Beer Brewing Badge

Holy Ail Front

Originally uploaded by nodigio


Step One: You and your buddies are settling down to watch the game, and you pass around the bottles of beer you made. They take one sip, pause, then with appreciative sounds, drink more. You know your agave beer is a hit. You need some heavy yardwork done, and you know all you have to do is make a few calls and promise a few bottles of your latest brew and you’ll have all the help you need. Your best friend asks you to make a custom beer for her son’s 21st party, because you can control the flavor and the alcohol content. You’re justly proud of your brewing skills.

Step Two: Brewing your own beer isn’t necessarily cheaper, but you have control of the contents every step of the way. You control flavor, alcohol levels, and mouthfeel. You have a barterable skill – friends will help you do hard work for a bottle of your beer, and parties are better when your beer is there. You get to express a great deal of creativity in designing new flavors of beers. If you enter beer brewing contests, you may even win a few ribbons for your beers. And you can explore non-hopped beers, too – ales and meads and other historical brews that you plain can’t find on the shelves at the liquor store. Mead is made with honey and can be made either as beer or a wine.

Step Three: As you start planning to become your own brewmeister, check out microbreweries. Sample their different beers. Find the brewing store in your town and talk to the owner. S/he will be thrilled to connect you with other brewers and tell you about upcoming competitions. S/he will probably also be able to help you select essential equipment and point you to the right yeasts for the type of beer you eventually decide to brew. Ask questions about how they got started, and what their biggest challenges and triumphs were. Ask what they’d recommend brewing first and where they’d recommend you go for more information.

Step Four: Follow up on the information you mentor passed along to you. Go online to do a bit of research. .
Then check out a few books:
If your local brew shop offers classes, take one. Maybe you found a brewing group – they may offer classes or let you visit while they brew a batch of beer. Visit with them and take notes.

Step Five: Assemble your equipment. While much of it may already be in your kitchen, you will probably still need a few things. Spend some time discovering what you will need and then acquiring or making it yourself. Research recipes and procedures, then select the ingredients after you have your equipment ready. Brew your first batch of beer.

Step Six: Sample your first batch of beer. If everything went well, you should have a brew that is delicious.

Step Seven: Claim your badge.


Lasting Friendships Badge

Itzl and Shika, Sunning

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You’ve discovered some people with whom you have some deeply shared passions and understanding. These people provide you with inspiration and put a smile on your face as you wakl doen the street. In good times adn bad, you know you can depend on them as much as they depend on you. You’ve got each other’s backs, and it feels safe and liberating. Sure, it took a lot of time and care to nurture these friendshops, but the people were worth every second of effort.

Step Two: The abiding love between friends is the one thing we can count on in a world gone crazy. You’ll always have someone who understands you, who will listen when you want to rant, who will feel safe ranting with you, who will engage in impetuous acts with you, and share their chicken pox with you. Think of the friendship shared between Damon and Pythias. Euripedes once said, “One loyal friend is worth 10,000 relatives.”

And here are some more quotes about the importance of friendship:

There are only two people who can tell you the truth about yourself – an enemy who has lost his temper and a friend who loves you dearly.

What sweetness is left in life, if you take away friendship? Robbing life of friendship is like robbing the world of the sun. A true friend is more to be esteemed than kinsfolk.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

What is a friend? I will tell you… it is someone with whom you dare to be yourself.
Frank Crane

If you have one true friend you have more than your share.
Thomas Fuller

Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis

Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Step Three: Define your relationship. Spend some time daydreaming about what makes your friends special to you, what qualities make your friends friends. If you want, you can list these qualities. The first step to a truly great relationship is to imagine what it should be like.

Step Four: Make time for your friendship. Think relaistically about the time it would take to make your fantasy friendship into a real one. People don’t spend enough face time with one another to create the friendships they want. Prioritize your time and how you spend it. Separate out the things you can do anytime and the things you can only do once. A friend’s wedding is more important than the next episode of American Idol. You can always catch American Idol on re-run or Tivo it or tape it or find it on the web somewhere. Schedule time to be together in ink – make a set time you’ll spend together – maybe it’s a corny movie night, or a dinner date, or a shopping trip, but set a time just for the two of you and make it a high priority time, only a disaster or a true emergency could cancel it. Make it a habit to meet or contact one another – instead of killing time with Minesweeper, send your friend an email or IM, or make a phone call. Do something kind for your friend – and do it often. Small kindnesses like having his or her favorite candy in your candy dish when they visit, or sending a card in snail mail just because, or scraping the ice off their car with them so it goes quicker. Make eye contact when you’re talking to your friend Too few of us look at others anymore, we’re so busy texting on our phones or browsing the web on our iPhones or whatever that we simply don’t look at people anymore.

