Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Altered book project intro

I came across the idea of Altered books when I stumbled on to http://www.gomakesomething.com. I was immediately intrigued and loved the idea of working on a book with others.

If you don't know what an Altered book is, check out the Wikipedia definition.

I've started a "round robin" with 5 other people. This means we are all going to work on beautifying the same book with our artwork. We will each work on our own pages, and then mail the book to the next person for them to work.

I selected an old university chemistry textbook that was bought used 10 years ago. It had pages missing at that time, and the cover had seen better days. Since I finished that course, it has been lying around in my parents' damp basement. If I don't do something with it, it will end up going into the recycling bin, or sit there for who knows how long.

I started by removing nearly half of the pages. I did this on the advice I read on http://www.gomakesomething.com. The artist raised an important point about the artwork increasing the bulk of the book to the point where at least the book will not lie flat, and at worst, it may fall apart. I removed the pages using an Xacto knife, leaving about 1 cm of the page along the spine. I am working on a solution for hiding these little bits of pages.

I have an idea of what I am going to do for a couple of my pages. I am determined to use materials I have on hand already. I may have to purchase a thing or two though!

So far I have created an interesting background on part of two pages. I haven't seen this technique anywhere online, I just thought of it myself. I will put the technique into a separate post shortly.

Thanks for reading, and stop back over the next while for updates on our project.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keep your voice down

I have become progressively irritated by yelling, and being yelled at. There is yelling all over: on TV, in movies, in the street, at work, in relationships. There really is no need for it, and so I am working on not raising my voice. Ever. I'm not talking about shouting because someone is far away and can't hear you, or raising your voice to speak to a hearing impaired person. I am talking about yelling because you think you need to emphasize, or give more power to, what you are saying.

I have realized that you can say the exact same words, in a normal tone of voice, and be heard, as well, if not better, than you would have been heard if you yelled.

I have a couple of theories on why people hear you better when you're not yelling:

1. Yelling is an act of aggression, and expression of anger. In the face of anger, we all fight, or we flee. Many of us mentally flee, that is, run away without actually going anywhere. We do this by blocking out the yelling.

2. Angry people are not in control, and if you are not in control, I am going to disregard what you are saying, or, rather, I am not really going to hear you.

I'm going to do some reading on this, but I think I probably picked up these ideas from Cesar Millan. Yep, the dog guy. When we got a dog, the first thing I heard him say was "be calm and assertive." It took me ages to master this, but now I do it instinctively and more often with the dogs. Now, I'm trying the approach in the rest of my life, and surprise! Various people are hearing me now.

Try it. Next time you feel like yelling about something, figure out what you want to say, and then say the exact same thing in your normal tone, or even a nicer tone, and see what happens. For your next test, wait until someone yells at you, and repeat the above. You just may find that you end up having a rational, healthy conversation about whatever was happening, rather than a yelling match, where one, or both of you, stops hearing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Homemade croutons

Making your own croutons offers a few advantages over buying them pre-made:

  1. You can make them from whole grain breads
  2. You control the oil and salt
  3. They taste much better!
I like to cut stale breads, buns and bagels into cubes and store them in a freezer bag in my freezer. When you need croutons for a soup or salad, take out as many of the bread cubes as you need and place them on a baking sheet. Then toss them with olive oil, dried herbs of your choice, salt and pepper. Bake at 400 F for about 10 minutes, or until the cubes are firm and slightly toasted. You can also bake them more quickly in your toaster oven.

Mini Sundried Tomato and Spinach Stratta

I've seen few recipes around for mini fritatta. I had a bunch of homemade croutons leftover from a salad I made yesterday, and I was trying to think up some new healthy breakfast ideas. So, here we have Mini Strattas.

If you're not familiar with Stratta, it is essentially a baked egg dish, with the addition of strips or cubes of bread and other ingredients bake in, such as spinach and cheese.

You can place a couple of these in a sandwich bag and microwave them quickly in the morning for a great, healthy breakfast.

1 dozen large, or 2 dozen small homemade croutons
4 eggs,beaten
1/2 cup chopped, softened sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup thawed frozen spinach
1 T dried chives

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Line a muffin pan with liners, or grease it using your preferred method.
3. Place 1 or 2 croutons in each muffin cup.
4. Fill cups 3/4 full with egg mixture and let sit for as long as you can. You could also do this the night before, store the pan in the fridge and bake the next morning.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until egg is set and slightly browned on top.
6. Let cool slightly and serve, or let cool completely and store.