It is something we don’t think about until we lose it. It is powerful, captivating, and extremely important . . . it is your voice.
Like the Little Mermaid found out the hard way, once you lose your voice it can make things a bit challenging, especially if you are a performer.
Before the Show
Much like hydrating before an outdoor event, you can start preparing yourself for greatness several days before the performance. Here are some dos and don’ts.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the performance. If you live in a dryer climate you might want to consider getting a small humidifier to help keep your money maker moist and happy.
Never forget to warm up. You wouldn’t take off and run ten miles without stretching, so don’t expect your vocal chords to do the same. They are a muscle too, and before you exert them, do some vocal exercises to make sure they are limber.
During the Show
Remember these words: “Project to Protect”. While you are performing, use the vocal tool of projection. This means diaphragmatic breathing to draw power from the bottom of your lungs to the top. This puts less strain on your vocal chords.
Projecting also gives you a better performance. You can get far more volume this way, especially if you are not using a microphone.
After the Show
After you’ve sung your heart out or belted your best, it’s time to give that voice of yours a rest. Cool down exercises can reduce inflammation and encourage the chords to relax. If your pipes are a little bent out of shape, gargling with warm salt water can help minimize swelling and honey is a tried and true staple for vocal recovery. Some other libations that can be helpful are peppermint tea, which clears nasal passages, and cucumber water, which is super hydrating post exertion, especially after an outdoor event.
So go ahead and sing, or shout, but remember to take good care of your voice. Unless you are getting paid to mime, protecting and projecting will be essential to ensure the show, and you, can go on.
Break a leg!
Here is a lovely bookmark pattern. Although purling through the back loop can be a bit fiddley, it is worth it. That way, the cast on stitches are tight and neat and there are no unsightly gaps. I hope you enjoy!
As necessity has often been the inspiration for me and my knitting patterns, these cute little dice pouches are no exception. Our DM was so kind and gave Matthew and I each a set of dice for gaming. I happened to have one of my unfinished cotton rounds nearby and found that it was the perfect size to hold one set of gaming dice. So a few modifications later, and voila!
You can make these monochromatic, or use two tones. I think cotton yarn works well because it’s a little sturdier or thicker. If you don’t have any cotton, a worsted weight yarn of choice will probably work just fine too.
One key tip I learned the hard way is to put any embellishments or embroidery that you want on the pouches before you thread the drawstring through. Trust me, lol.
I hope you enjoy these and happy gaming!
Most of the time when you think about choices in acting, it is self-driven motivations and discoveries that come to mind. However, re-acting is an equally important element of performance, where you consider how your character will respond to the situations and other characters around them.
Reacting in opposing ways can add great complexity to a character. Perhaps they are an overbearing, antagonistic boss, but when their wife or mother appears, they become sheepish and submissive. Perhaps the character is easily manipulated and taken advantage of by others in positions of power, but they command total control over their own household or domain.
Discovering how your character addresses conflict, confusion, or unforeseen circumstances will give you a great depth of insight into their construction, and add a rich layer to your portrayal.
Here are some questions to consider:
Of course the questions you ask about your character’s reactions will be largely determined by the scenes, setting, and play you are participating in, but hopefully this is a good starting point for you to build from.
One of my favorite examples of re-acting and how it can dynamically change a scene is in the television show “Black Books”. The character of Bernard, played by Dylan Moran, is a cantankerous curmudgeon that can’t stand most people and his reactions to them fit accordingly. His response style does not change throughout much of the series, except in one particular episode, when he meets a charming male explorer. Bernard’s reaction to this man is completely out of the norm. He is giddy, polite, considerate, even flirtatious. This made it a spectacular performance to watch, because his response to this new player was nothing that we as an audience had come to expect.
So have fun exploring how you will not only act, but re-act as your character, and break a leg.
I love knitting lace, it's so beautiful and elegant. And when I became frustrated with chunky cardboard or plastic bookmarks, I began knitting some lace reader keepers and have been hooked...or needled. (Fiber art humor, lol). These arrowhead lace bookmarks are deceptively simple and are a great way to mark your spot in a favorite story.
My new year's resolution for 2021 was to reduce our household's waste. Here is a quick update on how it's going.
