Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"GIVE IT AWAY" Therapy...otherwise known as cleaning out your closet

For the entire month of January, I've been sorting through my by room, stuffed closet to stuffed closet and through every hidden nook.  I'm sure most of you have been there.  If you haven't, then you've either a. never moved or b. are extremely good at being "minimal".  Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of clutter or holding onto things.  I grew up in that house.  Trust me, I'm not a fan.  However, after a few years of being in the same place you just, sort of, accumulate things.  After going through most areas of my house, I was totally feeling it...the therapeutic high of getting rid of junk I don't want!!!  Until I got to my closet...

I fall into your classic "but I might wear this sometime" category...or "I forgot I had this"...or, my favorite, "awww, I remember when I got this".  Yup...all crappy excuses.  Seriously ladies, if you're at all like me, we gotta cut the crap and be honest with ourselves.  There is no point in hanging on to all that stuff!  (Especially when all that stuff ends up filling a very large walk in closet).  To better tackle this task, I am choosing to break it into 3 stages.

The Strategy

  1. Quick sort: go through every piece of that closet (bags, belts, clothes, shoes, etc) at a relatively fast pace.  Make quick decisions of yes or no.  Then take the no stuff away.  My donation place of choice: Salt&Light
  2. Moderate sort: go through the remaining pieces and pull out items that do not fit.  This includes pieces that technically "fit", but just don't look right.  This probably seems like a "duh" step, right?  However, if you've lost a decent amount of weight, like myself, then it's not always so easy.  There is that weird evil voice in your head that says "you better keep that bigger size just in case".  I know, it's dumb.  But it takes awhile to beat that voice into submission...and to muster the stones to get rid of those clothes. You always end up keeping those few pieces...
    1. Sub-Step: If it doesn't fit quite right, could it be tailored?  If yes, is it WORTH tailoring?  In this age of cheap clothing, some pieces just aren't worth the $ to tailor.  Likewise, I have to really love it to go through the process of having it tailored or doing it myself.  (yes, I have a sewing machine and YES I know how to use it)
  3. Hard-core sort: go through what remains and rationalize the usefulness of each piece.  Where does it fit into my style now?  Or does it?  How often do I wear this?  Do I feel good when I wear it?  (sidenote: this can include schlumpy tshirts and sweats)  And the weird one...How many do I own that are the same or very very similar?  I used to be the girl that would find a piece that fits and buy it in every color.  I thought I was being practical, but I was left with a wardrobe that just didn't excite me.  Two in different colors=acceptable...Three or more in different colors=boring.  For me.  The exception to this is probably dress pants and button down shirts because great fitting ones are hard to find!  At least they are for this chic...
So that's the plan folks!!  I've done #1 a few times over the past 2 years, but always got stuck when I moved to #2.  I blame it on the evil voice...

All this sorting is really brought on by two factors: I need to downsize (for reasons that will remain private for now) AND I need to further define my wardrobe and "style".  I've had way too many mornings in the past that start with me standing in my closet thinking "I don't want to wear any of this".  I'd end up feeling frumpy, lumpy and dumpy...a depressing trio.  Now that I feel better about myself on a personal and physical level, those mornings have changed to an occasional "why would I wear this??".  Hence the need to further define my style as I am NOW!  It's a work in progress, but I'm giving it a violent shove into def con 5.

One last tip: just because it's on sale, doesn't mean it's a good buy!!!!!  I need this printed and laminated on a card to keep in my wallet...

Fashion Blogs  

In general, I'm not a huge fan of fashion blogs.  I find alot of them very unapproachable and unrealistic...and too "look at me, look at me".  Who changes their bag, nail polish, etc every single day??  Not this time for that of focus!  BUT, I have a found a few that I enjoy following because they are actually useful.

  • Putting Me Together  Audrey is in process of doing something similar to what I am.  She's trying to define and refine her style.  She's got some great tips on how to wear one piece many different ways, shopping tips, ideas for revamping pieces you probably already have, etc.  This particular entry on mistakes was so spot on that it had me wondering if we were somehow linked...
  • The Small Things Blog  Kate is probably one of the first blogs I followed and it all started with pinterest!  She has a style that, in my opinion, mixes pretty with casual in a very grown up way.  I can relate.  I'm 31, so I don't really want to wear things that make me look like I'm 21...been there, done that.  Likewise, I don't want to dress 41!!!  Let's not go there.  She also has some awesome hair tutorials; I've tried a few.  They're great for adding a little variety.  Who wants to look the same every day?!?!
  • Hems for Her  Katie is pretty great at addressing those feminine curves!  It can be a challenge for those of us who are, ummm, well endowed.  Belts in the wrong size or wrong spot can emphasize rather than flatter...the same goes for necklines, lengths, etc.  Alot of us just say "forget it! I can't wear belts".  Katie has some great ways to pull things together and show that you's just about knowing how.
Other than that, I can officially say I'm addicted to pinterest!!  I'm a pinning machine at times :-/  BUT it is a great place to get inspirations for alot of things.  Just take my advice and don't get too set on things being perfect...they are just ideas, suggestions, etc.  Make it your own!  If you're not having fun doing it, then stop doing it!  Or at least fail so extravagantly that you can't help but laugh.

