Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Crafty Hallucinations

Because sensory deprivation tanks are awesome in theory, but expensive as all get out in practice, I'm so excited about this. Consider the Ganzfeld Effect the college student's key to sensory deprivation, hallucination and meditation without the risk of a schedule I drug sentence! This is for the days when you get home and feel like melting into your couch. The practice of sensory deprivation is basically a productive, introspective nap. A real day-dream and the key to deep relaxation.

The Ganzfeld Effect works by creating a blank screen for your mind to draw on. To start, you'll need two ping pong balls, a comfortable place to lie down and some optional mittens/gloves. The goal is to get rid of all the sensory input you can, so for instance if your home has an obnoxious smell, maybe buy some nose plugs (or clean your room?)

Cut the ping pong balls in half so that they easily fit over your eyes without letting in any light. Before you use them, make sure to wash them out with some water. (Apparently ping pong balls have camphor oil inside of them so you'll know when they break. Fun fact.) Some basic knowledge of meditation is helpful, but not necessary. Playing some white noise in the background can help too (or if you want to fall into a mind vortex, play some binaural beats for yourself - also known as the first digital drug! welcome to the future future future future future.)

Try focusing on your breathing in a comfortable position for as long as it takes to get into a relaxed state. Try not to actively think about things, but if things do come to you, think passively. With any luck, or with some practice, you'll enter a dream state. Jot some notes down, keep a journal, or just enjoy it for what it is!

eta: If you think cutting a ping pong ball with a sharp knife is a good idea, don't. It is not a good idea. Repeat, not.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More on Liqueurs

On the subject of liqueurs (see below), I'd like to add this label that I made for my Patented (ok, not really) Coffee Nostrum:

Slap your own crafty label on the bottles your infusion-fun liquors come in, and voila, instant cuteness.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!

Austin's a great place to put this phrase into effect. These three actions can help you declutter your life, feel better about the world and take your eco-footprint from about a size 12 to a size 7. (And if you're at all questionable about the impact you have on the environment, take this quiz. The results will probably surprise you!)

Here's a list of our favorite shops around Austin that will help you make the step towards reducing, reusing and recycling!

Reduce: Donate! (And not just your crap!)

To us, this is most importantly about the haves and have nots. But it's also about you and your things. Do you own them, or do they own you? Do you still have a CD collection the size of a small music store, but are too nostalgic to part with them? If you find yourself developing a relationship with inanimate plastic objects, chances are it's time to part with them.

1.) Goodwill! With over 9 locations in Austin, Goodwill's a good place to gain independence from your things. Put it in a bag, drive it to a donation location and you'll be feeling a little more free and de-cluttered in no time.

Donations can also be given to: Savers, Treasure City Thrift, and pretty much any other local thrift store you can spot. But be sure to check in ahead of time, just to make sure.

Reuse: New things can bite me. Go Vintage or Used!

Who needs a new Ikea couch when you could have a plaid sofa with a skirt? Or a clawfoot loveseat with some history to it? Here are a couple of places that consistently have some beauties (sans stains and weird smells! we promise!)

1.) Room Service. This place has three locations in Austin. While the prices may be a little outside of the college budget, you can sometimes find some steals and deals. Here's a little sample of some of their items on sale right now.

Ooooooooooooooh Comfyyyyyyyyyyy.

2.) Blue Velvet - Some of you may have been here a couple of weeks ago for their $1.00 sale on the drag (a.k.a. dream come true day.) When I asked why they were doing it, the clerk simply said "We just wanted to do this for you guys." Not only are these people nice, but they now have a new location on North Loop Blvd right next to Epoch coffee shop. Now we can all immediately reward ourselves with some new kicks and threads after studying.

3.) Treasure City - Rad people, rad prices. Located on the East Side, it's a thrift store on a mission for positive change in the community. Feel good about shopping here, but feel better about donating here.

Recycle: Your trash is another's treasure!

1.) Buffalo Exchange: If you have a hard time giving up your things just for the sake of giving up your things, then here's a way to get something in return. This is the place where a sack of seventh grade tank tops could easily turn into a new pair of kicks. And good news! This place recently expanded (I'll never forget you, Yen-Ching.) so your chances of finding a new fav outfit here just doubled.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle! It's about what you need and what you don't, and how you can turn a waste of space into somebody else's smiling face! : )

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

White Brite, or, How to Replicate a $400 Lamp

An old lamp bought at an estate sale for $1:

Filthy and chipped, but promising. Especially after the post we saw on designsponge about this $400 lamp:

Which, while lovely, is remarkably similar in concept to our $1 find. So I whipped out the white spray paint and turned ours into a gleamingly white, fashionable, and adorable testament to thriftyness:

I need to find a white shade for it, but even in an incomplete state our lamp is 50% cooler than the $400 one - the base lights up! Soooo neat, yeah?

So kids, remember: ultra designer-y design does not have to cost more than a $1! And that makes us extraordinarily happy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fruit and Coffee Infused Liqueurs

There are few things in life more pleasant than a fancy drink. There are also few things so outrageously marked-up in price! So, we have taken it upon ourselves to perfect the art of homemade fancy-drinking. Step 1: Make your own liqueur.

The flavor possibilities are endless when you make your liqueurs yourself and, even better, you can use the cheapest base alcohol you can find. Flavor infusion will completely eradicate the nail polish taste of cheap liquor and when you put your creation in a fancy bottle like this, no one will ever suspect you paid $6 the stuff. Good-bye guilt-ridden trips to the liquor store!

This is our simplified fruit liqueur recipe that can be tweaked and manipulated to your hearts content!

Pick-Your Poison Fruit Liqueur

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 lbs fresh fruit - washed and chopped/sliced
3 cups liquor (the cheapest kind you can find, vodka, rum, gin all work fine)
optional: 1-3 tsp of vanilla, almond, mint, or your favorite extract

1. boil the sugar and water over medium heat until clear; stir often
2. put fruit in a large jar or bottle that can be tightly closed
3. pour sugar-water mixture over fruit
4. next add the vodka and the extract, if desired
5. tightly close the container and store in a cool, dark place.

Your liqueur will be ready whenever you are - wait three days for ok liqueur, or wait 2 or 3 months for the flavors to really meld. Once you feel you've waited long enough, you can strain the liqueur into a smaller bottle and save the soaked fruit to eat with ice cream (alcoholic deserts!). You can also feel free to leave everything in the container you aged it in for less hassle.

Here's another (even easier!) recipe for coffee liqueur. Ours is still aging, so no promises on taste, but it smells yummy.

Coffee Liqueur

2 cups hot coffee (use flavored coffee to make it even more exciting!)
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups cheap liquor
1 tbs vanilla extract

1. Mix the sugar and vanilla into the coffee so that the sugar melts; let the coffee cool
2. Pour the coffee mixture and liquor into a bottle, cap, and store away. Again, a few days will yield an ok product, but the longer you wait, the better the taste.