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.

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some darn fine ugly yarn there.

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

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see what I did there? eh? front loops?

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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! 😀

Monday is For Brush Cleaning

Once a week, usually on Monday I clean my hair brushes. Because, let’s face it, they get disgusting. Also, I am stalling because I have a lot of phone calls to make and I hate talking on the phone. Indulge me, please.

So, as I have mentioned before, I don’t use shampoo. Or baking soda, or anything else to clean my hair. Just water and a good bristle brush. This has led to a few discoveries.

1. I never shed hair in the shower, only on my brushes

2. My brushes quickly get disgusting

Off to a good bath!

wpid-20140217_092741.jpgyou’ll need a sink

In order to do this, mise en place, people, mise en place. You will need a sink, your hair brushes, regular dish soap, white vinegar and a towel. I have my old bristle brush that I use as a scrubber to clean out my new ones. It works very well, let me tell you. You should see what kind of delights I can get caught in a brush!

wpid-20140217_092850.jpgmy wonderful kent brush with a cleaning tool, my regular brush and my sacrificed not so great brush.

First, I pull out 10 pounds of hair. Okay, not that much, but there’s a bit in there.

wpid-20140217_092946.jpglet them hang out with some dish soap

I let them soak for about 15 minutes or so and then get to scrubbing away. It comes off really easily, thank God, so it’s not too much of a tribulation. Then I rinse them well and drain the sink. Refill the sink with white vinegar and water.

wpid-20140217_095538.jpgthey sell it by the truckload

The vinegar will break down the soap and get rid of the suds. Soak them again, maybe give them another scrub and shake the drops off. Quick rinse.

wpid-20140217_095735.jpgit’s like being at a spa

Use the ugliest and oldest towel because you are too lazy to find a kitchen towel that doesn’t look like a civil war bandage even though you bothered to take a picture of this step.

The brushes will dry in record time and, hurray! Clean brushes ready for use! Trust me, if you’ve never cleaned your brushes, you will be delighted to find all sorts of adventures in there. It doesn’t take terribly long and doesn’t have to be done terribly often.

How To Start A Hobby From Scratch (there’s a prize at the end)

wpid-20140105_151935.jpglet’s start with a picture of my greyhound pondering my eventual murder while wearing a sweater…

All the time people ask me:

“How did you learn how to ________?”

Um,

THE INTERNET!

Not just for:

a cat in a shark costume on a roomba chasing a duckling…

Or:

wpid-storageemulated0GOSMSDownloadPART_1379180553238_IMG956823.jpg.jpeg.jpegterrible #selfies complete with digitally added makeup because daddy doesn’t let you wear makeup, my friend made this for me. I AM PHOTOSHOPPED AS PRETTY AS I FEEL!!!!!!

Indeed, I learned a lot of my hobbies with the help of the internet.

But the internet is a messy place. A very messy place. All links posted on this blog are SFW unless noted and you will enjoy them, promise.

i also love the blues. it will make your soul hurt.

So, how do you get started? Well, pick something! A several years ago I decided (in October, how appropriate!) I wanted to do a container garden at my apartment. This was long before I moved in with my fiance. I figured, since it was October I had more than enough time to learn how not to kill plants. After a ton of research, I came across vermicomposting. Worm farming. Baby Jesus, that was so up my alley I fell into it drunk and woke up throwing up rainbows. It had never occurred to me that I, Brittany Mary, could have my very own herd of worms in my basement. I love worms. Don’t ask why. I don’t even know. It might be from fishing as a young child with my uncles, or the first time someone told me that kitchen scraps can be turned into dirt as a young child. I still remember the first time I saw a compost pile and I remember it was the most fascinating thing to an 8 year old tomboy.  I was hooked on the idea of vermicompost. And is served two purposes.

1.) I could literally start doing this now (remember, it was October) and

2.) It would keep me busy while I was working and researching container gardens and

3.) I could use it in my container garden.

BOOM! Let’s do this thing!

So how do we start?

I have boiled down my “method,” if you will allow me the indulgence, for people who have decided they want to do SOMETHING but they don’t know where to start.

1. Pick Something!

What have you always wanted to try? What have you done before, but stopped doing for whatever reason? Are you passionate about food? Animals? Do you want to make things so you spend less money? What do you want? Do you know someone who does something you want to do? Heck, Google random ehow sites until something trips your trigger.

2. Get on the internet!

Research your topic. Type it into Google. Check out pages dedicated to your chosen hobby. These people are amazing, trust me. If you’re not having the best luck, try Googling your topic and look for forums.  The forums will give you real, hands on, less OMGGUYSCHECKOUTMYPHOTOSHOPPEDIMAGEZZZZONPINTEREST*

*I despise pinterest I want to see what YOU DID, not what you saw someone else DO.

3. GET OFF THE INTERNET (kind of)

Now you need a book. You need all books. I love books. I want to read them all.

wpid-20140204_091440.jpgbook porn.

wpid-20140204_091452.jpgdrool.wpid-20140204_091540.jpgunder my sewing machine. the books are taking over.

I read fast. And I love to read. I can knock out several books in a week. I cannot necessarily afford several books a week. However, behold, the magic of your local library! They usually have the Interlibrary Loan program where you can request books. Request as many as you can.

ledbelly break. Goodnight, Irene

Get every book on your topic. Some will be not so great, some will be amazing. Use Amazon.com to check out the reviews or get book suggestions. Request them via Interlibrary Loan. Read them, love them, buy the ones you love the most. Learn everything you can before you start.

4. Use your imagination

Think about what you want to do. When are you going to do it? How much time will you have? What tools do you need? What will it look like? What is your budget? Imagine yourself doing your project. What space do you need? Where are you going to put it when you’re not using it? This stuff is important. If you don’t feel like you have the time or money right now, you can always put it on the back burner before you invest money and time into it.

john the revelator. your soul will bleed.

5. Go shopping!

Buy or borrow what you need. Do you need flower pots? Ask around if anyone has some in their garage. I got about 40 clay pots that way. A blender? Got that free too. My brother and I have gotten SEVERAL tvs this way. Thrift stores, estate sales, hit them up! Get your tools. Ebay. Craigslist. Freecycle. Or the store. Whatever you prefer, get all the tools you need. No need to get fancy, but be prepared.

6. JUST DO IT, BABY.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK. It’s Hole, of course there’s cursing.

Do it! Give it a swing. Give it the ol’ college try. Practice makes perfect. Plan out. Do. If some idiot in the midwest of the USA

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who can barely walk into the room and not explode into farts can do things, you can too! Try. Try hard. Work hard. Fail. Try again. Don’t give up! Google it again. Read your books. Do it. Just f*cking do it. I know you can.

a reward for reading, Shave ‘Em Dry by Lucille Bogan. Written and recorded in the 30’s. NOT SAFE FOR WORK.

VERY DIRTY BIRDY. MILEY’S HAMMER LICKING AIN’T GOT NOTHING ON LUCILLE.

the crabs walk in like PEOPLE?!?!?!?!?!?!