Saturday, June 30, 2012

Storytelling Sunday: Euro 2004

Tonight Spain takes on Italy in the final game of Euro 2012.  We will be in Barcelona, Spain and expect it to be a wild time! But, today, in the spirit of nostalgia, let me take you back to an earlier tournament.  In 2004, my family and I spent a month in Ireland and London, and we watched almost every game of  the European Championship. Our 15 year old Goddaughter, Maddie, was traveling with us as well.  2004 was a breakout year for Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo (front row, far right in the team picture above), who was an extremely attractive young man:
I emphasize young because, at 19, he was clearly too young for me (in my early 40's) to be fantasizing about. . .  . a fact that I emphasized repeatedly.  "But he's too young for me," I whined over and over again while we watched the games.  Until one day Maddie had enough.  Exasperated, she exclaimed loudly, "Yes, but he's not too young for ME!"
This story is presented as part of Sian's Storytelling Sunday Year 2: Photo(s) and (just a few) Words.  For more wonderful stories or to play along, check out this link. Photos sourced from the internet. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Organisation Blog Hop & July Stamp Give Away

Welcome to my blog! 
This weekend I'm participating in Jennifer's Organisation Celebration Blog Hop.  You may have come here from Louise's blog. If not, go check out Jennifer's post (here) to start your way 'round the Hop. As you go around the blog hop, be sure to pick up the special letter featured at each blog.  Then, you can put them together and form a phrase to win a terrific prize.  You can find my letter at the end of this post.  The theme of the blog hop is organization!
My favorite tip for organization is to "plan ahead." I especially like to do this for Christmas.  In the U.S., many craft stores have "Christmas in July" sales, where Christmas merchandise goes on sale. I often like to make a bunch of Christmas cards in July (and prepare the pieces for more), so that they'll be ready by the time December rolls around.  In order to help you get organized and plan ahead, I'm giving away four sets of new or gently used Christmas stamps.  If you want a chance to win any (or all) of them, just leave me a comment letting me know which of the sets you want (feel free to enter the random give away for more than one set).  
Set #1: Close to My Heart Polar Bears (much loved but gently used)
Set #2 Snowy (Crestwood "Winter Phases" and Inkadinado Snowman) gently used
Set #3:  Reindeer Moon (All Night Media reindeer and unknown unmounted; gently used):
Set #4: Ornament and Tags (all brand new; Club Scrap ornament; others by Stampin Up):
Be sure to leave me some way to contact you.  I'll choose a random winner on July 2! ENTRIES NOW CLOSED; WINNER TO BE POSTED TOMORROW (JULY 3)
Now, to continue along the Hop, go to Kirsty's blog, by clicking here. And, oh, be sure to bring this letter with you: "I" .  Collect all the letters for a chance to win this fabulous prize package:
Once you've got all the letters and reached the end of the hop, you can email Jennifer the phrase you've collected. All entries must be received by Monday the 2nd of July at 11.59pm BST, and all the correct answers will be put into a draw to win the gorgeous prize package of October Afternoon 9 to 5 and Studio Calico Take Note items, worth over £25!
If you get lost anywhere along the way, here's the complete list of participating blogs:
Jennifer -

Thursday, June 28, 2012

PPF: When do you ink?

Hi and welcome to my entry for Paint Party Friday! I'm on vacation, traveling abroad for a month, and my art kit is limited to a sketchbook, watercolors, watercolor pencils, pen and pencil. I've enjoyed the opportunity its given me to explore this media.  When I first started sketching and painting with watercolors, I would sketch with pencil first, then paint and then add ink at the end to define everything (like I did in the bottom picture above of hurling equipment left outside a store on Innis Mor). Recently, I've experimented with sketching in pencil, then drawing in ink and painting last (like I did in the Insomnia Coffee Co. sketch). I find this easier and much more free-ing. It's almost like coloring in a coloring book!  Finally, I've made a few pages like this:
where I do some free painting without pencil or ink guides for large parts of the piece.  I find this scary! So, I'm curious, when do you add ink to your drawings/paintings? 
For more painterly goodness, check out this link to paint party friday.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Titanic Shadows and Photo Scavenger Hunt Update

