So Many Miles

Yeesh! I feel like 3 days ago it was March. I’m fairly certain April was about 26 hours long and May went by just as quickly. Despite my intentions with keeping up with Try Something New Every Month and Adventure in Making’s DIY challenges, time just wasn’t on my side.

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Strawberry Distance Challenge – 5k

One major reason behind this has been my newish commitment to running. I’m apparently a glutton for challenges (and punishment), because I agreed to join a team effort to run 2,016 miles in the year 2016. There are 3 of us, so I only need to run around 800 miles this year. Since I don’t want to be left in the dust by my team, I am doing my best to keep up with the leader.

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Super Hero Run – 5k – With HRC members

So far this year, I’ve logged 260 miles. Which means I’m a little behind despite participating in piles of 5ks. As a team, we are nearly to 800 miles for the year. I’ll pop in with updates throughout the rest of the year.

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My favourite races are the locally hosted runs that support local non-profits and schools. They don’t provide the flashiest bling, but knowing that a local school gets new band equipment or the women’s hospital gets needed supplies balances that out for me.

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Post Race Selfie

I’ve also joined Hogwart’s Running Club because, yes, I am a Potter geek (Go Hufflepuffs!) Their entire mission is to do so much good. It’s a virtual non-profit club that is based on the book series. To track miles, we use Charity Miles. This means that every mile we run creates a little donation to a charity of our choice. HRC also hosts virtual runs that raises money specifically for particular charities. These all come with very fancy, very awesome medals.

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Carillon Classic – Bok Tower Gardens

This weekend, I was able to participate in a race with my mom. We both had a great time. I ran and created a new personal best. My mom discovered how fun 5ks can be (apparently this was her first race). We both also earned 2nd in our age division.

I’m now also in training for my first half marathon. I won’t be running it until the fall. I’m training during the summer so I will think it’s easy when the cooler weather hits.

I started posting pre- and post-race selfies to my Instagram feed, you can follow me there to see my accomplishments as well as other projects I have going on in life. Link: 64colorbox

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Magical Water Bottle

Sometimes, I have a difficult time choosing a gift for my friends and family. I want the gift to feel special and thoughtful. I know I could give a gift card, but that feels impersonal.

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This particular gift managed to combine my friend’s love of Harry Potter and her determination to be healthier. A person like that needs a magical water bottle.

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The hardest part of this search was finding an appropriate bottle. Her daily goal is to drink a gallon of water, so I needed a container that held a gallon of water. I also wanted it to be good quality and lightweight. With daily use, it was going to get bumped around. Water itself is heavy, I didn’t want the bottle to be a hindrance.

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I finally stumbled across the perfect bottle on Amazon. It looks like a miniature version of the water cooler jugs. And it has a handle.

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To make it magical, I used my Silhouette and some permanent vinyl. I love my Silhouette and really do believe it is magical. It has made many projects so much easier. I had the permanent vinyl hanging around from back when Pick Your Plum still sold craft supplies.

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I made the design using a Harry Potter font I found online. For those that don’t know, Aguamenti is the spell to fill a container with water.

 

After cutting, I used transfer paper to help get the placement just right on the bottle. Transfer paper is a life saver when it comes to positioning vinyl. Transfer paper is essentially a giant sticker to help you position stickers. My version has a one inch grid that helps keep the design straight. After weeding your design, you place the transfer paper over the design. You then pull the backing of your vinyl off, leaving the sticky part exposed but still in the correct position. Using the grid to keep things straight, stick everything into its final place. Slowly peel back the transfer paper leaving the vinyl in place.

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Paper Flower Wreath

For our wedding nearly 2 years ago, I created many, many things. This includes the flowers for the bouquets and boutonnieres. We also created a flower covered stand to place one of our cakes on to make it higher than the other cakes.

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Photo Credit: Holden Memories

Since the stand wasn’t of any use for me after the wedding, I decided to reuse the paper flowers to make a wreath. I had picked up the styrofoam wreath not long after the wedding. The ribbon was left over from making my bouquets.

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I started by removing the flowers from the stand and straightening the wires. I then trimmed the wires so they wouldn’t poke all the way through the foam.

