A while ago, I shared my goal of making the most of what I have (you know, instead of just buying new things). And while I did allow myself a little shopping spree a few weeks ago, for the most part, I’ve stuck to my goal.

And with all the working-from-home I’ve been doing in the wake of the hurricane, I actually had time to work on a few wardrobe updates that cost me less than a dollar. Read on for details.

First, I had a somewhat unfair advantage in beginning this project because I have access to the Martha Stewart Employee Tag Sale. Sorry I’m not sorry.

The point is, at the sale, I picked up a bunch of fabric remnants, ribbons, and other items for around $13. The materials I used for this project were less than a dollar total. WIN.

Without further ado, here’s my tutorial for creating a DIY Faux Fur Collar.

DIY No-Sew Faux Fur Collar

Materials:
12×12-inch piece of faux fur
12×12-inch piece of backing fabric
Button
Hook
Scissors
Fabric/Craft Glue

1. I started by cutting the faux fur into a semi-circle shape. (Note: One thing I wish I would have done? Used a razor to cut the fur just along the backing material. I cut through the whole piece, fur included, which meant I spent a lot of this project vacuuming up stray pieces of faux hair.)

Also, the below image is when I first cut the fur. I tried the collar on a few times and kept trimming until I got it to a shape that fit my neck.

2. Using the trimmed piece of faux fur as a stencil, cut a piece of the backing fabric into the same shape but slightly smaller.

3. Using the fabric or craft glue, attach the backing fabric to the back of the faux fur.

4. Using books or other heavy objects, weight down the fabric until the glue dries.

5. To create the clasp, I used a small fabric-covered button and a gold lobster claw clasp. I sewed mine on (I know, the name of this tutorial is misleading), but if you really can’t sew a button (first, read this), then you can pin each part in place.

And you’re done!

Pretty cute, huh? And considering the whole project cost less than a dollar, it’s that much sweeter.

(Oh, hey there, bold red lip! Check back on the blog tomorrow for my tips on wearing red lipstick without looking like a clown.)(It has literally taken me over 25 years to figure this out.)

Note: I noticed I had a lot of fabric shedding from the sides of the faux fur piece after I cut it. Based on my Google searching, the only solutions I found for this were a) to be more careful when you first start cutting (d’oh) or to bond the sides with fabric/craft glue. I tried this, but it made the edges a little rough. Anyone know a better way around this?

The craftiness continues on the blog today!

Another project I was able to complete was painting a trio of wooden candle holders I picked up at a tag sale at work for about a dollar.

I loved the shape of the candle holders, but the dull color left a lot to be desired. As soon as I saw them on the table at the sale, I imagined them in a glossy white, grabbed a few cans of spray paint in another bin (all priced at a dollar each), and we were in business.

First, I wiped the holders down with a damp paper towel to remove any dirt. I would have lightly sanded them, but I didn’t have any sandpaper on hand, and the point of the craft was that it was only costing me two dollars to create.

After wiping them down, I primed the holders with a white spray primer I had on hand.

Already, they looked loads better. After letting the primer dry for around 25 hours, I added a coat of glossy white spray paint. (Tip: Remember to always keep your arm moving when using spray paint to avoid drips or uneven coverage. As I heard one blogger say once, “If the can is spraying, your arm best be swaying.” Dorky, but true.)

I waited another day to give the holders another coat for good measure. Then, they were done!

Much better, right? Now I just need to get some tapered candles, and it will get all kinds of elegant up in here.

(What?)

Anyone else getting crafty lately? There’s just something about this time of year that makes you want to make stuff over, amiright?

It seems that things are finally inching back to normal. As I write this, I am sitting in a train en route to my office.

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Sure, my office isn’t opening until noon. And, okay, the trains are only running every hour. But I’m still going to chalk it up to progress.

Also, commuting off-peak? Rules. This car is practically empty, and I got to sleep in.

