Still Printing

I’ve recovered fairly well from my sprained ankle and went back to work, and kept printing.

Once I turned on the brim option, I managed to get a unicorn that turned out pretty well. He does have a bit of a beard, but you can’t have everything right? It makes him look distinguished I think. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

IMG_5901.JPG

Somehow, designing my earring chest files in the middle of the night was not the best way to ensure accuracy. I thought I had run the numbers correctly for all of my shelves on the large piece to be the same size. I was wrong.

I printed the drawer first, and then the insert to go inside of it. It wasn’t quite the right fit, and I hadn’t thought to make the legs of the insert short enough to be practical.

IMG_5871

I edited the insert a little–smaller dimensions over all, and then shortening the legs–and, success!

IMG_5880

Now, I just had to print the shelves to hold the drawers (and print some more drawers and inserts), and  I’d be all set. A relatively complicated, multi piece 3D printed object. I was excited about this milestone.

The truth is, I wasn’t quite there yet.

Somehow, I had ended up with 3 shelves that fit my existing drawer design, and one shelf that was just too short. Rather than print a whole cabinet for it, I was going to content myself for the time being with printing one more drawer that would fit the smaller height on the last shelf, and call it a day.

I didn’t quite manage the perfection I was hoping for, but I’d call this a decent success for my first attempt at something this complicated.

IMG_5913

The mixed success did slow me down a little in my design ambitions, but I’ve still been having lots of fun printing. This napkin holder I printed (designed by TanyaAkinora) turned out beautifully (slow down your bottom layer speed to a crawl for something like this).

IMG_5907.JPG

After nearly 6 weeks of writer’s block, where I only managed a few thousand words, last weekend I managed 5K in a night and I feel like I may be over my block.

I’ve also started going for walks. The weather is gorgeous–there’s turtles, birds, and squirrels out in abundance. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul.

IMG_6133.JPG

Advertisements

Spring is Coming

As mild as this winter has been around here, I have to admit, I’m ready for spring. Naked trees and dead grass just never quite feels right to me.

I haven’t updated here in a while, but that’s mostly because I’ve been busy making things.

IMG_5703

I will admit, that the original story I’m working on hasn’t quite been receiving the love that it should. I think I’m going to try writing some short stories set in the same world to help me flesh out the world my characters are playing in. I absolutely love the world I’m exploring there, I just haven’t discovered everything there is to know yet.

My kitchen has been missing me the last few weeks. After a disastrously bad butternut squash soup, I’ve been a little afraid to venture forth into experimental cooking again. I’m going to admit it: I improvised and it went badly. I was out of the chicken stock that the recipe called for, so I substituted beef broth. A normal butternut squash soup made with chicken broth has a lovely, appealing orange color. Butternut squash soup made with beef broth tends to look like something I’m not sure I’d even feed to my cat. And in my attempts to doctor it up and make it more appealing, I added cayenne. Not just a little cayenne, or a moderate amount of cayenne, but so much that in the few spoonfuls of soup I attempted to power through and eat required several glasses of water and still left my mouth burning. If anyone wants to recommend another butternut squash soup recipe, I’ll give it another try. I’ve had it out at restaurants and thought it was fantastic, but my own missteps have made me a little wary.

While I haven’t been cooking lately, I did go back and add an epilogue onto my first Dramione story and make a lot of progress on other stories in my queue. The other thing I’ve been doing is getting back into 3D printing. I can take apart and reassemble a 3D printer like it’s nobody’s business, but I haven’t spent a whole lot of time developing my CAD skills.

To easy myself back into the printing process, I scoured YouMagine.com and Thingiverse for some designs that looked fun. I have to tell you, I’m going to have the BEST Christmas ornaments next year. I found a lot of useful tools like an SD card organizer, and some slightly less than useful tools like the tape dispenser I printed. In all fairness, the dispenser printed beautifully, and fits great with a roll of tape. The edge just isn’t quite sharp enough for cutting tape. However, I like it so much, I’m half-tempted to put some sort of blade on the edge and keep it on my desk.

One of the things I find most fascinating to print are the articulated models that print as a single piece but actually have moving parts.  There’s a heart-shaped box that opens up that you can see in the picture up top, and an elephant whose legs and head all move. The elephant was really amazing–it needed absolutely no clean up and moved fine as soon as I’d pried it off the glass bed. If you want to see the little fellow in action, here’s a short video clip of me moving the legs and head. I’ve got a whole bunch more things I want to print this week, so stay tuned.

I also did finally brave the CAD world. My results aren’t exactly going to win me any design prizes, but it’s a start. I started playing around with TinkerCAD, which is so far the most intuitive of the free CAD software I found. I used it to make a flat bottomed butterfly.

IMG_5696

You could use the butterfly by itself–maybe put a magnet or hairpin on the back of it if you wanted to do something useful with it. In an effort to find something to do with my butterfly, I remixed a basic business card holder that was under the Creative Commons license and used MeshMixer to put my butterfly on the front of the business card holder and voila! A new thing was born and available for download.

IMG_5707

I’m going to try braving some of the other CAD programs and see what I come up with. Wish me luck!

Bananas Over Bananas

I’ve never really liked bananas. It sounds crazy. After all, nature designed bananas to be a great snack–easily portable, they come with their own biodegradable wrapping, inexpensive, and a good source of potassium. I should be totally ape over bananas. Sorry, I couldn’t resist–feel free to leave now if necessary, I won’t blame you.

Oh? You’re still here. Cool.

I first learned to like bananas in Taiwan. At the time, I discovered my then-roommate is an amazing baker (for the record, I can’t bring to mind anything that she wasn’t excellent at, and she is a tremendously positive and kind-hearted person as well). I can cook fine, no problem. Meat, vegetable-like roots and fungus, and even sauces, I’m good to go. I’ve even started dabbling in soup. But I really do best with things that stay on the stove top and that I can keep an eye on. As much as I love eating sweets, baking has never been my forte. However, my roommate? She was amazing at it. She started a baking club at the school she was teaching at as a way for her advanced students to get more practice at conversational English and learn a bit more about American culture than what Hollywood shows the world. She made all sorts of things that I hadn’t really exposed myself to before, or if I had, it’d been when I was young and determined I didn’t like those things. What sort of dishes? Apple pie. Banana bread. Almond bars. I could go on.

I was absolutely bowled over by the banana bread she brought home and decided that maybe bananas weren’t so bad after all, at least in bread form.

Our apartment in Yilan didn’t have an oven, which wasn’t exactly uncommon. When I moved to Douliu a year later and lived on my own, I decided to buy a small oven (probably more akin to a toaster oven). It wasn’t a great piece of machinery, and honestly, I probably got what I paid for. A fair amount of heat escaped, nothing really cooked evenly, and it just wasn’t great. But it sufficed for most of my needs. I think my most frequent use for it was to make my own version of “French Onion soup”. The broth consisted of vegetarian oyster mushroom sauce, soy sauce, and Mirin. Probably the only part of it that resembled french onion soup was the onions, bread, and the cheese. My oven did succeed in melting cheese on top of my soup, so I was pleased enough. I do vaguely recall other attempts at using it–there was an apple pie who’s graham cracker (Digestives) crust fell to pieces and cookies that came out half burnt and half mostly raw. My coworkers were nice enough to help me eat the apple pie and cookies all the same, despite the fact that a lot of it didn’t look real tasty.

My attempt at making banana bread myself went pretty poorly. I had way too much batter for the oven or for the size dish I had an I didn’t realize it. So most of it didn’t cook, even left in for longer or put back in again a second time. I’m sure none of that was a brilliant idea. I did try some of the outside bits that did seem to cook and it was okay actually, though not as good as my former roommate’s. I should give her recipe a try again now that I’m back home and have a trustworthy oven–the heat only escapes when I get impatient and open it to check on whatever is in there.

Tonight though, I didn’t decide to make banana bread. Maybe I would have had more luck. I decided I’d try to be a bit healthier and make baked banana chips. I’ve mentioned before my weight loss yo-yoing–getting down about 20 pounds and gaining it all back. At the moment I’m trying to look for sustainable practices for keeping myself healthier and accountable. It’s a slow process, I’m working on it. Making banana chips instead of sugary banana bread was an attempt at it.

Back to the banana chips: I looked at half a dozen recipes that all said about the same thing–slice your banana thin, spread the pieces on parchment paper with a little lemon juice and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour or two as necessary, you can’t go wrong. Well, I’m beginning to think I went wrong somewhere.

I peeled my banana and sliced the pieces maybe a quarter of an inch thick and spread them over my parchment paper and heated the oven to 200. I had a hard time deciding how I was going to season them. The truth is, I’m not a big fan of the flavor of bananas alone. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more than a bite or two of one. So I separated my banana pieces into sections to experiment.

Group 1: banana and a little lemon juice

Group 2: banana, lemon juice, garlic

Group 3: banana, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne

Group 4: banana, lemon juice, garlic, and just a tiny bit of olive oil to see what would happen

When my tray of banana pieces had been in the oven for about 40 minutes, I checked on them to turn them over. They were slimy. They were quite slimy. And I thought they smelled pretty gross. I flipped them all over and reset the kitchen timer to total 2 hours instead of one.

I checked them again at an hour and forty minutes. They were still kind of slimy and I still wasn’t digging the smell. It was a this point that I decided I might as well open up WordPress and blog about the experience. Maybe one of you has some advice for me, or maybe you’ll get a laugh out of imagining my face smelling the slimy grossness that was in my oven. It looks something like this.  Sorry, I did post the picture, but  then a net-dragon ate it. They’re known for eating horrendous pictures so that they will hopefully never bee seen again.

Annoyed and wishing I would have just made roasted chickpeas, I flipped them again and turned the heat up to 250 to let them finish their last 20 minutes for a cumulative 2 hours in the oven. As much as I love roasted chickpeas, I don’t like how they taste eaten cold the next morning, so they’re not a great snack for me to bring to work. I was hoping banana chips might be.

They’ve come out of the oven now and they’re rather tacky. I’m thinking I might have left the slices too thick. Maybe I should have gone with an 1/8 of an inch slices. I haven’t taste tested them yet.

Image

Okay, I’ve tasted them now. They dried a bit, but definitely are not remotely crisp or crunchy. I’m guessing I should have sliced them thinner. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to like the taste of hot, mushy banana. I tried a couple of the different flavor combinations and just found the banana too overwhelming.

I suppose I shall have to try another experiment another day. For now, I’ll post this and get back to working on my next chapter for Law and Marriage. I have to say, for a ship I haven’t really explored much before now, I’m really enjoying it. I did manage to update it mid-February, after being unable to update since the end of December. I’m hoping to get another update in this week or this weekend. Cooking features heavily in the next chapter.

I’ve fallen far, far behind in Thain in Vain‘s flash fiction prompts. I’m hoping to get everything back in balance again. In the meantime, I ran across this on Facebook and it’s awesome. It’s 20 two-sentence horror stories. It’s some of best micro-fiction I’ve come across–definitely got chills reading some of them. I’m trying not to think about them now, so close to going to sleep, so read those at your own risk.

Well, it’s time to write, so TTFN!

(Please be sure to read that last bit in Tigger’s voice, because that’s totally what I imagined when I wrote it.)

Confession

Happy Friday, everybody. Or, Saturday. I probably won’t post this until tomorrow.

I took the plunge and did something I’ve been putting off since I hit my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo goal on November 29th. I reopened my story for editing. This might not sound like a big deal–I got the words on paper, I did the hard part, right? It’s just time to go back and clean it up a bit, yeah?

Well, I have a confession to make. It’s probably going to make me sound like a bad writer. The truth is, maybe I am.

I’ve never seriously edited a story before.

I’ve sent out 1.3 million words’ worth of stories into the internet to hopefully entertain and delight fantasy fans, and I’ve never seriously edited them. Most of those stories were fan fiction. I had strong characters as my starting points and I put them in a situation and just let the characters dictate what their natural responses would be to the situation. The stories just kind of evolved, and I’d post a chapter at a time, as they came to me–there were a couple of stories that were 8 years, start to finish, as I pretty much took a break from fan fiction throughout all of college and a couple of years after and only returned to it intermittently until recently. There are pros and cons to this I suppose. Pro? I had to stick with what I’d written because it was already out there and I couldn’t change my mind about a plot point after the fact. Con? I couldn’t change my mind about a plot point because it was already out there.

