Stupid Human Tricks, Crochet Edition

I’m a huge fan of what I call “stupid human tricks”. They’re simple, go to tricks (NOT LIFE HACKS, DEAR GOD, NOT THAT) that produce awesome results. For example, this smores recipe. Stupid human trick. Easy as heck and very impressive.  Or, play this song:

instant cool points. 100000000 cool points.

I just love it. Somewhere along the line, I learned a stupid crochet trick. It’s not even new, or like, fancy, or like anything anyone hasn’t seen, but it just makes things a little fancier. It’s crocheting in the front and/or back loops of a project. Nothing major, just adds a little more texture, looks a little more advanced, ya know, a stupid crochet trick. Fun at parties. Great cook. Such a pretty face.

I made my infinity scarf working in front loops and then the back loops. I used two strands of worsted weight yarn to give it a little more thickness and a little more pizazz. That’s right, I used “pizazz” in a sentence.

wpid-20150107_131347.jpg

i’m the worst model. I can’t smile in a photo to save my life! i don’t think i look as fat though, thankfully.

I started with chain 20, one single crochet in each (be mindful of the double strands!) I think my hook was a 7mm. Then I worked one row in the front loops and the following row in the back loops. In case you’re not familiar, I worked up a few rows in my ugliest yarn to show you.

wpid-20150106_204018.jpg

some darn fine ugly yarn there.

wpid-20150106_204113.jpg

see the two loops? normally, you go through both.

wpid-20150106_204151.jpg

see what I did there? eh? front loops?

 wpid-20150106_204253.jpg

eh? see? back loops? ugly yarn? eh?

wpid-20150106_204404.jpg

this yarn was a gift, I swear.

Can you see the rows forming? It’s nothing spectacular, but again, it’s just that wee little extra touch. Just something so you know it’s special.

Also, in the BMary News, I went out and got yarn for that infamous poncho.

wpid-20150107_114658.jpg

I LOVE THIS YARN! aka brand I’M POOR RIGHT NOW!

I took a picture of the magazine, I hope that’s not some bizarre copyright problem. I mean in case you don’t know, it’s SIMPLY CROCHET (LINK TO MAGAZINE WEBSITE) and ISSUE 25 (LINK TO PURCHASE ISSUE 25) and this pattern, COWL NECK PONCHO (LINK TO PURCHASE PATTERN). If there’s still a problem, I’ll roll my eyes really hard and stomp my feet. Promise.

wpid-20150107_114720.jpg

just stop and admire that!

I’m going with grey and my wacky neons, because, well, why not? Might as well make it a little loud, it’s a freaking cowl with a freaking poncho with freaking fringe attached. It’s gonna be loud. I’m like, 15 rows in. I cannot wait! It’s going to be a crochet sweatshop up in here!

Regrow Scallions (Take One)

get in the groove and let the good times roll, we’re gonna stay here til we soothe our soul

Way back in the day, you can ask brittlynnstalker, she knows, I was poor as dirt. Like, no sheets on the mattress on the floor, no dresser, no TV, not even a garbage can poor. We’re talking broke. Although I only overdrafted my account twice. Whew, trust me, it wasn’t easy. I have enough credit (not enough funds obviously or you’d see my jeep with WAY bigger tires) to probably buy the entire town I live in. It’s not if you can afford it, it’s if you can afford to keep it. Anyway, I was poor, but not in debt, dammit. Never been in debt. Paid for my jeep with cash.

Around this time an old friend of mined move in with me to help with rent. Real stand up guy. Crazy as the day is long, but completely a true friend. Saved my life once, no joke. Well we didn’t have heat and we didn’t have AC and we didn’t have food so it was a little weird. One day I came home from work and opened the door to him, shirtless (as was his custom, remember, no AC) brandishing a half of an onion at my face while inquiring, “Onion?”

No hello, just “Onion?”

A delightful snack.

I don’t know how I remained relatively sane. The other day, when I bought some scallions, I remembered that, being that broke and hungry and ridiculous and stupid and young. A lot of drunk as well. Don’t judge me, if you’ve ever pinched pennies that hard, sometimes you need a break. It was worth it. I’ll retire on a million if I never add to it again, and that’s not a lie either. I started a retirement fund when I was 17. My future children’s college is paid for. I’ve got stuff squirreled away, it’s just not “mine” anymore.

