Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

So I may have just made that colloquialism up. Colloquial phrases are so tricky! When I was living with a French family for a month, colloquialisms just slipped out of my mind. I remember I was writing an email to someone and wrote 'out of the blue'. I stated at that phrase for a good ten minutes trying to determine if that were the right words. Blue. Why not green? Both made no sense; how was I supposed to decide what color was sufficiently random?

But I digress! Dog days. Hot days. Brutally hot days. Last summer I were a post called 'victims of the heat' where I posted pictures of the flowers, burned to death by the sun.

This summer the fatalities have been more sinister ones.

There was a robin's nest, some four feet off the ground in a small tree/brush by our driveway. Eagerly, I checked on the nest almost everyday, much to the mother's dismay. It started out with three adorable little squeaking baby robins, their mouths eagerly open, begging for more food.

Then, there was one baby. The other two just disappeared. They weren't even old enough to have feathers, still mere babies.

So I continued to check on the remaining chick until one day my mom took a long look at him and realized he wasn't moving.

And then he too was gone from the nest. The once crowded, noisy nest was now barren.

I know, I know, c'est la vie and all but it's sad that out of all the chicks not one survived.

Then, after checking the nest one last time, I stumbled upon what was most likely another victim of the heat, a dead squirrel, hidden partially by the bush.

Well I can tell you who isn't a victim of the heat! Moi! I just got back from a half hour bike ride. It was 100 ((felt like 102, according to my phone, like that's supposed to make a difference;)) degrees when I left, but it didn't feel that bad.

I love to ride my bike, even if I'm so out of shape my legs are burning by the middle of the first song playing on my phone. It's a great way to get time to think. Back when I wrote more, I would grab my bike, some plot problem on my mind, and ride until I had solved the problem. I would edit plots, design characters, and plan my stories on a bike.

I paused briefly to take some pictures of well...probably just grass but I liked the way it looked ;)

Don't you hate it when you can't decide between two edits of your photo?


Which one do you prefer? I can't pick between them ;)

Anyway! Just a little update. I can't believe that it's almost July! With all this free time on my hands I want to go back to school. However I know when I get there, I'll miss all this stress free time at home ;)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Should've been a cowboy, should've learned to rope and ride. Wearing my six-shooter, riding my pony on a cattle drive. 


It's the last week for my horse class. :( We have all finally reached that point of familiarity not only with the horses, but with each other, easily chatting before and after class. Then, on Friday it'll all be over. It's odd that I'm this sad that a class is ending, but I really enjoyed the class. It was the first time in a long time that I've had the chance to be around horses for more than an hour or so.

There was a second summer term class planned but with that cancelled, my July is looking bleak. Despite my best efforts to find a job, I am still jobless. Which leaves a lot of time for crafting and baking. Too much time, I've found out. During the semester, up to my ears in homework and stress, I dreamed of all the free time that I would have in the summer.

Dreams, I've found out, sometimes live best in your head. I'm going to look around for some more volunteer opportunities to fill up my time.

It's been such an odd transition, from college to summer. I didn't realize how accustomed I had become to the busy social life of college. Summer has a slower pace, with all my friends busy at their jobs. I have to admit, I miss the party/IHOP filled Friday nights, and the weekly rock climbing. I miss hanging out with my friends almost 24/7.

Summer definitely has a slower pace, but hey, after that hellish week of finals, I'm glad for it. :) Even if it means that my friends are spread out across the country.

Anyway! Enough of my complaining. I'm in the very lucky position where I do not have a dire need for a job-- almost every expense for college is covered in my scholarship.

Besides, all this free time should be put to good use. I have piano pieces I want to learn, an entire instrument-- violin-- I want to become better at, and my photography to be improved.

The setting sun does give off the most beautiful light. It's so warm, it paints the scene like a dream. I always cringe whenever I see portraits done in the harsh afternoon sun. If I ever did any portraits for like, clients, I would take them out to a field, and wait till the sun was near the horizon. The warm hues of the sun would blend well with the natural environment.