(Links to product companies at the end.)
O F F I C E:
One of my favorite things that I've purchased to help me go green is my mini Rocketbook. I take notes throughout my workday, edit my "to-do" list, and keep track of my hours since I work from home on a notepad by my computer. I realized I was using 1 to 2 sheets of paper per day, and there had to be a better way. I put out a call on Snapchat for recommendations and my friends told me about Rocketbooks. They are awesome! You just wipe them off with the microfiber cloth at the end of the day, and you're good to go with a clean slate. It also has an upload/digital feature that I haven't tried yet, but it's neat that the option is available if I ever wanted to use the QR code to instantly digitize my notes. The longest I've left ink on the pad so far has been two weeks, and it still wiped off great.
L A U N D R Y:
I have heard about wool dryer balls (as a replacement for dryer sheets) for a long time, and being a knitter myself it was a no-brainer to make a few of my own. I finally got to use some 100% wool yarn I'd been saving, and they turned out great. I've noticed a much faster dryer time with my clothes. I also have a few clothing and household items that can't be washed with fabric softener, so it's a great added bonus that I don't have to worry about them anymore, I just toss all my laundry in the dryer with the wool balls and go about my day.
I have tried a few products from the company Blueland. And so far I really like all of them. Their laundry tabs make my clothes so soft and fresh, are unscented, and are sans-plastic.
B A T H:
Along with the laundry tabs from Blueland I also got their foaming hand soap and bathroom cleaner starter kits. The first thing I was impressed with was the size of them. They're huge! I have a picture of the cleaner next to a wine bottle for scale. They were shipped in completely recyclable packaging and I have been really happy with both of them so far. Their fragrances are pleasant and light, not overwhelming, which is great for me because I'm sensitive to strong smells. You use the attractive reusable bottles and fill with water, then add their refill tabs to make the solution inside. It was fun watching the little tabs dissolve, like Alka-Seltzer. I hope to get their multi-purpose cleaner kit too, once I use up the current one I have.
B E A U T Y:
One of the biggest areas I (and I think most women) create waste is when it comes to our beauty routines. With the average woman using anywhere from 12 to 16 different cosmetic products every day, and most of them being in plastic and nonrecyclable containers, the beauty industry definitely needs to make some improvements when it comes to the environment. My shower has perhaps gotten the biggest makeover. I now use solid bar shampoo, conditioner, and soap. I still use disposable razors for now, but I use each one for two months, so I only use 6 per year. I have been pleasantly surprised by how low-maintenance this has made my shower routine, and traveling is a breeze! I also knit myself reusable cloths/loofas which I affectionately dub "shower flowers" and the one in the picture is about 5 years old. I Love This Cotton yarn is amazing folks, it holds up in the laundry and is super sturdy. The shampoo and conditioner are from HiBar, and I love them. The shampoo suds up well and the conditioner feels moisturizing. They don't leave any heavy scents in my hair, it's just shiny, soft, and healthy.
In an earlier post I shared my pattern for reusable makeup remover rounds. I am still tweaking these a bit, and you can find the original article HERE.
S U M M A R Y:
Overall I am really happy with the changes we've made. Using our own tote bags at stores instead of plastic sacks has been another great improvement, and they can hold so much more, so less trips to the car is a bonus.
While our reducing journey continues, it is fun to reflect on the changes we have made so far. Hopefully this article helps inspire you, or offers suggestions you hadn’t thought of before on how you can find ways to reduce your own household waste.
Links to the companies mentioned:
I Love This Cotton
My goal for this year is to waste less. Reflecting upon my daily beauty care routine I realized I was throwing away about 16 disposable cotton rounds every week. That's 64 every month! So, I decided to make my own reusable option. I love these because they are double-sided, so I can use one per day, one side in the morning, and the other at night. I also like them because they hold up well in the laundry and I've already noticed my skin getting happier and healthier! I do recommend washing them before the first use. Another tip is to be sure and get a good quality and soft 100% cotton yarn. My favorite brand is "I Love This Cotton".
Matthew and I love to travel. Having spent so much time in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts I've learned some packing "hacks" that are my go-to when I get away. Here are some of my must-haves.
