Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hollowed Acorn Message Necklace

Top secret tidings could use a disguise. I suppose there are many ways you could go about it, but nutshells seem reliable and rather unobtrusive. Silkworm and I have already hidden keys in walnut shells, but for tiny messages, acorns seem much more appropriate.

Acorn (with top)
Precision scissors (the very very sharp kind!)
Leather gloves or other thick gloves (for protection)
Embroidery needle
Thin string (embroidery works best)

Step One: Carefully remove the top off of your acorn and set it aside. Be gentle so as not to damage it because we will be using it later!

IMPORTANT! For the following step, please use adult supervision!

Step Two: Put on your gloves, then take your acorn nut in one hand and your scissors in the other. With every ounce of caution you can muster, use your scissors to poke a hole in the top of your acorn and cut out the nut from the shell (and whatever else is inside--we found fluff in one!). The shell itself may be a bit soft depending on how freshly fallen it is, but it will dry out faster once the nut is removed. You may also want to cut the hole a bit bigger with your scissors, but be careful not to use too much pressure in the wrong spot or the nut will crack.

Step Three: Sand the top of your hollowed acorn down, intermittently making sure the acorn's top still fits.

Step Four: Cut a few inches longer than a necklace's length of string. Fold the string in half, take the loop at the end, and tie a knot bigger than the holes your needle makes in your acorn. Then thread the two strands of string onto your needle and poke a hole through the pointed bottom of your acorn inwards. If it is too thick to get it through the center, poke the hole just barely to the side where shell is thin enough.

Step Five: Now put your shell aside and take just your embroidery needle (no thread) and your acorn top. Use the needle to poke two holes through the top of your acorn, directly across from each other. The top tends to be a lot thicker and harder to work with than the shell, but just go slow and be gentle. Twist your embroidery needle to kind of drill the hole, if it helps. (Or use an actual drill. We didn't try that, so we don't know if it could make the acorn crack, but if you have a spare to test, there's nothing stopping you from experimenting!)

Step Six: Use your embroidery needle to thread one of each of the two strands coming out of your acorn shell through one of each of the two holes in your acorn top.

Step Seven: Finish the necklace by tying the two ends of the strings together, or making Chinese slipknots for an adjustable necklace.

You're done! The top should stay on nicely, weighed down by itself and held together with those two strings. To put something inside, you just have to slide the top up the necklace to temporarily remove it from the shell.

If it's not confidential, let us know what you use your necklace for!

Other ideas for use:
- To hold very tiny found treasures
- To hold glitter or confetti

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Glitter Galore Envelope

Silkworm and I are both usually turned off by flashiness and glitter, but when it's used in a kitschy sort of way, exceptions may be made. When we were at the craft store the other day, we saw these glitter envelopes for sale and thought, "Absolutely", because even if we're not so into sparkles and glitz, we know getting a glitter-coated envelope in the mail would be inherently grin-worthy.

An envelope
Mod podge (optional)
Plastic surface to work on

Step One: Lay your envelope down on a plastic surface. You shouldn't use newspaper or anything that can rip because just in case the envelope gets glued to the surface at all, you want to be able to peel it off.

Step Two: Paint the flat side of an envelope with glue. Make sure to spread it out evenly.

Step Three: Sprinkle on glitter evenly. Shake off the excess. It's okay if there are a few bare spots; you'll fill those in later. Wait for it to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step Four: Once the envelope has dried, fill in any bare spots by painting on glue and sprinkling a bit of glitter on. Shake off the excess, and wait for the envelope to dry again.

Step Five: When all the glue has dried, paint over all of the glitter with either glue or mod podge to keep the glitter on permanently. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before using the envelope.

