Monday, September 25, 2017

Motivation Monday - Be An Encourager

Another Monday has found us again; I hope this week is a happy and productive one for you!  Sorry my intro is short this time, I've got to get back to "work" (been busy here in the studio!).

Friday, September 22, 2017

Itty Bitty Blankets

Yesterday I finished up the latest batch of Stablemate blankets.

I'm very happy with how they turned out.  This is the first set where I ran the belly straps all the way to the hip darts and the top of the shoulder.  In addition to liking the look better, I found the straps are much easier to line up that way - an added, unexpected, bonus of evolving the design. 

There are 3 sizes in the lot: the Halloween themed pair fit the G1 Arab mare (and probably other G1s too).  The red set were made for the G2 Stockhorse (he's kind of a bugger to fit, with the low neck and raised foreleg).   The purple strap set was made for the G3 Stockhorse, but fits the G3 Warmblood (and probably others) as well. 

I had thought that I'd like to possibly come up with different patterns for the different generations/sizes of molds, but maybe I'll just keep doing it the way I have been.  That being: I have a basic blanket shaped pattern that I cut them all out with.  It's sized for the largest/longest of the SMs (the Para Dressage mold I think).  Then I trim each one down to fit whoever it's going to be made for.  That works okay, so maybe I'll just keep doing it that way, rather than fussing over making several patterns.  I do sometimes tend to over complicate things after all.  (what?  me?  never...)

Half of the blankets pictured already have intended homes.  The red and black is part of my first blanket commission order.  The two Halloween blankets are destined to be sent to my Spooky Swap (a Halloween-themed Secret Santa) partner on the Blab forum.  The red/red and purple strap pair are not spoken for, yet.

As with anything, I'm finding that the more of these I make, the easier and faster it goes.  I've already started on the next round and am hoping to have a deluge of these on offer soon. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rambling About Challenges

I suppose this could be another "State of the Studio" type post.  There have been a lot of things happening here that I've wanted to talk about and wasn't sure how to do it.  So I'm just going to do it.  (haha)

It's been...  interesting here lately.  I've talked a bit about the latest typhoon to pass through our area, coupled with the latest round of vendor show madness.  Also, we've had the North Korea missile launches you may have heard about.  There have been two mornings (so far) where we were awakened early by sirens and alarms going off, telling us that missiles had been launched and to take cover.  Both of them passed over Hokkaido, the northern island, and landed out in the Pacific ocean. 

That was definitely something new to add to the list of life experiences. 

The first time I was concerned, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, so I just waited for news.  The second time was a feeling of: "this again?  ugh."  I was worried about it all at first, but then decided that I don't have time to worry, I've got stuff to do!  Worrying won't stop whatever is going to happen from happening.  That's something that it took me moving halfway around the world to figure out.  At least I think I've got it figured out.  In an odd way, moving here to the land of earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, and.. missiles... has actually helped me with my anxiety I think.  It might not make any sense, but I feel like it's forcing me to be at least somewhat mindful.  Any of these "crazy" things could happen at any minute - without much, if any, warning (except the typhoons I suppose) - and I can't sit around worrying about them.  I have to live my life and deal with them if (when) they happen, in that moment.

Big talk, sounds great, but I do have concerns about what the next two years holds for us here.  Worst case, I'll have to evacuate back to the U.S.  Well, I suppose that's not the *worst case*, but it sure would be a complicated pain in the butt, loaded with uncertainty, that I'd rather not have to deal with.  However, of course, I will deal with it if I have to. 

Jeff's schedule at work has changed drastically, not in response to the silliness of our "neighbors", but just because.  After being on day shifts for many years, he went to swing shift.  Then right around the time we were (sort of) getting used to that, he went to a 12 hour graveyard shift.  We are both sleep deprived and have no idea what day it is probably 95% of the time. 

On top of it all - and really of least concern, more an annoyance - my laptop is on its last legs.  Truthfully, it's been on edge for a while now, but after Jeff had to bring it back from the dead again last week, he decided it's time has come.  I've had it for 6 years, so it's "ancient" in technology terms I suppose?  Jeff has done several upgrades to it, and has now managed to bring it back from the dead a few times, but he has decided that I need a new one altogether.  I've been using my laptop as my primary computer for a while, pretty much only using my desktop to run the laser.  Which means I've been using the laptop to manage my photos and - this blog.  This is yet another reason my plan of daily posts for the month hasn't quite worked out - though I'm doing better this month than I had all spring/summer!  ;) 

Thankfully, during its latest round of death throes, Jeff was again able to recover the files that I had on it.  I've been backing up everything to our server and to the storage drive that's not affected on here, but I hadn't done a backup in a bit and had stuff I really didn't want to lose.  He was able to get it all back for me, he's a handy guy to have around. 

