requiem for a different dream...

i am considering committing to thirty-one days of blog posts during that month whose name we no longer speak... maybe. this was prompted by a recent revelation when i grabbed a piece of paper and started to make a list of things i meant to get around to blogging about, but never did. then it got worse when i took a quick glance at a few pages of old posts, and i realized how many more things i said i would revisit, but i never did. so now i want to commit to spending Jultember tying up loose ends... maybe.

i will revisit one recent topic right now.

if you have been following along with this week of posts, you may recall my lofty dream of starting a bonsai from scratch. i did note that i have a habit of killing such things. well, it is less than a week later, and that prophecy has been fulfilled.

i am going to call this one requiem for a different dream.

sayōnara, future-bonsai. i am sure it would have been grand.

i would like it noted, in my defense, that he was the one who procured the young seedling from among his precious balcony plants. he plucked the thing out of the soil as though it was a weed. i have instructed him to use a trowel next time to keep the soil intact around the roots, which implies that i might give this whole crazy plan another try... maybe.


insomnia and ice cream...

i am having trouble sleeping of late, a fact with is made all the more frustrating when i find myself laying awake next to a person who has probably never missed a single night of sleep in his life. he has zero understanding of how/why insomnia happens. as a result, he keeps offering the same advice.

him: you just need to learn how to blank your mind.

then i usually give him one of those looks that speaks volumes... and none of it is stuff he really wants to hear.

the worst part is that i know exactly why this happens. i get stressed and/or frustrated, and my mind instantly starts working overtime, which is one of the chief enemies of a good night's sleep. my stress response in life can pretty much be summarized as 'insomnia and ice cream'. meanwhile, he starts snoring at the first sign of stress. so unfair.

him: it will sort itself while i sleep.

then i just shake my head... and i start digging through the freezer for some Häagen-Dazs, because clearly i need to do a bit of stressing on his behalf.

so, this is where you find me. i had about half a million things i wanted to do before it starts snowing again. Summer is halfway through, and i am struggling to maintain enough sanity to fall asleep most days. i think it is fair to say that some of those ambitions will have to be tabled for some other year.

for example, we made lofty plans to reupholster our two sofas this Summer. we even went to the fabric store and walked through aisle after aisle of pretty, suitable fabrics. that experience proved to be overwhelming. there are approximately five billion upholstery fabric designs in existence, and there is a bolt of every single one of them in that fabric store.

that is when the panic kicked in.

what if i change my mind about which design i want while the guy is already cutting the fabric? what if we mess up the fabric and have to spend another chunk of money to replace it? or, what if we realize that we really are too stupid to operate his dad's air compressor? [if you were here when we tried to get the thing started for the first time, you would already have the answer to that last question.]

so we decided to start with something slightly-less-ambitious, and we got enough fabric to refinish the dining chairs... and we also took a trip to Home Depot to purchase an electric heavy-duty stapler that did not leave us both feeling like we just failed an IQ test.

this is what the chairs looked like before. seriously, what kind of lunatic covers chairs in almost-white fabric?

he removed all of the staples...

and we added the new fabric to the cushioned bases.

a few million super-heavy-duty staples later, and we had new fabric on the chairs.

we chose this fabric in part because it lacks total symmetry, which means that it will be a challenge to my brand of OCD for years to come. there was a small bit leftover, which has been added to my sewing pile to be turned into a zippered bag for storing yarny things.  

i feel almost ready to tackle those two sofas... just as long as there is ice cream in the freezer for when things go terribly wrong.


house of Absurdity...

you know you live in a house full of absurdity when your ridiculous requests go totally unquestioned.

me: uhm... sweetie, i need you to do me a tiny favor.
him: what?
me: i need you to... uhm... add some... uhm... censorship strips to... uhm...[long pause here]... a picture of naked Barbie dolls.
him: send me the picture.

and just like that, it was done.

i mentioned back at the start of the year that i was stepping wayyy outside my comfort zone by making clothes for Barbie dolls. well, that was just the beginning of the absurdity.

let me pause here to point out that i am not exactly a fan of Barbie. i do, however, love love LOVEEE making stuff. so, when one of his brother's kids started carrying around an armful of Barbies, i responded in the only way i could. i knitted and sewed a bunch of tiny clothes for Barbie dolls.

naturally, this meant that i had to purchase my own Barbie dolls. a dressmaker needs models, after all. i got a "regular size" Barbie and a "curvy" one so that i could cover the full spectrum. the smaller one was actually some sort of Scientist Barbie, which i chose because i like to torment myself every now and then with reminders of what my life used to be. and, yes... my cat is sniffing Barbie. i am sure there is a hashtag for that.

where was i? oh, yes... Barbie.

so, here is my tiny fashion show in all its glory. forget the "house" of Chanel or Givenchy or Dior. they are all amateurs. allow me to introduce you to the house of Absurdity. enjoy!

