I don’t know why I even have a “craft” category for the blog seeing as we seem to only accomplish 2 kinds of crafts each year – paper snowflakes and Easter egg dyeing (and if you click on crafts, that’s pretty much all you see post after post – so much so that it’s laughable). We haven’t even carved pumpkins in the last few years because the girls get too attached to their pumpkins and can’t bear the thought of stabbing them with knives and scooping out the guts. Oh! I tried to teach the girls how to make origami cranes last week, but that didn’t really go over so well because I forgot how to fold one myself and the only origami paper we had was too small for tiny hands trying to make precise folds. Hey, I tried.
After last year’s rather successful first attempt at natural egg coloring, we went back to the Paas dye tablets, mostly because Mark’s mom sent us a box in the Easter care package she sent us. We didn’t do anything fancy this year (though I thought about it for a minute, I swear). Mia did scratch a phrase in wax on one of her eggs: “Peace, love and hamburgers” (uh, whatever that means to 9 year olds), but we did try ombre-ing a few of the eggs. I think next year I might try experimenting with tape.
We took our traditional drive upstate to spend Easter with Mark’s dad and uncle. The girls get super excited about Easter because of the egg hunts (this year we drove out to a state park to hide chocolates in the woods). Nothing was Spring-like about it because the weather was still a bit chilly and the trees still so bare, but they still had a super good time. I find it funny that they are both so blinded by the fact that one of us is obviously the Easter bunny hiding the candy. I’m surprised that Mia still believes there’s a furry animal with thumbs capable of placing chocolate eggs on window sills and perched on tree branches. She knows there isn’t a tooth fairy and hasn’t really believed in Santa in awhile (though she claims to believe in him again), so why the Easter bunny? Especially when I had “mysteriously disappeared” while Mark took them to a bench to look out over the lake.
Posted by Jenna | 3 Comments
My high school art teacher, who was the most awesome teacher to have during those formative teenage years, would often tell me that the one of the best parts of being a teacher was being inspired by his students. He once thanked me for making him a better artist. I never forgot that. Even back then I pondered what that statement meant, an adult who was nearly twice my age thanking me, a kid, for inspiring him to be a better artist.
I get that now though. I know what he meant.
Mia brought home this little weaving that she made at a birthday party held at the Textile Arts Center and it sort of blew me away. Not in that, “oh look how precious this drawing of our family is”, but more in a “wow, this is a really interesting textile piece and I love the colors that she chose” kind of way. I don’t know anything about weaving on a loom, so my unfamiliarity about weaving fabrics totally heightened the mystery of how she was able to make this in 2 hours. I was really proud of her and she was obviously proud of her work. I also wanted to learn how to weave something myself immediately, and this is what made me think of my high school art teacher.
I’m not a crafty person, which is a bit ironic considering how I used to spend my childhood days. Designing paper dolls with outfits and creating elaborate dioramas were my absolute favorite activity (and I cringe to admit that my 10 year old self was pretty competitive about dioramas at school). Sometimes I feel regretful that I’m not THAT mom. You know, the one who whips out the craft box on rainy days and can lead their kids into hours of “crafting” (I really dislike the verb usage of words like that) and come out the other end with puppets made out of old sweaters and bird feeders from milk cartons. I mean, damn. Sometimes I really wish I were that mom. I have the potential and know how to be, but I will ashamedly admit…I am just too lazy (how awful to reveal that). But this weaving that Mia brought home might mark a new beginning because I’m realizing that the kids’ ability to comprehend and handle activities that require dexterity and patience opens up a new world of art projects. I think I underestimated their abilities because they were “still kids”. I was wrong.
One of the more vivid memories from my childhood is taking painting classes with my mom. I must have been 9 or 10. Our teacher was a big Romanian woman with a husky voice who held small open studio classes in her attic art studio in her house in Queens. She was a chain smoker and had a big black labrador whose tail would wack against the closed door as she patiently sat outside the art studio, wanting to be let in. My mom and I would paint side by side on our respective paintings, hers in oils and mine in acrylics, every Saturday with our Romanian teacher giving us critiques and helping us with our technique. It’s a memory that I think back on fondly and it would be cool to share a similar experience with the girls one day.
Incidentally, I signed the kids up for a week long camp session during the summer at the same Textile Arts Studio where Mia learned how to weave (yes, that’s right. In NYC, many families will have registered for camp already by January. Craziness!). It’s really great to have so many different specialized camps right here in the neighborhood – rock climbing, robotics, skateboarding, video making, textiles. It’s a far cry from the camps that I remember going to in the 80s, where the only thing I can remember was making sure I had the right Jordache jeans and choreographing a musical routine to “Hey, Big Spender” with 20 other girls (um, what?). It makes me want to sign up for a class myself too. And so it comes full circle – the girls are inspiring me to want to create things again, to take classes and have fun while doing it. But more importantly than that, they’re inspiring me to let go of some of the fear of failure that has prevented me from doing so in the past.