Anyway, right now I am in not the best economic situation, not NEARLY as bad, but I am prepared. I can’t save, but I’m not eating into my savings. And in that spirit, I looked at my bunch of scallion bulbs and thought, hey, why not see if we can get these to grow? Hopefully it will turn out better than the romaine and celery attempts. If you’re too lazy to read (I understand, I ramble a lot), they bolted and it was a dramatic failure. So here we go:

ReGrow Scallions:

I put them into a small mason jar and dumped them on the window sill. Within a day, I had quite a bit of growth. Within a week, as it is now, I have roots growing. I’m debating sticking them in dirt to see if they take off.

wpid-20141201_115859.jpgdoing…stuff…

If they bolt on me, I will be quite annoyed. If this is a success, my next attempt will be regrowing ginger.

Save your tea bags, times are hard. 😀

 

No Poo Number Three “Sebum Only”

Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Nothing interesting happened and I was busy playing with trouble kitty and working. I did managed to have a lot of fun. Fall is awesome this year, the weather is great! I haven’t had a desire to be inside. I’ll post some photos at the bottom of this, just for fun.

I’ve never been a big fan of rules. I’m a libertarian, after all. Why did the chicken cross the road? NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS AND AM I BEING DETAINED?

wpid-2014-10-12-19.48.25.png.pngproof that I was being an idiot with a foam finger long before miley cyrus was out of diapers!

As you may recall, I have been no poo for some time and was to the point where I was only using water to “wash” my hair. That was all fine and dandy until I became aware that my hair was kind of dry on the ends. At first, I thought a good haircut would do the trick, I used to wear my hair up all the time and thought that I had a lot of breakage from that. I’ll be honest, genetically, I have terrible hair. Thin and wispy. My mother couldn’t get hers past her shoulders. The fact that I even can mange moderately long hair is a miracle. It used to be a lot worse until I went no poo.

I got my hair cut, professionally. This was a big step for me as I am very leery of hairdressers. I’ve gotten a mommy mullet cut when I was entirely too young for such a terrible hair cut, so I have my reasons. Obviously, mommy mullet was not my intended hair cut. I have legitimately never had a good experience with a professional cut, style or color.  Anyway, the woman there did a great job. She actually just simply did what I asked her. How novel.

After that, it was still dry. Okay, fine. I dumped a bit of coconut oil on it and brushed, brushed, brushed. That helped phenomenally. Then I came across the “sebum only” concept. I paid it very little mind until I read that too much water can make your hair dry. Cue light bulb over my head.

Okay, then, let’s give it a swing. For a week I did not get my hair wet. I showered (I’m not completely disgusting) and avoided getting my hair wet. I kept it in braids, because after 4 days, I was getting pretty greasy. No one noticed. Day 8 I decided I was sick of putting my hair up so I took a nice tub soak and scrubbed my scalp. When dry, it actually looked much better, believe it or not. My ends looked much more moisturized. So now, three days since that bath, this is my hair:

wpid-20141017_104008.jpgI would call this a good hair day!

My head does smell a bit mustier than usual, but not terrible, I’m still getting the swing of this. The ends are a lot better. I am going to try to go a week and a half without wetting it. Baby steps. Also I am brushing like a madwoman and am going to ramp up how often I clean my brushes. Wish me luck!

As promised, here are some photos of my recent adventures:

 wpid-20141016_110528.jpgtrouble kitty is watching you make stool

wpid-20141010_165821.jpgour backyard red maple

 wpid-20141007_103808.jpgstarted some granny squares for a hoodie, inspired by this post.

 wpid-20141005_141003.jpganother road trip scarf for a friend

wpid-20141005_140519.jpgangie and abraham are getting along

 wpid-20140927_112558.jpgthe baby fish are getting big!! there’s four

wpid-20140930_180951.jpgstunning view i thought

wpid-20141001_075736.jpgour red maple again. such a beautiful tree.

Ok, that’s it for now! I have to go pick up a kombacha scoby for a friend. I got a lead on it and my friend wants one, so I’m off! Have a great day and I’ll be back to check on you all in a little bit!

How to Blog Like BMary

In the grand tradition of my family, if you can’t make fun of yourself, you’re probably rather dull..

HOW TO BLOG LIKE BMARY:

  1. Put on Ancient Aliens shirt
  2. Pick a moderately interesting topic
  3. Ramble incoherently
  4. Post a ridiculous amount of pictures
  5. Take some weird selfies
  6. Get weird
  7. Post completely useless links everywhere
  8. Add really nonsensical tags
  9. Hit publish button
  10. Cry hysterically and regret all life decisions until someone likes post
  11. Cheer wildly if someone likes post
  12. Tell everyone how cool you are if someone comments on post
  13. Put on sunglasses
  14. Repeat

African Flowers for A Bridal Shower

Today I got working on gifts for a dear friend of mine who is getting married. I am working on placemats, tea towels, napkins and a centerpiece doily thing. I had her send me pictures of her kitchen for inspiration and I think I am in a pretty good place.

