Thursday, December 06, 2012

for the love of clay

I started learning ceramics in 2007, first for a required course for my BFA, but then kept it up through undergrad (by joining Clay Club!) because it was just something I really loved to do.

I knew I would keep up my love of making things out of clay during grad school...only, I didn't.  I just never had time to fit in one more course.  And ceramics takes a lot of time, and I chose to put my time toward other things.

But there is a really amazing arts center in my city, where I started taking classes on and off beginning my first summer of grad school.  And now that I've finished my degree, I am continuously taking classes there, hopefully as long as I live here!  I absolutely love it.

Earlier this year, I took bookmaking, which was awesome and I've been getting into more on my own (post about that soon), and now I've started taking ceramics again, and I basically never want to stop enrolling in ceramics (it's mixed level so you can keep on going indefinitely).

This is a cup that came out of the glaze fire this week.  When I look at the photos I took of it, I see all of these things I want to fix about it, but when I look at it in person, I love it despite all its imperfections.  I want to make the same cup again and make it even better, and I have a lot of other ideas as well.  I wish I had more than 3 hours a week in the ceramics studio!

That's all for now.  I just wanted to profess my love of clay.  As an artist, for me it's important to learn new skills outside of my main expertise, and when I do work outside my favored medium I am always pleasantly surprised by valuable lessons in craftsmanship that seem to carry over to other areas later, and by new ideas that come to me when branching out.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

sewing goals for the new year

Once upon a time not so long ago, I thought I wanted to go into a career that would involve sewing.  If you know me well, you won't think this is so far fetched because you know that I've been an enthusiastic seamstress since high school and even way before if you count all of the things I hand-stitched as a child.

For example, upon seeing this particular episode of Clueless in which Cher starts her own business to sell her modern rendition of the muff, enlisting her friends to work for her and sew the products, I immediately hand-stitched my own version (I'm pretty sure I still have it somewhere at my parents' house).

Fast forward to high school, when I sewed my own formal dress, as well as a collection of purses that would have made Cher proud (I was pretty good at throwing together strange, bold patterns).

In college I started out as a Family & Consumer Sciences major, which later became my minor when I switched to art.  In FACS, I got to geek out on sewing courses (for college credit!), the history of fashion design, and minute details about various types of textiles.  I often receive sideways glaces from Corey for telling him the technical term for the type of sleeves on a shirt, or complaining that I can't buy a particular garment because I don't like the hand of the fabric (a fancy way of saying I hate the way it feels).

But after deciding to study fine art as a profession, the majority of my focus went to other creative tasks.  I'd sew every now and then, but never as much as I truly wanted to.  This past year, I started adding hand-sewn items into some of my photographs.  So far they have included handmade tomato pincushions, masks made of silk flowers, cloud pillows, and a tent.  I have plans for many more.  I guess you could say I've finally found my art-making groove where all of the things I'm really passionate about come together.  It's not just about one process or another, but it's more of a balance of all of the things I love to create.

I still love that sewing is a very practical activity, though.  And as much as I use sewing as a tool in my fine art work, I will always also want to use sewing to make everyday items that I can use and enjoy, well, every day.  Nothing makes me happier than having an ordinary, everyday item that is handmade by myself.

Over the past few weeks, I have been setting sewing goals for myself and getting ready to start completing them!  In 2013, I'd like to do 25 sewing projects, the majority being clothing for myself.  I have had a vision for a long time of a large chunk of my wardrobe being things I've made myself (emphasis on quality of course).  Whenever possible (not in all cases), I'd like to use secondhand fabrics and sewing patterns.  Even though it's not 2013 yet, I decided to work on my first article of clothing over my Thanksgiving break.  (It won't count toward the 25, but it was more of a sharpening-my-skills exercise to get ready for the new year!)

I chose a vintage sewing pattern for a blouse from Historically Inspired Patterns on Etsy.  I go thrifting locally 2-3 times per month, but finding vintage sewing patterns that I not only like, but that are also in my particular size, is quite the challenge, and a rarity.  While most sewing patterns now come in a variable size (you just cut on the particular line for your size), not so long ago it was necessary to buy a separate pattern for each size, so it's more difficult to come across vintage patterns you can use.  As I continue on toward my goal, I believe that one day in the near future I'll be able to make alterations to patterns that are close to, but not exactly my size.  But for now, I'll stick with the sure plan.

I chose a bright red linen from my fabric stash.  I do have excellent luck finding fabulous cuts of fabric while thrifting.  The downside is that you don't have control over how much you get (luckily I had a lot leftover in this case!) and it could take awhile to find a particular color or type of textile that you're looking for (I've wanted to find mustard fabric suitable for a skirt for months and just got some last week so that's my next project!).  But as with anything I thrift for, I believe that with patience and persistence, I'll eventually find what I am looking for.  And it will save money and resources!  When it comes to fabric (or anything, really), hold out for the good quality stuff.  This linen is top notch and cost only $4 for enough to make two shirts, since it was from a thrift store.

