Sunday, November 27, 2011

Unfinished Masterpieces

Like Schubert and his famous symphony, we all have things that are unfinished.
Take, for instance, our wonderful clay creations from October. I was told to give them a week for firing and then another week if we wanted them glazed. So, two weeks later, Bethany and I dutifully carted five children all the way back to the art studio to paint their pieces.

But first, cupcakes from the local cupcake shop.
They even have vegan cupcakes for Josh.
Yes, they were on coupons.
How did you guess?
I forgot to take photos until all had devoured them except Thomy, who is the slowest eater in the world.
Even slower than his father.

Everyone got one to eat and one for later.
The funny-looking one in the corner is Natalie's unfinished cake.

We drove all the way to the studio and the kids, all excited, ran to the shelves where the fired pieces are kept and......nothing.
Well, one of mine was fired, and Kenzie's snake, but nothing else.
Oh, it takes at least two weeks for them to be fired, I was informed.
I was irritated, but there was nothing to be done.
Misinformation seems to be commonplace these days.

I had one coupon left (remember Josh's reluctance to get involved?) so Natalie worked on some ceramics pieces, with a little help from Mom. 

I took the other kids outside to play in the parking lots.
First, we ate the remaining cupcakes.
Thomy let me eat his.
Then we played hide-and-seek.
Here's Thomy, counting very quickly to twenty.

Kenzie, dashing around one of the parked vans.

That didn't last long, so I introduced them to "What's the time, Mr. Wolf?", only to be told that it is Mr. Fox, not Mr. Wolf.

This vehicle had a huge vacuum hose attached to the back and the worker was manually shifting the hose to suck up the leaves.

That was a long line of piled leaves.
See, kids, I said, seizing a Nana teaching moment, that's why you need a good education. You don't want to spend you lives being the vacuum guy. Can you imagine doing that all day?
That looks like fun, said Daniel, who could not be persuaded that aspiring to be vacuum guy was not a desirable thing.
The boys stare longingly at the vacuum vehicle.

We played Hot Lava on the way back to the studio to check on Natalie and Mom.

They were done.
Can I do one of those pictures, Nana, asked Josh.
Um. No!
Too little, too late, the scurvy scoundrel.

Daniel was mortally disappointed when Bethany announced she was too tired for a stop at Costco, so I suggested we stop at this man-made lake on the way home.

We took our kids there once, about twenty years ago, when it was still wild and free.
Now, it is landscaped and surrounded by restaurants and shops.

All the signs say Do Not Feed the Ducks and proceed to give you a very logical and environmental reason why not.
Photo of said ducks, courtesy of Daniel.

One last kick of the leaves before we left for home.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like...


This is Jeff's idea of appropriate Thanksgiving table decor.

In the spirit of gratitude, I said Thank you, dear.

Our little gathering of six adults and six children was par for the course this year.
Chris smoked the turkey in his Traeger grill. It was delicious.

Bethany made craft packets for the kids. Mostly, they were too busy running around being rumbunctious to complete them, but Natalie and Josh enjoyed theirs.

Bethany is a hair away from being in her ninth month of pregnancy. 
Her fifth child.
She has no room in her stomach for food and no room in her lungs for air and can't bend down to tie her shoelaces, but she soldiers on.
I can't even remember how that felt, although I did it four times.
Funny how memory plays tricks on us.

Jon and his family were late.
As always.
Jon works the night shift and Thanksgiving is always difficult. He has to wake up and get ready for work, eat with us, then leave for work right after he eats.
We started without them because all the food was ready, but the Mitchell kids flocked to the kitchen when they arrived, knowing that Jenny was bringing her famous Jello.
Here is Jon, looking....sardonic?

I have scaled down my festive cooking since we mostly only have the offspring to holiday dinners any more.
I made mashed potatoes, corn, peas, gravy, rolls, and four kinds of pie.
The fact of the matter is, none of the four adult guests are big eaters and the six grandchildren hardly eat real food. And none of them like leftovers.
But they do love my rolls.
I think Bethany felt sorry for me when she eyeballed the amount of food left.
Don't worry Mom, she said, next year Sam and Charlie will be here and then there won't be so many leftovers.

When Jeff and I were alone again, I sighed and said to him Maybe I should just make rolls.

