What a great Monday!

That is so not sarcasm. And neither was that. Seriously, I’m being straight here. Oh, Internets. I have so much to tell you. It all starts with teh bestest Monday evar.

No word of a lie.


Let’s name how this Monday was so great: I got a huge box o’ stuff out the door for a free pickup by a local charity. Bam. Less stuff in my life. Someone else gets to make muffins. Next. Song.

That’s extra great, because Monday (and Oct 1) also began a month-long car-free quest, which means I’d’ve had to balance that box on my head or something on my bike. Yeah. Bam to the FACE, petroleum!

So far, rides to work have been awesome and a bit refreshing. Nice to get exercise right off the bat. Tomorrow, I’ll take the bus downtown for an evening meeting. That one should be interesting, and better yet, I’ll get some reading done on the way.

Ok, how about a full moon Monday? Done. First day of a new, less-busy week? Done. Just finished my weekend classes on Sunday. Bam. No more kicking it down to San Antonio for a 2-day bender of classes, only to be followed by the brutal workweek.

That sweetspot week between MBF’s birthday and mine? Totally today. A year anniversary of a good friend’s arrival? Bam. (Thanks, good friend, for coming over to help with my technologies.)

iPhone 5 arrived, a full week earlier than I’d expected. Bam. No more broken, nay smashed screen for mees!

20121002-153019.jpgAnd in one week is my niece’s birthday. So? Bam. Let’s make her something fun with her name on it, per her request. I gave her sister a fun bunting for the younger’s 7th birthday, and now the older, this week’s birthday girl, wants something of her own. I used part of the bunting I’d made for myself when I turned 35 (dudes, you’re never too old for rainbows, unicorns, or cupcakes. Trust me). I sent her gift today for a Friday arrival. Does that bam count? Ok, bam. Extra credit bam, I ordered her something from my favorite site: thehungersite.com. They have really awesome, interesting, and fair-trade stuff.

Tuesday was kind of brutal. But Monday? Yeah, Monday was a rockstar.


My paperless student experiment

My experiement: to take classes at the wildflower center completely paper-free.

Not too long ago, I was loaned one of those space-age tablets you hear so much about. I honestly didn’t know what I’d do with a bigger iPhone—I already had an iPhone—but I figured I might read free books on it and maybe read blogs in bigger formats. I didn’t figure on it really being a “tool” in my life.

In class with my stylus, iPad, and cover my roommate loaned me.

Welp, skip ahead a few months and I’ve still not purchased a single app yet (but strongly considered buying the “Realistic Craigslist” app and still might), but I have purchased hardware for my hardware. I got a stylus and I like it. (No, that’s not an affiliate link; just a link to the item so you can see, but it’s also in my photo at left.)

I finally got what I’ve always dreamed about: some way to sketch and doodle (poorly) and have that transferrable to digital. Holy crap, yes. I use it to sketch wacky ideas, write (yes, handwriting) my notes out, and with my little experiment, take notes in class and go completely paper-free.

So, lest I digress into how much I love a way to sketch digitally, let me get right to the class notes and whatnot. I use a free app called Noterize, which actually gave me a 10% discount on the stylus I mentioned. The classes I’m taking email out pdf notes beforehand—the syllabus, reading list, and depending on the instructor also outlines—which I simply pull up in my mail reader on the “big iPhone”, click the link to the page, and then voila! A little button comes up in the corner of the pdf, asking if I’d like to open it in Noterize. I do and voila part deux: once the pdf is in Noterize, I can mark it all up.

This is a really cool sketch the landscape architect showed us. I was extra glad I could sketch it out, since the photo didn't capture it at all.

So, I sit in class, pull up the handouts as pdfs on my device, use my stylus to take notes, sketch up things the teacher shares on the slides in the room (one particularly cool sketch came out of a landscaping class), and even take voice recordings from the app.

When we go outside to tour the grounds (the classes are at the wildflower center), I’ve still got my “notes” in hand, but a hard surface for it is built right in. It kinda rules.

The Noterize app has a limited color palette, but there is enough for me to sketch out a flower, shade it with the built in “highlighter”, and scribble out its name. I’ve been taking pictures, too, and importing them to the device when I sync up it and my phone later. Yes, the app lets me pull photos in. I said it rules!

Here are a couple pages I scribbled on, to give you an idea of how I’ve been taking notes.

A pdf page I wrote on, notes-style, during class.

In fact, the image below (with the menu displayed) is the sketch I made based on the slide we were seeing in the photo above. Well, I tried to make, anyway.

A screenshot of the interface. This is a pdf I was scribbling on and in the midst of which I inserted a yellow lined page to draw on.


Yard Fence Mural

image and idea via Austin, Texas Daily Photo: East Side Mural.

Dude. First of all Austin Daily Photo is a great blog for Austinites and non-locals alike. I’m digging it almost as much as I dig Digging, another Austin-based but not Austin-exclusive blog. (I stopped saving all of Digging’s posts because I was saving every last one of them for future reference. Finally I decided I’d just go to Pam’s blog (Digging) the next time I wanted to imagine what my yard will look like in the great Someday.)

Anyway, for today’s inspiration, an image of a mural on the east side. If I made one of my nigh-broken-down fences into stucco (cobb or strawbale-and-mud practice for a bigger project later?) or something, I could make super-awesome murals like this on it. I could even invite friends to make little images on it when they come visit, if they’re into that kind of thing. No, not as slave labor. As an “I was here” kind of thing, or “I’m a part of this yard and this heart, too”.

