Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

This month I was learning on my own instead of taking a class, so I know I didn’t do as thorough a job as if I had the guidance of a professional/someone forcing me to do things. Still, I consulted a lot of professionals, in the form of taking their books out from the library:

Sources (Books)
Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thore
Spencerian Handwriting by Platts Roger Spencer
Simple Stroke Calligraphy by Marci Donley
Encyclopedia of Calligraphy Techniques by Dana Hardy Wilson
Calligraphy by Margaret Morgan
Calligraphy in Ten Easy Lessons
Step by Step Calligraphy
Mastering Calligraphy by Gaye Godfrey-Nicholes

Of these, I liked the first one, Modern Calligraphy, the best. It went really in-depth about supplies and what to look for, explaining where you really do need to spend some money and where it’s okay to cheap out, especially for beginners. I also had this amazing Christmas present from Melissa:

A calligraphy kit!

A calligraphy kit!

It had a good practice booklet, pen, ink, and vellum. It was nice to have the basic supplies already. Here’s a practice booklet:

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

As you can see, my lack of artistic skill is definitely a drawback

I also can’t seem to get the thin vs thick lines that really define calligraphy. It’s all about the pressure you exert, which I suppose I could get with more practice:

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

My handwriting will always look kind of awkward to me, I guess

I’m probably not going to get more practice, though, because I discovered this month that, though I like the results of calligraphy, I don’t really like doing it, particularly. It’s fine, but I don’t have the drive to put in the time and effort I’d need to actually get good at it.

HOWEVER, one of the online sources I consulted, The Postman’s Knock, had an awesome tutorial about how to do CHEATING CALLIGRAPHY!! I am all about cheating, y’all. You can do it with a ballpoint, which I write in my journal with all the time. I immediately started practicing.

What would you have tried first?

What would you have tried first?

I write fast, which is probably why my handwriting is largely illegible. But for this you have to slow down, so I’m hoping I’ll at least take that lesson away from it to improve the quality of my journals in general, if not have them in beautiful Spencerian hand like I maybe naively hoped would happen this month.

I've started doing the first letter of each entry, like I'm important or something

I’ve started doing the first letter of each entry, like I’m important or something

I’m glad I took this month to play with calligraphy since it’s something that’s always interested me. Now I know all I want to about it, and I don’t have to wonder anymore. Plus, I think it’s improved my writing in some little ways.

Best Part: Livening up my journal!

Livens up the journal!

Like this!

worst Part: Sucking at drawing means sucking at calligraphy
Will I do this again?: Nope

Not sure what my plan for next month is yet, but I’m tentatively saying rock climbing!

Previously: Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

Sam Neill Post Script: And Then There Were None


Steven cancelled our cable, which meant I had till the end of the month to watch everything on the DVR. INCLUDING a Sam Neill miniseries I taped at some point in the last year based on the Agatha Christie novel, which I’ve never read, so it was exciting!

And Then There Were None (2015)

Also Charles Dance was in it!!

Also Charles Dance was in it!!

The mini-series: Ten people are invited to a mansion on a remote island under different pretenses, and once they’re trapped there, a recording plays accusing them all of murder, listing the victim(s) of each. Then they start to get killed off ONE BY ONE, and there’s no one else on the island so ONE OF THEM MUST BE THE KILLER! It’s super fun to try to puzzle out who is the killer.

Esp when they all look this shifty

Esp when they all look this shifty

The Character: Sam Neill plays General John MacArthur, who killed one of his own officers in the war when he discovered his wife was having an affair with him. Then his wife dies of Spanish influenza anyway, and he seems to regret his actions. He also pretty much accepts fairly quickly what is going to happen to them. At first I thought he might jump off a cliff into the sea, but instead he’s found bludgeoned to death.

Tough luck, Sam

Tough luck, Sam

Thing I Learned: This book’s original title was different. And it’s not like they changed it once and were done; it went back and forth a lot because wtf, 1947, 1977, and 1980. ESPECIALLY 1980, you should know better. Also, apparently Christie wrote a play based on the novel that changed the ending, making it a lot happier. This was the first film production in English that kept the novel’s grim ending instead!

