Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zentangle

When I was a kid, I used to entertain myself in church by drawing little doodles all over the bulletin with the automatic pencil my dad kept in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. Anyone else do this? I filled in all the o's. I wrote my name in bubble letters. And I made doodles like this:

I was onto something and didn't even know it.

This is what I found on Pinterest:

A Zentangle is an abstract drawing made by using repetitive patterns in black ink on white paper. There is a real, honest-to-goodness Zentangle Method, with instructors and copyrights and everything. According to Wikipedia, the definition and process of Zentangle is very deep and includes getting in a meditative state as you work on the project. There is no real pattern and no right or wrong (not entirely true, and I'll get to that). Plus, it's simple, requiring nothing but a pen and paper and a little bit of imagination (or you can sample from the many examples found on the internet). It differs from a doodle in that it requires the full attention of the artist and should be done in a quiet place. While doodling may be similar, doodles are done when the person making them is having trouble concentrating on an activity, like a phone call or a class (or a church service). 

Since I am NOT following the teachings of the Zentangle Method and don't intend to, I guess you could say I made a fancy doodle, but it was a doodle that took me a couple of hours to do, it was really fun, and there certainly was a Zen quality to the whole process.

The Pinterest pin I found suggested starting by tracing circles, some of them overlapping (and making it look like a drunken Venn diagram), to create the base for the picture. I did so using a cd and the lid from a mason jar candle.

I got so excited about this that I forgot to take a picture
of the template before I started decorating it. Sorry.

Then you just start filling in patterns in all the spaces. I looked at some of the ones from the Pinterest pin, and I also checked a few other sites for inspiration.

Look what you can do with a Sharpie and a piece of cardstock!

The best part of this is you really can't do it wrong. If you hate it, throw it away and start over. IT'S JUST PAPER. In fact, the real Zentangle Method stresses the use of a pen instead of a pencil is because life can't be erased (I TOLD you the Method was very deep).

One little exception to the "can't do it wrong" theory: one of the spaces I decorated went horribly wrong. Horribly.

Instead of a unique pattern, I drew what appeared to be a vagina.

I tried to fix it. I added tiny polka dots.

It made it worse.

When Emma got home from school, she was very impressed with my creation, until I showed her the vagina.

She clapped her hand over her mouth and laughed. At me.

When the picture was completely done, I tried once again to fix the vagina. 

Hopefully, the sea of striped boobs will distract the eye
from the poorly disguised vagina.

I think it's lovely! AND I can now add pornographic illustrator to my resume.

Pinterest WIN!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yarn

Y isn't just for yarn, as in arm knitting with yarn. It's for YEAH, BABY, I DID IT!

The pin:

This is a link to a video on arm knitting an infinity scarf. True story. You use your arms as knitting needles. OF COURSE, I'm going to try this!

I found the yarn she recommended for the project at Michael's. It was around $6 for a skein, and it required two skeins, but I had a 50% off one item coupon, so that helped. 

Here is the most important thing to know about arm knitting. Go to the bathroom before you start. 

The hardest thing about this project was trying to watch a YouTube video while simultaneously knotting yarn onto my arms. I had to stop and start it A LOT until I got the hang of casting on. Keeping the yarn tight enough (without threat of cutting off circulation) was also an issue. But after the fourth try (YES, FOURTH), I finally got the hang of it.

Looky! I'm knitting!

Contrary to how it looks, I am not wearing an apron;
I draped a white pillowcase over my lap so the charcoal yarn
would show against my dark jeans. Not the effect I was hoping for.

Ruby was mysteriously absent during the arm knitting. I was considering myself both grateful and wary, as she has been in the thick of helping me on every project for my A to Z Challenge, and her missing is akin to a toddler being strangely quiet somewhere in the house. Never fear, Fletcher couldn't resist the yarn and joined me.

He may look relaxed, but he's got a paw-full of yarn.

Once I got going, it took me a little over 30 minutes to get the scarf to the length I wanted it.

