A new era

We’ve put in an offer on a house, which was accepted. The inspection went well; we have the disclosure paperwork from the bank on our dining room table, which we will sign this week. It feels surreal still. We don’t close until late April, and we won’t move in until May. I know this feeling well – this is when time seems to contract and expand all at once. Looking at the calendar, it feels as though it’s going to be a decade from now before we’re dragging our furniture into another new place, but hopefully the last time for a while. And during that month-long decade, I’ll get a whole lot of nothing done, so when it is time to drag the furniture, I will be completely unprepared.

Things are about to change…some things never change.

With the month or so that I have, I hope that I can get some ideas solidified. I also hope I have the mental capacity to see those ideas through, take pictures, and post something.

So…here’s to a new era. Hopefully.


Finalizing Christmas and old friends

Yesterday was none too pleasant and found me having a panic attack, curled up in the fetal position on my bed because I ran out of packing tape to ship presents. Needless to say, packing tape was not the real issue, and I spent the last few minutes before literally dragging myself up for work trying to pinpoint exactly what is eating away at me.

I thought I had worked some of it out, and I emailed an old friend who is as removed from my life as anyone, yet still as close to me as if I were 16 again. I woke up this morning to a response from someone who had clearly read between the lines and figured it out. I am grateful for that, and the only bittersweet part about it is my regret at not spending more time with this person when we were close.

So I went to work, and my dear coworkers all made the night worth working. Albeit there were a series of a very bitter and rude customers (Ho ho ho, assholes), the night was actually quite fun, and I found myself more than pleased to be in the precinct. Again, I am blessed.

Finally, upon walking into the dark house at around 11:30, I found a roll of packing tape stacked neatly on top of one of the packages that I will be sending out today. My husband may not have gotten the earful (eyeful?) of my angst/panic/disappointment yesterday, but what he did know about (and could fix), he did.

None of these things solve the problem, but I hope that they can help curb the impatience and fear and anger over this whole school situation. And perhaps the reason for it will become clear in a reasonable time, so that I’m not slapping my forehead one year from now saying “oh!”

In other news that you likely will be more interested in, Christmas is basically done. I am going to cave and buy Eric a few more things (they will be in his +10 Bag of Practicality), and I am starting on the Christmas game today, but otherwise: Mission Accomplished.

While I will still post separately about the other projects that Eric and I undertook for our edible gifts, I just want to celebrate actually finishing something this week.

IMG_2611 IMG_2613 IMG_2614 IMG_2615 IMG_2616 IMG_2617 IMG_2624 IMG_2625

The gifts, arrayed on the table and sorted
The gifts, arrayed on the table and sorted
A sideways image of the CD I made for Joey

Now I have packing tape, so I am going to seal the boxes and walk them down to the post office to send off. The CD I made for Joe is probably my favorite; per my mother’s request, I put together an ensemble of super hero music, both score and lyrical. I hope he enjoys it, and I hope that my decision to keep Robot Rock by Daft Punk off of the disc helps maintain my mother’s sanity.

More on the specifics later, and also…new brakes!

For now, keep it crafty.


Koch’s snowflake

My canning is done. All that is left is making cookies, chips to go with the salsa, and decorating. I performed an exhaustive search for ideas and felt no inspiration. I am not entirely sure if this is because of the hour, my generally foul mood, or that there is not much out there.

I finished the peach butter jars a while ago, along with their adorable fabric covers and fancy ribbon stuff. They’re not bad, really, and I should probably just do the same for the other gifts, but it seems so…blah. And, apparently, the most common decoration for canning jars is fabric, cutesy ribbon, and tags.

Well…challenge accepted.

These are Christmas gifts, and I suppose the theme is something along the lines of staying warm in the winter (salsa, soup, etc). I might do the fabric trick on some of the items, but in my slightly buzzed, under-the-weather, and half-asleep state, I thought it would be way cooler to do something more wintery. And something involving paint.

But that’s simply not enough! It needs to be quintessentially Sam.

Thus I decided I should probably do something math related, something with fractals. Enter Koch’s snowflake:

Von koch's snowflake
Von koch’s snowflake

This is a fractal that is made up of increasingly tiny triangles, though strictly speaking the snowflake is made up of three of Koch’s curves, but that’s really not an issue. The point is…how cool!

This then led me on a tangent (ah ha! Math joke!) looking for math crafts, and I couldn’t find a one that interested me. That was mostly because they were aimed for children more than adults. And as charming as an abacus made of pony beads of adding lily pads are, they are not quite what I am looking for.

So fractals it is, and, again, challenge accepted.

I need to sleep.

