Love, Lydia - Notes from a geeky, plus sized artist.: art
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Comics of Many Kinds

Hi  everyone,

I'm back with some more comic reviews!  We'll start off with Lumberjanes Volume 1 by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen.  This is a fantastic comic that's great for all ages, and follows the adventures of a group of five girls at their summer camp.  The woods are full of mysterious stuff, and this camp holds both secrets and excitement as the girls start exploring.  They're a very diverse group in both looks and interests/talents, which makes them great role models for younger readers and a pleasure for those seeking more realistic characters.  I can't wait for the next one!

Bride of the Water God Volume 1  by Mi-Kyung Yun, is a Korean graphic novel about a yound woman named Soah who is chosen to be sacrificed as a bride to the water god.  She is indeed taken to him, but who he is and the place she now lives is more complex than the villagers might have assumed when they sent her off.  She begins to meet the inhabitants of her new home in the first book.  This book was a harder read, because Korean books are harder to translate to English.  Supposedly this is one of the better translated ones and I still find it hard to follow at times.   If you're experienced reading manga and want to branch out I think it's a good start, but it's not for beginners.

Bride of the Water God Volume 2 picks up with more of the delicate art and Soah getting to know and starting to fall for the man who might be her husband?  It's rather confusing for her, but she's starting to find her place within the house of the gods, and the story starts to pick up.  It's no easier to read, but I find it interesting enough that I'll be sticking with it for at least another volume.

The Ancient Magus Bride Volume 1 by Kore Yamazaki  I know the title of this is a bot similar to the one above however they only have a bit of plot that's similar.  Chise has lived a hard life and she makes the choice to change her circumstances.  She ends up bought (weird, but voluntary) by a very powerful old wizard.  She's whisked away into a world full of magic, and if you love Harry Potter it's likely you'll enjoy this!  Her master teases that she will be his bride, yet she is also his apprentice and a powerful magic wielder in her own right.  This book is Japanese, and mostly set in the UK.  I loved this and am eager to get the next volume.

Avengers & X-Men: Axis by Rick Remender, Adam Kubert, and Leinil Francis Yu is a Marvel event book that I've heard had mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed.  I think part of the problem was how the situation was set up, but most of that is in another book, so I didn't worry too much about it and took this arc for what it was.  And it's a fascinating look that brings out dark in the hearts of our best characters and brings morals to the ones we thought the furthest from them.  I agree with some of the reviewers who would have liked more in depth stories with some of the characters....like Loki for instance.  I really enjoyed it, and recommend it heartily if you're familiar with the basic cast of characters in the Marvel universe.

Secret Wars by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and Bob Layton is a volume we read for last months Word Balloons meeting at Fight or Flight Comics.  I tried so hard to read all of this one, but the dialogue was so bad.  It was written mostly in 1985 (it's a pretty big volume) and was the first big Marvel crossover event.  So it's a big part of their history as a company and all, and many people around my age get nostalgic for this sort of classic comic feel.  And the art isn't particularly bad, it's just more the classic style rather than the more realistic paint colors we see in recent comics.  I'm glad I read what I could to see some of the history, but I'm glad we've made progress too!  I can't recommend this one unless you have a kid who likes comics (it's pretty tame) and won't mind the corniness or you have a nostalgia you need fulfilled.



On another note I really need to get these posts written ahead of time so when I have a health issue I'm not up late trying to write when I don't feel well.  However, this one's done and I'll see you again Friday!

Love,
Lydia

Monday, September 7, 2015

My First Camera Stories

ALL the cameras!

That was my prompt for this post.  Really when I start thinking about all my cameras, the old ones and new, I end up thinking about what made me love photography in the first place.  Above all that was the magic of film.  I don't remember when I was given my first camera, but I was pretty young, and it was just a simple one that took 110 film.  Who remembers what stuff?  haha  110 film is even smaller than 35mm and honesty makes it hard for whoever processes it.  Not as hard as the film my next camera took though.

Mine looked something like this, though the image is from https://irishbear3455.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/why-do-we-love-photography-a-thirty-somethings-photographic-journey-the-early-years-1976-1986-part-six-week-three/ who got it from Google images....an image chain.

My second camera was an APS film camera, a weird little format in hard to open cartridges that I hated having to deal with when I worked for Ritz camera years later.  It's advantage was that it had a switch for making different format images, and recorded which you selected so lab techs would know which to print later.  It led to some expense since the panoramic shots cost more to print.  However it was perfect for trips as a teenager.  I ended up losing my first camera after a couple years during a fall weekend retreat, while out in the woods.  It was found the next summer in a creek, full of grit and inoperable, but the film was still intact.  In the meantime I have saved up my babysitting money for another similar model that I kept using until I finally got my first digital camera in 2004.

Switchfoot, Purple Door Festival in Shippensburg, PA, 2003
It was a humble little model, outdated almost as soon as I bought it, but it was what I could afford between my pay at a bookstore and all the concert tickets and trips I went on that year.  But the little Fuji A330 lasted for a long time with all of 3MP at its disposal.  I went from taking photos like the one above to photos like the one below.

Red Umbrella, GMA week show in Nashville, TN, 2004


Meanwhile, I decided to try community college out and one of the classes I thought would be fun was photography.  My brother had taken a photography class and liked it when he was in high school, but he was hesitant to lend me his camera.  But one of my coworkers, Jim, lent me his camera for the semester.  I was shocked because it was so nice I was almost scared to take it from him, temporary as it might be.  But he was incredibly kind about it and insisted I should.  I think he knew I'd do well at it.

The first day we stepped into the darkroom I was terrified.  I felt like I couldn't handle all the chemicals and was scared of making mistakes and of the potential toxicity of the chemicals themselves.  I almost dropped out of the class then and there, and I think I must have said something to my instructor about being worried.  Ms Talbot, being the lovely person she is took it in stride and told me to just keep coming and she'd help me out if I needed it.  So I came back the next week, and everything went perfectly.  I excitedly developed my first roll of film from that beautiful Olympus OM-2 camera and started down a path that changed my life.

Image via Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-OM-2-35mm-Film-Camera/dp/B0084X2RIS

I think Jim knew he was influencing me back then, and I'm so thankful he was a part of shaping my life and career.  Not too long ago Jim passed away, but I will remember him as a wonderful, kind, Christian man who put a camera into my hands when I needed it most.  Thanks Jim.

I will write more about cameras at a later time, because I want to share more about my current set up and what I used while in school, but I wanted to end my post on this note as a way of thanking everyone who helped me find my passions.

