Monday, April 14, 2014

You Know, You Wreck Everything You Touch. Why Not Try and Make Something for a Change?

My Sophomore year in High School I took a ceramics class with my two best friends. I really disliked the teacher and the set-up was a little pathetic: thirty kids in the class but only four pottery wheels. Still, the class became one of my favorite classes in the entire four years.  I attribute most of that to the fact that we were largely unsupervised in the class and, like I said, I had my two best friends with me, but we took other classes together and I didn't enjoy them as much as ceramics. I think there was something so therapeutic about molding, sculpting and just playing with the clay that really resonated with me. 

As a fifteen year old I had grand visions of becoming an amazing potter as an adult. I would dig my own clay out of the earth, spend hours in my pottery studio, fire my amazing creations in the kiln I made myself in my backyard and sell the finished products for thousands of dollars.   Sadly, the class was only one year and since it had fulfilled the art requirement I needed to graduate, there was no reason to take another class. I never really thought about it again. 

A few months ago a friend of mine emailed me about a Groupon deal for a two-session pottery class. I jumped at the chance. 

A while later the two of us found ourselves at the class, armed with clay and sitting at a potter's wheel. Once the wheel started spinning and I felt the clay under my hands, all my grand visions of backyard kilns and thousand dollar creations came flooding back to me. 

The teacher had a simpler vision: we could create two pots. And here they are:  




It took three hours. Three hours with no kids, no laundry, no cooking. Three hours to hang out with my friend. Three hours to mold, sculpt and play with clay. It was wonderful. 

We left our pots there to be fired in the kiln. Several weeks later we went back to glaze our pots (something I have never done before).  I made them look like this: 

A few days later our pots were all done and I went and picked mine up: 







I loved it. I want to take more classes! I want to join the pottery club and spend my evenings and weekends creating things out of clay!  But money. And time. Sigh.

Still, I'm not going to wait another ten plus years to get my hands dirty again!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

And the Children Aren't Puppies, They're People. And Sooner or Later, Nana, People Have to Grow Up.

Today my baby Alexa turned one year old. That means a party! 

The food was served in baby food jars. We had fruit salad and veggies: 


Goldfish, raisins and cheerios:

even the strawberry cake was served inside baby food jars!





Alexa seemed to enjoy it. She is only one, and since ine-year-olds aren't fans of large crowds, the guest list was..well, very short. Me. Ash. Daddy. Amy. And Princess Alexa, of course. But I think she'll appreciate the pictures once she's a little older.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

As You Can see, My Young Apprentice, Your Friends Have Failed. Now Witness the Firepower of This Fully Armed and Operational Battle Station!

In the midst of the Rebellion of our Backyard the rabbits and ground squirrels were slaughtering our garden plants, our grass, and our soil. Holes populated the barren dirt. Traps were proven obsolete. It seemed nothing to suppress the Rebellion. 

And then Drek built an owl house from scratch. We hoisted it high into our palm tree and hoped somewhere, sometime, an owl family would move into the house and rescue our yard from the war zone it had become. 

We waited and waited and waited. 





At last! We can hear baby owls inside the owl house! We catch glimpses of the parents around our house, and Drek even saw one devouring a mouse that had the misfortune of being stark white against a brown backdrop. We haven't actually seen any owls in the box, and we can't look inside because it is so high up, but owlets are very noisy, and we can hear them!

It seems the rabbit population has dropped and in the panic of avoiding the owls two ground squirrels have been caught in our traps. Finally! Once owlets grow up into hunters, we will crush the rebels and bring this war to an end! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I am a Pretend Guy That... Comes Around... And... Gets Run Over by a Lawnmower Blade!

April marks three years since we moved into this house. We bought it as a foreclosure and have slowly...oh so slowly...been fixing it up to make it look less abandoned. When we first moved in, our to-do list was several dozen pages. Somewhere on the first page was to get a front lawn. Right away we realized if we installed a lawn, we would have to take care of it. Mowing. Watering. Yuck. Also, sod is crazy expensive. So a front lawn was moved back a few pages. 

Three years later, we finally decided to tackle it. We decided we wanted grass! We decided we wanted mulch! We decided we wanted landscaping! Here are the results: 

Before:  


After: 




 Before:
After: 


Before: 



After: 



 Before:

After:



And some more after:












We decided to divide the yard: A lawn area and a mulch/plant area. We also added parking by the road and put in railroad ties to discourage cars from driving on our very expensive grass. Grass that we now have to water. And mow. Yuck.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

If you’re enough lucky to be Irish... You’re lucky enough

Confession: We didn't have Lucky Charms for breakfast this morning. We're trying not to have sugar, so we had green smoothies and oatmeal. 

