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.
I reached 50,000 words today! And my story is not over – not even close. I will keep working on it throughout November, but I have officially “won” NaNoWriMo. Okay, not officially because I have to get it verified on the 25th, but what a freeing sensation!
I had today off, which is what allowed me to write the 8,477 words today that got me to where I needed to be for the NaNo win. I work tomorrow (of course), and then we’re driving up north to spend Thanksgiving with the in-laws. We’re going to eat more a lunch than a dinner, so we can leave early enough for me to get sleep. I’ll have to be at work 4am on Friday, so our holiday will have to be a little bit short.
I get exhausted just thinking about it, but NaNo is done, and it will likely go quickly. We also have to get started on Christmas gifts – canning like fools!
To those of you for whom I was originally planning individual gifts, well, sorry, but NaNo, full-time/over-time work that includes weekend, applying for a mortgage, and a general malaise have prevented me from starting anything specific. Canning I can do in short order, but some of my other ideas not so much.
I’ll have another excerpt eventually, but for now, I think I’m going to get ready for bed. It’s been an exciting day, and I have a tiring five days ahead of me. Then I’ll have two days off in a row. I cannot properly express how excited I am about that.
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.
Yesterday Eric and I drove to Lake Odessa to visit with Mark’s family and celebrate October birthdays (Eric and Mark, in fact). Since Eric already got his gift, I didn’t bring it with us, but he got some very thoughtful gifts from the folks there.
Mark is my mother-in-law’s boyfriend, and he is a wonderful man. He is very generous, thoughtful, and he is super geeky, so we get along great. He bought the furniture that is in our guest room, and he is basically just a great person. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do for him, but after they came over for dinner one night, and he seemed very appreciative of my homemade pasta, I decided to make him “Italian Dinner in a Basket.”
I forgot to get pictures, but here’s the process:
1. I opened a beer and played some Hugo on my iTunes.
2. I made some sauce from scratch. At the suggestion of my mom, who is brilliant, I cooked the tomatoes for about an hour instead of just blending them right away. I blanched them first, peeled them, chopped them, then let them simmer in oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. This was the best sauce I have made yet.
3. I have semolina flour finally! So I did half semolina, half all purpose, and I made some fettuccine with my pasta maker.
4. I canned the sauce and let the noodles dry over night. Then I bagged the noodles.
5. We bought a middle-of-the-road wine (Mark used to work at a winery, actually) and included that in the basket.
6. I wrote an instruction card, and we covered the whole lot in a nice dish towel.
We also made him a card. I bought a pack of photo cards (you put your own photo in there) on my last day at Michaels, and we painted the front to make it look less…white.
It was quite a hit! And, fittingly, my sister-in-law gave him a decorative cork holder. In vino veritas, my friends!
So now it’s onto my mom’s birthday gift and then Christmas. I am getting excited about it all. I am also getting psyched for NaNoWriMo, and it will be interesting to see how I fit writing and crafting and cooking and full time retail in together.
Coming up next: I will turn an over sized t-shirt into a fitted tee! Theoretically.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. I decided to class it up, and I “labeled” the bottle en francais!
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.
I kind of just woke up from a two hour nap. Eric and I went out for Mexican food for lunch, then wandered around one of those season-only Halloween shops. But I am getting ahead of myself here. So let’s take it from the beginning.
This morning was unusual in that Eric woke up at the same time as me. I made my Saturday call to mom, and while speaking with her, I drank a huge cup of coffee. Delicious. Eric made us eggs and toast for breakfast, and we eschewed the television for pleasantries.
Weekends are definitely Eric’s project time, so he went about getting some terrain building, and I decided to tackle knitting again.
This weekend was “Friends and Family” weekend at Michaels. I got a sweet 40% off you entire purchase coupon for my part-time drudgery there, and I was determined to use it. Eric and I thus found ourselves wandering the store at 8pm last night. He picked out some painting supplies, and I treated myself to a new sketchbook and a “I Taught Myself Knitting” pack, which includes an instructional book, two sets of needles, a stitch holder, and a bunch of things that I don’t know how to use yet. All of this for around $30 – $20 off is not bad.
Then we went grocery shopping, and I was delirious, so that was also fun.
With instructions in hand, I went about reading and looking at diagrams, and I went to knitting. Here’s what I came up with for today:
I was quite pleased with my project. I found that the continental method works best for me, and I did a knit-on cast, which did wonders for keeping things more even. I can’t seem to get the grip of the yarn in my left hand right, but I’m more concerned right now with remembering how to knit more than doing it well.
Next up, I will work on purl stitch and see where we can go. The book has some great projects for me to work on. Christmas presents, ahoy!
I’ve been working keenly on Eric’s birthday present, and my mom’s is up next. Then I can get to Christmas. I hope. I may have gone and dug a hole that is a bit too deep for me, but I will persevere! Roar!