Love,
Lydia

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I am a Nerd

Hi everyone,

I have a confession to make, I am a nerd, or maybe you'd call it a geek, either way it's about the same.  I love things that are boring to other folks and though I haven't talked about it much here I am unashamed in my passion for them.  I just thought it was time to say that here too.

Today Bryan and I had a conversation about how a being would theoretically evolve with two hearts and how those hearts would function. Many animals with multiple hearts probably had them evolve along with gills.  Would one control blood flow to the left side of the body and the other the right?  If so when a heart failed the individual might lose a leg and arm, but still go on living.  Perhaps the second heart was there to give the individual more energy reserve for purposes of something like the regenerative abilities.  #TimeLords #Centaurii #Science?

We recently discussed how a roleplay system we really enjoy (Hackmaster New) has neglected to introduce information for all the various cleric faiths they promised in the rulebook.  We want to play another campaign, but we may have to adapt the information we have to make something new.  Since we have the opportunity we can put a trinity of gods in place, perhaps sun, moon, and star/void and use that instead of the usual alignments.  Add in another element to craft them by classifying the themes into color families to mimic the values of Magic the Gathering's colors to create the flavor of each cleric's personality.  I have a feeling everyone in the party may be itching to play a cleric character.


We play with ideas like these often, when we're not playing games of Civilization V together, or gathering with brothers for Pokemon roleplay nights (yes we pretend we're trainers, trying to be the very best), or over at Bryan's parents for Sci Fi Night, making art about time travel, going to a LEGO convention, talking physics with Davey, or history with each other, meeting with comic book discussion groups, and playing Brain Dots on our phones in bed together when we should be trying to sleep.

As a result my personal fashion is more Felicia Day than Coco Chanel, though I do love some vintage style.  It may just be influenced by the 1950s as well as steampunk Victorian worlds.  I end up being so eclectic, and I hope I can make that work in a more minimalist way.  It's taking some time to put things together for my fall capsule wardrobe, but I'm excited to see what happens.  And I'll finally have managed to go through all my clothes and can actually go sell stuff (I've been putting this off for the summer) and donate slightly more loved items.

So this is just a bit of my personal love letter to all the geeks out there, and there's probably more where this same from.  For now I'll wait until Wednesday to share more, when I'll be back with another installment of graphic novel reviews.  See you then!

Love,
Lydia


Friday, August 21, 2015

"What has It Got in Its Pocketses?"

Hi folks,

So today I've got just one outfit for you and the fun of seeing what's in my bag.  The only thing missing is my phone, which I used to take the picture!



Wallet (from Target a couple years ago with money, cards, and coupons inside)

Notebook (Fabriano brand with dotted instead of lined paper, where I keep my notes plus sketches)

A pen or mechanical pencil are always with me

Keychain (keys, Oregon keyring, Happy Meal toy Bratz legs, and a little Swiss Army Knife with scissors, pen, LED light, screwdriver, knife, and nail file all on my Columbus College of Art and Design lanyard I've been using since freshmen year)

At least two lip products.  (The ones in this shot are Starlooks Lip Gloss in Guilty Pleasure, Nyx Butter Lip Balm in Red Velvet, Naked Lips Organic Lip Balm in Peppermint, and Jane Iredale Just Kissed Lip & Cheek Stain in Forever Pink.)

Some kind of mints that aren't mint flavored (Bryan doesn't like mint flavors) Strawberry Tic Tacs and Choward's Violet Mints (weird but great)

Headache and allergy meds (I use Goody's Pain Powders mostly)

A sharpie (random)

Coke or Sprite caps (random, but not unusual since I use the codes for gift cards and movie tickets)

A piece of scrap paper with post office info since we're still trying to clear up some issues with out mail service. (le sigh)

Coins turned into magnets as a project.  I only realized today that I can take them out and put them up since we're done moving.

And lastly photo gear - an Olloclip fisheye, micro, macro lens set, and also I'm going to start carrying my new Joby Gorillapod tripod for phone pictures. (shown below)


What do you carry with you everyday?


And finally the promised outfit from our recent poetry slam date night, taken by Bryan while we were on UNC Chapel Hill's campus for the slam (won by our housemate DJ with a love poem!):
bag - Rosetti via TJMaxx, kimono - ASOS, gold leaf necklace - Pick Your Plum, top - Kmart, skirt - Catos, sneakers - Converse via Macy's

And yes, the quote used for the title of the post is straight from The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien.  Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to show me what's in your pockets in the comments.

Love,
Lydia

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Reasons Why I Blog

Hey folks,

So I was asked this question recently, "what's your blog for", and it got me thinking.  I've been able to write my thoughts online for a long time, first via a very old Tripod website, then on Live Journal and now here.  Being able to write out my thoughts has been something that's been very healthy for me mentally and a great aid to thinking through whatever I might be going through in life.  As an introvert I find it especially helpful because I end up energized after making my thoughts more clean and dedicating them to a file or written page, rather than rolling around in my head.  It's helped me when I'm in some of my deeper bouts with depression as it allowed me to pour out my worries, share my fears, and simply let people know what's going on in my life, even when it's not happy stuff.

Sometimes it's easier to write out my thoughts than say them to another person because I can be more articulate and can talk to many people at once without wearying myself as I would if I tried to do the same thing in person!  And even when I didn't write online (in college mostly), I wrote in a notebook often, and am still in the habit of carrying a little notebook with me.  I don't think my cell phone note taking will ever replace it.  Especially knowing I'll be able to remember things better when I write by hand since it engages more parts of the brain at once, making better memories of what was written.

However this blog started as a way to document and share art processes as I was trying to get a Kickstarter campaign going to fund a body of artwork.  It failed to work out, but the blog stuck, and I've slowly changed it from talking about art to more of my life.  I realized some friends I don't talk to as often and even my family members now that we live further away from each other like hearing what's happening in my life, and this blog filled that need.  It's become more multimedia over time, and in some ways becomes its own art form, since writing is after all just another of the arts.

Now this blog is also about ways of sharing my interests i.e. books, fashion, travel, and social issues.  Something like a plus size capsule wardrobe is unique enough that I might even get to help some people as the make their own, similarly ethical fashion in plus size is hard to find too.  And then I might go make a DIY chalkboard tutorial or post a family recipe for chili .  It makes for very eclectic reading, but those of you who have met me know just how that word suits me.  I hope I strike a balance that keeps you all interested, you're welcome to holler at me if you want more of something I haven't mentioned in a while too!  Overall I sincerely hope my many interests will be a good influence on my readers and help me meet others from a variety of backgrounds too.

