‘Tis the Season

christmas coupon

Every month I try to make a coupon for my Etsy shop to give people a reason to buy my craft items, on top of my already low prices. I am always adding new items, like this month I am creating packs of 4 pairs of studs for $8. I currently have several of those already listed and more to come. Of course I still have the single pair of studs with your choice of color 1 and color 2 for the new low price of $2 a pair.

My Etsy shop items make great stockings stuffers. The friendship bracelets are a nice gift to give to someone, the studs are super cute, if I do say so myself. I wear mine every day. The coasters are adorable and they last for years. I am still using the same coasters I made more than 10 years ago. My keychains are a nice addition to your keys. They help you identify which key ring has which keys.

I am still in the stage where my sales have not paid for my materials, so it would be awesome if people would buy my stuff so I can make a profit so I can buy Christmas presents this month. I don’t want to have to just give away my craft items, I would love to be able to pay off my credit card so I can buy presents. So you buying something to give as a gift, or keep for yourself, helps me give gifts and pay for my materials. It’s a win-win situation.

Nook HD+ for Christmas

desktop landscape

I was totally not expecting this, but my partner bought me a Nook HD+ 32GB for Christmas. I was saving money to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire because I thought it was better than a Nook tablet. I had no idea that the Nook tablet had the Google play store now. So I changed my mind, but was still saving the money and was expecting that I would finally have the money saved by my birthday in June. I told my partner what I was planning, and I think he took that as a hint. It wasn’t, but hey, I’m not complaining lol.

I have a Nook WiFi, which is still very nice to have for when I want to read a book in the sunlight. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. You can’t see a tablet screen in sunlight which is what makes a e-ink screen superior than a tablet in that sense.

I was saving up for the 7″ screen with only 8GB, but when we were at the Barnes & Noble store he saw the two screens next to each other and decided for me that the 9″ screen was better, and that 32GB would also be way better than only 8GB which I highly agree with. The price however was a huge difference. The 7″ tablet was only $129 and the 9″ was $179. I agree that the one he bought me is better though, and I probably would have regretted not getting the bigger one.

library portrait There was a problem with my new Nook though. The first day was okay, but the second day wasn’t. The screen started freaking out on me. It would move side to side on its own and it would drop app icons onto the desktop from the carousel at the top. It also went into my library and started downloading books and magazines from the cloud. I saw it in the Nook store and freaked out that it would start making executive decisions on what it thought I should start reading.

I called the store and tried to explain to them what was happening, but the tech didn’t get it right away. She eventually understood and walked me through resetting it to factory and told me if I had any more problems to bring it in for another one. It did, and so we went in the very next day. It was a good thing too because they were on sale, so they gave my partner the difference, which was $32. Not bad eh? Instead of being $179, it was only $149.

So yeah, the Nook HD+ 32GB was a very good thing. I’ve been putting my computer in sleep mode while I use the Nook as a computer. No sense in using electricity if I’m going to use a tablet instead of a computer. I am disappointed that I can’t play the Sims FreePlay on it though. I’ve been playing that on my cell phone for a year now and it gets frustrating when it crashes constantly. I would love to free up some space on my phone and play it on a bigger screen.

landscape book

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read books on the screen because I much prefer either paper or e-ink, but it’s actually not that bad to read from. I’ve been reading in landscape mode and it reads just like a book, it even looks like a book when you turn the page. The reason I’m reading in landscape mode is because of the case I have. It’s much easier for me to read with the Nook sitting on my desk than it is to hold it on my hand.

I am very happy with my gift. I’m even happier that I didn’t have to save the money for it because I can’t save money very easily because it always goes into the groceries. I’m even happier that the replacement didn’t freak out like the first one lol.

We didn’t buy the case in the store because I thought they would be expensive, so I bought it on Amazon for $11 with free shipping.  Not a bad price.  I found out that the cases they have in the store are only $15, but I am very happy with the case that I have because it rotates so it can stand in portrait or landscape mode.

We don’t conform to the rules of opening your Christmas presents ON Christmas day.  Screw that noise lol.  We will open our presents when we gosh darn well please thank you very much.  The present I bought for him wasn’t quite as expensive though, it was the Google Chromecast for $35.  He can use it to watch Netflix or YouTube directly from his tablet.  My second gift for him was Netflix itself, which we both can enjoy from our tablets and the Blu-ray player.

