wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
So, things:

Got my laptop back from the shop.  It works. Not perfectly, but certainly functional and probably for many years. No thanks to Apple.

I have some crud that really resembles strep throat.* I am self-medicating with homemade remedies and feeling better. J seems to have something similar (he has congestion; I had none. My fever lasted 2 days; his is going on four...), but the doc said J probably has something viral. A pediatrician came to the house today and said the three kids have strep. Didn't do a swab test or send anything to the lab, though.

I am not going to miss Egypt, but here are a few things that I will be sad to have no more of:

- Access to Egypt's mad love affair with all things DELIVERY! Seriously awesome when you are sick and can't muster the energy to cook for the sick family.

- Awesomely exotic blooming trees. (Note to self: take some pics when you feel better)

- The smell of citrus trees in bloom. Heady.

- The network of lovely people we've met here

And now time for bed.  Oh, I'm going to miss that, too. Our mattress here is terrific. Not so the one waiting on us back in France. :P

* I spent almost all day yesterday lying in bed, watching this guy paint with his baby in his arms:

So relaxing. :D
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.


See how narrow our yard is:


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.
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 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


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:

* 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: (art - pondering)
While I predicted this past week would be a wash on the creative front, I secretly hoped it would not be so.  I even took the time before our trip to download a scad of reference photos to my hard drive so I could work on my children's book illustrations.  'Twas not to be, though; I only managed one sketching session with Sprout while Junebug napped on our second to last day.

This is a view of a succession of terraces at our hotel as seen from our terrace.  The perspective was so cool that I started to do a very precise sketch with pencil and then realized I wouldn't have time to finish something accurate and detailed. I defaulted to a charcoal stick. Sadly, I had only my "cheap" sketchbook with me; its smooth paper doesn't have any tooth to hold charcoal so it is very smudgy and loose:

I also planned to make headway on Junebug's sweater but I had to rip out the rows I had on the sleeves (again) and start over because I'm sure they will be too small. I still have hopes of finishing it before May, though. :P

Today I did some doodling* with the kids and broke out the sewing machine to fashion some eyeholes in a sleep mask for Sprout, who wanted to pretend she was a Mousquetaire (Musketeer).
* I set it up as a Double Doodle activity, but Sprout soon started doing her own thing. And of course, give a one-year-old markers and "do your own thing" is the de facto name of the game. :P
wayfaringwordhack: (Sprout: chocolate - animated)

For the second time, I've made a galette des rois (kings' cake) for Epiphany (which is also the Coptic Christmas Eve); acutally I made two.  Last year, my puff pastry puffed only moderately; this year, lots of puff--oh glorious flaky layers!*--but both of the galettes leaked, losing quite a bit of filling. Thankfully, I had put in a lot of frangipane. Another thing for me to be thankful for is that these galettes des rois can be cooked at very high temperatures, seeing as how my oven doesn't like to cook anything under 200 degrees C / 400 F.

galette des rois

Next year will be my year!  But, I just might make another one in a couple of days to see if I can get it right. I want to eat more! I want to make more pretty designs on the top.

We invited some French friends over to enjoy them with us, and their youngest daughter got la fève. I had made a crown for her but forgot to take a picture.  If you go to this Wikipedia page and scroll down to the section about the French king cake, it'll tell you about the tradition.

For this year or next, for my own record, here is a list of sites and videos I used to study the recipe and techniques:

Recette pour pate

Recette technique de la pâte feuilletée par Chef Philippe (video and recipe; butter trick since "beurre de tourage" is not readily availabe to lay bakers: Put softened butter on baking paper or plastic wrap and, using a rolling pin, flatten it into a 20X20 cm square, about 1.5 cm thick.  Put back in fridge to firm up a bit. Basically like this [video doesn't have sound])

Recette façon grand chef : la galette des rois (YouTube video about how to put the galette together and make the frangipane. This link writes out the recipe for the frangipane and provides slightly different instructions than the one I usually use for the puff pastry, adding 100 grams of melted butter to the detrempe. Might make it too rich for J. :P)

