Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 collage

(I realized I hadn't posted this one!)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Five and Nine

It's birthday-birthday day!  Can you believe we have a nine-year-old and a five-year old now?  How the time flies. 

We made birthday pancakes and birthday pizzas, but for the cake we decided to go the slab-o'-panettone route again--easy, ready to hand, and nicely photogenic!

And hey, I finally found out how to get rid of those green reflection spots that have been plaguing my birthday candle photos--take the (cheap) UV filter off my lens. Ta da! No more green spots!

This should be exciting!

We got Andy a couple of Elephant and Piggie books (always a hit). He was so cute--he had to finish reading this one before we could get him to open the other. (Yes, I know, he needs a haircut in the worst way.)


We went to Odyssey with Kate's friend Emma, and then came back and made individual pizzas.  I got the crusts ready ahead of time and baked them for about five minutes (my moment of brilliance), and when we got back they were waiting to be decorated and popped in the oven again.

Right as Emma was leaving the sister missionaries stopped by (just door-knocked into us), so they came in  and visited for a while.  They looked at some of Kate's drawings and read a book with Andy, which was great fun. Andy stage-manages everyone into reading in parts.  (I was Piggie.)

We sure love these kids.   We've had some big adjustments as a family, and they've both grown so much this year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Pizza

My mom sent us her old KitchenAid mixer (thanks Mom!) and we have been having great fun with it. In the days before Christmas I was busy making pretzels and delivering them to people, and on Christmas day we had this tree-shaped pizza for lunch.  It just came to me in a flash of inspiration.  I think this may be a new tradition!

This was the tricky part--getting the dough into the right shape.  I had to make the star separately.


and baking. (The cheese was a bit thin--next time we will be better prepared!)

Andy will be happy to take care of all the olives.

Kate gets the star!

Christmas at Home

Our tree this year was a Fraser fir. I found it a little tricky for putting lights on, as the branches criss-cross each other in weird ways, but once that was done it was nice. (And almost too tall for the ceiling!)

Kate was up bright and early and ready to open presents. Andy was a bit more groggy and took while to get moving.

From Grandma Mary! (Kate named it Fluffy.)

Aunt Karen found this game for us. Don't let the pigeon drive the bus! (We've been playing it--it's cute!)

Helping Andy open a new Magna-Doodle.

Andy knows what Magna-Doodles are for... making letters!

"This is exactly what I wanted!" (from Grandma Kathey).

Kate made us an ornament at school.

My mom got thesefor Andy. We figured they'd be right up his alley--putting things in order. He seems to be enjoying them.  I did have to tell him a few times not to try to sit on the garages. They're not that sturdy.

Kate getting comfy on the couch, with her books. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

At the Nativity

We stopped by the Festival during setup, and the first thing I saw when we walked in the door was Fiona's library down the hall. (The gold paint on the book spines catches the light.) That was a fun surprise! I went back the next day and got some pictures.

I hear they had quite a time getting it into this room. It's taller than the doorway.

The festival is always gorgeous and they do such a great job putting everything together.

Our backdrop in the Christ room.

Doug's leather nativity.

We went back in the evening for the Messiah sing-along. We really enjoyed it last year, but we had to take turns sitting with Kate and watching Andy back in the childrens' room. This year we took Andy over to the McGiffins' house (thanks Mary!) so we could enjoy the singing together. And the alto and tenor sections were right next to each other, so we even got to sit together. (Yay!)   Kate was drawing dragons in her notebook the entire time, but I think she enjoyed the music.   It is amazing and stirring--and I had somebody sitting behind me who knew the part really well, so that was a big help! 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Painting Collaboration

I was busy for about three weeks working on this backdrop for the Festival of the Nativity. Judey Hartzell is the one who was asked to do it, but she usually does watercolors, so she asked me if I would help her out. We ended up setting up in our living room (with the great light) and worked on it together.

I've never tried collaborating to this extent. It's hard! Of course our styles are pretty different to begin with. And dealing with something like this, that's so intuitive and visual, it's hard to articulate what you're picturing in a way that conveys the image accurately. Just finding the right vocabulary was hard sometimes. (When you use the word "brighter," are you talking about value or intensity?) Definitely an exercise in patience and communication. But we got through it, and managed to enjoy the experience. (Or most of it, anyway!)

We got the composition all planned out ahead of time, but there were a few details that Judey wanted to confirm before committing them to paint. We hit on the idea of sketching them out in chalk. It worked great! We went through a few different versions of this branch--just draw it on and wipe it off, till you've got something you like!

Here's the finished product (with Kate's box fort in the way). Those big stairs gave me fits--I must have gone over them three or four times, trying to get a good value and color. I was working until about 10:00 pm on the night before our deadline. Managed to feed my family, but barely.  Long day!

We got a picture outside when Judey and her husband came to transport the painting to the church. All done! Judey did the tree, the top branch, the big fern, the bushy greenery on the right side, and some of the shading on the other foreground greenery and the ground.  The mountain is from a picture of Machu Picchu and everything else is just kind of made up... it's supposed to be just a generic Mesoamerican setting. (The buildings are probably wildly inaccurate--I made those up too.) 

You may be wondering what a Mesoamerican backdrop has to do with the Festival of the Nativity.  It's an LDS thing--for the festival there's a room set up with artwork about the life of Christ, and this year they wanted to include this at the end, to represent our belief that he visited the people on this continent after his resurrection. 

We're glad to have it finished!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Leather Nativity

Doug finished up this leather project, just in time for the Festival of the Nativity. He started it back in April (Conference Weekend project) and has been working on it off and on. The picture is from a medieval woodcut.

After carving the outlines


and dyeing. Doug makes cool stuff!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Just what I wanted

I'm reminded of a post from years ago, where we went to the open studio at the art museum and I said, "This is what I want--a room with lots of windows, and a big table, and a sink." I didn't exactly have this in mind while we were house-hunting, but I realized that I did in fact get all three of these things, just not in the same place. 

The living room has these big windows--almost floor-to-ceiling--and the morning light is just perfect for a painting project. I've been working on this backdrop for the Festival of the Nativity, and it really hasn't been in the way at all.  Just having the space is amazing.  The light makes me ridiculously happy.

The family room downstairs is about the same size as our living room and dining room in our old apartment--plenty of room to set up the computers and bookcases and our little old loveseat (by the TV and fireplace) and still have room for a nice big craft table.  (The light here is not as good, but we will see what we can do about that!)

And in the downstairs utility room there's a nice wide sink with a sprayer.  Great for cleaning brushes and what-have-you. 

The house has its issues (the upstairs bathroom needs a lot of work in a hurry), but we are finding plenty of things about it to appreciate!  There will be lots of creating going on.