I then stuck the flowers into the styrofoam wreath using the 12, 6, 9, 3 pattern. I then filled in between the flowers.

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To finish the wreath, I wrapped the ivory ribbon around the exposed styrofoam. As I wrapped the ribbon, I pulled up the flowers and re-stabbed them through the ribbon.

The wreath is now hanging on our mantle with a few of our other wedding mementos.

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The Reading Quarterly

I realised two things the other day. First, I hadn’t done any post about books I’ve read since January. And two, I’ve only read 8 books so far this year. According to Goodreads.com I’m 9 books behind in my reading goal for the year.

To catch up, I can either stop trying new things or stop sleeping! I don’t see either happening, so maybe I’ll just pick up a few books that are short. To clarify, I consider around 200 pages to be a short book.

In January, I included a checklist of books to read. Not specific books, but books that fall into certain parameters. I decided that each book can only count for one check. Otherwise, I’d be halfway done with my measly 8 books.

Here are how the 8 books fit onto the list:

  1. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – A great book. It is a Newbery Award Winner.
  2. Night – Also a great book. I didn’t know it was a series and my find the rest of the books. It was translated from Yiddish.
  3. The Light in the Ruins – This was an okay story. I felt it dragged a bit. I switched from paper to audio in order to finish the book. The book is based in Italy.
  4. Jane Eyre – While I enjoyed the story, I felt Mr. Rochester spoke for lengths for no reason, really, all the characters did. This book is beyond 100 years older than me.
  5. A Little Princess – I loved the movie with Shirley Temple and when it showed up as an audio book, I had to give it a go. There are similarities, but the book is a pinch better. I was considering this my classic, but I fear it may be from the wrong century.
  6. The Magicians – I almost don’t want to admit I read this book. Ugh. I kept hoping it would get better. For now it’s my sci-fi novel, but it may be replaced.
  7. The Astounding Broccoli Boy – A great young adult book about a boy who turns green and befriends his bully. Oh, and it takes place in London, which is an island.
  8. The Night Circus – The story is a little twisty-turvy with its plot, but I enjoyed it none-the-less. The book refused to conform to any parameters on the list.

I may need to be a little more particular about choosing books to make certain I complete the list.

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KRUSNING Watercolor – T.S.N.E.M.

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This lampshade signifies the completion of the lighting for my creating room. I’ll be sharing the complete project next week. I shared my first lampshade project here.

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Photo from IKEA

I’ve had this IKEA 17-inch KRUSNING floating around my room for nearly a year just waiting for me to decorate it. I knew I wanted to paint it with watercolors. I just hadn’t taken the time to buy paints.

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Before painting, disassemble the lampshade. The plastic ring in the middle snaps apart. You may need a tiny flat-head screwdriver to help pop open the clips. This way, you don’t need to worry about getting paint on the wrong paper.

I received an artist kit at Christmastime and it contained a selection of watercolor pans. I realise they probably aren’t the best quality, but they suited my purpose. In the event I start properly painting with watercolors, I’ll invest in paint and brushes.

I did a little research and talked with my school’s art teacher about how to go about creating a wash over the entire paper. I tried a couple methods. For my first attempt, I first painted the paper with just water, then brushed on the paint. I think because of the way I mixed the paint and water, it ended up being way too thin. I gave the paper a few minutes to dry before finishing the red wash.

 

For the following papers, I watered my paint and started painting. I think by the time I got to the third or fourth paper, I was finally mixing just right. This is a medium that requires patience and testing.

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Once the papers are dry, you can finish the project. My papers were dry in about 30 minutes, though I gave them about an hour to dry. Stack the papers in the order you want them. I put mine in rainbow order (Roy G Biv – minus the indigo). I stacked them paint side up since it would be hanging from the ceiling. If I do another lampshade, I’ll probably paint both sides of the bottom to papers since both sides show. Snap the plastic center back in. I don’t think it matters which way it goes.  Attach the clear plastic guard and hang the shade.

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I had fun trying watercolor for the first time this month. I wouldn’t mind playing with watercolors again. I’m happy to say I’ve now tried 3 new crafts this year. You can check out the T.S.N.E.M challenge as Swoodson Says and join in next month.

