Writing

I See My Many Colors Writing Through

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Yup, I enjoy handwriting in different colors. Of course, that’s only if it’s independent work, not assigned. And the first project I experimented with is my novel-in-progress.

I’ve discovered that writing my novel-in-progress in different colors actually makes a difference. It’s easier to distinguish chapters and the events that occur in them.

I also use pens instead of pencils. It keeps me from stopping to erase, dealing with graphite smudges, and fading. I do use whiteout when I make mistakes, though.

I have a pack of pens in various colors from blue to pink to brown. Some are bold, some sparkle, and some shine like metal. It’s really interesting. And no, the shining and sparkling do not distract me.

The only rule for myself is not to use light colors, such as yellow. Like everyone, I was taught this as a child. It’s hard to read, obviously. Need I say more?

I also have to deal with the running out of ink. Unfortunately, the colored pens I have run out quickly. That doesn’t stop me from keeping the multi-colored handwriting, though.

I discovered some colored pens work better than others. Of course, everybody differs. Some hold certain pens better than others. Some prefer pencils over pens. Many people favor typing over handwriting and all black or blue ink instead of different colors.

I do think writing in different colors, either by typing or by hand, is worth trying. I am glad I discovered this method worked for me. It has helped me a lot.

 

short fiction

It’s a Wonderful Week: A Flash Fiction Piece

I wish an alarm would notify me whenever I had to complete a task from my to-do list. I get overwhelmed by all the things I have to do, especially when it’s a lot.

            In about a week, I am moving out to college. It’ll be about three hours north. I’ve already met my roommate. Her name is Sienna. She comes from California.

            I have to buy my supplies, for both my dorm and classes. I also have to pack. My mom suggests two weeks’ worth of clothes. Then she would send me warmer clothing as the weather cooled down.

            I am sitting in my room right now, looking at my high school graduation pictures as well as my eighteenth birthday photos from March. I am going to miss my high school friends and their nickname for me in stage crew “Glitters” rather than my real name, Amanda.

            Freshman orientation will happen for the first three days. Then classes will begin. I’ve heard rumors about college and how scary it might seem, especially for first-years.

            My older brother, Winston, had commuted. He graduated last year, when I completed the eleventh grade. Despite his time living at home and attending college, he wouldn’t talk to me a lot about the experience.

            I close Facebook and turn off my computer. My friend, Lola, also living at home for college, is going to hang out with me in about an hour. I will enjoy the last week here in Connecticut until I bid goodbye to my house.

TV show

Kim Possible: “Call Me, Beep Me, and Analyze Me”

“So not the drama,” says Kim Possible… a lot.

And I agree. This show on Disney Channel was one of my favorites as a child—well, only when I was in fifth grade. I heard about it from a girl at camp the summer before. I checked it out and loved it.

Kim was a great character. She served as a secret agent while balancing her normal teenage life. I also found her wardrobe interesting. She often wore tops that no real school would allow. Well, it’s a cartoon.

Anyway, the other characters were memorable, as well. There was Ron Stoppable. I liked when he was the Middleton Mad dog in one episode. I also appreciated how he was (for the most part) just friends with Kim. You don’t often see girls being just friends with guys on TV or in movies, except if the boy is the main character (i.e. Danny Phantom). Ron may have become Kim’s love interest later, though. I’m not sure, entirely.

And I was surprised to discover that Wade is only 10 years old in the show. What? I always thought he was Kim’s age, maybe a year or two younger. But dang—he looks really old for a ten-year-old. He’s also very mature for that age.

Rufus the naked mole-rat was probably the most memorable of the series. He showed humor, a little speech (like when he got excited over banana cream), and had his own rap song, with his owner, Ron. So cute.

Kim’s family doesn’t often get as much screen time as Kim, Ron, Rufus, and Wade. But whatever. I do admire how Kim’s mom looks like an older version of Kim and her dad resembles Kim’s brothers, Jim and Tim.

Draken and Shego were great characters, too. I love when Draken fell in love with that woman, Amy in one episode. Shego even acted immaturely and teased him. Perhaps, this was my favorite episode.

