Tuesday, July 31, 2012

August Stamp Give-Away

Once a month, on the first day of the month, I post a couple of new or gently used stamps to give away. They usually relate to an upcoming holiday. If you want them, leave me a comment and let me know. But you have to be quick! I'll pick the winner in the next 24 hours. These are from All Night Media and are called "Celestial Sun" and "Celestial Moon."
Edited to Add: Congratulations to Anita on winning the stamps.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Let's Celebrate - Photo Scavenger Hunt Linkup (Aug. 4)

The 2012 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt is going strong! We have over 70 participants, and it's been such fun to see posts popping up all over blogland.  This Saturday, August 4, I'll be hosting a mid-summer link up party.  So, I'm encouraging all participants to create a blog post about the Scavenger Hunt and post it on Saturday. Then, stop by my blog and add a link to your post.  The final step? Go visit some other hunters to see what they are up to.  What should your post be about? It can be anything related to the Scavenger Hunt.  Blog a recent or favorite find. Describe the challenges and triumphs you've experienced while doing the scavenger hunt.  Post an explanation about why you haven't had a chance to get started yet! The point is to have fun, just like these women I found dancing in the Barcelona subway.
Which of course would be Item #15 Someone Dancing in the Summertime Scavenger Hunt.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hello Monday {2}

Hello Monday! A meme sponsored by Lisa Leonard.
Hello hydrangeas - taken in instagram (I like the filters, but I have not been able to figure out how to share on facebook with it). Getting the garden back into shape after our time away.
Hello a big week on my blog - stamp give-away on Wednesday; Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt Link-up on Saturday; Sian's Storytelling Sunday.
Hello menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking - new responsibilities for me.
Hello empty bedroom - the boy is off to residential soccer camp.
Hello hospital - lots of tests for Paul this week, but he's doing great.
Hello hula hoop - the girl, inspired by her cousin, has added this to her exercise regime.
Hello Olympics - enjoying watching all the unusual sports. So far, I'm really enjoying women's soccer, archery, swimming and gymnastics. Are you watching? What sports are you enjoying?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Monthly Make: Swap Postcards

For the second year in a row, I'm participating in Kat Sloma's Liberate Your Art Postcard Swap.   The purpose is to take some of your art (photography, poetry, painting, etc.), reproduce it, put it on a postcard and then send it out to be enjoyed by others. Kat has about 300 people sending in sets of five postcards, which she will then swap out and send away. I have two potential postcards to swap.  The first one (up top) features one of my favorite photographs. I love the lines in it, the colors, the sky and the flavor it gives of the harbor near my home.  Here's my second possibility:
It features a mixed media collage.  I'm not sure which one to submit for the swap. Opinions welcome!
I'm calling this my "monthly make" for July. Monthly Make is sponsored by the Felt Fairy.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Colon's Angels

At the foot of the Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain is a statue honoring Christopher Columbus, which features some beautiful angel statues (item 8 in the Summertime Scavenger Hunt).
I love how the angels seem to dance, in silhouette, with the other statues in the square.
Once you enter the Ramblas, there are many street artists who pose for pictures. I thought I saw a person dressed in a traditional angel costume, but I could not find her when I returned with my camera.  Instead, I found this creature.
Do you think that's a person dressed as an angel or not?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

PPF: Sketching Barcelona

I found sketching in Barcelona difficult because everything was so large and detailed. I realized that I'm better at sketching small, contained items. I was happy with the stylized map I created above.  I also used Ayala's 31 Heart Challenge as the idea to make some hearts:
These were based on some of the color palettes and general feeling I found in  Gaudi's Park Guell.  I have some other Gaudi-inspired pages to show next week.  
This is offered as part of Paint Party Friday. For more painterly goodness, check out this link.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday {2}

For other beautiful photographs, check out Wordless Wednesday at Create with Joy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Tale of Two Churches

Barcelona, Spain has two amazing and very different churches, which I am posting as my item 17 in the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt.  The Sagrada Familia (or Holy Family) is a masterpiece created by Antoni Gaudi. Here are a few close ups.
The Barcelona Cathedral is a Gothic Beauty.
I visited in the early evening, and the light inside was beautiful:
I think the two churches show the two sides of Barclona - the Gaudi creation represents the fun-loving, late night, crazy clubbing side, while the Cathedral represents the traditional, late-lunching, evening strolling and relaxing side. Although there were other pieces of Gaudi architecture in Barcelona that I adored, between these two, I think I prefer the Cathedral. What about you? Which one is your favorite? 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hello Monday {1}

