Monday, November 28, 2011

Moving Recap

For those who have been watching my blog, you'll know that we've been moving around, a lot, and dealing with a lot of crazy stuff with our house, which due primarily to cruddy market conditions and too much competition was not selling. Well, on Nov. 1 we got an offer on our house. I'll admit I nearly cried when I listened to the message from our listing agent. Those were words I never thought I'd hear. That call though was the start of a long and stressful month. We have had to go through various inspections and negotiations. Once everything was agreed on, we had a small list of repairs that we had to have fixed. I'm used to fixing everything myself, but the buyers wanted licensed contractors (not that I blame them), but I discovered what a headache it was trying to work with those people, plus the sheer number of contractors out there totally willing to rip you off. For example electric: almost everyone I talked wanted around $2500 for the work citing high material costs. I did find someone more reasonable, and in the end I paid less than 20% of what the other companies wanted to get the work done. Still it's sad that there were so many contractors out there who were charging so much more than what was necessary.

Most of that is over with now. We moved everything out of the house and into storage on Friday, minus stuff for my art business, the kids' school work, and clothes. Almost all of the repairs are already finished. The only things left are to pick up our cats from the house, get the carpets cleaned and some minor work done on our furnace. We're getting the cats today. I'm looking forward to this; I missed them over the weekend. The carpet cleaners are also coming today. We have the heating contractor scheduled for early Wednesday morning. I'm pretty sure this guy's ripping us off--he came back with a number 1.5x what they'd quoted us for when he came out to look at the furnace more closely (on the day we thought he was coming out to actually fix the thing). Unfortunately by that point in time, they were the only ones we could get to come out and fix it before closing. >_< I'm trying not to think about that too much, and with luck, everything will be done with this Wednesday. Closing is at noon. I've been counting the days to closing for most of this month and stressing over all the details, trying to make sure everything on our side goes as smoothly as possible. Now it's almost to the point of counting down the hours.

Since closing is on Wednesday, I'm going to try and get on top of things and write up my WIP post Tuesday night, but since I generally fail at things like that, the WIP post might not get posted until Thursday. =P One of these days I'll get my butt organized. In the mean time, I'll continue spending my time working on projects and stumbling through things as best I can. ^_^

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Failed WIP Post

So, I actually had some works in progress to post today, but I went and packed them yesterday without getting pictures of them. XD Brilliant right? They have been shipped off, along with all of my art table inventory, display, etc., to my parents house where I will be staying interim while we look for a new home. This means, that there won't be any WIPs this week, although maybe I'll post some on Tumblr this weekend.

In the mean time, let me tell you what's coming in the next couple of weeks. Originally I'd planned on adding four new "What Would ___ Do?" prints and badges for Magfest. That number has now increased to twelve, and there are several that I am extra excited about. There's only one that I'm a little iffy about--that's Bioshock; I've gotten a lot of requests for something from Bioshock, but neither my husband nor I have actually played any of the games. Usually we try to keep it to what we know, so for everything else at least one of us has played the game. We'll see how that goes. We do have some friends with the game, so maybe we can get a chance to play some of it before we put together the final print.

Also, my husband has convinced me that I want to try and finish up some bookmark sets too for Magfest and my mage girl pin-up prints. I'm starting to debate the sanity of this proposal at the moment. We'll see what I can get done realistically. To give you an idea what this includes, the additional bookmark sets include about 33 or so new designs, plus a possible 7 character surprise set--something we'd be doing just for lol's. There are only 3 girls in the pin-up set, but those will be 11x17 poster size prints, and I'm doing them in a style that's very different from what I normally do. Also, just for the fun of it, there might be another 6 character badge set; this one is actually fairly likely since I started drawing it while at AUSA, plus it makes me giggle... a lot. XD There might also just have to be a group picture print of those 6 badge characters. I'm not going to say what they are just yet--I'll post a WIP in next week's WIP post, and see if you can figure out where it's going. ;-)

Anyways. I'm off to finish off our packing. I'll try and get a moving update posted Friday, but I'm not sure what my computer access is going to be like that day, so it might have to wait till Monday. In the mean time, hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. <3

Monday, November 21, 2011

AUSA 2011 Recap

I spent my weekend at Anime USA, an anime convention located in the Washington D.C. area, with my husband, two good friends, Kevin and Melissa, and my middle son, Luke. This is why there was a gap in posting here. ^_^ Just a heads up, but this week is likely to be rocky for posts too given the holiday, plus we're moving, so there may be a few days where I just don't have access to a computer or internet.