Step Five: Take the initiative. You can’t change someone else, but you can change yourself. So, decide how you want to treat your friend,a nd begin doing that. Maybe it starts with something simple like clipping comics you think they’ll like, or letting them set the pace when you walk together. “Date” your friend by planning a special event once in a while for your weekly night together – a trip to the zoo or the mall, maybe. And show your appreciation for your friend – tell them you enjoy being with them. Spend time helping them with important tasks – like organizing photos, or taking a class together. If you share a hobby or passion, spend time together doing that.

Step Six: Tell stories to one another. Tell stories about your life, your dreams, your aspirations to your friend, and listen when he or she tells you their dreams and stories.

Step Seven: Be there when your friend needs you. Whether it’s to help them move to a new apartment or help them balance their budget, or stand up with them in a protest march or if they go on strike – be there. With coffee and donuts (or the equivalent). If you’re there for your friends, chances are, they’ll be there for you.

Step Eight: Claim you badge!

Travel Badge


Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: That quaint little town in Vermont, the huge cheese festival in Wisconsin, Burning Man in Utah, Paris, Milan, Tokyo – the world is yours for the exploring. You know how to savor it all, what the best sights are and where to find the yummiest little hidden restaurants. Sampling every bakery in Germany, tracing your roots through Scandinavia, sunbathing on a French beach, being rowed in a gondola down the canals of Venice – whatever your fantasies, you know how to make them happen – and you have photos and videos to share on your return.

St. Augustine said the world is a book and those who stay at home only read one page. You’ve read whole chapters!

Step Two: Travel gives you confidence. Once you’ve successfully dealt with Customs, booked your own flight or cruise, handled mislaid luggage, and packed the cure for Montezuma’s Revenge before you left home, you know you’ll be able to tackle practically anything. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the things you love most when you can explore their history at their point of origin. Think how cool it would be to learn how to make French pastries in a French patisserie school, or to ski distant mountains, or visit the landmarks mentioned in your favorite novels. Once you leave home, even if it’s a road trip to another state, you’ll encounter adventures of all sorts, and you’ll learn how others do things. Maybe you’ll pick up a few tips and ass them to your own repertoire. And the stories you’ll collect to share will make travelling worth it.

Step Three: Find your destination. Do you want to visit a particular city or festival in the US? Have you always dreamed of lazing on the beach of Mexico sipping a tequila sunrise? Do you want to visit a ghost town, or see the set of your favorite show? Do you want to take a cruise to the Bahamas, or visit the Conch Republic? Do you see yourself there alone or with a friend? Is it winter or summer or fall or spring?

If you don’t have a dream destination in mind, what are your interests? Do you want room service and a spa, or does roughing it down a whitewater river sound fascinating? Would like to immerse yourself in a museum, or hear your favorite performer live? Do you need a guide to show you the sights or does exploration intrigue you? What hobby do you have that you’d like to know more about?

Pick a place that will make you happy.

Step Four: Do you want to go solo, or with a companion? Family is your best choice if you get along, because you already have ways of communicating and already share a common history and know what independence level suits you best. Friends are great, too, but be upfront about independence levels and schedules and areas of interest. Some compromise is expected, but neither of you should be expected to do everything the other wants. If you bring children, you’re schedules will have to take their needs into account, and your activities will have to be geared towards theirs, so you can probably forget the wine tastings and beerfest.

Don’t put off a trip just because you don’t have anyone else to go with you. You’ll be surprised at how many friends you can make when you go it alone.

Step Five: Research your destination. If you pre-plan as much of your trip as you can, you can save money and not miss sights you don’t yet know about. Check out underground travel guides and, regular travel guides, websites, and documentaries about your destination.

Find a Mentor who’s been there before and pick their brains about what they did and what they wish they’d done as well as the time of year they went, where they stayed and ate. Get as many persoanl recommendxations as you can about hotels, restaurants, tour guides, shops, festivals, places of interest, historical sites, memorial sites, places to avoid, and places not to be missed.

