So, I have a confession to make: by the time I gave birth on May 20, I weighed 183 pounds.

Huge! Just days before delivery at my hubby's graduation from seminary.

Huge! Just days before delivery at my hubby’s graduation from seminary.

I am 5’4″; I weighed 138 pounds pre-pregnancy. That’s a total pregnancy gain of 45 pounds!

By the time I left the hospital just two days after giving birth, I weighed 17 pounds less, thankfully! Baby, placenta, blood, uterine shrinkage, and a lot of water weight played a role in that weight loss, I’m sure. But at 166 pounds, I still had a long road to haul when I came home.

I waited until my 6-week postpartum checkup this past week before really thinking too much about the weight issue. I was glad to see I’m now down 9 more pounds (157 lbs) seemingly without trying. I’ve been very focused on my baby and making sure he grows and gains, so it’s been easy to ignore my own chub, for the most part, while passively donating my fat store’s calories to my breast milk.

But pictures like the ones below from Zeke’s dedication ceremony at church definitely remind me that, while my body did great work making a beautiful baby, it’s also become a whole new shape, complete with wobbly arms and thighs, Buddha belly, and muffin top!

At Zeke's church dedication. The baby chub is only cute on the baby.

At Zeke’s church dedication. The baby chub is only cute on the baby.

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Pregnancy really changes the body: it tilts the pelvis (creating a swayback that throws the belly forward and allows the buttocks to get flat and flabby), causes shoulders to curve inward as the body curls and slightly collapses in around that huge belly, opens and temporarily widens the lower ribcage, loosens all ligaments in the body and pelvis, leaves flabby, loose skin on the belly, adds stretch marks in some places, creates huge stores of water in the body’s cells, builds up 50% more blood in circulation, and separates the rectus abdominus muscles on the sides of the abdomen to make room for a watermelon-sized uterus. Let’s not even discuss how the thoracic organs get shoved around to make room as a part of that process.

After you give birth, it takes around 6 weeks for the uterus to go through involution and shrink back to pear-size, for your organs to slide back into some places near their old locales, and for the ligaments to firm back up as pregnancy hormones recede and excess water leaves the cells of the body. At the same time, new hormones flood your bloodstream and bond you to your baby while also turning on the milk production process in your breasts, which become very engorged, enlarged, and soft. During all of this transition, your body still has to deal with the fat stores you gained during pregnancy on your hips, thighs, tummy and breasts, putting some of it to use (300-500 calories a day!) by enriching breast milk and retaining the rest as a source of backup-reserve. Overall, your body becomes a soft, squishy landscape that resembles less of an hourglass and more of a pudgy cylinder with boobs!

Beyond breastfeeding’s gift of calorie use, dropping that extra retained baby weight is a tricky game with a baby to care for. Drop weight too quickly and your body freaks out and stops making breast milk–as a way to keep from expending calories that your body seems to need, while simultaneously starving your poor baby!

My doctor is convinced that the only healthy way to go about it is nice and slowly, using exercise to re-tone the body and to burn just a few calories at a time, while remembering that the body uses 300-500 or so calories daily just to make breast milk for the baby. Crash diets don’t fit in this scenario, although good nutrition certainly does–for mom and baby both.

To that end, I’ve started some clean eating goals and recently started jogging again for the first time in over 7 months. The first jog last week was pretty pathetic–about nine-tenths of a mile before I felt winded (yeah, my lungs are still relearning how to expand to full capacity again) and my faster-twitch muscle fibers really burned. I came back inside and did a set of abdominal exercises designed to help close separated ab muscles (as I recently felt the two sides of the rectus abdominus close two Tuesdays ago; it took that long!) and called it a night. I’m still following this pattern on days that aren’t pouring rain and when Boaz can watch the baby.

It’s slow going so far. I recognize that my body’s done an incredible thing and that it had to radically transform to do it. I have to be patient.