I forgot to take pictures

Part of my DIY Christmas gifting includes a photo frame for Eric to take to work with him because he’s always saying that he needs a picture for his office. I stopped at Michaels after work last night (awww. It was kind of nostalgic, and I even saw my old boss, who was very nice) and purchased a wooden frame to paint.

The irony, of course, is that while I got one picture of the base coat, I forgot to get any others. And the frame is now in a box, wrapped, and under the tree, so unless you want a picture of the wrapped box, I’m afraid I’ve failed in sharing any visuals.

But here’s what I did, anyway:

1. I painted the frame with a metallic silver. Since I was putting a photo of our elopement in the frame, the silver complements the white and black of our outfits.

2. Using a black permanent marker, I wrote the last lines of a poem that was read at our small ceremony for family.

3. I put the photo in the frame, put it in a gift box with a letter, and wrapped it.

Done. He gets something that he’s been asking for, it has a personal touch, and with dry time for paint, it took all of an hour. In case you are curious, the poem in question was “Litany” by Billy Collins. An amusing read, for sure.

I have caved, though, and I purchased some things for him, too. Alas. Time has not been kind to me this holiday season, since I’m working retail, and that makes it hard to do a whole lot of crafting. It is a little bittersweet, but I might as well get used to it. Once I start school again, I think it will be some time before I am able to get back into my craft room for any real length of time. Sad day.

With the rest of my afternoon before going to work, I’m going to make the labels for our canned gifts. Last bits of food gifts are going to be made this week, and then I’ll ship them all next week. And somewhere in there I have to write Christmas cards.

When did this holiday become more work than celebration? Bah humbug.


One giant leap


I have officially applied to go back to school. This seems like such a trivial sentence to be so excited about saying, but for as many times as I have talked about it, thought about it, maybe planned it a little, I have actually done it. And who ever would have thought that this liberal arts-minded, crafting writer would go back for something so logical and technical as engineering? Not me. Probably no one in my family or circle of friends. Well…surprise!

I should hear back from the school in about 2 weeks.

In the meantime, I have a meeting scheduled with the director of the advising branch of PCEC to talk about how I can get the most out of my education. I spent a large chunk of today making a list of questions, looking into the various ways I’ll be able to fund the approximately $45k just for the undergraduate portion of the degree, and making this:


This is just a handy poster guide I made to make a loose guide for class schedules through the undergraduate portion of an articulated program. This does not include the year(ish) of graduate coursework that would come on the heels of this schedule.

I am going to bring this with me next Friday to see what the experts think. For the most part, I have kept a fairly light load. If I wanted to do what I did the first time around, I could cut out a semester of this, but I don’t know if 19 hours is a great idea for a math-heavy load. At least not at first, when I am dipping my feet back into pool that I stepped out of some time ago.

My reward for my hard work today?

I am going to do some math.

NaNoWriMo: An excerpt

Writing is, strictly speaking, a craft. This blog is meant to showcase my crafts. Thus, an excerpt from my novel this year, which is currently sitting pretty at just over 33,000 words.

This particular scene is about halfway through what I have so far. Two main characters are rival mercenaries/assassins, and one has been sent after the other. In answer, Kami’s boss calls her in to discuss the contract on her head. Then she goes out on the town. There are absolutely no spoilers in this excerpt.


Kami was displeased. She had never been one to appreciate being called in, like a dog. Her boss had her number; why couldn’t he just call her with information? Instead she would get some cryptic message and have to drive to the city just to be given a name and general location. All of that could be done in five minutes over the phone.

She stopped the bike in front of the headquarters of the Inagawa-kai and glowered at the door for a moment. Her approach to the door was without pomp, but the guards showed her reverence anyway. She gave them a sarcastic salute and entered, making a bee line for the staircase, ignoring the secretaries who tittered at her.

She took the steps two at a time, stopping at the door at the top. She popped her neck a few times, pushed it open and walked in, “Sunny day today.”

Her boss looked up from the desk and the quiet conversation he was having. He wasn’t happy with Kami’s general disposition, but he had grown accustomed to it. The man speaking with him was obviously unfamiliar with Kami, however, because he stood abruptly and turned, “Who do you think you are?”

Kami arched a brow and watched him approach.

Answer me!”

Kami smiled and tilted her head, glancing over at her boss. He stood calmly and sighed, “Hanaka-san, please-”

You do not barge in on private meetings. Someone must teach you a lesson, clearly,” he raised his hand to strike, and Kami almost laughed. This clearly only angered him more, but the retort was cut off when Kami grabbed his arm, roughly pushing it back and stepping around him. When she had his arm pinned behind him, she turned him around to face her boss, “Clearly.”

