Monday, July 11, 2011

The Road To Multiple Hobbies

"How does one person have so many talents? Seriously, you know how to do so many constructive hobbies, and the end results are all so awesome. LOVE the Pai Sho pieces in the other post, gorgeous, and my inner nerd wants one of these ornaments :P" ~ Maze

So at first, I thought I could give this a very short answer, but the more I thought about it - the more I realized a quick answer could not fully explain. I guess the short answer would be - I have never refused to learn something from anyone willing to teach me.

I'll start with the two phrases my mother instilled in me at a young age.
"Never say 'I can't'."
"You can only be bored if you allow yourself to be."

I've learned the first - although, I still use 'I can't' as an excuse on occasion - still working on fully removing that thought pattern. I think that I would probably employ it more often had my mother not taken the time to painstakingly show me and others that we really could. Because of this, 7 times out of 10 I will approach a new endeavor with the following attitude: "I don't know how well I can, but I know that I am capable and therefore, it is worth my effort to find out how well I can do this."

The second I know very well. Uttering "I'm bored" around my mother meant that she would find us something to do (often additional chores). So, at first, I learned not to be bored around my mother. Then I eventually realized the truth to her words. The initial feeling of boredom can surface at anytime, but to remain bored is a choice. When "I'm bored" hits we can throw a pity party (which I still do on occasion) or we can make the choice to do something to alleviate the boredom.

My mother also instilled a love of crafting. She was known as the "Craft Lady" - often volunteering to teach craft projects at school or at church (including the 500 kit crafts per room at VBS each summer). She is also very thrifty. At craft fairs we would look at all the crafts - when we found something we liked her response was often - I think we can make that. Then she would pull out her notebook (or whatever paper she had handy ie. napkins, receipts...) and either write or sketch what she needed to remember about a piece. From watching her, I learned to recognize the different elements required to make up the whole and to start thinking about things that could be substituted for more expensive components.

My father is an architect. So from him I learned many of the design and construction elements. As a child, he would let me play with the stencils and create things. He would praise my end result - even if my buildings never had a chance of standing as drawn. He encouraged me to enter design contests and to explore my creativity.

So my parents were a huge influence on my love of creating and constructing.

Halloween also played a big role. I grew up in a large family (there were six of us in my immediate family and now their are nine [not counting anyone by marriage]). So buying new Halloween costumes from the store each year was out of the question. This is where my Grand Aunt Barb comes in. She is a marvelously talented seamstress and let us use the costumes she had made for her children. I think I was the black widow more Halloweens than I was anything else. Eventually, we wanted to be things that were not in my Aunt's box. So mom would help us create our own costumes - usually from things found at the thrift store. I remember dying a funky one piece pant set we had found to be Jasmine one year (it had lace over the stomach and Halloween in my area tends to have a 50/50 chance of snow). So my love of costume creation grew out of childhood experience. It was really funny one year, when as an adult, my mother asked me how I ever got the idea that I could make costumes and was shocked when I answered from her. Once I explained why - she understood.

My Grandma Mouse (she collects mice figurines and Elizabeth was a hard name to say as a child) taught me many of the sewing basics as she often made clothes for us each school year and eventually let me help.

Another hook for the costuming aspect was meeting my friend, Kelli. She is an expert seamstress and a wonderful teacher. I learned pattern drafting, quilting fabric, and how to sew piping from her. Her work (which is screen accurate [or better]) has given me something to shoot for.

My sexy husband, Bevan, taught me how to mod Nerf guns to fire better.

My mum (mother-in-law) taught me how to cross-stitch.

Nanny (my husband's Grandmother) taught me how to knit.

My friend, Alfredo, taught me how to make chain mail.

My elementary school teachers encouraged me to write stories and several teacher's after that continued to encourage me to write.

My friend, Joe, has taught me a lot about the anatomy of animals and how to get proportions correct. He has also given me lessons in foam carving and sculpting foam.

My mother taught me how to bead at a young age - both by hand and on a bead loom. She (and my father) taught me how to use various tools [I'm pretty sure they gave me a tool set of my own in grade school]. My mother taught me how to use a scroll saw. *Edit: In fact, I just realized that sitting on the table next to me is a 16 ft. tape measure with a tag that reads: "Nat, I <3 you beyond measure. Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Mom"

Both my parents have taught me the remodeling trade. I can knock down walls, feed wires through a wall, put up walls, tear off siding, paint, put up siding, mud & texture dry wall, caulk, put in windows, hang wainscot, add trim, and any other number of assorted home maintenance things because of them.

In listing out all who have taught me something, I know that I am missing people. Some of my teachers have been strangers who have posted tutorials on the web. Others have been artists and craftsters who have inspired me to try something new. Much has just been encouragement from friends, family and strangers alike.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Star Wars Ornaments - Yearly Tradition

Every year I design (at least) 6 Star Wars ornaments to use as gifts for the Spokantina's White Bantha gift exchange and every year one design unintentionally ends up working for two different characters. [Please note - all Star Wars characters belong to George Lucas.]

