Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daily Art - Fun with Photoshop

While I generally like taking photos that look right straight off the camera, sometimes playing around with Photoshop is entirely too much fun.  A few clicks of the mouse and a photograph can end up looking like something completely different, and perhaps even unrecognizable, from the original.

Tonight I decided to play around with a few effects on offer to me.  I chose a simple picture that I took of an escalator at the Aria hotel in Las Vegas and see how I could make that photo into something completely different just by adding no more than 2 effects to the original.
The original, desaturated into black and white.

With the "glowing edges" filter.

With "pinch" filter and curves adjustment.

With "glass" diffusion filter and curves adjustment.

Suddenly, I'm looking at abstract digital art and I kind of like that!  I would love to know what you think and which is your favorite.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Daily Craft - Hard to resist

Seeing as I got out of work early today, I decided to take in my car for it's 60K mile tune-up and while waiting for them to call and tell me it's ready, I decided to steal husband's car and head off to Joann's Fabric.  I figured it was a good way to spend an hour wandering aimlessly.  Also, I had one of those "coupon commotion" flyers they send out once in a while and I certainly can't pass up a good deal!  

Apparently I also can't pass up cute baby flannel prints with cartoon animals either.  Having perused all the aisles, I decided up on these adorable prints and also grabbed some terry cloth.  I anticipate burp cloths and bibs coming off the sewing machine soon.

Speaking of Joann, if you sell on Artfire, you can now become a VIP member which allows you a 10% discount on everything (including sale items).  Not a bad deal if you ask me. Check out this link to enroll!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Daily Ramblings - Beautiful Blogger Award

Thank you to Juli (a/k/a Missus Vonkysmeed) for nominating me for a beautiful blogger award.  After years of maintaining what I felt was a rather personally unsatisfying blog, I decided to start from scratch with Daily Dose Of Deuce.  I'm so excited that there are people reading and enjoying this blog.  I hope I stay interesting for you guys!  Hehe.  So, one of the neat things about this particular award is that it means I'm supposed to tell you all 10 facts about myself.  This is where things get tricky because it's actually quite hard to come up with 10 things about myself, but here we go...

1) I do not like things flying at my head.  Birds, bugs, butterflies, you name it - if it's flying around my head, I will duck, flap, squawk, and do what might be considered a good impression of a hyperactive chicken.  People have been making fun of me for this, um, condition, for years.
2) If you could whisk me off on my dream vacation to anywhere in the world, I'd go to Italy without a doubt.  I've been dreaming of wandering through Rome/Tuscany/Venice with my camera in one hand, a glass of wine in the other, sipping on coffee, holding hands with the husband in a random piazza...  A part of me almost wants to spend a day visiting all the monuments in the book Angels & Demons!
3) I've worked at a major record label in copyright & licensing for the last 9 years.  It was my first job out of college and I came into it knowing absolutely nothing.  I never would have guessed that I'd love it enough to stay this long as spending all day negotiating royalties and reading contracts certainly wouldn't have been my top choice of careers, but it's been a perfect fit.
4) Speaking of music and record labels, it's a fact that I'm completely incapable of turning down a free ticket to a concert, no matter who the artist.  One of the most random concerts that was a result of free tickets through work was Chicago with Huey Lewis & The News.  How could that not be entertaining?
5) I love Microsoft Excel and how it makes my work day easier.  I especially enjoy the challenge of writing formulas and formatting documents to do my bidding.  I'm a nerd.
6) I met my husband during the first week of freshman year in college.  My roommates and I needed a ride to a frat party.  My husband had a car.  The rest as they say is history.
7) I'm completely fascinated by the psychology of crime.  I totally love reading crime novels, or watching TV dramas and documentaries about serial killers on the Discovery Channel.  To reassure you, I do not have psychopathic tendencies - it just intrigues me.
8) Where I grew up in England is very rural and between the "high street" and my parents' house, there is only one street lamp.  It was always pretty easy to get weirded out by the darkness and, as a child, when I would see the shadows of the trees in the yard, I used to think that the child-eating giants from the BFG were coming to get me.
9) I love to cook and will try making just about anything (which those of you that read this blog have probably figured out).  What you may not know is that my attempts to bake sweet goods has never quite worked out as planned.  The good news is that I've now mostly mastered the Duncan Hines method of baking and I'm determined one day I shall learn to bake my own master pieces from scratch!
10) I am strangely addicted to watching Gordon Ramsey cooking shows.  Everything from Kitchen Nightmares to Hells Kitchen and The F Word.  He just seems like he's a very nice guy when he's not yelling at everybody.