Ishii-san sighed, “Kami. Let him go.”

The man tried to peer over his shoulder, fear obvious on his features, “Kami? Kami Mitsuko…”

Kami smiled and let go of his arm, “You didn’t know. I realize,” she looked over his shoulder, “You called me here.”

Ishii-san nodded, “Yes. Hanaka-san, you may go. Kami, please come in.”

The man stepped away, bowed, and then walked out, giving Kami a wide berth. She took a seat across from her boss and waited.

Are you aware, Kami, that the Yamaguchi-gumi have put a contract on you?”

Kami looked over the desk, scanning for anything of interest. She saw nothing that caught her eye, “Of course.”

The man sat in his chair and leaned on the desk before him. He looked across at Kami, fingers crossed in front of him, “Are you planning to do anything about it?”

She considered this for a moment, “No.”

He sighed, dropping his head, “I thought that might be your answer. This doesn’t bother you at all? You have no concerns?”

I am not concerned, no. But it does bother me…in the way that a fly being in my house bothers me.”

Ishii-san sighed, “I will trust your judgment for now, but if things continue to progress, I will have to send you out in retaliation.”

Kami nodded, chewing her lip for a moment, “Okay. Why couldn’t we do this over the phone?”

He smiled, “You know I don’t like doing business that way.”

Yeah,” she stood with a sigh, “I’m really not worried. I’ve met the guy they sent after me, and he’s not going to do it.”

And when they take him off and put someone else on it?”

She shrugged, making her way to the door, “I’ll deal with that if it happens. I’m sure the Yamaguchi-gumi will get over it, right? The guy was a fat pimp. He probably was more trouble for them than anything, and as soon as they realize it…and that their number one assassin can’t even take me in, well, they’ll get over it,” and she walked out.

Waste of a drive, she thought, but I might as well take advantage.

She waved to the guards as she mounted her bike and took off down the street. She felt confident she could find at least one good bar in the area. She had agreed to meet with Mary Elizabeth in the morning, so a crazy night was probably out of the question, but what could happen?

*          *           *

The impact was perhaps more than she had anticipated; the wall creaked behind the weight of her hitting it. She slid down the wall and took a moment to catch her breath before standing again, using the wall as a support. She shook her head free of the fog that was creeping up on her.

That…all you got?”

*        *        *

The sun made red streaks flash across her eyelids, and she groaned. She searched her memory for what woke her – oh, yes, knocking. There it was again. She pushed herself up slowly, still unwilling to open her eyes to face the sun. Based on what was under her fingers and the position of the sun, she placed herself on her couch. She shuffled to the door, still working on the details of how she got home, and opened it, “Yes?”

Got a few hours to spare?

I’ve traded my 5am part time shifts for full time work and occasional late nights. That means, of course, that instead of leaving work, coming home, and being too tired to do anything, I get up at a reasonable time and don’t go to work until the afternoon. I also need more pairs of khakis that I previously owned, so I bought a new pair. Alas, they were too long.

Luckily, I have a sewing machine!

For whatever reason hemming pants is a difficult task for me. It seems easy enough when I start – measure, cut, sew. Once I get into it, though, I start second-guessing and fretting over details and length and such. So I re-measure, hesitate about  cutting, and then measure again.

Today I spent 3 hours working on the pants, and they came out okay, all things considered. I mean, the length is right (that is a first for me!). But this wouldn’t be a Crafty Polymath post if something hadn’t gone wrong with the whole process, right?

My sewing machine decided, somewhere at the end of the second leg, that it didn’t like…sewing, I guess. I’m not entirely sure what it did, but it started making a weird noise, and then when I looked at the finished product, there is a knot of thread just kind of…there. I’m not sure what went wrong, and honestly, I’m not that upset. The pants are the right length, and the knot isn’t that obvious.

So I’m quite proud of my accomplishment. Pants all hemmed and with an hour to spare before I leave for work.

In other news, Ann Coulter is at it again, being a big, mean-spirited source of evil. And I mean evil.

Anyway, there we have it. Ann Coulter is evil, and I hemmed some pants. I guess things sort of balance out…maybe.

The unveiling

So for about 5 weeks, I struggled with ideas and execution on Eric’s birthday present. I knew I wanted to make him a board game because he loves board games, but I wasn’t sure how to create game play that could capture all of the facets of his personality, his life, and our life together. I toyed with the idea of a card game, a board game similar to Monopoly, and I got frustrated enough to stop thinking about it for a while, which was a bit unfortunate.

