Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Schedule Alone Time

Stress is a constant complaint of many overworked people.  I find the best method is to have time alone to gather your thoughts, process your emotions, and sort out daily drama.  I cherish my alone time.

I like to put classical music in my ears and go to place with no TV or other distractions.  Many times Starbucks will do.  Other times I just go to the park and feed the ducks.  Either way, it feels like the stresses of life and confusions that threaten my sanity just fall away. 

Sometimes I take my camera and take pictures of interesting things, lightings, trees or flowers, just for me, not for work or assignments.  Sometimes I will take my tablet and pens to just sketch whatever I see.  This is one of my favorite unwind methods.  Many people like to just doodle to clear there thoughts.  Why not?  Whatever works.

Alone time can look like any number of things:  Actual getting away to the beach or the mountains; an hour away from the family in a quiet room; bath time complete with candles and aroma therapy.  Whatever your method to de-stress, it needs to be scheduled like any other event in your week.  I find unless you carve out money for something it won’t be there.  Unless you carve out alone time, all your time will be spoken for with the minutia of life.

Going on and on with no unwind method in place can be unhealthy and can even cause or contribute to high blood pressure, or even stroke.  With the holidays upon us and the added drama and sometimes unpleasantness of families, not to mention the stress of financial burdens, carving out time to unwind is essential.  Do it for your health.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pencil Extenders

I have found a great way to extend the life of drawing pencils and colored pencils without having to buy expensive extenders for each pencil you own.  You can buy pencil extenders for about $6.  That isn’t bad, but when you have dozens of pencils and you don’t want to share just one or two extenders… well, the cost adds up.

I found that old disposable pen bodies work very well for pencil extenders.  Some disposable pens are made with very thin bodies and they are inappropriate for extenders.  However many of the name brand disposables are large enough in diameter to be used for extender purposes.  Even so, some have to be warmed at the ends and stretched immediately by shoving a pencil into the hollow tube.  You won’t need to stretch all pen bodies but some need it.  Once the pen’s ink is dry you would have thrown it away anyway.  This way we are simply recycling part of the pen for other purposes.

You will need:

Old used cheap disposable pens of a certain diameter
Pliers to pull out the old disposable ink cartridge
Stove or heating element to warm the plastic for the smaller tubes
Short pencils to place in the extenders as soon as they are warmed

Step one:

Pull out the old ink cartridge and discard. 

Step two:

If the hollow tube left over is too narrow to fit a pencil comfortably, warm the end over a stove element or candle flame for just a few seconds.  Plastic is flammable and will catch fire quickly so don’t let the tube touch the heating element.  After a few seconds, quickly shove the pencil point side into the tube.  If it stretches enough to house the pencil down about ¼ inch, pull it back out and place it into the extender from the blunt end.  If it didn’t stretch sufficiently, reheat the tube rotating between your fingers so it heats evenly on all sides and shove the pencil in again.

Step three:

Enjoy your pencil till it is too short to sharpen.  I use these for my drawing pencils, charcoal pencils, pastel pencils, and colored pencils.  I must have dozens and save old used disposable pens to make more.

Occasionally the old pen tube will become brittle with age and crack.  That’s when it is time to finally toss it and replace with a new extender.