Thursday, April 28, 2011

Excuse me, but you're getting your creative juices all over me.

Aaaaaaah, there is nothing like satisfying my inner geek. Weather it be TV, video games, anime or manga, when I've done something geeky that I love, I just feel super awesome. This time I feel awesome because I got to attend Anime Boston again this year. Anime Boston was actually the first anime convention I ever attended, and it instantly stole my heart away. The talented costumes, freeing atmosphere, and puking glowing glow stick fluid at 4 in the morning on some street corner, how could you not fall in love? Though my interest in anime has wained since my first convention in 2003, I still manage to find something I enjoy every year.

6:45am isn't easy on a loli with a corset
After arriving in Boston Friday night my weekend of inspiration began.  It started by visiting and old high school friend Paul.  Paul is currently studying print making at Mass Art and exploring gender and sexuality in society ... I think.  Regardless his work blew me away and nearly brought me to tears, he was just that amazing.  After naping for two hours, Miss Lumpy and I woke made our way to the convention.  Well that's not true. At four we started getting ready and after a lost wallet, disgruntled charlie ride, and a rain storm we were sure was going to destroy Miss Lumpy's bonnet, we finally arrived at the convention center at about 6:45am.

Normally I'm one to spend my time all over the convention watching AMVs, joining in on panels, and strolling through the artest alley and dealers room.  But this year I was given a unique opportunity to help my friend Miss Lumpy sell jewelry from her web shop Amaranth Opulent. While there, I got to meet and get to know the lovely Caro-Chan, author of F-yeah Lolita. I was happy to be at the convention, but more importantly, I was inspired. I've always wanted to be my own boss. Even with my first job at CVS when I was 16, I knew that I wanted to create something of my own and pave my own path. I've been mulling around a few ideas in my head of what to do, never fully convinced it will be a success. But then I realized that everything doesn't have to be a success. Looking around the artiest alley at Anime Boston, I saw nothing but people doing what made them happy and trying to make a few bucks from it.  Miss Lumpy and Caro-Chan were shining examples of this selling their hand made jewelry and bonnets.  And theres no reason I can't do that too.

I currently work about 65 hours a week, and will be going to, literally, 80 hours a week starting May 1st. Though the money is good, it's been draining on my overall happiness. It's ironic, but hurting my back and having to lay in bed for a week was quite possibly the best thing to of happened to me in a very long time. With nothing but time on my hands I was able to do what I loved. I cooked, sewed, crotched, nearly every craft out there, I tried. And with that, I realized just how much I hate my work life. I hate being told what to do every minute of my day, I hate being pushed around by customers, and I HATE opening my paycheck and feeling as if there are a few hundred dollars missing. "I definitely work harder then $200 a week, right? RIGHT?" And I do, and I know working for myself I'll only work harder and be paid even less, but it'll be my work, not someone else's, and thats worth every penny I might earn. So thank you Miss Lumpy, thank you Caro-chan, thank you for kicking my butt in gear, no matter how unintentional it might have been. Here's to a whole new me!

As a side note, here are a few shots from my, hopefully, life changing weekend in Boston.

Ever Lovely Paul

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Finding the Time

Photo from Ask My Sister Mary Martha

The first question that comes to my mind when I've decided to make something isn't how to accomplish it, but instead, just where am I going to find the time!  Having ungodly amounts of debt, the price of living and of course having to support my crafting habit, I've taken on 60 to 70 hour work weeks.  Thusly, most of my time is spent smiling at people I despise on the inside, instead of sitting at home snuggling with my cat and making something new.  When I first took on these busy schedules I made no attempts to find time for myself and trucked on until I burned out and had an emotional break down.  It was then that it became clear that finding "me time", even if it was only an hour a day, was beyond important.  Here are a few tips on how and were to find your "me time".