While in Belfast last weekend, we visited the Titanic museum.  It was a fascinating place. The first gallery focused on life in Belfast at the time the ship was built, and it represented people from the past with shadows:
The next gallery focused on the workers who built the Titanic and had this wonderful shadow portrait of them celebrating its completion:
I'm submitting these for item #11 in the 2012 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt - a shadow.
Several people have asked how they are to post their finds, and the answer is that there are lots of different ways to do it.  You can post them singly (as in today's post) or in a group (like  I did yesterday). Some people make collages every week or so of what they have found. Some people without blogs put them into a flicker stream (if you do this and let me know, I am happy to direct people your way).  As the summer goes on, I try to highlight some of the posts so you can see what others are doing. You don't have to save them all up for one big post, though (unless that's what you want to do). 
I think everyone who has joined is now in my reader, but you can also let me know in a comment when you have posted a find, and I will be sure to come visit.  As far as I can tell, the first find was posted by Lizzie, here. It's a beautiful angel statue. She also posted this one. Go check them out! 
Finally, it's not too late to join! The scavenger hunt runs until the official end of summer - that's almost three full months still. So, come join the fun.  You can find the list and sign up here. If you do sign up, I'll be sure to add you to my reader and come visit.
Any other questions, just let me know.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Belfast Castle: The Scavenger Hunt Begins!

On Saturday, I visited the Belfast Castle with Sian of From High in the Sky. The Castle held some great finds for the 2012 Summertime Scavenger Hunt.  In the garden, there was a wonderful fountain:
And around back, an outdoor stairway:
But the best find of all was one which I thought would stump me:
A bride! Apparently, people hold weddings at the castle, and we were lucky enough to stumble across one. Sian and I felt a bit like paparazzi taking here picture, but it was all good fun.
So, have you started on the scavenger hunt yet? The official list is in this post, as well as on my sidebar.  Feel free to grab a scavenger hunt blog button, too (sorry this text is a bit small but I'm still learning how to do these things). Also, please let me know if you have any questions. Someone wondered what "a border" is, and I answered that it was open to many interpretations: a border between countries, states or cities; a flower border; a scrapbook border; etc. Really any kind of divider intended to mark a distinction between two areas would count, I think. Remember, the scavenger hunt is all about having fun, keeping your eyes open, and perhaps visiting a few new places over the summer. I'm thrilled by the number of people who replied to say they are participating this year. Over 40!!! I'm trying to add everyone's blogs to my reader, so I can come by and visit. So, if you plan to participate and did not leave a comment in the earlier post, let me know so I can be sure and visit you.
Happy hunting!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

I went to Belfast, Northern Ireland over the weekend, and I got to meet my friend Sian of From High in the Sky blog.
And our families met, too:
I am back at work in Dublin, with lots to do and too little time to do it. But I will be back with more soon. For now, my heart is full from having made such a lovely connection.

Friday, June 22, 2012

June Guys: Last Entry

I've been participating in the June Guys challenge over at Ayala Art. The goal is to create four manly faces during June. My first three were soccer players (click here to see them). For my last entry, I decided to do something different. I took the last watercolors on my palette and made some face blobs and then added ink and captions to finish them up. They were fun, fast and easy. Do you have a favorite in this group?
If you are interested in learning how to draw faces, Martha is running a "Basic Face Workshop." I just won a space in the class and am very excited.  You can see the details about it at this link.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PPF: A Peek Inside My Vacation Sketchbook

Just a few watercolor sketches to share today.  Clockwise from upper left, Euro 2012 logo (we've seen almost every game this trip); Museum Building, Trinity University, Dublin, Ireland; a typical breakfast (the cheese is from Sheridan's - they have cute little green cows on their wrappers); bowl of olives and caperberries at Giraffe Restaurant, Heathrow Airport, London. I have not been doing as much sketching as I had hoped, but I still have a few weeks left of vacation. 
Offered as part of Paint Party Friday.  For more painterly goodness, check out this link.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A blog badge request (granted!) . . .

Would anyone be willing to make a blog button for me of the photo that I've been using for the photo scavenger hunt? I'd like to have text added that says 2012 Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt and then be able to post it on my blog for people to copy and use. If you already know how to do this, so that it wouldn't take you much time, could you contact me at I'll give you a free beer (or at least free wi-fi and great beer)! LOL - the sign is from outside the bistro where we had dinner last night. Thanks!
Edited to add: Thanks for the link Helena. I think I got it to work! Would someone check it out and let me know if you were able to grab the badge?
Edited again to add: I made the badge smaller because it was too big.  Thanks for the heads up Amy!
 Thanks all!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