Originally I was thinking of doing a something fairly straight forward. But then I remembered, AFRICAN FLOWERS! Who the heck doesn’t love African Flowers?!? I have the world’s worst written pattern for them, hands down. I don’t remember where I got it from (the paper it’s printed on is dated 12/22/2011) but I copied and pasted it from somewhere. It might have been a few different sources, I was pretty new to crochet patterns at the time. I also am an idiot. I might have just hen picked instructions and pasted them into a document. However, despite being the worst written pattern, it is the EASIEST to mindlessly count. Trust me, I’ve tried a few. Even pictures. No help. I like this pattern because the flowers lay flat and as I said, it is easy to drift away and crochet happily without having to resort to counting every row over and over and frog out your miss counts. So I am going to attempt to rewrite it for you, if you would like to give it a chance.

African Flowers Motif

  • Notes: Unless mentioned, finish each round off individually with a sl st, colors can be changed every round.
  • On Round 3, if you’re not changing colors, you can slip stitch over to the correct space
  • Round 4 uses a dc spike stitch into Round 3, here are some pictures to help. Trust me, very easy and adds a lot of interest to any project.

Ch 5

Sl st into the first ch to make a ring

Round 1: Ch 3, dc into ring, *ch 1, 2 dc into ring* repeat 4 times (12 stitches total) Sl st into 3rd ch of initial 3 ch to close.

Round 2: Ch 3 into the space just to the right of the ch 3 in the previous round. Dc into same space and ch 1. *2 dc, ch 1 in each ch 1 space from previous round* (24 stitches)

 Round 3: Ch 3 in 1 ch sp from previous round, 6 dc, ch 3. *7 dc into next ch space, ch 3* (six petals)

Round 4: Insert hook into the first dc of the petal, ch 1, sc into same stitch (counts as first sc), sc 6 (7 sc total). Dc spike stitch into Round 3, *7 sc, dc spike stitch into Round 3* to beginning.

Round 5: Ch 3, 2 dc *[dc, ch 1, dc into same st] 7 dc*

Finish off and weave in ends!

I hope this helps, let me know if I missed anything, I am going off of a terrible template. I think I corrected most of it/made it easier to read.

I added a round of sc, increasing in the corners.

I made seven total and used a mattress stitch to sew them together.

To finish off my project, I did a final sc border, increasing stitches at the corners:

wpid-20140715_094433.jpgwheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Part One of her gifts is finished! The placemats are done, it’s off to the napkins. When I am all done, I will post pictures.

My First Crochet Necklace

This is a long post, with a lot of rambling, but bear with me guys.

Before the wedding (sorry, right now everything is either before wedding or after wedding. should I adopt a BW and AW? Ha!) I went shopping with my maid of honor, just a casual affair in the town I used to live in. If you want a really great place to shop and you are in Illinois, Geneva is great. Many of the stores focus on local artists, incredible finds, and unique items. I don’t care if they are all vanity shops (meaning: operated at a loss by rich housewives, you’d be surprised how often that happens) it’s a lot of fun to shop there. As you may or may not be aware, I am doing by best to put my money where my mouth is. I am trying to avoid big box stores and buy from adults. Ahem. Adults who get paid.

However, spending money is really not my best skill. Arguing myself out of buying something? I’m the best. Unless I really, really want it, I don’t buy it. If I really want it, I’ll drop a pile of money on it. So I kind of forced myself to really look around and at least try to buy something. There was a lot of jewelry that was made locally and it was really beautiful, but either not my style or way out of my budget. So I dug. And then I found these babies:

wpid-20140706_134939.jpgthe ashtray was my grandmother’s

Little tiny sea shells! Hold the presses. I love shells. I would wager that I have, hands down, the most privately owned sea shells in the State of Illinois (we’re landlocked aside from Lake Michigan, for you folks not familiar). How? Well my very very dear Great Grandma Bertha Lance (aka Birdie):

