Book Review – Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea

I started reading Three Cups of Tea as I took my 17 year old son for what we both hoped was his last orthopedist’s appointment due to a broken ankle.  I had picked it up in my summer reading pile.  I have read many books about life in the Middle East but most of my reading has been fiction, albeit fiction based on fact but novels none the less.  I was not sure that novels were the way our culture should see into the culture of societies that had become so linked with ours in not so good ways.  Hence, picking up Three Cups of Tea which, in paperback, bears the subtitle One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time.

The non-fiction book is written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  The story is all Mortenson’s.  He was a climber early in his life.  He tried to climb K2.  He climbed many other mountains in the region but his failed attempt is what changed his life forever.  The change was not because of the failure but because of where he wandered and ended up.  He wound up in the Pakistani village of Korphe in the Baltistan region.  He promised, as his recuperation ended and he prepared to return to what was his life, to return and build the village a school.

Throughout the book, the focus is always on the work that is being done in Pakistan and later Afghanistan.  The book is not about Mortenson, though he is the main character.  He was in Pakistan when 9/11 happened.  He knew, from the beginning, that not all Muslims were extremists.  He faced his share of problems in building schools in foreign lands, especially foreign lands that “we” – as in the US government – do not like.  His ability to fundraise was not innate.  It had to be nurtured.  His ability to live with death threats because he said that education, not war, was the answer to fighting terrorism was difficult to read about.   His belief that his work through the Central Asia Institute – established after his first school was built – would change the world and definitely the fate of young women in Pakistan never wavered.

Throughout his fundraising efforts for CAI, Mortenson has raised money in many ways.  As a former developement director for a non-profit, I know how difficult it is to raise monies and my job was probably easier as it was for something nearby.  Pennies for Peace is one way that there has been money raised to go to CAI and its schools.

Please read the book.  It is essential in our, as US citizens, living in a global community.  It is definitely a story that needs support.  We need to realize that what we should be fearing is not terrorism but ignorance – ignorance by us of the pain we have inflicted around Central Asia, ignorance by us of the fact that those who are educated, and not necessarily to US standards, are bettering their own lives and don’t want to harm us.


Patina – by definition – is a film or incrustation, usually green, produced by oxidation on the surface of old bronze and often esteemed as being of ornamental value.   I have always loved those “fake” patinas that artists create.  I was so excited when I saw that learning to create a patina look was one of the “projects” in the year-long workshop I am doing online of Julia Andrus’s Paper Transformed

Unfortunately, my acrylic selection/collection is not all that wide.  It consists of three tubes of color – turquoise, green and crimson, a tube of pearlescent tint and a collection of craft acrylics that have been used to paint Pinewood Derby cars over the years – which means black, blue, yellow, cream … not a very good combination.

My stamp pad collection, though, includes copper and many different greens and blues so off I went to make some patinad – is that even a word? – tags.  My first attempt was with stamp pads.  I first put a stippled layer of Cosmic Copper Brilliance on both sides of the tag.  Then, I stippled in some different colored Fresco chalk inks – formerly from Stampa Rosa so you know these are old.  I used Giovanni’s Garden, Velvet Indigo and Blue Grotto.  I also embossed the entire tag with an irridescent embossing powder from Stampin’ Up!

Patina One

I really wanted to try doing patina with acrylics.  I sat down with what I have and started mixing to see if I could get the colorings I wanted.  I, again, stippled the entire tag with Cosmic Copper Brilliance ink.  The I used a mixture from the green and the turquoise with pearlescent tint and craft acrylics to get a different tone of the color.  I decided I wasn’t sure I liked the look so I then took UTEE (ultra thick embossing enamel) in interference green – don’t ask as I don’t remember why I have this – and put some on each tag where the acrylics were still wet enough for sticking.

