Friday, July 3, 2015

Summer Fun: Fireworks!

Yep, it's that time again.  And we went to see the town fireworks.  We got a great spot, on a wall, overlooking the harbor where we sat eating chocolate chip cookies--the only challenge was the mosquitoes.  I even got some nice-for-a-cellphone shots, which I include here more for the memories than for the art.  Just imagine a nice summer breeze, folks in lawn chairs cheering, cookies, colors on the water, and boots gliding past.

Summer Fun: Kebab Bake

I hadn't realized that we always seem to have shish kebabs around the 4th of July.  I guess because it's an outside, grilling food.  Except this time, I made it as an indoor shish kebab bake, which saved me the trouble of loading the skewers and lighting the grill.  So much easier.  And the kids loved it!  I'll probably fiddle with the marinade some, but they really liked the pineapple chunks.  
Another food we're hoping to have this weekend, which seems to crop up around this time of year:  homemade strawberry soda ice cream!  

And tomorrow we get to sample the month-long fermented raspberry shrub.


Shish Kebab Bake

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 can pineapple chunks, with juice
1 1/2-2 lbs. chicken breast, cubed
vegetables as desired (cubed/sliced/bite size):  onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, yellow squash, whole cherry tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage 

Toss all ingredients together and let marinade for about an hour.  Transfer meat and vegetables to foil-lined baking tray (foil for easy clean up.)  Bake at 350F for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is done.  Meanwhile, boil remaining marinade on the stove.   Serve "kebabs" with sauce.

Note:  I'm thinking that garlic would go well with that sauce.  Original recipe from Gommie uses 1/2 cup lemon juice instead of pineapple juice from can, but I didn't bother.  It also calls for some chopped parsley.

Mommy Hungry

Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Mandala for Wink and Friends

I had never made a crocheted mandala.  I had never heard of Wink.  I didn't know there was a tight-knit online crochet community.

That has changed.

Earlier this week, friends recommended I take a look at Lucy at Attic24, who does a lot of bright and rainbow arts and crafts projects.  So I followed her on FB.  And she soon posted about the loss of crochet artist and author Marinke Slump a.k.a Wink, who had succumbed to severe depression.  Wink, who blogged at A Creative Being, had been very straightforward about her mental health issues and how she used crochet to stay in the light.  I went looking for her blog and found her little sister's touching post.  And all of her beautiful crocheted mandalas!  So colorful, so intricate.  I found Kathryn Vercillo of Crochet Concupiscence who had published a book, Crochet Saved My Life, including an interview with Wink.   Two separate memorials were started--#MandalasforWink and #MandalasforMarinke.  I was sad for Wink and her struggles, for her family and friends and their grief, and for the crochet community and their loss.  I was touched by the beauty of Wink's art.

And so out of the darkness and sadness of others, I started my first crocheted mandala as a way to honor Wink and acknowledge the grief of her community, a way for something good and beautiful albeit small to arise from it like a lotus out of mud.   I'll admit that it isn't one of Wink's patterns, which are beautiful.  I wanted something easy (I only later found Wink's basic 12-round mandala.)  I found a Granny Mandala--"grandala!"--by "Crochet with Raymond" (really a blog by a lesbi@n hooker and her Siamese cat.)  And so this with a package of Lion Brand pastel "poppers" that I had on hand, I made a straightforward crocheted mandala--pink, peach, lemon, lime, blue, lavender, white.  Lovely.

Now I'm stiffening it, to hang in the window.  I plan to make a second one to donate to the memorial, now that I've gotten more of the hang of it.  Instead of liquid starch, hairspray, or a sugar solution, I'm using an equal mixture of white glue and water.  I hope it works.  It's drying right now.

And it will be a lovely reminder of love, art, light, and life.

I followed Crochet with Raymond's pattern, using thing #2 Lion Brand pastel "poppers" yarn and an H hook.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer Fun: Doodle Dos and Don'ts

This morning before ice skating, I worked on the flags I've wanted to doodle.  I ironed them first, as they'd gotten wrinkly since the Zentangle retreat in February, stuffed in my doodle bag waiting their turn.  They're muslin flags strung together with hem tape (homemade by the class instructor) and had gotten pretty wrinkly.

I had decided to put my peace-hope-love doodles on the tripartite flag and so set to work with my permanent Identi-pen for fabric this morning at the kitchen table.

I dropped the boxes and changed the heart a bit.  I think they came out nicely.

And then I realized that there were marks--dots and streaks and such--all over the table.  I hadn't thought about my pen bleeding through the thin fabric.  

I called the kids in as a teachable moment.  Because, of course, sometimes I go on a tirade when they make a mess, honest but forseeable messes not intentionally made, but I get upset that they don't think ahead or be extra careful. And here I'd done the exact same thing myself.  So I told them that the next time I started getting upset about their making a similar mistake that all they needed to mention were the tabletop dots and I would not yell.  

The dots only sort of came up with a scrubbing from the steel wool (which then also sort of took the finish off the table.  I guess we'll know which is my spot.)

