Productivity is on the Rise

Yes, I’ve been super productive lately, but I still haven’t gotten any homework done. How is that possible, you ask? Well …

Yay, I’ve been making dioramas! The photo is a little fuzzy, and it does look better in person. I still need to add some color to those rocks and then add another layer of water so that the river is a bit deeper. But then this one is just about done!

I’ve also been working on another one, and I’ve gotten plaster cloth and plaster for making rocks. So far they are … less than impressive. Hopefully they will look better when I paint them and add some other stuff to the scene.

I think those are rocks ...

Basically, what I’ve really been doing is making a mess of my room. And I’ve been doing a very good job of it. All the plaster is cleaned up now, but for a while I had plaster dust everywhere.

If you were wondering, the laptop is there because I was watching North and South, the British miniseries, not the one about the Civil War. It was super good (and free streaming with Amazon Prime!). Update: apparently there was a previous version, starring Patrick Stewart. And finally, one more photo:

The cat, sleeping on my totally awesome How to Train Your Dragon sheets (with one of the HtTYD pillowcases and one chococat because they were hideous), and with one foot on my pillow. Because that makes sense. Oh and those are my pajamas in the foreground.

Published in: on August 28, 2011 at 12:56 am  Comments (2)  

Chicken Salad

So, I had never really liked chicken salad. At least, I thought that I didn’t. I still remember trying to order a salad with chicken on it once, when I was younger, and they gave me the chicken salad instead, and it was awful and I was miserable. For some reason I was out with my mom and a bunch of people that she knew (I’m thinking it was almost ladies who lunch, even though my mom is not one of that crowd), and so I had to pretend to be happy even though the food was not what I wanted.

Since then, I decided that I didn’t like chicken salad.

Until I was in Texas in March. There, we went to this one cafe for lunch, and it had very limited menu options, and the only one that was at all appealing was the chicken salad, so I tried it. And it was delicious! And I was like, woah, chicken salad is GREAT!

So since then, I have loved chicken salad, and I make it a lot. Usually, I just do canned chicken, mayo, chopped apple, craisins, and tomatoes. It’s basic, and the apple and craisins provide a nice sweetness and crunch. The apple really makes the salad.

Lately though, when I went to the store to buy groceries, I was feeling very lazy. I didn’t want to have to buy mayonnaise and apples, and I knew that I hate having to chop up the apples, because it takes forever, but I really wanted chicken salad. So then I had a genius idea! I’d just make chicken salad with applesauce. (As a side note, I would like to point out how annoying it is that the font changes from a serif font to a non-serif font when you put it in italics. Note the difference: a or a.)

So I tried making my chicken salad, mixing it up with applesauce instead of mayonnaise, and still putting craisins in it. It was pretty awful. It was very obviously applesauce, and I don’t actually like applesauce (so why I thought to do this, I have no idea). But then I tried putting curry powder in it. And then it was awesome! It is so good, who would have thought?

Next time I make it I will take a photo.

Recently, my sister sent me link to another chicken salad, with pineapple and mandarin oranges in it. It looks super good, too. But the photo is too big, and so it won’t really fit into this post … The only problem with this recipe is that it’s clearly one of those “bring to a party and feed a million people” type of salads, so I’ll need to either find an excuse to make it, or find a way to scale it down to make only a couple of meals.

 

Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm  Comments (8)  

Dioramas!!

So I’m pretty sure that I have already mentioned at least once in this blog how much I love dioramas. Let me just say it again: I LOVE DIORAMAS. When I go to museums, the best part is looking at all the dioramas. The aerospace museum that I went to with Myriad may have been a run-down museum in need of some serious help, but they had some really cool dioramas that used forced perspective to fit the scene in. I had never seen anything like that, but it was awesome.

Anyway, I think one of the coolest jobs in the world would be making dioramas for museums. Sadly, those aren’t actually done in the museum, but they’re contracted out to special diorama-making-people. So I suppose if I applied for a job with the diorama-making-people …. hmm ….

Well, last night, I was eating dinner with my roommates (Chicken Tikka Masala, yum!), and my roommate B said that she loves the dioramas, too, and she thinks that making the dioramas would be like the coolest job evar. I was like, OMG ME TOO!! I got very excited. I was like, if only I could just make a diorama instead of writing a thesis!