Maybe it’s just a decade of habit now, but when I think about my stories, I rarely ever give much consideration to major changes. Pretty much everything I’ve posted on FanFiction.net could use going over with a fine tooth comb–there are typos that need to be fixed that embarrass me. But I’ve never really thought about dismantling the stories and changing any major facet about them. The characters told me what felt right for them and the story worked. If I didn’t know what the characters needed or I wasn’t sure where it was supposed to go…then my reviewers waited a long time between chapters.

Participating in NaNoWriMo this year and really pushing myself for the first time in writing an original story (as original as a fairytale gets), I discovered some of the problems with my method of writing. If you have characters you know like the back of your hand, characters you feel like you know as well as anyone in the real world, it’s possible to feel pretty certain that you’ve chosen a natural response for them in a situation. But what about when you don’t really know who your characters are yet? When their backstories are still largely unformed?

For example, part way through my NaNoWriMo story The Making of a Beast, I decided that the main character’s friend and confidante wasn’t a friend who he’d grown up with–it was his father’s friend, who had watched him grow up. I’m fairly certain he’s going to abandon the main character at some point, but I’m still not sure who he is and what the reason for it might be. So I just skipped over that bit.

That’s right–I skipped over chunks of the story during NaNoWriMo, which is something I couldn’t do when I was writing fan fiction. Again, you’ve got the pros and cons there–by being able to skip over it in this case I was able to keep writing, and moving on, and I know I can go back and fix it when I’ve made decisions. It’s been over a month and I haven’t wanted to think about it–I haven’t made those decisions, and I don’t have any better idea about who my characters are. When I write my fics, if I can’t decide on something or I’m not sure about it, it delays the whole process, because I can’t go back. B has to follow A and C has to follow B or the whole alphabet will hate me–though occasionally there’s a good excuse for a flashback and things can be jumbled up a bit.

Here I am now, more than halfway through January, and the only headway I’ve made is to promise myself that I will go back to this story, and that I will do NaNoWriMo again. I have 50,000+ words of unedited something with all these decisions still waiting to be made and these gaping holes in the story as I jump from one part of it to another. Thinking about it, I think I was trying to rush things. I predict all said and done this is going to be a roughly 200,000 word story. I’ve written stories over 150K before (and my current fan fic is nearly at that mark), but it’s never something like this.

I used to always find I had the best chance of editing something if I printed it out and took a pen to it–it’s easy to gloss over things on the computer. I opened my story tonight for the first time since November and started nipping and tucking at the prologue, changing a word here or there. Then I decided to print it. Surely I can do it all if I just take it a piece at a time. And then I found myself wondering what I was doing, trying to edit it piecemeal. Shouldn’t I read the whole thing again and then go to work on the pieces?

Honestly? I haven’t the foggiest. I’m leaning towards that, so that I have a better idea of what I’ve already written. I told myself from the beginning that sections of what I’ve written were probably going to have to go, but I find myself reluctant to part with any of it–something I remember feeling in the creative writing classes and projects I did a lifetime ago.

How do you feel about the editing process? Does it make you cringe? Or is there satisfaction in purging your story, making it better, getting the perfect fit for it? The perfect fit really does make a difference in most things in life. I could probably wax philosophical on that for a bit, but I think it’s time to call it a night. If I manage to hit “publish post” in the next 30 seconds, it’ll still be Friday.

Too late. Saturday is here. Oh well. It’s still Friday somewhere, isn’t it? Time to curl up and sleep.

Image
And before I forget, here are a few things you can expect to hear from me about in the next couple of weeks:

Stay tuned!

NaNoWriMo: Win! (A Reflection on Wins and Losses This Year)

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am. I really needed this win. I had a slew of goals last January for things I wanted to accomplish this year: I wanted to get into the habit of making a Vlog and updating it regularly, I wanted to blog regularly, teach myself how to make new things, get into better shape, and write.