Patina Two

Sand in Gesso

As those of you who visit often might recall, I am doing a year long workshop based on Mary Todd Beam’s book Celebrate Your Creative Self.  I am tad bit behind the group but was catching up by doing a painting using sand in gesso.

I agree with Todd Beam in that the one thing that always annoyed me about painting was the lack of texture.  You can add some texture with brush strokes and such but no real relief or three dimensional-ness to the painting.  This is not true when you add sand – or other products – to either your gesso or your paint directly.

The first thing I did – after mixing sand into my gesso – was to put some artist’s tape on the canvas as I wanted some border to where I was doing this.  I, then layered in the sand/gesso mixture.

Step One

Once I did this step, I then mixed a little green acrylic from my tube with the left over gesso and sand to start the leafing of the tree.  Back a few weeks ago, I talked about how everything was suddenly green and  still have this thought in my mind.  Overnight, I let the canvas sit and dry.

Step Two

I could not find a color that I wanted to paint over the gesso/sand.  I wanted a brown.  I tried stippling on Adirondack ink in Espresso.  I do not have a brown acrylic paint.  I decided to take the Espresso re-inker – yes, it is a dye ink – and add it to gesso and paint over the gesso/sand.

I, then, used the acrylic green that I had added to the leftover gesso/sand the night before without any additives to make the grass and the remaining tree leaves.

I took a turquoise acrylic and added both a pearlescent tint and then a red and plain paint to make the varying sky colors.  Where I wanted clouds or white, I painted with just the pearlescent tint.

Final Piece

Summer Reading

Not only do I love to read, I really think that is what summers are all about – friends, family, maybe a beach or two, tons of music and good reads!

Some of my favorite summer reads have been discovered by accident.  I love Jimmy Buffet’s novels.  Two summers ago was the discovery of this wonderful author – who also tends to get me going with is music too – when I picked up A Salty Piece of Land at the local WaldenBooks.  While it was a thick paperback, I hated to put it down each night.  I would work all day.  Grill dinner and sit in the waning sun with a glass of white wine and this wonderful piece of fiction until the bugs would drive me inside – or, as happened many times, the darkness made staying outside to read reasonable any longer.

This summer I have a list of summer reads.  I had sort of forgotten about them until my weekly list from Borders came to my email and there, in the email, was a link to what Borders buyers are reading this summer.  I didn’t match up a lot of the reads but I have rather eclectic reading taste.  I love non-fiction but not for summer.  I want light and airy to go with the wonderful summer weather.

So far, and remember summer hasn’t officially started yet, I have taken full advantage of what may be the only summer we get here in upstate NY.  If it was hot, I was at the grill cooking dinner and then reading.

I have re-read Sammy’s Hill by Kristin Gore – yes, she is related to Al, his second daughter.  I cannot wait to find a copy of Sammy’s House.  This is a recent re-read as it was hot this past weekend and I was in the mood for sun and reading.

I visited with another old friend when I picked up The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  I first read Kingsolver when I delved into The Poisonwood Bible years ago.  The Bean Trees did not leave me disappointed in the least.  It was like listening to an old friend tell a new story.

Buffet brings me to big belly laughs with some of his writings.  Where Is Joe Merchant? is no different.  It sets you up in the Carribean and makes you want to make margaritas every night.  Until I can afford to have a big bottle of Patron around, that little scenario will have to wait.  I want to run out and pick up a few more Buffet books.  I have also recently read Swine Not? and, while not a tropical setting, it is definitely a Buffet original and worth the time to sit down and read it.  

While a lot of people think of Meg Cabot and The Princess Diaries – which, by the way, I have never read – I think of Size 12 Is Not Fat.  This is my first encounter with Cabot and made me run out looking for Size 14 Is Not Fat Either.   While both of these were last year’s reads, I saw Queen of Babble at my local Sam’s Club and grabbed at it.  I love the way Cabot’s mind works and Queen of Babble did not disappoint.  It is definitely a beach read and a book that leaves me waiting for more about the protagonist Lizzie, as did Cabot’s Size books about protagonist Heather.

