Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Population Time Bomb--The 2 Child Trap.

The underlying problem of aging population is a UNIVERSAL TIME BOMB. Currently we have an ideal model of >2 children per couple(less than the actual replacement level of 2.1 children per couple) and that seems like the way to reduce population but that model has some huge problems over a period of 60-80 years.

The Experiment:

Take a group of 100 couples and place them in a controlled place, give them moderate medical care and then enforce a policy of a maximum of 2 children per family, no exceptions--encourage people to have less children, if they choose. Average age is 20 years old.

In 5 years, you would have about 398 people (1 or 2 people would die from natural causes) Worker ratio would be 51% workers to 49% dependents. Think of this period as the US from 1930-1950. Accumulated resources are scarce and people work hard to build infrastructure. Average age is 15 years old-medical costs are the lowest possible.

In 20 years, (third generation) you would have about 588 people(a few more natural deaths+people who never have children). Worker ratio would be nearly 66% workers to 34% dependents. Think of this period as the US from 1950-1970. Most people are working and everyone is prospering. Average age is 22-medical costs are low.

In 40 years(fourth generation) you would have about 768 people, worker ration is at it's highest peak with 76% of the population able to work and 24% dependents. This would be the US between 1980 and 2000. Most people are still working, but many are losing work time to illnesses as the first generation approaches 60 years old, medical costs begin to rise and the first generation looks forward to retirement. More resources are diverted to making retirement possible and comfortable. Average age is rising now at 31 years old and 25% are near 60- medical care cost rise sharply.

In 60 years(fifth generation) you have about 950 people. Worker ratio begins to drop sharply as people retire-59% worker ratio to 31% dependents. 20% of the population is approaching 80 years old, another 20% are age 60, and medical cost rise dramatically. Healthy living combined with moderate medical care means half of the people who survive to 65 years old are expected to live to 88. This is the age we live in now as the Baby Boomers head into retirement. Stress begins to build in the workers and many choose solitude over community.
The birthrate plummets--more workers are watching their future sucked away by excessive taxes and limited opportunity. As many as 25% will take this option and stay single for most, if not all of their lives.

During the next 20 years the population(sixth generation) is around 950(birthrates are not keeping up with replacement) and another 190 people enter retirement age. Worker ratio drops to 53% with 47% dependents. Medical care has risen to all time highs and will stay at this level indefinitely. Quality of life has returned to post-depression years as more and more resources are diverted to medical care. By 2050, retirees will be over 21% of our population. Increased taxes and rising costs of health care have caused many to limited retirement savings--today the average American, age 50, has less than $60,000 in retirement savings--about 2 years worth, barring any increased medical care needs. Compare that $60,000 to the cost of cancer treatment at around $120,000 or a heart by-pass surgery at around $150,000, and you can clearly see how inadequate that amount of savings really is.

At the sixth generation the pattern becomes nearly stable with about 50% of people working, and 50% of the population as dependents. Average age approaches 40 years old. Each worker is required to pay for the care and medical costs of another person besides themselves. Attempts to make the population healthier and productive for a longer period of time will result in a larger, older population. Constant stress of obligations may cause women to put off having children leading to higher incidence of genetic health problems and over all lower fertility. From this point on, 50% of the effort and productivity of the group will be used to care for the elderly and 20% of the population will be directly involved with care for the elderly as Doctors, Nurses, and in manufacturing products needed by the elderly.
Many of these Geriatric Care Providers will be locked into dead-end jobs at less than 50% of the US average income.(1), (2), (3)

Consider these facts when reading news about longer lifespans, new cures, and population control. In reality, every child born today will be the basis for support of the elderly in the future. Cutting population growth without limiting lifespan or imposing delayed retirement will mean that an ever larger part of the population will have to work to support the elderly.

