Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Diva Challenge and Mother Nature's Dirty Tricks!

This week's Diva Challenge # 210 was to use a spiral as a string.  I had an idea, but it all blended in together until I added the shading.  It's better but it's still not like it was in my head but it was fun to play with anyway.  I always put my first try up so here it is.


I know that my friends and family are all totally buried on the East Coast and I really don't have any grounds to complain, but that's never stopped me before...so... 

All our snow was gone. We even had a couple of days in the 70°s! Spent Sunday at the park, rejoicing in the open water...




Hunting for fossils...





 Walking by the river...


Communing with the chittering muskrats...


Walking a new path in the spring woods....


That had fun bridges over the melted snow and mud.


My crocuses bloomed on Sunday afternoon!


Then Monday morning I woke to this!


We were supposed to get 1-3 inches...we got 10-12 inches instead!  Darn you and your nasty surprises, Mother Nature.   There's only one thing to say in a situation like that.....


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Look Before You Leap. Think Before You Speak.

I generally operate under the rule that if I don't think before I open my mouth, I get to be as surprised as everyone else at what the mind monkeys fling out of it. On the best of days it's pretty harmless, but occasionally this approach backfires and I want to throw myself off the roof.  Today is one of those days.

We had a breakfast this morning with colleagues from around the world. France, UK, China, Italy, Japan, Germany, Brazil  and Spain were all represented. And Switzerland as evidenced by the very, handsome, new, guy seated next to me. Those of you that know me know that, generally speaking...I'm generally speaking. It's not always fluid or sensible, but I can keep up my end of the conversation- word count wise at least- and I can help you with your end too if you need it. But around the International folks, I tend to be a bit shy, reserved and even more socially awkward than usual.

So I'm sitting with the French and Mr. Switzerland. We're talking about how we try, whenever possible, to support the Branches by matching up scientists from the US that speak the native language of the country in which the Branch office is located. Mr. S. asked me who supported his branch and I told him. (She happened to be out of the office today.) He asked if she spoke, French, German, Swedish, etc. I said that no, in this case, there wasn't a direct match. He looked so adorably disappointed that I enthusiastically followed it up with...

'But I can support your Branch! I speak Swiss.......(wait for it)...CHOCOLATE!'

*Crickets*

Sigh. As if my fluency in Swiss chocolate wasn't evident upon sight.

He looked at me like I had a screw loose. [He wasn't wrong. I just like to delay the moment when new people realize that a little longer than within the first 20 minutes. ]  I'm not sure why he didn't think that was funny, the mind monkeys were swinging from the chandeliers and  laughing their collective monkeybutts off. Some of my more reasonable personalities were running around with butterfly nets trying to catch the monkeys before they threw any other little nuggets of joy out of my open mouth. There was pandemonium in my head as opposed to the deafening silence at our table.

Finally he graced me with a small smile and nodded breaking the horrifying tension and the conversation started up again. By that time the monkeys had been duct taped and I was able to keep their thoughts to myself for the rest of the meal. So thank you Mr. S. for saving the day! (He gets extra points if he scores me some chocolate!)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Diva's St. Patrick's Day Challenge

I was a little bummed that I wouldn't have time to do the Diva's Challenge this week, but when I looked this morning [I'm like a little kid at Christmas every Monday morning; pulling the paper off  to see what the challenge/gift will be for this week! Whether I can do the challenge that week or not, it's always exciting to see what it is!]  and I saw that it was a St. Patrick's Day challenge, I realized that I already DID the challenge last Saturday after my Celtic Zentangle class! We learned all kinds of Celtic-y patterns in class and then Katie, Zentangle teacher extraordinaire, sent us home with 'extra credit' which was the instructions on how to do the knot below. I came right home and tried it out. I even put it on a real tile!  I suppose it's cheating a wee bit, but I'm submitting it anyway. Can I help it if I'm psychic? Or perhaps a time traveler? At any rate, I hope no leprechauns get me for this submission!



Happy St. Patrick's Day!! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Doodle Collage Update



I was fortunate to have several bits of time to work on my doodle collage this weekend. Several folks have asked for progress updates so here they are:

Overview


Full moon tree...still working on smaller branches and twigs.  Also filled in Celtic chain with brown pattern



Butterfly.  Need to go over the whole thing again. Rice paper doesn't take the color well.

