wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: !!!)
As you can guess from the subject line, Sprout is still crazy in love with dinosaurs (at this time in her young life she says she'll be a paleontologist when she grows up), so dinosaur fun it was.

A peek at the preparations and some party photos.

I made my first ever pinata, a triceratops that I failed to get a picture of before it was smashed to pieces. Huge Fail. Especially since it was finished days before the party. Have some production shots:



My mil tactfully said, "That's not a dinosaur. It's a rhinoceros." And then wisely--since she'll be the first to tell you she isn't really "up" on her animals, much less dinosaurs--added, "Or maybe not." LOL

OK, I lied. I pulled a stillshot of the finished pinata from the video of the kids smashing it, but it was filmed at night and doesn't do it justice. If I do say so myself.


Out of salt dough, I made four dinosaur skeletons, one for each team of mini paleontologists to race to assemble. Here is part of the pterandon, drying:


Each dino had 45-50 "bones"  and measured one meter long. That's a lot of salt dough. I assembled and photographed them so the kids would have a "cheat sheet."  I had to use it myself to double-check the spinosaurus.


I would have loved to have the kids excavate the "fossils" and then put them together, but a) we don't have the room in our yard, and b) I didn't think the fossils would survive that. :P

Since this wasn't a surprise party, Sprout and Junebug got in on the decorations:


I got the idea for this cool banner off Pinterest:


Instead of cutting out each letter, I drafted the whole on three large sheets of paper, which I taped together.

I made dino eggs out of salt dough and coffee grounds with a small (not as little as I wanted, actually) dinosaur figurine inside. I was going to make one for each kid, but Egypt is not the US where one can find any little trinket one wants, not even in the Egyptian Toys-R-Us. So the eggs, which looked very much like rocks, doubled as decor, holding up an ostrich egg as a centerpiece. You can barely see them in the photo above, but I'll post another. There where just enough eggs that I could give them out to the members of the winning team in the Great Dino Games. But we played those after snacks, which were:

Herbivore Munchies, Cretaceaous Chips, (GF) Carnivore Chicken Bites, (GF) Pterosaur Tuna, Dino Tails (baby corn), dinosaur eggs, dino DNA, Fruitivore salad, Marshosaurus Molars (large and small marshmallows; I was pretty chuffed to find a dinosaur called Marshosaurus); dinosaur fossils (huge pain in the butt; will never make again), dino print cookies, and prehistoric popcorn.



I jazzed up some free food tent printouts with free clipart.

After snacks, the kids divided up into their herds: Triceratops, Stegosauruses, Spinosauruses, and Pteranodons.

Then they played Dino Stomp, which consisted of a timed race to pop all the balloons tied to J's ankles and wrists while he did his best to escape them. Next was Pterosaur fishing, at which the Pteranodon team exceled, clenching their victory of the games since they were able to catch the "special" fish, worth ten points. :P Then came the fossil puzzles, and finally the naked egg spoon race. That didn't last long, as you can imagine with small children, but it was OK because it was getting late and time for cake.



pinata.jpg

See how narrow our yard is:

pinata.jpg

I was all over the place with the party and didn't take any of the photos. So my absolute biggest fail was not getting a photo of the cake. It was a volcano, four layers high to get the cone shape. It had both chocolate and red velvet layers and was covered in icing, then ganache, and drizzled with red and yellow icing to simulate lava flows. It was a pinata cake; the top three layers were hollowed out to make the volcano chimney and filled with candy. It had fake palm trees and sparklers, and it was pretty awesome, even if prior to being decorated it it looked like a steaming pile of dino poo. LOL

Again I tried to pull photos from the video, but yeah...just not the same.



Happy Birthday, Sprout.
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wayfaringwordhack: (hellville)
A propos of my last post, here is a video via [livejournal.com profile] frigg that shows a glimpse of a campaign to educate people here about sexual harassment:

wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Or shall we just call it, "The State of Things." Forgive me, LJ, for it has been awhile since my last post.

_________
I've never tried to put a cut under a cut, so be warned that when I say something vile happened, there should be an additional cut there to keep it out of public view unless you want to read it. If there is not a cut, don't read on, there's nothing more to see. :)
________

In which you can read about the State of Things )Vile Thing )

Anyhow. Did not mean to end on a tirade.SaveSaveSaveSave
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
I'm an American citizen, who lives overseas, and I do not follow the news or the election hullabaloo. Still, I hear plenty about it.  Enough to scare me about the future of the US presidency more than just about any other time since I've been old enough to vote.  So, I got online and figured out how to vote from overseas.

I received my electronic ballot today and then spent a goodly amount of time at http://www.isidewith.com/ to see with which candidate I align the most. If you are feeling over- or underwhelmed by the two leading names/parties, I urge you to check it out and consider voting for someone other than the usual suspects. Check it out anyhow; you might surprise yourself.

