Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Opportunity Knocks: Liger Girl

Zane and I were recently in a variety show. Our number required slides for the lyrics to be shown while we sang. I was trying to find someone to run slides for us, so I asked one of the high schoolers. He responded that he would if I drew him a picture of a liger. Somehow through a series of jokes about Napoleon Dynamite, the stakes were raised to a picture of a liger with a woman's head.

How many times in life you do get commissioned to draw a liger with a woman's head? Like once, maybe, if you're lucky (Thanks, Tim!).

I took my commission very seriously. The result:

Yes, I admit it, I'm proud of my Liger-Girl.

While drawing it, I said to Zane, "This is the strangest thing I've ever drawn." Then he reminded me of Dragon Coffee Date, which is hanging in the office.

Touche, Zane.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

We Didn't Start The Fire Parody

You guys know my love of song parodies. I've always got a few in the works. Sunday night was my first time performing an original parody in front of a live audience. It was for our church's annual variety show (which was a fantastic show all around, by the way).

Lydia and I wrote the lyrics in June before we went to NYC. I've been sitting on the song for a couple months, trying desperately to keep it a secret for the variety show.

Here's our group. Thanks, Sonja and Danny, for singing back-up with Zane!
"We're number 11!" 

Here's the video of us singing it at the variety show (thanks, Kelly, for recording this!).

In case you're completely confused by the lyrics, they're all references to people, events and things in the Bible. I tried to find the most obscure yet recognizable references possible. The only part I wanted to include but didn't was "David and the 1000 foreskins." It didn't fit with the rhythm, and I didn't want to offend any parents of little ones. But that would have been epic.

Here are the lyrics written out for your theological song parody enjoyment:

~

Acacia wood, gopher wood, Levites start the Priesthood
Jeremiah, Pharaoh, Jezebel, Abednego

Lot’s daughters, Lot’s wife, everyone in Lot’s life
Ten plagues, flooded globe, Joseph’s colored robe

Darius, Belshazar, King Nebuchadnezzar
Gabriel’s freakish news, Solomon has got the blues

Fiery furnace, leprosy, den of lions, storm at sea
Salt pillar, crucify, several ways that you can die

CHORUS
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

John’s head on a dish, Jonah’s swallowed by a fish
Goliath falls from a sling, lefty kills fat king

Youth eaten by a bear, Delilah cuts Samson’s hair
Stephen dies by stoning, forty years of wandering

Abram, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob’s renamed Israel
Ananaias and Sapphira, David kills Uriah

Tent spike through head, Lazarus raised from dead
Boaz, Hezekiah, Herod, Barnabus, Benaiah

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Noah’s Ark, David’s harp, Babel fail from the start
Gideon, 300 men, jars of clay help him win

Canaanite, Amalekite, Moabite, Ammonite, 
Paul gets a snake bite, Esau sells his birthright

Holy Ark of Covenant, creation of the firmament, 
Hosea weds prostitute, Bathsheba on a roof

Golden calf, Sarah’s laugh, Red Sea, dry path
Caleb offers daughter, Peter walks on water

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Hannah, Dinah, Judah, Ninevah,
Rachel wins Jacob’s heart, lion’s jaw torn apart

Gideon’s wet fleece, Xerxes ditches Vashtii,
Ruth, Job, Jericho, Zacchaeus gives his dough

Swallowed up by a hole, bronze snake on a pole,
Quail, manna for the day, what else do I have to say!

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Came to earth, virgin birth, precious gifts to show His worth 
Son of Man has no digs, lack of figs, demon pigs

Five loaves, two fish, wine at Cana is delish
Blind see, lame walk, sins forgiven, mute talk

Speaks through parables, overturns the tables,
Thirty silver to Judas, hand Him over with a kiss,

Jews deny, corruptly tried, nailed to cross, crucified
Died, buried, raised again, ascended into Heaven!

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning.
We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it 


~

I'd like to send out a special thanks to Billy Joel for writing such an epic song for me to parody. You can find his original song and music video here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Into the Wild

I haven't written about non-fiction yet. That's because most non-fiction doesn't stick with me. I'm a novel kind of girl and good stories are what stick with me the most. Occasionally, non-fiction and good story converge into one. That's how it is with Into The Wild, the biography of Chris McCandless, written by John Krakauer.

