Friday, December 6, 2019

POTLANDIA...is just a name


PORTLAND OREGON is known as Potlandia but around my house it means something else entirely.

I have my own hanging gardens. Of course, it's just a few potted plants I have perched up on my picket fence but I think it's pretty.

But then, when the cold weather and holidays roll around, I want to transform my fence into a holiday display so I update the little pots with floral stems I've purchased at Joann Fabric and Crafts




I used red and white paint because if I’d used red and green in the garden, the green wouldn't have shown up. And white makes the plants pop!



After the paint dried I stenciled some fun festive words on the front like Hope, Wish, Dream, Love, Inspire, and - of  course - believe.


This was a fun, easy craft, and I love to watch people walk past the house and stop to get a word of encouragement as they go on by.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

I'm Dreaming of a . . . Pink Christmas

Some people dream  of snow...not me, I prefer a warm, cozy Christmas. And what could be better than spending the cold weather inside, crafting?

This is an old craft I've done before...but believe me, I'm working on new ones but I thought I'd share this oldie but still a goodie one with you.

This is an easy tree to make. Don't feel restrained to go small; you can make it as big as you want.

All you need is a little tulle, which you can pick up at any fabric store. And, if pink isn't your color, you can go green with a green tree...

Or purple, if you prefer.

Here's how to do it. Lay out your fabric 

Then cut it into strips
Use a dowel and a heavy piece of wood to hold the tree and simply start stacking your strips...
It's as simple as that - then add a star

And you could be finished there. Or pull out your handy-dandy 
glue gun

And then add whatever embellishments you like...I like sparkly rhinestones or fake gemstones

And voila - you'll have a pink or green or even purple Christmas! But no matter what color you prefer,  I hope it's a  healthy, happy and fun-filled Holiday!




Sunday, November 24, 2019

Thanksgiving is Almost Here . . . Be Brave!

With the holidays coming … I'm getting ready to do some serious baking. But before I pull out the rolling pin and flour, I'm trying to remember some of the cakes I've made in the past. And, maybe by taking a moment to remember, I won't make the same mistakes.

But believe me, I'm going to be trying some new things (this is where I'm trying to be brave) so there will undoubtedly be a few fails, flops and hopefully even a few things that turn out.

I know they can't all be winners and my family will be sure to tell  me which ones are the failures.


But, I thought I'd share one fun Thanksgiving cupcake and one fantastic flop of a cake I made one year. Of course, I think it's almost okay that this failure looks so miserable, I mean after all we're all getting ready to eat him. And even though he didn't turn out as cute as I wanted, he still tasted okay...at least if you can tell by how quickly he disappeared.







Anyway, I hope you have some fantastic baked goods for your holiday feast. And, if you do, please share a link to your blog or a photo in the comments, so I can take a peek - I'm always looking for inspiration to create more delicious goodies. 

And, I wanted to wish you all  a HAPPY THANKSGIVING! 



Monday, October 14, 2019

Jack Skellington inspired Halloween Project


Have you ever wanted to decorate for the holidays? Well, I always want to do something spectacular but somehow time always seems to get away from me and I have to settle for whatever I can do at the last minute.

Like this year, I wanted to have a Jack Skellington inspired ghoul in my yard by October 1st for all the neighborhood kids to enjoy... but, like I said, time slipped away too fast and by the middle of October I was suddenly aware that the month would be over in a flash. So I  recruited my sons and husband to help me out. And with their help, my Jack  was up and "grinning" at the neighborhood in no time. Well...maybe I should say grimacing over the neighborhood ;D

Anyway, here are a few photos of the process.

The guys started with a sketch of what they were going to do. Then they went to work building the "bones" of the figure out of 2 X 4's.

Once they had the basic structure put together, I went to work painting.

After all the wood was painted a dark gray, Jacob put the head on the top (which was over 15 feet in the air) and then I started dressing him in a thin sheet of black (weed barrier) cloth. The reason I used this was because water will run through the fabric without weighing the character down. This is an important piece of the project in Portland, Oregon. But before I got all his clothes on, Jacob had to light him up.





Jacob put one large red light bulb inside Jack's skull and hid the wire and the bulb (with a little work).


Then Jacob had to help me get his shirt on because, like I said, my Jack is super tallllllll. But even  after all that he still wasn't finished.


Next, I had to make his hands and get those attached. I wanted his fingers really loooooong and creepy...like spider legs. So with the help of duct tape (that miracle material) I think I did it. The only problem is that the guys think his fingers are too long (what do you think?)
I also strung together a few skulls for Jack to carry back to his lair and then I laid out some bones in the yard around Jack's feet.

All-in-all, this was a very fun family project to kick the holiday season into gear. 

Now to finish my witch....Mwah-ha-ha! But, before I go, I just want to wish all the ghouls and goblins out there a....

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

SHAMROCK RUN - PORTLAND 2019

So almost every year I run...the Shamrock Run in Portland Oregon - because it is a Fun-Run...

People  dress up--they run in tutus and all sorts of garb, but it's always green! And at the end of the run there's green beer and some hearty Irish food to re-carb-load up on.

Plus runs are always more fun when you do them with friends. And we have a group of gals that get together to do a few fun runs...

But this year. . . I got injured running with my dog and pulled my meniscus--in 3 places

So, this year, we're doing a shortened version of our usual run. We'll be doing the 5k this time around and hoping we'll be able to build up over the next few months. Anyway, here are some of the fun photos we took from Shamrock runs over the years. And oh my gosh!!! The years have flown.

