Monday, January 30, 2012

Refueling and Reading

No art right now. Reading children's books. Thinking about all the tutorials I want to write: numbers, HEARTS OF ALL SHAPES AND SIZES, monogram letters and so much more. I need this percolating time to figure out how to do everything and then

BAM! It should come together quickish. I hope.

Hang in there... more good stuff coming soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Smooth Moving

I've been experimenting with making healthy smoothies for myself and my family. One of the things that's been keeping me busy is preparing tons of fresh vegetables for the freezer. I bought a huge bag of carrots and heard that you could grow the tops in water. So, I tried it! It works! I also tossed an avocado pit in there, just for good measure.

Question for anyone who has done vegetable/fruit smoothies (no milk - lactose intolerant!): do you cook your vegetables first to make them easier on your digestive system?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quiet Times

Birthdays for a five-year old boy. Two weekends in a row with a 14-year old boy who nearly burned my house down because he kept trying to turn off the fire alarm instead of putting out the fire in the oven. Mothers-in-law going into the hospital and nearly dying. Work being difficult. Life being lively.

My mind will be back on art soon. It just needs some time to rest...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Looking Forward

I made these paper flowers for a friend at work and her wedding. They turned out well.
"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."

Neil Gaiman
I posted this quote on Facebook today and was surprised by the quick responses of so many of my friends. I quickly commented back "We should come back in a year and tell each other what we did to surprise ourselves." Then it occurred to me that I have surprised myself this past year. 
I'm reading Martha Stewart's The Martha Rules to learn her take on how to run a business. The first line of the book shocked/surprised me: "In 2004, I entered a federal prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia." Here was someone who acknowledged her faults (not overtly, not dramatically, not sensationally, etc.) right there in the beginning. She talked about the women she met in the facility and how they asked her about business advice. She gave lectures and advice to many of the women and talks about their ideas in her book of business rules. The first rule is "The Big Idea."
I have had a Big Idea this year. I did my basic book folding tutorial and it was successful beyond my dreams. All the other stuff she talks about in the book is good, but it keeps coming down to your own Big Idea and if it is the type of thing that can carry you. At BYU, my art teacher always said "If you have a product, it will sell." At that time in my life, I didn't have a product. I barely had an awareness of myself. It took (and is still taking, I'm sorry to say) years for me to find myself enough to hear/feel what I have to offer the world.
What I can offer that is completely new is my book folding expertise. I know that folding books is a completely impractical art. There is nothing inherently useful about my art (and that bothers me - why?) so it's not necessary for anything. Yet, it is something that uses materials that nearly everyone has access to, those materials that are prolifically dumped in landfills or discarded in libraries and then gives them a new way of being presented. They can be made over into a new life. That life can be perfectly tuned to a particular individual and make them happy. Is making people happy enough?
This leads me into another thought: is this something that I can do for a living? People always talk about "do what you love and the money will follow." I'm not really that sure. At this time, I am responsible for the maintenance of a family of five. Brian's salary mostly goes towards child support. Mine goes towards everything else. I always wonder what I would need to be able to work from home, but I am so scatter-brained that I can't focus on what I need to do. Blah. Then, getting my husband on board is another thing altogether. :)

I wonder what I'm supposed to be doing here in this life and if I'm doing enough. I just don't want to go back to Heaven (yes, I'm assuming the best) and have God tell me "You could have done that if only you'd been _____." Whatever _______ is.

So, this year, I want to work on my Big Idea and expand it. With the success of the basic tutorial and the alphabet folding tutorial, I want to branch out into other patterns. I don't know if it will work, but I'm going to hope for the best. I will continue doing the free ones every month because not everyone will be able to buy the patterns, and I like sharing what I do with others. Martha says to share and teach freely because it does a lot of good. Yay Martha!

Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January Free Pattern- Little Houses

Better late than never! This month I made a pattern for you who have my Basic Folded Book tutorial that works with last month's pattern, too.  Now you may make little houses to go with your pine trees. You are welcome. Just click on the below picture to enlarge and print out. Yes, it *is* hard to read those little tiny numbers on the grid! You are welcome again! (just kidding - sorry, still working out the bugs on this darn pattern-making thing).