2012 Summertime Photo Scavenger Hunt

Summer's here, and it's time to announce the list of items for the Second Annual Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt!  Today is the first day of summer, and you have until the last day of summer (September 21) to find and photograph each of the following 21 items:
1. A pier
2. A clothesline
3. A border
4. A roadside stand selling something
5. A train
6. A historical landmark
7. A person playing a musical instrument
8. A person dressed as an angel or a statue of an angel
9. A fountain
10. A horse
11. A shadow
12. A maze, labyrinth, or trail.
13. A library
14. A person playing with a ball.
15. Someone dancing.
16. A bride.
17. A church, chapel, cathedral, mosque or temple.
18. A movie poster
19. An outdoor stairway
20. A swing hanging from a tree (or a hammock)
21.  A picture of you standing with something that symbolizes your nation.
Substitute Item (new this year):  If you find any of the above too hard, you may substitute a photograph of either a heart-shaped stone or a four leaf clover for one item; however, you may not substitute this item for #21. 
Participants are encouraged to periodically post their finds on their blog, but you don't need a blog to participate.  On September 21, I will survey the participants and choose a winner, based on the number of items found.  If more than one person finds all the items, a random draw will determine the winner.  I will also draw a random winner from all the participants.  Winners will receive a photography-related prize (either a photography book or entrance into an online photography class).  
Let me know in the comments if you plan to participate or if you have any questions!  Remember the idea is not to search your photo files and find these items, but rather to take the photos between now and the end of summer. Also, let me know if there's something that's impossible for you (do people not hang clothes in the winter in the southern hemisphere, for instance), and I'll see what I can do to accommodate you. It's all about having fun and enjoying the hunt.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Father's Day, 2012

We headed out to Galway (on the west coast of Ireland) for the weekend. The weather report said that Sunday would be our best chance of finding sunshine, so we took a chance and booked the ferry out to Inis Mor (the largest of the Aran Islands). And it was glorious!  A bike ride in the Irish country side.  A perfect way to celebrate Father's Day for Paul. What did you do?
p.s. Tomorrow is the first official day of summer!!! You what that means.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Smile for Monday

The wonderful blog Digital Photography School recently ran a post titled simply "29 Shots of Dogs Sticking Their Heads Out of Car Windows."  You can see the entire post by clicking here.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Little Inspiration (and a thank-you)

Today, I want to share links to three inspiring new blogs I've recently discovered and one old favorite.  But before I get there, thanks to Ginger for some great "Happy Mail." I won a giveaway of postal art from Treasured Memories, and it arrived last week. It's pictured above.  Now, on to the inspiration!
First off, The Sketchbook Challenge is a great site for anyone who wants some inspiration to start a sketchbook or spend more time using her current sketchbook. It's got a monthly challenge, some wonderful tutorials, and it features a wide variety of styles.  Overall, I think it helps make the idea of sketching less intimidating.  You can check it out at this link.
Second, Unruly Paper Arts (click here) has replaced the beloved Gingersnap Creations Challenge blog that I used to frequent.  It is really starting to come into its own and has lots of interesting tutorials, challenges, articles, etc.  This recent tutorial featured a completely new (to me) technique for making nature prints like this one:
It's definitely worth checking out!
The third new blog I've discovered is bilingual (French/English) and called The Art Journal Cafe. It has lots of how-to's and interesting information for people interested in art journaling.  I particularly liked this post which gives a "recipe" for making an art journal page. If you ever wanted to try you hand at making an art journal page but didn't know where to start, this tutorial could be for you.  I want to give a hat tip to Marjie because it was her post (here) which led me to the Cafe.
Finally, I haven't checked in with The Scrappy Tree lately, but I really liked this tutorial on creating mixed media journals/albums (it was a follow-up to this previous tutorial).  Scrappy Tree is a great blog for all kinds of paper crafts, and I feel like they had been on a bit of a hiatus. I'm glad to see them back.
Let me know what you think of these blogs if you check them out or if you have any new blogs to recommend. I'm always looking for more inspiration.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mario Gomez is German. Seriously!?! (Manly Face #3)