In some way blogging is like a having a superpower.  I'm just starting to realize how powerful it can be, which is both odd and enlightening to someone who'd not used to seeking the spotlight actively for most of her life.  I'm not even sure I'm seeking it now, at least not so much for myself.  Because, here's the thing, friends, if I ever become that loud annoying person I would hate myself.  I just want to start some conversations and share what knowledge I have that might be useful.  So my superpower is hopefully one I can share with all of you as I open up a safe place for discussion and help bring in wonderful individuals to engage with.



And for now I'll just keep writing and trying to remember that "With great power there must also come great responsibility" (Stan Lee).  The responsibility to write regularly and continue overcoming the depression that tells me to do otherwise.  So Wednesday I'll be back again, and hope you'll join me.  Til then!

Love,
Lydia

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making, Growing, and Moving Things

Hello again dear readers,

I've been incredibly busy these past weeks cleaning and organizing things, getting ready for our upcoming move, selling my art at the CCAD art sale, plus some fun things like going out the see art during the First Friday art walk in downtown Raleigh.  I've got some newly completed pieces, and am working on more, plus putting many of my photographs up on Etsy for the first time.  I didn't realize how many I'd simply neglected to put up.  I should have more new photographs soon too, because at the new house I'll be setting up a darkroom!



I've been planning my garden, and even bought a pair of apple trees for it, a couple blueberry bushes, a grape vine, plus seeds for veggies and some flowers that will attract hummingbirds.  I also happened upon a sad little gardenia plant at Lowes, which I'm nursing back to health.  I've been prepping for the new yard by doing soil tests and planning where things will be placed according to the light conditions at the new place.



Between all that I've been neglecting my blog and my pins project, as ambitious as it was, it's been pushed to the back burner.  But I have several new ones to share with you, and will still be doing more as the year goes on, just less often since I'm being more realistic about my goals in an attempt to combat the some of the effects of depression.  Otherwise things with the new house as well as prepping the rental for moving are keeping me busy.  Here are a few shots of how the house is coming along.  I can't wait to share more with you all about the journey!  I'll write a more about it in a post later.



9. Coin Magnets, this was a quick easy one that I thought would be perfect for the coins from Mexico I've had tucked in my backpack pocket for the past 2+ years.  I decided to try a modification and used adhesive backed strips of magnet.  I got it to work on coins, plus I also tried it on pressed pennies!  I have a ton of them because they're such fantastically fun souvenirs from my travels.  I grabbed the ones I still had floating around in my wallet.  Anyway, I think I'll be replacing the strips on the coins with the resin and thicker magnets as in the tutorial, but for the pressed pennies the strips worked really well!  It helps that the magnets can be cut larger for them, making them stronger, plus their backs are smoother that the coins.  This is a fun one guys, try it out!



11. Homemade Stromboli, a great easy recipe, which while it takes a little time it's completely worth it!  It was my first time making my own bread product with yeast, but this recipe totally raised my confidence levels.  I can't wait to try out more bread recipes, though the kneading process isn't my favorite.  Maybe one day I'll get a breadmaker!  We opted for canned sauce to go along with the stromboli, but went with a more adventurous option, which proved to be delicious.  We also changed the filling inside the stromboli to sausage, which was great.  We decided we'd put the herbs inside the stromboli next time we make it, but otherwise the recipe was fantastic.


I've got lots on my plate as I get through processing photos for Etsy, packing like a madwoman, and working my way past a sinus infection (oh allergies!), but I'm excited to have lots to write about and share with you all this spring.  So until next time...

Love,
Lydia


Friday, January 23, 2015

A Bit of Reflection

Hi everyone,

So, I know it hasn't been long, but that's exactly what I was hoping for as I work towards making good habit in writing and life in general.  Here goes.

One of the things on my mind lately has been having kids.  Frankly a lot of my thoughts stemmed from contemplation of a couple posts here on Feathers in Our Nest.  Aliesha talks about how she's having another wonderful baby join her family, but knows that can be hard to hear for some folks, and writes about the loss she has experienced herself.  And it's fantastic to hear more and more bloggers be open about their experiences surrounding having and attempting to conceive children.

I know, a bunch of you out there are probably wondering why after two years a couple like Bryan and I haven't produced progeny yet.  Well, we'd love to.  In fact it's been one of our goals for quite a while, but it just hasn't happened for us so far.  And why is a good question I suppose.  We haven't found much in the way of medical reasons, and after 20 months of trying we're still in the testing phase.  We're not really looking for advice, but it's something that we know people will want to give us if the subject comes up because the natural response is to try to help in any way.  However, we're healthy and blessed to have our needs provided for enough we can support kids if we chose to have them or eventually adopt if it comes to that.

And for now we're buying a house, I'll be starting a garden, continuing to build my business, exploring, creating, and developing all kinds of wonderful things.  And I don't want to take any of this time to ourselves for granted, and as introverts we value it.  So I want to use my time wisely.

When I was in high school I wanted nothing more than to get married and have kids, babysitting and childcare were what I was good at.  I didn't really want to go to college, thinking my family couldn't afford it anyway.  Sure I had other goals, writing a book, making music, reading all the books I could get my hands on, and traveling too.  Then after a little while working I realized I could at least try a bit of college at the local community college.  And things changed, I didn't find the right person to marry right away, I fell in love with photography, painting, and Ireland first.



And when the time was just right I met Bryan, who knew he wanted to settle down and have a family; I was 27, things were good.  For now we're building a home (literally!) that we hope to raise our family in.  Some days it's still depressing for my own part, but I don't ever tire of seeing all those who are happy with kids and babies of their own.  I only get tired of having to answer the same questions about myself because I can't give the happy answer people are wishing for.  On the bad days I take it personally, as if there's something wrong in the depths of me.  But there are more than enough who need love in this world to go around, and I'll give it to whoever I'm blessed with.  And I wouldn't change a thing about my life so far, even if it's not what I expected.

Love,
Lydia

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Eve Eve!

Merry Christmas everyone!

It's Christmas Eve Eve here in Raleigh and I've got lots on my plate as I finish getting ready for Christmas.  I thought I'd share a bit with you all about my life lately as I prep things.

Bryan and I have one stubborn gift left to get (for that one person on our list who's ever so hard to shop for of course!), and over half of our gifts left to wrap still.  However, we went to Richmond for a Thanksmas weekend with my family over December 12-14.  A lovely ham dinner, plus our gift exchange, and lots of time to just relax with family.  My dad and I got to catch up while doing some shopping and taking the dog out for a walk.  I tried to help my mom with the cooking, but she had picked some really easy dishes and barely needed me!  My parents are working on moving to Richmond in the near future and there were boxes stacked in my uncle's living room from it, but they disguised them as presents.  I have to say it made things very festive!


