Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Cheer

Happy Holidays! As this year comes to an end, there is so much to reflect on, both good and bad. I'm trying to prepare myself for so many changes that I need to make for the next year to improve my health and happiness. Even though there have been rough patches and a little bit of heartache, 2012 proved to be a year I can look back on with a smile. I graduated with my Associates Degree in Liberal Arts. I reconnected with so many great people this year and mended bridges that I thought long ago were burned beyond repair. I have a wonderful family, a job that I love going to everyday, and a roof over my head.  That's a lot to be thankful for.

This year I made a lot of handmade gifts for Christmas. I spent a lot of time on different perler bead magnets, coasters, and painted ornaments. I can't post too much on here until after Christmas so I don't spoil any gifts, but I will post some different ones after the Holiday with some tutorials. I keep getting asked to post some Perler bead tutorials, so I promise I will put them up soon. In the meantime, here are some of the ornaments I painted. If you are looking for a last minute homemade gift, these are perfect to try. The glass ornaments are very inexpensive, so the out of pocket cost is a lot lower than some other options out there.

I got two boxes of twelve ornaments at Hobby Lobby. Each box cost $7.99, but Hobby Lobby has some great in store deals. When I went looking for ideas one day, all the glass items were 50% off. I walked out with two boxes, enough to make an ornament for just about everyone on my Christmas list. I already had some paint from other projects,so the total cost was under $10. I even sold a couple to people who saw them for $3.00 each, which ended up bringing my out of pocket expense to little under $1. They did end up taking a lot more time that I thought they would, I could usually get two done an evening, so if you are going to make multiples, make sure to give yourself plenty of time.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Make Your Own Weeping Angel

While I was in taking classes, it was really hard to keep up with all the craft projects I wanted to do. Awhile back I stumbled upon Wich-Crafting's Don't Blink which has a great tutorial on how to make a Weeping Angel out of a Barbie Doll and textured spray paint. I knew I just had to make my own and I thought I would share it with you.

I picked up a twelve inch Barbie for $12 at Dollar General and got to work. The first thing I did was get crazy with a glue gun. I glued all of her joints in position and attached craft sticks to hold her up on a wooden base. The tutorial I looked at cut Barbie's arms at the joints to cover her eyes. Instead, I bended the arms as far as I could and glued them in position. I think this is way easier and if you get a Barbie with joints in her wrists, you can manipulate the arms enough to forgo having to work with a saw.

As the glue was setting, I worked on the hair. The tutorial I saw put the hair up in a pony tail and cut it off. I bought a barbie that had her hair half up and half down with a hair band. I thought the hairband was perfect for the texture I wanted and started working on an up do in the back. This was the hardest part of the project. I don't know if you have ever tried to style a Barbie's hair into up-do, but it is not an easy task, but eventually I got it the way I wanted and moved onto the clothes. The barbie I chose had a tunic-like top, so I kept it and fashioned a skirt out of muslin. I also used hot glue to add some texture to the skirt because I couldn't get it to sit the way I wanted. Once it is painted, you won't be able to distinguish the hot glue from the skirt, so I thought this was way easier than the other tutorial I saw. Next, I used craft foam and cut out some wings and used my trusty glue gun again to add texture to the wings.

Next up, the textured spray paint. I didn't used any kind of primer, just went straight to the spray paint.

This is a picture of how it looked after the textured spray paint. I didn't like how it came out so silver. I bought the darkest grey I could find, but to me I just kept looking at her and not digging the color at all. So I went back to the store and came back with starry night glitter blast. I figured my Weeping Angel is just for me and I can do what I want. This just makes her one of a kind. I haven't seen any others go a darker color, or glitter blast for that matter, so if you prefer a more true angel, you might want to stop at the textured spray paint, but I love the way the glitter blast looked on the final project.

The project took me about three hours before the spray paint. There is a lot of drying time involved for both the glue and the spray paint. The entire project cost me about $25, but I used a lot of items I had on hand. If you are already a crafter, you won't need to purchase too much except for the doll and spray paint. My final advice, if you attempt your own, make sure to have lots of hot glue on hand and don't be afraid to use heaps. Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dale Carnegie-Changing Lives

A little over a year ago, my world fell apart. I was fired from a job I held for over five years. I didn't really like the job, but I was good at it. I wasn't always treated well, in fact, I was treated very badly. I have always been very shy and a bit codependent, but this was exacerbated by the treatment I received at this company. I had lost all confidence in myself to the point of self destruction. When I was fired, I believed I had nothing to offer and in this economy, I would never find a job. I believed everything I had been told by my previous boss, I had no hire-ability. I was devastated.

