Monday, 27 June 2011

5 Books a Day: week 5

Okay, yes it has been a while since we participated in this fantastic literacy challenge, hosted by Anna @ The Imagination Tree, but I've decided it is high time that we jump right back in (so to speak) with some of the new books my darling daughter (DD) received for her big 3yo birthday just over a week ago.

I have only taken one picture of our books this week ...

When I'm Feeling SAD, written and illustrated by Trace Moroney.  Everyone feels SAD sometimes.  It's a quiet, lonely feeling.  But it can often help to talk to someone about it. (blurb)  
I love this series - its such a great tool in helping you to talk about the various feelings we as humans experience throughout our lifetimes with our little ones.  This is one in a series of eight books I gave my daughter in a box set this past week.  The pictures are both cute and emotive.  They really help you delve into the topic (or feeling of note) and give children a safe context in which to discuss what they feel and how they can work through and experience that emotion in healthy, positive ways.

When I'm Feeling HAPPY, written and illustrated by Trace Moroney.  So many things can make you HAPPY.  Playing with friends, a special treat - or just a big hug. (blurb)
A second book from the same series.  Bright, bubbly and fresh illustrations alongside fantastic text that helps little ones explore what it feels like to be happy, ways they might explore happiness - even that "feeling happy helps me to have more patience and helps me not to get angry over small problems ... and makes me feel more kind and caring towards others."

The Magic Balloon, written by Oakley Graham, illustrated by Dan Crisp.  Many, many years ago, in the city of Montreal, lived a boy called Will, who was very, very tall.  Will was a great inventor and was over the moon, when he created the world's first magic balloon.  New and emerging readers will love to read about Will's adventures in his magic balloon, and will be captivated by the colour-changing balloon light. (blurb)
Such a creatively thought-up adventure for children, written in rhyming prose and illustrated in seemingly hand-painted imagery.  A gorgeous little story with a balloon light in the centre of the page which changes colour and gives it that little added-extra, though the amount of detail included in the illustrations is amazing.  A much loved gift from her god-mother.

Sesame Street My First Library: Abby Cadabby's Rhyme Time, by P.J. Shaw, illustrated by Tom Leigh.  
The much loved Sesame Street character Abby explores rhyming words - "you know, words that end with the same sound, like bat and cat!  Rhymes are so fun to find!".  As Abby goes along she does just that - looks for a word and then thinks up other words which rhyme with this original word.  A very cute book that explores this ultra-important concept; with gorgeous, dynamic illustrations featuring all your favourite Sesame Street monsters and puppets throughout.  As soon as I saw this one in the store I knew I had to get it for DD!

And last, but definitely not least ....

Sesame Street My First Library: Elmo Goes to the Doctor, by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Tom Brannon.
This month DD and I have had at least one visit to the doctor each week for various reasons and so when I saw this one at the shop I thought that this would be a good one to help us talk about what had happened when we went there - we really hadn't been all that regularly before this at all, and then five visits in as many weeks?!!!
This book is a delightful tale of a worried little Elmo ("Elmo really feels fine, Mummy," he said.  "Let's just go home.") who has to go to the doctor for a checkup and a shot.  The doctor checks his height, weight, breathing, heartbeat, ears, throat etc... A cute little story about all the different things a doctor might check when you go to the doctor for a routine health check - and later, if you eat "all the monstermallows out of the Monster Flakes cereal box"!  A fun, simple tool to help facilitate a discussion about going to the doctor in a positive way.

** Well, they are the books we are looking to read each day this week.  We didn't get to them this week (only just decided on our selection), but will make a great effort to read each at least once a day.

If you are looking for some more great options for reading with little kids, why not head over to Anna's host post for the challenge this week and have a look at the other book selections the other wonderful mothers are reading with their children this week.  I often find titles I'm either introduced to new (to me) titles, or reminded of beloved one's I've forgotten about from my own childhood, when reading the other participants' posts.

Friday, 24 June 2011

My 1st Quilt Blocks reveal ...

Cathy has informed me that she has received her blocks, mentioned in today's earlier blog, and that - thankfully - she liked them.  This means that I am now able to show them off, so to speak.  Keep in mind, I am still undecided about the first, though I really enjoyed the second (simpler) block.

The first was an 'Annie's Choice' block, with added border (due to originally cutting the HST squares 1/8in too small) ...

The second was an 'Antique Tile' block ... 

So there we have it.  Two quilt blocks done, sent and received.  Now I only have 7 blocks pending plus my H2H quilt top to do asap!

Finally some sewing .... yay!!

Last month I enthusiastically 'put my hand up' to join in with a few quilt block swaps.  Well ... with all that was going on last month and the first half of this one, I didn't get much done at all!  I must admit that I let the stress I was feeling just totally get the better of me.  Colour me depressed!  I did a bit of crochet work, though the sewing machine didn't get much of a look in ... until this last week!  [My FNSI didn't eventuate though unfortunately as I was trying to get things organised for my daughter's birthday ... more about that later]

I finished off two (yes ... two!!) quilt blocks, though admitted the the first frustrated me to (literal) tears, especially when I realised that I had cut the squares for the HST's 1/8in too small!  I couldn't believe it!  **To say I'm not convinced of the fabulous-ity of HSTs is an understatement atm!**  This made for a block that was too small.  After then trying to put on three different sized borders (gradually bigger each time) I finally finished it to a raw 12in squared.  The left over fabric was sent through to Cathy (my wonderfully understanding first partner) to finish it off to 12.5in if necessary, as I really was ready to throw it in and never do any more ever again!!!  Here's a sneak peek (I'll show the full blocks once she's received them)...