Hello Monday! {a meme sponsored by Lisa Leonard}
Hello trains (item #5 in the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt) and hundreds of other photos to edit from our vacation.
Hello husband home from the hospital and feeling pretty good.
Hello new responsibilities asked of the children to help out around the house (and being pleased with how Clara is stepping up and a bit disappointed in Henry's self-centeredness).
Hello Gypsy dog - I missed you while we were gone. I'd forgotten how you are my shadow.
Hello laundry - does it take longer to wash or to fold?
Hello flushing Paul's picc line every day. I was so not meant to be a medical professional.
Hello flowers, cards and food given by family and friends to help us out. Much appreciated.
Hello gym. Time to get back into the routine.
Hello Junior Guards and cross-country training for the girl.
Hello soccer, soccer and more soccer for the boy.
Hello learning Mr. Linky to get ready for the mid-summer link-up (August 4) for the Photo Scavenger Hunt (have you started working on your post yet?)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Street Photography: Someone Playing with a Ball

While taking a Sunday morning photo-walk in Barcelona, I was able to find item #14 for the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt: someone playing with a ball. I planned to stop by a plaza to photograph a statue, when I noticed this group of men out of the corner of my eye:
I wandered over and watched them play bocce ball for a while.
I was a little shy at first about taking their picture, but I started far away and then crept closer. Eventually, I got reasonably close and sat on a nearby fence. I do find it easier to do "street photography" when I'm traveling than when I'm at home. But it's still something that's a little hard for me. I think it's what makes some of the scavenger hunt items harder than others. What about you? Do you find it difficult to do "street photography"? Is the scavenger hunt helping you overcome that?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thank You!

Thank you all so much for your outpouring of support and love yesterday. It really helps. We're are hopeful that Paul will be coming home from the hospital today or tomorrow. I will keep you updated on his progress. In the meantime, it's back to regularly scheduled programming, like visiting and commenting on your blogs, hosting the photo scavenger hunt, painting, sketching and mixed media.  Thank you again; you will never know how much I appreciated (and how many times I re-read) each and every comment.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Our World Shifted in Barcelona

I've been trying to figure out how to share some difficult news about our family, and I think I want to start by saying up front that we are guardedly optimistic that everything will be okay. BUT while we were in Barcelona, my husband Paul started having difficulty breathing, and I took him to the hospital. It turns out that his respiratory problems were being caused by a large tumor in his chest. He was quickly diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, an aggressive but highly treatable form of cancer.  The doctors began chemotherapy immediately. We sent these two fantastic kids home early.
Paul and I stayed on in Barcelona for another ten days, while the doctors stabilized his heart and lungs enough to fly and gave him his second round of chemotherapy. We finally arrived home early Wednesday  morning. Paul flew in a medical plane, and I flew commercially. He is currently in the hospital here in California, and he will receive his third round of chemotherapy today.  There's a lot more to the story, like the difficulties of being in a hospital in a country where you barely speak the language, the surreal nature of staring out at the Barcelona beach outside his hospital room, and speaking with the U.S. Consulate because they called when they heard my husband was being medically evacuated and wanted to know if they could help.  But for now,  I want to share the positives and blessings we have found in our story.
First and foremost, lymphoblastic lymphoma is a highly treatable form of cancer. Paul is responding well to the chemo, and the tumor is less than a third of its original size already. We are all guardedly optimistic about remission and recovery.  His cancer also has a very cool color for support bracelets and t-shirts - lime green. We have been blessed and are eternally grateful to our friends and family who picked our kids up at the airport and took care of them for the last two weeks (plus, pretty pleased that the 14 and 17 year old were able to manage the trans-Atlantic flight, immigration and customs on their own) and who are now sending us their continuing love, prayers and support. The travel insurance and health insurance companies came through big time - paying for all our care while we were there and for Paul's transportation back to the United States. Finally, we received outstanding care in Barcelona - the doctors and nurses were all fantastic. Plus, the hospital had an international department which held my hand for two weeks, helped me find a relatively inexpensive hotel, coordinated telephone calls and helped us get home. 
Home. That is also a huge blessing - we are so happy to be home in the U.S. And we will be even happier when Paul is home from the hospital.
So, that's our news. I don't think my blog is going to change a lot. I'll still be blogging about my art, with a little of my life thrown in. My life has shifted, but it is still my life. I know my family and I will get through this difficult time. Thank you in advance for all your prayers, thoughts and good wishes. And now I'm going to be brave and push "publish."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer Reading Book Reviews

