Rumors of a Bead Fail Are Greatly Exaggerated

So, when last I left you, I promised to show you my bead fail.  Ah, I had such little confidence in myself!  Shame on me!

As I’ve mentioned before, my craft pursuits are usually the result of a tiny spark that leads to a stream of seemingly unrelated ideas – for instance, photography lead to image transfers that lead to art journaling that lead to portrait painting that lead to dolls.  Of course, it wasn’t such a straight line, from photography to dolls, there was sewing and sculpting along the way too, but basically, one spark lead to another.  This past weekend, after I finished up the doll, I switched to beads.  How did I get to beads?  Crochet to crochet jewelry to this class that’s starting next week   (I’m always a sucker for an earlybird special!) to a desire not to invest in any more store bought beads.  I’ve been down that jewelry hole before, you see.  Gotten all excited about beading or wire wrapping or soldering, or whatever, and then I’ve gathered my materials, made a sizeable investment, made one thing, and that was the end.  Not again, I said to myself.  Small investment, this time.  And, I stumbled on paper beads.  I invested in 2 bead rollers (a big one and a small one) from this Etsy shop, and paper marking template from this shop.  Of course, now I’ve made a $26 investment, but I’m still not paying any money for the beads, right?  Whatever, I say to myself.

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So, I marked up my paper with my template – for Pandora like, fat beads, with a large hole in the center to place a bead core, a fancy name for an eyelet.  This, frankly, was a pain in the ass, and no fun at all.  To make these beads, you have to cut three sizes of strips – one that’s the same size on both ends, a second stip,  with one end that matches the width of the first strip, and tapers in to about half the other end, and a third strip, which matches the width of the second strip on the one end, and then tapers to a point on the end.  That’s a lot of marking, cutting and rolling.

Bleh.

And, here are the four beads I finished:

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Not quite finished, I didn’t even bother to put the cores in – I was just over them.  For four beads, I had to measure and slice up 12 strips of paper!  That adds up, my friends, and with scrapbook paper, and a rotary cutter, is zero fun.

So, I thought I was done with the beads after only 4 beads, but then I went back to the youtube drawing board, and found this video – Paper Beads 101, and it all just clicked.  I don’t need to mark my paper – I can just measure on one end, cut to a point on the other.  I don’t need to use scrapbook paper – I can use magazine paper, and it’ll fit right in my Fiskar’s paper cutter.  And, I don’t need to use multiple strips for a bead, I can just use one.

With this measureless cutting technique (well, I did measure the one end to be 1/4′ but that was more about aligning the paper on the paper cutter, than measuring), I cut cut cut away my National Geographic magazine, tossed aside the big bead roller with the 5 mm hole for the eyelets, and started rolling up beads like a machine:

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These small beads are perfect for my crochet project!

Of course, then there was the glazing.  Unfortunately, even though I burned my hand on our grill (yes, the grill handle is there for a reason – don’t touch the top – oy! so stupid), I didn’t want to waste the evening, so I strung up my beads one handed, and created a makeshift drying rack out of my quilting hoop.
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Doing this one handed was quite a feat, and probably stupid – since the beads are too close together, and the Glossy Accents will probably glue them together, and then they’ll be worthless, we’ll see when I get home!  Fast and wrong.

Anyway, if you clicked on Paper Beads 101, she makes a bracelet that takes 300 beads.  When I first watched it, thinking it was the excruciating process of the big beads, I thought, holy cow, no way, but in the span of the PSU/Pitt football game, I rolled all of the above, about 150 beads, so 300 – easy peasy.

Since I didn’t do such a good job with the glazing, I think I’m going to make a ladder bracelet with these, and then start the rolling machine going again for crochet class.

For which, by the way, between my bead fail and my bead success, I purchased the class kit – so much for not buying any more store bought beads.  Although, of course, these are special vintage beads, plus charms! And a hook! And C-Lon thread!

I should have had more faith!  Hmm, but now I have the special beads and the paper beads – win win!

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My Mini-Me

Well, she took more than a weekend, but she’s done!

I managed to paint her face – with only one or two paintovers of the eyes.  I started with arcylic paints, and then I switched to pastel pencils.  The pastels didn’t blend as well as I thought they would, and, if I make another one, I think I’ll use oil pastels with a bit of water.  The next time I’ll probably make a stencil for the eyes, too, and maybe I’ll manage to get them to look symmetrical.  Processed with Snapseed.