Read up on curent events at and near your destination. You may be able to find a newspaper on line. Check it out. Or search for people who keep blogs and write about your destination.

Make a list of the places you’d like to see and things you’d like to do while there. Leave some room for spontaneity – you never know what intriguing thing will lure to explore it. And there may be delays and detours – take advantage of them to enjoy new and unexpected activities.

Step Six: Make the time to take that trip. Set a date, mark it on your calendar. Give yourself at least 6 months to plan and prepare for this trip. If you’re on a tight budget, consider the times when travel is less expensive, when rates are cheaper. Travel in the off-season has special benefits – from low prices to attentive shopkeepers. Just make sure your destiantion isn’t smack in the middle of tsunami or monsoon season!

If you aren’t sure you can make the time – maybe if your boss can’t give you a pay raise, he might be able to give you some extra time off instead. It never hurts to ask. If you can stay connected to work via the internet and phone, maybe you can take some work with you (but remember, make some time to have fun yourself). Maybe you have to attend a business seminar or convention – find out what free time you’ll have and see what fin activities you can schedule for those times. Perhaps you can extend your business trip by a couple of days to have a mini-trip of your own. Can you work overtime to create your time off?

However you do it, if you really want to travel, you’ll be able to create some time for yourself. So be sure to just do it.

Step Seven: Start your travel fund. Even if you combine your travel with a business trip, you’ll still have to fund your personal portion – tickets to broadway reviews or the Cirque du Soleil are expenses out of your pocket, as is admission to the museums and the hsitorical horse and buggy ride through Times Square. Start saving up for the fun and interesting things you want to do – and don’t forget to leave a nice amount for the souvenirs you’ll want and film or flash drives for the pictures/video you’ll take.

There are a lot of ways to save a little extra money. If you eat out a lot, eat at home instead or bring your lunches. Bring your lunch can easily save you almost $50 a week. Dinners cost more, so you save more by eating at home. If you have to see the newest movies in the theater, go to a matinee instead of the evening showing and eat before you go so you don’t spend another $15 on soda and popcorn. Buy tickets early – you can often get discounts and special offers so shop around. Online is a great way to do this.

Step Eight: If you’re traveling out of the country, or to someplace where another language is spoken, brush up on the language before you go. You don’t have to speak it perfectly, but you should at least have a few essential phrases in your repertoire. sells a marvelous T-shirt for travelers that has pictures of essential things so if you’re at a loss for whords, pointing to the picture on the T-shirt can help.

Step Nine: Final preparations. Get your tickets and reservations – and their receipts! – togerther. Leave a copy of your itinerary with friends or family members so they’ll know about where you should be if there’s an emergency. Have your email, mail, newspapers, and special deliveries placed on hold or re-directed to a neighbor. Place jewelry and small valuables ina secure location. Arrange to have a house-sitter check your house (and if you have pets, to take care of them) twice daily. Invest in timed light switches to turn lights and TVs on and off randomly so it looks as if someone’s home. Obtain phone numbers you can call from along your travel route to report lost or stolen credit cards and keep those in a different place than your cards. Set up automatic bill payments if you will be gone when bills come due. Make photocopies of your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance cards, and other essential documents to store in a safe place in case you need them. Bring along a hand-cranked shortwave radio so you can listen to local channels for news and weather – and music!

Step Ten: Go! Have fun! Bon voyage! See you when you get back! Have a great time! Take lots of pictures! Bring back souvenirs!

Step Eleven: Claim your badge!


Smith’s Crowd

Originally uploaded by nodigio

If you want to be a Mentor, read these questions and answer them about each badge or area of expertise in which you choose to be a Mentor. Answering this list of questions and allowing your answers to be posted in the Mentor Tab counts as being a Mentor.

You may also answer questions at the WoodSpirits LJ Community, or offer to email privately with someone (we recommend creating an email just for Mentoring), or create a dedicated blog or website to Mentoring, where you share information and answer questions.

The Questions:

1. How did you get started?

2. What do you find most rewarding about this?

3. What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?

4. What starter project would you recommend to a beginner?

5. What are the steps/supplies involved in doing this project?

6. When you encountered a challenge, what kept you going?

7. What three things did you wish you’d known when you first started?

8. What can beginners look forward to if they decide to level up in this activity?

9. Where do others who share the same passion gather?

10. What books/magazines/classes/websites do you recommend for beginners looking for support/advice/information?

Now That We’re Started…

Fairy Caught in a Jar

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Now that we have a few badge descriptions up so people can see what we expect of someone who claims a badge, we have several directions to go.

