Something’s gotta give

I’m finding my dance card pretty full these days. So full I’m finding it hard to stay awake. I’m grateful I really am, but eventually a decision will have to be made.

I know which way to jump it’s just waiting for the right moment. I hope to get back to film reviews soon. Perhaps even pepper this place with adventures and literary offerings. If you guys have any suggestions I’m open to them. :)

Anyway back to the balancing act.

Book Box

Every year my family holds a Christmas name drawing. We can opt out if the money isn’t there, but most of us participate. There are two rules: the gift must be homemade and it must cost less than $20. Sometimes these rules get bent a little, but neat gift ideas have come out of this little family ritual.

This year I drew my cousin’s young tween daughter. She loves to read and she loves to draw. This is right up my alley. I found a project online for a keepsake box. I documented the process because I thought it would make a great post.

Ok, so here is what is needed to make a keepsake book box.

Items

1 used or disposable book (find a copy or title you don’t mind shredding.)

1 bottle of white school glue

1 small mixing cup (such as film canisters or disposable bathroom mouth rinse cups)

1 paint brush (I liked using one of those sponge brushes I thought it gave better coverage.)

Access to water (you’ll need to mix water in with the glue 50/50)

A ruler

A pencil

A box cutter (especially for a thick book)

An exto-knife

Newspapers

Plastic cling wrap

2 decks of playing cards or a similar shaped object

A stack of heavy textbooks

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First make sure you cover your work area in newspaper. It is just simple school art class glue, but protect your surface.

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Then wrap your cover sans dust jacket in cling wrap plastic. This way when the book dries you don’t leave newsprint all over the cover. Remember this only works with hardcover books.

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Decide where you want the book to open and insert the decks of cards or wooden blocks or whatever inside the book. This will keep you from gluing the book into a solid brick.

Brush the glue/water lacquer mix onto the paper sections of the book. In other words everywhere, but the binding.

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Set the heavy stack of textbooks or other heavy weight on top of the book. Let it dry (preferably over night.)

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Open up the dry book to the desired open spot. You can leave the top pages if you want, but I wanted it to open without that. And there was a pretty awesome sketch of Will Shakespeare I wanted to use later on, so I cut those loose.

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I took the ruler and measured out the margins I wanted for the box. A good 1″ to 1 1/2″ is best. After all you don’t want too thin of a wall or else the box won’t hold it’s shape. Then I used my first cut section as a template.

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Start cutting by your pattern. The deeper you go, the more glad you’ll be you have the box cutter. Eventually the weight of the book will make it impossible to cut all the way down to the bottom.

After a few frustrated attempts I remembered I didn’t glue the bottom down to the back cover. So I turned it over and started the cutting process again. Word of advice, keep your original template so you don’t forget the pattern. I was sure a couple of times I was cutting in the wrong place.

Soon I cut through the whole book. Of course you don’t have to go to the bottom, but it does make a deeper box.

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Now here is where the fun part comes into play. Anything can be placed in the bottom of this box. Colorful paper or fabric, even cute little baubles like buttons. Coat the bottom of the box with glue and add your embellishment. Simple craft glue may be needed for heavier items like buttons or ribbon.

Next add a layer of glue to the box margins and press the two together with heavy textbooks (lay down a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the open book.)

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The final step is brush a layer of glue lacquer on the inside of the box. Make sure you have trimmed all the access edges away with the exto-knife before you do this step. Leave the box open and let it dry (again preferably over night.)

When it’s dry, then remove the plastic from the cover and fill it with a trinket before you wrap it.

Me? I sent a small bundle of colored pencils inside mine.

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So here we are…

It’s been a month (-ish), and I haven’t said much of anything. I have even been ignoring my Twitter feed. It all comes down to I’m busy. Not complaining about it, but I have been burning my candle at both ends.

I’m happy to say that following Mr. Darby’s advice was a real game changer for me. If you haven’t checked out his work, here’s a link… Well I was *going* to give you one, but he has taken his blog down. Well in that case, moving on then.

I am looking into writing for a local tourist publication and I am still getting work from Odesk. I was very happy to see the announcement that Odesk and Elance have now combined forces. :) Wonderful news.

Everyday I tell myself that I will carve out writing time, and everyday my pillow wins the argument. It’s nice to have my husband around more (he has cut back to one job and has slowed down considerably. He’s earned it.)

I see that my fellow bloggers are still thriving. I wanted to thank Cristian Mihai for his post Writing can heal

For anyone who has used writing as a form of therapy; this is the truest of true observations. Thank you Cristian for laying it out on the page, looking into that shadowy mirror, and reminding the rest of us why we do this. If you don’t write for you, then it’s meaningless.

