52 Projects is an adventure in discovery. Every week, for 52 weeks, do something. Something you’ve never done before. Something you’ve always wanted to do. Something that scares you. Something that inspires you. Something that inspires others. Something that tickles your fancy. Something that caught your eye. Something that just popped into your head. It can be big. It can be small. It can be whatever you want it to be. Find out how doing something can lead you to discover things about yourself, your world, your God. Then, come here on Sundays and share it with others. I'll write about mine here, you write about yours on your blog, then use the tool in my post to link to your something. Please feel free to jump in and participate anytime throughout the year!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week 32: taking a cruise

This week's 52 Projects comes to you one day early. In about 2 hours, we are leaving for a 5 night cruise to Bermuda on Royal Caribbean. I've never been on a cruise ship and I've never been to Bermuda. I guess I'm killing 2 birds with one stone this week. I actually have fond memories of driving my grandparents to the Queen Elizabeth. One of my prized possessions is a little blue sailor doll that they got on one of their stays on the QE11. They loved to travel and took many cruises. There we were standing in the parking lot area waving them off and now it's my turn to stand on the deck as we embark on a Caribbean adventure.

I'm not sure that I would have chosen a cruise for a vacation. I've always had a fear of sea sickness and I'm one of those people who likes to be free to roam the land. But last Christmas my parents handed my brothers and I each an envelope with a gift of a cruise to Bermuda. I'm still a little nervous but really looking forward to this new experience. There will be 10 of us in total. What a great chance to catch up with my family and enjoy some great meals and land excursions to Bermuda.

We discovered that it costs 65 cents per minute to use the internet while we are on the cruise. So we decided to leave our lap tops behind and hence the reason for posting this early. Besides, I really want to get away from everything, including the daily routine of internet addiction.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead. I'll be posting more about the trip when we return next week.

Bon Voyage :)))

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Week 31: A new use for mayonnaise

For years I've wanted to try my hand at making my own natural skin and hair care products. Well, this has been one hell of a hot summer and my poor hair has taken a beating with all of this extreme heat and humidity. Not to mention the fact that the texture of my hair has really changed with all the gray in it. I've not met too many people who have been cursed with naturally curly hair like mine but I can tell you that there are some days, especially in the summer, that I just want to shave it off. But before I go and shave it all off, I decided to make my own deep conditioner to see if it would help at all. I decided to try an avocado-mayonnaise conditioner.

First I mashed one avocado and a half cup of mayonnaise in a bowl, mixed it until it was smooth and applied it to my damp hair. It was a bit messy so if you try this at home, make sure to put a towel on the floor.

After rubbing it through my hair from top to bottom, I wrapped my head in Saran Wrap and then covered it with a towel. I let it penetrate my hair for 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, I got in the shower and combed the mixture through my hair. I washed my hair with a mild shampoo and let it dry as usual.

I was on the fence as to whether or not this worked but I think the real proof came this weekend while we were away at a resort in Maryland. We went swimming in a heavily chlorinated pool and I was able to comb through my hair so easily. This is usually not the case. I would definitely recommend this treatment for dry/damaged hair. In fact, I want to try it once a week for a month or two to see if it makes even more of a difference.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Week 30: A hand knit patchwork afghan

This week I started a very big knitting project. One of my favorite knitting books is Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick:

I've had this book for years and I've always wanted to try my hand at a knitted blanket. The skills are easy but the amount of time it would take to knit all of the squares always made me shy away from it. The project that has me inspired is the patchwork afghan that you see here made for a llama:

I'm making one about four times the size. To digress for a moment, the idea came strongly to me the other day that I'm supposed to knit a prayer shawl which I've never done before. I started researching prayer shawl patterns until it eventually took me full circle back to the blanket for the llama. I'm knitting 48 squares which will be whip stitched together to form one big blanket. Each square consists of 30 stitches across by 56 rows. Each square is built around a specific prayer, mantra or intention. With each stitch that I knit, I say that prayer, mantra or intention. By the time I finish 48 squares, we will be wrapping ourselves in over 80,000 blessings. The task of knitting each square no longer feels monotonous. Each square takes me about an hour to knit and I look at this as one hour of meditation/prayer/quiet time. My goal is to knit one square per day for 48 days. I will have this blanket done on September 26th, which is also my daughter's birthday. I've already stayed on track with my goal since I purchased the yarn on Tuesday. I'm working on my 6th square today.