There are still dozens of badges to keyboard in, and that will take time. If there’s a particular badge you want us to put up next, please let us know. We’re not putting the badges up in any particular order, so we’ll be happy to take requests.

The art for the badges is coming. Honest. Art just seems to take longer.

We have a moderator for the WoodSpirits LJ Community. If you join LJ, you can put up posts, but the settings will allow non-LJ users to make comments, so you don’t have to create an LJ blog in order to participate. WoodSpirits is meant to be inclusive and autonomous, so it makes sense to make as much of it as accessible as possible.

If you’d like to share resources, you can share them here or there. We’re collecting resources to put up in the Resources Tab.

We’ve had a few questions about being a Mentor. You can be a Mentor in one of two ways: 1) post answers to a list of questions about badges you’ve already completed or in your fields of expertise or 2) be available by email or a dedicated blog to answer Mentorship questions from other WoodSpirits regarding a badge you’ve already completed, or in your fields of expertise. The third method is entirely optional: to be available in person to meet with a WoodSpirits member working on a Badge you’ve already completed or in your field of expertise.

The list of questions will be in the next post, and linked from the Mentors Tab.

Painting Badge

Bill of Thompson’s Fine Arts

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Step One: You like painstakingly reproducing a loved one’s portrait in paint. You adore flinging pots of paint at a canvas two meters away. Painting gives you peace and quiet from the family – and gifts for friends. You can spend hours at a scenic lookout, painting and sketching what you see. You love mixing colors and getting special effects with paint that others never thought possible. It doesn’t matter if it’s art – it’s painting and you love it!

Step Two: People will tell you painting allows you an avenue of self-expression, but there are hundreds of ways of expressing yourself. People paint because they love the colors, working with the textures and strokes and smells of the paints and brushes and turpentine. Others will claim that painting increases your observational powers, but those can be honed in other ways. And then there are those who claim only a painter can appreciate the work of another painter. You’d have to earn your Art Appreciation Baadge to compare on that.

We say painting allows you a physical connection with your inner self that can’t be touched with clay, or wood, or keyboards, or music. You have an involvement in pigments, textures, and the sheer physical movement that the other mediums of express lack – and that appeals to you very strongly.

Painting is one way you can help others see what you see – not just the physical things about you, but the feelings they evoke, the moods, the layers of meanings that are present in the way you compose the picture. It doesn’t matter if your art is a Van Gogh or a Smith – it’s yours.

Step Three: Usually Step Three is about finding a Mentor, but for self-expressive badges, jumping in first, then getting guidance seems to work best. If you prefer to seek a mentor before you begin, skip to Step Seven, then come back to Step Three.

Prepare a place to paint. Painting is messy; it requires a place where the art can stay out to dry, and it needs light and ventilation. It needs to be either easy to clean or someplace where you don’t mind paint and turpentine spills. Be sure the place you select isn’t very dusty because dust settling on your wet paint may damage or disturb your painting. That means the garden shed in summer is probably not a good idea, what with blowing dirt and floating grass clippings.

You won’t need much in the way of furniture: an artist’s easel isn’t esential, but you can get simple ones for a couple of dollars at a flea market or under $10 new in some stores. A for table for pen and ink sketches or watercolors will keep them from running and smearing. If you pick up a drafting table, you can set it flat for pen and ink or watercolors, or tilt it up for acrylics, pastels, or oils. With a table, you’ll want a stool or chair. You’ll need a shelf in which to store your paints, brushes, sponges, turpentines, gessos, glosses, and fixatives. The final thing you will need is a hook for holding your painting smock. You may want a stool or table for setting up still lifes or posing models (either living ones or the wooden posable ones you can buy in art supply stores)

Also select your artist clothes. There’s a reason artists wear smocks – to catch the paint spills and smears even the mostcareful artist will accumulate. Pick something you don’t mind getting painted. Long sleeved and loose enough to let you move easily, yet not so loose it smears your painting-in-progess is good. Leave your smock in your painting area. If you feel the need to wash it – don’t wash it with your regular laundry. Hand wash it in and hang it up to dry. It will have paint thinner, brush cleaners, and paints on it that are not washing-machine or dryer safe. You can get a new smock when the old one gets too groddy to wear – and recycle the old one by tearing it into strips to use for garden ties, marker ties, bundling up tree and shrub prunings, and other outdoor tasks where a bit of cloth might be needed.

