International Day of Non-Violence

I learned from Amar Naik’s photo blog that today, October 2, is the International Day of Non-Violence (http://amarnaik.wordpress.com/2013/10/01/international-day-of-non-violence).  Commemorating the day that Mohandas Gandhi was born, it was first recognized by the United Nations in 2007.  This day, and what it represents, couldn’t come at a better time.  It seems that every time I turn on the news I hear of another homicide, terrorist attack or threat, or mass murder.  We’re struggling to create gun legislation that preserves a constitutional right to “bear arms” yet is balanced by the good sense and honest intent with which it was written.  Certainly, however, our forebearers could not have envisioned the kinds of weapons that are available on the streets these days and the senselessness with which they are used.  My own city has had 3 murders in the last 2 weeks, bringing our total to 15 this year.  We’ve already surpassed our total of 12 from last year and 2/3 of the people killed have been under 30.  Three of them were 19- not even old enough to legally drink.

Image

The city has reached out to local organizations and faith-communities to create Peace Flags as a sign of its dedication to teaching and striving for non-violence and they’re going to be hanging them along the parade route for our annual Thanksgiving weekend Balloon Parade.  The chorus that our boy sings in (and my mother co-founded) will be singing at the event and I look forward to it being an uplifting, powerful day.  Granted, it’s only a symbol, albeit an inspirational one, and there’s still so much work that needs to be done.

I was lucky enough to be able to work with my church’s Chapel Kids group (the alternative service for kids ages 7-12 at our church) to help create them.  The organization that’s sponsoring it supplied muslin rectangles and a rope to hang them from but allowed churches to decorate them with whatever materials and in whatever ways they wanted.  As inspiration, I found these beautiful prayer flags that Kate, from Ramblings from Utopia, made with her kids.  (http://www.ramblingsfromutopia.com/2012/05/wordlessful-wednesdays-prayer-flags.html)

We prayed on the topic and looked at some picture books about peace for inspirational images, and then the kids just had at it.  The week before, they had sketched ideas onto paper, the this Sunday I gave them Sharpies, fabric markers, and fabric to cut up and glue on (no one actually ended up using the fabric).  It was a really fun service (despite the mess) and the flags, and the hopeful message they represent, are beautiful.  Here are some of my favorites:

Image

Image

If kids understand and value the concept so clearly and openly, why can’t our world leaders?  What are we doing wrong that has bred so much hatred, fear, and self-loathing among the members of our community that are so often party to this kind of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators?  Most important, when and how can we finally mend/heal/soothe the wounds and move forward into a civilization that truly values and is capable of non-violence?

Art in the Orchard

Here are some more photos from our adventure to the “Art in the Orchard” exhibit today (http://www.parkhillorchard.com/art).  If you’re anywhere near the Western Massachusetts area, I highly suggest you come check it out.  It’s totally worth the trip.

The one above was my favorite, I think.  I’m kicking myself for not taking a photo of the title card, but it’s called “Living in Landscape” by Lyn Horan (http://www.carolynlyonshoran.com/).  I just found out that she’s an instructor at one of my favorite local artist retreats/studio communities, Snow Farm (http://www.snowfarm.org/instructor/items/lyn-horan.html).

ImageImage

This one is amazing (and the reason I desperately to learn to weld).  And there’s the info on it (I actually remembered to photograph the card.

ImageImage

The piano hanging from the tree was super cool, but the title, “Death of Music” made me sad.  He said that he was trying to represent censorship in music, but all I could think of was the loss of another instrument in the world (it might also be because my mom was a piano teacher when I was growing up).

Image

I sent my brother a couple pictures as we were leaving and he went to the exhibit later that afternoon and took some amazing photos.  Here’s his post of a photo of this one (with a rainbow that he was luckily enough to catch):  http://lorrinbaker.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/rainbow-and-horse-sculpture-art-in-the-orchard-easthampton-ma/.  These weren’t my favorite sculptures (they were called Ghost Horses in a installation titled “Herd” by Joe Landry) but I love the view with the clouds rolling in.  It actually started raining just as we finished picking our second basket of apples.  I think we must have gotten almost 1/2 a bushel.  The wife’s going to have a field day in the kitchen tomorrow while the boy and I are at church.

