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Most Recently: A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Solid Perfume

I tweet here. phd student by day, DIY junkie by night.

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Solid Perfume

I think the first American Girl book I read as a child was Meet Samantha (the cover was a thousand times better than the illustration they’re currently using on Amazon), and it got me hooked on two things: American Girl books and lockets. Every monthly book order was whichever new American Girl books were available, and every birthday/Christmas present was, it seems, judging from the surplus of them in my jewelry boxes, a locket. READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: The Plant as Stocking Stuffer

We’re now in the gift-giving crunch zone: whatever the holiday in your life, the countdown has begun. If you’re normal — and I’m using myself as the, er, standard — you're nowhere close to finishing shopping for your nearest and dearest, let alone the in-laws and occasional brunch partners in your life. Another thing that’s true if you’re normal: watching those people unwrap lots and lots of presents, no matter what their size, is one of the highlights of the season. This makes me a big fan of stocking stuffers, especially neat little DIY ones. READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Very, Very Serious Ornaments

Last week’s post on how to decorate your head with glitter was possibly a tipoff that I really like glitter. A lot. (And so do you guys, if Pinterest is any indication of what Hairpinners like.) It should come as no surprise, then, that upon getting my first REAL tree as an adult, I promptly turned it into a disco ball. And when that wasn’t enough of a glitter fix, a snow globe was the natural next project. READ MORE

A Femme’s Guide to Improvement: Arm Candy and Too Much Glitter

The first holiday party of the season already happened and I was totally unprepared because, you guys, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. That’s no reason to not get totally festive, though, at least not in my book. (My book is one of those sticker ones for toddlers, with a lot of glitter and wordsearches, and an appendix of cocktail recipes.) If you’re not decked out in silk or velvet at least once a week throughout December (and part of November), you’re doing it wrong.  Trouble is, if you’re a lady of limited resources, it can be hard to pull together enough festive outfits for every occasion on your social calendar, given that you’ll see the same twenty people over and over again and don’t want to look predictable.  My solution: accessorize. Cheaply. Preferably in a glittery way. Here’s a star headband that costs about $3 to make, and some candy-cane inspired bracelets you can stack up on your arms for less than $10. READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Make a Blouse!

So I got an email from Jane last week, linking to this top: “The one I tried on was shorter and not sheer. Can you show us how to make it? It looks SO beautiful on and it's a fucking square with a hole in it, that's it. A square folded in half, a neck hole cut out, and two short seams on the sides to hold it in place. Does that make sense? UGH! Why is it three hundred dollars!?!” READ MORE

Ask a Handy Femme About Unplungeable Toilets

The toilet is unplungeable. What do I do?* READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Flower Ghosts & Felt Sleeves

Y’all. I’m on some kind of crazy décor kick right now, even though it’s not nesting season, which according to my very arbitrary internal clock is January-March or whenever winter wanes. Next week’s project will be drywall repair and things’ll be properly gay and there will be power tools and sandpaper and all that jazz, but right now the temptation to make a wool cocoon is almost overwhelming. Almost, but these two quick, easy, and very cheap projects gave me a fix. Wool flowers and felted wool iPhone/Pad/tablet sleeves! READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Fabric-Covered Walls

By now, my little Nillionaires, you may have read all about Edna Woolman Chase’s Always in Vogue. Fun fact: Vogue’s only Quaker, budget-conscious editor didn’t only leave us with cheap wardrobe tricks. We get decorating tips too, because, hey! Guess what? One of her BFFs was Elsie de Wolfe, Lady Mendl, the first interior designer as we know the profession. No biggie. READ MORE

Always in Vogue, an Excerpt With Commentary

Edna Woolman Chase was Vogue’s first editrix (though not, alas, editor), running the magazine from 1914 to 1952. She started as an editorial assistant in 1895. That’s the Turn of the Century, World War I, the Great Depression, WWII, and then some. She published her autobiography, Always in Vogue, in 1954, and, among its many gems, it includes this “code on how to attain smartness” (commentary mine): READ MORE

A Femme's Guide to Improvement: Advanced Finger Painting

This week's nerd confession is that I spent at least one morning a week in a pottery studio for seven years of my youth. My teacher was an ancient, very serious lady named Naoma, and she ran a school called Access Arts first out of her home, then at an annex full of clay and kilns and wheels and canvas-covered tables.  If you’ve never pounded the hell out of a piece of clay, you don’t know what you’re missing. READ MORE