Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Very Minecrafty Halloween

RAAAAAAAA!  Boo!  For Halloween 2010, I was a Minecraft skeleton!  Madison was Steve, which is the unofficial name for the default player skin.  Minecraft is an amazing computer game that is kind of a combination of Legos and exploring - you literally mine things and then craft things in a randomly generated world.  At some point I will post pictures of the various things I have built in Minecraft, because I've been playing for over two years now and my world is pretty extensive.  But on to the costumes!  They were really easy to make - just some cardboard, duct tape, string, and a stick.
GRRR!  Wait, no - this is what a zombie does, not a skeleton!  Skeletons are archers!

What the who now?  What am I??!!?!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fun Birthday Cards

At a loss about what to do for someone's birthday?  Do you have a pile of old magazines sitting around?  Problem solved!  Spend some time flipping through the magazines and cutting out anything that strikes your fancy - I usually cut out things that I think are funny or just plain bizarre.  Then, once you've amassed a big enough stash, lay all the bits you've cut out on a big table (or some floor space) and try to find some sort of narrative you can piece together with the cut outs.  The result, I've found, is always pretty amusing (in large part because it's somewhat nonsensical, haha).  Here are three cards I've made doing this:

Jason's 21st Birthday Card

JASON, Here you are!  So grown up!  You've gone through all those Growing Pains, the teenage years Feeling the Pinch, Lost in Space, but you're here: The Next Frontier: 21!  You're almost ready to go out into the WORLD, make some [pic of coins]; do some Virtual Skulduggery with your Computing with Quantum Knots and all the other sweet computer science things you can do.  Things might get Tough, so here's some (rather random) advice:

Focus on the Future - but don't forget us, 'cause we love you; for your wanderings in girl-hood remember Brains Conquer Beauty, so From Brain to Heart should be your motto (though a little romance here and there probably doesn't hurt); SCIENCE is the catalyst/TECHNOLOGY is the application/BUISNESS is the opportunity, (whatever that means); be the forefront of the revolution, an Island of Resistance, resistance to the evils of the world, because you are Super!; always make sure you are Standing Up to Dance and Sing (I've seen the open-mic pics --> woot woot!);

have lots of fun with [pic of chimera?] on a Plane; read lots of cool books like Sex, Drugs, & DNA, Bones, Rocks, Stars, and Pleasurable Kingdom (so... educational? ...yummy...); And most importantly, NEVER FORGET THE QUEST!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  <3 Kelly.  P.S. I lost the game. =(

Ginelle's 20th Birthday Card


Learn the story behind history's most influential Cell (aka GINELLE).  Mother of All Cells, A cell of infinite possibilities, SO SMALL, GREW SO LARGE, Beyond the Standard Model, The Future of Humankind [pic of... an outdated lineage of bone marrow stem cells?  haha, this thing is wrong - adipocytes and osteoblasts come from mesenchymal stem cells, we know that now.  Oh, how far research comes in just a few years.] [pic of some cell-like beings running a firetruck?]

a fighter, REGULAR QUESTIONS ASKED: WHY SO SMART?  Why is she so attractive?  REGULAR OR PREMIUM?  Happy Birthday, Wonderful!  <3, Kelly

Mom's Birthday Card 2012


DISCOVER THE FOCAL POINT OF THE quest: In all Circles of Life Something extraordinary must have happened. Perhaps a fire? Or a flood? Whatever it was, A new kind of movement takes the quake out of earthquake.  Archaeologists uncover a remarkable time capsule of life - NELLY.  In the Zone, They'll Risk Everything TO PROVE THE GENIUS of the multi-tasker bibliophile word nerd prodigy.  With or without Veins Made of Cotton Candy, Researchers have already placed Mathematics in a Bottle.  You CAN'T REIN IN THEIR CREATIVITY TO FIT INSIDE SOME ARBITRARY BOX.  "I love the fact that we're doing real, potentially very important science on a shoestring," one researcher says.  "All with ANONYMOUS DONATIONS (HERE'S 2 BUCKS)."

