The alm Project

The Mourning Dove Tale

by Al - February 23rd, 2017

I know that I should like all Gods creatures and what not, but I gotta tell you, I don’t! I don’t like creepy crawlers – frogs, lizards, snakes – I don’t like rodents, possums, raccoons, armadillos; I don’t like birds, especially pigeons, they are rude and intrusive. So, if I dislike critters so much, why do they keep popping up in my designs? Well, may be it’s because the little buggers are kinda adorable form afar.

Anyway, this is a story about a family of  mourning doves (aka turtle doves) and how I was inspired to create something beautiful.

I recently became a condo dweller. I figured, living in a condo will keep certain creatures out of my garden – I mean, if you live in a high rise, you should not have to worry about animals bothering you, right? Well, if those animals are birds, you are gonna just have to deal.

I have a kick ass condo container garden on my balcony. I practically live on that balcony, next to crossfit, it’s my happy place. One morning I was chilling with a cup of coffee in my garden and I noticed that a pair of Mourning doves were paying particular attention to the shaded portion of my sanctuary. But I did not notice that they were building a nest. This became clear when I tried watering the plants and I had the bejesus scared out of me by a panicked mourning bird. Once my nerves were calmed I investigated and found a nest with 2 eggs. My first thought was to fry them up and make an omelet – after all, eggs are a huge part of my paleo diet, and these are organic – but, I decided against it. Some how meeting your meal’s parents made earing it less appealing. Instead, I commenced operation bird watching! I was gonna embrace the squatters in my garden although I was a smidge irritated because I was unable to adequately tend to that part of my garden. Thankfully, most of may plants are drought tolerant, so they did not need watering.

I watched and I witnessed the birth of the hatchlings. I kept watching, and witnessed their eyes opening and their feathers growing in. I watched them being fed and I watched the nestlings grow. But there was something peculiar about one of the babies, it seemed a little lazy. It was not thriving, its movement was minimal and it was not as enthused about eating as its sibling.

Soon, the parents were leaving them for longer periods of time and while one baby bird strutted around eagerly, the other just kinda chilled – occasionally attempting a wobbly stance.

One afternoon I was tending to my plants and I saw something that was no less than amazing, if not a little disturbing. The more robust nestling seeming kicked the weaker one out of the nest. It bounced off a few of my planters eventually stumbling to the ground. It tried getting up, but its frail neck just flopped to the side and after a few minutes it stopped moving. I kept watching, hoping against hope that it would be miraculously revived, but no such miracle. Talk about sibling rivalry. I felt a little less guilty about the whole omelet thing.

Then, I heard a faint cooing behind me. I looked towards the sound and saw the parents. They did not come up to the balcony, they stayed in the parking lot and softly cooed all the time gazing steadfastly at the nest. I looked at the surviving fledging and it was flapping its wings excitedly. It kept flapping until it built up enough momentum and it flew to the parking lot to meet the parents. One of the parents wondered off a few yards (I am guessing it was the dad); but the other parent – clearly the mom 🙂 – kept looking at the balcony, cooing ever so softly but incessantly. She kept at it for about 20 minute, then she was joined by ‘dad’. Junior was exploring (quite unconcerned) close by.  They kept cooing until it was dark and I could no longer see them.

The following afternoon I was getting out of my car and as I stepped out of the vehicle, an obviously freaked out fledging hurriedly flew out of the path of my size 10 feet. I was happy to see that it had made it through the night without the feral cats in my complex making a meal out of it. That same afternoon, the parents stopped by my balcony and hung out for a little while. I imagine they are still hoping to find the baby. I wonder if they blame me for its demise.

Each time I see the story in my minds eyes, I do not see my balcony, instead, I see rolling hills, grassy knolls, babbling brooks, the beach…I started sketching and came up with this:


I’ve been in a coaster making phase lately – they are easy to whip up and with my friends and family scattered all over the world, they are easily shipped when I need to send them a hand crafted gifts.



