Friday, May 30, 2014

MMIN: All About Clara

I am so stinkin' proud of this girl of mine. She has worked very hard this semester at school, doing a great job keeping her grades up. She volunteers at the Humane society feeding kittens and walking dogs. She raises chickens and sells eggs.  And she's really fast on the track. She ran a personal best at the league championship meet, coming in third in the 1600 meters. It was so fun to watch her climb the podium and get her medal.
I also love the friends she's made; the choices of who to hang out with and why. She's grown up a lot in the last two years and is making really great choices for her future.
So as her track season draws to a close, I thought I'd make "My Month in Numbers" for May all about Clara. (You can see other MMIN at Julie Kirk's blog).
Best 1600 meter time - 5:21.25
Best 3200 meter time - 12:08
Best 800 meter time - 2:31.19
Hours volunteered at the Humane Society in May - 11
Income from selling eggs (in May) - $118
Expenses from raising chickens (in May) - $21
Hours spent raising chickens (in May) - 14
Her age tomorrow: 16
Happy Birthday Baby Girl! I love you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

So excited!

I've made the list. 
I've tinkered with my post.
I'm counting the hours until the Scavenger Hunt goes live . . . check back on June 1.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Blocking Out the Journey

I've always been an organized person - I have a calendar and lists. I like to plan. It's hard-wired into my DNA. It helps me get things done. In the last few years, though, I've also realized the importance of setting goals before making those lists, so that I know what to put on my lists. I think that's why I like the idea of One Little Word; it gives me a goal and direction for the year. In January, I signed up for a free class called New Year's Revolution. The introductory materials were wonderful and really helped me set some goals for the year that were outside my comfort zone. I've done well at keeping them in the back of my mind, but I really want to return to them and check in more deliberately on how I am doing with that class. It seems a good time, as the year is almost half over. Have you checked in on your One Little Word or New Year's Resolutions lately? If so, how is it going?
One organizational approach that intrigues me is the idea of a "block schedule." Ali Edwards blogged about it here. I did some of it last fall and found it helpful. I set one day a week aside as a photography day; one day as a blogging day; one day as work day; etc. It worked for a while, but then I fell away from it. I think I'll return to the idea this summer, once I know what Clara's volunteer schedule is like. I think it will help me accomplish all those summer plans I blogged about earlier this week.
Have you ever tried this?  If so, how did it work for you?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ZIZO #22: At the Beach (x3)

Today was Memorial Day in the U.S., and we had a day off. It was a glorious sunny day on the coast, and Clara and I took the dogs down to the beach. I wanted to find a good zoom in
Can you guess this second one?
It's part of a sand castle:
Or how about this one?
Did you guess correctly?
Thanks for visiting today. I hope you enjoyed my day at the beach. For more ZIZO pairings, check out Helena's blog here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Hi there! Come one in and let's chat. My blog friend Abi usually sponsors a monthly linky where bloggers invite folks in for a virtual cup of tea and chat. This month, Abi's busy with exams and school, but I'd like to invite you in anyway. I still wish you were here and we could sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee (or tea) together.
If you were here, I'd offer you a nice healthy muffin or perhaps some yogurt and fruit, as I'm back on my healthy eating plan, hoping to lose just a few more pounds and to solidify my good eating habits this round. I'd try not to bore you with the details about balancing macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats) and instead steer the conversation to plans for the summer, as that is what has really been occupying my mind lately. 
You see, the reality of being a parent and a professor means that my life is greatly shaped by the academic calendar. Summer starts when school ends, and I try to make plans to have a fun, yet productive summer. And that means planning ahead of time for both the kids and myself.
Clara is thinking of taking an on-line writing class and will have some summer homework for her advanced placement English class. She's also hoping to shadow a dog groomer friend and will go to a residential cross-country running camp.  I'd tell you that her biggest plan, though, is to volunteer at Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) and to continue her volunteer work at the local humane society. GDB is over an hour away, and I'll have to drive her up there a couple of days a week. I might also volunteer one day a week, but I hope to spend the other day at a nearby library getting some of my own work done. 
My work? Well, I'm working on a law review article that is due at the beginning of July and also have to update the textbook I co-author. Those revised chapters are due on August 1. Plus, I'm teaching a class in the fall that I haven't taught in a while and need to spend some time getting that ready. So, yes, I will be quite busy!
But I also plan to have some creative fun this summer. I will be hosting my 2014 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt (launching on Sunday), and I'm so excited about that! I will also be finishing up my Learn Something New Everyday faces art journal, participating in the Summer of Color (making teeny, tiny bird houses) and working my way through the lessons in the Studying Under the Masters class I bought at the beginning of the year. I'd tell you that I've been really productive lately, playing in my art studio but that I'll be losing that space in a few weeks when Henry comes home.
As much as I'll miss my creative space, I'll gladly give it up to have him back under our roof. His plans? Well, they're still in flux. He did not get his dream job working with the San Francisco Giants, but he's got an interview for a internship with a group in Oakland which tries to build a pool of coaches for under served areas. He would be a "research and evaluation" intern and would hopefully get good experience. He might also take a class over the summer, as his course requirements for next year are pretty demanding. 
Before you go, I'd show you some of my recent art journal pages, including the one above titled "I wanna go to the kitten nursery" and this one, which was inspired the attitude of gratitude class I took with Bernice during May:
And I'd ask about your summer plans. And I'd give you a little nudge to join the Photography Scavenger Hunt, if that wasn't already a part of your plan.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Seasonal Creative Projects Part 4: Gratitude

