Yosemite

Park Ranger Imp- The end and beginning of Unemployment

Park Ranger Fiery Imp

Well that title is a mouthful!

The Imp scored a job. A temporary Park Ranger for the National Park Services. Can you believe it? The Feds are allowing me to teach people at a National park…you must be so proud to pay taxes ♥

 

Enjoying my anniversary with a glass of bubbly and a great hubby.

Enjoying my anniversary with a glass of bubbly and a great hubby.

Actually, I quite excited about being a Park Ranger. Sadly it’s only temporary, to only last 6 months. I normally do don’t’ take temp positions; I do not like the idea of knowing that I will be unemployed again after a small time period. Too much uncertainty of where the next paycheck will come after I am terminated. The one thing that is for certain, the monthly bills will still arrive in my mail box.

These last few months have gone by so quickly. I was so upset to return to the “unemployed” and “looking for a job” status that I’m actually going to miss it. My terror was built around the struggles of my last unemployment stint. The feeling of loneliness, despair and the undesirable weight of being useless. Sadly, I’ve felt the same while being employed. Those feelings scared me for life, but this time I didn’t let them hold me back.

I can honestly say, I’ve used my time wisely. I spent a few weeks to grieve over my new status of unemployment. That is the one thing I didn’t do last time, I didn’t grieve after I finished college. I was happy that I graduated but didn’t grieve over the death of being a student. I didn’t understand  being a student was a job, I worked hard to learn and then being laid off because my goal was completed. Completion is considered a “death”. You should always grieve over a change in your life, it’s up to you have long you should grieve. Like a death, grieving is healing, healing causes change.

After I grieved…then the Imp was off and running. You haven’t seen everything that I’ve done over the last few months. Trust me, I spared you. I spared you from the frustrations and a lot of vulgar word with failed projects. I should be considered a Hero! For instance, I made an infinity dress…it worked out but I used the wrong fabric and I realized my hips are huge. My waist is much smaller than my hips, after 20 minutes of “Your cloths are too small dance” (Ladies, you know what I’m taking about), I finally got the thing on. But to get it off, I almost had to resort to using Crisco. My husband thought it was the funniest thing on the planet to watch me struggle. See? I saved you from that horrid image and saved myself from the abuse.  In my “Fiery Imp” documents folder, I have a half a dozen blogs written but never finished. I promise you, I’ve made good use of my unemployment.

 

Trying to remove the old and replace the new faucet. 4 hours later...a new facet was introduced into the kitchen

Trying to remove the old and replace the new faucet. 4 hours later…a new facet was introduced into the kitchen

  1. Repainted the kitchen cabinets
  2. Still not finished with the kitchen, but I have ideas
  3. Chandelier make-over
  4. Lots of tested recipes
  5. Book 3 of the Game of Thrones finally finished and started book 4
  6. Applied to over 30 Federal job
  7. 10 referral letters for Federal jobs
  8. Only 1 job interview
  9. Fancy 7th wedding Anniversary!

 

Camp Creek Campsite

Camp Creek Campsite

10.Tried and loved Yoga (but ran out of money for classes)

11. Gold expeditions (another planned before I go to work)

12. 2 camping trips

13. 2 lake trips- including trying to wakeboard

14. 3 local festivals

15. Many hangovers

16. Many many hours spent laughing, crying, humiliating and catching up with good friends.

17. #15 and #16 go hand and hand

As I look back, it wasn’t that bad being unemployed. Circumstances were different, but the results were more satisfying.  I figured my unemployment would last a few more months and didn’t expect my stupid kitchen cabinets to take so long, I had more things planned;

Gold and black sand inside of a red gold pan. First time using the Bazooka!

Gold and black sand inside of a red gold pan. First time using the Bazooka!

  1. Shampoo the carpets in the whole house
  2. Set all of the rock pavers in the ground around fire pit
  3. Have a garage sale…which means cleaning the garage
  4. Find more gold
  5. Going to the beach
  6. Going to Oregon (Selma or Brookings)
  7. Lose weight (Yeah right, not going to happen)
  8. Run (Yeah right, not going to happen)

Besides the inevitable by returning to unemployment this January, I am truly excited to become a Park Ranger. I enjoy talking with people, speaking to a crowd and the challenge of teaching people history of the local area. What better way to spend your summer (besides a cocktail on a beach) outdoors among history! I wouldn’t have applied to this job if I wasn’t passionate about the responsibility. This job may not pan out to anything afterwards, but I know it will be valuable to me in every aspect. I can’t describe my enthusiasm in this blog…I suck at English too much to use descriptive words and phrases. I guess I’ll let John Muir say it for me:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike. – The Yosemite (1912), page 256.

Half Dome, Yosemite, Winter 2006

Half Dome, Yosemite, Winter 2006

Blueberry and corn salad without the Quinoa

Blueberry and Corn Summer Salad

As you all know, I’m re-painting my kitchen. That’s such a simple way to put it. Sanding….painting…sanding…drilling…priming and so on. In between all of that, the Imp needs to eat and so does the Imp’s mate.

I’ve seen corn grow from a seed to tassel to full grown ears because of a small garden my father would grow every summer. Now I’m blessed with living among the famous Brentwood corn, which I purchase from the local fruit stands. No one can beat fresh corn from your own yard but Brentwood corn is the best. I’ve often heard the story of my Grandfather going all the way to Brentwood to pick up corn right before I was born. My family loves Brentwood corn but on that day, I won out. I was so cute that the Brentwood corn was null. Yes, my family compares me with corn.

