Changes

Okay, so a lot has happened since I last posted.  In fact, when did I last post?  August?  Yes, August.  Ugh!

I have two big items going on. Well, maybe three.  I opened an etsy store, Beads on a Wire Designs.  I have bracelets, badge holders, and some resale yarn for sale there.

I have had one online job for transcribing, which I quit doing because I just can’t transcribe fast enough to make that work. I almost started another online job as an editor for non-english writers of technical papers, which I decided was not for me either.  So, now, I’ve applied for three actual, physical jobs that are local.  I decided the bills are just too much to not at least try and get a job.

Last of all, I have ambitions to start a craft magazine and I am putting together some projects and taking some pictures to put together the How-to’s for these crafts.  My intention for the magazine would be having a variety of crafts with the idea of introducing readers to new crafts. The pictures and projects would look clean and well-made, so the majority of projects will need to be easy to achieve well-made results.

Simple jewelry ideas would include the bracelets I have in my etsy shop and a simple earring made by wrapping wire around a pill bottle.

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I also want to make necklaces to hold badges that look more like  necklaces than a lanyard. The current badge holders I make just cover a badge reel, which is illustrated below with green piggy serving as a model.

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I’m still learning the best way to put these badges together, so some are a little wonky right now.

My daughter asked for a mega stitch afghan for Christmas.  So, that started me thinking about super size yarn knitting.

Let me make an aside comment here:  knitting a sweater or afghan is time consuming.  I don’t know how many hours are involved in making the average sweater, but in general its weeks if not months (I usually take several hours a week over the course of 6 months or more to make a sweater). Even knitting a hat or other small item takes hours of actual knitting. This makes knitting for money a questionable pursuit. But supersize knitting makes these things doable in a decent amount of time.

So, I made needles and I found yarn for a decent price (Premier Couture Jazz):

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As you can (maybe) see, the needles are made from PVC pipe.  The tips are made from heavy paper and paper stuffing (recycled junk mail)

I’m experimenting with Tunisian crochet and other yarns, Red Heart Boutique Irresistible. That’s my small iphone to show scale.  I’m thinking about a shawl, but that might be knit, since crochet uses so much yarn.

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Finally, I am looking at covering stools I bought at a thrift store with a knitted yarn cover. I bought upholstery foam and its been cut to fit the one stool.

So, okay, I guess that covers a lot.  I should have split this into many posts, but well this is what I can do right now.

Hopefully more to come, but I will likely start a separate website for the ‘magazine’ posts. Eventually, I’d like to do a print magazine, but right now I don’t have the capital to support that.

Let’s talk about Hotel rooms

On my recent 3 day trip to Colorado (and the corresponding 3 day trip back), I stayed in a lot of hotels; 5 to be exact.  By the time we got to hotel number 3, I had a mini list of what makes a good hotel.

First, you need to assume that the place is clean and nothing is broken.  That is sort of a given for me at the amount of money I am paying.  So here’s the list:

  • Electrical outlets.  We need a lot of them.  Particularly at the bedside since we might be reading ebooks before falling asleep.
  • Bigger vanity space. When you travel with family and it includes more than one adult or children above the age of say 10, you all have your own cosmetic bag or Dopp kit. A lot of hotels have a pretty small surface for all of that.
  • Bathroom fan.  Most bathrooms have a fan.  Lots of them are broken or just don’t work well.  With even 2 people, you can end trying to put on antiperspirant in a muggy bathroom.

On the trip back, we tried to stop at the Courtyard Marriott in Blue Spring, Missouri again, but they only had deluxe rooms left.  How sorry I am that I didn’t at least ask the price on that deluxe room.  They were busy and had a rowdy group in the lobby and we were tired, so we drove on to another hotel, in the rain.

In retrospect, the other hotel probably met the minimum requirement of clean.  But, it was a bit of a mess.  They had a dark decor, which felt to me like it might be hiding something.  The blue ceiling made the whole room seem dark.

