Wednesday, June 30, 2010

red fish blue fish

Back in the mid-1800's fisherman in Japan used Gyotaku to record their catches. I love idea of a functional need filled by an artistic end. We haven't caught anything from the murky waters of the marina, despite my little guy's best efforts, but the desire to ink up some sea critters is still there. So we got some rubber fish from Acorn Naturalists and made a big mess.
We scrounged up some old piece of plexiglass from around the marina to spread the ink on with a brayer. (My big mistake was using block printing ink when in the end we went crazy and started printing on cut up pieces of old bed sheets {also found in the marina. Our own personal flea market!} We should have used fabric ink. Whoops.)
We did it the way I am told the Japanese did it way back when, which is to apply the ink right on to the fish. You want to make sure you get all of the nooks and crannies. (You don't have to use a brayer, you can use a brush too.)
The we just pressed the little guy right on the paper or fabric, again making sure to apply pressure on all of his fins and such to get the whole fish printed.
Now we have a school of fish! The paper we'll save for wrapping.
The fabric (with the wrong ink on it) would make cute little flags or pillows or even a t-shirt. We'll have to try again with the proper fabric ink and take it to the next step by planning a project with the finished fish. Right now we just have little have schools of red and blue fish swimming randomly around the boat.
If any has done this before and has any more tips - pass them on in the comments.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

preserving prints

It seems every season brings a way to track and study our local critters. Back in the winter we loved seeing the tracks in the snow each morning. Last fall we took advantage of the wind blown low tides to track racoons. And now in summer all of our time out in the sand is revealing more clues to our local wildlife. Zach is loving the opportunities to cast more tracks in plaster. Here's what you need to try this as well.
Some standard plaster of paris mix you can pick up at the craft store. You end up going through it faster than you'd think, so get a good size container of it. Then you need a measuring cup to get your proportions right (1 part plaster to 1/2 part water). And old jar to mix your plaster in (sometimes it hardens up in the bottom, so don't use anything you care about or may want to use again). And something to stir with. Finally you need a frame to pour your plaster in. We often use a half of a pastic cup plucked from the marina recycling bins. You can build a little frame around your print with sticks and stones too. Just make sure whatever you use is buried down in the sand or dirt deep enough to prevent this from happening.
It will seep out the sides and not only make a mess, but also more than likely mess up your cast. This was a deer track that ended up being a blob because we didn't bury the frame deep enough. Lesson learned.
Once your track is framed up, just pour in your mix.
And then wait. Your mix should tell you how long to wait, but you want it to be thoroughly dry and hardened, so a minimum of about an hour is good, depending on the weather.
Pop it out, brush off the excess sand or dirt, and voila!

These sweet little bird tracks are on our summer nature table now. Zach now has a list of the tracks he's after for the season including a better deer track and a huge Great Blue Heron track too. My idea is to cast one HIS little tracks.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

sun block

The beauty of the design of our catamran is the wrap around windows in the salon. We have fabulous natural lighting and fantastic visitbility. But in the heat of summer these windows, like all windows, are one big heat radiator. You can literally feel the waves of hot coming off of them while our air conditioning struggles to keep up. Many modern cats have textilene shades built to snap on the outside. They allow visibility while blocking out much of the UV. We may yet do that one day, but it's a fairly decent cost for all of the windows, so it's not high on "the list".

This year I seem to be especially sensitive to it, probably because I have my own personal radiator strapped to my belly. So in a spontaneous fit to block some sun, I did this.
Yes, those are my son's beloved playsilks playing the role of psychadellic curtain. I just took some suction cups and stuck them along the top, while tucking in the bottoms behind the toys.
They seem to be doing the trick. The silks let in enough light so we're not living in a cave, but block out the direct heat. In the past we've taken quilting sqaures from the bargain bin at the fabric store and laid them in the hatches between the screen and the hatch. Those REALLY do the trick, but they also let in almost no light at all, which in the bedroom and other places is actually ok.  But here in our main living/ playing/ eating/ everything space we need to have some light.
At night I just unhook them from the suction cups and tuck them in behind the toys. It'll be interesting to see if they color fade after a few weeks. If they do, it'll be a good excuse to make some more.  ;)
Any other ideas out there for beating the heat?

Friday, June 25, 2010

~this moment~ beat the heat

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama

Thursday, June 24, 2010

and... action!

I guess the only part of the phone call I was really paying attention to was the "and we'll cook you dinner," part. I am a sucker for free food that I don't have to prepare. The whole "And by the way we'll be taping a cooking show on your boat and oh yeah since you are in the biz can you help with the show," part slipped right past my pregnant brain.

Our crazy Romanian friends have a brother who is a well known chef back in Romania. He has a cool looking medieval themed restaurant and his own TV show on Romanian national television. So having visited with us before, he decided it would be cool to tape an episode of his cooking show on our boat. Except his crew is still back in Romania. It was just him, some gear, and loads of fabulous fresh ingredients. Guess who got to play director/ producer/ AND camera man? Of course, minus the camera man bit, this is what I did for a living pre-Zach. So that was no problem. The problem was Chef Gigi wanting to cook on the grill outside and tape the whole show outside... on a 100 degree day. Like my feet weren't swollen enough already?
All in all, Gigi was a pleasure to work with. He was a total pro, he went fast, and the food was out of this world! He made it all look so easy. And it was OH SO DELICIOUS!
(Fresh local-ish scallops. Tuna steaks cooked on the grill along with some kind of fabulous cheese also grilled. And a tomato/ bell pepper/ fresh mozzarella salad. The details of what went into each dish were a little lost on me as he was speaking in Romanian. Yes I was taping the whole thing, but I wasn't concentrating on the ingredients so much as the shots. Whatever it was, it was GOOD!)
Supposedly we are going to get a link to the finished show (which includes a cameo by our family even though I protested seeing as I was out sweating with the camera work all afternoon). So stay tuned. Or, if you happen to be in Romania, I think you may be able to tune in this Sunday...?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