Still, the flags are lovely.

And I'm extra-prepared for when the whole family works on the blue, yellow, red, green, and white flags I bought for us to decorate and hang around!  (I think a piece of cardboard underneath would do the trick nicely.)

Summer Fun: On Ice

Skating again this week, with some friends.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ripple, Cowls, and Crochet, Oh, My!

I'm still crocheting . . . just finished a chunky Granny ripple afghan and am working on my Outlander-inspired cowl for my cosplay at ComicCon this fall.  The ripple worked well and the cowl is lovely (I just need to decide how "tall" to make it.)  I might even make an infinity cowl out of some of the purple yarn I used for my first ripple afghan.  We'll see.

Mama and I haven't gotten back to our amigurumi; something else always seems to come up.

But my crochet keeps getting better.  For the Ripple, as I mentioned, I had to learn to dc2tog and count.  For the cowl, I practiced my foundation double crochet and both my front and back post stitches, none of which I've ever done.  I never dreamed that one of the positive outcomes of my surgery would be improving my crocheting skills!  I love it.

Chunky Granny Ripple

4 skeins Lion Brand Thick and Quick
P hook

Ch 79

will finish rest of pattern

Outlander "Sassenach" Cowl

from Polly Foo Foo on Ravelry

I foundation double crocheted 50 stitches to make mine wider.  Then I worked the pattern till it was about 12" high.

Silence Has Fallen

We had piano lessons this morning and then got a deli picnic lunch.

We played our own Star Wars game for an hour or more, running around the yard defeating Ventress and Grievous, and then partying with Ewoks.

Then, hot and tired, I was ready to go inside.  So I said, "Kids, do you want to watch Winter Soldier or . . . check your Kindles?"

Today was the release date for the new Wings of Fire book (whose author Tui Sutherland we met a few weeks ago.)

They ran inside, tripping over each other, and have been silent ever since.


Rainbow Love and Marriage

As you can well imagine, Friday was a wonderful, emotional day of us here in the Hungry household.

And I had barely remembered that the SCOTUS would be handing down their ruling, except I saw something about it that George Takei posted on FB about it.  So I posted on my timeline a letter to SCOTUS asking for them please to give legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states to Mama for her birthday, which was that day.

Less than an hour later, I picked up my phone and saw the NYTimes breaking news alert.

The kids were playing a computer game, when I burst into tears.  Both ran over to see what was the matter.  When I told them, we all hugged.

I called Mama crying; she hadn't heard.  I think she was as surprised as I was.  Truly, I figured the court would vote against it.  I never expected that they would pass it.  Sure, 5-4, but a miss is as good as a mile, my dad says.

I called Gommie and Pop, who I knew were in a media black-out at the bay--they hardly even get signal, much less news (and who would want to, with the burning of 6 black churches and the massacre of 39+ tourists at a beach in beautiful Sousse, Tunisia--I was there in 1990 and am so saddened by the extremism attacking their country.)  They cheered and we all got sniffly and they promised to celebrate.  They are so amazingly supportive of us and have rooted for same-sex marriage and rights all the way.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, and Hannah, for your constant acceptance, love, support, and enthusiasm.  Fly that rainbow flag!

We immediately decided to make another rainbow cake, like we did two years ago on Mama's birthday to celebrate the federal approval of same-sex marriage in states that had legalized it, including our own.  We got cake mix and ice cream at the store, deciding to make it a pineapple upside-down cake, which is one of Mama's favorites.  A rainbow pineapple upside-down cake!

I spent the rest of the day checking FB off and on, sharing everything remotely rainbow:  a cartoon of the lowering of the Confederate battle flag and the raising of the rainbow pride flag; a compilation of photos of all the buildings lit rainbow, including the White House and Disney Castle; a collection of rainbow pride ads; thank-yous to the various plaintiffs; the photo of the running of the interns to take the decision to the waiting media; the LOTR-inspired "I am NO Man" meme of the three female justices; a gathering of FB memes including Obama on a rainbow unicorn; the meme about the battle between Skittles and the Confederate flag; the Star Wars meme about "a million homophobes cried out and were suddenly silenced"; the funny conservatives "moving to Canada" meme (where there has been gay marriage for 10 years!); the SCOTUS decision haiku;  the cartoon of God out of lightening strikes to destroy gays--"All we have in stock are rainbows"; a link to Obama's speech; a link to the full 100+ page decision; a pic of Ben & Jerry's I Dough, I Dough honorary flavor; the "can we just call it 'marriage' now?"; and the exploding FB rainbow computer meme, plus many others.  And yes, I changed my profile picture to a rainbow image of Mama and I where we met.  Yep, I was a part of the social media rainbow.  And the glow is still with me.

