The solo trip to Santa Fe was amazing. I will post more photos and write about all the inspiring sights, funny experiences, and wonderful food soon—but right now I'm going to unpack and take a vacation from my vacation. Thanks for all the tips!
The solo trip to Santa Fe was amazing. I will post more photos and write about all the inspiring sights, funny experiences, and wonderful food soon—but right now I'm going to unpack and take a vacation from my vacation. Thanks for all the tips!
A review copy of a book I was sent recently completely knocked my socks off—Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000 by Roderick Kiracofe
This is a beautiful book. Big, heavy, and thick, showcasing amazing quilts and fascinating essays by various quilt and textile historians, makers, and museum curators. There are essays by Natalie Chanin, Denyse Schmidt, Kaffe Fassett, to name a few. Janneken Smucker writes an interesting piece about the myths of the history of quilt making, challenging the commonly held belief that quilts were always made of scraps and came from a "make-do" mentality.
It took me awhile to actually read the essays because I was so mesmerized by the quilts, which are all from Roderick Kiracofe's collection. This books makes my heart skip a little every time I open it. I love quilts that are "off" and all of them have this quality. There is so much inspiration in here—I can only look at a few quilts at a time. It's a very special book.
It's new book season already and I was so excited to receive a review copy of Sally J Shim's new book, Pretty Packages: 45 Creative Gift-Wrapping Projects. Sally and I have been friends for a long time now (I wish you still lived here, Sally!) and she is a really wonderful person who loves life, travel, food, and design. And she has a great sense of humor. As a designer she has a keen eye and a sophisticated minimal style and this book captures all that perfectly.
This book is so HAPPY. It makes me smile looking through it. The girls ripped it out of my hands when it came. These are some of my favorite wrapping ideas from her book. It's full of simple, easy to reproduce ideas with a less is more style that is really lovely. Here's a project from the book, super cute!
We had a lovely time in Sunriver, Oregon recently. There were no swan encounters. We saw one, but she was not aggressive with us. There was lots of bike riding, swimming, and canoeing. We like to go after school has started—it much quieter at the pool and on the ike trails. There is this magic quality to the light during early September. It's not quite fall but not summer either.
Delia started knitting hand warmers while we were there. Super easy, no pattern. I will show it soon. She knit a swatch long enough to fit around her wrist, counted the stitches then knit a flat piece with a little ribbing at the top and bottom. She sewed it up, making a tube, and left an opening for a thumb hole. She's finished one, and wears it. Just the one. It's black yarn with reflector thread in it so it glows in the dark. Perfect.
These blackened cod fish tacos were from the Sunriver Brewing Company. They were very good, a bit soupy, but that's often the case with fish tacos, it's not a complaint. They offered these with flour/corn blended tortillas, just corn, or no tortillas, which I thought was funny. A fish taco without a taco shell. I went for the corn. From the menu:
"pan seared blackened cod, shredded cabbage, chipotle aioli, pico de gallo."
I was really hungry when I ate these which means they were delicious. It was just Pete and I and we talked about the Murakami books we are both reading right now and got all weirded out discussing them.
These fish tacos were from Worthy Brewing Company in Bend and made with delicious blackened steelhead. They were made with flour tortillas which bummed me out. Again, I forgot to ask if they could use corn. I was quite pleased each taco had their own lime wedge. I love lime and never have enough. These were hard to eat with being gross, but the awkwardness of the avocado was well worth it. Fish tacos are not date food. The mango salsa was good. There were a lot of TVs in this place.
Sarah Neuburger, my dear friend and the genius behind The Small Object is retiring her stellar ready-made rubber stamp line. This created a small panic in our house. I looked in every box and drawer to make sure we had them all—now is the perfect time to snatch them up! They are 50% off until she no longer has any left. Perfect for holiday gifts and stocking suffers. You can find them here! They are selling fast, so some of these might not be available anymore.
Emily's newest book is out, Day Dreamers, and it's so beautiful—it's been on heavy rotation at our house. It's a companion to her equally stunning Dream Animals, and I love how these two books look side by side. I was thrilled to see her sketches before they were painted in her blog post for this newest book. There's a masterful loosness to her work in this newest book and that makes me sigh and smile. I love how she draws movement, so fluid and light.
Come celebrate with her! (And make her sign stuff!) She is having an event in Portland for Day Dreamers at Green Bean Books on Saturday, September 6th, at 2:00.
When I am cleaning out the fridge and getting anxious about veggies not being eaten, I pickle them. Right away. It takes about 5 minutes and then I feel so much better. I have been using this basic sweet/salty vinegar recipe from the Momofuku cookbook for a few years now. I memorized it, or something similar that works for me, and I use it for everything. It's pretty forgiving. There's one here, but I use much less sugar. Here's my brine:
I heat the water and sugar until the sugar dissolves and pour it over the cut veggies and add the rest of the ingredients. To prep the veggies, I slice them in the food processor with the slicing blade, which is my best friend. The radish one stinks to high heaven, but not as much as the daikon and carrot one I made, which makes the girls scream and run out of the kitchen every time I open it. Pete just said it's hard to capture the smell in text. I love the way it tastes so much. Especially on fish tacos!
Unrelated: Books I want to read soonish
There's a fascinating piece about him here.
I love fish tacos. I sometimes forget this and then when I remember I get excited because they are so easy to find. They remind me of pizza—there is much variety and quality in this one dish. Fancy, fusion, good, bad, bad in a good way, so-so, and gross. They pop-up in unlikely places, which makes them even more exciting and at times questionable. Recently, I had 3 different fish tacos three days in a row (I only thought to photograph these two) and I felt the need to start this ridiculous yet delicious project.
These aren't really reviews of fish tacos exactly, more like descriptions. I can't really give them stars. That would be too difficult to figure out. I try to avoid any that are terrible, but when it comes to fish tacos, I'm not very picky. I find my enjoyment of a fish taco is directly proportional to how hungry I am when I'm eating them. I love how small they usually are, so I can grab one as a snack. I've had so many around town I thought I'd start to list them and take photos for fun because it's a blog so, you know, I can write about fish tacos.
Now, when I am out and about if I can find a fish taco nearby (especially if it's new to me) I feel I have completed a special mission. My family is patient and supportive. As I eat my fish tacos, I will add them to my new fish taco category. These are all in Portland unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to add your favorites in the comments.
