Category Archives: Budget recipes

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 7.56.03 PM

Screen shot 2011-02-08 at 7.56.03 PM


Here’s my little guide on how to self-publish, whether it’s a zine, a mini-comic, a book of poetry or whatever. It should be pretty comprehensive, but if there’s anything you don’t understand please write and let me know! I’ve been doing zines a long time, so I may have overlooked something really simple just because doing zines is second nature to me. So if you’ve been reading zines, and think it’s time you tried one for yourself — read on!

Are you ready to do a zine?

This is probably the most important question you should ask yourself when you’re considering doing a zine — are you really ready to do one? Do a zine can take up a lot of your time and become a big responsibility. There’s no reason that you should have to do a whole zine — if you aren’t sure you can handle a zine on your own, consider maybe contributing to zines that you like or getting a couple friends to do one with you.

Also, just because anyone can do a zine doesn’t mean they should. Not everyone is suited to the kind of work that goes into zines, and there’s a lot of forms of creativity that just don’t translate well into a zine. Don’t do a zine because it’s the cool thing to do — lots of other things are cool to do, too.

That said, if you have a lot of ideas and you think this is the way you want to express them, here’s how to do it!


What kind of stuff will be in your zine? Obviously, before you start actually making up pages you need to have some idea what you’re going to put on them. Start collecting clipped stuff, pictures, notes on things you want to write. You can do your zine about anything — it can be interviews with bands or just friends, articles on things you like, recipes — anything at all! You can do a zine of just poetry, or drawings, or comics. Your zine can be about any subject you want (or all the subjects you want). Once you’ve decided what you’re going to put in your zine, start working on it — it’s a lot easier to do a zine with a bunch of work you’ve already finished than to try and do one from scratch.

Size and format

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to put in your zine, you need to decide what it’s going to look like — what size, and what format you’ll do it in.

There are lots of formats to do a zine in. As you order zines, you’ll see that some people use "nicer" printing methods — better paper, or color. But for a first zine, your best bet is photocoping. It’s easy, you can make up copies as you need them (instead of having them all sit in piles in your closet) and the art looks clean because of the white paper. Half-size zines like this look nice (like most of the zines listed in Action Girl), especially if they’re stapled properly. You also can experiment with colored paper for the whole thing or the cover, or even an insert. The two bad things about photocopying: Collating (putting the xeroxed pages in order) can be a real pain (a zine I worked on once had 24 full-size pages, and we made 500 copies — it took FOREVER to put them together), and if you have a lot of pages it can get very expensive. The biggest advantage is that you can put out a zine like this with practically no money — just get a few copies together at a time, after you get an order with money in it.

When you’re copying your pages, you can do almost any size zine — the folded-in-half size is pretty much the standard. You can also do full pages and just staple them together, or even do the pages on 11" x 17", fold them in half and staple, and voila! a zine that looks printed. Other variations I’ve seen: legal-size xeroxes folded in half (makes a squarish zine) and pages that have been folded in quarters and even sixths, stapled and trimmed to make mini-zines. Remember that the size page you use will affect the number of pages in your zine — if you do a half-size zine, every double-sided copy = 4 zine pages, so you have to have a page count that you can divide by four (8, 16, 24, etc).

Plan on starting small — start off with an issue with a really low page count to save money, and if you get enough to put out future issues, then start adding pages. One girl I know does incredibly tiny xeroxed zines, but she also does a new one every time she has something new to say or show, whether it’s a week later or a month. A zine doesn’t have to be big to be good, that’s for sure.


Once you’ve decided what’s going into the zine, you can start worrying about making up your pages. You don’t have to make the pages in the correct order, but you do need to make them the correct size. Make up a bunch of "flats" (base pages you glue everything up on) — you can use any kind of paper for this. (If you are doing a full-size zine you might want to conside a heavy paper, like card stock, for the base.) Make the pages the size of your zine pages — if it’s a half-size zine just cut 8-1/2" x 11" paper in half, and so on. Number the pages on the back or right on the flats if you want page numbers in your zine. When that’s all done, you can paste up anything you want onto the pages. (Keep in mind that a xerox machine will cut off about 1/8-1/4" on the edges, so don’t put anything important too near the sides.)

Next figure out how many pages you’re going to have, and start working out what you want to put on each page. If your zine is full size, it’s pretty simple, but if it’s a halfsized zine, you’re going to have to lay them out and copy them in the right order for them to come out the way you want. The easiest way to do this is to make up a blank zine, the length that yours is going to be. Fold the pages in half and make it the same size as yours. Go from front to back like you’re reading it, and number the pages as you go. You can also make notes on what you want to put on each page. When you’re finished making up all your individual pages, you can take it apart, and just glue the flats down on the blank numbered pages wherever you want them to go. Now you have a double-sided original, which will make it easier to remember how to xerox them.

