Monday, September 1, 2014

Guacamole Chicken Salad

Mix chicken, avocado, salsa, and sun-dried tomatoes. Eat the resulting green slop by itself, or on a wrap, or with chips, or on a sandwich, or on a train, or in a car...

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hollowed Acorn Message Necklace

Top secret tidings could use a disguise. I suppose there are many ways you could go about it, but nutshells seem reliable and rather unobtrusive. Silkworm and I have already hidden keys in walnut shells, but for tiny messages, acorns seem much more appropriate.

Acorn (with top)
Precision scissors (the very very sharp kind!)
Leather gloves or other thick gloves (for protection)
Embroidery needle
Thin string (embroidery works best)

Step One: Carefully remove the top off of your acorn and set it aside. Be gentle so as not to damage it because we will be using it later!

IMPORTANT! For the following step, please use adult supervision!

Step Two: Put on your gloves, then take your acorn nut in one hand and your scissors in the other. With every ounce of caution you can muster, use your scissors to poke a hole in the top of your acorn and cut out the nut from the shell (and whatever else is inside--we found fluff in one!). The shell itself may be a bit soft depending on how freshly fallen it is, but it will dry out faster once the nut is removed. You may also want to cut the hole a bit bigger with your scissors, but be careful not to use too much pressure in the wrong spot or the nut will crack.

Step Three: Sand the top of your hollowed acorn down, intermittently making sure the acorn's top still fits.

Step Four: Cut a few inches longer than a necklace's length of string. Fold the string in half, take the loop at the end, and tie a knot bigger than the holes your needle makes in your acorn. Then thread the two strands of string onto your needle and poke a hole through the pointed bottom of your acorn inwards. If it is too thick to get it through the center, poke the hole just barely to the side where shell is thin enough.

Step Five: Now put your shell aside and take just your embroidery needle (no thread) and your acorn top. Use the needle to poke two holes through the top of your acorn, directly across from each other. The top tends to be a lot thicker and harder to work with than the shell, but just go slow and be gentle. Twist your embroidery needle to kind of drill the hole, if it helps. (Or use an actual drill. We didn't try that, so we don't know if it could make the acorn crack, but if you have a spare to test, there's nothing stopping you from experimenting!)

Step Six: Use your embroidery needle to thread one of each of the two strands coming out of your acorn shell through one of each of the two holes in your acorn top.

Step Seven: Finish the necklace by tying the two ends of the strings together, or making Chinese slipknots for an adjustable necklace.

You're done! The top should stay on nicely, weighed down by itself and held together with those two strings. To put something inside, you just have to slide the top up the necklace to temporarily remove it from the shell.

If it's not confidential, let us know what you use your necklace for!

Other ideas for use:
- To hold very tiny found treasures
- To hold glitter or confetti

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Glitter Galore Envelope

Silkworm and I are both usually turned off by flashiness and glitter, but when it's used in a kitschy sort of way, exceptions may be made. When we were at the craft store the other day, we saw these glitter envelopes for sale and thought, "Absolutely", because even if we're not so into sparkles and glitz, we know getting a glitter-coated envelope in the mail would be inherently grin-worthy.

An envelope
Mod podge (optional)
Plastic surface to work on

Step One: Lay your envelope down on a plastic surface. You shouldn't use newspaper or anything that can rip because just in case the envelope gets glued to the surface at all, you want to be able to peel it off.

Step Two: Paint the flat side of an envelope with glue. Make sure to spread it out evenly.

Step Three: Sprinkle on glitter evenly. Shake off the excess. It's okay if there are a few bare spots; you'll fill those in later. Wait for it to dry before moving onto the next step.

Step Four: Once the envelope has dried, fill in any bare spots by painting on glue and sprinkling a bit of glitter on. Shake off the excess, and wait for the envelope to dry again.

Step Five: When all the glue has dried, paint over all of the glitter with either glue or mod podge to keep the glitter on permanently. Let it dry for at least 24 hours before using the envelope.

Can you say shiny? Not as loud as this envelope can.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Adventurer's Guide to Clothes Shopping at Thrift Stores

I have been to the thrift store just short of 82 hundred times throughout this past month. Perhaps I have fallen in love with the men's section and perhaps I have under $200 all together on pretty much an entire month's worth of outfits, if you use a couple things twice. Anyhow, I wanted to give a behind the scenes look at the inside of my head when it's shopping for clothes. Being an adventurer, I want to find the most durable easy-to-care-for pieces that I won't be afraid to get dirty in, and I want to keep everything cheap so I can spend most of the money on the adventures themselves. If you're a frugal adventurer yourself, maybe you'll find these tips useful!

1. Keep an eye out for imperfections--but be imaginative.
Check for holes, stains, et cetera--but you don't necessarily have to put it back on the rack if you find something wrong! That hole in the sleeve is not such a big deal; the shirt's $3 anyway, and you can just patch it up and make it even better! Don't be intimidated. Sometimes I even search for clothes with holes and stains for an excuse to get crafty with them.

2. Peruse every section.
Don't let your gender, age, or size keep you out of a section of the store. Explore everything! Don't miss out on the comfort of men's clothes or the oversized shirts on the extra extra large rack. And I promise, it doesn't look weird! People naturally assume you're shopping for someone else--or they're doing the same thing, too!

3. Shop for the fabric, not just the clothes.
Keep an eye out for interesting patterns and textures. It is exponentially cheaper to buy used jeans than to buy denim fabric at the craft store, and that goes for regular fabrics, too. You can cut up the things you find and use them for patching, making accessories, or doing other projects. You could also buy t-shirts to cut up to make t-shirt yarn, and then a whole 'nother world opens up.

