Tuesday, December 30, 2008

*MY* Christmas Present

*MY* Christmas Present
Originally uploaded by spinneretta

So I got this laptop and laptop case for Christmas this year from my wonderful husband :) It's a replacement for my very old desktop, and it is SO much faster- and more convenient (I can blog after the kids are in bed!!)
I tried something a little different technique-wise on this picture. I used a watersoluble graphite pencil... and my watercolour pencils :)
It gives the picture a much more loose feel- which I am trying to get used to :)

You may have noticed my recent attempts to make my pictures in my journals- more 'art journally' :) THAT is the reason for the bright orange background- it contrasts nicely with the very plain (but pretty) black laptop :)

This is something I am thrilled about getting- because now I can actually use those great graphics programs to mess with my pictures :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

EDM #202: Draw a Cookie

These gingerbread cookies were made especially for the challenge- because there were none in the house :) The kids and DH love them- and yes, there are some gingerbread men- but only one each because I like the round ones better (and my gingerbread man cookie cutter is not such a nice one LOL).

Daybook for Monday 29th December

Peggy over at the Simple Woman's Daybook is taking a break this week, but you can still catch the previous daybook entries at her site :)


Outside my window...
It is brilliantly sunny, but a lot colder than it was yesterday :) It is still not a very cold winter though!

I am thinking...
About the things I am hoping to accomplish this year. I have a school plan to rethink, and the art ones I mention in previous posts. Hopefully I can keep my theme going throughout :)

I am thankful for...
My husband- who gave me this wonderful laptop for Christmas. All of a sudden I realise that my old machine is SLOW.

From the learning rooms...
I'm tweaking again. Rebel has requested a few things that mean I have to adjust the way I am doing things. So I will be reading the Latin Centered Curriculum again to adjust it :)

From the kitchen...
Well, I have leftover ham, so I'll make a split pea soup later. But I also have a cookie I have to draw for a challenge, so I am probably going to make some of those too :)

I am wearing...
black skirt and red, stripey blouse. My hair is back in my new hair clip (thanks to one of my sisters I think).

I am creating...
art. Lots to do on this front :D I have also promised M'Lady that we'll make her doll some clothes, and maybe her some like the little girls were wearing at Williamsburg yesterday.

I am going...
precisely nowhere as far as I know! I may have to take a walk later to help get rid of those pounds I want to lose...

I am reading...
S...L...O...W...L...Y... I have a couple of Patricia Cornwell novels and a few other books I picked up over the holidays.

I am hoping...
to get the books read!

I am hearing...
silence. The kids are playing a computer game ;) We're still on break, so that's O.K.

Around the house...
I am actually pretty up-to-date with the laundry. I have a little to fold, a little to put away and a little to wash. I have some curtains that really need to be worked on, and a few projects here and there, but this is the quiet time of year where I relax!

One of my favorite things...
is when the weather is warm over the weekend, and you can go out and enjoy a daytrip with the family!

A few plans for the rest of the week:
catch up with the rest of the laundry, read my books, plan and draw. It's a simple week for us!

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
One of the wonderful entrances in Colonial Williamsburg :) I always love to see the Christmas decorations down there!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Two Challenges

In a bid to get the year off to a good start, I thought I would do the last few EDM challenges :)

EDM #201: Draw a Stapler

Something happened when I scanned these, the colour was washed out! I managed to rescue the glass picture some, but didnt manage to do the stapler ;) The stapler is a valued homeschool tool, while the glass is a beautiful one that we've had a while. I love the contrast of the blue glass with the yellow juice. I added an orange background, because my husband just loves blue and orange :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Art Goals 2009

Well Shirley over at Paper and Threads has challenged everyone to list their art goals for the coming year. I am a little reluctant to list too many, because what with homeschooling etc. I am not sure I can do LOADS :)
So I have resolved to make it simple.

