Category Archives: Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day

Smoke and Spoons

Among the many fine qualities my kids possess is the ability to remember my random “Gee, that would be cool”s  and translate them into a Christmas present. I was chewing the fat with John much earlier this year and said “Gee, I think woodburning might be cool.” The UPS man delivered a big box a few days before Christmas, and there it was, “With love from Honor and John.” Included was “Pyrography Workbook,” which tells me everything I need to know to get started.  The hundreds of glossy examples of the pyrographer’s art are pretty darn intimidating, showing as they do photographically realistic wolves, owls, elephants and lions. I never knew that nature study was why I wanted a woodburning kit. It isn’t, and that’s not just sour grapes because I know I’ll never achieve those artists’ virtuosity.I’m humbled: woodburning is hard.

It’ll be awhile until my technique is good enough to earn a Cub Scout merit badge, let alone burn a rearing stallion onto a block of walnut, but hey, I like the learning part. The toughest part is finding untreated, unvarnished wood. But as my intention all along had been to play around decorating humble household items, I found a good bulk price in wooden spoons. Not any wooden spoons: wooden spoons with flat handles. Here’s my first attempt, and it’s OK to laugh:

spoon1

 

 

 

 

I had fun! I didn’t burn myself or anything other than the spoon. The kitchen smelled like summer camp. I know I should learn something practical, like plumbing or car maintenance — you know, something home – related but actually useful. But what I’m really contemplating is a run to  Ikea to see if they carry untreated wooden hangers.

I promise not to take up lanyard braiding. Well, maybe.

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Home, Woodburning

Apron of the Day: Clothespin Edition

Yes, my friends, I’m still turning out aprons as if they represent a way of life, The Path, an income stream, or a sensible way for a Bluestocking to spend her declining years. None of these choices make sense.

I sew aprons mostly because they’re a useful way to display great printed fabric and amusing trim.  I mostly make reversible aprons because they afford me the chance to feature two fabrics, and because I can avoid using my least favorite sewing supply: seam binding. No matter how careful I am when I baste or pin it to the fabric’s edge, I always come to tears.

This model, new to me, features seam binding. Next time I’ll use it only to edge the pocket, not to bind the sides or hem.

Gather around, children. Once upon a time there was no such thing as a clothes dryer. People strung a long cord in the back card, and hung the wet clothes to dry on it using  a small instrument called a clothespin. A big load of wash would require scores of clothespins.

The clothespin apron features a pocket to contain them. A big pocket, almost the size it the front of the apron. This one is big enough to hold a cookbook, glasses, cell phone and a two month old apronaproninfant.

 

 

 

 

 

Apologies to Loulander fans: The full-length photograph I took of him is so dark and dismal that I’ll skip it this time round.

3 Comments

Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Needlework, Sewing

Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day: Sleeping Gloves

My hands are a gnarly dry mess. My thumbs could sand 2X4s, my knuckles are cracked and I’m shedding dry skin like like cats shed hair in June. Don Giovanni would never sing “La ci darem la mano” to me.

Which made me rustle through my lingerie drawers for my sleeping gloves. You know, the ones I bought from The Vermont Country Store in, like, 1979. I didn’t find a single glove and I’m cross.

I know gloves have gone the way of MS DOS, but these gloves were special in a pure Vermonty way. Wrist length, white cotton. You’d slather your hands with the unguent of choice, slip on the gloves, and awake, after three faithful days, to hands worthy to be kissed by an Archduke.

I Googled about and discovered the The Vermont Country Store still carries them, at about three times what I spent back in the day. I’m going to close my eyes, click , and order three more pairs.

Go here:

http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/store/jump/productDetail/Health_&_Beauty/Health_&_Beauty/100spPerc_Cotton_Knit_Sleeping_Gloves_(Set_of_3_Pairs)/59951

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Site of the Day, Twenty bucks

It’s a Corker!

