Monday, November 12, 2012

Been Gone So Long.

Not that I have a regular posting schedule to begin with, but I've definitely missed writing for the last few weeks. It's been crazy, taking care of Mom in Ohio, funeral in Kansas, taking care of my house after being gone ten days, working, sleeping, another craft fair, and a visitor from Louisville. So finally, here I am, sitting in front of my computer, recapping my last three weeks.

Unfortunately, I have nothing else for you today, except that I'm hoping this will get me back into a habit of blogging.

Also: CURRENT PROJECT!! (capital letters make things seem more important)

Behold the workspace.


Later Kids!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Handmade Christmas: First Try

To tag on to my last post, I signed up for another craft show. (Indoor, this time. See? I'm learning!) Anyway, it's one of those XMAS XTRAVANGZA type shows, so to get myself in the spirit, and also just because I love Christmas, I'm about to write a string of blog entries about Handmade Christmas.

You might think, "Oh, this girl just wants to make all this stuff to sell it at her next show." You would be wrong. It's also because I'm super poor and cannot afford to buy Christmas decorations, so I'm stuck making all of my own. Fortunately, I am a well-educated liberal arts Art major, so I have the skills. (Yeah, take that "practical" majors.)

This week, my goal was to figure out how to make clay Christmas tree ornaments. As it turns out, it wasn't that hard. The mosaic pieces were a little tricky on the first one, but the balls retained their shape quite well. Plus, these clay ornaments are super hard to break! Which is even better, because the worst thing about glass Christmas ornaments is the whole shatter-when-they-drop-things. Nothing like having to pick up and vacuum 5 million tiny glass shards with sharp, stabby edges. Even if you managed to break one, these clay balls will not threaten to injure you. Yay!

A couple hours, and a little trial and error and Voila! My first tree ornaments! Two inches in diameter, hard to break, and they look good on my tiny Christmas tree!

Look at us! We're all fancy with our gold centers and lace background!

So the first set of three went off without a hitch, but my tiny Christmas tree was going to be pretty bare if I just stopped with the red ones. So I made gold ones, at about half the size of the first set. They were way easier, being smaller, since the mosaic surface area was a lot less. And I thought the gold and green was pretty together :)

Look here, we have a regal color pallette. We can't be bothered with your humdrum "holiday" musings.

So finally, I have enough ornaments made to decorate half of my 24 inch Christmas tree! Good thing I'm starting now. Anyway, here's my little tree, in all of his half-decorated glory. At least I'm doing better than Charlie Brown!

 Party on the Christmas tree!

 I ran out of funny captions for this guy...

Well, that's all for now. Tune in next time for another exciting edition of Whatever I Feel Like Writing! Just kidding, I really will keep writing about handmade Christmas stuff.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Weekend of Fun #1: Carbondale Street Fair

Hello, loyal readers (all three of you)!

I was hoping to get around to writing this sooner, but it's been pretty busy around here lately. I started work, had a couple eventful weekends in a row, and got another pet (RJ jr, but more on that later). But alas, Sam has to go to a dinner with his advisor, so now it's just me, my computer, and a glass of my favorite cheap moscato. What else is a girl to do except blog?

 Seriously, it's Barefoot Moscato. Sorry to all the wino's who are rolling their eyes right now.

So to catch up on all of the goings-on, two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of selling at my first craft fair ever! I spent whole week doing nothing but making mosaics from the show. Making earrings, necklaces, window mosaics, and business cards all morning, day, and evening! Sam was ready for it to be all over. My house fell into disarray; I stopped showering and sleeping; I started talking to myself and even making up alternate realities and storylines for all of my pieces!! Okay, that last sentence was a lie, but my house did get really messy.

And this was just my workstation. Imagine what the rest of the house looked like!

We finally got there, and it was a... learning experience. There were quite a few "less-than-ideal" things about the show, but they were mostly balanced out by something good. So, in typical Alyssa fashion, here's my list of the bad/good things about the show:

1) Not very many people came to the show, and most who did were there for the wine, BUT I did make over twice my entrance fee! Plus, everybody wanted to touch my mosaics, so at least I know they are interesting!
2) There was a weird giant metal wine glass in front of us, but all of the drunk people loved it and took pictures with it.