If I may share one last sewing tip for today, it would be this: keep some pins handy on a magnet.  It's much quicker than using a pincushion (which I have a growing collection of, and do use frequently as well) and about a million times better than using that tiny plastic container the pins come in (a recipe for disaster if you live with a curious cat!).  Magnets are where it's at.  I snagged this one off my fridge...I made a set recently from some wooden alphabet and number blocks that were once part of a children's toy (on the opposite side they say things like "W Whale" with a little whale illustration.

This is my blouse before I made the buttonholes and sewed on buttons!  It's complete now and I'll have to take a finished photo soon.

Here's to my new sewing goals!  What creative goals (not "resolutions" but you may use that term if you must) do you have for the new year?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

happy thanksgiving


Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you had a nice holiday.  Corey and I have both been off work since Wednesday and enjoying every minute.  We cooked a huge Thanksgiving feast for just the two of us, and have been savoring all of the leftovers since Thursday.  This is what we had (labeled above for my ongoing holiday plate photo collection): Tofurky (of course!), mashed potatoes and cashew gravy, homemade dinner rolls, sweet potato casserole, roasted vegetables, and cornbread stuffing.  Oh, and apple crisp for dessert!  I tried a lot of new recipes and was really happy with each of them.  Here are links if you're interested:

Cashew Gravy (so delicious, a repeat favorite of ours)

I cut some of the sugar from the apple crisp and sweet potato casserole, and did not miss it at all.  I was pleased with the healthfulness of all our dishes!

The next morning, I started to work on my holiday cards.  Last year, I had my go-to printer do them for me (from my design) but this year decided to screen print them.  I'm not quite done but will finish up today!  The design is simple but fun, and I did thank-you cards too for post-holiday thank-you notes.  As you can see, Millie loves helping me screen print.  I don't have many screens right now (2--and both are better for using on fabric--basically the mesh is more open so more ink is deposited which is better for fabric than paper, and while they work on paper, it's hard to get fine details to print) and am thinking of ordering this six pack of screens so I can have multiple designs exposed at once without always having to wash out my screens.  I wish they offered slightly smaller screens though, because I have limited space for washing them out.  I really want to expand my Etsy shop in the direction of screen printed items.  I have a lot of ideas and after a year and a half of screen printing under my belt, I'd say I'm proficient enough for the challenge!  What types of screen printed items would you be interested to see in my shop (prints, fabric, cards, sewn items...etc.)?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

speaking about the job search

Hello, blog.

It has been awhile.

Truthfully, I haven't missed blogging very much.  I'm not sure that I have had the time to miss it.  Sometimes I have a thought that I know I want to write down, and I don't, and I think of this space, but that's really it.

Not so long ago, I was truly overloaded with my thesis work.  When I finally finished, the relief barely set in before it was time for graduation.  (I have my MFA, hurray!)  After graduation, it was time for my first solo art show.  And after that, I moved my art-making things into a new studio and darkroom with my grad school colleague Steve.  And after that, the new school year started, and I found myself teaching two college classes and an elementary school class, rushing to my studio to make my own work on my days off and fitting in the fun things I love to do, after two years of being bogged down by grad school (hello, figure skating, so nice to see you in my life regularly again).  And now, it's Thanksgiving break (woohoo!) and I'm in serious job application mode, looking to transform my professional life from lowly adjunct to full time professor (dreaming big here) or at least something full time.  In my field.

I'm thinking of ways I might use this space now, or contemplating starting a new blog.  I need somewhere anonymous to write about my job search (proper nouns left out, of course).  Mostly I just need to process the negative feelings, the ones that hit me every day saying, "You could have chosen something SO much more practical!  What have you done!  Everyone wants these jobs, and there are so few of them!  You're only a few months out of grad school, why will anyone choose you?"  They are met with positive ones that say, "If you really set your mind to this, and don't give up, eventually you'll get there!  Don't sweat it!  What's a few years in the grand scheme of your life?"

I used to have a wonderful art history professor who would say a line like that.  She would say, "What's a few dollars in the grand scheme of your life?"  She would say it in reference to travel, or going to see something you really want to see at a museum, or other cultural things.  Basically anything you want to do that's meaningful to you, when a few dollars is going to stop you for some silly reason.  "What's a few dollars in the grand scheme of your life?"  You won't look back and be glad that you're $5, $20, $50 richer.  You'll regret not having the experience.