In a "1 Child" scenario, the outcome is drastically worse, especially at the Third or Fourth Generation when the system reaches near equilibrium --each working person is responsible for the care of up to 4.5 non-working people (4 parents and grandparents and 1/2 child) and a married couple will be tasked with the care of an average of 11 people, including themselves. And, once that level is reached, the situation stays that way as the overall population halves each generation. The only foreseeable way out is to spread the load over a greater number of young, productive workers while limiting life-extending practices.
Unfortunately, at this point, it becomes too expensive to have more children and the average birthrate continues to drop until societies are forced to pay women to have children.

Lower birthrates are not going to benefit the human race as long as we insist on making longer lifespans the only ideal worth pursuing. As gloomy as this experiment looks, it is actually much better than the actual numbers projected by most authorities on aging including the World Health Organization, which foresees a much darker future that includes more reliance on slavery(1), (2), (3), and child labor(1), (2), (3) to make up the work force of the coming years. The more workers that are diverted to caring for the aging population, the more societies will rely on children to take over the tasks of food production, especially for goods that are labor intensive such as chocolate, cotton and coffee, as well as low-level manufacturing and assembly jobs. As the population growth slows, the demand for slaves and children to fill these roles will soar and kidnapping for slave trafficking will become common place. All under supervised children and unattached adults may be subject to the influences of the slave trade. Many legal jobs already have such low wages that the workers become virtual slaves, even traditionally well paid jobs will no longer pay enough to repay the cost of education.

Recent efforts by Western Nations to stop child labor have actually backfired in that Third World employers who are caught with child laborers have dismissed or even killed child employees to cover up their crimes. Children dismissed from these jobs are considered unsuitable for other employment and resort to prostitution or begging. Many younger children, primarily girls, simply starve to death in the absence of a simple labor job-they are never reintegrated with their families. (UniCef)

The future is coming and we have already borrowed so much against it that there will be little, if anything left for our children or grandchildren. This current generation's greed for leisure, comfort and long life is dooming all the children that will follow into a life of servitude to support the people who have outlived their ability or inclination to contribute to society.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Recycle Fabric to Save Bucks!

Re: How do I recycle clothing?

1) Cleaning rags. Use the soft items to make into cleaning clothes. I make mine about 12x12 and stuff them into a bag to keep them neat. I also moved my paper towel dispenser to the inside of the cabinet where I keep the rags. This reminds me to use the rags instead of paper towels whenever possible.

2) Save the seams and sew them into a long strip. Then crochet or knit the strips into rag rugs. You can use polyester scraps but try to keep the cotton at least 75% of the rug so it is absorbent.

3) Cut old jeans and make shopping bags, car seat covers, furniture throws and pet beds. These sell very well at Farmer's Markets and Street Fairs.

4) Cut down on kitchen cleaning by covering all your counter top appliances with individual "cozies". When the covers look dingy, toss them in the wash.

5) Cotton prints make beautiful patchwork quilts. Make the quilt in 2x2 foot blocks and work on them while watching TV or during waiting time.

6) Use fabric blocks to sew book covers in assorted sizes to protect books from spills and hand oils. Even paperbacks benefit from having a book cover while you are reading it.

7) Use bright scraps to add embellishments to other clothing. Add a tiny faux pocket to a plain sweater or a bright red collar to a black shirt. Add fancy patches to jeans to cover stains!

8) Sew funny teeshirts into pillows for the floor or sofa.

9) Recycle lacy lingerie into sachets stuffed with potpourri to keep linen closets and drawers smelling nice.

10) Keep a bag of rags in your car in case you have to change a tire or need a little traction in the snow.

11) Make your own hot pads, trivets and oven mitts from scraps.

-Vic in Seattle

Monday, October 19, 2009

How Much Does It Cost 2009

Take a stroll through WalMart or a Dollar Store and look at all the tons of cheap consumer goods available. Cheap toys, cheap clothes, cheap kitchen wares and cheap electronics. How can anyone produce a snow globe and sell it for $1.00? How can anyone produce an AM/FM radio for $4.99 or a DVD player for $29.00?? The reason these goods can get to the store at such low prices is by practice of "Externalizing Costs". Companies move their manufacturing to Third World countries to take advantage of cheap labor and lax manufacturing rules.

