Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Space bags! Watch out! (to the tune of the Space Balls song)

I like to organize. I like to compartmentalize. Call me what you will. Whatever. It makes me feel calm and comfortable. I'm going on a trip. A three week trip. With my two year old son. Staying at seven different places. SEVEN. This makes me anxious. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to be visiting everyone. I'm choosing to visit everyone. I love everyone I'm visiting. And, in actuality, it really will be nice being in charge of nothing but the clothes in our suitcases and my son. But living out of a suitcase and uprooting Jackson every few days isn't fun. So, I'm doing what I can to make it as organized as possible.
Here is typically what happens when I pack for a trip:

1) About a month out, I'll start thinking about things I might want to take. I'll take extra precaution not to spill spaghetti sauce on those items that I really want to bring.

2) About a week out I'll start organizing the clothes and doing laundry. This week before traveling is typically not my prettiest week, as I am saving all of my "good clothes" for the trip.

3) If Jackson is traveling with me, I'll start to organize his clothes a couple days out, making sure everything is clean and fits. This trip, when organizing his clothes, I realized that he has no pants that fit. (Poor guy is so thin that in order for his pants to fit him in the waist, they are high waters on him......thank God for adjustable waistbands!) It's still warm here, and he has been in shorts up until now, but he will need pants for the trip, so I hit up the clearance section of Babies-R-Us and stocked up on some winter pants.

4) The day before the trip is when my plan starts to crumble. All of the organizing that I have gone through goes out the window when I actually start to pack. Now that all of my laundry is actually clean I find random shirts that I really like and throw them in the suitcase as well. Never mind the fact that it doesn't actually go with anything else I'm bringing. It's my third favorite cardigan, so I'm sure I'll find some use for it....right?

Well, that's not going to happen this time! In comes the closet app on my phone!

Why didn't I think of this? It is an app to organize your clothes. You take pictures, put them in categories, and can even make outfits and assign those outfits to a calendar day! This is extra great for the kind of packer I am. If it's not included in one of my outfits and assigned to a calendar day, it doesn't go in the suitcase. I even did one for Jackson!

I won't assign his little outfits to the calendar. (Probably. Maybe. Well, if I don't get too bored on the plane) But what I have done in the past and am doing this time (and have already done, actually) is take all of his premade outfits and put them each in an individual ziplock baggie, socks included...those are the hardest to track down when you travel. That way, each morning, we just grab a little bag. This is especially helpful when visiting grandmas. "Here Gramma, these are his clothes for the day. I'm gonna go get in the shower" And besides, I'll squeeze the air out of the bags and save room in his suitcase! Now, you'd think that we should be all set, as far as packing goes. And we pretty much are, when it comes to clothes, but I still have to fit Jackson's pillow, his blanket, and his stuffed bear that's bigger than him (all three of those things he can't sleep me, we've tried!), my pillow (my only requirement for me while traveling) 30 future funker shirts, a tivo system that I bought for my mom, some Melaleuca products and some Smart Mom jewelry for my mother in law, and a plethora of baby hats I'm returning to a friend. Two words: SPACE BAGS........ Sigh.....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Project 365

Here we go again! I came across an idea tonight. "Project 365". This is where you take a picture a day, for a year. I thought this was a great idea! I have an excellent camera that takes excellent pictures and I'm only a mediocre photographer. I would love to be a great photographer, and the best way to do this is to practice. So, for the next year, I'm going to do my best to take a picture a day. It might be of something I'm doing, someone I'm with, or just represent my mood or thoughts.

I'll post them to my flicker account here.

She's Crafty

I like to create. Some might call it crafting. I feel a little young to call myself a "crafter" but I guess, in reality, that's what I am. I knit. I sew. I screen print. I paint. And now I can add "Silver Smith" to my arsenal of crafts. People always tell me that I'm creative. I guess they are right. I can be creative, but usually it's just that I'm really good at seeing other people's ideas and running with it, adding my own personal touches. The other day, I stumbled on a jewelry website. I saw some pieces of silver jewelry that really caught my eye. They had a very rugged and organic look to them, (and a very high price tag) and they were personalized, which is something I always like to include in my crafts. I thought "I wonder if I could do that". So, I asked Google how to make silver jewelry. I found out that there this new stuff out there called silver clay. You mold it, like clay, let it dry, then fire it in a kiln. Sounds easy enough. I mean, I've never ever used clay before, unless you count Play Dough, and I don't actually have a kiln, but how hard could it be? I'm crafty, right? So I did a ton of research and found out exactly what I do and don't need to make my own silver jewelry, and I placed my order. I found out that you don't need very many tools. Mostly just your hands and a few household items will do. The kiln was a little trickier. I found an even newer kind of clay that can be fired at very low heat (relatively speaking) and can be done in a mini kiln, of sorts. It's mostly just a fancy ceramic pot that you put ethanol in the bottom and your jewelry on the top and let the sucker burn. I placed my order and impatiently waited 5-7 days for it to come in the mail. In the mean time, I did a ton of research.

When I came back from running errands on Friday, my package was waiting for me! The first chance I got, which was Saturday night, I got started. I knew that the clay would dry extremely fast and I would need to work quickly, so I set up my silver command center at the kitchen table and got to work. I was feeling pretty good and hopeful, until I opened up the container of clay and found an amount of clay about the size of a quarter in there. Hmmmmmm......I know silver is expensive, but jeesh! Disappointing, yes, but I wasn't going to let that ruin my new craft experience. So, I got the clay out and started working with it. Perhaps I should have practiced on some ceramic clay first? This was not as easy as I had hoped, but I did, finally, get something similar to what I was hoping for. I let the piece dry, with the help of my hair dryer and then got out my sand paper to do some last minute adjustments to the piece before firing it. Once the sand paper came out, it really started looking good! By now, it's late and Eric is already in bed. I asked him to stay awake while I fired the silver, because, according to the directions, I should have a responsible adult do it. But the responsible adult in our house was upstairs snoring away, so I was on my own. I fired up the mini kiln and patiently waited. It took about 15 minutes for all of the ethanol to burn off. By now, my house smelled like a keg party, because of all of the ethanol. Once the silver cooled enough to touch it, I took it out and started buffing it clean. (One of the more gratifying steps of the process, I must say) After making it perfectly shiny and clean, I noticed that the letters I had stamped in the pendant weren't really standing out. They were the same silvery color as the rest of the piece. I found the others online that I liked and realized that their letters were tarnished on the inside, while the outside of the piece was shiny. SO, I went back to google and ask it how to tarnish silver. I did all of the work, just to drop it in a cup of bleach and watch it turn black!! Really really black. And my little silver polishing cloth wasn't getting the tarnish off at all. So, I went back to google again and asked it how to polish silver with household items, since I don't have any silver polish. (Google knows everything) Lots of buffing and baking soda later, plus making some charms with beads, I had a piece that looked really close to the original one I found on the internet a couple weeks back!

I made another piece last night with the leftover clay from the first pendant. It turns out that you really don't need that much silver clay per project.

Oh, by the way, I'm selling these on my etsy site, if you want me to make you one too!