Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Sorry for the Delay

Soooo... I owe you guys a post...and an apology for not posting for over a week. Consistency is the name of the game! But like every good Kenyan I have a great excuse for my shortcoming, and someone to blame...Zuku! Yes Zuku, my internet provider, has let me down these past 3 nights. I get home and the network is down...tsk tsk. So I have not been able to post and also the dog ate my network cable...(too much? Let's stick to it's Zuku's fault!)

I got to the office early today and i'm typing this out quickly before official work hours begin so that I don't feel like I'm robbing my employer (Little Miss Responsible). If anyone is reading this from Zuku, please help! Your customer service keeps me on hold till my airtime runs out!

Anywho I promise to put something up really soon. Now to clean up the paper trail (ps that's a bad hint about what the next project is on).

On a very separate note how AWESOME was the Just a Band album launch! Sorry for the Delay is a great album...need to buy one (insert sheepish look...I know, shame on me for not already owning one...public flogging scheduled at 9).

 Ps do you really think sheep look sheepish? Let's take a poll.


Monday, 22 October 2012

Emotional Rollercoaster...from YES!!! to Oh No!

This  post started of as the 'The Proposal'...and yes, it was going to be about how Mr. Right proposed (it was perfect by the way) and talk about cool ways people have proposed in the past... But it kinda took on a life of it's own. That might be influenced by the fact that today I went to the salon for the first time in over a month to 'treat' my hair and discovered I didn't have enough money for both the hair and my fair home (a fact I discovered only AFTER doing my hair). I have never been so grateful for the random coins I usually throw into my bag. Maybe it's also because the minute I got home I opened the wedding budget to input a new quotation and seeing the new grand total made me think my computer had a virus that was affecting the way my excel computed figures, or the fact that I upon adding the figures using a calculator I realised the computer virus was affecting my calculator as well and I started to wail like a traditional mourner. Why virus? Why!!? It may also have to do with the fact that my Zuku bill is due and these days parting with money almost feels like I'm giving away a kidney (ps can you hire those out temporarily? If yes, what's the going rate? Mild curiosity, that's all). 

People, reality is the greatest boxer of all time! KO

On a very random tangent, want to share one of my fav Ali quotes. It was a failed attempt by Joe to trash Ali back after Ali had seriously dissed him. It went:
Joe - You know Mohammed, I saw your wife walking your kid about the other day. He's starting to look more and more like me.
Ali - You calling my boy ugly, Frazier?

Anywho back to life, back to reality. I want to share my emotional arc or rather the continuous emotional roller-coaster planning a wedding takes you through. Planning a wedding can be very exciting, there's the whole I'm excited I'm marrying my best friend, pretty clothes, shiny jewellery, makeovers...but there's also the bills, expectations coming from all corners of the world, family dramas, weird fights with the fiancé (who knew we'd ever have a tiff about colours). My advise to all my fellow brides- stay focussed on the why you are doing this. At the end of the day I just want to be married to Mr. Right, everything else is just the side show.

So onto the emotional roller-coaster...I'm going to attempt to do this in one paragraph  (sorry Grammar Nazis!). 

Oh My God! This is happening, he's proposing! Quick what do I say? What do you mean what do I say? You've been waiting for this for months now! Yeah but what's the word, the one that means I agree..I Know it starts with a Y...Yolk? No that's not it. Oh my God he's staring at me! Why is he looking at me like that? Oh wait, he's waiting for an answer! He has such nice eyes. This is sooo cool! Must tell the Deeva, Girro, Miss Canada, Giggles, Mad Genius, Doc, DHL, Japanese songbird oh  yes and the Shepherdess wait Yes!!! The word is YES!!!! Yes I'll marry you! This is so exciting, must tell everyone! Didn't expect the folks to freak out like that, but it's ok they'll get over it. Let's set a date. September?  too soon. I like Nov...that doesn't work for Mr. Right. Ok let's do Dec= bad for family member A, maybe Jan? We'll all be broke. Feb? Family member B might mind. March? During elections! Are you nuts!? April? Travel plans, May? The rain. June? The cold. July? More cold. August? That's more than a year away! Back to the beginning. Date set, start planning, how much does this cost? What!!? Yeah I know oil prices have gone up but what does that have to do with hiring a venue? You must have this at your wedding and that at your wedding and oh cute puppies! Is it worth all this drama? Date with Mr. Right, bliss...this is why I want to marry him. Call from caterer, price of potatoes have gone up so has quotation. Why didn't I get married in 2009? Dowry negotiations, How much?! I'm eloping!... Ok fine I'm not eloping. Mr. right do you still want to do this? Ok we are back on track! I'm on it like MPs on a salary increment! Oh that dress is so pretty. I need to lose weight to fit into it. Damn I look hot! I'm hideous!  I'm so lucky! Why is this happening to me? What would Martha do? Sister pep talk, I'm good to go...or am I? Trip to the salon, bliss, no money for transport home, not bliss. Tomorrow meeting to discuss wedding Ndendendende....

