Heading into the homestretch here at the Year of No New Threads HQ. September was gentle on me, with only a few thrift store scores (winter white sweater vest from the early ’70s? Yes, please.) and some handmade, second-life-vintage jewelry (!) by Portland-based designer Anna Korte — read all about her.

Still nothing non-used or handmade, as per the original pledge, but I’m finding that, as I settle into the nix on the new, I’m not really drawn to off-the-rack things anyhow. So is this challenge really a challenge?

True that, pre-Year of New New Threads, I was known to spend some dough at Nordstrom Rack, or even the scary Ross in downtown Seattle. But those are the red-headed stepchildren of retail, right? In reality, I much more comfortable shopping for a castoff (with a super-slashed price and a touch of character) than for the window-pants at Ann Taylor.

What gives?

It’s the Year of No New Threads!

The Pledge1 Mo. Down2 Mos. Down3 Mos. Down4 Mos. Down5 Mos. Down6 Mos. Down7 Mos. Down8 Mos. Down

DIY Dino Wreath

September 29, 2008

It’s craft central at the Living Small house these days. I’ve been feeling the drive to DIY (oncoming autumn, maybe?); here’s the latest creation:

I call it the Dino Wreath. Clever, yes? In any case, if you’re bonkers for brontosauri, here’s the Patented Living Small Do It Yourself Dino Wreath Guide. Note: This project has a difficulty rating of SUPER EASY.


  • Wreath form. Mine is some kind of wickery substance, found for a half-dollar at the thrift shop. Secondhand shops are magnets for wreath forms. Go there first. Mine is painted white, but feel free to choose whatever color/finish suits your taste.
  • Plastic dinos. Or army guys, or doll heads, or Matchbox cars — whatever weird focal point you’re into today. Because my wreath was kind of small (about 10 inches in diameter), I picked up a pair of dinosaurs. Of course, Value Village only had two “in stock,” so my limited choice metamorphosed into dino wreath perfection.
  • Beads, charms, goofy baubles — basically, any embellishments you’d like to add. I’ve developed ridiculous symbolism for each of the extras on my wreath. Have fun playing humanities teacher and imbue your beads with special meaning.
  • Beading wire. 20 gauge should do. For the two-dino design, you’ll need about a foot, though a little extra never hurt anyone who was prone to making and remaking. (Who, me?) Wire cutters are also necessary, but no need to buy specialty ones from the bead store, lest you’re going to start making jewelry. Most sets of needle nose pliers have built in wire cutters, and we all know that everyone should have a pair of needle nose pliers for the good of the order.
  • Vegetation. I picked a few branches of rosemary off the bush in front of my house. Smells good, looks prehistoric. Ferns also are an excellent choice. Both veritably scream Triassic.


Now for the fun part! First, place your items on the wreath. Move them around, change their position. Figure out where you’d like them to hang. It is especially helpful to leave convention aside for this portion of the operation. DIY, not DI–like-Williams-Sonoma, capice?

Next, start wiring. Wrap a length of wire through the wreath, then around your dinosaur. Wrap around feet, necks, tails — anyplace that will secure your mastodon to the form. You can use your needle nose pliers to help tighten the wire around said feet/necks/tails. Thread wire through your beads and charms, and wire as with the dinos.

Add your veg. Just stick the greenery in and around the embellishments. No need to secure; the plants should stick, so long as they are wedged into the wreath well enough.

Finally, hang it up. Take snapshots. Mail them to your mom, and, if you want, to Jeff Goldblum, in honor of his portrayal of Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. He’ll love them, I’m sure.

What have you been crafting lately?

So you want to sell your car?

September 25, 2008

High-flying toast to the RowdyKitten, who posted some fine links on living a car-free lifestyle. If you’re waffling on whether to sell your wheels, give these a read.

As city dwellers, we Living Smallers have it easy; living without a car has been ultra-simple (Note: special thanks to those who have given us rides late at night when we are laden with heavies, like jack-o-lanterns, for instance). Our proximity to all kinds of amenities — check out our Walk Score! — keeps us kicking pavement, and the bus system gives us a host of mass transit options when the weather turns tempestuous, or when we have a long way to go.

Needless to say, parting with the car may not be as quick and dirty for those who live in suburban or rural communities. In those cases, however, bikes are an option, as are scooters, which use far less petroleum than automobiles.

Anybody out there living small (transportation-wise) in a small town? Anyone going completely carless?

And you thought your buffalo figurine had only one purpose. My new bovine buddy, snagged for a quarter at a friend’s candlelight yard sale (long story), is not only good for looks — he is now set up in the WC to hold my wedding ring and hair elastics!

Because I’ve been drawn to ceramic animals of late, I’ve been forced to finagle second uses from their generally one-shot wondrousness. The buffalo functions well as a station for round objects; can’t say so much for the 8-inch-tall, caramel-colored sea monster that my Sweetie found at thrift town, though it does make a killer centerpiece. It is hollow, so perhaps I could stash a tiny bottle of liquor in it, à la the wino side table or a miniature shebeen.

What’s your second use show and tell?

WHO: Mats Theselius of Arvesund Trädesign

WHERE: Sweden

WHAT: The ultimate hermit cabin

SIZE: Original: 86 square feet; Large: 108 square feet

Skol, hermits!

Want a backyard (or backwoods) hideaway, made green with reclaimed wood from dilapidated Swedish barns? Then hie thee hence to Arvesund online, where you can grab yourself a piece of Scandinavia via the Hermit’s Cabin, an all-weather “room for retreat and stillness.” Pick up the Original model, made for one, or the Large version, designed for a cozy pair.

Since 2001, Arvesund has been building these Walter Huston-worthy bungalows all over the world. Just add a wood stove, some Mission-style furnishings and frontiery pelts, and a gold panning operation, and you’re set. In all (well, some) seriousness, the Ozarks look could be great on a piece of country property; a handful of Hermit’s Cabins could make for a sweet guesthaus collective — and a great place to rusticate.

Via TreeHugger.