I also know that while it’s possible to get back to my pre-baby weight, it may not be realistically possible to get back to my old shape. As Mammy famously pointed out rather plainly to Scarlett in Gone With the Wind, my figure will never be the same after the structural remodeling that happened during pregnancy that shifted muscles, organs, ligaments, and even ribcage and pelvic bones:

But even if it can’t be as small as it was, my body can be strong and toned in its own way again. To that end, I’ll share my goals here as a way to stay accountable while I try to tighten up my soft mommy-body, which at the moment resembles a kangaroo:

  • Shrink back my post-baby 32″-waist measurement to 28.5″ (a full inch larger than my pre-pregnancy best)
  • Trim my 41″-hip measurement back to 39″ (a half-inch larger than pre-pregnancy)
  • Tone up the 24″-circumference of my upper thighs to 22.5″, roughly where it was when I took weight conditioning classes

Right now, this is visually where I am — stretch marks, linea nigra, and all:

Six weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. Long way to go!

Six weeks postpartum after my first run in seven months. 157 lbs. I have a long way to go!

I’ll be trying lots of methods to see what works, and I promise to share those, too! Hope you’ll stay with me on the journey… and wish me luck as I try to get back to fighting form!

-Ruth

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Well, folks, baby Zeke (Ezekiel) has finally arrived (May 20) and your home-couple, Boaz and Ruth, couldn’t be more thrilled!

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In the past five weeks, we’ve been establishing feeding routines and learning how to deal with the unexpected joys and difficulties of parenting a newborn that needs us 24/7!

A lot of friends have wondered how we’re making it work financially with a baby, especially since my job at a private school as a marketing assistant doesn’t pay millions and Boaz only made something in the low-4-digits this year as a grad assistant and while working another part-time job.

For those of you contemplating young parenthood, I thought I’d put together a post with a few tips we’ve learned along the 9-month-plus way:

  1. Save Early.

Can’t say it enough. Boaz and I made sure when we married that we’d try to not touch certain funds in the event of a baby; I also set up a monthly automatic transfer in my bank account that was pretty modest, but which, over the nearly four years of our marriage, helped grow my savings account in a way that didn’t pinch later.  I’m glad we have it now, since the medical bills are sure to be insane, despite my ‘natural’ childbirth in the hospital (meaning, no meds, no epidural, no surgical/device interventions… you’d think it’d be cheaper, right?  Still had the baby in hospital…so, no. #AmericanHealthcareProblems)

  1. Don’t Snub Heirlooms or Hand-Me-Downs.

Grandma has held on to that cradle for a reason, and so long as it isn’t unsafe by modern standards, make use of it; we certainly did! (By the way, Ababy.com actually will cut a custom mattress to refurbish an old cradle!) Same goes for that friend at work whose children have outgrown their old clothes, toys, books, and other reusable baby accessories. Don’t turn them down, because your baby really won’t care whether he or she spits up on something old, something new, something borrowed (but washable), or whether it’s pink or blue.

  1. Second-Hand Furniture Saves Cash.

Somewhat in keeping with the above, keep an eye out at consignment stores, Goodwill, and garage sales in the months leading up to your baby’s arrival. I bought a diaper changing table with a few scuff marks on it that at one time came new from Target… for just $25 at a consignment shop where all proceeds from sales go to charity.  Hard-surfaced furniture like this is easy to re-sanitize and clean for use again.  Remember, too, that the timeline of use for baby furniture is pretty short for most parents: why blow $100-200 on a diaper changing table that will only get used for about 50-60 months between two kids (if you plan on having two?).  Even the “look” of furniture that’s wooden or hard-surfaced is flexible; if I want to, I can paint it later to better match a nursery “theme.” I already added storage baskets to its shelves to give me more space to organize, and I think they make it look pretty cute.

  1. Remember that Friends and Family Love Gifting (Prepare to be Showered).

Lots of women freak out thinking about all the things they will need to buy for their baby.  But, like all new brides, they should relax a little: surpassing even wedding showers, your gal pals and lady relatives boast a fascinating passion for buying cute (and necessary!) baby things for your baby shower.

  1. Control Your Maternity Wear Spending.

I was exceedingly blessed to be working in a school full of female faculty when I announced my pregnancy. I had a math teacher show up at my desk, who, realizing we were close to the same pre-pregnancy size, offered me the use of her maternity wardrobe, realizing that, since she and her husband were likely “done” and her sister-in-law (for whom she’d kept the wardrobe around) likely might snub some of the non-namebrand items, the best use for it in the meantime might be to loan it to me for the few short months in which I’d need the clothes. Awesome!