The “Kim Possible” theme song has a great, upbeat tune. It’s perfect for the show’s premise.

Aside from the absence of a believable dress code (but, once again, it’s a cartoon), the high school Kim attends holds a lot of events real kids can relate to. There was a science fair, cheerleading, some drama, mean girls (Bonnie—I’m talking to you), and more.

The show no longer airs on Disney Channel. But the series was fantastic. I will admit that never got to the prom special. But I enjoyed a chunk of the episodes.

 

 

art

A Mini Art Show, Presenting… Anime Self Portrait

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A year ago, I experimented with different illustration styles and media. I decided to try an anime style, despite never admiring anime too much.

However, I did the research, and saw the different styles. I liked the one with the semi-realistic figure, but different facial features. So I tried it.

The outline was drawn in pencil on paper. The color was done in Photoshop. I added some tints and tones to give my image more dimension and not all flat colors.

I also changed some colors of what I really had. For instance, my hair was not blue or purple (whatever you may call that). The stripes on my dress were not sea green, either. Everything else, however, was the same color.

The strengths I experienced were drawing by hand and coloring in Photoshop. The weaknesses were trying to achieve an anime style. Since I never went crazy over anime, the style might not match what anime fans would expect.

However, I appreciate how I expanded my horizons out of my drawing comfort zone and tried something different. That is how we all improve our skills and talents.

art

The Great Art Comparison: Traditional vs. Digital

Many of us have learned traditional art in school. It was required in elementary school and probably even middle school (at least for me, it was). However, depending on where you went to school, art may have become optional in high school. Digital art was probably either optional or not offered at the district I was part of.

Upon graduating high school, though, I learned Adobe Photoshop. I had fun with it. After a couple years, I will admit it spoiled me a bit. It also made traditional art harder. If I made a mistake in Photoshop, I would use one of the tools and not have to erase it and redraw it. It was the opposite for traditional media.

Now here are the differences between traditional and digital (besides the obvious):

Traditional:

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Above is an oil painting I did of a beach near my home. Traditional art is messier, requires clean-up, and mixing colors. You have to have what’s handy. The sky is not the limit. On the Brightside, it’s cheaper, doesn’t require technology or computer skills, and you can make textures more easily. Plus, holding that brush (or any other tool) and mixing your pigments feels good.

Digital

obsessive drawing 1

Above is a file I did in Photoshop. Digital art requires no carrying of materials, clean-up, and an infinite amount of colors. It’s also easier to fix mistakes by undoing, transporting, and much more. You do need computer skills, though. And programs, like Photoshop, can be expensive.

I would highly recommend learning traditional art first, if you haven’t since school. A lot of these techniques do apply to digital art. It’s also good to balance them out.

Of course, not all skills can be perfectly balanced (I often was either a PC or Mac person, but never really both evenly, until now), and art is no exception. But if you can balance traditional and digital art, it will be better.

If you only like traditional media, that’s cool, too.

movie

In a Land Far, Far Away… Lived a Review of “Shrek the Third” (2007)

Warning: contains spoilers***

 

I saw the first two “Shrek” movies and liked them. I did not see the fourth one, though. However, when I saw “Shrek the Third”, I loved it. I could watch it over and over again.

The story starts with Prince Charming performing in a dinner theater. He ends up making a fool of himself to the audience. Shrek and Fiona have to do certain tasks until King Harold recovers from his illness. King Harold dies and Shrek does not want to be king. So he seeks out Fiona’s cousin, Arthur, with Donkey and Puss. Meanwhile, Fiona is pregnant and is with Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Doris, and Rapunzel (temporarily) until Shrek is saved in Charming’s play. Charming is still mad about losing to Shrek in the previous story. He goes bad. With the other villains, he attacks Far Far Away. Charming wants to kill Shrek and become the ruler of Far Far Away.

The humor in this movie was done perfectly. I mean that. The jokes, the characters, and their attitudes cracked me up several times. From the moments at Artie’s high school to the baby montage scene (especially when Puss was diapered by mistake and he gave a dirty look), I could laugh several times.

