Saturday, October 31, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 333


And Happy Halloween Wedding to everyone getting married today. May it all go as swimmingly spooktacular as you'd hoped.

Last night while my husband held onto the puppy as she tried to be oh so helpful by getting in the way and chewing on sticks, I set up our front yard for, what else, HALLOWEEN.

This is our front stoop/porch/whatever you call a handful of steps. I carved the tree while my husband carved the zombie pumpkin on the left (the death pumpkin is a fake one from last year).
The luminaries are actually party bags we found last year on our honeymoon (sadly at least 75% of the stuff we bought on our honeymoon was for Halloween because we're just that dorky).
For $2 we got 20 of these cool bags. I just added some rocks and tossed in an electric tea light to help light the way for trick or treaters.
Even our wedding pumpkin from last year makes an appearance in the foliage on the steps.
Waiting patiently to claim his next victim sits death next to a rusty old lantern. Or maybe he's just hoping someone will trade with him. He's stuck with a lousy bag full of mostly rotten apples and candy corn and he'd really like to get rid of the candy corn.
The yard is mostly made up of our craft projects. My tombstone is the first to great people while one we got at Target on sale to help fill out the recently dug cemetery sits more towards the back.
My husbands demon, complete with horns and rusted sword through the ribs sits more towards the forgiving back, but we're going to put a flashing red strobe light on him to call people's attention to it.

And if you also look carefully, you'll see a little spook poking through the window. It's actually my cheesecloth ghost with a candle on a timer inside him.
I spotted this guy at Walgreens and thought "Now this is what a vampire should look like, more monster than teen heart throb." The hard part was getting him into the tree as our tree apparently doesn't like to have low hanging branches, so with the help of a step stool, a reaching stick (which we found on the ground) and a lot of praying up went Mr. Vampire.
I hope you have a ghoulishly good evening. And remember, it's Halloween so there's a good chance the man in black robes carrying a scythe is more likely to be after the punch bowl instead of your soul.
But, then again . . .


Friday, October 30, 2009

Almost Halloween- Sale on my Paintings

To Celebrate Almost Happy Halloween I decided to have a little sale on my Halloween paintings.

Today and tomorrow, when you check out just put in the coupon code "HALLOWEEN" and you get 20% taken off your purchase.

This includes my paintings of both the Witch Silhouettes

Dracula's CastleAnd my tree paintings:
So if you've had your eye on any of those today and tomorrow is a good time to buy.

Finally, this video just became viral and while it is bone chilling scary for everyone else in the world it struck a deep level of terror for me as I quickly realized that this occurred on a local news station that I watch almost every day.

I'd like to say that we're all not that weird in Nebraska but well . . . this blog isn't exactly the best proof otherwise.

Picture a Day - Day 332

Well, this is it. Today is my last day at work. I guess I'll spend most of the day packing up all the random stuff I've accumulated here, clean up a bit, and bid a tearful goodbye.

Yesterday my labmate, boss and a few other people in the department took me out to Olive Garden where I proceeded to eat way more Italian food than one person should ever suffer (I am not a huge meal eater, I'd be a lot happier being free to graze throughout the day. As you can imagine Thanksgiving isn't anything all that special to me).They also got me a card with a cute puppy on it, a gift certificate to Michaels (which I'll be amazed if it lasts a week. If there's one gift certificate I'm sure to use it's one to a craft store) and my labmate knitted me a few pot holders.

Stiff upper lip and all that, but it kinda feels like one of those relationships where everything seemed perfect, everyone got along great and the mesh was good. But the timing was off, so we have to go our separate ways.

But I've been wading in depression enough this week. Time for something a little fun.

I've been working at home on sketching out skeletons. Some because I want to work and understand more the human body and various poses and some because, dude, skeletons are awesome.

My first was just a straight on coming at you skeleton. I think he just looks cute as hell for some reason.I had a hell of a fight with the ribs and my hatred of fingers and toes goes without saying, but I liked the way he turned out for the most part.

Now onto something a bit more of a challenge. Let's try a skeleton that's moving around a bit. He's sort of a play on Baron Saturday with his top hat dancing to a beat.
Or possibly someone trying to ice skate missing the all important skate part and about to fall on his bony rear end.

Because no one should ever go without for Halloween, if anyone is still hunting for an avatar for the spooks and goblins this Saturday I made a couple from my skeletons free to share.

It isn't anything too fancy, but I like the clear lines and the simple black and white. Makes it seem a bit more fancy than I could ever really be.

They're both in the 150 px and smaller range, so it should hopefully fit in most places.

