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Creative Casey's Blog

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chocolate Facials- the new it thing!

While in Costa Rica, I noticed most of the spas were offering chocolate facials and/or chocolate body wraps. I really wanted to try one but missed the opportunity at the hotel that was having the special spa treatment cost (the rest of the hotels were very expensive for the treatments). It just so happens that in the Living Social section of the D&C paper the weekend I returned had a front page section on the new and upcoming spa treatments which are chocolate facials!  The article even had a recipe for one.  I gave it to my mom and asked her to gather the ingredients for my visit home this past weekend. I brought the wine and chic flick (Chasing Maverick's), she supplied the facial ingredients and while giving us an endulging look my dad took the pictures of us trying out the chocolate facial.

So, how was it?  Well, I taste tested the treatment mix before using it and it actually tasted really good.  My mom put it on my face and vice versa. It was cold and weird texture, a bit lumpy. This could be because we ground up oatmeal because we couldn't find oatmeal powder.  Both of us felt that it was a little itchy on and sense I have sensitive skin and am allergic to everything I started feeling a bit paranoid that I was allergic to it.  I waited it out and perhaps the grossest part of the entire adventure was the washing off of the goop. It didn't harden on our face so it was just messy to wipe off.  In the end we both felt our faces felt smooth and silky. And the part- I wasn't allergic.  Oh and I continued to eat the left over mixture from the bowl. My mom eventually took it away from me knowing that I would get sick if I kept eating it. :)

If you want to try it out. Here is the how to; The Chocolate Mask:
1/3 cup of cocoa
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons cottage cheese
1/4 cup of honey
3 teaspoons oatmeal powder
*Mix together and smooth on face.
*Relax for 10 minutes and then rinse with warm water.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Color Run 2014 and upcoming races

The Community Service floor at the College I work for has been planning their very own color run for a few months now.  Today was the official race day and other than the weather everything went really well for them.   What's awesome is that the funds went to local organization to help them fund their programs (Hickok Center for Brain Injury).  Most of my co-workers and I supported the event in a myriad of ways in part because our student worker was organizing the race. I supplied a raffle basket, secured some other funds through the campus Wellness Committee, helped with race organization input early on in the planning process, promoted the race and ran in the race. My other co-workers volunteered (or rather I coerced some of them) in being the official DJ and assist DJ for the race and our reception was an overall supporter and helper throughout the event.  Check out the YouTube video that was made of the event:

The event was designed successfully down to the last detail. Many clubs and organizations on campus helped out. There were plenty of volunteers, an official large time clock, a race map, bibs, t-shirts and sunglasses for runners, tons of great after race food and drinks, rockin music and awesome raffle prizes. (I haven't found out if I won any raffles yet but I'm keeping my fingers X!) **Update- nope I wasn't a winner.

The only disappointing part was the weather. It was cold, grey, rainy (though it stopped just before the race) and extremely windy right during the parts of the run that had the hills. Uggggg.......  Despite all of that my time was really good. I came in the top 10 out of about 160 runners with a majority of them being college students. Hooray for me! **update- received an email on 4/17/14 with the time results- I placed 6th overall and came in 2nd place for overall female. Boy I was right behind the 1st place female runner by like 20 sec. or less!

So here are the upcoming races I'm signed up for:
1. Mess a Dress 10k April 12th

2. Rochester Flower City Half Marathon April 27th-**Yes, I just signed up.  After many many horrible runs (I think my body was rejecting the thought of running for that long) I was able to run 13.5 miles without killing myself the other day.  I'm still slightly apprehensive about the race but will continue to train over the next 5 weeks, hope for good weather which means no WIND and do a lot of praying that I'll survive and my body won't revolt on me during the race. Goal: Finish without walking. Bonus: Finish in 2 hours or under.

3. Lilac Festival 10k May 18th

*I had really wanted to run in the Corporate Challenge Race and have been helping my college to take part in and then just this past week I found out that the summer session one class I'm taking is on Tues. and Thurs. evenings right smack in the middle of the race which is on a Thurs. evening in May. Boy does that stink big time!!! I'd skip class but since it's only a 6-7 week class probably not the best idea. Damn!

My Artwork Sold!

If you recall an earlier post from the end of February, I donated a couple of paintings to the college art program as they were doing a fundraiser for the Somali Community Center that had recently been damaged due to flooding. The donated artwork was shown on the art center Facebook page for the past few weeks to create interest. The fundraiser was held at the college this past Thursday and primarily targeted faculty, students and staff as far as those who would be purchasing the donated artwork.  I priced my pieces according to the population and received an awesome email at the end of the day Friday. Below is the email:

Hi Casey,
Your two paintings sold and raised $50 for the fundraiser.  Several students and staff members really loved them, and one student saved up especially to buy them.  Thank you so very much for supporting the fundraiser. In total, we raised over $1,000 for the Somali Community Center.

