Momma Told Me: September 2012

Blog Archive

Movie Night Swap: Reveal

As you all know I've become addicted to what the blogger world knows as 'swaps'; think of it as a sort of Secret Santa meets PenPal. Most recently I discovered a Movie Night swap ran by Linny's Vault and Miss. Attitude.

It's pretty simple, this (semi) quarterly event pairs participants with the same partner they will be receiving from. You let your partner know your favorite genre of movies and they put a box in the mail with a note, 1-2+ films, 2 of their favorite movie candies, 2+ bags of popcorn, and a little trinket. The shopping budget is standard, $15, but shoppers are always welcome to throw extras in if they're savvy.

I was partnered with Amber of Amber's Life Blog (click to see what I sent her), and received 2 excellent date night flicks; 27 Dresses and Bounty Hunter.  I've seen 27 Dresses a million times and loved adding it to my collection, Amber hit the nail on the head there! I was also thrilled about Bounty Hunter (featuring Gerard Butler, of one of my favorite all time flicks P.S.  I Love You). Surprisingly I have yet to see the whole film, and I can't wait! I also received some popcorn packs, Buncha Crunch (with a suggestion to throw it into my popcorn), Raisinets, and a cute earring and necklace set. I am so thrilled with my box, and can't thank Amber enough! I can't wait to participate in the Winter swap!

Diesel & Juice- Custom Pet Portraits, Giveaway on Our Pet Blog!

**This post was first featured on our Pet Blog, Time Out For Truffles. If you enjoy adorable pet pics, advice, and pet reviews, head on over and subscribe today!

It's not hard to see I am absolutely smitten with our furry family members; they are the perfect kids, for the most part. And, much like any other parent, I am biased to think that mine are the cutest/most well behave (okay, I know they are terrors, but I love them anyway)/talented/intelligent/(insert gushing term here). Similar to children, however, not all looking in see them the same way I do. In fact, to outsiders, Truffles is known as the 'unfriendly' one, while Frankie is known as the 'nice' one, and Nora... well, she's just the baby. Because you do not know Truffles, your only glimpse of her is my motherly descriptions- of course, I like to think I am objective. Never have I portrayed her as a people loving cat, or the world's friendliest pet. She's attached to me, and is extremely hesitant of new people, furry or otherwise. Walk up to Truffles, stranger, and she'll likely turn her ears back and growl. She's relatively harmless, but not exactly warm.

Social quirks aside, Truffles has one of the best personalities I've ever come across. She's 100% cat, yes- touch her when she allows you to touch, feed her OR ELSE, and if it's on the floor it might as well be a cat toy. But how many cats do you know that are trained to use the (human) toilet, fetch beanie babies 1/4 their size, and have their own website? Okay, I helped a little with the latter, but Truffles likes the virtual attention, so long as it's spearheaded by me. And, as much as she prefers to maintain the illusion of solidarity, this kitty has to be by my side at all times- following me through rooms, and mewing at closed doors; especially the bathroom. She may not be the prettiest cat, though I think she holds her own in that department; she's quite 'generic' tuxedo, in fact- but to me, she is a star.

Because my pets are my kids, and it seems they are changing, and developing as individuals each day, I take hundreds of photos. I've even started this blog to document their mishaps, training and adventures. So, when I came across Diesel & Juice, it's clear why I was instantly enamored. On it's own, Michele Nicolette's portfolio is whimsically enchanting; beautiful illustrations of living and inanimate objects alike. Having done a brief stint at the Art Institutes of L.A. at 17 (way too young to know my direction, or have the solo drive to achieve my goals), I have a tremendous respect for the time and attention to detail Michele puts into each Illustrator based creation. Adobe Illustrator is a wonderful graphics tool, but the artist must do all of the work intelligently, and meticulously, to layer and create overlapping shapes that blend visually as one seamless image. Having slaved through hundreds of hours of Illustrator in 'art school', I can instantly appreciate the precision of Diesel & Juice's pet portraits. I can also see just how much Michele has grown as a digital artist.

While some of her earlier pet portrait commissions are bolder, more simplistic renderings, her more recent work has focused on minute details and intricate shading that truly brings to life the personality of each pet. Artist Michele creates each of these masterpieces by first digitally drawing a frame of the pet, directly in Illustrator. Next, she works to layer colors and shapes to build the animal, or object. When creating a pet portrait commission she is sure to learn about the animal as an individual so she can recreate mannerisms and personality in her pieces. Customers are asked to provide various photo examples of their pet, for reference, but Michele builds much of her concept from the entire customer interaction, which enables her to bring the portrait to life. While she is happy to pose your pet in any requested situation, she does not necessarily create a duplicate of any one photo, and is highly capable of creating a one-of-a-kind rendering of your pet.

