Thursday, December 30, 2010

Zig Zag Memories

Something about winter always has me running for the yarn crafts.  I made two Koolhaas hats, with much success!  These are a great stash-busting hat, but I indulged a bit on some of the yarn.  Silk and bamboo blend? Yes please!  I was showing off the very first of these hats to a friend of mine, who requested I make him a blanket.  He said to make it hideous, with orange and yellow.  Later, he said that he had particular memories he was trying to recall.  So, I added brown (also at his request) and a touch of some nice olive green.  I'll be working it into this pattern.  Gotta love the free ones, right?  This is what popped into my head immediately when he told me what he wanted.  I always get extra excited to make stuff for other people.  This one will evoke good memories as well.  You can't beat giving the warm and fuzzy feeling to someone by doing something you love.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good Stories

Amidst all the shopping, frantic sewing and knitting, and TON of baking we did, I was reading.  I love books, and always have.  I'm almost always working on some book, and this one took me a while.  I started reading Stephen Kin'gs Salem's Lot before we left for New England.  It came highly recommended by trusted sources, and it fell inline with the Halloween spirit, and the spooky theme of our trip.

It took me until las week to finish reading it, partly because I was busy, partly because I don't much care for Stephen King's writing style.  That is not to say that his stories aren't good.  I really did enjoy this on the whole.  For someone who has a tough time focusing anyway, his stream-of-consciousness style can force me into re-reading pages of text.  I've never seen the movie, but I hear it's very good.  If it stuck close to the story, I'd say it would have to be!  Ah, to have SCARY vampires again! This was a proud moment for me, to finish my first Stephen King!  If you miss scary vampires, definitely pick this up.

Next up, some non-fiction my friend lent to me.  The Sociopath Next Door.  Will it be merely informative, or make me all paranoid?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Bun-Bun Clutch

My apologies, for the long absence. I've been busy with the holiday as most of blogland. For me, that meant a lot of baking and making. Rachel and I also had our fourth anniversary yesterday.  It's a difficult day to celebrate anything additional, but we managed.  So here's some of what I've been working on:

I learned applique!  I practiced and practiced until I felt confident.
 Then, I put it on this clutch purse, designed for a friend of Rachel's.  The outer fabric is organic cotton, and wonderful to work with!

Then, I began work on two more.  One of them has a turtle, and can be found in my etsy.  :)  One has a squirrel, and is yet incomplete.  I ran out of piping and of course it was the one color I needed that wasn't in stock.  

I've also been knitting, sewed another clutch for my cousin, and well, it's been lovely! As far as giving up caffiene goes, I've been doing rather well.  The trouble has been going to my grandmother's and Rachel's mom's place. Coffee abounds, and it's sooo good!  I figured it's Christmas, and went ahead and had some.  Back to the coffee-free life today though.  Since the first couple of days, it's been much easier!  Hope you all had as wonderful a weekend as I did!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caffeine Free Me

Today is day one, without coffee. Uuuuuuuuugh.

This morning: very bad.
This afternoon: taxing, but I'm doing ok.

I'm totally not looking forward to the extra hour and a half I'm working today. Or driving home in rush hour traffic, which I usually avoid, in the aftermath of the snow storm that's supposed to dump on us. But I shall press on!

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nature's Miracle!

I'm not talking babies, folks. I'm talking about Nature's Miracle brand cleaner. My poor puppy had the runs the other day, all over the apartment, and I bought this stuff to clean it up. I had no idea how well it would work! It was $8.99, and I've never used anything that worked better. There's even an advanced version. I can't imagine what you might need that for...

I got it from my local Pet People, but the picture below is linked to Amazon. Pet People is one of those stores that really cares about your pet. They carry household cleaners and salt for your driveway that are safe for dogs and cats, and food without all the junky fillers that you find in most grocery store varieties. The vet said that he "wouldn't change a thing" about sweet Hazel.

Monday, December 13, 2010

In Love with Etsy's Activity Feed

I love love LOVE Etsy's activity feed. It lets you know when people add your stuff to their favorites, or put you in a treasury, like this one. Lovely, isn't it? New stuff coming soon!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Camera Crisis

You might recall that back in July, my camera went completely kaput. I've been using my sister's, and well she recently requested it back. Know what that means? I don't have a camera. Which means I can't show you all the fun stuff I've been working on. I also can't list anything new on Etsy, which is troubling. I have plans to borrow a much nicer camera from a friend, and when that happens, look out! Until then, there will be less posting, and more making. But stay tuned, and look for new listings soon!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Rule

For every project I do for myself, I have to make one for the shop. That means in order to reach my two project/week goal, I have to make at least one for the shop. If I decide I want to make two projects just for me, I have to make two for the shop. Yes, that's twice the work load. However, the thing I've been hearing most is "I think you need more in your shop!" That may mean a flood of new mini paintings, but darn it, at least I'll be doing something! And mini paintings might just be the perfect avenue to explore comic style illustration, for the Zornow Challenge!

Did I just tie all my little goals together with a neat little goal? Yes, yes I think I did. :)

Also, TMSS#16:

To the dog: "I know you just want to get at my face chop!"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Yarn Crafts Begin

I was knitting my puppy a cute little pink cable knit sweater.  I started it almost a year ago, and I decided it was high time I finish it, now that it's getting colder.  I had to make about three, just to get the pattern right, and continued to enlarge it.  I completed the body and one sleeve, and tried it on my oh so cooperative dog, only to find that it's STILL TOO SMALL!!!  You can imagine my frustration, but now, I have time to make the Koohaas hat!

Jared Flood, the designer, said he wanted to make something that was quick and fairly easy to make, and a small enough project that people could splurge for a little bit of nice yarn.  This is what I've done.  I've been wanting to try this bamboo fiber yarn I found years ago, because it's oh-so-soft.  I bought it in a lovely cream color.  And then I really splurged and sprung for a lovely earthy green silk and bamboo blend.  Evidently, I'm on a bamboo kick, because I also bought my circular needles in bamboo.  They came highly recommended, and I have to say that they have just enough grip against the silky yarn that I don't drop stitches all over the place.  I can't pretend to be a master knitter at all, so I'll take anything available to make the process a little easier.

This is also my first charted knitting pattern, and my grandmother's as well, who taught me everything I know, and who is knitting this along with me.  I've already had to pull everything out once, because I misread the very first row after the cast on, whoops!  But so far, I'm getting the hang of it.  The first couple rows of knitting in the round are trickier than I expected, and I've read reviews that lead me to believe that it's not as easy a pattern as Mr. Flood would have you believe.  Nevertheless, I press on.  Wish me luck!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Never a Dull Moment!

Things My Sweetie Says


It's a time machine, not a dish washer.  It takes them back to a time before they were dirty.