But the best and funniest moment ever, not just in this movie, but in general… was the baby nightmare. Oh… my… god. That scene was so hilarious. I laugh hard for the whole scene from when the second baby is introduced to when Donkey has a baby ogre face and goes in his normal voice, “Da da.”

I would give this movie beyond five out of five stars, despite how it got mixed reviews and a lot of negative reactions. I really admire the use of humor in the characters and the scenes. Bravo, Dreamworks!

 

movie

Be Our (or My) Guest… for this “Beauty & the Beast” Comparison: 1991 vs. 2017 Adaptations

Warning: contains spoilers***

 

Many of us remember or grew up on the 1991 cartoon of “Beauty and the Beast”. I used to watch it as a small child. I have watched it in recent years, as well.

Of course, I understood the story better more recently than as a little kid. A selfish prince is cursed with becoming a monstrous beast and his servants turning into furniture or props. The enchanted rose loses petals and the beast must love another, and she must love him back by the time the last petal falls. Then the spell will break. A provincial village girl named Belle is seen as strange by her community. Her father goes out on a trip somewhere, but gets lost. Despite the servants’ kindness, the beast imprisons him. Belle finds her father and is willing to take his place. Things move in another direction.

I stopped there because this post is not the synopsis for either adaptation. It is to compare and contrast them.

The 2017 live-action remake featured Emma Watson as Belle, after being known for playing Hermione in the “Harry Potter” movies. Her voice might not match or even sound similar to Paige O’Hara (who voiced Belle in the 1991 cartoon). I also noticed that she couldn’t sustain certain long notes in certain songs as Paige O’Hara did. But I still admired her portrayal of Belle.

The live-action remake also focused on plot holes that didn’t make it into the animated version. For example, there was a lot of emphasis on what happened to Belle’s mother (she died from a disease when Belle was a baby), as well as the Beast’s parents. One plot hole that was mentioned at the beginning explained why no one had wondered what had happened the prince. It was because the curse also wiped the outsider’s memories. While that covered the unanswered question, I felt that the narrator had forced it in instead of it sounding more natural.

Minor parts of the story were changed from the 1991 film, as well as songs. Some songs were added or changed up a bit. One wasn’t sung and that was the song, “Human Again”, when the servants saw the progress Belle and the Beast were making with their romance.

Because I expect differences from originals to remakes, I found both adaptations to be equally good. The cartoon was lighter in mood, compared the live-action reboot. The live-action remake had some changes, but I knew they would. Movie-makers usually don’t like to copy the original sources of either the films they’re remaking or books. They feel that they won’t succeed as much. Of course, many people like the original movies or book sources much better than the reboots or book-to-film adaptations.

Nevertheless, I would rate each version of “Beauty and the Beast” 5 out of 5 stars. I felt that they were too different for me to decide which was better or not as good.

 

cooking

Good Times with Gluten-Free Cooking

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After discovering something about what white flour was doing to my body, I decided to try some gluten-free cooking. I’m not allergic or intolerant to gluten. I still cook with whole wheat and oat flour.

However, I found the gluten-free meals to be easier on my body. I cooked a gluten-free mac and cheese from scratch, as well as almond-meal blueberry muffins and meat and vegetables. It actually spiked my creativity.

Some things didn’t come out the way I wanted, though. For example, I made some gluten-free dinner rolls with almond meal. Unfortunately, they tasted bitter. Maybe the recipe wasn’t that good or something.

That is why I was told to check recipe websites and see if there are reviews. Sometimes, recipes are not tested. This is where you have to show care and caution.

When I started cooking at 12, for the next few years or so, I would constantly have to throw my cooked creations away. Many of us probably had to do that.

Anyway, regardless of what you are cooking, it’s a good idea to see the recipe’s reviews. I usually try out recipes that are at least 4 stars.

I am still looking out for more gluten-free recipes, as well as those with whole wheat, oat, or any other kind of non-white flour.

short fiction

The “Haunted” Dude Ranch: A Short Story

Cassandra and her ten-year-old sister, Michaela, settled into their assigned cabin of The Kullen Ranch. The parents took their room across the hall. Cassandra and Michaela shared a room with two different beds.

