Monday, August 31, 2009

Classic Books Free Online

One of my favorite treasures I've found via is the great books available online FREE from the Baldwin Project.

The Gutenburg Project,, is a project that scans copyright free books, which means older books, and making them available online. This is great, but the plain text and no illustrations leaves me a bit cold. Admirable project though.

The Baldwin Project,, took it a step forward and the books pop up on a yellow background which I find pleasant, large font size my son can read, and great illustrations incorporated. I'm in love with the books there! Some of the books are available to purchase, but never fear the full text is still available online.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


For weeks I labored over a landscape I was doing in stained glass. It is based on a panoramic view on my daily drive through the Northern Big Horn Basin in Wyoming when I lived there years ago. Trying to do a landscape in glass was a challenged. For one thing I was somewhat limited in my color choices for the glass - which I'm not used to in pastels or acrylics! It's really a challenge when you can't just mix or blend the colors you want.

I intended to sell the stained glass panel on Etsy, but as I was just finishing up I somehow flung a piece of solder on the zinc frame. I don't believe this will come off without leaving a mark. I could just redo the frame, but I took it as a serendipitous event - my family didn't like the panel anyway , and now it has a spot on the frame - I'll keep it for myself. As luck would have it - the frame fits perfectly between my front door and the front window. So there it sits.

Serendipity: an occurrence of good luck when you were actually looking for something else.

BTW: Did you know where the word serendipity came from? ORIGIN 1754: coined by Horace Walpole, suggested by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

Monday, August 24, 2009

Free Homeschooling Resources

My oldest ds has suddenly taken off with his reading, so last week I found my creativity being channeled into finding new ideas in how to work with him. Where do we go from here? has an entire curriculum and reading list based on Charlotte Mason provided for free by other homeschooling moms. What a blessing! Specifically this week I've gained many new ideas on how to use narration in our homeschool.

While reading their Music recommendations they had links to free classical music - so we found ourselves listening to Beethoven over lunch. Each boy got to pick a "song" and they really enjoyed it. They also have links for Art, Foreign Language and many others things. I'll list more free online resources next Monday.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Color Makes a Difference

The color I wear often reflects my mood. When the children were little there would be days where we all wore the same color. I picked out their clothes after all, and if blue looked appealing for me - it looked "right" for all of us. Research on the psychology of color has always fascinated me...humm so what does it mean when some days we all chose lime green or red to wear. Is it a lime green day?

A few weeks ago I picked out the shirts for the boys - all tie dye. One reason I like tie dye is that it stands out on field trips. Indeed, a man in the elevator commented on the fact they were all wearing tie dye.

Stained glass brings color into your home. I am always mindful of how those colors will affect the people who see it everyday. Recently I completed 2 stained glass panels using completely different colors. It's amazing how unique the feeling of the finished pieces. My mom bought the first one the minute she walked in my house and saw it hanging in my dining room. She said they were her colors - and she's right, they are.

The design/pattern/cartoon was one I had just created so I decided to use it again with completely different colors. Now, they remind me more of fall colors, although at the time I was trying to work with the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Making a Natural Wreath

Catmint grows quickly and gets very leggy, so you have to cut it back for it to look good. The thing is, I can't stand to throw away flowers - even to the compost heap.

In the past, I've brought in bouquets of catmint for a while. It is stinky, but long lasting and almost as pretty as lavender. Unfortunately, one time I brought in some ants with me. The ants were visiting a peony that neighbors the catmint, but they were more than happy to hitch a ride inside with me. Ick.

So the last time I cut back the catmint I gathered it into bunches. Then one bunch at a time, I took a l8 in length of wire and twisted it around the bunch, herb style. Then I used the long pieces of wire to attach the bunch to the front of a grapevine wreath. Eventually I covered the entire wreath and put it by my front door. It took maybe 15 minutes and about 6 bunches. I sat out in my garden while I did this, and it was kinda nice to relax in my garden and make a wreath.

Tell me of any flowers you've used to make into a wreath, I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chiluly Glass Right In Front Of Me

A few weeks ago when we were at the KU's Spencer Museum of Art where I was resting on a bench and admiring what I thought were colorful umbrellas. My friend walks in and immediately says - "Oh look, a Dale Chiluly!" It was those same "umbrellas".

Ironic for 2 reasons:
1. I've just been poring over Chiluly's website, drooling at his fabulous glass creations, wishing I could see them in person.

2. She is an artist, too - but I'm the one working in glass and I missed what was right before my eyes. I'm sitting there looking at colorful glass and didn't even know it.

I didn't get the best picture of the "umbrellas", but I will share it anyway so you can see what I am talking about.

BTW, the boys favorite thing at the museum was a computer simulation thing - not the art.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Mural in Son's Room

What joy it brought me to see a photo I'd taken of the mural in my son's room when he was a toddler. When my ds saw it he was just excited as I was; he remembered even though he was only two at the time. My husband - he didn't recognize the mural at all. He even went so far as to ask "Did you really do it?".

Yes, I did. It's based on one of ds's favorite books at the time "I Love Trains". My dh took care of ds for many hours over several weekends while I worked on it. They would come in together to check the progress.

It's long been apparent my ds has an exceptional memory, and my husband - not so much. Either way, what joy to capture things you create with a few snapshots.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Vinegar Rocket Fun

Sometimes the simplest things in life bring joy. Simple things like vinegar and baking soda. In the past we've done many volcanoes, a bomb, and a few experiments.

This afternoon, my oldest son was reading Chemistry to his little brothers (Yay he reads it now!). It must have the directions for a rocket in there, because they came running to me wanting to do a rocket. This nifty book even provided the ballon. I highly recommend the Science Wiz series, Penny Norman is the author of the Chemistry book/kit. Appropriate for ages 5-10. They've enjoyed learning the facts and doing the activities.

Sometimes I forget to take the simple things around me and put them together to make new magical creations. My boys ran around straightening up and did their chores quickly in order to do a good-ole vinegar and baking soda rocket.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"The Bedazzler" Sculpture

This spectacular sculpture, created by Patrick Dougherty, is now on display at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. It is made of a woven wall of saplings swirling together weaving in and out of the branches of a big tree, up and up they go in a big circle. People are free to walk in and thru this sculpture. There is something primitive about it that speaks to my soul, I wanted to just go in and sit down and stay there.

With 3 rambunctious boys the best I could do was come back and see it again after we went to the Natural History Musuem across the street. My cousin, an art student there, told me to be sure to see this sculpture. I'm glad she did, it's lots of fun.

To see other works he has done and photos of it being constructed check out: