Saturday, October 29, 2011

Last Minute Halloween Costumes

Even though I know Halloween comes every year, I always find myself scrambling around at the last minute with my husband in search of costume ideas. Of course, we can never find exactly what we want, but somehow it always works out. Our best costume to date was made from poster board and Sharpie markers, 30 minutes before our party. 

If you're in a pinch for a Halloween costume this weekend, ModCloth has some great ideas using everyday clothing from their shop. A few of my favorites...

I love how simple and creative these are, especially Elizabeth Bennet's Regency-style dress (or perhaps that's the Austen lover in me coming out.) You may have similar pieces in your wardrobe, and the accessories can easily be made at home. Hello, cotton ball beard and construction paper arrow. Easy peasy.

Just please, please don't wear a tube dress with any form of wings. Go read Joy the Baker's hilarious post, Don't be a Sexy Panda, and remember that fishnets are not acceptable pants. It's October and it's cold out.

Now to work on my costume with Christopher, which involves a mustache, a 70s style velveteen blazer, and the sound of silence. Oh yes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Groceries: An Illustrated List

As I listed in my Twelve by 2012 post, I'm attempting to sketch more often and (to keep myself accountable) share my illustrations here. Part of my problem with keeping a sketch journal is never knowing what exactly to sketch. To get back into the habit of drawing regularly, I've decided to illustrate my weekly grocery list. Here's last weeks:

I know it's important as an artist to keep a daily/weekly sketchbook, but it's something I have always struggled with. I had one particular professor in college who required a sketchbook journal. He would check our progress every week and a half or so, and I always ended up putting off the assignment until 2 am the night before it was due. Which kind of defeats the purpose of a daily sketchbook. Now that I'm a responsible grown-up, perhaps I'll be better at staying on task. Maybe. Hopefully.

By the way, does anyone have tips for scanning artwork? I feel like I've lost some detail with this piece. And what are your thoughts on digital coloring?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little Darlings

I am totally loving this new series of prints, Little Darlings, from Sharon Montrose and I thought I'd share. Because it's Monday. And who doesn't love baby animals?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Twelve by 2012

Last Thursday, Danni of Oh, Hello Friend shared a new project, Twelve by 2012: a blogging challenge to list, track, and complete twelve goals by the new year. You all know that I love lists... remember this little list of goals? Although I've (surprisingly) been checking stuff off the list, I haven't been very good at updating my progress along the way. Seeing Twelve by 2012 reminded me that I still have a few more things I want to accomplish by 2012 (which is only 73 days away!) so I thought I'd share...

My Twelve by 2012 list:
  1. Send 12 friends handwritten letters.
  2. Get to know the manual settings on my new camera.
  3. Deep clean the house in preparation for winter.
  4. Try my hand at making braided apple bread. (Pretty, tasty. Pretty tasty.)
  5. Write and illustrate a children's book for Addie (successfully combining 9 and 17 from my previous list. Genius.)
  6. Learn how to tat lace.
  7. Typography flash cards. Still need to make them. Still need to memorize them.
  8. Read/design covers for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and The Little Princess. (Considering the fact that I haven't even started this project, I've decided that three books are much more manageable than the original goal of 11. The selections are all young adult, too, so the reading will go pretty quickly. Hopefully.)
  9. Stay healthy, stay happy (This requires exercise and more fruits and veggies!)
  10. Sketch/draw more often and share my illustrations here.
  11. Get my work published on a blog I admire.
  12. Do a little research on home ownership. (It's a big step, but Chris and I are ready-ish to start looking at houses!)

I think this is a pretty manageable list, if I do say so. It essentially tackles everything I wanted to do in 2011, with a few added goals to finish up the year. 10 weeks, 12 goals. I can totally do it. Anyone else participating in Twelve by 2012? I'd love to see your lists!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

My typical week morning is pretty hectic... it usually involves too much sleeping in and a lot of rushing around. Breakfast is always an afterthought, so I grab a banana, granola bar, or whatever else is lying around as I walk out the door (don't think I won't grab a brownie or a piece of cake. I've done it before. I'll do it again.)