wpid-2014-07-08-07.25.19.jpg.jpegshe was a firecracker

I briefly mentioned her in a previous post. This woman was a major inspiration when I was a little girl. I had never met a woman so carefree and so absolutely amazing. Granted, I was probably 6 or 7 when she passed at 90something, but I have yet to meet anyone even in the running as her equal. She lived in Florida with probably around a thousand cats and obviously that fine fellow there. My memories of her are nothing but laughter and fun. She brought me the cool toys, the boy toys that my other relatives wouldn’t get me. She brought me sea shells from Florida. When we’d go down to visit, we would hunt shells, lizards and in general, start a ruckus. She collected creepy clown dolls and did macrame and other crafts. I never had so much fun then when all of us, great grandma, grandma, grandpa and my uncles would all get together and just tell jokes. So sea shells remind me of her. I have several large conch shells, a million sand dollars, two dried sea horses (which now I regret a bit, but I still have them. I was like 5, ok?) and I can’t even tell you how many jars of small shells. Jars. All from our adventures. In her honor, I wish to tell you, the Great Grandma Birdie Joke. It is NSFW. You might not get the slag.

Ahem. Ready?

“I still have my cherry, but it’s pushed so far back I use it as a tail light.”

90 years old, people. 90 years old. Do not discredit older people. They are hilarious.

Anyway, back to the point, sort of, those earrings had to be mine. They were in my price range and I took them home and wore the immediately. Love them.

Back to the necklace portion of this saga, I wanted to have a go at making my own jewelry. I wasn’t planning on moving mountains, I was originally thinking something with like flat metal pieces, kind of like coins, simply crochet into a necklace. That’s all. Keep it simple, stupid. Well I didn’t find any of the type of beads I had in mind, but…

wpid-20140706_140121.jpgjust what i need, more f’ing sea shells

OF COURSE I BOUGHT THEM. DUUUUUHHHHH. I am such a damn hoarder.

So, the plan was like this, string the shells on the crochet thread (it is lace weight 0) using an embroidery needle. Then I chained 20, looped in a shell, chained another 20, repeat til desired length.

wpid-20140706_135115.jpgall my goodies

wpid-20140706_160459.jpgdistance the shells are apart

wpid-20140706_160520.jpgbig stupid looking knot

wpid-20140706_160427.jpgfinished product!

wpid-20140708_174031.jpgmy stupid face, making a stupid face.

I really love it! It will always remind me of Grandma Birdie and I made it. My very first try! I couldn’t be more pleased. Beats the stupid coin necklace I was going to make. Thanks for sticking around for all that! Have a great day!

Flower Hoarding

Jumping in, after cleaning the basement, guestroom and planting some flowers! I need a break! I smell terrible. The basement cleaning was like the Running of the Spiders.

I went to the gardening store to grab some “wedding flowers” aka “excuse for buying too many flowers that will come back next year so whateva.” Flower hoarding, you betcha.

wpid-20140620_120119.jpgjust to let you know, i fixed this. all by myself. no more dowel rod/flag thing for me!

I spent entirely way too much money, but hey, they should all come back next year, so let’s check out that haul!

wpid-20140621_110800.jpgcalla lilies, hydrangea, and clematis!

My plan, and I use that term ridiculously loosely, is to use these as decoration, plus my houseplant hoard in the tent and outside. So everybody has to be in a pot, so I can move them around. After the wedding, I plan to plant the hydrangeas in dirt. Like a real plant. Special plans for the clematis too!

After chasing Mr. Humphrey, the chipmunk, out of the garage (REALLY? IS THIS THE WILD KINGDOM HERE?) I got to work.

wpid-20140621_131825.jpgeverybody in a pot!

I’m going to keep them in the shade today, and tomorrow sneak in some full sun. In my opinion, it is generally a good practice after stressing everyone out with replanting to give them a break in the shade. Hopefully, they’ll grow tremendously in seven days, 2 hours and 21 or so odd minutes. Now, about the clematis…

When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a HUGE clematis. Somewhere in the recently acquired pile of pictures in the basement, I have a photo of both my grandparents, Virgil Herbert and June Dorothy standing under a trellis, with the clematis blooming. It’s one of the good pictures, before their health started to decline. I did make a feeble attempt to find it, but alas, it’s still somewhere in that monster pile. Saving that for a winter job.

As I mentioned my fellow plant hoarderess, in this post, I neglected to mention that she had a clematis. Only because I couldn’t freaking remember the name of the plant. So that’s what spurred me. I saw it, beautiful and just like my grandmother’s only much smaller, on her deck. It rang a bunch of nostalgia bells in my head and I knew I had to find one. Her mother bought it for her and the tag was off, so no help there, unfortunately. Google wasn’t much better. I knew they weren’t rare or anything, so I made sure to keep my eyes open today. As you can see, success! Found one! Not the same gorgeous purple as my grandmother’s, but perfectly beautiful and a lovely reminder of her.

