I am really not an asshole, I promise

3.31.2012

Stolen from Views from the Couch

The above picture has nothing to do with this post. It's just awesome. If you are offended, then you should come on over and have a drink with me. I fucking love people who are easily offended. (see what I did there? hahaha yeah, I totally laugh at my own stupid jokes)

Actually this is a bloggy housekeeping/I'm a moron post. You may have noticed that I'm a huge asshole about replying to comments. That's why I have the disclaimer about how we're secretly best friends on my comment form. 

But actually I do reply to a lot of comments, it's just so long after the fact that I know no one knows about the replies but me and the hard-core minions who hang around for days and days to see if I replied. Those are level 4 minions, which I think technically qualifies them as henchmen. 

Anyway, I finally realized that if I just reply to the goddamn email notification then you guys get the reply directly. I AM A FUCKING IDIOT. 

So my new policy is to just reply to comments by email. So if you expect a reply, make sure your email is hooked up to your profile. Just don't be surprised if it takes me awhile or possibly never. I love all your comments and wish I could reply to all of them, but I'm just not that awesome. I need a lot more alcohol in my system before I can be that productive.

Ha, you think I'm joking. How cute. :)






Liquid Gold

3.30.2012

Orange blossom honey, sourwood, and gallberry



You know how every few months there seems to be a new health fad? Acai. Pomegranate. Algae. Oil expressed from the leaves of a plant that only grows on Mars. Stuff like that. It's almost always expensive and almost always promises to infuse you with the power of a thousand burning suns.* (*results not typical)

I am of the mind that natural stuff may or may not be good for you. It really depends on what that particular food item is. Just because it comes out of the ground (or the sky, or the sea, or the teat of a mermaid) doesn't mean it's going to save your life.

I'm not going to tell you that honey will save your life. Although, if you find yourself with a grievous, infected, seriously gross wound and the antibacterial properties of honey happen to save your life, I won't argue. Or if you have a horrific cold or allergies and honey spares you the pain, that's nice too. You know what, here's a list of everything The Mayo Clinic says honey is good for: burns, diabetes, herpes, hypertension, plaque/gingivitis, and wound healing. Go here for the full article and a list of traditional uses of honey. And here's another article on all the stuff honey is thought to be good for, which may or may not be proven, from Wikipedia.


I used to hate honey. But, I had only had the stuff that comes in the bears, from the grocery store. Did you know that most grocery store honey is not really honey? It's just sweet nectar, no pollen or any of the other stuff that makes honey good for you. No wonder it tastes like crap... it's basically just sugar syrup.

Beekeeping is apparently a big deal in the South. Not long after I moved here, I tried local, raw honey. And angels sang, and the gods nodded with approval. Liquid gold, ambrosia... My god, if you've never had raw local honey, you are depriving yourself of one of the delights of life on Earth. And all the different varieties... it's as changeable as grapes and wine.


So, yes. I am in love with honey. It's makes me happy. It tastes like sensuality, like the sweet fruits of the bee's hard labor, like the essence of blooming flowers in the lazy summer heat. It tastes like life. 

Raw honey is unpasteurized. Pasteurization (when honey is heated to sanitize it) makes it "safe," but it destroys all of the good bits. Also, did you know honey never expires? It solidifies, but doesn't ever go bad. Oh and don't give raw honey to babies under a year old.

All this honey you are seeing in the pictures is the product of a moment of weakness as I browsed the online offerings of a local Georgia beekeeper, Blue Ridge Honey Company. This was frankly a bit expensive but worth every penny, and I feel like I got way more than my money's worth. Here's what I got:
  • Wildflower, with the comb. This honey is delightful, not too sweet, a very light and classic tasting honey. The comb is edible, but it's wax so I don't recommend it unless you want to be picking wax out of your teeth. I like the comb in the jar cause the little bits that break off give it a bit of texture.
  • Tupelo. This is a Southern varietal that is highly sought after. Personally, it's not my favorite, but it does have a uniquely sweet flavor that I can see why people love.
  • Sourwood. This one's darker, quite rich but not overpowering. One of my favorites! You can see in the closeups that it has an almost rose tint to it. Really beautiful!
  • Orange Blossom. Waaaaay too sweet for me to eat plain, but it's good in tea and coffee.
  • Gallberry. Another classic-tasting honey, medium amber, light and sweet.
  • Purple Starthistle. A beautiful honey, with an unusual, complex, mildly sweet flavor.
  • Blackberry. My absolute FAVORITE. This stuff I could eat by the spoonful! Like the starthistle, it's unusual and complex, but this one has an almost otherworldly quality to it that I just can't define. Of all of these, this is the one I reach for first, but I don't like to use it with anything that will overpower the taste, because it's so good. I am seriously considering buying a jug of this stuff, because I know I'll always want more. Try it, you won't regret it!
Sourwood, slightly rose. Gallberry, classic amber. Orange Blossom, very light yellow.
I should say that this post is in no way sponsored by Blue Ridge Honey Company or anyone else. I was just so impressed with the quality, prices, and with their range that I feel comfortable recommending them. Shipping is a bit expensive, but honey is pretty heavy stuff. All their honey is raw and minimally processed, so you know you're getting good, healthy honey. 