Should you watch this?: Yes! Sam Neill is amazing, of course, but so are Charles Dance and the others! And its shot really well too.

Previously: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Next: ??????

Beginner’s Guide to Weaving

One of my goals this year is to try a new thing every month, and for January I took an intense week-long weaving course at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The Folk School itself is pretty incredible, and you should definitely check it out, but today we’re here to talk about weaving. On a four harness floor loom. If you’re a beginner and just want to get your feet wet weaving, I’m not sure I’d recommend a floor loom, because even the small model (“Baby Wolf”) that we used was a beast.

They all had names, and mine was Osma

They all had names, and mine was Osma

Before I went, I watched a bunch of youtube videos of other people using looms, in the hopes that it would help me understand the big picture. It kind of helped, I guess, although the process was still way more complicated than I thought. But before you even get to the loom, you need to pick your yarn and colors and do a bunch of math. Surprise! Every “feminine art” is actually all about math in the end; the patriarchy of science is built on lies (duh).


Do you remember what weaving is from those little pot holder looms? The vertical fibers are the warp, which gets secured to the loom through a lengthy process of measuring, adjusting tension, and threading things with hooks. The horizontal threads are what you add through the process of weaving by moving your shuttle back and forth.

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

This is how you measure it out/set it up to go on the loom

That’s a warping board, if you want to know. Then you secure the warp you made on there with ties and transfer it over to the loom where the finnicky process begins.

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

Not pictured: me constantly asking my neighbor if this is right

That board with all the nails sticking in it is used to measure your warp out evenly to the width of the finished project.

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Note the shoelaces and coffee can: technical weaving tools

Then you wind the rest of that sucker on the back of the loom making sure to keep your tension even.

Have fun! This takes hours

Have fun! This takes hours

Then you thread each individual strand through the eye of a heddle (the metal needle-like things) in a specific order/pattern depending on the pattern you want to make on your finished work. Because this was a four-harness loom, there were four rows of heddles. The most basic threading would be harness 1, harness 2, harness 3, harness 4 repeat, but you can also get fancy.

LOL you thought the threading was over

LOL you thought the threading was over

NOW you’ve got to thread every individual strand through this metal contraption called a reed (because they were once made from legit reeds). Don’t skip any spaces! Unless you’re supposed to, of course.

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Tie that sucker on to the front!

Now you are finally ready to weave! Once you tie up your pedals to specific harnesses and wind bobbins and what not. Pressing down on the pedals (okay, TREADLES, fine–I did learn the correct vocab) will lift certain harnesses, allowing you to pass your shuttle underneath those threads and above the others.

Yay, weaving!

Yay, weaving!

Best Part: My cool weaving class friends! I feel like we were a weaving support group.
Worst Part: Tuesday at noon when we had had NINE HOURS of class and still were not weaving.
Will I do this again?: I’m not rushing out to buy a four harness floor loom because I didn’t enjoy it enough to be worth the time and expense. But it was fun to try, and maybe a lap loom will be in my future.

I also made up a weaving song, set to the tune of Reading Rainbow because I was weaving a rainbow scarf:

Shuttle goes through the shed,
Do some math in your head
Look around the room
We’re all on looms
Weaving class!
With sort of a plan
And a coffee can
Weaving class!



Next: Beginner’s Guide to Calligraphy

2017 Goals: TO THE MAX

Can you believe it’s already the second week of 2017 and I haven’t made any goals yet? Just kidding, you know I prepared a spreadsheet about this like a month ago. Here’s what they are:

1. Write a Beginner’s Guide Once a Month
This is a blog series I want to start where I try something I’ve never done before and write a blog post about it. The January one is going to be The Beginner’s Guide to Weaving since I’m taking a class on it this month, but other ideas I’ve had include: juggling, rock climbing, make up, calligraphy, and pole dancing (there’s a pole dancing gym near my apartment!). We’ll see what else the year brings!

2. Sew something once a month
Guys, my sewing machine is so underused that I can hear it crying in the night from neglect.

Don't be fooled by its calm exterior

Don’t be fooled by its calm exterior

So I’m hoping to change that this year, even with just small projects or alterations.

