Saturday, January 31, 2009

the mirror


I was so happy to receive a CD of the images that I took while I was in Antwerp for the new year with Di. It was worth the wait.. because now I have 200 images to sort through and play with in Photoshop.

thank you Di x

Den Haag Fail

Freezing cold wind in our faces helped us decide to take the train back to Leiden.
Utter. Complete. Failure.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I'm in an abusive relationship

Photoshop, you are a mean and nasty bitch, and sometimes I look at you and think, "I hate you." I'm contemplating breaking up with you. What do you think about that?

This tutorial took me over 6 hours, and several emails requesting technical and emotional assistance. Sadly, I feel that this experience has taken me a few steps backward in confidence about my relationship, and I may need some therapy.

tip of the day

I know it can be a hard habit to get into, but when working with layers, it's always best to label them when possible. I've been working on this tutorial.. (oh god, I'm repetitive) but this is a photo editing tutorial, and there are so many layers, copies of layers, and blah blah blah.. well I'm 3/4 of the way through it, and I've completely lost track of which layers belong where and now I'm going to just start over from the beginning.

no me gusta.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Ok, for real.. I'm SOOO tired, and I am desperately fighting the desire to sleep. Today's "I like" is obviously going to be a bed. ha ha.. but, in all seriousness, I think this particular bed looks cozy and inviting. The wallpaper rocks, and I dig all the books and scattered artwork.



I need a haircut!!! I've been really unsure about how to get it cut lately, plus there's the fact that my hairstylist lives in NYC. But, because I don't feel like spending several hundred dollars on a haircut, I'm going to suck it up and just try out the local salon, "Kinki Kappers".

I haven't had my haircut in over 4 months, and it is loonnng. After the style, I'm hoping that I have something in between these two previous cuts.


sleep deprivation

Yah.. so I barely slept last night. I hit the sheets around 2 am, and woke up 3 hours later. At 7, I decided to give up and get out of bed. I made a big breakfast and finished this tutorial from Spoono which had been pissing me off only several hours earlier. To be fair, this was pretty easy to follow, with some good tips for keyboard shortcuts... all I'll say is this: Liquify is f@#%ing hard to use. After failing miserably at replicating the reflection, I tried to be innovative and do it on my own. Sadly, that also ended in failure. Fortunately, after my nap and some eggs, I was able to revisit this with a bit of patience, and I guess I'm OK with the results.

So here's my orb. It's riveting, I know.

here's the example from the tutorial

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I've always wanted a horse

For the price of a real one (6,800 euros), you can buy this polyester resin lamp, which requires no feeding or exercise. This bad boy was designed by Front of Sweden for Moooi.

a day like any other, except slightly cleaner

Today so far, has been about cleaning, dusting, "hoovering", washing the rugs, changing the bedding, wiping the glass, emptying the garbage... all that blah blah kinda stuff.

In celebration of my cleanliness, I've decided to share these 2 images which I discovered awhile ago at cibone, and found them to be quite lovely.

I tend to think that the world would be slightly more inspiring if we were surrounded by everyday products made with such care and craftsmanship.

Japanese broom, constructed of leather palm and rattan

Japanese dustpan is made from paper, which is dyed with persimmon juice

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

precisely four things that I like

Angles and curves

Dutch design superstar Hella Jongerius'
Shippo cloisonné plates

plates on walls

Beauuuutiful tiles...

Monday, January 26, 2009

miam miam!!

I made my very first lasagna tonight. I was nervous, since Katja had made it just last month, and it was so yummy - so I had a high standard to meet. Well, guess what?


Here's how I did it
(serves 6 people, but not if you go back for 2nds)
chop up:
5 cloves of garlic
2 onions
2 hot chili peppers

4-5 tomatoes
a handful of mushrooms
5 small carrots

you also need:
lasagna noodles (I mixed mine by layer, regular and spinach flavor)
2 containers of ricotta
parmesan shavings
cooking cream
tomato sauce

ingredients for a bechamel, which can be made from scratch or from a mix

Heat olive oil, toss in onion, cook on low, add garlic, when it smells really good, toss in the carrots and chilis and let that all cook a bit. Then you'll want to add 2 containers of vegetarian meat crumbles... mix it all up, add some seasoning to taste.