Again, if you have questions, let me know. BTW, I am really liking the suggestions some of you are having for future free patterns. Thanks!

Temporarily Out!

This little critter and all his friends and relations were rampaging through my body the last couple of days. It was not my friend. It made me feel like I'd done 100000000000 situps and still didn't have a flat stomach. Jerk.

Back VERY soon with this month's freebie tutorial - little houses!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Reading List!

I did it again! For the second year in a row, I've accomplished my children's classic reading list. Yay me!

Here's the quick summary of everything I read and what I thought about it. If you care about last year's list, you can read about it here. I read the last four in one week. It just goes to show what you can do when you panic.

Kipling: Captains Courageous 12/11
Written in 1897 by Rudyard Kipling, this is the story of a spoiled 15-year old rich boy who falls overboard his ocean liner and is picked up by a passing fishing boat. The transformation his character makes over the next several months is wondrous - it's a typical do-good book from the 19th century - bad boy overcomes weaknesses to become a valuable man. Although Harvey Cheyne's transformation happened (in my mind) altogether too quickly and permanently, it was a relief to read a story about someone who makes GOOD choices and has consequences for his actions. Good book to recommend to boys, especially older ones.
Le Guin: A Wizard of Earthsea 6/11
Snore. I read this because I've seen it for years. Published in 1968, it reminds me very much of new-age mysticism and balderdash. I didn't admire Ged (stupid name) and couldn't really see what he did that was so special. I wouldn't recommend except to kids who really like magic and wizardry. And who don't mind stupid names like Ged.
Lindgren: Pippi Longstocking 3/11
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!! Pippi is a hoot and hilarious and I want to visit her and her house. She is a good person and very sensible. Admirable! Recommend to both boys and girls - perhaps the same crowd that likes Junie B Jones.
McKinley: The Hero and the Crown 5/11
Oh my gosh. I read in Orson Scott Card's book A Storyteller in Zion (I think?) that you cannot help but put your own era in your writing. You can't get away from the mores of the society you live in. I see it all the time in 1950's SF - they always have the men working out long math problems by hand while women make coffee and ham sandwiches in the kitchen. Anyway, this particular book was written 1985 and is very Girl Power, complete with self-esteem issues and SEX (IN  A CHILDREN'S BOOK!!!!). It was a really long book to listen to and I kept thinking we'd reached the climactic scene when another adventure would start. It's okay. It won the Newbery Medal, but I wasn't all that impressed. Girl book, definitely. 
Naylor: Shiloh 3/11
Another Newbery book. I hate books about animals and this is the last year I'm making myself read books about animals. Especially dogs. Sorry all you dog lovers. This is a story about a young boy from a really poor family who rescues a dog from a mean owner. It's all about how he hides the dog from his family but is found out and then has to earn the dog from the rightful (mean) owner. Everyone loves it. This is what it says on Wikipedia: Marty learns that morality is confounding and must choose between two unpalatable choices: rescuing the abused Shiloh through stealing and lying or allowing Judd to keep abusing Shiloh. Good for boys. Good for dog-lovers. 

Norton: The Borrowers 3/11
Little people live in houses and they call themselves "Borrowers" instead of thieves. They use all the stuff in our houses so they can survive. More power to them. Boring.
O’Dell: Island of the Blue Dolphin 2/11
Absolutely wonderful book. A tribe of people lives on this island and they decide to migrate. The girl's brother is missing from the ship that's taking them away. She jumps off and swims back to shore. The little brother (5 years old) was trying to get something he'd forgotten. And something bad happens to him that made my stomach clench and still haunts me. :( The girl survives on the island for YEARS. Apparently this is a true-ish kind of story. Excellent for both boys and girls. 
Peck: Soup 12/11
This was the last book I read - I finished in on the 30th. I *really* didn't want to read it because I hated the name and thought it was a dumb boy book (dumb book, not book for dumb boys) but it was HILARIOUS. It took me less than an hour to read and I howled at the surprising funny parts and lines in the book. I need someone else to read it, too so we can share funny lines. :) Great for boys and girls, but boys especially. I might even read the next ones in the series.

