• 15 minute posts

    hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! ppy fall!

    I’m trying something new. I’m going to journal here (the pc version of course) and skip my usual morning journaling in my beloved moleskin. Poor moleskin. He’s going to miss me. Journaling on the computer is how I started blogging in the first place. I can type so much faster than I can write (which you will see might be a hinderance). Thank you 8th grade typing class with those heavy black metal typewriters that clacked so loudly. Anyway, in preparation of November write a Novel month (what’s it called? NOVOPOMO?) I thought I’d try to write daily here first. Disclaimer alert. I should never say my goals out loud because I invariably break them or resent them. But here I go!

    The problem I have with writing a novel is that I don’t have really strong plot-writing skills. I can describe a character, a room, all sorts of things. I can even write dialogue, I think. I just have trouble coming up with a really good plot arc. That was my whole problem with the Secret Agent Josephine in Paris book and the reason I never wrote any more Secret Agent Josephine books (though I still want to get back to the Secret Agent Josephine At Home). I just couldn’t write a kids’ spy book and have it be something silly about chasing down the blueberry caper or solving another stolen art mysteries. Snore… Spies are about murder and duality and finding secrets with trickery and sex appeal. Not exactly children’s literature material.  I just couldn’t make Secret Agent Josephine a go-go-gadget character, even though she sorta was. So she sits in my head getting extremely bored.

    ANYWAY! I swear, journaling with me (with the ease of typing) is just an endless stream of tangents. I thought I was going to start this post talking about Fall! Ha! Another tangent: A long time ago, I think during my messenger days of sending Bethany Actually a million texts all day long as a release vent for my failing marriage, I programmed my computer to type hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! instead of the word “ha” as a shortcut because I was terribly offended by “lol” back in those days. I was such a snob. To this day (through three computers even,) every time I type anything with the letter “h” and “a”, it automatically fills up my screen with hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! It’s terrible. hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! it’s like a virus hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! I can’t get it to stop. Try typing hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! ppy Birthday or Hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! lelujah or hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! nd job. Just kidding. I never type hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!nd job. And I don’t remember how to fix it. So I’m constantly backspacing over my hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! to turn it back to ha-something

    So Fall!! I was thinking about it just before I sat down to type because I stuck a spoonful of caramelized sweetened condensed milk in my coffee this morning and it was swirling around so majestically. Joon had a baking babysitting event this weekend (I’ll have to blog that later) and she taught herself how to make caramel by baking sweetened condensed milk in the oven. It takes about an hour but turns out amazing. So caramelly and gooey! We have a ton of it now so I thought it would be a good idea to stick a spoon of it in my coffee with a nod towards Starbucks and their endless parade of fall-themed drinks. Take that Starbucks. I’m probably going to gain about ten pounds right before we have to get holiday pictures taken. Groan.

    But it also feels amazingly fall-ish because we actually hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!ve a chill in the air in the morning. I LOVE a change in seasons. I felt the same way about summer. When you wake up in the morning and something seems different, it’s magical.  I cannot wait to wear sweaters and socks and slippers again. I have fuzzy UGG slippers and they are THE BEST.

    The girls have been wearing heavy over-sized hoodies all through summer. Eighty degrees in the shade or not. They are nuts. They have heat rash to prove it. Hoodies have been a fashion statement this year and they wear them every single day like a uniform. The bigger the better. I think they each have about twenty hoodies apiece. I know this because they don’t hang them up or fold them and put away them in drawers or on shelves. They just leave them hanging around their room in various stages of inside-out-ness. Finally I got sick of the problem and designated two of Bug’s expedit baskets for hoodies instead of old toys that she hasn’t played with since she was six. It was a rite of passage. Out with the toys, in with the bins of hoodies. So now she stuffs them in her baskets and we are all happy.

    You might be wondering how these teens could amass twenty or more hoodies each. Well, it’s something like this: every time we go to the store to buy them some necessary garment like a shirt or a much needed bra they end up picking out a hoodie instead. And then there’s me being the clueless parent that I am and I fail to remember that they already have several at home. It could also be that the teens are extremely persuasive. They are!!! They make it seem like the hoodie in question is some kind of collector’s item that their life depends upon. I’m just stupid. I fall for it every time. But no more I say. They have enough hoodies to dress two rugby teams and they would fit too!

    I digress again. I’m hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!! ppy it’s fall and I cannot wait to carve up a dozen pumpkins for all my alphamom crafts. In fact that’s what is on my to do list today. What a silly job I have.

  • artsy fartsy,  how-to's,  Tis the Season

    The Great Fall Sun Catcher Project

    Brenda makes an epoxy sun catcher with fall leaves

    A lot of you watched this all go down on Instagram stories. It was quite the saga. I originally set out to make a fall-leaf sun catcher as a craft for alphamom  but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t a project for kids or the crafter-lite™. No this was a serious commitment for seriously demented crafters like me. But you know what? It was a total blast! I will definitely do this again and again. And I’m going to share it all here for other serious deep-dive crafters like me.