4. Remember footwear!
While you're probably not going to find the most enduring shoes at the thrift store, at under $10 a pair, maybe short-lasted shoes aren't totally cringe-worthy, especially if they're really rad and at a normal-priced shoe store, you would have whined over not being audacious enough to spend the money. Do check that the soles are still intact and everything looks pretty put together, because fixing shoes is not as easy as patching up holes in t-shirts.

5. Stay away from clothes that demand the dry cleaners.
Most times, these fancy fabrics can be tossed in the washing machine on gentle cycles with cold water, but I wouldn't even bother. I like clothes that are easy to take care of and can

6. Keep an eye on the price.
While thrift stores are known for cheap prices, sometimes a certain piece might be more expensive than expected, depending on if the store keeps track out of materials, brands, et cetera. Make sure to check the price tags on everything and only pay what you feel is acceptable.

7. Bring a few $20's and leave the rest at home.
Keep yourself from overspending by leaving your plastic money (credit/debit cards) at home and bringing a few $20 bills. It's easier and safer to pay with cash anyhow!

8. Dress for the dressing room.
If you're uncomfortable with getting too comfortable in a dressing room, have an undershirt and/or leggings on so you don't really have to get undressed. You can just put everything on over your tight-fitting clothes (except pants; it's too hard to try pants on over leggings because they add practically a centimeter to your dimensions!).

9. Have the right timing.
No one, especially not adventurers who've got places to be and things to do, wants to be stuck in line. Large thrift stores tend to be crowded after working hours in the evening, and even more so on the weekends. Try to go in the morning on a weekday, as early as possible (as soon as the store opens, if you can!). Otherwise, you'll be waiting in line for the dressing rooms forever, and then waiting to pay forever.

10. Be strange and be yourself.
Thrift stores are not one pop culture fashion conveniently thrown together for you with mannequins and posters for ideas. You have the freedom to mix things up and create your own style. Make it completely unique and don't let anyone stop you. Dress your body in removable art. Create yourself.

Essentially, the key is to be so creative that you want to bring the whole store home with you because you know what you could do with each and every piece. Go to the thrift store with the thought in your head that you are making art, and pick out everything necessary to assemble your masterpiece.

Miscellaneous Tips
- Just because the dressing rooms say something like "6 item limit" doesn't necessarily mean there's a 6 item limit. From my experience, if you ask, they'll let you go in with a cart full of stuff.
- Sometimes there's no mirrors in the dressing rooms; you have to walk out to look at yourself. Stand there as long as you'd like and twirl as much as you need to. There's nothing to feel embarrassed about and you're never going to see the strangers surrounding you ever again.
- Feel free to wash all those used clothes you bought in the same washing cycle and even in the dryer, because this isn't their first wash! They've probably been through several washes already, enough to wash out all the excess dye that might have once turned a load of clothes red and to shrink them to their final size.
- I know the perfumes some stores use can be strong and tough to get out, but I've had success hanging my clothes outside to dry. The breeze sucks the smells right out, after 12 hours or so. Also, if your washing machine is energy efficient, it might not use enough water to get the smells out of your thrifted clothes, so soak them in a bucket of water or in the bathtub first and then put them in the wash while they're sopping wet.

Friday, August 22, 2014

3 Ways to Get To-Do Lists Done

As of late, my and Silkworm's to-do list has been growing like a weed. We once had an excuse for letting it get out of control, because I wasn't able to get myself to the store to buy certain craft supplies immediately or I couldn't get us to the park for a photo shoot, so we'd have to write it down somewhere and hope to get to it another day, but now that I have my driver's license--well, now we're just being lazy gardeners. The thing is getting so big, we're afraid to tackle it! It's as if it's grown thorns and armor or something; it's literally that intimidating. But at this point, if we don't do something about it soon, it's probably going to turn into a Venus flytrap and eat us alive. I wouldn't be surprised.

So we came up with a few ideas.

(NOTE: Methods #1 and #3 aren't gonna work so well if you have deadlines on your to-do list, but they're still wonderful methods for "unnecessary" (for lack of a better word) to-do lists, like things you want to make or do rather than essays you have to write or tests you have to study for.)

1. Break your list down into index cards.
When the most intimidating factor is not knowing where to start, break your massive to-do list down into index cards and pin them to a wall with the blank side facing out. Each morning, choose one with your eyes closed and let it become that day's assignment. A tiny to-do list looks a lot more reasonable than that mile-long scroll!

2. Make a schedule.
Write out your day and dedicate every hour to a task, with breaks included. Some people say this method is more stressful and binding because it's so specific, but try to think of it as a guideline. A piece of paper with words on it has no power over you; it's just an idea, and if you come up with something better, by all means, defy the schedule!

3. Pick tasks out of a hat.
Cut up your to-do list into little strips, fold them up, and toss them into a hat or something else you can shake 'em up in. With your eyes closed, pick one out and let it become your first assignment. When you're finished with that one, pick another--and so on. Obviously, there's nothing stopping you from re-picking if you don't like the task you end up with, but try to stick with what you get

Silkworm and I are trying the index card method first, and I'll have you know today's index card to-do list is going rather swimmingly. We're so proud to be getting things done. 5 out of the 12 check boxes are already filled with happy check marks and several weights have been lifted off our shoulders as a result.

Do you have a to-do list ten miles long and slithering around you like a hungry basilisk? Let us know if you try one of our methods to defeat it once and for all, or if you have your own method!