February 03, 2006

Sarah: Me and Artie Fufkin, We Love Us Some Felt.

This isn't a dollar store project, but I just got excited, so I wanted to share! I made these hairpins last night and today at work.

I used wool felt, some old buttons I had in my craft table, and extra strong burgandy thread. The hairpins are sewn on, and so the felt does slide around a little, but overall I like how they turned out. I'm trying to be guttsier, so I've been cutting the felt without first looking at someone else's cute shapes. I know. I live dangerously.

So here I am wearing the flower:

And look! I got a leaf in my hair!

The colors aren't quite right in this photo. They are much more subdued and autumnal and pretty.
And I did my hair in about two seconds, so don't mind how out-of-control messy it is.

I really like the dot:

Although again, we have the wacky hair issues.
I didn't mean this shot to have such an excellent view of my work space. Hello cell phone! Hello discs! Hello Maverick cup full of Diet Coke!

And here we are with a quarter for scale (since my head is abnormally large and doesn't give you an accurate idea of the size of the pins):

Ta-DA! I am very anxious to hear what people think: Do you like them? Hate them? Think they would sell, if I chose to make more? I know they seem more autumn-oriented, which is strange to see in February, but I am loving those colors right now, and the felt at the fabric store I went to was rather limited. Just be glad I didn't use glitter felt. Because, damn.

February 04, 2006

Sarah: I just want to wash my face.

I apply astringent to my face every night with cotton balls. After looking more carefully at my bag of cotton balls, however, I'm not sure I'm qualified to use them: They are "for the adventurous, exotic, sensuous, free spirited woman." I don't need that sort of pressure from my cotton balls.

February 05, 2006

Lisa: Pre-training: Week 9, Days 2-4


On Thursday I ran alone at Sugarhouse Park. I forgot my gloves, which was a bummer since it was snowing--little flakes at first, and then the huge ones that land on your face and melt, leaving rivers of cold water running down your cheeks. About ten minutes into the run I got warm enough that I stopped wishing I had my gloves, so that's not too bad. I ran a little bit more than once around the loop; I tracked it as 2 miles on my car's odometer. 30 minutes feels easy after last week's 50 minutes, and I actually felt great when I was done!

129.5 lbs, 29% body fat


Sarah and I ran at Liberty Park on Friday morning. Again, I know we're running further without a break, but it still feels a lot easier than two sets of 20 minutes. Anyway, we went about 2 miles.

129.5 lbs, 29% body fat


Sarah and I ran at the Olympus High track on Sunday afternoon, and it was sunny and warm--almost too warm for jackets. For some reason, 30 minutes is feeling hard again, like we haven't run for weeks. We dragged ourselves nine times around the track, which is 2.25 miles.

130 lbs, 27% body fat

Sarah: Dollar Store Project

I completed my first dollar store project Saturday morning. Here's the whole process:

I purchased my supplies:

A hand mirror, metal picture frame with glass, and bag of tealights. Cost: $3 plus tax.

I cheated a little on this project and used some aluminum flashing I already owned.

How could I resist? It's so shiny...

So first I cut a piece of flashing that was roughly twice as tall as the face of the picture frame. I bent it at about 90 degree angle and slid it into the area where a picture would go. Here I am, holding the frame sideways (with the frame's support sticking down... get it?):

And then I destroyed the mirror:

...which would have been fun, if breaking a mirror didn't leave tiny glass shards on your bedroom floor and embedded in the sleeves of your sweatshirt. I obviously didn't think this step through. Oh, plus the whole seven-years-bad-luck thing.

I then glued the pieces of mirror to the "back" and let it dry overnight. I ended up using the following materials, outside of my dollar store purchases:

The flashing I've told you about, Craft Glue attached mirror to the back, I cut the flashing with the tin snips (after scoring it with the knife), and the ruler helped me bend the flashing.

So the idea of this project was to end up with a wall-mounted tea light holder. I have a lot of silver accessories in my room, and I wanted the broken mirror to sort of make the candle light sparkle. It didn't come out exactly as I hoped, but I think it's not bad for $3. Ta-DA:

February 06, 2006

Sarah: Reading, Writing, Etc.

This was an exciting weekend. Why? Because I read some cool publications and got a new sort-of job. As a journalist! I know. It's a little exciting. I've been thinking a lot about my experiences, and would like to sort of mash out those thoughts here. Because guess what? I can.
I think the most straightforward way to explain myself is to compose a list of the experiences or parts of my life that have brought me to my current line of thinking.