Feel free to take one or both and use them all you'd like. I'll just call it my Halloween treat to the masses and write it off on my taxes. How much do you think a black and white av is worth? Two cents? Maybe a Nickel.

Happy Halloween everyone. Tomorrow I'll have tons of pictures of our home haunt if anyone's curious just what we did to our front lawn.

Til then, it's never Halloween (or day before Halloween) til I hear this song at least once.I did the Mash, the Potato Mash. It was a culinary smash.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Etsy Gift Guides Explained

Hello Etsian Shoppers.

The season of shopping is nearly upon us so I thought I'd take a little time to explain something about everyone's much beloved (or occasionally tolerated) purveyor of (sometimes) handmade and (things from the 90's count, right?) vintage.

If you travel to Etsy you may see up in the top left corner what you think is all your answers to what to pick for Bobby, Joey and little T-rex (hippie parents) for the holidays: a gift guide.

But have you ever wondered just how those guides are picked? Was there a mass marketing experiment to decide just what is "hot" and "hip" this year. Maybe some surveys to see what people are looking for in this ever changing world? What's the most wanted toy of the season? Just who the hell needs a terrarium cowl?

I have a few theories that I'd like to test out as to how those gift guides are formed.

1. Some very bored high school interns type the dirtiest words into the search engine and just select the first 30 things they find hoping it'll get onto Regretsy.

2. Etsy is actually run by the keyboard playing cat and he has a major hankering for string beards, cowls to keep his little face warm, spats for the elegant cat trips to town and a chance to romp in a terrarium.

3. Gift Guides are actually formed from a time warp in the space time continuum. In 100 years we'll all be slightly beige creatures afraid of colors stumbling around without fingers for our fingerless gloves holding fake mustaches up to our lips while someone tells us to Keep Calm and Carry On.

It has to be one of those three options, because how else do you explain a HALLOWEEN DECOR guide where the front page looks like this:
In case you missed it. Here's a little close up. "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things doesn't belong."
A cake topper? For Halloween? A simple white beach destination nondescript cake topper mixed in with black pumpkins and wooden witch signs?

This is why I really hope it's the cat or bored teenager theories.

Because to think that someone just lazily selected random things from their handful of favorite shops for every single gift guide ensuring these select few shops get tons of free advertising while people who actually create things that would oh, I don't know, "FIT IN THE CATEGORY!" get jack shit for the same money they spend.

There's no way people could possibly be that lazy.

So unless you're purchasing for a moss eating cat or a fingerless alien from the future it might be for the best to just skip the Etsy Gift Guides for the Holidays and rely on some dull old Search Engineering.

Picture a Day - Day 331

Creativity can be a cruel master (I figure creativity must be male. How else to explain all those Renaissance paintings where the woman just can't quite figure out how to work a shirt and half of her is spilling out).

It waits in the grass watching with slit eyes for the perfect moment to strike. Usually as your hands are both full, a pot on the stove is boiling over and a small child is very unhappy with his current Fisher Price distraction options.

And when you're sitting at your desk, pen in hand, creativity nips down to the bar to knock back a few with insomnia and procrastination (Don't worry, they'll be back just as soon as you're getting ready for bed).

So I've come to accept that when the creative bug strikes I best grab ahold with both hands and hang on for dear life.

Last night creativity smacked me upside the head with a crowbar and made sure I'd lose all feeling in my left hand for half a day.
It started simply enough. I have two wedding dresses that need some representation in the artistic realm so I sat down while watching the Simpsons and sketched out the first one.

My husband took the puppy on her required daily walk and just as they came back in I finished up the last lines.
I put the dress on my table and went out to the living room, but creativity still wiggled around at the back of my brain.

The puppy was satiated with a bone, so I figured what the heck and I picked up the dress painting I'm giving away and sketched that out. The bride also wants her veil and bouquet included so I had a bit of a challenge ahead of me.
But that still wasn't enough for me. Oh no, creativity tugged on my arms pulling me deep into the well of productivity.

So while half listening and singing along to Nightmare Before Christmas I created a second pendant.
Yes it really is just the size of a quarter and yeah it is completely hand painted. It's a little different from my other simplistic white tree on wood stained background but it could certainly be a conversation starter should anyone like it (hint hint hint)

And that's a little glimpse into what can come out of my room when I get into just the right creative mood (just be happy I had to go to bed otherwise there could be a half finished 16X20 taking up space in my room).

