Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another "Banner" Homework day

One of this week's homework assignments was to do some things with type.  I won't bore you with the details.  But I decided to use it as a way to create a couple of banners for a website I have to design for another class.  So here are my two homework assignments/banners.

This one uses some of my photographs and artwork as the background texture for the letters.  I then placed it on a piece of my digital art.

This one is, well, green.  Lots of green.

So onto the rest of my homework assignments and NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mandala Monday

This week's topic for the 100 Mandalas is 'rock art' mandala.  Unfortunately, while I did have plans to steal retrieve a river rock from a planter around town, it didn't happen.  So I am pulling out a couple of mandalas I have done recently which feature a rock or are 'rock-like' in nature.

This is the heart shaped oil stain Savvy noticed on the parking lot when we were going into the craft store.

So I am waaaayyyyy behind on my 100 mandalas in 100 days.  Of course, I only have 2 homework projects due today, work and a bit of NaNoWriMo prep.  Hopefully, since I haven't picked up an extra day at work this week I can do a bit of catchup.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

NaNoWriMo Count Down

This time next week I will be typing away like mad in order to get my word count in before work and homework assignments.  This year I am going all out in my prep work.  I have about 10 pages of notes/outline of the story I plan to write (and the premise is pretty good if I say so myself).  I have a huge stack of books on Victorian life - which I won't get a chance to really read next month.  I think I have them for "mood".  I need to do a couple of things today before work - come up with some names for characters and create my playlist of music to listen to while writing.

I did do my book cover this morning.

Funny thing is, when I went to add the picture here I realized I hadn't put my name on the cover of the book as the author!  I went back and added it, so now I have a book cover with my name on it as the author.

Juliet Hayhurst has the ability to see the past by touch, mainly with papers.  After feeling she caused her husband's death, she simply wants to take her father, leave London, and live quietly in the country.  But others have different plans for her future and the past may be coming back to haunt her.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Homework - Extraction and Textures

This week has been a lot of much so that I am neglecting some of my other homework to 'play' with the tutorials in this week's class.  Our homework assignment was to extract a figure, waist up picture, and put it on a textured background.  We were given a couple of pictures of some cute guys, but I went instead with my own pictures.  Except I didn't actually take this picture of Savvy.  The year of this Ren Faire it was rainy and I was in the tech crew.  I made sure there was plenty of straw in from on the vendor who was selling portraits so people could get into their tent.  They were so thankful, they made a set of pictures of Savvy in garb for me.

My thought, which I actually had late at night before I fell asleep, was an old portrait.  One that needed cleaning.  This is what I submitted for the assignment as it didn't say to alter the picture of the person any.

Then I had the idea if this was to be an old picture, then why not actually make her look like she was painted and not a photograph.

There is a bit of a difference.  I think I like the second version better as far as the overall effect goes.

In the meantime, I will end my evening of 'photoshop play' by sampling some new tea I ordered from Teavana.  I'm having Wonderberry Chocolate Truffle and Savvy is having Chocolate Chai.  Great way to end a hectic day.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Having to Think....

...which is difficult for me at times!  Actually, what I am thinking about is one of my classes for next semester (yes, already thinking about January, 2015).  It's a portfolio class.  And while it is mainly taught online, there is a 'going on campus' component because you have to discuss your portfolio with your instructor.


I talked to the department head who I have had several classes with online.  She suggested I talk to the instructor about doing it all online.  I did.  Now comes the thinking part.....

Homework practice layering textures

I have to go through work I have already done and submit several pieces to her so she can see the level of work I am doing and whether or not we can manage this via email/phone calls/scanning/and the computer.

Which brings me to the thinking part.

I have been toying with the idea of 'putting my art out there' for several months.  This would be the next big step - actually creating a portfolio of my work and having someone really critique it for something other than a grade.  The coming semester would also include a class on Print and getting things ready for a printer - which would be my next step in actually offering my work for sale.

