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Making stuff makes me happy

I often forget what makes me truly happy. Dragging my ass out into the cold to hang out with friends can be a chore, but I usually have a good time. Keeping up with my blog can be difficult, but I always feel a happy buzz when I’ve written a really good entry that says just what I want to say. Putting on my workout clothes and going to the gym often makes me mumble profanities under my breath, but I usually feel a little high after a good run. Oh, and chocolate always tickles the happy part of my brain, but I suspect I will always remember that even if I go completely senile.

Lately I’ve remembered that I love making stuff. Making stuff makes me happy. I made some of my Christmas presents this year, like a photo collage and a Haterade label for a friend who likes to say “Don’t drink the Haterade!” After I’ve spent an hour or two creating something that did not exist before, something that will hopefully make someone else happy, I get a hit of happiness myself. I admire what I’ve made and smile a little. Plus, I’ve occupied my brain and my hands for awhile in a way that does not involve food.

I didn’t spend much on gifts this year, but I honestly never do. I can count the number of people I’ve giving gifts to on my toes, and the people I give gifts to don’t expect iPods wrapped in diamonds. The most expensive gift I ever bought was a TiVo for my mom, which I figured I owed her after living rent free in her house for a year. I live rather thriftily as it is, splurging mostly on food. I’ve never really understood why some people spend thousands of dollars during Christmas, but I don’t have any kids either and my cats are Pagans.

I think I should try to make more time for hobbies where I make things. I did a lot of cross-stitch as a kid. (No, I wasn’t very popular. Why do you ask?) I’ve crocheted hats and I have a sewing machine collecting dust that I could put to good use. Part of the appeal of craft stores is imagining all the cool things I could make, even if the stuff I make is slightly more crooked. I think I understand the Martha Stewart types a little better now. Making fancy meals and placemats isn’t really my thing, but wanting to make something cool certainly is.

What makes you happy?

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32 Comments

Ashley • December 31, 2008 at 9:21 am

Creating stuff also makes me happy, but I think what makes me warmest and fuzziest is when I do something that progresses the animal rights movement. Anything from reading Veg News magazine to making a kick-ass vegan cheesecake (this one has bonus happy points cuz I get to eat it!) will give me that little shot of wheeee!!!!

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Lisa • December 31, 2008 at 9:38 am

I totally agree! I’m a knitter and I always attempt to make knitted gifts for everyone on my list. Knitting makes me happy and it shows I care about whoever I’m giving the gift to. It’s a win-win situation. Except when I run out of time and have to make an emergency mall trip for someone. Good luck with your crafting and doing what makes you happy!

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Rachel • December 31, 2008 at 10:05 am

Making stuff IS really satisfying. One of my goals for the coming year is to start doing that more – specifically paper crafts and knitting. This year I hadn’t left myself time to make my holiday gifts, so I just made the wrapping materials. I used brown packing paper (cheap, eco-friendly) and decorated it with satin and wire ribbons that I twisted into all sorts of pretty shapes. Then I made animals out of felt and pom poms (from a kit) and stuck them on top.

Listening to The Grateful Dead always makes me happy – my father started taking me to concerts when I was 8 and we went to at least a few every year til the end – trips that usually involved camping out for a night or two. Now that Dad’s gone, the music brings me back to that warm, fuzzy place.

Other happy things – finishing projects, reading, exercising and trying new recipes. This weekend we’re venturing into the raw foods recipe books…we’ll see how that goes.

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still reading • December 31, 2008 at 10:38 am

I always love a project. When I was little, my mom made sure I had a work space that was MINE and she always dropped off left over buttons, pieces of fabric, shoe boxes, etc that would normally be thrown away, but I always made stuff out of them. I still do that sort of thing, and nothing makes me happier. My new project is to knit a sweater. I have made hundreds of hats, scarves and slippers, but I have never made a sweater because it requires that you read (and follow) a pattern…never been too good at that. A friend who is a master-knitter (a mistress-knitter?) is going to walk me through it.

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Cynthia • December 31, 2008 at 10:53 am

I have one word: Knitting.

Oh, and maybe another word: Quilting.

Come to think of it, another word: Crochet.

And one more: Cross Stitch.

Wait. That was two words. I’m feeling confused.

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FatFighterTV • December 31, 2008 at 11:08 am

Does this mean your cats got nothing for Christmas???!

I LOVE making stuff took – it’s totally my way to relax. For the last few years, I’ve been making wine charms and bottle stoppers. Love it.

