Thursday, January 29, 2015

Big Changes!

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Big, Radical Changes!

I've always wanted to do it.  So I finally did.  My youngest says I'm having a mid-life crisis.  Maybe...but since I plan to live to 120, I won't reach middle age for a while yet.  Besides, I just finally got the courage to do it. 

The picture actually makes it look really good, the color that is.  The actual color is a little more pink than I'd like, and it didn't take too well to the blonde areas.

This is what it is supposed to look like:

The picture makes it look like it is closer to the box than it really is.

I picked up this box, too.  My oldest said I should start with the one above and move to this one, if I liked it.  (I was deciding between the two.)  I think she was right.  This one would probably been too radical a change at first.  I returned it to the store.
Sometimes I like it, and sometimes I don't.  I've been blonde for soooo long that I don't feel like me.  Plus, one of my favorite colors is red, and my red clothes look differently on me now than they used to.

What do you think?


Monday, January 26, 2015

Bead Embroidery: My First Time

Every so often I feel a need, I mean a NEED, to learn a particular art technique.  I'm not sure what compels me, but it can become intense.  When this need arises, I will often look to friends to teach me, or will try to find a class to take.  More often than not, the need overpowers my ability to wait, and I wind up teaching myself.  One of those compulsions was my need to learn wet felting.  I finally couldn't wait anymore, so I taught myself...on a basic and very small scale.  I was fortunate that a friend invited me to wet felt with her not long after, and I learned a lot of tricks and wisdom from her as we felted together.

Recently, the need overpowered me to learn bead embroidery.

I went to a craft show this past fall and there was a woman there selling her amazing bead embroidered work. I had seen similar work before, but didn't even know what it was called.  It was very arty and gorgeous.  I had done my own version of bead embroidery on a scarf I made for a class proposal a while back, but it was very simple and not arty.  I heard this woman talk about her classes and, very excitedly, asked her where she taught. Florida.  Ugggh!  I scanned the internet for local and regional bead embroidery classes and no one offered any. I like in-person classes. I need that interaction. I got very anxious.

Armed with my frustration, I began searching the internet again and found some tutorials.  Moving forward with this information, I began to create my first piece.  The piece I created is a cabochon with peyote stitching to anchor it.  I was fascinated to find during my research that the bead embroidery I had done totally on my own, without ever seeing a tutorial or anything, was spot-on.  Another source I found tells us to just sew things on...period.  What you get is what you get. I suppose I had actually stumbled on something back then.  Since I do NOT SEW, I was concerned that there was some sort of trick to it.  There really is not; but there are stitch variations...just as in regular sewing.

Things I learned during my first time doing bead embroidery:

  • I will need a new and stronger pair of reading glasses.
  • None of my scissors want to cut through fire line.
  • I will need more beads!
  • Not all beads are created equal. (My stitching on this first piece is uneven mostly due to unequally sized seed beads.)
  • I will need more money. (To buy beads, of course!)

Because of my inability to find local outlets to learn the tricks of this new art form, the teacher inside of me is already planning several classes to teach the basics to others who just have to learn. Because of course I will continue experimenting and teaching myself until the need to bead is sated. 

I'm not done with this new art form.  My next piece will be a free-form piece.  I am totally psyched to get started on it. I will, of course, share with you when it is finished...and maybe while it is underway.

Have a wonderful day!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy New Year (part two)

New Year's Resolutions

I don't make them. I'm not sure why I am opposed to them.  Maybe it has to do with the guilt that comes when they are not met? I don't know.  I am, however, a goal-setter.  The new year is always a good time to set, or reinforce, goals.

My goals for the year:

Eat healthy and stay on plan. (I am a lifetime Weight Watcher.)
Exercise three times a week.
Avoid aspartame and added sugar.
Find a way to augment the family income.
Spend more time with my family.
Reduce debt.

My goals often change throughout the year, but these are the kind that will probably be constant.

After all my unhealthy eating during the holidays, it is extra important to work on the first one.

Knock You Naked!

Speaking of unhealthy, I do have to share with you one of my favorite desserts. Knock-you-naked brownies!  They are unbelievably good.  The funny thing is, I took pictures of them in process, but neglected to take a picture of the finished product.  I think when they came out of the oven I must have only been thinking about eating them!

They are pretty easy to make.  The hardest part is unwrapping the caramels.  I bought two different kinds for the load batches I made for the party: bulk wrapped caramels and Kraft caramels.  I'm not sure why, but the Kraft caramels are MUCH easier to unwrap.  The original recipe I used called for 30 caramels, which is what I used here.  The recipe I found this time said to use 60.  I couldn't imagine all that unwrapping!

You can find the recipe pinned to my Recipes I've Tried board on Pinterest.  If over time the recipe link moves, just contact me...I have the recipe saved.

The bottom layer and caramel layer.  You could probably add toffee chips to this layer, too...doesn't that sound yummy?

The top layer.  When I've made this before, I've just dropped the batter on the top.  The recipe I've linked to suggested rolling it out and then laying it on top.  I did that here.  It looks better in the "before" picture, but I don't think it changes the end product.

What about you?  Do you make resolutions or set goals?  How do you feel if you do not keep or reach them?


Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year (part one)

Happy 2015!

Let me apologize for my absence.  I had every intention of making all sorts of wonderful Christmastime posts, but life got in the way.

I mentioned to you in my last post about our insurance. I'm not sure what to blame, whether my husband's new company (actually same company, new owner) or Obamacare, but our insurance in 2014 was AWFUL!  We had a massively high deductible (although not as high as some, I know). Fortunately, our maximum out-of-pocket cap is not much higher than the family deductible.  Once we meet the deductible, we might as well go for broke.  Between follow-ups from an elective surgery I had in 2013, an athlete with tendonitis, and a daughter who made a couple of trips to the emergency room (she is fine now), we reached the deductible in October and the cap in November.

I myself met my personal out-of-pocket cap at the end of October.  I began to brainstorm all of the procedures and tests that I have put off because they weren't "essential."  I started November with a string of appointments that continued through the end of the year. (One of my first "unnecessary" appointments revealed the "bump that shall not be named.") Then in November, the whole family reached the cap and I began scheduling things for my children, too.  Throw Christmas into the mix and December was a total blur!  There was no time for blogging.

Christmas itself was a blur.  I did a lot of the shopping for my dad, or went with him when he shopped; I sent out all of his Christmas cards (with letter!); I did my own Christmas shopping, baking and wrapped presents for 12 people.  I could tell you how many hours were spent wrapping alone, but that would only be whining, and I don't want to do that. While it was a total blur, it was wonderful.  I hope yours was fantastic, too.

In that crazy blur, something had to give, so I never actually got around to finishing my ornament garland (go figure).  However, I did put it up, as it was.

You can find my post on how to make your own ornament garland on-the-cheap here.

Here's to a Wonderful and Prosperous New Year for all!