Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finals Time is a Quiet Time

I'm struggling right now trying to teach students how to cite references in perfect MLA style.

It's an uphill battle, but every so often there is a student who just gets it. And it makes it all worthwhile for those few minutes until I grade another paper which makes me cry.

I have been letting myself work on a few ornaments here and there and I'm posting a bit more often on Facebook. I've been finding the neatest paper ornaments that I am dying to try!

You can follow me on Instagram, too, under the username rhymeswithmagic.

In the meantime, here are two projects I've completed in the past week. Yes, it's a Dr. Who-fest!



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Crystal Snowflake

You know what you get when you bead a snowflake and then dip it in Borax?

THIS:


Snowflake forms here.

Instructions for dipping ornament here.

Happy Christmas preparations!!!

An Unexpected Journey - A Heather's Tale

It's been more than a month now since my sister, Meagan, died in her sleep. My little family and I packed up the car and wended our way to Utah the day after so that we could attend the funeral and be with family.
 

The scenery as we drove through desert and brush was surprisingly beautiful.


My husband's shirt was not beautiful! He has a love for pork rinds. Blech!


I was quiet for most of the trip except when taking fun pictures for posterity...


 Yes, he wore those teeth for much of the trip. And held the boxing glove. For a 7-year old, Kenneth was wonderful on this trip. He played and played and played in the back seat, mostly writing a story. You can see the paper sticking out of his backpack next to his seat.


I don't do many selfies, but here's one.


The Virgin Gorge is one of the prettiest things we see as we drive to Utah.


The stretch of road between St. George and Salt Lake City is very pastoral.


I'd heard that librarians like to visit other libraries when they travel. I felt like a spy. And a critic.


One of the best things about the trip (it was a funeral, after all) was seeing online friends in the flesh. This was Dana and when we met it was like we'd always known each other. Fun, huh?


She took me to a the library in her town - 5,000 people and it has the BIGGEST library I've seen in a town that size. It has a museum in the basement. That's where I learned about...


Bezoars... thank you Harry Potter!


I have a plethora of sisters, even with the one now gone. This is the youngest sister, Allyson. She's a hoot.

Here's my hottie brother, Ethan. I told him he looks like Bard from The Hobbit movie. Except he's bald.


After the funeral we drove home through beautiful Utah country. Brian and I decided that we'd like to move here in a few years... (fingers crossed!)


Click on the above picture to see the native Joshua Tree plants from our stomping grounds here in Kern County. Yeehaw!


So I came back from my trip, a little sadder for the reason, but happy to have seen so much family and beautiful scenery. I was strangely filled...

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I'm Back, But a Little Quieter

Me and my sister a Long Time Ago
 For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook, you may not know that I got a surprise phone call on Friday, October 17th, telling me that one of my sisters had died unexpectedly in her sleep that morning.

To say the news was shocking was an understatement. (BTW, any of you having to tell a family member about a death should MAKE THAT PERSON GET SOMEONE ELSE IN THE ROOM WITH THEM SO THEY ARE NOT ALONE!)


I am the oldest sibling of six girls and a caboose of a boy. Meagan was #4 in our family and had been having health problems for years. It was mostly of the knee/foot/fibromyalgia type of illness. She was always in pain, on medication, having a medical procedure, etc. Unfortunately, it also made her not be able to take care of her family.

The Monday before her death, Meagan had knee replacement surgery. She was really looking forward to this as it would FINALLY allow her some mobility and the chance to actually be a mom to her kids. The night after she came home from the hospital she fell asleep on the couch and simply didn't wake up again. No one knows why, but we're thinking it might have been a blood clot since that is a common reason for complications after that surgery.

I was going through my pictures last night and found that I didn't have any of just the two of us (I cropped out one sister in the above photo - sorry, April!). I think that makes me the saddest of all. There are lots of us with other people in the family, but none of us by ourselves. Perhaps that's okay, though. We are a forever family...

Ethan, Allyson, April, Meagan, me and Melanie... Hajek kids!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Flowers


I'm working on flowers.


I'm using wallpaper and maps and scrapbook paper.


