Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BRRR!



We woke up this morning to probably the coldest morning yet this year--27' and a thick layer of frost on the ground. And of all days for Cody to leave his coat at school! I let him borrow mine, but first I told him he had to go without because it would be a good lesson in responsibility.

Speaking of cold, this has got to be one of the funniest commercials I've ever seen:

http://www.youtube.com/watch.php?v=ahjobwNhTOA

Last night in karate, sensei finally laid down some rules. First rule is throw you own trash away. The sensei shouldn't be cleaning up after his students. Actually, in the adult class, there is only one student who leaves his trash everywhere. But in the kid's classes there are some who never pick up after themselves. The second rule, one that should have been in place long ago, is that no one is to teach unless sensei specifically appoints him to. I had spoken to sensei privately and told him what was going on. Sensei's rule had always been that no one under brown belt could teach anyway, except under sensei's supervision. That was before these two troublemaking students joined. They don't seem to think the rules apply to them, even though they've been told. As soon as sensei turns his back, they'll be trying to teach again, because they want the attention.

Anyway, I learned a little more of kusanku kata, and sensei went over the last part of Agena no sai with me. It is so frustrating that the higher in rank I get, the less sensei seems to want to teach me. It's like once you make brown belt, your training just stops. It's not just me that feels that way, too. Mr T and James have both agreed with me on that. They are the only two higher ranks than I am in the dojo. I have to practically BEG sensei to teach me anything. I had to come home and watched the most recent shodan grading on my VCR to finally get the sai kata. Sensei would go over it like twice, then sit down, whether I had it or not. Well, I learned the moves, now I just have to learn to control the sais better.

I haven't done much of anything today. I finished cleaning up Cody's bathroom, did two loads of laundry, and knitted a little on a baby afghan I started years ago. Well, I started over not too long ago. I had started on it, but didn't have the right size needles. I thought I'd just adjust my stitch count so as to get the right size, but after doing only about 4 inches, I realized the afghan would be stiff as a board. So I ripped it out, bought the correct size needles and started over. I haven't done any 5 minute sketches in a couple of days because I'm trying to get my snow scene finished. It is almost done, I'm just tweaking the details.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Random Thoughts

Ahhh, the age old delimma every parent faces...a small child with a gift. "I made it myself Mama. Open it!" So you carefully open the wadded up wrapping paper while the child bounces beside you, excitement shining from an eager face. As you get the last bit of paper off the gift, the child begins clapping with joy. "Do you like it, Mama? Do you like it?" Yet as you look at the gift your child so lovingly crafted, you realize with horror that you have no idea what it is. "I love it! Thank you!" as you hug your child. Then come the dreaded words, "Put it on, Mama."

Fortunately, Cody is old enough I don't have to face this prospect any more. However he did get me some rather unusual gifts in his day. For example one Mother's Day I received a bicycle innertube and 10 Hershey bars.

Speaking of chocolate, fudge is one of the easiest things to make. Here is today's holiday recipe:

Microwave Fudge

2 tbsp butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
dash salt
1/2 to 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Put butter and milk into a microwave safe bowl. Heat on high 1-1/2 minutes or until hot. Add chocolate chips, salt and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add nuts if desired. Pour into foil lined 8x8" baking pan and chill until firm. Cut and eat.

This fudge is so easy and tastes just as good as the expensive kinds you buy at the mall.

You know what I like about drawing trees? They aren't perfect. Your trunk is a little crooked? So what? Real trees have crooked trunks, too. Your branches aren't straight? So what? Real trees don't have straight branches either. This is not one of my 5 minute sketches. It took a while longer than that. This is an exercise from Drawing for Dummies by Brenda Hoddinott. This was so much fun to do. What you do is cover your entire drawing surface with charcoal, then use your erasers to draw the snow and trees. Finally, a charcoal pencil is used to add details. I'm working on another drawing similar to this one. Cody has asked for one for Christmas, and I thought that if I get one done in time, I might give that as my gift for the Ladies Christmas Party this year. The sweater is the gift I made for last year's party.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Silver Bells, Silver Bells


It's Christmas time in the city.
Ring a ling, hear them ring.
Soon it will be Christmas Day.

That was one of my dad's favorite Christmas song. When I was a child, we had a family carol sing, where we all stood around the piano and sang Christmas carols. This is the only song that stands out in my memory.

