July 12-14: This and that

July 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

The last few days have been busy. The kids are tired and today we stayed at home and made some boring art in the morning, which is so rare! I made a collage with the very few pictures I have access to:

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(The caption says that people in wealthier countries are happier, but I don’t believe it.)

and J. made a melting bead”Star Wars thing.” He did not specify what it was.

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It calmed down his hyperness from last night, when there were 30 guests at my dad’s house, all of whom brought him and O. gifts. Stressful, if you ask me. He requested an Angry Birds cake from my aunt who is a semi-professional baker, and this is what she brought:

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Featuring others’ creativity is usually my favorite part of this blog, and this cake is no exception. It tasted delicious too. O. got this cake:

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Yes, she ate some too. Yes, she was hyper too.

Finally, the day before yesterday I had no choice but to be nostalgic again as we saw an exhibit of ex-Yugoslav artifacts, from my childhood, before the wars. Most of the things seen here were a huge part of my growing up. I presume that every generation thinks that the world has gotten worse since their time. I know that I most certainly do.

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There was also cool art on the main street, and here is what some of it looked like:

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Entering the last week of blogging, with few art supplies. Hopefully I have internalized the need to create something every day, and wil continue even after I stop documenting it publicly. We’ll see.

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July 8 &9: Random acts of beauty, jams, and laughs

July 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

I am still just taking pictures. Today I spent time with the kids and an old friend, a photographer, at a cafe overlooking the city of Belgrade, getting advice on photography. While I was randomly clicking, J. found an empty mini wine bottle and filled it with leaves, flowers, and a bit of water. Instant beauty. I love it when that happens. I love the ease with which kids can create art (and chaos, but that’s a different story).

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(notice the sour cherry juice next to J’s bottle; it is nice to have many juice options at cafes, and not just apple and orange as we do at home)

Prior to that, my mom was making apricot jam, and I was loving the stunning orange of apricots being cooked, so I took a few pictures of them:

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For those who follow the blog regularly and remember a certain striped dress I featured a few days ago, here is a photo that goes with it (my sister’s first day of  first grade):

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Yesterday, little creativity happened, as I left the camera at home for a truly fun outing (as these things usually happen), and in the evening the kids insisted on being awake late and not letting me do anything, so I gave up and went to sleep myself. But, here is a magical moment of laughter that I caught earlier in the day:

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The universe is good to me. I wish I didn’t fear losing it all and savored it instead.

June 29-30: Kids making art

July 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

I love it when kids make art because they want to and not because you told them to. For example, J. went to drawing camp last week because he wanted to learn how to draw his lizard, and the camp was about drawing animals. He enjoyed every day of it, and on Friday he came home with all this:

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Maybe I am just a biased mom, but I think this is pretty darn good. And he was so proud:

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Yesterday, his best friend spent the day with us, and in the afternoon, they really wanted to paint outside, which I don’t blame them for, as it was a gorgeous day, and the garden looks fantastic these days.  They painted on the same paper but on the opposite sides of the easel, and when they were done, it looked like this:

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As you can see, we love displaying kids’ art in our house.

Then today we were at the art museum, which was packed since it was 90 degrees outside, and we spent time in our favorite part of the museum — the art resource room. J. was the one who didn’t want to leave. He made a few neat things, and was especially interested in printmaking. A book for his grandmother came out of that:

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The rest of us dabbled too, including O. who loves pencils and paper, and who today also drooled on paper and then punched a hole in it. You’ve got to encourage creativity from the youngest age, no?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAArt is a life-saver. I keep saying this, but I am amazed at what it does for J. He loves museums: he looks at the art, discusses it with me, watches the short movies about artists they show, and especially likes making things himself.

