An Unplanned Night of Poetry

My five week hiatus from law firm life has ended and I have finally settled into my new job. I’ve made it through the first few weeks, and so far life is wonderful. I am working approximately 30-40 hours a week less than at my old firm, and I have filled that extra time with seeing my friends and actually taking care of myself. Oddly enough, all the free time for long hikes, trivia nights, dinners, and hot yoga sessions have put doing new things (or at least writing about them) on the back burner.

On one of my nights out, my friend Katie, who I hadn’t seen since law school, and I headed out to catch up over a drink. At the bar we started to chat with a gentleman named Adam seated next to us. We went through the general getting to know you topics: where are you from, what are you doing in town, how do you feel about the first few weeks of the Trump administration, etc.

We learned that he was in town for a poetry reading as part of Nashville’s First Saturday art crawl. I told him that going to a poetry reading was on my list of New Things to do, and we promptly invited ourselves along.

j-joseph-kane

The reading was held at Sauvage Galerie, a bizarre little gallery in a residential neighborhood in South Nashville. The room was tiny, and the art consisted of mixed medium design, which I am pretty certain was just trash glued to wood and I think one piece was just part of a mop. Ron Swanson would not approve. I respect what the artist was going for, but I was not hip enough to get it.

robyn-leigh-lear

The three poets for the evening were J. Joseph Kane, Robyn Leigh Lear, and Adam Day. Poetry has never really been my thing. I love novels, biographies, and Buzzfeed articles about which dog best matches my personality (Great Dane, ironically). That said, I enjoyed the varied expression of the three different poets and I got a lot more out of it than I would just reading words on a page. I would totally go to another reading in the future . . . but I still don’t see myself ever reading poetry for fun.

adam-day

I promise more interesting and exciting posts are heading your way. First I just have to get used to actually having a life again first. More adventures are to come!

Learning to Knit, One Loop at a Time

Knitting a scarf has been one of the most arduous experiences of my life. Not law school. Not the bar exam. Not the Tennessee Vols’ 2016 football season. Knitting a stupid scarf. Why? Because the yarn never, ever ends. Just when you think that you are nearing the end of your project, the yarn ball just keeps on going. There were times I honestly questioned whether the yarn was reproducing and creating more baby yarn for the sole purpose of mocking me.

knitting yarn

I started my scarf the Tuesday before Thanksgiving thinking I would have a fun little weekend project. Perhaps my hopes were unrealistically raised by being told one skein of yarn would magically transform into a fully knitted scarf with about 5 hours of work. Wrong.

knitting

I spent days and days working on the scarf. Part of me wishes I timed it so I knew just how much I invested in the process. Part of me is glad I don’t know the answer to that question.

scaft-knitting

I took a class at Craft South to get me started with my first project. I am really glad I took a course because I had Jenn, the instructor, there to give me guidance as I went along and got into trouble. I think I would have become too frustrated with the process if I started on my own and did not know how to fix my mistakes.

After a bit of hard work I finally finished. I went through the entire skein and ended up with a scarf that is taller than me. I finished it just in time for Nashville’s first first “snow” of the season and I am sure it will keep me warm and toasty on my New Years ski trip.

finished-knit-scarf

I know I seem rather annoyed by the process in this post, but it is really all in jest because I actually loved my knitting class and the finished project. And, believe it or not, I will probably keep knitting. Now that my expectations have been properly lowered, I am ready to forge ahead and try another project. It is actually a pretty great thing to do to quiet your mind, keep yourself busy while watching TV, or enjoy on a ‘knitting date’ with a friend.

Making A Gingerbread House

My mom was obsessed with Christmas. Absolutely obsessed. The woman had a different Christmas sweater for every day of December. This is not an exaggeration, and may in fact be a gross underestimate of the number of Christmas sweaters she owned. Many of these sweaters lit up, played music, or most often, both. After I reached a certain age, she promised to stop wearing the ones that lit up or made noise when I was around, which came after years of my embarrassed teenage protests.

