CityBeat Blogs - DIY <![CDATA[Your Wednesday To Do List]]> GOOD Ideas for Cities is an opportunity for problem-solvers to tackle some of their cities’ greatest urban challenges. GOOD has an excellent magazine, but the company is also a collective of innovative individuals, nonprofits and other organizations united to push the world in a positive direction. The GOOD Ideas for Cities program will be presented in six cities this year, including Cincinnati. Local urban leaders met with GOOD to determine some of the city’s urban issues and, last month, GOOD put out a call for creative Cincinnatians with bright ideas. Six teams of problem-solvers were selected and each given an urban challenge Cincinnati currently faces. Tonight at the Contemporary Arts Center, these teams will present their solutions and join the urban leaders for a Q&A. After the 7 p.m. presentation, enjoy drinks and conversation and learn how to help make the ideas a reality. Admission is free, but you must RSVP here. Doors open at 6 p.m., so come early as reservations do not guarantee entrance after 6:45 p.m. It’s a pretty big deal that Cincinnati was selected to participate in the program, and tonight is sure to be an engaging, inspirational evening.

An after-work summer destination for many yuppies Tri-Staters, Party in the Park returns tonight for its 32nd year tonight. Every Wednesday through July, Party in the Park brings booze and popular area cover bands to Yeatman’s Cove from 5-10 p.m. Happy hour runs 5-6:30 p.m. and for the first time, wine and cocktails are available in addition to beer. Tonight’s music comes from Naked Karate Girls. Check out the full lineup here.

Perhaps contemporary Classical is more your style? World-renown composer Yanni performs at the Aronoff Center tonight. Known for being the sound of New Wave and providing the music for the Olympics (since 1988) and countless other televised sporting events, Yanni presents a new touring show featuring new music from Truth of Touch, his first album of original studio music in almost a decade. Tonight’s performance begins at 8 p.m. Go here to find tickets.

Interior decorator and HGTV host/designer Monica Pedersen will stop by Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion to discuss and sign her new book. Monica Pedersen Make It Beautiful: Designs and Ideas for Entertaining at Home combines the author’s DIY nature and design/décor expertise to turn readers into party-throwing pros. The event begins at 7 p.m. tonight.

Check out our To Do page for more art exhibits, theater shows and other events happening tonight and follow our music blog for a daily live show lineup.

<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 5/4-5/6]]>

In addition to Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day, the next couple days bring a ton of events and activities. Saddle up, grab some tequila and get out there this weekend!

Essex Studios blossom this weekend for the galleries’ spring Art Walk, BLOOM. The space has been transformed with a thousand origami flowers, yarn gardens by the Cincinnati BombShells and color-coded pathways. As always, more than 100 artists’ work will be on view as guests eat and drink their way through the studios. The art walk runs 6-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Saturday is Clay Alliance’s annual pottery fair at DeSales Corner. Peruse decorative and functional pottery pieces, meet local artists and get supplies to work with clay on your self. Hourly raffles and live music round out the day. The 12th annual fair takes place 11 a.m.-5 p.m., rain or shine.

The first Saturday of May happens to be Cinco De Mayo this year, but it’s also Free Comic Book Day: once a year, comic/specialty book shops across North America offer free publications to all guests. Find a nearby participating store here. Many store offer additional in-store events and promotions; Up Up & Away in Cheviot welcomes The Walking Dead co-creator and original artist Tony Moore.

Crafty Supermarket is back! Making its home at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, the spring show brings more than 50 indie, subversive crafters from across the city and country to sell their funky, functional handmade goods. Just in time for Mother’s Day, shoppers will find unique apparel and accessories, home goods, artwork and more goodies. Fuel your shopping with delicious food and coffee from local vendors while a PROJECTMILL DJ keeps you groovin’. Show up early to nab a coveted swag bag — every year, shoppers line up around the corner of Clifton Avenue in hopes of being one of the first 100 who get a bag. The market is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and admission is free.

Cinco de Mayo is more popular in the U.S. than Mexico, but since when do we let historical inaccuracies stand in the way of a good drinking holiday? Nearly every bar and restaurant participates in some capacity, but we’ve selected a few to host our annual Cantina Crawl. Here’s our schedule:

5 p.m. El Coyote

5:45 p.m. Pirates Cove

6:30 p.m. Tostado’s Grill

7:15 p.m. MLT’s

8 p.m. Cactus Pear (Clifton)

8:30 p.m. Nada

9 p.m. Bakersfield

Join our roving squad of senoritas and “Seen on the Scene” photographers as they travel from place to place with more prizes than you can throw a maraca at.

Prom is a rite of passage many, but often LGBTQ kids don’t feel comfortable at school dances because of bullies and expectations about dress and dates. The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Greater Cincinnati provides a welcoming environment for these individuals at their annual GLSEN Prom Saturday. Come to the Freedom Center for two events in one: those under 21 are invited to "dress as you want, bring who you want, and love as you want.” In a separate area of the center the over 21 crowd, who maybe didn’t get to experience a prom of their own, can enjoy dinner, drinks and dancing for $65. Those wanting to attend post-dinner can come after 9 p.m. for a discounted price. As always, kids are welcome free of charge with early registration. All proceeds support the local GLSEN chapter.

