Tuesday, December 29, 2015

how to make gifting actually happen

Gifting is, like, a big deal.  Everybody's doing it.  Some people might give modest gifts to everyone they know.  Others might present their close friends with lavish, expensive surprises.  From having observed the gifting culture at my school, I know that it is sometimes frowned upon to not participate in all this gifting.  I've been caught empty handed after receiving colorfully-wrapped packages, having nothing but an old lollipop to give in return.

First of all, I don't have the money to buy everyone I know what they've always wanted.  I don't think that's the point of the holiday season, anyway.  It is nice to have a little something prepared, though.  Even though I hopped on the gifting bandwagon a little late this year, I still came up with some prototypes for next year - along with a more realistic concept of how much time it takes to become a prepared, gift-ready ninja.

Two months in advance
Step 1: acknowledge that you want to give gifts.

Step 2: make a list of everyone you want to give gifts to.

Step 3: separate that list into 2 categories - people you are going to give something cute and casual to (your friends and relatives), and people you are going to spend extra time on (your mom)

Step 4: brainstorrrm!!! Are you going to make your gifts by hand (very fun, very time-consuming) or are you going to buy them?

Potential store-bought gifts for everyone:
- mini deodorant
- mini soap
- tinsel
- candles 
- chocolate
- glitter
- stickers
- stationery
- cute beanie baby

Potential homemade gifts for everyone(ish):

Tutorial here.

Estimated time per bracelet: 1-2 hrs
Reserve 1-2 days for every bracelet you intend to make.

Inspired by this guy, Ryan Conners.

Materials I used:
- brown polymer clay
- acrylic paint (many colors)
- clear glaze
- cardstock paper
- scissors
- small knife
- rolling pin

Design your ornament shape on cardstock paper.  Cut out to make a template.  After kneading (and mixing, if necessary) your polymer clay, roll out a thin layer with a rolling pin.  Lay the template down on the clay and cut around the edges with a butter knife (or smaller tool, if you have one).  Bake the clay.  When cooled, paint on details.  When dry, paint on glaze.  Let dry overnight.

Estimated time per ornament: 20 min
Set aside 2-3 days for mass-producing ornaments

I used the America's Test Kitchen recipe, which was fairly pleasing.  Here is this mom's take on the recipe.

Estimated time per batch: 2 hrs
Set aside 2-3 days for mass-producing cookie plates (keep in mind: these do not keep for a long time in the fridge)

Now go and enjoy the REST OF THE YEAR!  This article may not be useful to you now now, but it will be useful to you sooner than you think! (hint hint)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

community moment: 8th grade portfolio day

My art class is trying to become a magnet program.  It's already a fairly established class; we dwell eerily in the basement, hunched over elaborate still life drawings and moody self portraits.  Our two teachers fancy themselves philosophers, and have been reviewing portfolios for several decades now. In an attempt to streamline the process, they decided this year to host every 8th grade applicant at once.  We students came to help.
I can't say highschoolers are the most welcoming option when it comes to helping middleschoolers feel better.  We were careful, however, to smile and ask applicants for their names as we hung their work to the wall.  My particular roll was to assist in the photographing of each kids' work.  

The artwork we received was varied.  There were tentative attempts at still life, large collections of cartoon characters, and some impressive paintings.  Some kids were nervous, others seemed less nervous.

When the kids weren't having their work photographed or being interviewed, they were on the other side of the classroom drawing a big still life.  It was quite an event.  The only thing that kept it from dissolving into complete chaos was the "five hours of relaxing jungle music" somebody found on Youtube.  As the kids drew, they were soothed into silence by the rain forest sounds.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

holiday gift guide: cootie catchers

Wow!  It's winter!  How did that happen?  

A brief update on me: In addition to being a person in high school, I am in fact a senior in high school.  I have been learning how the college application process works (very "survival" worthy), along with learning to drive.  Woop!  Normal things!  I figured my crafty drive had ceased two summers ago, but many crafty schemes have since accumulated in the depths of my brain.  Why not keep sharing them?

Why now?  To be honest, I received a lovely comment encouraging me to continue!  Thanks, Ashley!
These cootie catchers are great to print out and share with yo friends.  I selected only the juiciest of dares, most intriguing of fortunes, and most puzzling of would-you-rathers.  What's the best thing about these cootie catchers?

You can color them in!  Isn't that fun?  
In case you forgot how to fold a cootie catcher, here's how:

They're perfect stocking stuffers, in my opinion.  Have your whole family asking each other which they would rather: being hairy all over or being completely bald?  You can stuff one away in your back pocket during holiday gatherings, then whip it out during awkward conversation.  The possibilities are endless.

Have fun! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

~*in the moment*~ bookmarks

I felt like reading, probably because there was harder work to be done.  It was beautiful, mid-afternoon.  How could I be expected to do my chores in such conditions?  I would read.  

Franny and Zooey conveniently rested on the family bookshelf.  I had never read it before, which was even more convenient.  My hand gripped its glossy surface as I proceeded to the couch.  That's when I was walloped with a mind-twisting obstacle: what would I use as a bookmark?  Glancing once more at the book, I took in its sparse, vintage cover.  It was a pretty book.  I wanted a pretty bookmark - one that gave me the same cozy feeling the book did.  

And so, in five minutes, I had one ready.

You, too, can compose a bookmark of equal sentiment and easiness.  Here is what you will need:

Use scissors (not featured above) to cut your card stock in the shape of a bookmark.  Mine is exactly 5 .5 inches by 2.1 inches, but do whatever fits your needs.  For instance, consider the size of your book.  Larger books require larger bookmarks, while tiny books suit bookmarks the size of a baby's thumb.  

