Posts Tagged ‘diy’

Great Depression Part II Tip: Make Your Own Clothesline

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

There are not many thing I find more relaxing than watching a clothesline blow in the breeze. Yesterday I set up my own. Four bucks for the line and five for 40 pins at Home Depot. I tied two lines, spaced a foot apart, between the cattle fence and some esoteric white metal clip running along my roofline, then tied the two together at one end to raise the lower line and keep it from dipping. ‘Bout 3pm a hot breeze came in from the south and I sat back in my Adirondack chair with a jug of crappy wine and mellowed out.

Last time I did laundry I went to the warzone of a laundromat up on 7th. It was $1.75 to wash a tiny load, $2 for soap, and about a buck fifty to dry each load. End result was I washed nothing for a ton of money and my stuff came out smelling like hotel sheets. Nowadays I’m washing my own in the bathtub (with shampoo, because it smells great) for whatever four inches of water costs (not a whole lot I’m guessing because my water bill is $20 for three people and a lot of animals monthly.) On good warm days like we’re having they dry in an hour plus change and come out smelling great. Especially jeans. Jeans love a clothesline. Just make sure you hang your jeans high, because heavy denim will sag just about any clothesline.

So, yeah, this was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done but as simple as it is it’s saved me tons of money, improved the view out my bedroom/solarium, and kept me away from the warzone laundromat. Those are all great things in my book. Try it out if you’ve got the space…

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com

Interview: Flowerdrum Bags

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Rina  Matsui-Houghton is a Malaysian-born, Berlin-based handbag designer who focuses on creating beautiful handcrafted bags of unique distinction.

I met Rina a few years ago and was immediately blown away by her drive and passion for creating awesome bags and mini carry-alls, made from vintage fabrics.

Back in 1999 Rina felt that “Malaysia was ready for a unique label with underground roots and the design-ability to be sold internationally.” She started creating hand-embroidered affordable bags, and clutches for the fashion savvy consumer.

The company named Flowerdrum bags (www.flowerdrum-kl.com) was born, and now produces lines in batches of 12. Bags are created using quality fabric from all over the world; they aren’t mass produced, they’re fresh, different and  sport stand apart, clean-cut designs, a must have for any fashionista!

More recently Rina has been focusing on commissioned work, branching out to create custom-made items for her clients. Last year in Malaysia she took part in her first exhibit of embroideries and fabric collages, entitled 6 Words: Embroidered Stories. I caught up with Rina for an interview to find out more about her interesting grass roots company.

LQ: Where did the name for your bag company come from?

RMH: Unglamorously cribbed the name from a Flowerdrum Song poster at a local theatre!

LQ: Where do you find your vintage prints for the bags?

RMH: As a natural hoarder and digger, I started out with a fair collection of vintage fabrics from my childhood (curtains, mum’s dresses) which I supplement with pieces I find on my travels at markets, etc. There are also a couple of fabric shops in Malaysia that I have been going to for years, the sort of shops where stock hasn’t been updated since the ’60s!

LQ: When did you first start making embroidery projects?

RMH: Started a couple of years ago, to explore but also as thank you gifts for friends who have supported me on my bag endeavours for the last decade.

LQ: Suhana Dewi Selamat’s 6-word memoirs influenced your work for the embroidered stories project. What was it about the memoirs that struck you?

RMH: As a lover of words and the English language, I was struck first and foremost by the brutal honesty of her 6-word essays. How they were food for thought in their simplicity. I like my words on point and how much more “on point” could you be than 6-word essays!

LQ: What do you like most about your job?

RMH: Being the boss of my own time, the flexibility to travel/take time off, the independence of only being able to blame myself for cock ups!

LQ: What do you have in store at Flowerdrum Bags for this year?

RMH: Flowerdrum Bags works in mysterious organic ways! Along with the usual desire to push the label to boutiques in foreign shores, I am hoping to work on a new embroidery project. New bags will be up soon for spring/summer and I plan to drive more traffic to the web-shop. I’ll also continue my crusade to get more people to understand and appreciate VINTAGE fabrics!

