

From left to right: maroon, light pink, gold, olive green.
I prefer the nylon/lycra mix tights, as they're sturdier and are opaque, whereas some tights are thin enough your skin tone shows through. I never really realized how much fun tights are, or how much they can add to an outfit (especially if you have to wear a dress but want a little extra insulation!).  For instance:

Munch just can't be left out anything!

Jacket: 100% genuine lambskin with real fox fur collar, thrifted (Goodwill, $7.50).  Dress: thrifted (Goodwill, $2.50).  Tights: We Love Colors. Boots: Kohl's.  Flower: handmade.

This was what I wore to our Valentine's date.  I matched the blue from the tights, one of those homemade ribbon flowers, and the necklace Nate gave me for Christmas.  And after I brought it home, I found out this jacket is worth about $175 on eBay.  Oie.

*This post is simply because I like tights and have had good luck from We Love Colors.  They did not sponsor this post nor am I receiving compensation of any kind.  Just FYI.*

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweater Sale!

It's finally up and running!  After bringing back two giant bags full of fine wool items for upcycling, a lot of typing and picture taking, I got most of the lot listed online at Artsfire!  There's three main groups listed: fine merino wool (very soft, usually thin as compared to the usual thick woolen sweater), lambswool, and wool.  There are a few angora sweaters and shetland wool mixed in.  A fair number are in perfect condition and from popular brands like J. Crew, GAP, and Banana Republic.
Please take a moment and check it out if you're at all interested in upcycling sweaters for craft projects.  I do combine shipping and any order of 4 or more sweaters gets a flat shipping rate.

Also, if you can help pass the word, I'd really appreciate it.  This is an experiment for me and I put a fixed investment to see how round one goes.  As a graduate student, earning even $100 is a big deal.  That's a lot of groceries!

So please, send it on, share it around, and pass the word.  And if anyone needs a particular type of item I can always keep my eyes peeled.  I have found a cashmere sweater about once every other trip, which I think is pretty good!
The wool sweaters.

The super fine merino wool sweaters.

The lambswool sweaters.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Since I'm still working on getting sweaters listed from my recent Goodwill haul, I'll have to settle for a cute outfit photo instead.  Nate has determined he really likes this dress - it doesn't even need any accessories!

Dress: Thrifted, Plato's Closet ($7). Purse: Thrifted, Goodwill ($1).

And a big thank you goes out to Chelsey and Katie who said "Yes, get the dress, it looks great on you!" as I am nervous in pink.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let Go

Geek, meet Star Wars: from

Let Go
After years of trying various methods, I broke this habit by pitting my impatience against my laziness. I decoupled the action and the neurological reward by setting up a simple 30-second delay I had to wait through, in which I couldn't do anything else, before any new page or chat client would load (and only allowed one to run at once). The urge to check all those sites magically vanished--and my 'productive' computer use was unaffected.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Opinion: stuffed sheep

I want to make a stuffed sheep for a good friend, and I already got some of the fake sheepskin/shearling by buying a big sweater made of the stuff from Goodwill for $0.15.  It's a dark burgandy red, which is kinda different, but I think it will be fun.  I also have a dark brown.

Here's where your help comes in.  Does anyone have an opinion on what kind of style might be better?  Easier?  Here's a bunch of sheep pics I grabbed from the internet.  I don't have any pattern, and will probably be freehanding it, unless someone has a stuffed sheep pattern laying around.  (Really? Doesn't everyone?)

As you can see, some are more cartoonsih, while others are more lifelike.  Things you like?  Don't like?  Recommendations?  Thanks in advance.

p.s. At my Goodwill extravaganza I picked up over 40 items for crafting/selling.  If you or anyone you know wants to upcycle sweaters I have a ton of really nice merino wool, lambswool, a few angora, and one Shetland wool sweater.  Post and pics coming soon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I didn't get this posted on Saturday because for most of the day we didn't have power.  And by most of the day, I mean from at least 9am to some time after dinner.  Since we live in the basement, this made it hard to even find a pair of socks.  I also had it hit home how dependent we are on electricity: no hot water, no heat, no way to cook food (we had to go out for dinner), couldn't microwave the heatable bean bags, no internet, no lights to read a book, couldn't watch a movie or turn on my sewing machine, do my laundry or my taxes, which were all on my list of things to do this weekend.