How cool is that!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Art (Therapy) + Happiness Project 2014

Over winter break while surfing the net trying to find community based art projects to take part in, I came across the Art (Therapy) + Happiness Project. Below is the basic description of the project from Cathi Malchiodi's homepage;

THE ART [THERAPY] + HAPPINESS PROJECT is a unique learning opportunity inspired by concepts, activities and techniques we have embraced in our own work as art therapists and in our journeys as artists. We believe that art making is an essential practice that can support our positivity and sense of well-being, expand our awareness, open ourselves to kindness and self-compassion, and deepen our connection to ourselves and others. No previous art experience is required; this online art making and positivity community is open to all creative spirits, first-timers included! - See more at:

I waited until January 2014 when the new project came out and decided to sign up to take part it in. The cost was very reasonable ($49) for a year online program.  At the end of February right when life really got crazy, I received the email that the project began.  So...I did nothing. I was to overwhelmed with work, school, a social life and preparing for my vacation.

It wasn't until I was sitting in the airport in Rochester waiting for my first flight to leave and taking advantage of the free wifi, that I saw in my inbox an email from the Art (Therapy) + Happiness Project.  I then logged in to the project for the first time and created my profile. I looked over all four project sections and joined the "community swap" section.  I signed up to create 12 zendoodles or zentangles as I know them by mid-April. I would then mail the zendoodles one each to 12 different people who joined the swap and I got assigned to trade with.  This is an international project so you never know who and where your zendoodle will come from.

I had a moment of "I don't have time for this. Why are you adding something else to your already overflowing plate." And then experienced an ah ha moment.  I decided at my next layover in Newark I would purchase an ink pen/marker and some thicker card stock white paper and begin to create my zendoodles on the plane (in between my goal of reading 2 of my book club books for March).  I found the pen easily enough at the airport but man oh man it took forever to find a piece of blank white paper. I eventually found it for free in a store behind the counter and a nice employee donated it to my cause.  Next I had to guest-a-mate what a 4x4 square was and then fold and fold and fold and rip and rip and rip the piece of paper until I had made 6 4x4 squares.  On my long flight I started experimenting and making my zendoodles for the first time. I found that it really did help me focus and meditate. The time went by faster and I felt less harassed by the chaos in my life.  Just what I needed before getting to my vacation destination.

FYI- I completed all 12 zendoodles before my return flight landed back in Rochester 10 days later. In addition, I finished both of my book club books and started another leisure book.

Here are my finished zendoodles. Well...I may add some color to them though zentangles original tended to be black and white.

**If I add color to any of them I will repost to show you the revised versions.

Team Building Through Art

About a year ago I mentioned to my director an idea for a team building exercise.  My director approached me about the idea a couple of months ago and we worked together to plan a team building day. We went to Art Stop; and chose a 4'x4' canvas that we had to work together on painting in three hours.  We were provided with some brief art lessons and then each sketched ideas.  I helped our team to combine different elements of are designs to create one collaborative piece.  We were then taught how to use a grid transfer to move our small design to a very large one.  We each took a part and went to town painting.

Most of my co-workers were surprised at how talented they were when it came to painting as they were anxious to take part at first.  We all worked really well together and the piece turned out awesome.  We are planning on hanging it in our office space once we paint a quote on it that we all agreed upon.  I painted the sunrise/sunset of the painting.

**I will add a pic when the final quote is added and the painting is hung in our office.

Creativity and Madness Scholarship Take 3

I received an email notification from the Creativity and Madness website that I follow that the Mary Lou Panter essay scholarship deadline has been extended until March 31st (  I received the email while I was on vacation in Costa Rica.  I saw this as a sign that I should try ONE more time for the scholarship as I would have already missed the deadline but now had time to enter it once I got back from vacation.  In addition, this is the first year that the foundation had more than usual funds so they are offering two scholarships!  I saw this as another sign.

So instead of doing my homework at the beginning of this week I spent time writing up my essay.  Of course I started this process while on the plane back vacation but I had a creeper seated next to me who was clearly starring and reading what I was writing. He even asked me "What does art mean to me?"  We ended up having a brief pleasant conversation about this topic but it was still an awkward encounter.  My sister looked over my essay for me and beefed it up. I sent it out via email yesterday. Now is the waiting game. Winners will be announced April 14th. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this being my third attempt at the scholarship means I will be successful in winning a spot.  Jeez they should at least take pity on me and let me win after three attempts!