When I got it to the length I wanted, the last knitting step is casting off. I wasn't thrilled with how that went, but I didn't know how to fix it without unraveling the whole thing, and after four false starts, that just wasn't an option. 

Maggie, the knitter in the YouTube video, was rather vague about sewing the ends together to make it an infinity scarf. I did it the best I could and it's fine, as long as you don't look too closely. Besides, any seam that might feasibly show would be hidden by my hair.

Here it is:

Oh, and where was Ruby during all this? She had quietly gotten up on a table, knocked down a spool of satin ribbon that I was using for the washer necklaces, and had wound the ribbon all underneath the table and the laundry basket that was on the floor. See? Toddler.

A trail of ribbon.

The (now empty) spool or ribbon at the end
(or beginning, depending on your frame of mind)
of the ribbon maze under the table.

And it's another Pinterest win, although I never would have believed it would happen on attempts one through three of the project.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for X-ray

Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach the concept of the letter "X" to preschoolers? "B" - easy - balloon, banana, band-aid, blast-off. "Q" - a little more work, but quack, quilt, quail, quarter.

"X"? Well, it doesn't BEGIN very many words, but it's, umm, a very USEFUL letter. Sooo, x-ray. Xylophone, but that doesn't make the "x" SOUND. X-ray....

Sure, you can talk about EX words. Or words that END with "x". Go ahead. Talk about those with 4 and 5 year olds. I'll wait....

Back to x-ray, aren't we? 

I'm lucky enough to have a couple of x-rays to show the kids. Many of them have been to the dentist and had their teeth x-rayed. And that pretty much sums up "x".

Not anymore.

My friend Kristi at Thankful Me came through for me BIG TIME with this pin:

Found on

Note: my friend Ivy at Uncharted also sent me a pin to use with "x". I chose based on availability of supplies.

Speaking of supplies, here's the list: two paper towels per child (the half sheet ones are perfect), Elmer's glue, black liquid watercolors, eye dropper (I used a pipette). 

Trace the child's hand and arm on one of the paper towels.

I just used a plain ol' Sharpie to trace the hand.

Using the Elmer's glue, draw "bones" on the hands and arm.

Squeezing on the glue.

Fold the second half of the paper towel over the first and press gently all over. You will see the glue spreading, and yes, some of it will seep through the paper towel, but I promise it's not that messy.

Pressing the two halves of the paper towel together, glue in between.

Pour a little liquid watercolor in a cup and add some water (I probably used about 3 parts water to 1 part liquid watercolor).

Use the pipette to drip the black paint all over the paper towel. The "bones" will start to show through, but the paint won't stick to it.

You can see the glue showing through and the outline of the hand.

This was the fun part.

Learning to fill the pipette was also fun.

And done. 

Ta daaaaaa! An x-ray!

The liquid watercolor continued to soak into the paper towel
and spread until the whole thing was black.

 I LOVE this! 


Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Washer Necklace

I swear I took more pictures of today's project than I seem to be able to locate on my phone, but apparently, I confuse THIS project with one of the 22 OTHER Pinterest projects I have taken pictures of this month for the A to Z Challenge. I apologize in advance for the lack of illustrations.

Here's the pin:

Found on

The main supplies needed for this are washers of any size, hole punches that match the size of the hole on the inside of the washers (guess what I didn't have?), scrapbook paper, diamond glaze, sharp scissors, craft glue (I have two big bottles of Elmer's School Glue, will that do?), beads, and ribbon or hemp cord.

Our basement is currently a picture of disorganization, but I was just SURE I would be able to find a variety of washers down there. If there were a variety, they were well hidden, and I had to settle for three different ones in three entirely different sizes. If I had taken a picture of them, that picture would go right here:

*imagine washers here*

I picked up several sheets of scrapbook paper when I was making glass pendants, and I also had diamond glaze from that project. I had a hole punch, but, naturally, it didn't match the center of any one of the three washers I found. The rest of the stuff was still on my table from (yes, still) the glass pendant project, so I was ready to go. 