Cassandra picked up the guide on the nightstand. She opened it—only to spot handwriting that said, “Beware of the cowboy ghost and the vampire weasel.”

Cassandra ignored that. She still remembered being told that Santa Claus didn’t exist four years ago, at age eight. She was twelve and would begin seventh grade next month. That writing had to have been a prank or some fool messing around.

Michaela had a guidebook on her nightstand too. She picked it up and read it. She looked up at Cassandra. “Cassandra, there’s this weird message about a cowboy ghost and a vampire weasel.”

“Ignore it.” Cassandra flicked her long, braided locks behind her shoulders.

But there was a whish coming from outside. The wind blew the yellow grass. The sound increased to the inside of this room.

“Cassandra, what’s going on?” Michaela looked around.

“I… I have no idea,” she said.

“Beware of the vampire weasel,” said a man’s voice. “It’s real, all right. And it’s on this property.”

“Who was that?” Michaela bolted up from her bed.

“I don’t know,” said Cassandra.

There was a knock on the door. Their mom opened it. “Girls, is everything all right?”

“Mom, we heard a voice,” said Michaela.

“And we both got a message about a cowboy ghost and a vampire weasel,” Cassandra added.

But the mother tilted her head. “You’re ten and twelve years old and you believe in that stuff?”

“Didn’t you hear it?” asked Michaela.

“Grow up, both of you.” The mom closed the door.

Cassandra hung her jaw down and turned to Michaela.

“What’s wrong with mom?” asked Michaela.

“You don’t think we’re the only ones, do you?” Cassandra asked.

There was another knock on the door. The mother opened it. “Girls, it’s time to have dinner.”

Cassandra and Michaela left. They followed their mom and dad downstairs and outside.

Michaela adjusted her bun and caught up to the father. “Dad, did you hear a voice about a vampire cowboy and—”

“Let’s not discuss that,” he said.

Cassandra said nothing and followed everyone to the patio.

A waiter sat them down. He directed them to the barbecue buffet. They went up and helped themselves to their food.

Cassandra stirred her baked beans. But air swished again—yet without any wind.

“Once again, beware of the weasel,” the same mysterious voice as before said.

“Cassandra, aren’t you going to eat?” asked the mom.

“Yeah, but I heard that voice again,” Cassandra said.

The mom sighed.

“What did I tell your sister about that?” the father asked.

“Since when was I dragged into this?” asked Michaela.

“You girls are to stop making up stories this instant,” said the dad.

“It’s not a story, though,” said Cassandra.

“Enough,” said the dad. “Now there is to be no more talking until your plates are cleaned.”

Cassandra sighed and ate. She considered if anyone else on this ranch had heard the voice? Had it been set that only kids could hear it? Just her and Michaela?

Of course, it wasn’t like she and Michaela had been jinxed with this. But how would they prove to their parents that they did hear the voice and didn’t make up stories?

 

A few hours had passed. Cassandra had changed and did her evening routine. Michaela had already fallen asleep.

Cassandra crawled under her bed covers and turned off the lights. But as she lay her head on her pillow, the swishing sound occurred again. Cassandra lifted herself up.

Rays of light shined from the ceiling. Cassandra covered her eyes. Michaela woke up. “Cassandra, what’s going on?”

A gaseous boot showed itself, followed by jeans, a torso, and a man’s head. Cassandra and Michaela screamed.

“Relax, girls,” said the translucent figure. “You don’t want to wake your parents up.”

“W-who are you?” asked Cassandra.

“The cowboy ghost.”

“Oh my God.” Michaela hopped out of her bed. “I’m telling my parents.”

“No, you’re not.” The cowboy ghost flew and blocked Michaela’s path. “I’m only visible to you guys.”

“What?” asked Cassandra. “Why won’t you make yourself visible to our parents? Or anyone else here?”

“I don’t know,” the cowboy ghost said. “But I tried to make myself visible to everyone. For some reason, I only got you guys.”

“So what are you doing here?” asked Cassandra.

“I’m here to tell you that at nine a.m. tomorrow, the vampire weasel will come here,” said the cowboy ghost.

“In the day?” asked Cassandra.