Leanda is a writer based in Toronto. For the past 13 years she has hosted & produced music radio shows, managed bands & worked in online music PR. She now runs a music site & also writes for music & culture magazine `Relevant BCN`. Read more of her writing here - http://www.bloggertronix.com

DIY Nature: Starting Your Own Compost By Accident

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

For a long time I yearned to start making my own compost, but there was always something standing in the way. There was the lack of immediate gratification, the choice between designs: one bin, two bin, three bin, rack and tumbler systems. Once I’d bought or built my bin, I’d need to “turn” all that compost. Turning sounded easy enough, save for the rake breakdown I had while gathering leaves. Needless to say, the whole business of composting seemed a little daunting, and if it weren’t for forces unseen, I might’ve missed out on the good life altogether. Luckily nature had a plan of its own.

Here are the basic steps I took to inadvertently start my own compost–they’ll probably work for you too:

  1. Go outside and look for a good place to build your compost bin.
  2. Realize there are a lot of good places, get indecisive, and instead, take the leaves, grass clippings, and handful of rotten lettuce that you were going to put in the bin and just toss them in a pile until you settle on the right spot later.
  3. Get distracted, do something unrelated, and forget you ever wanted to compost.
  4. After about a month, remember that you wanted to start composting and go reassess the situation.
  5. Grin as you realize that, together, you, time, and nature somehow already started a compost pile–all without nailing anything together!
  6. Enjoy the benefits (less trash, healthier plants, deeper satisfaction).

Composting is so easy, it can happen by accident. As you grow in the art, however, you might want to refine your operation a little. Here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Stirring, or “turning,” the heap every few days keeps the aerobic bacteria happy, healthy, and hot (composter’s lingo for more intense decomposition).
  2. Kitchen waste (veggies, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) is usually high in nitrogen; plants love nitrogen, so don’t be shy with it.
  3. Keep it vegetarian; no meat, bones, or plastic. Also, no chemically treated wood or diseased plants.

With a little time and almost zero work, you’ll have dark, rich compost crawling with earthworms and creatures of every variety waiting to decompose your waste and tend to your garden.

(Pictured below: slug on a mission–great decomposer, terrible gardener).



Brian is an aspiring writer, musician, artist, and photographer with a fondness for woodworking (although he doesn't get to it as often as he'd like). Some of his sound can be found here.

Health Tip: When in Depressive Doubt, Pull The Mercury-Free, Norwegian Fish Oil Out

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Just one guzzle; that’s all it takes…

I’m a prolific Asthmatic Kitty Sidebar contributor, so I think it will come as a shock to no one when I say that I have a tendency towards mental instability. Manic-depression is a constant battle. The bouts of hypomania are the nice part of my life because they make me feel good and allow me to produce a lot of Pulitzer-prize-winning Sidebar contributions. The bouts of depression, however, are not fun. If I don’t feel I’ve gotten a post just right, a dark fog descends upon my brain; and I become severely melancholic. My world begins to read like a Baudelaire poem, to reek of imbalanced-hormonal regret. I start eyeing the oven in the kitchen, bemoaning the fact that it is electric. It’s awful. Now, most people who struggle with this mental illness are on some sort of medication. Well, I am, too: Carlson’s mercury-free, Norwegian fish oil!

Whenever my mother finds me in one of the aforementioned depressed states, she always says, “Megan Michelle, back away from the oven, and go take your meds.” Being the good little Sidebar contributor I am, I always obey her and lumber on over to the fridge, take my bottle of mercury-free, Norwegian fish oil out, unscrew the cap, kick my head back and guzzle down about two heaping teaspoon-fulls. Every single time I do so, my serotonin and artistic self-confidence levels shoot straight to the sky. Every single time I do so, my life returns to reading like a Browning poem; and all is made right with my world. Because of my bottle of mercury-free, Norwegian fish oil—because of my meds—I know that those mad moments of melancholia have got nothin’ on me, that I’m always just one guzzle away from hormonally-balanced bliss.