For example, if your company produces a product that causes large amounts of dioxin to be released as part of it's process then it is much cheaper to move to a country that allows the dioxin to be released freely than it would be to work in a country that demands that the dioxin be recovered and processes to limit toxicity. This is why most plastics used in electronics are created and molded in Mexico, China and India.

If your company want to sell cheap handmade quilts or rugs, then you set up your manufacturing plant in a country that has a labor force available with no governmental demands of real wages or worker safety. Pakistan and Turkey have been perfect for this because orphanages in these countries are overcrowded and so underfunded that they have become self supporting private businesses. Orphans have no protection under the law and can be made to work long hours for food and shelter only.

Next time you run out to WalMart to get cheap stuff, ask yourself how much it really costs.

7 Real Costs that are not included in the Price of Consumer Goods.

1) Pollution at the site of the materials origin. Water, air and ground pollution as a direct result of mining and plastics manufacturing and refining. Thousands of families are exposed to toxic levels of lead.(2)

2) Work force health and safety. Exposure to mutigenic chemicals affect generations of humans exposed to chemical processing without regard to future complications. Underage workers literally worked to death without any legal protection. Workers killed by exposure, heatstroke and neglect. (1)

3) Landfill space and illegal dumping. Manufacturing processes cause huge wastes that must be landfilled for centuries or more commonly, just left where they are dropped.

4) Loss of wildlife habitat in areas surrounding manufacturing centers. Huge swaths of land are lost to pollution surrounding manufacturing plants. In many cases, this land will take hundreds or thousands of years to recover.

5) Immoral Energy Production. Third world manufacturing plants burn plastic waste products to create electricity and heat for use in their manufacturing plants. Tons of waste are pumped into the air without any attempt to clean the smoke.

6) End of cycle disposal. Once a gadget is done being used it must be disposed of and possibly recycled by poorly paid workers who are once again exposed to all kinds of nasty chemicals. (1)

7) Child Labor. Children, ages 5 to 14, are forced into the labor market as cheap labor to do repetitive and toxic jobs shunned by adults. These children are often chained to their work stations and routinely starved until they can't work anymore. Then, they are turned out to die on the street. Many of these children have been stolen from their families but most are sold or rented out by their parents for cash. (1) (2) This isn't confined to 3rd world countries. In the US, children work at dangerous jobs without access to schooling, all to keep prices down.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Work Habit: Rabbit or Turtle?

Something that is slowly being lost and may never be recovered: The Work Habit.

We can all think of a person we know who gets up at 5:30 am and gets to their job at 7, works all day, every day. Or, someone we know, starts work at 8pm and works the night shift. How do they do it? How do they avoid the drinking at night that makes them oversleep in the morning or stay clean all day so that they can go to work in the evening? How do they do it everyday, for years?

The answer is The Work Habit. Some people(more in earlier generations than we see now) leave school and go directly to their career. They have had a habit of keeping regular hours for years and they continue that. These people become the backbone of the workforce. Even though they may have less education and tend to be unimaginative, they get promoted because they are dependable. The Work Habit serves them well, in place of the traits that might make them more productive workers(like the rabbit and the turtle). These people are the turtles and they usually win the race.

What has happened in the last generation is that we have favored the rabbits, the academic stars who "have it all". They accumulate a ton of education, get praised for innovation, and excel early in life because their natural tendencies give them an advantage in our dumbed-down education system. Most college classes start at 10am and if one is missed, its no big deal. If they miss too much, they can make it up with "extra credit" done on their own time schedule. Rabbit learn how to game the system but they fail to learn the Work Habit.