The stuff on the pages

TEXT: the text (writing) in your zine can be done any way you want — from handwritten to nicely typeset. Handwriting is an option if your handwriting is VERY legible (ask someone else if you aren’t sure how legible it is) and you use a good black pen. Don’t use colored pens, and never use a ballpoint. Typing on anything from an old manual typewriter to some spiffy new electronic one will always work. Try marking the outline of the area you want filled with type in pencil on a regular size sheet of paper, and then type directly on it, following the outline. Then erase the pencil, cut it out and paste down. And if you have access to a desktop computer or even a good word processor (if you don’t know anyone with one, try school) you can actually typeset stuff for your zine.

ART : as far as art goes, anything that’s black and white (even if the "white" part is greyish or yellowed), like drawings or stuff you’ve cut out of magazines, will usually come out just fine. You can photocopy most colors, too — try different things out. And you can copy almost anything to make a background pattern — I’ve put half my clothes on a copying machine at one time or another. Experiment! One of the big advantages to photocopying is that you can reproduce so many things with no extra cost or effort.

PHOTOS: photographs should be black and white, although most color pictures will reproduce okay. Again, you’ll have to experiment. They should be as focused and clear as possible. You can either paste the actual photo into place if it’s the right size, or you can xerox it and paste the xerox into your page. If you want them to really look like photos, you can get a "half-tone" made. A half-tone makes a "continous-tone image" (like a photo or pencil drawing, things with grays in them) into a black-and-white dot pattern that looks like a photo, but actually isn’t. If you look closely at any (black and white) photo in a newspaper, you’ll see that they are really made up of a lot of little dots. Halftones should be pretty easy for you to get, but they usually aren’t cheap. The best thing would be to look in the yellow pages — try printers, graphics, maybe advertising production if they have it. Any place that says it has "full production services" is a very likely bet. Spend an afternoon calling them up and asking if they do halftones. Most of them will say no, but in case you find a lot, ask them a test price — ask them how much, say, a 8" x 10" 85-line-screen halftone would cost. Then of course pick the cheapest and closest place you found. Or if a place seemed really friendly or helpful, it might be worth a little extra to go there. (An 85-line-screen means that the piece of equipment they use to make the half-tone has 85 lines per inch — there’s actually 85 rows of dots in each inch of the screen.) But when xeroxing, you can use a finer or a coarser screen — a finer screen would look more like a photo, but it might not reproduce as well. If you wanted a big dot effect you could get one done on a coarser screen, they usually go down to 45-line screens at most places. Ask them to show you some examples. Also, if you have access to someone’s computer with a scanner, you can scan in the photos and print out a half-tone. Not quite as perfect, but a lot cheaper!

Pasting up pages

Once you’ve got all your contents organized and ready to be put together, start pasting up the pages (gluing everything down) one at a time. Don’t feel rushed, you can do it in fits and starts for as long as you want — you’re not on a deadline here.

You can use scissors to cut things out, or move up to x-acto knives (special knives for doing crafts and things — you’ve probably seen one before, all office supply stores have them). I personally recommend the "X-ACTO gripster", which has a rubbercoating on the part you hold. They’re much cooler. When you cut things with an x-acto, put the paper you’re cutting on top of a piece of cardboard or something similar. It keeps you from cutting up the tabletop, and also makes the cutting much eaiser.

Paste things down with glue sticks (you can get these from any office suply also — I recommend the purple-tinted UHU glue stick, it’s my favorite), not a regular glue like Elmer’s or something — those wet glues will make the paper buckle up really bad. Make sure you give whatever you’re gluing down a good coat or it might fall off when it dries! Once you’ve put something down on your flat you can wiggle it around and even peel it back up if you have to, but only for about the first 10 seconds. Be careful! Make sure you’re putting things where you want them. Be neat or be sloppy — look at other zines to get inspired.

When you’ve finished up the individual pages, you need to get them ready to copy. If your zine is fullsized, all you have to do is put them in order. If it’s half-sized (or some other wacky size), you’re going to have to make originals that are the same size as the paper you’re copying them onto, and in the correct order. Follow the directions under "LAYOUT" to make up your originals.

