31 March 2008

Sampler is a GO!

Today I got the thumbs up for my contribution to the May issue of the Sampler, WOOO!

I am contributing 200+ of my Monsters and Aliens wee colouring books so the printer is working overtime and my shoulder is starting to ache from stapling....

I also have to put together promo materials and whip up an ad... but I can do those between rounds of stapling! I also get to send media samples which will hopefully pull me out of relative obscurity. Fingers crossed!

30 March 2008

Another new thing: ACEOs

I wanted to do something creative this evening, but I really didn't feel like sewing -- I have prepared most of the pieces to do a bunch more cthulhu finger puppets -- so I searched around for inspiration and decided to see whether I could pull together some ACEOs based on my monsters and aliens.

ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals" -- like the ATCs (Artists' Trading Cards) that inspired them, ACEOs are 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches -- the same size as trading cards.

It took me a little over an hour to do all four, once I found some watercolours (I used some of Kiddo's since mine seem to be hiding somewhere...)

I am pretty happy with the results, even if I didn't manage to stay inside the lines all the time... and I don't think I would paint another yellow sky.

I will be listing these on etsy in coming days; other ACEOs sell for $5 to $25 or more -- I expect I will start mine on the low side of the scale even though they are originals.

29 March 2008

Earth Hour at our house

Kiddo thought the whole Earth Hour idea was great -- turning off the lights and computers and other stuff for an hour tonight ...


...until we told her she still had to have a bath (by candlelight). She survived.

I found it interesting (a) how many candles I had within reach around the house (my survivalist side, I suppose) and (b) how few of my neighbours had their lights on. I suppose there will be a news story out soon enough with some estimate of how many killowatt-hours were saved.

Great idea(s)!

Quick round up of useful, clever, or just nifty stuff I've seen on the net lately:

Animal Tracks ABC is a set of flashcards featuring an A-Z of animal tracks! If Kiddo were younger, I would definitely order a set (only $10 plus shipping) from etsy user doggiepiggie.

Doodle Tags
turn your child's art into a permanent keepsake -- made from recycled silver! The $95 price is higher than I would normally pay for a pendant but it is a unique and very personalized piece of art. And there is a bonus: you also get a rubber stamp of the image with your purchase. How cool is that?

Pocket Watercolour Tin. You may have already seen this instructable from jpmartineau for a portable watercoulour container made from the ever-popular Altoids tin (there will be riots if the company ever changes their packaging!) plus some polymer clay. The coolest thing about the instructable may be the section on choosing the colours to pack along.

Recycled Magazine Garbage Can
. While this project looks very impressive, there is no way I have the time or patience to do it... and if I did somehow manage to complete it, there is no way I would use the resulting container for garbage! Craftster user lovething does suggest using the technique for other items, though, and I might try that.

28 March 2008

Dear Parents & Mr. Harper

Dear Parents,

You know that $100 cheque -- the Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) -- that Mr. Harper sends every month for kids under 6?

Did you know it counts as taxable income? I didn't.

I got a nasty surprise this week when Revenue Canada sent me a reassessment for my 2006 taxes: "We have adjusted your return to include the Universal Child Care Benefit that was paid to you in the year, as reported on the RC62 slip"

When I pulled my tax file, the RC62 slip was not among the paperwork, so I suspect I filed it in with the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB) paperwork (I haven't looked there yet -- I was too annoyed) -- that's the payment which is adjusted for income for parents of all children under 18 (when I was a kid, my parents called it the "Baby Bonus") -- I presumed, incorrectly it turns out, that they were administered in a similar manner.

So, anyway, if you counted it as income, you are ahead of me; if you didn't, you may be in for the same surprise.... just thought you should know.


Dear Mr. Harper,

While I understand it's better "optics" to send out a nice round $100 then sort it out later, and while I expect it was in the small print somewhere, I still think it's rather misleading to have two similarly named family benefits but only exempt one from taxes.

Since it took your bean-counters nearly a year to contact me with the adjustment, I can only presume that there are many other parents like me who failed to grasp the fact that this was a taxable benefit that should have been included as income. I see, checking the form, that there was in fact a line to report the UCCB; I am fairly certain that this was omitted from the tax software I had used.

At any rate, I think it is sneaky, especially as this "income" may also change the amount of CCTB, GST credit, and other benefits to which we may have been entitled.

One Very Grumpy Parent in Victoria.

Random stuff from all over...

People tell me I am rough on keyboards. I disagree -- I have never worn through keys.