  • Everyone knows I love my celebrity gossip magazines. I truly do, but I can occassionally break out of my shell to read other printed materials.

  • As I've mentioned here, I've been an editor for the Century magazine (an Institute publication), and have really enjoyed my time there. I have met an incredible group of people (shout out to Dave, E, Mark, Andrea, Michelle, Becca, Emily, and Sunny), and also gotten a glimpse into the world of journalism, writing, editing, and publishing.

  • Armando and I occasionally will go to Barnes & Noble, grab some magazines or books, and just sit at a table and read. Saturday was one of those days. I've been interested in ReadyMade magazine, so I grabbed the latest issue. The tagline is "A BiMonthly Print Magazine For People Who Like to Make Stuff." Perfect for me, right? The magazine is very creative, not only in its content, but in its presentation. There is so much to read, and it is not full of only craft projects. There are interviews with interesting people, personal stories and essays, and a focus on re-use, re-thinking, and keeping the environment in mind. I have the magazine on my Amazon wishlist, and would love to eventually have a subscription. If the gift fairy does ever purchase this magazine for me, though, I believe you get a better deal purchasing a gift package from the ReadyMade site. I'm just saying.

  • Two of the blogs that I read daily (found here and here) are by smart, funny women that make their living by writing. Maggie Mason especially interests me, because from what I can tell, she writes free-lance for different publications, covering a wide variety of subjects. Her resourcefulness and versatility inspire me to find something I'm passionate about, and carve out a place for myself in the professional world.

  • I did some minor grocery shopping this weekend, and picked up a copy of Real Simple while I was out. I thought this was an extremely aesthetically pleasing magazine. Like ReadyMade, I felt like you get a good quality product for the price you pay (roughly 2.5 gossip magazines).
  • (I wrap things up after the jump)

  • I wrote my first little article for the Daily Utah Chronicle, the on-campus newspaper. It's not a big deal, but it's the first piece of writing I've been paid for. That makes me a professional writer! Well, sort of.

  • Being an English major, I'm often asked about my favorite author or literature. Honestly, I don't have a favorite author yet. I've enjoyed some poetry, but haven't been able to get excited about traditional choices, like e. e. cummings. I loved reading Charles Dickens, but sort of in the way you enjoy eating whole grain bread or celery. It's yummy and you enjoy it, but you can't help feeling that you enjoy it partly because it's 'good' for you. I know that I love short stories, though. That tiny capsule of literature, where every word is selected to convey as much as possible, seems more vibrant than an 800 page novel, where brevity is of little consequence.
  • People are often asking me what I plan to do with my English degree, provided, of course, that I eventually graduate. I don't usually have a good answer. The more I immerse myself in journalism, however, the more excited I get. Finding articles for a quality magazine would be like becoming Ira Glass of This American Life. You have to find something brief that still carries a strong message, emotion, or mental image. It is undoubtably a challenge, but seems so rewarding. Plus, think of all the wonderful personal narratives you'd pass on the way.

    I don't have much more to say on this matter for now, except that I'm excited to be exploring my options, and to be filling my brain with more than celebrity gossip (although that is really more in my heart... okay, just kidding).

    Lisa: HDNSMWHR

    On my way to work a few days ago, I spotted this Hummer H2 with the vanity license plate HDN4HVN. I had to read it out loud to myself before I figured out that it said "Headin' for Heaven," and then I couldn't help but shake my head. Um, no, I don't think so, Buddy.

    A few minutes later, I saw the following license plate frame on the back of a giant Caddy: "Nothin's lackin' when you're Cadillackin'". For some reason I kind of believe that guy.

    February 07, 2006

    Lisa: Can you handle my truth?

    I have been needing a new flute bag for a while. Strangely enough considering how much I used to play, I have never had a real flute bag. I have used various backpacks, messenger bags, and tote bags to lug my instruments and music and stuff around, but I never wanted to spend the money for a real flute bag (one made for that purpose), and besides I hated the idea of carrying a huge flute bag AND my backpack for books and whatever else around campus. Also, the bags designed for that purpose are technically called gig bags, a term which I abhor. These days I don't need a backpack and textbooks, and something a bit more professional-looking is probably in order. Anyway, a flute bag must conform to a few specifications. It has to be big enough to fit a flute and piccolo and the necessary accessories, and black enough that it can remain under my chair during orchestra concerts--because woodwind players get to do that (Eat your hearts out, string players!).

