February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Year Day

Isn't is so much fun to have an extra day this year? A whole extra 24 hours. How wonderful.

It is snowing out here in the Boston area. I feel like I'm in a snow globe that has been gently shaken. Lovely.

To watch an an interesting interview where Elizabeth Gilbert talks about creativity, click here. I am marinating on the idea that learning to say no to things we really, really want to do is a part of learning how to take care of ourselves.

February 28, 2012

Journal video

Decided to make a video to share my current journal and a fun new project I'm working on. (Double click on the video to watch in full screen mode).

You can find the Remains of the Day class info here.

Recent Reads

19. The Magicians
New author #12. This book has been described as a "Harry Potter for adults". Yes, it has more adult content - there is booze and sex, but it is not nearly as good as the Potter books. Not even close. There is no magic to the writing, and I found all the characters rather annoying. Yes, there are some clever scenes, but as a whole found it an OK read and will not be rushing to read the sequel.

20. A Wrinkle in Time
It is the 50th anniversary of this book, and so many people I know love it, so decided to give it a read. I have read the author before - love her journals, so was looking forward to seeing how she wrote fiction. I liked the book. I did not find it an amazing read, but then again, it was written for the tastes of young adults half a century ago. There is a strong Christian theme to the story - did not expect that, and when I asked friends who read the book as kids, they did not remember that aspect of the story. Will probably read the other books in the series, though not any time soon.

21. The Odds
New author #13. This is a slim book that packs quite a punch. A couple on the brink of financial and emotional disaster come back to Niagara Falls for a Valentine's Day blowout. The story gently explores the highs and lows of a long term marriage.

22. Sew Wild
New author #14. This is a fun book that explores ways to dye and print fabric to use in creative projects. I especially like the no measuring, no pattern philosophy.

Bleak House
Our Bleak House read-along kicked off last weekend. A group of friends are reading it in installments and getting together to discuss the book. Loving it so far.

2012 reading goals:
Authors new to me = 12. YTD = 14. (Well, exceeded my goal and it is only Feb.)
2 books by Charles Dickens. YTD = 0 (Currently reading Bleak House)

February 25, 2012

Tan Le: My immigration story

I believe in the power of capturing and sharing stories.
Click here to hear a powerful one.

February 24, 2012

ebooks vs DTBs

I love books. Everything about them. And not just the worlds they open up to me. I love the tactile things too - the smell of ink, the paper texture, the font style, the book size, the heft, the way they feel in my hands. I could go on and on.

And yet, I am now an avid ebook fan. Yes, I miss all the tactile goodies, and yes, ereaders are far from perfect, but ebooks are the future. Will they ever completely replace DTBs (dead tree books)? I think not. But look at what has happened to the music industry. It is only a matter of time.

I am a bi-reader (I might have just coined a new term!): I read both ebooks and DTBs. My device of choice is a nook. I am a believer in open/standard formats, and proprietary formats make me itch. But that is a story for a different time.

In the meanwhile, I am saddened by the extinction of a very special species - the indie bookstore. They are on the endangered list. When will there be postal stamps with images of our fave ones? It is interesting that Barnes and Noble - the brick and mortar Goliath that has been responsible for much of this extinction also looks to be in trouble now. OK, OK. I do think that Amazon is guiltier. But still.

Check out this interesting NYT article.

February 23, 2012

Fabric Love

I've been wanting a sewing machine for a awhile. Oh, you think I'm going to make me a sun dress or two do you? I hate to disappoint, but I'm still in recovery from a home ec. class I had as a wee one. The mean ol' teacher would look disapprovingly at my stitches and make me take them out and do it again. And again. And again. I do believe that at one point my Mom took pity on me and did some of my homework. I hated every minute of it.

So, imagine my surprise when I started thinking about getting a sewing machine several months ago. When making my travel journals, I tend to create pockets and attach ephemera, and I use staples, brads, etc. Sometimes I hand stitch. But after taking the Remains of the Day class by Mary Ann Moss, an entire new world opened up to me. Who knew one could have so much fun with needle and thread?

I started investigating machines, and then realized that Babes has an old, and I mean ancient, museum quality, Singer that her Mom used. I mean this baby was probably used in the depression era. It sure is weighty enough to hold down the house during a dust storm at any rate. Brought it up. Cleaned it up and after several hours of experimentation and lots of head scratching, I got it working. And it has sounded like a Chinese sweatshop over here ever since. I did not realize just how many projects I've had stacked up just waiting for such a moment.