i did quite a bit of sewing for dolls back in the day, but this was my first time knitting for Barbie, so i spent some time picking out the right pattern to begin with. unfortunately, i picked out a yarn that was slightly too thin, so the overalls turned out a bit... uhm... well-fitted. it almost feels like i should be asking for another censorship strip.

i went for  thicker yarns, and both ladies now had slightly-less-well-fitted overalls.

then i made a dress that seemed more appropriate for Scientist Barbie to wear when standing up in front of a room full of university students who are pretending not to be looking at nonsense on the internet while she drones on about the parts of the brain. ask me how i know.

and i made a couple tunic-style sweaters that could be worn on their own, or with pants. if memory serves, the greenish-blue sweater was loosely based on this one, and the reddish-pink one was something i made up on the go. [random aside: that designer has a ton of Barbie-sized patterns (most of them are free) available in about eleven languages on her website and on Ravelry.]

 those pants were repurposed from some old sweats, so feel free to thank me for saving the planet.

i made the template for the pants by tracing a line around each doll onto some sub-par watercolor paper that we have been trying to get rid of for years. the pants were the perfect sizes, so i made two more, this time using stretch lace of the kind that is intended to be used as the trim on tacky dresses for weddings and sweet sixteens.

they are super-adorable with these strapless dresses...

which i made from some cheap Reebok socks that i found on sale somewhere. that one sock looks a bit smaller because i tossed it in the wash to see if it would shrink... and it did.

my absolute favorite item of all was the party dress for Curvy Barbie. in a word... stunning!

then i sorted the whole lot into two piles...

placed each pile into its own little bag...

and sent them off to the kid, who was only momentarily disappointed that is was not a tin full of chocolates. this was so much better.

naturally, i forgot to include (or even photograph) one item. the party dress for Dimensionally-Challenged Barbie. now i am going to be accused of being a reverse-sizeist.

i have enough scraps of fabric and leftover bits of yarn to make clothes for an army of Barbies, so there definitely will be more to come. and i have to add that i might have been more of a fan of this franchise if Curvy Barbie existed back in my day, because she has dimensions to which i can definitely relate.

now i feel like i need to go knit or sew some more tiny things. this will not end well.


blame it on the bingo...

the crafting world is full of "alongs". that being, people making/doing the same thing at roughly the same time for some shared sense of support and community. i am a self-proclaimed curmudgeon, so i really hate "alongs". naturally.

the rest of the fiber-crafting community, however, absolutely loves this sort of thing. whether it is a new pattern by a popular designer, or a new colorway from a favorite hand-dyer of yarns, there is always an along to be had.

so, after many years of shaking my head dismissively at so many of these groups, it saddens me to announce that i am engaging in what will be the first (and likely last) along of my fiber-crafting life.

this came about as a challenge of sorts to stop being so much of a curmudgeon about... well... everything. and i chose this particular along because it had the most "do whatever the heck you want" ruless of any i could find.

the good people over at the Wet Coast Wools (which is both a podcast on the You Tubes and a yarn shop in Vancouver) are hosting a year-long Bingo-along. that is correct. they have created a harmonious blend of knitting (or crocheting, if you are into that sort of thing)... and BINGO. yes, please!

i joked at first that i would enter it if only to have something to regret as the year went on, and it turns out that i was not wrong. it is now approaching the middle of July, and i have yet to cross a single square off of the bingo card. boy do i ever regret this decision.

seriously, it was less than two months in, and people were already asking if they could start working on a second bingo card. meanwhile, i have set myself the goal of completing one row, and i am already failing at that.

i have more than enough projects in various stages of doneness that could be finished up and applied to said effort, but that would require me to be motivated or concerned, and i definitely do not resemble either of those things at present.

i did manage to finish one small project that would qualify for the "make something for an animal" square on the bingo card. see it?

how about now?

it is shown here modeled by my middle-kitty, Philly, a) because she looks like the model-kitty in the pattern, and b) because the other two cats had sense enough to go into hiding when i was looking for a furry mannequin.

it is a cape-like garment that is designed to keep a cat (or similar sized dog) warm, which makes sense for the recently-shaved cat in the original pattern photos. my cat, however, is about seventy-five percent fur, so the last thing she needs is even more warmth.

and, no... i do not intend to make a habit of knitting clothing for my cats. this was a one-off item that i made one evening while trying to distract myself from how disgusted i feel these days by the world around me. it was a brand new pattern that had just been posted to Ravelry, and i could not stop laughing at the thought of trying to get one of my cats into something like that.

i can assure you that Philly was not happy about being chosen to be the model, and she absolutely refused to look at me while i was taking the photographs. such a diva.

for now, the sweater will live in one of the nooks on my wall display of yarn-filled cans.

if memory serves, it was pouring outside... and i was sipping on some craft beer... and he was listening to music of some kind. so, while i could choose to blame it on the rain, the alcohol, or the boogie, i am going to blame it on the bingo.


a bonsai begins...