And here she lay for a few days while I contemplated what she was going to wear.

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The woman who wrote the pattern, Anya Balybina, translated two parts of her Russian language only class  into the patterns I bought, but she hasn’t yet (or may never, I don’t know) translated the parts about clothing the doll and attaching hair.  By the way, if you’re ever looking for doll tutorials, and don’t mind some awkward google translation (or if you understand Russian), this site, I think it’s called Livemaster, I’m not even sure if that’s what it’s called or that’s the closest translation,  but it has tons of tutorials you can plop into google translate.  The Russians are huge into crafting dolls.

But, googling along to Russia aside, I was left to my own devices for the finishing up.  I decided to do what I know best, and knit.  I downloaded a bunch of vintage knit Barbie clothes patterns from Etsy for a buck a piece, changed the gauge, and adjusted here and there and voila!

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Well, that’s not voila! yet.  That mess above was the crazy construction necessary to be able to get the sweater onto Barbie – the back needs to be snapped shut in order to get the clothes on and off. If I make another someday, I’ll definitely knit in the round, because I can always sew the head on after, like I did with this one.

Here’s the real voila!

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How cute is that sweater!!!  Man I hate knitting stripes though – all of those ends to weave in – sheesh!  All of that work for a doll that’s just going to sit in my craftroom.  But, the fun is in these little details, so it’s all good.

Time to sew on the head! Oh, and maybe she needs some pants.  For the pants, I just cut off a leg of one of my old jeans, traced around the doll right onto the back of the jeans, sewed up the seams, and cut it out.  Another, Voila! Jeans.

 

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For hair, I used some roving that I had leftover from a needle felting kit I never finished – I just poked it onto her head.

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And now she can take her place among the other dolls of the craft room!

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And altogether now!

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Her clothes are definitely my best effort so far – it definitely helps to work in your comfort zone. Although – it may be too close to my comfort zone – Joe says I made a mini-me.  I can see his point – my blond hair is gone, and I’m back to the dark brown, and she is wearing a handknit sweater and jeans, my fall/winter uniform.  But, that wasn’t my intent.

So, now I’m feeling like clay.  But, it’s really hot again, and I don’t know if I have the patience for it – I think that’ll wait until fall – real fall, not this faux fall with 98 degree heat.  I really want to take these classes by Adele Po, but that’s not in my budget at the moment.  Maybe my holiday present to me!  I do want to continue to paint heads, so this weekend I might just sew up a bunch of heads, and the ones I like will get a body – doll eugenics!  I think it’s an acceptable method of survival of the fittest in this case at least.  Not quite natural selection, but I’m the creator, so I’m good with it.

Have a great weekend!  Next time, I’ll show you the great bead fail!

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Yarning Along – Lost in a CAL

I am a machine.  A crochet machine.

I just keep cranking out round after round after round.  Very relaxing.  I have no idea where I’m supposed to be in the CAL, but I think I’m working at a good, steady pace – on pace to run out of yarn, again.  And that’s not to say that I’m not checking in on the CAL, and looking at everyone’s pretty pictures.  I am, and Polly has a really nice intro video every week highlighting some challenging parts of the pattern, it’s just that it’s a pretty relaxed CAL, everyone is working steadily, and I seem to be about where everyone is.  I’m just not on a timer – like the Ravellenics Hippo.  And, since it’s not a mystery, I don’t have to wait for the next part of the pattern to come out.

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I should finish the tiles without any yarn shortages, and then I’ll have to wait for a replenishment shipment to start the connecting squares and corner triangles.  But, it’s all good.  As you can see, I have plenty of ends to weave in, uch, and I also have my knitting to go back to, since my Miss Babs was a perfect match.  Plenty to do while I wait!

On the reading front, I downloaded a mystery from the library, thinking that since I was next up in the library queue for Dark Matter, I just had a bit of time to kill.  But, I’ve been next in the queue for about a month now – I think the Dark Matter borrower must have turned off their WiFi to get the book finished, because it should have been returned by now – drat!  Anyway, so I’m not reading that planned next up book, I’m reading Elizabeth George’s A Banquet of Consequences.

