23 March 2017

Macra-May-I




Hey y'all - I'm back and I have a new project that I tried this week! For those of you who may not have noticed, macramé is making a HUGE comeback and it is amazing. My sister-in-law Tasmin and I have been obsessing over this for quite some time now. I mean, just look at how beautiful and versatile macramé can be!!! 







 (all of these photos were found by doing a Google search)

(also, for any of you that are interested in macrame and want to see more beautiful options, 
follow my weaving Pinterest board, or just follow me on Pinterest in general!) 

For Christmas, Tasmin gave me this macramé book and this macramé cord so I could actually make my own wall hangings and other beautiful projects she knows me so well. So after I finished my gemstone soap, I knew my next project had to be a macramé wall hanging. Here is what I used for my project:

Macramé Pattern Book
Wooden Dowel
Cotton Macramé cord
Twine for hanging the dowel
Scissors
thumb tacks - to hang the dowel




 First, I wrapped and tied my twine around the ends of my dowel, then I hung the dowel on my wall using thumbtacks. I hung this on a spot where I knew I would not hang it permanently, but in a place where I could sit on the floor and work on the project.


Next, I cut 14 strands of cord at my desired length - for this project, each strand measured from fingertip to fingertip. Then I attached each strand to my dowel using a lark's head knot. 


Now, I did not have a specific pattern I was following for this project, which may have been a bad idea. Because I did not know really what I wanted, it took me a lot longer to finish this project than it should have. I was constantly trying new knots in different patterns and then taking them out. I wanted to try a variety of knots, but I just didn't know how I wanted this project to end up. If I had a pattern to follow, I could have easily finished in a few hours - I found most of the knots to be pretty simple. But, no matter how many times I added and removed knots, I always kept my first few rows as an alternating pattern of square knots. 



Regardless of how long it took me or how frustrated I got at not knowing what I wanted, I found the book to be very helpful. I also used some of the posts from my Pinterest board as guidance, and I also found this video to be very informative and easy to follow.  Here's a couple of tips I would suggest based on my first experience with macramé:

  • If you are making a wall hanging, try using thinner cord. I found that the cord I used was great and thick, but as you can see in the photos, it was a little difficult to make it lay flat once it had been knotted. 
  • If you want to make a hanging planter, I would definitely recommend using this cord- the thickness will work great not only for the knots but also keep it sturdy and capable of holding a heavier pot
  • When making your project, make your strands a little longer than expected. Overall, my length worked well but I had to change my desired pattern several times because a few of my strands got shorter than the rest and I was not able to continue making the same pattern I wanted. 
  • Have fun! Macramé is so versatile with knot patterns for beginners through experts - make this project your own and don't be afraid to try some more challenging knots; they may be easier than you think! 




I had such a fun time with this new project, and I am really glad I finally gave it a try! My first hanging is certainly not perfect, but I still love it. And even with taking out my pattern so many times,  I found macramé to be very relaxing. I will definitely be trying this again soon. 

What are some new project you have done recently? Tell us about your experiences with trying new things, expanding your skills, and stepping out of your comfort zone.


Until next time,
xo Kate 

20 March 2017

Seven Full Days!!!

Happy first day of spring everyone! 

Going along with the theme of this month
trying new things
I, like my sister Kate, turned to Pinterest to find inspiration

I feel like my Pinterest is not used to the fullest
I save things all the time to my boards
Edit and delete old pins from them once in a while 
to make sure that what is there is really what I want
BUT
I never really pull from it for the everyday inspiration

so...
I thought
What better way to put my Pinterest to the test
and try something completely new
then to put myself through seven days of Pinterest. 

Yipes

I chose seven different boards on my Pinterest page.

To further the test of my boards and their actual application to my real life 
I asked my husband to choose seven pins he wanted me to try out
(That way I couldn't just choose the seven easiest and most applicable :) 

So say hello to the seven pins from seven boards that my husband most wanted me to try

I give you...














