Author Archives: TheKerrminator

About TheKerrminator

Sara Kerr, The Kerrminator, is an Artist, Designer, and Illustrator located in the Portland, Oregon area.

Hunger Action Month 2018

This is just a quick note that September is Hunger Action Month and although we’re already about halfway through the month, there’s still time to get out there and do something. I suggest checking out FeedingAmerica.org to find a local food bank or doing a google search for opportunities near you to volunteer some of your time.

My experience with food banks has been with the Beaverton location of the Oregon Food Bank. This location receives donations from around the state, sorts donations, repacks bulk food into family-sized portions, labels canned food donations, then sends the donations to partner agencies across Oregon and parts of SW Washington where the food is then distributed to families.

The staff is super friendly, and the other volunteers are interesting people to talk to. Often times work groups come with highly motivated (competitive) attitudes to pack more food than other groups, which brings a lot of energy to the shifts. There are a few different types of volunteer shifts you can sign up for and shifts are about 2-3 hours long. If you’re located in Oregon and would like to volunteer at one of the OFB’s locations, check out how to here, www.oregonfoodbank.org/get-involved/volunteer/.

 

The shift I enjoy most is the perishable repack shift, which involves bagging and boxing lots of different donations such as frozen green beans, fresh potatoes, frozen carrots, frozen corn on the cob, flour, and frozen snap peas. They also have “Fresh Alliance” shifts, which involve sorting through refrigerated donations that, I believe, were donated by grocery stores. Volunteers check expiration dates, and inspect for quality, freshness, and package condition.

Pallets of a bulk potato donation.

 

family sized bags of potatoes
Potatoes bagged by volunteers into family sized portions.

 

The Beaverton food bank also holds shifts at the Westside Learning Garden where volunteers help maintain the garden and harvest produce that gets distributed to local organizations as well.

 

Take a moment this weekend to find a local food bank and sign up for a shift this month. If your employer offers VTO, utilize some of that time, or donate food or make a monetary donation – take action this month!

 

My garden produced way more potatoes this year than I can eat so I donated about 15 pounds of my harvest to the Oregon Food Bank.

Impression of My First ‘Imperfect Produce’ Box

I was not sponsored by Imperfect Produce. My opinions and experiences expressed here are my own and I am not affiliated with Imperfect Produce.


Imperfect Produce is subscription-based service that delivers produce to your doorstep that would otherwise be wasted due to either irregularities that don’t meet grocery store standards (size, color, asymmetry, scarring), surplus, or the lack of a consumer market for something.

From Imperfect Produce’s website:

“Imperfect fights food waste by finding a home for ‘ugly’ produce. We source it directly from farms and deliver it to customers’ doors for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. Our subscription produce box is affordable, convenient, customizable, healthy, and delicious.”

Read more detail about Imperfect Produce on their “About Us” page as well as on their FAQs page.

 

How Imperfect Produce Works

4 box types for Imperfect Produce
2018 Imperfect Produce Signup page box types.

You can check their Sign Up page to see if you’re in an area they deliver to (currently only a handful of cities). You can choose from four different box types: Organic, Mixed Fruits & Veggies, All Fruit, or All Veggies. Once you select the box type you want, you can choose from the array of sizes and the frequency you’d like to receive your box, which is either weekly or every other week.

A few days before your delivery date you get an email saying you can log in to customize your box. You have a relatively short window to do this – about 32 hours. Our boxes were delivered on a Monday and I was able to edit it the previous Thursday starting at 3:00pm until 11:00pm on Friday. Once the customization window closes, what you had selected is what you’re getting (supply permitting). Then just wait for it to show up. Well, I mean don’t JUST sit there and wait – live your life and all that.

A few convenient things you can do once you’re signed up is you can easily choose to skip a week, edit your box size, and still choose from the different types of boxes. You’re not stuck with the box type you chose at sign up – you can change it up.

On my delivery day they sent me a text letting me know my box was getting close with a link to track the truck. . . at the same time, I received a text saying it had been delivered. So, by “getting close” they meant the front door. 🙂

Imperfect Produce Delivery Truck Tracker

 

My First Imperfect Produce box

Monday August 20, 2018
Portland, Oregon metro area

My delivery window was between 3:00pm – 11:00pm and the boxes were delivered at 6:00pm, which was actually pretty convenient. It was hot that day (mid to upper 90’s) so it’s possible the produce would have gotten a little “sad” had it been delivered any earlier or had I not been home at the time. I ordered the Mixed Fruits and Veggies box, size medium and below is the side-by-side of what I order and what I received.

