Monday, December 26, 2016

Dear God

I prayed, and I will continue to do so, but I thought maybe writing this all down might help to amplify my voice and the voices of others who desperately need your help and love right now.

Yesterday was Christmas, and I hoped for a Christmas miracle.  It didn't happen.  We all got together, as a family, but there was someone missing.  Someone who says, "I'm fine." but we all know that's not so.  We all laughed and enjoyed one another's company, but we all felt that hole in our family circle.  Someone who needs You right now, someone who needs to know how integral a part of us all he is.  We know he's facing some really hard crises right now, and we do our best to understand though we might not always have the right words to set him back on the right path.  We can't possibly understand the weight of what he's feeling at this moment, but we DO understand he's missing right now, and he's alone because he won't let us in.  We all felt the weight of that yesterday.  I know right now we all know he's fought difficulties for years in the past and won.  God he won, please remind him he did, and so he can again.  I know he can.

Bring the light of understanding to him that he needs to fight.  He HAS to, for himself most of all, but for his little girl who loves and needs him so much.  He has to, for us all, because we need him.  I need my little brother, mom and dad need their son, my other brothers need their brother, and my sister needs him too.  His nephews need him so that one day he can be that uncle that they know was so strong he overcame so many obstacles.  He's run this obstacle course before, maybe in a different way, with a different obstacle but he won that race and he can win again.  God, let him know I know it's SO hard to keep going sometimes.  Believe me, I feel that way too, and there's a lot wrong in my life also, but I keep going because I must, because I have people that need me too, so I know what it is to fight, even if it's not the same battle, it's a battle none the less.

If he needs me, open his heart and let him know I am here.  I'm here and I'm not going anywhere.  I will come and be there for him as a sister and a friend because I love him.  Even if my car breaks down I will walk there if I must, because if he needs me, I will be there and that's that.  He is a huge part of my life, and I want to keep him in it.  I claim him, and I always will as my brother.  I don't have a lot, but I have love, I have an ear, and a shoulder.  They're his for as long as he needs them.  Please let him understand that alone isn't the way.  Alone only makes things worse and harder to bear.  When there is a burden, it's easier with a family to share the weight of it.

God, touch him, and all those who, like him who are going through these times, Your hand is big enough to touch the whole world.  Make him and them all understand there is no alone, because You are there.  Force their hearts open so that the love of those around them can flood inside and help the healing begin, and give them the strength to fight back.  He needs to fight that darkness and step away from that bottomless pit, pull them all back from the brink.  My brother is hurting, but though he might be the one I mostly feel, it wakes in me the knowledge that there are so many hurting in much the same way and they all need our love.  We all know at least one, and maybe together we can hold hands and send all our love to them all with Your help.

God, help us all claim our missing family members back this year, and help us all to heal, because I don't want another Christmas to be missing a vital part of our family.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Breaking All the Rules

Merry Christmas Eve!!!

A special present for my bazillions of readers....I've broken all the rules to bring the last two Christmas book reviews before Christmas, with only hours to go!  Ignoring my tendencies to color every page leading into a post and every page before posting them wasn't easy, but I did it all the same.  I have some lovely gems to share today.  Two books, both with lovely super thick pages that would take any medium well, from markers, to water colors to pencils and crayons.

The first is Johanna Basford's book Johanna's Christmas.  This was where my first compulsions had to be set aside so I could bring this to you quickly.  There are lots of lovely things to color even before you get to the first picture.  And as I love to see, there are coloring tips from an actual honest to God artist, so you will be able to take tips from someone other than me!  I love seeing artists include this in their books because it's as if they are saying I want your experience to be the best ever you can have, and they're encouraging you to try new things.  I do need to note this in my blog as requested by the author in her book, so that should she wish to look up who's posting what, she can easily find it, and so I will honor that for her, #JohannasChristmas is a fun book with lots of pages that are technically single sided on very thick paper, but you know me, I'll likely color the back sides that are just designs also......sometimes it's not the best to have these compulsive tendencies.  This makes using any medium really nice and though you probably don't need page buffers, I would for myself just because I'm accustomed to doing it to preserve the integrity of the art on other pages.

I'll also break up my post, by placing pictures and then text, not my usual format, but I felt posting the picture in this case before talking about it would be helpful.