These salmon fish tacos are from Fishbox, which is a cart on Belmont. They were delicious, spicy and very good. I do like corn tortillas better than flour, that's my only quibble. Maybe they can make them with corn tortillas, I didn't ask. I think this was grilled or blackened salmon. And I did say spicy, didn't I? These are a fusion type thing—I think some wasabi was in there. I liked them a whole lot, but the spiciness of the sauce kind of overpowered the salmon taste. Pete got the salmon sandwich which he said was amazing. 8/2014
These Baja fish tacos came from Salvador Molly's and they were very filling and tasty. They were so filling I couldn't eat the rice and beans. They have battered fish with a garlic-lime aioli crema and picked onions. They were very good, but heavy. I felt a little sad later, but I think that's because I don't do well with fried food in general, no matter how often I try to deny it. 8/2014
I bought this very lightweight printed linen at Jospehine's Dry Goods over the weekend. Josephine's recently re-opened in a new location and I hadn't been there yet. It's such a lovely shop. The very small shop is beautifully merchandised and the selection of fine garment fabrics is outstanding. They have more Liberty than I have ever seen in one shop before. They also carry lovely wool suiting. I also bought this sewing pattern by Sew House Seven (local talent) and am eager to sew it up. I almost didn't find the shop—the entrance to the store is through a lobby, look for signs, it's right next to Koi Fusion on Division. Right now I am sewing Delia's fall coat, I'm hoping to get that done before I start this dress.
I have been getting some questions lately from local people and online about how we pick our themes and how we learn about them together with multiple ages. I received this e-mail a bit back, which has better wording than I have right now in my brain, so I'm going to just quote it—
" . . .I was wondering if you could share a little about how you and your daughters choose topics to study. I'm homeschooling a 9 year old and an almost-4 year old and I think it would be a lot easier if we did some multi-age unit studies together; rather than two separate "grade levels" at once. For instance... Do you just ask your kids what they're most interested in or do you choose? Where/how do you go about picking resources? How do you move on to the next topic? . . .you seem to be able to engage your children of different ages at the same time under whatever topic you're studying . . ."
This is such a huge subject that I sat with this e-mail unanswered for over a month. I mean, I can just tell you what we do— we lay around on the couch, bounce ideas off each other, pick themes. Some seem to be good, others not as exciting. I usually have a few suggestions based on books I have already found about a theme. Then we pick one and just go for it. They never argue about it. I don't know why. I think it's because they know we don't know what we will find; it's a treasure hunt and they are curious to find out what it's all about. Plus, they trust that if it's not super engaging, we will move on. They aren't worried about getting bored. The process usually takes about 4 minutes. My research is ongoing. I often have squirreled away books and lists for theme ideas that I know have really good material. Sometimes I have no clue what we will find and that is fun, too. We tend to focus on people to start the themes, not abstract theories or events. Issac Newton and Florence Nightingale lead us to the theory of gravitation and the Crimean War. We also like mash-up themes, like Picasso and cheese. I write a bit about this process in various posts in the learning section of this blog, but it's kind of buried in the posts and the comments.
We all work on these themes together, but the ages and personalities take them in different directions. When learning about Emily Dickinson, Sadie (11) loved reading her poems over and over, and I think even acted them out in her room, but I'm not sure. The door was closed. Delia (9) was really into the bookbinding that Emily did and started down that road and Lydia (7) loved Emily's botanical research and explored flower and plant pressing and identification. We started all these topics together, but then each girl went off down their own path, which I helped them with individually for several weeks. The paths would wind and change and I would just change with them. This whole time I was reading aloud her poems and a historical fiction book with a young Emily Dickinson narrator.
I was telling someone the other day (my mom, or husband?) the specific theme we decide on isn't terribly important for us. Choosing themes is fun, but it's the surprises when we start researching that is so exciting. Many of our favorite themes that we stayed on for months were unexpected—like Dickens, or Mythology. And who knew about Mozart's wildly talented sister?
I have no idea what will grab them at first, and neither do they, but they know it when we discover it and it just takes off. I just have to be ready, recognize when it happens and respond with resources, supplies, and most of all, energy. I feel a little like a juggler, but not in a bad way. I don't worry about having them remember all the details of a theme. Teaching them to learn, that's my goal, and that seems to be what works best for all of us. Having said that, they all love to be "tested" on dates and hard details, which cracks me up and is so NOT what I thought they would want to do. But I'm so glad they told me. They are proud of what they learn and like to have a sense of mastery before we move on to a new theme. We usually just do this verbally, sometimes written, and there is much fanfare. There might be a time when the girls will want to run with a theme just by themselves, completely separate, and that will be fine, too.
Right now we are learning about the Russian Revolution and Anastasia. I found a ton of books from the library and looked online a bit. We were just finishing up watching Fiddler on the Roof, which gave me the idea for this theme. Yesterday, after printing out images for our wall where we put our theme photos, they got obsessed with the history around Fabergé eggs, so we are learning about that this week and making eggs and I am trying to gather materials for that. When I suggested Anastasia, I didn't have a Fabergé egg component in mind, but here we are and it's awesome.
They are all different in the way they learn. Sadie is all about data and lists, so she is making her own Fabergé book with all the images she can find and classifying them with the dates, titles, descriptions, etc. Delia and Lydia want to make their own eggs, and are interested in jewelry making. There are books on making Fabergé-style eggs, and I think it might even be covered in an old Martha magazine? I'm pretty sure it is. I need to look this up.
During all this I am reading to them both non-fiction and fiction about the Russian Revolution, in bits and pieces and threading it all together. I keep touching base with the theme we are studying and also reminding them of what we have already learned historically and how it's related to WWI, and I connect how Downton Abby season 1 and 2 was around this time, and what was happening here in the US in 1917. They are well versed in all the historical American Girls, and this is Rebecca's time, whose family came from Russia.
When we are done with a theme (sometimes a month, usually 2-3 months) we keep all our images and projects in a big blank sketch book, so they can flip through it and talk about what they remember from each theme, which is pretty great. We have been homeschooling always and doing more formal themes like this for over 5 years now, so there there's a lot in these books to look at.
One thing that really helps them connect with this material is starting with a story rather than just facts. Historical fiction plays a big role here. For instance when we talk about Thailand now, they all remember the book we read about the little girl in a refuge camp, which made a huge impression on them, even if some of the details of Thailand are forgotten.