After school is done, reality comes to visit: employers expect people to show up on time, everyday. There is no "extra credit" in the workplace. If a person had trouble making it to a 10am class on time, starting work at 7am is going to be very hard. If a person is accustomed to putting off projects until the last minute and then depending on the grading curve, deadlines are going to be very hard to meet. Despite an excellent education, the rabbits fall behind in the real world because they never learned to embrace the basic Habits that make a good worker.

Employers can sort the turtles with the Work Habit from the rabbits that lack the Work Habit and tend to choose the turtles as employees. We see it all the time--young people with great educations who can't get a job.

The signs are always there for the employer to see:

The rabbit shows up last(maybe even a few minutes late), with a cup of coffee--this person chose a stop at the coffee shop over showing up to an appointment early. The turtles showed up for their interviews 10 or even 30 minutes early.

Rabbits have had heavy class schedules and also have huge education debts. Turtles have the minimum requirements, plus internships and have worked all during college. They tend to have much lower debts.

The rabbit has a flashy resume that is heavy on academics but light on experience and recommendations. The turtle has an industry standard resume that exactly meets the expectations of the interviewer and is heavy on experience and recommendations.

The rabbit knows the industry he is interviewing for and can impress the interviewer with past projects and accomplishments. The turtle knows the company he is interviewing for and will impress the interviewer with company-specific information. Rabbits show up for interviews. Turtles prepare for interviews.

The rabbit is time conscious(he may have another interview the same day or other plans after the interview.) The turtle devotes all of his attention to the interview as if he knows he will be hired.

After the interview, the rabbit moves on to his next interview. The turtle follows up(maybe 2 or 3 times) and knows who to talk to when he calls to check on the hiring process. The turtle may even continue to follow up even after the job is filled to try for the next opening with the company or in case the first hire doesn't work out.

Rabbits jump from interview to interview. Turtles get hired.

All of the things that make the Rabbit excel in school; being faster, being smarter and being able to change directions on the run, fail in real life.

All of the things that help the Turtle finish school; showing up on time, every time, finishing projects, following through with plans, and planning ahead, favor the turtle in real life.

Show me a recent grad who has had 10 interviews and no offers--Rabbit. This is also the person who, while being unemployed, stays up late, gets up late and has no direction other than showing up for interviews. This person doesn't even attempt to create a Work Habit to help him be a better employee.

Show me a recent grad who had 3 interviews and is working--Turtle. This person works at getting a job, gets up at the same time everyday, limits late nights, volunteers while he is waiting to interview and keeps in touch with the people who can get him a job. This person creates and maintains the Work Habit which will make him an excellent employee in the future.

Tips to getting a job

Whole books are written about how to get a job, many of them leave out the basics:

Teach yourself the Work Habit by establishing regular work hours in your life. Get up and go to bed on a regular schedule. Be ready for work during regular work hours. Continue honing your work skills while unemployed.

Research the companies that you want to work for and focus on a few: Refine your goals from, "I want to be a Programmer", to "I want to be a Microsoft Programmer." Hone your resume to appeal to the company you want to work for.

Refocus your resume to address the company you interview with.
Learn about the company before the interview.
Show up early, ready to work.
Wear clothes that are appropriate to work in, as if you will start working directly after the interview.
Do not schedule any other appointment for the day of the interview.
Do not look at the clock like you have someplace better to be in 5 minutes.
Leave your phone at home, in the car or turn it off as soon as you enter the place you will have the interview.
Bring only what you need for the interview, no coffee, no toys, no other distractions.
If you don't really want to work for the company, don't schedule an interview and waste the interviewer's time.
Follow up within 24 hours of the interview.
When it is apparent that someone else got the job, inquire about internships and other job openings within the company.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sew Frugal--Having a sewing machine on hand can save big bucks! Tips to Buying a Cheap Used Sewing Machine.

A sewing machine is quietly reappearing in American homes as frugal folks try to stretch more use out of their clothing as well as tackle craft projects rather than forking out more money for home decor. New machines cost $150 or more and may be more of an investment than you are willing to make on an item you will need to learn to use. One alternative is to find a serviceable used machine. Used sewing machines seem to be everywhere but getting one that will actually work may be a little tougher. I recently replaced my 2005 EuroPro machine with a 1965 Brother Sewing Machine and as far as these machines go, I couldn't be happier!