One a day for the next whole week.
So stay tuned.
I will be checking back next week to let you all know how I did

and now...
Seven
Full 
Days

Wish me luck!!
(I'm so gonna need it!!)

-Margeaux


16 March 2017

My 20 Seconds of Insane Courage

Why, hello, again. Remember that one time last week when I told you all I was going to step out of my comfort zone and try something new? Well, guess what -- you’re going to be so proud of me -- I tried TWO new things. That’s right. Two.*

* Technically, you could say that I tried 3 new things this week, but the third one was forced upon me, and it’s not something I wanted to try. I know, now you need to know what it was. Well, to satisfy your curiosity, my husband and I have been having a lot of car trouble the last few days, one thing after another, so we have now forcibly experienced the lovely frustrations of getting our two cars repaired at the same time. Oh, what joy. But, in all reality, we have been truly blessed that things aren’t worse than they are.


Anyways, back to business.


New Thing Numero Uno: publicly displaying my art

As I mentioned last week, one of my passions and hobbies is art. Even though I’ve studied it and try to do it every day, I have this major hesitation when it comes to showing my art to other people. I don’t know why, really. Probably because I don’t want it to feel like I’m boasting  or anything like that, and, in all reality, my art is pretty average; there are plenty of people who are waaay better than me. I really just make art because I enjoy doing it, not because I want others to see it.


Well, a friend in my ward is getting ready to have her first baby --yay!-- and for her baby shower, I painted her a watercolor of this cute baby elephant and rabbit, like this:





She squealed with delight when she opened her gift and was so excited to hang it in her son’s nursery. And, she was amazed that I had painted the picture myself. To me, it was a pretty simple project; to her, it was amazing.


This last Friday, our church had a talent show, and as part of it, people could bring things to display as their talent (woodwork, published children’s books, sewing, and hand-made woodland fairy homes, to name a few). This friend I had painted the elephant for was in charge of getting people to sign up for the talent show. While talking with her one day, I asked how it was going and asked about the displaying aspect of it. Immediately, she lights up and asks, “Do you want to display something? Can I put you down for art?”


She was so excited and desperately needed more people to sign up, so I sheepishly agreed. When Friday rolled around, I took a few pieces to the talent show and set up. Here’s what I had:











Guys, most of these are super old, like high-school-projects old. A few of them are just sketches, too, things that I did for fun or for practice. But the cool thing is: no one else knew that (except my husband) :) I can’t tell you how many people came up to me throughout that night saying, “I had no idea you were an artist!” Well, I wouldn’t necessarily classify myself as an artist, but to them, that’s what I was. One lady even asked if I had considered selling my art, particularly my Starry Night replica.


Guys, I cannot tell you how good it felt to hear all these comments from others. Granted, I was a little embarrassed every time someone asked me about my art or gave me compliments (that’s something I need to work on: graciously accepting compliments), but it still felt good. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not posting all this so I can get more compliments, not by a long shot. Rather, I’m posting this so you can see a simple example of how stepping outside of your comfort zone can be a good thing.


Sharing my art with others was a slightly scary and slightly more uncomfortable thing. It’s intimidating to put your work out there for others to critique, but I’ll tell you what: showing my art has helped me. It’s let me see that people really do like what I do, and if they enjoy looking at good art as much as I do, maybe I can help bring them a little of that joy through my own work. It also encouraged me to keep doing what I love, to keep my skills sharp and to develop them further.


New Thing Numero Dos: editing a book


Most of you probably don’t know this, but I studied editing in college. Yup, I’m that nerd who loves to read and who loves grammar (although I do my best not to correct people). Over the years, I’ve done a lot of editing, mostly for papers, journals, and magazine articles, but this month, I was given the offer to edit a book. I’m not going to give specifics for privacy reasons, but this opportunity is pretty great!


However, it is a little out of my comfort zone. I have never worked on a project this big, and this is my first real freelance job where I’m my own boss. It’s also intimidating because obviously I want to do a good job and have my client be pleased with my edits, but if something goes wrong, it all falls on me. That’s fine and all- it’s a part of taking responsibility and being an adult (yikes!), but it doesn’t remove the intimidation.


