April 16th, 2014

Homemade “Pudding” Paint Recipe


Mix pre-made vanilla pudding and food coloring and voila! You've made paint that looks as good as it tastes.

So, after making my last homemade paint recipe from Pinterest last month, I vowed to never again use all the ingredients in my pantry on something like paint. I  made a “simple” recipe that fateful day in March. I made it using like 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, and all these other things that could have been used for the dinner…I didn’t end up making.

And the paint turned out like crap. It was thick and like toothpaste. This and this paint recipe was pinned over a thousand times. One thousand times!!! (How does this happen? Or how do 1,000 people pin something that only makes for a good pinnable image. Wait. I know the answer to that.)

But my toddlers don’t or that the paint we slaved away on was crap. Fun to make but crap.  Being the good sports they are, they tried painting with the bad paint. But then their paint kept getting stuck on their paint brush bristles, making it impossible for the Princess Strawberry Shortcake they imagined in their little brain to come to fruition on paper. So, naturally, in frustration, painting time turned into eating time. And when that got old, eating time, turned into throw said paint on the kitchen floor. This took all of 10 minutes. 10 minutes! 10 minutes using ingredients that were for that dinner I didn’t make. And after 10 minutes they still wanted to paint. But there was no paint. The paint we made was on the floor and I had no more flour to waste 20 minutes of my life, again.

So that’s when I saw the uneaten, possibly, expired, vanilla pudding in my pantry and thought, “Why not?” So I mixed the pudding with food coloring and we had paint that actually could be painted on a piece of paper.

That’s it. I wish I could make it sound more complicated to convey my effort, but I can’t. I made paint with two ingredients and my kids liked it. And I think yours will, too.

pudding paint recipe

To make, simply add food color to your pudding. More food coloring equals stronger colors. And less food coloring equals subdued, pastel like tones. The “paint” made from this recipe is not only easy to make and use, it’s also really good (or, so my toddlers say).

The moral the story is this. Use what you’ve got and that while it’s good to sometimes follow the lead of the creative, crafty geniuses of Pinterest. Sometimes it’s good, necessary even, to remember that you have a brain, too. That you, too, can be creative and mix something up wonderful in your kitchen using the uneaten pudding in your pantry.

Have you ever experienced a “Pinterest fail”? What were you trying to make and what made it so bad?

 

 

 


April 10th, 2014

Why Write Everyday?


I don’t know if you remember, but I used to write daily at a blog called “The Short Little Bits.”

It’s been like a year since I’ve written anything there, so please, I won’t feel bad if you tell me that you don’t remember.

But, you do remember, right?

It was my writing blog…

I would write there for five minutes a day, daily, about very” important” things, things like that microfiber couch I gave away and going to a hardware store during my pregnancy….

Everything on that blog was unedited…

Any of this ringing a bell?

Do you remember that blog? Did you read it?

It’s okay if you answer “no” to ANY of these questions. I did so little promotion of that blog because I liked it being like a small destination that lone internet-ers stumbled into in the late of night.

With my third pregnancy, I had forgotten about that blog.

Yes, though I loved it. I forgot about it.

But then I remembered when I looked at my Facebook fan page (Have you liked me, yet?) bio and saw a link to that blog. “Oh, yeah. I am paying for the domain of that place.” And “Oh, yeah I am paying for that domain and not writing there… ever.”

I know it’s so sad that this is how I work. But my memory often does fail me, usually, in moments when it really shouldn’t.

Though forgotten, in clicking on that link and reading my old posts, I realized something. I liked The Short Little Bits. I liked writing there and what it meant for my process in becoming a writer. Along with making me a more efficient writer, writing daily, for the first time in my life outside of academia, had the following benefits.

Why Write Everyday?

1. It’s cathartic. When you write everyday, you are able to release bits of yourself into the universe. In so doing, you actually feel better.

2. Technically, it helps you become a better writer. Writing is a skill that really does get better with practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

3. It allows you to more easily reflect on your life in the present tense. I feel like The Short Little Bits gave like the E! True Hollywood Story, the Behind the Music, the MTV unplugged version of my life these past two years. It gave the version that couldn’t neatly be captured in 1,000 word posts on this or my former blog.

4. It makes you an idea machine. When you get it into your head that you WILL be writing everyday, you force yourself to get into the habit of turning your ideas into something on paper (or a screen). I think some of the writing ideas I’ve pursued on The Short Little Bits are some of the best ideas I’ve shared online. No, really. Don’t believe me? Check out this post and this one and this one. This is good stuff, right? I mean barring the occasional typo/ grammatical error or two, or three, or four.

