Good Mood for Daaaays

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I know I’m going to jinx myself by saying this, but I have been in a good mood for days. Maybe even months. It’s really weird. Tomorrow, a piano-sized cloud of doom will probably fall on my head but in the meantime I just wanted to raise my hands in the air and say wooo hooooo! This is really cool!

I don’t know what to credit it to. More serotonin from my medication? My hormones have leveled out for a brief moment? Money problems have sort of straightened themselves out temporarily… etc?  Knock on wood. Is it that I found a new thrift store and bought a passel of new (cheap) clothes? Or is it that I’m participating in Inktober this month and having a lot of fun? I don’t know!dragon-breath

I love Inktober. It’s humbling to see how many artists are out there doing such a better job than I am. But at the same time it’s really really good to force myself to draw everyday.   I haven’t drawn something every single day in October but I’ve hit a lot of them. It’s been eye-opening.

I’ve found that my biggest challenge is slowing down. I always rush my drawings. I don’t know why I think I need to draw like my sketchbook is on fire. I can barely stop myself from scrawling through them, spelling mistakes, smudging my ink…skipping detail work or shading,  and then worst of all just posting carelessly without fixing lighting problems in photoshop or just scanning correctly. I’m  in a mad rush, always. I think I’m afraid that if I slow down, the drawing in my head will never happen. Or maybe it’s just that I think my drawings are really funny and I can’t wait to share them. I think it’s more that.  But the problem is that after I post them and check obsessively to see what everyone else thinks, I find all my errors all day long and kick myself. I’m very good at kicking myself. I am my own worst enemy.

overgrown

In spite of my messiness and carelessness, some of the drawings I really love. Like this one of Bug with all her plants. She actually only has two plants but she dreams of getting more. The inktober prompt was “overgrown” so I drew her with an overgrown room full of plants. I love drawing my day dreams.

space-kitties

This was of the space kitties that I’m trying to make a *thing*. I should probably give it up.

ornament

This one I actually hated so much I archived it minutes after posting it. It looks better big but in my instagram feed it looks messy and stupid. I was trying to draw someone trapped inside an ornament (the prompt was ornament) but I could not be bothered to slow down to draw some depth. FAIL. I got the smushed nose right though, so there’s that! Heh.

kramer-the-ghost

This one I like even though it lacks shading and depth. Ghost was the prompt so I drew our “Garage Ghost” acting like Kramer from Seinfeld. The back story is that we always make jokes about the garage ghost because our garage door always swings open for no reason at all as if a friendly ghost were just swinging by for a quick chat.

I draw about the dogs a lot. They are my new kids now that I have teenagers who don’t like to be documented. Now I understand why there are so many crazy pet people in the world. I have drunk the kool-aid.

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Right after I drew that one this happened:

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Cody ate our chuck-it thing. We left to go to a concert in LA and we let them stay outside all night (it was totally mild weather and they were just fine) and apparently Cody got bored so he somehow got the chuck-it thing off the counter we have in the backyard and chewed it all the way down to the handle. I know he’s fine because he’s been acting completely normal and there were little tiny bits of orange plastic in his poop for two days afterwards.  Dogs, man.

Here’s a photo of the giant ball:

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Spreckles is so cute. My parents are coming home November 1st to get her. Even though I loved having her I’m kind of excited to see how she acts when she sees them again. I think she misses them a little bit. She’s a little tired of Cody and Whiskey.

I-can-survive-concert

About that concert, last weekend we went to a concert in LA and Payam surprised us by getting a hotel that night on Sunset Blvd instead of driving home like we usually would. It was super awesome for me because I love adventure and staying in a new place. Payam on the other hand regretted it and wished he was home in his own bed.

LA-Sunday-Morning

The next morning I dragged everyone to a Harry Potter-themed coffee shop. I was so into it. The kids were not. Are they ever into anything anymore? It seems like we have officially entered the stage of bershon. In a way it’s a good thing we took them because if Payam and I had gone alone I would have been moaning and complaining that this was perfect for the kids and I would be so sad that we didn’t take them. This way we did take them and guess what? They were meh! Ungrateful hooligans. But secretly I think they did like it. They just can’t let on that I have a good idea now and then because I am so dreadfully un-cool.

ancient

So that prompted this drawing for the word “ancient.” Is it the kids photographing skills or am I just getting old? I joke of course. I don’t care really. In spite of my drawings I have actually been in a really good mood for a long time and ancient filters on photos aren’t getting me down. I take tons of pictures of myself that I actually like. I think the secret is really smiling and having a genuine good time. It doesn’t matter if I’m fatter or wrinklier or this shape or that shape. I think it’s fun bubbling up from inside that makes a good picture. So that’s my goal. More fun. Let’s keep this good day thing rolling! Maybe I’ll have to make November and December a combined Inkember.

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.