On the weekends, I usually have time to make a heartier breakfast. Sometimes I'll bake banana bread or make pancakes, or I'll make myself fruit and toast or oatmeal. This morning I thought I'd try my hand at baked oatmeal, mixed with pumpkin and spices, topped with brown sugar and walnuts. Hello, perfect autumn breakfast.

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal
Recipe adapted from Good Life Eats

Serves 3-4

1 heaping cup old fashioned oats, not quick cook
3 Tbs brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp butter, softened
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk

For the topping:
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
4 tsp butter, softened
2 Tbs brown sugar 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium sized baking pan and set aside.

Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and salt. Mix in oats until fully blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together vanilla, butter, pumpkin, and milk. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the oats and stir until combined. 

Pour the mixture into baking pan, place in oven, and bake for 10 minutes.

While the oatmeal is baking, combine walnuts, butter, and brown sugar for the topping. Remove oatmeal from oven after 10 minutes and sprinkle nut topping over pan. Return to oven and bake for another 7 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before eating. 

Chris isn't a big oatmeal fan, but I thought he would like this because of the pumpkin pie flavor. However, it pretty much has the same texture (described by Mr. Ross as "crap") as regular stovetop oatmeal. He liked the bites with nut topping, but couldn't get past the soft texture of the oatmeal. Be warned if you're not typically an oatmeal fan.

I can be pretty picky about oatmeal, too -- I hate when it's too mushy or not sweet enough. Normally, I pour boiling water over mine so the oats retain their shape, and top with brown sugar and a splash of vanilla. Cafeteria style buttery mush? Not for me. This stuff was great, though. It really did taste like a warm slice of pumpkin pie, the texture wasn't bad, and it was really quick and simple to make. Perfect for a lazy Saturday morning.

Even kitty liked it. Success.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Alyssa Nassner's Daily Outfits

I was perusing the online portfolio of artist Alyssa Nassner this morning when I ran across a fun illustration project of hers: Daily Outfits, a visual journal of clothing. Love it.

Nasser captures all the details in each outfit - the buttons, the sweater ribbing, the gray Toms (we're Toms twinsies!) The illustrations remind me of paper dolls, especially since the position of her figure never changes. Do little girls still play with paper dolls? I sure hope so. I'd like to think that my daughter will.

I really enjoy seeing an artist's process of ongoing, self-initiated projects - especially when the artist finds creative ways to work within the limitations of repetition. I've been working on the first illustration for my own daily/weekly project that I'm excited to share soon, hopefully by Friday if I get around to it.

By the way, I totally own that last outfit... minus the scarf and with darker booth.
Alyssa obviously has great taste.

For more of Alyssa's work, visit her website, Etsy shop, or blog.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On Presents and Apples...

What's that now? Why yes, that is a stack of awesome birthday presents... including a Canon Rebel DSLR!! Chris and I picked it up after my birthday breakfast dinner on Thursday. Mr. Ross also surprised me with little treats hidden around our house... a box of Zebra Cakes here, a copy of Bridesmaids there. He's so cute. Natalie and Duane gave me a copy of Wildwood, a children's novel written by the Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy and beautifully illustrated by Carson Ellis. Grace Bonny's Design*Sponge at Home, was a little gift to myself. And it is glorious.  

On Saturday, we took a drive over to Corey Lake Orchards for some apple picking and to test out the camera. This was my first orchard trip and I couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather. Almost every apple was in season, and we were able to sample the varieties straight off the trees before adding them to our bushel. My personal favorite was the sweet, crisp, and slightly tart Cortland variety. We purchased a half-bushel of mixed varieties for $8 and ended up with 23 pounds of apples. Yikes. Feel free to pass along any apple recipes you may have... apple crisp is the only thing I've mastered so far.

My little niece Adalynn and her parents also joined us (this was actually her second trip to the orchard) and as you can see, she has fully perfected the baby smirk. I can't believe how fast she's grown... she's almost six months old! Her sweet, friendly personality is definitely starting to shine and I love how much she's chunked out.

I'm excited to start experimenting with my camera... I need to brush up on my Intro to Photography notes before attempting any manual settings just yet, but I definitely look forward to using something a little more advanced than Instragram on iPhone (as much as I love it.) Needless to say, I had a wonderful birthday.