Textured letter for homework practice.  More will be coming for a possible new banner on the blog.

And that's the really scary part.  I have my own critic perched on my shoulder going "nope, terrible, bad, awful, who are you kidding".  

So for the next couple of days, it's going through pictures I have done and deciding what to send out into the world for this tiny step.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Another Fun App

Actually, I think I got I downloaded ProCam as a freebie app from Starbucks.  I love taking pictures, but lugging my camera around just isn't feasible most days.  But I was waiting for Savvy to get off work one afternoon and started playing with the 'adjustment' features on the camera and this is the results.

My seed pod picture and I darkened it and added a bit of a vignette.

Adding some funky lines to the pictures - circular, straight and cross hatch.  But then the real fun starts.

Kaleidoscope time!  I love kaleidoscopes and you have several settings to play with pictures in this mode.  One thing about it is I keep thinking 'quilt pattern, quilt pattern' while doing so. Same picture and tons of different looks to go around.  This is a fun app and I can see me 'playing' with it more and more as time goes by.  A great alternative to lugging heavy camera and lens and instant editing. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mandala Monday

Over the weekend I made a good meal for my family and created some food I had always wanted to make.  I think being 'creative' with food is just as important an area of creativity and artistry as any other art.  I find a lot of relaxation and comfort in cooking.  So I used my beef stew to create this week's mandala.

And I love the quote I found by Dorothy Gilman.  How true.  We need food to nourish our foods, but we also need dreams to survive.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Saturday Soufflés

A souffle' is something I have always wanted to make.  When I first started working for American Airlines, one of my managers loved food.  As in fine dining food.  I was a little country bumpkin who thought a trip to Dairy Queen was fine dining.  But no, he showed a whole other side to eating.  On one occasion when the department had pulled another tough one off, he treated us to dinner.  Dinner as in about 6 white tablecloths on the table and a waiter for each of us.  More forks and spoons than I had ever seen at one place setting.  And for dessert we had soufflés.  I remember the waiter taking a pair of spoons and 'opening' up the top of the soufflés and pouring in a warm sauce flavored with a liquor.  This was the early 80's and I haven't had one since.

But I always wanted to make one.  Something always seemed to be in the way.  I didn't have ramekins and every time I thought about buying some, I didn't want to spend the money on them (even though I can think of a ton of uses for them) or the girls weren't big enough to appreciate or enjoy them.  Then the girls were never there.  It was always some excuse or another.

So Friday I marched downtown to a little kitchenware shop called The Pan Handler.  I went there for a few reasons.  First, I needed a bit of alone time and I walked from Starbucks to the other end of Last Chance Gulch to get there.  Secondly, I wanted to support a local business.  Third, they are really nice and the prices are the same as if I went to Walmart or Target and the quality, I think, is better.  I picked up 4 ramekins.  I already had 4 small ramekins, but needed some just a little bigger.

I had Saturday figured out, homework, beef stew and chocolate soufflés.

I purchased a small bag of assorted potatoes to go into the stew.  I had never cooked 'blue' potatoes before, even though I wanted to grow some in the past.  I cut a roast up I had in the freezer and added a bit of beer to the homemade beef stock.  (Yes, I was going all Food Channel on myself.)

Dinner consisted of the stew and cornbread made in my new cast iron skillet Savvy gave me for my birthday.  And while Dr. Who was showing, these were in the oven....

There they were, just puffing their little self right on up.  The recipe was easy and I am not sure what I was expecting, but I was delighted when about half way through cooking, I looked, and there they were, SOUFFLÉS.   Savvy was just as delighted as I was and we were both hopeing Lady K's play time didn't make them fall.

A little chocolate sauce on top and we were sampling away.  I DID IT!  I made soufflés.  They worked and tasted really great.  They weren't as difficult as I was thinking they would be and as I had gotten eggs on sale at the grocery store ($1 a dozen), they weren't that expensive to make.