So, I've made it to Ireland. And I really should be sitting in a garden sketching birds and fabulous sculpture.  Instead, I find myself posting a sketch of yet another soccer player (for Ayala's June Guys Challenge) and explaining how I became a fan of the German national soccer team (at least for one night).  But first, here's the inspiration photo I used for my sketch of German striker Mario Gomez (it's from Photobucket):
As predicted, I have spent every night in Ireland in a pub watching Euro 2012 unfold (for the uninformed, that's a soccer tournament which takes place every four years; teams compete by country, and the winner is crowned "Champion of Europe").  On Wednesday, Henry and I headed over to Sinnott's Bar. We arrived early enough to watch Portugal beat Denmark, which made me very happy. I have a soft spot for the Portuguese player Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in general because there are so many Portuguese immigrants where I live (Half Moon Bay being a fishing town and all).  Netherlands v. Germany was due up next, and the pub started filling up with fans dressed in either orange or white jerseys.  The Dutch fans located in one part of the pub draped orange bunting around their section.  By the time the match began, the pub was packed (this photo was taken during the Portugal game when there was still plenty of room to move):
Henry and I smiled as the fans surrounding us belted out their national anthems (the Dutch out sang the Germans, by the way). The lights dimmed, and the match began with constant cheering from both sides. It was an awesome place to watch the match!  German striker Mario Gomez scored two goals, and I asked my son "Is Mario Gomez really German?" He said, "Yes." "Seriously?!?" "Yes, seriously." It turns out he was born in Germany, to a German mother and Spanish father. I think he's gorgeous, by the way (much better looking in real life than in my sketch).  Two girls from Hamburg asked if they could join us, and we got to talking.  One worked for Twitter. She had worked in San Francisco for a couple of years and has now been posted in Dublin.  We met another German fan who was from Ecuador but grew up in Spain, had worked in Dallas, Texas for five years and now Dublin since 1999. I love how soccer makes the world smaller and unites people from all over the globe. Given that we found ourselves in a pocket of German supporters and that a German victory would help Portugal advance, we decided to cheer on Germany. We didn't actuall join in the chants of "Deutsche - land," but we were mighty tempted!  And we did high five those around use every time the Germans put one in the back of the net.
More stories (and sketches) from Ireland coming soon!  What have you been up to this week?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

PPF: Completed "Abstract"

A few weeks ago, I started this as an abstract painting. You can see it here. I added some stylized flowers and stenciled circles.  I don't think it counts as an abstract anymore because I added identifiable (even if stylized) elements.  What do you think?  Is that right?
In any event, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. It's definitely a departure for me.   That's one of the reasons I really appreciate Paint Party Friday - it pushes me to try new things in my painting. If you want to see other examples of painterly goodness, check out this link.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's Coming Soon . . .

The first day of summer is just about a week away, which means that the list for the Second Annual Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is coming soon! Are you excited? I hope so!
Are you confused? If so, check out this post for more details.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Peek Inside my Sketchbook: Manly Face #2

The German soccer star Michael Balleck is doing Euro 2012 commentary in the United States for ESPN.  Although not a fan of the German national team or any of his club teams, I've always found him very attractive! I think he's doing a serviceable job as a commentator. He definitely looks a bit nervous, but I find that endearing. He's also polite, but firm, in his opinions and very knowledgeable! I think he should definitely continue announcing .  Since he caught my eye, I decided to sketch him for Ayala's "June Guys" challenge.  Here's the photograph I used as my inspiration:
Just like the David Beckham sketch I did, the man is much better looking in real life than in my sketch.  But I certainly don't mind staring at the photo while I sketch! LOL!
Are there athletes you find particularly attractive? Or sports announcers?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Customized sketchbook (monthly make)

On vacation this year, I knew I wanted to take along a sketchbook, drawing tools and watercolors. I went shopping and saw many different varieties of sketchbooks. I settled on this small wirebound Strathmore " Visual Journal" because it was on sale and I liked the smoothness and weight of the paper.  One journal I almost bought had journaling lines opposite each sheet of paper. I loved the idea and decided to use a journaling stamp customize my journals in this way:
I customized other pages in a different way, segmenting them into smaller spaces because I often like to sketch small:
I was inspired to make the smaller segments by this post at Nodljus using the Moleskin Storyboard art journal for some travel pages.  I'm counting this as my "monthly make" for the challenge at Felt Fairy.  I'd be interested to hear of others who use a sketchbook that is different than simply blank pages.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

PPF: Sand Dollar

I was inspired by one of the lessons in "The Art of Wild Abandonment" class I took a while ago to paint a small canvas, using texture.  Using a sketch of sand dollars from my sketchbook, I drew some sand dollars and then painted them with pumice gel that had been tinted with titanium buff.  I overpainted the shells with titanium white and then silver.  I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.  Carolyn Dube of the "A Colorful Journey" blog is running a very cool summer event asking bloggers to join her in a Virtual Beach Vacation.  You can read more about it here.  I'm submitting this piece as part of her party and as part of Paint Party Friday.  For more Paint Party fun, check out this link.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Congratulations Clara!

