Internet Travel Guide: 4/24/2014

“Be yourself – not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”

Recently Pinned:

17 Shades of Purple | Honestly WTF (via Pinterest)

I am loving this rainbow hair trend that I keep seeing on Pinterest. If the time ever comes when I don’t have a desk job my hair will absolutely be a super-unnatural color for a little bit. I had a pink streak in college and it was AWESOME and I want MOAR COLOR and I don’t care if it is ridiculous. Although hey, I could totally get away with this right now:

Hidden Hues | The Beauty Department (via Pinterest)

I’ve also been thinking about giving henna hair dye a try for a while; I like being a redhead, and I might as well go Full Hippie since I’ve got such a good start. This lady’s got basically my hair color….

DIY Dyeing with Henna | Two Bobbins Later (via Pinterest)


Around the Interwebs:

I like this description for people who have a hard time getting their thoughts from their brains to their mouths (like yours truly) – we’ve got a long runway!

How did humans evolve to deal with city crowds? Apparently by creating tiny rural villages with the **Power of Imagination** (we tune out everyone except for an “inner circle” of 150-ish people).

Somebody had to invent cartography, and it was probably a couple of monks, and it probably went down exactly like this. (From – you guessed it – The Toast)

Vid o’ the Week:

“What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me . . . is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

So if you* have great taste, that’s probably why your work is disappointing – because you can tell it’s not great, even if other people like it. That’s discouraging, but if you have the discipline to keep going and push your skills and produce a bunch of art or words or video or whatnot, your skills will start catching up to your taste. From what I’ve heard from professionals… your skills never actually catch up all the way. You still can’t look too closely at your work without finding flaws. But maybe you can glance at the things you’ve made and feel proud of them? You can at least feel proud of your quantity of work. That’s encouraging.

*I don’t know about you, you. “You” in this case is definitely me, though. As far as the disappointing/frustrating part. I don’t know if I actually have “killer” taste or just terrible self-esteem.

Internet Travel Guide: 4/11/2014

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
– Jack Canfield

This week was weird. Were the planets out of alignment, or was the moon in a weird phase, or was it just me? Monday – Wednesday felt like an eternity, but then somehow I woke up this morning 100% sure that today was Thursday. I have no idea what happened to that extra day, but apparently I went to work and gave a passable impression of doing my job? So that was a fun surprise. Yay Friday!

I’ve been brainstorming a small flying familiar for my girl wizard, so today was Bat Day. Turns out bats are really hard. Like, their little faces are pretty cute, but I would probably be a little crazy to try drawing those weird, stretchy, semi-transparent wings on a regular basis. Then again, I have been known to be a little crazy.

Remember The Velveteen Rabbit? The heartwarming tale about a humble toy rabbit, full of only sawdust, who dreamed of becoming Real? I… I didn’t remember it being quite so dark, but somehow… somehow this version feels right. Real, even. Yes… This is the Real Velveteen Rabbit. (Yeah, I’m obsessively in love with The Toast. Yeah, I retweet Toast articles pretty much constantly. WHAT OF IT.)*

Do you know the difference between Chekhov’s Gun and a MacGuffin? Here are 5 common movie terms explained. You’re already discussing movies and TV shows in obsessive, completely unnecessary depth; might as well use authentic vocabulary. (Just me, again?)

I found this recipe for a microwave mug brownie on Pinterest today:

Mug Brownie | Pinterest

Now you are about to have a very unique experience, because I whipped up my very own mug brownie, which is in the microwave RIGHT NOW AS I TYPE THIS. That’s right, folks – I am live-blogging my microwave mug brownie attempt. *the sound of gasps and pearl-clutching is heard*

Okay hold that thought, it has been 1 minute and 40 seconds. FINALLY. Looks pretty good (see photographic evidence below). I’mma put this in my mouth real quick.



