Saturday, March 30, 2013

#95 - Jewelry

In my house, there is an entire room that I have designated as "the craft room".  It's full of tubs of fabric, beads, rubber stamps, and many other supplies that I rarely have time to use.  I have even been accused by one of my friends of buying craft supplies just so I can organize them later ... sadly, there is a small amount of truth to that statement.  My problem seems to be that I get excited about trying a new craft skill, buy the tools and supplies, make several projects, and then get excited about a different craft ... which requires a new set of tools and supplies.  Although it is wonderful to think "I need a piece of blue ribbon" and know that I can go upstairs and select from a couple dozen types that might work for what I have in mind, it also tends to lead to a cluttered craft room.  I find myself having stern discussions with my inner shopper in large craft stores about moderation.  So, this goal was my very small attempt at using some supplies for a craft that I enjoy- simple jewelry design - and make some giftable or personal items for myself at the same time.

Here's what I made ...
Three sisters bracelets
This set of three bracelets was meant from the start for myself and my two sisters.  The one on the left is Diana's, the center one was for Janet, and the right one I kept.  I bought some of the components at a bead shop in London; I had asked my family for ideas for gifts I might buy them while I was there and one of my sisters asked for beads.  Unfortunately, I couldn't remember which sister by the time I returned plus I had gotten something else for each of them.  So, the beads sat for almost a year while I tried to decide who to give them to.  Finally, I decided to give some of the beads to each of them and use the rest to make a set of similar bracelets for all three of us - that solved my dilemma to everyone's satisfaction.

The chainmaille experiment
This pendant was my attempt at chainmaille jewelry.  My nephew and his girlfriend have a small company - - that makes jewelry like this, and I love the pieces they make.  So, I decided to try it for myself.  Well, I finished the piece after much frustration and decided that working with tiny rings that spring off the pliers when least convenient is not for me.  I give Mike and Mikaela major kudos for being able to do this sort of work without going insane!

Simple earrings
I don't have pierced ears, so I rarely make earrings.  However, I love making items with my little wire jig board - it's so much fun trying all the different twists and turns and seeing how moving one peg just a tiny bit or wrapping the wire clockwise instead of counterclockwise can make a dramatic change to the look of the piece.  So, for my last piece, I made a simple set of earrings to have on hand for any occasion that might arise requiring a small gift.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

#17 - Keeping the post office in business

Most of my nephews and nieces are now past their college days, but, as part of their high school graduation gift, I gave each of them a "cookie of the month" club with the baking supplied by myself for their first year in college.  (Still working on the nephew who took a break year between high school and college and is living at home).  I heard that these monthly shipments were much appreciated (by roommates as well) and made going to collect mail a lot more fun.  I haven't done as well in keeping the packages coming after that first year though ... for various reasons.  So this goal was to find a reason to send something to each of my nieces and nephews over the 1001 days.  I mailed out the last two packages today ...
Simple "ye olde" style shirt made for Mike.

Some of the packages, including the two that went out today, were filled mostly with baked goods.  Others were more specific to something happening at the time.  My nephew, Jason, received traditional housewarming items since he and his wife had just purchased their first home.  Two other nephews indicated that they would like costume pieces ... which I made for them.  My niece, Ciera, is outgrowing the age of dolls; however, at the beginning of this project, she was still interested in American Girl dolls.  My dad had made her bunk beds (with my Mom adding sheets and pillows) sized for her collection, so I made coverlets that could go along with them.
Musketeer tunic made for Dan.

I realized yesterday as I packed up the boxes that perhaps for my next set of goals I need to send care packages to my siblings.  After all, as the youngest, I was the one who got goodies from them as I went through school and off into the world.  It seems only fair that I acknowledge their kindness.  In that spirit, I also sent off a box of cookies to one of my brothers today as well; I hope it makes him smile.
Doll afghans for Ciera.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

#94 - What do those symbols on my camera mean?

One of the reasons that I enjoy photography is the challenge of making the finished product show what your eyes and brain were telling you at the time.  Sometimes this works and captures your memory perfectly.  Or, the photo captures the moment, but not quite the perfection of the mood/light/emotion/etc. that you were going for, and the print only acts as a memory jog to that past split second.  And, finally, there are those shots where you find things in the photo that you never saw as you pressed the shutter button.

This last category can sometimes yield funny results - a face of someone in the background reacting to the main subject - or bring back memories based on the backdrop of the action.  In the past, I worked for a small historical society for a time accessioning items, and, in old photographs, the clothing and background items were often much more interesting to researchers than the actual people portrayed.  However, a great deal of the time, the last category just brings out items that you wished you hadn't caught ... why didn't I see that branch behind her head  or he's squinting into the sun because the light was too bright.

I find that those photographic mistakes come about more often when I'm concentrating on trying to figure out the bells and whistles of my camera rather than looking through the viewfinder.  (Okay, I am notorious for not noticing those trees growing out of heads no matter what I'm doing).  So, this goal was about being able to spend less time worrying what an icon meant and more time concentrating on the action.  I've been working off and on this goal, and today I tested myself with my camera manual for the camera I've been using for the past 5 years and could name all of the icons correctly.

The only downside ... within the last week I bought myself a new camera - upgrading from a point and shoot to a digital SLR - and now I need to start working on the icons specific to the new SLR.  I did buy the same brand though, so I'm hoping that I'll have a head start on the learning curve.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

#50 - Baby lettuce

In an on-going effort to eat better, this goal was designed to bring some fresh produce into my life.  I planted a small planter of lettuce on a day when the outside temperature was -26* F at the time I woke up ... not the best day for planting outside.  Then I watered several times over the first week and a half.  Nothing happened.  I sort of forgot that the planter was sitting on the sill of a south basement window.  Yes, directly next to the old (possibly original to the house, definitely uninsulated) window.  However, today, I went downstairs when I was watering my normal houseplants on the off chance that something may have happened.  And here's what I found ...
lettuce seedlings next to the cold window

Obviously these little seedlings are hungry for more sunshine and probably very grateful for the water I had brought.  I think that they'll make it to eating size.  Guess the moral is that they need to be a little warmer to germinate if I try this again.