“Well, actually,” said my other roommate (best thing I’ve ever heard) “there was this one class on visual anthro, and one guy made a diorama for his project. So if you get that professor on your committe, maybe she’d let you do a diorama.”

OMG HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE?

So I have come up with a plan. Today, I am going to Hobby Lobby with B. She actually needed to go and I said that I would come along because come on it’s HOBBY LOBBY. And when I go to Hobby Lobby today (I just really like saying Hobby Lobby), I will buy one of those diorama kits, and start teaching myself how to make the super awesome realistic looking dioramas! The way I see it, this is a skill that could be useful later on in my life, so I’m really just practicing and refining a skill, not just playing with dioramas.

So … what should I make? I think I’m going to buy the mountain building kit, which means I can learn how to make rocks! I’m holding off on the water kit until I get the basic ground skills covered. And I think the flat one would just be kinda boring. So I’m gonna make rocks! Yeah!

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 4:10 pm  Comments (3)  

Cliffhangers are SO ANNOYING

So there’s this one series of books that I really like. It’s by Kristen Britain, and it’s called the Green Rider series.

 It’s about this girl, Karigan, who feels the “call” and becomes a Green Rider. They are messengers for the King, but they also can be used as spies, can fight in the wars, and in Karigan’s case, end up meeting all sorts of gods and legends, crossing dimensions, travelling through time, etc. All riders have a little bit of magic, but they only get to have one skill. One woman can change her shape, so she can appear as anyone she wants. She gets to be a spy a lot. One guy can see in the dark. Some people can communicate to each other telepathically, even across long distances. And Karigan gets to cross between this world and the next, sometimes travelling into the past, seeing ghosts, etc. Each book she ends up doing something more ridiculously awesome than the last book, and the books themselves are very well written. Love them.

There’s just one problem. They take forever to come out!! I was so excited that the fourth book in the series had come out, and I ordered it right away, and then read it all at once. I was waiting for the internet people to come and set up my internet, so I had to hang around the house doing nothing, so I just read all day, and then I ended up finishing the book.

And then I discovered that there will be a fifth book. Which would be totally awesome, if it didn’t end with Karigan in mortal peril (not really a first for her, I admit). And I have a feeling that I know where she is and what’s going to happen, but who knows when I will find out for sure? The author’s webpage says that she is currently working on the next book, but she has no idea when it will come out. So frustrating.

Anyway, everyone should definately read these books. Because they rock. Super awesome fantasy novels. Just be forewarned, there is a major major cliffhanger waiting for you at the end of book 4. 😦

Published in: on August 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  

More photos of my windows

So I asked my mom if she would take a picture of my windows, being as I am now in another state. So she sent me one, which I put in the last post, and it’s not great. Honestly, the colors show up better at night, when they’re lit from inside, instead of backlit. So I ask her to take photos of them at night and she does, but she clearly does not have the light on in the room. So the pictures aren’t great. Next time I go home I will take much nicer photos, but these will have to do for now.

And also all the tubes of paint that we bought …

Published in: on August 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm  Comments (2)  

How to Make Stained Glass Windows

My house is right on a main road, so there are always a lot of people driving by. It kinda freaks my mom out that people can see into the house, but she hates mini-blinds, which is what is currently on all of the windows. So she decided that she wanted to do something that would prevent people from looking into the house, without having to have blinds. And instead of just going to the store and buying some sheer curtains, she decided to paint the windows so that they look like stained glass.

Now, my mom has actually done the stained glass painting before, so she knows how it works. This was my first time, however. Thankfully, it was super easy, although kinda tedious. So here is a quick little tutorial on how I made my stained glass windows, so that you can go and make your own!

First of all, you need to figure out what you want to paint. So step 1 is just to find some inspiration. Now, I knew that I wanted my windows to be something steampunk, so I just googled that for a bit until I found something awesome. Also, I have three windows in my room that are together, and I decided to make my windows into one larger mural, instead of three separate pictures, but you could do it either way.

While I was browsing the search results for steampunk, I ended up finding photos of this awesome office.

