Friday, August 29, 2008


My new favorite video. Feist is new to me, but after seeing her sing 1234 with muppets I had to go look up her other songs (and I figured out where I'd heard that song before) and I was completely sold on her. This video in particular is so totally me - a little quirky, girly and magical, and hello, flying toast! I love it.

We'll collect the moments one by one
I guess that's how the future's done.

ps ~ I have been drawing/painting a bunch, but I can't show you! It's for an upcoming job, and I'm super-excited about it, and all will be revealed at the proper time. (I love sounding mysterious.... )

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

please please me

A few days ago I wrote some haiku poetry. Here's that post, courtesy of Wordle, "a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide." They go on to say, "The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text." Hmmmm. Please, indeed.

♥ If you're coming here from Pioneer Woman, hi there! She so totally rocks.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The truth about the Tooth Fairy

...according to my children. I doodled this and took notes while the kids were expounding upon their theories, which went something like this:

When you eat a tomato, the fairy takes your tooth and puts it in the tomato to keep it healthy. Then they pass it on.

There is also a lamb in the tomato (who is also a fairy). The tooth fairy brings the teeth to the lamb. It's the lamb fairy that makes you healthy.

(I asked how they get out, do you eat the fairies when you eat the tomato?)

The fairy cuts a little hole, then it gets out with the lamb and then they close the hole. Then they go to another house, where someone else has a loose tooth. It takes a very short time flying.

Imagine tons of giggling going on, and you've just about got the picture. I hope they never lose that sense of wonder and creativity.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Haikus composed upon being awoken (again) by my loud children

Why are you so loud?
Wish I had a volume knob.
My ears are bleeding.

Please please please please please
Please please please please please please please
Please please please shut up.

I never realized
Until you yelled together
How thin these walls are.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

sew, baby, sew!

Test-driving the new machine.

I got an awesome birthday present - a new sewing machine! It's a pretty simple machine, but it's going to be able to do the things my old one doesn't - namely, it works. I have a beautiful old incredibly heavy, built-into-a-cabinet machine that belonged to my Grandma, a professional seamstress. When she passed away, it was the only thing I asked if I could have. I just love the idea of placing my hands where my Grandma's were, and creating something new like she did. Unfortunately, over time, either my ineptitude or just time has made it harder (and incredibly frustrating) to use. It's in real need of a tuneup, so in the meantime, I have the much simpler little workhorse to feed my sewing needs. And in time, Grandma's will be restored to its former glory, and hopefully I'll be so much of a better seamstress that I'll know how to use the myriad of attachments that it has!

I have so many projects that I've either had bookmarked or socked away (or worse - tried to do by hand) that now I just can't wait to get to. Like...

Halloween costumes! The kids want to be these guys this year, and I am just itching to get to it.

I'm starting to scout around for fur (maybe shaggy blankets will do in a pinch?) While this trio gives it a good shot, I think have a better way in mind. I want to make the Snowth heads as hoodies, so I can place the horns and the eyes in the right place, and then the kids can peek out the mouth holes. As for Mahna Mahna himself, the whole hoodie can be orange fur, and Petey (or Angela, currently the jury is out on who gets to be the leader) can wear round sunglasses with a nose attached. (Yes, we have given this a lot of thought.) Instead of doing trick or treat, they can say "Mahna mahna!" when someone answers the door.

Remember these? Waaaaay back in the day, I wanted to make each kid a doll to dress up that looked like them. We wound up getting t-shirts that we dyed in tea and they're a lovely natural color, I got embroidery thread that matches their eyes - but the machine didn't work, so I never made a pattern or anything. I am SO looking forward to making this trio (and their clothes!) This pattern looks easy enough to start with.

And then there's...

Angry Chicken's 5-Minute Skirt.

♥ How fun is this Bird Mobile ?

I like my skirts fast and cheap.

♥ Some wrap dress patterns here.

♥ One more link: photos of the DC trip are here. Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Life's like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.

Me, Kermit, and Jim at the Henson Memorial Garden on Wednesday at the University of Maryland, following a trip to Jim Henson's Fantastic World at the Smithsonian. Naturally, I'm wearing a green dress.

Today's my birthday, and what I have learned about this year is that I have so, SO much more learning to do. And dreaming. And creating. And you know what? I'm really looking forward to it.

Here's to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

nice tomatoes

We are so totally loving the produce from our garden, scanty though it is. I'm rejoicing in every ripe tomato. (This one fell off when we were painting the side of the house.) I refuse to eat tomatoes in winter, because that's NOT a tomato.

The other morning I took a work break to grab a bowl of granola while the kids were eating breakfast, and I was singing the song that had been playing on the Beatles station, "Three Cool Cats*." As I was adding the strawberries, I sang,

Well up popped that first cool cat,
He said: "Man look at that.
Man, do you see what I see?
Well I want that middle chick."
"I want that little chick."
"Hey man, save once chick for me!"