It's the story of young adult Chris, who upon graduation from college, sold all his stuff and drove out west on an adventure. His family didn't know where he was until a few years later, when his body was found in the Alaskan wilderness.

Sounds gruesome, right? It kind of is. It's also exciting.

The movie version of his story came out in 2007. I haven't seen it, so I don't know how Chris was portrayed. Krakauer writes about him as if he's a kid trying to escape his old life of fortune and entitlement. I've heard others call him just plain stupid. You'll have to decide for yourself.

Krakauer followed Chris' footsteps to piece together those missing years. He also mixes in the stories of other adventurers who left society and ventured into the Alaskan bush, including his own story of survival.

It's an interesting read. I spent much of the time with mixed feelings of worry and admiration. If you can handle the horror of people dying in the wilderness, then I recommend it.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Repurposed Puzzle Box!

Remember my repurposed wall art from last Friday? I've been looking at that "K" in my living room all week, thinking it just didn't look right. It needed something. I switched my other wall art back to the living room, and decided to make companions. K and friends were just meant to be in the entry way.

Another no-sew project!

I pulled this puzzle box out of the closet. The puzzle is displayed in the guest bedroom. The box is so nice that I didn't want to throw it away, so I've been hanging onto it waiting for a moment like today.

Cinderella's Grand Arrival

I basically wrapped them like presents, only I used fabric instead of wrapping paper.
This is cut from the same fabric from which I made the K piece. 

It was one of those already cut pieces that are in a bin all wrapped and priced. Four bucks for less than a yard. I've found better deals, but it's pretty good for cute fabric that's been used for three wall hangings.

I glued down the first edge. 

Then I realized I hadn't ironed it. Oops!

I kept it as tight as possible around every edge. 

I found that it was good to press this before gluing it. 

The first box I just glued the tip of the triangle, but on the second I glued the triangle edges too. I recommend the second method. 

I didn't have anymore blue lace. I wanted the K to stand out, so I went with brown ribbon for our initials. 

Kind of dark, but here it is on our wall. 

I laid some flowers up there, but I'm not crazy about the look. Whatever I put there has to be unbreakable because there's a tile floor beneath. I'll stare at it for a few days and see if anything comes to mind. 

Do you guys have suggestions? 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Art Fail

I hear a lot of talk about blog-induced depression. I know what it's like to read blog posts by amazing women who seem to have it all together, from home decor to gourmet cooking to building tables from bed frames. Let not my blog be that to thee lest I show you my dirty floors and dinner menu (if we had cereal for breakfast, we can have eggs for dinner).

Sometimes my projects come out great! I usually show you those. Other times...not so much. Like this one.

One time I thought it would be a good idea to paint this on a canvas:
Oxford, England from that same trip in 2005 that I keep blogging about.

One major problem: I hate drawing, painting, reproducing architecture in art. Not my strong suit! What's with the wrought iron fences in the foreground and background?! I can't paint straight lines! What was I thinking?

I started painting Alyssa in the corner of the canvas and had such a hard time with skin tone, that I almost threw out the whole project. I wasn't excited about the boring background, so I gave up on painting it from the picture. I decided to take it in a different direction... 

...by adding a dragon. 

It seemed like the right decision. I painted them having a coffee date, naturally. Then I thought, "What will I do with this background? I hate painting architecture." So I painted a colorful sky. But that was too boring, so I added hot air balloons. 

That's how it ended up like this:

I call it, "Dragon Coffee Date"

I know you want to ask, "What the heck?" but I already explained it to you. 

I told this story to a friend of mine a few weeks ago. We laughed and laughed, and then she said, "You should hang it up in your house!"

So I did. In the back bedroom that we use as an office/craft room.

It's been hiding in the closet for years. I thought about doing another canvas upgrade like I did with my fabulous painting, so I was looking for something to use and came across this. I couldn't cover it, Dragon Coffee Date is just too funny to cover up. I laugh every time I look at it.

I hope this inspires you to reach new heights with your art and home decor skills.

P.S. I also painted that using different paints: half acrylic and half oil. Can you tell which parts are painted with which paint?

P.P.S. I believe this painting was what awakened my Pete's Dragon obsession, which I forced upon all my friends at my joint birthday party that year:

That's an Elliot pinata.