 

Also, the bathroom counter was very low.  Okay, I’m about 5’3″ and my arms are typical length for my height.  This dress is shapeless (but very comfortable…) so you can’t see, but the counter is hitting me at about crotch height.  Very low!!  Yes, I did consider that maybe it was intended as a wheelchair access room.  But, actually, wheelchair counters are higher.  Plus, the hall getting to the bathroom was too narrow anyway.

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Additionally, this room was a little had worn.  The sheets had spots that were threadbare and the shade on the lamp in the corner was broken.

The whole thing looked better in the morning.  But still a inferior hotel especially considering it cost the same as the other Courtyard had less than a week earlier.  But then hotel prices are all about supply and demand.

Dropping the Last Child off

For those of you unfamiliar, its a 3 day drive from Maryland on the east coast to Colorado in the Mountainous west. You can do it in fewer days if you want to drive more than 8-9 hours a day since its about 25 hours total driving time alone

I drove out with my daughter and then my husband flew out to help me drive home.  It was a beautiful trip, but long, long, long.

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Both ways, we stopped in Kentucky to see my other daughter, Sam.  She is a Kindergarten Teacher in Kentucky and just started her first real job. I’ve been to Lexington several times and I’ve gotten to a point where I’m pretty comfortable there and I sort of know where things are. (Thank you to all those GPS systems/apps for making me dependent on you to get places!)

Beth is vegan and picked out our restaurants on the way out. We went to an excellent vegetarian restaurant the second night in St. Louis, Small Batch, St. Louis. Let me tell you, I love driving through cities as they unfold from the highway in daylight or, especially, at night with the lights on.  St. Louis, from the east is beautiful.  You get these glimpses of the Gateway Arch and then a more full view of it as you approach from the east side of the Mississippi river.

Now, its been a long time since I’ve gone anywhere without a hotel reservation. On the second night I pulled off the highway near Kansas City, Missouri and walked into a Courtyard Marriott. They had vacancies and it was a really nice place.  Okay, maybe I would have re-arranged a few things, but it was very nice.  We got up the next morning and picked up breakfast in a vegan bakery in Kansas city, Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffee.  Who knew, but Kansas City is a hot bed of vegetarian and vegan options.  Anyway, the bakery was great and we got a no-bake cookie, a scone, and a fabulous s’mores mini bundt cake.

Okay, from then on the trip sucked.  We took I70 through Kansas and it was booorrring.  I’m sorry Kansas, but after you get about an hour west of Kansas city, there is nothing.  It’s miles and miles of fields, barns, and wind farms.  It was kind of brutal. However, we did see a wonderful rainbow on the way back.  Right before we entered the torrential rain zone that followed us for the rest of the night.

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When we crossed into Colorado on day 3, Beth was more than done.  It seemed like it was taking forever and she was losing her patience.  But, I began to notice these flowers at the side of the road.  They look like little sunflowers.

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We finally made it to Boulder after sunset on day 3.  We actually stayed in Louisville, Colorado, just southeast of Boulder.  We got up on move in day and went to Pearl street in Boulder.  Pearl street is a multi-block pedestrian only mall that includes centuries old buildings, the old courthouse, and street performers.  One night we were there they had a fire-eater perched on top of 4 or 5 chairs talking to a small crowd watching him.

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A few days later, I was on my way back.  It was about 3 hours to the Kansas border, where we got sent off the highway for some issue (never did find out what was wrong on the highway).  We found a small bar, but didn’t stop.  Did you know there is a small town at the border called Kanorado, Kansas? (The bar is in Burlington, Colorado, I think)

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So, as I said, Kansas is a boring drive and we ran into rain the second day.  But, we saw wind farms.windfarm croppedAnd some beautiful clouds.

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And soon, we were back home in Maryland.

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Okay, this is Sideling Hill in western Maryland, which is still like 90 minutes from home.  But, its all down hill from there.  So, we’re good.

 

 

Long time no Posts

Yeah, I haven’t been posting.  Sorry.  I’ve been looking for a job.  A little bit.

