8.27.2013

The (Negative Five) Sentences

Turns out the best solution for a paragraph that just can't get written and sound great is to delete the whole thing and end on the previous paragraph.


Probably proof that I was getting too wordy again. Good thing I have people like Nip and Jamie to ask for advice.

8.26.2013

The Last Two Sentences

For those not in the know, or who haven't heard me bemoaning it all in my private life, in querying publishers or agents, there are limits to the number of pages you send so the potential representation can see a substantial enough sample. I've worked out where my limit is and it turns out it's in a great spot. I feel like it'll be a decent sample, no awkward endings, a little resolution (but not too much to where you don't want to go on.) The only problem is the last paragraph, or more specifically, the last two sentences of the last paragraph. They just aren't ...right.

If you think about it, knowing this is the last thing any person who has the ability to yea or nay your shot at starting a career in what you want to do, can really put a lot of pressure on these last few words. I'm wondering if it's just the pressure getting to me and making it hard to decide or if it's just a sign I'm in the wrong direction.



I guess there are no answers to be had here. Just one of those moments where I'm talking to nowhere and figuring nobody will see it (or care either way) just because I can.

8.23.2013

Quantum Locked Alien Figurine Tutorial

Haaaaaaaaaaaay...! So, I won't bother going on and on about what a Doctor Who fan I am. I'm just one of the many. (Okay, I might say a little...)


But I -am- just one of many fans because it's a fantastic series. Here's me being a fan with David Tennant and Tom Baker I mean, this dude I just met and this dude I know at AFK Tavern. I, for the longest time, crushed so hard on David Tennant that, when I saw this guy, I actually blushed 8 shades of red and could hardly talk. See my red cheeks? That's me actually blushing. David Tennant is so David Tennanty and even fake David Tennants are very... nice to run into. (And yeah, I made a dress version of the 11th Doc's coat.)



We buy the toys and the dorky t-shirts... (I even got the really rad Sonic Screwdriver remote control. What heft and balance! ;....;!!!)



The only thing is... I really wanted a tree topper in the likeness of a Weeping Angel (Ha, because ha! How cute, right??) and as far as I know, nobody's licensed and made a product like that so I decided to make something that would remind me of a Weeping Angel to get that effect. Of course, I figured there might be other people who wanted something like that so I put together an instructional video on how I made them to help my fellow peeps out there in Internetland to make their own inspired, but not licensed or official, angel topper or decoration.





Enjoy the video! ... or please enjoy it. Or hopefully enjoy it. I'm a little rusty and it may suck a little bit. Ehem.







I gave two of the ones I made away in the video to family for a gift and it was well received, I'm glad to say. I recommend flexing your arts and crafts arm for this project this holiday season for your Who fan friends :3



And shortly after making this tree topper....


We even ran into a Weeping Angel at Halloween! (Yeah, yeah, I know the coat's cut too long on the suit. We'll get it tailored, no need to tease. :3) 



Flora looooves Weeping Angels. But she shouldn't. This could be considered a photograph of willful child endangerment in progress.


Awwww, the Lonely Assassin will loooooove her... and then kill her nicely like the psychopath it is. 


Enjoy making your angels! 

More Tiny Bottles

I really love the stock of tiny bottles I have. I've been able to bust them out and do some cute projects with them on the fly. Anyone who watches my YouTube channel may remember that a bottle project was the last thing I posted.



(Some shots from my last video, which you can see here... CLICK ME! )


Also did last season's free gift with purchase using a bottle-- A cute necklace with autumn leaves and fall colored crystal beads inside on a sage green ribbon.



Well I have a new project with my glass bottles. It's more floral designs so try not to be too shocked! XD But I think these are damn cute, so indulge me. Oh yeah, and it's my blog. 





(Ehem... Onto the bottles...)


Oh crap! my stock is running low! XD



(These tweezers are so sharp, once I dropped them and they stuck straight up and down in the hardwood floor. Oops. Must remember to wear shoes while in the studio.)



It's a snug fit for some of these...



...But pretty cute in the end, I think.



I made quite a few very tiny ones with my smallest flowers inside. These were the hardest of all and I even had to use a hammer against the tweezers while holding the flower to get it through the neck of the bottle. To anyone who doubted the strength of paper flowers, let there be no more doubt: These took a heavy tool attack and still popped back up to the proper shape with a little finessing!


The two on the end are the same because I figured I could put some of these into my store, but wanted to keep one for myself.