Recette Galette des Rois par Arnaud Delmontel (another YouTube video about how to put the galette together)

Pour chiqueter la galette

Some notes:
- Make sure to work the détrempe well so as not to have lumps in it that will cause the dough to crack upon rolling it out (yeah, learned that one the hard way).
- Re frangipane: Equal parts butter/sugar/almond powder didn't work for me. Way too sweet. Scale back on the sugar. Did not use a recipe that called for a thickener like cornstarch and the frangipane was fine. For two cakes, I did 250 each of b/s/ap and four eggs and had plenty left over.
- Do NOT crowd the border with filling; otherwise, a good seal will be impossible.
- Start the pastry the eve (at least) of baking day to save time and headaches. Dough keeps 2-3 days in fridge.
- By following the two-washes-with-egg procedure in the "grand chef" video, my galettes were shiny and did not need to be brushed with syrup. I brushed them anyhow, but maybe it would be better not to to cut back on sweetness


* The angle doesn't do the cakes justice, making them look flatter than they were. :P

wayfaringwordhack: (art: energized)

I did lots and lots on the creativity front this week.  What I did not do was take photos. :P  Actually, I photographed a couple of things, and since this "Snippet" and not "Whole Shebang" Sunday, it'll do.
First off, the annual(ish) urge to rearrange furnishings struck, and we have a new layout for the living room and the kids' playroom, which used to be the formal sitting room:

More stylish before, yes; more functional now. :P

I made time, for the first time in forever it feels like, to set up some art activities for Sprout. It started with her having a leap in skills that was brought to light, I think by my flurry of blind contour sketches.  I drew myself by looking in the mirror and she asked who it was a picture of. I told her it was me; "No," she said; "that's not you. I'll draw you."  She then proceded to draw me a couple of times and then moved on to doing family portraits.  What is exceptional about this is that she did faces complete with all the features in recognizable "formats" position, inside "face" shapes, whereas before, all her representations had pretty much been scribbles.  There was no middle ground that I saw.

Here she is, painting a family of flamingos:

The only photos I took of my artistic efforts are the dinosaurs I did for Sprout:
Close-ups of the dinos )

This coming week, I plan to get back to my oil painting as well as doing a few drawing prompts.  I want to get back into a daily sketching practice, which I think I followed this week.
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Oops! Forgot my other creative endeavor for the week, which was doing a pastel drawing of a pumpkin, following this tutorial.

Since I didn't have a pumpkin of my own, I did a rough copy of hers, but I decided to use oil pastels at first. I have a very limited range of colors and would have preferred to do it a bit differently than it turned out. I wasn't completely satisfied, so I did it again, using chalk pastels as recommended. I have a few more colors, but none like she showed. Still, I like the result better.

pastel pumpkins
wayfaringwordhack: (art - pondering)
Lots of sketching this week. Copying some ideas outright (the horse below, frex), following a tutorial (the mouth), outright doodling, drawing with Sprout (sea creatures); all in all, working with different techniques... Speaking of techniques, when I mentioned gesture drawing last week, I meant "scribbled line gesture drawing" as seen here and in this video.  I can understand why some artists say not to rely on it (encourages messy lines), but I think I'll try it a bit more as a way to get over my brain's perfectionist tendencies.

A sample of what I did:

sketching samples

And I did some blind contour sketches of J, hilariously bad ones.  I'm going to try this exercise at least two or three times this coming week and am posting this week's effort so I'll be able to judge my progress.  I actually like the aborted one that is serving as a new icon.
I promise these look nothing like my husband )
wayfaringwordhack: (writing: paper flames)
I just discovered Anis Mojgani thanks to a link to his spoken poem "Shake the Dust."  And then I came across a commissioned poem he did.

If anything makes me want to start telling stories again, it is this:

"...and you in turn can tell me the shape of your childhood..."
wayfaringwordhack: (N'gouja)
...that I was back to my absenteeism at the end of last week, not commenting on entries or posting a snippet. One reason was that we were having Internet difficulties and didn't get them straightened up until Monday.  The other was that we went out of town for the weekend. If there is anything that I need to be in the know about, please leave me a comment because I don't think I'll make it back through my flist.