Savvy gave her approval of my efforts and even "B", who doesn't really eat sweets, ate a little one.  They were light and fluffy and chocolatey and warm and wonderful. I am so proud of myself.  I checked off one of those things I always said I would do and now I've done it!

Oh, and the homework bit of my Saturday....failed.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

New "TOY"

The past couple of days have been 'interesting'.  Interesting in the way you would like to crawl under a rock and hide until it's over, but you can't kind of way.  Texter was at work on her overnight shift at Walmart.  At 1:00 AM Wednesday morning, after laying on the floor in the fetal position, "B" takes her to the emergency room.  6:00 AM she is being prepped to have her appendix removed.  What are the odds of both daughters having their appendix out?  Savvy had her's removed 3 days after 9/11, when she was in the 5th grade.

So school work, library work, everything out the window.  "B" has been fantastic and stuck by her side at the hospital and at home, so all I really have to do is watch Lady K.  And with a 19 month old, you know that is a full-time and a half job.

Anyway, after dropping Savvy off at work Thursday night and coming home to finish up some potato soup of Texter, the sunset was beautiful.  So I decided to try out the time-lapse option on my iPhone camera.  I propped it up on the balcony railing and let it go while I finished up her dinner.

The quality is not the great and I shouldn't have had the camera pointed directly at the sunset to eliminate some of the 'brightness', but what a cool toy I now have.  There will be a solar eclipse next week, so I have to figure out a way to rig up a tripod so I can film it.  And I want to make a chocolate soufflé with all the eggs I have.  A time lapse in front of the oven perhaps? Ahhhhhh, the ideas, the ideas!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Annual Report Homework Assignment

The finishing project for one of my graphic design classes (it was only half a semester long) was to create an annual report on a fictitious company.  That's all well in good except for one small problem - I hate annual reports.  It reminds me too much of my accounting classes I took in the late 70's that I hated.  Just because you might be good at math doesn't mean you should let your parents tell you to be an accountant.  But that's what I did back then - do what the parents told me to.  After 4 semesters of plowing through accounting (liked the bookkeeping end of it), I quit.  And if you could see the state of my bank account, you might say I am still rebelling. 

My fake company was taking my own digital art and creating a company from it, "Mainly Mandalas" and here is my annual report.

As you can see, I plan to expand into other areas this year!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things Happened Out of the Blue

With all the TONS of things I want to do, need to do, I hadn't made any mandalas or digital art for awhile.  Of course, if you could see the stack of books in the backseat of my car (note to self: go take picture of backseat before you remove books) on Victorian life and the mound of homework I have, it is understandable.  But what fun is it if you don't pile more on your plate?

One of my favorite bloggers and her friend have teamed up and issued the 100 Mandala Challenge.  I am really interested in this for several reasons:

  1. Kathryn Costa is someone who I have followed for several years now.  She is a constant inspiration and just seems like one of the nicest people around.  You can't fake that over the years.
  2. I need someone poking me to stop and be 'creative'.  Lately I have been missing that - just creating for it's own sake.  
  3. I love mandalas and this is an excuse to create different ones.
  4. The fact I finally stopped, made a mandala and had it ready to be posted on Monday, the same day they issued the challenge - a challenge I didn't know was going to happened.  And my 'annual report' homework assignment for a fictitious company was called "Mainly Mandalas". Have to pay attention to those kind of signs!
  5. Mandalas will be a nice break in November from constant writing.  A rest and change of pace for a few moments in time.

So expect a few more 'mandalas' over the next few weeks.  And feel free to join in.

100 Mandalas Challenge

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Typical Saturday

Fall has officially arrived.  Despite snow flurries a couple of weeks ago, Saturday was a 'fall' day.  It was overcast and windy and very cool.  Savvy would even say cold.  But the drizzle held off until after the Fall Fest for the kids downtown.

