Monday, June 25, 2012

Fair Entries 2012

I am adamant every year that the whole family enter something in our two local fairs. First of all, we get discounted (or free) tickets for doing so. Second of all, I think it is important to take pride in your work and share it with others. I LOVE seeing what creative and wonderful things my neighbors have done. I get so much inspiration at the Fair!!!
My husband entered a photograph and got 5th place:

My mother entered this wonderful wreath and got 1st place!:

Noodlebug entered this watercolor and got 1st place:

He also colored a coloring page.  He worked on it for two weeks.  He didn't really care for all the detail work involved. I'm calling it "Inspired by Picasso."  He got 2nd place:

I submitted one of the works I created in one of Shelly Massey's wonderful classes that I took last year at ART IS YOU. I got 2nd place:

I really debated about submitting my work.  The work is mine and the idea and theme are mine but the construction idea was all Shelly's.  I would never ever want to pass off someone else's idea or work as my own.  I decided the best thing to do would be to contact Shelly. So, I want you all to know I asked her permission and she gave it.  I am so bummed Shelly won't be teaching at this year's West Coast ART IS YOU.   She is such a great teacher and I loved her classes so much!!!  I am going to submit the other piece that I did in one of Shelly's classes to next month's Fair. 

Noodlebug also competed in his very first Pedal Tractor Pull race.  It was so fun to see his enthusiasm!!!  I just love our little Fair!  Stay tuned for the results from next month's Fair!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Labor of Love

One of my best friends lost her mother last week. My heart aches for her.  She has been away for several weeks now during this difficult vigil and will return home in a few days.  I tried every way I could think of to figure out how I could attend her mother's memorial service so I could be there but I just couldn't make it work financially or otherwise.  So....

I wanted to do something meaningful for my friend who means so much to me. This is really going out on a limb for me creatively.  I always cringe when someone calls me "creative" or "artistic" because I don't really feel I am any of those things.  I love trying new things and fooling around with collage and sketching and sewing and painting but I am certainly a "jack of all trades, master of none."

A co-worker gave me a few small canvases he found in a donation bin a month ago and I pulled one out last night.  I cannot do an accurate representation of my friend's mother.  This is more of an impression that attempts to capture an emotion:

I'm still working on  it.  I need to do some more filling in with my charcoals and Stabilo pencil.  It is hard to see but I added a yellow haze around her head.  I didn't want literally to put her in a robe with a cross around her neck and angel wings. But I wanted to convey transformation and the promise of a better world in the face of painful loss.

I don't know. Maybe this whole thing is silly. Maybe I'm going to embarrass myself.

In the end, though, I hope that when I present this to my friend that she will see it for what it truly is....a labor of love.

**UPDATE**  I found a Bible verse that I am going to try and incorporate into the piece:

"Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.--Proverbs 31:31."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do You Sparkle?

I recently read of a review of Sparkle Stories on another blog and decided I had to check it out.  When I would visit my grandparents as a child, I always looked forward to using the local storyline.  I would dial a phone number that would allow me to listen to the story of the day.  I absolutely loved it!  I'm already passionate about books and I used to do storytimes when I worked at the public library. I feel that we are losing the fine art of storytelling in this digital age. Stories are such an important part of culture and tradition.  Not only that but sitting and listening to a story helps encourage imagination, listening skills, patience and learning how to sit still and quietly.

Sparkle Stories is an online subscription service that allows to you subscribe to one more audio stories.  Each week, you download a new chapter in the story.  I load them into my iPhone so we can listen to them wherever we go.  It doesn't matter where you begin in the story. If you stay a subscriber for an entire year, you will eventually cycle through all of the chapters. The stories are seasonally appropriate and often reference current holidays like Father's Day.

We started with "At Home with Martin and Sylvia."  I sat Noodlebug down at his work table while I made dinner.  He colored a picture while he listened to the latest episode.  The story inspired the picture that he eventually made.  The story was about 18 minutes. He was completely captivated and immediately asked for another story.  I found a few free downloads on the Sparkle Stories blog including a very apropos Father's Day story.  He loved it!  Since then, we have been using Sparkle Stories for quiet times, during dinner preparation and on car rides.  It became very apparent that one story wasn't going to be enough.  (you only download a new chapter once a week)  So, we subscribed to "Martin and Sylvia" and "Junkyard Tales" as well.  Now we have plenty of stories for any occasion.

