Thursday, August 13, 2009

Posts and Seeds

Or lack thereof. I have been sick for a few months, no, a few years, but it got worse a few months ago. I am having surgery next friday that I have to pay for myself because I do not have insurance. Right now I am happy to know that I will be better soon. I will have to do this surgery every few years, but that is okay. Things could be worse. I lost a lot of weight and due to this disease I have put some back on. I hope that this surgery is the answer and I can get back to normal and eat well and exercise regularly. At least the surgery will take away the pain I am in.

I have done some crafts, but not too many. I have only started a necklace and not finished it. I did make some earrings. I have painted two small pictures and started two large paintings -one has three canvases.

I also started gardening again in spite of the pain. I love gardening. It is very meditative for me. I feel at peace when I am gardening or working in the yard or with dirt. I finally realized why some houseplants have not made it. I am not filling the pots with enough dirt. The plants aren't getting enough air to the main stem and they are dying. This is the reason of my post today. How to work with potted plants and grow from seeds.

I have a compost bin in my backyard and I flipped things around the other day and took some of the dirt to the garden I started in the front yard. The area I have plants in doesn't get watered regularly. Rain doesn't make it to this spot unless it is blowing from the west or south. So that dirt did have grass thanks to the seeds I planted earlier in the year, but when I dug the grass up and moved it to other locations in the yard, what was underneath was nutrient-less rock-solid dirt.

While I was getting dirt from the bin to the front yard, I made the decision that the the stuff that comes from my compost bin will not go inside. There was an ant farm in there, there are hundreds of rolly pollies, there are some bugs that look like flatter and narrower rolly pollies with a pointy tail, there were termites and maggots... That stuff is fine for outside and will be beneficial for the ground that gets nothing, but it will not go in my house.

So I had to buy some potting soil. I hate to spend money on dirt that is readily available, but for my love of gardening, I will have to.

I also bought a seed starting tray. I am going to try my best to grow plants from seed so next year I can have a beautiful garden that was super cheap. I planted a lot of things in the tray and the hollyhocks shot up, while the other seeds are barely sprouting or not sprouting at all. I knew when I was planting the seeds that I should have read their respective germinating times, but I didn't. Now I have to check it daily to make sure there is plenty of water because I have the plastic lid over half of the tray to help with moisture, but it isn't nearly as good as having the lid on the whole tray. As soon as the hollyhocks have some true leaves, I think the packet said four true leaves and not just two like most other plants, I will move them into larger pots so the other cells can continue with the dome lid on top of the tray.

I have tried many times to grow basil in my house and I never can. They make it a few weeks and die where the stem meets the dirt. I think this is because I am not putting enough dirt in the pot and air isn't getting to the stem. I have a lot of pots with plants that can apparently take a little of this type of abuse, but I will fix it today. One of the plants is not looking happy so my goal is to make him stand upright and get him some nutrients. He probably needs to be re-potted anyway.

Can I upload pictures after I have posted? I'm sure I can... I will show you what I mean about not filling a pot with enough dirt later today.

I am in pain, but knowing there is repair around the corner makes it easier to deal with. I am going to go get my day started and get this gardening underway! Happy Thursday!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Clay Heart Plate for Valentine's Day

A few tips before we begin: Fimo clay can stain so don't wear clothes you care about. You can either use gloves to keep from staining your finger nails or you can paint your nails before you get started (and let the polish dry first) so that when you take the polish off, the clay coloring will come off with it. It doesn't seem to stain skin, I wore gloves so I didn't leave my finger prints in the piece, but I didn't wear them the whole time. This can be done with any air dry or oven bake clay and if you have a kiln you can use kiln baking clay. Since I haven't used a kiln since high school and I don't know other clay-like materials well (ie model magic), I will be talking about fimo clay. Well, I used Sculpey which is one of fimo's clays and the other one is Premo. I have all three, but I liked the colors Sculpey came in best for this project. I recommend you use some wax paper to work with the clay since it will stain the surface you are working on. Lastly, you will want to wash your hands after working with each color (in the beginning) so you don't create the ribbon effect, unless you want it. It is a beautiful look, but I didn't want it in this piece.

To begin, slice off some clay. In the end I used half of each color. Whatever you take out can be put back in as long as you don't let the colors rest next to each other. There is no waste with this clay! (unless it falls on the floor or a kitten comes wandering in to see what's going on and walks across some of the clay, that stuff may need to be thrown out.) After you have the clay set out, work each color so it is malleable and then slice into small pieces and make them different sizes. Roll the slices into a ball and move on to the next color after washing your hands.

In the second picture I have a few balls of color together because I am starting with those. I like it to be random, but if you want to work in rows you most certainly can. So, put some colors together and start pressing until you have the shape you want or something big enough to work with as in my case.

Next, you can see that I have something close to a heart and each piece of clay looks like a pebble. In the picture after it, you see a small rolling pin with wax paper around it so I don't damage the wood of the rolling pin or the piece. I use the rolling pin to spread and smooth the entire piece and then we go to the next step.

I have a mix of heart shaped cookie cutters and I used the largest to form my heart with edges...

After I mold the clay around the shape I need to remove the cookie cutter and smooth out the edges inside. You can use water to help the clay form a smooth surface. The wooden tool is perfect for smoothing clay in tight spaces. Set your oven to the right temperature and bake for as long as it needs to. I baked mine for 20 minutes at 275 F. After it is out of the oven and it is cool you can glaze it. I use Sculpey glaze you can get at any craft store. I don't glaze the bottom and I put a lot of glaze inside so it can fill in anything that isn't touching. It's kind of hard to find a spot that isn't smushed together, but apparently they are there. The instructions for baking are on the package. Not all colors bake at the same temps so either bake 5 minutes longer or stay with the same temperature requirements. The colors I used required 15 minutes per quarter inch at 275 degrees fahrenheit.

Here is the finished piece. I show the finished piece with my keys so you can see it's size.

Don't want to make this, but you still want it? It's for sale in my Etsy shop!

Next: I will be working with my nephews to make valentine's cards for mom and Grandma. (and anyone else they want to make a card for) I hope I can get them all engaged in it, but one or two will do. :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today it's my birthday! ♫na nana naNana♪

We are having people over tonight and I do not feel like cleaning. Now I have to get dressed and get supplies. We should have a lot of fun tonight! I may not post anything tomorrow, but by early into next week I will have some fun stuff posted.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

So little time!

I'm sorry I have been so quiet. It is hard to craft when I have no money. I just made something fun and decorative to put a potted plant in and if it works out I will make another and post it.

For now, my birthday is Saturday so this week I have been cleaning and crocheting. Cleaning in preparation for my party Saturday and crocheting for Jeremy's sister's baby. I am making a hat that should look like a bunny with ears and a face and it is my own creation. I want to have it ready in a month for her baby shower and I know I have plenty of time, but I am critical of my work and it has to be perfect.

Time to put a glaze on my water plate.