Archive | October, 2011

Midnight Craft: No-sew Jersey bracelet

30 Oct

I can’t sleep. It might be the apple cider K-cup I drank a few hours ago (yeah, that’s right, I bought them and they are awesome), or it might be the fact that it’s two days before Halloween and it’s been snowing all day so I have been doing nothing but lying around and sleeping. Whatever it is, I’m up and I needed something to do.

I found this awesome bracelet tutorial on Hellogiggles.com. At first I looked at it, thought ‘hey that’s neat,’ and sent it over to my friend Alicia, because she’s less lazy craftier than me and I thought she would like it. Then I sat and stared at it for a couple minutes, watched an episode of “30 Rock” and decided to give it a go.

When looking over the blog’s guidelines there were some definite things an unmotivated, broke girl like me had to tweak. First of all, I’m not buying jersey. I have 3 jillion (at first I put 300, but then I realized some people have a ton of t-shirts and it might not be a stretch, so I decided to be a little dramatic and make up a number) t-shirts sitting in my drawer that are never worn and are made of the same fabric. The problem was, the tutorial required at least 58 inches of fabric, and my tshirt wasn’t 58 inches wide (I used a size medium which was about 8 inches or so off, an extra-large or XXL might make the cut) so I got Erica with it and did it my own way. So here’s how it went (to see larger versions of the photo, just click them!):

 1*I started with an old t-shirt, scissors and a ruler. That’s all you need. I picked a shirt I wasn’t using in a color I thought was still pretty nice. In my case it was a sage green little number from my days working at a nature park. I have almost an entire drawer of just this shirt, and they are all covered in dirt and unexplainable stains, but to be fair I was working outside in swamps and nature trails, with children, in the most humid months of the year. Best job I ever had.

Anyway, so I took this old hunk of junk and cut the bottom hem off, then from one side of the bottom of the shirt I cut up one inch. That’s basically the only use for the ruler, if you need to measure up one inch. Luckily for me, I took a year of art school and learned to eyeball that kind of stuff. Those useless life lessons are totally worth the ten years in college loans.

2*From here I cut a continuous strip of one inch fabric away from the shirt. Remember when you were a kid (or a bored 22-year-old) and you would make paper mobiles by cutting a whirlpool into a paper plate? It’s essentially the same idea. Cut your shirt at a very small upward angle, almost like a coil, so that by the time you get around the shirt completely the strip is still connected. In the first loop you may have to trim up the edge a little bit to keep it at one inch, but once you get the coil started its very easy to continue. By the time you get to the armpit part of your shirt you should have one massively long strip of fabric. In my case I got about 275 inches out of one shirt.

Now that we have our materials it is time to weave the actual bracelet. I feel like this is a technique every little girl has done during those Cat’s Cradle string games or whatever that was, so it should seem familiar, and once you get going you’ll be amazed how quickly your bracelet actually comes together.

3*Create a tail of about 3-4 inches, then, with your palm up, weave the strip under your right ring finger and over your pinky (switch it up if you’re left handed).  The long part of the strip should run off your pinky.

I chose to make a two-finger bracelet, but the blog I found this one offers a three and four finger example as well, which makes it thicker and requires more fabric. In those cases, use one more finger every time (If you want a three finger bracelet, start the weave at your middle finger. For four, start at your pointer finger, always starting under) Check it out to get a clearer idea.

4*Wrap the strip under your pinky, then weave it up and over your ring finger and back under so that it is sitting on the back of your hand. When referring to the picture on the right, at this moment it should only look like the bottom 2 loops on my hand.

5* Take the strip and loop it around the back of your hand to the front, in a full circle around your ring and pinky fingers. At this point your hand should look like mine does in the picture.

I suggest taking the long strip and securing it between your pointer and middle finger at this point. You have to pull and tug at things, so its good to have the ends secure.

6* Pull the loops on the bottom of both of your fingers up and over the band on top. They will snap off of your finger and begin the foundation of your bracelet. You want to pull each one individually. In my case they seemed tight, but they snapped over and it worked out. I had to pull the bands up higher than the base of my fingers. From here it looked like the top strip with a thin band between the ring and pinky finger.