Closing thoughts

Go donate!!!  It's seriously therapeutic.  There are alot of great places out there (other than goodwill) that you can donate your items depending on what they are.

Happy sorting!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY: Cork Coasters using Mod Podge

Mod Podge is all over the place these days in the DIY world!  I've used it before to seal a puzzle, but was interested in trying it for something else...maybe something slightly more useful.  With that I give you...Cork Coasters using Mod Podge!  (a tutorial so easy you can watch some crummy reality TV while doing it!)

What you'll need:

  • Cork Coasters.  You can buy these in a pack at Hobby Lobby or similar craft store.  You could also buy a chunk of cork board and cut out shapes yourself if you're feeling ambitious or especially creative!  Other options: square tiles, glass tiles, etc.  You could probably use many different things...I was just looking for something that had non-skid qualities built into it.  For things like tile, you could add felt or little rubber feet to the back.
  • Mod Podge: I picked up the gloss.
  • Xacto knife: or similar.
  • Craft Brushes
  • Cutting mat
  • Water resistant, Clear Acrylic Spray.  You can get this at the craft store also.
  • Finally...Whatever image you want on those coasters!  The person I was making these for has a thing for penguins...don't judge, it's cute.  I used an old calendar.  You could use photographs, magazines, comic books, books, craft paper, etc.  I don't know how well your typical computer printed image works, but if someone tries it, let me know!!

What you'll do:

  1. Choose your images.  Get creative and select interesting shots!  *Tip: cut the excess from around the image you want to minimize the extra paper you deal with.  
  2. Add a thin layer of your Mod Podge to the cork coaster and adhere it to the back of the image.  I held mine up to the light so I could get it exactly where I wanted it.  *A side note: you can also cut your image out before attaching.  However, I decided it would be easier to cut them out after so I could just trace the outside of the coaster.
  3. Stack them up.  Put a heavy book on top and let them dry for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Trim (if you didn't cut previously).
  5. Apply at least two more layers of Mod Podge.  Let them dry about 15 minutes between coats and make sure you hit the edges.  It dries clear, but will leave some brush marks depending on your application.  Mine curled up a little (cork if flexible!) but they flattened out on their own.  No worries.
  6. Let your final coat of Mod Podge dry for at least and hour...more if you can.  Add your clear acrylic spray.  I did 4 thin coats, making sure to hit the sides, because I wanted to be sure these bad boys were water resistant.  Let dry about 20 minutes or more between coats.  
  7. When you're 100 %, let them dry really well before using them.  I let mine sit for 12+ hours.  *A side note: as with any other wet medium, it takes longer to dry in cool or hot areas.  Adjust accordingly.

Step 1

Step 4

Step 5

The final product!  Shiny, waterproof, and cute!

 All in all, this project cost me about $12.  The Mod Podge and acrylic were the two more expensive items.  However, now that I have them, I could easily make more coasters for super cheap :)  With some parental guidance, you could do this with kids.  How cute would that be for a gift to grandparents!?!?

I also made puzzle magnets.

Get creative and see what is around your house that you could be spontaneous with!  You can use these same steps to make magnets, add images to an old tray to give it new life, a pot for interior house plants, etc.  The options extend as far as your creative mind will go!!  Have fun :)

Shared on: House of Hepworths

Friday, January 11, 2013

Rebel Experiments...take 1

Everyone loves taking pictures, right??  Of course you do...don't lie.  What varies from person to person is their choice of subject.  There are photographers that almost exclusively shoot people; likewise, there are people (like myself) that don't ever seem pleased with those pictures.  Generally speaking, I prefer my subjects to not talk back.  Being in architecture, most people would assume my subject of choice would be buildings.  Lame guess people!  More and more I find my interest lies somewhere between the macro world and the landscape world.  I fully realize this is a pretty broad range, but it really varies for me based on where I am and how I'm feeling.  Of course, right now I only do photography for who cares.  Someday I hope to branch it out, but we'll see.  As i've been told too many times to count..."you have too many hobbies".  To that I say POPPYCOCK!

