People Give Alz Unicorns

First off, someone nominated Krispy and me for Unpublished Authors with Awesome Writing Style for the Paying Forward Awards!  Wow.  Thank you, Misha, and thank you whoever nominated us!  Krispy and I are honored.  Now I feel like I should have written a real post today, composed with literary flair and keen wit.  Instead, I have a gratuitous picfest rife with randomosity and my typical level of Ghiradelli chocolate milk tea-fueled late-night babble.

Second off, thank you for the well-wishes regarding my health!  I am 90% recovered and ready to frolic once more, preferably with unicorns.  Which leads me into the unicorn meat of today's post!

If you cut Alz, she will probably bleed milk tea and unicorns.  And blood too, of course.  But unlike King Haggard, I haven't gathered up all the unicorns in the world except for one and herded them into the ocean because I love them so much--instead I keep them around the house and sit on them.  (Well, some of them anyway.)  Though I daresay 40% of my collection has been given to me over the years from other people--entirely unbidden because, well, they know me so well.

For instance, Krispy and her sister gave me these:

This was for Valentine's Day a couple of years ago.
It's a rainbow unicorn mailbox with matching valentines!
It even came with a mini marker set.
Everybody loves Pusheen.
Our mutual friend who is also a baker/sewer/sculptor/paper-flower-maker/marvelously talented made me this, which is featured on a garland of a bunch of other adorable felt animals:

The lighting was too crappy for me to get a good shot
of all the other animals, but there are birds and foxes and stags and
yeah, it is fricking awesome.
My uncle, an astonishingly astute man, gave me this:

I have yet to sample the gum,
but I am assured that is freakin' magical.
Another mutual friend gave me these some years ago:

The tin says "free prize inside",
which turned out to be the smoochy sticker.
My brother and sister-in-law gave me these:

They gave them to me at different times, by the way.
The button says "My other ride".
And yes, the tin does open to reveal the very special unicorn treat inside:

Krispy was horrified. But my bro knows me well.
And you thought that "unicorn meat" reference at the top of the
post was an innocent metaphor.
And of course I cannot forget my mom, who knows me equally well (if not better) and got me these:

This was a souvenir from Oregon. It has nothing to do
with Oregon, but my mom knows me exceedingly well.
The little fat Pillow Pet beanie unicorn I got myself though.
Last but not least, here is my shameful proud collection of unicorn Pillow Pets:

To explain the photo above, it is as follows (and to keep from sounding like a total crazyface, keep in mind that all this happened over the course of a few years):

1. The original purple unicorn Pillow Pet was given to me by yet another uncle.

2. I then mentioned that the keychain ones are so teeny they're pretty much doll-sized and my sister-in-law proceeded to give me one.

3. Then, since I had a big one and a tiny one, I went ahead and bought the medium-sized (Pee Wee) purple unicorn.  One of each size, you know, I could stack them up and it'd be cute.  Really.  I thought that was the end of it.

4. Then!  OMFG, I saw the rainbow unicorn version at Target one day and I needed it so badly I nearly imploded there in the store.

5. And then, well, I found another purple full-size unicorn at a discount store and, well, hey, 50% off, well, why not?

6. At yet another discount store when I was with Krispy and her sister, Krispy found the fat unicorn beanie in a pile of dog toys, and since it was cute and fat and I already had all the others...uh...

7. Okay, okay, so I got a second Pee Wee because there was a price-cut and it was only $5.  That's 50% off!

8. A few days ago, Krispy and her sister gave me an early birthday present in the form of the neon blue unicorn that I didn't even know existed and it is so fat and huggably squishy, you have no idea.

9. And I may or may not have a unicorn Glow Pet on order that I ordered prior to the second Pee Wee and the neon unicorn.

Mind you, this selection of unicornosity is only what was close to hand that I could think of off the top of my head.  The true extent of unicorns romping around is possibly maybe slightly a little bit more than this.

Should my latest jewelry project turn out well, expect a possible unicorny update in the future.

In the meantime, here are some fantabulous unicorn books you should check out!