However, for your viewing pleasure I'm uploading this outfit pic.  Nate loved how the brown suede jacket matched my boots. The jacket is formal enough to wear for sponsor dinners, but informal enough to just wear to out to eat or to the lab; I love it!

Necklace: handmade, gift. Dress: thrifted (NWT), Goodwill ($5).  Jacket: Kohl's. Tights: thrifted, Plato's Closet ($2). Boots: thrifted, Plato's Closet ($7).
Yup, there's exactly one thing there I bought from an actual retail store.  And I bought it on sale with a gift card, lol.  It was so worth it, as an item like that is hard to get second-hand, it looks SO good, and I've gotten a ton of use out of it.  Definitely worth the money.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure: Your Life

I am a very firm believer that each person has a lot of control over their life based on the choices they make and their reactions to situations they find themselves in.  At some point, you have to step up and make your own decision, your own choice, on the overall path of your life.  And I'm not talking about a job or career, I'm talking about WHO YOU ARE.

You can choose to be happy or choose to be angry.  This doesn't mean you can't sometimes be angry or sad or happy, but predominately it is YOUR CHOICE.  Blaming others or insisting it's out of your control may feel better than admitting you made a mistake, but it won't fix anything.  It won't make the future any brighter.

Perhaps an example?  Partially drawn from my experiences, partly made up, here's one.  You and your significant other have a date planned, a day to spend together to just relax, have fun, go out, and share your love.  You've been looking forward to it for a week.

Then you find out that the s.o.'s best friend (who you hate) referred to the date as "a day in Alcatraz with that witch/bastard."  Anger here is understandable, but how do you react outwardly?  Do you fight with your s.o. over what the friend said?  Do you bottle up your anger and seethe at the thought of this "friend" trying to sabotage your relationship?  Do you contact the friend you hate and chew him out?  Do you approach your s.o. and explain what you heard, that you're hurt by it, and you want to know his/her feelings on it?

And what happens if the next day the friend has some life emergency and your date gets canceled?  Make your choice here.  You can choose to strain your relationship with your s.o. over this.  You can make an ultimatum to choose the friend or you.  Or you can find a way to express unhappiness without blaming your s.o. for the actions of the friend.

To a lesser extent, this happens every day.  Someone cuts you off in traffic, the grocery store was out of your favorite fruit, and you tripped and skinned your knee.  Do you come home and take it out on those you love?  Do you yell at your friend because your temper is so short?  Do you ask to just be left alone for 15 minutes to read or cuddle your pets or take a jog to unwind?

These things make a difference EVERY DAY.  Your friends will see how you respond and it will define how you are perceived.  Are you an angry person?  Always running in panic mode?  Making jokes about everything?  Helping everyone so much you get over busy and flustered?  Or are you willing to leave baggage at the door to have a good evening with your s.o., no matter what has happened?

Teach this to your kids.  It's a coping mechanism, and it's a life skill.  It's the difference between being immature (it's all HIS fault!) to taking personal responsibility and improving yourself.  It's the difference between being someone who's easy to befriend, and someone who can find themselves bitter and blaming the world.  My fiance works every day with children who are struggling with this.  Even if they know the 'right' choice, they take the easy way out rather than take responsibility for their actions, be that hitting another kid or breaking their pencil.

This post inspired by: a friend who is no longer, and the blog post that reminded me of her.

Is it February or May?

As another transplanted Wisconsinite pointed out, having the temperatures top freezing in February is usually a minor miracle in and of itself.  However, this is what the weather says in PA for me right now.
Weather for Feb. 17, 2011 in PA
Anyone else thinking of the May snowstorms that aren't totally unexpected back home?

I wish I could wear a nice spring top, maybe a skirt or shorts, and a spring/fall jacket.  It would really cheer me up to be able to enjoy this weather.  Instead, I'm still wearing full winter gear for mopeding home well after dark (when the temperature is most assuredly not a balmy 60).  I'm also stuck inside all day analyzing data.

Grad school celebration occurs when you have papers to read and can thus take them outside.

I hope everyone else is enjoying this weather!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Check it out... new and improved, actually nice looking, good quality 100% cashmere scarf!  Made from the sleeves of a cashmere sweater, this scarf is soft and colorful.  I can actually see someone paying for this.  In all likelihood though, it's going to a friend.

I really want to make more of these.  Anyone have requests, or know someone in need?  I'd feel silly owning 20+ scarves just for myself.