Step Four: Get supplies. Pick one type of painting you’d like to do first, and buy supplies for it.

Water-based colors come in bricks and tubes. You can create both brush strokes and wash effects with water-based paints and inks – and they’re easy to clean and often inexpensive.

Acrylics come in tubes like oil paints if you buy them from an art supply store. Latex based paints from a house paint store or department are the same thing, just in bigger containers and cheaper, especially if you buy mis-mixed colors.

Oils are considered the classic artist’s paint of choice. Get student grade oils in a beginner’s kit of colors.

Paint mediums, thinners, and primers: for water-based paints, water is the only thinner and cleaner you need. There are texturizing mediums you can get, as well as additives that make your colors shiny, opaque, or matte. Acrylics also clean up well in water, and you can use water to thin it. There’s a wide range of mediums to alter the qualities of acrylics, making them transparent, glossy, or grainy, by altering the textures. Oils require turpentine for cleaning the brushes. A good choice is a pre-mixed blend of damar varnish, turpentine, and stand oil. This is versatile blend that you can add to the oil colors to get thick, frosting-like swirls or thin luminous colors that glide on almost glass smooth. Buy these separately as well so you can experiement with textures. Turpentine will thin it almost to water color consistency. Damar varnish will make it runny and kind of gloppy. You’ll need gesso to prime before you paint with oils.

Brushes: You’ll need a variety of shapes and sizes of brushes: round, tapered, flats, and filberts. You’ll want a wide house-paint type brush for applying gesso to prime your canvas for oils.

Palette: You don’t really need a paint palette for mixing and holding your colors. A square of plexiglass will work as well. But paint palettes are cheap, and they’ll make you feel very artistic, so get several.

Canvas: You can buy pre-stretched and even pre-gesso’d canvas at art supply stores. There’s also canvas mounted on boards in a variety of sizes, and even sketch books made of canvas pages. All of these will work. You can also buy unstretched canvas at fabric stores, and even paint on 100% cotton fabrics or burlap. You can stretch these fabrics on stretcher bars or frames you make with 2×2 lumber.

Wood panels: You can buy wood panels at the art supply store, or visit a caninet maker’s store for their birch and pine plywood scraps.

Other things: A palette knife helps you scrape off too much paint or to get special effects on the canvas. A small squeegee can be used for applying large amounts of paint, or smoothing ares where you want to build layers of texture. Razor blades and clay sculpting tools can add textures to the paint, too. Toothpicks and swizzle sticks can be used to mix paints. Straws can be used to blow paint on the canvas into interesting patterns. Collect tin cans from canned vegetables, old dishes, broken handled mugs, and so one for holding your brushes and small supplies.

Step Five: Play with your supplies. Experiment with color and texture. Like the Victorian and Colonial girls who made embroidery samplers, consider making paint samplers using different echniques and textures. Play with your colors and don’t worry if you make something “pretty” or “artisitic”. Just put paint to canvas and go for it!

Step Six: While you were daubing, flinging, mixing, brushing, and scraping your way through Step Five, you probably had a number of inspirations of the things you want to paint. So, prep your canvas and plunge in. Ifyou set up a still life, don’t try to paint it realistically, look at it as if it were only patterns of color or light or shape. Paint it in a series of thin layers that you can change easily if you decide to. Remember to let paints dry between layers unless you plan to smear the colors.

Step Seven: Meet with other artists for inspiration and tips. COnsider taking classes, either ones offered at local colleges or from a loca artist you admire. Visit art galleries and study how the paintings appear to be done. See if you can guess the techniques used. Apply what you’ve learned in your own little studio. As you paint, step away from it to gain perspective. Look at it from different angles. Keep working on your painting until it tells you its done.

Step Eight: Arrange a small gallery showing of your art for your family and friends. Set out simple but elegant finger foods and offer wine to accompany it (or beer and chips if that better suits you style). Hang your paintings in your house or rent a conference room and set them about on rented easels. Play mood music. Have someone else be the host to greet your guests and direct them to the wine and cheese and paintings. You are the star, and get to wander about with munchies and a wineglass, talking about your art and listening to what others say about your paintings.

Step Nine: Claim your badge!