**I'll keep you posted as to the results and winners.

Costa Rican Adventure

The day finally arrived for me to travel to Costa Rica. I had been researching this destination for over a year and then finally decided on a dark and cold early November evening to book the trip. I had one of those life moments where you say to yourself, "What are you waiting for? Just do it!" and so I did. Then I didn't think a whole lot more about the trip because life became to hectic and crazy for several months.  About a week before the trip it finally dawned on me that the time had come and the trip was going to actually move from being surreal to being real.  I became more excited, started planning and eventually packing (the night before).

My flight was to leave at 5:30am on a Thursday morning; however at about 9pm the night before as I was just finishing getting everything ready, I received an automated phone call from the airline company stating that my flight had been canceled and I needed to call them immediately.  I took some deep breaths and attempted to not freakout, called the airline, was put on hold for 15 minutes, eventually spoke to a woman who barely spoke English and was told that the best they could do was have me leave at 2:30pm the next day. Boy did that put a wrench in my plans which was to be in Costa Rica by 1:30pm and at the pool relaxing by 3pm.  To make a long story short I never made it to Costa Rica until mid-night and eventually got to my room by 1am.  

I was determined to not let the set backs from that first day ruin my trip and instead chose to appreciate each moment I was there.  It ended up being an amazing trip. Costa Rica is a beautiful country and it's ecology is amazing.  It is a small country but has a vast diverse ecosystem. Each location I visited from the capital city San Jose, to Arenal, to Monteverde, to Jaco, to Manuel Antonio had completely different terrain and weather.  The cloud forest and mountain area was colder, windier and rainier than other parts while Jaco and Manuel Antonio were hot and humid beachy areas.

So what did I do in this wonderful country? Everything!  I visited a couple of national parks and saw an active volcano (took some lava rock to give to my little nephew per his request). I saw mammoth iguanas, little geckos/lizards, sloths, toucan birds, tons of other exotic birds, 3 different types of monkey's (howler and white faced monkey's where my favorites), and a coral snake and 2 poisonous little frogs. Oh, and a wild deer that was so used to people it walked right along you and you could touch it.

Here are some highlights from my trip:
1.We stopped at a rural school where we met about 40 preschool to 12y/o children who attempted to sing in English and in Spanish and did some traditional dances for us.  Then one child grabbed a hold of each of our hands and escorted us around the school showing us where everything is.  They gave us cookies, pineapple and juice afterwords.  We brought school supplies (which I brought all art related materials) and some of the money from the cost of my trip went to donate to the school to purchase things like supplies and computers. My dance partner and tour guide was a 10 y/o boy named Jordan. He was very sweet.

2. I tried some new foods like calamari (ick), plantains (not so bad if crispy), rice pudding (a small amount is good), coconut flan (not to bad but it's not chocolate), a type of fish (that wasn't fishy tasting), hart of palms (yew) and avocado (which I actually really ended up liking and having multiple times on the trip). Oh, and I can't forget to mention juice, juice and more juice. Juice replaces water if you live in CR (I tried sooo many different kinds of juice I can't remember them all.)

3. Bugs- The insects weren't as bad as I expected. I didn't get bit up until the next to last day when I went canyoning. Hopefully I didn't bring home any Costa Rican bug illness.  However, in the last hotel most of us ended up having some type of insect problem.  One had geckos living in their doorway and would find some randomly in the bathroom. Another had a giant and I mean giant (I saw the picture before the kill) spider that crawled out of her suitcase one day and later that night a gentleman found that giant carpenter ants had colonized in his suitcase when he went to pick out some clothes and found over 100 ants crawling around.  My tiny ants in the bathroom the entire time seemed small in comparison to others issues.

