Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stepping outside my comfort zone

Happy Tuesday, friends. I hope you're all having a good week. ☺

Last Tuesday I wrote a post about some graffiti that urged people to dare to create. Ever since then, I've been feeling inspired not only to do more of what I love—writing poetry—but also to step outside my comfort zone and look to other forms of poetry that I haven't yet explored.

One of the forms I've found inspiration in is spoken word poetry. YouTube is replete with videos featuring wonderful poets working in this form. One of the most talented (in my opinion) is Sarah Kay, a spoken word poet from New York City who teaches others how to perfect the craft. I watched several videos of her performances—all excellent—before I came across the video I posted here, an animation of Kay's poem "Hands," which was created by artist/designer Sachin Limbachia. In many ways, "Hands" shows how small things—in this case, holding hands—can tell so much about a relationship.

I'm curious about what you think of the video and Kay's words. Have you ever listened to spoken word poetry? Do you like it?


Wishing you all a wonderful Tuesday. ☺

UPDATE: My friend Madeline commented below that she found that the animation distracted her from Kay's words. Although I think Limbachia did a wonderful job with the artwork in this video, I agree with Madeline's assessment. Spoken word poetry is meant to be performed; there's a lot of value in seeing the poet as he or she speaks. Here's a video in which Kay is performing "Hands." What do you think? Which version do you prefer?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday inspiration

Happy Sunday, friends.

Today's inspiration comes from Ben Heine, a visual artist from Belgium who works in disciplines ranging from pencil to acrylics to digital art. You can see many examples of the great variety of his work on his Web site.

I'd like to highlight what I feel is one of Heine's most intriguing techniques, pencil versus camera, a concept he invented in 2010 that, according to his Web site, "mixes drawing and photography, imagination and reality." You can see an example of this technique in the first video. If you're interested in learning more about Heine, you might enjoy the second video, which is a trailer for a documentary about his work. Enjoy!

Wishing you all a creative and inspirational Sunday. ☺

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Six-word Saturday

Click to join the fun!
Like a chicken with no head...
 Yes, that pretty much describes me right now. ☺

A week from tomorrow, my family and I will be leaving for our annual, two-week vacation to my home state of Michigan, and I have so much left to do to get ready! No matter how well I plan, it seems that the days leading up to the trip always find me running around like a crazy woman as I attempt to get everything done, and the craziness doesn't end until we pull out of the driveway. Then I relax and feel grateful that I'm in the passenger seat: I can take a nap!

Wishing you all a calm and relaxing Saturday. ☺


Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday fun

Happy Friday, friends!

This has been a fun—but busy—week for me, and I'm so happy that we've almost reached the weekend. ☺ I hope you have a great one!








Thursday, July 25, 2013

That's a book?

Happy Thursday, friends.

I'm curious. What would be your reaction to the following sentences?

"Did you find an odd box with pieces of paper inside? It might be a book! Some of them still have real pages—and I'll show you just how to read one."

These are the words Abilene Christian University student Hilary Commer uses to describe a video she created for her Intro to Visual Media class. In the video, she tells people who are used to reading books only on e-readers or on apps exactly how to go about reading a "real" book. Part humorous and part serious, this video is both entertaining and maybe a little sad for those of us who grew up with—and still love—traditional books.

What do you think of Commer's video? Do you prefer to read one type of book over the other?

Wishing you all a fantastic Thursday. ☺

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Do you dare?

Happy Tuesday, friends. ☺

A couple of nights ago, my family and I took a walk out onto one of the local piers. As we neared the beacon at the end, I saw this graffiti and felt compelled to take a photo.

I don't know who penned these words, but I feel as though they were meant for me. They make me think about my own creative passion, writing, and remind me that if I'm not willing to take a risk—if I refuse to tackle that difficult subject or submit that poem or write about that thing that's been haunting me or try a different style of writing—then I can't expect to get far on my writing path. Creating is about being brave. It's about daring to take risks and daring to step out of our comfort zones.