After you pull the first loops over and off your fingers, pull the tail and the excess strip tight. You want to make sure nothing comes loose or wiggles around, so that when the bracelet is finished it won’t become unraveled.

7. *Continue steps 5 and 6, wrapping the band around your fingers and pulling the lower pieces up and over the band. Every time you do one round, just start it back over again. Make sure your tail pieces are tight at all times. Securing the strip with your middle and pointer fingers is my best advice to keep everything tightened and looking good. Continue this until you have the length of your wrist.

After the first three to five pieces its going to look kind of like a mess, but once it starts to get some length to it you will start to see the shape of the bracelet. Trust me on this. I restarted this bracelet four or five times before I just pushed through it and realized I was actually doing it right.

8. *Gently pull the loops off of your fingers, once you have it to your desired length. Make sure that the loops don’t fall out once you remove it off of your fingers. Grab the two loops and pinch them together.

From here I measured the bracelet to my wrist again and found that it would be way too big. In that case all you have to do is (gently!!) pull out one or two rows of loops out. If it is too small, slide the two loops back on your fingers and add the extra length the same way you did before.

9. *Take the remaining length of fabric and pull it through the two loops. This project did not take 275 inches of fabric. At the most it took 45 or 50 inches, so I had a lot of fabric to pull through these two loops.

10 *Pull the top and bottom tails very tightly. I noticed that the tighter that I pulled it the cleaner the ends looked, and obviously the more secure it is.

From there I took the tails and tied them together. Knot them twice, trim the edges and you’re done!

You don’t have to worry about tying and untying the bracelet, because it has a lot of stretch and it will loosen up. I trimmed it really close to the knots, and I kind of wish I left it a big of a longer tail, just because it adds to the look a little bit. The strips looked a lot like ribbons, so if you wanted to keep the tails long that is a cute look too.

I really love this bracelet. It’s super comfortable and it looks a lot like a hemp bracelet that I wear in the summer. Again this is the two-finger bracelet, and it is super thick, so I don’t know if I would even try out a bigger bracelet.

There is a ton of fabric left, so I think I might make a belt or necklace with what I have. Gotta love upcycling!

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My Favorite Things of the Season

27 Oct

Ahhhhhhhhhh…

Fall is here!!

I cannot hype up the fall season enough. First of all, just look outside (unless it’s the night time, then just Google “autumn afternoon” or something). It is so unbelievably beautiful. I have always wanted to get married the second to last weekend in October, just when it’s the perfect temperature and the leaves have changed to their maximum color potential… I haven’t thought this out at all.

With autumn comes with a whole world of new food opportunities. There really isn’t any other time with so many seasonal flavors that tie in so perfectly with the way the world is reacting outside. Here are just a few of my favorite fall treats!

Punkin Ale

I have been waiting to try Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale for two years. After several days of hunting, Alex and I loaded up on two cases of the stuff.
If you are 21 and have the opportunity, run as fast as you physically can to the nearest liquor store and get Punkin Ale. It is so perfectly delicious and tastes so wonderfully seasonal I couldn’t even believe it. It has this deep pumpkin color and it smells absolutely unbelievable, like cinnamon and pumpkin pie and falling leaves and everything you would picture on a Thanksgiving Hallmark card.

The beer has a sweetness to it, but nothing so unappealing that it loses its beer taste. I’m no connoisseur, but I could taste all of the ingredients that they listed on the front of the bottle individually at some point.

I’m a really slow drinker when it comes to specialty beers, and that usually hurts the finale for me. For all those recent college grads that spent the last four years drinking warm cups of Natty Ice, you ill be just as shocked as I am when you drink this beer warm. I think it actually enhances the flavor when it’s a little warm.

This weekend, settle down at home, cook a really nice, warm, seasonal meal, curl up with a blanket and a Punkin Ale and watch a Halloween movie. I’m telling you, you will not be disappointed.

Apple Cider

As a fan of celebrating all seasons in excess, I like doing anything and everything to get others into the spirit as well.  A couple of weeks ago I made my wonderful boyfriend, Alex, buy me apple cider, which we warmed up on the stove while making apple pie… overboard? I think not. Besides, it made the whole house smell amazing.

