Michelle Mach http://michellemach.com/blog/ Beads and Books: Reading and Writing in an Arts and Crafts World en RSS2 30 Sat, 25 Mar 2017 15:52:56 GMT What Makes a Great Podcast? One Listener's Perspective http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/847-What-Makes-a-Great-Podcast-One-Listeners-Perspective.html technology http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/847-What-Makes-a-Great-Podcast-One-Listeners-Perspective.html#comments http://michellemach.com/blog/wfwcomment.php?cid=847 0 http://michellemach.com/blog/rss.php?version=2.0&type=comments&cid=847 (Michelle) <p class="break">I've listened to more than 1,000 hours of podcasts over the last five years.&#160; I usually listen to one or two a day during the week.&#160; I'm especially fond of listening to them while I do something that's dull or repetitive:&#160; walking on the treadmill, doing household chores, cleaning paintbrushes.&#160; <br /><br />A few months ago, a friend asked me whether she should make a podcast.&#160; I know I didn't give her a great answer (&quot;Maybe? Do you want to do one?&quot;), but her question did make me think about what makes a great podcast, the difference between one that goes to the top of my &quot;listen next&quot; list and one that I switch off after five or ten minutes.<img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" alt="How to Create Podcasts Everyone Will Love - Blog post by Michelle Mach" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/podcasts-love.jpg" /><br /> </p><p class="break"><p> </p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Questions to Consider Before Starting Your Podcast</strong> <br /></p> </p><ol> <li> <strong>Topic or subject?<br /></strong>This point gets lots of attention as the make-or-break decision for a new podcast, but after listening to so many podcasts I can honestly say that a talented host can make any subject seem interesting.&#160; <br /><br />For example, I'm not a cook, but I enjoy the food tidbits I've picked up from <a href="https://www.splendidtable.org/listen-and-follow">The Splendid Table</a>.&#160; (Who knew that jackfruit was being touted as a meat substitute?) I don't know a thing about architecture, but I still find some episodes of <a href="http://99percentinvisible.org/episodes/">99% Invisible</a> quite fascinating. (Did you know that the NBC chimes sound is trademarked?) In contrast, I'm fascinated by writing, but the writing podcasts I've tried so far have been deadly dull.<strong><br /><br /></strong>That said, having a narrow topic or subject will make it easier for new listeners to find you through search or on &quot;best of&quot; lists which tend to be subject-focused.<br /><br /> </li> <li><strong>Voice?</strong><br />I once took an art workshop almost solely because the instructor was Australian.&#160; Anything she said had a delightful cadence to it and I could have listened to her talk all day about anything.&#160; So as you might guess, I think the sound of your voice is crucial.<br /><br />But you don't have to have a super smooth radio voice to have a successful podcast.&#160; (In fact, there's one podcaster I love listening to because her distinct accent makes her sound just like some of my cousins.)&#160; If you speak clearly and don't have any obviously negative voice traits (a raspy, grating, or whining voice; a tendency to mumble or trail off at the end of sentences), you should be fine.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>One or more hosts?</strong><br />Some hosts can pull off a solo podcast, but for most it seems to work better to have at least one partner, someone with a different point of view and a distinct speaking voice. (It's confusing to the listener when both speakers sound identical.) Single host podcasts often do well as straight news or information and in my experience tend to be shorter than podcasts with multiple speakers.&#160; <a href="https://taraswiger.com/category/tspodcast/">Explore Your Enthusiasm</a> is an example of a craft business advice podcast hosted by a single person.&#160; Some podcasts with a single host produce interviews, which gives that second perspective.<br /><br />I liken this trait to some novels where a character will just ruminate on her thoughts for pages and pages versus one who discusses her thoughts with a friend.&#160; I've always preferred the latter technique.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Chatter or focus?</strong><br />There's a wide range of chattiness in the podcasts.&#160; Whether you like this or not is a personal preference.&#160; I don't mind some chatter within limits.&#160; I remember listening to the beginning of one crafting podcast where the host described her cat, her sweater, her car problems ... I have no idea whether she actually ended up addressing the topic of the podcast because after ten agonizing minutes I turned it off.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/podcasts">Stuff You Should Know</a> is an example of a podcast that something can contain a fair amount of divergence from the stated topic.<br /><br /><a href="http://craftsanity.com/category/podcasts/">CraftSanity</a> is an example of a podcast where the host sometimes does an after show where she discusses more personal topics.&#160; This makes it easy for listeners to decide whether to stick around or not.