Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Random Roundup: Yarn + Biology = Win.

This version of Random Roundup is brought to you by my ecology textbook. I get the feeling it's going to be quite the carbuncle. Lots and lots of studying for that class. For your mini-science lesson today, ecology is a part of biology. Biology studies life and how organisms are formed. Ecology studies how organisms interact with their environment. In case you weren't aware, I'm kind of a biology geek. I adore learning about all the different types of life we can encounter on our pretty planet. I shoot right past adoration and into delighted tremors and squeaks when yarn and biology are combined. Talk about some "lively" crochet fun!! (Nudge, nudge...get it? Biology is the study of life, so "lively" crochet? Eh? Eh?)

Find the original picture here.

1) This first project isn't crochet (gasp!!!!) which I'm willing to overlook because it. is. so. cool. Fungi is my favorite Kingdom, after all. Leigh at BromeLeighad is knitting a different species of mushroom for each week of the year. Her series, 52 forms of fungi, is full of beautiful pictures and nerdy fun. I will be impatiently awaiting each week's installment. It almost makes me want to learn to knit. Almost.

Find the original picture here!

2) Who loves a virus? I do! I do! What's my favorite? This little guy. He's a bacteriophage. Crocheted by Oh Look, It's a Rabbit!, this idea opens up millions of microscopic crochet plushy possibilities.

You can find this picture here!

3) ELINart's etsy shop is full of fuzzy, moldy goodness. She crochets bacteria, lichen, and mold onto all sorts of fun things. I really love this "Moldy Madness" brooch. She's also done petri dish colonies in crochet. So fun!

Original picture here.

 4) Are you in need of a study buddy for your anatomy lessons? Shanell Papp at Bawdy has created that special someone for you! Her crocheted anatomically correct skeleton is sure to help you learn all of the human body's systems. I love the fuzzy green yarn used for the large intestine. Kind of gross in an awesome way. She's got some great pictures of her skeleton on display as well as the organs in jars. Check it out!

Original photo here

5) Last, but surely not least, is the Crochet Coral Reef by Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring. In honor of the Great Barrier Reef, this project has grown from a coffee table sized reef into several sub-reefs! When I first saw the picture, I didn't realize I was looking at crochet. I would really recommend reading this article if you are a crochet nut, it has some awesome info on hyperbolic crochet, a technique I want to learn more about! You also need to see the rest of the pictures. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.There's information on how to start your own satellite reef...anyone wanna crochet some coral with me????

That's it for this week! I hope this has got your creative brain mojo brewing! How fun would it be to crochet some of these projects? Any biology related items you'd like to see yarn form? I have attempted a human heart before, but for some reason never finished. I may just have to try it again someday! Even though history is my one true love, teaching science would be too much fun because I could fill up my classroom with crocheted fetal pigs and other icky fun. 

(Insert evil genius laughter here.)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Watermelon Cake and Movie in the Yard (Year 2)

To see my first post on movies in the yard and watermelon cake, go here.

For my aunt's annual movie in the yard night, I was asked to make another watermelon cake. My first one was such fun, I was absolutely ready to do another one. Watermelon cakes have exploded in popularity and it's such fun to see how simple fruits turn into beautiful creations.

I ran into a serious setback this year. I cut open my watermelon, which I had spent entirely too long selecting, and found this.

Rotten watermelon not soo good for watermelon cake.

Rotten. Ick. It was nothing but mush inside. When I went to shift it, half the insides went splat on the floor. I'm sure I said a word or two my daughters hopefully didn't hear.

After a quick phone call and a replacement watermelon, I got the rest of the fruit ready since I'd assemble the cake at my auntie's house. 

Making a mess!

I can't remember where I got these cookie cutters, but I use them all the time to cut sandwiches and fruit into cute shapes. They're a hard plastic that takes the abuse of thick food. I figured out that if I sliced the cantaloupe from the outside headed inwards, I got slices that were big enough to do several shapes at a time.


As I was putting the cake together people started arriving so it was kind of fun to answer questions. I threw a bit of this and that wherever looked good while I was chatting. For this cake I used a little over half a watermelon and we still had leftover slices.

Sage was trying to sneak off the cake!

Sage Muffin was determined to get some of the fruit as I was putting it together. She'd wiggle in between my legs and the counter to push me away and then try to climb up to get to the cake. Lily was off and running as usual and I don't think I got a single picture of that girl the whole night. 

