Nine months completed and now we are getting to the point in the reading challenge where we are really having to pick a book for the category, rather than taking a book we want to read and finding a category for it. This is the first month that I have had a book I really wanted to read and it did not fit anywhere (except the Extra Credit, so lets see if we make it there!) It wasn’t our best month for numbers, but we’ve got several books half-read on the back burner. I love how our bookshelf is filling up! As it gets fuller, I did feel like the graphic needed some tweaking. Can you spot the differences?
Pakistan : A Personal History by Imran Khan (A book about a country or city) - I enjoyed this book mostly for the amount of information that I never knew. There were a lot of "humble brags" and in many instances I felt like I was just getting half the story, but that was mostly in regards to his personal journey than the history of the country. He honestly exposed much of the corrupt political activity, which he has worked against throughout his own political career. It helped me to understand even more greatly the affects of post-colonialism, which we have also seen in other parts of Asia, although it took on unique elements being a Muslim country. I was most intrigued by his description and explanation of the native people who inhabited the remote areas where much of al Queda hid post-911. It certainly brought a different perspective.
Who Made God? by Edgar Andrews (A Book about Science) - Since it has been around 12 years since I have taken any sort of science class, the first couple of chapters left me wondering how I would make it through the whole thing, even as he attempted to use really basic analogies. I guess my mind founds its way and by the middle of the book I was tracking with him more easily. It made me all that much more impressed with creation and confident that science neither has or could disprove the existence of God.
Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman (A Book about Art) - I really wanted to read at least one book about Graphic Design, and of course, I love typography. This is the first real tangible book that I have purchased for the reading challenge, but it just didn’t seem right to read on the Kindle. You can check out my book review of it here.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (A Book by or about C.S. Lewis) - I can't believe I held out this long to read this book. You would think this was standard reading for a boy growing up in the church and Christian schools. But I actually was able to read it for the first time to my children. And it was worth the wait! Loved the simplicity and the complexity of the book. It was neither too easy of a parallel, nor was it so hard to find. The balance that Lewis stuck was spot on. And he was descriptive in just the right ways. How he described Aslan's death and resurrection with the girl's reaction was splendid. What a joy to read.
I recently read the book Why Fonts Matter by Sarah Hyndman as part of our 2016 Reading Challenge. I read it for the category "Book about Art" but it could have very easily qualified for the "Book about Psychology". It is a fun book with lots of great graphics, charts, and activities. It is not targeted at professional designers, but the common "type consumer", which includes all of us (even professionals). As a font nerd, font snob, type lover or whatever else you want to call me, I enjoyed the book. However, if you could care less about fonts, or have ever wondered what the big deal about fonts is, this book just might show you that you care more about them than you think. Either way, you will get to eat jelly beans, so win-win!
Here are a few parts of the book that got me thinking --->
When I teach my elementary graphic design lesson on typography, I talk about how fonts are like people, with names, families, unique shapes, sizes and personalities. This book gave me so many great ideas for activities that I could do in my class. I especially loved the type designing activity based on different styles of songs. I will definitely be incorporating it in my next class and will be sure to let you know how it goes.
The Ethics of Typography
This is part of a larger debate on overall marketing tactics, but Hyndman brings up an interesting point that different fonts do suggest certain things about a product which may or may not be true. There are regulations concerning the wording and photography in advertising, but fonts can equally suggest a false claim without any consequence. She will spend a good portion of the rest of the book documenting the associations we have with certain fonts. As I compared the associations that we make with colors, I found it interesting that colors take on different meanings depending on their context and usage, but fonts are much more singular in their personalities.
Designer vs. Consumer
Designers are known to get caught up in a design bubble, and it is always good for us to get feedback from non-designers. What we may have thought was a clever use of contrast, color, negative space, etc. might be hard our audience to interpret. The same is true for typography. We may tend to associate some fonts with their historical background, while non-designers might view them much differently, and more accurately to common public perception. Sometimes we need a humble reality check :)
This was definitely an area of typography that I had never considered. Hyndman offers research to show that the type of fonts used on food packaging can have a placebo affect on how we taste food. While I didn't taste a noticeable difference during the jelly bean experiment, I think I was just overthinking and was too aware of the results that I was supposed to see. It would be a lot of fun to do these in person, at one of her type tasting events. At the end of the book, she suggests that this placebo affect could possibly be used for good, by allowing companies to reduce sugar and fat in their products and replace it with a good use of typography that would induce this placebo affect on our taste buds. Who knows, typography might just save the world after all!
