Monday, February 20, 2017

#4 Continued-- Six Wines in Six Steps

     A little known fact about me is I'm a bit of a wine enthusiast. Red, white, blush, dry, sweet, sparkling... I love everything from the spiciest Petite Sirah to the most honey-like Moscato d'Asti! And since this last Saturday was National Drink Wine Day (no seriously, it really was... google it!) I figured now would be a good time to mention my little passion. There are a thousand places you can look for wine and food pairings, but what about wine and craft pairings? My go-to wine for most activities is Cabernet Sauvignon, and out here on the west coast the big name in the game is Napa Valley. While Napa Valley definitely produces some stellar Cabernets I don't really want to spend that kind of money on something to sip on while I make origami boats. Origami Chinese fishing boats to be exact. They're a ton of fun to make, and I'm happy to say that these are so easy that you can indulge in a glass or two of wine and still fold them correctly!
     Since I'm not exactly falling over people in my little rural town to talk wine, or origami, with I have decided to share my thoughts with you dear followers! I'm going to share the six easy steps it takes to make a perfect origami boat, along with six great alternatives to Napa Valley Cabernet. Because let's face it, Napa Valley Cabernet is delicious but far too expensive to waste on craft time!

Step #1: Start with a square of paper.
Wine #1: Malbec. 

     Argentina produces about 90% of the world’s Malbec. Crazy, right?! Crazy but true. Malbec is a grape variety that carries a bold spicy tone, and a dark richness, that stands up great against the competition of the Napa Cabernets. And usually for at least half the price!

Step #2: Fold your paper twice to make a thin strip.
Wine #2: Monastrell.

     Monastrell is lower in acidity than some other reds. This gives the wine a very rich, smooth finish. The French produce some very good Monastrells, but if you are looking for the most bang for your buck then I recommend ones from Spain. They are just as deep in taste and much easier on the wallet then the Napa Cabernet.

Step #3: Turn up all four corners.
Wine #3: Carmenere. 

     Originating in the region of Bordeaux, France, this grape has since flourished in South America. The Chilean wines can range anywhere from lush and smooth to spicy and savory depending on the amount of oak-aging. I recommend the more peppery versions, which hold a slightly higher acidity to them. This crisp acidity gives them a more refined flavor similar to a Napa Valley Cab, but often at a much lower cost.

Step #4: Turn up your corners a second time.
Wine #4: Merlot.  
     As I mentioned in my homemade valentines post, a little Merlot can go a long way. A good, strong Merlot can be as full-bodied and flavorful as a Cabernet Sauvignon. You will want to look for a Merlot from a higher elevation region. Higher elevations lead to grapes with more vivid color and riper tannin. Thus, giving it the flavor and feel needed to compete with it's Napa Valley Cab friends.

Step #5: Fold up the two bottom corners to the upper edge.
Wine #5: East Coast Cabernet. 

      It would be silly to make a list of alternatives to Napa Valley Cabernet without mentioning other Cab varieties. The East Coast wineries been growing in popularity over the years and are bringing some serious competition on the market. There are around twenty wineries in Virginia alone and many of their blends hold the same pepper, dark fruit, and oaky vanilla flavors as their pricier West Coast rivals.

Step #6: Turn your model upside down and press out the boat carefully. Voila!
Wine #6: Tempranillo. 

     Last, one of my all time favorites, Tempranillo. This Spanish wine is well priced and easy to find on any store shelf. It's a thinner, lighter wine in color and consistency but not in taste. It packs a punch of strong red fruit and berry flavors and finishes creamy and smooth. I think its taste is bold and complex enough to please even your snobbiest of Napa Cabernet loving dinner guests!

Now it's your turn! Grab a piece of paper, uncork the wine, and tell me all about how your craft projects turn out!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

#4 Continued-- PMS and Origami Rabbits

I have PMS.
     Was that enough to scare off the men? Probably. Look, this sort of thing happens to the most respectable and flawless of women. And it definitely happens to us trailer-trash divorcees! One day we're fine, and the next day all of that emotional baggage we're trying to deny starts creeping into view. Next thing you know you're crying because a song came on the radio. Damn you, Sarah... now I can't separate your music from the sorrow of animal neglect. I used to love that song too. 
I need a glass of wine and a puppy.
     Anyway, while these days of the month are not my favorite they do trigger my brain and body to gear up for what some Native American cultures refer to as "moon time". Moon time is the sacred time of the month when a woman gets her period. Obviously referring to the cycle of the moon, this is a time of spiritual cleansing. Of purifying from the inside out. According to my research, during this time women do not participate in rituals or work, and are usually given this opportunity to be alone or with other women. During a woman's moon time it is important to stay away from negative people and situations. It's also a good time to work on art work or writing, as you're at your most creative during this time. 
     Enlightened menstruation practices are not just reserved to Native American cultures. Many women find that using a menstrual cup, over the typical tampon, connects them closer to their body. They gather the contents and poor it into their gardens to help their plants grow. I think that is beautiful. I also think that I'm going to screw up the process of putting in or taking out the cup and end up spilling it all over the bathroom. So I'm going to stick with the usual tampax method for now.  
I bet you won't see that little tip in Better Homes and Gardens.
     Continuing with my #4 project, origami, I have chosen a model that I can easily make during my moon time to help embrace my womanhood. And what represents this time of female power better than a rabbit?
Rabbits are a symbol of spring, new beginnings, fertility, and growth. Making origami rabbits, and soothing my cramps with my homemade pain lotion, will be my moon time ritual this month. I am also going to take a break from communicating with people I know will only bring stress into my world. 
       I suggest that you try celebrating your period as well. Take some time to yourself. Grab a few sheets of your kid's construction paper, and make a few rabbits. Maybe even lock yourself away for an hour or two. Really embrace the stillness of paper craft and reflect on being a woman. It sounds hokey, but it feels amazing. There really is something about connecting to your body on a deeper level that helps lift all of the pettiness out of the day to day stresses of life.