This company, Three Rings, is actually a gaming company, and while their front office looks totally normal, the back is completely steampunk! In an interview somewhere on the web, one guy called it the mullet office: business in the front, party in the back. The guy was also wearing a bright red military jacket, which he apparently does rather often. Go here for more photos.

A couple of the photos really caught my interest, however. These are walls in the office, and I thought they were super cool, so I decided to combine the two images and use that as my window.

To make it more steampunk, I added some gears, using the border of this image for the gears.

Got Steampunk by NadeshdaVasile, found on DeviantArt

When I combined it together, this is what I got.

I also measured all of my windows meticulously, so that I had everything to the right scale, with the space between the windows blocked out. I originally intended to paint on the wall between the windows, but I haven’t gotten the chance to do that yet. Maybe later.

Now, you can always just work directly on the windows, and paint it free-hand, but since I had a lot of detail in mine, I decided to draw a template. I traced the pattern right off of my computer screen onto some newsprint, so that I could tape that onto the back of the window and trace it.

Making the pattern is step 2. Step 3 is to clean your window. You want the surface to be clean so that the paint and the lead stick to it, and not to all the dust and cat hair that might be on it. Naturally I forgot Step 3 with the first window that I did. Whoops.

Before you go on to Step 4, let me point out that this paint is NOT waterproof. It washes right off with soap and water. (It also peels off rather nicely in one large sheet if it needs to.) Because of this, you do NOT want to paint the outside of the windows, or the paint will wash off in the rain. So make sure that you are painting the inside of the windows.

Now we can begin Step 4. Get some Liquid Leading. Like the paint, this is sold at most craft stores – Michaels, Hobby Lobby, AC Moore – but you may want to call ahead and check, because the AC Moore near my house apparently recently stopped stocking it, and it also may be out of stock in some places. The clear paint was always out of stock, which makes me wonder just how many people are doing this at any given time.

Anyway, Step 4. Tape your template to the back of the window (the outside) so that you can see it through the glass. Some windows can come right out of the frame, which is really nice, because then you can lay the glass flat on a table, making it much easier to work on. However, it can be done while the window is still in the wall, it’s just a little bit more difficult. Now trace the template with the liquid leading. The lead will shrink a little when it dries, so don’t make the lines too thin, or they will break. It can always be touched up later, though, so don’t worry too much.

The liquid lead is kinda hard, so you have to really squeeze the bottle to get it to come out. If you have tendonitis in your wrist and thumb (hi!!) this can get pretty painful. But don’t despair! The paint is much easier!!

Once you’re done with your leading, it should look something like this:

Let the lead dry. I think the bottle says it takes something like 8 hours. I usually left mine overnight, but once it’s no longer wet and sticky you can probably add the paint. Even dry it will be able to squish a little bit, so don’t use that as your measure for how dry it is.

Step 5: Paint!!

When you buy your paint, pay attention to the name of the color, not the color that you can see through the bottle. The paint will change color as it dries, so it’s always best to do a little test spot to try out what the paint will end up looking like. You can just put a spot right on the window that you’re working with, because once it dries you can peel it off cleanly, so there won’t be an obvious test spot sitting there.

Start painting right onto the glass, making sure that it touches the lead. As the paint dries, it will also shrink a little, so if it doesn’t attach to the leading it will pull back and you will get gaps. Remember, all gaps can be filled in later once it’s dry and you can see what needs a touch-up.

Here’s an in-progress shot. You can see the darker red, which is dry. The pink is what it looks like wet, and what it looks like in the bottle. So, you can see how the colors change as the paint dries. I had a lot of trouble finding the right colors for some of my design because of this. I actually ended up mixing a couple colors to get the paint the way I wanted it at one point.

The paint comes in little squeezy bottles. Because it is so liquidy, you really don’t even have to squeeze the bottle to get the paint to come out, it will just pour out nicely, and then you can smooth it around with the tip (much easier on my tendonitis!!). If the paint stops coming out as well, there might be an air bubble, so just tap the bottle on the glass a couple times and it should start working again. Try not to squeeze too hard, or you may get a sudden outpouring of paint, which can get messy. For different effects, you can also experiment with painting it on with a paintbrush, which usually makes the color a bit lighter.

That sand is 2 coats with a paint brush. So light!

