Saturday, August 17, 2013

Way More Complicated than Necessary

As I've been working on the Anima Campaign and it's related comic, I've been coming across more and more issues regarding how women are portrayed in media, especially comics and games. I do in fact follow the Escher Girl and Hawkeye Initiative tumblrs because of these issues, largely because I find their ways of dealing with it humorous without making light of the issue.

On the whole, I agree that women are not well-portrayed in most media. Boob and Butt poses and battle bikinis are better represented than real woman. This is obvious and cannot be argued because the evidence is there. You can't miss it. Horrible anatomy is also prevalent for both genders (thanks Rob Liefeld...). That too cannot be missed.

Even what seemed like a step in the right direction has gone amiss, namely the Strong Female. This idea went from the light at the end of a tunnel of sexism, to embodying it further because the Strong Female is the only female allowed to show up in anything other than romantic comedies, usually as part of an otherwise all male group. Strong Female is violent in ways that the male characters wouldn't accept from the other guys but it's okay for her because she's the woman, she has something to prove and probably has Daddy Issues. 

To recap, we have: 
~ Women put in stupid impossible poses for the sake of sexy, because all women must have butts but also not have room for internal organs because that means they are fat.

~ Women who are supposed to be warriors put in clothing that is impractical and would likely get them killed over their male counterparts.

~ Women who are simply plot devices to make the lead male man up and take out the bad guy.

~ The so-called Strong Females who talk a big game and beat the crap out of whoever they want, but ultimately come off as insecure.

This doesn't bode well for anyone creating a female character for pretty much any kind of media.

Going down this thought path, I began to wonder if, in trying to solve the problem, it's actually become worse for the creators of the media, especially ones just starting off. It has me concerned about my own character in the Anima project and how she will be perceived.

First off, let me state a few things about me so that my poor Ageha will make a bit more sense:

~ I am not feminist in the classical sense. I believe men and women are equal but different and that difference is needed. It takes all kinds, as they say and all kinds includes men and women being different.

~ I believe that women are strong and capable, but I also think a woman's strength is different than a man's strength. It's hard to put it into words because I'm not just talking about physical strength.

~ I am a large woman, always have been and probably always will be to a degree. Women who look like literal wasps are not something I'm going to draw unless she's literally a wasp-women hybrid and then I will find some way for her internal organs to be in her wasp-butt.

Okay enough about me.

This is my Ageha. She is five-foot-nothing, slightly chubby, definitely chesty and though you can't' see it, the girl barely has a butt. Hips yes, butt no.

 She is, for lack of a better term, a ninja. She frequently wanders around in plain sight so she's not about to wear anything that scream "HI I'M TOTALLY A SUPER ASSASSIN!", so no random armor pieces or any of that nonsense. She wears the kimono because A) She likes it. B) It's comfortable and C) It's feminine.

This leads me to some of my concerns.

There are those would rejoice at the fact that Ageha is not showing copious amounts of cleavage. She shows a bit of leg sure, but she's wearing boots with no heel. So not bad.

It's the who she is and her circumstances that have me concerned that I will be blasted for writing. She is a tough little woman but she fights only out of greatest need. She is modest and feminine. Her greatest wish is to be a wife and mother but her circumstances won't allow this yet. She is the only woman in a group otherwise comprised of men, which I've recently learned is one of symptoms of the Strong Female Syndrome. There are some who would have problems with any or all of these things.

I know that I can't please everyone nor should I. I love Ageha the way she is. I made her that way for a reason and I shouldn't apologize for it.

It makes me wonder though, as I think about this in terms of Ageha, has trying to solve the issues of poorly done female characters made things harder for newbies like myself?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

An Artist's Confidence

Why must it be such a fragile thing?

I love being a creative person. What I don't like is being a creative person who is also PMSing, and has anxiety issues. 

It all started earlier this week when one of my Anima guys let me know there was a chance he wouldn't be there Friday. This isn't a big deal, it happens, especially when juggling birthday's of his girlfriend's family and they like to do things last minute. I received confirmation yesterday about which felt way too last minute for me but there's no amount of cranky that will change that. I was able to alter the session to make it work without him. So no big deal, right?

Well then another of the guys said he would be late. I wasn't worried until my husband pointed out that a little late for him has been super late for the rest of us so we may not get to much at all.

That was this morning. I went back to bed and pulled the covers over my head. A couple hours later, after having dreamed about the worst possible game session imaginable, complete with one guy giving another a partial buzz cut mid-session, my husband texted me.

It was the real name of his character, completely not the one I had given said character when he gave me nearly nothing for backstory. We worked it all out and he's using the name I gave as his character's family name and the one he picked out as his character's first name. So again, no biggy. It was all worked out well.

Except that he's upset that I may have fibbed to keep something for his character a surprise. I don't even remember this at all. I'm trying to, but there was one point when he was talking to me about his character while I was half asleep. This is the only time I can think of that this may have happened. I feel bad about it because this is not what I intended. But it's kinda become a thing now...