Michele was kind enough to create a custom illustration of Ms. Truffles, for a feature here on Time Out For Truffles. Before we'd even begun the conception process I was tickled with this woman, whose emails were full of personality. However, I can assure you she is quite the professional artist, asking all the right questions to determine Truffles' character, and to brainstorm an appropriate piece of work. Shortly after I had first sent over some reference photos Michele same back with two thoughts; to post Truffles laying (as many of her photos showcased her), or to feature her 'fetching' one of her infamous Beanie Babies. I opted for the latter, and suggested we go with Goldie, the goldfish, for its juxtapose of the cat vs. fish conundrum. A few short days later Michele has a proof for me to preview- a relatively complete version, compared to the ending result.

While I was immediately tickled with the realistic likeness, and quality, of the illustration, I anted to test her skills just a little more. I asked Michele to add a few characteristics that were not visible in photos, including some stray (White) hairs by the base of her tail. A minor detail that, in no way defined the image as Truffles any more, to anyone but me- but a change Michele was happy to accommodate. This took a few emails back and forth (placement and size), but turned out perfect. I had also requested that the 'butt' and hang tags for Goldie be added. Last, but not least, I chose a background, from a selection of provided shades, Purple- Truffles' color. With the piece complete I was dumbfounded, turning from screen to cat, an back- the likeness was uncanny. Somehow Michele had managed to capture the sparkle of mischief in Truffles. I an not sing enough praise of the personality of this artist, or her skill. She has been a true pleasure to work with, and I have already been in talks to commission a paid piece for a Christmas gift.

While Diesel & Juice has a wide range of gallery portraits, prints, stickers, and more- it's hard not to highlight Michele's custom work. Her prices are modest for the time and detail put in, and sure to be the highlight of any recipient's year. Inspired by her own furry children, Diesel the Bulldog, and Juice the Cat, Michele brings to light the depth of our best friends and commemorates them far beyond any photos or words. Custom portraits offer many options for prints, and International shipping is available (pricing determined by rates)- there is no reason not to connect with Diesel & Juice today for your own work of art. I can't stop showing ours off!

One Time Out For Truffles follower will win their very own Custom Pet Portrait from Diesel & Juice, click above to head on over and enter!

Not Even Close To Wordless, Wednesday: Comikaze 2012 Snapshots

This past weekend marked the second annual return of Stan Lee's Comikaze to the L.A. Convention Center. If you've never heard of it, don't feel bad- neither had I until we passed a billboard, a few weeks back, on our way to an Angels V. Red Sox game. I don't think I really try to hide my nerd side here, but I suppose it may come as a shock to see me deviate from tech and fashion to share a glimpse of my inner geek. In truth, I've always wanted to go to a larger convention, such as ComicCon but, let's face it, I can't seem to get my act together to get to BlogHer, let alone several days of pure recreation and spending in San Diego. So I donned my Converse, my favorite pair of jeans, and a Panda hood, and hopped in the car for an afternoon of nonsensical cosplay, mind bending panels, and over-priced merchandise.

Only in it's second year, Comikaze is Stan Lee's convention baby; and also a baby in the sense of convention size. Running just 2 days, this event filled one smaller wing of the L.A. convention center. I didn't mind, as I only have enough attention span for 4-5 hours anyhow, and the entrance fee was a modest $20. In fact, parking was near as much at $15, and the only grumble in terms of value. Those familiar with conventions know your average ticket will easily run you over $40, and the fact this was virtually in my backyard made it a no brainer. I had to attend.

Now, I wouldn't call myself a 'comic' enthusiast, but Comikaze was much more than graphic paper novel stars. In fact, it was co-chaired by Elvira, Mistress of The Night, promising some great sci-fi and even Horror integration. Even if you are not interested in the various celebrity panels, autograph station, 'live' Quidditch match, or otherwise, the $20 admission was well worth the experience of walking around. While I am certain some of the 'characters' we encountered were professionals for entertainment purposes (see Captain Jack), the majority was comprised of ordinary fans participating in Cosplay. Superhero imitators were everywhere, with some impressively professional costumes and accessories. It was entertaining to simply walk around and try to guess them all! Some of my favorite moments include the Jedi Elvis (who has his own website) posing with Xena and Friend, Nyan Cat, a Red Twi'lek, and live character of Dark Helmet (Spaceballs). Of course there were also multiple Storm Troopers and Lokis walking around too!

I was torn about the inclusion of Celebrity Autograph Stations, which highlighted classic actors such as Lou Ferrigno (of Hulk fame) and Richard Anderson (Six Million Dollar Man). Primarily, I found the classic sci-fi actors to be poorly targeted for the 20 something demographic in attendance. I actually was a little sad to see Mr. Anderson tucked away in a corner (between two merchandise booths), with no attention at all. And Mr. Ferrigno was charging $40 for a simple autograph, which tended to alienate those who actually did recognize him. I'd rather pay additional for a special program that permitted me to collect autographs free of charge, rather than see stars set their own self worth.

One of the cooler elements of Comikaze was the presence of the R2-D2 Builders Club, which meticulously creates operational and life size replicas of big screen animations. Wandering through the crowd was Wall-E, interacting with children and just plain adorable with those big, sad, eyes! Of course there were a few R2 units moving around as well.

