Thursday, October 22, 2009

Morgan Arboretum

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One More Thing

Yay! I want to say thank you to Gina at GiDu Designs for doing a lovely feature on my shop. Hop on over and check it out!

Here are a couple of the newer things I've been working on lately:

(p.s. Immunology exam was not the gory slaughter I envisioned).

Monday, October 19, 2009

Three things

1) I want you to check out Silver Nutmeg Studio.

I used to post on the Etsy critiques forum quite regularly when I first opened my shop in July and a lot of the feedback I got was great. For kicks I decided to post in a couple of the " above you" threads today and received the critique that my items were common and that the designs could be seen anywhere. My first reaction was to cry, throw something, then close down my shop and retreat into my little niche of academia. But then I thought, okay. I asked for it. I posted in the critiques section - you are freaking going to get critiqued. Then I thought, but wait, that same comment is probably true of over half the sellers on Etsy - how many jewelry designers are selling wire-wrapped briolettes on kidney hooks right at this very moment? Lots. There is so much overlap in jewelry, I think, but every piece has it's own tiny little difference that somebody might be looking for. So I reposted in the thread and received some super kind, uplifting feedback from Silver Nutmeg, and I checked out her shop and guess what? A lot of our designs are really similar. Does that make her pieces common too? Maybe - but they're also amazingly gorgeous and she seems to be doing just fine in terms of sales. So I guess what I learned today is: if you ask for feedback, accept it, but more importantly, stand by your pieces and if you love them, so will someone else.

2) Davis needs a Halloween costume. We are going to the Halloween party at the campus bar next Thursday, dressing up not optional. It should be something we can put together in that time, and not too expensive. Ideas? Last year he went as a brainless student - he found a fake plastic brain, put it in a bowl with a sign saying "selling brain to fund education - like new". Then he used fake blood and liquid latex to make a surgical scar across his forehead. It was a huge hit.

3) We watched this video in my cell physiology class a few weeks ago. Even if you are not into biology, it's worth a look - the animation and music is just beautiful. It shows the dynamic nature of the cytoskeleton (tubes and ropes), how proteins are made from RNA, and how surface proteins are involved in the adhesion of white blood cells to capillary walls. Read more about it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Double Chocolate Orange Cookies

Right now, I am slacking off from studying immunology - there is only so much of B-cell gene rearrangement, MHC codominant expression, and dendritic cell antigen cross-presentation that I can take.

My exam is at 10:30 tomorrow morning; usually I work with the campus's kestrel colony from 7:30 to 9:30, but I begged off work tomorrow morning so I wouldn't be a walking zombie for my exam. A very kind coworker offered to fill in for me, so I baked a batch of cookies to thank her. Very tasty cookies.

The recipe is courtesy of Mirj over at Recipezaar.

These make good Christmas cookies.

You will need:
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tablespoon grated orange rind (zest from a large navel orange)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
sugar to coat

Preheat oven to 350C. In a large bowl, mix sugar, butter, egg, and orange zest. Stir in flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

It can take a while to incorporate all the flour in, but trust me, it will go. I recruited Davis to help mix because my biceps curled up and cried after about 30 seconds.

Form balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter and roll them around in extra sugar. Press down slightly to flatten on baking tray. Bake for ~10-15 minutes until they form a dent when poked. Your cookies will be crunchy on the outside because of the sugar, but soft with orangey goodness on the inside.

I'm going to go eat one right now. And then - immunology.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My midterm schedule:
Thurs. Oct 15: Cell Physiology. Alternated between really easy (If a cell was the size of this classroom, how large would the proteasome be? a) desk b) computer c) a car d) single serve milk from the coffee bar e) speck of dust) to really hard - I still am boggled by the Nernst equation.

Fri. Oct 16: Mechanisms of Pathogenicity. Two essay questions, pick two of six subjects. I chose the complement system and the role of iron in infection. Went okay, I think - except I forgot to mention the specificity of bacteria for transferrin.

Mon. Oct 19: Immunology. The big scary.

Fri. Oct 23: Animal Biotechnology. The big unknown.

Added to next week's schedule is the scholarship ceremony on Tuesday night and a guest speaker (a vet) from South Africa that, as VP of the student society, I am helping to organize on Thursday night. Oh, and a paper on habitat selection of American martens that is due on Tuesday.

So. No long and detailed blog posts for a few days - instead, please enjoy this squirrel obstacle course.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random Hearts

Round the Town by Totables

Mystery flower earrings by The Lost Earring

Handknit neckwarmer by Maddy & Me.

Bird Watcher by Stonebrook Cottage

firefly sky by sarahkdesigns

Timeless jeweled bracelet by Artsy Tartsy Jewels

Monday, October 5, 2009

"You are being shagged by a rare parrot."

In lieu of a real blog post, and in celebration of me taking on way more than I can handle this semester and having a sudden realization of this in the form of a minor panic attack, I present the sexually confused and critically endangered kakapo.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Light! Box!

Between the fact that I get home at sunset most days and the gloomy quality of our recent weekends, photographing my trinkets has been a challenge since I came back east. I've wanted to make a light tent for a few weeks now but I wasn't able to find the time to go shopping until today, but wow I'm glad I did.

There are a billion tutorials on how to make a light box on the Internet - I mostly referenced ones from Lars and Addie, Strobist, Digital Photography School, and DIY Photography.

Step 1: Find an appropriately sized box. One of the websites above suggests one with of no less than 15 inches per side. I used a small moving box.

Step 2: Remove cat from box.

Step 3: Begin cutting squares out of three sides of the box, leaving 2" borders around each window.

Step 4: Remove cat from box.

Step 5: You should now have three windows cut out of your box.

Step 6: Cut three pieces of white tissue paper or very thin white fabric to fit your windows and tape them to the sides. I used tissue paper and I was happy with that, plus it was easier to find.

Step 7: Cut a crinkle-free piece of white bristol board to fit the width of your box. I used two looped pieces of duct tape to adhere it to the top of the box at the back.

Step 8: Find two or three adjustable desk lamps preferably with daylight bulbs. This was the most expensive part of the project because we're living with Davis's parents at the moment, and they are big on mood lighting and not so big on functional lighting, so I couldn't scrounge up any lamps from anywhere. I bought 60 watt equivalent bulbs, but I think that was too low - next time I go out I'll try to find some 100 watt ones.

Honestly, this project took me less than an hour to make, but it think it'll be one of the better investments I've made for my shop (that and the steel punch that I am anxiously awaiting delivery of...). It was easy, relatively cheap (and could be cheaper), but it made such a huge difference in my photography. I found it so difficult to judge good lighting conditions outside, and I'd end up with either harsh lighting or dull lighting (according to craftgawker). But, I am pretty happy with the quick test pictures I took!

I also made some cool discoveries about my camera - I have never shot in full manual mode before - the most I have done is aperture control or shutter control. But my photos were still coming out dark even in these settings, so I figured there must be a way to increase the light coming into my camera. I don't think I did it correctly, but I did discover that the little meter on my camera - the one with a plus and minus on either end - doesn't have to be at 0 to take a satisfying photo. I was shooting many of my photos somewhere between 0 and + and they were coming out bright and happy. I'm sure there's a way to fix the aperture and shutter speed so that they're still bright enough at 0, but it worked for me! Also, the tripod I got as a belated birthday present was a godsend - it meant that I could set up the shot and focus it, then make all the adjustments I wanted from the back of my camera and shoot over and over without having to squish my face up to the viewfinder each time.

Between the tripod and the lightbox, I'm actually looking forward to photographing my jewelry now!