January 31, 2013

Oy Veh

So you might not care that here in the Boston area the temps were almost 60F yesterday. But I do. Went out for a walk without being all bundled up. Delightful after what feels like several weeks of bone-aching cold.

In that old adage that nothing good comes for free, this warm front brought with it heavy rain, and wind last night. There is something about high winds. Maybe it is old cell memory from the days when we swung and slept in trees. Kinda like that dream of falling we all have. Falling from trees I'll bet. Anyways, was startled awake around 1 am by some sound, and could not go back to sleep. On the plus side, I finished one book, started another, and was delighted with this short story.

Finally fell back asleep around 4 am and woke up this morning to find a large tree branch had fallen on my car and shattered the windshield. Oy veh!

January 30, 2013

Recent Reads

8. The Paper Menagerie
I read this short story as part of the Books on the Nightstand's Project Short Story. I am not a big fan of the short story, so figured this is a good way to read at least one a month this year.

This story was the first story to win all three major science fiction/fantasy awards: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award. And there-in lies my problem. All these awards, and I was not blown away. The story explores the theme of identity, a tough one for most of us, but it can be especially thorny for bi-racial or multi-racial kids. There are some amazing books written on the topic, and while I liked this story, this is not one of them. Rating: 3 stars.

9. Finn
I read Huck Finn so long ago that I barely remember the plot, yet was intrigued by the notion of exploring the life of a minor character in the story - in this case Huck's father Pap. The writing is lyrical, and poetic, and really quite wonderful. Even the dark humor is well done. The story moves back and forth in time in a manner that takes getting used to, but in the end I did not rate this book higher because I was not sucked in by the story. While the characters are really well flushed out, I simply did not care about what happened to them. Rating: 3 stars.

January 29, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 4

And just like that week four has come and gone. Here were some of the highlights. As always, click on images to view larger.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side detail:

Right side detail:

Additional freebie supplies used this week:
Sunday card by Cathy Zielske. Dot paper by Shabby Princess. Speech bubble by Creativity Prompt. Swirl border brush by Anne Langpap. MLK card by GLAAD. Obama wordle by Chicago Tribune. Obama card by Zazzle.

January 26, 2013

Journal page

I've said this before, and I'll say it again, take your journal with you when you leave the house. There are always moments when we need to wait. I did this quick sketch while waiting in the car. Used the mirror for this self portrait. Again, it is not important that I am not necessarily recognizable. It is that I got my pen out and took a line for a walk.

(Click on image to enlarge)

The page had been pre-painted with acrylics and an alphabet stencil. Sketch done in pen.

January 25, 2013

Dusting off the SLR

I remember my excitement when I first upgraded my digi point and shoot to a digi SLR. What a thrill. I could use my old 35 mm lenses - the ones I used with my film body. Still have that body and need to find a good home for it. But I digress. Took my SLR and lenses everywhere. Got a new bag to help schlep all that gear. You know the drill.

Then along came camera phones. Mine happens to be an iphone, though I am not an Apple groupie. In the year or so since I got the phone, my habits changed. Almost all the photos, and all the vidoes I took were with that phone. It has a pretty good lens for its size, and I always had it with me. So dang portable. So what's the problem again?

Nothing, except that while shooting for Project Life this month, it has been rather amusing to see my little iphone attached to my huge tripod - the one I used to use for my SLR. So last week decided to dust off my trusty SLR and really get to know my most recent lens acquisition (and by recent I mean 5 years ago). So popped on my 50 mm and started playing. And holy smokes, doesn't it blow my iphone away.

Now I'm not surprised by that really. Just something I had forgotten. And this lens. I love this lens. 

All the photos in this post were taken last weekend. On the slopes with my nephew Luke. Check out the versatility of the inexpensive 50 mm lens. I am back in love. (Click on photos to enlarge).

Is your SLR collecting dust?

January 24, 2013

The First Book-less Public Library

A book-less library. It sounds like an oxymoron, but come the fall of 2013, San Antonio's Bexar County is going to be home to the BiblioTech, the country's first book-less public library. Of course, there will be books -- just e-books, not physical books.

You can read the article here.