In short, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. I’m trying by best, and hopefully that’s good enough. I know that trying something new and unfamiliar is scary, but it’s always worth it. And even if things don’t work out as you hoped, there is always something to learn from your experience, especially about yourself. Take a risk and live a little! Step out of the ordinary and discover yourself. You won’t regret it.


Thanks for listening 💙
-Bridget


13 March 2017

You're A Gem.




So this month, we are focusing on trying new things. I'll be honest, I forgot about choosing something new I wanted to try... but that is why we have Pinterest in the world! I have so many pins that are crafts or activities that I just save so I can refer to them later, so in order to pick something new to try, all I had to do was scroll through a couple of my Pinterest boards and find a pin. My first choice: gemstone soap!  I always think this looks so pretty and it seemed easy enough so I thought, "Heck, I can do that!"  Well, here is my experience with making gemstone soap, along with my own tips of what to do and what not to do. 

Before we get started, here is a little reggae-style love song titled "Gem" by Irie Souls to get you in the mood. Gotta love it!  



Okay! First thing's first - your materials. Here is what you'll need to make your own gemstone soap:



  • Clear glycerin soap (I bought a 2 lb. block from Hobby Lobby, which is about $10 without a coupon)
  • Soap Scents - I chose lavender and grapefruit
  • Soap Dye  - I bought a three-pack from Hobby Lobby for about $4 with the colors wine, gold, and orange
  • A knife
  • Mircowave-safe bowls
  • Disposable stirring utensil (I used a wooden skewer)
  • A 16oz clear plastic disposable cup (I just got the cheapest brand at Walmart  - you don't need anything fancy)
  • A large bowl with ice 

Once you have all of your materials, start by cutting your glycerin soap. For one batch of soap, I used two columns, which is a total of 8 squares. Once I got my 8 squares, I cut each of those into 4 pieces, for a total of 32 small soap cubes. 




Once you have your soap cut, divide it between your microwave-safe bowls. Use one bowl for each color or shade you would like in your gemstone. For each of mine, I ended up doing 4 shades, so I had 8 of my small cubes in 4 different bowls.

              Before I jump ahead, let me clarify a few things. When I made my soap, 
           I used like a 20 second, no word Buzzfeed video, so some of the steps 
            were not as clear as they should have been. If you want your gemstone 
         soap to not be a solid color but to blend gradually from light to dark, 
                then you cannot dump all of your soap in at once. So, the following steps 
              are based on the desire to have your colors be blended rather than solid. 

Okay. Now that you have your diced soap divided between your bowls, then heat your first bowl of soap in the microwave in 30 second intervals. The max time I needed to melt the soap was 45 seconds.  Once your soap is melted, then do the following:

  • add a few drops of your soap scent
  • add your soap coloring, if desired (if you want the gradual light to dark look, then I would recommend not adding any color to your first layer)
  • pour your soap into your clear plastic cup

Now, these next steps get a little tricky with getting the timing right. You want your soap to sit in the cup for a few minutes before you pour your next layer in. By waiting a few minutes, the soap starts to stiffen, so when you pour your next layer in, then it won't just all blend together. The tricky part is knowing when to pour in the next layer. By my third batch, I felt a little more comfortable and waited about 5 minutes in between layers, sometimes closer to 7 minutes. This worked, but be warned! I waited just a little too long, causing my soap to be distinctly layered rather than blended. Not only were they layered, but because the previous layer had dried before I poured in the new layer, the layers did not stick together once I started cutting it into gemstones later. 

I would recommend waiting about 3-4 minutes before pouring in your next layer.

