Monday, November 29, 2010

oh yeah!

i forgot to mention that leff worked his butt off this weekend so that the rakkadeer website would be live before urban craft uprising! (thanks, leff!) we were going for "70's fever dream".

anyway, the site will be a place to see what's up with me career and project wise. why not check it out/add it to your reader/etc?

on the subject of ucu, if you can't find my table, NUMBER 66!! with the map, just look for my newly printed "jessica fletcher's war council" shirt.

it won't be for sale but i'll probably be wearing it on sunday. hope to see you there! (you can get a preview of my wares in my etsy shop or at stupid f--king awesome.)

back to a regular monday

edit:  heya, not martha readers! (megan, i'm glad that the marmite gravy worked!  sorry that the other was so salty!)

leff and i (ok, i) had planned a big day out on the wed before thanksgiving that included the harry potter exhibit at pacsci, cashing in my gift certificate for a movie at a matinee, the picasso exhibit at sam and then claiming some free crepes at unicorn (they used one of leff's photos, i think?). but none of this was to be as it snowed less than two inches in seattle.

yeah, i laugh at the sheer stupidity of it too.

suffice it to say, leff's been at the rakkaleff homestead since tuesday of last week. it's a good thing that we get on so well!

ah, thanksgiving. that happened without a hitch despite the power threatening to go out.

we finally finished all of the leftovers on sunday.

as you are no doubt aware given my incessant nattering about it,  urban craft uprising is THIS WEEKEND!  the milk king printed up my banner (that leff designed and that a had cleaned up the "rabbit ears" image for).  i got it on saturday.  isn't it the most wonderfully ridiculous thing you've ever seen?!

this past weekend i also started working on holiday baking.  here's a set of three cookies that i'm mailing to my favorite euroguys!  lego bricks,


and cat bus cookies!

they're all orange butter cookies except for the cat buses which are chocolate orange butter cookies.  fancy!

time for me to finish the little piddling things that i have to do before ucu.  clouseau has promised to help.

by that, he means, he's going to meow at me until i stop working and play string with him.

oh yes!  the last contest in "celebration" of my booth (#66!) at urban craft uprising starts today! click over for details on how to win these two paintings and two cards!

if you're in the seattle area, please stop by and say hi to me at urban craft uprising! i'd love to meet you and chances are i'll have some free weird candy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

UCU Interview + Card Giveaway!

I've got a short interview up at the Urban Craft Uprising blog. I'm also giving away these five cards at their site. (You have to comment on the UCU blog post to be entered.)

I'm afraid that it's only open to U.S. residents as you have to pick the cards up at my table during UCU.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Butterstick and Erasers Contest

In no way related to travel or the U.K., I'm starting a new contest today! Enter to win these two Stupid F--king Awesome paintings!

Details here!

uk trip-- day 8-- return to the states

do you know how lucky leff and i are? we are incredibly lucky people. want to know why? we were able to share a private car with kev to heathrow!

aside from lucking out on the ground transportation, it was still a miserable morning as we bid goodbye to groc (we miss you, grockles!(and kev and shed and jens and pip!)) and headed to l'aeroport. sigh... it was all so very depressing.

still, our driver was fantastic! i don't know how he copes with the traffic in and around heathrow every day though. it would drive me mad even if i was adept at driving on the left hand side of the road!

he was also very kind. when he heard that we'd not seen windsor castle before, he took a very minor detour so we could get a glimpse! i was on the opposite side of the car so i only have this photo of leff taking a picture of windsor castle. how meta.

he managed to get some nice shots, however.

(leff's photo)

(leff's photo)
(leff's photo)

we arrived at heathrow four hours before departure. everything went smoothly even though i set off the metal detector (i'd left my camera in my pocket like a dumbass.) and had to submit to wanding and the new style of thorough pat down.

regarding the new style: the lady was very kind and quick. we talked about how she couldn't believe that some people still try to get full sized liquids through on their carry ons. aside from the invasiveness, it wasn't terrible but remember, this was in the u.k. your mileage may vary in the u.s. (*eyeroll at tsa*)

we were in terminal one so we had some breakfast? lunch? (i'd completely lost track of what time it was by this point in the trip.) at caffe nerd, picked up a few items at boots (ploughman's sandwich for the plane, ftw!) and spotted a seagull.

we arrived in iceland with no complications but, unfortunately, the closer you get to the states, the more annoying everything gets.

we heard the queue for the plane to seattle before we even saw it. as i said to leff after we bought some more skyr and icelandic candy, "welcome to the states".

leff and i filled out our customs form while waiting for boarding to start.( we only had to fill out one form as a family. domestic partnership didn't cause a problem!)

what was a problem, however, was loading americans onto a jet.