On the side, make your bechamel sauce (you should need about 700 - 800 ml) and also make a tomato cream sauce.

For my tomato sauce, I sauteed a few cloves of garlic, then mixed in about a half a jar of tomato sauce. I then stirred in a bottle of cooking cream, and fresh basil... you have to heat it on low, and stir with a whisk constantly so it doesn't break.

Butter your baking dish and lay your first layer of noodles (all uncooked)

I layered like this (upwards):
noodle, sliced tomatoes, meat mix, bechamel, ricotta, repeat

The top layer gets noodles, bechamel, ricotta, and tomato cream sauce. Don't add all the tomato sauce... the primary toppings are the white items, and the red sauce is merely mixed into it a bit. Save the rest for later. Sprinkle with an ample amount of Parmesan cheese flakes.

Bake for 40 or so minutes at around 220 degrees... it will be bubbly and charred on top. The noodles should be cooked after 40 minutes, but if you're really picky about your noodles being very soft, cook it longer.

I served mine in a bowl, first spooning in the tomato cream sauce, and then a nice square of the lasagna into it..

I got rave reviews from the roomies.. and I'll happily make this for you, given the chance!

a new tradition?


Well, today was the third consecutive day of biking for me and the roomie, and my Derrière has informed me that it shall be the last, at least until this weekend. Today we halved our distance, although we still managed to ride for 1.5 hours. I have no idea how this was possible, since we didn't really stop... he suggested that perhaps we'd not realized how fatigued we were and had rode a lot slower. For lack of a better explanation, I guess I agree! I didn't feel fatigued really, but by the time we rode into Leiden, I quickly suggested that we get off and walk the last few blocks home :P

Sunday, January 25, 2009



good thing I napped today...

Last night the roomie and I had discussed taking another bike ride today and I was secretly hoping he'd changed his mind, but he hadn't.. so after a big brunch, we headed out. 1.75 hours later we walked back through the front door. Not bad. We missed out on stopping anywhere along the way, since it's Sunday, most of the places were closed.

I don't mind, it's 4:30 and I've already biked over 20 km, on a grandma bike, no less :) Wablieft?!

Time for a beer....

as if you needed another reason to garbage pick!

I like the idea of repurposing things. Often people cast aside old furniture, and if you're a garbage picker like me, you've reluctantly passed up quite a few cool items, usually because they're broken. What if you grabbed the drawers, or the hardware even? Here are 2 examples of finding a way to use those items.

Okay, I could certainly do without the scary decapitated cherubs and the random clove of garlic (bad stylist in full effect here folks...) but - the floating box is a super cool idea.

I think the idea is stunning and if you were the one to find all of the pieces, then you'd not only have a one of a kind, you'd surely have different memories while collecting each piece along the way. If you have some degree of skill with a hammer and tools, I think this could be made. Maybe I'm full of crap though.. anyone with skills want to comment here and tell me if this would be difficult to build? I assume you'd remove the face of the original drawers and attach them to drawer backs that are all the same depth, so the piece could be functional.... thoughts?

what happens when...

you hire a good stylist...

(I love love love this)


you hire a bad stylist...


Okay, so I stayed up too late the other night and did another tutorial from mickm. I really want to get comfortable with Photoshop, and I feel after this one, that I'm slowly getting there. This tutorial is really basic, but I managed to get through it and realized along the way that I felt a lot more comfortable moving around. As silly as this seems, I discovered that there is a direct selection tool that works pretty much the same way that it does in Illustrator. Another super useful shortcut is ctrl + T, which allows you to edit the position and size of the object you've created. In the past, what I have found to be so frustrating in Photoshop, is that I want to do things, but I don't know how to select the object... so obviously these two tools brought me a big sigh of relief.

Creating the shadow effects on this character (Kirby) was interesting, because I would not have thought that you would be able to draw such a dark shape and be able to reduce it so much that it blends and just becomes a subtle tonal variation. Gaussian blur was used heavily here... so again, repetition and using it on multiple areas to achieve different effects helped me to see how useful it is.

