Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Computer Sadness

Hello. I'm sorry for the delay in posting. We were away for a few days and it apparently really ticked my computer off because it won't let me on the internet now. (I'm on another computer right now - ssssh, don't tell my computer. It has issues.)

I hope to be back up and running soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Adventure Bags

Magoo is getting together with his cousins, J & Z, and hitting the woods so I thought it would be fun if they had their very own adventure bags. (Z is only a wee one so hers is less adventure and more fun.)

I used a pattern for repurposing jeans that I found here. And I lined the bags with the Eric Carle fabric I purchased at the Eric Carle Museum.

Both boys got dots. And little Miss Z got the Hungry Caterpillar.

I filled the bags with sketch books, markers, bug collecting jars, and tweezers. I'm sure the kids will discover many wonderful bugs, rocks, and leaves. At least I hope so.

In other news: The bagels were a big hit with Magoo. I made 6 and today there's only 1 1/2 left. So I made another batch. This time I baked them for 13 minutes on each side. I haven't cut into them yet b/c I literally just pulled them out of the oven - but the color is marvelous!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Yeast-Free Mini-Bagels

I'm not sure how I got to the page, but I found a recipe for yeast-free gluten-free mini bagels. Mmmmmmm - bagels. I hadn't thought of making bagels before. Today I had a little time and since Maggo's two buddies O&G were over, and they happen to bring their own bagels, I thought it was the perfect time to try out this new recipe.

(Now I did make a few changes from the original recipe. I used 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free flour blend instead of all the different flours, and I used honey in the water instead of molasses.)

Here are a few bagels being poached.

Mmmmm - nothing says yummy like soggy bread! :)

And here they are ready to go in the over. I sprinkled them with salt and sesame seeds.

They puffed up nicely, just like most things do. Only in the world of yeast-free gluten-free baking, they collapsed quite a bit. The color was good and I'm sure Magoo will like them because he rarely gets anything like this - but I have to admit they are under-baked. If I make them again I'm going to give them 13 minutes on each side.

Otherwise I think they turned out pretty good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

School's Out For Summer!

Today was the last day of school, and for Magoo - the last day of First Grade. Here he is without even taking a moment to look back. Other kids are going over to hug their awesome teacher - not Magoo. Out of my way, I'm free at last!

Here's a comparative look at Magoo's first day of First Grade next to his last day. Doesn't he look smarter?! I bet that kid in the orange shirt can spell some stuff that the kid in the green shirt can't.

Magoo's been "into" his tunes and Mike wanted to get Magoo a new CD player/radio as a graduation present. I got it all set up so all Magoo had to do was press "play" to rock out and celebrate the beginning of summer. And BOY OH BOY did he rock out!

We're all ready for some fun in the sun! Hope you are too.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

Here's the latest in the fable series and OH what a challenge this one turned out to be.

The idea, composition, and the line drawing all came easy enough - it was the colors and the texture that put up a fight.

I started by preparing two pieces of paper. One was hand painted green for the grass. The other was a brown-grey mix for the wolf. Both papers looked good on their own but it became clear that I couldn't use them together because it would have been too much going on. In the end, I used neither. The wolf colors weren't working - it was kinda like taking the easy way out. This wolf wanted to be built as an actual collage. It wanted ripped grey papers and layers of transparent white rice papers. It wanted black ink on the paws. It wanted to be the centerpiece and there were no shortcuts for me. There were lots of experiments with this wolf.

Then the green just wasn't right. I put in a tree. That wasn't right. I added a bush and some grass. The grass I liked but the bush had to go. The floor of my studio was a complete mess for three days because I just couldn't find the right balance between the blues for the sky and the greens for the grass. Finally I pulled out the green that I used above - it has specks of white in it that I thought made the grass look soft and friendly. I painted a blue sky and popped the sheep in - (they were relatively easy on me - good little sheepies) but it still wasn't done.

I added in the yellow flowers and that helped too, but I needed the bow on the present, the cherry on the sundae, the words "the end" on the final page of a book. So I gave the wolf a red flower dangling from his mouth. It mimics the sheep eating grass, it hints at his bloodlust, and it gives a little POP of color that draws your eyes to the wolf's face.

Now it feels done.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sneak Peek

Last Friday I got the first color proofs of Wink, The Ninja Who Wanted To Nap in the mail. (clap, clap!) I don't think I'll get into trouble if I give you a sneak peek of the cover.

Wink 2 picks up with Wink just finishing a tour of Japan as the star of The Lucky Dragon circus. He wanted to be noticed and BOY OH BOY does he get some attention. There are even three fans waiting for him when he gets back to Grandmother's house. He poses for pics and signs autographs, but when it's time for him to go in and get a nap, the fans won't give him a moment's peace. Wink tries to outrun the fans but wherever he goes, more and more people notice him and try to chase him down. Finally, with a little help from Master Zutsu and his ninja friends, Wink concocts a plan.

