Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer Reads 2015

School re-opens on September 1st for me! That's only like a week away! Did any of you have a summer where it felt really boring when you were only a few weeks into it, but towards the end, you feel like it just flew by? I always feel that way to some level. However, my summer was pretty engaging this year and I didn't feel too bored. Anyways, since summer vacation is drawing to a close, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about some of the books I read over break. I don't think I've posted about books very much on this blog, but my old blog used to be all about books, so I want to incorporate some of that into this blog too. Here we go!

1. Paranormalcy by: Kiersten White
This was one of the first books I read this summer, and I thought it was a really fun read. I read the whole book in one sitting, because I was so hooked! I really liked all the characters and their roles. If you choose to read this book, be prepared to indulge in a world of fantasy and excitement, with creatures having all sorts of powers and abilities.
Rating: 5/5 stars
2. I'm Glad I Did by: Cynthia Weil
I read this book early in the summer, and also did a review of it on this blog. If you missed it, here it is. Overall, I thought this was a great book. I liked how interesting and hooking it was, so if you choose to read it, be prepared to not put the book down until you're done with it. That's all I'll say for now, but if you want to know more about the book, check out my review of it.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
3. Four by: Veronica Roth
If you're a Divergent Trilogy fan and still haven't read this book, you're missing out! This book contains a bunch of short stories that are in Four's POV that take place before and into the beginning of the Divergent series. You'll learn a lot more about the mysterious Four,  and his choice to transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless and how that impacts him. The version of the book I got also contained 3 exclusive scenes told in Four's perspective that occurred in Divergent.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
4. The Selection by: Kiera Cass
I've read this book many times before, and I read it again this summer. This is my favorite book out of the whole Selection series. For those of you that haven't heard about the series, it's about a girl that is basically forced to enter a competition called the "Selection", where girls from the country have to compete to become the princess (eventually Queen). This book and series is very good, so you should definitely read it if you haven't already.
Rating: 5/5 stars
5. Percy Jackson and the Olympians by: Rick Riordan
Ok, I know this is a series and not an individual book. But, this is probably my favorite series ever (I've read the books like a million times each), so I had to include it. If you've never read any of the books in this series before, you should definitely start reading them ASAP. Start from the first book, and you'll probably read the whole series. This series in general in about Greek Mythology coming to reality with demigods, and you should definitely try the first book.
Rating: 5/5 stars
6. Anything But Ordinary by: Lara Avery
I just finished reading this book last week, and I have to say it's pretty interesting. It's about a girl who gets into a coma (read the book to find out how), wakes up five years later, and learns that things in her life have changed A LOT. I thought the concept was pretty cool, but the actual content of the book was okay.
Rating: 3/5 stars
Ok, that's it for today! I read more books, but this post would go on for a while if I talked about ALL of them. If you would like be to review a particular book, please feel free to say so in the comments and I'll get back to you if that's something I can do.
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sunshine Blogger Award

Hi Everyone!

I got nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thanks to Jenny from Artsy Peacock for nominating everyone out there who wanted to do the award (I chose to do it!). I really like how Jenny's posts are so deep and thought-out, and you should definitely visit her blog! I really like participating in awards and tags, because it helps those reading my blog learn a little more about me. I personally really like learning about people, because although there are some similarities between myself and others, there are many differences, which is what makes everyone so unique and interesting. Anyways, on to the rest of the award!

 1. Thank the person who nominated you.
 2. Answer the questions given to you from the nominator
3. Nominate eleven other bloggers.
4. Create eleven new questions for the people you nominated.
1.) What do you dip your French fries in?
I dip my French fries in tomato ketchup. I haven't really tried them with anything else, so I don't have many options to choose from. :)

2.) What is your dream car?
I don't have a particular model in mind, but I want to get a BMW when I get older.

3.) What is your favorite healthy or unhealthy snack?
I'll tell you both! My favorite healthy snack would probably be some type of juicy fruit- it depends on the day (usually watermelons or grapes), and my favorite unhealthy snack is Oreo ice cream.

4.) What is your favorite emoji?
Haha... I have a friend who loves emojis, so this would be a great question for her. I would probably have to go with the winky face one. I find it really funny.

5.) Do you like prunes, why or why not?
Um... what are prunes?

6.) Rain or snow?
Snow. I wear glasses, so it's really annoying when it rains and I have to wipe off my glasses, and it doesn't wipe off cleanly. Usually when it snows I'm wearing a hood, so I can avoid that problem. Plus, snow is much more fun in my opinion.

7.) What does your ideal day look like?
Probably free time where I can  relax and do things I enjoy, like read a good book and create some artwork.

8.) When you put on nail polish, do you use a base coat or top coat? (And if you don't use nail polish, how do your nails look normally?)
I use a top coat. I don't really believe in basecoats.

9.) Who is your favorite YouTuber?
I don't really do YouTube, but I like Sasha from ABookUtopia. She does really interesting book reviews.

