Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On my Desk (WOYWW)

Ever since I got the craft room cleaned and organized the other week, I've done a pretty good job keeping it that way. I've even been pretty good at cleaning off my desk between projects. . .pretty good - not perfect. And, of course, I usually have several projects going on at once. Currently, this is the state of my craft desk.

In the center is my to do list. I took this picture first thing this morning, just after I finished writing it out. Just above that are some keys for a tutorial I'm working on for a secret project. . .to be revealed later. On the left is my art journal with black scribbles (I was trying to use up some paint) and a finished altered playing card (the flower). Of course, there's also a large mug of coffee and all the other miscellany I keep within reach. Just these few things have me a bit overwhelmed at the moment, so I think I'm going to clear the excess to clear my head and get motivated. Do you work better on a messy desk or a clean one?

I'm linking up at Stamping Ground for What's on Your Workdesk Wednesday (WOYWW).

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cheesy Bacon Avocado Dip

College football season had begun, and I was ready for it! (Roll Tide!) To kick off the first game of the season, we went to some friends' house. They have a massive projection screen that makes it almost better than watching the game in person. Plus, they fed us some yummy Chicken & Smoked Gouda Wraps, only asking that we bring snacks. Instinctively, we picked up hummus and pita chips. However, I also knew I had the makings of something much more delectable.
delicious college football worthy dip recipe

Let me start by sharing a fabulous avocado tip I recently learned - Keep your avocados out (on the counter/pantry) until they reach ripeness, then put them in the fridge to extend that level of ripe without over-ripening. It's worked for me so far and kept me from having to throw out these heavenly fruits.

Anyway. . .back to the recipe. Instinctively, I reached for the avocados in the fridge thinking I would make some of my go-to Avocado Veggie Dip. But, I just didn't have all the ingredients I wanted. As well, I realized there was bacon leftover from breakfast. Oooohhhhh. A little google search of these ingredients didn't yield any recipes that suited my wants so I came up with this one on my own. Rummaging in the fridge, I also discovered part of a block of monterey jack cheese (with peppers), some red onion, and a container of plain Greek yogurt, (There were also a few grape tomatoes, but they weren't in great shape so I fed them to the chickens.)

Start by cutting open, dicing, and scooping out the avocado. I used a large plastic container with a lid so it would travel to our friends'.

Mash the avocado with a fork slightly, leaving some chunky bits.


Dice your red onion and add it to the bowl.

Chop and add the bacon.

Shred the cheese and add it.

Stir these ingredients together.

Add the container of yogurt along with salt, pepper, dill, garlic, and smoked paprika, Mix these ingredients until combined.

The result is a glumpy mess.

Don't let the appearance fool you. It is DELICIOUS!!. Our friends raved over how good this was. I was kinda partial to it too. I served it with an array of chips/crackers including pita chips, pretzel chips, triscuits, and tortilla chips. I could have eaten it with a spoon though.


Here are the complete instructions

Cheesy Bacon Avocado Dip

Ingredients:
3-4 Avocados
1/3 Cup diced red onion (1/4 an onion)
5 Slices of bacon (cooked and chopped)
1 Cup Monterey Jack cheese with peppers (shredded)
6oz Plain Greek yogurt
Salt, Pepper, Granulated Garlic, Dill, and Smoked Paprika (to taste)

Directions:
1. Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Dice them within the shell and scoop the meat into your bowl.
2. Lightly mash the avocado with a fork, leaving some lumps.
3. Add the diced onion, chopped bacon, and shredded cheese. Mix until combined.
4. Add yogurt and seasonings (to taste). Mix thoroughly.
5. Cover and keep in fridge until ready to enjoy.
6. Serve with crackers or chips.

*You could add some lemon or lime juice to delay the avocado from browning, but I threw this back in the fridge in the air-tight container until served (a few hours later) and didn't really have a problem with it. If yours is going to sit for a while, I would recommend the juice.


I hope you enjoy this recipe while you watch college football or while doing whatever your passion is.

I've also linked up this recipe for Follow Frenzy at Little House Big Alaska and The Recipe & DIY Linky at The SITS Girls.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Re-organizing the Craft Room

If you follow my Instagram stories at all (and you totally should!), you may have seen that I'm in the process of organizing and cleaning the craft room. I started on Sunday or Monday (it's all a blur now), and I'm still not done. It's been goo though, the sorting and purging even inspired yesterday's reflections on creativity. In any case, here's a peek at how it's coming along.
Let's start with my craft desk and the admittance that the entire room was in similar disarray, hence the desperate need for organization.

Though slow-going, I'm making loads of progress. That pile in the floor is just some of what will be leaving. (There's a huge pile of felt in there that I'm re-thinking since I discovered this cute felt flower wreath from Garden Matter yesterday.)

The before of that hutch gave me spasms. You better be thankful that I don't have any pictures of that horror.

The closet is much better now that I've added some more storage space. I didn't touch the top shelf. It is what it is.

