Playing with Illustrator

ImageSo, I’ve long been using Photoshop for all the design work I’ve done, and that’s fine for most things, but it can’t export high-quality vector files, and that’s what screenprinters usually use for t-shirts. I remember sending an amazing design to the printer for my college’s marching band, and being told they couldn’t use it because it wasn’t built into an EPS file. Eventually, they figured they would just replicate it themselves using Illustrator, but I’m sure we probably got charged extra. :\

And so, the other night, I decided it was high time for me to start learning how to use Illustrator. I know it’s got more powerful tools for exporting high-quality vectors. The poster at left is the first thing I’ve ever made, and it’s mostly an exercise with learning to control the Pen tool. I decided to make a concert poster for a concert my college orchestra did my senior year, because the piece performed has become one of my favorites. You can read about it here, but Ralph Vaughan Williams essentially orchestrated the Song of Solomon. I chose the lily for two reasons:

1. The English translation of the (Latin) title “Flos Campi” is “Flower of the Field”. 

2. The first movement’s title is a verse from the Song of Solomon: “As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.” 

I think it’s fitting. The blue is intended to be mountains, not that mountains are mentioned, but I figured they’d be fairly striking. 

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In case you’re interested…

I recently wrote a guest post on the running blog Technically Running about keto and how the keto diet is better for endurance sports like running vs. a high carbohydrate diet (conventional running wisdom). I posted links to actual journal articles too, so it’s not just me playing armchair nutritionist. 🙂 

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keto: one month later

As of tomorrow, it will officially be one month since I went grocery shopping and decided to give up on carbohydrates entirely. I didn’t think it would last – I have never made it more than a few days (or even hours) on any other sort of diet before, so I’m pleased I have stuck this out for this long, and that it doesn’t feel like a lot of work to stick to. I’m very proud of posting this picture. The two shirts are different, but they are the same cut and size, and as you can see, I’m going to need some new ones in a bit.  I don’t have the counts on my weight just yet – I don’t actually own a scale, and the times I have been weighed were either at the doctor’s office or using friends’ bathroom scales. (It’s probably a worthwhile investment.)

It’s been an interesting month, too. I cook a lot more than I used to, still eat the occasional fast food (bunless McDoubles and Diet Coke are a favorite), drink a lot more water than I used to, and eat a lot of salad, even to the point of being sick of salad. It’s nice that my social life hasn’t been compromised because of substitutions being readily available at most restaurants.

I’ve had a wide range of reactions when I explain my diet, as well. Everything from “That sounds really neat!” to “But you need carbs! You know, to LIVE!” and “Oh my god, you’re going to have a heart attack.”

I know I feel great, I’ve lost a lot of weight and can’t keep my pants up anymore, my shirts hang off of me, and I absolutely need more – smaller – work shirts.

The magic of it is that it isn’t really magic at all. The problem I had with most diets before was that it was miserable, and human beings don’t generally stick to something that makes them miserable. This diet doesn’t make me miserable, and staying in a state of ketosis is kind of a fun challenge.

Here’s to another month (and many more)!

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Did I move to Florida overnight? Seriously.


Dearest Michigan, State I love –

If I recall, last year at this time, we weren’t out of winter yet. Nicholas Stoller, the director of Five Year Engagement, noted that when they were filming on May 26th, it was snowing still.

I expect this business in July, or even late June, Michigan. Now is not the time for cold showers for the sake of cooling off or the glaring inadequacy of my dual box-fan setup in its task of cooling off my (albeit tiny) apartment, or even being afraid of using the oven in such a confined space.

Get it together, and show me some May flowers or something.
❤ Ally

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never write a blog entry after 2am

I wish I could be less vague, but sometimes, I feel like I just never win.

I am grateful, though, that I have a day off tomorrow, after over a week straight of work. It’s been a pretty exhausting wee

k. I’m fairly certain I slept 13 hours yesterday, exhausted from getting little sleep Monday (just because I couldn’t fall asleep) and then waking up at 5 Tuesday to bring a friend to the airport.

Which is strange in and of itself – every airline trip I have ever taken, it’s been a morning flight that is dark and rainy at my origin, and warm and sunny at my destination. Maybe it’s because I’m usually always leaving Michigan. I don’t know.

This led me to spend hours planning a vacation that I probably won’t get a chance to take for a long time, because those things, y’know, cost money. I’m not even sure where I’d go. Seattle? DC? Austin? Denver/Colorado Springs to visit my dad? To be honest though, I just like flying, and I love airports. Not enough to pursue a career as a flight attendant or pilot or something, but there’s something unexplainable about them that I love, and it’s got nothing to do with people-watching.

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My desktop of the month for May.


I know I just set up the desktop/Geektool arrangement with the cat, but I’m trying to get back a monthly schedule of updating my desktop. Notable features: the invisible dock and inverted kiosk bar, and the superimposed foreground. That was, pardon my french, a bitch to line up. Not as informational as last time, but that’s okay – I think it would have been pretty difficult to fit everything in nicely.

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Keto-friendly peanut butter cookies

The hardest thing about going keto was giving up sweets. Truth be told, I wasn’t a big meat-eater to begin with, and liked baked goods and candy way too much. I mean, they’re probably why I had to go on keto in the first place, right?

The one main benefit of this diet is that has forced me to be a little more creative in the kitchen, and learning how to make substitutions and adaptations. I’m not quite sure where I found this recipe, but it’s super-duper easy.

You will need:
1 large egg
1 cup peanut butter (I just used Jif even though it’s a little carbier than natural peanut butter)
1 cup Splenda
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
And for the pictured batch, I added one tablespoon of cocoa powder,  just to see what would happen. 🙂

(Spoiler: It turn out pretty well. Not much of a chocolate taste to it. Don’t add too much or it’ll change the consistency of the dough.)

All you really need to do is mix the ingredients until they have a dough-like consistency.

Ball them up. I went with balls about the width of a quarter. Arrange them on a pan covered with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, an ungreased cookie sheet would work, but everything is easier with parchment paper.
 And then go ahead and make those signature peanut-butter-cookie fork marks by pressing the fork in twice, rotating it 90 degrees between presses. I’m pretty sure they don’t taste the same without them.

 12 minutes at 350 should do it. Luckily they don’t spread at all, so as long as they’re not touching, you’re golden. You do, however, want to let the finished product sit and cool a while. There’s no flour as a binder, so they do tend to crumble pretty easily. I haven’t tried them with (zero-carb almond) milk yet, though.
Yum. If you’re diabetic or can’t have gluten or dairy, these also work – no wheat products, and only 3.3 net carbs per cookie.

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