Archive for the ‘2017 TO THE MAX’ Category

2017 Goals: Wrap Up

All things considered, I did pretty well on my goals this year. I didn’t get 100% but I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Some of them were kind of a reach anyway, and I tried my best. In the end, I got to 90% complete. Not as good as last year (96%) but still better than 2014 (68%).

1. Write a New Beginner’s Guide Once A Month: 92%

December was too busy for me to do tackle a new project, but it’s the only month I failed at this one. Here’s what I did the rest of the year, with updates:

Yay!

Yay!


January: Weaving
This was my favorite thing I tried in 2017, probably because I did it at the John C. Campbell Folk School, which is magical. I won’t be using it ever again, but it was fun to learn.

February: Calligraphy
Probably the most useful thing I learned all year was the cheater calligraphy I learned for this post!

March: Cross Stitch
I finally finished the cross stitch I started this month, but I have yet to frame it. I’ll probably be doing some cross stitch again sometime.

April: Gardening
Yeah, they all died. I’m probably not going to be trying to tackle this again.

May: Make up
I already knew when I wrote this post that make up is not for me. Sorry, friends, you’re stuck with my face as is.

June: Bullet Journaling
Probably the one I will be using the most from here on! I kept it up for the rest of the year, although I definitely changed the format some to suit me better.

July: Candy Making
I mean, I’ll definitely make fudge again. But anything with a candy thermometer? Nah

August: Free Motion Quilting
I bet I’ll be doing this again, but even after learning all about it for this post, it kind of intimidates me.

GO TEAM

GO TEAM


September: Pole Dancing
This one was both the hardest and most fun thing I tried this year! I won’t be doing it again because I don’t got those skills, but it was fun to try!

Inside it's Halloween funfetti

Inside it’s Halloween funfetti


October: Cake Decorating
Omg no, I lied before, making my cupcakes look like they were made by a competent adult was the most useful thing I learned this year.

November: Soap Making
This one was pretty boring and messy, tbh

2. Sew Something New Once a Month: 83%
Another goal I didn’t get to in December, plus I already missed one in May, so there you go. In October I sewed my Halloween costume, Captain Crunch:

Can't take credit for Steven's style, though

Can’t take credit for Steven’s style, though

And in November I sewed this quilt top. It’s made of lots of different fabrics I had around, and I’m hoping to get to the quilting part soon:

The best is the fried egg fabric

The best is the fried egg fabric

3. Write in my Journal once a week: 100%!

Bullet journaling really helped out with this one.

4. Make one new recipe every week: 87%
I wish I’d been better at documenting this one, but alas. Here is the only one I bothered taking pictures of in the past three months:

Hot cocoa cookies!

Hot cocoa cookies!

These were the favorite of all the Christmas cookies I made. You add hot chocolate mix to the dough.

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%
It was a struggle.

6. Finish a coloring book: 100%

I finished this goal so long ago, I’ve already forgotten about it.

7. Be active every day: 56%

I know, pathetic. To be fair, I didn’t count all my walks with Olivia unless they were particularly strenuous for some reason. But that’s still more than half, which is okay by me.

8. Read all of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: 100%!

800 pages of small font!

800 pages of small font!

I’m really proud of this one, because it definitely seems like the one I would slack off and fail at. Remember when I tried to read all of Brewer’s? But I crushed this. And in the process learned that there have been so many books about societies that live inside the earth. Most of them are racist as shit.

Total: 90%

Previously: 2017 Almost There
Next: 2018 Goals!!!

Beginner’s Guide to Soap Making

I kiind of cheaped out in November and just bought a soap-making kit. That obviously made it way easier, but I also think maybe I missed out on key parts of the experience? Here’s what it gave you:

The sponge was not part of the process, it turns out

The sponge was not part of the process, it turns out

Blank white soap, red dye, some scents, some apricot seeds, a mold, and a random loofah. From looking around on the internet, lots of the blogs that are into soap-making also start with the blank white (or clear) soap cubes and the “art” happens when you dye it, layer it, scent it etc. I get that this is more fun and creative than actually making soap from… wood ash and lye(??? this is just a guess), but also seems like kind of a cop out to me? I don’t know, you know how I feel about pie, so maybe this is just a personal issue.

Melted soap base

Melted soap base

Anyway, the kit had pretty clear instructions. You heat up the soap blanks in the microwave to melt them, stir in any scent, dye, and/or other add-ins like the apricot seeds, then pour it into the mold. Then it hardens at room temperature and you’re good to soap.