Regardless of the fact that a lot of this is out of my control, I feel like I'm a terrible GM for this and if I were better at it, this wouldn't have happened. Add in whacked out hormones and I'm a mess.

Hopefully this gets better soon.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Meeting Myself

I was going to be productive today but the late night and poor sleep quality messed with those plans. But more than that, I had a little conversation with myself today and I began to see that I've been trying to force things upon myself that I'm simply not wired to do. I see myself a litt more clearly now.

As much I as want to be a homesteader, I really would only be able to keep up with a garden and some backyard chickens. As much as I dream of owning a dairy cow and a dairy goat or two, they are far more high-maintenance than I think I can handle. Maybe in the future, but certainly not as I am today. Let me get a few kids under my belt and check back later.

I do aspire to dress better but I will always be a jammies gal. I see no need to wear make up most of the time, cosplay and weddings being the exceptions. I would rather wear knee-high black boots to a wedding than heels any day and have done so twice. I don't know what my style is yet, but I've been gravitating toward skirts more than I ever recall.

Out of all the things I do, I prefer comic creation and sewing/knitting to all the other things. Sure I love cooking for people, and many other things but not as much as those things. I love the freedom comic art lends to a story, freeing me of  burden of description that just writing must have and lending a voice to my art. Sewing and knitting are similar, freeing me to have something to wear that's my own and no one elses. All other creative pursuits pale in comparison.

I want children so badly it hurts sometimes. I'm working on ensuring that it doesn't become an idol in my life, but that doesn't change my desire for them. I've come to the realization that it will always hurt initially when someone I know announces they are having a baby, especially when they are younger. It's hard to wait for something so deeply desired, but then I remember that someday I will be announcing it and it may hurt another woman who is where I am now. For now, my battle is against jealousy and its one I intend to win.

Visuals that others may find weird or just "whatever", I find striking. The queen xenomorphs of the alien series are beautiful to me despite the fact that they're horrifying hell-beasts. As for the mundane, I find male backs a stunning piece of biological architecture while most people are kinda' "meh..." unless there's a well-proportioned butt involved. I've discovered that this is a positive aspect of my creative outlook and I should embrace it more often than I do.

I am an introvert with social anxieties and probably always will be. I just happen to live in a world that prizes the extroverts more but that doesn't make me less then they are. I do not hate people but being around too many for too long will drain every ounce of energy I have from me. Being with those I know well and care about doesn't do this to me for the most part, but I still need to decompress afterward. 

I have flaws, many of them in fact, but I should not be ashamed of who I am. I am fearfully and wonderfully made after all. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hiatus Apparently

Apparently a hiatus was in order for me. Things have been odd so that doesn't help me much in keeping up with the things I usually do. The summer cold didn't help either.

What really got me thrown off though, is Anima. I have dived into this world with pretty much everything in me, creativity-wise. Sure I have a lot of other stories but there's just something about this campaign that has grabbed me and will not let me go.

Some of it is that I have a great group of guys as my players who have given me such a diverse cast, I find myself fangirling all over the place about them. They are not the typical kind of group I would put together which makes it that much more fun. 

I mean, seriously, who would have thought to put together this group:

* A martial artist/pharmacist who is apathetic about everything except his intense hate for anything dark (my hubby's character).

* An ex-merc who is terrifying with a sword, especially if you are dark/blood mage or pirate, yet lately has been having to be Captain Dad.

* A quiet psychic warrior with ADHD, who also looks a little like a tiger.

* An intensely derpy dark mage who loves everyone despite the fact that he drives everyone else crazy and has a love for pirates.

* A bisexual, nearly divinely gorgeous light mage who is epically unfortunate, particularly in his love-life.

* A ridiculously pale woman with ninja-like skills and penchant for blushing who starts everything by hiring the others to help her find someone who bound a crazy artifact to her when she was five (this one's mine). She also has a crush on one the above guys, but isn't telling anyone who it is.

Seriously, this is such a great cast, I'm kinda beside myself with creative awe. I'm waiting on the details for the ex-merc at this point but since his player has been working very hard on him, I'm more than willing to wait. 

Session Four is this Friday. I'm so excited ^^

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anima and My Creative Mind

Sorry I've been gone so long. I've been sitting on a number of post ideas but none of them were really working for me. I debated doing a post about how women are treated in comics art-wise then I realized that it is such a controversy. I'd much rather enjoy scrolling through the Escher Girls Tumblr and laugh at the atrocities against anatomy than state my own opinions. Getting into it too much takes the fun out of some of it.

I debated posting about the continuing adjustments I'm making to my Fluttershy cosplay but as we had to cancel going to JAFAX, I'm not currently working on it.

I debated things I cannot even remember.

