Cheap and easy geometric necklace DIY

After my incredible victory with re-stringing my geometric wood bead necklace (see it in its glory here), I started thinking that maybe I could make my own necklace. I started poking around Etsy for some appropriate things to string together to make a necklace (most commonly referred to as "beads" I guess) but quickly became overwhelmed by the holy-shit-woah number of beads on Etsy.

After seeing a few polymer bead necklaces on Pinterest, and finding out that it's vegan, I started to think that maybe I could be so DIY that I could make my own beads. Ignore, for a moment, that Sculpey conjures images of psychedelic starburst bead adorned bongs and weird miniature fake troll babies made of polymer clay (true story - I secretly love those). It just might work. And how hard could making some shapes be, anyway?

I found myself at an arts & crafts store, staring down their Sculpey rack with "do or die" running through my head. (Fine, it was more like, "Man, Two Boots' vegan pizza is right around the corner. I'm so hungry.") I picked out a bunch of colors because I realized this stuff is pretty cheap. I was tempted to just get like 6 packs of black and black glitter and call it a day but I decided to live a little. 

^ loooook at all my Premo! ^

I laid out a flexi cutting board (that I'd no longer be putting foodstuffs on) and started mushing around one color, with the idea that I'd construct some shapes similar to both the necklace I mentioned above and also other necklackes I've seen around town. 

I rolled some very "organic" shaped round beads by rolling them around on the mat. (Example: wonky blue piece.) After my boyfriend made a few observant comments about the artsy-craftsy nature of my effort with perhaps some concern in his voice, I figured out that if you use just your palm, the beads come out a little smoother. (See: pink marbled bead.) The cylinders came out uneven until I used a flat surface to roll it out (I used the surface area of a full Sculpey pack). I used a small knife to trim the ends off of both cylinders to make them look neater. 

Since I knew I'd want to weight the necklace correctly, I paid attention to how many bars of Sculpey each bead took to make. The blue bead was 2. The gray cylinder was 1. The pink bead was 1.5 -- and the black tube was going to be in the middle so its weight didn't matter. 

^ these are the shapes I made, inspired by other necklaces ^

I needed to create holes to thread the necklace cord through. With the round beads and the small cylinder beads it was not a problem. I used a wooden skewer and made sure to move it around a bunch so the hole would be big enough to thread cord through. The black curved tube was a bit more challenging. I was able to use the skewer to make a pretty big hole through the straight tube and then carefully bent it into the shape I wanted - and just hoped for the best. (Well, I bent it and then carefully unbent it to neurotically check to make sure the hollow was still intact. About 10 times.) Once I trimmed the ends, I needed to reinforce the hole again but the clean edges seemed to stay intact despite the re-holing efforts. These all went in the toaster oven at 275 for 30 minutes. That's right! Not even the real oven. It wasn't as fun as my old Holly Hobby Easy-Bake oven where I essentially used a lightbulb to "cook" cake when I was 7 or Creepy Crawlies where I used some weird plug in cauldron to make the best gummy bugs ev...er. But still pretty neat. 

^ all baked and ready to thread ^

Thankfully {insert all holes were okay comment without sounding gross} and I was able to thread the cord through with no problems. With the curved tube I was able to thread it by staring it on one side and giving it a jostle until it went all the way through. Basically I'm the best at this stuff, I guess. 

Then I went ahead and finished my necklace by knotting each bead into place with some consideration as to weight. It's not exactly weighted but it's such a small difference that the necklace lays the right way when worn. 

I left that orange speck in the granite cylinder purposely, after noticing it happened accidentally.  I just liked it. Plus, lazy.

So, there you have it. My cheap and easy geometric shape necklace.


3 ingredient facial cleanser DIY

I feel like I blacked out back in early January and just woke up right in February. I'm grateful, I guess. Who wants to actually experience January in the northeast US anyway?

While it's been milder than usual, we have had some legit winter weather and when that starts to kick in, I usually swap out my facial cleanser and moisturizer. The cold and wind make my skin cranky and I go a little gentler on the cleanser front. And obviously - like most humans with skin - cold weather and dry radiator heat tend to make me need a heavier moisturizer. 

