Monday, January 31, 2011

End of January Update

It's the last day of January and while I haven't finished reading "Eat Pray Love" I did finish the first story about Italy.  Woohoo!  So now the goal for February will be to finish the second story about India.  Reading is fun.

Rutty and I attended another Dr.Sketchy's tonight.  What?!  Life drawing twice in one month?!!!  Insane!  I'll post pictures of my horrible drawings later... maybe.  I discovered that not eating dinner + one alcoholic beverage + life drawing a woman wearing clown makeup = bad.  Friends should not let friends drink and draw.

Callio-Peacock.  Photo by the lovely Heather Renney.  
More photos from past Dr.Sketchy's events on her site.

I've lost 3 lbs since I started tracking my food/calorie intake, not that I'm on a mission to lose weight or anything.  I just want to eat crap less often and be a healthier version of myself.  Next month I will add exercise to the mix.  I'm organizing a Sun Run team at work so we have until April to train.

That's it... need to get back to the knitting of the viking hats.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Valentine Swap!

I'm discovering that preparing for Valentine's Day brings about the same level of anxiety as Christmas does and demands nearly the same amount of organization.  There are Etsy orders and Valentine's commissions to finish and Valentine's cards to make for Nugget's class.  Nugget is making the actual cards herself but I'm helping with one of the elements.  Because Nugget's Valentine's project can be done at the last minute, her stuff, unfortunately, gets bumped down to the bottom of the list.  
Sorry baby.

The projects that have to travel the furthest get first priority so I spent the afternoon putting my handmade Valentines together for the Valentine Swap I signed up for.  They need to be mailed next week in order to arrive to their designated recipients by February 14th.

I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do.  Last week I found this free pattern for crocheted hearts on Planet June, made a donation (because it's good to support fellow artists) and started crocheting some hearts.  I made three red ones and three in a dusty rose, embellished them with some buttons and sewed on a brooch pin backing on each one.  I knew I wanted to incorporate these in the Valentines but the rest of the card was up in the air.  

I have to admit, as much as I love paper and the idea of paper crafts, it's not one of my strong suits.  I wanted the cards to be colourful and aside from the heart brooches, I wanted to avoid the typical Valentine colours of pink and red.  And I wanted to avoid using glue.  I carried the button theme on the hearts to the cards with some button print ribbon and button shaped brads, put the Martha Stewart border punch that I bought at Christmas to use, warmed up my old ink jet printer and came up with this:

The small type says :  ... For you to keep and wear or give and share...

The mailing labels are ready, I just need to get some envelopes and then I'll be sending these babies off to some ladies in the States and one in the Netherlands.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chasing Amy in 60 Seconds: UPDATE!

It would appear it's update day on my blog.
Virgin Radio posted the Top 20 for the Fake Film Festival and... drum roll.... we didn't even place.  Not that we were expecting to, the fact that we made it in a weekend was very apparent.  I'm just stoked the guys on NewsAskew mentioned us on their site.  Read Rutty's post on the 'Making Of' and see a really good shot of my freakishly long middle finger.  You can also read his views on Community Voting.  He pretty much summed up how I felt about the whole rating/voting process for this contest.  I mean, come on... when a contest is determined by a vote, you only get one vote and there's no down-rating the other entries to improve the standing of another.  I hope they re-think the whole process for next time.    

Pay It Forward 2011: Carrots for Maggie... UPDATE!

I'm happy to report that my first Pay It Forward gift arrived safely. Success!  And then it was paid forward to someone else which is very very cool.  Here`s why...

Back when I first posted the carrots on Facebook, this thread of comments happened:

February 21, 2009 at 8:12pm

Mags: ‎ big are they? I think my grandmother would LOVE them.

Me: They're about 6.5" to 7". Will that satisfy your grandmother?
The one on the left is wearing a stupid party hat.

Mags: ..I think they are fantastic. Whatever size they are! (usually I am far more picky)

Me: If you want them, they're yours, Maggie.

Mags: You are a saint. You'll make an old lady very happy.. 

I seriously thought she was joking.  So I was pleasantly surprised to find this posted on my Facebook wall with the note below:

Gramma loved your carrots. She says you are a beautiful and even knitter, she's very impressed with your technique in adding the pirate patch and party hat. She's got a commission for you.

I heart this so much.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ranyl!

Today is my older brother's birthday. We missed his birthday dinner tonight because of our Strata AGM.  Bummer.  Anyway, I mentioned Ranyl back in August in this post when he was getting a lot of press for his XBox game, Codex.  Well now, Codex is being nominated for several Canadian Video Game Awards up against some pretty big titles.  They're currently working on an iPhone version of the game which I'm really excited about.  
This is his company site:  Good Guy Robots
This is an interview he just did with Tailgate 365.
This is my bro, computer nerd and awesome dad.