4. Apparently the water system in CR doesn't handle toilet paper to well so you have to put all and I mean ALL toilet paper in the waste basket every time you use the toilet. (double yewwww)

5. Tours I would recommend if you visit CR that were a blast:

  • Quepo Canyoning which hosts 7 fun filled adventures (waterfall rappelling, monkey drop, suspension bridge crossing, tree climbing, inclined rappelling, zip lines, and treetop rappelling.
  • 100% Selvatura Canopy Tour in Monteverde hosts the longest zip line in Latin America and the Mega Tarzan Swing.
  • Visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Gallery of Hummingbirds.
  • The Don Juan Coffee/ Ca-cow Tour was pretty good. I was highly disappointed in the taste of Ca-cow (or cocoa beans).
  • A tour of Manuel Antonio National Park and beach.
  • A walking tour of the Las Coladas trail in Arenal National Park
  • Stop at Sarchi, an artisan town and check out the traditional oxcart painting and watch men actually painting the oxcart and other handmade items.
  • Definitely take a trip the EcoTermales Hot Springs or another one of the one throughout CR. You will NOT regret it.
  • Eat at The Alvion for dinner while in Manuel Antonio- it's an actually plane from the US that broke down and landed in CR in the 70's and the US government denied it was theirs because it was carrying weapons and intended for a country it shouldn't have been heading toward.  Another great place to eat is the Tree House in Monteverde. Extremely unique. The restaurant was built around a huge tree so while you eating there you are outdoors and up on the second story of the tree house. Very cool!
  • Other things recommended by other people I met; Catamaran day with snorkeling and ATV riding.
6.  One of the best parts of the trip was all of the people I met from all over. I can't say enough about how fun they made my trip and I have plans to stay in touch with many of them.  (By the way CR men are pretty hot!)

7. Prepare for bad roads. Ugggg, I'm lucky to have my kidneys!  So many dirt and gravel roads that were narrow and curvy. Although it's a small country and you wouldn't think it would take long to get from one place to another, it DOES. Plan to spend many hours on the bus or if you are renting a car you will for sure need a passenger to help navigate. I heard even GPS isn't much of a help there.

Tips I've learned for the next time I travel:
1. Make sure your sunscreen isn't out of date: Although I applied mine 3x's one day I still got burned and then I looked and it had been expired since 2012. Oops!
2. If it's hot and humid and you go in any kind of forest, despite what anyone else says, put insect repellent on.
3. Always always bring a sportsbra!  It sucks to run in a regular underwire bra and you will pay for it even a week later. Have Band-Aids ready.
4. Learn some Spanish before going. Guides could speak some English but most others couldn't.
5. Be prepared to pay a departure tax when leaving some countries, like CR which makes you by a $29 departure fee to even leave their country. (In almost all restaurants tax and gratuity is automatically figured into the price you view for the food. High taxes and 10% gratuity is what to expect.)
6. As always, expect to be angry at the airlines!

Below are some of my favorite pics from the trip. Enjoy!
Until next time "Pura Vida".

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The "Dreadful" Project, Glass Fusion, Creative Cards, A Cappella, and Running Milestones

This past week found me extremely busy with a lot on my plate.  It was a very productive, exhausting and yet uplifting week.  Read on to hear about all of my adventures!

1. 6x6 Art Exhibit-  I put up the student 6x6 art exhibit this week. Yes, I know it's a bit crooked but hey I'm not perfect.  It definitely makes the dining hall look more colorful and fun.

2. The "Dreadful" Project- I was checking my email during lunch Monday and since I'm involved with the Sketchbook Project, I'm on their email list to be notified when new projects begin.  The email I received was a call out for FREE partcipation in a new project called The "Dreadful" Project.  This project is a collaboration with Showtime, The New Yorker and The Sketchbook Project.  Below is a description of the project from the following link;

The "Dreadful" Project

In the Shadows
With The “Dreadful” Project, we invite you to set your nightmares to paper. Sign up and we’ll mail you the official “Dreadful” Project card, to sketch and narrate a little piece of your own horror tale, inspired by the theme In the Shadows. Illustrate a monster, create an eerie scene, share your greatest fear or whatever lurks within us all.
With support from Showtime and the new original series “Penny Dreadful,” this is a free project open to only 1,000 participants. Select works may be featured in a special insert in The New Yorker and online. See full rules below and visit NewYorkerOntheTown.comfor more on this unique project.

I decided to sign up for the project because it sounded pretty cool, it was a global open event and it was free.  They only had space for the first 1,000 registrants and it was filled up within 2 hours.  I was around number 750 to register.  It wasn't until later that night as I was more thoroughly reading about the project that I realized the artwork was due by March 19th. This was not good since I'm leaving very soon for vacation and would be gone for 10 days.  
Although I had a busy week I started sketching an idea Wednesday on lunch and by Friday had started drawing and painting the piece. I ended up using these paints I've never tried or heard of before called Gouache.  The material was weird to work with as it was kind of like watercolor and kind of like acrylic paint with more of a tempera look to it.  Here is how the paint is described by an online search:
Gouache is a type of paint, and its main appeal is that it is water-based. Other than that, it is very similar to acrylics. However, the fact that it's water-based renders it different uses than acrylics. It could also be described as concentrated watercolors, which makes it heavier and more opaque.