Art Goals for the Year 2009

1. Draw daily.
I did really well for a while this year, but overburdened myself before burning myself out. This year I want to continue to draw regularly, but I want to make it a daily thing. It's harder to stop a habit once you start making it a part of your routine :)
2. Maintain an art journal.
This is kind of related to number 1 above. I have made a few books to start working in, and I really want to fill them :) I am beginning to attempt to compose spreads and such, but there is a way for me to go. I dont like to call them journals, I prefer notebooks, but either way, I want to maintain one ;)
3. Continue to experiment with watercolours.
I started using mine this year, and have gotten quite used to them and their ways. I really want to explore them further, and invest in some more colours :)
4. Do the EDM's- try to do all of them.
I would specify ALL of them, BUT sometimes I am unable to do them because I do not HAVE the thing to draw :) I will attempt to do them all though :)
5. Try to take a class, whether online or in person :)
I have seen a couple of ones online I like the look of, so perhaps one of those :)
I'll be sure to blog about them if I do take them :)

So there you have it- my few art goals for the new year (nothing like Shirley's ;)), but I am hoping it is few enough for me to manage :D
Anyone else care to share? :)

A Christmas Present

This is the present I gave my husband for Christmas :)

It's a picture of my daughter- in her trademark "cowgirl hat" with her "cheese" look (it's from a reference photo we took ;)).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seasonal Creations

It's been a while since I updated here- but I am hoping to be back on track soon :) Meantime, here are some recent works ;)

I love these seasonal oranges- back in England they were a little easier to get than they are over here- I remember having them in my packed lunch for school as a child :)

These are some of the presents from the advent bags I drew below.
My simple, but effective travel kit- pens, moleskine and watercolour pencils. I just added a water brush to the set :)

Everyday Matters (I heard a J.C. Penny's advert say that BTW)- in this case, things from the bathroom ;) drawn in situ, so there is an odd angle to them.
Some of our ornaments- I knitted the gingerbread man :)

DD and I went to see the Nutcracker ballet this year. Here is the ticket and a nutcracker :)
At the last minute, we decided on handmade cards. Here are the three designs I painted and scanned. I printed them and glued each to a card. I kept the originals for this spread :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Year's Theme

Those of you who have been reading my blog long enough, or who have just known me long enough, know that a few years back, I took up the idea of a yearly theme. This idea, came from my friend Dana, for whom I am very thankful :)
This year, my new theme is a hard one. Not because it is unmanageable, but because it so goea against my natural personality :)

"Cultivating Patience: Every Second Counts".

I have known for a very long time, that patience is NOT one of my virtues. I am just not very good at being patient. I don't like to wait for my watercolour paint to dry. I hate how long it might take me to knit something- and I often make dinner at the last minute. When the kids don't 'get' something (usually something like cleaning up the living room floor), I am forced to bite my tongue, and shamefully, more than once, my patience was gone!
It's not IMPOSSIBLE for me to be patient, just hard. So when I found myself having to learn patience for things recently, or when I found out that patience really paid off, I realised that in there somewhere, was a message.
So I told my friends that I thought 'patience' was my theme. Later that day, I realised that it wasn't JUST patience I needed to learn, but appreciation of time. So often I feel like I have to do it all NOW- well with patience I get to do it all, just not at once :)

So that's my theme for next year. Of course, themes are not finite things. They kind of mingle and meld with the ones that came before, and I think you are supposed to continue improving.
Well- I am improving. This year I did well with beautiful, but simple is a work in progress ;) I managed to make great strides in my theme from last year- Hospitality. But the one from the year before- stewardship- is still eluding me. Somewhat. I did manage to start eating seasonally, and I am constantly tweaking our food to make it healthier! It's the house that needs work :) THAT is where patience comes in- learning these things one at a time, bit by bit...

Anyone else out there with themes to share? :)

And I knew in a Moment that it must be St. Nick...

Well, at least a knitted one :)

I adapted my St. Nicholas decoration from Little Cotton Rabbit's Tiny Christmas Bear Decorations- well worth the knitting! You can too!

Make the Christmas Tree Bears according to the directions here, make it the longer version with no legs. I left out the ribbon- you can keep it, just make it a little longer.
For the face, make two eyes as described, use your yarn to make a small nose, and make a straight stitch for the mouth.
For the beard, use white yarn and make small loops across the bottom of the face. You will need several rows, and the loops work best if offset from each other as you go up a row. Stop below the mouth.
Instead of ears, make a mitre. This is how I made mine:

Knit two of these.
Cast on 7 stitches. Knit 3 rows.
Row 4: Pearl.
Row 5: K2 tog, K 3, K2 tog. (5 sts)
Row 6: Pearl
Row 7: K2 tog, K1, K2 tog. (3 sts)
Row 8: Pearl
Row 9: Slip 1, K2 tog, Pass Slipped Stitch Over.

On one of the mitre pieces, embroider a cross. Sew the two pieces together. If you included the ribbon, just sew across this.

For the arms, make an I-cord as mentioned in the Little Cotton Rabbit's site- only switch colours after 5 rows, knitting 3 rows in the flesh colour. Run the ends inside the I-cord before attaching to the body.