Printing (i.e. photocopying)

Once your originals are completely finished, you can go get your double-sided copies made. (If you do not have double sided originals, be very clear when placing your order if you don’t do the copies yourself.) Do as many as you think you’ll need, but don’t feel like you have to make too many. You can always get more done. Plus, it’s easier to collate smaller numbers at a time. Once you’ve got your copies back, you need to collate them (put them in order), and fasten them somehow. You can staple them together, leave the pages loose but folded in the right order, punch holes in the center and tie them together — or come up with something entirely new. (A lot of people ask how you staple a big zine right in the center — the secret is a special extra-long stapler that is at least 12" long. A lot of copy shops have one available for people to use, and if you’re going to be doing a lot of zines, you can find them at any big office supply place.) All done? Voila! You are a proud parent.

Finance — budgeting your zine

I’d say that money is a consideration for almost everyone doing zines (unless you’re independently wealthy or you work at a Kinko’s). With your zine do you expect to: (A) lose money; (B) break even; or, (C) make a little money? If you expect to make a little money, well, think again. If you expect to lose money (not much of course), good for you. I lose money on most of my projects. But I consider the non-financial rewards to be more than worth it. (What are they, you ask? Well, mail, other zines, positive feedback, new friends, stuff like that…) And if you want to break even, well, you’ve got a really good chance!

You need to figure out a balance between your cost and your price — you don’t want to charge too much, but you don’t want to go totally broke either. Your cost will obviously depend on the number of pages in your zine. Your price should be as low as you can afford, and will depend on your distribution. Keep in mind that $1 is a standard zine price — if you’re charging $3 (even if that’s your cost), a lot of people simply won’t risk $3 on something they’ve never seen before. Keep your zine small and keep the price low.

For example, a typical half-size zine, at 20 pages (5 double-sided xeroxes) will cost you 65¢ at Kinko’s (if you find a cheaper place, use it!!) If you charge $1 for it, you’ll make a little money when you sell it in person, break even if you sell it in a store, and lose a little bit when you mail it. It should come out about even. If your zine’s a little bigger, you might want to put $1 on the cover, and charge $1 + postage by mail. Like I said, sell it for as little as you possibly can — and when pricing it you should also take into consideration how many you plan on doing. Losing 25¢ each on 50 copies is a few day’s lunch money. But 25¢ each on hundreds of copies could break you for sure.


There are several ways to get a zine out into the world, including: giving out/selling copies yourself (at shows or school or whatever); doing mailorder yourself; having other mailorder/distribution places handle copies; and, selling it in stores.

Distributing it yourself involves two possibilities, doing it in person or through the mail. In person you have the most options, you can sell it or give it away, and even sell it to some people and give it to others. Doing mailorder yourself is the most popular approach by far — you need to figure out a price that will include postage and then get exposure for your zine through ads and reviews. (You can either charge the cover price, or add extra for shipping. A lot of zines will make it on one 32-cent stamp, others need 55-cents postage. Take a copy, or a blank one of the same weight, down to the post office and find out.)

There are a few distributors of zines, but very few of them are carrying new zines anymore, and they’re generally difficult to deal with. Until you’ve been doing zines for a while, it’s not even worth worrying about them. When you think you’re ready, you can find out from other zines who distributes them, and send sample copies and wholesale info to those distributors.

Selling directly to stores (or more likely, putting on consignment) is also an option. Any store that you or a friend can get to (on a regular basis) is a good place to try and put copies on consigment. You may have to negotiate the amount with each store individually, but you should get 60-75% of the cover price. Don’t take less than 50%, ever. You’ll have to make up a consigment slip and have it signed by someone with authority, unless they have one already. Usually you set a time limit on the consignment, and at the end of that time, they have to give you money for all the copies they don’t have and give you back whatever’s left. But you can work this out depending on your relationship with the store.

There’s lots of combinations of this depending on what you can afford and how into it you are. You could give it away locally in stores or at shows, but charge for it by mail. Or only do it by mail. Do whatever you feel comfortable with.

Getting exposure

If you’re selling your zine by mail, there are two ways to get people to order: through ads and through reviews.

Ads are always good. A lot of smaller zines will trade ads for free, and classified ads in bigger zines (like Factsheet 5 or Fizz) can get a really good response (if you want that much of a response, that is).

Reviews are very important — not only can you get orders from them, but good reviews will help you get ads, distributors and encourage people to pick your zine up if they see it somewhere. The most important place to submit a copy is Factsheet 5 (see GIRL POWER RESOURCES). Other places you send copies to will be determined by the content of your zine. Judge for yourself whether you think the readers of a particular publication would be likely to like your zine. When sending a review copy, it’s a MUST to attach/enclose a note which clearly states at your name, the name of the zine, your address, and mailorder price of the zine.

