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Results 1 - 25 of 133
1. How the Sun got to Coco’s House

sunfrontcoverGentle cadences full of poetry and quiet snapshots of the waking world fill How the Sun Got to Coco’s House by Bob Graham, one of my very favourite of all books published last year.

It playfully follows the sun as dawn breaks in different locations around the globe, introducing readers to all sorts of children and their families and showing a moment in time that we all love to experience whatever our backgrounds and wherever we are in the world: the delight that the first rays of sunshine can bring – the warmth, the hope, the sense of adventure and optimism. Eventually the sunshine makes it to Coco’s home, presaging a day of joyous outdoor play with friends, leaving readers with a gentle and lovely glow of joy and delight in something so simple and universal.

Graham’s storytelling is full of tiny but magical moments – capturing the sun shining on a kid’s bicycle bell or making shadows in the snowy footprints of a young child. Lyrical and understated, you’ll appreciate the first rays of sun you see after reading this in a brand new light (if you’ll pardon the pun).

Whilst capturing the drama of beams of light when all around is dark has been brilliantly achieved by others (for example Klassen’s illustrations for Lemony Snicket’s The Dark), Graham dazzles with his sunbeams even when they are surrounded by brightness. Equally successful in bringing focus and intensity to vast landscapes as capturing the epitome of personal warmth felt in homes, between loved ones, Graham’s soft, pastel-hued illustrations really bring the world alive, helping us find wonder again in the everyday.

cocoinside3

cocoinside1

cocoinside2

Having delighted in How the Sun Got to Coco’s House I gave my kids a slip of paper with the word ORRERY on it. Words are such fun, and this one is a real delight. The challenge was to find out what an orrery is, why it’s relevant to this book and then to build (a simple) one. This treasure hunt introduced us to:

Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery, possibly after Charles Jervas oil on canvas, (1707) NPG 894 © National Portrait Gallery, London

Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery, possibly after Charles Jervas
oil on canvas, (1707)
NPG 894
© National Portrait Gallery, London

and to

Graham portrait" by Unknown - http://cosmone.com/timepiece/agenda/look-graham-london-legacy. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graham_portrait.jpg#/media/File:Graham_portrait.jpg

“Graham portrait” by Unknown – http://cosmone.com/timepiece/agenda/look-graham-london-legacy. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Graham_portrait.jpg#/media/File:Graham_portrait.jpg

and then eventually led us to this:

orrerybackgound

orrerybackgound2

orrerybackgound3

and finally to this:

orreryinaction3

orreryinaction

Watch our play in action!

This small orrery shows the relative movement of the moon around the earth, and the earth around the sun, enabling me to explain to my girls how it is not that the sun actually moves around the earth (the descriptions of the sun’s movements in How the Sun Got to Coco’s House might lead listeners to think that this is the case). Rather, what’s happening is that the surface of the earth facing the sun changes as the earth rotates, giving the illusion of the sun moving around the earth.

Now I can’t claim any of the honours for this fabulous orrery. During our treasure hunt for information about orreries we discovered the inspirational videos created by the amazing Mr Newham who works at Ivydale Primary School in South London. In this video he shows how to make a simple orrery with very basic materials:

What’s even more brilliant is that Mr Newham sells kits to make these orreries (and many other brilliant D&T projects) and so we thought we’d give one a go. At £6 I don’t think I could have bought the materials cheaper myself and the service provided by Ivydale Science & Technology Service (Mr Newham’s shop front) was super swift and efficient.

I don’t normally recommend specific products of companies but I can’t resist doing so in this case because the kit and service was so good, and what’s more, the kits are available for entire classes, or individually for families at home. I’ve ordered a whole selection of kits now and so far every one of them has been a huge hit with my girls. So a big hurrah for Mr Newham and the way he’s facilitated my kids (and me!) getting excited about all sorts of aspects of science, design and technology!