My favorite ways to eat honey are either on a grapefruit, or topping plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (I like Fage brand). And my favorite non-food use for honey is as a hair mask. Mix 1 part honey to 6 parts water, apply to hair, wrap your head up in plastic wrap, and leave it on as long as you can stand. Preferably at least an hour. I usually leave it on for two before rinsing. Makes your hair unbelievably soft, and the results actually last! Supposedly water causes honey to release minimal amounts of peroxide, which may lighten your hair, but I've never noticed that.

So? What do you think? Do you like honey? What varieties do you like?


Air Traffic Controllers Are Much Happier Now

3.28.2012

Remember when I did this post and I reassured you that you did not mistakenly drop acid in your morning mojito, I mean coffee? Well, once again, you have not accidentally ingested anything.

Me before a moment of psychosis. Hair is healthy and brownish, with a red henna sheen:

No, I'm not a space alien. Why do you ask?
Go put some sunglasses on.

Step one: Have a normal, unassuming, non-ominous morning. Step two: Get ready for shower. Step three: Spy an old bleach kit hiding under the sink. Step four: Call husband at work, crying because your hair is toxic-runoff orange:

Is that a smirk? What the hell??

It took FOUR bleach processes to get my hair to a shade that wouldn't signal an airplane. By some miracle, my hair stayed healthy! Actually, not a miracle. I soaked my hair in coconut oil every time I bleached it; smeared the bleach right over the oil. I only left the bleach on for 10-15 minutes each time, and I waited at least a week between processes. Plus my hair was super healthy to begin with. But seriously, I never EVER thought I'd get rid of the henna orange. HOWEVER:

Me minutes after realizing I no longer looked like something the EPA would quarantine
I used Elumen, which is some kind of German sorcery. Sorcery the consistency of jello. It's kind of hard to find and it's meant for salons, but HOLY CRAP is this stuff awesome!!! It's non-damaging; it uses magnets or magic or something to color your hair. I could not be happier. Actually, I believe the word is relieved.

Okay here's a less freaky picture:

I am actually naturally blonde, but as I've gotten older it's darkened to a lightish brown. I've dyed my hair pretty much every color, including the colors that come with names like blue lake 40. No I have no idea if that's a real color. Sounds good though, right?

So, tonight I'm picking a winner for the giveaway! Are you all excited??? I hope so, cause I'm pretty stoked. And, make sure you check out Jacquie at Life Lived Gracefully, cause she's gonna have a pretty awesome giveaway in the next few days! And I do mean awesome. But she swore me to secrecy, so I can't tell you unless you profess your love for me in eight languages. Those are my conditions. They are non-negotiable.

Je t'aime!

The Monster and the Ladies (a crafty fairytale)

3.26.2012


Time for an update on the Monster, and for you to meet some awesome women! But first off, tomorrow is the LAST DAY you can enter the anniversary Craft Pack Giveaway. So be sure to check out that post to enter!

I've made four more stripes since the last granny stripe update. That's not too bad considering that I'm so stressed over school that I feel like my eyeballs are going to explode all over my mountain of research. The crochet is just kind of just going, nothing spectacular, no frogging and very little swearing. I don't work on it every day. But, I do think about it every day. Mostly cause it sits on the floor next to the couch and stares at me all judgmental-like when I'm not working on it.

A lot of you have asked for patterns for the granny stripe. I used this pattern from Attic24. It's the best one I found. I didn't figure it out right away though; I had to make a bunch of test squares before I really got it. Trial and error. Here's a closeup. I think you can really see the judgment in the stitches: 

So, I want you to meet some smart, creative women that I am incredibly lucky to know in real life! This isn't a sponsor post; I just love these girls and want you to get to know them too!