As most budding photography hobbyists do, I decided I really wanted a DSLR.  That, however, was a chunk of change that I just didn't have--no way, no shape.  Lucky me (and I mean uber lucky), my beau pays attention to my many ramblings and thoughts that start with "It would be really cool if I could...".  As a side note, a man that listens AND remembers is still shocking to me.  For my birthday last year, I received my wish in the form of a Canon Rebel T3i.  He is A-mazing.  Happy Birthday to me!!!  I call her "Rebel".  Creative, right?  With just shy of a year under our "together" belts, I'm convinced now more than ever that he is my good karma reward.

For those just starting with a DSLR, here are some tips:

  1. I highly recommend the book DSLR for Dummies.  It's huge...but it explains things in a way even a beginner can understand.  AND it has pictures--bonus!
  2. Take pictures of everything!  Don't get frustrated if they aren't what you's all a process of learning.
  3. Don't be scared of the different settings.  Try them all.
  4. Learn about light!!  (read the book)
  5. Buy a good bag for yourself.  After all, it's expensive equipment!  I got a Tamrac and love it.  It's the perfect size for a beginner and the sling is super convenient.
  6. Ask around.  Talk to friends that are photographers...get tips...ask questions.
  7. DON'T go crazy and buy 5 different lenses!  Holy Moly.  Get a basic 18-55mm or similar and work with that one until you understand what your camera can do AND what you want from it.
  8. Last...don't be afraid to look dumb.  No matter what, you're going to look silly squatting inches from that crazy twig...or leaning out over an outcropping of rocks to capture that water drip.  Deal with it...embrace it.

On to a series I call Rebel Experiments!  This is my version of somewhere between macro and landscape...with a few randoms thrown in either direction.

Grrrr...angry driftwood.
The best "release your frustration" tool.  Period.

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm your huckleberry...

I have a confession...this post has nothing to do with huckleberries.  Or any type of fruit really (not that I'm even sure what a huckleberry is).  How I got to the topic of today's post is a small journey...jump aboard my  "train of thought"!!

If you can name the movie that title is from, then major points to you!!  You are officially cool.  For those not as awesome, it's from Tombstone (only my favorite depiction of Doc Holiday...ever).  Last night, while watching this movie, I was intrigued by the character of Mattie who, from what she tells her husband, suffers from migraines.  Her treatment of choice: Laudanum.  As a migraine sufferer myself, I was curious as to what this was.  According to wikipedia, "also known as Tincture of Opium, is an alcoholic herbal preparation containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine).[1] It is reddish-brown in colour and tastes extremely bitter. Laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. A potent narcotic by virtue of its high morphine concentration, laudanum was historically used to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic and cough suppressant. Until the early 20th century, laudanum was sold without a prescription and was a constituent of many patent medicines."  

This doesn't exactly sound like the best route to treating migraines, but then again, I don't know what options were back then.  As a migraine sufferer, I CAN say that when you have a bad one, you're willing to try just about anything.  It's rumored that, while suffering from a particularly severe migraine, Van Gogh cut off his ear in a desperate attempt at relief.  (I'm aware there are a ton of theories out there btw).  Let's just say, during some of my worst migraines, I've understood where he might have been coming from with that choice.  Desperate.  

*an odd tidbit: Van Gogh is my favorite artist and has been since grade school.  Van Gogh is a fellow migraine sufferer (which I didn't know until high school).  Many have said that if it had not been for his migraines, he would not have seen the "auras" that produced such famous paintings as Starry Night.  Ironically, this is also my favorite work of his...creepy.

Other famous sufferers: Louis Carroll (maybe the white rabbits were talking to him while recovering from a migraine), Elvis Presley (who popped alot of pills as we know), and Julius Caesar (who is noted as having epilepsy as well as migraines).

I once had a co-worker say (after I returned from a missed day of work due to a migraine), "I'm not sure if I've ever had a migraine.  Are they that bad?".  Really??  If you're "not sure", then you most certainly have not!!  You'd know.  Trust me.  For all you migraine suffers, you know exactly what I'm talking about.  And you understand how hard it was for me to not slap her right then and there...

