Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: A Little Space

Things have been really.... bipolar lately. I'm not sure how else to put it.

One day is great and I'm really productive and life feels great. The next I'm exhausted and get nearly nothing done and I feel like I'm at my wit's end. And sometimes I feel all of that in a single day.

Welcome to motherhood, right?

This week has been tough. Between living with my in-laws and trying to control my head-strong domestic instincts (since this isn't my house and I can't just reorganize everything and get rid of half of the stuff that I think is useless). I miss cooking. I honestly don't do it much now since I can't use the kitchen most days because the counter is perpetually cluttered with who-knows-what kind of plumbing materials, papers, old dirty dishes, and cold food that's been sitting out for too long.

*sigh*

I want to eat healthy foods. I miss healthy food. I miss having the space to cook most days. I miss having an organized kitchen so that cooking is easy and enjoyable. It's such a chore now-days. I still love to do it, so I still do occasionally. But it's frustrating and difficult beyond what is necessary.

My food on Friday posts may be posted a little later some days. That goes for all of my posts, actually. They'll still be posted, they just might be done in the afternoon... or evening... or around 10pm.

My family and my sanity come first. So if that means posts published later, then that's what will happen.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Check That off My Bucket List!

I have a bucket list. I've already done quite a few items on it, and every time I do something else I feel so much more accomplished.

So what's the latest thing I've done on it?

Oh, just something I've been wanting to try for my entire life.


I took a glassblowing class! And I personally made my very own blown glass tumbler.



It was so much fun! And definitely worth it. A while back my sweet husband found a Groupon deal for an intro class to glassblowing for two. He put it on my Facebook wall, telling me that my good friend Lyssa (who is a high school art teacher) and I should get it. Oh, we were all over that! Like me, Lyssa had wanted to learn the art of glassblowing for years and years. My only holdup had been how expensive it is. But with that Groupon deal, it was only about $75 each! That is such a great price compared to everything else I'd seen!

So we finally scheduled our class and went on September 8th. The place is called Stone and Glass.
(And thank you, Lyssa, for taking pictures for me!)




The owner, James Stone, is a really great fellow. He's an artist who is passionate about both ocean conservation and creating beautiful works of art using glass, stone, and other mediums.






He has a few employees who assist him in teaching these classes and in making items to sell. Seven students, including ourselves, showed up for the class. We observed one of them make an simple tumbler, and then split up into two groups to work on our own pieces. I really like how hands-on this skill is to learn. If you're a little nervous about it, they'll so most of the work for you. If you want to do most of it yourself, they'll simply guide you through the process while you decide color, shape, and design. I wanted to do a lot of it myself, so Mariah, the girl who was helping me, just guided my hands through the process at first and then let me to a lot of the work.

Safety is important, so we were required to wear glasses, long pants, a cotton shirt, and closed toed shoes.

It gets really hot in the workroom. The furnace that holds the clear melted glass in the bottom is kept at about 2100 degrees Fahrenheit.



And there were two kilns for each group to work with. The heat didn't bother me very much, mostly because I was just so excited to learn and make my own.



There's a lot of back and forth between shaping and working the glass and then reheating it in the kiln to keep it malleable.

To get color into the glass, you roll it in colored bits that melt and swirl into the piece as it's worked.






It's important to keep a pointed tip on the hot glass as it's worked. so that it blows out correctly.








Blowing air into it wasn't quite as tough as I thought it might be, but then again I wasn't making anything huge, so I didn't have to blow too much air into my piece. I'm sure something bigger would be trickier.















What's really amazing is that putting a couple of drops of water on certain places, it weakens the glass so that it breaks. This is used to remove the piece from the pole or set it in the oven to cool. Mariah put a couple of drops in specific spots, and when the tumbler was set in place to cool, she tapped on the pole with this tool once or twice and it came right off. 





The glass has to cool down really slowly, otherwise it gets weak and will break. So our pieces weren't ready to be picked up until the following day. They sit in a 925 degree oven and the temperature is lowered by 50 degrees Fahrenheit each hour.


The whole process is really beautiful and some-what intense. I want to do more now! I've definitely been bitten by the glassblowing bug. It's addicting. They were talking about starting up an intermediate class. I think I'll start saving up my money so that I can take it when/if it becomes available!



The green has glitter in it. 




So, if you're interested in learning the art of glassblowing, I highly recommend this place if you're from the San Diego area. You won't be disappointed if you go with an open mind and heart, excited to learn this beautiful skill. If you do, tell James you read about him and his classes on my blog here.