"OH SAY, YOU CAN SEE!" another exlaims. "Nature uses only the largest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization o the entire tapestry!"  After a near mental breakdown, A vague, frustrating symptom gets a precise explanation with the new favorite equation: style + SCRABBLE = LOVE!  The quest is finished!  (It's our secret.)  C'mon, Get Happy!

NOW, some food for thought.  No matter what defines you... How far out of whack your life gets... always remember that I love you.  So GRIN AND DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, GAZE AT GORILLAS, Get Rich off the Weather, ~make the world a library~, Power Your House with Pond Scum... Just beware the joy OF COOKING.  You don't want to be Spiced to Death.  Nutmeg: Sure, it's delicious when sprinkled over eggnog, but in larger doses nutmeg can be deadly.  In fact, consuming more than one tablespoon can bring on hallucinations, thanks to the dangerous chemical myristicin.  But before you start experimenting with this gateway spice, be warned: The same amount can also cause vomiting, heart palpitations, and death.  =)  Good-bye!  LETTER FROM, KELLY.

As I said, the "stories" are somewhat nonsensical, but what else can you expect from random magazine clippings?  They make me laugh, and I hope they make others laugh, too.  It usually takes me 2-3 hours to make one of these cards, but I think they are worth it.  :)
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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


So, I started playing Dungeons and Dragons a couple months ago.  At first it was a little nerve-wracking - I kept thinking I would do something wrong.  A couple months and lots of fun later, I no longer care if my gnome isn't exactly "gnomey" enough.  After the first couple sessions, I used this Character Lifepath Generator to generate some background information, which I am slowly using to make my character more of a real person.  Mostly this post is to show you some cool pictures, though!  Read the text if you're interested in learning more about our adventures.

Above is some of my dice!  I got 16 dice for $4 by digging through the loose dice bowl at Vault of Midnight, a local gaming store.  I found an entire set of orange dice!  Orange is awesome, and I like them even more because they are thrifted.  :)  Below is my character sheet.  I am a gnome cleric named Kak Smykw Dobrrtin.  I am 3'9'' tall, and have a "pet barbarian" named Grnr who is almost twice my height - Dave's character (Grnr) is rather stupid (intelligence of 7!), and he listens to me and protects me from physical harm while I protect him from others who try to take advantage of him.  I'm up to level 4 now!  I get two level 2 spells and four level 1 spells a day, if I remember correctly.  

I take notes as we play, so I can remember what happened last when we meet up, as we only play once every week or two.

DeForest is our DM, or Dungeon Master, which means he has come up with the world and all the characters and plots in it that we will stumble upon.  He has entire notebooks full of information, and has spent a lot of time making beautiful maps.

This is the map of Dantredun, one of the main big cities in our area, that DeForest spent many hours making!  We haven't reached Dantredun yet.
Map of our corner of Blackmoor, the country we're in right now. DeForest made this, too.  If I remember correctly, each large hex is 30 miles across.

The last picture is a close-up of the last fight we had.  Five nasty undead creatures had been unleashed by an evil spell and are trying to kill us.  We had killed the person who set us up to be sacrifices to this spell earlier in the day, but the spell creatures still caught up to us once dark fell.  Since our fights often involve a lot of players, we use dice and various items to represent people and things so we can follow what is going on.

Our party is backed up against a rock bluff, represented by the two pens.  The big green d30 (30-sided die) is our wagon.  I am perched on top of the wagon (the little yellow d6).  I am small and easily harmed, so I generally try to stay further away from the monsters and use a combination of spells and my slingshot to do damage to enemies and to help my teammates.  Sometimes I kick ass with my slingshot, and other times I fail.  I was made of major fail during this fight, as the enemies all had really good armor (so I basically couldn't hit them unless I made AMAZING dice rolls, which I didn't), and all but one Cure Light Wounds spell had been drained earlier in the day, when we killed the caraven leader who was trying to get us killed.  (During that fight, we happened to light on fire the one thing that could have protected us from these evil creatures... oops.  At least our enemies couldn't use them now, either...)  So I mostly sat on top of the wagon and was useless, haha.