P.S. Because it's Thursday and the day I update my lab notebook and basically check out and soon become unemployed here's a little puppy hug.
Puppy Hugs everyone!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Etsy Find of the Week - Sammis 2 Shoes

Christmas is coming. Okay so I'm a bit more focused right now on another holiday due round about this Saturday. You may have heard of it, lots of candy and scary stuff. Strange creatures go bump in the night.

Yep, Willy Wonka's birthday. I celebrate by dressing in the most elaborately horrifying outfit and forcing people onto boats while they watch clips of beady eyes and chicken mutilation.

But at the back of my mind is the niggling reminder that Christmas is coming and soon presents will be purchased and exchanged while one tries to avoid the large amount of precipitation outside. So I shall be aligning my Etsy Finds with the gift giver in mind.

For this week it's Sammis 2 Shoes, the perfect shop for any big green recyclers you have in your life.

If they still need a few totes for shopping but want something a bit more special, there are a few priced at $6 with cool designs on them.
For the green writer/jotter/note taker/strange person who draws skeletons in their spare time there are an interesting and wide array of reupholstered (as it were) 100% recycled notebooks.
Of course I love the doggies, but if your gift receiver is not so canine inclined there is a wide array of options like this plant life journal.
But my favorite are some of her repurposed old cigar boxes. How cute is this?
I love the slide mechanism as opposed to hinges and at only $8, it'd make not just a nice present but a nice way to present and even nicer present.

If you're looking for something green and with simple and cute designs for your journaler/shopper/jewelry container, check out Sammis 2 Shoes.

Picture a Day - Day 330

When one is about to leave a lab, there are certain traditions one must employ.

You can't just get a big box, throw all your stuff in it and head off into the wild blue yonder making plane crash noises.

There are many nuanced steps to extricating oneself carefully from a lab. The first of which is boxing up and labeling everything you've worked on.

Every now and again you'll get the diligent lab worker who labels everything, keeps it well organized and creates a flow chart of what is where in the freezer/fridge. They are a strange and rare species which should be shunned and feared and forced from the mighty castle of research with pitchforks and torches.

Everyone else relies more on the, oh just put it in a rack and stick it somewhere in the freezer. I've got another project I have to start in two minutes, and I'm sure I'll use it all up in a day or two. After which you will never look at that tube again.
So when one is laid off, you must spend an afternoon digging through the frozen recesses of the -20 freezer taxing your brain to remember just what the hell that slightly brown 50 mL conical tube is.

If you're really nice, you'll even put all the could be helpful to someone down the road samples into freezer boxes.
And then label on the outside just what is inside the boxes.
There is something incredibly depressing spending a few hours cleaning and organizing and realizing that a year and a half's worth of work can fit inside 4 freezer boxes and that there's a good chance no one will ever use any of it again.

The next step is to update my lab notebook and then show my old lab mate just where everything is and basically everything I ever did. (It feels kinda weird to have all of my random lab skills just get shared in a half a day or so, talk about making sure to never be needed again).

The rest of this week will be very bittersweet as I pack in and begin serious job hunting. I'm so sick of it, and thanks to the wonderful economy and the cliquey nature of labs I have a long hunt ahead of me.

At least I'll have my paintings and puppy to keep my days occupied and full. And if the puppy gets into the paint then it could be a very full day indeed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Suffering from the Tuesday Afternoon doldrums? Need a little pick me up til 5 o'clock Margaritas (or 5 o'clock chase Jimmy Buffet around the watercooler)?

Regretsy is here to help.

Etsy is fast becoming a wealth of not only fascinating and well crafted one of a kind items but also a bastion of fascinatingly disturbing stitched together with duct tape stuff pulled out of the trash.

I think you can guess which Regretsy tends to highlight.

Like this lovely chicken poncho, because the last thing I'd ever want is cold chicken McNuggets.

Or an art project where a yarn basket got wildly out of control so they just nailed it to the wall and decided to charge $650.
Possibly the scariest thing of all about Regretsy? A lot of times they things they feature get sold, and rather quickly. Like this:
Yes, it really is just a paper clip on some thread. Yes they actually charged $5 for it, and yes heaven help me someone bought it.

There's tons of stuff there that's sure to entertain, horrify, and make you curl up in a corner weeping for humanity.

But be warned, your afternoon will be shot as soon as you click on that link.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Picture a Day - Day 329

The path to adulthood is paved by not just the large cobblestones of life: graduation, first job, marriage, home ownership, going to bed by 10:30. Mixed in are all those tiny stepping stones to get you from one large point to another, or lead you off to the hose so you can wash all the bird poop off your "first job" stone.

The first time you fix a toilet on your own, when you realize that cleaning something up sooner instead of later means less work, summer is just the same ol days but with more A/C. Little things like that.