Finally I have something. This past month, I started down a new path, that of Game Mistress of an Anima Campaign. I've been wanting to do this ever since my husband bought me the original core book a couple years ago. And now it's finally happening! Squee! I have five players who are fantastic at characterization, a very open world to play with and a brain that won't stop coming up with ideas to throw at them. My guys are also hilarious. Last session, several of them stuck their d4s to their foreheads and declared themselves to be Dice-icorns. My husband stuck two and then three to his forehead, becoming a Diceson and a Diceratops.

The part that is most fun for me is all the art this inspires me to do. I already knew going into this that this campaign is destined to be a comic but I didn't know I would be this excited about it. I have to wait a bit for the actual art part of the deal though because I don't have all the information I need about the characters from the guys as yet. I guess I'll be working on transcribing the script from the recordings. It will be a challenge because all of us have serious ADD during the sessions but it's at least something.

I feel like I'm kinda boring since that's pretty much it for that part of my life right now.

I'll leave you with my latest artwork, a full design of my character Lark Meadows. Steal her and I will throw things at you.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Confidence Acquired!

See this beautiful piece I did this week? This was a redraw of a piece I did ten years ago. I am super proud of this. Would you like to see why? Of course you do! At least I hope so if you're actually reading my blog. ^_^

Woo look at that DBZ hair! But more importantly, look at that progress. I was in a funk of not thinking I'd actually improved. I'm so glad that my friend Kuroi Tenshi had done her own 15-year comparison and thus inspired me to do the same, only with ten years since I've only be taking art seriously that long.

Okay I feel like I'm tooting my own horn here, but I'm super excited to see just how far I've come. I've been trying really hard to stop comparing myself to other people when it comes to many things, art included. Comparing myself to myself is the only way to go. And now I see how much I've grown.

Combine this with the help I received with drawing men and I feel so much more confident in my abilities. I was honestly afraid to move forward with my stories because I did not think I could do them justice. Yet I look at Firestorm and Andiago up there in their first incarnations and how they look now and I can't help but feel so excited to keep going.

Never let someone else's progress get in the way of your own. Never.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Emotional Blergh

Well, I'm actually awake three hours after getting up to make the hubster's breakfast and lunch. This was supposed to be the normal but it hasn't been since Shuto Con, mainly because that was the same week I kicked the hormonal birth control. My body is suddenly having to make all it's own hormones again and it got a little cranky with me. That's a small price to pay for better health though, so I've been taking it was it comes.

As for the Blergh part of the title, things have been a little nutty around here as of late. I won't go into details right now, but the situation has not been good for my heart. It's left me feeling raw emotionally and the hormones are just making it worse. It's also been terrible for my journey toward contentment in my circumstances. At least I can look at that one as challenge.

I have learned some things about myself through this though so I guess that's good. I can correct some of those things that need correcting and be thankful for the others.

I just wish my immediate solution to all this wasn't crawl back into bed and hide from the world.

Instead I'm going to listen to Arrietty's Song and Spiller's Theme from The Secret World of Arrietty over and over again because they make me happy.

I can at least end on a good note and post a preview of what I've been up to art wise:

Clearly this is far from finished but I'm very happy with how its turning out so far. The woman is my OC, Luna, who has to put up with those three Links for the sake of Hyrule. Insanity follows. 

The best part of this piece so far is that I've proven to myself that I can actually draw men. I honestly thought I was lost to all hope in regards to that one. Thanks again Kristie! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mind Blown

Church Zero by Peyton Jones

An ebook that was free for a short time through that I decided to download on a whim. It sounded interesting. I've always like to see what people think is the problem with the modern church. People blame so many things; the congregation, the pastors, the facilities, the music, the chosen denomination, the list goes on.

I'd been wondering much the same myself. My home church has been scratching their collective heads about it for a while. We have a lot of good things going. We have four incredible pastors who works their butts off to lead us. 

We have a set-up that allows for individual care through small groups headed by two individuals (a shepherd and apprentice shepherd) who are in turn headed by mentors who answer to our pastor in charge of adults ministry (he is a totally awesome guy who can preach the entire Bible in one sermon) . It's a good system that is based on the setup God gave Moses so that all of the people of Israel could be taken care of without killing Moses do to the non-stop care the people needed. 

We have a great Children's Minister who is passionate about reaching children and a Youth Pastor who never ceases to impress me. We even have a pastor dedicated to Life Care, meaning counselling the hurting!

But we are still missing something and I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I read Church Zero.

And there it was.

My church as well as the modern church as a whole have been focused on growing up, not out. We are so focused on bringing people in, we forgot that our job is to go OUT and reach those who have never heard Jesus's name or only heard it in passing. We are supposed to bring the Gospel to them and that usually means one thing: CHURCH PLANTING.

Peyton explained it in a later chapter in the book as such:

"Churches should be like Mogwai. Multiplication is hardwired into their DNA, all you have to do is accidentally spill water on them and they pop out five more furry church plant balls."

So what happened?