There were five bad guys, who thankfully only came at us one at a time (apparently they were skittish bad guys).  Grnr (Dave's barbarian), Pike, the half-orc with the caravan who warned us we were becoming spell fodder (he's a NPC - non-player character), and Andeli, another NPC nominally on our side, are out front battling the monsters.  Brown and Plaid are two other NPCs, who had great names that DeForest painstakingly chose, only to have us dub them Brown and Plaid based on descriptions of their clothes, haha.  I have no idea what their original names are.  They are also fighting the bad guys - wait, no, Plaid still is but Brown had been so badly injured that he crawled underneath the wagon (which is why the wagon is perched on top of his die in that wonderful oh-so-stable tower).  Wytt is Kelly's half-elf character (another Kelly, not me), and she's shooting her bow at the enemies.  The caravan's former slaves are holding torches - you can see safety pins on the table, which indicate to us where our torchlight reaches (bad guys beyond there are not attacking us).  Bad guy #2 is behind the wagon, and had landed on one of our three horses and was ripping it to shreds as the drovers (NPCs) tried to hold the other horses and not be eaten by the undead monster.  The number of pips on the dice show how many drovers there are (6 total).  

Paul wasn't able to make it this time we played, so his character, Noah, is "somewhere" in the fight, though he's not actually in it officially, hence the "Noah?" off to the side.  Noah is nicknamed "Saddle Man" by Grnr, as he carries a saddle around since he got robbed and his horse stolen (at least, that's what we think happened - Grnr and I met Noah as he was walking along the same road we were on 9 in-game days ago, before we were hired by this evil caravan to be guards, and he was carrying a saddle then).  Grnr, like I mentioned, is really stupid, so he generally uses descriptions as names - he still calls me "Short Man," even though he's known me for a long time.  I'm not sure he knows I'm not male - I seem to just be a gnome and therefore "other" to him.  Anyway, back to Noah - his saddle actually came in handy this day!  After we escaped from the evil caravan, we managed to round up three of the scattered horses.  Two of the horses were taken back by a couple drovers to get the wagon, and the other horse we put the saddle on so the former slave girls could take turns riding - they were not used to roughing it at all.  Good thing Noah has consistently carried that saddle around.  :)  And possible also a good thing that he wasn't there, as I'm not sure his character would have let us use the saddle if he'd been around to actually protest, haha.  (He's a rather mysterious and untrusting thief.)

The fight ended when we managed to kill two of the evil creatures, and they got scared off.  For all we know, though, they will be back to finish us off the next night, so we have to stay on guard.  I have a lot of comrades to try and heal in the morning, when my spells recharge.  Hopefully we live through the next fight...

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Good Food - Amazingly Delicious, Easy, and Quick!

Two amazing recipes I have to share!

First, I found this one this morning, and have now eaten it for both lunch and dinner.  It's a magnificent way to use up that bag of spinach that's about to go bad (or fresh or frozen spinach) in a delicious spinach sandwich.  It was a lot better than I was expecting, too.  I used mayo on the sandwich as I don't have vegenaise, and I omitted the onion powder as I don't have that.  My favorite thing?  It's quick.  It seriously takes maybe 10 minutes to make this delicious sandwich, which is also healthy.

Second is a recipe for beans!  It's also pretty quick - takes under a half hour to make a great dinner piece (and I usually have leftovers!).  It's called Quick and Easy Black Beans, and I've made it with black beans, great white northern beans (which are like navy beans, I believe), and pinto beans now, since I ran out of black beans and loved the recipe so much I just kept using it.  I don't have coriander, so I just add a little more cumin and oregano to make up for it.  I've also doubled the spices and added pre-cooked rice to it at the end, which I then rolled up in a lightly toasted soft tortilla for a delicious burrito.  And, being me, I add more onions and garlic than the recipe calls for.