I thought showing you the lead in pages would give you a little chuckle in your funny bones, because you've seen me coloring all the lead in pages in previous posts and know not only did I have to skip a lot to get to the first picture, but you also know I'm going back to color them, soooo yes, it is a bit funny.  Also, the first picture was a nice one but as I was coloring it, I kept thinking, what if Grandpa had reindeer head mounted on his wall?  I could just see one saying "I remember the Christmas of 58, good ol' Betsy here (pats his shotgun) and I ran out after hearing a noise on the roof.  I shot into the darkness and down came this old girl (pats the reindeer on the wall).  Well, I knew then what'd happened and best I could figure this must be good ol' Dancer.....not sure how Santa flies with 7 reindeer now........."  I could just see someone's grandfather somewhere telling that story or a similar one as I giggled my way through coloring that picture.

The second book is also a super fun one, with super thick lovely paper and would be great also with any medium.  You can leave the pages in the book or take them out to color, cut, fold, glue etc.  there are scored lines in the paper to help you know where and how to fold them.  I didn't get far with coloring this as you'll see before I decided I needed to get the post done before Christmas Eve was over.  It's the Coloring book of Cards and Envelopes Christmas by Rebecca Jones.  I take it she has other books of cards for other seasons or holidays, but to confirm that I'd have to google her, which I will at some point to confirm, but the title leads me to think that.  Either that or she will be releasing some.......

Again I'll post the photos and then speak a little about them.

Ms. Jones thought of everything when she did this book.  I tried to photograph and share in a way where you get to see that each page has two cards, each card has it's own envelope designed just for that specific card.  You could mix and match them, but I love that they match.  The envelopes can be colored inside and out as there are internal designs which I think make them that much nicer.  She includes information on how to fold them, and they are scored as I previously stated, to help with this.  The last lovely touch she includes is a sticker to close the envelope that matches the design of the card inside.  As I said, she thought of everything!  This would be a wonderful book for yourself or as a gift for someone that likes this hobby to use throughout the year in preparation for the upcoming Christmas.  I think that's lovely just because it would help you keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year round, and could warm you any time you needed that little touch of Christmas to help you keep it.

At any rate, I'm sorry I didn't color all the pictures before sharing, but I likely will share them finished later......maybe.  I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a beautiful new year, all year long.  Happy coloring, and be sure to share your finds with us also!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Chicken Teriyaki

Chicken is a great way to cook for the amount of people you need to, and also is more healthy than other cuts of meats.

I've found that the cooking temperature and time varies little whether it's straight from the freezer or you thaw/marinate it.  There are so many easy ways to prepare chicken, so there's probably little chance of getting tired of it, unless you have no imagination.  Today I prepared Chicken Teriyaki straight from the freezer.  What I mean is, the chicken didn't thaw and so was easier to cut into bite size pieces since it wasn't "slipping" on the cutting board as it might thawed.  I buy the bags of skinless boneless breast pieces, so there's little fat.

I cooked the chicken first in a large wok style pan since it took longest to cook, then added the frozen veggies later.  I chose a pepper blend, though you can use broccoli, carrots or whatever you like.  I added that when the chicken was mostly done, and added some teriyaki marinade.  You can either do that or make it yourself from soy, ginger, garlic etc.  I'm sure there are dozens of recipes out there.  But I went for quick and easy.

I can pretty much cook anything, by taste if I must, but I have never mastered rice.  Well that and fried chicken....either it's done on the outside or inside but never both......LOL I may at some point, when I have a kitchen larger than a teacup, invest in a rice cooker, but that's impractical for my current kitchen, so I used minute rice......  I know, it's probably horrible for you since it comes in a bag and isn't straight from the rice plant to table, but it's what I can handle rice wise.....and believe me, I've used EVERY technique out there, and followed directions to a T and still just can not do rice from plant to table LOL.  It's ok though, I will cheat.

At any rate, I'll share the pictures of it as I cooked it for you, it really was little prep/cook time, and though I cooked extra so I didn't have to cook tomorrow, you can easily adjust for one or two people by using less chicken or veggies.  I think all in all, it might have been a whopping 30 minutes from freezer to table and it was delicious and easy, and unless you really want to add more spices, is great with just the sauce added and cooked in a little  while the veggies cook.

I have put instructions for easy chicken and dumplings on my FB page before, but if people like/want, I can always add directions here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Two New Books and Christmas With My Niece

YAAAAY for Christmas, the bestest time of the year!!