Since when did saying “Happy Holidays” become offensive?

Christmas 2007-1

I have been saying “Happy Holidays” my entire life.  There have always been cards sold in stores that say “Happy Holidays” and nobody was ever offended before.  Now all of a sudden saying “Happy Holidays” seems to be more offensive because people believe there is a war on Christmas and that Atheists are trying to remove “Christ” from Christmas, so if I don’t say “Merry Christmas”, but say “Happy Holidays” instead, then I am part of the problem and get lectured by some religious person who is very upset.

This is how I see it.  I have friends who celebrate Hanukkah and friends who celebrate Christmas.  I also have friends and family who celebrate Christmas, but not specifically for religious reasons because they are Atheists.  So why can’t I say “Happy Holidays” to them without someone yelling at me for not saying “Merry Christmas”?  I wouldn’t say “Merry Christmas” to my Jewish friends and I wouldn’t say “Happy Hanukkah” to my Christian friends.  Happy Holidays is a happy medium.  It’s a way of saying, well, Happy Holidays lol.  It’s just words, so why is it so upsetting?  I don’t understand.

I am an Atheist and I have celebrated Christmas since I was a baby.  I wasn’t always an Atheist, I was baptized when I was a baby and I considered myself to be a Christian when I was growing up.  My parents took us to church when we were very young, and I have memories of that, but then they stopped and there is a very funny story of why.

My mother and step father went to my mother’s church which happened to be the Mormon church.  The first time he ever went there with her, they asked him to stand up and say his name.  He was afraid to say his own last name out of fear of her getting kicked out of the church because they were living together, but they weren’t married.  They knew her last name was McDonald, so he used her last name without really thinking it through.  The problem with that was, his first name was Ronald.  He was so beyond embarrassed when people laughed at him for proudly proclaiming to be Ronald McDonald that we never went to church again as a family.

I went with neighbors to the Salvation Army church when I was in the 6th and 7th grade.  I even went to the Salvation Army band camp the summer before I was in the 7th grade.  When we lived in Reseda when I was in the 9th grade we rejoined the Mormon Church because they helped us with food bank, but I don’t recall going to church every Sunday, but I do remember going to teen functions, one specific function stands out, it was a dance for the teenagers.

Anyway, I was very religious up until I came out of the closet at 17, well, I was pushed out, then kicked out.  People started quoting the bible to let me know I was going to hell for being gay and over the course of a year or two, I became an Atheist.  But I never stopped celebrating Christmas because I enjoy decorating the Christmas tree and looking at the lights and having a stocking hung by the fireplace.  I enjoy all of the Christmas movies and I love it when my favorite shows have a Christmas episode.

Just because I am an atheist and do not celebrate Christmas for “Christ” doesn’t mean I want Christ to be removed from Christmas.  I honestly don’t care what it’s called, I just want to have a happy holiday without being told that I am a part of the war on Christmas just because I am not religious.

So Happy Holidays to you all.  Deal with me saying Happy Holidays because it’s just words.  If me saying Happy Holidays offends you, get over it!

BTW, the cat in the picture above is our late cat Shanaynay.  She passed away in 2009.

Depression About Surgery

scarIn August I went to the doctor to get help for an issue I was having with my parotid gland on my right side.  I had a cat scan with contrast and they found several stones and the only way that I can get them out is with surgery to remove the entire gland.  The problem is, it will leave a huge scar on the side of my face that will look like the image to the left.

Most people wouldn’t want to have a huge scar on their face of all places.  I mean, a scar on your arm or your leg or stomach is normal, but your face, that’s like the one place that you want to keep scar free.  Well, without thinking I said that if this is my only option other than living with it, then just do it because I can’t continue living with this horrible pain.

I still feel that I want to get the surgery, but I have also sort of gone into a depression knowing that I’m going to have this on my face soon.  Not only will I have this on November 20th, but I will have a tube sticking out for 7 days which means it will be removed the day before Thanksgiving.  I will have a fresh scar during the holidays.  I know that the holidays are just like any other day to me, but I still don’t understand why I couldn’t have had the surgery by now so it’s all healed up BEFORE the holidays.  I mean, this started in August and we’re in November now.