Watermelon fruit cake v. 2

So there you have it. Watermelon cake version 2.0. It was delicious and the younger kids loved the skewers of fruit. Sage ate berries and watermelon and cheetos until I thought she'd be sick. Lily spent the entire movie whispering and eating candy with her cousins. There was tubs of popcorn and pickled cucumbers and fresh garden veggies and.. and...too much food. Too much delicious, tasty food.

Due to nasty weather, the movie was not actually on the yard. Instead we all loaded into the garage. It was kind of cozy. 

Movie in the yard.... in the garage.

It doesn't look like it in this picture, but there was quite a few of us! (You can see my rainbow bag on the floor next to my chair! It fit two blankets, diapers, some yarn, and a couple other things!) We watched Wreck-It-Ralph. There is one line that just makes me snicker every time. "All right ladies! The kitten whispers and tickle fights stop now!" Hee hee hee. If that doesn't make you at least snort, I don't know what to do with you. 

Much fun, much food, and late nights. It was the perfect end to summer. I start school on Monday....

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hat Party!

I finally have to admit that autumn is just around the corner. Everyone's talking hats. I'm crocheting lots of hats. Since I just recently sold my first crochet creation, a cutie owl hat, I've since sold several more and keep getting orders. Cool for my yarn addiction, not so cool for my homework in the upcoming weeks. Let's be serious, though. Yarn totally wins!

My favorite hat was the zebra hat. This one was for Lily as she was watching me make hat after hat. She asked me, "Mom, I might like a hat. Did you consider that?" We spent some time on pinterest and she decided on a pink zebra hat with googly eyes and long braids. I looked at several different versions being sold on Etsy and came up with my own design. It's a mish-mash of cute ideas.

Lily's zebra hat

I had to dig out my pom-pom maker for this hat and I can't seem to stop making the little fluff balls now. Sage likes to toddle around with them and throw them at the nearest innocent bystander when she feels she's being ignored. I have this idea of a pom-pom garland for my window. We'll see if it goes anywhere. I bet I could promote Lily to official pom-pom maker.

I also made a hat for myself. Having dreads usually means hats are hard to find, unless you don't mind wearing slouchy beanies or tams all the time. This hat, like so many of my other projects, has no rhyme or reason. I picked a stitch and a color as I looked through pictures for inspiration. Few rows of stitching are the same. I love the big happy flower on the side. 

I am now venturing into superheros and monsters. No, seriously.


It's the AMAZING Spiderman hat! 

The webbing will haunt me. Spent waaaaay too much time worrying away at that part. I finally ripped out the original yarn and replaced it with puffy paint. It's off to be loved by a cutie little guy in his up and coming photo portraits. 

Currently on my  hook is the wing for a Captain America's helmet. Is it weird making these is giving me the urge to have a hero movie marathon? I also get to try a monster hat next. And then maybe a My Little Pony. Lily's birthday is a few months away and she would die for a crocheted set of the "mane six" characters. Now that the idea is in my head, it's not going anywhere and I want to try it so I can play with them too! I'm such a sucker for kid's toys.

If you haven't noticed yet, I have started an FB page! I would love for you to join me and share your crafty creations or say hello! 

I've shared this post at Hooking on Hump Day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Remove anger. Replace with jubilation!

I have received a ton of feedback on my not so jubilant post about why I prefer to make my gifts, rather than buy "stuff." A big giant hug and maybe a sloppy kiss to all of you who have affirmed my choice in making the gifts I give you. I really love you. The joyful side of this Jessi is back and more excited than ever to sit down and cruise patterns for my Christmas gift giving list. I may have to make my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas song.

I was really quite surprised to find that my post was featured on Live Simply Free's Friday Faves posts. Apparently, I have an attitude. (Who, moi?) I love this blog. Tiny living, or living in small spaces is a bit of an obsession of mine and I adore hearing the stories of those doing it. The photography is stunning. I can't lie, I may be suffering from slight blog envy. :-)

This is a photo from Live Simply Free's blog. Stunning, right? Original here

So a big thanks is in order to Living Simply Free for the feature and again to all of you. You absolutely mean the world to me and won't ever get a gift card from me!!

Update: I've just found out that my rainbow bag was ALSO featured today! Buckets of giggly joy and one phone call to my mother who had no idea what I was talking about or why I was so excited.