Onto the AUSA recap. This convention went off a lot more smoothly than AWA. We only had a few hitches getting the new bookmarks printed, but things came together, and we were actually on the road by 2:00 p.m. Thursday, which was awesome. The trip was easy, especially since no one was exhausted. We ate a leisurely dinner on the road to avoid most of rush hour traffic and pulled into our hotel a little after 7:00. We spent the evening playing cards (Munchkin mostly). It was nice not to be working on last minute laminating or costuming details--this doesn't happen very often.

Friday morning, we got to take our time waking up and dragging our butts downstairs to set up. My table ended up being in a slightly awkward location--it was right in the middle of a walkway that was only about 3-4 feet wide, which didn't leave a lot of room for people if they wanted to stop and look. I spent most of the weekend at my table--no surprise there, right? I did leave Friday evening to go see the Trigun movie with Luke, which was awesome, except for the fact that we got there late and couldn't really see the screen.

Saturday, my husband took Luke to see Godzilla vs. Mothra. Luke absolutely loved it, and apparently, near the end of the movie when Mothra was destroying a large chunk of the city, right after an especially large explosion, someone in the back yelled: "My cabbages!!!" Shaun said that got cheers from the audience. I kind of wish I'd been there to hear that one. For those who don't know what the cabbage reference is from, go watch the Avatar: The Last Airbender tv series. It's well worth watching.

Sunday was quiet, relatively. Overall, I had a blast at the convention. I really enjoyed talking with a lot of people who came by the table. I got to see some great costumes--there were tons of Miyazaki cosplays there this year, which I loved. My favorites were the girl dressed as Sheeta from Castle in the Sky and the couple dressed as Haru--in her yellow gown that she wears in the Cat Kingdom--and Baron from The Cat Returns. I also saw several Howl cosplays (Howl's Moving Castle), San (Princess Mononoke), Ponyo, and the two girls from My Neighbor Totoro--I don't remember their names. There was one particularly well-done Howl who went around Saturday with a Jack Sparrow taking votes as to who was more of a "lady's man." I, of course, voted for Howl. Jack's good, and this particular cosplayer did a great job of playing the role, but he can't compare to Howl, at least in my opinion. I found out Sunday from Howl that he won that contest by one vote. There wasn't really anything spectacular going on at AUSA this year, but the people really made it a great con.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Second Best Way to Spend the Weekend

Clearly, as far as my opinion goes, the best way to spend a weekend would be at an anime convention hanging out with friends, cosplay, and play geeky games. Since that wasn't an option for this past weekend, I did the next best thing, hung out with friends and played geeky games all weekend. This past weekend was supposed to be our last (probably) D&D game at this house, except almost everyone was sick; we'd already downgraded the D&D game to hang out and play cards or board games since my husband was recovering from a plague-like cold and didn't have the voice to run the D&D game. It turns out 80% of our group had the same plague-like cold, and so the turnout for this weekend's fun was small, but we made the most of it. =)

We played a scenario for both the Ravenloft board game and Wrath of Ashardalon, the more standard D&D board game. It was amazingly epic. For the first (and probably last) time ever we managed to go through both games without anyone dying. I was especially shocked with the Ravenloft scenario; you think Ravenloft and the first thing that comes to mind is player death. The board game does a great job of capturing that feeling from the table-top game setting. It wasn't like we were necessarily going after one of the easier scenarios either. My husband picked out the biggest monster mini in the box, and said "Hey, let's go after this thing." If anything though, those two games back-to-back made the last (probably) game get-together here memorable.

After playing the D&D board games, we moved onto Munchkin. We played Zombie Cthulu Munchkin and Super Munchkin Bites. I especially liked the Zombie Munchkin and Munchkin Cthulu combination. It seemed an oddly appropriate set to mix, and the sets played well together. Super Munchkin is, I think, by far the most over-powered over the Munchkin games. We joked that by pairing it with the vampire Munchkin game, we were creating Vampire Mary-Sue characters... *cough*Twilight*cough*

We topped the evening off with pizza. It's not what we'd planned on preparing for dinner. However since we had such a small turnout, and it was such a relaxing evening of playing, it just felt like a pizza night. We finished the evening off with pizza eating, chatting, and watching an episode and a half of Tiger and Bunny on Anime Season--my computer decided it wasn't interested in cooperating after the half way point on the 2nd episode. All things considered, it was a fun weekend. I did get a little bit of drawing done, although it wasn't nearly as much as I should have. On the other hand, it was nice to get a break from working on things for Anime USA and just relax for a bit.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crazy Month Is Crazy

I completely forgot to post this yesterday. I'm not too surprised considering what's going on here. This post is to give you guys an idea of what this month is going to look like, and why work on art projects is going to be kind of hit or miss.