    What’s the secret to this wondrous project? Epoxy. Epoxy is magic! You can make so many things with it! Payam has been a fan for a long time but I’ve always been a bit afraid of it. #1 It smells toxic (However I did find a brand that isn’t so bad. See below). #2 It’s sticky. #3 It has a limited time window that you can work within. If you don’t get it right within that time frame you are out of luck. SOL! No pressure or anything!


    So here is what you need:

    • epoxy (I bought this brand – no respirator needed!)
    • a silicone pan* (I went with a circle because I was singing Harvest Moon the whole time.)
    • a silicone mat*
    • fall leaves
    • waxed string
    • popsicle sticks
    • latex gloves
    • translucent beads in fall colors
    • gold dust glitter

    I thought I’d have trouble finding fall leaves in Southern California since we are “seasonally challenged” but I was amazed at all the pretty red eucalyptus leaves I found. They aren’t the bright reds and yellows that you find back east but I like to think they are just more subtle with their beauty.


    So pretty right? I’m going to have to keep doing more crafts with these gifts from nature. They are beautiful and they are FREE!


    Next I tied them to a bunch of strings. I had Bug act as a hand model because I am embarrassed of my motley grandma hands.


    After a few hours of stressing out about the mystical magical epoxy and reading all the small print I finally got up the guts to mix up my epoxy potion. It turns out it isn’t that stressful after all. You just empty one bottle and then the next one into your container. No measuring required. The trick is to mix thoroughly for a full three minutes. I may have only mixed my mixture for two point something minutes because the edges of my circle disc didn’t cure 100% and Payam had to come to my rescue with another coat from his shop stash of epoxy. But we’ll get into that later. Anyway, mix, mix, mix! Make sure you get that popsicle stick all over the place, especially the edges.


    Now the fun part: dipping! This was so exciting. The leaf goes into the epoxy mixture dull and comes out looking like a wet shiny jewel. It is truly amazing. I could do this step all day! It’s a bit messy though. It’s important to wear gloves because you get epoxy all over your hands and it doesn’t wash off that easily. In fact, you have better luck just wiping your fingers off with a paper towel and letting the rest wear off naturally. I know. Probably toxic and all that.


    After I dipped them I let the excess epoxy drip off onto a silicone mat. I added glitter at this point. Glitter was definitely not necessary, the leaves glittered just fine by themselves but who’s gonna stop the glitter-fairy? Not me!


    After all the leaves were dipped and set out to dry, I put some remaining leaves into the pan I was dipping in because that would be the round disc base for my sun catcher. I added glitter to that too, of course.


    After an hour or so of dripping onto the mat, the leaves started to get tacky so I lifted them gently off the mat and hung them on my hand dandy Daiso laundry hanger from their strings. A regular clothing line would work too. Just make sure you have some cardboard or paper below to catch any extra drips. You don’t really want to have to scrape epoxy off your floor. But if you do get some drips on your floor or table (like we did) just use a paint scraper and it will come off most surfaces.


    Now the waiting part. Curing took about two days. It was painful. I kept touching it and then instantly regretting touching it because it was still sticky and now I had sticky residue on my hand again that doesn’t wash off easily. But the end result is so worth the wait. I kept looking at how cool and wet it looked and found myself day-dreaming about all the other things I could possibly make. Dreamy!

    This is also about when Payam put another layer of epoxy on for me because I had some sticky patches that just wouldn’t dry. Payam has industrial-strength (smelly) epoxy that sets up in way less time. I think it only takes a day to completely cure. I don’t really know the exact particulars on what he used but it was a lot more fussy with measuring 5 parts epoxy to 1 part hardener etc etc… You can ask him.  At the end of the day I had a nice hard disc that was nearly perfect. He sanded off the rough edges for me and then drilled holes where I asked him to.


    You can see that the disc was still a tiny bit flexible. I was actually thankful it was because I was worried it might shatter when it was drilled but Payam, who knows all things epoxy, assured me that it was easy to drill and wouldn’t crack or break at all. I’m still a newbie at this and was skeptical.


    But it worked and now it was time to assemble! Waxy string holder for the top. Waxy string leaf danglers for the bottoms with beads added for extra prettiness…. all good!


    I took it out to a tree to take photos and I thought about leaving it as an outdoor decoration but I was worried that the waxed string wouldn’t hold up to the weather long term so I moved it inside to my kitchen window. Yes, my windows are dirty. Payam is such a wonderful loving person that he actually went out and cleaned them for me but they still look dirty because we have hard water and the lyme residue would take hours to remove. I’m just not a perfectionist about stuff like that.

    I prefer to dwell on other things, like my pretty sun catcher!

    If you make one too drop me a line! I’d love to see what other people come up with. I’m thinking I might have to make a few for Christmas gifts…

    *notates that you probably won’t want to use this for anything else besides non-food related crafts so invest accordingly.