According to Peyton, we have lost sight of what Luke penned in Acts. This church was growing out through various apostles (with a little a, as in not the original Twelve picked by Jesus, but Paul, Timothy, Titus and others like them) rather than up like today's megachurches. Granted, Jerusalem had a megachurch but it was constantly sending out people to reach those who hadn't heard the Good News.

In other words, yes we need to get people in the Church, but we must also prepare those that accept Christ to do His work, which often means leaving to start new churches. We've focused so much on Shepherds and Teachers, the ones that stay put, we have forgotten, by ignorance or willful omission, the Little a- Apostles, the Prophets and the Evangelists of Ephesians 4:11-12.

This was very challenging to me personally as well as in regard to my home church. I did have some consultation though. Whether we were aware of it or not, my church family is led by most of that fabulous five. I don't know if we have all of them, but we have most. We are also not afraid to try new things for the sake of reaching more people for Christ. We have helped plant a church in an area that needed one. But are we doing enough to grow out?

I'm still trying to take all this in. It's incredible to think about. How many time have I read that passage and missed it? How many times have pastors done this same thing?

I'm still praying about all this, seeking God's wisdom in the face of this information. But I can say is this:

I'm not the same as I was before I read this. My perspective has changed drastically. The Modern Church is content to hold its ground when Jesus told us to gain ground for the Kingdom.

I am no longer content to stay in the trenches.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Herderrrr! I forgot this!

So in the post I did earlier, I meant to post this as well. The problem was, I'd forgotten to finish it by drawing the guy on the far right. Watch me herpaderp, everyone!

Here is what I've been up to on either side of preparing for Shuto Con. The middle two were supposed to be part of my Intentional Practice but I got carried away and finished them a tad more completely than I'd originally planned which threw it all off. I'll start back with that next week.

These four are the main characters and their best friends from my long-standing story, Rain of Fire. From left to right they are MaiTeia, lady-in-waiting to the short woman next to her, who is YuKia Fuenoia or Firestorm, Princess of War. Next is Andiago, Prince of the Alliance and fiance' of Firestorm, though the poor girl isn't allowed to know that little bit of trivia until an hour before the wedding. Last is Majene, Andiago's best friend and comrade in arms.

To finish off the trivia before I go into more about the art part of the deal, their ages are, respectively, 30, 20, 21 and 32. The three tall ones are part of an alien race the came to live peacefully on earth when their planet kicked the bucket, known as Ye-Ap.

Name Pronunciation (as I imagine you are lost) :

Note: There is no particular accent on the syllables, like in Japanese. The Fu is also pronounced in the Japanese fashion, more Hu than a hard F.

Ye-Ap = Yay-Ahp
MaiTeia= My-Tey-Ah
YuKia Fuenoia = You-Key-Ah Fu-En-Oh-Ee-Ah
Andiago = Ahn-Dee-Ah-Go (this is the easy one!)
Majene = Ma-Jay-Nay

Okay so now that the formalities of character introduction is over, I'm VERY happy with how they turned out. I'm still getting the hang of my tablet but seeing results like this makes me thrilled. I'm rather heavy-handed with graphite so its nice to be able sketch and erase cleanly for the most part.

Firestorm seems the most solid but that makes sense since I've been drawing her since 9th grade which is 12 years so it makes sense that she is so easy for me to just whip out. Andiago is pretty good aside from being stiff because I was primarily focusing on proportions and design with him, less on gesture. I've been drawing him for almost as long as Firestorm but he has undergone a recent revamp due to freakin' James Cameron's tall blue people (The Ye-Ap used to be blue...).

I'm particularly proud of how Mai turned out. I've only drawn her once before and that was before Cameron crushed my blue Ye-Ap dreams. Seeing her so well fleshed out and adorkable makes me seriously happy. I think I sped through Maj a bit though. He still looks good, better than I expected, thanks to Kristie's fabulous proportion-focused panel at Shuto Con. I just didn't finesse him as much as I did the others.

Well, I think it may have been a good thing I posted this on its own. This combined with the other would have been waaaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

Conventions, Medication and Decompression

I live!

I feel like I fell off the face of the planet for a bit though that's not unusual for me while prepping for an anime convention. Yay Shuto Con! Yay Decompression post Shuto Con!

That's mostly what's been going on with me lately. I've been a sewing fiend and when I wasn't a sewing fiend, I was a wig styling fiend. I was a few other types of fiend as well but to a much lesser degree.

Shut Con was a blast. I made some new friends, learned a ton from Kristie in her lovely panels as well as hung out with her at Art Jam (greatest panel ever for drawing/hanging out with fellow artists!), and had a somewhat successful cosplay experience. And I finally got to see our friend's panel that we missed last year due to limited space/VIP pass issues, even if he did get technology-screwed and had to smash his whole presentation into about twenty minutes. Equestrian Embassy: Condensed was still just as good as it would have been normally and was probably funnier because of the time crunch.

