Painting and Modding Nerf Blasters for our Halloween Costumes

Sarah and I have been working on our Halloween costumes for this year and things are coming along nicely. Earlier in the year we decided to be Gotham City Impostors since the costumes would be easy to make and super fun. Since it’s a first person shooter our costumes needed weaponry and it just so happens that Nerf makes a great line of toy “blasters” that can be easily painted and modified.

While searching around on Amazon I started noticing mod kits from a company called Orange Mod Works that were custom made for certain Nerf models that effectively doubled the power and range. Being an awesome adult I decided that I must have one of these modded “blasters” since “one never knows when or where they may need to “blast” someone.” Dr. Dre said that I think.

Of course if you’re going to open a Nerf gun you might as well paint it and it might as well resemble a paint job from the game. Sarah’s is the Coveted “Snowflake” pattern that’s only unlocked through community challenges.

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Pad Thai Dinner Party

Sarah and I love to cook and we love to have friends over for dinner, so it was starting to bug us that we hadn’t had any guest other than Grant since we moved to the Springs. Luckily we’ve both made friends with Jonathan and his wife Lindsay, who joined us for dinner on Thursday.

Devin with a mouth full of grean onion roots

Cthulu cometh.

That’s what it looks like when I channel Cthulhu using the green onion roots we’d been growing in the windowsill. Since we were having Pad Thai for dinner we needed to make our rounds to the grocery stores for items to make the evening a success.

Our first stop was to the farmers market where we scored all sorts of fresh fruit and veggies for $15. We also had a really great pretzel strudel thing from a small vendor but I can’t seem to find anything about them online. Anthony’s Pretzels maybe?

After that it was off to Lee Hing Inc. to pick up shrimp and tamarind.
Lee HIng Inc. always has the most interesting produce so I can’t help but stop to take photos.

Chinese eggplant at Lee Hing Inc


Chinese eggplant: much smaller than “regular” eggplant.

Thai eggplant at Lee Hing Inc

Thai eggplant looks really good with a filter on it. I want to paint a bowl of these.

Thai Eggplant: even smaller with a green color and white striping.

As usual we made it out of the Asian market for a shockingly low amount of money, which pleased us. We even had lunch at their little cafe. It was worth the $5.95 we paid I’d say.

After a quick trip to Safeway for other groceries we returned home where Sarah immediately got to work baking the crust for our pizza while I started the menu.

Brownie cookie on a stoneware pizza stone

It was a perfect brownie, which meant it was too wet for our fruit pizza. Lesson learned.

The pizza stone worked perfectly for this dish.

Devin's dinner menu wireframe

Quick sketches to get the layout organized

You may be wondering why I made a menu for our dinner? If you’re wondering that, you obviously don’t know me very well, but I will say that the original inspiration was the themed dinners that Laura over at makes for her husband when returns home after being away on what I can only assume is business(she may have mentioned business)).

Devin's dinner menu, top portion.

Here we see the Salad Detail and Logo I made for Sarah and I.

This was a really fun project since I had to complete it quickly and wouldn’t have time to fix any huge errors. See that tassel looking thing on the top left in red? That was me covering up an accident, but if you’re not a painter/designer you’d never have thought second about it. I also really enjoyed creating that letter mark for Sarah and I, I’ll probably continue to use and refine it on future dinner party menus.

Devin's Dinner menu, completed in the leather frame

Completed Menu.

Here’s the completed piece. You may notice that the Pad Thai bowl is excessively deep, that’s just how we roll around here though. Big Bowls, for big appetites. *Cut To Rick Ross Enjoying some Pad Thai*

He’s the bawse, you know?

Lindsay posing with a salad.

The dressing on the salad was light but tasty.

Here we see Lindsay showing off the delish salads that Jonathan helped prepare. I made us a really light dressing and the secret ingredient was ranch. Not a whole lot, mind you, but just enough.

Sarah's Fruit pizza

Look how awesome Sarah made the pizza!

The pad thai was devoured (Jonathan and I put away some solid helpings) before I could snap any photos, but the pizza was captured at least.

Devin's post dinner Thai Tea shots

A perfectly sweet after dinner treat.

I totally forgot about the Thai Tea I’d made until well after the meal was done. We’d been enjoying wine and beer so no one minded. It was late at this point (9:30-ish) so I suggested we just enjoy Thai Tea shots, and of course everyone loved them.


Avery came too!

After that the Cavner family loaded into their car and headed back home, and Sarah and I watched an episode of the Shield Season 6.

Now that I’m done here I’m going to go paint some sunflowers for a thank you card I’m sending out.


