Monday, June 30, 2014

Summer Racerback Dress

I like to wear dresses in the summer.  They're comfortable and airy.  The problem I have is finding casual summer dresses - too often you look like you're going to a cocktail party.

I also like built-in bra's.  Summer dresses are strappy and I hate having bra straps poking out.

I love stores like Athleta that mix active clothes and style because they often have built in bras - but, they are also a little pricey.  (And sometimes the dresses still look too dressy.)

Inspired by the tutorials I was seeing on Pinterest, I decided that the only solution was to simply make exactly what I wanted.  So I did.  Here it is:

I bought 2 yards of cotton jersey at $5.99/yd from  I traced the pattern from a dress that I  owned and liked the fit.  And I made a built-in bra from the tutorial here.

It probably took me about 4 - 5 hours, start-to-finish, but I took my time and did a lot of fittings.  I am really happy with the result.  It's light.  It's comfy.  No bra straps.  And I think it looks nice and casual.

I have more jersey so I'm going to make a least one more - although I'll probably try to shake up the pattern a bit.  A girl like a little variety, yanno.  But then again - maybe I won't!  Who knows!

In other news, it's the first day of art camp - exciting!  I'm sure I'll have pics of my little lovelies soon.

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Have a great day!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Ramda Apparel and Mugs!

For over a year, my husband Mike and his friend Scott have been working on Ramda, a functional Javascript library.

I'm sure you are now thinking, Hmmm, I want to know more about Ramda.  Click here.

For those of you who do not know what Javascript is - it's computer stuff.  Mike and Scott are computer dudes and they made a library full of computer code stuff.

But, as a part of making the library, Mike wanted a logo for Ramda.  Good thing he's married to an artist, yeah?  Mike wanted to combine the Greek letter "lambda" (λ) with a ram's head.  Here's what we came up with:

You might be thinking, Hey Julie, that logo is on a t-shirt!

Yes - you are correct.  We've uploaded the Ramda logo onto Zazzle, an online printing company, so now ANYONE can have this fine looking t-shirt and even a mug!

If you're interested in either of these fine products, check out my store on Zazzle.

Thanks so much for stopping in!  Happy Sunday!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Illustration Friday (and Tattoos!)

Black Bearded Tattoo Guy           2014             j.c.phillipps

Tattoo Girl with Coffee            2014             j.c.phillipps

I'd been wanting to do a tattoo series for awhile and yesterday I finally took the day off from picture book work and had some fun.  Here are the first two in the series:  Black Bearded Tattoo Guy and Tattoo Girl with Coffee.

As it so happens, the theme for Illustration Friday this week is BEARD, so my top guy will fit in quite nicely.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Stormy Sky

Welp - it's summer.  Full-on hot, humid, no-time-to-myself summer.

Although I shouldn't complain about the last part.  Magoo has his list of things he needs to do daily (i.e. 30 minutes of reading, clarinet practice, etc.) so that his mind doesn't turn to mush and he doesn't laze around the house going from iPod to computer to Wii all day long.  And because he's the BEST - he works through his list without complaint and I can squeeze an hour or two of work in.

Which is a lot of time in the summer.

This morning I turned in a pdf of my current project to my agent and I found myself with some free time.  I decided to paint!

Stormy Sky                                2014                               j. c. phillipps

It felt really good to get back to painting - I've got to do it more often.  Maybe that will be a summer goal.  Free time = painting.

Thanks for stopping in.  I hope you're getting your creative juices flowing this summer!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Graduation Day

Today is the day.  The final day of elementary school!

Magoo has been going to the same school since he was three years old.  He started at the pre-school (which is in the same structure) then advanced through the grades K - 5.  I used to take him in his stroller, then we rode bikes, then we walked (we had a couple extra boys in the morning, so we couldn't ride.)  Still, for 8 1/2 years, Magoo and I have journeyed to school most mornings.

Today was the last.

But let me backtrack, because YESTERDAY was the Fifth Grade Recognition Ceremony.  Parents, grandparents, teachers, and siblings all crammed into the auditorium in their Sunday best to see their glowing fifth graders received praise for the fine work they've done this year.  (I kinda wanted to take a photograph of the sea of iPads recording everything, but then, yanno, I would have missed something on my iPod.  ;)

The students sang a song, then proceeded to their seats on the stage.

Awards were announced for Writing, Reading, and Math.  Magoo stood up proudly when his name was called for a Math Award.  What a wonderful feeling, to see your child beaming on stage while a room full of people clap for him.

There were poems and recognition for the teachers and a final song that the fifth graders sang.   Then we all filed out to the back courtyard where snacks were served and kids indulged the parents in more and more photographs.

Magoo even posed with his proud Mama.  (He posed with his proud father too, but his proud father does not like being in blog posts.  :)

Magoo takes his studies seriously and has made wonderful progress over the years.  We know that the middle school years will be more challenging, but we're sure he will rise to them!  (Especially in honors math!)