I wound up only needing to purchase a pair of jeans, a few sweaters, and my own maternity underthings (maternity and nursing bras and larger-waisted panties), in addition to a larger pair of shoes(!) to get by for the rest of my pregnancy, and I did this through both a local Goodwill with a maternity rack and through Target’s clearance sales. Even if the “look” I sported wasn’t quite me, it was still professional enough for work and I felt very comfortable – and grateful—to not have to shell out more money to make outfits appropriate for work wear.

Oh, and I should mention: for workout wear and sleepshirts, I raided my husband’s wardrobe for undershirts, jerseys and even his basketball shorts.  It amused him to see some of his larger stuff go over my huge belly, since I kept working out up until my 37th week.  My old yoga pants also went surprisingly far into my pregnancy with me, which was a nice surprise!

  1. Pregnancy Education and Fitness Can Be (Mostly) Free.

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    Exercise is important for both the birth and recovery. Here we are about 75 hours after the birth, on our first walk together. I was tired, but it was good for me and for him.

When you’re pregnant, you’ll get a lot of invitations from hospitals and even gyms (how do they find out?) via mail and other means that ask you to attend their Childbirth Education/Newborn Care Education/Prenatal Yoga/Prenatal Cardio classes.  These classes can cost an arm and a leg.

Luckily, most newborn care education can be found free or mostly free online (YouTube does have some available from reputable sources) and through your local library. I found that for childbirth education, dusting off that old card and picking up some of the old tapes on the Lamaze or Bradley Birthing Methods really worked well. Also, there are a huge amount of books out there on all these topics, and Amazon really helped me score some deals on these.

As a couple, we found that going this route gave us great flexibility: my busy student husband couldn’t make a series of classes consistently with me, but we could carve out some time on weekends to watch a chapter or two of a rented DVD together during his downtime. We also read through several books in bed together.

As far as fitness – There are a TON of prenatal yoga and fitness classes on YouTube!  Just be sure that you ask your doctor to advise you about what exercises are appropriate to your stage of pregnancy (hint: if a fitspert asks you to do crunches or other exercises on your back after your first trimester – run!).  I was able to keep up with yoga, walking, and even do some safe cardio (elliptical) and weight training (kettle bells are awesome for the pelvic floor) during my pregnancy, just by making use of the equipment at the school where I work and the mat I have at home.

  1. Shell Out For What’s Most Important – And Save in the Long Run.

    Baby Zeke - Just minutes old!

    Baby Zeke – Just minutes old and super-alert!

There is a very good time and place to spend your money when it comes to preparing for a baby, and that is in preparation for the birth itself!  I knew early on that I didn’t want a C-section delivery if I could avoid it, not only because of the long recovery, but also the sticker shock!  I also had read enough to convince me that an unmedicated, natural birth was the healthiest route for the baby overall – and would have the shortest recovery time for me, too.  But how could I go about securing that, or at least, giving myself the best chances for my best-case scenario?  Anything can happen during birth!

Statistically, there was only one element I had read about that really made a difference in what happened in the birthing room: the guidance and presence of a doula, or childbirth coaching professional, who emphasizes the mother’s emotional and physical comfort and applies evidence-based knowledge about birth positions to encourage labor progress.  A 2011 Cochrane Review (1) reported the combined findings from 21 randomized controlled trials, including over 15,000 laboring women, which revealed that doula-supported mothers were:

  • 28% less likely to have a C-section (with some individual studies reporting upwards of 60%)
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) to speed up labor
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication
  • 34% less likely to reflect negatively on their childbirth experience

Those are certainly numbers not to ignore!  So what did I do?

More research – this time, into the work of local doulas in my area, reading review after review and even meeting some for coffee.  To my mind, it would be better to hire a doula to help me (for roughly $1,000), as a first-time mom, to engage in the childbirth process with less fear and with better support, than to simply “go it alone” and rely wholly on the Western-trained US Healthcare system, which has one of the highest C-section rates in the world, and take my chances with a $15,000 C-section bill or the traumatic psychological cost of a childbirthing scenario-turned-nightmare that happens to many women when interventions like Pitocin speed labor beyond the body’s (or baby’s) ability to cope.