The verdict? Definitely has a different texture than a normal brownie, but it’s tasty. I think I’ll keep this on my Pinterest board to satisfy the odd emergency chocolate craving without making an entire batch of brownies… because when you do that, you have to eat that entire batch of brownies. And I do not need to do that. Also, my picture above shows ALL OF THE DIRTY DISHES that resulted from this 3-minute experiment. Mug brownie = definitely worthy of the Layabout’s Guide.

*Note: I’m not saying this story is an account of true events, but I personally own a pet rabbit. Her claws are sharp, and her eyes are full of hate, and I would totally believe that she stole the living soul from a child. Just saying.

Return of #Rebranding

So as of today, I’ve published a post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 30 consecutive posts. Go me!  Rebooting this blog on a schedule was a conscious choice, because I wanted to challenge myself to create content on a schedule. I’d like to do that for a living someday, so it’s reassuring to have a couple of months under my belt. Largely very short posts, especially on busy days, but I tend to have trouble sticking to commitments so that was my focus. I think it’s been very helpful.

That said, posting random little blogs just because they’re scheduled hasn’t been creatively fulfilling, so I’m going to shift my focus a bit towards just doing some sort of work on a regular basis. This may not always be posts on the blog, but I’ll share when possible. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest if you don’t want to miss a thing  🙂

Internet Travel Guide: 4/4/2014

“Pay special attention to anything you try to hide.”
– Gretchen Rubin

We’ve always suspected it was true, but The Toast confirms: Hairstyles are impossible to do. All those Pinterest tutorials are false promises. Always remember: “Hairstyles are just lies your head tells other people.”

In the spirit of The Layabout’s Guide to Life, here are 6 “bad habits” that are actually good for you. Pass the booze & butter, please! I am going to live forever.

This week on Pinterest… Look at this yarn chandelier! Wouldn’t this be super cute to hang above your cozy knitting chair in your knitting corner?! You… You don’t dream of having a dedicated knitting corner with a special (preferably wingbacked) knitting chair? …Just me? Really?

Hanging Around: DIY Yarn Chandelier | Pinterest

DIY Yarn Chandelier | HGTV Blog

Finally, enjoy this Go Pro vid of a baby pelican learning to fly!

Happy weekend, everybody!

Houses and Wizards

We looked at two houses after work today with a Realtor, like Adults. The first one was pretty nice. The second one was like if someone cut a pretty crappy apartment out of the third floor of an apartment building and stuck it on the ground and gave it a really small backyard. Then we went to dinner at a restaurant like Adults in a Relationship which was wonderful.

Then we got home pretty late and then I showered and putzed around and so there will not be a real post tonight.

But here’s a little wizard on an adventure that I drew yesterday:

Lil' Wizard Girl


You know how I was saying the other day that sometimes I doodle things on a whim that I end up loving and wanting to tell their stories? This is one of those, except it’s on actual Art Paper, which is a bonus. I think this is a little wizard who just made it through Wizard School or whatever, and was like “Okay I’m a wizard now! So what do I do?” And then she found out her job as a wizard was to wander around doing magic to things, and maybe she’ll stumble across an Epic Quest for the Fate of the Realm that she can help with. So now she’s doing that.

(This is what I’ve always wondered about Gandalf. He’s basically immortal, right? I’m pretty sure he was around in the time of Isildur. And Sauron was taking a little nap for like thousands of years between his defeat by Isildur and his return in glowy-eye form. So… what was Gandalf doing that whole time? Apart from Bilbo’s journey, of course. Gandalf doesn’t seem to have a home, or a job, or anything like that. Was he literally like, crashing on his friends couches, practicing fireworks, smoking a ton of “pipe-weed” and blowing really good smoke rings? What a life, man. No wonder all the hobbit kids think he’s awesome.)