I am a corn snob. I am a salad snob. I am a tomato and cucumber snob also. Ok…I just love my fresh veggies. I blame that on our summer gardens with; fresh cucumber, tomatoes, green beans and corn (yellow, white and bi-color). Mom would just shave the skin off of the cucumber and had me a salt shaker, there was lunch.

This recipe that I bring to you, will bring all of the freshness summer can give…except the blueberries but due to globalization, we can have them year around. The honey is local, the corn is local and supposedly all of the other ingredients besides the cilantro. Give it a shot, you will not be disappointed!! My parents are known for their potato salad…this salad is not mine but will be brought to any gathering that this summer has to offer.

Here is the original link to the salad, from Two Peas and Their Pod. Great website for recipes and what not’s. Check it out!

http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/blueberry-corn-salad/

The beginning of my future salad, a baby cucumber.

The beginning of my future salad, a baby cucumber.

When I first found this recipe, it was for  cucumbers. I now grow my own little garden and usually have a good turn out. A few years ago, I had tons of cucumbers and squash. The squash had invaded most of the container planter. The cucumber had rapped their little arms over my greens beans and suffocated them out. With all of the mayhem, I had plenty of cukes and squash. This year…I separated the hoodlums from the general population.

 

Cucumber Death Grip

Cucumber Death Grip

 

 

This year, I should still get quite a few cucumbers. With Brentwood corn in full swing, I can make the salad anytime. The only change I made with the recipe above is added 1 cup Quinoa, only 4 ears of corn and doubled the sauce.  Please see my notes below on how I’ve changed the recipe and how it may help you make yours!

 

 

Blueberry Corn Salad

Ingredients:Stuff for salad

6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked ← I only used 3-4 ears

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cucumber, sliced ← Seeds removed

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup of Quinoa (optional) ←  I thought quinoa would make a nice addition to the salad.

It adds a great nutty flavor and adds a little bit more protein. It will double your salad amount.   

Chopped!

Chopped!

Sauce:

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 

Directions:

1. In a large pot, bring water to boiling. Add corn. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from the cobs. Discard cobs. ← I do not blanch my veggies, especially corn. I feel it takes out the flavor and is pointless. Just cut up the cobs and move on.

Easy way to remove corn kernels from cob. Simply add a small bowl and cut the cut on top of it. This way the kernels just fall to the side and you can cut all the way down the cob.

Easy way to remove corn kernels from cob. Simply add a small bowl and cut the cut on top of it. This way the kernels just fall to the side and you can cut all the way down the cob.

2. In a large serving bowl, combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over salad and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. I doubled the sauce when I added the Quinoa. After making this salad a few time, you probably will not measure your sauce ingredients. Brentwood corn is supper sweet, so I may add less honey or LESS lime juice Last time I made this, the blueberries were tart, so I added less lime juice.. Go by taste because of the sweetness of the corn and blueberries.

Note-you can make this salad a day in advance. It keeps well. ←Only if you remove the seeds from the cucumbers. Cucumbers release their juices once cut open, this will dilute your sauce and make the salad running.

Finished meal with the Quinoa…Quinoa is not very photogenic.

Blueberry, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Blueberry, Corn and Quinoa Salad

Brussel Sprouts with Onion- Bacon Marmalade

Bacon Marmalade pt. 1- First try

The Imp cooks! Ok, I try.

This was my first attempted at Bacon Marmalade. Yes, you read it correctly, Bacon Marmalade! This recipe isn’t a jam, its more like a sauce with bacon in it. Let me explain how we discovered this fantastic meal.

My husband and I just celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary in Glen Ellen, California. Glen Ellen is located in Sonoma Valley, also called Valley of the Moon, which is known for their vineyards, wines and Jack London. We stayed only one evening at a beautiful bed and breackfast, the Gaige House (http://www.gaige.com/) . That is a whole blog post in itself, but trust me, the creek side Zen room can only be complemented by a nice fine champagne and chocolate while you sit on your private wood deck overlooking the creek. Anyway, back to the food!

We were told by the inn’s host, that the Glen Ellen Star (http://glenellenstar.com/) restaurant was owned by a chef that was from the French Laundry.  My husband owes me a date at the French Laundry (which we will never be able to afford), so we had to give this a try. Our meals were fantastic; we went out of our safety zones and ordered something that we wouldn’t normally order. As the cook had explained to me, this would be the best place to leave our safety zones because it will be the best that you ever had. So, I ordered octopus and he ordered a bass. My husband fell in love with the bass, my octopus tasted great but I couldn’t get over the fact it was an octopus. I love octopus and I’m a former squid, so it just didn’t seem right. The cook was correct, if I was ever going to try it, the Glen Ellen Star would be the place. What we were mostly impressed about was the brussel sprouts with a Bacon Marmalade.

My husband is now willing to drive the hour and half back to Glen Ellen every week to eat the brussel sprouts, to save us on gasoline, I’m going to try to make it myself. I looked for advice at the all knowing Google machine and it spit out a few recipes. People mostly talked about making a jam. We didn’t eat a jam marmalade at the Star, we had perfectly blacken sprouts with a chunky, crispy bacon with magic sauce everywhere. Seriously, magical sauce. I did find this recipe on the link below, and I gave it a shot. I know it won’t be the same, just by the amount of onions it has. I will follow the directions the first time and then work my way through until I can match the Star’s. I really doubt my husband will mind.

Patio Daddio BBQ- Onion Bacon Marmalade

http://www.patiodaddiobbq.com/2011/11/onion-bacon-marmalade.html

Onions and Tyme, a lot of onions and tyme

Onions and Tyme, a lot of onions and tyme

Here is my review of the Bacon Marmalade…

  1. Sauté some onions, fry some bacon and add sweet BBQ sauce instead- It will save you alot of time.
  2. Takes a lot of time to simmer down 4 lbs of onions- Once you became impatient ant put the burner on high, watch out, it will still burn the bottom.
  3. Taste fantastic on burgers!- It’s like In & Out’s animal style, just with bacon!
  4. Taste ok with brussel sprouts- I need more stiffness to the bacon.
  5. Too many onions- Well duh..it is a Onion Bacon Marmalade, the word “Onion” does come first so I should assume it the main ingredient.
Taking FOREVER to simmer down the liquid

Taking FOREVER to simmer down the liquid

Was this recipe bad? Not at all! It had great flavor in-between the massive amount of onions and such a small amount of the bacon. The recipe also made a generous amount, not too much and not too little. The 4 lbs of onions is what gave it the abundance, I had just enough left over after the brussel sprouts to add to my cheese burger the next night. Give this Onion Bacon recipe a try, you will not regret it, but I want more!

 

 

Here is my suggestions to myself for the next time around-

  1. Add some heat- Just enough to counter act the sweetness
  2. More Bacon less Onion- I’ll make this receipe my own, with less onions.
  3. Garlic- Maybe, still thinking on that one
  4. Possible crock pot- Once again, I haven’t thought that one through. May take the lid off so the liquid could evaporate. Or take out the liquid and boil it down.

See? Not too many changes. The changes I plan to make will alter the receipe significantly, which is fine…I just want more Bacon Marmalade!

Penis Cabinet

Kitchen Makeover- An Overview

Yes I know, a blog website is meant to be updated and I have not done that, I am sorry.  I haven’t been sitting on my butt, simply put, I’ve been painting my kitchen for the past month.

A month to paint a kitchen? Yes, I’m just painting the cabinets, it is taking quite awhile, a lot of sweet and tears but I think it’s well worth it. So lets begin, at least the overview.

Before the chaos started.

Before the chaos started.

I’ll spare you the details of how to strip your kitchen, there is plenty of information on the internet. I could bitch about all of my struggles instead…nah, you probably hear enough complaining through your day. Let’s be positive then, how would giving my kitchen a makeover allow the opportunity to better myself.

1. Keeping my mind busy- otherwise you’ll drive yourself crazy.

2. Working towards a goal

3. Giving my kitchen a open and welcoming feel- onstead of the horrible green walls and a penis on my cabinet door.

4. Something new to learn- how to paint, hand drill and sanding.

5. Surprisingly exercise- the sanding is a prefect arm workout.

6. The rediscovery of yoga- ok, it has nothing to do with repainting my kitchen but my kitchen caused me plenty of stress that needed to be released.

This list is probably much longer, but those are the main positives for destroying my cabinets.

The cabinet frames all sanded down...phew what a work out!

The cabinet frames all sanded down…phew what a work out!

I’ve found that boredom is the worst part of unemployment. You’re sitting along in your house with little or no money, applying for jobs and receiving negative emails that your job application was not accepted, you start to become hard on yourself. You have to stay positive! I know that hard to do, but keeping your mind busy with something new or what you enjoy can make a huge difference on your state of mind. There is no reason, you should be hard on yourself being unemployed. It’s a waste of energy.

Use your energy towards a goal. It makes you feel better and gives you a reason to get up in the morning.  You have something to be proud of and even more importantly, you have something to talk about to others. When I was unemployed in 2011, I found myself discussing the same things over and over again with my friends. No wonder my friends didn’t want to hang out with me, I was a complete downer! Dismantling the cabinets and my frustrations and rewards, what great discussion piece. Most likely, your friends share your troubles with paint, sanders and drills.

Painted drawers, what do you think?

Painted drawers, what do you think?

Now for the last point; yoga.  I view this project as a job, I take days off and I only work until about 5pm. I had mentioned earlier in a past post, that keeping a schedule helps with the anxiety and gives you a purpose. I’ve given myself a schedule, including days off therefore; I deserve some R&R. Practicing Yoga seemed appealing to me because of the first high I received the movements with one class back in 2002. Finally, I felt that my body and mind needed something more, especially my flexibility and even soreness from sanding. With my anxiety, Yoga has always been appealing to me due to the mobility and the practice of meditation. I cannot meditate as of yet, but give me time, anything that will help my anxiety is greatly welcomed.

I know this was a brief discussion of what I’ve done in the last month. I’ve been kept busy with my 7th year wedding anniversary, friend’s birthdays and other gatherings. I’ve been busy, trust me. Tales of my anniversary will come later and probably some bitching about my kitchen. I guess I’m not going to let you guys off that easy without hearing some complaints :-) Hopefully, it won’t be another month until we talk again.

Of course, I had my manger onsite.

Copper inspecting my work

Copper inspecting my work

 

 

IMG_4786

Tutorial of the Yarn Ball Chandelier

Ask and you shall receive! I’m honored that you had requested a step by step guide for my yarn ball chandelier, truly I am. Without further ado, here we go and I hope I don’t disappoint.

Materials that you will need-

Yarn Balls

Large bottle of Elmer’s Glue- 16 oz (maybe even another small one as back up)- &7.99 at Michaels, but I found a bigger bottle (a gallon size) at Lowes for $14.99.