I do remember one year--the year I was 11. I had started piano lessons that September, so Dad decided that I was going to be the one to accompany the family on the piano. Now, after only three months of lessons, I wasn't ready to accompany anyone on anything. I kept messing up, and my brother kept huffing at me until I finally ran out of the house in tears. That is the last year I ever participated in the family carol sing.

Have you ever been in an acorn shower? A couple of days ago, I was hanging out laundry and acorns by the hundreds suddenly started dropping from the tree. There was no wind, yet they were falling like rain. Then as suddenly as it started, it stopped.

Here is another recipe:

The Best Hot Chocolate Mix Ever

2 cups sugar

1 cup cocoa

2 tbsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

Mix sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add cocoa and salt and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Use 3 tbsp mix with 8 oz hot milk.

And to enjoy your hot chocolate while getting into the Christmas Spirit, this is the funnest Christmas site I have ever found: www.northpole.com Enjoy!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Today's Sketch

Here is today's 5 minute sketch. This is supposed to be a flower vase. I see the symmetry is a little off. I've started setting the timer, and it is a lot harder now since I can't fudge on the time limit.
This afternoon we went over to my cousin's house and let the kids put up her tree. Here is Cody, and my cousin's two grandkids, Brittani and Shelbi. That is my cousin's husband in the back.
This is their tree after it was completed. I took this one without a flash and liked the way it turned out.

Just one final note for today. I finally got around to responding to all the comments left on previous posts. Sorry it took so long. No excuses other than just being lazy.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

All around the house....We've been busy this weekend putting up our Christmas decorations.


This is our tree. Our old tree was destroyed by the hurricane, so I went out and got a prelit tree. It is smaller than our old tree, but just as pretty.




This is the oldest nativity I have. I bought it in Italy the year Cody was born. At the time, I thought is was so ugly, but since then it has become my favorite. Oh, I got the stable last year at Wal-mart. The people didn't have a stable with them, so they stood out in the open for 12 Christmases.

This one is my Fontanini nativity. The irony of this is, I didn't get any Fontanini figurines while in Italy. I started collecting them after I returned Stateside. I used to have a Fontanini globe ornament--limited edition--but it was destroyed in the hurricane. It is the only thing I cried over. I did get the people out, but the globe was completely shattered.




Finally, here are a couple of candle arrangements I made. I was rather proud of these since I'm not usually very good at this sort of thing.

Cody is upset because he has to go back to school tomorrow. I have vacation all next week, so I'll be off. MMMM, I'm in the mood to bake something. But if I bake it, I'll just eat it, so I think I'll post one of my favorite recipes instead.

Snickerdoodles

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Cream butter, sugar,eggs and vanilla together until well blended. Add other ingredients. Beat at low speed, scraping often until well mixed (2-4 minutes). In a small bowl, sift together sugar and cinnamon. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch *** and roll in sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake until edges are lightly browned (8-10 minutes).

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Teatime again...

Well, one holiday is done for the year, and a good holiday it was. Now is a good time to relax with a cup of tea before the frantic preparations begin for the next one.

Looking back, I think I should have concentrated on the cup and left the saucer off. However, this one was done within 5 minutes.

As I was getting my Christmas decorations out yesterday, I became really discouraged. You see, one of the hurricanes dropped a big limb right in the middle of my storage building. I keep my decorations in big Sterlite boxes, and one of them was damaged when the limb fell. Nearly everything in that box had to be thrown out. I had to keep reminding myself how lucky we really were. After all, we just lost a few things. There are people down on the coast who lost everything.
Finally, here are the kids anticipating Thanksgiving dinner. Did you know pumpkin pie counts as a vegetable.?

This is Shelbi, age 11, Brittani, age 9, and Cody, age 12.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Friday Morning

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. We did. Cody and I went to my cousin's for dinner. Joining us were her youngest son and his wife, along with their two daughters. Food was abundant. We had turkey, Cornish game hens, dressing, broccoli salad, strawberry jello salad, mandarin orange jello salad, sweet potato delight, squash casserole, cream style corn, rolls, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, cream cheese pie, and apple pie.