Edit: I gotta do something with this wizard kid, she is burning a hole in my brain. Possibly a good choice for an ongoing webcomic? I’ve been planning a sci-fi comic for a while but it’s a complete story with an end, so I think I’ve decided it should really be a graphic novel/word-novel because I don’t want to plan something all out beforehand and then release it serially for my first foray into Big-Girl Storytelling. But I could do The Ongoing Adventures of Adorable Little Wizard Girl* and plan out open-ended arcs very generally but make up the details & introduce characters as I go, like they do with TV series.

Stay tuned for a lot of character design, worldbuilding, and plot outlines that may or may not eventually turn into something.

*Working title. 

I Love Webcomics

SickWatch 2014:  Minor overall improvements in Patient Zero; however cough and sore throat intensifying by the day. Infection has been transmitted to husband, hereafter known as Patient One. No end in sight. Send soup and crackers but do not make contact. Subjects likely contagious and certainly cranky.

I don’t remember when/how I discovered webcomics, or which was my First. I know I read through the entire archives of Between Failures at some point early in college, and I remember being devastated around that same time to discover Daisy Owl was no longer updating. A good friend of mine definitely introduced me to Dresden Codak at some point and it’s still one of my favorites.

However I got into webcomics, I’m super glad that I did. I was obsessed with comic strips when I was a kid. I dove into the Sunday paper each week for the two-page color funny pages, and I read the dinky little black-&-white page almost every day. I even read the weird narrative strips like Mark Trail and Prince Valiant, which… why? Why would I do that? They’re terrible. We got all the collection books of Calvin & Hobbes and Foxtrot. My grandparents had dozens of old Peanuts paperbacks from when my dad was a kid, and I always flipped through them when I visited. (I recently inherited those when they cleaned out their Kid Stuff, score!)

But eventually I “outgrew” gag-style newspaper comic strips, and I thought my comic days were over. As far as I knew, my only other options were superhero comics, and I’m not interested in that genre, in general. Discovering a whole world of “grown-up” comics with varied art styles and no spandex was Earth-shattering for me! I don’t have time to read through archives anymore, but here are some of my favorites to keep up with, in no particular order…

Dresden Codak

Dark Science | Dresden Codak

Clip from Dresden Codak by Aaron Diaz

I mentioned this one earlier, and it deserves two mentions because folks, it is amazing. Aaron Diaz paints (digitally) his strips, with incredible attention to detail, and a grasp of anatomy, light, and character design that is absolutely stunning. (He posts about that stuff on his art blog, which is also a great read) Updates are slow coming but absolutely worth the wait. The content of the comic deals with fun sci-fi stuff like Mad Science and transhumanism, set in a silly sort-of-dystopia, where the cities are built on the bones of ancient monsters and no one remembers how to fix the robots. You can read the full Hob storyline, or start the current Dark Science story.


Nimona #1

Clip from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is Noelle Stevenson’s (gingerhaze) latest award-winning project, which is currently appearing serially on her website and will be published by HarperCollins in 2015. The story centers on the villain Ballister Blackheart, and his teen shapeshifter sidekick Nimona. They have great plans to wreak havoc on the kingdom, and particularly on Ballister’s former friend and nemesis (and possible hair model), Goldenloin. But Ballister gets uncomfortable when Nimona turns out to be a little too effective at villainy. Noelle’s art is so incredibly charming, and the characters – both Good Guys and Bad Guys – are endearing and sympathetic. The comic started out lighthearted but it took a super dark turn and I’m on the edge of my seat for the next update!



Clip from Starslip by Kris Straub

Starslip is one of Kris Straub’s comics (he also does chainsawsuit and Broodhollow, which I’ve heard great things about but haven’t read – I do enjoy his chainsawsuit podcast with Mikey Neumann). It has concluded, so you can read the full run either online or in book form. It starts out as a silly adventure story about the curator of a museum spaceship and his less-than-civilized crew, but ends up as a complex time-travel romance. The art is pretty simple, but the story is anything but. If I had to choose a favorite completed comic, it would probably be Starslip.