I think I need a million of them. (Learn how to make these here!)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Watercolors, ho!


I don't have a good camera right now because it is being persnickety (Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't), so I'm making do with my tablet's camera.

I nearly always have a big pile of paintings I'm working on. When I sit down to paint, I look through the pile and choose a few to work on. Tonight's assortment of paintings went through a shocking series of twists and turns. I painted on them for a while and then started laying down colored pencil. My favorite pencil is the white one - it blends everything together and it looks almost like oils in parts...


In other news, I'm making tons and tons of Folded flowers. Here's a sneak peek:





Sunday, September 28, 2014

Persnickety Cameras


My camera has to go in the shop. The trip we took to the beach last year proved too much sand for such a fastidious piece of equipment. It's been getting more and more temperamental until... it just won't work!

I'm busy making flowers. BIG ones, small ones, all colors and patterns. I have a project in mind that will set my house apart from everyone else's.

And I'll show you progress. After I get the camera back!

edit -- Click here to see how you make the flowers in the above picture.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Washington Watercolors

My trip to Washington draws to a close tomorrow morning as I start the flight home to Bakersfield. One of the things I've loved about Tacoma is that there is a ton of public art and art shops. My heart sinks a bit as I think about returning to my hometown where I don't feel that same art spirit, that sense of beauty of place. Hmm... I guess it's just up to me to make my home and my neighborhood and my workplace as much a place of beauty as I, by myself, can do.


I've only got my tablet with me, so the pictures are unedited and not rotated in the right directions, but you can still get the gist of what I'm doing.


Several artists I've admired over the years have a lot of details in the form of patterns in their work. I paint a lot of flat areas (Granted, they have layers and layers of paint in them) but I wanted to try out some pattern details in my houses. Here's an attempt (Blurry!).


I rather like this one. It's a piece I'm doing from memory of a painting I've seen inside the Los Angeles Temple of the tree of Good and Evil. It's kind of different than anything I've ever done before, but it makes me feel like I can really draw/paint like a "real" artist.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Watercoloring Before Volcanoes



I'm here in Washington this week for a library conference and my room looks out at Mt. Ranier, an active, but "between eruptions" volcano (http://geology.com/usgs/rainier/). If it decides to blast, I have a great view!


I had a little time before my first meeting of the day to paint. This is the first time I've been so completely alone to do art in FOREVER. I miss my family, but I'm comforting myself with chocolate and a wonderful big bed all to myself...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Two Weeks? Here, Have Some Cookies


Um... two weeks since I last posted? I knew I'd been gone a bit, but two weeks? I've been busy with school preparations, but did make time to try new recipes from Pinterest. Here's the latest of my success stories!


Oatmeal-Fudge Cookies (yes, I said fudge!)

These are bar cookies, so get out your 9x13 pan and heat up the oven to 350°F.

Cookie:
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 t. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
3 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. In separate bowl, mix flour, soda and salt. Add flour mixture to batter and mix until just incorporated. Fold in oats. Batter will be thick. Put 1/3 dough into fridge/freezer to cool until very firm.

Fudge:
1 can condensed milk
1/3 cup butter
1 t. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Heat in saucepan until melted.

Assembly:
Spread 2/3 of your cookie dough into the 9x13 pan. Spread your chocolate fudge mixture over dough. Take the other 1/3 dough and roll it out between two pieces of parchment until it's approximately 9x13-sized. Remove from parchment and lay over the fudge.

Bake at 350° for 25-35 minutes. You want the top to be browned and slightly crispy around the edges. If it starts getting too crispy before the center is done, put a piece of foil over it.

You MUST allow it to cool completely before cutting or else the fudge will just spill out and what a waste that would be!

Eat. Enjoy.


I keep these in my refrigerator and eat them cold because they taste better that way.

Recipe from here!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On the Desk

The cheap watercolors are brilliantly pigmented, but opaque. It's fun to experiment!
 It's almost time for school to start again, both for me and for Kiff! I have a whole new format for my classes - I'm finally teaching ONLINE instead of just offline (think correspondence course). Anyway, it involves setting up "shells" and transferring files and formatting and creating all new exams. In addition to that, I'm working on a couple of other projects and visiting with friends from out of the country (Japan!) and getting ready for my mom to visit next week. I'm tiiiiiiired!