Whilst making our orrery and space background (by running our fingers over toothbrushes covered in white paint) we listened to:

  • Sunny Day by Elizabeth Mitchell
  • Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles
  • Sunshine Through My Window by Play Date
  • And all of our favourite science CD – Here Comes Science by They Might be Giants (you can hear a little accidentally in the background of our video above)

  • Other activities which would work well alongside reading How the Sun Got to Coco’s House include:

  • Investigating how plants will go to all sorts of ends to follow the sun, by making this bean maze
  • Playing with mirrors to direct sunlight where you want it. Be inspired by the communities in these valleys in Norway and Italy who alleviate winter darkness by redirecting the sun’s light with giant mirrors. Here’s a more fully fledged lesson plan for older kids which explores similar ground.
  • Carry out science experiments which require the sun. Here’s one to create clean(er) water. Here’s another which investigates UV light. Or what about this one which helps kids understand how sunscreen works?
  • If you liked this post you might like these other posts by me:

  • Solar powered jars of happiness (inspired by The Jar of Happiness by Ailsa Burrows)
  • Creating planets from polystyrene balls and marbling paints (inspired by The Usborne Big Book of Stars and Planets)
  • sunextras

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    Disclosure: I was sent a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

    3 Comments on How the Sun got to Coco’s House, last added: 1/22/2016
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    2. DECEMBER DISCOUNT DAYS...DAY 6!

    40% off a cheery little canary named Sunshine....on this sixth day of December!

    TODAY ONLY!


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    3. I Choose Sunshine and Laughter

    As we head into winter I thought it would be good to have a reminder of sunny days and summery good times to keep us warm when the cold finally hits. As I write this the weather is extraordinarily mild (for the UK!), the sun is shining away brightly, I'm not as yet huddled in front of the fire, and am enjoying every moment of light and clarity ... while it lasts. Here's a little print I've made to lift the spirits during the greyer months ahead, or just to provide an extra glow if you're lucky enough to live where it's warm all year long.

     

      11-I-Choose-Sunshine-and-Laughter-by-Floating-Lemons

     

    I re-coloured my Painted Flowers pattern for this, and cleaned it up further. Seemed perfect for this month, wouldn't you agree?

    As always, it's available as a free printable (along with the past 10 monthly designs for 2014) for all subscribers of the Floating Lemons monthly newsletter. If you'd like to sign up, just click here.

    Wishing you good humour for the week ahead. Cheers.

     

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    4. A symbol of what is to come….

    A symbol of what is to come....

    New life….


    0 Comments on A symbol of what is to come…. as of 3/2/2014 8:46:00 PM
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    5. Spring! Cometh!

     

     

    anipeepGif4

    Winter is on the way OUT!  I say this as a huge storm is coming into Colorado right NOW!!  No, I did not go to the grocery store in freak out mode stocking my cupboards. Instead, I spent a bit of time today digging in my garden resisting the urge to acknowledge the storm at all!  ha!

    Alas, tonight I will hunker down with my pens and paper and continue to work towards deadlines for up and coming trade shows. That is the good thing about storms!  They keep me focused.  I wonder how many artists are like me?

    I have one problem.  I can’t seem to go out to my studio to work.  It’s covered with papers, receipts, file folders etc.  It is my new book-keeping system in progress. Eeeeek!  My friend is helping me set up my Quick Books program.  She entered all my checks, deposits etc, and sent me the disk. I bought the program, installed it, imported my files… … then I went to reconcile the two bank statements that my friend did not add and suddenly I am thirty dollars off!  What on earth?  What could I have done?

    So, I did what I do best,  I locked the studio door and went in the house. ha!  My right brain is not in the mood for numbers!  Happy Spring everyone!

     


    6 Comments on Spring! Cometh!, last added: 4/9/2013
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    6. So Much For Being "Done"...

    A rare day-off for Lincoln's Birthday, the big kids all gone to friends' houses, and a little sunshine on the front patio means that my littlest can have fun playing out front while mom updates things on the laptop.

    Spring flowers have already arrived.