This is Jacquie, of A Life Lived Gracefully. I've known her for almost twenty years, and she has been an endless inspiration to me. She's far more creative and artistic than I am, so go check out her blog. She talks about her knitting, sewing, cooking, and her life, which includes an ongoing battle with fibromyalgia. She's tough and she's crafty. Check her out!
This is Jessica of Philomath Momma. I introduced her here awhile ago, in this post. Her writing is so artistic and poetic; she's one of those very rare people who can really make you feel. She's a philomath and a momma, and under that is flowing river of mysticism. If you want to think deep thoughts and ruminate on the nature of life and love, visit her!

If you're a regular reader then you already know I'm a weirdo. But did you know we travel in packs? Well we do! Here's another one, and I'll let her introduce herself: "Hi! I'm Amberly, and I have weird thoughts. I blog about them, since others might also have weird thoughts (please, God, I hope so). I also include food, gardening, and my cats! Join me and my crazy (sometimes fun) ramblings!" Her blog is called Amberly Has Thoughts, and it's still pretty new so go check it out and cheer her on. Her latest post was a discussion about some naughty fun, so yeah, Enjoy!

Be sure to visit these three ladies! I vouch for both their craziness and their awesomeness. And don't forget about the giveaway, there's only one day left!



Books Are Brain Food, part the First.

3.24.2012



I'm a bibliophile. Straight-up, hard core. I love the way a book feels in your hands, its weight, the texture of the cover and of the paper, and the sound the pages make, like rustling birds. I love the way ink rests on top of a page, and how if you look very closely you can see the tiny ridges where the letters meet the paper. That close, paragraphs start to look like terrain maps. I love indexes, footnotes, and author's notes. I love authors who break the rules and I love authors who are clearly more intelligent than I am. I love books, I love the Word.

I didn't really plan on blogging about my book fetish, but hey if you've read this far rather than simply closing me then maybe you're interested. Or maybe this is just hiding the porn you've got in the other tab until whoever leaves the room. Or maybe you're holding out hope that this post will turn into a tutorial for how to make thimbles or something. In that case, it's at the very end. After all the stuff about books.

The video above is about Shakespeare & Company, and I hijacked it from Her Library Adventures, which has turned into one of my favorite blogs. I love everything about this video! So Inspiring. It's in Paris, so yeah. Automatic +85. Cozy bohemian bookstore, +20. Gorgeous girl with skin like an angel's butt, +10. Loves aspiring writers enough to employ AND house them, +400034235jsfd92. That's a whole lot, for those of you not versed in the integers of Awesome.

Stay tuned for Part the Second, wherein I talk about the tomes of spiritual glitteryness and of trashy awesomeness that have severely impacted my brain. In a good way. Cause they're books.

And in my mind, books can do no wrong.

Oh shit, I forgot about the thimble tutorial. Sorry. My bad.

Also, I have got to stop mentioning porn in this blog. You would not believe some of the searches that are bringing people here. I'd tell you, but it's like herpes. If I say it out loud, it'll just spread.

Okay a clue then. A puzzle! Yay! I love puzzles! WOOO! Here you go: Granny stripe.

Yeah. Eww.

Wow I managed to turn a post about the beauty of books into a guess-the-fetish game. I AM SUPER TALENTED.

I should've stopped writing 17 sentences ago. I apologize. Also, because there are apparently endless ways to follow now, if you need one more besides all the ones up there, I'm now also on Hellocotton. It's pretty awesome,  AND I WAS FEATURED ON THEIR FRONT PAGE two days ago but I didn't get a screencap cause I'm an asshole, so you'll just have to take my word for it! But I haven't decided yet if it's better than Bloglovin'. What do you guys think?

So yeah. Follow me so I can sleep at night. Also, if you're here for some porn, you are bound to be disappointed.

Probably. You never know.


The Pink Storm Cave

3.23.2012

Crappy iPhone pic.
Watson is a giant wuss. He's neurotic and paranoid in general, so when something truly traumatic goes down he turns into a quivering, cowering ball of whine.

Enter an afternoon thunderstorm. "OH DEAR GOD HELP US WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE," says Watson.

So the man, given his unfailingly sweet and brilliant nature, figured Watson might like a cave to hide in. He puts up one of the camping tents in our room, climbs in, and all three dogs immediately jump inside to hide from the thunder. "It can't get us in here, guys," whispers Watson.

