Monday, 20 January 2014

Blog Swap: Crafting From Your Stash

Today, I'm handing the reins over to Jessica from a Shimmering Star. Enjoy!

Coins, jewelry, and trinkets seem pre-destined to disappear. To combat this, I place catch-all dishes around the house. It's become second nature to empty my pockets into the dishes, and I lose fewer things!

Money is tight after the holidays, so it’s the perfect time to craft from your stash. Crochet Catch-All bowls require a crochet hook, hemp cord, and yarn. The hemp is used to shape the bowl, so any rope, string or yarn will work. Be creative; we’re crafting from our stash!

Catch-All Bowls

Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Supplies: Yarn Bee Dreamy Chenille Yarn Hemp Size J Crochet Hook  

Useful Skills: Magic Circle tutorial

Yarn: make a slip knot loop. 
Hemp: Make a magic circle by wrapping the hemp around your pointer and middle fingers. Slip your fingers out while holding the hemp in the circle. The direction the hemp leads will depend on your dominate hand. I crochet left-handed, so the cord leads to the right. Right-handers will follow the cord to the left.

Using your yarn 7 SC around magic circle. Tighten circle by pulling both ends of the hemp. 

With the hemp held close to the top of the crochet stitches, SC into the first stitch made. 2 DC into the following stitches until the circle is 3 inches across. Keep the circle flat. Slip stitch. 

*Ch 1. SC until end of row. Join with slip stitch.* Repeat three times.
Slip stitch around once. Finish and weave in strands.

Note: Shaping the yarn around the hemp can be difficult. Periodically tighten the hemp and adjust the yarn around it. Also, the final shape can be manipulated.

Monday's Meme of the Week

I'm not normally a huge fan of The Most Interesting Man in the World memes but this one really made me smile:

Bob Ross is a legend. For more Bob Ross and happy trees, check out A Happy Little Board on Pinterest.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Year in Review: 2013 Reading Challenge

Last year I set myself a goal of reading 90 books for the year. I actually reached 104 books in total.

Two of the books that I read in 2013 really stood out, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. To read my reviews of these books (and the other 102), click here. You can keep up to date with my current reading challenge - 125 this year! - on goodreads.

If you prefer a visual representation, check out my 2013 Reading Challenge pinboard on Pinterest.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

WNS: Crafts and Crafting

Wednesday night has become a tradition. Jessica from a Shimmering Star and I have a few drinks, a snack or two, and chat while we craft. It doesn't matter that we're 4,000 miles away from each other.

Thank you, Skype.

So we have WNS (Wednesday Night Skype). Sometimes there's more drinking and less crafting, sometimes more talking and less snacking. There's always epicness.

Here are a couple of the crafts that have come from from recent WNS dates:

Asymmetrical Bracelet:

Tree of Life Pendant: 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A Trip to Cardiff Bay

I've lived in South Wales for 10 years and I've never really been to Cardiff Bay. I've driven past it a few times but have never stopped and just walked around. Until now.

I told Jay that I didn't care what we did during my vacation, so long as we didn't just sit around the house doing nothing. On Saturday we went shopping in Cardiff city centre, which was a lot of fun. Yesterday, Jay told me to get up and get ready but wouldn't tell me where we were going. As we got close to Cardiff Bay, I had to ask, "Does this have anything to do with Doctor Who?" and the answer was yes!

Sadly, though, Jay decided to go to The Doctor Who Experience on the only day of the week that it was closed. Epic fail. But the rain stopped for a few minutes so we got to have a nice wander around the bay.

I couldn't believe how gorgeous the bay area in Cardiff was! Plus, it was really clean, which you don't expect in a big city like that like. We spent a little over an hour wandering around but I could have spent a lot more time there. And probably will.

A Day at Santa's Grotto

My employer offers an awesome program that allows you to go out into the community and spend a day volunteering instead of working. As much as the company makes me bat shit crazy for a lot of other reasons, I think this program is just amazing.

