Ellie the Animator

11 Nov

Image

For the past couple of weeks I have been prepping for a big trip out to California for an animation conference called, the CTN Expo.  It’s a whole weekend of animation lectures, workshops, and networking cocktail hours.  This will be my first year going and I am about to burst with excitement!  

I’ve been working on building a professional site where I can post my demo reel and other animation related wonders and I am finally finished.  (I think.)

Anyway, I couldn’t think of a better bunch of people to share it with than the few of you who read my blog.  This will be the proof that I am not always cracking jokes and being silly.  I would have said “being awesome” too, but I can’t shut that off.

Without further ado I present to you Ellie the Animator!

Halloween Chex Mix

31 Oct

It’s been a crazy month!  I mean CRAZY!  My nephew turned one, my brother got married, and “The Husband” and I celebrated 5 years of being together.  I felt guilty for not finding the time to blog but I just couldn’t manage to find the time to squeeze it in.  Now everything is finally calming down a little bit before the holidays start taking up my time.

I did find some time this week to experiment in the kitchen a little bit and I came up with my own Halloween Chex Mix.

“The Husband” works at one of the best companies ever and he has a great team of people that he is working with.  He’ll come home with stories of what happened during the day or talk about some get together that is being planned and it just makes me jealous.  Then I remember that I still get the perks of going to these amazing parties.  Occasionally they’ll have Saturday morning overtime parties where the boss buys pizza and they all hang out and work together.  It’s like a more laid back work day.  I always take pity on them and bring in treats during the day like cookies or cupcakes, which then lead me sending “The Husband” in to work with treats on holidays.  I couldn’t let Halloween pass me by without doing something.  They refer to me as their “Room Mother” like those we had in elementary school.

I secretly love that.

Since “The Husband” can’t eat gluten, I do a lot of Chex mixes because they are easy and quick and the recipes are really easy to make in small batches.    Which is awesome since there are two of us and we are trying to lose weight.  A real favorite with us is the Chocolate Caramel Crunch mix.

Seriously. Look at that. It looks like Heaven from a Cereal Box.
Image Copyright by General Mills

I used this recipe for my base and made my Halloween Chex Mix.  I was told it was a real crowd-pleaser among “The Husband”s coworkers.

Halloween Chex Mix

Adapted from Chocolate Chex Caramel Crunch Recipe.

Ingredients

5 cups Chocolate Chex Cereal

3 cups mini pretzels

1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 cup candy corn

1 cup fall colored M&M candies

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

6 Tablespoons of melted butter

3 Tablespoons of light corn syrup

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

Directions

1. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and set aside.

2. In a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl stir together the cereal and the pretzels and set aside.

3. In a microwave safe bowl stir together melted butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar.  Heat in the microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes.

4. Stir the baking soda into the sugar mixture until dissolved.

5. Pour the mixture over the cereal and pretzels and stir to coat.

6. Microwave the mixture on high for 3 minutes, stirring the cereal every minute.

7. Spread the cereal on the wax paper and let cool, stirring every few minutes to keep the pieces from sticking.

8. When the cereal and pretzels are completely cool place the pieces in a large bowl and add the peanuts, the candy corn, and the M&M candies and stir until mixed.

Store in an airtight container.

Family Office Hi-jinx

18 Sep

For the past couple of months I have been working for my family’s business as the secretary.  My mom works on a lot of design and the tech stuff while my two brothers and my dad are traveling salesmen.  Or at least that’s just Dad’s cover.  I still have my theories about international espionage.

Today all five of us are in the office without the supervision of our other co-workers.  I say “supervision” because we all tend to drift to the silly and inappropriate conversation topics.  Today’s topic?  The Kate Middleton topless photo scandal.

Earlier this week I saw this photo on Pinterest and had myself quite the giggle over the pun.  I am pretty well known for my love of lame jokes and puns make the cut.  During the discussion of today’s topic I couldn’t help but think of this image and start scheming.