A Banquet of Consequences: A Lynley Novel (Inspector Lynley Book 19) by [George, Elizabeth]

It’s 19th in the Inspector Lynley series, which of course I didn’t know when I downloaded it.  I have not read the previous 18, and I usually don’t like to start a series in the middle (or at the end, as the case may be), but oh well.  So far, I haven’t encountered any historical nugget that harkens back to anything other than the ramifications of the last book on one of his fellow detectives. I’m not that far into it, it’s ok, but I just love the title.  There was a prosecutor in Pennsylvania who recently died who always closed with the defendant now sitting at the feast that he had prepared for himself – and I when I saw “banquet of consequences” I thought what a better turn of phrase.  If I were a prosecutor, I’d definitely use it – but as a defense attorney, it doesn’t quite fit.

Speaking of defense attorneys, as some of you may know, I’ve been a public defender for 20 years.  I just finished watching HBO’s The Night of, and once again, I am just horrified by the portrayal of the woman defense attorney.  Just like that show on Lifetime, where they had the Innocence Project woman lawyer taking her top off on death row to impress a client, and later hooking up with a client to kill another suspect, this defense attorney, Chandra, falls for her client, and does beyond belief things.  Why? Why? Why?  Why can’t women defense attorneys be portrayed like their male counterparts, and not sexualize their clients?  I go to work, and I’m a professional – I treat my client’s the same way the male character on the show, the John Turturro character, treats his clients – with humanity, but not anything else.  I don’t even worry about crossing the line – because the line is so far off on the horizon it’s unimaginable.  At least the show’s one fantastic lawyer, the prosecutor, is a woman, so at least there was that.  So, just my two cents.

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Moogly’s Hookin on Hump Day!

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Well, Hello Dolly

Spinning the creativity wheel this weekend – whirl! – all signs point to . . . dolls! In my cycle of painting and knitting and crocheting and jewelry making and whatever crafty thing crosses my path – this weekend I’ve landed on the doll square of the crafty board. At first, I was all internetting about cloth and clay dolls – again – but I found this cloth pattern on Etsy by Anna Balybina, and I liked it, and said to myself, that’s my project this weekend. I never did finish my Danita Art cloth doll – I started stuffing my body, and the neck was so infuriating – no matter how much stuffing I added, it remained floppy and crinkly. Aargh. So, I put it away, thinking oh, for tomorrow – but, tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow – never came for that doll. I guess it still could, I don’t know. But in any event, I’ve birthed a new doll –

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The sewing is similar to the Tilda doll, but it’s much smaller, and the shape is different. It’s been so long since I pulled out my sewing machine, that I contemplated for about 2 seconds the notion of sewing it by hand . . . um, no. And, my worry was for nothing – I can still work ye ol’ sewing machine. And, in fact, since it was already threaded, it fired right up, the bobbin didn’t jam once, easy peasy!

I started stuffing, but then decided, tomorrow is another day. Huh, that didn’t work out so well for the Danita doll, but this one . . . it’s gonna happen.  So much so that I spent a little bit of my morning practicing faces – I’m a little worried about moving to fabric, but I can always cut and sew another one . . . and another – practice practice!

And that’s what I have on deck this weekend!  Hopefully, I’ll have a finished dolly to show you on Monday.  Have a great long weekend!

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Yarning Along, Again With the Hook

When last I left off, I had run out of yarn for my Shetland Trader, Islay. While I sweated it out (literally and figuratively, as the weather has yet to get the message that summer is winding down) waiting for my yarn to arrive from Miss Babs, I decided to do a stash dive, and once again, attempt to finish a crocheted afghan.

Enter the Lotus Moon Tile CAl from Polly Plum. I’ve been an admirer of Polly since the Sophie’s Universe MKAL, when I cribbed her RBG colorway scheme. I like her aesthetic, and I was happy to find a project to distract me from the “will it or won’t it work” thoughts/dread surrounding the pending arrival of my non-dye lot skein of Rainforest Yowza What A Skein!

Of course, stash diving into a work in progress stash means accepting that the first project is no longer a project but a fail. And, I’m ok with that. I did enjoy the mystery/round by round aspect of Sophie’s Universe, but in the end, I didn’t like that it wasn’t really done when the MCAL was done, unless you wanted a finished small square. The pattern totally provided alternatives for borders, additional blocks, growing the project, etc., but I didn’t realize that’s where it was going when I started, nor how much additional work it would be. Eh, excuses – I just know in my heart I’m not going to finish either version, so I might as well use the yarn.