For you crochet fanatics, you probably have been to Moogly's blog for one of her awesome free patterns. I was featured as #5 on a co-hosted Hooking on Hump Day Round-up. So cool! I need to give out one more round of thanks to Tamara at Moogly and Sarah at My Merry Messy Life

Now I am REALLY in a fantastic mood.  I gotta go crochet something.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My answer to why I don't just buy you gifts.

So, I mentioned to someone the other day that I am going to do a crochet Christmas again. (Spoiler alert: if you are on my gift list you just might get something crocheted!!)

That someone asked me in a slightly sarcastic voice, "Why don't you just buy gifts? Don't you think people would rather have something that isn't handmade?"




I don't remember what I mumbled as a reply because inside I was reeling.

I love hand making my gifts. When an occasion for a gift arrives, I don't wonder what store I need to run to, I wonder what I can make that they will enjoy and use. If I decide to buy something, I always look for a handmade option on a place like etsy so I can support someone who uses sweat, tears, and possibly a little blood (crafting type activities aren't for sissies) rather than some mindless drone from who knows where.

I have made scarves, blankets, hats, toys, kitchen cloths, more toys, clothes, and even the occasional edible treat. I have always been proud of myself since I made the shift to handmade gifts. I am not putting cash in an envelope, I am taking the time to put love and caring in each of these gifts.

Is that wrong? Have I made a mistake? Do people pretend to enjoy my gifts all the while wishing I had thrown some cash into a card with a sentiment someone else wrote? Have I looked like some poor, clueless hippie chick who doesn't realize people want the store bought crap any other person can have?

That One Comment threw my confidence and pride in countless hours of work out the window. Gone. It hurt. If words were weapons, I would have been bleeding from somewhere vital.

After stewing and replaying that one comment over and over in my head, I came to one conclusion.

If you don't want handmade gifts from me then you're missing out on something special, you idiot.

Okay, that's probably a little harsh. Lily would tell me not to call other people names because it is mean.

If I make you a gift, know that its probably not perfect. It may have imperfections, it maybe isn't the gift card you wanted. It may not be the latest fad item that everyone wants and it may not be from that popular store. That handmade gift doesn't have a price tag to compare to other gifts. It doesn't have a designer label or a famous person attached to its marketing campaign.

But before you toss it into the  back of your closet for dust bunnies to live in, consider something for me.

It often costs more for materials to make one item than to buy several. No price tag doesn't make it worthless. Even a quick and easy project will often take several hours to crochet, sew, or glue. That's time that could be spent with my kids or cleaning my bathroom, or reading that book I have been waiting months to read. I can't set worth to my gifts because they are worth more than fabric or yarn. They have my heart and affection attached to every single stitch. These gifts are made to be loved and you can keep them for years and create memories with them. In fact, it is my greatest hope that you do.

If you choose gift cards over my handmade gifts, that's fine. I will even go buy you the gift card and take my handmade creations back. Better than the alternative of having my hard work unappreciated and discarded.

I won't stop hand making gifts. I won't stop being proud that handmade is a big part of who I am. I am still going to blog abut these things that I make and continually bother my husband with questions about color choices. I am still going to worry about taking pictures of every single thing I make so that I can remember each project. I am am always going to hope that my gifts are loved and appreciated. I am always going to look for new gift ideas. I am going to crochet as many Christmas gifts as I can and I am proud of it. I am going to put my personal projects aside to make something specially for you.

So, like I said, if you aren't happy with my gift to you, that's fine. I will take note and not waste my time on you in the future when another birthday comes. Just know that you're the one missing out. Not me.

To those who have enjoyed my gifts and appreciate them, THANK YOU!!!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Owls and rainbow bags...

what I've been up to

I finished two great projects this week. I'm pretty proud of them.

 The bag is another one from Lucy at Attic 24. I think I've mentioned in the past how much I love her crochet patterns.

 The owl hat has the distinction of being the first crochet item I've ever sold. That's big for me because I've been pretty seriously thinking about selling my crochet through etsy or some such way. Having someone buy and appreciate what you've made is so extremely satisfying.

Attic 24 bag
 I love the bright happy colors of the bag. I love that there was no rhyme or reason to the color stripes. I love that I can take it to the Saturday market and fill it up with the treasures I find there.