That said, the one thing, and perhaps the only thing, we never did at Christmas was make gingerbread houses. I assume that is because making a gingerbread house is incredibly messy, time consuming, and you end up eating more candy than you put on the house. Me + sugar is still a bad idea to this day.

making a gingerbread house

It felt like it was finally time for me to rectify this injustice and make my first gingerbread house. The kits can be purchased most anywhere this time of year, but I got mine at Michaels for under 10 bucks. There is also an adorable one for sale at Starbucks which I almost grabbed during one of my daily coffee runs.

homemade-gingerbread-house

The key to making a gingerbread house is patience. Once you use the frosting to construct the four walls, you have to let it set and harden. The same goes for the roof. So, if you want to make your own house, plan to assemble it about 4 hours before you actually want to decorate it. Otherwise, your house is going to completely cave in upon itself.

gingerbread-house

I cheated a little and did the lines on the roof before I added those panels because I figured drawing with frosting would be hard enough without trying to do it on an angle. Once the house was ready I added candy christmas lights, frosting windows, a fondant door, an icing christmas tree, gumdrop shrubbery, and tiny gingerbread kids. I even constructed my own candy chimney.

I definitely think I consumed as much, if not more, icing and candy as what actually went on the house. In fact, as I write this, I am finishing up the left over gumdrops. And to answer what is turning into a fairly common question, no you cannot eat my gingerbread house. Build your own.

Learning Calligraphy

I have always had terrible handwriting. It is so bad that often even I can’t read it and it prompted someone to once ask, “didn’t anyone teach you to write like a girl?” Given that, I didn’t really expect calligraphy to be my calling, but total lack of skill has never stopped me.

Calligraphy Pen

Calligraphy requires a special pen called an “oblique.” Oblique calligraphy pens are used because they have a protruding flange (the gold piece sticking out on the side) that forces your nib to write at the correct 45-degree angle. A nib, which is inserted at the end of the oblique, is the part of the pen that actually touches the ink to the paper. Every few letters you have to dip the nib in an ink well. It really made me feel for Thomas Jefferson but also made me think that I don’t have enough feathered quills in my life.

Photo by Karen Watson

Photo by Karen Watson

I took a class with Molly Margaret, the owner of Esque Script Calligraphy at Paper and Ink Arts. We had four hours of instruction in which she took the time to demonstrate and let us practice the basic technique and strokes as well as each lowercase and capital letter. It was an incredibly intricate and time consuming process which I found I don’t really have the patience or attention span for.

52 Things 52 Weeks Calligraphy

However, it was an interesting class and I always enjoy exploring a new skill. Molly was kind enough to write out the name of the blog for me since her writing looks significantly better than my initial attempts at calligraphy. Unfortunately, in my rush to run  off to Sunday brunch I smudged the ink before it fully dried. Oops!

Basket Weaving

If you are itching for something new and crafty to do, I highly recommend a basket weaving class. In just a few hours you can create something completely unique.

Finished Basket

I went to Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary for my class with basket weaver Janet Lanier. Owl’s Hill is an 160-acre nature and animal preserve in Brentwood, Tennessee. I didn’t have time to explore the property, but I did see a beautiful deer grazing right outside of the window as I made my basket. It was a very peaceful afternoon.

Basket Weaving Materials

We started out with a wooden handle and the spokes that would make the frame of the basket.

Basket Weaving Base

The base of the basket was formed by interweaving the wooden spokes.

Basket Weaving Foundation

Once the base was formed, round reed was woven through the spokes to secure the frame. The wooden reed had to be kept wet to make it flexible and easy to manipulate without breaking.

Basket Weaving Layers

I decided to add in a little color to the basket, so every few rows I added maroon reed and seagrass. Seagrass is actually a grass that is hand twisted into cord.

Basket Weaving

The alternating over-under weaving process was repeated until I reached the desired height. Or, more accurately, I ran out of time and had to make it to a hair appointment.

Basket Weaving Bottom

Eventually the shorter spokes at the bottom were trimmed and tucked into the weave to finish the bottom of the basket.