We spent a while last night talking about con-artists, sparked by my revelation that Kiddo thinks it's funny to practice my signature (!!). It reminded me that I was going to share this great article from 1930 published in Modern Mechanix, How Carnival Games Cheat Customers.


I hadn't heard about this case, but apparently Wal*Mart tried to claim it had a trademark on the yellow smiley-face that bounces around its ad campaign and on store signs. What?? Um... no. Thankfully the judge didn't think so, either.


25 March 2008

it's in the details....

I have a new favourite artist-of-the-moment: Diem Chau.

Check out her website... particularly these carved crayons... more on flickr.

24 March 2008

I am Generation X, but there may be hope for me yet.

Even if you didn't know my age, you might have guessed I was Gen X from my obsession with pop culture, my steady stream of sarcasm, and the fact that I am surrounded by shiny gadgets and action figures.

Douglas Coupland gave us our name then moved on to other subjects; demographers refer to us as little more than a blip between the larger boomer and echo populations; but according to Jeff Gordinier, author of X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking, my generation has been working quietly on the sidelines to change things.

At least that's what it sounds like he's saying... I haven't read the book yet -- just a review and interview with the author on the Tyee -- but it's on my wish-list and I hope it is as interesting as Helaine Olen makes it sound.

23 March 2008


Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
What to do with a bag full of mismatched toddler-socks.... hmm...

First I made a batch of Little Sock Monsters (photo below) which are selling on etsy right now -- in fact I sold one within hours of listing it! -- from the cuffs of the socks, but then I had all the foot portions leftover.

All along, I had wanted to make a "socktopus" but I wasn't sure how I was going to make all those short fat legs fit. Eventually, I figured out that I would need to cut each sock end in half, so four socks became 8 legs and one more sock became the head. The face is simple embroidery.

Here's the Little Sock Monsters....


All in all, it's been a pretty productive weekend, craft-wise (and otherwise).

Happy Easter!

20 March 2008

There's something familiar here....

Check out what Hubby noticed about some recent Fisher Price toys versus a very well-known and well-loved Pixar franchise....

And if you liked that, check out the "You thought we wouldn't notice" blog.

Mmm-hmm. We noticed.

19 March 2008

I miss my public library.

It's been more than a month since the brain trust at the Greater Victoria Library Board locked the doors on its staff due to an ongoing labour dispute (and it's a stupid dispute too -- the Board agreed to pay equity in 1992 but has never paid it!) through the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association (GVLRA) -- I phoned Chris Graham this morning and got a recording -- he sounded besieged (good!) and promised he was working on it, but I don't believe that for a minute. This lockout is not saving them much but it's going to earn them all a big black eye, come municipal elections this fall.

Worse, it's costing families --especially those who can't afford to buy books or find other access to research databases or the internet in general. CUPE 410 (the local representing members who are locked out) has this estimate on their website:

The loss of Library service is a direct cost to every Library user. In 2007, the Library loaned 4,069,026 unique items.

If users, instead of being able to borrow these items, had to pay for them at only $10.00 each (less than the cost of many paperbacks!), they would have had to come up with $40,690,260.00 instead of the less than twelve million dollars they actually spent to run the Library system.

The Library system, far from being a drain on the economy, is actually a powerful generator of real wealth - wealth that the Library Board has taken away.

A little arithmetic shows that every day of this lockout is costing Victorians at least $111,480.16, for a total loss of service value so far of $3,455,885.00 as a conservative estimate.

I've personally felt it, because Kiddo is a rampant reader. Luckily, I have access to the books at the UVic Libraries, which include a lot of kids' books (both in the McPherson and Curric libraries) -- but Kiddo just mows through them! I brought home 6 books last night and she read 5 of them before bedtime. I also felt it when we were working through the renos and I wanted to check the most recent building codes -- free at the library, but $95 if I wanted to view them online. Pshaw.

It sucks that the people feeling the most of the impact are the low-income families, the unemployed, and anyone on a fixed-income in the region -- it's not their dispute, but they have lost a critical connection within their community.

I can assure you that anyone who is currently sitting as a municipal politician and also on the GVLRA or the GVLB will not be getting my vote in November -- and that includes all current mayors.


Please, give your heads a collective shake and get back to bargaining. Figure this out and give us back our library!

18 March 2008


I got my goodies from The Sampler today (it took a little over 2 weeks):



The top set is the Mini March Sampler which included a cross-stitch pattern, notecards, a button, a print, a sliver of soap (that smells really good), a beaded dangle, and a ribbon bracelet (not shown because it fell off the table -- doh!) The bottom set was the Mini Sampler Select: Buttons which included the most awesome zombie button set from re-conceived.