Maybe my cost-benefit analysis was flawed, but regardless, I have no regrets.

My DONA-certified (2) doula was an incredible woman with a nursing background who took the time to get to know me before the birth so that we could establish a bond of trust and focus my childbirth preparations on evidence-based practices for labor support and pain management. She came to understand my birthing wishes and was ready and willing to support me in them at the hospital. There were a few times when interventions were offered to me by the hospital staff, with the major one happening when I showed up at the hospital with contractions 3 minutes apart, only to discover that, while 90% effaced, I was still only 2 centimeters dilated (“You could stay, and we could give you something to speed it along…” “No, no thanks.”)  I went home instead, and labored in the surroundings of home, where I could drink and eat when I wanted, shower for self-comfort, throw up in privacy when things got intense, shower again, and have my cat for additional company as I paced and swayed with my husband to encourage gravity to move things along.

When I returned to the hospital six hours later, I only had about 2 hours left to go before a bit more walking (which the staff wasn’t keen on me doing, but my doula monitored me during) got me to 9 centimeters—and through the transition stage, nearly ready for pushing.  The entire time, my doula was providing comfort measures, showing my husband how to help me get into better positions, and encouraging me to advocate for myself and what I wanted in a situation that otherwise may have felt out of my control.

In this scenario, my sense of control took away my fear. The pain of labor also became less shocking, more normalized, more progressive. Like the frog in the proverbial boiling pot, once I was in labor, even though it grew more intense, I also became increasingly more able to handle each new level of intensity. By the time I thought about maybe, just maybe allowing for some chemical pain intervention, the baby was practically crowning, and I was in the home-stretch (literally, stretch).  Again, my doula’s knowledge helped here: after an hour of pushing, she retrieved her rebozo band (similar to a scarf or exercise band), and gave me one end of it to pull on as I simultaneously pushed. With the help of this ancient form of applied mechanical physics, and three more pushes, baby Ezekiel arrived –pink and alert, with a perfect APGAR score, ready to meet us and eager for the breast. I’d never been more exhausted or more glad!

  1. Breast is Best – for Wallet and Baby.

While formula is arguably more convenient, it’s also expensive and doesn’t carry the benefits of real milk… so I’d encourage any budget-conscious prospective moms out there to prep themselves for breastfeeding if possible. And it DOES take preparation. I’m very glad I didn’t just assume that breastfeeding would come naturally to me; I took the time and took the classes and even saw a lactation consultant in advance (through my doula) who helped me recognize a good vs. bad latch, how to correct or modify a latch, how different holds affect a baby’s latch, and even how to make friends with my breast pump.  Days later, when I was in the muzzy, exhausted post-delivery state, when the nurses handed me my baby, I knew what to do to establish good feeding practices from the start and recognize bad ones.  I was happy to know when I was two weeks postpartum that my lactation consultant would still be available to help me (again, through my doula) when I noticed some odd things about Zeke’s latch that eventually led us to discover a tongue-tie, which has since been corrected.

  1. Prep for the Postpartum.

    This is what those strange little placenta capsules look like.

    This is what those strange little placenta capsules look like.

Lastly, when considering the recovery ahead after birth, I thought long and hard about my family’s history with depression and decided to try to prevent Postpartum Depression if I could.  One of the ways I did this was by simply taking daily walks and being sure to spend time with friends and family (this is free); the other way I did this Came with a small cost, but might have saved me heavier costs of therapy and medication: I had my placenta dried and encapsulated to dose myself with during that first month after birth.

Most mammals eat their placentas; so did women in many ancient human cultures. It’s weird but not unheard of–even today.