I’m sorry, I’m scatterbrained.  I’m just going through something right now.  I know it’s all mental, but still, I just don’t want to have to be out in public with this on my face for Thanksgiving, especially since we always go to a restaurant for that holiday.  I know it’s probably silly and you are thinking oh get a grip, get over it, but wouldn’t you be worried about this too?

This is going to go one of two ways, one I will be fine and I won’t think it’s that big of a deal and we will go out and eat and it will be fine.  Or, I will be so depressed that I won’t be able to get out of bed until New Years.

The issue here is this is my face, which is the first thing that people see.  People judge you as a person before they even talk to you.  I know, RuPaul says it’s none of my business what other people think of me and I usually think that too, but it’s my FACE!  Why does this have to happen to me just before Thanksgiving, or at all for that matter?

As if I haven’t been through enough in my life with being diagnosed with HIV at age 21, then upgraded to AIDS at 23, being diagnosed with having Parkinson’s, Scoliosis, being homeless as a teenager just because I was gay and being abused throughout my childhood.  It just seems like I am a target for something messed up.  Why me?  Why do I have such a messed up life?

Well, I guess I should just be thankful that I am still alive despite the fact that I was supposed to die in 2000 and nearly died in 2002 from Steven-Johnson syndrome, which is another messed up thing that happened to me lol.  Eh hem, as I was saying, at least I have a roof over my head and I’m somewhat healthy and not homeless.

I suppose it could be worse.  I could be homeless and not have any medical insurance and would have to just live with the pain for the rest of my life.  So I guess I should be lucky that I can have the surgery.  But I still can’t help but feel depressed about the scar.  UGH!  Life sucks.

Patriotic keychains and flag lanyards

I have been having a blast playing with lanyards lately. I made quite a few keychains in the DNA pattern with many different colors and I have made a couple different patriotic keychains as well as an American flag. Take a look.

image

The flag isn’t perfect, as nothing really is in this world, but I like it anyway. The problem that I had was with the transition to the blue. I can change the colors in the DNA keychains no problem, but adding the blue to this flag was the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do.

Someday I will try to make another one, but for now this will have to do. I really love the keychains though.

My motivation for making these patriotic lanyard projects is the 4th of July of course. I like to make something for every holiday. Actually, flag day is coming so this works for that day too. I think an American flag works for many holidays throughout the year.

Anyway, I hope it’s pleasing. I plan on making more of the keychains as soon as I get more hooks. I think people will like them. I hope anyway.

Pumpkin Pie E-Liquid from Zeus E-Juice

My newest batch of e-liquid came today from Zeus E-Juice.  I have Pumpkin Pie, Banana Nut Bread, Strawberry and Demeter’s Harvest.

I’ve been puffing on the Pumpkin Pie all day because that was the flavor that I’ve been craving most of all.  Of all the flavors that I have tried so far, this is my most favorite.  I love Pumpkin Pie a lot, no really, a LOT lol.

The other e-liquids I bought were 50% PG and 50% VG because I wasn’t sure which combination I should choose as a beginner, but that was a bad combination for me because I could barely taste the flavors at all.  I mean, I tasted it, but just not enough for me to tell what they were.  I ordered these new flavors in 70/30 so that I could actually taste the flavor because I read on the Zeus E-Juice website that the PG gives you more flavor than the VG, and I am finding that to be true.  The other flavors came in 70/30 as well, except for the Strawberry which I ordered in 100%PG so that I could mix it with the strawberry I already have in the 50/50 strength.  When I use up the ones that I can taste, then I will buy the ones I already have in 100% PG to mix so I can get the combination I want.  Although, when I do buy new flavors I think I will buy them in 80/20 so that I get even more flavor.

I’m not sure if I will ever get to the other flavors because I think I might get too addicted to the Pumpkin Pie lol.  Although I only have 5ML, so when that runs out I’m going to have to buy a 30ML bottle so that it lasts until the end of the holidays.  Speaking of the holidays, they also have Egg Nog, so when I do make my order for the 30ML bottle of Pumpkin Pie, I’m also going to order a 30ML bottle of Egg Nog, both in the 80/20 combination.  I’m going to go nuts with those 2 flavors lol.

My atomizers aren’t doing so great though because one of them stopped working.  I don’t know what the deal is, but I only had it for 8 days and it stopped working.  Those are supposed to last for 3 months.  It was sucking all of the e-liquid up and not giving me any of the benefit.  I’m going to buy some clearomizers which are totally different from an atomizer.  I won’t have to use cartridges, instead I will be able to see through the atomizer to see how much e-liquid I have and it has a long wick, so that should help.  I believe when the atomizer in it stops working, you can simply remove it and replace it.

