Sunday, December 23, 2012

More holidays!

I made a cute little Christmas Robot out of Sculpey,

He's so shiny it's hard to get a good picture.

Also, I know that this was a thing four or five years ago, but I still love watching this video every Christmas:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bernard the Butler would like to know who is calling. It would be best if you had a calling card.

A few things you should understand about Bernard.  He is the character I play in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign John runs.
He is a 6'7" coal powered, tinman butler.  He worked in the home of a merchant until said merchant and his family all mysteriously died.  Bernard carries shoe polish, a pocket watch, and he has revolvers and bayonets concealed in his arms.  It is a mystery what use a butler would have with such things.  Because of a serious case of OCD Bernard still looks shiny and clean as the day he left employment and joined the party.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And that's done. . .

Well, I finally hung the last piece of art we got at NYCC.  I wimped out and bought a frame for it instead of making one myself.
Amazing, right?


Look, I'm painting a picture!
Updates to come.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Washing with Soda

Baking soda that is.  I have been considering trying to cut out shampoo for a while now.  I don't always love the way it makes me feel, and let's be honest, the good stuff is expensive.  I know this sounds gross, but I don't mean I won't wash my hair.  There is a trend called (I hate this name) going poo-less based around washing your hair with things like baking soda and vinegar.  I was reticent, but after hearing Joy the Baker say she has done it and likes it, I thought I would give it a try.  I went with the simple baking soda paste method, mixing the soda with water and then scrubbing it into my scalp.  It was a bit more rinsing than I am used to, but it wasn't unpleasant, and this morning my hair felt great! If it continues to feel this good, I may never use shampoo again.  I'll keep you updated.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gift Wrap

This morning I found this pretty little present under the Christmas tree.
I guess Santa came by to drop off a present early.  And I guess he found one of my old painting palettes while he was here.
I think it's quite pretty.  Do you wrap presents in any reused paper?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Geeked out for Christmas

Having decided to make all my own ornaments this year, I realized I had the chance to really customize our tree to reflect our interests.
Our little plastic tree arrived on Saturday, and we set it up and strung it with lights before really getting down to the ornament making.
It was fairly inexpensive because it was on sale and it is just about the right size for our small apartment.  It is three feet tall and about a foot wide at the base.  It sits comfortably on the side tabe next to our couch.

When I was growing up, decorating the tree was a family affair.  It was a time when we could take out all the ornaments my parents had collected over the years and remember the times we all shared together.  Almost all the ornaments had a story.  We had either bought or made them and each one signified a time in our lives.  I love that idea, and since John and I are just starting our lives together, I want to make sure we have a way to look back too.  One year, when I was very young, my mother made cookie ornaments, and we each painted one (I think I was little enough that I "helped" to paint one).  I thought that would be an inexpensive way for us to make our own ornaments.  I looked it up, and found this recipe from  Mine didn't turn out particularly flat, I don't know what I was doing wrong, but a few turned out well. On Sunday, John, his mother, and I sat down and painted them.  It was a nice little family activity.  We turned on Pandora's Christmas channel and told stories about Christmas past.

John chose his favorite superhero, Batman, to immortalize in ornament.

His Batman symbol fit in really well with the Batmobile I had already transformed into an ornament.  He painted the body of the ornament black and added the yellow bat symbol after the black paint dried.

I went for Superman and Captain America myself.

I am really happy with the results and know that we can reuse these ornaments for years to come because I sprayed them with Krylon Crystal Clear, an acrylic coating that dries really fast and seals whatever you have sprayed.

Now we come to my favorite part of the tree, a Mario Star topper.
 I was not originally planning to go with the Mario Star.  My plan was to just make a star out of Sculpey and paint it metallic gold.  I made a disk of aluminum foil and added triangles of Sculpey, smoothing and adding extra clay until I had a white star.  I added a stem of foil wrapped in clay and used a mechanical pencil to make a hole the top of the tree could fit in.
Once I had the star, it was obvious I had to go with the Mario influence.  Everytime  I looked at it, I heard the little bing.  I painted it yellow, adding a darker orange around the edges and a white highlight to the edges.  I painted little black eyes with white highlights, and painted the stem green to blend with the tree.  I sprayed it with sealer and when it was dry I tried to attach it to the tree.  The top sprig on the tree was not sturdy enough to hold up the weight of this star.
I was worried until I realize I could pop that sprig off and slide the star down onto the top of the plastic trunk.  It fits perfectly and looks positively geeky.