I'm glad that I ordered them -- it was fun to get other handmade stuff in the mail -- but I think I would prefer to be a contributor in the future... but what to contribute? It needs to be small but "representative" of my work.... I have a few things in mind, including printing up some Huggitz pictures for buttons -- I might be able to track down a button-maker in town (i.e. borrow or rent one and find the supplies myself) or, I could just order a batch through an etsy seller (there are several) who will work with my artwork. Any thoughts?

16 March 2008

almost good enough to want to lick the computer screen...

I've been surfing around looking for food/cooking/recipe blogs and feeds (for another project) and Oh, My! there are so many great ones out there! Here's a few of the things that caught my eye:

DIY Gourmet offers a recipe for a Green Tea Martini (a.k.a. "kimono remover") -- it's not really a martini as the alcohol is provided by sake but, what the heck, it looks like it has potential.

Equal Opportunity Kitchen
tested (and possibly improved on) Robin Hood's recipe for Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins. They almost make me want to go out and find some overripe bananas.

Eating Out Loud ponders a mix of salad ingredients in Pea, Peanut and Hominy Salad -- it looks okay, but what really piqued my interest here is the presentation in a wine glass.


14 March 2008

Stuff to do when you have (too much?) time and/or cash on your hands

1. Modify an old Mac SE into an "iWipe" toilet paper dispenser.

2. Write some creative non-fiction and send it to The Malahat Review (before August 1, 2008) for a chance at $500. After you pay $35 (or more) to enter (includes subscription - whoopee).

3. Browse Flickr and/or etsy for some craft inspirations then start to think about which project you'd like to start next. Think about the fact that you still needed those bent nose pliers and plan on a trip to the bead store but then remember that last time you went in for some earring findings you came out with a small bag full of $60 worth of stuff. Then you realize that really you don't have anything to make any of these projects so maybe you'll just make a mosaic instead.

Recent Crafty Inspirations...

4. Search for uncommon words -- pretentious, rudderless, poppycock, uber -- to see if you've ever used them in your blog posts.

5. Watch Affluenza (a PBS documentary) in six parts on YouTube. Then allow several hours to manage your reaction.

6. Depending on your reaction to the above link, you might instead want to think of what you'd do if you had a million bucks. Or in today's market, maybe 10 million.

13 March 2008

Birthday Girl

happy birthday girl
Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Yesterday was Kiddo's birthday, and she had a pretty good day. She got clothes, and books (lots of books! Several Eyewitness books and the remaining Ramona books), clothes, a season of Futurama on DVD, gift certificates for La Senza Girl and Build-a-Bear workshop, and a Wii.

I was surprised by how difficult it was (still) to find a Wii in town, but Hubby put his Jedi/Sith powers to work and found one in short order. We set it up yesterday afternoon and Kiddo immediately built a Mii (avatar) then launched bowling (it comes with a sports disc) and got a strike first time!

After dinner last night the rest of us had a try... and lemme tell ya, I will be doing more boxing. Not only was it great fun to punch out an avatar that looked like the lead singer of Nickelback, but it was also good exercise! Watching Kiddo box was something else entirely, but she'll pick up some better form eventually.

She also got plenty of exercise on the weekend at her birthday party for friends at Victoria Gymnastics. I'll leave you with this great shot:


11 March 2008

Really, really bad design.

I often rant about bad web design, or sometimes bad building design, but this tale of bad design made me laugh out loud.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Muni drivers have reported over the last couple of weeks that people have been shutting down the power on their buses by flipping a switch that can be accessed easily through an unlocked panel on the outside of the bus.

When that happens, the drivers can't accelerate, they lose radio contact with dispatchers and the interior lights on the buses go out. The power loss does not affect the brakes.

How stupid is that -- placing the off switch behind an unlocked panel outside the bus? It's just begging to be monkeyed with! Now Muni is on the hook for locking the panels and probably will have to develop a full policy for access to the panels, too. If I were them, I'd be sending a big fat bill to the company that built-in the design flaw.

10 March 2008

Looking South of the 49th Parallel and raising an eyebrow.

Why? Several things... these among them:

Barack Obama has a Twitter feed. His latest note this morning says, "In Columbus,MS & wondering how somebody who's in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person who's in first place." This makes me giggle as well as raise my brow because... well, this time the Democratic race seems to be split by age. Elder Boomers and the party elite still seem to be behind Hilary but that Obama bandwagon is overflowing with GenX and GenY types. Maybe I'm wrong there... if so, could you point me to some stats?