Molly makes the softest pillow.

And everything is made all better. Plus the tent is pink, and when everything is bathed in pink light, storms are 30% less terrifying. It's true, Science proved it.


Change, Stress, and Broken Dishes (and a Printable!)

3.21.2012

Hmm. What's going on around here? 

Those of you who are super-observant may have noticed a change to the blog! Yep. It got a fancy-pants makeover courtesy of Natalie of Fifth of August Designs. She did a great job so if you need to slap some awesome on your blog, she is the gal to talk to!

Change is the theme for me these days. I'm hovering on the brink of graduation, my brains all soupy-milkshake-mush sloshing around inside my skull from the endless hours of reading and writing writing writing. Dare I say it? I'm aaaaaaalmost done with the thesis. I'm writing the apex of my argument right now, then the conclusion, then mash it all together into a cohesive whole, then formatting (uuuugggggghhhhhhhh that's gonna suck some serious melons), then submit, then defend. Then.... graduate? Then... change.

Change is in the wind! And I'm so excited to go on to the next phase. I've got stuffs in the pipeline of course, but who knows what exactly will happen? 

In honor of Change (transmutation, shift, distortion, metamorphosis, argh... the thesaurus and I are a bit too chummy these days) I made up this pretty little printable for you! You know, while I was procrastinating. Open it up in its own window and it *should* print 7" x 5," card-sized. If you want a bigger version just let me know. 

One nice thing about writing my thesis is I hardly ever have to actually go to school. Alas, tomorrow I have to go stare at the tops of some undergraduate heads while they sit, hunched and sweating, over their midterm. Let's hope no one cries this time. Ha. Who am I kidding? I love it when they cry. Joking!!! Or am I? Hmmm.

Oh stop it. I'm actually very nice. I even smile a lot and console the terrified ones. So what if I'm the one who scared them? I'm nice, damnit. 

I think I need to break something. Do you ever feel like all you need is to just smash the absolute shit out of some innocent piece of pretty crockery? 

Enjoy the print. I'm sure there will be more. In fact, I'm betting the quantity of stuff I make for you is directly proportional to the degree of stress I am under. So yeah, there'll be more.

I'm gonna go "drop" a glass.




Cure for the Common Monday!

Faceted Clay Necklace Tutorial

3.20.2012


Last week I guest posted over at Craftionary, and shared this little tutorial. I came across a similar tutorial over at Dismount Creative, so check that one out too!

I really love this necklace because its simplicity, asymmetry and interesting colors make it modern and unusual. Plus, BONUS, it's super easy to make!

But before we get started, make sure you check out the awesome Craft Pack Giveaway! It closes on 3/27, so follow Scissors and Steam and visit the post to enter:

Now on to the necklace!

You will need:
  • Oven-hardening clay in whichever colors you like. I used Premo Sculpey in Fluorescent Yellow, Turquoise, and Ecru. And, I guess an oven.
  • Very sharp knife. I used a craft scalpel. (also bandaids and the hospital on speed dial)
  • Sculpey Gloss Glaze
  • A brush to apply the glaze
  • Needle or other skinny thing to pierce the beads
  • A strong fine thread. I used DMC tatting thread in Ecru.


I used Sculpey clay in Fluorescent Yellow, Turquoise, and Ecru. I like the combination of the two brights with the light neutral. 


First you need to condition the clay. Break off a piece, and start working it in your hands. Bend it, smoosh it, twist it. The idea is to warm it up so it's nice and pliable. 

Once it's soft, start rolling out oval beads. I used 3 turquoise, 3 ecru, and 2 fluorescent yellow beads for the finished necklace. But, I suggest making more than you need, because these pretty little beasts will roll away, probably under the oven or into a drain, or possibly into the black hole you didn't know was hiding under your craft table.


HINT. Once you make the beads, stick them in the fridge for an hour or two. If they're cold, they'll be much easier to cut! Now get out your sharp scary knife and CAREFULLY start slicing off bits. OF THE BEADS. Not your fingers. 


I like making random cuts so the facets end up asymmetrical, but you can cut them however you like. If you accidentally cut too much, just stick the clay back together and try again! Super easy.


 After you make all the facets, tap the edges down very gently to get rid of any flecks of extra clay.  


Now get your skinny metal thingy to pierce the beads. I used jewelry findings, but you could just as easily use a long needle. I pierced mine at angles to emphasize the asymmetry. Jam it all the way through, but be careful not to mush your facets. Make sure the hole is big enough to pass a needle through.

