May 24, 2012

Becoming a Craft Woman, Part 3.1

I chose a "homework" project that was a little ambitious for a beginner crafter like myself. As such, it is still a work in progress and won't be complete before the end of the week. But here's a little "work in progress" photo for y'all:

I'll post a more explanatory post when I get done with the skirt.

May 20, 2012

Sunday Special: Beauty

Spring has sprung here in Utah, and on my walk from the train to work I love looking at the green trees and the flowers everywhere and the blue sky. Because of this I've been thinking a lot about this wonderful world we get to live in and the amazing people that live in the world and I've realized something: Beauty is everywhere, but for some reason a lot of us don't acknowledge it. After wondering why this is, I have come up with two reasons why we don't see the beauty that is all around us.

First, dwelling on the ugly. There are ugly, evil, and wrong things in this world, there is no denying that. There are bad people who do ugly things, and natural disasters that destroy beauty. But, I truly believe that those are not the majority of things in this world, even though we hear about them more than anything else. What about the good people who treat everyone kindly, or work to make someone's life easier? What about blue skies, sunsets, trees, flowers, oceans, animals, beautiful architecture, art, music, books, etc.? Where is our focus?

I think it is necessary for us to know about the ugly things happening in the world, but that shouldn't be what we dwell on. I love reading those stories on Yahoo! about letters that find their destination 60 years later, or someone fighting against all the odds to fulfill their dream. I love reading about an ordinary person becoming someone's hero. I love looking at the stars at night and feeling like there is something so much more than me out there. There is a beauty that we can't even comprehend.

Second, comparisons. You always hear people say things like "There are so many more trees in Oregon--it's so brown here!" or "I wish I looked like her." or "I only date tall, dark, and handsome guys."or whatever. The thing is, beauty isn't something we can make a checklist for. There isn't one ideal of beauty and the more we compare places, people, and ourselves, to what we think of as the pinnacle of beauty, the more unhappy we are going to be. We have to learn to see something for what it is, not what it isn't. People don't go to the Grand Canyon for the forests, they go because it's beautiful in it's own way.

Here's an example. When I was in London, a Sunday School teacher at church asked those in my group what was the most beautiful thing we'd ever seen was. I answered that it was England. (They kind of gave me weird looks like, Really? This is a topic for another day though.) A couple of days ago I met a woman from England, but living in Wales, that had come to visit my grandparents. She loved Salt Lake City! She talked about how beautiful it was and that she never wanted to leave. Now, I think Salt Lake City is a really nice city, and I do think Utah is beautiful, but she had just come from Wales! She was appreciating SLC for what it was, not what it wasn't.

There is beauty in deserts, in forest, in plains, in beaches, in snow, rain, sun, tall people, short people, blue, black, and purple people, fish and mammals, cacti and trees, mountains, round people, and thin people. Find the beauty in whoever you are, whoever you meet, where ever you might be. Don't dwell on the bad things in life. Beauty is there and finding it will make you happier.

May 19, 2012

Playing Around in InDesign

Last night I decided I wanted to play around in InDesign a little bit and create a quote block that I could print out on nice paper and frame. You've probably seen those quote blocks that have each line a different size and they are justified to make a perfect square. 

So I got into InDesign and I started playing around with fonts, font size, kearning, etc. But I couldn't figure out how to make it look right. Well, this meant bringing out the big guns (ie, Daddy) to teach me how to do it. 

I had the right idea, but he taught me a few more things I needed to use to make this:
This is an 8 1/2" by 8 1/2" (or 51 picas by 51 picas). The quote font is aquaduct, and the signature is from a free Jane Austen font I found on the internet. I found the silhouette by typing in "Jane Austen silhouette" on google images and downloading the highest quality one.
First, make sure you have a hard return at the end of every line. I decided what words I wanted to really stand out (gentleman, lady, pleasure, stupid) and made sure they were on their own lines. I also but two spaces between each word on a line. Then for each line, you play with the font size until every just fits on the line without a word, or part of a word, being forced off. Next, you use the horizontal scale. This will stretch out your words a bit. I really can't think of any rhyme or reason to this, I just did it until it looked right (a professional typographer might have a problem with me saying that. :) ). Then it's time for the vertical scale. This will stretch your words upward. After you do that with every line, play with the leading--this is very necessary. Before I fixed the leading the lines were very far apart.