Me:  How long did you sleep:
R:    14 hours and 1 day.
Me: You're a regular old Rip Van Winkle.
R: What the hell did you just call me?
Me:  I mean Rachel Van Beautiful.
R: Get the hell out of here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving...

You know that when your day starts with bad moods and sadness, your afternoon involves regret and a cry on the couch, and you can still enjoy the evening, you have something really lovely in your life.

Thank you, Rachel

I know this was a serious post.  I've been working away, and I'll have projects to share with you soon!
Thank you, readers!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gems and Dreams

I am part of a group studying dream work, but one of the most important things about it is that you must first remember your dreams.  This can be tricky for me.  This weekend, I went to one of the local metaphysical shops, and picked up some crystals.  Three of those were for use in a dream pouch.  My friend recommended Red Jasper, Quartz, and Lapis Lazuli.  However, Lapis stimulates the third eye and mine's already sensitive, so I substituted Blue Calcite.

Red Jasper...

aids in ability to see projects through.  Brings tranquility and wholeness.  Assists in shamanic journeying and dream recall.  Strengthens the circulatory system.

Blue Calcite...

helps us to remember dreams.  It is a world teacher, especially in the arts and sciences.  Great energy amplifier.


amplifies, focuses, and stores energy.  It can be programmed with the intentions of the user.  A deep soul cleanser, it dissolves karmic seeds.

The night I bought them, I didn't notice a change, but last night, I remembered two dreams very clearly.  Take a look at Amerindea for some gems, meanings, and even rituals.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Fun!

My wonderful friend Liz is coming in from out of town.  This probably ruins my project goals for the week, but I'm totally ok with that.  If I ever get back to painting, we're going to do a show together!

Yay!  See ya next week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Things My Sweetie Says

I've got a couple of doozies for you!  Ridiculousness at its finest! I'm pretty sure if most people listened to us, we'd be committed to some kind of institution or another.

Me:  You're smiling.  I could watch you smile all day.
R:     Well I'm hungry.


R: Now that's a paradox!
Me: What is?
R: When I is, I am.  And when I aren't, I'm not.  But I CAN be AM NOT.
 Does it get any better than that?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Many Project Weekend

What a productive weekend!  I baked my very first home made loaf of bread.  Yum!  I also completed my first yubinuki thimble!

It's not all that pretty, but it's not bad for a first try!  Much was learned in the making, and it's still functional so I won't count it a loss.

I also completed the second of two meditation bags I was commissioned to make.  Since they are spiritual in nature and have personal symbols, I opted not to photograph them.  It's just not my place.  But they're black velvet, lined, and embroidered with silver thread.  I must say, I'm pretty proud of them, and my client was extremely pleased!

Remember that beautiful fabric I found?  Well it became the Gathered Clutch from Noodlehead.

Gathered Front

Back - See how great this fabric is?!

Interior with card holders - Mine has four slots instead of two.

Interior with divider.

It was surprisingly easy to construct.  It's not a beginner project, but it's not a challenging one, and the result is just lovely.  I'm still not certain I like the light pink on the outside, but the darker swirly stuff looked just too busy with everything else that was going on.  I have enough for a second one, so perhaps I'll try it and see.  And since this was a gift to Rachel, and she's 100% happy with the light pink, I won't worry too much about it.

I also brought in a haul of patterns, spending only about $25.  When my receipt said I saved $68, I was very glad I decided to go in that day! Good thinking, Rachel!

And lastly, since Rachel's had too many flaky artists, I've decided to learn comic style illustration.  This began of course with the Zornow Challenge.  I'm also looking at some great art from the classics like CREEPY, EERIE, and anything by Bernie Wrightson.  I picked up his Frankenstein at this amazing comic shop in Salem.    This is the art on the cover, and if you've ever seen the inside, well it's perfection in pen and ink.  In any case, here are my meager beginnings.  I spent some time just copying artwork, and then decided it was going to make more sense to do my own.  So I found this portrait of Jacopo Tintoretto and tried my hand at the illustration style.  It's a work in progress, but I'm pleased, nonetheless.

See where I've left out the shading on his left cheek?  I'll get it though, eventually.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Yubinuki Thimble Complete!

Well I did it. I finished my first "silk" thimble! It's not pretty, but I'm still proud of it. It works very well. Just to test it, I pushed a needle through the seam of some jeans, and it was no trouble at all. It just doesn't feel as cumbersome as the metal bucket thimbles I'm used to. Hopefully the next one looks better. They'd make wonderful little gifts!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bird on a Tree

I went to the fabric store yesterday to pick up a few things, and I fell in LOVE with this fabric by Heidi Grace.

I think I'm going to try to make some wallets, but I got enough for a purse or something too. As excited as I feel about getting to work now, I think I can make up for my slacking with just a single weekend. Especially since I have one project complete for this week. Yay!

Note: You can never have too many magnetic snaps in your studio!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mom and Pop Craft Shops?

Everybody loves a good franchise, it's true. But there's nothing like a local mom and pop shop. They always have the most unique find, or food, or whatever is it they carry. Plus it's people living the dream of owning their own business, and I'm a big supporter, as I hope to be one of those people someday. So here is my dilemma.

Craft stores. I love them, but all I know about out here are the franchises. Reliable Jo-Ann fabrics (I'm a former employee, even) and Hobby Lobby. But I'd really like to find a local one-off shop. So Columbus, where are you hiding your gems?! They've got to be out there...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lessons on Yubinuki

I recently came across the art of temari, and its use in creating beautiful yubinuki, or thimbles. I'm nearing completion of my first, and while it's not pretty, it was definitely a valuable learning experience. Some tips:

1. Use the form to create the ring base, but remove it when you start stitching. That's what allows you the beautiful edges the pros pull off.

2. Don't use thin cardboard, like the kind from cereal boxes, for your ring base. Stick to card stock, or poster board. Anything more is too heavy and cumbersome, and there's a distinct seam in the ring.

3. The finer the thread, the smoother the look of the finished product.

4. Don't stitch through the edge of your paper. Use it as a guide for where to put your stitches, but if you sew through it, you'll perforate it, and it will pull up, and cause all kinds of trouble that you just don't need.

5. When you think you have enough batting, use more. It compresses quite a bit.

6. Thread tension is important, especially in your earlier rows. They will loosen as you continue around the thimble, so be sure those first ones are SNUG!

7. Knots will ruin your time faster than you can believe, so if you find your thread wanting to knot, use shorter threads! You'll have to stop and start more often, but you're really better off.

That's all I've got for now, as far as tips the pros don't share. Please let me know if you have any of your own!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The trouble with embroidery...

I've been slacking. I haven't met my two project per week goal in two weeks, namely because one of the projects I'm working on involves a hand-embroidered circle. Ever tried that before? It's insanely difficult. I traced out a nice circle, but somehow it ended up egg shaped anyway. So I had to rip half of it out and start again. Yikes.