Bernice of Newly Creative hosts many different art journaling classes throughout the year. I especially enjoy participating in the gratitude one she hosts in November.  In fact, I noticed many gratitude creativity projects sprouting up last November.  In 2012, I participated in her Attitude of Gratitude class and created an art journal which you can see by clicking on this link and scrolling down a bit.  The last few days I've been sharing some of the art work I've been working on which relate to different seasonal creative projects, and I'm ending up with the tag book I'm doing this spring in conjunction with Bernice's current class called "The Art of Practising Gratitude." Each day has a theme, a technique suggestion, a scripture and a quotation, as well as some other links. Here are a few of my recent tags:
The one on the left featured dry embossing and the theme "smile." The one on the right is about compliments and used a technique for coloring stencil images using inktense water colors. 
The top tag is on the subject of celebrations. My journaling reads "after surviving so much, around here, we celebrate each and every good day." I used a combination of stamps and stencils. The bottom tag features a marbled background technique and a message about why I don't need to try to acquire more things to keep up with anyone else. I can be filled with gratitude because "I have enough." I have a few more tags to share later this week, but before then, stop by for a cup of tea tomorrow and to check out my zoom in < zoom out pair on Wednesday. And, of course, the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt will go live on Sunday!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Seasonal Creative Projects Part 3: December Journal and Printer Review

I know that summer is just around the corner, but I only recently finished my December Daily album. This project is another one of those seasonal creative projects that I really enjoy. I've blogged about a few others over the last two days.
In the past, I've done Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas, but this year I decided to do a December Daily documenting both the every day and holiday-related events in December.
I decided to feature one photo and one memory (more or less) for each day in December.
I decided to take this approach when I decided to get a photo printer for Christmas because I figured that way I could print out a photo each day and stay on top of it. Although I bought the printer before Christmas, I didn't actually set it up until I arranged the art studio/ guest room this spring.  So, the project got shelved for a while.
I was happy to return to it and complete it. On the whole, I'm happy with how it turned out. I like having a journal to document a month in our life. I may do traditional scrapbook pages at some time as well. But, even if I never do, I will always have my December Daily.  It was a fun project, too. Easy to put together, at least once I got my printer running!
Speaking of printers, I settled on the Canon MX920 printer. For not too much more than a pure photo printer, I got a dual photo and document printer. It does a very nice job printing photos and a great job printing documents. It has lots of bells and whistles; my favorites are the wireless printing ability and the ability to print on both sides of a page. On the down side, I haven't been able to figure out how to use the scanner, but I'm working on that. And it seems to go through ink very quickly, but maybe that's the way of all printers? In fact, I need to buy more ink before I can print any more photographs. How many photos can you print before you run out of ink?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Seasonal Creative Projects, Part 2: I'm Still Learning

Yesterday I mentioned that there are several seasonal creative projects I participate in each year. I shared my returns from Kat's spring time Liberate Your Art Postcard swap and my plans for Kristin's Summer of Color. Another one of my favorite projects take place each fall - Learn Something New, hosted by Shimelle. It runs every September, and I've probably participated three times.  One year, I made a chipboard book using lots of rubber stamps. You can see a sample here.  Another year, I made a flag shaped mini-album with little teeny tiny pieces of ephemera.  You can see some of them here. Last September, I decided to create an art journal in which I record my lessons and practice drawing faces. I made a start at it, but didn't get very far on it. But lately, I've been working away on it.  I've done all the backgrounds and have even completed a couple of pages.
For the faces in the journal, I'm using techniques from a face-drawing class by Dina Wakley. They're very stylized and messy, but I'm enjoying learning the technique. Each page also includes the lesson learned on that day. I'm going to continue to work on the journal this summer.  Hopefully I'll get it done before the next round of LSNE starts!
Speaking of faces, I also participate in face-drawing creative projects hosted by Ayala Art.  Each June, she runs one featuring men (see mine here) and occasionally hosts one called 29 faces. Here's the post announcing the one for this year. I won't be participating this year, but I have been participating in her Faces in the World Swap, where groups of three people work in sequence to complete a finished face.  For example, I recently sent this out:
And this is what it became:
And when I received this recently:
I tuned her into this:
This is a really fun project. I just sent these to starters out for the next round:
I'll let you know how they turn out when they return home.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Seasonal Creative Projects Pt. 1: Finishing Up; Starting Anew

Now that I've been blogging for several years, I have found myself participating in certain annual creative projects over and over again.  I enjoy the rhythm this gives to my blogging; the feeling that I am becoming less of a newbie blogger and more of a wily veteran. Over the next few days, I will share where I am with some of these. In the Spring, I enjoy participating in Kat's "Liberate Your Art" postcard swap. Although this year, I neglected to post the postcards I received and failed to participate in the blog hop.  So, before I move on to my next seasonal endeavor, I wanted to take a moment to thank Mel for the blue trees (miss your blog Mel!); Miriam for the ferns; Kat for the autumn leaves; and Helena for the ocean waves. Some of these were bonus cards, which make them even more sweet.
I also received "Theory of all Fates" from Anne-Camille Tongleux and "Dotson's Restaurant" from pdbennett.  Photography has been the most traditional image on postcards in Kat's swap, but this year, I received some fun mixed media images, too.
Thank you Teresa for the heart, Debbie for the collage and Susan for the gratitude reminder.  Even though I am tardy in posting these, please know that each one touched my heart and was much appreciated!
What's up next? I'm going to participate in Summer of Color 4, hosted by Twinkle, Twinkle
I did this last summer and really enjoyed it. I made postcards, using acrylic paints and quotes. You can see my creations by clicking on this link.  This summer I decided that I really wanted to do something three-dimensional. I thought about dominoes or wood blocks. I also toyed with the idea of prayer flags made out of plaster, but ultimately I have settled on little bird houses. Little, tiny bird houses, like these.
And, of course, I'll be hosting the 2014 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt, starting June 1. That's just around the corner!
Are you participating in any summer creativity projects? 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Simple Moment: the Rhythm of Nature

I reach into the pocket of my robe and pull out four eggs - one brown, one white and two a wonderful blue/green color. They are smooth and warm to my touch.  I lay a soft cloth on the counter, turn on the tap, and run the eggs under water; gently rubbing away any traces of straw and dust. I pull the egg carton out of the refrigerator and complete the dozen. I marvel, not for the first time, at how quickly the hens fill these cartons. The girls are good layers, producing 5-6 eggs a day. Clara's egg business is thriving. She sells monthly subscriptions - $25 for a dozen eggs delivered once a week for four weeks; $15 for a half-dozen. She's fully subscribed, selling two full dozens and two half-dozens to people around town. Before we started to keep chickens, I had no idea how peaceful I would feel as I walked out into the yard, breathing the cool fresh air; no idea how happy it would make me to walk out into the coop, peer into the laying boxes and pull out eggs; or how complete I would feel, bearng witness to the rhythm of nature.
This simple moment in time has been captured in response to Alexa's wonderful meme. Alexa, following her own rhythm, is gently letting the meme go. I will miss the meme and deeply appreciate her work in hosting it for the last two years. Thank you Alexa!

ZIZO #21: Merlin

"My name is Merlin, and I have six toes. I am polydactyl."
You never know what you'll find when working in the kitten nursery. Clara and I met this wonderfully fun kitten last Friday. I thought he would make a perfect entry for this week at Helena's  zoom in < zoom gathering. You can stop by to see other pairs at this link.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Final Frugal Still Life Photography Assignment

At the beginning of the year, I took a free photography class called Frugal Still Life Photography (you can see my class review here).  Several of the assignments called for using shadows and editing effects to try to create an "Old World" style still life. When taking the class, I don't think I was able to really accomplish that task. Recently, however, I took a counter top still life and transformed it into something that I do feel like has an Old World feel to it. The only problem? It doesn't look very appetizing! LOL!
Here's a less Old World version of the same set-up:
I think I like the second one better. What about you? 
One of the things I like about taking classes is that the lessons stay with me and continue to influence my artistic endeavors. I would never have noticed this counter top composition and taken time to photograph it before I took the class. But I'm glad I did. Have you ever noticed a class that stayed with you weeks or even months after you completed it?

Monday, May 19, 2014

ZIZO #20: At my art desk

I haven't been spending much time in blogland, but I have been having lots of fun in my guest room/ art studio.  I took this zoom in < zoom out pair as part of the ongoing meme hosted by Helena of Helena's Creative Maven. I do have lots of fun creations to share: some progressive faces from the Face in the World Swap; lots of gratitude tags from The Art of Practising Gratitude; and a few other things. Plus, I'm gearing up for the 2014 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt beginning on June 1, 2014.  So come back soon!