2009 Designs:

Santa Yoda (technically I made him while in high school for a friend)


Rebel Luke [LEGO based]

Darth Vader

Boba Fett


Shadowtrooper (completely unintentional - my Mother, who cuts all these guys out, forgot the color scheme for the Stormtooper and painted several all black)

2010 Designs:

Veractyl (since my SW group thinks that I sound like one when I laugh)

Luke on a Tauntaun (because I am making a Tauntaun costume) [LEGO based]

Han on a Tauntaun (the un-intentional one because a friend pointed out that altering the paint job will change the character) [LEGO based]



Snowtrooper (because a friend of mine finished his Snowtrooper armor this year)

Ahsoka Tano

2011 Designs:



TIE Fighter

LEGO Chewbacca

Millennium Falcon (Bottom View)

Millennium Falcon (Top View)

LEGO Han Solo

Aayla Secura (painting is not finished)

Pai Sho Project

Project Name: Pai Sho
Status: In Progress
Source: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Genre: Anime
Project Type: Wood game pieces, travel board-map, and Pai Sho table.

The first picture above shows the size of the pieces I am using. The second picture shows the canon White Lotus piece as well as an altered version of the canon Rose piece.

As I sat down to work on this project, my friend, Joe, offered to help with some redesigns of the pieces. The White Lotus piece was really the only canon design I liked. So Joe reworked all of the other pieces for me. He altered the canon Rose to fit with the design and I tried my hand at altering the canon White Jade to fit in with his designs. All other pieces in my set are of Joe's design and I am very happy with them. So I am working on my set (and will be doing a second set of tiles when I am finished with mine, for Joe, as payment for his design work).

So I ordered all 108 wood discs needed to make my set and have started wood burning in the designs. I've gotten a few tiles completely wood burned and several others in progress, but I have bent my straight tip beyond use for the detail I need now (though it works great for small curved segments). I'm not sure if it is a cheaply made tip or if I just don't know my own strength. Regardless, I need to order a new tip before this project can proceed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Spiral Earrings - Afternoon Project

My husband and I were out shopping when he commented that my earrings didn't have any beads on them. We happened to be in a craft store at the time - so I stopped in the bead section to remedy that. I decided that it would be easier to by beads in a storage case then in a bag and the one that I settled on also came with 20 gauge wire in assorted colors.

So this afternoon I decided to try my hand at making some spiral earrings of my own (something I have wanted to do since I was given the Harry Mason "California Convertible" earrings during the half-marathon trip to San Fransisco with my in-laws last October. So I sat down with my trio of jewelry pliers/wire cutters and my husband's dremel (to make sure all the sharp ends were rounded down before sticking them in my ear). So the above is my result. The earring pictures along the top are the Harry Mason earrings and were not made by me (though I do add the beads from time to time). The other 3 sets of earrings are the ones that I made.

Also, the galaxy pair have to be put in from the back in order to hang the way they do. It makes them a little odd, but I like them.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

So excited!

I just found out that I am a finalist in The League of Extraordinary Writers' 2011 Writing Contest!

Finalists Announced Here

Aside from poetry, that I've submitted and had published in the past, this is the first writing contest I have participated in. The two critiques on my work were very helpful in showing me the areas upon which I can improve. The critiques also demonstrated how different views on the same piece can be. One of the judges really enjoyed my work while the other judge would have preferred more detail in my descriptions and reasoning for events. I'm happy that the first critique I read was the low scoring one, because it meant I ended on a really high note when I opened the second one. Critiques can be really hard on the writer.

*does a happy dance*

I am so excited. One of the best things about this is that I will now get to sit down and discuss my work one-on-one with one of the published authors attending the convention. Hopefully, I'll learn some tips and tricks to both improve my writing and get me published.

*continues happy dance*

Now, I best be off to work.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Riddle Me This

Brain Teaser & Joke Page - Below you will find the first set of jokes and riddles to be added to this page.


From One of My Students:

"You are trapped in a room with four walls, ceiling, and floor all three foot thick. The room has no windows or doors. The only things in the room with you are a mirror and a table. How do you get out?"


"You use the mirror to look behind you, to see what you saw. You pick up the saw and saw the table in half. Knowing that two halves make a whole - you put the two halves back together and use the 'hole to get out."



"Two spies want to get in an enemy's military base.In order to get in they have to give the correct countersign to the guard at the gate after he gives them the sign. So they wait hidden nearby the gate so that they will overhear the countersign from another soldier.

One soldier comes and the guard gives the sign: "6".The soldier answers "3".The guard lets him pass. Another soldier comes.The guard says "12" and the soldier gives the answer "6".The guard lets him pass. So, the first spy goes at the gate and the guard asks says "10".The spy, sure that he knew the answer as he was, says "5". Immediately, the guard shoots him dead.

Then the other spy, who saw that the other spy was killed when he gave the countersign, had now understood what the right answer would be, whatever the guard's sign was.So, he walks to the gate and the guard says "8".The spy gives the correct answer and the guard lets him in. What was the answer that the spy gave?"


"The answer is "5". The countersign is always the number of letters of the number that the guard gives. ("six" has 3 letters and "twelve" has 6 letters. After the two soldiers passed, the first spy thought the answer was the half of the number that the guard gave (like what you also might have thought), so he answered 5 when the guard said 10, which was wrong as ten has 3 letters)."