No more hand embroidered circles. For serious. In fact, no more perfect geometric shapes at all. Only organic forms for me, thanks. I don't believe in straight lines or right angles. Ever seen one in nature? I didn't think so. Anyway, I'm off to try and complete it. Wish me luck.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Zornow Challenge

I've been challeneged to copy this image, just to learn a bit of comic book illustration style.

Think I can do it?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yummy Fall Soup

So I sort of fell off the wagon with the raw food diet.  The trip got me all messed up.  I'm back on caffeine, too, but I hope to remedy these things soon.  Sort of.  I'm not going back to raw.  But I will say that I felt FANTASTIC after I got over the not eating "normal" food.  What I am going to do is eat nothing but fruits and veggies during the day.  So the only thing different is that they can be cooked.  To get back into the swing of things, I've been eating like this:

1 apple
1 glass water or organic juice - occasionally made at home!

Baby carrots - extreme!

large greek salad with onions, cucumbers, and olives.  (sometimes cheese.  forgive me?)

Almonds.  yum!

And for dinner the other night, I invited an adventurous friend over to try a new recipe from Clean Food: Apple and Squash Soup.  Great for alkalinizing the blood, or so it's said.  Oh, and it's incredibly easy to make!  There's no dairy in this puppy, though you could easily replace the rice and coconut milk for the real deal.  I might try adding some potatoes (Idaho style or sweet) and maybe carrots, just for some other flavor.  I'm also considering adding a little kick to it, with some cayenne pepper.  As is, this soup is ever so mildly sweet, but rather filling.  All this without being heavy.  The recipe says to blend it with a hand mixer, but since I don't have one, I mashed it with a spoon.  It's a little bit chunky, but delicious!  And Jeni, my adventurous friend, enjoyed it too!  It's also this beautiful golden orange color, perfect for fall.  So grab yourself a butternut and a few apples, and of course the lovely book here, and get to cookin!  Be sure to have friends around, cause I'm having quite a time trying to eat it all by myself.  I wonder if it freezes well...

Image from
This is not the soup I made, but this is what it looks like!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sawing and Sewing

There is a great parallel between sewing and woodworking.  Now they may sound different, but think about it.  If you make a bad seam, you can rip all the stitches out and fix it.  If you put some boards together the wrong way, you can pull the nails out and fix it.  Things can be patched and covered, and the only thing you really can't undo is cutting.  Even that can be corrected on occasion.

I've been doing a lot of both lately.  I'm learning to be precise, to plan ahead, to focus.  As it turns out, when you do those things, you can avoid a lot of problems!  There was a time when I never would have accounted for the width of the blade, or the thickness of the wood when building something, and come up short on material every time.  I have learned my lesson.  Things go much more smoothly.

Varying the type of work I'm doing has helped me keep up my two project per week goal.  This week, Rachel, Dad and I completed the media shelf.  It's a gleaming monument to storage for a specific purpose and made at home at much higher quality than the ones you can buy in stores.  No more particle board for me, thanks!  I also finished one of the meditation bags commissioned by a co-worker.  It was a small 6 x 8 inch velvet bag, embroidered and lined, and you'd have thought I presented him the hope diamond.  Still, you can't beat somebody being excited about your handiwork!

Other incentive when it comes to woodworking and thinking ahead:  not getting your fingers sawed off!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ancient Art - New Fascination

I just realized that not only do I have a stash of supplies at my apartment, but my old room in my parents' house also has a closet full of stuff.  Oy.  So that means it will take much more time to work through all my stuff before I can justify buying it.  However, that also means there's much more to choose from!  And this could be good, because I just found a new art form/useful tool to try and create.  Thimbles. Ok, not your every day bucket thimbles, but yubinuki.  Any guess as to its origin?  *wink*

How can you resist something functional -that means totally justifiable- and this GORGEOUS?

I can't.
Here's to having two stashes of supplies and all the stuff I need to make hundreds of these suckers!  All you need is some thin bias fabric, paper, and some batting, or even a cotton ball.  Yes people, a cotton ball.  And of course, gorgeous thread.  Traditionally they use silk, but regular embroidery floss will work.  Just consider whether it's twisted, and how much luster it has.  Luster is nice.

Check out Shishi Girl and Ma Mercerie for instructions and ideas, all in English!  I'll let you know if I find more patterns in English, but I might just have to take a few more Japanese courses to get good at this stuff.  Why must I try to do everything I see?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Color of the Day

It wasn't planned, but today's color is definitely blue.  Specifically, light cerulean blue.  Don't think this is a bad thing.  This shade of blue is perhaps the most useful color there is.

Just look at it!  It's cool, but not too cool.  The perfect color for reflective light in any piece of artwork.  Seriously.  Regardless of what you're drawing, it works.  Today, I'm using it to mark on black velvet for embroidery.  Because it's blue and not white, it is visible, but will not draw extra attention if I can't remove it all from the finished piece.

Also, totally by coincidence, I put on a light blue shirt.  Realizing the theme, I went ahead and wore the fragrance Light Blue, by D&G.  It seems important for the day.  Guess we'll see.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tips from Grandma

My grandmother taught me everything I know.  Seriously, she taught me to read and write, sew, crochet, paint, cook, everything!  And she recently gave me a tip I found most helpful.  Everyone probably has already heard this, but if you run your thread through either beeswax, or a bar of soap, you will smooth out thread, and prevent it from snagging.  This is especially useful if you're trying to embroider with metallic thread.  As you might expect, it has strands of metal in it, so it's prone to kinks and snags, and is generally a pain to work with.  A little bit of soap, and you have tamed the beast!  I tried it out for the first time last night, and it works like a charm!

Thanks Oma!
That's German for Grandma.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Pencil Skirt Pattern

I drafted my pattern, and it took me a good while.  First, I had to get used to measuring with the cm side of the tape, then my paper was too small.  (I have wide hips, so I need wide paper.)  I ended up using some old wrapping paper that just happened to have a one inch grid on the back.  Turns out, that's pretty handy!  It helped me keep everything square and looking nice.  I have not yet tried the pattern, but I plan on digging out my muslin later on, and checking the fit.  In any case, try the grid paper for pattern drafting.  It could save you some serious time and effort!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pencil Skirt Mania!

