Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Toodle-Oo, 2013

With a birthday lingering in the middle of June, I don't believe the first day of the new calendar year to be my New Year. January 1st, to me, is to be celebrated as the Earth's new year--everything at once. It's the common anniversary of all the creatures, the plants, the ground and the lava beneath it, the sky--everything, and anyone who wants to can join the party thrown for everything that happened to the whole wide world in the past twelve months, and for everything we're looking forward to next year.



This New Year's Eve, Silkworm and I have put together a plethora of festivities with an appropriate amount of hoopla. I doubt we'll make it to midnight, since we typically nod off early, but nonetheless, our plans stretch that far. Seeing as we're celebrating the entire Earth, we'll be watching any nature documentaries we can find on TV. We're also going to sit down and recall things that happened during 2013, though Silkworm's only been with me since April. If we can get anyone else to play, there may be card tournaments and board games in order. All the while, we'll be munching on finger foods like my family traditionally does, and here's hoping they'll be what keeps us awake late enough to witness the year change!

Aside from tonight's jubilee, I also decided a personal fresh start was in order and made a Self Recipe Jar in preparation to be a new and improved me for 2014. The approaching New Year was making me think about how much time I've wasted holding myself back from adventure, and I decided it was time to do something about it. I've been wanting to do something about it for a while, and I can't exactly explain what was holding me back, but having a date traditionally known for resolutions of change was just what I needed. On January 1, 2014, I am going to wake up and use every spec of galaxy inside me to strive to be the person I want to be. I'm mostly anticipating endless wars fought between bravery and fear, but I'm ready to fight on bravery's side.

On that note, happy last day of the year! If you choose to make a resolution of sorts, have a positive mindset about it. Embrace it, and hold onto it as tight as you can, rather than assuming it won't work out, because then you'll certainly drop it. And it's okay to look backward, but don't forget to look forward.

So long, 2013; there's a marvelous year around the corner!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

This Christmas































Merry Christmas! Surprisingly, Silkworm's magic didn't interfere once with our celebrations. I suppose we didn't need it anyhow. Our Christmas was already magical. Santa Claus came for Quibble and Hadley (the only time those rats refused to eat paper and I had to help them unwrap their gifts), we gave the dogs their giant caterpillar toys, the cats got homemade mouse ear toys filled with catnip, we took a walk at a park in the freezing cold in the late afternoon, and finally there was a breathtaking sunset on the way home to top it all off. I even got to play Stratego with my brother which is really weird because he never plays with me, but hey, like I said, our Christmas was magical.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sequin Disco Ball

A little bit ago, Silkworm and I took a trip to the craft store to pick up some very important supplies for a very important project.




It's a homemade disco ball--and it really works! I'd seen DIY disco ball tutorials on Pinterest using cut-up CDs or shards of mirror glass, but I wanted something colorful, cheap, and easy to make. That's when I remembered a blue sequin shirt I used to have (come to think of it, where did it ever go?) and how one day, sitting down on the school bus to go home, I was suddenly mortified by the sparkles reflecting off of my shirt from the sequins speckling the whole front of the bus blue. So I bought some sequins!

Ingredients
Small Styrofoam ball
A lot of sequins
A lot of pin heads (or glue)
Seed beads (optional)



Step One: Stick your sequins onto your Styrofoam ball one at a time by poking a pin through each center hole, or simply gluing them. If you do choose to glue them, try not to get any glue whatsoever on the sides of the sequins that will be showing, because they may not sparkle and shin right when the glue dries. The pins, on the other hand, are meant to be used with a single seed bead each, but if you put them in diagonally, they should stick without beads (though you may use beads if you'd prefer). Overlap the sequins enough so you can't see any of the Styrofoam underneath.

Step Two: Wait, you're already done.

Da-da-da-daaaa! That's one snazzy lamp thingamajig you've got there! We've found it works best with a giant flashlight, and when the light hits it, BAM--your wall (or your face) is covered in rainbow confetti sequin reflections.



Tips
- Shaped sequins (stars, hearts, squares) should reflect light just the same as classic circle sequins, and if they don't have holes to put your pins through, just stick the pin through anywhere; it should be strong enough to poke through.
- The Styrofoam will shed pieces of itself all over, so do this in a place that can be swept or vacuumed.
- The packaging of our sequins and pin heads may have lied to us. I'm not sure, because I lost the packaging of the sequins so I can't double check, but I remember the package of sequins saying it was a pack of 450, and the pins said 300. As it turns out, we needed to buy two more packages of pins to complete the disco ball, and we only used 2/3 of the pack of sequins. I guess what I'm saying is just beware and prepare (that's a rhyme) for the crafty (and that's a pun) lies your supplies (and that's another rhyme) will tell.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 17th's Full Moon

I've yet to get a chance to disclose the bizarre affect full moons have on Silkworm--that is, until today. I suppose, given he's enchanted, the full moon toys with his magic and throws it out of whack somehow. Ever since I met him, every full moon has left me with a ludicrous tale to tell him the following morning--because he never remembers them.