Dandelions 


Nautilus shell and fossils. Will look a lot better with shading. I have a feeling this piece will take as long to shade as it did to doodle!  That's it for this weekend!

Spring on the Farm

I worked a shift on the farm this morning. I hadn't been over for about a month or so, so it was good to catch up with the fur and feather babies again. I didn't take many photos, I was too busy and my hands were full. After everyone was fed and cleaned, I set up a beauty parlor services for the donkeys and goats. The sheep were quite put out that they weren't included but I can get a curry comb through their winter wools so I gently did their noses to appease them.  Frances' eyes rolled back in his head he liked that so much! I spent about an hour and a half getting everyone done. It would have been shorter, but Diane, Opal and Frosty (goats) would get back in line and try to convince me that they hadn't been done yet so they could have another go....more than once.

But here are a couple I took:
This is Billie and Nillie-both of them loved beauty parlor. Today was Nillie's birthday so she got a little extra attention!


This is handsome Blaine.  He is such a snuggle bug.


And he has gorgeous blue eyes and a winning smile.


There are three new turkey girls. They are so friendly and curious. I sat in their stall for quite some time while they investigated my shoelaces and pant legs and got snuggles and scritches.


They are shameless food beggars-even the goat's mineral lick wasn't safe!


Miss WinniePig was so clean when she went out! She had a ball rooting around in the spring mud.   I went over to visit her and put my face down to talk to her. Big mistake. She did a reverse snort and blew mud and piggy snot rockets all over me! I picked stuff out of my hair until I got in the shower. LOL! Piggy love! Kinda yucky but I'll take it.

Everyone was pretty happy that the long winter is finally over. Everyone was feeling frisky. Lilly, the blind mini pig even went outside to sit in the sun for a few minutes. I'm so glad I had a chance to see everyone again.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Cleaning out the Cabin...Fever.


This weekend we had a much needed reprieve from the brutal cold we've had all winter. It was just in the nick of time too since morale was at an all time low and Cabin Fever was at an all time high!

I had a Celtic Zentangle class with Katie Butler on Saturday afternoon so I went over to that side of town extra early to do some errands, get the car wash and take myself out to lunch. It was 40° and I didn't wear a jacket! I had some time before class to I visited the Antique Mall just down the street from Lynn's Craft Shop. I've lived here for going on 25 years and have never been there. So cute and just endless little spaces with wonderful antiques! I could easily spend a weekend in there. I don't collect (and can't afford) antiques, but it was like visiting a museum.  I'll be going back soon as I have some questions about some things they classify as 'antique' that I still use in my house! I'm not THAT old...yet.  Anyway it was AMAZING!

As was Katie's class.  Her classes are always fun. The first pic is my practice sheet of some things we worked on....Celtic-y things and weaverly things. I love those kinds of things, even through I generally suck as Celtic knots due to my inability to figure out the spacial relationships of what's on top and what's behind. 



Sunday I tried the 'extra credit' instructions that Katie sent with us and did this knot. 


Sunday morning found us up before the sun and down to La Brioche for brunch with friends. I had the berry crepes and OH. MY. DOG. were they good; ricotta cheese, creme Anglais, fruit puree, fresh berries and candied pecans. 


My friend's French toast was equally as amazing!


We were supposed to meet at a restaurant on Williamson Street but there is still a lot of angst going on down there with regards to a shooting that took place Friday night so we changed venues at the last minute and I'm so glad we did! Having breakfast with these particular friends is always a highlight. They are both smart, funny, warm and welcoming. They are like family. We even made plans to visit state parks in Ohio and Illinois together this summer! It was a great way to start the first day of the time change. It was worth losing an hour of sleep over!

Sunday afternoon found me in Oregon at the Firefly Cafe with friend Jen for knitting. The Firefly is a really nice spot and they have a small quilt show going on right now that was really neat. Jen brought her two wee-est bairns, Klara and Isaak and we spent a couple of hours visiting and enjoying the afternoon.