Check out Stage Door for this weekend's theater offerings, our music blog for a live show lineup and our To Do page for more events, art shows, performances and more this weekend.

And don’t forget to check out the "supermoon" Saturday — the biggest full moon of the year will peak around 11:30 p.m. tomorrow.

<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/23-3/25]]> Stop by the hipster haven that is Northside Tavern this weekend as it celebrates 10 years as a neighborhood bar and live music staple. NST's 10th Birthday Bash runs 6:30 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday with treats from Take the Cake both nights. Tonight, there's music from You, You're Awesome, Ohio Knife and Lydia Burrell. Saturday features music from Wussy and The Tigerlilies, the first band to rock the Tavern's stage a decade ago. As always, no cover. HB, NST!

Independent Spirit Award-nominated film In The Family opens at The Esquire tonight. Writer, director and star Patrick Wang will be in town for the premiere weekend, and will host a Q&A after this weekend's screenings. Check out the 8 p.m. screenings Friday and Saturday and the 1 p.m. show Sunday to meet and chat with the star. Read our review here.

San Francisco dance company Robert Moses' Kin performs in town this week with Contemporary Dance Theater's Guest Artist Series. Faith and Fable was inspired by choreographer/artistic director Robert Moses' children – fairy tales, in particular. Moses reexamined moral tales and translated them into a multi-genre dance piece for all ages. Performances are tonight at Saturday at the Aronoff Center. Go here to read our interview with Moses.

LEGOs are one of those iconic toys that kids still think are cool and adults still secretly want to play with. This weekend's LEGO's KidsFest may be marketed toward youngsters, but LEGO fans of any age can be entertained for hours at this construction block convention. At the fest, you'll find a LEGO model museum (clearly not built by kids), a master builder academy, activity area, challenge zone and much more. Saturday's sessions have sold out, but there's still tickets available for tonight (4-8:30 p.m.) and Sunday (9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 3-7:30 p.m.) All sessions feature the same fun exhibits and activities. Find ticket information and event details here.

Saturday morning, Park + Vine hosts a Grow Your Own Garden Class. Greensleeves Farm's Gretchen Vaughn will dish the dirt on growing vegetables and herbs at home with a hands-on demonstration on sowing and transplanting seeds. After the class, you'll take home a starter kit with seeds, soil and a plant. The class limited to 15 people, so RSVP at The workshop is $15 and runs from 10 a.m.-noon.

The Newport Aquarium welcomes Mighty Mike, a 14-foot, 800-pound American Alligator this Saturday. Mike is the largest gator in the U.S. outside of Florida. The new Gator Alley exhibit will feature many species of alligators and crocodiles from around the globe. The aquarium is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Find admission and other details here. Purchase your tickets in advance to save time at the door.

For more theater, visual arts and music events this weekend, check out our To Do, Music and Arts coverage.

<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/2-3/4]]> Bockfest is upon us! The annual celebration of Cincinnati's beer brewing history kicks off tonight with the Bockfest Parade, stepping off at 6 p.m. Organizers are keeping an eye on the weather, so check back with their site and Facebook page just in case. Even if the weather gets real ugly, just stop by one of the dozen participating venues where admission is free and beer is a-flowin'. Tons of special events coincide with the fest: Tonight, Park + Vine hosts its second annual veenie roast tonight (veggie hot dogs on delicious Mayday pretzel buns), Japps will feature a dance party tonight and Saturday, a Craft Menagerie takes over Arnold's Saturday and Washington Platform has a Bockfest Brunch Sunday, to name a few. And remember, you're not just getting your drink on, you're supporting Cincinnati history!

Covington's Carnegie Center presents its sixth annual Art of Food show, opening tonight. As you might've guessed, this art exhibit is centered around all things edible. The reception features beautiful culinary creations (that you can actually eat) by everyone from BonBonnerie to La Poste, Queen City Cookies to Taste of Belgium. Admission is a little steep ($60 at the door for non-members), but you'll leave with your left brain and stomach both very satisfied. Admission after the reception is free. Get details here.

It's always exciting when a new exhibit comes to the Contemporary Arts Center, and their opening parties are always a blast. Saturday the CAC welcomes two new art shows: I surrender, dear, Dasha Shishkin's first solo museum exhibit and Spectacle: The Music Video, curated by creative collective Flux. Read more about the artists here and check out our preview of Spectacle here. Music videos as art. Super cool.

The opening reception kicks off at 8 p.m. In addition to checking out the artwork, electronic musician/wizard Dan Deacon will perform 8-9 p.m. If you haven't heard of him, here's a preview:

Following the original performance is a DJ set 'til 11 p.m. The party is free and there will be a cash bar. Get more info here.

If you didn't score tickets to tonight's sold out Black Keys show, there are plenty of other music options. Eli's BBQ on Riverside Drive hosts Downtown Country Band tonight at 10 p.m. Tickets are $12. And really, any concert that also features barbecue is probably a sure bet. The Harlequins hosts an album release show Saturday at Mayday in Northside. Peep our interview with the crew. There are tons of other live music shows this weekend. Find them all on our music blog.

This not enough for you? There are tons of other happenings this weekend. Arts? We got 'em. Theater? You bet. Foul-mouthed, inxtoicated comedians? Of course. Just check out our To Do page for all your fun-having needs.

