Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sew What?


 




Sewing is in danger of becoming a lost art.   Perhaps that is too dramatic a statement but home sewing is definitely on the decline.   Fabric stores are a barometer of this and they are few and far between.  Then there's the price of fabrics and notions -- quite expensive.   I suspect it is something to do with the cheap clothes that come from China and similar exporting nations where labour is low cost in the extreme and safety standards lax.     I don't think fabric is imported in the same way that clothing is and there is also the lack of volume to keep the price down.   You can buy a $3 tee shirt but you can't buy the pattern, fabric and thread to make it at even three times the cost.   No wonder women (it is still mainly women who sew) have put down needle and thread and consigned the sewing machine to the attic or basement.

Sewing used to be a full year course in high school although in those days it was only available to girls.   Boys took courses that would have been useful for both sexes like electricity and drafting.   Nevertheless, I recall taking not just the basic course but several optional elective courses in the higher grades.   I learned a lot despite being at the age where school can seem to get in the way of your social life.   But there was the bonus of hopefully sewing a gorgeous dress to attract the boy across the aisle you had your eye on.   I should mention that at this time, difficult to believe now, girls were not allowed to wear pants or shorts to school.  Strictly dresses or skirts.

Later on, I liked the uniqueness of sewing.   No one else ever had quite the same item of clothing and there was the ability for the skilled to custom fit and get around height or measurement aberrations from the standard lines.    Sewing for children can be rewarding as small amounts of fabric is needed and your children never complain about the results.

Today, you would be hard pressed to sew your own dress for less than $50, taking into account pattern, notions and fabric.   You might save by re-using a basic pattern  and trying to get everything on sale but there is always the risk that the whole thing becomes unwearable.   A sewer (or sewist as I have heard it called) is not being honest if they don't confess to their share of wadders -- you know, those items that you wad together in frustration and stuff to the back of your closest with a plan to somehow salvage something out of what turned out to be a hopeless mess.


Here's an example from a store called Uniqlo (prices in USD).   I have never shopped at this store so this is not an endorsement.   I found it through another interesting fashion type blog The Vivienne Files. Uniqlo features this cotton/linen summer dress for about $20.






Do you sew?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

PRICING

   




I am what I have read is called a pescatarian.   Sounds vaguely religious, doesn't it?   But no, this word means that I am a vegetarian but also eat fish and seafood.   Some people wouldn't call this vegetarian at all but as I am wont to say, to each her own.    I can see the ocean through my living room window on the west coast of Canada but I have a feeling that the price of fish or seafood  here is the same in the Canadian Prairies or American mid-west.   In other words, expensive.

When food products are priced by the hundred grams, consider it a warning:   It is expensive.   A hundred grams is not very much;   in non-metric measure it is 3.5 ounces.  (Remember, a pound is 16 ounces.).    Southwestern British Columbia is one of the top salmon fishing regions of the world.  Read more here.    Local supermarkets have been running ads about their great salmon prices, bragging about $2.49 per 100 grams for whole salmon with head and tail cut off.     But somehow this translates to a 30 cm (or 12 inch) piece of salmon costing $36.   Yikes.  This would be more than a sirloin tip roast beef would cost and the animals that provide that have to be raised, fed, vetted and otherwise dealt with.   I venture to speculate that the fisherman (or woman) who caught the salmon  received nowhere near that price.

   



A relative explained how he overcame this problem.   Driving to the Steveston neighbourhood, which is part of the Greater Vancouver region in Richmond specifically, he headed straight for the docks at a time when the commercial fishing season was open.    There, shrewd negotiator that he is, he arranged with a fisherman coming in to buy 15 large salmon for $10 each.   Now the fish are not cleaned in any way so he had a job ahead of him but I was told that you get used to it and the task is not difficult.   He ended up with enough salmon in his freezer for a long time less the half of one my copious praise engendered me.

In the case of salmon, as with many other things, try to bypass the middleman.   Get a group together, go on a fishing expedition or head to the docks.    I like to watch the live bear cam this time of year, from a remote location in Alaska.   The bears sit at the bottom of a small waterfall as the salmon attempt to leap over it.   Easy pickings for the bears.   Five minutes of watching features dozens of salmon leaping.   I had to stop shouting, "There's another $36," after family members complained.

I go on a cruise once a year where seafood and salmon galore is included in the price.   I practise delayed gratification when I get the urge for it.   It works -- usually.    After all, buying one salmon a month at $36 will cost you $432 a year.   Almost enough for:


Y6C: 6-DAY YUKON




SHIP: ms Nieuw Amsterdam
DEPARTS: Vancouver, B.C., CA
ARRIVES: Whitehorse, Yukon

From
CA$497
per person Interior

Sunday, 16 July 2017

DO WITHOUT

This is the final instalment of the four part series revisiting the World War II motto of:

                     

 




Do Without has a grim sound, evoking visions of deprivation, hardship, denial and general misery.  You're hungry, your clothes are threadbare, and entertainment consists of watching the dandelions grow.    Relax, that is not what is meant by doing without, at least not here.   Instead of doing without think of choosing differently.   That sounds better, doesn't it?    Choose not to clutter your home with unattractive clutter.    Choose to buy quality items that you will keep for a long time gladly.   Choose to focus on the priorities you have decided bring meaning to your life.