But these are the first ones I made and, although I'd intended to make them to sell, I love looking at them and I love looking at them -together-. I'm not sure I can do it! I think I'd rather keep these two than the tiny bottle I made for myself. I just need to find a source for more driftwood and make some more, I guess, cause they're my favorite of the lot. 





I made one tiny bottle with a colored rose and a few pearlized and glass crystal beads. I wasn't sure if I thought this would be cute for a kid or if maybe someone just prefers a little more color.



It WAS very attractive to a kid though. Flora said it was her favorite. Because this is pretty kid friendly as a project, I decided to grant her access to my stuff to make one of her own design. She chose the pink and yellow rose, some colored beads, and some sort of weird brass charm. I have no idea what it is. :3

I glued her lid shut, unlike these other bottles, and put a ribbon around it to become a necklace, at her request.




Happy kid!



Now the bottles are done but I'm not really sure what I should do with them. If you were considering these, how would you want to get them? Turned into a necklace with a silver chain? A ribbon or some cord? Or would you prefer them just as an object that can sit on a shelf or that you could use in your own artwork or jewelry? Anyone have any ideas how should I might finish these off?

8.20.2013

Raw Vegan Taco Salad (cute lunch)




(Wow! Mad saturation there! The lighting was wrong in the kitchen. maybe I went a little far! XD)

Taco salad with a mandarin orange, two vegetarian dumplings (vegetarian "meatball"), and a side of tangy cashew dressing with a paprika heart. The faces are made with seaweed and the crabby boy's tears are made from sesame seeds. Yes, boy. Boys wear bows too.


One of the easiest, and most accessible, raw vegan recipes I know of is for a taco salad. It's really good to load it up with all kinds of toppings like salsa and chopped avocado, but I didn't have much on hand today and made this in a big hurry.

If you want to try it, it's really easy. Here's a vague set of directions!

  1. Soak a handful of walnuts, sunflower seeds, or a combination, in some water. At the same time, soak some cashews in a separate dish. The ideal soak is about 4 hours, but it's passable earlier. Mine soaked for 1.5, because I had to throw this together for someone who was leaving for work!
  2. Chop the drained walnuts/sunflower seeds in a food processor with your favorite Mexican style seasonings. I have chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, S+P, cayenne, and cumin.
  3. Puree the drained cashews with a little water, salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. This creates a tangy dressing that likens to a sour cream.
  4. Top a mixed salad with nuts and toppings as you wish and add the cashew paste when you're ready to eat.

Because there isn't a lot of added oils or grease, cleanup is really easy. Although it may soak for an hour or more, actually chopping and dressing the salad takes less than 10 minutes. It's one of the few raw recipes I know that come together so quickly!

Some Lunch Brag Pictures

If any of my Facebook friends have come this way, you might recognize some of these pictures. A few might be new, though!

Anyone who knows me knows how much I hate cooking, but I also like to have really healthy and fresh meals. Since I can't really pick up the kinds of things I'd like to have from a takeout, it means I end up cooking most meals in spite of my soul-crushing hatred for the task.

Making things look cute and artsy is about the only thing I get out of cooking, so sometimes I like to go the extra step and dress them up a little. Even if the food is simple, I like to at least have lots of bright colors and mix up contrasting ideas.


When I was a kid, 'salad' meant iceburg lettuce with radishes and Catalina dressing. Now I prefer dark mixed greens and mixing fruit and seeds in. This one is blueberry, sunflower, coconut, and red onion (with my favorite dressing- honey, garlic, olive oil, lemon, S+P) There's a side of veggies, lemon cookie, and a cup of vegan overnight oats- like an oatmeal pudding that'll thicken overnight in the fridge as the oats and chia seeds absorb. It's also got soy nuts, almonds, and dried fruit.


Another thing I like doing is mixing fruits with savories. I love the combination of apples and musky sort of cheeses, like Stilton, though I don't really eat dairy cheese anymore these days.



Vegetarian apple and sage protein by Field Roast with mushrooms, apples, walnuts, and bleu cheese in a puff pastry turnover, side of grapes, and salad with sweet baby peppers, soy nuts, and poppyseed dressing



Cafe Flora recipe! Crusty bread with pesto, roasted pears with a dash of balsamic vinegar, melted brie, and crispy onion slices. Served with a simple strawberry coconut salad with lemon dressing.


I'll admit, not every meal is an artfully arranged stunner. It's not like I never have a bowl of cereal or something, but I guess I like to at least make an effort to set things out neatly. I guess I just like seeing a variety of colors and textures, even if it's not really posh.