<![CDATA[I Just Can't Get Enough]]> Blues Night at the White House

No, it wasn’t a somber night of the Obamas watching the GOP race progress. Blues Night brought B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Mick Jagger to Washington for a night of great performances! The trio, along with many other performers, played classics like “Let the Good Times Roll,” “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and “Let Me Love You Baby.” No word on whether “Moves Like Jagger” was on the bill (sorry for making that get stuck in your head). The highlight of the night? Obama singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago.” The concert aired on PBS Feb. 27.

My Strange Addiction

It’s baaaack! This hot mess of a show seems like it would be an SNL spoof on ridiculous reality shows, but it really exists. And who really knows if these people are truly “addicted” to their behavior, or just do it for attention — either way, it’s some twisted entertainment. This season of the TLC "hit" features a man who is in love with (as in sexually attracted to) his 1998 Chevy Monte Carlo; a woman who can’t stop snorting baby powder; a woman with 38KKK-sized breasts addicted to (you guessed it) breast augmentations and plenty more sorry souls.

Alcohol on the Internet

You’ve probably heard of What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner, a comically crass blog that randomly generates unique recipes (and if you “don’t fucking eat meat,” there are plenty of veg options, too). Thankfully, now you can find out where to get a cocktail after dinner, with Where The Fuck Should I Go For Drinks. Just enter your location, and the site gives plenty of good options to wet your whistle.

I also discovered an amazing blog this week (That’s So Michelle) and instead of gushing, I’ll just explain one thing: It has a category devoted to Jell-o shots. And I’m not talking nasty lime gelatin-and-Popov crap, this shit is gourmet! Michelle uses excellent ingredients and ingenious flavor combinations to create shots of pink lemonade, caramel apple and strawberry margarita, all served in hollowed-out fruits. Bask:


Frankly, I’m disappointed in myself for just now discovering “Chloe.” This web show stars Drew Droege as Queen Original Hipster, Chloe Sevigny. Each episode is set up the same: Chloe introduces herself and discusses her appreciation of something mildly timely (Valentine’s Day, Summer, Resolutions). She then goes on to discuss how she celebrates the topic, name-dropping all along the way. From the unusual accent to the discussion of obscure activities to the amazing wardrobe, it’s hi-lar-i-ous. Again, I realize this has been around the ‘nets for a while, but I have to share with anyone deprived of Chloe as I was. Enjoy!

Baby Kanye Meme

OK, I’ve grown tired of this “everything’s a meme!!” trend happening, but sometimes there are decent ones amidst the sea of “What my friends think I do…” And since everything Kanye is generally entertaining, I present Baby Kanye: The Meme.


Design*Sponge’s "Living In" Page

D*S can do no wrong, so I love everything about it. But I’ve always particularly liked when blogs and magazines show me how to incorporate style from a movie into my real life. D*S’ “Living In” page covers all the best scenes you want to copy, from Cleopatra to Clueless. Most recently, the site featured Twin Peaks, Almost Famous and Chocolat.

Christopher Plummer

Remember in grade school when there would be “Star of the Week,” and that kid would bring in brownies and talk about his pet turtle and make a posterboard about his cool life? Beginners' Christopher Plummer is my Star of the Week. He’s proof that it's never too late to do something awesome. So if you’re 28 and crying because you hate your office job and you don't know what to do with your life, suck it up!  CP waited 82 damn years to get an Oscar! Check out his charming speech here.

<![CDATA[Crafty Supermarket Accepting Applications]]> Crafty Supermarket, one of Cincinnati's greatest showcases of all things handmade, is accepting applications for its spring show. Indie crafters wanting to sell their items at the May 5 event have until Feb. 29 to woo CS organizers with their creations.

Applicants should send five photos of their best work, provide a description of their creative process and a $10 nonrefundable application fee by the end of the month. Go here for the application and details.

DIY-ers will be notified about their acceptance into the show by March 15. These winners will then need to provide vendor fee of $75 (minus the application cost).

Crafty Supermarket is an amazing opportunity for artisans and craft-lovers alike, and the event gains more popularity year after year. This isn't your grandma's arts-n-crafts show: shoppers can expect outrageous and subversive handmade items.

There is typically a spring and holiday show, both featuring around 50 DIY-ers and drawing thousands of shoppers. Vendors hawk everything from handmade clothing and jewelry, to re-purposed artwork, to books and paper goods. It's an excellent place to find a unique gift while supporting hard working crafters. Many vendors also have websites or Etsy pages so shoppers can continue to show their love for their goods year-round.

Attending a CS is a full-day affair. Though they typically open around 11 a.m., many will show up early, wrapping around the block, in hopes of receiving an infamous crafty swag bag and first dibs on all the crafts. With a live DJ and plenty of local food vendors, it's a super fun way to spend a Saturday. This year, the event returns to Clifton Cultural Arts Center.

Go here to read my 2010 interview with the ladies behind CS. Happy crafting!