The stories are all very sweet and wholesome. Storyteller David Sewell McCann is a former Waldorf teacher and his wife, Lisabeth Sewell McCann, is a playwright and director.  The stories are entertaining enough for the entire family to enjoy!

The subscriptions run from $7 per month for a single story subscription and $15 per month for any three stories.  After 3 subscriptions, you can get additional stories for $3.50 each.

I have already decided that this is what I will be giving all the children we know for birthday gifts this year!!!   Come Sparkle with us!

(This review is not compensated or solicited in any form.  All opinions are my own.)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day

I don't feel like I get to spend much quality time together with my husband and son. When we are all at home together, I tend to be running around frantically trying to clean up and catch up with everyone I haven't been able to do during the week. Especially at this time of year when I am working ten hour days at work.

Yesterday, we spent the whole day in San Francisco. We went to the California Academy of Sciences where we saw the new "Earthquake" exhibit.  They had adorable baby ostriches as well as a shake table!  You enter a room that looks a little bit like someone's living room. You grab onto a bar and then the room starts to shake.  The first earthquake you experience is the 1989 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake.  Then, the room changes slightly and you get to experience the 1906 7.9 magnitude San Francisco earthquake.  I'm from Texas--land of tornadoes---so earthquakes are completely foreign to me. I was very unnerved by the Shake House but my son thought it was really cool.  After learning about earthquake preparedness and after taking in a movie about earthquakes in the planetarium, we headed to nearby Stow Lake.

They just refurbished the boathouse at Stow Lake and you can rent paddleboats and rowboats by the hour.   We chose a rowboat and rowed around the lake for an hour.

Noodlebug learned how to row and he actually did a really great job. Maybe in a few years, we can sit back and he can row US around the lake!

In spite of the chilly weather, it was a lovely day.  Much needed by our little family.

I'm really struggling with stress and grumpiness right now. Trying to keep it all together.  One day at a time, right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

4th Birthday Camping Party Recap

In all the hullabaloo surrounding pulling off my child's bithday party, I never managed to take any photographs. Luckily, I have several friends who are wonderful photographers and were taking pictures at the party.

For Noodlebug's 4th birthday, we transformed our yard into CAMP FUSCO. I am a firm believer in paper invitations and I found these adorable ones at Tiny Prints that I purchased using a stellar promo code that I found somewhere:

I then got a few mylar balloons, some themed plastic tablecloths and a terrific banner that said "Welcome to Camp Fusco" from Birthday Express.  Such cute party items.  Since this was a party on a budget, I only bought a few themed items just to set the tone.

We then pitched a large tent in the front yard along with Noodlebug's mini pop-up play tent, the canvas play tent I made awhile back and a play teepee.  I bought an inflatable campfire from Oriental Trading Company since we were having little ones and we put that in the middle of the yard and surrounded it by foam squares to sit on.

I set up a card table on the driveway for our check-in table. When the campers arrived, they came to check-in to get a string backpack with a camp t-shirt inside, a mini-flashlight and a mini bug net.  I found a graphic online somewhere and modified it myself.  Then, I printed it out using my inkject printer to make an iron-on and ironed them onto t-shirts for the kids.

In the front yard, I set up bubbles for the kids to play with and put picture books about camping in the big tent. (like CURIOUS GEORGE GOES CAMPING)  In the backyard, we had the food.  Ants on a log. Trail mix. Goldfish crackers. Gummy worms. Pretzel sticks. Fresh fruit.  Juice and water for the kids.  I also hung a large roll of paper along the face and put out some washable markers for the kids.  The backyard also had a craft table with mini bug boxes from Oriental Trading Company that could be decorated with markers and stickers. 

The first half hour was check-in and free play.  The next hour, we had local children's museum James K come to do a campfire singalong!

While James K was finishing up, I snuck in the backyard and distributed some fake plastic bugs.  After the singing, the kids went on a bug hunt with their bug nets and bug boxes.  They really go into it!!!  Then it was on to the "cake."  Instead of cake, we made s'mores parfaits.  I used small clear plastic cups and layered chocolate pudding with crushed graham crackers and then sprinkled mini marshmallows on top. Noodlebug got one with a candle in it.  I also made him a special crown from a Family Fun idea.