And now that you have all this extra completely useless information about me, here are my nominations for other blogs deserving of the Beautiful Blogger Award.  You should check them out and hopefully they'll have some things to share about themselves too!

AC Engineered Knits
Army Of Knitters
Deliberately Domestic
Designs By Dianna
Indie Home Ec
Juicy Bits
Little Big Girl Studio
Raised In The Woods
Think Liz
Wife, "Mom", Knitter

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Daily Deal - For 99 cents only

I've been in serious need of organizing my craft room, which is also the guest bedroom, and may even have a child in it some time in the future.  The book shelves in there are overflowing with yarn, notions, vintage items, books, sewing patterns and who knows what else (still working on that part).  Needless to say, if I didn't buy another crafting supply for the next year and just worked with what I have, I might be able to make a small dent.  It's a classic case of too many ideas, not enough time, and when the hell did I accumulate all this stuff anyway? 

While most of this weekend was spent inside trying to stay out of the obnoxiously oppressive weather, compounded by the need to recuperate from my illness, I did venture out of the house to the store on Sunday.  My trip to 99 Cents Only was primarily for the fact that they have cheap produce that's perfect for salads - i.e. bag of spinach and two huge bell peppers for a buck each.  I should note, however, that I cannot walk into that place without the compulsion to wander through all of the aisles taking a look at what other deals they have in store that week.  I was excited to find these collapsible storage totes for a dollar each.  I figured they'd be proper storage of all the things on my bookshelves in that room, but I never guessed that each shelf would hold exactly 2 side-by-side and these might just be the most perfect solution for the best price.  In fact, I think I'm going to go back and buy some more tonight because now the bookshelves are mostly organized, I think they'll be helpful for inside the closet as well.   

There's a reason that so often I will go there with the need for 2 things and $20 later, I escape!  It's not just me right?  What's been your favorite dollar store find?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Daily Deuce - What a week!

My week took a turn for the worse about half way through when I developed a nasty cough.  A trip to the doctor yesterday and I've been diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis.  Sounds like fun right?  Today, after the first round of meds (mixture between anti-biotics and steroids) I'm feeling a little bionic - which could also be a result of being slightly light-headed.  Yay me!  To make it worse, the weather has gone completely nuts in Southern Cali.  It was 90+ degrees the last couple of days, which makes being sick with chills the most obnoxious thing ever.  This morning, however, it was 80 degrees and raining at 8:30am.  Perhaps it's really not that surprising that I have bronchitis, most likely caused by allergies.

So, here's a completely silly video of Deuce because, no matter how crappy I feel, he always makes me feel better.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Daily Craft - Just too cute!

I've admittedly been slacking a little on my crafting over the last few months, but I'm back into it now and using this pattern, decided to make some baby socks with small pieces of yarn that I've got around.  How cute are they?!  They don't take long, are great for left over balls of yarn, and they're simply adorable.

I have more of this yarn in green and white so I think I'll be making more.  :)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Daily Art - Downtown L.A. Artwalk

In the interest of finding new and inexpensive ways to do things around Los Angeles, husband and I went to the Downtown Art Walk this week.  It's held on the second Thursday of every month and is an opportunity to wander around, check out some new art, vendors and even bands playing on street corners.  Husband has been before, but this is the first time I've been and I will definitely be there again in the future!  So, here's another post with lots of pictures to share with you all.  :)

One of the rooms, filled with art and vendors, inside the Alexandria, a noted landmark.  The installation on the back wall that you see in this photo are mixed media art by our neighbor, Tim Sabatino.

One of my favorite things about the vendors there were the vibrant colors and textures.  Hard not to be drawn to them really.

Many of the galleries and art spaces downtown have artists actively working on their piece while the crowds are wandering past.  As somebody who doesn't have much of a talent for drawing or painting, I'm always mystified to watch others at work.

A creative spin on the Beatles!