<![CDATA[Feather Hair Extensions: Not Animal-Friendly]]>

Feather hair extensions are one of the trendiest fashion accessories right now (I say this knowing that Cincy's always a little behind the times on all things stylish). Celebrities from Ke$ha to Steven Tyler to Roseanne Barr have been rockin' the look, which may sound like a deterrent, but now these birdy little weaves are everywhere. Even on dogs.---


                                                I'm not smiling. I'm begging for help.

Local salons have offered the service for a few months now, with individual feathers running around $10-$30 a pop. Some people love 'em, some hate 'em, but one thing's for sure - you can't walk into a Northside bar without seeing at least one feathery chick (see what I did there).

I've been on the fence about these. When I first saw locals with the extensions, I loved the Pocahontas-meets-The Lost Boys look. It seemed like a cute, inexpensive, won't-ruin-your-hair way to add a funky shot of color without looking like you're wearing a cheap clip-in extension from Claire's. They're cute, but once I really started seeing them everywhere, my interest fizzled.

Now, reports of how these feathers are obtained are shedding light on the consequences of this seemingly harmless trend.

Like feathers you see on clothing, jewelry and in craft stores, many of these extensions are brightly colored with funky markings, which leads most people (myself included) to believe they never came from an actual animal. More often than not, this isn't the case. If you're able to blow dry, curl and flat iron your feathers, they came from an animal. Synthetic feathers would burn or melt from that heat.

Feathers used for these extensions and most crafty/fashion-related purposes usually did not just fall out of a bird naturally. What people really have snapped in their hair are from roosters' bottoms, called saddle feathers. These roosters are usually plucked while still alive and often die afterwards (if not, they are euthanized).

It's a sad fact, and the history behind this process is even more odd. Certain roosters have been bred to have long saddle feathers, a favorable trait that came about from fishermen. These long feathers are actually the same ones favored by fly fishers for their lures (some salons even get their feathers from outdoors/fishing stores). Now that there's a huge demand for these feathers, prices are skyrocketing while more and more roosters are being killed.

Whether you're a vegetarian, a feather-extension lover, an animal rights advocate or just a conscientious shopper, it's important to be aware of the impact of your actions. If you want to get featherized, ask your stylist where they get their supplies and encourage them to go synthetic. Go here to read more about how you can help and here to to order vegan "feather" extensions you can apply yourself.

<![CDATA[Crafty Superstar Grace Dobush]]>

Get your glue guns ready, ya'll, because the Crafty Supermarket's about to take over the Northside Tavern. That's right. Your local watering hole (generally full of tight-pantsed drunks at night) will be hosting an indie craft show on Saturday afternoon (noon-6 p.m.) with handmade fine art, recycled goods, home decor, jewelry, children's items, stationery and more.

The masterminds behind this DIY dream are local writer/editor/crafter Grace Dobush and recent DAAP grad/sustainable shoemaker Alisha Budkie. The duo will be bringing together over 20 craft vendors from Cincinnati and the Midwest for a fair inspired by the likes of Renegade Chicago. Along with shopping opportunities there will be "swag bags" for the first 50 shoppers, music from PROJECTMILL, food from Dojo Gelato and others, and a Make It! table where attendees can get crafty with the BYOProjectors (read about them here).

CityBeat recently had a little e-mail exchange with Dobush, whose book, Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash and Basically Have It All, is about to be released, about the Crafty Supermarket.

CityBeat: What is the Crafty Supermarket?

Grace Dobush: Crafty Supermarket is an indie craft show, or a Rock & Roll craft show, which is more appropriate since it's in Northside. This is not your standard high-school auditorium, church-basement craft show: We're having music by PROJECTMILL, rad food from local vendors and 20 hip crafters who will be selling the stuff they make. No packaged stuff, no commercial stuff, no lame stuff—just arts and crafts!

CB: Why are you having a craft show? What's the goal?

GD: My goal is to solidify the craft scene in Cincinnati a bit. There are a ton of really talented crafters and artists here, but none of us seem to know each other! My co-organizer, Alisha, and I had never met until we were in Washington D.C. at the Summit of Awesome (a craft summit organized by the ladies who put on Crafty Bastards, a humongous indie craft show). We really wished there was an indie craft event in Cincinnati, and eventually we realized that we should step up and do it ourselves! It's either the DIY mentality kicking in or a pretty solid sense of masochism, I'm not sure which.

CB: You seem to be an indie craft guru. What is your crafting experience? What inspires you to craft? What crafts do you make/specialize in?

GD: That's the first time I've heard that one! I've just been crafting a long-ass time. I've been printmaking since I was a teenager and then took a course on bookbinding my freshman year of college. It just kind of snowballed after that, and I sought out like-minds on the internet. Right around 2000 was a turning point for indie craft... it got a name, the indie craft shows started coming out, and all the movers and shakers were on these craft message boards and got to know each other. Some of the folks I know from those boards back in the day I ended up interviewing for my book, Crafty Superstar.

I'm not a full-time crafter (I'm a magazine editor and writer by trade) but I love connecting with people and talking to people. There are plenty of crafters who are much more successful than me at being a business, but I saw a lot of word-of-mouth information that hadn't been collected anywhere else. And my book was born!

CB: What role does crafting play in our modern world, so to speak? Why is it important?