3. Write in my journal once a week
You probably remember how I keep a journal and have since 6th grade (and sporadically even before that). I’ve kind of fallen out of the habit lately, and I want that to change.

4. Make one new recipe each week
I’m pretty sure I do this anyway, but I want to keep better track. Last week I made a chicken apricot tagine that Steven hated. And I forgot to take a picture. Oh well.

5. Keep my nails painted for 30 days
This is actually going to be a challenge for me, especially since I’ve found that working in the back room of the library pretty quickly destroys a manicure. So I’m going to get better at touch ups!

6. Finish a coloring book
Guys, I was into coloring books way before adult coloring books existed. I would spend plane trips faithfully coloring in pictures of animals and my fellow adult passengers would think there was something wrong with me. But I’m not sure I’ve ever actually finished a coloring book? This is wasteful and going to change.

7. Read The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi

It's only like 800 pages

It’s only like 800 pages

Remember how great it was reading all of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable in a year? Probably not, because it wasn’t, but I guess enough time has passed that I’m willing to give reading another one of my reference books a go. So far I’ve discovered there are way more underground civilizations than I could ever imagine.

8. Be Active every day
This one is the stretch goal because I already know I’m going to fail. Still, I’m making a stab at doing the best I can. I could never go to the gym every day or do any one kind of exercise every day, but this way I can mix it up between long walks, cycling, weights, yoga, aerobics class, whatever. On day eight I’m at about 50% which is shitty but also better than nothing.

Previously: 2016 Goals

Final 2016 Goal Update!

Time to wrap up 2016 with a report on my yearly goals! I did pretty well this year with a total of 96%. There was only one goal I didn’t complete!

1. Cook every recipe in Sally’s Baking Addiction: 100%

The final recipe was crepes!

Not perfect, but I'll take it

Not perfect, but I’ll take it

I would say out of everything I baked, my favorite had to be the homemade granola. It’s so easy, and so much more delicious than store-bought. Here’s the recipe for you:

Maple Pecan Granola
Prep Time: 5 min
Total time: 50 min plus cooling
Makes: 2-3 cups
2 cups (160g) old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup (165g) pure maple syrup (one time I ran out and used honey!)
1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar
3/4 cup (105g) chopped pecans
2 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Combine all ingredients and stir until all oats are moistened.
3. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

2. Finish all 2014 Goals: 100%
The only thing I had left on our last update was the fancy drinks!
2a) Read T-Z in Brewer’s: 100%
2b) Make 7 pies: 100%
2c) Make a fancy drink every month: 100%
Every drink I made in the last three months has been great! In October I made a fancy crock pot apple cider with apricot nectar for my book club. It was so great I made it again at Christmas! I tried another vanilla apple cider in November, but decided the first one was better. And then in December I made spicy crock pot hot chocolate and my book club loooooved it. I have made it at least three more times since because so do I. It’s from a book I got at the library called Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Maggie Shi.

Spicy Hot Chocolate
Serves 8-10
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
7 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Put everything in the slow cooker and whisk together. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours or until the chocolate has melted. Stir occasionally during that time.


2d) Get everything then on my to-read list off it: 100%
Of course, my to-read list now has 389 books on it, but whatever.
2e) Update my blog 7 times: 1005

3. Finish all my Craftsy Classes: 80%
This is the one I failed at. When we last talked, I only had Continental Style knitting to go. I gave it a shot but it was so awkward and frustrating I gave up. Maybe I’ll give it another shot at some point in the future.

4. Complete a temperature scarf: 100%!!
This is probably the goal I’m most proud of!! Here it is:


I haven’t woven in the ends yet, so eventually those will be gone. You can tell that summer was a lot more one note than winter on both sides. I averaged the highs and lows to get each day’s temperature. Here’s the color key:


I was going to use Red for an average in the 90s but somehow the average never got there. Ditto black for lower than 20.

