too many ecstatic instances to mention

Having been, shall we say, somewhat absent over the past while, I won’t bore you too much with my activities, though I will mention they have been mostly of the “start a new job, move to a new city, alter my life in untold ways” variety.  It’s only recently that I’ve realized I still have the same interests and motivations as when I started this blog (two things that, honestly, I had expected to change.)  But I still have that craving to share all my projects and experiences with people and be shared with in return.  And so I’m going to be a little more active and share what I’ve been up to.  Mua ha ha ha.

So for my first post in a long, long while I’m going to share a few snapshots of what I’ve been up to in the absence.

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I moved to a house on a lake and I started my career as a floor nurse.  All this, as you can imagine, took up a lot of time and was just the littlest bit stressful.  But don’t worry, I still have most of my hair.

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I fell in love, just a little bit, with this goofball. (An honorable mention, so I won’t wax poetic.)

But, as you can see, we’ve been busy.

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Making just a few memories along the way.

I won’t bother with too much more, but expect a project bulletin for my next post!!

-A (is for appetite)

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the consumerism in my closet

Lately, apart from going out and making a buck in the “real world,” I’ve been clearing my life of some of the unnecessary clutter I always seem to acquire.  Yeah, right, like we all haven’t said THAT one before.  And it’s true.  I’ve tried to clean up my living for a while (read: years) now.  Not from drugs or alcohol or anything else fun, just from sheer STUFF.  I don’t know how I do it, but I own so much JUNK and I just don’t know why.  Half of it seems to be things I’ve been holding onto for sentimental value and the other half is monetary (but I PAID for this!  I can’t just… get rid of it!).

My grandmother passed away last Christmas and she sort of… bequeathed everything in a very relaxed fashion.  Meaning, she sat me and my cousin down in front of a table of stuff and asked us what we wanted.  Aside from my newly acquired I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-90%-of-this-but-I-loved-grandma-so-I-guess-I’ll-keep-it? it also drove home how much random somewhat meaningless goodies people just acquire over their lives.  Sure, it seemed like a cool idea to pick up all these souvenirs at the time, but now no one really knows what to do with the ornamental Hawaiian poi balls or the miniature painted ox cart with matching faux coffee bushel.

I wish I could blame it all on other people’s generosity, but I so CAN’T.  It’s totally, completely my fault!  Of course, it’s probably some weird genetic thing.  The people in my mom’s family all seem to have the hoarder tendencies.  Example:  I recently helped my mom clear 8 JUMBO garbage bags of clothes from her closet.  She still has around two full wardrobes left and still can’t bear to part with any of her old work clothes or some of the stuff that was going out of style in the 80’s.  And, ok, yes, that jumper DID come back in style and it looks awesome on her, but still.

I’ve gotten a lot done with repurposing or “upcycling” (yeah, I’m hip to the lingo).  Mostly this applies to clothes as I haven’t figured out how to use a knick-knack in a new and creative way (I eventually grew out of re-gifting).

So, here are some of my new rules to live by:

1. Get rid of clothes you either a) haven’t worn in over a year, b) won’t wear unless forced, or c) not your size.  Either make immediate plans to re-use in a different way or check for stains/holes and toss/donate.  (I can’t actually throw away clothes so I tend to put them in my materials bag if they’re too well used.)

2. Why are you keeping that blender/figurine/satchel?

  • Sentiment?  Will you remember the sentiment 10 years from now, five?  If not, donate or toss.
  • Monetary value?  Have you noticed/used it in two years?  No?  Donate or toss.
  • Usability?  Have you used it in the past year?  Did you use it for a while when you first got it then put it away never to be seen again?  Donate or toss, my friend.
  • Sheer cool factor?  (Come on, we all have this stuff.)  This is a gray area for me.  I would have to say, balance this stuff with how well your other clutter is surviving.  If your place starts to seem barren then you can be pretty lenient.  For instance, I have a Mulan figurine my best friend from childhood sent me.  Not only is Mulan my favorite Disney movie of all time, but it also has the sentiment AND cool factor.  So maybe I won’t ever NEED it; it’ll keep me young so it stays.

3. Easy decisions:

  • Broken/repaired, but not used, toss.
  • Multiples, keep ONE.
  • Does this collect dust?  Do I begrudge dusting it? Toss!