 

Ordered:

Received:

1 lb of potatoes
3 red bell peppers
3 green bell peppers
1 organic celery heart
2 cucumbers
5 carrots
1 bunch of kale
1 cauliflower
1 lb of beets
1 lb of onions
1 lb of peaches
1 lb of plums
1 lb of apples
1 lb of pears
1 lb of nectarines
3 naval oranges
0.5lbs of Medjool Dates
6 Limes
5 Kiwis
2 lbs California Organic Mill Grade Brown Rice    
Alter Eco Dark Mint Truffles (10ct)
A recipe card for a blueberry smoothie
A welcome kit (information sheet)

3 potatoes
3 red bell peppers
3 green bell peppers
1 organic celery heart
1 large cucumber
8 carrots
1 bunch of purple kale
1 cauliflower
2 beets (no greens)
5 onions
4 peaches
4 plums
3 apples
4 pears
4 nectarines
3 naval oranges
~10 Medjool Dates
6 limes
6 kiwis
2 lb bag California Organic Mill Grade Brown Rice
Alter Eco Dark Mint Truffles (10ct)
A recipe card for a blueberry smoothie
A welcome kit (information sheet)

The Produce, etc.

A couple of the items were not as fresh as they could have been – several of the carrots were rubbery (they’ll be fine in soup), one of the limes needed to be tossed within two days, and the peaches got wrinkly quick. I had to toss a peach that got moldy fairly soon after we got it too, but at least the things that went bad had a home in my compost bin.

Some of the fruit didn’t have delicious, sweet flavor, but most was amazing. I ate one of the naval oranges while writing this and had to stop to just eat the whole thing. A couple of the nectarines had an off-texture that was almost spongy. I give this a pass though because even some of the “pretty” produce I get at the grocery store is hit or miss as far as flavor and texture goes. Can’t always know until you eat it. It’s worth mentioning again that the weather was warm the week we got our box so I’m not surprised some of our fruit went bad quickly.

The vegetables have been great. The bell peppers are almost gone, ate the cauliflower last night, 2 of the onions are gone, the kale is half gone, and the rest will keep for a while.

It’s interesting that they sometimes have non-produce items available as well. We got the brown rice and mint truffles, both of which were good. No complaints there other than I wish there were more truffles.

I thought it was helpful of them to include their storage guide because I think a lot of people (myself included) refrigerate more than we need to or keep fruits together that cause faster ripening. This sort of information is great for reducing food waste at home.

All told, our first box delivery cost us $35.03. This included the $4.99 delivery fee, and minus the $2.99 cost of the brown rice (they thought we hadn’t received it).

Downsides

I don’t like that I can’t see how much I paid for each item in my order history; all I can see is the total cost for that week’s box. Maybe I’m alone on this, but I like to see how the costs of things are changing over time. I’d have to remember to take a screen shot during the customization period in order to track that.

They deliver the produce in cardboard boxes and although I know they can’t reuse them for food safety reasons, it’s still an item that’s more often than not, just being recycled after one use. I did find a use for mine in the garage so the first two will live on, but as time goes on and more produce is delivered, I don’t know that I’ll be able to find a use for all of them and off to the recycling center they will go. One thing each and every box will be used for is ferret-play-time because new smells = amazing to ferrets snouts.

Ferrets playing in Imperfect Produce Box

Other Oddities

My selections indicated I’d get 2 cucumbers, but I received 1 – it was a very large cucumber though so I’m not complaining. I think that’s fair, but other people may not think so, which is why I’m mentioning it. I also received an extra kiwi, a few extra carrots, and I got reimbursed for the rice because they thought I didn’t receive it in my box (I emailed them and let them know I did, but their customer service rep told me to enjoy the rice on them). *thumbs-up*

One thing I found odd about the customization process was that I signed up for a “medium” box, but by adding and removing things to my box, I had no idea if my box was “full”. My produce ended up coming in 2 boxes so I guess based on how much I paid, I ended up purchasing an “extra-large” box simply because I kept adding things. I was pleased by the care they took with not stuffing my box full, but instead splitting it into two boxes so the produce at the bottom didn’t get crushed. Big *thumbs-up*

Imperfect Produce Delivery 1 Box 1 Imperfect Produce Delivery 1 Box 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

Imperfect Produce - #cookingugly - Brown Rice, Red and Green Bell Peppers, Onion, and Celery

My first impression of my first box is, I wasn’t blown away by it, but I’m not disappointed either. I was annoyingly excited about receiving it and I’m still hyped about the company and the work they’re doing, but there is room for improvement. I typically buy groceries from Winco and they already have amazingly low prices on produce, so next time I’m there I’ll compare prices on these items to see how much my box of produce would have cost there. Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see a price comparison between my Imperfect Produce selections and my local grocery store. I get the feeling the prices will be comparable, but what this did save me was time driving to and from the grocery store, putzing around the store, dodging annoying people, and waiting in the checkout line. As a millennial who embraces introversion, I call this first experience a win 😉 Aside from convenience and potential cost savings, I support this company primarily because I hate food waste. I think they are doing something worthwhile and I’d love to dive deeper in another post about their impacts on food waste.

