On Thursday, the boys made Welcome Home signs for our newest little friend, Baby Davy. Simon’s picture was of Jake (on the left/bottom), Baby Davy (in the middle), and Joie (on the right) dressed as “injas” [ninjas], hiding under a giant tree.
I snapped this shot as he was almost finished. He added a few more details and signed his name, and then I took the dictation of what he wanted the sign to say: “Welcome home, Jake and Joie, and especially welcome home, Baby Davy.” (Ian’s sign, which you can see a corner of at the top of this photo, had a similar theme—he loves to be like his big brother—and said, “Welcome home, Baby Davy. Happy having a new baby.” I’m not sure what all ended up in his final draft, but in one version he was drawing multiple circles, and when I asked him what they were, he gleefully explained, “I’m making Baby Davys!”)
What I found incredibly interesting—besides the fact that drawing a family of ninjas seems like such a quintessentially “boy” thing to do—was that Simon didn’t paint the ninjas from the start. He first painted the people as he normally would (stick figures with giant heads) and then added the ninja costumes later: “Okay, now I have to camouflage Joie.” “Why?” “Remember? They are ninjas!” I love his four-year-old logic.
In other news, I have been quilting again. My friend Kerri came over the other morning to talk quilting, and I have been rather obsessively reading about quilts (specifically about modern quilts), thinking about quilts, and, yes, even working on a quilt ever since.
I started this one almost eight years ago, shortly after Jason and I got engaged. The goal, of course, was for it to be done by our wedding. And, yeah, so seven + years later, it’s not done. And, actually, I am kind of glad because I am going to change it up and make it truly unique. I suppose it might be more dramatic to blog about it when it is all finished, but, let’s face it, even though I’m on the quilting kick now, it still might not get done (not trying to be pessimistic, just sayin’), and then even if I do actually finish it, who knows when/if I’ll get around to blogging about it. So I’m doing it now while it’s on my mind.
Someday I will tell the story of how my friend Erin and her mom, Judy, taught me to quilt. It’s definitely been a stable interest/desire of mine to keep quilting, but I generally lack time and gumption to actually do, rather than just dream. Also, I love to start projects; this is a well-known fact about me. Following through is harder.
So this particular quilt, my unfinished wedding quilt, was intended to be a Double Irish Chain. I have all the blocks made (81 of them, in fact), and all that was really left was to sew them together to create the top. But as I’ve been inspired by more modern quilts, I started thinking about how I could make these traditional blocks into something a little more reflective of my current tastes. I also wanted to come up with something that had meaning for our family, something that was unique to us. The result ended up being a collaboration with Jason, which in itself adds meaning. We played with a couple of different layouts, but this was the one that I was most pleased with.
The two crosses at the top represent Jason and me, and the three across the lower half represent the kids. I really like all the negative space, but, good grief, quilting math is hard, and I won’t be sure I got it all right until I sew it all up. I’ll also need to add a border (or three) of the neutral fabric to make it bed-quilt size. I haven’t planned the back exactly yet, but I do have 41 minus 13 of the darker squares and 40 minus 12 of the lighter squares plus many dark and medium would-have-been-border strips and various measures of the neutral fabric. I’m thinking I will do a nod to the traditional layout of the double chain but also incorporate some modern elements. It’s a work in progress for sure.
So liquid sidewalk chalk is just like sidewalk chalk, except you apply it with brushes (or leaves, if you’re Simon and feeling imaginative). It’s easy to whip up a batch and lots of fun to paint with. You can find the recipe on many different blogs (I found mine here by way of Pinterest).
1 part water
1 part cornstarch
Mix up the water and cornstarch. Pour it in muffin tins or small cups, and add food coloring. I left several cups white, but, of course, all the colors eventually got mixed together.
In keeping with my new addiction to natural dyes and because I was almost out of food coloring, I thought I would try to make a few natural colors. Turmeric produced a nice yellow, but for some reason the paprika didn’t mix very well (to make red). I think next time I will try the natural coloring by preparing the color in the water (like you would to dye eggs) before mixing the water with the cornstarch; I imagine the colors will be really muted, but I could be surprised.