Other than that I've been busy with several commission pieces two watercolors, and four collages plus trying to fit in bits of other new work as I get the ideas.  I've been decorating here at my own home, and doing domestic things.  Here are a couple shots of my own tree:


I decided to go with a more rustic theme this year, last year I did all cool colors with more modern ornaments.  I shopped for a bunch of this year's ornaments while I was visiting with my parents some in November to help a bit with prepping their house for moving.  My mom and I took a trip to Ikea, and also found some of the ornaments at Kmart (the deer and white frosty bulb ornaments), and Cracker Barrel (the burlap banner with the Cardinal design and the heart ornaments).  Plus Bryan and I have been collecting ornaments on some of our little vacations, so we have things from St. Augustine, Florida, Epcot Center, The Smithsonian Museum, and I'm sure others I can't think of too!  And I made the bow for the tree myself.

Bryan and I have kept busy socially, between going to Raleigh's First Friday Art Walk (where I had a couple of pieces in a show this month!), checking out the Boylan Heights Art Walk (an amazing annual juried show that hosts artists on porches and yards in the downtown neighborhood of the same name), exploring Durham (we'll be moving there this coming spring to be closer to Bryan's new job), and going to the Pittsboro Christmas parade with family.  We've been spending most of our free time with family honestly, whether we're playing games, going to the movies, or just hanging out.  But I've ramped things up with work between the commissions and becoming more involved with the arts community on Tsu (Seriously, it's worth checking out!  There are loads of great artists, crafters, and photographers there, and you earn rewards for simply posting the content you make.  Join using my link here if you'd like.), so I haven't had a ton of free time beyond all that which hasn't been sucked up by things I've already mentioned.  Including spending time with out new little family member Scarlet, a Mini Rex rabbit.  Here's a little photo collage summing up all these things.




So, now I've got to run, groceries to get, presents to wrap, paperwork to finish, cleaning to do, gifts to finish making, and then a break from blogging for the rest of this week as I celebrate Christmas with family.  I can't wait for dinner and the Christmas Eve service with Bryan's family tomorrow night, and then be enjoying each others company for the next few days.  I hope you all will be having a very merry Christmas with your families too.  And look forward to seeing you again soon!

With love this holiday season,
Lydia

Friday, December 19, 2014

National Park Adventures Part 3

Hey folks,

So here's the second installment about the trip Bryan and I took down the Blue Ridge Parkway in September.  The weather was much more cooperative this day, so I managed to get better shots of the stretch between the Museum of NC minerals and Asheville.

For starters we made a stop at the museum, which sounded pretty great, but turned out rather disappointing because the museum was a bit rundown.  It looked like it had been updated about 10 years ago, but had bits that were broken or badly maintained and some outdated science thrown in for good measure.  Though Bryan was the one who spotted that bit, not me.  Bryan and I were both feeling under the weather, having caught a nice cold.  We decided we'd start on the parkway and see how we felt, which like the weather got a bit better.  Neither of us had the energy for the planned stop at Mt Mitchell, however, which was a bit of a letdown after how much I'd read about the unique environment there.

Mt Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 ft high.  Because of the elevation there the climate is more like Canada than North Carolina.  If you visit there are many dead tree skeletons, Fraser Firs, which have been killed by a combination of acid rain, air pollution, and possibly invasive insects as well.  We stopped often to catch views of Mt Mitchell as we climbed our way up to Craggy Gardens, our next stop.


All these shots are from various overlooks along the way, with my husband, Bryan in the one on the bottom there.  The views at each stop were spectacular.  The beetle is from one of the stops just as we were getting into Craggy Gardens; there were picnic tables nearby and he was happily taking in a bit of sun.  I believe it's an Oil Beetle - Meloe Impressus, probably a male because he has a kink in his antennae. Here's a closer cropped version -


As we approached Craggy Gardens I knew there would be a lot more rhododendron bushes present, but I really didn't realize there were incredible open meadows and very little tree cover.  The name for these open areas are balds.  They are generally believed to occur naturally, though some experts theorize they were created by Native Americans as areas to aid hunting practices.  Most balds present in the Blue Ridge Mountains have been vanishing over the last century, taken over by woodlands again.  In any case, Craggy Gardens still hosts many impressive balds, which took my breath away.  In some ways they reminded me of the Irish countryside, especially that of the Burren and Connemara where there is also little tree cover and the rocks jut up from the sides of the low mountainsides.  Additionally, the elevation was still quite high at Craggy Gardens, and there were Juncos present singing and flitting between the rhododendron bushes.  It was a happy little surprise for Bryan and I since they're one of his favorite birds, which is only present in Raleigh during the winter.  Below are a couple views of Craggy Gardens plus the sunset along I-40 on the way home.



After Craggy Gardens we descended in elevation growing closer to Asheville.  Our next stop was the Folk Art Center at milepost 382.  I was blown away by it, as it's really more of a museum in some ways with a huge craft store alongside.  Most of the work was truly art, made in both the traditional styles of the mountain culture and in more modern forms as well.  They boast 3 galleries over 2 stories, with beautiful architecture throughout.  The artists in these galleries are members of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild, and some of the same artist's work was available at Moses H. Cone.  The mushrooms pictured below were on the lawn outside the building.  We completed out trip with a visit to the headquarters of the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 384, it was no standout, but had a couple of fun activities and displays for kids.  Then we head back east to Raleigh, having seen the first few fall leaves of the year, and carrying a bit of art back home with us.



I've been quite busy with commissions, new art pieces, and preparing for the holidays this past month and regret that I didn't finish this post sooner.  However, I've got more posts on the way, and I'm looking forward to a new project for the new year.  I plan to be exploring a Pinterest pin every day of the next year and blogging about my experiences.  I'll be covering all kinds of pins from food, art techniques, cleaning tips, beauty tutorials, and more.  I promise there'll be something for everyone, and I'll be taking you readers along with me each step of the way!  It's going to be a big year!

Til next time - Love,
Lydia

Sunday, November 16, 2014

70 No Knit/Crochet Yarn Projects

Hey folks,
So, a little while back one of the gals I follow on Tsu (which everyone should check out, it's the next Twitter/Facebook, but better) was looking for ideas on what to do with some boucle yarn.  It's tough to work with since it shows less stitch definition in knitting and crochet and it's kind of lumpy, but can be really beautiful.  Anyway, it got me thinking about how many great ideas there are out there for ways to use yarn that don't involve crochet or knitting.  I thought I'd put together a collection of them here.