I followed the directions and cut out a small square of scrapbook paper, traced the washer on the wrong side, and used the hole punch to make a hole in the center of the circle. Using the scissors, I cut out the circle, then glued it onto the washer. If I had taken pictures of all this, they would be here. As it is, all you get is a paper circle and a washer:

Next came the tricky part. Because I didn't have a hole punch the EXACT SAME SIZE as the center of any of my washers, I had to use the scissors to nip off bits of the paper until I got it the same size as the hole. This is when I found out my little pair of scrapbooking scissors is getting rather dull (anyone know if I can sharpen them with that stick thing in my knife block?). Last, I used an emery board to file the edges of the washer, which helped smooth the paper edge. Next problem encountered: the hole was smaller than the emery board, so I did a less than satisfactory job of smoothing the inner circle, but I did the best I could.

After the edges are smooth, diamond glaze is applied to the front of the washer and allowed to dry (it has been really humid around here, and I have allowed a minimum of 18 hours for the glaze to set and harden on this and the glass pendant projects). 

Applying the glaze.

Glaze applied.

Last step is to tie on a ribbon or cord. Easy. Or would be, if you didn't have Ruby "helping." Then add a bead to the cord and tie it in place. Not as easy. First issue, still getting help from Ruby. Second, I bought some glass beads, but the hole was too small (I seem to be having hole problems with this project***). After digging around through all my craft supplies, I found some cheap, crappy pony beads, but as my mom says, po' folks has po' ways, and I made do with them. 

Ruby stealing my hemp. Again.

End result:

I think they're pretty, but I'm not crazy about the hemp cord.

Waiting for her chance to steal one. She LIKES the hemp cord.

And since I came home from my parents' house tonight with a baggie full of washers of various sizes, I think I will call this a Pinterest win!

My dad was able to spare a few washers from his collection.

*** That's what she said.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vase

The Pinterest pin said you could paint a mixture of Elmer's glue and food coloring onto anything glass to create a sea glass effect. Easy enough. The pin showed candlesticks that were painted, and they were certainly pretty:

I chose to paint a vase instead of candlesticks because (a) I needed something for "V" and (b) they didn't have any candlesticks at the DAV Thrift Store.

Next stop was to Dollar General (because it was close) for Elmer's glue. All they had was Elmer's School Glue, so I bought a couple of bottles and went home. Then I got to wondering about the difference between Elmer's Glue All and Elmer's School Glue, so I Googled it and found out that both are water soluble when wet, but the school glue also remains water soluble when dry. Thinking that the glue remaining water soluble after drying wouldn't be a very good characteristic for a vase, I was about to go out and get the real stuff when I saw a different pin for the same project that said you could use Mod Podge instead of Elmer's glue, and as luck would have it, I actually had some of that!

Just a teaspoon of Mod Podge and a teaspoon and a half of water, plus a few drops of food coloring (used the stuff I bought for the Rainbow cake - yay, me!) and a sponge brush, and I was ready to go. 

I painted on a coat of gluey color stuff.

Obviously multiple coats were in order. It was also very streaky, but I figured that would even out after a few coats were applied.

Um, no.

This is how it looked after a few coats:

See? Streaky and a globby.

A couple of big drips formed while the last coat was drying,
so I tried to pick them off. When I did, every bit of the gluey painty stuff
peeled right off, down to the glass. Repainting did not help.

From a distance, not so bad. Up close, crap, crap, crappy.

Here's my recommendation. You want a blue vase? Buy a blue vase.

Pinterest fail.

The end.

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Under

Take one look at this and ask yourself how I could possibly resist taking on this Pinterest project?

Found on

Naturally, I ran into a problem with having adequate supplies for the project. I had a sufficient amount of cats (NOT a sufficient amount of COOPERATIVE cats, but that's for later). What I DIDN'T have was a glass topped table. I looked on Craig's List and found one, a sofa table, actually, and I liked it, even though it didn't really go with my decorating style (which might be called Early Grandma). AND it was only $20. I mentioned it to Scroogy McScrooge (mistake), and he was less than supportive. MUCH less.