*dreams of get rich quick while-in-grad-school schemes, and by that I mean earning $100*

Washing machine cat

Pet enthusiasts, lynch me not!  I didn't really put him in the washer, but poor Munch is still quite soaked and bedraggled.  He's been very smelly lately and he needed a bath something fierce.  As this was my first time bathing a cat, I think it went pretty well... I'm only bleeding in about half a dozen places instead of two dozen.  He also came up with the bright idea since he couldn't find the exit, there must be an exit by CLIMBING UP MY BODY.  Thanks Munch.  By the way, your claws are getting trimmed ASAP.


He's not looking his best, and he wasn't cooperating with the camera. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

I know a lot of people don't like V-day, but the fiance and I see it as just an excuse to go out for a nice dinner.  (Also, this is the only time of year to get SweetTart Hearts (TM) in stores.  Yum!)  We went out on Sunday to the local Japanese/hibachi place and had a great time.  Here we are all dressed up before leaving the house.

I found this black sweater sheath dress at Goodwill; I even paid full price for it!  ($4.99 @ Goodwill that is)  The pin is actually another ribbon flower I made.
Munch just COULDN'T leave my pristine black dress alone, and since this is Munch for Lunch I have to include some gratuitous pictures of the furball, don't I?
My Valentine's Day kiss from Munch.

*pbbbbbt* I don't like you.  Hugs are for kitties only.
 I hope you all enjoyed the weekend!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The zoo expands

Welcome the latest addition to my zoo/menagerie.  The collection of eyeless stuffed animals is expanding, now featuring "Grumble Fish" (TM)!
I had a terrible migraine and just wanted something bright and colorful to sew, so I whipped this little guy up.  No pattern (he was supposed to be more clownfish-ish) but the stripes actually lined up alright!  I really liked adding the embroidered details.  The fiance promptly named him the "Grumble Fish" for reasons yet undetermined.  If it makes you feel better, make one of your own, make it swim through the air and alternate burbling noises with shouting "Grumble Fish!  Grumble Fish!"  It's guaranteed to perk up someone's day!


So I made myself an unexpected copycat yesterday.  I was about to post an outfit picture (inspired by Steph's blog) when I went to read my updates, and surprise!  She was wearing a blazer.  In an anti-climactic move I have paired a faux-suede brown blazer that I love with a summer halter top because I just couldn't stand wearing another sweater.  Guess it's not so new, huh?
Blazer: Kohls. Halter top: thrifted ($5). Jeans: thrifted ($5). Necklace: gift from the fiance. Toothbrush: Target.
Courtesy of my fiance, who was kind enough to take this picture as I was on my way to bed. Clearly my best look.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sewing maniac!

So check it out, I have now completed THREE more projects.  This recycled sweater thing is really addicting.  First, I took the sleeves left over from all the pink sweaters that became a quilt, and stitched them together into a very warm scarf.
I trimmed it with a rich purple velveteen salvaged from a $0.29 Goodwill item.  I love the flare at the end of the scarf where the sleeves met the shoulder seam.
Second was the hat: also a recycled sleeve.

It's sewn into the shape of a wizard's hat and bordered with what used to be the sweater's hem.

But what's my favorite?  It's a ladybug!
I made all my friends these microwavable warmers for Christmas and then saw that a bunch of people were selling inferior quality ones on Etsy.  Seriously... corn filler?  And if it gets wet?  Best bet is popcorn, worst is a lot of mold AND popcorn.  These are stuffed with seeds instead of corn, for a very fine filler without any edges or lumps.

Maybe I need to sell these on Etsy, hmmm?  Animal suggestions welcome!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


It's almost done!  Check it out... First is the sweaters post-scissor invasion, the second is after they've all been sewn together and then the backing applied.  The back piece is actually purchased new rather than recycled.  It's a super soft plush fabric I purchased at a deep discount for $7.

So, here's the quilt I made for under $25!  I still have to do a few finishing touches, but I am so proud of myself.  Next up: purple/gray or fall colored quilt!

Grad School video

A friend of mine also in grad school sent me this link.  If you are in grad school, you need to see it.  It's called "Bad Project" and is a parody of Bad Romance by Lady Gaga.  If you're not a Gaga fan, that's fine (I hadn't even heard the original).  This video is still HILARIOUS.

Watch.  Laugh.  Die.  Pass it on.