The Last Unicorn   The Last Unicorn   Into the Land of the Unicorns (Unicorn Chronicles, #1)   Here There Be Unicorns

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
The Last Unicorn (graphic novel) by Peter S. Beagle, Peter Gillis, Renae De Liz, and Ray Dillon
Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville
Here There Be Unicorns by Jane Yolen & David Wilgus

Got any favorite unicorn books? Do you have an excessive extensive collection of something that's not entirely your fault?


Randomosity on Fridays: Cute Overlord in Motion

Posts with substance will return next week! I got too distracted by fiddling around with our pretty new blog to plan far enough ahead for a post, and dear Alz is sick! Many people have been getting sick lately, probably because the weather in SoCal has been so inconsistent.

So we're both going to take it easy, especially since Alz plans to be well enough for cotton candy this weekend. It is our city's annual Camelia Festival, which means a mini-carnival held in the park in front of City Hall. And a parade. I marched in this parade as a middle schooler in band and volunteered at a carnival booth as a high schooler for community service. Fun times.

I'll probably pop into the library and see if I can get a copy of Finnikin of the Rock. My borrowed e-copy expired while I was still reading it, and it was getting goooood!

We leave you with these few items:

1) Nominate a book for the YA Book Club in March at Tracey's blog: Nominations! Nominations!

2) DUALED by Elsie Chapman is out next week! I reviewed it here: DUALED review. Some stuff bothered me, but overall, it was a really engaging read and a different kind of dystopian. Love the gray area the main character occupies!

3) Loki being a playful and sleepy boy during the day time.

Happy weekend!


New Year / New Look

Happy Wednesday! I hope everyone had a marvelous weekend. I did because I got President's Day off, which meant 3 day weekend for reading, writing, and general lazing about. Mostly, reading and lazing happened.

BUT something else happened to. In fact, some of you may have already noticed that things look a little different here...

No, I didn't get a new look and go Dark Side.

After a couple of years (has it been that long, really?!) of birds on a wire, A NUDGE has finally gotten a blog makeover!

Farewell, sweet birdies!

I've been wanting to update the look for a while (though we did really love those birds), but I've not had the time or energy to find and implement something we both liked. Neither of us are designers or coders, so we're often limited to what we can find and google.

Enter the talented, generous, and wonderful Caroline Richmond! She writes and photographs already, but lucky for us, she recently delved into web design and is pretty flipping good at it! My internet addiction totally paid off when I happened to see her post offering free blog designs go up, and it was first come first serve. I had been thinking about changing the blog look again, so the timing could not have been more perfect.

All 3 designs were so cute it was hard to choose, but we settled on her Le Bold Design. I'm a fan of the clean, minimal blog look, but we're also all about the whimsy here. So I wanted some cute elements and/or bright colors. So Le Bold was perfect.

Caroline's "Le Bold" design mock-up.

Caroline was so supportive and cooperative in helping us get things looking just right - from pointing us to color palettes (this was a time-suck, let me tell you) to tweaking text for us to customizing our Page banners and sidebar social media buttons. AND she worked on and implemented the design over the long weekend while she was sick! (Caroline, I hope you're resting and much better now!)

So thanks to her hard work and to my figuring out how to make some simple elements/buttons myself, A NUDGE is debuting its new look today! Looking fresh and new, yes?

I encourage you to poke around the other pages, as I've made some updates to content there and in the sidebar (and also so my little flags get some attention, haha).

Check out Caroline's Designs Pinterest board and her blog to see more of her work.

THANK YOU, Caroline! We are so happy with our blog makeover! You are The Best, or as my sister and I like to say in German, die beste! :)

Q4U: What other talents do you have OR what skill/hobby have you been meaning to pick up?


Toast to Love & the New Year!

What an eventful week it has been this mid-February! As you know, yesterday was Valentine's Day and this past Sunday was the Lunar New Year! It was also the Bad B*tches Bachelorette Weekend for one of my bestest friends (and ex-facebook wife).

So I thought it'd be appropriate to ring in the new year (Year of the Snake) with a lovefest and pictures.

Taken by the Sister at Hsi Lai temple over the weekend.
In no particular order, I'm sending love and general warm fuzzies to...

1) My co-writer, co-blogger, and general sanity manager: Alz. I'm lucky I've known you since we were children because that makes you significantly less intimidating. You've probably seen the absolute worst of my writing. except for maybe that truly terrible fanfic from middle school


2) The Sister. We're stuck with each other, so we might as well be each other's best allies.

