Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book club days ...

Thursday was our third meeting.

I know ... where have my posts been? I call it "Momma Brain Fizzle" - a diagnosis of this common ailment covers all areas of forgetfulness, tardiness and plum craziness :)

Here's a little catch-up:

We kicked off our first meeting with a trip to our city's Annual Arts Festival where we took in the inspiring sights, yummy food and amazing talent. Unfortunately, storms were brewing for the day and I left my camera at home with the fear that we would get caught in a downpour ... and guess what? .... we didn't. Doesn't it always seem to work out that way? :)

One of the highlights of the event was meeting Wildlife Photographer Mark Thomas. His work is incredible ... he travels the globe, above sea and below, to capture the most amazing photos. Truly, his gallery is stunning and quite educational. Stop by his spot on the web to view some breathtaking shots. My son picked a beautiful print to give my husband for father's day ...

... magnificent, isn't it? This will soon be displayed after my hubby reclaims the playroom as his own (but, really, it will be the family room - but, shhhh... don't tell him that!)

The festival offered such a wide variety of artists from potters and painters to photographers and jewelry designers coming from all parts of the country. The girls seemed to enjoy the different artistic media and I'd venture to they might have even been a bit inspired from it all. One of our members purchased an ornament from which she is incorporating into her summer project :)

If I haven't mentioned before (and forgive me if I have ...) the girls are dipping their pens into the ink wells this summer and writing their very own children books, topped with illustrations to boot! I am beyond excited by this new venture and have very high hopes that they will create some magic for children with their creative efforts. We are working with a printer to combine their works into an anthology. A very exciting twist to this endeavor is that our local Borders bookstore has offered to view the collection when printed with the possibility of hosting a Book Release/Signing Party for the group. I .... KNOW!! TOO EXCITING FOR WORDS!!

With that said, we have been taking a step-by-step approach with our meetings ... the first was a creative kick-off :) ... the second meeting was a children's book reading & review.

The girls shared their favorite childhood books with each other by reading them aloud. We followed each story with discussion of the character traits, the conflicts of the story, as well as identifying the differences in illustration style. Through 7 titles, they truly gave their attention to one another, lifted each book in a positive light and even found new favorites in the mix.

Our book discussion that day reviewed their summer read of ...

Eggs, by Jerry Spinelli.

It was an intriguing tale of an unlikely friendship between a 9-year old boy who lost his mother a year earlier and is now living with his grandmother and a teenage girl who never knew her father and lives with her eccentric mother. Colorful characters mixed with complex relationships creates this heartfelt story of acceptance and understanding of those people most important in life - - family and friends. The girls really seemed to enjoy this book and gave it an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Good read!!

Now ... this week's meeting was to get their wheel's turning and ideas flowing. I presented the girls with memory journals ...... with the hopes that they will use them as tools to capture funny occurrences or endearing happenings that has been special and meaningful to them. The goal is to drum up original ideas for their storybooks, and I thought that writing entries of memories may help them along with this process - - we'll see. LOL One of our members has completely jumped into this project with gusto and has written her tale and is already working on some sketches - - love that enthusiasm!

This week's book discussion over lunch was the alarming title of ...

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter

I know. Not exactly a book that just jumps off the shelf to parents as a must read -- now the girls? - OH, it made it on almost ALL their lists!! But truth be known ... never judge a book by its cover (or title in this case). It is rated with top marks by parents and YA readers alike. A spy novel featuring Cammie as strong, smart girl who learns to be her own true self through a series of events - including a crush. The girls all enjoyed the book and gave it top ratings. :)

Then, we reviewed the variety of sketching pencils - 6H - 6B (ie, hard to soft) and practiced sketching storybook ideas ...
These are the moments that I love to walk around and see creativity blooming in my very own backyard. It thrills me to be able to guide the girls when needed, or just simply offer encouragement in their work.
These girls have been reading together through summers since second grade ... I feel blessed to have been able to be a part of it. Come fall, they will be entering the halls of the Jr. High ... the same halls that my great-grandmother attended for High School. Yes, that means its old - rumored to be haunted - and no air conditioning ... but it means so much more to me. As tradition and history hold such a dear place in my heart, my cup overfloweth with remembrance as my daughter marks the 5th generation of our family to attend school there. It might be considered silly to some ... but I find it meaningful.