It's the same way for me right now.  What's a few more years in the grand scheme of my life?  If you asked me my first year of college if I'd have an awesome career job by the time I turned 26, I would have been absolutely, ecstatically positive.  Of course I'd have the job I wanted!  I'm smart, dedicated, I work hard, I pursue my goals until I reach them.  Of course I wouldn't be sitting on my futon (I'd be sitting on a couch, duh), holding my breath and constantly wondering if I'll get enough classes to teach next semester to get by without getting a second job, holding my breath even harder wondering if I'll be hired somewhere full-time for fall.  Of course I wouldn't.  I would just have an awesome job, doing something I love, and that would be that.

I was very idealistic at age 18.  And what I realize now is that it's just not always that easy to do something you love.  It doesn't mean you're a failure, to see others you went to school with in other fields buying lovely houses and traveling and having awesome careers already.  It means that you picked something that's harder to break in to, and you're just gonna have to suck it up and try a little harder, just a little longer than the next person who is trying equally as hard.  You're gonna have to keep on making art, no matter what, keep expanding your portfolio, applying for shows, going to conferences, talking about art, being immersed in art, teaching art until it works out.  Not because you send out a hundred applications and hope, just hope, that someone takes a chance on you.  No.  Because you send out those applications knowing that there is not one word that could be edited better in all your cover letters, your CV is perfectly formatted and without a single typo, your references are glowing, and knowing those schools could really use your expertise as a researcher and as an educator.  So at least I know, if I don't get the job I want yet (because I will keep trying until I do) it is not because I did not do everything right.  I will not halfway do this thing.  I am determined.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

updates from the studio

Dear Readers,

I love you all. I really do. Just knowing you are out there, eagerly awaiting my posts (at least, this is how I envision it!), makes me oh-so-happy...and yet, lately, a little sad. Sad because I have not been delivering those posts to you with my regular enthusiasm.

The reason is the same as it has been for awhile now: school. Sometimes it feels like a tired excuse, but it really is the truth. I've had to let go of some things temporarily in order to be able to keep up with school as I creep closer and closer to the finish line. Although I'm not graduating until June, my thesis exhibit work is due in 39 days! That is so soon! Aside from putting so much energy into making the body of work I'll be partially exhibiting, I've also been writing the written thesis, keeping up with the four (Yes...four...I'm a crazy lady!) classes I'm taking, and teaching one class.

I've put regular blogging on hold until April 4--the day I turn in my thesis work, but I'll be around periodically to check in. I thank you for your patience during this time and hope you will continue reading once I do return for good! I have so many ideas running through my head of things I would like to post about here, and things I would like to make that aren't part of my thesis work, and exactly how I am going to expand my Etsy shop this many ideas and goals that I am really excited about! I just have to keep on keeping on with school right now and put these ideas on the back burner for a few months longer.

For now...just a few peeks inside my studio:

First of all, I'll give you one image. Just one! From my thesis body of work. I don't want to give away all my surprises but I will have you know this is one of my favorites so far, so feel lucky:

It's called Color of the Year. It's based on...the Pantone color of the year, tangerine tango. Yes, I am a color geek! And yes, that is my hand, and I did paint my fingernails as close to tangerine tango as I could manage to find (Pantone should make nail polishes...!?). This image isn't just about the color, but I'll wait to go into more detail about content.

I've been shooting my images with a 4"x5" camera! I'm in love. The sample you just saw above is digital--my film is still waiting for me to process it. Just FYI.

A peek at my random studio items...paint that I used for the Pantone color photograph, a super sweet vintage darkroom timer I recently acquired, only part of my growing vase collection, 12 days of Christmas glass that I was actually drinking from at that moment, film, etc.

And a recent thrift store find (even while busy, I go every Friday morning--it's my special treat!)...a camera bag for $1.91. I have another one just like it that is much smaller that can only hold a 35 mm point and shoot camera (it could hold a digital point and shoot if I had one). This one could hold two point and shoots, my Holga, or my Fuji Instax... modeled here. This is the perfect case for the Instax because the other two sections of the case would be ideal for holding extra film cartridges and developed Instax pictures! I love finding inexpensive vintage camera cases in good condition, because I am trying to expand my collection to fit a variety of needs. It's not always the best option to be lugging around my large camera bag. These small, hard cases, are also great for storage and keeping my cameras dust-free. After my thesis is done I want to spend a lot of time organizing my home studio and coming up with better storage options overall...I am excited to get more use out of my space once I no longer have a studio at school.

That's it for now! Thanks for reading, and I promise I won't be gone forever!


Friday, February 10, 2012

tutorial: make your own valentine's day candy!

I love certain holidays. I love Valentine's Day possibly because I love the color red and I think hearts are adorable. An excuse to make cute stuff that's red with hearts on it? I'm in!