So, after a couple of minutes of waiting, start preparing your next layer. Melt the soap in 30 second intervals, add your scent, then add your dye. Here is how much dye I added in each of my layers:

     For my pink soap
  • Layer 1: no dye
  • Layer 2: one drop of wine color
  • Layer 3: two drops of wine color
  • Layer 4: four drops of wine color
     For my yellow soap
  • Layer 1: no dye
  • Layer 2: one drop of gold color
  • Layer 3: one drop of gold, one drop of orange
  • Layer 4: two- three drops of orange


This photo is of all the pink shades I had; however, I would not recommend making all four shades at the same time. If you pour them all in right after the other, then they will blend together and your soap will be a solid color. If you let them sit out while you wait for each layer to stiffen, then the other layers will also stiffen while they sit in the bowls. So, I would simply recommend preparing each layer as you are ready to add it to your cup.

This is my pink and yellow batches after pouring in the second layer. See how they are layered but still have a little blending? That is what I was going for! 






















Continue this process of preparing your layer, adding it to your cup, and then letting it sit for a few minutes before adding the next layer until all of your layers are added.  Once you are done adding your layers, it is time for an ice bath! Add some water to your bowl of ice and then set your cups into the ice bath for 20 minutes. 


After the bath, remove your cups, wipe off the water, and work the soap out of the cup. You might be able to do so by loosening the suction between the cup and soap. I just used some scissors and cut my cup until I reached my soap, then I could tear off the cup from around the soap without actually cutting the soap with my scissors. 

Now you have some lovely soap blocks and it's time to start cutting them into gemstones! 


To start, I cut each soap block into quarters, so I ended up with four pieces of soap from each cup. Then, with each of those pieces, just start cutting off the edges at different angles. Be careful not to cut yourself!! 



I ended up with quite a bit of shavings at the end, but I didn't want them to be wasted. So I re-melted the shavings and then poured them into some silicone molds I had lying around the house. If you do the same, just pour the melted soap into your molds and put the molds in the fridge for a while - I ended up leaving them in for a couple of hours while I did other things. When the soap is solid, just pop it out of the mold - now none of the soap is wasted! 

Once your gemstones are shaped the way you'd like them to be, you are done! Just look at these beauties! They were so fun and easy (ish) to make, and you can make them too! Now it's your turn to scroll through those never-ending pins on your Pinterest boards and find something new that you want to try.  You don't have to be a professional, just have fun and go for it!  I already have my next new craft in mind, so come back next week to see what that will be! 



I wasn't sure what to do with all of this soap, so I decided to give some of it to my friends at church. I wrapped up some gemstones and attached a little note to each one that said "You're A Gem."  While it may have just been a silly play-on-words to go with the soap, just remember that it is actually true. Each of you are as beautiful, unique, and valuable as a gemstone. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, but also, don't be afraid to embrace your individuality.  Don't let anything or anyone stop you from doing what you want to do.  This life is meant to be enjoyed, and we are meant to have joy. Embrace who you are, love who you are, and do what makes you truly happy, even if it means stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Because...
You are a gem. 



xo, Kate

06 March 2017

Don't Knock It 'Til Ya Try It

spring, \ˈspriŋ\. Verb. 1. to come into being; 2. to stretch out in height. 

Spring is quickly approaching, and it's one of my favorite times of the year. There's just something about all of the tree blossoms, budding flowers, and warmer weather that make the days more enjoyable and more beautiful. Most days are not too hot and not too cold, and all you need is a light jacket! And if you think about it, the plant cycle of regrowing year after year is pretty dang amazing. 

Ok, that's all neat and stuff, but what does that have to do with the word definition at the top? Well, these are just a few of the definitions of spring, and I want to share a new perspective on this word. When I think of Spring, I typically just think about plants and how lovely the blossoms are (because let's be honest: there's not much that's better than sitting in soft green grass and having fresh blossoms dance around you in the breeze). 

My new perspective, however, focuses on YOU.

Take the definitions above and just think about how they can apply to you. Are you allowing your full potential and your full self come into being, or are you stifling your inner need to grow? When was the last time you stretched yourself and increased the height of your character? These are some pretty personal reflection questions, but it had to be done. We all, myself included, occasionally need reminders to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. But, in all reality, it's these moments where we step into the unknown and unfamiliar that we walk out a different, better person. 

