Giving my Resolutions a Little Wiggle Room

So the new year is almost upon us and I thought I would get in on the resolution-making that is happening out there. But instead of setting myself up for failure, I gave myself some wiggle room.

1. Exercise 1 hour every day. Does repeatedly walking from the desk to the fridge count? No? Okay, then scratch that. How about exercise more? Doable right? No rules about type, frequency or duration. Just more. Considering I was a sloth from August to December of last year, this should be easy.

2. Read a book a week. Now I know there are people out there who consume a book a day, but that’s just not me. A couple of years ago, I’d completely fallen out of the habit of reading. Sure I flipped through a couple of Better Homes and Gardens magazines here and there, but I never touched a full-length novel.  Now I’m back in the game and loving it. And I’m ready to do more. Maybe a book a week, we’ll see, but I just want to do better than last year.

3. Write a thousand words a day. Ha! Even when I spend a full day writing, this just isn’t my style. There are days I reach over a thousand and then days I only hit 500. And (gasp) there are days I don’t write at all. Sometimes I just have to step away, take a break, maybe have a few wacky life experiences to fuel my creativity. So, instead of forcing myself to write a certain number of words a day, my goal is to have my second novel finished (and by finished, I mean fully edited, revised and proofread) by the end of the year.

And for those of you who recall the challenge I placed before myself at the November, I have an update. My goal was to have the first draft of my current WIP revised and ready to be chewed apart by beta readers at the end of the month. This month. Well, I failed. And here is my excuse: the holidays. See, this is what I was doing instead:

Making chocolate. It was really easy. I found the recipe on Oh She Glows and just had to try it myself–only 4 ingredients, about 5 minutes for melting/combing, and then a little freezer time. They were super yummy.

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Homemade chocolate!

I saw this snowman on Pinterest and just had to do it. Here is the blog link.

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We made these wreath ornaments to hand out as gifts. They were really easy once you find the mini wreath forms. The tutorial is here.

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This is one my husband made. He’s so crafty 🙂

Lastly, I made this woodland scene advent calendar for my husband. Under each item was a treat or an activity to do together. The blog link for this is here.

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Check out the narwhal in the lake. They really live in the ocean, but I was taking creative liberties.

Now, I did get some work done on the novel and it’s going a little more quickly than I first imagined. So, my new goal is to have it ready mid-January.

4. Journal every day. I tried this last year, even giving the two-sentence journal a shot. I think my last entry was in the end of March. So, I saw this on Pinterest and decided to make one. Here is the link to the tutorial.

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It’s a calendar, with an index card for every day of the year. You pull out the card for the current day, write the year and then a sentence or two about what happened. My husband and I started the day after Christmas, sharing the responsibility for jotting down something witty and memorable. As the years go by, the cards will fill up and you get to reminisce while you journal. I this will be more doable since it is a shared duty and it’s on the coffee table staring at me every night, making me feel guilty.

So that’s it. I could resolve to eat better, but my husband would probably die from laughter. I just discovered you can wrap almost anything in moist bread and deep fry it–no batter required. The possibilities are endless…

UPDATE:

I know it sounds weird. I found a recipe for Indian Bread Rolls stuffed with potatoes on Veg Recipes of India and it was amazing. Then I started thinking of all the other mixtures that could be wrapped in bread and fried. Here are a couple of pics from the Veg Recipes of India website showing the bread rolls being made and what they look like after being fried.

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Image courtesy Veg Recipes of India.

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Image courtesy Veg Recipes of India.

 

Happy New Year everyone!!

18 steps to making a mini top hat (in the real world)

1. Procrastinate the making of your Halloween costume. You have plenty of time to put something together and your favorite TV show is on tonight. But you’ll definitely start working on it tomorrow. You promise yourself.

2. Initiate panic sequence the day of your Halloween party. You’ve dug through your closet and were able to throw a  costume together, but realize you need a cute mini top hat to top off the outfit.

3.  Hoard multiple empty cereal boxes in your basement. If you’ve actually done this, you were either featured on Hoarders or you were using them to make mini top hats and then decided you would make loads of them to sell. Later you did the math and realized you would have to make one an hour to be profitable. Sadly you were averaging one a weekend.

Cereal boxes for top hats

At least it’s not Lucky Charms..

4. Stockpile yards and scraps of tulle and fabric, along with baubles, buttons, and faux flowers because if there is a zombie apocalypse you know you’ll be able to sell them for a huge mark up.

Tulle and fabric

One day this will be organized. Likely after I fold the laundry and finish my novel…

(If you realize you weren’t proactive enough to have completed steps three and four, your hat making experience will require a trip to the grocery store and/or the craft store. This will add to the stress created by steps number one and two.)

