Friday, August 30, 2013

Creative Outlet

August has been a productive month in the yard and in making over my studio… but that’s been the limit of my creative endeavors.  But since I didn’t show my ICAD pieces from last month, I’ll do that now. 
Week 5:
Row 1 –
1.  A quick aura knot I sketched.  The colors are inspired by Little Hoss’ 3rd birthday party – John Deere tractors!
2.  The theme was ‘your name in black’ but I was feeling rebellious.  It also incorporated the themes “red, white, & blue” and “stripes”. 
3.  It was a bit rainy for a while.  That gauge finally topped out at a bit over 3 inches!
Row 2:
1.  Memories of a trip to the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis.  Had a fun morning there with the kids.
2.  Monochromatic arches. 
Row 3:
1. A sketch of my first camera given to me by my great-grandma.
2.  Calendar prompt.  Also for “summertime”.
Week 6:
Row 1 –
1.  The prompt was “nail polish”… so that’s what I used!  (The shades that look ‘black’ are actually deep red or medium purple). 
2.  Psychedelic
3.  Notes from Sunday School class and my doodles.
Row 2 –
1.  For the ‘rainbow’ prompt.
2.  “Chess board” sketch
Row 3 –
1.  This one was for several prompts – “Fish”, “use a word”, and “red & yellow”.
2.  Photo card – this is ‘Cobalt’, the male blue bird who lives in my yard.  He lets everyone know that is HIS birdbath!
Week 7:
Row 1 –
1.  Trying a technique – I hammered a geranium flower to make an image.
2.  Another for “summertime”.
Row 2 –
1.  For the prompt “graffiti” – a photo I took.
2.  Happy Birthday to me!  LOL
Row 3 –
1.  One of Little Bird’s favorite animals!
2.  “Orange”
3.  For the prompt – “The last 5 books you read” (#1)
Week 8:
1.  A doodle while I was waiting on something.
2.  Doodled notes from Sunday School class.
3.  For “logo” I used the bag from my birthday present from my sister. 
I didn’t finish the ‘Index Card a Day’ challenge as that’s when it started getting busy around here.  But it was so much fun that I think I’m going to start up again in September.
… but perhaps without the ‘daily’ pressure…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Little Bird Is Four!

Where have the years gone?!  Little Bird turned 4 last week. 
She woke up to a room full of balloons!  I think Little Hoss liked that as much as she did!
At her special breakfast of crepes she got a present she has wanted for a long time… baby Simba (who, for some reason, she calls a ‘cheetah’).
We started her birthday week celebration with a day out in St. Louis.  Sis and I took her wherever she wanted to go.  We started off with a stop at JoAnn’s to pick up some beading supplies to make necklaces, then next door to Toys R Us.  
Next stop…The Magic House!  This place is a kid’s dream – tons of hands-on activities for them to do.  There’s so much there I’ll blog about it a little later.  It’s worth a day trip to go!
Among many, many other things there’s a little fishing pond where you can ‘hook’ a fish with a magnetic fishing pole.  Little Bird must have thought she was fly fishing and made her mama duck!
We worked up an appetite even tho we barely made a dent in the activities.  Little Bird wanted to lunch at “Stir Crazy” where we had stir fry from ingredient we selected off the ‘market bar’.  She is pretty good with her ‘training wheels’ chopsticks.  
There were also stops at a bead shop (more necklace supplies) and some fresh ice cream.
That night was the family birthday meal that finished with a birthday cake.  They both love having a cake with their photo on it!  Green is Little Bird’s favorite color…the more the better!
Grandma lit the candles as she impatiently waited to blow them out.
Then it was the exciting present time!  The pillow for her bed reads “You Are My Sunshine”…one of her favorite songs. 
The following Saturday we had her party.  The kids pick a theme for their party.  This year Little Bird wanted “Bubble Guppies” (a mermaid-ish cartoon they watch).  At this young age it is a family get-together instead of a party with other children.  
So there is always a buffet full of good food!  Isn’t the balloon ‘coral reef’ cute?
ittle Bird’s guest enjoying visiting.
Time to open more cards and presents!
A new backpack for pre-school.
Reading a card with Daddy.
Uncle Mike lends a hand in opening the grand finale…a Barbie doll house (and horse stable! LOL). 
Shhhhh… don’t tell Little Bird but she didn’t get all 50+ pieces!!  We’re not totally nuts!  ;-) 
I wish Sis had gotten some photos of Big J and I putting it together after the kids went down for their naps.  Worst instructions I’d ever seen… just a series of blurry black and white photos.  We ended up tossing them and looking at the box. 
What a hoot this doll house is!  It has lights and sound effects… including a flushing toilet! 
Big J and Little Bird make the birthday cupcakes.  He baked, she sprinkled.
She’s a very good sprinkler!
Happy Birthday to you!
I’m FOUR!! 
With Grandpa, Grandma, and Little Hoss.
And with her Daddy, Mommy, and Hoss.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Artful Readers Club: “Take Flight”

