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11th November 2012

11:59am: fanart, the next generation, continued
Remember back in June when I posted Isabel's first Totoro drawings? Well, after we gave the book back to the library, she moved on to other subjects, but for her birthday (4!!!! seriously?) I got her her own copy, and she's back at it:

Here's Big Totoro, medium Totoro, and little Totoro, along with Mei and a few other assorted people (plus you can sort of see the cat bus she drew on the other side of the paper):


And here's Mei lying on top of Big Totoro's stomach:


Gosh, I wish my artistic abilities would improve that much every 5 months!

3rd November 2012

7:29pm: My master muffin recipe, in a web form
I know, I know, I never post anymore. But suddenly I realized I have been up to something some of you might be interested in, so I present:

The Muffinator.

Basically I took the base muffin recipe that I've been using for years and turned it into a web form allowing you to generate (get it, Muffin(gener)ator? okay, a little weak, but I still like it!) a custom recipe based on what version you want to make today. Also you can do do a test batch, then come back to a bookmark of your settings and up the quantity to make it in quantity without any of that pesky math.

Since I launched it a few weeks ago, every time I make a new batch of something, I take a picture and upload it to flickr.

(more info here along with the cool flash-based photo album that livejournal is not letting me put here where I wanted it)

So, if you're interested, have a look. I'm calling it "beta" because I haven't gotten any feedback but my own as to how well the code is behaving, but I think it's pretty much there.

15th June 2012

8:50pm: fanart!
Looks like I'm passing the fanart mantle over to the next generation a little sooner than I'd anticipated. Behold, baby's first fanart:



You can totally tell it's Little Totoro, right?



There's also this:



A faithful rendering of Mei's fall into the hole in the tree where Big Totoro is sleeping. That's Mei, in blue, with the 4 eyes (which I'm told are actually 2 eyes, a nose and a mouth). And see the little green person falling with Mei? That's, and I quote, "Mei's little sister, Tata". I guess Isabel's a little young to know her name should be "Mary Sue", give her time.

Note that she has not actually SEEN this movie, because she has been refusing to watch any TV for about a year now. But we did get the manga version from the library (volume 2 only, because apparantly when you put manga on hold, they just pick a volume to send you at random), and all of a sudden, her first art that looks like something other than a scribble, and it's fanart. Doing her mama proud!

1st November 2011

9:07pm: Project update
A few projects from my new(ish) crafty site:

Owl Kite
Print yourself a
paper kite and be out flying in no time.
Friendly Bat Kite
Print a
small paper kite, perfect for small children and Halloween treats.
Paper Airplane Kite
A
simple folded paper plane with a bit of string becomes a small kite for
little hands.
 
Crockpot Refried
Beans

Reach for your crockpot and some dried beans rather than your
can-opener the next time you're in the mood for some delicious and
inexpensive refried beans.
Cranberry Sugar
Cookies

Craggy and delicious, simple and unfussy
Clipart Animal
Stickers

Churn out a bumper crop of sticker strips for your next
kiddie give-away using inexpensive printable address labels.
Animal Shadow Makers
Make
6 quick shadow toys out of cardboard.
Miss Mouse & Miss
Kitty

Girly dresses and animal ears, a winning combination in small
rag dolls.
Converting jeans to skinny
jeans

Grab a pair of jeans from the depths of your closet or a
thrift store and make yourself a new pair of skinny jeans.
3 Hens in a Basket
3
little fleece hens snuggle in a nest.

21st August 2011

7:49pm: dabbletree.vrya.net now officially open for business
I have reinvented my website: Dabbletree. The Buffy Dialogue Database and my fanart/vid site are still there for those in the know, but I'm not linking to them from the domain anymore or adding to them. I've been working hard the last few months to try to get a good base of material up, and of course I'll keep adding as fast as I can. A representative sampling of what's there so far:

Low-key Pizza Low-Key Pizza: Homemade pizza, from scratch, but with a laid-back attitude. A fabulous crisp crust without the stand-mixers, food-processers, hand-kneading, pizza stones, pizza peels, or lengthy preheat times. A bowl, an aluminum pan and some patience is all you need. Other dinner ideas: Chili-mac casserole, Potato/Beef/Veggie casserole, Cast-iron frying pan split chicken breast.

Magic Bread BoxMagic Bread Box Bake yeast bread on any busy day of the week with a bit of dough from your Magic Bread Box. Or wow your next potluck with potato focaccia or brunch with sweet potato waffles.

Colorful CatsColorful Cats Paper Finger Puppets. Great for imaginative play, counting, color identification or just arranging in a line. Also Cat Stickers and Animal Shadow Makers, Butterfly Beads, Butterfly Kite.

Baby CardyKnit Baby Cardigan Knit an adorable little sweater for the newest baby in your world. Top down, with a charted lattice pattern. Or crochet your very own Squeato the Mouse .