Everyone has their own treatments and things that work.  I thought I'd share some of mine...maybe they'll be useful to someone else!  My migraines are hereditary (thanks mom & dad), but if you can figure out your triggers and learn what works for you, you're that much closer to being an "occasional sufferer" rather than "frequent sufferer".
  1. Keep a diary.  This is crucial to tracking down your triggers.  Sometimes they are weird.  One of mine is too much marinara or tomato sauce.  For ladies, it can relate to your cycle.
  2. Ice and heat.  Ice packs, hot packs, etc.  Keep them around.  Many of my headaches link to neck and shoulder pain; if I can alleviate their pain, many times the migraine will lessen it's hold on me.  Ice is great if you can tell it's swollen or inflamed.  Heat is good for relaxing.  My hot pack is one that you microwave and lay across your shoulders and upper back.  Lifesaver.
  3. Learn what medications (otc or other) work for you...or don't work for you.  It really is trial and error sometimes.  I personally have Imitrex for the really beastly ones...but I try to use ibuprofen + heat/ice + other options before I resort to Imitrex. 
  4. Caffeine.
  5. Water.
  6. De-stressing.
  7. Pressure points.  If you don't know much about them, there are some great websites!!  Go look.  I use what you see below as soon as I can feel a headache coming on that feels like "more than a headache".  My grandma showed me this when I was little.  I still use it today.  As a side note, it's not supposed to feel good...
You want to find the fleshy spot right in front of where your bones meet. 
Like I said, there are a TON of things you can do to help with migraines.  I am by no means an expert; I just know some things that work for me.  Likewise, just because you are careful or do what you need to do doesn't mean they won't happen.  Sometimes they just matter what.

Do you have migraines?  If so, what do you do?

I'll close with my second favorite Doc quote..."I have not yet begun to defile myself".  Love it!!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bibbidi Bobbidi Booyah!!

I was trying to think of a creative title that had something to do with beads or baubles and all that kept popping into my head was this line from Big Bang Theory..."Bibbidi Bobbidi Booyah!".  That show gets me every time...and contains a surprising number of similarities to my life.  Go figure.  Anyway, back to the program...

Jewelry making is something I've been doing off and on since I was just a wee lass living in the thriving metropolis of Arrowsmith, IL (population 300 if you count dogs and cats).  Back then it was those weird fabric bands you could braid and manipulate.  They came in a big bag with enough colors to satisfy any 80s child.  I can't find an image, but I did just see a bag of them at Hobby Lobby last week...I was tempted.

After that phase, I moved onto the hemp bracelets.  I know all of you 90s kids remember this trend!  I braided, twisted, looped beads, attached baubles, integrated little bells, and even took custom orders.  Not too shabby for a junior high kid.

About two and a half years ago, I was looking for a calming activity...something to use up just enough of my mind that it distracts me, but not enough that it stresses me.  I had tried knitting in the past; it's not for me.  I decided to dip my toe back into the waters of jewelry making.  I started off slow, not wanting to throw a bunch of $$ into a hobby I didn't care for.  My first creations were some basic bracelets.  I coordinated my beads with care and thought about items in my closet I would actually wear them with because, honestly, what's the point of making it if you never wear it?  These were my first few bracelets (earrings followed months later).  Many more followed...some of them I still have while others have been gifted.   

Purple, smokey grey, and dark steel
Dark turquoise, wood and agate
This whole process spanned over months and was only "when I felt like it".  In the past year I've slowly started thinking of what else I could make or how to expand this hobby.  My supply was still limited; I bought only what I needed for a specific project.  In case you couldn't tell, I'm kinda a big fan of turquoise.  There wasn't anything out there I really liked...or if I did like it, I couldn't afford it.  As a result, I just made my own.  Below is a more recent set along with some random earrings. 

Turquoise & silver
Isn't that bead awesome?!?!
A random selection

Recently, I decided (or more accepted) that I really enjoy this!  I enjoy finding interesting pieces, coordinating parts, brainstorming what I can make, figuring out how to do it, and (obviously) wearing it!  Lucky for me, my guy relayed this information to his mom (a fellow creative soul)...who went hog-wild for Christmas picking out different pieces and parts!!!  Holy Moly!!  It's donkey kong!!  What will I create next...

I've learned that I need to take better pictures of my pieces if I want to actually show them off!!  Geesh lighting!!  (no judgements was late).  I have some ideas on creative ways to display them for photos...but at 11:30pm, my kitchen counter sufficed.

What kind of calming activity do you do?  (If you say meditate, I'll slap you through this computer screen).  Do you like turquoise?  If no, then why the heck not?!?!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's a New Year...where's my confetti??

If you look at my profile, it says I started this blog April of 2012... and I'm just now doing my first entry.  Epic FAIL of blogger proportions.  Its my first blog though...cut me some slack!
BTW, I'm starting this blog on my new nexus 7 (insert your admiration here)...thanks to a fabulous Curt Binder!!  Pretty freakin' amazing...but I'm still getting the hang of it, so please forgive any weird typos.
One off my resolutions (although I prefer to call them "goals") is to start this blog.  Let's call that check #1 off the resolution list.  BOOM.
My thought is that by listing my goals here, someone might keep me in check.  Make sense to me!  So with no further adieu...
- start my blog (check!)
- run at least 3 events
- beat my 5k personal best
- take all 6 of my remaining ARE exams
- devote at least 1 hour a month to furthering my photography
- practice positivity in the face of negativity
Stay tuned...