Monday, January 26, 2009

Cousins BBQ weekend

Since we missed seeing most of my family at Christmas, we decided to take a quick weekend trip up to Fresno to hang out with the fam.  My cousin Doug and his wife Annalaura just bought a new house so they invited us to come over for a barbeque with the rest of the cousins.  It was a delightful evening of good food, games, fun little kids, and family time.  Here's Doug and Al and their daughter Edie in front of the new house.
A delicious veggie burger, sweet potato black bean salad, and grilled zucchini!  mmmmm!
Cousins.  Not a great photo, but i forgot to take more so this is the only one.
Al and Edie looking cute and eating breakfast.
And then we went to see my grammie and aunt Luann in Selma (the raisin capital of the world!) for grammie's 87th birthday!  It was a fun weekend.  thanks for having us!

An Ode to Heidi

I was so impressed with Heidi's vegan keylime pie idea, i tried it myself!  I went to Whole Foods to find the Tofutti fake cream cheese for it and they only had a different brand that I'd never heard of.  For some reason, it frightened me, and since I was making the pie for a bbq with my cousins, not just ourselves, I decided to do half fake and half real cream cheese.  I don't know if it made a difference, and I really don't know why I chickened out, but it turned out delicious despite my cowardice.  Sorry Heidi.  Here's my lime zest and juice ready for mixing. And the finished pie, ready for the oven.  Didn't end up taking a final photo, but it was good and pretty.  


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

now accepting appointments

As another side project/hobby/career, I've begun to teach myself the art of the tattoo. It's a skill that I've wanted to learn for a very long time, but have never really had the time or resources to do. But I figured that I might as well learn some time. I actually have a co-worker who is also pretty much self-taught. He's been tattooing for a few years, though. He's given me some good advice and is always a great resource. One of Mandy's co-workers also tattoos out of his apartment on the weekends, too.
So far, I've only been practicing on synthetic skin, which is suppossedly the next best thing to actual human flesh. But since the word has started to get out that I'm learning how to tattoo, I'm starting to get requests and people asking when I can tattoo them. So I figured that I need to start practicing on real skin.
Sunday, I had an appointment with Ryan. He's getting a very simple and clean design on the inside of his forearm. Should be pretty easy, right? But I chickened out. I don't want to practice on some part of the body that's so easily seen. So I postponed the appointment. I'll still tattoo him, I just wanted to try on myself first.
Once I realized that I was going to practice on myself, coming up with the location was simple: my leg/calf. Easy to reach, plenty of space to work on. Hidden 95% of the year.
Next, I needed some artwork. Ever since seeing a video of an octopus attacking a shark, I haven't been able to get that image out of my mind. So I went ahead and sketched up my artwork:
Then, I had to trace my outlines onto my transfer. I don't have a fancy thermal transfer machine...... yet.
Here I am doing some prep work. It took about 20 minutes and 2 disposable razors to shave the inside of my calf. Now that's what I call hair-pants. I'm not looking forward to doing that on someone else.
Inspecting my needles. I used a 4-round for the liner. I think I could have gotten away with using something a little thicker, though.
What a mess of transfer, vasaline, and ink. I must be doing something wrong, because most of the transfer wipes away once I put down my initial layer of vasaline. This is were it would be useful to be going the traditional route of an apprenticeship. Maybe I'm not letting the transfer sit on my skin long enough or maybe I'm using the wrong kind of deoderant to apply it? Or maybe it's just too much vasaline.
Workin'.
An hour and a half later, I had finished all the outlines. My leg was also starting to get sore and my nerves were shot. I'll touch up the lines next week and start some shading. I could have kept working if it was someone else's body, but the combo of trying very hard to concentrate on what I was doing and the tenderness of my leg was becoming too much.
I'm happy with how it's turning out. I figure it will be a work-in-progress for a while. I need to clean up a few lines, add some more details, shade, and color it. I don't actually own any color ink, so that last part may be a little ways off.
So, who's next?

Glorious Southern California

The weather has taken a turn for the gorgeous. Glad that cold-spell is over. Sorry, rest of the country.
Our front-yard garden is in full bloom. I guess that's about right, it is January after all... How many gnomes can you spot?

That gnome hiding in the tomato-tower* is solar powered, so it lights up at night! This house is looking soooo much better now than when we moved in. Now if only we could get the sprinklers to work on the front lawn.

*hint

Keeping up with the Powers

Once we returned from our Holiday vacation up in the Bay Area, we had lots to do at the house. We decided that first, we'd like to hang some of our new artwork in the living room. We've reserved the space above the couch for something grand. Here's what it looked like before.
Ignore the mess by the front door. We were in the middle of taking down all the Christmas decorations. Usually our house is much more organized and neat. ;)
And after. Heidi's piece and the wedding bouquet. Lookin' classy, Wall.
Mandy approves.
Then we hung a plant from the ceiling. We attached Michele's candle holder to the bottom as decoration. It's from Turkey (the candleabra, not the plant). That's our 'jungle corner' of the house.
Then Mandy moved on to the backyard. We needed some type of solution that didn't involve crazy chemicals to control the weeds from growing back. After a few storms in December, we've seen a lot of seedlings poking up out of the mud. Mandy sprang into action.

This is after the first 2 bags. We realized that we needed a few more bags. The newspaper/tan-bark is a 1-2 punch that will stop all photosynthesis in those pesky little weeds. The newspaper is biodegradable.
This is after 5 more bags. Good work Mandy! I think I was inside reading comic books or something. I helped by carrying the bags from the car, though. And supervising. Wooo! Teamwork!!