4. Prevent future behavior.  For replenishable commodities (how does this always happen to girls more than guys?), use up what you have before you buy more!!  It doesn’t sound like rocket science, but it’s a pretty complex concept to grasp.  Especially with shops like Bath & Body Works luring you in with their “new sensations.”  I don’t actually know what I’m going to do with 12 different body sprays/lotions/perfumes.  Maybe it was that 6 for $30 deal they keep throwing at me, but from now on, I’m working on a needs-must basis.  I hope to someday be that lady that has that 2 gallon jug of hand soap to keep refilling my smaller bottles with.  ONE FOR ALL.

These sentiments are probably even more important to me now that I understand what a humongous issue sheer waste is in our society.  There’s nothing wrong with being consumerists, but don’t be stupid about it.  I LOVE free enterprise, but if I spent more time thinking about the things I purchased, maybe I’d spend less cash at GlobalCorp and more at a local farmer’s market.  So the moral of the story: learn to appreciate what you have by understanding its value.  If it has no value, pass it on to someone who may think it does.  This could actually apply to a lot of areas in our lives, but for now I’ll deal with my closets.

My poor roommate was recently inundated with the things I knew I’d never use again.  But at least I feel a lot better about my life.  Thanks, Mel!

Today, I think I’m going to tackle the problem areas.  I have boxes of just… stuff lying around in my closets.  Those boxes frighten me.  They’ve given me a complex.  They mock my efforts at organization.

Wish me luck,

A

fresh canned light

Before summer started, I saw something on Etsy that I LOVED for over $100.  Not my kind of price, but I was sort of fairly (kind of) certain I knew how to make it.  I did a little internet magic research and found the cheapest, easiest way to go about it.  I’m talking about a mason jar light, by the way.

This crafty lady’s design was a little more intense (and tool-intensive) than I was shooting for.  Whereas this bright design required parts I didn’t want to pay for :/

What to do!  Of course, I took the best of both and winged the rest in true ecstatic instant style.  Please keep in mind I’ve never messed with electrical stuff before.

This is what I used for just ONE light.  My chandelier was made up of 6 of these bad boys; 6 mason jar with lids, and 6 Bottle Lamp Kits.  I realized later I could have gone cheaper, but at the time I was just happy to find everything in one box.  I’ll leave a broken-down ingredient list at the end.

These parts will all be connecting into the wall.  I almost bought a wall plug and a bundle of lamp wire, but it turned out cheaper if I bought a 15′ extension cord instead.  Also included is an octagonal outlet box, a cord switch, and wing clamps.  I knew I’d have 7 individual wires per wing clamp so I got a larger gauge.

Because I’m not solvent enough to own a real drill, this is what I used to punch holes in the lids.  Jane Goodall, eat your heart out.  I made the holes large enough to fit the nipple from the light socket.  I wanted mine to be a soft silver (aka brushed nickle) so I primed and spray painted all my socket pieces and lids before beginning.

This is the proper way to have everything strung on your wire.  Since all of my wiring had a plug on one end, I had to pre-string everything.  Before I could pre-string, I had to draw a diagram because my mind broke trying to figure this out.  It should be: the lid ring, the lock nut, the nipple, the lamp nipple (I could have skipped this if I had made my initial lid holes smaller so disregard the size of the hole in the photo.  All subsequent holes were about the size of my pinky finger), the lid with hole, and the socket cap.  Split the end of the wire about three inches.

The ribbed wire should wrap around the silver screw and the smooth wire should wrap around the brass in the shape of a backwards question mark.  The knot shown is an underwriter’s knot and protects the wires from fraying.  Then slide everything together with the socket shell and jar and voilà:

One light done, five to go!

A few minutes in the mirror deciding on how the lights should hang and a trusty pair of wire cutters later, we have everything strung through the push-thru holes in the outlet box and clamped.  Ribbed wires should clamp to ribbed and smooth to smooth.  Strip each wire down about 3/4 of an inch to make clamping easier.  I tried bundling everything with a twist tie, but what I really need is a strong zip tie (perhaps even a small hose clamp?).  There is going to be some serious weight on this puppy.

