Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to Make a Marshmallow Peep video

If you've been reading my blog for a while you know that spring is my favorite time of year because it involves making things out of marshmallow Peeps. 

Maybe it all started back in 2006 when my coworker and I hot glued Peeps to one of the wardrobe stations at work. 

It took me a while before I found someone who loved hot gluing Peeps as much as I did but when Sara and I worked on MacPeep I knew I'd found a friend for life.

Peeps love the Guthrie Theater
The following year hot glued and giggled side by side as we each worked on our own separate projects. I created Princess Peep of the Milky Way to celebrate my love of the Minnesota State Fair and Sara created Repeep Harlequin! said the Tick Tock Man inspired by a Harlan Ellison story. Seriously this is one of my favorite dioramas ever because it is awesome.

In 2012 I was on my own again because my partner in Peep crime had moved to the Sunshine State but that didn't stop me from creating an amazing Zombie Peep Crawl diorama.

Photo by Amy Wurdock
This year I decided to try my hand at something different with my beloved Peeps. Video. See the Pioneer Press also has a video contest. 

It's not like video is a new thing but in my current WIP one of my characters has a youtube channel so I've been trying to learn more about that. In addition I hear more and more about book trailers and writers using video to market their books. So this year's video is inspired by Veronica Mars. 

Veronica Peep, she's a marshmallow

camera, taser, locker

Logan Peepcholls

Peeps investigations

I used the voice talents of one of my coworkers and the photoshop talents of Jenn James to create the opening credits of the film in Peeps. 

What is your favorite thing to do with Peeps? Peep s'mores, Peeps brûlée? stale Peeps? Fresh Peeps? Hot gluing Peeps to cardboard?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Iowa SCBWI conference recap

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Iowa SCBWI spring conference.

My friend, illustrator Emmeline Hall, arranged for three of us to car pool and room together.

The conference started on Friday afternoon with presentations from Julie Ham on picture book beginnings and nonfiction picture books.

The next day included a keynote from Donna Jo Napoli and presentations from Carter Hasegawa, Laurent Linn, and Linda Skeers. After Donna Jo Napoli's speech I am reminding myself of my right to write. Despite the fact that I am not a morning person lately I've been carving out writing time for myself in the mornings. I'm sure the "morning" I'm referring to is much later for real morning people but that's what I've got.

I really enjoyed Laurent Linn's presentation and am looking the covers of the stack of books sitting on my coffee table with a little more perspective.

I'm using the advice in Linda Skeers's talk to improve the humor in some of my funny stories.

On Sunday the Illustrators spent the morning in an illustrator intensive and the writers spent the morning in a writers intensive. Julie Ham talked about Charlesbridge and Jessica Regel talked about queries and hooks. People in the audience shared their hooks and Jessica let them know what worked and what could be improved.

Overall it was a great conference. One of the things I really enjoyed was that it was very picture book friendly. I've been to conferences that seem very YA focused in the past and this felt like a good fit for the things I'm working on right now.

The conference was held in this old hotel called The Lodge. It has this sort of German, ski chalet, bavarian, castle theme to it. I know, a lot of those things don't go together. This hotel used to be the place to go in its hey day. Sadly it has fallen into disrepair. They also serve powdered eggs on the breakfast buffet with the exception of the omelet bar. But despite the fact that the hotel was a little like something out of a Stephen King novel I got some fun pictures.


Seriously, these castle windows
Another great thing about this conference is that it happened to be in my hometown. Now I don't get back to B-dorf often enough because my parents moved to Des Moines but my best, dearest, friend lives there so I got to see her for two nights in a row.  I read books with her kids, had a dance party, and built a lego gas station.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

How Thyroid Disease Changed My Shopping Habits

Recently my Facebook feed was full of people sharing an anti-union video from a big box retailer. The industry I work in is represented by unions so several people were sharing the video vowing to "think harder" about where they shop and questioning the choices of the actors in the video.

I used to shop Super Big Box. Several years ago friends called them out on FB for supporting an antiunion or anti-GLBT  candidate or cause vowing to "think harder" about where they shopped. Back then I didn't think I could stop shopping at Super Big Box. Like anyone else I could go into Super Big Box only needing a couple things and end spending $80 on a cart full of stuff.

But it got me thinking about my shopping habits, which radically changed when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's. Actually that isn't completely true,  they had been changing before I was diagnosed. See the thing about having hypothyroid disease is that it makes you tired. Unbelievably tired.

Before I knew what was wrong all I knew is that I was tired. Too tired to drive to the nearby Super Big Box to get groceries. Too tired to trek across a huge parking lot and make my way through the sprawling grocery section. Too tired to walk through the other sections- pets, health and beauty, and get other things I might need. Too overwhelmed by all the choices. By the time I got home from shopping and putting away my groceries I was exhausted and needed a nap.

I actually started shopping at a local grocery chain that was probably more expensive because it was less exhausting for me. The thing is, I knew it was more expensive but it was worth the extra expense not to feel as tired as I felt after going to Super Big. The stores are probably the same distance from my house- about 15-20 minutes but this smaller grocery store was all I could manage. I no longer had to walk what probably amounted to an entire city block to get to and from my car. I didn't have to push a massive cart around because they have smaller carts.

When I was diagnosed with thyroid disease I decided the best investment I could make was joining a CSA. This year I did a winter CSA as well. Let me tell you kids, when you get a giant box full of vegetables that you've already paid for the week before a major holiday plus you get recipe and meal plans from your CSA's Pinterest board and newsletter it takes some of the stress away.

After my first summer of CSA membership I decided to join a co-op. Like the local grocery chain my co-op is pretty small compared to Super Big Box. I had been eating a mostly gluten free diet by then so it seemed like a good plan. Like the local grocery chain my co-op is nice, and small. The parking lot is nice and manageable and the carts are small. Because co-ops are all about organic, non-gmo, healthy, free range, fair trade, grass fed goodness the selection is different from Super Big Box and that is nice I am not overwhelmed by all the choices. After my first year of co-op membership I earned back my membership fee in profit sharing.

I don't go to Super Big much anymore. I get almost everything at my co-op and the cats get their stuff at the neighborhood pet store. When I pick up the occasional item at Super Big Box I often find that the gluten free, grass fed, organic items are slightly more expensive then they are at my co-op and they never go on sale. I suspect that they know that they can charge a premium for these items and that they do. In addition these are the items that go out of stock more often. There is nothing more frustrating than crossing a giant parking lot, pushing an oversized cart around and having no gluten free waffles to show for it.