 

Imperfect Produce - #cookingugly - Cooked Red and Green Bell Peppers, Onion, and CeleryImperfect Produce may not necessarily be the best option for everyone. For example, people who tend to not cook at home much or find themselves throwing out produce because it goes bad before they get a chance to eat it may not see the full benefit of buying Imperfect. There are positive aspects for the consumer such as saving time, and helping alleviate a global problem (food waste), but if you find yourself throwing out produce at home, the food is still getting wasted. I get why it’s appealing to people in this busy world to have fresh produce delivered, but there are other grocery delivery options other than Imperfect Produce that may better suit your lifestyle, such as Instacart. That being said, I don’t want to deter people from trying it. I still recommend giving it a chance because you may be inspired to cook at home more and use the produce before it goes bad as well as eat healthier. There will always be some food that goes bad – we have our busy days, weeks, months – so make the best of it – compost what you can, freeze fruits that are starting to ripen too quickly, put your wilted greens in some water, or make a big batch of something and freeze the rest for a hectic night. 

Imperfect Produce - #cookingugly - Brown Rice, Red and Green Bell Peppers, Onion, and Celery, and Tofu

I just customized my second box and as of right now, I plan on continuing my subscription. I’m looking forward to cutting down on shopping trips, especially once the school term starts up in a few weeks, and continuing to support a company working to reduce food waste. Please share your experiences buying and eating Imperfect! I’d love to know how it’s working for other subscribers.

Leave me a comment or *like* this post if you’d be interested in hearing my perspectives on the impact Imperfect Produce is having on food waste and on the communities within the cities they deliver. I’ve come across some articles talking about possible negative impacts of Imperfect Produce on donations to food banks, and I think it would make an interesting discussion.

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Check here to see if Imperfect Produce delivers in your area. If they do, find out if any of your friends are signed up and get a referral code from them so you get a credit on your first box – they’ll get a credit as well! If you don’t know anyone currently signed up, you can always use mine – just ask.

I almost dropped out

Fall term was rough. I had a close friend run into some troubles and I was spending a lot of time making sure their life stays on track. I also had a death in the family during the first week of the term, which was somewhat expected, but none-the-less heartbreaking. On top of that, I was commuting about 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. After 10 weeks and almost 8,500 miles, I needed a break and the plan was to take a year off.

Thanks to the wonderful world of financial-aid-fuckery, I couldn’t take a break. That would mean my six-month grace period would kick in and I’d have to start making payments on my loans. This wouldn’t be a huge deal since the plan was to get a full-time job. However, after I do finish my final year I’d have to start making payments again immediately after graduation since the grace period will have already been used up. This is an issue because my path to becoming a Registered Dietitian involves applying and paying for an internship in order to get the RD credential. Basically, I’d be in an unpaid internship for a year post graduation AND I’d have to be paying off my school loans. There may be deferment options in this situation, but I don’t want to run the risk or deal with the paperwork, phone calls, etc. I decided to reduce my credit hours to half-time so I’m still making progress on my degree and I can put off student loan payments a little while longer.

It’s currently 3 weeks into Winter term and things are going well. I’m really glad to be taking the term at a slower pace. All that craziness of last term and all the nonsense of figuring out credit-hour requirements aside, I’m glad I didn’t take a full-on break. Being able to take fewer classes and spend more time on the material with less stress and anxiety means I’m able to retain more information and maintain my sanity. I’ve always been the type of person that needs to take my time and digest information slowly and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

I think it’s really important for people to take things at a pace that challenges them, but it should also work well for them. I can’t speak for anyone else or tell you all how you should run your lives, so I’ll just say from my experience, mental health, physical health, and sleep are worth more than finishing a degree in four years (among other things).

#itsnotarace

Curbing Food Waste Little by Little

I was happy to see an article in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ August issue about food waste in the United States. The article is brief, but it talks about some ways Dietitians can try to get involved in this global issue. I whole-heartedly agree that food waste is an issue dietitians can be involved in! As someone working toward a degree in nutrition with the hopes of becoming a Registered Dietitian, I’m happy to see the profession is conscious of the roll they can play in teaching people how to not waste nutrients, while also teaching how to consume nutrients.

