Monday, October 20, 2014

Five Good Things



It was Red Ribbon Week at school, and though Maria kept forgetting to wear red, she did put her heart and creativity into her poster. "Healthy Me ~ Way to Be" was the theme, and Maria illustrated a girl surrounded by good ideas and suggestions for living a healthy life. She drew a border with books, gardens, play activities, and community building suggestions, like sharing from your garden, and cycling. I like the pictures at the bottom, of the girl reading, and Maria's message, "Reading is good for you! So many books to read! Read a book! Big, and small, funny and spooky... read it all!" I love that these ideas were her own, and that they are a reflection of her school's message... it's not just rhetoric from the week's theme, but the genuine spirit and message our school and community honors and supports in classes, and special programs, throughout the year. We feel fortunate to be here, that Maria can go to to a school with such a healthy vision for its students and community.

Good Things...

1. We have {finally} chosen our house paint color! The important thing is that it has a pretty name, too. We committed with the first five gallon bucket of "Arrowhead Lake." It's blue. And it's bluetiful!

2. It took us 10 months to decide on a house color, and only moments to unanimously agree to paint the barn red!

3. Paul, Janece, and Amira came over with Mediterranean food... and we feasted on the delicious food, and happy company.

4. We watched the Nature episode, "Animal Misfits," which was wonderful. Mudskippers are hilarious and deeply odd, and I want to save the kakapo!

5. Seam rippers. It's not good how often I need this tool, but thank goodness for seam rippers!

Thinking about Maria's poster, I feel inspired to enjoy a nice walk today, to spruce up our Little Free Library, and maybe get around to tending our veggie garden, too. Happy Monday, friends. I hope there are good things awaiting you this week~

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Playing House

Last year Maria and I discovered paper clay, and we made mushrooms, and houses, and wee gnomes, and gave little ornaments to friends. It's a simple craft, and gratifying, too. Saturday, while Maria was in her class in miniature making {Oh, yeah! Awesome stuff happening there!} I sat outside with our box of paper clay making supplies, and kept myself busy fiddling with the clay. We hadn't down anything with it since December, but it all came back to me, and I rolled out a tiny collection of capped mushrooms. Then a bitty house, or two.

Mushrooms. Houses. What if... Mushroom Houses?

Still small enough to be built on a sewing pin, but bigger than the mini mushrooms, I built a fungi with a door and chimney, and basically fell in love with the whole concept, and so I made three more! With this paper clay, the larger the pieces are the more challenging it is to keep the clay from cracking, and maybe I should be playing with other clays (FIMO?) but this stuff is so affordable and I love that I can paint it, too. It helped to use a small paint brush, dabbing it in water, and gentle brushing the clay so it would stay pliable and smooth. Also, pieces that split after drying repair quite nicely with a dab of Elmer's glue.

Have you ordered your Paperclay, yet?

After they dried through, and this took a bit longer with the larger pieces, I brought out the acrylic craft paints. Now, I wish I'd made more Mushroom Houses, because this is too much fun!

Two coats of red, one coat of grey, and dabs of bark brown. The spots go on with the end of a flat headed toothpick. Spot. Spot. Spot. Later I will slip a little bit of white wool into the chimney... it will look as if a cozy fire must be burning inside!

I'm not very good at getting uniform shapes, so the houses are folksy little nooks. Charming cottages, with character.

And the Mushroom Homes... well, they have a lot of charm and character, too!


Friday, October 17, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Our red barn~

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Scarily Sweet Sugar Skulls









Maria's after school cooking class did something not quite edible, but totally kitchen-fun... they made sugar skulls, in the Dia De Los Muertos tradition. I should add "Easy" to this post title: "Scarily Sweet and Easy to Make Sugar Skulls!" Dawn shared the recipe, as well as the online shop where she gets her molds and supplies. I've already ordered the medium mold. The directions are emphatic about two points: You cannot do this on a rainy or humid day, and you want a good quality meringue powder. Dawn brought out a ginormo bowl, opened a five pound bag of granulated sugar, added a 1/4 cup of the meringue powder, and only three tablespoons of water. Easy. Then, bare hands went into the bowl and she mixed it all up. It feels like damp sand. I love the texture. Then it's like filling sandcastle molds at the beach... just pack in the sugar, pressing firmly, leveling the sugar. Have a plate, or cardboard square ready, and place it over the open top of the mold, and flip, so you can steadily raise the mold off the sugar skull. I was surprised at how quickly this all came together, and how easily it held. We brought ours home to dry, and after 24 hours they already feel hard.