I threaded the wire that will go into the wall through this chain (every 4th loop) and attached the last loop on the chain to the push-thru tab on the outlet box (for lack of anything better).  That will allow me to attach a chain loop to a hook in the ceiling and protect the wall plug from undue stress.

Everything gets shoved into the outlet box and the cap is put into place.  That’s it, folks.

Some concerns:

  • I still need to get a strong clamp for the bundle in the outlet box.
  • I need to spray paint the white cords, chain, and the outlet box with the nickle color.
  • On the small jars I used 7.5 watt “night lights” that are rather pudgy.  They don’t put out much heat and they diminish the glare of the piece.  The lights in the large jars are 60 watt and seem to be rather warm so I’d like to find an alternative to avoid over-heating of the glass.
  • This thing is rather weighty (I’d estimate about 25 lbs) and should be attached to something reliable (Read: Sheetrock WILL NOT WORK).

What I’d do different:

  • I’d use a drill to make the lid holes.
  • I’d buy my materials raw rather than pre-packaged.
  • I’d have an idea of where to put it before I started!
  • I’d get switchless sockets.  This means all the lights would be on all the time, but I’m thinking a simple dimmer feature would fix this.

Ingredients in retrospect:

  • 30′ of 18-2 lamp wire – $9.00
  • 1 wall plug – $1.83
  • 2 12-20 gauge wing clamps – $0.48
  • 1 octagonal outlet box w 1/2″ push-thru – $1.81
  • 1 octagonal outlet box cover – $0.93
  • 1 chain – $5.97
  • 1 small hose clamp (for the wire bundle) – $0.72
  • 6 mason jars – free
  • 6 mason jar lids  – $1.95
  • 6 nipples w lock nuts – $1.97
  • 6 lamp sockets w covers – $22.98
  • 6 lightbulbs
  • White primer – $3.24
  • Nickle spray paint  – $3.24
Total cost:   $54.12

I had some of this stuff already so I went to Lowe’s to find the price for this list.  If I had used raw materials I could have saved about 10 bucks 😦 sad day.

Beautifully lit,

A

P.s. I’d be interested in trying this with beer bottles for a patio look.

The “yeah, I get it. It’s hot out” pie

I recently acquired myself a Pinterest account because I love accidentally stumbling upon nifty things.  I immediately stumbled into this recipe for a no bake berry pie.  No bake, you say?  As in no cook, no clean, no 3 hour prep?  And how!

Start off with a few EASY to acquire goodies:

I didn’t use real butter… I use some sort of scientific smart butter.  Made from olive oil.  Whatever works!  I bought pre-chopped walnuts because I don’t have a food processor and I loooathe chopping nuts.  As for the graham crackers…

I threw some into these oven bags I will never use and ground them into bits with a handy anything-I-could-find.  It just so happened to come out to exactly one cup so I devoured the rest of the graham crackers in the package to hide the evidence.  Graham crackers are delish, have I mentioned?

Mix the walnuts with the graham crackers and “butter.”  Place in bottom of ugly cake pan because you don’t have anything else pie-shaped.  Resolve to get cute pie pan at Goodwill (but probably don’t).  Squish into place with second cake pan.

Onto the filling!  Crack open your can of sweetened condensed milk and get to pouring!  This step will take an eternity.  An.  Eternity.  It’s like pouring molasses, but you need every last drop so be patient.

Next, realize that you have some lemon juice in one of those lemon-shaped squeeze bottles and you didn’t need the one you picked up at the store.  Get out the old bottle and proceed to hand squeeze a quarter cup.  Wait for your hands to uncramp and keep squeezing.  Once you have the right amount, go ahead and pour it into the milk can and swish around then add it to the bowl.  Mix this well and then add the berries.

I had a mixed assortment of black, blue, rasp, and strawberries so I tried to toss in a little of everything.  It would have been fine with just blue and raspberries, but the strawberries were going to turn soon so I took matters into my own hands.

Isn’t it gorgeous?  Go ahead and pop those spilled blueberries in your mouth because… that would be wasteful.  While you’re delicately folding in the berries, go ahead and pop a couple more handfuls of blueberries.  They’re good for you!