Expounding upon the cosplay experience, the reason I call it somewhat successful is that I was still not as identifiable as my husband and friend and creating the costume just about gave me a aneurysm. Here is the break down:

* I finished the outfit the week before Con week and the bags two day before rather than a race to finish line that my previous costumes have been.

* I was able to use a commercial pattern without killing my brain.

* It was comfortable to wear, aside from a wig cap issue. Apparently I have a large head.

* There was no catastrophic failure of any pieces. My shorts did pop a stitch or two, but I expected as much since I sewed them with the wrong tension but didn't figure that one out until it was too late.

* I was far more recognizable than in my first Fluttershy cosplay. I even received an attack hug from a Discord cosplayer which made my day.

Less than Successes:
* Sewing my dress and shorts was incredibly hard, mainly because I merrily jumped into the world of knit fabric. I mostly knew was I was getting into and the shorts weren't bad. The dress fabric was a very thin, fine jersey though, and I swear it was doing the hula while I tried to sew it. It still turned out well though.

* I trusted Burda too much with the gathers in the dress and not a fabulous sewing blogger (, who had already helped me with my shorts. Burda's instructions for the waist gathers were to zigzag over lengths of elastic thread, while the lovely lady at Make It and Love It manually winds the elastic thread into a bobbin.

 I did test the Burda method and it seems to work. OVER SHORT LENGTHS! I am no tiny person, so the width of the fabric was daunting. Sure you can still pull it to gather but your elastic thread will probably break and it will be nigh impossible to keep it at the right length you want. I ended up having the remove the back gathers because A) the front gathered too short so it wouldn't fit around me if the back was also gathered and B) it is very hard to sew over elastic thread on thin jersey fabric and maintain straight lines. Bad call Burda. Bad call Me.

* I placed my Cutie Mark on the right side of my dress, which was promptly covered by the front of my wig. I ended up playing with it constantly so that people had a chance to notice it.

* My bags were okay except that I had to carry more than a hip-slung bad on a thin belt could handle. I hadn't planned on carrying two small sketchbooks but my friend didn't have the space in her carrying device (she was Twilight Sparkle, so she carried a hollow fake book for a purse). The bags kept slipping down and they weren't even in weight so it was always off.

* Again, I was still not as recognizable as my friend or my husband. To be fair though, they are doing more closet cosplay than me. The only things handmade they have are their Cutie Marks and my husband's Smarty Pants doll (which I made...). Also, I take a different view of Fluttershy than a lot of other cosplayers do. I think Sweet Lolita Fluttershy is cute, but the pony works with animals. She has chickens and a host of other animals. Loli is impractical for taking care of animals, so I went with something cute and breezy but with a practical side, hence cute but sensible boots and "saddle" bags. Maybe I'm looking at this the wrong way, but I don't want to feel I have to be LoliFluttershy to be recognized.

There is also another aspect to this. I do wonder if it's partially because I'm a large woman. I'm not trying to say that everyone who recognized my friend (who is a stick) didn't notice me because I'm fluffy and they all are jerks. I just wonder if I'm deemed "not cute enough for pictures" because of it. Aw heck it's probably not that. Some people did take pictures of me, though it was always with my friend a/o husband. Well, best not to over think this one!

This does made a good transition though. In regards to weight issues, I've finally kicked a factor out of my life for good. No more hormonal birth control for me! Maybe I won't have to think about that paragraph above this one ever again!

Bye for now!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Intentional Practice

For those of you who may have missed it, my primary creative outlet is drawing. I have been having a terrible time actually doing it though, due to all the other things I need and want to do as well. I kept thinking I didn't have the time (same excuse I use for cleaning our room...eesh...).

But then I read a blog post on Mabel and Riv. It struck a huge chord in me as here I am at 26 years old like the author was when she heard the word "Intention" used in a way that drastically changed her life. I am currently doing what she talked about, surviving only, letting myself be a victim of my perceived circumstances.

But Ari taught me something different. She taught me that living intentionally means thriving instead of just surviving. She taught me that intention means slowing down and taking the time to actually do things that matter in ways other than getting by from day to day.

I decided that Intention needs be a theme in my life as well. That's why I made a weekly plan for my sketching practice. It takes the guess work out of it so I can slow down and enjoy the process. As an artist, I've been surviving. 

Now it's time for me to thrive. Thank you Ari.

If you're an artist like me, feel free to use this plan or the concept behind it.Customize away but do please credit me a wee bit. Go ahead and share it too.  I know I will be!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Strange Collection

Disclaimer: In this blog post, there be nudity. I really do try to keep this to a minimum but I've also made my peace with it after taking a Life Drawing class. I promise that it will never be nudity for its own sake nor will it be pornographic. The specific image I am referring to in this post is of a woman who spent most of her life alone in the woods. She does not understand modesty at this point in her story. You have been fairly warned and it is the last image herein so you can just ignore it if you wish. It honestly shows nothing as I'm posting an iteration of the piece that has no nipples. I simply wanted to share it because it spells a great deal of improvement for me as an artist.