    Anyway, didn't I say I might just tweak the painting a little?  Well, that wasn't exactly true.  When it came down to it, I think I tweaked it a lot.  Of course, it may not look different but, with a little close observation, one might notice differences.  Frankly, I became frustrated with the 2 flowers on the right - they became rather muddled by overworking with to many colors - I even completely painted out the bottom one and started over.

    I think it's done - but I'm still not happy with the leaf - I'll just tweak it a little...

    Light was an interesting challenge as I had a changing light source (a south-facing window) to my left which caused moving shadows and a secondary interior light overhead/right which created shadows of its own.  I realized that I was giving conflicting information with cast shadows of the flower petals on both sides of the vase/creamer, but I liked the shapes and decided to keep them.  And that's what was truly liberating about this project compared with the first one which was much more dependent on observation.  For this one, I gave myself permission to use more artistic license and mostly responded to what was happening on the paper.  Besides liking the shapes of some of the shadows, I also liked the orange from the flowers reflected on the porcelain surface - it wasn't nearly as pronounced in real life, but I liked it in the painting.

    I still have dreams of one do doing a "quick" little still life that captures its essence with a minimum of strokes... (sigh)


    0 Comments on So Much For Being "Done"... as of 2/11/2013 8:24:00 PM
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    7. Sunshine on a Cold Day

    Rascal on a warmer day
    Rascal and I went on our usual walk this morning. Believe me, it was cold when we started out. The ground was frozen, with snow and ice still clinging to bits of the grass. I knew we needed the exercise, but the effort felt more like a chore than anything else. Something to get over with, so I could get back into my nice, warm house. 

    Then the sun came out!

    The temperature remained the same, but everything looked brighter. Not only that, I could feel the warmth of the sun shining on my face and even on my legs under my slacks. It's effect was amazing, transforming a frigid day to a pleasant one. Whereas before, I could hardly wait to get home, the sun's warmth made me want to walk further and enjoy it more.

    In a way, it reminded me of authors. We work hard in isolation to get our books finished, all the while wondering what readers will think of them. When our books are done, they're thrust out to walk on their own in the cold, cruel world. Will they have enough stamina to continue on, or be forced to retreat in defense from an onslaught of criticism?

    Then, magically, a reader says a kind word, or posts a nice review, and everything changes! 

    Such kind words are like sunshine to an author. They not only make the struggle worthwhile, but encourage us to carry on. They also give our books strength and longevity in the marketplace, making it possible for more readers to enjoy them.

    Thanks to everyone who has spent the time to write a review for any of my books, or told me in person or writing that you liked it. Your thoughtfulness is much appreciated! 

    Morgan Mandel

    Morgan Mandel's current release is
    Her Handyman, a romantic comedy,
    Find Morgan's romances, mysteries & thrillers at
    Follow On Twitter: @MorganMandel

    21 Comments on Sunshine on a Cold Day, last added: 1/6/2013
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    8. Paula's Take on "Sunhine"


    I did a number of black and white spot illustrations a few months ago for a book entitle "YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition" for Lobster Press. Some of the illustrations are of personified vitamins and minerals as superheroes. The boy above is Vitamin D. What is one of the best sources for vitamin D? Sunshine, of course!

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    9. Painting for fun


    \
    I’ve been doing some paintings, just to creatively ‘loosen up’ a little.
    Here is one of the pieces. This also has a companion piece which I will post at a later date! Hope you enjoy the work!

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    10. Petals and Rays





    Signs of spring! Blossoms of flowering cherry, dogwood and many other varieties I cannot name but I can capture them in my lens. Beautiful aren't they? Oh, and how marvelous they smell!


    Tomorrow I am off to shop for flowers for the garden. It is suppose to be cool and rain but I won't let that stop me, no, not with this type of encouragement egging me on.

    The sunshine and rays streaming through the clouds; lovely aren't they? My husband said, "capture them please." "Oh yes" I say. God has touched the petals and the rays with his brush of magnificence.