I made some bracelets (see below, not necklaces, but triple wrap bracelets).  I’ve made some silicone molds (they’re not pretty and I won’t show them to you.)  Some of those molds I used for epoxy resin.  I am working on a sculpture using a tree branch and vacuum tubes set in epoxy.  I’ll take some pictures of those things for s future post.

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And, I’ve been considering seeing a dietician to help me with a FODMAP diet for my GI issues.  I’ve been having a resurgence of my IBS problems lately, so…  Its an elimination diet to address certain sugars.  FODMAP stands for Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols.  Yeah, say that 5 times fast.  Its kind of complicated.  Thus, the need for a dietician.

Of the 3 books I now own and the several websites I’ve been to, pretty much every single one has a slight difference in the list of yes and no foods.  Another reason for a dietician.  But, I need resolve myself to the cost or spend some time trying to see if I can get insurance to cover it.  Good stuff!!

Anyway, I am still trying to figure out where to go next with my life.  I’m considering opening an ETSY shop.  No decisions yet, though.

 

When Life is Stressfull

I’m tired.  In fact, I’ve been exhausted.

I’ve been busy.  You’ve seen my soap.  I’m also working on carving wood with the idea of using wood as a negative for a soap stamp.  And I’m doing some things with polymer clay that I have always planned to do:  mokume gane, making canes, etc.

I must say that my biggest issue this past week was feeling I am not very focused.  This leads to wondering if I can make a go out of anything when I am not directing my energy into one single pursuit.

I have to say, I’ve also done a smattering of other things, like looking at poetry including several poetry publications, discussing children’s book illustrations, and knitting.  So, yeah, headed off in like 5- 10 different directions.

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For the past week or so, I’ve had plans for Superbowl Sunday.  Its been awhile since I’ve made a good meal and football is the best excuse to eat snacks.  However, back in the fall, we gorged ourselves on a very excellent purchased meal of barbecue during a football game.  It didn’t go well.  While the food was fabulous, it was too much fat and salt and calories and we were miserable.  So, I made plans ahead of time to make good, tasty food for us for this Sunday.

The short of that is: I was on my feet for about 2 hours in the kitchen chopping tomatoes for salsa and making turkey meatballs.  This does not seem like a long time, but its long for me to be on my feet.  Standing.  It didn’t seem so bad until I sat down before I made the second batch of meatballs.

 

But, its not so much the fact that I hurt after standing so long.  What threw me off was the fact that I slept a full night Saturday and still felt tired on Sunday.  And there it is: My reminder that I am not my normal self.

I am afraid that if I push myself too far, I will take days to recover.  I can’t commit myself to a job.  I can’t commit myself to starting a business (selling soap–a passing thought) because I don’t know what will push me to far and leave me exhausted again.

Maybe my prime thoughts should be to test myself.  Instead of living in fear of what I don’t know.

 

 

Aside (as long as I was in the kitchen):  Poor Sarah, my cat keeps taking her clothes off.

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Keeping Busy II

So, my last post describes my soap making adventures after losing my dog, Tucker, and during the East coast Blizzard 2016.  This one continues that story.

Now we get to Tuesday, Day 5 of Snow captivity.  My daughter was going nuts and, thankfully, some friends came by to pick her up.  I have to check the car in back, but we appear to have been dug out back there.  FINALLY!

Its beautiful, but it makes it hard to leave your house, especially here in the Washington, DC area where our resources for snow removal are a little limited since we can go multiple winters with no appreciable snow.  The following picture is our back street (which was not plowed as of Monday night).  Yes, that is a street about 3 feet beyond the mailbox.

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Monday night (Day 4) and my daughter was done with this the day it started.  She was ready to be able to get out again and, truthfully, it seemed like everyone was dug out around us except for us.  Last night we found a Chinese restaurant willing to deliver to us after trying 3 different places.  That helped some.  However, they wanted cash and I said sure and then realized I needed to run out and get more money.  I walked to the bank (2 blocks or so) and found nothing open there.  But I was able to buy some fruit at the grocery store (same strip mall) and get cash.  They delivered while I was gone!!