5. Read one book a month someone else recommended to me: 100%
I’m pleased to say that three of the books from this project made it onto my Best Books of 2016 list! In October I read this book recommended by a library coworker:

Rat Fucked by David Daley

Rat Fucked by David Daley

This book was really interesting and also sad. It had a big chapter on North Carolina, since we’re one of the most (the most?) gerrymandered states. Check out my district, friends:

North Carolina's 4th. Designed by a computer to cram as many democrats in as possible so as not to pollute our surroundings

North Carolina’s 4th. Designed by a computer to cram as many democrats in as possible so as not to pollute our surroundings

Which isn’t as bad as District 12:

Ta Da! What the fuck

Ta Da! What the fuck

In November I read this book recommended by another coworker/friend:

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

This one got 5 stars from me! I don’t normally go for heavy sci-fi space adventures, but I really enjoyed this one about a mercenary working on a cargo ship that’s ~not what it seems~

In December I read this book recommended by Rob!:

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Rob often likes really angsty books so I was wary, but I really liked the voices of the main characters. They felt really honest and real. This one also got 5 stars.

Steven has vowed not to make goals for 2017 because he hated these quarterly reminders of his own failure. Here it is one last time!
1. Cook one vegetarian meal a week
“I was doing pretty good for a while there, and then I think I forgot. I still do it, but not on a regular basis.”
2. Learn a new violin piece once a month
“Yeah, I haven’t hardly picked up the violin outside of orchestra. Ain’t nobody got time for that.”
3. Finish all Craftsy classes
“No way. Nowhere near. I did finally get through the knife skills class I was putting off. It was useful.”
4. Make at least one bag out of leather
“I feel kind of bad about that one. I kept thinking about it, planning out different things in my head, and then never… I got distracted with Christmas presents actually.”

Previously: Goals 2016: Home Stretch

2016 Books: The Pretty

Okay, so these book covers aren’t necessarily pretty but they are ones that drew me in. I put a * next to the ones that are also on my 2016 Books: The Good list. Winning all the awards!

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen
I looked at this one for a long time. It works well with the wistfulness of the story.

*Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This kind of pop art really sells the whimsical nature of the story.

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
This book didn’t live up to the creepiness of the cover.

Habibi by Craig Thompson
Beautiful art style, suspect story

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd
I read this for #LaddSolidarity but I also really like the cover.

*Romeo and/or Juliet: A Chooseable-Path Adventure by Ryan North

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
SO PURPLE of course I like it

Shell-Shocked by Jessica Payseur
I just think everyone needs to see this cover. LOOK AT IT. It’s an Easter-themed romance novel.

The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci
I’m here for modern Medusa

I’ll See You In Paris by Michelle Gable
This cover looks like something I’d enjoy, but alas

*Augie and the Green Knight by Zach Weiner
All the art in this book was great!

*Anything but Ordinary Addie: The True Story of Adelaide Hermann, Queen of Magic by Mara Rockliff
Get it, girl

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo
Another cover that’s not pretty but is interesting

Sprinkles! Recipes and Ideas for Rainbowlicious Desserts by Jackie Alpers

*Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Graphic novels I liked usually make it on here because I love the art

*The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
The cover itself looks exciting even before you know what it’s about

Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola

*LumberJanes vol. 3: A Terrible Plan by Noelle Stevenson
Lumberjanes pretty much always ends up on here, right?

*The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg
Another great graphic novel

Surprise-Inside Cakes by Rettke Amanda

Previously: 2016 Books: The Ugly

2016 Books: The Ugly

Here are my picks for ugliest book covers of the year (out of ones I read). I put a * next to the ones that were also on my 2016 Books: The Bad list. Rocking it with all the bad awards!!!

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak
As boring as it can get, really

Over Easy by Mimi Pond
I expected more from this graphic novel

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach
If this book hadn’t been recommended to me, the cover would have turned me away. I’m not into technical specs about your space ship.

*Feeling Lucky by Kathy Bryson
Dude is still wearing a shirt? What kind of romance novel cover is this?

*American Werechaun in Dublin by Andy Click

Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded by Samuel Richardson
This book was considered downright SALACIOUS in its time, so I feel like this cover could try harder.

Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy by David Daley
This book was really interesting, but its cover isn’t doing anything for it.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Those bangs, oh god

The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
It took me a stupid amount of time to realize that those are trees. Why are they sideways?

*To Catch an Heiress by Julia Quinn
Rose clip art. Not even trying.