When I was still subscribing to vegan beauty boxes, I tried out a simple 3-ingredient cleanser made by an independent company. It was gentle and smelled good and I figured I'd purchase another bottle...until I realized it was $10 for not more than 4 oz. And it only had 3 ingredients. Ingredients which, if purchased separately, would cost me less than $5 to make for the same bottle. I mean...I like to support the little guy and all but a 50% discount was too steep to pass up. And I wouldn't have to get a new container each time.

What you need:

^ ingredients needed ^
- vegetable glycerin (3 oz)
- rosewater (1 oz)
- optional: sweet orange essential oil (a few drops, less than 5)

^  sweet orange essential oil ^ 

It's extremely simple: 3 parts vegetable glycerin and 1 part rosewater. Less than 5 drops of sweet orange essential oil. Pour into a clean bottle. Shake. (The vegetable glycerin and rosewater are a different viscosity so they separate. One will sit right on top of the other unless you mix them.)

^ 3 very thick ounces of vegetable glycerin ^ 

^ I used an empty bottle purchased from the Bach's Rescue Remedy line ^

To use, apply to your wet face and rinse with water. I know that's like most cleansers, although I have one that tells you to apply it dry (it is so weird) so I guess it bears specifying.

Rosewater acts as an astringent so if you need to up that factor in your cleanser, you can increase the ratio of rosewater. 

Learn from my mistakes

Don't try to pour both the vegetable glycerin and rosewater into a glass and try to mix it with a cocktail stirrer. It doesn't mix as well as you might think. You're already going to be pouring it in a bottle with a cap where you can easily mix it by shaking it.

Don't use a teeny tiny funnel for your bottle. The glycerin is just thick enough that it will slow down to droplets and it won't be efficient. A funnel with a hole straw-sized and larger would probably be fine - but that's not what I did.

A note about some essential oils:

Some essential oils (including a bunch of citrus ones) are photo-toxic or can make your skin photo-sensitive (more sensitive to the sun). What can these essential oils do to your skin? It can cause burning or skin pigmentation variable (when exposed to sun). It's also possible to have more severe reactions.

Sweet orange is on a few of the lists for somewhat photo-toxic and on a lot of lists for not being photo-toxic so, up to you! I'm okay with it because it doesn't seem to bother my skin and also it's in a small amount in a cleanser (which I'm washing off my face) vs moisturizer (which would stay on my face.) The original recipe for this cleanser used tea tree oil.

I've really just started reading a few books on essential oils and use in skincare and one of the very first scared-straight lessons I've learned is that it's important to know what's safe on skin, in what dilution and to pay attention to the latin names! (You'll notice lemon and lime variations are on both "yes - burn your skin off" and "no - I'm okay to use" lists. 


Life Lately (snowstorm version)

Yes, we got snow. No, that doesn't mean that global warming isn't happening. It did, however, mean not going very far and bundling up like crazy to walk just a few blocks.

This round I mostly have winter-themed pictures -- bundling up, eating, home craft projects, home remedies and also what to do with your relatives' old furs.

^ so glad I had glasses on - that face-numbing wind! ^

^ Riverdel take-home spoils^ 

^ almond croissant, not as croissant-like as I'd hoped! ^

^ tried to dye some of this "too much white" stuff ^
(results post forthcoming)

^ what folks recommended as a cold-fighter ^
(a glass of water+ACV and raw garlic)

^ and Coats for Cubs season begins!^
drop off unwanted fur items at Buffalo Exchange
it will be used for animal care!
until 4/22 -- and check out this 


Behold, My Collection of Natural Vegan Cruelty Free Deodorants!

Whether a natural deodorant works for you is one of those very personal physiological reactions, like whether cilantro tastes like soap for you (sorry about your sad life) or whether you like the Grease soundtrack (pls invite me to your singalongs, thanks). So I am aware this information might not be useful to everyone but hopefully it'll at least be partly useful to someone. Like, 10 people? 

Trying out natural deodorants can feel like a hobby. New ones come on the market and you want to find out if they're the almost-like-an-antiperspirant deodorant that will never actually exist. Or maybe you just want to find out if it is better than what you have now. I am reviewing 7 deodorants -- some I love and some popular brands that didn't work for me.  

