Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: work
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label work. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Crazy Times are When I Drink Tea and Make Origami Turkeys

Hello friends,

Crazy Times

Sorry for the absences in the past week.  Things have been a bit rough as my husband lost his job a little over a week ago, went on a job search, found a new job, and is now waiting to start that job on Monday.  He's back to working in Raleigh again, though this time the commute is a tolerable half hour rather than something more crazy.  We thought he'd be working in Durham for a long time when we decided to move here, but we at least moved to an area that's close to the research triangle and not too bad for getting to north Raleigh, where his new job is at.

We've been through the wringer emotionally this past week and in some ways are glad he'll have some time off.  But we're using a lot of the time to take care of doctor's visits and things before we have to figure out what we'll do for health care next year since we'll have to buy our own plan under the contract position Bryan has landed.  But I won't bore you with the details, on to the fun!

Matcha Green Tea

Culinary Grade

So I tried cooking with matcha green tea powder for the first time about a month ago.  I'd had pastries and other great green tea items at restaurants, but hadn't really found a great green tea to enjoy at home until then.  I used a recipe for making a matcha glaze, which was intended for use on brownies, but I used on cinnamon rolls instead.  The results were a bit ugly, but tasted wonderful.

Drinking Matcha

The logical next step after using culinary grade matcha powder in cooking was to try the better ceremonial grade varieties that are the type made for drinking.  I got a little help from Midori Spring and Kenko brands (affiliate link) who let me try some of their products for free in exchange for an honest review.  I even bought a little whisk and scoop set made for making the matcha with.  Here's what I did:

I heated up a mixture of milk and water knowing the tea might be a little bitter at first, but the milk would help with that.  While I had the liquid heating up in the microwave I took one scoop of the powder and added it to my little tea bowl.  Once the water and milk was hot I added a teacup amount, with a touch of space for the whisk to move.  Here are photographs of both brands:

The Midori Spring was more finely sifted, but they both performed about as well as the other.  I really enjoyed them both.  I think I ended up with a slight preference for the Kenko tea, but they were both fantastic.

A peek at the powder inside the tins.

The Kenko looks a bit darker, but it's really not, between the photo's exposure and the slight difference in heat since my first cup was probably not as hot as it needed to be I had to stir it a little more after the picture was taken.  The trick is you pour the for water over the scoop of powder and whisk it until it froths.  I found that with the milk added in I didn't even need to add sugar.  But if you're more sensitive to bitter tastes you might want to try that too.  Overall I find tea is one of my favorite things about cooler weather.  I'm really glad to add green tea as a new option.   At this point I have a whole drawer dedicated to tea, plus a bunch more looseleaf teas I keep in a section of the cupboards.  Here's a shot of my tea drawer, just because.

As you can see I really enjoy Stash brand teas too.  If you'd like to try them out they make a really great herbal sampler box you can find here, which has the Cinnamon Apple Chamomile Tea or their Breakfast in Paris blend if you'd like a more traditional black tea that's similar to earl grey with a hint of lavender (both links are affiliates).


Another fun thing I was given to try by a company was this origami paper by Orchid.  With a value pack this size I don't think I'm going to run out anytime soon.  There are 10 fun colors, which work well for most projects.  You can buy a pack here (affiliate link).  I found it to be a pretty great deal for a 500 pack, and the paper itself it pretty good quality, holding up well to what I put it through for each of the three projects I tried.

I had fun creating some fun seasonal things, and plan to work on some more to make things festive.  I might even make some Christmas ornaments!

