Friday, October 30, 2015

One Landscape: Crane's Roost Park

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story

This month I did a One Landscape photo project.  The idea is to take 10 photos of the same landscape over the span of a month.  I chose to photograph this fountain area in Crane's Roost park.  I love how the sky changes throughout the pictures.  I enjoyed taking the pictures, even though sometimes it was quite the challenge to get out there.  I'm considering continuing to photograph this area as time goes by... maybe a couple times a month or so.  They are starting some construction over there soon, that could make for interesting changes.  Anywho, here are the 10 shots of my One Landscape Project :)

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 2

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 4

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 6

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 12

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 16

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 21

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 24

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 27

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 28

photography crane's roost park altamonte springs florida photojournalism photo story
October 29

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Where Would You Go?

"You cannot step twice in the same river." -Heraclitus
Prompt: Write about all the places you's go tomorrow if you could and what you want to see when you get there.


I have always loved the idea of traveling.  I love seeing new things and different places.  When I read this prompt, I made a quick list of locations.  I'm sure I could've come up with lots more if I would've sat and did some research, but I wanted it to be spontaneous.  So here's my list of places and what I'd want to see.

  1. Jamaica - I'd want to meet Lamar's grandma and see where his family is from.  Plus I'm sure the photos would be amazing ^.^
  2. Trinidad - For the same reason as Jamaica.
  3. Museum of Modern Art - My favorite piece by Salvador Dali, the Persistence of Memory, is housed there.  I want to see it face to face paint. 
  4. China - To walk to Great Wall.
  5. Paris - To add a love lock to the Pont des Artes bridge... even though they've taken all the locks off :(
  6. Egypt - To see the Pyramids and put my feet in the Nile.
  7. Somewhere in Africa - This would be the place where my African ancestors were from... I still don't know where it is, but I like to think that if I went, I'd see someone who looks vaguely like me.
There you have it.  Seven places I'd go tomorrow if I could.  Where would you go?  What would you want to see there? Share it in the comments, I'd love to know ^.^

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Finally I'm Finished: Chunky Yellow Blanket

diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

Recently I've been seeing a lot of chunky crochet pieces throughout my Instagram feed as makers were getting their fall lines ready.  I love the look of the squishy bulky yarns and wanted to take a break from the worsted yarns I generally use.  So I pulled out a huge ball of Bernat Chunky Collegiate from Joann's clearance and worked up a giant granny square.

diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

My initial idea was four the blanket to have a lacy look to it, so I worked the whole piece with a 15mm hook.  I haven't used that hook in quite some time ^.^ There was no real plan past 'use all the yarn'... It only took me a couple days to finish.  When I got to the last row, I had to frog it 3 times and go down to a 9mm hook to get the last bits of yarn to stretch for the whole border o.O
diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

I love how lacy this blanket came out while still retaining the chunky squish I was craving!  I have 3 more skeins of the Bernat yarn in my stash and just might have another of these blankets in my future! ^.^
diy chunky yellow bernat collegiate crochet blanket afghan lapghan

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I Am Here

Self portrait at lake apopka

Last month I had the opportunity to walk around downtown Winter Garden before all the businesses opened and all the hubub began.  It was quiet and peaceful as everything was slowly waking up.  The sun had just risen and I was walking through a picturesque community towards the lake.  The trees filtered the morning sun is such a way that you can't help but see everything as beautiful. 

All at once, I had a strange realization.  I said to myself, "I am here."

It was an odd moment... in the way that deja vu is odd... feeling like you've done a thing before.  But this was the opposite.  It was a keen and clear understanding that I was physically present in that exact moment in time.  Have you ever felt like that?

I felt like I was seeing the world for the first time.  The sky, the trees, the lake.  I remembered past times when I was in the midst of depression and had to remind myself to see the beauty in these things.  And here I was.  Walking down a random Florida sidewalk.  Experiencing my life.  This was my life... is my life.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that living is good.  Especially when I hit a particularly bad downswing and I know the fight out will be hard.  In times like that I find myself just trying to keep my head above the waves... you know?  Just don't drown.  The walk to the lake that day gave me a memory to hold on to and occasionally I think about it.  It brings me a peaceful feeling.  I am here.  I am alive.  At times, life gets monstrous and terrible things happen to people I love, but we are still here.