Baby CardyFairy Rag Dolls Turn a few scraps into a charming set of fairy dolls. Or a Cozy Little Penguin or a Soft Little Duck.

quilt Storm at Night Quilt An eye-catching twist on the traditional Storm-at-Sea pattern. Or try Square Panel Quilt. Or use the Quilt Calculator to plan your own quilt.

quiltDraw Inkscape patterns Learn to draw patterns (or anything, really) with Inkscape, a free vector based drawing program or make collages with Picasa, another free program you should have! There's also my book on Photoshop Masks, an expansion on one of my more popular tutorials from back in the day.

This is a commercial venture in that this is my first site ever with advertising, and there are a few things for sale, too. Much as I was reluctant to sell out, it was necessary. Plus it's great motivation to keep the projects coming. It's going slower than I had hoped with just an hour or so of computer time a day, but at least I feel like I'm making some progress and I've still got a whole ton of ideas for articles.

7th May 2011

2:53pm: In honor of mother's day, I bought 1 very mom-ish one-piece bathing suit. And 3 bikini tops with "wardrobe failure!" written all over them. Or possibly "sun burn city!" Now if we could actually get some warm weather sometime this decade, we will see which I will actually decide to wear in public...

5th May 2011

8:43pm: Garden 2011
It's not much, but it's a start:



This month's natural gas bill contained the interesting tidbit of information that April 2011's average temperature was 7 degrees colder than last year's April, which I had suspected. Everything's a bit behind. But it's coming up! The chives as usual are my front runners, with a fair number of buds already. The creeping thyme already looks amazing. I thought the oregano and strawberries were gonners, but they are edging back. Not as nicely as the ones I've seen in other inground gardens in the neighborhood, but I'll take what I can get up here. I wasn't expecting to see the agastache back after the mint (mint! I thought you could not kill that stuff!) didn't make it through last year, but it's sprouting nicely. As are most of the seeds I planted in my winter-sowing experiment and a host of candytuft volunteers. I've got a tray full of seedlings under lights inside and several windowsills full of mangy over-wintered plants that are only just finally starting to look a little less mangy, so the weather outside can not get warmer soon enough! Now let's hope it can all survive a little over-enthusiastic watering from a 2 year old...

1st May 2011

1:50pm: Isabel flying her first kite

Isabel flying her first kite, originally uploaded by VictoriaV.

If you are ever looking to fly a kite with a toddler, I can now heartily recommend the Bumble Bee design, which is made with a sheet of a paper. Add 20-30 feet of floss and a few staples, and you are all set!

28th February 2011

8:24pm: Summer Bulb Timing
Google fu is failing me! I've been all over the internet trying to figure out exactly what is meant when you are instructed to plant a summer bulb in "spring". Late spring, after the last frost date? Which here in Chicago might as well be called early summer? Or much earlier, when you start seeing crocuses and it still might snow? Somewhere in between?

I was really hoping I could find some sort of marker, either temperatures or an idea of what else will be going on in the plant world at the appropriate time. Or maybe it doesn't matter that much? I'm trying to decide whether to wait to plant my ismene and sparaxis bulbs outdoors or whether I should go ahead and do so indoors now or maybe wait a little longer, say, 6 weeks before the last frost date. I never seem to have much luck with bulbs. It seems like it should be easy, but somehow something always goes wrong.

Maybe I'll just have to be scientific. Plant some now, wait a bit, plant some more later, do some inside, some out and just observe what happens. But it irks me that I can't find a straight-forward answer to what seems to be a basic question after a half hour of search. Surely there was something more productive I could have been doing with this time!

13th February 2011

8:22pm: Gardening Notes: Indoor Seed Starting

I can't believe it's almost time to start planting indoors again. Seems like
a good time to look back at last year's methods and make a few plans for this
year.



My big innovation last year was a jury-rigged heat mat.  moreCollapse )

12th February 2011

4:57pm: Squeato

Note to self: never casually make a toy for a toddler without a pattern before or notes after. Because of all the things you make for her, it will turn out to be the ONE.



Poor Squeato. He's been through a lot in his 10 months of life. It's not so much the increasing rattiness that bothers me as the terrible thought that he might meet with an unfortunate accident or disappearance. We're going on a trip next month, and the possibility of tragedy increases dramatically. So I set out to clone him.

Turns out it is not easy to count matted and stretched stitches. Not easy at all. And of course every step of the way, you have to figure out how much of the shaping was in the original, and how much has been manufactured by much determined toddler stretching, pulling, and smushing. And should I go be going for the original, or replicating the current shape?



So Squeato II is not quite right.



I think he's almost certainly a little too big. I think there's going to be a Squeato III. And he can keep II company in a drawer (and later, a suitcase!) just in case. They may never get played with. But I will breathe easier if I at least have a chance at selling "Oh, Squeato took a bath, and now look how clean he is! That was some bath, huh?"