 2011
And 2012
And 2013

2014

I guess I forgot to take photos for a couple years but I remember I ran them with Blanch

Maybe she has some photos I can grab...Blanch...?

here's 2017


 And 2018

I'll have to add some after this year's run.

2019...here we come!
.

Monday, October 29, 2018

THE TURNING - an interview with Emily Whitman


A selkie boy’s quest for a seal pelt takes him into the bewildering world of humans. When you’re born between worlds, what does it mean to belong?

Emily Whitman is a true Portlandian. She uses myth and magic in her stories for kids and teens. Her latest book, The Turning, is based on Celtic folklore and  is a Junior Library Guild selection. 
When I heard she had a new story to share, I had so many questions I wanted to ask her that I decided  to do an interview so I could share it with all my KidLit friends, both readers and writers.
So, here it is, my interview with the awe...mazing Emily Whitman, a local Portland author (and her answer to #7 is my favorite). 

Tell me something unique/unusual that isn't in your bio.

I was raised on so much poetry, I can talk in rhymed couplets off the cuff. Dactyls a specialty!

 Tell me how you drink your coffee (or what you drink instead)

Black. Or with cream. Or, for special writing outings, a cappuccino. I’m a little hard to pin down.

Then I asked Emily to answer the following:

1. Tell us about your novel's main character.

Aran is a selkie boy raised at sea, but he’s different from the rest of his clan: he was born without the pelt that will transform him into a sleek, powerful seal. His quest for a pelt really takes him out of his element! He encounters humans for the first time and has to reevaluate his preconceptions about them, and about himself. He finds bravery and self-discovery in a totally unexpected way.

Why did you want to write about him?

I was entranced by the mystery and magic of selkies. They’re both animal and human, ocean and land – the essence of constant change. But to be a selkie without a pelt! To think you’ll never truly belong unless you can be like everyone else, and then to have to find your own way of belonging! I experienced every step (and stroke) of this journey with him.

2. Do you write with an intended audience in mind? ie levels of violence or romance.

I try not to impose any self-censorship when I’m writing a first draft—I just want to let the story come. I can trim things like the violence level later. This book takes place over the year when Aran is 11. Honestly, the hardest age-related challenge was finding the places I used my words instead of his! For example, I loved a line where Aran described human clothes as “a travesty of a pelt.” As perfect as it was to capture the feeling, “travesty” had to go. As for romance, I enjoyed that in the two YA novels I wrote, but with this book I was eager to explore the friendship between Aran and a human girl, Nellie. The nuances of that deep, profound connection. How friends help us both survive and become strong enough to be our true selves.

3. Once the first draft is written, what do you do next?

It’s so hard to say it’s done enough to call it a first draft! I finally force myself to that point, and then I take a break. After a bit, I pull back and look at it from a wider story lens, asking bigger questions. How does the pacing move across the book as a whole? What are the moments everything changes—are they the right ones? Have I made the most of them? What’s getting in the way of the story? Do the important story lines ring out at the right places and does each have its own arc?

4. How much rewriting or self-editing takes place?

So much! Too much! Perfectionism is a curse. I can hone a paragraph—a phrase—a word!—over and over again. There’s a fine line between redoing it because it’s not quite right, and beating it into a bloody pulp. I’m so obsessed with getting the words and lines right, it’s hard for me to step back and say: Now look at the big stuff! Another problem with rewriting so much is the words wear grooves into my mind so it’s harder to imagine it differently. I try to remember that old saying, “The best is the enemy of the good.” I made it to the first full draft by chanting “Don’t get it right, just get it written!”

5. Do you use beta readers?
Yes. Before I start digging in on the revision I get feedback from a trusted reader or two. I’ve learned to limit the number of readers, no matter how amazing and gifted they are, so I don’t have too many other voices swirling around in my head!  At the end of the day I have to hear my own voice, and find and trust my own vision.

 6. Do you use promotional materials? swag, bookmarks, etc.

For The Turning I have bookmarks and stickers.

7. Are they effective?

I have no idea! I just know I like having something to put in someone’s hand. Especially for school visits. Not every kid can buy a book, but I want them all to walk away with something—a connection both to the book and to the time we spent together.

 8. Do you have places you recommend (this can be any place bookstores, travel sites, restaurants)?

The spark of this book came to me on a visit to the Skellig Islands off the coast of Ireland. You climb 670 steps to the top of a steep pinnacle and enter stone huts built by monks who were there as early as the 700s! Nature, spirit, and beauty combine in an awesome experience. And there are puffins. If you ever have a chance, go!

10. Quick answer questions:
a. What are your top 3 favorite tv shows: The Avengers from the 1960s with Diana Rigg as Emma Peel, The Great British Baking Show, and dark Nordic mysteries
b. If you suddenly couldn't write anymore, what would you do instead? I’m loving teaching writing workshops. I do workshops on writing MG and YA novels at The Attic Institute in Portland. I’d do more of that.

c. Favorite season of the year: Autumn. Crisp, cool bright days. Shimmering golden leaves. And I get to bake and make soup.
d. a book you could read over and over: Skellig, by David Almond.
e. favorite kind of ice cream: Vanilla—because of how it melts on berry pie and pear tart and pumpkin pie and blueberry shortcake, and… You get the idea!

Keep connected with Emily:




Social Media Links: facebook.com/emilywhitman, Instagram: @emilywhitmanbooks
 Amazon Page: