Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday was Father's Day and in honour of the occassion I made these very cute desserts. I got the idea, directions, and templates from Bakerella. Pretty easy to make, but a bit time consuming due to all of the steps. But worth it, I think. Next up, cake pops?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy belated 12th of June!

Apparently our town decided that they didn't want to deal with fireworks on the 4th of July, so instead they had them last Friday. Huh? And Boy Chris was able to have an "I told you so" moment. The fireworks were scheduled for 9, with music starting at 8. So I suggested that we bring some food and get there around 7:30 or so. No one was there. Ok, the DJ was there, but that was it.

Silly me, I assumed it was live music and that people would get there early, set a blanket out on the ground, and have a picnic. Nope. Seating was on the bleachers of the football field. Around 8:30 it started filling up. I'd say that we now know better for next time, but seeing as how we're moving, there won't be a next time.

I did have a chance to play with my camera and try some new things with taking pictures of fireworks. Would have been better with a tripod, but I didn't want to deal with that.


It's 10 days before the Derby and I'm actually done with my car? This is most unusual. I'm usually finishing it up the day before or the day of. But here it is.

I also am making another car. It's the same design that I've done before- one that's pretty quick. I usually make a simple one and then don't feel so bad if I have to give up on my fancier car. So my simple car may need another coat of paint, but otherwise is more or less done.

I guess this means I can spend more time doing other things like decorating cookies and baking Friendship Bread.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Britain's Top 10 castles

The Travel Channel had a program a while back of Britain's Top 10 Castles.

10. Windsor Castle
9. Hampton Court Palace
8. Edinburgh Castle
7. St. Michael's Mount
6. Stirling Castle
5. Caernarfon Castle
4. Leeds Castle
3. Tintagel Castle
2. Warwick Castle
1. Tower of London

I think I've been to all of them except for Stirling Castle. Although Caernarfon I saw when I was 8 and really have no memory of it. After this trip Chris will have all of them except for Stirling, Caernarfon, and possibly Leeds.

I guess next we'll have to work on Europe's Top 10 Castles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tales of a Pinewood Derby car

Last year my friend Jeremy made a US flag for his Derby car since it was held on the 5th of July. So we were talking about what special holidays might be around this year's Derby. I looked it up and here are a few of the special holidays.

Captain Kangaroo's birthday, National Columnists Day, anniversary of the melody to Happy Birthday being written, National Orange Blossom Day, National Picnic Day....

I entertained the idea of decorating a block of wood to look like a cake and putting the words to Happy Birthday on it. I thought about doing something with a picnic theme, but then Chris said that he wanted to make a picnic basket. He's since dropped that idea.

I decided to go with National Orange Blossom Day. I drew a branch onto my block and then cut it out- making sure to leave branches for the axles. However, the problem was then that my "car" weighted .7-.8 ounces. Ugh. I cut away a lot of weight. We went in search of fishing weights. We were going to go with tungsten since they are much more dense than lead, but instead we got a variety of lead weights.

We drilled into the front and back and added half an ounce on each end. Add some stain and putty, and I'm now up to 1.7 ounces. Still nowhere near what I want. For leaves I had thought about carving them, but I tried that and although it was working, I wasn't thrilled with the way they were turning out. And it still wasn't going to be heavy enough. Then I thought about polymer clay.

But did clay flowers and leaves count as "simple add-ons"? Since I was unsure, I asked my back-up committee of judge, and he told me that it would be ok. So if anyone has a problem with it, it's Boy Chris' fault! I was going to add some bits of lead into my clay before baking, but Chris told me I couldn't do that. Something about fumes. Whatever!

So instead I took some lead fishing weights and pounded them with a hammer until they sort of resembled leaves. Hopefully I can get them to stay on the car!