The End


Friday, 19 October 2012

You CAN do it!

So before you start saying this blog is not for me, “she was talking about G-clamps in her previous post for heaven’s sake!” take a moment and ponder on this…we studied glaciation in high school. Some of you know more than is reasonably required of a person living in the tropics about glacial periods and melting ice caps. Don’t you feel better for it? No? Well it was a long shot…can’t blame a girl for trying. But maybe you should keep reading simply to better yourself by learning something new with the hope that one day the knowledge that wood glue dries clear will be of use to you or at least make you sound well informed in some random conversation. I once had a conversation about the difference between bantus, nilotes and cushites with a South African and sounded like a genius.

So yesterday I promised to post a DIY project but the gods conspired against me! I got home, got crafting was in my happy place then...Kenya Power struck! Luckily the power wasn't out for long but then my phone went haywire so the flash decided when it would work and wouldn't work (luckily this is not a photography blog but forgive the hazy pics) and worse yet...my net was down. So this is being posted today evening instead of last night.  

Anywho this was meant to be the first actual DIY post so let me get on with it. This post is to prove to you that anyone CAN craft. Yes I know hinting is lame but as you probably correctly guessed this has something to do with cans. Tin cans are a classic example of things that can be converted from trash to treasure.

Stuff you’ll need

1.  Used tin can (tomato paste/ Pringles container/nido can etc)
2.  Scissors
3.  Patterned paper/ fabric or string. I bought wrapping paper for Kshs 30/= from Nakumatt.
4.  Wood glue
5.  Small piece of sponge for applying wood glue
6.  cellotape or decorative tape if you have some- I must confess that I have a random selection of Martha Stewart decorative craft tape I ordered online. I know what you're thinking...this should contain stuff people can get here. Don't panic, patterned tape is available locally from time to time at TBC (Textbook Centre) but cellotape will do just fine. 

7.  measuring tape- though you can wing it
8.  (Spray paint, string/wool, glue gun and mask) optional in case you opt for the bonus stuff

Let’s get started. This craft was inspired by another blog check it here. I was looking for DIY alternatives to vases for my centrepieces and this seemed like a nice cheap alternative to hiring glass vases. I didn't settle on them in the end but they may feature in other areas in the wedding. Who knows?

Step 1- Clean the can- Hopefully you’ve just enjoyed some nyummy Kenylon beans (yes I know they are called baked beans but next you’ll expect me to say margarine instead of Blueband). Anyway clean it up good, take out any label etc. In my case some the label was printed on the actual can but that doesn't matter. 

Step 2- Measure the circumference and height of the tin. Cut a piece of paper/fabric; make one side roughly an inch longer than the circumference of the tin and the other side should measure the height of the tin. (Not confusing at all right?)

Step 3.  Either

ü      Apply a thin layer of wood glue on the surface of the tin, let dry for a minute then carefully wrap the paper/fabric around it ;

ü      Spray a thin layer of spray adhesive onto the paper. (ps spray adhesive works really well on this because the paper doesn't dampen. With wood glue the paper dampens a bit and if you are not careful you’ll get creases.  Con of spray adhesive is that it’s kinda pricy, cheapest being around Kshs 1,250/= at the hardware store in Yaya Centre-trust me I shopped around! Wood glue does the trick so no pressure.); 


ü      Stick the decorative tape on the edge of the paper. The tape should be longer than the paper so that ideally you have tape sticking out of both ends of the paper. If you opt for this then the side of the paper that measures to the height of the tin should be cut down by around half a centimetre.

Step 4- Wrap the paper./fabric round the tin can. Do this carefully to avoid creases or the paper wrapping unevenly. Although the ribbing of the can showing through is not a problem and if you use wood glue it will definitely show through. I think it adds character to the finished piece. (Sorry at this point the flash in my camera-phone stopped working....yes blackberry haters, take a shot! You know you want to.)

Voila! Your transformed tin can! You now have a crafted a cool vase/pen holder/ candle votive/tool tin etc. I threw in some paper flowers into the vases and sat back and admired my handiwork. (pardon the messy table)

Step 4 (bonus stuff)
I think it already looks cool as is but as a bonus you could:
ü      Spray paint the inside of the vase gold (should do so before sticking the paper/fabric). Or simply spray paint the can (no paper/fabric), it looks good like this as well. This works really well for a candle holder. You can puncture holes in the side to make it a Mexican lantern.
ü      Wrap some yarn/string round it (I love yarn wrapped anything and everything! More on this later). I did this in a hurry before running out so it can look way waaaay better (was very late to meet some very cool pips, let's call them the Mafia, who I meet every Thursday).