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Length?</strong><br />Podcasts can range from about 2 minutes to an hour or longer.&#160; Since I usually listen to podcasts while doing an activity, I prefer podcasts in the 20-45 minute range. You should aim to make your podcasts roughly the same length; it makes it easier for the listener to tune in on a consistent basis.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Repeated segments?</strong><br />I've noticed that some podcasts I enjoy use repeated segments to structure their podcasts.&#160; For example, <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/monkeysee/129472378/pop-culture-happy-hour/">Pop Culture Happy Hour</a> always ends with &quot;What's Making Us Happy&quot; in which each panelist shares a movie, song, book, or other pop culture item that they're enjoying and listeners might enjoy, too.&#160; I also enjoy the etiquette segment of <a href="http://www.dinnerpartydownload.org/">The Dinner Party Download</a>, where celebrities such as Kenny G or Bobby Flay respond to questions from listeners. <br /><br />This is similar to standard publishing norms such as weekly or monthly magazine or newsletter columns by the same writers.&#160; It's nice as a listener to know that there will be at least one part of the podcast that you can count on enjoying.<br /></li> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Other Podcast Features to Consider</strong><br /></p> </p><ol> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p> Here are a couple of other common podcast traits that I don't think are make-or-break features, but that you still might want to think about:</p> </p><ol> <li><strong>Music</strong><br />Adding music as an intro or between segments is a nice touch, but not essential.&#160; If you do choose some music, solicit some feedback to make sure it conveys the vibe you want.&#160; <a href="http://gretchenrubin.com/podcast/">Happier</a> with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft has the catchiest music of any podcast I listen to.&#160; I don't know what it is about that song, but I'll find myself humming it long after listening.&#160; In contrast, there's a business podcast that I occasionally listen to that has this throbbing, pulsating music at the start that makes me feel a little ill.&#160; I'm sure the host thinks that it's peppy and upbeat, but I have to fast forward through it if I want to listen to an episode.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Video</strong><br />Some podcasters create videos and then just release the audio portion as a podcast.&#160; I know that <a href="http://www.tested.com/still-untitled-the-adam-savage-project/">Still Untitled</a> by Adam Savage does this.&#160; They do a good job of verbally describing anything that comes up; I never feel as if I'm missing out.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Ads</strong><br />I don't mind a few short ads in my podcasts.&#160; I like the idea that the podcasters are getting paid for their efforts and if that means listening to a few ads, I can do that.&#160; Ideally, the ads are focused on the topic of the podcast and something I might be interested in anyway.&#160; A good example are the ads for Audible (audio books) in some <a href="http://thehistorychicks.com/">History Chicks</a> podcasts.&#160; They always recommend books that are related to the topic of that particular podcast.&#160; This makes the ad feel more like bonus content (book recommendations) than an ad.<br /></li> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>But Which Podcasts Should I Listen To?</strong></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Whether you decide to make your own podcast or not, you should definitely try listening to some. You'll find podcasts on almost any topic you can think of:&#160; TV shows, politics, business, cats, knitting.&#160; In addition to the podcasts I've already mentioned in this post, here are a few recommendations if your interests are similar to mine.&#160; (Feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments!)<br /></p> </p><ul> <li>During the month of March, podcasters have been encouraging listeners to share recommendations using <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23trypod&amp;src=tyah">#trypod on Twitter</a>.&#160; It's fun to see who is listening to what.<br /><br /></li> <li>The podcast <a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510314/the-big-listen">The Big Listen</a> is a podcast about podcasts.&#160; (See?&#160; I told you there's a podcast about everything!) The idea is to introduce you to new podcasts and give you some behind-the-scenes information on podcasts you may already enjoy.<br /><br /></li> <li>Many (if not most) podcasts are not designed as a series, so you can listen to them in any order or just on the topics you're interested in.&#160; For example, I just listened to the episode of <a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/399954056/nerdette-podcast">Nerdette</a> where Tom Hanks (yes, the actor!) gave the hosts a tutorial on how to use a typewriter.&#160; I also listen to selected interviews on <a href="http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/">Fresh Air</a> and <a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this">How I Built This</a>.