Carlson’s fish oil isn’t just for people who are mentally ill, though: It promotes good brain development in a fetus, so it’s great for any woman who’s pregnant. It stops sugar cravings, so it’s great for any woman who isn’t pregnant. It helps give the body muscle definition, so it’s great for any man who looks like a woman. It helps prevent heart attacks, cancer, arthritis, and inflammatory diseases; so it’s great for any man who lives with a woman. In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s not a single man or woman out there who wouldn’t benefit from a guzzle of fish oil in some way or another, so if someone’s reading this and is thinking about trying some, do it! If anything, you’ll feel that much more like Megan Michelle, which, obviously, is the best feeling in the whole, wide world!

Miss Megan Michelle is a former Classics Major, greatly-skilled Goatherdess and full-time Romantic who has always loved The Living Logos.

Health Tip: A Shot of Apple Cider Vinegar a Day Keeps The Evil Toxins at Bay

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

Overcome acidic Evil with alkaline Good.

The modern world we live in is a dangerous one. We eat, sleep, and breathe deadly toxins—poisonous pesticides, harmful herbicides, carcinogenic chemical compounds. Our bodies are constantly battling lethal, unseen enemies. Having experienced one too many near-death toxic exposures for myself, I’ve come to learn that these enemies must be taken seriously. Having overcome one too many near-death toxic exposures all by myself, I’ve also come to learn that some of the best weapons one can use to fight against them are a bottle of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, a shot glass and a very open mind.

For millenia apple cider vinegar has been known for its myriad of healing properties—Hippocrates used it as an energizing tonic and a healing elixir. However, only recently has humanity figured out why apple cider vinegar is the superhero of supplements. Only recently have we discovered that toxins are acidic substances; that destroying them requires a neutralization, an onslaught of alkalinity. Only recently have we come to understand that apple cider vinegar is able to vanquish those acidic, unseen enemies because it is an alkaline substance, because it balances out the body’s pH level.

To keep those evil toxins at bay, then, I make sure to consume at least two tablespoons of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar a day. Every evening at around eight o’ clock, I grab a shot glass and a bottle of Bragg’s, pour myself a dose and down that thing in one rapid, melodramatic swig. My eyes water. My throat burns. And my mind seriously questions the state/point of my existence. But within seconds that storm of physical and mental discomfort passes. Within seconds my mind, body, and spirit become balanced, once again. I bask in the effervescent feeling of healthy-pH-level-ness the apple cider vinegar bestows upon me, and I know, full well, one can overcome acidic Evil with alkaline Good.

For more information on the incredibleness of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, Google it.

Miss Megan Michelle is a former Classics Major, greatly-skilled Goatherdess and full-time Romantic who has always loved The Living Logos.

How to Woo The Ladies!

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

It’s that time of year, Dude: Wal-Marts are filling up with heart-shaped boxes. Targets are teeming with chocolates. Girlish hopes are being hung by hearts’ hearth-fires with care. Yep, Valentine’s Day is a-comin’. Now, if you’re like most single men, you’re probably nervously pacing around your studio apartment right now, wondering how to even begin woo-ing that Woman o’ Your Dreams. But you need not fear, Li’l Feller! Wonder Woo-ing Woman is most definitely here.

Step One: Groom Your Appearance in an Un-Groomed Fashion

Relax, Honey. Bathing, grooming: It’s overrated. The Woman o’ Your Dreams wants an un-groomed, manly man so she’s able to look all the beautiful-er in contrast. So, let those facial follicles flourish, and let the dirt/sweat cleave to your skin. Trust me. The more you look like a wild caveman whilst you woo, the better.