As you may recall, last week, I posted that we got an offer on the house. The house has been inspected, and we have a list of repairs to make--all of them fairly reasonable. Starting now through the end of the month, we will be working on fixing things in our house. Also, later this month we will be packing up and moving everything (again), although this time it won't be so bad since a lot of our stuff is still in storage and won't have to go anywhere; we'll just be packing up what we kept and adding it to storage. Still, I hate moving and packing, even with less stuff. >_<

So, the first reason why this month will be crazy is we're going to be moving and doing a bunch of repairs to the house. The next reason is Anime USA. This coming Thursday, we'll be driving up to the Washington D.C. area, and spending Friday through Sunday running a table in Artist Alley. On that note, I am still trying to get the Sailor Moon mecha pilot bookmarks finished for the convention. I have today, and maybe Monday, to get those done. @_@ At that point, I have to take stuff to the printers, so I make sure I have time to cut out and laminate everything before we leave for the convention.

Oh yeah, and if that wasn't enough craziness, I'm pregnant. =P Seriously. XD This explains why I've been so tired over the last month--those following me on Twitter might have noticed the number of naps I've been taking or nights where I've just gone to bed super early. All in all, that's not a bad thing, and the real craziness for that won't show up until the spring, but it does affect my energy levels, so I probably won't be pulling the all-nighters I normally do before a convention, which means I may not be finishing all 15 of the bookmarks I wanted to have done--#5 will be done today; I might try for 10.

Keeping all that in mind, I'm going to try and keep working on art projects, but it's probably going to be a fairly slow month. I'm hoping December will be better--I'll be chilling at my parents temporarily while we save money for a down payment on a new place to live, so the moving and house stuff won't be an issue. There are also no conventions on my schedule for December. There will still probably be low-energy days, but I think I can work with that. December, I'm planning on a new "What Would ___ Do?" set. Twelve new prints and badges featuring different games and characters from the first set. In the next couple of weeks I'll probably put some polls up for some of the games where I'm having trouble picking which character I want to draw from it. =)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Works in Progress No. 2, Vol. 8

This week, there's going to be a real WIP post. =D This week I've been working on the Sailor Moon mecha pilot bookmark series for Anime USA. I really want to make this a nice even set of 15 (I like sets with numbers divisible by 5--at least for bookmarks; for badges, I like sets divisible by 4 for whatever reason). This set will feature at the minimum the same characters from my Sailor Moon harem bookmark series, done for Anime USA last year, plus Sailor Chibi-Moon. That gives me 11. I don't like 11. If I can manage it, I want to add the three Starlights and human Luna. Cross your fingers that I can become a drawing demon this week. =P

So far, I have finished Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury. Sailor Mars is about half finished.

Monday, November 7, 2011

June 5, 2012

You might be wondering why I'm writing about June 5 of next year, since that's many months away... 6 months and 28 days or 211 days away to be exact. Well, in 211 days, on June 5, my family will be visiting Walt Disney World. Why is this exciting? My husband and I haven't been to WDW in more than 10 years, and our kids have never been there--unless you count the fact that I was pregnant with my oldest when we went last. This is something we've been wanting to do with our kids for years now--face it, whatever your opinion on Disney is, the parks are a lot of fun for kids (and adults).

What brought this trip on now? To be honest, this trip wouldn't be possible without the help of my parents. The idea to go came from the fact that my extended family is holding a reunion down at a beach house in Florida; since we're driving all the way to Florida, we thought, why not hop on down to Orlando for Disney while we're down there? I'll admit that the idea was mostly mine, but my parents liked the idea, and thought it'd be fun, so they're helping send all 7 of us (my parents, me, my husband, and our 3 kids) to Disney for 4 days.

I'm really excited about this trip. We're going to be staying in one of the villas in the Animal Kingdom with the savannah view--I've wanted to stay there ever since it opened, plus I think the kids will love it. From what I've read, we'll be able to get night-vision goggles to watch the animals at night. =D I've always wanted to play with night-vision goggles. =P The kids are excited. Luke has already pulled out my tape measure to check and make sure he's tall enough to ride all the roller coasters. =P He's even been eating food he normally won't touch just so he can try and grow a little taller, since there was one ride he was too short for at MGM--I mean Hollywood Studios (when did they change that name btw?)

