Monday, July 14, 2014

#MondayMadeIt & #IMWAYR: Minecraft cake, The Pancake Menu page reveal, & The Little Seahorse by Sheri Fink

Wow!  What a fun weekend!  My son's birthday and a fun writing workshop... I'm linking up today with Monday Made It as well as It's Monday: What are you reading?

Here is Monday Made it #1:  This awesome Minecraft cake!
How did I make you ask?  Here's what I did...

  • Bake two cakes (I used 2 mixes), each in a 8" square pan (it takes a bit longer since it is a thick layer).
  • I made 2 batches of frosting, one I dyed brown (with Wilton dye) and one batch split in half and dyed two different shades of green.
  • After the cakes cooled on a cooling rack I cut them with a cake leveler on the top and sides, and put them on a turntable to frost.
  • Once the two cakes were frosted on the sides with the brown I used melting chocolates and made a thin layer of chocolate between parchment paper.  I then cut them in little squares and put them on the sides.
  • Then on the top I made a grid so that I could make some grass sections light green and others deeper green.  To make the grass I used a ziploc bag (the freezer quart size works the best) with a small corner cut.
  • Once it was done (hooray) it went in the fridge.  One of my kids made a dandelion candle to go on it too : )
Whew! The cake was a big made it--from start to finish I think it was about 3 hours for baking and frosting and it was well received : )
My other made it this past week is my first put together page of The Pancake Menu: What will you order? Menu & Cookbook.  Many of you have seen the drawings in progress and I wanted to reveal one page.  Drum roll.........
This picture isn't set in stone, so if you have recommendations for changes let me know now... Or do you think it is perfect?

My last made it--was I made it out to the CBW-LA event with the Award Winning Author Sheri Fink!
I had a blast!!! I learned a lot and Sheri was so upbeat and positive.  I walked out of the workshop taller and feeling on top of the world--Thanks Sheri!

We learned all about her journey to independently publishing her books and about her life's story a bit.  Each book of her "Little books Series" is about planting in kids the seeds of self esteem.  As part of the workshop fee we each received her The Little Seahorse book!
   When I took it out of the car after the birthday party three out of my five kiddos wanted to read it.  This is where my linky with It's Monday: What are you Reading comes in!

My oldest daughter read it to herself and she enjoyed it.  Then my 3 year old wanted to read it.  She enjoyed the bright pictures (which are so awesome) and recognized there was a mommy seahorse in there.  Then, my 18 month old picked it up and wanted to "read" it too.  He wasn't patient enough to have me read it to him but he had fun going through the pages.  It has a great message of overcoming shyness.  With it's empowering message, it's no wonder that Sheri has done so well!  She is a great writer and a great motivational speaker.

I first met Sheri last November and when I spoke with her I didn't think independently publishing was a viable option but she was so positive and has the personality of if you want to achieve something nothing can stop you.  I have a few friends like this and often I am too, but when there is something I haven't done before I am sometimes hesitant.  Fast forward some months and here I am getting ready to independently publish my first book in my Kids Menu Books Series!  Sheri might not know it, but she was a big factor in my decision to go ahead and do it myself : )

Have a great week everyone!  If there is something great you want to accomplish, don't let anything or anyone stop you--just do it!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Kindergarten MaTh--making and playing with play dough

Here's a fairly simple activity for your preschoolers and Kindergartners... Make and play with play dough!
Sorry, I'm in a hurry this morning... carpet cleaner is coming in less than an hour and I still have to get stuff ready.  Here is the MaTh for today!

It was actually really easy to make play dough...  15 minutes from start to finish.  The recipe I used was the first this post but I only made 1/3 of the recipe and it still made a lot.

 Then once you have the dough you can play and talk about math.  How many fingerprints are in the dough?  Four, three thumbs and a pinky!
 What does the measurement of tablespoon, teaspoon and 1/2 a teaspoon look like?
 You can put objects in your dough, count them, measure them, see what impressions they make... the possibilities of play are endless.
Have fun making dough and talking about math!

Remember that all month you can add your link to Kindergarten MaTh (and next month is a 1st grade focus).  Enjoy your summer!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Ezra Jack Keats Exhibit at the Skirball Center and illustrating kids books.

About a month ago I had the priviledge of going to the Skirball Center.  I was there for an SCBWI critique event (which was really fun) but I also got to go on the tour of the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit that the Skirball has this summer.  I didn't know before I went, but there is an Ezra Jack Keats Foundation that does a lot of good stuff for kids and classrooms.

This picture of Keats was my favorite because you can see him in his studio with his paintings all around.  He illustrated over 80 children's books and authored several of them.  If you get a chance to come to L.A. this summer you should definitely check out this exhibit.

I am putting most of these pictures as big as I can since they are amazing up close.  This is some of his early work.  I really think the technique of incorporating cut lettering and textures is so fun!

 He was one of the early children's artist to make illustrations in lower to middle class settings--those were not normal for the times (in the 1960s).  Most books would never show trashcans and children from different nationalities.
 In the picture below I thought it was really neat how it was written on...
 Keats' style was so unique and dramatic at the same time.
 The personalities of the children can be seen so well in his work.
 You might recognize this spread from The Snowy Day.
 I know I still do things like this!  It's fun to look at your tracks in the snow.
The Skirball Center did a great job making the exhibit and giving some tactile things for the kids.  The little bridge is for kids to walk across to simulate a snow experience.
 I got really excited this part of the exhibit where we got to see sketches and page layouts from his work.
Once Keats became established as an illustrator and as more colors became available to print with, he did a great job making everything so vibrant.
 The following sketchbook was fascinating to me : )
 There is a lot that goes into children's book and page layout and making it so a spread is balanced and doesn't cut anything in the fold in the middle takes talent.  Seeing Keats' dummy books was wonderful to see.

 Again, I really loved how he incorporated cut paper with a design into his artwork.  I wonder if Eric Carle saw this technique and was inspired by it at all?
 Up close you can see how the hat was a thicker paper.  In a way this reminds me of some of my art when I was a kid.  The wallpaper background is priceless!
 Far away it just blends into the background...
 The use of lace in this picture is great.  Also the child and dog poking around the corner is so true to life.
 I love all the colors he used!
 Doesn't this picture just want to make you celebrate?
 After the exhibit of Keats' artwork was finished they also had a big room that had a reading area
 and a sketching area
 and a "garbage" area for kids to play in.  Now we would call it "recycled materials" probably...

It was a great experience and I assure you my dummy books are not like Ezra Jack Keats.  But, I have come to realize that all art for kids books doesn't have to be the same.  After all, who would want books if they all looked the same.  While I love the artwork of
Jerry Pinkney  and John Rocco.
There are plenty of artist who have a simplier style such as
Sandra Boynton , Oliver Jeffers , and
Mo Willems .

My style is rather simple and I know I am not the best at illustrating people, but the book I am planning on illustrating myself has food (and I think it is kind of fun to draw food).  Well to tell you the truth, it isn't always the food that is fun to drawn, it's the funny dishes that they sit on!  Living in a digital age I am working with layers too, but I don't have to cut and paste them onto each other because I will do that digitally.  I still do like coloring things by hand (even though it could easily be done digitally).  Here is how one of my pages is going...  As I bonus I'll let you read the text for this image too!

Ladybug Pancake

It's fun to eat a pancake bug, that’s super cute like this.

The reddish wings with choc’late spots are oh so hard to miss.

And then there is the fun leaf plate it sits on : )

If I had only taken that ceramics class in high school I might be able to actually make the plate--but hey, I can't do everything.

Thanks for stopping by and I would love to hear your comments!

Are you a picture book fan?  Do you buy picture books where you love it just for the artwork?  I'm guilty of that!  Although, most great artwork in picture books are so great because there is a great story with it.

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