Not to be discouraged, I scoured my church building. I didn't find a glass top table, but I found a table with a glass top, which was going to have to do. I brought the glass top home, cleaned it, and set it on top of two stools. It wasn't a glass top table, exactly, but it was the best I could do.

Enter uncooperative cats.

Pete came to see what I was doing, but at 27 pounds, HE calls the shots on what he is or isn't going to do. He chose to hiss at Ruby and hang around in the same room, but he refused to participate in any other way. And in all honesty, I was a little worried about his fat cat ass breaking the glass, so I didn't press the issue.

Fletcher is the more docile of our three kitties. We call him Eeyore, and I thought I would get an "Ohhh, bother" out of him and then he would sull up and lie on the glass for me. I thought wrong.

Ruby was really the one I had hoped to bag.

She finally came around when I bribed her with a twist tie and a Hershey kiss to play with. 

She is UNDER the glass, trying to get the twist tie on TOP of the glass.

Outsmarting me.

Score! She's on the glass! Of course, she stole the twist
tie and ran off with it, causing an interruption in the photo shoot.

Ruby was afraid to walk on the glass at first. By the end of our project, she was trotting across it like a trained circus act. The only problem was I wanted her to SIT or LIE DOWN on it and not just walk, but I took what I could get.

Finally sat.

Fascinated by me lying on the floor under the glass.

Still fascinated. Came down to get a better look at me.


Me from Ruby's point of view.

My assessment of the Pinterest pin?

The pictures were not taken by rank amateurs using an iPhone.

The cats were used to glass top tables and not freaked out by the illusion that there was nothing under them.

The cats were obviously drugged.

I'm still calling it a Pinterest win, in my and Ruby's own way.

Thankful All The Way

The good thing about my A to Z Challenge theme is that I have been making food and crafty stuff, a lot of which has been tasty or cute (not both). The bad thing is that it takes up a whale of a lot of time, and I'm so far behind in reading blog posts from my friends who are participating in the A to Z Challenge, let alone reading the ones from the bloggers I've met DURING the A to Z Challenge, that the whole thing makes me just want to take a nap. Before I do that, let me present this week's Ten Things of Thankful (and please forgive me if I don't get to everyone's posts this week): 

1. While I'm love, love, loving the A to Z Challenge, it's almost over! Six more entries and I will have A to Z Survivor status.

2. National Honor Society induction for Emma was this week. We've known a lot of the kids who were inducted for a long time, but one special group of six kids have gone to school together since kindergarten. They attended the same elementary school, middle school and high school and are all still friends. Emma knows every one in that group has her back, and that's a good thing.

3. Emma was sworn in as Student Council Vice President the next night. Very proud of her and her leadership skills.

4. Always thankful for 4 year old giggles. We are making a bouquet of flowers from our handprints for the bulletin board in my Primary class, and after I painted the first hand purple, pressed it to the paper, then wiped the paint off with a wet wipe, this is what we were left with:

Ohh, the giggles that ensued! Fortunately, my assistant was able to scrub the hands with soapy water and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and turn them from magenta to just pink.

5. Thankful for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers.

6. Still ant-free!

7. Sea salt and cracked pepper kettle fried potato chips from Aldi.

8. I get to see the College Boy this weekend! We're going to pick him up tomorrow and spend a little time at the lake house.

9. Pinterest wins that aren't even part of my A to Z Challenge! I found this cute picture on Pinterest that I pinned, but when I went to get directions to use it at preschool, I found out it wasn't a craft but a print you could purchase on Etsy. That's okay, I just made my own pattern, and the kids made the dandelion fuzz with Q-tips dipped in white paint.

10. Can we just take a look at that rainbow cake again? I think it's worth a thankful.

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