Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blog Update and Vlog #2

First up and most important: Thank you SO much, everyone, for the great feedback on my first vlog.  That was absolutely terrifying for me to do (and share --- eek!).  I can't thank everyone enough for the support.  ((hugs)) all around!


I promise I am not going to give up on this blog!  The current computer situation is:

For Christmas, Jeff bought me a new laptop.  Which was a total dud.  He spent hours on the phone with tech support and ended up returning it.  Then he bought me another one.  It worked great!  It was beautiful, powerful, the screen colors and resolution were Ahhhhmazing!

Notice how all of that is past tense?

Turned out my beautiful new laptop wasn't charging.  It didn't recognize it's own power cord.

Jeff spent more hours on the phone with (another brand's) tech support, before being told it would have to be sent off for repairs".


I'd gotten very much in the habit of doing pretty much everything on a laptop.  Even now, sitting at my old desktop computer feels strange to me.

During the day, Jeff is at work and I'm at home with Max, downstairs.  (He's still with us!  Doing well, but doesn't like to be alone and has a hard time going up and down the stairs)  In the evening, I'm either downstairs hanging out with them, or in the Studio making stuff. (!!)  There's not much desktop computer time in the current schedule.

So, that's the long story short on why my blog here has been seemingly neglected again.  I'm hoping to at least sit down here and get some posts scheduled, maybe this weekend. 

All that being said... here's something to hold you over.  (haha)

"Oops, I did it again"

As always, I'd love to hear any suggestions for future videos and also some feedback on a good length for videos.  Also, frequency?  I was thinking once a week for a vlog, but let me know what you guys think! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

I Did A Scary Thing! (First Vlog)

Jeff just had a couple of weeks off over the holidays and we watched a lot of stuff together.  I watched a few vlogs (video blogs) from some people he follows on YouTube.  They were neat to see.

I've been considering trying to do more videos and decided it might be fun to start a vlog of my own...? 

For this year I had decided I would try to worry less about trying to be a perfectionist and just DO things.

With that in mind, *gulp*, here is my first vlog! 


It was kind of fun, kind of...  I am SO not an "on camera" person, but I think I might try and do these on some sort of semi-regular basis.

I would love some ideas on what kind of videos you'd like to see!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

First BIG Project of 2018

A few months ago, I mentioned that I was planning to do a Clydesdale mare for the MEPSA Extreme Model makeover contest. 

It took me a bit of time to get rolling, but on Christmas day, I broke out my trusty 20-year-old (yes, really) Dremel and got to work!

This was the first time I'd cut this much material away to do repositioning.  I mostly work with Stablemates, which are solid plastic.  I've dabbled in moving some larger (hollow) horses around, but in the past I've always tried to preserve as much plastic as I could. 

This time I decided to do things a bit differently, because of a much different plan for filling the hollow space.  More on that in a bit. 

It took a couple hours or so of careful work with a cut off wheel and the bur bit that I use to get into tight places.  What you can't see in these pictures is that I cut all the way around between the front and back legs, and up the rump/along the base of the neck.  So each limb and attached shoulder or hip was floating and easily movable. 

Here are the results of the first round with my heat gun. 

I was happy to see her underway; she looked neat here, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.

My heat gun is a Wagner brand with two heat settings and an extra metal tip that focuses the heat in a smaller area.  It's very nice. 

Pro Tip: If you find yourself shopping for a heat gun and are having trouble finding one, be aware that they are sometimes called a paint stripper. 

Also, be VERY careful with them, they can get HOT and easily burn you or other things.  Mine is rated to get to 1,000 degrees on the high setting. 

After a second round with the Dremel and heat gun, here's how she looked. 

My end goal was a BIG, flying trot, and it seemed counterproductive to tighten things up at this stage, but I was getting ready for a part that I was dreading (and quite frankly trying to avoid, haha).  That would be bending the stifles and having to cut into the huge solid hunk of plastic in that area in order to do it!