ü      If you are super glam like one of my girlfriends, let’s call her Doc, glitter is always welcome.
ü      Punch really small holes on the bottom of the tin, place in some soil and convert into a flowerpot. (I'll show you how to do that on some other day). 

And here's my parting shot

On a random side note, a pal of mine, lets call her Japanese songbird, mentioned that the Mr. Right and Acutie sign off pic kinda looks like askew boobs... Now that's all you can see right?  So until next week...sayonara :-D 


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Jembe lako liko wapi?

If you attended a Kenyan school or even went to Sunday school in Kenya you have probably heard some variation of this line:

“Coming to class/church without your pencil/bible is like a farmer going to dig without his jembe*” 

I was always tempted to put up my hand and ask “What if the farmer has a tractor?” But that would probably have landed me a punishment for insolence (insolence in school meant asking a question that a teacher didn't know the answer to or one that nullified a point they were trying to make.  I should add it’s a word I learnt pretty early in life for reasons I need not explain). So I never asked my question and anyway it would have been beside the point. The Point off course not being that farming in Kenya is in need of modernisation but that in order to do a job you need to carry your tools.

So I figured that before I show you some nifty DIY projects I should probably list the jembes/must have items of any crafter. Don’t worry all these items need not be acquired at a go; you may even already own a few tools. Also improvisation is key in our context, you don’t have a clamp= sad but do you have a pile of books or a heavy object you can place on items to stick them together?= #win

Anywho, if you check out many DIY blogs of people living abroad they will mention an array of items that are either not available locally or are known by a different name. E.g. many crafters LOVE burlap and it features heavily in many DIY projects…Burlap in kenyaspeak is gunia. But let me stop rambling and get listing.

No 1 tool of trade….drum roll please

Scissors- good for cutting stuff up with (duh), sometimes act as impromptu tongs/pincers, pliers, hammer, screw drivers you name it. A good scissor is like a ummm (will think of something deep and update this blog entry later). You can get a good pair of scissors in Kenya for anything from Kshs 85/= in Office Mart to Kshs 1800/= in upmarket stores. The one for Kshs 1800/= must be like an automated, telepathic, super-robot, singing pair or something. My advise don’t go too cheap because those might break in a day but there’s no need to break the bank either.

No 2 tool of trade is technically not a tool. If y’all remember what you learnt in woodwork, there is difference between tools and materials; a tool is supposedly not consumable whereas materials get used up. But since writing this blog is like writing my own textbook I’ll call whatever I want a tool.

So No 2 tool is glue…and not just any glue, Wood glue alias PVA glue. Yes you read right. Anyone who took art in high school can tell you this is the King in the craft glue world. It’s white and thick, washes off hands/clothes but sticks things together good and the best part- it dries clear. That is, when dry it’s see-through and colourless, sometimes a bit glossy but that’s not a negative. Wood glue is also cheap and lasts forever- you can buy it from Kshs 100/= in any hardware store or hardware section in most supermarkets. As you can see you can get some in Nakumatt for Kshs 125/=. The price varies off course depending off course the location of the store, size you opt for and the brand.

safety goggles- I use my swimming goggles- improv is the name of the game. To me a must have when working with certain aerosals eg spray adhesive or stuff that could irritate your eyes.

face mask- They sell for Kshs 15/= to 30/= in hardware stores and come in handy when you’re doing your Bane impersonation…not that I do that or anything. (I love you batman). You’ll really appreciate a mask when working with spray paint, at least my lungs do and they show me their appreciation by continuing to work. Hurray lungs!

Kitchen Sponge- Good for cleaning up messes (which you’ll definitely create), applying glue/paint and as a placemat for your cup of tea. Kshs  60/= if you buy the singles. 

Rubber gloves- These are very handy when dealing with glue, paint, glitter, food colour. I presume you do want to have a life outside crafting…don’t you? Walking around with bright blue fingers doesn’t help that. I got my standard issue kitchen gloves for Kshs 70/= at Uchumi but that was a while back. So far the cheapest brand I've seen now is Kshs120/= . With gloves thee are many options so you can probably get a better deal. The gloves that come in the retouch kit? I know Nakumatt used to have a box of gloves (the kind used in hospitals) and you could buy per pair for less than a hundred (will confirm price).

Needle and Thread- Before you turn away in disgust and lecture me on how we went to Beijing so that women everywhere would never have to use these tools of oppression again, let me just say two words to you…Man Bag. We live in a world where men have cooler fashion accessories than us and in many cases are better groomed. I think my needle and thread balances out the chaos.
And if you are like aaargh I gave up home science so that I would never have to do a back-stitch again…to you I say the time has come for you to let go of the past and face your fears! How long can you run? Let the reconciliation begin…I’m here for you…needles are our friends (and that statement should not in any way be taken as an endorsement for drug abuse).