Also, there is another reason for such sneakiness. I am stupid independent. My dear wonderful dude I plan to marry in a short period of time is away for the weekend. Now, I had mentioned the clematis, briefly, and was kicking ideas around of where to put it with him. Alas, we have no trellis. So I knew I was going to have to redneck rig something up. Hell, naw, I ain’t paying for a damn trellis to grow weeds on! So, uh, now that it’s planted, he’ll be thrilled with my ambitious red neck rig job. Right?

Redneck Process:

  • Wander yard/house/basement for free stuff.
  • Do not care what it looks like, only if it works.
  • Be prepared to fail, maybe, or succeed ridiculously.
  • Cost, zero dollars.
  • WARNING: Others, who are not rednecks, often do not understand. Only work by yourself or other rednecks.
  • WARNING: Have beer in hand. Important to the thought process.

Firstly, I attempted to line up some tree branches we had cut down. Nope. Then I attempted to use yarn along the fence. Nope. Then I remembered the garden gate, which we had abandoned in favor of putting chicken wire around the whole thing. Ha! That’ll work! Ain’t the prettiest girl at the party, but she’ll work!

wpid-20140621_125405.jpggettin’ all fancy up in here!

I can see it from our living room window and I am very, very happy about it. If it’s deemed too close to the fence or what not, I can take the “trellis” and the plant and move it fairly easily. I’ll probably come up with something better in the future, but this works. Now I have to hose it down, super water it. A must whenever planting.

So I hop over to the hose and suddenly I realize I am being watched. By this abominable creature:

wpid-20140621_123713.jpgu totes can notz c meh.

Ugh. Baby bunnies. Good Lord, they are trouble. Nature mercifully made bunnies so that fear kills them before pain. Which means NO TOUCHING. Guys? NO TOUCHING.

Unfortunately he was directly where I intended to stand and water, the plant is over on the other side of the fence and the hose reached from this vantage. Oh, baby bunnies.

My greyhound found a whole fleet of them in a window well once. After sticking her in the house, I put on some kitchen gloves and very, very gently but quickly, chucked them out. Then the proceeded to hop directly back in. UGHHHHHHHHHHH. So then I got wise, chucked them a wee bit farther and waved my arms about my head like a whacky waving inflatable tube man…

this

…and they all scattered into the bushes. Phew.

And this little guy, wasn’t budging. I assumed if I got close enough, he’d hop off. Nope. Ugh. I poked him with a stick. I didn’t want to be there standing with a hose, freaking him out for like 10 minutes. Nope. No dice. He wasn’t having it. I poked him a bit harder and looked at his eyes to make sure he wasn’t sick. Not sick, just a turd. Eyes clear, butt fat. Okay, then little dude. Don’t freak out. Carefully I threw the hose over the fence, went around the entire house, and watered the clematis. Ugh. I’m sure his momma and his nest are close by, so no worries, guys. He was pretty fat and bright looking.

So, we’ll see how the flowers do! Hopefully they’ll be huge for the wedding! I think I’ve been on break long enough! Back to work with me!

Keep Fish: How To Clean A Fishtank

Hello everyone! As promised, I am going to start writing about fishtank care! I only deal with FRESH WATER tanks. Just so you know.

I decided to start with the most dreaded and over-worried about part of keeping a fish tank. Cleaning it. I figure, if you’re interested in keeping fish, maintenance is the scariest part. My credentials:

  • Over ten years of fish keeping
  • 5 years professionally at a store
  • My fish breed, a lot

I’ve had fish since I was 16, my uncle bought me my first tank and I still have it, locked and loaded today. I worked at a fabulous pet store that had an amazing array of fish for 5 years, and learned just about everything I could. Also, I have insight on common mistakes, simple errors and common complaints. I am going to debunk as many as I can! Starting with:

Cleaning A Fish Tank Is Hard

Absolutely not! If I had a dollar for every person that over-worried their tank, man, I would be loaded. Seems to me that every tank I run into suffers from Over Mothering. Here’s a tip: Less is better. Let’s talk about the main requirements for keeping a clean tank:

  • Change 25% of the tank’s water via a gravel vacuum, once a month
  • Change filter cartridge , once a month (preferably not the same day you clean, more on that later)
  • Scrape off algea
  • Do NOT overfeed

That, my friends, is it. In a nutshell, that is all you have to do to keep a clean tank. Now, why do people have problems with this? Well, I can tell you that 99.99999% of the time the following conversations would happen at the pet store:

Customer: “My fish tank is cloudy.”

Me: “When did you change the water?”

C: “Yesterday.”