The second block felt much more my speed.  There were squares and rectangles ... and it just worked!  Although I did triple-check measurements, use a water-soluble marker to mark the 1/4in sewing lines, and ensured each piece of the block was exactly the size it needed to be once sewn together with its neighbour ... this one actually took less time, and I was Much less frustrated by the end.  I actually enjoyed making up this one! Sneak peek #2 ...

Cathy's request was for any block in autumn colours.  I really hope these work for you Cathy - looking at these fabrics evoked my idea of autumn, though as I've never actually experienced autumn I could be wrong.  Please let me know if these fabrics do not fit with the blocks you have already received!


On a separate note, we celebrated my daughter's 3rd birthday last week, having a nice extended family gathering at home on Saturday night.  I started throwing these 'family' parties with the extended family in my father's line (my mother's side of the family lives down south) during her first birthday, especially as we'd lost my grandmother a couple of months earlier and the importance of family was of high priority.  We have enjoyed getting together for this little celebration each year with a kind-of 'Christmas in July' style dinner with roast turkey and lamb/pork with roast vegies for dinner and pavlova, fruit salad and cake for dessert. Yum!  This year I gave my daughter a choice of types of cake she could have (1st birthday was cupcakes decorated in one of four designs; 2nd birthday was a lion) ... she chose the cat.  So here 'she' is ....

Cake: Home-made butter cake (the very best sort!); one 23cm round and one 27cm round cake tin.
Icing: Chocolate (cocoa) home-made butter icing spread all over, sides included.
Decorations: grated milk and 70% dark chocolate, coconut, mini silver cachous, marshmellow (eyes), smarties and licorice.

Very yummy .... and there was enough that we still have half its head in our fridge, slowly working our way through it, though atm we need to zap it in the microwave for 10secs to soften it up as it is a little dry straight from the fridge.

Well, off to drop my big three year old down for a (very late!) nap before getting on to my 6in blocks for Monica, some vacuming and mopping, then some more overdue blocks to work on later tonight!  Thankfully I've already figured out the patterns to follow ... using mainly squares and rectangles till I get comfortable with them!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Friday Night Sew In - this week!

Friday Night Sew-in fun continues this month, this coming Friday 17th June - and it is 'free' to join in the fun. Just sign in for this month's evening with Bobbi over at Crafty Vegas Mom and get ready to spend an enjoyable night sewing to your heart's content!

While it is my daughter's birthday on Thursday - and her birthday party with the extended family on Saturday - I am hoping I will get in at least a couple hours of sewing fun!  I am even going to make sure I am super organised for it this month - ensuring everything possible is ready early on, and putting my daughter down super early with an early nap or just a light rest!  I will also try to get all the cleaning done in the morning rather than late afternoon, with a couple of hours sewing doing in the afternoon if I can manage it!  Wish me luck!!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Drawing course ... done!

Yay!  Finally those last three months of my life, during which I was trying to imitate being someone I'm not (someone blessed with a great drawing ability), has come to a close.  I can now rest,  put my feet up ... and begin my new unit - entitled 'Creative and Professional Writing'!  A unit chosen as an elective, and for its pure 'writing' content!  Fabulous!! **sigh of relief ... grin**

So, what has been keeping me away from the sewing machine, or much of any crafts over the last few weeks?  I'll show you... a taste.

I had to submit a total of seven drawings: four of which had to be either line or tone figures of the human image (head to toe) or head studies; and three from either a gridded study or text based image.  And, oh crap - I've just realised I had that wrong!  It was supposed to be five and two!!  And it's already sent - after receiving a (very long) extension!

Oh well, can't change things now.  It's done, it's gone.  I just hope and pray that what has been sent is enough to get me over that 'pass' line!!  I CANNOT deal with having to repeat this unit!  Too much stress - for me, and my family!!

So, I won't show the human figure drawings (thank goodness one of the images showed two drawings of two differing poses, now that I think about it - hopefully that is accepted as two *fingers crossed*) as they are c*%p in my opinion!!  I Hate drawing the human figure - especially when you are supposed to do the figures gesturally, in a confined space of time!!  Even when I have heaps of time I get flustered and frustrated!!

For the 'Head Studies', I included two.  Keep in mind as you are looking at them, that these were drawn from photoes, turned into black and white shots, with a grid over them to help me try to get proportions looking 'right'.  These were done after many, many, many previous attempts, both 'in person' and from a photo, free-hand.  That did not work.  This way,  at least my daughter could recognise 'who' I was trying to draw!

So, first up is my daughter asleep ...