And there was nothing different about the full moon two nights ago. As always, Silkworm started drifting into a loopy state of mind once the sun had fully disappeared. During his deteriorating mental consciousness, he typically doesn't act like himself and will respond to me with nonsensical phrases, seeming preoccupied with his thoughts. On the night of the 17th, he told me he wanted me to buy him an upside-down unicorn and a snow cone and proceeded to roll around on the floor telling me he would do so until such gifts were presented to him.



Once he's been loopy for a while, then comes the event of the night. It's always something haphazard and hard to control, like that one time he almost flooded my bedroom, or the time he insisted on running away. This time, it was an origami dragon army. The moon drove him to compulsively make dozens of origami dragons, thus enchanting them with his involuntary powers, and soon enough his seemingly harmless collection became the method he claimed he would use to take over the world. Mind you, these dragons actually breathed tiny streams of fire, so one by one as he made them, I had to take a pair of scissors and cut them each in half, slaying the paper creatures instantly and disenchanting them. My technique didn't seem to slow Silkworm down at all, and I ended up staying up, as usual, trying to keep his chaos under control until he passed out at about 2:00 AM. Sometimes it's earlier, sometimes it's later. I was grateful it was earlier, this time.

The next morning, when he awoke, he sat in my lap eager to hear last night's witnessed legend. These full moon stories have become somewhat of a tradition for us, and it's no wonder Silkworm loves hearing them. Could you imagine waking up to hear you starred in a wild fairytale and you didn't remember an ounce of it?

Considering the possible dangers that could come with these full moon phenomena, we've both contemplated locking him up somewhere during full moons to prevent certain situations, but Silkworm is the world's most unpredictable stuffed toy as well as the most potentially perilous. We'd rather not find out what happens when he's trapped in a confined space during his most riotous time of the lunar cycle.


Read about how full moons affect Silkworm here, and read more full moon stories here!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Blanket Fort a Month: December

I'm so silly. I proclaim my love for blanket forts on a regular basis and yet I can't even recall the last time I made one! As such a proud advocate, I should be making at least one blanket fort a month! So, I think I will.



Silkworm and I are starting a tradition between the two of us to build a blanket fort a month. It doesn't matter on what day or in what room or anything of the sort; all that matters is that at least one gets built every month. What's more, this post shall mark the beginning of the tradition's series on Zauberbear. Every month, we're going to share pictures of our blanket forts in all their glory. We'll even show what goes on on the inside, like card game tournaments and hot-chocolate-movie-marathons. The forts will probably leak into some other posts, as well, especially those we build in the bedroom and keep up for a while. I'm quite excited to watch the collection of memories pile up!



In this blanket fort, the first of many, a pixie bag was crocheted with some very pretty yarn from Knit Picks! Well, it was meant to be a pixie bag, but it ended up looking so much like a turnip, so now we more appropriately call it the Turnip Pouch. Sometime soon, we will add a proper drawstring and it will be the bag I will carry Silkworm around in.



(You'd think, as we assumed ourselves, since Silkworm's involuntary powers enchant everything he makes, our blanket forts would be included in the clause--but surprisingly, 'tis not the case. We haven't figured out why, but it's almost like his magic can't touch them. Perhaps they're inherently ordinarily magical, and maybe that's just the type of thing Silkworm's magic lets alone.)



If you'd like to join in the tradition with us, please do, and send us photos of your blanket forts! When we make our blanket forts and share them, we'll share your pictures as well!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bruce the Dapper Spruce



We've officially trimmed our mini Christmas tree, also known as "Bruce" (the Spruce)! Bruce is standing handsomely in my bedroom adorned with all sorts of garlands and ornaments, mostly stuffed animals and Buttfreckles--and of course, rainbow string lights. He makes for some very fun photo shoots, in all his colorful bokeh-able glory. Of course, we'll have to put him outside the bedroom door whenever we let Hadley and Quibble play in the room so they don't destroy him, although I know destroying a Christmas tree would be at the very top of the ratties' wishlist, if they could write.

I'd love to tell you about my favorite ornament, but choosing would be impossible! Bruce has become a treasure box of all of my most cherished knickknacks! There's a felted Santa bear which was the first thing I ever felted at a needle felting class; a gluten-free salt dough ornament with impressions of Hadley and Quibble's pawprints circa this year, their first Christmas; a Christmas caroling cow that meows "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" (not kidding). Every time I look at Bruce, my heart does cartwheels and somersaults! He's sure added at least three metric tons of Christmas spirit to the season.