Taken by Gennia at the Color Run
3) Best friends: ladies I wouldn't mind getting lost in the snowy desert with.

Hiking in Sedona for Bachelorette weekend. Photo: Gennia
Posing in a dry creek bed.  Photo: Crystal

4) Virtual friends: my book people and writerly cohorts! You who understand the love of words and fictional people and all things geektastic! (And you're all incredibly sweet, to boot!)

Thank you for the sweet Valentine's card, Akoss!

5) Loki

Well, I mean this one too, but mostly I mean...
...this Loki!
He is everyone's Valentine!

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR! Also, have a great President's Day long weekend. You all know how much of a U.S. History nerd I am. ;)

Q4U: Make a toast of your own in the comments! [The Toast of our Bachelorette Weekend was: "To ancient times and distant music!"]

P.S. A long weekend bonus for you...

Paperman - one of my favorite Disney Animation shorts!

Justin Timberlake's SUIT & TIE (Official) video // It's a cool video directed by David Fincher AND the shots of the chandelier-decorated room? That's the El Rey Theatre (where the Sister sometimes works)!


Book Title Poetry!

I've always wanted to try my hand at a book title poem but lacked the inclination to do so until 1:00 AM last night, fueled by mango milk tea and the knowledge that Krispy and I didn't have a blog post planned.  Also, most of my reads lately have been library books so I never had that many pretty titles on hand.

Though I dearly wish I could make a pretty poetic stack, instead it'll be (alas!) mere text.  To make my life easier, I chose only from titles I've actually read, and to make my life harder, I decided I wasn't going to cheat by adding any extra words even though conjunctions and the like would've been nice.

Here we go!

My, that turned out dark and ominous.  I made no particular effort to choose titles of a particular flavor, I just culled through my Goodreads and discarded titles that were too specific or not YA/MG.

That was pretty fun though, I must admit.  I'll have to nag Krispy to make one too!

Have you written a book title poem before?  If so, link please!  If not, DO IT.  Ahem, I mean, why not?


Krispy's Origin Story

This Friday, I present to you an origin story. Specifically, the story of how I came to be known as Krispy.

Not very accurate depiction of me, courtesy of Alz.
To do this we must go back in time to the late 90s, the heyday of music dominated by pop princesses and girl/boy bands...

Spice Girls: best girl band everrrr.
Krispy was a tween then, navigating the often treacherous waters of middle school with relative success. It helped that she had a relatively stable group of friends by then, and that despite going into a bigger school and becoming a tweenager, they all still had mostly the same taste.

Mostly, this meant they shared the same hyperactive tendencies, weird humor, and love of pop music - particularly boy bands. (This is relavent, I promise.)

This boy band in particular.
Anyway, in tween!Krispy's group of friends, there was another girl who shared the same real name with her. Since it was confusing to have so many same-named people in one group (they already had 2 Ginas), they called the other girl "Chewy" - a nickname based on the sound of Chewy's last name. From there, it evolved. Krispy's friends thought it would be funny to give Krispy a nickname that complemented Chewy's, so they called her "Crispy". Then one of the other girls wanted in on the funny names too. She came up with one based on the first letter of her real name and became known as Melted.

Through one thing or another, during a conversation that neither Krispy nor Chewy were a part of, Melted and yet another of the girls thought it would be funny to make a fake band where all the members had food related names. (See, even back then, we were all about the foodage.) We already had Chewy, Crispy, and Melted, and it was not unusual for pop music groups in the late 90s to have names that were sort of acronyms of the members' names (I'm looking at you N'SYNC*). Using their excess of creativity (and time), they came up with a viable and catchy sounding word: SMACK**

So two more girls were named Sugar and Artificial (like I said, weird sense of humor) since we wanted a candy theme. And thus CRISPY became KRISPY with a K (that was totally my tag line) to satisfy the whole acronym thing. We were Sugar, Melted, Artificial, Chewy, and Krispy, and we were a fake girl group.

And like many pop groups, girl or otherwise, we eventually broke up, leaving only KMA.

Had to dig into my archives for this. Yes, it's a photoshoot.

We went on to have a very short "career," in which we actually did some singing but mostly just hung out and ate Melted's wonderful cooking.

