Photo: Don't

Nothing "green" or Martha Stewartesque about this image, just thought it would get your attention (Credit: Jennifer via Flickr)

I confess. I've been called the "green Martha Stewart" before. Huge compliment, right? I mean, what woman at some point in her life doesn't want to be a crafty, domestic goddess? But since when is unpretentious craftiness suddenly so exclusive?

Maybe it's my inability to take a compliment but recently it started to sink in — something's not right. Why is it so novel that I've sewn my own cloth napkins and hankies (it's a square, people!), made a salad dressing from scratch or whipped-up a batch of shampoo or laundry soap?

Is anyone else out there sad because craftiness, do-it-yourself projects and actually cooking in your kitchen seems so untouchable — like you need a TV show, designer line of towels and magazine to pull it off?

Okay, so I'll admit it. There was a day when I may have teetered ever close to my "anyone can do it" philosophy when I made cat litter. Yes, it was from "scratch" (pardon the pun). But you can't blame me for trying. Who wouldn't want to shred their paper utility, phone and cable bills only to have your cat pee on them? I digress — and besides it's no longer feasible because, like many of you, I've switched to online billing.

My point is there was a time when more people cooked from scratch, sewed their own clothes and made their own home cleaning solutions. Today, I sew a set of recycled glass buttons on a jacket and people think I'm Martha Stewart. Why do you think that is?

Now, if you were to turn off the TV — likely buying yourself some extra time — what have you been meaning to do that seemed a little too Martha Stewartesque? What's stopping you?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

September 13, 2010

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Mar 09, 2012
1:55 PM

I love this post. I've been sewing since I was a child and I also knit, weave and spin. I love to make things from discarded items and have been doing it since watching my grandmother in the early 70's up until the end of her life in 2001. I think marketing has eroded people's confidence. It seems pretty common for people to assume they will be able to buy the answer to many of life's problems and situations instead of developing skills to master them. Also, as far as craftiness goes, my age group were amongst some of the last to be offered home ec classes in high school. (They may still be offered somewhere, but it's not very common). Thank you for the great articles.

Sep 29, 2010
3:33 PM

Cheryl, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the latest stats are that people watch an average of 16 hours a week — and the time they spend on the internet is climbing. 16 hours is very significant. On a personal level, I find I enjoy my life more, eat less, and get more done the less I watch TV. I watch a mere 2 — 3 hours a week on average, but if I were better at knitting I could make pretty good progress on a project in a week! My mother likes to do her ironing in front of the TV. But the real point here, I think, is to explore why we don’t — or think we don’t — have time to devote to making things from scratch. Considering doing so saves us money, it’s only logical we could work less if we made more ourselves (where practical of course, but the kitchen is a great place to start).

I find it ironic that in the same day, we’ll go to great lengths to shave minutes off our commute or the time it takes to cook rice, and then waste extra time waiting for time to pass by doing meaningless activities instead of pacing ourselves. It’s worth it to take a step back and consider our lives. Cheryl, you’re a great model for being able to balance craft and chores.

Chair, I’m totally jealous. If I were capable of making my own coat I would, rather than wandering the shops trying to find one I like. It would certainly feel more fulfilling.

Sep 22, 2010
4:55 AM

Can you explain why this is “green” soap? How does this mixture have less of an impact on the environment than any commercial laundry product? I have seen “biodegradable” soaps sold for campers — how is that different & is your solution a biodegradable soap?

Sep 20, 2010
1:39 PM

I do a lot of crafting and the comment I hear from people is “I used to do that but I don’t have time anymore”. I realise I don’t have kids and my social life leaves something to be desired but I do have to clean up after a husband, 3 birds, a hedgehog and a fish tank as well as work full time and go to school. Is the tv really taking that much time out of people’s lives?

Sep 15, 2010
8:29 PM

I think it has a lot to do with the expected convenience of everything. Why spend a few hours making my daughter a dress when there is so much variety available at a local mall for a mere $25? Why take the time to learn a skill when you can hand over your credit card to pay for the item? (When, you are in fact not even coming close to the real cost of it.) A person can be made to feel both intimidated by, yet also superior to, the idea of trying to make something that they’ve been taught their whole life, by commercials and the fashion industry, can be better made by an underpaid worker in a 3rd world country — without owning up to the fact that it was made by said underpaid worker in a 3rd world country.

It seems to me that DIY somehow turned into being synonymous for either underprivileged (can’t afford to buy) or ridiculously, wastefully wealthy (many projects in MSLiving mag). Fortunately, there seems to be a massive resurgence lately — the amazing, awesome success of sites like are a sure sign. :D

As for your question: I’m making myself a full-length, full-hooded, double-breasted winter coat out of some gorgeous upholstery fabric I found on clearance, basing it on 2 coats that I loved while pregnant but are now WAY too big for me! What’s stopping me? I first need to make a quilt that was commissioned by my sister and finish my Christmas/Yule/Solstice designs for cards that I sell on Etsy each winter! :D

THEN I’m getting my Martha on and making that coat!

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