As it turned out, being fired was the single best thing to ever happen to me because very soon I was hired by Dale Carnegie Training. I was referred by my friend, Natalie, that worked there, went through the interview process and got the job. Then, everything changed. Instead of being told I was worthless, I was being told I was appreciated. Instead of being told to come to work sick, I was being told to take care of myself. Instead of being told I was dark and negative, I was being told I was valued. The differences between feeling constantly stressed in contrast to  the constant positive reinforcement was phenomenal. I no longer cried after work, but rather looked forward to going into the office each morning. As a requirement of working for Dale Carnegie, I was registered to attend the Dale Carnegie Course. Most of my brain fought against the idea, I already take classes at night at College. I didn't know how I would fit it into my already busy schedule. I also had already taken Human Relations courses, business courses, management courses, and public speaking courses. What could Dale Carnegie teach me that I haven't already learned? I voiced my opinion to my boss, Duane. I remember sitting with him outside. He never once said, look you are taking this or your fired. Instead he asked what I didn't like about myself. I told him I was overly shy, I didn't like to meet new people or talk in front of groups. When I was younger, I was very talented at public speaking and participating in many competitions, but in my adult-hood, I had developed an extreme fear of public speaking. During my public speaking course, I was terrified and just wanted to get it over with. Duane sat with me and addressed each topic and explained how the course could help me overcome my shyness. I reluctantly agreed to complete the course.

When I take courses at school, I can easily blend into the crowd, sit in back and not bring attention to myself. This doesn't fly at the Dale Carnegie Course. In the first five minutes, I realized the course was going to make me confront my biggest fears, in front of a group of strangers. I was going to have to participate, there was no disappearing. My instructors had such a welcoming aura to them, it was starting to get easier to relax and go with the flow. One of the first things we did was fill out a paper saying what we wanted to be able to do once we finished the class. I wrote down that I would want to gain enough confidence to approach another student and ask to be study partners. I had heard that can make classes a bit easier. You have another person to bounce your ideas off of and if you have to miss class, you can get the notes from them. Since I am so shy, the thought of approaching a stranger paralyzes me.

As the class continued through the eight weeks, I found it easier and easier to get up and talk in front of my peers. My confidence was growing each and every day. Instead of internalizing my thoughts and feelings, I learned how to communicate dissatisfaction appropriately and respectfully. My communication skills have never been better. Even more important, I started putting into practice the principles from the class, especially one called Live in Day Tight Compartments. Meaning a day is just that, a day. Just get through that day. Don't relive yesterdays mistakes, don't worry about what can't be done until tomorrow, just get through that day. I learned how to handle my stress in a way that actually made sense. I have mentioned in previous blogs that I have taken steps to minimize my stress, including adding meditation and crafts to my lifestyle. These changes were brought on as a direct result of what I learned in the Dale Carnegie Class.

Yesterday, I attended my first Statistics class. Since the Dale Carnegie Course, all of my classes have been online. Fear gripped me as I walked into this classroom of strangers, thoughts of failure creeping through my head. I am not a numbers person, in fact, I hate math and this class it seemed like nothing was going in my favor. I had the wrong calculator, most of the other students were much more advanced in math than I was, the air conditioning was broken, the grading isn't the way I like it to be, and the class is very test oriented. My thoughts kept jumping to things like; you made a mistake, you should have gone into advanced algebra topics, what were you thinking, I'm going to look stupid next to these math genius', what if I have come this far just to fail? Then my mind started to switch its focus, just get through tonight, don't sell yourself short, when have you ever failed a class. Then a light bulb went off in my head....study partner. I need a study partner, but who? I still am shy, these are still strangers, what do I do?

In front of me sat a woman about my age. I was admiring her Coach purse and something told me this chick knows math. When the class was dismissed, I walked right up to her and asked her to be my study partner. I told her flat out that math scares me and sometimes I struggle. She happily agreed. She was so excited because she wants to teach secondary math and has taken advanced algebra and is taking this class so she can continue on into Calculus next quarter. By helping me, she gets extra experience explaining concepts to someone who struggles in the subject.Win-Win. We exchanged phone numbers and agreed to share our notes, especially if one of us has to miss class, and meet in student commons a half-hour before each class.

When I got home, I was sitting in my living room, checking out Facebook, still nervous from class and updated my status to reflect that worry. Then a little voice in my head said calm down, your going to be fine. You've tackled many things worse than Statistics. At that instant, I remembered my first Dale Carnegie Class and realized, though it took a year, I had achieved what I set out to accomplish. I have changed so much in the last year and I have Dale Carnegie to thank for that, my instructors; Steve and Marisa....and Duane for giving me a job, believing in me, and making me take the Dale Carnegie Course. There is a reason the only diploma Warren Buffett displays is his Dale Carnegie Certificate, the course changes lives.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Finally a Break!

Finally, a much need rest from school. There are so many projects I want to work on, crafts I want to make and books I want to read, but school and work leave little time for anything else. With a few days to go before I go back, I have a little time for other things, like finally writing another blog post. When I first started going back to school, I  worked at a job that was less than supportive and even less of a positive environment. I used school as an escape for my unhappiness and threw myself into books, highlighters, and espresso. I was so determined to get straight A's that I had blinders on to everything around me, including my own stress levels. I wasn't taking care of myself, but I was happy because I was making the Dean's List every quarter. I was running on empty after the first year and I knew I couldn't keep going like that. So I made changes, some huge and some small. I had to feel like I had a life outside of school and work. One of the changes included making crafts and finding other areas to minimize stress. My favorite craft is working with perler beads. When I'm studying and get frustrated, I'll stop and work on my current project. Since the premier of Doctor Who is around the corner, I thought I would share a two of Doctor Who crafts I did this quarter.

