Sunday, January 26, 2014

Weekend Recap

I usually don't like being boring busy. I don't mind being fun busy, like getting ready for houseguests to spend the night or preparing for a dinner party, but homework?! Blah! Yep, it was one of those weeks again when I cram all my montessori homework in one week and travel all the way to another state for a couple hours of training. I can do without weeks like this, not to mention the snow I had to drive through...Sometimes I feel like my week is wasted and I can't wait for the next one to start, but then I think about it more and remember there are delightful things to be happy about.

1. My sister in-law and brother in-law live in the same city I'm recieving my montessori training. I try to visit while I can, and this time they gave me a birthday present: handknit wristwarmers made by my sister in-law and a cute blouse they found at Plato's closet! I feel delightfully tickled with how well they seem to know my style. My birthday isn't even until Febuary. Hurray for early birthday presents!!
2. I finished reading Something Wicked This Way Comes (by Ray Bradbury, it was excellent!) and now I'm moving on to Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. It's one of my New Years resolutions to read more. Go me!
3. My husband and I found these playaway audiobooks in the library, and I had the joy of listening to The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger on the car ride to and from my training. That's about six hours of listening, and it made the trip feel so much faster. 
4. I'm currently listening to Gaby Moreno who popped up while I was listening to Pandora. She's a singer/song-writer, and I love how she sings in English and Spanish. Some of her songs have a wonderful vintage vibe to them, kind of in a 1920s kind of way.
5. Blancanieves from director Pablo Berger. It's a black and white, silent, fairytale film. Basically, if Snow White was born in Spain during the 20s.
6. Currently making: knitted experimental striped scarf. Knitting is my go-to craft and this is a scarf I've been working on now and then. I wanted to make it without a pattern and just knit whatever idea popped into my head. Thus, it's very ecclectic and has lots of textures, but I kept it uniform using the stripes and the same four colors. I'll be done soon and still have time to don it over the last remaining weeks of winter.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Think of the Possibilities!!!

As I've mentioned before, I am really into earring studs in a BIG way right now. I found this great tutorial on Hello, Whimsy, a DIY jewelry blog, which is going to expand all the possibilities of my earring collection! Hello, Whimsy was inspired by the Mise en Dior collection and showed her readers how they could create the same look.

(picture source: Hello, Whimsy)

Hello, Whimsy had such a great but unbelievably easy tutorial. You can see the directions and other great tutorials by clicking on the link under the pictures from her blog. Basically, all you have to do for this project is glue plastic earring backs into the hole of another bead, and use it as an earring back for an existing stud you already have. Ta daaaa! Easy, right? I was even suprised after finishing one pair. "That's it?!" 

(picture source: Hello, Whimsy)

I'm on a tight budget, so I had to work with what I already had. I managed to find a few glass and wooden beads. Unfortunately, Hello, Whimsy warns against using glass beads, probably because they're too heavy and could fall off. I decided to risk it knowing these pieces are being reused from old jewelry I no longer wanted and took apart. So they're basically free? Sort of...Anyways, no loss if they fall off. Besides, I think they turned out pretty stellar!

Here are the first one I made. I especially like the plain wooden bead I used and seeing it's natural grain with the hot pink stud. I love the pops of color of these earrings and how unique and modern they look. As a result, I went a little crazy and made a few more...

These wooden beads were being thrown out at my school, and I found a way to dress them up a bit with some paint and nail polish.

You can see my creative and ghetto way of allowing the beads to dry. That's how I roll...

I now have an endless number of combinations! It's like gaining more than 20 new pairs of earring for the price of free! :)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jar Makeover

Due to my growing button collection, I had to come up with some storage for my already overflowing jars. As an indirect result of collecting buttons, I am also accumulating jars. Oh great! All of them are starting to look like one big sea of glass on my shelf. I happened to find this idea on Pinterest and thought it would break the monotony.

(Edward and Lilly-

I gave it a whirl last week. My husband forgot to take out the recycling, which actually turned out to be a good thing. I was able to rummage a couple spaghetti sauce jars and even a coffee can, which I'll save for another blog post once I figure out what to do with it. A wash with hot water and Oxiclean cleaned them right out. Some elbow grease and a rough sponge was needed for the sticky patches where the labels were.

Take a look at this beautiful spool of...actually I have no idea what kind of fiber it is. I found it at a reuse craft store, and I loved it's texture and all the different materials spun into it. The string is pretty rough, so it has been sitting on my shelf for a while since I couldn't find a use for it. 

The string works well for these jars. I'm not kidding with how rough it is though;I actually had to take a break from crocheting every now and then to put lotion on my hands because it was getting scratchy. Perhaps the rest of the string would be good for making some scrubbies for dishwashing.

I did not have a crochet pattern but went right to it. Meh, I figured I had enough basic crochet knowledge to just wing it. Or maybe it was just laziness...

Well, whatever the case, it turned out pretty well I think. Black acrylic was used to paint the lids. This jar is holding a bunch of old match books we had lying around.