For a few years when I was in college, my circle of artsy/crafty friends would have outdoor craft sales a few times a year. One of my favorite traditions is that we'd have one just before Valentine's Day. And I would always make these chocolate hearts to sell. This year I made them to take to a Valentine's Day party that my friends Jessica and Chris are hosting tomorrow. I'm really excited for it! We have been instructed to wear red and pink, and I think I've come up with the perfect outfit. I'll be sure to post pictures.

This candy is delicious, easy, adorable, and at least as affordable as buying a big bag of already-made Valentine's Day candy. I already had most of the supplies I needed, but even if you don't, there's not too much to wrangle up.

- heart molds--I use silicone ice cube trays! You could also buy real candy molds.
- chocolate--I use Ghiradelli chocolate chips. Whatever you do, no almond bark!
- add-ins--I made a batch with espresso beans and a batch with graham cracker pieces. You could stir in anything small.
- tiny bags--I bought mine at a craft store in the jewelry making area.
- colorful cardstock
- stapler

Step 1: Melt your chocolate. If you are using big pieces, chop it up. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 25 second intervals, stirring in between. Be careful not to overheat/burn it! You could also use a double boiler, if you lack a microwave or want to feel more like a real candy maker.

Step 2: It might be time to stir in your add-ins. It depends on what they are. For my graham cracker pieces batch, I stirred in the graham crackers at this point. For my espresso beans batch, I placed 2 espresso beans in each heart by hand. Use your judgement here.

Step 3: Time to use the molds. I bought these cute ice cube trays several years ago, allured by the idea of making heart-shaped ice. The ice cubes it makes are actually way too small, though--as in, you need to use almost a whole tray for one drink! I kept them around and eventually had the idea to make candy in them! You can always get real candy molds if you can't find any heart-shaped ice cube trays (though I think those are fairly common).

Step 4: Here you see how I dropped two espresso beans into each chocolate. I then pushed them down with my finger so that chocolate would cover them. You also want to shake the trays from side to side to make the chocolate fall down into place and eliminate air bubbles. You don't have to fill each heart completely, depending on how big your tray is. Mine makes a piece of chocolate that just feels slightly too big if I fill it all the way.

Step 5: After pouring the chocolate, I let it cool in the freezer. Otherwise, it takes a long time to become solid (a reason why people use almond bark...but don't do it! just read the's not real chocolate and it doesn't taste like real chocolate).

Step 6: Once my chocolates were cool, I immediately put them in my tiny plastic baggies. I left the baggies unzipped until the chocolates reached room temperature, to avoid condensation on the insides of the bags.

Step 7: I then got to work designing some labels. I did a very simple design using MS Word. It included a dingbat heart shape from the font Webdings, Happy Valentine's Day in a script font I downloaded awhile ago, and a description of the candy (very important warning in this case for those who don't like coffee! eep!). I printed them out on red cardstock, cut them out, folded them in half...

Step 8: ...and stapled them in place. Adorable! Now wasn't that easy?

Now I need to decide if I will make these for all of my students, or buy them pre-made candy...I promised them candy for Monday (we don't meet on Tuesdays)!

How will you be celebrating Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 06, 2012

where does a week go?

Oh, blog friends...where does a week go? I am so looking forward to graduating in a few months (also simultaneously dreading it, for other reasons). The plus side of things: I am learning so, so much, and always moving forward. Downside: I rarely have time to relax, and must do work for school seven days a week! Yikes!

On Saturday, I learned the historic photographic process of wet plate collodion! It was really awesome to learn. At my school, every year the art department awards two post-MFA fellowships to selected artists who have completed their MFA in the past few years. The post-MFA fellows get to teach a few classes and make their work in our facilities for one year. This year one of the post-MFA fellows, Heather, is in the photo area! She specializes in historic processes such as wet plate collodion, and is doing a wet plate collodion workshop in two weeks. I volunteered to help at the workshop, so I got trained on the process a little early with the other volunteers (three fellow grad students).

It's difficult to explain in a few sentences what wet plate collodion is, especially with a wide audience of readers with varying photo knowledge, so if you are interested to know, take a look at the Wikipedia article here. We learned how to mix the chemistry, coat the plates, take and develop the image, and varnish the plate! All in one day. It was a magical, mad science photo time. I took some snapshots of us working but I used a 35 mm camera and haven't developed them yet...sorry! I'm a little behind on everything at the moment, so snapshot development gets pushed to the bottom of my list. I'll post them soon. Also, the whole day was spent mostly just learning the process, and I only made images on two plates, which I then ruined while learning to varnish them. So I'll also post my wet plate collodion images after the workshop. I have some awesome ideas!