Finally sew the mitre to the top of St. Nicholas's head- voila! A teddy-turned St. Nick :D

P.S. I used regular worsted wool on very small needles because I like the way it knits up ;)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


or at least the Advent bags my mum made.  Inside are presents for each day of advent.  One for each of the kids, and my husband's one.  My presents have yet to arrive, and I have to make a bag for them while I am at it!

I'll try to draw a few more seasonal things as I go along- I really want to document December :) I love this season :D

Monday, December 01, 2008

Picture Update!

Although I have not really been online much, I have drawn a little. Obviously my focus has been elsewhere, but I squeezed in some time ;)

"Snakey" is a toy that my kids both have. "Snakey" is a caterpillar. He chases children around and hisses like a snake. No matter how often I tell them he is a caterpillar, he always turns back into a snake.

Experimenting with watercolour pencils can enliven time spent waiting in the car. Here I am trying out techniques learned from Cathy Johnson's watercolour pencil CD.

The kids collected these somewhere, and I liked them so much I had to draw them. This was the first time my watercolour pencils actually came out the way I wanted them too!

I had to get a new orange watercolour pencil since my Derwent one was not working. This is a prismacolor one. It was probably one of my better attempts ;)
Sunsets of autumn are often spectacular here in Virginia. This particular occasion, the sky was a vivid yellow, and the birch tree's lacy foliage just looked so pretty against it. This was another watercolour pencil picture- they are now permanently in my bag because I love their portability!
While knitting one evening, I found myself needing to document it :) Cooler weather brings out the woolly knits!

EDM #199: Draw your toe. OK So I drew 5 of them. There are five on each foot, I can hardly pick just one right? :) I never pass up an opportunity to draw my feet- they are great models, always do as I ask ;)

My latest read, a book of inspirations!! It's Danny Gregory's new book, a fat collection of great illustrated journals and notebooks. I think I like the commentary almost as much as the pictures, because I realise my 'weirdness' about my skectbooks is really not... ;)

After completing a summer accordian fold book, I decided to do an autumn one. This shows my very own, home-grown poemgranate :)

I call it October- because it is really October associations :) I grew the fig too... it was delicious! I hope for a few more next year! The second one never did ripen before the frost felled it!
An autumn staple... only my leaves do not reflect their true colours, which is a huge shame. The sweetgum at the left was a lovely, rich, purple-brown. My paints failed to capture that colour- the other one, a maple, was much brighter red. Oh well, I consider it a great excuse to get some more paints- I probably needed a better colour selection right? ;)

After all the cooking and eating, I managed to draw a piece of the pumpkin pie! I had really wanted to draw the turkey, but I just forgot- even to photograph it! Oh well, it certainly tasted good (even if I do say so myself ;)).
What can be more autumnal than apples? These golden delicious, sit on my table until M'Lady eats them. Or the rabbit eats them. Or both. I had wanted a nice apple themed poem to go with it, but the closest I found was a Robert Frost one about apple picking. Or loads of school-limerick kinds. NOT what I really wanted ;)

Daybook for Monday 1st December

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman's Daybook


Outside my window... it's a chilly day. The trees are bare now and the cardinals are the only bright flashes of colour I see. There is a simple, stark kind of beauty in the late autumn, early winter.
I am thinking... that I am behind on the advent stuff. I really wish DH would get it out of the loft already! Actually I am thinking I wish he hadn't put it all there- I will hide it this year so he can't! I dont mind the tree stuff there, but not the advent stuff!
I am thankful for... long weekends. I really enjoyed our extended holiday weekend! I am also thankful for inspirational books, wonderful online communities and the gifts God gave us :)
From the learning rooms... we are starting our Advent study. I like to do the Tomie de Paola one started by Elizabeth Foss.
From the kitchen... turkey leftovers! I am considering a pot-pie today, I really love pot-pie. I also love the new microwave- I dont HAVE to remember to take out the meat anymore! Rest assured, I only use it for good things- and TV dinners one day a week ;)
I am wearing... grey skirt, green top. My hair is up, and I am waiting for the red-eyes to subside before I wear contacts again. Maybe I should try my visine.
I am creating... Christmas gifts for my secret Santa. I can't talk about them though, because she reads the blog :)
I am going... to a friend's to make the rest of the Jesse Tree ornaments on Thursday (or Wednesday). We had to delay it due to illness, but I am hopeful we'll do it this week :)
I am reading... An Illustrated Life by Danny Gregory- inspiration for people who draw in journals.
I am hoping... to get some baking done. I need to make a Christmas Pudding, but I might just try Mum's new recipe... also a fruit cake with my Mother-in-Law's recipe, a request from DH.
I am hearing... the press conference with President-Elect Obama and his National Security team. It just came on the radio while I was listening to music, and I am waiting for it to finish! If it doesn't soon, I'll put on a Christmas Carol CD or find some advent ones!
Around the house... laundry (it's Monday) and some decorating with the advent decorations! I need to acquire a place to display the Jesse Tree ornaments.
One of my favorite things... is baking... I love to bake. Cookies (Biscuits), Mince Pies (YUM!), cakes, bread... I managed to make a really great roll for Thanksgiving- REALLY good! It was an adaptation of a Scottish Bap from Soups and Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon.
A few plans for the rest of the week: make some stuff for Secret Santa, bake cake and pudding, bake mince pies, make Jesse tree ornaments, decorate and get a Christmas tree next weekend :) Busy week, since I also plan to school, draw and other things ;)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
My pomegranate that I grew :)