In other news, yesterday was my 15 year anniversary and today is my mother's birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

Thanks so much for stopping in!  If you have little ones in school, I hope they all had a lovely last day and I wish you a fun-filled summer!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fun TIme with Fan Mail

The month of May was a busy time for me; LOTS of author visits!  But sometimes something really fun and wonderful happens - sometimes, the kids send me notes!

Here's a note for one child...

100 books!  Wow!  That's great!
Here's a note from the same class ...

Boo-ya!  In your face, N!  K's going to write 1000 books!  I wonder if these two are a wee bit competitive?  (Just kidding about the "in your face" part. I hope you do write 1000 books!)

I'm always delighted to get art, too!

Here are THE SIMPLES ...

One child made a hilarious drawing of Lulu stuffing Dizzy into her big back pack, but it was very small.

Wink would be thrilled to see this illustration!

And look at all these adorable Monkey Onos!

One fifth grade class read THE SIMPLES LOVE A PICNIC and made some suggestions for the kinds of adventures The Simples could go on next.  This letter has some particularly good ideas.
(I'll type it below (as is) in case it's too difficult to read.)

Dear Ms. Phillipps,
   I love your book the simples love a picnic.  I liked your book because It was funny.  My Faverit illustration was when lulu stuck her cat I her "very big back pack."  Because the way you said it made it better.  I think the nect book you make should be The Simples love camping.
   There camp sight is on an Island and they canoe there and it sinks, then racoons should make a nest in there tent, then a Deer eat's the smores.

Those are some fabulous ideas!  Right?  We'll see how The Simples Love a Picnic does in the marketplace.  I'd love to make another book, but this one has to sell well enough to warrant it.  Fingers crossed.

Anyway, THANKS to all the kids who wrote me wonderful notes and drew gorgeous pictures and shared their ideas with me.  I love every single one of them! 

Thanks so much for stopping in, my friends!
I hope you're having a lovely June week.
Magoo's graduation from elementary school is Thursday, so I'm sure I'll have a big weepy Mama post for you soon.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Non-Fiction Tips (for the Writers in the Audience)

Hi Guys -

I was recently cyber-approached by Nikolas Baron from about doing a guest post on my blog.  I'd never had a guest poster, but he suggested an article on non-fiction writing, which I basically know nothing about, so I thought Why not?!

Here it is!  Enjoy!

How to Inject Personality into Non-Fiction Writing
Many find the taste of medicine unpalatable. Though injections pinch, the medicine enters the bloodstream instantly for immediate use by the body. Non-fiction has its fans, but some people view it as an ill-tasting genre. If they need some information, they would rather watch a video than read “boring” non-fiction. This problem calls for preventative medicine. Here we will discuss four easy ways to give non-fiction a better taste. Of course, it would be boring if I just told you! I challenge you to use these facts about barn owls as clues! At the end, you can check to see if you decoded all four suggestions.
A Barn Owl Stands About 10-20 Inches High
If a friend said, “Hurry, look! There is a barn owl outside sitting on the fence!” I would run outside to get a look at the cute, feathery visitor. After I took a gander, I would go back inside. My life would continue. If my friend returned from the library with a book about owls, I would think it was curious. If my friend read the book from cover to cover, I would be impressed. If he checked out several more books on his next library visit, I would suspect an obsession. What do you learn about non-fiction writing from the height of the average screech owl?
Owl eat anything” - Chiclet, the Hobby Owl
Pardon Chiclet’s pun, but an owl will eat virtually any creature small enough to catch and kill. Therefore, an owl’s diet varies according to its local ecosystem. In the grasslands, termites and crickets are on the buffet. In swampy areas, toads are not safe. By way of contrast, owls do not prey on animals too large or strong to subdue. Did you guess what Chiclet is trying to teach you?
“Barn Owls Recognize Their Siblings’ Calls”
This BBC Nature article explains how owlets use vocal calls to compete for food. Rather than resort to fisticuffs, the owls vocalize. The hungrier they are, the more urgently they call. Their nestmates listen, and eventually, “less hungry siblings ...withdraw from the contest.” When you think about the calls of baby owls, of which non-fiction writing strategy are you reminded?
A Baby is a Baby
Babies of numerous species share a need to sleep. Human babies sleep for some sixteen hours a day. Baby owls sleep a lot, experiencing REM sleep phases as do humans. Similarly, owlets and humans need less sleep as they grow older.1 Adult owls spend this extra time hunting, mating, and caring for young. What balance, similar to the one between sleep and essential activities, must a non-fiction writer establish?

The Answers
#1: Choose what facts you share. Owls have three eyelids. One could describe all there is to know about each one. However, when one considers the audience, one may decide to omit items that would be of low interest to the target reader. If you are as obsessed as my hypothetical owl-spotting friend, learn more about those eyelids here
#2: Chiclet wants you to write about what you fully understand.  You may misstate information and confuse your reader if the research material was too technical for your comprehension.  I followed Chiclet's advice, choosing to write about barn owls rather than reverse transcriptase PCR amplification of environmental RNA. #3: Remember that writing is communication. In general, non-fiction is to inform. Write in such a way that your readers get the main point. Write at the reading level of the target audience.