Yesterday, I spent half the day cleaning my apartment and half the day doing a take-home essay test. I feel relieved to have both of those things done! My apartment was definitely suffering since I've been telling myself not to worry about it and just to focus on school. It feels so nice and clean now! I am thinking of painting a few rooms new colors soon and I may post pictures here and ask for your opinions. I'm ready for a new look! To anyone else going through a stressful time...if your living space isn't as clean as you usually keep it, do not blame yourself! It will be okay. Just avoid having people over for a few weeks, and focus on your work! I don't feel like we get this permission from many people/places, so I just want to throw that out there for those of you who need it. I felt really guilty that my apartment was so messy when I was so busy, and I think I should have just cut myself some slack! Yes, I function better when my home is clean...but everyone has limits!

Take home essay test...took me a little over 5 hours, and ended up being 7 pages of writing (6-10 was the required length)! Oh my goodness. Did I mention how I can't wait to graduate!? Let me clarify here...I love learning. LOVE IT. I wouldn't still be in school if I didn't. I would just like to have a little more free time on my hands. The class I was writing for is an art history course on the history of video's very interesting! lately we have been learning about guerilla television, which I find very intriguing because I am interested in learning about counter-cultural movements. Check out some footage from this video we watched from this group from the 1970s called the Videofreex:

The Videofreex were an artist collective based out of a small town called Lanesville, New York, where they ran the first pirate television station (for six years!), since Lanesville couldn't pick up any regular channels. Pretty ingenious!

Okay, that's all I have for today...I'm currently dreaming of summer when I'll have time to sew and garden and make things and sit outside in the will be so wonderful! Until then, school school school! Going out with a bang. That's how it should be.

p.s. Welcome new readers from the Comment Love Challenge!!! Leave me a comment and I will check out your blog!

p.p.s. Millie-cat says, "Get off the computer and play with me, already!"

...and she follows that up with an I-mean-it look!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

second vlog & february comment love challenge!

Hey, everybody! I am feeling so on top of things because yesterday I had an amazing day! I had my review with my thesis committee first thing in the morning and it went really, really well. I got some helpful feedback and positive encouragement, which is all I could have asked for. Oh, and I passed! Later in the day, a few other good things happened as well...I made a vlog in order to tell you a little about them:

If you want to know how Nick Offerman was, stay tuned for a more detailed post later this week! Now, to talk about the blog challenge I mentioned, which officially starts tomorrow, February 1st...

I have teamed up with three of my favorite blogs, Desirous of Everything, Edison Rex, and Tamara Like Camera, to bring you the Comment Love Challenge! The four of us have talked about how awesome it feels as a blogger to receive comments on posts.
We want to feel like our posts are read and appreciated, of course, and the best affirmation of that is receiving comments.

So what exactly is the Comment Love Challenge? The challenge lasts from February 1st to February 14th. Anyone can sign up, and the goal is for each participant to comment on at least 3 blogs a day for 14 days straight! The blogs you comment on do not have to be other participating blogs from the challenge, but exploring the blogs of other participants is encouraged. We especially encourage you to check out and even follow the four of us, since we're hosting the challenge!

Besides receiving new followers and lots of comments, you'll be entered in a giveaway to win Elsie Larson's Blog Love E-Course! simply by completing the challenge and making 42 comments! Thanks so much to A Beautiful Mess for sponsoring our challenge. We will also feature the participant who makes the most comments throughout the challenge.

Imagine how many new readers you'll get through completing the challenge! And how many new blogs you'll discover! Sounds great, right? Are you interested? First, add your blog to the link-up! Then, post this Comment Love Challenge in your side bar. That's it, then you're in! Keep track of your comments with plain old pen and paper. We're trusting the honor system here.

Comment Love Challenge

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

progress report!!

Millie "helping" me write my thesis.

I just sent the first draft of my thesis to my advisor!!!!!

It felt SO good to press send!

It is not as long as my goal, BUT it's longer than the minimum requirement, and I still have several things to add for draft 2! So I think when all is said and done everyone will be perfectly okay with my page count.

Now to get all my new images ready for my review on Monday! It's going to be a long weekend but I feel relieved to have this big step out of the way!

48 questions

Keeping the 48-questions trend going! Thanks, Sarah!

1. What time did you get up this morning?
6:45...I set my alarm for 6:00 but I just couldn't get up!

2. How do you like your steak? I am a vegetarian and the last time I had steak was probably sometime around 8+ years ago!

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Last week I went to a night of short films involving contemporary dance, as homework for my ballet class. It was really good! My favorite one isn't online or I'd link you to it.

4. What is your favorite TV show? That's a loaded question because it makes me think of every tv show I have ever loved. My favorite ever is Gilmore Girls. My favorite that's on the air right now I think would be...dun dun dun...Parks and Recreation! A year ago I would have said The Office but without Michael it's just not the same. Of course, I still watch though. I only started Parks and Rec last month but I'm sort of obsessed now. I'm actually going to watch Nick Offerman do stand up on Monday at my school! It will be my post-committee-review gift to myself.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Italy, hands down!

