Drumroll please . . .

It is too cold and snowy to do the silks outdoors. Luckily, I have supportive parents who let me mount them in my room! I feel like Rapunzel from Tangled—I can wake up and start climbing!

The ceiling hasn’t come down yet, so I think we did a good enough job securing it. I’ve been having some great (and warm) climbing fun!


Skating in a Winter Wonderland

I have always wanted to ice skate on a pond. Here in Utah, the weather gets cold, but not usually cold enough for safe skating, especially in the valley. After a few days in the teens, this ornamental pond that didn’t quite get drained all the way was frozen enough to take a spin! Even so, the sun had melted the half of the pond that wasn’t in the shade. Luckily, no wet toes.

Outdoor skating is pretty fun. I had the whole pond to myself, and the rocks made a fun obstacle course.


The Taste of Nature

This week I went to a wild edibles class. We learned about all of the edible plants that grow around town, which turns out to be a lot. In fact, the instructor said that you could go around like a little lawnmower and probably not run into a poisonous plant for several miles (here in Utah). We grazed on Oregon grapes, crabapples, daylillies, rose hips, yew berries, Indian ricegrass, acorns, basil, Malia neglectus, juniper berries, hawthorn berries, pyracantha berries, pine needles, rose petals, sumac, elderberries, and purcelain. And one plant that made my tongue burn for a few hours. I didn’t like that one. But several were quite good. For example:

Oregon grape. A little bitter when you chew it, but a nice sour flavor at first. A lot of people plant it in their gardens for show.

Crabapples. I never knew they were edible before. Crisp, sour, and makes you pucker. I want to try making them into a pie sometime.

Daylillies. These are very popular in the flower garden. The flowers and buds are delightfully crisp and have a flavor similar to raw peas.

Rose hips. Before I took this class I had heard rose hips were edible, but when I tried one I put the whole thing in my mouth and got a bunch of furry seeds. What you need to do is to find the moist and slightly wrinkly ones, open them up and dig out the seeds, and then eat them. It tastes like tangy fruit leather.

Elderberries. Mmm. Not quite blackberries, but juicy and pretty good.

Sumac. Surprisingly sour. I didn’t know that anything besides a lemon could naturally be so sour. You don’t want to eat the seeds, just suck on them or make a drink with them.

I was less impressed with some of the other edibles. Yew berries (don’t eat the seed!) are a pretty red but don’t really have a flavor. We had some previously prepared acorn flour bread and cookies, and I don’t really like the flavor of acorn. Its okay, but I prefer wheat. Hawthorn berries gave me the shivers. Juniper berries are too powerful. They’re better as a seasoning.

Now that I know what is edible, I can’t help but notice food growing all around me. Nice to know that there are snacks sprouting out of the ground!



Bow with a Bow

It’s time to take a bow to the great summer of fun I’ve had. I’ve really enjoyed it, and I hope you have enjoyed my discoveries and my journey with me. School starts in just a few days, so I won’t have as much time to do magical summery things. I hope I can keep this summer going by keeping playful and creative here and there, though, and I will keep posting the things that extend my summer through the busyness.

One of my last projects has been making a PVC pipe bow. It is really quite simple and cheap, and it shoots as far as the child’s bow I got at Cabella’s. It’s been fun to shoot at a cardboard box and to see how far the arrows can go.

I also made some arrows to go along with it out of dowels and duct tape.

I used the following tutorial to make it. I found the plexiglass rods at Lowes sold as orange reflective stakes.


A New Spin

Fidget spinners are all the rage right now. So I decided to make a few of my own. Here is the first kind I made:

All it took was a trip to the craft store for glass pebbles and superglue, and a trip to a parts store for some used skate bearings.

If you want to make one, just be careful not to get any glue where it could rub and slow the spinning. (Or on your fingers . . . you’ll be thoroughly stuck.) Also, it is a lot easier to get it evenly weighted with four instead of three weights.

The pebbles do tend to break off if you’re not careful, but now you’ve got a unique spinner to keep your hands busy.

Here are two other designs I tried: bike chain and acorn.