Philbrick: Freak the Mighty 3/11
The cover on this book was weird so I'd never wanted to read it, but so many kids had asked for it over the years that I told myself to read it. It was wonderful. I loved the story of the two boys and how they were both misfits who really cared about each other - I love boy friendship books that show good relationships with true compassion and real situations being handled. The story makes you cry at the end. Embrace it. Good for both boys and girls, but mostly olderish boys.
Rawlings: The Yearling 4/11
I dreaded reading this 8000 page book, sure it was all about the lovely happy adventures of a boy and his deer, living an idyllic life with all things happening in a carefree fairy-tale environment. HA! Nope! It helped that I listened to this on tape because I can't read in dialect and that was very important to this story. It takes place in Florida (Huck Finn era?) and is... wonderful. I was so completely wrong about it that I can't even begin to explain how it moved me. First of all, it takes place over a year, a year in which a young boy learns a ton of real lessons that actually change him in believable ways and even changed me. It was good enough that when I came to the cassette that was damaged (#10 out of 14-ish), I went ahead and checked out the book and finished it a day later. Yep. That good. There is good and bad parenting. There is friendship and death. There is dishonesty and disabilities and oh, there is a deer, the Yearling. Excellent for older boys. This boy is more admirable than Huck Finn and actually does something with himself, unlike Huckster.
Rodgers: Freaky Friday 12/11
I've seen both movies. I like the one with Lindsay Lohan (pre-stupid). The book, on the other hand, was a complete surprise. Remember what I said earlier about books having their time in the story? This one has parenting. There was the n-word because the housekeeper was prejudiced (and it was great to see what happened to her). There was no sex and no allusion to it. There was a mother who needed to teach her daughter a lesson. The daughter learned the lesson and was better for it. The mother did not 'learn a lesson' being in her daughter's shoes. You know why? BECAUSE SHE WAS THE PARENT AND ACTUALLY KNEW BETTER. Great for boys and girls, but mostly girls.
Ryan: Esperanza Rising 4/11
This book changed my life. I am so sorry for everything I've ever thought about Hispanics before I read this story. It takes place in the town next to Bakersfield (OH MY!) and I knew all the landmarks mentioned. I know the fields and crops they talk about. I was pained to read about the growing up process Esperanza had to endure and the discrimination she experienced, but I am a better person now. No wonder everyone here reads it. I had always thought the Okies got the short end of the stick. Guess there is a shorter end I didn't know of until now. Good for boys and girls. They should all read it.
Saint-Expery: The Little Prince 12/11
The person who wrote this must have been on drugs. I couldn't understand why everyone loves it. It was psycho from beginning to end. I did learn that you are responsible for anything you tame and that anything you tame will love you. Is that deep?
Sewell: Black Beauty 4/11
Again, another animal book that I dreaded. Horsies! I listened to this one and it was strange having a female voice narrate a male horse's character. I learned a lot about how horses were treated in different walks of life. Did you know that there are some harnesses that hold a horse's head so far up that it damages their necks? This type of harness, a 'bearing rein', was popular in Sewell's time and part of the purpose of this book was to make people aware of the harm they were causing to their horses. This book led to a general public awareness of the treatment of working animals. Sewell died before publication of this book and never saw how successful it was (apparently it's the sixth most popular English-published book). I read this about the funeral: "Ironically, at Sewell’s funeral her mother noticed that all the horses in the funeral procession were wearing bearing reins and she insisted that they be removed. " Duh.
Sharp: The Rescuers 5/11
I would have been happier if Miss Bianca had been caught in a mousetrap and eaten before page two. The story would have been better. I hate this book and wouldn't recommend it if it were the last book in the world. So there.
Snyder: The Egypt Game 4/11
