Friday, August 29, 2014

Wildlife Be Crazy, Yo

So I'm doing dishes at the kitchen sink, minding my own business, when I notice this weird, zig-zaggy spiderweb.  First thought that flits through my mind is that my daughter had been playing with silly string out in the yard.  Then I notice the big eight-legged creepy-crawly floating in the middle of it.  I then bravely stepped two inches out my front door and snapped this with a telephoto lens.  From way, far away.

That was five days ago, and that wench is still there.  Mocking me.  I feel like I've got things crawling on my skin every time I spot her.  It's unnerving.  And she's the size of a saucer.  You're going to have to take my word for it, because there's no effing way I'm getting close enough to put something in the shot for scale.

An internet friend managed to make a possible species match, the Argiope aurantia.  If you look at the shot of its underside, it's almost a perfect match.  It says they sometimes eat the males after mating.

Okay, she can hang out for a while.  Kill a few wasps, and we'll call it even, lady.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Difference a Week Makes

So there's the same pepper you saw last week, as it appeared yesterday.  Don't get excited... we ate it last night.  I had some shredded pork in the freezer, so I fried up the pepper with some onions and made homemade flour tortillas from a recipe on the back of a 25lb. bag of flour.  Awesomely delicious.  I think this is also the first time I made flour tortillas where I wasn't completely disappointed with the thickness when they were cooked.  Let me put it this way... you could see through the dough a little bit when I was done rolling them out.  I think the proper term is "paneing" as in a window pane.  Also, I may or may not have used rendered bacon fat in the dough instead of the listed shortening.  Ahem.

I'm on my last square for a comfort project for a friend who survived a disaster.  After that the crafting for the Etsy shop begins again in full earnest.  Today, however, is Mom's Day Off.  I have plenty of posts on the subject (okay, I know of two) but I did want to get these thoughts down today before I blinked and realized yet another week had passed.

I'm already looking at plants for fall planting and harvest (brassicas, mostly... that's your cabbage, broccoli, etc.) and deciding if I'm digging a new bed for garlic.  Garlic is a little... committed.  And I was strangely reluctant to actually use last year's crop.  It was just so pretty once it'd been cured and braided.

The teenager starts back to school on Monday.  So now I'm going to have to start setting my alarm and (gasp) setting the parental time controls on the internet so she's not up until 2am.  But I will have uninterrupted days with the dogs again.  If only I could send those crazy kids off to school, too.  Especially the shoe chewer.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Week At Hullion Arts...

I took photographs.

I drew stuff.

It's on my RedBubble

I crocheted several rounds on a new doily, and did red motifs for a poinsettia dimensional doily.  Lack. Of. Focus.

My problem is that even though I make very piddly amounts on my RedBubble stuff (20%... unless I mark it up outrageously) it's the format where I feel the most inspiration right now.  While crochet and embroidery are nice and relaxing, they are also soooooo very slow when it comes to cranking out product.  And I feel this need to put a lot of work out there... I feel like I've been sleepwalking for ten years and just got my artsy mojo back.

And yet I have a ton of unfinished WIPs that need to be addressed.  Not the least of which is the handwoven shawl that is still on my loom from before we moved TWO YEARS AGO.  Okay, I know why I haven't wanted to tackle that one... the warp tension got all messed up when we moved the loom, and I don't have the heart to dig in and see if I can rescue it, or if I'm going to have to cut it off.  It takes me a full day to warp the loom... I just don't know if I could do it.  Plus about ten knitting WIPs that I'm scared to work on after what the new dog did chewing on my crochet thread.

The garden is going awesome.  I have peppers and tomatoes that are working up to getting ripe.  I'd have been harvesting for a long time now if I'd gotten off my butt and planted in April and not June, but then I wouldn't have gotten those garden-ready plants from Burpee at 50% off.

If every single tomato blossom ended up with a fruit, theoretically I'd have over thirty pounds of tomatoes.  These plants are *supposed* to bear 2lb. individual tomatoes.  Not coincidentally, 2lbs of tomatoes is what you need for one quart of canned tomatoes.  I would imagine that would work out to a pint of sauce, or a half pint of paste maybe?  Anyhoo, considering the number of bees *inside* my house, I'd have more than just the one pollinated blossom outside my house.  Maybe it puts out so many blooms because it only wants to support one tomato at a time and it's making sure there's plenty left alive for the next one?  Don't ask me, I'm tomato-stupid.

But the pepper plant, now... that's got five fruits on it in varying stages.  The original one is just about to start turning color.  I'm thinking stuffed peppers, or pre-cut frozen bags for Italian beef sandwiches.  Oh yum.  I just wish my zucchini wasn't so puny.  I'd be pickling those suckers.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Yeah, I'm Weird That Way

I re-open my dormant Etsy shop to sell my doilies, and the pixels are barely dry on the screen (can I reinvent the metaphor?) when I get obsessed with embroidery and start stitching purses, tea towels, and whatever I can get my hands on.  List those, and now I'm off doing watercolor art for Redbubble and Spoonflower (Spoonflower designs are still going through the vetting process, so it's empty right now.  Bookmark for later!).  I keep switching revenue streams.

I need to focus.

I think I'm desperately searching for a workflow/method that helps promote my zen.  There is a lot of stress in my life right now with an alcoholic husband in denial, three zany dogs, and a child on the autism spectrum.  Between my allergies, side-effects from anti-histamines, and other factors, I've been having panic attacks.  Zen and calm are very important.

Am I sharing too much right now?  Probably.  But it feels relevant.

There's also the fact that setting up for clean, crisp Etsy photos is a pain in the butt.  The only unused corner of the downstairs is the area by the fireplace, and it's unused for a reason.... bees.  Somehow honey bees have nested between the chimney and the body of the house, and they keep finding a way into the house... somewhere.  Before I rearranged the living room, the main lamp was attracting and killing somewhere around forty bees A DAY.  That's a lot of freakin' vacuuming.  Now they just die all over my photography setup, and I'm pretty sure I'm wiping pollen, not dust, off of all those surfaces.  Achoo.

If you're at all aware of the bee colony collapse syndrome, and how the planet's bees are dying or disappearing, then you understand why I don't want to have an exterminator come kill them.  Besides, my tomato plants need pollination.  What would be really good is learning enough beekeeping skills to know how to move them from our chimney to a beehive.  See?  Lack of focus.

Meanwhile, it takes an hour for me to set up for photography with all the dusting, adjusting, and cleaning of what is supposed to be a pure white background so I can get my white balance just right.  If I do all this for photos of two or three items, it feels like a colossal waste of time.  But if I wait until I have a decent number of items to shoot, then weeks will have passed, my shop looks dormant, and I have a crapload of pictures to upload and listings to write up all at the same time.

Listing ten items at once is not the way to do Etsy.  It just isn't.  There's a brief uptick in views/page hits every time something new gets listed singly.  Throw in three items at once, the numbers don't increase at all, and that's wasted opportunity.  And if I list everything all at once, but then only publish one item a day, I'll start second-guessing my copy, or the photographs, and then I waste a lot of time on rewrites and fiddling with photo filters.  NONE of which is creative or zen.

Sigh.  I'm 46 years old.  You'd think I would have discovered my routine by now.