    The whole point of this is that I have been keeping an eye out for potential flute bags each time I go shopping, especially at Target. A few days ago I found this bag, meant to be sort of an oversized hobo shoulder bag. It was only $14.99, so I was willing to overlook the sheer stupidity of the bag's handle.

    Trust me, this picture from the Target website looks much better than the bag actually looks in person. The handle is so short that you can't even get it out of the way when you want to unzip the bag--it just sort of blocks the bag opening. I know the sides of the bag are supposed to come up and form part of the handle, but it just wasn't working out. Something in the design process had gone amiss. I decided to get the bag anyway, and just replace the handle. How hard could this be?

    I cut off the old handle (seen here in all its ridiculous shortness)...

    ...and first tried braiding some leather-ish vinyl strips ($7) I found at JoAnn's into a handle. That was much too wimpy, and the braid wouldn't lay flat and look right. I decided webbing was my best bet. After some false starts at fabric stores and online, one of Dave's bandmates suggested REI, which sells climbing rope and webbing by the foot. I chose a 2" tubular nylon webbing. They cut four feet for me with their hot cutter (sealing the ends so they wouldn't fray), and charged me only $2.50. I got some snaps and a snap-setting tool at the fabric store ($8) and put the whole thing together. Easy peasy!

    Here's the finished product:

    I added a few buttons for extra cuteness power. In this picture, my flute is inside the bag, so you can see that there's plenty of room. At the broadcast on Sunday, I just tucked the handle under the bag. Success! As usual, the hardest part of this project was finding the right supplies at different craft and fabric stores.

    Sarah: The best pun I came up with was involving Fisticuffs.

    So, this? Is freaking me out.

    [ETA: You can knit your own wristicuffs, too! --Lisa]

    February 10, 2006

    Sarah: Tyvek

    You know what's better than a cheap craft project? A free craft project!

    I made a wallet out of an Express Mail tyvek envelope:

    Tyvek is the material they make those envelopes out of that feel like a cross between paper and fabric. It's water resistant and supposedly very durable. Plus, you can get the envelopes for free from the US postal service! I've seen project tutorials where the material was sewn, but I just used packaging tape (and I did it while I was at work... Ssshhhhhh).

    So. Anyway. I thought I took pictures of the steps to make the wallet. But apparently I didn't. So here are some shots of the final project:

    It ended up being a tri-fold wallet:

    With six credit card slots:

    And a place for bills:

    But it was a little sproingy when I first completed it, so I had to try to squash it down:

    So there you go. I crafted and fought the man, all at the same time.

    Oh, and I left the postal stuff on the outside because, well, that's just so punk rock.

    Sarah: That is to say, not hairy?

    Armando attempts to explain the level of female grooming he disapproves of.

    A: I just vomited in my mouth. There's a lady here that doesn't shave her legs.
    S: lol
    A: Her legs are like mine.
    S: ... Shaved?

    February 13, 2006

    Lisa: Pre-training: Week 10

    Sugarhouse Park
    2.2 miles, 30 minutes
    130 lbs, 29% body fat

    Liberty Park with Sarah
    2.19 miles, 35 minutes
    131 lbs, 30% body fat

    My neighborhood with Sarah
    42 minutes (because I suggested we go on a wild goose chase to find a mysterious nearby school)
    129.5 lbs, 28% body fat

    Liberty Park
    2.5 miles, 37 minutes

    February 14, 2006

    Sarah: Beading, and oh yeah, Valentine's Day

    Last night Jessie, Mallory, and I went to the bead store and got supplies for a new crafting project we've wanted to do for a while: beading! We each ended up with very different supplies, ideas, and resulting jewelry. I liked that we didn't all make identical projects, and I think each of the items came out quite well.
    Unfortunately I don't have pictures of Mal's or Jessie's projects, but Mal's was a boho-chic style long necklace with light wood beads and dark glass beads (made from recycled glass in Africa. Or Indonesia. The saleswoman seemed a bit confused on the subject.), strung on a piece of "maximum cool" pleather cord.
    Jessie created a two-strand necklace that was black with a hint of silver. Her beads were ultra-glam and polished. She thought about her design more than me, and even had some larger beads for the center of the longer strand. The result was a very glamorous necklace that she can wear to work.
    I made a long necklace with the idea that I could double it up for a relaxed 2-strand look. Then I had some leftover beads, so I went ahead and made a matching bracelet.