We finished off our adventures with a stop at a food truck.  Food trucks are all the rage in Los Angeles these days and we opted to try some Indian food.  It has to be said, I wasn't sure how good it would be, but was quite impressed by the end result.  My paratha (above) was both hot and delicious!

I'm hoping to make a visit to the art walk a monthly thing and I'm sure there will be new and different things on offer every time.  I think I'll leave my camera back pack in the car though - I now understand why turtles move slowly through a crowd....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Daily Shape - Come walk with me!

As you may recall, I've been trying to get my butt in shape and back to making progress after a brief stint a couple of months ago where I was totally heading in the wrong direction (as in outwards).  I've been trying to find alternative ways to entertain myself while on this quest as a means of keeping myself interested, and motivated of course.  I live in a suburban area in L.A. County and in between the busier main streets littered with shops, restaurants and large apartment/condo complexes, there are tons of little residential pockets with cute houses and beautiful yards.  That means areas that are easy to take a walk through without the fear of getting run over!  Today I decided to walk in a big circle through the neighborhood, taking my little camera with me to document my trip. 
Valley College is near by and right now most of the students are enjoying summer break.  Personally?  I'm enjoying the lack of traffic on the streets.

L.A. is riddled with these little alleyways behind buildings on main streets.  I love them as they provide a wonderfully sneaky way to get around town.  As you can see, the sky is gray - uncharacteristically so for July in Southern California.  Having said that, it reminded me of home (England) where walking about with a light drizzle isn't unusual.

I have always found this plant striking, despite having no clue what it is - nobody's ever accused me of having a green thumb, that's for sure.  From a distance, you can't even tell that each of the tiny flowers are like little petals, creating a bigger and even more beautiful flower when clustered together.

I had to snap a photo of this, which was in somebody's front yard (hopefully they weren't concerned about the weird girl on the curb taking photos of their stuff at 8 in the morning!  It find it simply charming as I can only imagine that the flowers in the baskets also came from somewhere in their yard.  A lovely way to display them.

Pretty much across the street there is some new construction for sale.  Many of the homes in my area are older, ranch style houses.  The new houses that they have been building are quite impressive in design and really stand out as so different from what's already there.  I hadn't seen this one before but I like it and think I might have to add it to my wish list of "stuff I can't afford". 

Of the walks I've taken so far, I think I enjoyed this one the most.  Having my camera with me made it almost like an exploration of what photo worthy things I could find on my travels.  I just may have to make this a more regular venture into the suburban wild!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Daily Dish - Thai Chicken Pasta

From the very first time I tried the Thai Linguini at California Pizza Kitchen, I was in love.  Thai food is one of my favorites and this was a pretty cool fusion that one day, a couple of years back, I decided to try and replicate at home.  The beauty of this particular dish is that you can have fun with the veggies being used and, as someone that tends to not measure anything, the sauce is really made to suit your own taste.  You can make it more nutty or spicy according to your own preference.  What I'm providing here really is nothing more than a guideline!

Ingredients (estimated):
1 large chicken breast
4 tbsp Peanut butter
2 tsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Sweet Chili Sauce
1 tsp Chili Oil (or other similar spice to suit your own taste)
2 Carrots
1 Bell pepper (I also added zucchini when cooking it for these photos)
3 cloves Garlic
Linguini, spaghetti, noodles, or whatever you'd like to throw it on top of!
Fresh cilantro for garnish

Cooking instructions:
Chop the chicken into chunks and chop up the veggies.  Brown the chicken until cooked through and set water to boil in a separate pan to cook the pasta or noodles.

While the chicken is cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter with soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and chili oil.  Add approximately a 1/4 cup of water to create a smooth paste.  (This is my favorite part because you get to taste test the sauce to your liking.  Keep adding any of the ingredients as necessary and add more water if the sauce gets too thick).  Set the sauce aside.

Once the chicken is cooked, add the garlic, and veggies to the pan and sauté everything together.  At this point, your water should be about boiling so add the pasta or noodles according to the appropriate cooking time.  Add the peanut/chili sauce to the chicken and veggies, let simmer on low for about 5 minutes.

Pour over the pasta or noodles and garnish with some fresh cilantro.  Enjoy!