Look What Showed Up in the Mail!

Candy Fabric

All I can think is, “Ididit!Ididit!Ididit!Ididit!” to myself over and over.  In case you can’t tell from the photo…that’s fabric.  I designed it…and I’m feeling rather pleased with myself about it.

I took the design from the candy bookmark (here!), made it a million times more complicated (it took about 2 weeks of grumbling to finish–I’m very sorry about that to anyone who had to listen to the grumbling), and used Photoshop to create a repeat pattern (which is, in all honesty, pretty much the only thing I currently know how to do in Photoshop).  And it worked!  On the first try!

I’ve stared at it long enough at this point to feel comfortable saying that everything lined up just as it should.  Gah!  I’m so happy with it.

And now I get to order more and make stuff with it (stuff–a technical term) as I only ordered a fat quarter initially.  Hopefully my next pattern will come together much quicker than this one did (cupcakes next!).

Now what to make with it first?

P.S. I feel like I should just come out and admit to not ironing before photographing…everything is far less bendy in person, lol.  I realize there’s some weird stuff happening in that photo.

Finishing Up Ms. Marvel’s Scarf

Ms. Marvel update!

I started on the scarf…the tedious part.  You don’t want to know how long it took me to put the trim on just the edges; I knew adding the funky starburst bit was going to make me want to cry.

Ms. Marvel Comic

Instead of crying, I chose to flail my arms in the air.  Sometimes Michael flailed back.  It was a thing.

Ms. Marvel Stencil

So…to make my life easier I made a weird looking stencil.  (no I don’t remember why it looks that weird…I made it back in June, just never got around to using it).

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Then I traced it with a fabric marker so it would wash out (not that you’re actually going to see it).

Funky shape pinned

And then I pinned one side, sewed one half of the line and then flipped it over to pin the other.  It was moving way too much to risk trying to pin both sides and then sew.

Finished scarf end

The end result looks like this…I wish it didn’t look quite so much like snakeskin, but it looks fine from a distance, so I’ll deal.  Stephanie says it looks good and I’m being too nitpicky.  She’s right.  My nitpicky side is very resentful of her being right, but she’s right.

Michael with a Stick

Lastly, I’ll leave you a photo of Michael with a stick.  We took a brief break to go Pokemon hunting, and Michael found a stick.  Also, I realize I’m playing the WordPress lottery with photos here, and that this photo–the entirely unrelated one–will be the one that shows up on facebook.  Bring it on, WordPress.  Bring it on.

 

Ready, Player One Vs. Armada

Frankly it isn’t a contest.  Ernest Cline’s Ready, Player One has received millions (at least it feels like it) of amazing reviews, while Armada just didn’t.  In my humble opinion RPO was spectacular; it sucks you in to this crazy futuristic environment, and doesn’t let you go.  On the other hand, Armada is just okay.  I wouldn’t recommend reading it first—if you do, you’ll probably never bother with Ready, Player One, and that would not be a good mistake.

Book Covers of Ready Player One and Armada

For the sake of order, here, let’s start with what makes Ready, Player One so awesome, because much of what makes it awesome is what makes Armada fall a bit flat.  RPO is set in a future world, where real life isn’t half as great as it used to be.  Our hero, Wade Watts, lives in a trailer with his aunt and about 12 other people.  This trailer is located in the “stacks” (yes, you can think library here), where people pile their rv’s/trailers/vans/etc. on top of each other as a response to overcrowding in cities, lack of resources, lack of jobs, what-have-you.  Life on planet Earth isn’t great.

That’s where OASIS comes in.  OASIS, an online virtual reality mmo type of game, allows players to log in and level up characters by fighting and completing quests (like you could in, say, WOW); players can go to school, they can work, they can go clubbing, hang out in a friends “basement” playing video games.  You get the idea.  If it weren’t for having to eat, sleep, and exercise, you can pretty much live in the OASIS (as Wade does many times throughout the book).

When the OASIS’s creator, James Halliday, dies, he leaves his company and fortune in the hands of whomever can solve his puzzle first (and find the egg)—a puzzle based on Halliday’s love of all things 80’s.  As the years go on, more and more people quit the search for Halliday’s egg, with the exception of a few notable groups: the gunters—your average joes obsessed with the search—and the sixers—employees of the massive IOI corporation out to make money.  Wade Watts is a gunter, and a broke gunter at that, meaning he doesn’t have the funds to leave his school world, level up his character, and do all of the other fancy things that most of the other gunters can.  Regardless, Wade finds himself opening the very first gate—making him the very first to accomplish this task.  What follows is a fast paced journey of pretty much everyone in the entire world trying to find the egg first, and the bad guys, the sixers, trying to beat them all to it and gain control of the OASIS.  It’s full of humor and trivia; if you are a fan of anything 80’s you will probably find something you like in this book.

I actually listened to both books on Audible, and Wil Wheaton does an excellent job reading.  I really appreciated the meta moment in the middle where he referenced himself.  I will, more than likely, listen to it again at some point—I enjoyed it that much.

My Armada review will be a little shorter, because I have far less to say about it.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that great either.  I listened to Wheaton read that one too.  While Wheaton does an excellent job, sometimes even an excellent reader can’t make a mediocre book great.  Also, I think his voice just made me want to re-listen to RPO

Zack Lightman, our teenage protagonist, looks out the window at school and spots a space ship, straight out of his favorite video game, flying through the air.  An alien invasion follows, and it seems like Cline is trying to write another Ready Player One with all of its video-gaminess and references.  Armada falls flat because of this.  It’s the kind of book that makes you want to try your hand at rewriting it, because you’re pretty sure even you could do a better job at it(I spent a half hour last night doing that exact thing).  Honestly, Cline could’ve skipped pretty much all of his many references and instead focused on developing his plot/characters a bit more to make the book a million times stronger, but for whatever reason he didn’t.  He technically made them part of the plot, but that doesn’t mean they did anything for it.  They had impact in RPO.  They didn’t have impact in Armada.

If you liked RPO will you like it?  Maybe?  Go in with very low expectations (I lowered mine a lot, and I’m glad I did), and you’ll enjoy it well enough.  You probably won’t recommend it to friends, but if you’re sad because it’s been a while since RPO and you really, really want to try it out then just do it.  It isn’t awful, it just isn’t good.

I did notice in the interview Cline gave with Amazon that he lists Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash as one of his favorite novels.  Snow Crash, a funky cyberpunk adventure, has some plot similarities to RPO (like virtual reality) AND a good plot that WILL surprise you.  It might be a better way to scratch your RPO itch than Armada.  Just sayin’.

The Leita Thompson Memorial Park: My New Favorite Pokemon Stop

I’ve been passing the Leita Thompson Memorial Park for years (I’m sure some of you have too), and I never considered stopping until recently thanks to a recommendation from another Pokemon Go player.  The park is a bit deceptive.  You can see the Arts Center from the road as well as the Memorial Garden, but neither one of these actually makes it seem like there’s a really nice walking trail behind it.

As it turns out, it’s absolutely worth stopping, and if you ever happen to be traveling down Woodstock rd with a few minutes to kill, then I encourage you to pull over.

Leita Thompson Memorial GardenFor you Pokemon Go players, there are three Pokestops and a gym in the memorial gardens.  The gardens are small, but pretty with benches everywhere making it a fantastic place to just sit and chill.  My only warning is to bring bug spray–I am not a fan of the mosquitos, and these guys bit me through my shoes last week.

I like to sit over near the lady with the urn–she’s technically a fountain–again, though, mosquitos.  You can normally hit the gym from where where she is, and I (weirdly) like the sound of the little fountain.

These are all the Pokestops (I’m standing in the memorial garden):

So Many Pokestops

Everything you see in the screenshot, you’ll hit in the trail ahead.  You can’t really see the ones in the memorial garden (thank you gym…).  The one next to the road is the start of the trail that I normally head to.  There’s a longer path that starts on the other side, but I have yet to go that far.  For a path through the woods, that’s the most Pokestops I’ve seen so far (I’m sure there’s a spot with more somewhere, but it probably isn’t half as convenient).

Map of Leita Thompson Park

I normally go down the yellow and loop back around.  I can get down to all of the Pokestops and back in 20 minutes-ish, making it ideal for killing time between students.  One of these days I’m going to do the whole thing.  There’s a pond that I have yet to see.

Even when it’s hot, the woods are so dense that it’s shady and relatively cool even when it’s ninety degrees out.

Leita Thompson Trail

And if you walk far enough you’ll hit a gym up at the Arts Center (I have yet to explore that…I presume you can go inside).  You’ll also notice that the Pokestops are really interesting up near the arts center.

I think the statues/sculptures were all old art installations that have been relocated…because I have yet to find any of them.  I was trying to take the gym up at the arts center when these two teenage boys walked by muttering “where’s the head”, so I know I’m not the only one baffled by the missing sculptures.  Personally, I’d like to see the musical sculpture.  Those nails just look bizarre.