I suppose that's it for the news report on how "interesting" life has been lately. 

Oh!  My coffee pot died.  Haha.  Jeff was able to bring it back too.  Crisis adverted.  I would have probably just bought another one, but the only one available here (that we know of - on base) is a flimsy little thing that neither of us wanted to get.  I had one of them for an "in between" option during the move here and it worked, but barely.  I don't use a full size coffee pot, but one of the small 4 cup ones.  So Jeff worked his magic and made my trusty little old coffee pot work again.

In more on topic Studio news, I've been at work on two cross stitch projects: a commission saddle pad and my next cross stitched Arabian costume.  I'm putting the finishing touches on a couple of commission Stablemate blankets and am also finishing several more to add to the inventory here.  Last, but certainly not least, a few new horses have joined the herd and I need to do a mass photo shoot of all of the new faces!  After going for quite a while without adding any members to the herd, I've been doing some shopping (and trading) lately. 

I didn't really have a picture for this post, so here's Tealight, helping my with my latest round of organization in the studio (cat pictures are always good for illustration, right?):

Monday, September 18, 2017

Motivation Monday - Let Go

First, a quick update: We survived the typhoon.  It really wasn't that bad up here.  High wind (but certainly no more than an slightly above average "windy" day in South Dakota, it's just been a while since we've seen/heard that) and rain for 12-ish hours or so I think it was.  Some trees down around the area today, but so far that's all I've heard in the way of damage.

And now a short, but important, installment of Motivation Monday for today.  Today's theme is: "Let Go".  The last one has popped up a few times in my Facebook feed lately.  I love it so much that I'm thinking I should print it out and hang it around the house where I can read it.  Every.  Day.  

As always, I hope you have a wonderful week!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

State of the Studio - Introverting and Typhooning

Yesterday was the Fall vendor show here.  They are usually held seasonally, but the Summer show was skipped this year.  Due to Jeff's work schedule going - completely crazy - I was on my own at the show, manning two tables: the one for our laser business and the one for my crafts.  It was a BUSY time.  I went in the night before to help set up the tables for everyone, then set out most of our products.  Came home, made a bunch of last minute laser things that night and the next morning (with about 4 hours of sleep in between).  Then ran the tables at the show, sold a bunch of stuff, took a pile of orders, talked to 800 million people (nowhere near, but it was a lot).  Then packed up ALL the things and hauled them home.

Today was typhoon prep.  This morning I ended up battling the crowds to get my car gassed up, get some groceries, and..  wine, before the storm hits. 

After all of that, this is how I felt:

We also went around the outside of our building yesterday and today, putting things in the storage closets, tying and weighting other things down.  Jeff moved his motorcycle onto our front porch area and I moved my bonsai trees to the more sheltered back porch, but I think I'm going to actually bring them inside tonight before bed.  The storm is on its way in as I type this.

Tomorrow we are supposed to be in the storm and everyone is ordered to stay home. 

That's totally fine by me, I'm hoping to recover from my introvert hangover!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Happy Horsey Mail

The last two days have brought MOAR horses to the herd here.

Two days ago, my very own edition of "The Box" (awards from the MEPSA Championship show) arrived.

Here's my loot!:

I had several Top Tens, and won a couple of models, a couple of blankets, and a halter in the prize drawings.

Then yesterday, my very first Stone Arabian arrived (yes, I'm quite far behind on all of that).

I'll be taking some proper pictures of him and writing up a blog post about him soon, but for now here he is, chatting with Antar.

In other news, I'm at work on another batch of Stablemate blankets, to include two custom order blankets that I'm eager to share once they are done!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Boop The Snoot - Air Show Version

Today we checked out the annual Japanese/American Misawa Air Show or rather "Friends and Family day" at the Air Show.  Tomorrow the show is open to the public, but we found out that today they had most of the static displays out and were also doing some of the demonstrations - with a tiny fraction of the crowds that will be there tomorrow.

I took a handful of pictures and plan to share them later on, but for now here's my favorite one.