Image

I have had a few victories this year. For example, I have started Vlogging for the first time in my life, but I haven’t been updating my YouTube channel, ErinMakesStuff, very regularly. I also created this blog, and there have been some updates, but not as many as there could have been.

I did make some progress in the world of fan fiction. I finally finished a 100,000 word story I started 8 years ago about Neville Longbottom, wrote a short story I’m rather proud of about how Peter Pettigrew became the Potters’ secret keeper and betrayed them.

I made a hat in January, a really cool handbag this spring, and learned a bit more about 3D printing, even venturing a couple of prints on my own. But you know what? I haven’t touched my crocheting in probably six months now. I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked up my cross-stitch. And I’m disappointed by my lack of patience in trying to teach myself how to use Zbrush for 3D printing.

I lost numerous inches from my waist and hips. I got stronger and faster. I dropped a couple of minutes from my rather terrible best 1 mile time, and managed to improve my military press to 70 pounds and deadlift to 135 at my best (my squats are still rather pathetic). I cut down significantly on my sugar content (for a time). It wasn’t until I tried to cut out sugar and found myself with carb flu that I realized how much of it I was consuming.

Well, it’s pretty much all come back. My goal was a healthier me and it still is; I’m just not there yet. I have a good understanding now of what it takes for me to be healthy, and the knowledge that I can make progress. I also know in the past year and a half, I’ve yo-yoed 40 pounds total and ended up about where I started. At my best, I was down 20 pounds. It definitely feels bitter to be relosing the same weight, and knowing how much farther I’d be if I exercised better self-control.

I tried to commit myself to a 4 week, 8 session self-defense class in October, saying, “This is it, this is where I get back on track.” I only made it to the first 4 sessions.

I’ve been a temp worker at my current place of employment for 14 months. I like it there, but I’m still waiting for a permanent position to open up. I know I’ve learned a lot, but it’s discouraging sometimes to have worked full-time for so long and not be considered permanent.

And while I’ve written quite a lot of fan fiction this year, up until November snuck up on me, I hadn’t spent any time this year writing original fiction.

So, by the time I started seeing people talking about NaNoWriMo, I really needed a win. And I was so on my game for the first to weeks. Every day except for one, I was on track to finish on time. I was sitting pretty happily at Day 15.

And then I didn’t write, for most of a week. And I just couldn’t catch up. I disliked my story. I felt frustrated at the inconsistencies I knew where there because I didn’t have time to go back and fix them, not if I was going to catch up. And I couldn’t seem to make decisions about how certain things in the story were supposed to go (as if I couldn’t fix it later). Last weekend, on the 23rd and 24th, I wrote about 10,000 words. It still wasn’t enough to catch me up, not nearly. Yesterday, with the day off for Thanksgiving, and not being responsible for much cooking, I managed to write 5000 words. I was on track for the first time since November 15th. It felt good. Today, I managed to knock out the last 3000 words. And here I am. I needed this win. I’m glad I made it. I couldn’t have done it without all the support and encouragement from my boyfriend–he really was amazing, all the times I thought I couldn’t do it, knowing when to tell me it was okay if the words just weren’t coming that night, and reminding me that I could do this.

Here’s my current NaNo stats if you want to see what my progress looked like:
Image

As you can see, I was going slow and steady up until the midpoint, and then yeah.

Now that I’ve met my goal, I’ve got a few things in mind. I do want to go back and fix this story, and finish writing it. It’s far from complete. I’m guessing it will be a 200,000 word story if I had to hazard a guess, though I’m not sure I’ve written that much. Most of my novel length fan fictions have been around 100,000 words, some of them 136,000. I may need to not look at this story for at least a week though. The story and I need some time apart–the title is still my favorite part.