Hark! A Vagrant

H!AV clip

Clip from Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Hark! A Vagrant is the oddball on this list because it’s not a story comic – just a collection of random (usually literary or historical) jokes drawn in Kate Beaton’s insanely charming style. I am seriously obsessed with the way she draws; such doodle-y, messy lines create such lifelike expressions! If you like what you see be sure to follow her (@beatonna) on Twitter, if only for her adorable family comics around the holidays.

Internet Travel Guide: 3-28-2014

The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.
Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers

Hat tip to my mom for this week’s quote; I love Mister Rogers. She and I went to DFW Fiber Fest to see Stephanie Pearl McPhee (the “Yarn Harlot“) speak. It was great! This lady has a super successful blog, has published 8 books – 2 of which were NYT best-sellers – and is now pretty famous (in very specific circles)… and this is all based on the fact that she is a very good knitter and is also Funny About Yarn. The world is a magical place, people.

Speaking of the world being magical and amazing… In the 1850’s, paleontologists found half of a giant sea turtle’s humerus. It was the only known fossil evidence of this species for 160 years, until an amateur fossil hunter recently found another partial humerus that appeared to be of the same species. Lo and behold, the new piece was not only from the same species of giant turtle… It was from the exact same giant turtle.

I think he looks like a Roscoe.

“Giant” is not an exaggeration, by the way. At least one 10-foot-long turtle existed at some point.

Giant turtles used to exist and sometimes their fossilized bones turn up centuries apart in perfect puzzle-piece segments and life is beautiful.


Overnight Cookie Dough Oats

Overnight Cookie Dough Oats | Plan to Eat

I’ve tried overnight oats before but was always pretty underwhelmed. I think the problem was previous recipes were using all/mostly yogurt and less sweetener, so it turned out really sour. This one uses mostly milk and includes chia seeds to help thicken it up. I didn’t have butter extract, I used white chocolate chips, and added a little cinnamon, so I can’t really verify if the original recipe tastes like cookie dough or not. Mine didn’t (maybe snickerdoodle cookie dough?) but it was delicious all the same!

Stuff I Ate Recently

I’ve been sick as a dog since Saturday, so let’s do a simple Pin round-up, shall we? Here’s some food I made recently.

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Bake:

Easy + Yummy = Perfection

Sausage, Pepper & Potato Bake | Smartter Each Day

As I said, I’ve been sick… really sick. I stayed home from work Monday and Tuesday and basically slept for 48 hours, and I’m just barely feeling human today. So when I say I made this last night, you know it was EASY. And it just so happened to also be super delicious! I didn’t have any sweet potatoes and it tasted great with just white potatoes, bell peppers, onion, and sausage. I bet you could throw in any kind of roasting vegetable you had on hand. Everything is yummy if you douse it in olive oil and roast it. Everything.

No-Bake Mock Reese’s

I die.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars | Rachel Cooks

These really are very similar to Reese’s… They’ve got Graham cracker crumbs in the PB part to give them that grainy Reese’s texture, which is pretty much spot-on. I think these are a little too indulgent for me, though (never thought I’d see the day). They are super, super rich and I don’t even want to think about how many calories are in a little square-inch piece. Don’t think I’ll be making these again. But we will happily polish off the batch we’ve got!

Beans and Cornbread


Beans and Cornbread | The Pioneer Woman Cooks

I got an inexplicable craving for that classic meal of Beans and Cornbread recently so I tried out the beans from this version, and they were exactly what the doctor ordered! If’n y’all want some damn fine pork n’ beans alongside yer cornbread what ya cooked up in that thur skillet, then boy-howdy this right ‘ere is how ya do it. *eye twitch* Sorry, I think the Texan side of me took over there, for a minute. The beans really were perfect; I added a few shakes of spices like chili powder, cumin, and I think some turmeric? Anyways, perfect. I didn’t use her cornbread, because I don’t do Crisco. I did this sourdough cornbread instead:

Sourdough Cornbread | The Pocket Farmer

I baked it in my cast iron skillet (which is the only way to bake cornbread), but the skillet was a little too big, so it came out really really flat. But definitely crispy and delicious! Comfort food success. You’ll hear more about the beans & cornbread once I get around to the big post about that time I went insane and baked all day. Good times.