A display showing the steps in making a manuscript

One bonus of visiting with friends is getting another opportunity to visit the Getty museum in LA. This time they had some illuminated manuscripts available to see. No Hoefnagels, but that just means there is always something new each time I go...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

And Now For Something Completely Different!



I started a blog called The Working Mormon Mom. Why? Because I keep hearing about Mormon Mommy bloggers and their great stay-at-home lives.

There are no blogs out there for us who work (and still have Temple Recommends). I decided to fix that. And it will be a place I can share my love of the Gospel and talk about how it has shaped my choices and my life.

This blog will continue and be full of art. The other one will be work, home and life. Come join me if that's your wont!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Art to Steal From - Quilled Heart

My attempt at quilling.

I found a picture online of a scrolled heart made of pink, cream and lilac papers, quilled in a way I'd never seen before - huge, fat scrolls and little tight coils. What a combo! I've never tried quilling and decided to take the plunge. It's harder than it looks. Hats off to all you quillers!

Of course, I can't find the original inspiration picture now, but the one below is very close to it (just imagine it in the cream, pink and lilac and you'll see why I swooned) and I'm pretty sure it's from the same person. If not, the one below is from Sena Runa and you can find her work on Etsy. :)


The inspiration - sort of

Noise

In CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters there is a quote that I'd like to talk about:

Music and silence - how I detest them both! 
How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell ... 
no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time 
has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, 
but all has been occupied by Noise -  
Noise! the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all 
that is exultant, ruthless, and virile - 
Noise! which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, 
and impossible desires. 
We will make the whole universe a noise in the end ... 
The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end.


I am embattled by noise and have been my entire life. The noise of everyday sinks into my very skin and I stink of it. It worms its way into my mind and shouts so loud I cannot sleep. Even now, it's nearly midnight and my psyche is so wound up that sleep will only come when I am so exhausted that I can't keep myself upright.

My worry is that I am not stronger than the noise. That's why this little picture (can't find any source!) jumped out at me on Pinterest the other day.


So while I sit here, the noise screaming in my head that I'm not good enough for ... anything ... I need to give place for the smallest thought that, maybe, I am.

Positive affirmations, mindfulness, meditation, and prayer have all been tried with varying amounts of success in stilling the waters, but quiet eludes me. If only I could have just a few minutes with God so He could tell me everything was all right.

God's voice can still the screaming. I can be lead to peace. He can reassure me. My mind can be enlightened. I can hear encouragement and be comforted. My spirit can be calmed.  I can feel relief from condemnation.

Oh, listen. It's not so noisy anymore...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Perfect Day Imagined


In a perfect life, I would wake up each morning, having slept solidly (with good dreams) after at least eight hours, having only been disturbed by a gentle, loving kiss from my husband as he left for work earlier. I'd feel refreshed! Alive! I'd look forward to what the day held.

After dressing myself in clothes that were comfortable and made me look great, I'd do my makeup and hair with a minimum of fuss and I'd glow.

Breakfast would be a beautiful affair with simply-made food that looked beautiful in the morning light - artfully arranged and garnished with just the right amount of vibrantly-colored homemade sauce or syrup or compote.

My children and I would have conversations that lent themselves to deep philosophical insights by me or comedic misunderstandings by them that would then become viral Internet memes.

After breakfast, my kitchen would be easily cleaned with lemons and vinegar. It would be a perfect vignette of domesticity - gentle northern light coming through a large window, illuminating baskets of fruit or vegetables on butcher block counters. Handmade tiles on the walls. Burnished copper pots and pans hanging among dried herbs from the ceiling.

My house would already/always be clean or artfully cluttered. My children and I would spend the day in my art studio where I would always know exactly what I wanted to create. The supplies would always be within reach and available. My children would allow me to work, only interrupting me with sweet comments that I would later share on my social media. They would read or play games that fostered imagination and they would always share. Lunch would be another simply prepared meal - perhaps eaten outside amongst my flower and gardening containers. I would have beautiful artwork to show my husband when he came home from work.

