Monday, March 23, 2015

AM~Erica Campaigns to Change Direction

So anyway...

Big things are happening. Important things.

With MY OWN STRUGGLES, I have felt called to become an advocate, in the field & personally, for mental health & suicide awareness moving toward prevention.

Today something important is beginning.
The Campaign to Change Direction!

Today, I have been asked to show I know the 5 signs of mental illness onset.

I know the signs

These signs are very important! If you or someone you know has been experiencing one or more of the 5 signs, I urge you to find help NOW!

I want to take this moment to urge you to also learn the 5 signs, know them, take the pledge, as I did, that you know the signs.

I would like to ask you to join the campaign...

After you take the pledge, take a selfie holding up 5 fingers to show you know the signs. Tag it with #ChangeMentalHealth. Then, ask others to take the pledge, too. Next, post it on all of your social media accounts. Be ready to talk about it...mental health AND the signs.

A personal visual of the signs - do they look or feel familiar?

Think of it this way:
If you learn CPR, you would see someone who is in distress & could use what you know. If you knew their signs & knew there's something you could do, would you just watch them suffer? Would you tell them to get over it? Would you make them feel bad about their distress?
Would you step in & do what you could to save their life until you could get them professional help?

Same thing with these signs.
If you know these signs & see someone in emotional distress...would you just stand by & tell them to get over it, or do you step in & get them to a place so that professional help can take over?

Let's get this rolling!! This is so very important!!
One in nearly every 5 people suffer from mental illness. This is about 42.5 MILLION Americans. And the conditions are more than likely diagnosable AND treatable! And it could be anyone at anytime.

If you see these changes in someone close to you...take care of them. They are in a blurred reality right now.

If you see these in yourself, I am so proud of you. Please find help!

Let's break the stigma & help this campaign explode! It might change, even save, a life, a relationship, a bank account, a job.
This campaign is THAT important.

You're move. What do you plan to do?

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Saturday, March 21, 2015

AM~Erica Giving a Proper Introduction

So anyway...

It's been a week since Planet Comicon...and I'm still thrilled we got to go & take it all in. And I'm still remembering our experience mostly fondly.

If you remember, I went to Planet Comicon in my long-awaited steampunk outfitted character. And she has been a two(ish)-year project in the making.

I wanted to take a moment to focus on how my brain works & where she came from. At least I'll try...

A couple of years ago, shortly after I discovered Pinterest for myself, I started following someone who had these amazing pins on a board called "Steampunk." I was so curious about it because the pins were intricate, beautiful, spectacular...and I was quite drawn in. So, I went straight to her board to see what other visuals she was providing for inspiration. And I, then, became inspired by this thing called "Steampunk."

As I looked into it (because you all know I research when I find something new to take in), I found it was really from a sci-fi genre of literature, mostly based on the Victorian/Old West times, where the machines & beyond ran off of steam power. And, there are several of the storylines that lean toward a post-apocalyptic time of steam power. There have been movies with the same type of visuals, even TV shows & cartoons...
And I was hooked.

When I read something, I have an idea in my head, but it's true visuals that spark my imagination. I'm a visual learner. So, I started going thru other pins on Pinterest based on this, even Google images. The things I found were awe-inspiring, beautiful, crazy, intricate, and so creative in how those who have created their own characters took the genre to another level.

I could do that.

At some point, I came across some artwork. That's pretty wild, too. But there was one particular body of work from an artist that kept standing out to me. It was from the hand & mind of Brian Kesinger. Not only is he an artist, but he's even worked on Disney productions! I found that out later. But I really discovered him because of Victoria & Otto...along with his Tea Girls. (check out his work HERE)

Here is Victoria & Otto.
Though Otto is depicted much larger in other artworks,
I loved how their coming together is shown...made me think of T'luluh & Carlow.