Let the paint dry completely, and do any touch-ups where they are needed. If it’s just a small spot, you really can’t see where the new paint was added. However, I don’t recommend painting half of a section, letting it dry, and then finishing it, because you can see a line where you had left off in the first place. I got a bug in my paint at one point, and I had to peel off the paint in that area in order to get the bug out. When I went to add more paint to fill in the gap, there was a definite line where the new paint had been added. Sorry I don’t have a photo of that to show you, but it was not very pretty. I ended up adding some more to try and even out the area, and it worked ok. I bet no one else would even notice, but I know that it’s there.

I found that the best thing to do was do the lead of one and let that dry. The next day, I did the lead of another window, and while that was drying I painted the first one. By the time that was finished I could paint the first one, or lead another one, so that I didn’t have to sit around and wait for them to dry in between.

All in all, my windows took … forever. The smaller ones I finished pretty quickly, and it only took about a day for each one. Mind you, I really wasn’t working that much each day, so I probably could have finished the entire thing in less than a week if I really worked at it. But I’m lazy, and I ended up going away for a couple weeks in the middle, so … yeah, it took forever. It was made much easier by having a more or less symmetrical pattern, because then I really only had to make one template for all the four corners, and then I turned it to fit whichever window I was painting.

It is kind of tedious, and it tends to get boring if you’re painting for a long time, so I usually just put a movie in and worked while I listened to the movie. Books on tape would probably be better, if you have any, because you can’t actually watch the movie and paint at the same time. So I always picked movies that I’ve seen a lot. And really long ones, like the Jane Austen mini-series, because then I would get more of the window done.

And, ta-da!! My steampunk porthole windows! (Please note the octopus hanging on the bed … and the underwater bedspread … complete coincidence, I assure you.)

All in all, the colors that I used were ruby red (border), gold sparkle (gears), metallic copper (porthole), crystal clear (water), cocoa brown (connectors on the porthole), snow white (fish), orange poppy (starfish), orange poppy mixed with a lot of snow white (octopus), peach (coral), and I think the sand is gilded oak. Or amber, but I’m pretty sure it’s gilded oak, painted on with a brush. Oh, and there’s some turquoise in the fish’s fins.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm  Comments (2)  

Epic Road Trip of Doom!

 So I had to move from NY to southern IL. At first, my mom was going to drive with me in her own car, so that I could bring even more crap with me. Then she was going to just ride with me in my car (by which I mean my dad’s car, since he never bothered to get a title and so we couldn’t switch it over to me yet), so that she could keep me company, and then she could drive some if I wanted. And then we found out that Myriad would be able to come with me, so my mom didn’t come at all.

The couple of days before we left were a mess. I needed to get my car registered, and then I needed to buy new tires, and then I needed to actually pack the car. I got a bunch of those vacuum seal bags, the ones that suck all of the air out and compress your stuff. I put all of my clothes in there, and then compressed them so they look ed like packages of beef jerky. One of them had this weird white stripe on the bag, and I had a red coat in it, so it looked like bacon. All of my clothes were shoved into my suitcase, which then was almost too heavy to actually lift, and then we crammed everything in the car. It took some maneuvering, but we did eventually manage to pack everything in the car while leaving almost the entire back window free so that I could actually see in my mirror.(At least, it was clear until the cat decided to sit up there on the second day of the trip and completely block my view.) Never doubt my tetris-packing skills.

(As a side note, now that I finally got internet again, I finally bought the score to the 3rd Transformers movie. Not as great as the 1st so far, but still really good.)

So we packed everything in the car the night before we left. Then on Wednesday morning, we got up, put our last two suitcases with our clothes for the trip and stuff in the car, shoved the cat in her carrier, put that in, and set off. I had to get gas, and since I used the discount from Price Chopper (every $50 you spend at the grocery store gives you $.10 off your gas at SUNOCO) I ended up buying gas for $1.60/gallon. AWESOME!! Then I had to go to the pharmacy and buy my overpriced over-the-counter medicine, and then we set off.

We stopped at Rochester and went to lunch with my friend S and her boyfriend. That was fun, but we may have spent a little too much time hanging out and chatting over lunch. We got back on the road eventually (and by this point the cat had resigned herself to her car, and so had stopped crying the whole time). Myriad knitted, I played the alphabet game a bajillion times, we eventually stopped at Wendy’s for dinner, and then we got a motel room, and smuggled the cat inside.