I've also tried the following brands, which rate way lower than the ones I'm reviewing: Jason Natural Deodorant in Apricot; Tom's of Maine - all of their gross slimy deodorants; several roll-on crystal deodorants; Thai crystal deodorant; Avalon Organics wild yam roll-on deodorant; Zion Health clay citrus deodorant stick; Earth Science stick; Kiss My Face liquid rock roll-on in Patchouli (it was the strongest smell!); Green Body deodorant; Lush (it may have been Aromaco but I think I also tried another solid they had at the time that was labeled vegan)...and many more from the health food store and food co-op aisles that I'm forgetting at the moment. 

Here are the ones I have something to say about:

#1 - Schmidt's ($9 for 2oz) *a vegan brand; palm oil-free

Schmidt's works the best of any natural deodorant I've tried. I've tried the unscented, lavendar + sage and bergamot + lime, although it's possible I originally got the ylang ylang + calendula scent first from a vegan beauty box. It's thicker than most of the other paste pot versions so I imagine their stick is also a good choice. (I avoid because the pot packaging is easier to reuse and recycle.) Like every single deodorant, it's not an antiperspirant so you will still sweat, but I find I sweat (and smell) the least when using Schmidt's. They also give you these tiny gray plastic spatulas that look like they're Barbie-size in case you are too much of a baby to take the deodorant out with you fingertip. I made fun of them but now I use them since I have them anyway. But I kind of wish they didn't bother giving them to you.

#2 - Soapwalla ($14 for 2oz) *a vegan brand

Soapwalla was the very first natural deodorant that I tried. I made my way down to a Gowanus craft fair just to get natural deodorant, even. (There was like one other vendor there, a knife-maker.) It's pretty good stink-wise and I alternate using it with Schmidt's. It does seem to have more oils in it than Schmidt's does so I usually follow up application with a dusting of powder. I ruined many a shirt by over-applying this and not powdering. I think the concentration of oils might be part of the reason it's softer than Schmidt's as well. All in all, a good option!

#3 - Northcoast Organics Death by Lavender ($10 for 2.5oz) *a vegan company

Northcoast Organics was another vegan beauty box find. It came in a tiny push up stick and smelled like, uh, yeah, lavender. Decent de-stinking powers. If Schmidt's or Soapwalla didn't exist, this would be in my rotation. It smells pretty good, although I'm pretty sure none of the natural deodorants have scents that last long enough to smell throughout the day. 

#4 - Routine ($20 for 1.7oz approx) *not all vegan but vegan ones are labeled; palm oil-free

Routine was yet another vegan beauty box sample and I really liked its consistency (clay but creamy) and it's scent (Sexy Sadie - worst name though). I actually felt like this one kept it drier than the others and it's possible it's because of the clay base. It did a good job and if it were cheaper I would be happy to throw it in my rotation. 

#5 - Primal Pit Paste ($9 for 2oz) *not all vegan

This one is slightly less effective than the others for me but it does work to a certain extent. It's similar to the Soapwalla and Northcoast when it comes to texture. Not really in love with the smell but they do have other options. (This one was also a vegan beauty box find. Who knew they were like my natural deodorant dealers?) I feel like a lot of people mention this brand and it seems to be available widely so I figured I'd include it, even though it's not a strong option for me. 

#6 -- Meow Meow Tweet ($14 for 2.4oz) *vegan and palm oil-free company

I know people super love MeowMeowTweet and I have some facial cleanser by them that I really like but this just totally doesn't do it for me. I don't find it that effective (though I like the scent) -- it really only works half the day for me. 

#7 -- Lavanila ($14 for 2oz) 

I had high hopes for this one! I picked it up at Sephora and I really like the scent going on. The texture is almost more like a creamy stick deodorant, whereas all of the other options listed either have baking soda or clay or something like that in them. This was straight up delightful to apply. However, it's the least effective for me. It works less than the MeowMeowTweet option on me. I don't know how this works well for other people but I'm kind of jealous. 

*I only listed info about whether the brands are vegan or palm oil-free if the brand mentions that on their own website or if the product is featured in Selva Beat's palm oil-free product guides or on their palm oil-free brands page


Sizing your hat DIY - with weather-proofing tape!