Pay It Forward 2011: Carrots for Maggie

I'm a little late posting this.  This was my first Handmade Pay It Forward gift that I mailed out last week.  Remember these guys? They were one of my first amigurumi projects and at the time I wasn't totally happy with them but they've since grown on me.  After I made them I posted them on Facebook and my friend Maggie said she wanted them.  The intent was to give them to her the next time I saw her but it didn't happen.  Fast forward almost two years later and Maggie was the first person to comment on my Handmade Pay It Forward status so it only made sense to finally send her the carrots.  I added a bonus Love brooch that I made from repurposed t-shirt material and grosgrain ribbon that I embroidered.  Four more to go!

Chasing Amy in 60 Seconds

My apologies for the shameless plug but my friends and I entered the Virgin Radio's Fake Film Festival Contest.  Our entry is Kevin Smith's classic "Chasing Amy" in 60 seconds.  If you have a moment please go to the Virgin Radio site here  and give us a rating to help us qualify for the top 20.  The rating/voting ends at 5PM Tuesday, January 25th.  So please register and give your (awesome) rating ASAP.

We really hate these popularity based voting contests but we did it for fun, sort of as a kick in the butt to get us (mostly Ellery and Kevin) to get some projects going... like old times.  If by some miracle we win the top prize, we said we'd pay it forward and donate it to Kevin Smith's favourite charity, The Wayne Foundation.  We even got mentioned on News Askew.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Schedules and Some Crap that Fell Out of My Brain.

I find myself referring back to my "More/Less List" more frequently now which is good, I think, because it means I'm actually trying to accomplish what I want to do.  I'm realizing there are a lot of things I'd like to fit into my day to day so I'm trying to organize my time and I've come up with a rough schedule, which now that I think about it, is kind of anal retentive.  What can I say, I'm a Production Manager by trade, schedules are kind of my thing.

I'm currently reading "Eat Pray Love" which is probably passe now that the movie is out on DVD and everyone and their mother read it like two years ago and OMG "you're just reading it now?!".... Yeah, yeah I am .  It's the first book I've read since last May when I read "Into the Wild" during our one week holiday in Mexico.  I read it in three days while lying on the beach and wished I had brought another book with me.  I've been reading "Eat Pray Love" since the beginning of this month when I declared that I was going to read more this year.  It's been weeks and I'm still not through the first section about Italy.  I'm really enjoying the book so in order to keep my goal to read more and ensure that I actually finish it, unlike Love in the Time of Cholera, I've decided that my lunch break at work is now reading time... but only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  This is where the whole scheduling thing comes into play.  Lunch breaks on Tuesdays and Thursdays is reserved for listening to Italian Language audio recordings.  

Yes, I'm listening to Italian lessons on my lunch breaks.  But no, not because I'm so inspired by this book I'm reading, though I'm finding many parrallels with myself and the author, maybe I'll elaborate on all that in another post.  My fascination with Italian goes way back... all the way back to elementary school, where two of my closest friends were Italian fraternal twins named Nick and Rita.  One of the first things they taught me was how to say 'fuck you' in Italian.  They had two gorgeous older sisters in high school and they all played soccer and their family grew tomatoes and beans in their backyard.  There was so much about the culture I really liked but I think a lot of it was because it had a lot of similarities to my own in terms of family and religion.  Food was something else altogether but that's a whole other blog post.
My first crush was on my brother's friend, Franky, when I was in grade 4.  He was Italian and he had pretty blue eyes.  My friend Samantha and I would take the long way to school in the morning and walk by his backyard.  One morning Samantha stole green beans from his garden and his mother saw us.  She yelled something to us as we took off running.  I remember being surprised that she spoke English without a trace of an Italian accent.  We never stalked him again.  

But the real fascination with Italian started when I was seven years old and my Tita Tess came to live with us after working in Italy as a nanny.  She brought with her a silver souvenir sculpture of the Vatican, a velvet wall hanging that said Firenze (Florence) that ended up hanging on my bedroom wall for years, and she gave me a pair of suede shoes in a chestnut brown that I thought were just amazing.  They had heels and were slippery and hurt like hell.  They were completely impractical and didn't go with anything a seven year old tomboy would wear but I didn't care, they were Italian shoes.  She also gave me 1000 lire that I carried around in my wallet with the intent of one day going to Italy to spend it.  But in order to do that, I knew I would have to learn to speak Italian.  I still have the 1000 lire even though it's worth nothing now.  It's one of my most cherished items.  

I remember Tita Tess' sister and niece came to visit from Italy.  They only spoke Italian and Tagalog, no English.  I was fascinated by how they spoke mixing Italian and Tagalog words in sentences like how my parents mixed English words into their sentences when they spoke Tagalog.  I thought it was cool.

