Friday, August 14, 2015

Have a fun weekend!

Just checking in! Hello. I am alive and still have a blog! I have not been very chatty about my whereabouts or doings lately. I am trying to change a few things about this space, and while they are mostly ideas in my head or on Pinterest boards right now, I am hoping they will be more obvious in the coming months. Okay yes, It feels good to get that out. Onward...

Summer is flying by, as usual. I am trying to soak it up and squeeze the most out of the season. A couple weeks ago we went on a little impromptu trip to Evergreen and stayed in my friend Brian's family cabin. It was a quick trip with plenty of sunshine and a nice chance to catch up on my Phase 10, whiskey drinking, blue sky gazing skills. These photos are from that weekend as you might have guessed.

This weekend we are planning on staying in the city enjoying some local music, and maybe trying out a new restaurant or two. So many new, great spots to check out in Denver these days!

Have a good one friends!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wandering Wednesday: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

^^ Family dinner at Maria Corona
^^ Leila showing Aunt 'Stine some love
^^ That's a 160 lb marlin! Go Mike!!
^^ Making friends with some seals! Isn't he handsome? :)
^^ Feeding leftover bait to the birds! That pelican almost took a finger. Phew!
^^ Me and my dad in front of the famous arch
A family beach vacation is a rare and wonderful thing around here. Since most of my family lives in Tennessee I generally travel there to see everyone once or twice during the summer and that is considered my "vacation". This time though my dad thought up a pretty genius plan...let's meet in Mexico! So last month, for five beautiful days, we did just that. It was relaxing, revitalizing, and adventurous all at once and I was so glad to spend some much needed time with my family. I constantly miss them and hate being so far away, especially from my nieces and nephew who are growing up so fast! Leila, my sister's little one, is at such a fun age right now (almost 2) and was talking up a storm when we were in Cabo. She'd wake up and right away say "ocean, ocean, ocean" and want us to lift her up so she could see the waves crashing from our balcony. It was the sweetest thing. The ocean in Cabo really is an incredible sight. The waves are actually so big that they don't allow swimming by the resort, which was definitely a bummer. But the threat is real. I lost my sandals to a wave that seemed to come out of nowhere one morning. I was just standing there taking photos and BAM. I ran as fast as I could but the current took my shoes along with it. It was a close call, especially since I had my camera in hand! The sacrifices we make for art ;) I will say that if you are visiting Cabo and looking to swim in the ocean, try venturing to the other side to a place called Lover's Beach. We didn't make it there this time around, we were pretty content swimming in the pool while enjoying the ocean view, but that crystal clear water is pretty tempting. 

This trip was more family oriented, so my little guide will reflect that. We stayed close to the resort during the day and generally went into town for dinner but didn't stick around to indulge in Cabo's vibrant night life scene. Maybe next time?! Here are the highlights...


This resort is truly breathtaking. It was built on the very edge of the island, called Lands End, creating beautiful views everywhere you turn. It is open and airy and blends into the natural rock formations around it. The amenities make it hard to leave, and you really don't have to if that suits you. There are 3-4 restaurants to choose from within the resort, all with pretty similar, local inspired food. I think I counted 4 pools, and apparently they have couple more on the way (there was a little construction during our stay but it didn't bother us one bit). The rooms are spacious and pretty with huge balconies that look right onto the ocean. As I said, we stayed pretty close to the resort during the day-- reading, relaxing, and splashing around. Loved it!


Grand Solmar, poolside
I have to say that one of the best parts of this trip was getting to eat fresh seafood everyday! Living in a landlocked state, I don't often get to indulge in one of my favorite types of food so I definitely took advantage. Shrimp tacos and fish ceviche by the pool became our go-to lunch order. I was in heaven. 

This place is pretty touristy but if you can get past that part you really can't beat the location. It literally sits right on the beach. The atmosphere is fun and lively and there is often a band playing during dinnertime. The food is okay, the drinks are better. Once the sun goes down, hundreds of Christmas lights light up and the party starts.

If I were to pick a favorite restaurant of the bunch, this one would be up at the top. There was a traditional Mexican trio playing the night we went that blew us all away. They were such a great background to the whole experience. More low key than The Office, this place felt very authentic in terms of decor and food. I had a slow roasted pork dish that was served in a banana leaf....amazing.