My favorite part of the day was this huge red frame created by a local frame shop, Eastmont Custom Framing.  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eastmont-Custom-Framing-and-The-Elusie-Gallery/175553662476120)  They challenged people to photograph themselves in and around the frame and post the photos on their Facebook page.  We had a blast with that:

Image

Up, up, and away!

Image

Arabesque.

Image

The family.  🙂

My boy’s favorite part, he said, was getting this close to a chicken.  It’s the simple pleasures!

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

 

The prompt over at the Weekly Photo Challenge is “Inside” (http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/13/photo-challenge-inside/)  It reminded me of a photo I took last weekend of my boy in the bounce house at the Glendi Festival.  As I was going through my photos, I found an even better one from a few weeks ago at a VBC we just happened upon as we were on our way somewhere else.

IMG_7567

He absolutely LOVES bounce houses and could spend all day in them.  We even rented one for his birthday last year.  I think it’s because he’s somewhat accident prone so he’s learned to be really cautious.  The bounce house is the one place he can be totally crazy and carefree and not get hurt (usually).

Have cornhole, will travel

IMG_2777

Okay, okay.  Before I start getting comments about the shocking nature of the title of this post, a “cornhole” is a beanbag toss.  Pure and simple.  I don’t know where it got that name.  (Maybe they used to use dried corn kernels to make the bean bags, but then they’d probably be called “corn bags”, wouldn’t they?)  Anyway, this cornhole set was build by my father-in-law for our Jill and Jill party.  It’s been making the rounds at various parties and family functions every since.  It was even used as a ruse to get my parents to their 50th Anniversary party (we have to use my dad’s truck to transport them).

The first photo was their original incarnation.  The theme of the party was the “Toes” song by the Zac Brown Band.  We even had PBR on tap.  It came from a couple days after we had first met.  My wife went to Country Fest and sent me a video of that song from the show.  It was one of the only country songs I even knew at the time.  In fact, in the on-line profile at the dating site where I met her, for musical tastes I wrote “anything but country”.  She loves country.  (I’ve actually recently been to my first Country Fest- and I survived it.)

(This cake has nothing to do with the cornhole theme of the post, but I had to share it.  It’s a cake that one of our bridesmaids had made for the Jill and Jill.)

Image

So, after the Jill and Jill the cornhole set sat in the basement for a while until I realized that it was such great entertainment for any party.  We dragged it out for our boy’s 8th birthday and I painted them sky blue.  I was going to put more a design on them, either an 8 or something Skylanders (the theme of the party) but I ran out of time.  (That’s probably okay, though, because he was much more interested in the bounce house we rented).

Image

Some friends have borrowed it on occasion, and we just used it again today for our church block party.  I spray painted the initials of the church on it:  “Trinity United Methodist Church“.  (As I was trying to mask the “M” with painters’ tape, I found myself wishing I was still a member of the United Church of Christ.)  I went with the sloppy look because the sign advertising the party has those block letters with the spray paint spilling over, too.  Image

Here’s the final version of their latest incarnation:

Image

And some good ol’ cornhole fun at the block party, with my wife, the referee:

Image

I ended up with a wicked sunburn, but had a great time.  Our boy got totally decked out in his balloon armor and I spent the rest of the afternoon holding everything so it wouldn’t pop while he played.

Image

I wonder how I’ll paint them next???

Kitchen Color!

IMG_7678

We have these grand plans of renovating the kitchen, building an addition to make it twice the size, and doing it all in Rachel Ray’s eggplant, orange, and lime green color combo (and by “we” I mean my wife).  Here’s Rachel Ray’s collection, if you can’t picture it:  http://www.rachaelraystore.com/Department/List/Bakeware/102-4294958180  I do kind of love the color combo.

That’s probably not going to happen any time soon (unless Rachel finds my blog and offers to pay for it all in a huge sponsorship/promotion extravaganza).  In the meantime, I’m trying to make things that help the wifey keep the tiny space we do have more organized and appealing for her to work in (thus motivating her to make more yummy stuff for me and the boy).

I picked up this little wooden Crayola crate at a thrift store in North Carolina when were on vacation last Spring and knew I wanted to save it for something perfect.  When she took an old spice rack off the wall (after realizing that the spices in there had likely been purchased when the first Clinton was in office) the spot it left was the perfect size for this box.