This creates such a fun little quote block, and once you know how to do it, it really doesn't take a lot of time! I'm even thinking of making this for wedding gifts, etc. You just get some scrapbook paper, print this out on one sheet, glue that on another sheet, and frame it!

May 16, 2012

Becoming a Crafty Woman, part 2

Michael's homework assignment for this week was to try a craft you've never tried before. 

Let me explain how hard this was for me. While I am no way a crafter, I have tried out a lot of crafts. This comes from two different things: 1) I grew up in Utah, which is basically the crafting capitol of the world, and 2) I grew up with a very crafty sister so when she tried something, I usually tried it too. I sat for a long time trying to think of what I had never done before, but all I could think of was what I had done: 

crochet (learned this in two different church youth groups)
cross-stitch (I've been doing this since I was about eight and the only thing I have continued to do over the years)
counter cross-stitch (learned at a church youth group, but have never really done it. The counting takes too much attention)
cake decorating
tying quilts
sand pictures
decorating pillow cases
And more that I can't think of right now.

Anyway, it was tough to think of something I'd never done. There was a craft fair in Provo Saturday, so I went with some friends and hoped that it would give me inspiration. As fun as the fair was, no inspiration came. So after dinner that night, Mom and I went to Hobby Lobby and walked around for about an hour, looking at what they had and hoping that something would come to us. 

As an example of how not crafty we are, about 80% of the things we saw we had no idea what you would use them for. I'm sure a crafty person could see those things and come up with a million ideas of use. In spite of this, I realized that Hobby Lobby makes you feel like you could be crafty. Oh yes, they're good. 

Finally I settled on knitting, which I had previously avoided because the two needle thing seemed too complicated. But it really isn't! Mom hasn't knitted for about 30 years, but after some fiddling around she remembered enough to help me cast on, do a basic knit stitch, and cast off again at the end. This is something I really like about crafting--usually it's something someone else teaches you and I like the idea of it being passed on. Unfortunately, it might stop with me because I don't know enough to be able to pass it on to anyone!

Here's my first knitting project: 

It's a dish cloth!
Oh, and don't worry, there are plenty of "worship flaws" in there. I didn't feel like taking it out and starting over again. (Laziness probably contributes to my non-crafty state.)

I actually might use the left over yarn to make a kind of "sampler" of different stitches. What I like about knitting (and cross-stitch/embroidery) is that it's something you can do in front of the TV. This makes it more pleasant than just sitting there knitting, and it also automatically makes your TV time productive! Win-win!

Anyway, I'm glad that Michael Ann is giving me these homework assignments because I'm learning a lot about myself.

May 13, 2012

Dedicated to the One Who Gave Me Birth

Mama, performed by Il Divo

Mama thank you for who I am, thank you for all the things I'm not
Forgive me for the words unsaid, for the times I forgot
Mama remember all my life you showed me love, you sacrificed
Think of those young and early days, how I've changed along the way
(Along the way)

And I know you believed and I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it took all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
And I miss you, yeah I miss you

Mama forgive the times you cried, forgive me for not making right
All the storms I may have caused and I've been wrong, dry your eyes
Dry your eyes

'Cause I know you believed and I know you had dreams
And I'm sorry it tok all this time to see
That I am where I am because of your truth
And I miss you, I miss you

Mama I hope this makes you smile, I hope you're happy with my life
At peace with every choice I made, how I've changed along the way
'Cause I know you believed in all of my dreams
and I owe it all to you, Mama

May 8, 2012

Becoming a Crafty Woman

I have this amazing friend, Michael Ann, who can just about take whatever she has lying around the house and make something amazingly awesome out of it. I do not have that talent. Which is why Michael's blog project for the month of May on becoming a confident crafter made me a little excited. If anyone can take the uncraftiness that is me and turn me into something somewhat resembling a crafter, it's Michael Ann. 