Here Lies Cucumber | Sara Kerr | 08.24.2017

I try to reduce food waste in my house as much as possible, but often, it really can’t be helped. I think a lot of us just have such busy work/school/recreational lives that concerning ourselves with saving every scrap of food just isn’t a priority. What does motivate me is saving money. I’m currently a full-time student and I don’t like the idea of wasting perfectly good food. However, sometimes I just cannot eat all the bananas fast enough before they become over-ripe, and there’s only so much banana bread I can tolerate. Or sometimes I’ll forget there’s a half-used cucumber in the bottom of the vegetable drawer and by the time I re-discover it, it’s slimy and gross. R-I-P cucumber.

I don’t want to bore you with stats and numbers about how much food is wasted globally – there are a fair number of documentaries, blogs and videos available online that will try to persuade/guilt you into changing. It certainly frustrates me knowing how much food is wasted, especially on the production side of our food system, but getting worked up or frustrated about something I can’t change is wasted energy. Instead, I want to share with you two things I do around my house to limit food waste.

Edible Vegetable Scraps for Stock

Frozen Vegetable Scraps | Sara Kerr | 08.24.2017This is obvious and nothing new, but I think a lot of people think they don’t have the time for it, but making vegetable stock is a great way to save money and reduce waste. I keep a plastic bag in my freezer and whenever I have a piece of vegetable scrap I decide whether it’s worthy of making stock from it or whether it should go into the compost. I realize it’s hard fitting something new into your routine especially when it’s easy and familiar to toss scraps into the trash. Initially, it can be difficult to remember there’s a plastic bag in the freezer for scraps, however, I encourage you to give it a try.

I do want to reason with you for a second if you feel making vegetable stock is something you can’t do or don’t want to: you’re going to throw those scraps out anyway, so instead of throwing them in a garbage bag, throw them in the freezer bag. They can keep for a fairly long time and when you want to take a stab at making stock, all you have to do is throw them into a pot with some water, let them simmer on the stove and then strain out and save the liquid. It’s really simple and not as intimidating or as daunting as you may think, plus it saves you money by making stock from stuff you would have just thrown out. If you already know how to do this, great! Help a friend do it!

Compost

Composted Eggshells | Sara_Kerr | 08.24.2017Again, this is probably a very obvious thing, but it’s worth mentioning composting. I realize not everyone has a backyard, but there are ways to compost on your balcony or even on your countertop. When I lived in an apartment I utilized two 5 gallon buckets stacked one inside the other with holes drilled in the bottom of the upper bucket to allow drainage.

Currently, I have a small bin on my counter where I put vegetable scraps and once a week (ish) I take it outside to my compost pile, now that I’m living in a house. During the winter I keep a small compost bin outside our back door on the deck (the one I has used on our apartment balcony) so I can dump our indoor bin into that one and then once the one on the deck gets full, I take that one over to the main compost pile. This is just so I don’t have to step out into the rain or snow every time. I don’t know if “lazy” or “wuss” is more accurate, but it’s what works for me, so don’t judge! 🙂

Every couple weeks I take a pitchfork and turn the compost so that the air can get to some of the stuff underneath and so the stuff on top gets covered where the microbes can get to it. I also compost other things, but I can talk more about my composting in another article.

Compost Pile | Sara Kerr | 08.24.2017

Well those are two of the ways I try to cut down on wasted food in my house! I think an important thing to note is that even if food has gone bad, that doesn’t mean it has gone to waste! Composting is a good way to make use of those food scraps. Let us know what ways you cut down on food waste in your house in the comments below. Also, let me know if you’d like to see a video “tour” of my compost or how to make vegetable broth or something similar on my YouTube channel. Thanks for reading!

The Heart is Fascinating

Photo I took of a prepared slide showing the layers of cells of the esophagus.

I took 3 terms of anatomy this past school year and enjoyed the hell out of it. There were so many things I learned that I felt stupid for not knowing already. It’s seems weird to me that we all have this stuff in us, but not all of us are taught much about it. I think it also comes down to being taught when you’re in a mindset to receive the information – a lot of students do poorly in subjects because they really don’t find them interesting and can’t stay focussed. For example, it wasn’t until the 5th grade that I actually started to like science; I hated it before that. I remember getting a 29 on an exam in 4th grade – I saw the grade through the back of the test and was excited because my little brain got confused and thought it was a 92. Man was I shocked when we were allowed to flip it over and review what we missed.