This...I don't even know what to call it... love?  too strong... obsession?  way too strong... desire?  kind of....itch? hmm... sure, let's go with that.  This itch for Italian lay dormant for years and then a few years ago when I was working on Viva Pinata, my friend Rob started taking Italian lessons at UBC.  When he finished his class and decided he was going to seek adventure in foreign lands he gave me his old binder of notes and lessons.  I still have the binder but I've barely skimmed through it.  Then after Viva Pinata, someone on my Edgar and Ellen crew gave me a copy of Italian lessons by Michel Thomas.  I think the Universe was telling me I should learn this language but I only half-assed listened to the Universe, like in the annoying way my kid listens to me now.  I ripped the CD into my iTunes at work and let the lesson clips play at random mixed in with my regular music so I could listen to the lessons without fully committing to them.  This probably wasn't the best way to learn. It became this weird musical Russian Roulette where the empty barrel clicks were random songs and the bullet was an old guy schooling two English people in Italian.  The lessons would come up so unexpectedly sometimes it woud startle me.  I found it hilarious.  Then it got annoying.  Then it stopped.

Now, nearly five years later, Italian lessons come up again in this book that I'm reading, in conversation with Dan and Marc at work because Marc's taking Italian lessons and Dan is half Italian and likes talking about soccer and anything Italian, and then last Monday, Dan put the same Italian audio lessons by Michel Thomas in my Personal Folder at work.  This time I'll actually listen to the lessons in the order they were meant to be heard and see if anything sinks in.  It's not much but it's enough to satisfy my need to learn this language for now.  There are other creative needs to be met.

Back to me trying to schedule All Of The Things.  Ideally in this control freak schedule in my head, the hours between coming home from work and Nugget going to bed will consist of making dinner, eating dinner, helping with homework and catching up with Nugget on how her day went.  Knitting is now reserved for later in the evening while watching my crime drama-murder stories and snuggling with my doggy until Rutty gets back from the gym... he too, has goals to meet.  

This is as far as I got with my schedule.  I wanted to fit in some time to draw or paint or practice guitar but my brain hit its maximum capacity for crazy and I gave up trying to divide the hours in a day like a pie.  Mmmm... schedule pie.  There's a reason why I've been feeling so tired.  I like being busy but sometimes it's good to do nothing and sleep.  I should probably schedule that.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Two blog posts in a row... Huzzah!

Here's my Dr.Sketchy's update.  Last night was our (mine and Rutty's) first time at a Dr.Sketchy's Art Class and our first time doing life drawing in a very long time.  The most recent life drawing sketchbook I found was dated July 1998.  We were both incredibly rusty.  I was afraid of how badly I was going to suck and very much intimidated by the other artists partaking in the class, especially since Camilla D'Errico herself was going to be there.  I thought a few more of our friends would be there drawing but aside from the friends (Heddy, Pikey and Jenn Strom) who helped organize Dr.Sketchy's, we really didn't know anyone else there.  It was all good though.  The models were great.  They had on wigs and costumes and carried props that you would see in a Camilla D'Errico painting.  I was more accustomed to the fully naked life drawing we did back in Animation school where the figure isn't obstructed by clothing and you see EVERYTHING.  Drawing the clothing took a bit of getting used to.  The round of one minute poses, what Shary Contrary (the hostess of the event), called the "Cardio Round", was a bit stressful.  Here are a few of my sketches from the evening.  We definitely need to do this again.

1 Minute Poses....

5 Minute Pose...

15 Minute Poses...

And since Nugget was sad she couldn't come meet Camilla, we picked up a print and Camilla signed it just for her.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's the Happs?

I joined my first swap!  Lyndsey over at The Stationary Place is hosting a Valentine's Card Swap.  I thought I'd give it a shot.  I have some ideas floating around in my head that I'm excited to try out but first I have a few commissions and orders from my Etsy shop I need to finish up.  

Knitty Gritty
It's been a busy week as usual.  I finished one hockey helmet hat last week and I'm tying up the loose ends on one to ship to Ottawa tomorrow.  Then I have one more and I think I'm done.  I am so over making the hockey helmet hat... at least for now.  I had no idea they would be this popular.   

Last week I got commissioned to make a newborn baby nest and hat by Crystal, one of our animators at work.  It's for a photo shoot she's doing with a little one named Sebastian.  It looks like a giant hat with a wee little hat... but stick a baby in it and it makes a lot more sense.

Handmade Pay It Forward
Pay It Forward 2011 popped up on Facebook a few days ago.  I first spotted it on Steve's status.  He's a fellow artist I used to work with back in the old school traditional animation days.  He now resides in Budapest with his wife and son.  It was his commission for the baby Habs Hockey Helmet Hat that sparked all the other hockey hat commissions.