It may be early, but there are some things worth planning early. We got the last villa with the animal view for the dates that we're going, and the trip is still almost 7 months away. Crazy right? We were told that next month we could go ahead and start making restaurant reservations. At first, I wanted to laugh, but maybe it's something we'll want to look into since we almost missed out on getting one of the more fun rooms at the resort we wanted to stay at--I mean really, if you're going to stay at one of the Animal Kingdom resorts, then you want to get one of the rooms with the animal views right? So maybe sometime in the next month or two, I'll sit down with the family and the WDW website, and we'll look through restaurants. Maybe we will make some reservations because if there's something we really want to see or do, then it'd be a shame to miss out just because I didn't plan ahead at all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

No News Is Good News, Right?

Yesterday, I posted a belated WIP (sort of) post. The inspectors came. Things ended up weird, but I'm not sure if that's really bad yet. They came yesterday morning, and I came back to the house 2.5-3 hours later and no one was here, so I thought they were done. I dropped off the cats (we always try and take the cats out of the house along with their litter, food dishes, and stuff when someone comes to the house to look at it) then left for an impromptu trip to Misenheimer because my husband's car was having issues. When we got home last night, there were lights on that I know weren't on when I left. There were other little indications that someone had been here. Nothing was missing; it just looked like someone had been poking around. I've talked with my agent and we think that they came back to check some more stuff. I felt a little bad that the cats were here when whoever came back; not that I really think our cats are that bad, but there are four of them, some people are allergic, and their litter is messy, so it's not the kind of thing I like leaving out for people to see--at least people who are looking to maybe buy our house. I'm a little irked that we weren't told that someone was coming back to the house, but I don't want to make a huge deal about it--I really really want these people to buy this house. I am ready to move on past this stage in my family's life. I just hope the cats didn't deter them--I love my kitties, but I can't expect everyone else to feel the same way about them really. I haven't heard anything back yet, and our agent said we probably won't until they're done with this inspection, the termite inspection, and any others they order, unless there's something the buyers have a major problem with. So, no news at this point sounds like good news.

Anyways, our house stuff isn't all that "on topic" for this blog; it is something that is a very big part of my life right now, though, and it will indirectly affect what I can get done art-wise. Now to share some thoughts on something more on topic. Yesterday during my drive, I was thinking about the Sailor Moon Mecha Pilot bookmark set I'm supposed to be working on for Anime USA. Spending days in the car and being sick for most of this week--still sick and really not liking it for that matter--are not the best conditions for productivity. Still, driving can be a good time to reflect and think about projects. This is a good thing because if I can get a clear idea of what I want to draw in my head before I sit down with paper, I will finish a project a lot faster. The result of my thinking yesterday is that I got some really awesome images in my head for the set, except they won't fit on bookmarks. I don't really want to turn them into badges, but I also don't really want to do the larger 8.5 x 11 prints either. I am thinking of doing smaller postcard sized prints of them and also adjusting the images for the bookmark set that I'd originally planned to do. I'm still thinking about this, but I like the idea. Actually I really just like what I want to draw, and the post card size suits the images I have in my head. =P I'm really excited about this set right now, and I hope to have at least the Inner Senshi done by next week's WIP post. =D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Plans Changed (Works in Progress No. 1, Vol 8)

Yesterday, I wrote my WIP post for Wednesday. All it needed was pictures. I've included the original post below just because--I wrote it, might as well put it out there since I put the time into doing it. =P I've been sick, so after writing the blog post, I'd curled up on the couch and dozed while answering questions the boys had on some of their school work--I've been having them work on subjects that they can do more independently since I got sick; we'll catch up on the subjects that require more of my attention once I start feeling better. It's days like this that I love how flexible our schedule is. So after my nap, I had planned on getting pictures, adding them to the post, then uploading the post. It should be pretty clear from where this is going, that getting pictures did not happen, and it wasn't just the pictures that didn't happen. With the way things are playing out, pretty much everything I wrote in the bulk of my post is now wrong. Gotta love when life does that to you, but in this case, I have no complaints, and here's why.

