Category Archives: Ten bucks or fewer

Don’t Worry Baby — It’ll be Fun Fun Fun

So, it’s in the high forties in the ‘Ville, I’m in a creative slump and I miss California. The Rx was lying there, unjacketed, slipping around on our tower of cds.

The Best of the Beach Boys. Oh man, I was fourteen again, frugging in the basement rec room of our house in Trois-Rivieres Quebec. I’d never heard of a girl named Rhonda — my friend’s names ran to Elizabeth, Joanne, Kathy and Debbie. I liked my school fine, but being true to it was an alien concept. I’d swum only in fresh water, never seen a surfboard except on a Beach Boys album cover, and “Tach it up, tach it up, Buddy gonna shut you down,” might as well have been Finnish.

It was mysterious sunshine, a teenager existence I couldn’t imagine. (I did realize they’d ripped off Chuck Berry, big time.) I totally got “In My Room.”

When I got to college the Beach Boys dropped acid  in quantities that made my two terrifying trips look like two grains of sand on Manhattan Beach. The upside: “Sloop John B” and “Good Vibrations,” and that’s a huge upside. The downside is that Brian Wilson went nuts.

When my daughter moved to Los Angeles I understood at last that blissed-out, sunny, surfy SoCal car-driven culture. I understood the close harmony singing. “Surfin Safari” made sense. So did “Little Old Lady from Pasadena.”

And, oh yes, “Good Vibrations.”

So, the cold and grey has disappeared and I’m grooving to “Dance, Dance Dance” as I type this. The Beach Boys are the sonic equivalent to those bright lights that fight SAD in dark northern climes. So bright, so happy, so about dancing and surfing and driving fast. I’m not up to all of this stuff, especially the driving, but the sunshine, the surf, the heroes and villains are making me hear a V-8 purr and smell salt water and feel the clouds lift. The Beach Boys are aural Prozac, irresistible, the remedy for Celtic genes. Cheap sunshine.My new cure (and old cure) for the grim and grey. If only everything was so simple. Wouldn’t it be nice?


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Filed under Body, History, Into the Mystic, Music, Ten bucks or fewer, The 'Ville, Uncategorized

Object of the Day: ZBT Dance Card, 1929

Sometimes objects yell at me, when I’m strolling through an “antique” mall. I don’t know why I handed over ten bucks for this Zeta Beta Tau celluloid covered dance card from a  ZBT Spring dance from 1929. ZBT is interesting in itself: the first major Jewish frat.

I’m guessing this was a chapter at University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The programme:

The menu, and love that 1929 vibe:

I’ll have to do some checking on Green Peas a la Greene. What I love is this is a dance cards for guys! This fella didn’t do too bad.


These kids might have been dancing the Charleston., overseen by the chaperones:

What random objects can suggest! The Jewish youth and beauty at U Wisconsin, 1929, Chicken a la Maryland, frat lads plotting their dance moves. This is such a strange, personal piece of history. I doubt it would bring more than a buck on Ebay but I don’t give a care. I’m thinking about the flapper dresses, the band, and Madison in May.

Potatoes au Greenwich? Who knows?


Filed under Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, Ten bucks or fewer

Men in Aprons

I’ve been working on two apron commissions. I like saying commissions. It sounds as if Lorenzo di Medici had called me on my cell: “I want my portrait on one side and pale lavender chintz on the other.” Janice and Debra, I hope to get yours in the mail tomorrow, and although I’ll take snaps before I send them, I won’t post the pictures until you get them. Kim, I’m assembling your fabric. Next week, Babe.

But here are a few pix of two of my favorite men, in previously unpublished photos. When I see the brilliant cleanliness of Lloyd’s kitchen, I’m surprised he didn’t run screaming from mine.

Here’s the tender side, wrought from fabric left over from what I call “The Lloyd Memorial Guest Rooms Curtains.”

Thanks, Lloyd, for sending me the pix displaying  your apron and the Pacific Northwest.