Yesterday I got one of my first of those really little pebbles of adulthood. Because we actually have a Home and a Garden it only makes sense to subscribe to magazines about how to make it better (well in theory. In practice I'd need a magazine actually called Adequate Homes & Gardens: How to make sure Girl Scouts don't get entangled in your plant life).
What are some of your favorite adult magazines? Anything with some good recipes in it?

I also had another adult moment last night where I managed to create something for dinner relying on what I'd learned from previous cooking endeavours and no recipe to work off.

I wanted to make an easy pot pie using those Pillsbury dinner roles for the crust only we didn't have any chicken. So I shifted the paradigm a bit, and became pro-active (think my fancy shmancy words will get me noticed by big time Hollywood execs? Yeah didn't think so) with my food choices.

We may have not had chicken but we did have some cheapish chuck steak thawed and ready to be turned into something other than the shoe leather it really is.

I cubed that and browned it up while my husband chopped up carrots and mushrooms. Once the shoe leather was an edible brown I dug through the cupboards trying to find a soup concentrate that would work with beef.

Golden Mushroom, made with a beef bullion base. I thought I'd scored but once I opened the can and tasted it a bit visions of a take out dinner danced through my head. It looked kinda like canned pumpkin and sort of tasted like it as well. This stuff was going to need a lot of work.

In it went into the pot with the meat and veg, and while I stirred with one hand I globbed in spoonfuls of sour cream pausing every now and again to taste it.

The sour cream was helping but there was something still off about the whole thing.

Then it hit me. Beef Bullion. I added a half a cup to the sauce mixture and suddenly like magic it took on this robust beefy and oh so gooey stick to your bones flavor.

In that went into a dish, covered the top with the biscuits and sat in my 400 oven for 20 minutes or so.
My husband loved it so much he all but licked his plate, and my plate and the serving spoon.

The bottom of the biscuits stayed a bit gooey but that made loping up the sauce with them that much easier.

This may be my best happy food mistake so far. Now I can make beef pot pie when the mood strikes (it's a bit more belly pleasing than the chicken pot pie version to me) and I mostly came up with it all on my little own.

Are you more of a follow the recipe to the letter type of person or do you use it more as a guideline and then try throwing your own spin on something?

Anyone else ever had a major accident/I have no idea what I'm doing wind up turning into something amazing in the kitchen?

What little cobblestone comes after "I figured out how to cook my own dishes?" Ooh I hope it's heat vision. That'd make cooking go a lot faster than the electric stove.

Adults have super powers right? Otherwise what's the point of growing up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Introverted Jewelry?

I have a new idea and I need some opinions from you guys.

I like creating my huge paintings that go over fireplaces and all, but what I really like is sitting down with my nose pushed close to a canvas creating incredibly intricate and fine details.

This works best in my wedding dress paintings as the details add up to a better picture of the entire dress and I keep the size small anyway so they're more cost effective (or some other random economics words).

So how do I incorporate my love of fine details with say a much cheaper way someone could get a piece of art from me?

I decided I'd try my hand at making pendants. This is the first trial run which is just a simple white tree painted on a wooden disc I stained about the size of a quarter.
I just have to add a little eyelet at the top so it can hang and then it's pretty much ready to go.

What do you think? It'd probably cost somewhere in the $3.50-$4.50 range for a hand painted pendant.

I'm just not sure if I want to jump headfirst into Etsy's already over bloated jewelry section. While it's a little bigger than a scrabble tile and actually hand painted as opposed to a picture glued onto a piece of wood I'm not sure if it's super appealing.

I'd be doing a lot more than trees, just other ideas and paintings that I like. Simple colors and probably more silhouettes.

What do you think? Would you like something like this a simple hand painted wooden pendant?

Picture a Day - Day 328

Some days I put down the candid camera and pick up the more "okay now stand like this and close one eye while jumping in the air" camera (which are actually the same camera I was just using one of those mete-fours.)

I want cute pictures of Essie as she comes to experience each holiday while still maintaining that puppy enthusiasm to please us as much as possible before the jaded "I hate you so much and can't believe your making me do this looks start to show up." So this weekend I picked up the pumpkin our realtor gave us, my camera and trundled Es out to the backyard.

At first I was a bit worried I couldn't get her to calm down enough to sit anywhere near the pumpkin.

Luckily for our little semi-vegetarian that was not an issue.
Mm, pumpkin stems. Just as tasty as the weeds I pull out of the garden when no one is looking.

After a bit I tried to get her attention away from the chewing and biting so maybe I could get a picture of her face.
What do you want mom?