What do you get if you divide the circumference of a jack-o-lantern by its diameter?


Pumpkin Pi!


There were three medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, over which the kingdoms had been fighting for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.

The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight. The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had five squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had twenty knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle. At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.

When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in).

The battle raged, and when the dust had cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms, thus proving that the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.


Why do you rarely find mathematicians spending time at the beach?


Because they have sine and cosine to get a tan and don't need the sun!


"My life is all arithmetic", the young woman explained. "I try to add to my income, subtract from my weight, divide my time, and avoid multiplying..."


There was a blonde who found herself sitting next to a Lawyer on an airplane. The lawyer just kept bugging the blonde wanting her to play a game of intelligence. Finally, the lawyer offered her 10 to 1 odds, and said every time the blonde could not answer one of his questions, she owed him $5, but every time he could not answer hers, he'd give her $50.00. The lawyer figured he could not lose, and the blonde reluctantly accepted.

The lawyer first asked, "What is the distance between the Earth and the nearest star?"

Without saying a word the blonde handed him $5. then the blonde asked, "What goes up a hill with 3 legs and comes back down the hill with 4 legs?"

Well, the lawyer looked puzzled. He took several hours, looking up everything he could on his laptop and even placing numerous air-to-ground phone calls trying to find the answer. Finally, angry and frustrated, he gave up and paid the blonde $50.00

The blonde put the $50 into her purse without comment, but the lawyer insisted, "What is the answer to your question?"

Without saying a word, the blonde handed him $5.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Monkeys and Mikey

Today marked ten years since my little brother, Mikey, passed away. He would have been 23 going on 24 this year. It made me wonder what career path he would have chosen to pursue - he loved sports and playing his violin. He liked to make people smile and had dimples when he smiled that always cheered you up when you were feeling blue. My youngest brother, Steven, reminds me of Mikey in a lot of ways. I miss Mikey. Monkeys were his favorite animal. I dug some monkey charms out of my jewelry box today and wore them as earrings as a small tribute to my little brother today. I also gave my Mikey Monkey some extra hugs. At church Mom handed me a Mikey button that the Scouts had made in his memory, which I pinned to my purse. Even after ten years this day is still hard, but I know that Mikey is up in heaven and doing just fine.

After church, I went up to the hospital to see Kalia, Joey, and Linda. They were all doing well and think that they will be able to leave the hospital tomorrow. I got to hold my niece, Kalia, for quite a while and even changed her diaper when my brother went to grab lunch. Joey then informed me, that I am the first person, other than himself, who has changed Kalia's diaper. I chatted with Joey and Linda for a while and then we played Phase 10 (Linda beat me by 7 points when we ended it after completing phase 7). Bevan came in to see his niece today, too.

It was kind of hard being at the hospital today. Too many emotionally powered memories - I wonder how Mom handled it. Over all, it was a good day with a lot of tears and my wonderful husband, who let me cry on his shoulder... actually, that was kind of funny.

Bevan: "Are you crying?"
Me: *nods head*
Bevan: "Why? Why are you crying?"
Me: "It's been ten years."
Bevan: "Oh! I'm so sorry. I didn't even realize! Wait... that's in May. It hasn't been ten years yet, silly."
Me: *puzzled* "Yes, July 3rd, 2001."
Bevan: "But we didn't meet until 2003."
Me: *slightly less puzzled* "Not us. My brother."
Bevan: "Oh!" *commence snuggling*
Sometime later...
Me: "Wait? You thought you missed an anniversary?"

I love my wonderful husband.

Friday, July 1, 2011


My beautiful niece, Kalia, was born at 8:02 p.m. today via C-section. She already has my little brother (her father) wrapped around her pinky. She is 7 lbs. 11 oz. and is 21 1/4 inches long. She's beautiful and has very pretty eyes. Long toes too! Completely adorable. Mom, Dad, and Baby are all doing well. We left them to rest up and I look forward to seeing them all soon and getting to hold baby (hopefully tomorrow). Oh, she has a set of lungs! We could hear her through the sound proof glass. She also tried to suck the nurses pinky off. Now I need to finish up her star blanket! Oh, my youngest sister still doesn't want to be an Aunt (she thinks it means that she will turn into a bug and throws fits anytime someone tells her she will be an Aunt).

It was game night (SW Saga RPG) - I returned to my house to find out that the guys had somehow managed to get boarded and the ship sabotaged all in the same mission. They had also disposed of our hostage. I arrived in time to roll a natural 20 to repair the ship and then managed to get the ship off Tatooine and out of the Imperials weapon range before they could blow us out of the sky (without being trained in the Pilot skill). I was very happy they didn't kill off my character while I was gone.

I'm working on the timing still, but I almost have "Augie's Great Municipal Band" down on my violin. The fast notes are still throwing me for a loop - so I can't play it up to speed with the accompaniment CD yet, but I'm getting there. I'm very pleased with the progress I've made in only 5 days of playing. I just need to get an actual violin player to critic my form now (I'd rather not teach myself bad form).