Now, ladies, let's make a rabbit!

Monday, February 13, 2017

9 Beat Generation Love Quotes

    Tomorrow is Valentine's Day! It's a celebration of love of all shapes and sizes. And this Valentine's Day would incomplete without a few lovely words from some very creative minds. With that in mind I will turn to some of the great writers of the beat generation. The term "Beat" was supposedly created by Jack Kerouac in the 1940's. He used the term to describe the "down-and-out" status of his generation after the war. These beat artists worked to defy conventional art, music, and literature. Making artistic statements against conformity and social norms. This generation was well known for their passion, so where better to find inspiration for the most passionate of holidays? Without further ado, here are 9 quotes from beat generation writers to get you in the Valentine's Day mood.




Beautiful words... Just ignore the fact that William S Burroughs
accidentally killed his wife playing William Tell drunk.





Thursday, February 9, 2017

#4 Continued-- Origami Hearts & Handmade Valentines

     I know, I know... Valentine's Day is really just a consumerism based holiday at this point. Focused on convincing people to spend money on jewelry and chocolate. But, despite these facts, I still just love Valentine's day. It's a chance for me to get crafty and spread a little love to those I care about. So bring on the glue and scissors-- I'm making origami hearts and handmade valentines! 
       In the spirit of my #3 project, letter writing, it seems only fitting that I would make and send hand written valentines this year. When I think about Valentine's Day cards I think of being a kid, cutting out hearts and lace. Making each card unique and special for the recipient. Now that I'm an adult I can hopefully take that same sentiment and make it a bit more sophisticated. Instead of a "roses are red" kind of message, I put a snippet from a favorite poem or a great quote. Instead of construction paper, non-toxic glue, and a handful of glitter I used blank greeting cards. And lastly, instead of piece of candy I can include an origami heart!
       I found these lovely blank cards and I decided to cut out the first initial of the recipient's name and glue it to the front of the card. It made my cards easy, crafty, and personal all at once. I decided to cut the initials out of a big pink gift bag I found. I'll be honest, there was very little strategy to this choice, it was just on sale and the pink called to me! The bag also matched the cards I had already fallen in love with! Win-win!
     Scissors in hand, and a heart full of love, I proceeded to cut out my letters and make my cards.  After the front details were complete I moved on to the inside. There I put a variety of quotes and lines from poems, making each one special just as I did when I was young. As you may have noticed, the real secret to my creativity on this one is hidden inside the wine glass! A little merlot goes a long way! And a lot of merlot... well let's just say my gluing skills diminished as I worked!
As I mentioned earlier, to go with these adorable cards are handmade origami hearts!
Below are the instructions I followed:  
     I'm very happy with how my little craft project has come out, and I hope those receiving these cards will like them too!

Start writing letters today with 10% off + a surprise freebie from Lots of Little Lines!     
     Libby S. Hopfauf, from Lots of Little Lines, is offering a special coupon code for my readers. Enter the code 17IN17COUPON for 10% off and a surprise freebie in every order! So click on the link below and check out the amazing cards and invitations designed and handmade by Libby S. Hopfauf.

This origami heart is a model I found on origami-instructions .com

Monday, February 6, 2017

SWOT Analysis: 4 Steps to Evaluate Your Blog

      A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning and evaluation tool that can be used to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats affecting your business or project. A SWOT analysis guides you through collecting information about your project, helping you get perspective on the situation so that you can make educated choices on how to keep your project moving in the direction you want it to go. I'm going to show you the 4 easy steps in creating a SWOT analysis for your blog. 

Step #1: Create Your Chart
      You can do this on a piece of paper, in your bullet journal, or even in a note file on your phone or computer. You will want to start by creating four sections and labeling them Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  

Step #2: Strengths and Weaknesses
      Begin by listing your blog's strengths and weaknesses in their respective areas on your chart. These are the internal factors in your blog. This could include personal characteristics such as your level of experience, your work habits, or your degree of online presence. It can also include things such as your blog's design and its functionality.  

 Step #3: Opportunities and Threats
      Next you will list your blog's opportunities and threats. These are the external factors of your blog. Your opportunities can include things like new technology available, or new trends in networking that can help move traffic to your blog. Your threats will be any situations that may be preventing you from reaching your goals. Two good examples are possible time constraints in your life, or popular competitor blogs.  

Step #4: Evaluate
       The ultimate goal of performing the SWOT analysis is to help you determine how to use your strengths to maximize your opportunities and minimize your threats. Look at your strengths and weaknesses and think about how you can make internal improvements. Next, look at your opportunities and decide which you should pursue to help move your blog forward. Carefully evaluate each section as you make a plan on how to improve your blog's weaknesses and turn your threats into opportunities.