Felix the Cat and MacGyver Picnic on a Purple Sarong

I’ve been on holiday in England the past couple of weeks. A travel blog post is on its way, but in the meantime, I was wondering…

Do you have tangible items in your life that are symbols for your dreams and desires?

You might remember that I attended a Writers’ Retreat in Virginia Beach back in May and, while there, visited the Edgar Cayce Center. In addition to several books, a purple tie-dyed sarong with fringes caught my eye. It didn’t match my bathing suit, and yet I knew I had to have that sarong. It was more than a beach cover-up. It was a fabric talisman that would transport me from suburban mom to sophisticated world traveler with a minimum of luggage. I would carry it with me on every trip and this one item would eliminate the need to pack several others. Sure, at the beach or pool, it would function as a cover-up, but there were several other uses for this piece of plum material. Felix had his bag of tricks, but I would have my sarong, and like MacGyver, I would transform it into anything I needed at the moment.

On a windy day, it’s a hooded scarf.

When there’s no time to change for dinner, it becomes a wrap that dresses up my outfit.

Tied in a few places, it’s a halter top…

…or a bohemian skirt.

At the outdoor market, I’ll pack up my fruit, cheese, and wine and carry it over my arm.

In a pretty meadow, I’ll lay it down for an impromptu picnic.

Back at the hotel and without a proper dining table, I’ll drape it over my suitcase and serve a decent cup of tea.

Caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella, I’ll hold it above my head and run to shelter.

When injured, I’ll use it as a tourniquet or to support a sprain.

Even when I don’t speak the language, I will delight children with a game of peek-a-boo.

In a church, I’ll cover my shoulders.

Where religious norms in other countries require my head to be covered, it shall be…in purple tie-dye. Hmmmm, maybe not.

In a pinch, it’s an extra towel.

After waking up at 5 AM and traveling hours to Bath to take part in the Jane Austen festival and consuming way too many scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, I’ll lay my sarong out on the grass in a park and take a two-hour nap.

And at the end of the day, I’ll wash it and hang it to dry so it’s ready for another day of adventure.

That was my thought as I stood there holding the purple sarong in my hands. And it was a thought that made me very happy indeed. So, I bought it and brought it with me to England three weeks ago. I’m happy to say it came in handy after the Jane Austen festivities. 🙂 See photo below.

Lack of sleep + cream tea sugar high = eventual coma. Would Jane Austen have behaved in such a manner?

Are there items in your life that are symbols or reminders of who you are at heart or where you’re heading in life?

Magpie’s Shiny Things: March 31, 2011

Magpie's Shiny Things

I just realized it’s the last day of the month. Time for another edition of Magpie’s Shiny Things.

The other night I received a friend request on Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site, and I’ll never be the same. It was from Paula Jones of bell’alimento. Sigh, swoon, gasp. I think we may be kindred spirits. Love of Italy, love of Italian food, love of Nutella. It’s a match made in heaven. I can’t wait to go bleary-eyed reading every single recipe on her site. The food photography is gorgeous, as well.

Let me whet your appetite just a bit. How about Nutella-filled cinnamon rolls drizzled with cherry glaze? Huh? Huh? In this recipe, she announces a new website called Bella Nutella, dedicated to, you guessed it, Nutella recipes. I’m sobbing! I was under the impression that you couldn’t cook with Nutella. A message on the label says not to microwave it. I carried that warning to the extreme. (Kind of like how my Mom has never cut those tags off her pillows because she thinks the Feds are going to show up at her door.) But I digress. Bell’alimento offers a lot more than just desserts. There are mouth-watering pasta, chicken, beef, pork, vegetable, and seafood dishes, too. Check it out, preferably when you’re not too hungry. 😉

Michael of Sharing a Love of Teaching comes through again with another great post on education. This time it’s The Use of Video in Education and it features Salman Khan’s talk at TED. (I love TED talks!) Khan was a hedge fund analyst who made YouTube videos for his cousins to help them with their homework. Other people found them and used them, and now he has over 2,100 videos posted over at the Khan Academy site. I haven’t looked through all of them, obviously, but if you have kids in school (just about any level) or if you have gone back to school yourself, you might want to check them out. Topics include arithmetic, calculus, biology, chemistry, banking, economics, history, finance, and much more. 

And finally, if you’re in the mood for a heart-tugging read and some beautiful photography, check out Rebecca Mullen’s Altared Spaces blog. She is visiting colleges with her daughter and her latest post explores their relationship, using elements of nature to spotlight the contrasts. See if you can read this one without tearing up.

Magpie’s Shiny Things: February 19, 2011

This weekend will bring some much needed rest and relaxation my way and some artistic fun. Today, Art House’s Sketchbook Project 2011 tour begins. I heard about this event a few weeks ago and it really got me excited. As a stick-figure-drawing person who wishes she could translate what she sees in her mind to canvas or paper, I am always impressed with artistic ability. The Sketchbook Project features over 28,000 artists from 94 countries.