Friday, December 13, 2013

Fabric Envelopes

In a world of just-add-water meals and text messages delivered from phone to phone in seconds, there's something unexpectedly delightful about things that take a tad longer than instantly. For that fact, snail mail has become famously endeared, and has even consequently morphed into an art. Perhaps it seems out-of-date, but when you choose writing handwritten letters over texts and emails, it makes the gesture exponentially more personal and meaningful.

Silkworm and I have put together the tutorial below for fabric envelopes that we plan to use for our snail mail this Christmas. We wanted to add a touch of character and extra-specialness. Of course, you can also use the envelopes for other things like in-person gift-giving or decorative storage for things like sewing or craft supplies. They're quite easy for careless amateur sewers like ourselves to make, and I presume anyone with a sewing machine who knows how to use it could make one in a jiffy!



Ingredients
Thinner fabric
Thicker/stronger fabric
Needle and thread
Sewing machine
Pins
A button, embroidery needle and thread (or snap buttons, or Velcro)
Envelope template


Step One: Use the template provided to trace one envelope outline on both fabrics, then cut them out 1/4 of an inch away from the lines you traced.

Step Two: Line the cut-outs up together so that you see the wrong sides on the outside and the right sides are touching. Sew with your sewing machine along the edges about 1/4 of an inch away, and leave a gap unsewn to turn the envelope inside-out. Turn it inside-out once you're finished sewing, and then hand-sew the gap closed.

Step Three: Fold your fabric envelope up the way a paper envelope is folded. Carefully stick a pin or two through every layer but the back to hold it together, and then hand-sew along the dotted lines in the sketched tutorial above.

Step Four: Hand-sew any other borders you'd like on your envelope.

Step Five: Add your button and string or your snap buttons or your Velcro to close your envelope. The snap buttons should have instructions on the back of the package, as should the Velcro (if it's the sticky kind, you should also sew it in place for security). As for the button and string, you'll sew the button on the envelope an inch down from where the flap touches down; then you'll string your embroidery thread on your needle and poke it up through the back of the flap and then back down 1/8 of an inch over from where you poked through. You don't need to tie any knots. Use the string to close the envelope by wrapping it around the button.

That's it! If you do plan to use your fabric envelopes for snail mail, slip them (once they're all filled up) into paper envelopes so you can put stamps on and what not. Have fun in your fabric envelope endeavors!

Tips
- Embroider the to and from addresses on your envelopes.
- Sew on handmade fabric stamps (pieces of fabric, possibly embroidered).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Poke-Out Christmas Advent Calendar



Ingredients
13 toilet paper tubes or 5 paper towel tubes (to make 25 tubes)
2-3 sheets of cardstock paper
Paper to write on
Something to write with
A piece of cardboard
Tissue paper
Scissors
Glue


Step One: Cut all of your toilet paper tubes in half. If you're using paper towel tubes, cut them in fifths.

Step Two: Cut out circles from your cardstock a bit bigger than the openings of your tubes.

Step Three: Glue each cardstock circle to a tube. Let them dry while you complete the next step.

Step Four: Cut out strips of paper. Write Christmassy things to do on them. See the list below!

Step Five: Toss each strip of paper into a tube.

Step Six: Cut pieces of tissue paper and glue them to the open ends of your tubes. Let them dry and then cut off the excess.

Step Seven: Glue each tube, cardstock side down, to your piece of cardboard. They can be arranged in an organized or random fashion.

Ho-ho-ho, Santa's on his way, and every day during the countdown, you get to poke out a tube and complete your self-given mission inside! I know it's a little late for an advent calendar, but Silkworm and I planned to make this and we weren't going to let it slide. We're using it for a 12-day countdown, poking out two tubes a day starting on the 13th, so we'll be doing two Christmassy fun things a day. I can't wait to start poking!

Ideas for things to do:
- Decorate the tree.
- Hang lights in your bedroom.
- Make a handmade stocking.
- Make goodies for the birds and squirrels.
- Hang popcorn garland on the trees.
- Build a blanket fort and watch Christmas movies.
- Have an ornament-making day.
- Have a garland-making day.
- Make a Christmas playlist and listen all day long.
- Have a video game tournament (alone or with someone else).
- Take pictures of unfocused lights, AKA "bokeh" (even better, if you've got a DSLR and a wide aperture lens, try shaped bokeh).
- Make a log cabin "gingerbread house".
- Watch the live ReindeerCam and catch Santa feeding his reindeer.
- Fill a room with hanging paper snowflakes.
- Wake up early to bake cookies for breakfast.
- Send unexpected snail mail.
- Have a gift-wrapping day.
- Make cinnamon ornaments.
- Learn how to knit.
- Have a send-everybody-their-cards-and-gifts day.
- Have a Santa's Workshop day and make handmade gifts for people.
- Eat Christmas-themed meals and snacks for a whole day.
- Dress up your pet and have a photo shoot.
- Make your own potato-stamped wrapping paper.
- Dedicate a day to doing dozens of random acts of kindness.
- Start brainstorming the New Year's resolutions.
- Make a backyard ice-skating rink (if it gets cold enough).