At some point that night I started feeling a need to do something other than dishes and laundry.  I really really wanted to try another technique, like the Galaxy Clyde Slide or the Monarch Butterfly Swirl, both from Soap Queen (and Clyde Yoshida of Vibrant Soaps).  But, I decided to master the spin technique first and make sure that my slab mold was tight enough to hold the thin soap batter.

I played around with combining colors and scents on Monday night and prepped the oils and lye water.  I made a blue purple, a red violet, and a teal.  I mixed a little red into the base soap to make a light pink/rose.

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Being as I can’t leave things alone, I saved some soap for the top.  I dripped these leftovers on after I did the spin, which kind of ruined the effect of the spin.  BUT, it worked the way it was SUPPOSED TO and I am so excited.

I have 2 lessons from this pour.   First, leave well enough alone and put any extra into little silicone molds so as to not ruin what you’ve done.  Second, while I can premix dry pigments in a sunflower oil in small plastic cups the night before, this is not good with fragrance or essential oils.  I came into the kitchen Tuesday morning to the beautiful smell of a Jasmine blend.  It took me a few minutes, but eventually I noticed that the oil mix was all over my counter and a ring around the bottom of the cup had dissolved into a sticky white goo.  So, I may want to stick with glass for anything I mix together the night before.

I really have enough soap for now.  I aught to wait for time to pass to make sure it will not all be done curing at the same time (not that that will necessarily happen).  However, I am getting more supplies soon, so we’ll see if I can hold out.  I thought it would be the boutique oil recipes that would keep me coming back, but its the colors and swirl patterns that are making me want to make more.  It reminds me a bit of making tie-die shirts.  You’re never quite sure what it will look like until you un-mold it.  I love that aspect.

 

I Lost a Friend

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Just about a week before our crazy snow storm, we had to put down one of our two dogs. Tucker had cancer of the lining of the spleen.  This cancer is unfortunately difficult to cure and we decided not to put him through surgery and chemo when his chances of recovery were very, very small.  Its also non-symptomatic until it grows enough to interfere with other organs in the abdomen.  At the beginning of December, he was not attacking his food with his usual enthusiasm, but it was also coming off as being distracted.  He was eating less and less and beginning to get lethargic and thats when we took him to the vet.

I feel guilty for not taking him sooner, but I’m not sure it would have mattered.  We might have caught it early enough to have a better chance of success with the operation and chemo.  However, my impression is that by the time its detectable, the odds are pretty low.  Besides, at this point, I can’t focus on what might have been.  We’ve spent the time since his death alternately crying/talking about him and trying to occupy ourselves and his sister, Molly.  We have spent a lot more time with Molly, like nearly every minute for the first few days.  The time spent with her has been beneficial for all of us.

So, I had to write a poem about him:

 

Tucker

So, this is it

Sudden and abrupt

One day you are listless

The next we know

Its cancer

And we are saying

Goodbye my friend

 

Two weeks ago

I wondered why you

Weren’t racing to

Finish your food

Two weeks ago

You were normal

Stealing things

Off the counter

Chasing your sister

Around the yard

Pulling on your leash

To catch up

 

At home

I see your sister

And she reminds me

Those same brown eyes

Same short eyelashes

That I looked at

As I said goodbye

Tried to memorize

Your face

Felt the lost muscle

In your legs

How big the mass

In your belly was

 

At home is Molly

She looks like you

Her color whiter

But the same fur

Same way of

Putting her paws

On the counter

My heart stops

I wanna cry but

She is my baby too

 

 

Now you’re gone

She makes this cry

I’ve never heard before

She wants us with her

She’s lonely

Your human family cries too

And we talk about

Our memories

How you let Molly

Do the barking

And crate opening

But you were faster

At catching ice cubes

 

We love you

We miss you

We will always miss you