This is Brian Kesinger's "Earl Grey" Tea Girl.
He uses mixed media of ink and tea. Love it.
Also, I wanted to use Earl Grey for my Star Trek geekery reasons.

I was so taken with his lovely & precious idea of the companionship between the lady & her octopus (which has been made almost the Steampunk Mascot), and along with the lovely imaginings of the non-Victoria "Tea Girls", my mind began to swirl...the cogs were turning, and the steam machine of my brain was warming up & really got going!

More of the steampunk tie to tentacles have been to much of the cephalopod types, including the creatures of Cthulhu & the Kraken. Between all of these mind started trying to put things together.

I loved the tie to the octopus companionship, as shown by Brian, so I went with that. I also began looking at what it would take to start building a steampunk outfit. Holy Cannoli! The money that can go into some of this stuff is crazy!! I don't have that kind of money laying around to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars to put together something even just beginner. So I had to make the cogs of brain-workings work harder as I flipped the lever to deliver more steam to the thinking process...

As I tried to find pieces, I was working on a name & a backstory. Her name, T'luluh, is a form "Cthulhu" that I found intriguing. And, it's my own spelling. I'm sure most of you are shocked. Her last name, Poulpe', is French for "octopus". Then I wanted to keep it kind of classy, so I gave her the title of "Lady." So, I started to put together "Lady T'luluh Poulpe'" for the steampunk universe.

Now, I don't remember exactly what order many of my pieces came into my possession, but if you remember, I had just enough things to do an early test run of my character. So, I unveiled a very rough first outing (although she looked quite put together) at our church's Trunk-or-Treat promotion table. (reminder HERE)

But she was definitely still a work in progress. It wasn't the hair I wanted for her. She needed to be more tentacle-y...and so I really wanted a dreadlock 'do for her. Plus...she still needed a companion! An octopus...DUH! So, I began finding T'luluh a companion. I was looking for the right adoption, and it needed a perfect name...

As I started researching names for her new pet, I finally came across the name "Carlow." I was pretty drawn to it, then found out it's an Irish name (well, that's fitting) for "quadruple lake." It's totally a water name! Perfect! Well...if he's Irish, he needs a type of Irish last name...because we all know I'm giving him a last name. Amm-i-rite? Still along the lines of tentacles, and since T'luluh was the Cthulhu portion, he got the Kraken.
If you ever see the word "craic" (pronounced much like "crack"), it's Irish for "fun." So, Carlow's last name would be "McKcraic'n."

And then I did a mail-order adoption thru (the) Amazon. I found him! And he's adorable!

Carlow's "adoption" pic

Plus, I found the perfect hair for T'luluh, I went to thrift stores & found the perfect skirt, I was gifted my jewelry & goggles, a halloween corset on clearance, gifted shoes, hand-me-over/down under skirt, thrifted blouse & over vest, and some clearance tights put together with the magic of modern safety pins. Oh! And the surge to get this all together when we found out we were going to Planet Comicon...on Pi Day!! (Reminder HERE for more photos, too) My entire outfit may have cost, including the adoption of Carlow, about $40.

T'luluh & Carlow made some Steampunk friends at Planet Comicon.
Could have found so many more! Next time!!!

And I had to share that I put only one picture, at first, onto Instagram with a headshot of T'luluh & Carlow. I did tag it with #PlanetComicon. It was crazy that I got one of the artists with a booth there find it & say she saw me there & loved the outfit! WHAT?? I was so blown away. And then several other artists found it & liked it, too. So awesome! (I did add more pics on Instagram later.)
Of course I tagged Brian Kesinger in it...he's one of the biggest inspirations for the whole thing.

I did share a collage on Brian's PUBLIC FACEBOOK PAGE (and tagged him on Twitter: @briankesinger). There have been other steampunk pages share the photo from there, too!
Holy Cannoli!

Even with all of that, T'luluh & her story are still a work in progress. I hope to do something with it in the future, but unsure how that looks at the moment. But when it involves continuing her father's work, how her mother passed, and the search for a sunken airship...and maybe even know it's gotta be good!