5. Rummage through your supplies to find a color combo that works. It’s best if the materials are spread all over the floor so your cats can roll on, bite and bat all your precious materials. It will also annoy your husband.

6. Use the power of suggestion so that your husband decides he should go to the coffee shop and bring back your favorite beverage.

7. Pick suitable background noise. Music is okay. But I find a showing of The Hunger Games or Vampire Diaries works best. A word of caution though, the background noise should not compete for your full attention. This could lead to hours of watching and no crafting. I’ve seen it happen before. It’s not pretty.

8.  Begin construction. Because you’ve waited until the last minute, there is no time for patterns or measurements. You just use objects around the house that “look” like they’re the right size.

Tracing cup for top hat

I used a water glass to trace the top of the hat.

Fringes for top hat

I follow my traced line when cutting out the top, but actually cut a centimeter or two outside of the line. Then I make these little cuts to create a fringe. Then I fold them in so they can be tucked into the body of the hat.

Tracing bowl for bottom of hat

Then I use a bowl to trace the base of the hat and cut along the traced line.

The strip of cardboard (see below) that makes up the body of the hat will have to be cut a little longer than the circumference of the top of the hat, after the fringes have been folded in.

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This will make it so that the body of the hat ends up being the same width as the top of the hat, but will allow some overlap to glue the ends of the body together. The width (or short part) of your body piece will determine how tall the hat is.

cardboard mini top hat

To make it easier to form the body of the hat I sprinkle it with water and then rub it in a bit. You can now form it into a  tube and glue the ends together. If you want your hat to narrow at the base of the body it will have to be cut into an arc to allow for this. It is a pain but I just keep eyeballing it and trimming it until it is right.

For the base of the hat, you will cut a round hole in the middle of the base that is a little smaller than the circumference of the body. I center the glued body in the middle of the base piece and trace around it. Then when cutting, I follow the line, but cut about a centimeter or two on the inside of the line. Then I cut the little fringes to the traced line (as done with the top of the hat above) and fold the fringes in, so that they can be tucked into the body of the hat (see below).

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The outer line here is where I traced the body, and the inner line is where I would cut to leave myself space to make the fringes.

9. Pause to reheat coffee and discuss how unrealistic a certain vampire character is.

10. I forgot to tell you your husband is also working on a hat. His is a store bought top hat that he is embellishing. After about 20 minutes of work he shows you what he has done. Be careful here. If you are not sensitive in your critique you will end up working on two hats.

11. Begin working on husband’s hat. He has become frustrated, whiny and defeated. But first, pause to go to the bathroom.

12. Once you’ve finished with your husband’s hat, listen to him gloat about how he knew if he whined enough you would just do it for him.

13. Realize that a couple of your cardboard pieces are cut too big, or perhaps the others are too small. Since you can’t make the smaller ones bigger, you trim the larger ones trying not to make things worse. You likely make things worse and now your hat is about half the size you originally planned. Pause to go the bathroom again.

Cardboard mini top hat

You will then insert the fringes of the base into the body of the hat and glue them in place.

cereal box mini top hat

And insert the fringes of the of the top into the body and glue in place. Of course my top was a little big so I had to jam it in there.

Fabric over mini top hat

Then I cut fabric to size (I just eyeballed it). You could have traced the fabric earlier using your cut box pieces, but I like to do things the hard way.

14. Add the finishing touches and repeatedly tell yourself that no one is going to look that closely at it anyway. Curse the earlier cup of coffee because you have to pee again.

Trim around mini top hat

You’ll want to add trim around the top, the base and brim.

15. Attempt to remove the glue strands that are now on the couch, coffee table, cat, your hair and of course clinging to all parts of your hat.

16. Revel in your masterpiece and then realize you’ve been crafting almost all day. You will surely be at least an hour late to the party. Thumb through a magazine and surf the internet for a few minutes.

17. Scramble to get ready and then head to the party. About 10 minutes into the drive you’ll realize the hat is still sitting on your dining room table. Turn back and arrive at the party 45 minutes late.

18. Revel in the fact that you are only 45 minutes late. And you have an amazing top hat! And there you go. I hope you enjoyed my mini top hat tutorial. With the proper amount of hoarding, procrastination, spousal manipulation and caffeine you too can have a top hat just like this!

