Friday, July 27, 2012

Zendala Dare #16

This week I would like to talk about my blog.

Now your probably thinking "What does she mean 'Talk about her blog?'" and a year or so ago I would have said the same thing.  When I started this blog just over a year ago I did it primarily so I could post my entries into the weekly Diva Challenge.  When I attended CZT training last October I realized that if I started a business teaching Zentangle, my blog could be a great tool to reach out to others about classes, supplies and new tangles.  Then in April I decided to start sharing the Zendala templates I was creating in the form of the Zendala Dare.

When I started the Zendala Dare I did it because I was having a hard time finding templates and I figured I probably wasn't the only one.  As the weeks have progressed I have noticed an increased interest in these templates and have come to look forward to seeing everyone's entries.  

Last week however, I encountered something I never expected.  As many of you know, I usually post the weekly Zendala Dare in the wee hours of Friday morning.  Last week I was feeling under the weather, had some minor computer issues, and to be honest, fell asleep without posting.  When I did post Friday morning and the entries started rolling in, I was taken aback by some of the comments I saw posted.  People were questioning whether something had happened to either myself or my family.  There were emails "checking up on me" and some people had mentioned that they were praying for my health and safety.   More people than I ever expected commented on how much they look forward to the Dare and check their computer first thing every Friday morning.  Needless to say I was humbled, overwhelmed, and truly touched by how many people were genuinely concerned. 

So this week I want to tell all my loyal readers "Thank You".  Thank you for finding my templates worth doing, thank you for taking the time to do the Dare each week, and thank you for caring enough to worry when the post doesn't show up at the usual time.  I promise that from now on, if a Zendala Dare is going to be late I will make sure to give a quick update to let you know what's going on.

Now onto a lighter note about this blog, I'm going to tell you a little story.  More honestly, as I usually tell my friends "This is a long story about nothing", but in my opinion, still pretty amusing.    

If you have a blog then you probably know that blog's can turn into a much bigger job than you originally signed up for.  When I started the blog it was pretty straight forward.  Then came the custom domain name, the Etsy store, the slide shows and all the other little gadgets you can add.  A strange blogging phenomenon soon emerged, at least for me.  The things I thought would take 15 minutes to do end up taking 3 hours and the tasks that seem like they should take a day end up taking 5 minutes.  It's like a weird blogging wormhole!  

One of the features I really wanted to add was a blog button.  For those of you who aren't familiar, blog buttons are those pictures that you see on the right and left side of blog's that you can click on to get a direct link to a certain blog.  I have had several requests for a blog button and really wanted to create one but they usually require HTML code, photo editing and hosting, and a lot of weird terms that someones like me, who is less than fluent in computers, can have a very hard time with.   After several failed attempts at creating a button I decided to give up.

A few weeks ago my ambulance partner Jenn of Girl Defying Gravity, showed up for work with a little post it note.  She was very proud that she had created a button for her blog and assured me it was going to be a breeze if I just used the websites she listed.  Fat chance.  Through no fault of Jenn's, I spent the next 6 hours creating my button.  Most of the issue's had to do with the fact that Jenn and I have different computer software but in the end I was ecstatic to have created my very own, custom blog button.  

Fast forward a few weeks.  Two nights ago I was sitting on the couch doing bloggy stuff when I noticed that the picture for the Zendala Dare button had a weird red line in it.  On further inspection I noted that the red line under the word Zendala was actually to alert me to a possible spelling error.  At one point during the button creation process, the picture is modified in a word processing program and that is when the program inserted the red line, but this occurs pretty early in the process.  So for basically 4-5 hours I was modifying, copying, cutting, pasting, and proofreading a photo that had a big, obvious red line running through it. Maybe I was subconsciously (or not so subconsciously) ignoring it so I wouldn't have to fix it!  After being horrified by my discovery and having a mini anxiety attack about the many hours of work ahead of me to fix it, I dug in my heels and set about the task.  Imagine how ecstatic I was when it only took me 30 minutes to straighten it out!

Long story not so short,  if you have placed the button on your blog any earlier that 3 days ago, you have the version with the red line.  It will still work but I would love it if you would grab the new code on the right and re-install it.  See, a long story about basically nothing!

Now onto the main attraction....

Zendala Dare #16

This wee I decided to go basic.  I love doing Zendala's but I sometimes feel that the many small spaces limit the tangles I can use.  So this week, I decided we would try a basic template with some wide open spaces.

