Category Archives: Art

LitJoy Magical Subscription Crate

Every now and then, I treat myself to a subscription…for at least a few months. I’ve done healthy snacks, lipbalms, and snacks from around the world. Now I’m trying something a little more pricy than my usual, but it’s so quality that it’s worth it! Meet the LitJoy Magical Crate.

Last week, I got my first box, and even the outside was magical.

Inside, was a fantastic collection of magical items, and the packaging was just as beautiful as the actual things. The first thing I pulled out was this metal tin filled with individual tea bags. I’m not a huge tea-drinker, but the smell of this tea was extraordinary! Just like chocolates and raspberries. Yummy!

Next was a glass perfume bottle. Again, look at the packaging!

They gave me a print of the design on the box, which I love, and a bookmark.

There were three metal pins. I particularly love the two alley ones.

A very thick and heavy coin, demonstrating the proper wand movement for a wand spell.

And the wand itself. In a gorgeous box.

A magical pet toad (and this one was my least favorite, just because I don’t think the toad is very cute. I love toads, but this one is just…blah.) But still adorable packaging!

And this contraption. Again, I am so impressed with how quality everything is. This is made of some very solid, heavy metals.

And it works!

Even the sheet of paper explaining what each item is, and who made it, is a work of art.

Over all, I’m deeply impressed, and looking forward to my next book, which will arrive around my birthday in January. Perfect timing!

Art & What I’ve Been Doing While It Rains

As some of you know, I support my chickens by working at my local library. This month is going to be particularly cool, because we are hosting one of our local artists, Karen Bakke. Every Saturday in February, she will be live at the library, painting! This past Saturday was her first, and it was so much fun to watch.


She’s super sweet, and so kind. I followed her on Instagram, and she saw pictures of my costumes and says she would like to paint me! How cool would that be?


She also has a display of her art hanging at the library all month, and I am in love with almost all of them. I couldn’t find pictures of my favorites on her social media, so you’ll have to come down to the library and see them in person.


She also does custom art, like this splendid corgi portrait:


Ya’ll know I am partial to corgis! Her art is also very reasonably priced, something I do appreciate as a person who is supporting many hungry chickens. I actually bought one of her paintings, this wonderful bluebird:


I can’t wait to see what she paints this Saturday!


Besides a new favorite artist, I’ve also discovered miniature room kits. They come with everything you need (including tweezers, paint, and glue) to recreate a miniature room – they even have a light! I bought one for my birthday gift to myself…no surprise, I chose the library/bookstore.


They come in a box with literally thousands of pieces, and everything is really amazing quality. I wasn’t expecting everything to be so nice – not for $24! I would have guessed this kit would cost more like $50+.  Some of the books open, with illustrated pages you can flip through. You even put together and upholster the red chair! It was so much fun to do. The only changes I made were to change out the flooring to “wood”, paint the walls yellow, and add the mini cats. Because how can you have books without cats? I’ve put it on my bookshelf, where it seems to fit.


If you want to watch a video of someone building one of these:

I totally want to do another one, but it will probably have to wait until after Spring. They have the cutest little tea shop I have my eye on….

In between the monsoon of rain we’ve been having, I’ve also made it out into the garden a few days to begin the year’s Spring projects. Every since they tore down a nearby abandoned house, we’ve had a rat problem, and since the protective wire on the bottom of many of my animal’s housing is nearly ten years old, it’s starting to give way. And I will not feed and house rats. No way.  Even though I love pet rats and every time I catch one in the live trap I think “You are so cute!”….right before I kill it.

The Muscovy drake, at least, appears to be doing one of the jobs I got him for. When he was young, I used to find rats scurrying out of his coop in the early evening before I locked the ducks up. I haven’t seen a single rat around the duck coop lately. And a few days ago, when the ducks were over by the chicken coop, I heard a squeaking, and looked over to see the drake had grabbed a small rat and was vigorously attempting to destroy it. Good on him!

So to force the rats to move on to somewhere else, we just redid the protective wire on the chicken coop, and got them a new rat-proof feeder. I just put the feeder up yesterday, so it’s too soon to tell, but so far the chickens seem to be learning how to use it, and it seems quality and like it will do its job. I also replaced the wire on the pigeon coop, and while I was at it, built them new nestboxes. I’ll do a separate post on that later. Next up, I’ll be remodeling the quail coops, and Cocoa the angora rabbit’s hutch. And fixing up a couple of the unused coops to prepare for the new ducks and chickens coming this spring (meat birds).

