Monday, January 31, 2011

Homemade Smoothies

Mmm... Smoothies...

This, so far, is the best use I have found for my "Magic Bullet".

The process:

1. Fill up the cup halfway with ice. Add a splash of juice and/or milk and as much banana as you can fit.
2. Blend.
3. Cram in the rest of the banana, berries, and a couple spoonfuls of sorbet or ice cream.
4. Blend again.
5. Enjoy.

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie:

1 banana
4-5 strawberries
splash of milk
splash of orange juice
orange or raspberry sorbet
vanilla ice cream

Tart Berry Smoothie:

1 banana
1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries
splash of cranberry juice
raspberry or lime sorbet

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Getting Geeky with Personal Finances

Finances are boring - but making charts and graphs is fun! It is even more fun if you can see your earnings over time to see how much money you save each years, or as a monthly average.

Personal Finances 101 for Kids

If you have kids, it would be a fun craft project to create a poster-board chart so your kids can track their own finances on a smaller scale. When it comes to kids, this is the only situation where the Comic Sans font is admissable. Usability tests say Kids are more attracted to Comic Sans than Times New Roman or even Verdana.

Example of a kiddie financial chart

Start by writing down the date in the first column. You can track every month, week, or at random times, it doesn't matter too much. If your kids have an allowance, update their charts when you give them their allowance or each time they get money from gifts or chores.

The second column shows all of their income from allowance and chores for that time period. The third column shows how much they have spent. Using red and green and + and - symbols will help emphasize what the columns mean. The last column indicates how much money they have in their piggy bank at this point in time. You can demonstrate that Savings is equal to the last Savings amount, PLUS what you earned, MINUS what you spent. (e.g. $6.00 + $1.00 - $2.50 = $4.50 for 8/1/2010)

Adult finances are more complicated!

Microsoft Excel is my spreadsheet designer of choice, particularly the newer version with better default color options. Digital is the way to go if you are dealing with lots of numbers since you can use functions like sum() and vlookup() to do the math for you. Plus, if you show it to your financial advisor, he will be impressed!

The best thing about the following chart is that it's a great way to track your credit spending and keep a rein on your accounts. You'll easily see all of your accounts at once.

Numbers are completely fictional.
  Adult finances deal with a lot more variables. But you can still track your spending using a chart like this fictional example. This is pretty much what I do, but with a few more accounts. Keep in mind that this doesn't track cash at all - it assumes that any cash I deal with is withdrawn from one of my credit union (or bank) accounts, so if I get any cash under the table, like a Christmas gift, then it doesn't factor into my calculations.

The object here is to sum up all of your "cash" on hand - that is, what you have in the bank. I have a sum() column to show the total checking + money market + savings. But I need to keep track of what I have spent on my credit cards as well to really know how much I actually have. So the next few columns show the balances. If I make a new row right after I paid off my card then it would show $0.00 balance. I added the due dates for my credit cards here so I have an extra reminder of when I'll need to pay the bill. The last column totals up the Total Cash - Total Charges to tell me how much I have.

Again, these number are completely fictional.

Last but not least, I can highlight the Date and Total Cash - Credit columns and make an instant graph of how my money has changed over time. If you keep track of this, it will be easier to know if you need to curb your spending - ideally you want the line to be going up like this one. If your graph is really exciting, you could print it out, frame it and hang it on the wall in your home office.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cosplay Progress - Final Fantasy XIII-2 Lightning 0.1

So I had previously planned on cosplaying Fang from Final Fantasy XIII for SakuraCon. I even had my entire cosplay complete, but then my coworker had to show me a video. A NEW Final Fantasy that is coming out. ~Sigh~, inspiration and addiction attacked me. And so begins my adventure to build a new cosplay. I thought this time I would do what Ava did and show you my progress.

Let's start with the design process. I need to be able to replicate the outfit and the best way is from images. The only source of visuals for this new game in from their teaser trailer that they just released last week. I went through and cut some images from the video.

We'll start with these first two images (the two above).  We can learn how she stands (her poses can also be studied by looking at the previous game where Lightning was introduced, she's the same person so likely she'll pose the same).  We can see that she's got both a Gunblade (sword that can turn into a gun) and a shield.  She's also got lots of shiney armor.  She's still got her side sweep pink hair.

Here we can see some details on her chest.  She's got a round collar and some gold embellishments.  

 Her shoulder is armed similar to her previous armor of shoulder pads?? but this time it's double layered

I am taking a lot of time to look at her belt.  It can be broken down into 6 Sections.  Front Top, Front Bottom, Back Top, Back Bottom, and two sides.  I might have some left over vinyl to use for the leather pieces  It seems like she's not wearing any pants or skirt.  Hmmm might need to break out a swim suit for this. 

She's got this swooping feathers coming from her left side.  Just like her hair.  Should I use real feathers or make my own?  I could cut a ton out of craft foam, but real ones would look awesome (but expensive).  Need to think about that.

Her gloves are a bit of a mystery to me.  I will need to go through more of the pictures to figure it out.