Tatting Time

I have been frustrated by knitting and crocheting patterns for a long time. With all the dc’s, sc’s, and sl’s, reading one is like reading computer code. However, I have finally crocheted something from a pattern!

My success with crocheting led me to try again with another alluring art: tatting. In the past, I have been able to tat little rings and flowers, but nothing bigger. I took the challenge, found an easy YouTube pattern, and made this beautiful little snowflake.

It turns out that tatting is really pretty easy once you know what you are doing.  I was able to make the following bookmark by looking at a photo, using only the basic stitch and the picot.

Just more evidence that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

A Touch of Failure

Of all the fun things I’ve done this summer, some of them have not worked as well as I’d hoped. For instance, I had this really great idea to get more garlic in my diet, since garlic is really good for you. It has all kinds of vitamins and minerals, it repels insects, and it has special benefits to your stomach. (I don’t remember all the details, since my plan to ingest it didn’t work.) I really don’t like the taste of raw garlic, and one bite can leave that flavor in your mouth for hours, even days. So, my plan was to chop up raw garlic, then put it in mini ice cube trays with a little water and freeze my own wholesome garlic pills.

I tried to swallow one with a glass of water, and it was purely disgusting. Imagine a cold clump of garlic breaking apart in your mouth, oozing out flavor as you hurriedly choke down the cold, lumpy bits, and feel the coldness travel all the way to your stomach. It didn’t eliminate garlic breath, either.

Other fails include these:

  • Trying to clean some rusty chains with vinegar. I let them soak for too long, and now they’re rustier than they were before, and my hands got covered with hard-to-remove rust stains.
  • Making a nest material supply for the birds. I thought I did a great job making it, so I guess it wasn’t really a fail. But the birds didn’t use it.
  • The ant farm. Those sneaky ants all escaped after all my hard work. Still lots of fun though, and I apparently extirpated the anthill that my mom has been trying to get out of our garden for years.
  • My poor fairy garden. It dried up and died. But the moss is doing well, and I have more room on my desk without it. I’ll have to try again on that one, though, with some hardier plants.

Failure is a part of success, and where hobbies are concerned, there aren’t any real fails unless you stop having fun. So, even though my garlic pills were a terrible idea, it was actually a lot of fun to see my sister’s reactions to my face as I ate one.

One type of failure is getting rejected. I’ve had a great time watching 100 Days of Rejection, where an entrepreneur decided to conquer his fear of being rejected by intentionally making one crazy request a day. He is a really friendly and polite guy, and a lot of his crazy requests weren’t even rejected! Here is one of my favorite videos:

It’s good to remember that people often really do want to help you. However, I also like that he gets better at being persistent as the 100 days progress. I’ve been motivated to be more persistent and optimistic from watching videos like this one:

So get out there and have some exciting fails!

Still Silking

I hung the silks to their full length for the first time yesterday. It was pretty epic. Now my arms are sore.

How did I get the silks hung in that tall tree? you ask. Well, I didn’t use a ladder. It involved researching some rope techniques for safety.

With a few rope tricks, I tied myself a harness and got my brother to belay me as I climbed the tree.  (Don’t try this at home, kids. DAYOR. [Do at Your Own Risk. I think I’ll just put that at the bottom of every climbing post.])

These are the knots I learned in the process of learning single rope technique (SRT):

  • Alpine Butterfly – good for tying a rope on a limb that can take your body weight and that you can pull down from the ground.
  • Swiss seat – easy rope harness
  • Figure 8 – easy, secure knot that can be tied with an end or with a bight (middle of a rope).
  • Blakes hitch – keeps you from falling, can be scooted up. Not the most secure knot.
  • Weight bag and line – use these to get the rope and other things up into the tree.

It’s pretty fun to just tie a Swiss seat, then hook it to a rope over a limb with a figure 8. You can hold your own weight with the other end of the rope and go swinging.

Did you know people competitively climb trees? Wow, there are more eclectic hobbies than I can keep up with.

Here are a few of the best tutorials:

The instructions on this one were hard to follow because the videos are down, but this is a DIYer after my own heart: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-climb-a-tree-using-only-rope-the-funsim/

I couldn’t get this one to work with the rope I have, but looks like an efficient way to climb a tree if you only have one rope: