Vintage Journal Tutorial

I haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my “do this” youtube list. I love how she creates a fake raised band on the spine.

Clipboard Image (24 November 2015)



What a great kitty photo.


“I get asked for where I get my inspiration from a lot. And it seems such a redundant question when you’re alive.”


Hello Fresh

One of my favorite subscriptions is Raw Spice Bar. A few weeks ago, they sent me an email offering a discount on my first shipment from Hello Fresh, so we decided to give it a try. Hello Fresh delivers a box containing ingredients for three meals (you choose if it’s for 2 or 4 people), along with recipes. We chose the vegetarian option.

Here’s the unboxing of our first delivery:

There is a lot of packaging, though it’s definitely necessary. There is fiber insulation surrounding the items. I think I can use that for fiberfill for stuffies and such. There were five cold packs. We’re keeping two, but the rest must be thrown away. The box was a little wet, so not reusable.

This is not a cheap subscription. Three meals for two people will set you back $59/week. You can definitely get the ingredients for much less on your own, though you’ll be getting many times the amount needed. If you’re prone to wasting stuff, it’s something to think about.

I made the Mushroom and Leek Tagliatelle (sorry, ate it before thinking about pictures). Here is apparently where Hello Fresh shines, because damn, that was fantastic. It actually made three meals for us, so the Spousal Unit has lunch tomorrow. This makes the cost about $6.56 per meal.

Is it worth it? Depends.

If you always make dinner at home, then no, this is dumb. If you want new recipes, you can get a book.

If you eat out a lot, like we unfortunately do, the math is a bit different. We would be replacing the cost of about one meal out with three home-cooked meals. So why don’t I get a recipe book, too? It’s all about inspiration. Having this sucker show up on your doorstep, with everything already measured, and an excellent recipe presented…it’s very cool. If it keeps us home even one more night a week, it will be worth it.

The proof will be seen over time. We’ve already made a rule: if we waste stuff two weeks in a row, the subscription ends. I’ve already been doing a lot better about cooking at home (having the Spousal Unit do the prep helps!), so I’m hoping we can keep up with this.

I don’t think we’ll subscribe forever, but it will be good food fun for a while.

Snapshot 1 (11-4-2015 10-06 PM)

UPDATE: Last night’s Curried Thai Rice Bowl was extremely bland and dry, and had to be doctored considerably to be edible. So HF isn’t all recipe magic.

Making a Crystal Chandelier

Though I could do without the narration, some of this is really cool. Via Colossal.


Ethiopian Wolves by Burrard-Lucas

Click through for more

Click through for more

Solomon’s Castle

I originally wrote this piece for Florida Fringe Tourism, but they have gone away, so I thought I’d copy it here for posterity.


In the outback of Hardee county lies a shiny treasure, full of art, whimsy, and…puns.

In the parking lot, see if you can spot any turtles in the pond. Then head down the Yellow Brick Road (painted with a sponge mop), pass between Knight and Day, and enter the Castle lobby, where you will likely be greeted by Howard Solomon’s wife, Peggy, who is responsible for the beautiful grounds. She or one of the docents will sell you a $10 (bring cash) ticket to tour the Castle galleries and view some of their beautiful home, which features Howard’s stunning stained glass work.

During the tour, it will become apparent that Solomon is truly a multi-media artist, sculpting, painting, constantly making art with anything he can get his hands on. Creative re-use abounds, along with his quirky sense of humor. You will experience MPM (Maximum Puns per Minute) as the docent describes the various works. As Howard says: “What do you call 50 puns? Punishment. If you do any more, they send you to the punitentiary.”


After the tour, wander the grounds, explore the trails, and have a meal at the Boat in the Moat. You may just see Howard hanging out for lunch.

In 1972, Howard Solomon bought 40 acres of swamp land, and set up a trailer while considering what kind of home to build. He decided that a man’s home is his castle. A large moat was dug, and the fill used to raise the ground level for building. The original structure included room for Solomon’s glass and art studio, a gallery, and a small living space. Later that same year, at the urging of curious locals, the Castle was opened to the public for one day a month. By the early 80s, Howard had added a gracious home to the front of the castle, and covered the outside with printing plates, giving the structure its shining armor.


He didn’t stop with the Castle. Tireless, Solomon is always looking for the next big project. A Spanish galleon, complete with piratical stained glass and gun ports, was built in the moat. The galleon houses the Boat in the Moat restaurant, run by Howard’s daughter, Alane, and her husband, Dean. Restaurant seating extends to the next project: the Lily Lighthouse, topped by stained glass windows depicting lighthouses from around the country. Look for the stained glass mermaid. “Her name is ‘Too Much Fish to Eat, Not Enough Woman to Love.’ Her measurements are 36″-24″-$1.95/lb.”

pirate window

One would think that with a castle, a ship, and a lighthouse–not to mention all the sculpture and other art–that Howard Solomon would be done building. One would be wrong. A Texas vacation brought home the idea of the Alashmo, a replica of a famous fort with a similar name. The inside is not open to the public, but if the doors happen to be standing wide and you get a peek, you will see artwork that overflows from the main gallery.


At 80, Howard hasn’t slowed down much. He still works every day in his studio behind the Alashmo, and tools around the grounds in his golf cart, saying hello to folks who visit from all over the country. Is there a next big project? Sorry, we’re sworn to secrecy.

The Castle is open October – June, 11:00am to 4:00pm every day but Monday. To get there, first be sure you have a full tank of gas. It really is out there. Don’t trust your GPS (though if you can program it, the coordinates are N 27 22′.56″, W 81 58′ 37.03″), and don’t trust Google Maps. The Castle is about 45 miles east of Bradenton, and just west of Arcadia. From SR64, turn south on CR665. From SR70, turn north on Lily (listed as Pine Level on Google Maps). There are signs to guide you the rest of the way from either direction.


Magnificent Riflebird


I love how he bends his head back, turning himself into abstract shape and color.


Danny Perez, Hummingbird Portrait 14


Paper Cut Dance

Clipboard Image (15 September 2015)

From what I can gather, “Paper Cutting Girls” or “Paper Cut Girl” is a national folk dance about Jian zhi, Chinese Paper Cutting. This is a very fun version of the dance. Notice how they have their fingers shaped like scissors when they sweep their hands in a cutting motion.

Bonus video! I found this in the side bar, and it’s just gorgeous.


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