Etched Glass – It’s this new thing I do…

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I had read before that etched glass really isn’t that hard to do, and after seeing a bevy of Pinterest posts and tutorials, I was like, yeah. I can do that!

 

In a previous post, I talked about making infused booze. I made a small batch last year, more batches this year and next year, I plan to grow it even more! But one of the things that I have been struggling with is how to make the bottles a bit more… personal. Not just add a gift tag and move on. That’s when it hit me. Etched. Glass. Booze. Bottles.

 

I had made a cranberry infused vodka this year besides the Limoncello, so I immediately knew I needed to do a Vader themed etched bottle to match the awesome red-colored booze. (Most things relate to Star Wars in my brain. True fact.)

 

Now since I don’t have a cool Silhouette die-cut machine or even a Cricut for that matter, I had to figure out a way to make some cool images to be stenciled onto the bottle. My solution? Painter’s Tape, exacto knife and fine tip permanent marker. Oh, and the interwebs.

 

NOTE: You could probably use masking tape but since I had painter’s tape on hand, I decided to use it. Though painter’s tape might be better in the end because it isn’t quite as tacky as masking tape. (You want there to be a good seal on the tape for your design but you don’t want it to leave a whole bunch of glue on the glass you’ll have to remove later)

 

Basically, I made sure the bottle was very clean, added strips of painter’s tape to the bottle on the section I wanted to etch, created my template for my stencil (I actually found a cool profile image of Vader’s head and traced it free hand until I got the details just right)

 

I used my exacto knife to cut out the image from my paper and then traced that image onto the tape on the bottle – that’s where that fine tip permanent marker comes in to play. After that, I cut out the image with my blade that I had just traced and removed the strips of tape from the bottle until I had my image ready for etching cream! (I added the alcohol back in so you can really see the detail on the silhouette I made)

Next came the easiest part of the all, the actual etching. I used basic etching cream I picked up at Michael’s for around $12.00 – I used a coupon so it was a little cheaper but that little bottle of cream will last you through many a project. I know because I have already made around 6 glasses and etched 3 bottles and I still have plenty of cream left. (The glasses are a gift the recipients haven’t gotten yet. đŸ˜› They will be in a later post showing off a different stencil technique!)

 

The etching cream gets placed on the bottle with a paint brush  (be sure not get the etching cream on anything as it is caustic and will burn a hole through whatever you have left it on! It is indeed strong stuff!) and leave it on for about 5 minutes. (yes, I made a couple bottles at once)

 

After 5 or 10 minutes are up, you just rinse the cream off under warm water, remove the tape and boom! Etched glass bottles, and in my case, etched glass bottles that are Empire approved!

 

 

(That larger bottle will be home to a cranberry/vanilla vodka infusion – more red Empire love!)

I just now need to figure out how I can make blue and green booze so I can make some Jedi approved infusions…

One of my favorite things: My Star Wars cross-stitch

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These are a couple of my most favorite things I made this year. My Empire and Rebellion cross-stitches. I love them so much, they even have prominent placement on my mantle.

The pattern comes from the sweet little Etsy shop Wee Little Stitches. I recommend the shop and have bought at least 10 patterns and made most of them but these two? They are my favorite.

You can just make them out in the pic of my Merry Sithmas mantle (yes, I said Sithmas. Yes, I made the light-up Death Star on canvas too) I think I may have some sort of Star Wars problem…

Infused Booze – AKA How I Spread Christmas Cheer This Year

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A reputation. I have one.

 

My friends and family know that I have a love affair with cocktails. Delightful, wonderful cocktails. I am a believer that cocktails are not meant to be chugged, but instead sipped, enjoyed, savored.

 

I also love taking booze and infusing flavors into it – flavors that I love: vanilla, strawberries, cherries, you name it. I also love giving presents. So, for Christmas this year, I decided to give friends Limoncello.

 

The basic recipe I followed was from Martha Stewart – except, seriously, trying to find high proof vodka in Washington is freaking ridiculous. I was lucky to find a 100 proof vodka in the liquor store period! (liquor stores… bah! I miss going into MOST stores in CA and getting whatever booze I wanted, when ever I wanted!!!)