For my version I went with some oldies but goodies.

Tangles:  BB, Vache 2, Paradox, Antidot

I like the way this turned out.  It's simple, clean and has some impact.  It's pretty basic but still beautiful.  

So what will you come up with this week?  I am eagerly awaiting your entries.  

Don't forget!   Everyone who donates the Relay for Life to help me fight cancer will receive a free set of one of a kind Zendala templates.  You can find more details here.

I hope you all have a great week.  


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cancer and Zendalas: One of these things really sucks!

I am very proud to announce that on August 18, 2012 I will be walking in the Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society.  The Relay for Life is a 24 hour walking event to support cancer treatment and research.  Your team must have someone on the track at all times for 24 hours to symbolize that cancer never sleeps.  As a paramedic, I encounter cancer patients on an almost daily basis.  I do my best to be optimistic in their presence but I know that the reality is that many of them will not have a favorable outcome.  On the upside, I am the niece, friend, caregiver, and acquaintance of many people who have beat cancer and are living life to the fullest as a result.  It's because cancer has touched my life in so many ways that I decided this would be a worthy cause to donate my time, money and expertise to.  

After a lead up like that you must know what's coming!  Yes, I am in search of donations.  I am part of the Sonoma Life Support EMT's and Paramedics team of which I am also co-captain.  As co-captain, I have to show just how awesome I am in my donation collecting skills so that other's will try to beat me out and as a result, my team can collect and absurd amount of money to help fight cancer.  

I know that times are tough and money is tight but I think we have all been afflicted personally with cancer or know and love someone who has.  I am asking for flat donations to my team which can be accessed here.  Even a small donation will help so please, if you are able, contribute what you can.  

As a thank you to everyone who is able to contribute, I will email you a PDF with 5 Zendala templates.  These Zendala templates were created exclusively for this event and have not, nor will ever be released on my Zendala Dare.  The only way to get them is to make a contribution.  If you are not familiar with Zendala's (please hold on a moment, I think I just fainted!), you can check out the Zendala Dare to get acquainted.

Additionally, my top five blog based donors will be entered in a special raffle for a grand prize that has yet to be determined.  What I can guarantee you is that it will include lots of cool things from Sonoma county and a few of my personal favorites.  Trust me, you want it!  

After completing your donation, please email me at erin(at)thebrightowl(dot)com to let me know and I will send off your Zendala templates.  You may also include the name of a loved one who was afflicted with cancer and I will include their name on my event T-shirt.  

A big thank you to all my loyal readers for supporting this blog and this cause.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Zendala Dare #15

Well hello there!  Were you worried that there would be no Zendala Dare this week?  Never fear, hear I am!  I usually post the Dare in the wee hours of Friday morning but a combination of work, feeling under the weather, and computer problems did not make that possible last night, but don't worry, I'm back now.

I'm actually due at work by noon so this will be a quick post:

Zendala Dare #15

Lets start with the template:

I know I say this about a lot of templates but when I created this one, it spoke to me.......through food.  Yes, food.  The second it started to take shape it automatically made me think of cookies or candy.  I think it may have something to do with those horrible candies my grandmother used to buy at the drug store.  They were hard, filled candies and they came in a cardboard canister.  There were only two or three good flavors and even those were nothing to right home about.  Anybody else with me here?  Ok, never mind, lets move on.

I thought the template had great promise but when I actually started it stumped me a little.  Here's the end product.  

Tangles:  Facets, Tipple, La Bel

I think it has a nice overall effect but it isn't as "flowey" as I envisioned it in my head.  This one may call for a do over.  Well see how much time this week allows.  Oh, lets face it, this is the only one of these you'll ever see!  (Yes, I'm laughing)

Hope you all have an amazing week.  Remember
to take a moment to smell the roses, tangle, and link
up below.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Diva Challenge #79 - Citius, Altius, Fortius

This week the Diva's challenge come's from guest blogger, CZT Rho Densmore.  She has challenged us to create a tile in the spirit of the upcoming olympic games.  The games motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius", which means "Swifter, Higher, Stronger".

The Olympic symbol of five interlocked rings was created by the Olympic committee in 1894 to symbolize the 5 continents that at the time, participated in the games.

When choosing tangles for my tile, I decided not to go for the traditional rings but rather disks created by using the tangle Printemps.  The other tangles I chose don't have much significance, as they pertain to the games, they are just tangles that I thought flowed well together.  I hope you enjoy.

Tangles: Pokeleaf, Printemps, Beadlines,
Huggins, Hollibaugh

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tutorial: Auraknot + Paradox = Fabulous!

This week the Diva challenged us to use the new official tangle Auraknot.  I had a lot of fun with the challenge, especially when I decided to combine Auraknot with an old favorite, Paradox.  Here's the original tile.

Tangles: Auraknot (with Paradox tangleation),

After I posted this tile I received many comments and email requests asking how I did it so I decided a little tutorial was in order.

Fabulous is used here strictly as a descriptive term, not a new tangle name.  I think of this variation as a hybrid of Auraknot and Paradox and that is why I have listed it as such. I have included a picture below of the instructions and you can download the tutorial as a PDF here.

There are a few things to remember when drawing this tangle:

1.   Remember to turn your tile and only go in one direction the entire time.  The directions above are drawn going clockwise.

2.  This will work with an infinite number of points, just like doing a regular Auraknot.  I have only used a 5 pointed star because it is easy for demonstration purposes.

3.  When you reach the middle, it may seem a little strange.  Just pretend like you are starting over as if it was a brand new section of Paradox.

4.  Don't worry if you make a "mistake".  This hybrid tangle is very forgiving and difficult to find the error.  Just keep going!

I hope this tutorial has provided you with some new inspiration and that you enjoy the infinite possibilities that Auraknot has to offer!

Zendala Dare #14

Welcome back everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful week.  It look's like everyone had at least a little fun with this weeks Dare.  I have to admit that when I presented you with a challenge to use a different paper I wasn't anticipating all your crazy variations.  I see that someone used a printed paper template from the internet, some painted their own paper, and a couple of you got really crafty and cut out tangle inspired papers and then glued them to the template.  Pretty nifty if you ask me.  I thought I was being adventurous by using different colors.  You guys made me look boring!

This week was a mix of work, errands, Zentangles, and dealing with the logistics of getting ready for nursing school.  Not that exciting.  The awesome part however was that my husband and I got to have our niece Avery for the weekend while my brother and sister-in-law went camping.  She has stayed overnight before, but never for TWO nights.  When I asked what she wanted to do she was emphatic that she wanted her Uncle Ben to teach her how to fish and he gladly obliged.  When I first let him know that she had made this request he didn't seem to think much of it, but you know how men are.  When he showed up on Thursday night with a pink Disney princess fishing rod and I knew he was just excited as I was.  Don't worry, he made sure to tell me that it was a quality rod by a well known manufacturer and that's why he had bought it.  Come on Ben, admit it, you wanted to be the cool uncle who made your 3 year old nieces week by buying her a pink fishing pole!

So after a night of practice casting, we headed out the next morning for the trout farm.  For the record, my husband would never normally fish at a trout farm, but I think he was worried about her first fishing impression if she didn't catch anything and I knew this was just his first step in a well laid plan of securing a permanent fishing buddy!  Three rainbow trout later, both Avery and Uncle Ben were very happy.

Zendala Dare #14

This week's template:

When I initially created this template I was a little apprehensive.  Were the areas large enough?  Was it to busy?  Too repetitive?  In the end however, I was pleasantly surprised.  This template may be one of my favorites yet.  I did a round Zendala tile and a standard Zentangle tile.  Whenever I take more than one attempt at the Dare I try to make my pieces look as different as possible without compromising the template and think that this week's tiles may be one of my most successful attempts.  What do you think?

Tangles: Amaze, Dragonair, Pearlz, 

Tangles:  Splinters (tangleation), Box Spirals,

As usual, I hope you all have a fantastic week and I can't
wait to see your amazing entries!  Please make sure to link
up below.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Cauliflower "Rice Pilaf"

I have written on this blog from time to time about dabbling in a low carb lifestyle.  Like many people I have struggled with my weight for a long time and tried just about every diet there is.  One day  I heard the firefighters talking about this new diet they were all trying called the Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson. The basics of this eating regimen are to keep carbs low, don't eat grains, don't eat processed foods, and try to move more.  Ok, ok, there's a little more to it than that but not much.  I like it because it's easy for my husband and I to follow in different situations and I rarely feel deprived.  When we stick to it, we consistently loose weight and feel great.  Like everything else it's the sticking to it part that is the challenge.  

