Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Easy Warframe Crafts

Happy Video Game Day. 

If you liked games like Destiny (or the idea of them, anyway) then you're probably already playing Warframe, or you should be. It's free, multiplayer, and written with a fantastic storyline. 

I don't have time or interest for most multiplayer games, it requires just...too much. Too much time, money, investment, too much everything and as a parent I just don't have enough of any of that. With Warframe you can play just a little in a week and make progress, which was important to me- and the community is genuinely pretty supportive of one another. Those are things I haven't found anywhere else and I really do think this is a great game. The plot is pretty heartfelt as well, with some powerful moments in it as you go. Give it a try, you won't regret it, and it's updated regularly always. You can download it on the website here and I believe it is on Steam as well. 

If you're already a Warframe fan like my husband and myself, I put together a few fandom crafts you can do with just a few supplies.

Kubrow Pumpkin and Warframe Lanterns

I just grabbed a plain foam pumpkin from Dollar Tree along with some leftover summer lanterns, but any of the little Halloween lanterns would work, too. The main thing you are looking for is that you can paint the surface if you want to. 

You will need, in addition to your blank pumpkin and lanterns;

-printed pictures of Warframe characters you like (or printed pictures of whatever you want) 
-craft or acrylic paint in your choice of colors
-glitter paint (optional)

First, put a coat of paint on your pumpkin, you may have to let it dry and put on a second coat if you are having trouble with your coverage. 

If you want glitter, you can let the paint coats dry and brush that over the pumpkin as well. This step lays the background colors down, so have fun and make sure you let everything dry.

Cut out your printed pictures and coat them with Modpodge to stick them where you want them on your pumpkin. 
I slather the back of the picture first and use my paintbrush to flatten it out as best as I can before putting at least two coats of it over the image. Some people prefer the foam brushes for this and they even have specialty ones at craft stores to help you get the air bubbles out, but I've never found any of that super necessary. 

Let everything dry one more time and you have your specialty theme pumpkin to show off your fandom for Autumn. 

For the lanterns, depending on what you pick, you won't be able to get a flat color. The ones I chose were a pretty deep bronze, but they reminded me of some of the aesthetics found in Warframe, so I took them anyway. I picked two paint colors for each lantern so I could do a gradient, and it's only slightly noticeable, but that works perfectly. 

For these, I just applied my acrylic paint with a brush in one coat. That's it. Just paint them what you want.

I found that I liked that bronze color showing through, so don't be afraid of the original object bringing its own color palette.

Once that was dry, I brushed on a coat of clear glitter craft paint, and they were done. If you don't want glitter, obviously omit that step, but who doesn't want glitter. 

Warframe Shoes

For the shoes, you will need

-Some canvas shoes, any brand
-paint markers, I used Liquitex but there are other choices-and this is optional because you can paint your design with a small brush if you'd like. 
-acrylic paint

I laid down a coat of Modpodge over the tips of my shoes where I would be painting. Once it was dry, I painted the background colors. 

For the design, I used paint markers to freehand a Tenno theme and a machine pattern, but you could freehand something with a paintbrush as well. Just make sure your original layer of Modpodge and your next layer of paint for the background are dry and go to town with whatever you'd like. It does take some planning because this is a small space, so I recommend doing a sketch about the same size first, but that's the awesome thing about painting stuff-if you don't like it, paint over it. 

Once your design is done and dry, I'd go ahead and seal it in with one or two coats of Modpodge over it. I've had these painted for over a month and so far it's holding up okay and I totally credit those layers with that. 

You can also use glitter paint over this if you'd like, it doesn't fleck off the way you think it would during everyday wear. 

Happy crafting and happy gaming. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Exercises in Futility.

Working out and eating better is part of the regimen to help regulate my arrhythmia. Trying to actually make it a part of daily life is harder than it seems like it should be-even if life isn't getting in the way. 

I tried several different workout types. Most were complete failures. 

If you have an irregular heartbeat, you have to watch out for abrupt changes in position. It's why you might pass out just trying to get clothes out of the damn dryer. 

Salt and water help, but you still can't do it on repeat. Which is why things like Yoga made me want to throw up and die (sorry, Yoga, I still think you're cool) and even with the regular cardio or kickboxing videos I found that I had to just skip segments because there is no way I can go down to the floor and up again that quickly. 