Here’s the internet debut of a reversible I’ve made only once before, and Honor bought it as a Christmas present for a friend who’s not so much a cook as a crafter. It does have that smock vibe, and it’s no strings — there’s a cunning flap (closed with Velco) that can be adjusted to fit most. I apologize for the pictures — Lou Zoolander  was impatient and I could barely snap off a shot, let alone do some professional styling. He kept wailing: “My ice cubes are melting! Hurry!”

He stepped towards me as I was snapping — hence half his head is missing.

Back detail: it would look better had he given me time to adjust the band.

I could have made full length Lloyd Memorial Guest Room Curtains!

I like this pattern a lot, and might adapt and dabble further with the design. It wouldn’t work as well for men as for women. but it’s plain enough to inspire lots of ornamentation ideas.

I love a man in an apron, and wish I could find, in my madly disorganized Picassa files, a couple of shots of my buddy Dean in his cupcakes and skulls. Tomorrow I’ll write about something cheap and high-minded — John Milton?

I think not.


Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Needlework, Ten bucks or fewer

Apron of the Day: Also, Swat and Sweat

These are my worst-ever photos of an apron I’m very happy with. The color balance makes the background color of  the Christmas fabric look blue, when it’s a deep sprucey green. The Harvest festival/Hallowe’en/Thanksgiving side was fun to make, but hard to shoot.

Pourquoi? Because of the damn mosquitoes! The shoot was hurried because even in two minutes, we each flopped into the kitchen with between 8-14 bites apiece. The local NPR station ran a short bit tonight about how this might be the worst infestation of skitters in Chicago history The thing is: in many years, here in the burbs, the nibbling and gnashing begins in the evening. This summer those babies are biting at six am. What with the hottest summer in recorded memory and the bugs, I’m getting cabin fever in August!

I kind of love the gold rickrack trim on the pockets:

The verso:

The closeup:

Ok, I’m going to try to assemble some Cheap/Cheerful takes on today.

  1. A New Yorker in the mailbox. At 26 bucks a year that subscription might be the ultimate C&C deal. Loved the piece on Agatha Christie and the “Shouts and Murmurs” about Alex Trebek would have made me LOL if my hair hadn’t been plastered via sweat on my skull.
  2. My daughter and son-in-law arrived in Toronto with press credentials to the Rogers Cup. She’ll be able to attend the pressers and ask Federer and Nadal questions face to face. He’ll be mingling with the press photographers, shooting with that Nikon of his that is worth the down payment on a house in, say, Detroit.
  3. A pest control door to door salesman knocked and we could tell him that in this singular space in time we are pest-free.
  4. I have a Dove Bar in the fridge for later  consumption while I watch meteor showers, mosquitoes willing.


Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Food, Free, Needlework, Ten bucks or fewer

Apron of the Day and Couple of Good Deals

I spent more time than strictly necessary on this apron. You see, I had a pad of graph paper on the coffee table, a soft pencil, and a glass of cold tonic water handy. (Plain tonic water I drink like soda because it’s refreshing but not sweet, like ginger ale. True, it’s improved by gin, but not at 10:30 am.) I doodled around, blocking out cross stitch patterns for the heck of it, and discovered i’d come up with a heart. Then I realized I had some red gingham lurking around and decided to trim an apron pocket with some embroidery.

Here’s the Girl Side. The smaller hearts aren’t cross stitch, they’re composed of what I call Union Jack Stitch, because the of the vertical and diagonal crosses. I cut a larger heart pattern from a folded piece of paper — remember making Valentines in grade two? –and worked it with straight stitch and cross stitch.

I think it’s value added and the process had the advantage of calming any cross stitch jones indefinitely.

Here’s the masculine reverse — yes it’s a yin/yang modello.

Perhaps my all-time fave masculine print: beer, barley and bottle caps.