Well I've never been much for wearing skirts, but I love the way they look.  And I just found this site:  Why is this important?  Because there is an entire section on drafting your own pencil skirt pattern!  You better believe I'm trying this as soon as I get my hands on some suitable fabric.  Yum!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vacation in a Nutshell

  • Always take lots of caffeine, and when you find the energy shots you like, stock up!  They don't have them where you're going.  
  • Avoid the Pennsylvania turnpike.  And Pennsylvania drivers.
  • Avoid NY city at all costs.
  • Don't depend on your GPS - it doesn't know that construction will force you off of your route and into the Newark NJ airport.  Eek!
  • Try not to bother the people who live in the affluent, neighborhood-watched neighborhood where the things you're visiting are located.
  • Touristy hiking trails with amazing views of mansions and the ocean are best experienced early in the morning.  And you can get sunburn in October.
  • Graveyards are cool, but it helps to know what their hours are.
  • Restaurants are great, but it helps to know what their hours are.  Evidently, some places don't serve food between 2 and 5.  Weird.
  • It's best to stick to seafood and poultry when you're eating on the coast.  Burgers are better in the midwest.
  • Don't visit Salem in October.  It's a very cool place, but it's too busy during that time.
  • Beauport/Sleeper House was friggin amazing.  Who says you can't build secret stair cases and build your rooms out of doors?  This guy did it in the 20s!
  • The Marriott is a most excellent place to stay.  They CALLED ME to see if everything was to my liking!
  • If you want to take pictures at night, have a good flash, or other light.
  • It's impossible to take a picture of a white stone mausoleum in broad daylight of a woman with grey hair and have it turn out looking right.
  • There are very few street signs in New England towns.
  • Those streets will confuse the crap out of a GPS.
  • Packing a case of water with us was the best idea we've ever had.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Licensed to Sell: The Buttercup Bag

First and foremost, three day old chicken vindaloo is MUCH hotter than it was when you ordered it.  Never forget that.

As I sweat from the delicious heat of it, I wish to inform you all that I am now licensed to sell the lovely buttercup bag, designed by Rae Hoekstra.  I've linked you to her free pattern, but you should probably just buy one from me.  :D  You saw the fabric that inspired it.  I went in search for the perfect pattern to match my vision, and needless to say, this was it.  Have a look at the finished product:

I started the second one, with leftovers from Rachel's army green bag and owl fabric.  I hope to have that posted to my Etsy tonight, so keep an eye open!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Baby Greens and Bags

While the new diet has been challenging (we've cheated at least a little at every dinner, and ALL weekend) at least we're getting plenty of fruits and veggies!  That's been so very difficult to do, especially living with someone who doesn't much care for veggies.  I'm over my physical need for caffeine, but I still have a habitual draw for it. I did have a single small cup at Rachel's mom's house last weekend, and oh it was yummy.  We're both losing weight, and we're starting to get more active again.  We went on a fast paced walk last night for about 40 minutes or so, and that felt nice.

It also felt very nice to try out the construction of a new plush creation: the PLAIDipus.  I adapted a free pattern I found online for a penguin, and while parts of it went fine, there's much refining to do.  However, I like the oddly shaped version I have created thus far.  His tail is a bit skewed, coming sort of out of his side.  I don't know if this version will be ready for sale, but version two might work.

I also found brown houndstooth/plaid, which first inspired the plaidipus, but I dug up some tan ultra suede that matches, and I think they might have to join forces and become a ridiculously cute purse.

 I'm in DIRE need of a new one.    I'm thinking about trying this pattern, because it's darling, but I'm not sure how I'd use the ultra suede.  This one, on Made by Rae may very well work better.  Isn't it lovely?!  If it goes well (and how could it not) I may have to become a licensed seller of the purse.  I love the idea of licensing people to sell products you design.  It's the best of both world: sharing your wonderful work, and getting to keep it too!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mission Accomplished!

I have finally met my two projects completed per week goal!  They were very spread out this week, finishing one on Sunday, one on the following Saturday, but they are finished.   One of which is posted on my Etsy.  I was also pleased to have posted several other new listings, and uploaded much improved photos of a couple of others.  My camera was old (2 mega pixels!) and the SD card went kaput, so I had to borrow a camera, and the new photos look pretty snazzy. 

I also have been wandering around the Burda Style website, which is a new find to me.  You can find lovely free patterns, tips, techniques.  It's amazing!  They also have many patterns which are kept to an affordable price.  If you sew, you should seriously check it out.  It's been fun to scour the site, looking for ways to use all the material I have on hand. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Raw Diet - Day 2: The first taste of success!

The trouble with fresh spinach is the stems.  I love its mild flavor and texture, but I could do without the dressing on my nose.  However, it's worth it!

Somehow, magically, I moved from my shamefully-stuck overweight weight of 184 to 179, overnight.  I'm 5'7", curvy, and fairly muscular, so it's not that bad, but I've never been slim.  I'd like to be.  I thought for sure that my scale was on one of those weird spots where it lies to you and tells you you're 25 lbs, but I moved it all around the bathroom and measured about 6 times, just to be sure.

From all the reading, it's not uncommon to lose 15 lbs in a month, which is only 3.5 lbs a week.  And I still think this was somehow a fluke, but we'll see.  Tonight, I will also record measurements, as they paint a much more accurate picture.  My ultimate goal is to drop two jeans sizes.  That's going from a 12 to an 8.  I have this way of losing weight without changing size.  Maybe that means I'm just not working hard enough.

Other thoughts:

  • Caffeine withdrawal is terrible.  I almost fell asleep in a meeting this morning. And all this just after I was introduced to an amazing little coffee house I'd never been in before.  sigh
  • This on top of the other fatigue from your body adjusting to working very hard to get calories makes me one sleepy kid!
  • The dog has to play with an almond for at least half an hour before she'll even consider eating it.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Raw Diet - Day 1

Going raw, day one, has been less difficult than I expected.  I juiced an orange and an apple together for breakfast, packed a salad for lunch, and some celery and grapes for a snack.  Turns out though, that this food is light, and I get hungry very easily.  I bought some additional veggies and a banana from the cafeteria (definitely not organic, but better than nothing!) and so far I'm doing ok.  I've been drinking lots of water, and though I have had tea which does not require a very hot brewing, I have refrained from caffeine completely.

Want to know a secret?  I feel just as sleepy as I did with the caffeine, and I stayed up past my bed time last night!  For now, I'm gathering up reference material, because I know this will get boring eventually.  You'll find a new page here soon with all my favorites.  Until then, here's just a few that I've come across:

We Like It Raw
Ok, so I listed this in yesterday's post too, but it's the first website I came across and it's a goldmine!  They have a host of people writing for them, each with a unique story.  There are also before and after photos, showing everything from weight loss, to gain, to vast improvement in the condition of the skin!

Gone Raw
Recipes that I can't wait to try, and forums.  Plus, from a design perspective, the site is absolutely GORGEOUS.

The Raw Chef, Russel James
This guy has a home study DVD to help you learn how to prepare food, and develop your own recipes, meal planning, etc.  This is definitely something to consider!

I'm going to weigh in tonight, and take photos and all that good stuff.  We're gonna keep a running tally here to see how we do.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Give it to us raw and wriggling!

Raw diets.  I'm intrigued by the idea, though I don't want to have to buy a dehydrator.  There are some interesting sites out there for recipes, and I'm kind of excited to try.  For example We Like It Raw has a tortilla dish that's supposed to win over even a "meat and potatoes kind of guy."

