20 Summer Goals | Watercolor Wonders

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Okay, yes, summer has come and gone, and while I did fulfill many of those goals that I shared with all of you in my earlier post, I just didn’t seem to capture them all and share them with you. So for one last time this year, I wanted to share one more of my Summer Goals with you.

This one may have been my favorite. I’ve always loved art. Growing up all I wanted to do was color, paint, and create. Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen so in love with writing. It’s my way of creating something and sharing it with people. But I fell into that trap of thinking that “I’m just not good at art doing art”. I think a lot of people think of creating things or being artistic as some sort of competition. Like you have to be amazing at it to do it, and if you aren’t, then you shouldn’t even try to create things. Or thinking that because someone else is better than you are, that you shouldn’t even try to create things. But through this little water color journey of mine, I’ve realized (although, this is something I’ve understood for a while) that it doesn’t take skill or a special talent to create. All it takes is you. And your imagination. Being creative is a part of life that everyone should partake in. Its not a competition, its not just for the wildly talented. Creativity is a right that no one can take away. Creativity is about passion, and happiness. Creativity is about letting your mind and your thoughts do what they want to do, rather than always thinking it through to every last little detail. Creativity is an essential part of life.

Creativity is intelligence having fun.Albert Einstein 

When I first started in with watercolor painting, I tried to really learn it. Learn the techniques, the skills, the whole process. But I quickly learned that I didn’t fully enjoy it that way. I created many beautiful paintings, from lighthouses, to beaches, to flower arrangements, but through out those projects, it all felt like work. I had to pay attention to what I was doing, I had to focus, and I had to try incredibly hard. It was easy to see that it wasn’t my thing.

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Eventually, I put away the YouTube tutorials, sat down outside in my backyard, and just painted. I didn’t realize how much I could love just sitting down with my paint brushes just splattering paint around on paper. No thoughts about what I would be painting, or what techniques needed to be used to achieve it. I don’t enjoy making those things, as much as I enjoy these little pages full of messy patches of color.

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Now, after making dozens of these colorful, blob filled creations, I had to figure out if anything could be done with them. As much as I enjoy them, and enjoy the process of making them, they aren’t exactly “frame worthy”. But as I was walking through the card aisle of Target, I realized that I had a use for all of them, one that would add an extra personal touch to everything that I do. If this were a cartoon, the little light bulb would have lit up on top of my head. Cards. I could make cards out of these silly little paintings and add an extra personal touch to all the little things that I like to do.

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I love to give cards for all sorts of occasions. When someone is sick, when someone’s birthday rolls around, etc,. But one thing I always do, is send Thank You cards. So that’s what I made for this post. This little thank you card is for all of you reading this, and for all my internet friends that follow this blog and send me emails checking on how I’m doing and just generally chatting with me. It has been so fun starting this blog, just the enjoyment that I’ve gotten out of writing alone would have made it the best thing I’ve done all year, but the friendships I’ve made, and the support I’ve gotten, have all made this into something that I don’t want to give up. So thank you, you lovely people you.

I hope all of you can find some way to be creative, even if you’re not great at it, as long as you’re doing it, that’s all that matters. There is no wrong way to be creative.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

Somehow I fell off the blogging bandwagon. I have many things to blame for my lapse in posts; full-time course load, full-time work load, quarter-life crisis, etc,. The list could go on and on, as it could for everyone I suppose. But I wanted to get back into things. This is almost therapeutic for me. Writing down my thoughts, sharing them with all of you. Its nice. So I’m going to do my best to regain that spark, if you don’t mind of course, and what better to start with than another Summer Goals post? Although this is the final Summer Goals post of the year, I can assure you, that I have some things in-store for this blog that I am truly excited about, so I hope you come along with me on the continuation of my little blogging journey. ❤

20 Summer Goals | 19.) Do at least three crafts | Tie Dye Shirts

Once again, I decided to set off on another little adventure in hopes of moving closer to checking another thing off my list of 20 summer goals. This time, I wanted to work on a craft, and what better to do than get a little messy and tie dye some shirts! I have to admit, I didn’t do this craft alone, I grabbed a friend and my niece, to make working towards this goal a bit more fun! After enlisting their help, we went off on a journey to Michael’s (just a chain of craft stores, in case you’re not familiar with it) to pick up the tie dye kits. I ended up deciding to go with two separate kits with 5 bottles in each, as the bottles in those kits were larger than all the others and I thought I’d be able to do more with them. The two kits I bought were both the Tulip One-Step Tie Dye Kit, and I bought one called Carousel and one called Neon.

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The colors included in the Carousel kit were Teal, Royal Blue, Black, Purple, and Fuchsia, and the colors included in the Neon kit were another Fuchsia, Orange, Yellow, Lime, and Turquoise. Each kit also came with some gloves to protect your hands from looking the same as your newly tie dyed shirt when you’re done, and some rubber bands to use when making the design. Once we arrived home, set everything up outside, and changed into old clothes that we couldn’t care less about, we got down to business.