It reminds me there is always hope that the blue skies will come back.  And we'll feel the sun again.

I can honestly say that this isn't quite where I saw this blog post going.  But hey, that's the beauty of writing.  Sometimes the words take over.  The last month or so has been rough for me.  Everything was out of place.  My emotions.  My sleeping.  I felt like I wasn't... here... Like not connected to this world.  Floating just above the surface.  Thankfully, I think I'm coming out of it now.  I feel more positive and I'm hoping it stays around for a while.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Le Macaronnage

Hi there!  Item number 18 on my 30 Before 30 List is "Make sushi & macarons." I am super excited to say I have successfully made macarons!!! [Imagine confetti explosions here!]

Diy homemade lemon cream French macaron

I bought this macaron baking kit from Michaels a while back and then checked out a book called 'Les Petits Macarons' by Kathryn Gordon from the library. I thought I was pretty well set.  Only when I started looking at the recipes, did I realize that everything was measured by weight... -__- I am not that fancy in my baking just yet! So I went online to find a YouTube tutorial that measured by volume (as you do, lol).  I found a really simple video by Honeysuckle called 'Master the French Macaron Easy Recipe'.  It went through each step and made the whole process seem quite easy.  Now, I don't know if you've heard anything about making macarons, but all I've ever heard is how super crazy hard they are to make.  Like you should expect to fail the majority of the time. So when I'm watching this video and the girl is like, "...and it's super easy..." I'm a wee bit skeptical.

On macaron making night, I gathered all my ingredients and set to whipping the living daylights out of a couple eggs.  By the way, making meringue is very satisfying. Seeing the egg whites puff up into white peaked cloudy goodness is pretty awesome I must say :)  Anywho, I followed the directions from the video and happily documented along the way.  At one point you're suppose to let the shells rest for like 15 minutes so they can harden.  I'm pretty sure mine rested for nearly a half hour and they didn't do any type of hardening!  So I just put them in the oven and hoped.

They came out flat. They looked more like vanilla wafers than proper macarons, but they were still tasty. And I was very proud.  It was at this point in the process that I realized I didn't have any plan for filling.  Everything in the macaron book seemed way more involved than I wanted to be that late at night, so I went to the fridge and cabinets to see what I could slap together.  I ended up with Nutella filled, caramel/butterscotch filled, and lemon cream cheese frosting filled. Not bad... not bad at all ^.^

Even though that first batch came out absolutely wrong, I was still very proud of myself and came to the conclusion that I had over-mixed the batter.  I took them to choir rehearsal and everyone enjoyed them, although I'm almost certain that no one else had actually ever had a proper macaron... so yeah.  They were all raving about how great the cookies were, while I was quietly mulling over my failure, lol!  A couple days later I decided to bake another batch and not mix it as much.  That was exactly the problem!  The second batch actually rested and hardened properly!  And when I took them out of the oven they all had cute little feet! *.*  I was over the moon ex-stinkin-cited!  I filled that whole batch with the leftover lemon cream cheese frosting.  They were delicious!!!!!  (Excuse my exclamation point overuse. I'm still quite happy with myself.)

All in all, I think I had a way worse expectation of how making the macarons was going to go.  I thought I was going to be frustrated and wanting to throw the mixer out the window.  But it wasn't like that at all.  I plan to do some flavored ones soon... now those may be a bit trickier, but I think I'm up for the challenge.  I just need to get that kitchen scale :)

I love the feeling of successfully doing something that you were unsure if you could actually do.  Does that make sense?  I'm proud of myself and it makes me more confident to try baking different things.  Maybe I'll even branch into actual cooking ^.^ Lamar would love that!  

Here is the video recipe I followed if you want to try your hand at macaron baking :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

DIY Lavender Bath Bombs with Recipe

Last month I purchased my first Lush bath bombs (YAY!) and like any good crafter/diy-er I set out to learn to make my own.  I watched a few videos on YouTube and read some blog posts.  After comparing the various recipes, I decided to give it a go.

The first evening I tried making these bath bombs was quite frustrating.  I mixed the ingredients according to the instructions.  and everything was going smoothly until I added the citric acid.  As soon as it went in everything turned into a fluffy expanding mess!  Not at all the dryish powder I saw in e...ver...y video. -___-   In this video you can see the mixture expanding like it's not suppose to.