Our Guest Post at Peach Tea



Silkworm and I did a guest post for Lauren over at Peach Tea on how to play checkers using stuffed animals in place of game pieces. Check it out!

Monday, December 9, 2013

An Ode to Hadley and Quibble

Kisses, kisses everywhere--
That's what rats are for,
But that aside, I wouldn't say
My boys are rats for sure,

'Cause Hadley makes this churring noise
That no rat's ever made,
And Quibble's eaten glass before
And didn't need first aid!



Otherwise, they're plain buffoons,
Pronking to and fro,
Stopping here and there to fight
And on again they go!

They kamikaze off my bed
And land across the room!
They love it when I sweep the floor;
They chase after the broom.



They let me flip them upside down
And snuggle in their tummies.
They're so polite at dinnertime,
I hand-feed them their yummies!

They love to fish for peas and corn
And chatter in my ears
They hide inside my sleeves sometimes
When facing their worst fears



They jump up on my legs and then
They climb up to my shoulders
'Cause high is where they like to be
To be the world's beholders

I couldn't ask for better rats;
They're too darn cute, I'm swooning!
I am blessed and full of pride
To call myself their human.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Iron Powder Candle Fireworks









My mom learned this trick from her brother when they were little. She still had the same bottle of iron powder her brother gave her way back then and we used a little bit of it over a candle last night for a lovely miniature fireworks show.

Homemade "Hedbanz"



"Hedbanz" is a guessing game that you can buy in stores, but it's kind of silly because you don't really need to buy it. All you need is something to write with, something small to write on, something to stick that small thing to your head, and your imagination!

To start, you need at least two players. DO NOT LOOK AT EACH OTHER while each of you take a piece of paper and write down a thing. Traditionally, the game uses nouns like animals or objects, but you've got all the freedom in the world, here! You could write down adjectives, verbs, scientific concepts, feelings...

Next, you should migrate to a room with minimum reflective surfaces, like mirrors, windows, or glass of any sort, so you won't be able to see what the paper on your own forehead says when you get it. There, you'll exchange papers--and no matter how tempted or obligated you feel, fight your instincts and DO NOT LOOK AT THE PAPER YOU RECEIVE! Instead, immediately stick them onto your heads using tape or headbands, or anything else for that matter, though I highly discourage super glue.

Now, the goal is to find out what the paper on your head says. To do this, both of you will ask questions back and forth, answering each other's and probably rolling around laughing. You are what the word on the paper on your head is, so you always ask your questions by saying "I", not "it". For example, you could ask "am I an animal?" or "am I alive?" There is no limit to the questions you can ask, but to make it fair, you should take turns.

Once you gather enough information about the paper on your head, you'll start to get some ideas about what it might be, and you are free to ask if you are correct by asking "am I [your guess here]?" If you're wrong, there are no points to be lost because the only goal is to find out what you are! If you're right, then you win! All the awards, much success; well done!

What makes Homemade "Hedbanz" even cooler is that you can play almost anywhere--and you'll look completely ridiculous while you do! Personally, my favorite kind of fun is the kind I get stared at for having.

Tell us in the comments how you played!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Home for the Doro Worms

Twelve days have passed since we met the doro worms, and Silkworm and I have been working on making a proper home for them ever since. At first, we intended to build a structure out by the woods. All the blueprints had been drawn up and the materials were at hand. We planned to get to work early tomorrow, but after Silkworm's powers serendipitously enchanted a tiny wind chime birdhouse we decorated together this morning, making it much bigger on the inside than it was on the outside, we decided that would make a perfect sanctuary--and furthermore, we could even keep it hanging in the bedroom.



When we brought it out to the woods this afternoon to invite the doro worms in, they were initially puzzled (because of the size, of course), but once we persuaded them to wiggle inside, they could not have been more ecstatic. After yesterday's rather unpleasant storm, they were deeply grateful to have shelter. We were showered with thanks and compliments, and the king even gave us another spool of gold thread to show his appreciation. We'll have to find a use for it soon!

Finally, they settled in, and Silkworm and I took them back inside and hung the house up in the corner of the bedroom. They haven't stopped poking their heads out (and jingling the chimes every time) to thank us over and over, as if they keep discovering more features inside that a hundred thanks do not already cover. One even communicated a thank you for a spinning room, which we did not know existed until we were informed.

Silkworm and I can't stop smiling. It's been quite an appropriate Thanksgiving, thus far.
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