And then. And then, guys…I’ll finally be able to build a BRAND NEW coop, for a BRAND NEW critter coming to the urban farm. No, not the goose. She is coming, but she’ll live with the chickens as their guard. No, I’m going to mail order some fancy doves! I had doves eons ago, and I miss them. They have such wonderful sounds, from the gentle coo, to the manic laugh! I’m still debating, but I think I’m going to get the tangerine color.


Really wish this rain would let up a little…I’ve got so much to do before planting season begins!

A Corgi in Watercolor

I have a weakness for watercolor art. Part of it is how wild and unpredictable it seems, to work with water.  One of my friends, Colette Griffith, recently discovered she has a talent for watercolor, and has been making some gorgeous paintings. One of them is a custom portrait of my corgi, Dexter.

I gave her this photo of Dexter:


And she painted this portrait:


I think she truly captured him! (I particularly love how she did his paws…I’m a “paw person” and I always loved Dexter’s big corgi feet!) I’m definitely going to ask her to paint me another…as soon as I settle on which animal/photo.

Colette enjoys doing custom art, and she told me she’s currently doing several paintings of business storefronts. She does amazing architectural watercolors.




Her animals, as you’ve already seen with Dexter, are wonderful too.



It’s entirely possible my next request of her will be a chicken. Ellie, my favorite soul-mate chicken, already has one watercolor portrait of her…but what queen doesn’t need more than one official portrait?

If you would like Colette to do a watercolor for you (a pet, storefront, or childhood home, perhaps?) she is accepting commissions, and her prices are extremely reasonable.  It depends on the subject and size, but mine of Dexter was only $20!

She is still working on settling up a website, but you can contact her at

Steamcon V

I just got home yesterday from Steamcon V, and it was a blast, as usual.  Only thing bad about it?  It went by in such a blur that it almost feels like it didn’t happen.  Usually time slows down and stretches out when I’m at these costume events, but not this time.

One of the two things I was particularly excited about was meeting artist Brian Kesinger.  I have been in love with his Tea Girls for awhile now, and I adore his new book about Victoria and her domestic pet cephalopod.  So sweet and funny!

I brought my book, and he was extremely nice and not only signed it, but drew me an Otto as well!

I am utterly charmed by geeky artists.

While I’m speaking of art, I’ll share a couple of prints I bought from awesome artists I met.

This one is by Robin E. Kaplan.  I actually bought four of hers, but I love this one the best.

This one is by Jessica Van Hulle.  Ferrets!

And, of course, I got all of them signed.  Super lovely people.

The other thing I was most excited about was the concert.  Abney Park, Frenchy and the Punk, and Professor Elemental.  One of my friends admitted to having a just a bit of a crush on the Professor.  I’m sure you all know about my feelings for Captain Robert of Abney Park.  I think this concert made all of us happy.  I know I have sore calf muscles today from all the jumping I did with Abney Park, and even though rap is normally not my thing, the Professor was charming.

I’m not crushing on him yet, but I definitely saw the appeal.  His free-style rap was pretty amazing – he had people in the audience hold up objects and he’d work them into a song.  He got everything from steampunk’d light sabers, to goggles, to a banana.  I’m particularly thrilled about the banana.

Frenchy and the Punk’s drumming were awesome.

And, of course, what can I say about Abney Park?  I was a little sorry that Robert didn’t do his normal bantering with the crowd, but their energy is always so infectious.  And I was happy that they did quite a few of my favorite songs, including Dear Ophelia.

For my concert outfit, I wanted something light and easy to wear, so I cobbled together parts of my steampunk saloon girl costume and the red velvet birdcage costume.

This was on Saturday night.  On Friday, I wore my Airship Pirate costume.  This was my first-ever steampunk creation, and I get more people writing me and wanting to buy this one than all of my others combined!  I have worn it several times, but never to Steamcon.  It was time.

That is my little pet cephalopod, Oswin, on my shoulder.  I’m totally taking him to England and Scotland with me when I go, and photographing him in famous places.  Brian Kesinger wants me to send him photos of Oswin’s adventures!