So the deal is, during the month of May, Michael will be posting different tips/tutorials about what you need to become a confident crafter, and then there will be a "homework assignment" at the end of each week for you to work on the following week. This week Michael talked about creating a space for crafting. Since I don't really have the space or the money to create one (and let's be honest, I'm just going to end up on the living room floor no matter what), I decided to jump right into the crafts!

Last year for Valentine's Day, Michael made this really cute banner (since this includes all instructions, I won't include them in my post). I thought that it looked so simple, even I could make it! (Famous last words, as you will see.) Instead of a Valentine's banner, I decided to make a banner that could hang in the living room I don't have in the house I don't own. Planning ahead and all that. (Can I just say I kind of like this whole decorating a nonexistent home thing; I can decorate however I want because money doesn't matter!)

So, I gathered my supplies and "created" my "space" (ie, my mom's living room floor. She loved that, especially since she had just picked it up. :) ).

Materials: Gingher fabric scissors, embroidery box (including thread and foldable sewing scissors), paper scissors, paper, pen, cup (for circles), felt (2 colors), fabric (2), and yarn
And here is my first beginner's mistake. I had no idea that you could buy less than a yard of fabric. Truly. They price it by the yard (probably on purpose to make unsuspecting beginners like me spend more money), so you must have to buy at least a yard, right? Well, I came home with TONS of felt. Then my mom told me I could have just bought a half, or a third, or whatever, of a yard. So, if anyone wants to make something, I have a lot of blue and yellow felt!

I have a vague memory of learning about some tribe, or people, somewhere who would purposely make mistakes in their handicrafts in order to praise God. If that's true, I've been praising God a lot this weekend! The sewing of the fabric onto the felt went alright, though my stitches aren't very even, and on a couple the fabric puckers a bit. For the record, I used four strands of embroidery thread.

Then came the felt letters. I asked Michael how she did her letters, and she just free handed hers. I decided to use a font as a pattern. I chose "andrea karime". It was the tracing and cutting of the letters that was really tedious to me and I almost wanted to give up, but I have a box full of unfinished crafts and I was determined to finish this one.

I finally got the letters cut out and hot glued on. (I did not do this on the living room floor. After the Rubber Cement Incident in the sixth grade, I know that glue and carpet do not go well together.) Then the yarn, which I had when I decided I wanted to make a Harry Potter scarf about a gajillion years ago (a scarf which is still unfinished). Then came something I feel really stupid about:

Notice anything wrong here? I could either hang it up opposite a mirror, or take it off the yarn and glue it on again. Le sigh. I thought I was finished, but not so much. 

So, three days later I tried again. They came out backwards. For the second time. Le sigh again.

And this reminded me why I don't like doing crafts: 1) It seems like everyone else can do a craft perfectly the first time, while I invariably always mess up. 2) Once I mess up, it's hard to want to continue on, especially this close to the end.

Anyway, in frustration, I attempted to do it again. This time my mom helped me figure out which way the letters had to go to end up right side up, but my two previous attempts at hot gluing (which I hate doing. You always burn yourself and there are those little glue strings that get everywhere) had made it so I could no longer attach the glue at the top of the letter, so instead I did it in the middle of the circle. I have no idea if this will work when hung on the wall (I'm picturing floppy letters falling forward, thereby being rendered unreadable), but I don't care at this point anymore. 

Here is the final product: 

Well, it's finally done. Blog points to whomever
knows what this is referencing. Whitney points
to whomever can give specifics.

May 3, 2012

New Mommy Survival Kit

I had a friend that just had a baby a couple of weeks ago, and I really wanted to get her something, as well as something for her new baby boy. 

I'm actually a little proud of what I came up with! My noncreativeness took a holiday and I came up with the idea of a "New Mommy Survival Kit," seen here:

Included in this gift is a movie (well, actually it was one of those four in one movie things--found at Target), chocolates, lip balm, lotion, bubble bath, and votive candles. Because even new moms deserve some "me" time every once in a while--even if it's just a ten minute bath! Then I got a basket from Hobby Lobby (which took much too long to find. Why can't they label things there?!) and tied on a ribbon that I already had.

I love giving gifts when I know that the person I'm giving them to is going to love them, and this present did not disappoint! There is no feeling like giving a good gift.