I like science now though. My only complaint is we have to cram so much material into 10 weeks that I don’t feel like I get the opportunity to absorb as much as I could if I was given more time. But that’s the way school is (at least where I attend). I would like to spend extra time reviewing what I’ve learned, but I don’t want to set a plan in stone of what I have in mind – I’ve announced my plans before and it just makes me seem like a flake if I end up not really being into it and decide not to follow through. All I’ll establish is this – I want to review what I’ve learned and I may post about it; I may not, but today I am. No expectations!

You likely read the title already so you know I want to talk about the heart. In the labs we were able to dissect a pig pluck, which for those of you who don’t know, it’s the esophagus, trachea, heart, and lungs of a pig. I believe they are removed and set aside when pigs are butchered so they can be sent to anatomy labs like mine. Waste not! I’d be curious to know if any high schools provide pig plucks for dissection. The best things my school got were frogs.

At any rate, in my university’s anatomy class we were able to dissect the heart and lungs and examine the other parts of the pig pluck in a very non-structured, explore-at-your-own-pace sort of way. The most interesting part was when we cut the heart open to see the atria, ventricles, valves, and muscular walls. I wish I had taken pictures of it, but plucks are pretty bloody. They come from a butcher and aren’t drained and preserved like the cadavers. (I wish we could have taken pictures of the cadavers! Unfortunately, that would get us into a lot of trouble.)

I’ve been practicing drawing the heart and this is a (slightly distorted) line drawing I did while referencing a handout from class. It’s just to get my eye used to the shapes and how all the arteries and veins tangle around. I think that’s all I’ll share for now!

 

Hey! If you aren’t already – follow me on twitter @The_Kerrminator and tweet me fun and interesting sci-art stuff!

 

Workout Bunnies T-Shirt Giveaway!

crossfit-bunnies-workout-bunnies-5843As I mentioned in a post from a couple days ago, Workout Bunnies is a new social-networking site designed around finding workout partners in your area. The site and apps are still in early development so bear with us as we work out the kinks! You can download the Workout Bunnies Android App here, and the iPhone App will be coming along soon!

We’re launching a t-shirt line along with the site, which we designed to have a friendly and approachable look so when you see someone on the street wearing one of our t-shirts you know exactly why they’re wearing it and you instantly have a reason to strike up a conversation. We all want to live long, healthy lives and learning about how others are getting healthy can be incentive enough to dust off those dumbbells, paddles, or sneakers and start training. . .

jogger-bunnie-workout-bunnies-5831

What we need right now is PEOPLE! So let me ask you this:

Have you ever thought about working out or doing some sort of physical activity and didn’t have anyone to go with or the people you asked turned you down so you just didn’t go?

Do you ever feel unmotivated to make time for exercise?

Are you a parent and need more parents to hang out with and do kid-activities with?

Are there new activities you want to try out, but don’t have someone to go with?

Have you been gaining weight and could benefit from having a partner to help keep you going?

I could ask at least a hundred more questions, but I think you get the point. We all have excuses about why we don’t exercise. Workout Bunnies is your answer to finding new people to workout with. You can search for a jogging bunnie in your town, find new a gym bunnie, or maybe you have an elderly relative who you want to encourage to go for walks and socialize – wouldn’t it be nice to get them a bunnie to go with?

yoga-bunnie-workout-bunnies-5840

It all starts with signing up! Workout Bunnies is free and you can even download the Android App. We want you to join our Bunnie Nation to start getting healthy, maintain your health, and encouraging others to do the same. We’re going to start by giving away some Bunnie gear! There are several ways to enter the giveaway and there will be multiple winners! We’re giving away 5 t-shirts 5 lucky Bunnies!

Workout Bunnies T-Shirts

The winners will receive their choice of Bunnie shirt in the color, style, and size (s-xxl) of their liking and we’ll even throw in a wristband and lanyard. Enter the giveaway using the widget below!

kayaker-bunnies-workout-bunnies-0007

Happy winning and get your booties moving!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

#strongfitunited

Giveaway Terms and Conditions:

-Winners must reside in one of the 48 contiguous states
-Must be 18 years or older to enter
-No PO Boxes for Shipping. If address is undeliverable or prize is unclaimed and sent back, winner is responsible for re-shipping charges.
-Prizes will be shipped within 30 days of giveaway end
-All entries will be verified
-Winner has 48 hours to reply to email notification or another winner will be selected

Oregon State: Nutrition Major Year One

I’ve waited far too long to post an update! Three terms went by and I’m halfway through the summer term. I had the intentions of leaving some remarks along the way, but it’s hard enough keeping up on school, let alone my blog and even drawing. Not to mention having a wedding to plan. Meh. Too much stuff.