Sorry about the quality of the photo- it just looked a lot sharper on the camera!! (This is for Jill who asked for one ;))

Monday, November 17, 2008

Daybook for Monday 17th November

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today...

Outside my Window
... it's FREEZING!! Finally autumn came with a vengeance and all the leaves just DROPPED off of the trees overnight. I have some pomegranates waiting to be picked, and recently planted some garlic for the spring... but most of the garden is sleeping :)

I am thinking... that it will be hard to get the kids out while it is cold!

I am thankful for... sales. I had to do some Christmas shopping for my family back in England, and those sale prices really help :)

From the learning rooms... this week I am aiming high- I want to get everything done! ;) We will have another homeschool group meeting to make Jesse tree ornaments too. Last week's was lots of fun!

From the kitchen... still trying to be healthy. I have to go set up my bean cassoulet in a minute.

I am wearing... jeans and white blouse with a gold stripe. My hair is up as usual.

I am creating... Jesse tree crafts for the kids to make, some knitted goodies and maybe an apron.

I am reading... Real Education, magazines, novels and am trying to get into Atlas Shrugged.

I am hoping... that the kids will go OUT in a minute. And that the school week works out well.

I am hearing... the kids playing.

Around the house... laundry (always lots of that on Mondays), general cleaning. We have to finish painting the kitchen too!

One of my favorite things... is a pair of warm socks on a cold day- my feet get very cold!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Jesse Tree crafts, homeschool meeting, school, reading... apparently the same as last week :)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

"Fall foliage" last week. I liked the contrast with the sky :)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Daybook for Monday 10th November

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman (she has a new DAYBOOK blog ;))

For Today...

Outside my Window
... the ground is covered with a multicoloured layer of leaves. They look like confetti!

I am thinking... that this weeks is shaping up to be hectic! I hope Nature Study Monday can be calm.

I am thankful for... family time- it makes Mondays easier to bear.

From the learning rooms... trying to make sure the basics get done- so nothing special this week :)

From the kitchen... trying to eat more healthy- DH and I put on too much weight recently and I want to nip it in the bud!

I am wearing... denim skirt with a green v-neck top. Hair up on back of my head.

I am creating... some Jesse tree crafts- I have 3 this week, 2 next and I have to make 5 kits of each!

I am reading... Real Education, some mediterranean diet food books and my usual magazines :)

I am hoping... that the kids actually get something done today and that I can get the Jesse Tree craft sorted out by Thursday!

I am hearing... music on the radio and my computer.

Around the house... laundry- as ever- and some judicial tidying up!

One of my favorite things... is seeing blue skies- we've had a lot of rain recently!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... Jesse Tree crafts, homeschool meeting, school, reading...;)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Handmade costumes are fun :) Yes... I knitted the chainmail!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Daybook for Monday 3rd November

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman.

For Today...

Outside my Window
... we've had the first frost, the leaves are falling and the ground is carpeted with a layer of pine needles. We're in the first part of the winter stretch, and I am beginning to think about ways of prolonging the growing season. I think the discoveries I made in the garden this weekend might have helped with that ;)

I am thinking... that the kids are awfully quiet... wonder what's up?

I am thankful for... days spent in the garden. Sometimes I just need some time outside to regroup. My garden looks a lot better for it too.

From the learning rooms... trying a new technique. I am trying the circular method I saw mentioned on the Latin Centered group. Basically you make a long list, and where you stop one day you start the next. I know Rebel works better with a schedule BUT there are so many things he doesn't get done that way. Well NO MORE!! I have also moved Nature Study permanently to Mondays. This really works out well as a great beginning to the week- it is MUCH less stressful!

