Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Chemical Preservatives Mean Never Having to Say Goodbye

The Hostess company may be gone and Twinkies are now just a cream-filled dream of the past, but I'm here to testify that Wonder Bread is forever, thanks to a ton of chemical preservatives.

In memoriam to Hostess and all of its wonder-filled products, I'm posting a current photo of a slice of embroidered Wonder Bread that is now six years old. It has been sitting out on a shelf and while it could probably benefit from a little dusting, it is no worse for the wear. To see it and other slices when they were new, go to Wonder.

Other cool items in the photo include a vegetable ivory nut (atop the silver candlestick). Vegetable ivory, which comes from one island in the South Pacific, is used to make vegetable ivory buttons, including all US military buttons up through WW II.

There is also a thread cupcake that has been steadily growing over the last year (see Theoretical Cupcakes). To make your own thread cupcake (a supremely satisfying endeavor) simply save all little snippets of thread that you accumulate as you sew various projects, and collect them in a paper cupcake liner. The colors, shape, and density of the cupcake will change over time, but as far as I can tell I can just keep adding snippets of thread forever. I will be dead before this cupcake is done.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Greener-Than-Thou Advent Calendar

The calendar: beautiful little one-of-a-kind boxes in a silver bowl

Though I'm only halfway through this project I thought I'd go ahead and post the how-to instructions now because making an advent calendar is a time-sensitive task. This year's calendar is, as advertised, greener-than-thou and constructed of recycled toilet paper cardboard tubes and bits and scraps from my craft/gift wrap/sewing bin.

Making TP Tubes into Boxes:
Collect used toilet paper tubes and ask friends to save theirs. You may also use paper towel cardboard tubes, cut into thirds.

The new collectible: toilet paper tubes

Bend one edge of tube inward; pinch along the edge to make a crease

Bend opposite edge in same manner

Do the same thing to the other end of the tube

Voila! You now have a little box. Through some miracle of physics or cardboard, the tube ends stay firmly closed until you open them. Now make twenty-five little boxes for each day of December leading up to Christmas. For a variation, you can make eight little boxes for Hanukkah. 

Filling Your Boxes:
Advent calendars are supposed to have something inside them. That's the whole point. Stuff your boxes with whatever you wish. This year I've leaned heavily on chocolate because the little girl who will be the recipient of this calendar is revealing herself to be a chocolate fiend.

Trader Joe's chocolate coins - just $1.99 buys you more than enough coins to fill all 25 boxes

I also took this opportunity to rid myself of a nifty flea market find I've had around the house for years — a partial Noah's Ark set that includes Noah and about six animals, all made of ceramic in outsider art style. Go with the spirit of recycling and look around your house to see what you'd like to get rid of that might delight someone else if discovered in an advent calendar box.

Ceramic camel and large chocolate coin

Flip side of day 20 - this box uses a complete TP roll. For smaller boxes made of half a TP roll, see below.

Decorating Your Boxes:
I have printed out the days of the month on my computer, alternating red and green. I also printed out the same vintage Christmas images I used in a completely different, iron-on version for last year's Spectacular Walnut Advent Calendar.  You can print out your own numbers or simply hand letter them. You may also find lots and lots of vintage Christmas prints online using Google image search. Or you may want to stick to ribbons and bits and scraps.

 Sample Boxes:
Below are the boxes I've completed so far. If you'd like to make a similar calendar this year, it's time you got started.

Tinier boxes, each made from half of a toilet paper roll

The flip side
Note in the examples above and below, the deconrations on the flip side of the boxes are different from the front, which doubles the fun.

Days 3 and 10

Flip side of 3 and 10

A trio of little boxes

Flip side of trio

Days 2 and 17

Flip side of 2 and 17

Days 6 and 11

Flip side of days 6 and 11

Day 15

Flip side of day 15

Thirteen down, twelve to go. This first half took just one evening while watching a Netflix disc of The Walking Dead (I need something to do with my hands when watching horror films).  The point is, with scissors, glue, and piles of bits and pieces in front of you, this doesn't take very much time.

For more over-the-top advent calendars see Advent Calendar Haute Couture and the Spectacular Walnut Advent Calendar.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fabulous Flu Masks

It's flu season again. For decades folks in Japan have followed the tradition of sporting surgical masks during flu season to reduce chances of becoming infected or infecting others. With periodic reports of H1N1 virus outbreaks and predictions of an eventual super flu that will threaten the well being of the human race, it's time we all considered following suit. In fact, the wearing of flu masks has proliferated in Japan among young people and is now more than a response to potential illness. Experts feel that a new trend among Japanese teenagers of wearing surgical masks from dawn to dusk may be due to social media exhaustion, and represents an attempt to hide from social interaction.

Whether facing a run-of-the-mill virus, a full-scale apocalyptic pandemic, or a simple personality disorder, the truly fashion-savvy will focus on how good they look instead of worrying about getting sick, warding off disease, or enervating social interaction. Here at Stuff You Can't Have, our line of false products now features a full array of one-of-a-kind, artfully designed flu masks.

Mille Flores:
Suitable for attending a ball in Venice during the plague years

Materials: hand-painted silk ribbon, linen, paper flowers

Arabian Nights:
Battling pestilence in style across the desert sands. The lettering on this mask is a quote from the Koran used as part of an ancient Egyptian ritual for exterminating bugs and vermin.

Materials: cotton, iron-on lettering, gold mesh ribbon, black cotton woven ribbon, broken jewelry, Mexican milagros

Heart and lungs milagros

Magica Rojo (red magic):
Inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's story, "The Masque of the Red Death," this mask incorporates a basic magic principle: mirrors will reflect back whatever is directed at them. In this case they reflect back any evil spirits (aka germs), while the scraps of ribbons bind and confuse malevolent spirits.

Materials: linen, mirrors, red silk ribbon, gold mesh ribbon, black lace

Party Time:
The perfect mask for those who scoff at death and prefer to party 'til they drop.

Materials: cotton, wire ribbon, embroidery thread

Mouth opens when mask is worn

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