 

I did buy the the 100-proof vodka to use in the recipe but I also got a bottle of Everclear to use too. Now I know, Everclear. The stuff that uh, people drink while warming their hands over a fire barrel. The label actually says don’t drink too much of it because it will mess up yer innards.  I thought well, it’s high-proof and a grain alcohol… let’s try it.

 

(And actually, I think the Everclear worked out better! But I will get to that part in a sec…)

 

So how easy is this recipe? It’s basically lemons, booze, a jar, simple syrup and time. I started making the booze right after Thanksgiving, so then I had plenty of time to let the booze rest, get everything bottled and hand them out in early December.

 

I bought myself 22 organic lemons, collected as much of the peel as possible (NO PITH! That horrible white stuff is what will cause your infusion to go bitter!), and added them to jars; one jar with a full bottle of vodka  and one jar with a full bottle of Everclear.

 

Here is what the infusion looked like right at the start: (The booze just changes color SO FAST. It’s incredible!)

So why did I want to devote an entire post to this process? Because the world needs to see the difference between the booze types, that way when YOU make YOUR limoncello, you can decide which booze route you want to go…

 

Both the jars looked so similar but the minute I added the simple syrup, the entire consistency changed: Look!

The Everclear Limoncello (on the left) was almost… creamy? The color was so much richer and prettier and well, it tasted, in my opinion, much more delightful than the vodka version. (Ryan dug the vodka better, but whatever. We all know *I* am right. đŸ˜‰ )

 

And just for comparison sake, here are both the vodka (on the right) and Everclear (on the left) Limoncellos side by side:

Although, once the vodka Limoncello sat and mellowed in its gift bottle a bit, it did look creamier, like the Everclear version:

Doesn’t it look tasty? In fact, the Limoncello was such a hit, I ended up making creamy Limoncello too. But that’s a whole other post for later…

Lousy with Christmas Ornaments!

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I decided to make ornaments for our tree this year, you know, because working full-time, and life in general wasn’t busy enough. (And don’t forget, 2 product launches for me at PopCap and Ryan dealing with an update to the Xbox dashboard. Next time, I am making holiday flasks instead of ornaments…)

Thing is, it really isn’t hard to make cool, unique ornaments. In fact, the kind of ornament making I did  was easy. Stupid easy. Like I got to sit around and watch Desperate Housewives on Netflix easy.

I made two kinds of ornaments this year: solid colored (acrylic paint) and glittered ornaments.

Why these two kinds? Well, I have become rather enamored with Pinterest (I know, how girly of me!) and I have found two rather interesting tutorials (and so many pictures from other blogs!) showing how blindingly easy it was to make some cool, custom colored ornaments.

Tutorial one: Painted ornaments: I love this tutorial because it showed you could even use flocking powder as an option to further push the ornament creativity envelope: Little Grey Fox

Tutorial two: Glitter ornaments: This tutorial was what inspired me to do some bitchin’ glitter ones: Greenbeans Crafterole

Although I do want to mention, in the Greenbean’s Crafterole tutorial, she mentioned using a specific floor polish for the ornaments that I have no idea if it is even available in Washington (and hell no am I going to Walmart to look for it!) So, I used Mop & Glo floor polish and it worked just as well. (The image is a bit dark because I was too lazy to turn on a light. Yea, go ahead and judge)

Also, I should mention that if you want to do such ornaments, BUY YOUR CLEAR GLASS ORNAMENTS EARLY! Last time I went to Joann’s, they had no more ornaments for sale and Michaels was looking rather supermodel thin when it came to their clear glass ornament selection. I am pretty sure by now, they are all out. BUT, if you buy some for next year, go early, get your coupons and buy, buy, buy!
So how did my ornaments turn out? Take a look at the final product!

Here are the acrylic painted ones. (Yes, grey. BAD. ASS. And so shiny! I plan on making more painted ornaments next year using oranges and blues.)

My vast array of glitter ones! (please note, the bright green colored ornaments are referred to in the house as “Xbox green.”)