<br /><br /></li> <li>If you want a short series of podcasts, I also really enjoyed the &quot;<a href="https://www.elizabethgilbert.com/magic-lessons/">Magic Lessons</a>&quot; series on creativity by writer Elizabeth Gilbert.&#160; Not only is the content great, but she's a good example of someone with a fabulous voice for podcasting—she sounds just like a good friend who called you up to chat.<br /> <a href="http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510313/how-i-built-this"><br /></a></li> <li>You can also check out my earlier post <a href="http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/516-My-Favorite-Podcasts-12-Shows-to-Enjoy-in-2013.html">My Favorite Podcasts: 12 Shows to Enjoy in 2013</a>. I still listen to most of those same podcasts in 2017.&#160; In the world of here-today, gone-tomorrow social media, that's some serious staying power!<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><ol> </ol> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:02:00 -0600 http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/847-guid.html Take These Broken Tools . . . http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/720-Take-These-Broken-Tools-.-.-..html art crafts humor inspiration tools & materials http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/720-Take-These-Broken-Tools-.-.-..html#comments http://michellemach.com/blog/wfwcomment.php?cid=720 0 http://michellemach.com/blog/rss.php?version=2.0&type=comments&cid=720 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p> <img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/tools-break-common.jpg" alt="3 Common Reasons Tools Break" />2016 was a tough year for tools at Chez Michelle.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Like anything else in life, it's always when I have three overlapping deadlines and a few custom orders to finish that things start to fall apart.<br /><br /><strong>First ...</strong><br />I first broke the pin (hole-drilling side) of my lovely riveting tool.&#160; I've probably had this tool for about three years and I use it almost daily to make holes in metal pieces.&#160; I love that I could replace just the pin (a cost of $25) rather than the entire piece.&#160; When I'm in the excitement of buying a new tool, it's hard for me to remember to look for a feature like replaceable parts so that was definitely a stroke of good luck on my part.<br /><br /><strong>Next ...</strong><br />I broke a simple pair of Fiskars kids scissors that I normally use for cutting FireLine.&#160; (Seriously, those are the best for that and very inexpensive, especially during the back-to-school sales.)&#160; <br /><br /><strong>...and Then</strong><br />I then broke a hole punch after several years of use.&#160; <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>Nothing makes you feel more like a chump jewelry maker or crafter than breaking your tools one right after another.&#160; </p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Why All The Broken Tools? </strong><br /></p>There are several common reasons for broken jewelry making or crafting tools:<br /> </p><ol> <li><strong>Incorrect Use</strong><br />Lots of tools break because of incorrect use—think using your good wire cutters instead of heavy-duty wire cutters on steel memory wire.&#160; This is probably the case with my scissors.&#160; They didn't break when I was cutting FireLine, but an annoying hard plastic clamshell package from Home Depot.&#160; (The package remained closed, by the way.&#160; What do they make those things out of anyway?&#160; It's beyond childproof!)<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Too Cheap To Last</strong><br />Did you go super cheap?&#160; This could have been part of the problem with my hole punch.&#160; They're not designed to last long.&#160; (Maybe manufacturers figure that most crafters will tire of their hobby long before the part wears out?)&#160; Some tools offer a &quot;regular&quot; version and a &quot;production or business&quot; version for just this reason.&#160; I'm learning that for some tools, it really pays to upgrade.<br /><br /></li> <li><strong>Worn Out</strong><br />Awhile ago I wrote about the importance of good tools (&quot;<a href="http://www.michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/646-Is-The-Problem-You-Or-Your-Tools.html">Is The Problem You or Your Tools?</a>&quot;).&#160; But even the best of tools can break from&#160; constant use.&#160; I have to remind myself that this is a good thing.&#160; It means that I've made so many things that I just wore the tool out.&#160; In a society that favors the use-once-and-discard motto, this is something to be proud of.<br /></li> </ol><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Take Your Broken Part ... And Make It Into Art (With Apologies to Carrie Fisher and Merle Streep)</strong><br /><br />&quot;Take your broken heart and make it into art.&quot;&#160; You might remember actress Merle Streep saying those words at the Golden Globes earlier this year.&#160; She was quoting actress Carrie Fisher who died in 2016.&#160; I put my own twist on this great quote by deciding to make a creature with the broken hole punch instead of throwing it into the trash.&#160; I painted it several shades of green and gold with a red tongue.&#160; The eyes were made with black glass beads and head pins.<br /><br />Crossing my fingers he'll bring me good luck in 2017!</p> </p><p class="break"><p><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Dragon Hole Punch by Michelle Mach" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/dragon-punch.jpg" /><br /></p></p> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 05:31:00 -0600 http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/720-guid.html In A Creative Rut? Try a Craft Kit http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/846-In-A-Creative-Rut-Try-a-Craft-Kit.html crafts inspiration http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/846-In-A-Creative-Rut-Try-a-Craft-Kit.html#comments http://michellemach.com/blog/wfwcomment.php?cid=846 0 http://michellemach.com/blog/rss.php?version=2.0&type=comments&cid=846 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mwmMQY"><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/felted-owl-heart.jpg" alt="Felted Owl" /></a>I've been feeling itchy lately.<br /><br />Now, before you rush to email me and let me know that I really should see a doctor about that, let me clarify that I'm talking about a creative itch.<br /><br />I've being feeling like making something creative using a different medium or technique than the ones I normally use, but no particular project came to mind.<br /><br />When I looked around my studio, I realized I'd never made the felted owl project that I purchased as a kit a couple of years ago.&#160; <br /><br />I've taken a couple of needle felting classes over the years and wanted to try something on my own.&#160; Needle felting is rather meditative as there's lots of repetitive action using a needle to join the wool fibers together.<br /><br /><strong>My Felted Owl</strong><br /><br />The great thing about kits is that they are self-contained craft experiences.&#160; Everything you need is contained inside most kits. The only thing that this kit did not contain was an optional piece of cardboard to protect your work surface beyond the material&#160; provided. I liked that <a href="http://amzn.to/2mwmMQY">this owl kit</a> had both clear written instructions and step photos.&#160; <em>(Yes, that's an Amazon affiliate link.&#160; If enough readers make a purchase, I can afford a cup of coffee.&#160; Woo-hoo!)</em><br /><br />This kit used a mold to make the body of the owl.&#160; I've used wire armatures in the other animals that I've made.&#160; I don't know why I never thought about using a mold to construct parts, but now that I've done it once I feel I could do it again with another creature of my own.&#160; That is definitely one of the benefits of kits and classes:&#160; you learn someone else's techniques that you might never have thought of by yourself.<br /><br />Here's a look at the owl in the middle of its construction:<br /><br /><a href="http://amzn.to/2mwmMQY"><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/owl-parts2.jpg" alt="Parts of the Felted Owl" /></a><br /><br />(This photo looks a little gruesome to me, the aftermath of some felted owl tragedy.&#160; Don't worry.&#160; As you can see from the photo at the top of this blog post, everything turns out okay.)<br /><br />The instructions say that this kit takes 6-8 hours. That might seem like a long time, but you don't have to do it all at once.&#160; What I did was to sit down with a podcast every day and worked on my project for a half hour to an hour.&#160; When the time was up, I put it away.&#160; The instructions and photos made it easy to pick up at the next step.<br /><br /><strong>Why Buy a Craft Kit?</strong><br /><br />Would you enjoy a craft kit?&#160; I don't make that many projects from kits, but I do find them fun occasionally.&#160; Here's what I li<a href="http://amzn.to/2mwmMQY"><img width="345" vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" height="355" alt="Felted Owl In Progress" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/owl-stage3.jpg" /></a>ke about them:<br /></p> </p><ul> <li>It's a great way to <strong>test out a completely new art form</strong>.&#160; Since everything is (usually) included, you don't have to worry about buying a lot of supplies you'll never use again in case you don't enjoy the process.<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><ul> <li>Sometimes it's nice to have<strong> a starting point</strong> for a project.&#160; Once you begin, you might find that your muse wakes up and has some ideas on how to put your own special stamp on a project.&#160; (The felted heart in the photo above was not included in the kit. I also skipped a couple of steps.&#160; You can see <a href="http://amzn.to/2mwmMQY">the photo of what the finished owl was supposed to look like</a> if you want to compare.)<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><ul> <li>The limited number of materials means that you don't have to stay stuck in the idea phase forever.&#160; It also means that you won't second-guess yourself about design decisions or have the project grow out of control.&#160; There is <strong>a finite ending</strong> in sight!</li> </ul><p> </p><ul> <li>Since you don't have to worry about making (or photographing step-by-step pieces if you're an instructor), you're free to <strong>let your mind wander</strong> or use the time to listen to books on tape, music, or podcasts.