I’d met many women through my doula who had embraced placentophagy (consumption of the placenta) as a practice and swore by it. Since there are so few actual studies on this practice right now, it was only the very high number of personal anecdotal accounts from people I knew that swayed me.  And I have to say that, beyond the weirdness of it (which is diminished when taking placenta in capsule form), the effects of this nutrient and hormone-rich organ seem to have only benefitted me. My energy has been excellent, my post-birth anemia was checked quickly, and my mood had only very temporary lapses (I cried, I got over it, I went on to enjoy my day). Did the cost of encapsulation ultimately save me some money by supporting my overall physical and mental health? I really do think so.

That’s all of my tips for now. I hope some of these ideas were helpful or inspired you in your own pregnancy or pre-pregnancy journey.  Thanks for reading!

-Ruth

NOTES:

  1. Hodnett, E.D.; Gates, S.; Hofmeyr, G.J.; Sakala, C.; Weston, J. “Continuous support for women during childbirth.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011 Feb 16; (2):CD003766.
  1. Doulas of North America (DONA).

Want to know who my doula was, or need details about any other service I mentioned here? Message me; I’m happy to put you in contact!

I am so shocked sometimes at what store-bought “natural” chemical peels cost!

But I sure do love the bang that those lightly acidic zingers do for the face in terms of killing off acne bacteria and revealing fresh, glowy skin cells! At 27, my skin has slowed down its cell turnover enough that I often see dullness, but it still creates enough oil for acne…So, needing a facial is rather common for me!

What does a girl do when she needs a facial and can’t justify the $35-a-jar stuff from Sephora in her budget?

She goes to the produce aisle and raids her cabinets!

All the ingredients are there. Let’s grab some:

  • Baking Soda
  • Honey
  • Fresh lemon (cut in half, or if a big lemon, in quarters)

Got your goodies yet?  We’re ready to do this thing.

Enjoy this awkward step-by-step shot from my iPhone at night. Wonderful photography, I tell ya!

 

Step 1: Prep the Natural Chemical Peel

Note the Aldi's products. See? Saving money already!

Note the Aldi’s products (honey and baking soda). See? Saving money already!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour the honey on first after you've squeezed the lemon a bit.  The honey has natural antibacterial properties!

Pour the honey on first after you’ve squeezed the lemon a bit. The honey has natural antibacterial properties!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then add the acid neutralizer: Baking Soda. The honey will keep it separate from the acidic lemon juice until you're ready to apply it all to your face. And the baking soda is a nice exfoliant!

Then add the acid neutralizer: Baking Soda. The honey will keep the soda separate from the acidic lemon juice until you’re ready to apply it all to your face. At that time, the baking soda makes a nice exfoliant!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2: Prep the Face by Cleansing

Off with makeup!  I'm using Trader Joe's green tea soap.

Off with makeup! I’m using Trader Joe’s green tea soap. If my Clarisonic had a new head, I’d use it instead of a towel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 3: Gently Rub on the Mixture

Boy, you can see how badly I need this. All broken out on the forehead and chin.  Ick!

Boy, you can see how badly I need this. All broken out on the forehead (and chin, not shown). Ick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 4: Try Not to Pick at the Lemony Bits as Mixture Sits for 5 Minutes

Failing at not picking/dabbing at the bits of lemon flesh leftover.

Failing at not picking/dabbing at the bits of lemon flesh left over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5: Rinse Completely Off

All clean!

All clean!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 6: Put on Your Anti-Agers and Moisturizers of Choice

 

Love, love, love this stuff. And it's so cheap on Amazon. At night, I add a little coconut oil to this for moisture.

Love, love, love this stuff. Smells like orange and vanilla and is full of retinol and Vitamin C. And it’s so cheap on Amazon considering how long a bottle lasts! At night, I add a little coconut oil to this for moisture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the day, I use the Simple Moisturizer with SPF 15 when I'm not spending more than an hour or two outside.

During the day, I use the Simple Protecting Moisturizer with SPF 15 when I’m not spending more than an hour or two outside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 7: Wait a Few Days and Repeat As Needed… Until You See Results

 

LEFT: Age 27.5. RIGHT: Age newly-22.

LEFT: Age 27.5.
RIGHT: Age newly-22.

 

 

This is after about 10 days, doing the Lemon-Honey Peel twice and resting a few days in-between. I’m still a little broken out on the “phone-side” of my chin, but I think a lot of my former “glow” is restored. What do you think, reader?