I have conflicted feelings about this. I love physical books, and visit my local library several times a week. Sometimes I drop in to return checked out items. Other times I'm there to pick up requested items. And less frequently since I got a nook, I spent several hours simply browsing the shelves. It is my local community center, where the librarians know my name. Can you tell that I love my library? On the other hand, I can certainly see the advantages of a book-less library. I have used my library's online ebook system almost daily for over a year now . I request, check out, return, and put items on hold without ever leaving my chair. So love that too. See why I am conflicted about this news? I want both options. 

What do you think about the notion of a book-less library?

January 23, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 3

I continue to love this creative project. Such a fun way to capture life a week at a time. The here and now. This week I had a couple of play dates with my nephews. As always, click on images to enlarge.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side detail:

Right side detail:

Additional supplies used this week:
Striped paper and number eight circle by Shabby Princess. Noted card by AVegasGirlAtHeart. Winter joy element by Ali Edwards

January 22, 2013

Recent Reads

5. Ask The Passengers
Astrid Jones is 17, and lives in a small town with a controlling Mother who works at home (dressed in a suit and heels), a stoner Dad, and a hockey playing younger sister. Since she connects with no-one at home, Astrid spends a lot of time lying on a picnic bench in her backyard, looking up at planes and sending the passengers her love. And she thinks she might be gay. But as she learns from Socrates, why put yourself in a box and label yourself in a way that makes it easier for other people? This YA book explores important themes, but I found there was a glass wall through which I was reading this story. It lacked the emotional depth that would have really sucked me in. Rating: 3 stars.

6. Breakfast with Buddha
Sometimes a book clicks, and sometimes it does not. I listened to the audio version, which was really well narrated by Sean Runnette, but found my interest in the story waning as it continued. The story, a mid-life crisis, slash road trip, slash spiritual awakending of an upper-middle-class white American man left me rather cold. In the midst of the navel gazing, I did find the section where he tries meditation and yoga for the first time hilarious. Rating: 2 stars.

7. The Language of Flowers
I am conflicted about how to review this book. I want to give it more stars, but find that I cannot. 

I guess I loved the idea of the book more than the book itself. Before reading this book, and listening to the author talk, I had not really thought about what happens to kids in the foster care system who simply age out at 18. What happens to these kids? How has the system, and society as a whole failed them? What are the reprecussions of that failure? Are there kids who age out, and live a successful life? Use whatever defintion of success you like here. Are there? 

Then there is the language of flowers. Delightful. Who knew that there are such detailed messages one could send with flowers?

Even though these two themes got me thinking, I found the story itself did not pull me in. I expected more emotional depth than I got out of the characters. That being said, I expect to have an interesting book club discussion on the topics raised in the book. Rating: 2 stars.

January 21, 2013

Monday morning

So the Patriots did not win last night, and there is no joy in mudville today. The Super Bowl will be 49ers against the Ravens. Should a be a good game. Staying true to the AFC, I guess I'll be rooting for the Ravens. But it is just not the same when your team is not in it. Should however be a lot less stressful to watch.

Martin Luther King Jr day here in the US. Could there be a better day to think about one's dreams?

A winter advisory for later today, so we are expecting snow. Not too much. Just the right amount to make everything pretty, and to play in.

I have not been impressed with the last two books I finished, so am in search of one that entralls me.

Week 7 of my Astronomy class is up. On tap this week? Galaxies. Billions and billions.

Happy Monday. Hope it is a great one.

January 20, 2013

Journal page

Finished up my old art journal, and have started a new one for the new year. Will do a journal flip of the completed journal next week. It is true that while I might not love, or even like every page, I love the journal as a whole.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Ink and watercolors.

January 19, 2013

World Book Night

Are you a giver? If not, they have extended the application date to Jan 25. I've signed up. It is such a great cause. And it is free. Imagine handing out 20 books. In April. Makes me happy to think about it.

You and sign up and read more here.

January 18, 2013

Journal page

There is something about hot mugs of tea on a cold winter day. I read somewhere about this interesting experiment. It turns out that how you feel about someone changes depending on whether you are holding a hot or cold drink in your hand. Yeah, I wasn't buying it either, so performed an experiment, and held a hot mug of tea while I talked to someone who tends to annoy me. And guess what? I felt less annoyed and was able to be kinder. Try it for yourself and let me know if you get similar results.