My question to you is have you tried the raw diet?  Did you love it, hate it, or fall somewhere in between?  How did you benefit or suffer?  Tips?  Tricks?  Recipes?  And if I should buy a dehydrator, what's the best for your buck?  Gimme all your info!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Props to You

In the world of games, the experience is highly specific to the group playing. Some take it more seriously than others.  Some like to make it an experience.  The guy at Propnomicon is one such person.  If you like Call of Cthulhu, this is your man.  These props for the game are fantastic.  The attention to detail and love of his work really show.  Beautifully done, good sir!  I always wonder what he'll create next!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Goals Schmoals

My first week of having a work completion goal didn't turn out quite the way I had hoped.  I didn't take into account that moving and unpacking loads of stuff takes up a significant amount of time.  Thankfully, we're almost through with the major stuff, and our schedules will be getting back to normal.  Hopefully by this weekend I"ll be able to work towards those goals once again.  Until then, I'll be banging my head at my failure to comply with my plan right after I set my goals.

At least I always have Rachel to make me laugh and lighten the mood!

TMSS #11:

R: "I like to make things difficult."
Me: "I know.  Why is that?"
R: "Fifteen inches."

Being subtle about changing the subject is not her thing!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life in a Box

Moving is one of my least favorite things, ever.  Now that we're out of the old place, we're living in a junk heap.  There's a small path cut through the living room to the stairs, and everything up there is a jumble too.  While I have very little desire to actually unpack everything all at once, I would like to restore things to enough order that I can think.  I can't follow my own rules if I have no working space!  I guess I never set a start date for myself.  It will be soon, I know that, but it can't be today.  Gah!  I wish I knew where the camera was, so I could take a picture of the madness that is our home.  I have a very long checklist of places to change my address, and things to update.  None of which can be done from work.  Anyway, it's time for

Things My Sweetie Says!  #10
"It makes the sound of fire and dripping."
-on the sounds of the water heater in the new place.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Moving With Too Much Junk

Packing up for a move makes one acutely aware of all the stuff one acquires.  I have once again been reminded that I have too much!  It's not the books that give me trouble, or the clothing.  I donate anything I haven't worn in a while, or throw away the shop clothes that have become too encrusted with paint to be comfy.  The problem is all the boxes of fabric, polyfil, paper, wood, paint, and tools.  The problem is the amount of supplies that I have.

What's exciting, however, is my new-found ability to create and SELL my work!  Does anyone know what that means?  That means I can make all the stuff I love to make, and then GET RID OF IT!  While I'd love to start in and get to sewing right this second, I can't possibly.  But I have a goal: work at least every other night, creating, photographing, posting and selling items made with all the supplies I already have, and use it all up before I am allowed to buy anything new.

The Rules:
- No new supplies, except finishing touches, or contruction-based needs (thread, glue, etc.)
- Work every other night
- Minimum of one piece completed and posted per week
- Deadline: Dec. 31, 2010.

I want to make this kind of creative pace a habit, not a fight.  It has proven a difficult thing to do since college, but now that I'm getting back in to it, I'm feeling more and more myself.  At this point, I'm not sure if I have set a realistic deadline, but I think that will make itself clear rather soon.  So I have two projects that must be complete by next week:  Adrienne's Apron, and the Castle Klaamyer, both commissioned pieces, so they won't exactly be postings.  Should I count them towards my weekly goal?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Clown Fish

Finding that I had the day to myself, I decided to take advantage of it, and paint!  This piece has been a lot of work.  A lot of tedious work, but I tell you, I am learning here.  These have been serious exercises in patience and attention to detail, and it seems they are paying off.

Today, I just worked on the fish.  I had already put
 down two coats of paint just to block them in.  Yellows and oranges are apparently not very opaque.  Today, there was enough coverage with the third coat to really lay in some detail.  I think I may even go back over it again.  This is a big step for me!  Have a look: 

Closeup of the upper left fish.  He has the most detail.  I love the shadows on his right fin.  If not for things like that, fish are somewhat flat, and difficult to paint, or make look convincing!

I think the bottom guy's eye is a little low, so I will try to fix that next time.  Otherwise, I am pleased!

How did I get these photos anyway, you wonder.  Well, I had the teensy tiny SD card that came with my camera.  With the highest quality settings (which I always use and get these less than stellar results) I can take about six pictures before it's full.  Needless to say, I won't be taking too many photos at fun events, but it will work for this.  I think I will save my Etsy earnings for a new camera.  Guess I better get back to painting!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Seeking Balance

What I need most in my life is a center.  Something to ground me, keep me balanced, keep me real.  This has to be something internal, but finding it is very difficult - that's why I need it so badly.  And so, I'm beginning to explore things that will help me out with this.

At a metaphysical store, Rachel chose a necklace for me.  It was a spiral made of dark wood, about 2 inches in diameter.  I wouldn't have chosen it myself, but it stood out to her as something I needed, so bought it.  And - now this is where I'll lose some of you - I found that I am calmer, more rational, more able to deal with whatever may occur if I'm wearing this necklace.  The spiral has always fascinated me, particularly when it surfaces in nature, and seems to grow in personal significance.  Perhaps that is the cause.  Perhaps it is that Rachel chose it, or that some of her super stable energy found a home there.  Perhaps it's all in my head, but in mental matters, that is enough.  The only down side is that it doesn't go with everything!

So today, I begin to explore things that bring balance.  There are several stones that are said to aid in this, and I happen to have a friend who is studying jewelry making. I might throw a commission or two her way!  Among these stones are

Amethyst,                                         Citrine,                                    
and Lapis Lazuli.

I'm already kind of nutty about ancient Egypt, and I have a poison ring set with Lapis. I may just find a way to bring more of it into my life.  In addition, I am researching meditative practices.  If I can learn to focus, my world will change for the better.  If anyone has insight, do let me know!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Speed Update

- Got the Promotion!  Was driving to the Iron Maiden concert and they called me on my cell to tell me the news. I now get 4 to 5 times the number of emails per day and spend my life in meetings.
- Garden is doing well, though I don't think I'll ever have any lettuce, because it seems to be the first thing to get eaten by.... whatever is out there.
- Sewing and other craftiness is on hold because I'm PAINTING!  I was without printer ink and thus reference photos for far too long, but the problem has been remedied, in no small part because I can now afford to buy ink.
- Rachel and I are both spending a lot of time getting back in touch with old friends.  It's killer.  It seriously feels good to have my week booked up with various shenanigans with different people.
- Working out is going very well.  So well that I think I'll have to buy some heavier weights very very soon.
- SD card for my camera died at the Iron Maiden concert, so no photos for a while.  For anyone.  :(

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Afraid to Make Art

Rachel and I each have a talent.  She is a wordsmith extraordinaire, and I paint.  For some reason, neither of us seem to want to put our craft - our love, what we want to make into our lives, the one thing we would go crazy without - to any use, or not very often.  Part of the problem is that we've been under a considerable amount of stress from life in general, and the other part I think is fear.