&#160; It's nice to occasionally let another designer take the driver's seat. <br /><br /></li> <li>Kits are widely available in major craft stores, small independent shops, and online. Most smaller shops seem to carry a completely different set of kits, many made by individuals or very small businesses.&#160; This is a great way to support a small craft business.<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p>While in-person or video classes have certain advantages (asking the teacher questions or being able to view the steps endlessly), I find that a kit is the perfect halfway point between a class and a completely original project.&#160; You have the guidance of the written instructions and limited materials, but you still can make a few decisions, particularly in making optional parts or deviating from the written plan.&#160; <br /><br />In short, it may be just what you need to ease yourself back on a creative path.<br /></p></p> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 08:05:00 -0600 http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/846-guid.html March Genre Challenge: Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/842-March-Genre-Challenge-Biography,-Autobiography,-and-Memoir.html book reviews http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/842-March-Genre-Challenge-Biography,-Autobiography,-and-Memoir.html#comments http://michellemach.com/blog/wfwcomment.php?cid=842 0 http://michellemach.com/blog/rss.php?version=2.0&type=comments&cid=842 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p> <strong><a href="http://www.michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/832-Genre-Reading-Challenge-for-2017-12-Genres-in-12-Months.html"><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" alt="12 Genres in 12 Months Reading Challenge" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/12genre-small.jpg" /></a>March Genre Challenge:&#160; Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir</strong><br /><br />March's theme in the <a href="http://www.michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/832-Genre-Reading-Challenge-for-2017-12-Genres-in-12-Months.html">12 genres in 12 months</a> reading challenge is one of my favorites: biography, autobiography, and memoir. I love learning about how other people live, about their challenges and passions.&#160; (I'm also a sucker for movies &quot;based on a true story.&quot;)<br /></p><strong>Recommended Reads</strong><br /> </p><p class="break"><p>I've read a ton in this category, so it's a little challenging to make only a few recommendations.&#160; Here are a few that I enjoyed in the last couple of years:<br /></p> </p><ul> <li><a href="http://amzn.to/2mfS2p4">Lab Girl</a> by Hope Jahren<br />If you've ever wondered what a geobiologist does all day, you'll enjoy this book.&#160; I do find myself studying the trees in my town much more closely since reading this book.<br /><br /></li> <li><a href="http://amzn.to/2m04QQf">Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter</a> by Nina MacLaughlin<a href="http://amzn.to/2mfS2p4"><img vspace="10" border="0" align="right" hspace="10" alt="Lab Girl book cover" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/lab-girl-book-cover.jpg" /></a><br />What happens when a newspaper reporter decides she wants a job that's more physical?<br /><br /></li> <li><a href="http://amzn.to/2m0s9cz">Season to Taste</a> by Molly Birnbaum<br />Think it wouldn't matter if lost your sense of smell?&#160; This book may convince you otherwise.<br /><br /></li> <li><a href="http://amzn.to/2ljWUuf">MWF Seeks BFF</a> by Rachel Bertsche<br />A newly transplanted Chicagoan is determined to find a new best friend.</li> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p>Plus, here are a few more that I've enjoyed and reviewed in previous blog posts.&#160; (Links will take you to my reviews.)<br /></p> </p><ul> <li><a href="http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/555-Book-Review-Confections-of-a-Closet-Master-Baker.html">Confections of a Closet Master Baker</a> by Gesine Bullock-Prado</li> <li><a href="http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/583-Book-Review-The-Tao-of-Martha.html">The Tao of Martha</a> by Jen Lancaster</li> <li><a href="http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/305-Review-Garlic-and-Sapphires.html">Garlic and Sapphires</a> by Ruth Reichl<br /></li> </ul><p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>What I Might Read</strong><br /> </p> </p><p class="break"><p>Here are the few books that made my short list:</p> </p><p class="break"><p><a href="http://amzn.to/2m0gcDP"><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/trevor-noah-cover.jpg" alt="Born a Crime" /></a><br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #1: </strong><a href="http://amzn.to/2m0gcDP">Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood</a> by Trevor Noah<a href="http://www.catwinters.com/"><br /></a><br /><strong>Why this interests me: </strong>I read a fair number of celebrity books. (I just finished reading Mara Wilson's <a href="http://amzn.to/2m9ry8i">Where Am I Now?</a> Listening to her recall <a href="http://www.dinnerpartydownload.org/mara-wilson/">memories of the tooth fairy</a> got me hooked.)&#160; What's unusual about <em>Born a Crime</em> is that I'm actually not that familiar with Trevor Noah as a celebrity; I don't watch the late night talk shows.&#160; For me, the draw of this book is the South African location.