Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Illustration Friday: The Zoo

Ths week's topic for Illustration Friday is "The Zoo". It was hard to think outside the box on this one. I'm not a real fan of zoo's personally, so I took another angle. I went searching for words that contain the word zoo, and built an illustration around that. Here you have Giant Gertie and her Giant KaZOO, flying thru town with her giant baZOOms, causing all of the townfolk to cry out "GadZOOks!" The End.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Weeklies#7: The Easy Bake Effect

Here is a fun still life I did awhile back. My friend Jen and i used to have Art Saturdays where we'd sit and do still life drawing with household objects, while drinking tea and listening to oldies on the radio. I like the contrast of the tools with the vintage bustier from my grandma.

Best food I ate
Thanksgiving food of course! We had dinner with good friends, potluck style. We were in charge of pie and a green bean dish. I got all inspired by Martha and made her Spiced Apple Pie. It was sooo good and worth wading through her sometimes wordy directions. I love the way the pie crust rounds look like shingles for some kind of elf house. Do you like this animated photo? I'm calling it The Easy Bake effect..kind of like an online Easy Bake Oven. We decided to be 100% Martha and also make her Green Bean Casserole. Also very good, but I have to say I did miss the crispy crunch of the typical French's Fried Onion topping.

Thing I made
The only thing I made this past week was the crazy Martha pie and our bed.

Best thing I saw on the web
This website dedicated to the one and only Bob Ross.

Can't live without
My sunglasses..they were prescription and I lost them this week, the sunniest week we've had all month!

Here are a few new tunes. The song by Pinback starts out sounding kind of Goth, but then goes a little Campfire when the band sings in rounds. I really like Viva Voce, especially the beginning of this song. "Ode to LRC" is rockin' and makes me love Band of Horses even more. Some of the lyrics to "Masterfade" are "and when you look up at the sky / all you see are zeros / all you see are zeros and ones". I know enough to know that they are singing about binary, something my hubby totally gets, and I pretend to. Also this song has kick-butt whistling with vibrato which I love to do (just ask ant of my former co-workers who put up with a lot of my whistling of show tunes in this style).

Feeling happy about
Installing this Bush Countdown Widget on my computer. Hurry up January '09!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Photo Friday: Two

I'm trying something new here. I found Photo Friday, akin to Illustration Friday in that each week a word or theme is posted and you either shoot a photo for that theme or dig through your archives to find one that fits. I'm by no means an expert photographer, but it is something that I'm interested in getting better at or at least playing around with.

I was just looking through some photos from a trip to Europe a few years ago. This is the way I'm traveling lately, looking back at old photos of my vacations pre-baby. I'm particularly fond of my pictures from this trip. I found these two chairs sitting in a corner of an old church in the south of France. Hubby and I were walking through a sleepy village with my Dutch family after a nice lunch and we came across this church and ducked inside. I love all of the textures and muted hues in those old villages.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Illustration Friday: Superstition

It was really fun to research superstitions for this week's Illustration Friday topic, Superstition. I wanted to illustrate something that went beyond the usual black cats and walking under ladders. I found this: "It is good luck to cut your hair in a storm". The image that popped into my head was of a storm actually doing the cutting of a lady's long locks. I think I've been watching too many episodes of Storm Chasers!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Weeklies#6: Stuck on you

Ok people. I've been officially avoiding my blog this week. Why? I really don't feel like I have anything to write about, and the weeklies categories that I set up for myself just aren't working for me this week. I've got nothin, unless you want to read my musings on the greatness of black yoga pants (you can dress them up! you can dress them down!). See? Not so exciting.

I do this to myself. I forget that I'm like The Mayor of this here bloggy town and I can switch it up whenever I want! Woo-hoo! I'm an expert at burdening myself with sky high expectations and all this does is buy me a one way ticket to "Procrastination Valley" (to quote my pal Uncle B). Isn't that brillant? Procrastination Valley! Such a great metaphor. Because I don't want this to turn into a blog about stretchy clothing, I turned to the internents and asked, "Internets what should I write about?. I found a few funny random writing prompt generators. These are neat-o because they take the pressure out of thinking about what the heck to write about and some of the topics are good jumping off points. The prompt I picked has to do with collecting. It asks: Describe in as much detail as possible something you collected as a child. Here goes...

Meredith, the Grande Dame of our local Hallmark was also a Grande Grump. Once, when I was about 3 she harshly reprimanded me for touching a snake head suspended in a glass ball (it was the 70s people, Hallmark rolled like that back then)sitting next to the register. Later, during that same shopping trip I wandered away from my grandma and found Meredith quietly re-stocking birthday cards in the next aisle. Her polyester rump was right about eye level and I snuck up, grabbed her elastic waist band and pulled down her pants with all my 3 year old might, revealing her huge waist high undies. I can still see the look of shock on her pinched up grumpy face. I was so pleased with myself that I just squealed and ran off. Sweet revenge! Needless to say Meredith and I didn't get off to a great start.

Like most kids of my generation I was wild about stickers. In my small town, the Meredith's Hallmark store was the sticker center-of-the universe. You had to wade through a maze of highly scented candles, mirrored poem-plaques, doilies, grandma's brag books and pressed flower bookmarks to reach it, but at the back of the store there was an entire wall of sticker-roll love displayed on on long dowels that reached from floor to ceiling. For most of the girls in my 5th grade class it was the piece de resistance of the mall. For us, the only thing that came even close was the promise of free Melt Away Mint samples from the Hickory Farms next door. A pair of scissors hung from a piece of ribbon next to the sticker wall, and a hand-made sign proclaimed that that you couldn't touch the scissors, or cut the stickers yourself unless you were an adult. Somewhere between the age of 3 and 10 I lost all my nerve, and started following the rules. This rule made for a big problem if you were hanging out with your friends at the mall. It meant you had to get Grumpy Meredith to help you.

For me the beauty of sticker collecting wasn't just choosing which to get (the dress-up bears, metallic unicorns, scratch-n-stiff pizza or the fuzzy dogs?) with my 50 cents, it was the chase, the thrill of the hunt. It went something like this. After your decision was made, and you counted and double counted your change, you had to gather your courage to stand in line to ask old Meredith to cut your stickers for you. If there were people behind you she always made you step to the side and wait it out till she rung up the last "real customer". You'd stand there shifting your weight from foot to foot repeating in your head the list of stickers you'd so carefully picked out, "One unicorn, two dress up bears, and one scratch and sniff pizza..or wait, was it two?". The more Meredith cheerfully stalled with her grown-up customers: offering free gold crown seals for people's cards, free gift wrapping, or making idle chit chat, the harder it was to remember your list. It was a sticker stakeout of sorts. I'm sure she thought we'd just give up. When the last person had paid for their breakable loot, and not-so-merry Meredith had painstakingly wrapped it up, she'd turn to you with a sigh and say, "Now what is it that you wanted?". Duh, lady.

You'd find yourself right on her heels as she trudged towards the back of the store. Along the way she'd be sure to stop 8 million times to tuck stray cards back into place, or re-adjust the Precious Moments display. My point is, it took for-friggin-ever. Finally, at the Great Wall of Stickers, she'd stand before you, hands on hips and ask which stickers you wanted. You'd spit out your list in one breathless run-on sentence because you'd held it in so long. Then there was usually an eye roll followed by the lecture about how you'd better be SURE, and you better have enough money because ALL STICKER SALES WERE FINAL. And then in one dramatic swoop she'd pick up the forbidden scissors and snip,snip,snip it was over.

As the years went by, the sticker wall at Meredith's slowly started to get smaller and smaller until finally it was gone. A few years ago my hubby and I took my grandma there to help her get some holiday stickers (after stopping at Hickory Farms where grandma bought us each a bag of Melt Aways), and the store was vastly changed. No more Meredith, and the few stickers they did have were all packaged up, no scissors required.

There you have it, I wrote my way down Memory Lane and right on out of Procrastination Valley! If any of you have your own collecting related story to share I'd love to hear what you collected as a kid and what you collect now, in my comments!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Illustration Friday: Scale

Here is a sad tale about scale. There is a cute little brick house across the street from the post office in my town. Over the years I've admired its petite stature, symmetrical picture windows and trim lawn. This summer I drove past it and was horrified that two McMansions now flanked its sides. The sweet little house sits dwarfed by two architectual bullies that sprang up in less than two weeks flat. Currently the little house is up for sale. I keep driving by hoping that someone will buy it and keep it as is, taking a stand against the towering vinyl-clad duo. But so far, there are no takers.

copyright the flying pencil 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Illustration Friday: Hats

Last weekend I returned to the women's spa with J, feeling much better than last time! At the front desk we were given a neatly folded packet that contained a robe, two towels and these funny fabric hats, that were sort of like shower caps.

The only thing you get to wear in the spa is your Birthday Suit topped with one of these caps. That's right, I repeat're bare nekkid, and so is everybody else. I was a little apprehensive at four months postpartum as my Birthday Suit is still a little, well...baggy.