In the three minutes it took to dress my model, do his hair and makeup, and shoot, I was on the wrong end of eight mosquito fannies. With all the rain and  heat of the last week it’s tough to walk to the mailbox or pull a few weeds, even early in the day. In my thirty-odd years in Chicagoland I’ve never felt the fury of the mosquito as I have this week. Last night I fantasized about mosquito netting, like some Somerset Maugham heroine.

I bought a few yards from a couple of years ago and they attack my inbox weekly. If you’re as addicted to fabric as I am, I can recommend them. Free shipping over $35, and who in our sisterhood has ever spent less than $35? A tremendous selection, and  between now and August 16th, they’re taking off an additional 30% off their sale cotton prints.

While I was finishing  topstitching  the apron, Lou was out hunting and gathering for dinner. I’ve said forever that I find the freshest, cheapest food in stores where the rest of the shoppers look nothing like me. Lou headed  a few miles up the road to the  Carnicerias Jimenez, and here’s a copy of the receipt:

That 4.83 is for two and a half pounds of  USDA Choice skirt steak. That translates to five meals for two people –you’ll deduce from the receipt that we’re cooking fajitas tonight. But I love my skirt steak so many other ways (like a Berghoff Beef Salad) that the flat strip of beef will be transmogrified into Beef Dishes From Around the World.

Cheap. And mucho cheerful.


Filed under Apron of the Day, Food, Home, Needlework, Ten bucks or fewer

Japanese Washi Tape — the Masking Tape of my Dreams

Not that I’m going to use it to mask around the window panes next time I can bring myself to tackle a big household painting project. Nor can I imagine that a Japanese matron would use it for any such dreary purpose.

I don’t know where I discovered washi tape — and old Martha Stewart Living, perhaps? I quivered with desire. That tape haunted my days and kept me awake at night: I needed some more than I needed a new haircut. (Which I did.)

Washi tape is patterned masking tape. God, the Japanese are brilliant at this kind of thing — the ordinary made cute.

This stack of floral tape set me back about eight bucks. To give you a better idea of the beauty, fun and variety of washi tapes, spend awhile at, Here: Why didn’t I know about washi tape? Why don’t I have an ecommerce web site that will give me a whiz of an old age while I sell washi tape?

This stuff really sticks, but it peels back easily enough so that it can be repositioned or moved. If I were a scrapbooker, which I’m not, , I’m surer than an aisle at Michael’s that it would be fab and fun. I framed a picture with it as an example for this blog, and stuck down samples of the other colors just for fun.

Well, as all of you know, the silly small things make me cheerful.


Filed under Art, Cool Japanese Stuff, How Cool is That?, Paper, Ten bucks or fewer

Apron of the Day: The Holiday Reversible

I’ve played around with the reversible apron.Sometimes I paired a tradition farmhouse calico with a Japanese print. I’ve used the same print in different colorways,  reversing the color for the pockets and yokes. I’ve made absurdist pockets, big pockets, tiny pockets, pockets trimmed with lace or rickrack or fabric yoyos. And any of you who follow my Parade of Aprons know how much fun I’ve been having with my yin/yang aprons, especially finding fabric for The Guy Side.

Last week  I thought about another way to feature the duality of the reversible apron. Although I’ve never before bought any, I can’t help but notice how much Christmas yardage there is in the shops and online. Hmmm. Why not a Holiday apron, one side suitable for  Christmas  and the other for Thanksgiving? In the case of this model it could triple for Hallowe’en.

This is the Christmas side , not too Christmassy from a distance.  The blue background and subtle print could give it a lifetime past Epiphany.

Here’s the Thanksgiving/Hallowe’en side. Please note the jumbo green rickrack on the pockets. Willow’s discovered there’s a photo shoot happening.

Don’t these pumpkins pop?

So what do you think? Is this Holiday idea going anywhere? I’m already considering the New Year’s edition — not practical, not reversible. Polish/Ukrainian “Ball Aprons,” short, flirty and saucy.


Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Needlework, Ten bucks or fewer