Back to the beginning of the post now, where Eric and I went for some delicious Mexican food, talked about needing to learn Spanish, and then traipsed about the Halloween store. We were both tired when we got back, so we took a nap. Eric woke up after about 20 minutes; I needed 2 hours. Go figure.
While we were sitting on the couch, I drew this to wake up:
So I have now justified both purchases at work yesterday by using my new materials. Now I’m going to go paint.
Pictures of Eric’s present will be here around mid-October, after I unveil it at the Old Man’s house.
Fall is a busy birthday season for me. I have my bff/college roommate’s birthday, dad, Eric, mom, grandma, and a few others interspersed. There goes my Christmas crafting time, no? Especially with November’s focus being writing fantastic fiction stories.
Hopefully I’ll have birthday gifts done completely soon.
Today is dad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Dad!), so I am showcasing his handmade goodie today.
I struggled and awful lot with this one. My initial idea has been something along the lines of Atlanta Braves memorabilia…that I made. Then I thought about some sort of music-themed gift. I had a really hard time coming up with a fun way to use that theme, though, so I went back to the drawing board. The drawing board, of course, is mom.
She had a brilliant idea, as usual, and I took that as a spring board and went forward. She suggested a clock, and I ended up with this:
I went through a few prototypes in my mind. The first was a clock with various song titles with numbers, but I couldn’t find enough good ones that would translate well. Then I thought perhaps a family clock, where each number was a family member, but the numbers didn’t add up. Besides, I really liked the idea of using “One ring to rule them all.”
The clock face was pretty easy. I bought a pre-cut one at work, painted it with a metallic (copper) acrylic paint, and then wrote the words with Sharpie. I went with paint first, so that the marker wouldn’t bleed into the wood and get all blobby (that’s a technical term).
The hardware is sold separately in little kits. I bought one of those, and thanks to Eric’s finagling, we got it to fit and work. Fun story! It didn’t fit correctly initially, so I took a trip to the store for a Plan B. Good news: I have a Christmas present idea already!
I was so worried about getting it there on time, and it ended up arriving on Monday! Ha! It was a surprisingly easy process, all things told. I mean, once I had the idea. I would like to play with it a little bit more, but this was a great start.
I believe it was a success. Hooray! I was pleased with the outcome. And now dad has a very unique and fun clock! Time will never be the same…
So…I lied about being patient and reading and learning before canning. This weekend, Eric and I went and bought the final supplies for our canning adventures.
And then we made peach-honey butter.
Here are some things we learned:
1. We were given two pressure cookers, which is awesome, but unnecessary for things like jams and pickles. They will be necessary for things like green beans.
2. It is a good idea to have two people working at once. Eric was in charge of jars, and I was in charge of cooking.
3. Canning is really just making a really big batch of something, and then doing the right things to preserve that something. For some stuff, the recipes aren’t that different.
4. Always sterilize more jars than you think you will need! We had to quickly clean and cook two more jars when I realized I had more peach butter than we expected.
We got four jars and a little extra that we have already eaten. That means 4 gifts made! We are taking one with us to Ohio this weekend when we visit some friends.
It was super fun!
And now I’ve got the bug. Eric wants to pickle. I want to make everything and save it. I believe we’ve created yet another monster.
I am being overwhelmed with craft ideas. And when that happens, I usually end up sitting on the couch doing nothing. Much like I am doing now. Except I have an excuse today.
While carrying the multiple boxes of jars downstairs, gravity decided to bring up an old argument. Luckily I wasn’t carrying jars by then – just one of the very light cookers – but I was, alas, on the stairs. So I am nursing a twisted ankle, sore leg, and bruised back.
Sunday is the draft for our fantasy football league. I have been doing mock drafts this week, and I’ve been working, obviously. Today, as I left work, I bought a few supplies for the weekend. I haven’t done a really crafty project in a while, and my hands need to be busy.
I bought a needlepoint kit; I didn’t even realize how amazing these kits were. They come with everything. They have the Aida, the thread…even a needle! So I’ll be wrist-deep in some cotton thread, probably cursing up a storm about the pattern, at some point this weekend. It’ll be great!
In other news, I lost my camera. It’s somewhere in the house, for sure, but I don’t know where. But no worries! I can still take pictures with my computer when necessary.
I bought the needlepoint kit, yes. But I didn’t want to make it today and not have it to do later this weekend. Besides, as I mentioned, the fantasy football draft is Sunday, and football Packers season is starting! In honor of that, I made a fantasy football chart for us to use at home.
I also drew the pictures to accompany the team names!
For the record: My team is Deadpool Corps and Eric is Verbal Wirbelwind.
Here’s the picture I took with my computer. Hopefully I will find my camera, so I can take some really good pictures of the needlepoint. In the meantime, here is the poster…and my gin and tonic. Mmmm. Happy Friday!