The next day was pretty similar. We got up, got some breakfast/caffeine at the gas station, and headed off. Our break in the day was going to be at Big Bone Lick State Park in Kentucky. It’s right by Beaverlick. Naturally, my GPS couldn’t actually find it, so we had to text my sister and get her to look up the zip code so that we could head in the right direction. The funniest thing was, once we got to Kentucky, it looked like Kentucky. It was all green rolling hills and giant horse farms. There were surprisingly few horses at the farms, but there were a lot of fences. We eventually found a restaurant where we could order food to go, and then we made our way over to the state park, which is apparently the birthplace of vertebrate paleontology. We ate lunch there (I had a “steak sandwich” that ended up being an enormous burger that was twice the size of the bun), and then went to the gift shop, where Myriad bought a tiny plush bison and I bought a tiny plush mastadon that was holding onto a lollipop. I really wanted to go see the bison herd, which apparently had a baby bison … but it was getting late, and we still had a long way to go, and the construction and traffic had been bad.

Eventually we made it to my new house! Yay! My landlord and one of my roommates were already there. Neither of them looked like I had expected them to, but both looked like archaeologists. We signed the leases, got our keys, and then moved in all the stuff from the car. My roommate had an extra air mattress that she let Myriad and me sleep on, which was super nice. We went to Walmart, bought some sheets and some dinner, and then went back to the house to eat. Naturally, the water had not been turned on in the house yet, so we couldn’t actually use the toilets or anything like that. I ended up going to the gas station just to use their bathroom before I went to bed. By the time we went to bed, it was already 12:30 (which was 1:30 Eastern Time), and so I had been up for forever, and driving for most of it. I went right to sleep.

Haley was super happy, because she had both of her people with her. I was on one side, Myriad was on the other, Haley was in the middle, happy as can be to finally be out of the car and the carrier. And then the next morning, I dropped Myraid off at the train at 7:30 in the morning. So now Haley was really freaking out. She’s in a strange place, full of strange smells, new people are coming and going, Myriad was gone, the kitten wasn’t around to annoy her, and there was no furniture. I kept moving around the house, and she would follow me, always wanting to be in the same room as me, and crying whenever I disappeared.

Eventually I got some new furniture from my other roommate’s boyfriend, including a bed and two desks for me, a table, chairs, and an entertainment center for my roommate. Once I had my furniture, I could set up my room more. I also got a dresser from Goodwill, so I could put all my clothes away. Haley plopped herself down on the bed and basically never moved again, unless I disappeared from the room for a while.

Every now and then she will wander out and check out the rest of the house. She really likes my roommate B’s room, and loves to hang out in her closets (giant caves!!), and apparently took a nap with B’s boyfriend for a while. But for the most part she sits with me in my room.

My room is almost completely set up, I just need to get a couple more things, and then put up some posters.

I really don’t have anything to do today, except maybe clean out the office. Tomorrow I’m going to campus and going to get a student ID card, register with my department, maybe meet my advisor, etc. Today I’m going to sit around and do nothing, I think, made much easier by the addition of the internet. Eventually I may do something useful, like practice my Spanish, or read a book or something. Maybe. Meanwhile, here are some lovely photos!

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm  Comments (2)  

Things That I Hate

 Cars

 I hate cars. And not just in the “oh, I really don’t like having to drive for a long time at once,” but in the “I hate cars completely” kind of way. I don’t like driving. I don’t like riding. I don’t like being in cars for short distances, and I really don’t like being in cars for long distances. I find them boring, uncomfortable, and if I have to sit in the back I get carsick. And yet somehow I seemed to think that it would be a good idea to drive to Illinois. That’s only like … seventeen hours. Which, when you factor in driving around for an hour or so in order to find a place to stop for lunch, and then another half an hour trying to find the state park so that we can eat the lunch, really means that I was driving almost constantly for two days. And yet I survived. Somehow. Although the last half an hour almost killed me. My back decided to revolt and my neck and shoulders decided that they were tired of carrying my head and so they tried to give up as well, and then we ran into a 30mph zone and it took forfreakingever to get through the last couple of miles, but eventually we did make it. And then I had to run errands (in the car!) for the next two days. Now I’m going to avoid the car like the plague. Until I need to go to Walmart again.