Enough voices make a difference.

For the first time I feel at peace about this election. My candidate might not win, but I did not sit by and just let whoever into office, not out of idleness or some fatalistic view of Oh-Well-the-Big-Parties-Always-Win-Anyhow.  But they will, of course, if enough people just go with what's familiar...

As much as that sounds like I'm implying someone is wrong to vote for a major party, that is not my intention at all.  I hope only to encourage people to examine what they really think and believe in.
wayfaringwordhack: (Egypt: Sphinx)
*cue Europe's song* (Oh 80's, what hilarious fashion you witnessed!)

In one year, we will be returning to Europe. This time, excepting any strange and totally unpredictable happening, we'll really be going back to France on 31 July 2017, give or take a day.

This coming year is going to zoom by. O.O

And these wee ones won't be so wee in another year's time.


Ti'Loup will probably even be walking by then, or swimming :P
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
I fully intended to post a snippet on Sunday; I had photos taken and everything.  But then Junebug got sick (fever and vomiting), and all plans went out the window. He got better yesterday, but we had a guest over for dinner, which took up my time. (And now I just got back from cleaning up after Sprout, who is suddenly sick. :( )

So, quickly then, I finally decided on what kind of style I want to use for the illustrations, so I played around a bit with different media.  One experiment was doing suminagashi with materials on hand a cheap paper, so not the most stunning results:



The super bright spot on the right is a sun dapple. :P

Then I practiced drawing rats and did more sketches in the two poses I'll need in the book:




For fun, I did some symmetrical drawings, using both my right and left hands simultaneously.


No snippet next week because we are taking a trip to the Red Sea. 
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
I worked quite a bit on sketching this week, but I could have concentrated more than I did on the illustrations for my picture book.  I did 18 doodles and only filled one page of my (admittedly large) project sketchbook. I finished the hedgehog, too.  My take-away lesson from the hedgehog is: Planning is important. If I don't plan something, I shouldn't be disappointed or discouraged if the back- and foreground are not integrated.  So, even if I'm doing something to horse around, I might want to think it through a bit more.

Some visuals of this week's work )
This week's goal is to concentrate on the picture book illustrations and do a doodle a day.
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
I didn't post earlier due to a crazy busy social calender. I swear we've had more visits and outings since Ti'Loup was born than in all the years prior. This is what comes of getting to know people in real life, apparently. :P

This was a pretty busy creative week for me.  I started a Doodle Book, different from a sketchbook in terminoloy only. The point is to doodle with purpose (and from real life), and by calling the work doodles instead of sketches, the pressure of creating something "nice" and "worthy" is relieved.  I got the idea off YouTube. It seems to be working well for me. The only thing is that I haven't worked in my picture-book-dedicated sketchbook in probably more than a week. I need to get back to that.

I also did some pencil reference sheets, meant to help me get a better handle on the brands and types of pencils I have.

And because I had fun experimenting with ink last week, this week I continued that by starting on a hedgehog:



I might forget to check this, so perhaps there is no point in posting a goal here, but in hopes of making more progress on my project, I'm going to declare that by next week, I will have finished this hedgehog and made at least 10 doodles and 10 project-relevant sketches.  There.  I've typed it up. Now I must come through. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Junebug loves to watch this video A Wolf in Ink and regularly asks for it. It is fascinating to see the wolf appear as the ink travels through the water.  So, inspired by MaryDoodles, I decided to play with my acrylic inks (and a new waterproof black ink) this week and did two little critter portraits:

First I did an owl. I wasn't really planning to do a scene, just put the water down on paper, so the composition is a bit weird. I decided to experiment further with more color and some colored pencil details.  Important thing I learned: When doing a "real" illustration with this technique, take the time to stretch and tape down paper. It was a pain (and sad) to see some nice effects ruined by buckling paper. :(



As Junebug says, "This is a fox":

Lesson learned from fox: That waterproof ink really is waterproof. Once you put it down, it isn't coming off again.

I also did a few sketches of animals for my picture book.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
I forgot to take pictures of this week's creative endeavors,* but I remembered to take one of Ti'Loup's quilt. (fresh out of the washing machine; should have ironed it for the photo. :P )  And because [livejournal.com profile] frigg made me laugh with a comment the other day to the effect of "In my mind, your craft room is a pristine space," you also get a bonus of the reality that is my atelier. I did spare you the mess that is the children's side. In fact, their workspaces so are overflowing with their stuff that they always come to my tables... o.O In fact, I had just cleaned the table on the left to install the new tablecloth and the stuff you see there is Junebug's and Sprout's paintings in progress.