First of all decide what you would like to be able to do.

Making repairs or altering clothing, or making simple home items like curtains really only requires a "zig-zag" sewing machine. These have been available since around the time of Moses and are the most common used machine available. Machines built prior to 1980 =/- are usually less complicated and tougher. This is what prompted me to replace my new machine with an older one. 3 layers of denim brought my EuroPro to a permanent stand-still, but my 1965 Brother will sew right through the seam on a pair of jeans with ease. On the other hand, the Brother absolutely hates fleece and sheer materials--the thread gets all bunched up and makes a nasty mess but the EuroPro had no problem with those materials(before I tried to use it on the denim--it doesn't sew at all now.)

Making clothing or baby clothes from scratch is possible on a "zig-zag" machine but the additional "free arm" option will make it much easier to get cloth in the right position under the needle. A "free arm" machine has a narrow base under the needle to accommodate sewing around a sleeve. Machines without this feature are called "flat bed" sewing machines. In general, flat-bed machines will be tougher, but free arm machines will be more versatile.

Another type of machine that is a time saver for making clothing is a serger. There are not many of these in the used market but they can be found used at reasonable prices at a Sewing and Vacuum Store or by watching craigslist or similar "for-sale" ads. These machines are much more complicated than 2 thread machines. Either buy one through a shop or make sure it is in perfect working order before you buy it--do not be afraid to ask the seller to show that it is working.

What to look for when buying a used sewing machine:

Mileage doesn't matter much on a sewing machine but respect and care matter a lot. When you look at a used sewing machine look for signs that it has been taken care of. Surface dirt is not a big deal but any signs of rust is a deal breaker. Open the side cover and look at the needle arm--there should be no rust any where.

Turn the hand wheel on the right side. It should move smoothly. If it feels rough or clicks at all as it turns, forget that machine.

Look at what is included with the machine: there should be at least 1 box of accessories and a users manual. Individual presser feet, light bulbs, a tiny bottle of oil, 2 screw drivers, and other parts should be in the box. Owners who take care of their machines with keep this stuff with the machine and it is a good sign that the machine has been taken care of. Be wary of buying a machine that is missing the accessories--plus the spare feet to make button holes and to turn a nice hem are expensive--$5-$50 each--not having them is going to get costly when you need them.

Plug in the machine and turn it on. The light should work--if not, be cautious. I have never had a light burn out, usually the only way to damage one is by dropping the machine.

Try out the power foot pedal--if the machine responds smoothly and has met the other criteria, it is probably going to be a good machine.

To give an idea of how cheaply you can buy a servicable machine: I bought my Brother in a cabinet, with 2 boxes of original accessories and a dozen extra bobbins for $15.00.

Advice to people who may be new to sewing:

Read the book. Take your time. Oil the machine according to the guide in the book. Try a couple of little projects(potholders are a good start!)

Find your local Sewing Machine Service Center and get your machine tuned up if needed. Every fabric & crafts store will be able to tell you who fixes and maintains sewing machines in your area.

Is it worth it to use a sewing machine? Generally, yes.

Hem pants at home or pay $8.00 to have it done.

Sew diapers at home for a buck or two each or buy premade cloth diapers for up to $20 each.

Make a potholder for $0 or buy a new one for $5.

Once you get used to having a sewing machine around, you really won't know how you got by without one.

BTW, if you ever have to give a wedding gift or shower gift, a sewing machine will knock their socks off!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Frugal Halloween Costumes Start With Sweats & Tees!

There are many commercial costumes available at the local stores, however between the cost, and lack of imagination, and the fact you end up with a half dozen kids all looking the same at a party. Nothing beats homemade. Below is some basic ideas for you to play with. All are cheap, easy, and allow for tons of imagination.

