Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Must-Read Book and it's Lovely Book Trailer

Maggie Stiefvater's new book, Shiver, is coming out soon (August 1st) and I'm quite excited about it. I'm a huge fan of Urban Fantasy, and her book, Lament, was fantastic. Now that I only have a month to wait for Shiver to come out, the anticipation is killing me. I hate waiting for things I want. I'm a lot like Veruca Salt in that respect.

I love the trend of authors creating book trailers. The bookworm in me spends more time watching book trailers on YouTube than movie trailers, I have to admit. Maggie did a beautiful job on this one. She hand cut the paper, assembled it, did the stop-motion, composed and arranged the music... wow, right?

Here's the Amazon.com blurb:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Oooh, its going to be good.

So, if you are a fan of YA Urban Fantasy (Twilight readers, you know who you are!) be sure to check out Maggie Stiefvater's work. You won't be disappointed!

PS, And she's an award winning colored pencil artist and mother of two, writing by day and drawing by night. Basically, she's who I'd like to be when I find that genie in a bottle (not the Christina Aguilera song, thankyouverymuch) and have my wish.



Monday, June 29, 2009

Croeso y Elegant Snobbery! - or - A Random Post With a Few Welsh Words Thrown In

click the image if you are interested
enough to go in for a closer look

So I Googled my shop name last night (don't even tell me you don't Google yourself. I won't believe you) because my Google Alerts aren't very alert, as they always tell me crap info - such as, "Hey you just listed a new item in your shop!" and "Hey, you just added a new blog post!" which, hello, I obviously know. Meanwhile, there might be something cool going on - such as someone in Wales viewing my Facebook fan page in Welsh...

And my alert doesn't even tell me that!

Okay, perhaps that isn't very cool to anyone... but it is to me. Well, mostly because, as I was looking at the "Elegant Snobbery" finds that came up, I saw a whole bunch of jibberish with "Elegant Snobbery" thrown in and thought, "HEY! That's in Welsh!"

In case you are wondering, I don't speak Welsh. I do know a few things, like "Welcome to Wales" (Croeso y Cymru) - which is on every street sign in Wales, so I think just about any tourist knows that. And gwesty means hotel, but I only know that because I love the story of how my MIL thought there were a ton of 'Hotel Gwesty' chains all over the country, not realizing all the hotel direction signs were just written in both English and Welsh....

But I don't know anything useful, and I certainly can't read it, which is why I was so shocked that I recognized my Facebook fanpage in jibberish was actually in my hubby's native tongue (lie! he doesn't actually speak it, but he can sing the national anthem, though he does a few 'la la laaaaa's where he doesn't remember the words).

Last night at the dinner table, Will asked Gracie if she was American or Welsh and she rolled her eyes and said, "I'm Welsh," and the way she said it like, duh, what an obvious question, Dad, had me wondering if Will secretly drills into the girl's heads that they are Welsh, Welsh, and only Welsh, whenever I have my back turned.

Speaking of Welsh hubbies... guess who got his Green Card?

If you guessed Will, you'd be correct! HURRAY! I think I did a pretty good job disguising the fact that I was a total basketcase in February as we were finishing the last (for the next 10 years, at least) of the government paperwork, not knowing if Will was going to get the big red 'denied' stamp (it happens!).

But yay, he got a Green Card, instead. It just came in the mail the other day.

Anyway, so about that Welsh person looking at my Facebook fanpage... I actually shouldn't be so surprised, as I know quite a few people in Wales, some who speak Welsh. And Will knows a whole lot more. It was probably one of them, but... it just seems cool, though, doesn't it?

Or if you were in Wales, you'd say that last sentence as, "It just seems cool, like, is it?"

Ah, well. I did say this was a random post with a few Welsh words thrown in.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Morning Snobbery

I'm still in my ACEO kick, only this series is of the elegantly snooty kind. I'm challenging myself in a very big (er... little) way, as my original snobs have previously been 11 x 14 inches... and now I'm working in the 2.5 x 3.5 inch size.

That is a major size difference, in case you are wondering.

Sometimes mice and birds are snobs.

Elephants can be snobby too, you know.
(The peanuts are divine, dear)

And, of course, I can't have a sketch fest without Annelie nibbling and scribbling on my Pink Pearl eraser.

Happy weekend, everyone!


Friday, June 26, 2009

Custom Coloring Page Tutorial

Clearly I've had coloring pages on the brain, as I've been busting my behind getting my Elegant Snobbery pages made. I put together a tutorial for making custom coloring pages with your family photos over at The Mama Dramalogues so come on by and see.