    3 Comments on Petals and Rays, last added: 5/13/2008
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    11. 200

    Hello everyone!! Thanks for visiting. Today Sunshine and I are celebrating my 200th blog post! There is lots to share with you, so please read on...

    Here I am posting my latest illustration in my Flower Girls series:
    I am creating this series to sell as note cards/invitations when I launch my new online shop in July. They will all be printed in color (as the first girl is in the post below), and sold as a set of 6 (or 8..I have not decided yet). I will also be selling full-color prints of many of my other illustrations, including Halloween and Sea Princess.


    Now, on to the fun stuff. A couple of months ago, Joan tagged me to list 10 facts about myself. For the sake of saving space (and because I cannot think of that many interesting things), I am adding my own twist to the list! So here are My Five Favorites for June 2008:

    1. I love unusual scents, such as wool, silk, rain and lime peel.
    2. Robert Reed, the actor who played Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch...well, he was my cousin. He was born John Robert Rietz. I never met him and he died in '92, but he is buried back here in Skokie, IL. I guess that makes me a Brady. Sort of. : )
    3. I laugh when I am in pain. No, really. Ask my sister. She thinks it is the funniest thing in the world when I stub a toe or smack my head on a shelf because pain makes me laugh.
    4. I love listening to this when I am painting or drawing. You can go to Pandora.com and create a sound track for your drawing session. So cool!
    5. I love looking at photos of beautiful food and reading the recipes. In fact, unleash me in Borders and I head straight for the food magazines, grab 2 or 3, and sit for hours reading them from cover to cover. Occasionally, I will even BUY one. But my latest tasty morsel is this website! This photo below makes my mouth water. And chef Russell James even holds classes. So if I am ever in the UK, I will have to look him up.
    (photo courtesy of The Raw Chef Blog and chef Russell James) The most amazing part of this Cacao Pistachio Florentine & Mint Ice Cream Sandwich is that is is raw and it is vegan.


    I still have news I want to tell you all, but I can't yet. The suspense is killing me! But you never count your chickens before they are hatched, and so I'll wait. I'll wait until it is official and all my ducks are in a row. Hee hee....enough about chickens and ducks, this post is turning fowl. : ) (sorry, couldn't resist)

    Thanks to all my peeps (another fowl pun) who have visited my blog on a regular basis and have been kind enough to leave me comments or email me. I am looking forward to the next 200 posts with all of you! Fo' shizzle. : )

    27 Comments on 200, last added: 7/10/2008
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    12. Walkin' on Sunshine



    It doesn't get any better than Katrina and the Waves. Who doesn't feel perky when they hear that song. I know I do, and it has been stuck in my head for days now. But I don't mind, it is one of the 80's ultimate feel good songs. They had huge success in the 80s.

    Think about it. Here is a group from England who hits the big time in the US and Canada. In fact I think I might just make this my new theme song. Come on people, SING WITH ME!

    And to add to my sunshine, I have received another "meme" award. I think it is totally cool that people think my Blog is worth recognition, no matter the form. I really appreciate the sentiment. I also appreciate that each of you who follow and read my Blog do so by choice.



    So today's recognition comes from Joan De La Haye. She has bestowed on me the Butterfly Award, and I graciously accept. The rules are as follows.

    This is a ‘meme’ award (what ever that means), but who cares. It’s fun and it’s sweet. So, the rules for passing it along are

    1. Put the logo on your blog.
    2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
    3. Award up to ten other blogs.
    4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
    5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

    So the ten sites I would like to honor with this cool award are as follows, in no particular order.

    1. Tim Broderick
    2. Austin Camacho
    3. Gayle Carline
    4. Lorraine Bartlett
    5. Yvonne Eve Walus
    6. M.K. Scott
    7. Robert Goldsborough
    8. Teagan Oliver
    9. Oak Tree Press
    10. Princess Neve

    So now I say, go forth and share the sunshine.