6. What did you have for breakfast? Coffee, more coffee, and peanut butter toast.

7. What is your favorite food? I have a lot. Let me list a few for you: clementines, avocados, olives, cashews, chickpeas, salad, tomatoes, eggplant, peaches...the list keeps going.

8. Foods you dislike? Meats, of course. Bleu cheese...just learned this last week. I rarely, rarely, rarely eat cheese. Like, less than once a week. So when I do I want it to be an awesome cheese I love. But I treated myself to some fancy gourmet salad last week and mistakenly though that bleu cheese was similar to feta cheese, my favorite cheese ever...lesson learned, it is NOT similar!

9. Favorite place to eat? My favorite in Columbus are Hal and Al's vegan bar and Whole World vegetarian restaurant...nothing beats being able to eat anything on the menu! I also like sampling various restaurants' falafel sandwiches, and comparing them.

10. Favorite dressing? Anything mustard-y and also, lately, poppyseed. I also make a mean balsamic vinaigrette!

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? I feel weird talking about this in my blog, especially since parts were stolen from my car a few weeks ago! I think I'm just gonna pass?

12. What are your favorite clothes? Skinny jeans, tights, skirts just above the knee, cardigans, pashminas, ballet flats, fun prints and pops of bright color. That encapsulates my look. Lately I am really obsessed with peter pan collars and I want some shirts with them.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? I would go back to Italy in a heartbeat. I would also visit pretty much anyplace else 'cause I love traveling and I love going anywhere, it doesn't have to be a typical touristy travel spot.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Amanda once said, when I was in her high school English class, that whether the cup is 1/2 empty or 1/2 full depends on if the cup started empty or started full. I think that is pretty accurate.

15. Where would you want to retire? When I retire I hope to live on a small farm!

16. Favorite time of day? Morning, easily.

17. Where were you born? Arkansas!

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? The only sport I watch is figure skating (and I don't very often anymore). I also make a point to watch cross country skiing during the winter Olympics. Other than that, I am not very sports-oriented and it honestly takes a lot of effort not to be annoyed with people who are! I know that's so bad.

19. What is your favorite fragrance? Warm vanilla sugar from Bath and Body Works...I'm a sucker for it. I hate all their other fragrances. I would like to find a more eco-friendly substitute, maybe something handmade off Etsy. Feel free to recommend.

20. What is your favorite face cream? I use Aquaphor face lotion during the day, with SPF 30, and at night I use almond oil! It's great for dry skin and Ohio will do that to you.

21. Favorite baby/kids products? Whaaaat does this mean? I really like apple juice. Is that a kid's product? I also like Lisa Frank stuff. And Hello Kitty.

22. People watcher? Yes, I have to apologize to people I go get coffee with for getting distracted people watching.

23. Are you a morning or night person? Morning.

24. Do you have any pets? Millie the cat!

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share? Mmmmmm...nope! Nothing that I can think of.

26. What did you want to be when you were little? For awhile I wanted to be a teacher (and now that's what I want to be! and am, temporarily...hopefully permanently within a few years, if that makes sense...although when I was younger I wanted to be a grade school teacher), then a writer, then a marine biologist, then a fashion designer, then a photographer. Now I want to be a photographer/photography teacher and on the side I have been learning to screen print because I have dreams of designing my own fabrics and sewing things out of them. I also still like to write and do often, just not in the same ways as before. So I am basically living a mix of all my dreams except the marine biology one. I still love the water and I'd love to have my own boat one day.

27. What is your favorite memory? I have so many. I'm very memory-oriented.

28. Are you a cat or dog person? Both! I don't have a dog though. But someday I will.

29. Are you married? No.

30. Always wear your seat belt? Of course. Always!

31. Been in a car accident? Once.

32. Any pet peeves? When my students show up late for my class and make me lose my train of thought mid-sentence! Today I had 6 late students, coming in one by one...I was so upset by the last one and told them, "You'd all better start getting to class on time!" Can you imagine me being mean? No, me either... :( But I'm not a pushover!

33. Favorite pizza toppings? Any veggies!

34. Favorite flower? Zinnias, sunflowers, carnations.

35. Favorite ice cream? Riesling Poached Pear sorbet from Jeni's ice cream in Columbus! It's so good.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant? Fast food's not very veggie friendly.

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test? None!

38. From whom did you get your last email? The art department secretary.

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Hmmm...a photography store! I would like to finally get all the equipment I need and be done instead of getting it piece by piece!

40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Making that video blog on Monday was spontaneous!

41. Like your job? Yes! Unfortunately it ends when I graduate so I'm looking for things to apply for now! Eep.

42. Broccoli? Love it!

43. What was your favorite vacation? Study abroad! Best trips far, anyway. I hope to travel more when I start making the big bucks (ha). Or at least just a little more than I do now.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with? Corey!