A while ago I had a fun discussion with friends about what we might like to do or become in a different life. I said that I would like to be an architect, and while I will stick by that for my hypothetical different life, I will add that curator for some type of museum exhibits (art? history?) would be a close second. As I was thinking about that this morning, it dawned on me that I could realize the curator dream in the here and now to a teeny tiny extent by being more thoughtful, creative, and purposeful with my Pinterest boards.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to be more diligent in actually bringing Pinterest-y ideas to reality (and, yes, finishing projects). I happened across a linky at Simple Organic today about that very thing, so I went back through my boards and was pleased to find that I actually have implemented quite a few things this month (and a few from last month). (Here’s the original linky post, if you want to surf over and see what others have been up to as well.)
Stuff I Made
One of the first things I ever pinned was an infant carseat blanket. I had some fabric that I had intended to make into a baby quilt as a gift a couple of years ago, and, well, it didn’t happen. Then this weekend Jason’s mom showed me the quilt that she is making for Clara, and, well, I just got all inspired to quilt again.
I am really pleased at how it turned out, though if I had it to do over, I probably would have moved the gold paisley fabric more to one side to let the squares be more prominent. I also adore the backing. It took two trips to the quilt store to pick it out because I was overwhelmed (and totally inspired) by all the possibilities.
I meant to blog about the boys’ birthdays. We had two family parties this year because work schedules didn’t allow us all to get together at once. I made the same cake twice (and they really did turn out very similar).
The construction cake (original idea from here) was probably the easiest theme cake I’ll ever make. The “dirt” was pretty much impossible to mess up. I didn’t plan to, but I ended up making Jason a construction cake as well (though I didn’t make that one a layer cake). I had wanted to surprise Jason with a cake and told Simon so. After Jason left for work, Simon admitted, “I told Daddy about the chocolate part, but not about the construction part.”
Rice and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale :: I have been eating this for lunch (and sometimes dinner) for the last week or so. It is delicious. But I am the only one in my family who will eat it, so I need to beware of burnout. I really want to keep liking it as much as I do.
Moroccan Quinoa Pilaf :: This was my breakfast for several days in a row last week. It was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. I like the Rice and Garbanzo Bean Salad with Kale much better and it’s easier to make.
Coconut-Lime Tofu and Rice :: Um, well, I thought this was wonderful. But for everyone else it was probably the most unpopular dish I have ever made. It’s my own fault, really; I should have known better. This is a Renae-only dish if I ever make it in the future (I might).
Buttermilk Roast Chicken :: This was super easy to put together, though you do have to plan ahead to let it marinate overnight the night before. I thought it was tasty, but Jason was somehow expecting more flavor. I probably will make it again.
Bubble-Up Enchiladas :: This wasn’t as big a hit with the kids as I would have expected it to be. It may have been an off night, though. An easy and tasty recipe that I will give another shot.
Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips :: I am looking for ways to get more vegetables into our diet. I knew I would like this recipe (it had me at “maple-roasted”; it also had me at “sweet potatoes” and at “parsnips”). It was a surprise hit with the boys, though.
The boys spent about an hour one afternoon creating 3-D paper sculptures. I would like to try this again, but I need to be a little more organized about it and also need to be a little more involved, especially for Ian. I had hoped to set them up and be able to do something else, but they needed a little bit more hands-on help than I anticipated.
I have a couple more projects in the hopper, but reorganizing and rethinking my boards may just be the biggest Pinterest task I tackle for March. We’ll see.
I’m starting a new project—a series of creative collaborations. It’s called Pictychy (pronounced “pick-tick-ee”), and you can head on over to see what it’s all about or keep reading for a bit of the backstory.
A couple of years ago, my friend Shelli sent me a link to 3191: A Year of Mornings, wherein two friends who live 3,191 miles apart each took a picture every morning and shared them on a blog. (The blog is no longer available because it has been made into a book, but there are a few examples if you scroll down at that link.) I loved the idea—especially the collaborative aspect of it—and filed it away, wondering vaguely if someday I might find someone with whom to share a similar project.