Step Two: Dress Yourself in a Laborious Fashion

Put away the tight-fitting t-shirts! Toss out the designer jeans! We ladies want a man who is ready, dressed, and willing to labor for our love. So, put on a tattered plaid shirt; strap on some durable overalls; lace up the lumberjack-looking boots; don a straw hat; and strut that stuff. Trust me. The Woman o’ Your Dreams has been waiting a long time for a hardworking, peasant-looking man to sweep her off her feet.

Step Three: Demonstrate Your Athletic Abilities to Her

The age of big muscles is over. The time of spending hours in front of Gold’s Gym’s mirrors is through. We ladies just want a guy who participates in such pansy-like physical exertions as Frolic-ing, Traipse-ing and/or Sauntering. So, grab that Woman o’ Your Dreams by the hand; take her to the nearest open meadow; and unabashedly demonstrate those awe-inspiring athletic abilities of yours. Trust me. Upon seeing those lithe muscles, that woman will definitely be feelin’ the woo-age.

Step Four: Learn to Play an Unassuming Instrument and Play a Solo for Her

It’s cliché, but it’s still true: Music is the key to a woman’s locked heart-gate. But the egotistical finger-picking and narcissistic piano-prelude-ing just ain’t gonna do it, Fella. The Woman o’ Your Dreams wants a humble man, a man who plays such unassuming instruments as the lute, the flute, or the recorder. So, pay for some one-on-one instruction; take a few lessons; and play a soothing solo for that woman. Trust me. I’ve never seen one woman’s heartstrings not be tenderly tugged by a good lute solo before.

Step Five: Compose Her Some Good Musics

Using this instrument as your musical foundation, then, compose that Woman o’ Your Dreams a few Odes to Her Occipital Lobes, a few Paeans to Her Pericardium, and a couple of Hymns to Her Hamstrings. Why? Because The Woman o’ Your Dreams, like all women, has always been secretly harboring hopes that a mentally unstable man would fall so madly in love with her, he’d obsessive/compulsively compose original, anatomically-specific musical orations/lyrical pieces, just for her. Trust me. She totally has.

Step Six: Give Her a Biblically-Alluded Compliment Eye to Eye

The boring compliments are getting old, Honey. Don’t type, “You’re hot,” onto that woman’s Facebook profile page. Don’t tweet, “You have gorgeous eyes,” onto her twitter feed. Simply look her straight in the eyes and say, “Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mt. Gilead.” Trust me. No woman can resist a good Biblically-alluded compliment given eye to eye.

Step Seven: Recite Her Archaic Poetry

Put away the didactic dissertation! Let the philosophical treatises alone! We women are not logical creatures—no, no! We are poetry incarnate, and we love us some good metre-d metaphors. So, crack out the erotic Catullus; dust off the seductive Sir Walter Raleigh; and start reciting that out-dated poetry. Trust me. The Woman o’ Your Dreams has always been just a few archaic poems away from the warmth of your embrace.

Step Eight: Make Her Handmade Tokens o’ Affection

That Woman o’ Your Dreams doesn’t want ropes of diamonds or strings of pearls—oh, no. She just wants a man who can put his kind, sensitive, deft hand where his mouth is. So, whittle a jewelry box out of a piece of driftwood; embroider a Peter Paul Rubens painting onto a pillowcase; and hand those tokens of affection on over to her. Trust me. The Woman o’ Your Dreams has been waiting a long time for a man who knows the age-old adage: “Hand-Embroidered, Renaissance-Painting Pillowcases and Whittled-Driftwood Jewelry Boxes speak a helluva lot louder than words.”

Step Nine: Prepare Her an Organic Meal

Show her what a good provider you are: Prepare her a meal. Don’t just heat up some generic Hunt’s spaghetti sauce, though! Go organic. Go green. Take out the longbow that’s been collecting dust at the bottom of your hope chest, and hunt down a few cage-free, grass-fed, wild boars. Then, skewer ‘em; roast ‘em over a spit for a few hours; and plop those babies onto the table in front of her. Trust me. Upon seeing the bountiful organic boar-feast you so benevolently prepared for her, that Woman will be officially woo-ed.