This is my friend Holly, as she boops the snoot (touches the nose) on one of the planes.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bat Foal - Part One

A while ago (wow, almost two years) I came up with the idea to do a bat foal.  Well, time really does fly, but today the lil' terror was finally started!

First thing's first..  as I had said before: I've got some bad news, bat.

Really bad news.

I'll spare you the gory details, but then there were little bat wings.

I started by using the fine engraving bit on my Dremel (one of my all time favorite bits) to start hollowing out holes at the tops of the shoulders.

I had used my exacto to scratch some tiny lines to show where the wings would start and end.  Then I used the engraving bit to make a channel for each wing to sit in.

Time to get out some wire, this is what I used.

I cut a couple pieces off, folded them in half and twisted them tightly to make pins.

Then I got out some thread, red happened to be handy, but any color works.

Using tacky glue, I wound the thread around the twisted wire pins until the wire was covered, except for the very tips.  This is the same way I make tail bones for haired horses, the wire makes the tailbone poseable, the thread gives the glue something to grip when inserting the tailbone and gluing the hair on.

The label fell off the bottle, but this is thick CA glue.  I had used my engraving bit to make some tiny holes in the thickest part of the wings, where the bone would be and where they will connect to the shoulder.  I then put a little dab of the CA glue on/in the hole and stuck in one of the thread covered wire pins.

After both wings had pins, I used the engraving bit to make two holes in the middle of the shoulder depressions.  Then I started trimming the pins down until they were a good, tight fit.

I stuck the wings in to test placement and suddenly: bat foal!!

Here he comes!

"Though he be little, he is fierce" (paraphrasing there)

I intended to take the wings back out before the final attachment, but the one had some extra CA glue that was already grabbing the model, so I left that one in place.  My first plan was to mix up some apoxy, use a couple of small noodles (one under each wing) to squish them down into, then do a bit of the initial sculpting around the connection.

However, I had doubts about the strength of such an attachment for the length of the wing base.  So instead, I did a thick bead of the CA glue along the channel I'd carved out and set the wings down in place.

They should be on there for good once this glue dries!

Then, much like Antar, this little guy was safely tucked into a temporary "earthquake stall" to hang out while his wings dry.

All done for now.

But, wait, I had mixed up some apoxy, what should I do with it?

I chose this guy for an apoxy dump - obviously he has a long way to go!

With the rest, I spontaneously made my first ever batch of (tiny) ears!  :-O  One of the Stablemates on my short list to be customized is one that I'd like to put new ears on.  It may be that none of these will work and I'm not sure there's even a good matched pair in the batch, but it's a start.

Stay tuned for progress on the bat foal; tomorrow I plan to do his sculpting and then hopefully get some primer on him.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Travel Tuesday: Sapporo Trip - Day One

This is the first in a planned feature of posts about travel, mostly our travels here in Japan, though when we go to other places, they'll pop up here too.  A trip to Australia is in the works, for instance...

This first post is cheating, a bit.  Back in February, we went on a big adventure to Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, for the annual Sapporo Snow Festival.  I had written most of this post and then not posted it, I can't remember why.  Anyhow, here it is, just 7 months later.  ;)  Enjoy!

We left on our trip to Sapporo on the night of Sunday, February 5th.  The day started with disaster when, while packing, I learned that our camera would not turn on.  After much troubleshooting and discussing options, we ran to the BX (Base Exchance, sort of a small department store on base) to check out their options.  We ended up buying a new camera, hours before departure.

The tour bus was going to pick everyone up at the library, a 20 minute or so walk away from our house, and we decided to walk there.  We were going to be traveling light, each of us with a backpack, so we started the trip by backpacking to the library.

Once on the bus, we were taken to the ferry terminal in Hachinohe city.  We waited in the terminal for a bit, then we all loaded onto the ferry.  It was - by far! - the biggest boat I'd ever ridden on.

Here's the route of the ferry ride, as pictured on a sign once we were onboard.

It is also called the "overnight ferry" as we departed at 10pm and would arrive at our destination around 6am.  We later learned that the ferry runs 4 times a day, each an 8-1/2 or so hour trip.

We would all be sleeping on the ferry and were given key cards with our room numbers on them.  The size of our room was surprising, it was so tiny, haha.

A Jeff for scale:

On the back of the door were the usual hotel type instruction one might expect.

An emergency exit route:

Emergency instructions:

How to put on a lifejacket....??  We're not in a hotel on land anymore!