party favor

Alright, indulge me in one more wee birthday post here. Since I am fairly craft impaired, I wanted to share a triumph in an epic battle between the sewing machine and me. I wanted to sew little flannel bags to put some goodies in for the three friends (plus siblings) that Zach invited to his camp out celebration. This would take a normal person probably no more than a hour to accomplish. It took me several days. And several colorfully worded exchanges with this machine that I am sure was laughing at me as it tangled and unthreaded and jammed. Zach would engage in something else while I sewed and stop by every now and again, look at me and say, "Mama, you seem frustrated. Take a deep breath, it seems like you could use some cuddles." Damn him for learning what I have tried to teach him rather than letting me toss the blasted machine overboard.

But here they are, the little flannel baggies. The stitiches have a dunken swagger to them and I wouldn't be surprised if they dissolved not long after going home with the kids, but they did the trick. I used some red ribbon to secure them and wood burned the kids names on wood chip tags (from Narural Earth Farm on etsy).
(Yes, you read it right. Gauthier. They're French.)

Inside were agate slices and these cool, hand carved compass/ whistle combos (also from etsy at Steam Bent Canes, a find borrowed from MamaRoots).
And then some stickers Zach made with his beloved sticker machine using pictures from an old nature book we found at GoodWill. Finally we used a few more of the illustrations from the nature book to create these little blank books for the kids.
The idea and excellent tutorial (if I can do it, you know she explained it well) came from Nicola at Which Name.  Basically, we used blank paper inside of old paper bags and stitched on (with the wiley sewing machine again) the pictures, then stitched together the book. Voila!
We actually DID spend a day making the rounds between the Dollar Store and Target and Joanne's and Michael's searching for something to give out as party favors (which begs the question, do parties really need favors? But that's a whole different discussion). But both Zach and I could not stomach shelling out cash for plastic trinkets. "That seems junky," he'd say. And he was right. It was so much more satisfying and dare I say fun despite wanting to harm the sewing machine, to come up with our own ideas and spend the time crafting them together. That was the best party favor for this mama, creative time with my boy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Birthday Boy ~part 2

Last year Zach requested a birthday camping trip. And we obliged. It was half adventure and half disaster. Despite it all, this year he wanted to camp again. And I thought we could pull it off, until I decided that hiking and sleeping on the ground is just not going to work at 27 weeks pregnant in the high heat and humidity. So we came up with a middle ground, a "back yard" camp out style get together with his three best friends (and their gaggle of siblings).

~One borrowed fire pit
~Lots of firewood from the local woods and a resourceful neighbor (did you know you can't buy firewood in June? At least not around here.)
~A pile of roasting sticks (also from our romp in the woods last week) pre-sharpened and wood burned with names (real and silly)
~Hot dogs for said sticks (cook it yourself is just my style of entertaining!)

~One tent with loads of quilts
~Queen Ann's Lace & pine cones (both also from the woods) in jars pulled from the marina recycling bin
~Burlap sack table cloths from our local coffee shop dumpster
~Trail mix
~Loads of marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers
~A pile of flashlights and glowsticks
~Mason jar lanterns, twinkly lights in the trees
~And a pack of glowing giggling kids, high on marshmallows, running madly in the perfect midsummer's night weather.

~A very happy birthday indeed...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Boy ~ part 1

Through the past 6 years we have taken a test drive with all kinds of birthday celebrations to see what feels right. We tried the big (big for us anyhow) parties where mom stresses out making food and merryment for all. We tried going out to celebrate. We've been to parties where Z comes home overwhelmed and over stimulated. And I think - I *think* - we've finally found some kind of birthday groove now.
First we celebrate with just the family. For us, that's just the 3 of us since the extended family is far, far away. A special mama made breakfast. A few gifts.
(Cuddling his new cheetahs. The boy is obsessed with cheetahs lately, not sure why? These beauties are from Jalu Toys.)

(His birthday wish was to "be able to play with electricity". Rather than a toaster and a fork, we got him some simple electrionic kits, including this one where he connects a small solar cell to a spinning motor and can attach things on top like this reflective disc. Hours of fun!)

Spending the day doing whatever random, silly, fun things my boy feels like doing (including several milkshake runs). And of course blowing out the candles on his birthday ring over and over and over...
It gives the mama time to reflect and get mushy and soak in her boy, almost as if I am physically watching him grow like on of those cheap toys you throw in water and they expand before your eyes. I marvel at his long legs, his sharp wit, his easygoing nature, his little boy peach fuzz on his olive skin, his constant questions and observations on the world. And I spend the day kissing and hugging and holding him just like we did on that very first day.

Tomorrow I'll share our little campfire get together with his friends... in the mean time I am still cleaning roasted marshmallow out of my hair and his clothes and the curtains and the flashlights and... oh my how that stuff spreads!

Friday, June 18, 2010

~this moment~ 6 years ago today

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama

Happy Birthday to my sweet, sweet boy!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

the party store

It looks like an innocent walk in the woods, but it's actually a birthday celebration supply gathering expedition. No waiting in line and you can't beat the prices.
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