Thoughts, thoughts…

Felt mouse toy for kitteh

DIY Gift Ideas: Five Handmade Cat Toys – Crafting a Green World.

“What’s that??”
“Et’s called eh PINT.”
“Ah’m gettin’ one!”

That’s how I feel about these mice (tutorial at the link above).  Oh, and bonus? Also on that page is a link to stockings made from sweaters.  What?? Yes.  Just yes.



p.s. I see you, Bloo. I see you, El Tuna.

p.p.s.  Remember that time I made that horrible leather dick cat toy?  Good times.


Creative houses, reclaimed junk, and pure awesome

Creative Houses from Reclaimed Stuff – Crafting a Green World.

Dude.  Watch the embedded video in that article above, or embedded below.  Rethink everything.  Understand that the problem of waste is worldwide.

It’s a TED talk by builder Dan Phillips that makes me VERY happy: hippy dude (I think he’s even from Austin*; he looks like Dr. Red Duke to boot), hilarious presentation, philosophy (he quotes Nietsche, Sartre, Plato), beautiful homes, unusual and recycled materials, cheap or free materials (including a beer tap for a faucet)… What’s not to love??

The zinger passages to me:

Around 2:28
“It’s a 2-person tub.  After all, it’s not just about hygiene; there’s a possibility for recreation.  …It looks a little phallic, but after all it’s a bathroom.”

Around 3:41
“That’ll keep bull elephants out, I promise.  And sure enough, we’ve had no problems with bull elephants.”

At 8:43
“It does no good to be responsible at the point of harvest in the forest, if consumers are wasting the harvest at the point of consumption.”

“I bet all your shoes match.”

*He mentions Palm Harbor homes and in some of his pics he’s got McCoy’s products.

Craft Night success: soapdishes

I know: I lead such a glamorous life.  Yes, the big red-letter event is my staying home to create… what could it be?  Yes, soapdishes. It’s called envy my friends, envy.

Yes indeed, the inaugural (eh, Margaret?) Craft Night yielded me two soapdishes. They took no time to make, but they’d been in my head since I saw something like this at my cousin’s house. (Hi, Claudia!)

This is how retardedly simple they are: cut some twigs. Mine were suckers from the base of a Crape Myrtle. Cut some vines. That Asiatic Jasmine finally came into some use!  Bastard squatter has been overtaking at least half my yard since who knows when. Strip all the leaves off, and arm yourself with a glue gun.  Incidentally, it’s part of the standard Southerner’s kit, a glue gun.  Yep, glue gun, sweet tea, and a lifetime get-out-of-conversation-accountability by saying “Bless his heart” after anything mean.   “He’s just so unbelievably dumb, bless his heart.”  Works like a charm.  That’s why it’s called Southern charm. Charm, y’all.  Effing voo-doo.

Save me, life raft soapdish! Save me, glue gun!

Pick a length for your twigs and start cutting to size. I chose about 6 inches for my bathroom, since it’d house a full bar of soap as well as my nail brush.  That is my all-time gardening secret.  Well, that and not really caring what my nails look like.  They’re ratty, but they’re clean.

Line up the twigs. I put two thicker twigs on the outsides, just cause it looked neat. Cut two cross bar twigs to be the feet of your dish.  See, the whole point is to elevate your soap so it stops sitting in its own puddle on the counter or in the bowl of one of them storebought soapdishes.  The soap just mushes up and disintegrates too fast if it never dries.  And no one likes to sit in their own puddles, y’all.

Now squirt hot glue on a crossbar twig and carefully smash it onto the main body of twigs. Yes: carefully.  Smash.  You need the pressure of a smash, but the care not to scatter the twigs.   You might want to add a diagonal twig for structure now, especially if not every twig sticks to the crossbar twigs.  And believe me, although hot glue is my own personal object of worship, it’s not always 100%.  Yes, my god is fallible.  Your twigs will pop off.  They will run away.  The glue will harden too fast.  Just peel it off and try to get most of the twigs in one go, then spot-glue the problem children.  Just like in real life.

I drift a lonely raft on a sea of failure. Wait, I think this one actually works. Scratch that.

When I got to this point, I didn’t like how dense it looked, so I took out every other twig.  In other news, I now had enough twigs for a second, if very sparse, dish.  It’s only about 4 inches long, just barely long enough for a bar of Ivory.

Now the really fun part. I know!  I was bored up until this part, too.  The thrills and chills start here, folks.  Start lashing around the twigs.  Later on, we’re gonna learn about molars! This is where all those seasons of Survivor and Lost start to pay off.  Sure, you want a rustic soapdish.  But you want that sucker to look sea-worthy, too.  I get ya.

I basically just did a whip stitch around a twig and a cross-twig. It looked sparse at the end of the row, so I doubled back and whip-stitched around just the cross-twig. Play with it. You’re not on the cover of Soapdish Monthly, so don’t worry about doing it “wrong.” Wait, are you? Cause I want some mufkin credit. Besides, it’s supposed to look like half-starved desperation fueled its creation.  Go with it.  I laced down the ends of my vine-lacing under the last loop, effectively using its own strength against it.  That’ll show it. It won’t win awards, but it keeps the end hidden and mostly tidy.  Mostly.

I managed to take this picture without revealing my skivvies in the reflection. Yes, I sat around in my underwear on a Thursday night, gluing sticks together. It's called craft night, and I'm mostly not ashamed. What's that called? Pride? No. Less shame? Yeah.

And that’s it. No more molten soap on my counter!  Now I have to come up with other excuses for the counter being icky.  Those were strategic soap blobs, you see.

Blobtastic. Also note deoderant stone (classy) and nail brush (classier).