as i mentioned a couple days ago, we had to make a swift exit from the garden center before we ended up purchasing more plants than we had space to accommodate. the urge to spend money was especially strong in the bonsai section. sadly, the obsession did not end with our exit.

it should be noted that i am somewhat overconfident when it comes to the subject of growing all sorts of stuff. i can grow most of the tropical things that show up in people's homes as houseplants, and i welcome the challenge of growing all sorts of edible things.

i do, however, have two weaknesses where plants are concerned: i have never met an orchid that i did not kill, and i am genuinely afraid of being left alone with a bonsai, because it too will likely die. i skipped right past the display of orchids at the garden center, but i was absolutely smitten by all things bonsai.

naturally, it would not be enough to just buy one of the things and try to keep it alive. no. i decided that i wanted to start from scratch. luckily, we live in a place with lots of tree varieties that would be perfect for this sort of absurdity.

i was waxing poetically about all of the local trees i could use, when he turned and pointed at the massive old maple on the other side of the wall of glass. we are always having to weed mini-maples out of the balcony garden plants, which means that the thing i was looking for was literally right outside my door.

skip forward to the next day (a few-several hours ago, to be precise), when he stepped in from the balcony and handed me what i thought at first was a weed he probably wanted me to identify.

him: here is your future bonsai.

the main challenge with growing a tree while trying to keep it relatively tiny is to limit the amount of space in which the roots have to grow. i repurposed a little four-inch pot that housed one of the many transplants we purchased for a series of planting projects (which i will talk about at some point in the near future).

add one mini-maple, and... TA DA!!! a bonsai begins.

then i watered it and added it to a tray that contains a few other tiny plants, including a chunk of moss that was locally sourced... which is a polite way of saying that i scraped off a chunk of moss from the walkway alongside a local canal. it too will end up in a future project... if it survives that long.

and they are living for now on my highly-untidy workspace, next to a box of other assorted mini-plants. everything is mini it seems.


i actually did a thing...

i feel like i spend a lot of time stockpiling supplies and talking about my future-plans to make all sorts of random nonsense, so it pleases me to announce that i actually did a thing. feel free to applaud. i totally deserve it.

we recently purchased some candle-making supplies, back during my birthday three-day weekend. well, i tucked all of that away at the back of a shelf in the black-hole that is my crafting closet, and (for once) i did not instantly forget all about it. in fact, i could hear the tiny wax pellets calling to me as i laid in bed each night not sleeping. [random aside: insomnia sucks.]

so i pulled all of it out one day and actually made candles. yes... i am also impressed at this most astonishing feat.

i did not take any photos during the making part of the thing. this was a simple melt-and-pour process which consisted of melting the wax pellets, adding scented oils, then pouring the hot mixture into cleaned and re-purposed candle jars. i used three wicks in each jar, as that was the same number of wicks in the original candles from Bath & Body Works, and i adhered the wicks to the the jars with a tiny dollop of hot glue under the little metal base at the bottom end of each wick.

the trickiest part of this whole operation was keeping the wicks in place while the wax hardened, so i used a little candle-making trick. before adding the wax to the jars, i used a combination of clothespins and bamboo skewers (which i broke in half as they were very long) to position and secure the wicks. the hot wax was poured into the jars with this setup already in place.

there was one little container which did not require the bamboo skewer, so i just rested the clothespin on the rim of that jar. so adorable.

i left them to cool overnight before removing the makeshift scaffolding.

you will notice that the wicks are just a touch on the long side for these jars.

i considered purchasing shorter wicks, as most of the containers i have are this size. however, i do have a few taller ones waiting to be filled, so i opted to go for the longer wicks. all it takes is a quick snip to get rid of the extra bits. or... you can light it and watch it burn down to the top of the candle like the fuse on a cartoon stick of dynamite. [DISCLAIMER: i definitely do not recommend that last option, so please do not blame/sue me if your house burns down after giving it a try.]

i hate throwing things away, so those extra bits will not go to waste. you can buy the little metal discs that are attached to the bottom of wicks in a candle, so i will hang on to these trimmings for future use.

i placed my new candles in a basket...because i am lazy and i did not want to have to make multiple trips to put them away.

i also added a post-it note to the side of each jar with the combination of essential oils used and the concentration in the mix. and, yes... i actually weighed and calculated the percentage of oils... because i take pleasure in being a total dork.

some of them are scented with sandalwood and lemongrass...

and some are honeysuckle, pomegranate, and hibiscus.

i took the time to remove the labels from the jars back when i cleaned them, but there were a few labels that absolutely refused to budge. imagine my surprise when i spun around one of the jars with the honeysuckle combo, only to realized that it originally contained a honeysuckle candle. i take that as a sign that the Universe approves.

i stashed the basket of new candles on a shelf of my crafting closet, so now i am greeted with a wave of awesome smells every time i open that door. hopefully this will encourage me to make use of some more of the stuff tucked away inside that space.