Monday, September 24, 2012

Photography

I've always been interested photography. One of my brothers got an SLR camera when I was in middle school (before DSLRs existed) and I have been jealous ever since. I never really let anyone know how truly interested I was in it. If I had I probably would have gotten into it sooner.

I finally bought my first DSLR from a friend of mine who is not only a lovely lady, but shes also a fabulous photographer. She took some maternity photos for me and I love how they turned out!

A shot from that photo shoot.


I also really love the camera I bought. It's a Canon Rebel XS. It's a really great first DSLR for a beginner like me.

I've been teaching myself how to use it. I've tried to avoid using the auto mode as much as possible and it's paying off. I'm getting the hang of shooting in RAW format, adjusting the aperture timing and the ISO, along with the white balance, and occasionally learning how to manually focus the lens. It's a lot of fun!

I offered to guest post on Jennifer's blog recently, and when I asked what she'd like me to post about she requested food photography. I was honored and flattered that she thought so highly of my photos! I did, however, think it was an ironic coincidence that the day before my guest post went up my camera stopped working.

:(

I took it in to a repair shop to have it maintenanced because I think I know what the problem is. Hopefully it's just a simple procedure and won't cost me too much. I'll find out today or tomorrow when they call me after having a look inside.

Anyway, it looks like I'll be using my husband's old point-and-shoot camera for a couple of weeks until that one hopefully gets fixed. By the way, his camera's display screen doesn't work because I cracked it when I wrecked on my snowboard  But I'll try to take quality photos anyway. It just makes me kind of sad that I have to downgrade since I've steadily been getting so proficient at using my Canon Rebel. Just a heads-up for you.

Go and check out my guest post on Jennifer's blog. I wrote and demonstrated some tips about photographing food. I'm pretty pleased with it.

Also, I did take family portraits for a friend a couple of months ago. I think it turned out great for my first one! Have a look at my Facebook page if you'd like to see it. It was a lot of fun. I could definitely get used to being a professional photographer.



I hope you don't hate me for not having anything crafty for today. I just got back in town from a 10-day road trip a couple of days ago, and what with my camera, Graham's now haywire sleeping patterns, unpacking, and getting ready for a ridiculously busy week ahead of us, this is the best I could muster up for today.

Plus, I really am proud of that guest post. I'll basically make it my own post for today (because I love myself enough to take it a little easy since I both need and deserve it right now). But you'll need to go and read it on Jennifer's blog.

I hope you have a great week. Mine will be exhausting and my sleep deprivation will continue on due to this kid.



It's a good thing I love him and he's ridiculously adorable, otherwise I wouldn't put up with it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Food on Friday: See Tomorrow...

I'm guest posting tomorrow at Margot's blog, Newfoundlander at Heart. It's one of the easiest recipes you'll ever see. And it's tasty, hearty, and pretty versatile too.

Have a sneak peak.



Now go here to take a look. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blogger Award

I've been so behind on things. I feel bad about it. I hate blogging on the weekend because I'd much rather spend time with family, but then I'm playing catch-up on Monday and Tuesday every week, so I don't get to things like this until Wednesday, except, I've been preparing to go out of town for several days, so it got pushed back even further. (I haven't been ignoring your blog, Brittany, I promise! I do read all of your posts.)

I've gotten my very first award as a blogger! I'm really honored.


So what is this thing? Well let me break it down for you.

Any blogger can nominate a favorite blogger or friend who he/she feels is qualified and deserves such an award. You generally want to award someone who is friendly, kind, and has a blog you love. 

That's why I'm so honored to receive this!

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So here are the rules of receiving this award.

1. Thank the giver.
2. Post 7 interesting/unique tidbits about yourself.
3. Nominate 7 deserving bloggers.
4. Include the award logo in your post about being nominated.

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1.  Thank you, thank you, Brittany!! You're such a sweetheart.

2.  Seven interesting facts about me:
  • I love seafood, especially shellfish. Louisiana crawfish are my all time favorite. Oh, how I miss The South some days...
  • I have a freckle on my left thumb and you can see it in a lot of my photos of projects I'm working on. Every time I see it in a picture it makes me smile. 
  • Sometimes, when I'm taking pictures to include in a post, I'll try to angle my camera just right to get my wedding ring in pictures because it's so pretty (and sparkly!).
  • I kind of want to get my baby son into a modeling or talent agency. He's so stinkin' cute and has way too much personality for a 5-month-old. I think he'd do great in commercials and ad campaigns. But maybe I'm just biased.
  • My husband and I are really a little weird. Sometimes he'll stare at me until I look at him, and when our eyes meet, we act like schoolkids with crushes on each other and grin and blush and wave awkwardly at one another without saying a word. I have no idea how it started, but we do it multiple times a day. 
  • I have really tiny wrists. They're only about 5.5 inches in diameter. 
  • I've always wanted to be a fashion model. But when I stopped growing at 5'3" I knew it would never happen. It's okay though. I sometimes do my own photo shoots, so I'll just be a self proclaimed fashion model.