You can check out more about the books and type research at www.typetasting.com.
Over the past decade, I have had the privilege to design for a really wide range of clients. And while I am just a little bitty tadpole in the graphic design ocean, I have had the excitement of seeing some of my clients do really well and having my work appear on television, magazines, and major blogs.
I have also had the opportunity to design for a host of non-profit organizations who are doing a lot of good around the world, from the outback of Australia to the heart of the midwest United States. Although few will see these works, it is amazing to know that my designs are helping others.
However, in the past year, I have entered new territory and had perhaps my greatest achievement yet... my appearance on The School Bulletin Board!
Ok, so its not MY work, but its the product of my efforts! This year I did a week workshop at my the school where my kids do co-op activities, teaching short lessons on Graphic Design to 4-8th graders. With little resources or technology, I have tried to show them that Graphic Design is not just turning on the computer and picking out a cool font. It requires thinking, planning, understanding and communicating. It has turned out to be so much fun for me, and the kids too (there is nothing quite like having them beg me to come back for more!)
Throughout teaching this class, I kept thinking about the first logo that I ever created. It was in fifth grade. My friend and I made a logo for our imaginary “Hearty Heart Mints”, where of course, the M was also the top of a heart. For the assignment we also had to make up a commercial, and maybe some other stuff too, but I just remember the logo. While it would be many more years until I realized Graphic Design could be a career, perhaps that was the start of my journey. And that made me excited to teach, with the thought that one day these kids might look back and remember something significant about this class.
While I don’t expect to ever be a world-famous designer, I would love to know that I taught one, or inspired one, or even just introduced someone to a career they would really love.
Do you remember when you first knew what you wanted to do with your life?
Here are the lyrics to our favorite F songs and rhymes!
Five Little Speckled Frogs
Five little speckled frogs,
Sat on a great big log,
Eating the most delicious bugs, Yum Yum!
One jumped into the pool,
Where it was nice and cool,
Now there are four speckled frogs,
(Repeat, until you are left with no more frogs!)
12345 Once I Caught a Fish Alive
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5
Once I caught a fish alive
5 -6 -7 - 8 - 9 - 10
Then I threw him back again
Why did you let it go?
Because it bit my finger so.
Which finger did it bite?
This little finger on my right.
Jolly Phonics - F
My friends and I went to the beach
With my floating fish
It got a hole, the air came out
(To the tune of Skip to my Lou)
There are tons of Froggy books to pick from, but I chose "Froggy Gets Dressed" since we were learning about parts of the body and hygiene. People have come up with pretty creative activities for that book alone.
This activity, you can do with any letter of the alphabet, of course the ones with just straight lines will be easiest for beginners. I love it because its cheap and helps develop the fine motor skills by using scissors and glue. I don't think it needs any more explanation than find some newspaper and let the fun begin! Download the letter F coloring sheet (great for practicing vocab) from my links below, and download the Froggy craft from Kidzclub.
One more fun group activity is making a fish ocean of everyone's hands. Let each student pick the color of their fish and have them repeat the color name if they don't know it already. This project practices colors, F vocabulary, and parts of the body. Stick a googley eye on the wet paint, and repeat the words, "hand, fingers, eye" as much as you can!
Please download my letter F coloring page and flashcards to use for personal and educational purposes. Do not sell them or offer them as your own. Do give proper credit.
The flashcards are formatted for A4 and can be printed back to back, cut and laminated. There is a color and a black and white version in case you want to save on printing costs and do the coloring yourself.
As a requirement for my graphic design degree, I had to take a few fine art drawing classes. I am not a naturally talented illustrator, so I really liked when they taught us the grid method for drawing. But in fact, you don't need to go to art school to learn this method. It is there in most children's activity books! It breaks down the drawing process into manageable pieces, which will work together like a puzzle to make an impressive final product. It also happens to be one of my favorite ways to decorate a cake. For me, not only is fondant difficult to work with, I just don't like the taste of it as much as I like buttercream. But I am no pro and my buttercream cakes can end up looking sloppy, and like a kid DID do it. The grid method enables me to decorate a clean, creative and great-tasting cake!
Step One - Pick and Print a Picture
Find a google image of whatever character, object or theme you want on your cake. Print it out, preferably at the approximate size that it will be on your cake. After flip-flopping a few times, my son Sam settled on Geronimo Stilton, his favorite book character, for his 8th birthday cake..