IMG_7430

I started off by putting a shelf it in from some old dresser drawer wood I cut down.  It’s just wood-glued in with two more pieces of wood as supports but feels pretty sturdy.  I painted the inside a vibrant purple, a little brighter than the purple from Rachel Ray’s collection, but it was similar to another accessory my wife made for the kitchen a week before (see below).  I  screwed in cup hooks before painting the outside because I didn’t have the right color paint for the outside yet and I was being impatient.  That was a silly thing to do, because then I ended up having to carefully paint and varnish around the hooks for every subsequent coat.

I only painted the top, bottom, and fronts with the green, because I really wanted to keep the sides with the Crayola logo on them visible.  It’s also a nice combo of her contemporary and my vintage aesthetics.  (Those sides are my favorite part.)

IMG_7680

It was still looking rather ordinary (as ordinary as a purple and lime green Crayola crate spice shelf can look), so I tore some pages from a second-hand Bacardi cookbook we picked up at a tag sale and decoupaged them in the backs of the shelves.  It’s kind of a nod to our honeymoon, which was in Puerto Rico and during which we toured the Bacardi factory.  I think they added the perfect touch.

IMG_7679

I also sanded the edges down a tiny little bit to distress it before slathering the whole thing with varnish (I won’t say it’s because my wife tends to be a little messy when she cooks so I wanted it to clean up easily because she took a wee bit of offense when I said that in my last kitchen post).  🙂

I’m also going to submit this to Make My Monday’s challenge this week:  Anything But a Card.   http://mimchallegeblog.blogspot.com/2013/08/midweek-motivation-anything-but-card.html  There are so many card and scrapbook challenges out there, it was nice to see this one deviate from that for this week.  (Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE me my card challenges!)

The other new addition to our slowly-becoming-colorful kitchen is a clothes pin recipe holder that the wife made at a super-fun workshop at my favorite local upcycle crafting haunt, Knack: (http://www.knack.org/).

IMG_7443

She and the boy worked on this one together.

Image-18

He helped us both paint (I was working on another one) and then he somehow found the most amazingly perfect glass fruit beads to decorate the clothespins.  A woman who had a huge bead collection was no longer able to use them because of arthritis, I think, and found it too hard to have them around the house so she donated them to Knack.  The collection was magnificent and this was such a great way to spread her love of beading far and wide, I think.

IMG_7338

These beads are so sweet- tiny little glass fruits- but my photos don’t do them justice.  Macey found the perfect glue to stick the glass to the wood (Amazing Goop) and so far the little suckers have held right on.  She also told me about this awesome web site, http://www.thistothat.com/, where you can select two different materials and it will tell you what glue to use.  It’s brilliant!!

I made one of these clothespin boards for my craft space, but I think I’ll save that post for another day.  School started today and the boy’s school this year starts a full hour earlier.  I was not happy waking up at 6am (and will probably not be happy doing it again tomorrow).

Vacation Bible Camp

Image

Wonder where I’ve been for the past week?  VBC!  It’s been a lot of fun but I’m SO GLAD IT’S OVER.  60 kids, 3 1/2 hours a day, and no air conditioning is really tiring.  Spending the rest of the day running around and trying to cram a summer’s worth of fun into 1 week with my own boy is EXHAUSTING!  For VBC, I led the Magnificent Missionaries, a group of 3 older kids (12 and 13 years old) who were responsible for presenting this year’s mission project.  This year, we chose the Society of St. Andrews, an amazing organization whose focus is on feeding people in the US who do not have enough food.  http://www.endhunger.org/  Part of what they do is glean potatoes and produce that would have otherwise been left to rot.  The farmers donate the left-over crops, volunteers glean, and they use donations to pay to ship the food to existing distribution centers (shelters, food kitchens and pantries, etc.).

We spent snack time with each age-group talking about the mission project; encouraging the kids to bring in money; and trying to keep them generally happy, healthy, and entertained.  My high-school assistant had actually gone on a mission trip to glean potatoes from a farm with SOSA 2 years ago and was able to share a lot about that experience.  I think it really motivated the kids to want to contribute.