So anyway, I am loving the Pumpkin Pie and I am so glad I found the right strength combination.  I can’t wait for the Clearomizer and the Egg Nog.  I’m going to buy 2 Clearomizers so that I can fill 1 with Egg Nog and 1 with Pumpkin Pie so I can switch between the 2 since I have 2 eGo-T batteries lol.  I will use the cartridges and the remaining atomizer I have for the other flavors lol.

Happy Holidays 2011

I forgot to send out cards this year.  Oopsie!  So instead of sending our cards out late, this is what everyone is getting lol.  If you are wondering why it’s not a photo of us, neither Darrin nor myself are photogenic (we hate our pictures being taken) so you get to see our tree instead.  Hey, Darrin just got his new iPhone, I don’t want to be responsible for breaking the camera with my image LOL.  No but seriously, I would like to get a picture of us together but I’d prefer in a more professional setting.  Maybe in the year 2025…

Every year since the 90’s, I have spent Christmas with either my family, or with Chips.  This year we are going to stay home instead of traveling.  It is fun to drive south for the holidays, but Darrin just can’t get the time off.  I actually don’t mind staying home because I’ll be able to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special.  I would hate to have to wait for the next series to come on when it finally repeats.  That has happened every year too so I’m looking forward to finally watching it the day it actually airs.

Santa has already visited us, so we really don’t have much to celebrate anymore.  Darrin bought himself, or should I say Santa bought Darrin a new iPhone 4S with a 2 year contract with Verizon.  And I got some new underwear.  Yes, I asked for underwear lol.  That was actually what I really wanted so I’m happy.  I was down to 3 holey pair, so I was long overdue.  I would have asked for an iPod Touch 4th gen 16GB, but Santa has already spent too much money on one apple product, so I can wait to see if I get any money from book sales for that, or an iPad2 lol.

Speaking of my book, I had hoped I would have been finished with it by the day after Christmas but I am still in editing.  I finished my final edit, but then I went back to the beginning and have found more issues.  I am working on my final final edit so hopefully it will be finished by January 1st 2012.  I can’t promise anything because when I finish with my final final edit, I will of course have to read the whole book again to make absolutely sure it’s perfect before I publish it.  I don’t want even one word out of place or misspelled lol.

In case you are wondering, yes I have been working on this book for the last 6 months.  I actually started in 1989… started over in 1997… started over summer 2010 and only wrote 3 or 4 chapters.  Started over again in May or June 2011 where I rewrote the chapters that I wrote in 2010 and wrote the rest of the book.  It only took 2 months to write it, but it has taken me 4 months to edit it.  Writing is hard ya’ll!

Anyway, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you all.

Getting Ready for the Holidays

This is the image from my webcam to show my progress so far. It’s very hard to really tell what it is at this point because of the angle of the image but it’s a Christmas stocking for one of my relatives. It’s a snowman holding a broom with a mouse in it. The snowman is wearing a top hat and a scarf and he has a squirrel on his shoulder.

There is a deer which you can clearly see then a rabbit next to him but I haven’t finished him so he’s hard to see.  Then to the bottom right of the stocking is a fox which I haven’t even started. Well, I started his feet but that’s it.

When I finish I will post the finished product so you can get a better image. Yesterday I worked on the white of the snowman stomach and I started his scarf which by the way is not an easy thing to do lol.

I have 9 more days to finish this. Do you think I can do it? I keep saying “Oh it’ll only take me a few days” well it’s been a week that I’ve been working on it but because of back problems I can only work on so much of it at a time before I have to stop. Yesterday I drank a red bull and got a lot more done but not as much as I would have liked.

I still have to finish the other stocking that I made for Jordan with the Santa on the front. Since that one didn’t come with the red felt for the back, I had to go buy some at Michael’s. I cut the piece out so all I have to do is sew it on. But I’ll wait to do that when I can sew this one up at the same time. Yes they have to be sewn by hand because if I use the sewing machine it will screw up the pattern because some of the pattern is right against the edge of where I have to sew.

You know speaking of sewing, I wish that I knew how to quilt because I think I could make some awesome Christmas stockings with that. That would be so awesome.

