Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gardening Update

2 weeks
Summer has finally hit in Seattle and I'm so happy!  Yes gardening is a big distraction to art making, but hey how many days of sun do we get in Seattle?!  This is about 2 1/2 weeks of growth in the raised beds.  It's amazing what sun and heat can do for plants.

Future Zucchinis!
Zucchini blossoms:
I had really bad luck with my zucchinis last year.  The leaves kept getting mildewy and the baby zuchs just shriveled up and dropped off.  I found out that mildew is a huge problem, especially if you plant where the air is stagnant.  I had planted them in a back corner of the raised bed last year.  This year I decided to give them the primo-front and center location.  There's a nice draft, a lot more sun and enough room for them to grow.  I also read that spraying milk on your plants will help keep mildew at bay.  I haven't tried it yet.

Zuch Blossom
As an added benefit the zucchinis also live next to a huge clump of oregano, which attract a lot of pollinators.  It turns out my baby zuchs were dropping last year because they weren't fertilized.  It's called "fruit abortion"... brings about all sorts of horrible visuals.  But when the seeds aren't fertilized the plant decides it doesn't need to bring the fruit to full maturity.  Why waste the energy right?  The bees are definitely doing their job this year!

The Harvest
This was my first zucchini harvest this year!  I got 5 this week from 2 plants.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sir SCAMS-alot

I got this wonderful email last month from a Betty Davies saying she wanted to purchase 2 pieces off my website.  She said she's in London right now but moving to Johannesburg.  She wanted to have her shipping/moving company take care of the transport (STRIKE #1).  I didn't hear from her for weeks, which is not a big deal a lot of time sales never go through.  Then she emails me again saying she's been in the hospital but she still wants the work.  Several emails later she said her husband has sent the check via Royal Mail, something about her twin sister helping her... she has some disease.  Usually it's not this convoluted, sales either go through or they don't.

After the check's in the mail I get constant emails from her asking me if I've gotten the check yet.  Most people aren't so eager or worried.  I got said check a week later for almost 3 times the amount due in a fishy envelope without a return address (STRIKE #2).  The post mark was crude... really anyone can buy a UK stamp and Par Avion sticker.  There was a piece of white paper folded with the check that had some ink traces on it.  They could wait for the ink to dry?!  SRLY, stop being so eager guys and go back to Scamming 101.  I give your efforts a -D.

The check was shit-tastic to say the least, with ink rubbing off where it was folded (look at the "B" in Bank).  Real bank checks will never do this.  This was done on your average laser printer.  You can get these blanks at any stationary/office supply store.  There was no watermark or hologram, although I wouldn't trust those either.  It's just more expensive to fake.  This was a real low-budget, bottom feeder, unsophisticated effort.  Also note how the word "Cashier's Check" is crooked and off-center.  I hate to see such low standards, next time reprint the check. 

Scam Email 2
Seeing the check was STRIKE #3.  I knew it was a scam, but their follow up email to me confirmed my findings.  They wanted me to cash the check and give the moving guy the "leftovers" with was double the amount due.  I hardly call that leftovers.  I had a good laugh... I was going to string them along a bit and try to find out as much as I can, but I'm too busy right now... no time for fun.  I've included some info below of names, contact info and other aliases they've used.  I did some quick digging on the internet.  If I find out more I'll continue to update this post.

I have to say it's really low trying to scam artists.  It's like robbing from an orphanage.  POST AWAY internet posse!  Leave no RAT HOLE unturned!  If you get their emails play with them a bit, let them chase those wild geese.  You're not a victim, this is good free entertainment.   Tell them you didn't get the check and have them send you another one.  See how many checks they'll send you before they figure it out.  Mail them a rock as your art piece.  Send them their own checks in the mail.  Or better yet, stop responding to their emails for a few days and let them sweat it out.  So many tricks, so little time.

DO NOT CASH THE CHECK!  It's a fake and won't go through.  The bank will charge you a fee as well.