I always carry around a notebook – just in case I get inspired. I can sketch, journal or take notes. So I whipped up a few of those as well.



This morning two morning doves stopped by my balcony. I hope they know that I am not accepting any squatters this year. IJS

Did you know that you can sell on Amazon using Shopify?

by Al - January 25th, 2017

How to Sell on Amazon Using Shopify

The new Shopify integration with Amazon makes it easier than ever to list your products on the world’s largest marketplace – Amazon. While your online store showcases your brand and offers the most control over customer experience, expanding the ways you sell with Shopify allows you to do even more. For the right businesses, selling on Amazon can increase sales by reaching new shoppers who are not already familiar with your company.

Shopify’s Amazon sales channel lets you:

  • Create new Amazon listings in Fashion, Apparel and Accessories directly from Shopify
  • For products that exist on Amazon, create offers directly from Shopify in any category
  • Sync product details, variants and images to your Amazon Seller Central account
  • Link Shopify products with your existing Amazon listings for any category
  • Set unique price and reserve inventory just for Amazon listings
  • Easily reconcile revenue from Amazon sales using Shopify reports
  • Sync inventory tracked by Shopify with Amazon listing
  • Fulfill Amazon orders directly from Shopify

Continue reading for full details on how to sell on Amazon using Shopify!


Start your free trial


Introducing Super Greens

by Al - April 6th, 2016

Super Greens

Dear Friend,

Our ancient ancestors never took “vitamins.”

Everything they needed for a lean, energetic body was in the food they ate.

But those days are gone…

And, our ancestors never faced the sea of toxic chemicals you and I are exposed to every day.

And their fruits and vegetables were packed FULL of nutrients, untainted by Big Agra’s pesticides and depleted soil.

Today, you’d have to eat an incredible 10 servings of our vegetables to get all the nutrients of just one serving 50 years ago.

You see, today’s produce is genetically designed to be bright and shiny on the outside so it looks enticing on a store shelf. But inside, you’re left with fruits and vegetables that have almost no vitamins or minerals.

But there is a solution.

And that’s why I’m writing to you today.

Today, I’ll show you a “better than vitamins” green miracle that not only lifts your energy, helps you burn excess fat, and improves your joint comfort… but actually helps sweep hundreds of potentially harmful toxins out of your body.

So please take a moment and read this free special report. I can’t sit by and watch as you miss out on the nutrients you need to stay young, vibrant, and full of energy. Just click here:

To Your Good Health,


Al Sears, M.D., C.N.S

Kettlebell inspired Planter

by Al - January 25th, 2016

Who else but yours truly would be inspired to create a plant pot while doing kettlebell swings? I did an illustration of ‘skull’ several years ago when I was going through my Ed Hardy, skull phase – truth, I was mulling over getting a tattoo but I chickened out – it looks like it hurts…A LOT. Anyway, since the design was generic and unoriginal, I stashed it away in the archives.


Fast forward 6 years later, I am at the box/gym doing the Work Out Of the Day (WOD) – 4 rounds 7 heavy kettle bell swings – and as I am swinging a 44 lbs kettlebell, I was inspired! Have you seen those kettle bells that look like a skull? Well, for some reason, swinging that kettle bell reminded me of the image I had tucked away. Plus the 4 rounds of 15 box jumps and 4 rounds of 10 toes to bars had me seeing dead people.

skull Kettle bell

Skull Kettle bell

Check out the process and the results.

I found a few patriotic boxes at Tuesday Mornings, they were not my style, but they reminded me of box jump boxes and they were only .75 cents so I grabbed all 4 that was left in the store.

  • I measured each side of the boxes:
  • Next, I manipulated the image in illustrator, sizing them to fit the box.
  • I printed them on ‘sticker’ paper, cut them to size then applied several coats of  Mod Podge – allowing each coat to dry in between application. You may print the image to regular paper – printing them to sticker paper simply eliminate the gluing the paper to the box step
  • I peeled the paper from the back of the image, exposing the sticky side, then I affixed the image to the box, trimming where necessary
  • I sprayed a final coat of Mod Podge and plopped in my plant.