So there you have it. That's why my nickname is Krispy, and yes, my friends did and some still do call me that in real life.

Happy Friday! I'll be gone most of this weekend to attend a Bachelorette party (for one of my former "bandmates" actually), leaving poor Alz to fend for herself. I trust you'll keep her entertained. :)

Q4U: Have you ever done anything this weird or have an interesting nickname/origin story?

* N SYNC comes from the last letter of each member's first name. Lance was apparently "Lansten" or something???
** We were not fully aware of the slang connections to heroin, though that quickly became an in-joke.


What We're Reading

Time for another
post about what we're reading--
this time in haiku.

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

 Krispy is reading
Just One Day, which she really
enjoys quite a bit.

She hasn't read far,
though she likes the other books
by Gayle Forman.

another book that Krispy
is reading right now.

The voice is good and
it's well-written but the plot
isn't quite there yet.

Crewel (Crewel World, #1)
Then there's Alz reading
Crewel, which she really hates
but keeps on reading.

She's masochistic.
The book is Hunger Games
and Matched, with magic,

only a hundred
times more confusing, vague,
and nonsensical.

Someday, Alz will read
a good book and then you will
hear all about it.

                                                 Krispy has told her
                                                 to read Code Name Verity.
                                                 It may yet happen!

That's it for today.
Alz and Krispy must sleep now.
What are you reading?


It's Dangerous to Go Alone: Adventures in Soldering

Those of you who have played the original Legend of Zelda game for NES may recognize the following image and quote; those who have not may still recognize it because it has become quite the meme.

In pursuit of geekdom and because now I have acquired the metalworking skills to do whatever I want however I want and still get class credit for it, my project this semester is a little metal book of various quotes arranged to tell a story, combined with saw-pierced and soldered images.  And yes, while it would be amazingly badass to recreate the above image in faithful entirety, I have been forced to settle for merely fabricating Link's 8-bit sword and putting the quote on the page.

This time around I took some pictures to document my journey from sheet metal to more-or-less end product.  Join me, if you will, in Alz's Saga of Varying Regret.

Step(s) the First-ish: Draw out Link's sword, photocopy image & cut out, rubber cement photocopy onto cleaned & polished 20 gauge copper sheet which is in turn rubber cemented to cleaned & polished 20 gauge bronze sheet, then tape the two metals together for extra security.  String up size 5/0 saw blade (that's a teeny tiny fine saw blade that practically looks like a hair, you can see a few broken ones on the image below 'cause yeah, they snap easily), wax saw blade to lubricate, then proceed to saw out sword.

Success!  I think I only broke 2 saw blades on this sucker.

If you look closely, the sword looks like a layer cake,
copper on top and bronze on the bottom.

Step the Second: Saw the sword into little pieces because Alz thought it would be a cool idea to go for  accuracy and represent the fact that Link's sword in fact has little stripes on the hilt if you bother to magnify the 8-bit thing by 10x.  I lost a couple of the bits on the floor while sawing and had to use a broom to sweep up piles of dust so I could search through them but yes, I eventually found everything.

In order to keep track of them, I numbered pieces of masking tape and stuck the component bits onto them, as pictured below.  The handguard and blade were easier to keep track of because they were bigger and the rubber cement held them together better until I was ready to peel them apart.

Yes, that is a dalek on the paper.
Step the Third: These steps aren't really separate steps, they're just a whole lot of steps crammed into a single step because I don't have pictures of boring things and/or was busy and couldn't take pictures/forgot.  Anyway, next thing I did was arrange try to arrange all the bits to form the sword--wherein I ran into a problem.  The little hilt bits got flipped every which way so I had to use tweezers to turn them and flip them and nudge them and try to fit them back together aaaaand yeah, on one sword the fit was pretty good and on the other the results were...crooked.

Hurrah!  Success!  Straightness!

In the photos above, the pasty coloring is from flux, which is painted onto the metal to keep it clean and prevent it from oxidizing while it's heated with the torch, and the little silvery chips are solder.  Note that the copper-bladed sword is the one I intended to use for this project since Link's sword is brown; the bronze one is just for kicks and because hey, I have the inverse parts and might as well.  Naturally the one I really wanted is the one that turns out to have a Gothic S-curve going for it.  Sigh.