And so on, about the three cool cats and the three cool chicks. So of course, the kids want to know why cats and chickens are eating potato chips.

"No," Paul explains, "It's slang. The cool cats are three guys and they're calling the three girls chicks, but you shouldn't do that, it's not that nice."

"I don't know," I said. "There are worse things to be called, like a tomato. Unless someone calls you and a friend a pair of gorgeous tomatoes, that would probably be okay. And in England back in the day if someone liked a girl, they would say they fancied that bird."

The kids by this time are completely confused, because honestly, they could picture actual cats and chicks walking down the street eating potato chips, that would be just fine with them, but now we've muddied it all up with people being called animal and vegetable names. They shrug it off and go back to their granola, because Mama dancing into the room singing, getting something, and dancing out is a regular occurrence and really not a reason to stop chewing. I'm just waiting to see the pictures they're going to draw based on this.

*George sings lead, and Pete Best, who got canned on my birthday, drums. I have a cassette from high school fished out of the discount bin at Sears that honest to God, says "The Silver Beatles" on it, and until the Anthology stuff came out, nobody else I met had any idea what I was talking about. As best I can figure out, it's a selection of songs from the New Year's Decca recordings. I like it better than the versions on the Anthology set which seem too subdued. My other fave would have to be their cheeky yet delightfully smarmy rendition of "Bésame Mucho" (cha-cha-boom!)

Friday, August 08, 2008

On the street

Sesame Street season 39 kicks off August 11! Check out the highlights reel from the press kit and meet the first Indian cast member, Leela.

More Muppety goodness to tide you over till Monday:

All the brand new clips that have been circulating on YouTube gathered in one place (I agree with my brother: the Swedish Chef and Beaker doing Carmen is the best one)

Other Henson projects in the works: Sid the Science Kid and (cannot wait for this) Where the Wild Things Are.

And my Muppet news sources and references (be prepared to lose a few hours) Muppet Central
Muppet News Flash
Muppet Wiki (best. logo. ever.)


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

on paint and learning

Many times I share a new painting because I love it, but this time it's more that I'm posting a painting that was frustrating but taught me a lot. (Which of course, I will share.)

Miss A, reading, on a blanket, in our backyard.

Most frustrating thing: after looking back at the lemon painting I had done with watercolour pencils, I decided that they were just what I needed to create a great texture for the line of arborvitae in the background. I spent ages blending colors, putting in shadows, blah blah blah, only to start adding water and realize that I was nowhere near the effect I wanted, and it was going to take another week of meticulous pencil blending. I said phooey to that, grabbed the paints, and started splashing them around. I was done with the trees in one night. Not only were the watercolour pencils a waste of time, but why did I start with the background and not with Angela, the focus of the whole thing? I was so in love with the idea of the prickly branch effect that I went straight to it. Next time, Angela first. Background later.

With my copy of The Watercolor Bible in hand, I decided to really try to apply the examples rather than just looking at the pictures. I read
"Remember to paint only as much detail as is needed to tell the viewer what an object is. Too much information is difficult to paint and makes it hard for the viewer to know what you intend as the focal point of the painting."
This is so different from the way I usually paint (anal-retentive amounts of detail) that I literally sat for a minute with the book in my hand, staring at the painting and wanting to throw the whole thing out.

But clearly, I didn't. One detail I do really like is the book in Angela's hand - there's no pencil work there, all edges are created from the edges of two colors meeting. Hand on leg, arm behind - edges of color to define them, and no leaning on an outline to separate them.

I sort of have a technique I use for hair, and it works for me. But I decided to go with the book's sample, and do washes instead. I didn't do the exercise, or use the colors they listed, just went with the general feel. Angela is in bright sunlight - you can't even see the difference between her skin and her dress at some points - and her black hair has to show it. Parts are black, parts are brown, parts are white, and parts are sort of some non-descript-un-color. I kept everything soft and built up the layers of color from lightest to darkest, adding touches of black at the end. I also added a wet brush and lifted color out in spots. And that sweet face! I went in only around the edge of the face with a sharp pencil just to provide extra definition. Had I been a better planner, I would have had that same definition of color I had around the book.

The grass was, at one point, painful. If I was really going to do it right, I should have masked some blades out. But then again, that might have been the detail-overload way. At one point, I could see myself grabbing the watercolour pencils again and making billions and billions of blades of grass.... I also was doing my media fast, remember? I usually work with the TV on in the background (I don't face it, but it's on as background noise); instead, I was so frustrated by the quiet on the first night that I literally couldn't work. I wound up putting on iTunes, standing up, and singing while I flung paint around for the grass - I had to work in a completely different way to break through my old habits. I do really like how the grass came out, though one teeny-tiny bit of masking fluid in retrospect wouldn't have been unwelcome. I like how it came out a little Brian-Wildsmith-y.

The whole painting is more in the feeling of this one - more loose, more fluffy, more flowy. I have been painting in watercolour for over 20 years. And I have so much, much more to learn about how to paint.

And how fantastic is that?