Archive for October, 2013

Introducing . . . Captain Green Man and his Faithful Sidekick Greenboy!

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

A quick look at John’s Halloween costume, which we invented and put together in about a half hour last night:

Smart

Meet the Captain

Captain Green Man and his faithful sidekick Greenboy!  Ready to begin their day of  ridding the world of environmental degradation!

Ready for Takeoff

Ready for Takeoff

Fly, Captain, fly!

Don't Mess with the Captain

Don’t Mess with the Captain

FIERCE.

Destiny Awaits

Destiny Awaits

Go forth, Green Men, and conquer! (Or, er, stop the conquering!)

A Little, Experimental Gingerbread House

Monday, October 28th, 2013

A bazillion years ago—i.e., when I was a senior in high school—my mother and I made gingerbread houses as holiday gifts for my three favorite English teachers. It took an entire day, possibly an entire weekend, and I remember the experience with fondness. Perhaps unsurprisingly (since you know me by now), said houses were personalized for each teacher, even including, in the case of my creative writing teacher Peggy (who is still my close friend) (Hi, Peggy!) (and an excellent artist/designer/crafter herself) three gingerbread cat cookies, piped with her cats’ names and resting against the sides of the house.

I was thinking about what to do with my 7-year-old nephew when we’re in Maryland for the holidays, and I decided upon GBH’s once again. But I wanted to test the waters ahead of time to make sure that it would work.

I spent a fair amount of the day yesterday on this project, first shopping for ingredients and then rolling out the dough*, cooking it, cutting the shapes, piping on frosting** and affixing decor. I hadn’t planned the design and wasn’t quite clear on a vision, so what I ended up with is not quite up to my (admittedly redonkulo) aesthetic standards. But it’s cute and it’s finished, so here it is:

Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House

Yes, there is a Halloween bent. No, there is no door (and there aren’t any windows, either—we’ll fix that in MD). And yes, it is on the tall side. I’m going to slice about an inch off the height, I think.

Back/Side

Back/Side

Another view. I do like the candy corn at the bottom and the white chocolate chips lining the frosting. Also, our living room is rather dark and brooding on October mornings, isn’t it?

Another Angle

Another Angle

It’s a bit brighter if you look the other way.

Anyway, there it is. I’ll try to post photos of the ones we make over the holidays to show how they compare.

*I did not make said dough, even from a mix, which had been my plan (much to John’s horror). Trader Joe’s sells gingerbread dough! In the refrigerated section! It’s a Christmas miracle!

**I didn’t make the frosting, either. Although after a look at the ingredients list on the can I bought, I might just have to whip up the next batch. Because EW, partially hydrogenated oil (more than one kind!) and artificial flavoring. On the other hand, it’s not as though we’re going to eat the houses (Are we?). On the other other hand, finger-licking is inevitable and a big part of the fun.

BREAKING NEWS: GINGERBREAD HOUSE NOT STRUCTURALLY SOUND

Welp, that lasted a day. And then this happened:

Broke-Roof Mountain

Broke-Roof Mountain

Other side, same thing:

So Long, Eaves

So Long, Eaves

John says that the gingerbread was too soft. True, dat. I think the overhang was too long, too—and possibly that the slabs weren’t thick enough, which I was worried about going in. (It was looking as though I hadn’t bought enough dough.) Of course, gingerbread houses differ from actual houses in that when a slab falls from your roof, you get to eat it.

 

Books: Quick Hits

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Passing through my neural circuitry of late:

1. A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki. This one was a little too overt in both its themes and its mechanics for my tastes, but I can see why my friend Liza (hi, Liza!) liked it so much. There are characters to root for and plenty to ponder, plus rich atmospherics and unexpected connections. I think that John, who is fascinated/befuddled by time as well as less picky about thematic subtlety than I am, will really like it. I’m encouraging him to read it soon.

2. Son of a Gun, by Justin St. Germain. (Full disclosure: Though I don’t know him, Justin is a friend of a friend.) This memoir is initially so plainly written that I was worried it wouldn’t deepen, but it does, and searingly so. The simplicity is purposefully tonal and stark, building to levels of condemnation I didn’t initially see coming. It’s a very satisfying, scathing, and haunting read about Justin’s childhood and adolescence, which took a life-defining turn when he was twenty, and his “stepfather” (perhaps more appropriately understood as his mother’s fifth husband) killed his mother. By shooting her. In their trailer. In the middle of the Arizona desert. Aaaargh.

3. Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell. Remember when I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell? Welp, that was in March, and her new book is now out. I gulped it down over the weekend, basically within 24 hours (while still managing to shop, eat, and see two friends, thank you very much). It’s slightly sentimental and perhaps a little condescending (although maybe not if you’re actually YA?), but still immense fun. For a few hours last night I was a puddle of fourteen-year-old girlishness. I think I’m now back to my adult self, but hey—very fun ride. I have no doubt that I’ll gobble up (down) the next one, whenever it appears.

 

 

The Return of Felt

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

First I felted.

Then I didn’t felt.

(We bought a house. We made some renovations. I worked on decor.)

Then I felted again!

Here, my friends, are the results of a project that occupied my obsessively poking hands from June – September: a XXth birthday present for my mom! She just had a big bash to celebrate a milestone, and I wanted to be sure that my gift was up to the occasion. So I started early and worked throughout the summer. Herewith, the results:

Felted Wonders

Felted Wonders

It’s a doll! With a dog! I will now post many photos of this very same thing.

From Behind

From Behind

This was not intentional, but the doll’s stance is not entirely unlike the stance of a certain grandmother I had—my mother’s mother, who is no longer with us. She often seemed rather perched on her skinny legs.

Three Quarter View

Three-Quarter View

I gave her a purse. This is a good angle for the flower details, which I threw on (well, poked into) the boots, gloves, and hat in addition to the purse. I was going for “a lot of look,” as Tim Gunn would say (back when we all still loved Tim Gunn).

Snappy

Snappy

I love the bow tie.

Brighter

Brighter

Different lighting here, so they look brighter. In real life, they’re not quite this electric.

From the Side

From the Side

I like how they appear to be going somewhere. On a walk, let’s say.

Editorial

Editorial

The woman flies. The dog awaits.

Pretty fun, right? I wish these photos did the pieces more justice, because they’re more alive in person, but you get the gist. And if you want to see them, you’ll have to go to Maryland, where they will live from now on.

PS. Needle felting is more like creating sculpture than it is like sewing, so making “free-standing” objects—particularly clothing—is far from easy. I’d made a purse before (not hard), but the jacket on this doll was a revelation to me . . . i.e., figuring out how to make it work so that it’s removable.  We’ll see where this takes me.