Frugal Plan Ahead TIP: Use new or old sweat clothes or tee shirts with contact paper decorations Plain white contact paper can be decorated to the theme or use colored contact paper.
After the event, peel off the contact paper. No Mess and No Damage.

Price Is Right Contestant: Paste some white numbers to a rectangle of green cardboard and add a strap to hang it around your neck. Add a paper name tag and act really excited to be playing!

Alvin(of the Chipmunks): Pin a big yellow "A" to the front of a huge red sweatshirt. Add a red baseball cap and sing loud and bad!

Star Trek Red-Shirt Guy: Use a red sweat shirt with black tape to make the classic designs. A little foil and a safety pin for a communicator badge and be sure to disappear from the action after the first scene!

The old stand by a Ghost: Grab a old white sheet, cut out the eyes. Be sure its is short enough not to trip you. Take scrap piece of sheet, and sew up a simple treat bag.

Why be the same old plain ghost? A ghost going out in public might like to get dressed up a little. Use the same old white sheet, cut out holes for the eyes and a small slit for the mouth. Then dress it up a little. Put eye shadow and lashes around the eyes. Lipstick for the mouth. Put a little color on the cheeks. How about earrings and a necklace ? You could color in a beard or mustache. Use something besides just a white sheet to be a little more fancy

Clown: Sweat clothes that are too large. Decorate by using either fabric paint, or markers or use contact paper for colors that are removable. For those who dare try tie-die. Tack on some large pop-poms, add a cheap wig, hat, and make-up. You may also stuff the extra space in clothing with tissue. However this could be messy, if you need to make a "pit-stop".

Scarecrow: Over sized flannel shirt, faded blue jeans with patches, rope for belt and to tie at the cuffs of his jeans and sleeves, stuff the shirt and jeans with plastic grocery, or paper, a little bit of straw (or shredded brown plastic bags) to hang out of jeans and shirt. Add a little bit of make-up.

The American tourist: Guys loud Hawaii shirt, shorts (if weather permits), Large straw hat. Gals bright loud dress, flats, big sun hat, straw bag. Don't forget to have a camera, and maps hanging out, and that look of being lost. Guys can use a tourist bag, (like you get from travel agents, and gals can use the straw bag for their treats.

1960s Hippy: This one is hard, after all its all back in style! What is real, and what is costume? ;-) Tie die clothing, long wig (in the old days we called a "fall", sandals, headband, anything with fringe on it (vests, purse...) light colored sun glasses. Add an overwhellming amount of patchuly oil or sandlewood oil, if you dare!

Old man: Dark pants (cuffed), and jacket, most any dress shirt, man's flannel hat, walking cane. Gray the hair, with any of the commercial temporary colors, or dust with a little flour.

Old woman: Old style dress, just below knee, knee-hi stockings rolled down a little, oxfords, large black purse.

Your chance to be a real nerd. Slick back the hair, grab some pants that are too short, white shirt, white socks, penny loafers, or lace up oxfords, pocket protector, with lots of pens, dark rim glasses (don't forget to tape the corner, or at least paper clip it) briefcase, or backpack for treat bag.

Japanese Doll: My daughter won with this costume! Her face was painted white, she had red rosy cheeks all shaped in a circle, Hair in buns, thong slippers, and a kimono(chinese dress)

Miss. America: Use a old bridesmaid dress of formal, add a pair of gloves, a tiara, some oversized jewelry, and heals. For the banner, a piece of wide ribbon, and write "Miss. America" in glitter.

Soda pop can: Use a round barrel, cut a hole in the bottom. You cut holes for arms and your head. Paint it the colors of a pop can. Presto! You have a pop can!!!