These are posts about the same scammers:

Betty Davies
David James
James Carter
Dolphin Movers
Vonnie Taylor
Jeff Harrison
Susan Davies
Fabrice Simmons

This is their contact infos:
David James
Betty Davies
**look for similar emails with other numberings i.e.

Jeff Harrison
7301 6th Ave
Tacoma WA, 98406

James Carter
Dolphins Movers
The atlantic House
48 Caledonian Road, Kings's Cross
London D47 BT
Agent No..206-338-3153

743 Passaic Ave
Clifton, NJ 07012

12 Dennis Street
Nelson Mandela SQUARE
Joannesburg, 4005 JB
South Africa

Monday, July 19, 2010

Edible Weed ~ Hydrocotyle bonariensis

This is Hydrocotyle bonariensis.  Although it's considered a weed in many southern states, it's actually  native to that area!  I found some in my uncle's garden in Texas and thought it was Rau Ma (Centella asiatica or Gotu Kola).  Long story short I dug up a few rhizomes and planted it in my garden in Seattle.  I used to drink Rau Ma juice as a kid and have seen the juice offered in a few Vietnamese deli's and restaurants here.  But I really wanted to grow my own.

Although this isn't Rau Ma, it smells exactly like it when crushed.  Hence my miss identification.  I've actually only seen the plant once, when I was 5 or 6...  The scent never left my memory.  It's much like smelling freshly crushed Pandan leaves (Pandanus amaryllifolius), you never forget such a sweet and unique scent.   

The rhizome cutting I took from Texas grew very quickly and I was able to harvest some leaves today for juicing.  I had my doubts that this was the "right" plant but I juiced/ate it anyways... stupidly of me!  DO NOT EAT ANYTHING UNLESS YOU'RE 100% SURE IT'S EDIBLE!  Luckily for me this was...

The leaves I juiced was very close to what I remember, only it had a slightly bitter aftertaste which is not inherent in the Centella asiatica leaves.  Also the fragrance from fresh Rau Ma juice would enveloping your nostrils, but this juice only had a hint of that intensity.  From those two facts I knew I had the wrong plant... of course by now I had already drank 1/4 cup worth (about 6 crushed leaves) and had forced my husband to drink as much... Oops!  No... no tingly feeling yet... no nausea, headaches or impulses to vomit... my throat is not itching.  "Goooooooood!" I thought.  Hubby had the poison control number handy. 

I sat down and did a hardy search to I.D. the plant.  It wasn't hard, I found it within a few minutes.  I also have some plant classification experience.  I should have done this BEFORE ingesting the plant!  Instead of being Centella asiatica it is Hydrocotyle bonariensis and it's also edible.  From doing the search I found an interesting article about edible weeds:
Weeds as a future source of human consumption. 

Hydrocotyle bonariensis pureed and strained.
Both Centella asiatica and Hydrocotyle bonariensis have beneficial medicinal purposes.  But as a medicinal herb it has many different properties, some of which may adversely effect your particular condition... please read up on any supplements before you take it.

Sure it looks pretty now... Hydrocotyle bonariensis juice.  Strained Pureed leaves mixed with water and a spoonful of sugar for taste.  I wouldn't recommend it... slightly bitter and it might kill you if you I.D. the wrong plant! (LOL I laugh because I'm not dead)  But now I am on a search for the real Centella asiatica plant.  Saw some seeds on Ebay... I think this post needs a Part Deux!

I just wanted to make a quick note about collecting plants from the wild... unless you're qualified AND permitted to do so please don't do it.  Also please take special care if you're foraging for edibles, be sure you know what you're eating and what's on your food.  Many plants in urban settings are contaminated, especially aquatic plants like water-cress (and the one I've harvested).  These aquatic plants are like sponges that soak up any chemicals, poisons and parasites around it.  Not to mention plants that live below the waist might have been urinated on.  I collected my sample from my uncle's garden, to be more precise his vegetable patch.  I also took the sample home and grew a new batch of foliage from it... I didn't eat the sample directly.  I made a huge mistake in ingesting the plant before I was 100% sure of what it was!  That was really stupid, please don't do what I did!  Here's a great Universal Edibility Test for those of you who are interested.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blueberry Cobbler of YUM!

