Friday, July 31, 2015

Adventures in Creativity ~ DIY Glittery Shoes

We are on a super tight budget for the upcoming nuptials. The husband-to-be has been there, done that before so he’s not too concerned about what we have and what we don’t. He just wants me to be happy. I vacillate between the “‘I’m almost 40, my friends are all in different states, there’s no reason to waste money on a big to-do” camp and the “I’ve waited 40 years for this! I want to go big” mentality. There are a few things I wasn’t willing to compromise on and a lot of things we are doing ourselves to keep it simple and as inexpensive as possible (though DIY doesn’t always necessarily guarantee either of those things!) 

But one of the things I figured I could do was make me a great pair of shoes. There are a ton of tutorials for this floating around on the web. I watched and read a bunch and then combined what I thought were the best tips from the two basic techniques and went to it.

Painter’s tape, sponge brush/applicator, Mod Podge, extra fine glitter (any color), newspaper, glossy acrylic spray, shoes

1. Lay down newspaper to protect your work surface.

2. Apply painter’s tape to any area of the shoes you don’t want glitter-fied.  Definitely use the painter’s tape. I taped up the soles really well but then just stuffed tissue inside to keep that area mostly glitter free. I would recommend doing at least a bit of tape right around the inside edge of the shoe to keep it clean. If you look closely you’ll notice a few of my edges are a little squidgy.

3. Mix your glitter directly into a small amount of Mod Podge (it dries out quickly so keep the lid on the bottle while it’s not in use and mix small batches to work with.) I used a paper bowl so I could just throw it away afterwards. There’s no exact science but I probably had 2-3 tablespoons of Mod Podge and 1-2 tablespoons of glitter. I also mixed my colors to get just what I wanted, so play around a little and don’t be afraid to use a lot of it! (I only used about ¼ of each container when all was said and done.)

4. Have at it! Paint the glue/glitter mixture all over your shoes in a nice even coat.

5. Let dry for at least 20 minutes in between coats. It’s sort of like applying nail polish. If you try to do the next coat before the first one is completely dry it will get tacky and lumpy rather than staying smooth and even.

6. Use as many coats as needed to cover the shoes evenly and completely. Some of the videos said as many as 5, which is what I ended up with, but I probably could have been fine with 2 or 3.  As long as things look even and you can’t see the original shoe color peeking through you should be okay.

**For your final coat though, I recommend the 2nd technique. Paint just the plain Mod Podge over the already glittered shoe and then pour your loose glitter over it. (This is where the newspaper comes in really handy. I poured the excess glitter right back into the container when I was done.) Tap off the excess and let it dry. You’ll get a little more flaking of the glitter this way but you’ll also get a much better shine. The glitter mixed in with the Mod Podge was sort of dull and textured rather than being super sparkly. So, once your coat is dry, check again for any missed spots and re-apply the Mod Podge followed by the glitter if needed.

7. When everything is covered thoroughly and to your liking let it dry before spraying it with the glossy acrylic spray to seal it. I ended up doing 2 coats just to help keep that top coat of glitter in place.

Results? Fabulously sparkly shoes that I can’t wait to wear!

Photos by me: glittery wedding shoes!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Out and About ~ Dog Lake

You’re going to get a lot of "Utah’s a pretty great state" sales pitches from me. Here’s the first of many.

Those who’ve been here know the draw of the outdoor life in particular. We’ve got the greatest snow on earth in the winter and those same mountains are perfect for camping, hiking, fishing, 4-wheeling and a bajillion other things in the summer. And that’s just up north. Then we’ve got all the gorgeous red rock canyons and deserts down south. It’s pretty hard to beat.

When I was living in the DC area one of the things I missed most was access to real mountains (apologies to the Appalachians, Great Smokeys, Poconos and more, you’re beautiful but you’re just not the same!) I’d made a goal to get to the mountains once a week when I finally made it back to Utah but as usual, life took over and had other plans. But, this past weekend the husband-to-be and I took a much-needed break from wedding planning and life in general to spend some time in the nearby mountains.