Anyway, I need to get back to work lol.

New Blog Banner

I am not a graphics designer but I do try to make all of my own graphics because I really can’t afford to pay a graphics designer to do it for me. I usually like to have a whole new banner image for the holidays and I think I’ve finally gotten my banner the way I want it.

I’m using GIMP as my Photoshop program and I’m using brushes for all of my other graphics like the Christmas decorations and snow from Obsidian Dawn.

I’m not very good at it yet but I think it’s fun working with brushes. The only issue I had with these particular brushes is that when you click the brush pattern onto the image, it’s very light. You can’t even see it unless you click it several times and even then it loses all of the details and texture in the image. What I have figured out is that if I make it white then click it on the image about 10 times, it gives me a base, that way I can use a color and click it down again and you can see it better.

Take the Snowman for example. I created a layer for the snowman then I used white and I created my base then I erased the arms.  I created another layer but moved that layer down under the white layer and I used a dark brown color then stamped the snowman back down about 10 times. That way you can see the arms but not the dark brown snowman because that was all hidden behind my white base. Then to give it texture I just stamped it down (still with the brown) on top of itself on the base layer. The only issue is that in the Obsidian Dawn website when they show the snowman in the image for all the brushes, he has a red scarf. I really don’t care about his scarf but it would be nice to be able to just stamp it once and have all the details like the red scarf.

I did the same thing with the Christmas tree (although it may be a little bit overkill), all the decorations, the presents and the Santa hat on my head in the picture of me when I was 16. Then I added the snowflakes and then the snow but I didn’t click many times, I only clicked once for the snowflakes and the snow because I didn’t want it to overpower the image.

You can go to the Obsidian Dawn website and download some brushes for your own graphics. They have tutorials for using these brushes in Photoshop and Gimp but they are mostly for Photoshop which is why I’m still clueless. Maybe they work better in Photoshop than they do in Gimp so you don’t have to go that extra mile that I have to go. Who knows. Actually tell me if you know so I can beat my head against the wall if I’m doing it the hard way lol.

I hope that some day I might get better at using GIMP because I really love creating my own graphics. Maybe some day I might be so good that I can start making desktop themes to add to my downloads page. Probably not so don’t hold your breath on that one.

Turkey Day Is Almost Here

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already here again. The months go by so fast. Next thing you know we will be decorating the tree. Actually, I’ll be doing that the day after tomorrow lol.

Since Darrin is working again, we’re not going out of town so we’re just gonna go to Hometown Buffet like we always do. I don’t mind going there, in fact I love that they are open because frankly I’d rather not have to cook as if we’re having 10 people over for just the 2 of us then have to do all those dishes. I’m quite content going out where all I have to do is get up, grab a plate then fill it up with good food, eat and repeat until I’m about to explode.

I do miss the traditional visit to a family members house (minus all the drama that comes with that) but I think I like it better with just the 2 of us. The holidays seem to be more for kids than they do for me. I guess that’s how you start to feel when you get older, unless of course you have a family to take care of.

As I said, the day after Thanksgiving I’m gonna be decorating the Christmas tree. It’s in the garage, it’s a pre-lit 8 foot tree. I actually have a video on YouTube of me putting it together using time-lapse photography.

Now some people might say that it’s not Christmas with a fake tree. Pahleez! It’s still Christmas to me and I don’t have to pick out a new one every year and pay the high prices that they charge at the tree lots. It’s such a rip off and I have a fear of fire so that’s another reason for me to want a fake one. Some people say they like the smell of the tree, I don’t really care for it all that much. Even if I did like the smell, I’d rather just light a Christmas tree scented candle.

I have several boxes of decorations to get from the garage and who knows, it might put me in the spirit enough to finish making that last stocking that I started earlier this year. I have 3 stockings to send to Chips nephews. Only one of them is complete, another one just needs it’s red felt back sewn on and the 3rd one needs me to finish embroidering it then put it’s felt back on. I have a little bag of bells that I’m thinking of sewing to the stockings in various places. It’s just not a stocking until it jingles.

So tomorrow morning I’ll get up and have a very light breakfast, maybe I’ll get some pop tarts then starve myself until it’s time to go to Hometown Buffet which will probably be around 1-3pm. One thing I look forward to is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade that will be on in the morning.

Oh joy, I can’t wait.