Monday, April 25, 2016

Wall-Staring and Thoughts: A How I'm Feeling Post

Recently I've been having a few up and down days.  They're more up than down, but the down bits are tending to be heavy.  What is happening is I'll be feeling productive and getting stuff done, and then randomly I feel like I'm dragging weights through a swimming pool and just want to sit or lie down.  A couple times I've literally caught myself staring blankly at the walls.  Who does that?!? Anywho, the whole reason I'm writing this right now is because I feel myself sliding into a wall-staring sesh. 

I think I'm having one of those moments where my desires to do something and do nothing are equal.  Making me feel... jittery.  Not fun. 

So... I don't think I have anything else to say.  I am going to do a Bible journal entry.  Oh! I finished reading Ecclesiastes this morning.  Hallelujah!!!!!  That book was rough.  The main idea I got, "Everything is meaningless because, good or bad, everyone will die.  Every day is a gift from God so enjoy your life and work because this life is all you get." 

Takes a bit of wind outta your sails huh?  By the time I got halfway through the book, I was just ready to skip the rest.  I'm glad I didn't because, chapter 10 picked up with more bits of wisdom (sorta like Proverbs).  Then I just powered through the rest, switching between the English Standard Version and Message Bible.  So I'm gonna go do some artsy Bible stuff now. 

It's interesting how my moods ebb and flow.  I think I've been writing on this for 30 mins or so and at the beginning I was quite blah... but now I feel a bit better.  Funny how that works.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Garden Update: New Babies!

Last year I started a herb & veggie garden for my 30 Before 30 list.  I had lots of seed sprouts at the beginning but by the end of the spring/mid summer, I only had basil, chinese plum, cucumber, and beans left.  We ate the beans one Sabbath... all 5 of them lol.

chinese plum, loquat plant, container garden, black girls garden, vegetable garden, herb garden

Of the original garden, only the basil and chinese plum have survived the year.  The basil has actually blossomed a few times and produced seeds, which I planted.  The cool thing about the second generation basil plant was the leaves were much wider than the original.  I wonder why that is... Anywho, I have since re-potted all the basil plants together in one big pot - I have this dream of cultivating a big basil bush.  That would be awesome!  Oh, and the second gen basil plant went to seed and I dropped them in the midst of the pot.  Now I have a few THIRD GEN basil plants growing! Eeeeee!!!

basil plant, container garden, black girls garden, vegetable garden, herb garden

Now that the weather has gotten much warmer at night and early morning, I decided to start my new seedlings.  I started cucumbers, peppers, and beans from seed, and a lavender plant.  The lavender smells soo good!  I can't wait until it's larger so I can make tea and hair spritzes from it.

lavender plant, container garden, black girls garden, vegetable garden, herb garden

container garden, black girls garden, vegetable garden, herb garden

I didn't take any photos of the seed pots of the cucumbers or peppers because they haven't sprouted yet.  This pot of green beans is what I'm calling the 'green bean ball'... after I planted seeds in the started pots, I had a bunch of leftover seeds so I tossed them in the pot.  They have actually sprouted much better than the seeds in the starter pots.  Now I have to figure out how to transplant and separate them into a larger pot. Go figure.  I must say, it makes me smile every time I go out to water the garden.  I always think "Green beans, may the odds be ever in your favor!"  Hopefully, the cucumbers will sprout soon.  Hopefully, the garden will get on well.  Here's to my garden version 2.0!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Adventures in Dyeland pt. 1

One thing that I've been getting more interested in lately is hand-dyed yarn.  So many of the podcasts I watch have connected Etsy shops where they sell yarn, project bags, and other yarn crafting whatnots.  The colors of the yarn and all the different looks are absolutely jaw dropping!  And so, like the good DIY gal I am, I bought some white sock yarn, wound it into a hank on my niddy noddy, and tried my hand at dying it.

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color, things you need
::What You Need - Yarn, Vinegar, Food Color, (not pictured) Pot, Stove-top, Water::

This wasn't my first go at hand-dying. I did some back when I lived in Alabama. That yarn actually got crocheted up into a pretty striped tam.  Anyway, I used food coloring and Easter egg dye pellets this time.