    I used monochromatic beads (sort of avocado/lime-ish color) and six different shapes. The clasps are silver lobster clasps. I tried to keep the organization fairly random, and I'm quite pleased with the end result.

    And in honor of the one day each year where numerous people say "VD" with little irony and no negative connotations, I recommend Pamie's Annual Valentine's Day Poems. Not for the naive or prudish.

    February 16, 2006

    Lisa: Training: Week 1, Days 1 and...1 1/2


    In a strange and disturbing turn of events, Sarah was there to run at 5:30 on Wednesday morning (our first day of real marathon training), and I was the one who slept through it. I went as soon as I got up, though--braving a parking lot full of actual students at Olympus High School. I ran 3 miles, which took about 40 minutes.

    130 lbs, 29% body fat


    This morning was the biggest blizzard of the year so far, but I braved the unplowed roads to get to Olympus by 5:00 am to run our 4 miles. Unfortunately, the track was covered with the same pristine FOOT of snow as the roads. I tried running, but it was like running in sand with weight strapped to my legs. After a mile, I called it quits. Here's the path I tramped for myself:

    So, not a great start to the "real" 16 weeks of training. Hopefully the weather will warm up soon and we won't have any more days that are so snowy they actually prevent running. Otherwise, does anyone want to trade their treadmill for my elliptical trainer until June?

    130.5 lbs, 30% body fat--but I look thinner, I swear!

    February 17, 2006

    Lisa: shrinky

    As you know, Sarah and I have been talking a little bit about selling the things we make, on Etsy and elsewhere. We have been thinking about packaging as well. I designed a round version of our logo, and I think we are going to investigate getting some stickers made to seal poly bags or to stick on top of marble tins. Then I came up with the brilliant plan of making tags with our logo out of shrink plastic (remember Shrinky Dinks?). They make sheets of shrink plastic that you can put in an inkjet printer now, and I've been wanting to try them out for a while. After striking out at JoAnn's, Office Max, and Michaels, I finally found the printable shrink plastic at Roberts, but there was only one brand to choose from: Grafix Arts.

    The first thing I did was make an Illustrator file with our logo repeated as many times as I could fit it on the page, while allowing for 30% shrinkage. We tried it on paper first (sorry about the flash--the glue stick is in there for scale).

    That looked okay, so I set the printer to Draft (colors intensify with shrinking) and printed on a sheet of the plastic. I cut all the circles out, punched holes near the tops, and popped them all on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Let me just say right now that the instructions on the Grafix Arts website have been updated since they printed the instructions that came in the package we bought. For instance, now they say the final product will be only 20% of its original size. This is information that would have been helpful to have. They also listed a wide temperature range for baking: 250-400 degrees.

    I chose a temperature roughly in the middle (325), and put the circles on the sheet matte side up (mainly because then the printing was readable, so they seemed "right side up"). As I watched the shrinking action through the oven door, I kept waiting for the pieces to flatten out again. This is as close as they got:

    I did try flattening them out with a spatula while they were still warm, without much luck. I also decided that I wanted to read the text through the shiny side of the finished piece, so I reversed my Illustrator document so that everything was backwards, and printed out another sheet of plastic. I also read the instructions again more closely, and noticed these tips: 1) "lowering the temperature will slow the absorption of heat, resulting in longer shrink time and reducing distortion," and 2) "curling and sticking can be minimized by putting a piece of heavy weight vellum or parchment paper on top of the piece while baking." Armed with this new information, I set the oven to 250 degrees and covered the pieces with another piece of parchment. Just for kicks, this time I tried baking the pieces matte side down, so that the words were still "right side up" on the cookie sheet. I figured the first way didn't work out, so this could only be better. I was so wrong. Here's what the second batch looked like:

    First of all, I couldn't see the pieces through the parchment I had put on top, so I didn't know the extent of the problems until they had been in the oven quite a while. The pieces stayed much bigger, and curled up so tightly that flattening them out after cooling was completely impossible.

    Determined not to waste another sheet of plastic, and kicking myself for not trying this right at first, I made several little test pieces out of scraps. I turned the oven back up to 375, and tried one matte side up and covered, one matte side up and uncovered, one matte side down and covered, and one matte side down and uncovered. The best piece was the one that had been baked uncovered and matte side up (like my first batch).