Actually, this last week has been the first time in a while that I haven’t felt tired all day long. It’s amazing what sleeping instead of commuting can do for your well-being.

But while I’m bittersweet about giving up those extra snoozing hours, I am excited to get back to the city and back to normal life. (Check back with me after it starts getting really cold and see if I still feel that way.)

Hope everyone else in my area is getting back to normal soon, too!

I’ve had a lot more time at home this week due to the hurricane. Because of that, I’ve been able to try new recipes and get some serious crafting accomplished.

Side note: I know I keep saying this, but I feel incredibly fortunate that the greatest “misfortunes” we’ve had during the aftermath of the storm is a dent on one of our cars and boredom. It’s the epitome of #firstworldproblems. It’s sort of awkward to maintain a blog that focuses on mostly frivolous things when there are real problems out there. Then again, how self-centered is it to only acknowledge those “real problems” when they’re in my backyard? I guess what I’m saying is, I’m going to keep posting because, hey, maybe we all need a bit of frivolity right now. But I just want everyone to know I’m not sitting in a pile of craft supplies with my eyes closed.

Phewph. That got heavy.

In the name of lightening the mood, I give you a…narwhal-themed craft!

Narwhals have been the unofficial mascot of my blog since I wrote this entirely ridiculous post about them almost exactly two years ago. (OMG, NEW IDEA! Narwhal Day. October 27th on the blog from now until forever. Mark your calendars.)

After I wrote that post, I noticed a bizarre uptick in blog traffic until that post became the single most highly trafficked post on the entire site. This culminated in the post receiving an even weirder number of hits in a single day almost exactly a year ago. (I actually wrote this on Friday, so it was exactly the same day. Spooky.)(That was also the day the narwhal became the official blog mascot.)

The post doesn’t get as much traffic as it used to since I switched to a self-hosted platform (though if I log into the old blog on the WordPress-hosted platform, it’s STILL the only post that gets traffic…people love themselves some narwhals, folks). But the narwhal will always be near and dear to my heart regardless.

It became such a thing for me, that my sister even gave me a narwhal as part of my bridesmaid gift for being in her wedding. (A toy one…but can you imagine if she gave me a REAL narwhal???)

For a long time, he has sat contentedly on my book shelf, guarding my old dictionary and my copy of Jane Austen: The Complete Novels, but lately, I’ve been thinking he could use a bit of pizzazz.

I’ve also become mildly obsessed with the trend of spray painting plastic animals gold for decor. (It’s a real thing, I swear. See here, here, and here for evidence.)

And since I’ve been working from home all week, I’ve actually had time to not only do crafts, but also to take pictures of them in decent light.

I think you can probably guess where I’m going with this.

Without further ado, the easiest craft tutorial ever:

How to Spray Paint Plastic Animals Gold

Materials:
Plastic narwhal (or, I guess, any other plastic animal you might have lying around…)
Spray primer
Gold spray paint
Cardboard or newspaper for a clean surface
Plastic gloves
Mask

1. Start with a clean narwhal on your painting surface. (I used an old piece of cork I had lying around.)

2. In a well-ventilated area, spray with primer. It’s a good idea to use a color lighter than the gold paint. (Note: I skipped the primer on the first go-around and ended up having to wipe off the bubbled gold paint and start over. DON’T SKIP THE PRIMER.) Follow the drying instructions on the primer. (In my case, a few hours was enough to wait.)

3. Also in a well-ventilated area, spray with gold spray paint. I did a couple of coats, and I had to spray the top and bottom separately, so all together it took about 4 spray sessions. (It’s like a really exaggerated spray tan for you animal.) Allow to dry completely (about 24 hours).

That’s it! How does he look, you ask? Check out this handsome little devil:

Pretty cute, huh? I’ve got a sizable crush on him.

I have a few other crafts I was able to get accomplished while being stuck inside after Sandy, so stay tuned all this week for more.
Thanks for reading one of my blog’s most popular posts! Don’t miss my other DIYs and how-tos here. Welcome to Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One!