When the season ends I spend a lot of time searching the juice aisles for apple cider, and am usually let down. That’s why I am stocking up on apple cider K-cups from Green Mountain Coffee for the rest of the year. I’ve never had them, but Green Mountain makes some blergtastic coffee and I’m assuming these are just as good as the others. Plus I can use them to make this awesome mixed drink my room mates and I made for Halloween last year: Apple cider, Spiced Rum and Sparkling Water… Happy fall, happy fall indeed.

Oktober-foods

Yeah, sure, Oktoberfest is actually in September. And yeah, sure, I live in New Jersey, which is nowhere near Germany which is where Oktoberfest is actually held. That doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate it.

Luckily for me there are a million places around the area that have Oktoberfest menus and specials that appeal to the Kraut in my soul. Iron Hill Brewery, for example, offers Oktoberfest eggrolls, stuffed with bratwurst, sauerkraut and cheese and served with mustards. So. Good.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

With my new job requiring me to wake up a horribly cruel 8 a.m. I have become a coffee person. I like a little bit of sweet, and it usually needs some sort of flavor in the bean. My go-to is French Vanilla, but seeing as it is the fall, I have switched my sites toward Pumpkin Spice coffee.

I went for a latte at first, but in the morning when any amount of work or emotions is too difficult to face, I can’t take super sweet. Plus they are an insane amount of calories and I’m trying to avoid diabetes with my morning drink.

My new standard in the morning is Wawa’s pumpkin spice blend, mainly because I’m from South Jersey and Wawa’s consume my entire being. Try it with hazelnut creamer to add a little extra flavor.

Halloween Candy

Come on, this is a give-in. Stores are stocked full of ridiculous amounts of candy and it taunts me all day long.

Alex and I decided to grab ourselves some sweets the other day. Alex is a general sweet and sour guy: SweetTarts, Nerds, Swedish Fish, you know how it is. I’ve always been a chocolate fan, but I decided to mix it up with something seasonal, which is why I chose Caramel Apple Pops from Tootsie Rolls.

Now for someone like me who just got my first filling ever a few weeks ago a green apple lollipop covered in caramel might have been a bad choice, but they are really, really good. They weren’t what I expected, but they are definitely a good way to celebrate Halloween.

10 Reasons Why I Suck at Blogging

26 Oct

Every night for the past two weeks I have tried to sit down and leave a post in this thing. I’m not short of ideas, that’s for sure. I’ve got this new (at times, very very stressful job), I’m car and apartment shopping and I’m just generally weird at all times. Creativity isn’t the issue.

So, as a form of punishment, and hopefully inspiration, I’ve decided to sit down and list my 10 reasons why I suck at blogging.

1. I’m lazy.
Let’s not lie here. After a day of doing stuff I don’t feel like settling down and doing more stuff. I am pretty lazy, and I just don’t like pushing myself beyond what is necessary. Sorry!

2. I get too preoccupied with other pointless stuff.
Right now I’m knitting myself a scarf. I didn’t realize how long and stupid and time consuming knitting a scarf is. No, I don’t plan on packing it away and going back to sanity. I plan on finishing it, then move onto another pointless craft to waste my time.

3. I’ve got a job.
Here’s the deal with entry level jobs: they make you work a lot. A lot. I expected working a lot, just maybe not 10 hours a day like I am now. So, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is write more.

4. I’ve got too much I want to do with money from that job.
Dinners, shopping, trips, those dumb crafts I mentioned. Think of all the ways a person can waste their money and I have done that in the last two weeks. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means making a lot of money, but I am spending a lot of money. And that takes money.

5. I’ve got a boyfriend.
Working a 50 hour a week job takes up enough time, and I still have a boyfriend that I kind of sort of like spending time with. I’m not going to spend my now very limited with him on a computer. I spend enough time every day staring at a screen for Pete’s sake.

6. I’m too busy reading better blogs.
I am obsessed with HelloGiggles.com right now. Seriously. Why are you still reading this? Go check that out.

7. I was in mourning over the Phillies.
Yes, when the Phillies lost in the first round of the playoffs (The first round? Seriously guys? I don’t even unders…whatever.) I actually cried. The entire night. I’ve been spending the last three weeks hiding from sports stations, news websites, anything that mentions the word “baseball.” It takes a lot of energy to be that pathetic.