We had Christmas today with my niece so I'm later than I would have been posting about the two new books I'm reviewing.  My niece got a lot of lovely lovelies from Auntie Alicia, and Grammy DeeDee and Grampy Frank, and Jason and me.  The idea of getting her to start liking animals a little more and not be so freaked out by them hopefully will work, she seemed to take to the zoomer hedgehog that she's named Pinky, and when she wouldn't flip on her own, she helped her flip.  I didn't want to do a cat or dog because she's a little leery of them already, so a completely different animal will help I hope.  Of course Grammy DeeDee found LOTS of lovely dollies and toys which I'm sure will get lots of play time in their turn.  Auntie Alicia and I spent the whole day putting together a Legos American girl toy house for her.  The box says an 8 year old can put them together, so I thought we should go find one since our niece is only 4 for a little while longer.  My sister finally got it made and decorated and of course took photos.  I can't blame her for her triumphant post, that was definitely an accomplishment, I think she should add it to her resume.

There's a shopkins one for them to complete at Auntie Alicia's house......GOOD LUCK SIS!!!  My niece took Pinky with her, which I'm glad to see, this is the 2nd animal friend she's taken with her that I've picked out, so I think maybe one day, she'll love animals too.  Fingers, toes, eyes etc crossed.  Mom's always had an eye for super cute things for girls, and boys too since we had brothers, so it wasn't surprising to see all the lovelies she found, including home made clothing she'd found at her annual church bazaar.  All in all, I think we all had fun, though I think our niece may have felt a little left out on the building front, but when she did find things to put together I tried to let her know she'd done a great job finding things.  Anyway, it's built now so time to superglue the heck out of it and play play play!

Alright, on to the new books....I bet you can guess the genre!  You got it, Christmas!!! Yay your team, you're just so smart!  The first book is another Sherri Baldy book, this time her Hot Cocoa Winter book filled with giant eyed lovelies.  I always have to remember other colors during this time of year because I tend to lean towards coloring with red, green, silver and gold.  But so many colors are lovely at this time.  My mother has a mostly pink tree that is gorgeous, and of course my FAVORITE color Christmas lights are the blues.  I never did know why, I just find them so pretty and soothing.  I did try my hand at layering colors and shading, so there were about 5 different reds or greens or browns etc in different areas to blend and shade.  As is her inclination, each page is one sided, and two copies, to either share or color yourself.  Her work is just simply too cute, and I hope everyone loves them as much as I do.

The second book I'm reviewing, Magic Christmas, I finished the first picture last night.  If I had to sum up Cherina Kohey's work in one word, I'd have to choose pretty.  All the art work has fine lines that are just so exact, so precise, so detailed, it's just beyond lovely to look at.  The first piece in the book is a lovely lovely tree, which I colored each needle separately, and went through about half a prismacolor green pencil in the process to keep the tip sharp for the fine details, but it was TOTALLY worth it.  These are one sided pictures, so any medium would work, though I'd encourage still using bleed through pages just in case if you plan on using markers.  As I looked through the book before beginning to color, as I normally do with a new book, I just kept saying, "Oh, that's pretty."  If you plan on getting books this Christmas, I would say this would be one worth a look.  The art work is crisp, clean and seems to capture Christmas.

I have a few more books to review for Christmas, but with only days left I'm not sure I can make it before, but I'll do my very best (one of the artists was a stinker, and idk if they knew of my anal tendencies, but let's just say there's lots to color BEFORE the first picture)(that's a joke of course, I'm sure it wasn't a joke on me that they did so much colorable things before the first picture)!!

Friday, December 16, 2016


All together now, to the tune of Jingle Bells....don't worry if you don't know the words, you'll catch on.........Hohoho hohoho hohohohoho......hohohohohohohohohohohohohoho!

See how easy that was? We could also have done it with Christmas books, Christmas books, Christmas Christmas booooooks.....LOL.  As you have probably figured out, I love Christmas and all things Christmas.  The lights, decorations, (blue lights are my favorite though they're all pretty), I even used to like the crowds and all the shoppers before anxiety kind of kicked me in the butt.  It was fun to watch their faces as they shopped for something for themselves or someone else and the way people lit up when they found just that PERFECT thing for a loved one.  This happens all through the year and is just as fun to see any other time, but it happens most at this time of year.

In the spirit of Christmas, I'll be sharing Christmas books, and I have a few......or so.  Today's is a fun book by Hannah Lynn called A Whimsy Girls Christmas coloring book.  For those of you familiar with Sherri Baldy, and who love the big eyed sweeties in her books, you'll be drawn to these also.  They're big eyed, but there are a lot of differences in her art.  Ms. Lynn includes a lot of room detail, which I don't think I see much of in Ms Baldy's art.  For her, it's all about the cutie pies.  I love that she includes coloring tips, which I've done in my blogs also, but it's so nice to see artists helping people along their way to feeling successful in their coloring attempts too.  Like Ms. Baldy's Besties, there are two copies of each picture in this book which is awesome for trying different mediums, or sharing with friends and loved ones.

I love that Ms. Lynn also includes a preview page with all the girls and the titles to each picture.  I've seen this in a few other artist's coloring books....and I'm as of yet undecided if I'll color them or not.....I might, but as you'll see in my photo here, they are TINY so they'd be super tricky to color, although ....they're colorable, and therefore cry out for color!  These are on a thinner paper, but they are one sided so if you put junk sheets in between them, you should be fine to use even markers, or heck, just tear them out and color too!  Normally, I share the pictures in the order they show up in the book, but this time I'm going to share the big page first, just because ........ CHRISTMAS!!!  I'll try and color the other books as fast as I can so I can share them for you in case you need to beef up your Christmas coloring book collection too!  But for today....enjoy Ms. Lynn's art, it's super cute and I think you'll love it!

Hopefully you enjoy my Christmas pictures for today and be sure to share yours too!!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A New Book by John Bigwood

The title is A Million Christmas Cats: Festive Felines to Color.

Yes it's another Christmas book.....yaaaay!!! Although it's more wintery than Christmasy I think.  The drawings are of pleasantly plump kitties doing various things or representing various things such as the lead in/cover where they appear even as snow flakes.  This lets the mind wander a bit to let your creativity run a little on the wild side.  I did the first three entries, naturally, since there was a title page and an intro.  Also, we have a new medium which I used on the first few pages, and I'll discuss the pluses and minuses of this.

I ordered 2....yes 2 sets of markers, I got birthaday money last month from my sissy so that was a fun thing to get and try out.  I love how markers lend that vibrancy that you would love to pictures, I think the gel pens did that even more so.  I'd say mix mediums for different effects too and it might make for interesting pages.  What you might want to look out for are the bleed through effects.  I'd say the easiest pages to use are one sided and putting bleed through pages in between your book pages or tearing out the page to color to protect the integrity of the other art pieces.  I usually do this on two sided books anyway to protect it from the ink bleeding over from the printing process, but it will serve you well with markers to use several sheets.

When I was using the markers I was also reminded of the effect I noticed as a child and forgot about.  As you use markers, the integrity of the paper can be breached with soaking, so that as you go over a spot more than one time, you may notice fibers of the paper coming off the rest of the paper from the wetness.  I would encourage using thicker paper and attempting one go over to try and avoid this effect unless you were looking for that effect in the art as it also can lend an additional feature, perhaps on hair or fur that might soften it or make it appear more like hair.  I'm sure other people might have more input on what you can do with that effect or where it might work for you.  You can also try printing pages from your books to practice on if you are trying to come up with your own style of using this medium.

I'll first post the pages from the book and then I'll post the markers and how they came packaged for you, so you can see what to expect if you decide to order some for yourself.  I used the markers on the first few pages and I think you might be able to see some of the bleed through on those, and then switched to colored pencils for the 3rd one.  I could see a little bleed through from the markers on this page as well, but I'm not sure how that photographed, so I'm not sure if it'll be apparent to you.  This was a two sided book, so not the best choice for this medium but the pages were also thicker, so there was perhaps less bleed through here than there would have been on other books.

Hopefully you will enjoy the pictures shared here, and of course if you have helpful hints I'd love to see them shared!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ms. Baldy Books and Another Christmas Book

Last post I couldn't recall if I'd reviewed all the books I had from Ms. Baldy.

I had received a few from my sister on my mother's birthday this year.  She got everyone gifts, it was a great surprise.  I'll post the covers from that, and also share a picture my niece did for me when I babysat in June.  We did one from the Birthday book by Ms. Baldy, and she kept the one I did, and I kept hers, it was a great time to have a book with two prints.  We also tried our hand at drawing, and I'll put that here, when we draw, my niece copies me, so I try to go slowly and make things simple so she can follow along.  Our drawings were from a child's show called shimmer and shine.  I had taken over the water color pencils from my sister because I thought it'd be great fun to color with her and then water color them with the brushes, and we did have fun doing that and much more together.

The Christmas book I'm reviewing is a small one that I'd gotten last year from the Hallmark store.  I've only just gotten to color in this one.  It's got tear away pages, and also there are some things in this that are meant to be taken out and used to decorate.  It's called Christmas Designs by Peter Pauper Press.  I'll first post those photos and then follow them by the covers of the books of Ms. Baldy, and then my niece's drawings and art.  I think she does a bang up job for a 4 year old.....then again, she could say hippopotamus at the age of two, so she's a pretty smart cookie.

Hopefully you enjoy today's sharing, and will share with us too!  Happy Arting!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

First Water Color Painting attempt and another Sherri Baldy Book

I decided to do this book because there are two of each entry in the Besties books by Ms Baldy.

I think I reviewed two books by her, I'll have to look back in my posts, but this is a third one, Big Beautiful Fluffy Girls Volume One.  This book features girls that have a little more meat on their bones but are cute and pretty none the less.  Ms Baldy's books are popular with a lot of people, and I think when she did the fluffy besties, they kind of sold far more than she probably anticipated.  Her artwork is cute and simple which makes coloring them quick and easy without too much stress on tiny details so it is easier for those with vision problems, but when I view coloring done by others, there is a LOT of detail in the shading and finished projects by others.  I'm amazed at how beautifully, and lovingly people complete their coloring.

You can see a LOT of other people's art work on Ms. Baldy's facebook page, or at Ms. Marotta's website.  It's great to see so many who take coloring so seriously, and own their art.  While I've been coloring nonstop since childhood, I still see those who are doing this, far above my own skill level.  I love seeing it to be honest, and I'm hoping that they get the fullest benefits out of their coloring as well.  There are so many benefits to coloring, I've stated them before, and can again, but it's just amazing what you can get out of something you put into for free time, or relaxing time, beyond just having a pretty picture to see.

I did try my new water color paint set, and had ordered some inexpensive brushes, though, I'm afraid, I'm just not as adventurous or brave as others.  I think my sister would be a great one to explore the world of water color painting.  She'd probably have used EVERY SINGLE brush, whereas I only got brave enough to try one, and it was the smallest one I could find so that I wouldn't overdo the water aspect.  Also, my anal retentive nature precluded me from trying to mix colors, and I was VERY careful not to mess up my colors in the water color palette I it isn't always easy to be adventurous when you're just that anal LOL.  I think most craft stores offer classes in this or that art venue, and I'm not sure if they're free, or if they cost, but I might have to look at this if I'm to further explore water color, or I might have to research on my own to see techniques to share.  Either way, I'm sure you'll get a laugh out of my pictures as I knew.........KNEW that my colors would be pristine before AND after my painting, so I thought I'd take pictures to share so you could get a giggle.

I also had a cup of water for yellow/red/blue as they are primary colors so that I wouldn't mess up my palette.  I tore out the page so that the ones further in wouldn't get wet, and Ms. Baldy's book was "waxy" so I simply put the page to paint on top so I had a good foundation for it.  At any rate, I'll share the pictures for you so you can giggle and hopefully get enjoyment out of my "exploration" of water color painting.

As you can see, the paint set I got came with a brush, but the set of brushes I got were not expensive, and are meant to help me explore and share water color painting with you if I can get better with my technique.  Each type is meant for shading, coloring etc, but as I said before, I only used one for my first attempt.  And of course, I showed the before and after of the paint set so you could giggle at my tendency to be so very anal in things I do.  I don't think it's the worst ever first water color painting attempt, but I'm pretty sure it's also not the best ever as I'm sure that somewhere on this earth someone picked up a brush and paints their first time and created something amazing as their natural talent and eye would allow for them to do.  I'm also sure that their palette was not likely to have been kept so pristine as they likely mixed colors to come up with new colors to lend whatever effect they needed to their art.

I'm sure I'll be attempting this again on other paper types and books, but as I'm no expert, if you want to learn more I'd certainly encourage you to seek out other sources for their advice on how to better create the effects you'd like to see, and as always, f you make attempts, I'd love to see your art too!