Does anyone else frequent the Leita Thompson Memorial Park?  I’m a little freaked out by the coyote warnings (especially one about the rabid coyote…), but there are no dates up to tell how recent they are and I have yet to see anything, so I’m probably going to continue to be brave.  There are always so many people going around the trail, walking their dogs, running, that I know I’m not the only one (being brave).  If I find out more about that, I’ll update my post.

In the mean time, what are your favorite woodsy Pokemon Go places?

Park Address:

1200 Woodstock Rd, Roswell, GA 30075

 

 

 

Fun with Cupcake Earrings!

Adding fun into the title clearly makes EVERYTHING more fun.  True story.

And now for my face:

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Becky and I came up with 2 different earring designs based on my brand new coloring bookmark set–> Coloring Bookmarks Eat Sweets! Pretty spiffy, no?  The ones I’m wearing in the photo feature a tiny stack of 3 cupcakes.  Which means that when you wear them you are literally hanging 6 cupcakes off of your ears.  Lets see Chuck Norris do that!

Now lets see my face again:

Pink single cupcake earringsBam!  My face.

These are the singles.  As it turns out, I like both of them equally–which is only odd, because I was really, really, really determined at first to have a stack of cupcakes because in my crazy cupcake obsessed mind more cupcakes are ALWAYS better.  As it turns out, they are pretty stinkin’ cute, but the singles have the added bonus of being able to see the detail a bit more, so hooray for that.

Multiple embroidered cupcakes

As with the cherry blossom necklace (scroll down, I promise it’s in there), I created the lineart and Becky worked her magic to digitize it for the embroidery machine.  They take a bit of trial and error to get right, and then they take a bit of prayer–because I really am terrified of fire, and melting the edges so that they don’t fray is utterly terrifying.

The purple cupcake stack and the blue cupcakes on the right are actually the original design.  Can you tell the difference?  The finished ones on the left look so much cleaner and nicer because we removed some of the detail.  The poor yellow cupcake in the middle bit the dust–I think the embroidery machine tried to eat it…it happens sometimes.

So, what do you think?  They’ll be available for sale soon…hopefully!  We’ve got a few other things in the works as well, so keep an eye out.

And if you didn’t follow that link above to go buy my coloring bookmarks, go here!  They’re pretty!  They’re inexpensive!  You can color them!  And think how happy your very favorite Angela will be if you buy a set! (BTW, thank you for everyone who HAS bought a set, I really do giggle like a little kid every time I sell another one!)

Coloring bookmarks preview

 

The Wizarding World of Once and Again Books

We did it, and it looked spectacular!

Harry Potter Decorated Bookstore

And, for that matter, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many people squished into the store at the same time before.  I didn’t know we could squish that many people into the store at the same time.  It was so much fun, though; and for everyone who thought Barnes and Noble was the way to go for the midnight release, well, did they have Harry’s Birthday Cake Cupcakes?

Harry Potter Birthday Cake Cupcakes

I didn’t think so.

Casey did a spectacular job decorating the store.  She hung tulle from the ceiling in grand Harry Potter black and purple.  Plus she magically managed to make candles levitate several inches below the ceiling.

Once and Again Books storefront

The house banners now hang proudly from the windows, and Casey transformed the front door into Platform 9 3/4.

Harry Potter bathroom

The bathroom may or may not be the home of Moaning Myrtle and the Chamber of Secrets OR the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.  I’m not stepping into the toilet to find out which.

What did I do?  Why am I so tired?  I made three wizard robes in a week.

Angela, Casey, and Alex

I still cannot feel my fingers.

Also I made fancy potions bottles…yesterday…when I also finished the wizard robes.  If you ever have the inclination to make your own, but don’t think you’re fancy enough to pull it off, check out the blog Over the Big Moon.  She has a printable/downloadable set of potions labels up for free.  Print those out, stick them to your bottles with a little mod podge, and you’re good to go.  I used two of her labels myself: my Flesh Eating Slug Repellant and Skele-Grow are better for it.  I really, really, really wanted to make all of my own labels, but, as these things go, I ran out of time and only got to make a few, so having those available was pretty awesome!

Taryn, Angela, Jennifer

Thank you Taryn and Jenny for coming all the way down to Marietta with me.  It wouldn’t have been half as fun without you!

I’m a wee bit on the tired side, but like I said, no regrets.  I’m really happy with how everything turned out.  I know Casey and I both geeked out a bit on Pinterest because we wanted to do everything under the sun, and the store looked/still looks perfect.

