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Sunday, April 26, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 16

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 16

After a very, very long hiatus, we're back to blogging. No reason for it, other than a combination of being busy with other things and procrastination. But I'm all caught up now - for realz this time!

This week's theme was "It's a Song." So here we have Marcus watching America's favorite pastime. As for the song, I guess I could have picked "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but I like this one instead:

Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield

--Centerfield, John Fogerty

I think he could do it. You should see him catch flying cereal out of the air.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 16 

Can't get enough of the magnolia trees. I wish they could look like this all year round, but even as I'm writing this, they're just about done.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 15

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 15

This week's theme was floral, which made it easy since all the trees are in bloom right now.

I have to admit that there are times when I get the exact shot that I want, it makes my entire day. This was one of those times. There are sparrows that nest in our birdhouse every year, and I thought it would look amazing if I could get a shot of them with our neighbor's magnolia tree in the background. So in the evening I headed outside with my longest telephoto lens and prepared to wait. I think I was out there less then ten minutes when not one, but two birds decided to come home to roost. I actually got several shots of them, but this one is my favorite.

Yellow magnolia.

This is Mark's extra special yellow magnolia tree. It gets more and more blooms each year.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 15

This week was the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener at PNC Park. They had a gorgeous day for it, with temps in the 80's! I didn't get to attend, but I do plan on going to several games this year. Mark and Lauren are already sick of me making them watch baseball on television every night.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 14

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 14

This week's theme was blessings. I don't think I need to explain my photo choice any further.

 Almost 10.

Last year for Lauren's birthday, we bought her a new bike. Because she was in between sizes, we decided to get her a bike that she could grow into. The downside was that it was just a little too big for her to ride. This year, it's just right.

Relaxing on her chair.

Some bonus photos of Kitty Coco. I noticed how her eyes coordinated with the aqua accents in the background, so I had to take some photos.


She's got the life. First it's bath time...


...then it's nap time.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 14 

No significance behind this week's sketch. Lauren has these really cute bird toys that sing and repeat what you say, so I just decided to draw one because I liked the colors.

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 13

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 13

This week's topic was "in the kitchen." I had a quite bit going on this week with Easter preparations, but nothing more daunting than this lamb cake. Although I like to bake, I'm not much of a decorator because I don't see the point in putting in so much stress in effort into something that's just going to be eaten anyway. Or maybe it's because every time I try to decorate a pastry, it's a failure. Anyway, no one was more surprised than me when my lamb cake came out awesome, if I do say so myself. Cool Whip for the win!


I also made a flower arrangement for the very first time. Flowers courtesy of Trader Joes. They just opened a new store, and I love that it's located on my way home from work!

 Color wheel.

The obligatory annual dyed eggs photo.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 13

 Easter theme was an obvious choice this week. Check out the cutie photo of Lauren dying eggs!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 12

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 12

This week's topic was growth. I couldn't help but take a photo of these crocuses growing near my parents' house. And would you look at that - BEES! It's been too long, my busy, buzzy friends.

 Glass making.

I had signed Lauren up to make a glass egg at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. When we arrived, she was probably the youngest person there. I was wondering if she would be able to work with the heavy metal tools, but she used them like a pro. She always exceeds my expectations!

 Handmade glass egg.

Here's the finished product.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 12

Given my excitement over the bees, I decided to draw one. I've also begun to incorporate Instax photos into my journals. First I picked up a Fuji Instax Mini 8
camera, but shortly thereafter, I learned about their Instax printer, which is a mini portable printer that can be used to print photos wirelessly from your cellphone. Both the camera, printer and film are a bit pricey, but I think it was worth it from a creativity standpoint and just because they so fun to use. The Instax camera has a bit of a learning curve, but I'm enjoying the process and hope to add many more photos to my journal.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 11

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 11

This week's theme was green, but I had to find a way to incorporate our not so green chicks. Well, I guess in a way they are green, in the respect that they are inexperienced in the ways of the world. Anyway, I remembered that I had a basket with a green checked liner, and with a little coaxing, you have chicken in a basket.

Lauren named the chicks Blossom, Pepsi and Poppy. Blossom is the smallest and the most friendly. She likes being held the most out of three. Poppy is the leader and has a big black spot on the top of her head. Pepsi is the biggest, and she has a plain head.

Chicken basket.