It's fun, easy, quick, and a huge hit with my kids!
click {HERE}


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Rhyme Time

Gracie can't figure out the whole rhyming-words thing to save her life.

"Mom. Listen to this. Sun, moon, stars and planets all RHYME!" she excitedly shouted last night during dinner.

Um. No, Gracie, they don't.

Once upon a time, I used to look at baby Gracie and think, I am totally going to home school her. Now, three years later, absolutely no way. I just don't have the patience. Granted, we do 'school work' now - mainly alphabet and counting work book pages. Gracie loves those... but when it comes to certain things, I stress out way too easily.

Rhyming is one of those things that stresses me out. Hmm... that is a weird thing to say, huh? But its true. Gracie loves to rhyme. Unfortunately, she has absolutely no idea what to do, despite listening to rhyming poetry every day and despite spending literally hours working on simple rhymes with me. I just don't get it.

But at least I do get to have a good laugh when we have conversations like this:

Me: What is a word that rhymes with 'mouse?'

Gracie [excitedly]: BROUSE!

Me: Okay. Right. But what is a real word that rhymes with 'mouse?'

Gracie: Ummmm... I don't know. Can you give me a clue?

Me [thinking]: Here's a clue... it can be any word that rhymes with MOUSE!

Me [out loud]: What do we live in?

Gracie [looking around the room, her eyes wide]: AMERICA!


It does make me sad though, that she is so darned enthusiastic about everything, and I just get impatient and stressed. I was in school to be a teacher, back in the day. I figured teaching my four year old simple things, such as rhyming 'mouse' with 'house,' would be a piece of cake... its not.

So, besides the obvious of shoving her in preschool and letting someone else do the hard rhyming work... what do you mamas suggest? Any great learning tools work for you? I'm all ears!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Potty-Training Diaries

It's my day over at The Mama Dramalogues...
So come on by and read my latest post



Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coming Soon... Coloring Pages for the Littlest Fans

It doesn't matter how many temper tantrums my kids have -- on the days when I get an email from a mother informing me that her little kiddo requests to look at his/her favorite illustrations in my shop every day -- my bad days turn right around.

I love my littlest fans. The stories I get from the mom who tells me that she often finds her 2-year old having a one-sided conversation with Captain Monkeybones, to the mom who says her 3-year old calls my Olivia snob 'Cinderella,' and thinks she is beautiful in all her snub-nosed glory, to the 4-year old who has to look at certain colorful, cheerful pictures in my shop daily... those are the stories that make my days struggling to balance being mama and being creative illustrator, worth it.

So, for all my littlest fans, I'm working on some coloring pages that I plan to have on this blog in the next week or so. I've never done a high resolution PDF file before, so I have some kinks to work out. Hopefully it will be easier than it looks and I can have them up in a day or two. Wishful thinking.

But in the meantime, do your kids have a coloring page request? I have about 60+ illustrations in my shop, so it won't be feasible for me to make one of everything... But be sure to let me know which illustration your child loves the most in the comments to this post, and I'll do my best to include the popular ones.

Thanks and enjoy!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Daddy

Gracie spent a good half hour trying her hardest to convince me that what Will really wanted for Father's Day, was a Mr. Potato Head (and only a Mr. Potato Head, she insisted. That's all he wants. And probably a Barbie bike).

Ah, the sweetness of kids. So thoughtful, so considerate. Unfortunately for her, I bought him a few movies instead (The Boondock Saints, Fight Club and The Dark Knight... a far cry from a Mr. Potato Head and a Barbie bike, but a little more in line with his personal tastes - sorry Gracie)

So, to express her love, she drew him a Batman card and wrote him a poem:

Happy Daddy

by Gracie Hopkins
age 4

I love my daddy because he's nice
and because I really love him.
My favorite thing to do with Daddy is read a book
I love to eat spaghetti
I love Daddy, too.
Please can I go to the park soon?
I like it when we play
I love you

I asked Annelie if she wanted to write him a poem, too. She said, "No!"

Darling, sweet little two year old...

Happy Father's Day, Will!


Saturday, June 20, 2009

7 Lil' Monkeys

"Here, have a cupcake"
2.5 x 3.5 inch
colored pencil illustration

I've been itching for some original ACEOs* to add to my shop lately, so I sat down with a handful of colored pencils one afternoon this week and went to town. These are all one-of-a-kind and will not be reproduced as a print (with the exception of 'Sing a Song'), so once they are gone, they are GONE.

*Not sure what an ACEO is? Read on: An ACEO (Art Card Edition and Original) is an art trading card. They measure 2.5 x 3.5 inches, which is traditional ACEO size. They are wonderful little collectibles, and the perfect way to own awesome art and prints without breaking the bank. Think baseball card, only waaaay cooler.