I decided to email my brothers and dad the picture with the subject line “Hi-Res Kate Middleton Topless Photo”.  In the text area I typed, “I thought that you might like to have this picture for all those long trips away from home.  ;)”.  Then this picture:

Ooooo, Baby!

I think the giggling while I typed might have given me away a little with my twin brother, but the bad joke paid off handsomely when the subject line caught the eye of my older brother.

Big Brah:  “No way!  How did you find this?!  Incredible!”

Me:  “I am the master of the Googles.  It obeys my every command.”  Lighting shoots out of my keyboard as further proof of my mastery.

Twin Brah: “You haven’t opened it yet, have you.”

Big Brah: “Opening now.”

I watch his face in anticipation…

And was greeted with roaring laughter!

Big Brah: “You got me, Elle.  That was pretty good.”

Will the hi-jinx end there?  Oh no.  I sent another email that says this.

“Hey guys.
I feel kind of bad that you were disappointed that you didn’t get to see Kate’s boobies in HD, so I did a little extra digging.  I didn’t find any stills, but I did find a video someone posted from their camera phone.  I thought you might like that better anyways.”

Then I added a link.  What’s at the end of that link, you ask?  Rick Astley.  Because a good old fashioned Rick Roll is always called for.

Muahahahahaha!

DIY Cupcake Stand

17 Sep

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks.  I’ve been so busy I thought that I might go out of my mind, but now I am taking a breather and getting back to my blogging.  Today marks the first day of my long-needed vacation from classes.  I get one short week.  My goal is to work my way down a list of recipes and crafts I have been wanting to do for a while, and finish everything that needs to be done for my twin brother’s wedding shower this weekend.

(We’re doing a couple’s shower.  I promise that there will be more on that next week.)

On my list of things to do is to try some “Baking for 2” recipes to share on the blog.  I figured if I am going to be making small batches of cupcakes and cookies that I might need something to display them on for some nice photos.  I am a blogger now.  I gotta make this site look legit!

So now I give you my first craft of the blog!  It’s cheap, it’s easy, it’s quick, and it’s so darn cute!  Behold the Cupcake Stand!

Supplies

E6000 Multipurpose Adhesive

1 Candlestick

1 Dessert Plate

You can find the E6000 at any hardware store, craft supply store, or the neighborhood WalMart.  It’s one of the greatest things I have ever been introduced to.  You can do just about anything with this glue.  It’s great.  As for the plate and the Candlestick; I found those at the Dollar Tree.  You can use whatever you can find as long as the plate can balance on the item you are using as a stand.

Directions

*Before getting started make sure that you read all the directions on the package for the E6000.  Find a well ventilated area to do this craft because the glue has a strong odor.

Place the dessert plate top side down on a clean surface or paper towel.

Apply a thin layer of the glue to the top of the candlestick.  A little bit of this glue goes a long way.  If you are using clear glass plates like I did, make sure that you apply the glue evenly and smoothly because if it’s messy you’ll see globs of it through the plate when it dries.  If you need to remove excess glue use a paper towel to wipe so of it off.  Be extra careful not to get it on your fingers or clothing.

Press the candlestick firmly into the very center of the bottom of the plate.

Leave it sit until the glue is completely dried.

Be sure to wash the stand before placing any food on it.

Weekend Movie Review – Paranorman

28 Aug

Image Copyright Laika Studios

This weekend I did something that I am prone to do every now and then.  I kidnapped my husband.  The ransom for his release was dinner and a movie.  Alfonso “The Husband” is a great man and can be romantic at times. The night he proposed was amazingly thoughtful and romantic. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to need that spark of romance as often as I do. I have a nagging suspicion that he’s been slowly training me to think that ordering a pizza and watching a movie while sitting on separate couches is romance.  It worries me slightly.  So occasionally I get all spiffy and tell him to get his shoes on because we are going on an adventure.  He spends the drive trying to guess where I am taking him while simultaneously pleading that it’s just Chipotle and not shopping or something equally girlie.