Can you say shiny? Not as loud as this envelope can.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Adventurer's Guide to Clothes Shopping at Thrift Stores

I have been to the thrift store just short of 82 hundred times throughout this past month. Perhaps I have fallen in love with the men's section and perhaps I have under $200 all together on pretty much an entire month's worth of outfits, if you use a couple things twice. Anyhow, I wanted to give a behind the scenes look at the inside of my head when it's shopping for clothes. Being an adventurer, I want to find the most durable easy-to-care-for pieces that I won't be afraid to get dirty in, and I want to keep everything cheap so I can spend most of the money on the adventures themselves. If you're a frugal adventurer yourself, maybe you'll find these tips useful!

1. Keep an eye out for imperfections--but be imaginative.
Check for holes, stains, et cetera--but you don't necessarily have to put it back on the rack if you find something wrong! That hole in the sleeve is not such a big deal; the shirt's $3 anyway, and you can just patch it up and make it even better! Don't be intimidated. Sometimes I even search for clothes with holes and stains for an excuse to get crafty with them.

2. Peruse every section.
Don't let your gender, age, or size keep you out of a section of the store. Explore everything! Don't miss out on the comfort of men's clothes or the oversized shirts on the extra extra large rack. And I promise, it doesn't look weird! People naturally assume you're shopping for someone else--or they're doing the same thing, too!

3. Shop for the fabric, not just the clothes.
Keep an eye out for interesting patterns and textures. It is exponentially cheaper to buy used jeans than to buy denim fabric at the craft store, and that goes for regular fabrics, too. You can cut up the things you find and use them for patching, making accessories, or doing other projects. You could also buy t-shirts to cut up to make t-shirt yarn, and then a whole 'nother world opens up.

4. Remember footwear!
While you're probably not going to find the most enduring shoes at the thrift store, at under $10 a pair, maybe short-lasted shoes aren't totally cringe-worthy, especially if they're really rad and at a normal-priced shoe store, you would have whined over not being audacious enough to spend the money. Do check that the soles are still intact and everything looks pretty put together, because fixing shoes is not as easy as patching up holes in t-shirts.

5. Stay away from clothes that demand the dry cleaners.
Most times, these fancy fabrics can be tossed in the washing machine on gentle cycles with cold water, but I wouldn't even bother. I like clothes that are easy to take care of and can

6. Keep an eye on the price.
While thrift stores are known for cheap prices, sometimes a certain piece might be more expensive than expected, depending on if the store keeps track out of materials, brands, et cetera. Make sure to check the price tags on everything and only pay what you feel is acceptable.

7. Bring a few $20's and leave the rest at home.
Keep yourself from overspending by leaving your plastic money (credit/debit cards) at home and bringing a few $20 bills. It's easier and safer to pay with cash anyhow!

8. Dress for the dressing room.
If you're uncomfortable with getting too comfortable in a dressing room, have an undershirt and/or leggings on so you don't really have to get undressed. You can just put everything on over your tight-fitting clothes (except pants; it's too hard to try pants on over leggings because they add practically a centimeter to your dimensions!).

9. Have the right timing.
No one, especially not adventurers who've got places to be and things to do, wants to be stuck in line. Large thrift stores tend to be crowded after working hours in the evening, and even more so on the weekends. Try to go in the morning on a weekday, as early as possible (as soon as the store opens, if you can!). Otherwise, you'll be waiting in line for the dressing rooms forever, and then waiting to pay forever.

10. Be strange and be yourself.
Thrift stores are not one pop culture fashion conveniently thrown together for you with mannequins and posters for ideas. You have the freedom to mix things up and create your own style. Make it completely unique and don't let anyone stop you. Dress your body in removable art. Create yourself.

Essentially, the key is to be so creative that you want to bring the whole store home with you because you know what you could do with each and every piece. Go to the thrift store with the thought in your head that you are making art, and pick out everything necessary to assemble your masterpiece.