So, the blanket:





Mess:



_______________
* I did some colored pencil sketches of fruits and plants, and two watercolor "exercises". One was an attempt (following a tutorial) of painting mixed media abstract flowers. I kind of failed on the abstract part. I think I'll take another stab at it is this week. I also did a painting of a leaf as an exercise in mixing colors. While I'm not happy about how my leaf turned out, I did succeed in mixing up the colors I wanted, using those handy watercolor mixing charts I made a while back, which you can see hanging on the left-hand wall in the photo above.  Junebug joined in every now and then, but Sprout did both exercises with me, and we had a lot of fun talking color together. It was neat to hear her repeating Quinacridone Magenta and Burnt Sienna to herself. It is amazing to watch a kid making knowledge her own.
wayfaringwordhack: (critters: Maki World Domination)
When you ask the parents of a newborn if you can come by and meet the baby, please, come by and meet the baby.

Because even if I don't clean my house from top to bottom, I do make an effort to tidy it for you.

I do either bake something or go buy something to make sure I don't welcome you empty-handed.

And you know what else? I miss out on my nap.

I am tired and I have hormone things going on as I recover from 9 months of pregnancy and the whole rollercoaster of giving birth.  So maybe I'm a little bit sensitive here. But seriously. If you say you are coming:  Come.

(Twice now, we've had no shows. Once, the people just seemingly forgot.  The second time, the couple did call to cancel 30 min before they were supposed to show.)
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
Just a quick word to say I've started sketching again on my picture book. No photo because it is 3 minutes to 9, and I don't want to turn into a pumpkin...or something.  I have to hit the sack.

What creative things have you been up to?
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: my loves)
Both Junebug and Sprout are pleased with their brother, wanting to hold and caress him at every opportunity. They are both really gentle with him.

And snuggled around the cute babyness, you can see the blanket I made. I'll try to get around to taking a photo of it laid flat.

Baby pics )
I don't know if anyone remembers, but before Sprout was born, we referred to her as "Little Bean." Since "coquille" implies the outer shell to hold something, now that our little one has emerged, I'm going to start calling him Ti'Loup* here, which means "Little Wolf." Just because.

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* "Ti" as in petit, pronounced "tee", and the P in loup is silent: tee-lou. If we would have gone with a different first name, we were considering Loup for a middle name.
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: sunflower)
The thought that perhaps went through the gardener's* head before he ripped up our corn seedlings:

"Egads! What are these tall, healthy-looking plants surrounded by bare earth?  They must be an invavise species, intent on destroying all other plantlife! I must pull them up posthaste!!!'

And that was the end of our corn.  And also of a self-sown melon plant.

Ah well, we'll try again, this time putting stakes and other types of protection/markers to indicate that these plants should really be allowed to live.

Our idea of direct sowing into the lasagna bed  (a bed made up of layers unripe compost and dry vegetal matter, topped with soil) did not work.  One is supposed to transplant into the bed, but because we had nothing to transplant we tried seeds.  No luck. We'll plant flowers and things from the nursery for now and maybe add in seedlings as we have them (if we do) for this year.  The bed needs to be planted and mulched so the layers don't collapse.

We have a lot to learn.

______________
* It might have been the gardener or one of the two garbage collectors that our landlady sometimes pays to clean up around the front of the building.
wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)

I guess I can close the link on what to do if birthing one's baby happens unexpectedly at home or in the car. :P

I started having contractions on Thursday afternoon, after a busy couple of hours on my feet. But they were nothing to call the doctor about, coming, as they were, at least 30 min apart and very manageable on the pain level. At two minutes to midnight, a more serious bout of them woke me, keeping me from from dozing off until 6 a.m., after which point they went back to every 30 minutes or so, allowing me to sleep 20 min at a time until 9 a.m.

At a little past 2 p.m., the contractions started coming quicker, if not harder, so my doc suggested going to the hospital to be checked out by the doctor on-call. We arrived at there at 4, with Sprout in tow, leaving Junebug in the care of our housekeeper.

Two hours later, after another swift and hard dilation,* I barely made it into the pool, as my doctor barely made it back from Alexandria to assist in the birth, in time to deliver our son. Sprout was so proud to be part of it and see her new baby brother come into the world.

So Boaz Kaelig** Faure, came to us as befits his name (Boaz = quickness, swiftness; Kaelig = Generous lord). He weighed 3.485 kgs (7.68 lbs) and measured 52cm (20 inches).

I was released from the hospital at midnight and should be in bed, but the adrenline is stll running high. Still, better try to sleep some more. I need it. :P

____________

* Similar to Sprout's arrival in the world, only with much less vomiting.
** Briton/Celtic name prounced "Kay-lig", "lig" rhyming with fig. I wonder, since part of the name is French and Boaz is easy to pronounce, if my mother-in-law will approve. Or will she declare that we gave this baby a "weird name," which is her verdict for her other two grandchildren. :P

wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)
This morning, Sprout and Junebug donned J's and my clothes so they could be the parents.  Sprout informed me that our housekeeper would be keeping us "children" while she and Papa went to the Opera.

