Winter Park Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival

30 11 2014

I’ve been pretty MIA in November, because, like a crazy person, I decided to once again participate in NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in 1 month). I did it in 2011 and still haven’t done a first edit of that manuscript. This time I wanted to force myself to work on a story I’ve been thinking of but putting off since mid-2011. Apart from pretty much giving up on life for a month, it’s pretty fulfilling to say – I survived the challenge!

This novel is much longer than my previous; I’m probably only a quarter of the way through. It’s a good start, but I’ll be excited to do something other than work and write for a while.

I did get to go to Winter Park in early November for a sidewalk chalk art festival. I’d never seen one before, and it was fantastic!

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First we went to the rose garden:

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Then we explored the art. It was right off of Park Ave, sprawling across the sidewalks in the grassy park in colorful, impressive squares.

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You wouldn’t believe how many pieces there were. I took more pictures with my cell phone and haven’t uploaded those yet, but even in these you can see it was a good turn out.

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I have to apologize in a way for not getting any of the artists’ names. It was a juried show, so you can see the numbers of their pieces, but many of them had names written by their art.

It was a beautiful night in Winter Park, which is beautiful pretty much always.

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Haven’t been to the place above yet, but it looked so nice in the lighting.

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DIY Soap

5 11 2014

soap10

I wanted to go DIY this year for holiday gifts, because it seems like everyone’s at that point where they “don’t know” when you ask what they want or, if they do want something, they buy it for themselves. Guess we’re truly boring old adults now! Anyway, soap sounds like a good idea because it’s both useful AND pretty. Win. Apparently, serious soap making is straight up dangerous. Like, it can burn your skin off. But anyone can do melt and pour! I’m experimenting with it now to perfect everything before X-mas. The soaps above are melt and pour goat’s milk with coffee (the brown ones) and half rosemary/half coffee for the other.

Here’s what you do:

glycerin soap base

glycerin soap base

Stop by your Michaels or Hobby Lobby with a weekly 40% off coupon and get a soap base for around $6.50, $7, something like that. The one above is clear glycerin. Some others are white/opaque like goat’s milk and shea butter.

soap mold

soap mold

You’ll need some molds. I got this one for around $3. It’s pretty basic so it could be versatile, but they make them with all kinds of patterns.

additives - dye and scents

additives – dye and scents

Then buy whatever additives you might want. Craft stores will sell various colorants, soap scents, and essential oils. The oils are pretty expensive, so I went with the soap scents (most are around $5 at Michaels and $3 at Hobby Lobby). I’m not sure if there’s a benefit to using these over perfumes and other colorings – I figured it’s best to be safe since this is going on skin.

Pyrex mixing cup

Pyrex mixing cup

You’ll need a mixing cup or bowl to melt the soap base in that’s microwave safe. People recommended Pyrex, so I bought an enormous 4 cup Pyrex mixer. You will also need something to stir it with. I use popsicle sticks for my resin, and they work fine here too.

more additives - tea!

more additives – tea!

I like the idea of putting random things in the soap. Some people recommended tea, herbs, coffee, oatmeal. Those can function as exfoliants and possibly smell good. I’m trying to experiment by adding scents to some and leaving others without. So far the tea smell seems to come through if you put a lot in. I also used very strong smelling tea (some kind of jasmine fruit thing).

making the soap - part 1!

making the soap – part 1!

So – to make the soap: first, cut up some of your soap base. It cuts really easy, like a butter knife can do it. I do a few squares at a time; it’s pretty easy to add more. Drop them in the mixing cup and microwave them, 20 – 30 seconds depending on how much, stir, and continue on 10 second intervals until it’s all melted.

freshly poured

freshly poured

Depending on what you want, you can add your coloring/scents/other random things into the mixing up or into the individual molds and mix. I find it easier/more mixable in the mixing cup, but I don’t want all of the same kind, so above I did them one by one. I found that you can mix up a clear soap base with an opaque one, if you add only very little opaque and mix only a little, really just swirl it. The opaque will mostly take over, but it still makes some cool cloudy effects. The two at the top are oatmeal/goat’s milk and tea/goat’s milk.

more soap cooling down

more soap cooling down

Here I tried tea – a LOT of tea – in the top right in a clear base. Clear is a nice idea, because then you can really see what’s inside, but tea tends to make everything a mucky brown color. At the bottom I added fresh herbs. Feeling like they might turn black (fresh = moisture in the leaves = mold over time), but I’ll wait and see. Anyway, let everything cool. I leave it out for 3 or 4 hours then pop in the freezer for 15 minutes or so (makes it easier to pop them out). I left some in the freezer overnight and they had all this gross condensation on them – so maybe don’t do that.

Ta da!

Ta da!

The finished herb and tea soaps. More experimenting to do. But I like that it’s pretty easy and cheap. Wrapped up with a ribbon/string around them, these could make cute gifts!





Happy Halloween!

1 11 2014

new pet monster

new pet monster


Quickie in ink, colored pencil, and marker while watching Dark Shadows tonight. Halloween!








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