Mill Creek Canyon is part of the Wasatch Range, and unlike the other canyons, is managed by the Forest Service so there’s a small usage fee (usually $3 for day use-hiking, picnics.) Located about 8 miles south east of downtown Salt Lake City there are trails for hiking/biking, camping and picnic sites, Boy Scout camps and even yurts available for rent. There is even a fun inn and restaurant if you want to take in the scenery sans bugs and dirt.

We ventured to the very top of the canyon where we picked up one of the many trails leading from the parking area. We headed east and hiked about 3 miles to Dog Lake. The trail itself is well-maintained and heavily used. On alternating days hikers share the trail with either mountain bikers or dogs off-leash (leashed dogs are welcome anytime). It’s a moderately difficult hike pretty much all uphill to the lake, (about 1200 feet in elevation gain) and obviously almost all downhill back to the car. It took us a little over 3 hours to do the roundtrip with lots of stops along the way for photo ops and breathers, as well as a break at the lake to eat a snack and watch the dogs frolic in the water.

The day was unusually cool for us here in July, but we worked up a pretty good sweat along the way (and felt very justified in eating the big, unhealthy lunch afterwards!) The hike is great for kids who are used to a little hiking, again the elevation change is pretty constant, but there are no cliffs or loose rocks or things to worry about. And the water at the end is a great reward! For those who might be a little more ambitious the trail connects to Big Cottonwood canyon at the lake. You could easily make the 3 mile trip back that direction if you had a car waiting for you on the other side! (Just be aware that no dogs are allowed in Big Cottonwood.)

Any other Utah lovers out there? What are your favorite hiking trails or mountain spots?

photos by me: Dog Lake, Mill Creek Canyon trail

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Screen Therapy ~ Mr. Holmes

Part of my intoversion requires that I get a significant amount of quiet time or I start to get a little crazy.  Quiet time, for me, doesn't always have to be a solitary activity, just something where I don't have to be 'on' all the time. The constant need to keep a conversation going can be utterly exhausting. Often I recharge in natrue or buried in a book, but screen time can be just as rejuvenating.

I'm not a big TV watcher but that's more by default than by choice. I've lived in too many situations where I didn't have access to TV on a regular basis so I've missed keeping up on some of the current faves and popular shows.  I generally wait until a bulk of the series is on DVD before I dive in. (And I'm always looking for recommendations!) But I do watch a lot of movies. The fiance is a fan as well so many of our date nights include a trip to the theater and a large bucket of popcorn. This week's showing was Mr. Holmes.

Ian McKellan plays an aging Sherlock Holmes who is fighting the beginnings of dementia and struggling to make sense of his last case, which he has a nagging suspiscion he didn't actually solve despite Dr. Watson's story recounting otherwise.  With the help of a young boy (his housekeeper's son) he begins to piece together his own story and discovers the truth which re-shapes the life he is living and the lives of those around him.

The movie was slow and character-driven, not your typical summer fare. The performances were top-notch and the scenery was lovely. It was hard to watch in some places because McKellan's portrayal hit a little too close to home. Watching his frustration with losing his independence, knowing he should be able to remember details of his life but coming up short, and feeling a sense of urgency to make ammends for particular deeds brought to mind some of the conversations I've had with my grandpa recently.  The fears and feelings he's dealt with were there on the big screen, larger than life. McKellan had the same look in his eyes as he realized that there are certain things he can no longer do and that the end is undoubtedly near. He wanted to remain the strong and capable figure the public viewed him as for so many years but could see that slipping away and the emotions were raw and written all over his face.

It was touching and poignent with a satisfying ending. If you're in to period pieces or caught up in the Sherlock mania, I highly recommend it. (It's no substitute for Benedict Cumberbatch but fills in a bit of the hole while we all patiently wait for the next season!)

Rated PG (nothing offensive though there is one scene invovling a child that's a little bit intense)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Listen up ~ Frank Turner

"We can get better, because we're not dead yet."