I don't have any "late" snippets to post, my previous week being devoid of any creativity besides cooking and packing.

But I will share a bit about our trip.

Pics and things this way )
* I wish they would have played something by Xavier Rudd (link to YouTube video). Every time I listen to Rudd, I am transported to an intimate beach concert, sun setting, fire crackling, cool sand under my feet, waves lapping. And if I'm listening to an album and not just a single song, that beach concert continues, dark deepening while stars whirl overhead and I, by turns, dance or sit clasping my knees to my chest, watching the waves.

** Only J and I got burned; we had enough sense to protect the kids.
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
This week, I did some sewing. J and I made a mosquito net for our bed, using curtains from Ikea. I haven't taken a pic of it, but it is roughly like this.

My second sewing project was a shirt for myself, using this tutorial. It doesn't look perfect, but it looks nice enough that I wore it to a party on Thursday night. Sorry, no pics. Maybe another day.

As for art, I worked on the doodle-scribble thing I mentioned last week, coloring in some of the sections. This playful experiment was inspired by this* and this on Colossal.

I got a piece of 16.5" X 23.4" drawing paper, took a Micron pen in each hand, closed my eyes and rested my forehead on a floor mat and drew, trying to move my hands in a symmetrical manner.


Two things to note: First, which is really highlighted by the coloring-in, my attempt was not very symmetrical at all. :P Sometimes I could feel this, sometimes not. Second, with my eyes closed and hands drawing "above" my head, I really had no idea how big and ample my scribbles were. I thought I was going to run off the page, but the actual drawing is much smaller than the space I had to work with.

I had initially thought to color in all of the sections, but, again, two things to note... :P
First, I was getting a bit bored by the time consuming aspect of it. I found it irksome rather than relaxing, working to get the symmetry right on something asymmetrical, as evinced in my break from accuracy in coloring sections that are not mirror opposites (those long, "wormy" bits to the left of the alternating blue and yellow). Second, I like how my vision of the black lines changes and different shapes and patterns emerge, depending on the angle I take when looking at the doodle; color breaks up that flow. The photo below does not do justice to the effect the eye sees.


* I really wanted to something similar while pregnant with Junebug but never got around to making time and finding big enough paper.
wayfaringwordhack: (web)
Junebug is a little over three weeks old now, and we are slowly but surely working our way into a new rhythm that accommodates the newest* arrival into our family.  The beginning was a little bit rough because he had jaundice, which made him lethargic. He slept too much, didn't eat enough, which made him want to sleep more, and so on and so forth. And I did not know!  I was sure he was sleeping too much, but for once I didn't give in to my paranoia and turn to the Internet to try to find out why.  So, I wasn't aware of the downward spiral he was on until we took him for his 8-day check-up.  Thankfully, waking him to breast feed at regular intervals and giving him daily stints in the sunshine helped get him back on track. It was rough going for a while because we had to set alarms throughout the night to wake him and make him eat.**  He is waking on his own now, and that is a lot more restful for this momma's mind and body.

To make things more interesting, J got the flu and was out of commission for a little while. On the upside, Sprout only had a brief "ill spell" with a couple of days of fever, and I got a minor achy throat, followed by a cough and phlegmy chest. Nothing too bad. Junebug, however, seemed to get the worst of it in that he is pretty stopped up and it has lasted more than a week.  The poor guy really doesn't appreciate having his sinuses rinsed, but that is the only thing to do at this point, says his pediatrician.

Sprout loves her baby brother and has a plethora of nicknames for him that she came up with herself, among them Juney, June Buggy, Juicy, JB... It isn't all roses and pet names, though.  Her shapeshifting (now more identity shifting) includes being Junebug, an obvious desire for more attention.

And because I did say this was a hodgepodge post, please read this entry by [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume and sign the mentioned petition if you feel so inclined.