“It’s like a concert tour, but with sketchbooks.”

For the artists who entered, the rules are simple. They are sent a blank Moleskine sketchbook. They must use the book in some way without changing its original dimensions. Each book is given a barcode and catalogued into The Brooklyn Art Library system. Whenever someone checks the sketchbook out during the event, it is scanned and the artist can track online how many people have viewed the book.

The tour begins in Brooklyn, New York this week and then moves on to other cities around the country. Following are a few samples that caught my eye. Click here to view others.

Note: Art House sponsors other projects throughout the year. The next project open for entry (just 9 days left to sign up) is the Fiction Project.

By KamikazePilot

 
Click a graphic to go to the corresponding webpage.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By Sasha_Kiseleva

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By Brushmarq

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

By Linsart

 

Magpie’s Shiny Things: January 25, 2011

As you can see, my artistic ability has not progressed since Kindergarten.

Magpie’s Shiny Things is a new feature that will highlight links to cool places I’ve visited on the internet, inspiring blogs, yummy recipes, to-die-for products, whatever has caught my attention.

As stated in my post Procrastination, “I’m like a magpie, a bird prone to thievery, according to folklore, because of its penchant for shiny things. I can be in the middle of one task, when ‘something shiny’ catches my attention and I’m off on another adventure.” The promise of something new gets me every time.

My hope is that you’ll find something you like here, too. And who knows, perhaps with this feature as an outlet, I may find my way to a more focused blog. After all, why should readers have to guess which one of Margaret’s 17 personalities they’ll encounter on any given day? 😀

So, here, without further ado, I present my first edition of Magpie’s Shiny Things.

With snow and other foul weather preventing me from getting out for my daily walk or run, January was the perfect month for online exploration. (Yes, I know I could have exercised indoors, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I mostly sat on my growing butt with the laptop slow-roasting my thighs and watched marathon sessions of Criminal Minds. There, I’ve admitted it.)

One of my great finds this month was the blog Altared Spaces. You’ll find yourself breathing a bit easier after reading Rebecca’s posts. One of my favorites is Cinnamon Rolls Taste Like Gratitude. No, it’s not a recipe. Not of the food variety, anyway. It’s more a recipe for gratitude and thankfulness. Though it was written back in November for Thanksgiving, thankfulness is something we can practice every day. And tell me the gorgeous centerpiece in the photo below couldn’t be updated a bit for display on Valentine’s Day, a holiday when we’re thankful for those we love. Think candy conversation hearts in the vase instead of pine cones and “snowflake” hearts in rosy hues hanging on the branches.

The re-designed movie blog Celluloid Zombie is a frequent stop in my blog travels. Richard Lamb offers up wit, sarcasm, charming English spellings, and tons of great reviews that will have your Netflix list overflowing with celluloid goodness. What I especially enjoy are his fresh takes on oldies-but-goodies. The Gremlins Gag Reel reminded me how much I loved that movie in my youth and it made for a great movie night with my son. I had tons of fun trying to spot the gags.

Nathan Bransford is an author, former literary agent, and blogger extraordinaire on all things publishing related. His recent How to Use Twitter was a good reminder that I’m not quite there yet with my Twitter platform. Okay, not even close. I also owe Nathan a big thank you for giving me the idea for Magpie’s Shiny Things. He regularly posts a blog that links to all the great sites he finds. It’s one-stop shopping for those of us who don’t have a lot of time but want to keep up with what’s happening in the industry.

Michael G. is the blogger over at Sharing a Love of Teaching. He is a Grade 4 teacher in Australia, and from the posts I’ve read, a wonderful one at that. What I love about his blog is that it challenges me to think, and I usually end up rethinking my opinions on topics in education, bullying, etc. Everyone with a school-aged child in their life should read this blog. And everyone with a child who has a social media profile on sites like Facebook, etc. should immediately stop what they’re doing, sit their child down, and watch the video he shared in his post I Urge You To Show This To Your Kids.

Okay, I’ll sheepishly admit I was probably the last person in the world to hear about Ree Drummond’s blog The Pioneer Woman. But just in case your siesta under the rock lasted a bit longer than you’d intended, skip on over there as soon as you can. Ree blogs about cooking, photography, and homeschooling. My favorites are the recipes, with her hysterical asides, anecdotes, and self-deprecating humor. If you want to experience the feeling of “died and gone to heaven,” you’ve got to try the Pecan Pie Muffins.

Well, there you go. Hope you found something to love here. Let me know if you did. And please feel free to share your great finds, too, in the Comments section.

I’m off to discover more shiny things.