Maid Mirawyn's Photos Maid Mirawyn's Photos

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I'm a Pod person again!

I just got in my long-awaited new iPod! Ever since my first iPod bit the dust about six weeks ago, I've felt lost! No Pod to kill the time on the bus…no Pod to motivate me at the fitness center…and no iPod to save me when stuck in a car with bad pop music!

This comes at a good time, because I just upgraded the drive on my TiBook to 60 gigs last month. Even though my previous Pod held 10 gigs, I could only put about 4.5 gigs of music on it because I ran out of hard drive space for more music. (I had about 200 megs of disk space free–not good for working with PhotoShop!) The old 10 gig drive is now an external drive. With all that disk space, I can really fill up my iPod! (Hmm…I guess I should leave some room on that hard drive for my design work…)

My new Pod is a 30 gig iPod photo, with a case by inCase. (The 30 gig photos can be a good value now, since they are no longer the "latest and greatest." But mine is brand new, and better than a 20 gig "iPod with Color Display.")

I don't have any photos on it, yet, or even my whole music library, but I'm very pleased with sound quality and the color screen. Love my Pod!


Thursday, July 28, 2005

New art goodies

While in Chattanooga, I visited a small stamp & scrap convention. I am so glad I went! I found the most amazing, beautiful product: metallic powder gouache! It can be mixed in with other water-soluble media, especially watercolors, to add a bit of shimmer and sparkle. But it is most amazing when used straight: mixed with water, it creates a lush, creamy metallic paint! (It looks like liquid metal when wet.)

I purchased mine from Cherry Pie Art Stamps. The owner, Marina, is very nice. I'm going to ask if I can post a photo or two of her work with it. Until then, here's the link to a card from her gallery that uses it. (It's the gold border, and the gold speckling.)

I can't wait to play with it myself! Eventually, I'll create something I'm proud of, and then I will upload some scans.

Cherry Pie also has beautiful, mostly Old World-European rubber stamps. Unfortunately, I spent all my money on the paint, some Twinkling H2Os, and a couple of tools, so the stamps will have to wait.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Keeping cool in Chattanooga

I really will be done with Chattanooga soon, I promise. But there's a few things that are just too fun to leave out.

You can't help but notice that Chattanooga is hot and humid–especially this summer. But the city has a great way for you to keep cool: fountains!

Aquarium plaza itself is full of fun water features, including the "Aquarium Plaza Stream." The plaza is nicely designed, with plenty of seating, some shaded areas, and a fountain that looks like it has burst through the pavement. The stream areas are very accessible, and great for those who wish to preserve a bit of dignity (or their clothes) while getting their feet wet.

From the plaza, take the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge across the river to the riverfront, unless you're afraid of heights. It's the longest pedestrian bridge in the world, and gives a great view of the Tennessee River. Be warned–it is high! (If you look at the linked photo, it's the one on the right.) But it's the easiest way to reach my other favorite place…

…Which would be Coolidge Park, which is a great way to cool off if you don't mind throwing your dignity to the winds. With a wide expanse of gorgeous green grass surrounded by trees, it's also a great place for a picnic (or nap). Its main feature is a beautifully restored carousel–which is located in a nice, cool, enclosed pavillion, by the way. My favorite part, though, was the fountain. It's the type that has recently become popular, with the jets recessed to create a wide open flat area you can walk through. But this fountain has a little something extra: eight carousel animal sculptures that shoot water! They are perfect for climbing, too, which just adds to the fun.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

What to eat in Chattanooga...

As promised (notice how I pretend people will read this), here's more on Chattanooga. This time, it's food.

If you like pizza, you have to visit Lupi's. This is probably the best pizza I have ever had. It's just two blocks down Broad Street from Aquarium Plaza, on the left. (The front is painted purple; you'll know it when you see it.) You'll pass a Mellow Mushroom almost immediately–don't stop! Lupi's is way better, and I'm not the only one who thinks so! All the food is of the highest quality, and the crust is as close to perfect as it can possibly get. Their selection of toppings is also impressive.

Lupi's Pizza Pies on Urbanspoon

Obviously Broad and Market Street are heavily travelled by tourists (though Lupi's is quite popular with locals; most tourists seem to choose Mellow Mushroom). A quick trip across the river, however, allows you to escape some of the bustle. The Riverfront district is more residential; it's slower, a little more eclectic, with more "mom and pop" businesses. Several good restaurants face Coolidge Park, which is directly across the river from Aquarium Plaza.

We chose Mudpie Restaurant & Coffeehouse, a family business and a referral from a local. It was definitely the right choice! The menu was much broader than that of the typical coffehouse, with vegetarian options. (My brother is a "veggiesaurus", so I always check.) Again, excellent quality. The burritos are great, and very reasonably priced since they come with a side. My husband had a most unusual grilled cheese sandwich: wheat bread with cheddar, mozzarella, and feta. Very yummy! The coffee was great, too: we had a mocha, made with Ghiradelli dark chocolate (yum) and a single shot of espresso, topped with whipped cream. (You could get it with a double or triple shot, but we aren't that brave!) It was perfect, and huge!