8. I’m not doing very well at having it all.
My mind kind of painted a picture of this (entry-level) job as being a glamourous 12-4 $50,000 a year reality show kind of job where I don’t actually do anything. Turns out I spend most of my day stressing over not screwing up only to receive a paycheck that makes me angry and depressed just to look at, then go home to a house pretty packed full of people and pass out. Then on top of that I got my lovely student loans letters, so after this month I will be spending the next 10 years of my life hating my decision to go to college. I’m definitely not living like a Kardashian.

9. I’m trying my best at pursuing even more topics worth writing about.
When the weekends come I try and get out to do, you know, hobbies. See friends, watch sports, drive places, see things. Just try and be a little more interesting than average. Doesn’t lead a lot of time to be a blogger

10. I’m good at making up excuses.
See numbers one through nine.

Vide-OH! of the Day

8 Oct

To be honest, I’ve never played Angry Birds and I don’t actually care much about it. At all. I don’t have a smart phone/iPod from the last 5 years people, cut me a break.

But these guys are so good at shooting I can’t NOT share this.

RIP Steve Jobs

5 Oct

Photo courtesy: Apple.com

There is so much I could say about Steve Jobs and his company. After all, I grew up as Apple products grew. Sitting in my first computer  classes with the big, colorful, plastic Macs, staring in jealousy at kids on the bus while they played with their brand new iPods, setting up my MacBook Pro before I left for college. I’m even writing on my Mac right now as I remember the memories that Steve Jobs has provided in my life.

Right now it doesn’t even seem real that Steve Jobs is gone. What could take such a powerful and innovative man down? How is that possible?

Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t discriminate, and there is still no piece of technology advanced enough to cure it every time. We may have lost Steve Jobs, but I hope that his memory will inspire more people to fight for a cure and for an answer to this horrible disease.

Rest in Peace, and thank you, Mr. Jobs.

Catching up on life

5 Oct

If I was going to say ‘sorry I haven’t been posting lately, I’ve been super busy’ that would be a terrible lie.

Because super busy doesn’t even explain how insane my life in the last week has been.

In case you all were wondering, yes I am still with my job and yes, I did get my terrible, horrible, hideous haircut fixed. Getting into the swing of things at the magazine has been much crazier than I imagined it would be. I’m there at least nine hours a day, and I always wish I had the energy to work for another nine more.

When I interned at the magazine I didn’t stress if a project didn’t get finished or if I missed a part of an assignment, because I knew that when 5 p.m. rolled around I was out of there until the next time I was due back. In the mean time someone else could pick up my mistakes. In the big-girl-world that isn’t how life flies, and my biggest stress is constantly worrying about getting everything done and doing it well. I can’t mess this up.

I think my unexpected pile of stress led to my nasty cold over the weekend. My cold couldn’t have come at a worse time: it was the first weekend that I wouldn’t have to show up at a job, it was the start of the MLB playoffs and, most importantly, it was my Nanny’s 92nd birthday party.

I love my grandmother. She is one of the most important people in my life, and we have always had a very special bond that I haven’t shared with anyone else. She gives me faith in moments of my life when I didn’t think faith would come to me.

Monday was my Nanny’s official birthday, so I had planned to call her, then visit her during the week and then write a post about how special she is to me here. Unfortunately plans changed when my Nanny fell of a step in her home and broke her hip. At the age of 92 any injury is serious, especially one that would require such a serious surgery. Needless to say I felt beyond crushed, guilty and all-around miserable. I couldn’t even be there for her birthday, which, after her fall, my family was viewing as her last. I had let her down.

My Nanny grew up orphaned during the Great Depression. She has survived cancer, heart disease, a stroke. She’s lost her husband and one of her sons, and yet she still stands as the strongest person I have ever experienced. She is a fighter, and she proved that once again to our entire family as she fought through her surgery Tuesday morning. While she is in pain she is recovering, and should start to heal soon.

It has been a stressful crazy and pretty much overwhelming week. I’m pretty much ready for it to be over. I’m ready to become more adjusted to a real work schedule and full work responsibilities and I’m really ready for the Phillies to stop stinking and finish this series. All I can do is hope for an easier next week, right?