#3: Remember that writing is communication.  In genera;, non-fiction is to inform.  Write in such a way that your readers get the main point.  Write at a reading level of the target audience.

#4: Balance is necessary.  Sharing information or communicating a message will take a lot of your time as a writer.  Yet, you should not neglect other essentials.  Use online proofreading to make sure that your writing is free of grammar errors.  Give attention to your title, your formatting, and your writing style.

Congratulations, you now know more than the average amount about barn owls. Hopefully, you also realize how to give your non-fiction writing a shot of personality. If so, your readers will find your writing as delectable as a screech owl finds a fresh, juicy rat.
1 ( Main, D. (2013) Owlets Sleep Like Human Babies. Live Science.

Thanks, Nikolas!  That was great!  

I have to let you guys know there there were some glitches in the links above so I had to remove a few.  (It was crazy - text was overlapping - I didn't know what was going on.)  But the IMPORTANT link is to Grammarly. com.  If you are interested in online proofreading (in Answer #4) check it out.

Thanks so much for stopping in!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Grill! Yay!

'Tis the season for grilling.  Unfortunately, shortly after pulling out my grill, I realized it was broken.  It would light, but then the fire would go out shortly thereafter.  Bummer, but not a BIG bummer as it was given to us by a family that moved away, then a huge oak branch fell on it, leaving it slightly wonky.

Basically, it served us well but it's time had come.

So ... NEW GRILL!  I ordered one, as my car is not big enough to pick one up.  So I knew I wasn't going to be able to get one pre-assembled.  No, by golly, I was going to have to build her myself.

I went out around 8:30 am. Sunday morning and laid out the parts.

After about an hour, I had this.

After about another hour, I had this.  (But not with the food.  The food came later.)

Woo-hoo!  Accomplishment!  

In case any of you are in the market for a grill, this is a Char-Broil Classic 480.  It was pretty easy to put together.  Visual instructions that were pretty clear.  There were a few confusing parts, but I eventually figured them out.  I, as a 5'6" woman of 130 lbs, was able to do it by myself, with the exception of needing a little help to lift the main grill part onto the frame.  (If I had HAD to do it by myself, I would have been able to manage, but I have a husband.  So, yanno, ask for help if you need it.)

I've only cooked on it once, but it worked just fine.  Good flame.  Good cook.

I will say that the lighter button didn't work, so I just lit it with a long match which is what I'm used to.

Otherwise - YAY GRILL!

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I hope you're havign a great week so far!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Celebrate West Hartford

It was a GORGEOUS weekend for our town's big fair, Celebrate West Hartford.  Sunny, 80's, low humidity.  Just lovely.  We had a little technological mix-up with meeting some friends there (my stupid cell phone) otherwise, we had a blast.  (Man, that Tilt-o-Whirl packs a lot more of a punch than I remember!)

Here are some shots I took with my iPod that I enhanced with an ap called Snapseed.  Very fun!

Magoo played many games and won the squirt gun race the second time around.  (We're pretty sure there was a plant there on the first time through.  The dude had been hanging around the stand and surprise, surprise he won!  Later, when we went back, he was still there, but he was just leaving when we decided to play.)  Magoo's prize?  A tiger with a Rastafarian hat and dreads that he named Dr. Sexy.

Good times!

Thanks so much for stopping in.  I hope you were able to do something fun this weekend as well!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Color Series - Hung

Sunday, I was able to hang The Color Series at the Simsbury Library.

Here's a panoramic shot:

This is my third time showing at this library and I really, really wanted this wall because this is the wall that people can see as they are entering the library (through the windows.)

Even though each piece is separate, this really works as one piece of art.  I think the colors look so nice and bright standing next to each other.  Hopefully the patrons will think so too.

If you want to see The Color Series in more detail, click here.

Happy Tuesday!  Thanks for stopping in!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Magoo's Swim Meet

Yesterday we had the pleasure of going to one of Magoo's swim meets.  He's not on the regular swim team - which would have meets all the time - but rather he's in a group called Stroke and Fitness which is kinda like swim-team-lite.  They meet on Saturdays and work on technique.  They might have two to three casual meets per year.  It low-pressure.

We haven't really been able to hit the meets this year.  The first one was during Open Studio Weekend and Mike was supposed to take Magoo, but Mike got sick.  I took Magoo for, like, an hour before I had to rush to the art building and Magoo only got to compete in one heat.

The second meet snuck up on us.  Without warning, they were like, "There's a meet tomorrow.  Can you come?!"  Maybe there was a flyer we missed or something, but Magoo is like me in that he likes a bit of warning.  So he declined.  Then, when the kids in his group got their ribbons a week later, he felt pretty bad about missing it.

But there was a THIRD MEET!  Yay!  And we made it!

It was at a fancy boarding school in Simsbury call The Westminster School, (we thought we might get kicked out because our car wasn't nice enough.) Here is the beautiful pool.

Magoo competed in five or six heats and he did great - even coming in first in the breast stroke!

We're very proud of him, but more important, he's pretty proud of himself.

Thanks so much for stopping in!  I'm off to my last full-day author visit of the school year!  Pics soon.

Have a happy Monday!