It doesn’t look gorgeous, but the taste is sublime at this point.  Pour and tuck and fold gently into your “pie” pan.

Even with the ugly pan, it comes out looking pretty fancy.  I made this at night and popped it in the fridge to chill.  I had some for breakfast this morning and, let me tell you, yum.  Sweet and tangy and washes down nicely with coffee.  I like the walnuts only being chopped because it added some texture to a rather soft dish, but it was hell to serve prettily.  I wasn’t really worried about it, but someone might be.

So, 6 ingredients., about 10 minutes of prep and some time to chill and you are good to go.  It probably only needs a couple hours to set, but overnight was easy for me.

A nice, cool, summery dessert that looks vaguely patriotic!

 

Enjoying a nice, cool, summery dessert,

A

fairy tales: not just for the young

Today I rediscovered my love for fairy tales.  Or I should say, discovered the first time.  These aren’t the Disney classics I grew up with (though I was more of a Paul Bunyan girl anyway).

I've been here!

I didn’t exactly grow up in a fairy tale household anyway, but I’ve pretty much got the whole Sleeping Beauty/Briar Rose thing figured out and the various variations on Cinderella are pretty simple.  I was older when I discovered Rapunzel, I can never remember which ending to use in Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel will always freak me out, and the Princess and the Pea will always be one of my favorites.

Little Red Mis-behavor

But today, through the magic of the internet, I found not only variations on variations.  I found seemingly brand new fairy tales.  Now, I’ve read the The Brother’s Grimm and I’ve read Hans Christen Anderson so I always thought I really knew all that was out there.  I was, quite admittedly, very wrong.

These less-mainstream stories are a bit darker, but full of more human nature and magic than their contemporaries.  This might be only because they’re new to me, but I love ’em anyway.  And, as much as I have been able to gather from Wikipedia, there are thousands of them.  Just waiting to be absorbed.

I've actually read this one before in different formats and LOVE it!

Now I’m seriously considering doing something with this.  Something girly and ridiculous…  Can’t wait 🙂

The Canary Prince

if then my fortunes can delight my friend

Quilt seems like such a tame word for what has become a monumental journey that has required herculean strength of will from me.  A much better word for such a thing could only be odyssey (from whence our title is quoted).

I am sure I have mentioned a few (thousand) times that I have been working on a quilt/duvet/blanket contraption.  It stayed in the happy idea stage for months, went briefly into something resembling fruition, and then got stuffed back into the Extra Closet where it has hibernated like an angry bear for another month or more, to the point where I was loathe to even open the closet at all.  I have an undetermined amount of free days ahead of me and aside from buying Kindle Ebooks like a back alley coke fiend (hence words in my vocabulary like “loathe”), I have spent most of my time finally, finally working on this… this quilt.

In the early months, it took on many shapes in my mind, the same way an amorphous amoeba does to capture prey, luring one in with it’s hypnotic flagellum.  The only thing I truly knew starting out was that I wanted to use upcycled t-shirt material to make it.  O, the tangled webs we weave.  I have since downscaled it from an over-ambitious duvet cover to the simple task layed out before me: a throw quilt.  WHY, oh why didn’t I plan on this before?  I would have saved myself literal hours of sleepless nights.  Because the fact of the matter was, though I was excited, I was equally TERRIFIED.  Because I had (and still have) absolutely NO idea what I am doing.  I am completely winging this entire thing.

Here’s how far common sense has carried me so far:

One side all pieced in 6.5" squares and laid out for deliberation.

The monochrome side after I had already sewn the horizontal rows into long banners.

Sewing the horizontal banners all together. Very tedious work with stretchy, annoying fabric.

I ended up inverting every other row because I liked the colors better this way and also because it was coming across a little OCD

The colored layer, facedown with thin batting on top.

All the layers sandwiched. I pinned each square to the square on the other side, making sure the edges were approximated before I cut away the extra batting.

This is where I am now. A very fluffy ENTIRE quilt trying to be maneuvered in my tiny little machine.