I'm not writing this today to try to convert anybody because it may not be for you but if you are interested in sticking your toes in the low carb pool I have a great recipe for you.  My friend Chris just came up with this and it is the closest thing we have tasted to rice.  It goes great with just about anything and is easy to make so let me know what you think.  P.S.- This tastes divine even if you don't eat low carb and you can sneak some veggies in on the kids!

Who say's cauliflower can't taste good!

Cauliflower "Rice Pilaf"
Recipe by Chris Gossner

The key to this pilaf lies in the toasted almonds. The texture and flavor is what fools you into thinking this is rice. I just ate the leftovers for lunch and it was just as good as the initial meal. Enjoy!

1 Raw Head Cauliflower, run through grater on food processor
1/2-3/4 c Almonds, slivered
1/4 c Butter
1/2 c Diced Onions
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped, or a teaspoon or two from a jar
About a 1/2 c Chicken Broth, more or less
1 Teaspoon or so Dried Thyme

Toast almonds on cookie sheet (use a piece of foil underneath for ease in pouring them into pan later-and cleanup) in oven on 350 until you smell them and they are just turning brown. Watch them carefully because they will burn quickly if you leave them alone. They should only take 5 minutes or so.

In a skillet saute the onions in the butter. Add the garlic when the onions have been on for a few minutes so it doesn't burn. Add the cauliflower and stir, sauteeing for a minute or so. Add the broth a bit at a time, just enough to make it moisten up the cauliflower. Remember the 'rice' is not really rice, it will not absorb fluids on standing. Cook, stirring every so often, for 5 minutes or so, covering as much as possible. 
Add thyme, salt and pepper, almonds and serve!

Diva Challenge #78 - Auraknot

This week Rick and Maria posted the steps and named their new tangle, Auraknot.  This tangle was actually released about a week ago but they wanted to mix it up so they put out a call for people to submit names and step outs.  I've got to say, I think Auraknot was a perfect choice for this one.  

So the other night I played around with Auraknot for a little while and got some really cool results.  Its easy, versatile, and very forgiving and it's one of those tangles that easily looks impressive with just a little practice.  A few hours later I'm laying in bed and it hits me:  Could I make a hybrid of Auraknot and Paradox?  And the answer is YES, YES, YES!  It is actually super easy and very, very cool.  Here is my latest attempt for the Diva Challenge.

Tangles: Auraknot (hybrid with Ricks Paradox),

Friday, July 6, 2012

Zendala Dare #13 - Play with paper

Hello everyone!  I hope everyone had a fabulous week.  I was just looking over last weeks entries and they are all outstanding!  Every week I am more and more amazed at what everyone comes up with.  

This week I was pretty efficient and got lots of Zentangle's completed, as you will see in the Dare below.  I also had a family barbecue to celebrate Independence Day (complete with a homemade American flag piƱata for my nieces and nephew.  Yah, I'm a pretty cool aunt), and managed to complete the Diva's weekly challenge.  

Since it is the first Diva challenge of the month the Diva chooses someone's original tangle and this week it was CZT Rho Densmore.  Rho unexpectedly lost her brother-in-law a few weeks ago and asked us to create a Zentangle using her original tangle Fiore di Pietro (Peter's flower) to honor him.  Rho plans on using the images to create a book of tangles to give to her family members as a memorial.  Rho, you have my permission to use this tile.  

Tangle: Fiore di Pietro

I chose to do this style of ZIA for a few reasons.  First, I had read a lot of comments from people about this tangle saying that they were having trouble getting the circles consistent.  I find that when I have trouble with consistency, I can usual cover those inconsistencies with embellishments so I wanted to  have a lot of options to embellish this tangle in many different ways and I find using geometric shapes to separate them is an interesting and useful way to do it. Second, I just love this style.  I have several ZIA's similar to this that I display in class and they are always a huge hit.  I know it's not very traditional but it's whole lot of fun!

I forgot to post last weeks Diva challenge so I figured I would throw it in here as well.

Tangles:  Kwiet, Printemps, Dragonair, Pystyl

 The challenge was to create a Zentangle that represented home to us.  I live in the beautiful wine country of northern California so I threw in a few bunches of freeform grapes.  I included Dragonair to represent our nearby beaches, Pystyl and Kwiet to represent all the beautiful flora and fauna, and Printemps because who doesn't love Printemps?

Ok, ok, I know you all love to hear and see what I am up to but I know what you are really here for....