So ... to end this very loooooooooong post ... I wish for you time to enjoy the simple things in life -- make the time to share with the kids ... time to reminisce with your family ... and time to capture the magic of the day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Sweet Land of Liberty ...

Happy 4th of July to ALL!

Aunt Rosie's Pie Crust:

2 c. flour

1 c. shortening

handful of granulated sugar

dash of salt

1 glass, ice water

* 1 egg white, beaten w/ 2 T water

Cut flour into shortening with pastry cutter (or end of whisk). Add sugar & salt. Work mixture until it becomes pea-like.

Add a bit of ice water and mix in. Keep adding bits of ice water until dough becomes easy to roll. Make into two balls.

Roll dough on powdered sugar surface (I prefer this rather than flour)

Place 1st bottom dough into pie plate, molding & pricking the bottom & sides with a fork. Mixed Berry Filling:

1 c. granulated sugar

1/4 c. cornstarch

lemon zest of one lemon

1 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. cinnamon

4 c. fresh berries (of your choosing)

Mix all ingredients together in bowl. Fold in fresh berries. Pour mixture into pie shell. Add top layer of crust.

* Beat water into egg white and brush onto top of crust. Sprinkle generously with granulated sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 40-50 minutes.

Filling recipe courtesy of :)

Oh! By the way ... I used fresh raspberries & blackberries (Thank you, Kris Sotos!)

and fresh blueberries & strawberries (from the local market).

Where liberty dwells, there is my country.

- Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A day for my son ...

With my daughter off on her summer getaway with her dad & step mom - my hubby and I decided to surprise our son with a day filled with all things he loves ... a sleepover at camp (might I add that he was not tickled with the idea that mom was tagging along ... "But, mom - it's a guy's place!" ... he's just dying to become a man! At age six, he's trying to chase away his childhood with macho gusto. while I am clinging to every previous moment!!) - - So, again - a sleepover at camp (complete with campfire & s'mores - and BATS! Those of which he thought would be an awesome mount - oh dear :) ... breakfast at the Farmer's Inn (okay this one was a treat for all of us ... incredible homemade french toast with farm fresh eggs & coffee that would give Starbucks a run for its money - plus, did I mention the quaintness of this place? Just take a look!... and my little guy cleaned his plate of flapjacks & bacon with a big ole' smile :)

We also stopped by for a visit at the fishing hatchery where he captured scores of rainbow trout & palominos on his DSi - - this child is enamoured with anything that would define an outdoorsman - a "mini-me" of his dad :) ... ... and - I'll venture to say his favorite spot all day - the deer ranch ...The bucks were in velvet - glad to see that all was still intact. If you have ever seen the stage of when they are rubbing that velvet off ... you know what I mean -- Icky ... and definitely not something that one would want to photograph ... I'll just leave it at that. While observing these deer and feeling the softness of their growing antlers (this one above is a "piebald," noting its coloring variation), I was struck, as I often am, by God's creative process. Even within the cycle of antlers ... the growth of the soft vascular bone beneath the velvet covering, stimulated by hormones over several months to calcify into beautiful antlers ... Truly - His handiwork and creativity never ceases to leave me awestruck.

Even though I am not a hunting & fishing gal by trade/interest, I do so enjoy being in the presence of nature and allowing the magnitude of beauty and wonderment to sweep me up in its magic. It puzzles me how anyone can question the existence of God. Look around ... just in acknowledging the complex variety of all forms of life is proof in the pudding!

My favorite were the fawns with their delicate spots and knobby knees ... It was such a special treat :)

We also had a tiny, furry friend tag along with us while we made our way through the corrals ...... my son would spot him scampering along the beams, in and out of the fences, and announce - "There's Alvin again!" :)
Campfire Treats to toast the stars + making friends with Furry Woodland Animals + Ice Cream Cones to end the day = Simple Happiness :)

One more note ... My mama-meter hit a high when we visited an artist gallery and all my son focused on was finding a special trinket for his sister ... love that thoughtful boy. It warms my heart to know that she is on his mind. I always feel her absence when she is not with us ... but I know that she is having her own adventures and creating special memories that will surely be a highlight of her summer. Until my baby girl gets home, I will continue to pray for her safe return - all the while counting my blessings and thanking the Lord for it all.

The family is one of nature's masterpieces.

- George Santayana