Since I was too busy with Thanksgiving preparations, I didn't get to mention anything about my karate class Tuesday night. I learned a little bit more of kusanku kata. There is one part where you have to go down onto one knee like four times in a row. Oh, boy are my thighs sore! I'm having a bit of difficulty with karate right now. We have a couple of students in the class that just drag the whole class down. Of course, sensei won't say anything to them because he doesn't want to lose the money they pay, but with them there, class just isn't any fun any more. Other students feel this way also. One guy said to me, "I wonder what class would be like without them here." I replied, "Like it was before they started." He said, "Oh, it would actually be fun again." I know it sounds almost childish to say it, but knowing they will be there makes me not even want to go. I tell you what is going to happen. Sensei is going to lose his good students, and be left with nothing but students like them. Well, I'll tell you what the deal is. It is a girl and her brother. They don't really have that much interest in karate. The girl is not allowed to date, so she just wanted to join the class so she can flirt with the guys there. And BOY does she FLIRT!!! She doesn't seem to realize that guys are not going to respect her if she just throws herself at them like she does. All they are going to want from her is sex, which they won't get because she is nothing but a big tease. Anyway, her parents wouldn't allow her to join the class unless she brought her brother with her. That's the only reason he is there. She is rude, bossy, and disrespectful, even to the sensei, and the brother is a smart aleck know-it-all. As a yellow belt, he was trying to correct brown belts on a kata he hadn't even learned yet! Yeah, I hate to say it, but I just wish they'd quit.

I didn't get any new sketches done over the last couple of days. I was too busy cooking. I've got a few errands to run today, but I hope to get time to sit down and sketch something really quickly. Oh, it isn't the sketches that take so long. They are over in 5 minutes, after all. It is finding something to sketch that takes forever. Well, I'll find something.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Samwise Gamgee

We lost our dear Sam today.

Teatime?



It is a cold morning and just right for a cup of tea. I saw this one and just had to sketch it. I want to do a more detailed drawing of this one as well. I love this teapot with its simple, elegant lines. Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and I'll be busy cooking for a couple of days, but I hope I can get around to drawing this one sometime this weekend.

If I don't get back on here, Have a great Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Missed one


I sketched this peach a few days ago, but somehow skipped it when I was uploading images to my blog.

A phone call to the vet revealed that dear Sam survived the night, but he's not out of the woods yet. We have to take this day by day.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Oh yeah, and Sketches, too


So this blog was supposed to be a place to record my daily sketches. I suppose I ought to add them then! I discovered today what a complex piece of flesh the human ear really is. Yes, this one took a bit more than 5 minutes. I was trying to draw it from memory, and it just wasn't turning out right. So I set it aside. After about an hour of covertly studying my co-workers' ears (Uh, Becky, why are you staring at my ear?), I tried again, and came up with the image you see here. Still not right, but it looks a lot better.


Then, in keeping with the idea of the 5 minute sketch, I tried to draw my GMC Jimmy from memory. That's when I realized that I don't even know what my car really looks like. It's a whole lot easier to sketch something out when you can look at it.

Well, back to the drawing board...

Details

I got to looking at the picture of my sister-in-law's poncho and realized that you can't really see the stitch detail. So I took a close up picture of it:

It really isn't a difficult pattern, but it does look mighty fancy.

And, as promised, here is a picture of the new puppy:

His name is Samwise Gamgee, or Sam for short. Yes, he did tiddle on the carpet. The bad news is, Sam has parvo. His previous owners hadn't gotten any of his shots done, so I was planning on taking him in today to get them. But when I got home this afternoon, he was almost lifeless with lethargy, and Cody told me he was refusing to eat, and vomiting. I knew something was pretty seriously wrong. I suspected parvo because of his symptoms, and the vet test confirmed it. It is touch and go for now, and I sure hope the little guy pulls through.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Two Knitting Projects Finished!


Well, I got really busy today and finished off two knitting projects. The first one is a pancho that will be my sister in law's Christmas present. The other one is a sweater for my nephew Andrew. That'll probably be the end of my knitting ventures for 2005. Oh, I've got some scarves and afghans to work on, but I most likely won't get them finished before the end of the year.

Now that these are done, I'll have more time to draw.

Another exciting thing happened today. We got a new puppy. He is half Lab half mutt. He is about 12 weeks old. I'll post pictures of him tomorrow.