Meanwhile, I continued to find (and get sucked into) inspiring photo projects. But the truth is I tend to lose interest fairly quickly either because I don’t have enough of a personal connection to motivate me to participate (adding images to get lost in Flickr pools generally isn’t for me) or because the scope is just too big. (Although I’ve been doing really well with taking a photo every day for my own Project 365, I really don’t want to commit to taking a self-portrait every week for a year or to do anything else for a year for that matter.)
Then one day it finally occurred to me that what I really wanted to do is everything—lots and lots of projects—but in small doses. I really like the idea of having a finite, doable project (think December Photo Project or Tulip Week). And adding to it a collaborative aspect, i.e., getting to share ideas and make art with my friends, is right up my alley.
I originally wanted to call it the Diptych Collective, but Wordpress was charging $17 a year for that domain name, so Pictychy it is. I am, of course, still figuring it out a bit as we go along, but I’m eager to get started and see what develops (ah, ha ha ha).
First up is a photowalk that Rebecca and I took a few years ago. I imagine that Pictychy will generally focus more on current/new projects, but it seemed appropriate to start with this one. Even though we didn’t plan on making it a collaboration as such, my memories of the day really resonate with the spirit of what I want the project to be about—friends “brought together to share different perspectives, tell shared stories, and encourage each other as photographers and artists.”
(You’ll also find the first in an ongoing project about color—I’d like these to be primarily collaborations, but this time I took both images in the diptych just to get things started.)
I’ll be adding a new image every day this week, so check back often (or, better yet, subscribe to the RSS feed).
Neither one of the kids liked the fingerpaint. At all. Ian didn’t know what to do with it and apparently didn’t like the feel of it on his hands. Simon couldn’t stand the mess and kept asking for a napkin to clean off his hands and made several trips to the sink before finally settling in with the tempera paint and brushes (much better!). Jason has been on edge throughout the weekend because of an injured foot that has been causing him a lot of discomfort. And the paint was kinda globby.
Also, it took me a long time to get things set up.
No matter how cute the kid, drool and spit are hard to glamorize.
And since we gave both kids a bath afterward, it was temporarily House of Pain around here. They are both going through big bath-hating phases (at least I hope they’re phases).
Jason’s going to love this post. I’m having one of these days. Blame it on the rainy weather (love it), the (caffeinated) coffee I have in my system, that Simon was particularly good this morning while Ian snoozed, that I just finished a really good book (in three sittings in two days), and probably especially on the fact that I have a babysitter at home with the kids and am sitting in the library with my feet up, but I am feeling inspired and happy this morning.
**Important disclaimer: I have a constantly changing mental list of things I want to do and, realistically, it’s not to be confused with a to-do list. In other words, by writing these ideas down today I am not looking for accountability, I’m just blogging and dreaming a little.
In no particular order:
Rethink my blog and actually do something with it. I’d like to focus on a photoblog, since I take pictures (almost) every day and am trying to let my photography be a creative outlet.
Tag, geotag, and otherwise organize all our digital pictures, both on our computers and on Flickr.
Quilt. I’d like to find the quilt I started for our wedding and finish it and to finish the quilt I started making for Jason’s 29th birthday (2005). But most of all, I’d like to make a whole new quilt in this pattern (I haven’t decided yet if I’ll use scraps I have or get new fabric).
Continue my decluttering rampage, which has been neglected lately for lack of time but not for lack of desire.
Learn (again) to knit. I do have a specific project in mind from this book. (I checked his book out of the library because out of 30 projects, there are at least 11 that I could see myself actually doing and, of those, 3 or 4 that I really will do—you know, probably.)
Read. A lot.
Set up a sewing room in the basement.
Paint and otherwise finish decorating and/or furnishing our living room and dining room.
Make a bunch of these shirts for the boys out of Jason’s old band shirts (this project has been approved pending Jason wearing each shirt one last time).