My Xbox controller button ornament set:

And finally, what’s Christmas without a Death Star ornament? (I especially love that it is glittery! Like a damn disco Death Star!) – I used a glass paint pen to make the circle and the line that runs the circumference of the ornament.

The Death Star. Now in cake plate form!

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I have these… ideas, every once in a while. Dangerous, I know but anyway, one day when I was at a ceramic paint-your-own-thingamabob-type place, I had what alcoholics call a “moment of clarity.”

I had wanted to paint a cake stand you see, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do ON the cake stand. (besides eventually put cake on it, of course)

Should it be all one color? Kinda boring. Should I paint a design? But of what? Then the moment happened.

Death mother-effing Star.

The top is round, and is perfect for such a painting project – especially for someone who lacks any real skill with a paint brush.

I used a pumpkin carving template I found on the interwebs for reference (not as a stencil, just to look at. All the work on the plate was all free-hand and done with my human hands. Robot hands aren’t allowed in ceramic shops) and went to town. It took me a total of about 4 hours to completely paint (I put on MANY coats of paint in the hopes of making it as even as possible) the entire piece. Now, please be gentle. I am NOT an artist, this isn’t an exact rendering. It’s a freaking cake stand, so yea, it ain’t perfect!

Here is the cake stand during the painting process – which was a long and rather matte process:

It’s NOT a trap!

Here is the cake stand in its finished glory, all post-fired and pretty damn spectacular:

Let them eat Sith cake!

I am pretty proud of my cake stand… but what cake should I make first? Devil’s food seems appropriate…

Casual Games vs. Hardcore Games – Why can’t we all just get along?!

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So I was listening to IGN’s Game Business Show Podcast and there was a brief mention about Casual Games in it that compelled me to respond. Feel free to listen to the podcast here to hear exactly what the gents had to say. It wasn’t bad per se but it did cause me to end up posting this rather long comment on G+ that well, I felt I needed to save for my own posterity and repost on my blog – if to not only be sure I stay committed to posting on this damn thing.

(I left this comment on Gary Whitta’s G+ feed btw)

“I appreciate the mention about the casual game space but honestly, until people stop claiming that casual games aren’t real games, real discussions about the industry won’t happen. That goes for everyone: game developers/publishers of casual titles, traditional video game devs/pubs, players, and video game journalists too.

The causal game devs who are trying to push the envelope of the genre should be applauded and respected by those as a whole in the industry of video games. Looking at the numbers Raptr released today, it seems like the hardcore players are starting to indulge in that casual fix more often than ever before. I can hope this means that casual games will be taken more seriously and get less flak – why does loving a casual or Facebook game have to be such a dirty little secret?

For every person who says that a casual game player isn’t on the same level as a hardcore player, I wish I could share the messages I get when our game goes down. The language and attitude rival any Xbox LIVE CoD match I’ve been in. And these are from housewives and retirees a lot of the time! Just because a game is short is easy to play, doesn’t mean it isn’t any less intense, enjoyable or competitive than a full title on the 360.

Maybe casual games aren’t as sexy because they don’t have the big marketing budgets that something like Gears has – or those big budgets are used to attract more mainstream marketing avenues that appeal to their playerbase (Words with Gaga, anyone?) Or maybe their “cute” style is what draws the non-gamers in. It isn’t threatening like a 360 title, where there is either the geek who has never touched a woman stigma attached to it or the snobbish video game player elitist attitude of “I only plays *REAL* games” and will tell you that *your* casual games are nonsense.

If a game is fun, cute, easy to explain/play, doesn’t make a player feel stupid if they don’t get the mechanic at first and/or players can play it someplace they already feel comfortable (Facebook), then why is that such a bad thing?

The low barrier to entry for casual/Facebook games means that people who didn’t get to be a part of the digital age like my generation (people like my mom) can now enjoy what we’ve known all along; That games are awesome! And whether they are 5 minute “time wasters” or 4 hour stints of epic gameplay, it really all boils down to the same fact. Games are games are games are fun. The day ANYONE – a 32-year old mom, a grandpa, a 20-year old dude, an 8-year old girl – can say “I enjoy video games” without it being some slight to the secret society of the REAL gamer or something that is still considered odd, will indeed be a happy day for me.”