Speaking of news and true reporting, this weekend promises to be exciting in terms of protests.  Expats are being advised to limit their movements and stay at home if possible so as not to be caught in riots, etc.  Looks like the upcoming elections are going to bring a return of "excitement" to our lives. ::sigh::
* newest and last, I want to write, but Sprout informed me that we are not yet finished making babies because we failed to deliver the asked for sister. :P Not that my 3 year old gets the last word on this topic.

** Despite these problems, Junebug is nowhere near being labeled as failing to thrive, like Sprout was. Breast feeding is going much more smoothly this time, and he is quite the chubby baby.
wayfaringwordhack: (art journal)
I haven't forgotten Snippet Sunday the past two weeks; I just haven't felt like updating. :P I've been busy, as you can imagine, with the countdown really counting down (today we are 39w1d), and I've had my nose to the grindstone fingers to the crochet hook and sewing machine.

I've crocheted two lambs, using this pattern, one for Junebug and one for Sprout, who declared she definitely needed one, too. In fact, I think *I* need one, and in my downtime (cue hysterical laughing), one of these days, I'm going to crochet the ram model for myself using a lot of different colors (probably the leftovers from my hexagon blanket) and he shall be christened Rainbow Ram.

Junebug's lamb is the cream-colored one and the white is Sprout's, same pattern, same size hook, different types of yarn.

lambsJunebug's lambIMG_9795

I also crocheted a border on a fleece blanket, made a jersey knit newborn cap, a cloth diaper (actually more like quick-remove underwear since the point is more warmth and protection for Junebug and not wetness-proofing) converted a tank top into a nursing top, and took in the elastic on my pj pants for after the birth.

In other prep news, I packed the bags for the clinic, washed all the coverings for the car seat and bassinet, made some high-protein snacks (might help with nausea) for the labor, and helped J rearrange the kids' room. Junebug won't move into the room with Sprout until after this summer, but we are going to use a Montessori bed and wanted the space ready because we hope to have the baby nap in there from the start. On Friday, but especially Saturday, I was afraid I had brought about Junebug's "early" arrival by a (unfruitful) shopping trip to IKEA. Almost everything on our to-get list was out-of-stock.  The twinges have subsided, though, leaving me hopeful that Junebug will hang in there a few more days. I'd like to sew Sprout a dress and make a nursing top...
wayfaringwordhack: (art: palmier)
Finished! Um, except for weaving in all the loose ends* (boy, are there a lot of them!) and blocking it, which you'll see the need for in the photos below, but still FINISHED!

"Before" pictures in last week's snippet entry, for those who want to compare.

Pics and story this way )
wayfaringwordhack: (wayfaring wordhack)
[livejournal.com profile] vanatoomas told me that she needs color during this season. I had hoped to go out and take some photographs of Cairo's colorful side, but honestly, with the holidays, all my crafting and sewing projects, and the coming baby, I know that isn't going to happen soon.  So, in lieu of personal content, I give you this link to temari balls, spheres embroidered from threads of old kimonos.

(image via Colossal)
Lots more images here.
wayfaringwordhack: (writing: paper flames)
I highly recommend this post by [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume: An Hour with Junot Diaz.

I'm still thinking over some of the stuff she quotes.
wayfaringwordhack: (art: palmier)
The day [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume posted about someone's flub with a paper shredder, I came across this post about an artist who makes portraits from strips of paper. If you click the link, you'll see other portraits with some close-ups.

Pretty nifty, eh?

(image via Colossal)

And it has fine-tuned an idea I have for a little something I want to make for someone. :D
wayfaringwordhack: (soaring hopes)
That is the hope for the teachers who are making their needs known to better help their students at DonorsChoose.org

[livejournal.com profile] asakiyume brought the organization to my attention when she shared a link to a video talking about the joy new books can bring to kids. Check out the video.

Maybe a project will speak to you and you can help kids have a bright today for a brighter tomorrow.


wayfaringwordhack: (Default)

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