Very 1960's. Surprising in that it mentions child murder. Okay book. Glad I read it. Don't see who would really like it unless Egyptian stuff becomes popular again. It's about a bunch of apartment kids who like Egypt and use a vacant lot to act out their imaginations about Egypt. And in the background there is a neglectful mother, a mixed-race friendship (surprising again!) and rain. Meh.
Taylor: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry 4/11
This is the only book I did not read through to the end. As I was listening to it (dialect again), the emotions hit me so hard and made me so fretful that I became argumentative for a week with my husband and he suggested that I just read a summary of it and let it be. Civil rights injustices hurt me way too much to read. I hate the irrationality of prejudice based on nothing real - it's like when people hate Mormons because of rumors they hear (I really do only have one mom) and say we're going to hell 'just because' (insert eye roll here). Anyway, it is a very good story, but it was too hard for me to read. Because of this experience, I am giving myself permission to skip any and all books dealing with prejudice and the Holocaust. Except for Anne Frank. I will try that one. Keep your fingers crossed I don't drive my husband away.
Taylor: The Cay 10/11
Surprising! I thought this was going to be one type of book and it just goes to show me (again) how much I can be mistaken! World War II time. Boy living in Caribbean with father and mother. Mother hates the island and wants to return to mainland. Father *really* disagrees with idea. Mother and boy go anyway. Boat torpedoed. Boy adrift at sea with old black man (pronounced 'mon' :) ). They end up stranded on tiny islet in the middle of an untraveled area of the ocean - no hope of rescue. The boy was hit on the head when he went over the boat and it made him blind. The story is of him and the man on the island. The man is wonderful. He teaches the boy hard, hard lessons. The boy learns. A storm comes. The man protects the boy by lashing him between the palm on the highest point of the islet (40 ft) and himself, taking the brunt of the storm. Read it to find out what happens next.
Travers: Mary Poppins 2/11
I have no idea where Disney got Julie Andrews' character from this book. This woman is a mean, belittling, strange person who does not engender love or devotion, yet seems to earn it. I'm glad I read it, but have no desire to read the rest of the series.
White: Stuart Little 3/11
Again, another mouse that should have been caught in a trap or eaten by a cat.
 Wiggin: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 12/11
I thought this was going to be like Anne of Green Gables. It isn't. It has more real life in it. A girl who lives with poverty, isn't the best at everything, isn't pretty at all (except for her eyes), but provokes people to love her and overcomes life anyway. Sweet. Good for girls. I related to it.
Wrede: Dealing With Dragons 4/11
Girl power. Yay. Stupid, trite, weak, boring story. A princess that doesn't want to marry. Doesn't like the knights and princes. Whatever. DO NOT LISTEN TO THIS ON AUDIO - IT IS THE WORST DRAMATIZATION I'VE EVER HEARD. Okay for people who like light fantasies. Not good for anyone who likes real fantasy. 
Wright: The Dollhouse Murders 4/11
This was the first book I read. I was delighted with the story - it was real enough to be edgy, and old-fashioned enough that I envied a simpler time. Good mystery. Blood! Spookiness! Goosebumps! Good for boys and girls - especially those looking for a ghost story. 
Wyss: The Swiss Family Robinson 10/11
Okay, I've never seen the Disney version of this, but it couldn't be anymore unreal than this book. Don't get me wrong, I loved it! If you can suspend your disbelief in reality, this is a very good story. It was originally written as a book of natural history education for the author's children. It's about a family who shipwrecks on an island which is home to every climate and type of animal and plant on earth. That's the part you just have to go with. I thought I'd heard the audio wrong when they talked about flamingos and penguins cavorting on the beach together. Yep. Again, just go with it. It's all about making the most of every situation you are in and focusing on the learning aspect of it. It was actually rather refreshing. There were no terrible crises in the book and that's okay. Good for boys mostly. Young boys. Make sure to let them know it's all just pretend, though, and flamingos and penguins don't live in the same region on earth. Nor bison and kangaroos. It reminded me of the Garden of Eden, maybe.