There are countless examples of this throughout history. To name just a few: 

  • The Renaissance: During this time of history, literature, philosophy, art, science, and more were redefined and redesigned into a new idea that "Man is the measure of all things." A group of individuals decided to take a chance and try looking at their culture and society in a new perspective. This movement resulted in countless advances that helped our society get to where it is today. 
                                                           
  • The Enlightenment: following the Renaissance, the Enlightenment era focused more on changing how we think about politics, progress, and government. Many people were motivated by the motto of "Dare to Know," and their ideas resulted in new scientific, political, and societal advances. 

  • Rock and Roll Music: before rock and roll, African American and Caucasian music styles were kept separate. However, cultures combined over time, especially in large cities, and radio stations began playing styles from both cultures. Eventually, Rock and Roll artists (Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, etc.) decided to try a new style of music by combining styles from both sides and creating something magnificent. 

Now, I'm no history buff or music expert, but these are a few examples of how people decided to take a chance, try something new, and change themselves and the world around them. I know these are also more grand events than what most of us experience in our lifetime, but just focus on the principle. Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone and tried something new? What did it feel like? Odds are, you enjoyed the experience. If not, you now learned for sure that you do not like skydiving or eating exotic foods or dancing in front of people (to name a few out-of-your-comfort-zone things). But whatever way the cookie crumbles, most people don't regret taking chances; instead, you'll regret staying inside your comfort zone and not seeking ways to expand your character.

So! To the point of all this rambling: I am extending a CHALLENGE to you. This month, think of something that you have been wanting to try but have been too nervous to make it happen. Now, take a deep breath, use 20 seconds of insane courage, and make it happen. And don't worry, I'm going to do it with you. This is what I'm going to do: 

I grew up with art. My dad is an artist, I took art lessons, and I studied art as part of my college education. Although I love doing art, I don't like showing it. I always get intimidated and feel like my work isn't worth showing. But this month, I'm going to actually publicly display my art. Guys, this is a big step for me. But I'm going to do it. I'm doing it do it this weekend, and I'll come back next week and share how it went! 

Best of luck to you! Si se puede! (You can do it!) And please share what you did to step out of your comfort zone this month and what happened when you did it. We'd love to hear about your experiences! 

TTFN. 
-Bridget 

27 February 2017

Quit Phubbing Your Family!



Earlier this month, we had a screen free week. No TV, computer, tablets, and the minimum phone usage possible. We don't allow our kids to watch too much TV to begin with, usually just Friday night movie and maybe 1 1/2 hours throughout the rest of the week (on a good week, of course!). My husband and I, however, watch something most nights, usually for 2+ hours, while we're checking our phones or playing on the iPad, and I notoriously check my phone during the day. We all know that taking a break can be a good thing. Let me tell you what I learned. 


Things that changed: 
  • We played with our kids more.
  • We talked to each other more, and the conversations were more meaningful.
  • Our kids had to find ways to entertain themselves. They had to stretch and grow and be creative with their toys. 
  • My kids fought less.
  • Our time together became quality time together.
  • I became more aware of the people around me. 
  • My house was cleaner. I had the energy to do what needed to be done.
  • I yelled less.
  • I was more patient with everyone.
  • Our days went smoother. My kids were less resistant when I asked them to do things. Chores were less of a battle.
  • Life felt less "noisy." There was no constant pull toward social media or barrage of images and distractions from a screen. My brain had time to breathe.
  • My days were much more productive. My time for myself comes at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed. I actually accomplished many of the things I set out to do because I wasn't distracted by a screen. 
  • We went to bed earlier. It's a lot easier to feel tired at 10:30 when you're actually doing things instead of vegging out until 1 in the morning.
  • My husband and I "dated" more. We played games, laughed, read next to each other, cuddled more; things that usually got put on the back burner for weeks because we were watching TV instead. 