Grant came to visit, part 1

Grant came to visit us for Labor Day weekend and we were so thrilled to have him here. We picked Grant up from the Denver airport on Thursday in the mid afternoon and since we were all starving I convinced everybody that we should pit stop in Denver to Sam’s No. 3 for lunch. We were not disappointing in the least. We each ordered a different skillet meal and then swapped them midway through the meal so we could try each others. I went with the gyro skillet which has big pieces of tomato, lamb meat, and two eggs( I went with poached ((I’ve been on a kick)). I’m pretty sure we were all too ravenous to take any pics of the food but I’m sure photos of the food exists out there somewhere.

Grant fishing on Prospect Lake

Grant was dead set on fishing so we got some polls and licenses and planned our adventure for Saturday. Friday night Grant tried casting a few lines in the lake in front of our house, and he managed to catch a small musky!

After fishing and Sarah got done teaching her evening class we went to Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. to meet Nel and Dwayne. Sarah used to play roller derby with Nel and Dwayne was the teams interim coach. It just happened to be a crazy coincidence that Dwayne got stationed here a few weeks after we moved to the Springs. It’s a small world like that.


Devin with his Pug Scarf

Grant snapped this lovely photo on Sunday? Maybe, I’m not sure honestly. But the pug scarf as I like to call this is an often occurrence.

Saturday we went fishing up at Beaver Creek. We took Barrett and he had a great time, splashing around in the stream, smelling flowers, whining like a “tinny-baby”; the usual. I didn’t take my phone into the wilderness so no photos of that adventure.

Sunday was great because we took a trip to the GROCERY STORE! We love to cook and eat and we’ve been on a huge Asian food kick since we now have easy access to a great Asian Market, Lee Hing Inc.

Giant carrot with a ballpoint pen for comparison

The produce at Lee Hing is great and the prices are fantastic as well. They have a really solid selection of greens and veggies, but they often run out of hot items and you’ll have to wait for a new shipment later in the week.


A lot of groceries from the asain market for $60

Chinese chives(on the left) are a key ingredient to good Pad Thai and lend a lot of flavor to the dish.

Banana Flower

They also had banana flowers this week which is also found in traditional pad thai. I’d never seen a banana flower let alone cook one so this was a fun learning experience.

Sarah attacking the banana flower

Sarah is fearless as she bites into the incredibly bitter uncooked banana flower.
Sadly she learned that lesson the hard way.

Char god, is an awesom god.

This is how we found Char-dog when we returned from the market. He really is an awesome god.

That sums up the first part of the weekend pretty well. I’ll put the rest in my next post.

Procycling, stenciling, and hand lettering

This weekend was a blast starting on Friday with the USA Pro Challenge stage 5 ending in downtown Colorado Springs! We started the day by eating breakfast, doing our usual chores (which always include some sort of house related project) and then walking with Puppy-Baby Barrett downtown via the El Paso bike path.

On our walk I stopped and finally snagged a good photo of the sidewalk stamp I’ve seen around town for Flat and Fancy INC. 

Flat and Fancy logo stamp in sidewalk concrete

I absolutely love the ampersand. As a logo, it tells me nothing of the company, but it has an old school charm this is great. It reminds me of early rail road logos which can be seen at Christian Annyas’ blog.

Once we arrived downtown our first stop was Poor Richard’s to grab some lunch since it was listed a pet-friendly restaurant online. Sarah and I each got a sandwich and found ourselves completely underwhelmed. It really takes a special sandwich to impress me and at a cost of $7 and some change, this Reuben just wasn’t cutting it.

Honestly, some of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had came from Chef Jason’s Deli in San Angelo, very flavorful and very hearty.

Upon finishing lunch we decided it was time to find some desert and we ended up at someplace that I can’t seem to find on Google Maps.It had this awesome painting in it, so I got a picture for later inspiration. Orange and Red Paiting, Good Food

It was on Tejon near Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.

We got Ice-cream and then sat out front and watched the Criteriums that were happening right in front of us. I was stoked to see Jonathan Cavner race since we recently became friends on one of the Tuesday night rides. Here’s a pic from an earlier crit in the day.

Stage 5 Crit

After watching Jonthan race( and meeting his wife and daughter) Sarah, Barrett, and I walked over to Sandia since Greta had invited me to come by and see the office. It was a pretty awesome place. It had the typical small agency feel with all of the great colors and creative spaces you’d come to expect.
Then the pros arrived.

USA Pro Challenge Stage 5 final leg - Break

USA Pro Challenge Stage 5 final leg - Peloton

That guy in the yellow(middle) is Tejay van Garderen, who took second this year after holding the Jersey for most of the race.