Kinda like this! Just some basics, but I like it to at least be tidy. It's watermelon, wilted spinach with sea salt, baked yam, and kasha with mushrooms, onions, and sunflower seeds.



I have a few accessories now that help make some basic dishes look kind of cuted up, even if they're not much on their own. They're what you'd probably call bento supplies, but I don't actually make bento with them. Just do my own thing.



For instance, at my daughter and nephew's Candy Land themed birthday party, I decorated a bean dip I made using the supplies. It's layered with a dusting of cotija cheese on top and has cherry tomato tulips, salsa and orange/yellow pepper pansies, a broccoli forest with spinach grass and olive rocks, and a grove of spinach trees with salsa fruit. The bear is made of orange pepper rings. The path is, of course, tri-colored peppers. It's surprisingly difficult for me to come up for decoration ideas for a savory dish that won't conflict with the flavor of bean dip, but I think this is passable!



Recently I tried out an idea for raw sushi using chopped jicama that was really good and I was able to pack a pretty cute to-go version for the next day.


Cucumber, carrot, red bell pepper, avocado, spinach, and sesame seeds with ginger-vinegared jicama instead of rice





I think the to-go version is pretty cute with a little bottle of organic soy sauce and a cute giraffe fork to help spoon out the jicama onto the seaweed. Although I didn't have very fresh wasabi paste, I made a heart shape sitting on a spinach leaf to keep it from smashing into anything and being too strong.


So now that I've thrown up some of my older pictures, I think I might post up a new one every now and then. I guess because, while I don't consider myself a foodie, I guess I am a little proud when I put together something that looks cute and bright and like to share. Especially because, well, I personally can't always think of fresh ideas all the time and get lots of ideas from seeing what other people make and so maybe I can offer some ideas as well.





My absolutely go-to recipe place is Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon. I don't know how to use Pinterest very well, but I did pin some of my favorite recipes from her website. If anyone has a favorite recipe or recipe place that has good vegetarian and vegan options, I'd be glad to hear about it. 

8.18.2013

Changing Table to Craft Desk (Studio Progress)

I'd like to ask anyone reading along what their ideal studio or working space would be like. What makes you feel relaxed or more creative? For me, I think my only ideal requirement would be lots of natural light and a window where I can see plants or trees and absolutely no roads! My current studio meets none of these ideals, but I suppose it has some seeds of personality... :3 It also didn't have a desk to work at, which is where this post comes in: Turning the studio from an alcove with storage into an area to actually get some work done!



I recently posted about my record stand into Montessori wash and prep table which was a mini remake that only involved some paint and cutting a hole for a bowl. This remake isn't a lot more involved, but I did use an actual measuring tape.


.... OOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooh.



I have one of those changing tables that everyone has. I got it from Craigslist second hand in a good enough condition to use, but not super pretty. This is it. Or this is how they're meant to look.





I decided that, in order to save money and from purchasing new, wasteful products, I would chop up my changing table and make it into a basic desk for use in my new tiny studio space.



It was a pretty easy project! Here's the progress partway through. The work was little more than removing the extra shelves, chopping a few inches off the legs, and giving the tabletop piece a light sand and new coat of paint.




We're still planning on downsizing to a 300ish sq ft house and so my studio will be just a loft between 50 and 80 sq ft. So for that reason, I figured why not experiment with a small space right now and just see how it feels?





This is it! Excuse the poor color balance. : \ It's being shot indoors at night. I'm not sure the measurements of this particular alcove, but it's the space originally intended to house the washer and dryer. It's not big, but I can obviously fit plenty inside it. I'm sure I'll eventually uncover the moving boxes with the tubs of craft supplies and actually get those shelves in order. When I do, I'll take better pictures. :3






With no natural light and very yellow overhead lamps, I didn't figure the lighting would be great back here for taking product photos, which is the biggest downfall of the location. It feels snug and cozy to work in at night with the soft glow of the paper globe light, but isn't very uplifting or exciting during the day when there's real sunlight to be had.




These are some quick snapshots with an auto color balance, but no Photoshopping. It could be worse, actually! While natural light is obviously often best, maybe with a little support lights around to help minimize the harsh shadows and some attention to the white balance, it might be possible to shoot product photos back here after all!

If anyone has any thoughts on what I could do to the area to make it feel lighter, I'd be all ears.





All in all, it's a really simple setup and I'm actually pretty excited about it. I used to be all spread out, storing my flowers and things in egg cartons and tubs. A typical work session looked like this::





(Ooooh, colors!)