Trade copies with other small zines like yours, especially if they list other zine addresses. (And list addresses of zines you like in return.)

And keep in mind that you can send a copy of your zine to me, for feedback or review in the regular newsletter.

Whatever you decide to do, remember that this is supposed to be FUN. If you start getting burnt out, or sick of doing zines, then stop. Fill your orders, but don’t feel like you have to keep putting out new issues. If you want to change the name or content of your zine, go right ahead! There are no rules — you can do whatever you want!

Good luck!!

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All contents of these pages are © and/or TM Sarah Dyer. All Rights Reserved.
No part of the contents may be reproduced without written permission.
The character "Action Girl" and her likeness are TM Sarah Dyer.

Posted by Digital Imaging January 2011 on 2011-02-08 11:56:24


Crazy Cake

Crazy Cake

I’m not joking – you can prep this amazingly moist chocolate cake in less than five minutes. You don’t even use a bowl.

We all want to be healthier, eat well and for less. Let us help you get started….

Posted by Plant Based on a Budget on 2012-06-03 06:53:12

Tagged: , plant based , plant , based , plant based on a budget , vegan , vegetarianism , weight loss , diet , healthy , food , recipes , crazy cake , chocolate cake , cake , wacky cake , wacky , depression cake

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

As always, if you’re interested the recipe is here.

Posted by .mariannika. on 2009-05-08 12:39:44

Tagged: , $60/Week , Cooking , Food , Eating , Eating on a Budget , MA , Art is the Handmaid of Human Good , Peanut Butter Pie , Alton Brown , Good Eats , Food Network , Gist , Birthday , Birthday Dinner , Yum



check out the recipe!

Posted by The World at Table on 2012-06-28 14:42:15

Tagged: , homemade , pasta , theworldattable , silvia , patalano , whole , wheat , white , flour , semolina , roller , pin , set , dog , beagle , process , easy , budget , photography , porn , food , recipe , cutting board , setting

Making Pancakes

Making Pancakes
I am amazed daily by how busy I am. This was not something which I expected – another indication which demonstrates that I was paying little attention to the mundane details of life. Eunie was so competent and took care of so many things so efficiently and transparently that she seldom seemed to be busy. Oh, what an illusion that was! As part of my self-reprogramming to appreciate once again the potential humour of life situations, I’m trying to understand how this highlights my basic lazy attitude when it comes to things which I perceive as "work" compared to things which I find more amusing, such as "play".

So, these days I wonder how she did it all, how she did it without seeming to be doing much of anything. I hope that I’ll learn to manage my time better. I can’t believe how much time I waste doing things which are not productive. In the meantime, while I’m absorbing this and readjusting my priorities, I’m making some moves in the direction of creating opportunities to combine work with play. My first target is cooking.

Last night, I came home from work an hour early because I had guests coming for dinner. I had been thinking about making pancakes, because it’s safe. Some people think that it’s strange to have pancakes for dinner, but I felt willing to take the risk. I’m making a concerted effort to have guests to dinner at least one night a week. It softens the loneliness and gives me opportunities for enjoyment instead of working all evening until I find that it’s two o’clock in the morning and I haven’t felt sleepy yet. Yes, there is something funny in that, when I stop to think about it. Funny-stupid. The work will be there in the morning, but the sleep can’t be retrieved. It’s better to lay down with a really bad book and allow myself to be bored into slumber.

The thing about making pancakes is that you can’t use just any old recipe. Since I can’t smell anything any more, I have to depend on recipes. I have to have something which tells me exactly what to add, because I can’t judge seasoning, especially aromatic spices. Pancakes are dead easy if you have a good recipe. I have the finest on the planet.

This is Eunie’s ancient, venerable Betty Crocker Cookbook. Of course, there never was a real Betty Crocker. She was a fictitious person made up by the marketing gurus at General Mills. Over the years Eunie had several editions of the Betty Crocker Cookbook on her cookbook shelf upon which rests, as I counted last night, eighteen volumes of cooking variety. It’s too bad that I’m not very adventuresome. I couldn’t appreciate most of it anyway:

I remember one Betty Crocker Cookbook which Eunie had years ago which was a giant three-ring binder with a similar cover to the one above. This book was widely known as "The Big Red."

On page thirty of the cookbook above you will find the best pancake recipe in the world:

I’ve reproduced it here with enough pixels that you can read it or print it out, if you want to try it.

Since there is a slim possibility that you are an even worse cook than I, here are some elementary instructions to help you along the road to pancake nirvana. First you have to gather your ingredients. I was making a double batch of batter. That explains the two eggs. I have already added the flour and milk to the mixing bowl. So far, the mess is minimal:

Very efficient, eh? Give it time. It will become progressively more messy.

