Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Write: Month in Review

Normally, I share a piece of fiction or poetry with you, but I decided to do something different today.  I'd like to share with you how my writing is going.  I tend to jot something down Wednesday morning and post it without much editing.  However, I do take my writing seriously, and will attempt to at least edit from here on out. :)

I have had two pieces published this month... well, one is a craft post.
1 - A fiction piece I wrote, titled, At the Crossroads, was included in the Neokoroi summer newsletter/publication He Epistole.  This is the second time I've sent something in and you can find a non-fiction piece in the spring edition.  I'm going to continue to submit to He Epistole as long as I can think of ideas.

2 - A craft tutorial I wrote as a guest post for Craft Leftovers was featured on the Craft site.  Yippee!  Now I just need to make more to sell at a friend's shop.

I've submitted a couple different things this month and last month, and I'm still waiting to hear back from them.  I've got another month to go.
1 - Lyrical Iowa.  This is the publication put out by the Iowa Poetry Association.  My submission was sort of a last minute thing, but I'm proud that I actually submitted something.

2 - Paper Crow.  More poetry went to this magazine, partly because I love the name.  The press that puts it out is called Elektrik Milk Bath Press.  Isn't that awesome?

3 - A Rustle of Dark Leaves Anthology.  I sent out a fiction piece to this at Misanthrope Press.  And I just realized they did a Pagan themed anthology that I missed.  Dang. 

And a thing or two I'm working on.

1 - The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction.  I'm actually a little embarrassed and glad I looked at the guidelines again this morning.  Some how I forgot that the piece was supposed to be about Pagans or gods and whatnot.  Luckily I haven't sent in anything yet.

2 - Last but not least, I think I'm going to start pulling out my poetry and seeing if I have enough for a chapbook.  At the very least, I need to start editing some of it so I have a body of work to draw from the next time I find a good place to submit to.

What are you working on?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Inspire: Go Jump in a Pool

As summer settles in here in Iowa, it grows hot and sticky with humidity.  One way I like to escape the pressing heat is to go hang out in a pool.  I don't tend to get much swimming done, instead I talk with a friend most of the time and help the kiddo dive for objects. 

I'm weird, though, and I can only last so long in a pool before I am shivering.  Yes, I get that cold in 90 degree weather.  I try to stay moving in the pool to keep warm, but that's kind of hard when your friend keeps talking at you.  But once you are out of the pool - and dried off - it makes the whole day better.  The humidity isn't so bad, and the heat doesn't seem so oppressive.

Sitting in front of a fan doesn't do it for me.  Sitting in air conditioning just tends to give me headaches from the change in temperature.  The pool seems to have it all.

What do you do to stay cool in the summer?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Create: Travelling Place Mat

In my efforts to be tone down my use of disposable products, I often take reusable plates and silverware to potlucks and picnics.  It's a great thought, but how do you carry all that stuff?  Someone made me some silverware holders in a swap a while back and while they are great, they are just a bit off for what I need.  Plus, there's no place to stash a plate.

I had made two plate and silverware bags last year but only used them once.  They weren't quite what I wanted either and it showed in the fact that I didn't use them.  I really need something to hold a plate, so I dug into my fabric and came up with another idea - one that works like a place mat too!  I don't like taking big plates, so I measured this to fit a smaller plate.
Crafter Bunny supervised the choice of fabric.
What you need:
Main body - 2 18"x13" pieces of fabric - I used different fabric but you could use the same
Plate pocket - 1 18"x11.5" piece of fabric - Measure this to your plate
Silverware pocket - 1 6"x8" piece of fabric that matches your plate pocket.
Ties - 2 strips of 2" fabric to your desired length
I cut out two sets of fabric.  Here they are paired and folded.
Once you have your pieces cut out, we'll start sewing.  Take your silverware pocket and fold it in half length-wise, right side together.  Sew around the open edges leaving a space to turn.  Once you are done, turn the pocket right-side out and press the opening closed so it matches with the seam.  Sew around the entire pocket once more to close up the opening and make it neat.

You will do the same thing with your plate pocket.

Now it's time to position.  Take a piece of your main fabric and place the silverware pocket to one side.  Leave enough room for the seams and a little more so the silverware doesn't fall out of the edge.  Pin and pick up your plate pocket.  I placed my plate pocket so that the plate would slide out of the side rather than the top.  Leave a few inches to the outside so that you can fold it over the plate.  The picture probably does a better job at explaining.  Sew three sides of each pocket making sure to reinforce the opening.
I could have moved the plate pocket close to the center
Now for your ties.  Fold and iron your strips in half, then open them up and fold the edges into the fold.  Then fold again so you have a .5" strip.  Sew down the edge to hold it together.

Place your strips in the middle of the sides of your main fabric on the right side.  The length should be on the fabric with just a little bit to the outside.  Place your remaining main fabric, right side down, on top of the sewed fabric.  Pin the ties in place and sew around the edges, making sure to leave an opening to turn and reinforcing the ties. 

Turn it right-side out and sew over the edges again.

