Saturday, April 19, 2014

Its been so long! Extracts, cross stitches and painting galore!

Well, a few months.... well.... five months?  Eep!  I've been meaning to post sooner!  Since the last post, I have finally fully settled into my apartment, and have been enjoying living alone.  Although, it does get pretty quiet here.  I think that may be changing tho... new neighbors moving in next to me.  As long as they don't have a loud dog like the last guy I think I can handle it.  XD

Hopefully....

Anyway, back to things happening in my crafting life.

First update:

Extracts.  Yes.... extracts *waves bottles of extracts imitating the 9th Doctor with the Anti-plastic*

The vanilla extracts are both successes!  First, my rum vanilla extract.  I ended up keeping it sealed and shaking it once every few weeks all the way up til mid December.  So, thats about ten months I believe that I let it extract itself.  Pun totally intended there.  It is a lighter flavor of vanilla, and I will be using it in things that are more delicate in flavors.  I don't know what yet, but I'll let you all know!  I have sent out a bottle of it to a good friend, and I'll have to get her opinion on it, which I will then share to all the world!  Hahahaha

The vodka based extract had turned out much more potent.  But, considering it was made with high octane vodka, I wasn't all that surprised.  I have ended up using this one so far, in a few different batches of cookies, and I must say, it has turned out quite well!  I may have also poured a little into coffee every once in a while when out of creamer, but it was only on days when I did not have to go to work!  ;)  And it was just a little tiny eensy little bit hahaha

So yes, the vanilla extracts were a success!  The orange extract I still have bottled in lovely little bottles, and I am still deciding what I want to make with them.  Maybe I'll do an orange-ish lemon-ish shortbread cookie.  I used to make this really good lemon shortbread cookie at the bakery that I used to work at, and it might be good with orange extract and base rather than lemon.  I shall see when it gets warmer, as that was definitely a summer cookie.

The almond extract didn't work out at all.  I tossed it when I moved.  I think it is because I did the half water half alcohol base.  I really wasn't proud of it, and it didn't smell right either.  At a future date, when I have a little more time and all that, I'll give it a try again, with a different process.

So, that is the update with the extracts.

Next on my list of lovely things that have, or haven't as the case may be, been going on.  Unfortunately I am on a semi-permanent hiatus from my cross stitchery.  It makes me very sad.  I have been having a lot of trouble with my carpel tunnel, as well as ulnar nerve impingement throughout my right arm.  I am currently in occupational therapy for it, and I have two weeks left of going to see the lady who sends massive amounts of electricity throughout my limbs.

It tickles.

I feel like I am too young to be having all this trouble in my arms.  I have to sleep in wrist braces, with an elbow brace on my right arm to keep me from bending it in my sleep.  I am trying to relearn how to sleep (hint, I tend to sleep on my stomach with arms raised and bent under a pillow.  That apparently is not a good thing to do when having nerve problems.) and how to do things in my kitchen.  Chopping things is a pain in the you know what.  It is a growing problem for people my age and younger, though.  And you can probably thank technology.  Think about it, touch screen phones and tablets, laptops, game controllers, computer mice.  All things that you used repetitive motions over and over again.  And I admit, I play on my phone way too much, as well as use all of the things previously mentioned.  Then add that I was a barista for quite a few years (so the repetitive making of coffee) and I now work lifting heavy object all the time....

It all comes together in the lovely cauldron, give a quick stir three times counter clockwise, and out pops some lovely nerve damage that you can just bathe your whole body in.  Yay!  Fortunately for me, the therapy so far seems to be helping, along with my regime of exercises, nerve glides, and stretches that I am supposed to do daily.

So, until I re-learn how to do my stitching, and possibly invest in those lovely glove thingies that are supposed to help (I've seen them in my crafting magazines that I get sometimes), this stuff will be put on hold.  Which really sucks because I'm in the middle of a late Christmas gift for a good friend, and he will have to wait even longer now.

What I have been doing:  Painting and making things!  Painting doesn't hurt my hands as much as stitching does, so I still get to be creative at the moment!  I have my little craft station much better organized now, (well, mostly organized hahahah) and I have been sketching out possible ideas for a really cool terrain/village.

 As you can see, I have quite a few works in progress on the painting front.  I am eagerly awaiting the Elves that I mentioned in my last post from Stonehaven Miniatures.  And, like I just mentioned, I am going to be building some terrain for my minis!  Since I don't have these guys to wargame with, just for display and fun, I decided that I am going to work of making a whole village.  The thought initially came into my head when I was debating starting a Christmas Village collection.  My grandma has an amazing collection, and I was playing with the idea of it myself.  Then I started looking at them.  Holy cow those things are expensive!  And to only really have them out and about one time of the year?  Nah....  Instead, the plan is to start making a multi-racial village scene that I can have displayed throughout the year.

This seemed simple in my head when I first thought of it, but holy cow it is anything but!  Race wise, I will be accommodating Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Grippli, Pixies, Gremlins, and a whole slew of animal companions.  So, for example, a tavern will have to fit all sorts of sized creatures.  Think Bree, when the guard looked through the gate and saw no one, then had to look through a smaller gate because, hello! Hobbits.  Yeah.

So, I am starting out small.  I am going to start with a farm.  Why a farm you ask?  Because I have one single human miniature that needs a home.  Plus, I saw an awesome terrain piece that I want but am unwilling to spend money on, because come on.... a dung heap?  That is something that is very simple to make yourself!

Thus, the beginnings of a dung heap:
 I have made this out of pre-mixed grout, blended with a little bit of brown paint, and slapped on an old cd that was already so scratched up that it was destined for the trash bin.  I then cut some toothpicks down to create the posts of a fence.  I will be making it a wattle fence, once everything dries and is flocked.  And painted probably too.
 I also have the basics of a shed/barn created.  I don't know whether I will have it as a shelter for goats, or pigs, or what have you.  I'll figure that out when my animals show up (Pegasus Farms animals, size 1/48.)
 I am also having a very hard time finding any farm accessories around for 28mm miniatures.  Other than what comes with the dung heap that you buy.  So, I am going to be trying to create things like rakes, above, shovels, buckets, etc for this build.

This is a lofty project that I am attempting.  I want all the buildings to open up and be usable/decorated on the inside as well as the outside.  Think dollhouse for awesome minis in a much smaller size.  Brings back fond memories of my grandma's dollhouses (she had some amazing dollhouses!).  I remember just sitting infront of one for hours just cleaning it and redecorating it.  So, thats what I want to do!  It will be difficult, these things are tiny, and as many tutorials there are on the web, I haven't found a lot that will work for me.

If anyone has any suggestions on different tutorials on the web, or where to go to find some, please let me know.  I think I have scoured 95% of whats out there, and still kind of floundering in what I want to do.  For example, building a bucket?  Should I just use green stuff?  Or would there be a better way.
Here are some minis that I am in the middle of fiddling with.
Well, there is my update for the time being, and hope you all enjoy what I am up to!  It is good to get this all down in writing.  XD