M: “How much did you take out?”

C: “Well, it was cloudy, so I took out (enter ridiculous percent or all here).”

OR

Customer: “My fish tank is cloudy and I just started it yesterday, should I do a water change?”

Me: “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!”

Do you see a correlation there? Cloudy water DOES NOT equal immediate water change. And this is why, in very basic terms. Fish make poop. There is a bacteria that eats their poop. When you drop new fish into a tank, or remove a lot of the existing bacteria (example: extreme water change) the bacteria reproduces like mad to eat the sudden abundance of food/poop. The water turns a cloudy white, due to this.  Here is a link that very nicely sums it up. I couldn’t say it better myself. So, you start a fish tank, you change the water too much/often, you fall into a vicious cycle of WHY IS MY TANK ALWAYS CLOUDY?

So, heed my words:

I don’t care how cloudy your tank is. Only remove 25% at a time.

In fact, if it’s cloudy, I wouldn’t change it at all. Wait for the bacteria levels to even themselves out. The water will clear. Wait a whole month after that.

Now that you all understand that, let’s move on to how to go about this cleaning business. You’ll need things.

wpid-20140611_165537.jpggravel vacuum/siphon, sponge/scraper for algae, big bucket, water conditioner, aquarium salt (optional and much argued), towel

Gravel Vacuum/Siphon: The whole point of cleaning a fish tank is to get out the dirty water. The dirtiest water is hiding in the gravel. The vacuum works by sucking out that water and leaving the gravel behind.

Sponge/Scraper: Scrub off that algae! Algae is a good sign, it means your tank can support life. Yey! However, unsightly. Scrub when you clean the tank. If you have a lot of algae, leave the light on for less hours or reduce the amount of food you feed your fish.

Big Bucket: For holding dirty water/replacing water

Water Conditioner: This removes the chlorine from tap water. It is not negotiable. Chlorine will kill your fish. Also, fish are covered in a “slime coat” which protects them. When stressed, they will drop their “slime coat” and this can lead to definite problems. Often, a water conditioner will have something in it for that. Don’t buy a specific product just for that, buy one that has both.

Aquarium Salt: I’ve seen it argued either way. My personal vote is  to have it as a remedy for diseases and to put about a teaspoon in when I change the water. I don’t even do that every time, just occasionally. I used it once to cure ich, a common problem and it worked so fast and so efficient I decided I was sold on salt in the aquarium. We never had ich at the petstore, and we regularly salted the aquariums. Also note: Salt does not evaporate out, so only add when you take out water.

Towel: To keep your arm from dripping all over, really? 😉

START TIME: 06/11/14 5:00 pm

wpid-20140611_165525.jpgbefore: we’re filthy!

Wash your hands and arms, up to your pits, please. Your whole arm is going to be in that tank. Well, you’re probably taller than me, so maybe not. Wash anyway.

Next step is to turn the aquarium off. All the lights, everything. Unplug, the cords can hang, and as they are usually in the back of the tank, they shouldn’t get wet. Unplug anyway.

wpid-20140611_165753.jpgthey’re really mad now!

Remove all decor and place into the bucket, as you don’t want it to drip on your floor. I put the heavy stuff in the bottom and the fake plants on top. Why?…glad you asked!

Put the fake plants in a sink with screaming hot water. Put the heavier objects on top to keep them under the water.

wpid-20140611_170124.jpgtoo hot for algae

This step will kill any algae on the rocks or plants. Clever, eh? You could use bleach, but please don’t, ok? Just hot water, it totally works.

Next, get the siphon going. Mine attaches nicely to the bucket.

wpid-20140611_170214.jpgi could kiss the feet of whomever invented this

You have to prime the siphon to get it to work. The bucket needs to be lower than the siphon for this to work. Put the siphon in the tank, fill with water, let drain half way, then back into the tank. And then the siphon will siphon. More info here.

wpid-20140611_170226.jpghalf way empty, put back in tank!

Start at one corner of the tank, put the siphon directly into the gravel, watch the poop get sucked into the bucket, move to the next patch, repeat until you have removed 25% of the water.

wpid-20140611_170344.jpgstraight into the gravel, like so. pretend I turned off the light on my tank, m’kay?

Next, dump the waste water either into your plants, or the toilet or if your fish breed and you are insane, into a tub to dig out baby fish. You probably won’t have babies, but FYI there. If you see “poop that swims down rapidly” in your siphon, it might be a baby. Hey, at least you’ll never have to ever buy fish again?

Replace plants and decor.

Fill your bucket with tepid water. Not too hot, not too cold please.