Happy New Year! :)

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s • December 31, 2008 at 11:53 am

i wasn’t popular in high school either. meh. it was overrated, methinks.

playing videogames (and fixing people’s stuff) makes me happy. yeow, that’s nerdy.

i also like playing with my unitarian cat (hey, if yours are pagan…)

haha, this comment is weird. happy new year :)

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debby • December 31, 2008 at 11:54 am

Thanks for the morning laugh, PQ! (‘My cats are Pagans’) and hey, what does doing cross stitch as a kid have to do with one’s popularity??? LOL!

Oh, yeah, and I think i resent that last comment about making placemats, since that’s what I spent all day yesterday doing! (But that’s really what I was thinking all day yesterday–don’t I have something better to do than make placemats?)

A happy New Year to you PQ! And thanks for all the free entertainment you have provided for me–entertainment I could enjoy in my bathrobe!

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Merry • December 31, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Interesting post. I’ve always wondered why people did craft things.

I lack the craft gene. Crotchet makes me crotchety, knitting ties my muscles into knots and the end result always looks like an ad for Chaos theory.

It’s interesting to see things from another perspective.

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Lori • December 31, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Making/decorating cakes makes me happy! Sadly, so does eating them. I’m a junkie in a crack den… I need to find a new profession. On a lighter note, I got your book for Xmas! Hubs knew I’ve been wanting it, and when I opened it he felt like he had to announce to the room that I WANTED that book, that he would never give me a gift that implied self improvement was needed. Poor guy also got me a very cool t-shirt, size xl, that’s too small. I finished your book in two days, going to reread it because I’m sad it’s over… I loved it! Happy New Year, thanks for all the insightful chuckles!

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Jolene • December 31, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Oh, too funny. I just bought a little cross stitch kit at Michaels the other day. I did cross stitch when I was younger as well and I really enjoyed it. I’m been thinking about it lately, thinking it was fun and enjoyable, so I’m excited to start again.

Happy New Year!

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jkd • December 31, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Add me to the list of knitters. I don’t make anything very fancy (mostly hats, scarves, and baby blankets) but it makes me feel good to know that someone I care about is being kept cozy by something I’ve created. I also love cooking for people—not baking gifts so much as dishing up something savory for unexpected guests (usually my BF’s single buddies).

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Bonnie • December 31, 2008 at 1:49 pm

I am neither crafty nor creative — but there are many things that make me happy. I love reading and learning, I love cooking great, healthy recipes and feeding my large family. I love spending time with friends. I love making a difference in people’s lives — through a kind word or a good deed. I love my garden — which is very quiet right now. I love my yoga. There are so many ways to enjoy the world when you make up your mind to be happy.

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Debbi • December 31, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Another knitter here, but what’s funny about your post is that I read it immediately after I finished making a “money book” for my oldest grandson’s 8th birthday. The instructions are on Martha Stewart’s website:

http://www.marthastewart.com/article/book-of-money

Now that we have triplet grandsons I have to plan the knitting carefully. Their baby-shower blankets were late, as were two of their Christmas-present sweaters. Sigh.

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AfterGirl • December 31, 2008 at 1:59 pm

I too love making things. I made all but one of my gifts this year. I have discovered the dreaded “craft blogs” OH NO! but you can find out how to make anything you can imagine and many things you can’t!

LOL – have a safe eve!

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Maggie • December 31, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I like making stuff too :) It’s nice to be reminded.

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Ginny • December 31, 2008 at 2:57 pm

I haven’t cross stitched since my daughter was born. I’m beginning to miss it. Great post and here’s to a great new year!

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Jill • December 31, 2008 at 2:59 pm

The most memorable Christmases for me are the ones where I made my gifts. It just means more when I’ve put a little of myself into a gift.

I love to sew, and I really should make more time to do it. Maybe if I did it more, I could learn to sew more than a straight seam!

I loves me some crafty crafts!

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Sarah • December 31, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Hi – Quilting makes me happy! In fact, I hope to spend New Year’s Day in my sewing room. I also made gifts for Christmas for my family – a quilt, a table runner and a wall hanging. I feel handmade gifts have more meaning and are more thoughtful than purchased gifts. In fact, I probably spend more $$ on patterns, fabric, machine quilting for my handmade items and that doesn’t count my time.

Happy New Year. Get that sewing machine going!

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Amy • December 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm

stick to knitting, sewing is an expensive ass hobby.

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Ang • December 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Making stuff makes me happy, too. Also, cooking for people, dancing, getting all my work done, pets, a big stack of books from the library that I haven’t read yet, snow days (I am a teacher), taking my kid places, Summer (I am a teacher), and Diet Coke.

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Teresa • December 31, 2008 at 5:31 pm

I have been doing crochet for the last month now. I actually finished a lap blanket! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known how to crochet since I was younger, but I just never finished a darn thing! My mom got this rare gift.

I also love photography. That would have to be my other creative addiction. Not just taking photos, but also working on them in the digital darkroom that is adobe photoshop.