Personally, the biggest highlight for me was the SyFy Face Off Station, where Season 2's finalists were hard at work on a cast of Batman characters. I just love the shot above, because you can see the Joker in the background, Orchid in the foreground, and Ivy to the right. (Ivy's face is covered in this shot, but more visible in the earlier shot. Honestly, I could watch these artists work all day, I find it simply fascinating, and getting to check back in on the progress throughout the afternoon was a real treat!

Of course there were plenty of vendors selling amazing collectibles and handmade wares. Surprisingly I didn't spend a dime! I did, however find one curiosity I couldn't live about and spent the remainder of that night guilting my boyfriend for letting me walk away without buying it.....No fear, I have acquired it on Amazon, and will be showing it off, here, very soon!

**Note: This post was in no way solicited. All opinions there in are mine and mine alone.

Bucket List Tuesday: #8 Wish Lantern Ceremony

Welcome to the second installment of my newest series: Bucket List Tuesdays. For those unfamiliar with the term, you'd be correct in assuming this moniker comes from the somewhat morbid, tongue in cheek, 'kick the bucket' adage. A Bucket List is often associated with those who've recently come to terms with their mortality, facing their golden years with retirement on the way, or in unfortunate cases those who have received an ill prognosis. However, it is my belief that we all have a hidden bucket list inside us. Remember that time you heard your cousin went skydiving and thought 'Someday,' with a chuckle? Or perhaps the little whim that often arises when you get the itch to travel- 'I'd like to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine, someday.' Yes, these are often things accompanied by 'someday', and can range from pure absurdity to life altering experiences. Essentially the are goals for life, hopes for a lifetime of limited years, in a world of limitless experiences.

It's my hope that, in writing this series, I may inspire you to consider a Bucket List for yourself, and I may be motivated to slowly begin chipping away at my own. Each week (or every other week, as time allows), I'll give you a glimpse at a different spot on my ever-growing list. If I'm actively working on them, I'll share with you my experiences thus far, if I'm not quite there yet, perhaps you can help guide me down the right path.

This week I'd like to share with you something I'm ashamed to admit I first discovered on an episode of the Bachelorette. Why am I ashamed? Because this age old, very sacred in it's origins, practice has been around for hundreds of years as part of many cultural ceremonies. I was chocked to find my initial discovery had to be on mainstream American television, when I consider myself well versed in the practices of varying cultures. In fact geography and culture have long been passions of mine; thirsting to understand the unique beliefs and practices of people world wide. How I had never before seen a Sky (Wish) Lantern ceremony, or heard of it's purpose floored me. The visual images were stunning on film, and the tangible premise so whimsical- it was an instant candidate for my bucket list.

The practice of writing/drawing on a paper lantern, then releasing it in tandem with a group of others is known as a Sky Lantern ceremony. Practiced across many Asian cultures for centuries, the particular practice of wish releasing is thought to have began in association with Chinese New Year ceremonies as far back as 3rd Century B.C., China. Citizens would write their hopes, and fears, on these blank canvases, then release them into the atmosphere. It symbolized not only a cleansing of fears and anxiety for impending times, but to release their innermost hopes and dreams towards the heavens. It is believed that any misfortune is cast away with the release of one's lantern. This was a practice not limited by class, practiced among all citizens. Poorer families would release one solitary lantern, while the royal and elite would often release hundreds in hopes for their people's prosperity as a whole. In more modern times, the practice of Wish Lantern Ceremonies have become much more commercial, and romantic.

There's a chance you've seen a similar site depicted in a popular movie, wedding planning program, or even cartoon (such as Disney's Tangled). Many North American participants have adapted from Indian practices relying on more colorful, individual lanterns; where as the dramatic wedding releases will feature more traditional (large) white paper lanterns. In modern day Thailand, this practice is most authentic, with lantern ceremonies engaging thousands of participants during seasonal celebrations. Here, colored lanterns are associated with various themes; green for growth, purple for opportunity, etc. Not only is the sight beautiful, I can only imagine the magic of casting ones innermost hopes and fears towards the sky amidst a body of similarly romantic individuals. The smell of the fuel, the warmth of the lifting lanterns, the fleeting glow of ascending twinkles in the night's sky....

While ti would be exceedingly romantic to fit this into my dream (outdoor) wedding, in an open field, surrounded by family and friends- I would like to one day experience this on large scale, as authentic as possible. Short of traveling to Thailand, my best bet for a local experience would be a Lantern Festival celebrating Chinese New Year, somewhere in February (the Lantern Festival is held annually on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar calendar). Because of the high rise buildings an fire risks, most of the downtown Los Angeles releases are by rooftop, though discouraged by authorities. I'd love to, perhaps, catch one here along the coast one day....

Have you ever seen or participated in a Wish Lantern Ceremony?

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This post was in no way solicited or sponsored. Opinions contained therein are mine, and mine alone. Any companies mentioned are for editorial purposes.