Honestly, everything else was a cake walk (once I decided which direction to go) compared to this HELL.  I purposefully got a very simple machine last year with only about 12 settings.  It was served me well, for the most part (other than a couple of hours of very frustrating human error).  There is just so MUCH material and very little room to maneuver it.  I’m not trying to follow any fancy designs because, sure this is a quilt, but it’s made out of old high school and college t-shirts.  It’s not supposed to BE fancy.  It’s supposed to be grungy and comfortable.  I’m honestly just lacing up different colored threads on the monochrome side and simple black on the colored side and making doodle designs as best I can.

Besides needing two extra hands, I just can’t get the material where I need it to go in time to make elegant turns.  So now I have jerk inelegant turns and a frustrated ego.

Some things I have learned so far:

  • Do NOT try to pinch pennies by using cardboard ANYWHERE in the cutting process.  Not for the shape OR the cutting board.  It will just tatter everything and make you angry at life.
  • Rolling cutters are SHARP and EXTREME caution should be used at all time.  Also, bandaids.  You can never have enough.
  • There may come a time in a project when you think maybe you have pinned it too much.  Over-pinned, as it were.  This is completely false.  You can never pin anything enough.  In fact, once you are finished pinning, add ten or fifteen more just for fun.  You will not regret it.

I am considering going out and buying a quilting hoop to make my life a little easier.  It may make it possible to undertake this task with only my two meager hands (it gets worse when I have to hit the Reverse button).  As it is now, the material is bunching more than I’d like and I want to scream a little more every time I flip it over to the back to check the damage.

To soothe my bruised pride, I’m imbibing in some new microbrews (coffee beer, for the record, is horrendous) and zipping together some simple headbands with old bandanas and 1/4″ elastic.

I’ll let you know how it all turns out.  I see a late night ahead.  Hopefully because I finish quilting and not because of the $0.99 historical romances on Kindle.  *shakes fist at amazon*

A feisty chit cleverly coveting his lordship’s codpiece,

A

holy craft storm, Batman!

As a part of my Über Cleaning Project I started going through my Extra Closet.  Yes, I said Extra Closet.  The floor of my Extra Closet is crammed with garbage bags and old backpacks full of craft items.  I took a few pictures once I started separating them out and realizing how overboard I was getting:

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These are miscellaneous scraps that I have no idea what I’m going to do with. Part of old clothes and the like.

This is a mismatch of things. Some mason jars I’m planning to make a chandelier out of. Lots of folded materials that were going to be part of an aborted project.  ModPodge jars of different finishes.  A bottle of stuff that makes regular acrylic paint into fabric paint (I have NO idea what I bought this for). A ton of that rope you make survival bracelets out of (Anyone want a free survival bracelet?  Or anklet?  Or keychain thing?)  A bright blue duct tape?  And more bags of material scraps.

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What I have so far of my t-shirt rug.  A bunch of uncut shirt scraps (separated from shirt squares in a different bag) and a latchhook and rug piece…  The shirt scraps have to be cut in 1×4 inch pieces.  I am less patient than I thought.

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MORE material (all t-shirt squares) and various quilt cutting plastic thingies and the Devil Cutter. Sharp enough to sever your fingers from your hand without you realizing it. Try not to bleed all over the fabric.

This doesn’t even show any of the things on the top shelf (art supplies, canvasses, sketchbooks, brushes) or anything buried in The Back of the Extra Closet.  I don’t even want to go there.

I decided today to work more on my quilt to cut down on the sheer number of unfinished ideas.  I’m making it a bit smaller than planned because it was starting to overwhelm me so the quilt squares get to be smaller, too.  This means, of course, that the extra material I bought for it will have to be repurposed.  I bought many pretty pieces for it.

My bedspread of many colors makes this hard to differentiate…

Anyway, suggestions for the extra material are welcome!!!

A

P.s.  This is just me messing with my hair.  I found a tutorial for easy curls by doing this.  The girl looked elegant when she was done.  I look like a dork with my hair wrapped like this.  Oh well, I’ll let you know how the curls turn out!

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P.p.s.  The curls worked!  I had my hair wrapped for maybe an hour.  They formed well after brushing, but once I stepped back I realized that instead of looking cool and retro, however, I just looked like my mother.  So I flipped it up in a ponytail and got back to work.  I might try it again, if only to have my hair wrapped up in an interesting and comfortable style again.  Maybe next time I’ll try a silk ribbon rather than an old headband.

does this look funny to you?