1. Oven Mitt
I've found that the only heat styling tool I need for my hair is a good quality straightener. I can straighten my hair and make curls with it, freeing up some much needed space in my already crowded suitcase. Although they sell travel cases for styling tools, they can get a bit pricey, and I've found that a spare oven mitt works just as well.
2. Deck of Cards
When we have the space to bring an extra bag of board games we usually do, but sometimes you're pressed for elbow room. That is when a simple deck of cards is a great thing to pack. You can play an endless variety of games from one little deck, and they are a very travel-friendly size.
3. Luggage Tag
When we took a train to California we had to put luggage tags on our bags, per Amtrak requirements. I've ended up liking them so much that I keep them on my suitcase 24/7 now, just in case of accidents or emergencies. We found ours at Walmart for around $4 each, but they also have them at dollar stores for $1. You can read my blog post about packing tips for overnight train trips by clicking HERE.
4. Travel Bags
These adorable bags are one of my greatest dollar store finds. They only cost $1 each and they are just as sturdy as any other cosmetic bag I've ever had. I can fit all my makeup in one, and my hair wrap in the other. Think outside the "bag" as you shop. A pencil case could be perfect for makeup brushes, or a binder bag work for a travel towel.
5. Door Stop
I recently watched a video on vacation security on Snapchat. In the video they said that a simple rubber door stop can be one of the most effective tools of travel safety and they are super inexpensive. (Once again I found mine at the dollar store for only $1). Little did I know how soon this would come in handy. Staying at a historic hotel, we were awoken in the early morning by someone pounding on our door and trying to open it. (Thief, confused construction worker, who knows). Even though there was an old fashioned door knob with a lock on the door, there was a four-inch gap at the bottom and a less than tight seal. I am so glad we had the door stop, it helped prevent the door from budging or the lock from being tempted to give way.
6. Bottled Water
All of my years as a renaissance festival performer has instilled within me a very diligent need to always have drinking water nearby. I have also gotten sick more than once from drinking the water from our hotel room's tap. So now, I always bring enough bottles of water to drink. My goal for this year is to get a larger gallon and refill a reusable bottle to save on waste.
7. Rechargeable/No Battery flashlight
I've been in several situations where it has been handy to have a flashlight. However, trying to remember to keep batteries in one you don't use all the time can be a hassle. The large batteries required for most flashlights also make them very heavy; and when you're hauling your suitcase up four flights of stairs, every ounce counts. I keep this wind-up flashlight in my suitcase at all times, so it's ready to go and I never forget to pack it.
Whether you're on a train, bus, or sharing a room with a bunkmate, headphones or earbuds come in very handy. They allow you to hear your entertainment device over the noise around you, and keep the peace if someone nearby is trying to sleep.
9. Chargers/Power Cords
Of course with all of the electronic gadgets we bring with us now a days it is essential that you bring the proper chargers and power cords. To conserve space you can use adapters and all-in-ones.
10. Travel Clock
Hotel clocks for some reason always seem to have the loudest and most annoying alarms ever. So I bring my own. I've had this little travel clock for about 20 years now. It was actually a reward for selling Girl Scout cookies back when I was a preteen! A small, convenient travel clock with an alarm sound you like, and a night display or snooze button is a great thing to bring. Instead of having to learn how to use the clock in the room and risking oversleeping, bringing your own ensures you will not only get a good night's rest, but will wake up on time as well.
I hope this article has given you some new ideas or can be helpful as you get ready to hit the dusty trail. Have a great trip and happy adventuring!
I wanted to knit a Christmas present for a family member this year. Being huge Nebraska Cornhusker fans I searched for a pattern to celebrate the beloved football team. However, I couldn't quite find one that included a winter element, which I wanted to have incorporated into the design. So I created this pattern. It just so happens that our last name initial is "N" so it serves a great double-purpose and leant itself to the naming of the pattern.
I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I do.
This hat pattern came from a commission I received from a family member who saw a similar one online. It can be a little hard on the knuckles with twisting the bulky yarn, but the result is well worth the effort. I've made a few more for friends and they love them. I hope you enjoy it as well!