BTW, check out the VILDAPEL from Ikea – doesn’t it look like a mini box jump box? Can you tell that I am a little obsessed with Crossfit 🙂


I may have to do a project with this flower pot.



CrossFit and Crochet Braids

by Al - August 13th, 2015

I am on a personal quest to find an easily maintained hair style that will hold up to the rigors of a high intensity cross fit workout. I tried the twist (the hair twist that is), both the strait and the kinky and of course the ever popular relaxer. Each had its pros and cons – the strait twists were too heavy, the kinky twists were too itchy and the relaxer lost its luster after a single workout. However, all were easily styled and the twists were practically maintenance free.

I asked my ultra stylish niece for a few hair style suggestions and she told me about crochet braids. I was intrigued – I have done a few crochet projects but I never thought that I could apply this process to my hair. I did a Google search and my interest was piqued. Next came a search for a stylist that could do this particular braiding technique. It took a few weeks, but I finally found a local stylist who specialized in crochet braiding.

Here’s the process.

    1. She did about 13 Corn rows in my hair starting at the front of my head, continuing to the back.
    2. She used small pieces of Mali Hair and crocheted it onto the cornrowed hair using a latch hook crochet needle. (Tons of to do videos on line)

      crotched braids

      My crotched head 🙂

    3. Once she completed the entire head, she rolled the hair onto perm rods – I haven’t seen those in a while – so American Hustle 🙂



crotched braids

Remember the perm rods?

  1. Next, she dipped each rolled section in HOT water. I gotta tell you, I was a little freaked out by that part of the process. But, I came away unscathed.
  2. Finally, the perm rods were removed and viola…
View from the back

View from the back

I did an on line search for hair care tips for people of color who worked out and the results were minimal. So, I had to come up with my own routine. I simply pulled my ‘hair’ back using a hair tie to hold it in place, then I covered my curls with a sating bonnet.

The WOD (Work Out of the Day) for the first day after I got my crochet braids done was as follows: –

Day 1: 2-PARTS WOD
Part 1
Snatch + Overhead Squat
*Build to heavy complex

Part 2
For Time (8 Minute Time Cap)
5 Rounds of:
-5 Power Snatch
-5 Toes to Bar
-5 Handstand Push Ups

My hair took a licking, but it kept on ticking. This was not a very sweat work out. I sweat more during cardio, but this work out consisted of mostly lifting,  and although I pushed myself to the limit, my hair fared well under the pressure.

crochet braids

Day 1

Day 2: – “Dice Game”  – roll 2 dice and the number received determined the number of reps you need to do.  If you rolled a 4, then you would do 4 ring dips, 4 box jumps etc… I did not less than an 8 🙁 
16 Minutes As Many Rounds As Possible:
-Ring Dips
-Over Box Jumps
-10 Meter Lateral Shuffle
-Plyo Push Up
*1 Rope Climb between Rounds
Cash Out (i.e, after the 16 minutes of work): 1 Mile Rundone in 98 degrees heat! (I ran the mile in 7 minutes and 45 seconds)

And this is my hair after day 2 with my crochet braids – it is still holding up well after this sweat drenching workout. 5

Day 3 – “David & Goliath” 
21-15-9 (You are required to do 21 of each movement, then 15, then 9) 
Wall Ball Shots (20 lb for the men/14 lbs for the ladies. Toss the boss to 10 foot target)
Double Kettlebell Power Cleans (44 lbs men/26 lbs women)

-Deadlift (135/95 pounds)
-Hang Power Clean
-Overhead Lunges

Day 3 was mostly lifting therefore all the work out was done in doors – no scorching heat to contend with – yeah! Plus I worked out at 6 in the morning.

My crochet braids are still hanging in there. The coils are looser and there is minimal frizzing, But I am digging it.