One of my kids had a great lettering style and made posters with the “Hunger Facts” each day.  He did the “VBC” at the top of the post and here he is working on another poster:

Image

The grand total of what we raised was close to $250 (I didn’t count everything that came in tonight).  The curriculum provided by SOSA suggests trying to raise $60, so I think we did pretty darn well.  We learned that 6 cents will deliver 1 pound of gleaned potatoes to a hungry family.  $250 is a lot of potatoes!!

Image

There’s the “money-raised thermometer” that we colored in every day with, you guessed it, potato stamps.  The kids helped me make them in cute little hearts but then proceeded to use them to rub the paint around to form a solid fill.  I managed to sneak a pick from one of the littlest campers who didn’t quite get the “stamping in the lines” concept.

Image

I also resurrected my “treasure rocks” recipe and made 70 “rocks” with hidden coins to get our collection started on the first day.  Here’s my original post with the recipe:

https://craftymadre.com/2013/03/27/treasure-rocks-for-easter/

I was originally thinking I could call them “magic potatoes” but they turned out looking more like poop.  The kids had fun putting them in the vinegar and watching them fizz up, then reaching in and fishing around in the muck for the coins.  The littlest kids (a 3-4 year old group) really thought we were magicians (I hate to think how many of them might have gone home and tried to break open their own potatoes to find money).

Image

I ran out of time to do everything I wanted to do with them, so for the closing “family dinner”, I made little the table signs with some of the “Hunger Facts” we learned.  I used a potato stamp and some leaves I cut out from a left over index card I had painted with some greens, yellows, and crackle (practicing for another project I’ve been working on).

ImageAll-in-all, a good time was had by all.  My son’s favorite activity this year was “everything” (funny thing, that was his favorite thing last year, too).

Knack- My New Favorite Place!

IMG_6685

A pop-up store I went to last year has opened up permanently and I’m SO EXCITED.  The pop-up store was all arts and crafts made from upcycled materials.  I got a bunch of holiday gifts there last year.  The new space is like the pop-up store on steroids.  It was founded by two upcycle artists in the area who are so creative and talented that it makes me crazy!  Not only does it have great finished upcycled crafts to buy, but they have tons of upcycled materials to buy, as well.  And really cool, unique ones, at that.  The first time I went, I ended up with a bunch of clear VHS tape cases that I’m going to use to store supplies (6 for $1- who can beat that!?).  I also got some random metal objects that I want to experiment on with welding (I know, “experiment” and “welding” don’t sound like the safest combination- do not try that at home).

Here’s the link to their web site and they also have a Facebook page:

http://www.knack.org

IMG_6675

And the coolest part is that they have a crafting space and classes for kids every other weekend.  We’ve gone twice and had so much fun.  The first time, we decorated the handles of marshmallow sticks.  A local artist had donated the handles from a bunch of spatulas that he had only used the tops of for a piece (I’d love to see that). Amber used twisted wire to make a long skewer and then supplied home-made mod podge and tons of fabrics, yarn, paints, and stickers to decorate the handles.  Here’s mine (and the neat way she attached the wire to extend the handle):

photo-134

This is my wife’s.  I think hers is my favorite.  She put on letter stickers, painted over them, and pealed them off.

IMG_6671

And our boy with his:

IMG_6782

He won’t do crafts with me at home, but he’s loved doing these at Knack.  Maybe it’s because he’s a captive audience when we’re out.  Also, one of the women who owns the store has a couple boys about his age so I think she has his demographic in mind when selecting materials and projects.  (For this one, he found some camo fabric and who doesn’t like the prospect of making something that can be used to make s’mores?)

The next project we did was these simple but really cute bottle top hanging ornaments.  I think I know what our family craft for the holidays is going to be this year.  Try to guess whose is whose in the pictures below:

IMG_6836  IMG_6834photo-135

Okay, so I gave it away with the collage of our boy working on his.  But, I think it’s funny that my wife and our boy have a really similar ascetic.  (Yes, hers is the Batman/Catwoman themed one.)

If you’re going to be in Western Massachusetts (US), I totally suggest you check this place out!  There are endless possibilities  for ideas, materials, and inspiration.  Next week’s craft: wine bottle cork boats.  Can’t Wait!!!