5. When writing for an audience (even if only one person), you learn to hear better as a writer. I don’t believe that all writing should be done for an audience. I am a strong proponent of journaling as a critical part of any writer’s, any human being’s, writing/life arsenal. Though, I do think that writing for an audience is also a good and necessary skill. Writing for an audience makes you more aware of others. It allows you to hear them when you write. This isn’t always a desired thing, but it’s especially useful for writers with plans to “do” something with their writings.

I don’t write at The Short Little Bits anymore, mainly, because I feel like it has served its purpose. I still do write daily, though, offline. I am less fearful of hitting “publish” and believe myself to be a writer now.

Since my work is done there, I won’t be renewing “The Short Little Bits” domain this year. I will not just delete the blog outright, however. I think I’ll  move the posts here and, possibly, continue them for fun when it feels right. Perhaps. I haven’t figured this stuff out yet. But when I do, I’ll let you know!

That’s all.

Do you write everyday? Do you think it helps you as a writer? 


April 3rd, 2014

Letting Things Go


let it go.

I once knew a woman who I once called a friend.

She was a friend because I called her that.  But she wasn’t really worthy of the title. Even in the beginning, when I thought we were close, she did things that suggested otherwise.

She talked about me behind my back. But she smiled to my face. She lied to me. And when caught in lies, she would tell more lies. She used me. But since I didn’t see myself as having anything worthy of being used, I let her get on with it.

She did all the things that an enemy would do.

But because she was my friend, she couldn’t be my enemy.

So I kept her in my life closet, toward the back on a hanger marked, “for one day.” Since I assumed that one day, she’d stopped doing these bad things and just be my friend. I just wanted a friend then.

But then in January of this year, with my commitment to courage, I started cleaning out my closet. I started cleaning out the things I never wore, the things I wanted to wear but that looked horribly on me, and all the other things that got in the way of me seeing everything else, or that space in between my clothes and the white wall, that space between what was and what could be, what really is.

I got rid of her in that cleaning bit.

I put our relationship in a bag with navy and black suits, faded baby clothes, unbecoming stretch jeans, and over-sized maxi dresses that once looked good but that did little to speak to the kind of woman that I am becoming, the kind of woman I am.

I put all that stuff in a bag marked “for giveaway” and someone else picked them up, I think.

I don’t really know who has those things now. I don’t know what happened to all that stuff, but it’s not with me anymore. So since I can’t see all that stuff, all that stuff is no longer relevant to me anymore.

I mean, I do, at times, have memories of what once was. The sweater that was worn to the party at the first job I ever worked. That woman, or friendship that was bad but that could have changed with divine intervention and Dr. Phil. “Should I really have given that away?” “I could have maybe used it.” Maybe if I gain more weight or get a better mirror to see things.” I do this but then I look at the wonderful things that are  left and that beautiful space in which those things once hung, and I forget again. I don’t remember, again. And in my forgetfulness, I smile.

Letting things go is a muscle, the more you use this muscle, the better you get at it.

I’m getting good at it now.

When’s the last time you let go of something that proved beneficial to your life? What was it?


March 31st, 2014

I’m Going “Green” in April


 

Green Smoothie

The above picture was my breakfast. Here’s my recipe, modified from the Simply Green Smoothies’ Berry Cherry Jubilee.

Berry-Spinach Smoothie Recipe

2 cups of spinach

2 cups of water

2 cups of mixed berries

splash of unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon of flax seeds

1 banana

I’m going green in the month of April with the 30-Day Green Smoothie Challenge by Simply Green Smoothies. I decided to fully embark on this journey into the GREEN about a week ago . I say “fully” because until this proclamation, I have made green smoothies, just not with any regularity.

I’m doing this challenge for two reasons. First, I’m older. I realize that I am at an age where I can no longer put off the very mature-sounding task of taking my health more seriously. I know that I need to eat more vegetables and fruits. I know that these things, or vegetables and fruits, are good for me.

I enjoy these things, or vegetables and fruits, but when given the option between them and some sugar concoction involving chocolate, flour, or sprinkles, I usually go for the latter. And that’s what I’ve  been doing for much of this past month, or eating sugary things that I know are bad for my health. Whenever I say things like this, I always get someone  who reminds me that sugar isn’t all that bad. “Just eat it in moderation,” they say. I know this. But I also know me.

