What I’ve Been…

turtle egg
An egg of mine from a few years ago

…planning: Pysanky designs. The easter season is over, yes, but I plan to keep making them year-round this year. I really need to start honing my skills and getting creative if I ever plan on using this to drum up some extra income.

…working on: grading. And more grading. It’s crunch time, and of course, as I always do, I ended up planning tests and papers too close to one another. Every single semester I say to myself, “I’ll plan this out better next semester…” And I try – I really do try – but no matter what, somehow it never works out. Right now I’m plodding my way through over a hundred 5-7 page historical analysis papers.

Norwegian hardanger fiddle

…listening to: a lot of folk music. Between Easter – which always leaves me a little more finely tuned into my Ukrainian/Russian ethnic heritage – and a quick Frozen-inspired research burst into Norwegian culture, I’ve been listening to folk music consistently for the last few weeks on Spotify. I think I’m just a sucker for a good folksy fiddle and a devastatingly deep slavic baritone.


…playing: Pokemon SoulSilver – and honestly, this is to be blamed as much as being busy for the quietness around here. I haven’t really played one of these games since my original Gameboy pocket became obsolete, and forgot how addicting these games can be. Apparently even at age 26.

…reading: STILL technically reading First into Nagasaki… all the grading has put personal reading pretty much completely on hold. Although I really could be using the time I’m spending on the DS on this… but let’s not talk about that.

…feeling: very trodden on. It hits every semester around this time – it’s one of the emotional downsides of being an adjunct. Particularly around bill paying time, it gets very very hard to justify how hard I work and how MUCH I work when I end up with so very little to show for it. It will pass – it always does. But when I’m in the thick of a one of these spells, it can be really demoralizing. And I must admit that the longer I do this, the harder and harder it gets to bounce back. But I will. I must.

[Hardanger fiddle photo from the National Music Museum; Pokemon SoulSilver image from Bulbapedia – clicking on the either image will take you to the original source]

Behind the Scenes

Quick Pysanky Peak

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here; it’s been a bit crazy this past week thanks to the holiday, high school musical season (always a busy time for freelance musicians), and crunch time at school. But I promise there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, and we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled posts at the very least by Friday.

Until then, here’s a quick peak at the pysanky I’ve been working on recently. I have a bunch finished and ready to share here a little bit later!

A Test of a Pinterest DIY Cleaner

Header vinegar cleaner

So bathtub cleaner is expensive. Cleaners in general are expensive. This is not news to anyone I’m sure, and it certainly wasn’t news to me. But with my financial situation set to become what it will at the end of this semester* it has gradually become more and more soul sucking to have to purchase these kinds of products. Not only are they expensive, but they smell totally noxious, and using them is a massive pain in the rump that leaves me with a headache from the odor every time. The idea that I was paying what I was for the “privilege” of cleaning just started to drive me bonkers.

My bathtub cleaner, despite being the best one I’ve been able to find over the years, was by far the biggest offender – expensive, horrible smelling, and still for some reason requiring massive amounts of scrubbing despite the guarantees on the bottle that it wouldn’t. None of this is helped by the fact that our bathroom is an interior room with no window or ventilation beyond the exhaust fan (which really only serves to de-steam the room, not fully ventilate).


So one day two weeks ago I got fed up. I was done. The tub had been let go a little longer than usual at that point due to an extra busy few weeks (see photo above for grossness – notice that I have NOT watermarked that photo…), and I was just NOT in the mood to spend an hour + on my knees scrubbing this thing out while the cleaner slowly gassed me. To Pinterest I went, where I found a recipe for a DIY cleaner that I had all the ingredients for.

Now this cleaner recipe has been done a thousand and one times – there are hundreds of pins on Pinterest from hundreds of blogs, many of which have the instructions directly in the pin description, and many of which didn’t even lead back to anything. And I have to admit – I simply did not have the time or the patience that day to try to track the recipe back to an original source. I did a search on Pinterest for “DIY bathtub cleaner,” read the first recipe that had ingredients I had on hand out of the pin description, shut the laptop and went. So if you happen to know who the “originating” blogger was (or the closest we can come to the originating blogger when something’s gone this viral) – please let me know so I can link to them.

But bottom line is, there’s a reason this recipe has been done a thousand times on a thousand blogs: it’s easy, and it works. Simply mix equal parts dish soap (most of these recipes call for original blue Dawn, but I used what I had here and it worked just fine) and white vinegar that’s been heated in the microwave, stick it in a spray bottle and you’re good to go.

Notched Bottle

The spray bottle I had on hand was actually purchased at Sally Beauty for about $2 – originally intended to test a DIY “Dry” Shampoo recipe I had stumbled upon. But I never quite got around to that, so cleaner bottle it became. And it conveniently has these little notches on the side to measure things. So I just dumped in the dish soap until I felt like stopping, and then looked to see how much that was (it was 8 oz).

I then measured out that same amount of white vinegar and stuck it in the microwave for three minutes. Can I just tell you how much I love my Pyrex liquid measuring cup? Because I love it. And it made this process soooooo easy.

Pour the vinegar into the bottle with the dish soap, shake it a little to mix (really, just a little – it will suds up pretty good), and done.

Vinegar measured out

I sprayed it all over the tub and let it sit for about half an hour and work its magic. It did make the bathroom smell like orange vinegar, but that’s sooooo totally preferable to whatever chemically awfulness normal cleaners have. I didn’t feel light-headed or like I was going to suffocate while using this product at all.