Then, I hope to meet Brian Kesinger one of these days...well I hope T'luluh & Carlow get to meet him. He inspired their existence.

And I'm looking forward to another chance for T'luluh & Carlow to show up somewhere.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

AM~Erica Took in a Wee Bit o'the Irish

So anyway...

Yesterday was one of the biggest international holidays. It's a religious holiday that has become quite secular. And it's a holiday that comes out of the Emerald Isle...but has been turned into an insane spectacle in the United States. This shouldn't be a shock.

Only if you live in a cave would you probably have no idea that yesterday was, in fact, St. Patrick's Day.

Parades breaking out everywhere, folks dressing like leprechauns & crazy people in all green, downing corned beef & cabbage with a green beer...


Oh! And it's a day when everyone seems to find Irish heritage in them, whether it's there or not.

I do come from some Irish decent. This honestly shouldn't surprise anyone.

And I am quite proud of the Irish that runs in my veins.

Also, I do try to always tweak what foods we consume & how to dress as part of a more authentic celebration. I have yet to take in a parade. I try to catch the big KC one when it's aired on TV, but haven't been able to work going.
(Hey, Dad...maybe we should consider being in it for the Shanahans? Just a thought.)
Part of how the parades started was when Irish immigrants used the day, in New York, as a political statement. They were looked down upon & they wanted to show their pride in their people...and to show that they were people, too.

I have been having several conversations with people who have been going thru some of my struggles (reminder HERE), as well as those who have loved ones they have lost or who are struggling. Not sure what's in the air, but it seems to be a lot...or...more people are willing to step out to discuss it. Between that being a little overwhelming (in a good way), and then reminiscing my Irish heritage thru my grandmother...I had a great wave of emotion come over me. It's been really difficult for me to do regular running lately, and I'm behind. But I just needed to run. So much on mind, it needed my mind cleared. I was not fully prepared or fueled properly, but I needed the run. So, to lift my spirits a bit more, of course I needed to put together an Irish-inspired cosTUTUme that I had planned to wear for an Irish race...that I never got to run due to schedules.

Yeah...I did a short run around the neighborhood like this. And, it did help. I did feel better. Good thing, I had food to prepare!

Now then, you know I had to go as all out as possible while I celebrate...even if it's by myself.

I did begin the day, of course, with coffee. I even saved enough to enjoy an Irish Coffee:

Isn't it beautiful? I have a confession about it, though: it contains no whiskey. It was early in the day & I needed it to actually help me function! So there's brown sugar, coffee, Irish Creme creamer, and some whipped topping with a sprinkling of cocoa bean/coffee bean/sugar ground together on top along with a pinch of green sugar. And I have about 8 of these Irish Coffee glass mugs that I found at the dollar store!

Originally, I had planned to enjoy some Irish oatmeal for breakfast, but I found St. Paddy's Day specific Lucky Charms!!

Uh...yeah. In original AND chocolate! So I mixed the two together for some fun to start the day with. Never hurts to have a bit of craic.

As I got ready, I know that green is the typical was actually the color of St. Patrick! Most Irish won't wear's actually more of an American thing. Go figure. (So is the pinching thing, too.) I have several Irish sweaters & hoped it would actually cool back off enough to wear one of them. With it being around 70 & 80 degrees lately, I was a bit concerned. It did, however, cool off to be in the 50' an Irish-style sweater it was!

A navy fisherman's sweater with an old green broomstick skirt seemed to be perfect! Topped off with my Irish-like shawl/wrap & pinned with my grandmother's tiger eye brooch made for a pretty fitting Irish outfit. I may have to wear it when I go to Ireland! Well...someday...

I did fix some lunch that worked in the Irish oatmeal & some Barry's Irish Breakfast tea!