1. Modern Dreamcatchers - Mollymoo Crafts

2. 3. 4. Lampshades, Lanterns, and Globes - MADE Everyday (video)

5. Fiber Art Wall Hanging - Official Etsy Blog

6. Text Based Wall Art - Debbie Smyth

7. Garlands (could use lace instead of the crochet bit shown and could try tassels instead of pom poms) - Uppercase Magazine

8. Yarn Wound Blocks for Stamps - Print & Pattern

9. Yarn Scrap Wall Art - Easy Makes Me Happy (you could use a photo

10. Mini Globes for Sting Lights - EHow

11. Woven Friendship Bracelets - Unicorn Hat Party (I made these all the time with campers when I worked at a summer camp in Maine!)

12. 13. Yarn Bowls and Huge Lanterns - Top Inspired

14. Yarn Chandelier Version One - Ruffled

15. Yarn Chandelier Version Two - Wedding Chicks

16. Superhero Coasters - Kandy Kreations

17. Cross Stitch on Pegboard - Dudua

18. Or Embriodery on Pegboard - Hand Made Romance/Evie Barrow

19. Yarn Covered Pipe Cleaner Lettering - Bloesem Kids

20. Old Fashioned Yarn Dolls (could be used as holiday ornaments too) - Spud & Chloe

21. Yarn Octopus (another possible ornament idea) - Craft Stylish

22. Felted Balls for Beaded Necklaces or other crafts - Instructables

23. Easy Greeting Cards (use any silhouette image and you could even make them larger to frame as wall art - Katie's Crocheted Goodies

24. Pixie Tutu - Bugaboo, Mini, Pip, Mr & Me

25. Circular Weaving - Beesybee Fiber and a follow up post here too.

26. A Felt Leaf and Yarn Garland - A Beautiful Mess

27. Pom Pom Scarf/Garland - Bubbly Nature Creations

28. Woven Rug/Anything Square or Rectangular - Fab Art DIY

29. Cardboard & Yarn Ornaments - Snap!

30. Yarn Ornaments You Can Make Any Shape - Decora Recicla Imagina (photos instruct well enough that you probably don't even need to translate the page!)

31. Mini Wreath Ornaments Using Shower Curtain Rings - Smile Like You Mean It (imagine all the fun little things you could decorate these with, from floral bits to miniature objects)

32. Yarn Filled Ornaments - Dollar Store Crafts or the Fantastic Pokemon Themed Version - Jabberwonky

33. Yarn Wrapped Presents - Strawberry Chic

34. Yarn Surprise Ball - Lisa Vollrath

35. Wrapped Star Ornaments - Frugal Fun 4 Boys

36. Yarn Wrapped Pine Cones - Family Chic

37. Yarn Wrapped Paint Rollers - Home Dzine

38. Costume Wolf Tail - iSave A to Z

And last but not least:

32 More Projects (no duplicates from the above!) - Buzzfeed

Hope you like them!  I'm going to start numbers 26 and 24 soon myself.  I've got way too much yarn in my stash and need to get to work using it up.  If anyone has more ideas (especially from your own blogs) I'll gather them up and make a second post with more.

Til next time.

Love,
Lydia

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

National Park Adventures Part 2

Hey everyone,

So as a bit of introduction I thought I'd share a bit about why I'm writing about National Parks.  I've always loved National Parks and Historic Sites; as a kid my mom dragged my brother and I out to all the ones she could since we were homeschooled.  And I'm pretty sure I loved every minute of it then as much as I would now.  I'm going to be creating a page on here with a list of all the ones I've been to because I have a goal to visit them all one day.  This is more ambitious a goal than some of you may realize because there are over 300 of these treasures in the US and its territories.  So I think I'd settle for all in the states if I had to, though I'd love to get to the more exotic parks as well.  I'm even geeky enough to have a National Parks Passport to record it all since they have rubber stamps to ad cancellations at each park, sometimes more than one stamp for larger parks!



Anyway, Bryan and I took a trip up into North Carolina's mountains back in September for a family weekend.  On the way there we took the Blue Ridge Parkway from about milepost 277 at Deep Gap to 316 at Linville Falls, and on the way back from our weekend we went from around milepost 332 at the Museum of NC Minerals down to 383 and the Blue Ridge Parkways Headquarters in Asheville.  The two stretches were very different thanks to the weather.  Here are some of the highlights.


On Friday's leg of the trip we were able to see Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.  It's a mansion that used to be owned by Mr. Cone, which was willed to the park service with the condition that the land be preserved and open to the public.  Housed inside the building is the Blue Ridge Parkway's craft center.  Bryan and I bought a lovely pair of prints by artist Debbie Littledeer and really enjoyed all the work from the members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. When we'd left Raleigh it was bright and sunny, but as you can see in the pictures above the weather was changing as we traveled.  In fact I don't even have pictures from our second stop at Linn Cove Viaduct.  The mountaintops were covered in clouds and visibility was low.  We sadly missed out on the iconic view of the engineering marvel that is the Viaduct area.  Here's what it looks like in good weather:

Image from DigitalHeritage.org blog

I'm originally from Roanoke, Virginia, so I grew up with the parkway being a fixture in our Sunday drives and family picnics.  However, what struck me most on this weekend trip was how different the North Carolina sections of the parkway are from the portions I'm familiar with.  For starters all of the 16 tunnels on the parkway are in the NC section.  Additionally the NC section is much higher in elevation overall.  Here's a chart that compares using the height of the viaduct as the example -

Image from BlueRidgeParkwayDaily.com

Over the weekend we spent time with family celebrating birthdays and anniversaries at the Nu Wray Inn in Burnsville.  It's a fantastic little town that's close to Mt Mitchell, the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi River.  We walked the downtown area shopping, visited the Saturday morning farmer's market, and enjoyed to garden and front porch at the inn.  The weather was just starting to feel like fall, which made it lovely for hiking and being outdoors.  Some of us decided to go the underground route however, and visited Linville Caverns as well.


On the trip Monday we started with the Museum of NC Minerals and went south from there.  However, this entry is getting a bit long, so I'll write more about the second part of the trip very soon!  Take care and I'll be back soon with a post about various ways to make crafts and DIY projects with yarn that don't involve any knitting or crochet!

