Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dorm DIY: How to Make a Portable (and Recycled) Flower Press

Ever wanted to press flowers? Spring is the perfect time of year for this craft as blooms are in abundance. Traditional flower presses consist of buying lumber, drilling holes, and assembling with screws. Or you could buy one- for a price averaging around $80. This does not exactly fit the college budget.

To make this press, I used recycled materials and common supplies. You will need:
  • enough corrugated cardboard to cut (3) rectangles 8"L x 5 1/2"W (One medium sized box will usually suffice)
  • (1) newspaper
  • scissors
  • rubber bands (the wide bands work better than the thin bands)
  • Plant material such as petals, leaves, whole flowers (flowers that flatten work better than a whole rose bud. However, plucked rose petals can be pressed)
The Method
  1. Using scissors (or a boxcutter), cut three rectangles measuring 8"L x 5 1/2"W from the corrugated cardboard.
  2. Cut the newspaper into rectangles of the same dimensions as the cardboard. Use the whole newspaper. It takes less time if you fold the newspaper before cutting it.
  3. (Optional step) You can now decorate the rectangle of cardboard that you choose to be your press's cover.
  4. Collect the plant material you want to press.
  5. Place the bottom cardboard cover down first.
  6.  Add two or more layers of newspaper on top. Then arrange some of your gathered plants onto the newspaper layers. Try to not over lap too much; all of your plants do not have to be in the first layer.
  7. Layer a few more sheets of newspaper, then more plants, and more newspaper, continuing until you have about five layers of plants. Cover your work with a second cardboard rectangle.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7. When you have five more layers, add the final cardboard rectangle and wrap the entire thing with three or more wide rubber bands.
  9. After a week or so, your pressed plants will be ready!
Note: You can make this press as thick or thin as you like by choosing how many layers you want based on how many plants you have to press. Keep to the model of five layers or less between two pieces of cardboard, and your project will turn out well.

Have fun!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Final Take: Tales of a Female Nomad

Title: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World 

Author: Rita Golden Gelman

Page Count: 306

My Rating: 4.6/5

My Take: 
Rita Golden Gelman was a successful children’s book writer, mother, and wife. But after the shock of divorce at the age of forty-eight, she decided to give up all she had known to travel the world and set off entirely alone. Suddenly, all her dreams were no longer fantasies. Rita could go anywhere she wanted, whenever she wanted, without anyone’s permission. Life had gifted her with freedom.

Tales of a Female Nomad was a captivating read, as well as informative, filled from cover to cover with breathtaking imagery and honest descriptions. Gelman’s account felt similar to a “beach read”, offering an imaginative escape from reality for 306 pages. However, if you are looking for a truly, in-depth text on the locations featured, this is not it. Tales is about Gelman’s personal transformation from insecure housewife to confident, independent traveler. It is very egocentric, and the amazing destinations are only the stage for the story, not the subject. This is not necessarily a downfall; it just depends on what you are looking for and what you expect from it. If you do not want to read a lot of introspection and self-centered thought, Tales might not be for you.

Gelman set out with personal and anthropological motives, which is why I was not disappointed by her account. I knew it would be an account of her transformation and find that interesting, as such experiences have changed me in the past (more on this in future posts). Her focus is on people and relationships more than destinations, culture more than scenery. However, I found the descriptions fascinating and satisfying nonetheless.

I appreciated Gelman’s candidness throughout the narrative. At first I was put off by certain sexual accounts (there was only one or two) and bodily functions. This was because they were unexpected. As I mulled over it, I realized that she included these because they are realities off travel, and she was including the reader at an intimate level. Gelman also is very open in her feelings on religion and spirituality. I found her spiritual journey drew me in even farther, and I liked that she was not pretentious. I connected with her because she did not pretend to be perfect and have everything figured out.