I’ll just say it flat out: I Iove screw top wine bottles. No corkscrew? No problem. No wine stopper? No problem. Expense to have your cellar full of decades old Romanee-Conti  recorked every fifteen years or so? By some French artisan you’ve flow in first class on Air France? Zero.

Not that we have such a swanky cellar — in fact you’ll be lucky to find three bottles lurking around in various levels of fullness. But geez, trying to recork a bottle is such a pain in it! It doesn’t matter how hard I force. Chipping away at a cork with a pairing knife simply ensures that I’ll need to use a tea strainer to remove chips when when I pour the next glass.I’ve never dared lay a recorked bottle on its side in the fridge, for fear of dribbling onto the english muffins.

A screw top bottle fixes all that. Problem is: where I live the selection of drinkable wine that come with a screw top bottle fits on a space at the liquor store the size of a postcard. This wasn’t true in Canada — all through January the Liquor Control Board of Ontario supplied me with very drinkable plonk in recloseable bottles.

Thank heavens I returned home to this gadget, yet another cool thingie my daughter introduced me to last time I was in LA. I picked up three @ $1.95 apiece at Surfas in Culver City. I stole the pic from the Crate and Barrel site because it seems my camera has gone walkies. (Yes, C&B sells it for a buck ninety five too.)

Nuts, I can’ t upload the photo so check out the link:

http://www.crateandbarrel.com/dining-and-entertaining/bar-accessories/wine-bottle-stopper/s268704#reviews

And read the glowing reviews! I believe they’re all five stars. I give it six stars — talk about cheap and cheerful!

2 Comments

Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Drink, Home, How Cool is That?

The Stocking: That’s Christmas Cheap and Cheerful

Opening the stocking in front of the fireplace on Christmas morning is the platonic ideal of Cheap and Cheerful. The fireplace is optional, of course, and my mother never made a Martha-ish ideal of hanging stockings as decorations – in fact they were actual socks, wool – one sized for my father and recycled into his wardrobe after the holidays. As we got older, my booty was stuffed into a pair of black tights and my brother’s into a pair of his own wool socks: two stockings, why not?

I can remember the invariables of every stocking of my childhood. The wide top bit might hold a copy of “Seventeen” and Yardley Glimmrick eyeliner – they were the variables, changing with every year and every interest. For Ian, it might have been hockey cards and licorice, for my little sisters, skipping ropes and headbands. That was the changeable top layer.

Here’s the never-changing bottom layer, from the toe up: a quarter, wrapped in tissue paper. (A quarter was serious currency for a kid in the early sixties. ) A mandarin orange, which was a piece of Christmas exotica back in the day in Quebec. Then there was the awesome orange: the foil-wrapped Droste chocolate orange that fell into segments when you tapped it on a tabletop. As an enormous fan of “Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates” that Dutch chocolate orange put a silver stroke into my skating when we tried out our Christmas skates in subzero weather on Boxing Day.

Of course there was a big, I mean a foot-long, http://www.laurasecord.ca/ candy cane hanging over the lip of the Xmas Sox.

When my daughter was a girl the top-of-the-stocking might have included the new Beverley Cleary, a pair of earrings, or a Burt’s Bees lip gloss. The toe of the stocking was frozen in time: a quarter wrapped in tissue paper, a mandarin orange, a Droste orange, available from Walgreens or TJMaxx — the big old candy cane came from Fanny May.

A stocking may not be quite as cheap as it was when Honor was a nymph, let alone when I was a bookworm, but, adjusted for inflation it can be kept Cheap and Cheerful. Resist the sweet impulse to slip a blue Tiffany box under the copy of “Vanity Fair.”  The Christmas stocking top layer should be personal and, well, cheap.

If I still hung up a stocking, here’s what I wish Santa would grok. A cheap fun pencil sharpener. Two soft pencils. The ab fab Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes, worthy of its own blog post. Some fruit jellies in a tiny box.

But never forget the toe: don’t wrap up a dollar coin – a quarter is fine. Many firms make better chocolate than Droste, and you can send me a box for my birthday, but not on Christmas Day. And the fragrance, pressed against the Christmas morning nose, of the mandarin orange and the candy cane, is fifty cents worth of cheerful.