YUM! It's what's for dinner.
Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts.  I've never made a cobbler, but I REALLY REALLY love eating them!  As luck would have it there was a sale on blueberries at the market and I decided to make one for dinner.  Not bad at all for my first cobber.  It's SO GOOD!  The only drawback is that I might eat the whole thing tonight... must... have... will power...

Here is the recipe:
I didn't have any fresh OJ, so I made some from concentrate (I know blasphemous) and I also added a tablespoon of lemon juice to balance out the sweet.  All in all I really liked it, next time I might make more topping or something a little crumblier.

Dune Buggy Massacre of 2002

Dune Buggy Massacre of 2002
My husband and I built a dune buggy in the summer of 2002.  It was quite an adventure!  We scrapped 2 VW Bugs and made one jacked-up Franken-car.  I have no idea what to do when it comes to building/rebuilding cars, but I can take things apart really well!  Pitty I can't find pics of the finished product.  This was the spare-parts victim.  We didn't keep the dune buggy, it was a bit unstable and the steering was off.  I think we sold it to another gear head.

This picture was taken at my mother's old house.  She was VERY NICE to let us do this in her parking area.  I miss tearing things apart, good times!

Ride Em Cowgirl!
Happy Trails!

Friday, July 9, 2010

My First Dress

I took a little break from art-making recently and made a dress.  It's my first time making a human-sized dress, I usually sew for dolls.  To my surprise it's much easier to make human clothes than doll clothes.  The pieces for doll clothes are so small it's very tricky to sew.  Human size is more forgiving, but you definitely need WAY MORE space and material.

One Piece Dresses and Skirts
I bought this book from Kinokuniya in Seattle.  It's full of fantastic patterns and beautiful images.  I really love the clean and simple aesthetics of Japanese pattern books.  All of the text is in Japanese, but the illustrations are clear enough you can feel your way through.
If you don't have a Kinokuniya close by I highly recommend Pomadour2 on Ebay.  I've bought a few books from them before and they do a good job of scanning sample pages.  You get to look through the book before you buy, it's almost as good as browsing shelves!

This is the dres I made.
This was the dress I chose to make.

Japanese Dress Pattern
This is the result of my first dress. The dress hasn't been hemmed in this picture.  I would probably add 2" to the length in my next attempt.  Overall it was very easy to sew and took about 4 hours.  The only problem I had was getting the collar to lay flat.  Probably a NOOB mistake.

My first dress!
The collar is a bit funky, it sticks out and doesn't lay against the body.  I thought I had cut the trim fabric on the bias, but looking at this picture I think I might have cut it straight!  That would explain it... Fabric cut on the bias is much more flexible and moldable. 
I'm so excited!  Dress making is very addictive... once you make one you want to immediately make another.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Dotti's

The Dotti's
This latest commission is for the Dotti family to celebrate their newest addition!  I'm especially in love with their pup Boo.

Boo is a Boston Terrier.  I love the stubby tail and how his front paws are slightly turned in. 

The Brother in Robin's Egg Blue.

The Baby in Scarlet. She'll be here by the end of July! Congrats guys :)

I had a hard time resolving the mid section. I didn't have the proper tool to carve out a flat/smooth interior curve. I almost need a tiny spoon. The knife cuts and doesn't scoop... if I'm making any sense.

I went with a soft curled pose for this carving. While searching around for reference images I fell in love with how cute tiny baby feet are.  I think I did a pretty good job with the feet.  Scale-wise she's WAY TOO large in comparison to her brother's carving, but I had to make her bigger in order to get the detail I wanted.