I think this quote by community activist Mary Lou Cook says it all: "Creating is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun." (Emphasis mine.)

How about you? Do you dare to be creative?

Wishing you all an adventurous Tuesday. ☺

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday inspiration

Happy Sunday, friends!

Today's inspiration comes from Alexa Meade, an artist who, according to her Web site, "paints directly on the surfaces of live models and found objects in three-dimensional space, collapsing real-world depth into seemingly two-dimensional paintings." The result is pretty amazing! She talks about her process in the video below, and you can see more of her incredible artwork at her Web site. Enjoy!

Wishing you all a creative and inspirational Sunday. ☺

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Six-word Saturday

My new career: driving the kiddies.

Maybe I should say that's the title of my life's movie: Driving the Kiddies. You know—like Driving Miss Daisy? ☺ My kids are only four and six, and already they have social commitments and classes and people to see and things to do. My son has been taking karate for the past three weeks, and my daughter starts dance class on Monday. I feel as though I spend most of my time in the car and in stuffy gyms, waiting—always waiting. I might even be starting to forget what my house looks like! And this is only the beginning...
However, as frustrated as I sometimes get about all this driving, you know what? It's part of my job as a mom, and I wouldn't have it any other way. ♥

Wishing you all a fun and relaxing Saturday. ☺

Friday, July 19, 2013

Friday fun

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend. Mine are to rest up for next week, which is going to be very busy. My son will be finishing his summer karate class, and my daughter will be going to dance camp each day, which means lots of running around for me. I also need to start packing for our annual trip back to Michigan. It seems like the summer is going by way too fast. It needs to slow down!

I hope you enjoy this week's signs and videos. Whatever your plans for the weekend, have a great time. ☺





"Enjoy Fall From Private Balcony"


Thursday, July 18, 2013

High five!

Happy Thursday, friends.

Normally, I stay away from bumble bees—darn allergies!—but this one seems pretty friendly. I don't know what's funnier: the bee or the (apparently) drunk guy. ☺

Wishing you all a fantastic Thursday. High five!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Now and then

Happy Tuesday, friends!

I hope you're all having a great week so far. I'm glad to say that things are starting to slow down a little here after the last couple of weeks filled with birthday celebrations and family visits. We'll be taking a long trip back to my hometown in a few weeks, but until then, I plan on enjoying a little relative peace. ☺

Last Saturday, my friend Keith at Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer wrote a great post about the tendency of some people to romanticize the past. Reading it made me think of this very short poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. In it, Collins expresses an appreciation for the simpler days of "then," preferring them to the busier, more noise-and-image-packed days of "now." What do you think? As you look back on your life, do you find you have more appreciation for simpler times, or do you prefer life as it is now?

(Read by Billy Collins and animated by Eun-ha Paek of Milky Elephant.)

Wishing you all a fantastic Tuesday. ☺

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday inspiration

Happy Sunday, friends.

Today's inspiration comes from artist Javan Ivey, creator of a fantastic animation technique called stratastencil. I'm not an artist and don't understand all the nuances of Ivey's technique, but in the simplest terms, he adds together layers of cut paper to create the effect you see in the video below. You can visit his site to see photos of the process he used to make this video. You can also see a thirty-second time-lapse of the eighteen hours Ivey took to produce this absolutely incredible result. Enjoy!


Wishing you all a creative and inspirational Sunday. ☺

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Six-word Saturday

Back in school—and loving it!

Last April, some of my poet friends told me about a wonderful free poetry course offered through Coursera, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry. I checked it out and signed up right away, and I'm looking forward to its start in September. I also signed up for some other great courses, and this week I began my first one, History of Rock, Part 2. I'm really enjoying the lectures and the discussions. It's been many years since I graduated with my master's degree—seventeen, actually. Yikes!—but I've always missed being in school, and now it's great to be back!
Have you ever taken a Coursera course? Would you?
Wishing you all a happy Saturday. ☺


Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday fun

Happy Friday, friends!