3.  Now, I know everybody is busy and like me, have very little time to do very much other than their blog routine. I totally understand that. I know this might be altering the rules a little, but I don't want my nominees to feel obligated to post about the award immediately (or at all, in some cases). Take your time and fit it into your schedule when (and if) you can if you'd like to participate. Mostly, this is my way of saying thank you and telling others about how wonderful I think these bloggers are as people. I'm not hurt if you don't really want to participate. I just want you to know that I love and appreciate you. 

So, my seven nominees are:


Jennifer at Grits and Moxie
Shaylee Ann at Mother at Heart
Kelly at Diego Girl

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

My Baby Carrier

I borrowed a friend's baby carrier back when I went to Girl's Camp and loved it. It was a pretty simple design, so I decided to try making my own.




And I love it!

I really like the wavy applique I put on the front.



And the color.



And it's not too feminine so Bob can wear it and still look some-what manly... Well, as manly as a guy carrying a baby can look. I guess he mostly just looks like a dad. And I like that.

Graham loves to stand, so here he is standing on Bob's
hands instead of just sitting in the carrier. Silly boy.


I probably can't make these to sell (yet) because I need to make sure I wouldn't be infringing on any patents from any other baby carriers. Maybe one day I'll make these to sell.





Until then... Isn't it cute?!



Please note that I educated myself on certain health problems related to using baby carriers, both in adults and infants. As far as my research and understanding of such problems, this carrier that I designed and created is safe and supports proper weight distribution and alignment for both myself and my husband as well as our son.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jennifer!

I started following Jennifer's blog a while back. She's a creative, loving, quirky old soul. She's got fabulous hobbies and I'm pretty sure that if we lived in the same town we'd go to flea markets and estate sales every weekend. If I thought my projects were already never ending, it would probably be even worse then.

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What's your favorite place you've ever lived?
Every single placed I've lived has been full of good things but I have to say that my favorite place so far has been my current locale of Athens, GA.  It's been difficult to change my life so much to move here but I've learned so much about myself...and the fireflies are amazing.

Name 3 things you like about yourself.
I like my button nose, that I'm able to pick things up with my toes and that I have the ability to forgive.

What's your favorite dessert?
It's a 3-way tie between panna cotta with balsamic reduction, chocolate pots de creme and a good dab of peanut butter on a spoon.

What's your go-to recipe/food when you don't know what to do for dinner?
I make this crazy egg concoction involved tomatoes, avocado, yogurt, cheese and poached eggs on a toasted tortilla.  It's amazing, healthy and super messy.

What are the last 3 things you pinned on Pinterest?
Jack-o-lantern ideas, a cool beetle tattoo and a clutch made by Jesse from Anykind.

What is something you've always wanted to learn and why haven't you learned it yet?
I've always wanted to learn how to trapeze and simply haven't been courageous enough to try.  I suffer from a bit of a fear of heights but since I added this to my bucket list I think that I'll eventually be able to do it!

Sum up your blog in one sentence.
My blog is about my desire to create and express and better myself every single day.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Lately it has been from my Mom since she's creative, and loving, and has overcome so much hardship to make this new and wonderful life for herself.  My Mom rocks!

Is there anything else you want others to know about you?
That I'm a huge advocate for animal welfare, sustainability, recycling and equality.  I'm an activist and always will be!


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That's Jennifer. Isn't she a doll? I sure enjoy her blog. It's very down-to-earth and every time I read it I feel like I just spent some time sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, drinking fresh lemonade and chatting about nothing in particular during sunset. It's a nice change of pace and a breath of fresh air. 

Go and say hello. She'd love it. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Simple Personalized Cotton Baby Blanket

I love living in Southern California. The weather is pretty constant year-round, even if the ocean is often on the chilly side. There are several weeks in the summer that get really hot though. It doesn't last long, well, compared to my childhood towns in Louisiana or Tennessee. The coastal heat is far more tolerable than the muggy, humid heat that the South bears.

Having an infant through the summer can be difficult when it gets hot (although I'm sure being pregnant through the hot summer is probably far more miserable). We had a challenge with nap time for Graham in those hot weeks since we didn't have air conditioning. Graham needed to be swaddled, but all we had were cozy flannel blankets. He slept like a furnace as it was, so being swaddled in a warm flannel blanket was just more than I was willing to let him do when the temperature reached 90 degrees some days.