We finished up with some more free time and then sent the campers on their merry way!  When it was all over, Noodlebug asked me if all his friends could come camping again next week!

Me. Now.

I thought it was time to update my public photo since the old one is about three years old.  I have to stay I am really enjoying playing with Instagram.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview of MADAGASCAR 3 in San Francisco last Saturday thanks to Crowdtap.  Unfortunately, due to a snafu with Crowdtap and the movie theater, we missed the first 1/3 of the film.  So, I will have to review only PART of the movie.

What I like about the "Madagascar" movies is that the animals are all funny and the voice characterizations are great.  There are plenty of jokes for grownups within the films to keep it interesting.  My big complaint about the films is the "potty" humor. I could REALLY do without that. 

The third movie introduces a new villain. The animal friends are loose in Europe and are trying to get home to New York.  Since I didn't see the beginning, I'm not sure what the friends did to incur the wrath of the evil Captain Chanel DuBois.  DuBois is a French gendarme who specializes in hunting down animals.  She is called in when the zoo friends cause a ruckus in Monte Carlo.  She is scary-looking in the tradition of Cruella DeVille with her red lips and sharp features.   In order to elude DuBois and her fellow officers, the animal friends go incognito by joining a European circus. 

The best part of the film was the circus.  It was fun to see the animals exploring their talents while making new friends.  I especially loved the character of a Russian tiger named Vitaly. Vitaly was once a circus star but lost his confidence in an accident.  I really liked his storyline because I think it speaks to overcoming adversity and supporting one's friends.  King Julian also gets to have a little romance as well.  I think this part will go over the heads of most kids. Some parents may be put off by the lascivious glances that Julian gives his new friend but it was amusing.

****Parental Advisory with minor spoilers****

My son was really bothered by the villain.  Something about her is very scary.  At the end of the film, she pulls out a saw to chop off Alex's head.  I think my son didn't understand what was going on but it certainly bothered ME.  Some of the 3D effects are a little intense. My son jumped several times but I don't think he was scared. Just startled.  The movie opens with an elaborate chase scene that may be intense for some younger viewers. There is a really big grossout scene at one point involving an elephant and a little boy.  Potty humor at its WORST!!!

****End of spoilers****

Overall, we liked the film.  The music numbers were great and we have Marty's catchy new tune, "Afro Circus," stuck in our heads. I could do without the chase scenes and the potty humor but we still enjoyed it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Help Me Save Evy's Tree!

I buy A LOT of handmade items.  Especially from Etsy. I love supporting other artists, artisans and craftsmakers to live their dream while indulging in my habit of buying handmade goods. So many wonderful moms are able to stay-at-home thanks to these types of businesses. 

I first heard about Evy's Tree through the auction to support Ashley of Little Blue Boo.  I love it when bloggers come together to help other bloggers. Amy of Evy's Tree was a big part of this auction.  When I saw the fabulous embellished hoodies that she creates, I had to have one.

I love the Fourth of July. My wedding anniversary is on July 3 and I always make sure the whole family goes to see the fireworks. Even though we have to bundle up to watch them here in Sonoma County. I thought this hoodie would be perfect for fireworks watching:

I get LOTS of compliments every time I wear it.  The comfort of a hoodie with lots of fun style and pizzazz.  I was hooked. I have since purchase two more Brillas. I watch Evy's Tree on Facebook like a hawk in the hope that Amy posts some discounted hoodies that I can snap up! Just when I found this new clothing addiction, Evy's Tree closed!!!

Amy is really struggling.  The change in Facebook's policies have GREATLY affected her sales.  She is looking at having to close her shop PERMANENTLY unless she can raise the money to outsource to a manufacturer. In order to do this, she is selling off all her stock.   She has 30 days to sell 1500 pieces in order to raise the money she needs to keep Evy's Tree open.  Amy will reopen the shop this week with two categories: Preorder and Limited Edition. Both categories will sell at cheaper retail than what they were listed at previously. 

If Amy's gamble works, every purchase made during these 30 days will receive a discount code for 50% off her manufactured goods when they arrive this fall.

Help me support a creative person whose passion enables her to stay home with her family while giving back to others.  I'll be there when the store reopens to buy hoodie #4!!!

Go here to shop!!!