I tried my hand at a pumpkin, turkey, and Christmas tree.  The links go to instructions for each so you can try making them too.  I think the pumpkin is actually a really versatile shape.  You could turn it into an apple or a beach ball easily for various occasions.  It was really fun to make because once all the folds were done you have to blow into the hole on top to inflate it!  None of these were too hard, though the turkey and perhaps the pumpkin could be frustrating for younger kids.  The tree is a really easy one that it would be simple to make a large set of for decorating.
Well, here's hoping I'll be around more this week than last week.  Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Days 102-152

Hi folks,

It's been far too long since my last post, and for all my high hopes of posting more regularly I've missed the mark.  However, I will give an update on how things have been going and share some of the things that have kept me busy for the last month and a half.  Here's part 1 now:

After working as a temp at Anthropologie for two weeks (full time, which ended up throwing off my usual routine badly, including my posts here), I made a bid to stay on as a sales associate, and started working again about two weeks later on May 4th.  In the inbetween time I did spring cleaning, continued the job search, and participated in family stuffs.  As for the job, I've still got some things to learn, but it's coming along well.  I actually can wear some of their clothes, which really surprised me since their size charts say they only go up to about a 14.  I've found that shirts can be variable in fit and it just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much stock in what the tags say since nothing in women's sizing is standardized.

However, all this thought about clothing and women had me thinking about how we perceive ourselves.   I know I'm big, fat, curvy, fluffy, chunky, stout, or whatever you want to call it; I usually wear a 18/20 or xxl-2x on top and 20-24 and 1x-3x for bottoms and weigh 247 lbs.  I don't have a problem with my looks or the numbers associated with each inch of my curves; I love my body, it's mine after all!  I'm healthy in all the ways doctors measure, and take care of myself with exercise and balanced diet habits.  (Not that I should have to defend myself, but being different from the cultural ideal on the outside means people will question and make assumptions about my insides too, whether it be health, habits, or qualities of character.)  But I want to be really honest here, and I want people to realize just what 200+ lbs looks like.  It's certainly not what Hollywood would make you believe because bodies are so unique, especially women's.

To Hollywood Jennifer Lawrence is fat, and Mindy Kaling is huge, which is just silly.  If you were to meet them you'd realize they're more normal and probably still smaller than most of the women you know.  (Plus there's Photoshopped versions everywhere making our perspectives even more out of proportion, though that's a matter I'll leave alone for now!)  Movies and TV portray larger people as the butt of jokes, especially women, and as undesirable or even subhuman.  The words fat and lazy or fat and stupid somehow seem to pair well together as stereotypes in people's minds after being used as insults for long enough.  Studies even show that the attitude has trickled down into hiring practices for jobs.  Larger women are automatically perceived as less competent, discriminated against in many ways for it, and there's more you can read here.  And to clarify, they're looking at obesity as measured by BMI, which for someone who's 5' 6" like me would mean weighing 186 lbs or more, making where obesity starts not as large as you might think.  But please keep in mind BMI is simply a demographic tool created in the 1800s as a mathematical formula for aiding those looking at population trends in the larger picture.  It was never actually meant to be used as a tool to measure the health of individuals, and most European doctors laugh at us Americans using it as such.

For example here is a site that shows what real people look like and shows you what they weigh and the size they wear as well as being able to search through all the information by several different criteria - and this is what 300 pounds actually looks like. VS this and well, not much else because Hollywood has been pretty scared of showing women who are larger as part of their regular viewing repertoire.  (Mike and Molly, and shows like Glee are starting to change this, but only recently!)  And really how many people in Hollywood are even over a size 8?  Yet the average size in America is a 14, and there are plenty of people larger than that too.  Many clothing companies for fashion forward styles only go up to that 14, or perhaps an 18 for the more budget friendly labels, which makes little sense in the current market as it cuts so many women off from trends and well made clothing.  It's something I care about quite a bit despite wearing tshirts and jeans half the time....they're easier to come by, especially for someone who is prone to getting paint or chemicals on them!  But being at Anthro,'s a job you get to dress up for.  Which is a fun challenge for me; our budget is tight, but we've fit in new things like a gauzy maxi skirt here and floral button down there.