Excuses aside, I’m here now. The first year at Oregon State was great! I think I only had one professor I didn’t particularly care for. Most of my professor-related issues are with a some staff members at the local community college that I’ve been taking a few core classes at. I’m intending to go full time at the university and say ‘sayonara’ to the community college, come Fall.

I was pleased with a class I took and OSU with Neilann Horner because she incorporated a bit of illustration with her assignments. I think teachers who integrate creativity with the sciences understand what it means to have a well-rounded education and that it’s not all about niche-learning. These diagrams were for two assignments from last term.

Digestive SystemKrebs Cycle

Unfortunately, I have only dabbled in a couple of the true nutrition-related classes so I can’t share a whole lot of information yet, but it’s my plan to start shifting this blog to more health/nutrition related topics. I have a chemistry term-project that I have to get rolling on and I’m recruiting you! There is a link to a brief survey at the end of this article that I would love for you to fill out. There will be at least one more (possibly two) surveys after this. I’ll explain more below.

In the mean time I want to break the news about my part in a local start-up company called Workout Bunnies. I was hired as an illustrator to design t-shirts for the company and have since taken a more active role in promotion and marketing. It was back when I had applied and got accepted to OSU for Nutrition and I couldn’t help but feel the timing was kismet. I’m very excited about the potential of this company because it falls right into place with my career and I feel I can grow right along with it.

In a nutshell, Workout Bunnies is a social-networking site designed around finding workout partners in your area. We (myself and company founder, Samuel Brackeen, IV) would like to take the company in more directions than just that, but for now we’re working on establishing ourselves as a workout-partner-finder as well as selling t-shirts. I’ll be posting about a Workout Bunnies t-shirt giveaway in the next few days so stay tuned (aka subscribe so you don’t miss it or follow me on facebook or twitter 😉 ). Also, if you have an android phone, download the Workout Bunnies app and leave a review – it will help greatly with further development. Iphone users – your app is coming soon so hang in there! You can still use the main site for now.

Workout Bunnies Hiker Bunnie T-Shirt Design

Now for this chemistry project survey. First off, you will be doing me a great favor by completing this survey series so please please please take a couple minutes to fill this first one out and if you’re feeling extra generous, please spam your friends with the link (below) as well. My project idea is basically research-based. I want to choose a vitamin or mineral that you, my readers, know little to nothing about and I will research it, write an article with information about what the vitamin does for you and in what foods you can find it, etc. There will be another survey at the end asking you what you know now and to see if it helps you with food choices.

Click this link to the survey (it’s only 3 questions):
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1VrzadAEHpwn9BYuscVgdt6_qwlhe-TY15Nhtav2UdbI/viewform

Thank you! 🙂

Constructing Roman Leather Military Boots (Calcei) – Part Two

Sooooo I should have had this finished ages ago, and I’m sorry for keeping everyone waiting. I hope its worth the wait! If you need a refresher, this the second part to the Roman Military Boots Pattern Making article I published oh, ummmm *mumble-mumble*…yeah about 2 years ago. . .

ANYWAY! Here’s the follow up and as always, if anything is unclear, or if you have questions, feel free to comment below!

Cutting and Prepping the Leather

I feel like the act of cutting out the leather from the pattern is pretty self-explanatory so to summarize:

  1. Place pattern on leather
  2. Trace pattern onto leather (trace onto what will be the inside of the boot)
  3. Cut out leather – Ryan used an exacto knife (went through a lot of blades though)

This is a super simple design, so the only other thing worth mentioning is to make sure you transfer your calibration marks and fold line to the inside of the boot.

Ryan often works faster than I can photograph so he got quite a ways into it before I took any photos. The images start a few steps forward with the pattern cut out, calibration marks transferred, skiving done, toe stitched, and notches cut. Using Florentius’ calcei assembly steps, you can see his detailed step by step process and its what Ryan referenced numerous times throughout the course of constructing these boots.

Skiving

You’ll want to do the skiving before any sewing – obviously this image shows the toe stitched up, but the skiving was done beforehand. You can see where the leather seems to get a bit flimsy about 1 inch from the bottom edge and that’s where the tapering from the skiving is.

Making Calcei: Skiving, Notches

The skiving seemed to be the trickiest part – I didn’t know the term skiving so I’m going to assume some of my readers don’t either. Skiving is done to make the leather thinner and easier to fold. The inch we added to the bottom of the pattern gets folded under and wedged between two sole pieces and this is the part you want skived.