Well now that that unpleasantness has been dealt with, on to the fun stuff! And by fun stuff, I mean what I've been up to while not updating this blog for so long.

This is my sourdough start, known as the Blob that Ate New York. At the time I took this picture, it wasn't quite as intimidating as I'd separated some into small jars and put them in the fridge. It completely filled that vase previous to that and is back to that status. I really need to use it more often.

This is the first food I made with Blobby. This is cinnamon sourdough pancake batter. It made way more than I was expecting. There are still some pancakes in the freezer should I decide I'd like more. It looks oddly pumpkin-y. My only guess is that I used the "white wheat" flour I have hanging around, which tends to do this. It's been so long I can't remember. 

And here are some of the pancakes. Holy moly they were good with some frozen berries and Greek yogurt. I barely made through three when I can usually demolish more conventional ones. Just goes to show you how traditional methods produce more filling results.

This is my sad sprout jar. It's currently on hiatus right now because I can't seem to remember to harvest my sprouts before they grow their embryonic leaves. The last batch even got hairy and thus when to the stock veggie bag. I'll get better at this once I'm not in the middle of a new project.

And here is the new project! Last week I received my kefir grains in the mail, from Cultures for Health . Two evenings ago they were finally hydrated and yesterday morning produced this lovely kefir. Unfortunately I missed out on a third of this first batch. I used most of this to make a berry smoothie. Everything was perfect until I reached out to put the blender jar back on the motor. I knocked my smoothie over, losing almost half to the depths of the stove's left from burner. After screaming "WHY?!" at the top of my lungs, I proceeded to clean up that horrible mess and enjoy the smoothie.

I've yet to try plain(er) kefir. I'm not that brave yet. Well, more that I'm not entirely used to the taste of fermentation yet.

And in new not food related, I found one of the most difficult part of my Fluttershy Cosplay 2.0. These boots have been agonizing to find! At first I wasn't sure what I was looking for, then when I did, I COULDN'T find them for less than $50. I am not made of money therefore that wasn't going to work. But when I thought that I'd never find the right pair, these popped up at Meijer for about $20 and I practically cried. They are cute and somewhat feminine but not impractical. You could take care of chickens in these and still be adorable. That is the essence of Fluttershy.

By purplefairy456

She's just so darn cute!

I've also been having fun with my Bamboo tablet. This is one of the first semi-finished sketches I have done since I received it. Only one of the characters is mine, Uzumaki Reiko on the bottom right. That's Haruno Sakura and Hyuuga Hinata (top and bottom left respectively) from Naruto (Kishimoto Masashi). Ahhh fanart, how I love thee! This is for one of the fanfics that made the cut.

Now this is one very loose sketch but I had to learn eventually that Sketchbook Express flattens layers of any file you close and then reopen it...and that is why Akimichi Chouji (also from Naruto) here is soooooooooooooo unfinished. I plan to finish him some day because the squishy expression has an adorable reason!

WARNING! This is where you need to stop if you do not wish to see the nakey. If you don't mind, keep scrolling down.


And here you are.

I posted a colored head shot of this before but I couldn't help but post the rest. This is the best piece I have draw in a long time. This is a rare image that turned out almost exactly as I'd hoped it would. I never tire of drawing my Lithium so that makes this kind of growth that much more special.

Well, that's what I've been up to. I hope to be better about posting in the future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I have no idea what I'm doing!

Or at least that’s how I feel most of the time.

Actually I have a better idea of what I’m doing than when I posted last. I've actually achieved some of my goals to an extent and that makes me rather excited to continue.
So here is what I have achieved thus far:

I have pared down my fanfiction list considerably from what it was. I cut the ones that were crack-tualarly stupid (LOTR OC falling in love with one of the sons of Elrond anyone?) for a grand total of six stories and only one is destined to be a fan comic. The others will be written stories, which is particularly good for the choose-your-own fanfic that I decided to keep because it was just so stinking hilarious I couldn’t bear to drop it.

I have restarted my sprout jar and will be harvesting my first batch today. Though I have a big jar, I’ve found its better for me do sprout small amounts of mung beans as the volume quadruples as the sprouts grow. That was January’s project from the Homesteading list.

I have also started my sourdough starter. I think I may have misunderstood what people have been writing about them because I had the crazy idea that they took a while to get started. When mine was living on the back of the stove, it took off running in two days. Not only that but it also out-grew its jar with stunning results not unlike a science fair volcano. It now resides on the kitchen counter in a large glass vase and still threatens to take over the kitchen for a while after every feeding. I’d better get a move on with various sourdough products. Last week I had a Pancake Day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have the guts to start some actual bread.

