This cabin in Colorado looks like a great place to make it do. I would like to be there right now. (Via my favorite cabinporn)

Making the kids make do too

All along I’ve said my kids are exempt from this project. But I realize now  I’ve been resistant to buy anything for them too. The other day I panicked a little: I noticed my son Ollie seemed to be muffin-topping over his little briefs! Was he getting chubby? Closer investigation revealed simply that his underwear was getting really small. Yesterday my husband pointed out that Ollie’s long-sleeved shirt was really 3/4 length, and his pants were a good two inches above his ankle.

And even Ollie brought a pair of jeans, whose patched knees had worn-through again, to me for repair. “Mommy, you need to fix these before I can wear them anymore. I left them by your sewing machine.”

Perhaps it was time for some new clothes. We went together, which turned out to be a great way to help me stay on target. Ollie didn’t want to meander through the Ladies’ Department even if I’d been tempted. We went straight to Kids and grabbed some new t-shirts and underwear and socks. His current shirts are size 3-4, so we got everything in size 6-7.

“These shirts will surely last me a long long time, Mommy!” he told me happily as we left. I hope so. I wonder if we can make it the rest of the year without going in another store for him? Maybe a little mini-challenge, just to make things interesting? Hmmmm…

In my head

Seriously here is a conversation that happened in my head the other day:

“I haven’t been writing enough on Make It Do.”

“That’s because I’ve been so busy and running around a lot.”

“And my monitor on my desk is wonky. And my laptop isn’t good to write on.”

“I need a new computer.”

“What I really need is an Air. A MacBook Air.”

Then I envisioned the reams of content I’d produce if I owned a fabulous MacBook Air.

Stupid brain. The hardest part of this project is getting my imagination under control.


In The Great Email Unsubscribe of January 2012, I overlooked GOOP, Gwyneth Paltrow’s weekly lifestyle newsletter. It had been easy to ignore until today, when “GET - Ready for Spring” showed up. Sure I could have deleted it without reading, but I didn’t. And I safely skimmed it, knowing that “fashion investment pieces” are so rare for me that even if I weren’t making do this year, I wouldn’t be in danger of buying something. Except when I was asked to:

“Consider the jean…there are so many colors to choose from right now”

Believe me, Gwyn, I’ve been considering the jean these past few weeks. I have four pairs of pants in heavy rotation: two fine-wale black corduroys, two blue jeans. Both cords are about to wear through the seat — like must-wear-with-black-undies levels of wear. One pair of blue jeans split at the knee the other day.

I know I just need to do some mending, but lazy me is hoping to make it another month and then switch to spring clothes, like skirts and some warmer-weather pants in my summer clothes stash. Consider the mending! I tell myself. And consider the fact that those bright-colored jeans are mega-trendy, and in a few years I would never consider wearing them.

Restaurants rules

Via email:

I was curious if you have any policy on restaurants?

Ah, restaurants. This is a tricky one, especially living in New York City where pretty much everything can be delivered to your door in ten minutes, for nearly the same price as making it yourself. Groceries are expensive here, and grocery stores are small and inconvenient. But I like cooking and shopping at the farmer’s market. Even before I began this project, I cooked most of our meals.

So I don’t have a real policy on restaurants. My husband and I have a weekly date night, and we usually go out to dinner. It gives us a chance to talk and catch up during the busy week. And some nights we’ll order a pizza and watch “Wallace & Gromit” with our kids. But we don’t hit restaurants frequently, or frequently enough that I feel like I need a rule or exception for it.

Much of this project is guided by my gut: what makes me feel good? What make me feel uncomfortable? I suspect too much eating out would make me feel uncomfortable and I’d address it. But for now it’s restaurants, like most things, in moderation.

Expectations vs reality

I paid my credit card bill yesterday and I was disheartened to see so many charges. I guess I had an expectation I’d have no charges because I wasn’t buying anything. But of course I do buy things: a coffee while I’m out, diapers from Amazon, weekly groceries. And to simplify bill paying a lot of monthly charges, like my cell phone, go straight to my credit card. Seeing more charges than I’d expected deflated me.

Did I really think I was not going to buy anything at all? How would I end up with no charges on my card? What was I thinking? I don’t know, but now I find I’m trying to buy even less, just to keep those charges off. And not even buying less in a realistic way. We’re almost out of toothpaste, but I didn’t buy any! I’m headed to crazy-town thinking this way. How crazy-town? I was wondering if I could make my own saline solution as I walked past the drug store on my way home.