Whatever your plans, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend. ☺







Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Where does the time go?

A princess cake for my 4-year-old princess!
Happy fourth birthday to my little princess!

This year she told me she wanted a princess cake, and then she named all her favorite princesses. (It turns out that every princess is her favorite.) After a little more questioning, I was able to find out that her favorite favorite princess right now is Disney's Sofia the First, so that's the one I chose for her cake. The frosting and some of the decorations look blue in the photo, but they're actually purple—one of my daughter's many favorite colors.

As usual, I started my baking after the kids went to bed and was up until around 3 a.m. putting on the finishing touches. I'd love a nap, but I promised my daughter I'd take her and her brother to the children's museum today, so that's what we'll do. I'm looking forward to catching up with your blogs tomorrow!

Wishing you all a happy Wednesday. ☺

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Back to reality

Image courtesy of Luz Maria Espinoza,
Happy Tuesday, friends. ☺

My family and I survived our weekend trip to visit relatives. The kids had a great time playing with their dad and cousins in their uncle and aunt's pool. I've never been much of a pool person (or an outdoors person, for that matter), but I enjoyed relaxing with a book and some Netflix.

Vacation was great while it lasted, but now it's back to reality. Bring on the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, and the chauffeuring. (And the writing—that one I'm looking forward to.)

In other news, tomorrow is my daughter's fourth birthday, so tonight will be cake-baking night for me. This year, she wants a princess cake. I'll post a photo of it tomorrow if all goes well.

It's good to be back! Tell me what I missed. How have you been? What's new in your world?

Wishing you all a fantastic Tuesday. ☺

Friday, July 5, 2013

Friday fun

Happy Friday, friends!

I hope all my fellow Americans had a great holiday yesterday. I stayed up much later than I should have, and although I'd much rather be in bed right now, I'm going to be visiting some family this weekend and need to pack and get ready. I hope my tired brain can remember all that I need to bring!

Because of my little vacation, I won't be posting on Saturday or Sunday (and possibly not on Monday either). I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you just as soon as I get back. ☺



Yes,that's Tom Hanks!





Thursday, July 4, 2013

Let freedom ring!

                      Happy Fourth of July, friends!

                       "From every mountainside,
                       let freedom ring."
                                 ~Samuel F. Smith, "America"

Much honor and respect to those who serve and have served this country, even when it meant giving up everything. Thank you all.

Lyrics here.

Wishing my friends here in the USA and around the world a wonderful Thursday. ☺

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I scream, you scream

Image courtesy of Gesine Kuhlmann,
Happy Wednesday, friends. ☺

So yesterday the kids and I embarked on an exciting adventure. Our first stop was the grocery store, where we purchased a strange-to-them assortment of items, among them ice, sea salt, and half & half. They were particularly fascinated by the large bag of ice (which shows how often I buy the stuff). "What are you going to do with that, Mom?" they kept asking. "I don't know," I answered, trying my hardest to sound mysterious. (I don't think they bought it.)

The questions continued when we returned to our home:

"What's the ice for?"

"Can we eat it?" (My kids love ice for some reason.)

"Are we making something that goes in the oven?" (Ice in the oven. Really?)

"Is it a treat?"

After the last question, I just smiled and told them to eat their lunch. (I think that was the fastest my I'd-rather-talk-than-eat son has ever finished.)

Once lunch was over, I cleared the table and set out all the items items we'd bought, plus a few others from my pantry, called the kids into the kitchen, told them we were going to make ICE CREAM, and promptly became the coolest mom in the world—at least for the ten minutes it took to make the stuff. ☺

On Monday night, one of my Facebook friends posted the recipe for Ice Cream in a Bag, and I knew I would have to try it with the kids. After doing a little research online, I found that there are a few different versions of the recipe. This is the one I followed:

Ice Cream in a Bag:

2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt
1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag
1 pint-sized Ziploc bag

Mix the sugar, half & half, and vanilla extract together and pour the mixture into the pint-sized Ziploc bag. Be sure to seal it tightly.