From the kitchen... I have soup and bread planned. I need to find some ingredients I had no luck with last week :o

I am wearing... jeans with a red striped shirt. My hair is in a ponytail- nothing fancy here today :)

I am reading... Real Education, some Mariah Stewart Novels and my usual magazines :)

I am hoping... To get some school prep done before we go for a walk. I have to print out some things!

I am hearing... the kids playing (they started making noise again ;)).

Around the house... more laundry- have to strip the kids beds and put their brand new flannel sheets on, bake the bread and tidy the kitchen.

One of my favorite things... are autumnal colours!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... start to phase in the new routine. We've been working on the no computers during school, and it has worked well, NOW I need to phase in the routines for blogging and emails etc. And school planning. I am still hoping somewhere along the line that I get a laptop to make the timing thing a little easier ;)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

We picked our fascinating peanuts :) These peanuts- which come from the flowers- are actually under the ground! The flower swoops down and anchors itself to the ground, before producing the pea UNDER the soil :)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Slowing Down...

So it looks like I haven't done much in the last couple of weeks. That's not really true.
I have produced SOME art. Not a daily dose as I should though. I have no excuse except to say I have a slight Artistic block- maybe it is the lack of vegetables ;)
No, indeed the last couple of weeks I have been focusing on getting my internet time sorted. I am on a trial where I really do not touch the computer while schooling the kids. It does make for better time, but I am not sure if it is the fact that we are not in Rebel's bedroom (where my computer is) being distracted by all the toys, or if they just like me reading or knitting better!

Rebel turned 9, and we had a day off for him to play with his new toys. Then last week he was sick with a cold- which meant that I gave him another day off. Sort of- it was more like unschooling :)

Last weekend we attended the Fall Fiber Festival at James Madison's Montpelier Virginia. This was MY birthday treat, and a lot of my creative energies are going towards the knitting and felting side of things. If I just has a few more hours each day I could do both! Instead I have to pick and choose :(

One up side, is that now the kids have seen sheepdogs in action, I can tell them that M'Lady is the sheep and Rebel is the dog (or vice versa) and get them to do things!!

In the meantime, I'll be trying to sneak my internet time back in during the afternoons to compensate :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Daybook for Monday 22nd September

To get the rest of the daybook entries, don't forget to visit Peggy over at the Simple Woman.

For Today...

Outside my Window
... it's the first day of autumn, and it feels it. Although it is really NOT cold, it is so much cooler than the summer, that 70+ degrees feels kind of cold!

I am thinking... that we're running late this morning, and almost 9 year old boys who lie in bed don't help matters along...

I am thankful for... people who take the time out to produce something to help/teach others. Bloggers who write about their days- artists who create lessons on CD etc. These people really help those of us coming up behind them :)

From the learning rooms... I am hoping to get M'Lady's books that are on order, this week. I still need to make the atmosphere cards for geography and try to get science in this week.

From the kitchen... stuffing covered chicken dish. Maybe some bread too.

I am wearing... black pinestripe trousers, pink t-shirt. My hair is in a high ponytail- I had originally planned on a French braid, but like I said- we're running late!

I am reading... a couple of novels and a couple of painting books... you can see a few reviews from last week in other posts on the blog :)

I am hoping... that Rebel's birthday present arrives before his birthday tomorrow!

I am hearing... the radio and the squeaky dryer.

Around the house... I am thinking of doing some autumn decorating! I have a small pumpkin and squash set up...

One of my favorite things... is mastering a new skill. I hope I can master these watercolour pencils ;)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week... make Rebel a birthday pie. Apparently he doesn't want cake! Still wanting to do the daily walk- AND now I am in the middle of lessons for watercolour pencils :) My Cathy Johnson 'Watercolor Pencil Workshop' CD arrived last week ;)

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you

Apparently swallowtails like carrots too! But then, you can see from the leaves that they are in the parsley family :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Daily Art and a Book Review

Today's offering (the one from earlier was painted yesterday).

An apple from my grocery shopping yesterday. These are local... Virginia apples. That means that autumn really is beginning! The mountains are producing- that's great! I love apples and pears. I am so glad our locally owned grocery store stocks locally grown food :)
I kind of like how the apple turned out. It was a mixture of yellow and red- very autumnal colours :)

While I waited for the colours to dry so I could add shade, I went to work on another piece. I had originally planned on a pumpkin, BUT the book I had just finished caught my eye- what better way to commemorate it than painting it?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
This is an extraordinary romp through post war society. It is the fictional letters between an author, Juliet (in London), and the members of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (on the channel island of Guernsey), who tell her their tales. The letters start a friendship that comes to change the life of Juliet, as she becomes close friends to the members of the society.