GD: I think the popularity of craft is a direct backlash to the super-industrialized big-box shopping culture. People are starting to see the value in knowing exactly where the things they buy come from, and there's nothing better than finding an object you absolutely love and getting to talk to the person who made it. Of course, big-box stores recognize that this aesthetic is totally hot, so you see crafty-ish knockoffs for sale that are probably handmade... but by child laborers who may or may not be working against their will.

There are also a pretty big number of crafters who focus on using sustainable, local and/or recycled materials. And of course, when you support an indie artist, you are directly supporting your local economy. I can almost guarantee the $10 you spend at Crafty Supermarket will turn around and get spent on bus fare for the Metro, dinner at Melt or drinks at the Tavern later.

CB: What vendors will be on hand at the market?

GD: We've got a really wide range of crafters—selected from almost 70 applications, which just blew us away. The crafters make jewelry, paper goods, housewares, kid's stuff, clothing, art, knit things—all sorts of stuff. We also tried to get a balance of crafters in terms of wanting this to represent Cincinnati crafters—about three-quarters of the vendors are from the Cincinnati region. And although we have a lot of vendors who are old hands at the indie craft sale thing, we also wanted to make sure to bring in some folks who are doing a show for the first time, because once upon a time, we were the newbies.

CB: What sort of crafts will attendees be able to make at the Make It! Table?

GD: We've got a really random assortment of supplies and guest curation by the crafty people from BYOProject, which is a crafty collective that meets at Happen Inc. in Northside once a month. It's an anything-goes kind of craft situation, but specifically we've got paper to make your own album cover (12-inch, of course), and little paperboard albums that you can decorate to make your own storybook or draw a demented family album. Whatev!

CB: Will this become an annual event? Do you have any other events planned for the future?

GD: From the very beginning Alisha and I have kept saying stuff like "Next year, we are so doing X and Y," or "Next year, we are never doing Z again." It's just felt kind of natural that this would roll into being an annual event. Plus, since the response has been so huge (our Facebook event has 130 guests at this point) that it would be a shame to never do it again!

We don't have any more events planned immediately—we need some recovery time!—but at this point we're totally planning to do something even bigger for next fall. The late fall is primo craft sale time because people are much more willing to spend money to buy gifts for other people. It's pretty safe to say you'll see Crafty Supermarket again next fall.

<![CDATA[D.I.Y. Samurai: Denim]]>

I hate wearing pants.

For every ten pairs of pants I try on, I might look slightly normal in one. They’re usually too short and I always have a hand-full of extra fabric in the crotch region (Do pant designers assume everyone has a foopa? ). I wish a dress or skirt was appropriate for every single situation, but that’s simply not the case.Thankfully, indiDenim has heard my pant-hating cries.---

I found out about this site on The Frisky, which is always a fun read. The blog explained the basics of indiDenim, but I had to create a pair for myself.

The site offers jeans for men and women, so you have to choose your gender first. Next, if you’re more of a left-brain person, you can skip the design process and purchase custom-fit selections based on your personal measurements. That’s boring, so I opted to design my own pair. I figured the site’s options would include color, cut and a few little visual details but there are seemingly limitless design and fit features. Here’s the skinny:

Cut- Slim, Relaxed, Trouser or Plus.

Fabric- 13 blue and black hues and seven finer options that cost an extra $15.

Rise- Super low, Low, Mid or High.

Fly- Zipper or Buttons.

Leg Style- Narrow(”Skinny”), Straight, Bootcut, Flare, Wide, Capri or Capri Wide.

Bottom Hem Style- Various hem lengths, cuff or slit.

Coin Pocket- Choose whether or not you want that mini pouch in your front pockets.

Back Pocket Shape- Nine different styles, including button closures, one of which is $5 extra.

Back Pocket Embellishment- 29 different options including different colored emblems and other embroidered designs, one of which is $5 extra.

Finishing Treatment- Whether your want your jeans crisp and clean or torn to shreds, you can choose from a variety of sanding, whiskers and holes.

After designing you denim, enter your height, weight, natural waist and inseam measurements, bra cup and band sizes, pant size (you can even pick a range if, like me, you can wear a few sizes) and typical pant length. All of these will help determine your overall body shape, which I think is an awesome idea if you really want your pants to fit well.

The site will now prompt you to describe your body shape with pictures instead of numbers. So, now it’s time to analyze your body.  Always fun.

Tummy Shape- (From the side) Flat, Average, Round or Very Round.

Waist Shape- (From the front) Defined, Average or Undefined.

Thigh Shape- Thin, Average or Full.

Seat Shape- Got a Badonkadonk? Choose from Flat, Average, Prominent or Wide/Full.

Waist Gape-  Do you usually have extra room at the waist of your pants in the back (Yes! Yes! Yes!)? You can select Fits OK, Gapes a Little or Gapes a Lot.

Waist Fit- When you wear pants that hit your waist (under your bellybutton), are they usually Very Tight, A Bit Tight, Fit OK, A Bit Big or Very Big?

Hip Fit- Similarly, when you wear pants that hit your hips, are they usually Too Small, Fit OK or Too Big?

Now you’re almost done. Just sign up with your e-mail address and order away! I didn’t select any extra-cost design elements, so my pair ended up costing $145. More expensive than my usual pair of pants, but quality fit is guaranteed!