The oatmeal included some buttermilk, honey & a bit o' brown sugar; the tea had milk & honey added to it. It was delicious!

As I had the KC parade tuned it on the television, I decided to start prepping some of the dinner I had planned.

First, I want to keep getting the lesson out there that corned beef & cabbage is NOT Irish!!
You could say it's Irish-American. See, a staple meal for the Irish was bacon & cabbage (Irish bacon is more like Canadian bacon, not the strips we tend to fry up)...but when the immigrants came over, they found they couldn't afford their bacon & had to go with a more affordable option (at that time) of corned beef...which they bought from Jewish markets. They didn't want corned beef...they had to make do. And right now, beef is at an all-time high. So having the corned beef & cabbage...or even a not accurate. There's even an article from that says that corned beef & cabbage is as Irish as spaghetti & meatballs, and as American as apple pie. BOOM.

OK, now that I've had to put that out there AGAIN, and since our non-pork eater would not be with us, we could have a much more authentic meal! Typical meats for the Irish are pork & lamb. Lamb is not as easy to get a hold of around here, but pork can be found in abundance! So...I roasted up some pork loin with Irish herbs & served it up with Colcannon, Irish Soda Bread (which I added a little thyme to for the meal...but will definitely stick to the most simple from now on), cider glazed roasted carrots & onions, plus some potato cakes for the boys.

It was SO good, people!! I still haven't had time to make my Irish Creme Apple Cake. So there was no dessert...but we were so full, it didn't even matter! But I'm still planning on making it.

The day was hard to plan. My hubby had a day full of meetings, even having to travel to a meeting; Teen Boy had to stay after school for a bit; Lil Guy was staying late at school for chess club. We didn't even know if my hubby would make it home for dinner. But we had dinner late as I was trying to work around schedules as a chauffeur for the boys while trying to make dinner late enough in case hubby was home for it. Turns out hubby made it home & we got to enjoy the feast together.

We didn't get to take in an Irish movie again. I'm always going to be optimistic about future celebrations, though.

Now, it's time to plan for St. Joseph's Feast tomorrow...and then cardigans & sneakers to honor Mr. Rodger's birthday on Friday.

Busy, busy with celebrations!! March is full of 'em!

Hope you had a great St. Paddy's Day! And next year, I will try to start getting some of these lessons of St. Patrick's Day out sooner.

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Beware! How AM~Erica Spent this Ides of March

So anyway...

As we get this round of celebrations rolling, we had an ultimate Ultimate Pi Day yesterday (reminder HERE). And that's just the beginning...

These next several days are full of holidays!!

Today...though dark, is the infamous Ides of March.

Caesar didn't heed his warning in 44 B.C., on this day, and was stabbed in the back...and several other people he thought were friends.

My family uses this day to kick off our salad season! Not accurate in feasting, but we do enjoy stabbing a fork into a good Chicken Caesar Salad. Wrong? Maybe...but we find it fitting.

With some crazy scheduling that has been entering into our lives this year, we are scaling our feasting back a bit & including apple slices, cubed cheese, and some Italian Bread.

I had hoped to work in an Orange Julius at some point...but it looks like we cannot do it this time. So hoping to makeup for that one tomorrow.

Oh! And as we all probably know by now, I must dress for the occasion! Amm-i-rite?

Yes...this is pretty much my staple Ides of March top. And I got this new headband for $5 that is the perfect topper!! So, I tried to look ready. I just stayed away from government buildings & such.

And now that this weird holiday is coming to a close, I look forward to St. Patrick's Day in a couple of days! One of my favorites!

Stay tuned...

God Bless, AM~Erica

Saturday, March 14, 2015

AM~Erica Takes a Slice of Ultimate Pi Day

So anyway...

Today is kind of amazing.

Fo realz, yo!

It's pretty ultimate!

Today we begin a whole new round of celebrating! And even though this one involves maths & stuffs...I still found a way to celebrate.