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These kits are incredibly user friendly; all you need to do to get started is fill the bottles up with normal water from the tap, shake it up to incorporate the powder dyes in the bottle, and its time to dye! Before you start, its best to wash your shirt and pop them in the dryer (without any fabric softener or dryer sheets) so that they are clean and ready to go to soak up the colors. This kit doesn’t require you to soak them in vinegar before dying them to hold the color, but you can always do that if you’d like. I absolutely hate the smell of large quantities of vinegar, so I passed on that one. Once the dye was ready, I got started getting the shirts tied up in the rubber bands. For the tank top I’m going to share with you here, I chose to attempt a spiral pattern. I say attempt, because these things never turn out “right” for me. My spirals always turn out a bit wonky and off, but that’s honestly half the fun of tie dye; nothing ever comes out the same and it usually looks better when its not perfect!

First, you lay your shirt out as flat as possible on your work surface. I’m using an oversized tank top that I got from Walmart for something like $10, but you can use anything you’d like really. It’s just best to make sure it’s mostly (if not 100%) cotton, as it tends to be the easiest to work with and holds the dye the best.

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Then, now this is the tricky bit, you want to pinch a spot near the middle, or wherever you want the center of your spiral to be, and start twisting it counter-clockwise, gathering all the rest of the fabric into the spiral as you go. It is hard to explain, but once you start twisting your shirt you’ll understand what I mean. And don’t sweat it if you have to start over and re-do it, or if it goes a bit wonky, it always takes me at least three tries before I’m happy with the final product.

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After twisting the shirt until the entire thing has gone into one big spirally circle, you’ll just want to chuck a few rubber bands on it to secure it. Make sure that the rubber bands all meet in relatively the same spot in the middle of the spiral. It should almost look like a sliced pizza from the top.

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After you’ve done that, and have completed whatever design you’re wanting for your other shirts (if you’re unsure what other designs you’d like to make, just do a quick google search and you’ll find loads of ideas and instructions on how to do them), its time to start the actual dying process. For a spiral design, its easiest to just dye the shirt in between the rubber bands, as if you’re dying each little pizza slice a different color. I always do them in a pattern of sorts where each slice gets dyed the same color as the one directly across from it, but you can do whatever you’d like really. This is the messy part obviously, so do take care to wear the gloves provided in the kit and make sure you’re wearing things you don’t care too much about, because its almost guaranteed that they will get messy. It’s also helpful to lay an old towel or something down on the surface you’ll be using to make sure nothing gets ruined (aside from the towel) and also to make the clean up process a bit more manageable. The dye will bleed together with the one next to it, and chances are high that various colors will rub off from your gloves onto the next section of the shirt that you work with, but don’t worry about it too much, it will turn out fine in the end, I promise.

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After your shirt is thoroughly soaked with the colorful dye, you just put it into a zip-lock bag or wrap it in plastic wrap, and leave it to sit for 6-8 hours, or whatever your kit recommends if it is different from mine. Once that agonizing wait is up, you’ll have to begin the task of getting the excess dye out of the fabric. This takes a while, so be prepared. They say to rinse the shirt in the sink until the water runs clear, similar to dying your hair at home, but if I’m honest, I’ve never been able to get the water completely clear. So just do your best, and once that’s done, you’ll just pop them in the washer on the largest load setting you have (the excess water is necessary to get the rest of the dye out) and add in a very small amount of whatever laundry detergent you use, and let them wash. Once that’s through you can either let them air dry, or pop them in the dryer. I, being the forever impatient girl that I am, chose the dryer option, and in 30 short minutes, my shirts were dry and the tie dye process was complete!

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I love tie dye, and not because its psychedelic or because I’m a “hippie” as people often think, I just love it because of the color. The bright colors, the various patterns, and the way that every single one of them is different just makes me happy. And I’m always up for any excuse to get messy and do something creative.

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With this, I am one step closer to checking another thing off of my list of summer goals. And if there’s one thing that I’d like you to take away from this post, it would be to just go out and do something creative! There’s no “wrong” way to be creative, and that’s a beautiful thing.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

20 Summer Goals | 2.) Make homemade pasta

With this post, the 20 Summer Goals series begins. I’m nervous, excited, and slightly intimidated all at once, but overall I’m ready to see what this summer has in store for me. Today I attempted to make homemade pasta, and let me tell you, it was a journey.
It began like any other cooking venture: Finding a recipe. I found the most basic one possible online, this is my very first attempt at making pasta after all, and then began the pasta making process! The recipe I used, courtesy of the always wonderful Mario Batali, called for:
3 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Unbleached Flour
4 Eggs
and a Pinch of Salt
Plain, simple, and to the point, just what I was looking for! So I gathered up the ingredients and read on through the recipe to see what was coming up next.