It's a bit of a "be careful what you wish for" story. It's due out March 3, 2011 and - if you can believe it - is already available for pre-order on Amazon! Woosh!

Since today was "Reading Party" day at school, I took the proofs into Magoo's classroom along with my storyboards, research, and pencil sketches to show the kids how this book has developed. It's always fun to share my books with the kids (and to show them where I've hidden Magoo, my husband, and myself in the book.)

In other news:
There's a rose explosion going on in front of my house. Check it out!

There are five flowers in full bloom and a few more buds getting ready to go. It's like fireworks at Fourth of July!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Celebrate West Hartford

Here are some images from Magoo living large at the West Hartford Annual Arts & Fun Fair a.k.a. Celebrate West Hartford.

For some reason the weather is always major for this event. Major rain. Major heat. Major wind. It's rarely pleasant, and this weekend was really no exception. But my super-anal micro-management skills came in handy as I planned our outing. said the rain was coming in around 11ish. The fair started at 10am and BOOM - we were there right at 10am. It was nice, actually. It wasn't too crowded and we got through $40 of rides pretty quickly.

I'll always be baffled at how much Magoo loves a rinky-dink Funhouse. It's one of his favorite things. He gets lost in this little house of mirrors and then I don't know what happens because we always send him in there alone. But he emerges on the top level where there appears to be nothing fun to do, he just walks across to a slide and slides down. LOVES. IT.

When I was little there was a funhouse at Cedar Point in Ohio. Now this was a solid structure Funhouse (meaning it didn't move from town to town) so it was probably more sophisticated than this one, but I do remember a room of mirrors and it did end with a slide. But it was dark in there and closed off. I remember many-o-child sobbing to their parents to get them out of there. I don't think the West Hartford version is scary at all - or at least not to Magoo. I suppose it's a little thrilling though.

Magoo wasn't in love with the mountain climbing. I think he thought it was going to be something different - some thing that required less work.

But he certainly had a good time overall.

Then we hit the library for the used book sale - and we timed it out just right because while we were looking through tables and tables of books, the rain started coming down. Magoo found a cool book talking about Great Civilizations of the East and it has all sorts of projects in it. We are currently building a model clay boat based on an artifact from Mesopotamia 400BC. I'm sure there will be a post on that when we're done.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Frogs and the Well

Continuing the fable theme, I present The Frogs and the Well.

You see, these two frog buddies lived happily in the marsh - until it dried up. So they went searching for a new place to live. When they came upon the well, one frog said, "This looks like a good home. It's dark and wet down there." But the other frog replied, "But what if this home dries up? How will we get out?" Moral: Look before you leap.

I'm having so much fun with these fables! Now I have to decide which will be next! Grasshopper and the Ants? Lion and the Mouse? Turtle and the Hare?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend: The Beach

Yes - I'm a whole weekend behind with these, but today is muggy and pictures of the beach make me feel coooooool.

Last weekend was a great beach weekend; the sun was out, the air was warm, BUT the water was frigid. Freakin' frigid! So I busied myself with the camera while Magoo and Mike made a rock wall.

They both waded into the water (my toes are freezing just thinking about it!) and dug up these huge rocks.

It kept Magoo busy for a good, long time, and you know what? It worked. The tiny waves smacked up against it, but the water couldn't get through. Good job, guys. Like Michael said, "It's going to stand forever!"

In other news: Two weeks of school left!!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Magoo Stars in ...

Well, he wasn't really the star. But he was a rockin' straw peddler. He's on the left in the yellow shirt. They sang: Straw for sale, Straw for sale. Fifty cents a bail. Straw for sale. Straw for sale. Fifty cents a baaaaaaaaiiil.

And when the piggies bought their straw. sticks and bricks, you know who came out to sniff around.

Well, after much huffing, puffing, and running about, the wolf went away hungry, and the pigs got jiggy with it. Doesn't this look like a big dance number from Fame?

Here's Magoo in his yellow straw peddler shirt and bandana. And again with Gramma Mary after the show. (I did get any good shots of him blowing kisses and all the typical stuff my little ham likes to pull, but believe me, he did it all.)

All the kids did a fantastic job and hats off to Mrs. Smith for producing a fantastic show!!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend: The Picky Goat

This past weekend, we headed down to Niantic to hang with Gramma and, as always, visit the Book Barn. At the main store there's a big farm and Magoo loves to feed the goats. I think these goats are well fed because ol' Whitey wasn't into the cup of dried corn offered to her.

But we learned a trick, Magoo and I. It seems the goat did, in fact, like the corn. What it didn't like was the presentation.

If we placed a few kernels on the edge of the fence...

... she would eat them.
So perhaps she's dainty and doesn't like to gobble, or perhaps she likes eating food out of a humans hands as much as we would like eating food off her back. Humans are disgusting!