So, here is the baby produced by my two attempts at Sophie’s Universe, which is a mix of Valley Yarns and Michael’s Impeccable.  Yep, wool and acrylic, call me crazy.  The Valley Yarn wool is sooooo much easier to crochet with, and much easier on the hands.  Also, as you can see I’m using a generic metal crochet hook, and I’m really feeling the difference after I spoiled myself with the Clover Soft Touch with the hippo.  I may just suck it up and buy the whole set of them, we’ll see.  Crazy talk again.

Unlike Sophie’s Universe, which was a mystery CAL, Lotus Moon’s entire pattern is available from the start. The CAL is set up in weekly bunches of rounds, with accompanying video tips and tricks from Polly. You can work at your own pace, or work on the CAL schedule. I aspire to catch up to the CAL since I started a week late. The CAL is into week three, and I’m halfway done week 2, so pretty good progress!

I feel like if I went to the store, and actually picked my colors, I don’t think I would have gone with the rust color that I’m working with now, and instead of the lighter grey, I would have used a cream maybe. But, that’s about it.  Hmm, maybe I’d trade in the dark grey too, I’m not sure.  Polly just started another that uses cream for the big petal round, and I like that as well.  Doesn’t really matter though, does it – it’s well underway!

I may run out of the rust, but that’s easily, stressfree replaceable, and I may run out of the forest green, but again, an easy peasy color to get another skein.

See, Junie B isn’t worried at all!

Actually, she looks a little worried.  Huh.

And, drum roll! My Miss Babs arrived and its PERFECT!!

It’s so identical I’m wondering if this was a color they just did for Sheep and Wool and this was the last of it. But, I’m not going to wonder too long – I’m just going to wind it up, and get a move on!

 

As far as reading goes, I have nothing really to report. I had started Outlander on Starz, but then we cancelled our Starz subscription. So, I thought I’d try to get back into the books, but that meant rereading the first book, which I read over twenty years ago, and I’m not feeling it. While I was enjoying the show to a certain extent (not as much as a LOVED Stranger Things, poor Barb), I just don’t think these weighty historical romance tomes are for me anymore. But, today is payday, and I’m heading to the Amazon store, I think to buy the new Jeffrey Toobin book on Patty Hearst – I think I’m committed, but I may change my mind before I hit the buy button. Especially since I’m only one person away from securing the library’s digital copy of the new Blake Crouch novel, Dark Matter. We’ll see what happens first.

Until next week!

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Back to School-ish

Ah, it’s that time of year again – when my Facebook feed is flooded with back to school photos, in a parade of endless backpacks and tight ponytails. Aside from the shock I felt when my one crafty Karate Kid niece appeared as a GASP cheerleader in my lead story, it’s all the same old same old. And, while I’m not packing any peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or hovering over any kids at the bus stop, I too feel that change of seasons, as I slowly emerge from my heat induced, airconditioner addicted stupor, and feel those creative juices start to pump.

My pumping creative juices, however, sound like “thunk a thunk a” as opposed to a gently flowing river – creating havoc and mess wherever I go.

This weekend, I hit the paints – or the paints hit me, as even as I type this, I have acrylic paint on my nails that I can’t get off.

I made this face on a long ago prepped canvas –

She’s looking a little Elvis, but that’s ok – I enjoyed her. And that’s the point. To be honest, not only is my Facebook feed overloaded with back to school, it’s also filled with a lot of “bad” art – art from the heart though, and everyone is so filled with happiness in their creations that I’m happy to see lopsided eyes, neckless tilted heads, cartoon noses – all that good stuff – because it’s stuff that looks like my stuff, so I know my fellow crafter gets me, and why it’s ok to revel in making stuff you’ll never sell, or never gift, or may never even leave your craft room. Because it’s fun, and relaxing, and art isn’t reserved just for the talented or the professional or the art student.

While creating Elvisina, I spilled some blue paint – just craft paint from Target, no big deal, but I didn’t want to waste it. So, I had some gessoed cardboard, and made blue and purple girls –

I feel like this should be the underpainting, and I shouldn’t be so lazy, and I should keep practicing, and add another layer of paint . . . we’ll see. The truth is I am a lazy crafter when it comes to painting or sculpting or dollmaking, I make one thing, get it out of my system, and then move on to the next thing, never getting very good or skilled at anything. For instance, the doll bug is biting again – and if I had just stuck with it back when I was originally struck with the must make dolls jolt, I’d probably be a pretty good dollmaker by now. But, as it is, with no practice, and no improving upon the last project, I’m theoretically back at the beginning, and when I get my doll stuff out this week, it will be like reinventing the wheel. But that’s ok, I’m a process girl anyway.