What you are really doing without is that desperate feeling of being of debt, of being at the mercy of payday loans, of realizing that things you paid top dollar for would only garner ten percent of that value when you try to sell them on eBay or Craigslist.   


Part of the Stop Budgeting, Start Dreaming manifesto means you allow a certain amount for small splurges.   Allow a certain amount each month that you spend once every 30 days or save up for a grand extravaganza.   Be reasonable when you set the amount.   Two dollars a month will barely buy you an ice cream.   Can you squeeze $20 to $30 out of your earnings?   You may feel fine doing without daily bought coffees and  weekly movie tickets if you let yourself indulge once a month.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

MAKE IT DO


                                     


Making something work for a function other than what it was designed for, in other words making do, requires ingenuity and creativity.   Who doesn't want to have these attributes?  You consider the function of the product you think you need to buy and then investigate/consider/ponder how you can achieve that with what you already own. Some products like vinegar and mason jars lend themselves to multiple uses.  Just Google Pinterest for vinegar uses or mason jars to be amazed . . . and distracted.  You may find that you stop whatever useful and necessary task you are performing, like cooking dinner, to try to etch the mason jar glass in a decorative manner.   Who knew you could do that?

Making do also means finding ways to work with what you have.   A toaster oven may not be ideal for toasting your bread in the morning but it also does many other things whereas a toaster only toasts bread.   Especially do what you can to avoid buying items for one time use.   Cast about your friends and relations for extra dishes, pots and pans for that once a year family extravaganza that you offered to host in a moment of weakness.   Everyone is so glad you're doing it that the will be pleased to  lend some cutlery to you and assuage their guilt.

Women used to share maternity clothes and some still do.  Surprising in a way,  considering that in the days of large families you would get substantial use of  these garments.   If you prefer not to share clothing, what about items like extra long ladders for cleaning gutters outside, hedge trimmers used maybe once a month in season, power washers used when you paint the deck every five years and maybe once a year to clean the driveway.   Does every family on your block or every member of your extended family need their own supply?   I suppose there could be disagreements if one person manages to  spill a can of paint over the power washer rendering it inoperable.   There is a risk this could become a family legend repeated at reunions down the decades to the chagrin of the descendants.    


      

The Daily Connoisseur recommends a ten item wardrobe (with some extras) of high quality, carefully chosen clothing.   It's easier to make it do if everything you own Sparks Joy  a la Marie Kondo.

Focus on multi-purpose, multi-use items when possible.    You won't mind paying for good quality when you know something will be used in many ways for many years. 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

WEAR IT OUT


               

When was the last time you wore something out?   I wore out a pair of slippers recently but I must confess that part of the reason was that I couldn't find a similar substitute.   I should add the phrase, ' at a price I wanted to pay'.   The original ones had been a Christmas gift from a few years earlier and they now sported holes in the footbed and the sole was coming apart.   I could replace them with no feelings of guilt and feel satisfied they had served me well.   Even if I hadn't paid for them originally, I had received my money's worth.   

I once chided my daughter for spending more on a strapless evening gown that would be fortunate to be worn twice than the winter coat that would be worn almost daily for eight months and hopefully for at least five years.    Evening gowns are so glamorous, so fun to shop for and can transport the wearer to fantasies that cannot be matched by a study woolen coat.    Well, you're only young once and if a dress can make you feel like Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe and, better still, make you somewhat resemble the movie icon even I would have to say 'Go for it!" At least once in your youth . . . just don't make it a habit.    But skip the two dogs;  they would cost more in the long run.  (Say I with two dogs!)






But, back to my slippers, I bought a new pair on-line that resembled my old favourites but, alas, were not of the same fit, support or quality.  Where my gifted slippers had cost $40, the unsatisfactory replacements had only set me back $12.   There was a time when $12 bought a good pair of slippers but things change.  What I should have done was waited for my favoured brand to go on sale--everything goes on sale sometime, right?    After my experience I would leap at paying $25.   This time, I bookmark the name and brand of slipper and search weekly.   I suspect there are apps that do that for you with less effort.   

The moral of the WEAR IT OUT mantra is that you will only truly get use and wear something out with the satisfaction that you have had your money's worth, if it was good quality to start with.   There is no pleasure in a T shirt that turns shapeless and sports small holes after two washes.  When you find a company, a product that encapsulates those elusive qualities of good construction and excellent materials, you will likely be happy with your purchase . . . for a long time.   By avoiding materials with micro beads or microfibres you'll also be helping the environment.

With both fashion and furniture, classic lines and colours will likely please you longer than one season wonders.   Although I've noticed that gaucho pants, which suit few women, make regular re-appearances.