Yarn- I used 3 different colors of Sugar n’ Cream, It doesn’t take much for the small yarn balls. But I needed a FULL color for the outer ring. Please remember I wasn’t using the large yarn, but the small reems. – $1.99 each

Big Bowl- for your glue/water mixture. Don’t worry about ruining your bowl-Elmers glue washes off with water.

Tomato Cage- I used this to hang my drying balls. Instead of using a tomato cage, you can hang a string between two solid places and let the balls dry, like a clothes line.

Balloons- I only used 8 yarn balls on my chandelier, you can make more or less. Over the whole project, I used about 16 balloons. I found two packages at Target for $1.50 with 15 balloons each. This gave me plenty of extras for trial runs.

Punch Balloons- you know, the ones you used to play with as a child. Has a rubber band on one end and the balloon is huge. I also found a package of 5 at Target for about $3.

Decorative balls (optional)

Shinny Crystal Glass pieces, or plastic – I found these at Michaels (a hobby store) in the aisle with the foam balls, decorative rock, and glue guns which is around the floral section. These little crystal pieces are used inside of flower vases to give it some sparkle.

**Note- I also had used the decorative glass beads (with the flat bottoms), which would also give it some shine. I added back sand (found in the same aisle) to cover the white of the foam ball. These glass beads fall off. I even glued the round end to the foam ball, and they just don’t want to stick. If you find a way that these little buggers will stick, let me know!

Glue Gun and Sticks

Thin wire (Sorry, I don’t know the gauge because the wrapper fell off years ago) – Wire that is thick enough, like a Christmas hook, to be stable but easy to bend.

Random other stuff

Fishing line, Scissors, Paper towels, Hooks

Getting Ready-

  1. Line your floor or your work space with paper towels or a sheet or whatever you have, the glue will splatter. I find that using an old, windshield cardboard insert that keeps your car cool in the summer, works great for these kind of projects!
  2. Take a large bowl and pour in the Elmer’s glue- I would use close to the whole bottle (16 oz) but if your just testing, put in 4 oz or less. Add enough water to dilute the mixture, but not to where it’s mostly water. I would test the stickiness with my fingers, if it felt to watery, I would add just a little bit more glue.
  3. Blow up your balloons! Make them different sizes; I used only used one “large” ball, which was about 16 inches in diameter, the smallest being around 4 inches. The small ones, only took one breathe to fill the balloon.
  4. Blow up your large balloon- the punch balloon. Make the diameter of this balloon slightly smaller than the diameter of your chandelier. My chandelier was 51 inches, so I made my punch balloon, about 50-50.5 inches. Your outer ring will be smaller because it needs to hang on the chandelier, make it too small and you will see the frame sticking out too far from the ring.
  5. Either build your “laundry line” to hang your balls, or set up your tomato cage. Once you start putting your hands in the glue, forget about doing anything extra! So set up everything before you start, and have all of the materials ready at hand, including scissors.
Sugar 'n Cream COTTONG yarm

Sugar ‘n Cream COTTON yarn

Glue and water mixture

Glue and water mixture

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yarn Balls Creation Station-

  1. Find the balloon that you wish to wrap, and start pulling out your yarn. I did not measure, only went on gut feeling. I tried a few balls with less and a lot of yard to cover the balloon. I let them dry and then I could decide the amount of yarn that I wanted to use. Cut the amount of yarn that you want to use and let it soak in the glue/water mixture.
Yarn in glue

Yarn in glue

2. With balloon in one hand then hold the end of the string with your finger (same hand that the balloon is in). As you begin to wrap, squeeze the access glue water from the string as you wrap. This is a very important step, too much glue and it will all slide off and take forever to dry. The technique that I used, was to wrap the balloon by moving the balloon. Think of it as how they make cotton candy, they move the paper stick around to collect the fluffy sugar. This way I can wrap the balloon and squeeze the glue water out of the yarn. I also found it handy to use a LARGE bowl so the excess glue will drip right back into the bowl..

3.After you have used all of your pre cut yarn and wrapped the balloon, tie a small piece of yarn to the top of the balloon and attach it to your tomato cage or clothes line to dry.Your yarn balls should dry overnight, if still wet, be patient and let them to dry completely.

4.Repeat all of the steps above for all of your decorative yarn balls.

Random wrapping of the string! Stress free!

Random wrapping of the string! Stress free!

5. As for the outer ring, this will cover up the frame of your chandelier, same steps as above but only wrapped around the middle. The outer ring, is a little bit more difficult because of it’s size. I spun my balloon while it was sitting in a lined (with paper towels) bowl, and wrapped the yarn around. I made my outer ring about 7 inches wide. Keep your yarn strains tightly together and make zig zags to give it some depth. I used a lot of yarn to create this, you can even add another color to it! Word of advice, use many different strains of yarn. Don’t do it all in one shot, that will cause a higher probability to knotting. Add as much, and as wide as you wish. The yarn will slide a little as you get further down the balloon, so you may want to add most of it towards the top of the balloon.

***Note*** The bowl that holds you outer ring, line it with paper towels! As your glue drips and dries, it will cause your balloon to stick. With any slight movement will then cause your balloon to pop. Trust me, if your balloon pops, it sucks

***Note*** This will take a lot long to dry, expect two days. I didn’t wait for mine to fully dry and you can tell in the middle because there is sagging. However, with it not being completely dry allowed me to form it a little better. It’s a catch 22.