Day 4: -” Partner Chipper” My partner and I divided the workout. I am a little stronger than her so it was a 60/40 split.
800 Meter Row
80 Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift High Pulls
600 Double Unders
60 Dumbbell Power Snatches
400 Meter “Mirror Run”
40 Slams
200 Meter Medicine Ball Lateral Tosses
20 Medicine Ball Sit Up Tosses

This was another very hot day. We were running in 98 degrees weather. I was sweating profusely, but my hair looked like it did on day 3

Day 5: – “Tough Stuff” Every Other Minute on the Minute for 6 Minutes

-Back Squats. I squatted 75 lbs – I can squat heavier, but since we had several other movement to complete, I wanted to pace myself.

3 Minute Rest

As Many Rounds As Possible in 6 Minutes
3 Toes to Bar / Pull Up / Muscle Up Complex
6 Hollow Rock / Sit Up / V-Up Complex

3 Minute Rest

As Many Rounds As Possible in 6 Minutes
-15 Hurdle Hops
-100 Meter Run

I did this WOD at Noon. What a bad idea! It was in the shade. 96 degrees in the shade! Yes, I was channeling 3rd World that day Real hot, in the shade. A little tip. If rests are built into the WOD, its gonna be a doozy. I should have done this workout at 6 am.

Day 6: – 2-PARTS WOD

Part 1
Every 3 Minutes for 21 Minutes:
-400 Meter Run
-1 Heavy Squat Clean Thruster
*Increase Weight each round


After a particularly sweaty WOD

Part 2
Tabata: Pistols Squats. Tabata training is a High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T) workout that lasts four minutes. Workout hard for 20 seconds, Rest for 10 seconds and complete eight rounds.

Day 7 “CINDY”
20 Minute A.M.R.A.P.
-5 Weighted Pull Ups
-10 Handstand Push Ups
-15 Front Squats (light)

By day 7 the curls were much looser and the frizzing was more pronounced. My hair has swollen to twice its size – I had that frizzy haired black girl look – but I was kinda digging it. since I wanted to keep this hair style for at least another week, I trimmed the frizzy bits and I was good as new. I continued my work out regime but limiting my exercise to the morning hours – between 6 and 7:30.

At about the 3 week mark, I re-curled my crochet braids and my hair was as good as new.




18 Things You Did Not Know About The Color Pink

by Al - June 2nd, 2015

Pinks – the flower (Dianthus)


Pinks – the flower (Dianthus)

Ok, maybe I should have said 18 things I did not know about the color pink.

Last week I went for a nature walk through my neighborhood and, although this is something I have done several times before, I had not noticed the large variety of pink floral blooms before. I immediately became curious about the color pink 🙂

  1. Pink gets its name from the flowers called pinks. They are flowering plants that are members of the genus Dianthus.
  2. Pink is a pale red color – I know, you knew that:) p12
  3. Pink is positively associated with love, beauty, charm, politeness, sensitivity, tenderness, sweetness, childhood, femininity, and the romantic.
  4. Pink paired with white symbolizes youth, tenderness and innocence. p11
  5. When Pink is combined with violet or black, it is associated with eroticism and seduction.
  6. Pink is often associated with the exotic. p10
  7. Pink is sometimes associated with extravagance and a wish to be noticed.
  8. Pink was first used as a color name in the late 17th century.
  9. In most European languages, pink is called rose or rosa, after the rose flower. p6
  10. The Japanese language has different words for the pink of cherry blossoms (sakura-iro), and peach blossoms (momo-iro). Recently the word pinku has also become popular. p1
  11. The golden age of the color pink was the Rococo Period (1720–1777). This is period where pastel colors became very fashionable in all the courts of Europe. p8
  12. Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of Louis XV of France, made pink and blue the leading fashion colors in the Court of Versailles. p13
  13. In 19th century England, pink ribbons or pink decorations were often worn by young boys. p4
  14. The 20th century ushered in the invention of chemical dyes which did not fade. As a result, pinks became bolder and brighter. p9
  15. Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli  created a new variety of the color, called Shocking pink in 1931. She made it by mixing magenta with a small amount of white. p5
  16. In Nazi Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, inmates of Nazi concentration camps who were accused of homosexuality were forced to wear a pink triangle. p7
  17. Sunsets and sunrises are sometimes pink because of an optical effect called Rayleigh scattering.
  18. Pink was first established as a female gender signifier in the 1940s. p3