(leff's photo)

god, can you just take my word for it? it took for fucking ever. and then on the flight back the guy in front of us didn't shut up for seven fucking hours! i ask you, who has enough to say to talk for seven fucking hours?!

welcome back to the states, indeed.

i'll skip the moaning about my fellow citizens (although i'll tell you this: i've had very minimal contact with them since returning. i'm afraid that i'll punch someone.) and recap a few more things about the uk/resettling in the us.

leff and i were able to bring our trip, including round trip airfare for two, in at under $2400. not bad for a ninth anniversary trip, eh? (ha! none of you knew about that, did you? yeah, we're rather private about a lot of our lives.)

anyway, how was it possible for us to spend so little? well, the main thing was having wonderful, wonderful friends who let us stay with them! (thanks again, groc and kev!) we also watched icelanair's site like hawks looking for the lowest price possible. (we were very lucky and got two round trip tickets for less than the price of one!) these tickets are usually in the off or shoulder seasons. but if you have an open mind and a thick jumper, november in the uk can be awesome!

other tips? eat food from groceries instead of restaurants. (take advantage of the 2 pound deal (a sandwich, crisps and drink for 2 pounds!) that most offer.) order train tickets in advance. get the day pass on the tube or, if you're in london for longer than four days, spring for the oyster card.

speaking of rail tickets, this is the stack that we generated using first great western.

keep in mind that it's for two people going to and from four locations in four days. still, some of the tickets were kept by the turnstyles. basically, what i'm saying is this: it's a lot of ticketage.

we've started incorporating our tourist items. it's not hard really as we bought mainly food and postcards. i've managed to find a nice place for my armistice poppies and icelandic licorice box.

we'll probably end up framing some maps (tube, cardiff city, cardiff castle) as 1) they were very useful. 2) they're attractive. 3) it doesn't look overtly touristy at a glance. (we don't want to be those "pier one" people. you know, "look at my tat from *enter country*. i travel!" 'cause it's barfy.)

we received more stamps in our passports from changing terminals in keflavik than we did from being in the uk for six days.

jet lag was much worse on this end than it was in the uk. (we also had to contend with the end of daylight savings time. joy.) i'm still stuck on eastern standard time but it's ok since i'm getting a lot of work done.

i *am* glad to be back with the cats and my paints (how freakin' beatrix potter of me!).

however, one very weird thing happened: leff and i became homesick for the uk the minute we got to heathrow. this has never happened to either one of us. usually, at some point in even the most enjoyable trip, we both realize that we'd rather be at home working. not this time. i think that we could be moderately happy (which is really all we strive to be) living in the uk.

that being said, while i would love to live in london, i might actually be happier living in cardiff.

yes, we've started saving for another trip overseas. hopefully it will soon be a permanent one. i wonder if the cats need passports...

next monday i'll return to my regularly scheduled program. although, if things go according to plan, i'll have plenty to write about. please check back soon!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

uk trip -- day 7-- bath

after two days of rest my feet had healed enough for me to tackle a trip to bath.

although i can still hear kev disagreeing with me... heh.

once again, leff, groc and i set off on our great british railway adventure of aught diggety ten. (please see the cardiff post for our first foray into "far flung" britannia.) we had originally hoped to include stonehenge on this journey as it's so close to bath but 1) that would've required a car. (we don't do tour buses if at all possible.) 2) leff hasn't ever driven in the uk and was a bit nervous about it. 3) neither groc nor i are licensed to drive in any country (so we were no help).

still, bath would prove to have enough attractions to fill the entire day if not an entire week.

once we had left the station groc noticed this ad and told me that it reminded him of me.

in the "100 portraits to paint" sense, not in the "only months to live" way. (regular readers of this blog will know that he was referring to the 120 small scale mixed media paintings that i completed in the month between our california and uk trips. yep, it was insanely intense but my current 365 project was completed 2 months ahead of time + i have stock for my table at urban craft uprising.)

have you seen the bath giraffe?

now you have.

bath is a a georgian city that is chock full of neoclassical buildings. it's distinctly beautiful but i would expect nothing less of an unesco world centre.

what was surprising to me was that in the midst of all this history and charm, there was still a coolness factor. i mean, hell! there was an entire window display of momiji kokeshi!

that was certainly not something that i expected to find.

here are two photos of quintessentially british things that we saw on our way to the center of town. the wonderful, and i do mean, wonderful (as it saved my neck a few times!) reminder to look right while crossing the street.

also, the "arms akimo" crossing guy which works so well graphically!

but let's get to one of my favorite places on this entire trip. (it may actually be one of my favorite places that i've ever visited in my entire life.) the roman baths!

of course i haven't set this up properly. if i were a good blogger, you'd have a photo of the exterior of the building right about here. but, no, i've jumped right into the funerary art that's included in the museum section. you can deal with it, right? no? tough. click the link, kiddo.

speaking of funerary art, the roman bath museum has some absolutely fabulous examples.

i'm fairly certain that the mask did not belong to this poor fellow.

several other pieces were part of the temple complex to sulis minerva. check out this gorgon!

it's stone that will turn you to stone!

also part of the temple finds is this exquisite head of minerva herself.

leff has a photo of her "brainpan" if you're interested in seeing how she was cast. (i'm thinking lost wax but i could be wrong.)

bath was known as aquae sulis during roman times. here's a man from that ancient town.

i think he might've looked at the gorgon. also, he's funerary, of course.

this mosaic, however, is not part of a burial site.

while the museum is stellar, let's be honest, we were there to see the great bath. this reconstructed roman was a reminder to hurry up and head to the water!

