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Up Close and Personal

My name is Jill Carol Reed Niles. I was born in Buffalo, New York. I spent my childhood in Arlington, Texas. As an adult, I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in California. So I guess you could say that I am a Southern Yankee Californian. Click here to e-mail me if you enjoy my web site.

My Interests:

Spirituality · Writing · Art · Family · Nutrition

Spirituality

I have always believed in God. I grew up in a Christian household, but I think that it is more basic than that. I believe that God places in us the knowledge of Him from birth. He also gives us a conscience to let us know when we are disobeying His laws.

I was in the Lutheran church as a child and the Presbyterian church as a teenager, then I quit going to church. Twenty years ago, I studied the Bible with some women from the San Francisco Church of Christ, a Bible-based New Testament church. I have been in this church ever since. The church is patterned after the one established on Pentecost by Jesus's apostles and written about in the Book of Acts. Each member is called to be a disciple. We get together with people and study the Bible with them.

Click here to see a sample Bible study.

Writing

At an early age I began writing stories about monsters and vampires. My girlfriend Barbara and I would go up in her attic and fill pages with gory tales and illustrations of horror. Don't ask me why, but at five years old this seemed a perfectly normal thing to do. In grade school, I began writing poetry and short stories. In high school, I was encouraged to enter my stories in competitions by my English teacher, Miss Amos. I got honorable mention in one national contest. In college, I entered a high school poem in a contest and it was published in America Sings, a publication of the National Poetry Association.

As an adult, I began a series of fantasy novels. I have finished the first book, and am working on the second in the series. The subsequent books in the series are also in different stages of production. I plan to self-publish. I would also like to illustrate the books. My most recent writing project was a series of short stories for my grandson Jake called The Adventures of Jake. In each story Jake, the main character, goes on an adventure. The series covers the past, present, and future.

Click here to read a sample of my work.

Art

At an early age, my writing spawned my artwork. I illustrated my stories to make them more real. I loved to color and draw freehand. I drew Disney characters and dreamed of working as a cell artist in Walt Disney's huge warehouse studio. In school, I included artwork in my science projects and drew illustrations on my notebook covers. I loved cartoons and tried to draw all the characters—Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Popeye, Pluto, Tom and Jerry. By high school, I was using art to make a living. I painted signs, made pen and ink drawings for a local silk screener, and drew an illustration of the Brita water filter for its patent application.

In college, I majored in Art and English. I took interior design, freehand drawing, sculpture, art history, and other art and design courses. I won honorable mention in a package design contest for an ice cream carton. I earned money drawing fashion ads for the local newspaper and designing window dressings for local department stores.

My career choices as an adult have always included artwork in some form. In my first full-time job at IBM I drew flow charts for the programmers. I designed and sold baby clothes when my son was born. I worked as a freelance artisan for eleven years and owned my own gift shop where I sold my creations—macramé jewelry, Indian beadwork, and collage earrings. I also designed greeting cards and advertisements for my business. The front of my shop was decorated with a hand painted sign I designed. I have recently held various jobs as a graphic artist/desktop publisher and am now in training to learn web design.

Click here to see some samples of my artwork.

Family

I am enjoying being a grandmother. My grandson Jake keeps me busy with his interests: Yu-gi-oh, soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming, dancing and singing. He is a ball of energy and has a great sense of humor. He calls me his spooky grandma because I am always surprising him with new activities. I take him on photography hikes and introduce him to movies like "Princess Mononoke", "Willow", and "Spirited Away".

I like to shake up his world by giving him new experiences because he is such a "millennium kid". Once we had a power out and he said, "I can't live like this!" because everything he likes to do has to do with electricity. So I took him outside, showed him the light of the moon, and told him that, in the past, people did not have electricity and used candlelight to see at night. He didn't believe me!

Click here to see my family photo album.

Nutrition

My interest in cooking was sparked by my Swedish grandmother Signe Sophia Michlich. She used unusual ingredients, such as sugar in cauliflower, and vinegar and sugar in green beans. She never measured anything, so each time she cooked a dish it tasted different, but always good. She had a raspberry patch out in her backyard, which I loved, and a basement whose walls were lined with jars of food she canned every year. I learned to cook by watching her.

When I got married, cooking was important because a wife needs to be able to cook. But when I had my son, nutrition became very important because I wanted my son to be strong and healthy. That was when I became interested in natural food. I made his baby food from natural ingredients and began studying nutrition. Later I taught classes in Nutrition and Organic Cooking for Contra Costa County Parks and Recreation.

Click here to see some natural food tips and recipes.

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