I’ve been waiting in line over two hours for gas.

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I want to give you a second to wrap your mind around that. The worst part? This is the second line I’ve waited in this morning.

I’m in a line of at least 50 cars, all with our engines off, and every five minutes or so, start our engines again so we can move up five feet. We do that every five minutes or so.

Things got hairy a few minutes ago when the line didn’t budge for about twenty minutes. You could smell the panic over the gas and exhaust fumes.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard how the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy have been suffering from a gas shortage. Lines have been approaching the 3-hour mark since early last week, and though supposedly we will be “back to normal” by tomorrow, I haven’t seen any signs of that yet.

I mean, people are driving to Connecticut to get gas. That makes more sense for some people than waiting in these lines.

Of course, that’s assuming the gas stations around you have power and gas and even have lines for you to wait in.

Live update: I was looking down at my phone and didn’t notice that the car in front of me had moved up three feet. Someone shouted at me, “Could you move up, please?!”

These are crazy times, folks.

On the upside, it looks like I’m actually going to get gas within the next half hour or so (ugh). And there are apparently 28 million gallons of gas hitting New York today. So we should, theoretically, be back to normal by tomorrow.

Because, if not, so help me…

So remember yesterday when I was all “we’re totes not really affected by the storm, y’all!”?

Well. Spoke just an eense bit too soon.

After I wrote that post, I made my merry way to the nearby grocery store to pick up a few things. We’re not exactly out of food, but we needed a few staples: milk, chicken, eggs, veggies, etc.

The grocery store was open and with power, but apparently that had not always been the case. Every moderately refrigerated shelf had been cleared out. All the milk. All the meat. All the eggs. (There were veggies…one out of four ain’t bad?) It was a little spooky. (Especially if you’ve been watching as much Walking Dead as I have been lately.)

So I returned home largely empty-handed.

But dinner still had to be made. I found a few chicken sausages in the back of the freezer, I had veggies, but I wanted to add a bit more protein and fiber to stretch out what we had.

Then I remembered that I had two bags of freekeh that I’d gotten off the free table at work.

What is freekeh? According to the website, “Freekeh is a process which means “to rub”
in Arabic. Freekeh was created by accident nearly 2,000 years ago when a Middle Eastern village was attacked and their crop of young green wheat was set ablaze. Most folks would sulk over their misfortune, but the crafty villagers rubbed off the chaff, cooked it up and ‘Eureka!’ Freekeh was created.”

Why should you eat it? Because it’s packed with more protein, vitamins, and minerals than other grains. It is low GI, low carb, high in fiber (up to four times the fiber of brown rice) and rich in prebiotic properties. According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, freekeh is excellent for managing diabetes and may diminish the risk of colorectal cancer and diverticulitis.

So…basically it’s really good for you.

PLUS, it’s pretty darn tasty. You pretty much prepare freekeh the same way you would make quinoa or other grains (boil the water/broth, add grain, simmer for 20-25 minutes), and use it the same way you would rice or pasta. Here’s what I made:

Freekeh-ing Good Stir-Fry

1 bag Freekeh (I used the Rosemary Sage flavor, but just about any would do)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1-2 T olive oil
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/2 large white onion, chopped
4 apple chicken sausage, cut into coins
2-3 cups fresh baby spinach
Garlic salt, paprika, cumin, and salt to taste
Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Cook freekeh according to package directions.

2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add bell peppers and onion. Saute for about 7-10 minutes. (Add more olive oil as necessary.)

3. Add chicken sausage and continue to cook for five more minutes.

4. Add fresh spinach and stir until it’s cooked down (about five minutes).

5. Spoon cooked freekeh into bowls. Add chicken-and-veggie mixture. Top with a sprinkling of Parmesan if desired.

6. EAT.

Have you every cooked with freekeh? What did you think?

(And for the record, I am not getting paid to talk about freekeh. I was just pleasantly surprised with how good it was and wanted to share.)