“Take Flight” by Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan
For this very busy month, I selected a book that was quick reading, yet meaningful to me.  “Take Flight” is a Christian devotional book based off of the “Sisterchick series”.  Since I enjoyed the series very much (each book features different set of two friends as they travel to unique places around the world) I figured this would be a book I’d enjoy.
It wasn’t quite what I was expecting (nothing relating to traveling except quotes from the Sisterchick books) but it was a good devotion book.  Thoughtful insights and discussion questions make it a good read for a group. 
For my art piece I used a photo I took at Adak, Alaska.  There are so many bald eagles flying around it is just amazing.  This photo was taken from an upper deck of the ship Himself works on.  I was looking down at the eagle as it flew along.  The Bible verse was added using Picasa.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Green" Light Special

We’ve decided it is time for us to embrace a more ‘green’ lifestyle – both for the economical reasons and for the ecological reasons too.
Light bulbs are an example where both reasons come into play.  We well realized that incandescent and halogen bulbs are not a good choice except for the fact they are convenient.  Screw it in and flip the switch for instant bright light.  Expensive, hot bright light.
We decided it was time for a change.  But to what?  The choices are between CFL (compact fluorescent lights) and LED (light emitting diodes).  Time for a bit of research so to make the best choice as there are pros and cons to both.
CFL light bulbs PRO:  they are cool burning light, they last longer than incandescent, they are easy to find and relatively inexpensive to purchase, they are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescent use 50 - 80% less energy than incandescent.  
CFL CON:  they are sensitive to frequent on/off cycling. Their rated lifetimes of 10,000 hours are reduced in applications where the light is switched on and off very often (like a closet), they need to be on at least 15 minutes, they take longer than other lights to become fully lit, and you have to buy special CFL to use on a dimmer switch, they might not fit into lamps with a small/shallow area for a bulb. 
And the biggest con… All Fluorescent Lamps and Tubes Should Be Recycled or Disposed as Hazardous Waste due to their mercury content.  That means you do NOT throw them in your household trash.  Lowes, Home Depot, and IKEA accept CFL bulbs for recycling…but it varies store by store if they will accept the long tubes. 
And if you break one remember that there is mercury in compact fluorescent bulbs: 
- open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more (mercury can be breathed in) 
-put on gloves to clean up (mercury can be absorbed thru the skin)
- use a wet rag to clean it up and put all of the pieces, and the rag, into a plastic bag
- place all materials in a second sealed plastic bag 
Another thing, those big florescent tubes (T12) are no longer being made.  “This July, U.S. lighting manufacturers will cease production of many T12 lamps in order to comply with Department of Energy (DOE) regulations. First announced in 2010, the DOE planned to phase out magnetic ballasts used in T12 lamps in favor of more energy-efficient T8 and T5 lamps.”  
That means those of us with florescent tube lights in our homes, basements, shops, and garages will soon have to buy all new light fixtures and make repairs to our ceilings from those replacements.  The smaller T8 and T5 bulbs do not fit in the T12 fixtures.
The other choice in efficient lighting is LED bulbs.  I’m still not totally clear on how they work but I do know that there is nothing ‘burning’ – filament or gases as in the incandescent and CFL.  So they don’t really ‘burn out’ or fail.  What happens to them is that they get dimmer over time. 
LED light PRO: they last up to 10 times as long as compact fluorescents, they are very durable, cool to use so the room does not heat up with use, no mercury, they use only 2-17 watts of electricity (1/3rd to 1/30th of Incandescent or CFL).  Because of their extremely long life, they are excellent choices for areas that are hard to replace bulbs. 
LED light CON:  they cost $24 to about $36 per bulb (!!!!).  One report I read states there is development of a cheaper LED that in a few years should bring them down to roughly the cost of a CFL bulb.  Also, they are very directional in their light and aren’t a good fit for general lighting (like a table lamp). 
I made our first change because of our can lighting.  I really worried about the heat build-up and the possibility of an attic fire.  Because we have a LOT of can lights I went with the CFL spot lights.  It would have cost $500 plus to replace all of them.  
My next changes were in a couple of light fixtures.  They were made for halogen lights but were way too hot; one actually made the fixture ‘crackle’ and the other made Himself’s small office hot.  Any time I get a good coupon or find a sale, I snatch up bulbs to replace (still need 2 more for his office).  
I’ve tried putting CFL bulbs into most of my lamps, but have several that the bulbs are just too large to fit within the space allowed.  And Himself doesn’t want CFL in his personal lamps because he doesn’t like the ‘warm up’ time.  When he wants light, he wants it now.  
To handle the issue of disposal of the florescent bulbs, I’ve put a special collection area in my recycling center to handle them.  I hope to soon have all the light bulbs in my home switched over to green light.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Living Deliberately