This is the second time I've had delicious Italian food in Mexico. Apparently it's a thing? The portions here are huge so watch out. We ended up having lots of leftovers that we turned into breakfast and lunch the next day though so it actually worked out nicely! The food is pretty rich and heavy so I'd say go hungry. But don't skip dessert...the tiramisu is almost better than Spinelli's!

I won't say too much about this restaurant here because I am going to write a separate Wandering Wednesday featuring it next week. Yes, it's so amazing it deserves it's own post. Flora Farms is actually located about an hour outside of Cabo Can Lucas in San Jose Del Cabo. I had no idea what to expect when we arrived. My dad said we were going to an organic farm restaurant which I interpreted as farm to table. I had no idea that I'd be walking into a literal farm oasis! Now I dream of returning regularly. Let's just say it makes an impression.


Deep Sea Sportfishing
This was my first time deep sea fishing and it didn't disappoint. We started at sunrise and rode probably 20 miles from the shoreline fishing for Wahoo, Marlin, Tuna, Amberjack. We were sportfishing which means you can only keep a certain amount of what you catch, and some fish (specifically Marlin) are treated as catch and release unless you want to pay a hefty fee. I have to admit, I was mostly there for the boat ride. I can never say no to being on a boat and with the added entertainment of watching the guys reel in a few 160lb fish....yes, please! We (and I say 'we' because I was a really great cheerleader) caught all Marlin that day. Reeled in two and hooked four total. Those suckers can dance! It's a full out battle getting them into the boat! Fishing is so interesting to me because it is so much waiting around but once something bites everything changes. At the end of our ride, we feed our leftover bait to the birds and a couple seals that just hopped up right next to us. That was a definite trip highlight! So fun!

San Jose is the laid-back sister of Cabo San Lucas. We took a day trip here and shopped around before dinner at Flora Farms. There is a string of shops along the main plaza and a beautiful church which serves as a central landmark of the town. My sister Kate and brother-n-law Mike actually spent their honeymoon here so they wanted to go back and visit a few of their favorite spots and have a drink at the hotel where they stayed. I much preferred this area to downtown Cabo San Lucas for shopping. In fact, I think overall this town suited me a little better and if I were planning my own trip back I would consider staying here. It's slower, and cheaper, and not as touristy. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

MAKE: 5 Ways to Indigo Tie-Dye, The Shibori Method

Shibori is one of the earliest known Japanese fabric dying techniques. It is a form of tie dying, also called resist dying. The manipulations of the fabric prior to application of the dye are called resists, as they partially or completely prevent the applied dye from coloring the fabric. There are countless ways to bind, bunch, fold or wrap your cloth in preparation for the dye bath, all producing different pattern results. I checked out a few books from the library (this one was especially helpful) and read up on the art before diving into this DIY, which I recommend. It felt good to have a little bit of knowledge on the subject since it was pretty new to me. 

The first step is to gather your materials. This takes a few days so I recommend planning ahead. After doing a little research online, I settled on buying this kit from Amazon, which worked great and I highly recommend! It makes the process very straightforward and inexpensive. It basically comes with everything you need absent a 5 gallon bucket and a stir stick. I did end up buying a few extra things at the Dollar Store and Ace Hardware, but if you don't want to fuss with all the different techniques you can really do a lot with this little kit. In terms of the fabric pieces I used, I wanted to start easy so I bought some flour sack tea towels, a set of cotton pillowcases and a top from Target. I also had a white dress I got on sale at Old Navy so I threw that in too! It felt a little risky but I'm glad I did it. When picking things out just make sure you are choosing natural fibers and not synthetic materials. 