Hot glue gun- I got mine plus the glue pellets from Amazon for the equivalent of Kshs 850 /= see link here. But I know they must be available locally because I’ve seen them with tailors and the people who do appliqué on table cloths etc. (I'll be on the lookout for where and how much) It’s soooooooooooooooooooooo handy!!! But don’t worry I’ll always show you an alternative to it. And people, even though it's fun to fire up the gun, glue guns are NOT toys...when plugged in that is, if not on they are pretty handy for walking round the house feeling all Lone Ranger-y (not that I do that either).

Stuff you should have that I don’t (but really wish I had)- Pliers, clamp (yes remember the trusty g-clamp), small saw, drill, screw drivers and a tool shed (for crafting and not for hiding bodies). Actually I feel like I just described a good Swiss army knife (except for the tool shed part). 

Random tip- visit the Mia Moja stores- you know the ones that sell everything for Kshs 100/=. I got a cool set of staedtler knives, a solid paint brush and other random craft tools there for 100 bob. And so far they are still working well woop woop.

I think that’s it. We can get crating! I’m going to put up a second post today with a simple craft that uses most/if not all the tools I listed above. Realise a DIY blog should have at least one DIY project posted on there to start with. So coming soon…ie tonight.

*Jembe; Swahili for hoe.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Beginning

I once watched a movie where the main character, an author, was having trouble starting his book. His dilemma stemmed from the fact that so many other authors had set such a high bar as far as beginnings go that he felt he couldn't compare. 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

"In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”
“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book', thought Alice, 'without pictures or conversation?”
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.”

“Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Ok I got carried away quoting some of my favourite opening lines in books but you get the point. The start of something sets the tone. It lets you know whether you are in for a fun adventure or about to embark on a grey's anatomy-esque cry fest. (PS I'm convinced that the writers of Grey's anatomy meet in a grey building in a windlowless room with grey walls and conjure up ways to get audiences depressed and crying in 30 minutes or less. In every meeting the number one question on their minds is- "How do we get them to drown in a pool of their own tears?").

Sorry again I digress; let me get back on course. What was I saying? Oh yes, beginnings! So I completely get what that author in that movie (can't remember the name) was feeling. I wanted to start this blog with uumph, show that i'm silly and geeky but intelligent and well-read without coming off as stuck up or like I take myself too seriously and all the while trying to avoid sounding ditsy or shallow. Easy…right? *sigh* 

So I decided to begin by writing about writing my beginning...Clever? No...yes? Love me?!

Anywho, this blog was initially thought up by my fiancé, an actuary and self-proclaimed math geek, who for all intents and purposes shall herein be referred to as Mr. Right. He wanted us to write a blog together about the whole wedding planning process in Kenya and the madness of what happens when traditional culture meets modern day realities. I got all excited about it and I was on the idea faster than a weave on Tyra! Already had the various topics we would cover, put up the blog the very next day etc... As you can probably tell this story arc does not have a happy ending. Scheduling conflicts, everyday busyness and oh yeah, the fact that Mr. Right kinda didn't think I'd take his off-hand idea so seriously (does this guy know me?!) means the blog had an early funeral (it didn't even see death coming, the poor thing). But my readers will be happy to know the funeral was beautiful, Mr. Right even said a few touching words...it was nice.

Life moved on as did the wedding planning…C'est la vieBecause of the expense of planning a wedding I've taken on very many DIY projects. Now don't feel sorry for me; It's fun, I love doing artsy things and it saves me money doing things myself so hurray! I was sharing some of these projects with my friend who lives abroad, let's call her Mad Genius, and she suggested that I start a blog about the crafts I'm making.

 "DIY is big business here in the States and you could be like the Kenyan Martha Stewart". Mad Genius

First of all I LOVE MARTHA. I think I need to say that out loud so all of y'all reading this would understand why her statement got me all excited. Secondly being the Kenyan Martha Stewart is a life long dream I didn’t even know I had. I mean the minute she put those words together ie Kenyan and Martha Stewart something clicked in my brain and I was like I didn't even know I wanted that but I want it so bad! It’s destiny...I was born to hold that title! In the movie adaptation of my life, this moment will have a chorus of angels singing off screen, a montage of happy childhood memories and a CGI animation merging Martha's body to my head. Too much? Mr. Right says I sometimes come off as too intense, let me know if I ever start freaking you out, and no I didn't forget to take my medication...today...I think... Thirdly if writing about saving money by having DIY elements in your wedding can save me money by making me some money then all the power to it! You dig?

Anyway, so that's the 4-1-1 on the beginning of this blog. Stay tuned or ummm log on...subscribe? Subscribe sounds about right. Yeah do it like that, you know mama likes it all arts & crafty! Ok now it's getting weird. I'll STOP.