See?

Please note that inviting your friends to a party and forcing them to watch a strange movie from your childhood doesn't always go over well. At least we had a pinata!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Squashed Dreams

The other day some friends and I were talking about how we didn't have to worry about real-life cares when we were teenagers, but the things that did concern us were monumental in our teenage lives. I immediately thought of this story:

When I was a little girl, I remember going to my school's homecoming game and seeing the beautiful high school girls on homecoming court. I thought to myself, "I'm going to be homecoming queen one day."

Flash forward many years. 

As a sophomore in high school, I was voted onto homecoming court. I really wanted to be voted on court (thanks, class!), but I didn't want to have a hand in it, so I prayed that if God wanted me to be on court, then I'd get voted without voting for myself (thanks, God!). 
A picture of the yearbook page.

Two more years pass. 

Senior year voting day: I thought, "Since it worked so well last time, I'll just do it again, 'Dear God, if you want me on court, then I'll get voted without voting for myself.'"

You know those times when God says no? Yeah...

I was completely devastated. The court was announced at lunch time, and in the afternoon I discovered (for better or worse) that I was one vote away. Somehow I managed to hold it together through the rest of the school day and my after school job. When I got in my car at 6:00pm, the tears rolled. 

God didn't want me to be homecoming queeeeeeeeeen!!!!!!

My dad was home when I got home. Noticing that something wasn't right, he said, "What's wrong?" 

"I (sobs) didn't get (sobs) voted (sobs) on homecoming court (sobs)!"

He drew me into a hug and said, "I'm sorry." 

Looking back, I think I would have looked at my teenage self and said, "Seriously? That's what your crying about?" I guess when you've been a parent to an emotional child for that child's entire live, you come to expect episodes like this one. Let's keep in mind I was kind of self-absorbed anyways, so this wasn't out of character for me. In any case, I felt a lot of grace, comfort and validation at that moment. 

I did sneak into the homecoming court's getting-ready room on the night of the football game and took a picture of myself with the sash on. Wait, what? 
I can't remember who the accomplice was that took the picture for us. 

Flash forward to a couple years ago. I was in an internet writing course, and one of my assignments was to write a chapter for a teen novel. I thought my homecoming fiasco would be great, so I wrote it as if it were fiction, assigning fake names, etc. 

My mentor wrote back that the story was predictable and that I should write about real challenges that teens face today. 

Womp, womp, wommmmmmp.

I didn't deal with death, divorce or drugs. I dealt with not being homecoming queen. But there you have it: seemingly insignificant things can be quite monumental to teenagers. 

P.S. That was the only REMOTELY negative response I received from my mentor during the entire two-year course. He was such an encouraging guy! I was shocked that the ONE time I wrote a true story, it was deemed not imaginative enough. Real life loses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Easiest Broccoli Salad

I only make easy food. So when I tell you this is easy, believe me.

Super zoom!

This is Zane's mom's recipe. I've had other variations. You can play with it if you're brave like that. 

Ingredients:
Couple bags of broccoli slaw from Publix! I haven't been able to find it at other grocery stores, fyi. 
Vinegar
Mayonnaise
Sugar (not pictured)
Craisins
Sunflower seeds

Directions:
1. Dump the brocoli slaw in a big bowl. 
2. For every bag of slaw make this portion of dressing (I'm guessing on the measurements here, so just experiment until it tastes right):
  • 1/2 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 TBSp of vinegar

3. Mix dressing into broccoli salad
4. Add a bunch of craisins and some sunflower seeds. Yes, this is how I make it. Add whatever amount works for you! If you're crazy, you can even chop up fresh broccoli and add some florets! 

Yum!

You can't go wrong. Trust me. I'm not a cook, and I get compliments on it every time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Say-Nice-Things Game

A couple Friday's ago, we got together with my sister and bro-in-law for dinner and Mario.

Can you find Zorro?

We played for four hours! So fun!!

Before we started playing, while we were eating dinner, Zane initiated the "let's all tell each other something that we admire about the other" game. We've played it a few times in different groups. It's so awkward, but so awesome. 

It's really uncomfortable to hear nice things that are said about you and accept them! We were joking about how you don't know what to say or where to look, but it's so exhilarating. An uplifting word is better than money (in my opinion). It's also so fun to pour on the praise to others. 