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::Soaking Yarn::
how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::Dye Bath - Hot Water, Vinegar, Food Coloring::
I set the yarn to soak in water and white vinegar for a while before going into the dye pot on the stove.  The dye bath I made was a bunch of yellow food coloring.  When it got up to a simmer, I put in the yarn.  I chopped up some Easter egg pellets to sprinkle around for a 'speckled' effect, but I let the water simmer too much and ended up with a more tonal overall color.

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::In the Dye Bath::

I turned off the heat and let the yarn marinate in the pot for about an hour to soak up as much dye as possible.  Then it was wash time! I rinsed/ washed the yarn with a bit of dish soap until the water ran clear and set it out in the sun to dry.

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::Rinsing Yarn::

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::Exhausted Dye Bath::
I will confess the color isn't exactly what I saw in my head.  It came out much more orange because of the pellets.  I have a couple more skeins of white yarn to play with and I'm hoping those will be better.  I also want to try dying yarn with plants.  I think that will be a really cool adventure.

how to hand dye yarn at home with food color
::Finished Yarn::
Have you tried hand-dying anything, yarn or otherwise? I've been known to dye clothing when I get tired of them lol :). Other than my gold color, what other colors should I try?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Currently I'm...

Every so often I like to stop and make a list of the things I'm currently into/up to.  The last one I did was last September and I thought it high time to do another.  This time instead of just writing a list, I took my chalk markers and camera outside for a little fun ^.^  Enjoy!

Ta-da!  That's what I've been into/up to recently.  Lots of crafty bits, really really enjoying Hozier's music and the Pandora station that I've been creating based on him, and just feeling very good today. :)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Finally I'm Finished: The Clover Lace Tank

May I introduce to you, the Clover Lace Tank!  This was a labor of love, lemme tell you!  I think that this tank called for the smallest crochet hook I've used thus far... It's worked up with a 3.25mm hook.  Whaaat?!?!  I've always been one to stick to bigger hooks, well 5.50 and above, for my projects.  I found the smaller hooks to be quite fiddly in my hand and the tiny stitches didn't grow fast enough for me.  So when I came to the 'crochet a top' list item on my 30Before30 list I knew it was the perfect time to make that plunge.

Wide Strap Tank Maz Kwok, 30before30, red heart shimmer, shamrock, green top, diy wardrobe

Enter the Wide Strap Tank pattern by Maz Kwok.  The construction was very simple.  I used Red Heart Shimmer yarn in the Shamrock colorway from my stash.  I also used a Boye ergonomic crochet hook with a rubberized handle.  That made using the tiny hook way easier on my hand and wrist.  If you're a crocheter and haven't used any of those ergonomic hooks, you should get a Joann's coupon and buy one! 

Wide Strap Tank Maz Kwok, 30before30, red heart shimmer, shamrock, green top, diy wardrobe

The only thing that eventually got to me was going round and round with the shells on the bottom.  My goodness it got boring!  At one point I was actually falling asleep while crocheting!  I think I had gotten a couple rounds into the shells when I decided to stop and work on the Frankenshirt.  Taking that break was just what I needed, because after Frankenshirt was done, I powered through the rest of this top.

Wide Strap Tank Maz Kwok, 30before30, red heart shimmer, shamrock, green top, diy wardrobe

I made a few modifications to the pattern, nothing to change the structure, but more aesthetic changes.  Primarily, the pattern calls for relief stitches to create horizontal ribs over the upper bust part.  I didn't want them, so instead I just worked regular double crochet stitches.  I like that the change made the overall look of the top less fussy which is more in line with my style.  I also replaced the foundation chain with a foundation double crochet row.  That made the join of the back section more seamless.

Wide Strap Tank Maz Kwok, 30before30, red heart shimmer, shamrock, green top, diy wardrobe

I've worn the tank out once so far.  It wears well and it's very comfortable. If I make this top again I'd definitely narrow out the straps a bit.  Their maybe half an inch too wide for me.  I may also go up a hook size to see if I can get a more loose drape to the fabric.