Now, I must admit I did do a super quick 5 second pass on the particularly icky parts with a scrub brush just to loosen some of the grime up – but in general this cleaner worked like a charm. A quick rinse and my tub was shiny again.

Well, except for the drain, which is old and has lost some of the lacquer finish in places so never really looks shiny and perfect. But the rest of the tub was clean as a whistle. Just look for yourself!


Overall, I give this DIY recipe a 9/10. The only way this could be better is if I could figure out how to get rid of the vinegar smell while it worked and make it smell like cookies or cake or something equally appetizing. Maybe I’ll work on that in the future. But for now, you can definitely call me a DIY cleaner convert. This cleaner apparently works just as well once it cools – but we’ll have to wait for next time to find that out for sure!

*I know, I know. This has been mentioned almost every single post for the last couple weeks and I’m sure it’s getting tiresome, but bottom line is that Magpie Making Do is a reflection of my reality – and lately my reality is consumed by this issue!

Kogarashi Cowl

Cowl as worn

Today we have an FO from before I started my financial yarn fast (so it doesn’t count towards those 5 FOs). Another Fern Lace Cowl in the books (ravelry link). This will make 3 of these cowls – the second was my Mom’s Birthday Cowl and the first was an FO I finished during my time off the blogosphere… and I still haven’t gotten around to photographing it for Ravelry.

This time the cowl is once again for me. The yarn is Noro Kogarashi in colorway #7. I’ve had this in my stash for a very long time, and sadly this yarn has been discontinued since… I actually bought this while I was still in grad school more than 4 years ago now. It’s a beautiful yarn – a silk and wool blend, and of course I’m always a sucker for Noro’s colorways.

The cowl itself came out a bit big – but as long as I’m careful to arrange it it’s cute and slouchy. And oh, the colors…

Cowl Spread Out

(side note – not sure why the photos look over-sharpened… still figuring my way out in photoshop).

Mom’s Afghan

Afghan full

Hey, remember when I mentioned that I made an afghan for my mom for Christmas way back in December? Yea, I realized the other day that I never got around to showing that off. So here it is!

I started it at the end of November and was just finishing weaving ends in at midnight on December 23rd at my parent’s house – my dad acting as lookout to make sure my mom didn’t come into the kitchen (we’re a family of night owls when we’re all home for the holidays).

I’ve done an afghan like this before. Those of you who knew me back in the days of my old blog Lunaticraft will recognize this general design from my Eclectic Granny Square Blanket (link to ravelry page).

(the blanket in question)


It was, back when I started it, inspired by Alicia Paulson’s (of Posie Gets Cozy fame*) Cloister Blanket. I had absolutely fallen in love with it from the first time she posted about it;so much so that 2 years later when I decided to start on an afghan, I used it as inspiration.

Well, ever since I finished mine (it took 3 years of on and off work because I’m bad about those things), my mom has admired it and said things like, “You know, if you were to ever make me an afghan like that I’d be veryyyyy happy!” And so when 2013 turned out to be a really terrible and hard year for her, I finally took the hint and set to work.

The yarn is Vanna’s Choice by Lion’s Brand in Dusty Green, Dusty Rose, and Dusty Blue to match the decorating scheme in her bedroom. I always use acrylics for afghans because of the ruggedness required of owning animals, but usually forgo Vanna’s Choice for afghans simply because it’s more expensive and afghans require SO MUCH YARN. But honestly it was worth the extra expense on this one for the softness.

Overall, Mom was pleased with her gift, which in the end is the only really big thing that matters.

And because our dog Rusalka can’t stay away for whatever reason when I drag out an afghan to photograph at my parent’s house, here’s the matching dog picture:

Dog with afghan

(* Fun fact – Posie Gets Cozy was the very first crafty type blog I discovered and is what introduced me to the phenomenon of blogging. So on the (pretty much impossible) chance that Alicia ever sees this – thanks for inspiring me then, and thanks for continuing to be such a massive source of inspiration in all the years since.)

A Gathering of Rosies


It’s no secret that I love Rosie the Riveter. I’ve been her for Halloween more than once, and have a large tin reproduction of the famous “We Can Do It” poster on my desk… although – fun historical tidbit here: though “Rosie the Riveter” has been around as a cultural icon since WWII, that poster is not actually “Rosie” and in fact didn’t become associated with the term “Rosie the Riveter” until the 1980’s when the poster was rediscovered. Until then the most famous non-photography Rosie image was a Rockwell cover for the Saturday Evening Post that most people probably wouldn’t recognize today.

But anyway, maybe one day I’ll write a post about my love for Rosie and what she stands for. But today there’s a bigger issue at hand. One a gathering of Rosies is trying to bring awareness to: Saving the Historic Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Rosies at Willow Run

They need to raise $8 million dollars by May in order to purchase the property and turn it into the new home for the Yankee Air Museum, which has preserved a lot of the historic WWII aircraft that the real life Rosies would have worked on. They’re still $1.5 million short, and to bring attention to the issue and hopefully gain support from the public, they aimed to break a Guinness World Record for most Rosie the Riveters in one place. 776 Rosies, young, old, and even some of the real original Rosies who actually worked in the plant showed up.

It warms my little historian heart to see this kind of outpouring to help preserve our heritage.

If you’ve got a few extra bucks lying around (unfortunately I don’t…) consider donating to Save the Willow Run Bomber Plant. And for more information about Rosie and what she stands for, check out The Rosie the Riveter Trust.

(PS – More Rosies in the News!)

[We Can Do It poster image from Wikimedia Commons; Photo of the Rosies at Willow Run by Patrick Record of The Ann Arbor News – clicking on the photo will take you to the original article]