If you want to see it for yourself come visit us at Once and Again Books.  The decorations will probably be up until Halloween. 🙂

 

Floating Down Ichetucknee Springs

Amy, Tripp, and Angela on the Ichetucknee

I went to visit Amy and Tripp down in Tallahassee this weekend.  I was not thrilled when they informed me that we’d be taking a 2 hour car ride at 5:30 the next morning, especially after my 5 hour drive, but I trusted them that the Ichetucknee Springs really would be that fantastic.  And they really were–but I’m going to start this story from the beginning, so that you get the full scope of how the day went.  It was a much longer day than we had intended, and according to all of the people who worked in and around the park, it had never been that crowded before.  Ever.

So basically we won the bad timing lottery.  It was still worth it, don’t get me wrong, but we were in for a lot of waiting–and were not at all prepared for it.

If you want to get into the North entrance of the springs (the longest route), they suggest showing up super duper early…like 8 am…or before…because they only let 750 people in to this entrance.  We were there at maybe 7:50, and we were the second to last car allowed in. Tripp was kind enough to be the driver so that Amy and I could hang out for a while.

Tubing in the parking lot

See that picture?  We literally sat in the parking lot for 3 hours waiting.  Poor Tripp, on the other hand, spent about two hours trying to drop the car off, buy wrist bands, and take the shuttle back.  Only one person is allowed to shuttle back…so there were a million of us (a figurative million, but it really was a lot) sitting on tubes in the parking lot praying for our missing people to appear.  We were soooo excited when Tripp (and sandwiches) showed up.  In our heads, we all figured we’d be done tubing and heading home by 1/2:00.  In reality, we didn’t get our tubes in the water untill 1:00.

But again, the North entrance was totally worth it.  Why?

Ichetucknee Basin

Firstly the water was the cleanest, the clearest, and the downright prettiest at the very beginning.  This is Blue Hole Spring where you can scuba dive down into underwater caves (somehow).  It’s deep, blue and beautiful.  It’s also freezing, but we all dove in anyway…and then promptly swam back out…we were brave and determined…just not THAT brave and determined.

Turtles on a Log

Second, and this sounds silly, but you get to see a lot more nature coming down from the North entrance than you do once you’ve hit the midpoint.  My theory is that the large crowds scare off the birds/fish/turtles in the area.

We saw quite a few of these little guys (are they herons?) preening themselves and fishing for their lunch.

White Heron standing

We didn’t really see much of anything once we got to the midpoint.  No  turtles.  No birds…a few fish, but not really.  The beginning two hours were the most exciting.

Amy with a snail shell

 

Lastly, and possibly least importantly, starting at the high point gave us a bit more elbow room.  Which really does sound silly.  But we were able to move around more easily before the crowds showed up and find things like the funky abandoned snail shell.

Amy and Trip

Also we were able to take nice photos without random strangers showing up in the background.  Which is awesome in my book.

If you’re interested in the parks, you can find more info here.

Before this, the only “river” I had ever been tubing on were various parts of the Chattahoochee (shudder); Ichitucknee put those trips to shame.  I’d highly recommend it, waiting and all.

P.S. For those wondering how I managed to bring a camera with me (maybe no one, but we were debating whether we should bring something or not and I’m glad we did) …well…I used my lovely waterproof phone…I stored it in my swimsuit.  Which was both awkward and insanely effective.  I could swim without having to worry about losing it, and take pictures when I wanted to…so…for all of you girls in rather useless string bikinis (thinking you’re all fancy), hah!  How impractical!

P.S.S. They say that weekdays are the best days to go!  Saturdays are the busiest.

 

 

Dessert Bookmarks–Almost There!

Almost done!  One left to finish!

I thought I’d try coloring it for a second to see what it would actually look like…and then I got hungry and had to stop.  You seriously cannot stare at a chocolate colored strawberry without wanting a chocolate covered strawberry.  You know?

Dessert Coloring Page

That said I hope this is my only food themed art…ever…I think I’ll gain twenty pounds if I try to do this again!

So many exciting things coming up this month, so stay tuned.  Hopefully by Wednesday I’ll have a new embroidery project (earrings!) or Harry Potter project (potions bottles, Hogwarts robes!) to share.  Did I mention that we’re doing a midnight release for the new Harry Potter script at the store?  I’ve got three sets of Hogwarts robes to make.  I think I can do it!