This project has also taught me some lessons about yarn. I have to say that I have always been a bit of a yarn snob. All of my projects to date have been scarves and hats. They haven't required that much yarn so I'm much more willing to purchase expensive skeins that feel luxurious to me. I also prefer natural fibers with a sweet tooth for alpaca. With this project, I will need at least 2,200 yards of yarn. It simply isn't in my budget this time around to spend hundreds of dollars on this blanket. But I do want the best quality I can use for a reasonable price. After a lot of research, I decided to go with Patons Classic Wool which is 100% lambs wool and comes in a fairly decent range of colors. At $4.99 for a 223 yard skein, this stuff is a good buy and really nice to knit with.

I can't wait to show you the finished blanket in September!

What have you done this week?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week 29: lots of biking

My project for this week involves more cycling than what can be done in one day; consider this one as the start of something that will span over the next few months. A while back, for Father's Day, I bought Breen a book of short rides in Philadelphia. It's been sitting around our house for some time now. Most of you know by now that Breen is a pretty avid road cyclist. I, on the other hand, enjoy the slower pace of back trails on my hybrid Trek. I also have noticed that I've gotten a bit soft with my exercise and it is high time to make some changes and stop making excuses. I've tried lots of forms of working out over the years. Running? Hate it. Swimming? Never learned how to do it correctly as a child. Yoga? I have a rod in my back. Kickboxing? Loved it but the trainer stopped giving sessions long ago. Bike riding is something that I really do enjoy though.

This is the book that has gotten me motivated:

It features 26 rides ranging from easy to difficult and as close by as 15 minutes to as far as 3 hours away. One of the rides even involves camping on the trail overnight. I can put the bike on my car and go alone or we can all go as a family because the rides are family friendly which is good exercise for all. This morning Breen and I went to the Wissahicken trail in Philadelphia and I was able to check one off. I've also been on 2 others. That still leaves 23 to go. With a goal like this in mind, it will be easier to want to get on my bike. I'm really looking forward to seeing some new places over the next few months.

What did you do this week?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Week 28: journals made from plastic bags

Last week in Lake Placid, I came across a wonderful toy store with a small art book collection in the back. I immediately fell in love with this book; Eco Books by Terry Taylor.

I love the idea of re purposing objects. This book gives you so many amazing ideas for books made with things you most likely have sitting around your house. Things like egg cartons and old cassette tapes and dental floss containers and cereal boxes. But the one that caught my eye was a book made out of plastic shopping bags. I've got dozens of them stuffed under my kitchen sink. I never would have thought that they could be heated together in to book covers.

To get started, I grabbed about 3 plastic bags per book. I took scissors and deconstructed the bag by cutting off the handles and opening the bag in to one big rectangle. I started folding the bag in half and then in half again until I had a rectangle about 9x6 inches and about 8-10 layers deep. Then I put my plastic rectangle in between two layers of newspaper and I set my iron on low heat. Obviously never put the iron directly on the plastic! It takes a few minutes and sometimes you have to adjust the iron a little hotter but what begins to happen after about 8-10 minutes is that the plastic begins to fuse together. I gently ironed back and forth, checking every so often, until it all fused together. Magically, it doesn't stick to the newspaper. When I was finished, I let the rectangles cool and they looked like this:

Next, I cut the rectangles in half, hole punched the sides and filled them with some heavy card stock paper I had on hand. Everything is held together with silver binder rings.

I discovered that you could tear pieces of different color plastic and add them to the cover too. It gives kind of a collaged effect. The covers themselves are fairly flexible but sturdy. I really only touched the surface of possibilities here. Next time I might add snips of paper images and text under some of the layers. I might add paint to the finished covers. These are the perfect size to toss in to your handbag. Try one...I'm sure you've got plastic shopping bags sitting around.

What did you learn this week?