(Click in image to enlarge)

The background was prepped with acrylics and a circle stencil. Pen and markers for the rest.

January 17, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 2

This week reinforced my decision to create this project digitally. So easy to do, and I can change my mind with just a mouse click. No printing. No cutting. No scraps. No mess. Loving it. Week two was all about celestial wonders, earthly loves, and great football. As always, click on the images to enlarge.

Here is the two page spread:

Left side detail:

Right side detail:

Additional supplies used this week:
All papers (striped, snowflake and xmas trees) by Shabby Princess. Day card (T) by AVegasGirlAtHeart. To live a creative life card by Amanda Cherie. Meditation card by unknown.

January 16, 2013

Around here

Listening to Breakfast with Buddha on my iPod on my walks.
Eating tasty take-out Indian food. I have a weakness for the vegetable chili-fry.
Drinking lots of sparkling water, which is really unusual for winter months.
Wearing out my favorite smart wool socks.
Feeling sated.
Weather is warmer than normal. 61 degrees F at 42 degrees North. In January.
Thinking about the idea that we are human beings, not human doings.
Enjoying planning and creating my Project Life pages.
Reading The Language of Flowers on my nook.
Loving getting fires going early in the day.

January 15, 2013

Journal page

With so much going on, I realize it has been a while since I last posted a journal page. These sketches are some of the things that caught my eye while at a local museum. The writing is simply a stream of consciousness of what was going on at the time.
(Click on image to enlarge)
The pages has earlier been prepped with a light wash of acrylics. Pen and markers for the rest.

January 14, 2013

NFL Payoffs

I am wrung out. Watched four really great football games this past weekend. Am not used to sitting in front of the TV for that many hours. But what a fantastic way to do it. Not all the teams I was rooting for made it, but my home team, the New England Patriots did. Happy about that.

I need to take a breather while I get ready for the championship games next week. Go Pats. Bring on the birds.

January 13, 2013

Recent Reads

Here's hoping for a new year of great reads.

1. Contents May Have Shifted
My first thought is that this book is not a novel. Though it states that it is on the cover, in that heart shaped cloud. Towards the end of the book, the author says that she thought of titling the book "Suicide Notes: 144 Reasons Not to Kill Yourself". And that title would really have worked much better in terms of setting expectations. I did however enjoy reading what to me seemed liked travel vignettes and journal entries. I liked the honesty and non-linearity of the writing, and realized that I am not nearly grateful enough when my planes land safely, and that I really should step off and kiss the ground each and every time. Rating: 3 stars.

2. Drama
This graphic novel is set in middle school, and deals with some of the typical issues kids go through at that age - finding your niche, crushes, figuring out your sexuality, etc. The graphics are fun and colorful, and I really liked that the main character, Callie, is a girl who is comfortable in her own skin. Rating: 3 stars.

3. A Kiss Before You Go: An Illustrated Memoir of Love and Loss
This visual memoir covers the year after the author's wife dies. Danny writes about the highs and lows, the dark and light, the transcendent and the mundane, that is life after the loss of a loved one. The text is accompanied by drawings that are personal and draw you in, and I'd suggest reading this in print form. The colors are rich, the size perfect, and the paper stock wonderful. Such a wonderful legacy for his son. Rating: 4 stars.

4. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom
You know how the fairy tales we read as kids ended: and they all lived happily ever after? Well, not exactly. This middle grade book is a hilarious follow-up to the stories of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Cinderella. You did know that the Prince Charming in these stories were not the same guy right? Or maybe you didn't. I got the physical book to look at the drawings, but I would highly recommend listening to the audiobook narrated by Bronson Pinchot. He gets five stars for his performance. I've added every book he has narrated to my TBR pile. Rating: 4 stars.

January 11, 2013

Wonders overhead

Yesterday, the overcast skies cleared with almost gale force winds that knocked our power out. Despite that, up at 5 am to see the beautiful conjuncton between the crescent moon and Venus.

January 10, 2013

Project Life 2013: Week 1

And we're off. Here are the pages for my first week of the year. So fun to put together. Click on the images to enlarge.