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I’m also still holding strong with my resolution to use supplies on hand. I’m enjoying the feeling of accomplishment that shows up when I finish an in progress project. The room is looking a little messy, but I’m currently blaming that on frequent use rather than just dropping items to deal with later.

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I’ll see you next month for T.S.N.E.M. April’s challenge is edible crafts. I bake all the time, so I’m going to have to think way outside the box for this one!

 

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For the Birds

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of birds. They tend to like to poop on my head. Though if they were to start delivering my mail, I may change my mind. And my dislike isn’t going to stop me from feeding birds at zoos.

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I bring up birds because because the DIY Challenge from Adventures in Making is Birds of a Feather. I went through a vast spectrum of ideas before settling on a variation of an idea I didn’t get to try last month.

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I dug out my origami book and a few pieces of paper. I started by practicing with a 4 x 4-inch piece of paper to make sure I knew the steps. After a few practices, I settled on using a 1..5 inch square to make the crane.

I used scrapbooking paper to make the birds since I have a rather large supply of scrapbook paper. This helps with sticking to my resolution of using supplies I have on hand.

I painted on a coat of Mod Podge to give a little water proofing.

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To turn the cranes into beads, I took a silver head pin and seed beads. The seed beads were to provide a larger  area in case the holes in the paper stretches any.

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I used some 8mm pearl beads and jump rings to dangle the paper cranes.

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Yeti for my Yeti

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I am not cool. Simple things make me laugh. Like really dumb jokes. Like this one:

Q: Why don’t you ever see elephants hiding in trees?
A: They’re very good at it.

I laughed for like five minutes about this joke. I love the jokes on the bazooka gum.

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I received a Yeti for my birthday last year.  Before I was allowed to open the present with the cup. I opened a gift that contained a stuffed Yeti. Because I asked for a Yeti. Apparently I needed to be more specific.

I intended to personalise it immediately, but was at a loss for which design to use. I’m not a fan of monograms. I also considered a collage of all my hobbies, but that would have been a lot of work.

During Christmas break, I was watching Rudolph (because I watch all the Christmas movies) and had the best idea ever. My Yeti needed its own Yeti!

Of course, it took me another month to actually commence with the project. My first hurdle, was finding the right Yeti. I spent hours looking through images. I needed a simple version that would translate well into a single colour. I finally found an image that only needed a little editing to be just right.

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Conveniently, I have a stash of vinyl from the early days of pickyourplum.com. This stash includes permanent outdoor vinyl in white.

Of course, I have my trusty Silhouette to do the cutting for me. I highly recommend using gridded transfer paper to make sure your design is placed straight.

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Now I get to giggle about my Yeti Yeti every day. I love it! I told you I wasn’t cool.

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T.S.N.E.M. February – Shhh…

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While I was living overseas, my sister sent me a mug. I used this mug daily. It travelled to work with me (it’s not a travel mug). It has by now seen better days. The handle is long gone and I have to be careful of the side I use. I refuse to toss it.

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It still gets occasional use and was the inspiration behind this month’s project. The TSNEM project for the month was a tactile craft such as candle or soap making. Or to make something with clay. None of the ideas I found sparked an interest.

I have however been testing out some mixed media art projects, so I decided to complete an idea for this month’s project.

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I must confess to trying to combine 2 challenges into one with this project. Adventures in Making announced their DIY Craft Challenge is back this year and I want to participate. My goal is to complete 2 separate projects, but that just didn’t happen this month.

Since the DIY challenge was Stitches & Threads, I decided to try out paper embroidery. Which is essentially stitching on paper.

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I started by wrapping chipboard with fabric leftover from a dress I made. I used tacky glue. The size of my piece is 6 inches by 6 inches.

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Since we are talking about reading here, I used my Silhouette to cut out a silhouette of a stack of books. I don’t recall where I found the silhouette of books. the file was on my computer. Probably from another unfinished project idea. My original thought was to use dark brown vinyl, but came across scraps of the pleather we used for my Halloween costume and decided it would replicate an old book feel a little better. The Silhouette didn’t cut all the way through the thicker fabric, but it scored it deep enough for me to then quickly trim out the design.