Start Date: Feb 15, 2016
Finish Date: Mar 7, 2016

Thursday, April 7, 2016

30 Before 30 Update and Plan

Back in my 20s (lol) I decided to create a list of 30 things to do between my 29th and 30th birthday.  Over the span of the year, I completed quite a few of the items, actually I finished 16.  ^.^  Since I still want to complete the list, I've decided to transition my '30 Before 30' list into '30 In 30'.  That means I want to finish this list while I'm 30.  I think I'm also going to trade out some items because certain things have set me up to fail with their vagueness (ie, #20-22).  It think this list was a great idea for me and I'm considering creating a new craft related one.  We'll see. :)  So here's the update.  I've linked all the relevant blog posts and websites as well!

1. Read the Bible
    When I started out, I really thought I'd make it through the whole Bible.  Unfortunately, that plan died because I wasn't finishing enough chapters per day.  Then I realized that I didn't want to rush through... So I cut down to finishing half the Bible.  That made it a lot more pleasant.  Here are a couple of my favorite verses made into images with the Bible App.

2. Finish 20 books
    Whoop whoop!  I finished 24!  I may have also fallen in love with graphic novels ^.^  I love discovering new genres.

3. Yoga-cize regularly
    Ehh... I didn't do it regularly, but I tried.

4. Volunteer at an animal shelter
    Didn't do it

5. Do a split
    Didn't do it

6. Etsy for real
    I kept trying to make this happen, but couldn't.  I have, however, gotten lots more orders to make things.  It seems like word of mouth is the way to go for me at the present time.

7. Finish 'the quilt'
    Didn't do it.  Honestly, living in Florida doesn't give me much reason to need to really finish the quilt.  It's actually still in storage from when I moved to Florida, lol.

8. Crochet a sweater, a top, and a shawl

    Sweater: The Chevron Cardigan (I've just realized that I never shared the completed cardi! Oops!)
    Top: The Frankenshirt
    Shawl: Andromeda

9. Refinish a piece of furniture
    I created a patio furniture set from refinished thrifted chairs and a found set of small benches.  They serve us well ^.^

10. Organize a yarn-bombing
    I tried so hard to get this done. I started organizing a thanksgiving yarn-bombing but it fell through.  It will happen! I declare!

11. Make Youtube Videos

    I made two! A December Daily album share and a Lazy Natural hair tutorial.

12. See an exhibit at OMArt
    I went to see Women of Vision.

13. Blog regularly
    I'm really good at planning my posts, I'm working at being more consistent with actually posting them. lol

14. Photograph 3 downtown areas
    1. Longwood, Florida
    2. Apopka, Florida
    3. Winter Garden, Florida
    I want to continue shooting cities in the central Florida area.  I've since added Mount Dora and Orlando to my collection.  I'm excited to continue this project.
Apopka, FL

15. Do 3 photo shoots
    1. Baby Seth Newborn
    2. Baby Camden Maternity
    3. Cozier Gender Reveal

16. Do 3 photo stories
    1. One Landscape
    2. Walk With Me: Wekiwa Springs State Park
I only finished 2 stories.  I haven't shared the Walk With Me story yet, but it's coming.  I have a bunch of ideas for future photo-stories that I'm quite excited to do.  I just have to figure out how to make them happen. :)

17. Build a portfolio
    I have enough content, but I haven't curated it down yet.

18. Make sushi and macarons
    Sushi - no
    Macarons - yes

19. Plant an herb garden
    Yes.  I planted it and the epic cucumber struggle was real!  I didn't get any full grown cucumbers from those plants, but I'm going to try again!  I will not be bested by those cucumber plants!! Here is the link to all the garden posts.

20. Eat & eat well
    I don't even really know how I was suppose to do this.  I did not starve myself... I will say that I could have done better at eating a more balanced diet.  Maybe that's how I'll edit it going forward.

21. Make and keep a cleaning schedule
    I created a schedule, and then realized that it wasn't working for me.  So it kinda went by the wayside.  I have been keeping busy with trying to manage the laundry.  Not sure if laundry is EVER actually managed. Just saying.

22. Learn to play Bless the Broken Road on the guitar
    This was a nice thought, but I don't have a guitar.  So yeah... why did I do that to myself?!?

23. Hike Wekiwa Springs
    I went out on my birthday and hiked by myself.  It was a lot of fun, and I want to do it again with a group of friends.