Note: Why the heck is it impossible to embed Pins in WordPress? I tried doing it in the html editor and everything. There are so many tutorials that claim it’s really easy, but nothing’s working for me. Anybody know why mine’s not working?


I get sick all the time nowadays… Just constantly. Not sure what exactly happened in the past five years or so to devastate my immune system, but I seem to catch everything that’s going around. I developed some sort of sore throat / headache / sinus bullshit over the weekend, and it’s severe enough that I stayed home from work today.

I hate taking sick days. I don’t actually want to be at work, I just feel guilty, and I worry that my boss thinks I’m faking. Paradoxically, on the (very rare) occasions in the past that I have “called in” without being actually sick, I feel totally fine about it. Sometimes you need a Mental Health Day and you return afterwards happier and much more productive. But on days like today – when I’m actually physically ill and probably contagious – I feel like a terrible, lazy person for staying home.

Last night, as it became increasingly apparent that I was not going to be working today, I compiled a mental list of stuff I could get done at home. (That’s my consolation for missing work, usually – I am often insanely productive when left alone in a messy apartment feeling “lazy” because I’m considerate enough to not become the office Typhoid Mary). I was going to exercise, go grocery stopping, start house hunting, sign up for defensive driving, get some solid work done on my Big Creative Project, and finally put away the Christmas decorations (yes, I know it’s March. At least I took the holiday wreath off the door. Last week.). 
Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping until noon, stumbling around just long enough to make coffee, finishing The Fifth Element on my DVR, and then alternating between reading and falling back asleep on the couch for most of the day. I’m still in my PJ’s. I never even showered.
The obvious problem with trying to catch up on a sick day is – of course – that you are sick. 
On the bright side, from the time I started feeling bad (Saturday evening) to now I did start & finish both Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half and Tina Fey’s Bossypants, which were excellent and had been sitting around unread for months. I guess waiting until I feel awful to binge-read as much as possible is better than never reading at all.
Note: The text got stuck in italics halfway through and I don’t know why and I am too sick and pitiful to fix it. Please disregard the apparent gravitas of these words.
Other Note: Oh, apparently it didn’t. It just appears in italics in the post editor even though it is not. I actually want these notes to be italicized and I can’t make that happen either. Am too sick and pitiful to be very annoyed by this, or by the random extra line breaks that seem to be showing up everywhere.
Last Note: The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you get to Amazon through one of those links and then buy anything, I get a small percentage. This doesn’t cost you any more; it’s just a bonus for me.

Internet Travel Guide: 3/21/2014

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.”

~Rabindranath Tagore

I made this Greek Chicken Salad last weekend and it is AMAAAAAAZING. I added some shredded cabbage for crunchiness. Delish.

Kitchen Scraps You Can Regrow with Nothing But Water | Lifehacker

This seems like a fun kitchen experiment on Lifehacker – kitchen scraps that you can regrow in water. You certainly can’t do this indefinitely but it might work okay for double-lettuce or whatever. Or I bet you could put these same things in soil for even better results. As you may remember, my love for free/recycled plants has been previously documented! (Every single plant featured in that post is now long dead, by the way. Oops.)

This week in Reverse Psychology News: simply giving yourself the option of doing nothing could make you more likely to achieve your goals. The idea is that people are more dedicated to their commitments if they feel like they were truly free when they made the decision.

You know what I don’t miss about my first job? CONFERENCE CALLS. Conference calls are the actual worst. They’re like meetings, but even less productive. This video imagines – with uncanny accuracy – what it would be like if conference call annoyances happened IRL.