The most difficult part of this lesson, was creating Kirby's mouth. I drew it with the pen tool, then used the direct selection tool to tweak it. Getting his tongue to fit in there was also terrible. I didn't quite understand the directions, and what I ended up doing, was making his tongue from an oval, then magnifying the image and erasing the portion of the oval that overlapped his mouth. Then I merged the 2 layers, and applied the overlay effect from the last step. It doesn't look as good as the tutorial, but I think I did a good job in problem solving. I'm glad that I kept deleting and redoing the mouth portion of the exercise until I found a result that I could be pleased with.

One thing that I've noticed in doing these tutorials, is that some are more beneficial than others, in terms of me actually learning in a way that allows me to problem solve outside of the actual tutorial and on my own. The "SEXY" tutorial was a lot of fun, but it was really just a series of settings that you copied one by one, and then you had your end result. I feel that I get more out of tutorials where I am actually creating objects and building things.

In any event, I enjoy posting them here, perhaps because it helps me to see what I'm learning and to put it all into perspective.

Here is Kirby from the tutorial

and here's my Kerby

I had this really weird dream

I was driving in this black sporty type car with some guy, and we stopped on the highway and walked up to this overpass. Then this girl I know was there, and I have no idea what we were doing.. but then we walked back down to the road, and the car was stolen! All of a sudden, I was saying, "Oh my god! Someone stole my dad's car!!" I wanted to call the police.. I kept digging into my pants pockets for my Blackberry, but I was pulling all of these other cell phones out.. and they were all broken... finally I found mine, and it was broken too.. my hands were shaking and the guy I was with grabbed the phone from me and started fixing it.

Some other guy came over and said, "I saw the guy who took your car." He pulled his own car over and told us to get in. So the guy I was with got in the passenger seat, and the other guy started driving. I was getting into the back seat, but then I turned into my cousin, and I actually ran next to the car... so all of a sudden, I was running down the highway on my own, and at this bend, I saw a truck flip over. It was full of hay bales.. apparently there was a traffic jam, and the truck sped out of control because it couldn't stop. Some other truck had problems too, and a mattress fell out, and knocked my phone down from my hand... so it broke again, and I said something like, "What the f@#k!?" and picked it up.

All of a sudden, I saw the car with the guy who stole it. He was stuck in the traffic. I ran up to the car and jumped through the open window before he could drive away and from the passenger seat, I started punching him in the face! It was crazy... I was punching him reallly hard, I think to stun him so he couldn't hurt me. I remember thinking, maybe he has a weapon.. so I opened the door to the car, and kicked him out into the street, rolled up the window and locked the doors.

Then I woke up. My heart was pounding and my stomach was in knots.

Soo... weird dream. There's a lot more that happened before this scene unfolded - but it's too weird to include.

In fact there is so much that I remember, that it made me think about how when you're sleeping, supposedly, dreams are just flashes in your brain that last minutes. This dream was so detailed and drawn out, I feel like it must have lasted a lot longer. I wish dreams could be taped and watched when you wake up.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

ce matin


ahhh well, life is like a box of chocolates.. heh. Well mine is anyway. So today I wanted to head out on my own, but the powers that be decided that it was not in my cards. My roommate decided to go to the sauna last night just so that we could do something fun today, sooo.. okay, I'm a good(ish) friend, and didn't want to disappoint.

Instead of our original plan to head to Rotterdam, we decided to keep expectations low, and start the day with a coffee at de Poort (sorry M) - I will say, this coffee was not as lovely as the one pictured in an earlier post - and if I'm looking for a reason to complain, they've installed 2 new lamps, and I hate them with a passion..

Afterward, I wandered off in search of a bead shop.. I don't think Leiden has one, and if they do, sadly I did not find it. I did however, find my way to Hema, where I bought several small useless items - because I'm like that.

My roomie and I have sort of started this weekend bike outing thing, well this was week 2, and today we decided to head to a different area of the city than last time. It was great to get out and feel fresh air, to see new places, and to rationalize that I can now live with myself for skipping kick boxing today. :)

Okay, so I'm off to shower and then we have dinner plans. Apparently there's this pizza place that has amazing pizza and shitty service, so I'm excited for that. If the service is REALLY bad, maybe I'll bitch about it later.

The day isn't over yet, but, I have to admit that staying in Leiden today has been nice :) Now tomorrow.. that's another story...