Finding out how easy and fun this was to make could be dangerous. I may have to find more buttons to fill all the jars I'm going to start collecting ;)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Order Out of Chaos

I have reason to be on edge today. I endured a chaotic fire drill at school, at which I carried an infant in each arm down the stairs while shuffling along a line of screaming toddlers only to go outside in the freezing cold with only my slippers on and no coat. (Deep breath) It's all over, and we are all safe. We were sent home early after the whole fiasco, and after accomplishing several tasks on my cleaning to-do list I figured I deserve a soothing and almost therapeutic activity: sorting buttons.

I haven't done this in a real long time, but since my craft room has been so clean lately I have a wide open space on my table to work on it. I was not alone in the sorting. My husband joined me in my craft room, which is rare. He read something scary online and didn't want to be alone, hehehe. I guess he needed some relaxing therapy too.

I have a ton of buttons! Most are sorted, but I have a few containers I've bought from recent estate sales that haven't been touched yet. We sifted and seperated and standardized them by color and sorted them in different jars. A few buttons were unique and almost had a personality of their own; these ones we put on a tray. I use the unique buttons for inspiration when I begin forming them into special collections. 

I don't know what it is about sorting a bunch of tiny items that makes it relaxing. We could have been sorting legos, change, or even puzzle pieces and the result would have been the same. Also, currently we are listening to Damien Jurado, who performs pretty chill music. A little Damien Jurado and a cup of hot tea will help anyone set the mood to unwind for the evening. I believe I'm ready for bed now. Here's to hoping for a normal day at work tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Shrinky Dink Experiment

There are two words that bring as much joy to a little kid as it does for an adult who is in her late twenties- SNOW DAAAAY!!! To clarify, there is hardly any snow on the ground, but the temperature is below zero. School administration thought it best for employees to stay home and hibernate for a day or two. 

I thought it was my opportunity to try something I've always wanted- shrinky dink jewelry! I've been into stud earrings lately. It started when I found out the toddlers at school like to yank dangly earrings out of ears. "No, thank you!" as we say in Montessori. So the best solution is wearing studs, which I included in my Christmas list this year and have recieved many. But I want more! So here's what I did to make these...

Things you'll need...
1. paper and pencil to doodle ideas
2. shrinky dink paper you can buy at the craft store
3. permanent markers
4. scissors
5. foil and baking sheet
6. oven (toaster or conventional)
7. earring findings
8. nail file or fine sand paper
9. E6000 glue, which apparently may cause kidney damage and cancer. Fun.
10. a nice cup of tea just for kicks

1. Start by doodling your ideas on paper on what kind of earrings you'd like to make. Know that if your design is 10" it will shrink to 4.25" once completed. So you do the math. I hope you remember simple algebra from 4th grade.
2. When you are content with your design you are ready to trace it onto the shrinky dink paper. Shrinky dink paper has two sides, one shiny and the other more rough. Trace the design with thin permanent marker on the SHINY side. Black marker works best, but I couldn't find mine...
3. This is when tracing paper would have come in handy, because you could flip it over and trace the mirror image. If you don't have any like me, I just flipped the design I had just traced and put another piece of shrinky dink paper over that. Trace the mirrored image of the desing onto that second piece of paper. Now you have two.
4. Flip both pieces of paper over so the rough side is facing up. Fill in the design however you wish. This is second to the best part! It's just like coloring when you were a little kid. This is when you whip up some tea and listen to some happy sounding Pandora station, like Regina Spektor. Have fun!
5. Cut out both designs with scissors. There's room for error because you will file the edges at the end to make them more smooth, so don't sweat it.
6. Preheat oven to the instructions that came with the shrinky dink paper you bought. Mine was preaheated to 325 degrees F.
7. Line a baking sheet with foil, and place the two pieces of shrinky dink on it. Make sure the baking sheet is nice and flat. Place it in the oven and prepare to be amazed!
8. Okay, so this is where it gets foggy for me. I also lost the English worded directions that came with the pack of paper. I had to translate the Spanish directions...Ugh, apparently my algebra is way better than what I remember from Spanish class. leave the baking sheet in there for only 1-3 minutes. Hopefully, your oven has a little window you could look through and watch the magic happen. Your shrinky dink will begin to move and curl. Don't panic! Keep watching!
9. Breathe out! And by the time you do, you'll notice your shrinky dink designs begin to flatten themselves back onto the baking sheet. After the 1-3 mintues, take the sheet out. Let the work cool for 30 seconds before handling.
10. Use a nail file or fine sand paper to sand down any sharp corners or to smooth out the sides.
11. Glue earring findings with E6000 glue, following the directions on the tube.


Here is a before picture of my work before I popped them in the oven, and here they are after they've shrunk. Pretty impressed! I like how they shrink but become thicker.

I want a couple more snow days to make more! :) 

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Start

Alright, here we go 2014! I'm off to a positive start already! I finally got my act together and cleaned up after Hurricane Craftzilla ravaged my room last year. Everything is now rearranged, and I even have room for friends at the table!

Wow, I think I see my floor!

There's a couple more areas I want to organize on the shelf, perhaps some things to give away. But I'll save that for another day :) 

 Okay, I think it's time for a nap. Phew!

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