Step Two - Grid Your Picture
For a 9x13 cake, grid your picture into equal squares 7 wide and 5 tall. If you've printed it to size (you need 11x17 paper for this), they will each be about 2 inches. You'll see how I compensate for the extra inch when we grid the cake. I did mine on the computer, so it looked like this.
Step Three - Bake and Ice your Cake
This part is mainly up to you to figure out, but here are a few of my favorite recipes for White Cake, Chocolate Cake and Carrot Cake. If your picture is going to cover most of your cake, you don't even need to worry about a crumb layer.
Step Four - Grid Your Cake
For a standard 9x13 cake, I line up my ruler from .5in to the 13.5in on the long edge, and make subtle marks with a toothpick at the 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12. On the short edge, line it up from .5in to 9.5in and mark at the 2, 4, 6, 8. Do this on all four sides, and then draw connecting lines to make your grid. If your picture only takes up one section of the cake, only connect the lines in that area to reduce the amount of touch-up you need to do later.
Step Five - Draw Your Pic, Square by Square
Start with the easiest square, probably the one with the least amount of lines in it. Then go square by square, connecting the lines. If it is still too intimidating, take some scrap paper and cover up the squares that you are not working on. It doesn't need to be perfect, because you can make adjustments as you fill in the color. I used a Wilton #2 tip.
Step Six - Color Your Pic
Switch to a Wilton #16 tip and fill in your picture, color by color, with little tiny stars. Make sure to leave a small gap where your white icing is. This will make it easier to outline later.
Step Seven - Outline
Once you've got all the color filled in, mix together all of your icing colors, add some cocoa powder, and you will have a pretty dark icing that will make your image pop! Trace your white outline, and add any extra detailing to make it fabulous.
Step Eight - Touch It Up!
Most of your grid lines should be covered up by now, but if not, you can easily touch them up. Take the back of a spoon, get it a little damp, and *very* gently pat your lines to slowly erase them. This gives a smoother effect than trying to fill them in with icing and prevents your from messing up all of your hard work!
Step Nine - Take lots of Photos!
Please, do it before the guests come! Then you won't even be upset when someone drops their cell phone on your beautiful handiwork while taking a photo of it at the party. Yup that really happened.
Step Ten - Eat it up!
Of course, this is the whole point of the cake, right? I love this method because the cake looks great and tastes great.
What are your favorite cake decorating tips for an amateur like me?
One of the cool things about reading is being able to enter into a world that you are not apart of. I am not talking about fantasy here. I'm talking about real places in time and history that we will probably never be able to visit. Both fiction and non-fiction can provide this sort of experience and bring greater awareness to our BIG world. I appreciated that element of both of the fiction books that I read this month. At the beginning of the month, we knew we each needed to read an average of 5 books a month for the rest of the year. I am pretty shocked we were able to do that this month, with the Olympics consuming a large portion of our free time. It gives me hope that we will have no trouble finishing out the rest of the list!
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (A novel set in another country) - This novel was the memoir of a British butler during World War II. It wasn’t suspenseful or gripping, but it was an interesting glimpse into a world I’d never given much thought to. I don’t really like rereading books, but this is one where a second read might reveal subtle details you didn’t notice the first time around.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (A Book over 400 pages - It was 402!) - This is one of the best books I’ve read all year, and definitely tops the list for fiction! It is a somber, but beautiful story of two women in Afghanistan. Though fiction, I also learned a lot about the history of Afghanistan. Not much else to say, but read the book!!
The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God by John Piper (A Poetry Book) - If you have ever wished to read the Wisdom Books as the poetry that they are, this is the closest you might be able to come without learning Hebrew. Piper does take some liberties with the story, but it is a really well written and there are nice connections made to our present day faith.
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (A Book for Children) - I read this to the kids at bedtime and it was a good reminder for me about how kids view events, adults and life. It actually gives me some good perspective during my parenting. It was fun to read.
1984 by George Orwell (A Classic Novel) - I am really glad I chose this. Its my favorite book so far of the year. Written in 1948, it predicts what life would be like in a strict communist regime. It got me thinking more politically than I normally do, and helped me understand the suffering under such systems. It was a powerfully well-written book.
Habits of Grace by David Mathis (A Self Improvement Book) - It definitely did a good job of renewing my passion and motivation for the spiritual disciplines. It is not the first book I have read on the topic, but I did enjoy the unique angle he took on them.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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