Basket Weaving Top

The top of the basket was finished with half round weed lining the rim and smaller reed was wrapped through the open holes in the basket. To get it a little extra flair, I added some of the maroon seagrass to the top.

Completed Basket

Voilà! A completed wine basket! It took a few hours and a little hard work, but I am pretty happy with the final product. Plus, I am now ready for life on the prairie. I can’t wait to return to Owl’s Hill for another class or for when I have some time to explore.

Fun with Flowers: Making a Flower Crown

I constantly hunt event calendars for ideas of New Things to do. It is much easier showing up at a pre-organized event than creating your own adventure every week. While perusing Eventbrite I came across a flower crown workshop and photoshoot. I was never particularly “girly” as a child (or now), so making a flower crown was definitely something new for me.

Flower Crown Model

The workshop was hosted by the lovely ladies of Miss Mayter’s Photography and Pink Mink Productions.

Floral Wire

Making a flower crown is pretty simple. First, select the flowers you want. To make one like mine, choose a mix of small and large flowers and an array of colors. I was lucky; they actually had flowers that matched my new favorite dress.

Floral Wire Braid

Once you pick your flowers (pun slightly intended) get a bit of wire and measure the size of your head. It is better to have it be a little too big than too small because you can always tighten it at the end. Then take three pieces of wire and braid them together until you reach the appropriate length.

Making a Flower Crown

Now you can start adding your flowers. Trim the stems on the flower to 1/2 to 2 inches and insert the stems into the holes of the braid. If you need extra help securing the stems, just wrap them tightly with green floral tape.

Floral Tape

Just keep adding flowers until you are done. When you are finished wearing your crown, you can dry the flowers by hanging them upside down in a warm, dry place.

Flower Crown

When we were done making the crown we had an awesome little photo session. Here are some of the results:

Flower Corwn Pose

 

Flower Crown Outside

 

Flower Crown Ivy

These are the unedited raw images (that is how awesome Miss Mayter is). Once I get the final shots I will upload those instead.

Pink Mink Productions

Miss Mayter Photography and Pink Mink Productions host events like this every few weeks, so be sure to follow them both on Instagram so you can join next time.

Pearl Knotting: A Zen Night of Jewelry Making

A few months ago I took a metal stamping jewelry class. I really enjoyed my experience, so when I saw a class on pearl knotting I thought it would be a fun way to spend a few hours. Chandler Williams, a local jewelry designer, hosted the class at The University School of Nashville. (USN has a ton of fun evening classes, so check out their offerings if you live nearby).

Pearl Knotting Materials

Pearl knotting is the practice of making jewelry by hand tying thread knots between beads on a necklace or bracket. It is a pretty simple process, and you only need a few supplies: pearls (any size will do, but if you want a 20-inch stand you’ll need 65-70 6mm pearls), 2 clam shell knot covers, a clasp and jump ring, natural silk bead cord (size 4, .60mm), and some G-S Hypo Cement glue.

Pearls for Necklace

Before I started I neurotically laid out my pearls so the necklace would be symmetrical and the best and largest pearls would be in the front. I never miss an opportunity to be obnoxiously organized.

Pearl Necklace Begining

You begin by tying a knot at the end of the string and placing one of the clam shell knot covers at the base. The clasp is then attached and you have a start to your necklace.

Pearl Knotting

The knotting process can be pretty tedious. It took almost 2 hours to do a 20-inch necklace, but I enjoyed it. There was something calming about focusing on the knots. It took some concentration to avoid mistakes of having the knots too large or far apart. I was able to use the time to clear my mind and only focus on what was in front of me.

Homemade Pearl Necklace

Each time I tied a knot I used a corsage pin to move the knot as close to the pearl in front of it as possible. Then, I used the next pearl in line to tighten it. I repeated these steps approximately 70 times. The process was pretty mistake-free, except for when I got distracted by work texts and started getting the string tangled around itself.

Finished Pearl Necklace

Voila! After a little bit of effort the necklace was done! It ended up being a lot easier than I thought. I really enjoyed the class. There was something zen and relaxing about focusing on the knotting and not being distracted by the world around me (well, except temporarily by work).

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