How does your Christmas tree reflect your interests?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The holidays have pounced part 2

This post won't be long, but I wanted to update you on my homemade holiday decor.  I have been folding origami ornaments and baking cookie ornaments, but you will have to wait until my tree post to see those.  What I want to share today are my handmade stockings.
I thought it would be nice to make a variety of color combinations.  My stocking is the one on the far left.  I  made it first and modified my design for the top flap on the next two.
 I hand embroidered our names on the felt flaps, and I love the way they came out.
We don't have a fireplace, which is where we hung the stockings when I was growing up, so I had to improvise.  It turns out our bookcase is made of softer wood than it looks like, because it was really easy to screw the cup hooks into it.  I think they look great.
I only have one holiday card so far, so it doesn't look quite as festive as I expect it will later in the season.
How do you personalize for the holidays?  My mom used to write our names in glitter glue on the stockings.  Leave me a comment and tell me how you like to make the holidays your own.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Podcast heaven

So I know I am way behind the times on this podcast thing.  I have just gotten my first smartphone and am adapting, slowly, the the benefits of this magical appliance.  I recently downloaded a podcast app (because I am and android user and so do not reap the benefits of itunes built in) so that I can listen to my NPR shows on my phone.  This is great for when I am cooking which I do a lot. (You might know that if you read my other blog, The Hungry Griffin.)
Anyway, the point is, my best friend, Camille, and my sister have both insisted in the past that I should listen to the Joy the Baker podcast.  Being foolish and otherwise silly, I never did.  I was wrong.  I am sorry.  I will listen and comply in the future.  At Thanksgiving, my awesome sister-in-law also insisted.  When I got home I tried it out, just for kicks and giggles.  I have now listened to roughly ten episodes, and while I feel I should have begun earlier, I am sort of glad I didn't, because it means I now have 70 back episodes to catch up on and I don't have to wait a week between them.
For anyone out there who has not listened to Joy the Baker, first, do that.  Second, the podcast is essentially a conversation between two pretty cool 30 something ladies.  They talk about all sorts of things, and there is something for everyone to connect with.  For example today, I listened to Birthday in Hoboken, which is episode 52.  During this episode, Tracy discusses having a bad experience getting a hair cut.  She describes the way the hairdresser makes her feel judged for her hair care choices.  I commiserate.  I have not often enjoyed my haircut experiences, but more often than not the quality of the hair cut has nothing to do with the feeling of unhappiness I leave the shop with.  I don't spend much time on my hair.  I don't use product much, I don't curl or straighten, and I am careful to only use natural products.  This is mostly out of laziness.  I prefer not to spend a whole lot of time.  Although the natural product thing is important to me.  My scalp does not respond well to traditional products.  This has caused judgement from haircare professionals and who needs that.  My response to this has been to simply avoid the hairdresser.  When Camille is in country, I make her cut my hair, and since she is away now, I have taken to cutting my own.  It is not ideal, but it works for me.  Listening to Tracy, I felt like maybe I wimped out.  She aired her feelings and told the hairdresser that she was unhappy with the way she was being treated.  Go Tracy!
So anyway, the moral is, listed to Joy the Baker.  You won't regret it.  What podcasts do you love? Tell me in the comments and maybe my next exciting discovery will be your doing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The holidays have pounced!

On Sunday morning I came, suddenly, to the realization that advent has begun and the time between now and Christmas is shorter than I expect it to be.  This never happened when I was five years old.  John and I are at that age when we have ventured out into the world on our own, but have yet to host the Christmas festivities.  We alternate between our families, resulting in the fact that we have never decorated any of our apartments for Christmas.  This year, that all changes.  Although we are not hosting a huge Christmas party, my mother is coming for the holiday, and we will not have the opportunity to enjoy someone else's decoration labors.  This age also means we will not be in our current place for more than one Christmas, so accumulating expensive decorations does not seem reasonable.  To this end, I am decorating this year hand made for the most part.  I considered a paper tree like this one:
from Curbly.
But ultimately I was convinced to go with a more traditional artificial tree when I saw they were on clearance at JoAnn fabric.  While it has not yet been delivered, I have been furiously making ornaments so that when it arrives, I am ready.  My patience was challenged by waiting for shipping, and in the meantime I have been making other holiday accents for our home.  For example, I made these throw pillow covers for our couch.

These are really nice because they are small and easily packed away until next year but they make a big impact.  I also threw together a tablecloth and napkins from fabrics I already had.  I think they make the table much more festive without much labor, as I just hemmed up the edges.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Exciting news!

I may be a bit late, but Etsy has gift cards now!
And to add to the excitement, I am having a Black Friday to Cyber Monday sale on my etsy shop.  I am offering free domestic shipping and discounted international shipping.  Here it is.
To celebrate, I have two brand new items in my shop. 

I found an absolutely amazing herringbone wool in the form of a suit. It inspired me to make a new wallet.