I treat The Streets I Know like my personal shopper. Almost anything Melanie picks out, I love -- including this Askida hat, which she posted about here. I bought it.

Unfortunately the hat was slightly too big despite its claims of fitting an "average sized adult head" and all . Big enough that at the slightest strain of wind, it would go flying off my head. (That wide brim catches some good wind.) So I needed to figure out how to size it. Several online searches yielded that self-adhesive weather-proofing foam tape was my best bet. Which seemed, at best, strange -- and at worst, wrong. So I reached out to the vendor for ideas and, lo and behold, weather-proofing foam tape it is! (It looks like there is legit hat-sizing foam that looks just like weather-proofing tape.)

This was really easy, cost all of $5 and took so little time that I wish I'd done it sooner. You can see video instructions here -- although all you really need to know is pull the sweatband of your hat out so you can stick the foam strips under it. Cut strips of the foam to fit under the sweatband and adhere them to the inside of your hat. Then fold your sweatband back over the foam when you're done. (You don't need to re-adhere it to the hat's sides.) 

^ offending hat and self-adhesive weather-stripping foam ^ 

^ sweatband pulled back, black foam applied ^ 

Not to be like "Long live the internet!" or anything but it's super great that it takes so little time to figure out how to fix things so they're still usable. If you look for them, it really prevents so much waste. *fist pump*


Life Lately

I had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year and out of the winter blues -- especially since my grandmother passed away around the Thanksgiving holiday. My gram was a strong Italian broad who helped raise me. Oh, the feelings. But, strangely, life goes on around us, even when we feel like it shouldn't.

Hopefully your holiday and solstice-season is going well, filled with gratitude and laughs. And some excellent desserts.

^ we got an update from Simone's adopter around her 1 year 
adopt-a-versary -- she is doing great and they love her.
given her rocky start, this thrills me to no end. this is a baby
photo of her sleeping on my desk at work
although the adopter did send pictures of her as an adult! ^

^ white elephant gift wrapping ^
(it was chocolate)

^ the best spot in craft/art stores ^ 

^ finding ways to use glitter polish without
seeming too Christmas oranment-y; Vera Meat-inspired ^


Unbalanced - how I had to fix a $50 twine and bead necklace

This past summer, I spent $50 on a cute chunky geometric-ish necklace at a cute shop in Cape May. I assumed it would wear as it hung in the store and as it was designed:

However, when I wore it for more than 10 minutes, it looked like the photo below. Which is not really what you'd expect for a $50 necklace made out of some beads and canvas cord. Like, you'd think the mark up was partly for it's smart design. So I emailed the small company that makes the necklace and sent this picture where it's chilling out all wonky and their response was to say that this necklace from their earlier collection wasn't well balanced and they could offer me a discount on a new necklace, since their new lines purportedly didn't have the same issue. I felt like if you sold me a necklace that's essentially defective, you could have offered to either give me store credit for a necklace that can actually be worn as a necklace or replace it with a necklace you've made that can actually be worn as a necklace. Given the customer service engagement and uh, the idea that someone went into the jewelry business and didn't effectively balance a necklace they sold widely I figured I didn't actually want a new necklace from them anyway -- and thought I had just lost $50.

I was kind of dumbfounded by the experience and kept thinking, "How do you put together a necklace that doesn't even wear well when that's your business? How hard could it be to do it right?" So I decided to see how hard it was. I mean, I had some extra black cord and all the existing pieces from the necklace. It's possible I could reconfigure it into something wearable, right? Or I might need one more bead as a counterweight and I can order a handmade one off Etsy or something?

I untied the thing and took out the one or two knots they'd put in to try to keep the beads in place. I knew the black arc at the bottom would obviously stay there and so I took the other beads and tried to group them so that they would be somewhat equally weighted on both sides. There was some slippage even when they seemed to be weighted equally (although nothing like the photo) so I put some knots in at the top of both sides to keep them in place.

And it wears fine. I thought I was going to have to get into postage scale weighing levels of effort but holding the beads in both hands and trying to guess the weight worked out okay. And while I like the original design better, this one is not displeasing, if I can compliment my own construction. (Which I totally just did.)

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" and all.