Wonderful post. It really made me think of the things I like to do that is not food oriented (unless I take photos of food, which I have done before!)

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Stephanie Quilao • December 31, 2008 at 7:19 pm

Ditto! I’m happy when I do things with my hands. I’m happy when I do my creative things like photographs, design, and cooking. I like cooking more because of the hand work, coming up with new ideas, and oh yeah the eating!

It’s been a good year, and I think, no I know 2009 will be awesome. Happy New Year!

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Nina • December 31, 2008 at 7:33 pm

Singing, man. Writing songs with my band, and singing them for a big crowd. Nothing makes me happier.

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Julie • December 31, 2008 at 9:44 pm

I’ve made lots of things over the years but the hobby that has stayed around a long time is scrapbooking.

If you ever have a teenager you will understand the whole money flying out your ass at Christmas.

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Liz • January 1, 2009 at 10:57 am

I’m new to this blog…I found it because I just bought your book. I’m in the middle of it, and wondering if it is possible to “laugh my ass off”…but I’m thinking not. This is going to be my year, this year I’m going to lose the weight. I’m finding your book very helpful…I mean I’ve only been having a “life style” change for 4 hours…but still, helpful.

I recently opened my own store, antiques…some new stuff too. I love making things for the store. I painted an old sewing machine ( the big heavy ones with the wheel on the back) I painted it lime green and pink. Then stuck painted metal flowers all over it. I made a tag that said “plant your own garden and norish your soul” (or something like that. ) It wasnt nearly as tacky as it sounds. Anyway, I put a price on it and put it in the store. I felt so … I don’t know, you know what if everybody thought it was stupid? But guess what, somebody bought it right away. So what I’v taken a long to time to say is “yes! I love to make things too!”

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Wendy • January 1, 2009 at 11:05 am

I made a DVD movie from digital photos and some videos I took of my niece and nephew using the iMovie application on the Mac. Was a lot of fun choosing music to go with the events (basketball video: “All Star” by SmashMouth, Halloween pics: “I Want Candy” by Bow Wow Wow). It’s a very simple drag and drop program. The video was just 10 minutes long but provided a lot of holiday entertainment.

I wanted to make something inexpensive to add to already low-cost gifts for some family members, so I also took a few adorable photos of my niece and nephew and made bookmarks for their grandparents. Had them laminated at Kinkos…was about $0.75 each and very sturdy…also made my own tassels from craft supplies I already had. The grandparents loved them.

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scfrogprincess • January 1, 2009 at 12:30 pm

I always loved to do crafts with my grandma. She was the definition of a packrat and would come up with a way to use everything to make something! I remember making bunnies out of Joy bottles, “musclemakers” out of string and a plastic peanut can lid, teddy bears out of puff balls, baby chicks out of yellow dress socks with the lace on them, miniature basinett/purses out of the bottom of a dish soap bottle and some crocheting.. and then sewing… everything!

Lately I have been into making flower pens by using floral tape to wrap an artificial flower to a pen and then making vases out of all my empty Crystal Light containers by covering them with fabric and ribbons and giving them to family and friends.. as well as my grandma. She is in a nursing home and likes to give everything she owns away, so I make them for her, so she can give them instead.

Happy New year! Thanks for the wonderful blog, I am almost caught up.. I am in June ’08 I believe. I am hoping you are still selling autographed books at this point, but haven’t gotten far enough to find out yet.

Take care!

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SmilynStef • January 1, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Creativity is my outlet too … paper crafts specifically … I have found that the analytical (aka worry) side of my brain can’t work at the same time as the creative side, so when I’m creating, I’m in my own personal nirvana. Here’s to a year full of new creative fun.

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Christina M • January 2, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I love home made gifts, I would rather have that than an ipod wrapped in diamonds any day! (maybe wrapped in chocolate). I enjoy your blog and your book was awesome and I sure could relate to a lot of it.

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Lauren Burns • January 3, 2009 at 9:51 pm

What makes me happy?

1. Making other people happy

2. Reading/learning new things

With both of these, there is an aspect of the hands-on making things. I like cooking new foods, but also learning a new skill (e.g. scuba!).

With the economy, making things for others is a habit that I’d like to cultivate more in efforts of changing the cultural habits of purchasing gifts… we can give of ourselves :)

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Alecia • September 6, 2009 at 3:41 am

You are so lucky that your cats are pagan!! Our dog has been converting to Judaism lately, which I personally think is just for 8 days of gifts. The toughest part is that we have to like the Menorah FOR him as he has no thumbs.

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Comments are now closed on all PastaQueen entries. The blog is an archive only so I don't have to deal with spammers. For fresh discussions please visit my new blog JenFul.

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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