My friend Melinda wore the relaxed version of her Ottoman outfit and looked fantastic.  You can read about her costumes on her new blog.  She does impeccable work.

I’m trying to convince her that we should do 1830-1840s steampunk next year.  Enough bustles!  Let’s have big skirts and hilarious sleeves!

One interesting thing Steamcon did this year (to go with the theme of Around the World) was give us all passports.

And then we could collect stamps from vendors, artists, etc.

One person embossed her stamp.  Pretty cool!

The best costumes come out on Saturday.  I wore my Steampunk Mummy costume.

I’m particularly pleased with how the skirt came out.  And the headdress was entirely sculpted by me, and has real beetle wings as “feathers”.

I had the fabulous silhouette cutter Kerry Cook do my portrait.  She asked for a picture of me in my costume afterward and had me sign a model release.  She’s working on a book, and might like to include my portrait and costume!

Melinda wore the fancier, teal-ified version of her ottoman – I love it when a costume can be worn several different ways!

Besides her costume, some of my other favorites were:

A Steampunk Ravenclaw!  I love this, because last year I did the Steampunk Hufflepuff, and it’s cool to see another Potter-geek doing their own version.

I love the back.

Lady Loki.  Those horns were incredible.

Asian steampunk.  Always a favorite!

Another Ottoman steampunk:

A TARDIS hat makes a gentleman 100% more dashing!

Great color combination on this one….

But my absolute favorites were this couple.  So gorgeous!

I also met up with my favorite stalker (kidding!) Teya and her SO Jon.  They are fabulous people who want to get chickens and maybe raise quail.  I stole this picture from Jon’s site, he has lots more from Steamcon and he’s a better photographer than I am, so go check them out.


Sunday is pretty relaxed at Steamcon (everyone is recovering from the concert and other parties and balls) so I wore a mainly-thrifted outfit.  The only things I made were the waist cincher, the striped bustle, and the hat. (Tyson, that’s the Octopus pin you gave me!)

Oswin got to come out to play with me, too.  😉

My three panels went well, and were fun.  One of these days I’m going to see if they’d like me to do panels on either distressing costumes or using beetle wings in costuming.

And…what else?  There didn’t seem to be nearly so many ribbons floating around as usual – I only managed to net four (but one was a Hall Costume Award, so that was cool!)  Even the folks that were actively pursuing ribbons didn’t have the long, long, long, loooong collections I usually see.  Last year one woman had over 200!

But at least I got my Effin ribbon!

Steampunk Ladies Who Hunt Monsters

I’ve been secretly working on an exciting new project, and now is the time to reveal it to all of you.  You all know I’m into writing, steampunk, costumes, and monsters, right?  Well, I’m putting all those things together and creating a book.


It’s a full novel, about a female steampunk monster hunter named Philomena Dashwood.  She travels the globe in search of exotic monsters, romance, and that perfect little pair of goggles.   My partner-in-crime and I are calling it “Jane Austin meets Scooby Doo” because it is such a perfect mix of humor and manners, mingled with some very real scares.  It will be illustrated with photographs taken by Tyson Vick, and he and I are creating over 80 costumes for the models and actors to wear.

The first chapter is up on our website, and I’d love to hear what you guys think!

AND, I need your help.  We need pay models, fund travel costs to photoshoot locations, and buy fabric for all those costumes, so we’ve put up a kickstarter.  You can find it here, and we have some pretty good incentives to donate to the project.

If you’re going to be at Steamcon this year, come and find me – I’ll have special ribbons and postcards to hand out, AND I’ll be modeling one of the costumes that will be featured in the book: The Steampunk Mummy.

Steampunk Photoshoot

Remember last year when I did a steampunk photoshoot with fabulous photographer Tyson Vick?  It was for a magazine called Dark Beauty, and it has finally been published, and I can finally share the photos.

All the female costumes were made by me.

Aren’t they beautiful?  And woot!  My costumes are in the same issue with the likes of artist Brian Kesinger (one of my very favorites!) and the League of Steam!  Brian Kesinger is coming to Steamcon this year.  I’m so bringing my print copy of the magazine and having him sign it…


Best Books of 2012

I just barely made my annual goal of reading 150 books; this year the book-reading machine was derailed by spending lots of time poking around in guidebooks to Egypt, Jordan, and England.  I did not count most of those books in my reading totals.