This is only a slice of what we do during the day. They have a lot of free time dancing and reading on their own and playing music, working on their own projects, often from our theme ideas. I realize the question was about picking themes, not about what our day is like, but, of course it's all related so it's hard to extract one part. This process was a little different for us when they all were younger, but I have always used books as a starting point—various fiction, all the American Girl historical books, and when they were really little, The Magic Treehouse series and the corresponding research guides. I still read those with Lydia and she loves the research guides especially.
Okay, I know this is long. I'm going back in the tent now, which has been up in our backyard for a few days. There's something pretty great about 3 kids and a pug in a tent.
I stitched this birthday gift for a friend recently. I am 99% done with my latest cross-stitch, but I needed a break. I used Renaissance Dyeing wool thread on linen fabric, backed with muslin. It's my own design, a bunny perched on top of a huge strawberry. Right after I finished this piece I saw these small animals stitched by Chloe Giordano, and oh my word. She uses thread. Sewing machine thread. You have to look.
I finished Greensleeves, which came up on the Secret Book post, and loved it so much. It's very hard to find this out-of-print book and it's such a good read, I'm going to loan it out to any of you who want to read it. It's already headed to someone, and I hope to get in back in a couple months, so if you are interested and don't mind waiting, I will put you on the list. Just e-mail me. It would be super swell if you want to add some notes/thoughts in the back, or maybe we can have a small book to write in to go along with it? Or a sheet of paper tucked inside? We can make it like a traveling book group. Tia, I didn't mention this when I sent it your way, so let me know what you think. I have also attached a book loan check-out pocket with a stampable due date. This is a high school library copy, so has it has it's own pocket and date-stamps from 1969 on up, which is charming to look at and ponder about all the high school kids that read it.
I'm not sure when I learned how to make this easy textured paper, I think it was in a box making class in college. I was obsessed with it for a while and made stacks and used it quite a lot in various projects and then moved on and tucked this knowledge into the back corners in my brain for years. Lydia wanted to make a treasure map recently and we thought distressed textured paper would be prefect, and my brain remembered this easy technique. Go brain! This might be super common knowledge, but it just came back to me, so I'd thought I'd share.
This works great with text-weight everyday printer paper. I also love using brown paper bags from the grocery store. I had the girls crumple it up in a tight ball and then un-flatten it, about 5-8 times. It gets softer and softer and seems to shrink. Making a tight ball is important.
This is after the crumple-flattening about 5 times.
Iron it with a hot dry iron. They love to iron!
Done! This makes wonderful decorative paper for making cards and envelopes, and for covering boxes and wrapping gifts— if you use brown, it kind of looks like leather. For treasure maps we use grocery bags and rub in some dirt and and rip it up a bit and burn a little bit in the middle and on the edges, because who doesn't like to burn stuff!?
I am close to finishing this cross stitch project. the pattern is by Stacy Nash Primitives and it's called Basket of Flowers Pinkeep. I want to get back to some crewel work. I have enjoyed doing this, but I get a little twitchy when I stitch so many X's.
I'm reorganizing (mostly down-sizing) my craft/sewing room, focusing on the two huge bookshelves. It's taken two weeks, but I am almost done. I plan to "shop my craftroom" for the next year (I could for probably do this for 5 years) and try to lay-off adding more craft books and supplies, now that I can see and organize what I actually have. It feels good, but it was so hard to stick with it—I was willing to do anything to avoid working on it, including cleaning out the fridge and the freezer.
I am almost done with Greensleeves, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It's so good, I am loving every page of it. This book was mentioned a few times in the comments of my Secret Books post, and I was so happy I found a copy, because it seems pretty hard to find. My mom (Grammie) actually met Eloise and owned signed copies of her books. Who knew? Grammie was a newspaper reporter and editor, and so was her mom, so it's hard to keep track of all the Portland people they all knew over the years. She didn't have a copy of this book, however. I found one at good ol' Powelll's books.
This morning I had my figs with ricotta, honey and pistachios. Delicious. I love this combination so much, but searching for fig recipes on Pinterest has given me many other ideas.
Some random links:
We are in full summer mode in Portland now, with lots of hot days and we are feeling it! We have no AC. We live in the shade, so it's not so bad, and I love actually feeling the seasons. This is what I tell myself at 6pm and it's not possible to think about cooking and I'm starting to have a mommy moment.
These internet items are making me so happy:
We are learning about the Brontë sisters right now and one of our favorite aspects of their lives are the imaginary worlds they created—complete with handmade books. Very, very small books. I jumped out of my chair when I happen to read, on the internet (but I don't remember where) that many of these books were scanned and are available to print. I printed them immediately. They were a hassle to print, they are enlarged, so you can read them, but to print them at the actual scale they were written (impossibly small) they need to be reduced. I fussed around for a long time wasting paper until I got them close enough. This one is 11 pages, the front and back cover are printed at 12%, the inside pages at 17%. This makes them almost the original size, just about 2" tall. I love the internet! The girls freaked out when I showed it to them. They never thought they would see what one of these books looked like. It's a little piece of magic. This one is by Charlotte, she wrote it as a child, and it's just amazing. I asked the girls if they wanted it printed larger so we could read it easier and they were adamant it be printed the size she wrote it. Here's another article about them. The link to the PDF of this book, and others, is at the end of this article.
We are are skimming Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, (we can revisit these and read them all the way through in a few years) and learning a lot about the lives of Charlotte and Jane. We are really enjoying the book, Always Emily, which is a great read, especially after studying so much about the Brontë family. We like the Crash Course on Jane Eyre, too.
Lydia had a blast at her week-long day camp at Trackers Earth last month. She promptly taught her two older sisters how to finger knit. She learned a few other things, too. She milked a goat, made cheese and butter, and "picked up chickens and did animal stuff." The finger knitting has been very popular and kept the girls busy. I don't even know how to do this, I need her to show me how. They all know how to knit with needles, but this has been really fun for them. They like to make longs scarves, for dolls and themselves, and I think there is a rug being started, but I am not sure. What a great way to use up yarn from my stash!
Sadie is very into stats and lists filled with lots of characters and detailed information. She has made her own trading cards and they are so creative and have such a wonderful handmade charm, I was almost reluctant to show her this very handy and easy to use Trading Card Creator. It's pretty great and she is very interested. I like that there are different questions to fill in based on what you choose to make the card for— people (real or fictional) places, events, concepts, or totally custom. They are easy to print, and are double sided with more room for information on the back. This makes her happy, because even though she has microscopic and tidy handwriting, the typing allows her to fit in even more information. And it is free, along with other good resources and ideas on this site, ReadWriteThink. This will be really fun to use for our themes, too. We are working on Brontë Trading Cards now. Hooray internet! Lydia wants to make some Goat Trading Cards, which will obviously be amazing.