...and I just used the word "delicious" way more than I should have.  Oh, well - my blog, my rules!  BwahahaHAHAHA!  *cough*  Righto, I'm calm now.
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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Old Art of Mine

So as I was organizing my photos tonight, I found a folder with pictures of a lot of my own artwork!  It was really awesome to see - some of these I did not even remember until I saw the photos.  So here's a trip down memory lane with some old artwork of mine from before college.  This post is really picture-heavy.

For many years, I was pretty horse-crazy.  Well, I still love horses, even if I don't get much contact with them anymore.  Throughout elementary and middle school I drew a lot of pictures of horses, and Mom kept most of them pinned to the fridge (and even got a few framed).  These are done either with a normal pencil (I'm assuming #2) or with charcoals (the darker images). 

Below are images I made for my parents - a Father's Day card and a card for Mom's birthday.

Love you, Papa!  I like this card a lot.
Aw, Mama's baby.  Just like me, haha.  This is Rocky, our Shih Tzu.  *hugs for Mom*
Speaking of Rocky, here's a statue I made in 8th grade.  Mom still has this at the cabin, right next to the birthday card above.
Yay, Rocky!  I still remember that twerp Jeremy coming over in art class and touching it, breaking pieces off even after I told people not to touch it.  Grr.  It was pretty delicate - you can see where some of the hairs have fallen off.  I think this is about 8-12 inches tall.
The next one is done with fine-tip markers - the only pointillism artwork I've ever done, I believe.  I think it turned out quite nicely for a little card.  It's a piece of paper tucked into a square of construction paper for the border.  Uncle Mike loves fishing.  :)

A little drawing of books.  It's framed next to a poem I wrote about books in 8th grade.  I think it's silly now, but Mom loves it and asked me to illustrate it.  She claims she still likes it. ^_^
Now, on to some of my paintings!  I swear I have images of more of them, but I can't seem to find them.  These are all done with acrylics on canvas.
One of my very first paintings!  (Well, that I actually tried on when I wasn't a small child.)  This was in 8th grade, I believe.  Just a bunch o' seals on some rocks.
This was done during my first painting class (9th grade).  Better than the seal painting! I wonder what Bill's up to nowadays.  He was an awesome art teacher - asked us to call him by his first name, had interesting ideas, pushed us... I liked him a lot.
This was actually on my bedroom wall in high school!  Mom decided that I could paint my bedroom if I wanted to.  I worked on this for a few months and then never finished it.  It was fun, though.  :)
This was the item I had completely forgotten about until I saw the photo.  I really like it, though - a painting of The Virgin Suicides' CD image that my brother asked for.  It's quite pretty.  Hope you're doing well, brother of mine!  Love you!
This is one of my favorite paintings - such a cute little kitten!  The main thing I don't like is that I didn't properly fuzzify (my blog - I can make up words if I want to :P) the edge on the top right-half edge of the kitten.  The head and butt look nicely fuzzy, but the top doesn't.  Meh.  It's still cute.
By the way... I might be getting a kitten in about 6 weeks!  Someone I know just had a litter of kittens, and I have my name on one of them.  I'm so excited.  Have to start collecting kitten things... any tips, kitten-having friends of mine?

*hugs the internet*  Ttfn, ~Kelly
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Christmas Gifts Made from Jeans

I mentioned in the Rag Rugs Post that I had used the other parts of the jeans for other projects.  I ended up using the bag of the waistline to make mug holders, the back pockets to make hot/cold packs, and the leg seam pieces to make trivets.  