These pictures were shot on Wednesday. Since then, I've actually cleaned my desktop. This bookshelf is really all that remains to be tackled. It's a HUGE job. There's all kinds of tiny bits and pieces stashed in there. I'm hoping to get to it today. Say a prayer for me!

Ever since the move, I've had the hardest time getting this room in a work-able condition. Pat's had the same problem with his office (hence the box room). We've concluded that when we moved into our previous house, we had little to nothing. Over time, we bought and collected and built more items for these spaces, slowly adding them in little by little. When we began to pack for the move to this house, we tried to purge some of the junk. However, the bulk of it came with us. Since we're not slowly moving these items in, it's harder to incorporate it all. This time I'm not adding a single strand of beads or a new book to my supplies, I'm trying to put them ALL in the space. It's so much harder. We hope to get it all worked out eventually, but I think purges like this one may be necessary to get there.

How have you coped with moving your stash from one space to another? Did you struggle to get it organized and make it work? How long did it take you?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Looking Inward for Inspiration

This week is totally getting away from me. However, that's due in part to the three-day weekend we just had. It's also due to the heavy-thinking I've been doing about creating intuitively. I had to jot down the pondering below about the following doodles.


Today I was organizing the craft room and making an attempt to sort through the miscellany I've collected. As I flipped through a file of some of my old doodles, I was surprised at how much they resembled Zentangles to an extent. I don't remember having the ability to create those type of patterns and shapes. But, apparently I did. It's made me consider the impact of constant internet inspiration on my own ability to create and be inspired. Though the internet is packed with inspiration and tutorials and Pinterest eye-candy, it's left my own inspiration and belief in my skills stunted. The pretty pictures, perfect results, and thorough tutorials have made my own abilities feel inferior and have left me with little desire to tackle projects because it feels like they've already been done and better. I think I really needed that revelation and reminder that I shouldn't compare myself to others, shouldn't try to recreate what they've made. I need to look inward and around (up from the computer) to find my path. How has it taken me over 40 years to realize this? Doesn't matter, at least I've finally gotten here.
 Anybody else feel similar? Just me?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

August Goal Review

As I sit here on the first day of September, anxiously waiting for the start of college football, I suppose I can update you on how my goals went last month.

As a reminder, each week I wanted to complete a  general Goal, a piece of Jewelry, an altered Card, at least one Blog post, and a Journal page. I'm covering weeks 31-34. Also, please note that I'm still behind on these goals and tasks so much of this will be showing how I caught up.


Week 31 (July 31-Aug. 6)
Goal
This week's goal was to learn to cut with a jewelry saw. However, I just didn't get to this.

Jewelry
I was completely inspired by the assemblage keys I made last month. It took very little time to knock out this necklace. 
Week 28 - This mixed metal, mixed media piece features antiqued copper beads and clasp and antiqued silver tone findings. 

Blog
I was able to get up a July Goal Review during this week. 


Week 32 (Aug 7-15)
Goal
I had hoped to learn a little more about using YouTube (as a creator), but that just didn't come to fruition.

Jewelry
Again, I worked with one of the upcycled keys.
Week 29 - This one is a little longer than the previous one and a bit more feminine with the champagne-colored crystals and dainty chain. 

Card
I was able to knock out three cards this week!
Week 28 - I believe the background is some Tim Holtz distress stain with black paint circles overlapped on it. The flower and text are stamps that I colored with watercolor pencils.
Week 29 - The background for this card was a lot of play with paint, stamps, stencils, and doodling. The face is stamp on cardstock colored in with watercolor pencils and outlined with a black stabilo. 
Week 30 - Again, the background was just some play with paint and a small gelli plate. The words were clipped from a magazine (and found on my desk randomly). The flower is a sticker.

Blog
Three Posts!! I did three blog post this week. Yay. I showed you my process to cover a mannequin in paper, I shared some more altered playing cards, and I wrote about my recent thrift store finds

Journal
Another three pages were completed in my art journal. 
Week 27 - This page had me stopped in my tracks for far too long. I started with some paint topped with molding paste applied through a crackle stencil. From there, I was stumped. Finally, some circles were added in black with white bursts, a few yellow dots, and the word play. I left it at that. It's not pretty, but it's done.

Week 28 - This is just a peek at this page (as my other picture was blurry). The background was made with a gelli print and more paint to blend it. The girl is a face I drew on book paper. The rest of her body is collaged from magazine pages. I also wrote some words below her in paint.

Week 29 - I did this while away from home, using only the few supplies I had with me. The background was made with some goopy acrylic paint, collage papers, washi tape, and some light stamping. I used a magazine picture and created a frame around it with a charcoal pencil. The words were written with a Sharpie water-based paint pen. 

Week 33 (Aug 14-20)
Goal
I set out the goal to finish the wood block painting I started while on the Art Retreat. However, that just didn't happen. However, I was able to work my way through the photography and camera tutorials to knock off the goal of learning to use my camera better. Here are the links I used to work on this goal.