  • Write a Schedule:  This might seem obvious, but I feel it's a tool many people don't use anymore.  I always write out all my work hours, appointments, and even free time on my calendar.  With this I have the perfect tool to help me with my next tip...
  • Plan ahead!  And with that, stay organized too.  Each night before I go to bed, I prepare myself for the next day.  Set out my cloths for my first job, pack a change for the second job, lunch, and what ever you're currently working on.  This way, whenever you find that moment of down time, instead of taking out your phone to play your favorite addictive game, you can finish a few more rows with your knitting or rip that ridiculous seam you made.
  • Know your opportunities:  Think about your day and find where you can steal a moment for yourself.  Even if you only have a half hour break for lunch in your day, it's something, and who says you can't eat and work at the same time.  Be careful though, I love to multitask and eating while working is nothing to me, but be sure not to be pressuring yourself to eat fast or complete too much in one break.  It's time for yourself to relax,
    not stress yourself out over a time limit.
  • Look for slow jobs:  I understand not everyone can do this, nor are they always available, but if you can find one, your golden.  I knew I would need to work a lot, so I was sure to be on the hunt for at least one of my jobs to be low key.  What I found was a job as a receptionist at a motel down the road from my house.  It's often very quite and very few guests stop in at the office.  This allows me to be sewing in the back room, or crochet at the front desk on "busier" nights.
  • Ditch your friends:  Don't take me too strictly on that tip.  I think it's perfectly fine to cancel a night out just to have an opportunity to find time alone and with your work.  But becoming a recluse isn't going to do you much good either.  I find this especially helpful to sit my my room and work on my project when I'm stressed out more then usual.  Turn on your favorite musical you've seen a million and a half times and sing along, or throw together some brownies to smell and drool over while you work.  It's especially important to eat at least half the brownies in one sitting when you might be stressed or worn out.  I don't care what people say, that much goodness when you're feeling down is nothing but good for you.

I hope these are of some help  to you.  I live a pretty hectic life for who I am, and these tips have helped me keep my sanity and find time for the things I enjoy doing.  Craft on!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spring into Crafts! Part 2: Rose Scrap Barrette

I don't know if I can rightfully call this a second installment of my spring into crafts series.  It might be more of a 1.5, but I'll just call it 2 anyway.

Sunday, doped up on pain killers from an injury the day  before I went for a stroll through the woods.  The weather was gorgeous, and there were threats of rain in coming days, so I decided to take advantage and dress up a little too.  It was definitely a bad decision to go for a walk with my injured back.  But at the time I didn't understand just how hurt I was.  After all, pain killers make you feel GREAT! Here's a few pictures from the day.

Strolling through the woods made be really wish I had my rose crown with me.  Unfortunately, as lovely as it is, it isn't very practical for simple outfits.  Seeing as I had so many little bits and pieces left over I thought that I could make another hair piece with the same feel as my crown, but would be much more appropriate for day to day life.  

First, I gathered my tools: Scissors, left over scraps, glue gun, and well, I needed a barrette clip so I decided to salvage one from a clip I hardly ever wear.

Next, I bundled my little twigs together and held them with a bit of glue.  I was so concentrated though I forgot to pause for a picture.  Luckily I remembered to take a moment and capture my progress once I added the flowers.

The flowers where much easier to attached for this clip then for the crown.  All I had to do was arrange them how I wanted and slid them through a space in the twigs instead of placing each one in a specific spot.  I hit the base of each rose with a dab of glue and they weren't going anywhere.

Next I trimmed the stems to create an even base.

It may look a bit like a hot glue mess underneath.  Don't worry, it will all be hidden by the barrette clip, and also give it a little more to hold on to.

When attaching a barrette clip there is one main thing to look out for.  On both sides of your clip there should be two small holes.  These are there so that your glue can seep through them a little and create a stronger hold.  Be sure to apply a little more glue to these areas.

Here's the finished hair clip both worn and on it's own.  There are a few twigs sticking out that could make it look a little more messy then I want.  Luckily the material I used for them has a wire center, allowing me to bend them into place and look more orderly.

Did you know it's nearly impossible to take a decent picture of the back of your head?  Maybe it's just me, but it took me about 25 tries just to get the crummy shot you see above.  

The spring has made me fall in love with these floral pieces and I'm trying to find new ways to incorporate flowers into every part of my life.  Has spring inspired anything in you?  Have you started any new projects with the change of weather?  Let me know in the comments below!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Spring into crafts! Part 1: Crown of Roses

It's spring time! And what better way to enjoy the warmer weather then by hiding inside and crafting all day? Ok, I admit it, there are probably some better things I could be doing with myself. But, nature played a mean April fools joke today and gave me snow. So I gave it roses.

Tons of crafts were added on my "wanna-do" list recently. The idea for a flower crown is not only new but jumped up to the top of my list. I knew I wanted it to be something that would last forever so it of course had to be made of cloth flowers. What would the rest of it would be made of? No clue! Regardless, I knew that cloth flowers could be a bit expensive so I planned to subscribe to the craft store Michael's flyer and wait patiently. But, by a stroke of luck, just as I went in today to subscribe it seemed there was a 40% off sale on all their spring flowers! In truth, I'm not very good at waiting, so I just went right ahead and got what ever I thought would be useful. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the raw materials so I'll just list what I got.