Apply smaller clippings to your bookmark with glue or tape.  These clippings should further reflect the mood you are in, your beliefs, or the theme of the book you will read.  

You can use stickers, old birthday cards from an age you no longer associate with, magazine cutouts, and especially old wrapping paper.  These will act as the vessels of your inspiration, creativity, and motivation.  Cherish them.  

No go and enjoy reading!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

community moment: drivers ed course

My summer has been mostly productive in participating in the complex system required to get a driver's license.  It's like a ladder with extra slides, rock walls, and bungee cords attached.  It's not all that complicated until you factor in the specific qualifications of your person... and then it gets fancy. Fortunately, I'm about as normal as you get - I'm precisely the age one must be to obtain a license, and have committed no crimes.  So you can say my summer has been boring.  The two weeks of drivers ed was a sweet spot, though.  I enjoyed it.

On the first day, my two best-friend-neighbors (there's a catch - they don't go to my school) and I approached a town home labeled "10."  This was to be our settlement for the next three hours.

We climbed up a steep flight of stairs just beyond the front door, which was an easily claustrophobic experience.  At the top, we reached the classroom of GREG'S DRIVING SCHOOL.  The word GLENN was written on the whiteboard ahead of us.

This is GLENN.  He sported grey gym shorts and a white t-shirt tucked in, smelled faintly of cigarette smoke, and wore a friendly, weary expression.  He would be our teacher.  

Before this dawned on us all, we thought we were actually in GLENN'S DRIVING SCHOOL and needed to evacuate immediately.  

No, we were in the right spot, settled within a sea of plastic tables and chairs.  Real traffic signs were nailed to the walls, saying things like "SPEED LIMIT 50."  Other than a small Shrek figurine, these were the only decorations.  

Glenn went on to pass out folders to every local teenager in the room, most of whom were mellow and politely engaged throughout the rest of the course.  Glenn would lecture us for an hour and a half at a time, rattling on about everything automobile-related.  He was an organized speaker, and did a good job at being detached and engaged at the same time.  

We would take a quiz on the lesson each day, which meant note-taking was crucial.  The fifteen-minute break was our salvation.  It would be a stiff, air-conditioned hour and a half.  Sitting next to my two friends, I felt the need to be just a little goofy.  This pressure didn't mesh well with the need to pay attention.

So, the break.  A sunlit walk to 7-11.  To describe it fittingly, I'd say it felt like melted butter running down my back.  

These are my two best-friend-neighbors.  Our two table mates are in the picture way above.  I think I wrote "THANKS, GUYS" to... thank them for being there?  It was somewhat impulsive.  Weird.  I came to really like Jenny and Alec, though, so it all worked out.  Eventually, we all would walk to 7-11 as a parade of five.  There was no awkward tension - just people being nice to other people.  It was an idyllic community moment.  

Highlights -- 

Trying Doritos Loaded, the newest product at 7-11!  Triangles of cheesy breading and melted cheese!  Ewww!  The first batch was additctively enjoyable.  The second was too much to handle.  We quit buying them after that.

Doodling in our notebooks was also a huge deal.  

Aaaaaand... we all passed our final test!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

surviving your super awesome learner's permit

A text conversation with Anna and I:

A: Hello man yes We have our permits!
     'Tis much awesome very yay

Me: I know yaaaayyy!

A: I can see my face on a card
     It feels like a license but it's not

Me: We should write haikus.

       My face is on it
       it feels like a real lisence
       i know it is not

A: Aww it's so sad
     This is my haiku

     I got an LP
     And it's da bomb diggity
    What else does it do?

Me: I like to think that
       when I'm alone with my LP
       it can hear my thoughts

       LP is one syllable.

A: Correction:

     Zoe knows nothing
     LP is 2 syllables
     Anna wins again

Me: LP is like "ulp"
       the COOLEST way to say it
       think twice when with LP

A: "Ulp is spelled like that^
     LP is a different thing
     Zoe is a lie

Me: Back to the subject
       Next time I use my LP
       i ulp in yo face

A: My card is sturdy
     It can slap one in the face
     Next it might be you

Me: But I'm too sneaky
        i make you an LP cake
        and you take a bite

A: Anna senses this
     I shall eat no cake of yours
     You should give up now

Then it kind of teetered off, far from the topic of interest at this point.
Who's wondering what it's like to get a learner's permit?  Anyone?

It began with a few solid days of reading the driver's manual, which was lengthy and pretty self-explanatory.  We then arrived at the Motor Vehicle Place to take a test (required to get a permit) and hand over all of our precious and personal information.  The Motor Vehicle Place was far from glamorous.  A wide expanse of metal benches stretched across linoleum flooring.  Fluorescent lights above.  Prints of old automobiles were framed on the walls, to remind everyone why they were there.

We all, being teens and adults alike, were assigned a number.  Appointment-making isn't the Motor Vehicle Place's style, so we all sat with our little paper number and waited to be called.  Pleasant music accompanied several computer screens around the room, which attempted to amuse us with random facts about celebrities.  Numbers were called frequently, but there were so many.  I waited an hour and a half before mine was called.

Now sitting in a cubicle, my eyes were checked and my photo was taken.  The cubicle lady sent me to a line in the back of the room which had been there all along, composed of people who's numbers had already been called.  They waited to take the test, and so did I.

Bored yet?  Not yet!

My test was on a computer touch screen, operating at poky speed.  I found myself vigorously tapping each button with my finger, to the point of looking crazy.  My photo was placed on the side of the screen, along with a timer that counted down.  I had exactly fifteen minutes to take the test and would be aware of it, gosh darnit.  These may have been what made me bolt through each (fairly easy) question and barely pass.  But I PASSED!

It's nothing anyone can't do.