Lovely Limoncello

I have always loved experimenting with food, and every once in a while I decide to try something new. A month or so ago I saw a recipe on Gizmodo about Limoncello.  I love lemonade in all its myriad forms and occasionally enjoy flavored vodkas (mixed into other things of course), and decided that this sounded like something fun to try.

Of course I decided to put a little twist on things. I made two versions; one with a little lavender, and a second without. I added the lavender to the satchel with the lemons.  I haven’t had a chance to try it yet so I’m not sure it’s made a difference, but we’ll see soon enough. limoncellos

I purchased some cute tear shaped bottles from Save On Crafts. With my one bottle of vodka, I made five smaller bottles of limoncello; I think I actually used too much simple syrup, but I like things sweet and the vodka smelled very strong to me, so I guess we’ll just have to see. I’m waiting for the bottles to chill in the freezer before I try it.

The AppleDainty Blog Giveaway – At One Spark!

So I am going to be showing this week at the One Spark festival. Part of my campaign involves a Kanzashi Giveaway. I’ll be giving away the Fireworks & Crane, the Red, White and Gold comb and the Vegas Bridal headband. If you’re going to be in the Jacksonville, FL area stop by and check it out! The Giveaway is free, of course, and any support you provide would be greatly appreciated.

AppledaintyGiveawayI am also going to be doing Contributor rewards for those decide to contribute to my project at the festival:


Everything is first come, first serve.  Looking forward to seeing everyone there!

Clara Example Portrait for One Spark

One Spark is fast approaching, and in preparation I am getting together lots of different art – including some examples of portraits that you can receive as a reward for contributing to my project. I’ll be posting more information on my official One Spark post next week, so keep an eye out for that. For now, here’s the pencil sketch and finished cool grey portrait.  I like how it turned out, but sometimes I feel like my sketches have a liveliness to them that my finished pieces don’t. Hmm. I’m going to tweak it a little in Photoshop (add some hints of color) but otherwise I’m pleased with it.


Fragments and Hollow

I have been plugging away (very slowly) at new pages for Fragments, my graphic novel that’s been years in the making. The last version I did was pretty close to what I wanted, but not quite. I feel that I’m closer now that I’m working in cool and warm grays and in marker instead of digital. I’ve never been especially fond of or good at digital coloring; maybe with more practice I could get somewhere, but something about the feel of the marker in my hand feels right. I’ve never felt as good about a digital piece as I have about something done traditionally. That’s not to say that I don’t value digital work of course – I would love to put more time and practice into it – but I feel more natural working with markers, pens and paints. I’ll post up some comparisons this weekend of an old page vs. a new page in markers.

I also wanted to mention that I have been working on an outline for a new story called Hollow. Fragments heavily features insomnia/loss of memory, and I think Hollow follows along a similar route but without the fantastical element. Hollow is based on something that happened to me in real life, mixed together with a little bit of everything else.

While I was in college one of my good friends from high school passed away. Well, passed away isn’t really the truth of it. The truth is that he took his own life. The truth is not what I was originally told, and the discovery of this truth was terrible. Originally I was told that he died heroically, saving other people. I can see why friends and family members would want him to be remembered this way, why they would not want to share the truth, but that just makes it harder when the truth finally comes out.

After learning the truth I started experiencing strange things in my apartment in Savannah. My doorbell started ringing randomly; it didn’t have any predictable pattern. It happened in the day and at night, rain or shine. If I went outside to look for ding dong  ditchers there was never anyone there. I started to have an inkling in the back of my mind that maybe I was being haunted by my friend; that he felt I should have helped him, answered his calls. I have never been superstitious, so I ignored that feeling.  The random ringing started to get annoying after a few weeks, and I eventually removed the doorbell.

But the doorbell didn’t stop ringing. That’s when the sneaking feeling in the back of my mind turned to full blown paranoia. I went outside to talk to the ghost, to ask for a sign. It was raining a lot at the time and I remember getting drenched with rain. Then, after another week or so, my cat decided to mess around with the door to the little closet holding the air conditioning unit. She got her claws stuck in the slats of the door, and I had to rescue her.  That’s when I found it; a second doorbell. It was tucked in beside the air conditioning unit.

My house had had two doorbells the entire time. I took out the first one,  but the second one was still there. It probably got shorted during one of the frequent storms that pass through the southeastern US, and that’s why it was ringing so randomly.
After I took it out, I never had a problem with the ringing again.

In a way, it was disappointing. On the one hand it was good to know I wasn’t going crazy, but on the other it was sad to have let the ghost go – to come to the finite conclusion that my friend was gone. Hollow is going to deal with these elements, a kind of discussion of coping with suicide. I’m planning on writing it out as a novel, maybe for NaNoWriMo, but I think it would actually end up working better as a comic. We’ll just have to see where this all goes.