Additionally, I came across this really great article that looks at women's attitudes about size and how the media comes into play concerning how satisfied we are with ourselves.  You can skip all the other links in the post as long as you make the time for this one!  It's pretty powerful in expressing some of the things that I used to think were what separated me from all the "girly" girls and women I've interacted with.  I was simply never able to think or talk that way about myself or others.  I have a sense of self respect, that stems partially from the way I fundamentally see people - created in God's image or from a scientific viewpoint wonderfully unique genetically!  And as people each of us has value, we all have something we can contribute to society, which can be physical or intellectual.  So, sure I'll tell you if your clothes seem to fit you well or not if we're shopping, but what the article highlights the more sinister tendencies that shape the negative ways we can see ourselves.  However, this is why I don't talk about whether I'm on a diet or if food makes me feel guilty (it doesn't for the record).  They just make people feel worse, including yourself.  Food shouldn't trigger guilt, it should be reminding us of the good things that come out of the earth and the happy times we've shared with loved ones. (due to scents, flavors, and other sensation associated with the foods, which are ways we build connections to memories in our neurostructure thanks to the tactile nature of experiences that happen to include food.)

And beyond all that, to tie in art here, I think art featuring a variety of bodies is just more interesting than if everyone was about the same size.  The same as life in general should be when you stop and think about it.  After all, we wouldn't want everyone with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin either.  Variety is good, seeing it helps us appreciate ourselves more as we learn that each feature is interesting and beautiful in its own way.  Some of you may have already seen this one or similar earlier versions, but I wanted to share some Photoshopped versions of famous art.  They're all more round than what we're used to seeing, but still show some variety while being idealized as well.  They're certainly closer to an attainable, healthy reality than the tendency to skewing small is in today's culture.  Not that people need to bother emulating any of what we see....unless of course we're talking about painting techniques!  In which case...go ahead as long as you steal well enough to make the idea your own new version of the thing.

So, this has been a really loaded post, which hopefully some of you will enjoy.  I'll reveal more about what's been going on in my life during next post!  I should have more time over the next few days now that I'm getting back into a routine.

Love, Lydia

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Days 87-101

Hi everyone!

My blog has now been going for over 100 days!  Exclamation points for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Not enough posts to go around, but I'll explain a bit about some of the delays there.

I've been applying to jobs still....something like 8-10 since my last post in fact.  I've also had 2 interviews since then.  One was for a position that once I found out a bit more about I wasn't so interested in anymore.  The other sounds really good, and I've made it to the second round with them, so sometime in the next few weeks I'll get a date for an in person interview.  Besides all that I got a call from Anthropologie yesterday asking me to come work as a temp for their opening, so for about 2 weeks I'll get to work for them, which should be a pretty good little gig.  I can guess they don't want to hire me for anything other than temp work since I can't wear their clothing, which is a bit frustrating, but I have better things to worry about than that.

My parents are preparing to sell their house and hope to move to a one story place in the near future, so I'll be heading to Roanoke at some point soon to help them paint and pack things if possible.  I certainly don't mind painting, especially while the weather isn't too hot yet.  I have an old bedroom of things to go through there and decide what I want and don't.  Meanwhile a storage room at our house is pretty full of boxes from our old apartment, I sense some spring cleaning in my future.  I've already started since I wanted things to look great for my drawing lesson last week.  I just need to take the pictures to share with you all now that my studio and living room are looking up to snuff finally.

The drawing lesson went really well; the kid's a typical teenager and deciding if lessons are something they want is the hardest part.  For now the mom is making sure they at least try it for a while.  I worked with them to see what objects they could draw from life and then started on some basic shading techniques and went over pencil qualities.  I think this week we'll talk about lines, texture, and continue with shading.  I keep thinking I wish I had the design textbook I'd used for my design I & II classes at Virginia Western because it had such great examples of various elements of design and art that's more approachable for learners.  It's one of the few textbooks I ever sold, and of course I'm now regretting it.  I started looking for it on Amazon today without any luck.