Being a real trooper, Savvy spent four hours face painting kids for the library at the Fall Fest/Big Read event.  I baled.  However, I did get a bit of planning done on my NaNoWriMo story and about 8 pages of outline/scenes created.  Now I need to come up with names!  And we won't talk about the HUGE stack of books I brought home on Victorian life to go along with the other HUGE book on Victorian life I already have.  Now I just need to be able to have time to read.

Later, as we were going to play catch-up on Dr. Who (missed last week), Lady K 'found' my phone and she and Aunt Savvy played with the camera/instagram.  I don't know who is sillier.  I, on the other hand, was in the kitchen preparing hot roast beef sandwiches for Savvy and I for dinner.  Lady K decided if it was off my plate, then it can't be too bad and ate quite a bit of my dinner.

So Sunday is finishing touches on one school project - an annual report and a check of what's new on the NaNoWriMo site, especially for ML's.  And a bit of blog reading and coffee-sipping.  Library duty from noon to five.  Monday will be a couple of web design classes to finish up homework on and a trip to the library to do the book drop since we are closed on Monday.  And reading, lots of reading!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Owning It!

It finally 'dawned' on me (ok, bad pun and the girls will give me hell about it), but owning "it", whatever "it" might be, really works.

I can still remember the feeling when I stood up in church (I went with a friend and the ceiling is still intact) and said "yes, I'm an artist" and the difference it made to how I approached and looked at my own art.  Not only that, but how I stepped up my encouragement of others and their art.

Today, while sipping coffee (waiting for Savvy's pants to finish washing so I could throw them in the dryer for her for an event later this morning), this post came up on my bloglovin feed.  Point one really caught and held my attention - Because That's What You Are - Own It!

I feel like I have always 'written', bits and pieces everywhere.  Last year I participated in NaNoWriMo and won.  The first time in the several years I have tried and succeeded.  My number of blog posts are up.  I have two really great ideas for this year's NaNoWriMo circling in my head and I can't wait to really start working on both of them.  And I feel it's coming together for me, primarily for that reason - I am owning it!

My friends and co-workers back in North Carolina were supportive in a 'I'm not really sure what you are doing, but as long as you don't land in jail I'm behind you' kind of way.  There was really no one that I found I could talk about writing with and not have glazed eyes in about 30 seconds.  I don't mean them any disrespect, they would give me the shirt off their backs, but they weren't a writing community.

I tried a couple of writing groups before the move to Montana.  One was more local boys getting together and talking about what they have written and not really giving any feedback on what anyone else was doing. Great community boosters though.  The other group was filled with the first 30 minutes of the latest illnesses and drama in their lives - mainly by just one person.  I had enough of my own illness and drama to include someone else's in my life.  So I stopped going because I didn't see any forward progress.

This past week proves to me I am in the right place now.  I was openly discussing a story idea with a complete stranger because a co-worker mentioned I was going to do NaNoWriMo this year.  No glazed eyes, but a real understanding and appreciation of what I was doing.  I can openly tell someone I have these 'ideas' and don't know which one to go with.  I can talk about being a 'planner' for NaNoWriMo (and writing in general - except for school papers) rather than a 'pantser'.  

The community I am in now fulfills points 2, 3 and 5 of the article.  I have understanding, support and they don't think I am crazy - at least about the writing part.  My followers on my blog have increased from 1 or 2 to about 2 dozen.  And if you don't think that's much, be the only one who reads what you write!  Two dozen is a HUGE amount.

So I am now owning my writing, talking about it, writing about it, just writing in general.  I have understanding and support from people who don't live under my roof.  I hope that with the people coming to NaNoWriMo this November I can form a permanent writing group, one that 'works' for me.  And doubly hopefully, this time next year I will have my cookbook and a novel out as e-books.

Off to write!

Friday, October 10, 2014


Besides the books I have beside my desk to read for school, I have this HUGE pile next to my bed for pleasure.  (Not that some of my school books aren't pleasurable.)