The reason I had the seams left over was because one jean rug tutorial I had found online had told me to cut out the seams and not use them in the rugs.  I think if I do this again I won't bother doing that - I used some of the leftover seam pieces in the last big scrap rug I made, and that worked out fine.  *shrug*  That rug had all sorts of thicknesses in the pieces, though, so maybe it would matter in a jean rug with more uniform thickness.  As the jeans pieces usually ended up twisted and folded over, I don't think it would be much different if the seams were in some of the pieces.

Most of them!  I think I had 14 hot/cold packs in the end, and 8 mug holders.
I made 5 trivets out of the leg seam pieces.  They were made exactly the same as the rag rugs, only much smaller.  I apologize for the blurriness of my pictures - I can't go back and re-take them, as these are all given away!

Up close!
The mug holders were made by taking a Starbucks cardboard disposable holder and seeing that I could match up the curve of it roughly to the curve underneath the backside of the waistband.  I lined up the Starbucks template, cut the part out of the jeans (with extra room for overlap and folding under the rough edges), machine-sewed the edges under, and hand-sewed it together at the right amount of overlap.  I'm wearing one on my wrist below so you can kind of see what it's like.  I don't have the right size mug to try it on at home, so I didn't take a picture.  But I did try one, and they work!  I really like the belt loops that are on them - it's fun to put my fingers through them.  :)  And it's easy to clip this on your keys carabiner and take it with you, if that's how you like to roll.  Plus, they are more original and nifty than the original cardboard, they are better for the environment because they were recycled from old material and reusable, and they insulate the mug better.  I believe I made 8, since I had 8 pairs of jeans.  I like them.  I kept one for myself, heehee.

Mug holder!  Fashionable* wrist warmer!  So versatile!

Finally, I made hot/cold packs.  They are back pockets that had three lines sewn down them, stuffed with rice ~3/4 of the way, and then the top of sewn shut.  If you keep them in the freezer, they work as cold packs, and if you warm them in the microwave, they work as heat packs!  I only made them out of the back pockets that didn't have rivets in them (that would be bad in the microwave), so I made 14 of them (two of the pockets had rivets on them).  I also added nice loops so that you could pick it up from the microwave without hurting your fingers.

Front!  I love the neat designs the pockets lend to the packs.
Back!  You can still see the chalk I used to initially mark where I would sew.
I'm also making a patchwork skirt out of parts of these leftover jean scraps, but that's not finished.  Anyone have any ideas of what to do with all the neat short metal zippers I now have from the jeans zips?  Even better if you think of something that could use the original jean casing around them, so I don't have to seam-rip them out.  And if anyone wants a small bag (grocery plastic bag sized) of jean scraps - mostly the loose front pockets and bits of waistline with belt loops, along with some of the metal zippers - let me know!  I don't have any plans for them and would be fine giving them away. (If several people end up wanting these, I will use a random number picker on the internet to pick who gets them!)  I'm only willing to ship within the USA for this (and probably Canada?  I don't think it's much more expensive).
*This was not tested on the market to see if the term "fashionable" holds, but no one can prove that it's not. *shifty eyes*
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Oh, and some good news

For those friends/family that hadn't heard yet - I just got awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Program Fellowship (NSF Fellowship, for short).  I've been bouncing off the walls for days every time I think about it!  It's a three-year fellowship that is quite prestigious (shiny on my resume!), and I am ecstatic to no longer have to worry about funding for the next few years.  This should hopefully see me through the rest of my PhD, and I will (hopefully) never have to be a TA ever again.  Yay!  And it's only two weeks until the end of this stressful semester, when I can take a deep breath, say "good riddance" to classes, and happily start puttering around my lab again doing mad scientisty type things.  :)
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Hello World and Rag Rugs

Hello, world!  Let's see if I can figure out how this blogging thing works.  I did it years ago; surely I can figure it out now.  This post is going to be about the rag rugs I've created, because they are awesome, I'm sleepy, and that's what I want to talk about.