So, Elvisina joins the crew of stuff that doesn’t leave the craft room, and I will continue to plot my next trick.

I have a crocheted jewelry class lined up, which has lead me down a paper bead hole , I’m all about paperclay and cloth bodies again (at least in my head), and I’ve been revisting my Misty Mawn classes (they’re only supposed to be around for a year after purchase, but she always leaves them up longer). I also really really wanted to make these crocheted stones but I cannot find one usable stone in my backyard. I scavenged my mother’s backyard on Saturday, and every stone I found was really a rock, a rock which looked like doo doo according to my mother, so that didn’t quite work out. Maybe it’s a good thing – TOO MANY PROJECTS!

Although maybe I could walk the dogs, and perhaps lift from stones from my neighbors . . . shhh!

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Yarn Along – Until the Yarn Runs Out

Now that the Ravellenics Games are over, and fall approaches (totally wishful thinking!), I’m back on board with knitting, and I cast on my Miss Babs from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.  Who cares is 90+ degrees out?  Pshaw!  There’s never a bad time to sit with a pound of wool on your lap, right?

This will grow up to be The Shetland Trader’s Islay.

Well, that’s the plan at least. But to grow, you need yarn, and yarn, weeeeeelllll – I originally bought this yarn for another sweater with a different gauge. And then, I was seduced by the Shetland Trader cardigan, and based on my eyeball estimation, it looked like the same amount of yarn to me.

And why did I trust my eyeball?!?!   My eyeball is constantly off on gauge, has trouble with right and left, and isn’t allowed to drive a car since my eyeballs are bad drivers. Bad eyeball!

I definitely need another skein of this hand dyed yarn.

Yep, hand dyed, purchased at a festival probably one of a kind yarn.  I do have another skein on the way, and I can only cross my needles that it’s close.

The color is more accurate in the above photos than these two, which I shot really quickly this morning with only light from my dining room chandelier.

So, here’s where I am, and as you can see from the hanging tail, I’ve finished my first skein of Yowza, and I still have finish the left side, upper back and upper right front of this piece. So, I’m sure my second skein will get me through that, and I’ll use the incoming skein for the sleeves.  I guess if it’s a crap match, I’ll . . . I’ll think about that when it happens.

On the reading front, I finished Richard Price’s The Whites.

Since we’re deep into HBO’s The Night Of, co-written by Richard Price, and years ago, I read Clockers, I was really looking forward to sinking into a dark Price world, but unfortunately, this wasn’t his best.  In fact, it’s pretty stupid.  While the events that take place in the book certainly would be some detective’s fantasy, it’s the not the gritty realism I was hoping for.  And the big reveal in the end is pretty much a whole lot of nothing.  In any event, at least it was quick read.

Now, I’m reading Graham Swift’s Mothering Sunday, which is a novella about a Downton Abbeyish maid who becomes a writer.  Her story is revealed through a framework of  interviews of her in her 80’s and 90’s, interspersed with the events of one day, a Mothering Sunday, from her “maid days” that shaped her.  There’s a lot of writer craft talk, about words, language, giving things names, and meaning, and it brought me back to a short story class I had in college where my professor was into all things meta.  The Amazon review refers to it as “luminous, intensely moving tale,” and I don’t think I’ve been intensely moved, but I have enjoyed it so far.

So, that about wraps it up for this week!  Linking up with Small Things Yarn Along!

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Happy World Photography Day!

Today is World Photography Day!  I know that because Facebook told me.  That made me happy.  But Facebook also told me that according to my “memories,” it’s been a year since my LYS closed.  That made me sad.  If I had never looked at Facebook at all, I probably would have experienced nothing other than happiness when my dog jumped on my face this morning, or contentment over my morning coffee.  But, that’s not the world we live in.

Since we live in the world where it’s World Photography Day, I thought I’d show you my new camera, the Olympus OM-D E M10 Mark II.

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So cute, right?