When Mama got home, we celebrated both her birthday--with lots of rainbow-wrapped presents--and of course, the ruling with the gay cake (beautiful but not all that tasty; it was a box mix that used egg whites instead of full eggs probably to preserve the color, but it made a tasteless, light cake.)  Lots of hugs, some more tears, and occasional sharing of rainbow FB posts.  I'm not even sure I can articulate most of what I'm feeling and why.  We've been lucky to have this kind of support from our families and community for years; it was great to see it backed up legally and to have gay and lesbian folks receive this legal support for the first time and hopefully their loved ones and families will come around--in fact, the first lesbian I knew and the first woman who kissed me can now marry her longtime girlfriend!

And I'll admit that I was not just a little happy that SCOTUS delivered a kind of "f**k you" to conservative homophobes.  The fact that some will now willingly disregard the ruling (I'm looking at you, Texas Attorney General Paxton) because they don't like it and are sore losers makes me crazy (insert meme comparing Christians who want their brand of religion to be the rule of the US to the Islamic Sate.  Quippy but true.)    But I'm still glad we won.  (It has been a pretty good week for liberals, for a change.)

We're still thrilled, of course (and perhaps a little amazed) and I have been ignoring, for the most part (see previous rant), the negative reactions.  Just basking in the win . . . .

Twenty years to the week after I first met Mama . . . . . Happy Birthday, Mama!!

It just got better!

Summer Fun Update

It's only been a week, but we're off to a good start with our list.  Though, in fairness, we did a few before school was even out.

  1. Party/activity in honor of Aunt Sis
  2. Go swimming at Y with friends
  3. Meet friends at ice rink:  this is actually tomorrow
  4. *Attend town festival in June/volunteer at historic house:  we did this before school was even out!
  5. *Beach trip in city
  6. *Putt-putt golf
  7. *Baseball game
  8. Family book club (we're reading Menagerie and also Redwall)
  9. Eat Dole Whip:  first night of summer, we got Dole Whip and Fluffernutter sundaes!
  10. Make ice cream
  11. Go to outdoor concert
  12. Have a barbecue (after bricking fire pit)
  13. Raise butterflies
  14. Have a lemonade stand (cookies for cancer?)
  15. Picnic:  we had a deli picnic, but I hope to do something more sophisticated soon.
  16. Mario kart-athon
  17. Movie night
  18. Old tv show marathon (ours or theirs)
  19. Watch some movie musicals 
  20. Play in sprinkler:  and used it to make a slippery water slide!
  21. *Go to culture festival (Scottish, Irish, Greek, etc.):  we loved the Greek festival food, as always!  
  22. *Go to Renaissance festival
  23. *Go to zoo
  24. Stargazing at observatory
  25. *Biking
  26. Celebrate 4th of July
  27. Celebrate Solstice:  they stayed up "all night," which was midnight for Sis and about an hour later for Bud.  I even played Mario Kart with them at midnight.
  28. Celebrate Mama's birthday:  a weekend of take-out meals and movies!
  29. Birthday party for kids:  coming soon, Minions movie birthday party.
  30. *Go to nature center
  31. *Go to aquarium
  32. *Go to bird festvial
  33. Try a new craft/art project
  34. Decorate chalkboard for summer:  we started our own mini-drawings of Awesome Summer Things.
  35. Learn to cook weekly dinners
  36. Make ice cube candles
  37. Make soap
  38. Activity kit day
  39. Host a sleepover with friends.  
  40. Learn how to clean bathrooms:  Bud earned a ticket for this already--on his own initiation!
  41. Learn how to work washer/dryer
  42. Make popsicles.
  43. Hang pictures.
  44. Learn an ASL sign a day (or more)
  45. Learn some computer coding using Scratch
  46. Make shrub for 4th of July
  47. Make friendship bread starter and share
  48. Photos with public art around town ("benching," Bud called it)
  49. Make homemade virgin pina coladas
  50. Make blankets for cat shelter

  51. Learn a new game
  52. Learn a new magic/card trick
  53. *Go letterboxing or geocaching locally
  54. Attend friends' Friday Night Dance Party:  for first one, the kids swam and tried "kiddy crack" (butter-cinnamon-sugar spread on graham crackers)
  55. Start afternoon tea party tradition ("Tea Tuesdays")
  56. Explore new music genres together ("Music Mondays"):  we started with the 80s.
  57. Practice making lemon curd and clotted cream
  58. Research places to go in England, etc
  59. Purge and donate toys and books
  60. Pajamas day
  61. No electricity day
  62. Do a 1000 piece puzzle
  63. Kite flying
  64. Wash car
  65. Buy new couches?
  66. Community service project (volunteer with cats?)
  67. Do nothing special

Summer Fun: Bench Buddies

We've started one of our summer projects:  we're visiting all the "seat sculpture" in town and taking pictures.  Here are just a few of the ones we saw yesterday; I believe there are 20 in all.  The fun is figuring out the photo--for the butterfly one, I sat in the middle, like I had wings; for one with a cat and a dog, both kids sat in front to cover up the dog and just show the cat!  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Fun: Invasion of the Ferocious Feline

Watch out, London--both the big Lego Tower Bridge or the 3-D puzzle with plastic monuments (all the pieces were there, Gommie, and Mama says thanks for her birthday present--Albus is on the loose!