I was introduced to Frank Turner a few years ago when a group of friends and I embarked on a postal music swap.  We'd been living in the same area just outside of DC and we were all getting ready to move on to new places and new stages of life. One of our last get-togethers included some amazing food followed by a music sharing session. We'd each compiled a mix CD of some of our favorite tunes and bands that had been meaningful at different parts of our life in hopes that the others would find similar solace as they listened in their new places miles and miles away.  

It was such a hit that we decided to keep it up. Over the next couple of years we occasionally added and subtracted a few other participants but the three of us remained constant and it was always a great day when you got a CD in the mail. There were old favorites that circulated and new favorites that came along and Frank Turner was one of those new favorites. 

He's got a fabulously rough (sometimes angry) British sound occasionally channeling the likes of the Dropkick Murphys/Flogging Molly but with a poignancy to his lyrics that speaks directly to my soul. He puts on a fabulous live show, though he does have a bit of a potty mouth (so be warned if that kind of stuff bothers you!)  I highly recommend you take a listen! And if you have any suggestions for a new listen, post them in the comments below.  I'm always up for a new favorite!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Beyond living and dreaming
There is something more important:
Waking up.

~Ortega y Gasset

This is a truth I've been trying to learn recently. For me, it's sort of akin to acceptance and letting go. Dreams are great and necessary as is the monotony of every day living but when those two things meld together there's a beautiful catharsis that occurs. We awaken to the possibilities of our dreams without holding them up as unrealistic expectations that are bound to disappoint and we begin to see the blessings in every day amidst the struggles and drudgery that often weigh us down. We accept the truth and reality of our current situation but recognize that we are not limited by those situations while concurrently recognizing that failure to live a particular dream or reach an expected milestone does not equal failure. When we wake up to each moment and fully live it we can experience something deeper than the moment itself.

photo by me: random tiny wildflowers

Monday, July 6, 2015

Adventuring Into Adulthood--40 for 40

I don't often feel like a full-fledged adult.  Mostly I look around and wonder when someone is going to call my bluff and discover that I've been simply masquerading as an adult for years. Off will come the mask and I'll be able to go back to being the fourteen year old who's been living way out of her comfort zone in this world of mortgages and careers and other ginormous responsibilities.

But it's hard to deny the fact that adulthood is your world when you find yourself staring down the barrel of the big 4-0. Forty.  Seriously.  How on earth did that happen? As is the case for most of the big questions in my life, I have no answer.  But in surveying things so far I feel pretty lucky in all that I've done and seen and become up to this point. This past year or so has been an interesting detour that, like most detours, wasn't planned and I wasn't prepared for.  I'm still coping with some of the fall out (both positive and negative) and working to find a path and direction in many areas of my life. And, as is my M.O., I've spent some time reading good books and developing an attack plan (ie a stack of lists and goals) to get things moving.

One of the things I've done often throughout the years is make a bucket list (I've done it since long before they were cool!) and my 40th birthday seemed an appropriate time to break out a new one. Rather than starting on my 39th birthday and working up to it or launching it on the 40th I decided to sandwich the birthday in the middle of it all.  So, I've got 6 months of goals leading up to the big day and another 6 months to follow it up.

Forty things in all; some brand new adventures and some things I've done before and want to do again and a few things I just want to make sure I focus on and make time for.  This blog is actually one of the things on that list. A few others include:

  • making a presentable loaf of bread
  • participating in a photography challenge
  • finding a cause I love enough to regularly volunteer for
  • attending ComiCon
  • running a 5K
  • paying off my credit cards 
  • hosting a dinner party
  • sending a hand-written letter every week
  • finally finishing the book I've been writing
  • getting married! (this one will take up the bulk of my energy for the next couple of months so hopefully the rest of them don't suffer in the meantime!)
How about you? Are you a list-maker?  A goal-setter? What do you to commemorate or cope with the big milestones? I'd love to hear about it!

photo by me: New Zealand graffiti