Red and black mini top hat

And then embellish and attach to a headband or alligator clips. I have no idea how most people attach the hat to the headband, I just glue gun the heck out of it 🙂

A Bridal Shower Took Over My Life (and I’m still here to talk about it)

craft suppliesGlue in your hair, burns on your fingertips, and a coffee buzz so strong your crafting materials sing show tunes right before your eyes. This is what happens when you host a bridal shower … a bridal shower inspired by PINTEREST.

I mentioned in a previous post that my cousin got married. Well, I offered to host the shower (because I have a foolish desire to make tea sandwiches and have strangers peer in my medicine cabinet) and became part of the whirlwind/sinkhole/minefield that is the wedding industry. It was amazing/utterly consuming.

My planning began innocently with an Internet search for bridal shower ideas, which piqued my interest in tissue poms. And that’s when I saw it: my first Pinterest page. It was beautiful. Dotted with images of tulle poms, felt flowers, paper rosettes, pastel and vibrant colored bunting. Things that no mere mortal could have possibly created. I was hooked.

I signed up for my own Pinterest account and soon I had the entire shower mapped out in a collage of images.

Almost all my free time was committed to the shower. I enlisted the help of my reluctant mother who eyed the glue gun nervously and cut cardstock with trepidation.

Soon, strings of fabric were embedded in the couch, rhinestones became tiny, foot piercing land mines, and wayward strands of glue floated in our wine glasses.

I tried to remain organized, but the crafting supplies quickly took over the house.

There were bags upon bags from Joann Fabric and Hobby Lobby to keep track of. Accusations spewed from my mouth when I couldn’t find the scraps of tulle I knew I’d saved.

Me (pacing the room): You threw it away, didn’t you!?!

My husband (staring blankly at the computer): I didn’t touch anything. I swear.

Me (now dumping the contents of bag after bag on the floor): Then, why is it gone? You just throw things away. That’s what you do. You’re trying to sabotage me!

My husband (still staring blankly at the computer): Did you try downstairs? Or in the bedroom?

Me (splayed out in a pile of felt, ribbon, buttons and despair): Yes, of course I checked.

My husband (now pushing a pile of fabric strips to the other side of couch and flicking on the TV): Well, go buy some more.

Me (bolting upright): And admit defeat! I won’t do it. I will find those scraps of tulle if I have dig through the dumpster!

My husband (shrugging): What do you want to watch tonight?

Me (walking into the bedroom to resume my search): Uh, never mind, found it. He he. It was stuffed behind a fake plant.

Then after my last day of work (woo hoo!), I went into full strategizing/crafting mode. I assigned priorities, duties, and command posts.

There were a couple glitches, but overall I think it turned out pretty awesome. Here are some pics:

Shower overview

The chair décor was made with fabric cut into 1 to 1 ½ inch strips and then sewn with a running stitch, leaving two loops on either end–I knew how the chairs would look before I started these, so I had an idea of how I would attach them. Various size tulle poms were taped to the top of the tent using fishing wire and clear duct tape.

table

table close up

We had mismatched plates on the table that my aunt was very kind to donate. For the flower vases, I wrapped old soup cans in thin scrapbook paper and embellished some with ribbon and buttons.Then, I used scraps of the same paper as cards for the guests to write their well wishes, etc. Lastly, the napkin rings were made from yarn poms. These are essentially the same concept as the tulle balls, you just wrap the yarn around a fork instead of a larger item like cutting board or large book. Then I tied a longer piece of yarn around the center of the pom, so that I now had two long strands that I could tie around the napkins after they were rolled.

bags

boxes

felt flowers

For the serving tables, I wrapped plain white gift boxes in ribbon and mixed this with cute gift bags stuffed with tissue paper. I also scattered some Scrabble tile words around along with some felt flowers.

photo booth

This was our photo booth (and we used it for the backdrop as the bride-to-be opened presents). I made bunting and rosettes using the same pack of scrapbook paper. For props, I made flower headbands and also a cowboy hat with a veil. The cowboy hat was easy. I just found a cheap hat at a party store, got a few yards of tulle, wrapped the tulle around the hat and tied a not in the back. Other props included: flowery dishwashing gloves you can sort of see in the picture below, an apron, broom, some mixing bowls, tea pot, big sunglasses, boas, masks, pinweels, and those big nose/fake mustache glasses.

Here are a couple pics of us enjoying the party:

The girls

Doting on Lindsay

We had a few people hang out after the shower (a shower isn’t a shower without an after-party) and in case you’re wondering, this is what one of my beautiful tables looked like the next day:

day after

Of course, now that the party’s over I’ll have to focus on why I quit my job in the first place–my novel. I’ve been doing some webinars and working on this author platform thingy everyone is talking about. I mean you can’t subsist on Pinterest crafts alone.