The "Monkey Hips and Rice" is supposed to be popular, but unfortunately none of us ordered it. (I was really hoping someone would, if just for the name!) If anyone tries it, post your opinion! (Note: contains no actual monkey…)

Later I'll talk about other fun stuff in Chattanooga.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I love the Tennessee Aquarium!

Well,I just came back from a great visit to the Tennessee Aquarium. If you're in the Southeast and have never been, you really should go! The admission is quite reasonable—only $17.95 for an adult—and it's well worth the time and money. (I'll definitely go again, even though we'll soon have our own aquarium in Atlanta.)

Your aquarium ticket covers admission to TWO buildings: River Journey, which traces the Tennessee River from its origins in the mountains all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, and Ocean Journey, which has fewer exhibits but two big sharks as the main attraction.

If you can, be in River Journey around 1 pm. That's when they feed the fish in the Gulf of Mexico exhibit (the really, really, big, multi-story tank in the center of the aquarium). That includes the enormous sea turtle, the rays, and the small sharks. It's fun to watch!

My favorite permanent exhibit is the river otters. Unfortunately, one of the two original otters died about four months ago; the remaining otter was sleeping when we visited. Hopefully they will add more otters soon!

One surprise: the seahorse exhibit! When I was there two years ago, the exhibit was due to end soon, but apparently they changed their mind. I took tons of photos of the seahorses and seadragons. The seadragons are proof that dragons DO exist–they're just a bit smaller than we thought, and don't breathe fire!

I'll post my opinions on the rest of Chattanooga later.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

How to ship a hippo...

Some things are so insane that you just have to share them. Do you just happen to have a hippo lying around that you need to ship? Well, here's how you do it.

You don't have a hippo? Well, how about pet rocks or a gorilla? There's help for you, too. Remember, these are the most authoritative directions available, apparently straight from the US Postal Service!

Next time you need to ship your hippo, you'll thank me for this.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My first geocache!

Okay, I didn't get to go cache-hunting this weekend. We have had intermittent storms in Atlanta, so I had to wait. (It's all those tropical storms and hurricanes!)

But yesterday I found my first cache! Yay!

It was every bit as much fun as I expected; I can't wait to go hunting for more. If you have a GPS (or access to one), I highly recommend giving it a try! No matter where you live, there's probably one not too far away.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Eraser Carving Fun

I found a few great sites on eraser carving today. I had practiced on erasers when I took printmaking, but I was just playing with line. Some carvers, though, have created some really impressive stamps.

If you are interested, the Carving Consortium has a really nice gallery of images, though browsing isn't very user friendly.

If you just want to play around with it, Stamp Mania Australia has clear, straightforward instructions to get you started. If you are serious, though, or a perfectionist like me, check out this page by Carolyn Hasenfratz of Lime Green Evolution. It's much more in-depth, and has great diagrams and examples. There's also good advice on choosing images to carve.

Another good site is Tabloid Trash. It's just an archive, now, with cross-links to the Carving Consortium, but there is a good "how to", as well as a nice gallery and the "C.O.W.", or Carving of the Week. Very nice! The instruction page is written by a non-artist, so there are lots of tips on working with copies. The transfer tips could be especially helpful.

The consensus is that pink rubber and art gum erasers aren't worth the effort, and I agree: the best pink or gum eraser won't work as well as an inexpensive white vinyl eraser. (Magic Rubs aren't as good as Staedtler Mars erasers, but you can still get good results with them, and can usually buy them by the dozen at one of the office supply superstores.) Just make sure your eraser doesn't have any raised areas (many Staedtlers do). If it does, it's unlikely your design will allow you to carve all of it away, and it will show up when you stamp. I found this out the hard way-I'm glad it was a quick, easy-to-carve design.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Going on a treasure hunt...

My husband gave me a Garmin iQue last year as a combination graduation (Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, btw) and birthday gift. I've always loved scavenger hunts, so I was really eager to try geocaching. Well, somehow, I have never gotten around to actually trying it! I can't believe it, considering how much I love parks and day hikes.

I'm going up to Chattanooga to visit the aquarium next weekend, and it just seems like a perfect opportunity to do some caching. But my whole family (mom, sister, brother, husband) is going with me, so I better know what I'm doing.

This weekend, I'm going! I went online at lunch and found out there are dozens of them in my area of suburban Atlanta! In fact, I was able to figure out the general location of three in my area strictly from the description. How can it get any easier?

I hope to get several done this weekend, at least those three. I can't wait!

By the way, if you're interested in geocaching, scavenger hunts, or rubber stamps, check out Letterboxing North America! Letterboxing combines all of these in a really fun, unique way. The cache contains a rubber stamp and notebook; you bring your own stamp, a notebook, and an ink pad. You stamp the logbook, add the date, and then stamp your book with the stamp in the cache.

Most of these hunts don't use GPS, but I have seen letterbox entries at geocaching, too. Now I have a motivation to hurry up and carve the "personal" stamp I've been meaning to create for a year!