I got on a roll on New Year's Eve and  skipped documenting the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of fine tuning with the Dremel and heat gun. 

Then...  attack of the marshmallows!

I used expanding foam insulation to fill the hollow areas and it worked wonderfully!   I can't take any credit for this technique, it comes from this blog post and I've been wanting to try it out ever since I came across the idea. 

This stage looks pretty spectacular.

Here's a quick picture of her, at the whacky stage, with the picture that inspired this whole adventure.

Much better!  Here she is after I tore off the excess foam. 

I confess, I couldn't stop smiling when I saw her at this stage.  It was a bit of a challenge to get here, but I'm so happy at this point!

My goal from the beginning was for a BIG horse that was really moving out and I think she's just about there.  I'll be fine tuning her legs a bit more (is something like this ever really done??) and more Dremeling (sanding).  Then comes the scary stage - resculpting.  I know she won't be perfect, but I'm looking forward to getting back to work on her.

Right now I'm taking a few days away, so that I can look at her with fresh eyes.  Also, I apparently pinched a nerve in my shoulder/back at some point during the past week  (Ow.) so I'm on the mend from that.  I'm hoping to get back to work on her later this week.  I've only got about a month to get her done. 

Yeah.  I'm crazy.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Motivation Monday - 2018

Yes, I'm still alive!  I've been quietly at work on several fronts, but have neglected my blog during the busy holidays.  

I've mentioned in several of these posts that I actually like Mondays; I view them as a fresh start.  I suppose that makes this the best of them then - it's not just a new week, it's a New Year!

I hope everyone has had a good holiday season and I hope you have a great New Years too.  Let's make this a good one!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Prepping Parts

I've been working on a bit of tack parts prep lately.  Started by taking inventory of the straps I have made for Stablemate blankets and making some more of them.  I also moved them from a tiny organizer box into a larger storage option.  I have 4 of these boxes, that weren't being used.   

I found a new use for the former blanket strap organizer.  As of tonight it's now holding sets of hardware (slot rings, jump rings, and tongue buckles) for 8 halters.

Just in time, too.  A few days ago I prepped some kangaroo lace to build a halter! 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

New Prop Puppies

Tonight Jeff and I went out for dinner in the same mall where the store is that I've bought a lot of little figures.  After we ate, we went up to that store and looked around.  I went straight to where the animals are and looked through them all.  I found several that I wanted, but narrowed it down to just three.

First up, a Tanuki, or Raccoon Dog.  These are found here in the wild, though I haven't seen one yet.

Next up, Jeff was surprised by this one and asked why I wanted it.  I said, "Because she looks really sad and needs a home."

She has a cute little face.

Don't be sad, puppy!

Last one, he is definitely not sad.

It's a flying little long dog!

I'm thinking maybe I'll remove him from the chain and probably mount him on a rod or something so that he can "stand".

I was assuming they were all about 1:9 scale, as are most of the prop figures I've found there I think.

Then it dawned on me that I do have a way to check on that...  I bought a Breyer doll (my first) back at BreyerWest.

Yep, I think that scale works here, for a puppy for sure:

Holding the sad puppy:

Holding the Tanuki.  I don't think they are very big, so this might work.  Or again, could be a young one anyway.

I'm happy to add a few more prop pups to the pack!

As for our real pup, Max, he is still with us and still trucking along.  He has far more good days than not.  We had hoped he'd make it to our first snow and he's done that, even enjoying a roll in it yesterday morning (one of his favorite things). 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Travel Tuesday - Hachimantai

The idea of semi regular travel posts is one that I've had for a long time.  I made my first Travel Tuesday post back in September (about a trip we had taken in February...).  I hadn't intended it to take so long before I did another one - we have done a LOT of travel this year!  The whole situation with Max had knocked me right off the blogging train, but I'm hopping back on to bring you another travel post.  Enjoy!