Oh fairy godmother can you turn my pumpkin into an even bigger pumpkin so I can eat it?
After getting the pumpkin pictures down it was now onto tackle an even more extreme photoshoot, a black lab puppy in a costume.

As Essie is named after a literary witch it seemed rather fitting that she go as one this year.
We had about 5 seconds before the hat was pulled, twisted off and lying on the ground while the puppy licked our faces. It's quite amazing just how flexible a lab puppy really is. She could put some octopi to shame for the tiny places and weird body distortions she can pull off.

Realizing the hat was a no go, I thought I'd try the little cape that came with it instead.
The wind was cooperating quite nicely as the cape billowed around her giving quite a dramatic effect for a puppy hoping that she'll get the milkbone the photographer is holding off camera.

Okay, so we got a pumpkin picture. We managed a hat one. And there's even a billowing cape one. But can we bring it all together?
Er . . . well if you've ever wondered what a witch looks like when she's chasing her tail that should give you an idea.

Once more, with feeling and half a box of milk bones.
SUCCESS! A Halloween picture worthy of a few avatars at least.

"Okay, I'm done playing dress up now. Time to play and wrestle, right?"
I'm not sure what we'll do with the costume for actual Halloween, maybe skip the hat and just put the cloak on her (she didn't mind that part at all).

Anyone with pets, do you have a costume all picked out for your little ones or are they going to go naked for the festivities?

The nice thing about taking silly pictures of a dog when they're little, when she's older she'll only feel ashamed of them if she eats them and gets caught.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 327

There's just one more weekend til Halloween!


Okay so it isn't quite as bad as that but my husband and I have accepted that some of the great cool totally wicked ideas we had are just not going to be fully finished the first Halloween in our house.

Not as many fun lights, not as many props, no giant pumpkin bag full of leaves.

But that doesn't mean we can't at least get some of them to almost doneish. Like my fairy specimen.

I wanted to create the feel of an old museum where exotic butterflies are pinned inside dusty old wooden cases. So a little paint, a little tea staining and a lot of swearing as I couldn't get the backing back into the shadow box and I created my Fairy Specimen perfect for any crypto-zoological museum.
This fairy only fills half the box as I want to do another more typical fairy aka big head and two sets of wings, but again time is slipping by quickly and there are other more pressing projects.
For a closer view of the fairy specimen tag. I worked a few sort of puns/inside jokes in there.
And while I was working hard and swearing a lot at my fallen angel fairy to get it some hair and into the cursed box my husband has embarked on an interesting endeavour of his own.
He's going to make fancy chocolates molded to look like various body parts. So far he's just created clay models of the brain and lung (which look really cool) but he's got wild plans for many other various organs.

There's still pumpkins to carve and puppies to take adorable pictures of in her costume and then this Friday we finally put it all together outside and have our first ever yard haunt.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Picture a Day - Day 326

I've been wanting to write a post dedicated to my little trooper of a camera for a while now, I just had no way to photograph it.

It's stuck with me for over 300 days, turning on and taking pictures that I can then share with the web despite a few little spills and oopsies.

There were pictures of Essie and her litter when they were just 5 days old.

Pictures of the new house (and all the other houses we looked through but shot down).

And of course, millions of lovely pictures of nature and other random trees I find cool.

So here's to you little Nikon Coolpix L4It's been through some rather um, tough times as I carried it stashed in every pocket or pouch available to me every day for nearly a year.
You've been a wonderful friend but I think it's time you look into some partial retirement, take it easy and kick back by the polaroid pool. But I'll still keep you on as my camera emeritus, after all your light weight and ease of use still makes you a nice fast point and click.
Your job will be handled now by my slightly more beefed up Nikon Coolpix L100.
It has a lot of the same features as my old camera just more options (as well as a wonderful vibration reduction which means I can keep the flash off for the most part forever. Yay!). But what I really Really REALLY love about my new camera is the 15X optical zoom lens.

My old camera had a really not useful 3X which just meant it was usually easier for me to walk up closer to the object as opposed to the lens.

But with this baby I can take a picture of the top branches of a tree with wonderful clarity.
And now I can sit back at the front of the yard, throw the ball and snap pictures of Essie in full action mode without having to worry about getting the picture fast so I can pull the camera away before she bowls me over with puppy kisses.
Getting some air there.
I love the floppy lab ears.
There's still a lot of learning I have to do with the camera, adjusting to the larger screen, the fact that I don't have to hold my breath to take a picture and learning the menu buttons in the dark while blindfolded but I can't wait.

What kind of cameras do all you other bloggers use?