Portraits I

Last week I fell behind a bit; more out of laziness than anything else. I have been working on artwork, just didn’t get around to documenting it on the blog last week.  I have been doing art related to my comics, in preparation for the One Spark Festival. I’m going to be participating as a Creator and trying to get funding for my graphic novel, Fragments.

I’ve been working on Fragments on and off since high school, so I think it’s about time I actually move forward with completing it. I drew almost the entire first chapter a few years ago, but was unsatisfied with the result. So, I’m working on a new version and I think this is going to be it.

I’ve also been working on a quilt project related to Portal, and I did some portraits for one of my workmates, Ny. They were pretty easy to do since they were based on photographs, and of course it was fun as well.  Here are some sketches and the final results.

The actual size of each piece is about 8.5×11. I charged her fifteen dollars for each one. Took me a few hours per piece to finish them. I think they turned out well. :) I’ll probably be doing more at the One Spark Festival, which I will be announcing more information on in the coming weeks; once the venue for my project is decided!


The Vegas Showbride

It’s been a long couple of weeks. I spent the majority of last weekend rolling around in my bed with a fever and cough and trying not to overdo it on nyquil, which makes me pretty loopy (no surprise there; pretty sure anyone who takes nyquil feels a bit loopy). I started feeling better last week, but it took a while for my ears to clear out.

Unfortunately, my co-worker Diane forgot to take the sparkly light-up kanzashi headband with her to Vegas; since she didn’t wear it she’s returning it to me and I’m still deciding if I want to put it in the Shop (which would make the shop less barren and empty, haha) or feature it in a giveaway or some kind of charity event. I’m not sure yet but I’ll let you all know when I figure it out.

Anyway, to celebrate my recovery from the clutches of the sinus plague, here I am revealing the long-awaited Vegas Showbride kanzashi headband:


Tadah! I think it did turn out pretty well, but I’m not sure when I’ll be approaching kanzashi again. I’ve got some other plans for the next few months so you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out.

And, of course, here’s a gallery of additional pictures:


Heather’s Orchid Pins

As I mentioned before, I did make some kanzashi as Christmas gifts this past December. this is one of my early projects, made just after I finished the dragonfly piece. They are a set of pins that I tried to make look like orchids. My sister-in-law, Heather, wore blue orchids in her hair during her wedding. Those are long gone, so I thought it would be nice to make ones that last.


I’m not a hundred percent sure I succeeded; they are reminiscent of orchids but don’t look exactly like them.

My second goal was to try different color combinations and use doubled petals. Some of the combinations worked better; the first one didn’t have enough of a color difference for it to be noticeable, unfortunately, but Heather liked them and that’s what matters. My favorite one is definitely the one with the leaves and silver deco wire.

That’s all for today. :) Until next time!



Fear of Success

My friend Allison has told me before that my biggest problem is not fear of failure, but fear of success. I’m not afraid of being good at things; I know that should I decide to work on something that I can execute it well. What I am afraid of are the expectations people will have of me if I do succeed. When people start expecting that I should make interesting, beautiful artwork I start feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Suddenly, I am making extensive lists of things I need to do and obsessing over having these lists in perfect order. I spend more time making lists than making art, and even it does nothing to alleviate my anxiety.

Last week Fear of Success and I met again. A couple weeks ago I found some interesting floral lights at WalMart before work. I bought a few of them thinking they would make and interesting addition to my kanzashi work. When I got to work I shared my discovery with my co-workers and explained my idea of making a light up head piece mounted on a headband. My co-worker Diane immediately said ‘If you make it, I’ll buy it from you’.  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. D:

Since she’s getting married soon I suggested making something for her bachelorette party. Little did I know that her bachelorette party was actually the following weekend in Las Vegas. I had less than a week to finish a piece that ended up being made up of more than twenty pieces, a veil which I sewed by hand and a headband. All in all I spent about 20 hours and $120 or so in supplies on this project.

I knew, logically, that I would be able to finish it by Thursday.  But, knowing that didn’t keep me from experiencing the crushing sense of anxiety I always get when I take on a big project. I got so frustrated at one point on Saturday that I had to lay down for a few hours and take a nap  to get away from the project. And that was early on too, when I had plenty of time to work. Here is a prep-related sneak peek.


When I finished the project (it’ll be showing up on the blog in a few weeks!) my fingers were cramped and slightly swollen from overuse and the tips of them were tender from being accidentally jabbed by wire ends, but I finished it. I thought I would feel more triumphant about it, more excited about swallowing down those anxieties and finishing well.