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The next step was to take my wooden cutting board and put all the flour into a mound in the middle, make a well in the center of the flour, and pop all the eggs right in the well. Simple enough, right?

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Now.. this is the point where it all went a bit, well, wrong. Very wrong. The next step in the recipe was to gently whisk the eggs together with a fork in the center of the flour mound, while slowly incorporating the flour into the eggs from the inside of the well outward. It sounds so simple that no one could possibly mess it up, but let me tell you, one wrong move of your fork and everything could go south fast. One wrong move and you’ll end up with eggs on your shoes and an eggy-flour mixture in your hair in an instant. At least, that’s what happened to me.

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Note to self: When you’ve already flung flour on your hair and clothes, don’t continue to wipe your flour covered hand on your cheek as well.

But don’t give up on me just yet! I managed to regain control of the pasta making situation, added another egg into the flour to replace the one that was now all over my slippers, and continued on. Once all the flour, eggs, and salt were incorporated thoroughly, it was time to throw some extra flower on the cutting board and start kneading. After what seemed like an eternity of kneading and kneading and kneading the dough (which in reality, only amounted to 3 minutes), it was time to form the dough into a ball, cover it in plastic wrap, and let it sit for 20 minutes.

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I took advantage of this break to hose down my slippers, and take a shower to get the gooey mess out of my hair, but if you managed to get through the recipe unscathed without an egg-tastrophy, then by all means, use this time to do something productive or watch some tv, the possibilities are endless for the less clumsy few of you out there. After those 20 minutes were up, it was time to roll out the dough, cut it into the desired pasta shapes and voilà! My homemade pasta was complete! I chose wide egg noodle shapes, as it seemed like the easiest and safest option for me, and I have been craving a nice pot of homemade chicken noodle soup for days now!

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Now, after that messy but fun adventure, I can officially cross “make homemade pasta” off of my list of summer goals! (Insert virtual round of applause, hugs for my hardships, and just general amazement that I managed to actually do it here!) After all of that, I can assure you that I will most definitely be making homemade pasta again, only I’ll be using a mixer next time, with a nice glass of wine in my hand.

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx

P.S.- If you’re interested in the recipe I used, you can find it right here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mario-batali/fresh-pasta-recipe.html

20 Summer Goals

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Recently, a friend of mine challenged me to make a to-do list of sorts, of 20 goals I wanted to accomplish before summer ends. Instantly I thought that it was a silly idea for me. Would I even be able to think of 20 things to do before summer is over? Would I have any hope of completing the list? After a while, I realized that these thoughts were simply just self-doubt, and decided to go for it. So as I sat down with a notebook and pen in hand, ready to start writing, I stopped to think for a little while. I wanted these goals to be important to me. I wanted them to be things that meant something to me, and things that would enrich my life a little. Before I knew it, I had a dozen goals written down on paper, and it all started to feel a bit more real. I looked to some friends for more ideas and in no time I had my list of 20 goals, and was more excited than ever about the prospect of summer. Doing this little challenge has given me a renewed sense of excitement for summer, an excitement that I haven’t had since I was a kid getting out of school for summer break. Summer has taken on a new meaning now that I’m older. It’s no longer filled with endless amounts of free-time and popsicles on hot summer days; now it’s just filled with work, scorchingly hot days with little relief, and sweat, so much sweat. But these goals made me a bit more excited and motivated about everything. So without further ado, here are my 20 summer goals!

1.) Write a short story
2.) Make homemade pasta
3.) Learn how to paint (well) with watercolors
4.) Create a photo album of my favorite photos
5.) Attend at least four cultural/arts events (i.e. author events, art fairs, ethnic festivals, music events, etc)
6.) Write handwritten letters to at least three different people
7.) Stop putting off starting a blog just because you think people will find it silly
8.) Learn to whistle with my fingers
9.) Plant and grow a sunflower
10.) Cook a traditional dish from at least three different countries
11.) Take a baking or cooking class
12.) Try one new food every week
13.) Learn to sew, knit, or crochet, and make at least three homemade gifts to give at Christmastime
14.) Sleep under the stars
15.) Try five new cocktails
16.) Volunteer with at least three different charities/organizations
17.) Learn as much as possible about a culture different from my own
18.) Take one day each week to myself, with no distractions or obligations to worry about, to relax and decompress, no matter what!
19.) Do at least three new crafts
20.) Write about what I’ve done, how I’ve felt, and what I’ve daydreamed about each and every day in a journal

The best part about this list is that I haven’t put any pressure on myself with it. I don’t have unrealistic goals of completing each and every thing perfectly before summer comes to a close. If I don’t manage to complete something, the beauty of this list is that I can just add it to my next list of goals and continue! I hope you check back on this blog every so often to keep up with my progress on this list, and on all the other things I get up to.

I’m proud to say that I can officially check off number 7 on the list, because I have started this blog!

I hope you’re doing well, where ever you are in the world, and I wish you all the best.

-Lexie Xx