Here is the left side detail:

And the right side:

Additional supplies used this week:
Flowers and papers by Jessica Sprague. Striped note paper by Shabby Princess. One Little Word 2013 by Ali Edwards. Stories, Photos. Life card by Cathy Zielske. Digital & Proud element by 2 Peas in a Bucket. Planes element by Katie Pertiet. Library tab element by Barbie Chewning. We Often Take for Granted card by Joanne.

January 9, 2013

One Little Word 2013: January

As a way to keep my word for 2013 front and center this year, I decided to sign up for Ali's One Little Word 2013 class. As with most things these days, I'm doing this digitally, and rather than create a whole new project, I've decided to incorporate this class into my Project Life layouts.

As part of OLW, I'm pairing up my word with an intention for the month, and focusing on three goals. Here is the insert I created for this month.

Flowers by Jessica Sprague. Striped paper by Shabby Princess.

January 8, 2013

Journal page

The time I spend with my journal is usually solitary time, so imagine my delight to have found sketching buddies. There were four of us on our most recent play date, and I did a quick sketch of one of my playmates. Good food, fun conversation, and I got to play with my art supplies. What more can a girl really ask for?
(Click to enlarge)
This sketch was done entirely on location. Pen and watercolor pencils.

January 5, 2013

Wild Card Weekend

If you are an American football fan, this is a wonderful time of year. It's Wild Card Weekend baby! Great games. Everything on the line for these eight teams. And you never know what will happen. As an example, in today's do-or-die game, the Vikings are starting their 3rd string QB. Holy moly!

Two games today. Two tomorrow. And my home team already has their playoff spot, so they have the weekend off. If you are a NFL fan, who is your team?

January 3, 2013

Recent Reads

136. A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
A book for bookophiles. A collection of essays, stories, lists, and, well, what the subtitle says. There are pieces I loved, and ones I did not. I enjoyed the romp through the mania of book collectors - the idea of buying two of each book, one to read and one to lend. And waiting for someone to die, so their collection is available on the market, were two that tickled my funny bone. I was disappointed that women collectors and readers were not well represented. This macho point of view was expressed in one essay: men read literature while women read novels. OK, so the piece was a reflection of its times, but still would have liked to see a more balanced view. Overall an interesting read with lots to think about. Is collecting more important than reading? When does a collector become a hoarder and need help? Rating: 3 stars.

137. This is Not My Hat
This picture book is one that both kids and adults will enjoy. I read it a couple of times back to back. A simple tale with great graphics. There is something really adorable about a fish with a hat. And the ending? Depending on your point of view it is either funny or really sad. Rating: 4 stars.

138. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
I listened to the audio version wonderfully narrated by Jim Broadbent. This lovely story is a meditation on life, love, loss, friendship, aging, childhood wounds, materialism, and yes walking. The pacing is slow, but is just the right pace is you listen while you walk, which is what I did. Rating: 4 stars.

And that wraps up my 2012 reading list. It is strange because my records show that I have several more books that I read, but I'm not inclined to figure out the discrepancy. It was a good reading year. I have yet to put together my best of 2012 list. Maybe I'll get around to doing that this week.

January 2, 2013

2012 Mileage Graph

As part of my healthy for life project in 2011, I decided to walk 50 miles each month. I was so excited that I charted my progress for the year, and added up the miles. The grand total? 714 miles. One step at a time over many days add up.

Decided to challenge myself in 2012 and work towards running a 5K. Ran/walked my first one in April of the year, and while I cannot run the entire distance yet (painful shin splint issues), I have learned much about myself in the process. So, here is my mileage graph for 2012. I simply love seeing the 780.1 miles displayed this way.

(Click on image to enlarge)

So what are my healthy for life goals for 2013? Be able to run a 5K without walking. Get in more hiking and biking. Add yoga into the mix, and stay injury free. Let's begin.

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

It is resolution time for most people, but not for me. I pick one word for the year, and use that as a reflection for my entire year. How to pick one word out of millions? Words come to me. I let them roll around for a while. After some marination, they either feel right or they don't. 

Past years:
2008: Health and Wealth
2009: Passion
2010: Connect
2011: Explore
2012: Light

I've discovered that having a word as a focus, shapes my year dramatically. I am affected physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in unexpected ways.

My word for 2013 is BEGIN. Here are some facets that excite me:
Start | Initiate | Open | Launch | To bring into being | Originate | Kick off | Embark | Enter

May 2013 be the best year yet.