The Making of a Bib

Or, rather, not the making of the bib, per se, but the embellishing of it.

Tricks of the Trade

Last week I promised you a Process Blog, and this week I make good on that promise.  As I've mentioned before, I make bibs for people when they have babies.  And since my brother's firstborn is due in less than a month, I figured I'd better get started on the bib for my newest nephew.

It starts, as these things do, with an idea (Yes, I've been planning this since August.  Sometimes I am slow.)  Once I know what illustration I want to use, I freehand it onto the bib using an air-erase marker:

There is a reason for the patch.  A darkly humorous reason.
And then I pick out my colors, and begin to stitch.  In this instance I decided I wanted a gray and cream bunny (the colors of my childhood stuffed animal), with dark blue script (since my brother is Air Force).

Here is an idea of how long the actual stitching takes me:

80 minutes in
160 minutes in
240 minutes in (yes, that's four hours, and not consecutive because I'd go blind.)

Now at this point I knew I wanted a vegetable next to the bunny.  Originally I'd sketched in a carrot (you can just barely make it out in the 80 minutes in shot), but it seemed to me that you don't have to be particularly brave to try a carrot.  A radish, on the other hand...

Notice there is no trace of the carrot I'd drawn the day before.  Air eraseable marker, you are THE AWESOMEST.
The first few times I embroidered something, I made iron-on transfers out of my drawings, but now I find it much easier and faster just to draw directly on the fabric- and since I make a habit of doing my doodles in pen, I'm comfortable working that way, and generally end up with pretty clean lines (see above).

This is how much thread I used to do those two little green leaves.  It is also how much thread it ended up taking me to do the last, large leaf.

All in all, it took me six hours (360 minutes) to finish, which isn't so bad.

The compass star is to guide brave little bunnies home again.

The backside.  Not the messiest I've ever done, but I'm sure I could be cleaner, given more time and practice.

My handsome modeling cat.
It was good to be stitching again- it had been almost a year since the last time I did something, and it's really put me in the mood to do more.  It may be that I do stitched valentines this year... hmmm...


The Seeker

Just to prove to you that I am still getting my non-specific doodle on:

My (cheap) brush pen is running out of ink.

Furthermore, I am working a new stitchery project, and I've been taking pictures as I go so that I can share a little process with you once it's finished.  Huzzay!


The Dangers of Over-Gripping

Ladies and Gentlemen, my name is Jenny O, and I have a problem with over-gripping.

"You have a problem with... what?" you ask.

Over-gripping.  It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like: gripping a hold too hard.
See those tendons popping out in my right wrist?  Yeah.

"But... why is it bad to have a really hard grip on a hold?" You ask.  "Seems to me like that's a pretty good idea, to hold on tightly while scaling a tall wall that you have absolutely no interest in falling off of."

The reason it's a bad idea, Gentle Readers, is because it leads you to fatigue more quickly than you might have otherwise.  In other words, it means you're going to lose your ability to stay on that wall a lot sooner than if you'd kept your grip as loose and gentle as is safe.  Holding on too hard leads to not being able to hold on at all.  And the thing is, you really don't have to grip a hold nearly so hard as you think you do.  In fact I was doing a drill today to teach myself how little energy I need to expend to stay on the wall; I would grip a hold, then start to relax my grip until I started to fall, just so I could see how little pressure I actually needed.

It's not just on the rock wall that this problem manifests itself, however.  I tend to over-grip everything.  My steering wheel, pens, phones... everything.  Even Nathan.  Ask him.  I try to be conscious of this bad habit, and thus there are a thousand tiny moments throughout the day wherein I tell myself to Relax and loosen your grip.  And I do, and suddenly realize how much raw force I was using just to write my name, an action which should be effortless.

I have a theory about why this is a problem for me: I am pretty sure it's because I'm something of a control freak.  I like to be in control of all the things, and the best way to keep them firmly in check is to hold on really, really tightly, right?  Right??

Except... it's fatiguing.  And once I fatigue... well, you get the idea.  And it's a long way down.

So add to those thousand tiny moments a thousand more tiny moments, wherein I tell myself, Loosen up.  Let go.  You're not going to fall.

And I don't.


The Glory of a Day Off

It has been a very long time since I've had a day off that was not scheduled-to-the-hilt.  Today was such a day, and I spent it in fashions Most Glorious.