I used my 2013 Day to Make a Difference helping St. David's Hospice run their Santa's Grotto. After caring for my mother-in-law during the last months of her terminal illness, I have an increased appreciation for the work that hospices do. Doing it for one person just about killed me so I can't imagine doing it day in and day out, year after year.

We helped to raise over £500 for St. David's Hospice on our Day to Make a Difference. We also had a lot of fun. It was amazing to watch the children get all excited about meeting Father Christmas and it was even better when their parents got excited about them meeting Father Christmas.

Working at Santa's Grotto was a lot of fun. (Way, way more fun than work!) I was also, surprisingly, better with the children than I thought I would be. It even made me think that I might want to actually have one. One day. Maybe.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Monday's Meme of the Week

Thank you, New Year's Eve/Day for giving us a week of excellent memeage. There were almost too many memes to pick from this week.

Who am I kidding? There can never be too many memes.

My favourite meme of the week captures two of my favourite things: fangirling and Stephen King.

A close second goes to this crossover meme and a third to this Star Trek meme.

Happy 2014, y'all. Let's hope it brings us health, happiness, and awesome memes.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A Song for Sunday: Train - 50 Ways to Say Goodbye

A music video will usually make it to my favourites list a whole lot faster if it makes my jaw drop. (I wonder what that says about me?) Needless to say, this one was favourited pretty quick.

I haven't really thought about Train since, oh, highschool (Sorry, guys.) but this song gave me a major craving to go old school.

I don't know what I like best: the Mariachi band, the Hoff, or the ingenious ways of "killing off" his girlfriend. This song is just too much fun.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Homemade Holidays: Santa Spoons

Now that the holidays are done and dusted, it's time to look back at the crafts that kept me going during the darkest part of the year. 

I got these wooden spoons from Hobbycraft because I knew that I wanted to craft with them - I just didn't know what I wanted to craft. Then I came across this image while I was creating my Homemade Holidays board on Pinterest and knew exactly what these spoons were destined for:

Santa spoons!

I love crafting for the holidays (any holiday, really). Painting is not really my strong suit, though. I have to admit that I had a bit of help. I told Jay what I wanted and he drew the outlines for me. He also gave me a few tips as I worked.

"Add a bit of pink to his cheeks to make them look rosy."

"If you put a little white dot in his eyes, it'll make them stand out."

I used a combination of gouache and acrylic on these spoons and outlined everything with a black Sharpie to make it pop. With Santa's hat, I applied the white acrylic with a Q-Tip to make it look fluffy. I dabbed pink onto his cheeks with my pinky. That's pretty much the extent of my artistic ability!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Homemade Holidays: Popcorn Garlands

This holiday season I decided to try out some crafts that I had never done before. Making a popcorn garland was top of the list.

The tutorials I found online suggested using waxed thread but I didn't bother. I just used normal thread and it worked just fine. The only thing that's really important is making sure the strands aren't too long - just leave a long tail and tie them together.

I made mine with popcorn and cranberries:

Since our tree is more spooky than traditional, I put these on the trees outside and they were a big hit with the wildlife. This is one holiday craft that I'll be doing every year.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Meme of the Year 2013

I'm fascinated by memes - how they're created, how they spread, how they change our culture. (To be honest, memes are pretty much the only reason I use Facebook these days.)

In 2013, I started Monday's Meme of the Week to keep a record of the funniest and most influential memes of the year. I can look through them now and see the year play out in images, humour, and sarcasm. I'm so glad I started this weekly post because it reminds me of what was important: to the world and to me.

I thought it would be difficult to pick the best meme of 2013 - until I came across this post. Yes! The best, most important, culture changing, headline grabbing, meme spawning meme of the year is simple and powerful at the same time:

There's an interesting article here about the Human Rights Campaign and a good mash up of just some of the images that joined meme culture because of it.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what memes 2014 brings us and whether 2013's memes have any lasting impact. To find out, stay tuned to Monday's #MemeOfTheWeek!