Hello.  My name is Amanda and I am a hypochondriac.

Like most in my profession, the more I learn the more I’m sure I’ve got it.  You know it, right?  The bug, the disease, the malfunction. I sometimes find myself checking myself as one would a horse before purchase.  I grimace into the mirror to check my gums for gingivitis.  Every bump on my skin is melanoma or a brown recluse bite.  I’ve deemed myself deficient in no less than 7 vitamins and minerals just from the state of my fingernails.

Of course, I diagnose every one else in a much more laid back manner.  “Oh, you’ve just got gas. Lay off the collard greens and pop a couple of Beano, you’ll be fine.”  This isn’t me being facetious.  People seem to think going through nursing school and taking one class on skin health or some such and I’ll be able to diagnose every pimple, pustule, and skin rash they can come up with.  No, I don’t know why your sinuses ache on Tuesdays, take some Sudafed and stop asking.

WebMD doesn’t help my state of mind and I’m not the only one. When my classmates do a symptom search and come back with, “ohmigod, I have cholera,” it’s easy for me to point out the left over pad thai they packed away for lunch probably had nothing to do with it.  But when I do a search and it says I have shingles, or hypothyroidism, or SARS, well, OF COURSE I’m going to believe it!  How am I supposed to prepare for the worst anyway if shingles is really a bad reaction to a new bracelet, or hypothyroidism is the three hours of sleep I’ve been allowing myself, or SARS is actually just a mild sinus infection!?

It’s a jungle out there, people.  Full of microscopic creepy crawlies and spores and infestations.  Most of the time I can keep in mind that spreading the love (aka germs) is actually building a strong immune system.  And then sometimes I get an OCD style cleaning kick that involves bleach, a toothbrush, and knee pads.

Now, pardon me while I don this nonrebreather mask and goggles.  My toilet needs cleaning.

this has been a motivational bulletin

Today, I woke up knowing I had to get stuff done and feeling like it could be a good day.  But somehow I’m still sitting around drinking coffee and wishing for it to be better.

Today, I want to do something unexpected.

That’s the thought that keeps going through my head.  There’s no time for that of course, but I’m keeping my hopes up and my eyes open for something happening today.

I have been in a weird funk of non-motivation lately.  (Re: still drinking my first cup of coffee at noon)  Beside a lot of not feeling my best lately, I have been remarkably unlike me.  I don’t even want CHANGE, which is usually what I jones for.  I just want nothing.  No books to read, no movies to watch, no crafts, no video games, no playing at the lake.  It’s like I’m coming down with a case of the borings.

But I HATE inactivity.  It drives me crazy.  Sitting on the couch watching reruns makes me want to scream (not that I have, this blah thing still says no TV).

SO!  Today’s you-better-get-this-done-or-else list includes:

  • Set up an appt at the vet!  Tucker’s gonna get heartworm and rabies and sickle cell or something, you lazy ass!
  • Cut up t-shirt pieces!  You have all the stuff already, don’t waste the cash on not using it just because you are le tired.  That rug is going to be AWESOME once it’s done!
  • Clean up your room, you slob!  Then maybe you won’t be too embarrassed to open the blinds to let some sunshine into your little hole!
  • Go to mom’s.  She will feed you and make you do hard work and you WILL FEEL BETTER OR ELSE.
  • Make your bed.  Nick’s home and you don’t want to look like a heathen.

WHEW!  I feel better already.  Maybe nothing brilliant and unexpected will happen to me today, but I’ve promised myself some FroYo from a new place around the corner if I do everything on my list.  I’d do a lot for some FroYo, even if I’m buying.

In other news, I joined the website StumbleUpon.com.  It helped when I couldn’t sleep at 4 in the morning, but now it’s controlling my life.  I spent most of this morning looking at this rainbow girl’s flickr pictures all because of that site.  It’s even cutting into my one facebook game addiction Ravenwood Fair, which I am not proud of, but can’t quit.  On the bright side, it helped me find an amazing new desktop background to replace the one I had that frequently distracted me (Hugh Laurie being all blue eyed and dreamy).

I’ll leave you with this little ditty that always puts things in perspective:

 jk apparently.  y u no youtube, wordpress?  The link is First World Problems Rap.