10.) Pilates or weight lifting?
I don't really do either, but if I had to pick, probably pilates.

11.) What is your favorite large body of water and why?
Currently, probably the Gulf of Mexico. We went to Florida recently, and went to this one beach where the water was pristine and the whole scene looked like it could be a painting. Nature is always so fascinating.
My Nominees: I nominate anyone who reads this and wants to do the award.
-Your Questions to Answer-

1. What's you favorite color?
2. What is your favorite summer activity and why?
3. What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you?
4. How do you usually do your hair?
5. What's your favorite TV show?
6. Do you believe in having a lot of friends or a few close friends?
7. What is your favorite thing to cook?
8. Fanta or Crush?
9. What is something you hate that everyone else seems to love?
10. What do you usually do on your birthday?
11. Where is the most scenic place you've ever been to?

Thanks for reading, and I hope you do the award too. Send me a link to your blog post in the comments if you choose to do the award. :)



Wednesday, August 12, 2015

DIY Letter Banner

Hello Everyone!

Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of one of my family's close friends. My family decided to host the event at our house, and we decorated our whole house. We bought and put up balloons, lanterns, and all sorts of other cool things to make our house look extra special for the event. However, when we went to Party City to get a banner that said "Happy Anniversary", we couldn't find one anywhere. We checked a few more stores, but had no luck. They all had a bunch of "Happy Birthday" ones, but nothing that said "Happy Anniversary". We also couldn't find letter cut-outs anywhere for an alternative. My mom suggested that we should just try to write it out as neat as possible on a piece of fancy paper, and hang it up . I didn't like that idea, because it would be really hard to get your write that perfectly, and the banner would probably turn out looking sloppy. I also didn't like the idea of typing up "Happy Anniversary" and printing it out, because I felt that would look too cheap and wouldn't be suitable for a silver jubilee. So, I decided to put in all the creativity I had to make the banner myself.  Below are my steps. There is a picture of the front and back of completed banner at the end of the post if you need any visual help.

1. I found some capital bubble letter templates online that someone had shared for people to print out and use for their personal use (Here is the link in case you want to use them too). My first idea was to print out every single letter I needed on pieces of cardstock and then cut them out. I quickly ruled this out, because that would have meant I had to use 16 pieces of cardstock and would have probably ended up with half as much left as scraps after I cut the letters out. Instead, I decided to print out 1 of every unique letter I would need (no repeats) on regular white pieces of 8 1/2 by 11 paper.

2. Then I got out some long sheets of thin paper (I'm not sure what exactly they're called. They're thicker than crepe paper, but not quite as thick as regular paper) and traced and cut out all the letters and number of the letter(s) I would need for the banner. You can decide the color of the paper you want to use... I just used a cardboard colored one. **One helpful trick for tracing is to put your sheets up against a window during the daytime so you can clearly see the outline you have to trace. If you have blinds at your house, then see if you can pull them up (you can put them back the way they were before when you're done) and use the smooth, clear glass to help with tracing.

3. Next, I cut out squares of pink cardstock (if you decide to do this, make sure you make all of them the same size) to use as a background for the letters. I then glued each letter onto a square of cardstock.

4. Time to decorate! I used a star shaped stencil and drew 16 stars on the back of a piece of glossy silver paper- (I got an 8 1/2 by 11 sized piece of this at Michaels for under $2). I traced it on the back, so my Sharpie outline couldn't be shown on the front (the important part). Then I glued one star each letter. After this, I put all my letters in order to spell out "Happy Anniversary".

5. Next, I used a hole punch to place a hole on the left side and another hole on the right side of each square.

6. Next, I cut up a ribbon into 16 equal pieces and wound it through the holes and taped stray pieces onto the backs of the squares (pictures are shown after step 7). Don't do this for the left hole on the first square and the right hole on the last square.

7. Lastly, I took two pieces of yarn and tied them (one each) through the left hole on the first square and the right hole on the last square. These are the ends that you can use to hang up your banner.

Here are back and front views of the finished product. I hope you liked this tutorial, and remember that you can use these steps or change the steps however you want to make any type of banner! Show your creativity when you do this!

Thanks for reading, and please send me a picture and let me know if you make your own banner!



Thursday, August 6, 2015

Online Photo Editing

Hi Everyone!

We all love to edit our photos. Let's face it. We may want to get rid of something that doesn't look too nice, change the filter, add overlays to an image, touch things up, etc. However, all of this can't be done with the basic features given on our smart phones, iPads/tablets, etc. So, we have to use other methods (such as the internet or an app) to accomplish this. I know people who have Photoshop can easily do this, but for those who don't, there are other alternatives. Today I'm going to give you some websites where you can edit your photos online for free. *Note: there are free options and paid options on each of these, so if you really like one of them and can afford it, I would recommend going with the paid option.