If you can get past the awkwardness, I totally encourage you to play this game. 

Uplifting talk and Mario Bros. = priceless bonding. 

We also got pretty good at Super Mario Brothers with four players. It takes some serious teamwork skills. There was pretty consistent emotional rotation of frustration and jubilation throughout the gaming night.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Colorful Garden - An Update

A few weeks ago I posted about our gardening exploits. We planted here:
Nice, no color though. 

Now it looks like this:
Bright yellow and blues every morning! The yellow lantana lasts all day. The blue whatever they ares curl up in the afternoon sun. 



Our sweet Mexican petunia before. 


Now! Pops of color!

We did lose the sage, which was so lush and green and overflowing. I forgot to water it a few days, and it died. But all these other plants have survived. Our afternoon rainstorms have finally kicked in, so I don't have to remember to water at night. Praise the Lord for rain! 


Friday, August 19, 2011

Repurposed Wall Art

This is actually a no-sew project! Anyone with a glue gun can do this!

There's a wall in my house that is still blank after living here for over a year. It's blankness drains me of joy and contentment.


After work, I went to that nearly-a-monopoly, get-everything-here store, and I decided to go through the sewing section. I found some pretty red fabric in the scraps pile, so bought it.

On the way home I ran through some ideas of what to make with it. I landed on wall art.

I painted this my senior year of high school for my freshman dorm room. 

I never plan on hanging it again. The pink part is melted crayon - I was doing this wax versus water-based paint thing, and basically, I don't like this picture. 

So I laid the fabric over the canvas, and tested different materials for making our family initial:


I ended up choosing the blue lace without a background color. 

I measured canvas on the fabric and cut about 1.5 inches around it. 

Then I ironed out the fold wrinkles.

I started with the long sides of the canvas. I wanted to stretch the fabric tight across it, so I glued the corners first, then filled in between the corners, so that the entire side of fabric was glued down to the wood frame.

Then I folded the edge as if I were folding wrapping paper over a gift. I pulled the side of the fabric over this and glued it down too. 

Then I laid out my lace. In the corner I was fiddling with an idea, but we'll get back to that. 

I only glued the edges of the lace. I ran a strip on the fabric and very lightly tapped the lace on top of it. I also glued itty bitty areas in the middle of the lace strips, for good measure. 

Then I played with my scraps and a few buttons from my collection
I made a pinwheel shape in the bottom corner. 

In the top corner I made those twisted rosettes! So easy to make, even with tiny bits of scraps. 

Finished product!!

I love the subtle corner fun. It's more visible in real life, but it looks cute in the picture too. 

Two minutes after I took this picture, I switched the wall art with another piece from my living room. I wanted the red in the living room, and the metal art in the foyer. The foyer wall still got decorated in the end, so mission accomplished...with style!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Toxic Welsh

Once upon a time during my trip to England in 2005, my friends and I took a short trip to Wales. After enjoying the sights of the Cardiff Castle, we decided to go out and experience Welsh night life. We settled into a nice Welsh pub called The City Arms that had live music that night.

via
We sat in a booth in the left window next to the door. The bands played in the space in front of the right window. I had my diary with me and wrote little tidbits in it as the night went on.

First, a description of Welsh hipsters:
We're sitting next to the stage, so the audience can see us too. We have gotten quite a few looks, but no one has talked to us. Everyone here is about our age. They are all dressed in dark colors. Everyone here has a carefully planned-out outfit on. The perfect belt, shoes, necklace, shirt, hair.   
I wonder if people can tell we are American. Do we look it? I know we sound like it, but I wonder what they think of us. I've made eye contact with several people in the room, but they aren't happy people. They're serious.  

No pics of us at the pub, but here's me singing on the train to Wales.

