Dragons and Whales

With some of my Christmas money, I bought myself some Japanese ink wash painting brushes to allow myself to continue acquiring fun arts and crafts tools and learn how to use them. I got this sweet set of two brushes, an ink stone (a suzuri), and an ink stick from Amazon – perfect for a beginning artist. It arrived on Friday so I stayed up waaaaaaaaay too late painting on newsprint. In a high school art class, we learned how to paint dragons using this technique so I used my 10 year old memories and had fun. It turned out that painting with these brushes and then using my pen and ink set to add in small details worked out pretty well. Above and below and some fun pictures of my art. I like it. Can’t wait to spend more time improving my skills!

Do you like doing arts and crafts? What projects are you currently working on? Are you like me and you are too ADD to just have one project going at once? What is your favorite medium to work with? Apparently my answer to that question is all of them because I am currently jumping around between drawing, photography, using my Wacom drawing tablet, painting, sewing (I got this awesome book for Christmas with all these cute patterns…), crocheting (still have my top secret crocheting project…), etc. That’s the life of a grad student – you are so busy every day that you have to find something to help you relax. I am finding that doing random creative projects like these really help me! :)

A Beautiful Sight

I’ve been working a lot recently in preparation for taking time off for the holidays. Yesterday morning, I got the pleasure of watching the sun rise and hit the flatirons over Boulder just right. It was breathtaking…

Thanks Instagram for helping me capture the moment (PS – I’m doing a photo a day challenge this month on Instagram. Want to follow my pictures? It’s easy! I’m Iampotassium of course…) :)

I hope you all have lovely weekends! Anyone getting snow?

Fun with Christmas Lights!

I’ve decided that today’s and Thursday’s posts will be full of fun with lights! Today we focus on Christmas lights! I bought some purple Christmas lights (though they look red in these pictures…) this weekend and put them up around mine and Cobalt’s office. So immediately, the camera came out and I had to play with various settings. Today we are exploring starbursts! I briefly talked about them last week in my post about A but here’s how it works. If you have a prime lens (so it doesn’t zoom) and you set your aperture really narrow (= a small hole in the lens), any out of focus light will be the shape of the petals of the aperture (Click here for a picture of a large (top) and small (bottom) aperture from Wikipedia). So the smaller the aperture, the more starbursty the out of focus light becomes. It’s kind of fun to play with…

Anyway, here are a few more pictures of me playing with my Christmas lights…

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have probably seen this one by now (It’s a self portrait taken with my awwwwesome remote control for my camera… TOTALLY worth the extra cash btw for those of you who are thinking of purchasing DSLRs… makes family pictures during the holidays SUPER fun/easy):

More starbursts:

Getting these Christmas lights was actually one of the highlights of my weekend. Life has been fairly ridiculous for us lately so anything that I can do to make our office/house more relaxing/comforting/etc is a huuuuge plus.

Tell me how you feel about Christmas lights! Do you like them? Hate them? How much is too much? I’ve seen a lot of people wrapping Christmas lights around just the tree trunks in their front yards this year… I’ve gotta tell you that I’m not so sure I’m a fan. It looks like a lit up post in the middle of a dark yard… :-/

Speaking of Christmas lights, here is my favorite picture I took with Instagram in downtown Denver this weekend:

Blue eyed bato

Short post today! Today I have a picture of my friend A’s cat, Meow. She is pretty much the most adorable cat of all times (though I have been known to say that about a lot of cats) and she looks at you with her big blue eyes and meows at you until you pay attention to her (or meow back, one or the other). Anyway, I am super proud of this picture because I took it on my iPhone and then used not one but two different photo apps to make it look awesome… oh yeah… I am turning into one of those crazy iPhone apps people… but only in the picture department. I am such a nerd…

In case you were curious, I used ColorSplash to do her eyes and then Instagram to make the general feel of the picture awesome. I kind of love it.

Oh yeah… I also call cats Batos. It’s my friend C’s fault. She started it when we were back in high school…

Do you have a smart phone? What is your favorite app? Do you have a dumb phone and like that way (that’s Cobalt…)? Tell me… :)

The App Wars!

Today’s post is about a cool photography contest I heard about. Do you use Instagram (free!) or Hipstamatic ($1.99) on your smart phone? Then you can enter this contest!
It’s called The App Wars. Basically, you enter your favorite Instagram or Hipstamatic picture(s) to the App Wars website for $5 a picture. Then you are entered into a competition to win $1000! Both a Hipstamatic and an Instagram photo will win the grand prize. Plus the top 100 pictures from each app will be on display in a gallery in San Diego and all pictures submitted will be available in a book! The idea behind it is to promote cell phone photos as a form of art, which I think some of my regular photography readers would agree with. :)

I am super excited about this contest because I like playing with Instagram. When I wasn’t driving on our way back to Colorado last week, I was practicing taking epic Instagram pictures! Exciting… I like that it looks like the side mirror is on fire thanks to the sun’s reflection in this picture. :)

Sharks N Stuff

This past weekend, Cobalt and I went to the Denver Aquarium with the Denver regional alumni club for my undergrad university. Knowing, as you do, about my love for sea creatures, you would think that the Denver Aquarium would be a place that I would frequently visit but actually, in my 4 years of living here, I had never once set foot in the building. So when I got the invitation for the regional club event, I pretty much instantly signed Cobalt and me up.

It was kind of a neat event (and three of us from my graduating year turned up!). We got to meet an African porcupine up close and personal (see below for pictures) and we got to go on a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium! On the tour, we met some of the sea turtles who are named after the ninja turtles (even the girls); we learned all about how the animals are trained, how their food is made, how their water is made, etc; and I pretty much decided that it is time for me to get dive certified so that I can volunteer in the shark tank! Anyway, after all of that, we got to go explore all the exhibits (it was really cool to look into the shark tank and be like “wow… we were standing right there!”) which is where I took this super awesome shark picture.