I will post a pic of the machine one of these days - maybe when it goes on a coffee break. It is much to busy to pose at the moment. In the meantime, I am immersed in delightful words like bobbins and notions. I walk down aisles and fabrics call to me. I just might make a sundress one of these days.

February 22, 2012

February 21, 2012

Happy Mardi Gras

Had a day-long play date with my nephews. It is wonderful being an Aunt. I get all the perks without any of the work.

Wonderful that today is Mardi Gras. We pulled out the masks and beads and had a ball. It is now dinner time, and the wonderful smells of etouffee wafts over from the kitchen. This is how we celebrate Mardi Gras. Hope you had a fun one too.

February 20, 2012

Journal Page

Here is a simple page I created to celebrate my 5K. I found this fun image online (kokopellitattoodesign) and decided to make the page a simple black and white one. Added some red with marker to capture some of the pain.

Time sure does fly. It feels like such a long time ago, and it was only a couple of weeks back. Where the heck does the time go?

February 18, 2012

Artist journals

I love getting insight into how people use their journals.

Click on the link to see this video: Guillermo Del Toro speaking about the notebooks he kept that became his film, “Pan’s Labyrinth”


I've often heard parents say things like this about their kids: they are over-tired, over-stimulated, etc.

Well, I am over-excited. We have a trip in the works and I am vibrating with excitement. Reading guide books. Pouring over maps. Thinking there is so much to do, I might just have to move there. Making a new travel journal. Thinking about what art supplies to take along. The list goes on.

So naturally was up around 2 am last night. Wide awake. No going back to sleep no way wide awake. Decided to get up and write about some of that excitement. Let it slowly leak out of me, so that I can get back to being excited and not over-excited.

So while I feel rather jet lagged today, I am excited.

February 17, 2012

Recent Reads

15. Fables & Reflections
This is book #6 in the Sandman series, and is a fun romp. I did not love it like I have others in the series, but it is an interesting read non-the-less.

16. Making Journals by Hand
I dip into this delightful book every couple of years or so, especially when I'm planning my next big trip and looking for inspiration. Love everything about this book.

17. The Cellist of Sarajevo
New author #10. This is what my book club is reading this month. The book has been on my radar for a while, but was not on my TBR list. It is not an easy book to read - I actually had nightmares one night. The novel explores the siege of Sarajevo told from the particular stories of four residents. I think the author does a brilliant thing in not telling us the ethnic/religious backgrounds of the four people - we are not able to rely on easy prejudices, and have to do the work to really evaluate each person as an individual - not as a representative of a group. The philosophical questions throughout the book are explored in an open manner - we left to draw our own conclusions. This is a book that is going to stay with me for awhile.

18. The Lover's Dictionary
New author #11. I picked this up to read for Valentine Day week, and am I every so glad that I did. I loved it. It reads like wonderfully written, intimate journal entries. There are sections that simply took my breath away. I'd advise resisting the urge to read straight through. I dipped in a little at a time, and made the book last the entire week. Lovely.

2012 reading goals:
Authors new to me = 12. YTD = 11.
2 books by Charles Dickens. YTD = 0

What are you reading?

February 15, 2012

Journal Page

This was a fun page to create. Started out with a page that already had a purple acrylic background. Added more paint with stencils and drips. Used the negative of the image on this page as a stencil for the women. Journaling with a white pen completed my page.

February 13, 2012

Food for thought

How to ensure the health of future generations? Here are two really great talks to get you thinking:

The Toxic Baby?

What we learn before we are born


While working on my Vegas journal, am missing my nieces. They are smart and funny and adorable and playful and fun to be around.

Bound for Vegas Travel Journal - Sneak Peek #3

I'm in the midst of making a new travel journal - so every flat surface is covered with scraps and paint and clippings and images and thread, oh my. Am going to have to get to the bottom of that soon. Will be nice to see my table again.

In the meanwhile, decided that I really should finish up my last travel journal, so started adding ephemera and notes. I want to add some photos as well, so need to get some printed - on my list this week.

In the meanwhile, here is a sneak peek of a page. Gesso, glue, ink, watercolors.

February 10, 2012

Recent Reads

12. Mercy
This book is a fast read, and not nearly as good as some of her other works. There are multiple stories, and like her other books both sides of a moral issue are discussed in a court case. How do you define love? Would you kill a loved one if they asked you to? Do you love enough? Or is that even love? Can two people love equally? How would you measure love? Can it be measured? Good food for thought.