I'm sending a big warm and fuzzy internet hugs to all of you who told me of your secret books. I was blown away, and got really emotional about it. I'm working on an art piece now, using all the covers I could find printed very small. It was so amazing to read about all your secret books, most of which are new to me. Thank you so much! I put the whole list on Goodreads (a great place to easily see all the covers) but can't figure out how to make that shelf public yet. If I can I will export the list of all the titles so I can post them all here.
We got some babysitting last sunday (thanks grammie!) and drove to SE Division and parked and just walked around. There are so many restaurants there we figured someplace would have a table. The American Local was right ahead and I had remembered that some very trust worthy foodie friends had given this place a bigs thumbs up. We agreed wholeheartedly. Fresh, simple, but unexpected. Here's the dinner menu.
This is a photo of the cumin roasted carrots/avocado/yogurt/cilantro/sunflower seeds and the fry bread/sheep’s milk cheese/mushrooms/herbs. They both were delicious. I want to try everything. It's all meant for sharing, which is my favorite way to eat. We ordered more, but the I was too busy eating to take photos. I can't say enough how much I loved this place.
Here's the banana hazelnut cake. It came chilled in a weck jar. Come on!
We finally got some more bookshelves in the living room. I keep trying to get a handle on our books, but it's hard. I'm not even going to discuss my craft/sewing book collection right now.
With the extra room, I was able to take these out— my childhood copies of "The Dark Is Rising" series by Susan Cooper. They were my all time favorite. I started them in 5th and read them repeatedly until 8th grade, always starting "The Dark is Rising" in the fall. Later, I only found one other kid who knew about them. They were my secret and I felt like they were written just for me. I had never heard of them and bought them on my own. I actually remember the bookstore I got them in (no longer around, a shop in John's Landing in the 1980s) and went back to buy each book in the series. My memory of this experience is so unlike the world of Harry Potter and other books for kids right now, where they seem to seep into our collective consciousness and have big marketing behind them. That can be fun too, but it is powerful to have a series, or even just one book, that feels like your own secret, even if it's actually not. Of course, it's much better for the author if it's not a secret. You know what I mean.
These books are well loved but not in the best shape. I have tried to read them to my girls and they have not taken to them. Yet. But I'm not giving up, I'm just trying to be casual about it. Even if they don't ever dig them, I think it's important for them to know what books meant a lot to me growing up. I plan to torture them with my college albums soon as well. While looking for new copies of these I kind of freaked out. I saw the edition that Folio Society has and the artwork looks amazing. With slipcovers! I never loved these original covers and I always wished they were a complete set—the first one is a different publisher. Did anyone else read these? I need to re-read them. I remember them being magical and epic, as well as humorless and mildly boring. In a good way. I learned a lot of Welsh from them, I remember that. Did you all have secret books no one else seemed to know about? Please share! I love hearing about this kind of stuff.
For Lydia's 7th birthday, I needed a easy outdoor craft. And hooray for pinterest, I found this tutorial on dyeing fabric with sharpie pens. These turned out great and the girls loved making them.
What we used:
How we did it:
I had the kids draw a design with sharpie first, repetitive images and patterns worked best. They did this flat on the table onto the fabric directly, outside, because this project is stinky and there is much stain potential. A drop cloth was mandatory. Then we placed the fabric in the hoops, tightened them up, and stared dripping drops of rubbing alcohol with droppers (a brush worked, too) and let the colors bleed together. This was the fun part. Dripping the alcohol while the fabric is in the hoop keeps the pieces from back-staining and up off the table.
We let them dry while doing a scavenger hunt and then trimmed off the extra fabric from the back, tied them with yarn, and they took them home as party favors.
My in-the-know foodie guru was showing photos of her meal at Cheese and Crack Snack Shop and I was so intrigued. What is this, on a metal tray? Measuring spoons of marionberry jam, fromage blanc, chocolate ganache, dijon mustard, honey with a slice of blue cheese some olives and cornichons and two kinds of homemade crackers? I had to find out and It was the best best meal I have had in a long time. It's the perfect food for me—I'ma snacky kind of eater, and it was very filling. It makes me want to raid my fridge in a different way.
When I was little my Dad used to make us snack plates with cheese, crackers, and little meats, and it was always our favorite. Looking back, I see it was a desperate action on his part to feed us when we were out of everything else or no one was up for cooking, but to us, it was dinner heaven. My brother and I still prefer to make small sandwiches or customize little meals as we eat them. My biggest stresser eating these snacks was figuring out if I wanted this meal to lean more sweet than savory. The menu is very interesting and I will have to do more research there for sure. Everthing looks so good.
Every year we have a big 4th of July party with my extended family and this year my Aunt gave us three shirts to decorate for a group photo she wants to take of all the kid cousins. These were so fun and easy to make. She made them for our little boy cousins, all they had to do was press their blue-painted hand on the shirt. I think she painted the stripes for them. Having the different sized hands on the shirts is pretty cute. For ours, the girls did them all on their own. They did some t-shirt altering first—cropped the length, cut off the neck, and shortened the sleeves. Done, with dance poses, no less!
We lucked out with the weather last week at the Oregon coast. We stopped at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, which was so picturesque and interesting. They have an interpretive center and a guided lighthouse tour which was excellent. On Agate beach nearby, the dunes were forming which is always fun. The pug was very excited by the dunes. I got a bee in a bonnet about making crafts from collected driftwood. The girls liked this project in theory, but in reality, they were busy running around and digging in the sand. Liddy made this frame with simple thread wrapping. I used string and a small hand drill for mine.
We were trying to list all the books we read aloud as a family in the last year and couldn't believe how many there were—and how many we forgot. We also tried to list the ones we listened to as audio books. All the girls read their own books, but we always have one (or two) books we are reading aloud or listening to as a family.