It's just a big wine glass! I don't get it!

3) The music was local and the first band consisted of high schoolers, but those kids were seriously talented.
4) It was extremely cold, but one of the wineries gave us warm sangria for sharing our power strip!
5) It was also super windy, but none of my displays blew over because they were just open frames!

 So there it is. My first craft show. All in all, I wouldn't trade it for the world. In fact, it was so not-terrible, I signed up for another show in November! All for now, later, kids!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Welcome Home, Comango!

This weekend Sam's parents came to visit. It was super great for several reasons, 1) they are fun to hang out with; 2) they made of lots of good food and also filled our fridge; and 3) THEY BROUGHT OUR PETS!!!

Granted, our pets are a fish and lizard. Not super cuddly, but they are still pretty cute, and I LOVE having animals around.

So, my friends, meet I Don't Know, Finn (Finn for short) and Comango.

As you can see, I Don't Know, Finn is a beautiful betta fish. He currently lives in a lovely little dish on our kitchen table. His hobbies are floating around in his bowl, eating fish pellets, looking at people as they move around the room, and occasionally making a bubble nest at the top of his dish.

 So regal.

He also seems to enjoy spending time with his fake plant and traveling from one end of his dish to the other. He's truly a joy to be around. His name is a story I'll tell some other time. Or maybe I won't. I don't really know.

 He loves that plant.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: Comango! He's an excellent desert gecko. He has fatty stores in his tail, and it looks like his head. Hence, Comango. Say it out loud, if I have to explain it to you anymore, it's not just worth it. Well, dear Comango enjoys sleeping in his cave, sleeping in the sand, sleeping near his rocks, and once in awhile, moving.

 Comango's Crib.

 He's a little cuddly!

His moving often involves crawling slightly outside of his cave and eating crickets. Unless the crickets wander in to his cave, in which case, he does not leave or really move at all. He's just the greatest lizard. He also has adorable feet.

What a sexy lizard!

The cutest feet!

Welcome home, guys! It's great to have you :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Nature Hike: The Perils of Carbondale

Many of you may know that I live in Southern Illinois. However, I'm not sure how many of you were aware of how "wild" parts of Southern Illinois are. But not to fear, I'm about to enlighten you.

This weekend, Sam and I went hiking in the little Grand Canyon. It's a 3.5-4 mile circular hike down a huge, steep hillside, through a creek bed, and back up another steep incline. On the way, there are a few overlooks that give some spectacular views.

For example, this view. Pretty cool.

The big views are hardly the reason Sam and I hike around here though.  Most of the trail is covered by trees and crowded with underbrush. And that's the easy part. Lots of places on the trail are literally just walking on the side of a cliff. The trail even goes straight down a tiered waterfall, with steps cut into the stone.  And, all of that is super cool too, but still not why Sam and I go hiking here.

Not kidding about the cliffs.

We go to hike the Little Grand Canyon because there are so many cool creatures there! Snakes, lizards, birds, fish, and a ton of toads and frogs! Everywhere you look, there are little animals. We're working on identifying some of them, but I think it's fun just to see them. Take this guy, for example. We saw three or four lizards of the same species, but this guy practically posed for a picture:

 "I'm sexy, and I know it."

And these fish came right up to us when we went to look at them. I hoped they just wanted to say "hi" like the animals in Snow White. When they all lunged for the rock I tossed in the water, we figured out it's probably just because they thought they were going to be fed...

Feeding wild fish probably isn't the best idea...

However, there is also danger lurking in the woods! We almost got eaten by a cottonmouth!!!! (Okay, fine. I'm not 100% sure this is a cottonmouth. And it also did not lunge, threaten, or bother us in anyway. We didn't even get closer than five feet to it. And it's definitely too small to eat us. But still. It COULD be dangerous!)