Jeff decided to be adventurous and go out on the deck to watch the ferry leave the port.  I went with him, bundled up (it was COLD), and camera in tow.

Here you can see a truck (semi!) driving onto the ferry.  (I just could not get over how huge this boat was - yes, I know they get a LOT bigger, haha)

There's the walkway from the terminal and the ramp we went up to get onboard.

The ramp for cars, trucks, and buses, to drive on started folding up.

Crews came and cast off the lines.

As we watched the ferry smoothly slide sideways away from the port, Jeff blandly stated, "If only the Titanic had bow thrusters."

To which I replied, "I'm trying really hard not to think about the Titanic right now."  As we slipped off into the cold sea at night.

He certainly keeps my life interesting.

And we were away!


Bye bye, Hachinohe port.

I spent way longer than I would have expected on deck as we headed out.  I discovered that watching the foam from the wake of the bow spread out into the dark water and fade away was oddly mesmerizing.  I tried to get pictures, or even video of it, but nothing worked.

Finally I tore myself away from the sight and we went inside to the restaurant area.  There we found a bank of vending machines.  Vending machines are e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e in Japan, but there were a few here we hadn't seen yet.  They had frozen meals inside and when you paid and selected one, the machine cooked it for you before dispensing it!

Jeff chose the rice triangles - a safe bet for him since he doesn't like a lot of Japanese food.

 They were very good!

Chewie even had to check them out.  ;)  Yes, he tagged along on this adventure too!

Aside from the life jacket instructions in our room, and the fairly frequent swaying of the floor under our feet, there were other signs that we were in a different type of structure, on a different type of surface.  For instance, everything was chained down.

After our rice triangle dinner, we shoehorned ourselves into the room and tried to get some sleep.

Pre-dawn the next morning, we mustered in the main lobby area and made our way down to the cargo hold!  There sat our bus.

Everyone piled on and eventually the trucks around us started leaving, then it was our turn.

A quick look back at the BIG boat we'd ridden through the night.

We rode the bus for a couple of hours from Tomakomai to Sapporo.  There we had breakfast buffet at the hotel we would be staying in...  but we couldn't check in until after 3pm.  So after breakfast, we all got on the bus and the tour took us to Otaru city.

Our tour guide explained some history of Otaru and that one of the places of interest is the "music box shop".

After we hopped off the bus, a group of us followed him to the music box shop.  It is in a beautiful brick building.  (there are many beautiful brick buildings in Otaru)

Inside we did find a LOT of music boxes, but in addition to a "shop", it is also a museum.  They had a lot of neat things inside.

Some of the neat things were for sale.

A quick and handy trick to roughly convert yen to dollars?  Take off the last two zeros...


We found a large room that had a huge and fascinating diorama of historical events around the world.  I took many pictures in that one room and decided they wouldn't fit in this post.  I hope to do a separate post about just this diorama room at some point - it certainly warrants that.

A few of the shop from the second story balcony.

Outside on the streets of Otaru, we did find many snow sculptures.  Though the official Snow Festival is in Sapporo, Otaru was certainly in the spirit of things as well.

Thanks for the advice, cute, and..  kind of creepy little snowman.

In addition to cute there were...  interesting things to see.

Okay, we'll try not to:

Another beautiful brick building:

Another helpful sign:

Our tour guide also told us that the Otaru canal is a famous place.  We walked along the canal and found several snow and ice sculptures.  This one was my favorite, because of the leaves and flowers used in it.

My favorite part of my favorite sculpture:

There is a bridge across the Otaru canal that is a famous spot to take pictures.  Sure enough, there was a huge crowd there.  I don't like having my picture taken, but figured I should go for it for this famous spot.

 Here's the view without me (better, haha):

Random sighting: a sea otter manhole cover!

After wandering around Otaru for a little while, we got back on the bus, went back to the hotel, checked in, and finally made it to our room.

This is all I wanted to do:

However, our day was not over yet!

Next up on the itinerary was a trip to the Sapporo Beer Garden, for dinner.  Back on the bus, back off the bus.

The entire Beer Garden/Beer Museum area was full of big, beautiful, brick buildings.

So pretty.

Here was our table, all stocked up and ready to go.

Jeff takes a quick pause from grilling dinner to drink, what else, Sapporo beer.

A view of the restaurant:

The day ended with us getting back on the buss, back off the bus, and into our hotel room about 10:30pm.

It was an action-packed first (night) and day!