4 Comments

Filed under Born in Chicago, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, History, Holidays

Apron(s) of the Day (Week)

Hoo boy, what a week! We’ve got a new roof and new soffits and fascia, so I can now pull into my driveway without feeling as if I’ve been transplanted into a Steinbeck novel. (The Polish gentleman who did the installation didn’t kiss my hand, as Polish gentlemen of a certain age almost always do, but he bowed low over it instead of shaking it. It, no kidding, made me feel like a princess, for the first time in a few years — the last time a Polish gentleman kissed my hand.)

My right index finger met the spinning blades of an immersion blender; pure carelessness on my part. (It could have been much worse. Much worse.)

And I cranked those holiday aprons! I tried a time and motion study, an apron assembly line, to see it I could speed up production. One apron takes me a day to make, which includes doing laundry, checking Facebook, watching Jeopardy, running errands, reading and cooking. I wondered if I cut out several aprons, then trimmed all the pockets in one step, sewed all the neck straps in another step, and assembled the aprons one after one I might shave some time off the process.

Detroit methods don’t work. I made five and a half aprons in five and a half days, and I was bored. I missed the satisfaction of having a finished product to admire during cocktail hour, and I didn’t get as attached to any particular product as I always do. I’ll be back to artisanal, not assembly line aprons.

Technical issues aside, I think these are swell aprons!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a closeup of the print, which I love:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the Hallowe’en/Thanksgiving side, modeled by the lovely Christina Simpson, since I’ve known, no kidding, since she was a babe in arms. Baby, look at her now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the fabric. To me it whispers farmhouse kitchens, candy corn and a big bird in the oven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s the same fabric I used on the reverse of this Christmas beauty — it might be my favorite:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean, how could I resist a yard of this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a shot of the other fall holiday print. It or “candy corn”  was the reverse of most of the holiday aprons. Like this one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a sad day at the Kenmore — I used up the last of my super-duper-pooper jumbo rickrack. The prezzies have a sort of mid-century vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll find the punkins backing up this oh-so-Christmassy print.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are Dale Jr. and his lovely sister modelling the apron and a half. Dale looks as if he’s wearing a bib, but it’s actually a tot-sized apron. The fabrics are both red, but this side could be worn any season of the year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, youth and beauty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whew! I need a computer that uploads pix faster for posts like this. Needless to say, they’re for sale, and I have enough yardage of most of the fabrics to construct a custom item for you.

Time to don an apron and rustle up dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Home, Reversible Aprons, Site of the Day

Object of the Day: Tisket! Taskit! Check Out My New Basket

Some goofball once said something like: “Pleasure postponed is pleasure doubled.” I’m not all about instant gratification; that two day UPS hang time is about perfect. The fine folks at L L Bean backordered my bike basket for a friggin’ month and a half.  Shipping, as always, was free.

Oh, I love it. I regret that I can’t photo style it with a baguette and a bunch of bluebells — my package of English muffins and bouquet of rogue goldenrod doesn’t hit that hip lady in Amsterdam vibe. Or the Miss Marple vibe. Or the wife of an investment banker in Nantucket vibe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thirty bucks isn’t too much to pay (free shipping!) for a rich fantasy life and a vehicle in which I can return library books, is it? It’s so much prettier than the woven  pink plastic woven dealio that carried my textbooks home from high school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love its retro convergence with my air horn. I love that it attaches to the handlebars with doll-sized leather belts : no screwdriver required. I love that I can remove it in a snap, and it’ll become my farmer’s market shopping bag.

Mostly I love that I’ve constructed the bike of my dreams. No gears. A comfortable saddle. The ability to sit up straight and watch the world, not the road. Serious exercise for legs and butt.  A Keystone Cop kinda air horn. And a basket I’ll take to TJ’s and load up with flowers, wine, and cheap snack food.

4 Comments

Filed under Body, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, On the Street Where I Live, Worth it anyway