Look at him! Definitely, possibly venomous!

It was certainly an adventure. It's nice to be able to drive twenty minutes and be somewhere kinda wild. And that place, surprisingly enough happens to be in Southern Illinois.

Anyway, I have nothing else for you, except this cave that looks like a face going "aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh":

A big cave mouth, and little cave eyes!

 'Til next time!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Today is a good day.

Sigh. Guys, I have a problem. It's not an uncommon problem, but a serious one nonetheless. I was sitting in my quiet little living room feeling totally sorry for myself this morning. And every second, I came up with another reason to feel even sorrier for myself.

Seriously. Full-on pity party. Feeling bad that I don't have a job yet, feeling bad that we can't have a dog in this apartment, feeling bad that my coffee was getting cold and that wasn't very funny this morning. Then I started feeling bad that my living room doesn't have enough windows, and that I wished it was pomegranate season already and that Sam doesn't come back from work until 4:30 which is six whole hours from now and I have to be by myself until then. It started to get really ridiculous when I felt sad that my legs were sore from sitting and pouting all morning, and that I had six dishes in the sink to do, and that I should probably vacuum this week. (I obviously have a hard life.)

Finally, it got so ridiculous, that the living room couldn't even hold my sadness anymore, so I had to move to the sunroom.... And then I felt sad in the sunroom because it was messy from the last time I was in there, as I hadn't cleaned it up yet, and that I keep losing to Lance from the Elite Four because his dragon Pokemon are better than mine.

So, here I am in, in the throes of depression, when I heard an acorn outside the sun room. I looked up, and this is what I saw:

Now, it's a little hard to sit around and keep telling yourself how much life sucks when this is the view outside your windows. Especially when the sun is shining, there is a nice breeze, it's a beautiful 65-70 degrees, AND twin fawns just walked through our backyard with their mom. (Of course they freaked out when I opened the door, so I didn't get a picture, but you get the point.) 

 I really couldn't stay inside, so I went and walked around my yard for awhile, looking at the grass, listening to the birds, smelling the air, and generally having happiness forced upon me by Mother Nature.

I mean, THIS IS WHAT THE SKY LOOKS LIKE TODAY! How can you be grumpy when the sky looks like this?!

After that, I had to do a little re-evaluating. Perhaps my life doesn't totally suck. For example:

I am currently without a job, but I do have two interviews coming up, and I'm almost done applying to grad school.

I do have six dishes to do, but half of them are mine, and Sam did the dishes yesterday.

I have to vacuum, but most of the cat-hair from the previous owner is gone.

Sam is gone during the day, but I get to spend my whole evening with my best friend and greatest husband ever.

My legs felt a whole lot better when I actually stood up and did something.

We can't have a dog, but Sam's parents are bringing our lizard Comango to Carbondale in two weeks.

PLUS I live somewhere where I can fish five minutes down the road, hike for miles, and have adorable animals walk through my backyard everyday.

When I look at it that way, I suppose I was being a little ridiculous this morning. Okay, okay. I was being completely absurd. It's so easy to get caught up in feeling sad. All I have to do is sit and make excuses for why everything is wrong, and I'm not required to make any changes. Sometimes, what I really need to do is just stand up, look around, and realize that the forecast is really good.

So yeah. Actually my life is pretty great. Thank you, tiny deer, for reminding me.

P.S. To be fair, I do keep losing to Lance in Pokemon, but I guess it's not that important :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wall Hangings: Glimpses of Eccentricity

That title might be a little bold. But as I was looking around the house this morning, it occurred to me that we have some weird things showcased on our walls.

It started out innocently enough. I just wanted to make the house seem more lived-in, but Sam and I (okay, mostly me) like some weird things. Also, the whiteness of the walls has caused me to compulsively cover them with anything and everything I can find. (In fact, I ran out of 3M poster hanging tape today. I even put it on my grocery list, although it's probably for the best right now.)