11th February 2011

7:09am: craftiness
A few weeks ago, a friend introduced me to
oneprettything.com. I don't know whether to thank her or shake my fist angrily, because wow. This site is seriously dangerous to someone like me who never met a craft she didn't want to try. So far I seem to be spending more time obsessively saving links to projects to try in the near future than actually crafting. Yay? But I suspect this is only temperorary, because I have now finished a round of baby-shower projects and only have a few more Isabel pre-trip projects to get through this month. And then, who knows? Anyway, I thought I'd share the link in case anyone else is looking to kill a lot of time...

7th February 2011

7:16am: On last night's events
I think Isabel summed it up best: "You ate all the superbowl!"

And then we put her to bed at half-time, and, well, there were no more snacks and no more stomach room to put them anyway, so we didn't get around to going back and watching until the last 2 minutes. The commercials are fun, but really, it's all about the snacks...

1st February 2011

8:16pm: Garden Notes: Garlic Chives


Heady with the success of my first over-wintering of regular chives the
previous spring, I planted garlic chives in the summer (2009) that overwintered
and bloomed this summer. The show was not spectacular, just a half dozen pretty
little flower heads nodding in near isolation, but hopefully when they are a
little older they will look more like the established clumps I've seen.


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28th January 2011

7:04am: Garden Notes: Agastache


Agastache (labelled "Korean Hyssop" on the seed packet) was another new plant
for me this year. I'll tell you this: this is a toddler-approved and
toddler-tough plant. Not only did Isabel love saying "agastache" (once she
finally decided to start talking, anyway!) she adored batting the flower heads
around. Which I did not mind, because (A) they could take it and (B) her hands
always smelled delishiously minty afterwards.
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27th January 2011

7:05am: Gardening Notes: Basil


The older I get, the more I enjoy cooking, and the more I like to experiment
and learn new things. One thing I'm interested in doing more of is working with
fresh herbs, but if herb plants are going to insist on being as pretty as my
basil was this year, that's going to have to wait until I have room for more
than a few pot-fulls! I could never convince myself to harvest more than a few
little stalks here and there, and I certainly didn't want to stop them from
going into flower!

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24th January 2011

8:18pm: Garden Notes: Lobelia


I am a big fan of annual lobelia.  Last season was my 2nd year growing
them, and I would be surprised if there's ever a year I decide to take a
pass.  Such a great filler plant. This variety is Crystal Palace.  I'd like to try some other
colors just for variety, but I really love this intense blue. 


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20th January 2011

8:10pm: Gardening Notes: Alternanthera (ficoidea?)



 

I'm afraid I shamefully stole this plant.  2 years ago, the fall frost was coming, and there was this gorgeous red-leafed plant in the planter outside our condo building, and I did not in fact bother asking the condo president if it was okay to take a little cutting from the back of all this lush foliage before I did it.  So I don't actually know what kind of alternanthera it is, though it really looks like ficoidea "red threads" to me. 
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18th January 2011

8:22pm: Gardening Notes: Annual Candytuft

Candytuft was a new plant for me this year. Every description I’d read said “Easy to Grow!” and “May Be Started Indoors!” They failed to mention that those two statements, though they might well be true individually, where NOT true in tandem.



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15th January 2011

2:44pm: and while we're blathering on about gardening...

Now here's a level organization I can respect, if not emulate. Talk to me again when I have an inground garden to work with, though...

2:36pm: Gardening Notes:



Behold, the humble marigold! As you might expect, I had no problems growing these little 10 inch dwarf marigolds from the 4/$1 seeds at Dollar Tree. They sprung right up and dutifully started pumping out yellow flowers 2 months from planting and kept right at it until the cold got to be too much for them.

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2:01pm: Gardening Notes: Hyacinth Bean



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13th January 2011

7:53pm: Gardening Journal 2010: Morning Glories

Next up: Morning Glories, Heavenly Blue



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12th January 2011

8:34pm: Plant journal

I had every intention of journalling up my spring gardening experiences this summer before all the details dribbled out of my brain, in the hopes of incorporating what I learned into the next round. Today I received my first spring seed catalog in the mail and realized that, uh-oh, it's now or never! So I'm going to try to do a little bit every few days here on LJ, in attempt to summon up some motivation.

A brief summary: I garden on a 3rd floor balcony, eastern exposure, in zone 5. Since it's so high up and exposed, I suspect it's more like zone 4, at least in winter. This year I grew everything from seed, except for a few plants overwintered outdoors and a few cuttings overwintered indoors.

Today, we are starting with: Dwarf Morning Glory (Convolvulus Tricolor, Blue Enchantment)



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1st January 2011

7:52pm: misc craftiness and photos

Happy Holidays! In honor of the occasion, here are some pictures of a toddler who miraculously stood still, and somewhat in the vicinity of our tree, long enough for me to get some semi-festive pictures. What were the odds?

more crafty picsCollapse )

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