Dozens of skulls were already molded, dried, and ready for the students to decorate. I'm sure you can make up your own royal icing, and color it to suit your artistic whims, but if you are looking for instant gratification grab those grocery store icing tubes, with the fun decorator tips and get busy decorating your skull! After the handling, and all those dense globs of dye, no one here is tempted to eat these... eew! There was foil paper for the eyes, and for a rectangle on the forehead, where, traditionally, a deceased loved one's name can be inscribed in icing. As Rosie noted, the students jumped in with wild eagerness to decorate their first skulls, but when that initial burst of enthusiasm subsided and when they were on to their second, or third skull, they settled into patient and fantastic creativity. We saw some cleverly decorated skulls, and some very thickly iced skulls, too. It was all good fun. Properly stored, Dawn says they will last for years... hers is that gorgeous one at the top.

Though my own heritage is Mexican, Dia De Los Muertos is not a tradition we celebrated in our family. For me, these sugar skulls are a craft, and I add a reverent nod for the respect it is meant to symbolize, the remembrances of loved ones who have died. The history of Dia De Los Muertos is fascinating... the marriage of cultures, faiths, and art. Now that we have dabbled in this art... maybe in the spring we can try our hand at decorating sugar eggs!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Five Good Things

The Moon, October 7, 2014.

The full moon this month felt exceptionally beautiful. It was bright, and silvery, and really stirred my soul. Early the next morning, I caught some of the lunar eclipse, too. The eclipse was beautiful, but I think seeing the moon rise, the night before, was my favorite. Now, I am eagerly anticipating the October 23 solar eclipse... ten days away! Be sure you are prepared, either by purchasing viewers, or making some safe viewing devises yourself... Make.com has some helpful links and suggestions.
Hopefully the cool, grey weather I have been so wishful and eager for, won't finally arrive and interfere with us getting a full view of the eclipse!

Good Things...

1. The house is as messy as ever, because we are getting so much done! It's frustrating, but a reality... sometimes things get a bit crazier, before they get better. But repairs, improvements, and projects are making steady progress.

2. Our new washer plays a pretty little tune when the cycle is through: "Die Forelle," Franz Schubert. Poor little trout. The tune is pretty, but the lyrics are actually rather disturbing, and this amuses us to no end, so that's good, too.

3. I've been invited to tea, and in the same email was shown great, comforting, sympathy. Ha, I just saw it... "tea and sympathy!" I tell you, it can make a world of difference to my heart and soul when someone says, I understand!

4. Pumpkin dog treats, the ones from Trader Joe's, are a huge hit in the Little Free Library. Maria refilled the jar, again, yesterday.

5. It's foggy. Right now, it's cool, dark, and foggy. It feels so good!

Happy Monday... I suppose we all wish it were still the weekend, but I hope this will be a good day for you~

Sunday, October 12, 2014

What's New At The Little Free Library



Never mind the books in the Little Free Library {there are many!} Today we are talking about the treats in the Little Free Library. If you haven't been to a Trader Joe's in recent days you may not know that they are featuring Pumpkin Flavored Everything! Maria and I brought home a box of Pumpkin Flavored Dog Treats for the neighborhood pups. Now, with the classic milk bones, our canine neighbors can enjoy a seasonal pumpkin biscuit. We also strung some LED lights, which look lovely and bright on these dusky fall evenings. I still want to raise some funds so we can buy a bench. My big hope is to host a craft and bake sale, with an interactive activity. {The only things standing in my way are energy and gumption... oh, dear, it may never come together, in that case! Do you ever feel like you're getting nowhere??} That's it. That's my Little Free Library update. I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

Friday, October 10, 2014

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Liz, Delia, Kai, and Beckie~ A random, chance meeting, far from their respective homes~ My aunts, uncle, and mother, and their joyful selfie that makes me smile tearfully... Mono Lake, California~

*In honor of loved ones, our special moments, and memories, I am including this fundraising link for
Walk To End Alzheimer's.
We all want to remember our special moments.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Get Ready For Eclipse Season

Make.com is helping us prepare for an eclipse season! Today, our post is a visit back to one of the most amazing eclipse experiences we've ever had the pleasure to enjoy, and since it occurred during Maker Faire, it was even more fun... it was a fitting and beautiful finish to a weekend dedicated to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math and sharing! At the end of our second day at Maker Faire, the hot day began to cool suddenly, and shadows shimmered, doubled and turned every edge into crescent shapes. The sun slowly disappeared behind the moon, and everywhere people were pausing to marvel at the occurrence. We got our hands on some safety viewers, and looked up. We shared the viewers with anyone passing by, anyone missing out on the eclipse, and it was like sharing magic. It was like the whole of the rest of the Maker Faire experience, where everyone is sharing and learning, and there is a constant exchange between people who are teaching and learning, giving, and receiving... but in this instance everyone was enjoying the same event, the same science of nature. Somehow, there is a kind of tangible sensation when hundreds of people all direct their attention to a common purpose and all are reveling in the experience, describing, admiring, engaging with each other and with the almost surreal happening. It feels really good, it feels affirming of the positive, thoughtful, inquisitive nature of people. It was inspiring because of the power of nature to unify us in our curiosity and interest, our knowledge, and our eagerness to learn more. The entire weekend holds some of my fondest memories, for the people, the place, the things we saw and learned, and shared, and I hold these moments dear.