It was truly incredible. Those riders are some of cycling’s best athletes. Millions of dollars worth of equipment and sponsorship rolling past at 30+MPH. We got to watch them do the final race loop 4 times which was great. I even spotted Cadel Evans which was pretty neat, his chin is just as chiseled IRL as it is in photos.

After that we walked home and then went and ran more errands before calling it an “early” night.

On Saturday, Sarah had her first derby bout in the Springs and she needed her name and number on jerseys so she could play. She asked me to make a stencil for it and I reluctantly agreed( I just wasn’t wanting another project but I did it anyway). I decided to try and keep it as simple as possible since I didn’t want to spend hours cutting out the stencil by hand. Luckily on my travels around the internet for inspiration I found this character brush set from Fudge Graphics.

Hand lettered stencil with first cuts made

The process for making this stencil went something like this:

1. Choose lettering and numbering (Paula Mean, 4).

2. Measure the shirts and then scale your lettering accordingly.

2b. Draw a small mockup of the completed design to plan where to place letters.

2c. Since I was using a font that had square letters I made myself three cardstock squares, 1″, 1 1/8″, and 1 1/4″, and then used them as a visual aid to determine how large I could make my letters. I chose to go with 1 1/8″ letters since it filled the space well but left plenty of breathing room for legibility.

3. Layout your lettering design on card-stock(I like to use old manilla folders. Got that tip from Ben Zeigler) using your square piece as a guide.

4. Cut out your lettering using a straight edge and sharp hobby knife, or switchblade, or santoku knife. The option is yours here, feel free to branch out and then report back here with your findings. Paula Mean shirt stencil, retro font

5. Test your stencil on a OLD SHIRT. I can not stress this enough, nothing sucks more than sinking a bunch of time and effort only to ruin your new shirt and then have to buy another.

5a. When you test your stencil be sure to look for overspray, color retention, and stencil mistakes.

5b. Fix any stencil mistakes, and change paint if you need to(paint sticks to shirts differently depending on the type of material its made of, if possible test on the same material as your final product), and mask of any part of your shirt you don’t want to paint. Paul Mean stencil being painted.

6. When your shirt has been masked off you can go in with small weights (I use stacks of pennies) to press the stencil down on the shirt as much as possible without blocking any of your cut outs.

7. Apply 2-3 coats of paint with light dustings and enjoy your masterpiece.

Now let’s take a short intermission to reflect on how incredibly awesome “Radio GaGa” by Queen is. It is nothing short of incredible. Screw you if you disagree. ALSO I want to grow a mustache ala Freddie Mercury. So be it, I’m growing my stache early this year for Movember.

Anyway, here’s Sarah rocking her Jersey.

Paula Mean is a total badass.

More to Follow in the next Post!


Livin’ a Vacay

So far since we arrived in Colorado Springs, we have pretty much been living a vacation. There is a beautiful lake right across the street from our house where we walk the pups pretty much every day. The temperature here has rarely gotten above ~85°F and and you can see the mountains all day, every day. It really is fantastic.

I also started playing derby again (with the Academy of Hard Knocks Roller Derby league). Derby rocks my socks off, ok? I love getting to play. After attending a few practices, phasing up on minimums, and expressing my interested to join the league, they offered to have me skate with them in a mesh up bout after Team Bionic plays on the 25th. I am super stoked. Also, the bout will be on a banked track (what what!). I wish my parent could come watch (this will be my first bout that they will miss), but I think someone is taping the bout so maybe I can send them some sweet footage afterwards.

As we begin this week, my vacation is winding down to a close. Monday evening I have dinner and adjunct orientation and I start my second tutoring job this Wednesday evening.


Vacation has to come to an end soon

So I’ve been in Colorado Springs for almost 3 weeks now and still don’t have a job. Kind of a bummer, but also kind of a great time of relaxation. Don’t think I haven’t been productive though, Sarah and I have been working on our new house to-do list regularly and I think we’re finally nearing the end of that list.

We have most of the framed art hung, and bikes put together and on the walls. Now we’re down to just finishing the bike/workout room and craft room. This house is freaking awesome, the cost, the location, the landlords, it all rules. I can’t wait to have friends over for dinner.

I can’t wait to have friends! That’ll be so cool, we’ll read comics and stuff and, and, play video games, and ride bikes. It’s gonna be so rad.