It’s got me wondering how much of the buying I was doing in the past few years really is unavoidable, at least until I live in the country on my self-sufficient, off the grid, farmstead. In another few months I think I’ll compare my 2012 spending with the past three years, to see how it tracks. Maybe all the buying I felt like I was doing was mostly the daily life of a twenty-first century city dweller, with the odd book or sweater thrown into the mix.

In the meantime, I think I’ll splurge on store-bought saline. Oh these justifications to save my eyes! They’re just piling up now!

In justification

I have a pinguecula, which is a “non-malignant, slow-growing proliferations of conjunctival connective tissue in the eye.” I only recently discovered this, and my eye doctor says it’s caused by UV exposure. I have blue eyes, and used to be really lazy about wearing sunglasses, so this makes sense to me.

Also? I’m in Vermont this weekend, and I forgot my sunglasses in New York.

In justification I’d tell you: the Smith sunglasses I wear for skiing (and running) were purchased in 2004, they’re scratched up, and they’re running at a cost-per-wear of under a penny these days. Also they have no protection on the side and are very narrow, so a lot of light comes in over the top. In justification I’d tell you: this is bad for my pinguecula!

In reality: I bought new sunglasses today when I was buying a new fleece for my son. (Justification there: I forgot his, and tried to squeeze him into a 2T fleece that reached his elbows and prevented him from articulating his shoulders, and it was 20°F and he needed a fleece to ski.)

You know what’s worse than a woman with perfectionistic tendencies who thinks life might be fixed by buying things to make her life perfect? A a woman with perfectionistic tendencies who decides not to buy anything for 2012! And then buys something! And is filled with anxiety about having failed already when it’s only February 3!

About two hours after I bought the stupid sunglasses, the clouds moved in and it began to snow.

Out of pocket, out of mind

On Friday, I dropped my son off at school. In the lobby some students were selling note cards. They were handmade, printed on an antique press in their classroom. The drawings were wonderful, each card a unique print in a different color. The funds would support the school. 25 cards for twenty dollars. Cash. Today only. Until the very limited supply ran out.

This is a situation in the past when I would have bought a set of cards without thinking. And in fact I totally forgot about my project and went right over to check out the cards and find out how much they were selling for. Then I thought for a bit. Did these cards count as something for me? Something for our household? Was supporting my son’s school allowed? Was this really supporting the school, or just buying something nice?

I realized I had no money. When we left, I knew it would be a quick dash, so I’d grabbed my keys and my cell phone. No wallet. No purse.

No problem.

I walked out without any cards. I still have cards I purchased in the mid-nineties clogging my shelves. As nice as these were, I don’t need any more.

Remembering the Woodswoman

Rob Fountain/Associated Press

Yesterday I stopped and pulled my old copy of Woodswoman from my bookshelf. Looking at it, I recalled years ago (1986?), driving back to all-girls’ camp in Vermont, after several nights hiking and camping in the White Mountains. In the van we were chatting away about the woods when I mentioned my interest in building a log cabin in Alaska and living in the wilderness. One of my counselors said, “You don’t have to move to Alaska, you can do it right in the Adirondacks!” and she suggested I read a book called “Woodswoman”, about a woman who had done just that.

After we arrived back at camp, unpacked gear and showered, I made my way to the mailboxes. There was a package slip in my tiny slot, and upon opening the envelope, I discovered a copy of “Woodswoman.” Coincidentally, my parents had been on a trip to the Adirondacks while I was off hiking, purchased an autographed copy of the book, and sent it to me. I devoured it, and read it again. I read her other books (again autographed copies, again purchased by my parents on return trips to the Adirondacks). I dreamed of my own woodswoman adventures.

Then a very long time passed and I forgot about being a woodswoman.

So yesterday I curled up in bed and began to read it again. About twenty pages in, I thought, “What’s Anne LaBastille up to now?” A quick search on my phone and I learned she died barely six months ago at the age of 75. I am still in shock, so sad, so surprised. How could I have missed hearing about this?

For silly and foolish reasons, I’m not in the woods skiing this weekend. My consolation, as January Manhattan drips in 59° drizzle, is to read “Woodswoman.” There is something magical about this book. It finds me when I need it most.

Reworking an old suit

From this:

To this:

Damn these sewing bloggers are goooooood! For future inspiration and confidence-building: My Favorite Mod Dress aka The Branch Division Dress from Lavender over at the Sew Weekly. Seriously, how amazing is this?!


In 2012, I'm not going to buy anything except what I've used up or worn out. For all else, I'll make do with what I already own or I'll do without. I've come up with some guidelines. Update: for 2013 I'm going to continue along, but not as strictly.


I'm Meg Hourihan. I live in New York City but was raised in Massachusetts. I blame my Yankee-ness for this crazy idea. Read more about me and this project.


Some answers to frequently asked questions.


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