13. After the Apocalypse
New author #8. I'm not a big short story fan, but was intrigued by reviews of this book. These are not the typical post apocalyptic style stories. Yes, there is some disaster, but that is not the story. These stories explore individual lives in the aftermath. Quite interesting.

14. Lamberto, Lamberto, Lamberto
New author #9. Supposedly the author is beloved in his native Italy, so thought I'd check it out. This is fable is a modern take on the search for eternal life. Cute.

2012 reading goals:
Authors new to me = 12. YTD = 9.
2 books by Charles Dickens. YTD = 0

February 8, 2012

Journal Page

I found the image of this woman in my stash and thought that I'd use it to create positive and negative shapes to play with. Here is what I did with the positive shape. I already had the yellow acrylic wash on the page, which made the rest of the colors an easy decision. The page came together rather quickly. Collage items, ink and makers.

The warm colors remind me of spring - which it almost feels like in these parts (the northeast US). We are into February with no snow and none on the forecast! Guess that might be a positive side effect of global warming then? In any case I am loving it.

February 7, 2012

Dickens @ 200

Happy 200th birthday Mr. Dickens.

There have been many celebrations leading up to the event. A fave place to stop by is Charles Dickens at 200. Check it out.

Journal Page

I started out with a page that already had the background pasted down. I had done this weeks ago - using up a leftover scrap from a different project. While flipping through my inspiration boards, was captivated by "Woman in White Turban" by Charles Sebree and decided to use that image as my starting point.

The music sheet had already been painted with red acrylic paint and a thin layer of gesso. In order to further cover up the background, I mixed my craft acrylics with a touch of gesso for even greater opacity. I quite like how this page turned out.

February 6, 2012

DFL (-1)

Now if you know me, you know that I am not a runner. Have never understood that "high" runners talk about when they go out for an "easy 5 mile" run. Walk a 5K? Sure. No problemo.

So, why, oh why, have I decided that one of my goals this year is to run a 5K?

I started with the couch to 5K plan on Jan 2. Imagine my shock when I learned that I can actually walk faster than I can run. Huh? Gather this is true of all beginner runners. My 3 times a week training sessions have been on plan and going really well. So of course, I decided to throw a wrench on the entire plan by signing up for a 5K this past weekend. Never mind that my training so far had been indoors on a treadmill. Need I mention that there was no incline involved?

Yes it was true that I had not completed my final weeks of the training program, but the event I signed up for was a charity event - a fun 5K run/walk that benefited a local theater company. I would not be deterred.

To get ready for actually running outdoors, I had 2 practice training runs outdoors the week leading up to the event. On the first one I thought I was dying - could running outside be so very different from a treadmill? Discouraged, I came home to take stock. Turns out that I have no way to gauge my pace when outside. Unlike being on a treadmill, there are no big red numbers in front of me telling me how fast I am running. Turns out I was running about a mile and a half faster pace than I had been training. Aha. I can correct for that. My second (and final training run before the 5K) my right calf seized up and I painfully hobbled home. The lesson there was not to play a long game of racquetball and expect not to pay the price.

Never-the-less, I showed up early on Sunday morning, Babes in tow to boost my morale. It was cold. I mean below freezing cold. Believe the temp at the start was 29 deg F. But all that nervous excitement kept me from feeling the icy winds in my lungs.

I had 3 goals for the race:
1. Finish.
2. Run as much as possible.
3. 50 minutes or less.

Notice, that "have fun" was not a goal. A bit of fore-shadowing...

Started out fine. The jack rabbits were soon out of sight, but I the mighty tortoise would not be daunted. Onward. Then about a mile in my calf (yes the same one) seized up. Stretched it out and limped along painfully for a while. Would I be like some others around me and be a DNF? I think not. I could feel the Kenyan in me.

The results? Not only did I finish, I finished in 47:47:81. A personal best for me. I dug deep at the end and was not DFL. If only the Patriots had dug deep last night as well - but that is another story.

So, today I am feeling quite accomplished. Nursing along sore and leaden legs. Scanning the race blogs. Looking for my next 5K race.

February 1, 2012

Doodling #3

Happy February! Hope this year has been swell so far.

Here is the final of my three doodling pages for the Jan Sketchbook Challenge. I was playing with the idea of stained glass. Ink and watercolors.