Love,
Lydia

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Painting Time

Hey everyone,

So the commission I had earlier this month is all done.  I'm happy to share it with you all now.  It all started when I got a message from a man on Etsy, asking if I could paint a Celtic knotwork design on his Irish Bodhran drum.  I've never worked on a project like this before, but was excited by the prospect.  I did some quick research and found I would easily be able to do it, using high quality acrylic paints.  (If it was to be used regularly I'd also need to varnish it with a protective coating, but this drum was for display.)  So, I showed him some possible designs, he chose one, and then sent me his 18 inch, goat skin head, Bodhran drum.  Here's a few shots showing how the piece came together.  The sketchbook is the Fabriano EcoQua one that I got in September's Pigment + Palette box.  I've found I really like working with the dotted paper and that it holds up surprisingly well to acrylics when I tested them in the book to prepare for this painting.

Next on my plate was testing out some items from the October Pigment + Palette box.  I've tried Aquabord before (a hard panel perfect for watercolors that can be framed without glass), and enjoy working with it, but the other products are new to me.  Today I focused on the Qor watercolor samples.  The Qor line is made by Golden, whose fluid acrylics I have come to love as I worked with them more (and bought a few more bottles of) while working on the drum.  I was a little unsure of the Qor line at first, but here's a quick rundown of the colors I was able to test.
The colors are as follows, on the left the Qor line and on the right the most comparable color I had on hand.  Overall I think the Qor colors performed well and from what I can tell the quality is somewhere close to that of Winsor & Newton, but not quite M. Graham or Daniel Smith.

Qor Cobalt Teal VS Winsor & Newton Cobalt Turquoise Light.  These colors are virtually the same and come from the same single pigment PG50.  The both have about the same amount of pigment in the paint as far as I can tell.  In this case just buy whichever is on the best sale.  They're both quite lightfast, though according to Qor's website most of their line doesn't seem to have been tested yet.  Winner: Tie

Qor Dioxazine Purple VS Grumbacher Violet (Thalo Purple).  Dioxazine Purple is known to use a somewhat lightfast pigment PG23, but it isn't perfect.  Personally I wouldn't buy this pigment though it's lovely looking.  The Grumbacher Violet is slightly more lightfast, but only by a little bit using PV19 & PB15, though it can get a similar look when the ratio of paint to water is increased.  In terms of pigment for your dollar Qor is better, but Grumbacher wins for lightfastness despite being a more watered down student quality paint.  Winner: Grumbacher

Qor Quinicridone Magenta VS Grumbacher Carmine Hue.  Quinicridone (PR122) will be joining my palette soon because it reminds me a lot of the Cotman Mauve I used to love, but sadly found out was less lightfast than my standards would allow.  The Magenta is a solid shade that's slightly more cool in tone than the Carmine hue (PV19 & PV19, unsure why it's listed this way on the tube, different sources perhaps?) I compared it to.  The Magenta is also slightly more lightfast, so if mixed with Cotman's Raw Sienna it will likely be used in the future as my go-to combination for lighter skintones. Winner: Qor

Qor Transparent Pyrrole Orange VS Grumbacher Alizarin Orange.  In looks the Pyrrole is stunning, the color pops off the page, and while the Alizarin (PY65, PY150 & PR209) comes close it's not quite as intense.  Both are less lightfast colors, the Qor (PO71) slightly more so, which means I probably won't use either one often if I can help it.  However, for a project that will be used from photographs or a short term use the Pyrrole would be a great choice.  Winner: Tie

Qor Quinacridone Gold VS Cotman Raw Sienna.  Both of these colors are fantastic to work with, really it comes down to which effect you prefer from what I can tell.  Qor seems to be less lightfast (PO48 & PY150, this in the only color that's been tested so far of those I sampled), but when I checked the pigment information it seemed a very stable color.  Raw Sienna (PR101 & PY42) would give the same overall color, but with stronger effects at the edges and paler center sections in each stroke.  Winner: Tie

Qor Green Gold VS Grumbacher Thalo Yellow Green.  These colors are visually the most different pairing I had during my tests, so apologies there.  I found the Green Gold a great new choice, with few easily available colors locally that could compare.  It's lightfast using PY129 whereas the Thalo shade is slightly less lightfast using PG36 & PY3.  The Green Gold is a rich shade, but the Thalo is much more neon, which would be suitable for some temporary projects.  Winner: Qor

Please note I tried not to go too far into the details of how lightfastness is rated because many brands use different scales.  I prefer not to confuse anyone, so I have simply used comparatives to illustrate my meaning in this article.  I find lightfastness to be of considerable importance when selecting materials to work with, and at this point try to stick to only the highest rated colors if at all possible.  A couple of years ago I bought the book "The Artist's Guide to Selecting Colors" by Michael Wilcox, which is how I began to change my colors, and more recently this fantastic website as well.  The website has some more recent additions, though I occasionally come across colors that neither has a record of, in which case I check the manufacturer's site, Google search, or avoid using the color if I can't find out the rating.  It sounds strict and occasionally I do wish there were more shades of purple to use, but I know it will pay off years down the road when my grandchildren are able to see my art with colors as intense as they were when I painted each piece.

Thanks for reading, next time I'll be writing more about some of my travel adventures.

Love,
Lydia

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Gold and Grey

September has been a gold and grey kind of month.  Lots of lovely memories and good times with family, but stormy and rough around the edges.  For most of the month it still felt like summer here in Raleigh, with hot weather and the trademark humidity that goes with it.  Slowly over the last week rainy weather has given way to slightly cooler temperatures and the leaves are starting to show their first hints of gold and blush red.  A few nights ago I even had to break out the comforter, though I'm not needing it every night yet.

Meanwhile I've got so much from summer that I've been meaning to write about...and depression has been encroaching heavily.  Some may have been caused by an imbalance in some of my medications, but a good chunk has been from financial, other health, and job related stresses too.  I've been looking for a job off and on since January, with very mixed results.  I can't even comment on all of it yet, but prayers and such are always welcome since despite the normalcy most of us show the world, there's some turbulence hiding below the surface.  Though over the past few weeks I've had a very interesting painting commission fall into my lap, so I'm happy to be tackling that and sharing photos as I complete it.  One of my birthday gifts is also rather exciting....I've got a subscription to Pigment + Palette, a monthly art supply box which gets delivered to me the first week of each month and contains fantastic products from a wide variety of media.  Here's a shot of September's box contents:

A set of Bruynzeel-Sakura pencils in 2H, HB, 2B, and 7B
Lumi Inkodye in Magenta (plus a month of free dye technique classes online)
A trusty Excel #1 light duty knife (oh, the memories of using these from CCAD!)
A lovely red Fabriano EcoQua journal with dotted (almost like graph paper) that's great for sketches on the go
Plus an artist postcard from the featured artist of the month

The dye is what has me most excited, it's sunlight activated and can be used on cloth or paper.  So I could use a photographic transparency to print with or use with objects or cut paper designs similar to making a Photogram.  The options are open enough that I'm having trouble deciding.  And magenta is such a bold color that it demands just the right subject matter.