  • 1 spool of beige wired ribbon
  • Plastic with wire center branches
  • Cloth flowers
  • Strands of pearls on "fishing wire". (It's really a decorative piece for flower arrangements.)
  • Two shades of pink, small roses
  • Hot glue gun

When I got home, I still wasn't quite sure how everything would come together. But I rest assured knowing that, have glue gun, can craft. And show I began glue gunning my little heart out. It took me a while but I was able to bend and mold the branches into a base circle.

After that I added in the strands of beads. I didn't want them to be too over powering so I only placed a few.

I got so carried away when I started adding the flowers that I didn't even think to get a picture of it in process so heres the finished product!

The flowers make something of a swoop moving from the right to the left. I really think they're gorgeous and look very delicately placed. It reminds me so much of this wicker wreath I once had as a child. At some point I decided it was ugly and threw it out! I can't believe myself now, recreating it in this piece. The pearls that I was worried would be overbearing where hardly noticeable in the end! This is even after adding two more strands after the flowers were all on. I also added the wire ribbon around the back of the piece. I wasn't sure what I would use it for when I bought it, but I knew it would be handy. I ended up using it to cover the base of the twigs, which were a bit unsightly. Even still, I love the loo of it and would of probably added it anyway.

And now a few shots of me wearing it! I quickly threw something other then my T-shirt on and neglected make-up. Sorry I look so dead. I was smiling! I swear! I guess starting work at 5:30 just sort of buries anything other then an ear to ear smile.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Get back here and fight me!

When it comes to female social issues It’s hard to get a rile out of me, and my style of rebelling against stereotypes is rather low key. I’m unshaven, feel no shame walking out into daylight with out a spec of make up on and have the mouth of a sailor. Never do I feel the need to brag about how “radical” I am, or how I refuse to let “the man” hold me down. But everyone has an achilles heel, mine being, hitting woman. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting all upset about some jerk not whaling on his girlfriend often enough. I mean that when I throw a punch, you refuse to hit me back because “you can’t hit girls”. Those four words are all it takes to send me into a spastic whirlwind of rage only to be met with more comments about how they refuse to strike back.

This strikes a few nerves with in me. First and foremost, equal is evidently not equal. If to be free of racism means to not recognize any distinction between people based on raced, then to be free of sexism means to see no distinction between people’s sex. Unfortunately I have never found this idea in reality. Instead, coworkers are amazed when I can pick up a box, stunned when I climb a shelf, and shocked when I don’t call crying for someone to change my flat tire. Why? Simply because less is expected of me. I am a woman after all, aren’t I supposed to give up quickly and call someone bigger, stronger, and less feminine to help me achieve my goals? Luckily I was not raised this way, I was taught to work hard for what you want and let nothing stand in your way. This means, build muscles to lift your own boxes, dare to climb high, and pick up that grease covered wrench and change your own damn tire! It’s 2am and raining! No one wants to do that for you! In all, were male and female truly equal, it would be rather ridiculous to hear a woman bragging about her stick shift car.

What almost hurts more then being expected to fail in a fight, is the unspoken insult, that to hit me would be unfair and wrong. This doesn’t just apply to physical fights, I’ve seen instances where men think it’s just not right to argue with a woman, in an offensive attempt at fluffing the female ego. Thanks, but I didn’t start this fight to win by surrender. Nor am I going into anything with some sort of secret women-weapon. (Tampon nunchucks go! Damage plus 50 points! Status effects: Girl cooties!) In truth, were some one ever to physically strike back I’d probably loose. When someone is twice your height and genetically inclined to build muscle in their sleep, it’s almost a joke that I would ask them to hit me. But at least have the decency to to pound my face into the ground instead of walking away laughing. This may seem ridiculous but it’s a point of pride. Of course I don’t want to fail, but in order to succeed I have to first try. By walking away, or not slapping me with insults you’re taking away my ability to try. You’re taking away an opportunity for me to become something more, to earn those battle scars you so proudly show.

So this is it, my challenge. I challenge you to one of the most difficult challenges you may ever receive. Be equal-minded. Refuse to assume things based on a persons sex. Women, build your own muscles and fight for your scars. Men, fight back for once, she may surprise you. Never let a stereotype stop you, or be a motivation. This world is not just black and white, it’s ying and yang. Fight for the true eradication of sexism.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Let me just begin with the fact that this post has been a long time coming.  Buying boxed granola cereal for $4.50 a pop, though delicious, was frustrating.  Why do I have to pay a million dollars for such a satisfying breakfast?  Well, I decided that I didn't.  Armed with zero knowledge on how to make granola I went to the store.  There I bought things that I thought would be yummy, this such as, walnuts, sliced almonds, and crasins.  The one thing I did know though was that granola needed rolled oats, and not their evil twin instant oats.  Ok, Ok, instant oats aren't evil.  They make a great quick snack and can be handy.  But any time I've used oats is for baking, and using instant oats will only result in mushy nastiness, and must be avoided at all costs.