Okay , now it starts to get serious. I’ve added the eggs, baking powder, oil, salt and sugar. The table is getting cluttered and blobs of egg white and puffs of flour are already attracting my herd of ants. My bare feet are sticking to the floor. Sheba is standing in the kitchen door whining. She knows there are tasty spots to be licked:

My dad taught me that one secret of making pancakes is to not over mix the batter. He always told me to leave a few lumps. So, that’s the way I have always done it. I don’t know if it really makes any difference. I do cheat a little also on the recipe. I put in twice as much sugar and twice as much salt. I use a whisk instead of an electric mixer because I’m far too lazy to get the thing out and plug it into the wall:

Okay, we’re all mixed up now and it’s time to cook up some pancakes. Here is my stove ready for a serious session of cooking:

I like Teflon skillets, because I don’t have to wash them. I just put them under the spigot, rinse and wipe and then dry. As you can see, I’m also making scrambled eggs. I have onions, tomatoes and Colby cheese cubes ready to add. I’ll fry the onions a little first, then add the eggs, milk, salt and pepper mixture. When the eggs are almost cooked, I’ll put in the tomatoes and cheese and give it a final stir.

So, the pancakes and scrambled eggs are cooked now and it’s time to sit down and (hopefully) enjoy the meal. I’ve even managed to enjoy the cooking experience, since I waited until my guests arrived and allowed my new friends from the highlands to help out as they wished. But, wait! Pancakes are not so fine without some sort of syrup, eh? Maple syrup is my favourite, but I can’t abide an artificial taste – ugh! One can occasionally find Real Maple Syrup here in Madang, but it is far too pricey to fit into my new austerity budget, a necessary concession to my enormous, recently incurred debt load. Well, that will go away with time. I refuse to fret about it any longer. It’s such a waste of valuable time. I tell myself twenty times a day, "Stop thinking about that. Money is not your security."

So, what to do about syrup? I pulled out another trick from my hazy memories of youth, most of which I’d rather not revisit. I cooked up a batch of home-made syrup before my guests arrived. One can make a very tasty caramel syrup so easily and inexpensively that I can’t imagine why anyone buys the stuff. Here is an example:

I hope this doesn’t bore anyone, but I’m forging on nevertheless. I have come this far. I may as well finish it.

Put a cup or two or three of plain sugar into a saucepan and turn up the heat. After a while, you will notice that it is melting. Amazing! Sugar melts all by itself. Now comes the tricky part. You have to stir and stir and stir while it’s melting until the whole mess turns into a very hot amber liquid. This is the part when you want to be very careful. It will burn you until the tears flow if you get any on you, especially on your tummy if you cook as I do as bare as is appropriate considering the sensibilities of my guests. I find this necessary to tolerate the mini-hell of my kitchen in the tropical heat.

So, being careful, you allow the sugar to go all gooey until it’s mostly melted, possibly allowing for a few stubborn lumps. Do not, please, allow it to become too dark. If you do it will quickly acquire a burnt taste which is not at all pleasant. You will have to feed it to the pigs. Once it is sufficiently melted and has the darkish amber colour which is desirable you add some water. How much is anybody’s guess. Add enough to turn it all into a syrup. If you add too much you will have to boil it down, which takes too much time. Be very careful adding the water as it is going to boil up like crazy because the melted sugar is blazing hot. I recommend that you stand back.

Keep stirring until all of the hard-candy like sugar is melted into the water. You should end up with something like a thin syrup while it is still hot. You can test the viscosity of it by putting some in a spoon and then carefully holding the bottom of the spoon barely touching some cold water. The contents of the spoon will thicken and give you an idea of how syrupy the final concoction will be.

At this stage it is very sugary and has no flavour except the caramel. I usually like to add some flavouring after it cools. I happened to have some home-made vanilla extract. It worked a treat. It is a blessing that we are able to get vanilla beans here at a very modest price. Soaking them in vodka for a few weeks makes an excellent vanilla flavouring. We have another advantage here in PNG because the quality of our sugar is very poor. It’s more like raw sugar – very strongly tasting of molasses. It actually makes a better syrup than completely refined sugar.

I didn’t take a picture of the finished meal, because I was too busy enjoying it and the fine company. I was hungry, too.

Bon appétit.

Posted by Boogies with Fish on 2010-11-17 06:28:37

Tagged: , betty crocker , cookbook , cookbooks , cooking , general mills , pancakes , syrup