I feel...

tutorial at Web Toolkit

Friday, January 23, 2009

The last time I saw my friend Annabel

Have you ever wanted to remember every detail of something?
I waited outside her apartment for her and then we went for breakfast.
I miss her, and I miss rue Darwin.

pressing against me

I've been in that sort of place... "I vant to be alone." Most of the people who know me, know that I am really a solitary creature.. I need A LOT of space and privacy, and the ability to disappear. Lately, it seems like the walls of my life are shrinking around me, and I'm feeling like a cat in a cage.

I think, what I should do, is to get on a train tomorrow and go somewhere on my own for the day. I'd bring my book, my camera, my sketch pad, my ipod, Sudoku, and just go.. there are so many places that I haven't seen yet and maybe what I need - is to go out and see something and experience it by myself.

... if the rain isn't horrid, I think that's what I'm going to do.

I know what I'm doing this Sunday....

Todd Thrasher’s Tomato Water Bloody Mary

4 pounds fresh vine-on tomatoes
2 stalks of lemon grass
4 serrano chilis
1 small Bermuda onion
Citrus-flavored vodka

In multiple batches, coarsely chop and puree tomatoes, onion and chilis in a food processor. Add salt to taste. Transfer pulp to a cheesecloth and suspend over a large stockpot. Leave to strain until pulp volume has reduced by two-thirds (about 12 to 24 hours). Makes 1 liter of tomato water.

To make the bloody Mary: Mix 1.5 ounces of citrus flavored vodka with 5 ounces of tomato water. courtesy of the NYT

hello world..? I've fallen into a hole...

OK! So this is it for today.. I think I've been a wee bit over the top with the tutorial fun fests.. time for dinner, and well, since my roommate is watching the season finale of Big Brother, I suspect I'll go out for a walk... a long one.. :P

Anyway, so I just completed this tutorial at Vector Tuts for creating a page in a childrens book. It was really useful, as I used some grids and played with text a bit. Other than that, it was all vector work, building the castle, the trees and the owl. I think there's a lot more I can say about this, but I'm so tired, maybe tomorrow.

In the end, I was sort of bummed that all of my hard work was shrank into nothingness, so I made a few extra images so you can see how cute they are. I LOVE my little hibou!

So this is the "finished image" offered in the tutorial

This is my version

rainy day doings

Oh raineeeee daayyyyys... when will you end?

So I am doing this tutorial in Photoshop, and it's making me mad, so I decided to do another one, just for fun. This tutorial was pretty easy, lots of gradients... it's deceptive though, with 43 steps! I did the tutorial from start to finish, and then I went in and played around with some things... just to give my bunny a bit of my own personality.

This lesson can be found on Vector Tuts, and if you have an interest in cutie pie critters.. or even scary ones, this is a good place to start!

Ryan Putnam's bunny

my bunny

Thursday, January 22, 2009

cat dork alert...

you have mail...

I just did this via AI Vault. This is a pretty basic tutorial, and rather, the difficulties that I had with it were mainly due to the person who created it being a bit unclear with regards to stroke pts and settings. The most valuable skill offered in this tutorial, I felt, is the highlight on the arrow, which is created by duplicating it twice, laying them together (but offset), and then using the Pathfinder toolbox to subtract the areas which you don't need. What you're left with is the two pieces which are layed onto the arrow, and then you can adjust the color within them as you see fit. In the end, I ended up just adjusting things to where I felt happy with them, which was fine for this type of exercise. Cute though, right?

space, the final frontier...

Lately I've been thinking about how I really need to get fudged.. So what did I do? Naturally I headed over to Fudge Graphics for a tutorial. I am not very proficient with Adobe Photoshop, and this was sort of a pain in the ass for me. I almost gave up at step 9, but since this is a 10 step tutorial, that would make me a quitter, wouldn't it?

So this begins in Adobe Illustrator, and you draw some lines with your pencil tool. 2 lines actually. I know - what am I bitching about? This is a piece of cake you say.. Now, just as with the little chain links from the previous vector lesson, I used the Object> Blend tool to create a block of lines from the 2 that I started with. That's the easy part really. From there, you drag them to Photoshop where all the fun baby games end and Photoshop layer hell begins.