But here’s my list of the Best of the Best of those 150 that I read.  In sort-of descending order…meaning that I save the best three for last.

1) Going Bovine by Libba Bray


I find so many of my very favorite books by reading books my friends hate.  Why is that?  Do we really have such opposing tastes?  But I honestly don’t see how anyone could hate this book. It’s a smart, clever, snarky real-life fantasy with heart and social commentary and brilliance all wrapped up with yard gnomes and mad cows.

2) Surviving Survival by Laurence Gonzales


I’m reading a lot more non-fiction that I used to, which is excellent.   This one is completely fascinating. And if anything horrible has happened to destroy your life, this book might actually bring you genuine help and relief.

3) Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost


Now this is the kind of travel book I like, one that doesn’t feel it has to sugar-coat anything. I couldn’t put it down! And I kept reading bits of it aloud to anyone who happened to be in the room with me, which is a sure sign I’ve found a truly fascinating book.

That said, if you’re planning a trip to China, this book just might change your mind. I’ve never really felt much desire to visit China in person, and now? I’ve *definitely* absolutely crossed it off my list of to-go places in the world. Just the pollution alone…GAH. I’m not sure the Chinese are going to live long enough to become the next Superpower in the world.

4) The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne Valente


Absolutely brilliant language, characters, and storytelling. If this book has a flaw, it’s that the language is *so* lovely and perfect, that I found it difficult to be sucked into the story at first. I just kept reading every single sentence over again and examining it like I would a jewel.  It’s technically a ‘children’s book’, but if you’re the sort of person who shuns reading a book because it’s shelved in the children’s area, then shame, shame, shame on you.

5) Breasts by Florence Williams


I was introduced to this book when a particular skeevy guy handed it over the library front desk to me…with a particularly skeevy smile. I started flipping through it, and while I imagine the skeevy guy was quite disappointed by it, I was captivated.  Fascinating, educational, and you (yes YOU!) have to read it if you own a pair of breasts – and especially if you ever plan on having children. The chapter on breast milk blew my mind, and I now believe breast milk to be one of the most amazing things on the planet.

6) White People by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Such a lovely story on the fear of death, and why that fear shouldn’t exist.

7) Stay Awake by Dan Chaon


I was SO HAPPY when I saw this book on my to-be-processed cart at my library. Dan Chaon is an absolute master (and my personal favorite) in the short story genre. His language is like poetry – and in this collection, numerous times it literally does slip into poetry, in the most natural way possible. I find myself re-reading sections: the first and second time because they were so beautiful, and then again because I want to discover how he did that…right there. That perfect bit of writing.

My story favorite is definitely the last: “The Farm. The Gold. The Lily-White Hands.” Haunting. I think it’s now on my list of the five best short stories ever written.

8) The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton


So good, and so well done. It’s really quite impossible to put this book down.  I loved the interweaving of the the past and the present.  It’s a perfect example of how to do that style of writing.

9) Meditations on Violence by Rory Miller


This book is not about the martial arts, or at least the majority of the book is not. The book is actually about how to prepare yourself to survive violence of any kind, and the reasons why you might, or might not. Fascinating, because Miller lives with extreme violence as a daily event, and knows of what he speaks. I particularly appreciate that his emphasis is on avoidance; his belief is that although there are times when violence is unavoidable, for most ‘ordinary’ people, it IS avoidable, simply by the decisions we make, daily. But we can’t make the right decisions if we don’t understand what we’re doing, and that’s where this book could become a life-changer.

Highly, highly recommended to everyone, women and men. Especially if you think you don’t need a book like this!

10) Violence: A Writer’s Guide by Rory Miller


I have several characters in my head that are professional criminals. I’ve always been pretty sure I know what their mindset is, but I was excited to read this book, because if I was wrong, I knew I could trust the author to shatter my illusions. (Rory Miller is the Real Deal.)

It turns out I actually do have a handle on real violence and the criminal mind! What Miller says in this book is nearly exactly what I already believed to be true, so yay me and my fictional fiends.

And then he adds on brilliant information on what exactly being tasered is like, what different types of bullets do to the human body, and where and how to strike if you want to cause someone the most pain and/or incapacitate them the fastest. And much, much more. Valuable knowledge, this.