But as I melted into a bubbling 97 degree pool and looked around I was struck by how these hats served as an equalizer. At the spa I saw every size, shape, age and color of woman imaginable, but somehow wearing these funny little hats we were all visually kind of the same. It was a wonderful afternoon.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Weeklies: #5 Zombie Days

This Halloween I was a zombie, a new mom zombie to be exact. The costume wasn't too hard, I already had bags under my eyes, frazzled hair, drool stained clothes, and a glassy stare. I was up half of All Hallows Eve in my "costume" watching recorded episodes of Storm Chasers whlie baby slept on me (the only place she will sleep lately) and wishing baby and I would be swept away Dorothy-style into a lovely tornado of peaceful sleep. Nevertheless, baby's sleep strike has continued into this last week, which meant we aren't sleeping much either...for nearly three weeks now. This also means my blog is suffering, and I miss it.

Handmade Object
I am in big time love with these Cotton Monsters from Jennifer Strunge. The teeth!

I've also missed the last few Illustration Fridays. So sad! A few weeks ago the topic was "grow". I couldn't help but think of my rather rapid growth in junior high. Here is a drawing of me and my date for my 9th grade dance, Yep, that is the actual background in the photo..yay Photoshop! In 9th grade most the boys were at least a head shorter than me, and drew their fashion inspiration from Maimi Vice. But that didn't stop me from struttin my stuff in a cobalt blue Jessica McClintock dress and size 10 Dyeables to match.

Best food I ate
I did a lot of dining out in the past week. Food always tastes better in the company of your friends! Pizza and Gelato with K, a delicious almond croissant with A, an amazing brownie dessert called Peppermint Twist shared with AM, Black forest cake with B ..cherries and chocolate in a cake? Oh yes!

Thing I made

After the week long smorgasbord, lack of sleep and general zombie-ness, my tummy finally gave out last weekend at the beginning of a much anticipated trip to a women's spa with my pal J. Sadly all I saw of the lovely spa was their ladies room. So for dinner we made waffles, pretty much the only food that ever sounds good to me when my tummy is not so happy.

Best thing I saw on the web
Here is a cool website for any of you with little kids on your Christmas list. It is a list of "safer" toy options (no plastic, no batteries, etc). Safety aside I thought this was a great compilation of some really cool stuff, and led me to some websites I'd never seen before. I'd like to cuddle up with this adorable Organic Dutch Anteater.

Can't live without
Tums and my all time favorite cure for The Green Apple Quickstep, carob powder and applesauce.

Each time I was in the car this week (prime radio listening time) sweet baby would have a meltdown, and the only song that would calm her down was me singing Twnkle Twinkle Little Star...over and over and over again. Believe me I tried other songs but they didn't have nearly the same effect. Luckily when I made a stop to buy a sandwhich from my favorite deli they were playing some cool music with ghoulish themes.

So first, I give to you two nifty ghost songs.
Next, two songs to make me feel a little better about our lame Halloween in the trick or treat department. Something was up in my town on Halloween night, there were no trick or treaters this year. I think we had about 7 kids all together. As the night wore on I tried to pawn off our candy kaboodle on the few kids we had. To this they replied with polite "no thank you"s and "just one piece please"..who the heck are these kids? Maybe if hubby, baby and I would have busted out a synthesizer and performed "Sugar" on our front porch we could have attracted more of a crowd. Instead we sat inside eating mini Twix bars and singing ala The White Stripes "I'm thinkin' about my doorbell / when ya gonna ring it? / when ya gonna ring it?"

(The player has been moved to the most recent Weeklies installment)

Feeling happy about

Crisp fall days, and my bed when I get to sleep in it.

Making me laugh
So...I'm going to admit to somethng wacky. Once per week I record The Lawerence Welk Show. As kids my cousin and I would be "forced" to watch this program whenever we visited my grandparents. I would be so moved by the music and dancing that on commercial breaks my cuz and I would raid our grandparents closet for Welk-inspired attire and waltz though the living room (always blocking the tv) doing our best Bobby and Sissy impersonation and usually collapsing in a heap of laughter. Most nights we'd be dismissed to go play in another room while the grown-ups finished watching the show. It was a brilliant exit strategy that I still believe made our parents a little envious.

As an adult there is something so cheesy-good about that show that I need a fix every once in a while. It is something about the technicolor costumes, clashing sets, the huge "Geritol" sign, and the ever-chipper band that keeps me coming back. I also love it when they show the audience dancing. I love to see what people wore, and it always cracks me up how they are all packed together in what seems to be the tiniest dance space known to man, resulting in an awesome polyester mosh pit.

This past week I caught an episode where two worlds collided. Lawerence Welk doing The Beatles "Hey Jude". It is so wrong that there is something kind of intriguing about it. So I offer you the Welk version, and to cleanse your palate the Beatles version (which includes a wonderfully amusing crowd scene all its own).