It would start to harden pretty quickly

It would start to harden pretty quickly

Different concentrations of dye

Different concentrations of dye

The soap on the bottom right was the last one I made, where I just decided to use as much of the red dye as possible to see if it would ever come out BLOOD RED instead of pink. The answer is apparently no. Also, getting them out of the molds was kind of an annoying process. The mold was a brittle plastic, so I won’t be able to use that again.

They're pretty, though

They’re pretty, though

I will probably not be pursuing this craft further.

Last Month: Cake Decorating
Next Month: ????

Beginner’s Guide to Cake Decorating

I’m good at baking, but bad at decorating, so it’s been pointed out to me before (by Steven) that my cupcakes and cakes tend to look like they were made by a child. WELL THIS CHILD JUST TOOK A CLASS IN CAKE DECORATING FOOL. Online, but still.

To test out my new skills, I decided to try out all my different piping tips on a batch of cupcakes:
20171017_162616

I also made a Halloween cake for my book club (this maaay have been back in October, whatever).

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Much neater and flatter than I usually manage.

Inside it's Halloween funfetti

Inside it’s Halloween funfetti

Previously: Pole Dancing
Next: Soap Making

2017 Goals: Almost There!

Now that we’re 75% done with 2017, it’s time to see if I’m 75% done with my goals for the year.

1. Write a Beginners’ Guide Once A Month: 75%
Right on schedule:

July: Candy Making
August: Free Motion Quilting
September: Pole Dancing

I’m not sure when (if ever) I’ll do any of these again. All three were way hard and require a lot of practice to get competent at. But I’m glad I tried all of them!

2. Sew Something Once a Month: 67%

In July I made this quilted journal cover in my quilting class:

New skills!

New skills!

In August I made this Halloween wall hanging:

Still have not found a proper wall for this masterpiece

Still have not found a proper wall for this masterpiece

In September I made this ugly quilt for an ugly quilt contest:

I'm not saying I'm going to win, but I am saying I'm the only one who used faux fur

I’m not saying I’m going to win, but I am saying I’m the only one who used faux fur

3. Write in my journal once a week: 75%

I’ve been writing every day since I got into bullet journaling!

4. Make one new recipe every week: 63%

I am doing way better at this goal than I thought I would be, even though I have missed out some weeks.

3 seed bread

3 seed bread

Sugar cookies with a tea glaze

Sugar cookies with a tea glaze

Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

Pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%

You already know about this.

6. Finish a coloring book: 100%

Ah yes, my life’s greatest accomplishment

7. Be active every day: 42%
In September I started going back to my aerobics class, so that should give me a little bump in this statistic. Also I only counted that pole dancing class as one day, even though it felt like a week.

Total: 74.5%

I CAN DO IT

igotthis

Previously: 2017 Halfway

Beginner’s Guide to Pole Dancing

YES! FINALLY! I have been wanting to try a pole dancing class since I moved to Cary and found out my closest gym was a pole dancing one. One of my penpals does it and described it as “like swinging around the jungle gym as a kid except in high heels”. I had pretty much no faith in my strength or coordination but I knew I could count on a serious workout and having fun swinging around like an idiot! I accomplished both things.

To get pumped, I watched some “beginner” videos on youtube. There’s a reason I write the word in quotes because damn. Still, pole dancing is beautiful and hardcore as shit so I enjoyed watching the videos even if I knew I would never be able to do some of those moves. Esp after just an hour lesson!

My friend Alex agreed to go with me. She actually has ballet experience so she was much more poised and less floppy than my flailing self, but I like to think I made up the difference in sheer ENTHUSIASM.

GO TEAM

GO TEAM

We learned about five moves in all, and there was only one of them I could accomplish semi-gracefully: the pirouette. Surprise, it’s the only one that doesn’t require you to be able to support your body weight with just your arms.

Naturally my arms were HELLA sore for like three days after, but my legs were a little too because, surprise, pole dancing happens all on the balls of your feet and since I never wear heels, those muscles are not used to doing so much work. For this class we were barefoot, but when you move up the ~pole dancing ranks~ you do wear heels while doing it.

I decided I’m probably not going to invest the time and effort to get good at this, but it was fun to try. And it inspired me to go up a level in my usual weight-lifting because my arms are even less competent than I thought.

Previously: Free motion quilting
Next: ??? Email me your ideas

Beginner’s Guide to Free-Motion Quilting

I’m not a beginner to quilting, exactly, but I’ve only ever done quilting by hand. It takes foreverrrrrr so I decided to take a class at my local quilt shop to see if there was an easier way. Surprise! There is!

