Thursday, May 4, 2017

My Backyard DIY Summer Projects: Terrariums and Gardening

This is a smaller post while I put together my how-to for my solar-powered lights. Recently, I decided I needed another feel-good project, and lately, something that makes me feel super good is building things and working in my garden and on my patio. So, I decided to build a terrarium for inside near our kitchen sink and make a little succulent bowl for outside on the patio. I also planted some flowers, because I love flowers and so do bees!

I started with the succulent bowl first.

Oh, and my super rad neighbor (who I ran into at the garden store only about a half hour before all of this!) gave me, as she said, "The best margarita you'll ever try," and I'll be honest, it certainly was! I will have to try and find a recipe to share with her next time around. :)

Anyway, you can see my supplies! I chose a bunch of baby succulents, a nice glass bowl, some potting soil, some moss, and (not pictured above, but it is below) some river pebbles.

The first thing I did was fight the pebble packaging. Not even joking. Like, seriously! Who's going to steal river pebbles? It took me almost half of my margarita and some serious determination to pry the lid off of that thing! Ugh!

But once I managed (HA! I am stronger than that blasted tape after all!), I poured about half of the river pebbles into the bowl.

I have no idea why. I guess this helps drain the excess water from the soil or something? No clue. Everyone on Pinterest was doing it, so I wanted to be part of the fad and jumped in (I also did this for my large standing light fixture, but I'll discuss that more in my next post). I smoothed the rocks out because why not, and then it was time for the soil!

I love soil. Like, probably an unhealthy amount. I almost never use gardening gloves (unless I'm picking prickly weeds or working with mulch, because splinters are gross). Anyway, I dumped some potting soil on top of the rocks and sort of eyeballed it. Then, it was time for the plants!

I played around with the succulents' positions for a while, trying to decide what I liked best. This was supposed to be their final form, but then I realized I couldn't get the aloe apart, so I had to put it in the center. Which is fine; it turned out looking pretty!

Last came the decorations. I bought some fairy garden stuff (from the sale bin!). The zebra plant had to be moved to make enough room, but overall, I was pretty happy with the end result.

Can you find the hedgehog in the first shot? ;) I ended up moving him later, but still love how cute he is!

And here the final product is, sitting out by one of my lamps!

Next on my list was the terrarium.

I also filled it with rocks. Honestly, at this point, I think it's just the fashionable thing to do.

Next was the soil! My favorite!

Woah, that's not soil. Okay, but it still shows you how many river pebbles I added and the little wishing well I planned to put inside.

Ah, better! Then, somehow, I managed to squeeze a zebra plant in.

The zebra plant was almost touching the top, which meant it wouldn't have any room to grow. So I took another swig of the best margarita ever, pulled the zebra plant out, and emptied half of the rocks and dirt into my soil bag. Bummer. Once I adjusted the levels, I put the zebra plant back in.

MUCH better. Now the plant has some wiggle room to get a little bigger.

I then stuffed the moss in and fit the wishing well inside. But, there was a problem. I still had this last little cute succulent left, and I had no place to put her! After some contemplation of the deepest kind, I decided the plant deserved to be in the terrarium, not the wishing well.

And boy does she look ADORBS there! Yup, I made the right choice, no doubt about it!

That's not to say the wishing well didn't find a place. It did, right among some freshly planted daisies and moss! Perfect fit!

Monday, April 24, 2017

New Book by K. M. Hodge!!

I am so excited to announce the launch of K.M. Hodge’s third book in her Syndicate-born Trilogy. True Blue Son is the most thrilling and suspenseful book yet.. Are you new to the series? You can get a FREE sample of the award winning first book in series, Red on the Run: Red on the Run. If you pick up an eBook copy of  Red on the Run you will get the first five chapters of Black and White Truth for FREE too! You can also check out the fun Facebook Live video the author did for the second book. Be advised it does contain spoilers for the first book.  

The Syndicate-born Trilogy:  

K.M. Hodge does a great job of creating a world of suspense and romance that sucks you in.” - Five Star Amazon Reviewer

The Syndicate-born Trilogy takes readers into the deep underbelly of crime and corruption where men and women seek power by any means necessary. Her flawed and relatable characters will stick with you well after you finish the books. The books take you on an emotional roller coaster as the characters go through heart wrenching tragedies and triumphant wins wins. You might need a box of tissues for this series. Grab your FREE sample now or get your FREE copy of the eBook April 27-29.

True Blue Son:
Dr. Zander Ride grew up a son of The Syndicate, his fate as a career criminal all but sealed. With the help of his mother, he escaped a life of crime... until the night The Syndicate shot his mother in cold blood

Zander soon finds refuge in the hands of his mother's hacktivist group, who want his help bringing down the notorious group once and for all. But it comes with a cost. Managed by a different leader and guided by a new deadly mission, the hacktivists force Zander to confront the truth about his parents and the sacrifices they made for the cause.