6. Once dry, carefully separate the balloon from the yarn. I used a zip tie and slipped it in-between the two. You can use anything that is flat, a stir stick would work nice. If you don’t have anything, you can push the balloon (between the yarn) inwards and separate them. You can hear the glue breaking, that fine. If you don’t do this step, as the popped balloon deflates it will take the yarn with it. Other people put Vaseline all of the balloon first before wrapping, I thought that would just make life harder. Once separated, pop the balloon and you’ll have a finished product!

Decorative balls-

Clear decorative glass gems, found at a hobby store, is glued onto the foam ball.

Clear decorative glass gems, found at a hobby store, is glued onto the foam ball.

  1. Before you glue anything to the foam balls, add the hanging fishing line. I would run a long piece of wire; with the fishing line attached to the bottom and feed it into the foam ball. You may feel better about hanging these by adding a bead at the bottom to hold the weight. If not, please tie a large knot!! After you have inserted the fishing line, add the hook to the top.
  2. To add the crystals, just press the object into the foam ball to make an indentation. The add some hot glue to the indentation and place the crystal into it’s new home. Keep adding the decoration to the foam ball until the ball is completely filled.
  3. I used small rocks that I had found over the years, decorative sand, glass beads. You can use anything that you wish! Try to find things that will reflect light, for some added sparkle.

 

For hanging decorations-

I wanted a uniform but scattered look to the hanging objects of my chandelier. When I added the fishing line to each decoration, I made the lengths longer as I went. I used a sparkly ball closer to the top to catch the light and the yarn balls further down. I also hung them in a spiral, starting with the longest in the middle (which is actually the largest ball) and worked my way around the frame until the last decoration (and shortest) was used. I used smallest/shortest decorations together and ended with largest/longest. I tried to give it a cascade look.

Sorry bad picture- it looks random but I actually cascaded the length of the fishing line.

Sorry bad picture- it looks random but I actually cascaded the length of the fishing line.

To assemble-

Place your outer ring on your chandelier. The outer ring will feel fragile, and it is, but you can still be a little rough with it. Because you had made it slightly smaller, the ring top should just rest on top of the chandelier frame. The outer ring should be wide enough to cover the lights (or smaller if that is what you wanted), so let the ring hang from the top part of the frame.

If too much yarn becomes separated, just add some hot glue to it and put it back into place. I tweaked mine a little bit that way, its inevitable for the yarn not to separate a little so don’t worry if this happens.

Finished outer ring, this was take 3.

Finished outer ring, this was take 3.

After you’ve place it’s crown, start adding you decorative balls as per the note above. If your using heavy decorative balls, add them to the frame evenly so your chandelier doesn’t list to one side.

Keep in mind, you can always do different things throughout the year. Maybe add Christmas ornaments, plastic Easter Eggs, and just imagine the creativity for Halloween! Change the length of the fishing line also, or make them all even. The possibilities are endless! Hopefully this project was on the inexpensive side, so you can play with it without feeling guilty of wasting any money!

I hope my tutorial was helpful and didn’t leave you even more confused. If it has, please let me know, and I will be happy to make any corrections. Sometimes it’s hard to get things out of ones head and write them down as a procedure!

Rustic chandelier

Chandelier Make Over

I have always hated my chandelier with its’ 1980’s glassware and a black metal frame with red tips where the lights go. Funny as it is, the “flippers” of our house painted the tips red, of course to match the pea soup green that creates our kitchen walls. As I think about it, there isn’t much that I like about my kitchen.

Tile counter tops, chipped cabinets, old oven, an useless dishwasher and don’t forget the penis. Yes, I said penis. One of the cabinet’s wood grain looks like a penis, I shit you not. I’m planning to paint my cabinets, but I’m afraid that the penis will stay. It’s a nice icebreaker for new guest and it’s just plain funny to say that you have a penis on your cabinet door. Anyway…back to my current project.

I dislike most of my kitchen, therefore; I’m going to spend my off time, trying to make it my own. Of course, we don’t have much money, so everything I’m trying to do will be money savvy. How will I make this on-going kitchen remodel under a middle class California wages? By NOT tearing out my cabinets and putting in new ones, adding a nice and accurate oven or putting in my dream granite and quartz crystal counter-tops. Instead I use some stripper, paint and new hardware. Today, we’re starting with the chandelier.

Hang the yarn balls from the metal frame

Hang the yarn balls from the metal frame

My husband and I still haven’t picked out colors for the kitchen, but that didn’t stop me from messing with the idea of a new chandelier.  Just ask my mother, I had already picked out a new one at Home Depot after about a month of living in our new house. The chandelier and myself have had many arguments and many agreements in the past 5 years, finally we both needed some change.

A few Christmas’s ago, I had hung some ornaments with some garland from the chandelier and I thought it look quite nice. A few days ago, the “Bubble Chandelier” made its way onto my computer and how you can make it at home. Bringing my Christmas memory back and this new idea of a Bubble chandelier was fantastic! I loved the idea of objects floating around and catching the light with each twirl. The bubble idea was even better! Who doesn’t like bubbles? Sadly, it’s April and there are NO bubble like ornaments around and I wasn’t going to purchase them off of Amazon. Plan B was put into effect.

 

The glue and the balloons to the size that I want to create my hanging yarn balls.

The glue and the balloons to the size that I want to create my hanging yarn balls.

