Category: Frugality

Meatless/vegan Monday: Spiced lentil soup

It’s been a few weeks since a meatless Monday. I know, I know. How am I ever going to break through into blogging popularity, monetize, and sail off into the land of beautiful people and passive income? The answer is, I’d much rather make everyone wait around for content that I can feel good about, instead of tons of micro-reblogged posts about glitter and 5-minute crafts. Yada yada, let’s get to the lentils!

I’ve been working out a lot lately, for various reasons, including having fewer clients/less workload lately than I have in the past. It’s the first time since going veggie that I have lots of time to really burn calories and build muscle, and I’ve been feeling the lack of animal proteins. So I’ve been turning a lot toward beans. And spinach. And tofu. But mostly beans.

This lentil soup isn’t super flashy, but it’s easy, satisfying, tasty, packs a whopping 18 grams of protein per cup and is fantastic for a cold and gloomy day. Add marbled rye bread for dipping, and it transcends the workhorse soup genre, reaching something magical. Bonus: it’s vegan! I didn’t notice until I was typing up the recipe.

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Miscellaneous tips and tricks for costuming/sewing on a budget

Whenever I’m working on a costume, I think “this is super cheap. I should share it.” And then it doesn’t quite fit into the tutorial, or it’s a weird tributary of eddying thoughts that strays far away from the main flow of the post. So here’s a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up about obtaining materials on the cheap, that hopefully go beyond your standard “go to the thrift store. Thrift. Good job.”

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Refashion Friday: Southwestern jacket

I got this jacket from the Male Compatriot’s mom. It’s a beautiful color, very soft suede, (for more information on why I sometimes use secondhand leather even after converting to vegetarianism, click here) and overall really nice. But the double shawl collar and the waist skirt made it really fussy.

Fussy, fussy.

Fussy, fussy.

Back view

First, I removed the waist skirt, button plackets, and collar. This left it very nice, but incredibly simple. I tried adding back in one of the collars, but it suddenly looked like something a politician in her 50s would wear — polished and upscale, but not what I want right now. It was also much more formal without those button plackets! I thought about just overlapping the front with a button loop, but that created a couple of minor fit issues, and looked even more political.

Much better, but it's still missing something...

Much better, but it’s still missing something…


Instead, I decided to add a silver zipper. Unfortunately, JoAnne’s didn’t have silver separating zippers in exactly the length I needed, so I used gold instead. It worked out well, but I did want silver for the southwestern feel. I chose to hand-pick the zipper because a. I don’t have thread that matches exactly, and I don’t sew with this color enough to justify getting a whole spool, and b. the bottom of the jacket is slightly curved, and I needed the control that hand sewing gave me to make sure things lined up. I considered adding a lace “yoke” at the back and cutting away the leather underneath it for a cutout, but decided it would be too kitschy Southwesty and overdone.

Unfortunately, you can see the white of the zipper. If I were really committed to this refashion, I’d have dyed the zipper before inserting it. But I didn’t.


Boxy and drag lines. Boo. šŸ˜¦


Unzipped is much better. Also, I have blue hair now. And T-Rex hands.


It’s a simple refashion, but it makes a huge difference! I’m not 100% sold on the jacket when it’s zipped up, though; there’s a couple of pull lines (probably because a full 2 inches was removed with the button plackets), and it kind of eliminates my waist. I love it unzipped, though, so I’m calling it a success.

002 Jacket




Fashion Friday: Cloud and a rainbow

Today, the Compatriot gave me a slightly too-big t-shirt. “I don’t like it, but it looks cute on you,” he said. So I put some elastic through the hem to keep it under my butt, and added tights. Then I realized I was basically a storm cloud, so I added silly fluffy white boots (which also kind of pull in the paw print on the shirt). And to complete everything, a rainbow bag — clouds gotta have rainbows.

And then the only picture that really came out was in soft focus. But you get the idea, right? Right? It’s a cute take on a short jersey dress, that floats over curves instead of hugging them and takes away some of the hyper-sexuality of a really short skirt. Plus it’s just damn comfy.


T-shirt: Amazon (~$5). Tights: Target ($4.99). Boots: Gift ($?) Bag: Gift, handmade by my sister


Throw a hoodie on when it gets cold; greyscale layers!

Rethinking Engagement Rings

The first part of most marriages is the proposal. Stands to reason, right? And a crucial part of THAT is the ring. Now, I’m not going to get into a huge, detailed history of engagement rings, but a quick bullet-point list might be helpful for context. Wikipedia goes into a little more depth, though I strongly encourage looking at other articles if you’re really interested in this sort of thing.

Overly simple, snarky rundown:

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2014 Already?

I know, it’s 2 weeks in. But I was traveling on the first, and didn’t have a chance to do a recap/plan for my blog this upcoming year. I feel like I’m supposed to do some kind of announcement with a megaphone or something.

THIS YEAR on THE FIVE Fs! sort of thing.

I have lots of projects and explorations coming up — 2013 wasn’t such a good year for me, being a little bit stagnant and a little bit lost. But 2014 is kicking off with some new clients, some new goals and a ton of ideas for sewing, cooking and pondering life in an anti-craftian sort of way.

Coming up:

Short term:

-Some self-drafted skirt tutorials in the vein of updated hobble skirts

-Some pants tutorials based on styles I saw in San Juan and Berkeley the past few months

-Burning Man/festival costumes galore; now that I’ve been once, I have some great ideas about costumes for myself and the Compatriot

-Leaf/dragonscale cutout jackets. When I wrap my head around how to accomplish this, you’ll see what I mean.