“Well, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow,” said the cowboy ghost. “So you need to find some garlic and throw it at the weasel.”

“But where are we going to find some garlic?” asked Michaela.

“You’ll need to figure that out yourselves.” The cowboy ghost flew back up into the ceiling.

“Wait.” Cassandra held her hand out.

But the ghost had left.

Cassandra thought about where to find garlic. There was no garden. Guests would not be allowed in the kitchens. Did people put garlic in their eggs?

Although Cassandra and Michaela came from New York, they couldn’t imagine that having garlic at breakfast happened a lot here in Wyoming.

 

After last night Cassandra had not told her parents about the ghost. Neither had Michaela. The mom and dad had not even asked who they’d talked to.

The family walked to breakfast. They held it out on the patio, despite what the cowboy ghost had said.

The clouds had darkened. But no rain fell from the sky. People served themselves breakfast. No signs of the vampire weasel came up.

Cassandra and Michaela stood in line for the buffet. Cassandra eyed the food for any signs of garlic.

But a paw climbed the patio. Cassandra and Michaela gasped. The creature showed its face. It looked like a weasel. It hissed, revealing its sharp fangs. It spread its wings and flew into the area.

The people screamed and ran. Cassandra and Michaela stayed, though, still searching for garlic.

“What are you girls doing?” the father ran to them. “Get away from here!” He grabbed both girls and ran with them off the patio.

“We were looking for garlic,” said Michaela.

“Now’s not the time!” exclaimed the dad.

But the clouds cleared, letting the sunlight in. The weasel shrieked and flew away.

The crowd watched it. It soared far away.

“Guys, you can come back now,” said a waitress.

The crowd returned to the patio.

“I think the sunlight was enough,” Cassandra told Michaela.

Michaela giggled.

 

 

 

cooking

Tomato-Free Marinara Sauce? Yes, it’s Possible

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Bell peppers, carrots, spices, herbs. These are the ingredients to make the (not quite) perfect tomato-free marinara sauce.

Why not quite, you may ask? Unfortunately, the taste can only go up to similar. It’s not even almost alike with tomato sauce.

Ever since I developed my tomato allergy last year, my pasta consumption went down. Even now, I barely eat pasta. I can still have pesto, alfredo, garlic and oil, and other tomato-free sauces. But not being able to eat tomato makes pasta-eating less enjoyable.

In fact, this is hard to enjoy on pasta of any kind. Spaghetti, tortellini, penne—you name it. It is good to enjoy on pizza. But that’s a different post.

Anyway, the ingredients for the recipe are as followed:

 

2-3 Bell peppers

½ – 3/4 Pureed cooked carrots

A T of Olive oil

1 T Sugar

A dash of Salt

Grated Pepper

A dash of Minced garlic or garlic powder

A dash of Minced onions or onion powder

About a T of Basil

About a T of Oregano

A pinch of Thyme

About a T of Parsley

A pinch of Rosemary

A ½ t of Red wine vinegar

 

You cut up and broil the red peppers for about ten minutes. The outside should blacken. Then you secure the peppers in brown paper bags for about ten minutes as well. After that, you peel and puree them in the blender.

In the meantime, you can steam, boil, or microwave the carrots. You want them to be as soft as possible. I would recommend using frozen ones as those soften more quickly. Once they are as soft as you like, blend them in with the bell pepper puree.

Heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the pepper and carrot puree. Then add the spices and herbs as needed, as well as the tiny amount of vinegar. You don’t want to overdo it, otherwise, the vinegar gets strong and the taste is practically impossible to remove.

Taste as you add your spices. If you need to adjust, do so. To add flavor, increase the spice or herb. To remove flavor, add a little bit (not too much) olive oil or blend more peppers and carrots.

Pour over pasta, pizza, whatever you’d like. The texture will be close to a tomato. That’s something good about this.

Regardless of why you are not eating tomatoes, this recipe can benefit you. Those who like tomatoes or can eat them with no problem can also try this recipe.

Tomatoes might not be a common food allergy, like nuts, gluten, or dairy. But people can be allergic or intolerant to any kind of food. It’s good to vary your ingredients. You may make someone’s day amazing.