He'd love it and ask to take pictures to show his friends what a fabulous wife he had. He'd then spend time talking about his day (he loved his job, he'd laughed with his co-workers, a promotion had been mentioned, etc.) and then go off to get undressed from work and talk/play with his children for a few minutes as I started dinner. After a short while, both husband and children would come in and help with dinner, knowing what to do without being asked. Dinner would be a heartier affair (manly food) with stimulating conversation between adults and educational opportunities to explain the meaning of Life, the Universe and Everything to the children. Much happiness and laughter would ensue.

After dinner, the kitchen would be cleaned in no time and next would be family time - a walk, a shared outside improvement project/activity or visiting with family/neighbors. Bath time would be greeted with cheers and the children would take turns playing happily in the tub while my husband and I strengthened our marriage by talking about goals, evaluating progress on current projects and reminiscing about past successes. We would be caught hugging/kissing in the kitchen by giggling, still-damp children.

Bedtime would be gentle. Stories would be read, drinks of water given and kisses bestowed on heads/cheeks/lips. The husband and I would spend quality time together. Bedtime would be an unhurried time for me - my husband and I'd read scriptures with understanding. I'd say my prayers with earnestness and gratitude. I'd lay down with a peaceful, satisfied feeling of a Day Well Done and go to sleep, looking forward to the next day.

After a description like this, the predictable thing would be to contrast it with my actual life. But I'd rather leave the beautiful images in my mind instead and focus on the Could Be...


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Little Reminders


Such a simple pattern, but when it's repeated over and over, the little shapes become a mass of something greater. I sure hope it's that way with my simple reminders to myself and my children. Over and over I remind them to be good. Over and over I remind myself that *I* am good. Hopefully those little reminders are building great people.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Nostalgia


This is one of my favorite older designs from when I first started folding. I love how the simplicity is so beautiful.

Sometimes when things are bleak in my life, I desperately seek for peace in art and words. The quiet things don't talk back...

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Butterflies are HERE!

Hurray! It's here! I'd like to introduce my Butterflies pattern set!

A big thank you to everyone on Facebook who suggested names for the four butterflies included in this pattern set. My literary heart was touched by Michelle's submission of names from the Bronte sisters (and mom), so I present to you Charlotte, Emily, Anne and Maria Butterfly for your folding pleasure!


As with most things, I was impatient for these to be finished, but they turned out well and I am happy. You'll find them in my blog shop now and (very soon), in my Etsy shop!(edited - they're HERE)


In addition to pattern directions, I also included a quick tips section on embellishing your finished butterflies. Happy folding!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Raindrops and Surprises!


I woke up to cloudy skies this morning and - best of all - a surprise rain shower! You can see the sprinkles on the concrete and rocks at the top of the picture. It was glorious, especially because I came across a journal entry of mine ONE YEAR AGO EXACTLY lamenting the desire for rain. Spooky...

In other news, the butterfly pattern set is nearly finished and I have a special surprise coming for everyone to celebrate its release... stay tuned!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Pop of Color in Bakersfield the Brown



Every Thursday we have Brian's kids for a few hours until we drop them off at their Mom's house at 8pm. The other week we were taking them home and the most beautiful clouds had formed over Bear Mountain. I think they're called pancake clouds, but I'm not totally sure. They stack up in layers and look very pretty and weird in the evening sky.

It's hard for me to love Bakersfield (IT'S SO HOT!!!) but I don't know that I would create as colorful of art if I didn't live in a place where it was so dull and brown and devoid of weather most of the time. I have to bring my own color into my life.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Crochet Break


 I am one of those people who needs to mix it up when it comes to creative endeavors. I'll paint feverishly for several days and then I'll fold books. After folding books, I'll crochet. Sprinkle a few recipes in there and you get a taste for how I work.


Front and back views of my latest little crocheted rock. It's going to go to a friend at work, the recipient of my first ever crocheted rock. It's a sad little sight compared to what I can do now...