Static Cling: Wear anything a solid color is good all white or all black. With safety
pins pin anything to yourself i:e: socks, underware, bounce sheets, etc. You can also spray your hair straight up in the air. From: Maria

1950’s “Sock-Hopper”: It’s quite simple, just a round skirt, a white short-sleeved shirt, and some saddle shoes. (If you don’t have saddle shoes, plain buckle shoes are fine.) You could add some cat-eye glasses if you want. Tie their hair in a ponytail, and wrap a scarf around it.

Mummy: Wrap yourself in white bandages (rolls of gauze) Use splotches of green paint for "mold". Use white make-up on face with "age lines" drawn on. The stiff-legged gait works perfectly. Quasimodo the Hunchback of Notre Dame: Build the "hunchback" out of foam or cardboard. Find an old coat several sizes too large to accomodate this. Old, ratty clothes are great! Wear a snaggly wig and keep putting hand up to ear and muttering "eh?".

Pirate: Form a fake wooden leg by wrapping one leg in brown felt. Wear sailor pants or jeans with a striped top. Tie a bandana around your head, wear an eye patch, carry an empty bottle marked XXX (for the "rum") and mutter "aargh" a lot. Ask for "Trick or treat, matey!"

Crash test dummy - After! There is a commercial costume for this, but a good one can be made with sweats and tape to make the markings on it like the crash test dummies. Use bandages and fake blood to decorate. Fashion a seat belt out of webbing and an old buckle and pin in place. (or go to a junk yard as ask for an old seatbelt).

Train Engineer: A pair of blue jeans, a blue Jean jacket, a red and black bandana. a blue and white engineer hat, a whistle, and play lantern

Mother Nature: Silk flowers and silk plant leaves in a variety of shapes and colours an old skirt and vest, a face mask, twigs (collected from your nearby park or in your own backyard) to make a nest, a foam bird that you can find at any craft store, glue gun and wire or pins. Decorate the vest & skirt with the silk leaves in a random pattern and glue into place. Decorate the skirt with flowers growing out from the leaves already put in place. Use the remaining leaves and small flowers to decorate the face mask. Gather your twigs and secure with wire to make a nest. Place your bird on the twigs and secure into place with the wire. You can add some leaves and peat moss as a filler. The child can wear a dark colored turtleneck and leggings under the vest and skirt for the evening walk to get treats.

Skunk: Black sweats with a white strip of tape or contact paper down the back.. be careful everyone may run!

Bunny: Pink, brown, or white sweats, add a powder puff or large pom-pom to the backside, and a set of ears make from construction paper and a plastic headband. Now just hop on out and enjoy.

Turtle: Green with a piece of poster board attached to the back. Simple cut the poster board into a large oval, make random marks like a turtle shell, and paint.

Puppy: Brown, tan or white, either paint, or pin paper spots on. Make floppy ears and bobby pin to hair over your ears. The tale can be most anything, depending on what type of doggie you wish to be. Add a little make-up.

Kitten: Gold, brown, tan, white. Make ears from construction paper, attach to head band or bobby pin in to hair. Sew a simple round tale, and pin on.

Spider: Black, For the legs grab some cheap black hose, stuff with any thing dark and light weight. Either sew, or staple to keep stuffing from falling out. Pin to clothing, add a little make-up

Lady Bug: Use a pair of black sweats and black sweat shirt (and a pair of black shoes). Use a large piece of poster board or cardboard and cut out a large oval. Paint it red with black dots. Staple black elastic pieces (in a loop) onto the board to make arm holes. For the antenna attatch craft pipe cleaners with black pom poms on the ends to a headband.

Snowman: Use white sweats and pompoms for the coal. Add some makeup and a top hat. Use orange construction paper to make a carrot cone for a nose-just roll up the paper, trim and staple on some elastic to hold it in place. Don't forget the scarf!

Cereal Killer: Attach little cereal boxes to a shirt, cut a slit in the boxes, glue in plastic knives into the holes, drip red paint running down from the knife hole in the box.