Things I learned:
  • It is SO easy to grab that screen and zone out.
  • Our loved ones miss us when we disappear behind a screen. They are much more aware of it than we give them credit for. 
  • Sometimes it is difficult to actually talk to someone. It takes courage and thought and a desire to actually know the person, especially when you don't get to jump to a screen when things get awkward or the conversation lulls. 
  • I was more content with my life. I wasn't constantly looking at others' perfect Instagram pictures or Facebook posts, comparing my life to theirs. I was finding happiness right where I was. 
  • It is so, so worth it. Relationships became much more meaningful and fulfilling. 

Now, this didn't create a revolution where we're going to sell our TV or switch to flip phones or put our phones in a DistractaGone when we're home. But it did cause me to reflect on how often I ignore the world around me for a screen. Most people cannot go completely screen free, and there is nothing wrong with checking social media or watching TV. But, we can be much more selective of the time we spend with our screens. If you really want to show the people around you how much you care about them, give them your time. Put the phone away, turn the TV off, and focus on the people around you. I promise they will appreciate it. The power of sincere interaction is amazing.

23 February 2017

The Love of a Handmade Gift


Handmade gifts are always a good idea. They are more personal, unique, and show that you truly care for someone. Plus it's always fun to put on your crafting cap and let your creative side take over. Next time you have the chance to give a gift to someone, try making a gift for them. Even if you make something simple like your own card instead of buying one - it's fun to do, and the recipient will most likely love the gift even more. Besides, isn't it the thought that counts?  :) 

This month, I made a gift for my sister Margeaux who had a birthday! Birthdays are a big deal and I always jump at the chance to go a little overboard when it comes to parties and presents. Plus, I'll use any excuse possible to spend time crafting, crocheting, sewing, painting, or pretty much anything that doesn't include studying for school. So for my sister's birthday, I crocheted her a bohemian style mandala doily. 

Eventually, I will do a post on the basics of crocheting so that those of you who want to learn can have some introductory instructions. If you happen to already know how to crochet, then this will be a fun project, though I would consider this pattern to be intermediate. I got the pattern from here so I won't write it out on this post, but it is a very simple, straight-forward pattern. 

I chose my own colors for this project based on the Bohemian home styling posts my sister shared on Pinterest; gotta love Pinterest, right?!  I used Crafter's Secret Cotton yarn, available at Hobby Lobby, which I also love (I could seriously spend all day in that store). You will only need one skein of each color, and I chose seven colors. Here is my list of supplies used for this project: 

Yarn Colors: 
Bordeaux
Taupe
Ocean
Purple
Ivory
Dark Teal
Papaya

Other Materials:
US size H/8 5mm crochet hook
threading needle
small fabric scissors 
a little snack to keep you going




I didn't follow a specific color pattern - I just went for it and chose a random new color for each round. This is after round 11 of 26. 





This is the final product! It is 26 rounds and the diameter is just shy of 2 feet. 




After you finish your mandala, it might be beneficial to do some blocking. This will help to keep your mandala flat and equally spread. Here's what I did to my finished product:


  • Get a piece of cardboard large enough to fit your mandala. 
  • Lay out your finished project, then start pinning it down with some basic sewing pins. As you pin it down, work from the center outwards.
  • When you get to the outer layer, pin the edges in somewhat of an X pattern. To do this, pin the edge on one side, then pin your next pin on the opposite edge. Continue doing this until your mandala is fairly flat. Then you can start pinning around the edges any way you like. 
  • When your mandala is pinned down, lay some damp towels over the project. Be sure to cover the entire thing.
  • Using an iron, steam your mandala. Be very careful! Do not actually place your iron on top of the towels, as the heat can melt your yarn. Rather, hover your iron over the project to steam it. 
  • When you're done with this, remove the towels and let your yarn dry. I ended up using towels that were a little more wet than I intended. After leaving the mandala out to dry for a little bit, I found that it was still damp. So I steamed it again, but this time without towels. Again, only hover over the project! 
  • Once you have steamed your mandala and it has dried, remove the pins. It should now be flat and perfect. 


Now you have a beautiful new addition to your home, or a beautiful piece of decor to give to a loved one! This is an easy project that can add some personalized touches to any home. If you try it, let us know and share your photos in the comment section! Happy crafting!

xo, Kate Holland