"Coney Island Corn dog"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

I know its always a good idea to know your target audience when creating a piece... this one here is for the sock monkey-lovin'-corn-dog-eaters, who have a thing for stripes.

"The King"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

Okay, this isn't really The King... this is Karl, one of the best Elvis impersonators in the biz. No one can resist his crooning voice, his slick hair, his studded jumpsuit... He is quite a treat.

And perfect for the Elvis-impersonator-studded-jumpsuit-loving sock monkey fan.

"Just for You"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

I can't decide if this one is cute, or just creepy. Her eyes got a little out of control... but I like the bee!

"Monkey Loves Monkey"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

And for the sock monkey-hugging-monkey-plushie lover...

"Sing a Song"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

And for the sock monkey-singing-with-a-tweeting-bird lover...

There will be 12 prints made of this one!!

"Stephen and the Snail"
2.5 x 3.5 inch colored pencil illustration

And because sock monkeys have a thing for snails (I might be making that up, but it also might be true... you never know), here is one for the sock monkey-holding-snails lover.

Art just looks cuter, when it is tiny enough to fit in the palm of your hand, don't you think?

I think so, too.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Total Eclipse of The ... Creepy Zombie School Boys with Mullets??

I might be making assumptions here (and you know what happens to those who assume...) but every person in the world has heard of the Bonnie Tyler song "Total Eclipse of the Heart," right?

I'm not gonna lie... I love that song. What can I say. Child of the 80's. And of course, there's the music video, in all of its dreamy, otherworldly, and overly-dramatic glory. I've seen this video a lot. VH1 plays it with all of their I Love the 80s shows... but for some reason, I never questioned the HILARITY of what I was watching. Yes, I'm one of those people who accepts ridiculous music videos for being artistic...

Until now. I saw this video on YouTube, the Total Eclipse of the Heart literal video version... and I just about died laughing.

If you are sick of me posting my favorite YouTube videos... my apologies. But watch this one anyway, because it is fantastic. Seriously.

Happy Friday! I have some cute and little things to show you tomorrow, so come back!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Taboo Words

Can someone please explain to me (seriously, I'm begging you... please) why kids - particularly Gracie - feel the need to repeat the SAME thing over and over and over?

We have several taboo words in our house each day. These poor words don't deserve to be taboo. Really, I feel bad for them. They are perfectly nice words... But, as Gracie uses them for torture - repeating them at least 25 times in a 2 minute time period - we often have words that cannot be said unless she would like to spend 4 minutes on time out.

Today's taboo words: Chocolate milk and The Dixie Chicks.

Here is how things went down:
NOTE - I'm condensing our conversation, so you are not reading the word for word transcription. You will thank me later.

Gracie [ever so sweetly]: Mom, does Lola (of Charlie and Lola) drink chocolate milk?

Me: Probably.

Gracie: But I thought Lola liked pink milk, not chocolate milk.

Me: Okay.

Gracie: Is pink milk the same as chocolate milk?

Me: No. Pink milk is pink and chocolate milk is brown.

Gracie: Can I have chocolate milk?

Me: Not today.

Gracie: Can I have chocolate milk later?

Me [getting impatient]: No, Gracie, I said not today.

Gracie: I really like chocolate milk.

Me: Great.

Gracie: I think I would really love to have some chocolate milk tomorrow

Me [developing twitch]: Fantastic.

Gracie: Chocolate milk is my favorite kind of milk.

Me [eyes beginning to bulge out of skull]: Gracie, please stop talking about chocolate milk.

Gracie: Do you like chocolate milk?

Me [steam coming out of ears]: Yes, but I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Gracie: Chocolate milk is really good to drink, because milk is good for you, like exercise.

Me [blood beginning to boil]: Fantastic, but if you say chocolate milk one more time, you are going to be on time out for purposely driving me insane.

Gracie: Do you want to drink chocolate milk later?

Me [fists jammed into eyes to keep them from popping out]: Gracie. Stop.

Gracie: Do you want to drink chocolate milk so you can have strong bones?

Me [breathing fire]: CHOCOLATE MILK IS A TABOO WORD!

Seriously, I'm a word-nazi.

I'm not even gonna go into the story behind "The Dixie Chicks" becoming taboo. It would give you a headache, too.

So. Tell me, moms out there, who are wiser than me... how do I get my darling, sweet 4 year old to stop driving me nuts by saying the same word over and over and over again? Or should I just invest in better headphones, so I can drown her out? I'm all ears, and willing to listen to any advice thrown my way.