*The Warlord by Elizabeth Elliott
At least he’s not wearing a shirt, but the luscious flowing locks aren’t really doing it for me.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
This looks like a children’s book not an angsty novel set in a winery

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
You can do better

*Cosmic Sex by Karen Kelley
He looks stoned

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
This cover makes my teeth itch

Pogue’s Basics by David Pogue

*Kana’s Quest by Anthony Ray Olheiser

The Girls by Emma Cline

*The Eyes of the Arab Boy by R Lamirand
I hate everything about you

Previously: 2016 Books: The Bad
Next: 2016 Books: The Pretty

ABC DVD: Arrested Development 2.3

Motherboy XXX
Lucille is ashamed of Buster’s hook hand so she concocts a plan to take George Michael to the annual “Motherboy” competition/dance event instead. Michael is determined to rescue him, and Buster agrees to help. Other boys wish they were being rescued from Motherboy.


The Immaculate Election
Ann and Michael convince George Michael to run for school president, but when Michael finds out his son has no chance against Steve Holt, he asks Gob to use George Sr.’s dirty tricks to get him elected. Gob makes an incendiary campaign video that backfires, but impresses Ann with his light saber moves. Lindsay kicks Tobias out, so he dresses up as a British nanny named Mrs. Featherbottom to come back. They know it’s him, but the house has never been so clean.


Sword of Destiny
Gob buys a “sword of destiny” and pretends to be Buster’s magical assistant since he can’t get a gig himself after the Magician’s Alliance kicked him out. Michael is hospitalized with appendicitis and thinks no one can do anything without him, but then everything is fine. Well, as fine as anything ever is.


Meat the Veals
George Michael wants to ask Ann to get pre-engaged and Michael decides the Veals need to meet his family so they will disapprove of the idea. Unfortunately, Lucille is depressed about George Sr. being gone and Gob is busy helping George Sr. kidnap Lucille for a secret vow renewal ceremony so they aren’t as awful as usual. Mrs. Veal takes Michael’s compliments (comparative to Ann) as come-ons tries to make out with him. Everyone ends up fighting at the church and George Sr. runs away again.


Spring Breakout
Michael checks Lucille into rehab until Kitty returns and demands to see her. She challenges Lucille to a drinking contest for George Sr.’s sperm. Lucille wins. GOB blows up the family yacht as part of a magic trick.


Righteous Brothers
The model home collapses because it is shoddily made. George Michael and Maeby kiss. Tobias and Kitty leave together for Las Vegas, and Michael and GOB get in a fight on the courthouse lawn. They are separated by George Sr. who says there’s been too much fighting in the family and he’s going to turn himself in. Instead, he shaves and frames his twin brother Oscar.


Trish’s Review
This is a strong set of episodes with some of the most memorable minor characters like Mr. and Mrs. Veal and Tony Wonder. The best part is probably when all the different storylines get ratcheted up to 11 in Righteous Brothers.
Rating: five out of five coolers full of sperm
Kill/Fuck/Marry: Kill Lucille because Motherboy is a terrible thing to inflict on anyone. Fuck Mrs. Veal and then get in an epic duel with Mr. Veal. Marry Tony Wonder, the magician, because he ~magically~ gives out free food and I like sandwiches.


Steven’s Review
Okay, yeah. This is where we get the good stuff. Badass Lucille makes an appearance, “Mrs. Featherbottom” makes “her” debut, and each episode seems to be daring the next one to be even more ridiculous. And seriously, the acting talent that we’re getting in this set is fantastic; Alan Tudyk and Ben Stiller in addition to the usual crew. Not to mention we finally see George Michael and Maeby finally seal the deal! (Or at least make out, but for them that’s close enough). Best line for me had to be Mrs. Veal begging Michael to teach her the ways of the secular flesh. And don’t forget the great Christian talk show, “And As It Is Such, Also As Such Is It Unto”
Rating Five out of five severed fingers
Kill/Fuck/Marry Kill Gob, because it’s a mercy to him and everyone else around him. Fuck Mrs. Veal (duh). Marry Kitty, because wouldn’t that be a wild ride?

Previously:Arrested Development 2.2
Next: Arrested Development 3.1

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