    © Karen L. Syed



    9 Comments on Walkin' on Sunshine, last added: 1/15/2009
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    13. Things I've Been Doing Instead of Drawing....

    I'm having one of those Life-Gets-In-The-Way sort of week... Wanting to work in the studio every day, but stuff, besides doing things like flying across the country for the weekend, continues to come up -

    Spent one evening taking my Sondheim-loving daughter downtown to see "Sunday In the Park With George" (which I related to much more now than the first time I saw it. All that crazy-obsessive-artist stuff! Hmmmmm....... :-)
    I volunteered to put together a card for the owner of the house we stayed in for our spring retreat - with a Thank You piece of art from all of us. I enjoy making these things, but they always take longer than I had planned. So, another evening Not Drawing.

    Spent some time researching mini-laptops (Michelle is shown here with her new baby Asus Eee). I'm traveling more now, and as much as I love my chartreuse green 17" Dell Inspiron, it is *heavy* and cumbersome to lug around in airports. 'Would like a small, light-weight one for travel. (Anyone out there have a 10" laptop you recommend?)

    Attended critique meeting with my fellow POBL-ites. This is one amazing, hard-working, well-published group of women! (And our meetings take an entire evening...)

    But probably the most time consuming thing of all -
    as a result of that UFO up in the sky (some people call it "the sun" - a thing we don't see so much of in this part of the world at this time of year) -

    -I've *had* to spend a number of sun-drenched hours out in the yard, working on the gardens and various beds that have been so neglected over the past couple of deadline-heavy summers. (See all my parsley babies coming up here? So much new plant life. So gratifying to be out amongst....)
    I'm sure I'll get more studio hours in as soon as it starts raining again. Could be any minute now.

    6 Comments on Things I've Been Doing Instead of Drawing...., last added: 4/27/2009
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    14. sunshine illustrations

    oiseauxnoirshine by poppytalk.freyaArtsun by poppytalk.

    Some sunny illustrations I found on Poppy Talk by Oiseaux NoirFreya Art 

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    15. Sunshine


    The magical kind of sunshine - lots of lightning bugs!

    1 Comments on Sunshine, last added: 8/10/2009
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    16. Paula's Take on "Sunshine"


    A little spot drawing done for Happy House.

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    17. ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY ~ STRONG


    It's not magic!
    Fresh air, sunshine and vitamins have a direct effect on one's health.

    12 Comments on ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY ~ STRONG, last added: 9/9/2009
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    18. Meet Sunshine!


    Every artist needs an assistant. This is Sunshine. She is my happy girl. :)

    8 Comments on Meet Sunshine!, last added: 10/3/2009
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    19. Daffodils have RISEN!



    Happy Easter you guys! To celebrate spring I've created these two Abstract Variations. Sunshine and warmth are on the way people! Hal-ay-lu-ya!

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    20. Another Chance


    Another Chance

    How often we wish for yet another chance tomake a fresh beginning.
    A chance to blot out our mistakes and change failure into winning.
    It does not take a special time to make abrand new start.
    It only takes the deep desire to try with all our heart.
    To live a little better, to always beforgiving.
    To add a little sunshine in a world for which we're living.
    Never give up in despair nor think you arethrough.
    For there's always a tomorrow, a chance to start a new.


    Author Unknown

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    21. Illustration Friday: Stripes


    Cats will do anything to find a sunny spot.
    This is a painting of my old cat Biff who graced my life for nearly seventeen years.
    He had malnutrition and pneumonia and weighed 5 pounds when I adopted (stole) him from his neglectful owners.
    He showed his gratitude for life every single day.

    Meanwhile, I started my new job at the veterinary hospital on Tuesday. I have put in nearly 30 hours in 3 days which is why I've been so scarce, yet again.
    It will take some time to get acclimated to these hours, but so far it's going well.
    Everyone is nice and helpful, but best of all I get to hold puppies again and greet so many new fur friends!
    Oh, and getting a paycheck again? Priceless!

