Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: Foundations of Drawing

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From a leading art instructor at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, a complete survey of drawing as an art form covering its history, materials, and key techniques, alongside step-by-step demonstrations.

Foundations of Drawing is a comprehensive and authoritative overview of the history, aesthetics, methods, and materials of the drawing medium. Throughout, clearly defined demonstrations provide easy access to the practice of drawing as well as the history and development of core drawing techniques. Richly illustrated, the book contains reproductions of the finest master drawings from the fifteenth century to the present. Unlike other drawing instruction books that focus on step-by-step lessons exclusively, Foundations of Drawing provides readers with the context and background to help understand just why these materials and methods are so vital for successful drawing.

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Artist I am not. That may be the understatement of the century. I cannot draw a straight line even with a ruler. Still, I very much appreciate art and I have quite a few friends who are artists so I thought I'd give this one a read through.

This book is perfect for those who aren't looking for a how to draw book. This book combines the history of drawing with drawing techniques. I especially appreciated the section on drawing materials. As someone who scrapbooks and colors in coloring books, it was information that I could use even if I never try to draw another sad little stick figure. I always appreciate books that have information that I can adapt to whatever it is that I'm doing.

So, if you're looking for a book that's jam packed with information, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book. As for me, I'm going to find an art lover to pass it on to because knowledge and art should be shared.





I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own. 

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Hashbrown Casserole

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Casseroles often are considered a thing of the past, but don't let that stop you from creating a delicious breakfast for your family! Who doesn't love oooey gooey cheese, hashbrowns, and eggs?

Ingredients:
30 ounce package of plain, frozen hashbrown (shredded) potatoes
4 already cooked sausage, or leftover diced ham
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1.5 cups shredded cheese
12 eggs
1 cup skim or fat free milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Spray the inside of your crockpot with cooking spray. Dump in the whole package of hash browns. Spread them out with your fingers, and break up any clumps.

In a mixing bowl, mix the dozen eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, cheese, cut up sausage, and diced vegetables. Pour everything on top of the hash browns.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4. This is done when the eggs are fully cooked and the edges start to brown a bit. If you want the cheese to brown and get a bit crispy on the sides, cook it longer.

Breakfast is served!

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: How Music Works

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How Music Works is David Byrne's incisive and enthusiastic look at the musical art form, from its very inceptions to the influences that shape it, whether acoustical, economic, social or technological. Utilizing his incomparable career and inspired collaborations with Talking Heads, Brian Eno, and many others, Byrne taps deeply into his lifetime of knowledge to explore the panoptic elements of music, how it shapes the human experience, and reveals the impetus behind how we create, consume, distribute, and enjoy the songs, symphonies, and rhythms that provide the backbeat of life. Byrne's magnum opus uncovers ever-new and thrilling realizations about the redemptive liberation that music brings us all.

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Sometimes it's the simplest of covers that draw your attention. That was the case with this book for me. Some of you may be familiar with the author's musical career but as someone who is absolutely horrible with names, I was blank when I chose this book. That being said, I'm glad that I did pick it up.

While I read it cover to cover, it is written so that each chapter can be read on its own and in any order. I appreciated how Byrne tied together his own history with music with topical essays that were jam packed full of information. If I had a complaint it's that the book felt a bit heavy at times and I found that this was one where it was better for me to read a chapter a night and come back another night for more. This isn't necessarily a bad thing since this girl needs her beauty sleep!

All in all, a very enjoyable read that I'm looking forward to passing on to my musician son to see what he thinks.





I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Granola (cereal)

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They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? What do you think? I do find that if I eat a proper breakfast, I feel more prepared to handle whatever the day has in store for me. Have you ever made your own granola? That's what we're going to try this week!

Ingredients:
5 cups oats
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup melted butter
1 Tablespoon flax seeds
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used raisins and cranberries)

Directions:

Put all the dry ingredients into your crock pot. Melt the butter in the microwave and add. Add the honey. Toss well.

Cover, but vent with a chopstick. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring every so often.

If you can smell the granola cooking, go stir. It will burn if you don't keep an eye on it. But it won't burn as quickly this way as it does in the oven!

Let me know what you think!