Miscellaneous Tips
- Just because the dressing rooms say something like "6 item limit" doesn't necessarily mean there's a 6 item limit. From my experience, if you ask, they'll let you go in with a cart full of stuff.
- Sometimes there's no mirrors in the dressing rooms; you have to walk out to look at yourself. Stand there as long as you'd like and twirl as much as you need to. There's nothing to feel embarrassed about and you're never going to see the strangers surrounding you ever again.
- Feel free to wash all those used clothes you bought in the same washing cycle and even in the dryer, because this isn't their first wash! They've probably been through several washes already, enough to wash out all the excess dye that might have once turned a load of clothes red and to shrink them to their final size.
- I know the perfumes some stores use can be strong and tough to get out, but I've had success hanging my clothes outside to dry. The breeze sucks the smells right out, after 12 hours or so. Also, if your washing machine is energy efficient, it might not use enough water to get the smells out of your thrifted clothes, so soak them in a bucket of water or in the bathtub first and then put them in the wash while they're sopping wet.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tagged: The Inspiration Blog Hop

So these two dandy daisies tagged Silkworm and I to participate in two different blog hop kind of things recently. RaChil from The Cwafty Blog tagged us for what was called the Tour Through Blogland, and then Mary from Uncustomary Art tagged us for what was called the Inspiration Blog Hop. As it so happens, both blog hops are essentially identical--I know, right? Something must have happened while everyone was playing Telephone! But nonetheless, we're squishing the two together, and to those I tagged at the end of this post, you are more than welcome to call this blog hop one or the other.

Alrighty, let's jump right in!

1) What are we working on?
Secrets! Too much stuff, really, but it's all top secret for the moment. However, I will say we're planning to grow the concept of "Enchantemissaries" into a community, if we can. Silkworm and I came up with the word Enchantemissary to describe ourselves and what we do when we go on our Missions of Magic, because they can't truly be classified as Random Acts of Kindness all the time. Enchantemissaries are more about filling the world with magic, and kindness is totally part of that, but we needed something else to call ourselves and anyone else who wanted to be a part of it. We plan to make kits to purchase at our new Etsy shop and set up a Tumblr blog for ideas for Missions of Magic that people will be more than welcome to submit their ideas to.

2) How does our work differ from others from its genre?
Silkworm and I are quite an interesting team: a human bean and a magical stuffed bear. I don't think most human beans own magical stuffed bears.

3) Why do we write/create what we do?
Our biggest goal is to teach people how to enjoy life. It makes us so sad to hear people saying they're bored and unhappy. We live on a planet that is supposedly the only one in the universe capable of sustaining life, with 6 billion other humans each completely different from one another, and an infinite amount of adventures to have in a finite amount of time. There's simply no time to be bored.

4) How does our writing/creating process work?
It has to start with inspiration. We try not to force ourselves to work without inspiration unless absolutely necessary, because it always bums us out and makes us feel bad about ourselves, as if we're not creative enough to come up with something interesting when really we're just not in the mood! Lucky for us, though, inspiration comes from the most commonplace things. Whenever we look closely--deeply--at something, inspiration never fails to spark. And then we work off of that!

To keep the blog hop going, we're tagging two bloggers: Erin at The Halfway Point and Michelle at Busy Weekends. Check 'em out and stay tuned at their blogs to see their responses to the blog hop!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Zauberbear is on Etsy!

We've had a shop called Fort Elsewhere on Etsy that's been sitting unopened for an embarrassing while, now. Every time we logged on to favorite a shop or something, Etsy would poke and prod us to open it. I mean, I'd love to make excuses, but I haven't got any good ones I couldn't easily void myself. Thus, Fort Elsewhere is now as open as a black hole; go on, let it suck you in!

We've got all kinds of magic for sale, in the form of walnut parcels, charm bracelets, pixie pouches, zines--and a whole lot of et cetera is planned and on it's way, involving Enchantemissaries and monthly subscription things and lots and lots of magic. I cannot tell you how excited I am! What I can tell you, though, is that the first 5 people to make a purchase will get a complimentary postcard from Silkworm and I with their package, made from a photo of ours--and each person will get a different one!