But until then my subjects shall be plants. ;) 

 Did I ever tell you how much I love reflections? Some days, staring down into their misty imitations of the world, they appear to be a world all of their own. I fell like I could just take a deep breath, and jump in. After plunging through the water I would find myself in a parallel world, and who knows what I would find there. Perhaps Schrodinger's cat would be alive. ;)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Berry Good

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

It has been a while since I last posted so I thought I would share just about the only pictures on my camera, which are of a dessert.

Hey, it's like 100 degrees outside, don't judge. It's so much more enjoyable inside, with air conditioning, there just aren't as many photo opportunities. 

I made some pudding from scratch yesterday. It's a really easy recipe. You just mix some ingredients together, like an egg, flour, sugar, milk, and a dash of vanilla. Then you just stuck all that in a pot, put it over heat, and stir it till it boils.


I then threw on some fresh berries. The blackberries are from a huge bush in our backyard.

This is a photo I found hiding in one of my numerous folders on my computer. Light trails are not only for night!  It was a cloudy day, so there wasn't much natural light to be had. I turned my aperture to some ridiculously large number, say f/15 to allow my shutter speed to almost a second. Then, I quickly hit the shutter and waved my phone in front of the lens, creating this photo. ;)

My pirate kitty! Adorable as always. I love the shallow depth, and the way it allows her face to really pop.

Anyway! Thanks for reading, and have a berry good week.

Sorry, last one.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Morning Glory

Sorry about the absence of posting! My life has fallen into a summer routine, with not much to post about.

One of the benefits of getting up at 6:30 almost every morning is that I have discovered that I'm a morning person! Today I woke up at 7:40 feeling completely rested. I suppose this is good practice for next semester-- both of my two roommates are definitely morning people.

Anyway, I headed out to do some reading, but I caught a glimpse of the morning light, dancing around my backyard. Grabbing my camera, I headed out to capture it.

What's unusual about morning photos is that I'm normally quite happy with how they look, straight out of the camera, no editing needed. There is enough natural contrast, bursting color, and warm light to make the photos shine on their own. No help from Photoshop required.

I love actions, I really do. Recently, however, I've been doing all my work in camera raw. It provides an easy interface stocked with all the essential tools. It lacks the maneuverability of layers, yet I haven't had need of them. Any change can be undone.
I love the look of professional actions, yet I've just been too cheap to actual purchase any.

Remember this cutie? I took this picture with my point and shoot last summer. I just thought this little fern was the cutest thing ever, for some reason.

I found it again this morning. The two pictures, of the same type of plant, are so drastically different it's surprising. I'm not sure under what type of light the old photo was taken, but I remember I was in my 'dark' phase, when I purposely underexposed everything to see how it would turn out.

The old photo also reminds me of the limitations of my point and shoot. I had to get really close to the fern if I wanted any chance of manual focusing.

Even so, I like both of the photos. Each has it's own perks. I love the dark green feel of the old photo, how absolute the shadows became.

I also love the morning brightness of the new photo. How warm everything is. How the fern is set against the green-y background, and not so isolated.

So I hate bees. I've never been stung and I would like to keep this streak for as long as possible. So this photo was taken in a push-the-camera-close-hit-the-button-run-away type of technique. While I love the photo, having the bee in focus would have been so cool. However, I wasn't about to push my luck.

Our blackberry bush! It's doing so well this year; getting even bigger. The berries are amazing and super tart.

So yesterday in class, we spent the majority of the time trotting. Let me tell ya; trotting may seem like a romantic let's-frolic-through-the-fields-hair-waving type of thing but don't be confused! It's actually a teeth-jarring-why-am-I-doing-this-to-myself type of thing. Soooo painful. And I'm sure one of these days I'm just gonna fall off the horse. I don't know how the others manage to stay on their horse.

The abs I don't even have are sore.

Anyway, I have an interview this afternoon-- wish me luck!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Homemade Pizza

I miss Hendrix.

It's the first summer I've ever spent, wanting school to start back up. Of course, the second school starts I'll be wishing for a break from the stress and work.