Let me know if you want to come over on Christmas Eve and make me happy by eating my feast.
Second thoughts, how about some of that turkey?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Masterpieces

I succumbed to the lure of Living Social yet again, so last Friday the four oldest grandchildren and I paid another visit to My Masterpiece Art Studio. 
This was Josh's first time and he refused to choose a project.
That's okay, I said, you can watch for a while and choose something later.
He gave me The Look.

In case you didn't know, Josh is not easily swayed.
The other three chose some masterpiece knock-offs.
Thomy chose coloured pencils as his medium and got right to work.

Kenzie chose Degas ballerinas, of course. With a little instruction from moi and a copy of the real thing she was well on the way to her own masterpiece.

She used pastel chalks and learned how to smudge and overlay the colours.

Do you want to choose a project Josh? she asked every few minutes.
He merely looked on.

Daniel used a variety of mediums.
Josh observed intently.

Josh, you ready to start something?

Thomy is an artistic savant and allows nothing to distract him from the work at hand.
He finished first and favoured the camera with his ohboyit'stimetosmileatthecamera face.

What's Josh doing?
I don't know.

Daniel got impatient and had to be cajoled into colouring the walls.
I helped.
But he finished it and made a present of it to Papa when we got home.

Kenzie stuck to it and I was personally quite impressed with the finished result.
She said it was for Natalie for Christmas.

The second project, chosen by all and sundry, was clay sculpting.
There was so much clay that I sat down and played with it too.
Do you want to make something with the clay, Josh?
Nothing but The Look as he cleaned out the potato chip bag.

I made a tile and persuaded him to put his handprint in it. The idea caught on and the other three made some too.
Josh warmed up and eventually made a few sculptures of his own.
Hah! Nana wins!
At which point I discovered I had left my camera's SD card in my laptop at home and its memory was all used up. 
So all you get is a pic of the brilliant fall colours we passed en route to....

...Coldstone Creamery, where we used up another Living Social coupon and bought ice cream for the kids and a caramel-pecan turtle pie to take home for the grown-ups.

Only the aforementioned kids were still hungry, so they ate most of it.

It was an enormously fun day with the grandkids. I love experiencing their personalities and watching the cousins interact. Because I grew up in a small family with no extended family nearby, I revel in my role as Nana and facilitator of memories like these.

Life is good and I have many blessing to count.
Care to hazard a guess at what my masterpieces are?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Metamorphosis of a crop

First, there was this:

In spite of all my whinging, the tomato crop ended up being quite fantastic this year. I give all the credit to my nifty my-Dad-would-be-so-proud-of-me tomato cages. If we had been home throughout the whole month of September, it would have been even better. 

Memo to self: quit planning extended trips for early fall.

I roasted about half of the crop and canned the rest. My freezers are absurdly full so I left a jarful of the roasted variety in my fridge. 

Last week, I had a hankering for homemade pizza. Actually, it was partly a hankering and partly my cunning plan to feed Jeff so well that he forsakes his cunning plan of sneaking-into-fast-food-joints-every-excuse-he-can-summon.

So I made a simple crust in the bread machine.
I sliced red peppers and mushrooms and red onions.
I chopped some Canadian bacon that should have been used long ago but was somehow still botulism-free.
I pureed those tomatoes and added some Italian seasoning and some of that nasty premixed spaghetti seasoning that tastes so yummy.
I pulled out the bag of Sorrento Unltimate Pizza Shred that is a hearty blend of Mozzarella, Bel Paese, Asiago, Provolone, and Parmesan cheeses. It is the best pizza cheese I have ever tasted.

I divided the dough into two pieces, slathered it with plenty of olive oil, and let it rest for a few minutes on two pizza stones. Once it had rested, it was easy to stretch it out in a semblance of a circle. 
Then I sprinkled the veggies and meat liberally on the crust. Just onion and C. bacon on my portion.
At which point I realized that I had forgotten to spread the sauce on the crust.
Oh well. I just dolloped it over the toppings and spread it out as best as I could.
Then, lots of cheese.
And, just a few minutes later we had this:

It was one of the best pizzas I have ever made.
In spite of the dolloped sauce.
Jeff took a couple of slices for lunch every day so far this week and didn't complain once.

Now I'm hungry.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just havin' a little fun....

I know, I've been a slacker.
Blame it on Monarch of the Glen, my new Netflix addiction.
I think in a Scottish accent these days.

I spent some time editing tonight and here are the results.
Some of them are tacky, but I'm pretty new at this extreme editing thing.

At least they weren't all giant-sized!