You can keep up with our Tumblr to hear more about the shop and promotions and such.

If whilst perusing, you find any questions or suggestions, we'd love you to speak up! Otherwise, hope you like it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Every Magical Creature We Saw

The Ordinary Realm has oddly become somewhat of a summer vacation destination for magical creatures of the Magic Realm, this year. Thus, we've been collecting sightings of all kinds of them lately--minus dragons; they wouldn't be silly enough to summer in the Ordinary Realm (though you will notice a dragon in this set of photos, probably in our realm on a quest of some sort like they usually are).

Silkworm and I recently got back from a short camping trip chock full of living magic. We thought you might enjoy seeing most of the magical creatures we saw, captured on 35mm film.

(I suppose, since we expect curiosity, we should mention something important about the photos. Magic cannot be photographed. It's some kind of natural involuntary defense mechanism that causes magic and magical creatures to morph when captured in photographs. They may become paintings or stuffed animals or smudges, but whatever they become, it's always explainable.)

1. Canis shadows on a secret path

2. A dragon in the sky

3. A party of fairies at Mars

4. A vulphlame at Mars

5. An unidentified winged ungulate

I am not kidding you, the amount of magical creatures currently floating through the Ordinary Realm is unprecedented and unreal.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mission of Magic: Plastic Animals Scavenger Hunt

We went to our favorite park again this past week, this time to hide plastic animals around for people to hunt for. I'd like to think someone found them, because Silkworm and I haven't seen them since. We meant to put hashtags for Instagram users on the backs of the tags so we could possibly see if people found and photographed them, but we forgot this time! We're trying to get in the habit of doing that for every Mission of Magic; hopefully we'll remember next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Our City Brochure, Inspired by Busy Weekends

When Michelle at Busy Weekends came up with a genius idea to put together a travel guide highlighting the best and/or most secret parts of the city you live in, Silkworm and I had been right in the middle of finally discovering the hidden awesomeness in our town while on our daily morning bike rides--so we decided to take Michelle's challenge and write a brochure about the city we so proudly call home, now.

Once upon a time, I used to have a silly assumption that this place was just a boring small town in the middle of nowhere, but that was when Silkworm and I spent the days inside our house, tucked safely inside our comfort zone. Little did we know how much there was to discover! When we finally started getting out of the house regularly, courtesy of Lucy the yarn-bombed bike (purchased with a wad of hard-earned money and a desire for a comfortable ride for my strangely sensitive butt), we started finding something new and interesting every time we went out.

It started with realizing how adorable the teeny tiny town of shops is, complete with a lake and an osprey nest across the water. Then we began to realize how much water we are surrounded by, and how lovely an early morning chill we have because of it. Soon enough, we discovered a colony of bunnies and deer on a particular street, which we now bike down every evening to visit the wildlife. There's also a bridge over the train tracks that we've been trying to stand on while a train rumbles past underneath, but we haven't gotten our timing right so far. And it appears we're under a protective bubble from bad weather because whenever the rest of our area gets nasty thunderstorms and such, we stay mostly dry and peaceful.

While we could easily write a list of negatives and disadvantages of living where we live, too, we've chosen not to focus on those things because we are too grateful to have the things we are lucky enough to have. However, for the sake of letting everyone know no town is perfect, we'll also let you know: the closest department and grocery stores are a fifteen minute drive away; there are not many sidewalks yet many busy streets with small shoulders, so it's tough to get around on a bike; there's not a lot of socializing opportunities for miles.

But none of that matters, because we love counting the bunnies on our bike rides at sunset and racing to get to the bridge over the train tracks when we hear the train whistle and hearing ospreys out my bedroom window at all times of the day.

Fall in love with what you have. Passion goes to waste when one spends it on wishing for something else.