I don’t understand how Plan B was actually formed in my head but it was similar to this…

  1. Go to hobby store
  2. Look around for ideas
  3. *Bing* Yarn balls
  4. I have Elmers Glue!- Score!
  5. Threw away all of my yarn- Damn it
  6. I shall make a yarn ball chandelier

The glue and the balloons to the size that I want to create my hanging yarn balls.Ok, stop laughing, I know it’s a dumb name but can you think of a better one? Huh? I was thinking of Italy’s back country, or even Napa’s. Warm, earthy, sun rays hitting you in the eye causing a few minutes of blindness. Yes, Napa’s county will suit my mental image (never been to Italy, I can only remember my experiences in Napa).

Yarn Balls! All you need is glue, water and a balloon. Google if you would like details on how to make these. In short, make a glue/water mixture (not too watery), soak yarn in glue and then wrap around the balloon. Wrap the yarn in any direction and once finished wrapping, hang the balloon up to dry over night. Once dry, separate the yarn from the balloon  and then pop the balloon. Yes, it’s that simple.

Random wrapping of the string! Stress free!

Random wrapping of the string! Stress free!

Finished Ball

Not too messy, have a roll of paper towels just incase of any splatter and to help with sticky fingers.

 

What I liked about the yarn, it has a rustic look, yet mysterious due to it’s uneven strains. I picked 3 main colors, and one to hide the chandelier frame. You can choose what ever color you like and the size of the balls, that’s the fun of it, you choose. This project is so cheap anyway, if you make a mistake with the colors or size of the balls, start over. I made a few test runs, and found that using COTTON yarn was the best; I did not like the acrylic. The cotton soaked up the glue/water mixture, and left solid lines of yarn. The cheap acrylic yarn fuzzed up and soaked up too much of the mixture and left the ball looking cheap. I wanted precise lines, clear define lines within the tangled ball.

Example of how big you can make these yard "balls"

Example of how big you can make these yard “balls”

Finished outer ring, this was take 3.

Finished outer ring, this was take 3.

The chandelier large outer ring, would be used to hide the metal frame of the chandelier. I used the biggest balloon possible, the punch balloons that you used to play with as a child. It worked great! Sadly, I had to make three outer rings, the first one was due to the balloon popping. This balloon is large, so either hang it or let it sit inside of a bowl but line it with paper towels. As the glue dripped down the balloon (which was sitting in a bowl), the glue dried and when the balloon was moved it ripped and popped. I learned my lesson, but it was easy to duplicate and gave me some practice on what I wanted. The second was too thin, and finally I made a large outer-ring which took abut a whole role of string.

 

I also wanted to give the chandelier some sparkle, adding foam balls with decorative rock. As the many little rocks that I’ve picked up on beaches and in parks, I have plenty to make a few decorative rock balls. I’ve even included some fresh water clam shells from the Las Vegas area. I also included some unpolished agates from various locations up and down California’s awesome coast line. I’m also sure that there is a few jade pieces from the Oregon coast at Lone Ranch Beach, Brookings. Oh, how I have plenty of these gems that I’ve picked up along life’s little adventures.

Random rocks that had followed me home

Random rocks that had followed me home

Clear decorative glass gems, found at a hobby store, is glued onto the foam ball.

Clear decorative glass gems, found at a hobby store, is glued onto the foam ball.

My new chandelier has some added special items attached to it. It may seem out of place to see a sharks tooth reflecting some light, but my father gave me that sharks tooth from a rock shop in Oregon. It’s the little details that can’t be bought in a store, the small ornaments that bring back a glimpse of the past, is what makes a home your home. My argumentative chandelier is now a part of the family, decorated with small mementos and a new idea of home decor. Easy project and would highly recommend spicing up your chandelier, it’s the first thing you see when you walk into my house and I want to make a unique impression.

IMG_4786

 

Tears

Empathy

You would think that I’ve had enough writing for one day, considering that I just wrote a 6 page resume for Federal employment. Honestly, this is the first resume that I could actually express most of my talents and experience. I’ve been told that normal resumes for private employers need to be only 1 page long. After you finish your address and education, you’re half way down the page! My military experience takes a lot more than 3 bullets to explain.

I’ve never written a federal resume, because I didn’t understand it’s importance. I also never wanted to use my disability to gain employment. Just because my legs are damaged does not mean I need to stand out in front of the rest, at most, in front of more disabled veterans.

After meeting with my EDD rep today, I felt that there was actual hope on getting employment with either the Federal government or State government. By using my disability, will help greatly with employment. This leads me to two thoughts; disability as an employment benefit (or empathy) and having a disability is the only way a veteran can find work.

I’ve been unemployed a few times; the outcome has always been disappointing with the work I was doing. The work I was trying to fit into was something that I wasn’t built for. I would take jobs because I needed to pay my bills. In pursuing these jobs, I never used my disability, only hoping my education and experience would carry over. No other doors really opened up for me. So was that because I wasn’t disabled? No one could understand my profession?

Now that I am actively using my 10 point preference as a disabled vet and the experience may actually will help with the employment process. Is that empathy? Employers want to hire vets who served their time and now have service connected disabilities that will change their lives forever. We’re a tax write-off for crying out loud. I ask again, is the empathy? Or is it the only way employers will notice us from the rest of the world.