Getting back on track.... I picked up my oats, went home aaaaaaand... procrastinated.  It's ridiculous to think that I was actually afraid to make granola.  But really, who wants gross granola, then it just becomes a large waste of money and effort.  About two weeks after I bought all my materials, my desire for granola finally outweighed my fears and I set to it.  Since I had never done this before, I scoured my dozens of cook books and all of the internet for a starting point.  The internet seemed to only yielded super sweet recipes drowned in brown super and maple syrup.  Though this sounded freakishly delicious, I wanted a less sweet alternative that could serve as a nutritious kick in the boot breakfast each morning.  I finally settled on a recipe found in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by my two favorite secret vegan authors Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  Starting from their recipe for granola I switched a few things to make it my own.  Most important to me and my budget was switching maple syrup for agave.  I refuse to use the fake stuff when it comes to maple syrup making agave the much cheaper option believe it or not.  Other then that, I swapped their option for berries and nuts in place of my own crasins, walnuts, and sliced almonds.  And just for good measure I threw in some flax seed I had on hand.

The directions where simple enough.  Step one: toast the oats.  Step two: add everything delicious ever.  Step three let cool.  This was definitely the hardest step.  Not only did it smell super delicious, but I can't ignore the call of warm walnuts and crasins.  To combat my desires I grabbed a quick shot of them cooling.

I like to think I outsmarted the writer when they instructed me to place the granola still on the hot pan, onto a cooling rack and let cool for several hours.  Instead I covered two of my cooling racks in tin foil and sat them side by side.  This allowed my granola to cool in little less then an hour.

I'm not kidding when I say I was drooling over this stuff.

And there it is all jared up and waiting to be devoured.  When I first started I hoped to make a granola good for breakfast cereal.  Though this one could still be used in this way, and is perfect on top of yogurt, it's more loose and less clumped together.  Gratefully I'm still able to enjoy it.  I bring this granola with me everywhere as a quick snack in a baggy, and as a protein packed companion to my fruit smoothy for lunch.  Next time I think I"ll try something with peanut butter, but as far as this recipe goes, I would definitely classify it as yumnola!

Heres my altered recipe if you're inspired to make your own.

2 Cups Rolled oats
3/4 cup raw sliced almonds
3/4 cup raw walnuts
2 tbsp whole flax seed
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 cup agave
2 tbsp real maple syrup
2 tbsp veggie oil
1 cup crasins

Preheat your oven to 300F

Scatter oats on a large baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes, mixing them about every 5 minutes to insure even browning.  While your oats are toasting, in a large bowl mix together your almonds, walnuts, flax seed, and salt.  In a small bowl combine the agave, syrup and oil.  Once your oats are done, combine with the nut mixture.  Then, thoroughly coat with the syrup mixture.  Once combined return the mix to a greased baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every so often, until the oats reach a dark golden color.  Your granola will still be moist so don't be alarmed.  Pour the granola back into the large mixing bowl and add your crasins.  Once mixed pour the granola onto cooling racks covered in tin foil.  Let cool and enjoy!

I stored mine in an empty mason jar I had, but a zip lock bag with all the air squeezed out will do the job just as well.  Good luck!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Fail Friday

Good news guys. My plastic crochet hook was returned today. The guilty party was too embarrassed to return it personally, so in stead the stuck it into the holes of the blanket I'm making and left it for me to find. What strange thief. In even better news, I found a treasure trove of metal crochet hooks in my notions bin today while attempting to sew (more on that later). The metal hook is so much nicer, it makes me think that maybe the thief should of kept the plastic hook in hopes that they too one day and learn to crochet.

Also today...

I wanted to make a tote bag today of some scrap fabric and an old t-shirt. After getting everything set to sew I sat down, turned on my machine, aaaaaand.... died. For some reason the needle wasn't feeding into the machine but was for some reason off center and hitting the metal plate. For an entire half hour I sat there fidgeting and fighting with the machine in an attempt to make it work. Finally I gave up and pushed away from the table. For a brief second I thought I saw the needle bent. Nah that couldn't be it. Last time i sewed with that it worked fine. ... right? Nope, wrong. The needle was indeed bent forward. Thusly making me look like an idiot even to myself. To make matters worse, I didn't even have a replacement needle. That's like, a triple sewing fail. And a quad crafting fail. -_-