Just as long as you don't mention the word ... well, you know.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rock 'n' & Roll 'n'

Guitar Hero Jimmy
8 x 10 and 11 x 14 prints

I've been swamped with customs lately but I wanted to take a quick break to add a new print to the shop.

I don't have enough sock monkeys in my shop, do I? I didn't think so, either.

Okay, well here is another one. Meet Guitar Hero Jimmy, the most rock 'n' and roll 'n' sock monkey around. The original sketch was a custom for a little Guitar Hero lovin' boy, but it was just a regular monkey, not a sock monkey. If you readers know anything about me by now, you know that I have a thing for sock monkeys. I thought this picture was too cute to forget about, so a sock monkey he became and now I have him in the shop for all the Guitar Hero playing, sock monkey lovers out there.

I love this little guy!


Monday, June 15, 2009

Up Close and Personal - aka My Life Story

MARISA: This is Your Life!

I was tagged by Holly aka Winklepots. (thanks a LOT, Holly)

But I'll be a good sport and tell you all sorts of trivial and insignificant information about me... hey, I pretty much do that everyday, any way!

What is your current obsession?
How am I even supposed to begin answering that? I'm a very obsessive person, so this question is kinda vague. But here are a couple of answers that might work: Colored pencils (specifically my Design Spectracolor pencils), cream pies (mmmmm....), Fettucine Alfredo (I have the best recipe. Send me an email if you want it. Seriously, its the best), Pandora Radio , and anything Regency (Captain Wentworth! *swoon!*), especially Jane Austen's Persuasion.

What are you wearing today?
A t-shirt and yoga pants. I don't actually do yoga, though. The pants are comfy.

Whats for dinner?
Beats the heck out of me.

What would you eat for your last meal?
My MIL promised that for my last meal she'd make her famous (to me, at least) Aubergine Bake which is an eggplant casserole so unbelievably good, I can't even begin to describe it to you. I've made it a few times, but mine are never as good as Anne's.

What's the last thing you bought?
This original painting from The Dreamy Giraffe:

The one, the only.... FLOWERINA!

What are you listening to right now?

I'm listening to the most recent mix CD I made, titled, 'Marisa's Industrial Alternative Electronica Rock Pop Mix!'

It is filled with industrial, alternative, electronica, rock, and pop music (bet you didn't see that one coming). At the moment, the Scissor Sister's Comfortably Numb is on. I love that song.

What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
Baskin Robbins' Gold Medal Ribbon. Yum. But if I'm anywhere other than BR, I always buy cookies and cream.

What do you think of the person who tagged you?
I think Holly is pretty darned awesome, but thats mostly flattering to me since she is my Doppleganger (ie: A double, an identical replica of a person. The idea behind this is that everyone has a Doppleganger, an identical copy of themselves somewhere in the world. If the person is good, then the Doppleganger will be evil and vice versa. It is even said that if the two should meet, then they will both perish) information taken from Unexplained-Myseries.com

Holly is the evil twin, in case you were wondering. Though we did meet when I flew to Portland to hang out with her in April. Neither one of us perished, but we did laugh a lot.

If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?

I will take one of the apartments along The Royal Crescent, in Bath, England. I used to walk past The Royal Crescent on my way to school in the mornings back in my study abroad college days. Best way to start the morning, I'm telling you.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?

I'd love to be drinking a cappuccino and eating a pastry along a canal in Venice, right about now. With my friend, Jenni. Without my kids.

Which language do you want to learn?
I'm trying (slowly) to learn French right now. I've been to Paris a few times and can't wait to take my girls there. Hopefully the next time I go, I'll actually be able to order my dinner without sounding like a complete idiot. At the moment, the only thing I can order properly is Croque Monsieur... and I hate Croque Monsieur.

What is your favorite quote?
There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it.

-Minnie Aumonier

Isn't that dreamy and beautiful? That has been my favorite since I was little.

What is your favorite color?
Metallic dark silver. Always has been, always will be.

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
My itsy bitsy, polka dot bikini. After going from a size 16 (thanks a lot, kids) (And Sonic bacon cheeseburgers) down to a small six, I wear my bikini proudly.

Plus, it is the only thing I own that shows off my tattoo. I love my tattoo.

What is your dream job?
I want to be a writer of young adult urban fantasy. That has been my dream job FOREVER. I'm nearly done with my first book, and it will hopefully end up as a trilogy. I have them all planned out, but we'll see if I get a publishing deal when I'm done with book one.

Cross your fingers for me, please!

If you could invent any useful invention, what would it be?
Holy heck, this is a long list of questions.