I am tickled pink by this list

Gluten Free Muffins

by Al - May 14th, 2015

Gluten Free, Sugar Free Muffin Recipe

Gluten Free Muffins

Gluten Free Muffins

Have you heard of the The Whole Life Challenge? it is “a 56-day, habit-changing, community-building game that is designed to help you live a happier, healthier life”. You play for points with friends and family and you are challenged to make small daily changes. Players are asked to include seven daily habits into their lives. They include exercise, hydration, mobility, supplementation, lifestyle practices, and reflection.

Well, I have decided to participate in this challenge and the best way to stay complaint is to prepare most of my meals. That way you know exactly what you are ingesting.

Now, full disclosure, I do not hangout in the kitchen very often. My creative mind has caused me to concoct some ill fated recipes – but every now and then I get one right. So I shall share the recipe with you.


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey or pureed dates
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of almond or gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk  – this is optional – I added it because I like coconut flavor or 1/2 cup plain almond milk, unsweetened
  • You may also add craisins – as much or as little as you like.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl or mixer and mix well. You can also use a stick blender if you have one. Blend until well mixed.
Pour batter into a greased muffin tin.
Cook time: Approximately 15 minutes for full size muffins.


The anatomy of a coconut

Easy peasy, right?

My View of The Hoover Dam

by Al - May 5th, 2015

The Hoover Dam – A Few Facts I gathered on my trip to Boulder.

hoover dam

The Hoover dam

hoover dam

Constructed Between 1931 and 1935

Did you know that the Hoover Dam was once known as Boulder Dam? of course you did, just testing. It is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. It is located on the border between Arizona and Nevada.The Hoover Dam was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression. Its construction was undertaken by thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives.

The dam is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 30 mi (48 km) southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada.


The white line shows the former water level

It took 91.8 billion cubic feet of concrete to create a retaining wall of the Dam that weights an estimated 6.6 million tons. It was the most expensive engineering project in U.S. history at the time of its construction costing $49 million.

The primary purpose of the dam, is to generate electricity. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. The Hoover Dam’s  electric generating plant has 17 turbines that can produce about four billion kilowatts of electricity per year.



The Hoover Dam was also built to controlling floods and silt as well as irrigation.

The Container Park and Other Hidden Vegas Gems

by Al - April 30th, 2015

Container Park, Las Vegas

So, I am hanging out in Vegas, I don’t gamble, I don’t drink, I don’t like crowds, I think most of the entertainment they are offering is cheesy plus I do not want to spend $400 to see freaking Britney Spares. And a Prince cover band, seriously! Nah, I’ll pass. I would prefer the real thing. If you’ve seen 1 drag queen show, you’ve seen them all. The cirque du soleil shows are kinda cool – check; Chippendale’s dancers – check; zip lining down Fremont street – check. I have seen the outlet malls, the Fashion Show mall, the Miracle Mile mall, I have toured all the major hotels, and the under ground malls, I’ve had several helpings from the various ‘all-you-can-eat’ buffets, gained 5 lbs in 5 days and I still have 3 days before I return home. What to do? what to do?

A lengthy chat with the concierge turned up a hidden gem in Downtown Vegas. The Container Park – why is this interesting to me- I majored in Urban and regional planning in college (minored in Geography) I was curious to see modern day Urban Planning in full effect. Plus I am just different. And this place is different.

Container Park

Container Park Downtown Las Vegas – Artist rendering

Here’s the deal – Vegas is to home to several entrepreneurs who have great ideas for new businesses. However, there is no place for their businesses to go. unless they are willing to wait for new buildings to be completed – and that can be a long process.

