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!

Mandalas and Meditation

This is a painted stone mandala. It’s a fun, satisfying craft that isn’t too hard once you figure out how to make the dots round. All it takes is acrylic paint, a rock, and pointy things like toothpicks and knitting needles to make the dots.

A mandala is a design that represents the universe. It can also represent the vibrations or sounds that make up everything in Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a nice idea, and I enjoy looking at them. However, I wanted some design ideas, so I found a book of Buddhist mandala art at the library. It was rather creepy, with fiery devil guys and weird blue ladies. I think I’ll stick to mandalas made of geometric shapes.

There are a lot of aspects of Eastern philosophy and medicine that are very intriguing and useful. Meditation is one of them. There are many different types of meditation, but they all aim to train your mind. It’s easy to see a picture of someone sitting in lotus, motionless, with their eyes closed, and think meditation is pretty weird. Really, it’s mind training. Just like you learn to read, walk, and talk, you had to learn to think. Just as people can develop poor posture while walking, it is also possible to develop poor posture in your thinking.

I understand that if your “thinking posture” is doing fine, meditation may seem like a waste of time to you. But if your posture is a little out of alignment, meditation can perceptibly “straighten out” your thinking. As with physical posture, I think many people don’t notice when their mental posture is a little slouchy, or even when it is totally out of alignment.

I have been meditating for about ten minutes in the morning and in the evening, and it has been very helpful to me. A little time goes a long way while meditating. All you need is a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, and a guided meditation soundtrack with earbuds is helpful (there are plenty on YouTube).

My favorite types of meditation are mindfulness meditation and loving kindness meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves becoming very aware of your own body and of your thoughts, while abstaining from any sort of judgement. Yoga incorporates some aspects of this technique. Although meditation, properly done, does not require any straining or effort, it is really difficult to continually be aware of your thoughts without judging them or getting caught away by them. This type is very good for overthinking, anxiety, and depression, because it helps you separate yourself from your thoughts, which in these disorders are too frequent and distressing.

Loving kindness meditation feels really nice and I’ve seen it translate into my daily life. There are so many problems in this world, so many injustices, which we really can’t control. But we can control our attitudes. In this meditation, you begin by choosing someone close to you that is easy to love, and imagine sending love toward them. After a while, you choose someone else, who you do not know as well, to send love toward. You progress outward, from close friends and family to your community, to your country, and to the world. When you are ready, you can direct the increased love in your heart to someone who has hurt you. Finally, you can direct the love to yourself. Now, this exercise may sound cheesy, but it is based in truth. Things that annoy and hurt are more noticeable than things that are good. Taking the time to consciously remind ourselves of the good in ourselves and others helps us see the world in a more balanced, true way. It also helps us solve what problems we can, by being more understanding, kind, and influenced by truth.

Like everything I post about, meditation is not for everyone. But ten minutes a day is not much of a risk to take to find out if it works for you.


When You Give a Sister a Hermit Crab

My little sister has had hermit crabs for over a year now.  She started out with a nice little 15 gallon tank and 3 crabs. She eventually upgraded to a 30 gallon tank with 7 crabs, and you would think that would be the end of it.

But she is my sister, so you know more is coming.

Now the crabs have a 50 gallon tank, complete with DIY decorations, climbing material, and water dishes. No longer will Crabby, the most adventurous crab, need to resort to escape to get his climbing in.

However, before this came to be we had a lot of work to do. We bought the tank (and stand) on from a man who was done using it as a fish tank. It was stinky and slimy, and caked in hard water residue. Plus, it was quite heavy. With the help of the entire family, we got it bought, transported, cleaned, and parked in my sister’s room. With her ingenuity, she crafted a tank setup that would make any crabber (person who keeps crabs) jump for joy. This included positioning the tank on its side so the crabs would have more horizontal room.

I’m not crazy about animals, but hermit crabs are pretty cute. It’s fun to try something new, and there is always more to learn.

The Ants Go Marching

I’ve always thought ant farms were so cool. Honestly, who doesn’t? When I was younger I was given an ant farm for my birthday. After ordering the ants, I checked the mailbox in anticipation every day—for two months. Those are the days that I think of every time an Amazon package arrives in just a couple of days. Once the little tube of ants arrived, I chilled them in the fridge, as per the instructions, then dumped them in their new home.

I repeated this process about three times. The first time, all the ants died without digging much, and I’m not sure why. The second time, the ants all escaped from a hole in the top. Determined, the third time I made sure the ants were fed and watered properly and sealed all the holes. Well, all but a little hole at the bottom of the container. I thought the ants probably wouldn’t dig that far. I was so happy to see the ants alive and digging heartily right from the start. That is, until a couple of days later when I went into the garage to check on the ants. They had dug a tunnel in a perfect trajectory for the hole, and they were all gone. Sigh. At least my ants weren’t dumb.

I decided I wanted to try again this summer. With some wood, a Q-tips container, glass from a picture frame, and a lot of hot glue, I made my own ant farm designed to be hung on a wall. I filled it with sand dampened with sugar water, to provide sustenance and structural reinforcement.

I dug up a few shovelfulls of an ant hill in the garden to put in it. So far, the ant tunnels have been very visible and numerous. Unfortunately, the day after gluing it all together, the glue peeled up a bit off the glass. I had to reinforce after some escapes. Also, the cute backdrop turned out to be an ant trap, which is a little sad. I have also had a few escapes from the door in the top, which I’ve been taping down.

My motto for dealing with insects is “If there is a hole, it will escape.” I used to have a pet cricket when I was younger, and I wanted to make sure it had enough air. It escaped and popped up (literally) in the worst place possible—my bed.

I like my ant farm’s on-the-wall feature. It makes it easier to look at the ants without crumbling their delicate tunnels by touching it. However, I’ll need to keep working on a design that is escape-proof.



So cute

Ok, if these aren’t the cutest inanimate objects you’ve ever seen. I got them at the craft store, in the itty-bitty section. There is a lot of cute stuff available at Michaels. I’m still not sure how to write on them, but I intend to.

My sister and I decorated the bonsai a couple of months ago. The birdhouse, fence, and bench are all made of popsicle sticks and hot glue.

Sometimes life is about the cute little things that make you smile. Those things are just as real as the more serious ones.