Then there was the clay. Yesterday I made a bunch of leaves and flowers. I had one flower that I really liked. The directions said 130 degrees for 15 minutes per quarter inch, and don't overbake. Mine were about 1/8 inch so I did 5 minutes- checked, nope. 5 more minutes. Pulled them out. Left them for a bit and tried one and it broke. Did they need more time? I put them back in a bit longer. When I took them out, they still broke. What was going on? If you overbake do they become too brittle? That's when I re-read the directions. They were supposed to go in at 130 degrees Celsius (275 Farenheit). Wait, who puts the Celsius temp first? Maybe it's European? I checked- Made in the USA!

Tonight I tried again with much more success. The pictures that you see here were from tonight's batch. Once my lead leaves get painted I should be able to start assembling it. And if I'm lucky, when it goes down the track, it won't break or fall apart.

Finally, I leave you with a mystery. I don't think it's Derby related. Ok, there's a derby website on this post-it, but what I want to know, is what the heck I was sketching. I asked Chris what it was and he doesn't know either. Any ideas??

Trying not to overplan....

  • Flights booked
  • T in the Park tickets purchased
  • Reserved tent, sleeping bags, etc for T in the Park
  • Hotel in Edinburgh booked
  • Hotel in Horton-in-Ribblesdale booked
  • Hotel in Bingley booked
  • Hotel in Maidstone booked
  • Hotel in London booked
  • English Heritage 2 week membership purchased
  • Maps for 3 Peaks of Yorkshire hike purchased
  • Guide books and road atlas purchased

To do
  • Arrange for cat sitters
  • Book rental car
  • Book Globe Theatre tickets (decide which show we want to see- Troilus & Cressida, Romeo & Juliet, or As You Like It)
  • Decide what are must-see's, maybe-see's, and what can be crossed off the list
  • Get adapter so that will be able to use the computer
  • Countless other things that my brain can't handle right now!

So what's on the list of things for us to see? Yes, I realize this is quite ambitious for a 16 day vacation.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Flowers and houses

So what's happened in the world of Chris since I last posted? And aren't you impressed that I've been updating more frequently? Three posts last week and another one now? That's 4 posts in 10 days! But who am I kidding, I'm sure this won't last.

When I thought we were going to get the other house, I went to the library and started looking through gardening magazines. One of them had an article on peonies. It suggested that instead of leaving them out on the bush where the stems are likely to break since the blooms are so heavy, as soon as they start to bloom, you should cut them and bring them inside so that you can fully enjoy them. So I did. And they're pink and wonderful!

And speaking of the peonies, I've been going back in forth in my mind (and a bit with Chris) about what I should do with the peonies and various other perennials in my garden when we move. I've spent a fair amount of money on them, and they've taken a few years to become established and actually look good. So do I leave them in a garden that may quickly become neglected, overgrown and unappreciated, or do I dig them up and move them to the new house? If I do decide to move them, that means that I'll need to know where they're going, and will need to prep the area in advance. This could be easier said than done. I think the ones I care the most about are the peonies, my lavender, and my chives. I've had those chives since I lived on Myrtle Street. They're at least 8 years old and have moved 4 times.

So how's the house hunt going? We've looked at a ridiculous number of houses! we started on May 1st. I think we've looked at 18 houses- maybe more. And that's just the ones we've gone into. We've looked at so many more online. They all start to blur together! We put an offer on the one I mentioned last week. We were ready to put an offer on another and then learned that they were under agreement.

Wednesday night our realtor sent us a listing. Chris and I both liked what we saw. It had been on the market for two days. We asked to go see it ASAP. Last night we went to check it out. Our realtor commented that he had gotten there a bit early and was able to walk around and look at it, and then he went out to his truck and started to fill out the papers. We loved it. We were ready to make an offer. We agreed on a price and he gave them until the end of today to respond. He wanted to get it finalized before their scheduled open house this weekend. When we left we stopped by to visit my dad, and after talking about it a bit we decided it wasn't worth haggling over what is a relatively small amount of money, so we called our realtor back and said we were going to offer the asking price. They accepted. So I'm still a bit wary and am trying not to get too excited, but I think it's ours. Here are the pictures.