We wait until the timing is right for everyone, so no one misses out on the story. Sometimes these are library books, but I try to buy them eventually because the girls go to them repeatedly to read by themselves. I bought the box set of the Percy Jackson series after listening to them, just so they could go back and read them on their own, which they do. They really get into them, sometimes for months. They let these stories, vocabulary, and worlds envelop them in a way that is magical and allows them to go so deep. It makes me happy to see them go back to something over and over again. I need to fight my natural urge to throw new things at them every day. (This is especially true for math. They learn so much when they hang-out and revsit what we did last year, when it's no longer hard, but just a puzzle. That's when it all clicks for them.)
We decided to customize a notebook, with room for notes and comments by anyone who cares to add any, to keep track of these books. We printed out all the book covers (or audio book covers) we could remember from the last year. We made sure there was room to write on each page, or kept a blank page in-between.
We read this book when we were in Hawaii last year, they reminded me. They enjoy looking through it and discussing the books and what they remember. Then they go looking for the actual books on our shelves—or under beds, crammed in corners, or tossed under sofa cushions. The older girls are in charge of maintaining this, they love printing out the covers and gluing them in.
This one is from our Family Library. We also read To Kill a Mocking Bird this year, which was a questionable choice on my part for all 3 girls. There's some very heavy themes in that book that required some quick edits I needed to make for my youngest. Later, I went back to re-read these parts with just the older girls. They really loved that book.
We have many more in here, like all seven Harry Potters, which is so satisfying.
Occasionally, I like to get a vietnamese iced coffee. It's usually too sweet for me so I have to be in the right mood and also willing to pay $3.99 for them. I find this irksome because that's more than the Bánh mì sandwiches are I eat when drinking this usually too-sweet beverage.
The internet told me all kinds of things about making this at home. Which coffees to use, which condensed milk to buy, and what type of pour-over filter to get. Also, it explained the difference between Vietnamese and Thai iced coffee, which doesn't explain why I dislike Thai iced coffee so much*—they are very similar, so I'm thinking it's just too sweet. I bought this can of coffee at Uwajimaya, displayed on an endbase, along with quite a few interesting coffee drink type beverages, and bought sweetened condensed milk. I did not buy the special filter. We have so many coffee/espresso contraptions in the house I couldn't justify purchasing another one until I tried one we already have, so I used our stove-top espresso percolator.
The result is fantastic. This is a dear friend drinking my concoction, and wearing stellar nail polish and a lovely blouse. She declared it very good.
*My own search feature scares me sometimes. My blog is an interesting archive of my brain and it's predictable loops. Along with enthusiastic misinformation (Jade Teahouse serves Vietnamese iced coffee that I raved about, not Thai, because um, they are a Vietnamese cafe. What? I am insane. Also, I had no memory of ever researching this all before, which I did, albeit Thai iced coffee, but it was 5 years ago, so that's better than last year, right? Whateves.)
We were inspired to make some blanks books and fill them with poems after learning that Emily Dickinson would take notes throughout the day and then later, copy her poems onto small pieces of paper. She would then sew these into simple soft cover books. The girls loved the idea of having a small stack of books they could tie up with string and tuck away somewhere special. We used blank paper inside and newsprint for the covers. The girls copied some of their favorite poems of hers into the books and added their own. The almost 7-year-old copied a short one. So sweet.
Related to this, we have gotten into bookbinding and are learning to make one style of book a week. Usually on Fridays. I try for a simple style, one that we can finish in one sitting, but the older girls are also interested in more complicated bookmaking, too. So far, were are working with non-adhesive book binding—lots of folding and sewing. Instant books, accordion books, (mini modular origami) and that kind.
Delia mentioned she wanted to make a book with a leather over, all Hobbit style, with a coptic binding and all that, which I know how to do, but it's been a while, so I looked around and found not only a wonderful tutorial for making a leather journal, exactly the kind she wants to make, but a plethora of professional and easy-to-follow bookbinding tutorials over at Sea Lemon, on you tube. They are so good!
This one here is great for showing a simple saddle-stitch binding. It uses up a single spiral notebook to make 4 smaller ones. Here's a link directly to her bookmaking project videos, she has even more, but this is a good place to start. I am really excited to have found her videos.
She also has a whole lot of craft projects, too. We already made a mess with the homemade slime. Lava lamps are up next.
We just returned from an amazing week on Orcas Island, in Washington. It's not all that far from Portland, but a lot of travel time. A drive from Portland to Anacortes, then an hour ferry ride. We didn't miss the ferry in either direction. If you drive on, they fill up fast, so they are easy to miss, which can set you back hours. We stayed over a night north of Seattle to break it up and also stop at the American Girl store.
We stayed in a house about 4 minutes from Moran State park, which was a nature Disneyland. Lakes and hikes, camping and falls, and then more hikes. It was breathtaking. The weather was perfect the whole week, sunny and no rain. Orcas Island is really down to earth. It's a resort town and that's in it's history, but it isn't kitschy or tacky at all. For local people, it's more like Manzanita, not like Seaside.
In town, Eastsound, we found an amazing bookshop, Darville's Bookstore, delicious chocolates, Kathryn Taylor Chocolates and a bakery, Brown Bear Bakery that made me cry a little it was so good. There was a brand new furniture shop (it was open air, and just stunning) with amazing pieces made from local wood— Orcas Workshop. The Orcas Island Historical Museum was excellent, and they had a local vintage quit show up that was very moving, with researched information about the quilters.
We sea kayaked (all 5 of us) at Deer harbor—we loved our Shearwater guides, they were a great company to work with. We saw 3 herons, a harbor seal, and 2 eagles.
I could have posted about 100 more photos. It was such a great place for a family vacation. I think in the summer it gets pretty busy and the ferries can be a nightmare, but off season, like now and fall, it's idyllic. It was so beautiful and calm and relaxing yet exciting I felt like were were in a movie version of a vacation. Like the deer in our from yard eating mushroom was fake. But it wasn't. The girls found sea glass and are planning to make jewelry from it.
This island is so well documented, history wise, it made learning really fun. There are some fabulous old structures still standing, lots of historical photos and books about Orcas, and all the hikes and the state parks had lots of posted information about the local plants, wildlife and habitat, and there's a large amount of history on the construction of Moran State Park which was built during the 1930s.
This last photo documents how weird it gets on roads trips on the way home. Pete ate it, and said it was good.
