More hilarity from NPR

If I don’t finish NaNoWriMo, I’m blaming Linda Holmes…

(BTW The Sound of Music is one of my top 5 movies of all time. I asked my husband for tickets to the local singalong for my birthday, but he refused. Adamantly.)


Post-NaNoWriMo Update: Well, I did not finish my 50,000 words this year, but I can’t really blame Linda Holmes. The good news is, I wrote 10,000 words and have a decent idea for a novel–better than the one I did complete during the 2012 NaNoWriMo. 🙂

I can’t stop laughing!

Supposed to be doing my daily wordcount for NaNoWriMo and got distracted on NPR…


Hand-making a journal

During the last few months of 2012, I took an Artist’s Way class. My major project for the program was hand-making two books. Here are the high-level steps, as well as a downloadable document (Handmaking a Journal) in case you want more details to try making your own book.

  1. Paint the front and back covers.
  2. Paint the end papers (inside of the covers) and glue them in.
  3. Put the cover together using book cloth (binding tape) and glue.
  4. Prepare the paper that goes on the inside—the “signatures.”
  5. Prepare for sewing by making holes in the paper and spine.
  6. Sew in the signatures, adding beads, buttons, etc. as desired.
  7. Start using the book!

Now please keep in mind, this was a creativity class, not a book-making class—so don’t judge my efforts too harshly!


My two finished journals (front covers)


Journal 1 – Two different covers outside…


Journal 1 – …same covers inside.


Journal 1 – Ditto


Journal 2 – Two different covers – Can you read the poem on the front cover?


Journal 2 – Inside of front cover – A pastoral scene…


Journal 2 – Inside back cover – What’s that blue thing flying through space? The TARDIS!!


Two finished journals on the shelf!

Small Stones – January 27 and 29

January 27

Note to spouses everywhere: A head cold does not make a good birthday present. But it is a good reminder how tasty OJ, tea, and hot lemonade are. 🙂


January 29

How heavenly is it when you have a cold and your ears finally start to pop??


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

The eggs have arrived!

Here is my small stone for January 26, courtesy of my husband. 🙂

Chris Kafer

Our return from a week long vacation in Orlanda, FL was greeted with the first two eggs from our girls! They had excellent care from their two new “godparents” David and Julie.  I left plenty of water and food for the chickens so we asked D&J to lower and raise the ramp each day and maybe give them a sprinkle of oatmeal, and that was supposed to be it.

What none of us expected was the blast of cold air from the north that brought below freezing weather with freezing rain to Raleigh.  I woke up in the middle of the night on Thursday worried that the water would freeze in their waterers. How horrible would I have felt if they had died of dehydration?  I couldn’t get back to sleep.

Friday we get a call telling us that the water had indeed frozen asking us what they should do.  We…

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Small Stones – January 25 – Catching up from vacation

Orlando Museum of Art. After stopping by the Orlando Science Center and deciding it was too kid-focused, we stumbled on the next-door Orlando Museum of Art. What a find!

Some of the regular exhibitions include American portraits, American landscapes, contemporary art, ancient American art (Aztec, Zapotec, etc.), and African art. Nothing unusual for most museums we visit, but, wow, the curation was excellent. Not only are the pieces of art very high quality, but the notes accompanying them provide more context and understanding than most.  (I think we are becoming museum snobs—we can be very critical of poorly curated exhibitions.)

But the most fabulous exhibition was Contemporary Glass Sculpture. The variety of glass—blown sculpted, combined with other media—gave me a new appreciation for glass art. Here are links to two of the artists we liked the most:

  • Christopher Ries – Ries’ sculptures are cut, ground, and polished super-high-quality optical glass. When you walk around the pieces, the shapes themselves are beautiful, and the images inside the glass change. Amazing.
  • Stephen Knapp – Knapp creates “paintings” by installing pieces of glass at varying angles on a wall, then lighting them so different colors and shapes appear. Hard to describe, cool to view.