Okay, my answer would be... um... probably a machine that hooks up to my camera, scanner and computer, and uploads all of my pictures, then opens my editing software and edits them perfectly, then goes into my Etsy account and creates all of my listings for me. That would give me about 1/3 of my life back, I swear.

If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
MOHOP SANDALS! I want 'em!

Describe your personal style?
I wear skirts most of the time. I've very girly. But when I'm not wearing a skirt, I'm happy to be in jeans and a Winklepots t-shirt!

What is your favorite TV show?
Hard to decide on a favorite. I'll go with Lost. But that is followed very, very closely by Moonlight (cancelled after one season???!) The O.C (on DVD, obviously, as the show is over, now). and Gossip Girl.

Heehee, I got Will into all of them, too. He especially loves The O. C. and Gossip Girl.

What are you going to do after this?
Probably call Holly and shout at her for tagging me with such a long questionaire. Seriously. When is this thing going to end?

What are your favorite movies?
Becoming Jane, Pride and Prejudice (2005 version), Love Actually, About a Boy, PS, I Love You, Ever After, My Best Friend's Wedding, When Harry Met Sally, Pretty in Pink. To name a few.

What's your favorite fruit?
Anything that fits on a cocktail stick drenched in rum and fruit juice.

If you could swap lives with someone famous, who would it be?
Absolutely no one. I do not want to be shown in magazines with my cellulite and bad hair days for all the world to see, thankyouverymuch.

Your favorite books?
Anything found in a library, pretty much.

Are you a home body or do you prefer to be out?
Home body. Sometimes I'm surprised to find that an entire week has gone by, with the only time I've stepped out of my apartment being to get the mail and to let the girls play outside.

Weird, I know.

Polka Dots or checks?
Polka dots are cuter and just scream, "look at us, we're fun!"
(BTW, I'm straight-up copying Holly's anwers now. This questionaire is getting too long for my attention span)

Favorite candy?
Snickers, Twix and anything made by Cadbury from England. Lindt truffles are awesome too!
(oh wait... copying Holly's answer doesn't work here. Much to Will's dismay, I hate Cadbury chocolate)

Do you collect something?
Grey hairs. Yeah, it's sort of a collection that found me, not the other way around.
(Ha! Holly's answer doesn't work here, either. No Grey hair for me. Hopefully never. My mom is in her 50's and doesn't have a single grey hair yet. Hopefully I take after her.)

I do collect mermaid stuff, from artwork, to ornaments. I don't display them, though. I guess I'm a closet mermaid collecter.

FINALLY! I'm done! And if you got this far, you deserve a certificate of completion. Here. You can print this one up, frame it, and hang it next to your desk to remind you always of your great achievement.

Ordinarily I wouldn't be cruel enough to tag anyone, but Mwa-ha-ha-hahahaha... I'm going to play mean right now and tag:

Marie - Life in Our Village
Amanda - Oh Mandie's Blog
KJ - The Adventures of KJ and the Dreamy Giraffe
Anne - Casserole Blog
Jean - Jean's Blog

The rules :
1. Respond and rework; answer the question on your blog and replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention.
2. Tag five other people.

I chose not to follow the rules and replace a question with my own question. Yeah, I'm a rebel.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Just a Couple of Things...

I've been busy blogging over at The Mama Dramalogues, and wanted to share a couple of links for you this weekend.

I've been crafting it up for Gracie, and made this Shabby Sweet Ponytail Flower tutorial for all you crafty, fabric scrap-addicted moms who want a cute project to make this weekend:

And if you are looking for a quick laugh, come on by and read today's Show and Tell post.

Readers Share: Phrases you NEVER expected to hear yourself shout until having kids.

This post comes complete with an illustration the lovely Gracie drew of me shouting at Annelie.

Yes, that is a pig nose. Thanks, Gracie!

Come on by The Mama Dramalogues and have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Be Still, My Regency-Loving Heart

Remember a few months ago when I went on and on about about Captain Wentworth (swoon!) and my love for Persuasion and all things Jane Austen? {read here!} Well, I have a new favorite Regency novel now. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I will not tell you one single thing about it. I refuse to ruin this delectable treat for you

... but let me just clarify: It's Pride and Prejudice. And ultra-violent zombie mayhem. Seriously. That's genius.

I don't know, folks... I think I might need to go in a new direction for my shop. Can't you just see it now?

And of course, I know just the illustration to begin my shop revamp:

Regency Snob Miranda... and Zombies!

Hmmmm.... Perhaps my artistic identity crisis is taking its toll on my brain.

But if you haven't read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith), you might want to run out and get it.

Genius, I say. Genius.


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