Monthly Archives: January 2010

Five Seconds, Less than a Cent: The Origami Bookmark

The third largest category in my home library, right behind cookbooks and the Complete Works of Georgette Heyer, is Origami instructionals. This makes sense given that:

1) I’ve never met a piece of paper I didn’t like, except for a bill or a will.

2)I love the elegance of Japanese art and craft.

3) It can be free. At my last job I folded cranes from Excel spreadsheets, florescent pink flyers advertising the upcoming Blood Drive, Post-it notes, wrapping paper from the Secret Santa prezzies, and the sports pages of the Sun-Times. I tacked the cranes to the walls of my cubicle , and before I left  I might not have had a thousand cranes fluttering on the grey fabric walls, but I had a couple of hundred.

4)I find it relaxing, even when I’m baflled by a new model. In fact, when I returned from work I’d take a fifteen minute origami break just to wind down. Folding requires concentration and accuracy.

5)I like to make things.

I should note that I’m no origami ninja: that would be my cousin Kent. I don’t even try to emulate his skill. Check out this 3-D beauty he gave me for Christmas last year:

I don’t aspire to that kind of craft, and that kind of patience.

I can see eyes rolling in the blogosphere. “Maggie’s nuts. An origami bookmark? Isn’t that gilding the subscription card from The New Yorker which would work just as well?” Nope, it wouldn’t. Can that card hold together the pages of your tax return when you’re out of paperclips? (Yeah, that IRS person must have wondered about us last year.) Can that card double as photo corners? Hah!

This model is so simple, so elegant and so cheap that it — honest! — makes me cheerful every time I make one. I hope my instructions and my less than professional pix will inspire you.

Step 1:

This is a 2 inch sqaure of paper, colored side down. Doesn’t get easier than that.

Step 1: Fold up the paper in half on the diagonal.

Step 2: Unfold the top layer only and press the point down to the halfway point on the diagonal.

Step 3: Fold up the right hand colored triangle to form two sides of a square.

Step 4: Repeat Step 3 on the left side. Can you see the little pocket underneath the green flaps?

Step 5: Tuck the green points inside the pocket.

Here’s your bookmark!

(This is a modern model from Master Folder Michael Lafosse, whose brilliant origami animal designs are still difficult for me.)

I’m going to fold me another one. Hmmm…. maybe I should make a corner for every cookbook I own? Nah, better clean the bathroom; not every action on a Saturday can be cheerful. But elbow grease comes free.


Filed under Free, Paper

Cheap, Cheerful and Almost Campari

San Pellegrino Sanbitter is Campari for the broke bartender. It looks like Campari. smells like Campari,and tastes like an (only slightly sweeter Campari. Unlike Campari, it’s slightly fizzy. Sadly, unlike Campari it contains zero alcohol. It’s a bitter, herbal soda pop and I can’t imagine drinking it straight, but diluted with tonic water or even better, Schweppe’s Bitter Lemon (is it even produced today?) I think it would be just the biglietto sipped in a cafe under the Tuscan sun.

I can testify that a splash of this scarlet elixir brightens the taste of a plain ole g and t. The flavor isn’t the only thing it enlivens — the color is molto bella. And I shamefacedly admit that my husband, the rat, slipped it into a faux Negroni and it took me a couple of sips and a good look at his smirky double-dealing face to realize that I’d been had.

BONUS: I think I’d buy Sanbitter for the bottles alone. Oh my gosh, they are cute! I will soon be the proud possessor of ten matching five inch tall bud vases. I’ll have to wait a couple of months for the buds.

A pack of ten 10cl bottles cost five bucks at Angelo Caputo’s in Hanover Park, Illinois. That’s a bargain:if you find it elsewhere it will ring up for a few bucks more.


Filed under Drink, Five bucks or fewer, Uncategorized

Cheap and Cheerful/Swedish Cupcake Papers

“Cheap and Cheerful” is described on some online dictionary as “Brit. informal — costing little but attractive, pleasant or enjoyable.”  When I considered dipping a toe into the vasty waves of blog world I decided that cheap cheer would be my theme, and not just because I’m broke and have Caledonian depressive tendencies. Even when I had a few shekels to rub together and was cheerful as a chipmunk on crack, I’ve been enthralled by the cunning and sunny little things in life. Poached eggs on toast, origami paper, hotel give-away shower caps, rubber duckies, homemade pizza, paperclips, tea towels, matchbooks, grommets, Orangina, calculators with really big buttons, baking powder biscuits . Let me loose in Office Max with five bucks and two hours and my heart will be like a singing bird.

I could go on and on — and I will.

By the way, “Cheap and cheerful” is for sure Brit. colloquial, but what that winsome definition doesn’t say is that every Brit I’ve ever met, from my working class Lancashire-born grandmother to my glamorous buyer (Better Dress, Holt Rendrew) boss, Myrtle Neel, trots out those words with a sneer.For example, Nana might find a neighbor who’d planted out purple petunias and marigolds surrounding a plywood wishing well. She’s sniff: “Cheap and cheerful.” Miss Nell would return from the European couture shows and wail”After seeing those divine Missoni knits, everthing I can find in North America is just so cheap and cheerful!”

I’m trying to think of a North American equivalent — tacky, perhaps? Downmarket? Vulgar? Meretricious? Whatever! I’m a generation away from Old Blighty and I’m going with the non-ironic meaning.

Here’s my cheap and cheerful find of the day, courtesy of the King Arthur catalogue that his the mailbox this afternoon. Striped Swedish cupcake papers in those lovely clear Scandinavian colors. Although I don’t bake more than a dozen cupcakes a year, I’ve always loved those frilly paper cups. I think these Nordic beauties are the apotheosis of cupcake containers. At $6.95 for sixty, this is cheer on the cheap.


Filed under Into the Mystic, Paper, Ten bucks or fewer