Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Starter Pokemon: Bulbasaur

The start of a new "series!" Folks have been asking me to share some of the templates I make. What better way to start than with the Pokemon who joined us on our adventures.

Whenever I work on a crafts project, I try my best to plan it out. For Perler, it usually entails making a template in Photoshop with the original sprite and then a color edited version using the Perler colors. This is shown in the image above. Left-hand side shows the original sprite; right-hand shows the Perler color edits. The sprites I use are from the Poke Bank and later 3DS games. Frequently, people ask where to find these sprites. My go to website is the "Spriters Resource." The specific spritesheet I used for Pokemon is [HERE].

I purchase the majority of my beads at Joann's and take advantage of their mail, online, and mobile app coupons. Bulbasaur is a smaller sprite, but its colors are a bit of a pain to find in stores. cranapple and green are not sold in their own 1000 count packages. At my local Joann's I am able to purchase 1000 count packages of black, evergreen, kiwi green, red, white, grey, and dark grey. Dark green is available in a 6000 count package, as well as white, black, red, and grey. I usually restock my green beads by buying and sorting the "Circus" bead kit. This kit has a lot of colors not needed for this project, but it does have white and black. For cranapple, normally I purchase the "Holiday Mix," also labeled as "Christmas Mix," which includes kiwi green, dark green, red, and white.

If someone wanted to order directly from the Perler website and not have to worry about where to find which colors, I'd recommend purchasing 1000 count packages of the Holiday Mix, black, evergreen, green, grey, and dark grey. The beads after Perler's "the more you buy, the more you save" discount would cost $11.94 and shipping would be $7.95 for a grand total of $19.89. Although not needed, I would strongly recommend purchasing clear beads. Depending on how the beads are ironed, sections where there is only one bead connected to another are flimsy and easily broken. Usually clear beads are added for sturdiness.

Bulbasaur is 20 pixels wide and 19 pixels high. The interlocking pegboards are 29 beads by 29 beads, so our favorite salad only needs 1 pegboard.

I've been considering doing kits on the Etsy shop for people who want to try beading but do not want to invest into the storage, beads, and boards. If this is something of interest, please let me know!

Hope you like this quick guide! More are to come, so any and all feedback is appreciated.

Friday, February 2, 2018

A Fool of Herself

Happy 2018 everyone! Just, ya know, ignore my writing and posting this a month into the new year...

The initial post I had wanted to make for the "return of the blog" was about the December 2017 ExtraLife campaign. The community donated $530 to the Faxton St Luke's Healthcare Foundation; I could think of no better way to start writing than to express my gratitude for the difference you have made in a child's life. Once the Perler Pokemon for the children have been finished and delivered, I will write about the campaign and visit to the hospital.

Rather than praising the community for the difference they have made in someone else's life, I want to address how we influence each other's. As many of you may know, over the past 2 years I have been streaming fairly, well, inconsistently. Even though I wanted to grow our community and share our passions/experiences, I needed to prioritize life. Thanks to that focus, I am now in a much  better situation financially and have the means to seek out mental health help without the fear of accruing insurmountable medical debt. Often times we have shared our experiences of battling our inner demons. Although life has been improving for the better, my inner demons have been the victors lately.

Since Thanksgiving 2017, work has been stressful; I oversee the day to day operations and maintenance of a Walmart general merchandise collect supplier account. The holiday season is a logistics/transportation nightmare. There have been too many evenings when I return home in a poor mood; why bring that negativity to the stream when I wish only to share positivity? Whereas many would be ecstatic to have days off from work, I dread them, even more so when they are at the start of the week. We process our orders on Mondays and ship out product on Thursdays, with transportation issues being resolved on Fridays.  When the work flow changes... my job becomes a tedious hell. Until after the new year, my work days focused on ensuring our product meeting their must arrive by dates. The first normal work week I had, I caught a mistake that, in my opinion, should have cost me my job. The mistake has been corrected, but my bosses' faith in me has lessened. As someone who takes great pride in her work, this has been quite the emotional blow.