It turned out beautiful, but not exactly how I pictured it (but what really does?). I thought I would put leaves in originally; I just didn’t have time to do a dye lot and put together leaves and all the flowers. It’s beautiful though, and I can see that it is, but instead of feeling proud I actually felt more relieved when it was done. It wasn’t until I handed the box to Diane that I actually felt pride.

In the end the most important thing is that Diane loved it. I packed it up in a nice black box with crepe paper for protection and she got to unwrap it and test out the lights Thursday morning. I hope it gives her good luck in Vegas!

This weekend I want to do something a little simpler, I think. Maybe try some sewing or drawing. I have been wanting to do a Portal themed or Star Wars themed quilt and I’d have to come up with some designs and color concepts. Luckily this is a long weekend so I’ll be able to relax.

Anyhoo, that’s all from me for today.  Until next time!

Fireworks and Crane

Happy Monday everyone, and Martin Luther King  Jr. Day too! I actually have today of and I’m going to spend it relaxing and having a cooking date with my gentleman friend. He lives in Canada so to stay connected we Skype a lot and cook together. We take turns choosing different recipes, cook them at the same time then Skype as we eat.

Anyhoo, here is another kanzashi project that i actually started after the red white and gold comb. Since it was just after new year I wanted to do something with fireworks.


I think it turned out pretty well, but I do wish that I had had a little bit of gold wire to attach the gold firework to the hair fork with. I think that since everything was silver tone, aside from the gold firework piece, that it ended up working out aesthetically anyway.  Here’s the rest of the progress photos I took for this one. Not too many this time.

And that’s all I got for today. Happy Monday and I hope you have an awesome week!

The Intersection Between Games and Productivity

I have known since I was 12 years old that I wanted to do one thing with my life: draw comics. Art school was hard in some ways, but I would never trade the experience I had; for the most part it was amazing and I met so many wonderful people. However, I had never really experienced sexism or racism before. I didn’t really comprehend that was what I had encountered until after I had left; I was trying so hard to please people that I didn’t realize the subtext of some of their words. Something had changed in me, and I felt like I was poisoned. It was crushing to realize that after spending years to obtain my degree that I just didn’t want to draw comics anymore. But that’s not exactly the truth; I do want to draw comics – but I want to draw MY comics. I realize that last bit now.

After leaving college I kind of hit a brick wall with my art. I made schedules and tried to keep them but kept finding new ways to ignore my art; something had changed and it took a long time for me to realize that the person I was going into art school was not the same person who came out. I needed to take a step back and figure out what exactly it was that I wanted to do. I ran away to Japan hoping to find inspiration and a way back to the path I had always envisioned from myself.

Japan was a great experience. I came home and again started working on my comics, but after a few months I was experiencing the same struggle I’d been having before I left. That’s when my good friend told me that I needed to stop pressuring myself to do art. I needed to ignore it for a while, and when I was ready that I would go back. Then, he introduced me to games; specifically to Minecraft. He’d been trying to get me to game for years, and the most I would do is watch him play games while I worked on art. Now, at the age of 25, I finally decided to give games a shot.

I used to struggle a lot with feeling like I was wasting my time when I was playing games. I would think about how I should really be doing art or being productive in some other way. I would get these pangs, especially when I started thinking about how many comic ideas I have and how few of them I have actually executed. I fought with myself for weeks, then I made a conscious effort to stop fighting – to enjoy the game. All that internal battle did was drain me of creativity, and when you’re playing Minecraft you need all the creativity you can get. I made houses, and towns and elaborate striped onion domed buildings. I made aqueduct water slides for transportation and lights and music that came on at night (or whenever it rained; this was before light sensors were an actual thing in Minecraft; I had to make a bud switch with water and dirt!).

I don’t  believe games are not just time wasters, despite what some people would have you believe. I believe that games are a way of experiencing art that others have created; like reading a highly interactive book, looking at art in museums or watching a television show. Playing games has given me the inspiration to create my own worlds again. When I play a game I don’t just play it mindlessly – it makes me think to myself “What a cool piece of architecture, I want to draw something like that in my next book!” or “This character’s personality is really great, I hope my characters are this interesting.” Whether it’s dialogue or clothing design, cinematography or music, games are full of inspirational artwork. You would think that having gone to school with so many artists who ended up working in games, I would have played them more, but I was concerned about the addictive qualities of games. And yes, for I while I was very addicted.

I think I have found a balance now. I work during the week and squeeze in what art I can in my off hours, and on the weekends I’ll do a combination of art and games. It has been working out pretty well so far, and I’m hoping that I can ease myself into being more and more productive with my art as this year goes along – and maybe start exercising more and eating better too; baby steps!