See, that pink bottle in the background is actually the biggest size of baby lotion they make.  So these are 'mighty big piles' of books.  Problem is, Savvy started reading the Merry Gentry series by Laurell K. Hamilton (yummy) and therefore, I was forced to reread the first two.  I am being strong and resisting the other three she has in her room right now.  But it's tough to resist reading about hunky men who are also faeries and magic and hunky men having sex.  Did I mention hunky men?

I have also been binge reading books on writing and creativity.  I am keeping our interlibrary loan lady very busy with my requests these days.  Some of them have been so-so, but more than one has been really interesting.  The best part is they are getting me really fired up for NaNoWriMo.

But the biggest issue is time.  Time to read and do all the other things I HAVE to do.  Therefore, I am reading this book to see if I can gain any hints on reading and then going back in time to the point where I started reading.  It just might work if I can find my sonic screwdriver.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Bit of Cleanup and Then a Lot of Homework

In my preparation for NaNoWriMo (and to simplify my life) I have recently been going through my copious amounts of email I receive every day and unsubscribing to TONS of it.  I think by my informal count, I have probably unsubscribed to about 38 different companies.

Doing so was a bit of a revelation.  Most of what I am unsubscribing to is stuff I originally subscribed to in order get to some kind of freebie and never looked at afterwards.  Some I subscribed to thinking I needed to 'follow' them in order to scoop up deals.  But then I realized, I don't shop.  I don't do much impulse buying online.  Now, as you can see, my Starbucks will remain.  I do want to know what deals they are running for extra points.  This is my indulgence and now that Savvy is here I have a co-conspirator at Starbucks.

But tons of 'junk mail' is gone and going.  Some of this stuff is HARD to get rid of once you push the unsubscribe button.  It's like they want to be sure they can't convince you to change your mind.  And considering I normally have about 100+ pieces of email daily, almost all junk, this will really streamline my viewing time.

Now off to create an annual report for a fictitious company.....

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Fun, Full Day

"Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today." 

                                                                                - Mark Twain

Yesterday was another big event for our library's Big Read programs.  We were painting the fence, a'la Tom Sawyer.  The day couldn't have been better.  Just warm enough (right Savvy, with that sunburn) and a nice crowd of kids and parents to participate.

Lady K honored us with her presence at the event and was enjoying running around in the park with Mommy Texter and "B".

Next weekend will be even a larger event as the town has it's kid's Fallfest going on.  Savvy and I will be helping out again.  Rather, Savvy helps by face painting, I fetch and carry and generally stay out of everyone's way after that.

Afterwards, Savvy and I took a stroll down Last Chance Gulch and did some window shopping.  I picked up a couple of items, as did she.  We then had an early dinner at Bert and Ernies.  I had heard good things about them, but had not stopped to eat there until now.  

Savvy had a pasta dish and started out her meal with French Onion Soup.  Despite my dislike of 'wet bread', it was really good.  Her pasta dish had pent pasta in a cream sauce with thinly sliced sausage.  It was really good.  I went with fish and chips, as no one in the house likes to eat fish except me.  The fish was nicely battered and really tasty.   My salad that I started with was served, without asking, with the dressing on the side.  I had a creamy parmesan dressing.  Frankly, the salad needed little dressing as far as I was concerned.  There were dried cranberries and candied pecans for a touch of sweetness and some shaved parmesan cheese.  We were too busy eating to take pictures of the main course!

What I really liked about Bert and Ernies was our waiter, Trevor.  Very personable, great sense of humor and very accommodating.  We were there about 30 minutes before the 5pm dinner service start.  And of course, to be difficult, both of us wanted something on the dinner menu.  He very kindly went and asked the chefs if we could order off the dinner menu a tad early and they kindly let us.  The meal was enough we both took some home with us to savor today.

Walking back to the car, we stopped at the Big Dipper, the pigs that we are.  Double scoops in a waffle cone - Mexican Chocolate (sorry, Texter, has cinnamon in it) and Birthday Cake.  Like a birthday party in a cone!  Half our cones are in the freezer for later consummation.  Wonder if ice cream is concerned a breakfast item?