Anyway, as I started going around and actually looking at all the things I have taped together on the wall, it started to get a little strange. Sure, it started out normal, but the typical "crazy cat-lady"only started with one mild-mannered cat too. Before you know it, she's covered in scratches, she can't find her tv remote under the fur shed all over, and she's got seven cats that sleep in her bed while she's demoted to the couch, (not unlike the girl who lived in this house before us.)

Exhibit #1: The Normal Things
Not everything on my wall is weird. I have some very typical things. Like this nice clock, or this picture frame full of people that I love.

Exhibit #2: Nature Things
This isn't weird either, not by my standards anyway. My husband is a fisheries major and we do to do things outside! It's perfectly reasonable that we would have a scientific fish poster, a witty "Fisherman Lives Here" sign, and a sentimental paper cut of a great outdoor scene. 

Exhibit #3: Alphonse Mucha?
Here we start to digress from the previous theme. Yes, I am an artist, but I get that an Alphonse Mucha design study doesn't really fit the mood we set. Weird? Not necessarily, but perhaps it is a little out of place. 

Exhibit #4: Old Winking Man?!
Seriously?! Where did this guy even come from? Why did I agree to hang him on my wall right above my computer? Why is he looking so seductively at everyone?! 

Exhibit #5: Pandas. There are pandas everywhere.
This is perhaps the most disturbing trend because I didn't realize it until recently. Yes, I have a lot of panda things, I always have. But I really did leave a lot of things at home when I moved! I only have two panda wall hangings. 

But as I started looking and cleaning, I discovered my walls are not the only place the pandas are lurking. On my night stand, my panda necklace....

Under my craft desk, a panda trash can....

And in my closet!!! The horror!!!!

Okay, so maybe the stuff on my wall isn't that weird. But the title says "eccentric," not weird. And it is definitely eccentric. Plus, the winking guy is totally weird. And I do have a potentially unhealthy amount of panda things. (Actually, I'm pretty excited about having the cute little guys with me all the time.)

Until my next update on the status of my house, (or whatever catches my fancy next time I feel like writing) I hope my pandas brightened your day :) 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Home is where the Pandas are (No, I don't mean China.)

As usual, I'm pretty much the worst at keeping a regular journal, blog, or really anything of the sort. But until I get my professional life all figured out and now that our apartment is pretty much settled, I suppose I have a lot of free time on my hands.

So, this is for you guys who've been asking for updated apartment pictures. Aside from just unpacking and putting things away, we've been trying to get as much color as possible into the place. The carpet is tan and the walls are white, and at first glance, it just feels... bland. But I think we've done pretty well since our move-in on August 17th. Here's a sampling of our space.

Exhibit #1 - The Breakfast Nook (currently the puzzle table, but we eat food here too):
It may not look like much, but it has a big window and lots of natural light. The best way to wake up in the morning!

Exhibit #2 - The Kitchen:
If you are thinking to yourself, "Wow that's a lot of stuff and not very much counter," you would be correct. But at least we have all the appliances we need for modern convenience! Plus, the cabinets are pretty new, and Sam and I don't take up too much space anyway. I like to think its cozy.

Exhibit #3 - The Living Room (a.k.a. the Nerve Center):
This is where I spend pretty much all of my time during the day. There are a bunch of window doors around so we get a lot of light, and the tv/couch is here. If you notice to the right, my craft table is also located in this area with my computer. So more specifically, that corner is where I spend most of my time during the day, either job searching (Meh...) or crafting (Yay!).

Exhibit #4 - The Bathroom (or "Room with that orange counter):
Yeah. this one didn't change much. The counter is still orange, and the walls are still white. But we did add a shelf! And it's much cozier with a rug and a panda towel.

Exhibit #5 - The Bedroom:
This room is still the least colorful one in the house. But that's because the bookshelf in the room is white and I haven't put many things on the walls. I like to think that the absurdly colorful comforter makes up for it though.

Exhibit #6 - Panda Rug:
It really ties the room together.