45. What are you listening to right now? Big trucks outside digging up the gas lines.

46. What is your favorite color? I have a lot of favorite colors. They include, but are not limited to: mint, teal, mustard, bright red, white, gray, caramel, the color blue that the ocean is on world maps.

47. How many tattoos do you have? Zero.

48. Coffee drinker? I probably couldn't live without coffee.

Monday, January 23, 2012

my first video blog

Thanks to Sarah and her Jumpsuit Friday vlogs, I've been inspired to make a video blog! I hope it entertains you a little bit. Topics include vlogging and what it feels like to talk to the camera, grad school, and big cookies. Thanks for watching!

p.s. If you've had trouble leaving comments lately, they should be fixed now! I could not figure out what was wrong with them, but they are magically better. So, comment away and I shall write you back!

Monday, January 16, 2012

streamlining research

I've been working really hard today on all of my stuff (off school for MLK Day), but I just wanted to take a short break to post this quick tip for research. Again, this may be most beneficial for other students but I think everyone could find a use for this.

Have you noticed that on Amazon you can search through many books before buying them? Duh, Kristen, of course we have noticed...that is so last decade! Okay. Well, then you know that you can view a small sampling of pages this way. I used to only use this to determine if I was interested in a book or not, and I still think that is a great use for this feature.

However! I have found an even more exciting way to use this. When you click on the "Click here to look inside!" book cover, the familiar little window pops up, and you'll see on the left side bar "Search Inside This Book." I used to think this would only search those pages available in the short preview of the book.

But! I recently realized this actually searches the entire book for your chosen keywords! Not all of the pages are available for you to click on, obviously, but the search will give you a list of page numbers with phrases that include those key words. In my scholarly writing I have found this is a great tool to use in addition to having the physical book in my hands. If I didn't make proper notes when reading, can't find the note I made, or do not intend to read the entire book, I can do a keyword search to find exactly the pages I need!

Maybe only those as nerdy as I am will be fascinated and excited by this, but honestly I think it is amazing! Go grab a book off your shelf and try it out over at

Sunday, January 15, 2012

throwing caution to the wind vs. being cautious of the wind

Sometimes, it is a good idea to throw caution to the wind. Leave things to chance! Don't worry! Fly by the seat of your pants! But notice I said, sometimes this is a good idea. Sometimes it is a better idea to be as cautious as possible.

Being in the middle of writing my thesis, I can tell you I have learned a few things along the way in this seemingly-never-ending academic career of mine. Today I will share two tips that I believe can benefit every person, not just students. These might seem like no-brainers when you read them, but sometimes a nice little reminder can be good.

1. When you are working electronically, back up your files. You've heard this before, right? Well, do you do it? I hear of people losing important files all the time. They knew better. But they didn't back them up. The two most common excuses? I was too busy and I didn't think it would happen to me. Well, stop being too busy to insure something of such great value to you (seriously, backing up files requires you to click, click, click, then wait for the transfer to have enough time for a click, click, click?) and stop thinking nothing bad will ever happen to your computer because something eventually happens to every computer, and that's just the way the world works (yes, even yours, you Mac users who are reading).

It is always a good rule to back up your files, but becomes especially important when you are working on a Big Project with a Specific Deadline. Normally, I back up all of my photographs and important documents once a month on two separate hard drives--as a photographer in the digital age (though I still often use film) I really cannot afford to take chances with my work! One of these hard drives never leaves my desk area at home, and the other can travel with me to places like school, the library, etc. I leave photographs that haven't been backed up yet on my camera's memory cards--I never delete photographs from my memory cards the moment I load them onto my computer.

I also try to leave back-ups at my parents' house when I visit (I forgot this last time, oops!). This can be done on a DVD (non-archival CDs and DVDs don't last forever though, be warned) or a flash drive, or another external hard drive if you have a lot of important stuff. You couldleave this spare copy at any trusted friend's home. This is important in case of fire, theft, etc. In the worst case scenario,--may it never happen--I simply would not want to lose all of my data, which includes all of my college and grad school papers, all of my image files since 2005, and more.

A third option for back-up is storing your files on the internet. You can now upload files to "the cloud" through various hosts. I haven't taken advantage of this yet but I would really like to for my most valuable files. You can also e-mail things to yourself! I do this all the time as a temporary way of backing up my files. My thesis in progress? You can bet I'm e-mailing it to myself every day when I finish writing! Why? If my computer crashes for any reason, I don't want to start over! I'm only fifteen days away from meeting with my committee and I don't want to have to pull out any excuses. Be prepared for anything.

Adorable kitty bookmark was a Christmas present from my friend Sara! From Ten Thousand Villages.

