Saturday, March 30, 2013

52 week challenge

As much as I’ve had fun “messing around” with different projects for this blog after completing my Through The Spice Rack goal, it’s been more of a task than I anticipated to think of what to blog about. 

I’m grateful for the inspiration provided by other creative types, especially those described in Artful Blogging
I was reading the Spring 2013 magazine issue on my birthday last week, and admired Jenni Horne’s project
What could I do for 52 weeks that would be interesting, result in me learning something new along the way, and hopefully yield something useful both during and at the conclusion of the challenge?

After mulling it over, I decided to create 52 photo greeting cards during the next year, one card per week with original photos, and learn about the business of selling them.
I already have a small supply of envelopes and cards, from those good intentions of being crafty! After taking the inventory photo on a cute sheet of decorative paper from Papyrus, guess who wanted to "help" putting the supplies away?

Here is card #1 on stationery from Stampin’ Up, complete with a “handmade” stamp from Paper Source. I have other envelopes without matching cards, that I’d like to custom create cards for (even bought a tool to fold the crease at an envelope-making class I took!).
I’d like to be brave enough to make a mixed media on photo card, experiment with embossing, and research how to go about starting a small business. I’ve been impressed over the years with the quality of photo cards for sale at craft fairs, and have thought, “maybe I can do that, too.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Taking classes for fun!

It all started during Mr. Spice's deployment, when I tried to stay busy in a constructive way, to keep my mind off worrying (it didn't really work, but was a pleasant distraction).
I’ve taken a bunch of classes during evening hours at local technical schools that have been informative and entertaining, too! I learned how to cut a custom sized mat around a photo or piece of art, and assemble a metal frame around the glass and matted item.
I’d recommend a soap-making class, where the instructor brings all the supplies and students can experiment with fragrances, colors, and add-ins such as sparkle, oatmeal (for exfoliation), and different soap bases.
Cooking class students have sometimes asked why I was taking pictures of the preparation, but thankfully during most classes, we were all whipping out our iphones to take interesting shots of ingredients.
Do you have a high school with evening classes nearby, or an adult learning center or community college? Check it out, learn something new, and have fun along the way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Fountain Pens and Inks

I’m glad I challenged myself a year ago to prepare spicier foods each week. Now I’m having fun expanding the scope of blogging and photographing! I’ve always loved fountain pens, and have a small collection now. 
I wish I’d kept the pen I had in my “youth”; the oldest one I have now was bought with Austrian Schillings during my junior year abroad. Mr. Spice likes fountain pens, too, and we’ve amassed too many bottles of different colored inks.
 Sometimes I forget to use the fountain pens, and their ink inserts dry out. Then I actually have a good time hauling out the ink bottles and refilling them all. 
I have favorite shades, and some are very old, but still perfectly good (pop quiz on what year price tags started having Euros instead of this one). 
We got a new camera so I’m going to experiment with different subjects and settings with various types of lenses. These were all taken with a Sony point and shoot that we’ve had for at least five years. 
I messed around with the settings and light levels, and selected my favorite results here. I have a neat collection of colored ink cartridges from Australia, but they're not as interesting to photograph since they are short plastic tubes. They work great in the pen we got in Melbourne with the internal option of bottled ink or a cartridge.
Do you have a favorite pen? Any bottles of ink tucked away? Your optional homework assignment is to find some old pens/inks and write anything with them- a journal entry, pay some bills, a letter or post card...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Recipe for a wonderful day

Happy one year anniversary to this blog! I’m proud to look back on dozens of recipes in which I learned about neat new-to-me spices and revisited familiar ones.  I’ve accomplished my goal of cooking through the spice rack but am still searching for a recipe with anise that doesn’t taste too much like anise (one of the few flavors I really don’t like). I’ve realized that I’d like to blog more about travel and photography, so I’m putting together some posts about past trips which have included great food.
Here is the recipe of the day:
3 good friends (they do not have to live in the same state*)
1 airplane ticket (round trip, in our case)
1 coffee shop with cases of pastries
1 free on-street parking spot
2 cute neighborhood shops with interesting specialty items (spices, etc.- gee, what a shock!)
4 short drives around town on "Memory Lane"
1 helpful museum docent to share information about art 
4 healthy lunch items shared among each other
2 kind parking meter enforcers down the block from your car when                
  your pile of quarters in the meter is runnnninggg ooouuuutt... 
3 shops including a stupendous cupcake place
30 fingernails brightly painted (optional ingredient for men)
1 phenomenal new restaurant with more shared plates (no comment  
  on nutritional value; suffice it to say DELICIOUS)
2 walks through parks
6 tired feet
Lots of laughs, some sorrows, new hopes and dreams
hugs all around at the end of the day
To prepare: add ingredients in any sequence, mix gently while allowing time to rest between adding ingredients. Repeat at least annually. Top with cupcakes brought home to family.
* feel free to modify number of friends, adjust remaining ingredients proportionally