Until next time, your stingy, citrus-y friend,

 

Ruth

 

 

There was twirling. Much twirling. Photo courtesy of my friend Olivia; background courtesy of southern Indiana and the Ohio River.

There was twirling. Much twirling. Photo courtesy of my friend Olivia; background courtesy of southern Indiana and the Ohio River.

Back in college, I loved dressing like a cross between a gypsy ragamuffin, Victorian heroine, and fairy princess all put together.

Hence why I loved this skirt.

It was a tiered composite of patterned cotton, mostly yellow and had greys and browns and pinks and reds and white all put together in a sort of tiered peasant style.  It was gloriously simple; I could just pull it on with the elastic over my hips like a little girl–and run around!  I might have done that often. See this photographic evidence from 2009….

But what is a young lady to do when she not only leaves behind her early–heck, even her mid-twenties (when such frippery is appropriate) and then destroys that much-needed elastic waistband after so many years of playful wear?

Toss it out and buy something more adult and functional? Not if she’s cash-strapped and has an emotional attachment to the skirt.

No…Ruth, being Ruth, harvests and refashions.

Now, I’m no where near a refashionista, and certainly not the Refashionista (go ahead, click that link and visit her site!).  But I do have some skills with a needle and thread.

With a Sunday with some downtime and some Netflix, I got working. And since it turned out okay, for your benefit, I made a little tutorial.

 

TIERED SKIRT TO INFINITY SCARF REFASHION TUTORIAL

STEP 1. Cut around the area of the skirt you want to keep, keeping the material in its original, complete skirt-circle. Make sure the diameter of this skirt-circle is sufficient to allow for wrapping around your neck; if it isn’t, you may need to “break” the circle, and cut several long strips instead. Keep any existing skirt lining as well, if possible. Toss the unwanted fabric.

Step 1

Choppity chop! I wanted to keep the grey parts and the patterned calico with red flowers; luckily, they were already sewn together in the original skirt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2: If one strip of the salvaged patterned fabric is not contiguous with the other, you’ll need to add another step here to stitch the two strips together, stitching in a narrow seam with the patterns sides facing each other. Fold the two patterned pieces of fabric at the tier of the skirt where the different fabric patterns now meet at a seam, tucking the lining or other type of inner-facing inside to add extra volume to the scarf.   Gather the edges of the fabric together, forming a tube by pinching the raw edges towards the inside to make a seam.

 

Pinch those raw edges! See the lining inside, sort of like "stuffing" to make it fluffy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3.  The tricky part is next. Close the “tube” by pinning it shut, gathering the fabric as needed to ensure that the circular shape is retained; occassionally pick up the lining or innerfacing as you do this so that the “stuffing” doesn’t bunch up inside in weird places.

 

I cheated a little and just gathered as I stitched... but ideally, your gathers/pins should look a bit like this.

I cheated a little and just gathered as I stitched… but ideally, your gathers/pins should look a bit like this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 4: Sew down your gathers, keeping your raw edges inside. If you want to be clever, cheat your gathers by using a gather stitch, as I do here. How do you do a gather stitch? Imagine you’re drawing a dotted line with your needle, stitching through the looser piece of fabric horizontally, with stitches about 1/4″ apart from each other. Once you’ve done that for a few inches, pull your thread tight, and watch your fabric bunch and gather neatly. Go back over the gathered bit and stitch down the gathers so they lie a little flatter and tighter against each other and the other piece of patterned fabric.

 

Step 4 gather1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 5:  Repeat Step 4 all the way around, adjusting as you go to keep that nice circle!

 

Step 4 gather

Keep it goin’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Done?  Tie off the thread and make a fabulous outfit that’s ready for late-summer, early fall!  Twist it one way to reveal the pattern you prefer, or keep twisting to show both patterns at once!

Tada! Le Scarf! Pair it with fun.

Tada! Le Scarf! Pair it with fun.

 

Cost = $0.00.

Rafashion satisfaction? Priceless.

 

Tune in next Thursday for some more thrifty fun!  There might be another posting on a different topic next week as well — if a wild hair attacks me in the interim.