Making art of any kind is risky.  It isn't just something you've made and put up for auction.  No, it's part of yourself.  Though a person's work may not be autobiographical, or revealing in the gossipy sense of the word, it exposes everything that artist is.  It shows you our thoughts, our beliefs, our skill -or lack thereof.  It can tell you our place in society, and whether we care about it.

For visual artists, it is terrifying to pour yourself into a piece that your average viewer will spend three seconds on.  Yes people, count them, three.  Three seconds for your entire being to be absorbed, chewed up, and spit out like a bite of stale bread.  I wish this was an exaggeration, but it is not.  If your work does not get someone's attention in this time, it is staying home with you, forever.

For a writer, and I am only speculating, the fear is whether people will even pick the book up.  It seems like very few people read for pleasure anymore, or are unable to finish any book they begin.  And even if they do purchase, read, and enjoy what you have to say, will your readers understand it?  These are daunting concerns, and we have no choice but to pretend they don't bother us, and press on.

So we must remember this:

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything
-Eugene Delacroix

Let go, and dive in!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Update in the Art World

My paintings are coming along nicely.  I have yet to add to the completed first damask background, because I have been so focused on the second background.  It turns out my "eyeballed" measurements were not quite accurate to the original, so I had to improvise a bit, or start over, and we all know that was not about to happen!

I finished drawing the pattern, and had to choose colors for it.  In order to do that, I had to choose what animal I was going to paint.  The wonderful thing about sea creatures is that a great number of them have unique and specific instinctive behaviors, so I really can't go wrong.  I thought of a creature that would stand out against my pattern, and I thought the mass of the clown fish would be nice to balance out the fine line work in the damask.  The clown fish also provides an opportunity for the subject matter to interact with the background.  I am beginning to think that will be necessary of each piece.

I want to reflect the natural environment of the animal portrayed.  For the seahorse, I pulled background colors directly from the reference photo, so I chose to do the same for the clown fish.  After digging through pages and pages of photos on the web, I found one that struck me.  The fish were in their anemone homes, but the light was cool, and set off the orange of their scales beautifully.  There is my color palette!  The background is a lovely indigo, the foliage designs a warm medium value lilac, and the flowers are a light bright blue with peach centers.  I just could not choose between the two colors for the flowers, so I had to use both.    It is hard to pay attention to the piece for very long, but given its requirements, I got quite a bit accomplished yesterday.  I will have to work on an animal and a background at the same time to make good use of my time.

Also in the artistic world, my dad and I made some screen printing stations so that I can make shirts.  These will be commissioned, and will also appear on my Etsy account! (Coming soon!)  I have not set up shop yet, but I intend to sell prints, sewing projects, and anything else I have, really.  The fact is I have a way of collecting supplies, making stuff, and it piling up in my home. Hopefully other people will invite them into their homes!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Organic Skin Care and Beauty in the Midwest

Living in the Midwest is not perfect, by any means.  While the general perception of it is skewed in some ways, it is slow to catch on to the latest trends in... well, anything.  For this reason, we miss out on movies that come to select cities, we get fashion seasons too late, and organic and natural skin care and makeup is very difficult to find!  I went looking for some chemical free sunscreen, and could only find Burt's Bees.  It's a fine sunscreen, but does not wear very well under makeup.  All we have in the way of natural makeup is Bare Escentuals.  Some of the high end stores carry more, but not much.  Because of this, I think I am going to start trying to make my own.

Last week, I met a friend of a friend who is now my hero.  She and her husband make their own soap, toothpaste, shampoo, laundry detergent, grow their own food, raise rabbits to use their manure as compost (this was fascinating!), even brew their own beer - and let me tell you, it's good!  Not to mention that they are super geeks, like myself.  I was inspired, and started looking for different recipes for making your own beauty supplies.

One of my favorite sites, I found some years ago.  It is called Their focus is not so much on organic product, but a great deal of the ingredients (sweet almond oil, for example) is easier to find in an organic produce store anyway.  I found some wonderful scrubs here.  Try the Vanilla Honey Sugar Scrub or the Coffee Sugar Scrub for cellulite.  It is no cure, but it does help, surprisingly enough.

For hair care, you might also try the Long Locks Hair Care Cookbook.  I have yet to try these things, but I am planning on getting supplies very soon.  Most of it is simple as can be.  For example, to treat dry ends, rub a little olive oil on them and let it soak in before you shampoo.  Sounds too easy, doesn't it?  Long Locks also has plenty of hair jewelry, and tips for growing your hair and keeping it healthy.

Other than that, it seems like the best option is to order online.  There are any number of products, but the trouble is that you can't talk to someone about them, or test anything when you order it online.  However, if in making the cosmetics, you spend a lot of money on gathering all the supplies and don't care for the end result, you're no better off.  It's a tricky situation, for sure.  In any case, this weekend I believe I'm going to try the deep conditioner from long locks, and I shall let you all know how it turns out.  Avocado and mayo!  Yum! I hope my head doesn't smell weird...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Pen is Mightier

Rachel and I had a discussion this morning about learning fun new words.  The word she provided was "antepenultimate."  It sounds rather impressive, but simply means "third to last."  And when I read that, it became abundantly clear that the common use of "penultimate" is completely incorrect.  Now I hate to be the person to make someone else feel bad by correcting them.  I spent a lot of time in my younger years doing that, and all it does is make people intimidated by you, and does not get you dates.  However, I think there is a serious problem with a person not only pretending understand a word (and admittedly I do this from time to time), but then repeating it the way they think it is used. 

It is my not-so-humble believe that we should own up to our ignorance, and take advantage of the chance to learn something new!  That doesn't mean do the word of the day thing.  I have tried that, and those words would neither come up in conversation, nor be understood if you used them.  Not that I am against it, because I did earlier hunt down this glossary of fun words.  Rather, when you're reading or in conversation with someone and a word or concept that you are unfamiliar with surfaces, ask about it.  It does not make you stupid.  More often than not, people will appreciate that you didn't just try to pretend you understood.  Not to mention, it will save you the embarrassment of getting caught faking your knowledge. 

So here are my fun words for the day:

absquatulate: to flee, make off
callipygian: having a shapely buttocks.

Seriously, people.  If we have a word to describe someone who has a nice rear, shouldn't we use it?!  Goodness knows we have plenty of opportunity!

I've also been a long-time advocate of bringing back penmanship.  I have argued this with a number of people, but the fact of the matter is if your handwriting is illegible, it's rather hard to communicate.  Having a firm grasp of the language and knowing how to project it via your own hand are each an art in their own right.  I think I am going to join IAMPETH.  It's basically a society that loves calligraphy, the teaching thereof, and wants to reinstate this sort of education in the classroom.  Think of the discipline and skill to be gained!  I was just excited to find that I am not the only person out there trying to preserve this dying art.  One day, maybe I'll be an expert penman like these people.   