In the end, Zander must decide how far he's willing to go and what he's willing to sacrifice. Can a child born of The Syndicate bring it all down, or will he be another pointless sacrifice in their struggle for money and power?

Author Bio:
K.M. Hodge grew up in Detroit, where she spent most of her free time weaving wild tales to spook her friends and family. These days, she lives in Texas with her husband and two energetic boys and once again enjoys writing tales of suspense and intrigue that keep her readers up all night. Her stories, which focus on women's issues, friendship, addiction, regrets and second chances, will stay with you long after you finish them. When she isn't writing or being an agent of social change, she reads Independent graphic novels, watches old X-files episodes, streams Detroit Tigers games and binges on Netflix with her husband. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so don't be shy about dropping her a line.

* K.M. Hodge was awarded the winter of 2016 Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for The Syndicate-born Trilogy book #1, Red on the Run.

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(Available for FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

Friday, February 10, 2017

My First Tattoo

Something happened on Tuesday, something I've been thinking about for about 15 years (no lie). I got my first tattoo. I've been tossing the idea of getting a tattoo around for a long time (half of my life, since the beginning of The Amuli Chronicles, actually), and I decided I finally knew a design I could never regret. One that would mean something to me every single time I looked at it.

I sent this design to an artist named Sarah recommended to me by a friend. She and I discussed briefly what I was looking for, and she tossed a price out. I skimmed her art and did a little more research on her work and on other local artists and studios before deciding, heck yeah, I want to get my first tattoo from this amazing, burgeoning artist. Supporting emerging artists is important to me, and it's an awesome feeling knowing I will get to walk around with her art on my body forever. Pretty sure I chose right!

The design is important to me for a few reasons. First, it's a character's name from one of my book series (the Soulbound series); next, it's the name of the second character I developed for this series: Marik. The two glyphs (yes, two, not three) are split into mar and ik, meaning literally firstborn blood. I like to joke about how my imaginary friends get angry with me if I work on another series or think about other stories, but it's actually true. I wrote a book outside of The Amuli Chronicles last November for NaNoWriMo, and Marik and the others of my Chronicles were so angry, they are only just now speaking with me again. I understand why they were mad; the new book is fairly far removed from my normal work, and it derailed me emotionally and artistically, but I'm glad I gave it a go.

Back to Marik. In the past, when I've considered giving up and walking away from writing, he has always been the one to pull me back. Clae and Eti, too, and they will eventually get their own marks, but for me, Marik represents more than a character or a good friend. He is the person who repeatedly sees me at my worst; he reflects a lot of who I am when I'm at my worst. Hopeless. Angry. Self-loathing. Wrathful. Self-destructive. All of these things sort of combined into this man (Nicholas is the opposite; he's my manic self, but that's another story), and this man is the reason I continue to write. Because in truth, the story I want to tell belongs to him as much as it does me.

So, I messaged Sarah Tuesday morning and asked if she had a slot open that day. Fate, I figured, would be the one to ultimately decide if I got ink or not. She did! I had to rush a hair appointment (have to go back next week to get the rest done; long story there...), but I made it a little early.

After filling in the disclaimer form (including checking a box noting where I understood that tattoos are *gasp* perminant!), she took me back to her cubicle and we chatted a little about the design I wanted. I tossed out the idea of adding watercolor, and she rolled with it. She explained everything to me--from opening the needle and instrument before me to what the pain might be like (of course, this is what I was the most nervous about!). She offered to do a tiny tester, and I was ultimately surprised at how little it hurt (until the needle hit the middle of my wrist--ouch!).

As she worked on the glyphs, she asked what I was thinking of for the watercolor. She and I had already chosen colors, but not really a design. Sarah suggested something organic, and the idea struck me as perfect. I'm a big lover of things being unique. I love to buy items a little scratched up or worn (my angel from the Thai bazaar in Bangkok is a good example; I have the one they used for display instead of one wrapped in a plastic bag... mine has way more character!).

Some of the black ink smudged, as is wont with tattoos, and I mentioned I liked how the smudges looked. She went with it, and lo and behold, after a few adjustments, this was the design!

I went with bright colors because of my depression. I wanted something I could look at for years and years and still see as bright, as impacting, as a brilliant memory and something to inspire me when I'm at my lowest. The positioning of the tattoo, even, was thoroughly thought through. I wanted to be able to almost accidentally look at the tattoo and be able to smile.

That light, that memory, and the meaning of the tattoo as a whole is very important to me. Beyond firstborn blood, this tattoo stands for so much more. It stands for hope. It stands for my dreams. The ink swimming through my skin is a reminder to never give in. A reminder to fight, to believe in what I want in life, and to keep pushing forward no matter the obstacles.

And it certainly won't be my last.

I think a Gundam tattoo might be in order next (but not for a while! I need to save up and really work on the design until it's perfect; it'll be a bit bigger than this one, but just as meaningful).

Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you? If not, have you ever thought about getting one and why? Tell me about your body art/dream body art! This is a dialogue, after all. ;)

Thank you for reading!