Veteran do not need certain specialties or exceptions, we’re human beings with a brain and great knowledge from our experiences. We did our job well, we’ve done things most people won’t even consider. Even when we get out of the service are labeled and segregated because we’ve made certain sacrifices. Do we deserve a different standard in employment? Do we deserve empathy because we are disabled in one way or another? That’s a decision you need to decide. A personal belief and ethic that is becoming the social norm and a stereotype. Think hard before you make this judgment. Veterans’ are human. Treat us as such. We made our sacrifices for ourselves, our nation and our families.

I have hope. Its 2014, we’re not at “war” and the image of a veteran is being cleared up. Laws are being passed that help us with employment and social services are being implemented. Does this solve all of our unemployment woes? No, plenty of us are still unemployed. The future doesn’t look as grim as it did in 2009 and 2011 when I started to apply for a career. The stigma maybe loosening the rope around our necks and hopefully political shortcomings and decisions are being left out of our past (we were only following orders). I started this blog with the feeling that veterans are always the last to receive a fair share. Stereotypes and stigma has left us to be baby killing machines who love war with our PTSD and love to hold secrets. Hopefully now those stereotypes are dissolving and we can finally start to build our lives, disabled or not.

Spark the flame

The Imp on Fire

This Imp has been misbehavin’! Ha! Actually I’ve been keeping myself busy, too busy, haven’t had time to post anything. Did you miss me?

I’ve been working on a few postings at one time (told you I was busy), and have a few more planned. Hopefully I will make time to make the final touches on my postings, especially about being unemployed.

As you know, I’ve created this blog/website to express what I do to keep my sanity as a jobless imp, even though I haven’t posted much on unemployment , I have kept myself busy. This week I’ve created outdoor curtains for my back patio, prepped 7 crock-pot meals, drank a few beers, applied for more jobs and also tested a crock-pot bread recipe. Doesn’t sound like a lot huh? Since there is 8-10 hours a day to do stuff, you may expect more. Well, sadly, I’ve been nursing my much tamed feral cat, Fluff.

Fluff has been in my master bathroom trying to heal from an auto-immune disease that affects her tissue in her paw pads. The poor thing could barely walk and was under nourished because of the lack of mobility getting to her food. I’ve been researching and nursing her back to health. We already have one medically dependent cat, we cannot afford another. You will be seeing another post, hopefully to let you know how adorable she is and how you can add her to your family as adopted pet. She can’t live outside and without medication, unless my second idea works that I’ve started to research, raw diet.

I’ll spare you this time for the raw food diet rant! Honestly, I’m not truly convinced on a pure RAW diet; I am leaning towards a half raw and half cooked diet for my felines and pup. This type of wild eating may cure or help with the conditions my cats have and may get in the near future (Pantera is pushing 12 years old). We have no children, my little terrorist team mean the world to me. I should be feeding them a better diet, like the one I plan to feed a child once we acquire one. Minimal processed food, occasional fast food (some days you just want shit food! And McDonalds French fries), but most importantly, home cooked meals. I’m not going to say, organic, because that is out of my price range. We need a roof over our head and not just organic chicken! From the websites that I am studying, the prices are no different than I what I already spend, it just more of my time. I think one Sunday (or any day for that matter) every few months, I can spend prepping meals for my family, including the fur balls.

This brings up my prepping operation today. I prepped 7 frozen crock-pot meals and enough bread dough to last a week (depending on how much my husband devours). In as little as a hour and a half, I prepped the meals and took my sweat time. I will include a posting of the crock pot meals once I know that these recipes are tasty. You can find plenty of “frozen crock pot recipes” on the all knowing Google machine. If you can’t wait for my review, here is the link for the crock pot bread.

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2012/05/29/crock-pot-bread-baking-fast-bread-in-a-slow-cooker

And for the bread recipe; (once I receive my unemployment benefits, I’ll be buying their cook book)

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2013/10/22/the-new-artisan-bread-in-five-minutes-a-day-is-launched-back-to-basics-updated

(Unlike a few websites I read yesterday, I will not plagiarize!)

Finally, the back yard curtains! That post is nearly done. I’ve been wanting to finish this project for a year now. I have plenty of time now! I added painter’s cloth curtains to my back patio to add some grace and privacy. Once I clean up my backyard (everything is overgrown and sandy), I will post how my brain figured out a way to accomplish the impossible with aluminum patio structures!

I didn’t forget about my blog, I was just busy!  Prepare yourself for some random Impish activities in the weeks to come. I may even sneak in a gold hunting trip since the weather in California is so beautiful! You know I have to say this, at least once and because I love the Hunger Games, “The girl on fire!” Or “The Imp on fire”!

Kauai

The Good- Part I

Becoming unemployed will cause a waterfall of emotions and reactions. Unemployment can be viewed as a good thing, if you’re in an unhealthy environment or it may a chance to look inward and find a career that you enjoy. By using a problem-solving style of approach, may help with coping with this new lifestyle.

This is the healthiest of emotions and actions one can take when they are involuntarily unemployed. Losing a job can be compared to the lost of a loved one, you are grieving. I won’t be discussing the other emotions during this article (there will be plenty of time for that as we move forward); I would just like to focus on the good. There are more damaging sides of unemployment, if you can focus on how to be supportive and enjoy your new found vacation, finding a new job may not look so bleak.

I believe each person goes through different approaches to cope with job loss depending on what stage that they are in. If a person is stuck in a rut, and is depressed over their new position, he/she may sink into a passive problem-solving style. This passive approach is pushed inwards with a separation from social events, self worry about unemployment and blaming oneself or others. This is a downward spiral of coping mechanisms, but is usually an approach that all unemployed persons go through. It just depends on how long it will last, but becoming actively problem solving has more rewards towards your initial goal of finding a job.