Sunday, June 13, 2010

No wait, the other thing: tedious.

Since moving back up, my art making unfortunately took a back seat to everything else going on in my life.  And now, more than ever, I know it is a very important part of my life.  I simply can't survive without it.  Recently, my muse has returned and I am making the time to create.  I have missed it so.  I thought I would just give you a small glimpse of what I'm working on.

This is going to be a series that will serve almost as a study for my other pieces.  However, I do believe they will make a strong body of work on their own.  I am hand drawing damask (a stylized version of something organic, which is usually mechanically reproduced), and I will find some way to make creatures with some sort of unique and specific instinct interact with it. 

This is the background for some seahorses:

It was my first attempt, so I tried to keep it simple.  I made a stencil, but it did not yield the results I was hoping for.  Then I realized that it would only support my concept to hand draw it, which is what I am now doing.  This however, takes a long time and is very tedious.  Plus, the second pattern is much more complex. 

I first mapped out my design with a grid, and some basic visual guides.  Then I drew in the central flower motif throughout the panel.  This pattern's size worked better with the size of the panel, so it is not square with any of the sides.  Rather, it seems to continue off the piece.  I am debating on whether I will attempt to continue the pattern to the sides.

I am now in the process of elaborating on the flowers.  This is the main part of the pattern.  Next, there are a few more things to be added to connect the motifs to each other and make the design more fluid.  This is the current state of the piece:

I'm certainly learning patience and more focus working on this series.  Oy! 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Car Camping

I believe it's time to tell you about our weekend mini adventure.

Saturday night (at apparently 11:04) we made the decision to drive on down to Rachel's homeland.  It has been a haven for us, in times when life gets too hectic.  Most would think it's crazy to leave for a long drive at such an hour, and it's certainly not in my nature to do such things.  However, I appreciate spontaneity, and so we set off.  We made a road trip music compilation, grabbed the few things we'd need (pajamas, dog food and leash, bedding, caffiene.)

While the ride is beautiful, there's not much to see but darkness driving at night.  That's part of the charm though.  There are few places where there isn't any light pollution, and to be able to see the stars whizzing by from the car is soothing.

When we got there, we parked out at one of our favorite spots on the lake.  There happens to be a big parking lot, so that's where we made our camp.  Now, we've learned a few things since the last (only other) time we tried to sleep in the car.  Our creation was fairly comfortable, although cramped.  Maybe that's why we only slept for about three hours.  Poor Hazel didn't sleep much either.  Either way, here it is:

We took the head rests off the front seats, and reclined them as far as they would go, while moving the seat part up as far as it would go.  We draped our legs over the front seat, and it was the best sleep in a car I've ever had! 

We left the windows open, and it was a perfect evening for such a thing.  And not a bug bite to speak of! 

We rose early, to this beautiful scene:

It's a large lake, but this is the first glimpse you get coming down the hill from the parking lot. 

We came down here at night once, and sitting on the dock, under the full moon, it was not hard to imagine there were strange creatures just under the surface of the water, waiting for the right moment to attack!

Did I mention I have an overactive imagination?

This is the view from the dock.  Serene doesn't begin to describe it.

After a quick stop at the local grocery for some world-class hot dog sauce (that makes it so even I can eat one), we headed back home.  Rachel spotted this guy on the road as we drove by, so I told her to turn around, and we'd help him out.  Thankfully there's not a lot of traffic at 6 am on Sunday morning on this stretch of road.

He might have been scared, but it was better than squished!  This was the first time I have ever seen an orange turtle!

We were confident that he was trying to get to the pond, so we set him down here. It's funny how good a simple thing like that can make you feel.

And so, though it was a brief visit, we got ourselves re-attuned to nature, and returned feeling much more centered, and recharged, and very, very sleepy.  Poor Hazel was so happy to be home that she started HOWLING when we pulled into the apartment complex.  I love my family, and our little adventures.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Miscellaneous Madness

Things have been a bit crazy since last we spoke, dear readers.  Saturday night involved a spontaneous trip to the little town of Grayson.  There, we parked at the lake, and slept in the car.  With about three hours of sleep, we drove back up.  Even a small visit like that has a way of recharging a person. 

Then Tuesday, I drove to UC for the annual senior art show, and they're continually raising the bar.  It was a great show, and I'm so very proud of everyone who participated this year.  I don't know very many students there anymore, but that's ok.  I still enjoy seeing all the work, and I know how difficult it is to get there. 

Yesterday, at the traditional First Watch breakfast with my friends, I learned that one of my painting teachers passed away last winter.  I can't say I'm surprised, as he was a ridiculous chain smoker and it was lung cancer that finally beat him.  Still, I hate to hear that he won't be sharing his knowledge anymore.  He was tough, opinionated, and never sugar coated anything, but he would push you.  When you got it right, he would let you know.  TC, we'll always remember your "color modulations" and strive never to "swim in a sea of mediocrity."  Every time someone says my work is "off the hook," we'll think of you. 

Slowly, oh so slowly, I'm finding art is seeping back in to my life, and that is fantastic.  Indescribably wonderful, in fact.  I've got some new pieces in the works and I will be posting progress pictures soon.  I'm hoping to open an Etsy account to sell some of my older stuff.  And once I have some solid pieces in the vein that I'd like to work in, I think I'll be joining Blue Canvas.  I found the magazine not long ago, and I simply love the variety of work you'll find in there.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Healthy and Not-So-Healthy

Finally, the garden is planted!  I've got the few seedlings I kept here planted, along with the last of the seeds.  Now, we have only to see what comes of it.

First, I have to apologize for the quality of the photos.  I don't have the most awesome of cameras, and the light was really funky today.  It was super overcast all day, and I think the camera just couldn't figure out what to make of it.  In any case, you can see the box, the size of it, the way it is constructed and so forth.  My cucumbers are already flowering.  I imagine they're supposed to be a great deal larger before that happens, so we'll see what  becomes of them.  Either way, look how cheery the little yellow flowers are!  I love them.

Sadly, they don't really glow like this.  Also, I drilled a few drainage holes around the bottom of the box, to let out extra water.  On the other box, I drilled them on the bottom.  On this, I drilled them on the sides.  Time will tell which works better, or if there is a difference at all.  Next summer, I'll just plug up the ones that I don't like.

Then, there was this.  It's not looking so good, is it? 

Ok, so it's not really a nastily infected human bite.  It's just makeup, and I must say, I'm pretty proud of it.  I got started on it, because tonight is not only the monthly (at least I think it's monthly) showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it is zombie night there.  Rachel said that she would only go if she could be a good zombie, and told me what she wanted.  I thought to myself "self, I think we have all the stuff we need for this.  Let's play!"  And this is the result.