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Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: The Barbizon Diaries

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“Mythologies are huge, sweeping things. And the grandest stories are those with the widest arcs of triumph and despair. As much as we may want to, we may not be able to avoid the despair – but triumph is a matter of will." DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS was written for everyone, but this second book in The Meditations series is an advanced course in surviving the Refiner’s Fire – because some stories are too important not to share, and some stories are too meaningful to hide.

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If you read my last review, you'll know that I'm fairly in love with how James has found the courage to not only tell his story but to embrace it and himself. The day after I finished Drawing Out the Dragons, I started The Barbizon Diaries. It wasn't about what happened next (or in this case during since the time frames overlap), it was about finding more of myself during a period where I felt completely lost.

Like James, I've had things that have happened to me in my life. So much, in fact, that people have asked me how I ever managed to survive let alone turn into a great person. Those are their words, I promise. I would never describe myself that way. The difference is that while James faced things head on, I put my head down and just tried to survive.

If any of that resonates with you, please pick up this book and read it. While reading the first book would be a very good thing, this one easily stands on its own and I honestly think that there's something for everyone in there.





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Monday, September 4, 2017

Crockpot Monday: Layered Dinner

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Happy Labor Day, everyone! On this hopefully lovely day, none of us ought to be slaving away in the kitchen. I know some of you are having cookouts and enjoying one last break before everything Fall jumps into play, but for those of you who aren't, why not try this recipe for Layered Dinner and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

1.5 pounds rib eye steak (or whatever meat you have on hand)
1 tablespoon of your favorite seasoning rub
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes (or fresh onion)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup broth
2-4 potatoes
2-4 ears of fresh corn
aluminum foil

Directions: 

Put meat in the bottom of the crockpot. Rub with seasoning and onion, and flip over to get the other side. Add broth and Worcestershire sauce.

Wash potatoes and cover with foil. Add to the pot. Shuck the corn, and wrap each ear in foil. Add to the crockpot.

Cover and cook on high for 5-7 hours, or on low for about 8. Unwrap and serve!

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Book Review: Drawing Out the Dragons

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"I believe in you. You have a great destiny. You are meant for great things. And it s possible to live a wonderful, extraordinary life." That is the promise offered by bestselling author and illustrator James A. Owen in this remarkable and inspirational meditation. In Drawing Out the Dragons, James shares personal stories and the deep truths he learned while navigating past obstacles and adversity toward a life of lasting belief and joy. We all have a grand destiny, but sometimes we feel we lack the power to achieve it. But we always have the power to choose. Every drawing, every life, is nothing but a series of choices and actions. Make your lines. Make your choices. . . . What you create from there is entirely up to you. Drawing Out the Dragons has the power to uplift, inspire, and change your life.

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Sometimes in life, you get what you need just when you need it. For me, that was the case with Drawing Out the Dragons. I was chin deep in a depression that was threatening to swallow me whole and me, being me, posted about it on my blog. It wasn't much later that I received a Facebook message from someone reminding me that they'd sent me the pdfs of not only this book, but the other two in the series. Little did either of us realize, but I'd purchased the Kindle versions back in 2016 and forgotten all about it until I found my Kindle and they were right on top staring at me. Never one to ignore such blatant hints from the universe, I curled up at the park one day and started reading. I didn't stop until I'd finished this book.

Why? Because every page spoke to me on some level. James has been through some horrendous things, but it wasn't his difficulties that had me. After all, I've long said that everyone of us on this planet has a challenge or challenges to overcome. It was the ways in which James overcame them. He never quit. Here I was contemplating the value of my own life and James is screaming from the rooftops that it's okay and that no matter what, he isn't going to let me fall. Sometimes, when everything seems the darkest, all it takes is one person saying hey, I believe in you. Sometimes all it takes is seeing how someone else survived and thrived to make you sit up, take some deep breathes, and say, "Okay world, let's give this another shot."

Thank you, James...for reminding me that I can do this and like you say in the book, "Always, always ask for what you want. Because the Universe might surprise you — and give it to you.” I'm hoping to someday be able to ask for one of those Dragon pictures because I want it to serve as a reminder of what I can do in this world. 



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