Crack-ups and chaos were the theme when we performed a play of Greek Mythology stories before we moved on to our next learning topic, Emily Dickinson. Greek Mythology was a big subject for all of us. We stayed on it a long time, 3 months. It just never seemed to fizzle out. This is what I love about learning at home, we don't have to move on before we are ready, we can really run with a topic as long as we want, and conversely, move on if a theme isn't super engaging for us. Along with learning Greek myths and arts and culture, we read all the Percy Jackson books and are onto The Heroes of Olympus now. We are listening to these on audio, and I think they are perfect for this. Unlike the Harry Potter books, these have vocabulary and plots that are simpler, so I dont' feel the need to stop and discuss as much, which is hard in an audio book.
The plays we performed we adapted from our favorite Greek Mythology Book that I blogged about, using the comics as the script with a narrator on the side. It was so funny. Props were made, the two pugs were in every scene and my brother was a featured performer as both Zeus and Hades (with a little of Hagrid and Eddie Van Halen mixed in.) Grammie narrated and we all took turns in the audience. We performed Pandora's Box, The Capture of Persephone, and Arachne Gets a Big Head (also starring Athena), each girl getting a lead part and choosing what stories they wanted to perform.
Here we have from left Hades, Persephone, a small Pandora, Demeter, Hermes, and a Deadkins (an Underworld helper of Hades. She also played Arachne) and the Pugs were a two-headed Cerberus.
I got the Sajou catalog and have been poring over it with lots of sighs and oohs. I received a few items for my birthday, a tape measure and a needlebox—both of these are so nicely made. The boxes they come packed in are lovely.
I was looking online for some information about Emily Dickinson and found a short analysis of her work by Crash Course. It was a bit advanced for the girls but enlightening to me, and the girls liked it a whole lot despite not quite understanding all of it. There are a ton of videos by Crash Course. A whole bunch. I haven't seen very many, but what I have seen I really like. Again, I think they are a bit advanced for all 3 girls (6, 9, 11) but they are great for me and I am surprised at what they enjoy. I watch them all first alone, to get a sense of what topics come up, especially for the 6-year-old. They are jam-packed and move very fast because they are only about 11 minutes. I often pause the video to explain subjects before moving on. I'm pretty excited to watch more, especially the US history ones.
I do feel a little like I've been under a rock, here. These courses are made by John and Hank Green and I had never heard of either of them. After typing their names into google, I see they are famous and John Green is hugely famous. He's a New York Times best selling author, (YA books) and I now realize I have seen his book cover in every store I have been in the last year or so. I sure like his content in these videos. I am very curious about his books. I haven't watched any videos with Hank yet. I'm out of it! But I can tell you all about hand-dyed thread and the Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch.
For Mother's Day (and again for my birthday) I received some chocolate from Pete. He bought them at Cacao in Portland, a wonderful little shop selling fancy chocolate bars and delicious drinking chocolate. I loved everything shown here. I am a huge fan of dark chocolate but find most of it too chalky. I like the taste, but not the texture. These are all so smooth and wonderful to eat—the Patric being my favorite. It is so sophisticated and has so many flavors in one bite. I just loved it. He talked with the sales folks quite a bit and they told him these were all delicious and they were right.
I finished the kit from Tristan Brooks Designs a bit back and have it up on our needlework wall. It was a great project. I have since started another crewel work project and then got agitated and took a break from it. I was using different wool thread and fabric than what I had used in the two kits and the materials are vexing me. I don't think I will scrap it, but I do need to give it a rest. I am now onto a new cross-stitch project and it's going well.
Sadie finished her first Calendar Girl from Little House Needleworks.
She collects these patterns and I wasn't sure if she'd be up for doing a project with this many stitches, but she went for it. There was some frustration but she stuck it out and I'm so proud of her. And she is of herself. She keeps saying she can't believe she finished it. She has since finished two quick and small projects to avoid burnout. I'm not sure if she will do another calendar girl, now that she realizes how long they take.
My mind kind of broke (again) in researching samplers. I discovered darning samplers, which I never knew existed and I can't even look at the pinterest board I found for more than 5 minutes before I get overwhelmed. I haven't even scrolled down to see what is on there, I'm still stuck on the top few rows.
On the sidelines
A Ghostbuster with Slime
A pug as a Tauntaun
A small Minion
We went to the Oregon Humane Society 2014 Pug Crawl last weekend and it was amazing. The costume theme this year was Comic Con. Angie (our pug) and Toaster (my mom's pug) went for simple matching capes in fake fur with red initials. All the above photos are from the Crawl. There were easily over 100 pugs there. They all had the same look on their face and were not too excited by the rain. There were only 2 barking pugs, and somehow one of them was not Toaster. We had to leave before we could do the crawl— torrential rain, thunder, and the threat of lightning was too much so we ran to the nearest cafe for hot cocoa and laughed at this great link from my mom, which I now can't find but is similar to this one, which is also very funny—35 naughtiest dogs.
It was such a fun time seeing Grammie (my mom) show off her quilts to family and friends at Modern Domestic yesterday. The sun came out and so many people came to see her work. She realized, when thinking about it, that over the years she has probably made over 200 quilts. None of these were for sale, they were made for family friends, babies, herself—just for the love of making quilts. There are about 12 in this show, such a small sampling.
Here's Grammie in the pink sweater with a dear friend, a woman who I have known all my life. You can see an amazing quilt of grammies behind them. The one thing people kept remarking on, besides her amazing piecing skills and choice of colors—is how much her machine quilting adds texture and dimension to her quilts. They are so amazing in person, a photo just can't show the level of detail.
This one in the forground is a log cabin made of 1/2" strips. The machine quilting on it takes it to a whole other level, it's hard to even see that it's a log cabin until you are up close.
The quilts are going to be up a few more weeks, so please take a look if you are in the neighborhood. And thanks to all my ladies and friends who came to hang out and hear Grammie say funny stuff, she didn't disappoint! We love you, Grammie!
Grammie has been quilting for so long, for herself and professionally, and this is her first show. She has showered her family and loved ones with quilts over the years—my daughters, my brother, my husband, my grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, we all have quilts that have been made by her hands and they are all so special to us. I think she will have about 10 quilts in this show, a fraction of what she has done over the years. She has pieced and machine stitched all of these. There are probably are some quilts with appliqué and hand-quilting in this show, too. All of the work done by her. I couldn't be more proud. Her show is at:
1408 NE Alberta Street, Portland
The reception is from 1-3, Saturday May 17th
Grammie and I will be there with cookies and inappropriate jokes. Please come by and say hi!