Yes, by simply following these straightforward, logical steps, The Woman o’ Your Dreams will be all yours, Li’l Feller. So, stop wasting that precious time and fecundity and get out there! Grab the sword of Literate Thoughtfulness and the shield of Insane Passion, and woo that perpetual loneliness over the hills and far away.

Miss Megan Michelle is a former Classics Major, greatly-skilled Goatherdess and full-time Romantic who has always loved The Living Logos.

List: Good Things in the Greatest Season

Monday, May 4th, 2009

I can’t think of many better things than springtime. Summer’s great but it cheats because it comes after the cushion of spring which makes the transition easier. Spring, of course, follows (what always seems to be) a death-march of a winter season.

This winter wasn’t so bad, but it was long and it was gray and it’s nice to see the sun again.

So in that spirit, here’s a list of some great things to do and check out in the Greatest Season.

1. Chesapeake by James Michener. More than 300 years of life along the Chesapeake Bay. Good thing to sit outside with and feel the sun while you go deep into some historical fiction.

2. 40s. Winter for me was all dark, dark red wine. It’s spring so I’m starting it off with a big bruiser like the one in the photo below.

40 on the dead Xmas tree for winter

40 on the dead Xmas tree for winter

3. Haircut. Give yourself one. Clear-cut your skull and nurture some new-growth forest. (Same goes for your face. How long have you had that beard? Do you even remember what your face looks like Will you look like your dad when you shave it off? Facial hair will always grow back; it’s good like that. Check in with your real face.)

4. “The Gentlest Gentleman” by My Brightest Diamond. Been listening to this on repeat. The MOKB version.

5. Make Your Place by Raleigh Briggs. DIY home-life book. (“Affordable sustainable nesting skills,” says the front cover.) Build a compost heap, make a planting bed, mix up a tincture, beat the Great Depression #II blues.

6. Ditch the bummer music. Look for these HI-NRG positive vibes punks: White Fang. Their album on Marriage Records is called Pure Evil and it’s a party straight through. Especially the track “Green Beanz.” When I hear Erik sing, “I will sing until the day I die/yes, I will sing until the day I die” I’m, like, “YES YES YES.”

Erik from White Fang celebrates t-shirt weather

Erik from White Fang celebrates t-shirt weather

7. Potatoes. Hardly anyone I know has a real job these days and we’re all looking for new ways to get through the same ol’ hard times. Potatoes. They’re cheap, filling, nutritious, and you can add a couple bucks worth of fresh vegetables and make a feast for 10. Last night I collected everybody’s spare change and bought a bag of 30 russet potatoes for $1.79. I added a handful of spinach, two cloves of garlic, and two tomatoes and fried up a massive supper for a bunch of really hungry people.

8. Fresh ginger. Clears your head. Heats up your chest. Easy to shoplift from mega chain stores. Go spring-clean your body.

9. Foxfire book series. Collected Appalachian folk-wisdom, ancient DIY tricks, and general cheap-living how-to’s handed down by people who were alive during the Civil War. Read up on haint and snake lore; build your own dulcimer; learn to keep bees; make soap, etc. First five books (1972-’79) are the best.

Foxfire, holy Foxfire

Foxfire, holy Foxfire

10. Anything by Frederick Douglass. Pure reason and calm-minded eloquence from a time in American history that was anything BUT. Start off the season with a big hot flashlight of genius (1818-1895) that’ll illuminate everything in your path.

Oh, and go outside.

BIO: Adam Gnade's (guh nah dee) work is released as a series of books and records that share characters and themes; the fiction writing continuing plot-lines left open by the self-described "talking songs" in an attempt to compile a vast, detailed, interconnected, personal history of contemporary American life. Check out recent writing here and songs here. Contact: adam@asthmatickitty.com