- 5 Gallon bucket with an air tight lid
- Stir stick
- White fabrics for dyeing

- Extra gloves (they only give you one pair in the kit and they are not the best, a little flimsy and they don't go past your wrists. Next time I am going to get something like this so my hands don't end up blue for a week!)
- Wooden pole or maillot
- String
- Scissors
- Marbles
- Extra rubber bands
- Tongs
- Notebook and pen (to document your patterns and results)
- 2 gallon bucket (for the water dip, this is necessary if you don't have a sink near your work space)
- Plastic tablecloth or drop cloth
This DIY takes several hours, so I'd set aside most of the day if you have it. Shibori is not meant to be rushed. Your pieces will not turn out well if you are in a hurry. I suggest waking up early, setting up your work space, and putting on some good tunes. Since I don't have the luxury of having a yard (I live on the 4th floor of my apt complex), I had to improvise a bit with my 'work space'. I picked a shaded spot by the corner of my building, laid down a drop cloth (which was actually a plastic table cloth from the dollar store), filled one 2 gallon bucket with warmish water, and set the other 5 gallon bucket out for my dye bath. If you have a sink nearby you won't necessarily need to 2 gallon bucket for water, but I didn't want to have to be running up and down the stairs so this was my solution. 
Making the Indigo dye bath: The kit has thorough instructions on how to make the dye bath, so if you follow them carefully you should be good to go. That being said, this was definitely the most intimidating part for me. The dye is sensitive and is not supposed to be exposed to oxygen, so just remember not to slosh or splash around. Stir in a gentle, steady motion to avoid introducing oxygen into the liquid in this phase (it can ruin the whole process). Once you have made the bath, it needs to sit for at least 30 min (an hour is recommended) so at this point you can use this time to fold, bind and tie your fabric. 
Shibori Techniques:
If I can offer any tips at all for this part I would just say go for it. There is no right or wrong way. This is the fun part, so don't dwell too much on how things might turn out. Photo documentation is helpful. I took a picture of the before and after of every piece so now I pretty much know how to get similar results in the future. Also jotting things down in a notebook and sketching beforehand is a good way to go once you get more familiar with the results you will get. I definitely felt like I was winging it a little, this being my first time, but I was really pretty happy with my results! Mistakes can often be beautiful in this art which is a major bonus :)

1. Itajime: aka Accordion Fold technique. Numbers 1. and 3. both use the triangle accordion fold technique. This was a super simple and quick folding technique that involves folding the fabric forwards and then backwards (like an accordion) making pleats in the fabric and then doing the same in a triangle shape. Here is a video example. Number 5. also uses this technique except for instead of folding it into a triangle I continued with a square pattern. This is a good video example for this technique. You may use wooden blocks or claps to secure your shape, but just keep in mind that anything covering the fabric is going to be white underneath. I just secured mine with a couple rubber bands. See below for results.

2. Arashi: aka, the Pole Wrapping method. See number 2. The term arashi is the Japanese word for "storm" which seems fitting for this method producing chaotic designs on a piece of cloth. This was one of the fastest and easiest methods in my opinion. Here is a good video (if you are a visual person like me). Basically you just lay your cloth diagonal to the pole, wrap it around, and secure it with a bunch of string. If you want a more linear patten, make sure not to cross the string, but I was aiming for a random design. See below for visuals and results. 
3. Ne-Maki: aka Bound Resist, circle method. Used in number 6.-- this technique involves placing marbles on the fabric (you can also use rocks, or even just bunch the fabric) and securing them with rubber bands. The rubber band creates a beautiful circular pattern. See below for visuals and results. 
4. Kumo: or Spiderweb method. this technique takes a little time but the results are beautiful. It involves randomly tying areas of fabric in place with ties (you can use yarn, string, plastic, wire, rubber bands etc.) in a cone or horn. I used this technique for number 4. I randomly gathered fabric, tied it at the top and wrapped it down. I did this in several places throughout the piece. It produces a beautiful spiral. See below for results.

{Match the numbers from the previous pic to the corresponding numbers in this picture to give you an idea of the techniques and finished results}
Once you have bound and bundled and done all you need to do to your fabric to produce beautiful patterns, you are ready to start dyeing! You must soak all of your fabric in warm water first and then one at a time place your pieces into the indigo bath. Make sure to stir your bath and remove the 'bloom' before your start. All of this is explained in the kit instructions. During this phase it is very important not to just drop your piece into the dye bath and let it sink to the bottom. Using your hands or tongs, gently submerge it just under the dye surface, making sure not to introduce oxygen into the bath (no splashing, hold very still). I put each piece in the bath for at least 3 min. When removing your piece wring it out underneath the surface and try to avoid as much dripping as possible. Place your piece on the drop cloth and let it oxidize for about 20 min. You will notice that at first the piece is a greenish yellow color, but slowly begins to turn indigo blue as it is exposed to the air. Repeat this process as many times as you'd like to achieve desired results. (I did it 3 times just to ensure a deep blue indigo color)

Now that you have dyed all of your pieces, let them dry completely in the sun, and then wash in cold water  to set the dye. Take pictures and label your results so you can do it again, even better next time! I'm so pleased with this DIY. You really can't go wrong with tie dye and learning the traditional Shibori technique is very cool if you ask me! Happy dyeing!