As for other food-related goals, I’m still struggling to kick some of the processed food habit. I have a severe weakness for pizza which is fantastically bad from a Real Food standpoint. Mishandled grains, dead cheese and who-knows-what’s-in-there sauce…and yet I keep coming back to it! I guess I’ll be adding sourdough pizza crust to my list of things to do with my Blob That Ate New York starter.

As for my other biggy, weight loss, well, I’m not sure what’s going on. Apparently while eating a reasonable amount of calories and exercising every day, my body doesn’t like getting rid of the padding. I’m pretty sure some of it is those stupid birth control pills. The rest is me, pure and simple. I’m thinking, and hang with my on this one, that I’m not actually eating enough.

A lot of people, including those who are supposed to be experts on nutrition and weight loss would say this is counter-intuitive but I’m pretty sure it’s one of my problems. I found out that at the very least I need 1500+ calories just for basic functions that keep me alive plus about 150 more for digestion. This doesn’t even account for things like moving, or exercise. So, with the knowledge that I already have and this “new” information, I shall move forward.

Whodda’ thunk my problem was not eating enough?

Found this in my files. I create terrible things sometimes.
 I didn't know what I was doing with this one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Doing the Pandora Boogy

I'm currently in the post-workout-desperate-for-a-nap phase of my day, listening to Coldplay' Clocks on Pandora and having a good laugh at myself.

Why, you ask? Because once again I over complicated something stupidly simple.

Since starting this blog, I've tried various methods of exercise in my weight loss journey with limited success. I've used WiiFit in various capacities, but I'd get either bored out my skull or my body would resent the repetition . I've done prenatal yoga, only to find out that the very not pregnant me could only manage the routine if I used the third trimester mods. That was a bit discouraging. Then I tried the Leslie Sansone walking at home DVD I've mentioned before with similar results to the WiiFit due to repetition. Feeling discouraged that these methods didn't work for me, I took to just at-home walking while reading blogs and watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes. Yet once again, the repetitive motion got me.

So once again I had to rethink my "weekdaily" workout. I figured my best bet was to just turn on some music and dance like a weirdo. Nothing fancy, just moving in a way that was relatively comfortable and could be changed whenever a particular move wasn't working anymore.

And yet I over complicated that too. I tried using the enormous iTune collection my husband and I share and spent most of the time hitting the Next button because a lot of the music either didn't work for a workout or were more my husband's music than mine so I didn't feel like listening (he has very eclectic tastes, mine are a bit more narrow). So then I turned to Pandora's workout stations and it was the same thing.

Why on earth didn't I just use one of my own stations? That's what I FINALLY did and I couldn't be happier. I'm embarrassed it took this long to get to that point. It was no longer a drudgery of repetition, there was no WiiFit disembodied voices yelling at me to more securely stuff the Wiimote into my workout pants (no pockets!) and no excessive button-pushing. And while my body is still screaming for nap time, I don't feel like I need to be put out of my misery. I should have known I'd do better with limited structure yet I stubbornly refused to go with my gut (and feet) on this issue.

Just one more reason I was once nicknamed "The Mule".

It may have also been this:

Brought to you by Humor Train

And now I leave you to go play catch-up on my Bible reading. It's not even a month in and this is the third catch-up...please pray for me to have more discipline in this.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Way Too Many Goals

Hello Internet Peeps!

As I said in the previous post, I've been working on my goals for 2013. The list went from sane to impossible before I knew what hit me. I'll be doing a lot of trimming but I figure I'll share it anyway with some comments/snide remarks about how some of the goals have been progressing.

Spiritual Goals:
 - Read the Bible in a year ( This one has been off to a rocky start. My mother has been sick so she has been sleeping in the living room, where I usually do my quiet time. It's really hard for quiet time to be quiet when my mom feels talkative).
- Memorize two verse a month (gotta be honest, I forgot about this one until just now, as I type this!)
- Pray the Spiritual Discipline Prayer as often as possible (once a day)
- Pray for my LIFE group, one couple/person per day
- Pray for my husband and a selected family member every day

Homesteading Goals:
- Start a small project each month (in no particular order)
       ~ Continue Sprouting
       ~ Begin a Sourdough Starter
       ~ Lactofermenation (probably cabbage)
       ~ Crockpot yogurt making
       ~ Grain/nut/legume soaking
       ~ Indoor herb/microgreen growing
       ~ Sock knitting
       ~ Composting (find a bin regardless of garden status)
       ~ Sewing functional clothing (only made cosplay costumes thus far)
       ~ Tincture brewing (for lack of a better term)
       ~ Kombucha brewing
       ~ Kefir making (both milk and water)
       Bonus: Make a 5 gallon or bigger bucket washing machine

- Fully Research these subjects:
      ~ Raising Chickens (layers and meat birds)
      ~ Raising Goats (Read the Storey Guide so far. It was a little intimidating)
      ~ Raising Sheep, Llama or Alpacas
      ~ Raising Dairy Cows ( I REALLY want a mini Jersey!)
      ~ Gray water safety and how to used a backyard wetland to filter it for garden use