Sunday I got all dolled up with my new hair do to go to a bridal shower for my twin brother’s fiance.  It was an amazingly elegant and beautiful shower!  They did a great job.  On my way home I couldn’t help but think that I should take advantage of all the work I had already put in to make myself look like a total babe.  So I walked in the house, gave “The Husband” a kiss and told him that we’re going out.  Then I sashayed to the door leaving him to drool behind me.

The adventure and ransom for this week was dinner and ParaNorman.

I am going to try my best to keep the spoilers at a minimum for this, but I will just state for the record that this does contain a couple spoilers.

The both of us enjoyed this movie.  The animation is great.  Who doesn’t love a good stop motion flick?  Honestly, I think that would be an awesome job to have.  If I was more confident about my skills as an animator, I would apply to Laika.  I would get to play with dolls all day!  How awesome would that be?  Seriously.  Think about it.

I dare you to say this doesn’t look like the most fun you’ll ever get paid for.

It was a really sweet movie about daring to be yourself but it was surprisingly and extremely disturbing at points.  It’s a children’s movie and they kept throwing around words like “murder” and “burn em'”.  They weren’t talking about the zombies in the movie either.  They were talking about Norman.

One thing you need to know about this town is that they are obsessed with this spooky tale of a witch from centuries past in a way that is akin to Salem, Massachusetts.  This mean, old, ugly witch was sentenced to death for being a witch by 7 townsfolk, and when she died she laid a curse on the town that on the anniversary of her death the dead will rise and destroy the town.

The movie starts out with Norman and his family.  They really don’t appear to approve or like him much in varying degrees.  His dad is a real hard-ass and his sister is a teenage diva.  His mom is the only one that really doesn’t give him too much of a hard time.  Kind of not being supportive, but also not being mean about it.  In fact, the only member of his family who is really on the “YAY NORMAN!” train is his grandmother, who is dead, because he can talk to dead people.   On top of the lack of support at home, when Norman goes to school and gets bullied and picked on.  This kid really can’t get a break.

He’s smiling because he’s secretly called Peter Venkman when she was taking a nap.

Here’s where the spoilers start.

After the first day of school, he starts bonding (rather reluctantly) with Neil, the token fat kid with all the heart.  Neil is sweet and laid back like every kid in junior high should be but isn’t.  When Norman asks him why the bullies don’t seem to bother him, Neil responds that bullying is the natural order of things and that if Norman were bigger he would probably do the same thing.

My reaction to that comment exactly.

Wait…  What?

Now, part of me really admires that the kid being bullied is shrugging it off as if it’s no big thing.  Bravo, kid!  The only thing is, that this isn’t a real kid.  And sad as it is, people do get a lot of their opinions about the world from movies.  Even children’s movies.  Shouldn’t the message be “Bullying is bad.” and not “Meh.  It happens.”?

Now, in my pessimistic mind, I am thinking that Norman is going to go home and start pumping iron and working on making himself bigger so that he can be the bully.  His buddy says it’s cool so it’s okay, right?

Thankfully the movie does not go that route.  It kind of just glides over that comment of Neil’s entirely.

Norman starts to see visions about a curse that a witch cast centuries ago and getting warnings that the dead are coming.  He even gets this visit from a crazy uncle telling him that he has to stop the curse by reading a fairy tale.  Norman brushes him off until his ghost pops out of a toilet and tells him this crap is for real.  (I take full credit for that beautiful pun.)

No need to be ashamed, Norman. There’s one in every family.

Procrastinating like a boss, Norman heads out at the very last second to complete this task, and surprise!  He’s a little too late and hi jinx ensue.

Zombies bust out of the ground like daisies and start looking for him.  On his way into town he runs into his sister, Neil, and Neil’s brother who were out looking for him.  Of course he didn’t tell anyone that he was just going for a stroll to save the world.