Graphite pencil & charcoal
The next is my cousin.  In the photo I took this study from she was looking down at her phone ...

Graphite pencil & charcoal.
 It looks better from afar.  

Then there were some text based images.  For these we really didn't get much direction, just suggestions such as "drawing incorporating some aspect of a letter, symbol, word, text, language, typography or calligraphy in its construction."  For me ... blah!  I couldn't come up with anything 'original', so I ended up deciding to do a couple of 'letter tiles'.  You know, those pages in kids really basic alphabet books where they have the letter and then an image of something that begins with that particular letter.  Yeah, those.  I decided to just fancy up the lettering and follow the 'how to' directions of a nifty drawing book I found in Dad's bookshelf.

I have put these side-by-side, though they are actually on two separate A2 pieces of paper.

Ink (letters) and graphite pencil (animals)
Last, but not least was my gridded study.  As most of the above pictures took me quite a few hours (we're talking between 3 and 5 hours each with much rubbing out and self-depreciation!!) I decided to stick close to the recommendations to "try to be true to the abstract pattern of each square rather than becoming distracted by your belief as to what you think the image 'should' look like...a minute or two should be sufficient time to render each square, so the exercise can be completed within an hour or two."  I think I spent a little longer than a 'minute or two', but I restricted myself to about 4 minutes each square (photo gridded out into 30 (6 x 5) 'squares').  I found that 'drawing' the lighter shades before adding in the darker shades worked better ... as evidenced in the top two squares on the top left in comparison to the rest of the page.

I was actually pretty happy with this one when I stood back from it.  It is supposed to be a picture of two baubles on the Christmas tree.

Christmas baubles, Christmas 2009.
So, now I can breathe.

I can get out some sewing - and I have a few urgent projects to get on to asap, so I'll try to post on these later today or tomorrow.  I have received a couple of blocks from my swaps already - thankyou ladies!  I am truly sorry I am late with these, but I am hoping to get a couple in the post this afternoon!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

No Wonder I wasn't feeling fabulous!!

Since Saturday evening I haven't been feeling well.

It started off with a bit of a funny-feeling in my head, and then pain that only nurofen, then panadeine forte would dull.

Then Tuesday morning, about 5.30am-ish, I woke up needing to go to the toilet (yeah, I know, TMI!) with a REALLY sore throat.  I got to the toilet and back to my room alright, but then when I went to get my panadeine forte everything suddenly began to get really fuzzy and whirrly ... until I knocked my head on the bookshelf.
I have only once before in my life fainted (and that was out of SEVERE pain when I had a MASSIVE cyst on my backside, about 4 months after I had my daughter ... just as I was trying to get myself into the shower under some HOT water as the hot water bottle wasn't enough!  Long TMI story there, lol) ... but I think that if I hadn't hit my head, alerting me 'awake', I would have fainted dead away!  I was able to amble my way back over to my bed and get back under the covers before I was out of it until my daughter woke me up.

Monday and (though, mostly) Tuesday was spent in a drug-induced (panadeine forte piggy-backed with nurofen when the pain was back too much to tolerate, though it was too soon to have another dose of the former) haze, generally dozing the day away on the couch while my daughter was entertained by Playschool, Mickey Mouse, sticking & pasting shapes on a sheet of cardstock and her dolls house.  Not good.

To top it all off, my daughter was also developing her own head cold (runny & stuffed up nose) and last night woke at 11.45pm; crying her little eyes out, adamant that she was going to be (or had been - nope) "really sick".   She kept going out to the bathroom, balling her little eyes out, to lean over the sink and have a couple of really big, chesty coughs, only to cough up .... very little.  It took almost an hour to calm her down enough that she could go back to sleep.  She was also complaining of very sore ears.

Thankfully I was able to get an appointment for this morning (though earlier would have been better, I didn't call until Tuesday) and so my daughter and I toddled off to the doctor only to discover that ...

a) I have tonsillitis.  Yay! (NOT!)  Though, this means I now have anti-biotics that should help me get better ... and a new prescription for that wonderful drug panadeine forte, which I only had another two left of - yes, I WAS only taking one at a time!  This appointment also meant I could get a medical certificate for my uni as I still have one drawing to do - and I'd had to request another extension to next week as I haven't been able to focus at all on it!  God Bless my tutor - she's been a god-send!!

b) My daughter has a head-cold.  Yes, well, I knew that.  What I didn't know ... she also has a very possible bacterial infection (evidenced by a few different things, though mainly some very red ears).

So she also has some anti-biotics to nix that, but she is cleared to go to childcare tomorrow.  Which is great since I really need to try to focus on this drawing!  Thankfully it's only a 'gridded study' - which is where I take a photo, grid it off and then make a greyscale-type copy of this with charcoal or conte (two of my LEAST favourite mediums!)

So, this week so far ... no drawings, no sewing, not much.

Tomorrow: I am aiming to get to work on this drawing and make (and post off) my 12 inch quilt block swap for last month though.  It seemed to get pushed down further and further on the 'to do' list and is now VERY late.  My apologies Cathy!!!

God Willing, I can get back on my feet quickly!!
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