Tag Archives: illustrations

The ‘Blow Me’ Birthday Hat

So on Thursday I turned the big 2-9. This is crazy to me. I can’t believe how close I am to 30. It seriously feels like just last year I was 20!

Actually, I can remember my 20th birthday so vividly, I am going to tell you the story.

For my birthday that year, my best friend Lisa planned a big night out for me at a bar in Peterborough (for you Ontarians, and if you are not from Ontario, please note the legal drinking age in Canada is 19, so we were all well and legal).

I used to absolutely LOVE the bars in Peterborough, as it was a huge university town, the bars were always rammed, and it was always such a great (and random) time. Some of the best nights of my life were in Peterborough.

It is a fairly small town, and I always felt that the people there were genuinely nice. Whenever I would go to the bathroom in one of the bars, all the girls in there would be like “OMG I loooove your necklace!”, “Where did you get your shirt?”, and “You are so beautiful tonight!”

And I would come out of the bathroom with about eight new best friends.

Unlike the bars in Toronto, where all you got was side eye and no new friends.

Anyway, on my birthday night, we all met up at Lisa’s house before the bar for pre-drinks, and my friend Joel brought me a birthday hat to wear. It was a huge hat, shaped like an oversized candle, and it said “Blow me, it’s my birthday.”

I loved it and thought it was hilarious, so obviously I wore it to the bar.

As in, blow out my candle. Get your minds out of the gutter you cheeky cats.

The hat was a huge hit. I have never seen another hat like it, before or since, and everyone was fawning over it. It was a conversation piece for sure.

The bar was packed, so the giant candle ended up being a useful tool in helping my friends find me. If they were ever unsure as to where I was, they told me later that all they had to do was look across the bar over the top of everyone’s heads, and there my hat would be, bobbing in the distance.

I could be spotted immediately. Very handy.

At one point, the girls and I were dancing in a group on a small stage, having a fab time being wild and crazy gals. And it’s possible we were being a bit obnoxious. We may have been bumping into people slightly (it was busy, you never know…)

And then out of nowhere, someone pushed me hard.

I wasn’t expecting it. I went flying off the stage, hat and all.

I landed on my bum, on the floor, in someone’s spilled drink. My butt was all wet, and my hat had fallen off and landed in a puddle of drink and was now all wet and dirty.

I was so embarrassed. Someone deliberately shoved me off the stage, and what the heck!? It was my birthday! How dare someone push me on my birthday? I had the hat on! Clearly I was cool and fun.

I looked up at the stage to see who had done it, and there she was. A girl who I didn’t know. She was standing there, arms crossed in front of her, staring at me, with a smug smile on her face.

She looked happy with herself. She looked proud of herself.

Everything stopped for me in that moment. Everything else in the bar was a blur. The cheesy dance music was muffled in my ears. All I saw was this girl who had just shoved me on my birthday, made my hat fall off and get all wet and dirty, embarrass me in front of my friends, and then look happy about it. And this was Peterborough. I loved Peterborough. Everyone was supposed to be nice.

I have never in my life been so angry.

Let me just say, it takes a lot to make me mad. I’m pretty easy going, and it is really difficult to get me actually angry (unless you are my parents, then it can happen instantly).

But this girl’s smug expression was too much. It drove me over the edge. I was absolutely enraged. How dare she? Who did she think she was? No no no.

I snatched my hat off the floor, shoved it back on my head, climbed back onto the stage, walked over to her, and just started yelling.

I was all “How could you push me?! It’s my birthday! I am wearing a hat! Do you see this hat? Do you have a hat? No, you DON’T have a hat. It is MY hat, because it’s MY birthday, and you do NOT push the birthday girl!”

My friends were at my side. My friend Lisa told me later that she was shocked at my reaction, and it was so hilarious to her because it was the first time she had ever seen me truly angry at someone.

The girl was not taking my yelling, and in typical girl fashion, she threw her drink in my face.

Which prompted two of my other friends to both throw their drinks on her at the same time.

It was just a big drink-throwing fest.

And then, the girl got kicked out.

And all was well again.

And the Blow Me It’s my Birthday hat lived on.




How to Create a Cartoon Post

The question I get asked the most in relation to blogging is definitely something along the lines of, how in the name of pizza do you draw your cartoons?