All of that, some spring cleaning and numerous walks with Big Doggie made for a wonderful restorative weekend....and the cherry on top of the Sunday? Friend, Avis, is visiting her brother in Florida and sent me a picture of this mother and baby manatee. Squee! Weekends don't get much better than that! How was yours?



Friday, March 06, 2015

Water Goddess Cowl

I took my first hit of Malbridgio yarn last week. Sweet mother of all that's Holy, it's the heroin of yarn.  Friend Jen has been touting it's magnificence for a while now but I wouldn't drink the Kool-Aid. I finally knit up a skein into a free cowl pattern I found on line and now I'm hooked. If it weren't for my extensive stockpile of yarn in the basement, I swear I would buy every color and knit exclusively with this stuff. I love the colorways, the smoothness of it, and the fact that it's as soft as unborn, baby panda pelts doesn't hurt either!

The pattern was fun to do. It's a free pattern that's based on another free scarf pattern called Falling Water by Bonnie Sennott. It's on Ravelry.  It's a false cable pattern with only an 8 stitch repeat so it's a breeze to knit.  Falling Water is a flat scarf and Water Goddess is knit in the round, so I had to run it by my mathematician and engineer before I got started and they got me all straightened out. Yes, it's nice to have staff ! (Thanks Elizabeth and Jen!)

I had my lovely assistant, Ben, model it for me. It came out looking wonky but I don't even care since the model is so stinking cute!

Hey! Is the cat laughing at me?
This is my smoldering, bedroom eyes, pose!

Here is a little better picture.  Don't mind the dog hair, I can't imagine where that came from!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Marbling Paper with Nail Polish

There has been a video going around Facebook about marbling paper with nail polish. I only saw it once and couldn't find it again, but it looked like just the thing I like to try; something that could be cool or a horrendous, messy disaster, so with no clear instructions but the ones I remembered, I got right on it. 

The plastic container is one of those that deli meat comes in and is the perfect size for Artist Trading Card-sized pieces of paper or smaller. Do not use container that you want to use for anything else ever again. It will have scridlings of polish on it when you're done. 

Fill it about half full of water. I found some old nail polish and I mean OLD. It was all separated and stuff but still quite liquid when I shook it up. It needs to be on the runny side so you can make drops on the water. . I think if you had some chunky drier stuff you could add a couple of drops of nail polish remover to loosen it up and it would still be fine. 


Drop some nail polish on the water in the container. The first couple of drops are going to all but disappear, but as it starts to set and form a film on the water, you can darken it and then add the other colors. This must be done fairly quickly as it sets up fast. You can leave it like it is or stir it about with a toothpick (not vigorously or it becomes a ball in the middle) . You can also poke it around with your finger. It works, but I would advise against it since I am still picking marbley polish off my fingernails. 


Lay your paper (I used official Zentangle Artist Trading Cards ) on the water and push straight down. This is done quickly but steadily. Some of the polish wraps around the back, but I didn't worry about that. 

I pulled the card straight back up and turned it over and put it on a paper towel on a baking rack over newspaper to dry. The top one in the picture below was my first one and my favorite. It had the least amount of polish on the water, you could barely see the green and purple.  Also it's perfect to draw on because it doesn't feel like slippery, glossy polish like the ones with more on them. In the future, less is more. 

Before you dunk another one, run a piece of scrap paper over the surface of the water and the edges of the container to pick up any extra polish floating around. 


This picture is inexplicably upside down, but  it gives you an idea of what can be done. I really like the bottom two and think they could be tangled easily. But then again, I also think the bottom right one looks like an abstract rooster, so I really can't be trusted. The other ones would make good accent pieces for cards or scrap booking. 

Would I try it again? Yes, with the less is more approach since I intend to tangle them. I also think you could use a bigger container for larger tiles, but I'm not sure it would work for anything much bigger than 3"x5" or 5"x7" because the amount of time it would take you to cover the surface of the water with polish would allow it to really set and I'm not sure it would stick to the paper that well. But that is an experiment for another day. 

Please let me know if you've tried this and what you thought. Also I would love any tips or tricks because I just winged it. Happy Marbling!