Other than all this I have another post written up on part one of a summer trip we took, which I need to add the photographs too, so October at least may get more than one solid post despite the lack of them September has had.  And I've had more adventures since, which will make for even more posts in the future.  Goodness I do have some work ahead of me!

Til next time -
Love,
Lydia

Friday, June 6, 2014

Days 155-161 New things

Welcome everyone,

Blog News
So this week has been a busy one between a bit of work, family time, and various other projects.  For starters I'm thinking about making some changes to my blog.  I'm sure you all have noticed that I've been talking about much more than art lately, and while I expect art to be a continued focus I am contemplating giving my blog a new title to reflect to many aspects of what I feature.  I'll be brainstorming and getting back with an announcement about that as well as an accompanying new look for the page design soon.  As it is I'm trying a new format here with added subject headings to help you find the sections you're more or less interested in reading about easier.  I'm also looking at joining a blogger community or two to help me come up with some fun idea for my writing and get to know more bloggers and readers!  I'd love to tell some more stories and allow more creative details from my to be shown to you all.

Art
Next up there's lots of new things on the horizon as I'm working on a new art history themed project that I don't want to share too much about just yet.  However, I can say that it will involve some fun learning experiences and lots of research and work on my part.  This week I've been laying out some ideas, but should have introductory content ready by late June or early July.  If it all goes well it could be a very big series of work for me, which would be a great new challenge.

I've messed with bits and pieces of projects, and should have some finished items to show soon.  Though it will depend on what projects I'm able to focus on next week.  The last few weeks I've been more focused on photography with my new camera and all.  Then I'll have inventory going on at Anthro next week too, so things will be extra busy!

Pinterest
I'm working on the Pinterest project too, and will have the finished post and tutorial up next week, because I wanted to put a little more polish on some of the photos and have been delayed in finishing it this week.  It's coming along well though!

Games
Otherwise I've been working on getting a Pokemon RPG game started (yes the kind with dice) along with a bunch of family members.  It'll be a fun summer game with each of us writing our own stories of what kind of trainers we'll be an my husband acting as GM (game master) throwing different scenarios and Pokemon our way.  We'll be putting aside our bi-weekly Magic games for it since one brother who's home for the summer dislikes playing big group card games, so it's a nice trade off.  Plus we get another "brother" to play too, giving our group people 5 plus our GM.  Normally I cook when we have our Hackmaster RPG nights, but for this I think we'll be gathering at Bryan's parents with the whole family for dinner.  Because, yes, they still have family meals....it's really quite nice!

Besides that we're still working on the randomized game of Pokemon Platinum, which we are approaching the halfway point of now.  So many silly things happen on the random settings, it's just great.  My Charizard managed to have about the best move set ever with powerful fire, ice, flying and ground moves!  And then there's my poor Drifloon, which will never evolve because if it does his ability will change to normalize, making all its ghost moves fairly useless.

Books
During April I read The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, which I enjoyed, though not as much as I did Pavilion of Women.  I'd still recommend it, but I think I simply found it less relatable in some ways.

In April/May I also read Solaris by Stanislaw Lem, which is a sci fi book with a really interesting story.  I don't want to give too much away, but some strange things happen on a remote planet with some well thought out ideas about possible first contact with another life form.

Additionally in May I read The Nazi Officer's Wife by Edith Hahn Beer.

It's the non-fiction account of a Jewish woman who married a Nazi and managed to stay alive in Germany throughout WWII.  I found it particularly interested because she was very well educated and during the war acted as a passive housewife.  Only after the war could she go back to her chosen vocation, shocking her husband and being a strong precursor to the feminist movements that were to come in the next few decades.

Now I'm a quarter of the way through The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett a book that examines the idea of parallel earths, and also just picked up Pinterest Power by Jason Miles and Karen Lacey, and book on how to use Pinterest in new and interesting ways.  I'll write more on them once I finish them!

Conclusion
As you can see I probably could have broken this into 3 different posts and gone into more detail, but I'm always working on new ideas and am horrible about simply writing the small posts frequently so I won't overwhelm you all with information!  For now the heading should help, but it's something I'm trying to work on, so keep giving me feedback and I'll see you all again very soon.

Love, Lydia

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Days 153-154

Hi everyone,

Today's update is all about art!  So What have I been doing?  Well, In April I participated in Live & Local Raleigh, where I had a booth showing my art as part of the street festival.  It was a fun day, there was live music, and plenty of friendly folks stopped by my booth too.  I look forward to being part of the event next year as well!  Here's a shot of my booth thanks to Groucho's Deli via Facebook.

Additionally April 8th was Draw a Bird day, so while I drew my bird that day I'm just now getting around to posting it!  I looked some of my older reference photos and selected one of a Brown-Headed Nuthatch at the feeders from our old apartment.  I drew it on watercolor paper with various colored pencils and it ended up having a nice soft look to it.



I think I'll try to find a nice sketchbook next time.  Speaking of which I'm thinking I really should start to keep a regular one and hopefully share some bits of things in future entries.  I poked around my studio a bit and found a tiny sketchbook that isn't made of watercolor paper...I think I might need to go shopping though.  Hehe  If so I think I will get something similar to a Moleskin style book since I will soon be getting an Imbue creative tool thanks to my friend Stephen Hughett and his collaborative partner Igor Zemskov's fantastic Kickstarter!  The tool will be very useful for my Irish inspired pieces or really any pattern based art I work on.

In other news I finally have a new camera!  A friend of mine was looking to sell hers and the timing was just right for things to work out.  I'm so incredibly thankful too!  I now have a Canon T3i DSLR, which I have been having a great time getting used to over the past two weeks.  So, here are a few bits of what I've been up to with it.  First there were test shots, of which the following two were lovely.



Then we went to one of our relative's 1st birthday party.  They had the nicest spread of ice cream sundaes and toppings set out, and of course the birthday princess was adorable!



I've also been keeping an eye on the creatures in our yard, birds and bunnies, there are squirrels too, but they're just annoying buggers.  The feeder is just outside our kitchen window, but the rabbits are used to us enough that I could walk just off the porch to take this picture, the Tufted Titmouse didn't mind either.  Then while I was writing the beginning of this post I kept hearing at least one fledgling Carolina Wren, and soon after had one come and investigate what I was doing on the porch!