Container Park Entrance

Container Park at Night

To speed up the process, The City of Las Vegas with the help of Zappos is employing what has been described as flexible urbanism. They’re transforming an underused, high value urban area by installing re-purposed shipping containers and Xtreme Cubes. These Xtreme Cubes, which are manufactured locally, houses small businesses such as cafes, boutiques, bars, galleries, and more. The park is made completely of shipping containers stacked upon each other and it incorporates community space, outdoor seating, and children’s play area to activate the center of the neighborhood.

Shipping Containers

Shipping Containers

Although downtown Vegas is kinda sketchy, I decided to be adventurous and hopped on the Deuce to go check it out.

The Container Park is on the southeast corner of Fremont and Seventh streets. It’s a mix of several shipping containers (I am told there are 30 of ’em) as well as modular cubes (41 Xtreme cubes).

container park shops

Container Park shops

When you approach the park from Fremont Street, there is a heart shaped sculpture covered with smaller metal hearts with messages of devotion written on them, all of them padlocked to the sculpture itself. The heart was originally created for the Life is Beautiful festival by artist Nova May. Yep, I am in for something different.

Lock Heart

Lock Heart

Next to the heat (at the entrance of the Container Park) is a giant flame-spewing steel sculpture of a praying mantis. This It’s 55-foot-tall steel sculpture is built atop a dump truck. I am told that it was originally built for use at the Burning Man festival in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock desert. How cool Hot!

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis Sculpture

praying mantis

This Praying Mantis is on Fire!

Next to the sculpture there is a structure called the Catalyst Dome. It looks like an igloo and displays some groovy colors at at night. The structure is used for corporate events, private parties, performances, screenings and multimedia demonstrations. I would party there.

Catalyst Dome

Catalyst Dome

The sign at the main entrance of the Container Park is, in my opinion, a work of art. It is a creative use of negative and positive elements. Imagine an over sized laser cut out forming a monogrammed ‘windows’ (the negative) that spell “C-O-N-T-A-I-N-E-R P-A-R-K.” The positive pieces are placed atop the ‘windows’ to complete the look. Too cool – It looks like they used a super sized cricut machine to make it.

Container Park Sign

Container Park Sign


Looking through the window

The sign is cut into a gray and orange shipping container, and also functions as a bridge.

The brige

The bridge

I walk through and viewed some of the action on Fremont Street from large window.

Container Park Sign

Container Park Sign all lit up

The west side of Downtown Container Park is has small galleries while the east side as mostly fashion and accessories. Dining and drinking outlets are scattered throughout the development.

Container Park Sign

Shops at the Container Park

There is a playground and an interactive zone designed for children at the center of the par. A shipping container has been converted into a 30-foot-tall tree-house with three different slides that I wanted to try out but thought it would be weird because I had no children with me. Kids can also play with the NEOS Playworld System, an electronic game that encourages them to race around while hitting flashing lights.

play ground

The play ground

I was so fascinated by the park experience, that I almost missed the Real train tracks that were laid for a boxcar and a caboose. There is an outdoor stage with a canopy, an audiovisual tower and lawn with benches positioned in front of the tracks.

There was an awesome indie band playing in the at the outdoor amphitheater that night. I got some food, then walked down to Fremont to take in the Viva Vision shows – It’s 12.5 million lights and 550,000 watts of sound. On my way back to the hotel I noticed a gathering of some bohemian looking hipster types. I stopped to check it out. I was in front of the Emergency Arts building where they were having a pop-up art show featuring artists, writers, photographers, clothing designers, musicians, film-makers, artisans, graphic designers, and entertainers. This was not Elvis’ Vegas!

Emergency Art Building

Emergency Art Building

Yeah, I am kinda digging downtown Vegas and the Container Park.

Hot chocolate

Not so Wordless Wednesday – Stratosphere Tower

by Al - April 28th, 2015

Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas, Nevada

Stratosphere Tower

Stratosphere Tower

One day I am going to Sky Jump from this building.


The Stratosphere from a distance

The Stratosphere Tower’s SkyJump is the Guinness World Record holder for highest commercial decelerator descent.