Add a plate and silverware and you are done!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Write: Lightning Bug Season

The lightning bugs
are out in force,
performing lazy antics
with light and space
as a wind sweeps in
the breath of rain.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inspire: Lawn Chair Relaxing

I've never been one to enjoy the heat.  Which is weird, because I'm typically always cold.  But Iowa has a humid climate and it could be only 70 degrees out and we're all sweating and finding it hard to breathe because of the humidity.  Summer is a sticky hot mess here.

But this year, I'm loving it. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not enjoying having my clothes stick to me after five minutes outside.  I am enjoying picnics and sitting outside with my friends and family relaxing. 

Yesterday almost the whole family got together at my great grandmothers to celebrate Father's Day and my cousin visiting from Arizona.  We brought out food, played with the dogs, and had a good time just sitting around and talking.  It was humid as hell, but in the shade it wasn't so bad. 

I think I might have to drag out my new/old patio furniture and set it up soon so I can have dinner outside... once it stops raining.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Create: A Cozy Jar

I tend to hoard things, especially recyclables.  I just have a problem throwing away things that can be reused.  Given that I try to buy things in glass jars rather than plastic, that means I have a collection of glass.  Yes, I could take them to the glass bin that sits in our Fareway parking lot, but that would require me to remember.  And what if I need a jar after I get rid of them all?

One use for jars that I don't use often enough is drinking glasses.  If I feel safe enough eating food that came from a jar, I should feel safe washing it out and drinking from it.

I recently broke my jelly jar water glass at work.  It was thick, had a handle, and I had used it at work for almost two years.  I dropped it just right to shatter it.  Now I do have a match to that glass, but I use it often at home.  So instead, I dug through my stash of jars and found a new one. 

My tea mug has had a cozy for quite some time, so I decided my new jar should get one too.  I chose to use a pattern I had made for xmas and changed it to go around rather than flat, making it look more interesting than single crochet. 

Unfortunately, it looks a little bulky, so I might have to make a single crochet cozy or find some thinner yarn.  What do you think?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Write: Sun Tea Memories

The glass jar shines,
soaking in beams of light,
and stares from adolescent eyes
anxious for the drink
like I was at that age,
sitting on a porch,
watching the spigot
slowly dripping.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Inspire: Setting a Table

The months are going too fast for me.  It seems like only yesterday that it was freezing and January.  Now it's June and we just went through a week of over 90 degree weather.  I always seem to miss out on spring.  But now that it's warmer, I want to be outside in the breeze. 

Saturday, I got my wish, and we ate lunch out on the patio of a local pizza shop.  It was lovely and I didn't want to leave.

With my birthday next month, I want a picnic - although it's going to be hotter than hell or raining cats and dogs.  I still want a pretty picnic party with people in summer dresses and fancy tea cups.  Don't ask me why, 'cause I'm not sure.  Sometimes I think it's because I grew up a tomboy and now my girly side is demanding equal time. 

My friend gave me some wonderful patio furniture she found on the curb, so at least I have a place to sit.  Now I just need to fancy it up and make myself an awesome rockabilly dress and I can party to my hearts content.

Have you ever taken your dinner outside?  Do you have patio furniture or a picnic table at home? 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Create: Pick up your lunch

I've been making my lunch and the kiddos for a couple years now.  It's more cost effective than eating out or school lunch, and I can make sure the kiddo gets what he will eat.  For me, I don't drive myself to work so there isn't really anywhere to go for lunch as we don't have a cafeteria.  So homemade lunch it is!

I use leftovers for lunch typically, so it's more cost effective for me.  Last year, the kiddo's teacher always gushed about how his lunches were so cool and different.  I thought, seriously?  It's a pork chop and corn.  No one else brings that?  Although he has had inventive things a couple times - Po Boy sandwich with shrimp, meatball sandwich, and Indian, yum!

Lunch from home comes with a certain amount of stuff, namely lunch bags.  We each have one that we use on a regular basis.  Then I have an extra one I got from my rideshare company for free, a bag with a built in freezer pack, and another one for the kiddo.  It's all so unorganized.

But my craftiness has come to the rescue!  I took some old nylon string I've never used much of and braided myself a hanger.  At certain lengths, I added a loop to hook our bags through - our main ones have buckle straps.  The rest don't, so I left the tail of the braid loose so that I could wrap it through the loop and keep a bag in place.  The braid is attached to the wall by one of those 3M removable strip hooks. 
Here you can see how I looped the extra tail through the last hoop.  I know I have a couple carabiners in the house but I couldn't find them.  When I do, I will probably add another loop out of the tail and use carabiners to attach my non buckle lunch bags. 
Tadaa!  Now my lunch bags have a home that isn't a pile on top of my fridge.  The ones that don't get used often are in a cupboard, but it's hard even for me to reach.  This is much nicer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Write: Night Helpers

They come when the light goes out
scamper across linoleum
climbing the cupboard doors
joyfully calling across
the canyon of counters
They work a myster
for a bowl of milk
a bit of honey water
and the bread rises
in the morning

Monday, June 6, 2011

Inspire: A Kitchen Makeover

A friend of mine is moving and I'm inheriting some of her stuff.  Most of it is currently sitting in my living room, waiting for me to figure out how to change my furniture around.  A couple of things landed, or may land, in my kitchen.  One is some fantastic vintage containers (that I forgot to take a picture of) in yellow.  I was using ceramic black and speckled white jars but the lid on the largest one broke and I couldn't store my flour in it anymore.  These new containers all have tight fitting lids and I have no problems putting my flour in it.