On October 9th, 2017, we hopped on Jeff's motorcycle and took a trip south to Hachimantai.  I had never been there, but Jeff had taken a trip down last year (as it turns out, on the same exact day).  We had hoped to see the autumn colors and boy did we!

I was stunned by the range of colors that we saw and how bright they were.

A thing that caught my eye was that every so often I saw a vine with bright red leaves, climbing a pine tree.  The contrasting colors were interesting.

There are several onsens (hot baths) in the Hachimantai area.  We stopped at a couple of them to look around.  This was the first one we explored.  What had looked like smoke in the distance turned out to be steam coming from the ground!  The whole area is volcanic.

Many bubbling pools could be found in the area.

The steam was everywhere.

Marshmallow was along for the outing and I had to get some pictures of him.  Jeff, in turn, had to get pictures of me taking pictures.

Marshmallow, prancing at a volcanic hot spring.

We explored a couple of trails and I took a ridiculous amount of pictures of the stunning fall foliage.

No, really, a LOT of pictures.

 At the next onsen, the main one, Tamagawa, we found food on a stick.  Jeff was happy.

I also found the biggest, juiciest, sweetest Asian pear I've ever seen, so I was happy too, and made quite a mess of myself.  No pictures of all that.

After grub, it was time to explore the Tamagawa Onsen.

As we got closer, Jeff got excited.  There were vents belching out steam all over the place.

Potential danger!  Jeff was like a kid at Christmas.


One of the vents (I think the one in the middle)  had steam just screaming out of it.  You could hear the noise of the steam shooting out under pressure.

At a viewing area, across from the vents.  I was struck by the contrast of brilliant fall colors with the volcanic dead zone.

Marshmallow had to stretch his legs again.

And take in the scenery.

The other side of the dead zone, more autumn color on the hillside behind.

Every time we are out adventuring, we come across warning signs for bears.  We have yet to see one, and from what we hear, that's a good thing.  We've been warned that Asiatic black bears are not the black bears we might be used to from the U.S.  Apparently they have attitude and every year at least a few people in the mountains nearby are killed by them.

I would really like to see one...  from a safe distance.

Another view of the dead zone, surrounded by lush greenery.

After admiring from a distance, we went down on the path right in front of the vents to get a closer look.

I decided to test out the zoom on our new (bought in a rush on the way to Sapporo) camera.

It was able to zoom right in on the interesting sulfur formations around the vents.

The path is quite close to some of the vents.

Bright yellow.

A hole into the Earth.

Jeff studies the vents.  He was carrying my coat at this point, it was warm here!

I absolutely loved this view.

Toward the end of the path, we came across this: a big pool of water, aggressively bubbling!  We weren't sure if it was actually boiling or if it was a big steam vent under the water.  Or maybe that's pretty much the same thing.  It was impressive, and a little freaky, to see that much water churning away.

I wanted to get a picture of Marshmallow with the big bubbling pool.  Jeff suggested standing him on the post to the left of the picture below.  However, neither Marshmallow I were comfortable with that.  Instead, I kept a firm grip on his tail while I documented the occasion.

Marshmallow surveys the roiling water.  Nope, don't want to go swimming in that!

A few more steps up the path, and right before we got back on the bike to come home, we met a lovely older Japanese couple.  Between their broken English, my broken Japanese, gestures, and laughing, we managed to have a conversation.  They shared their lunch with us - baked sweet potatoes, edamame, and the sweetest sweet corn we think we've ever had.  A friend of theirs stopped by to visit also and asked if she could take our picture.  I asked her to take one with our camera too.

The husband of the couple spoke very little English, but he told me his name was Naomi.  His wife said "girl name!" and pointed at him, to which he shook his head, waved his hands back and forth and said "no!  no!"  I think this joke has come up before.  They were delightful people.

Naomi-san wanted to be in a picture with us.  Their friend tried to get his wife to join us, but she emphatically shook her head and hid behind their friend.  We all laughed.  Some things transcend any language barrier.