I’m still kind of boggled by the sheer number of words I’ve written this month. The tally stands:

  • 50327 words for NaNoWriMo
  • 22437 words for Law and Marriage, my Harry Potter fan fiction
  • 4093 words on this blog

Grand total? I’ve written 76,857 words in the past 29 days. I feel pretty good about that. I wanted to keep up with my fan fiction since it was gaining steam while writing my NaNoWrIMo novel. I also wanted to keep writing it because it was a good release when I felt like my novel wasn’t going anywhere. I’m proud of some of my fan fiction. And I certainly feel like my current story is more polished than my novel is at this point. That being said, I was able to keep up with it for the first 2 weeks and a bit–my last update was November 18th, and I wrote like the wind on the 17th and 18th to make that happen. I haven’t written on it since, but I promise, it’s on the list.

My next step is basically to follow up with pretty much everything. Without a looming deadline now, I can keep working on my fan fic again, and let it bring a little joy into my creative process. I’ll be able to go back and do some serious revision on my novel and see if it’s worth salvaging. And reading.

I haven’t allowed myself to really spend any time in November reading any novels, because, really, I don’t just read one novel. I’ll read the series. I haven’t seen Catching Fire yet for that reason–I wanted to reread the series first. I didn’t get around to it before November (the books are so emotionally draining), and once November hit, there just wasn’t time. I have so many books I want to read at the moment. I’ve also decided that now that I don’t have a midnight deadline of how many words I need every day, I’ve lost my excuse to stop working out. Even if I don’t make it to the gym, I’m bringing the dumbbells out into the living room, where they will be looking at me if I get off the couch without paying them a visit.

So, here’s to 2013, it’s not over yet, and the fight to improve myself and create awesome things still going.

Is anyone planning on making any cool crafts for Christmas?

NaNoWriMo, Day 23 Check-In

Hey, folks,

This is just a quick check-in about how my NaNoWriMo is going. The good news is I’ve written 54,534 words this month (not counting blogposts). The bad news is only 33,510 of those words have been on my NaNoWriMo project. You might say, 33k is a lot! That’s great. Well, keep in mind that it’s already November 23 (the Day of the Doctor!). That means I’m about 6,000 words behind still, and that’s after having written 4000 words today before and after the Day of the Doctor aired–I did not write while I was watching it.

I’m pretty pleased with the 4000 I’ve written today, but the fact is, this has not been a good week for writing. I was so thrilled to reach the halfway point this month and be exactly on target, which is where I was during my last blog post. That was followed up with me writing absolutely nothing on my NaNoWriMo story for the next three days. I was off sick from work one day and didn’t even write anything that day–I was just too miserable. I did write several thousand words that Sunday, but only on my fan fiction. Still, I made my Monday update deadline, despite not having worked on my fan fic since the previous week. I shoot for between 5000 and 10,000 words per chapter on that story.

I managed to get back into writing again on the 19th, and 20th. The 21st was a rather exhausting and late day at work, and not much happened.

So I’ve had a fairly off-kilter week. It’s put me behind. I’m doing my best to catch up. I’m still determined to get through my 50,000 words for this story this month. I know I can write a fan fic–I enjoy writing fan fic–I want to know I can write a novel. That I can set a goal and stick to it.

On the fan fiction front, the results came back on the blog award I was nominated for–I received second place. Thank you, to anyone who voted, or anyone who read the story and enjoyed it.

Anyway, I still have terribly mixed feelings about my story, which isn’t really helping the creative process. On the days when I desperately want someone to read it and give me feedback, it’s almost easy to write. On the days when I just want to hide it under a mattress and never let it see the light of day….well those are the days when the writing just doesn’t seem to happen.

I’ve still got about 40 minutes ’til midnight, and no time I have to get up in the morning. I’m hoping to get another 500-1000 words tonight, and hopefully enough words tomorrow to be nearly caught up. If at all possible…I still need to write most of a chapter for my fan fiction tomorrow or I won’t make my Monday night update goal.

How do you stay focused when you’re not sure you like your story anymore? What do you do when your story begins to look far different than what you were anticipating? I know this story will be far from complete at 50,000 words–there’s simply too much story to tell. But 50,000 and a good start is my goal.

‘Til the next timey-whimey.

P.S. Do you think if time went Wibbly-Wobbly I might have a bit more of it to finish my story?

(Please forgive the lame Doctor jokes. Accept this picture of my kitten as my apology.)

Image