24. Go ziplining
    Didn't do it, but I found a groupon for a good price.

25. Ride the Lake Eola paddle boats with Lamar
    Didn't do it

26. Go to Rebounderz

    We went to Air Heads for Lamar's birthday instead, which is the same thing.  It was so much fun!

27. See a show at CityArts Factory
    We went to SAK Comedy Lab instead.  It's an improv comedy club and it was really cool to experience.  Lamar wants to go again, and I think that's a great idea.

28.  Write songs for our future kids
    Didn't do it.  Occasionally, I'll have a few lines pop in my head but they never stay long enough to really become anything.

29.  Eat at 3 hole-in-the-wall restaurants
    1. one of Lamar's student's parents own an Italian restaurant, we ate there for his parent's anniversary.  I hope that sentence made sense lol!  I can't remember the name.  If I find it, I'll add it in.
    2. Zaza New Cuban Diner - A nice small restaurant with an energetic and fun atmosphere.  It was quite a pleasant place to grab a bite to eat.
    3. Wheat Berry Cafe - I had a mango smoothie with cayenne pepper... it was different, but good.  The offer vegan food and lots of different cold pressed juices and fresh smoothies.

30. Learn to juggle
    Kinda... I can complete like 3 tosses.  I will continue working!

What are some of your "bucket list items" or things you want to accomplish this year?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Fledgling Flight: I Took an Aerial Yoga Class

Recently my local yoga studio, Altamonte Springs Yoga, began offering aerial yoga.  I never thought it would be something I'd actually do - just something cool to think about and look at on instagram [Altamonte Springs Yoga on IG -here-]

One morning I woke up with a lot of aches in my hands and feet.  So I decided the best remedy would be yoga and after going through the class schedule- I picked the aerial class.  On the way in, I was so nervous!  But after talking to the instructor, Michelle, I felt a bit better.  I went into the classroom with the mindset of trying everything she said.  Go big or go home right...

And I'm so glad I did!  The first time I went upside down I couldn't stop laughing nervously ^.^ I definitely thought I was going to fall and when I didn't it felt so accomplished!

Michelle was a really good teacher and demonstrated everything a few times before she told me to try.  I also totally lucked out by being the only person in the class.  So as a super beginner, being alone with the teacher helped me not feel quite so self conscious.  Now I want to try the other aerial classes since I know I won't fall and bust my teeth out lol!

When the class was over, Michelle offered to take some pictures of me! o.O I was super excited because the whole time, I was thinking "this would be great to blog about  if only I could get pictures..."  After she took a picture says, 'OH! Let's try this pose.  It's not really a 'beginner' pose but I think you can do it!'  It's nice when the instructor believes in your fledgling aerial yoga skills ^.^  The photo below is that pose.

Altamonte Springs Yoga, Yoga University, Florida Yoga, Aerial Yoga, Beginners Aerial Yoga

I will definitely be going back to class as soon as my schedule allows!

If you're in the Orlando/Greater Orlando area and are looking for an awesome yoga studio with knowledgeable and very friendly staff, check out Altamonte Springs Yoga.  The classes range from $5 - $15.  It's totally worth it

Friday, April 1, 2016

Finally I'm Finished: The Frankenshirt

In the midst of furiously crocheting away on my wide strap tank top, I decided to start a different top in hopes of finishing it before my birthday.

I used the Textures Crochet Top pattern from  The yarn, Red Heart Boutique Magical in Top Hat along with some other black and grey skeins, came from deep in my stash.  The pattern was quite easy to follow and it did work up quickly.  I finished it the Friday after my birthday, but I'm totally counting it as my 30x30 top!  I can see myself making another of these tops in the future... although I'll use a solid sensible color next time.

This top is called the Frankenshirt because when I finished the front panel in that Top Hat yarn, the first thing I thought was it looked crazy and a bit like a monster...  the yarn was made up of roughly 5 or 6 wildly different types of fibers.  Honestly, I doubted it would get much wear at all.  But for some reason when I finished the whole shirt, I wore it and it didn't look terrible.  One of my friends said I looked like something off a runway.  But we all know some runway looks are... how do you say... gar-baaage lol.

The Frankenshirt was fun to make and I'm glad I got to use that yarn because it was just taking up space in my stash.