Still. I miss lots of things about Hendrix. The amazing friends I made. The fact that they all lived within a five minute walk from my dorm. Eating delicious deserts at every single meal.

Also, I miss the pizza. You see, Hendrix has the most amazing cafeteria I have ever eaten from. Something they started toward the end of the school year was late dinner. At this late dinner, they had salads and personal pizzas made to order.

This plate of heaven was devoured during a late night dinner. In a cafeteria. This amazing was found in a cafeteria.

It still blows my mind.

Anyway! While I'm waiting for August to arrive, I decided to recreate a little bit of Hendrix in my kitchen.

I decided to make pizza. From scratch. By hand.

The only hitch was that I decided this about half an hour before I wanted to eat. Since traditional dough takes houuurrss to make, I quickly looked up pizza dough recipes that did not involve yest.

Alas, I fell prey to the all the common allure of get-it-now fever that racks our society. There is a reason dough has yest in it. My recipe was nothing special, some flour, oil, backing soda, and water.

It looks innocent enough, right?? What you don't see is me pounding the iron-like dough, forcing it to conform to a vaguely pizza like shape. It was tough as a rock. And then some. I figured that it would taste something awful but I had gotten this far so I figured I would keep going.

There was enough dough to make two little pizzas. They sure looked like the pizza from Hendrix.

I was worried that they would taste anything but.

The topping was the easy part. I hate anything that resembles tomato, so I coated the dough with an herb/olive oil mixture. I then quickly cooked some chicken in a skillet, loading them with spices. I layered on three different types of cheese, chicken, and bacon onto the personal pizzas.

....and forgot to take pictures of me doing all that. ;) So! I snapped a photo of them cooking. It didn't take long for these puppies to cook. 

And here they are! They don't look bad, though I was worried about how the crust would taste.

The result? Ehhh. I ended up making a little herb/olive oil dipping sauce for the dough. It didn't taste bad-- and the topping tasted amazinggggg! The dough just tasted...dough-y. And it was dense as a rock. Next time I'm going to definitely take the time to make actual pizza dough with yest. :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Explore. Dream. Discover. is one of the first travel blogs I ever followed. It was before I even know what a travel blog was. The blog not only introduced me to travel blogs, it also introduced me to this Mark Twain quote.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

- Mark Twain

And it was this quote that provided inspiration for my next craft project! Armed with over half a bottle of mod podge and a mind full of ideas (kind of), I set out to make use of any old materials I could set my hands on.

Remember how I can't paint?

Well there was a time before I accepted that-- and here's proof of it. In my head I envisioned a swirling dancer, the light catching on the silk of her twirling skirt, her body caught in the midst of a turn. What came out on canvas was nothing like that. So I stopped trying and stuck the canvas in the back of my dresser drawer.

Which is where I re-discovered it yesterday! I had seen lots of craft ideas involving canvas and paper so I decided to use the same old book that I used with my shoes and paste the pages on the canvas.

I grabbed my trusty mod podge and got to pasting. It was as simple as the shoes-- just gluing paper to a canvas really. I experimented with both cutting and tearing the pages and found that I liked the harsh edges of cutting better than when I tore a passage out.

It didn't take long before the entire canvas was covered!

Trust me, it looks better, and less wrinkled in person.

Now was the hard part. I knew that I wanted the words explore, dream, and discover on them. The question was how? I didn't have any stencils. I contemplated free-handing it, but realized it would not look good.

While I like doing decorative writing...((shameless picture of my drawings...))

I wasn't sure how it would turn out using paint. After all, you can't just erase paint.

I had finally decided that I would just print out the words, cut out the individual letters, and paste them on, when my mom had a brilliant idea.

We took a page from the same old book (1958 Reader's Digest if anyone's curious) and taped it to a sheet of printer paper. Then, we ran it through the printer and the words printed onto the old page.

I simply cut out the words and arranged them on the canvas.