Weightlifting has been alright-if I keep everything above my waist. I'm also new at that, so just using tiny 3lb. weights, and by itself, it won't retrain my heart. That's cardio's job for the most part. 

Walking never makes me feel bad, but finding the time to get in enough of it to make a difference has been an uphill fight, although this and tiny weights have made it into my regular called upon rotation. 

What surprisingly has helped and made me feel okay is a handful of ballet workouts. I realize I'm not going to be a dancer, but the workouts and stretches are not super fast into any position changes (at least in the beginning, maybe that gets worse or faster, I have no idea) and it has helped me think of my cardio as a calming routine versus something I was dreading. So, yeah, my tachycardia peeps...ballet. I was surprised too. But it is helping me feel stronger. 

Eating better has also been incredibly hard. I struggle with this far more than being active because at least being active can be enjoyable. Passing up cake doesn't make most people happy. I'm also an emotional eater. That really sucks and is hard to break. 

And I don't seem to be able to do any of it right. I had trouble with low blood sugar before, and Metoprolol for my heart rate has made that a more frequent battle. Cutting calories landed me with the ocular migraines that popped into my life during the worst of my SVT episodes, so I wonder if low blood sugar is the culprit. But I figure if I'm getting what I need or spacing it out better, I can beat that. I just haven't figured out how (or even if that is the cause) and probably need a dietician, because I can't deal with being in that much pain that often. It almost broke me last week, and I just can not again.  

It's hard to try to be healthier. And it's hard when being chronically ill makes it a crummier uphill slog. You have to worry about things that will never cross most people's minds. 

But I know that, like everyone dealing with a health issue, I have to just keep trying and modifying things until they can work for me. 

*I've posted it on here before, but I also still use and totally recommend Zombies, Run! Yes, you can do it at any pace, so no worries.*

credit to the photographer for the original imageunsplash-logoGaelle Marcel

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A Review of Mommy's Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Mommy's Khimar is beautiful. Even the title actually sparkles. 

The illustrations are so bright and warm and the wording is like poetry; it so brilliantly captures the imaginings of a daughter wearing the same clothes as her mommy. It's an important portrayal, too, as we don't really often get to see stories of families in hijab or khimar. And it even shows different religions getting along lovingly as a family, which is something that is really needed and again often not present in children's stories. 

It's fantastic read-aloud material. It was the perfect length for my preschooler to get a lot out of it, and enthralling enough that she wanted to look at the book on her own afterward. 

It was also emotional for us because, while I cover my hair for different reasons, it was something I started when I was very sick.

I was barely able to move around, I didn't feel good, and I felt like I didn't look good, and the world seemed marred by my looming diagnosis. I began to cover my hair then, and that first day my toddler told me that I looked like a princess. 

That she could see me as that when I was falling apart was a gift that I'll never forget. 

This book kind of took me back to that moment through the way the main character sees her mother's khimars. 

My daughters take my scarves, go through my collection to get just the one they want, and this story kind of shows that universal love of all things in mommy's wardrobe that every child in every culture has. And that's tearfully lovely. 

This is an important story with great representation, and a fun read, and, for me, a connection to a sweet memory. We loved this book and I think everyone will. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Best Gardening Book For Kids I Have Ever Read: A Review of Gardening With Emma-Grow and Have Fun: A Kid-to-Kid Guide

It sounds lame, but one of the things I look forward to in Spring is taking the kids to our local garden center and picking out what to grow.

They like getting their own plants, getting to watch and eventually eat some of what they helped grow (although this year we really only had some crazy peppers and onions survive, and none of them were thrilled with those). I'm always on the look-out for family-oriented gardening stuff, and without any doubt, THIS IS THE BEST BOOK IN THAT GENRE I HAVE EVER COME ACROSS. 

It covers planting, yes, but it covers playspaces, bugs, even sensory plants. It has tons of beautiful illustrations and it speaks well to elementary-age kids and tweens but you could happily read sections of this to a preschooler. I also learned a great deal from this book (I have been around and loved earthworms forever, but have never seen a picture of their poops, so there is that) and I'm excited to make our gardening trips a year-round thing. It would be great to follow some of the suggestions in this for letting the kids design their own gardens and exploration spaces as well. 

Overall, I can not recommend this enough to families who want to make gardening more of a part of their daily lives. This is excellent and thorough and should be the first thing you reach for reference for that. 