If you have a pair of indiDenim jeans or are thinking about creating your own, Let me know! I’d love to see photos and find out if they’re really the perfect fit.

<![CDATA[D.I.Y. Samurai: Fair with a Chance of Handmade Goodness]]>

The Ohio State Fair kicked off in Columbus last week when I realized that I could not actually remember ever attending it. I’ve been to a million church festivals over the years, and even a few county fairs, but it’s been at least 15 years since I have been to the statewide extravaganza. Banking that there would be loads of crafts, gardening and other D.I.Y. goodness to report on, Jason and I headed to Ohio’s capital Sunday afternoon.---

I must share all of the exciting, shocking and disappointing aspects of the fair, but first thing’s first. The butter cow:

Only in Ohio... Only in Ohio...

 …Because nothing brings the family together like butter! Since 1903, a hand-sculpted cow and calf made entirely of butter have been exhibited at the Ohio State Fair. For over 40 years, it’s been a tradition that the butter heifers are joined by different characters each year. This year the cow was accompanied by a farmer and a vet, and the calf was being fed by a little girl and her father. The whole installation called for 1,800 pounds of buttah. Tacky? Kinda. But definitely an example of some down-home D.I.Y.

Like nearly every fair, various crafters competed in different mediums for prizes. Categories included knitting, quilting, designer cake decorating, scrapbooking and even decoupaging! My favorite group of crafts had to be the duct tape creations. Duck Tape brand sponsored a tiny art booth that sold craft kits and various colors of the magical fix-it-all. If you check out the fair, be sure to get there early and attend a duct tape craft class. I just missed a duct tape wallet demo that looked awesome.

Here’s just one example of the vivid duct tape decor:


The Ohio State Fair also offered another venue for artist’s creations that were less crafty and more fine-arty. Ohio artists showcased their paintings, sculptures and installations in a gallery setting, which was a nice change of pace. There were tons of forward-thinking art on display, but one of my favorite pieces was “Jasper”:

"Jasper," Audrey Buschor

This colorful pony consisted of wire and recycled pop cans.  The piece was befitting for the fair this year, as there was much more focus on recycling than in years past.

Jasper close up

One staple at every fair is the smorgasbord of high-calorie treats. While I somehow managed to forego all the chocolate-dipped, deep-fried, cheese-coated treats, I had to stop and appreciate one booth that took home cookin’ to the max:

D.I.Y. Dough

This is not your average fried dough and waffle stand. See that old timey contraption next to the booth? That’s where they grind up their own flour to make their own dough which they flash-fry on site. Homemade isn’t always healthier, but it was pretty cool.

I must digress for a moment and comment on one attraction I was not expecting to see… SIDESHOWS!

AngelBeautiful/Ugly"$10,000 if not alive"

I didn’t know how to react to this mess. On one hand, I am oddly obsessed with circus history and turn-of-the-century traveling shows which definitely had “freak shows.” However, it’s 2009. Who knew sideshows still existed?!

Okay, back to topic at hand. I had fun at the fair, but I was really disappointed that I could not purchase any homegrown plants or vegetables, handmade crafts, honey, jam, etc. If you want to leave with a souvenir, I guess some kitchen cutlery or an off-brand Sham Wow will have to suffice. I did spend a ton of time at some awesome booths that sold vintage signs, posters and jewelry, which I didn’t expect to see. But the limited options to support local artists and farmers was a little disappointing.

All in all, if it’s been a decade or two since you’ve stepped foot on fairgrounds, I say it’s time for another visit. If you live in or around Ohio, check out the Fair’s Web site for coupons and tips to save cash while you’re there. ‘Til then, here’s a glimpse of the fairgrounds from the Sky Ride!

View from Sky Ride

<![CDATA[D.I.Y. Samurai: Attacking the Monster in the Closet]]>

Being organized is supplemental to working on any kind of hands-on project. Unfortunately, many creative, craftastic individuals lack that innate sense of tidiness and organization. I’m certainly guilty of this; check out what my craft closet used to look like. ---



I know, I should be ashamed. Thankfully, I have revamped my craft closet so now everything has its own easy-to-find place. Need help getting to that point? So did I!

If you’re a budding crafter or just need to take control of your workspace, here are some tips that helped me.

1. Select a Storage Space

My apartment has more closets than it has rooms (which is every girl’s dream come true), so I selected a spare storage closet to hold my project junk. Maybe a desk, cabinet or bookshelf would work better for you. Whatever you select, be sure you can keep mainly craft items in there. After all, if your craft space doubles as your winter coat closet and sporting equipment storage, you’re probably never going to want to look at it, let alone start a project.

2. Gather Your Supplies

Whether you’re just starting out or have enough “potential” project supplies and accessories to fill Lake Erie, try an bring them all together in one area like your kitchen table or living room floor. Look through other areas of your home where craft items might be hiding. For example, I grabbed all my note cards, gift bags and tissue paper to put in my craft closet.

Don’t get overwhelmed! When you see all your craft crap together, you’ll begin to notice which items should be condensed in one container and which items should go where.

3. Separate and Contain

Split unlike items into different stacks or piles. I first divided my junk into a sewing-related stack and a non-sewing pile. Then I continued: tiny sewing accessories, pins, etc. went into a shoebox. Fabric scraps took a place in an empty coffee container. Patterns went in their appropriate envelopes.