After lugging the Canon 7D through airport security, across England, and back again, I decided that I needed a lighter alternative. While my Project Life album is fueled nearly entirely with iPhone photos, I can’t ever see capturing an important family function or a vacation without a “real” camera.  Although, in truth, I can’t see myself leaving the 7D home if wherever we are going called for that kind of beast.  But, in any event, the idea that I wanted something lighter, smaller, and good had wormed its way into my daydreams, and there was no going back.

At first, I really wanted the Olympus PEN E-PL7 – a stylish retro white camera with brown leather accents and a flip down, front facing screen.  Unfortunately, the white version was only available Internationally (and would therefore come with a rechargeable battery for European voltage), and the US version is plain black.  Meh.  But, there was still the flip down screen – fun!  I watched lots of YouTube videos – this, after all, was marketed as the hipster blogging camera.  And, bloggers seemed to really like it, but in the end,  I couldn’t get past the lack of an optical viewfinder.  How can you rely on the camera back in broad daylight?

So, I moved up the Olympus rack, and went with the OM-D E M10 Mark II, the next higher model.  The Pen-F, a mirrorless rangefinder, was a little more up my alley, but out of my price range.  So, this OM-D model, unlike the E-PL7, has a viewfinder, a better image stabilization system, and a wider range of autofocus spots. I made my final decision after watching This Week in Photo’s Review.

And, it’s still super retro cute!

And, I love it.  While I use the viewfinder outside, as I anticipated, inside, I’ve been using the touch screen focus more than I thought I would.  The filters are fun and easy.  I love the wifi!  I ended up subscribing to Adobe’s photography subscription plan, which is a monthly fee for Lightroom and Photoshop, and it allows you to sync your catalogue across your devices.  So, I have many options for sending my photos off into the world.  The kit lens is just ok – there’s a pancake version and the bulkier one – the difference between the two is $100, and the quality of the pancake lens (still a zoom, but sits flatter) isn’t any better, and according to reviews, may even be a bit worse. The lens is sharp, but not fast, and it really doesn’t give you any lovely bokeh when it’s wide open at 3.5.  So, I have a 17mm prime lens on my wish list, as well as the 45 mm portrait lens as well.

To celebrate my new toy, I created a new playground for it – an Instagram feed just for my Olympus photos.  I watched a bunch of YouTube videos about creating a theme for your Instagram account, but after years of willy nilly posting on my teawithlemon account, there was no way I was going to delete everything and start over.  So, instead, I created the lemonandolive feed, which is pretty much all still life photography shot on the Olympus.

Here are a few examples of the OM-D E M10 ii in action:

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I struggle with still lifes.  While I enjoy “faffing” around, as the flat layers call it, I really hate to invest in flowers just to pull them apart, so I’ve been scavenging in my back yard.  Also, while we have a lot of light in our house, none of our windows is really in a good position relative to any white space, which is ok if I would just buy some kind of white backdrop, but I’ve been pretty lazy about setting up a “home studio.”  I’m in serious like with Kim Klassen’s presets, if you click over there, she has a small taster set you can try for free, as well as a free Lightroom primer, which was very helpful.  She’s relaunching her online studio, Studio 2.0, which I’m probably going to join because I really love her instagram community (see her hashtag, #mystillsundaycompetition), I just haven’t decided at what price level I want to commit.  So, yep, I’m back on the photography kick.

So, hopefully, I’ll be sprucing up ye ol’ blog with some pretty photos – I was on a really good, productive, and inspired roll for awhile, but then it go sooooo hot, and my stone house is like a kiln, it was just so uncomfortable sweating it up just to get a few shots.  I’ll leave you for a lovely weekend with a few gratuitous Olympus Olive shots, because everyone should start their weekend with some puppy love,

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Medal, Please

No no, silly, no medal for blogging.  Blogging these days is an epic fail for me.  But, once again, I have changed my WordPress theme, throwing consistency and half-hearted branding to the wind, and just creating a new pretty “box” to put my stories in.