I also took a few shots during our Memorial Day board games.  We were playing Tzolk'in, The Mayan Calendar game, which is why there are little crystal skulls involved.  A young relative was arranging the extra pieces while her dad played with us.  The lighting made it irresistible, and I went to grab my camera partway through the game.
                           

                           

                           

                           

Lastly, today I was working on my first Pinterest style project.  It's inspired by this pin of a chalkboard cheese plate!  I had given one of my brothers-in-law a beer sampling paddle, and during the party I realized it would be perfect to add a chalkboard paint finish to, so I'm doing that, plus painting some lettering on the back for him too.  I'll be going through the steps of how I make it as part of my next post.  Here's a teaser shot of all the items I'll be using to put it together.


Enjoy your last day of May and I will see you all in June.  Thanks!

Love, Lydia



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Days 102-152

Hi folks,

It's been far too long since my last post, and for all my high hopes of posting more regularly I've missed the mark.  However, I will give an update on how things have been going and share some of the things that have kept me busy for the last month and a half.  Here's part 1 now:

After working as a temp at Anthropologie for two weeks (full time, which ended up throwing off my usual routine badly, including my posts here), I made a bid to stay on as a sales associate, and started working again about two weeks later on May 4th.  In the inbetween time I did spring cleaning, continued the job search, and participated in family stuffs.  As for the job, I've still got some things to learn, but it's coming along well.  I actually can wear some of their clothes, which really surprised me since their size charts say they only go up to about a 14.  I've found that shirts can be variable in fit and it just goes to show that you shouldn't put too much stock in what the tags say since nothing in women's sizing is standardized.

However, all this thought about clothing and women had me thinking about how we perceive ourselves.   I know I'm big, fat, curvy, fluffy, chunky, stout, or whatever you want to call it; I usually wear a 18/20 or xxl-2x on top and 20-24 and 1x-3x for bottoms and weigh 247 lbs.  I don't have a problem with my looks or the numbers associated with each inch of my curves; I love my body, it's mine after all!  I'm healthy in all the ways doctors measure, and take care of myself with exercise and balanced diet habits.  (Not that I should have to defend myself, but being different from the cultural ideal on the outside means people will question and make assumptions about my insides too, whether it be health, habits, or qualities of character.)  But I want to be really honest here, and I want people to realize just what 200+ lbs looks like.  It's certainly not what Hollywood would make you believe because bodies are so unique, especially women's.

To Hollywood Jennifer Lawrence is fat, and Mindy Kaling is huge, which is just silly.  If you were to meet them you'd realize they're more normal and probably still smaller than most of the women you know.  (Plus there's Photoshopped versions everywhere making our perspectives even more out of proportion, though that's a matter I'll leave alone for now!)  Movies and TV portray larger people as the butt of jokes, especially women, and as undesirable or even subhuman.  The words fat and lazy or fat and stupid somehow seem to pair well together as stereotypes in people's minds after being used as insults for long enough.  Studies even show that the attitude has trickled down into hiring practices for jobs.  Larger women are automatically perceived as less competent, discriminated against in many ways for it, and there's more you can read here.  And to clarify, they're looking at obesity as measured by BMI, which for someone who's 5' 6" like me would mean weighing 186 lbs or more, making where obesity starts not as large as you might think.  But please keep in mind BMI is simply a demographic tool created in the 1800s as a mathematical formula for aiding those looking at population trends in the larger picture.  It was never actually meant to be used as a tool to measure the health of individuals, and most European doctors laugh at us Americans using it as such.

For example here is a site that shows what real people look like and shows you what they weigh and the size they wear as well as being able to search through all the information by several different criteria - and this is what 300 pounds actually looks like. VS this and well, not much else because Hollywood has been pretty scared of showing women who are larger as part of their regular viewing repertoire.  (Mike and Molly, and shows like Glee are starting to change this, but only recently!)  And really how many people in Hollywood are even over a size 8?  Yet the average size in America is a 14, and there are plenty of people larger than that too.  Many clothing companies for fashion forward styles only go up to that 14, or perhaps an 18 for the more budget friendly labels, which makes little sense in the current market as it cuts so many women off from trends and well made clothing.  It's something I care about quite a bit despite wearing tshirts and jeans half the time....they're easier to come by, especially for someone who is prone to getting paint or chemicals on them!  But being at Anthro, well.....it's a job you get to dress up for.  Which is a fun challenge for me; our budget is tight, but we've fit in new things like a gauzy maxi skirt here and floral button down there.

Additionally, I came across this really great article that looks at women's attitudes about size and how the media comes into play concerning how satisfied we are with ourselves.  You can skip all the other links in the post as long as you make the time for this one!  It's pretty powerful in expressing some of the things that I used to think were what separated me from all the "girly" girls and women I've interacted with.  I was simply never able to think or talk that way about myself or others.  I have a sense of self respect, that stems partially from the way I fundamentally see people - created in God's image or from a scientific viewpoint wonderfully unique genetically!  And as people each of us has value, we all have something we can contribute to society, which can be physical or intellectual.  So, sure I'll tell you if your clothes seem to fit you well or not if we're shopping, but what the article highlights the more sinister tendencies that shape the negative ways we can see ourselves.  However, this is why I don't talk about whether I'm on a diet or if food makes me feel guilty (it doesn't for the record).  They just make people feel worse, including yourself.  Food shouldn't trigger guilt, it should be reminding us of the good things that come out of the earth and the happy times we've shared with loved ones. (due to scents, flavors, and other sensation associated with the foods, which are ways we build connections to memories in our neurostructure thanks to the tactile nature of experiences that happen to include food.)

And beyond all that, to tie in art here, I think art featuring a variety of bodies is just more interesting than if everyone was about the same size.  The same as life in general should be when you stop and think about it.  After all, we wouldn't want everyone with blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin either.  Variety is good, seeing it helps us appreciate ourselves more as we learn that each feature is interesting and beautiful in its own way.  Some of you may have already seen this one or similar earlier versions, but I wanted to share some Photoshopped versions of famous art.  They're all more round than what we're used to seeing, but still show some variety while being idealized as well.  They're certainly closer to an attainable, healthy reality than the tendency to skewing small is in today's culture.  Not that people need to bother emulating any of what we see....unless of course we're talking about painting techniques!  In which case...go ahead as long as you steal well enough to make the idea your own new version of the thing.

So, this has been a really loaded post, which hopefully some of you will enjoy.  I'll reveal more about what's been going on in my life during next post!  I should have more time over the next few days now that I'm getting back into a routine.

Love, Lydia