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For the paper stitching, I used a design from Flamingo Toes. She has a Shhhh… I’m reading pattern available. My plan was to use the Silhouette to cut a book page into a decorative shape. I quickly discovered that old book pages are not quite sturdy enough.  I traced a rough shape and then hand cut the paper.

For the stitching, I traced the lettering onto the page. Then using a pin, I pricked holes along the tracing. I’m going to need a little practice getting the holes the same distance apart. Since this paper was fairly thin, I was very careful while stitching not to pull the thread too roughly so I didn’t pull out stitches. I did pull a few from when I places the holes too close together. I was able to just make the stitch longer to fix the stitch.

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For finishing touches, I added a couple buttons to the corners of the paper. I had planned to stitch around the edge of the page, but I kept pulling out the stitches. I trimmed off the little bit I had stitched and left it as is.

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To complete the project, I plan on matting and framing it to hang somewhere in my house.

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A Study of Elephants and Dots

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I’ve avoided MINKY fabric thinking it was similar to fleece (which I can’t stand). However, this summer I was at a fabric warehouse and came across some grey elephant fabric that I knew would be perfect for a particular couple’s new baby.

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While they are having a girl, she wasn’t keen on going all pink. When I found the coordinating grey and yellow dots, I knew I had to try using MINKY fabric.

I have discovered that while fleece and MINKY fabric are similar in appearance, their textures are quite different. MINKY stays soft and silky after washing. There is also a lack of static electricity. Yay! It also didn’t dry out my hands while working with the fabric.

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After a quick bit of research, I decided to use a tutorial from Make It & Love It for a self-binding MINKY blanket. Ashley does a marvelous job of explaining each step with very helpful photos. Now that I have made one, I want to make many more.

The blanket came together quickly. Other than me cutting the fabric pieces the opposite of my original intention (I wanted the dots to be the back so I wouldn’t have upside down elephants), it was a quick project.

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After realising I cut the dot fabric to the small size, I cut the elephant fabric a little larger to prevent the elephants from folding around the top and bottom edges. This strategy would have worked had I also cut the dot fabric a bit larger as well.

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Other than a wonky corner, I’m quite pleased with how this blanket turned out. I may need more MINKY fabric.

I’ve completed another stash project (though this fabric was bought for this particular project). I get to go shopping! Or just stay on my roll of using up currently owned supplies it is still only February.

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Scarves and a 5K

The year we married, I started running for exercise. I had no goal or plan or ambition, it was just an inexpensive way to exercise. Since we live in Florida, I can run outside nearly all year, so I didn’t need to join a gym.

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After about a year, I let work and life push running out of the picture. I was enjoying being married. Work was extra stressful. I really just couldn’t be bothered.

One day someone from one of my internet friends posed a challenge. He wanted to create a team to pledge to run 2,016 miles in 2016. I knew I wanted to start running again, so I joined in. I’m sure I’ll mention our progress again as the year goes on. We are right around 200 miles already.

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To add to the inspiration, I discovered a Hogwart’s Running Club. I had to join. I’m now a proud member of the Hufflepuff team. You are welcome to follow the link to find details on joining.

HRC does virtual 5Ks throughout the year. Each run is done in support of a charity. In tandem with the race is a challenge that each house competes in. The first run of the year is the Molly Weasley Ugly Jumper Run. The charity of choice is One Warm Coat.

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Each house is challenged with gathering scarves to give to One Warm Coat who can then give out the scarves with the winter coats. I cannot speak for the other houses, but us Hufflepuffs go right to work. Wizards and witches were shopping, knitting, and sewing scarves left and right.

I was finally able to sit down and stitch up a pile of scarves myself. I rooted around for my excess collection of fleece and got to work.

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The only fleece that was long enough to be scarves was the black fleece. However, I didn’t think it was long enough to cut fringe into the ends. I opted to add colorful squares and rectangles to the ends of each scarf.

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Each scarf got its own design of squares. With the limited choices I had to be a little creative. I managed to stick to my resolution for yet another project. I had these fleece on hand from when I made Angry Birds. I always have thread.

Now I just need to sort through my collection and pull out the scarves I no longer need.

 

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