We sat through a few bad bands, where I wrote how terrible they sounded and that no one liked them. But it was good that we waited it out, because a couple guys who knew what they were doing came on.
He's singing Britney Spears with an acoustic guitar. It's two guys playing their acoustic guitars synchronized. They play well and sing well. It's very entertaining. They're playing "Toxic." I can't really understand their speech, but they play very well.  
They are singing something about American style. They're harmony is really good.  
"Frankly my dear, I give a damn. I'll blow out my brain to show you I love ya. Get me my shotgun." We're all singing along. Crazy kids.  
They're done - oh, no, they're not.  
Kazoos are being passed around, so everyone has one. They are all singing Jennifer Lopez with Kazoos - everyone. Everyone is playing their kazoos to the main theme of the song, while the guy sings. 
Oh Wales...this is amazing. Brit, Alyssa and I are in shock.  
They're singing Happy Birthday to someone with kazoos. It's crazy. Now, they're singing the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby." Surreal. They're failing at falsetto. Back to back yodeling songs, with no talking in between. Queen. Some yodeling song. Welsh people can't yodel. The next is by Styx.  
They're singing Toxic again. This time with kazoos. It's hilarious. These two Welsh boys singing Britney Spears on acoustic guitars with kazoos in a pub. If she only knew.
I searched the internet for these guys, but that was six years ago. Who knows if they're still together? I don't have much to go from either!

This was one of my favorite experiences on that trip. I so wanted the Welsh kids to include us in their kazoo fun. If I had been more confident, I would have jumped in instead of writing my observations from the sidelines. If I ever return to Cardiff, I'm going to The City Arms, and maybe they'll have live music with crazy Welsh kids playing American covers. I'll bring my own kazoo.

P.S. I'm sure there are Welsh people who can yodel. I was so judgmental at nineteen. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Publix Bag Dress and Vest!

Every semester Art's Sake Acting Studio has an end of semester party, where each class comes dressed in theme. My class did rock stars last fall and animal instincts in the spring. This time, our theme was "No Clothes, Anything Goes," meaning wear things that aren't typically clothing.

Zane and I went dressed in Publix reusable grocery bags! Green bags!

I used four bags: two for Zane's and two for mine. I bought new ones because mine are dirty and worn out. Still, the whole costume was $2.00 a person. 

First thing I did was cut out the bottom. I wanted both our outfits to be easily recognizable as green bags.

I decided to go with a halter top for myself. I got sucked into the project and forgot to take more pictures along the way. Oops. 

For Zane's, I pulled out one of his tighter-fitting shirts to use as a pattern.
I laid out the bags, after cutting off the sides and bottoms. 

The back was two bag fronts stacked, using the old side panels to fill in the space between. 

Final product hanging. 

This was my first time sewing for a man. Zane had a really hard time standing still during the fittings, but he was patient with me. I told him to do a math problem in his head to help him focus on something other than standing still. In the end, he got a custom-fitted Publix vest. Priceless. 

Here we are wearing them: 

 It looks like I have the chest of a teenage boy. Such is life. 

The skirt was basically an entire bag with the bottom cut out. I used the two bottom panels to create the midriff cover, which I sewed to a belt that tied high on my waist, under my top. I added a ruffle on the hem to extend the length. It had the appearance of a dress, but was actually a skirt and shirt. 

Yvonne, the best acting teacher in the world. I love her to pieces.
I also added little twisted rosettes to the straps. 


In the end of the night I came in second for best outfit. It turns out sexy pleather body suit beats home-made Publix green bag dress. Who knew?  

Bonus:
Yeah, I totally went there. We forgot to get a family shot though. Oh well. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Embellished and Up-cycled T-shirts

I've been wanting to try this five-strand braid that I saw on Make It Love It (I've really been enjoying her blog lately). That's how I got to this project.

I've had these shirts since college. They're incredibly soft and comfortable, but I think they're kind of bland and boring. Since they coordinate so well together, I decided to combine them to make a cute shirt.
I marked a new neckline in chalk on the blue one. 

I cut five strips off the bottom of the pink shirt, and followed the five strand braid tutorial (the link is at the top of the page, if you're interested).

This part was a little difficult: figuring out the best way to sew it to the shirt. 

Looks good to me. I just noticed that I didn't follow my chalk marks accurately. Oh well!

I attached it by sewing a not-quite-zig-zag stitch (it's number 4 on my machine), along the bottom of the braid. 

Then I cut off the old collar, close to the stitch. 

Using the scraps from the hem of the pink shirt, I made this twisted rosette. I hand sewed it on. 

I trimmed the excess pink things and sewed everything in place. 

I'll probably need to press the bottom of the shirt (wrinkles!), but other than that, it's good to go!

Cute!