It's a quilted journal cover

It’s a quilted journal cover

See all those turquoise stitches? That’s the quilting holding the layers together. And I didn’t have to do them by hand! I did them with THIS:

It's my walking foot!

It’s my walking foot!

It’s basically a heavy-duty version of the normal foot that goes on my machine, so I’m not calling that trying something new. No, to do that we have to take this quilting rave to THE NEXT LEVEL.

FREE MOTION FOOT

FREE MOTION FOOT

That’s a free motion quilting foot, which basically allows you to draw using thread and your machine instead of graphite and a pencil. As you might recall, I’ve always kind of sucked at drawing so this was not easy.

The horror

The horror

It’s especially hard because the machine is doing nothing except moving the needle up and down in this kind of quilting. The length of your stitches as well as their placement depends entirely on how you move the fabric and how hard you press down on the pedal (making the needle go up and down faster or slower). Clearly it takes some serious practice to get anything approaching a non-mess.

A non-mess: not pictured here

A non-mess: not pictured here

Even hearts are hard!

Even hearts are hard!

The class I took was 3 hours, and I was definitely better at the end than at the beginning! I’m not sure how often I will be using this skill in the future, but I’m glad I’ve added it to my quilting arsenal. Maybe I’ll be signing my quilts like this from now on:

But how do you dot the I's?

But how do you dot the I’s?

Previously: Candy Making
Next: POLE DANCING

Beginner’s Guide to Candy Making

For July I decided to tackle candy making in honor of this book I bought from one of my favorite/most trusted bakers:

Sally's Candy Addiction by Sally McKenney

Sally’s Candy Addiction by Sally McKenney

Candy making is more complex than baking and requires a lot more minute attention to temperatures, something I was not always successful at. For instance, here is me failing at making butter rum candies:

Candy thermometer and everything

Candy thermometer and everything

Even though I followed the instructions and was watching the candy thermometer the whole time, they still turned out burned. Maybe my thermometer isn’t accurate or something. Oh well. On to the successes!

Birthday fudge

Birthday fudge

A layer of white chocolate fudge on top of a layer of milk chocolate fudge. With sprinkles!

Homemade Reese's Cups!

Homemade Reese’s Cups!

I only had crunchy peanut butter, but, surprise, that makes them EVEN BETTER!

Chocolate chip cookie bark

Chocolate chip cookie bark

The baby chocolate chip cookies this required were the best part. So cute!

And, my personal favorite:

Strawberry buttercream truffles!

Strawberry buttercream truffles!

These were rad as hell. The strawberry flavor is achieved through crushed freeze-dried strawberries so it really pops. Also Steven helped me perfectly temper the chocolate using the sous vide so, though it took a while, the dipping process was the easiest ever.

Winner!

Winner!

I also made chai tea truffles and lemon pie truffles, but they came out kind of underwhelming so I didn’t take pictures. This was a fun and delicious month!

Previously: Bullet Journaling
Next: Free Motion quilting

2017: Halfway There

The year is half over! But am I halfway done with my goals? Surprisingly, yes

1. Write a Beginners’ Guide Once a Month: 50%

At least there’s that

April: Gardening
May: Make Up
June: Bullet Journaling

Of these, my favorite was definitely bullet journaling, probably because it aligned the most with my interests. Also, I’m sad to report that the basil plant in April’s entry has since died. RIP

2. Sew Something Once a Month: 42%
You caught me, I didn’t sew anything in May. In April I made this bitchin Tuxedo Mask cape for Steven’s birthday:

Tuxedo Kamen-Sama!

Tuxedo Kamen-Sama!

And in June I made this whale mail holder:

These things always look more professional in my head

These things always look more professional in my head

3. Write in my journal once a week: 54%

The bullet journaling goal really made this one easy!

4. Make one new recipe every week: 42%

I skipped 4 different weeks for various reasons, be they travel, being too busy, or sickness. But I have made some awesome recipes despite that, including this amazing bread:

With no need to knead!

With no need to knead!

And this Smores ice box cake:

Thanks, Food Network Magazine!

Thanks, Food Network Magazine!

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days: 100%

I peaked early this year

6. Finish a coloring book: 100%

THAT’S RIGHT. It’ll probably be the only one I ever finish. I would take a picture for you but I threw it in recycling. I was done coloring it, what do you want

7. Read The Dictionary of Imaginary Places: 52%

Why did I think this was a good idea. Somehow I am on page 377 of 731

8. Be active every day: 30%

lol okay

Total: 59%

See you in September

Previously: Quarter Quell

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