Amidst the work hullabaloo, my significant other proposed. Awestruck by the sight of him down on one knee, grinning like an idiot, I said yes. We enjoyed a few blissful days of staring at each other lovingly before I realized we were going to have a wedding. Weddings involve spending money and inviting people. CRAP! We both have large families spread out across the eastern seaboard. Before hammering out details, we need to decide on a budget. That time of the year was filled with a lot of financial unknowns: my student loan repayment plan was being reevaluated and the IRS claimed I owed them the funds from a 2015 education tax credit. I was also uninsured, still am until March, and in the process of deciding whether or not I wanted to start seeing doctors for my IBS and mental health. "Emme, when's the date?" Ask me in about a year when I can start saving up for the wedding...

As happy as I am to be engaged, the thoughts of a wedding and a family of our own have forced me to reflect on personal goals, short- and long-term. Sometimes, too much self-reflection can be a detriment rather than an advantage. In order to alleviate the stress of finances, I've been considering taking on part-time work. Finding a job that will not aggravate my physical ailments and accommodate my current position will be difficult. For a few months of 2017 I worked a full- and part-time job. My having felt miserable is an understatement. One of my priorities this year is to do what I can to improve my mental health. Love musicals? Listen to them more. Love reading? Read more! Love learning and seeing the fruits of your efforts? Learn crochet! Coming home to an empty apartment makes you feel blue? Go somewhere public for a bit and then home. Sure, more work leads to more money which can lead to less financial problems, but will the emotional, mental strain be worth it? That's still up for debate and most likely will be until I can speak with a mental health professional. Whenever I realize my body's limitations, my depression goes into overdrive and any self-doubt multiplies. Then I am stuck in the self-deprecating loop of calling myself a failure.

Due to my self-doubts, low self-esteem, and high standards for myself, I've been considering myself a failure as a broadcaster. The channel started out heavily-MTG related. The more financially responsible I needed to be, the less MTG was streamed. I picked up Perler as a hobby due to the wonders it did for helping my depression/anxiety. Once folks started asking if they could purchase what I made, I opened up the Etsy shop with the hope it would help me earn funds to improve the stream and buy cards. Over the summer, I learned the channel met the requirements to become a Twitch Affiliate. Hot dog! Sign me up! I never thought anyone would actually hit the sub button; I saw it as a way for Twitch to let 'casters know they're doing alright and are on the path to becoming partnered. For all of the support the community has shown, I feel I should be doing more. There were a few weeks where streaming caused anxiety due to my feeling undeserving of the support.

Last weekend, I was reminded of why I started streaming: to share my passions with others and create a welcoming community where we can share our hobbies with one another. Interacting with chat is usually the highlight of my day, and I've been told repeatedly by friends how I glow from how happy these interactions make me. When I felt utterly alone and worthless, the community we've built was supportive and helped raise me up. It goes both ways. I rarely ever realize the influence I have on you as more than a form of entertainment. Remember my mentioning how I've been making an effort to listen to musicals more? I've been listening to them on stream, mainly when working on a craft. During Saturday's stream, a viewer mentioned how they recently bought tickets to various shows coming to their area. Prior to my having hyped them during a stream, the viewer was clueless about them. When the webcam was turned off, I cried. I realized too late in my academic career how much I love theatre and music. When times are rough, you bet I'm playing the 25th Anniversary of Phantom of the Opera on repeat. When I'm having a good day, I'm usually singing something or other to myself. My fiance and I bonded the most over our love of musical theatre. Because of my passion for theatre, someone was inspired to pick it up. A few days after this stream, I was tagged in a tweet where the author shares how my having tweeted about a beginner friendly crochet project inspired them to pick up a set of hooks. Once again, I cried. It's been ages since I've felt I made a difference or matter in the grand scheme of things. Within a short period of time, I was shown how I inspired others to pursue interests that I hope will help them for the better as those hobbies have done for me.

The realization of how I am a positive influence on others has been the inspiration I needed to recommit to streaming. Until I have to spend my time elsewhere, I want to share as many experiences as possible with you. The stream might not be exactly where I want it to be content-wise, but we're getting there. We still share a lot of laughs, and I have plans for us. Once taxes are filed I hope some of the extra funds I've saved can be reinvested into our community. To those of you who have expressed how much you've enjoyed something I've done/do, thank you! I encourage others to do the same. You never know how much your words will make someone's day. They've certainly brightened mine and I hope my sharing what I love about others will do the same.