Even though I blurted these out in no particular order, I can see how they will have to line up in a logical progression (e.g., finish decluttering so I can set up a room so I can sew). And, truth be told, I’m finishing this post in the few more minutes I can squeeze from the Simon just woke up from his nap and is groggy time before he starts in with the chorus “Mama done! Mama done!” and trying to close the computer on my hands, so already my idealism is taking a hit. Nothing gets crossed off the list today. I’m off to play blocks.
Several years ago, I came to the conclusion that I really didn’t like jazz. I used to want to like it, but eventually I gave up even really wanting to. Sure, I enjoy sitting on the lawn with friends at Lincoln’s Jazz in June once or twice a summer, but beyond that the musical genre just hasn’t been for me.
I really have no idea where he even learned the name—I can promise it wasn’t from me or Jason—but Simon has a genuine affection for “Melmo!” The little red monster was probably one of my least favorite Sesame Street characters—I don’t know why really except that I did find his baby voice and his referring to himself in the third person annoying. I tried to stave off the Melmo love as long as I could, but Simon is nothing if not relentless, so I found some short Elmo videos online that I can tolerate. Okay, okay, full disclosure: the truth is that after watching these videos again and again and again (and again and again . . . ), they have grown on me to the point where I actually find them quite funny and charming. We pretty much stick to this playlist, but there are a fewotherones that we watch now and again.
Whenever Simon gets to pick “doo Melmo” (two Elmos), I secretly hope he picks the one with Kermit the Frog because it brings back good memories of the Sesame Street News skits I watched as a kid or the one of Grover delivering a singing telegram for its genuinely funny lines (e.g., “You can’t shove singing and dancing under the door; they are artistic!”) or the one with Jamie Foxx because the fox’s vocabulary cracks me up. He most often picks the one with Natalie Portman, perhaps because it’s long (I love Portman’s playfulness in that one). Lately, I’ve been liking the one with jazz musician Diane Schuur—it’s a catchy little number, doobe doobe doowah.
So here I am saying that I like both jazz and Elmo—in small to medium doses, at least. File it under Things You Never Thought Would Be True and Then You Had Kids.
Last week Jason was asked to go on a semi-last-minute business trip to Minneapolis. He said he’d talk it over with me and get back to them. I’ve lost track of the exact timeline, but whatever day this came up was day 2 of both boys being sick. So did I think I would be up for three nights and four days of the boys by myself? Um, No to the Way to the Jose. (Even on my best days that’s not appealing. I know I’m wimpy that way. I can live with that.) So instead of Jason just not going, I proposed that the family tag along, and he went for it! So next week we’re headed up to visit Joie. Yay!
This also means that we have about seven hours plus stops in the car. I think it’s unrealistic to hope to get a quiet book done (I did get supplies, though), but I do have two projects that I’m pretty sure I can complete before we leave. I forget where I got the idea (clicking from this blog to that one), so I am sorry to say I can’t give credit where it’s due. The plan is to make two books—a letters book and a numbers book—by taking pictures of things that are familiar to Simon. The numbers book is pretty straightforward—1 bottle of bubbles, 2 boots, 3 trains, and so on.
The letters book is a little harder. I am finding that the things that fill our days are clustered on a few letters: B, for example, is for bubbles and beans and Baby and bus and boots and bowl; D is for Daddy and Dude and dinosaurs and dirt and dump truck; S is for slides and swings and snake and Simon. I could go on. But what about Q? Quilt is all I’ve got. And X? X is for xnothing-Simon-is-familiar with.
I’ve also decided to take pictures of all the letters and numbers themselves, but I’m not going to knock myself out. Hard to find ones may just get drawn with sidewalk chalk.
You should know that Rebecca’s blog, View from the Prairie Box (and her professional portfolio coming soon), is worth checking out anytime. I just can’t get enough of the last couple of days, though, because she’s been featuring photos of my kiddo (I haven’t commented on her posts, but I look at them obsessively and am giddy and amazed that he’s MINE, MINE, MINE!). As you can see for yourself, Rebecca did such a great job capturing the squeeziness that is Ian (as well as a few heartbreakers of Simon and Ian together). I have way too many favorites to pick just a few. Anyway, check out the pics . . . and here are a couple more (I could go on and on):