At first I thought I added too much water.  So I used less in my second batch... aaaand the same thing happened. UGH!  Next I removed the coconut oil I chose to add it.  The recipe originally called for almond oil, but I subbed coconut oil... I nixed it in hopes of getting the mix right.  I still got the same results. ::throws a tantrum:: In the last batch, I swapped water for witch hazel as in one of the recipes I saw... Unfortunately, I still ended up with a soft fluffy bath bob :(


By this point I just wanted to trash everything.  Chalk it up to "can't do it" and plan my next trip to Lush.  But I'm a bit too stubborn for that.  So I went back online to do some more research.  I came to the conclusion that I was still using WAY too much water/liquid.  So instead of spritzing arbitrarily from the water bottle, like the recipe I was following said, I mixed an exact amount.

------ The Next Day ------

SUCCESS!!!!!!  That simple change was the ticket!  I added the coconut oil back in and measured the exact amount of water.  The mix came out perfectly!  I had zero trouble getting the mix into the mold.  And the bomb came out beautiful *.*

1. baking soda 2. corn starch 3. citric acid
4. water, oil, food color, essential oil 5. mix slowly 6. pack in mold

Now that I know what I did wrong, I want to make ALL DE BATH BOMBS!  I just need to decide what scents I want to get.  I'm so glad I didn't give up on this DIY. 

L-R: AvoBath from Lush, DIY fail, DIY success!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

About a Stressball

Near the beginning of the year I had a short conversation with my mother-in-law about my struggles with anxiety.  Now while I understand that anxiety is just something I deal with, and I've found various ways of working through moments, it is by NO means something I want to go into detail with my mother-in-law... Just a wee bit embarrassing. But she listened and said, "well, I'll get you a stressball."  I went away from the conversation and didn't think about it anymore.

A few weeks ago, she came up to me at church with a bag.  She said, "I know you think I forgot, but I was talking to a teacher at work who also has the same 'problem' as you.  She suggested trying these things to help."  In her gift bag was a can of cashews, coconut oil, a notepad and little box for prayers and worries, and finally a stressball.  It was so thoughtful! And of course, in true Caleisha form, I cried.

I'm pretty sure that was the moment I really believed that my in-laws love me.  It's a pretty great blessing to have in-laws that care about you and feel like family.  I mean, you always hear or see things like 'monster-in-law' and other crazy depictions of in-laws. People are always warning, "remember you're marrying the person and the family..."  I am very grateful for my new extended family.  They've been such a blessing as Lamar and I start out in this married thing :)

So yeah... This is a story about a stressball.  And it reminds me of how much more love had come into my life!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Garden Update: Caterpillars vs. Cucumbers

Once upon a time, I thought caterpillars were awesome little bugs that grew up to be butterflies.  They could teach you all kinds of life lessons about patience, transformation, and the beauty of change. 

And they are...
When they're not doing their transformations in your struggling cucumber plant!!

That's right! A Cabbage Looper Moth decided to lay a bazillion eggs in my cucumber plant one day, unbeknownst to me.  There I was, going about my normal garden business... watering, fertilizing, spraying away spider mites, when I start noticing little holes in the leaves and black sandy looking stuff everywhere.  I took a closer look and discovered little green caterpillars all over the place! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

cabbage looper caterpillars

My first order of business was to identify them and figure out how to get them gone.  I could pick and squish (ew. no.), pick and drop in soapy water (better), or spray with pesticide ($$).  I decided to go with the soapy water.  Now, I'd never seen a caterpillar infestation before, but I'm pretty sure that's what was going on.  I mean they were everywhere... eating all the leaves and pooping on everything.  My plant had even started to bear little cucumbers, but the stupid caterpillars ate them up too! UGH!

cabbage looper caterpillar garden damage

After days and days of picking caterpillars, the local lizards started hanging around and eating them.  But sadly it was too late.  My cucumber plant finally lost the battle. :(

cabbage looper caterpillar garden damage

It's really upsetting because this particular veggie has been a struggle from the beginning and I was finally making some positive strides when the loopers took their toll.  I'm planning to get a third cucumber plant and try yet again... I feel positive about this time around because with each failed plant, I'm learning new things that will help me be a more successful gardener.

Hopefully the third time is actually a charm.