Saturday, November 17, 2012

Prepping Thrifted Clothes for Wear

Thrifting: it's a Goth thing. Certainly not exclusively, but it is nonetheless. Going to thrift stores is great not only because you get unique pieces really cheaply, but also because you are recycling things instead of requiring companies to pollute the environment more, giving money to those in need (many thrift stores are run by charities), and avoiding annoying packaging. However, just because thrift stores have their advantages doesn't mean they're exactly "ready for wear" right away. Here's my guide to what to do once you get your thrifted clothing pieces home:

Vintage/Thrift Fair on Campus


First, you need to check the tag when you get it. If the tag is still attached, it will give you important information about the materials used in construction and washing/drying procedures. If there is no tag, just use your best judgement. Don't go washing a dark item that has no tag with lighter items because it might bleed. Don't put an item with delicate-feeling fabric in the dryer on high.

Secondly, you need to go about actually washing things. There's no reason you can't toss things into the wash with your regular laundry, just so long as you're combining things that need to be washed similarly. Do a once-over of all of the clothing and look for stains, applying a stain-remover as needed. If it's in a thrift store, unfortunately, some of the stains may be really stuck in there, so be liberal with the stain-remover and do a bit of scrubbing. Then, wash according to the tag instructions. If you're really bothered by germs, wash on a higher temperature to get yourself rid of anything particularly nasty.

HOWEVER, if you picked up something really vintage, you'll need to do some handwashing rather than putting it in the washing machine. Avoid using a strong detergent and stick to a mild one, such as ivory soap. Dandelion Village, a vintage retailer, has a blog which contains a guide for washing vintage clothing which I have found particularly useful, link to part one here and part two here.

Now is the time, after you've done the washing, to alter your clothing. Try it on and wear it for a while. Walk, sit down, stretch. If you have enough sewing skills, you should be able to pin-point any areas you need to alter just from doing that. You can also make cosmetic changes to the garment, of course. One of my best changes to a garment was a simple swapping of buttons, because whoever decided that a purple shirt should have tiny gold baubles in place of buttons was out of their mind. Adding lace to hems, patches to sleeves, studs to shoulders, or any other number of DIY additions will really help and make your garment more you.

The matter of shoes and accessories is slightly different. If you've managed to find a pair of shoes, chances are they've already been cleaned by the thrift store. You can clean the inside with a soft, damp (not soaking) cloth and bit of mild detergent if you would prefer. A tiny bit of polish for any metal fixtures, and some leather polish can also improve them. If you're in love with the shoes and they seem good quality but the tread is worn down, you can take them to a cobbler to get a new tread put on, but I wouldn't recommend it for really cheap shoes.

Bags can be cleaned, again, with a soft cloth, or scrubbed if they're fabric and a bit dingy. You can also make changes to bags, if you like, such as replacing the zipper or other fixtures. Belts can be polished, but I don't know of any big DIY changes you could make to those (except maybe studding them or stringing a chain on it or something.) Jewelry is somewhat different. In a thrift store it can often be difficult to tell what is good quality and what will turn your skin green. Covering the parts of the jewelry that will touch your skin with a clear sealant can help (in the past I've recommended clear nail polish, but that's probably not the best solution. If you're stuck on options, Decoden websites have some great solutions for what kind of thing.)

Thrifted clothing can be stored like non-thrifted clothing. To combat any moths who might be out to eat your clothes, hang a sachet of lavender in your wardrobe. Finally, wear your "new" thrifted clothes, and enjoy!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Vegan Tea-Infused Cupcakes Recipe

If you're a tea fanatic like me, you might have a large collection of teas hanging around. Yes, you can keep drinking them if you like, but what else can you do with teas? Here's my recipe for delicious tea-infused cupcakes from scratch.

Ingredients for 12 cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup oil (non-flavored, such as canola)
2 tablespoons vinegar
Two or three tea bags (your flavor of choice) OR two servings (if you were making two cups of tea) tea leaves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Boil two cups of water (make sure your measurement of two cups occurs after boiling, since evaporation may change any initial measurements of water amounts.)
  3. Pour water into a large mug or heat-safe bowl and add your tea bags.
  4. Allow tea bags to steep until water is cooled. Tea should be STRONG.
  5. Whisk dry ingredients together
  6. Add vinegar, oil, and vanilla extract
  7. Stain the tea well until no leaves are in the water, then add that to the ingredients
  8. Blend the dry and wet ingredients together until smooth
  9. Line your cupcake pan and pour the batter in
  10. Cook cupcakes for 22-25 minutes

You can leave these cupcakes plain or make a frosting, which begs the questions of flavorings. Your options are to top it with a plain vanilla frosting/glaze, or do something in a coordinating flavor. Here are some nice flavor variations for you to try:
To add more depth of flavor (particularly to the fruit flavored tea cupcakes) you can add little chunks of fruit, nuts, or chocolate to the cupcakes at your whim. You can, of course, make the cupcakes with your preferred recipe as long as yours involves water in some way (cupcakes that rely on milk or a similar liquid won't work since tea doesn't diffuse in milk well.) Let me know if you stumble onto a particularly delicious combination of flavors!