I always make a summer reading list and do a much better job finishing books during the summer. So far, I am ready to review three books. The first is "The World in Half" by Cristina Henriquez. It's the story of a young woman whose mother has Alzheimer's Disease, which sets her off on a quest to find her biological father and discover her paternal heritage in Panama. It was beautifully written, and I enjoyed the insight into a country about which I knew very little.  I would definitely recommend it and would give it 4 out of 5 stars. I also read "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail" by Cheryl Strayed.  It's a memoir about a woman who sets off the hike a trail that runs the length of California and Oregon. It's an interesting read, and I enjoyed the tales she had to tell. But, I don't think the author accomplished her purpose of showing a life changing experience. She told us it changed her life, but didn't really show us how it worked all that well. I'll give it 3 out of 5 starts.  The final book to review is "Let's Pretend this Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. It's also a memoir and tells the story of her life, growing up in a very poor, very eccentric family and into adulthood.  Some of her stories have literally made me laugh out loud. The author has a fairly famous blog, "The Blogess," and many of her chapters read like funny blog posts.  I'm a little of a third of the way through it. While I enjoy reading it, there's not really a driving narrative, and I'll probably just dip into it now and again during the rest of the summer. So far, I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.  The other books on my summer reading list that are already on my ipad are: "The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach and "When God Was a Rabbit" by Sarah Winman. I have "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides in actual book form to finish, and my book group book for August is The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern.  That's probably plenty, but some other books in which I am interested are The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Home by Toni Morrison, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea, Night Road by Kristin Hannah, and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
So, have you done any reading this summer? Any books to pick or pan? Any opinions on the ones I've reviewed or that are on my list?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Photo Scavenger Hunt Link-Up: August 4 - Save the Date

Hey Scavenger Hunt Friends - the beginning of August marks the half way point in the summer. So, during the first weekend in August, I will be hosting a link-up party where you can check in and share some of your finds.  More details to follow!
In the meantime, I thought I would share something about how this Hunt got started. I started the Scavenger Hunt last summer because my friend Young Nancy of Squirrely Art had posted the previous summer  with finds from her family's summertime photo scavenger hunt. One of my favorites is this one, of her with a sign that is intentionally or unintentionally funny:

(It's partly funny because one of her team members is named "Chris." And I mean no disrespect with this photo - I am definitely a faith filled person, believe me).
Anyway, Nancy said that her family had gotten the idea from a newspaper (the San Jose Mercury News) which runs a "road trip scavenger hunt" (which focuses on taking pictures outside of the immediate area). Here's the list for their 2012 hunt:

o Tree with a trunk at least twice as wide as you (or a member of your traveling party)
o Fully loaded roof rack
o Church steeple
o Town motto printed on a sign or archway
o Clown
o Funny or elaborate mailbox
o Election sign
o Abandoned building
o Someone (not in your travel group) consulting a paper map
o Train or cable car not on tracks
o Statue made of wood
o Hat or headgear worn in the region you’re visiting
o A sign that is intentionally or unintentionally funny
o Lion, real or not
o Member(s) of traveling party in the water
o Musical instrument
o Restaurant sign advertising the “best” whatever
o Motel/hotel ice machine
o Roadside stand
o Something unusual that is not on the list
I think our list is better! LOL! Although I do like the idea of the sign and the last item on the list.  Do you have any ideas for what should be on the list next summer? Oh yeah, I'm definitely doing it again in 2013.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Welcome and Some Honorable Mentions

It's been such fun in the last few days to welcome some new entrants to the Scavenger Hunt. Julie of Notes on Paper has jumped in with both feet posting these seven finds, including my favorite of the bunch (someone playing a musical instrument):
Welcome Julie! Her blog is really fun - go check it out. I also wanted to make a few honorable mentions from recent posts. Karen of Random Reflections just posted seven finds in this one post, including this beautiful shadow and fantastic speeding train:
Stacey of Havoc and Mayhem checks in with five finds (all beautifully photographed).  I particularly like her clothesline:
Finally, Cheri of Scrap Dreams has this post with six finds, including the first find in the category of "A picture of you with something that symbolizes your nation."
I think that was the last category in which no one had posted - so the hunt is definitely do-able!
P.S. I have tried my best to add everyone who has signed up for the hunt (about 70 now) to my reader. If you have posted a scavenger hunt related post and I did not comment, would you leave a comment with your blog address. It probably means I missed adding you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Scrapping the Scavenger Hunt

I'm so happy that so many people from around the world are participating in this year's photo scavenger hunt.  I wanted to know what people are doing or plan to do with the photographs that they take.  For me, some I will scrap in my albums.  For instance, the photographs I took on vacation that represented a find (like these from the Belfast Castle) will go into my trip album.  Others which are a little more esoteric will likely be used in my art work, such as this photograph I took of a forest for the hunt last year:
At least a couple of people have blogged about what they are doing with their scavenger hunt photos.  Jacky is making a mini-album:
Here's one of her layouts (you can read the story here):
Lizzie is making fantastic layouts of her photos, such as this one of the local library:
Her labyrinth:
And her shadow:
I assume these are digi-layouts.  What about the rest of you? If you have posted layouts or collages, please add a link in the comments below. I would love to come see them.