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."   ~Henry Thoreau 
As I said in my birthday post, the last year was very introspective for me.  While I always appreciated Thoreau’s quote, this year it resonated to me. 
To live deliberately…  To live appreciating every moment that comes your way. 
It’s not about schedules and lists and routines, tho those may indeed be a tool to live more deliberately.  It’s more “We do what we have to do in order to do what we want to do.” (The Great Debaters).   The question is tho… do we really know what it is we want to do?  And do we know how to get there?  Life is made of choices and you can’t choose the right ones until you know what you want.
This is the driving force behind my post a few days ago about challenging myself.  Those challenges are some of the tools I am going to use to bring myself to where I want to be.  Wasting no opportunities and being prepared to receive what comes my way.
What do you think about living deliberately?  Is it something you'd like or does it seem too far a reach?  Or perhaps you like to 'fly by the seat of your pants'? 
I'd love to hear your take on it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Wee Break in a Busy Month

It’s been crazy busy out here at The Sticks for the last week… and it will be staying that way up to the end of the month! 
I’ve been putting overtime in on my studio makeover… which has led to a clean-up of the garage.  Himself will be home soon, so the upstairs has to get whipped into shape.  Yard work is going in dibs and dabs since it seems to be either raining or super hot & humid.  I don’t work in either one!  And I’ve had a few fun classes too!
Coming back from one of those classes I decided to have a bit of fun and take the ferry from Indian Mounds across the Cumberland River to Cumberland City.
Seventy-five cents is certainly a bargain for a wee adventure.  And I did drag coming off.
Here it comes!
All aboard!
That’s the Cumberland City steam plant in the background.  You can see those towers for miles.  The paratroopers at Ft. Campbell use them as a landmark during jumps.
  Love the ‘no loafing’!  Wonder if that’s aimed at passengers or the kid who does the loading?
Bye-bye Cumberland City.  It was fun!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

To Kindle or Not To Kindle... That Is The Question!

I am considering purchasing my first e-book, and I'm looking at the below Kindle.  Good choice?  I want inexpensive yet functions well.  I know zero about them.  Are they really worth the money?
So I'm asking for everyone's help.  Looking to spend $100 or less, what would you recommend and why? 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Carrot Soup with Croutons and Basil Oil

I would like to share this delicious soup.  It was one of the recipe in a class at Whole Foods. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Pizza Party!

I’m recently back from a visit with the babies.  This time we didn’t go out much but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have a lot of fun.  I was treated to a ‘pizza party’!
Little Bird got a fun pizza toy on her ‘Daddy Date’.  The three different toppings Velcro to the top of the pizza and the sides also have Velcro to hold them together. 
The little ones would ask what we wanted on our pizza, and then head over to the pizzeria to make it up.
Little Hoss was quite serious with his chef duties!
It had to be just right.
Time to cut and serve it up!
First a slice for Grandma…
…then one for Aunt Teri!
Little Bird decided that every party needed some music.
“Let’s see…what should I play?”
“You are my sunshine …”
And indeed they are.