After breakfast we had to move fast! I had invited over thirty families to our second annual St Patrick's Day Irish Party for the Kids of the Ward Who Aren't in School at Ten in the Morning!  (The title could use a little work) 

We had more families than last year, but the best part was the treats! Everyone was asked to "bring a green, orange and/or white treat to share." Last year I did the fruit salad. This year we did green smoothies in rainbow cups: 


(Ash made the colored sugar herself! Dipping all those cups took an hour!) 

And quesadillas made from spinach tortillas and cut into shamrock shapes. I had the ranch for dipping in the middle contained by green and orange bell peppers.

Last year the majority of people brought carrots. A few served them on a platter, but I did get a few bags of baby carrots handed to me with a shrug "I just couldn't think of anything else that was healthy." 

This year we had some great ideas! Only one person brought carrots, and it was served with celery and cucumber!  We had a cabbage salad, a delicious white bean salad with carrots and cilantro, dried coconut snacks, popcorn, cutie oranges... all fantastic ideas! 

The decorations turned out well too, if I say so myself.  


The party was a huge success! I'm already planning next year's party!

After all that, dinner was just a family affair: asparagus, carrots, baked mashed potatoes and homemade soda bread:



Maybe next year we'll have Lucky Charms for dessert. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Banana. So Funny.

Slowly, so very slowly, we are fixing up the front yard of our house. Our most recent fix-up: banana trees!



They are trees that grow bananas! Bananas will grow on these trees! Real bananas! Edible bananas! Grow, my little banana harvest, grow!

Monday, March 10, 2014

We got the Loot, Didn't We? Then I Call It a Win. What's the Problem? Should I Start with the Part Where You're Stranded in the Middle of Nowhere or the Part Where You Have No Clothes?

I'm going to warn you right now: This story contains brief nudity. That was a spoiler, but I think it needed to be said.

We stayed in a one bedroom suite. The front room included a little kitchenette that had a microwave, a stove with two burners, a kitchen sink and a full size fridge. Halfway through our trip to Fredericksburg I discovered my hotel had a free "stock my fridge" service where you give them a shopping list by eight in the morning and by five in the afternoon the items would magically show up in your fridge/cupboard. Since I had to take the bus to the closest store, I was delighted.

 I handed my grocery list over to the appointed person by the appointed time, then gathered up my kids and went out for the day. I like to be gone when room service shows up, and I wanted to be gone when the delivery person came to deliver my groceries. We got back to the hotel at noon. I glanced in the fridge; our food and not yet arrived. Thinking they would show up soon and not wanting to be there when they did, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the hotel pool. After two hours it was time for Alexa's nap. Back in our room I was disappointed to see the groceries were still undelivered. I put the sign on the door that said to go away, realizing that I would probably have to pick up the groceries myself  from the front desk. But at least I wouldn't have to take a bus to get there! 

We showered all together, taking off our wet swimsuits and washing off the chlorine.  I left Ash in the bath and took Alexa to get her into some clothes. I sang to her as I carried her from the bathroom to the bed. The door to the front room was wide open and I walked right in front of it. . . yeah, you see where this is going. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, jumped behind the wall and maybe even let out a squeal. I looked out into the front room in time to see the delivery woman jumping out the front door in no less of a hurry. She may have also let out a squeal. She poked her head back in: "Sorry! I'm so sorry!" and the quickly disappeared.

After she left I rushed into the front room, carrying my naked baby in front of me as some sort or pathetic shield, and locked the door, wondering why I hadn't done that in the first place. I had a flash of anger. I put the sign on the door! Wasn't that enough? Don't they knock before coming in? And then I started to giggle. That poor women. Not only was she subjected to the pure view of my fluffiness. She also must have heard me singing. What an assault on her senses.

But my fridge was stocked! She had put the frozen groceries in the freezer, the milk in the fridge and even put the Cheerios in the cupboard.

I decided to leave her a big tip by way of apology. Just how much of a tip was standard for such a situation?

Half an hour later, just as Alexa was drifting off to sleep, the hotel phone rang.

"This is the the manager of the hotel. I just wanted to personally call and apologize for the...the incident."  She paused, not sure if she was being too discrete. "The incident that took place a half hour ago."

"My staff member realized you had the sign on the door, but she wanted to get the perishables but away and she didn't know anyone was home. She shouldn't have gone in, and I apologize, but she wanted to get those groceries in the freezer. She didn't realize you were home until... well, until the incident. I just wanted to apologize and let you know that all those groceries are on us today. There will be no charge for the groceries and I hope you accept out sincerest apologies."

Which ended the deliberations of how much I should tip. I didn't try the "stock my fridge" service again, but I did lock my door for the rest of the week whenever we were done with the pool.