I hope everyone has awesome adventures ahead of them. Hopefully mine are just beginning. ;)

Holiday Gifts

I normally enjoy the holiday season.  In the past Christmas was a way to flex under-used creative muscles.  I will admit that I have never been good at the Christmas tree tradition. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the glow of a light festooned evergreen.  It was the loneliness of the  project with nobody to enjoy the process.  Happily that has changed, but time is still an issue. 

I’m not a Black Friday shopper, I don’t get orgasmic thrills from getting a deal.  I do look for deals, but it’s not a sport for me.  I spend more time trying to figure out what a “practical” gift would be for my family.  Toys are nice, but the average person doesn’t need a reason to “treat” themselves.  I try to think of gifts that a person wouldn’t give themselves.

For example my sister and I saw Wicked live on stage last year.  I think that was my finest moment in gift giving.  Well… maybe it was second to the look on Mom’s face when I remembered she liked that local artist and I bought a print for her on Mother’s Day.  It’s great when parents realize you can be thoughtful.

I’ve always held to that dollar amount has nothing to do with the level of affection.  I try to be generous during this season, but I can’t justify spending the rent payment on a child who will barely remember the year.  Shopping for kids is fun.  But stores have made Christmas too high tech.  A young child enjoys a gift almost as much as they do the bubble wrap around it.  I’m not saying going big for Christmas is bad.  Just going big for the sake of going big is pointless.

My big gift this year is Beauty & the Beast live on stage.  Bigger crowd this year (simply because I haven’t seen these people more than once this year and it would be a great memory.)  I always feel I offer my best gifts when an experience is tied to it.  I like giving theater tickets.  I like giving books (to readers… non-readers can’t appreciate the thought that goes into a literary gift.)  I like giving flowers. Why? Because it engages the senses.  Perhaps that makes me a little of a sensualist.  Although, I think there is a connection that comes with this kind of gift, it’s memory making.

In past years when I couldn’t afford something like theater tickets, I have relied on my creativity.  I have been known to write and frame poetry for people.  The year I worked at a radio station; I researched the year everyone on my list was 16 years old.  I then compiled cds of the greatest hits of the year.  My step-mother loved it!  I really do try to put thought into my gifts.  I guess I’m just addicted to that over joyed warmth in the recipient’s eyes.

What about you?  Are you a go-big gift giver?  Or do you like to keep it practical? What about intangible gifts?  Does any one have any thoughts on their own gift giving style?  You may find it reveals a lot about you.

June Cleaver Guilt

I never considered myself a domestic diva. I always found housework a trying experience. Oh I know how to wash dishes, mop a floor, and vacuum. But I never felt like I did it effectively.

I refer to this as “June Cleaver Guilt.” It’s the feeling that one is not woman enough to keep up the house, cook a substantial meal, and still have the energy to be a lover at the end of the night.

I realize that I have just described the stereotypical female role. No matter how accomplished I look on paper, I still find myself measuring myself by June’s standards. Sure I can own property and vote, but I can’t sew my own clothes. Some how this makes me feel… Incomplete.

I know it’s silly. I know it’s small minded. And yes I know it is chauvinist. I grew up and live in the mid-west, gender roles are still firmly entrenched here. Boys work as farm hands or wielders until they join the military or go to college. Girls are fast food workers or receptionists until they get married or go to college.

90% of those who go away for college never come back. Most of the people I went to school with ended up in the southwest. Every once in a while I see someone who stayed local. We smile and exchange pleasantries, but friendships change after high school. (I tried leaving the area, and it didn’t take.)

I mention this because I find that at the end of a night of ringing phone extensions I come home to a simple breakfast. Normally this would include left-overs or cereal of some sort. My husband is sound asleep in the darkened bedroom. The kitchen table is stacked up with mail and magazines. Laundry baskets are scattered around the table. Dishes sit waiting for their turn in the dishwasher or for me to hand wash them.

I will sing the praises of my husband (even though Sippie Wallace would consider that “unwise.”) My man works two jobs, makes time for his family, and still makes an effort to be useful around the house. I am truly blessed. I am very vocal with my praise. Sweetheart that he is, he will counter with his own lucky choice in me. I know, I know spare you the sappiness.

The point is, there are times when I feel like I fail him as a wife. Yes I earn money, I pay our bills, I treat him to a pizza or Chinese food often. But I don’t have a regular cleaning schedule (and for all his wonderful generosity… cleaning does not come naturally to my husband either.) I often find myself swamped with June Cleaver Guilt.

Can anyone relate to me? Are there any tips out there for a steady cleaning regiment? I know I can do better, but truth be told I don’t know where to start.

Ok, I give up…

I know it’s only day five.  But I can’t get in the groove for a new novel.  I need to go back and work on the original story rework.  I need to build a more sturdy background.  My head is a swirling whirlpool of ideas and themes.  My brain is exhausted.  Good luck to all who have the fortitude for NaNoWriMo.  I’m useless this year.