Step the Fourth: Time to solder.  Heat those suckers (gently) with the torch to dry out the flux and prevent the solder from jumping around, then turn up the flame and heat until the solder flows.  It's a liquid silver flash and bam!  Done.  Hopefully.

Quench hot metal (sizzzzzzzzle) and dump in pickle, which is the term for a sulfuric acid bath that removes the flux and oxidzation and cleans the metal.

Fresh out of the pickle. Crooked sword is still crooked. ):
Ideally there wouldn't be those big silvery spots of solder visible.
If they were on the front of the piece I would have cleaned them up
but since this is the back and I'm soldering them to a metal page, it's okay.

Curse crooked sword.  Try to bend it straighter with pliers, knowing all the while this is a bad idea, and break the bits off.  Weep tears of blood in the knowledge that I Knew Better Than to Do That.  Reposition bits straighter, re-flux and re-solder, pickle clean, and this time clamp sword into a vise and use a file to straighten edges and clean things up.  Congratulate self that you would've had to break it apart anyway to get it straighter.

With a dime for size reference.
Straightening that hilt sucked but at least it's not too bad now.
I also polished the front a bit to see how it looked.

Step the Fifth: Cut 24 gauge copper into appropriately-sized pages. Use a scraper to clean the copper (since copper gets dirty/oxidizes very quickly), then sand it to smooth out scrapes and clean & polish further.  Flux page, flux sword, put solder chips on back of sword, place sword on page, then torch using a strong bushy flame.  Heat evenly all around, then concentrate flame on sword and pray that the solder flows all the way around.  Soldering one flat surface to another in this manner is called sweat soldering since capillary action forces the sandwiched solder to flow between the metal sheets.

Quench piece (SSSSSSSSSSIZZLE) and pray that everything flowed.

It did.  Sword is solidly on there with a faint silver outline all around, showing the solder flowed completely.


In this case, I didn't put it back into the pickle because
I liked the coloring I got from torching and quenching.
The pickle would remove all that and leave it uniformly coppery.
The flame-y aureole around the sword is where I painted the flux.

Step the Sixth: Scrub residual flux off piece with toothbrush, soapy water, and a little baking soda.  (Normally the pickle takes care of that but like I said above, I wanted to keep the current color.)

Then it's time to masking tape the hell out of the background to protect that precious color while I polish the sword with sandpaper to regain the shiny and the yellow bronze color (bronze turns coppery when you heat it too much and also gets copper-plated if thrown into the pickle).

Since working with metal,
I've come to truly fundamentally bone-deeply understand
what purpose masking tape serves in life.
Also, I now comprehend why it is called masking tape.

Commence sanding, working from coarse to fine with 320 grit sandpaper, then 400, then 600 (this is a typical polished finish), and then hit it up with some 1000 for good measure (just that extra bit of polish).

It's shiny now!  And look how dirty the surrounding tape is.
Step the Seventh:  Remove tape.  Drill holes for spiral-binding in the future.  Debate whether to do cut-out spaces for paper quotes inserted between riveted pages, or go with stamping.  Fail to come to a decision and realize that there's no blog post in the works for tonight, so take a new picture of nearly-finished work, throw together post, and decide to decide what to do tomorrow.

The holes are on the right side because the pages
are going to be riveted together, i.e.  p. 1&2, 3&4, etc.
And there you have it!  The whole of this took I don't know how long, hours to do, but I can't say exactly how long since I was doing other things at the same time.  But yes.  It looks pretty simple when it's all together like this, but as you can see it is a lengthy process involving much cursing and rage against the universe and 20/20 hindsight.  All in all, though, this page was actually one of the easier ones I've done so far.

Hopefully I'll get this project done within the required timeframe.  Hopefully it will be awesome.  Hopefully I won't have to cut too many corners--or pages.  I already axed three pages in the interest of time and reasonableness and manageability and non-fun things like that, and may axe an additional two.  We'll see.

Q4U: How often is it that you're in the middle of doing something complicated and realize midway through that zomg, WHY AM I DOING THIS THE HARD WAY, only now you're committed to it and can't back out and have to finish what you've started the way you started it?  Or do you restart from scratch and do it the easier way?