I know I can’t moderately do sugar. I mean, I can start out that way, but then one late night, some emotional upset, and we’re back together until one later night and some emotional upsets become many and I’m knee-deep “in” sugarland.

So I have a problem.  And, and this leads me into reason number 2, my problem was becoming my children’s problem.  Anytime mommy has a cookie, it’s assumed that we should all have cookies…of course. And since mommy was having cookies almost everyday last month, we all had, for the most part, cookies everyday. Being the “responsible” parent I am, I do, or did, try to hide my treats, eating in corners and during their sleep times, but then it felt more like a real addiction. And that felt sad or pathetic or a combination of both. So I say all this to say, I’m looking forward to going green in April. I hope to swap out most (if not all) of my sugary pick-me-ups for a smoothie and feel good about myself after I “indulge.”

 

Do you have a big sweet tooth? How do you indulge without overdoing it? Are you a green smoothie fan?


March 19th, 2014

Photo Tip: Give Yourself Permission to Wander


start here.

You know what’s funny about me and starting new things? It’s funny that when I start things, or most things, I always have in mind that I will eventually quit them.

“There will be an end to this,” I often tell myself when I commence upon dietary restrictions, writing projects, and anything else that I feel uncertain about the meaning or worth of my efforts. This is why I can’t finish a novel or James Frey’s “a million little pieces” for the life of me.

I  usually can’t just flow in murky waters. So what I usually do, when I can, is not commit to treading in these waters at all.

Or, usually, I’ll start with an exit plan in mind. So, for instance, when I said last month that I would be giving up chocolate. With that pronouncement, I already decided in my mind that I would only stay true to this commitment so long as a) I was not given free chocolate cake, b) I got eight hours of sleep, c) I didn’t stumble upon an “easy” chocolate recipe that contained ingredients I actually had in my pantry.

IMG_7371

I never did get eight hours of sleep, so that commitment went out the window. Of course.

It is in my nature, I realize, to give myself leeway out of open-ended commitments that I think I can’t, or, rather, don’t want, to live up to. I do this because I take my commitments and life very seriously. I do this because I’ve been conditioned to think in absolutes and certainties. Everything means something.  Every hobby must lead to a profession. Every good conversation must lead to a friendship. Every start must have a end, a good one, for me to stay motivated. This is my personality by nature. And it’s why when I don’t live up to my commitments, I feel bad and make excuses to explain, to myself, why I didn’t.

I am saying this now because it’s something that I now recognize as a problem. If you’re always looking for destinations, meaning, stated goals, and certainty, you lose sight of what it means to be alive.

wander today.

You miss the unexpected joy and sense of relief that comes when you decide in the midst of new and unfamiliar territory that you are not lost, just wandering. And usually in wandering, you’ll find a new way back to where you wanted to go anyway, or you’ll find someplace better than you thought. That’s the joy of wandering.

This year, I’ve willingly wandered, drifted into new things– new fitness classes at the gym, auditions, new writing opportunities– without an exit plan or clear exit sign in sight.

And in doing more of this, old things in my life are beginning to make more sense. Like photography.

People often ask why I “do photography.” And when I buy new camera equipment, I ask myself the same.

I want to say because one day I’ll make money from this hobby, but that’s really a lie.

I think the joy of photography has always been, without me knowing it, the wandering part. Yes, I enjoy taking pictures of my children. But more than that, it’s one of the few things in my adult life that I’ve allowed myself to grow in without a clear goal in mind for the end. The journey itself is my “why.”

IMG_3203

This is my life tip that can be applied to new photographers or anyone else listening. Wander in the craft and good things will come.

IMG_7721Yes, knowing how to shoot in Manual matters.

Knowing what good light looks like matters. But more important than that, especially when you’re starting out and none of that stuff makes sense anyway, is this: To get better at taking pictures, you must be willing to continue on when you aren’t yet taking better pictures.

IMG_7359

I never had a plan to continue with photography when I started out four years ago. But I kept with it, through bad pictures and a lack of motivation, because I enjoyed the process. My pictures weren’t great, but I kept going because for once, with photography, this new thing I didn’t understand, my desire to tell my story was greater than my desire to give up.

Ah, the beauty of wandering.

Have you ever started something without a clear goal in mind? What was it and how did “it” end up?