Isn't it just a great pattern?  Anyway, I put the wallet together and I am really pleased with the result.

 I also made a brown and green plaid wallet.  I think it's real cute.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Comic Con Loot

 At New York Comic Con last month, I was lucky enough to acquire some really awesome art pieces.  I have been matting and framing and I thought I would share my results.
Walking down the artist's alley, I was struck by an oil paint set up at one booth.  I stopped to look at it, and John said, "Look who it is!"  It was Tom Gianni, the creator of Mechanic Anna.  John and I had met him last year and fallen in love with the character and with the poster (below on the left) that we purchased last year.  You remember my post.

 Anyway, we talked to Tom and it turns out he finally has a publication date next year for the first Mechanic Anna book.  And he has a new poster based on the painting that caught my eye.  I framed it with a similar frame to the first poster and gave it an equal place framing the TV.
We also found this amazing Game of Thrones poster.  John is a huge fan of maps, so we grabbed it right away and it looks great.
Lastly, I fell for this hulk yoga poster by Maris Wicks.  Unfortunately she ran out of the prints before I got the chance to buy one.  Maris was great.  She gave me her card and I emailed her, sent her some money on Paypal, and she sent me this awesome print.  It hangs over the space I do my yoga in and reminds me that sometimes I just need to relax.  Maris also has a blog, "dots for eyes", and a graphic novel coming out.  "Primates" will be published June 11, 2013.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New York Comic Convention 2012

John and I only spent a day at New York Comic Convention this year.  Saturday.  And it was a crazy day.  There were a lot of people there.  To give you an idea:
 This is the Autograph hall, and the seating for the variant stage, and this:
is the Artist's Alley.  I couldn't even get a picture of the show floor, because you could barely stop to shop, let alone photograph things.  Most of my pictures of cosplayers are from elsewhere in the convention hall.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we had a really great time.
Because we only spent one day at the con, I didn't feel inspired to create a whole costume for it.  It is more fun to be unencumbered anyway.
I can never really go to a con without a bit of costume, so I painted some Trill spots on my face and neck and whenever anyone asked, I told them I was on shore leave.  I got a few laughs and a whole lot of comments.  It was by far the biggest return for the amount of time put into a costume that I have ever gotten.

The second picture was taken at the end of the day, so you can tell they didn't wear off too much.
Now that I've shared my costume with you, I thought I would share the other cool ones we saw.
 This cute TARDIS was one of the first costumes to catch my eye.  There were a lot of Doctor Who costumes there this year.
 This Starfleet officer was happy to pose with me.
 Enough said.
 This girl made her own dress! and her necklace said beep beep boop.
 There were alot of Avengers costumes, I snapped this Cap picture from across the room.  Sorry for the graininess.
 Nightmare Before Christmas is one of John's favorite movies, so we were excited to see this Jack Skellington, on stilts no less.
And a lady Cap just to round things out.

We got a lot of cool new art to add to our collection, so expect another post coming soon.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Embracing Autumn

Today, a friend and I went out to a farm in the area to get some fresh, local produce.  It was raining lightly but was really quite nice.  Nothing excites me quite like the colors of fall produce.

The pumpkins are numerous and big for this early in the season.
Photo Credit Camille Bevans

Local apples abound.
I picked up a whole bunch of fresh autumn produce, went home, and promptly made a frittata!  You can read about it here.
Thought I'd share the joy of the season!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


So we have been in our new place for about two months now and I feel like I am still getting settled.  Many of the bedroom walls are still bare, and I am still working on getting the living area sorted as well.  Since I last shared photos of the apartment, I made a fabric basket and unpacked the last three boxes into it.  So that made a big difference.  The project I decided to work on this week was getting our artwork matted and framed so I could hang it and fill out the empty places on our walls.  We still need some artwork for the bedroom (the decals we had in the last apartment were great, but a bit expensive and labor intensive since we are only here for a year).
Anyway, I bought a sheet of mat board from the Village Center for the Arts in New Milford, CT when I was visiting my mother, some wood moulding from the hardware store, and threw together some frames.  I'm really happy with the results.
I got this really awesome poster at New York Comic Con last year from the artist, Thomas Gianni.  You can check out his website here.  I painted the mat black and the tapered edge copper and painted the frame copper to pull off those elements in the poster
I also got this cool Doctor Who poster at NYCC.  It is a copy of the painting van Gogh paints in Vincent and the Doctor.  I chose to paint the frame and beveled edge a metallic TARDIS blue.
I also framed this painting I had in my childhood bedroom,
and this map of Rome for above our dining room table.

I'm slowly filling the gaps, but I imagine I'll have more art to share in the near future.