Happy eating!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Introducing: Evil Supply Company

Hello readers, today I have a rather special post to offer you. This post focuses on the up-and-coming spook-tacular project Evil Supply Company, which is of interest to all of us who enjoy a little bit of (silly) villany once in a while. To get the story behind Evil Supply Company, I talked to its creator and lead ghoul, Atticus Q. Redghost (or, as you may know him in the Tumblr sphere, evilsoutherngentleman.)

Mr. Ghost

Evil Supply Company is run by Atticus Q. Redghost (I assume the "Q" stands for something appropriate like "quixotical" or such, but I dared not ask) who, in his own words "dabble[s] in all four divisions of Evil Supply (mad science, the sea, dark arts, undead), but [is] a more crafted constructor of mechanical beings than [he is] in magic, so much of [his] time is spent in the mad science labs." The company, though founded in 1879 via time machine, though its official opening date was Halloween this year. Why the spooky date? Mr. Redghost tells me that it "is the appropriate time. One must be familiar with time travel to understand what I mean by 'appropriate'... it's a matter of equations... and math... and other such... things." Personally, I used that as personal chastisement for never doing well in mathematics courses, so I'll leave the equations and math to Mr. Redghost and focus on the interview instead.

Mr. Redghost, a self-proclaimed professional villain, claims that the inspiration for Evil Supply Company came while he "saw a hero beating up a helpless evil do-er as a child as if the poor bastard was doing something wrong. [He] vowed then and there to stop 'Good' at all cost, and aid [his] brothers and sisters in doing the same." How will Evil Supply Company help? By selling all the necessary supplies of evil, of course! Mr. Redghost has promised everything from death rays and giant robots to minions and henchmen to trap kits and layout plans for secret lairs. No more ridiculous bumbling fools to accidentally free the hero while you are giving your evil monologue, no sir!

But...in the mean time, while waiting for the US government to allow importing evil minions by the crate-full, Evil Supply Company has some other offerings to us. Mr. Redghost explains that it will sell "mostly small and medium things", such as the little ghosty badge he launched a few weeks ago, and a stationary designs in the works. (He confides that "physical mail may be dead, but [he has] necromancers on [his] payroll, [and he his] not overly worried.") Other future offerings may include posters, holiday or birthday cards, "infernally-inspired shirts," pocket business cards, and icon packs for web designers/developers. "In general," Mr. Redghost says, "the items sold will be small trinkets and artifacts that help bring a sense of wonder, magic and delight into one's life." The most expensive of the future planned items will top up at a mere 25USD or so.

Since I'm aware that my readers may have particular concerns as to the products, I inquired if they were "cruelty free." After a short, maniacal laugh, Mr. Redghost informs me that he does "try not to muck up things in the environment as possible." Vegan items might be in the cards as well, especially if what you're buying is...you know...cards... anyway. International shipping is on the table, but Mr. Redghost cannot deny the fact that the evil overlords of postal shipping (not our kind of evil, friends) make the prices for that extremely high. Mr. Redghost apologizes for that inconvenience.

I also inquired about the future of Evil Supply Company, asking about what we can expect. Mr. Redghost refers to this first year as having a mission to "build, grow an audience, survive in the public eye." (An aside: if the one year anniversary of Evil Supply Company, come 2013, is not called "doomsday" I will be a very sad spookster.) However, Mr. Redghost is very clear in his distaste towards the idea of becoming a "cheap-value market" to buy "quirky doo-dads." While I'm a fan of quirky doo-dads, I can understand the reputation of evil, not just quirky, he's trying to build here.

Of course, the question for all inquisitive evil-doers is, Does our input matter? Or, how can we get involved? Luckily for us, Mr. Redghost is most willing to accept input. He even calls it "crucial." After testing to see if this was a rouse, I found myself pleasantly accepting that Mr. Redghost does, in fact, care (Don't tell anyone I told you this, it might ruin his reputation amongst the ghouls.) To get involved, Mr. Redghost suggests that we simply enjoy what he creates and show it to others with similar tastes. You'll note the existence of this blog post, for example. "Responding to things I've written or sketched out is simply fantastic," says Mr. Redghost, "as it allows me to gauge what people get excited about, where I should put pressure and where I should hold off." If your ego wasn't sufficiently stroked already, Mr. Redghost says that his audience "is a significant portion of why [he's] doing these things." D'aw, shucks.

Have I piqued your interest? The blog at evilsupplyco.tumblr.com is where you can find the most up-to-date information about the project and where you (yes, you!) can give your input about what you'd like to see and what you think. Currently available to purchase is the aforementioned badge here, described as Mister Ghost's significantly fancy Undead Appreciation Badge of exquisite taste. I can't wait to get my hands on one.

I'd like to thank Mr. Redghost once again for speaking with me and introducing the project and encourage all of my readers to give it a good look! Personally I can't wait for Paypal to stop being a pain (it does not like that my billing address and shipping address are in two different countries, not one bit!) so that I can purchase a wee ghosty pin and support the company.

Now, go forth, and be spooky! Or villainous! Or, better yet, EVIL!