Cosmic craft stars are aligning! At Collage (across the street) my friend and fellow Creativebug instructor Courtney Cerruti will be teaching a workshop from 2-5 on the same day as Grammie's reception, you can catch both events! Creative Correspondence -- Combining Image Transfer + Washi Tape to Create Mail Art & Small Original Works with Courtney Cerruti.
After countless readings of the Greek Mythology book by Michael Townsend, we bought Where Do Presidents Come From?: And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance.
I can't say enough great things about his books. They are so funny, absurd, and dry. The 11 and 9-year-old understand all the humor and information completely and the almost 7-year-old just loves the the hamsters and bunnies. It's not just about presidents, it's about the whole presidential process—what presidents actually do, how they are elected, and the history behind all that. It's got so much information with dinosaurs thrown in. I am sure crossing my fingers he writes more of these.
Unrelated: I made super easy and fast dinner last night— shrimp with whole-wheat couscous and 3 out of 5 of us liked it a whole lot! (2 adults and one kid.)
I started another crewel kit I found in my stash of supplies. This one has been so much fun. It's made by Tristian Brooks Designs and it comes with everything you need except the hoop. I love being able to use different threads. For my first kit I used Appleton thread, which I liked, but hadn't used anything else to compare it to. This kit comes with Heathway crewel wools, Gumnut Poppies (silk/wool blend), and Pearsall’s silk. I have been pretty immersed in reading and learning about threads, fabrics, and stitches for crewel. I also have been assessing my thread stash and needlework organization and wanting to clean up and clear out and display some items that are so lovely to look at.
Two days ago I had what my Mom calls a "Hello Kitty freak-out" when I rediscovered the Sajou webite. I had known about Sajou and bought (from a now closed needlework shop) a really amazing book by the historical company years ago, but hadn't really gone back to look at what they had in they last few years, and when I did my brain kind of exploded.
The complete catalog is online and there looks to be a few distributors in the US that carry some of these items. The sewing boxes got me all twitchy as did the scissors, ribbons, wooden supplies, and thread holders. I don't even know what to buy, I just had to look at the catalog for hours. This is what my mom was talking about. When I did have my "Hello Kitty freak-out" I was about 9 and found a Hello Kitty store and couldn't believe my eyes. I didn't actually buy anything, I just had to look. For hours. And she let me. She just sat and waited, telling me there was no hurry. I finally calmed down, and then left, empty handed and exhausted. She didn't say a word and was amazing.
Oh, this is turning into an unexpected Mother's Day post!
Speaking of my wonderful Mom, (Gayle Karol of Tilie Studio fame and known as Grammie on this blog) she is having a quilt show at Modern Domestic and the opening reception is next Saturday May 17th from 1-3. I will write about this more soon. I can't wait. Her quilts are so stunning in person.
We had 3 amazing days last week, one was in the low 90˚s and the other two were in the 80˚s and the town went crazy. Now we are back to rain and the mid 60˚s and have forgotten all about it. I wore head to toe wool yesterday.
I finished my first crewel work project a few weeks ago and I have fallen hard for this type of embroidery. This kit is by The Crewelwork Company. It's called Secret Squirrel, and sadly, is hard to find and not made anymore, but some shops still have it. I bought it a long time ago and tucked it away and then a swift 6 years went by and rediscovered it along with quite a bit of other needlework items I bought around that time. My favorite shop went out of business and I bought everything I could, knowing I would be happy later I did, and I sure am.
Here's a close up. The color is a bit off, the color above is much more accurate.
I feel like I am in a race car stitching crewel compared to cross-stitch and needlepoint on canvas and the painter in me is giddy over the ability to mix color and directions and make marks with the threads. It's so much fun. I have started another kit and then I am onto my own designs. I really am happy I am taking the time to work from kits now, to get a sense of color, learning different stitches, and working on precision without have to make design decisions along the way—but I already have drawn my own designs and they are waiting in the wings. The amount of research about fabric, wool threads, and browsing the vast amount of amazing books about crewel has been so fun to dive into. I have to be careful and back away from the computer, because you know, I could also be stitching instead of researching. I have been looking at books over at The Mad Samplar, and reading about crewel technique over at Needle n' Thread.
On the opposite side of this type of work, I have been madly stitching for the girls' ballet recital coming up, Alice in Wonderland, and it's been a lot of sheers, feathers, fake furs, hat making, glue gunning, serging, and tons of fast, furious, and loud sewing. So, my embroidery will have to be on hold for a couple weeks.
I was told to watch Mortified Nation on instant netflix (thanks sarah!) and oh, man, it's so good. It remnds me of This American Life, at it's most cringy. In the best way.
I have known Blair Stocker a long time, since our earliest days of blogging, and am so happy to have receieved a review copy of Wise Craft: Turning Thrift Store Finds, Fabric Scraps, and Natural Objects Into Stuff You Love. Blair's blog, wise craft has always been a great source of inspiration and this book has all that wise craft love in it. She has a great eye and knows how to have fun with creating, which I really appreciate.
This project will have me crocheting. I mean it.
Blair is so good at using found/thrifted items in her projects.
The chapters are by seasons, which I love. I wish more craft books did this, it works so well in cookbooks, it's genius to have a craft book organized this way. This is the Spring chapter. So minimal and pretty but not too serious—that's wise craft all the way.
And becasue Halloween is my favorite holiday, I zoned right in on her fall projects and love them to death.
Zombie barbies. I don't need to say anything else.
Of all the blog people I have met over the years, and I am so happy to have met so many, Blair is probably the funniest. I mean, crazy, stand-up comedian style funny. I wish she lived in Portland, but I shouldn't complain because Seattle isn't that far, really.
Delia finished her first needlepoint recently. She was happy doing cross stitch but when she saw me try needlepoint, she was eager to start. She chose this pattern from a book and picked out her own colors, and off she went. She's now back onto another cross stitch project and heavy into making rainbow loom charms. She learns them from this you tube channel, Made by Mommy.
I recently went to Frice Pastry, an amazing bakery new to me, and was so happy I made the stop. I found quite a round up Portland bakeries over at Under the Table with Jen. I am glad to see I've been to almost all of them, but there's a few I still need to check out. Research! It's a great list.
I ate this at Frice and took home many other items. This was so amazing, but I can't remember the name of it. I bought another to take home to Pete. It's got an almond filling with a puff- pastry crust. it's not too sweet and the texture is as light as air.