I highly recommend a visit to the OMA when you are in Orlando. And if you are a member of your own local museum, check to see if there is a reciprocal membership arrangement.


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 24 – Catching up from vacation

Hogwarts at a distance

Hogwarts at a distance

Universal Islands of Adventure. We lucked out choosing to go to Orlando at this time of year. Small crowds, short waits, comfortable temperatures (low 70s). I can’t imagine how miserable it would be at the height of summer crowds and summer heat. Oy.

Ride of the Day: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. I am a Harry Potter fan, so naturally this would be a favorite, but I was surprised how good it was. The designers went to a lot of effort to amuse those in line as they snake through Hogwarts. We actually went so fast that we were wishing for some lines so that we could look at the displays and listen to the talking paintings and other things along the route. The ride itself was excellent. These simulations really make you feel like you are flying. I’d love to see the inner workings and figure out how they do it. How much does the seat actually move? We had to do this ride twice!

Runner up: The Amazing Adventures of Spider Man – Another 3D ride. You feel like you really are falling from the top of the skyscrapers down to street level. We did this one twice too!

Other fun…

  • The Incredible Hulk Coaster – This was a really twisty turny roller coaster. My husband wouldn’t try it—and I have to admit, it took my stomach a while to recover.
  • Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls – This has to be one of the original rides at Universal. Do they even show Dudley Do-Right on TV anymore? The cheese factor is high, but if you like to get wet, this is a fun one. Or you can stand on the bridge and watch everyone else get wet…
  • Jurassic Park River Adventure – The cheese factor is high on this ride too. So-so animatronics, but a nice splash. Took a couple hours to dry off in the mild weather—would be great in the hot summer.
  • Flight of the Hippogriff – A family friendly rollercoaster in Harry Potter land, this was actually pretty good, but the 45-second ride did not merit the 45-minute wait.

I was disappointed the Dragon Challenge was closed for maintenance. Two rollercoasters flying past each other at high speeds. Looked fun–and scary!

All in all, it was worth a day at each Universal park in the off season, but I’m not sure I would ever visit during busy season.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot–when you visit Hogsmeade, be sure to try the Butterbeer!


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home. (Another large stone…)



Small Stones – January 23 – Catching up from vacation

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The Morse Museum has an expansive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works—stained glass windows, Tiffany lampshades, blown glass, jewelry, etc. It is well worth a couple hours’ visit if you are in Orlando.

I found the Daffodil Terrace from his home, Laurelton Hall, intriguing. It is an 18’x32′ terrace with eight marble columns, each topped with glass daffodils embedded in concrete. A display showed the evolution of how the daffodil flowers were made, first a single piece of yellow glass, then a more detailed single piece of yellow glass, then individual pieces of glass for each of the petals, carefully placed in the concrete.

More subtle than some of Tiffany’s other work (see the Chapel for magnificence), but lovely, lovely.


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.

Small Stones – January 22 – Catching up from vacation

Kennedy Space Center. Three things:

  1. When you go into space in a rocket, you are basically sitting on a bomb and letting it explode underneath you.

    Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center

    Rocket Garden at KSC (see the person at lower left?)

  2. According to Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes, who was on a Soyuz mission, when you reenter the earth’s orbit, it is like driving your car down the interstate and watching it disintegrate around you. The Soyuz had three main components: the habitation section, the reentry capsule, and the service module. While you sit in the reentry capsule, the habitation section and service module burn up on reentry.

    Marcos Pontes

    Marcos Pontes

  3. Remember on I Dream of Jeannie in the opening credits how Major Nelson lands in his reentry capsule on the beach and finds Jeannie’s bottle? The reentry capsule really is about that small. (Sorry, didn’t get a good photo.)

Awe-inspiring what these astronauts do…

Chris and Karin on the Moon

Chris and Karin on the Moon


For the mindfulness challenge at Writing Our Way Home.