The LAist is concerned about Satan's Ice Cream Truck, or rather, the tune that one particular truck plays. The article provides the audio (albeit very rough and slightly garbled) and it sounds familiar to me... but I have never taken a Music Appreciation class so I can't quite put my finger on it.... Any music scholars in the audience care to take a stab at it?

New reports suggest many Americans are drinking drugs; trace amounts of a cocktail of pharmaceuticals (and likely a few illicit drugs, too) are showing up in water supplies across the states. When I first saw the teaser for the news last night, "What's in your water?" I told the TV it was urine. Unfortunately, I wasn't really far off:

So how do the drugs get into the water? Well, people take the pills, pass out what they don't absorb and flush the toilet. Wastewater is treated before it is discharged and often treated again at drinking water treatment plants but most treatments do not remove all drug residues.


09 March 2008

Amazing things.... and my own creations

Etsy is full of pretty things, useful things, and a few really amazing things, like this Anax Imperator Machina made of silver and gold. It looks like something between a dragonfly and an alien helicopter and I just love it.

My creations aren't anywhere near so intricate.... but I do hope they amuse people just a little.

I decided to try and promote my shop a little more broadly this weekend so I created a Facebook Page for Cheryl's Creative Miscellany. If you are on Facebook and like my creations, please consider becoming a fan.

06 March 2008

this, that and the other...

this: Artist Chris Jordan hurts my brain. He has produced a series called Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait which adds a visual component to statistics of consumption. The one that really got me? "Plastic Bottles, 2007" which depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes. It's enough to make me want to climb on a soapbox and start pointing at people yelling "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?" except that eventually I would get around to pointing at myself and then I would really look crazy....

that: Hubby and I have been getting angsty over unfinished projects again... however he has managed to build some really amazing things online this week, and I finally finished putting together the travel colouring kits that I prototyped years ago (when Kiddo was about 2 or 3 years old!) -- one, featuring drawings of my plush monsters, is now for sale in my etsy shop.


the other: the reality of moving must be setting in (not that we have found a place or listed our place, or really even started looking... ) because I am drawn to articles like Prepare Your Home for a Perfect Showing and Chunks of homebuying wisdom from the hive mind, even as I dream almost every night about moving, househunting, renovating, and everything about each of those things that might go wrong. It is not making for restful nights of sleep.

04 March 2008


Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
We do a lot of evil/maniacal laughing in our house -- even Kiddo has it down pat. However, if you don't regularly let fly with evil laughter -- or, if you've never tried it -- DIY Life has some helpful instructions.

Now that's funny.

oh what a beautiful mooooorning...

Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
(You're welcome for the earworm...)

Yes, it was a lovely day this morning in Victoria... crisp, clear, and rather spring-like. I left the house early enough to get the first bus and grab a fresh coffee downtown between buses. When I got close to campus, I got off the bus a stop early and walked in through the gardens. I was hoping for crocuses (and was not disappointed) but I was pleasantly surprised to see several varieties of rhododendrons in full bloom!

Ooooh. Ahhhh. So pretty.

And if that weren't enough to put me in a good mood, I was mistaken for a student while on my way for coffee today (i.e., I was approached by someone running for the UVSS) -- an undergraduate student at that! Woo! (I love it when I successfully deploy campus camouflage!)

01 March 2008


Originally uploaded by triviaqueen
Kiddo spent the night at her Nana's Friday night so that they could get an early start for the Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown events, leaving Hubby and I with the evening and most of Saturday to ourselves.

Friday night, we got out to see a movie -- we finally got to see Juno which accomplished a rare feat: getting me to leave a theatre feeling happy and restoring a little bit of my faith in humanity (the last film that did that was V for Vendetta, oddly enough).

Saturday morning, we opted for breakfast out. It took us a while to decide on a location, but we settled on Rosie's Diner in Cook Street Village -- Hubby had smoked salmon eggs benedict and I had Nadene's Benny (eggs benedict with grilled mushrooms, onions and swiss cheese).

After breakfast we debated our options and settled on wandering through town. We went to Munro's Books, Lens and Shutter, Cherry Bomb Toys, and "the geexus" -- an area centered around Curious Comics that is laden with geek-friendly shopping.

Amid our (mostly window) shopping, I took a lot of photos -- the weather was almost ideal, very sunny and crisp but not unbearably cold.

Before we left town, we grabbed lunch at "Pig: bbq joint" on View -- home of very yummy pulled pork sandwiches, corn bread, baked beans and other simple but tasty fare.

It really was a lovely day together and a nice chance to reflect on the 12th anniversary of our first date. Dawwww.