Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Would You Waste an Egg Like That?


Look! Easter Eggs! 

This year Ash thought it would be fun to dye eggs, then put the dyed egg into the egg carton and spoon more dye over the egg. This resulted in a cool rainbowing effect: 









 Drek did two tricks this year. This one he put oil into the dye to create a cool marble pattern:



And this one he dipped a toothbrush in the undiluted food coloring and flicked the paint onto the egg: 


I cut tape into the shapes I wanted and applied to to the egg. After I dyed the egg, I pulled the tape off:


On this one I then dyed the again: 

For my last egg I added Googly eyes, 

which Ash liked so much she decided to copy: 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

You Are Perhaps the Most Resourceful Individual I Have Ever Known

Over the weekend we enjoyed a small camping trip. Our church arranged it, chose the spot and time and sent out reminders that the they would provide breakfast but each family was in charge of their own dinner. There was also a note that the festivities would start at four in the afternoon, and that a giant propane grill and a fire in a fire pit would be provided for the families to cook their dinner. 

Drek has passed on his love of camping to Ash, who was so excited about our adventure and decided she needed to dictate what we would have for dinner: Hot dogs. Drek was thrilled. He bought fancy hot dogs for them and I bought a package of Vegan Smart dogs for me. 

We arrived at the campground at three fifteen, found ourselves to be the first arrivals and promptly chose the best spot to set up our tent. After arranging our temporary abode, a few rounds of horseshoes and a romp on the playground (it was a nice camping spot!) the next family finally showed up. That was about five. Another family arrived at five fifteen and it was a steady trickle after that. 

At six, the family in charge of propane arrived. Drek set up the giant grill, hooked up the propane and tried to cook our hot dogs. 

After a lot of troubleshooting and wondering why our hotdogs were only mildly less-cold, it was decided that the propane tank was nearly empty. No other tanks had been brought, so of course someone was sent back into town to get a propane tank for breakfast. Propane for dinner, however, that was now off the table. Also there would be no campfire. And starting your own fire is not allowed. 

Not to be discouraged, Drek and Ash went out with the unquenchable camping spirit: Be resourceful! Be creative! Cook hot dogs! 

A few minutes later they returned to camp with deliciously cooked hot dogs.  Drek had borrowed the camp master's microwave. The resourcefulness! The creativity! The cooked hot dogs! 

After a delicious dinner we curled into our sleeping bags and slept as best you can on a camping trip with fifty other families all close together. Sleeping becomes more difficult when one of those families has a child that cries. All. Night. Long. Ah, camping. 

But the next morning we had an amazing and plentiful breakfast, an Easter egg hunt,  and lots of rides on the zipline! Ziplines make the best camping trips. 


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.