With the exception of one small part of the book, the entire thing is presented in letter form. We learn about Juliet from the letters she sends to the people on Guernsey, and we are intrigued by their tales of life under German occupation.

The tales of the islanders are heartrending- those of us who are more inclined to cry than others will definitely be in tears!

I thoroughly enjoyed it, and loved the idea of recording books in my little Moleskine as a memory aid :)

I gave it 5 ***** Stars. (Yes, I do only tend to read books I give 4 or 5 stars to ;))

BOOK REVIEW: A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations

A Yearbook of Seasons and Celebrations by Joanna Bogle. I have such trouble trying to remember this title... I KNOW I have accidentally called it the wrong name on this blog before, and I am SO SORRY!!! I blame that on the fact that her previous book is called A Book of Feasts and Seasons! Yearbook, is really a companion to A Book of Feasts and Seasons. It elaborates on the liturgical seasons mentioned in the first book, and adds in some saintly festivals too. Joanna Bogle has a very engaging style of writing, and her passion for bringing back the celebration of the liturgical year is very evident :)
She has recipes, ideas for games and ways to celebrate with your children. I was very pleased to see that she had included the Saints and some of the more Minor Church Feasts, these are the ones you inevitably don't have the slightest ideas for ;)
The book, as with the first, is divided into the various feasts, according to the liturgical calendar. That means the book begins with advent and ends with St. Andrew :)
If you have her first book, this is a recommended addition to it, fleshing out the ideas as it does so :) DO have a kitchen scale handy, as all the recipes are in their original English measurements!

If you do not have her first book, I recommend you get it- you'll find it a pleasing addition to your seasonal celebration library!

I give it 4 **** Stars.

BOOK REVIEW: A Haystack Full of Needles

A Haystack Full of Needles by Alice Gunther

This is a lovely book, an introduction if you will, to letting your child have a social life outside of the family :)
The previous sentence is a short summary, which really doesn't do the book justice. Alice has put her wonderful ideas at the fingertips of the rest of us, and I urge other homeschoolers to go out there and read this book!

Inside, Alice tells us how she started out in homeschooling, and how she created the opportunities for her children, to participate in activities with friends in all fields.

She makes some wonderful suggestions for starting your own homeschool group, where and how. Although it is flavoured with a distinctly Catholic tone, and aimed at Catholics, much of the information is very useful to those who are not Catholic, and almost always easily adapted!

She has suggestions on how to make sure your group doesn't fail, and how to have a manageable schedule. Repeatedly throughout the book, she suggests that a 6 week schedule is all you need to make something work. And with that tidbit, I'll let you get the book to find out the rest ;)

This is the ideal book to give to the new homeschooler, along with your local group email address :) It is also the ideal gift to give to the experienced homeschooler, with a little burnout! For that matter, if the idea ever pops into your head that socialization is really a problem, get the book.

Alice, is a very sweet person. Her ideas are wonderful, and if you have ever enjoyed reading her blog, you will definitely enjoy the book :)

I give this a well deserved 5 ***** Stars.

More Signs of Autumn

The Farmer's Market may not have had many things on sale this week, but the store is full of local and seasonal produce.
We bought a small pie pumpkin and two decorative ones. The decorative ones are tiny!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Challenges and Foods

Well, they are all foods really!

A banana from the store, and which my daughter ate.

It was an experiment which turned out VERY well. I was messing with layering colours. I like the way it came out :)

The farmer's market had little to offer me this week, so I drew another pepper. I tried some of my new layering techniques.

This is a peanut, EDM Challenge #188. Only it hasn't become the peanut yet! The peanut is a fascinating plant, the peanuts themselves start as a flower. Then the flower after fertilisation, goes down into the ground and grows into the famous snack there. We have just the one plant growing in the garden now. It has been blooming all summer and I have noticed the runners in the soil- fingers crossed I'll get a few peanuts from it!
This picture was drawn en Plein aire, but painted in the house (I got sunburned yesterday so I am a little gun shy!). I am not entirely happy with the way it came out, but it is a tricky thing to draw. I drew it about 3 times the actual size of the plant... the flowers are tiny, although the peanut plant itself is HUGE and sprawling!