Ryan tried using two different types of knives; a curved skiving knife and a Super Skiver. He ended up getting more adept at the curved skiving blade once we got a large polished stone tile to skive against and a wet-stone to keep the blade sharp. The whole point behind skiving is to thin the leather by tapering out the thickness so it folds under more easily, and doesn’t leave you with a lot of bulky leather underneath.

Curved Leather Skiving Knife

Here are a couple videos that may help visualize how to do the skiving if you’ve never done it before:

Stitching

The first bit of stitching you do for these boots is along the toe. As you can see from the photos below, you do a running stitch until you get to the last inch where the leather folds under. For that last inch you want a stronger hold so it won’t come apart where you can’t easily get to it. (In addition, you can see in the photo on the right how thin the leather is after skiving – Ryan may have made it a little too thin so keep that in mind).

Making Calcei Stitching, Notches, Skiving

Using an awl to poke holes ahead of time will make life much easier. Make sure to keep everything aligned as well – shifting is no bueno! The Florentius example shows that he glued the toe seam together first, poked holes once it dried, then stitched. That seems like a good way to do it, but Ryan didn’t bother gluing first.

Notches, Alignment, and Gluing

When you have the toe stitched up, you want to [ideally] have a shoe/cobbler’s anvil to put the boot on and kind of eye-ball where you are going to need to cut out your notches (triangular notches shown above). Basically, you want the leather to fold under the inner sole without folding over itself creating lots of unpleasant bumps.

After you cut the notches, line up your calibration marks with the sole again, and you want to glue the sole to the upper. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to align the calibration marks. . . if you don’t you’ll have an ill-fitting, twisted boot. Since the leather that you fold over doesn’t meet in all areas, ie there will be an oblong section in the middle where the folded over part doesn’t touch, and you’ll want to cut out a filler piece; this will prevent sagging, and uncomfortable dent in the middle of the boot.

Next you need to cut out two more thick, bottom soles. Glue those on one at a time. The glue Ryan used was MASTER brand All-Purpose, Quick-Drying Cement. Some people will stitch all the layers together – some people don’t have the patience for that – and some people use a more historically accurate bone glue (so I’ve been told, but don’t hold me to that – I’m not an expert on historical glues).

Calcei-sole-closeup-3671

(That gap can be filled in with glue or something similar).

Florentius shows a much more detailed progression of the sole gluing steps so if you need more imagery and step by step descriptions, check it out.

Shaping

Shaping is an important part of the process to make the leather fits more snuggly and comfortably to your ankle and gives proper room in the toes. You’ll want to wait until your glue is completely dry, then fill the toes of the boots up with water to soak the leather and make it more flexible. Stuff plastic bags into the toes and press out the toe areas. Leave the plastic bags in and stick a shoe tree in there if you have them (Goodwill!!). Leave them like this and keep doing it until it fits comfortably in the toe.

Ryan also opted to soak the ankles, then wrap them tightly with fabric while wearing them for a couple hours. This shapes the leather to your ankle.

shaping-leather-calcei-3672

Oiling

Once everything is dry, but before hobnailing, you’ll want to apply neatsfoot oil to the entire boot for protection and preservation. This also makes the leather more supple, making the hobnailing process a little easier.

Hobnailing

Before hammering a bunch of hobnails into the boots, you’ll want a hobnail pattern. I created a hobnail pattern based off this red and blue pattern we also used for the caligae pattern. (Click on the image for the original article).

valkenburg-hobnail-pattern

My pattern, below, might look a little peculiar because I decided to be lazy and just make one pattern that changes based on which foot I’m putting it on (it’s one piece of paper with writing on both sides so some of the holes are crossed out). Ryan’s feet are a bit asymmetrical so we need separate shoe patterns for his feet and the sole on his right foot is slightly narrower so the hobnail pattern needed subtle changes to easily transfer to each foot. I don’t recommend using my exact pattern and I’ll explain more below.

calcei-sole-hobnail-pattern-001

Transferred the pattern onto the soles. . .

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After hammering in the hobnails. . .

Calcei - Hobnails

Now I will suggest that you DON’T copy this exact hobnail pattern because its not ideal – use it as a reference if you want. Like I said, we were basing it off of the red and blue pattern above, but as you can see, that one is much narrower than Ryan’s foot. Not only did I need to stretch the pattern, I also had to limit the number of hobnails used because we had a finite number of them and (at the time) no way to get any more.

I also thought that by having them more spaced out, that would make the grip/traction a little better, maybe? Wrong. Leather is not stiff and therefore sags… with sagging comes wear and tear. It also means as the leather sags, the shank of the hobnail pokes into the inner soles, making them uncomfortable. It’s like laying on a couple nails, versus laying on a bed of nails.

calcei-hobnails-wear-and-tear

The heel is fairly populated with hobnails, but the ball of the foot and around the edges could use a few more. I suppose if you can find use out of the pattern, just add more hobnails in the gaps. Luckily, we have now found some new sources for hobnails (though we haven’t ordered from them yet) and will plan for a more dense hobnail map in the future.