She and Junebug went into the yard and were sitting on the steps:

Junebug sings "Who Let the Dogs Out!" *
Sprout: That is not what you listen to at the opera!

Sprout begins to hum a La, la, la, lilting tune, and Junebug insists on repeating, louder, Who let the dogs out!!!!

Sprout: No, no, no. That is not opera music.

:P

______________
* Junebug's interest in (and knowledge of the existence of this song) is thanks to his father who heard it over 15 years ago during his first visit to the States to meet my family. He never heard it again. Talk about a good memory for earworms. If only he remembered other things as well as he remembers music. ;)

Junebug sings this a. lot. A couple of weekends ago, we were on a family retreat, and at 1:30 a.m., Junebug woke up crying.  Both J and I tried to comfort him, to no avail. Finally, he began to quiet down, and we heard a dog bark outside. He happily sang, "Who let the dogs out" and fell back asleep shortly after. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
I think I'll have time for just one more project before Coquille is born (we're 37wk3d), so I've chosen to do a summer quilt. A friend is borrowing my sewing machine, but she brought it over yesterday so that I could sew my layers together.

I'm using an old sheet and two pieces of unbleached cotton for it. I have a box of embroidery floss full of floss that I got when I learned to embroidery back when I was 11 or 12.  I think it is time I put it to good use. :P

This quilt is my inspiration (the photo I once saw--and pinned--doesn't go to the homeware site where the quilt was for sale, so I can't link to the proper source).

Anyhow, wanting to use things I had on hand, I have a different and wider color selection, my hope being that I won't run out of any one color, because trying to match skeins I've had for more than 25 years and in another country?  No, thanks.

So this is what I'm working with:


I'm just a couple of inches away from finishing the blanket stitch on the third side. Next will come those runnng stitches. The blanket stitch has been so relaxing to do, and I'm sure the easy monotony of the running stitch will lend itself to the same meditative mood. Just what I need. I'm glad I decided to do this. :D

Snippet

2 May 2016 05:42 pm
wayfaringwordhack: (art: energized)
We were at a family retreat this weekend, and I didn't feel like posting when we got home yesterday.

My project this week was crocheting a lamb for a friend's newborn. I used the same pattern as for Coquille's lamb, but from the below photos, you can see how differently they turned out in terms of size and color and overall personality.* Coquille's lamb is the one with the brown legs and face:

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* For the arms and legs, the difference is easily explainable: I just made them as long as I felt like and didn't have the two to compare.
wayfaringwordhack: (Junebug: Diggin' life)
The other day, Sprout and I set up a crystal growing experiment.* After the water evaporated from a shallow dish with Epsom salts, we observed the bits of string, wood, rock, cement, etc. to see which materials the crystals grew on the best.

Sprout: The crystals didn't like this metallic pipe cleaner.
Me: Yeah, they seem to prefer natural materials over synthetic ones, man-made things.
Sprout: Human-made, Mom. You don't know if a man or a woman made them.

Right you are, Sprout. :P

_______
We set up three different solutions: 1) Borax 2) Epsom salts, and 3) Borax and Epsom salts.  Both 1 and 2 grew crystals, but the mix of Borax and Epsom salt, tested both hot and cold, didn't "grow" anything and nothing has formed upon evaporation.
wayfaringwordhack: (flora: passionfruit)
Not very well if it's not planted, that is for sure.

We had actually started planting back in, um, February, I think, but it was a bit here and there as we tried to build up enough compost to do a "lasagna bed."  Given that we don't receive much sunlight in our garden, our first efforts have left us a bit ho-hum and unmotivated.  But after I read [livejournal.com profile] barbarienne's post about what all she has been doing in the garden, I decided it was time we got serious.

So, we've bought planting soil to finish off the bed and we put in lots of seeds (even though I think you are supposed to use seedlings/transplants:

marigolds
3 types of radishes
beets
Russian kale (we prefer Tuscan but don't have any more seeds. I have some growing already and plan to let at least one plant bolt)
chives
basil
lemon balm
dill
okra
bell peppers
tomatillos

We also planted 3 pots of tomatoes, 2 of tomatillos, and 1 of basil to grow on the front balcony, and 8 pots of okra to transplant out front once they are big enough not to be mistaken for weeds by the gardener who sees to the communal area in front of our flat.

I didn't have a great success rate with corn and a zero success rate with jalapeños and chilis at our other place, so I'm going to germinate the corn first and use improvised seed trays for peppers tomorrow.

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