  • This article on the 96 tips most photographers had wished they learned sooner was mostly focused at professional photographers, but there are a few tips that would apply for a novice camera user.
  • The Photo Course from It's Overflowing took me several days to work through all the parts, but I think it had a lot of good information in layman's terms. 
  • I looked at the first of these 100 tutotials from Click It Up a Notch, and it ran through ISO, aperture, and shutter speed a little faster than the previous one but had the same general gist. However, this has a LONG list of tutorials on how to use the camera, compose pictures, select lenses, edit photos, and just about anything else. It's a great reference, but there was no way for me to work through them all. 
  • This "I have a dslr camera now what?" is less of a tutorial and more of a few tips about what to do after you get a camera like insuring it and getting special filters and whatnot. I'm far past that stage, but it is great for those just now getting one.  
  • Here's another great, quick guide to understanding your digital slr camera. It covers ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. I REALLY liked that this one showed images of both a canon and a nikon camera. That totally helped me.
  • This Digital Photography course is a 10-15 hour free course put out by Harvard. My head was already swimming from the above information so I decided to keep this as a reference once I get some f the other things I had learned into action and cemented in my head. 

Jewelry
I knocked out a few pieces this week.
Week 30 - Again, I turned to one of my altered keys as a focal. Faceted glass in shades of green made up the chain with some gold-tone wire. 

Week 31 - This necklace was made for a friend. She gave me a few specifications of what she wanted: box focal, neutral palette, etc. This is what came together.

Week 32 - Last week I shared this bracelet I had made as part of Wonder and Whimsy's August challenge with beads from Fire Mountain Gems.

Card
While I'm still not caught up, these two cards helped make a dent in my list.
Week 31 - I shared the process I used to make this card in my Dollar Tree Altered Playing Card post. 
Week 32 - This was just some paint and doodles. I was feeling a little stressed out and needed to keep my head above water. 

Blog
I was able to put out not one but two posts this week. I shared some of the Summery jewelry in the CraftyHope Etsy Shop a well as that Dollar Tree Altered Playing Card

Journal
Two pages were also created this week. For some reason, both of these pictures came out a little blurry. Sorry about that!
Week 30 - I just had to get something on the page. I played with my mini gelli plate to get color on the page and then doodled the black stalks with paint, adding white accents with a white signo pen.

Week 31 - I JUST realized that these two pages have similar palettes. Oh well. I was just playing with supplies and techniques on this page. 


Week 34 (Aug 21-27)
Goal
Cutting shapes with my BigKick die cutter was the goal but instead I worked on Week 31's goal of cutting metal with a jewelry saw.
I didn't have much success with this goal. It's definitely something I need to continue to work on learning and trying. 

Blog
I was able to share an update on our house a year after we moved in. As well, I showed off the jewelry I made for the August Challenge at Wonder and Whimsy

Journal
All week long, I worked on this page. 
Week 32 - It's composed almost entirely of stenciled paint. The face was created using a stencil bump technique. The words are simply stamped on thin white paper. 

It's now almost an hour until kickoff so I need to figure out what our plan for the evening is. I hope you are reaching and meeting your goals. . . and that you're doing it better than I am!


Friday, August 26, 2016

August Challenge from Wonder and Whimsy - my reveal

A few weeks back, Jenny from Wonder and Whimsy posted that Fire Mountain Gems was having a super sale on randomly selected bead strand mixes, basically grab bags of bead strands. I was just barely able to order before time ran out on the sale. I went for two 5-strand mixes and one 3-strand mix of gemstones. I loved the anticipation of the surprise beads.
My stone-identification-ability is quite rusty as of late, but let's see... The first mixed set I opened included a strand of square tube tiger eye beads, small round labradorite beads, and three strands of what I think is garnet.

The second 5-strand set was somewhat similar to the first with two strands of tiger eye, two strands of garnet, and a strand of labradorite.

Finally, the 3-strand mix left me a little baffled. I'm pretty sure the middle strand is rose quartz but just can't figure out the other two. I think the left one MAY be a yellow agate of some sort but am not sure. And, I have no idea about the one on the right. Let me know if you have any ideas what they are.

While I may not have been able to identify all the beads I received, I'm smitten with the mix of them.
Beauties just as they are!

However, the challenge that Jenny set out was to create something with the random mix. Even if you didn't order one of these sets, she put forth the challenge to use some of your own random beads.

I started by pairing the tiger eye and yellow agate(?) with gold tone beads and black cultured sea glass beads.

This bracelet came together pretty quickly.

What to make next was a harder decision. There were still so many beautiful gemstones in the mix.

As you can tell from the above photo, I decided to use a skeleton key as the focal.

Alas, I haven't finished the necklace, but you can kinda see the direction I'm headed.
It's going to be a fairly long necklace so I've still got a bit of work to do.

Thanks so much to Jenny for the heads up about the great sale and for issuing a fun challenge. Jump over to her blog, Wonder and Whimsy, to see what she received from Fire Mountain, what she made, and what else she has up her sleeve.