Inner sole

After hobnailing, cut out another sole piece for inside the boot to cover the clenched shanks of the hobnails. Some people will then put in a normal/modern insert for more confort, or felt insoles, or another piece of leather. Depending on how many or how thick your insoles are, you may need to stretch out the toes more.

Laces, Tab Trimming

Once you’re done hobnailing, that’s all the hard stuff. All you need now are leather laces and to cut some holes in the leather tabs. Put the boots on and get an idea of where the laces will go, then punch your holes. You can also trim off any excess tab you don’t need/want.

Hole punched in tabs with small slit. . .

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Finished!!

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roman-reenactment-military-boots-calcei-3692

Ryan finished these two years ago and I only had this post halfway done as of a couple weeks ago so if something seems lacking, please feel free to demand more info! I hope the links to the resources we used are helpful too!

Happy boot making! 🙂

Handcrafted Air Plant Stand Giveaway!

It’s time for week three’s giveaway! First, I’d like to start off by announcing last week’s winner of the Corky Friendz Giveaway so congratulations to Laurie M! You should have received an email and have 48 hours to reply to the email in order to claim your prize! In addition, don’t forget to enter the Mohawk Valley Trading Company Giveaway ending this Friday if you haven’t already!

So are you ready for this week’s giveaway?! Well this one comes to you from yours truly! I’m giving away one of my Handcrafted Air Plant Stands valued at $55.00 (including s/h)!

Airplant stand giveaway

These are great for plant lovers and dull cubicles that need a little nature! This sturdy plant holder is made from a half coconut shell, hung with macramé jute twine from a hand crafted wooden stand. It’s approximately 10.5″ tall, 4.5″ wide, and 6.5″ long.

Each stand includes:

– One Half Coconut shell strung with jute twine
– One Wooden stand
– Rocks
– One Tillandsia Air Plant (varies depending on availability)
***Please note that each stand will vary due to the nature of this hand crafted item. Also depending on coconut size, shape, color, and plant availability.***

Airplant stand giveaway

ABOUT THE STAND:

The stand is hand crafted out of poplar, with decorative edges, stained in “Early American,” top coated with outdoor urethane for endurance against moisture, and felt pads attached to the bottom hand made out of Alpaca wool to protect desk tops and tables from scuffs and scrapes. Each is embellished with a hand-made-by-me copper makers mark with my initials, SFK.

airplant-stand-giveaway-mm

ABOUT THE COCONUT & TWINE:

The coconut is a half shell coated in outdoor quality urethane to protect against moisture as well as to enhance the color of the shell. I don’t recommend submerging or filling the coconut with water as this may cause mold growth or mildew to form and potentially rot the plants.

The twine is not treated with any weather resistant materials so I recommend removing the plants from the holder to water them or spritz them with water to prevent the twine from rotting or causing mold growth. If you to choose to spritz the plants in the holder make sure it is a well ventilated area or in indirect sunlight to allow for quick air-drying.

ABOUT THE PLANTS:

Each stand comes with one tillandsia air plant – the specific type will vary depending on availability. They are nestled into the rocks and easily removed in order to water them.

Airplant stand giveaway

PLANT CARE:

They need a lot of light, but not direct sun. Prolonged direct sun will burn many varieties of air plants. Air plants grow best in temperatures from 50-90F. They cannot tolerate freezing temps.

Water 2-3 times per week. Thoroughly wet the entire plant from top to bottom with a spray bottle or by gently running under the faucet. It is a good idea to give the plants a light misting on the days you do not do a complete watering. This is especially important for tiny plantlets, as they can dry out sooner than larger plants. It is also equally important to make sure that your plants are drying off within 3-4 hours after watering. Prolonged wetness can cause the plants to rot.

If you can’t wait to see if you’ve won and would like to order one of these cute stands, please visit my Etsy Shop and use the coupon code HOLIDAYGIVEAWAY at checkout to receive 10% off!

Airplant Stand Giveaway

Happy winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

-Winners must reside in one of the 48 contiguous states
-Must be 18 years or older to enter
-No PO Boxes for Shipping. If address is undeliverable or prize is unclaimed and sent back, winner is responsible for re-shipping charges.
-Prizes will be shipped within 30 days of giveaway end
-All entries will be verified
-Winner has 48 hours to reply to email notification or another winner will be selected