For those of you who are skeptical of aquariums in land locked states like I kind of am (having grown up in CA), I think this little aquarium actually does a pretty good job (and it is bigger than the one in Albuquerque!) though I was sad that they didn’t have an octopus…

Moving on…. porcupine! So this porcupine is like 6 months old and we got to meet her! A couple of pictures for you:

Here she is!!! She got really excited about being in a new room and shuffled off behind one of the tables before the trainer could get her leash on her. It was really neat to see how she is trained to follow a target and gets positively reinforced with food and a clicker when she goes to the target. The people in the room who have never heard of this training method before thought that she was making the clicker noise… Haha… Though she does ruffle her quills together to make this weird swishing sound if she thinks you are trying to eat her (this was her response to being put on a leash too…).

I just wanted to show you what her quills looked like in more detail. Apparently if she really wanted to quill you, she would back into you. Yikes! The trainer said that she is pretty much harmless and that she, the trainer, has only gotten quilled once – when she accidentally dropped the porcupine she was holding and then tried to catch it with her knee (>_<). She said that the only thing you really have to worry about is getting your shoes eaten. Apparently this little porcupine was on the news recently and the news anchor was freaking out because the porcupine was reallllly interested in her leather shoes… Hehe… aww porcupines…

Anyway, that pretty much concludes the aquarium summary. I will leave you with an Instagram of me and a shark at the gift shop…

What did you do this weekend? Cobalt and I also saw two movies, Moonrise Kingdom and Brave. Have you seen either of them? What do you think?

Just like brothers…

So some of you may not know this, but my first animal love was not the shark. It actually started out with whales and dolphins (and I still love whales and dolphins too… don’t let my shark filled blog lie to you). I always loved toothy, grumpy things too though so once I got my first stuffed shark as a present, it’s easy to see how I was soon obsessed with sharks. Anyway, because of how much I love sharks, I decided that what better present to throw to my girls than a shark (instead of a bouquet) at our wedding (and you were wondering how this was going to turn into a wedding Wednesday post…)! I mean, my first stuffed shark is still one of my absolute favorite stuffed animals today and he paved the way for sharks being my new favorite animal! Plus, my friends told me they would much rather catch a stuffed shark instead of a bouquet so I say it’s a win-win situation.

Because Scrarmpl (scr-ARM-pul) was my first stuffed shark, I decided to buy the same stuffed shark to throw at my wedding (the gateway shark… hahaha). He arrived Monday and I am a bit embarrassed to see how “loved” Scrarmpl is compared to his little brother. They barely even look like the same shark! In this picture, Scrarmpl and “new shark” are reading the most recent Entertainment Weekly together… As you can see, “new shark” is much bigger and fluffier than Scrarmpl…

Anyway, “new shark” is going to be totally decked out for the wedding. I know I have pretty much zero time right now, but I still would like to at least make him a bow tie or something to wear for the wedding. I can’t wait to see who catches him!

As for the garter… that’s just going to have to be a surprise. Though Cobalt and I are super excited about that too (it came this weekend… we giggled a lot…).

As for the rest of the bouquet, I haven’t decided what to do – if I want to hold long stemmed flowers during the ceremony and then just throw the shark during the reception or if I want to have long stemmed flowers surrounding the shark during the ceremony and then throw him? Who knows…

Your task for today – tell me what you think I should do about my bouquet. I don’t really have any specific flowers in mind (had planned on anemones but I don’t think they’re in season that late in the summer). Recently, someone suggested that I use dahlias. They seem really pretty… I’m actually not very picky about the bouquet. I think I should probably be holding something but I haven’t decided what. I like the idea of a simple bouquet (just a few long stemmed flowers would be fine with me) but otherwise I am drawing a blank. Ideas? What are your favorite flowers to see in bouquets?

Pasta Party!

Yesterday, Cobalt and I went over to our friend L’s house to hang out with L and our friends T and C for a day of adventure. We made homemade pasta. L charged us with two tasks: making mushroom ravioli and spaghetti carbonara. So we divided into two teams – Cobalt and T on the spaghetti and C and me on the ravioli while L started on the ravioli filling. That picture up there is my sad looking mummy ravioli. He surprisingly didn’t explode when we cooked him so I guess I patched him up pretty well! C said he was delicious… :)
Anyway, it was really fun/tasty! Here are some more pictures:

First we have C mixing the ravioli dough:

Next we have Cobalt and T working on making the spaghetti… The pasta machines were of course the best part…

Once the spaghetti was ready to be cooked, everyone switched over to team ravioli and we had quite the assembly line going on (someone painting the dough, someone filling the dough, someone making the little raviolis, etc). Look at C’s cutting skill!

And two hours later, we have the final dishes:

Spaghetti Carbonara

Mushroom Ravioli

Oh man… it was so delicious… Have you ever made your own pasta? What is your favorite kind of pasta to make/eat? Did you do anything amazing this weekend?

Who you gonna call?!

Cobalt and I ran some errands yesterday (bridesmaids’ and groomsmens’ gifts acquired!) and we found this amazing claw machine! All it had in it were Stay Puft and Slimer from Ghostbusters! Cobalt happens to be very good at claw machines and Ghostbusters happens to be his favorite movie of ALL TIMES so within 2 minutes of me taking this picture, he had gotten us a brand new Slimer! I think it’s that one in the top left hand corner…
Anyway, what are you all up to this weekend? Something fun? What is your favorite movie/what would make you the happiest to see residing in a claw machine?!