1. PicMonkey: This is probably my favorite one! I use PicMonkey to edit almost all my photos, and to also design blank canvases. I really like how organized the options on PicMonkey are, and find it very easy to add overlays, text, and do all the other things I need to do. You can start with a custom blank canvas (you pick the size) or upload an image and begin from there. There is a paid option in this called Royale which is better in that it has nicer options, but I use the free version when I edit my pictures. However, they currently have a 30-day Royale free trial you can sign up for . I personally think PicMonkey is the best for designing and jazzing up your pictures. The one complaint I have is that the website is pretty slow, and this can be kind of frustrating when you're trying to add text or overlays to your image. Once, the website froze, and whatever I was working on got lost so I had to restart it over again (I was not very happy). In summary, the free version of PicMonkey is great for doing basic designing and editing, but you need to be patient when using it.

2. Canva: I haven't played around much with Canva, but I can tell you it's pretty nice from the experience I've had. I tried this out for my first blog, and really liked that there were a lot of graphics to use (for free). It also worked a lot for faster and efficiently than PicMonkey. However, unlike PicMonkey and Pixlr (below), you need to set up an account even if you're going to use the free version.

3. Pixlr: I have never actually used this before, but many people say that you have a lot more control in the editing you're doing by using this over other choices. It's kind of like paint.net for those of you who have used that application. There are a few web apps you can launch for free and use- the different apps do different things.

I hope you found this helpful, and thanks for reading!



Monday, August 3, 2015

Carousel Drawing

Hello Everyone!

Today I'm going to share a new drawing I created recently (see below). One day when I was looking through summer related pictures, I saw a picture of a beach umbrella and got inspired to draw one myself. As I finished drawing the outline of the top half of the umbrella, I thought it would be kind of cool if I incorporated the umbrella into my drawing, but actually drew a carousel instead. So, I got out all my art materials and set to work. I also looked up a couple pictures of carousels so I could get an idea of what type of general shape I was supposed to get. When I did that, I realized that carousels usually have a pointed top (like a tent). But, the top of mine was a dome shape because of the umbrella outline. However, I didn't erase that outline, because I thought it would be interesting to see what I could come up with using the dome shape for the top. My end result is shown below.
I am pretty satisfied with the end result, even though the carousel turned out a little crooked. Also, I feel like my drawing looks more like a design/ornament type thing than an actual carousel because of how I rounded the edges, but I feel like that rounding the edges complimented my drawing in many ways because it gave it a more "complete" look. I also like that the lettering (I used some letter stencils) helped make my artwork look more polished.

Here are 3 takeaways from this experience that I think would help all artists:

+ it's not bad to change your mind when creating something
+ be creative. Make your artwork the way you want it. Even if you use the internet or other resources for inspiration, throw in some of your own uniqueness into what you create.
+ try new things. It's never too late to experiment even when you're creating a masterpiece. Your masterpiece could be better than you even imagined it to be...


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wordle Review

Hello Everyone! 

Have you ever wanted to make a list of words look cool and interesting? Then Wordle is the perfect choice for you! Wordle is a website that generates word clouds from the text (words) that you provide. Your days of boring-looking lists of words are over. Simply enter your text, and Wordle will create a beautiful masterpiece of your words for you. You can also generate more than one word cloud with the same words. Did I forget to mention that you can also use the images you create however you want?! How cool is that!

I got introduced to Wordle in elementary school. We were doing a project for Thanksgiving about the things we were thankful for, and our teacher decided that we would each make a word cloud using Wordle for the project. That way, our work could be displayed in the hallways since it would look both neat and cool.

With the new school year starting in about a month (for students in the US), I thought it   would be a good idea to tell you all about another way to decorate. For example, if you were decorating your notebook for science class, you could create a word cloud using science related words, print it out, and glue it on the front cover! Not only would it jazz up your notebook, but it would also serve as a good indicator as to what subject the notebook is for. I haven't personally done this yet, but would like to do it sometime in the future. Also, if you don't feel like brainstorming and creating your own word cloud, you would probably be able to find one online that someone else created and shared.

Below are two word clouds I made about this blog. They both have the same words, but I made two of them to show you how the overall design can vary a lot.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and please let me know if you used Wordle to make your own word clouds!


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Water Lily Pond by: Claude Monet

Hello Everyone!

"The Water Lily Pond" by: Claude Monet is one of my favorite paintings! I really like floral-type paintings and designs, so I love this. A little background: this is a part of a series of paintings Monet painted of different views of the water lily pond near his property in Giverny, France.  Monet is part of the impressionism art period, which originated with a group of 19th-century artists in Paris. Characteristics of impressionist art include small, but distinctive brush strokes, focus on lighting (many impressionist painters have created many versions of the same painting through different lightings), pure colors, and more. Above is one version of the painting. I'm pretty sure there are versions where the lighting is brighter.

I decided to create a simple version of this painting (below). It is not nearly as detailed as the original painting, and I added some additional elements to the one I created. This probably only took me around 6 hours to complete (I worked on it for two days, for only a couple hours each day).

That's all for today! Thanks for reading!