<br /><br /><strong>Recommended by: </strong>I heard <a href="http://www.npr.org/2016/11/22/503009220/trevor-noah-looks-back-on-childhood-in-the-shadow-of-a-giant-his-mom">an interview with the author</a> on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.&#160; I'm find that more of my book recommendations come from podcasts these days.<br /></p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mfUkVx"><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/hidden-figures.jpg" alt="Hidden Figures" /></a><br /> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Possibility #2: </strong><a href="http://amzn.to/2mfUkVx">Hidden Figures</a> by Margot Lee Shetterly<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me: </strong>I've enjoyed other biographies on groups of women such as <a href="http://amzn.to/2mmvofh">The Astronaut Wives Club</a> and <a href="http://amzn.to/2m3q7bs">The Girls of Atomic City</a>.&#160; (No, I haven't seen the movie <em>Hidden Figures</em> yet, but I'm planning on it.)&#160; I'm currently number 41 out of 90 holds on the library wait list for this book, so it's unlikely I'll read it this month.&#160; I'm planning on reading it whenever it becomes available. <br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><strong>Recommended by:</strong> I'm not sure how this book popped up on my radar since it's been on my &quot;to read&quot; list before the movie came out.&#160; It has now appeared on many recommendation lists including <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-history-biography-books-2016">Best History and Biography of 2016 at Goodreads</a>.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p><a href="http://amzn.to/2mfM2Nd"><img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/alexander-hamilton.jpg" alt="Alexander Hamilton" /></a> </p> </p><p class="break"><p> <strong>Possibility #3: </strong><a href="http://amzn.to/2mfM2Nd">Alexander Hamilton</a> by Ron Chernow<br /><br /><strong>Why it interests me: </strong>I've been thinking about reading this ever since the Broadway musical &quot;Hamilton&quot; started playing.&#160; <br /><strong><br />Recommended by:</strong> This is the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda's now famous musical, so that's why it's on my to-read list.<br /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>I'll be reading one (or possibly more) of these books this month.<br /><br />For other book ideas, check out my <a href="https://www.pinterest.com/beadsandbooks/book-recommendations/">Book Recommendations</a> board on Pinterest.&#160; I'll be adding book lists throughout the year as I come across intriguing ones.<br /><br /><strong>Next Month (April): </strong>Thrillers and Suspense. This is a tricky category for me.&#160; I read some books in this genre, but I find many too scary to read. <br /></p></p> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 07:17:00 -0700 http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/842-guid.html Twitter Art Exhibit: UK Charity Fundraiser for Children http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/835-Twitter-Art-Exhibit-UK-Charity-Fundraiser-for-Children.html art charities http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/835-Twitter-Art-Exhibit-UK-Charity-Fundraiser-for-Children.html#comments http://michellemach.com/blog/wfwcomment.php?cid=835 0 http://michellemach.com/blog/rss.php?version=2.0&type=comments&cid=835 (Michelle) <p class="break"><p><strong> Postcard Fundraiser</strong><br /><br />I'm excited to have an original art postcard in the upcoming <a href="http://twitterartexhibit.org/">Twitter Art Exhibit</a> which is being held this year at Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom from April 1-19, 2017.&#160; They are hoping to break a record this year, aiming for 1,000 postcards on display. Each original postcard will be sold for <span style="font-kerning: none;">£30.</span></p> </p><p class="break"><p>If you're not familiar with this project, it's an international annual event designed to raise money for a specific charity.&#160; This year's charity is <a href="http://www.mollyolly.co.uk/">Molly Olly's Wishes</a>, an organization that helps children with life threatening or terminal illnesses. <br /><br /><strong>Can You Spot My Postcard?<br /></strong></p> </p><p class="break"><p> <img vspace="10" border="0" hspace="10" alt="Twitter Art 2017" src="http://michellemach.com/blog/htmlarea/images/content/twitter-art-2017.jpg" /></p> </p><p class="break"><p>This image shows some of the postcards that were submitted at the same time as mine.&#160; Can you spot my watercolor-and-ink postcard?&#160; Hint:&#160; I like to read!&#160; (You can see <a href="http://www.michellemach.com/new-gallery/">a larger version</a> on my website.) Since this event was raising money for children, I wanted to paint something bright and cheerful.&#160;</p>If you'd like to see more of these amazing postcards, follow <a href="https://twitter.com/twitrartexhibit">@twitrartexhibit</a> on Twitter or <a href="https://www.instagram.com/twitterartexhibit/">@twitterartexhibit</a> on Instagram.&#160; I've really enjoyed getting a daily dose of handmade art for the past few months.<br /></p> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 07:37:00 -0700 http://michellemach.com/blog/index.php?/archives/835-guid.html