Next take the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and fill it halfway with ice. Pour the salt over the ice, then place the pint-sized bag into the ice-filled bag. Seal. Shake the bag for approximately five minutes, then open the large bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard. If it isn't, seal up the bag and continue shaking. If it is, remove the pint-sized bag and run cold water over it to remove the salt. Open the bag and enjoy!

My kids had a great time with this little project, and both of them loved their homemade treat. (I thought it was pretty good, too!) We'll definitely be making it again.

Wishing you all a fun (and hopefully delicious) Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Exciting book news!

Happy Tuesday, friends. ☺

Today I'm honored to be the first stop on author Martin Willoughby's blog tour. Martin and I have been friends for quite some time now, and I'm thrilled that he invited me to help with the recent release of his book, TEMPERS FUGIT.

Isn't this a great cover?
 Click here to go to the Amazon page.

Martin has joined me at my blog today to share his useful (and hilarious) writing advice, How Not To Tear Your Hair Out When Writing. Take it away, Martin...

* * * * * * * * * *

First of all, thank you to Dana for hosting me today and for being the first gullible victim...errr...first reliable friend to host me on my tour of the world's blogs to celebrate the launch of my comedy novel, TEMPERS FUGIT.

As you can see from my photo, I'm not good at avoiding tearing my hair out, or at least I wasn't. Over the past few years, I've developed several methods to lower stress and anxiety and, thereby, remove the moments when I place my hands on my head, grip, then pull out what little hair I have remaining.

1. Shave it off. If you have no hair, you have nothing to pull. Yes, I admit it's a bit drastic, but it does work. On the downside, it doesn't help long term and wouldn't suit everyone, especially the ladies, which is why I came up with...

2. Wear a swimming cap. Far less drastic but not as effective, though I did find myself ripping it off, throwing it on the floor, and jumping up and down on it like a crazed kangaroo. Also, when tearing it off my head, I pulled a few hairs out as well. So I moved on to option...

3. Walk away from the computer. I went and did something else for a while, anything to take my mind off the frustration. Read, wash up, bathe, wrestle an alligator, start World War 3, etc. Alternatively I would write down an idea that had been going round my head for a while and sketch it out using pictures. I got into severe trouble once when I kidnapped two people and forced them to act out several scenes from an upcoming book. Turns out that making people act out your stories in front of you is illegal, so I went back to writing. Still, I learnt a lot about police procedure, the law, and how not to act in court. This led me on to...

4. Reminding myself that there will always be bad days/weeks. The good thing about these days is they pass if you don't fight them. I found that if I tried to force inspiration and ability into my body, it gave energy to the negativity and helped it to last a long time. By accepting it as a bad day and typing what little I could, however bad, it lost the will to live and left me alone within a few hours or, at worst, a couple of days. Finally, there's number...

5. Get (almost) everything done ahead of time. If you can get something done, do it. Okay, there'll be days when you can't get something done, such as the last week before a book launch and your Internet connection goes down, you get yourself involved in a play that requires you to be out till midnight for five nights, etc., but this passes and teaches you a valuable lesson.

When I ignore these pieces of advice, things go wrong; when I follow them, the last three at least, things go reasonably well. After all, nothing ever goes completely, totally right, does it?

* * * * *

Martin Willoughby is an author of some repute and a legend in his own lunchtime. When not writing, he fixes computers, raises teenage children, and acts in an amateur theatre group, where he's always cast as the baddy. He's won many awards in his lifetime, including an Oscar for best actor which he received from his mother as a Christmas present many years ago. TEMPERS FUGIT is his first book; his second, APOLLO THE THIRTEENTH, will be released later this year to even more fanfare and approval. You can stalk him on Twitter (@Willabywriter) or via his blog, From Sand to Glass.