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 done 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... 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.