Just as the name applies, these mechanisms are problem-solving when approached with a problem. At the moment, you’re unemployed, let’s find a way out of it and solve this dilemma. Depending on the reason you’re unemployed and the goal you are trying to obtain, will help define how to actively solve your current condition. For the sake of writing a 10 page paper, the problem at the moment is just coping. You are doing everything you can; applying for jobs and lowering spending habits but still need to cope with the anxiety and depression.

Use the job loss to your favor and to help solve your problem of being unemployed by trying to better oneself. Not in the context that you are a bad person and need to change, but to better your position. If at all possible (financially), return to school to earn a higher degree or take a few classes. Get out there, be productive and take control. Become socially active, visit old friend or make new ones, don’t just hideaway and let the depression eat you alive. Start your own business, or a large project. All of these ideas have a common suggestion.

If you notice with all of these suggestions, the importance is giving yourself a goal, giving yourself the responsibility of solving a problem and making your day worth waking up for. You had this once, when you were working, try to create the same atmosphere within your own home. You can even do your daily work routine every day (except weekends), only “work” towards your goal between 8-5 and include lunches and breaks. Give yourself your own job as your trying to find a new one.

I’m not suggesting that this is the only solution to the problem, I am a control freak, I believe that I have most of the control over my life and career with only a small percentage of luck. There are other people who solely believe in luck, that they will be in the right place and the right time.  Others unemployed people are ok with their current position of not working. Others will take any job that is presented to them. We are all different; I’m only speaking about how I cope with it and what is working for me. You must decide on how you can use your unemployment to benefit you. Take note, that you may have already gone through this step or have repeated it multiple times like I have. I want to continue this idea and express what I have done to cope. After we’ve finished discussing the good, we’ll move on to the bad and the ugly of being jobless. I’m sure all of us can relate to each phase in our own ways.

I’ll create Part II to explain my position, how I’ve tried to expand myself, including the reason for this website.

Finished off-centered wreath

Off Centered Wreath

I woke up this morning feeling pretty good, had some coffee and wanted to try out an idea that popped into my head when I cut up my first tomato cage. After I had detached all of the rings from the cage to make a wreath frame, I liked how an off-centered frame looked. So, today I decided to try it out. There is a little bit of disappointment, but I think with a few more adjustments, I can get what I envisioned.

I placed the rings together in the fashion that I wanted them.

Off set wreath rings

Off set wreath rings

 

I started to wire them together. After I had finished the project, it looks like my rings were moving around a bit. So I recommend, securing your rings more than you would with a normal, even wreath frame. I ended up having to add a few more supports after my project was finished.

The plan for this wreath; was another 4th of July wreath but have the frame off-centered and incorporate the ribbon with the offset. Therefore, the offset wires had a shorter amount of ribbon. The length of the ribbon would increase as I attached it to the larger sides of the rings. The greatest gap in-between ring’s 1 & 2, had a long length of fabric going across the top.  When there was a small gap, between 1 & 2 at the south end of my frame, the length of the ribbon was quite short in comparison to the northern (top) of my wreath. I repeated this sequence, all around my wreath.

This is craptastic picture, you can tell the lengths are different but no clear vision of the off-set to you bottom left.

Off set? Where?

Off set? Where?

Another change I made from my previous wreath, the cloth ties that attach the ribbon to the frame. Of course, I didn’t think of this idea until I was finished, yes, I’m that awesome. But it may have worked out better that way! Maybe. I started to replace all of my cloth ties, with zip ties. In this household, EVERYTHING is fixed with a zip tie. No need for duct tape, nope, just a bag of zip ties and we can fix anything!!  It just makes sense, to fully secure my ribbon to the frame with the most amazing product ever, black zip ties.

The pro’s of the zip ties, nothing is moving, only slightly across the frame. The ribbon is very secured! It also looks a little bit tidier. That’s where the plus side ends. Zip ties are sharp! Once you cut the tails off, the hard plastic is quite harsh to the touch. Also, once you’ve zipped your zip, there is no turning back! You can cut the zip tie if you make a mistake, but then you take a risk at cutting the ribbon. So be careful when cutting and zipping.

The one good thing with my finished the project, once I started to place the zip ties, I knew where to zip. I can image a lot of mistakes being made, if I hadn’t tied the ribbon first with fabric and then went back to use a zip tie. To zip tie first, the ribbon would have been tightly secured, but if I needed to make a slight alteration I would have to cut the zip tie and start over. You cannot undo a zip tie.

In all, I like my wreath that I made for my mother. Because I used deco ribbon, you can’t tell that the frame was off centered, it’s too fluffy. I will try another off centered wreath, but use scrap fabric instead. In the end, I want people to see that it is offset, because that is what makes this project unique. I have yet to see a off-centered frame in the craft stores, just your basic three ring circus. I thought it would be a little avant-garde to hang the wreath with the short ribbon and decorations off centered on the wall. Maybe it’s not avant-garde (stretching the idea a little bit :-)), if I had just picked up this wreath, I would have hung it with the decorations on the bottom.

Maybe there is little visual off-set due to the Fiery Imp’s associate, Shelby. The amount of help she provides is priceless! Of course, she helps with designing my projects; by chewing the ribbon and discarding any flowers directly from the wreath that is unpleasant to the eye. A true artist (and lap warmer, she’s judging this post as I type).

Shelby, all American!

Shelby, all American!