But, I do deserve a medal, gold if I do say so myself, for my champion performance in the 2016 Ravellenic Games.  This project took patience, feats of courage, and endurance.  It took stretching myself, and my basic crochet skills to a new level.  It took a teeny tiny crochet hook, and fingering yarn.  It took hours in front of the t.v., crocheting African Flower motif after African Flower Motif.  It took ripping, and recrocheting, and ripping again, as I painstakingly learned how to crochet as you go. Ah, the drama, my friends of the Heidi Bears hippo!  From this:

To this:

How cute is she? She’s so squishy and cuddly and fun!  I really should give her to a child, but I’m not going to – I’m keeping her.  Right now, I have her in Joe’s man cave, the only consistently airconditioned room in our stone, kiln-like house where we’ve been huddling in it like a walk in freezer in the middle of a humid, hot rain forest.  But, I can see him eyeing her up, worried that she may end up with a menagerie of African Flower friends.  So, once it cools down here in tropical Philly, she’ll be moving into her permanent home in the craftroom room.  And, she may just find herself with some friends too! And, speaking of friends, my friend Knitty D is also undertaking an Olympic marathon event, the knitted version of the hippo pattern.  This version, my friends, is definitely a labor of love – between the crocheted cast on, the picking up stitches, and the puzzle piece construction, its definitely an exercise in concentration.

On the reading front, I also completed an Herculean read – A Little Life, by Hana Yanagihara.  I’m not even going to post a photo of the book cover, because it’s too disturbing for my pleasant hippo post.  I was somewhat moved by this book, it definitely had its kick in the gut moments, but I didn’t have the full emotional experience that others had.  I can’t really get into why without revealing too much of the story, but let me just say this – this book, at its heart, is supposed to be about true friendship, and no one, at the end of the day, was really a very good friend.  I also read Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, which was a good read, and Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes, a reliably good cat/mouse detective novel.  Today, I downloaded Richard Price’s The Whites, which I’ll probably start tonight.  Love Richard Price!  And you can catch a cameo of him on HBO’s miniseries The Night Of, which he co-wrote.

Linking up with:

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and

Moogly’s Hookin on Hump Day

 Moogly

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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Fauxdori Fix Up

So, you may remember, I started the year off all moved into my Fauxdori planner from Dokkipaper.  I was all about minimalism – the craft paper inserts that came with the notebook cover, my own photos as decoration –

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That was it.  That is, until I got sucked down the planner hole interweb.  Here’s the thing though, this planner community -I’m seeing a lot of decorating, but not any actual planning.  Part of that, I assume, is because the actual planning is private, and people don’t post photos of their daily agendas.  However, that’s not always the case – there are plenty of “before the pen” and “after the pen” shots – that’s the lingo, by the way.  And, yep, I’m one of those people, that if you post a photo of your planner filled out, I’m going to read what’s on the page – not because I care what you’re doing, or want to invade your privacy (that you’ve put out there anyway), but I’m just curious.  And, some of this planning is stuff like “take shower,” “make dinner” “plan tomorrow.”

Rather than be my totally judgmental self, I’ve just come to accept from my planner voyeurism that the word “planning” just has a different meaning these days.  Planning in a planner can mean anything from simply decorating (those plan with me videos all over youtube), to memory keeping, to list making, to actual planning in the traditional sense – goal setting, to do’s and a calendar/scheduler.

Anyway, I do like a little pretty, and I decided the old Fauxdori could use a makeover.  So, while Joe was sick last week, and I felt guilty just leaving him in the t.v. room by himself playing his video games, I signed up for Christy Tomlinson and the Reset Girl’s little workshop, The Creative Planner.  Of course, there are a gazillion free videos on youtube, but for the most part, they’re a mixed bag, and you don’t know if you’ve found a really organized, informative video or a babblefest until it’s too late.  So, for $35 I invested in hours worth of well edited, organized videos, got in depth reviews of every planner out there, and watched some really helpful tutorials on how to pimp my Fauxdori.

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So, the first thing I did was ditch the calendar insert I was using, and I downloaded this one from Happy Digital Download.  The calendar that I ditched had a monthly view, a weekly view, and daily views.  Way too much.  I don’t enjoy writing the same things down over and over.  So, I was originally only going to go with the monthly view, but I really liked the weekly view that matched, so I bought that too, and created a separate insert for my weekly planning.

