Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kid Summer Project: Quills

Today we hope to make quills at the request of my oldest son. We tempered the feathers yesterday by putting the base of the feather in heated sand and letting it cool. Tempering is not required but supposedly lengthens the use of the quill.

The idea for making a quill came up late in the day. We didn't have enough time before bedtime to tackle the project, so tempering seemed like a step in the right direction following inspiration. Today, we have all the time in the world.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big Box Continues to Deliver

Not a big box store. Simple a big box. This box fortuitously entered Camp Ramshackle over a month ago. It has been used as a slide, a scooter ramp and a trampoline not to mention shelter and a den. Much more ragged for the wear, it continues to be a cornerstone of play.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrating Summer with Ganache

Today was the first week day where we did not have to suit up for school. My oldest son's school ended on Friday. He woke up gleeful about the possibilities of "taking it easy". To celebrate, I baked some gluten free cupcakes (admittedly from a box) then topped them with dairy free dark chocolate ganache. The ganache is fantastic.

Typically ganache is made with heavy cream. I used coconut milk instead with delicious results. A foodie friend gave me the hot tip to use coconut milk. I used a Sirius dark chocolate bar with 56% cacao.

The skeletal recipe:
equal parts coconut milk and dark chocolate bar

Coarsely cut the chocolate and place in mixing bowl. Heat the coconut milk over medium flame until it begins to steam. Pour coconut milk over the chocolate and stir until creamy. Spoon ganache over confection of choice.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

From the Hive

Last hive inspection, we were surprised the bees had produced very little honey. The tide has turned. I'm delighted to see that the bees I've seen all over my garden have been busy making honey. Eric harvested some honey and did a bit of rearranging inside the hive to make more room for the bees. As always, the honey is delicious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hammock Time

Although we are all season hammock using family, the arrival of summer is yet another reason to celebrate the hammock.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Yet Again: The Return of the Egg

Our ability to keep nesting birds out of our outdoor tent is laughable.

The birds built a nest in the far entrance and laid an egg. Now we wait.

Our humane owl bird control failed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Common Thread Tote Bag Class

Owner Jin Kim (center), author, writer & tote bag student Ernessa T. Carter (left)

Months ago, I bought a Groupon for Common Thread Studio in South Pasadena. Common Thread Studio is one of those places that I love to visit, but somehow, I never made time to take a class there or schedule a sewing session. I took advantage of Groupon and a pending expiration date to get my A into G.

Although I was seriously tempted to take the Detail Couture class, I signed up for the Tote Bag class because I wanted a take away. Owner Jin Kim lead the class and made the pattern for the tote bag with a sweet pleat (see last photo). I love taking sewing classes. As a self-taught sewer, I always find it incredibly informative to sit in a session and learn from the pros, like Jin, who is also a designer.

My first serged seam.

In addition to classes, Common Thread Studio offers studio rental for $10/hour, first two hours ($8/hour after). While renting studio space, you have access to a great commercial grade serger, sewing machines, cutting table, iron and the luxury of spreading out your work area.

Classmate Joy & her beautiful tote bag.

In July and August, Common Thread Studio offers Sewing Summer Camp for budding designers ages 8-17. Judging from last year's photos, it looks like a great experience.

I finished my tote bag with just enough time to pick up my kids from school (ended yesterday for the youngest and next week for the oldest. Hello summer!). Common Thread Studio also has a kid area with toys and a chalkboard in the back behind plexiglass. I think I'm going to throw caution to the wind and take advantage of studio rental time this summer. Some time in Common Thread Studio for me with a bit of ice cream at Buster's for the boys. What project should I tackle?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Tale & Tail of a Lizard Catch

The intrepid hunter stalks her prey.

Caught by loveliness.

An ejected tail gifted to a friend.

And held close to his heart.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

El Rio Charter School's Art Auction

Sage Vaughn, serigraph & hand painting, 36"x48"

A preview of some of the art to be auctioned this Saturday, June 11th, 2011, at the El Rio Launch Party to be held at Tiara Cafe in Downtown LA. Learn more about the event at Tapas tickets for $40 are still available. The dinner portion of the fundraiser.

Ron Russell, "Novenpus", acrylic on masonite, 4"x4"

Seonna Hong, "Into the Forest", giclee print, 5"x8.5"

Andy Mueller, "Mercedes Benz", photograph

More information on the artists and tickets to the event at the El Rio blog.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eat Play Give: Help Start a School in Northeast Los Angeles

I hope you'll join me this Saturday, June 22th, 2011, El Rio Charter School (disclosure: I'm a board member) is hosting El Rio Launch Party / Fund Raiser / Art Auction

Please join us for the launch of the fundraising campaign for El Rio Charter School to be held at Tiara Cafe, in downtown Los Angeles, on Saturday, June 11th. Buy a ticket to the launch party through giftberry.

Art Auction: The evening will include a silent art auction featuring work from a fantastic group of artists – mostly based in LA – whose work has been shown around the world. Donate to a great cause and nab a beautiful piece for yourself. All proceeds will benefit El Rio Charter School. You must attend to bid on the artwork. A preview of the pieces up for auction can be found here. Check back often as we are still adding pieces.

There will be great food, fantastic art and lots of fun for a worthy cause. Get your ticket before they are gone! Got questions about the event?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

IKEA Couch Jump Trials

I managed to find a modest couch jump photo to share and have quite a few laughs in the process. If only Congressman Anthony Weiner had tweeted his naked couch jump instead of his questionable self-portrait...he might have been able to spin it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Why I Love My IKEA Couch

When Eric and I bought the Ramshackle compound in 2002, our eight foot sofa did not fit our tiny new home. Despite being house poor, we took a trip to IKEA and bought a couch with some Danish inspired name. We didn't over think the purchase. The couch fit into our smaller house. It looked okay, but we didn't swoon. The couch seemed serviceable. We couldn't stretch out for the long indulgent naps like our previous sofa, but it fit in the living room without stretching into the dining area or covering any doors.

Two years later, kids entered the picture. As they grew, the couch became a jumping couch. Not just little jumps but big catapult jumps from the bookshelf down, flips, dives and more. I looked for one of the many jumping couch pictures but was unable to find one without a naked kid.

After years of steady jumping, it began to develop a serious squeak when you sat down. Eric and I figured the couch was a goner, being a cheap IKEA couch. Eric flipped it on end, found that the frame could be tightened (no doubt with an allen wrench, but I don't remember exactly). When he righted it, the squeak was gone, the jumping resumed.

In addition to being sturdy, the cover is completely removable. I thrown it into the washing machine many times, always amazed how well it cleans. The fabric has started to give at the impact zone of the jump, however. I continue to patch it and be thankful for my cheap IKEA couch.

Let the jumping resume.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorable Memorial Day

We camped on Santa Cruz Island, one of the Channel Islands in California.

The extended weekend came with severe winds, great food, good people.
More to come.

Note From Eric: Thanks to our friends Chrisitie and Greg for inviting us to share such a memorable time with them and their great group of friends. It was a fantastic place to visit and an amazing group of people.