Real Food Goals:
- Cut White/Brown Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and artificial sweetners from at least my diet, preferably everyone's diet, by June.
- Source a hand-crank grain mill
- Source grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and pastured eggs and price them by January 31st
- Try out a few farmers markets and road side stands in season
- Determine if the local year-around market is worth the drive into down town
- Avoid soy products that have not been properly handled (so pretty much all of it that's in a store, including in packaged food, some of the worst offenders)
- Work meal plans so weekend meals are covered by March
- Make bone broth at least once a month (source the best chicken possible at this time)
- Try liver by June (Just me for now, though my husband eating it too would be nice)

Health Goals:
- Stop taking that darn birth control pill by March, for the sake of my continuing health ( it has not treated me well, and research indicates they are rather terrible for fertility and the chance of getting certain cancers)
- Try to lose a much weight as possible January through March. If nothing seems to be happening, speak with my practitioner about this issue.
- Get back into some basic hygiene habits (college reeked havoc on my teeth-brushing habit!)
- Start using herbal tinctures as supplements by June
- Pay off the remaining medical debts so the check ups are possible.
- Eliminate soda for life by June-July
- Keep a weight loss journal through March

Creative Goals:
- Drawing
   ~ Draw every day
   ~ Set up a monthly schedule with one male drawing and one perspective drawing per week 

- Comics
   ~ Finish Planning stages of Lark Song by May
   ~ Start Script for Lark Song May- December
   ~ Work out layouts along side script
   ~ Set up Kickstarter by December

- Cosplay
   ~ Revamp Fluttershy by March 15th
   ~ Make a concrete plan for future cosplay by March 30th
   ~ Improve prop construction for JAFAX 2013
   ~ Along side the cosplay plan, make a "parts of costume and materials" list
   ~ Learn shoe covering

- Fanfiction
  ~ Pare down list of stories to ones I actually care about
  ~ Finish Eva outline by June
  ~ Finish Eva writing by December

- Sewing and knitting
  ~ Sew two projects a month
  ~ Finish the baby blanket by December

Decluttering Goals:
- Reduce my person possessions by half by June
- Assess my "save for kids" items and save only what I really want for them
- Read through book collection and give away the ones I don't want to keep.
- Make paper crane chains and branch so the bin can be used for storage
- Separate clothes into Keep, Donate, Repair/ Repurpose, and Rag Bag categories

Weight Loss Goal:
-  Lose 1-2 pounds a week to get as close to 170 pounds by December, unless pregnancy occurs.

So yeah, that's clearly a crap ton of goals. I'm sure many will not be attainable this year, but I will do the best I can and roll over the good ones that I don't finish for 2014. What kind of goals do you have?

On a less list-heavy note, here's a part of the first full piece I've done with my new Wacom Bamboo Create tablet.

Best picture of Lithium I've done yet!
Bai Bai Buu!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013, What Led Up to It, and My New Baby

Happy New Year!

Before anyone freaks out on me, the last part of title refers to this:

Behold! My new Wacom Bamboo Create Tablet!

I seriously have the best mother-in-law ever! I had no idea that anyone would buy this for me since its so expensive but she totally did! It's my Christmas and birthday present but I couldn't be happier. I can finally work around the scanner issues we've had around here. I've been sketching like a maniac. I'll put some of my work up later.

The end of 2012 was a frantic one for me. Every year I keep telling myself that I'm going to work on Christmas presents throughout the year to spread out the cost and keep myself sane. I almost managed it but then I gave into Peer-Pressure: Mother Edition and waited until she was ready to throw in her half of the Christmas fund. That was December 1st. I really need to remember that I must function as if she's not there when it comes to finances. Silly me.

Anyway, here are a few of the things I made for family members:

Two Humpback whales, pattern courtesy of Valaan Villapaita (go here ), a baby sock piggy
and a baby sock person.

This is a Platypurse. It was such a breakthrough for me when it comes to sewing because I've never made anything lined before.

This the adorable little cephalopod is for my cousin's youngest daughter. I need to make on for her oldest since I caused a bit of jealousy. Whoops.

This is just a small sample. I also made little fleece pillows for another cousin, red jersey/black lace scarf for another cousin, non-lethal throwing stars for two of my male cousins and a set of Peanut Butter and Jelly Fleece Pillows for yet another cousin and his wife. I was a bit of a sewing fiend.

When I wasn't sewing, I went shopping with my cousin. We both found a bra we were interested in but didn't buy, and it turned out to be the same one. Almost...

Mine is on left, hers on the right.

We left that store in hysterical giggles because mine was twice the size of hers. Honestly I didn't think there was that big a difference between us. I still chuckle about it.

Next post will be that all-expected 2013 Resolutions. Lets hope I can actually make them happen this year!