Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Pysanky with natural dyes

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Last evening, I participated in a pysanky workshop hosted by the Kosa Kolektiv using all natural dyes. The dyes were made from tumeric, onion leaves, walnut, red cabbage, and beets.

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The design is created by applying a heated beeswax.  The tool for applying the wax is called a kitsa.   After the design is applied, the eggs is submerged.  Natural dyes take longer to adhere than commercial dyes and the intensity of the dye is far less opaque.

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After the egg is dyed, the beeswax is removed  by rubbing the egg with oil and then heating the surface of the egg with a candle.

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The instructors brought in so many beautiful examples of their pysanky.  Some of the eggs were etched with a vinegar solution – you can see the texture in the egg below.

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I have not mastered applying the beeswax so the design of my eggs was (ahem) simple compared to the inspiration eggs. I definitely need more practice. 

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I recently found the eggs, below, at a thrift shop. They are wooden eggs.  When Michaels was having a sale I picked up at least a dozen unpainted wooden eggs. I think my next pysanky attempt will be using wooden eggs (mistakes can be easily repainted!).

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Thanks for stopping by and for those celebrating, I wish you a joyous Easter and Passover celebrations!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Cartoon Love: Charles Schulz Museum

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When we were in California over March Break, we had a chance to visit the Charles Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.  Lily has been involved in a “quiet cartooning club” this school year and loves graphic / cartoon novels so I was glad we could include a visit to this gem of a museum.

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This amazing mural is created by Yoshiteru Otani. It is composed of 3,588 ceramic tiles of cartoon strips published between 1956 to 1988. The cartoon tiles are placed in such a way that the dark cells compose the secondary football scene.

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Below, you can see a close up of the tiles as found in the restrooms.

IMG_8127 The museum has an excellent collection of Peanuts memorabilia and history of Schulz’s influences.

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Schulz’s studio has been recreated, below:

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Upstairs, is a large studio and educational centre. Children are encouraged to work on cartoon strips and this month’s project: cute dog house origami, pictured below.

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IMG_8162 IMG_8163 Next to the museum is an ice rink “Snoopy’s Home Ice” (above right) and a well stocked gift shop. The shop stocks a number of interesting items from Japan and a fabulous selection of all things Peanuts-related, including t-shirts, fabric, banners, and even a sewing machine.

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At the museum, I picked up this catalog from amp! comics “Teaching With Comics” (a guide for parents, teachers, and librarians).  There are a number of new titles being released in 2015, including Woodstock: Master of Disguise in late April.  In addition, the new Peanuts movie will be released in November 2015 (!)snoopyamp snoopyamp2

It is a great museum to visit - especially if you are a Peanuts lover and/or a budding cartoonist. 

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Have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Calistoga, Napa Valley

IMG_1780March Break is over and regular school routines will resume tomorrow - accompanied by an extreme cold alert and freezing temperatures.  I started sorting through our vacation photos and I thought I would post about our overnight excursion to Napa.  We had sunshine for our entire visit to the Bay area.  I always like to plan a getaway out of the city and this time we planned an overnight visit to Napa and stayed at the Indian Springs mineral baths.   The Indian Springs resort has these fun Public bikes for guests to enjoy -   a sweet ride!
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Below are the pools.  The large mineral pool was built in 1913. It is Olympic size and family friendly - the girls even made some new friends.  The pool is heated to 92-102F . The bottom photo is the adult only pool which is heated to the 80s.
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Down the main road, we made a quick stop to see the Geyser.  In the late afternoon, the geyser was erupting every four minutes. 
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Another fun activity was a visit to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.  We reserved a workshop (kids are free , adults $20) to learn about making gnocchi and ricotta cheese.  The Culinary Institute grounds are beautiful.  There is a bakery/cafe and a more formal restaurant. We had lunch in the cafe.  If you are a food enthusiast, I would recommend planning a visit.  There is also a shop stocked with many interesting culinary items (if you attend a workshop you will receive 10% off at the shop).
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Our final stop was to taste the famous Chardonnay at Chateau Montelena.  You may have seen the film Bottle Shock which made this winery famous.  The grounds are absolutely stunning.  I believe they will take picnic reservations if you plan your visit in advance.  The staff are very friendly. They gave the girls grape popsicles (cab sav – no ferment).
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Spring is a beautiful time to visit Napa. Two of my favourites -  the wisteria and the callas were in bloom everywhere.
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Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!