Now cook the beads according to the directions on the clay  package. Mine said 30 minutes per 1/4" thickness at 275 degrees. I took the tiny yellow beads out after 20 minutes, and cooked the rest for about 35. If you overcook them they'll turn brown and gross. Not that I know, or anything. Okay maybe I do.


Once the beads have cooled, get your glaze and the brush. Don't shake the bottle too much! You'll get bubbles that will make you absolutely crazy trying to get rid of. Not that I did that. Okay maybe I did. Are you seeing the pattern here? I make the mistakes so you don't have to.


I put the beads on the findings to do the glazing, but you don't really have to. It was just easier to keep the wet edges from smudging. Paint the glaze on fairly thin. Once it's dry (about 10 minutes for me) paint another coat. Let them sit for awhile to dry completely.


Now get out your thread. I used DMC tatting thread in ecru. It's tougher and finer than regular thread. Cut a longish piece, maybe 2 or 3 feet. Better to cut longer than too short! Now tie a heavy knot in one end. I used triple overhand knots for this; that seemed to be enough to keep them from slipping through the beads. Now slide one of your heavier beads onto the thread and make sure it doesn't slip off. This will be the dangly end, and also the part that holds the necklace on.

Now, for the rest of the beads, it's up to you where you put them. I wanted mine uneven, so I spaced them somewhat randomly. Put a triple knot (or whatever you need for your beads) wherever you want a bead to rest. You don't need to put a knot on both sides of the beads. 


Since this necklace clasps in the front, you'll have to do the opposite with the knots and beads for the other side. Just make sure you check the length as you go.

For the clasp, tie a large looped knot. You'll loop it over the large first bead in order to wear the necklace. It's so cool; there's no fumbling with clasps behind your neck! If you are worried about the knots slipping, you can dab a bit of super glue on them. That's it! So easy, and so pretty, don't you think?




Tornadoes are dicks.

3.18.2012

This one's just throwing a little extra "fuck you" in there. Dick.


Like, for real. Tornadoes are assholes.

I'm from California. We have earthquakes, mainly. I was 11 during the big '89 quake, and we were pretty much on top of the epicenter. We were driving home from the art class my Mom was teaching. We pulled over, checked the car, and went about our day.

We also have mudslides, firestorms, and floods. More than once we were forcibly evacuated due to wildfire. We flooded on New Year's Eve in 2005, and I took a canoe out my front door. Yes, really. I just spent forever whole minutes trying to find the pictures. No luck, sorry.

These have formed a gang. They're thugs, really.


The point is none of that is really scary to me. You always hear people say that you're never afraid of the natural disasters you grew up with, and I guess that's true. Because just the vague possibility of fucking tornadoes on the horizon has the ability to immediately inject my heart with enough adrenaline to jumpstart an elephant. Luckily I live in tornado country now, so I get to experience this often.

So this morning when a thunderstorm freaked out the dogs and we all had to get up, and we started hearing the "freight train" noise that Travis says is what tornadoes sound like, and he's telling me to put my shoes on and get my Mom, I... well, let's just say I still haven't had any coffee. Caffeine at this point is unnecessary.

No, there wasn't a tornado. But what a way to start my Sunday.


Image sources here and here.

Omens and Prayers

3.17.2012

Travis and I bought some prayer flags when we were in North Carolina for our anniversary. We've tried to hang them a few times, but you're supposed to put them up on favorable, sunny, breezy mornings, and we were thwarted by gloom, rain, and sleepiness. But today was such a perfect morning, and according to the Dharma Calendar it was favorable. It wasn't really breezy when we first went out, but as soon as we started hanging them, a nice wind kicked up.


The prayers are carried on the wind, which is why you're supposed to hand them on breezy days. Plus, today is St. Patrick's Day, and we're both semi-Irish, so more luck for us! And double-plus, yet another happy omen; can you guess what this is?

Luna Moth! I've never seen one in the wild before, and this one camped out above our front door. She's been there for at least a day. Did you know luna moths don't have mouths? They only live for a week, and they spend that time mating and laying their eggs. In some areas, they're endangered due to habitat destruction. My friend Tami actually raised some from eggs!

The dogs got baths yesterday. Molly LOVES being bathed and brushed. This is her "I'm adorable and you cannot resist hugging me" face.

Tiny yellow flower growing in the shadow, reaching for the sun:

Do you have any lucky traditions in your house? 



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