As for me, since this is my blog after all, I finally made some magnets, and packed them in little bags with handmade soaps I bought at the local soap store as gifts for friends. Because, folks, we are traveling overseas tomorrow, so I don’t think I will be posting for the next two days. Hopefully I will be back soon though. Until then, here are the magnets:

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June 19-22: Not much, actually

June 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

I lost track of days. I am not sure I know what was done when. I do know that I’ve been thinking about the fact that I started this year-long project with the intent of spending quality time with myself, doing some soul-searching and sacred art; but I ended up spending quality time with the kids, and running away from the issues I really need to deal with. Like my recent phobias. Anxiety. Loss of faith. But hey, it’s still been a great ride, and it’s almost over. I find myself wanting to do all kinds of project (like making gifts for people I will be seeing next week when we travel to the motherland), but feel too tired from the many demands I place on myself, so fall back instead of the safe and tried things we have done before.

So on Wednesday (I think), J. and I did a science experiment. We made little cardboard people dance with a balloon that was electrified with  a wool sweater. It didn’t quite work like the book promised it would, but there were a few moments of sheer magic there (not caught on film, as is often the case with magical moments) when one little person made a few cartwheels and bounced around:

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On Thursday we created with melting beads, which is nothing to write home about, and yesterday we bought a fabulous castle set at a garage sale for $5. We all spent some time building it. I love the detail, and the fact that you can build it ANY WAY YOU WANT! (take that Lego!). We also read some solstice stories and D. and I lamented the fact that we used to have Solstice celebrations and rituals, but now we just spend time with the kids until we are worn out. Anyway, happy summer! It is a complex time: summer  begins yet the days are already heading back into darkness. I dread another winter already.  But I digress. Here is the castle (after being destroyed by O. who also thinks it’s great):

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And today I photographed the newly painted pagoda in Pt. Defiance park.

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I actually snapped photos all day, but this is the one I really liked. Along with the one of J. chewing on a candy necklace:

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Now onto all those other projects I have lined up? Actually, no. Off to bed with a favorite book.

June 16: fishing, June 17: weaving, and June 18: whimsical

June 19, 2013 § Leave a comment

These days I am finding that 1-year-olds are *very* time-consuming and that teaching summer school is a silly idea. In terms of this blog it means that I have very little time to actually post anything. Right now, I am drinking cold coffee, keeping an eye on the baby, trying to eat breakfast and leave for work in 20 minutes.

So here is a brief update on our small artistic endeavors. Because some of them have indeed been very small.

On Sunday, J. went fishing for the first time. I had a lot of time on my hands, sitting on the grass with O. which meant I spent a lot of time taking pictures of daisies and her. I don’t think my photography is getting any better, but I do enjoy the moment of looking at something through a lens and thinking about how it will turn out.

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Monday included going to the local art store to buy J. some art supplies with a gift card he got for his birthday. So far the appeal has been more in buying them than in using them, but he did spend some time on the weaving loom, which they also use at school, and it seems he is missing school a bit. I also organized his art supplies and desk, throwing out the old, making room for new. Time consuming but liberating. Though I suppose I could have just sat out in the sun instead.

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And then there were kids with balloons

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The first few days of summer break went well. Lots of playing and lounging. And some balloons.

Last night was my favorite though. A long time ago, J. made me a collage kit that consisted of some construction paper, some scrapbook paper and some stickers. When clearing out his room, I pulled out the kit for us to use, at last.  I started with no idea about what I wanted to do, but then thought: “flower.” I got a pipe cleaner and made a flower. J., who had not been interested in joining me, all of a sudden got really excited, and we made this lovely whimsical landscape in a matter of minutes. Often I feel rushed when making art, or I feel like I have to accomplish something. Last night, I just had fun, and those ten minutes made me feel rested and calm, as crafting should. I look forward to more such experiences.

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June 2 and 3: Birthday gifts

June 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Things are busy in our little workshop. It’s O’s birthday on Friday, and we started making her gift a little too late. For his first birthday, J. got an altered book from me, and a collage story from dad. Of course we are doing the same for O. Dad will probably be done by Friday, but I procrastinated. I have lots of good ideas though, so whenever it’s done, it will be good. Here are snapshots of what I have so far:

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It will be a book about being strong and powerful, and it will feature all the goddesses that bring blessings and abundance.