And I love how he cuts through the politically-correct BS, and talks about the difference between men and women when it comes to violence, and how female police officers SHOULD be trained, as opposed to male officers. And when it came to women protecting themselves by avoiding dangerous situations, I wanted to stand up and applaud:

“When I tell someone that the most important thing a young woman can do to avoid being raped is to avoid places with lots of young men (and if you absolutely have to go to those place, don’t drink) the dumb responses range from: ‘Girls have a right to have fun’ to ‘You’re just blaming the victim’ all the way up to the ludicrous, ‘A woman should be able to walk naked into a biker bar and not be bothered.’ These are political ideals. They might even be the way the world should work. They are not the way the world actually works. The responsibility for self-protection has to rest with the potential victim because the potential rapist has no interest whatsoever in her safety or rights. The potential victim is the one who cares.”

11) The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater


This is The Best Book I read in 2012.  Sometimes, when you read a book, it’s so different from the inside of your own head that it feels prickly, or cruel, or too big inside you. Sometimes, you love a book for just those reasons, for the differences between you. Sometimes, you read a book like that over and over and over again, until it alters the actual shape of your brain. And then you say: This book changed my life. And you love it for the rest of your life.

And sometimes, a book just is you. From the first moment you begin reading, it’s already the most perfect size and shape. The Raven Boys is that kind of book for me. It just feels so comfortable; it’s something I could have written myself, the language, the humor – it’s all so perfectly me. These characters…wow. I never even really cared about the plot, I wasn’t reading because I needed to know what the ending was, I just wanted to be here, spending time with these people. They fit me.


Do you have a favorite book you read this year?  I’m always looking for suggestions!  🙂

Steampunk Carousel

I have finally found something in Paris that’s actually worth going to see.  Okay…Paris is officially on the list for my *next* vacation.  (The one after Egypt.)

And they are working on adding even more animals!

This is seriously amazing!

My Travel Journal Arrived!

All the way from the Philippines.  It’s so awesome.  I love getting things from people in other countries; just the packaging alone is often amazing.  This one, sadly, did not come sewn in a fabric bag (India) or with cool little stamps all over it (Asia).  But it was wrapped very nicely inside:

And Nadja, the lady who made it, wrote a personal note for me:

I’d mentioned what I was intending to use it for, and she remembered.

There was also another envelope with printed information on how the journal was made.

But now…on to the unwrapping of the journal itself:

The first page is embossed with the Alunsina stamp:

The last page has an owl.  I love owls, so this is a lovely surprise!

It’s perfect, it’s gorgeous, and I can’t wait to fill it.  I’ve already decided that the wrappings and Nadja’s letter will be permanent additions.   I’ll also begin writing in it, long before it’s time for my travels.  Things like my plans and hopes for the trip, and as things get finalized, my itinerary.  The first thing I’m going to look for is a few perfect lines of poetry for the first page.

If you’d like an Alunsina journal of your own, you can find their Etsy shop here, as well as many more styles of journals on their facebook page.

Thank you Nadja and Enan!

Memory after Death

Neil Gaiman recently answered a question on how he’d like to be remembered.

Funny, because I’ve considered this same question…and come to a similar conclusion.  I don’t care if anyone remembers me or not.  Once I’m gone from this world, I’ll be moving on to bigger and better things…and what anyone does with my ‘stuff’ or my ‘name’ doesn’t bother me at all.  That includes my body as well.  The last thing I’d want is some big memorial thing, with a costly coffin and grave.  That’s not me, that just…hair clippings and dust.  Just dig a hole somewhere and dump my body in.  And don’t bother going back to ‘visit’ me…I’m not there!  Actually, as long as I die after my mother (who is freaked out by this idea!) I’d love to donate my body to The Body Farm.  Might as well do some good with it, and I’ve long been fascinated by the work they do there.

But I actually didn’t intend to get into that.  What I’d like to happen after I die, is not to be remembered for hundreds of years, but to be completely forgotten.  And then, for some item I’ve created to be found, and some girl like myself to spend a few minutes enjoying that thing, and to wonder who I was, and why I made it.

Like with this piece of embroidery:

The only thing we know about this is that it was made by a child of 8 -11 years old.  (Wow!) We don’t know her name.  But how awesome it is to imagine her making it.  Why?  Was it intended to be a gift? For who?  And on what occasion?

Or this:

Or this:

I love the mystery more than the memory.