    I hope to visit you all soon. It looks like I've missed a million posts!

    xo
    Lo♥

    26 Comments on Illustration Friday: Stripes, last added: 11/8/2011
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    22. Medvedev’s Election Victory

    Marhsall Goldman is a Professor of Economics Emeritus at Wellesley College and Senior Scholar at the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. In his forthcoming book, Petrostate: Putin, Power, and the New Russia , Goldman chronicles Russia’s dramatic reemergence on the world stage, illuminating the key reason for its rebirth: the use of its ever-expanding energy wealth to reassert its traditional great power ambitions. In the article below Goldman reflects on Medvedev’s recent victory in the Russian elections and on what it means for Russia.

    Dmitri Medvedev’s election (or more accurately, selection) as president of Russia was not much of a cliffhanger. By eliminating any viable contender, his patron, Vladimir Putin did all he could to ensure his protégé’s election. For many Russians, there was little point in even bothering to show up at the polling station–everything had been decided in advance. Except for Medvedev, no other candidate (or even a potential candidate) was allowed meaningful access to TV, much less campaign funding. Large public rallies were restricted, if not banned outright. (more…)

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    23. So Long Huckabee

    David Domke is Professor of Communication and Head of Journalism at the University of Washington. Kevin Coe is a doctoral candidate in Speech Communication at the University of Illinois. They are authors of the The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America. To learn more about the book check out their handy website here, to read more posts by them click here.  In the post below they bid farewell to Mike Huckabee.

    On Tuesday, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee finally gave up on his bid to win the GOP presidential nomination. Let us be among the first to say good riddance. (more…)

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    24. Illustration Friday - "Pet Peeves" & an Easter I will never forget!

    © Kathleen Rietz
    One of my biggest pet peeves is gossip. We all know what it feels like to be the target. Makes you not want to go to school.
    © Kathleen Rietz (the elusive Easter Skunk)
    Just after 10pm on Saturday night, my dog Sunshine had a run-in with - among all things - the Easter Skunk. I let her out into the yard to do her business, but she never even made her way off the patio before she was sprayed in the face by a skunk. For those of you who do not have skunks in your part of the world in which you live and have never smelled the aroma emitted by these creatures of darkness, I cannot even begin to describe the smell to you because nothing compares to it. But it is oily, deep, intense and nauseating. My friend Joan who lives in Hawaii found my story rather amusing because she "thought these things only happened in cartoons"....like Pe Pe Le Pew. Needless to say, I nearly cleared out the drug store as I waited in line to pay for my remedy.....NO ONE would stand next to me. I also did not make it to church today to celebrate Easter. Nor brunch at the country club where my sister works. No one wants to eat an omelet in a room that smells of skunk funk.

    Anyhoo - if any of you are interested, here is how you get rid of skunk funk:

    On your pet, shampoo the pet with a mixture of:
    1 pint hydrogen peroxide
    1/4 cup baking soda
    1 tsp Dawn liquid dish soap
    Leave on pet for 10 minutes, rinse.

    In your house:
    In a large pot, boil water, Clorox bleach and salt on your stove on high heat for several hours. I was so pleasantly surprised to find how well this one works! We boiled the pot all day and the smell is actually gone!

    I hope you all had a much more relaxing and enjoyable Easter weekend than I did. I am looking forward to hitting a post-Easter candy sale to soothe my psyche with a chocolate marshmallow bunny if I can still find one!

    42 Comments on Illustration Friday - "Pet Peeves" & an Easter I will never forget!, last added: 4/1/2008
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    25. Illustration Friday - "Homage"

    ©Kathleen Rietz
    Paying homage to childhood...
    It is said that, as artists, every piece of art we create is a self portrait. I can definitely say this illustration is "me". Regardless of my age on the outside, I am still this girl dancing on my bed with my dog and making lots of noise.
    I am still working out some of the details in the bed and overall proportions, but I hope to take this to color in the future.

    42 Comments on Illustration Friday - "Homage", last added: 4/4/2008
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