It started with... well, okay it started with sleeping in.  But after that (and, um, some breakfast), it started with a little Kitchen Experiment.  Last weekend Nathan and I invested in a lovely tetsubin, along with settings for five, and ever since we brought it home I've had a hankering to have a few ladies over for a tea party.  Of course you have to have more than just tea at a tea party- you have to have finger foods, too!  And what immediately sprang to my mind for finger foods were bacon-wrapped dates- except that one of the girls I want to invite is vegetarian, and I want to make sure that she can have delicious finger foods, too.  So last week I was brainstorming with my mom about how to make a vegetarian version of bacon-wrapped dates, and here is what we came up with:

No fancy name for them yet- perhaps Golden Dates?
Basically what I did was stuff ten dates with chevre, coat them in a batter made from one egg, one cup almond meal, and 1/8 cup honey, and bake them at 375 for 10 minutes (when they started to brown at the tips).

The astute observer might note that there are twelve dates in this picture- but I only ended up with enough batter for ten, so two were sacrificed to the gods of nom.
They were quite tasty, kind of like Super Cookies, but I don't feel I'm "there" yet- I wish the coating had more crunch to it.  Nathan claims I am so there (he loves the not-quite-done-ness of the batter), but I'm not yet satisfied.
Please no one tell my grandmother how chipped my fingernail polish is.

I think next time I might just dip them in eggs and then roll them in the almond meal, rather than making a "batter".  And I think I can omit the honey entirely, and honestly I feel like it should have some spice to it- maybe cinnamon and cayenne?  Or maybe even just straight black pepper, to harken back to the bacon-wrapped dates... more experimentation is called for!

Anyway once all of that was done, we decided it was high time to go on our first hike of 2013!  So we bundled up ourselves and the dog, and headed on up to Moulton Falls, a place we'd heard was lovely, but had never actually experienced for ourselves.
See?  All bundled.
I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you to learn that our hikes are pretty leisurely- after all, Nathan is a photographer, and photos take time.
Time being taken.
 And since his hands are taken up with all the camera gear, it falls to me to keep possession of the pig.  Now, Isis loves to hike- and, unfortunately, when Isis loves to do something, she often wants to do it with the entirety of her being.  Her 65 pound (for now), no-fat being.  Which can lead to a great deal of enthusiastic pulling on her leash, which takes some muscle on my part to resist.  What I'm trying to say, here, is that our hikes for the past year have involved a lot of brute strength on my part to keep Isis close by.

But all that changed today, because today we made use of a Gentle Leader harness.

Holy crap, you guys.  Best invention of all time ever shut up about the wheel and sliced bread this wins.

She didn't pull at all.  At all.  I don't mean, "she tried to pull and was thwarted"- I mean she did not pull.  Loose leash walking the entire time.  It was the least stressful hike I've been on in almost year, and it is entirely possible that I am going to have to kiss the woman who suggested it to me when I see her again.
Cold but happy but cold.  And Nathan is Zoolander, I guess?
Once we got back from that little adventure Nathan set to work in the kitchen making his modestly-famous chili, and I immediately headed over to the rock gym to meet up with KB and get some climbing in.  We've recently come to the conclusion that we need to get a little more focused with our climbing- actually start training- if we want to really progress.  Now, truth be told I don't really care about progressing that much (as long as I'm having fun I'm fine) but I also don't not care enough to keep me from putting forth more effort to keep pace with my bros.  Did that double negative make sense?  Anyway the point is that we spent two hours doing drills that challenged us in a variety of ways, and ended the session with a series of pull ups and planks.

Oh yeah, my core needs some serious work.


Back in Action(ish)

Okay, so I've had two blissful weeks wherein I did not stress about creating, scanning, or uploading any illustrations.  It's been pretty nice.  But I find myself formulating blog entries in my head as I walk/drive around, which means it's time to get back in the updating-saddle.  Not that I have anything stellar to say (or post) today- I just wanted to break radio-silence (and update the "About" section to reflect the current lack-of-theme).

The theory was that this year's 365 project would be bettering my Spanish (with an eye to a 2014 trip to Spain)- but so far that hasn't happened, um, at all.  And to be frank I'm not surprised- having completed two 365 projects now, I feel pretty secure stating that I'm not cut out to do them back-to-back.  So.  Sporadic-Spanish-brush-up, at best.  And probably not much chatter about it here on the blog.

I'm thisclose to finishing rewrites on Sleeping Beauty- which means it will go off to my lovely Betas soon (although honestly what I want to do is immediately begin another round of re-writes... ugh I need to let it go), at which point I'll return to Treachery's world and see what new things my subconscious has come up with while I let the story lay fallow.

There are other developments in the writing-world-of-Jenny-O, but I think I'll hold off on talking about that until they're a little more firmed up.  Wouldn't want to blow all my excitement on the first entry of the new year...