 This bag is BIG. In fact, big is not a big enough word for this bag. Gigantic. That would be a good word. It's really TOO big to use as a daily purse... but I have been anyways because it's so awesomely colored. Sage fits in this purse. With a teddy bear or two for company. (Hey, she crawled into it, I didn't put her there.)

You can read about Lucy's bag and find the tutorial here or here. I have yet to put on the flowers because I got too distracted by wearing the bag to the market.

 The owl hat was super fun too. I'm totally in love with owls. And since I can sneeze and probably hit something owl related every time I go into a store now, I know I'm not the only one. These hats are all over etsy and pinterest. Isn't it cute?

Owl hat 1
 It's part of a much more owlish Halloween costume that my dear friend is making for her adorable daughter. She still had to wear it at the park this morning, even though it was sweating, holy moly hot outside.
Owl Hat in motion!
I didn't follow one single pattern, but I did use a few for inspiration. You can find them here and here.

For you yarn lovin' folks, I used Lily Sugar and Cream cotton yarn for the bag. I wanted it washable. My life is full of adventures, I need easy. I used plain Jain acrylic yarn for the hat. Wouldn't it be fun do do in some chunky, delicious yarn?

Summer's going by too fast. I don't have near enough time to crochet all the things I have saved up to do!! I wonder if there is a bachelor's degree in crochet that I could switch to for the fall? Would that fix the problem?

I linked this post to Hooking on Hump Day  Craft-O-Maniac Monday  Making the World Cuter Mondays  The Weekly Creative Link Party

Random Roundup: what I've been up to.

Those of you bloggers out there who do this regularly in the summer have my deepest respect! It's tough to fit in. I have five million things to blog about, but no time. So, I'm doing a roundup of things I have been wanting to blog about.

#1: My dreadlocks are now 4 years old! Happy dreadiversary!

Counting Down 25 days to 4 years old!

I'm kind of to the point where I want to cut them. I have to do so in 6 months anyway, and I'm really loving on short hairstyles right now. Dreads are hot, yo. I'm waffling. I would keep them forever if I knew I could, but teaching with dreadlocks in my area is probably as possible as Lily eating broccoli. So now that I know I have to cut them, I want to cut them when I want to, not when I have to. And yes, I'm listening to how much sense I'm not making. I think it's time to break out some funky dye and do something wild. When in doubt, add a rainbow. That's my motto.

#2: Colored. Ice cubes.

pool fun

I randomly saw this on pinterest and can't remember who had the original idea to credit. I threw some neon food dye in a batch of star shaped ice cubes and let the kids play with them in the pool. They were so entertained I was able to read a whole chapter in my book. That's rare during the monsters being awake portion of the day. You should probably put kiddos in older swimsuits in case of staining.

#3: The coolest mushroom in existence.

Lionhead Mushroom

It's called a lionhead mushroom. It's furry. And delicious with a bunch of other mushrooms in mushroom risotto.


Ant infestation

I feel like a mass murderer lately. They just won't. stop. coming. out. of my front porch. Normally I'm a let live type, but it's gross and Sage sits there and tries to eat them. Ugg. I have kids and dogs and can't use chemicals.  Tried a gazillion non-chemical remedies. Verdict? Soapy dishwater and cornmeal. Worked amazingly. My walkway is covered with the little ant bodies. (Note to self: spray off the walkway.)

#5: Lily left us last week. So Sage decided to practice for when she gets her Hogwarts letter.

Sage is practicing for Hogwarts.

She crawled into one of Dad's shirts and grabbed my wand off the bookshelf. Much hilarity ensued.

#6: Sage also had her first painting session! She painted almost as much as she ate the paint.


I simply put food dye into corn syrup. Once her masterpiece dried, I sprayed it with some top coat and I'm going to frame it for our wall. Clean up was not easy, but the rainbow colored water did look pretty.

#7: I made another baby shower gift. This time it was an owl lovey. Turned out super cute. It even rattled! Working on writing the pattern for it, possibly to share later.

Owl lovey

#8: I wore makeup. Haha. I nearly made it to 60 days makeup free! Oh well. It was date night and the Hubster got all fancy, so I did too. I forgot how much fun makeup is when it's not a daily chore!!


So there you go. What we've been up to lately, if you leave out about half the stuff we're doing. Hehe. Who agrees with me that there needs to be at least two more hours added to the day?


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