When Paula posted this on my Facebook page

I was instantly down.

This morning someone asked me where I find the cartoons I include in my posts, because they go so well with what I’m writing about. I was all “No no, silly pants, I draw them!”

So I guess this needs some clearing up. Here we go.

A lot of other people who use illustrations on their blogs use MS Paint (or the Mac equivalent) to draw them (Hyperbole and a Half, for example), but I prefer to use Adobe Illustrator (like The Oatmeal).

(source) and (source)

The end result is similar, but you can see some differences. Illustrator is a little smoother, and a bit more polished looking.

Illustrator is more of a graphic design program, so I’m familiar with it because I use it a lot for work. For doing posters and stuff though…I don’t get to draw random pictures of myself doing stupid things for work. That would be nice.

Well, I did once:

The first “drawing” I ever did. It includes all my coworkers and myself, and it was a gift for my coworker Brian (Lord Byron in the front there. Holding the cheese because he is cheesy.)

Anyway, Illustrator is similar to Paint, but it’s a bit more complicated, and it has a lot of options that Paint does not. Honestly, the reason I use it over Paint is because I find it to be a bit more forgiving. When you draw an image, it’s made up of lines and curves, which can be manipulated. You can fix things easily, and select different things like a hand, or a shoe, and copy and paste them, or move them around.

So if you notice in my drawings, most of the characters are wearing the same shoes because I’m too lazy to draw them again and usually just copy and paste them.

In Paint, you can’t manipulate something you have already drawn, you have to erase it if you want to change it. You can’t copy and paste things. Kind of like drawing in real life…

Anyway, I’m sure no one cares about that, so moving on. It’s basically the same result no matter what program you use.

For a story I’ll usually write it out first, and then draw some sketches and make sure it’s going to work illustrated, and then I get to work.

I start with a blank page.

I select my little paintbrush and my stroke size, and then I just start drawing! If I’m drawing myself, I use the shape tool to make a circle for my face, and then I fill it with colour.

I draw my hair next, using the freehand paintbrush.

(you can see the little nodes along the line. Those are vectors, and can be moved around and manipulated, so I can fix it if it looks off.)

I again use the circle tool to make my eyes, which I colour in. And then I draw my mouth and make it rouuuuuge.

Next I need a body! I use the paintbrush to draw my dress.

And then I fill it in.

But obviously that looks weird in front of my face, so I select my whole face and bring it to the front, but leave my hair in the back.

There. Easy-peasy.

Oh, but I need arms, obviously. So I use the paintbrush tool and draw those puppies.


I think crappy drawings are funny, so I don’t try to make them even close to perfect.

And if I want to change the direction of one of my arms, I can easily select it, and flip it.

And delete my smile and instead draw a frown.

And rotate myself.

And duplicate myself!

Sometimes I will copy and paste my body and head into another drawing of myself, and just re-draw my limbs and facial expressions to save time (again, because I am lazy).

You can draw anything!

Here is a kitty cat.

But his body looks a little small for his head, so let me just adjust that…


And here is a unicorn that I drew.

And here is a cat riding that unicorn.

This is a more complicated drawing I did in Illustrator (for this post):

And what it looks like when everything is selected in the program…

For my subway story, I had to draw a turnstile door. It was a bit complicated, so I looked at a picture of a real subway turnstile door as I was drawing it so it would look like the real deal.

And when it’s selected in Illustrator, here is what that looks like, so you can kinda see how I drew it:

A lot of using the rectangle tool.

I just use the trackpad on my MacBook to draw stuff. No fancy drawing tablet or anything, and I don’t usually use a mouse, even at work.

And that is that! The mystery is solved. So may you go forth and create your own cartoons!

And here is a picture of a cat riding a unicorn into the sunset.

And yes, I drew that.


The Time I Almost Got Arrested

It is story time my friends. But first, a little back story before we get to the cartoon fun. Bear with me for un momento.

You have may seen (heard? read?) me mention before that I grew up in the middle of nowhere. This is no exaggeration. The closest store to my house was about 7km away, and the closest city with a mall was at least 40 minutes driving. I lived basically in a forest, on a lake (perfect for seeing ghosts, and falling out of trees, as you know).

