A few months ago, I went to Universal Studios Florida with some friends—mainly to visit Hogwarts. (These are the same friends that I made the Yule Ball costumes for last year. We do love us some HP.) We had an amazing time, as expected, and so I have memorialized some of my favorite parts of our trip in a cut-paper diorama, as expected.
Featured scenes include the Jurassic Park water ride, chasing the Lorax through Suessland for a photo op, the guys getting stuck on the broken E.T. ride for 20 minutes, the Red Rip Ride Rocket or whatever it’s called (by far the Best Rollercoaster Ever Made), and—of course—Hogwarts, Weasleys’ joke shop & Gringott’s Bank), as well as the Hogwarts Express that connected Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.
The green Hulk rollercoaster is attached to the bottom of the box. It’s also a great rollercoaster, but the inside of the box was too crowded for a second one. I really needed a bigger box tbh, but I wanted to incorporate this particular box, because it came from the St. Augustine Distillery, where we stopped for a tour and some samples en route to Hogwarts. I highly recommend you pop in there if you enjoy adult beverages and are in that part of Florida.
I am proud to say that I have recently increased my moose knowledge by about 98% due to an almost-direct encounter with moose-kind. While visiting Lake Massasecum in New Hampshire last month, I witnessed a moose swimming across the 409-acre lake. Said moose seemed to be criss-crossing randomly, but moving at a rather determined pace. While watching breathlessly through binoculars, I began to question the moose’s motives. And then, being a worrier, I began to worry about the moose.
I went to Maine a few weeks ago and stayed with a friend in a rustic cabin on a small organic farm and creamery. It was a magical experience, and my life goals are much more in focus in now. Goats are definitely in my 5 Year Plan. But first… I’ll need a house.
From my travel sketchbook, here’s a scene from the (highly recommended airBnB) Hamilton Farm & Barred Owl Creamery in Whitefield, Maine:
When the zoo closes and all the people go home, the animals clock out from their jobs as species ambassadors and diplomats. Some like to unwind at Furry McMurray’s, an all-animal pub on the north side of the zoo. It is a very chill place.
The sloth arrived 45 minutes ago and has just made her way to the bar. She would like to order a sloe gin fizz please. No rush though—take your time.
And this is what I’ve been working on since my last post, when I wasn’t randomly visiting goat farms, making cheese* or working as an ambassador for my species. I’ve been doodling animals with beverages and animals doing people things for quite a while now, and there’s a bit of a backstory developing. There’s an air hockey table that the otters especially enjoy…
All the random little drawings in my sketchbooks are coalescing into a cohesive Thing. This could be a goal, even… more on that story as it unfolds.
*YASSS, I have acquired the ability to make cheese in my kitchen. #lifechanging Also more on that—and the goats—later, I’m sure.
So I’m just gonna come right out and say it—the thing I previously thought impossible, inconceivable, that I cannot believe I am now saying: The show is better than the book.
And keep in mind that the book won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1962, and perhaps at the time it was groundbreaking work. Dick draws on his personal experiences with mental breakdowns and fugue states, and there a few passages in the book where he paints the confusion of a disjointed mind in particularly vivid detail. His portrayal of the solo female character—Juliana, however, has not aged very well. She is vain, shallow, superficial, and rather annoying. She’s a 2-dimensional plot device and a pawn, and seems to have no free will or motivations of her own (apart from being pretty). ugh.
The Amazon original show has done a great job of taking Phillip K. Dick‘s fascinating premise and expanding the characters, weaving in new subplots and further intrigues. In the book, the plot-driving MacGuffin is a novel—a book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, while in the show, TGLH is instead a series of film reels. ha. I thought was a rather clever twist of artistic license.
PKD had an astounding imagination, and I love the movies based on his work– Total Recall, Minority Report, Blade Runner,A Scanner Darkly, but this is the first book of his that I’ve read. It’s one of earlier ones, so I’ll try another one soon. Hopefully he learned to write women better, (but given what I know of his relationship history, he probably didn’t) and even so, other elements of his work are strong enough to warrant giving a pass to the ubiquitous and dated sexism of the early 60s.
This has been another installment of my ongoing BookCover Project, begun in late 2015, wherein I endeavor to design covers for every book I read.
Back in early December, our local Barnes & Noble store hosted a Harry Potter-themed Yule Ball event. Being the geeks that we are, we got excited… There was a casual mention of perhaps helping a friend with her baby’s costume. By the end of the week, I had whipped up costumes for the entire family of three… as I do.
The baby (9 months) was the cutest Hedwig you’ve ever seen. Mom dressed as a Cage, as she’d primarily be holding the baby bird all evening. I was only half-joking when I suggested that dad dress as a broom. He objected at first, but after we described how the sleek, aerodynamic Nimbus 2000 was the top-of-the-line in flying technology and the real MVP of the action, he was totally on board.
I enjoy the pufferfish. This here is the porcupine variety, which is an actual thing. The sea floor is made from giftwrap, printed boxes, and a magazine. I made it not really knowing it was a sea floor I was making. Then I saw these fish in my sketchbook and I knew exactly where they should live. A little Photoshop later, and voila!
So this is Wendell, a scrappy little owl currently living in my Etsy shop while waiting to be adopted. My friend Kelly, who has a nice camera (and is pretty darn good with it) gave Mr. Wendell his very own photoshoot in her backyard, where I have seen an actual owl hanging out.
That’s what inspired me to make Wendell— I met a barred owl while gardening at Kelly’s house. I heard him hooting from across the yard and went looking for him, finally spotting him from about 10 meters away. It was the closest I’d ever been to an owl in the wild, and I was instantly smitten.
Wendell was made using a pair of vintage velvet gloves for his wings, tail, and beak. I’m rather proud of myself for that bit o’ cleverness.
In related news, another sloth has come and gone, having only spent one night in the shop. Eugene (below) went to join Imogene in Chicago, where they will live happily ever after with an amazing person, a repeat buyer! And right on the heels of my first international sale— Arturo the otter went to live in London last month.
Extra special thanks to Kelly for the awesome pics!
I made the most delicious jam from my homegrown serrano peppers. We’re blessed with a long growing season here in the coastal south (high of 77F yesterday), so the serrano bush is still pretty heavily-laden—and here it is first of December! This will probably be our last batch though. *sadface*
I discovered rather late that we might’ve been picking them too young. I peeped the peppers at Publix, and theirs were twice the size of ours. Oh. well, damn.
But mmmmm, they did make a mighty fine jam.
As an Intuitive Cooker, I don’t really measure anything (and often stray far from the recipe unless I’m baking, baking is a science). So I just sort of looked up basic jam-making how-tos online, and then went for it. I used 4 or 5 thingies of berries + about the same amount of peppers + 2 or 3 cups of raw sugar. Roasted half of the peppers first, then blended them into a pulp—seeds and all—with the remaining peppers and berries, and cooked it all down with the sugar. Didn’t even add any pectin and it’s jelled just fine, yielded 3 or 4 little jars.
10/10 would do it all again next year. Need cheaper source of berries tho.