Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Geek at Heart

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Happy spring y'all!!

As warmer weather approaches my mind turns toward fashion, and I'm obsessed with a few things at Modcloth right now. I feel like Modcloth had some growing pains over the past couple of years (probably largely due to the income issues most retailers were having), and I was definitely one who had qualms about the Walmart corporation overtaking them..but I feel like they actually are the same retro-vintage loving shop I've always adored.

Anyway... remember how I was saying I wanted some new tees for summer?? Modcloth is speaking to my nerdy, earth loving soul.

I'm dying over a few of these, but National Parks are for Lovers, Nurture Nature, and Otter Space are all in my shopping basket right now...

Woooo spring!!!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Most Magical Place

 It's that time of year again... when I'm planning Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) and waiting (im)patiently for my FastPass+ window to open. Tales of a Disney addict!

Honestly, what started out as a one-time adventure, has blossomed into a yearly tradition for my daughter Lu and I (if you've been reading this blog for a while...my tiny Lu will be 21 this year!) This summer we will once again head south to Orlando, to spend time with Mickey.  

When I look back at all of our photos I get pretty nostalgic. We've had some awesome summers. We usually pay the little bit extra and stay in the park now. (And this year when money was a little tight, Lu pitched in to pay for her half so we could still make our trip! It will be a little bit shortened, but still just as fun!)

We never look in the right direction!!
Part of our planning, outside of how to get there, where to stay, and what to ride, includes what to pack! You might notice our cute "Mickey-esque" ears in the first pic. We made those ourselves! That's been a bit of a tradition too the past few trips, and we each have more than 10 pair now (so many! Stay tuned for a display craft for your Mouse ears coming soon!)

Last year we bought tees (including the one I'm wearing in the above photo from Shine Design Tees on Etsy. It's an adorable design. Note that I did have to do some t-shirt surgery to "fit" my size and shape!)

This year we will be taking a side trip before Mickey and need to pack light. Thus, I'm going to forgo my usual ear crafting and settle on one or two pairs for the duration.

The other Disney essentials on my shopping list (so far!) I'm linking below... I've really got my heart set on the "new" rose-gold sequined Minnie ears, and I ADORE this cute Disney-themed phone case. I'm eating low-carb these days and losing some pounds, so I'm crossing my fingers for at least one or two new Disney tees too, and of course comfy walking shoes are a MUST in Disney. My favorites are these Skechers Go Walk, or these Go Walk Joy are cute too.  Speaking of shoes, I have a coupon code for Stage at this link: 40% Off a Single Pair of Shoes - Use Code ASHOES

I've been working on a simplified packing list and this is what I've got so far:

I really love vacation planning...I really hate vacation "paying" though, ha! It's all worth it for the memories though!

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

My New Cashmerette Patterns

I think I'm finally a *little* bit into the swing of things...

I saw Cashmerette patterns for the first time on Carolyn's blog a couple of weeks ago. One cool thing about being out of the loop for so long is that everything is new for me! Some things I've kept up with--I continued my Burda and Ottobre Woman subs for the majority of my hiatus, and checked in on Colette patterns and Hotpatterns regularly too.

Still, that's relatively little exposure to the sewing world. I'm sure there are many things I missed and many things that changed. New pattern companies that cater to curvier folks was a fun surprise though!

There are several nice patterns in the line, but here are the four I chose:

Upton Dress: (I also got the sleeve expansion which is shown on these models). 

 Concord T-Shirt:

I'm interested in trying these--the expanded cup sizing (size 12-28 and cup C-H) is inspiring! I am completely unbiased too--other than Carolyn's lovely garment, I haven't had time to look these up online. I think I will just remain spoiler-free until the time comes to sew one up .

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, September 18, 2017

DIY: Watercolor Journal

Hello friends! What have you all been up to the past...three (four?) years?? I'll save the what I've been doing with my life post for another day and get right down to basics. 

This journal.

Around last Christmas, I found myself in need of a new creative outlet. I had spent the previous 3.5 years working on my master's degree (and traveling the world!), which didn't leave much time for creative pursuits. (I haven't sewn a single piece of clothing in YEARS, outside of a t-shirt refashion this summer!)

But in December, I graduated, and suddenly there it was. FREE TIME. I don't like to be idle. I like to learn and think and practice. I'm weird that way, and it's why I've always been such a good student. Rather than jump back into sewing, I wanted to learn something new. This all coincided with something else, a recent interest in pursuing more traditional art, inspired by a friend's participation in the month-long drawing challenge "Inktober" that takes place every October. 

I haven't drawn in YEARS. Well--I doodle. I'm a doodler. So if we count doodles, I've drawn since I could hold a pencil. But I had never considered my doodles "real drawing" or "real art" before, and for some reason I had this silly notion that I was too "old" to draw or learn something that I should have pursued as a young person "if I was ever going to be good". 

NEWSFLASH: Everyone can do art. It's never too late to learn something new, and that includes drawing and painting. The pursuit of making art is not about being "good". It's about making something and enjoying the process. That's what you used to do as a child, with crayons and pencils and paint and a fresh sheet of paper, and somehow that simple enjoyment became eclipsed by the need to be "good". 

I didn't do Inktober last year. I was still struggling with the "I'm not good enough" mindset and I was smack in the middle of writing and editing my thesis. But it niggled there, in the back of my mind, the memories of drawing and painting, an after school art lesson or two from my art teacher (when my parents probably didn't really need to spend the money). 