Medium term:

-A foray into shoemaking, with tutorials

-Some ambitious knitting projects; my attention span is short (so short that I originally posted this without finishing this sentence! Oh man.) but I really want to get into some more detail-oriented, delicate work like shawls. Well, shawl. If I finish one, I’ll be hugely impressed with myself.

-Putting together a steampunk costume from sketch concept to finish: I have an Alice’s Tea Party-themed wedding to attend in March of this year, so I’ll be documenting the whole process from sketch to finished project as a sort of project journal for anyone interested in creating elaborate costumes but not sure how. As an added bonus, the venue of a wedding gives me the opportunity for a more modest costume than my usual style.

Long term:

-Speaking of weddings, I got engaged this past week. This doesn’t mean the blog will turn into Brides-R-Us. Quite the contrary; I hope that documenting our planning process will provide a DIY-centered, thoughtful contrast to the Disney-princess-fueled insane wedding bullcrap that dominates Pinterest boards and Netflix suggested lists. A wedding is a celebration and a formalization, a ritual to enter into a new stage of life, not spend-a-thon fuel for a money-hungry industry. All that being said, I’m super excited to design and draft my own dress, and probably something for the Compatriot-fiance as well.

-I also want to start drafting patterns, and offering a freemium plan: download the pattern/use the tutorial for free or a voluntary donation, or buy handmade from me. We’ll see about this, as I am notoriously bad at keeping a tight schedule, and most of my focus has to be on my freelancing clients in 2014.

What do you have on tap for 2014?

Refashion weekend: Wedding LBD

Recently, I went to a wedding in San Jose. It was a wedding in a nice church, so most of my dresses were either way too casual or way too body conscious. (Of course, then I promptly learned that weddings are a place to put on your tightest, shiniest club uniform and your highest heels, and your most makeup, and look for a mate at the reception. Luckily, I’m not single.) Now, I know supposedly black is bad for a wedding. Why? Because some fashion person said so. Or maybe because of funerals. But if the silhouette isn’t somber, I say black is fine; it’s versatile and classic.

When will I learn to take a really good "before" pic?

When will I learn to take a really good “before” pic?

So this dress had a lovely skirt, but it’s all empire-waist and silver, gross, padded-and-tucked top. There’s a way to do this well. Mine looked like I was wearing a fortress out about an inch in front of my actual bust. Maybe the makers were afraid of cannon fire.

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Reversible sweater-mittens, no felting required

Brr! I’m not quite ready to let go of fall, but we’ve had our first snow around here, and it’ll just keep getting colder. I don’t know about you, but I hate having cold hands and feet. It’s borderline panic-attack inducing. So I always have like 8 pairs of mittens and gloves and thick, wooly socks around to keep my digits from freezing right off. Mostly, I make my own. Sometimes I knit, but sometimes I want something a little bit more instant and green. Like recycling an old sweater into mittens!

Google “things to do with an old sweater” and you’ll find lots of simple instructions for hats, scarves, and mittens. Usually, the instructions for mittens go something like this:

Felt the sweater. Felt the heck out of it. Keeeeeep felting, until it’s all crazy felted up. Use like 4 cycles of the washer on hot to felt a single garment. Now trace a mitten shape around your hand, cut two, and sew. Hooray, you have mittens.

Honestly? I don’t really like the feel of felted sweaters against my hands. I also don’t like how much water it wastes to felt something so much. Last winter, I had two small scraps of wool from which to make mittens, and two scraps of a wool-poly blend. My wool scraps were too small to take the shrinkage that goes along with felting, and besides, I like the knit look. The wool-poly blend won’t felt all that well because it’s not 100% wool. (If you’re not familiar with fiber chemistry, wool tends to felt because it’s an animal’s coat. Like how a dog’s hair clumps if it’s never combed. Polyester doesn’t do this.)

Easy fix: just line your mittens. You’ll end up with a reversible mitten that is warm, stretchy, and versatile, without having to bother with felting. Makes it much easier to use what you have on hand, too, rather than trolling thrift stores for wool sweaters that you only need a little bit of fabric from anyway.

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Functional Costuming: DIY Obnoxiously simple vest for costume and casual wear

Vest 2 ways

I realized that I was missing a fairly integral part from my steampunk costumes. I had the corseted bra tops (I know opinions are super mixed on this, but it’s MY steampunk, and I like bra tops!) and the floofy skirts, and the pseudo-corset top and the boots and the fingerless gloves and the parasol and the pocketwatch necklace and the goggles. (Again, I know opinions are super mixed. I like goggles. Somewhere, a steampunk purist is getting a cold chill.)

But no vests!

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Paper Mache Masquerade DIY: Make your own music-themed or creepy doll mask

I’m on a steampunk kick lately! I made a creepy clockwork doll mask that turned wasn’t really festival appropriate, but I’ll use it for a Halloween party or two, hopefully. The basic mask is straightforward paper mache with a couple of twists. Take that mask you made in 2nd grade to a much cooler place.

My version is inspired by a mix of Mirrormask, Orianna (from League of Legends) and other works in similar genres. It’s not supposed to be pretty, persay, but slightly tweaky and off. If you follow the same methods, you could easily make a more traditionally pretty mask; the materials are pretty, which to me is what makes the wonkiness extra striking.

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