J. is also making his sister a gift, a cloth doll. He also just started. This is what he has so far:

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And while this is going on, we are also conducting a science experiment, with one of those things that grow in water. We have an ear that looks too real and disgusting! and we are seeing how much it will grow. In the process, J. is getting a lesson about area and counting unit squares.

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It’s still growing!

May 29-June 1: Mosaic, beads, and failures

June 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have decided to post less frequently. During the day I may have time to make art, but not to write about it, and at night I am just too tired. I keep waiting for someone to come and tell me, “Hey, why don’t you take some time for yourself?” but no one will say that if I don’t.

I spent the whole morning trying to make mozzarella and it failed miserably, so now I am grumpy. But here is what we did in the last three days:

Wednesday, J. and I made a mosaic at the glass museum. A clever craft: you glue pieces of glass on a CD with white glue. Simple, pretty.

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Thursday, we were at the coffee shop as usual, and O. was practicing her journal writing

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which means that I wasn’t. We were a little creative later on that night when we went to a friends’ house for pizza, where we helped put on the toppings, which included nasturtium and calendula leaves (they tasted great), and made silly bead necklaces. J. made one that said “Joe M. loves you” for his best friend, and I made him this one:

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It’s a reminder for both of us.

Then last night I spent hours trying to learn to put together a Rubik’s cube, but all I got was this:

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This, too, makes me grumpy.  This blog is clearly not about my stellar successes in art, problem solving, and homemade living.

So as a consolation prize, here is a picture of a fascinating phenomenon: a shedding lizard.

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May 26 and 27: Cheeses and messages

May 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

The long weekend and too much milk in the refrigerator prompted me to make some cheese. I made paneer yesterday (no pictures, sorry, but I posted about it once before), and am making cream cheese today. It will be done tomorrow night.  The book I use is called Homemade Living: Home Dairy with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Cheese, Yogurt, Butter & More. I just make the easy cheeses that require only milk, liquid rennet, calcium chloride, lemon juice,  and mesophilic cultures. I get my cheesemaking supplies online, most of them from Lehman’s (except from calcium chloride, which they don’t sell). I make cheeses that require very little work and are ready to eat right away. We ran out of tofu yesterday and ate our stir fry with paneer instead, and were quite pleased.

The little artist was busy with different projects, but my favorite was writing a message he wants to put in a bottle and throw into the Puget Sound (no photos, sorry, it’s kind of private). He wrote “We are not the only living things on Earth,” and he swears he came up with it by himself. Sometime, that kid is such a mystery. The message launch will happen when it stops raining here (or when we get flooded, so we can just drop it into the water from our window).

 

 

May 21-24: sewing and pottery

May 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

Once I realized that I can skip a day of blogging without feeling too bad, I started doing it more often. This week is a good example of that. But, with three finals behind me, all graded, I can now temporarily return to that other life, the one in which I don’t have to grade papers until midnight, one in which I can be creative by choice and not because I am bound by a resolution from last year. I can return to daily posts.

Although I haven’t been blogging, we have still been active in our home. J. and I have decided  to take up sewing. There is a book called Sewing with felt that we picked up from the library, and, after buying some new felt (recycled & U.S. made) and embroidery floss, we got to work. Here is the product of two evenings of sewing:

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The one in the middle is a nautical flag. The hearts are filled with soybeans, which make great beanbags.

And today we did something a little out of character, but so much fun! We went to the Painted plate place where J. and I picked out a piece to paint, while drinking coffee and cocoa. What fun, even if we didn’t quite fit the typical customer profile. He was sweet and calm and we had a good time just doing something together instead of our usual banter.

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We pick up the fired and glazed pieces in five days. Stay tuned.

May 9 and 10: Featured artist

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

While I have been losing steam and cheating a bit on this project, another artist in the family has kept up the good work. Last night, we made another heart book, for his second teacher (the aide). He took them to school this morning, and I hear the teachers were pleased.

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I did the usual work of cutting and punching holes.

This afternoon he brought my Mother’s Day gift home from school, which I made him give up early, because I knew what it was: a felt flower.

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Quite fantastic if you ask me.

And how have I been creative? I’ve been writing finals. I assure you, it’s creative, though exhausting work.

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