Tonight Clara went through the promotion ceremony from middle school. She looked great:
Afterwards, we went to dinner at the local sushi restaurant:
It's been a long year, and, truthfully, we're all glad to put 8th grade behind us.  But, Clara's looking forward to our vacation and a fresh start in High School.  And we'll be there to support her. Because she's awesome, and we love her.  Congratulations Clara! You go girl!

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Peek Inside My Sketchbook: Manly Face #1

My blog friend, Ayala, is hosting a "June Guys" challenge, to create at least four manly faces during this month.  You can read all about the challenge at this link.  Since I'll be glued to pub televisions following Euro 2012 during the month of June, I thought I'd join the challenge and plan to sketch at least four soccer players.  My first manly face is a pencil sketch, based on this image:
It's David Beckham, of course! Or at least my sketchy rendition of him. . . 
If you want to join Ayala's challenge, you can grab this blog button and join the linky (here):
Hope to see a few of you participate.  Anyone else planning to follow Euro 2012? If so, which team is your favorite?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Clara's Travelling Tales (Storytelling Sunday)

We have been blessed with the opportunity to travel throughout Europe as a family.  The law school at which I teach offers a number of "summer abroad" programs, and my husband and I decided early on that we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to take the kids and explore the world togetherThis summer, we'll be travelling to Dublin, Ireland for three weeks (where I will teach) and then to Barcelona Spain for a week's vacation.  Today, as part of Storyteling Sunday, organized by Sian of From High in the Sky, I thought I would share some travelling tales to celebrate our upcoming trip. Since Clara celebrated a birthday this past week, I thought it appropriate to focus on some of her stories from our summers abroad:
In 2002,  Clara was four; Henry was seven. We spent three weeks in Dublin, Ireland where I taught at Trinity College; one week in Northwest Wales touring castles; and one week in Edinburgh Scotland.  We walked the children everywhere and, for the most part, they were troopers about it.  Although occasionally, while we were consulting a map and trying to figure out how to get to our next destination, Clara would pipe up in her small four year old voice "We could always take a 'capsy.'"  (The last word being one of her own devising, a combination of cab and taxi).  And, once, when we stood at street level considering a restaurant (such establishments are often located on the second floor in Wales and Scotland), she looked up, sighed, and said very softly, "I hate stairs."  At the end of the trip, Paul and I were relieved that we had been able to book a nonstop flight home from Ireland to California.  After we had settled in, we explained the length of the flight to Clara.  Thirteen hours?  She looked at us, as if we were crazy, pulled her green blanket over her head and slept for the entire flight!
In 2004, Clara was six; Henry was nine. We returned to Dublin and added a week in London afterwards.  Clara attended a performing arts camp in Dublin and loved singing and dancing. When we went to London, we attended a showing of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and she was equally thrilled by the flying car and the ice cream trolley which came by our seats at intermission.  At the end of the show, confetti rained from the sky. She gathered some up. Later, in our apartment, she threw it up in the air, over and over again, reveling in the ability to create a celebration out of thin air.  Henry was overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of London.  Not so Clara.  She asked me in all seriousness, "Mom, if I move here, will you come visit me?"
In 2005, Clara was seven; Henry was ten. We headed East and spent three weeks in a farm house turned travel hostel in Prague Czech Republic (where I taught at Charles University). We spent long weekends in Rome, Italy and Vienna, Austria.  In Rome, I was a little hesitant about going up the dome inside St. Peter's Cathedral, but Clara sprinted ahead and so I had to follow! Clara loved drinking from and playing in the fountains found around the streets of Rome.  She also loved  all the cute Italian men who thought she was "bellisima" and showed her how to use the fountains to spray water at people in the crowd.
In 2008, Clara was ten; Henry was thirteen. We started with a week's vacation in Paris, France and then spent two weeks in Budapest, Hungary where I taught. We ended with a week in Venice, Italy. Clara was the only one from our family brave enough to go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  On our last night in Venice, there was a huge thunderstorm and tons of wind and rain.  Clara asked if she could go dance in the rain in Plaza San Marco.  She was shocked when we said, "yes."  Out she went! She danced and laughed, finally returning, soaked and beaming with joy.
Happy 14th Birthday Clara! I hope you enjoy this summer's trip and return with more tales tell!
To visit other bloggers and read their stories, go to this link. You won't be disappointed. I promise.