For my non-sewing craft supplies, I separated them similarly (buttons and jewels in a pistachio can, paper products in a sealed box, glass items in a giant Ziploc bag, various glues and paints in a shoebox, etc.) and gathered all of those in one giant U.S. Postal Service bin. See-through containers like sandwich bags, 1-gallon bags, and Tupperware canisters are your friends! The goal is to organize and make your items easily accessible.

4. Store Appropriately

When you’re ready to place all your newly contained supplies in your storage space, just be logical. Place the items you use to most at eye level. Items you don’t have an idea for yet can go towards the bottom or back of the space. And make sure you put items that are used together close to each other (Note: doesn’t it suck when you have a hot glue gun but have to dig for 20 minutes to find a glue stick for it?).

5. Have Fun with it!

Even if you aren’t a domestic diva, organizing can be an enjoyable thing. Put on some good music, make yourself a drink and go at it! Once you’re satisfied with your space, decorate it. Make it your own. The more you like the space, the more likely you are to keep it tidy and utilize its contents.

Here’s what my craft closet looks like today:



We’ve got hardware, picture frames and in-progress projects on top, then the giant craft bin, gift items and craft books in the middle and fabric, patterns and sewing supplies on the bottom. It’s hard to believe 90% of the junk that was in the messy version of my closet is still in there! Organization really does save a lot of space.

<![CDATA[D.I.Y. Samurai: The Knot]]>

Marriage is not in my foreseeable future and I would much rather crash a reception than plan a wedding, but it’s summer and I must acknowledge wedding season. Until recently, I worked at a private club which hosted events like wedding receptions. This was a classy joint, so I worked at some gorgeous loose-budget parties, to say the least. A few things that really bugged me about these receptions were the ridiculous price tags on some of the smaller aspects of the events and the amount of crap I’d have to throw away once the guests departed. So, while I am no professional, I’ve picked out some D.I.Y. alternatives with the help of my high-end wedding observations, my library of craft books and some hot conscientious wedding Web sites. There’s a ton of them out there and any bride- or groom-to-be should check ‘em out if they’re trying to save – or go – green at their wedding. ---

To start out, Great Green Weddings has set three basic rules that can cut costs and waste:

1. Limit how far you and your guests will have to travel for the ceremony and reception.

2. Pack up or donate leftovers instead of throwing them out.

3. Only register for items you and your spouse will need and use. If that cuts a lot out of your wish list, suggest a charity that your guests can donate to in your name.

Now for the nitty-gritty:

The Dress

Obviously, this is a huge decision every bride makes, whether she’s a fashionista or a Plain Jane. But why pay up to a grand for a gown that nine other brides will be wearing? If you’re up for searching hardcore and buying vintage, I highly suggest hitting up higher-end thrift boutiques and consignment shops. Some local bridal districts have a store like these. Ebay is also a goldmine for inexpensive dresses. Some are brand new, others just worn once, but most are priced so reasonably, you could spring for awesome alterations and embellishments. I realize some people might have a problem wearing a used dress, but it can save you so much money and you can really alter it to make it your own.

For the laid-back bride (oxymoron?) who really wants to do it herself, there’s the T-shirt Gown from the awesome book Generation T.:

As Seen in Generation T As Seen in Generation T

Vera Wang probably wouldn’t approve, but I think it’s fab!

The Cake

For many couples, dessert is just as imperative as the dress. And if you’ve seen any of the 98 designer cake shows on television right now, it’s obvious that people drop some serious cash for the perfect cake. Luckily, cupcakes are totally hot right now and they make an excellent alternative to a traditional cake. My cousin is getting married in November, and he and his lady are going the cupcake way. Let’s think about this: they’re easy to make yourself, they’re instantly adorable and you don’t have to worry about cutting a giant cake! Just remember, being thrifty doesn’t mean you have to give up the glam. If you’re particularly hands-on, like this couple was, you can construct a classy display for your wedding cupcake:

Invitations & Save the Date Cards

From a crafter’s perspective, creating one-of-a-kind, handmade paper invitations sounds lovely. From a eco-girl’s perspective, that sounds like a ton of waste. So I’ll offer two options I’ve found:

Electronic Invitations:

The snail mail-lover within me cringes at the idea of e-mailing out wedding announcements, but it’s clearly the greenest thing to do. If you’re at all tech-savvy, you can accomplish this on the cheap. If not, Sendomatic has lots of templates for invitations, from funky to traditional. If you’ve got to have a one-of-a-kind invite, the site also offers custom e-vitations that cost between $200-$300. Kinda pricey, but the site keeps track of all RSVPs and sends reminders.

Paper Invitations:

Options for paper invites are endless, but inexpensive, Earth-friendly invites are sometimes hard to come by. Formal Invitations uses 100% recycled paper and some tree-free recycled cotton for their invites and envelopes, and they offer D.I.Y. invitations with how-to guides as low as $0.54 a piece! They can print and assemble your invitations and RVSP cards for you, or send you the paper items to do it yourself, or even meet you in the middle.