i literally gasped when i saw the great bath the first time.

it's been the setting of quite a few of my dreams ever since i saw a documentary of the place when i was a child. (that's an embarrassing thing to note but it might help you understand why i was so desperate to visit the site.)

while working your way to the level of the great bath, you will pass the sacred spring.

it's wonderfully warm here so if you're visiting in november (as we did) make sure to stick around,warm up and enjoy the coppery hue.

and here's the money shot with bath abbey in the background.

i included deery luther for some variety. ok, also as non titillating fan service. what? i'm not above that from time to time.

do you see the chap in the right hand alcove?

he's one of the roman reenactors and he gave me quite a start! he was sitting so quietly that i assumed that he was a mannequin of some sort. when he moved, i jumped and blurted out "oh! i didn't realize that you were real!" he just looked at me sadly and said all deadpan "i'm beginning to wonder if i am." haha! (i really miss british humor.)

did i hear you say that you wanted videos of the steamy water? you're in luck! i have plenty of them!

i also have a photo of two more romans

and a picture of two guys pretending to dive into the bath that is taken from the wrong angle.

i know that i've been a bit flip about the bath in this post. that's just due to the fact that i can sense the end of the recaps. i honestly could've spent another three hours at the baths (leff and i are already planning another trip back!) but 1) groc would've killed me (heh). 2) we were cutting it close time wise. we were meeting pip in the abbey courtyard in, oh, five minutes? when we dashed into the pump room to try the mineral water.

don't believe what people tell you about the taste of the bath water. it's actually not that bad! it's a bit warm and a bit coppery but, other than that, it's just water. i didn't detect any sulfur or dirty sock overtones like i'd been warned that i would.

(if you haven't had enough of my photos and video of the roman bath, check out leff's video compilation at vimeo. he has footage of lots of things that i didn't cover here. (i know. it doesn't seem possible, does it?) it's really quite good!)

the three of us almost collided with pip in the courtyard. this would be because pip somehow managed to sneak up in front of us. he's a ninja, our pip. a freakin' british ninja.

pippilotta only had a short time for lunch so we found a great little pub and annoyed the people who were upstairs with us.

pip even posed for his book cover. (sepia version!)

sauce packets were opened!

and we all ate some very british pub food. i had a veg bake (not pictured) while leff went for the ploughman's lunch

and pip and groc both had bangers and mash. um, on separate plates.

after bidding pip goodbye in the abbey courtyard, leff, groc and i headed to the abbey proper.

flying buttresses!

amazingly, none of us burst into flames once we'd entered the building. i'm *very* glad that we didn't because i would've missed the sheer grandeur and beauty of this place! also, you know, burning sucks.

here's video of the east window and ceiling that leff shot just so you can get an idea of the scale and ornateness of the place.

james montagu is entombed in one of the transepts.

and there is luscious stained glass everywhere.

i wish that we'd been able to attend an evensong to hear this incredible organ!

bath abbey is so ornately decorated

that a short rest in the pews is required.

but even that doesn't really give you a break from ornamentation as all the ends of each bench have different carved animals.

groc has more examples, if you're interested.

we spent almost two hours in the abbey. so after taking a picture of a roman who was really fake (and groc, who wasn't)

it was time for tea! CREAM tea! here's groc being mother and pouring me some earl grey.

have you ever had a cream tea? it is deeeelicous! scones are liberally covered with clotted cream which is then topped with strawberry jam!

i'm *so* incredibly grateful that this isn't readily available in the states because i would eat it at every available opportunity and clog my arteries beyond repair. that being said, a cream tea every now and then is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

there are even cupcakes available next door. (not that i care but i posted this picture for those of you who do.)

on the way back to the train station, we passed a shop that neatly encapsulated a small portion of our vacation.

yep, the stig and doctor who. do you see the dalek? YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE DALEKS!

the train back was rather uneventful, if sad, as it was our last rail excursion while in the uk. one nice thing: groc loaned us his portable video machine and we watched "trashbat". (although, that's not the name of the show, is it?)

once back at kev's we watched hacker and iain on cbbc.

before heading to the oracle for semi french food at cafe rouge with groc and kev.

kev had to dash back to the flat after dinner to find his passport (he was heading to chicago the next morning) so groc, leff and i took a short cut through the oracle, saw some bemustached mannequins

and headed to saisbury's one last time where i finally got a picture of the stig celebration cake that had been making me laugh all week.

you see, in the states, it's almost as if we don't know the true identity of this cake. heh.

heading back to kev's, we heard st mary's bells for the first time.

and grew quite melancholy as it was our last night in the uk.

a few more little info crumbs:
  • on the train to bath, leff couldn't figure out why he kept staring at the girl in the seat behind us. this was because i was wearing almost the exact same outfit as she was! ha! in the uk my sense of style WORKS!
  • groc eventually found kev's passport after we all searched for it for about two hours *whew*
  • if you buy a lot of british candies, drinks, condiments and pickle, you WILL have to borrow a bag in which to pack them. *sheepish*

in tomorrow's recap we, regrettably, head back to the states. windsor castle! heathrow (again)! one last day of this stuff and we're back to normal posts!