Finally I realized that I had an old copy of Trivial Pursuit that we never play, and the format was clear. I would create a trivia game with questions about Eric!

The only problem was that I wanted to unveil the game at his dad’s war gaming club, and not everyone there knows enough about Eric to do well, and I didn’t want it to be boring for people. In answer, I made one category about Eric specifically, and the others would be about things he likes, so I ended up with one category about Eric, one for entertainment (music, games, etc), one for general history, one for arts and literature, one for the Packers, and one for war history.

The biggest challenge was the trivia part. I spent weeks coming up from work and scouring the interwebs for good trivia. It was exhausting. I managed to put together 50 cards with each of the categories, which amounts to 300 questions. I hand wrote all of them, too, in tiny letters, so they would fit on the playing-card sized paper.

The code card and trivia cards. A 6 hour labor of love.

I spent so much time on the cards that I almost ran out of time to decorate the box. Even that has a great story. I had decided to do minimal changes, so I called the game “The Trivial Pursuits of Eric”; I simply added the letters and words I needed to the box.

After I had changed the title and put a picture of Eric on the cover, it seemed a little empty on top, so I decided to name it the “30th Anniversary Edition.” Easy! I used the same Sharpie I had used on the rest of it, but sometimes when you’ve been awake since 4am, things kind of run together, and I ended up with “30th Anniverary” instead.

No problem! I cut out a star burst of yellow construction paper and wrote it on there, then used Mod Podge to decoupage it onto the box.

Oh wait, though. When the construction paper got wet, it began to bend, and I ended up with a lump in the center where it hadn’t stuck to the box. I discovered this before the adhesive dried, luckily, and I attempted to flatten it. But in doing so, the ink of the marker smudged.

I took the whole star burst off, but the outline was still there.

My final answer (geez, this is even longer typed out than I thought…this is good, though. It gives a great feeling for what I went through) was to paint the star burst shape with the same bronze metallic paint I used on my dad’s clock and re-write the title. I retitled it “30th Anniversary Bronze Edition”, and it was done!

And I finished it all with literally one minute to spare. I completed the last card and put the cover on the game just before Eric got home from work last Friday. We left that afternoon for Grayling to visit the folks up north and attend GWC, where I would unveil the game!

Alas, we did not get to play the game at club, but I did give it to Eric, and he was a fan. Since we didn’t get to play, I asked him all the trivia questions on the drive home on Sunday. He actually missed some of the ones about himself, which I thought was great.

Eric’s displayed the box on his game shelf! Hooray!

To be honest, I feel a little crappy that we didn’t get to play it, like somehow it’s not as cool a gift since we skipped the whole game play part, which was sort of the point. But I’ll make it up to him. Next week, on the actual day, I don’t have to work, and he has an early day, so I’m thinking I’ll set up a board game to play for when he gets home. Of course, we also have an appointment with the bank that day to start talking about home loans and all that jazz.

Regardless, it all worked out, and I have a lot of crafting ahead of me! But for today, I’m just going to watch the Avengers again.

Zoe is going to watch it, too!


Haunting Sunday

Alas, the Packers lost today.

Despite that, Eric and I were fantastically productive. We got laundry done, cleaned the living areas, and we redecorated our porch with the new Halloween decorations that my MIL graciously gave to us. We also decorated a little bit inside, but I must say that our porch is sufficiently creepy, and I am looking forward to scaring small humans on the 31st.

We received a healthy list of frightening props from MIL, but I wanted something a little crafty to celebrate and showcase, so I revisited my bottle painting of a few months ago.

I had an extra wine bottle hanging around, and while Eric painted a wooden skeleton to put outside, I went about priming the bottle.

Here is what I did:

1. After priming, I did a base coat of black paint.

The black of every emo teenager’s soul.

2. I decided to class it up, and I “labeled” the bottle en francais!


Basically, this is my witch’s brew of crow blood. Mmm.

3. Finally, I had to make it clear that this was a bottle of blood, so I used a dark red and did a few drops. Now, to do this realistically, I had to first mix the red and black together, then slowly add more red as the streak went down. I then made it “pool” at the bottom. I am please with the outcome.


No crows were harmed in the making of this craft

This has certainly put me in the mood for Halloween. We also got Christmas decorations, and anyone who has seen me around Christmas knows that I am OBSESSED!

Perhaps the best bit of goodies were the books with recipes and craft ideas. I got some wonderful gift ideas from them already, and I think they will be rather simple to do, which will be good. Can you say excited?!

Yesterday also was my orientation on the new j-o-b. I am definitely tempted by the kool-aid. Mmmmmm.
Hope you are all ready for holiday decorating! Keep it crafty. 😉