I bought a sketchbook and some pencils. Then I bought a few more. Then I bought a different sketchbook because I realized I didn't really love the first one. I started watching YouTube tutorials on drawing and sketching and fell in love with one adorable artist named Fran Meneses (frannerd on YouTube) who used a lot of Copic markers and watercolors. I had never learned watercolor; in school we painted with acrylic and oil. Watercolors were those long trays of ovals with a skinny plastic brush and not a lot of payoff. But what Fran was using was different and I was intrigued. I switched my YouTube viewing from sketching and drawing to watercolor painting. 

My friends, I was hooked. 

Since December, I've amassed a nice collection of watercolors and sketchbooks (still searching for the holy grail), signed up for Skillshare, bought half a dozen books, and watched a million tutorials. 

I totally suck. It's the most fun I've had in years. 

Which brings me to this very brief and non-tutorial-y DIY: That beautiful sketchbook up there. 

Over the past several months I've discovered a few things about my watercolor-loving self: I prefer transparent watercolors (Schminke might be my favorite) and hot press paper. The Schminke I've got covered (after saving up forever) but the hot press paper CAN. NOT. BE. FOUND. in a journal form. It's become really important to always have a sketchbook or journal with me, and carrying around full size paper pads or blocks isn't practical. 

So I made my own. I have this Cinch binding machine, from a Hobby Lobby gift card and 50% off coupon two years ago: 

It's  on the pricy side (about $79 on Amazon), but if you love making papercrafts and photo journals or the like, it might be worth watching for a sale. It was REALLY easy to use. 

I used this pad of Arches hot press paper in 9x12 sheets: 

There are 12 sheets in a pad (for about $10 on Dick Blick's website); I cut each sheet in half for a 6x9 finished book size. I kept the paper pad's back cover too, which is a nice piece of firm cardboard, and cut it in half to make the journal covers. 

I used the Anna Griffin Garden Party scrapbook paper pad in 12x12 size (also purchased at Hobby Lobby for 50% off) to cover the cardboard pieces: 

Here's the inside of the covers, with a coordinating print: 

Binding the book was a cinch (ba dum tissss). No but really, it was easy. The Cinch machine punches the holes (even through that thick, scrapbook covered cardboard cover!!) and has a little hole-holding doo-hickey that ensures all of your holes are aligned. (If you want a tutorial on using the Cinch, let me know and I'll do one!) The side of the machine has hooks to making placing all the pages and covers on the O-wire simple, and the back of the machine has a "cincher" that squeezes the O-wires closed. 

Voila. finished sketchbook. 

It's still empty, but it's only 48 hours old. I'll confess I'm still getting past the "not good enough" mentality and it can be a struggle to put pen or brush to paper sometimes, especially GOOD paper. 

On the other hand, what's a sketchbook without art. That pad of Arches has sat in my craft drawer for going on 8 months, untouched, because of fear of failure. Here's the thing though: this is mine. No one but me ever has to see it. It was made for me, by me, and I'm the only one who ever has to peek inside. 

I may never show you my finished pages. But I will finish them. 

And that's the point. 

Friday, September 09, 2016

Australia. It's real.

And all these years I thought it was just a myth.

As you may remember from my last post (last year!), I am part of an incredible scholastic opportunity, a master's education program called Global Field Program (through Project Dragonfly and Miami University).

This year my studies took me to the literal other end of the earth: Queensland, Australia.

Firstly...Australia is every bit as magical as you would expect it to be. It's beautiful, it's rough, it's hot, it's dry, it's cold, it's humid--it's all things and it was quite incredible to experience the unrelenting loveliness of its surroundings and its people. 

A large portion of my time in "Oz" as it's colloquially called, was spent in the Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville--what an experience to be able to sleep with the occupants of the Great Barrier Reef! At one point we were even allowed to snorkel right alongside those aquarium occupants (to familiarize ourselves with data collection instruments when later we would venture out onto the Great Barrier Reef). 

One of my favorite experiences was the day we spent at Mungalla Station, now an educational center about the aboriginal people and their culture. I was surprised (although after, I was surprised at my surprise!) by my instant connection with the people we met there. I don't know what I was expecting...someone "foreign" perhaps, but what I found was a group of native people who were just like me. Growing up in the Cherokee Nation and of Cherokee heritage, I have often felt an instant kinship to other Native American people in my travels, but last year this also translated to the native Hawaiian people I met. And, again, in Australia, one of the only times I felt calm and at peace, "okay" because I was with people "like me", was at Mungalla Station. These experiences have made me very interested in personal connections to place and culture--maybe something for further study (because apparently I'm never going to stop going to school!)

When tasked with choosing a destination for my final GFP conservation trip, I knew Australia was going to be in my number one position. I fell in love with the ocean and marine life many years ago, and it's also one of those places where I'm instantly at peace. One day I will live close enough I can step onto the sand any day I need that soulful rejuvenation. 

The Great Barrier Reef is everything I had hoped it would be. It is beautiful and wild and so so so far out from land! 

It is also filled with creatures you don't get to see every day in Oklahoma. 

Our last stop was Magnetic Island..where these beautiful animals live. Definitely a highlight and something I can't imaging being topped in any other experience on an Earth Expedition!

Unless of course, it's having the opportunity to see this little guy:

Yes, that's a platypus, and it's something of a rarity to spot one in the wild (and get good footage! I was blessed!)

Australia is a long, long way from home. I knew that each and every day. But, the sweet generous spirit of her people, and the gorgeous landscapes and amazing wildlife are something everyone should have in their bucket list.

Even though I can cross it off of mine, I might secretly add it back. For reasons.