The containers were sitting on my messy counter taking up space until this weekend when I finally got around to switching them out. 

My kitchen is the center of my house spiritually.  When I don't feel good, my kitchen is a mess.  When my kitchen is a mess, I feel icky.  The limited amount of counter space tends to overflow with plastic bags I need to wash, empty cups, and random bits that I set down.  I went through this weekend and reclaimed my counter space a bit.  Even clearing one area off made the whole kitchen feel completely different. 

The first step to the Flylady cleaning system is to shine your sink.  I believe I need to start doing that again, making sure my sink is free of dirty dishes and clean before I go to bed.  Just this one simple task lets me feel that I am centered and okay. 

With the Ames garage sale coming up, I'm going to be destashing my house and getting rid of things.  I feel the overwhelming need to clean out a huge amount of my junk, including things in my kitchen.  At the same point, I'm a pack rat and I drag new stuff in all the time.  How do I organize the things I need so it doesn't look like I'm just piling things up?

Do you have a special room in your house that connects to your mood?  Do you know a pack rat?  How do you organize all your stuff in an apartment?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Create: Keep Going Wallet

Patterns/tutorials and I don't always get along.  Either I don't quite understand what is being said or I cut something slightly off.  So, when sewing something simple, I tend to get the general gist of the idea and go off on my own.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't. 

The wonderful wallet I received in a swap quite a while ago has finally started showing signs of wear.  Rather than buying one that didn't quite fit what I wanted, I decided to make one. Now, I had tried this in the past and wasn't too pleased with the result so I knew a couple things I didn't want.

I decided I wanted a folding wallet with pockets - I wanted to include pockets for business cards as well as all my junk.  The first wallet I made was okay but it just wasn't what I wanted.  It was a little large and liked to flap open.

I could have stopped there and gone a different route if I had found my buttons, but I couldn't find them. 

I played with having the pockets a different way and then folding up the fabric to form pockets rather than sewing multiple pockets on.  I really liked the folding idea and it took me awhile to get it right.  I don't know how I crafted without an iron for so long.

The I figured I would put velcro on a strap around the wallet and that would be how it would stay together... but I made the wallet just a bit too small.  Now that I have found my buttons, I will probably make one more - a little larger, with button. 

But the point I learned was that nothing has to be perfect, and there is nothing wrong with making a few before you are done. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Write: In the House of the Fates

"Will you tell me what I want to know?"  Lydia asked, her hands clenched to her chest.  "I've traveled all this way.  You have to answer me."

A woman raised her eyes from the loom and looked at Lydia.  The loom dominated the room; the large wooden frame filled with a complicated array of strands all coming together to be woven whole.  The woman working the shuttle back and forth was middle-aged.  Her brown hair was marked here and there with gray.  Pleasantly plump, she reminded Lydia of her aunt, but the piercing blue eyes were nothing like the jolly woman she had grown up with.  These eyes seemed to measure and weigh her soul.

“Please,” Lydia began again, glancing at the other two women.  The young one sat beside a spinning wheel, turning piles of roving into yarn.  Long golden hair floated down her back like the wool she worked with.  The older one wielded a pair of shears, her hair as gray as the good steel, and cut the yarn.  “You have to help me.”

“We have to do nothing of the sort,” the middle-aged woman spoke, her hands never ceasing.  “We cannot be forced.”

“The gods themselves bow down to us,” the young woman said.

“We do not give in to demands,” said the elder.

Lydia choked on a sob, her hands clutching at her hair.  The black strands stuck up in a rats nest, displaced by the worrying fingers.  She dropped down to the hard wooden floor and clutched her knees to her chest.  She looked up through her tears to find all three pairs of blue eyes watching her carefully.  “I’m not asking for you to change his fate.  I know I can’t.  But please, just tell me, will he live?  Will he grow up? Please.  That’s all I want.”

The three exchanged a glance and the crone moved to the mortal woman.  She soothed a bony hand across her back and helped her stand.  “Come now, child.  Fate is not for mortals to know.  But we will show you something.” 

Lydia was led to the loom where the crone pointed out one thread woven brightly into the tapestry.  “This.  This is your child.”

“Here he is now,” the weaver said, gently, pointing to the strand at the edge of the fabric. 

“Here he will die.”  The crone pointed down the loom, almost a yard.

“That is all we can show you.”  The youth said gently.

Lydia looked, and looked again, and then began crying once more.  She nodded to them all and hugged the crone tightly.  “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”

“Now go.  Be a mother and cherish each day.  That is all anyone can do.”  All three spoke at once as the crone returned to her chair.  The room began to spin and Lydia sat in the cold hospital chair once again, her infant son sleeping in the incubator beside her.