Anyway, the point of Pay It Forward 2011 is to send something handmade to the first five people to comment on your status and in turn they are to post the same Pay It Forward blurb on their status so that they send something handmade to five more people and so on.  And you have the whole year to send the handmade items to the five recipients.  Pretty cool idea.  I'll probably post each item before I send them out.  I'm prepping the first one tonight!

Health and Stuff
I've been making a concious effort to follow my list and so far I think I'm doing well.  We'll see how long the mojo lasts though.  I've been drinking a lot more water during the day which means more trips to the can at work, and since the women's washroom is downstairs, in turn I'm getting more exercise.  Going up and down stairs constitutes exercise, I'm sure.  Win Win!  I also downloaded the My Fitness Pal app that Rutty's been using for the last couple of weeks.  He's already lost five pounds and he hasn't been working out!  I had to try it. 

So what you do with this app is you put in your stats: age, height, weight, activity level, then you put in what your goal weight is and it calculates how many calories you should have a day in order to reach this goal weight.  It also tells you how much cholesterol, fat, sugar and nutrients you've consumed and gives you an over/under based on what your ideal amount should be.  You can also track how much water you drink a day...  All helpful things to know.

Things I've learned so far:
I eat way too many snacks for the sake of putting something yummy in my mouth.  Now that I have to keep track of what I'm eating I'm finding myself looking at tempting treats and asking myself "do I really need this?".  Most of the time the answer is No.

Unless I take a multivitamin, I don't get nearly as much Vitamin A, C, iron and calcium in my diet.

Walking for 40 minutes with the dog doesn't burn nearly as many calories as I thought it would.  I'm going to have to start running again.

Tonight is the Camilla D'Errico edition of Dr.Sketchy's.  This will be my first time at Dr. Sketchy's and my first time Life Drawing in YEARS.  Daunting?  Just a little.  Rutty, Nugget and I are big fans of Camilla D'Errico and we have several of her pieces in our place.  Nugget actually wanted to go but I think a nine year old is still a little young for drawing naked people.  In order for Rutty and I to attend, I texted Nana to arrange babysitting.  This was the convo:

Me:  Can you babysit Mika tomorrow night from 6-10pm please?  We want to go to life drawing class.

Nana:  Sure but what does it do 4 you?  Draw the life outta you?

Me: It's a class where we draw naked people... That's the 'life' part.

Nana:  Omgomgomg can Mika and I observe?  M or F?

Me: No kids.  Female model.

Nana:  Female:  Nah. Hehheh.

This afternoon I went digging around for my old art supplies and sketchbook that I bought two years ago when Rutty and I had this overly ambitious idea to do monthly sketchbook assignments.  The first month assignment was 'hands'.  That's as far as we got.  Here's a sample of some of my sketches.  They are mostly of my left hand:

My left hand holding an empty glass.  I suspect I got bored and gave up on all the detail of the reflections on the glass.  It sounds like something I would do.

A close up of my left hand intertwined with Rutty's hand.  How romantical.

This is the full page of the intertwined hand sketch with another sketch of my left hand.  This page got smudged to hell which makes the hands look diseased.

This was the Shocker page... two variations of the shocker, the Hawaiian Shocka below and the... umm...other one.  I must have run out of hand poses.

Other poses of my left hand.  I think I like this page the best.

I'm kind of afraid of what my sketches tonight will look like.  Will post those later.  Wish me luck with the drawing of the naked ladies with things on their heads.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The More / Less List

Here's my list for 2011.  Now with more 'more' and less 'less'.

Drink more water.
Get more excercise.
Get more sleep.
Read more.
Sew more.
Cook more meals.
Be more patient.
Draw and paint more.
Write more.
Make more stuff!

Eat out less often.
Waste less.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Oh Hi, 2011!

Good grief, where did December go?  You'll have to read my partner in crime's blog  to get an idea.

But here's a round up of some stuff I made during the holidays...

I made some hats...

A Boob Hat. This was a special request from Ellery's dad. He said it's for work.

A Jets Hockey Helmet hat commissioned by a former co-worker, a Christmas present for his nephew.

A Sens Hockey Helmet Hat commissioned by a friend in Ottawa.

I made a couple of dolls...

Baby Snake Eyes. This was a special request from Ellery as a gift for a childhood friend who was a GI Joe fan.

A doll for Jordan, Ellery's niece, for Christmas.

I made some things to keep necks cozy...

I made some things to keep fingers warm...

I baked cookies!  This is probably the first Christmas that I've actually done this.

And we decorated Gingerbread Houses at 3AM on Christmas Eve.

We had a great Christmas break. New Year's was a little more subdued with pizza, watching Labyrinth and Scott Pilgrim at home with Nugget, Rutty, Uncle Kevin and Mossy.  It was the perfect end to 2010.  
Back to the grind on Monday... and more knitting... and hopefully more sewing.  
2011... Bring it!