I am convinced that one day, just the way a cowboy breaks a wild Mustang, I will break.. well, no I hope I don't break it, I will CONQUER Photoshop. Until that day, I will click and nothing will happen, then I'll click on something else, and still nothing will happen, and then I'll Google "Where is the inverse button?" and dammit.. one day.. I'll KNOW where that button is on my own, and when I click it, it will fudging work!

But, I have gone off here.. I'm still suffering Photoshop trauma as I've only just completed this lesson.

ahrm.. so...

I found that the textures provided are really helpful if you want the end result to be somewhat similar to the lesson, although I did try some of my existing textures and I think you could definitely use your own. It just depends on how closely you want your work to be to the example provided.

Doing this once, I already know that I would have thought more about the lines that I made in step one. You can have a lot of fun making gradients for this assignment, and in the end, adding the Hue Adjustment Layer was a great idea, because you can really amp up the saturation and tweak the colors. Since I am basically a retard when it comes to Photoshop, I'm pleased with the results.

Example provided by Franz

My results

BTW: You can click on any of the images that I post here for a better view, since they're usually much larger than Blogger's layout allows.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

hee yaa!

I just did this really fun (and easy) Adobe Illustrator tutorial over at blog spoon graphics. Actually, despite the fact that I was able to do this with relative ease, there are some cool little tricks that I learned that I can use in the future.

Some interesting tools here: Relying on the Pathfinder tool box! There are so many awesome functions right there, but if you don't have it set to view, it's easy to forget about it. So a basic action is add or subtract to area, which were used to create the ninja's face opening and also in making the body one unit for editing with color. Another freakin' cool customization tool, is in the layers box. By clicking the appearance tab, you can add additional strokes, assign them their own color, and then you can further customize by going to the stroke tab and giving the strokes each their own weight, and deciding on their alignment, which is key. In this image, the black stroke is set to align itself to the outside of the path, and the grey stroke is set to align to the inside of the path, and so this gave me 2 nice thick 4 pt. strokes. If you do the tutorial, play with those settings, and you'll see exactly what I mean.

Creating the weapons was fun. I had a tough time with the star in the tutorial, so I did mine by touching the each point with the twirl tool once... and I like mine better actually :P Another technique to learn, was in making the links on the nunchuks. Basically, all you're doing, is making 2 circles, set them apart from eachother, highlight both of them and go to Object> Blend> Make, and select 5 specified steps. Right away, the 2 circles are connected by 5 more circles. To add movement, draw with your pencil tool a curve, select the entire group and go to Object> Blend> Replace Spine, and voila! The chain assumes the shape of that line you just drew.

I know what I just wrote won't make sense if you don't try it out on your own, but I wanted to include it to highlight the valuable shortcuts that you learn here. Another great thing about this tutorial, is that you can create as many characters as you'd like, and therefore, you're learning the techniques over and over, and really creating on your own memory and instinct after the first couple that you do straight from the lesson.

Additionally, if you're really into graphic illustration, you can easily see how you could start another project and use these tools.. the object blending tool alone is extremely handy.. off the top of my head, you could re-produce that same process in making a necklace, a dog leash, a strand of popcorn on a Christmas tree, a strand of lights strung through the air.. and that's just a few obvious choices.

I'm posting the image that I did straight from the tutorial. I started this late, and after making 2, I decided that I wanted to start getting ready for sleep. Overall, I'm pleased with how they came out and I kinda wish I'd made a few more. I did want to add my own personal touch to this, since it is a mirror of the tutorial, and ended up quickly throwing some of my own details in for fun. I felt compelled to create little critter ninjas.
.. don't they look menacing with their weapons?

heet or niet?

Would you consider this wall art collection to be over done?
(as in, too much of a good thing)

sleeping couldn't be weirder...

What the Sam Hill is this? I don't know if sleeping in this would prohibit normal dreaming. Would you be able to be in the mood for sex with this bed? Would it have to involve food fetishism? Would you feel sleepy at the sight of a Whopper? How would a burger taste afterward? Would you ever try to eat your bed in your sleep? Maybe you'd develop the, "What am I, just a piece of meat to you?" complex. And what about Pavlov's Theory? Call me a worrier, but I think you'd be flying in the Danger Zone with this bad boy...

I luurve kittehs

Ok, I can't resist cute pet pictures, with the caption, this one easily crossed into my, "I can post this, even though it's really stupid" rationale...