I was thinking about the point of infection, and what it might look like to spread throughout the body.  I only chose my hand because it's easy to experiment on.  Plus, there are numerous visible veins in the backs of my hands.  Tracing them helps it to be convincing, and gives it natural dimension.  I drew from not only zombie/virus movies that I've seen, but an event in my history.  I forget exactly what happened to her, whether she was bitten by a dog or what, but my mom got some mean kind of blood infection.  She had nasty redness creeping up her veins, and was reaching her upper arm by early morning of the next day.  Since it was getting dangerously close to her heart, she was whisked away to the doctor's for a dose of heavy antibiotics.  To which she had a horrible allergic reaction.  Or maybe I'm mixing events.  In any case, I think the memories helped me make a believable makeup job.  Other opinions?  Criticisms?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Planter Box Plans

Constructed from a sheet of cheap quality sheathing, 3/4" thick, and a standard 4x8'.  This ran me about $20, which is really not bad.  I had them cut it into 2 foot strips, across the short side.  So I ended up with 4 pieces, each 4'x2'.  Then, cut them like this:

The handles were a little tricky.  We didn't have an oval, so we used a large socket to trace the sides, and left the top and bottom straight.  It's not quite as pretty as the drawing, but it works.

Each box has two handled sides which are across from each other, and two of the handle-less sides.  We used no fancy joining, just butted the sides together and hammered in a few nails.  Four, to be specific.  That is, one more than is probably necessary.  We nailed all the sides together first, traced the bottom and cut it to fit.  (It's not perfectly square.)  Then flipped the sides upside down, and nailed on the bottom.  All in all, though it may look a bit... rustic... it's sturdy, and should work quite well.  Still don't have it planted, as I went on a run and it's HOT!  But soon.  Tomorrow, hopefully. Until then!

The Boxes Live - And They're Better Than Expected!

The planter boxes are finally built!  I went to my dad's last night, and he helped me out a bunch.  He even gave me the oh-so-brilliant idea of adding handles to the boxes for easy transport.  This is why I ask him about this stuff.  It is largely thanks to him that I have this love of creating, though some would say it's in the stars.  There's nothing quite like quality time with pops.

However, last night had a scary moment, too.  We were working outside in the driveway, and the neighbor came over to tell us "you might finish before the storm."  I thought "storm?  What storm?"  Looking westward, I could see some dark rain clouds in the distance.  About five minutes later, the air cools, the wind picks up, and the sirens sound.  Now, I've been places where that doesn't mean anything.  But around here, you listen to the sirens.  So we packed up the operation and headed inside.  I tucked my car in as close to the house as possible to avoid any possible hail damage, and we grabbed Dad's GIGANTIC flashlight.  We were determined to finish the job, hell or high water.  And, when the storm blew over ~like it always has before~ the planters were finally complete!

I may do two additional things with them:  drill drainage holes in the bottom, and line them with weed-block fabric, which I already purchased.  The point of these would be to keep the dirt in, and let the extra water out.  I have no intention of painting them at this point.  If my apartment manager says I need to, then I'll think about it.  But since we're moving soon anyway, I'm not concerned.  I was not really concerned with the aesthetics of this project, just strength.  Dad said that 3/4 inch plywood was a very "German" choice to make.  He also insisted on using 4 nails per side, after noting that three would do.  I come by it honestly. 

I'll post pictures and plans of the boxes soon!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Gardening is like flying. There's always some kind of delay.

It's June 2, and I STILL haven't made my planter boxes. The many setbacks include:

Indecision about construction materials
Lack of funds to buy proper construction materials
Tools not assembled
Tools not working properly
Incorrect tools for the job
Time constraints
Bad weather

However, I was finally able to get out to Rachel's mom's and plant my garden there.  I fared pretty well for the first sun exposure all year!  Just a slightly burned back.  I'm still sore from the whole affair.  Our clay soil here isn't very easy to hack up with a hoe, even after it's been tilled in with better soil.  This year, we get what we get.  We're already hatching plans to make things go more smoothly next year.

Among reasons for time constraints was the celebration of my birthday!  Friday morning, from the moment I got up, to the moment my tired-from-drunk-bowling body gave up on me, was amazing.  All weekend was nothing but fun.  Thanks to everyone who made it that way!

Tonight, I go out to my dad's, to see if he can help me adjust my saw, and to borrow his table saw.  With any luck, I'll have my plants moved into the boxes by the end of the evening, and pictures posted soon.  *sigh*  I'm going to be glad when I finally get this done.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


It's finally starting to be warm on a regular basis around here. About a week ago, I started leaving my seedlings outside all night. They're hardening off fine. In fact, they're doing much better since they've been outside. It could have something to do with the MASSIVE amounts of rain we've been having, or the fact that they're getting a lot more sun out there. Probably both. But there's a chipmunk.

I knew the little guy was around. He ran lightning-quick across the patio last summer and sent Hazel into a frenzy of shrill barks. It's not often she sees something smaller than she is! But I was not deterred from my dreams of a container veggie garden. However, he may indeed pose a problem.

So far, he has not touched my plants. But he did decide to eat the starter cells down to the soil. I'm not entirely sure what they're made of, and threw the container away long ago. But whatever it is, chipmunks apparently like to snack on it. I caught the little squirt in the act.

He was working on this when I saw him from the sliding glass door. Thankfully, I just knocked on the door and he took off.

Soon enough, the boxes will be built and he won't have this to chew on.  I bought some marigolds, which I heard are supposed to repel such critters.  Hopefully they do the trick.  Either way, this will certainly be a summer of learning!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

Parasites and Plans

I had fully intended to build my planter boxes this weekend, but that didn't happen. What DID happen was a lot of hanging out with cool people in nature. This was extremely enjoyable! What was not so fun is that there seems to be an abundance of ticks. I'm gonna get made fun of for this post, but I have seriously never found so many in such a short time span. I found three on me - only one bite - and one on the dog. Four, in a four day span. This is probably normal for people who live in the woods and stuff, but I grew up in the suburbs. It's surreal to me. Parasites. *shudder*

I spent yesterday cleaning out the garage, and finally setting up my miter saw that I got a year or two ago. How ridiculous is it to have such a beautiful piece of equipment, and never ever use it? Very. I've got one of these. Isn't it beautiful?

Hopefully I can spend an evening this week building my boxes, and plant my seedlings.

Half of said seedlings have been taken over to Rachel's mom's place, to be planted on the piece of land they've generously offered to let us help tend. I have a lot to learn from Susan (Rachel's mom) and she seems to be eager to teach. I'm stoked! Hopefully it stops raining long enough for the ground to dry out a little. Then, planting! I can't express my excitement for this! I'm probably underestimating the amount of work this will be, and I'm sure plenty of other people are thinking that; However, I was never one deterred by hard work. It will be worth it!