Thursday, March 27, 2014

AlphabeThursday - S is for Stick Figure

Do you remember reading The Princess and the Pea?  I recall the story, but I didn’t remember it took all of 3 minutes to read!  The Princess and the Pea is my third fairy tale for my class, Year of the Fairy Tale.  Our research and discovery period included three elements: princess, pea and bed, which were used to compose and design in child-like fashion.

The drawing assignment included using crayons to draw stick figures.  I always thought stick figures were unattractive, but after putting black clothing on my black figures, I thought the skinny shapes looked attractive.  Much better than my red clothes!  If you want to practice drawing figures, try   That’s where I went.

Don’t forget to come by Ms. Jenny’s site, Off on my Tangent
and see what other bloggers have chosen for their Letter S?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

AlphabeThursday - R is for Return

Merriam-Webster online dictionary describes the word "Return" as:

- To come back or go back again
- To bring, give, send, or take (something) to the place that it came from 
or the place where it should go
- To bring or send (something that you bought) to the place that it came from 
because it does not work or fit properly, because it is damaged, etc.

Add one little "S" and it changes the whole meaning of the word!

I was hoping to receive a little bit of money back from all the taxes I paid in throughout the year.  But then I got divorced in November and had to file as a Single person.  
The law looks at it like this: 

"Your marital status on the last day of the tax year determines your status for the entire year.  If you were separated or divorced under a divorce or separate maintenance decree on the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the entire year."

Bummer!  If you live in the United States, you should know that filing jointly and filing single makes a big difference in your tax returns.  I will be paying back much more than I planned on.

My advice:  If you're thinking about divorce, start at the end of the year and complete it at the beginning of the year.  It makes a huge difference in the tax code.  As of 2014, that is...

Come by Ms. Jenny's site, Off on my Tangent
and see what other bloggers have chosen for their Letter R!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

AlphabeThursday - Q is for Queen

Another evil Queen!  This month, we read a French fairy tale for our Year of the Fairy Tale.  It’s a long tale, called The Story of Blondine, Bonne-Biche, and Beau-minon.  Fourbette, the wicked princess, becomes the wicked step-mother and queen in this story (now I know all stepmothers aren’t wicked; just in fairy tales!)  Luckily, Blondine, the young princess, is separated from this stepmother when she is small and remains in “the exclusive protection of the nurse.”

But the wicked stepmother bribes the princess’s carriage driver with bonbons.  I kid you not!

There is a tortoise in this story, so I had to get to know her better.  After Princess Blondine is lost in the Forest of Lilacs, she approached this Tortoise one day, who tells her that she will take the princess out of the forest.  But it will take six months and she can’t ask any questions.  Blondine says, “I prefer to die of hunger and fatigue than of grief and uncertainly.”  So she hops on the back of the Tortoise.  It takes them three months to pass through the Forest, then another six weeks to cross the arid plain.  And there’s more to travel!  The story has a fairy tale ending, of course, and everyone lives happily ever after. 

I painted this part of the story in my small Moleskine watercolor journal using pencil, pen and watercolors.  And applied some of the techniques that our teacher Carla Sonheim showed us.  There were so many new animals and flowers in the “research and discovery period” (except for a frog, which I had drawn last month.)  I didn’t spend nearly as much time as I was assigned, but I’m glad I got at least one finished piece.  My idea of mixed media has changed because of this lesson!   

Come by Ms. Jenny’s site, Off on my Tangent,
and see what other bloggers have chosen for their Letter Q!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Reviews – Remarkable Creatures and Jane Addams: Spirit in Action

Ammonites in the pavement outside the Lyme Regis Museum
I haven’t written any book reviews in a while, so I thought I’d tell you about two books I read last month, before I have to return one to the library.  That one was called Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.  A friend told me about it at lunch one day.  It’s set in the 19th century on the English coast and is about two amateur female archaeologists.  Elizabeth is one of three sisters who all moved to the shore (Lyme Regis)  after loosing their chances, I suppose, of marrying.  The other, Mary, is a poor girl who lives with her mother and brother in the town.  She has a special gift of finding fossils.

Mary Anning with her dog, Tray, painted before 1833.
Even though the book is classified as a novel, the characters are real.   (Spoiler alert…)  Mary’s work contributed to “fundamental changes that occurred during her lifetime in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.”  (quote from Wikipedia)  I didn’t know this when I started reading the book.

I found the layout interesting; each chapter takes turn between the two main characters (Mary and Elizabeth), talking in first person.  I’m interested in archaeology but you don’t have to, to enjoy this story.  It might be a bit slow to begin with, but gets interesting very quickly.  I highly recommend it.

The other book I read was for my February Book Club.  It was called Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight.  I have to say that I don’t remember hearing about Jane in all my reading of women’s history.  It’s hard to say what she’s best known for: being the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, co-founding the first American settlement house in Chicago (Hull House), or co-founding the NAACP and the ACLU.  As you can tell by her “resume” she was an activist, for women, minorities and children.  If you’re enjoy 20th century history, this book is a great resource.  If you’re interested in fascinating women, it is a must read.  The book comes with photos, a great index, and notes; I didn’t use the Notes in the back of the book but it’s nice to have.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

AlphabeThursday - P is for Purple Postage

I’ve always loved postage stamps.  When I was little, I used to collect them.  Last year, I bought a bunch on Etsy – thought making an art journaling page for AlphabeThursday was a perfect way to use some.  Although many of these stamps are listed as blue, they look purplish to me.

There are many profiles and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, for Canada, Great Britain and Australia.  Here’s a little history that I didn’t know:   At the signing of the Treaty of Paris, after the Seven Years’ War ended in North America (1763), France ceded all North American land to Britain except Louisiana.  British imperial control of Canada did not end until 1867, which was called Confederation.  Following Confederation, the Dominion of Canada remained part of the British Empire and was constitutionally subject to imperial control until the enactment of the Statute of Westminister in 1931.  Hence the British queen on Canadian stamps!  (information from Wikipedia

My favorite stamp of all these is the Canada 15, “Canadian geese.”  What’s yours?

Come by Ms. Jenny’s site, off on my tangent,
and see what other bloggers have chosen for their Letter P!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Growing with Sewing #6 - thread positioning

When you are sewing with a machine and you care how the opposite side or “wrong” side looks, I learned that you need to sew with both threads on the top of your fabric.  That means pulling up the bobbin thread to the top.  Now, if you don’t sew this might not be a big deal, but it was to me.  I want my quilt to look nice on both sides!  And I guess I’m a perfectionist and want to follow all instructions.

My method was to put the pressure foot down, holding the top thread firmly to the left,  and pull.  BUT, what was happening was the bobbin thread wouldn’t always grab hold and come up to the top of the fabric.  You can tell by the pile of thread I have, what troubles I was going through.  And I found that others were having the same trouble.  What was I doing wrong?

Well, I was pushing the bobbin thread to the right before placing my fabric under the pressure foot.  I thought (for some reason), since I was holding the top thread to the left, the bobbin thread should go in the opposite direction.  WRONG!  The whole idea is to catch the bobbin thread with your top thread.  Now it seems perfectly reasonable to have it “in the way,” so to speak.

So if you’re having trouble pulling your bobbin thread up with a simple stitch of your machine, put the thread in the front (see above).  It makes the sewing go much quicker!

Find out more about sewing projects at:

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