Silkworm and I are going to leave a few of these lying around town and maybe even ask a few shop owners if they'd like to give away some free copies. We didn't credit ourselves anywhere in the brochures, but we are going to leave a hashtag on the back of them for anyone to use on Instagram, if they want to share a photo of their findings. At least we might get to see people discovering them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Constellation Tin Can

Silkworm and I were robbed of yet another meteor shower last night, the one that was supposed to be summer's best. It had been sunny all week until the clouds rolled in just in time to block our view of the night sky. We have to chalk it up as the third meteor shower we've missed since April.

On the bright side, we finally got to making one of those awesome constellation tin cans to reimburse our little star-starved hearts!

Tin can (made of a thin metal)
Piece of paper
Nail (of the size you want your star holes to be)
Piece of wood (to work on your project on)
Small light source (candle, LED candle...)

Step One: Cut a piece of paper to fit around your tin can like a label. Tape it on.

Step Two: Trace constellations on the paper, be they real or made-up.

Step Three: Place your tin can on your piece of wood. Line up your nail on one of the stars you drew on the piece of paper, and hammer it through to punch a hole. Continue punching holes out for each star you traced.

Step Four: Remove the piece of paper to reveal your finished tin can. Put it over a lit candle or other active light source (the stronger the light, the better) and fall in love with your quirky lantern!

For a similarly awesome tin can project, check out this tutorial from Night Sky Online on how to make a tin can planetarium! It's a tad easier and much quieter, for those who, say, live in apartments.

Raising Sensitive Plants: The Death of Plucky

I think it is pretty safe to say an awfully shriveled Plucky has floated up to the little plant heaven in the sky. It has been more than three days since we found him like this on the windowsill. We forgot to water him for probably three days straight, and while that's usually not a probably, it's been particularly sunny and dry. Oh gosh, he must have died so thirsty. Meanwhile, Silkworm and I are drowning in guilt.

Not to say we're replacing Plucky--one couldn't possibly replace that brave little soldier--but it's lonely without his green presence. So we're thinking of starting a sprout nursery in my bedroom. We're going to start with organic pea sprouts in mason jars and maybe we'll have to grow some wheat grass for the ratties. I don't think we'll be mentioning it any further here, unless there's reason to, but we'll definitely keep our tiny audience updated on our Tumblr!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Little Plant, Don't Trim Your Branches

You think your roots would grow thicker and stronger if you were planted in the ground, or at least a bigger pot. You think you'd look better if your scraggly branches were chopped off and you looked more shapely. You wish you were as tall as the pine trees.

But pine trees are a different species--and pine trees wish they were shorter so they could see the ground better, or that they had a house to hide inside during blizzards and hurricanes.

"But pine trees are so nice and hospitable and they let squirrels live inside them! I wish I could tell the other plants animals lived inside me."

Cats sleep in your soil under your leaves. You don't even bother to ask their names because they're not squirrels because you're too caught up in the lives and happenings belonging to pine trees.

You are not boring. Every human bean on this planet is no lesser and no better than another. Each of us have stories of equal measure, you just have to measure them with the appropriate tools.

And you just have to fall in love with what you've got.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

August 10th's Full Moon

I hardly think this is worth writing about, but who knows, maybe we'll need the reference for studying future full moons, so...

Today's full moon had Silkworm spinning a web in my bedroom, this afternoon. He started at around 11:00 in the morning and finished just under an hour before the peak.

Um, it was fun to play with? I...don't know what else to say.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Raising Sensitive Plants: Day 139

I wish we'd paid attention to Plucky's development lately, because when we took pictures for today's update, we noticed those thorns on his stems! I would have loved to know when they came in. They're very sharp and strong and could definitely do damage to something trying to nibble at him, if Plucky lived in the wild!

Anyhow, our little guy is doing very well and we poke him often just for fun to see his leaves close up. It will be so cool when his leaves start growing closer to each other so one touch will create a domino effect!

We're thinking we should transplant him into a bigger pot, soon. He needs more space to flourish!
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