*I received this ARC from NetGalley for this review*

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Review of Girls' Home Spa Lab, by Maya Pagan

I'm actually really excited that my tween daughter loves a lot of beauty product stuff. She's even talking about plans to become a make-up artist and has about 5,000 hair accessories for her Rapunzel-long hair. I hadn't anticipated all of this being this much fun once the kids got older, and Girls' Home Spa Lab is right up our alley. 

There are a lot of good reminders for young girls (sleep, exercise, eat well, and, yeah, brush your teeth)  some yoga poses, some general ideas like journaling-but the meat of the book deals in beauty and self-care recipes. Not all of which we would try in our house (raspberry tea and things like witch hazel are no's from my heart warrior family, and parents who have medical conditions in themselves and their kids are going to have to go over which recipes are okay and which aren't with scrutiny-one recipe even contained a raw egg, so just be practical and careful). This is definitely a book that is more fun if you work through it with your child or children, so explaining why some recipes aren't workable for your family specifically just lends itself to the experience in my opinion; it wasn't a deal breaker for us. There were a lot of things to try and you'll find some things that will become staples in your house, so it's worth picking up even if you have some special medical concerns or allergies. 

And some of the activities are awesome. We found a recipe for beach wave hair spritz that works wonders for my two daughters' thick hair and it's great that this book encourages girls away from using heat-damaging products. As someone who had straightener burns throughout grade school, I REALLY loved that we could find something that caters to my daughter's love of style with respect to her body instead of approaching it aggressively-which is how most beauty is marketed. 

That, for me, was the best part of this book. It's filled with positive messages and teachable topics.

This would be a marvelous gift for your older kiddo who is into spa and beauty care, and it's a nice experience to make some of this stuff with them, so I recommend this 100%. 

*I recieved this ARC from NetGalley for this reveiw*
Credit to the photographer for the background image-
unsplash-logoSime Basioli

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Review of Art Starts with a Line: A creative and interactive guide to the art of line drawing, by Erin McManness

I remember sitting in an advertising class a few years back and hearing the professor say that the graphic design trend was about to change and nobody could predict what it would morph into really. You know what, I think I might be seeing a trend. 

Okay, maybe not THE trend, but definitely one of them...

The hand-drawn line art, probably made more popular by the journaling frenzy, is everywhere. I'm pretty happy about that because it's ludicrously gorgeous. That's all this book deals with, so if you need more of that in your life (you do) then Art Starts With A Line is perfect.

It starts off walking you through materials, and even a few coloring techniques, and then you're off to lessons. Fun lessons. Each section has spaces for you to practice your skills, and these are so adorable that you are going to be driven to draw along. Few art books are that freaking fun. And the lessons start very simply and for a little effort, you can get some beautiful effects. 

And if you are an art veteran, don't worry. These design ideas aren't so simple that you won't get something out of them. It also gets more challenging as you will eventually move into skylines and building details. Don't freak out about that if you're not a seasoned artist either, everything is handed out here in a way that you can tackle it.

All in all, I can recommend this art book to everyone of all skill sets. That by itself is amazing, but the sheer giddy fun factor to be had in this style just pushes this over the top. 

And, yeah, if you are journaling, you are going to have to buy this title because I have not seen anything anywhere that breaks this useable style down the way this does. 

I sketched some of my favorite elements from the book and digitally
painted them. I call this one "Baby Umbrellas" because it's adorable. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Review of Wolf Sanctuary: The Wolves of Speedwell Forge, by Chuck Rineer

I love wolves. All wolves. All things wolf. I couldn't pass up getting a chance to read this ARC from NetGalley, especially after I read the description.

Wolf Sanctuary is a snapshot of well, a wolf sanctuary. You'll get some details about the origins of it, which is a really unique and sweet story, and you get a sense of how important saving these animals is both from the text and how the photographer handles the up close and personal shots of the wolfies. 

You'll also get some interesting facts about wolves overall, and neat stories about the lives of the individual animals from the Speedwell Forge Wolf Sanctuary. This is so much more than a photography book, but I want to stress that the photographs are just gorgeous-if that is the only reason you wanted to get this title, you'd be happy just with that. It's a collection of some of the most expressive wolf photos I've ever seen.

Overall, I just can't rate this book high enough. The message and the delivery of it are wonderful, and this would be a great gift for the wolf fan in your family (and we all have at least one because wolves are amazing). You can find the book at