Art of Harry Potter

Like just about everyone else on the planet, I’ve read the Harry Potter books. And while I was as mesmerized as anyone else by the incredible writing of J.K. Rowling, I was originally attracted to the books by the clever and fun cover art. I’m familiar with the American editions, which were all produced by the artist, Mary GrandPré, who is from Florida, although she was born in South Dakota and spent most of her life in Minnesota.

Harry Potter Cover - Prisoner of Azkaban
The American cover for the third Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter Cover - Order of the Phoenix
The cover for the fifth Harry Potter book.

Mary’s covers are all produced in a similar style, but each one has its own unique look and feel. My favorite of them all is the cover for the Order of the Phoenix, painted all in cool and mysterious blues. There was also a deluxe version of the cover, which depicted 12 Grimmauld Place, with Hedwig flying in the front cover, and broomstick-riding wizards arriving.

I’m also a beta tester for Pottermore, which is the online version of the series and allows you to explore the world of Harry Potter, taking part in the same adventures that you find in the book. The artwork in the game is also lavish and beautiful and has the same hand-painted look that Mary’s covers provide, although in a more photo-realistic style. If you haven’t checked out Pottermore, it’s still in beta but taking a peek at one of the many Pottermore sites will show you how beautiful the artwork is.

Painting Some Bunk Beds

It’s sunny outside and the weather is still warm. It’s the weekend, and what better activity to pursue on a day like this than to browse some garage sales looking for some hidden treasures. We perused the town looking for some pine bunk beds to furnish the kids room. We were hoping to find something simple but sturdy and safe (you don’t want to go cheap when it comes to buying bunk beds for the kids’ bedroom). We struck gold after searching on CraigsList and finding a neighborhood sale with a nice finished pine bunk bed.

We then spent the entire afternoon cleaning it up and stripping it down and then getting it ready for re-painting. The nice thing about pine is that it’s simple and versatile and painting is easy. We’re going to go with a colorful collage of paint to match the bright scheme of the room. Afterwards, we’ll put a few cheap mattresses on top and it will be ready for sleeping! It will take a few days to complete, and I’ll take some photos and post them here when I’m finished with the project. The extra benefit is that this is something that everyone in the family can be a part of. There’s nothing like putting on some old clothes, breaking out the paint, and going to town.

Hot Summer and Lemonade

It’s been a scorching summer by all accounts out here in the arid valley. It’s already September but the 95 degree (and plus) days are still around. Didn’t get the insane 110 plus days like we do most years, but still the heat is oppressive and downright mean. Can’t really do much outdoors even if it looks beautiful out there with a deep blue sky and those gorgeous white puffy clouds. So we’re camped out inside here with the air conditioning going full blast.

We’re thinking about setting up a lemonade stand out by the road. Haven’t done that in ages but it sounds like a good idea. The kids and I cut some lavender from the plants out in the herb garden and put together some wonderfully refreshing lavender-infused lemonade. In about 20 minutes, the chocolate chip cookies will be coming out of the oven and we’ll have ourselves some very nice merchandise for the sale. With heat like this, we’re bound to see some heavy traffic to the stand. It will be a good lesson in economics for the kids and it gives us something to do while we try and beat the heat.

Meanwhile, the kids are having fun checking out their favorite Poptropica cheats site and reading up on strategy and tips for that game. They’ve already completed all of the islands in the game. Poptropica uses an island metaphor for its quests and missions. I could go for being on a tropical island right now! The kids are very excited because next weekend a new island called Mystery Train comes out. I took a peek and it looks very cute. The Poptropica folks do a nice job of mixing entertainment and education. This quest takes the kids back to the late 1800s on a train bound for the Chicago World’s Fair. A few well-known people from the time are on board, like Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. They haven’t been this excited about a game since Club Penguin.

Ding! There are the cookies. Time to pack it up and head outside to do some education of our own. And enjoy the nice cool shade!