To start with, my nap ended up lasting into early afternoon, when I woke up to my cell phone. It was my real estate agent calling. If you recall from my Moving Update post back in early July, we had to move back into our old house. My husband has been dealing with a very long commute, and there have been a lot of days where I've had to travel with him (with all the kids in tow) because a lot of our life still functionally exists closer to where he works. This move was to be temporary, we hoped. We would stay in this house until it sold. I'll admit we haven't been overly optimistic. The house went up for sale in early June 2010. However, we got an offer on our house over the weekend, and yesterday, our agent had gotten in the official paperwork where the buyers accepted our counter-offer. So yesterday evening we spent with our agent going over and signing our half of that paperwork. The buyers are very enthusiastic, which is encouraging to me. They're having the house inspected today, which meant last night, we spent a lot of time cleaning things up. Technically, whether the house is clean from clutter or not should not really matter for an inspection, but there are two reasons why we were doing this: 1) Face it, a cleaner house will make a better impression on someone overall; it is my opinion that if the house is cluttered and messy, then the house does not look well cared for, and the inspector will be more likely to find things wrong with the house. 2) We found out from our agent that the buyers will be accompanying the inspector through the house; these are the people we want to keep happy so that they don't pull out, which they can do at any time in the next three weeks--technically four weeks, but after three weeks, we get to keep their earnest money if they do, which makes it less likely that they'll back out then.

Needless to say, at that point, thoughts of getting pictures for my blog were gone from my head. We've been stressing over trying to get things cleaned up here, which although they weren't bad, there was still clutter that comes from me having been sick over the last several days; I haven't been as on top of regular chores as I would normally be. Even this morning, there's still a lot of little things that I need to take care of. On top of that, to start clearing things out, we packed up and sent all the Halloween stuff and scrap fabric for my husband to take back to storage on his way to work this morning. Included with the Halloween stuff were both the Jack and Sally costumes, my Mae costume, and my Gothic Panda costume. It kind of makes it difficult to get pictures of costumes that I don't have access to anymore. XD With all the stuff going on with the house right now, me being sick (I am feeling a little better today, but not close to 100% yet), and art for Anime USA coming up, we decided that fixing the Jack and Sally costumes did not need to happen; we're not even going to bother with costumes at Anime USA this year. My goal now is to take things easier and hopefully get better soon, focus on keeping the house cleaned up--it's not sold yet, so there could still be showings, plus outside of the inspector coming today, there will also be an appraiser coming out at some point this month, and try and get that bookmark set I'd planned for AUSA done. Sadly most of those things aren't quite as fun as the projects I'd like to be working on, but sometimes the stuff life dishes up is more important. I think right now is one of those times.

Overall, I'm not going to complain. After almost a year and a half with this house for sale, we finally got an offer, and it was a reasonable offer. You have no idea how excited I am about this. I'm trying not to worry and stress too much about all the things that could go wrong between now and closing (Nov 28) because worry never helps anything really. If all goes smoothly, we will be moving again at the end of this month. I may hate moving, but this is one of those moves that will be a good thing in the long run.

It's that time of the week again, except this time I don't really have much new to post. I'm currently working on trying to be not sick anymore. I've had this nasty cold/flu thing for the last couple of days. About all I've been capable of is dragging myself out of bed just to curl up on the couch and go back to sleep. XD

However, I can post some not-so-great photos of the mostly-finished Jack and Sally costumes. I need to make some adjustments to the size and shape of Sally--only a little, it actually came out really close to what I needed, and considering I only spent maybe 4 hours on what you see in the pictures, I think that's excellent. I also need to go back and add the black stitching lines on her dress. If I'd really like to do things right, I'll also want to pick up a wig, but eh... that's low on my list of priorities right now. For Jack, I want to completely redo the collar thing and the cummerbund. Inspiration for the adding a cummerbund comes from the Disney character version that you can find walking around the parks this time of year. It's a good idea because honestly, with the proportions of the coat and the way pants fit normal people, the white shirt under the jacket will show around the waist. A black cummerbund neatly fixes that problem, except the one I put together last minute only sort of work and needs adjusting. The jacket needs some minor adjustments to the back--it puckers just a little where the tails connect to the main part of the coat; it's not super noticable, but I know it's there and it annoys me. I also didn't like how poofy the collar piece came out--only partly intentional. The only material I had on hand to try and fill it out was fiber fill stuffing. I'd like to take the stuffing out and replace it with floral wire or something along those lines--something much less poofy, but could still help the collar keep its shape. Of course, I'd also like to actually get snaps or something on the collar, since right now, it's just held on by safety pins. Now, I am technically planning on making at least most of these adjustments by Anime USA because I'd like to take these costumes there. Of course, my plans did not involve me getting sick for half a week, and new art for the art table will be taking priority over these costumes.