If we wanted to go shopping or to the movies, our parents had to drive us. This was very annoying, although probably more for them than us, as I am starting to realize now.

This also made going on a typical date in high school extremely difficult. My most important quality in a boy when I was 16? Having his own car. When I started dating a guy who was two years older and had his own car, well yeah, he was a catch. Ohh how my tastes have changed.

But I digress.

I grew up somewhere that was amazing, and safe for adventuring, but not the greatest for shopping, and other city activities.

However, my beautiful little Nana has always lived in Toronto, pretty close to downtown. I stayed at her house in the city quite often, and many times I brought friends along for the ride. My friend Dawn (<- remember her guest post?!) was a frequent visitor.

Staying with my Nana was always a big adventure, because we were not from “the city” and everything was new and exciting to us.

One thing that was new and exciting was the subway. Dawn and I loved taking the subway places because it made us feel independent. We weren’t old enough to drive, and buses were so confusing, but my nana had shown me the ropes of the subway, and on the subway we could actually get around! We didn’t need our parents to drop us off, we were free!

But we were not the most subway savvy…

One day in the summer when Dawn and I were about 15, we were staying at my Nana’s, and we decided to take the subway by ourselves to the mall. Conveniently enough, there was a subway stop directly across the street from my Nana’s apartment building. Once we got over there, we decided to skip the guy at the ticket counter, and just pay the machine to get our subway tokens.

If you did the self token thang, you had to put your token in a machine, and then go through a glass revolving door that would get you through to the trains. Once you paid your token and went through, the door would lock, so the next person would have to pay their token. There was also a regular door on either side of the revolving door, so people leaving the trains could get out.

Perhaps a visual will help you.

I don’t remember why, but we only paid for one token ($2). I am going to assume we only had enough change for one and were too lazy to go back to the ticket guy. We decided that it would be a good idea to put in one token, go through the revolving door together, and get to the other side to the trains. (Please note we were generally good girls, and scamming the subway isn’t something we would usually do…)

Anyway, we paid our token, and crammed into the revolving door.

And all started to go well. The door started to turn…and then it stopped. It stopped dead in the middle, leaving us trapped inside the door. We were unable to get back out to where we came from, and there was only a tiny crack to get through to the trains.

We had no idea why the door would suddenly stop and leave us trapped, but we figured it just got stuck. After being obnoxious and screaming “HELP US!”…


We figured we had to go through the tiny crack to get out.

Dawn was first, and had minimal problems squeezing herself through. It looked promising. I was next.

I had some troubles. I could not squeeze through standing up…my big nungas (yeah, they were big even then) were hindering my escape to freedom!

After several minutes of trying unsuccessfully to squeeze my body through, I laid down on the dirty subway floor, and, arms first, tried to make my way through the crack.

Once I got past my shoulders, my nungas were once again proving to be a problem. I was stuck. Dawn grabbed my hands from the other side and pulled me, while I wiggled like a worm trying to squeeze my body through.

Oh, and I should mention, the entire time this was happening people were leaving the trains and going through the doors on either side. And staring at us like we were crazy people.


Some people looked quite angry.

I tried to block them out and concentrate on the task at hand.

Finally, I broke free of the evil door and made it out to the other side. I got up off the floor, dusted myself off, and Dawn and I were all “Phew! That was close!” and laughed and laughed about what just happened. Why would the door just stop like that? So weird!

We made our way down to the trains to wait for the next subway.

When we arrived beside the tracks, we heard a voice on the loudspeaker.

This had no meaning to us.

And then again.

And we were all…

So we ignored the voice, and sat down nonchalantly on a bench to wait for the train.

And then we heard:

We couldn’t ignore it any longer. The voice was talking to us, and it meant serious business. The mention of the police was terrifying, so we had no choice but to go upstairs.

We went back through the doors we had squeezed through (the actual door side though), and arrived at the ticket counter, where the ticket man was waiting. He looked angrier than I had ever seen anyone look in my life. His head looked like it may explode.

We got reamed out huge.

It was very scary.

After being yelled at and told we were terrible people for several minutes, he let us off with a warning. We both had to pay again, so in the end our antics lost us $2.

And we never tried to sneak on the subway again.

The end.