We are thrilled to have our photographs featured in Michelle Hlubinka's Make.com article, Packing For Eclipse Season. "The lunar eclipse Wednesday morning kicks off a series of blood moons..." and "then… when the moon swings around to the other side of the Earth in a little less than two weeks, most of the United States (and Mexico) get a peek at a partial solar eclipse on Thursday, October 23rd!" Michelle has suggestions and practical tips for enjoying this month's celestial show, so I hope you will follow the links to her article, and look for her kind remarks about our Young Maker's Club, Love & Rockets! We feel honored to be a part of the good things that happen in the Make community!

Alex, Maria, Bambi, Eli, and Max~
San Mateo, California, May 2012





William's shadow, and the tree's, with the crescent edges created by the partial eclipsing of sun, where a small bit of the sun, like a ring of fire, makes these strange, beautiful forms. Michelle writes,
"... you don’t need to use fancy equipment to play with and witness this beautiful moment. All you need is a tiny hole. Take a piece of opaque board or foil to project the image of the obscured sun, pinhole-style, onto a flat, white surface the right distance away. Forget your hole at home? You can even make a tiny aperture with a curled finger or fist (as William, of Maker Club Love & Rockets showed us.)"

Monday, October 06, 2014

Five Good Things






























Alex and Sarah made costumes and props for the Viking Festival. It was Alex's first visit to any Viking Festival, and we were so engrossed and busy with helping him prepare, that we hadn't given the idea of joining them enough consideration... I had a duh-lightbulb moment after they left, and Maria looked at me incredulously... "So, are we going tomorrow?" she asked. It was Sunday afternoon, and this was a now, or next year situation, so we scrambled, and found our way to the Sons of Norway Lodge.

What a great decision, what a happy discovery. The Viking Festival, encamped in a mixed terrain nook, adjacent to an old hall building, among olive and pepper trees, was small, but rich in activities and sights. We wound our way through stalls and demonstrations, among Vikings, knights, crafters, and traders. We discovered new crafts, inspiring projects, and tempting trinkets. I bought three yards of embroidered cotton trim. I almost bought a drop spindle, because, you know, someday I might be a shepherdess! I still might order a sheaf of wheat, because, you know, plaiting my own straw hat is probably on my bucket list, too. Maria and I were at the traditional Viking foundry, when Alex and Sarah caught up with us. Sarah had to head out, early, which was a shame. Then Bambi was able to leave work, and she met us, so that was a nice surprise. In no time at all, Alex's questions and interest in the traditions and techniques of Viking foundry work earned him a position as an apprentice, helping to heat the little forge for casting Viking charms. Travelers' souvenirs, made in the old way, of plumber's pewter. The experience was fantastic. We have been collecting tools, parts, and knowledge for our own backyard mini-forge and foundry, and this experience was priceless, and fun. I was trying to memorize all the details... soapstone for molds, coke and charcoal for the fire, double bellows pumped in alternation, lead-free plumber's pewter. I am sure Alex remembers more than I do, and the exciting part is that he and Max are on the right course, and this DIY vision is highly attainable.

We were there for only three, maybe four hours. We took away such good ideas, and compelling plans, it was time well spent, and full, and we wish we'd been both days! We must build a Viking tent, and those awesome chairs, a village! I fell in love with the kitchen, the kettles over the fire, the mud and straw bread ovens, the A-frame shelters, the linen tunics and aprons, the many new-to-me crafts... why-o-why didn't I write down the name of the cord making craft? With a small wooden lyre shaped tool these women were turning yarn or string into a woven cord. It was almost like crochet, but not. Gah! I really want to try this, too! I am sure you can imagine, I am so glad Maria nudged me into going to the Viking Festival. Have you guessed? We all want to go, next year.

Good Things...

1. I am still giddy for our cover-goat! Ada made the cover of a local paper, and I beam every time I see her face.

2. Alex and Bambi baked chocolate cupcakes... a treat in honor of Bambi's birthday. The unexpected surprise were the kiwis they added to the buttercream frosting! What a tasty flavor!

3. I found consumer eye-candy bliss at Ikea, where all of their Christmas merchandise is on display. I was utterly smitten with all the Swedish colors and themes, and cheer!

4. Little Debbie, our little and elderly hen, was looking terribly out of sorts, but has rallied, and is looking spry and plucky, again.

5. Is this "good?" I dunno, but I seem to be acclimating to our awful weather... _oh, gee, it's only eighty degrees? Goodness, it's practically chilly. What lovely fall weather_ No. Nope. I cannot bear this. Maybe it's a good thing, that I am getting used to the heat, which is better than always feeling like it's too miserably hot, but a real good thing would be rain, and fog, and mountain snow, and wind, and clouds, and pie baking weather!

Are you getting pie baking weather? Have you ever been to a Viking Festival? What good things are on your mind?