Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ocean Rain Featured

My Ocean Rain handmade soap was featured in Inspirewire's blog today -- Thanks Bonnie!

Geoff went to IKEA over in Fort Lauderdale yesterday and bought himself a whole living room full of furniture for about $600. It's for his apartment, which he moves into on the 1st. Last night we all gathered around in the living room while he unpacked the contents of one box and got out all his tools. We called it "The Boring Family Spends Friday Night Watching Their Son Assemble a Night Stand." :D

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half is excruciatingly funny!

My son Geoffrey is moving into his own apartment on June 1st. The dorms and meal plans are very, very expensive and the kids hate the food. This way the rent is actually cheaper and he can cook real, healthier food for himself. Almost 20 and grown up much too fast. Because he's taking his bed with him, his room will be largely empty and any illusion we've maintained that he still lives here will be gone.

He's been in that room since he was a newborn. I can't believe it. Of course he will still come home for dinner a couple times a week or maybe to do laundry, but it's a big change. I think it must be harder for parents, we have nothing exciting happening like the kids do when they get a first place of their own. Mostly I will just miss seeing him around and talking, the everyday conversations that parents enjoy so much.

This weekend Vicky is coming home for the holiday. She's bringing her boyfriend with her. He's such a nice kid, and we're thrilled that she feels like sharing him with us. She's still in Tampa at USF until the end of first summer session, then we get to have her home until fall.

Last weekend my kids went with a small tribe of their friends to a 3 day "Purple Mad Hatters Ball," a music festival in Live Oak, which is up toward the North Central part of Florida. They camped right along the Suwannee River, a gorgeous location loaded with old live oaks and dripping Spanish Moss. I made a little album here with some photos.

I'm still working on my new little character for the Kids 4. She makes a cute little Indian girl, I think. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Silicone Mold

Well, I splurged on this new 12 bar Silicone Mold, which arrived yesterday. One of the things that make soapmakers crazy is having to line our molds so we can get the soap out. There are molds that claim you don't have to line them, but I've never found them as easy to use as they are supposed to be. So this bright bubblegum pink mold was filled to the brim today with Ambra Cioccolata soap.

I had to re-size my regular batch so that it fit into this mold exactly. It was a bit tense because it looked like I would have too much soap for the mold size, but it filled it perfectly. So yay so far!

The real excitemen will be turning it out of the mold tomorrow and having it just plop out without any sticking or coaxing. The soapmaker's dream. There are little "cut marks" on the bottom, which will be on top, as guidelines for cutting into bars. I am truly soap-cutting impaired, but maybe the marks will help.

Vicky is going back to Tampa on Saturday to attend the first summer school session. I'm always sad when she has to leave again. At least we will have her here the rest of the summer starting in late June.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Seams and Skin Textures

One of the joys (not) of making realistic skin textures is making them seamless. The "skin" wraps around the 3D body and joins up the center of the head and back, under the neck, in a crooked line down the inside of the legs, where arms meet shoulders, and where the tops and bottoms of toes and fingers join.

You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get rid of all those seams so that when someone renders an image, there are no hard lines where one side of the body meets the other. You can see what I mean below. Notice the faint line in the skin texture that the arrow points to -- in Poser character creation, that's a no-go.

You can't really ignore even little seams like that. People pay good money for these textures and if they find a seam, even if it's a seam in between the toes that no one could possibly see unless they rendered it at extreme magnification, they're going to kvetch about it.

So that's how I spent my day today, working on seams. It takes me about as long to get rid of the seams as it does to make the actual skin texture. I'm not kidding. It's not fun, but it has to be done in order to finish it up. I do have an awesome program called Bodypaint 3D that makes touching up seams a lot easier, but it's not for gross problems like a dark neck meeting a paler head texture. Stuff has to blend together better than that for Bodypaint to work optimally.

So yeah, tomorrow I'll be back at it, hours of fixing in Photoshop then rendering in Poser, finding the seam, trying again, etc. until it's all smooth and seamless. It's lucky that I'm a good obsessive-compulsive and have a lot of patience. I'm just saying.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Josie as a Little Mermaid

I bought the cutest little Merbabies outfit and now my Josie for K4 gets to be a mermaid. :D

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Both my DH and I are crazy about the trio of books by the late Stieg Larsson: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I was pleasantly shocked Friday to see that the first book had been made into a movie in Sweden, and it was playing at our local theater.

I was, frankly, almost afraid to go to see the movie. I've been disappointed many times with casting and interpretations of much-loved books. But this was fantastic! It's all in Swedish with English subtitles, 2-1/2 hours long and the cast is perfect, especially the young woman who plays the unconventional, sullen, violent, brilliant and spiky heroine, Lisbeth Salander. She is amazing!

I've found that all three books have been made into movies and they are on DVD, but quite expensive. Also they are DVD Region 2, and the US is Region 1, so they probably wouldn't work on our DVD player. We were lucky enough to get a copy of the last book from a friend who ordered it sent from England. Now we want to see all of the movies!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Another Cutie

I'm still working on Jamika's skin texture. I think she looks kind of like a young Rihanna here. :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

First Water Lily of Spring

We have a big water lily pond in the back yard, it's where I stage most of my product photos. Yesterday the first water lily of the year appeared. It's such a beautiful pale, pale yellow with an intense yellow center. I couldn't resist taking a photo of it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Jacarandas in Bloom

One of the most glorious sights down here in spring is the blooming of Jacaranda trees. The bare branches are all covered with vivid purple flowers. It puts a smile on my face just to see them, just like when I see a Kingfisher bird sitting on a telephone wire. Sure signs of spring in South Florida.

My son, Geoffrey, is home from college for the summer now. It is so good to have him home again. I can't believe he will be going back as a sophomore in the fall. Vicky is going back as a junior in the fall. We are driving up to Tampa next week to bring her and all of her stuff home for a week, then she goes back up to attend some summer classes.

Tonight I made the most delicious pork tenderloin with lots of garlic, lemon and rosemary from my garden. I paired it with oven roasted potatoes, also with garlic and rosemary. Absolutely killer. I swear I am a much better cook since I started watching Food Network. I could always cook basic meals and a few specialties, but watching other people make gourmet food opens your mind to the possibilities.

I've also gained an appreciation for esoteric kitchen tools! I used to see little ramekins, offset spatulas, bundt cake pans and stuff like that and think that it looked cool, but couldn't bring myself to see how I could use it. Now I have all those and more. My next kitchen toy is going to be a springform pan.