Decor & Centerpieces

Duh. That’s all I can say. There is no limit to the types of D.I.Y. decorations you can add to your ceremony or reception. I’m sure more people opt to buy because crafting can be so time-consuming, but I think it would help with the pre-wedding stress! Imagine this: instead of playing gag-inducing games at a wedding shower, you and all your girlfriends could make centerpieces! Here are two votive-holding centerpiece ideas made from aluminum cans and scraps:

As Seen In The Big-Ass Book of Crafts As Seen in the Big-Ass Book of Crafts

In addition to re-thinking your recyclables, buying bulk flowers and arranging them yourself can save a bundle.  I would stock up on craft books like The Big-Ass Book of Crafts (from which the aluminum projects came) for decorative inspiration. Obviously. the earlier you get started, the less you’ll have to buy last-minute. Handmade decorations at a wedding are so perfect because they can incorporate special details about the bride and groom that you can’t find in items you buy or rent.

Wedding Party Gifts & Guest Favors

It’s nice to give a token of thanks to the members of your wedding party, and super easy to make these kinds of gifts. A handmade picture frame personalized for each person with a photo from the wedding is cheap but meaningful. Making boutonnieres and corsages for the party could also double as a from-the-heart gift.  And since you’ve stocked up on crafting guides, you shouldn’t have any trouble thinking of additional gift ideas.

As far as your wedding guests, I’m going to be frank: you’re already throwing a kick-ass party and they’re getting drunk on your tab. What more of a gift do they need? In all seriousness, nix the wedding bells, candy or other cheap favors at each table- they’re gonna end up in a trash can eventually. If you’ve budgeted for guest favors, be classy and donate what you would have spent on favors to you and your significant other’s favorite charity or organization.

Like I said, I’m not a wedding planner!  But it’s amazing how many eco-conscious, money-saving, craft-quenching  tips you can pick up by searching through thrift stores, Web sites and books.  If you’ve attended or planned a D.I.Y. wedding, let me know.  You could nab a feature on this site!

<![CDATA[Recycled Jewelry: Hot or Not?]]>

Last spring when I was in school full time, working two jobs, I envisioned a craftalicious summer ahead of me. Well, school’s been out for a month, one of my jobs went out of business and I still do not have anything handmade to show for myself. Major fail. So this week I’ve punctuated my job searching with crafting plans and I got totally inspired by this book, which I received for Christmas: ---

AlternaCrafts: 20  Hi-Style Lo-Budget Projects to Make

Of all my crafting guides, this one is really cool because all the projects are relatively practical, inexpensive to make and can be made from junk in your closet. Love it!

The bottle cap necklace on the cover caught my eye, so I checked out the book’s tutorial for it. Since I can’t really afford to buy some of the supplies like Epoxy resin, and since I just don’t follow directions well, I decided to make my own versions of bottle cap jewelry. I used super glue, Mod Podge decoupage glue (or as I call it, craft cocaine. It’s amazing), some random doo-dads I found in my craft closet, magazine clippings and Barbie doll clothing and accessories. A few years ago I found an abandoned 1960s Barbie trunk in my apartment’s basement. Needless to say, I snatched it and have been using its wonderful contents for projects and decorating my new apartment. But that’s another story!

Here are some pendants. I plan on attacting them to chain necklaces:


 These are a few pairs of earrings:

Cream and Sugar?


One complete earring I rigged up:

Who's that?

I seriously can’t stop making these. I’ll entertain a few friends just to swipe their beer bottle caps and start decoupaging on the spot!  These are really fun and pretty simple to make. The best part is all I had to buy was the hardware to attach the caps to earrings and necklaces.

Now my question is whether or not these bad boys are ready to leave my dining room table and hit the streets. I’m looking for some honest feedback here, so don’t hold back!

<![CDATA[Lovin’ Spoonflower]]>

Yesterday I was driving along listening to “The Story” on National Public Radio, a program hosted by Dick Gordon. Gordon interviews “everyday people” who have experienced something interesting to share. Yesterday, Gordon talked with Stephen Faser, an Internet marketing pro-turned-fabric printer from North Carolina. Faser and his wife started creating their own fabrics to make textile items for their family, which soon blossomed into their custom printing company, Spoonflower. ---

One would think that “in this economy” it would be far wiser to keep a hi-tech net job than to start up a textile business from scratch. If you check out the NPR podcast, you’ll find that Faser & Co. are struggling to keep their business rolling, but are enjoying the ride.

Naturally, I had to check out Spoonflower’s website and I must say, it’s a crafter’s dream come true. Shoppers can search through tons of designs that people from across the globe have submitted to Spoonflower or, for the true D.I.Y.-er, there is the option to upload your own personal designs to be printed on fabric. The final products are a bit pricey – $18-$32/yard – but the Spoonflower team dyes everything themselves and uses eco-friendly printing practices. And rest assured, the designs at Spoonflower are so kitschy and unique, you really won’t find them anywhere else.

Every week, the Spoonflower site hosts a fabric design contest with designs submitted by six different artists. The designs are polled on the Web site and the winner’s design is printed and put on sale at the Spoonflower Etsy shop. From there, shoppers can purchase the handmade fabric and make their own item from it. It’s like pay it forward with fabric…”craft it forward!”

For anyone getting ready to start a summer sewing project, I highly suggest checking out Spoonflower for some fabric.