Friday, December 7, 2012

Smashing Pumpkins - Christmas Time

While I was out and about, I came upon this song playing in the store and used the Shazam app (one of my favorite apps! ) to figure out who was singing it. It's Christmas Time by the Smashing Pumpkins. As much as I enjoy the holiday spirit, I can hit Christmas Carol overload easily so it was a bit refreshing to hear a different tune:

Anybody got other holiday songs that are a bit off the grid?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Voodoo Girl

My friend Mike just released this song and video for Voodoo Girl:

It's a hypnotically ambient electro jazz tune. After reading the inspiration behind the song, I really dig the story of the violin in it.  (Side note: I'd like to think I've got the limber moves like the dancer in the video but sadly, I'm sure I do not.) 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dallas City Satchel

It's been while since I sewed anything, so, inspired by a friend's upcoming visit, I decided to tackle the City Satchel from Sew What! Bags: 18 Pattern-Free Projects by Lexie Barnes:

First of all, I highly recommend this book, especially beginners.  It's user-friendly with lots of diagrams and pictures with projects from "newbie" to "daredevil" levels (though I would say these levels would apply to someone who is very new to sewing).  It covers a lot of basic, fun, and useful bags and organizers.  And I really appreciate the spiral binding--so it lies flat when I'm working with it.

Even though this project was at the "daredevil" level, it was thankfully relatively easy to follow and sew together.  After cutting all the pieces and ironing interfacing to the pieces, I was able to sew it together in about 3 hours, which included an annoying thread tension snafu with the strap.  I had come across this Dallas Cowboys fabric at my local Joann's (which I'm dumbfounded that this is stocked here in South Carolina), which is perfect for my friend who is a lifelong Dallas fan.  Since it was a fairly light cotton, I chose to iron on heavyweight interfacing (Pellon 931TD) to give it a bit more strength and heft.   Since it was the first time I made it, I went with the measurements used in the book.  Since I had bought 2 yards of the fabric blind, I decided to use it all to make the bag (versus the contrast design with two fabrics), including using it for the interior lining.  It may have been a bit of Cowboys overload, but my friend appreciated it:

Regarding my stitching snafu--as I was edge-stitching on the strap, the threads kept getting tangled up.  For what it's worth, the edge-stitching was for decorative purposes rather than functional, but it was still so maddening and I just tried trimming most of the tangled knots away.  I fiddled a little with tension adjustment and I didn't have a problem with the rest of the bag.

I think if I make this bag again, I'd probably use the two contrasting fabrics (especially if I use novelty fabric like this).  And I'd try to use thicker material to begin with rather than iron on interfacing.  And I think I'd make the strap an inch less wide.  But overall, I was pleased with my first run--especially that I kept all the logos right side up on the flap and bag body!

Looking forward to making another one--

Friday, November 9, 2012

Almost the most wonderful time of the year at Target

I swung by Target to pick up a few things and couldn't help strolling by the Halloween Clearance section:

Big mistake. I got sucked in and started contemplating ideas for next year with stuff they had on sale:

In the end I got a lot of Halloween gummies and boxes--at siren-calling prices:

On the plus side, gummies make great packing material in a flat rate box!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

This year I was pretty unprepared for Halloween. I just got back from visiting my mom and sister in NJ/NY on Saturday and then Hurricane Sandy/Frankenstorm happened on Monday. We weren't affected except for some high winds, but my family and friends in the Northeast were definitely affected. Some were fine with power but fairly locked in because of mass transit shutdowns and others had no electricity, water, or cell service. Fortunately, they all survived without severe damage to their health, cars, or home, though they all knew someone or lived in a neighborhood where someone wasn't so lucky.

I was encouraged to hear that, despite this, there was still a strong desire to still celebrate Halloween. One friend said that not only was it community bonding during difficult times but it's also a pleasant distraction that's fun for the kids. Besides, he added, all the candy was bought a while ago (as a fellow mom, I totally relate to this as one who tends to be well-stocked for Halloween way before the event). This totally motivated me to put something together--Frankenstorm wasn't going to be the Grinch of Halloween, after all.

I went to Goodwill last night and spent $8 on these items:

with a goal to become the Sun Drop soda girl:

I didn't hold out too much hope that I'd find a blank green ringer tee, but I did find light and dark green t-shirts that I just layered.  I found the Sun Drop logo on the internet, printed it out on iron-on paper, and ironed it on the light green shirt.  I took scissors to the Mom Jeans, which I turned into the cutoffs.  I trimmed off the toes of the red socks to make into leg warmers.  For the red head band, I cut up the toddler tights and put a few stitches in to make a loop.  I had black tights and I just went with sneakers that I had with green trim and hope it wouldn't be a big deal not to have red sneakers.  Ta da!

Besides my annual trip to Starbucks for my favorite autumn drink--the pumpkin spice soy latte--I hit Earth Fare.  I had an impromptu conversation with a lady on vegan yogurts and she never mentioned my costume, which vaguely made me wonder if she thought I was dressed as I normally do.  Which is kind of awesome, right?

The topper was coming in 2nd place (to a killer Fierce Five 2012 USA women's gymnastics team) at the costume contest at work.

And I was able to squeeze in carving our traditional barfing Jack O'Lantern:

Hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Draw Something: Pop version

Still hooked on Draw Something.  Usually when one of the choices is a pop reference, I usually shy away from it and go for a broader word like "tow truck" or "thorn".  But every once in a while, if I think the person I'm drawing for is aware of the pop reference, I give it a go.