Drawing Fruit

Drawing fruit is usually pretty easy. Fruit tends to be all lumpy and bumpy anyway, which makes drawing a realistic looking apple pretty simple. If my shapes aren't perfectly straight, it's ok because likely the apple wasn't perfectly straight either. However, drawing a realistic looking apple in under 5 minutes is a bit more complicated.

When I was carrying my son, I craved apples. Not just any kind of apple either. It had to be a Golden Delicious apple. I had to have one every day, and they tasted SOOOO good. The funny thing is, I don't like apples, and I don't think I've eaten 2 apples in the 12 years since my son was born.

Here is another scarf I knitted this year. Since Thanksgiving is fast approaching, these fall colors really fit my mood right now.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Deer Season is Here


This deer head is hanging in my supervisor's office. Every time I look up from my work station, I can see him looking at me. Naturally, I couldn't resist trying to sketch him. It wasn't easy, since I had to look at my model from about 50 feet away through the dirty glass window of an upstairs office. I thought it was appropriate, since deer season opened today.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Birthday Presents.


I love the way my 12 year old son buys me birthday presents. He tells me to go pick myself something out, pay for it, and tell myself it is from him. This is what he got my this year--that I picked out and payed for myself. These boot style houseshoes are really warm and comfy. I loved the details on the sides, and couldn't resist trying to sketch them.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fall is in the Air


Fall used to be in the air, but now it seems to be winter. Anyway, this maple leaf was drawn from one of those cutout things schoolteachers put up on their bulletin boards. I see the symmetry is off. Other than that, I think it looks pretty good.

I am having trouble getting the scanned images to look right. They do look much better in person. Case in point would be the shading and veins on this leaf. They barely show up on the computer screen, but on the original drawing, they look fairly decent.

Now, just to show you that I can draw better than this if I take my time, I've added one of my other drawings. I was never really pleased with how the apples turned out, but I like the pot.



Ok, one of the "and more" subjects of this blog is my karate. We have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it is really hard to write about what we do in class because it seems I just write the same things over and over again. We did basics, and kata, and some drills. However, this class was a bit different. I was promoted to Ik-kyu, which is the rank just below black belt. I also started learning my next kata, kusanku. Sometimes I get frustrated with sensei because he only teaches me a little bit at a time. Sometime it is just right, but this time I think I could have learned more. But I will get him to teach me some more Tuesday. This was after class. During class, we learned something called Two-man Basics. It is a pretty nifty little routine in which the basics are done with a partner--almost like kata with bunkai. It is really fun to do, and impressive to watch.




Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Catching up

This is the machine I work on. It is called a Smart Charge. Isn't it funny how everything is either smart or intelligent these days? In my workplace we have a smart charge, intellipack, and smart bagger, just to name a few.

Anyway, the perspective is off on this one, but I want to learn to eyeball perspective for quick sketches, rather than drawing out vanishing points and lines. Many people find perspective to be difficult, but it came rather easily to me. I know you can't tell from this sketch, but I really do have a grasp of the concept.


Another thing I noticed was that my sketches were very light on the computer screen, so I tried to darken the lines. However, this has given them a bit of a cartoony look. It's all part of the learning process, I guess.

It is supposed to get down into the 20's tonight. For Mississippi, that is pretty cold. Some hot chocolate and a nice warm afghan and I'll be set.


Now, a note on knitting. I am also an avid knitter, however, 2005 has not been kind to my knitting projects. In late 2004, I came down with a severe case of tendonitis, which has severely curtailed my knitting abilities. For a while, it was so bad, I couldn't even bend my arm without pain. However, I did do several scarves and washcloths. Here is one of them.

Sketch #2

When doing daily sketches, sometimes it's hard to find things simple enough I think I can draw them within my 2-5 minute time limit, yet interesting enough to make a decent sketch. Sometimes it just doesn't happen, as evidenced by this rather unimaginative drawing of a small pail. But since the purpose is to develop skill, not entertain, I guess it'll do.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sketch #1


I've only been drawing a short time--less than a year. In order to improve my sketching skill, I decided to try to do a quick sketch every day. This is the first of my five minute sketches. It is of my cat Squeaky, drawn as she sat staring into that place only cats can see.

I hope, as time goes by, that I can see an improvement in my sketches, but these first ones wll look pretty rough.

The title of my blog is Sketches and More--the and more refers to my other hobbies, karate and knitting. More about that later...

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