It took many layers and a tiny paintbrush to do some really small details on my piece but I got it finished Friday night. I have to say I'm really pleased with the results.  What's even cool for me is that it all came from my head. I didn't reference anything! Kind of scary huh? Below are some photos however it was really hard to get all of the details to show up.  I wish you could see the details as it looks way better in person. I won't tell you what my nightmare is about and will leave it to your interpretation!  Feel free to comment and share your thoughts of what my nightmare is about. I doubt my artwork will be picked to be displayed in The New Yorker but hey you never know!

3.  Faculty/Staff Art Exhibit- Friday morning I helped to hang up the faculty/staff art exhibit in the college library where I work.  There is a lot of unique and beautiful work in the exhibit.  Some of my favorites are 3 winter images taken on campus after a fresh heavy snow. They are framed and mated wonderfully and the composition is beautiful. What's even more surprising is that the photographer works dispatch in our Campus Safety Office and considers himself an amateur photographer. This is one of the things I love about this art exhibit in particular, you always get surprised at who created the artwork and what their position is at the college. There are some extremely gifted artists at my work place!

See my piece!

The quilt is made by my grad advisor.

4.  Glass Fusion Pendant Making- As I've mentioned before, I'm a member of a Meetup group called Rochester Artists and Craftpersons.  I attended another art gathering event at Deborah's house again and this time there was 6 of us that were taught glass fusion and created 5 pendant necklaces over two days.  Deborah and her husband were very nice to open their home to us all and Deborah provided all of the supplies.  She even has a kiln in her home!  We designed and put the glass pendants together on Saturday and then went back Sunday evening to take them out of the kiln, add the bails on the back and learn to make adjustable cord necklaces.  One of the aspects I love most about any type of glass work is that you never know how it will turn out once the glass melts.

My pieces are the center column- pre-kiln firing.

All of our pieces.

The group of us.

My finished pendants.

Me modeling one of my finished necklaces.

5.  A Cappella Tournament- My friends invited me to go with them to the regional college A Cappella tournament held at Syracuse University this past Saturday evening. Since I have enjoyed attending the A Cappella concerts put on at the college I work for and I enjoyed the movie Pitch Perfect, I decided to go.  We had a really good time. The show was very long and we didn't get home until 1am but it was worth it. Way more my taste than the ballet performance we went to a month ago.  Although the one downfall was a guy sitting in front of me that my friends and I noticed smelled like really bad BO! It was totally gross smelling that for 3.5 hours!

Yep, this is the quality of pictures when taken with my 2nd craptastic phone. Definitely not what it looked like from the naked eye.

6.  Stampin Up Creative Cards-  My friend Marcy is a card making genius and recently became a Stampin Up demonstrator.  She held a party today and I had a great time creating cards and eating a lot of goodies.  Loved her peanut butter chocolate no bake cookies. I'm salivating just thinking about them!

I loved that Marcy is so awesome that she doesn't use the general Stampin Up card designs and instead spent a lot of creative energy designing totally one of a kind cards. She's amazing!  What's better then creating, eating good food, listening to great music, and hanging out with friends?!  If you live in the Rochester area and want to throw a card making party, I'd definitely recommend my friend. Contact me if you want her info.!

The mustache/British invasion card is cool because it's stands up and is called the "easel" design.

7.  Baby Onesie-  My mom bought this onesie after seeing an idea on Pinterest. She mailed the onesie to me and sent me the Pinterest link and asked me to create this project for the baby shower we are going to be having for my sister (again I can post this because my sister never looks at my blog and won't see it).  It's a cute idea and at the shower you have each person that comes sign the onesie.  I got it started. I used fabric markers on this project. Here's the link to the original Pinterest post;

8.  12.6 Miles-  So I haven't been running that much lately. In fact only 3 times last week though they were longer runs.  I woke up in a good mood and decided today would be the day that I would run 13.1 miles for the first time.  My run went pretty darn well until I hit mile 12 and bumped up my speed (I think I got overly confident and excited that I was almost at my goal).  Then my body just fell to pieces. I got a really bad cramp on my right side that just continued to get worse. I tried really hard to push through it but it just didn't happen. I had to stop at 12.6 though I walked it out until I hit 13. On one hand I was highly disappointed that I couldn't make it another half mile but then I tried to think optimistically, I still ended up running farther than I ever have before!