They are incredibly easy to make!  And they suck up all the old stuff in your scrap bin!  First, I heard about Eric making a woven rug out of old jeans, and I was mad jealous.  So when someone posted on Freecycle (kind of like Craigslist but it's all for free to cut down on waste) that they had a bunch of old flannel and jeans that were worn and ready for crafts, I jumped on it.  Unlike Eric, though, I didn't want to spend forever sewing the coils together, and I found these awesome tutorials online:

I'm not going to recap how to make them - just click on the first link and find out!  It's very nice. Really, the first link is all you need, but there are two of them if you like repetition.  So I made these two rugs out of the jeans that I got for free, plus an old pair of my own (~8 jeans in total, I believe).  I am far from a professional photographer (even if I live with someone who is, but he wasn't helping me, silly thing), and I took these on my kitchen floor.  The ones where I'm standing on them is to give you an idea of how big they are, and there's a close-up of the weave, too!

Rug Number 1
Rug Number 1 Again
Jeez, Rug #1 is getting all the photo love...
Rug #2!  Only one photo of this one.
Blurry Close Up!  Bwahahaha!  It will eat you!
Yay!  Jean rag rugs.  I'll post later some of the things I made from the other parts of the jeans - I made coffee mug holders, and cold/heat packs, and trivets, and I'm still working on a patchwork skirt from parts of the jeans.

The flannel shirts I got from the same Freecycle person?  Some of it was cute, and I remade one to fit me and remade two of them into a baby blanket (another post), but some of it was butt ugly - white with little flowers on it.  I tried to dye one of them blue (first time dying!) - it kind of worked.  So I decided to cut those up and make another rug, along with all the pink scraps from my scrap bin, because I also dislike pink.

Close up!
Further away!  You can see the pile of scraps as it's being made.
Pink and pastels... not my colors.  That's okay, though, because this already has another home it's going to with someone who likes them, once I get off my butt and finish it.  The problem with this one is that I still wasn't quite adept at figuring out how many extra rows to put on corners, and I overdid it - it takes some convincing to get it to lie flat.  I might have to pull it apart and start from near the beginning to finish this well.

I mentioned earlier that this is a great way to de-clutter your scrap bin.  IS IT EVER.  It takes even tiny pieces (all you need is a piece about 1 or 2 inches by 3 or 4 inches to make it worthwhile), and turns your entire scrap pile into a beautiful rug (with a much smaller pile of unusable scraps left over... save to stuff inside a homemade dressform?  I just threw them away :/).  I wanted to make a rug for myself, and I wanted my scrap bin to get much smaller, as I had been unable to close it for a while.

A lot of the scraps after I cut them up and put them into strips!  This takes quite a while, and is the most boring and least rewarding part of the process.  This is not all the scraps that went into this rug, either.  And look - you can use a mixture of thicknesses, from the thinnest scrap of knit fabric to heavy fleece and jean, and you'll still get a thick rug if you make sure to have thick pieces mixed in with thin throughout the entire rug.  This is why I have them organized, so I can try to balance them out for color and thickness as I make the rug.  Ooh!  And you can see DeForest's rug in the bottom corner - the green and red thing!
Ooo!  It's starting!
Picture of me making it.  I'm using my AWESOME lap desk that I found for $18 at a thrift store - it has legs that fold out and everything!  And you can see my overflowing scrap bin next to this project - think of how full it was before I took those scraps out (not to mention the scraps for DeForest's rug not really pictured here)... Later, I will make more of the bin into scraps for the rest of the rug.
Lookin' more like a rug now
Woo!  It looks like a swirling galaxy!  I was kind of worried it would end up butt ugly, but it's actually quite neat!
Nice big rug!  And I'm totally wearing DeForest's pajama pants in this picture.  I'm a pant thief.  :)
These rugs feel so amazing underneath your toes, because they are so thick and textured.  I also have another rug that I really like that I made for DeForest, but apparently I don't have any pictures of it yet besides the corner of it in a picture above.  If I remember, I'll throw up a picture later.

Alright, internet!  I'm signing off.  It's almost my bedtime.  :)

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