Alrighty, well, that was fun. I hope you enjoyed your visit to our humble, but homey abode! Now my mom can stop complaining about not having enough pictures :)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Why I'm Going to Miss This (Part one)

It recently dawned on me. (I know. I make this is a statement that I make a lot.) In this particular instance, it's the beginning of several revelations I have had about the fact that pretty soon, I will be leaving this little home I've made for myself in Hillsdale, Michigan. That's pretty sad in some ways, and most people probably don't want to think about it yet since we are still in January, but I like to confront things early. We all know it's coming, so I suppose, with so many others in America whining about their worthless college experience and mounds of debt, this is just my way of trying to understand what really has transpired in my time here. Also, my sorority, Pi Beta Phi, recently picked up a new member class of 18 awesome young women. All but one of them are freshmen. This will be the last class to join any sorority on campus before I graduate in May. And now I feel old. Not just old, but nostalgic. It's kinda funny, because I spend a decent amount of time complaining about ALL the things. But really, the last four years have been good for me. So, this post is going to go with academics since it's the easiest to quantify, and also the least emotional thing I could talk about, when it comes to graduating and moving on with my life.

First, in every way, my high school did not give me any of these feelings. I absolutely couldn't wait to get out. Being a senior after a depressing summer and a hard junior year felt like an extra year of slavery tacked on to my servitude to a place that didn't particularly care much about me as long as I gave them great test scores, a lot of tuition money, and kept my angsty, rebellious opinions to myself. Which I did, mostly because it was helping me plot my escape.

College has been very different for me. A humbling experience in the way of hard work, if nothing else. I came in, after doing almost no work in high school and still managing to graduate as a valedictorian (something that seems less and less impressive each passing second, considering there were nine of us, and well, it was high school.) Nonetheless, I was convinced of my personal brilliance. I had never not gotten an A in a class before, but this was Hillsdale, and I knew my grades wouldn't be as good anyway. So I went about my business, putting slightly more than minimal effort into my schoolwork, just so long as I could keep my scholarships.

It worked for a little while. And then I had a wake-up call.
1) I took Bio 300 which was about 10000x harder than I thought it would be. Also, my interest in it was almost nonexistent. And I did not do well, even on my "just get a B" standard.
2) All these people around me excelled at school, learning things, working hard, being stressed, etc, and here I was. Just chilling. Swimming, working, but not really terribly concerned. Basically, I was slacking to the max, and I started feeling a little bored, and a little worthless.
3) My Dad threatened to make me pay more of my school if I didn't get better grades, which was even better motivation than any personal reason, especially at first.

Unsurprisingly, the next semester went extremely well for me. And once you have one good semester like that, it gets a little addictive. I like to excel at things, and I like to win, and getting really good grades sort of feels like "winning" at school, so I couldn't stop. (Yes, shallow, I know.)

Now, that's a long tangent, but it's really not the point. The point is, I have learned a lot. In the last two years especially, I have learned A LOT.

Once I started putting work into my education, I started feeling attached to it. Like I was actually doing something worthwhile with my time, not just with my artwork, but with my more intellectual pursuits here too. I also learned that I am not a very smart person. It took me two years to discover that hard work in school is a good thing. Most people had that figured out in middle school. (What can I say? I'm stubborn.)

Also, I have these people called professors who hand out information and challenges like it's their job! (Oh wait.) As I started paying attention, I started discovering so many things, about how to learn, how to think, how to be curious and present problems and solutions for yourself. I started grasping the idea of learning for personal growth and not for some letter or number on a paper. I liked thinking, and I liked discovering, and I liked learning. After I leave this place, I'm going to have to figure out how to do all of that on my own, which is kinda scary. But, at the same time, it's exciting, because being at Hillsdale, I learned how to learn, from friends and family just as much as professors.

So, basically. I'm going to miss all of that. I'm not going to talk about missing people, or memories like that now, because that will make me a little bit sad. And talking about learning and thinking and all of that is basically emotionless. Woo. Sorry I'm not sorry if you find this boring or wonder why I have to talk about school in my free time, while I'm putting off the 8,000 other projects I could be doing. Also, if you are reading this, I'll probably see you later, and have a nice day.