Perler beads are little plastic beads that will fuse together when heated, allowing you to make different designs and crafts. I'll do a blog soon on how to make different perler bead projects. The very first time I attempted a perler project, I picked the TARDIS from Doctor Who. It took two peg boards. As a begininer, I had no idea the time I would have to put in. I didn't design my own pattern the first time, I used an image from Google images. Here is a picture after the first side was melted. The first time I flipped it, it broke. I had to try putting all the pieces back and heat it again. Eventually, I got it together.
I also decided to make a 3-D TARDIS and a stand for the one above.
Here are the finished projects with the rest of my Doctor Who toys.

I just started drawing a pattern to make a Dalek. Enjoy season 7 of Doctor Who!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Adorable Queen of the Geeks

Growing up a geek can be hard. I was a socially awkward bookworm that really only had one friend at a time. I was rejected by just about every social group in school and was brunt of more than a few jokes. I would rather read a book or play Nintendo than go to the big party on weekends. Those are not qualities that are looked fondly upon by the popular kids. I was still luckier than most because of my sister, her best friend, and their group of friends. My sister is about a year and half older than me and held a lot of the hobbies and interests that I did. Now I don't know how much she liked it, but she always let me tag along with her friends without complaint, so I never had to feel as completely alone as other geeks tell me they have.
But there is hope out there to the growing geeks out there and that is Felicia Day.

My sister is actually the person that told me about Felicia. Felicia Day is the Queen of the geeks and is helping to make geekery mainstream. If you have never seen or heard of Felicia, I would suggest watching her web series The Guild. You can find all of the episodes online at Geek and Sundry or on Netflix. Felicia has an adorable personality and is an amazing actress, writer, and producer. Felicia is very active on social networking sites, both connecting to her fans and bringing them together in online communities and promoting her content directly to her core audience. Riding on her success from The Guild, Felicia and some of her Sci-Fi loving friends formed the youtube channel Geek and Sundry, which I consider nerd heaven, bringing together content from book clubs to comic books to Felicia's own new show The Flog.

Fans have created a universe that revolves around Felicia and I can understand why. I wish I had this to watch when I was in high school...

Thursday, June 7, 2012

On the Record

One thing that my Dad and I share is a love of music. As a cash-strapped college student, I wanted to find a gift for my Dad that was not only economical, but also was unique. A long time ago, my Dad gave me his old record collection. The collection had everything from Pink Floyd to Shaft. Unfortunately, a lot of the albums were unplayable due to damage. So, one day I decided to scour the internet for ways to up-cycle the records that no longer worked and try to give them some new life. I had no idea there are so many ways out there to turn your old records into usable crafts. When melted, you can form vinyl to just about any shape, making albums a great material for bowls, bookends, jewelery, and so much more. If the thought of playing with really hot material right out of the oven gives you the heebie jeebies or you are looking for crafts to do with kids, there are lots of ideas out there that don't require an oven, like painting or making records into clocks.

I decided to make retro record bowls for my first attempt at record crafts. For my pops, I chose the Eagles Greatest hits. Not only does my Dad love the Eagles, but it was one of the first bands he introduced me to as a child. I still can't listen to Hotel California without hearing my Dad's voice sing out, "but you can never leave." So, I thought it would be the perfect choice for Father's Day.

What I absolutely love about this craft is it is super duper easy to do and really doesn't take much time. First, you are going to need a record, cookie sheet, oven safe bowl, and 2 oven mitts or pot holders. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. When the oven is heated up, you will put the bowl upside down on the cookie sheet and the record on top of the bowl and throw it on in. Don't stray too far, though. As soon as the record "flops" or begins the melting process take it out and get to work. Each album has different qualities and can vary in time, you'll be looking at 4-12 minutes oven time. When you take out your album, you will not have much time before the record begins to harden again. Mold your record around the bowl. The method that worked best for me required 2 times in the oven. After the first go around, I folded the record into four sides, which made four grooves. I then put it back in the oven and let it fall the other way and took it out. This time, I put four additional grooves in it and molded the bottom. It turned out so cute, I just couldn't stop. I started using a variety of different sized bowls and playing around with shapes, with varying results. If it doesn't turn out the way you want, just throw it back in the oven and start over.
 Weather you are looking for a gift or just to have around the house, these little retro bowls have so many uses. Put it by your door and throw your keys and change in it. By putting a clear coat on the inside, these make great bowls for parties, just fill 'em with chips or popcorn. These also make a great little basket for gifts.
If you are really artistic, you can make original artwork with your records. As I was searching the hundreds and hundreds of pages of record art, I fell absolutely in love with Etsy shop Valderie Originals. If it wasn't already sold, I would totally buy this...
Check out the other records still available in the shop at Valderie Originals