But in all seriousness I do believe I have actually made a pretty solid friend with Ryan Putnam of We met when I came to the Springs for vacation before we moved. I bought him coffee and he in turn reviewed my portfolio and gave me some great advice on where I can go with a few projects and maybe my career. We talked for a solid 3 hours I’d say, and then earlier this week we met for a bike ride across town. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA was talking in the Springs that day at  University of Colorado which I’m told is a private school located downtown (watch out AUSTIN!), this was mostly of note since the roads were closed off, people were walking all over the path like they had some sort of “right away” and most importantly there were plenty of beautiful women dressed to the nines. Here’s looking at you, girl in the bright purple dress.

Heidi Klum(?) in a purple dress.

I think this is Heidi Klum…maybe. Here face looks sort of Funky.

That is NOT an image of the girl in the purple dress, but it’s similar enough. Moving right along.

P.S. The bike ride with Ryan ended at The Coffee and Tea Zone (they seem like an opportunity for some freelance webdesign work, no?) with tap drinks and discussions on how life is fundamentally suffering, etc. etc.

Today on my job hunt I called a bunch of people at my top 5 agencies and asked if they had openings. Not surprisingly none of them did, but that’s ok, because now I have contact points with them and I can stay relevant and in front so when a spot does open up I’m ready to jump in there.
In the mean time I’m trying to pick up a job to hold me over until then, whamp whamp. I am freelancing up here, though, and I’ve already got some work in motion. Who knows, maybe I’ll just start freelancing and work for myself. I’ve always wanted to and chilling with the pups all day has been really great.

Boxer Dog close up as he sleep in a patch of sunlight on the floor

Isn’t he beautiful?

Also, random shot of Sarah!

Sarah Bartlett in a Tie-dye shirt

Isn’t she radiant folks?

Final though is in regards to structuring my day a little more in an effort to accomplish more. I want to be producing more art, bigger art, better art, pieces people want to pay money for. So I’m going to keep open iCal and set some time…and as I type that it seems like and incredible pain in the ass and wasted effort.

So when I’m done with this I’m going to jot down my list of to-dos for tomorrow and try and block out specific times for them so I can make sure I’m dedicating time like I should be. it will roughly look like this:

1. Coffee

2. Shave

3. breakfast

4. 1 hour of Lynda tuts (never stop learning)

5. Rescue the Animals website

6. Dishes

7. Lunch

8. Spelunky

9. Drop Of Contracts to John

10. Work on 1 old personal project for at least 2 hours.

This post has gone on for far too long. As always take a moment to hope over to Party-Jesse’s blog.



Things to do, things to do.

So yesterday I managed to tackle most of my to-do list, minus the forms for Rescue the Animals, so that’s my next item today after my blog post here. I also didn’t finish the key holder, but did make a solid start on it and since it’s turning out to be pretty in depth I’ll make a post later documenting the process and showing the finished work.

My ride yesterday turned out to be a solo ride since I had the time mixed up (5:30 start time instead of 6:30) and missed the group. I did however meet Larry, who is a local rider, and he told me the usual route and suggested I knock out the climb up Gold Camp and head back since it would get too dark to finish the whole ride at that point.

So I headed up to Gold Camp road. It was torturous at first. Climbing is not my strong suit, and this town likes to remind me of it. I saw a bunch of mountain bikers on Gold Camp near the top and let me tell you, these dudes were flying!

Here’s a picture of the Broadmoor from the “top” of Goldcamp.

The Broadmoor Hotel as seen from Goldcamp road

And Here’s the ride I did yesterday on google maps.

Here’s a shot of our totally badass bookshelf that Grant Bartlett made for us.

badass bookshelf arranged by color, ROYGBIV!

ROYGBIV, yah mean?

You may notice that our bookshelf is arranged by color, which is the only true way way to organize literature of any sort. The original inspiration was from this Apartment Therapy blog post that was discussed on Diggnation. I really enjoyed that show.

I’m also reading “Killing the Cover Letter” by Gene Kincaid again to help me focus my job search. That man is incredibly smart and to-the-point.

Sarah also made this delicious cake.

Yellow cake with coconut frosting and pudding

It was pretty amazing.

Here’s a picture of me with two of my pup minions. These guys are generals in the Short nosed dog army I’m building to fight Sarah’s quickly growing army of mean spirited chihuahuas.

Devin with his Boxer and Pug

My two most trusted men.

I like that the episode of The Shield we were about to watch is called “Dawg Days” it was probably about hookers and bangers, and crooked cops with a sense of “justice.”

Finally, I leave you with a pic of our desk setup. It’s a standing desk and it rocks! dresser used as a standing desk, badass iMac, mini fridge

Notice the mini fridge covered in stickers, a museum of our travels.