Today is a day that can be celebrated in the States since we have our date format set up weird. Because of our format of [month/day/year] (instead of the rest of the world that has it set up [day/month/year]), we are able to celebrate March 14th. For most of the rest of the world, it is 14/3/15. Here, in the U.S., we have it set up as 3/14/15. People! In all that confusing mess I just went thru...I'm trying to say that we can use 3/14 as Pi Day!

Are you still with me?? OK...well, today is not just Pi Day...but we are in 2015, so today is ULTIMATE Pi Day!! With Pi being 3.141592653, on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53, we have achieved Ultimate Pi! BOOM!!

Well, since I'm not so big on the mathical smarticle parts of being smart, I would find another way! Like...going to Planet Comicon!! FINALLY!!

The whole family went, and even though Teen Boy threw something together in very short time (like right before we left), only Teen Girl & I dressed full-on for the occasion. The boys donned geeky t-shirts, but the girl & I had costumes!! I'm sure many of you are surprised by this. *cough-cough*
(My other costume stuff I've done HERE)

Remember when I unveiled my STEAMPUNK CHARACTER, Lady T'luluh Poulpe', at our church's trunk-or-treat promo table? Well, that's the direction I went! But this time, I got much more of what I'd hoped for T'luluh to look like!

Long auburn hair with blonde & brown dreadlocks & braids, all in one wig, gave my character the perfect cephalopod-type edge I'd hoped to achieve. Plus, I needed a sidekick with 8 arms. So, I adopted one from Amazon & named him Carlow McKcraic'n!

OK, part of the steampunk world has a draw to octopi. Between that & C' was a perfect match to work with! So, everything from my character's name, to her look, to her sidekick, even her sidekick's name, all has a tie in with c'thulhu/kraken references. Also, a couple of years ago, I discovered the magic of Brian Kensinger's Tea Girls, as well as his best known characters, Victoria & Otto (check his stuff out HERE). That's what sparked the inspiration for an tentacle-involved steampunk character. She is still a work in progress, but I was SO excited with how T'luluh & Carlow worked for Comicon!!

And? Some people GOT it! I was so excited when a guy got really excited about the c'thulhu reference...then later a kid (he was maybe about 8 or 9) yelled from quite a distance away, "C'THULHU! I LOVE C'THULUH!" It was AWESOME!!

And so many other steampunk folks there, too!!

I didn't even get all of them! However, I did find this guy right here:

Yes. This guy was an amazing Captain Jack Sparrow!! And, not only did he love the women, but he really wanted to use Carlow for his pic with Teen Girl (who went as Ariel):

He even asked if she sang & made her sing for him:

He was trying to be Ursula while she sang. He was hilarious, on-point, and awesome!!

We did have a lot of fun today:

There was so much to see!! Our only disappointment was how much it was to get pictures/autographs with the celebrity guests there...and the greatest disappointment of that was that Cary Elwes camped out behind a curtain. Ugh. So we saw the back of his head thru a slit between two curtains. Did see a few other celebrity guests from afar: Michael Rooker, Meng-Na Wen, Karen name a few.

But it was an amazing experience to spend Pi Day with thousands of other weird peeps. The overall respect & appreciativeness of other's effort in costuming & and overall love for the geekiness out there in so many forms. It felt like home amongst those of us weirdos. And it was wonderful!

After all of that excitement, of course we had to focus on eating for the occasion! So...PIE!

That's right. We ordered some Minsky's Pizza pies & enjoyed a small Moon Pie for dessert! PERFECT!!

Does it help that we had pizza & dessert that were round for Pi Day?

I hope you all found a way to celebrate the Ultimate Pi Day, which happens to be Albert Einstein's birthday (fitting).

Now, I'm hoping to clean this up so I can get it posted at 9:26 this evening.

More celebrations coming this week...

Stay tuned...(tomorrow is the Ides of March...beware)

God Bless, AM~Erica