Add water conditioner and salt (optional) to the bucket. Follow instructions on package.

Dump into tank, carefully.

Repeat for larger tanks. Mine is only 20 gallons and I only remove 5 gallons at a time, hence the five gallon bucket. Works out beautifully.

Wipe down tank, front and sides to remove water droplets. You wouldn’t dare you a glass cleaner, right? Just the towel.

Inspect electrical before plugging back in.

wpid-20140611_172320.jpgta-da!

Now, it looks a bit cloudy because there is a lot of particulate that is floating around. My filter will grab it or it will settle within the hour.

Wash your hands up to the arm pits please!

END TIME 06/11/14 5:32 PM

Please remember I was dancing around and taking pictures! Normally, it’s a twenty minute job!

I hope this at least makes the idea of fish keeping less daunting. So many people are put off by this once a month chore, that it is a real downer. Or they over do it. You can skip taking all the decor out if it’s a busy month. Then you’re looking at 10 minutes, easy. Please note: I did not change out my filter today. I will discuss that later! Hope you enjoyed! 😀

Putting My Life into Some Semblance of Order…

as opposed to one long fart..

Yesterday I decided I’d officially had it. I used to be frighteningly organized, my apartment consistently beautiful and clean and hot damn, did I like it. Well, the last few years have been full of changes, some wonderful and some terrible. It takes 30 days to make a habit and apparently a huge clusterfart of life events to completely break them.

I’ve had enough. Time to get my ducks in a row. Yesterday I bought a weekly planner and set to work. The best way to keep your place in consistent tip top shape is to write down EVERY SINGLE LITTLE CHORE EVER that you might have to do. Make a huge list. I did that yesterday in between being attacked by the molder. Include everything. Then I broke that list into Weekly, Bi Monthly, Monthly and Bi Annually things to do. Obviously I don’t have to clean the top of the fridge every week, but once a month should suffice.

After the lists had been compiled, I broke my week up. I take Sunday and Saturday “off” and I divided the chores between the remaining days. Each chore takes about 10 minutes, so that’s maximum, 20 minutes per day. Aside from normal things, like laundry, dishes, feeding the dog/cat things. Therefore, I just have to kick myself in the back end to get up and get it done. I assigned about 2-3 things per day, some days more, some days less. Also, I left an open gap for one off work day. I typically get 2 days off a week. On an “off work” day, I assigned more in depth tasks, like vacuuming, and any of the monthly or bi-monthly tasks. It sounds like a lot, it really does, but if you keep up on tasks, they don’t pile up. Do I need to wash the windows inside and out every week? No, but that time is saved for that particular activity. I can make a judgement call.

I feel like I should stop for a second. I am crazy efficient. Frighteningly efficient. Before I started this, I walked the dog for a half hour, replaced a button, cleaned my windows, dusted all the furniture,  made pitas (they’re rising, 10 minutes left) fed the worms (going to do a post if I have time today), went to the store, swept, wrote down a recipe for a Bridal Shower, RSVP’d for two weddings, talked to the lady who’s selling me ice cream for my wedding, did half the laundry and dishes from breakfast. I started writing at 9:15. I’ve done better. I’m still shaking off the cobwebs. When I lived by myself, I once timed how long it took me to drive to the store, buy a full week’s worth of groceries and leave and put them away. Ten minutes. If I’m lying, I’m dying.

The key for me is having a one To Do List. Just one. Usually I keep it in my head, or write it on a post it. I arrange anything I have to do for timeliness, such as pitas first, they have to rise, what time the store opens, et cetera. It takes about 30 seconds to write down and it allows me to do things better and faster.

I hope this maybe gives you some ideas, if you need a little organizing help, or at least you laughed at my fart joke. Hopefully I get some smoother sailing around here so I can continue my crazy shenanigans! If I have time (I’m starting the wedding dress finale as soon as the pitas are done, then work, EW!) I’ll tell ya about my wormies!

Have a good day!

99 Bars of Soap on the Bench, 99 Bars of Soap…

As promised, ages ago, I am going to write about soap making! Whoot!

I got into making soap at the suggestion of the dude I’ll be married to in 24 days, 8 hours and some odd minutes. I was kicking new “things to do” ideas around and soap was on the lower part of the list.

I am a consummate cheap-skate. I won’t fully invest into something unless I am 100% confident that I will like it and 100% confident that it is feasible to do it, store it, succeed at it. Soap making is not cheap, let me just warn you there. You have to make some major investments in ingredients, tools and time. So mostly I was trying to think of ways to do it on the cheap and reading every book ever written on soap, when BAM! one day the dude shows up with soap making stuff in tow and that was how it all started. He’s into straight razor shaving and wanted to make some fancy shaving soaps. So, I guess we were making soap!