I also decided, while i was book hunting, that I needed to try some new authors.  I decide to pick up Mrs. Kimble.  What a marvelous book!  It takes you through the life of one man from the point of view of his wives – all three of them.

My second new author was to pick up Alphabet Weekends.  Not only do I now want to find someone willing to give me 26 weekends of their life to do something having to do with each letter of the alphabet, I want to read more by Elizabeth Noble.

Here’s to summer reading!  More there be many more books to come.

GPP Street Team Crusade #21 – Irresistible!

Crusade #21Every month I look forward to my visit to Michelle Ward’s GPP Street Team blog so that I can see what Michelle has come up with for the crusade of the month.  Last month it was paper casting which is something I love.  This month it is IRRESISTIBLE – wax resist!  I set off to visit some of the other artists’ work and to create my own crusade items.

Earlier this year, I did some wax resist from a workshop with an online group that is working through Julia Andrus’s Paper Transformed.  At that time, I used beeswax and melted candle wax as my resist.  This time I am going much more simple – good, old-fashioned Crayola crayons are the wax for my resist this month.

I was certain I needed to use a stamp as my etching.  Do not ask why I was so narrow minded.  I was thinking choosing a stamp was going to be difficult when my daily mail arrived.  To my great surprise, my Latest Trend’s Art Partner Challenge was in the mail and it included a stamp from Inka Stamps so I decided fate had chosen a stamp for me.  I gathered up my supplies and got started.

Initial Wax and Supplies

Please ignore the mess on my table as I was trying to find the room with the best light.  I did use two different color crayons – brown and white.  You cannot see the white rubbing but can see the brown one.  I, then, took watercolors and went over the rubbings and quickly blotted excess paint off the paper.


I was really not liking this particular product so went back and re-read Michelle’s tutorial.  Oh yeah, she said acrylic paint.  I pulled out some cheap craft acrylics and tried with the same stamp again.


These didn’t really move me either.  I don’t know what I am looking for but neither of these are it.  So I went surfing. The great thing about the Street Team crusades is that there are links to everyone else doing the challenge.  I was inspired greatly by Kim as she was using items other than stencils and stamps.  I went off around my house looking for other items I could use. 

 My Final Supplies

So I started again and below are the results from the edge of the pressed aluminum tray and the middle of the tray and the magnet.


I think my favorite are the ones from the pressed aluminum tray.  A hint I would offer comes from my searching other’s work and that is to think outside stencils and stamps.  Another hint is to be sure your crayon is worn.  I took one of my son’s jackknives and made the crayon flat on the long side so it was easier to use.

Summer Movie Time

I have to admit that I am a huge “Sex and the City” fan.  I never watched it when it was on HBO as I didn’t have HBO but my daughter would watch it at friends’ homes.  We would rent the season’s DVDs and watch an entire season at a time.  I still watch the reruns on TBS at night.

Of course, I was thrilled when I found out that the original cast had signed on to create a feature film.  I wasn’t sure, if there were major upheavals in the cast, I could watch it.  Instead, I have been keeping a countdown on when the release date is and making plans to go see the movie.

The other day I was at Sam’s Club.  I routinely spend about $20 in May or June at Sam’s buying summer paperbacks to read.  I usually bookcross these when I am done reading them or pass them on to my kids.  I was looking over the selections that were in stock – nothing great for the summer reads yet – and, lo and behold, I saw Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City.  I am normally a big read the book first fan.  I had never read the book so in the cart, with the four cases of water, it went.

It was really difficult reading the book.  I could picture the episodes of the television series that the book is talking about as I read.  The problem is that the characters are different.  I managed to get through it but it took a lot more concentration than I wanted to put into reading it.

I am still anxiously awaiting the end of the month and the full-length feature film.  I have seen trailers and teasers and will be in line the first night.