A little mod podge, and it was all done! I love the finished result. It has that old book feel that I was striving for and the quote I love. And, considering I had all the materials on hand, it cost me nothing. :) All the materials, if you're buying them, are relatively cheap. My library sells old Reader's Digests books for 25 cents apiece, the canvas would be three dollars, and I used roughly 75 cents worth of mod podge.

Pretty inexpensive for a unique work of art :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

The One with the Shoes

Alternatively titled, Paris Rose. :)

Why? You'll see!

So, continuing on my crafting streak, I stumbled upon a cool tutorial that gave new life to old shoes.

I have an old pair of white shoes that I bought for Shirttails, a dance competition at my college.

After the competition, I threw them into the back of my closet and forgot about them. In the back of my mind I planned to paint them some time, like some of the amazing shoes I had seen on Deviant Art.

In this mental planning my complete lack of painting skills would magically turn into the perfect ability to decorate my shoes in a variety of Zelda symbols.

When I got back home for summer break, my tired old shoes just lay on my floor. The reality of my inability to draw a straight line broke any ideas of painting the shoes.

That's when I stumbled upon the coolest tutorial involving a pair of shoes, an old book, and copious amounts of mod podge. I didn't even know what mod podge was a week ago but since my jump into the deep end of crafting, I'm a little better versed in the materials. Mod podge is this type of glue substance. Armed with a 40% off coupon I found online I headed to Hobby Lobby and bought a small container of mod podge for around three dollars.

The cast of characters! Armed with these simple tools and my beat up shoes, I turned my iPhone on full volume and got started.

It was a little intimidating at first-- I had no clue what I was doing. I just knew I needed to paste the paper onto the shoe. It turned out as easy as it sounds. I slapped some mod podge down on the shoe, put the strip of paper on it and then pasted more mod podge over it. I had brought some scissors out to help cut the pages of the book but soon decided that I liked the rougher look of tearing the paper by hand.

It was fairly easy and fun work. It was also an awarding art form. There was no right or wrong way, it looked good no matter what you did.

I got lucky and one of the books in the Reader's Digest had 'Paris' in the title.

For the other shoe I used 'Rose'. It would've been cool to have French words on my shoes but the book I was cutting up was in English and I couldn't bare to cut even a page out of my old French novels, even if I still can't read them.

And now, after some time, effort, music, and an ungodly amount of mod podge, the finished shoes!

I'm so happy with how they turned out! I can't believe a craft of mine turned out this well. ;) I plan to give them a couple more coats of mod podge and wear them out in public. And then at every opportunity draw attention them because I'm just that proud of them :D I forgotten how much I paid for the white shoes, but it was less than ten dollars. The book was found in the back of some closet (free!) and the entire thing of mod podge (of which I used 1/20th?) was three dollars. Overall, a cheap way to make unique shoes!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crafting Craziness

Since I am still without a job, and the prospects don't look good, one might wonder, what then, am I doing with my time?

Besides eating yogurt out of the container and reading 'The Art of Intelligence'? Oh what a glamorous life I lead.

Crafting! I rediscovered my love of anything DIY.

Even if I'm not particularly good at it. Don't get me wrong, I've sewed myself a skirt before, and a couple of purses.

This was something I found online. I tried using acrylic paint to transfer the ink. Yeah. It wasn't even close to working. Oh well! I moved on to cooking. As though I would have better luck there.

You know you spend too much time online find this cool trick. The curved bowl amplifies the sound of your iPhone. ;) Rocking to Mumford and Sons!!

I started off with a normal chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.

The uniqueness came into play when I went to bake them.

I turned a mini-muffin tin upside down, and put the cookie down on top of them. The intention was to make cute little 'cups' of cookies. Of course, mine did not turn out like the picture, but I liked them nonetheless.

As far as tastes go I would not use the same recipe again-- the cookies were not very sweet. I made a quick chocolate frosting and used the plastic bag piping technique-- aka, cheap and messy-- to pipe some of the frosting on the cookies. The frosting was not very sweet either. The cookies ended up being sweet enough, but not cloyingly so.