We spontaneously made some chocolate cereal nests yesterday. I had 3/4 of a box of very unpopular shredded wheat cereal, unsweetened, and didn't want to get rid of it, so I melted a bag of chocolate chips and stirred it all up. I had made these before years ago and it was fun, but kind of a mess and hard to shape. These were so much easier and fun to make.
I used the food processor to make the cereal fine and crossed my fingers that one bag of melted chocolate chips was enough for about 3/4 of a box of finely chopped cereal. After a lot of stirring, it was just fine. Adding shredded coconut to the mix would have been good, too.
For shaping, we used cupcake liners in a tin. I had the girls scoop in the mixture, press with their fingers to make a little indent, and then chilled them until they firmed up. They keep fine room temperature after that. This amount made 12 nests in a standard muffin tin. They make the nests a bit more uniform and less natural, but were so much easier to handle and shape. The paper came off just fine and they are so tasty.
I have taken a break from my shawl (pattern and yarn here) to start on a crewel work project and am having so much fun. More needlework excitement! I have been buying/collecting/ needlework kits and books of all kinds for years now and only recently have been able to dive in. I have been shopping in my own closet and bins and can't believe what I have stashed away that I had forgotten about. My tastes don't really change at all, so what I have found, I love. I am so happy I snatched things up when I saw them on sale years ago.
We went to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm over the weekend and the tulip fields were amazing.
There were plenty of other activities as well. You can go just for the tulips (parking is $10) but everything else—the food and activities, add up real fast. Zip lines, paintball archery, rock climbing, and this crazy jumping thing. The hippie in me wanted a little less of all this extreme un-tulip like activity and a little more nature craft, but the girls had a blast. Watching people totally eat it on the the mechanical bull was very funny.
Angie thought it was lovely.
I finished my first needlepoint project and am so happy with how it turned out. I used a pattern from this book and just stitched until it felt done. The frame is 8" x 8" and the mat opening is 5" x 5". This is stitched in hand-dyed silk. Next up will be my first crewel work project. I'm really excited.
Here's how our needlework wall is looking. I'm prepared for the fact that the girls might want to have their pieces in their rooms eventually. For now, they are happy to have them up here, which I love. It's the first wall you see when you come in our house. All these pieces make me so happy.
more poem resources-
This was a quick knit made with malabrigo rasta. I used 17 needles and knit a big rib until I ran out of yarn and then seamed it up. It's a belated birthday gift for a dear friend who lives in a climate that is too warm for this right now. But, you know, It was so fun to work on. Mindless and huge. It was a nice change from my needlepoint that is tiny and a bit eye straining.
It's poetry month!
We have been reading a lot more poetry around here the last few weeks, and I didn't even know poetry month was coming up. Recently, the girls and I have been reading these wonderful postcards from MIEL evey morning, discussing the artwork and the text written on them. There is something magical about the words not being in a book, but on a cards, to pass around and study closely. I show some photos of these postcards here. We also still use this book.They want to write some poems on small cards and leave them in public places, which I fully support.
I found myself spending a lot of time on Poets.org. It's a huge site for writers, readers, and educators. I signed up for the poem-a-day (which is e-mailed to me) and I love it. It sends me poems I would have never found on my own.
I thought it would be fun to do some drawing with the girls using only charcoal so I rummaged in my old drawing box and found some teeny tiny bits of vine and compressed charcoal that I had from about 20 years ago. They did the trick but I need to get some more. I had them draw with the charcoal only, using the sides and the tips and just filling up newsprint with different types of lines and marks, so they could see what the medium can do and how different it is from crayon and pencil. Then I had them smear with their fingers, cotton swabs, and tissue, and then erase to add white, highlights, and clean-up around the edges. We fixed them with hairspray and I was instantly transported back to drawing class—that chalky feeling on my fingers and black smudges on my face.
They weren't quite prepared for how messy charcoal drawing is and kept wanting to wash their hands in the middle, but I told them not to bother, and to use the extra charcoal on their fingers draw with. I could see them sort of click over into art mode and forget about the mess and just create. It was very cool. They were so proud of what they drew.
I would love to make some vine charcoal, has anyone done this? I didn't in school mostly because I preferred compressed charcoal because it can really go black, vine always left me wanting more. Regardless, I think it would be so fun to make some homemade vine charcoal, other than just burning the end of a stick and drawing with that.
Pete and I saw the Grand Budapest Hotel last night and were thoroughly entertained. The images, especially in the first 10 minutes, were so beautiful. I wanted these images up around me all the time, so I printed out my own postcards on matte photo paper to put up around my desk. Google images has a ton of lovely stills from the movie, including this amazing grouping of ephemera which has me all excited. I opted not to print a postcard of Harvey Keitel's excellent tattoos, although Pete wanted me to.
Hotel related—I laughed out loud when I saw the videos at the end of The Rumpus Interview with Jacob Tomsky. They are at the bottom of the interview. I haven't read his book, Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality, but it's on my list and it looks really good in that cringe-y way. When I was doing commercial interior design I worked on a lot of hotels and heard a lot of crazy stuff from the managers, and even crazier stories from the staff. I almost don't want to read this.
Delia wanted to make some fire starters. She remembered that it was a skill on DIY she could earn and is always looking for a reason to play with fire or melted wax, which is understandable to me. I was sort of a firebug, too. There are so many recipes and methods for making these. We read a few recipes and then just used what we had around on hand and what seemed safe to burn.
She gathered newspaper and dryer lint. She busted out the cutest elephant paper shredder in the world to shred it. I got this for the girls a few years ago on a whim and they love it and use it all the time. So do I.
Then she poured in melted soy wax that we had left over from our candle making. I love soy wax so much.
She wrapped them in wax paper to make an easy wick for lighting. Also, it makes them look like little candies, which she finds very pleasing. We used these in the fireplace, and they worked—but we learned a lot. Using a lot of wax is fun and pretty, but it just melts like crazy and covers too much of the material inside, so it didn't burn right away. Next time less wax would be better. Or, just using the egg carton method, but she said they weren't as cute. I understand.
Once the wax melted away and the paper finally ignited these worked great. There are many recipes for these out there, most of which seem great, some I'd worry about breathing in the fumes of what they were burning, so I feel good about these we made. Next, I want to make a tinderbox from an altoid tin, like I saw demonstrated at Fort Clatsop. Also, I really want to put together this Altoids Survival Kit 2.0.