Black Eye Pea: When I was younger, a teacher from my elementary school dressed up as a "black eyed pea" and it was so cute, my mother dressed me up the same way the next year. It is simple and cheap. Wearing all white, with black tennis shoes, I cut out the letter 'P' from black construction paper and pinned the P's all over the white outfit. I painted a black spot over one eye ("black eye" ... get it? :) hee hee) and I was a "black-eyed 'P' "

Butterfly: Put on black sweats and black shoes. Use a piece of poster board and paint wanted color cut them out in an appropriate wing shape. punch two holes toward the edges of the wings. put black ribbon through them and tie around waist. attach pipe cleaners and pompoms to a plastic head band.

Rubics cube: Using a large card board box and five different colors of contact paper or construction paper (contact paper is easier to stick on) enough to do 5 sides, black pants and long sleeve shirt. this was done very inexpensively and we had a lot of fun with it.

Dice: Grab a friend and take 2 cardboard boxes, paint them white. Cut out several black circles (From construction paper) and glue them in the appropriate places to make you and your friend a pair of dice!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Time to get ready for Winter!

Whether we like it or not, Winter is on the way here in Seattle, which means cool temperatures and wet conditions.

Some things we are doing to get ready:

Wrapping the Hot Water Tank--even though ours is in an enclosed laundry room, we can still save a little by wrapping it up.

Trading out the summer/winter clothes. Make sure everything is clean before packing it up, and get rid of the stuff that is worn out so you don't have to deal with it again in the spring.

I do a lot of knitting and quilting in the winter(Keeps your lap and legs warm!) so anything that is worn out will get added to the scrap bag. Even stained clothes make great rugs when cut into strips.

I am also making Snuggies for the whole family this year. Yes, they are silly and the commercials for these things are ridiculous but the concept is pretty smart. I have a few old fleece blankets so I plan to make these pretty much for free. The Pattern is very easy too!

We installed a Programmable Thermostat last fall and I dug out the paperwork and re-programmed it 2 degrees cooler than it was last year. We are also putting up Window Quilts this year to cut down on the drafts. We have a 6 room apartment but we only heat the living room and bathroom, so I hang drapes in the doorways to keep the heat where we want it. The other rooms are kept at 55 degrees.

We have hardwood floors, so I am also pulling the rugs out of storage. We only use them in the late fall and winter and they are all washable. When the weather turns nice in the spring, they all get washed, and line dried before returning them to storage. My rugs are nearly all handmade--done in past winters out of scraps and rags--it is amazing how many memories are sewn into these simple floor coverings; cotton onesies that were outgrown and worn out, tee shirts from places and events I attended, my college sweatshirt, the shredded seat covers from my first car--sheesh! One comment I will make about rag rugs made on a loom like many of mine are--skip the crappy cotton warp thread--string technology has come a long way since our ancestors started making rag rugs! I use Nylon Twine for my rugs. This product is meant for salt water fishing net and will last longer than the cloth rags! One $10 roll is enough twine to make a rag rug 4 feet wide and 43 feet long--do not skimp in the basics or you will be sorry!

Check and re-check the Emergency Supplies. I have used up most of the Emergency Food I stored last fall(Rotated to keep it fresh) and now it's time to re-stock. I put 48 meals worth of easy food and 10 gallons of water all in one place with flashlights, candles, matches, and all the other supplies we might need if the power is off for more than a day. I have 2 portable gas stoves that I use for Canning Classes, so I only needed to buy a 4 pack of fuel this year. Note on these types of butane stoves---if you buy one, fire it up when you get home-let it burn for at least 20 minutes and shut it off. Check the fuel can--it should be ice cold. If the can is warm AT ALL--take the stove back and buy a different brand. Keep testing until you find one that keeps the fuel ICE COLD. Many cheap knock-offs are on the market and the results can be devastating when the fuel container overheats.(Graphic Pictures!)

Hot chocolate and Spiced Tea are very popular in our house when the weather is chilly so I make up big batches of homemade mixes to keep these treats easy and frugal.

I will add more tips, for getting ready for Winter, soon!