Zendala Dare #13 - Play with paper

Like I had mentioned in a few previous posts, the first Zendala Dare of each month will now have an added challenge.  This weeks added challenge is to have some fun playing with papers you would not normally Zentangle with.  The only rule is that you cannot use traditional Zentangle paper or tiles.  You can use scrapbook paper, stationary, your brown paper lunch sack, or old gift wrap. These are just a few ideas.   It doesn't matter, just pick something different.

First things first, here's the template:

Even though we are not going to use Zentangle tiles this week I have included the usual sizes because everyone is accustomed to tangling with tiles that size.  Just cut your paper to fit whichever you choose.

I chose this challenge for a couple reasons.  First, I love paper.  I love the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it creases, and the way it sounds when you crinkle it.  You may be a little creeped out by my description.  I don't care.  I love paper so much that I am finally ready to put our uncensored relationship out for everyone to  see.  

Second, I have ALOT of paper.  Wrapping, scrapbook, origami.  You name it, I've got it.  I collect it and rarely use it so I thought this was a great excuse.  

Third,  I have often had a theory which I have now proven to myself at least that paper plays a much more integral part in art than we may realize.  The way the paper feels, the way it accepts the ink and graphite, how it holds up to shading, are all components of the end result of our art.  Even how the paper feels plays a part. If you love the feel of it that will come out in the completed piece.  But if the paper literally rubs you the wrong way, you may end up with something much less harmonious.  At CZT training Maria told a story about how her and Rick spent a whole day at a friends studio playing with pens and paper to find just the right combo for Zentangle.  At first I thought it was a little strange, but that story makes total sense to me know.  

When I decided on this challenge a few things became clear right away.  1)  I would want to complete several tiles.  2)  I would need to set some rules for myself.  I have a bad habit, especially when it involves art, to allow too many variables.  If you are going to try something new, sometimes it is important to try many variations but at least keep some parts constant.  A while back I wanted to created 4 - 6 pieces for a portfolio and show many variations on one style.  The problem was that I used lots of different pens with lots of different color papers and in the end I just had a mess.  I would have done much better to keep part of the project constant to create some type of consistency.  So when I embarked on this weeks challenge I decided to use any paper I wanted, but only use a black Micron 01 and grey graphite to shade.  This way I could truly see how the paper affected my Zentangles.  

This week I have completed four tiles and have documented my challenges, triumphs and defeats below.

Tangle: Rick's Paradox

This paper came from a scrap pack that you can buy at any craft store.  It was a pack of odds and ends used for card making.  I chose this paper because I thought the grey would be an interesting tone on tone study with the black.  It wasn't.  I like it but it doesn't do anything for me.  I started with Paradox on the outside triangles and after that I found the whole thing so boring that I figured only something as impressive as a Paradox monotangle could save it.  I also found that my usual image transfer technique did not work very well.  The paper had a little grain and didn't care for the graphite, maybe white graphite next time.

Tangles: Lokomotive, Courant, Worms

This tile was a surprise.  I have seen patterned papers used on a few blogs and wanted to try it out.  To be honest, I thought I would hate it but I really ended up loving it.  The white pattern had an almost waxy feel but surprisingly, it didn't mess with my pen.

Tangles:  Purk, Crescent Moon, Flux

I'm sad to say, this paper was a real let down.  I bought this paper from Dick Blick based solely on its color.  It was some type of recycled rough sketch pad and I bought it in a 9 x 12 inch size and also in some crazy huge format that is like 2 x 3 feet.  When it arrived I wasn't thrilled with the feel but tried it anyway.  It was coarse, it soaks up too much ink and bleeds, and it hates graphite.  Even while I was drawing I was secretly cursing it.  I tried to love you beautiful brown craft paper, but you and I are done.  It's not me, it was definitely you.  If you buy something from my Etsy store you can try it out for yourself because now I use it as packing material.  

Tangles:  Tipple, DL Sunray, Da'rough

This was far and away my favorite.  This paper came from the same scrap pack as the grey tile.  It's a beautiful chartreuse with tiny gold flecks in it.  Based strictly on feel I thought it might be too absorbent but it worked beautifully with the ink and graphite.  Since I was completing so many tiles one of the things I really tried to accomplish was to transform the template so each piece looked different.  I think I did a good job of it on the last two tiles but I think the shocking green colored really helped this one along.  

I can't wait to see what paper's you choose this week and how they work out for you.  Please leave a comment and make sure to link your entry below.

Have a great week and happy paper foraging!



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