 Over the counter medicines

 So, I am allergic to everything except guinea pigs and potatoes. And I’m pretty serious about that. I’m allergic to cats, dogs, birds, grass, weeds, deciduous trees, non-deciduous trees, molds, funguses, cockroaches, dust, yeast, milk, and wheat. Thankfully the yeast/milk/wheat allergies are just contact allergies, so technically if I eat some bread it should give me a stuffy nose. I haven’t actually noticed that, but the one time I made bread the yeast did make me start sneezing like crazy, so I believe that one.

When I got my allergy testing done, the nurse/doctor who was performing the test was surprised, like OHMYGOD surprised because of how much I reacted to all of the allergens. They do a little pinprick on your arm, right? And there’s a bunch of them. Well, the plain histamine pinprick went and took over the four neighboring ones it swelled up so much. So, clearly, I have some allergy problems.

 I’ve been taking a daily allergy medicine for a while now. I took something, I think it was Zyrtec, for a month, and that did nothing for my allergies. So then I switched to Allegra (generic brand of course) and that was much better. If I go on a cleaning rampage and start dusting and vacuuming, I need to either wear a face mask or die, and if I pet a lot of animals for a while that will set off my allergies, too, and then I have to take some Benadryl.

 So, naturally, Allegra is now an over-the-counter medicine. Which means that my insurance won’t cover it for me. Why should they? It’s over-the-counter!! So instead of paying $5 for a month supply of my meds, I now have to pay $15 for the generic brand (and almost twice as much if I wanted name-brand Allegra). Which sucks. I understand that if people don’t have insurance, and they needed allergy medicine, it would have been ridiculously expensive to get the Allegra. But there are other over-the-counter ones! So, I guess it’s good for all the other people without insurance, but it really sucks for me, because now I have to pay three times as much for my medicine.

 Heat / Humidity

 Ok, so these numbers aren’t really in any order. But I don’t like the heat or humidity. Summer is not the best time for me. I tend to hide in my house in front of a fan for the whole time. I still find it rather amazing that I survived a month in Belize last year. But I left NY to come so Southern Illinois, and it is SO MUCH HOTTER here. And the humidity is awful. We’ve got the AC on in the house, so it’s ok, but as soon as you go outside, it’s like walking into a sauna. Last night, it was so humid outside that our windows were fogging up. It was disgusting. And naturally my room is the warmest room of the house. Seriously, I’ve checked all the other rooms, and it’s a significant difference in temperature. I’ve currently got my overhead fan on and another fan aimed right at me. It’s not so bad today, but Friday, when I was moving in all of my furniture and rearranging my room, it was awful.

 One way streets.

 Ok, I have never lived in a city. And the places that I have lived have not had many one-way streets, if they ever had any. So I really don’t have much experience with them. So NATURALLY almost all of the streets here are one-way. And of course, equally naturally I’ve turned the wrong way on a one-way street twice. The first time there was no one around, and I noticed quickly and turned into a parking lot to get myself turned around. The second time, I almost turned right into traffic. They were stopped at a red light and honked at me, just once as a “wrong way, silly” kinda thing, but I got super flustered and then ran a red light and it was bad. I thought my GPS said turn here, but really it said turn there and I couldn’t tell and from now on I’m going to avoid driving at night because it’s much easier to see the one-way signs in the daytime. At least until I know where the hell I’m going around here. I’m super afraid that I’m going to turn the wrong way into traffic and get myself killed or total the car or something.

No internet

I am always online. Constantly. Like, if I’m at home, and I’m awake, then my computer is on. And then I got here, and we didn’t have the internet set up. Once a day I went to the library to try and check my email. And once when I got there they were already closed, and I had to call my sister and ask her to check my email for me. I was sooo bored. But then, today, I suddenly found an unsecured wireless network!! Thanks so much unsuspecting neighbors!! I swear it’s only for another week, until I get my own internet set up.

 I’m really bad at ending blogs. I feel like they should have a conclusion, like I’m writing an essay for school or something, but I can never figure out how to conclude it. So, uh … the end. 😀

Published in: on August 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm  Comments (1)