If you haven’t seen my other coloring designs yet, go check out my Etsy shop–> here

I’m going to work diligently to (hopefully) get “Coloring Bookmarks Eat Sweets” finished and up by tomorrow.  Then on to “Coloring Bookmarks Cast Spells”!

Santoro Knives

Greg (my baby brother) has been making knives for about a year now (ie: plaguing us with knives–normal people do not need as many knives as we currently have in the house).  He started off taking classes at GoatnHammer Forge in downtown Atlanta–and still goes down there frequently to use the equipment.  Fun fact: The Hunger Games industrial district was filmed at GoatnHammer.

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The first ones he made looked a bit like funky metal banana peels…he’s gotten a lot better with practice.  Many of the things he used to do down at the forge, he now does at the house.  Ex: Below he’s cutting pieces of metal to size…he burned a hole in the garage carpet a few months back doing this exact same thing (it smelled disgusting).  Yesterday, he burned his shorts. 🙂

Greg cutting metal

Greg uses varying types of metal for the blades: O1 Tool Steel, 440c Stainless  steel, 5160 Spring Steel, CMPS30V, and 1095 Carbon Steel.

Knives and sheath

As far as the handles go, he makes them out of stabilized wood, birds eye maple, zebra wood, bocote, micarta, and kranite.  The kranite blue with yellow swirls was my birthday present.  It’s taller than my head.  I still have no idea what to do with a knife taller than my head, but I own one now, so that’s neat!

Three knivesGreg does makes knives to order, and turn around is about two weeks.  He takes requests; if you’re interested in something specific I’d encourage you to email him and ask.  I’ve watched him work at this for a year now, and while he’s made some very normal looking knives, he’s also made some funky ones.  He can make railroad spike knives (see the first photo), or knives out of old files (not his favorite).  Theoretically he could make a knife out of Michael’s broken mother board!

I hope that answers most of the questions from yesterday!  If you’re interested in pricing, requests, or even more about his process, you can contact him at:

santoroknives@gmail.com

 

Week in Review: Updates and Fun Things

Hello All!  It’s been a crazy busy week, so we’ll call this more of a “check in” than a blog post.

5 Coloring bookmarks and pencils

I know I posted the WIP last week, and I’m happy to say that the candy coloring bookmark is FINALLY finished.  I was up until about midnight trying to get it done last Wednesday–so basically, I showed you guys the lineart and then sat there for 3 more hours making it all fancified.  I’m really happy with how it turned out.  Some of you may have seen this photo up on instagram–I’ve finally started coloring some of my own designs–is it weird that I haven’t until now?  I really like making lineart more than coloring…I can’t help it!  (If you’re not following me, I’m scribblerex on Instagram!)

Angela with concert in the background

Saturday night, Katie, Sean, Stephanie, Simone, and I went down to Duluth Square for their free “Summer Concert Series”  to watch an 80’s cover band called The Breakfast Club play.  The band was good, the music selection was fantastic, and altogether it was just a really fun concert.  Duluth Square is really set up to optimize a gigantic amount of space.  Even if you’re far away you can see and hear really well–and I’m only saying this because we got there a bit late, it was insanely crowded, and we still got a great spot.

Group photoDuluth actually has 2 more free concerts lined up: Drivin N Cryin on August 13 and On the Border on September 10th.  If you’re interested head over to the City of Duluth page and don’t forget that you also live SOMEWHERE!  Most cities host something free over the summer, so google your hometown!  There might be something free and exciting going on nearby.

And there are about 12 Pokestops surrounding the stage…I really did try to catch ’em all Saturday.  Received my first PokemonGo injury Saturday as well.  Walked into stairs, stubbed my toe, it was gross–I was in flip flops, the steps were brick, I wont go into details.  Watch where you’re going everyone!  Don’t be like me!

Lastly, here’s an update on the embroidered necklace front:

Angela wearing necklace

I bought bigger jump rings for it (They’re actually chain mail rings which are a million times easier to use than jump rings.  An actually million, not just an imaginary million.) so it lays much nicer than it did before.  I’ve also switched out the chain for ribbon for 2 reasons: 1. The chain didn’t actually fit the style of the necklace, and we think the ribbon looks prettier, and 2. The ribbon is super easy to adjust.  The necklace is intended to be worn higher up on the neck, and everybody has different sized necks so it just seemed logical to make it so that it could fit as many people as possible.  Plus you can tie it into a cute little bow in the back!

Alright, well that’s all the updates for today.  I’ll be back on Wednesday with more bookmarks (most likely).

P.S. Going to be starting on some Harry Potter robes soon!  Guess what comes out at the end of the month!