Printing out inserts online for the Midori sized notebook is kind of mystery, even after watching videos.  All you really need to do is open up the insert, print it, and trim it, allegedly.  But, if you print it out the way the PDF opens – in a landscape mode on 8 1/2 – 11 paper, you have to trim both sides of the insert – the top and the bottom.  I find that if I print on the 8 1/2 x 11 in portrait mode, and fold it in half, I only have to trim the top.  So, what I do is create a blank document in photoshop, open the PDF of the purchased insert in the program, which will open as PNG, move the PNG to the new page, and resize it to fit in portrait mode.  Then, I print them double sided, and fold them in half.  Before I trim, I find something I’m going to use as a cover – for these inserts, I used the perforated pretty paper that came in the last issue of Flow magazine, punch 3 holes in the spine with an awl, sew it up in pamphlet stitch, and then I take one of the original Midori brand inserts I have, line it up where I want to cut the insert, and with my quilting rotary cutter, I trim away the paper.  It takes more than one pass with the rotary cutter to trim the paper, so it’s important to keep your hand firmly on top of the notebooks, so that they don’t move around and you get a crooked cut.  But, this way, you’re only really trimming the top (or top and bottom if you need to center your cover).  Sometimes, because of the bulk created when the paper folds, you have to trim the side too, but that’s just a teensy bit.

After I made the new inserts, I switched out the felt business card holder you see above, and bought the plastic zipper/business card combo instead.  I  filled the zip with some stickers and some washi, and I have my little bit of pretty if I want it.

Then, I went totally planner cuckoo and made a dashboard!  The Amazon laminator is only $20, and can also be used to do that gold foiling that’s so popular these days.  So, I bought the laminator, and made this:

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I cut the Flow magazine paper the same size as the insert covers.  I left space in the middle so that it could wrap around my other notebooks, and I sent it through the laminator.  Voila!

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Here’s the flip side – because everyone needs a laminated sentencing guidelines matrix in their planner, right?  Well, I do.  Most people make a dashboard so they can see something pretty when they open their planner, or something inspirational, and because it’s laminated, they can put sticky notes and page flags and washi, and it can all be removable.  I honestly just wanted a laminated sentencing guidelines.  I can’t take the whole planner into the prison with me, but I can take that one laminated sheet.  And, if someone in court wants to see my guidelines, which happens all the time, the paper is protected, won’t fray, and isn’t attached to the rest of my planner, so whoever’s borrowing it won’t see my secret stuff.  You can see, sort of, I notched the laminate a bit where the elastic fits in.  You can’t see it very well in the photo, but for those of you who don’t know, fauxdori inserts are held into the notebook cover with elastic, and that makes it easy to use a notebook and replace it.  The traditional Midori brand Travelers Notebook has one elastic, like my fauxdori.  You can buy notebook covers with additional elastics, but I think, if you know how to put the notebooks in, the one elastic actually makes more sense, but that’s just a matter of personal preference.  The elastic has a bottom strand, and a top one.  You can’t put anything under the bottom strand, that will make your notebook buckle.  Rather, you slip the inserts in between the two strands of elastic, with one resting on the bottom, and the other one holding the inserts in place.

Next, I slipped in the plastic zip pouch:

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This slips in under the top elastic band, on top of the dashboard. Next, I rehabbed the craft file, which I forgot to photograph separately.  You can see it above in the group photo – I laminated the outside of it with the cute cartoon girl going about her business, the inside stayed the same.  The only reason I laminated the outside was because the folder is kind of falling apart because I’ve shoved too much in it, and because I wanted to play with my new laminator.

Next, here are the inserts I made with the Flow paper and the digital downloads:

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This is the back of one insert, the front of the other, and they are rubberbanded together through middle of their respective spines.

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These two rubberbanded inserts slip under that main elastic, right on top of the craft folder I forgot to photograph.  The girl reading is my monthly insert:

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And that’s about as crazy as I get with decoration.  Next set are again rubberbanded together, and slipped under that main band:

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The first is my weekly view, and the second is a travel planner I made for our trip in two weeks.

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Two stickers, that’s my decoration. And then finally, the bullet journal gets slipped in through the middle under the main elastic.

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And here’s what it looks like all closed up:

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It is kind of like magic how they all fit in there.  I’m almost done with that bullet journal, which is just really a gridded to do list, and the Midori brand, which I have on deck to replace it, is much thinner than this one that can with my Dokkipaper Dori, so it will all close even better.  For our trip to London, I’m going to take it out anyway and replace it with a blank journal.  I probably won’t take my calendars either.  I may put in another zip pouch for receipts and things, since the zip pouch came I a pack of three.  We’ll see.

So, that’s my latest planner set up.  Tomorrow, or soon, let’s just say that, I’ll talk about my new “memory planner,” how I’m using that, and why that would never ever replace my Dokkipaper Dori.

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