I found some plain cotton fabric and decided to make him a few simple blankets out of it. He still slept warm, so we'd swaddle him and then take a spray bottle filled with water and just spray the blanket down until it was pretty soaked. That kept him cool on the hottest days and he napped pretty comfortably.

Recently, however, I went to get him out of his crib and he had rolled over from his back onto his stomach. It was time to throw swaddling out the window. Surprisingly, it only took two days for Graham to adjust to not being swaddled during sleep time. He's always been a pretty good sleeper. Well, not at sleeping through the night, but when it's time to nap or go to bed he generally lays down quietly and goes right to sleep without a fight. Sometimes he'll lay there and just talk to himself for a few minutes before drifting off, but he does typically fall asleep very well. We did start from day one to establish that habit and so far it's been working out really well.

Anyway, Graham loves his cottong blankets. Sometimes if he's tired and he gets a little fussy, I'll stick his pacifier in his mouth, hand him his blanket, and he'll wad it up around his face, close his eyes, and immediately go to sleep. I find it amazing that he can sooth himself with the right couple of things. He's really an incredible baby boy.

So back to these blankets I made. I'm not a fan of hemming things--dresses, skirts, pants (well, pants aren't so bad), I just get bored of hemming things. I find it so boring. Turning under the edges of a blanket are exactly the same thing to me and I did not feel like doing that for these blankets.

So I got creative.
And then I got more creative.
I ended up with a decorative edged monogrammed blanket.
And I love it!



Here's a tutorial on how to do it yourself.

Supplies:
woven cotton broadcloth or cotton gauze fabric
accent colored thread
paper
sewing machine
scissors



First, tear it down to size. Literally, you get to tear the fabric. Determine the size you want it to be, make a snip where the size will be right, and tear the fabric tdown to the length you want each side to be. You'll get a few stray threads coming off the edges, so just pull those off and continue on.




Here's a quick lesson on fabric. When it's made, the individual little threads are supposed to cross eachother at 90 degree angles. This is called "on grain." However, with dying, printing, and winding fabric on spools or bolts, those 90 degree angles usually get contorted and rarely stay 90 degrees, which is called "off grain." If you've ever had a t-shirt that has a side seam that doesn't go straight down your side but ends up curving around to the front or back, you've experienced this annoying phenomenon. Before the shirt was made they didn't get the fabric back on grain and there's no way it will ever lay flat or straight.



So when you have a woven fabric and you use this tearing method, it actually rips all the way down a single thread and then you can pull and stretch the fabric to put it back on grain and get those 90 degree angles back. But if I'm just making a blanket I'm not going to bother with the latter part.

Next, finish the edges.I have a few decorative stitches on my sewing machine, so I picked one and went with it.

I used stitch number 4 for the edges, and number 15 for the monogrammed letter.


I stitched about an eight of an inch from the torn edge, leaving some fringe around the outside of the blanket. Then pull off any threads that are parallel to the edge, leaving the nice fuzzy fringe-like threads.



You can leave it like that, or you can add a cute monogrammed letter to one corner by following the next steps.

Write or print the correctly sized letter(s) you want on a sheet of paper. I did a lower-case letter g for Graham's name. (And I used an expired coupon because I didn't want to waste a whole sheet of pretty new paper.)



Pin the paper to the blanket where you want it to be monogrammed. (You see where this is going, don't you?) If your fabric is sheer, you can pin the paper underneath the fabric, but of your fabric is not very see-through, you'll want to pin the paper over the top of it.



Pick the stitch you want to use. (I like the triple straight stitch setting on my machine.) Slowly sew along the line of the letter on the paper, stitching through both the paper and the fabric. Use your hand wheel more than your foot pedal so that you get your curves and lines precise. Leave your needle down and raise the presser foot when you need to turn your fabric for more dramatic curves, putting the presser foot back down each time you begin to stitch again. It only takes a few minutes to do a single letter if you do it carefully and slowly. Be sure to backstitch or leave extra thread for hand knotting at the beginning and end of each line you sew to keep the thread from unraveling.




Carefully tear off the paper once you've finished stitching on it, making sure not to pull out any of the stitching.




And voila!

An adorable personalized baby blanket!



The possibilities for this technique are pretty endless. You can use it on clothing, on quilts,  for wall decor, etcetera. If you decide to try this, please let me know! I'd love to see the ideas and projects you come up with!

I'm also planning on making and selling a few personalized blankets like this soon. Check my Etsy shop in the coming weeks to see what will be available!
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