Friday, June 05, 2009

All good things must come to an end

Turns out I spoke too soon on the house. Even though we had a verbal agreement, someone else came in and offered them more. We weren't given the chance to match that offer.

So now we're on to looking at more houses. Saw one online last night that we thought looked fabulous. It had only been on the market a few days. Told our realtor about it. Someone else has already put in an offer. Grrr. However, we do have a few others we're going to try to see this weekend.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What else is going on?

So I realize there is a huge problem in the fact that it takes me a month or longer to update this blog. Guess I should make more of an effort to keep up with it. So here's a rundown of some of the other things that have been going on.

For our anniversary we went to see the Spinal Tap: Unwigged & Unplugged concert. It was awesome! It was a mix of classic Spinal Tap songs, some of their "earlier" work (when they were The Originals, The Thamesmen, etc) as well as Folksmen songs from A Mighty Wind, and even a song from Waiting for Guffman. Here are a few of the pictures from the concert.

Throughout the show they showed various clips of things on the screen behind them. So for Stonhenge they showed a little Stonhenge being lowered and then troll dolls dancing around it.

However, I think the best moment for me was after the show. We went around to the stage door. We certainly didn't rush out there, but we were the first ones. Odd. The longer we waited, the more people showed up. And then we got the sense that they were trying to make a speedy exit because the tour bus was moved up more into a direct exit with the door. However, that didn't stop me from getting Christopher Guest to sign my copy of Guffman- my favorite of his movies.

And a little bit of an update on my mom, since I've mentioned concerns, but then never gave details or an update. Since the fall we've been concerned about her and the fact that she was living alone in a 2-story home. However, she resisted any suggestions that we made about her moving elsewhere. Then in March things took a turn for the worse. Presumable it was an exacerbation of her MS. But she was stubborn and still thought she would be ok on her own. Visiting Nurses and a home health aide started to come, but there were some other problems and she ended up going to the hospital. She spent 5 days there and then since she wasn't going to be ok on her own, she went to a rehabilitation hospital for a month. She's still not back to a self-sufficient functioning level, so now she's at a nursing home. Time will tell how long she stays there or where she goes next. Thanks to everyone for the kind words, notes, etc that you've shared with me during this time.

Skating continues to go well. In fact, I've even started taking a second day of lessons. However, these new lessons are a very different format, and I haven't decided yet if I really like them or not. I think my big problem is that it's not really challenging enough. I just keep working on basic things. Which can be good to perfect my technique, but it's also a bit boring.

I guess between looking at houses and everything else going on, my scraping has kind of slacked off for a while. Not sure if it was just that I was busy or if my mojo was gone. I did actually get into my scrap room and made some cards over the weekend while Chris was at poker. It felt good. I just need to get back in there and create more. I'm feeling really behind. I'm trying not to let it get to me, but it's starting to get to the point of being completely overwhelming. Especially when I think that I've barely started pictures from last summer's vacation, and in a little over a month we'll be off to the UK, where I'm sure I'll take 100's more photos. Must make an effort to do more.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Exciting news...

We are soon to be homeowners! We put in an offer on a house, they countered, and we are accepting their counter. So by the end of the summer, we'll be the proud owners of a little green colonial built around 1918. I didn't take pics of the front of the house since those were available online in the listing, but here are the other pics that I took of the house. This one here is if the backdoor and a peek at the yard.

In other news, the 6th annual Pinewood Derby is coming up in less than a month. The day that it's being held (June 27th) happens to be National Orange Blossom Day, so my idea is to make an orange branch with leaves and flowers. I started over the weekend and the branch part looks pretty good. Carving flowers and leaves out of wood is going ok, but I think I may try making them out of clay instead. However, my big problem is that my car is very light. We'll have to get very creative with weight placement to get it up to 5 ounces. Ideas in the running are putting fishing weights into the clay as well as steel leaves. We'll see. I have 3 weeks to figure it out.