And some of my friends are pretty darn good at drawing pop references too:




Monday, September 10, 2012

Criminal Defense

Looking forward to watching the pilot episodes of a documentary series on the Nat Geo channel premiering tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/11) at 10pm and 10:30pm, Criminal Defense: And Justice For All.  The series follows public defenders from the Legal Aid office in Brooklyn as they represent clients who have been accused of various crimes.  A producer says this series is eye-opening and illustrates how important it is to have hard-working, dedicated public defenders in our justice system.

Which producer?  My old NYC roommate and longtime Freedom Cooler co-creator, Dan!

July 4, 1996

Can't wait to watch it!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The girl draws something

My daughter joined the Draw Something fray and this was her first drawing she sent me:

I loved the detail and all the work she put into it but had to laugh because my adult friends draw something more like this:

The word was "shrimp" BTW

I like to think I'm somewhere in-between:

But my friend was much more generous:

PS - Is everyone still watching the Olympics? Can't believe how fast it goes by.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Using Sketchbook MobileX to write & draw on phone pix

Since it's kind of fun to write and draw on phone pix, I thought it'd be handy to do a quick tutorial on using the (currently) free Sketchbook MobileX on the iPhone since it's not the most intuitive app if you're not used to drawing programs in general. BTW, though I use an iPhone, Sketchbook is also available for Android.

When you open up the app, you get this screen:

Yup, just a white screen with a little cog at the bottom.  Hit the cog and a palette of options will open up:

The writing/drawing tools (pencil, airbrush, brush) are circled in orange. The color wheel is circled in purple. The layers options is circled in blue. The black arrows are pointing to the Undo (red arrow) and Redo (green arrow) options. And the green arrow is pointing to the option when you want to export your pic to the photo library or start a new sketch.

To draw on a picture, hit the layers option, and you'll get this screen:

Hit the plus sign with the flower behind it to import a pic from your photo library:

 The pic should pull up in the Layer Editor.  Then hit the Back button at the top:

You'll have your pic on your "canvas":

Hit the little cog at the bottom to pull up your options:

Select a writing/drawing tool --it will highlight in blue as above (I selected the brush).  Hit the color wheel and pick a color:

Now you'll probably want to change the brush size (the default on mine was HUGE).  Put your finger in the center of the the center option that's labeled "Brush Properties" and slide horizontally to adjust brush size (sliding vertically adjusts opacity).

Hit the cog (to make the palette of options disappear) and start drawing/writing.  If you want to hit the Undo key, you'll have to hit the cog and pull up the palette of options.  BTW, hitting the eraser tool here will not just erase writing, it erases the picture--this eraser tool is more handy when you're doing multiple layers.   When you're done, hit the cog again and hit the "+" in the upper left corner to export your new pic to save it in the photo library.

Ta da!  This is the gist of drawing/writing on pictures with Sketchbook MobileX!  It may take a little trial and error the first time you're using this app, but it's pretty easy once you know how to pull stuff up and adjust color and size.  Play around with it--there's plenty more you can do with this app!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Drawing and writing on iPhone pics

Every once in a while I like to write on pictures on my iPhone. Like this pic could use a little direction or explanation, right?

For handwriting, I use Adobe Ideas (which was free when I got it last year). Drawing on a pic comes in handy when you want to highlight something:

But sometimes my handwriting (especially on a tiny iPhone screen) can be a bit lacking:

So I erase the handwriting, save the pic:

And open it in Phonto (which is currently still free) to add text:

It's kind of pain using two apps, but I love the selection of fonts and flexibility (in terms of sizing, color, and placement) of Phonto. It's really easy and intuitive to use and you can even upload your own fonts to it if you want. Plus it's hard to complain when both apps are free!

Unfortunately, Adobe decided to charge for Adobe Ideas now and I can't really recommend it simply for handwriting for $9.99.  But when it comes an app where you can draw and write on a picture, I've heard great things about SketchBook Mobile (which is currently $1.99) for where one can write on iPhone pix (and more).  I downloaded the (currently) free "lite" version, SketchBook MobileX, and it gets the job done for simply writing on a pix (though I'll say it wasn't the most intuitive when I wanted to re-size the brush):

If anyone can suggest any cool apps that one can both draw and add some excellent fonts, I'm all ears!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

I was excited to see Wes Anderson's latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom. The Royal Tenenbaums is one of my favorite movies.  But I think what I love overall about his movies is the art direction of them.  I love this color palette pic someone assembled:

I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom but I have to say the art direction trumped the story. It was a story of two young pre-teens who "run away" together on a New England island on a stormy night. I did enjoy the performances (especially Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton), but I really enjoyed the look and feel of the film. From the fabricated books and phonograph young Suzy carried around, to the scout camp setup, to Suzy's home, to the fantastic cast of the Noah's Ark play at the church, to the each character's style and makeup, the look was magical and mesmerizing to me.

I highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates unique art direction. Frankly I want to see it again so I can enjoy the it again--so imaginative and inspiring!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Me and You in Draw Something

Still enjoying Draw Something, especially when you get to personalize it. I love this one my friend did of me--I look way cooler in Draw Something than I do in real life:


Though it seems it's less flattering when I do myself:


Yeesh--not the most realistic self-portrait--I don't even have a blue bikini!


But I do enjoy personalizing it with other friends:




When responses are slow on my Draw Something queue, it's fun to get a little more elaborate and personalize these when you get an opportune word.  It makes it a little more fun and creative, right?