Posted by Jenna | 17 Comments
Thank god for New Year’s. It makes the blow of having Christmas over a little easier even though many of us have gone back to work and the doldrums of January loom near. Mia asked me when we were getting rid of the tree. I said after New Year’s Day. I know some people like to remove all traces of the holidays right after Christmas, but I find that too abrupt, too fast. I’d rather ease into January with some of the sparkle and lights leftover from the holiday.
The weekend before Christmas when Mark was at the Flea and the flurry of holiday orders were complete, the girls and I spent a few hours making snowflakes like we do every year. It’s cool to see the progression of their snowflakes over the years, the cutting and the shapes getting more sophisticated from the simple circles with holes they used to cut when they were younger. They try to mimic my patterns and learn my secrets.
I hear we might be getting real snow tomorrow. I hope we do.
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Here’s how our batch of eggs turned out after leaving them in their natural dye baths overnight (see post and general recipes from part 1 here). I do think that’s key to getting some of the rich jewel tones, to leave them in overnight. Even though the eggs didn’t stay as saturated once dried as it did right after taking them out of their baths (particularly the red beet dye), I love the more subdued, mottled effect that it left.
After placing each egg back in the carton to dry off, I did buff them a bit to gently wipe off any excess coloring and powdered residue that was left on the egg, particularly the tumeric. The colors are such a nice alternative to the brights and pastels that we’ve been dyeing eggs with in past years (not to mention the glitter and the stickers!). We’ll see if we keep to it, but we want to do this every year and try other food sources to color eggs with.
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This is something we’ve been wanting to do for years – dyeing Easter eggs using vegetables and spices. After seeing how beautiful my friend Jen Causey’s eggs turned out, we planned our yearly egg dyeing activity over the weekend. Here’s the basic method and recipe that we used for our four colors:
Blue: Simmer 4 cups of water with 1 small red cabbage (roughly chopped) for 15 minutes.
Red: Simmer 4 cups of water with 2 medium red beets (grated) for 15 minutes.
Yellow: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil and stir in 1/4 cup turmeric. Boil for 1 more minute.
Brown: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 cup ground coffee, and simmer for 10 minutes.
When each of the mixtures have cooled down, mix in 1/4 cup white vinegar and strain each of the colors into cups for dyeing. We left the eggs in the color baths overnight as per Jen’s suggestion. Stay tuned tomorrow to see how they turned out…
Posted by Jenna | 16 Comments
Last night I came home from working the table all day at the Brooklyn Flea and collapsed on the couch and pretty much went to sleep right then and there. I hadn’t gone to the bathroom or eaten anything all day, not even a coffee(!) because I didn’t want to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes which is what happens when I drink coffee on an empty stomach. I have no explanation for not eating except that I was sandwiched in between the donut people and the pork belly people all day, so I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t feeling it because I was smelling food all day. I suddenly had the chills when I got home and was convinced that I was getting sick so I slept. I woke up past midnight and dragged myself to bed, but couldn’t fall back asleep till hours later of course. 1:45am, 2:30, 3:15. When I woke up in the morning I felt ok.
So I vacuumed. And cleaned. And dusted. And did laundry. And put things away. And cut snowflakes with the girls. And gave Mia a piano lesson.
Just normal things. It felt good. Almost like I woke up and all that other stuff from the previous weeks never happened. It’s sort of like pregnancy and child birth, you know? I think we’re programmed to forget the pain so that we’ll do it all over again.
My work for the business is pretty much done. I have some gift boxes to assemble this week, but not hundreds. Mark’s still in the trenches but it’s manageable, like a normal workload week, not stressful, crazy time orders pumped up on steroids (so far!). By Saturday night he was cooking dinner again for the girls when I got home, playing that game of cards that Claudine had wanted to play and reading them a bedtime story. He was back.
I read through last year’s December posts this afternoon out of curiosity while I drank my coffee this afternoon after all the cleaning was done. Even though I remembered just how crazy last holiday season was (with the added stress of big work deadlines that I thankfully didn’t have this this year), I was surprised at how lengthy some of the posts were…and I was even funny in some of them! But this holiday…I don’t know…kind of sucked the life out of us. Some sobering realities. I’ll share soon.
Posted by Jenna | 18 Comments