Zombies chase.  People scream.  It’s funny and a little scary actually.  It’s great fun.

Then the twist!

The Zombies corner Norman while he’s searching for the answer to stop the zombies.  Because he can talk to the dead zombie “Mwahheeheh”s are no problem for him.  He soon discovers the reason these zombies were cursed.  You know that witch story the town is obsessed with?  Turns out it’s true, only with a few details missing.  Instead of the witch being old and ugly, she was actually a pretty little girl with a gift identical to Norman’s.  The zombies were her accusers and in her last moment she cursed them so that they would return to be hated and feared and punished like she was.  The accusers are remorseful and see the error of their ways and need help to end the curse.

Que Norman.

Norman tries to lead the zombies to safety so that he can talk the witch out of being mean.  In the mean time, the angry townsfolk have gathered their torches and pitchforks and are shouting for murder.  They want blood and they want it bad.

We shot Old Yeller when he started foaming from the mouth! It’s only the humane thing to do.

Obviously they did not kill Norman.  With a very passionate speech about doing what’s right and being different is okay, they all realize their mistake.  Including his dad, who gathers Norman, his sister, and the ring leader of the zombie gang into the car so they can go talk the witch out of all this madness.

When Norman gets to talk to the witch she has completely forgotten herself and is consumed by her revenge.  Norman then gives another compassionate speech while trying not to die from the lightning shooting out of her eyes and hair.  He somehow gets her to remember herself and that she was a kind little girl who was wronged.  The whole message of the speech is that people get bullied and it’s bad but that we have to be better than that and not sink to their level.  We need to be better than our bullies and not turn around and become a bully.  The little girl is finally ready to let go of her grudge and her ghost passes on.  The curse is broken and the zombies pass on too, leaving the town in peace.

Everything is hunky dory.  The town accepts Norman for who he is and he even being considered a cool kid.  His family accepts him and even his Dad tries to talk to the ghost of his mother.  It’s a sweet moment.

My thoughts on the movie.

I think, on the whole the messages, of this movie are great.  The three that stand out the most to me are:

  • Being different isn’t a bad thing, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of who you are.
  • Just because you are afraid of something doesn’t always make it bad.  You should learn the facts before you make that call.
  • Bullying happens, and if you are bullied the best thing you can do is rise above it, and not sink to your bully’s level by becoming one yourself.

Notice how I didn’t say “Bullying is wrong”?  It’s because it isn’t really a message of the story.  Sure, the people who bullied (the zombies) are punished by the person that they wronged (the witch), but movie pretty much says that she was in the wrong for retaliating.  There is a brief scene where Norman is horrified by what they did to the little girl, but the zombies look sad and say they know they were bad, and all is okay again.  They are vilified for maybe 87 seconds.  Also, I keep going back to Neil’s comment towards the beginning of the movie about how bullying is natural.  He even says it’s human nature and survival of the fittest.  It feels like a shrug off.  Bullying is just a way of life.  Not “Stop Bullying” or “Bullying is Bad”, just “Meh.  It happens.”

Don’t get me wrong.  I think all of these messages are awesome and I applaud the creators for tackling some pretty heavy subject matter.  I personally feel like it would have been stronger without the “bullying is natural” bit.  Yes, everyone gets bullied at least once in their lives.  Yes, we shouldn’t respond.  But giving bullies a free pass and kind of an excuse, makes the whole thing seem a little hollow.  In a society where bullying is a big issue, I think we should still be saying it’s not cool to be mean to someone.

Maybe the next time I get someone gettin’ all up in my grill, instead of cursing them to an eternity of zombiedom I’ll just steal all their toilet paper when they aren’t looking and make some art.

What am I going to use to wipe my ass now?

But don’t just take my word for it.  Go see it for yourself and let me know what you think.  It really is a great movie worth seeing.

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