Using several of the pictures I'm going to need to figure out how this gunblade looks.  I'm not really good with these crazy props, but I guess another opportunity to practice.   The shield is going to be ever harder because there are no full on views of it.  I might need to just make this part up.  That bothers me.  When it comes to cosplay I'm usually for accuracy.  How to be accurate here? 

Just another picture I have, giving me some more details on the position of the belt, more details of her glove.  Etc

Monday, January 24, 2011

CandleLite Fireplace

I dont really use the fireplace that much, and I for sure don't like cleaning up the soot after a log has been burned. 


I was visiting a family friend's house and grabbed the basics of this idea from her setup.

  1. Get some Candles of different heights.  I prefer them to be the same look, so I grabbed a bunch from the same brand and color from a craft store.
  2. Get some ribbons.  Once again I prefere them to have the same look, so I used only one ream of ribbon I bought at Costco so it was both cheap and came with a lot.
  3. Wrap the ribbons around the base of the candles.  This way if you want to occasionally light the candles you wont burn off the ribbons.
  4. Use the Pins to secure the ribbon to the candle.  The metal pins won't burn if you accidently burn down the candle.
  5. Arrage the candles in the fireplace, pinned side facing the back.  I like it where the different heights are mixed together, but feel free to put it any pattern that you find pleasing.
Now on a Cozy night you can relax behind the fireplace and enjoy the glowing embers of the candles.

Material:  Candles, Ribbon, Pings

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Anime Trading Card Bag

Let's not be wasteful, for those children who loved to collect trading cards as a child, what do you do with the wrappers? Do you throw them away?  Do you keep them cause they have cool pictures too?  Or do you tape them all together with packaging tape to make a bag! with a BOW.




Materials:   Anime Trading Card Package Wrappers, Tape, Insanity (of an Otaku)

Friday, January 14, 2011

18th Annual Gingerbread Village Report

For many years the Gingerbread Village is on display at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Seattle.  It sits in the lobby while hundreds of people an hour walk past admiring their work.  Although it's free any donations collected go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Swiss Family Robbinson come to mind?

Looks like a toy story theme

Elves loading up Santa's Sleigh

After this my boyfriend started pondering questions like, "are they safe to eat after sitting out so long?"  and "how long do these things last?"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Knitted Scarf Weekend Project

It's that time of the year when you can never have too many scarves!

Knitting a scarf can take a very long time... if you use small needles. I completed this scarf in just three evenings - while watching television.

Using 9mm (US 13 size) knitting needles made it easier to work with this nubbley yarn - it would have been difficult to use this yarn with thinner needles. The larger needle size also meant a looser knit but a faster project.

I'm not an expert knitter (I'm self-taught via online tutorials), but I believe you would call this a knit 1, purl 1 pattern. What I did was knit one row, moving the yarn from the left needle to the right needle, then flip it over for the next row, continuing to move from left to right. After finishing, I added three tassles to each end.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Characterized Gacha Toy

I always love those japanese toys in which they merge a disney character with another object.  Such as Mickey Cookies, Winnie the Pooh as a Purse, Dumbo as a TVStitch dressed up as Peter Pan, Donald as an Umbrella, or Buzz Lightyear as a Cars.  Ok I got carried away, but I loves these.

So I was playing with Microsoft Expressions playing around with vector drawings and came up with these.  These are based off of those japanese  capsule toys

Micky and Minnie.

Who am I?????

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inspiration - Movie Posters

I came across an artist on DeviantArt, Mr-Bluebird

He recreated several series of movie posters.

Alfred Hitchcock Series
The way he uses just two colours and simple designs yet it says soo much.

Whimsical Journeys Series

I love his use of extreme colours to push the wildness of these magical lands

 Paul Thomas Anderson Series

I love how he can incorporate text as part of the image.  Also how the picture has movement to it.

Pixar Series
Using well known but not main characters makes gives this a mild, yet recognizable unqiue posters. 

And then THE BLOB
Giving the classic comic book look with the polka dot gradients really helps date this movie. 

This artist has many more Movie poster and other print pieces that are amazing. Approaching these classics from his own perspective just makes my creative juices flow (oh he's a MUSE)  Should check him out on either his DeviantArt account or his personal site. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Damask Drawstring Bag

Drawstring bags are great to have around if you need somewhere to stash money when you are in the middle of dancing.

Just slip it around your wrist, stuff the money in, tug it closed, and keep on groovin' to the beat!

My sister asked me to make her a "money bag" that she could use for the money dance at her wedding. Knowing she likes the nouveau-French style and had pink as a wedding color, I came up with this style. I found the cute damask fabric in the remnants bin at JoAnn's, and I already had the wide grosgrain ribbon on hand.

To make the bag, I cut out the circle bottom then measured the circumference and used that measurement as the length of the rectangle that comprised the rest of the bag (taking into account seam allowances of course). This is a very simple project that really doesn't require a pattern. I sewed it by hand because my sewing machine wasn't working at the time.