    I steeled myself and printed a new page of tags on the plastic. This time I only baked three or four at once, so that I would have time to flatten them all out before they cooled down too much. I kept the oven at 375. Since the pieces never truly flattened out, instead I waited while they curled up like cups and then curled back down into little arches. Then as soon as I took them out of the oven, I turned them all upside down and smashed them down as flat as I could. Here's the final result:

    They are still quite distorted--they started out as perfect circles, and now are decidedly oblong. Also, I feel a bit sheepish that it took three sheets of the film to get eight usable tags. Anyway, I think I have figured out the best method for this brand of film, but I'm still a bit disappointed. Shrink experts, advise me!

    February 19, 2006

    Lisa: Training: Week 1, Days 3 & 4


    To get up to three miles on Friday, I went a little over twice around Sugarhouse Park. It took about 45 minutes.

    129.5 lbs, 30% body fat


    Today Sarah and I ran five miles! I have never run five miles before in my life, so I consider this kind of a big accomplishment. I couldn't believe how long it took us--an hour and 20 minutes to go four times around Liberty Park. We did walk for two minutes halfway through the third lap, but other than that we jogged the whole time. Go, us!

    I think Sarah is doing the best she can just to form her mouth into some semblance of a smile:

    February 22, 2006

    Sarah: Quickies

    My parents have a TiVo wishlist for Bob Vila. This charms me.

    Lisa and I are going to this movie, and no one can stop us. But you can come with us, if you like fun. And I think you do.

    Unfortunately my digicam's battery died on Monday, but I was able to take a fuzzy picture with my camera phone of the creepiest doll I've seen in a very long time. Spring City, why must you skeeve me so?

    The picture doesn't do justice to the broken face, but I think you can get the general idea.

    I'm supposed to be editing an article for the Century and writing at least one article for the Chronicle, but I'm procrastinating by blogging. [Why do these writing assignments, when combined with my full-time job, make me feel like I might actually become a real adult someday?] Also, I need to think of a way to explain to my editor at the Chronicle that I was going to attend a concert to review, but then I got in a car accident instead. Oops.

    Speaking of car accidents, my car is now sporting a dent on the driver's door and the passenger wheel well, a cracked bumper, broken side mirror, and a charming little rust spot. Classy.

    Nicole lent me the first disc for season one of Grey's Anatomy. Sah. Weet.

    Lisa: Training: Week 2, Days 1 & 2


    On Tuesday, Sarah and I both ran at Sugarhouse Park, but got there at different times and so didn't run into each other even once. It was super freezing--I didn't even get warm enough to take off my gloves by the end of the run, and my lips were totally numb. The good part is that three miles is seeming totally manageable now! I went a little over twice around the park, which took me 45 minutes.

    129.5 lbs, 30% body fat


    Sarah was a champion yesterday and mapped out a four-mile route for us along part of the marathon course. We ran along 2300 East for about an hour, and I have to say it was better than circling a track 16 times or even going several times around a park. It was fun to have new landmarks, too. Four miles still seems pretty far, though!

    128.5 lbs, 28% body fat

    February 27, 2006

    Lisa: Training: Week 2, Days 3 & 4


    After an unfortunate sleeping-in experience, I ran three miles at Sugarhouse Park. Afterward, I even did a few of the stretches I made Blake show me! Nothing crazy involving sitting on the ground or anything, but there was some toe-touching and a tiny bit of calf-stretching. I'm pretty sure that the guys running by while I was stretching my calves thought I was trying to push my car, but tra-la-la! I was going to take a picture, but my camera battery died.


    Sarah and I started at the top of the marathon route at the Olympic Bridge, and ran six miles--finishing with a loop around Sugarhouse Park. We parked one car at the end of our path and drove the other one up to the beginning so that we wouldn't have to backtrack. Six miles doesn't seem significantly harder than five miles, but it was still pretty killer. It was sunny and (relatively) warm, which made me sorry I had bundled up in gloves, a headband, and a jacket. Anyway, the point is that we made it! I think it will be fun to run segments of the actual marathon course instead of the same old parks.

    Lisa: Marci Darci

    Marci has an Etsy shop with her super cute crafts. Check it out, and support her study abroad if you can!