Having room to work with all that stuff set out, cleaning it all up, and storing it, took up a lot of time and space. Now have everything compactly stored vertically on my rolling cart in glass jars, which look really pretty to me, and it's all very well ordered. With just a slab of wood on the new 'desk' and my flowers close at hand, it's all super organized.





If only this desk could fold down, I'd be happy as a clam. Cause, admittedly, while I did hack this desk for free... what I really wanted was something like this::




It would have been pretty cute, but I feel really good about repurposing something I already have instead of buying (or even building) something brand new and putting more "stuff" in the world.

8.15.2013

Dorky Wands Project (with a few other bits.)

Another from the humble vaults of my laptop! Just to date this one, I made these wands for the premier of the final Harry Potter movie. I hesitate to look up when it was released so I don't have to panic about how much time in my life has passed.

Because I'm only blogging casually right now while I focus primarily on The Infamous Manuscript, I haven't done much to these photos and some are downright bad quality. : D But I think to anyone who's blogged before, you'll know how much time you can put into getting things just so for posts and that's time spent being particular and detail oriented that's better used elsewhere right now. TL;DR, sorry for the lack of fancy.


This project isn't very Earth friendly, but uses some pretty basic materials for a neat effect that you can use for lots of different applications. I used it on a toy telescope made from a paper tube...




and a Weeping Angel tree topper (which I actually do have recorded footage on how to make and I swear I'll make it a video just as soon as I've got my shop open again! ... Why waste a marketing op? n.n;;;)




In this case, however, I used it to make wands! It's pretty simple to make a wand and I think I got the idea, or some inspiration for it, from Instructables if I remember right. It just takes a chopstick for the core and some paper and glue to wrap it up - although I did use a split bubble tea straw to give it some additional structure- and then some hot glue for texturing. So here it is::




(Splitting the straw down the middle lets you overlap it at the top before you tape it down to give it a taper into the chopstick.)


You wrap the concoction in paper. Going at an angle across some computer paper works fine, and then you secure it with a little glue or tape.



At this point, you ruin any chances of this thing being particularly recyclable by stringing it with hot glue in the pattern you like. I did some shapes and symbols I thought might appeal to each of the people we were going to the movie with. I think it's best to fill the tips with glue as well so there's not just loose paper points sticking out.




A single layer of flat paint in the color of your choice sets the base and then I highlighted some parts with a little contrast paint. It's not actually a tough project at all and can be completed in a pretty short amount of time.




I don't remember if I ever posted about these kinds of hair decorations in specific, but I really like to put little bits of stuff together into crazy, over-the-top bows and hair things. Since I'm Hufflepuff House, I used some gold and black and put together a basic outfit because DRESSING UP = FUN! : D





My good friend there also made us something! Some Prefect Pins! She's also way more decked out than me and wearing a tiny Hogwarts Acceptance Letter necklace I gave her for Xmas one year.

This is also where you see how bad some of my pictures are. Ehem. Shhhh.







Because this project was so easy and was a hit before, I decided to try to keep some parts on hand in case I ever needed a kid project. The day that time arrived.... I totally couldn't find the most important pieces of the project! I couldn't find ANY hot glue or straws. All I had was chopsticks, paper, ribbon, and tacky glue. I don't think it was going to go as smoothly, but I'd already told Flora and her friend, Izzy, that they could make wands. So it was time to make it work. : 3






Although they hardly turned out sturdy, the girls got to put something inside like feathers and flower petals as the 'core of power' and paint them and glitter them however they wanted.

I think they ribbon was trying to twist apart before even a day, no matter how much glue I tried to put on, but do they look like they cared? The adult in me wanted it to be perfect, but kids are always so glad just to make something of their own expression that I don't think they get as anal about it being just so.




After making the wands, we made some "witch and wizard" paper with scraps and some instant coffee.



After you dip the paper into the strong, slightly warm coffee... 




...you pull it out and sprinkle little bits of instant grounds onto it for 'mold' and age spots.



I helped them rough up the edges and burn a few spots with a candle and painted some headers and signatures on a few pieces in my blobby calligraphy ability to make them look all mystical. A few had wax seals on them too.

It's the kind of thing that I think makes a pretty easy and inexpensive gift for a kid to help spark their imagination, but is also a lot of fun for them to do as well. Provided you have some hot glue and a careful adult, you can make a wand and aged papers in less than an hour, not including drying time, and there's something in the activity for all different ages to enjoy. Or you could just be like me and my friends and be in your 20s and 30s and make your own wands because: awesome.

And there we go! : D Wands from paper and glue!