This spring has been keeping me so busy I don't think I'm going to have the time to plant a little vegetable garden as I was hoping.  My allergies have been pretty bad the past few days now that the trees are starting to leaf out.  Everything is light green, white, and pink, and birds are constantly singing outside out windows.  I think some have even made a nest in our gutters!  I can't help admitting how lovely it is despite all the symptoms the pollen gives me.  I'm hoping to start a spring watercolor piece based on some fond memories I have of driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway in past seasons.

On the other hand I've spent more time on various games with family, board games with just Bryan and I and his parents the past two weekends, Hackmaster games with Stephen, Bryan and BG, and Magic the Gathering with Bryan, BG, and their dad.  Then inspired by Twitch Plays Pokemon (a massive chatroom controlled collective that has played through of various Pokemon titles) Bryan suggested playing through one of the games set to random for most variations of items and creatures in the game.  So Bryan and I had most of his brothers along with one of their girlfriends join us in playing Pokemon Platinum, on emulators with random settings.  It's proved to be quite interesting, and we've been playing in a way that keeps us more or less working on the same part of the game at the same time, by waiting for the majority (5 of the 6 of us) to beat a gym before going on to the next one.  We've had some fun chat on Facebook thanks to it, which is really nice since we aren't all playing it in the same city or even state.  I can't say enough sometimes about how much I love being a part of Bryan's family, I'm really thankful for all of them.

More tomorrow.
Love, Lydia

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Days 50-56

Well everyone,

The past week has passed by in a blur, job applications sent off, resume tweaks for each one, being more active on Twitter, searching every job site I can think of, spending time with family, planning for either a trip to Virginia or Pennsylvania soon depending on some family news, looking for artistic opportunities, and continuing work on art pieces here and there.  Some of it is ridiculously boring, and some of it slightly less so.

Twitter for instance has been making a big change in how I'm communicating with people.  I've heard about a lot more local art shows and events through it.  In a few weeks of using it regularly I feel much more connected to what's going on in Raleigh, as well as Roanoke and Columbus!  Feel free to add me - @Lydiasdesigns

Highlights of this week include:

Celebrating my husband's birthday with his family
Searching for a snowy owl (failing, but getting the consolation prize of Girl Scout cookies!)
Getting our taxes done other than a W2 that's missing
Seeing the film Chico & Rita and the NC Museum of Fine Arts
Updating my computer OS from Snow Leopard to Mavericks (not sure what I think of all the changes!)
Completing 3 weeks of a health awareness regimen (which I hope to continue in the long term)
Joining the Raleigh Tabletop Roleplay group on (I went to their GM Fair last year, where Bryan GMed a game of Hackmaster, and we tried playing Traveler - a space exploring ame)

Since things have been moving slow I'll be getting a little more action in posting a special "Ask me anything" on Facebook tomorrow and will give results here on my blog later this week. Waiting til things calm down in my personal life to do this - 2/26/14.

Additionally here's an update on how "Bianca" is going:

Thanks and until next time!

Love, Lydia


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Days 43-49

Hello everyone,
Today I've been going through old notebooks.  I have a stack of them kept from about the time I started college.  There's some class notes, but a lot more in the way of personal notes and journal entries.  It's always interesting for me to revisit them.  I can see how I've changed, and how I've been impatient for all the things I thought I should have in the future.  Everything is always different from how you think it will be.  Being content and making the best of things as they happen is sometimes the best we can do.  I definitely have a lot on my mind right now, as you can probably see.

I'm going through some transitions in what I'm doing careerwise.  I've been applying to jobs daily and looking for more.  Some art related and some not at all.  My application to Penland is in and I'm waiting to hear back about that.  I'm still working on art, but not nearly as much of my time is going into it as I would wish.

Stay posted for updates, photos and new pieces are a bit delayed for now though!

Love, Lydia