However, Gelman has one narrative habit that annoyed me at times in the story. After going in depth about how she did not like this or that aspect or practice of a culture, she would conclude by stretching to say positive things about that same thing. This felt forced and fake to me. She kept shoving “it is not my place to judge” in the readers face, but only pages earlier she was doing just that.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone with interest in traveling, soul searching, or individual journeys. Just do not go into this book with wrong expectations. Gelman offers a lot of life lessons and descriptions of other cultures’ practices; this book has a lot to give the reader. Keep an open mind and finish it, even if you find it slow at first.

Price: $14.95 USD
Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or a local independent bookseller (I purchased mine at Two Sisters Bookery in Wilmington, NC).

Monday, March 12, 2012

What I'm Reading: Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman

Hello Readers,

I hope Daylight Savings is treating you well...oh, who am I kidding? We all hate it-myself included. Unfortunately, my spring break is over and was rather uneventful. Now, it's back to classes. However, one treat about college is the end of the semester in early May, and another month and half of school is really not that bad! I feel like this semester has already flown by so much more quickly than my fall semester of freshman year.

Today, I would like to introduce the first series of posts that will call this blog home. I have always been an avid reader, and I soak up reading material like a sponge. I did not read much last semester, nor did I have an English class. I must say I truly, truly missed reading! Over spring break I finally finished the wonderful Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (and loved it). So I decided to crack open a new book today and start a series of posts about what I start reading, as well as my final opinions about the things I read.

Title: Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Author: Rita Golden Gelman

Page Count: 306

Back Cover/Inside Flap Synopsis: 
"Tales of a Female Nomad is the story of Rita Golden Gelman, an ordinary woman who is living an extraordinary existence. At the age of forty-eight, on the verge of a divorce, Rita left an elegant life in L.A. to follow her dream of connecting with people in cultures all over the world. In 1986 she sold her possessions and became a nomad, living in a Zapotec village in Mexico, sleeping with sea lions on the Galapogos Islands, and residing everywhere from thatched huts to regal palaces. She has observed orangutans in the rain forest of Borneo, visited trance healers and dens of black magic, and cooked with women on fires all over the world. Rita's example encourages us all to dust off our dreams and rediscover the joy, the exuberance,and the hidden spirit that so many of us bury when we become adults.

My Thoughts Thus Far:
I am currently forty pages into this book and have followed Gelman's narrative self through Mexico back to the United States, where she is about to set out again. I love traveling and guide books and anything pertaining to the subject and was captivated by the book from page one. Even the parts where Gelman talks about her marriage and divorce, which are dry of travel for only a page or so at the most, serve to explain her inner workings, her mindset, and her motives and add to the story. Her personal life aside from travel serves to remind the reader that Gelman's story is relative to his or her life. Gelman's descriptions of scenery, emotions, and people give the reader a multi-sensory experience, and I found myself growing attached to people she met as she did. At this point, I would highly recommend this book, especially to anyone with study abroad or mission trip interests. It would also be a good read for those who feel they have too many obstacles to travel- Gelman is an inspiration as she lets nothing stop her.

Price:$14.95 USD

Buy it from Amazon for $10.17 USD, Barnes & Noble, or a local independent bookseller (I bought my copy at Two Sisters Bookery in Wilmington, NC)

Your truly,

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hello Readers,

I'd like to introduce myself. I am a college student in the Raleigh, NC  area with affiliations to Meredith College and N.C. State (go Wolfpack!). I am from Wilmington, NC, so living in Raleigh has been and still is a whole new experience and adventure for me!

Part of my personality is wanderlust- I want to wander around and see and experience everything about a new place. I want to know what places locals love and all the secret treasures Raleigh has to offer. I love discovering (for myself) new stores, restaurants, foods, culture and the like.

Before coming to Raleigh, I searched for blogs about the city and about college life in Raleigh but found little to none of what I was looking for. Since August, I have toyed with the idea of starting my own to document my quest to discover the secrets and wonders of Raleigh. Finally, I decided to just go for it!

So please, stick with me. This blog will change and evolve over the next few months, as I attempt to find a pattern or method I like of documenting my discoveries and adventures. I plan on having features on local fashion, food, exhibits, and etc. in the area, but I also want to include generalized anecdotes and advice about college life.

Buckle up because here we go!

Yours truly,