They are all very sweet and seem to grow bigger and bigger every day.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 1F

Since this week was the first day of spring and it's exciting  to see the crocuses popping up everywhere, I decided to make them the subject of this week's sketchbook entry. The 20th was National Macaron Day, so that's the significance of the Eiffel Tower sticker. We celebrated by eating some macarons from Trader Joe's frozen section. They come in six different flavors and are actually imported from France. I discovered macarons all the way back in 2008. It only took six years for them to become a convenience food!

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 10

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 10

The topic for this week was "I made this." On Monday, our school district had an teacher in-service day. I took a vacation day so that Lauren and I could spend the time together. I promised that I would take her back to The Art Place studio. This time, we did canvas painting.

Usually when you do social painting, they draw a template for you on the canvas to use as a guide. For this painting, you were supposed to paint the background first, then trace the template. Well, I traced the template first so I ended up covering it almost entirely. Because I had to paint it practically freehand, it took me two and a half hours to finish!

Peacock painting.

Lauren wanted to copy a peacock painting that she saw in the gallery. It was very challenging and took her almost three hours to complete. I'm really proud of the way that she pushed through and finished it. It turned out great!

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 10

For my sketchbook journal, I had no doubt what I was going to draw because this was chicken week!

Honey, I'm home!

Since last summer, Mark has been researching about raising chickens, and they finally came home to roost this week. He bought them from a local farm that sells chickens on eBay. We had to meet the seller and pick up the chicks in the parking lot of a K-mart of all places. So far they are working out well and are very sweet. I've taken lots of photos of them of course, but I haven't had a chance to go through them all. I'll share more about them in next week's entry.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 9

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 9

This week's topic was reflection. This is another one of those photography related challenges that I don't really care for, so I went with the straight interpretation.

When you get to the Target Dollar Spot before everyone else.

Here's the in focus version without me in it. This is what it looks like when you make it to the Target Dollar Spot before everyone else (Is it even called that anymore? Most of this stuff was $3!). I actually went back and bought more stuff for the display. I should really do a reshoot! It may seem a little early to decorate for Easter, but this was the week that we turned the clocks ahead. I was excited to have just an extra bit of daylight in the evenings, even though it meant having to drive to work in the dead of night once again.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 9

And although it was looking like spring on the inside, on the outside it was still cold and snowy this week. March definitely came in like a lion this year!

Monday, March 16, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 8

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 8

I have everything ready to get caught up this week once and for all, but we're going to take it one at a time instead of posting all at once.  This week's topic was cold, which was very fitting considering we had one the year's biggest snow storm. Italian Greyhounds typically dislike the cold and the wet and will even refuse to go outside. All things considered, Cookie does pretty well in the cold. In fact, she does a little *too* well in that she insists on dropping her loads in the deep snow. Sometimes when she's in the process of finding a good spot, her feet get too cold. Then she starts limping around pathetically, and you have to take her inside and try again later.

Cold dog.

Apparently, Marcus does really well in the cold. No worries about him getting cold feet.
Mr. Snowman.

Here's the snowman that Mark and Lauren built after the big snow.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 8

Lastly, here's this week's sketch journal entry. We've been preparing for (and somewhat dreading) this week for years. Lauren started her swimming unit in gym class. Our district's pool is located at the elementary school, so twice during the school year, the fourth through sixth grade swims everyday for six weeks. Thankfully, Lauren has really progressed during the last couple of years and has become a pretty good swimmer, but there is no way to prepare for the awkwardness changing in front of other girls and having to wear a swim cap. I was so relieved when I picked her up the first day and she told me, "It was awesome!" Gym is now her favorite period, and she's even considering joining the swim team. Let's hope learning to drive goes this well. Okay, maybe not so well that she wants to join NASCAR.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 7

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 7

I'm getting closer to being caught up - only one week behind now!

This week it's all about Kitty Coconut! The topic was "framed." I just happened to notice her under my desk chair, and there it was, as easy as that!

Kitty Coconut Lucky Cat!

During a day off  from school the week prior to this one, I took Lauren to a local art studio called The Art Shop. They have open studio time everyday, so you can just stop in and make whatever you want. We chose to paint ceramics, and it didn't get much cuter than this lucky cat. Lauren decided to paint it to look just like Kitty Coconut!
Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 

Chinese New Year just happened to occur this week, so Kitty Coconut lucky cat fit perfectly into my sketchbook theme too!