2. When you read, hear, watch, or in any other way encounter something that interests you, make a note! I have a lot of information to pull from for my thesis, and that's because in my everyday life, I take good notes. I make bookmarks when I find something online, I write in my sketchbook when a professor or colleague mentions something I should look up, and I scribble notes in the margins of books I own and on my bookmarks in library books. When you find something that is really intriguing to you, you'll have the tendency to think you will remember it much later without any physical reminders. Well, I'm here to tell you if you don't know already, that this time next week you will be thinking to yourself, What was that really important thing I read last week? Ugh, it was so interesting! At least, that's what happens to me when I forget to make a note of something! I don't use every note I make, but I am very, very grateful for the ones I do end up using. Even if you aren't in the middle of writing a thesis paper, if you write other things, consider yourself a creative type, or just want to enrich your life, I promise taking notes will benefit you.

I hope these two tips are helpful to some of you! Now, if you haven't backed up your computer in over a year, go do it right now!! What are you waiting for?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

getting started

Dear readers, I must offer my apologies for not posting as much as I'd like to lately. As some of you know, I have only two quarters of grad school left until I graduate--hurray! That is exciting news. The less exciting part is that I am right in the middle of writing and producing my thesis this quarter! I suppose that's actually really exciting when you think about it, but it doesn't feel that way when you're in the middle of it.

What does "writing and producing" my thesis mean, exactly? I feel like I should explain it a little more, since every degree is different. Since I'm getting my masters degree in fine art, that means I'll produce a body of art work to be shown in a group exhibition in April with my colleagues. The written part of the thesis is the paper I write about that body of art. The hardest thing is working on the art and the paper at the same time! Since my program is so short (2 years) it's almost impossible to escape this overlap. The best thing is that I'll be done by spring quarter and can spend that last quarter making awesome work while not being super stressed out!

Coming up on January 30th, I have a review with my thesis committee (three of my professors). At that time, I am expected to be done with the first draft of my written thesis, and have in-progress pieces to show of the visual thesis. I was not in a huge hurry to start the written part for several reasons:

1. It's a paper and who gets in a hurry to start those? (Duh.)
2. I wanted to know exactly what my visual body of work would be before writing anything (less revising necessary this way).
3. It's not super long like you may be varies from person to person but my committee head advised me to aim for around 25-30 pages.

Yesterday, I finally got things in gear and started writing! The first page is always the hardest, isn't it? It is for me. Luckily, I made an outline to go by a few months ago, so I didn't have to worry about that before starting the actual writing process.

To help things along, I employed the writing method of my friend Sarah of Desirous of Everything. Sarah is an awesome YA fiction writer and is currently working on a manuscript. To stay on task, she makes calendars which she fills with stickers for each day that she reaches her goal of writing 500 words (which is every day, because she is so awesome at sticking to her plan!). I made a similar calendar on the wall above my desk for myself by dividing up my thesis into 15 2-page writing days. Today was day 2, and I have over 4.5 pages written! For each page I complete, I mark my progress with a sticker. It really does help me to look at the wall and know how much I have done and how much is left, and to see that I'm making progress. As long as I stick to my schedule, I'll be done with my draft in just 13 more days! How exciting. It's going to be nice not procrastinating and writing 30 pages the night before the draft is due...I mean...uh, not that I would do that... (I kid, I wouldn't write 30 pages in one night...but I would definitely procrastinate a big chunk without these mini daily goals).

I'll try to make more posts about what I've been up to lately! I just need to remember to carry my camera with me to document things. Once the thesis madness is over, I have huge plans for this blog and my Etsy store. I wish I had more time to put in sooner, but realistically I know I just don't. I really need to focus most of my attention on school for now. I'm glad a deadline is in sight, though! Until then, I'll make updates here about school and I hope you'll find them interesting.

Monday, January 09, 2012

don't worry, i got this

Recover from cold. Check!

Have car repaired. Check!

Catch up on approximately one million things I am behind on? Ah!

I can't blame the cold and car troubles for everything, but they did start a sort-of snow ball effect that has left me feeling frazzled and a little behind on just about everything. I'm trying my best to catch up and luckily, Millie helps me write essays for my art history class so I can focus on other things (I kid). Just look at her, she's saying, "Don't worry, I got this!"

My art history class this quarter is focused on video art, and Millie just loves watching Vito Acconci videos like this one. Who knew!

Writing essays, watching video art...I might be making her sound like a little prodigy. She still does the normal cat things too, not to worry. Oh, and she's afraid of oranges for some reason. She shudders and backs away at the sight of an orange.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

car parts and sniffles

I have oh-so-many posts planned!
New features! New ideas! New directions!
And oh-so-many things have been keeping me from writing here (and taking down my Christmas decorations...eeep!).
Stolen car parts, a cold, and school starting back up make the top of the list.

For today I'll leave you with this cute snippet from Christmas of me and my brother.
As soon as my sniffles die down I assure you I'll be back in full force.