Now here is a delightful tool for all you soap heads, SoapCalc! You make up your recipe and it helps you figure out ratios, what the soap will be like, et cetera. However, if you are a beginner, please stick with a tried and true. There are plenty of books with recipes out there. Ask me how I know (besides common sense) that you should maybe practice a few batches before you try your own creation. Ahem. Just sayin’. Wasn’t me.

So as you can tell from the above paragraph, our first soap adventure wasn’t perfect by any means, but it produced a decent soap, my complaints were that it was near impossible to un-mold and it tended to melt away quickly. So for the next batch we did an old tried and true from the book and it turned out beautifully. And we’ve made about 4 or 5 batches since then. We’re only two people, we give away some of the soap, but always seem to have a bunch cropping up and creeping around. If you ever come over to my house, you’ll leave with a loaf of bread, at least 3 bars of soap, probably a book we’ve loaned you that you HAVE to read and a full stomach. Sometimes a crochet something. Depends on what I have laying around in crochet world.

Business at hand, we decided to make soap as a favor at our wedding. My dear maid of honor (WHO ARRIVES FROM FLORIDA IN 19 DAYS, OMG!) has been whipping out crochet washcloths like she’s gettin’ paid to go with the soap. Well, if you know a little sumptin-sumptin ’bout soap, you know it has to cure for a bit. I, Captain Paranoid of the Great Ship Fartlandia, prefer to leave the soap to cure for a month, however two weeks should be satisfactory. I prefer not to burn our guests. Soap making is a bit dangerous.

Let’s talk about that for a second. Soap making can burn you. Ever seen that scene in Fight Club? Maybe a little dramatic, but let’s not play with lye. It can burn you. I’m going to leave you with just that because you should probably read more on the topic and not just listen to me. I have not been burned yet, but I treat the lye with the up most respect. Goggles, apron, gloves. Tie up your hair. No long sleeves. Pretend everything that the lye touches will burn you. Shoo away pets, children, anyone who might disturb it. Respect it, m’kay?

I did not get a ton of pictures because I was working on my wedding dress, but I did sneak a few. The next batch (they’ll be three total) I will be more hands on with.

wpid-20140601_143759.jpgscale, just for soap; container, just for lye; oils; fats; freezer paper; thermometers; stick blender, just for soap; et cetera.

All your soap making tools should be just for making soap. That’s it. Don’t mix food and soap making.

wpid-20140601_144915.jpglining the molds

wpid-20140601_164254.jpgticked off greyhound shunned to the other room.

The when the lye and water is mixed, it will get really, really, freaking hot. The oils/fats will have to be heated and they both need to be at the same temperature before you combine them. So basically you get the lye going, heat the oils, dance around (away from the chemicals!) until they cool and then you pour the lye into the oil slowly. We use a stick blender, but you can do it by hand. If you like mixing a lot. You need to get the soap to trace. With a stick blender, this takes like a minute and you’ll see the soap thicken and, well, the best word to describe it is indeed trace. I did not get a picture of that because I was cursing at my dress or something. I will make sure to get a photo next time. Then you pour the soap (remember, still has lye in it! still hot!) into the molds. After two days, you can unmold them and cut into bars. They will still need to cure.

wpid-20140604_080249.jpgingenious soap cutter, a board and a guitar string

wpid-20140604_080235.jpgour soap all cut out, what didn’t fit into the long mold, we used a silicon mold.

A third of the way there! Two more batches and we should have soap for everyone at the wedding! I’m putting my maid of honor and I to work on making clever little bags for the favors and I hope everyone will enjoy.

I’m sorry I don’t have more detailed, step by step instructions for you, but like I said, I was working on the dress. It’s so close to being done that I can smell it. All the pieces are cut out (I think) and I need to just sew the top and finish some nice details. It’s taking a very long time because I am so new to sewing. This was the first time I had a sewing machine in my possession and this was the first time I ever made anything from it. If I have learned one thing from hobbies it is that,

  1. I am an idiot
  2. SLOW DOWN

And that is why the dress is taking a very long time. I spend at least 30 minutes throwing my arms around, demanding that my brain slow down and not try to sledgehammer our way through it. Lots of breaks.

Anyway, really, it’s going great, it’s just that I have to force myself to go slow and take it easy.

I hope you enjoyed this quick bit about soap, if you’re thinking about it, it is a load of fun to do!